Our Home video: a prophetic snapshot of Kimberley in 1984

Video narrated by Councillor McBain highlights the importance of transition from mining to tourism

A video entitled “This is my Home” has been making the rounds on social media and it just so happens to be narrated by a young Kimberley City Councillor Jason McBain. The video is a captivating time capsule of life in Kimberley as it was in 1984, and while there’s one major difference, there’s a lot of familiar aspects to the video as well.

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McBain was nine when the video was made, and he recalls that the video was a part of a project conducted by the B.C. government at the time, in which they chose several towns throughout the province to create educational videos for kids that highlighted what the main industries were in each town.

“I don’t know what the criteria for choosing the particular kids were as hosts, but I think it worked out for me in the fact that both my grandpa and my dad worked up at the mine,” McBain said. “I played hockey here in town, that kind of thing.”

He said when the film was completed they watched it in school and he became the “star of the day.” They also watched the other films from around B.C. that were shot with a similar duration and format, but highlighting different town with a different industry and backstory.

The video has many familiar images in it — people wearing toques revelling in the snow, enjoying the wildlife, and of course there’s plenty of skiing, hockey and dogs.

The video shows a fascinating, in-depth look into the mining industry of Kimberley in the ‘80s, how it all worked, and who was there doing the work.

“It’s funny, when I look at it, I think Kimberley has obviously changed; if you look at the scenes where you can see the Platzl and you can still see the creek running through the town and there’s little bridges and the Bavarian theme was still very prevalent, but at the same time it’s still distinctly Kimberley,” McBain said.

“It’s changed on some level but at the same time, all the kind of core values that we have here haven’t really changed a whole heck of a lot.”

The video also turned out to be quite prophetic.

“No one knows for sure how much lead and zinc are left in the mine, but Cominco says they may have to close the Sullivan mine in about 25 years. Grandpa says that without mining, this could easily become a ghost town,” the young McBain says in the video, after taking a tour of the abandoned crusher plant and where the miners used to enter the mine.

“But our city has a good chance of surviving if we can get more and more tourists to visit Kimberley,” McBain added.

“It’s pretty interesting how a lot of that stuff did come to fruition,” present-day McBain commented. “I mean obviously I was reading off of a script that was developed by other folks, I was only nine years old but, it was pretty spot on and what I thought is really cool is just the fact that the town did prepare, the town was ready.”

The Sullivan Mine closed in 2001, just over the 25 years Cominco predicted. Though McBain at that time was away playing hockey, he knew the transition wasn’t easy.

“I would come back and visit my folks and I know it was tough,” he said. “The transition was tough around the early 2000s when things were changing, but had Cominco, well Teck now, and the city not planned ahead I think times would have been a lot tougher, and the transition would have been a lot more difficult.”

McBain offered his kudos to everyone involved that knew the end was coming and put a plan in place to make sure the town would still be viable.

“It’s showing that it is. So great job by everybody involved to make sure that the town would keep going and really when you think of where we’re at now, we’re kind of thriving in a landscape that doesn’t have to rely on a big industry and that’s pretty amazing, it’s a pretty cool success story.”

People often tend to have a soft spot for nostalgic videos such as this that show a familiar place in a different point in history. Whether you’re new to Kimberley or were already a long-time resident back in 1984, it’s unquestionably interesting to gaze through a portal to the past.

However, what makes this video really special is that it shows Kimberley before the period of major transition, and that even though the city today is incredibly different on an economic and industrial level, its people endeavoured to survive and preserve the lifestyle we still enjoy in 2020.

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