British Columbia History

BC Historical News Feb 28, 1970

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Vol. 3 No. 2 February 1970
Published November, February, April and June each year
by the British Columbia Historical Association. Subscrip tion
rates: Free to members of all affiliated societies, or $3*50 per
year including postage directly from the Editor, Mr P.A. Yandle,
3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver 8, E.C.
President: Mrs Mabel Jordon
1st Vice-President: Mr H. R. Brammall
2nd Vice-President: Mr B. C. Bracewell
Sec. & Editor: Mr P. A. Yandle
Treasurer: Mrs H. R. Brammall
Executive Mr H. B. Nash
Committee: Mr D. Schon
Editorial 2
Minutes 3
Letter to the editor      5
Society notes and comments 6
Glacier National Park, by
John Marsh ?
Rose Skuki, by Michael
Robinson 10 EDITORIAL
Sooner or later it had to happen and now I must make amends.
In the last issue of the I>ews the feature article - the Bishop Hills
Dean Cridge affair - written by Mr R.J.S. Spooner I stated that Mr
Spooner had been a student of the University of Victoria, whereas in
fact he was a student of the University of B.C. Dr Margaret Ormsby
p ointed out the error of my ways through my wife, and I now bow my
head in shame and ask forgiveness. The article has created considerable comment, and I must say all very favourable. From Nanaimo comes
this comment from.Mr Wm Barraclough, ■
"The Dean Cridge article by R.J.A. Spooner is a well documented
story, told with a minimum of minor detail (which is still carried on
over tea-cups). We have read many fragmented accounts on the subject,
but this report concerning the ambivalence between the two principals
involved is a fascinating story. Our Treasurer, Mrs F. McGirr, claims
relationship with Dean Cridge, her grandfather*s name was Cridge, both
men lived at the same place in England."
In a moment of.madness and feeling the spirit of expectant
Christmas cheer surging through my- veins I mailed a copy of the November issue of the News (at my own expense) to a friend of mine in
Bristol, England, who signs himself Honorary Archivist to the Dean
and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral*- I thought he might be interested
in "The Affair" in view of his capacity of Honorary Archivist. His
comments were directed to the conduct of our affairs as an Association
and I take the liberty of boring those among you who read my editorials
with this quote from his letter of acknowledgement.
"My reaction on reading it may surp rise you: what a lot of spare
time you all seem to have. We here should regard a Council Meeting
that lasted from 1.30 to 5»oo p.m. as something akin to a marathon.
The Friends of Bristol Cathedral, at least with the present Dean in
the chair, conduct their not inconsiderable affairs at three Council
meetings in the year beginning at 7-30 and ending within ten minutes
of 9.00 (either way). Similarly our Annual General Meeting is
allowed one hour for the Festival programme, and everyone is near
disgust if it takes more than 50 minutes."
I must have laboured under a delusion all these years in thinking that this was the home of the 'rat-race'. What he doesn't know
is that our President travelled approximately 1500 miles to attend
that Council meeting, and for that matter all Council meetings.
Please note, take heed, write down on the nearest calendar that
our Convention dates are May 21st, 22nd and 23rd at K'anaimo, B.C.
The theme for this year's Convention is "Coals to Timber in a Hundred
Years" and the Convention centre will be the Shoreline Hotel in
Nanaimo. Make your reservations early and be sure you don't miss a
pleasant three days in the Hub City. Minutes of the Third Council Meeting of the British Columbia
Historical Association held on February 15th, 1970 at 2386 Estevan,
Victoria, at 1.30 p.m. PRESENT: fcrs Mabel Jordon, Pres. (East
Kootenay); Mr R. Brammall, Vice-Pres. (Vancouver); Mr B.C. Bracewell,
2nd Vice-Pres. (Victoria); Mrs P. Brammall, Treas, (Vancouver); Mr
D. New, Past Pres. (Gulf Islands); Mr P. Yandle, Sec. (Vancouver);
Mrs E. Adams (Alberni & Dist.); Mr H.B. Nash (Victoria); Mr D.
Schon (Nanaimo).
The President called meeting to order at 2.00 p.m. and asked
that the minutes of the last Council Meeting be adopted as circulated.
