Russell Ruhr can be a bit like a dog with a bone. Tenacious. Fixated.
“I’m one of these guys who every once in a while gets on something like this and I can’t let it go.”
He described himself this way when he called the Salmon Arm Observer on April 30, looking for answers. Answer, rather.
How deep is McGuire Lake? he asked, already well into his quest.
It had begun with a hair cut.
Ruhr was sitting in his hairdresser’s chair in the Lower Mainland about a week ago and they were talking about Salmon Arm.
His hairdresser had moved to Salmon Arm a year earlier, but she was still coming back to Vancouver once a month to take care of her customers there. He told her of his experience four decades earlier.
“I was driving through in 1975, driving through with a friend of mine. It was summer holidays between Grade 11 and 12, and we took a two-month trip through British Columbia.”
He spent some time in Salmon Arm and has since driven through on a few trips.
As a teen he was talking about the lake with a girl who lived in Salmon Arm.
“She said it was bottomless – really, really deep – she was probably 17, 18, like myself,” he recounts. “It all came to me again 44 years later last week when I was sitting in my hairdresser’s chair… I said that lake, do you know how deep it is?, and she knew nothing about it.”
And so it began.
He first consulted Google, which was no help.
He found maximum length (700 feet) and maximum width (600 feet), but no depth, which he found unusual.
So he began calling.
Although he’s not 100 per cent sure of the names of all the places he phoned, they included two tourism organizations, the newspaper and city hall. City hall staff called him back to let him know they were looking into it but hadn’t found the information yet.
“I thought, isn’t it weird that nobody knows.”
Someone did tell him, however, that the little lake situated close to the downtown is man-made, which it isn’t.
Then the city’s parks manager called him, as did the Observer afterwards.
“I was kind of laughing to myself; I have the whole town looking for it.”
But it was a let-down when he finally received the news.
“It’s only 12 feet deep, not very deep at all.”
City staff told the Observer the same thing – 3.7 metres at its deepest part, which was determined during a 2012 turtle study.
“I was kind of disappointed it wasn’t bottomless or certainly 100 feet deep. There goes my 1975 fairy tale that it was bottomless.”