Friendships Forged by (but Not Limited by) Time

Between 1968 and 1978, the Cassiar Asbestos Corporation ran a small mining community called Clinton Creek, about 60 miles northwest of Dawson City. The far-flung location attracted a certain type of person; namely, the young and the adventurous.

And so they came – from across Canada and around the world.

Noreen McGowan arrived from rural Saskatchewan and worked as an environmental tester.

Gord Bradshaw hailed from Toronto, Ontario, and was, among other things, a loader operator.

They met at Clinton Creek and forged a close-knit friendship that remains as strong today as it was 31 years ago.

Such relationships are not uncommon.

“Many of my best friends in the world were from Clinton Creek,” says McGowan.

For Bradshaw, too, the friendships still run deep. “When I go back to Toronto, I always travel 60 miles north to visit a friend from Clinton,” he says.

Despite the isolated location and the bitter cold of the winter, residents of Clinton Creek never went without a vigorous social schedule.

“It was a wonderful little town,” recalls McGowan. “There was a very active curling club; there were bonspiels; there was cross-country skiing; there was hockey and there was baseball in the summer,” she says.

And when asked if it was a dry town, they both smirk a bit before answering, “No.”

In 1990, a reunion was held for people who lived in Clinton Creek, and 400 people showed up. It’s an impressive number, in its own right, when considering that the population of Clinton topped out at around 500.

That count is an incredible testament to the camaraderie of the place.

Now, 19 years later, Bradshaw and McGowan figure it’s time for another go-round.

“We thought a 30-year reunion would be a good idea, but in typical Clinton Creek style, we missed it, so we need to do a 30-plus-one reunion,” McGowan says with mock exasperation.

The reunion will take place between July 24 and 26, 2009, at the Pioneer RV Park, and there is one important difference between this gathering and the 1990 version: the first reunion was just for people from Clinton Creek; this one will also be open to the people from the asbestos mine in Cassiar, and the truck drivers that serviced the mine.

“We didn’t see any reason as to why they shouldn’t be included, too,” Bradshaw explains.

As one might expect, it will be a weekend full of nostalgia. “We’ll be talking a lot about our memories,” says Bradshaw. However, he’s just as excited to find out what people are up to today.

During the process of contacting people for the reunion, he has already made at least one interesting discovery: “There is one guy who used to drive a truck for us and I found out that now he’s a civil rights lawyer in Vancouver. But back then, he was just a truck driver.”

McGowan is particularly excited that many people are coming back for the reunion and bringing their whole family. “One family of 12 is coming and nine people from another family are coming,” she says.

She admits that the turnout at this reunion will probably not be as high as the last one, but she is not discouraged. McGowan focuses on the fact that there are still many people who want to greet each other again after 30 years apart. “It’s pretty darned amazing,” she says.

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