It has been 50 years since the valley experienced the tragic disappearance of Brenda Byman. This shy, slim, strawberry-blonde 12-year-old child went missing on May 7th, 1961, without so much as a trace.
Brenda had gone hiking that day with friends Vivian Barrett, John and Edward Carson, Les Spiniger and Elwood Godlien. The records say they had hiked into the Lake Enid area. A recent telephone call to me from a concerned relative of Brendas said it was Munn Lake near Wilmer.
Brenda was supposed to be back home at 4 p.m. She never returned.
According to an article that appeared in The Valley Echo when Brenda Byman disappeared, Brendas friend Vivian was questioned by the police, and told the authorities Brenda had run off when a hail storm started at about 2 p.m.
There was a huge manhunt for Brenda the biggest the valley had ever seen complete with a search helicopter, rescue dogs, 70 horses with riders, and more than 400 men from all over the valley.
Sergeant Boulton of the Invermere RCMP Detachment supervised the search.
Every bush, thicket, and creek bed was checked. Wilmer was a deserted town while its residents searched. Horsethief and Toby Creek canyons were scoured, and the Lake Enid area gone over with a fine toothed comb.
The last search was on Saturday and Sunday, September 1st and 2nd, 1961. It concentrated on the Lake Enid area. Still, not a trace of Brenda was found.
What happened to this innocent child?
There has been and still is a great deal of concern from Brendas family, and also the families of Brendas friends who have suffered.
Some have carried this tragedy with them over the years, due to the pain of accusations and finger-pointing. Those who have suffered are still hungering for the truth, and wondering if they will ever find closure and be able to let this painful misfortune go.
Then there are the rest of us who remember. We remember a small, innocent little girl who was lost to all of us. After 50 years, we still want to know: What happened to Brenda Byman?