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Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 52° 58.761 W 122° 29.610
10U E 534007 N 5870092
Quick Description: From a small wood frame building attached to the fire hall to a four storey concrete wonder, the City of Quesnel moved up in a hurry.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 7/6/2019 10:04:29 PM
Waymark Code: WM10XJ9
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 1

Long Description:
Not satisfied to just have a new city hall, the city named their new digs the John Ernst Building, then staged a gala Grand Opening of the building on Saturday, May 4, 2002. As with all large infrastructure projects undertaken by cities all over the world, from the outset this one was plagued with controversy and detractors. There were many citizens who felt the $4 million or so could have been better spent elsewhere. There were those who felt the building was lacking certain mandatory facilities, while others felt it was overkill. At least one councillor felt that $126,256 was a bit much for furnishings. But all these are normal reactions, voiced daily by citizens who fear their elected officials once again have run amok.

All that notwithstanding, the city now has a building they can be proud of, one which will serve adequately, possibly admirably, for many years to come. One kudo for the planners is that they included a new public library in the building, a cost cutting measure seized upon by many cities in recent years.

It was the discovery of gold, first on the Quesnel River, then on William's Creek at Barkerville, 85 kilometres by road to the east, which gave rise to the City of Quesnel. While gold was first discovered on Williams Creek in early 1861, the major discovery claim came a year later. On August 17, 1862, Billy Barker and company struck the richest deposit in the Cariboo country at a depth of 40 feet on Williams Creek, leading to the largest gold rush in British Columbia. Quesnel, being on a well traveled road and on the Fraser River, became the supply centre for Barkerville.

A town survey of Quesnel, then known as Quesnelmouth for its location on the mouth of the Quesnel River, was completed in 1863 and the number of businesses and residents increased. In 1865 the Collins Overland Telegraph, an attempt to run a telegraph line from California to Moscow, reached Quesnel. With the laying of a Transatlantic cable the project was abandoned, but the existence of the telegraph and the attendant trail led to Quesnel's becoming a supply point for exploration further north.

Quesnel was incorporated as a village in 1928 and as a town in 1958. Quesnel continued to grow and in 1979 became a city. In 1929 a wooden bridge was constructed across the Fraser River at Quesnel. Though no longer a road bridge, it remains in use as a walking bridge, the World's Longest Wood Truss Pedestrian Bridge. The oldest building in the city is the old Hudson's Bay Store, constructed in 1863. It remains in use as a gift store along Front Street opposite the old bridge.

As the gold petered out forestry gradually took over as the major local industry, with 33 registered sawmills within a 30 mile radius of Quesnel by 1948. By 1952 there were 180, a spectacular increase. Today, Forestry remains the leading industry with two pulp mills, five sawmills, a plywood and an MDF plant, plus several smaller value-added manufacturing operations. The city's industrial area contains the most concentrated wood products manufacturing locale in North America.

In 1921 the Pacific Great Eastern Railway had reached Quesnel, which remained the terminus until the line was extended to Prince George in 1952, connecting with the Canadian National Railway there. The line remains in operation as the Canadian National main line to the coast, with marshalling yards still in operation at Quesnel.

Following are a pair of news articles published at and around the time of the town hall's grand opening. The first describes the Grand Opening while the second describes some of the building's highlights.

City Hall Opens To Downpour Of Hail
NEIL HORNER | Wednesday, May 8,2002
The freak weather experienced in Quesnel this past week did more than set people's gardens back. It also impacted on the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new City Hall facility.

Driving hail poured down as guests and dignitaries gathered at the John Ernst Building on Saturday afternoon to mark the official opening of the facility, but that didn't stop Mayor Steve Wallace from enjoying the moment upon which he has staked much of his political career.

As guests eyed the downpour outside skeptically, Wallace made an executive decision and nixed the planned outdoor ribbon cutting at the front doors and moved everyone upstairs to the new council chambers. There, in front of local residents and North Central Municipal Association delegates, he took up the shears to officially open the new City Hall.

Wallace conceded that there had been much opposition to the project, but stressed that many council initiatives have faced similar protest and have turned out in the end to be huge assets to the community....

...Wallace snipped the ribbon, to the applause of the 100 or so guests present. "On behalf of all the citizens of Quesnel, I declare this building open," he said.
From the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

NEIL HORNER | Sunday, March 3,2002
Upon passing through the front doors of this work in progress, [one sees] a large, sweeping staircase that curves over his head and up to the next floor... ...wide open design of the third floor, noting that staff work stations in the area will be marked off with six-foot privacy screens instead of floor to ceiling walls, letting natural daylight in for all to enjoy... ...The staff room has a spectacular view of the downtown core.

As power smart as possible, the building features light fixtures that turn on when people walk into a room, and turn themselves off when nobody is present. As well, each room has its own thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature by a few degrees at night when nobody is around.

Unlike the current municipal facility, the new city hall will feature a first aid room, complete with a cot for those feeling poorly to rest their bones when required.

Every office, hallway and other feature is fully handicapped accessible... ...while the area in front of each staircase has special tiling to give visually impaired residents a tactile warning of the approaching hazard.

The most interesting room in the building... is not the mayor's office or the council chamber, but a fairly nondescript office area on the fourth floor that will double as a committee meeting room and an emergency operations nerve centre in the case of a disaster.
From the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Photo goes Here

Name: John Ernst Building

410 Kinchant Street
Quesnel, BC Canada
V2J 7J5

Date of Construction: May 4,2002

Web Site for City/Town/Municipality: [Web Link]

Architect: Not listed

Memorials/Commemorations/Dedications: Not listed

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