British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1989

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Volume 22, No. 4
Fall 1989
ISSN 0045-2963
British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Memories of the 1930s MEMBER SOCIETIES
***** ********
Member Societies and their secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct address for their society is up-to-date.
Please send any change to both the Treasurer and the Editor at the addresses inside the back cover. The Annual Return
as at October 31st should include telephone numbers for contact.
Members' dues for the year 1988/89 were paid by the following Members Societies:
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
BCHF - Gulf Island Branch, c/o Marian Worrall, Mayne Island, VON 2J0
BCHF - Victoria Section, c/o Charlene Rees, 2 - 224 Superior Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1T3
Burnaby Historical Society, 4521 Watling Street, Burnaby, B.C. V5J 1V7
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, RO. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
District 69 Historical Society, RO. Box 3014, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2S0
East Kootenay Historical Association, P.O. Box 74, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 4H6
Fraser Nechako Historical Society, 2854 Alexander Cresent, Prince George, B.C. V2N 1J7
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1 HO
Ladysmith Historical Society, Box 11, Ladysmith, B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, Box 501, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
Nanaimo Historical Society, RO. Box 933, Station 'A', Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
Nanooa Historical and Museum Society, R.R.1, Box 22, Marina Way, Nanoose Bay, B.C. VOR 2R0
North Shore Historical Society, 623 East 10th Street, North Vancouver, B.C. V7L 2E9
North Shuswap Historical Society, P.O. Box 22, Celista, B.C. VOE 1 LO
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum and Archives, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1 WO
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society, c/o Mrs. Cora Skipsey, RO. Box 352, Qualicum Beach, B.C. VOR 2T0
Saltspring Island Historical Society, RO. Box 705, Ganges, B.C. VOS 1 EO
Sidney and North Saanich Historical Society, P.O. Box 2404, Sidney, B.C. V8L 3Y3
Silvery Slocan Historical Society, P.O. Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG 1S0
Trail Historical Society, RO. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
Affiliated Groups
B.C. Museum of Mining, RO. Box 155, Britannia Beach, B.C. VON 1J0
City of White Rock Museum Archives Society, 1030 Martin Street, White Rock, B.C. V4B 5E3
Fort Steele Heritage Park, Fort Steele, B.C. VOB 1N0
The Hallmark Society, 207 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2K8
Nanaimo Centennial Museum Society, 100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2X1
Second Class registration number 4447
Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Federation, RO. Box 35326, Station E,
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5. A Charitable Society recognized under the Income Tax Act.
Subscriptions: Institutional, $16.00 per year; Individual (non-members), $8.00.
Financially assisted by the Government of British Columbia through the British Columbia Heritage Trust.
Back issues of the British Columbia Historical News are available in microform from Micromedia Ltd., 158 Pearl St., Toronto,
Ontario M5H 1L3-Micromedia also publishes the Canadian Magazine Index and the Canadian Business Index.
Indexed in the Canadian Periodical Index. British Columbia Historical News
Volume 22, No. 4 • Fall, 1989
Journal of the RC. Historical Federation
This Look at the 1930's has been
a pleasure to compile. Contributions
on a diversity of scenarios should
give readers a glimpse of our province during those years. There is
nostalgia tempered with some uncomfortable facts; the theme, however, shows that citizens cheerfully
coped with every challenge - and
there are no regrets.
The Spring 1990 issue is to be
"The Okanagan Special" while
Winter and Summer issues continue
to be a potpourri of B.C. history.
Possible future themes are "Because
of the War" and "Our Ethnic
Mosaic". "Because of the War" can
encompass war brides, shifts of population, war work, women in industry, communities that became armed
services bases, and many other direct and indirect changes caused by
the several wars since British
Columbia became an entity.
Those of you with collections of interesting information are challenged
to share that information with readers of the Historical News. Write an
article on your favorite bit of B.C.
history and mail it in to the Editor.
Naomi Miller
Cover Credit
This photo was taken by E.A. Harris
of Vancouver, describing it as,
"Model T on a B.C. Interior road . .
typical of the 1930's. This picture
was taken in the summer of 1932
when driving to the Okanagan. The
road here leads on to Merritt and
the lake in the distance is Nicola
Table of Contents & Editorial
Employment & Unemployment: A Diary of the 30's
by A.J. Builder
Trackers in the Wilderness
by Carle Jones
Writing Competition
A Wardens Life in Kootenay National Park
by Josephine Cobb
Memories of Motoring in the 1930's
by Ernest A. Harris
The Comox Nurses Strike of 1939
by JoAnn Wittaker
Enterprise in the 1930's
by lima Dunn
A White Collar in the Thirties
by J.A. Green
Memories of Housekeeping in the 1930's
by Winnifred Ariel Weir
The Early History of New Westminster
I.WA. Local (1-357)
by Werner Kaschel
Gems From Archives
An Incident in Diplomacy
by Fraser Wilson
News & Notes
BookShelf: Book Reviews
As Wise As Serpents
Review by Gordon Elliot
Hammerstone, the Biography of an Island.
Review by Ruth Barnett
The Accidental Airline
Review by Jim Bowman
Manuscripts and correspondence for the editor are to be sent to PO. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Correspondence regarding subscriptions are to be directed to the subscription secretary (see inside back cover)
B.C. Historical News Employment and Unemployment
A Diary of the 30s
It was early in April, 1932, when I
returned to Canada on the S.S.
Montcalm and it was anything but a
prosaic crossing, as the Atlantic was
truly awful and the sea so rough
that we passengers were seldom allowed on deck. Half way across the
Atlantic we were told that the ship
had been obliged to change course
and we were sailing to the rescue of
an SOS call of distress. In due time
we reached the stricken vessel; it
was by then almost dusk and the
ships searchlights were playing on
the water. We watched the crew
launching the lifeboat with some difficulty and slowly row their way to
the sinking vessel. After an hour or
so struggle they were able to take
on board the crew of the boat - they
were Norwegians, about twelve of
them and a dog - and all were transported safely to our liner and taken
to Halifax.
It was my intention to go to
Toronto and it was with no easy
feeling that I set out for that city.
My total "wealth" was $15.00 or so,
and I could not hope to survive long
on that pittance. I knew that a job
of any kind was next to impossible,
but what could one do in such circumstances? One thing seemed as
good "or bad" as another, it was
equally severe everywhere in
Canada and all one could do was to
look at the whole situation with a
certain amount of amusement. A
sense of humour is often a saving
grace. The Canadian government
seemed apathetic in their attitude to
the situation and did little to help
matters. Canada in those days
lagged far behind most Western nations in social legislation, and sensible relief programmes as were instituted by the Roosevelt
administration in the U.S.A. were
not initiated.   It seemed to many of
by A.G. Builder
us that we were in for a long period
of stagnation.
I found a cheap place to live, but a
week saw my dwindling funds exhausted and I was obliged to leave
with no prospects at all, and leave
my belongings behind for future collection. It was late in April now and
I had no recourse but to take to the
highway and keep going - just
where it did not seem to matter! I
hiked all over the Niagara peninsula
during the next few weeks with
many others in the same situation.
We went to the town police station
at night where the law compelled
them to give us a cell for the night
and a meal ticket in the morning for
our breakfast; the rest of the day we
went hungry. At the odd times we
got a few hours work and just went
from place to place. No one was allowed to spend two consecutive
nights in the same town police station; it soon became a nightmare existence.
After several weeks of this odd sort
of life my feet became sore from blisters and badly worn out shoes and I
decided to go back to Toronto. As
soon as I reached that city I went to
the Anglican Cathedral and saw one
of the canons and told him my story,
and that I wished to return to
Western Canada where I was better
known. I asked him if he could find
me a little job to enable me to make
this journey. He not only gave me a
job cleaning up the Cathedral
grounds, but found me a hostel for
my room and board and bought me
a pair of shoes! At the completion of
my work he gave me $10.00 for the
trip to Vancouver. That same day I
arranged with the CPR. to collect
my trunk and ship it to the Pacific
coast - that cost me $5.00 and with
the other $5.00 I boarded the nightly   seaboard    freight    train    to
Vancouver. I remained on this train
all the way - it took five days to
complete the journey and I hardly
slept at all. When we stopped at divisional points I went to the stores
to buy food for the trip, but it was
quite an ordeal. I was very tired indeed when we finally reached
Vancouver and I went to old friends
for a few days to recuperate.
I soon discovered that conditions
were no better in British Columbia
than they were in Eastern Canada,
and was convinced that a job was
probably easier to get in the rural
areas rather than in the cities. I
made my mind up to go to the prairies and work on the harvesting of
the grain crops as that season was
fast approaching. So it became a
matter of riding the freight trains
again. I made for southern
Saskatchewan and once there quickly got work on a farm. Harvesting
could be great fun in the days before
the combine harvester was invented.
A gang consisted of six bundle
teams, two field pitchers and a man
on the grain separator. It was very
hard work, at least twelve hours per
day in the field, besides looking after one's team of two horses. Before
the threshing the grain had to be
stooked. This process took about
two weeks and the threshing about
six weeks, as the farmer for whom I
worked did some custom work on
the adjacent farms. But the regular
meals were a great delight to those
of us who experienced considerable
hunger in the months before and we
did full justice to the excellent quality supplied to us. The women on
each successive farm on which we
worked seemed to vie with one another on the quality of food served. I
probably ate more in one meal than
I would eat in a week nowadays.
When the work was completed I had
RC Historical News saved $150.00 and prepared to return to the Pacific coast for the winter months, where I could eke out
these funds until the following
I returned to Vancouver by freight
train and during the journey I met
one of the most remarkable men
that has been my good fortune to encounter. He was obviously English,
good looking and with a splendid
physique. Conversation, so easy in
such circumstances, was soon established, and he told me that his
name was Ulrich Mignon, an odd
name for an Englishman, but it suited him well - one could not imagine
him being called Percy or Claude or
something so tame! He was an interesting talker and appeared to
have a working knowledge of most
subjects - from ballet to ballistics.
He was good natured, and witty
and had a Rabelaisian sense of humour. Some time later I discovered
that he had an Oxford University
degree and had been a Pilot Officer
in the R.A.F. The only subject that
he did not discuss with me were his
present circumstances and his reason for being in Canada at that
After several days of travel, in
which we found one another's company delightful and were beginning
to know one another reasonably
well, we thought that it would be a
suitable arrangement if we found
quarters together and share our
worldly possessions - such as they
were! He had never been to the
Pacific coast before but I knew it
quite well and had many friends in
Vancouver. On arrival in that city
we headed for an apartment block
where I had stayed before. It was
called the Victorian Apartments and
was situated on Seymour Street. It
was, in fact , a veritable Victorian
monstrosity. It consisted of three
flights of housekeeping rooms and
on the vestibules on each floor there
was a row of hard leather chairs
each with its own spitoon beside it.
These revolting receptacles were still
in vogue in all the second-rate hotels
and rooming houses in those days
and now, fortunately, like the cham
ber pot, merely collectors items.
We were to spend about a year
and a half together and I enjoyed
most of it. He had many interests
and was widely read and I am forever grateful to him for implanting in
me some measure of his love for the
arts and sciences. He wrote well,
and some of his pieces were accepted
by the Vancouver papers; he was
also very talented at illustrative
poster work and some of it was taken by the advertising media. Our
social life was quite fun too, as although we only had occasional odd
jobs our lady friends had steady employment and we were asked out to
various social events. There seemed
no reason to feel parasitic about it,
as I am sure that we provided as
much of the fun as did our hosts.
Eventually, he met a man of some
influence in the business world and
he was offered a good job with the
Standard Oil Company in their
Vancouver office. On the strength of
this piece of good fortune he decided
to be married. I often visited their
apartment and it remained a pleasant relationship with both him and
his wife Erica. During the next few
years and after I departed from the
city I heard from mutual friends
that he no longer had this job and
that his marriage was a failure.
This somewhat saddened me. Some
time later, during the early years of
the war and I was in the Canadian
army, I heard he had become a
Squadron Leader in the RCAF and
remained in Canada for the duration
of the war. One of his extra activities during the latter years of the
war was being the editor of the official RCAF news sheet and also its
cartoonist, in which he created his
famous character Sergeant
Satherwaite (or some such name). I
had almost lost touch with him now,
and it was some time later that a
mutual friend wrote to me and told
me that after the war was over he
worked for some years with
Manpower and had married again,
successfully, but had recently died
at an early age of 58. I had always
wondered why this man with all
that potential, a striking appear
ance and personality and remarkable
intelligence had never attained the
heights to which he could and should
have risen. I suppose there must
have been missing some of the ingredients which make for success - perhaps it was lack of ambition.
Nevertheless, when thinking of the
people whom I have met over the
years, this man stands out like a
bright light; it was a great experience
to have known him - and great fun,
It was early in the spring of 1934
when Ulrich married and I was on
my own again with very little money
but managed to get a few small jobs
to keep the pot boiling - painting the
houses of two of my more affluent
friends, for the princely sum of twenty-five cents an hour; but that at the
very least kept me going, so the
search for something better went on.
There is an eccentric streak in most
of us mortals when we aspire to become something for which we may
not be particularly gifted by nature to
perform, and in which there is no logical reason for success. For example,
the comedian who would be a
Hamlet, the indifferent dancer who
aspires to be a ballerina. In my particular case the need for a crowning
achievement in life was based on economic matters rather than aesthetic
ambitions. It was the Spring of
1934, when the great depression was
at its lowest point and most of us felt
like second-class citizens and wished
to climb out of the morass. Every
day we searched to advertisements
in the daily paper for jobs. One day,
to my amazement I saw an ad. from
a vacuum cleaner company who imported the new Swedish Electrolux
machine and needed salesmen. The
ad. stated that anyone who was interested could apply at their office in
Granville Street at 11:00 a.m. the following morning. On arrival there I
found at least twenty other applicants at the rendezvous, equally
threadbare and seedy looking who,
like me had probably breakfasted on
porridge and coffee - a mere fifteen
cents in those days.
The office door soon opened and we
all entered to be greeted by an unctu-
B.C. Historical News ous looking individual who seemed
to be the office manager. The interviews were en bloc; then followed a
recital of our names, addresses and
telephone numbers. All of us were in
fact hired, regardless of experience,
for after all the company had little
to lose - apart from some loss of
their time - as the job carried no basic salary, merely commission on
sales. We were instructed to come
the following day for a demonstration of the machine and its various
tools; the day after for a talk on the
arts ( and grafts ) of salesmanship
and on the third day we were to sally forth with one of the experienced
salesmen already in their employ.
On arrival on the third day I was
surprised to see that a piano had
been installed, and after a brief pep
talk we were obliged to gather
around this instrument and join in a
few suitable ditties, such as
"Onward Christian Soldiers". All
this, I presume, was intended to
bring us to a pitch of fervour, like a
revivalist meeting. The object being
to seize a vacuum cleaner under one
arm, a sales book under the other,
and march out full of electronic enthusiasm! The whole business
seemed to me completely vacuous
and utterly ridiculous, but perhaps
this was the modus operandi of the
selling game at this period.
My particular instructor for the
day was evidently a very experienced man at the selling trade. We
went to New Westminster and in
the course of the day visited five
dental establishments. The only
reason I could think of for his penchant for dentists was that he might
be paying off old bills. During the
day four cleaners were sold which
meant a commission of $30.00 per
machine for this salesman-genius
who, with such a display of selling
artistry, buoyed up my own hopes
for such unexpected riches! I might
add that my recompense for the day
was a slice of apple pie and a cup of
coffee at lunchtime, for although he
lived in that city I was not invited to
his house.
The following day I was to be on
my own in Vancouver, so in the eve
ning I made a list of doctors - thinking that they must be at least as
good prospects as were the dentists
- and possibly of a higher status in
the professions. A few telephone
calls were made and the third call
secured an interview for the following morning with a doctor's wife at
their home where I would demonstrate the machine. That evening I
carefully vacuumed my room, sufficiently to know that there was some
debris in the bag (which is a common
trick in this trade).
At 10:00 the next morning I arrived at the doctor's home - it was
an elegant establishment - and I
was greeted affably by the lady, and
after the usual polite conversation I
got down to business. There can
hardly be a woman in the western
world of today who at some time in
her life has not undergone a demonstration of this kind, so I decided to
proceed by the book. At first a section of carpet is selected - approximately eight feet square; the machine must be adjusted accordingly
and the patch assiduously worked
over for at least five minutes. Then
the various tools are used for the
crannies of the chairs, etc. The next
procedure is to put a large section of
newspaper on the vacuumed carpet,
remove the dust bag and carefully
shake the contents (which in most
cases is about the equivalent of a
child's sand pail at the beach ). At
this moment a quick look at the
lady filled me with pity and some
degree of shame; doubtless she
thought that I must consider her a
slut, so I quickly reassured her that
it was nothing unusual as no other
cleaner on the market at that time
was capable of such efficiency. This
mollified her to some degree and I
thought that this was the psychological moment to finalize a sale, but
according to the book the full power
of the machine must be demonstrated. So a section of parquet floor is
selected, the machine adjusted, a little polish applied and the patch vigorously polished until one's face
could be seen in it. I certainly considered that a sale was imminent at
this stage and suggested that the
pile of debris lift on the newspaper
had better be removed. The machine
switch was pushed on, and then,
horror of horrors, I realised that I
had forgotten to change the hose
from the blow-out position to the
take-in end.
There are moments in life when
one wishes to expire on the spot (a
most convenient place is a doctor's
establishment), or to eat dust as it
were, but I had to face the fact that
every speck of that was either back
again on the drapes and in every
corner of that elegant room! Red in
the face, and stammering my apologies to the lady - who by now was
almost in a state of apoplexy - I suggested that she immediately telephone her cleaning lady and that
my company would pay her in full
(like hell they would). Fortunately,
the telephone was in another room,
so as soon as she disappeared I
seized my equipment, tore out of the
front door, raced downtown, deposited my machine and handed in my
resignation. Fortunately for me all
telephones were busy that morning
for no complaints had been received
in the interim. However, dishonoured, subdued and deeply mortified
I realised that my forte in life was
not that of a salesman but rather of
a garbage collector or even a street
cleaner, and the charms of salesmanship faded into an idle dream!
Shortly after this soul shaking
event I decided to leave the city and
go to the Okanagan Valley where I
hoped to get some work in the orchards during the summer and autumn. Little was I to know that it
would be twelve years before I returned to Vancouver, but much water was to pass under the bridges of
our lives during this time. I went to
Penticton and Oliver during the season and was able to keep myself in
funds in a modest way.
It was at Penticton that I met
Harry Spencer Chapman for the first
time. He was close to forty then and
had recently had a share in his father's cattle ranch but had given this
up to work on his own; but work was
scarce when we met. It was after
the fruit season and even if work
RC. Historical News could be found the pay was quite inadequate for anything but the most
meagre living. With the Christmas
Season fast approaching prospects
of much merriment looked very poor
indeed. Harry was married and had
a baby daughter. We took an instant liking to one another - which
remained until his death in 1965.
We were both English, of similar
backgrounds, but without much formal education. He was a man of
vast resources, he was good natured
and highly intelligent, had a wonderful sense of humour and ready
wit. He was in fact an amazing
combination of brains and manual
dexterity. He could and did perform
most trades as an artisan and from
1940 until his death lived at Union
Bay and Courtenay on Vancouver
Island. During this period he designed and built over thirty houses,
literally with his own hands.
Both of us being out of jobs, we
racked our brains for some way to
make a little money for Christmas.
One of us, I cannot remember which,
thought of the Christmas tree and
decoration business, viz., holly, mistletoe, cedar boughs and Christmas
trees. Hany had the use of a large
truck, from his father's ranch, I
think, so we decided to go into the
woods and gather cedar boughs and
trees. We had solicited and obtained orders for two large trees, a
twenty footer for the biggest store in
town and a ten footer for the
Anglican Church.
