I was born in Kimberley on August 1st, 1933.
Father – Charles Harry Hewat
Mother – Laura Elizabeth Hewat – (nee La Belle)
I am writing on account of my life history – not because of it being a spectacular life but of being sorry that I didn’t ask my Dad or Mother about their lives – and in hope that someone will find this interesting fifty or so years from now.
I was born August 1, 1933 in Kimberley BC. I am not sure how long we lived there. My Dad worked for the CM&S. I believe that we moved to the Nicola mine near Merritt for a short time. I was probably 1-3 years old at the time.
From Merritt we moved to Wells where my Dad was employed at the Island Mountain Mine which was a gold mine. I don’t remember a lot of this time. We lived in a log house on the property and it was very cold in the winter. I remember riding on a sleigh pulled by a horse driven by a friend of the family named Bud Ditto and learning how to swear from him and subsequently trying that language out around the house, which didn’t go over too well!
I had a green ski suit made of wool I think. I would go down to meet my Dad after work at night and walk home with him. I remember peeing in my suit and at 40 below, it didn’t take long to freeze. Dad would ask me why I walked so funny and I told him that I always walked that way because the suit was a little stiff to walk in!
Another problem I had was I was always a hungry boy. My friend Georgie Olsen and myself would head up to the mine cookhouse and stand with our noses pressed against the window until the baker would give us a cookie. Another problem I had was that the Caribou Gold Quartz mine was across the valley and we would go over to their dump where the remains of the miner’s lunches were thrown out. We would sort through them until we found cake or cookies, filling up on this fare, but at the same time, we kept a good eye on the bears that were doing the same.
A little trouble developed at the supper table when I was having trouble eating. My mother would ask if I had been over at the quartz dump, which I denied. The conversation would continue until my Dad remarked that the sandwiches were really salty at the quartz and not having enough sense to be quiet, I would insist that they were really good!
I remember the car my Dad had was a 38 Ford, which was put away in a shed in October and gotten out in the spring, which was always a big day for we could go for a ride again.
My two brothers, Ronald and Kenny, were born in Wells. My sister, Barbara, was born in Vancouver.
I started school in Wells and my first teacher was Flora Boyde and a good friend of my mothers. A couple years before we left Wells, the company built us a new house up the hill which is still in use today. I remember it had a varnished set of stairs to the upstairs and when my parents left me in charge, I would get the shiny comforter off my mother’s bed and put my brother Ron on it and send him down the stairs, where he would land in the living room in a hurry!
I had a few preconceived ideas. One was that you could not look at an Eaton’s catalog where they show pictures of horses and harnesses, while in your pyjamas because it was not the manly thing to do!
Another was that you could not talk about mining unless you were dressed in ‘work clothes’, such as sinking shafts, driving a raise, ore drifting. Mining books were the bible and I would study them by the hour.
Skiing was also on me and my friend’s minds too. We would build jumps and I thought I could ski pretty well.
I remember having my tonsils out at the hospital and my mother losing her diamond ring on the hospital grounds. Something I really remember was having worms and having to get an enema – what a relief! – but I put up a good fight, or the worms did.
One other thing that I remember quite well was all the men looking for work and asking my Dad for a job. Sometimes he would tell them to come on Monday but there was always 6 – 10 left without a job. My Dad was very well liked in the mining industry, and when we moved to Zeballos, several miners came with us over there too.
My mother on occasion would take the car and head out to Vancouver which was quite a feat in those days because the road from Quesnel down to the Caribou was just a wagon road, let alone the road conditions from Wells. One of the things I remember was when she ran over a chicken when going by a farm she gave the woman a dollar. My Dad claimed that the woman would have the whole flock on the road the next time my Mother drove by!
When we left Wells early in the morning, we would get to the Ashcroft Manor by dark where we got a room and I had to sleep in the bathtub because of a lack of room. The next day, we travelled the Fraser Canyon and arrived in Vancouver in the evening of the second night. Unless the car broke down; as I remember it the battery was under the floor and the battery would get hit by a rock and eventually run out of power. I recall helping to push the car and having to stay at a farm on another trip. My Uncle Telford LaBelle was with us that time.