Moved Brammall, seconded New, that the minutes be adopted. — Carried.
Arising from the minutes the President stated that she had
written to boteh the Honorary Patron and Honorary President extending
an invitation to the banquet at the Convention in May. Both had
replied, and the Hon. Patron, Lieut.Gov. J.R. Nicholson expressed
his regrets as he would be Guest of Honour at Simon Fraser University's
Convocation; the Hon. Pres., Dr Margaret Ormsby accepted the invitation
and hoped that she would be able to attend.
Convention Mr Schon as Convention Chairman reported that it had been
necessary to revise the tentative arrangements presented to Council
at its last meeting. The most important change was the date. It
was now schedu led for May 21st, 22nd and 23rd - one week earlier
than previously arranged. A misunderstanding in the booking
(although the booking had been made last summer) conflicted with
another convention that had also booked the Shoreline Hotel at
Nanaimo as its convention headquarters. He stated that speakers had
been arranged for all events and that a complete programme would be
ready for the April edition of the News.
Mr Schon asked for information as to what qualifica* */>ns
were necessary to attend the Convention. The President answered that
anyone may attend, members and non-members aliket  provided the
formalities of registration were carried out.
Moved New, Seconded Brammall, That the Association place at
the discretion of the Nanaimo Society an advance of $200.00 for the
Convention. The Treasurer was instructed to send the amount if
requested. - Carried.
The Treasurer reported that the current funds of the Association after the Secretary's typewriter, $l68.00,and News expenses
had been paid, left a balance at January 31st, 1970 of $355.00.
Several societies were in arrears with per capita payments, but a
letter had been sent reminding them that they are in arrears and
that a payment would be appreciated.
The Secretary reported that he had endorsed in the name of the
Association a brief to the Hon. R.G. Williston sponsored by the
P rincfflton & District Fish and Game Association, asking that a
portion of Paradise Valley at the headwaters of the Tulameen River, -
approximately 5 miles by six miles and comprising around 20,000
acres - be set aside as a recreational reserve for the general public. Quoting from the brief "This valley is rich in historical
lore. The Dewdney Trail runs approximately through the centre of
the proposed reserve. It also contains the camp-site in which
Podunk Davis found Nurse Wharburton who had been lost in the area
for a considerable length of time". Council was shown a map of the
area and the proposed boundary lines, On the discussion, Fir Schon
felt that such prop osals should be checked to ensure that interests
already established in the area should not be jeopardized for purely emotional reasons for wanting more parkland. Mr Bracewell
stated that if some emotion had been shown in the past, areas that
should have been reserved for recreational purposes would not have
been lost for ever to the people of this province. Mr Brammall
felt that the Secretary should have the power to use his discretion
in matters such as these where time was a factor, provided that
Council be notified of any such action, and a chance to discuss the
matter to approve or disapprove, as they saw fit. Council app roved
the action of the Secretary and endorsed the p rinciples expressed
in the brief,
Nootka.  The President reported that she had written and extended
an invitation to both Mr Willard Ireland and Mr James Nesbitt to
attend the meeting of Council. They had both promised to attend
but had phoned to say that sickness prevented their attendance.
She had done so because it had been made clear by both of them that
the Federal Government had plans underway regarding Nootka and that
maybe they could explain what those plans were. The Secretary had
information also that the Federal Government, through the National
Historic Sites Board also had plans but could not give any specific
details. It was the opinion of Council that an air of mystery
seemed to exist and that it should be the concern of Council to
find out what was planned. Mrs Adams said she would get in touch
with her Federal member as the area came within his constituency,
and report to the Secretary. Council instructed the Secretary to
write to the correct Federal agency to ask them for specific
information and send carbon copies of the letter to the members
comprising the committee for the Provincial Centennial.
New Business  The President outlined a suggestion that the Association sponsor- an essay competition at the University level on a
subject relevant to the 1971 Centenary, Moved Brammall, seconded
New, That the Association sponsor such a competition. Carried.
Further discussion regarding the competition resulted in
the following motion: Moved Schon, seconded Bracewell, That Mr
Brammall and Mr Yandle draw up terms of reference for a 1971
Centenary Essay Competition and a proposal for a prize or prizes
to report to the next Council meeting for approval. Carried,
Mr New brought to the attention of Council the passing of Mr
Freeman of the Gulf Islands Society. Mrs Freeman was a former President of the Gulf Islands Society and v:as instrumental in founding it.