We set off for the woods several
days before Christmas and after a
couple of hours drive arrived at the
spot Harry had in mind. There was
an old cabin still intact, with an ancient stove which we could use for
such elementary cooking necessary
for a stay of two days.
We went to work at once, filling
the truck with cedar boughs and by
the following afternoon we had loaded many small trees, tied the load
with ropes and set off for home on
the lookout for the two tall trees -
the 'big' money in fact! It did not
take long to obtain a suitable tree
for the church, but the twenty footer
was not to be found.    On the way
back we decided to pass through the
Indian Reserve, which was forbidden
territory for the white man, and
there were dire penalties for anyone
who had the temerity to cut down a
tree. Almost at once we saw a
spruce suitable for our purpose.
Reserve or no reserve, Harry stopped
the truck with a bang, seized an
axe, and before I could blink my eyes
the tree was on its way to the
ground. Unfortunately, at that moment, two swarthy Indians appeared out of nowhere, gesticulating
wildly and obviously cursing us with
a mixture of English and their own
tongue and with considerable venom! I was more than glad that the
days of the tomahawk had passed
by; I also thought of a possible
Christmas spent behind bars at the
Penticton lock-up!
However, as I have indicated,
Harry was a resourceful man. What
he said to those two Indians I never
knew, but in no time at all they
were filled with the Christmas spirit
(not the liquid kind). Not only did
they agree to our taking the tree but
actually helped us to tie it on the
load, then waved us off with cheerful
grins. I rated this performance of
Harry's a work of real art and
thought that he would have made
an excellent diplomat. This part of
our assignment over we proceeded
home, parking the truck in Harry's
back yard.
I must mention that before we left
for the woods I had ordered a consignment of holly and mistletoe from
the wholesalers in Vancouver - this
to be delivered by train to Penticton.
So the following morning we collected the goods and while Harry was
delivering the orders and the rest of
the load I went in to every shop in
town that sold shoes and accumulated a vast supply of shoe boxes. A
sprig or two of holly and mistletoe
were placed in each box and on
Christmas Eve we set up a stall on
the main street - without interference from the police - and proceeded
to sell each box for twenty-five cents
apiece. In the end we found that we
had garnered about $120.00, a vast
sum in those days!    That was
$60.00 each which provided a large
turkey, a bottle of whiskey ($3.50
then), thus a worthy reward for a little enterprise.
During the previous summer I had
worked for a month or so in Oliver,
B.C. for an ex naval officer; Clarence
King; he owned an orchard there
and lived there with his family. He
was a remarkable man, serving the
British mercantile marine until the
outbreak of World War I when he became a skipper of one of the "Q"
boats which were successful in beating the "U" boat menace in the
Atlantic. For these services he was
awarded two decorations. In the
Second World War he served with
the Canadian Navy - although by
now he had reached the age of 51.
He again had a splendid record in
the anti-submarine campaign and
received decorations from both the
Canadian and United States governments.
He had been in the district for
about five years and had planted
out his twenty acres with fruit trees.
As everybody knows it takes several years of growth before fruit trees
become a paying proposition, so in
order to live and support his family
he grew ground crops - tomatoes,
cantaloupes, cucumbers, etc. In fact,
such crops were grown by all or-
chardists in the early years of the
southern Okanagan fruit industry
and were, in fact, its mainstay. The
King family became my very good
friends. Clarence died in 1965 and
his wife, Olive, who lived to 92 years
of age died a year or two ago.
While I was with the King's that
summer Clarence suggested to me
that I might consider working on a
crop sharing basis the following
year; as he had other irons in the
fire. The proposition was that he
would till the soil and supply the
equipment and I would raise the
plants from seed in the greenhouses,
plant out the crop and do the harvesting. It seemed a reasonable
proposition to me and settled the
problem of how to live in the coming
So it was in February, 1935 that I
joined the Kings in Oliver and lived
B.C. Historical News with the family until they moved to
a new house later in the year. For
the first two months I did the preliminary work in the greenhouses -
sowing seed and transplanting
when necessary; it was also very important to maintain the stoves in
the greenhouses to withstand frost,
so this meant a vigil at night, too.
Early in May the ground was warm
enough to commence planting out
into the ground - these crops are
grown between the rows of fruit
trees. In all I raised 19,000 plants,
viz; tomatoes, cantaloupes, cucumbers and cabbages and all had to be
constantly irrigated and cultivated
and I never seemed to stop work. In
fact, as I recollect, I worked at least
twelve hours per day, seven days a
week, including Sundays and holidays. I had very little money to
spend and my diet was most meagre, but the thought of a good crop
and money to spend buoyed my
hopes and kept me cheerful. It developed into a bad season - a late
crop because everything was late in
maturing and late crops meant poor
prices. In fact, the crops were so
late that the prairie market was lost
to the Niagara growers, who happened to be early that year. Our local packing and marketing facility
was not able to cope with the situation. I have a poignant recollection
of picking forty large boxes of semi-
ripe tomatoes one day which were
never picked up by the packing
house as the market was dead.
These very quickly perished in the
hot Okanagan sun. As soon as the
season was over Clarence and I discovered that our profit was only
about $300.00 each instead of the
$1,500.00 that we had hoped for.
Such calamities hurt.
As the season wore on and it became evident to me that the financial rewards would not be great I applied for a job with the Northern
Mining Syndicate who operated a
gold mine at Osoyoos, and was just
a few miles away from the King
property and almost on the Canada/
USA border. I was advised that a
job would be available and that I
could start work there when my
growing season was over. It was
with considerable elation that I
heard this news, it was the fall of
1935, and the depression was already of six years duration. As far
as I was concerned it was possible
that my troubles might be over.
It would be impossible for anyone
who had not experienced many
years of such conditions to understand what it is like, or what it can
do to a person. It must be remembered that during the long years of
hardship there was no adequate
system of relief as there is today, no
unemployment pay or proper relief
programmes, such as were instituted by the Roosevelt administration
in the U.S.A. After the first year or
so the B.C. Government did institute
a meagre form of assistance, as I recall it was 35-cents a day for food
and $1.45 a week towards rent!.
It is an unpleasant situation
when, for the first time, you realise
that you do not have any money for
food and shelter. These facts are
hard to bear; hunger for a limited
period does very little harm, but being without shelter at night is a
frightening experience and lowers
the morale very quickly. During the
past year I was homeless on many
occasions, sleeping in police stations, railway cars, parked cars on
the highways, haystacks, barns and
sundry other places - at least safe
from the vagaries of the weather.
But the hardest thing to endure in
this situation is the simple fact that
you are no longer a normal person,
with a normal person's perspective,
leading a normal life, but rather an
outcast from society, contributing
nothing to life in general and having
at times to ask people for food; this
is a personal humiliation and difficult to become reconciled to.
Fortunately, for me, I am an optimist by nature and remained convinced that thing would come all
right in the end (as they have), and
I think that my sense of humour
helped me to get through those
times - for, after all is said and
done, almost all tragic events have
their comic relief from time to time
and make life endurable.
It was in after years that I came
to realise that in spite of all the frustrations and hardships the experience of it all did me good. It taught
me the value of work as a stabliser
of life, both to the body and the human psyche; and in the real sense
the experience gave me physical and
mental endurance - qualities that I
would need as the years passed by.
There is a school of thought today
which pontificates that hard work is
not necessary for mankind and that
any kind of mechanical invention for
the alleviation of human effort is a
good thing. I do not agree. From
the personal point of view I can say
that I rather enjoyed work and accepted it usually as a challenge,
whether the work was merely manual or using one's brain. For man has
been a working animal since he first
evolved and his body and mind are
attuned to the ethics of it. What
will happen to man when it is a
completely push button world, one
hesitates to think. It cannot be a
Roman holiday forever, and the vast
majority of mankind are not and
probably never will be capable of a
contemplative life.
Another enormous asset gained
during those depression years was
the real friends I made, a few of
whom are still living and who I see
from time to time. I remember particularly Robina Martin and Janet
Gibson, two Canadian ladies both of
whom had secretarial posts in the
British Embassy in Tokyo, and both
of them back in Vancouver on furlough in the winter of 1932. These
two good friends often fed Ulrich and
myself and gave us the run of their
houses. Alas, they both died some
years ago.
It was, therefore, late in
September, 1935 that I commenced
working at this mining property. It
was only a small concern employing
about fifty men; we lived in cabins
on the property and had our meals
in the cookhouse. My first job was in
the lowest category of the mining
i.e. mucking, which is simply going
in to the mine after the miners have
blasted the rock and shovelling it
into mine cars for dispatch to the
RC Historical News crushing mill. It was hard, physical
work but that was not a new experience for me. After a month or two on
this work I was sent to one of the diamond drillers as his helper; this
was much more interesting working
and slightly higher pay, too. After a
few months the driller left the employ of the company and I, having
become reasonably efficient at the
work, was given the job. This, of
course, meant even higher wages (by
the standard of those days). I was
on this work for close to two years
and from time to time I was 'lent' by
the mining company to two of the
other gold properties in the area
who required some exploration done.
This made the work even more interesting. Early in 1937 a large sodium cyanide plant was completed
on the mine property: this was to extract the maximum gold from the
ore. I was then transferred to work
in this mill as an operator and spent
a few weeks learning the work from
an expert in gold milling. There
was no hard work involved in this;
merely keeping the plant going
smoothly and making various tests
throughout one's shift. We were
obliged to work seven days a week
all round the clock, and apart from
the long change from day shift to
midnight shift had no time off at all!
The company did not hire a spare
operator. I recall working one
Christmas Day, in fact I was obliged
to put in sixteen hours as the man
that should have relieved me had
succumbed to an early Christmas
celebration! However, after the difficult times of some previous years
none of us minded this strenuous life
very much.
Moreover, it was a pleasant locality in which to live and we managed
to lead an enjoyable social life in the
limited time at our disposal. There
was a badminton club for winter and
excellent tennis club for the summer
months. I joined a debating society
which met once a month; we also
played bridge and danced when
these things offered themselves. I
also bought my first car ever in
1937, a Chevrolet coupe - much better built than today's offerings.   But
as the days of 1938 and 1939
passed by it became increasingly obvious that we were in for another
war and it was the subject of much
speculation as to when it would be
upon us. I, as an ex-militia officer,
had no doubt what I would do when
it came. I remember coming off shift
at midnight on September 4, 1939,
and listening to a radio broadcast
from England telling us that
England had declared war on
Germany. Also listening to this programme with me was a German employee - a very rabid fascist. Ours
were very mixed emotions.
There was no sleep for me that
night as I began to formulate plans
for my immediate future. I had
made up my mind, of course, to join
up as soon as possible and having
bought a new car a few months before I decided that I would drive
right across the country and join my
old battalion - now the Princess
Louise Fusiliers - in Halifax, Nova
Scotia. (The machine gun corps had
long been disbanded). I resigned
from my job that same day, settled
my limited affairs, said goodbye to
most of my friends and set off on
this lengthy journey with about
$100.00 in my pocket - all my
worldly wealth!
Impetuosity has always been a
characteristic of mine and it has, at
times, caused me difficulties. If I
had considered all the hazards of
such a journey it is most unlikely
that I would have made it. In the
first place it is close to 4,000 miles
to Nova Scotia and I had no idea of
what it would cost or clear picture of
the route that I would take, and
with only $100.00 I could land myself in trouble. I had only driven a
few thousand miles in my life and
never in traffic of any substance. In
rural British Columbia in those days
sometimes one could drive for miles
without seeing another car. A trip
across the continent entailed passing through many of the larger cities, and this alone would have been
sufficiently discouraging to dissuade
me from making the trip. However,
on September 9th, 1939, I set off
into the state of Washington east of
Spokane, with the route Chicago,
Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, the New
England states and Nova Scotia in
mind. It must be remembered there
was no through route from west to
east in Canada in these days. After
the first night on the road I arrived
in the town of Missoula, Montana
about lunchtime and went to a cafe
to have some food, looking through
the advertisements for interest. In
the local paper I noted that a lady
was looking for transportation to St.
Pauls, Minnesota and would be glad
to pay any motorist a share of the
expenses. I immediately telephoned
to her and arranged to collect her
and her luggage in an hour or two.
On arriving at the door she eyed me
with a certain amount of suspicion -
probably wondering if either her
purse or her virtue were safe in my
company. I told her that I was on
my way to join the Canadian army
and that I would charge her $10.00
for the trip. This was reasonable
enough as it was about 1500 miles;
she was glad to accept my offer and
off we went.
It was a two day drive to the city
and entailed staying for the night at
a hotel. She told me that she was
going to St. Pauls to stay with a
brother; on arrival I was welcomed,
too, and given a bed for the night.
The next morning I set off out of
Minnesota and into the Dakotas,
then south into Illinois - fortunately
I was able to by-pass Chicago which
I had dreaded because of the traffic
problem. The roads that I had travelled to date had been good and the
traffic by no means dense; now and
then I encountered a flock of sheep
or herd of cattle on the highway. I
then made my way into Michigan
and to Detroit where I knew that I
must find the tunnel that took one
to Windsor, Ontario. This proved
easier than expected and I went on
to Toronto and stayed with some old
friends for the night. Just outside
the city the next morning en route to
Montreal I picked up a young hitchhiker, he turned out to be a university student anxious to get to
Montreal. He paid for some gas and
took a spell at driving - this was a
RC. Historical News great help to me. Also, being a resident of that city he was aware of all
the best routes going east, so after a
meal he drove me to a convenient
place for me to set off. I was now on
the last stage of my journey,
through the New England states,
then New Brunswick and finally
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The journey turned out to be 4,400
miles, it had taken ten days and
only cost me about $60.00 from my
own pocket. Gasoline while driving
in the States was only 18-cents per
gallon, meals were from 30-cents up
and a respectable hotel room cost a
mere $1.00 a night. I hesitate to
think what a trip of this nature
would cost today! I still had about
$50.00 in my wallet and I had
made it!
So this was the end of an era as
far as I was concerned, the future
was uncertain (if one survived it) but
life was vastly exciting.
A.G. (Gerry) Builder came to Canada in
1923. He crossed the Atlantic 25 times before
settling in to retirement in Victoria. This gentleman enroled fbr a Senior s Writing course
when he was 77 - This teas part of his autobiography that he wrote while taking the
course ten years ago.
Trackers in the Wilderness
by Carle Jones
Simon Peter Gunanoot, a Hazelton
Indian, became quite famous when
he successfully eluded all Law
Enforcement Officers for thirteen
years as they hunted him in the
rugged Skeena Country of North
Western B.C. following the murder
of two whitemen at Hazelton in
I never knew Simon Gunanoot, but
I did know his younger brother
Dave, and this story will allude to
an almost meeting we had in 1938.
When Dave and other Indian families left their traplines in the Bowser
Lake and Meziaden Country, they
would come out over the Bear Pass
to American Creek and camp there
while they sent a runner into
Stewart to make a deal with some
truckers to haul them into town,
where they would meet Mr.
Goldbloom, a fur buyer from Prince
These meetings could take place at
any time of the year, but this one occurred late in the Spring of 1938, after the heaviest snow had gone.
My partner and I had a Model "A"
Ford, stake body truck and we
would often haul them. Men,
Women, Kids and Dogs of all sizes.
All except the Chief carried packs,
some of those Squaws could carry
prodigious loads, even quite small
children carried packs. Fox Terriers
carried little packs, and big
Malemutes could carry over fifty
We liked Dave Gunanoot, he had
as we said, "Never Come In" and
hadn't been spoiled too much by our
so called Civilization. His wife was
a pleasant looking woman who had
enough Mission training to read and
write a little and could do simple
sums. They had two or three children.
On this occasion they had finished
their trading and we had hauled
them back up to American Creek
where they had loaded their packs
and struck off for their traplines.
A couple of days later an inspector
of the B.C. Provincial Police came in
on the boat and told the local
Policeman, who was new on the job,
that he wanted to talk to Dave
Gunanoot. The local policeman
knew that Ray and I had some contact with the Indians, so they asked
us to take them to meet Dave. They
wouldn't state their business, and
we were a little worried of the consequences if they were not diplomatic
when they did meet him. He didn't
trust white men, particularly
We told them where we had left
Dave and the other families, so they
hired us to help overtake the Indians
who couldn't be far along on their
trip back to their traplines.
So with four saddlehorses and
three or four packhorses loaded with
tent, camping gear and horsefeed,
we headed out.
The second morning we hadn't
gone far when we came on the scene
of a recent camp, warm ashes, etc.,
and assured our policemen that it
had been Dave's overnight camp.
Later that day, as we made our
way through the difficult country we
overtook an Indian woman carrying
a heavy load. She had got behind
the main party when she stopped to
have a baby. The child was born
dead so she buried it, and taken up
her pack and carried on.
Knowing she was one of Dave's
band, we rearranged our packs and
put her and her load on a horse.
The Police were very pleased to have
made this contact. When we made
camp that evening we hung a horse-
blanket over one corner of the tent to
make a private sleeping place for
her. She didn't have much English,
and we didn't have any Indian, but
she knew us and asked why the
Police were here. By this time,
through talking to the young policeman, we knew that the Inspector
wanted to discuss any knowledge
RC Historical News
8 Dave might have of a fur theft over
in the Fort St. James area, some
weeks before. We told her what we
knew, but learned nothing from her.
That night she slipped away, but
was back the next morning. She
liked riding that horse and getting
her load carried. She told Ray that
Dave didn't want to talk to the
Police and that he knew nothing of
the fur theft. We believed her.
We carried on and each day we
would come on the signs of a recent
Then as the grub was running low,
the decision was made to abandon
the chase. We left the Indian woman to carry her pack and headed for
The police were disappointed, but
high in their praise of our ability as
trackers. They didn't realize that
the Indians were simply following
us each day, and then moving
ahead at night to make their camp,
stepping aside in the morning to let
us pass. Our slow pace through the
rough country enabled them to keep
up. They always knew where the
Police were with no chance of a surprise meeting.
In 1975, I visited Stewart and
learned that Dave, now widowed,
was living in the town. I walked up
and rapped on his door. As he saw
me standing there he said, "Hello
Carle, come on in", as casually as if
I was just passing on my way for
the mail.
We enjoyed a cup of coffee and a
slice of freshly baked bread in his
spotless little cabin. He was about
eighty years old then, but had gone
into Meziaden the fall before and got
his annual Moose for the winter
We spent an interesting hour reminiscing. We chuckled as we remembered that we did not tip the Police
as to what was going on for two reasons: First, we were obeying orders.
Second, jobs were not too plentiful
and this was a short job worth $5.00
plus board per day for each of us.
Also, the boss got $4.00 per day for
each horse!
We were not about to make suggestions to the Police on that trip
where we built our reputation as
Trackers in the Wilderness.
Carle Jones made his debut as a historical
writer with his 'Tuckers and Packhorses of
Stewart" in the Winter '89 NEWS. This gentleman resides in Creston where he is busy directing the operation and expansion of the
Creston Museum. Carle recruited a volunteer
to animate many of the displays in the
Creston Valley Museum (open since 1982.).
British Columbia Historical Federation
Writing Competition 1989
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submission of books or articles for the seventh annual Competition
for Writers of B.C. History.
Any book dealing with any facet of British Columbia history, published in 1989, is eligible. The work may be a community history, a biography, glimpses of the past. Names, dates and places with relevant maps or pictures turn a story into
The judges are looking for fresh presentations of historical information with appropriate illustrations, careful proof
reading, and adequate index, table of contents and bibliography. Winners will be chosen in the following categories:
1) Best history book by an individual writer.
(Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Historical Writing).
2) Best History as prepared by a group (Eg.
Bunch Grass to Barbed Wire was published by Rose Hill Farmers Institute).
3)   Best History for Junior Readers.
Awards are given where entries warrant, i.e. a lone entry in group 2 or 3 will not automatically be given a prize.
Winners receive a monetary award, a Certificate of Merit, considerable publicity, and an invitation to the Annual B.C.
Historical Federation Conference to be held in Grand Forks in May 1990. Deadline for entering 1989 books is January
31,1990, BUT submissions are requested as soon as possible after publication. Those submitting books should include
name, address, telephone number, selling price of the book, and an address from where the book may be ordered if a
reader has to shop by mail.
Mail to:  B.C. Historical Writing Competition • EO. Box 933 • Nanaimo, B.C. • V9R 5N2
There will also be an award for Best Article published in the British Columbia Historical News. This prize is reserved for amateur historians and / or undergraduate or graduate students.
Articles should be no more than 2,500 words, substantiated with footnotes if possible, accompanied by photographs if
available, and typed double spaced. (Photos will be returned.) Deadlines for quarterly issues are February 15, May 15,
August 15, and November 15. Please send articles direct to:
The Editor, B.C. Historical News, EO. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
RC Historical News A Wardens Life in
Kootenay National Park
by Josephine Cobb
In 1937 my husband of nearly a
year; Leonard Cobb and I were living in Radium Hot Springs, B.C. up
above what is now the big parking
lot housing campers and trailers visiting the Pool today. Len worked at
the Government Garage as a mechanic, and, seasonally a truck driver. We were housed in two tents set
up five hundred yards from the
Garage. One tent was for kitchen
and utility work; the other a bed sitting-room. It had a board floor and
boards for four feet up sides and end
over which a tent was fastened. A
piece of canvas called a "fly" made a
second roof, keeping snow off the
tent in winter and making the place
cooler in the summer. We were
quite comfortable and warm there,
as long as we tended the airtight
heater. If too much wood was put in
at one time it had a tendency to
overheat and blow the lid up and
down in an alarming fashion.
Len applied for the job and was accepted. Late April saw us moving
our few belongings five miles up the
road from the Park Gate. Kay's
Cabin was a frame building with a
kitchen, living room with fireplace,
and two bedrooms. There was a
sink in the kitchen and cold running
water from a tap, piped from
Sinclair Creek. A rain barrel outside
caught precious soft water. An outhouse was partially hidden among
the trees. Laundry was done in a
galvanized tub with woman power
(me) rubbing clothes on a corrugated
glass washboard. A larger tub
served us for the Saturday night
bath, whether we needed it or not.
(This function was never neglected.)
Water was heated in a large galvanized copper-bottomed boiler which
sat on the kitchen stove along with
the ever cheerful kettle. The cabin
was an improvement over our tent
-'    •   ■    ...
Kay's Cabin, as it was in 1987- when we just occupied it. All trace of it is gone now.
The position of Warden at Kay's
Cabin was advertised that spring by
the Federal Civil Service on a notice
in the Radium Hot Springs office.
RC Historical News
The duties of a warden were varied. There was fire patrol, trail
maintenance, bear control and keeping the telephone line open. The tel-
ephone line stretched from the
Radium office to the last warden's
cabin near the Alberta border. The
wire hung in long loops between
trees on which insulators were fastened. A high wind would often
down the phone line; a tree might
fall across it, or some weight would
drop the line into the snow where
current grounded wire could not
serve the receivers along the way.
Further into the Park the avalanches which came down with a thaw
would bury the line for the width of
the slide. Fire pumps must be kept
ready to start at a moments notice.
This was no small feat as they were
tricky little two-cylinder motors.
Len had a good grasp of things mechanical, but if he was puzzled he'd
stay with it till he had mastered the
problem. Those fire pumps ran efficiently when needed. A sharp eye
was kept out for lightning strikes,
and side roads were patrolled to
make sure that visitors had put out
all campfires. The area for our fire
patrol that summer was from
McLeod Meadows to the Gate.
Berries were in short supply in the
bush so consequently there were a
great many bears about. At night
we would step out on the back porch
with a flashlight: as we swung the
beam around our clearing we would
count six or seven pairs of eyes belonging to the visiting bears. Those
bears foraging for food at the hotels
near the Hot Springs were giving
some places a lot of trouble. It was
Len's job to go down and shoot the
persistent troublemakers.
Tranquilizing was not known in
those days, and there was no money
for staff, conveyances, or catch-em
alive traps to transport bears away
from habitation. One night in the
C.RR. Camp above Blakeley's Hotel, in the dark, with a five cell flashlight trained along the sights of a
twelve-gauge shotgun, he killed, he
thought, a black bear that had been
smashing all the little jello desserts
which were laid out in preparation
for a bus tour. It turned out to be a
grizzly, a more dangerous customer
than a black bear.
Len had several trips out to
McLeod Meadow where bears were
upsetting the tourists. In one instance he had to look for a bear that
made off with a cake that two ladies
were trying to bake in a cracker box
on one of the stoves in the shelters.
The improvised oven was a larger
tin over the cracker tin. Oh, the joys
of being a warden.
Len used a government Model A
light delivery truck for those trips
the first summer. He serviced it and
was glad that it had lots of power.
On one outing we came across a
small lake within the country that
was within Len's Patrol area. After
he had reported its whereabouts the
superintendent had Len and Frank
Foyston carry some trout fingerlings
into the lake in cans of water
strapped to their backs. There was
no trail. They travelled in hot
weather over windfalls and rough
country to get to it. Those transplants grew into large trout eventually. Years later we were surprised
and pleased to learn that the tarn
we first saw had been given the
name "Cobb Lake"
A warden's cabin had to be a self-
sufficient unit. We kept a rifle, axe,
pick and shovel close at hand.
White gas for one lamp and coal oil
for the other had to be stored in a
safe place. Cans of gas and tins of
oil had to be kept filled and ready
for emergencies involving truck travel. A good pile of stovewood was a
must. A large load of slabs was
hauled from E. Trethewy's mill at
Firland below Radium. When these
were dumped in the yard at Kay's
Cabin we started to cut them with a
Swede saw. However, Len rescued
an old gas powered saw from
Government discards, got it going,
and cut up the wood for the kitchen
stove and front room heater much
more quickly than anticipated.
When fall came we prepared a
carefully considered order for groceries to last during the months when
the Radium-Banff road would be
closed. Len got most of the staples
from Ray Ball's store in
Windermere. Groceries came in
large amounts; flour by the 100 lb.
sack (or 50 lb. at the smallest); sugar in 50 lb. sacks; milk by the case,
48 cans to the case; tea, coffee, and
cocoa; raisins, baking powder, soda,
dry yeast cakes, vanilla, salt;
matches; butter in a 50 lb. box at
250 per lb.; raspberry, and strawberry jam, and peanut butter in 4 lb.
tins; bacon in 6 or 7 lb. slabs; dried
prunes, apricots or apples which
came in 20 lb. boxes, each for $2.00;
rice and beans in large sacks; wholewheat flour and molasses; Canadian
bulk cheese; and sowbelly pork for
frying or cooking with beans. We
made our own cookies, cake, bread
and candy. Breadmaking was a
long drawn-out process with slow
rising yeast in each batch which
would be covered with blankets and
coats to keep it out of all drafts during the day. Our winter order of
groceries filled the back of the Model
A truck and cost about $30.00. To
supplement those supplies Len went
to Edgewater where he purchased a
side of beef at 9# per lb. from Eric
Smith, plus 50 or 100 lb. sackfulls of
carrots, potatoes, turnips, and onions. These were stored in a cold
room, created under the kitchen
In preparation for winter patrols
outlying cabins had to be checked,
cleaned, stocked with dry food (in
tins to protect it from mice) and firewood. Some of these cabins were
windowless remains of a homesteaders shack. The Kootenay River
Valley had attracted, and lost,
about a dozen homesteaders before
the area was claimed as a National
Park. Some cabins had to have a
small stove taken in for heating during emergency winter stopovers.
Pack rats and their nests had to be
ousted as far as possible. A warden
patrolling for illegal trappers or
downed telephone lines had to have
shelter after walking or snowshoe-
ing 8 to 10 miles. These duties, as
all others, were recorded in the
warden's diary; this daily report
had to be turned in at the Gateway
office at the end of each month.
Len rigged a snowplow blade on
the Model A Ford and was able to
keep the five miles of road open to
Radium Hot Springs. Economy,
however, dictated that we go to
town only once a month, unless on
government business or in an emergency. The social life as observed by
the warden's family in 1937 was
limited. Our At water Kent radio,
powered by two big "B" batteries
and a smaller "C" cell, entertained
us - when the reception was right.
Half hour comic programs such as
Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack
Benny, and Amos 'n Andy were
much appreciated. That winter the
World Boxing Championship was being fought by Joe Louis and Max
Schmelling. Some friends came up
from Radium to listen with us, but
before they were all properly seated
Max Schmelling knocked out Joe
Louis in the second round. Rather
an anticlimax to the evening! Traffic
passing Kay's Cabin was very light
during the off season, so anyone
who came along was invited to join
us for a meal and socialize a bit.
Winter patrols were conducted on
snowshoes or skis. Nothing startling happened that winter, and as
spring 1938 appeared Len and a
helper were sent to clear trails and
sideroads of windfalls. Early in the
summer a new cabin was built at
Nixon Creek, just off the highway.
This project was supervised by
Oswald Young, warden at Kootenay
Crossing, with Len Cobb and
Stanley Wolfenden assisting him.
The sturdy cabin, built of logs cut in
the area, was much needed to serve
as an overnight stopping place for
winter patrollers. Late in the season Oswald Young unexpectedly left
the Kootenay Crossing Station.
Len and I were instructed to move
to Kootenay Crossing for the winter.
There was to be no replacement at
Kay's Cabin so Len faced patrols
from Vermillion Crossing to the
RC. Historical News Gate, a distance of 38 miles with
Sinclair Summit being a proven obstacle on the roadway.
hen &Jo outside Kootenay Crossing Cabin -
We were installed in the Kootenay
Crossing cabin, with six months supply of groceries, by the end of
October. The cabin was similar to
Kay's Cabin, but without a fireplace.
There was a garage which held a
Chev. truck for the warden's use
(when road conditions permitted.).
There was the telephone , and intermittent radio reception. We had a
Springer spaniel and a cat for company. The nearest, and only neighbours were Charles and Annie Crook
who lived five miles south of
Kootenay Crossing. Their home
was a combination gas station and
dwelling, with a few log cabins built
on the other side of the highway for
renting to summer tourists. This
small business was situated on 160
acres of freehold land that the owner
had homesteaded in 1911.
The Warden at Kootenay Crossing
had to patrol a different area every
day that travel was possible.
Occasionally Crook's son, Ray,
would go out with him, and sometimes I would accompany them.
Every month end he skied or snow-
shoed the 25 miles out to the office
in Radium Hot Springs. His most
hectic assignment came just before
New Year's Day when a big slide
came down near Vermilion Crossing
burying the telephone line and
RC Historical News
cutting off communication to Bert
Rutherford, the warden at Marble
Canyon. Len snowshoed up, reconnected the telephone, and snowshoed home again for New Year's
Eve. Twenty-two miles on heavy
wet snow to help a fellow warden
join the civilized world for a brief telephone chat as 1939 dawned in the
Len Cobb at Wordie Creek cabin ■ 1988 - on
the way to Vermilion Crossing from Kootenay
Crossing. (Note the height of the snow.)
The Crook family were very hospitable to us. Mrs. Crook's baked
brown beans and brown bread tasted
like manna from the gods, especially
to snowshoers who had been out for
hours in the crisp sunshine. Best of
all was the companionship. Charlie
would sing and play the banjo, Len
played the mouth organ, and Dinty,
our dog, put on his show for us.
These neighbours brightened up the
winter for us. Roads became passable on the valley floor but it was not
until the 2nd day of May 1939 that
we travelled in the Chev. truck over
a slushy Sinclair summit to Radium
Hot Springs. It was six months
since I had left there for Kootenay
We returned to Kay's Cabin for the
summer. Len carried out his duties
as warden of the station. In
September he tendered his resignation to Ottawa; it was acknowledged with regret by the
Department of National Parks. We
left Kootenay National Park at the
end of October to undertake new
challenges, but rich in memories and
cautiously optimistic about changing
occupation in a community a few
miles away.
hen Cobb became a miner, first at Bralorne,
then at Kimberley. His doctor advised him to
avoid further underground work for health
reasons. The next ten years saw him working seasonally for the Forest Service out of
Canal Flats, alternately with operating his
trapline near White Swan Lake (26 miles
east of Canal Flats). From 1960 to 1967
their home was at the end of a trail. Then a
road was pushed into that country providing
access to a lot of timber. In 1960 they moved
back to Brisco where they owned a small
acreage, and in 1977 they moved to
The writer further says, "I accompanied
Len wherever we had to go to find work. We
had no chUdren. Len was at home with his
environment, capable and content with his lot
He was a good companion, full of fun. The
life was interesting and challenging. I entertain no regrets."
Josephine Cobb, now a widow, lives in
Invermere where she is a member of the
Windermere District Historical Society.
Canadian Historical Association
Certificates of Merit fw
Regional History
The Regional History Committee of the
Canadian Historical Association invites nominations for its
Two awards are given annually for
each of five Canadian regions, including British Columbia and the Yukon:
(1) an award for publications and videos that make a significant contribution
to regional history and that will serve
as a model for others; and (2) an
award to individuals for work over a
lifetime or to organizations for contributions over an extended period of
Nominations accompanied by as
much supporting documentation as
possible should be sent no later than
30 November 1989 to Robert A.J.
McDonald, Department of History,
University of British Columbia, Memories of Motoring in the 1930's
by Ernest A. Harris
Over the years the motor-car, for
better or worse, has become an integral part of our way of living. For
me the 1930s are recalled by memories of the three automobiles (all of
them used cars) that I owned during
that notorious decade. For a vast
number of people who suffered privation because of mass unemployment
those years were indeed the 'dirty
thirties.' Social assistance was minimal and unemployment insurance
and medicare did not exist.
My family was far from wealthy
but in 1930 I was fortunate to have
a job. In September of that year I
was appointed to the teaching staff
of Mackenzie School in Vancouver at
a salary of $1200 per annum. I was
then 22 years old, and had 3 1/2
years of experience - a year and a
half at Boulder, a tiny Doukhobor
settlement south of Nelson, and two
years (1928-30) at Englewood, a
saw-mill company-town on
Vancouver Island, near Alert Bay.
Both were ungraded one-room
schools. To reach Boulder I went via
the Kettle Valley Railway that tres-
tled and tunnelled its way through
the rugged Coquihalla valley into
the southern interior, and to
Englewood travelled by Union
Steamships whose red-funneled fleet
of steamers served the B.C. coast for
many years before sailing into history. In Vancouver I could live at
home and travel by street-car to and
from work daily - but only by a very
round-about route.
In those days the B.C. Electric
street-car lines radiated from the
down-town area like the spokes of a
wheel - each spoke serving a different suburban community. My home
was in Marpole, served by the bouncy Oak Street tram, and Mackenzie
School, about four miles to the northeast, was close to the Fraser Street
car-line. To get there it was necessary to travel into the city and then
out again with two transfer points -
almost an hour's journey. Obviously
a more direct mode of transportation, other than walking (which I did
occasionally), would be desirable.
A solution came about during the
first week of school when I was introduced to a car salesman who had
just sold a new car to a fellow teacher. He said he had the very thing
for me in the slightly stream-lined
shape (compared to its upright predecessors) of a 1926 Model T Ford -
a touring car with a canvas top,
priced at $145. After a short ride
and kicking the tires a few times, it
seemed to be a good deal but I had
to admit I had never driven a car.
The young salesman said that was
no problem - he would give me a lesson but I would have to get a driver's license, which at that time was
more or less a matter of form. To
the question: "Had I driven an automobile?" I replied, "Not in B.C." ("or
anywhere else" I should have added
but didn't). Nothing more was said
so I paid $1.00 and was given a license to drive.
My salesman instructor drove from
the Motor License Office (then located in the old court house on Georgia
St.) to Stanley park where I took the
wheel and learned the rudiments of
driving a Model-T-much of it done
with one's feet. There were three
pedals at the base of the steering
column - on the left the clutch,
pushed down for low gear, let out for
high, and held mid-way for neutral.
On the right was the brake and between these two pedals was a
smaller one for reverse. Someone
told me in an extreme emergency
one should come down hard on all
three but I don't recall ever having to
do that.
The gas throttle control was a
hand-operated lever just below the
steering wheel (in my Model-T one
couldn't "Step on the gas") and a
similar lever on the opposite side
regulated the spark. The car had a
self-starter but if it failed to work because of a weak battery there was
always the crank handle hanging
out-front and it was used on more
than a few occasions. The dashboard had only two features - a slot
for the key and an ammeter that indicated how the battery was - or
wasn't - re-charging. There was no
speedometer but you could estimate
the speed to some extent by how the
engine chattered and the car rattled.
There was a manually operated
wind-shield wiper and ventilation
was not much restricted by the flapping side-curtains.
I soon established a satisfactory
rapport with my Model-T and travelled by direct route to and from
school without mishap - except for
once going in the ditch along 49th
Avenue one foggy late afternoon. In
September 1930 Mackenzie School,
formerly housed in a frame structure
on Fraser Street, re-assembled in a
brand new building at 39th and
Windsor. This event was apparently considered to be important
enough to have the school officially
opened by the premier of the province, Dr. S.F.Tolmie. The premier
was a large amiable man enticed
from federal politics to lead and
unite a divided provincial
Conservative Party to victory in
1928. This electoral success was severely challenged by the stock-
market crash in 1929 and the uncertainties that followed. Three years
after the school-opening the Tolmie
government, unable to cope with the
harsh problems of the Depression,
was annihilated at the next election.
Mackenzie School had a fine school
spirit with an emphasis on sports
fostered by the principal, Tommy
Woodcock, whose entire teaching career of more than forty years was
spent at this school. I was no sports
RC Historical News expert but became at least a nominal coach. My faithful Model-T
transported a multitude of kids to
inter-school games - an entire junior
soccer or baseball team was often
crammed aboard. If the car sometimes balked at starting there was
always an enthusiastic crew ready
to give it a push. Of course the
Model-T was also used for family
outings and Sunday drives as well
as personal errands. However the
biggest test for the automobile and
for my driving ability came at the
beginning of the summer holidays in
1931 when I decided to drive to
Horsefly in the Cariboo where my
sister, Kay, was also a teacher.
With the completion of the railways the historic Cariboo Road, built
by the Royal Engineers in the
1860s, had fallen into disuse and
become impassable. However by
1926 it had been re-built and declared open for automobile traffic
with a new suspension bridge at
Alexandria in the Fraser canyon
area. Five years later in 1931 it
was still an adventure road, scenic
but winding and unpaved - a narrow
shelf hacked out of the mountain
On July 1, 1931, with a companion named Joe, Model-T and I set
out on our safari. Almost 2 1/2 days
later, after a journey of ups and
downs, ins and outs, and slips and
slides we reached our destination at
Horsefly. In the '30s the Cariboo
was still frontier country with wide-
open spaces, cattle ranches, snake
fences, and log houses. Modern
towns like Cache Creek and 100-
Mile House with their 4-star motels
(an unknown word then) were nothing more than a few log-buildings.