I guess that when you live in a remote place such as Wells, eggs were hard to come by in the winter so my Dad put a few dozen in a barrel in the basement in water-glass that preserved them. But needless to say, we kids had some pretty good egg fights down there in the winter.
The war started in Europe late in the fall of 1939 as I remember and I think that we left Wells then as well. My Mother stayed in Vancouver with Kenny and Ron. I was able to go to Zeballos with my Dad. I was really happy that I got to be with him. I think I stayed there a couple of months before my Mother arrived. I was sure a big shot by that time.
I was able to eat with the men in the cookhouse and slept with my Dad over the kitchen until my Mother arrived on the Princess McQuinn – a CPR boat which ran from Vancouver every 21 days. There was also a Ginger Coates Airline but I would imagine it was not too reliable, especially in the winter.
Our first house was above the mine and was made up of two tents with walls and with a plywood roof, a sawdust burner and oil stove for heat. I was supposed to pack sawdust for mom but needless to say, I was a little hit and miss with this, plus the sawdust was wet. The poor woman had a very hard time getting meals etc. but we had an inside toilet and electric lights.
Ronnie and I had bunk beds made of camp beds bolted together. My Mother bought us some Books of Knowledge and some story books called Chums.
We had a little tin stove that we would get red hot at times on occasion and we would pee on it which was just great for smell. I don’t know how my Mother was able to put up with us!
My Dad was the Mine Superintendant at this time. Shortly after, he was made Mine Manager. The Manager when we arrived was Mac MacConnell. He was the son-in-law of Dave Tait, who owned the mine but he was soon moved to Vancouver on Marine Drive and we were able to move down below the mine about ½ mile to his house. It was a pan-abode and had a fireplace, but not enough bedrooms so we had a bedroom made for Ron and I in the attic, which was quite nice. My Mother could not get up the ladder in the corner to the attic, so we were responsible for cleaning and bed-making if you can imagine; with lots of directions from mother downstairs! To get to the house, it had a cable suspension bridge across the river. The only other house there was for the mine engineer; the bridge was just 3 ft. wide with sides. All the groceries had to be packed across. The oil and heavy stuff, like Mother’s piano, was brought across the river in a big box on the blade of a D8 Tractor in low water.
I did a lot of reading and built model planes, listened to the radio to programs like Fibber McGee. When my parents were out, Ronnie and I would fight over what we were going to listen to.
When the airplanes were fogged in, it seemed that there was a party at Harry’s house. I would get mad because with my Mother on the piano, it was a little noisy! I wish I could remember the songs she sang. She played by ear and could play anything you asked her to. I had a woman approach me 45 years later and remarked that Laura Hewat could sure throw a good party!
I went to school at first in an old store on the flats with about 20 kids or so with grades 1-12. Our teacher was Mrs. Phyllis Moon and she sure tried to beat something into our heads. A year or so later, we went to a better school at the Man-O-War apartments. It was a lot better but I don’t think we were any more inclined to learn.
Fishing was the primary recreation of Ron and me. We took my Mother’s King Oscar sardines and used them for bait. During the war, it was almost impossible to get anything like that so it didn’t go over so big when she found out!
The mine had to close in 1943 because gold mines were not a sustainable industry, so we moved to Vancouver and lived at 3851 Dunbar. I am not sure but I think we were there for 1 ½ years.
I went to school at the Sacred Heart next to the convent – we were taught by nuns and they were tough cookies. However, I had a new Herald paper route that was early in the mornings, so in the summer I would clip off a few roses on my route and give them to the nuns. They thought my Mother had the best garden in the city!!
We covered the city on our bikes, excluding the waterfront. My Uncle was station manager for Trans Canada Airlines so I would ride out to the airport to watch the airplanes. My Mother never knew where I was. My Dad was away prospecting in the province. My Mother didn’t have it very easy even in the city.
