A Venturesome Village in the Valley
Lloyd Gibson, an early resident of Avola, is said to have observed as he came to the North Thompson, that the area was a “never ending sea of waving timber awaiting the lumberjack”.
Originally known as Stillwater Flats due to the expanse of relatively calm waters of the North Thompson river near the community, the town was renamed Avola in 1915 after a town in Sicily, Italy. The railway that cuts through town along the river provided the link to the rest of Canada and was the main vessel for traffic through Avola. The town became a home for section crews that maintained the railway and provided water to the steam locomotives.
Avola grew as a community of loggers, railroaders and trappers; families that came to homestead and find whatever work they could put their strength and determination to such as cutting cedar poles for the railway telegraph line, hand hewing ties for the railway bed, felling tress and getting them to the mill, and cutting cedar for fence rails. The economy in Avola was dependent on the railway and the forest, a truly Canadian town.
In winter the community relied on the railway as the only source of transport, but the community's resilience and determination saw them persevering. The community grew and many of the residents would be known to history as colourful characters. A sawmill was developed in the town along the river and logs were brought in huge rafts from upstream and then stored in the mill pond, still there today, waiting to be processed.
As a resource based community it was prone to the whims of the economy and a fluctuating population, and throughout the years the village has retained its small town, slow paced, country appeal. It is a place where the residents are living history. There are many adventures to be had; experiencing the history and exploring the many old homesteads and nearly forgotten trails within walking distance, backcountry access, and good company with a cold beer and a roaring fire.
Although the highway passes through, if you venture off onto the worn village streets, you can breathe in the clean air and feel time slowing down.