McBride, like several rail towns, was laid out by the Grand Trunk Pacific in a standard design with parks behind the station. This green space would be planted with flowers for the enjoyment of the railway passengers. The block between the station and the business district was a sea of mud. The simplest solution was to use a wheelbarrow and haul cinders and clinkers from the roundhouse to build a path through the mud. For many years, a coal-fired boiler in the roundhouse produced steam to heat the roundhouse and railway station and also generated McBride’s electricity. These cinders were cleaned out of the boiler manually. Surfacing a road or walkway with cinders was not uncommon at the time. Cinders were far less slippery and messy than mud and materials that would have been a waste product were utilized.
While the mud is now long gone, the cinder path, which is one of Northern BC’s oldest original sidewalks, still remains. Today, a portion between the station and second avenue has been preserved.
Photo: Valley Museum and Archives – 2008.08.01