On our tour of the airport, on the other side of the field to the tower, were several wrecked planes, which we would climb over and get pieces of aluminum for whatever reason. The guard of the airport would head over to catch us but we could see him coming and make a run for it. The only time we did get caught, we were stealing corn from the convent of the sacred Heart and earned a free ride home in a Vancouver City Police car.
After the end of the war, we returned to Zeballos and the mine, which had started up again. One of the things that I remember of that was that the shaft was 2600 ft. deep and was full of water that had to be pumped out. They still needed horses to pull the ore cars to the mill and the horse barns were full of rats. My Dad had an assayer named Walter (Red) Moffat, he and I were friends. He was about 6 years older than I. We made a deal with my dad for 5 cents a rat tail! We both had a 22 and ammunition was 25 cents for 100 short rounds. Some weekends we made $2.00 between us. Red and I did considerable hiking around the valley and visited all of the mines that were shut down. The Privateer was the only one to open after the war. Before the war, there were several mines in production as I remember. There was the Spud Valley, Mount Zeballos, Homeward, Man-O-War, Prident, Silver Star, Reno. As these mines were just abandoned, there were lots of tools and equipment just left lying around. I remember taking a tap and die set from one of them and trading it off for a Bulova watch to a fellow in the power house. I still have the watch to this day.
Not only did we fish the river for trout, but we would go to the wharf at the beach and catch perch with tiny black crabs we caught from under the rocks.
This time we went to school in Zeballos and were transported by a bus. We didn’t like the kids in town so there was always a fight erupting. The bus would pick us up after school with any other passengers that happened to be going to the mine or going up the road a couple of miles more to see the ladies of the night. They had an establishment halfway between the mine and town. Can you imagine a school bus today to take on or let off people going to this place? Also there were the bootleggers too. I guess this was part of our education.
The road to the mine was always rough and when we went back after the war, my Dad bought a fairly new 46 Plymouth for my Mother to drive. He drove a surplus Army jeep. The mine also had a Fargo 2 ton in which we would go to the ball games at the beach against our hated enemies. Going down was fine but coming back was a lot noisier after an hour or so in the Pioneer Hotel bar. The songs were really good and I can still remember bits and pieces of them today, and also some my Mother sang at one of her famous parties. The piano sure would vibrate the house. My Mother didn’t need any music, just the general idea of how the song went and she was off.
When the airplanes couldn’t fly because of the weather, it was a good excuse for a party. A story that was told to me by my school bus driver was that when Lorne Giles was the driver of the taxi and taking the pilots to the Pioneer Hotel, he was asked what was doing in town that night. All that was on was a Legion meeting so with nothing else to do they were invited to attend and Lorne in the morning was to pick them up. It was suggested to him in no uncertain terms that if they were in town when they had another meeting, Lorne was to phone them so they could arrange a flight to the east coast!
Tony McLean was a jack of all trades, mechanic, truck driver etc. if he was using the truck I was always there on the passenger side. There was a truck at the mine that belonged to the government that was used to haul gravel etc to repair the road. I think it was a 1938 Ford 2 ton, in very rough condition. On one particular occasion I had gone with Tony to pull a triangular shaped plow that acted as a grader. It helped a bit and one day Tony decides I should drive the truck which was no big deal, but it seemed it was to me after a few false starts. I managed to get it moving in low gear and low range, the slower the better. The morning had gone pretty quickly and we were on the return trip to the mine and I was at the controls. Coming around a corner was my Dad going the other way which scared the hell out of him! Needless to say that was the end of my driving career for quite awhile. I think I was about 12 or 13 at the time.
After the mine shut down for the last time in 1947, my Dad went to Campbell River to start up the iron mine for the Privateer group. I would go down and try to learn to drive my Mother’s car a short distance along the road. I remember getting it stuck in the snow one time and having to really work to get it back in the garage.
