Shelley, British Columbia

Shelley, northeast of Prince George in central British Columbia, was often misspelled as “Shelly”, especially during the earlier years. The First Nations Shelley Reserve No. 1 is on the northwest side of the Fraser River, and the Reserve No. 2, on the southeast side, includes a gas station and convenience store.[1] Beyond the west of the latter are freehold properties, comprising about 30 residences immediately and in the vicinity. To the south is the Shell-Glen volunteer firehouse,[2] which lies on the west side of the Gleneagle neighbourhood.

This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience. (January 2020)
Community in British Columbia, Canada

Location of Shelley in British Columbia


Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Land District Cariboo
Regional District Fraser-Fort George
Geographic Region Robson Valley

577 m (1,892 ft)
Area code(s) 250, 778, 236, & 672

. . . Shelley, British Columbia . . .

Shelley, like Foreman to its southwest, and Willow River to its northeast, was an original train station (1914) on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway[3][4] (the Canadian National Railway after nationalization). The name, a locational surname from any one of the places called “Shelley”, derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century “scylf” meaning literally a shelf cut out of the hillside, plus “leah”, an enclosure or wood.[5] Since Shelley, BC, lies on flat lowland, the name likely acknowledges an individual instead. The most probable candidate was a GTP contractor.[6][7] Another possibility was Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), the famous poet.[8] If the latter, it was likely on the list prepared by Josiah Wedgwood (submitted at the request of William P. Hinton, the railway’s general manager).[9]

Shelley lies at Mile 136.3, Fraser Subdivision[10] (about Mile 226 during the line’s construction). In 1912, Magoffin (McGoffin alternate spelling) & Berg (Bergh alternate spelling) subcontracted with camps to the west and east.[11] By 1913, the Mitchell & Ahern camp was at Mile 223, the Nugent & Co. camp at Mile 225, and the Magoffln & Bergh ones at Miles 226 and 230.[12] The latter relocated a steam shovel (possibly the Lindup one) downstream to Mile 226.[13]

The 36 tons of flour, loaded on two scows[14] that reached Mile 226 before the river began freezing that November, merchants Kennedy, Blair & Co. later hauled over the frozen ice to Prince George.[15] A tie camp existed at Mile 226.[16] This may have been Tony Jack’s operation, at which the sheriff seized 10,000 ties in 1915 to settle outstanding liabilities.[17] During this era, ties were also hauled across the frozen river from the Salmon Valley.[18]

In 1915, when ordered off an eastbound train at Shelley, train hoppers rushed the crew and threw rocks at them. After a rock cut the scalp of George S. Hughes, a conductor acting as brakeman, he fired a gun to frighten the attackers, but unintentionally shot assailant John Kozook in the leg. Hughes was arrested at McBride, but later released on bail. Kozook received treatment for his minor wound. The public sympathized with Hughes because criminal gangs frequently stole railway freight. The trial outcome is unknown.[19][20][21]

Running backward across a trestle to the southwest, a work train struck Rosarius Simonson (c.1873–1918), a Shelley preemptor. His companion escaped by leaping over the side, but Simonson’s foot became wedged in the ties when he attempted to outrun the train. Unaware of the accident, the crew did not stop to render assistance. About half an hour later, conductor Hughes’ westbound freight brought the man to the city. However, the blood loss from the leg crushed below the knee was too severe for the hospital to save him.[22]

In 1920, two speeders collided nearby, sending three men to hospital, one with serious injuries.[23]

In 1944, two boys received a lecture in juvenile court for taking a CNR speeder and following the westbound passenger train from Shelley.[24] A heavy winter snowfall could block access roads for a week or more, but flagged down westbound freight trains would transport medical cases.[25] Although not as comfortable, a speeder fulfilled the same role.[26]