Horsefly too was a log-cabin village -
the City Hotel and the general store
were the only frame buildings. The
school-house was neatly built of
peeled logs and the hospitable
Corner House, where my sister
boarded, consisted of several log
houses that seemed to have come together to form one comunal dwelling. It is regrettable that so many
of these relics of pioneer days have
disappeared due to fires, neglect,
and the passage of time.
The return trip, with sister Kay
aboard, saw us slide down the muddy northern part of the road and rattle along the drier section from
Ashcroft to Lytton. When we
reached the lower Fraser, nearing
journey's end, Model-T was showing
increasing signs of weariness. As
we rattled into New Westminster, at
dusk on the second day, the car
lights refused to go on and, worse
still, the brake-bands had burned
out - fortunately close to a garage.
We returned home on the interurban tram that used to run from
New Westminster to Vancouver via
Marpole. Next day we rescued
Model-T which, mechanically restored and washed clean of Cariboo
mud, was ready to ramble again. I
also drew a cartoon commentary of
our journey which the Vancouver
PROVINCE later published in their
Sunday Magazine section-(Oct. 11,
When school re-opened for the fall
term the Mackenzie staff-member
who had been on leave of absence returned and I was assigned to
Carleton School, where I was to remain for the rest of the decade.
Carleton, located at Kingsway and
Joyce Road in the Collingwood area,
was a couple of miles farther east
than Mackenzie but this made little
difference to my restored Model-T.
This school too had an excellent reputation due in no small part to the
principal, Alex. Martin, who had
been appointed to that position in
1905 and who retired in 1942. Over
the years he had seen a school with
only two classrooms grow to twenty-
four divisions housed in an 8-room
frame structure built in 1908 and a
16-room brick building completed in
1912. The original 2-room school
was retained and used when required. (It is still in use).
My first year at Carleton was an
agreeable one, in spite of the menace
of the depression. The Model-T continued its transportation function
satisfactorily until the end of the
term in June. During the 1932
summer holiday we made another
venture into the interior and this
time it was 'On to Okanagan.'
There I spent several weeks with
old friends, the Fred Day family,
who   lived   on   a   farm   near
Fred Day had a dairy farm and
on his 80 acres grew corn and alfalfa as well as crops of tomatoes,
onions, cabbages - and cucumbers.
Sometimes he would take a day
off and we would go fishing, usually in his rugged old Star car.
However I once did drive my
Model-T to Beaver Lake over a
rough steep so-called road that
challenged its horse-power to the
limit going up and put a strain on
the brakes coming down - with
some Kamloops trout. I learned a
little about farm life by helping
with the haying and one frustrating experience picking cucumbers -
frustrating because the price was
so low they were just dumped.
Fred's dairy assured him of a
monthly pay cheque but many
fruit-growers were cash poor.
Unlike the drought stricken prairie dust-bowl the irrigated
Okanagan valley was productive
but in the '30s transportation and
storage costs eliminated any profits for the fruit-growers, making
them victims of the Depression
too. In protest they threatened to
let the apple crop fall unpicked
with the cry "a cent a pound or on
the ground".
1932 and 1933 were perhaps
the worst years of the Depression.
Cut were the order of the day -
salaries, supplies, services - even
the school telephones were disconnected to save a few dollars.
Collingwood was mainly a working class district and many families were hard hit by the lean
times but they were resilient people and tried to make the best of
things. The Carleton PTA did
useful work in several ways, one
of them being the supplying of
milk to kids in need. The school
nurse did extensive social service
work in the community and some
of the principal's time was taken
up issuing chits for children's shoe
repairs.    Although times were
RC Historical News
14 Mr WtRSnlDVtS&D To   ToW~A
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tough school functioned normally
with many after-school activities for
pupils and teachers.
An extra-mural activity pursued by
many teachers was the attainment
of a BA degree by degrees. This
meant attending lectures at UBC
from 4 to 6 p.m. twice a week during
the regular term, followed by six
weeks at the Summer Session. After
several years one could amass
enough credits to graduate. It was
about twelve miles from Carleton to
UBC and my Model-T usually transported several others beside myself.
Later they became owners of late-
model cars but at that time they
were glad to get a lift in my old tin
Lizzie, which also transported me to
evening classes at the B.C. College
of Arts on Georgia Street. This
school was established by F.H.
Varley and Jock Macdonald in 1933
but their innovative effort succumbed
to the Depression two years later.
Model-T also conveyed me and
friends to Friday night badminton
sessions at various locations in the
city, ranging from school gymnasiums, church halls, and • one season - the chilly vastness of one of the
old Exhibition buildings at Hastings
All this usage was having a wearing-out effect on my aging auto.
The dependable Marpole garage-
man, who liked Model-T's, and had
done his best to keep mine mobile,
indicated that expensive repairs
were needed and I would be well ad-
vised to get another car. He happened to know of one that an old
lady had not even driven on
Sundays but, for several years, had
just kept it in her garage. A good
buy, he said.
A day or so later my garage-man
brought the automobile out for inspection. It proved to be a solidly
built solidly black vehicle that could
have led a parade of antique cars
with dignity. We went for a test run
but even though the car rode well
enough and the motor chugged confidently I had to tell him it wasn't for
Soon after this I selected from a
Georgia Street used-car lot a 1928
Chevrolet coach priced at $250.    I
closed the deal with $25 off for my
RC Historical News faithful but worn-out Model-T. My
garage-man admitted it was a good-
looking car and though he found
nothing mechanically amiss opined
that some defect would soon show
up. This 1928 Chev. was only two
years younger than my 1926 Ford
but it did have important differences
- more horse-power, standard gearshift, a speedometer, an automatic
windshield wiper, and being a closed
car better shelter from wind and
rain. On the left rear mud-guard a
small red triangle indicated the car
had hydraulic brakes. From 1934
until 1938 the '28 Chev. served satisfactorily without too much grief. It
made two summer trips to the
Okanagan and in 1934 did a tour of
Vancouver Island from Victoria to
Menzies Bay - the end of the road
By 1938 I was obliged to dispose
of my Chevrolet because of, not metal fatigue, but wooden fatigue. The
body was built on a wooden frame
which over the years had rotted badly. In spite of attempts at reinforcement it became very difficult
to open and close the two heavy
doors and so it was necessary for me
to acquire my third and last used
car of the decade.
This time I made a big change to a
small car - a 1936 made in England
Morris 8. At $600, it cost almost
twice the other two combined but I
think I liked it because it was different, a bit sporty (mechanically related to the MG), and economical. It
also had a sliding 'sunshine roof.'
The car performed well in city driving but did require more gear shifting. Nevertheless it made it to the
top of Grouse Mountain on the now
abandoned road that zig-zagged to
the original chalet. In the summer
of '38 I again visited my friends in
Kelowna but the Morris 8's longest
journey occurred in 1939 when, with
two companions, I drove to
In 1939, despite economic problems and Nazi/Fascist aggression,
the United States staged two world
Fairs - one in New York and the other in San Francisco. Our objective
was the latter city when we drove
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south in mid-August. Unlike B.C. it
was pavement all the way. When
President Franklin Roosevelt was
first elected in 1932 part of his fight
against the Depression was a massive program of public works. This
was made evident by the many new
bridges we crossed as we travelled
the scenic coastal highway, Route
San Francisco has many points of
interest but in 1939 the Fair was
the chief attraction. It was dominated by a huge goddess figure called
Pacifica - somewhat ironic in a world
on the brink of war. Of course we
visited the B.C. exhibit which featured several large murals painted
by three young Vancouver Art School
graduates - Fisher, Goranson, and
Hughes, who later achieved distinction as War Artists with the
Canadian forces.
After a few days in San Francisco
we drove on to Los Angeles taking
in the well-known tourist attractions
- but not Disneyland, which was still
in the future.   Our Morris 8 was an
object of interest to Californians and
there were usually comments and
questions wherever we stopped.
The return trip was made along inland Route 99 in hot sunshine
through Bakersfield, Fresno, and
Sacramento. In Oregon we visited
Crater Lake and then it was north
to Canada and home again by
August 31. Next day came the news
that Hitler had invaded Poland and
World War II had begun. The final
months of the 1930s marked the
start of another world conflict that
would, during the 1940s, bring more
death and destruction than ever before in human history.
Dividing the stream of history into
10-year sections has no special significance other than recording the sequence of events but some decades
do have more adverse ones than others. The Thirties had a dark side
due to the economic slump and preparations for war but there were
bright spots too - positive efforts to
solve social problems, considerable
intellectual stimulation, as well as,
RC. Historical News
16 in spite of everything, a lot of fun.
Those of us who personally experienced the 1930s can say, with the
Chinese, "we lived in interesting
Ernest Harris is now retired and living in
Vancouver. He has written a book on the history of Port Essington which will be published
early in 1990.
• was published (Oct. 11, 1931) under a
headline:  'Where the Flying Splashes
Panell-   ADVICE: Better than any of
the advice given was the loan by a
thoughtful friend of a set of chains
- without which we would never have
made it along the muddy slippery road
north of Clinton.
Panel 4- Alexandra Suspension
Bridge - $1.00. This toll was collected
just beyond Spuzzum near the bridge approach.
Panel 7 • TeeGee' White Elephant •
the B.C. government was burdened with
the unfinished debt-ridden Pacific Great
Eastern* Railway (now B.C. Rail) which
many people (especially cartoonists) regarded as a white elephant.
'Please Go Easy'   • 'Prince George
Eventually' and others.
Panel 8 - 'Tow a tree" would be a real
drag - but would ease the strain on the
brakes - especially a Model-"Ts
- This was never published although the
editor of Morris Motors Magazine intimated he could have used it if it had not
been for looming war restrictions.
Model T (July 1,1931) on the Fraser Canyon
road somewhere between Boston Bar and
2-3 November 1990
The sixth B.C. Studies Conference will be held at the University of
British Columbia in Vancouver from 2-3 November 1990. Proposals for
conference papers are now invited.
The Studies Conference is interdisciplinary with an historical focus.
The organizers invite proposals for paper that will enhance an understanding of any aspect of British Columbia's past, current and future
Approximately ten sessions will be held at the conference. Most sessions are made up of two papers on a related subject followed by a commentator's critical assessment. A "Victorian dinner" is also planned.
Suggestions for conference papers will be considered as they are received; the deadline for proposal submissions is 15 December 1989.
Enquiries and paper proposals should be directed to Robert A.J.
McDonald, Department of History, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver V6T 1W5; Jean Barman, Department of Social and
Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T
1W5; Peter Baskerville, Department of History, University of Victoria,
Victoria V8W 2Y2; or Robin Fisher, Department of History, Simon
Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6.
The recipe below was from the page of an
early pharmacist's notebook, and is printed courtesy of Jack Scott of Cranbrook.
J. Fred Scott was born in Winnepeg in
1877. He opened his first drugstore in
1902 in Indian Head, Saskatchewan.
This he sold in 1914 and moved to
Victoria. Then from 1917-1920 he
-. worked in Vancouver for the
Cunningham Drugstore organization.
His next move was to Cranbrook, B:C.
where he purchased the Cranbrook Drug
and Book Company from Mr. Atchison.
Fred Scott was twice president of the
Pharmaceutical Association of B.C., and
twice president of the Dominion
Pharmaceutical Association. Son Jack
joined his father in 1950 and took over
the family business in 1965. Scott's store
was absorbed by Shoppers Drug Mart in
1988. Jack treasures his father's notebook and copied the page with the for fumigating a room.
Bedbug Remedy - June 1931
Potassium Iodide mirch U.S.EX., granular
Sulfuric Acid
Grind or crush Potassium Iodide. Put in
granite or chinaware container, and add
acid. Have room sealed as close as possible & leave for 36 or 48 hours.
BOTH ARE POISON, so be careful &
keep away from fumes.
RC. Historical News The Comox Nurses Strike of 1939
by JoAnn Whittaker
On October 31, 1938, the Advisory
Committee on labour conditions in
hospitals completed its report containing recommendations about the
regulations of working conditions for
student and graduate nurses in B.C.
hospitals. These minimum recommendations were based on an on-
site investigation of forty-nine hospitals conducted by the Committee.
The working conditions and salaries
were terrible. It would be expected
that this report should have resulted
in immediate action by the government. Pattullo's Liberal government, elected in 1933, had legislated the 48-hour week in all major
industries and increased the minimum wage.1 The minister responsible for health and welfare was the
Provincial Secretary, Dr. G.M. Weir.
Dr. Weir had, in 1931, written a
sympathetic report on Nursing
Education in Canada. In 1935, he
aided the Registered Nurses
Association of British Columbia
(RNABC) to pass a new "Registered
Nurses Act". The RNABC was the
professional body responsible for licensing graduate nurses. That is, it
set the standards necessary to practice nursing. Registration, however,
was mandatory only in the seven
hospitals with schools of nursing.
To obtain these standards, this organization had been accustomed to
dealing with government politicians
and bureaucrats.2 However, dealing
with these same persons regarding
the matter of working conditions for
nurses in hospitals was a new issue
with which the RNABC had to cope.
Previous contacts had been about
professional standards. This new
issue conflicted with the
Association's perception about the
proper conduct of nurses and their
very real needs for better working
conditions.   This dilemma is best il
lustrated by the RNABC's response
to the Advisory Committee's report
and the Comox nurses "strike".
Graduate nursing evolved from private duty to hospital work in the
1920s and 1930s. Most hospital
nursing was done by student nurses
in training but by 1938, approximately one-half of the registered
nurses in B.C. were employed in
hospitals.3 It was the opposition
Cooperative Commonwealth
Federation (CCF) that raised the issue of nurses' working conditions.
Graduate nurses did not come under
any government regulations legislating their working conditions,
hours of work or wages. In 1935
E.E. Winch (CCF Burnaby) tried to
amend the "Hospital Act" to regulate them. Dr. Weir rejected this
amendment but Winch tried to
amend it again on November 19,
1937. He withdrew the bill after Dr.
Weir explained that the nurses
should be regulated by the Board of
Industrial Relations (BIR), not the
Hospital Act. Weir stated the BIR
had been studying the problem for
two years.4 This was not the case.
In reality, he had only appointed an
advisory committee on labour conditions in hospitals in October 1937.
Weir acted in conjunction with the
Minister of Labour, George Pearson.
They set up a committee consisting
of Miss M.H. Walters,
Superintendent of Nurses at
Essondale, Percy Ward, inspector of
hospitals, and Fraudena Eaton,
(better known as Mrs. Rex Eaton) of
the BIR. Their terms of reference included investigating and reporting
upon wages, hours of work, conditions of work, and other labour conditions prevailing in hospitals; recommending reasonable minimum
standards of wages, hours of work
and working conditions for the differ
ent classes of hospital employees
which might be set by Order of the
government; and enquiring into the
extent to which the recommendations of the Committee, if implemented, would increase the operating costs of the hospital. It was
important that hospitals not be burdened financially by the imposition
of labour regulations. Weir instructed the committee to conduct its investigations without publicity and to
report without publicity to both
Pearson and himself by January 1,
The completed report was delivered to them on November 2, 1938.
It was not made public nor did the
nurses of B.C. see its contents. The
committee's findings corroborated
Winch's fears. The nurses hours of
work varied from 86 to 130 hours in
two weeks of day shift with the majority of hospitals surveyed in excess
of 100 hours. Many institutions
claimed that their nurses worked an
eight-hour day. This was a split
shift and was only accomplished if
the ward was not too busy. Time off
varied.from no time off duty to one
day per week. One hospital allowed
two one-half days per week. Night
duty usually lasted four to five
weeks, occurring every three to four
months and consisting of 96 to 168
hours worked in a two week period.
In the majority of hospitals this was
in excess of 133 hours. Most hospitals did not allow time off during a
tour of night duty. Some allowed
one-half night per week. In order to
have this, the day nurse stayed on
duly until the night nurse came on
at 11:00 pm or 12:00 am to relieve
her. She, in turn, was expected to
return to work the next day at her
regular time of 7:00 am. Salaries
ranged from $30.00 to $60.00 per
month and maintenance (room,
RC Historical News
18 board and laundry) in the majority
of hospitals. The majority also
granted vacations of three to four
weeks per annum. Nine hospitals
allowed no vacations at all.6
Weir and Pearson did not reveal
these findings nor did they divulge
the committee's recommendations.
Hospitals would expect provincial
government financial assistance if
indeed it legislated working conditions that increased their costs. The
report recommended improved working conditions for graduate nurses.
The report recommended an eight-
hour day, six day week or ninety-six
hours over two weeks; one day off
every week or two days off in a two
week period; split shift to not extend
beyond a twelve hour period; and
salaries to be a minimum of $40.00
every consecutive two week period of
full time work (i.e. 80 hours or more
every two weeks) and laundry of
uniforms should be provided.7
Canadian nursing leaders advocated
an eight-hour day for nurses but
wished to enact regulations through
"professional channels". In B.C.,
the RNABC favoured "moral sua-
sion."* This attitude was hardly
conducive to the improvement of the
working graduate nurses' lot and
upset Eaton.
A frustrated Fraudena Eaton reported that she saw no evidence of
aggressive agitation for reform.
"Training, temperament and circumstances of her work make the general duty nurse a poor advocate for her
interests." The needs of the nurses
and the additional expense of the
eight-hour day conflicted with the
needs of the hospitals for equipment, supplies and buildings. The
nurses were aware of this but
seemed unaware that their sacrifice
was not being repeated by other hospital employees who enjoyed much
better working conditions.9
The BIR issued Order 52, the
"Female Minimum Wage Act," on
February 14, 1938 regulating the
working conditions of other female
hospital workers and excluding
graduate nurses. These regulations
enforced an eight-hour day and a
forty-eight hour week.    The split
shift was to be confined to twelve
hours from the start of the shift and
one full day, twenty-four hours, off
per week was to be granted.
Laundry of uniforms was to be provided. It was the responsibility of
the Council of the RNABC, with the
assistance of hospital inspector
Ward, to "encourage" better hours of
work in B.C. hospitals for nurses.10
This approach was unsuccessful as
was evidenced by the Comox nurses
Obviously, trouble had been brewing in Comox. In December 1937,
after the withdrawal of Winch's bill,
a nurse from Comox wrote a letter to
the editor of the Vancouver Dairy
Province. In it, the author stated
that nurses were still overworked.
Further, she questioned the role of
the Advisory Committee and its activities over the past two years." It
is evident that Weir's secrecy was
misleading nurses. The Committee
had been at work for only two
months at the appearance of this
letter. In April 1939, matters erupted at Comox.
On April 12, 1939, the entire nursing staff at the St. Joseph's
Hospital, Comox, walked off the job.
The public perceived that the nurses
were on strike.12 The reality was a
breakdown in relations between the
nursing staff and the hospital management over the issue of working
The working conditions at the hospital were terrible. Nurses were required to "live in". Their day shift
hours were from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00
p.m. with a two hour break, at the
discretion of the management and if
there was time, in mid-afternoon.
They had one half day off per week
and one full day off each month.
Night shift was one full month with
no time off. Then, at the end of their
night duty, they had one sleeping
day off plus their monthly one day
off. Wages were $90.00 per month
minus $30.00 for room and board
and $0.90 for provincial income tax.
There was no overtime pay, holiday
pay or sick pay. The nurses paid
their own laundry costs. The food
was terrible, and in fact, probably
triggered the job action. The nurse
that this author interviewed stated
that perhaps the other conditions
could have been more tolerable but
for the food.