About this time, my Mother decided that I should go to school In Vancouver, to Vancouver College, a Catholic school. I slept in a big dormitory with about 50 others which stunk of natural gas! The brothers in charge took my money and I could not go out unless someone came to sign me out. My classes started and I was taking typing and Latin and I lasted there 4 days. I ran away and went out to the Vancouver airport and told them my Dad would pay them so they took me back to Zeballos. My Mother was not pleased! I know it was wrong but when you take a kid from the bush and put him in Vancouver by himself, I don’t think that would ever work.
Later in the fall, my family moved to Kaslo to live with my Grandad. I went to school there for a year or so. I don’t remember much about it except I acted up pretty good in school. Any time I could sneak out, I would go down to Kaslo Motor Transport and ride around in the trucks. One day, I had done that and was riding around up to the Cork Province Mine with Dave Gloholm and we were hit by the train coming down from New Denver. It destroyed the truck and hurt David but I only got a cut on my ear and a broken nose. David was in hospital for a few weeks. When he got out we were riding around going to Ainsworth Hot springs when the drag link fell off of his 29 De Sota. We went over the bank at Mirror Lake – out of that I received a fairly good sized cut on the side of my head and had to have some stitches.
Meanwhile, I was just swamping on the trucks. One time the Forest Service seized some lumber at Lambert’s Mill in the bay and Kaslo Motor Transport was paid to move it to the Forestry yard. I was given the job of hand piling the lumber onto the truck, driving through town and piling it in their yard, perhaps about 5-7 thousand feet. I no sooner got it there, then Lambert paid the stumpage and I had to haul it all back. It was at this time, I turned 16, so I went in to get a License at the Government Agent’s office. A chap called Bill Dunn was in charge, he had taken over after my Grandad Hewat retired. I went in with my hat in my hand because I sure wanted to get my License. I asked him if I could get it and he asked me if I could drive – no test or anything in those days – 1949. Before I could answer, the large voice of Policeman Tic Payne boomed out that I had been driving by the Courthouse for a couple of weeks and he gave me a License. Ten minutes later, I was back on the street with the License that cost $5. I think he may have regretted it in later years.
Being the youngest driver, I was delegated to haul coal from the CPR station and deliver it around town. Others that worked there were Bill Kiew, Doug Single, Frank Carney, Joe Shutty, and Larry McCartie was my helper on the coal truck. We also hauled driftwood from the beach for the old timer’s firewood. This was a terrible job as they would invariably start the pile with some large chunks. Then they built the load around it and by the time you got most of the load on the highest pieces, the heaviest were on the bottom and had to be lifted onto the top of the load. My helper and friend Larry would proceed to give the person shit about this and then Ayden would give us shit when we got back to the garage. The coal was a lump situation where you would back in to unload a ton of coal and just touch one of the old timer’s coal bins built out of scrap lumber 50 years before and it would fall down. Trouble again.
Canadian Mining and Smelting would give all their retired employees a turkey at Christmas and probably at that time, there were 25 or 30 retirees in town. This was also a job that I did with my friend Larry helping me. His job was to take them to the door always managing to give some smart remark or dropping the bird in the snow before handing it over. Again Fred Ayden was on our case back at the shop.
When we hauled coal the truck was weighed in the morning and the weight subtracted from the load as we weighed every trip. Larry had a habit of teasing MacClaren’s dog or insulting old Mac, the weigh-master, telling him he looked just like his dog. Larry would sometimes sit in the truck when it was weighed. Mac would notice this and give him hell because he was not in the truck when I weighed in the morning. When this happened Larry would climb out to the cab and onto the coal on the back. Old Mac would then proceed to weigh it with him on the back. As the day wore on, Mac got further into his mickey and things went downhill from there.
Larry lived above the Kootenaian Newspaper office and Alan Stanley ran that paper. Larry and Al would argue about the editorials his Dad wrote in the Nakusp paper, which were sent down to put in the Kootenaian. The printing press was run by a Pelton wheel run on a city water system. As the arguments progressed, Larry would get Mac and go up to Larry’s apartment and flush the toilet a couple of times which would drop the pressure at the wheel and everything would grind to a halt. Al invariably had ink somewhere on himself, so everyone called him Inkey.