Council expressed its feelings of sympathy at the bereavement and
adked the Secretary to write to Mrs Freeman and express the condolence of the Association,
Moved Mrs Adams, seconded New, That the meeting adjourn.
Carried. Meeting adjourned at 4.20 p.m. LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Mr Yandle:  I notice in the last number of the News that you
suggested at the last annual meeting in Penticton that persons
having something to say about historical matters should write to
the editor giving their ideas. I am taking advantage of this
opening to write this letter.
I protest emphatically against comparative neglect of the
early period of what is now the province of British Columbia,
which apparently is rega rded as of little interest compared with
the period succeeding the establishment of a Crown Colony in 1849.
The inevitable result is that not only do I find that the ordinary
person, even those who have passed through British Columbia schools,
have no knowledge of this early period of B.C. 's history, and otherwise well informed persons somehow or other have acquired erroneous
views of B.C.'s background. As an illustration of this I might
cite a recent article on the sea otter, in which it was assumed that
the depletion of the sea-otters began -with the last voyage of James
Cook, and that the inevitable almost extermination of the sea-otter
was due to the English and American traders. Not only had they
already pretty well been exhausted by Russia in the Aleutians and
the Alaskan peninsula, but their methods of securing the pelts
made far greater inroads on the sea otter than the English and
Americans who relied on trade while the Russians employed bands of
Aleuts (who were especially .successful hungers) whom they employed
to sweep the seas. Another instance is a recent article on the
Liard River. Campbell is given the credit of first ascending that
river in 1838 whereas he was anticipated by McLeod who ascended the
Liard and its tributaries as far as Dease Lake and established the
first post, Fort Halkett, on the Liard. This was in 1834, In
explaining the reasons for tho Hudson Bay's abandonment of this
route it failed to mention the lease of the panhandle by the Bay,
for which a lease was signed in 1839-
As s. result of this, sufficient is given to the man who made
it possible to establish a foothold on the Pacific coast, whose
contribution should be known to everyone - Sir Alexander Mackenzie,
Simon Fraser^ Thompson and others who were outstanding personalities
who have not had sufficient recognition. Americans,at least many
of them, still regard Lewis and Clark as the first to cross the
continent to the coast.
There is no reflection on Professor Ormsby's excellent work
on B.C. I donTt■kmow where the Iblame lies, but I think it is very
.important that the deeds of those men should not pass into oblivion.
I wculd think that while the universities can do something to
correct this, an effort to do so might very well be concentrated
lower down in the public and high schools.
I admit I am a professional historian, but I am greatly
interested in B.C. history and I think we ought to change our
perspective. Perhaps the Historical News can do something.. I regret if I have been too verbose but I do think that as
Canadians we need to cultivate more self respect and not allow that
the achievements of these early pioneers should be forgotten.
Yours truly, Stuart R. Tompkins, 211 Lagoon Rd., Victoria. Dec.3/69-
ALBERNI  At the January meeting of the Alberni Society it was
decided to make every effort to publish a number of articles
written by the late George Bird. Mr Bird came to Alberni in 1892
to be the first engineer at the first paper mill on the Somass
River. These articles cover every phase of life in the pioneer
community and the adjacent area.
During the month of January there was, at the Port Alberni
Library, an exhibit of wood carvings by the late Jack McKenzie,
who was one of the first white children born in the permanent
settlement of Alberni. These carvings are called "cheehahs",
mythical beings and animals.
NANAIMO In November the B.C. Historical Association President, Mrs
M.E. Jordon, gave an address entitled "Highlights of Captain George
Vancouver-'s voyage to the Pacific coast."
On November 27th, 'Princess Royal Day' was celebrated. The
memorial service commenced at the ringing of the Bastion Bell at
11 a.m. on the hour at which the passengers landed there in 1854.
Mr J.G. Parker, the President, delivered the address, and Mrs F.
McGirr called the roll of the Princess Royal passengers, descendants
present answering. Canon H. Greenhalgh offered a prayer of remembrance. The service lasted about half an hour, after which those
attending repaired to the Shoreline Hotel for coffee.