The nurses, graduates and undergraduates, decided to improve their
lot or resign. They consulted with
the Chief of Staff, Dr. Straith, who
encouraged them, and with a lawyer. Subsequently, they drafted a
letter to the Sister Superior demanding an eight-hour day, one whole
day off per week, laundry to be paid
by the hospital and sick and holiday
pay. They concluded the letter with
an ultimatum. If the hospital management was unable to comply the
Sister Superior could consider the
letter as thirty days notice of resignation. Silence ensued. Finally, on
the thirtieth day, the Sister approached the nurses as they sat in
the dining room. She had tears in
her eyes. The hospital was unable
to meet their demands as they needed the money to pay for the new
wing. She requested that they resubmit their resignations dated as
of that day so that she could find a
new staff to replace them. The nurses refused. They were ordered to
take their belongings and leave.
They all found accommodation in
the homes of local residents and settled down to wait. Colin Cameron,
CCF Member of Parliament for
Comox, interested himself in their
case. He attempted to meet with
the hospital board to no avail. He
called a public meeting that was attended by a "good sized" crowd. At
first, the Mayor and aldermen were
very hostile but after they heard the
details of the nurses' working conditions, they agreed that changes had
to be made.13 Colin Cameron attempted to also present the nurses'
case to the annual convention of the
RNABC then in session in
Vancouver. He was refused permission and only met with the
Association president and the
Registrar, Helen Randal.14
The irony of this situation is the
address of the President of the
RNABC at that opening session.
Miss Duffield urged her members to
RC. Historical News seek better working conditions. At
the same time, Helen Randal hinted
that the actions of the nurses at
Comox jeopardized their registration. She opined that the nine women should have contacted the authorities. The question here is what
authorities? They had contacted the
hospital management. The RNABC
had no jurisdiction over the conditions of work of the graduate nurses.
Yet, Randal was prepared to remove their registration certificates."
She made no contact with the
nurses involved. The Association
Council indeed had the power to suspend a member, in an unanimous
vote, "pr dishonesty, gross incompetency, a habit rendering a nurse unsafe to be entrusted with or unfit for
care of the sick, conduct derogatory
to the morals or standing of the profession of nursing, or any willful
fraud or misrepresentation practiced
in procuring such certificate."™
There really were no grounds for
their dismissal. The nurses in
Comox had contacted a lawyer, obtained legal advice and followed it.
They had given due notice of resignation. They returned to work on
April 18, 1939 with the promise of
improved working conditions. They
wrote a letter to the RNABC outlining their case but received no reply.
In May 1939, the Council sent a letter, drafted by their lawyer, to the
nurses involved expressing disapproval of their actions and forwarded
a copy to the Sister Superior at
Comox." Nevertheless, the Council
did not suspend their registration.18
These nurses were frustrated and
angry. Their demands for better
working conditions were identical to
those proposed by the Advisory
Committee and to those advocated
by the RNABC. However, the
Association disapproved of job action. It was more important, in
1939, to maintain the professional
image than to agitate for improved
working conditions. Nurses did not
become involved in controversial issues.19 In fairness, the RNABC was
hampered by a lack of knowledge.
It had never seen the report of the
Advisory Committee.
RC Historical News
Randal and the RNABC did not
see it until after it was publicly tabled in the provincial legislature in
November 1939. The professional
ideology of the RNABC conflicted
with the very real needs of the working graduate nurses for better conditions. Their needs also conflicted
with the hospitals' finances, the responsibility of the government politicians and bureaucrats. In the end,
the reactivated committee worked to
improve nurses' conditions. The
RNABC did not become the collective
bargaining agent for its members
until 1946.
Mrs. Whittaker lives in Cobble HUl on
Vancouver Island. This article is part of the
research she has done to earn her master's
degree in history at the Vniversity of Victoria.
I.    Margaret Ormsby, BrinshCnlimiMai A Mahay,
(Macmillan of Canada, 1958; reprinted [with corrections] \fencouven Evergreen Press, 1671), p. 489
8.    Jo Ann Whittaker, The Search for Legitimacy: Nurses'
Registration in British Columbia, 1913-1938," in Not
AotPtaMonegn SeteetedEsraysantheHfctoiyof
Wnrai's Work In British Columbia. Edited by Barbara
Latham and Roberta Pazdro. (Victoria: Camosun
College Press, 1984), p. 321
3. Provincial Archives of British Columbia (hereafter
PABC), GR 680 "Report on Working Conditions in B.C.
Hospitals," p. 17
4. \kneouver Dotty Province (VDP), December 4,1937, p.3;
Victoria DairyTlmes (VDT), December 4,1937, p. 17
5. PABC GR496 Box 43 File 17 (GR496743/17)
6. PABC GR 680
7. Hd
8. Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia
(hereafter RNABC) Minutes January 28,1942, January
9. Mrs. Rex Eaton, "A Lay Person Looks in," Canadian
None 38 (September 1940): 868
10. PABC GR650
11. VDP December 14,1937, p.4
12. VDT April 18,1939, p.2. The story heading was "Comox
nurses strike settled."
IS.    Interview with Jean Guthrie, April 18,1985, Comox B.C.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Guthrie had recently destroyed all
her letters and newspaper clippings related to this incident. Therefore, the incident recounted relies upon her
memory and newspaper articles.
14. RNABC Minutes April IS, 1939. Jean Guthrie does not
remember this.
15. Vancouver News-Herald April 17,1939, p.2
IS.    RC Statutes 1935
17. RNABC Minutes May 19,1939
18. Interview, Jean Guthrie
19. HI, March 24,1939
Aldyen Irene Hendry Hamber
Aldyen Hamber's life spanned the
history of Vancouver. Born in New
Westminster, daughter and only child
of John and Adeline Hendry, the family moved to Vancouver in 1903. John
Hendry was in the lumber manufacturing business and was president of
many of their trade organizations.
After Aldyen's basic education in
Vancouver and Tacoma she studied art
and languages in Germany. While in
Europe she was presented at Court.
Her husband-to-be, Eric Hamber,
was born in Canada and had a career
in banking. While posted to
Vancouver he took part in many of the
social and sporting events and here he
met Aldyen. It was not until Eric
Hamber was transferred to London
and the Hendrys were on one of their
periodic visits to Europe in 1912, that
the young couple decided to marry.
Over the family's protests the couple
decided to marry in London rather
than wait until their return to
John Hendry, by this time 69 years
of age, decided his new son-in-law
should join him in business.
Aldyen and Eric Hamber's life, apart
from business, were filled with events
of philanthropic, sporting and social
nature. This culminated in Eric
Hamber being appointed Lieutenant
Governor in 1936. During their term
of office they entertained a wide range
of people and their inaugural
Christmas party for children became
an annual event. Eric Hamber died in
I960, then Aldyen set up the Hamber
Foundation and endowed an Eric
Hamber Chair of Medicine at the
University of British Columbia. The
Hamber name also lives on with the
Eric Hamber Senior Secondary School
in Vancouver, Hamber Island in
Indian Arm and Hamber Provincial
Park near Golden. The Hendry name
is remembered with the John Hendry
Park in Vancouver.
Peggy Imredy
20 Enterprise in the 1930's
After reading Don Sale's article
about "The Old Cariboo Wagon
Road" in the Historical News,
Volume 10, 1984, I decided to write
down some of my memories. I was
one of the young teachers of the '30's
that Don referred to in his article, for
I travelled the Cariboo Highway on
occasion in Clarence Stevenson's
Stage, during the year I taught at
Enterprise School.
Enterprise is in the rolling cattle
country of the Cariboo, some 20
miles south of Williams Lake. I arrived there via the P.G.E. on the
morning of Saturday, September 3,
1932, having left Vancouver on
Friday morning via the Union
Steamships to Squamish, to begin
my second year of teaching in the
Cariboo. In the 1930's the PG.E.,
which we affectionately called
"Please Go Easy", or sometimes in
disgust "Past God's Endurance",
ran only between Squamish and
I was met by Clem Wright, the
Secretary of the School Board, at
whose home I was to stay. It was a
beautiful, cold, sunny morning, invigorating as only Cariboo Fall days
can be, and I remember Clem telling
me how unhappy his sister was because the first heavy frost had blackened her beautiful dahlias. Clem
had recently lost his wife, and his
sister and mother from Vancouver
had come to look after his home and
his three children. His home was
the '37 Mile Stopping Place on the
old Cariboo Highway, and it still
stands solidly there today, a large
two storey log house. Clem had
driven the horse drawn Stages in his
youth, and his mother had come to
the Cariboo as a bride before the
turn of the century. They had many
stories to tell about the gold rush
days and the early settlers, like the
one of how her piano had been
brought by stage over the rough
by lima Dunn
wagon road, and it arrived safely
too. It was not long before I learned
why the Cariboo Highway was
termed "All Right", for Granny
Wright and her four sons at that
time owned nearly all the ranches
between Lac la Hache and the '37
I had my first glimpse of
Enterprise School that afternoon,
walking the nearly 2 1/2 miles
along the Highway to it. My heart
sank when I saw its condition, for
the door was ajar and little marmots
had made it their home over the
summer. Piles of their droppings
were in the corners, and the place
had a terrible smell. I sat down at
the low table which passed for the
teacher's desk, and cried, for I had
left such a nice clean school in the
Ten Mile Valley in June. How I
wished the Dept. of Education had
not closed Ten Mile, but with the
graduation of the three Grade 8 pupils, who were not returning to
school, the enrollment fell below the
required 8, so there was no other alternative for me but to apply for a
new school. How thankful I was
when I received the appointment to
Enterprise. I felt that my prayers
had been answered, since, to obtain
a Permanent Teaching Certificate, it
was required to have two years experience and two good Inspector's
Reports, and that was my goal.
Schools were hard to come by in the
'30s. There were dozens of applications for every vacancy, and I was
one of the lucky ones.
No schools in the '30s were the
well equipped places of learning
that they are today, and Enterprise
was one of the poorest. Not only
had the marmots made it their
home, it was dark and in need of a
good cleaning. There was no teacher's desk, no flag pole, and the only
bell was a piece of railroad track
hanging outside the door, with a
metal striker by its side. The interior had at one time been painted
white, but the only windows were
four on the East side, so the lighting
was poor. It was indeed a sad looking little school, that had been neglected, but now it was my job and I
would do my best. Clem was very
cooperative and it wasn't long before
he and his hired help cleaned and
repaired the School and raised a flag
pole. School Law required that the
Union Jack be raised and lowered
each school day in the '30s, and
School Law must be obeyed. I did
not question why there had not been
a flag pole before or why the School
was allowed to get in such a poor
condition, but there was often rancour in School Districts in the '30s.
The children were proud of having
the pole and happy to have their
first picture taken beside it. Then
they vied with each other who would
help raise the flag each day. Clem
also donated a sheep for me to raffle, the proceeds to be used to purchase a proper teacher's desk, a bell,
and other requirements.
That Fall a party of hunters from
Vancouver made the '37 their headquarters, and they certainly contributed to the cause of the desk. I remember the joking about the poor
young teacher who had nothing but
a gambling table for her desk, for
that is what the low table had been,
complete with a top of green felt. It
wasn't long before we had enough
money raised and the sheep was
won by one of the visitors, which
was cause for more joking. For
$50.00 I had a cabinet maker near
Ten Mile School make the desk, and
it was delivered on the top of the car
of the young man who later became
my husband. By the time the
Inspector made his first visit that
Fall, things in the school were well
in order, and the comment on his report made me feel the work had all
B.C. Historical News been worthwhile. It was - "Miss
Beamish has taken hold of this
School in a pleasing way and should
succeed in materially raising its
standard." The comment and the
report he gave, made me feel exceptionally good for I had greeted him
in a very unceremonious manner.
Being right on the Highway,
Enterprise School was the target of
various salespeople passing on their
way to Williams Lake and points
north. To get rid of one such salesman that called at the school I took
an unwanted subscription to a magazine, and I foolishly gave him a
postdated cheque. That caused a
furor with my father, since the Royal
Bank in New Westminster deducted
the amount from his account as
mine had insufficient funds. So I
was determined not to let the next
salesman into the school. The next
came, and I held the door closed, until he said, "7 am AR. Lord from the
Dept. of Education." How ashamed
I was, and so I really appreciated
the comment and the report he gave.
I know he enjoyed the incident too,
for he told it to a Normal School
Class attended by one of my friends,
when he was lecturing about the
trials of young teachers in Country
There were just two surnames on
the Register that year, four La
Bounty Children and four Wright
children. Phyllis Wright, whose
home was at the 108 mile, came to
stay at the '37 to keep the enrollment up to the required number of 8.
So I taught Grades 1, 3, 5, and 7,
with Jack Wright being the biggest,
and the best helper. He looked after
his brother, Doug, and sister
Kathleen, and Lila La Bounty, in
Grade three, ever the little mother,
made sure to take good care of her
little brother, Raymond, in grade 1,
and we had a happy school with lots
of singing and stories. Jack and
Doug Wright looked after bringing
water each morning from the well,
and kept the woodbox full for the upright stove we had in the middle of
the school, I looked after making the
fire each morning and heated water
on the top of the stove in the winter
RC Historical News
for lunch time cocoa, with lots of
fresh cream from the '37 to go with
it. Irwin and Herbie La Bounty
drove a little two wheeled cart for
their family's transportation of three
miles, and in the winter it was
equipped with runners for the snow.
Jack and Doug Wright rode horseback with Kathleen and Phyllis riding behind. I walked along the
highway except when the occasional
car came along. That is how I met
Clarence Stevenson. I don't remember how frequently he made the trip
(All eight) Enterprise School children in the
winter of 32- '33.
between Ashcroft and Quesnel, but if
there was room I was always offered
a ride. I was a little reluctant about
taking the first ride, but everyone in
the Cariboo knew Clarence and his
friendly ways. He had many stories
to tell his passengers about his early days driving the horse drawn
stages to the gold fields. Then
when I went to New Westminster for
Easter I was a paying passenger
from the '37 to Ashcroft, and was
met there again on my way back to
the Cariboo.
I really enjoyed walking the 2 1/2
miles along the highway, for there
was plenty of wildlife always to be
seen. The little marmots popping in
and out of their holes were most interesting, and I loved to listen to
them whistle to their mates telling
that an intruder was around. In the
Spring I remember how the saucy
little northern bluebirds would hop
from post to post of the rail fences
that lined the highway, and sing
their merry song and often a mea-
dowlark would join the melody.
Then in the winter the deer and
moose would join with the cattle at
their feeding station in the fields
and coyotes could be seen slinking
I continued to use the iron rail and
the striker for a bell especially in the
winter time. St. Joseph's Creek ran
along the valley not far from the
school and it was a wonderful place
for the children to skate. That bell
could be heard even there above the
sound of the screams of their laughter. After all it was a gong, and
most unique.
Early in the Fall, Gertrude, Clem's
sister, and I became very good
friends and I was always treated as
one of the family. There was lots of
company at the '37 since the Wright
family was a large one and those
living at a distance were frequent
visitors. There was always something interesting going on, and the
year I spent at the '37 mile was one
of the happiest of my life. It was at
Enterprise I learned to play Bridge
and 500, though I have never been
good at either, and along with the
others I went out cross country skiing, but managed to spend a good
deal of my time falling down.
One winter outing I had was on a
cold Saturday in January. The
hired man, Bill Dingwall, was taking the children with a load of feed
for the range cattle and asked if I'd
like to come along. It was fun, and I
joined in their gaiety of a winter
hayride, but I wasn't dressed for the
return ride when the hay and feed
had all gone from the sleigh. The
result was that I had frost bitten
legs. Granny Wright, ever watchful
over us all, prescribed a hot drink
with gin for me, after rubbing the affected parts with snow. I had never
tasted gin before and it really made
me giddy, instead of sleepy as she
thought. We laughed a lot about
my giddiness, but I recovered well
from it, and I've never liked the
taste of gin since.
One of the Wright daughters, Alice, Mrs. Bain, belonged to the
IODE, and through her, a Vancouver
Group of Junior IODE Girls, under
the leadership of Mrs. Bishop,
adopted Enterprise School.
Throughout the year they sent
Library Books and on Special
Occasions, as Halloween,
Thanksgiving, Valentine day, etc.,
they sent something for each pupil,
with exchange of pictures and letters. They were a wonderful help to
Enterprise School, and it certainly
was an education for the IODE girls
in Vancouver. One Saturday evening in 1934 or 35 I opened the
Magazine Section of the Vancouver
Sun to see an article about the good
work of the IODE, and there was a
picture of me on horseback in the
Cariboo, with the caption telling of
how the IODE helped Country
Schools. I have the article and the
picture with its caption still today in
my Scrap Book.
People in the early days have always been known as being very
friendly, and those at Enterprise
were no exception. I was welcome in
all their homes. I remember starting off one Saturday morning in
April for the five mile walk to visit
Enid and Fred Wright at the '32
mile ranch. They had a lovely log
home and a wee daughter who was
a great attraction to me, for I've always loved children. I had a nice
day's visit with them and a ride
home in the evening so Fred could
say hello to his mother at the '37.
There was Chris and Harry at the
'27 mile. Chris had been a young
teacher who had come to the
Cariboo, and not only fallen in love
with the country, but with one of the
Wright brothers. She and I had
many things in common, so we had
some good visits. Then there was
the weekend I went home with the
La Bounty children in their little
sleigh. It was early in March and
they had some new baby lambs that
Lila wanted to show to me. They
had a wee baby girl too, Gladys,
and she was a bundle of joy. Later
in the Spring I spent another weekend there, so Mr. and Mrs. La
Bounty could get away together.
That weekend rather cured me of
ever wanting a large family to look
after, for they had six, with Irwin at
12, being the oldest, and there was
a hired man too. I also had a
chance to visit with Maggie
Hamilton at the 100 mile. Her
friend, Jack Foster, was the
Telegrapher there, and Lord Cecil
had just built his first famous
Stopping Place there that year.
There was a dance that weekend,
and the country dances with their
squares, two-steps, and polkas,
were always a lot of fun. On the
Sunday, Maggie's brother drove me
back to the '37 with a group of
friends going on to Williams Lake.
They sang the whole way. I remember one line that seemed to be repeated over and over, "and the pig
got up and slowly walked away,"
but what the rest of the song was,
I've completely forgotten.
Maggie's brother was one of the
members of the "Lac la Hache All
Stars" Hockey Team in the '30's,
and another winter outing I well remember was going to Williams Lake
with Maggie and Foster to cheer
them in a game. The Skating Rink
at Williams Lake in the '30's was
not the indoor fancy one it is today,
but rather an outdoor one, and to
watch and cheer for your favourite
team then, was almost a hardship.
I don't remember which team won,
but the memory of the outing is still
a happy one that I cherish.
The Country Schools in the Cariboo
were not too many miles apart, so
quite often I was able to get together with other teachers. The nearest
school to the south was Lac la
Hache, at the '22 mile, and the nearest to the north was the '50 mile.
There was a young Mill Owner at
Williams Lake, by the name of
Clarence Anderson, who was a
friend of all us young teachers. Over
the Christmas Holidays he won a
turkey, and he planned a way of entertaining all his friends. So on a
really cold weekend in January we
had a wonderful time at the home of
the Crosina's. They were another
very well known family of the early
days who had established at the '53
mile. Their daughter Lillian ran the
store that was known to all up and
down the highway, and even today
it is a Heritage Stopping Place.
Clarence came down to the '37 to get
Gertrude and myself, then on to the
'50 to pick up Mary Beran, the
teacher there, and Ina, whose last
name escapes me, the teacher from
Rose Lake. The turkey dinner,
cooked by Mrs. Crosina, was a fabulous one, with large group of us
around the great big table, and the
frivolity after it went on to the wee
small hours. Ina and I were to
share a room over night, and I well
remember what a hard time we had
getting warm. The living rooms of
those old log homes were generally
heated by large fire places, and the
one at Crosina's home was the largest I'd ever seen, but very little heat
Lac la Hache All Stars in the 30's. Back row at right Maggie Hamilton's
brother & next to him Peter Ogden.