When we hauled coal, we would not clean up around the coal car when we split for home but when we came in the mornings, it would be all cleaned up by the old people that couldn’t afford a load. Larry said that was his contribution to all the old timers, whom he didn’t like anyway.
((Before I got driving for Kaslo Motors, I would go down to the garage (not go to school) and get a ride to the Cork Province with David Gloholm hauling oil and gas in a tank. We got to South Fork that day and at the crossing got hit by the train that ran once a week. It hit right on my door. David hurt his back and I had a broken nose and a large cut on my bum. ))
I was still going to school when we moved to Duncan. My Dad was going to run a mine behind Duncan on Mt. Sicur. Dad lived up at the mine and I went to school in Duncan. Our house was in an old apartment that was fixed up for us and my Mother was isolated again. I worked around the mine doing odd jobs, like filling pot holes on the road with a small truck, loading and unloading by hand. I could go all day by myself and never see anyone which suited me fine and I really enjoyed doing it.
Another job was that the mill needed quite a bit of water and we had a pump in the Chemainus River. We pumped water about 3,000 ft up the mountain to the mill. When we started the pump the first time, the water never went 10 ft before it all leaked out because the wood- stave-pipe had shrunk. By making tighteners of small wires on the pipe, we gradually got the water to the mill; as the pipe swelled up the water crept gradually to the mine in a couple of weeks.
The mill Manager had a 1950 Dodge Cornet car which I thought was just great when I got to ride to Duncan in it.
School in Duncan did not go well and at the end of the year I didn’t go back. The Principal said he would give me Grade 10 so that would get me into the trade school in Nanaimo which was just starting up. I didn’t get along very well with the kids in class and didn’t join in at school. There was one girl there that took my side, an older girl who had lost her hand in a meat grinder at the butcher shop. She had to work even after she got better and also went to school to try to get to College. I felt sorry for her because she never seemed to have any money, her name was Opal Kramer. I often wonder what happened to her.
That fall I went to the trade school in Nanaimo. I could come home to Duncan on the weekends. Everything went fine at school and I got pretty good marks. I also was given a snap- on set of tools by Alaska Pine and I still have some of those tools today.
Archie was the Supervisor of the boys like me that boarded there and he would dole out a sheet and pillow case once a week. If he liked you, he would give you a flannel sheet which was a lot warmer. The food was no hell and on occasion the boiled eggs were plentiful. We would use them for ammunition to throw at the other kids after the lights went out at 10:30. If someone we knew was out and didn’t have a pass to 12 midnight, we would try to keep Archie talking so whoever was out could sneak in.
A good topic was about the police in Victoria and their horses that Archie looked after. He was good on that subject for sometimes an hour without realizing the time. He would often sneak out in the hall and try to find the troublemakers when the lights were out. But someone would see him in the dark and ask in a very loud voice what he was doing, so everyone would know he was around. I had to clean the boiler or wash windows a few times. One thing about him, he stuck up for his boys whether we were right or wrong.
We were always short of gas for the cars – I didn’t have one – but it seemed that the school buses parked below the school got very poor mileage. All in all, you learned to keep your room and yourself clean and I did learn a trade.
Jack McCredy was the Chief Instructor and in the spring he went to Vancouver to see how many apprentices he could place at places like McMillan Bloedel, Finning Tractor and some construction companies. He was able to get 32 apprentices a job with Morrison Knutsen, an American Co. that had a contract to build the Power House and Transmission lines for the Aluminum Co. of Canada. We also had other choices of Logging Companies or the Iron mine at Campbell River. I don’t remember why but I decided to go Kemano Bay for Morrison Knutsen.
Among the people that went there was Norm Ingram who I knew at school and we became good friends, even today I talk to him once a month or so. I believe we went up the coast on a Union Steamship, the Gardenia. I think it was in May of 1951. There were no roads into Kemano – it was either boat or airplane and it was pretty hard to leave the island at Duncan and Vancouver and go to a remote construction camp such as Kemano Bay. It was very lonely at first, even though the camp (5) had more than 3,000 people working there. The company had a system worked that from the first 2 pay cheques, they deducted your fare up -$60. If you stayed 60 days, they gave you the money back. Plus any time after the 60 days, they would pay your fare back to Vancouver.
