As flames ripped through a Sardis home on Sept. 17, the face-blackened residents sat on the tailgate of a truck nearby watching their possessions literally go up in smoke.
When Bruce Bishop and his mother Joecylyn saw the photos of a fire destroying the Maitland Avenue house, it brought back a flood of emotion.
Then when the media reported- as relayed by the Chilliwack Fire Department-that it was a 1960s house, the Bishops felt like they lost something too.
You see, Bruce's grandfather, Leonard, built the house in 1919 after he returned home from the First World War.
"My mother was a little upset," Bruce told the Times, after seeing the 1960s reference. "Four generations of my family lived in that home. . . . It was a shame that, in the stroke of the pen, a whole family's history was forgotten or erased."
Renovations done in the 1960s adding to the home likely led to the date error.
But for Bruce and his mother, the significance of the building in their lives meant the fire and the subsequent date mix-up was a shock.
"It was surprisingly upsetting to have that flood of memories," Bruce said.
And if there was any doubt about the history of the house or the Bishop family, his grandfather's journals and albums full of photos tell the story.
At the Cultus Lake home where Bruce has now lived for 50-plus years, he showed the Times photos of the Maitland Avenue home, some dating as far back as the early 1920s.
Journals kept by his pioneering grandfather also tell stories of life in the area before and after the Great War.
In 1914, Leonard was mostly doing manual labour around Sardis, hauling hay and sugar beets. But he was also a skilled woodworker and finishing carpenter.
"I milked 25 cows this morning," one entry from 1914 in Leonard Bishop's journal reads. "Had a severe toothache last night."
Leonard was actually English, and in 1916 he joined the British Army.
The first date of entry in his small, leatherbound "Soldier's Diary" is Nov. 25, 1916. The book was given to all soldiers, and on the inside page is printed: "My Personal Experiences and Impressions of the Great European War."
A year later, Leonard would write a matter-of-fact entry that would lead him back to his life in Chilliwack. The entry was dated Nov. 11, 1917: "Went over the top at [illegible] and was fortunate in getting a good blighty being shot through both jaws."
The term "a good blighty" refers to a non-mortal, non-life-altering injury that would, thankfully, send a man home.
After being shot that day, he made his way back to the medical tent and a few days later wrote this entry: "Here for the first time in 13 months I heard the voice of an English nurse which was like music from the Gods."
Bruce isn't sure if it was exactly that nurse, but his grandfather eventually married a nurse he met overseas, came back to Chilliwack and built that home on Maitland Avenue that was destroyed by fire last month.
"I sympathize with the folks that lost everything," Bruce said. "We just lost memories."
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