RC Historical News got up the stairs to the sleeping
area. At the '37 there was a large
heater in the living room, the chimney from which ran between my bedroom and the one next to mine, so I
was nice and warm. But that night
at Crosina's still stays in my memory as the coldest one I've ever spent.
Ina and I surely were glad when the
morning came, and we could hurry
down to the fireplace.
Lac la Hache School and
Enterprise joined together for a
Picnic and day of fun at the
Enterprise School Ground for the
May 24th celebrations. It was a
huge success and of course attended
by the pupils, their parents, and
their friends. One race I remember
was a Cracker Race, trying to whistle the first line of "God Save the
King" after eating two soda crackers, an almost impossible feat to accomplish, but one creating lots of
laughter. We ended the day with a
Baseball Game between the two
Schools, but although I remember it
was lots of fun, I don't remember
which School won.
At the end of June I was asked to
supervise the Grade 8 Exams for the
district, since I did not have any pupils who were writing them. They
were held in Lac la Hache School,
and I stayed with the Ogden
Family while I did this. Mrs. Ogden
was a dear English lady who had
married her husband, Peter, while
he was overseas in the first World
War. She had no knowledge of what
she was coming to in the Cariboo,
but she was a gracious host, and
they had a beautiful home. I really
enjoyed the few days I spent with
them, and little three year old Peter
was a darling, asking me every
morning "how many more sleeps are
you going to stay?'
I was so pleased to see in 1985
when driving over the Highway,
that the Lac la Hache School is now
a Heritage Building. I sat down in
one of the desks and reminisced
about the days in 1932-33.
Enterprise School has long since
gone and now the new highway
doesn't even go anywhere near
where it was. In 1951 we stopped
by all that was left of it, a pile of
logs with only a semblance of a
building in them. I am happy too,
that the '50 mile School is also a
Heritage Building.
I don't remember the dates of the
Williams Lake Stampede that year,
but they were sometime in June,
and even then the greatest attraction for all the cowboys in the district. Gertrude and I each ordered a
new dress from the Hudson Bay in
Vancouver. We were sent three from
which to chose the one we liked best.
Mae Wright's husband, Tommy
Downey, was the Credit Manager
there and so we had special privileges. I chose a long black satin one for
the dances I hoped to have with my
special boy friend from the Wingdam
Mine, who was coming for the
Stampede. The activities of the
days, with the cattle roping, branding, and cow punching, are long
since forgotten, but the dances in the
evenings are still clear in my memo
Near the end of June I received my
second Inspector's Report. It was
again a good one, and along with it
came my Permanent Certificate, so I
had reached my goal. It had been a
good year, and one I'll never forget.
No story about Enterprise is complete without telling about the
Felker Ghost. Everyone knew about
the ghost at the '41 mile. I never
saw it, but I certainly saw, many
times, the rocking chair that rocked
all by itself. The ghost was that of
old Mr. Borden Felker, who in life,
had claimed he would come back,
and every morning he did, lighting
the fire in the kitchen stove then sitting down in the rocking chair beside
it. Bill Dingwall, our hired man,
told us he had seen the ghost when
working at the 41, and so we had to
believe. How could we not believe
when, not only Bill, but many others, had seen the mysterious rocking
of the chair, and heard the crackling
of the morning fire, and felt the
ghostly presence?
These memories have made almost too long a story, but for me, remembering and looking at the old
pictures, has been reliving the year
at Enterprise and all its happy
times. The last time I stopped to
see Gertrude she and Bill Dingwall,
now her husband, were still living in
the original Wright home at the 27
mile, near the Wright Station on the
P.G.E. They were spending the
winters in Arizona, but the Summers
in our beloved Cariboo.
Burnaby Historical Society and the B.C.
Historical Federation. She makes her home
in White Rock.
Old School Building at Lac la Hache. This is where I supervised the Grade 8
Exams fbr the district in June 1933. (Painted section added Aug. 2186).
Watch for Christmas
programs at local
Heritage Sites -
Irving House,
FOrt Steele and
elsewhere have
special events
in season.
RC Historical News
24 A White Collar in the Thirties
by J. A» Green
Articles on the "Hungry Thirties"
tell of mortgage foreclosures, soup
kitchens, hunger marches, relief
camps and Bennett buggies.
Seldom is anything said of how the
ordinary Canadian coped with minimal wages and no apparent hope of
To-day, the younger generation,
knowing only current conditions, just
can't comprehend the working conditions that were normal when we
seniors were young. At that time
the employer was boss - you did as
you were told and worked hard. If
not you received a slip in your pay
packet stating 'Your services are no
longer required" and that was it.
There was no notice, no explanation
and no recourse, and no frills like
unemployment insurance. This is
the story of one Canadian's start in
the business world.
In 1937 I had graduated from
Victoria High School and completed
the two years of study then available at Victoria College
(Craigdarroch). After making various applications I was "accepted"
for work at the Royal Bank of
Canada, Courtenay, B.C.
On arrival in Courtenay the bank
manager handed me a book of rules
and explained the facts of life to me.
I was to dress neatly and wear a
jacket and tie at all times when the
branch was open for business. The
affairs of the bank and its customers
were to be held in the strictest confidence. I must enhance the reputation of the bank by good behavior
and taking an active part in local organizations. Until certain salary
levels were attained car ownership
and marriage were strictly forbidden. Studying a correspondence
course was compulsory and continuing employment was dependent on
satisfactory performance.
Though the usual starting salary
was $400 per year I was paid $100
more than that because I was away
from home and having to pay for
room and board. A salary of $500
per year works out to $41.66 per
month, and as I was paying $37.50
per month for room and board, and
$5.00 for the correspondence course,
my cash position was a bit negative.
Another of the bank's rules was
that no employee should take a second job. After all, it might appear
that the bank was underpaying its
Usually we worked from 8:30 to
4:30 on week-days, and 8:30 to 1:00
on Saturdays. It was while I was in
Courtenay that the banks started
closing on Saturday mornings.
There were dire predictions that
stores would be robbed of cash held
over on week-ends but these did not
prove true.
The only technical equipment that
the bank provided was, for a staff of
five, one typewriter, one ancient
Burroughs adding machine which
did not subtract, a book of interest
tables and a couple of elderly revolvers. The bank did not trust machine records, and at interest dates
the long lists of amounts credited as
interest had to be added "in the
head" and signed that the totals
had been checked and found correct.
Savings interest was 1 1/2 per cent
per year on the minimum quarterly
balances, if my memory serves me
right, but we on staff were privileged
to receive 3 per cent. Of course, as
we were all broke, that was purely a
psychological_benefit. The two interest calculation dates each year were
among the times that we worked far
in to the evenings.
Vacation allowance was two weeks
each year, in the first few years, but
if one took vacation in the winter an
extra week was allowed. Medical
and dental plans were unknown.
The junior clerk was general dogsbody for the bank.   He washed and
filled inkwells, and changed pen
nibs and blotters. He saw that the
counter was properly stocked with
stationery and he washed and polished the manager's car. He learnt
to post and balance savings ledgers,
and walked around town delivering
and collecting drafts. These had
been forwarded by other banks and
were like promissory notes for merchants to pay on time for goods received. At that time a small store
might pay $5.00 on a $200.00 account to stall it off for another
month. At the sub-branch which
was opened at Union Bay one or two
days each week the junior would get
experience as a teller.
The teller was kept in a cage.
This not only had steel mesh on all
four sides but over the top as well,
and a door that automatically
locked whenever it was closed. In a
one-teller office the teller got no
lunch break, he tried to eat his sandwiches in between customers. On a
busy day he might have no chance
to eat until 3:00 by which time he
would probably have lost his appetite. Giving good service to customers was paramount - staff convenience was not important.
If the teller's cash was short at the
end of a day the shortage was deducted from his pay, but overages
went to the bank. If the ledgers did
not balance, or necessary work not
completed, the staff worked at night
or on week-ends to clear it up.
There was no overtime pay or compensating time off.
At the end of the year our annual
raises came through. Most of us got
$100.00 or $8.33 per month. Small
as it was it really helped one's financial position.
Despite the lack of money the staff
enjoyed life. The teller had a car
and we hiked on the Forbidden
Plateau and went swimming at
Comox Spit.   We fished in the river,
RC Historical News played tennis on the municipal
courts and bowled on the bowling
green adjacent to the courts. Long
games of poker were held in the
staff quarters over the Canadian
Bank of Commerce with lg raises
and a 25g loss limit after which the
loser could play free to try and win
back a stake. On Saturday nights
we listened to Hockey Night in
Canada on the radio, sponsored by
the Imperial Oil with commentary
by Foster Hewett.
Any girl that had the use of her father's car was worth her weight in
gold. I was fortunate to meet an attractive newspaper reporter who got
in to shows and dances free. That
really helped the budget.
None of us drank much though
getting alcohol was no problem. The
B.C. Provincial Police constable who
boarded with us used to confiscate a
lot of liquor when breaking up loggers' parties that got noisy. He had
to turn in the unopened bottles but
brought the rest home. The trouble
was that to carry it easily he would
pour it all in together to make full
bottles, and we ended up with interesting mixtures of gin, rum, rye or
anything else that happened to be
Of course I did my own washing,
ironing and mending. There were
no drip-dry shirts then, the shirts
were of cotton and looked scruffy unless ironed after each wash. When a
collar got frayed it could be turned
good side out to extend the life of the
shirt. Irons had no heat controls or
steam capability so damp cloths
were used for pressing.
In Victoria I had been in the 5th
B.C. Coast Brigade Artillery Militia
so in Courtenay I transferred to the
2nd Battalion (Machine Gun)
Canadian Scottish Regiment. We
wore old uniforms from the 1914-
1918 War and our arms and equipment were from that era too. A private was paid 200 for each evening
parade attended, but had to assign
that back to the unit to keep it solvent. Even so many of us were
keen, attended regularly and studied specialties. Such was Canada's
preparation for the World War that
broke out the following year.
Later I was transferred to a
branch in Victoria. This branch did
not have a stenographer so, as jun
ior man, I was told to type the
monthly reports and be sure that
they got on the ship to Vancouver
that left at midnight. I'd never used
a typewriter before so it was "hunt
and peck", with the former "typist"
most pleased to have fobbed the job
off on to me. We sometimes carried
large sums of money to and from the
main branch. We'd wrap it in old
newspapers and pocketing our revolvers board the street car, the bank
reimbursing us for the six cent fares.
In the bank I learned accuracy, patience and perseverance which
served me well in later years when I
took a five year course of study for
my chartered accountant diploma,
and later still two years for a diploma in hospital management.
All this sounds like a tale of woe
but no-one had told us about being
below the poverty level. We made
the best of things and had a lot of
good times together. It was fun to
be young.
Mr. Green is a member of the Cowichan
Historical Society.
Memories of Housekeeping in the 1930's
by Winnifred Ariel Weir
It was July, 1932, a few months
after I was married, when I decided
to have a few friends for dinner.
There were just eight of us but I laboured all day over the McClary
woodstove in the kitchen, baking
Parkerhouse rolls and a gourmet
meat loaf, heating the whole house
in the process.
I had an ice-box which my husband
had filled with fresh ice before he
went to work. The ice was cut from
Lake Windermere in February in
blocks eighteen inches square and
packed in layers of sawdust. He al-
RC. Historical News
ways hosed it off before carrying it
into the kitchen but drips of water
and sawdust smeared my newly
washed floor. I reminded myself
that I must empty the drainage pan
under the ice-box before my guests
arrived or we might find the kitchen
floor afloat. In July it needed emptying twice a day.
The jellied dessert had been made
the night before because jelly in those
days was unreliable and needed a
full 24 hours to set. There were
fresh green peas and carrots from
the garden.
To-day 57 years later I am having
eight for dinner. The meatloaf is in
the microwave; the dessert, made a
week ago is in the freezer, the salad
is crisping in the refrigerator and the
kitchen is as cool as the rest of the
air-conditioned house.
Many communities were not as deprived as ours in the 1930's. Many
had ample electricity. Our electricity
came from a diesel plant. In the
summer the power went on at dusk
and off at 11 p.m. The hours of electricity varied with the season. In
winter it also came on at 6 a.m. and went off at sun-up. There came a
day when a prominent lady in the
village got an electric washing machine and the power was left on every Monday morning until noon.
Soon other housewives also got
washing machines but we could use
them only on Monday mornings.
My first washing machine, bought
in 1933, because there would be a
baby in a few months, was a wooden
tub on legs, bound with iron bands
and having a side handle which I
swung back and forth to agitate the
inner wheel which circulated the
clothes. A hand wringer was fastened to it and it could swing sideways to also serve the two galvanized tubs of rinsing water. All had
to be emptied by hand. There was
also the big copper boiler on the
wood burning stove in which I boiled
any particularly dirty items. The
wooden washing machine had to be
stored with a few inches of water in
it to prevent it drying out and developing leaks.
We could never use an electric iron
as the diesel plant did not produce
enough power. The flat irons always sat at the back of the stove,
ready to be moved forward for use.
How many housewives to-day know
that to test the iron for the right
heat, one spat on it.
There were no Pampers in those
days nor diaper service. We made
flannelette diapers, hemmed on the
sewing machine. After laundering
each day they were hung on the line
outside even in 20 below zero F.
When the frozen diapers came back
into the kitchen they hung on an
overhead rack to thaw and dry.
The hospital had a small x-ray
machine which required all the power the diesel plant could produce so
when the doctor required an x-ray
for a patient, the telephone operator
would phone each customer and ask
us to turn off our lights for half an
hour. So we would sit by coal-oil
lamps or candle light.
The day came when we had power
every day until noon and some of us
aquired a vacuum cleaner and we
could wash every day. That was
luxury but there were occasional
frantic days when I was rushing to
finish the vacuuming or the washing
before the power went off sharp at
twelve and the babe, just out of diapers was asking to be taken to the
There was no Pablum or commercial baby food. I cooked Cream of
Wheat overnight in a double boiler to
ensure its digestibility. When the
doctor recommended vegetables I
pressed them through a sieve, not
once but twice on his advice.
Everyone had a vegetable garden
and we canned and bottled through
the hot summer months. If our root
vegetables gave out before spring,
we could buy them for two cents a
pound. We relished the fruits of
summer for in winter we could buy
only apples, oranges and bananas.
The first grapefruit in the spring
were as welcome as the crocuses and
Milk was delivered to the doorstep
early each morning. It was ten
cents a quart. It came in glass bottles that we washed and put out for
the milkman to pick up next morning. Many of us had a few chickens
in the backyard and eggs were
deemed fresh for three days only.
It never occurred to us that keeping house was difficult. It was the
same for all of us and we were happy with our accomplishments. We
had a happy social life. There were
dinner parties and dances. Dances
were $1.50 a couple plus a cake or
sandwiches for the supper and the
baby-sitter was fifty cents.
We baked for church teas and bazaars and attended these events of
all the churches. There were picnics
in summer and swimming parties
and skating parties on the lake in
winter. Community spirit was all
encompassing. We rejoiced at engagement parties and weddings,
mourned with the bereaved at funerals, delighted in the small achievements of neighbours.
To-day I have most household appliances. Certainly keeping house is
a breeze compared to the 30's. But I
don't regret a moment of it.
Mrs. Weir is Curator of the Windermere
Valley Museum, former newspaper editor,
and chairman ofthe district Cancer Society.
The Boundary Historical
Society has plans well underway for hosting the B.C.
Historical Federation's Annual
Conference in Grand Forks,
May 10th - 13th, 1990.
Mark these dates on your calendar. You won't want to
miss this event.
Make cheque payable to B.C. Historical Federation
Mail to:     Subscription Secretary
5928 Baffin Place
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3S8
Postal Code.
. Gift From
RC Historical News The Early History of New Westminster
LW. A. Local (1-357)
The "timberbeasts", as the early
woodworkers were known in British
Columbia during the late 1800's and
early 1900's, were both radical and
discontent. These men were faced
with destitute working and living
conditions, and discrimination, low
pay for long tedious hours, and no
holidays, pensions, or health benefits. During these early years various organizations tried to help the
woodworkers attain better social
benefits, higher wages, and other
advantages, but unfortunately most
were not successful. In July, 1937,
a new organization arose to lead
and organize the woodworkers.
This was the International
Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.),
under the communist leadership of
Harold Pritchett. The union faced
and still faces struggles with powerful employers and anti-labour governments, however, through the
many struggles that it has endured
it has grown to a force of great
strength and solidarity.
Misconceptions concerning the
I.WA. and its locals however, seem
to persist. Many speculate that the
I.WA. and its locals only help their
members by settling grievances, negotiating contracts and performing
other tasks for their workers. The
I.WA. and its locals actually go beyond these priorities by reaching out
and helping the neighboring communities.
The I.WA. local 1-357 from New
Westminster has an interesting history and has played an important
part in helping the trade union
movement and surrounding communities. This article will examine the
birth of local 1-357 and, the role it
played for the workers, and the people of neighboring communities.
The I.WA. during the 1940's saw
a number of important gains for the
union. One of those gains came in
1942 in the "hub city" of New
Westminster, where the mighty
RC. Historical News
by Werner Kaschel
Fraser River was (and of course still
is) used to transport log booms to
the nearby sawmills, veneer (plywood) plants and sash door plants.
New Westminster was a woodworking town.
On 24 October 1942 the I.WA. expanded its territory by chartering local 1-357 of New Westminster, its
sixth in British Columbia. The
growth of this local and its committees not only helped the wood workers significantly, but also aided the
surrounding communities both socially and economically.
The first meeting of the newly born
local was held in the Arenex at
Queens Park, New Westminster, on
8 November 1942. Over four hundred and fifty new members, both
brothers and sisters, turned out to
listen to the first I.WA. president,
brother Harold Pritchett. That night
he "stressed the role woodworkers in
general are called upon to play in
the war effort."1 He laid down the
conditions of the charter, the responsibilities of the organization, read
the obligations of membership, and
finally congratulated the members
on their effort in organizing the mills
in New Westminster. From this
meeting came the first real feeling of
solidarity among woodworkers in
the New Westminster area.
The first elected executive council
of 1-357 consisted of nine people. At
the same time, the local chose seven
people to sit on the Vancouver
Trades and Labour Council
(VT.L.C). Shortly after their first
meeting the local moved into its offices.
The original offices were located in
the Ellis block on Columbia Street
but by December, 1942 the local was
settling into their new building at
650 Columbia Street. During the
1940s, the local organized a Social
Committee, Ladies Auxiliary, and
had helped to form the I.WA. and
Community Credit Union, as well as
creating a number of other committees, in 1948. The local was dubbed
the "cornerstone of trade unionism
in B.C.", because it was the first
I.WA. local to break away from communist leadership.
Donations to charity organizations
and funds for sports teams were
some of the deeds the Social
Committee and Women's Auxiliary
took part in. A number of donations
by the local were made to the
Salvation Army Home, Boy Scouts,
Crippled Children's Hospital, Red
Cross, St. Johns Ambulance and the
drive to build Queens Park Bowl.
The local also sponsored baseball,
soccer, and lacrosse teams in their
neighboring communities. During
the Second World War, the local had
a War Finance committee, which
.promoted the purchasing of war
bonds by members. The local itself
bought $1,500 of Victory War bonds.
Women played an important role
during the war in many industries,
but their presence in local 1-357 was
so significant that they accounted
for 70% of the total workforce. The
majority were considered excellent
workers but after the war most lost
their working jobs as the men returned home. However, by the late
1950s and early 1960's the local led
the way on issues concerning women
and their role in the workplace.
Besides their work in the mills the
women were also very active in the
Women's Auxiliary, which was one
of the first groups to emerge from
the local.
