Ties To Water - The History Of Bull River In The East Kootenay

June 17th, 2021 1 Minutes
Collection No. 0040.0015: Bull River, B.C.
The townsite of Bull River, featuring the Benedict general store. Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History

By Derryll White 

You had to know Verdun Casselman to enjoy the full depth of this book, although any discerning reader will see large parts of this man and form a positive picture of his life and devotion to the region’s history. 

Rancher, poet, historian – Verd did it all very well and lived life large. I have read almost every local history book published in the Columbia Basin, but ‘Ties To Water’ is always the one I turn to when someone asks, ‘What’s the best?’ The battered and bruised condition of my inscribed copy attests to the use in which it has been subjected.

 Born in 1916, Verd experienced the grinding depression of the ‘30s, served in World War II, and came back to purchase a half interest in the imposing Picture Valley Ranch on the Kootenay River above the town of Bull River. He eventually purchased the ranch outright and, a lifelong bachelor, on his demise, passed it to Bob Bjorn.

‘Ties To Water’ is a meticulously researched book covering horse logging, river drives, mining, and farming in the Bull River area of Southeast Kootenay. It also investigates the incursion of Hollywood in the 1920s, shooting both ‘Conflict’ and ‘Hearts Aflame’ in the area. Hydroelectric development, sawmilling, and the life and death of Bull River town are only some of the other subjects fully covered.

Collection No. 0015.0015 – Bull River Mill and Townsite – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History

Verd Casselman spent seven years talking to local people and getting their stories and photographs. This book is a stunning gathering of photos ranging from the 1890s to the 1980s, all documented and clearly printed. It represents local history the way it needs to be done. Today the contents of this volume still enrich the lives of all living in East Kootenay and those far away who wish to know the background of this wonderful region.

Bob Bjorn has painstakingly reprinted ‘Ties To Water,’ which can be purchased by contacting him at bjornretd@gmail.com. Give yourself a real treat – buy a copy.

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