Community

First police building turns 100

TERRACE
TERRACE'S FIRST police station was constructed 100 years ago in 1912. This photo is estimated to have been taken shortly after 1921.
— image credit: PHOTO COURTESY of Terrace and District Archives

AS TERRACE turns 101 years old, its oldest downtown building celebrates a centennial.

In 1912, a year after Terrace became incorporated, the police building on Kalum Street and Lakelse Avenue was erected.

The building was constructed by Will Little, who also built the school at Kitselas and handled contracts for the Lorne Creek and Fiddler Creek bridges.

He was stepbrother to George Little, considered the city’s founder, who persuaded him to come to Terrace and be instrumental in its establishment.

Will Little died in 1952. His daughter Grace Warner still lives in Terrace.

“He was a very good dad, a steady hardworking dad. What else can I say?” Warner said.

Little and his wife Margaret Griffith had seven children. Other than Warner, three grandchildren  remain living here.

“There are very little Littles left,” said Lynne Christiansen, Warner’s daughter and Will Little’s granddaughter. Herself, brother Dan Warner and cousin Patrick Casey are the three grandchildren residing in Terrace.

“I’m quite sentimental about the things granddad built,” Christiansen continued.

She pointed out that all of the construction back then was done with hand tools.

“That really impresses me.”

The plans for the first police station were drawn up in 1911.

One year after construction, police services began with its first constable, Thomas Parsons. In the literature of Terrace’s history, Parsons has been described as young, well-liked, bright, having a good sense of humour, tall and deeply bronzed.

Parsons was stationed in Terrace only one year until the First World War when army police began patrolling the area.

The building included a residence for him and a cell for prisoners.

“Police officers in the outposts have to work entirely on their own, make their decisions and report results to headquarters afterwards,” according to Alie Toop, writing for the Terrace Review in 1991.

Parsons moved on to Fort St. John and Prince George among other areas and eventually became commissioner in 1939.

The operation in Terrace continued and by 1950, had increased to two officers.

Ted Brue, who was one of the officers in 1950, told the Terrace Standard in 1995 that it was a different force back then.

“We had one police car, sometimes we didn’t even have that,” he told the Standard in the May 10, 1995 issue.

The policing of Terrace until 1950 was the task of B.C. Provincial Police, but the province gave the contract to the federal government.

Brue was one of 500 officers in B.C. absorbed into the RCMP at the time.

Since the building stopped being used for police activities, it has been occupied by a number of different businesses and organizations, including a clothing store and the headquarters for the Ksan House Society.

Currently it serves as an office for the Terrace Economic Development Authority.

Throughout its history, the old police building has had its share of threats.

For example, in 1987 members of the Happy Gang Centre expressed interest in the land of the old police building, in order to form a parking lot for their organization.

Talk circulated about the building being destroyed or moved to Heritage Park. By that year, it was already the oldest building still in its original location and that factored into city council’s decision to keep it as it stood.

On Tuesday, August 7, at 7 p.m., a walk is being hosted by the Heritage Park Museum, featuring the historical stories of Terrace’s downtown, which will end at the old police building.

The ticket fee includes the booklet My Town: A Walk with the Founder of Terrace written by Cindy Hansen.

For more information, please click the Schedule of Events link at www.riverboatdays.ca.

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