The auxiliary organized a sick
committee in the early forties, which
was very popular among its members. The sick committee consisted
of wives, or relatives of members,
who visited the Royal Columbian
Hospital and the Saint Mary's
Hospital to see injured and sick
woodworkers as well as other sick
people. They often brought the injured and the sick people cigarettes, flowers or a newspaper, the B.C.
Lumber Worker to read. The
Women's Auxiliary was engaged in
planning an expanded program of
social activity "for combined purposes of fund raising and improvement
of both social and recreational outlets for I.WA. members and their
families."2 The Women's Auxiliary
also helped fund $300 for a new cabin at Camp Jubilee, a children's
summer camp located at Burrard
Inlet's Orlomah Beach near Deep
Cove, opened up in 1935.
The Women's Auxiliary was very
important because it supported both
the members and the neighboring
communities. Their cause was a
philanthropical one. The Women
were also very active in organizing a
number of committees within the local. The Social committee, one of
the biggest developed in the local
during the early 1940's, branched
out into a number of other committees such as the Sports, Labour Day
and Dance committees.
A Sports committee emerged in
the early 1940's, which created fastball teams among the different
woodworking operations. An annual picnic was held in the summer
months, where members and families met at a park to play baseball,
enter sack races, flex their muscles
in the tug of war and to compete in
other track events. The picnic and
sporting events in the outdoors
created a relaxing, enjoyable time
for the people as socializing was the
main course of the day.
By 1944, a Labour Day committee
was created. For many years this
committee sponsored a float in the
Pacific National Exhibition (PN.E.)
parade which "exemplified the advantages of trade unions in the betterment of living and working conditions."3 A Mercury flatdeck was
usually decorated for the local's
float. By the mid fifties however,
these floats ceased to be, because of
a dispute between the PN.E. officials and the VT.L.C.
The Dance committee was another
one of the committees created in the
early 1940's and its projects became
very popular among the members.
Members from the Social committee,
Dance committee and the Women's
Auxiliary helped organize many
dances, one of which was known as
a "Klondyke Night" dance. These
dances provided good entertainment
and door prizes were awarded to
lucky members. The Social committee did not concern itself solely with
recreational matters however, it also
arranged loans for members who
were in need of money.
The loans were paid back in
monthly installments and this may
very well have laid the ground work
for the establishment of the I.WA.
and Community Credit Union.
The formation of the I.WA. and
Community Credit Union in the
summer of 1944 was one of the
many contributions this local has
made to its members and the nearby
community. The growth of the
Credit Union membership jumped
from 240 in 1946 to over 2,500 in
1959. The Credit Union encouraged
both members and relatives to join.
Loans for building houses, sicknesses or accidents could be taken out by
I.WA. members. The ties between
the local and the Credit Union bettered the financial circumstances of
the members, created a stronger
economy for the community of New
Westminster and in turn, strengthened the union. As well as providing
the community with a financial institution the local also created education classes for its members.
Education classes were set up for
shop stewards and members on the
Plant committee. They helped promote safety precautions at work.
This ultimately led to the organization of Safety committees in the sawmills and plywood plants of the local. The Safety committee usually
published news letters or bulletins
through the local's Press committee.
The Press committee initially
printed letters and bulletins, which
were relayed to the wood operations
throughout the local. They contained messages such as accident reports, notices and demands, social
events and safety meetings. By
1945, a newspaper was formed by
the local called the BUZZ SAW.   A
two page issue came out monthly,
containing articles of interest to local
members. The committee continued
printing bulletins whenever necessary including some concerning political elections.
A political committee in the local
studied the proposals for legislation
effecting labour and working people.
It looked at the people aspiring to
political office and helped fund and
organize campaigns for the
Cooperative Commonwealth
Federation (C.C.F.). The only two
political parties that were supporting the cause of the working class
were the Communist Party (CP.)
and the C.C.F., who were both fighting amongst themselves to see who
would take political control of the union. This struggle in the political
realm of the union and its locals
created internal conflicts amongst
the members. The local helped fund
the CCF. and in turn it helped the
local in the cause of the working
class. The CCF. also aided the
I.WA. in its struggle with the communists.
The threat of communist run unions was common in many organizations like the I.WA. during the
1930's and 1940's. The government
and employers of B.C. were afraid
the communists within the union
were becoming a serious threat to
the capitalist system. "In 1943, we
(Stewart Alsbury, George Mitchell
and a few other members from local
1-357) organized the Old Timers
Group at Fraser Mills against the
opposition (communist) leadership,
because they were using the union
and its money to support their own
political purpose."4 Two major
events led to the exclusion of the
communist leaders inside the I.WA.
during the Cold War era. The first
was the passing of the American
government's Taft-Hartley Act in
1947, which put an end to communist leadership in both Canada and
the United States. The act stopped
communist leaders from B.C. entering the U.S. to attend international
union meetings and it also enforced
the resignation of those communist
leaders.   By March, 1948, "the only
RC. Historical News local where there was an effective
turnabout (i.e., white bloc victory)
before the so-called "Forty-eight resolution" was the New Westminster
local where Stewart Alsbury was
the elected president of local 1-357
and the leader against the opposition. As a result of the Hartley Act
and their strength in the I.WA.,
Harold Pritchett and other communists tried to break away from the
international. In October, 1948,
they held a meeting for all I.WA.
locals, which resulted in the communists forming a national union, the
Woodworkers Industrial Union of
Canada (W.I.U.C). The second
event occurred at this meeting,
when delegates from local 1-357
were the first members to walk out
after Pritchett and his group suggested their disaffiliation with the
The WI.U.C. did not give up without a struggle. "The fight between
the I.WA. and the W.I.U.C. turned
violent at Iron River, a logging
camp and W.I.U.C. stronghold
south of Campbell River on
Vancouver Island." In December,
1948, Stewart Alsbury and a few
other I.WA. men were sent to Iron
River to break up an illegal strike
set up by some W.I.U.C. loggers.
As eager as Alsbury was to settle
this despute nonviolently he led his
group into a violent confrontation,
where he was seriously injured. "I
went out on a tour to Vancouver
Island to help the I.WA. rid itself of
the opposition faction, where I got
beat up severely in my cause. . . I
had four ribs broken and was out of
action for sometime." The WI.U.C.
ceased to exist by 1950 and the
I.WA. was back in action thanks
partially due to the leadership of local 1-357, which kept growing significantly.
The break from the communists
within the I.WA. was significant
since it helped its members and other trade unions fight off communist
leadership. The communist leaders
were accused of "using the I.WA.
as a racket for (their own) personal
profit" and the I.WA. was used by
them to extend the influence of their
The locals membership increased
from 2,300 in 1942 to over 5,000 in
1959. In the 1950's, the local witnessed significant growth following
the burning of their first mortgage
and the accumulation of more property. The local also helped form the
United Good Neighbours Fund
(U.G.N.), helped fund strikes, improved communication for members
with the radio program "Green
Gold", created social activities like
Christmas Tree party and a fishing
derby, as well, it fought against racism in the neighboring communities.
By 1949, "we bought a building
on 533 Clarkson Street, which was
(the local's) first real office because
prior to that we had been renting.'*
A gala event occurred for the local
on February 1950 - "1-357 Will
Burn Mortgage At Banquet" was
the sub-heading in the B.C. Lumber
Worker in February 1950. A dance
and banquet was set up by the New
Society, a branch group from the
Social committee that was formed in
the late 1940's, which was held in
the Gai Paree where members
watched the burning of the mortgage. In 1951, the local bought the
property at 537 Carnarvon Street
directly behind their building, where
they constructed a new building containing four offices. Local 1-357
was renting all the office spaces out
by September 1952 and one was
rented to the I.W.A. and
Community Credit Union. In 1958,
the local purchased a lot of land on
the corner of 12th Street and 8th
Avenue, where they built a new
building which opened up in May of
the same year. The local resides at
the same location today.
In 1954, local 1-357 along with
the New Westminster Chamber of
Commerce joined together to form
the United Good Neighbours Fund,
formerly the Community Chest.
The local's contribution to the community came in the aid of social
welfare, which was set up in the
U.G.N. The local prompted other
business, industries and unions to
help the U.G.N.   Men from the local
provided leadership to the U.G.N,
as presidents, directors, and campaign chairmen. Volunteer canvassers provided by the local played an
important part in the collecting of
funds for the U.G.N. The U.G.N,
was important because it aided
needy people.
The I.W.A. supported any strike
that included a bonafide union in
Canada or the United States. In
the mid 1940"s the local made contributions to strikes on the regional
level, but later it also made efforts
to aid strikes on provincial, national
and international levels.
Contributions were made in forms of
both money and food.
Among the strikes they funded in
the early 1950's were the
Weyerhaeuser strike in
Washington, Eddy Match in
Mission, and the big Army & Navy
strike in New Westminster. The
Army & Navy store workers, as well
as members of other striking unions
received $25 a week from the I.WA.
local 1-357. Any time a strike occurred, the local's paper, BUZZ
SAW, urged I.W.A. members not to
purchase items from the striking
outfits, and to obey the picket lines.
During the I.W.A. strikes of the
1940's and 1950's, local 1-357 also
faced hardships which were lightened by the comradeship and diligence of its own members. For example, the Women's Auxiliary
searched for food and money from
stores and farms in the Lower
Mainland, later, they even set up
soup kitchens for picketers at the
mills. "Women from this local
worked like hell during these
strikes . . " The Women's Auxiliary
helped members significantly during strikes by providing them with
food and funds, so they could survive the duration of the strike.
News regarding strikes and I.W.A.
material was heard on the local's
radio program, "Green Gold".
Green Gold was introduced in
1939 on CJOR by I.WA. president,
Harold Pritchett, who talked about
the news in the labour scene.
Strikes, negotiation proposals, demands, safety talks, working condi-
RC. Historical News
30 tions were just some of the items
mentioned on the program. Local 1-
357 participated in the "Green
Gold" talk show on CKNW on
Saturdays at 7:05. The first program by the local commenced on 5
April 1952. The CKNW program
had been "received with acclaim by
radio listeners. The programs have
already proved to be a valuable medium for presentation of I.W.A.
news and policies."1 One of many
topics mentioned on the program
was education and safety in wood
It was stated that "the Education
Program launched by local 1-357
has been an outstanding success."8
The program had classes dealing
with co-operatives, education for
shop stewards and grievances committees, but the central theme of the
program was its safety class.
Members at the plant level were
able to talk about accident reports,
claims and the prevention of accidents. The local's educational program involved showing film on safety rules and hazards at the
workplace and soon these films were
shown to other I.W.A. locals. The
popular demand for local 1-357
films was overwhelming. In 1950 it
was announced that the I.W.A.
"shows 30 films a month and is now
rated by the National Film board as
the biggest of any rival circuits."3
The local's Education Program was
important to its members and other
locals, because it improved the education of shop stewards and safety
committees in turn making safer
working conditions for all.
The Women's Auxiliary, Sports
committee and Social committee introduced many athletic activities
such as bowling, which became an
instant success with the members.
Fishing derbies were another adventure the local attempted in the early
1950's and they became a popular
During such recreational activities
workers, families and friends could
get out to relax, socialize and wait
patiently along the sand bars of the
Fraser River to catch "the big one".
This yearly event still takes place
with prizes consisting of trophies
and cash. The "Christmas Tree
Party" was another event that
brought the workers and family
members together. The parties ended in the late fifties, but while they
were in existence they were a great
success, as exemplified by the fact
that as many as 2,000 to 4,000 often gathered for the celebration.
Refreshments, gifts and entertainment were made available to the
members and their families. The
high cost of such large parties unfortunately made the "Christmas Tree
Party" unfeasible; the last one being
held in 1958. The Women's
Auxiliary and the Social committee
were major agents in the organization of social events in the local.
This, of course, was very important
for the members since such events
created enjoyable times for them
away from the mills. Although the
committees spent a significant
amount of their time developing social activities they also took time to
focus on more serious issues,
Racism has been a factor in B.C.
since the 1880's, when Chinese were
found working for half the wage of
the Caucasian worker. Since the formation of the I.W.A. in 1937, this
old tiered wage system was abolished in the forest industry, because
the I.WA.'s philosophy is "based on
brotherhood and sisterhood of the
working people joining together
cooperatively to pursue common and
economic and social interests. "10 The
local's Social committee has helped
to "combat racism and racial discrimination of all forms in the mills
within the boundaries of the local,
and to look into particular problems
faced by our immigrant brothers and
sisters", since the 1950's and perhaps earlier.11 "I.WA. Leads Attack
Against Prejudice" was one of the
talks on CKNW on 11 April 1952,
where speakers from the local attacked The Vancouver Sun for writing a discriminatory article on problems in South Africa.12 They also
supported equal rights for all races
of men in the work force in B.C. The
strength and sincerity of the local's
attack against racism helped mem
bers and those in need when situations of prejudice occurred.
In summary, it is clear that local
1-357 has played an important, and
interesting role within both the
I.W.A. and Greater New
Westminster area. The local's
achievements are many. It helped
to organize the I.W.A. and
Community Credit Union and aided
in the formation of United Good
Neighbours Fund. During its continuous growth and expansion the local, through its various committees
was able to aid both its own members and the greater community.
Many years have passed since the
local began its efforts to improve conditions within the workplace, but the
time has been certainly well spent;
the local and all its brothers and sisters are a credit to both Canada and
the trade union movement,
The author is a Simon Fraser graduate
with a RA. in History, and a holder of a
Public History Certificate. His home is in
1-357 MinuteBook, Vol. 1, Nov. 1942-Sept. 1947, p. 1
B.C. Lumber Water, March, 1951.
B.C. Lumber Worker, Sept. 1954.
[nterview with Stewart Alsbury, Feb. 1986.
Lembeke, One Union in Wood, p 105.
Interview with Stewart Alsbury, Feb. 1986.
RC Lumber Write* April 1952.
RC. Lumber Wferker, March 1950.
B.C Lumber Worker, November 1950.
TlieChipper.January 1978.
TheChipper, January 1978.
B.C Lumber Worker, April 1952.
Bergen, H, Dalstog, E, Parkin, A, Barnett, T
"Hard Bargaining- A Union in the Woods 1940-1950 in
Sound Heritage. Vol. VII. No. 4, Provincial Archives.
Victoria, B.C. pp. 61-76.
Lembeke, Jeny&Tatlam, William 1984
One Union in the WdocJi A Political History of the
International Wndworkers of America, B.C. Harbour
Publishing Co., Ltd.
Lembeke, Jerry 1989
'The International Woodworkers at America in BX.
1942-1951", Labour/Le Trauaille 6, pp. 113-148.
Norton, Desmond &COPR Terry 1964
Working Peopta An Illustrated History of the Canadian
UboraMowement, Deneau Publishers: Ottawa, Revised
Palmer, D., Bryan 1983
WiridngClass Experience! The Rise and Reconstruction
of Canadian Labour. 1800-1980, Canada: ButlesworthS
IWA Annuals Series 5-16,1976-1986. Naylor
Communications Ltd
Local 1-387 Union Minutes Nov. 1942 - Sept. 1947, Oct.
1947-Sept. 1957 - Sept. 1962, Oct. 1962 - Sept. 1970,
Oct. 1970 - Sept. 1975 - Sept. 1980.
Local 1-387 Society Minute Book, Feb 1949 - April 1981.
TlieChipper, Dec. 1971 - Dec. 1985.
RC. Lumber Worker, Dec. 1942 - Nov, 1069.
RC. Historical News Gems From Archives
This Program Courtesy of Kootenay Lake Historical Society
Program — Thursday, July 27th
Swimming'—boys under 10 years—1st 7&c, 2nd 50c, distance 25 yartL
Swimming—girls under 10 years—1st 7&c, 2nd 50c; diiU-uce 25 >:nJs
Swimming—boys under 14 yeais—1st 75c, 2nd 50c; dijian..e 30 >arris
Swimming—girls under 14 years—1st 75.;, 2nd 50c; distance 35 yards
Swimming—boys under 12. years—1st 75c, 2nd 50c; distance 35 yards
Swimming—girls under 12 years—1st 75c, 2nd 50c; distance 35 yards
S./imming—boys under 16 years—1st $1.00, 2nd 50c, distance 50 yards
S..i.nming—girls under 16 years—1st $1.00, 2nd 50c, instance 50 yuid3
Diving—boys under 12 years—1st 75c, 2nd 50c—girls under 12 years—1st 75c, 2nd 50:
Swimming under water—open, 1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
Diving—boys under 10 years—1st 75c, 2nd 30;
Diving—girls under 10 years—1st 75=, 2nd 50c
Diving—boys under 14 years—1st 75:, 2nd "»0c
Diving—g'.ris under 14 years—1st "5c, 2nd 50c
Diving—boys under 16 years—1st $1.00, 2nd 50=
Diving—girls under 16 years—1st $1.00, 2nd 50c
Duck Race—girls, open
Duck Rcce—boys, open
Diving for plates—men, open—1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
Diving for plates—women, open—1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
Diving—men, 1st $1.00, 2nd 75c
Ladies Diving—1st $1.00, 2nd 75c
High Diving—men, open—1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
High Diving—women, open—1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
Swimming—men, open, 75 yards—1st $1.50, 2rd $1.00
Swimming—ladies, open, 75 yards—1st $1.50, 2nd $1.00
Specizl—youngest swimmers on the beach—3 "Kidd medals", .-<p -ial dun:i
tions,—contestants to swim 15 yards without help of any kind.
Kaslo Water Carnival
To be held on Kootenay Lake, at KASLO, B. C„ on
July 26 and 27, 1933
F3ANK S. ROULEAU. Commodore J. A. RIDDELL, Capuio
BOARD OP COVERNORS—A. T. Garland, R. Ht*at, W. L. Billings,
A. W. Amtfrion. O. D. Bowker and A. P. Allsrbrook
Committees in Charge
RACING—J. A. Riddell, Chairman; F. Rouleau, B. F. Palmer, R. A.Chester
and J. R. Tinkess.
FINANCE—B. F. Palmer, chairman, R. A. Chester, J. IS, Tinkess.
AQUATIC—R. Hewat, chairman, A. T. Garland.
WORKS—J. A. Riddell, chairman, C. J. White, P. M. Elder, J. Brochier.
PUBLICITY—F. S. Rouleau, Walter Hendricks.
For further information ac.d entry blanks, write, wire or phone
Program — Wednesday, July 26th
Bang-and-Go-Back Race, open, one heat, 1st, shield; 2nd merchandise $2.00.
Class B Outboard Race 1st heat, for the Boat Club Shield, emblematic of
the Class B championship of Kootenay Lake, to be held by the winner
for one year; 1st, merchandise valued at $10.00; 2nd, merchandise $5.00
Outboard Handicap Displacement Runabout Race, 1st heat,    1st shield and
$2.00; 2nd merchandise $3.00
(Handicaps—Boats powered with Class B motors, 10 series, to carry driver
only; Class B, 16 series to carry extra passenger; and larger motors to
carry two extra passengers.) C Outboard Race, 1st heat,   1st shield and merchandise S15.00;   2nd,
merchandise valued at $10.00
Class A Outboard Race for the Davis Cup, 1st cup; 2nd merchandise $2.00
Inboard Race, boats with a speed not over 35 miles an hour, first heat, 1st
shield and merchandise valued at $5.00; 2nd merchandise valued at $5.00
Class B Outboard Race, 2-d heat
Outboard Displacement Runabout Race, Handirap, lady drivers, 1st, shield;
2nd merchandise valued at $2.00.