In December 1948, Frank E. Moore (1890–1955)[27] dashed after his departing eastbound passenger train at Prince George station, but found the car door locked. Holding on with his ungloved hands for almost 10 miles (16 km), his grip weakened and he fell off at Shelley when the train slowed. Returned by car to Prince George, he convalesced in hospital with bandaged hands and bruised arms.[28] In 1959, when the brakes failed on a CNR dump truck used for transporting gravel, the driver jumped clear. A CNR work crew later recovered the vehicle from the river at Shelley.[29] In 1967, a train appeared to have struck Jerry Dick, because he sustained a fractured skull and other injuries.[30] The next summer, a westbound passenger train ran over and killed Leonard Michael Leo (c.1947–1968), while he apparently slept on the tracks about one mile west of Shelley.[31][32]

During the 1970s, when an eastbound freight train struck Rosemary Paul while sitting on the track, the 12-year-old sustained merely a broken leg and bruised hand.[33] A collision with a moose derailed two freight cars east of Shelley.[34] A 73-car freight train near Shelley killed seven horses that strayed onto the track.[35] A train demolished a helicopter that had landed on the right of way to collect some passengers in the vicinity.[36]

Although collisions between vehicles and trains at the Mile 136.08 main railway crossing were destructive,[37] some were also fatal. In 1976, driver Andre Gerald Gagnon (1935–76),[38] and John Louis Wheatley (c.1948–76) died,[39] and Dominic Joseph Fredrick and Larson Prince were seriously injured.[40] In 1999, the driver exited his car stuck on the Mile 136.05 crossing into the Shelley Reserve before the vehicle became wedged under the lead engine of an eastbound train.[41] A similar situation occurred at a crossing west of the community.[42] In 2011, a $322,000 upgrade improved safety at the mile 136.05 location.[43]

During 1980–81, Northwood built 8 kilometres (5 mi) of track and a $14m combined road/rail bridge across the Fraser southeast of Shelley.[44] When a 1985 massive mudslide wiped out a BC Rail bridge and track near Prince George, coal trains temporarily diverted across the Northwood bridge to reach the CNR line.[45] In 2010, 16 carloads of coal spilled when a 150-car westbound coal train derailed west of the village.[46] With the permanent closure of the Shelley mill, Northwood appears to have lifted this track around 1991.

Built in 1914, the standard-design Plan 100‐152 (Bohi’s Type E)[47][48][49] station building, and the Plan 100‐318 freight and the passenger shelter relocated from Foreman in 1963, were demolished in 1969. An nondescript building remained at the closed station into the 2000s.[50][51]

Service 1914–c.1916 c.1917–c.1921 c.1921–1931 1932–c.1939 c.1940–c.1948 c.1949–1957 1957–1968 1968–1977 1977–c.1989
[3] [52][53] [54] [55][56] [57][58] [59][60] [61][62][63][64]
[70][71][72][73] [10][74][75]
Passenger Regular stop Flag stop Flag stop Flag stop Regular stop Regular stop Flag stop Flag stop
Way freight Flag stop probably Flag stop probably Regular stop Flag stop Regular stop Flag stop Regular stop Regular stop
Siding Mile No. 1922 1933 1943 1960 1965 1968–72 1977 1990–92
(Capacity Length) Cars [54] Cars [56] Cars [57] Cars [62] Cars [67] Cars [70][72] Feet [10] Feet [76][77]
Shelley 136.3 68 66 58 54 55 125 5,740 6,420
Other Tracks Mile No. 1920–22 1933 1943 1960 1965–72 19770 19900 19920
(Capacity Length) Cars [53][54] Cars [56] Cars [57][78] Cars [62] Cars [67][70][72] Feet [10] Feet [76] Feet [77]
McLean Sawmills (former Caine Lumber logging) 134.0 4
Eagle Lake Sawmills 135.9 28
McLean Sawmills 136.0 22  ?
Shelley Sawmills 136.0 20
Eagle Lake Sawmills 136.0 43
Shelley Sawmills FH 23 136.0 1,940 2,020
Prince George Sawmills 136.1 Unknown
Huble FH31 (across Fraser bridge) 138.1 19,870
Blain’s (logging) 138.3 Unknown
Huble FH32 138.4 600

. . . Shelley, British Columbia . . .

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. . . Shelley, British Columbia . . .