At the January meeting Mrs McGirr gave an address on
"Community Projects by the young women of Nanaimo from 1912 to 1922",
She told of the great efforts made to raise money and make items for
war services during 1914 to 1918, and it was amazing the amount of
money they collected, there being no bingo games in those days.
Mrs McGirr displayed.costumes worn by the various ethnic groups,
and there were excellent pictures displayed of the groups and events,
In mid June the West Kootenay Association visited Colville,
Wash., where a granddaughter of an early pioneer family, the Hof-
stetters, told about the Colville and Fort of those days. Another
member spoke about the Indians, and apart from his artifacts he had
a wonderful collection of concretions, the odd shaped small
formations found in sedimentary clay banks along what is now Lake
At the first Fall meeting in October, Mr J.D. McDonald of
Rossland spoke on the electrification of the Rossland-Trail area
by the West Kootenay Power and Light Co., and particularly his
memories of his father's association with the Comp any. In November Mr A. K. McLeod. described his orisit to Budapest
where, as Canadian delegate, he attended the 23rd Conference of the
International Federation of Jeunesse Musicales.
At the first meeting of the new year the society was addressed
by Mr W.M. Merilees, Professor of Biology at Selkirk College,
describing his experiences on 'tylacquarie Island - Antarctic outpost".
This small island of 40 square mile£?-s about 1000 miles southeast of
Tasmania, by which it is administered. Af r a tragic history of
wholesale slaughter of animals and birds for their skins, oil and
for food, it was declared a sanctuary in 1933 and the Australian
.government maintains a biological .station there to study and record
the slow return cf animal and bird life, as well as keep meteorological records,
VANCOUVER In November Mr E.K. (Ned) DeBeck, Clork of the Provincial
Legislature in Victoria, paid the Society a visit. The usual
attendance almost doubled for the occasion, as many friends came
to share with Hr DeBeck his memories of a happy childhood in Vancouver in the 1890's.
In January, the Society moved out of the Maritime Museum,
■,+c- home since the Museum's opening, and celebrated the first meeting in the new Co. -ainial Museum with an account by Professor Tomas
Bartroli of the first European visitors to our coast, and of tho
Spanigh fort at Nootka. Ho urged tho largo and onthusiastic audience
to press for the rostoration of this important fort, the birthplace
of British Columbia, onco a household word in Europe, and almost a
cause of an Anglo-Spanish war.
Tho following chronology was submitted b3r Mr John Mareh,
Dopt, of Geography, University of Calgary.
The opening of the Trans-Canada Highway through tho Selkirk
Mountains in 1962 has encouraged thousands of people to visit
Glacier National Park, an area of 521 square miles of ruggod
mountains,, glaciers and doop valleys, centering on Rogers Pass, The
remains of railway bridges, snowsheds, building foundations and the
monument at the summit of the pass are evidence of tho park's rich
history. Much has been forgotten, however, in the period of neglect
and isolation from 1925 to 1962, and it is the hope of the author
that this boief chronological history of the area may help to
remedy this fact..
Until the 1880's explorers and fur traders generally circumvented tho inhospitable Selkirks by way of the. Columbia River and
Boat Encampment. In 1881, Major Rogers, upon the suggestion of an
earlier explorer, Moberly, penetrated the upper Illecillewaet from
the west and discovered the pass now named in his honour. The 8
route through the mountains via this pass was considered suitable for the trans-continental railway and by 1885 the line had
been completed, Sandford Fleming, while inspecting the route in
1883, suggested that part of the area around the pass be declared
a park. Accordingly in 1886 and I887 some 30 square miles including the pass, Mount Sir Donald and the Great Glacier were set aside
as a reserve. The Canadian Pacific, realising the tourist potential
of the region, built a dining lodge with 6 rooms for accommodation
some two miles west of the pass, and a mile from the Great Glacier.
