|The original town of Three Valley was
located at the west end of Three Valley Lake. After completion of the
railway, Three Valley had it's modest start as a section house. In the
1890's a sawmill was built, and as a result, the town began to grow and
prosper. The population would peak well into the hundreds. The
sawmill burnt in 1913, and was not rebuilt, therefore, the town of Three
Valley quickly subsided.
Bell was born during the Great Depression and had seen many hungry,
unemployed people & families with no opportunities. He imagined
building a complex, sawmill, ranch or lodge, that would offer his family the
opportunity to work and live in a healthy environment.
Gordon married Ethel in 1953, and they
bought the lakeshore property at Three Valley in 1956. In 1961 Gordon
and Ethel Bell started the heritage town of Three Valley Gap. They had
seen the demise of French Creek, north of Revelstoke, which was a historic
town complete with artefacts. While others seemed unconcerned, the
loss of history bothered the Bell's and so they began to rescue what they
could, so future generations could enjoy and learn from the past.
The Craigellachie School built in 1902
was destined to be lost. The Bell's were able to save the building and
moved it to their heritage town. They also acquired the original
ledger covering all correspondence with the Provincial Government, all
dollars spent to build and operate the school from 1902 to 1908, and all of
the minutes from the school board meetings concerning the hiring and wages
of the teachers during that time. The Hotel Bellevue was located under the
Trans-Canada highway bridge at Sicamous, BC and had already been partially
destroyed by the construction of the bridge. By 1961, the hotel had
been vacant for 10 years. Gordon and Ethel were able to purchase the
hotel and most of the furnishings and artifacts, and moved the building
piece by piece to Three Valley Gap.
St. Stephen's Church was slated for
demolition so a new church could be built in Field, BC. The church is
rich in history as is the Reverend Thomas Murray who led the congregation
during the moving of the church from Donald to Field in 1902. Reverend
Murray walked from Field to Sicamous along the railway, ministering to
maintenance crews throughout the years in Field. In 1965, Gordon and
Ethel arrived just in time to purchase the church before it could be
There are similar stories on all of the
buildings which can be found in our souvenir booklet.
The Bell family is dedicated to
preserving and displaying as much history as possible.