With so much street work underway in Burns Lake, we thought it appropriate to remind folks that paved streets are a relatively recent feature in Burns Lake.
This little town beside the lake didn’t have paved streets for most of the twentieth century. As recently as 1953, all the streets—including Highway 16—were unpaved.
Highway improvements didn’t always keep pace with other infrastructure upgrades. In 1931, road work in downtown Burns Lake created a new hazard. Government crews widened the running surface but did not relocate the Dominion Telegraph’s utility poles. When the project was complete, many of the telegraph poles were located in the middle of the highway.
“The clerk [of the village] has been instructed to notify the Dominion Government Telegraph that the board of commissioners of the Village desires an immediate start on the work of moving the telephone and telegraph poles which are obstructing the streets, to the correct location,” stated Sidney Godwin’s Observer newspaper. “Some of the posts are in the middle of the main street and are a menace to traffic. It has been impossible to even grade the streets in places on account of the location of some of the posts. It is hoped that the matter will be immediately attended to.”
It’s a wonder that motorists even noted the hazard. As recently as the 1940s and ’50s, winter road maintenance on Highway 16 often left a windrow of snow through the center of town.
Around 1965, village council approved the paving of several local roads, including Government Street by what is now the post office, and Second Avenue near the liquor store. Local motorists probably thought they had died and gone to heaven.
© 2022 Michael Riis-Christianson and the Lakes District Museum Society