In 1888, over 1000 people stayed at the Glacier House, as it was
called, and others had to be accommodated in a sleeping car at the
station. At this time the main settlement in the park was just
east of the pass. A town had grown up when over 7000 men were
employed? building the railway. Most of the stores and hotels were
built alongside the tracks, the buildings being set between the
stumps of huge trees that had been cut down to make way for the
development. Elsewhere in the park and surrounding area people
were intermittently prospecting, assessing lumber prosp ects,
hunting and trapping. In 1890 the Glacier House was expanded to
36 rooms and was often full during the few summer months it was
open. People came from all over the world to hike and climb or
view the Great Glacier, which was studied from 1886 onwards, especially by the Vaux family.
Surveying of the region began in 1886 and in 1888 the Rev.
Green included the first map of the area in his book about the
Selkirks, This was followed by the triangulation of the railway
belt by Drewry in 1891 and 1892.
By 1898, over 12,000 people had stayed at the Glacier House
and many of the easier peaks in the vicinity had been climbed,
Peter Sarbach was the first Swiss guide to climb in the area having
been brought out by members of the Alpine Club in 1897. In 1899.
the C.P„R. provided two Swiss guides, Feuz and Haesler, for the
summer season at the hotel. With their help lib.  Sir Donald was
climbed for the first time that year along with many other peaks,
1899 was also a memorable year at the town of Rogers Pass
which was largely destroyed by an avalanche that swept down from
the slopes of Mount Tupper. At least eight peop le were killed
and consequently the town and station were moved one mile west.
From 1901 to 1902 Arthur Wheeler undertook the topographical
survey of the region. Apart from a map, he produced a magnificent
book called The Selkirk Range, which was published in 1905 and
remains the classic and most comprehensive work on the area.
In 1903. the area of the park was increased to 57^>  square
miles and thus included the valleys of the Beaver, Mountain Creek,
Incommapleux.. and many more high peaks, such as Dawson and Macoun.
Although there had been fires in this country, as well as trappers
and prospectors, it was generally inaccessible and unspoiled. It was
in the Cougar Valley, newly included in the park, that the Nakimu
Caves xrere discovered. These limestone caverns had been bypassed by two prospectors, Woolsey and Scott, also by Feuz and Wheeler,
but in 1904 Charles Deutschmann, a hunter and trapper, found them
and staked them as a mineral claim. The following year they were
explored and while Deutschmann relinquished his claim he got the
job of making the caves accessible to the public, then serving as
guide and caretaker.
Glacier .House was now at the peak of its popularity and a
further 54 rooms were added in 1906. Mrs Young was the hostess at
the hotel which now boasted a bowling allejr, darkroom, elevator,
observation tower, fountain, lawns and gardens.
The town at Rogers Pass declined still further and in 1910
it was struck again by an avalanche. A rescue team was also enveloped in a second avalanche and over 60 people were killed altogether.
There were further big slides in 1911 and 1912 often causing disruption of rail service or danger to life. In 1913, therefore, the
C.P.R. decided to eliminate this section of track by tunnelling under
the pass. The five mile, straight, Connaught Tunnel was opened in
1916 and was a costly and impressive engineering feat at the time.
Many men were employed for years and a small town sprang up at the
western end of the tunnel, in the Illecillewaet Valley. Glacier
House was now a mile from the railway but was linked to the new
Glacier station by a road along which passengers were taken in a
Tally-Ho. The hotel continued to flourish until 1925 when its
doors closed for the last time. A number of reasons may be cited
as to why the hotel was closed. The structure was old and required
repairs, furthermore, similar hotels at Banff and Lake Louise had
recently been gutted by f;Lre. Tourists were now coming to the
parks by car and there was no road access to Glacier Park, hence
the hotel had possibly become uneconomic, a fact not aided by the
short summer season of the Selkirks. The C.P.R. doubtlessly wanted
to cut their costs and centralise their operations in the most
promising and popular resorts, like Banff. In 1929 the hotel was
dismantled and the rubbish burnt and the site cleared, so that all
that can be found today are the stone foundations and a conple of
old boilers not far from the old railroad bed.
In 1930, the boundaries of the park were again changed, so
as to conform with the topography, and the park assumed its final
shape and size of 521 square miles, The National Parks Branch
began to manage the area more effectively from this date, in particular, hunting and trapping were brought to an end, fire protection was improved and the warden system developed.
