YOU ASKED: Before moving here, I vaguely remember many years back seeing the city name spelled out somehow, way up on the side of Mount Paul. It was sort of the same idea as the HOLLYWOOD sign but not as flashy. Can you tell me the history of that? Did it really happen, how did it get approved and, subsequently, what happened to it?
- Randy Lessard
OUR ANSWER: Thank goodness for the old Daily News clipping files. We dusted them off and found one called "City Kamloops sign." There it was, in black and white (yellowed, actually). Think back to May of 1987.
The Kamloops sign was the brainchild of Randy Black, president of the Thompson Nicola Manufacturers Association, who made the metal sign of five-metre by three-metre letters and set them onto the side of Mount Paul.
The association called it its contribution to the Clean Up Kamloops campaign.
Some residents protested and called it ugly, vulgar and trashy. The Kamloops Indian Band committed to the sign initially, but the strong negative response caused second thoughts before it was installed.
John Dormer, who was mayor at the time, said it stirred up a whole bunch of emotion and controversy.
"It was no easy feat. A lot of work went into it. They had to put the letters up using a helicopter." Put up in May, by June high-school graduating classes - who often put something up on the side of Mount Paul - found they had an easy mark. One group added white bags underneath to spell out HIGH. Someone else covered up the first four letters so it just read OOPS.
The band had an agreement with the association that the sign would come down if a survey taken after six months showed people didn't want it. The survey, done by the TNMA, showed 72 per cent supported it.
But the band still didn't want it. By October 1987 the association was told to get rid of it.
Several suggestions for the sign came up: install it near Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Batchelor Heights, and a few spots at the airport.
Black offered it up for sale.
In April 1989 the TNMA made one last appeal to the band to allow the sign to stay. No go.
One month later, a bugler played Taps as the last of the mega-letters was removed from the mountain face and flown to the sign's new home at Kamloops Airport.
Dormer said it was a good move.
"It's been a bit of a landmark out there since then."
FOOTNOTE: Kamloops resident Laima Brown offers some additional information:
"Just to let you know . . . Randy Black was the general manager & not the president of TNMA. Wayne McCrann was the president at that time. This was published May 6, 1987 in the Kamloops News. Eight different letters were fabricated by eight different manufacturers although some of the letters were a joint effort by two manufacturers. I know this because my husband, Rick Brown, was the originator and first president of TNMA in 1984. He also had Black Pine Manufacturer Ltd who did fabricate one of the Kamloops letters."