Ten days later, the Co-op store was all cleaned up, re-stocked and doing a roaring business again.
The insurance companies agreed to a reasonable settlement and by the end of the year the only visible signs of the catastrophe were some irremovable scars on the building and fixtures, and a new and better warehouse replacing the one lost.
The war was now on, but merchandise was still plentiful. The government established price controls. As a co-operative is owned and controlled by its own customers, it was plainly obvious that profiteering would be completely ridiculous. Consequently, to the co-op, the regulations were merely an annoying number of forms and reports to be filled in.
Very early in 1942, the village of Dawson Creek awoke one morning, to find itself in the middle of the war effort. The American Army moved in thousands of troops to build the Alaska Highway, and civilian contractors promptly followed them. Acres and acres of buildings were erected and trainloads of materials rolled in at all times of the day and night. Every truck in the entire district was hauling on the new road and hundreds of trucks moved in from all over western Canada.
On February 13, 1943 an explosion destroyed an entire block in the heart of the town. The Co-op’s main store building was saved, mainly through the efforts of American Army personnel. The village had no water supply system and the only water available was the run off in the road ditches and for a time it appeared the whole village would burn.
Martial law was proclaimed and the Army ordered the merchandise to be removed from the Co-op building. Store contents were hurriedly thrown into trucks and then unloaded in great mounds like haystacks on the golf course, about half a mile away.
To the Co-op the mounds — made up of dry goods, clothing, hardware and groceries — represented about $50,000. Fortunately, about $30,000 in groceries stored in the basement were never disturbed.