During the next two decades, on average, only 1000 people
visited the p ark each year. They came by train and either camped
or occasionally stayed at the general store in the village of
Glacier, at the west end of the tunnel. . Minimal facilities, such
as trails and bridges were maintained to assist the visitors, most
of whom were climbers or scientists. Jin 19^7,  the Alpine Club of
Canada built the Wheeler Hut, near the old Glacier House site, to
aid climbers visiting the area. This fine log structure still
stands today, overlooking the Illecillewaot campground. 10
In the 1950's the Rogers Pass route was examined to determine its suitability as a location for the Trans-Canada Highway.
The avalanche hazard was critical so in 1956 an observation post
was established on Mount Abbot and for a number of years snow conditions in the area were intensively studied. The outcome, after
much debate on possible routes. was the construction of the road
via the pass, beginning in 1959- This impressive modern highway
was opened in 1962, on two occasions in fact, and traffic has increased markedly nearly every year. The Northlander Motor Hotel
located, just east of the pass was opened in 1964 and is the modern
equivalent of the old Glacier House. To accommodate more .hardy
visitors campgrounds have been developed at Loop Creek, Illecillewaet and Mountain Creek. Although facilities are available many
people still drive straight through the area en route to Banff or
Vancouver. As more people discover Glacier, and the seemingly
inevitable imp rint of man increases, the quality of the park's
environment may change for the worse. Perhaps you should spend
some time there soon, while the historic evidence is still obvious
and the landscape of the backcountry not unlike that at which Rogers
and the first Victorian tourists marvelled.
The following essay was awarded a prize in the Secondary
School Regional Section, Vancouver region, of the British Columbia
Historical Association Centennial Scholarship Competition in 1968.
It was written by Michael Robinson, St. George's School, Vancouver,
Rose Skuki was born in Lytton around 1870 - she cannot
remember the date, only that she was born where the two rivers meet.
Her father was a typical elder of the Lytton Band - short, stocky
and dark. Rose's mother was originally of the Musqueam Band, but
was carried off in a spring raid. The Lyttons had to raid the
Musqueams almost yearly to keep the tribe 'in women' as the Haidas
were always taking Lytt an Band slaves. All of the loiter coast and
interior bands fell prey to the Haidas' slaving parties at one time
or another before 1850.*
And so Rose made her rude entrance into the harsh world.
She was a strong child and survived the perils of Indian birth and
childhood. Many squaws lost their young every winter to pneumonia
and fever. As a Lytton woman, Rose was expected to work for the
Band from an early age. She spent four arduous years getting 'child
flesh' on her bones, and sometime during the fifth winter of her
life she began to help gather firewood with her eleven brothers and
sisters. It was .their winter task to keep the fires burning in the
sooty cedar shacks, During the cold months the elders would smoke
horsetail-grass tobacco around the lodge fires and tell stories of
their youthful prowess. The women would sit together and gossip
while they wove baskets from cedar and spruce roots or chewed and
* The anti-slaving tactics of Governor Douglas put 3 stop to the
fighting. 11
worked buckskin for jackets and footwear. Rose still remembers the
fino buckskin jackets her mother used to fashion and decorate with
traders' beads.
At this point it is necessary to mention the invasion of the
white man with their river steamers. They were heading for the
gold fields of the Upper Fraser and Lightning Creek up at Barkerville and Camerontown. They had come in a motely assortment of
craft from Victoria, where ships brought prosp ectors from all
around tho world. English, American, Chinese, Dutch and Germans -
all drawn by the tales of Carmack, Tagish Charlie, Cameron and
Barker. None of tho elders could understand why men wanted the
glittering metal that was so frequent on the Fraser's banks and
tributaries. The gold was useless to Rose or anyone else in the
Band, And Rose still talks of the killing the mineral caused -
many bodies were cast upon the bars at the place where the Thompson
and Fraser met and the blue water became muddy. All too many
white men found fortune in the form of hardship and death in their
frenzied haste to find gold. In 1890 a "Brother of the Faith" came
to Lytton and with the help of the Band established the Christian
religion and built a church. The Lyttons peacefully accepted the
teachings and many old customs were forgotten. Although Rose and
her mother became Christians one Sunday, it made little difference
to their lives. Rose still swore in pidgeon English and still
made wicker backets - she was now ready to marry.
