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Wild Wind Onion

Wild Wind Onion

Heinz Lange December 18, 1919 - June 11, 2000

Nicola Valley Museum copies of the Merritt Herald have references to Mr. Heinz Lange as early as 1966.
While his vocation appears to be Industrial Arts teacher, Heinz Lange was also an avid fisherman as well as an art instructor. His "Painting for Pleasure" adult classes were well received. He also taught art in Merritt Secondary School and was an active member of the Merritt Drama Club. His community service also included chairman of the Family Court Committee and president of the Nicola Valley Rod and Gun Club.

Ice Fishing Machine.
Windmills were also his passion at least as early as 1967. In the the November 22, 1967 issue of the Merritt Herald, there is a photo of Hughie McGowan demonstrating "Heinz Lange's latest invention - an automatic, wind powered, ice fishing machine. … The wind turns the propeller device which is attached to a crankshaft that transmits action to a flatfish or bait on the end of the line."
"Hienz is going to give the detailed plans to the Indian Affairs Department and the kids up north could make these contrivances in school as projects and catch the winter fish."
There wasn't any indication that his invention fit conservation rules although a photo in March, 1968 shows Heinz and Dale Floyd with 17 1/2 pounds of Rainbow Trout caught through the ice at Courtney Lake with his machine.

Windmill Lake Aerators.
In addition to being an active fisherman, Heinz also supported student outdoor activities with the Lake Wardens club. "Heinz Lange proposed checking out some lakes that are at present in poor shape as to fishing, look into getting them stocked and for the [Rod and Gun} club to supply oxygen and whatever else is needed to bring a lake back into production."
The first reference to Lange's windmills being used for conservation purposes is in the November 12, 1969 issue of the Merritt Herald when a wind driven compressor built by Merritt Secondary School students was installed on Edna Lake on Iron Mountain.
According to the Rod and Gun Club report, "This is quite a sight, it is about 16 ft. high, has a prop 8 ft. across and is 6 ft. square at the bottom. It will sit on a raft 16 ft. square and it will have to be well tied down. It runs a compressor able to produce 800 cubic ft. of air per hour into the lake. ... it is the first operation of this kind in B.C.
The following summer, Heinz was invited to participate in a workshop to build more windmills for other lakes in the province.
By late fall, 1970, Heinz and his helpers had built "a much bigger mill standing eighteen feet high with a prop. eight feet across" for Centre Lake. "Heinz figures this one should be set on shore instead of out on a raft and should be enclosed with plywood".
By June, 1973, Nicola Windmill Aerators Ltd. had been formed with a windmill under construction for Corbett Lake.

Helical Windmill - 1974

Wild Wind Onion Windmill
The first reference to Lange's "wind onion" design is in the July 31, 1974 edition of the Merritt Herald. The mockup in his backyard must have surprised those exploring Merritt Bench subdivision cul-de-sacs. "The helical design makes this improved windmill omnidirectional, whereas the type now in use have to be set up according to the prevailing winds." wrote Steve Williams.

More to come. If you have information to add, fill in the comment form below.

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