Close to 70 people came out to the Hillcrest 12th Annual Reunion held last month at Mesachie Lake proving that Hillcrest people, former employees and their families, continue to be the tight knit group they were always famous for.
Although he would likely disagree, Cec Ashley and his wife Joyce (and others) go the extra mile each year to ensure that the reunion continues. Through The Last Whistle, an interesting e-newsletter that Ashley maintains, many interesting pictures and information on a succession of reunions and the industrial and social history that surrounded the Hillcrest Lumber Mill, its people along with old and new photographs, ensure that history lives on.
The annual event had its beginnings 12 years ago when George Smart and Frank Vanyo formed the Mesachie Lake based Hillcrest Lumber Company Employees Reunion. Smart was a high rigger in the early days and later the woods manager until Hillcrest Lumber Company closed in 1968. Vanyo was a cat driver, who built the logging roads in the woods.
In 2004 Doug Stone and Cec Ashley took over the duties of organizing the reunion. Since then Ashley and his wife Joyce have taken-up the mantle. Those involved are mainly former employees and family members of Hillcrest Lumber Company who worked in the mill and woods from 1943 until its closing in 1968.
Although mostly former employees attend the reunion, everyone is welcome. The get together — with catered lunch — takes place the last weekend in May each year. Anywhere from 80 to 100 former employees, family members, and visitors attend, which is very gratifying to the organizers and quite unusual for a company that has been shut down for 44 years. Those attending maintain that the annual event, after so many years “shows the love and dedication they had for the company, for it was one of the best companies to work for.”
If you are interested in the history (including many photographs) of the former Hillcrest Lumber Company at Mesachie Lake, the community and it’s people, as well as the annual reunions, check out Cec Ashley’s website The Last Whistle at sites.google.com/site/cecilashley