Class C Outboard Race, 2nd heat
Outboard Displacement Runabout Handicap, 2nd heat
Inboard Runabout Race, 2nd heat
Aquaplane Race, open to outboard or inboard boats, merchandise $5,00
Outboard Marathon, for the Outboard Championship of Kootenay Lake, for
the City of Kaslo Cup, to be held by the winner for one year, 15 miles,
1st, shield and merchandise valued at $15.00; 2nd merchandise valued at
$10.00; 3rd merchandise valued at $5.00.
All races except Marathon, to be run on a IH mile oval course, three laps.
All races open to the world.   Winners decided on N.O.A. point system—1st,
400 points; 2nd 361; 3rd 324; 4th 289, etc.
Entry fee $1.00 per boat, which covers all races, including marathon.
Entries close on Wednesday, July 26 at noon.
RC. Historical News
32 An Incident in Diplomacy
by Fraser Wilson
More than fifty years ago I was a
cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun.
As well as doing political cartoons
and caricatures I produced an eight
column strip for the bottom of page
one, every Saturday. The name of
the strip "Events of the Week" is
self explanatory.
The strip reproduced on this page
appeared on the first Saturday in
October 1937. The frame referred to
in this article is enlarged above. It
attempted to recognize and salute
the visit of Emperor Hirohito's brother, Prince Chichibu and his wife to
our fair city. Understanding the
feeling of the Japanese people of
that day that their Emperor was a
deity, I was careful not to caricature
their Royal Highnesses, but to make
as near life-like resemblances to
them as possible.
Imagine the surprise of the Sun
editors as well as myself at the response we received on Monday and
all during the following week. More
than three hundred letters, all derisive and threatening came into the
office. The sentiments ranged all
the way from "just cancel my subscription" to one that stated, "You
will pay for your insolence when we
take over your country!"
This was more than four years before Pearl Harbour. And although
thousands of Japanese-Canadians
were loyal to this country, it will
never be known whether these three
hundred letters were the work of
that many individuals or a barrage
by a small group of fanatics.
The Sun published an apology early in the next week.
P.S. Looking back-doesn't my "Mr.
Van" as I called him, greeting the
prince, bear a striking resemblance
to a certain local politician?
Fraser Wilson is a well known Vancouver
artist. He teas honored recently when his mural in the old Labour Hall was cleaned and
put on display to the public. He was an officer in the Burnaby Historical Society pr thirty
Events   of the Week As Seen by Sun Cartoonist
"   By Fraser Wilson
RC. Historical News NEWS & NOTES
The Kanakas
Where are the descendants of the
Hawaiian immigrants who came to B.C.
in the 1840-1870s?
Tom Koppel of Ganges is researching
the Kanakas, especially those who became farmers, preemptd land or lived
and worked other than in the southernmost Gulf Islands. If anyone has information, pictures, or documentation
please get in touch with:
Tom Koppel • Box 944 • Ganges,
B.C. • VOS 1E0 • Phone: (604) 537-
Britannia - A National Historic Site
Britannia ruled the waves on
Discovery Day, May 13, 1989. The
Britannia Beach Historical Society and
the Federal Government arranged a day
of celebration to honor the fact that the
Britannia Milling Complex was to be
designated a National Historic Site.
The Britannia Milling Complex is in
Britannia Beach, 55 kilometres or 35
miles north of Vancouver on the scenic
Sea to Sky Highway, or 99, enroute to
Once the largest producer of copper in
the British Empire the mill has been
long shut down. The multi-level 11 storey mill, which towers above the mine is
the only gravity fed ore concentrator in
North America that is accessible to the
general public, and, as such, was deemed
worthy of recognition.
Discovery Day was declared to help
celebrate this honor and to open the
Village Green Park. This park, which
will bring lasting pleasure to the
Britannia Beach population, was designed by architect Jim Bezanson and
acknowledges the four main elements of
the community - forests, water, minerals
and people. In the centre a flagpole is
alongside the Historic Plaque mounted
on a replica of the Mill. For the families
there are picnic tables, a sandbox,
swings, etc.
The dedication ceremony was held in
the Park, with lively entertainment and
interesting speeches by the various dignitaries from B.C. and Ottawa.
Discovery Day was blessed with fine
weather to fit the happy feeling in the
air. The pancake breakfast, displays,
arts and crafts, food concessions and helicopter rides were all very popular.
After the historic ceremony the assembled crowd enjoyed the reception held at
the nearby school.
Nearby B.C. Museum of Mining received lots of attention with the interesting tours available there giving demon-
B.C. Historical News
strations of mining equipment and techniques.
Known as the immovable giant, embedded in the hillside since the turn of the
century the Milling complex is now honored, thanks to the many patrons and
dedicated work of the Britannia Beach
Historical Society and the organizing
committee with its numerous volunteers.
Joan Bellinger
Saanich Historical Artifacts Society
The Annual Summer Fair of the
Saanich Historical Artifacts Society was
held in June, 1989. The acreage which
this Society has acquired held plenty of
interest for young and old. Steam tractors and vintage machinery were in operation and little steam trains chugged
along short tracks.
Many groups attended, including a
tour by the West Coast Railway
Association. Members of this group later
had a ride on the Sooke River Railway,
the only remaining track of C.N.'s
Victoria to Deerholme and Youbou line.
Sooke River Railway Preservation
Society is in the process of restoring various track vehicles, including handcars
and passenger cars.
The Sooke Museum proved to be fascinating and included a guided tour of
Moss Cottage, restored and liveable.
Both the Saanich Society and The
Sooke Railway Society welcome new and
interested members.
Joan Bellinger
Borderlands (June 2-4)
The Yukon Historical and Museums
Association and Professor Ken Coates of
the University of Victoria, B.C. are to be
congratulated on having organized a
highly successful conference held at the
Yukon College, Whitehorse. Its objective
was to examine United States -
Canadian relations within the context of
the Alaska-Yukon Boundary and its effects, past and present, on northern borderlands.
Mutual problems and tensions were
discussed in a congenial and amicable atmosphere, and it was in a spirit of good-
natured humor that each side reviewed
its past mistakes. An enthusiastic audience of over 100 drawn from different
parts of the respective countries testified
to the interest generated by such a meeting.
Speakers ranged from well-known
Native Elders of the Yukon and Alaska
to Canadian and U.S. academics and
graduate students in various disciplines,
archivists from the Yukon and Alaska, as
well as members of Parks Canada and
the U.S. National Parks Service.
Among the topics addressed were
trans-governmental relations, Native
Peoples, resource development, the
Alaskan Panhandle and British
Columbia, early fur trade, and northern
business activity.
The titles of a number of the papers
should give an idea of the wide scope covered. Mr. Sam Williams, Champagne,
Aishihik Elder, introduced the theme of
"Life in the Borderlands Area" which
was followed by an account by Dr.
Catherine McClellan, Professor
Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, entitled "Before Boundaries: Peoples of
Yukon/Alaska", Dr. Lew Green,
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, spoke
about the "Phototopographic Mapping
and the Panhandle Boundary", Mr. J.W
Shelest, (Kitchener, Ont.) Ph.D. candidate, Cambridge, England, gave an insight into "The Dryad Affair: Anglo-
Russian Rivalry for the Alaskan Lisiere",
Dr. Frederica de Laguna, Professor
Emeritus, Bryn Mawr, talked about
"Lieutenant Emmons and the Alaska
Boundary Controversy, 1902-03", Nancy
Cameron of Yukon College, Whitehorse,
focused on the "Alaskan Prohibition and
its Impact on the Yukon Territory 1921-
25; Dr. William Hannable, University of
Alaska, Anchorage and President of AHS
spoke on "The Alaska-Yukon Boundary:
the Maritime Dimension", Dr. William
Morrison, Brandon University,
Manitoba, explored the subject of
"Canada's Western Arctic: Testing
Ground for Canada's National Interest in
the North", and Barbara Kelcey, graduate student University of Victoria, addressed the topic of "Victory or Death:
Women on the Klondike Trail".
The final part of the conference was
dedicated to 'Contemporary Perspectives
on the Boundary' and a projection into
the future. Nacho Ny'ak Dun Chief
Albert Peter, representing the Council
for Yukon Indians, stressed the decline
in salmon and caribou stocks and underlined the urgent need for trans-boundary
cooperation. His call to apply long-term
vision to various issues shared by all
northerners was reiterated by all speakers who followed.
As Rosemary Blair-Smith, Beaver
Creek, (Tanana-Southern Tutchone),
summed up: it was a meeting of minds,
an effort to share and transmit knowledge. It is to be hoped that such international dialogue will be continued in the
Alix O'Grady
B.C. Historical Federation, Victoria Bookshelf
"Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the book review editor;
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Ave., Vancouver, B.C.   V6S 1E4."
As Wise As Serpents;
Lynn Gough; Victoria, B.C.: Swan
Lake Publishing, 1988. Pp. 276,
Illustrated, bibliography, index, footnotes.   $15.95
Lynn Gough's As Wise As
Serpents is subtitled "Five women
and an organization that changed
British Columbia 1883-1939". The
women were Cecilia Spofford, Maria
Grant, Helen Grant, Margaret
Jenkins, and Emma Spencer, all of
Victoria; the organization was the
Women's Christian Temperance
Union, the WCTU: the changes
wrought are purported to have been
many. Gough represents these respectable, socially conscious activists as reforming forces driving the
public along the road to prohibition
and women's suffrage, driving the
public toward its own good.
While each woman had her own
special interest, the interests crissed
and crossed, the two main movements going hand in hand but
reaching out to haul in any other reform group within grasp. When not
pounding away at sin and drink in
the Standard theatre, soliciting
anti-alcohol pledges, pushing for
Sunday saloon closures, or listening,
rapt to Billy Sunday, the good women promoted gospel services in jails,
set up a home for "Magdalenes", interested themselved in unwed mothers, protested male domination of
school boards, opposed movies, and
reacted not so much to the thought
of war as to the sight of a soldier
drinking, especially one with a
woman on his knee. To further their
causes these fairly well-to-do, middle-class ladies entertained any visiting temperance advocate or any
visiting royalty, and cornered any
premier they could at one of their
good-cause garden parties.
Filled with interesting tidbits of
social history, this book is, however,
lifeless, joyless. One chapter called
"Franchise Fever" communicates no
sense of fever whatsoever, and one
paragraph about a victory parade
on September 11, 1916 attempts to
rise from the dead but quickly collapses back into a coma. And surely
these good women celebrated somehow on the day prohibition came
into effect; surely after such long
years of hard work these worthy
women smiled at least, or had a celebratory cup of tea or even a private
but satisfying sit-down with a sigh
and loosened stays. But no! Not
Numbed by such joylessness and
confused by detail rather than
astonished by backed-up generalisations, the reader quietly slips away.
Too many names obscure the main
characters and force readers to check
back and back and back before they
give up. The over-use of first names
compounds the confusion: "Maria
Grant" is what we want, not merely
"Maria"; and Emma should occasionally have been Mrs. David
Spencer. Like too many writers of
local history, Lynn Gough uses "escape-hatch" words such as "probably", "presumably" and "perhaps",
words throwing doubt on the validity of her own facts.
Organization creates even more
confusion. At no one place, for instance, does the reader learn the
background of the Temperance
movement, either at home or elsewhere. Victoria seems to have existed in isolation though one very short
paragraph does indicate that fire
had wiped out Vancouver. John
Robson is dead by blood poisoning
after catching his hand in the door of
a London taxicab, but a couple of
pages later he seems happily resurrected and attending a garden party
in Victoria.
Unfortunately too many writers of
local history create unreadable
books. These writers forget that
they must somehow inject some life
into their texts, the facts alone do
not a history make, that organization prods the reader onward, that
hundreds of meaningless and undi-
gested quotations do not give a
sense of authenticity, that a chunk
of any-old-quotation-at-all does not
necessarily make a good title, that
their job is to answer questions, not
ask them, rhetorical or otherwise.
As interesting and relevant as the
subject matter might be, prohibition,
for example, the presentation too often drives a good reader to drink.
Gordon Elliot
Gordon Elliott is a member of the
Vancouver Historical Society. He is
the author and editor of many books
of British Columbia local history.
Hammerstome, the Biography of an
Olivia Fletcher;Hornby Island, Apple
Press, 1989.     148 p. illus. $17.95.
When a friend gave me this book,
she remarked that it was history
with a difference. As, indeed, it is.
Olivia Fletcher recounts the environmental history of Hornby Island in
anything but a dogmatic, pedantic
style. In fact, she conveys it with a
feeling of wonderment which catches
and illuminates the imagination of
the reader. The hammerstone,
which is used as the theme of the
book,is a weathered chunk of ancient
lava that millions of years after its
formation had been used by the
Pentlatch Indians, members of the
Coast Salish culture group, who
spent about nine months of the year
hunting and gathering on Hornby
Island. This artifact of to-day is a
multi-purpose tool of the past.
Part 1 is the story of the geological
upheavals from some 350 million
years ago, which created Hornby,
and will, no doubt, continue in future
time. I like her apt description of
what the eagle must see to-day
while soaring above the St. John
Point Peninsula of Hornby, as resembling "a green moonsnail with
foot extended".    My handbook of
B.C Historical News intertidal univalves states, "the
moonsnail is noted not only for its
large round shell, but also for its extremely large fleshy foot". This foot
can be both extended and contracted, reminding us of the fall and rise
of the tides which govern island life.
The writer gives an easily understood explanation of the theory of
tectonic plates. Hornby was born as
part of Wrangellia's birthplace 350
million years age. (This data is
known through findings in Buttle
Lake Limestone). From the South
Pacific the Island was carried north
on the Pacific Ocean Plate in a continuing voyage on top of other
plates with the consequent squeezing and earthquake activity, to the
sequence of glacial advances and retreats of two million to nine thousand years ago.
In Part II, Fletcher reconstructs the
cyclical life of the native Pentlatch
people prior to the coming of the
Europeans. Hunters and gatherers,
they were a sub-culture of our Coast
Salish, spending the winter on
Vancouver Island, the rest of the
year reaping the bounty of Hornby.
From the memories of elderly Salish
women, from the writings of anthropologists, and from the evidences of
archaeological digs, it is concluded
that these people were not warlike,
and that arrowheads found on the
island were used for hunting, rather
than for fighting, by an egalitarian
society. It is suggested that fear of
disease, death and conflict followed
discovery by the Spaniards and the
incursions of the fiercer Indians of
the north. The Pentlatch culture
died out in the 19th century in the
resultant change in lifestyle introduced by European settlers.
Fletcher calls upon the residents of
to-day to be aware of this history of
continuing change in their environment, and to think of themselves as
its guardians in the face of new
Rarely does one pick up a local
history which is so well documented,
and in form so well served. Jane
Wolsak's graphite drawings are an
artistic accompaniment to the text.
Print is large and clear, and the
book itself lies flat when the reader
turns to the gazetteer of place
names mentioned, or to the glossaries of terms used. Explanations are
satisfyingly full, and maps are mercifully simple and uncluttered. The
bibliography attests to research in
the latest studies. I am sure that
Fletcher was not surprised to learn
of the recent finds of dinosaur bones
in the Comox area.
Now that I have read this intriguing book, I cannot imagine visiting Hornby Island without it by my
side to assist the exploring of evidence of its prehistory which apparently abounds to-day.
Ruth Barnett
Ruth Barnett, who lives in Campbell
River, is a former President of the
B.C. Historical Association,
The Accidental Airline:
Howard White and Jim Spilsbury.
Madeira   Park,   B.C.,   Harbour
Publishing 1988.    246 p., illustrated.   $24.95.
This is the highly entertaining
tale of Queen Charlotte Airlines, operated on the B.C. coast by Jim
Spilsbury from 1946 to 1955. Full
of adventuresome anecdotes and individualistic characters, it contains
some of that romantic aura which is
particular to the Coast.
Spilsbury was born in 1905 in
Whonnock, the son of an upper-class
English family that had fallen upon
hard times. Growing up on Savary
Island, he developed a knack for tinkering with radios. While still a
teenager, he began a marine radio
repair business. Radio technology
was in its infancy, and Spilsbury
was creative in developing new applications, such as a wireless signalling system for logging operations.
By the early 1940's, he was servicing the entire B.C. coast from his
\fetncouver office.
In 1943 Spilsbury bought a 3-
passenger Waco seaplane to service
the business, and began chartering
it for additional income. The purchase of a 20-passenger Stranraer
flying boat in. 1946 resulted in a
twice-weekly regular service between
Vancouver and Prince Rupert and
the birth of Queen Charlotte Airlines
- an "accidental" airline in that it
was initially only a sideline. Bit by
bit, his "Queer Collection of Aircraft"
was built up, through the vicissitudes of seat-of-the-pants flying,
and seat-of-the-pants business management.
With the number of unpredictable
factors Spilsbury had to deal with, it
was a wonder the airline survived as
long as it did. His pilots were mostly swashbuckling mavericks famous
for their heroism and for their alcoholism. Their life-saving mercy
flights made for good publicity, but
their recklessness also resulted in
fatal crashes. Government bureaucrats imposed ridiculous regulations
and were susceptible to bribes, according to Spilsbury's (possibly)
jaundiced view.
In making the transition from a
small operation to a large-scale business organization, Spilsbury trusted
the wrong people, tolerated incompetence too long, and got double-
crossed by some of his senior managers. One of QCA's biggest problems, he admits, was inability to
think like a big airline.
In the early 1950's the Kitimat
megaproject was the most lucrative
source of revenue for coastal airlines.
Vicious competition for this trade
with Russ Baker's Central B.C.
Airways was a major factor in the
demise of QCA. In 1955 it was sold
to Baker and became part of Pacific
Western Airlines.
The Accidental Airline is an important contribution to B.C. coastal history and aviation history, and an interesting case study in business
management. Spilsbury's crusty
character, and the exciting times he
lived in, enhanced by Howard
White's professional writing ability,
make for delightful reading.
Jim Bowman
Jim Bowman is Archivist for the
Chilliwack Museum and Historical
RC Historical News
Honorary Patron:
Honorary President:
His Honour, the Honourable David C. Lam, CM, LL.D., Lieutenant-Governor
of British Columbia
Mrs. Clare McAllister
1 st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Recording Secretary
Past President
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Road, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9
Myrtle Haslam, P.O. Box 10, Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1N0
Dorothy Crosby, 33662 Northcote Crescent, Mission, B.C. V2V 5V2
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387-2486 (business), 382-0288 (residence)
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Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Chairmen of Committees
Publications Assistance Helen Akrigg, 8-2575 Tolmie Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4M1
Loans are available for publications, Please contact
Helen Akrigg prior to submitting manuscript.
(not involved with
B.C. Historical News)
Historic Trails
and Markers
B.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
Subscription Secretary
Book Review Editor
Heritage Cemeteries
Lieutenant- Governor's
Award Committee
John D. Spittle
Ann W. Johnston, R.R. 1, Mayne Island, B.C. VON 2J0
Nancy Peter, 5928 Baffin Place, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3S8     437-6115
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver V6S 1E4
228-4879 (business) 733-6484 (residence)
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V8V1E5     342-2895
Pamela Mar, P.O. Box 933, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
758-2828 The British Columbia Historical News
EO. Box 35326 Stn. E.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6M 4G5
Second Class Mail
Registration No. 4447
Mar.89     23-1
Daphne Stevens
2442 Amherst
Sidney, B.C.
V8L 2G9
Station House and Water Tower ami RG£. Tracks
near Enterprise Station, showing cattle pen on the
Mrs. C3are McAllister of Victoria-RCJLEHonorarj
President 1989-90.
Police Patrol- Provincial Police Commissioner from Prince Rupert on the left,
Larry Requae local constable on the right. Carle Jones cooking. Taken at
American Creek north of Stewart-19S8. (See story page 8.)


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