In April of 1943, seven vehicles and their intrepid drivers caravanned the treacherous road from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to McBride and another four miles west to the end of the road at Adrian Monroe’s logging camp. Monroe had recently lost his mill by fire, and due to fuel and machinery shortages caused by World War II, easily accessible timber at Rocky Mountain House had become scarce, making the timber license in McBride appealing to the Lamming crew.
Oscar and Nellie Lamming, Ernie and Wilma Lamming and five more Seventh-Day Adventist families crowded into the little mill site houses, and Wilma’s parents, Marion and Myrtle McCarty lived in a tent for the summer. As soon as the mill was operational, employees built small houses on skids that could be moved to the new campsite near the railroad. By fall, a school had been built and a teacher hired.
In the next few years the small town grew until there were approximately 60 homes, bunkhouses with a cookhouse, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a community hall, mill office, Oscar’s museum, and a two room school. At its peak, more than 70 people were employed in the forest and mill. Gordon and Lola Lamming joined the group and started a mill at West Twin.
The Lamming brothers bought a considerable amount of farmland and built Valley View Dairy. They also invested in several businesses in McBride and were active in numerous boards including the School Board, Hospital Board, Farmer’s Institute and Chamber of Commerce.
While the forest and mill provided the employment, the heart of the community was the school and church. When the mill was sold in the late sixties, many families stayed on in the valley with other employment.
In 1977 and 1978, the new school and church were built in this location, and both have been enlarged recently. Today, the Robson Valley Junior Academy provides education from Kindergarten to grade 12. A long history continues of Dorcas, the Pathfinder Club, and Vacation Bible School. And always much music. Choir, band, orchestra, concerts, and many music lessons. The current membership is thankful for the courage and vision of those intrepid prairie folks who came through the mountains to a new home.
Top: Lamming Mills yard. Photo by Don Lamming.
Middle: Lamming Mills School, 1949. Valley Museum and Archives – Simanton Fonds.
Bottom: Lamming Mills Church, ca.1950’s. Valley Museum and Archives – Simanton Fonds.