After the first 60 days of the 32 guys that went there was only Norm, me and 3 others left. The others had quit. Norm and I stayed till Christmas of 51 and then we went home. We had saved a fair amount of money for those times. I bought a 1950 De Soto car which was really nice.
I think one of my biggest let downs was when I went home to Kaslo – as the family had moved there that summer – was – all the fellows had moved away, got married or were in a different group then had been there when I worked with them. I remember standing on the corner by the coffee shop and it was snowing and cold and dark, nobody to talk to that I knew and thinking that I didn’t belong there anymore. I could hardly wait to get back to Kemano again. I think I went back on the 10th of January 1952 and Norm and I worked right through to the next Christmas till spring of 53. When I left my De Soto in Vancouver, I would leave it in an old service station. The time we worked 18 months straight, I came back to get it and it had 4 flat tires and was covered in dirt. It took me 2 days to get it running again. It was hard to leave your most prized possession and the bright lights to go to work. I think the old station was on Nelson St. off Burrard which cost me $20 per month.
When I first went to Kemano I was really disappointed with the work I was given, piling steel and doing cleanup up jobs. I was talking about this one day at lunch in the dining room when the guy across the table asked me where I was from. I told him Kaslo and my name. It turned out he was Corny MacPherson who had led a notorious life and had left his wife and kids there. I remembered his Dad. There he was foreman on graveyard in the shop, so he said I could come and work with him. Casey and I had a good relationship for many years. He treated me really well despite my screw-ups and mistakes.
Norm Ingram and I were partners and as we didn’t smoke we would try to get a room together. In the winter we stayed in an 8 man tent. Sometimes there would be 8 and sometimes just Norm and myself. They heated the tent with 2 oil stoves and personnel were always trying to move us to the quonset huts but never together. They tried to put me in with some DP (displaced persons) but I told them to go to hell, we weren’t moving. At this time, there was a revolution in the Ukraine and a lot of these people worked in the tunnels. They had no manners and spoke in their language and at the cookhouse they would eat everything in sight. They would reach right across your plate to grab something. Till one day, they did that to Norm and he stabbed the fellow’s hand with his fork. They sure gave us a wide berth after that. They wouldn’t sit at our table but the ones that did were very polite.
The work was pretty varied; we had 120 jeeps, 30 pickups, cement trucks plus some low-bed tractors. I think at one time, we had over 400 rubber tired trucks and a 52 TD 24 Crawlers. Norm and I left there when the aluminum company took over. They wanted to cut our wages $1.00 an hour. At the time we were making $5 per hour. I think Norm went home and got married and went to work for a construction company. I went home and then went to Kitimat to work for a short time for Pride’s Machine Works. I didn’t stay there very long. On the subject of Kitimat, when I went there first, we stayed on a sternwheeler from the Mississippi that was made into living quarters. The boat was refloated and now is a hotel in Sacramento. It was called the Delta Queen.
Also when I went to Kaslo, Don McKilligan told me about a job in Nakusp at a garage owned by Nate Woldum. I went up and leased the shop on my own for a year or so. I met Pat Beingessner and Alf Dunn and it was pretty good. I rented a room from Mrs. Bartholamew who had a chicken ranch and Alf gave me his Irish setter because he thought Irene was allergic to it. I worked with Nate until the spring.
When I was in Kitimat, we were there to repair trucks for the building contractors that were to be taken over by the Aluminum Co. We did lots of work on them, but that is to say, we just fixed them so they looked right, not repaired them properly. I left there and went back to Kaslo and drove truck for Kaslo Motors for a short spell.
After a few months at Kaslo and Nakusp, I got a call from Casey, who said that he was working for Campbell and Bennet on the road to Sea to Sky. So I went down to work with him again at Portou Cove, 20 miles from Horseshoe Bay.