Life became a harsher reality for Rose Skuki when she started
to live with Eric August in 1889. This is the only date Rose finds
necessary to remember - "I sure was to like that boy", she says
with devout earnestness. Judging from tho ages of Rose's children,
she was married very late in life for an Indian - sometime in her
late twenties. However, she had many skills to offer in the
marriage in return for Eric's friendship. Soon the relative
niceties of ;youth were forgotten and Rose became a mother. Besides
having children, Rose spent her time cooking, weaving, fishing and
farming. Eric, like the rest of his male generation, spent most of
his days hunting, fishing, and drinking, not always in that order.
After ten years of marriage, Eric's lust died quickly and together
the elder Skukis concentrated on raising twelve little Skukis. The
Band now lived on the "Lytton Reserve" and the Skuki family dwelt
in a four-room frame house - always in sad want of repair.
In 1914 Eric August died of smallp ox and the First World
War broke out. Rose and nine of the twelve lived through the
epidemic. About this time some of the Band's women began leaving
the old customs in favour of the easier ways of the white man.
Rose kept her mother's values and concentrated on passing them down,
intact, to her children. They were reluctant to take up weaving
when they could steal a shirt from the Reserve store. The winters
came and went and life monotonously rolled by in Lytton. The war
ended and Rose's five daughters married Lytton youths. Her four
sons, Emmanuel, Charlie Frank, Kaiser, and George V Stick were all
now in their late teens. In 1924 Stick and Kaiser drowned while
net-scooping spawning salmon from the turbulent Fraser. This was
accepted as part of life and Rose went on weaving, carving and
generally creating. Ey 1940 all her daughters had borne children 12
and she was eighteen times a grandmother. The church opened an
exchange and thrift store across from the Skuki residence and
Rose was hired to run it. She still kept all the old ways and
her needlework was the best on the Reserve. The village priest,
Reverend Cameron, often bought her work, and in 1952 a man came to
see her from the National Art Gallery. "I sell him some baskets
and jackets for $200.00", Rose states with a toothless grin, "I
make good deals". In Ottawa, R. Skuki!s crafts drew critical
acclaim, and in Lytton her work drew the occasional tourist dollar.
For the past five years, Rose has refined her once primitive
tastes to unbelievable heights. She is now a Montreal Canadiens'
fan (ever since she bought her colour television set) and Rose
st ates that Toe Blake is the best coach in the world and that
Jean Beliveau is the greatest player alive. Rose also watches
the newscasts and has an opinion on every world crisis. Her
weaving and leather working tools still find active use, and in
the corner of her kitchen seven new baskets are ready for sale.
A standing order with a souvenir outlet in Banff keeps Rose
almost endlessly busy creating. Once or twice a tourist will
call on Rose's ramshackle house to bargain for (and finally buy)
a buckskin purse or porcupine quill basket. The Reverend Cameron
has talked Rose into forming a weaving guild with the four remaining weavers on the Reserve. The young children do not want to
learn about the old ways - they want money for candy and gaudy
clothes. This does not worry Rose, she adores her five greatgrandchildren. Next week she is starting on a wicker crib, just
as soon as she can save the taxi fare for the ride to the root
gathering area up on Lytton-P lat~eau, on Jackass Mountain. The
crib will be sent to the National Geographical Society in New York,
I first met Rose in August of last year (1966). I went to
see her in the Thrift Store and later went over to her home and
chose a pair of moccasins with a floral bead design. The walls
of her front room were covered with newspaper clippings of the
Stanley Cup Playoffs. There was also a full page picture of
Lester Pearson, right over Roger Maris' 'mug.' I understand that
Rose is now Carl Yastrezemski's most devout admirer. Yes, Rose
has new heroes and getting on in her late nineties she is facing
each day with unparalleled joy. Rose has had a full life - she
has seen two wars, three generations, and the birth of modern
technology. Rose Skuki may live to see the first landing on the
moon - "I hope we beat the Russians".
Before making a decision to print this essay I checked
to see where Rose Skuki is now. According to Canon Dickson of
Lytton she is still living in Lytton and in reasonably good
health. Michael Robinson was a little over 14 years old when he
first interviewed Rose Skuki and completed his essay the following year for the competition of the B.C. Historical Association.
Rose has had her wish - they did beat the Russians! - Ed.


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