The 2019 theme

"Celebrating Lister 100 Years"

Lister 100 Years

Lister 100 Year History

Lister, British Columbia is a small community in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, Canada. It is located 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Creston and is just north of the Canada-US border.

camp lister settlers
Camp Lister Settlers

Originally known as Camp Lister, it was established by Colonel Fred Lister after World War I as a soldier's settlement. Fred Lister later became the MLA for the Nelson-Creston riding. The community's name officially changed to Lister on November 29, 1984

COL. FRED LISTER

Col. Fred Lister

Lister was established, in June 1919, as a settlement for approximately 90 soldiers returning from the Great War. About 7,000 acres of logged-off land were purchased, divided up into 20-acre lots, and sold to the soldiers. Five acres of each lot were cleared, with the rest to be done by the settlers themselves. Until the clearing was done, the settlers with families lived in “Snake Alley” – a cluster of small shacks near the camp headquarters. There were a cookhouse and a communal dining room, and bunk houses for the single men. Office staff included an accountant and an assistant, as well as superintendent Col. Fred Lister, who were kept busy with all the administrative details involved. All of this was organised by the Land Settlement Board (LSB), a division of the provincial Department of Agriculture.
The LSB established a sawmill in the community, and a school. It assisted the settlers in acquiring farm equipment, livestock, and even fruit trees. It was responsible for establishing a store, under the management of William Mitchell. This store is referred to variously as the “Lister store,” the “camp store,” and the “company store,” with “company” in this case undoubtedly referring to the LSB.

demchuk homestead

Demchuck Homestead

By the beginning of 1920, the community of Lister (Camp Lister, as it was called back then) was an established fact. Weekly newspaper columns detail the progress of the community, its farms and industries, its social activities and organisations. There are fairly regular reports of mishaps mixed in with the good news: injuries and illnesses suffered by residents, sudden resignations of school teachers, and this amusing anecdote from October 1920:

“This week Vinc. Liddicoatt drove into camp with a Ford car and the destruction of dogs, poultry, etc., he accomplished on his initial trip through the settlement is largely responsible for the rush for accident insurance.”

Lister trading and Supply Co. was incorporated in the spring of 1921, with William Mitchell returning as manager. He was succeeded by A.R. Bernard, and in October 1922 John Bird took over the management, running the store – and eventually acquiring full control of it – until 1949. He sold it to the Creston Valley Co-operative Association, who ran it for five more years. It was then permanently closed, as another store, the Lister Mercantile, had been established by the Huscroft brothers.

lister 1958 centennial

Lister Residents 1958 Centennial Celebration

Lister, a community established in 1919 for returning soldiers, was failing by the mid-1920s. The soldiers, faced with overwhelming challenges to establish their farms, had moved on and the land was vacant. “By 1926,” wrote original settler John Bird, “the population had dwindled and it looked as though the young settlement was going to fail.” The remaining settlers worked with the provincial government, the Department of Immigration, and the Canada Colonization Board (a department of the Canadian Pacific Railway) to attract new settlers. Many of these new residents were Europeans who had immigrated to Canada only a year or two before and were looking for the ideal place to settle. “FB McConnell, representing the Canadian Colonisation Company, was here at the end of the week, and as a result seven of the German residents have now signed their agreements to purchase farms. This assured that half the newcomers now residing here are likely to remain permanently.” Creston Review, 31 January 1930

camp lister map

Map of Camp Lister

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