We had a pretty good job there and could go on a taxi boat to Vancouver on the weekends. In Kaslo, I had met Janice Gilker who had moved there to go to school. She lived at her Aunt Kitty’s. I was not accepted too well at her Aunt’s because I didn’t wear a suit at this time in my life. After Casey quit Campbell and Bennet, I left as well and went to work at Britannia Beach. I found at the mine, the wages were not good and neither was the food. I think this was about 1955-56 in the winter. I quit there and went for a logging co. on the coast off Campbell River, the name I cannot remember. My friend from Kemano was killed there running a shovel. His name I can’t remember, just first name Pat. One thing I did when I was pulling out; there was a young boy about 10 – 11 years of age staying with his Dad and he didn’t seem to have many clothes so when I left I gave him a wool pioneer jacket that was warm. He was really happy.
After leaving there, I went to Butte Lake for Dawson’s and Wade and Macco on a dam job in the spring of 1956 but quit there after about 6 months.
I went back to Kaslo and drove a little bit but it was not like the years before. I phoned Casey up and he had a job for General Cons. at East Pine near Dawson Creek, so I went there with my Irish setter, Kelly. We were working on the grade from Sundance Lake to Dawson Creek.
Munday McCrae was the boss. One day, when I was working, McCrae comes into the shop and tells me that he just fired Spike, Wilf Storrie and Babe McPherson. He said that the dog had to go too. I found out after, that they were drinking in the bunkhouse and as things proceeded, the dog was shivering so they put him in the cat driver’s bed and covered him up. There he slept. Munday comes in and sees them drinking and got really mad. As he was going out, he sees the dog in his bed so he fires them all. So after he was through giving me shit, and told me the dog had to go, I told him that the dog would pick up his time in the morning. By this time, he’s so mad he can’t talk. Over the weekend, he thinks things through and decides that he would just give the boys a talking to. Halfway through this talk, he decides that Casey and I should hear this also and sends Babe out to get the rest of the crew. All Babe did was go out and get the setter Kelly. Everybody was laughing and Munday was mad again. This time he can’t talk at all. Finally he got out that they were all to get the hell out and get back to work.
We had a really good cook there and lots of food. One night Babe said to me, there was something wrong with the dog he would not eat a steak he had put in his dish, a big hubcap that I had found on the highway. I said he ate the one I gave him, Casey gave him one and Wilf gave him two, no wonder he wouldn’t eat more!
In the winter, it was 30-40 below and rather than go to the washrooms, we would pee out the door! There were 4 of us living in this little shack with about 3 steps down from it. One morning before breakfast Casey comes back in and informs us we couldn’t pee down the stairs any more, he was all covered in snow. He had slipped on the frozen pee and ended up in the snowbank!
When spring came, the septic system had frozen and we found the septic tank didn’t perk very well because of the ground and the frost, so we decided we should loosen up the ground. We decided that a ½ stick of powder would do it but Bob and I got talking that we would only get one shot at it, so we put 3 sticks in when the others weren’t around. We let her go and it loosened it up alright but we had shit raining off of everything, even the windows in the cookhouse. We had to wash down everything and we were not very popular with the cook.
Not much to do at East Pine, I could go to Dawson Creek to the movies sometimes on the weekends. I would also take the dog hunting grouse and did get a few which the cook prepared which were pretty good. In the winter I would take the dog skating, he didn’t do too well on the ice. Christmas was coming and I was looking forward to going home and seeing Janice. I bought her a ring so I was anxious to see how that would go over. Just lucky the engineer showed up from Vancouver and I was paid to take him to Prince George a few days early and so I went to Vancouver and convinced Janice to marry me.
We were married in July of 1958. It was the best deal of my life. We were going to buy a trailer and move to Spuzzum where General had a bridge job at Alexandra but as it worked out, they gave me a job in the main shop on Granville Island. So we had a basement apartment on Nigel Ave. below Little Mountain, off of Cambie St. The job was good but I was bored with nothing to do on the weekends. I overhauled the motor on our De Soto and I bought a little Prefect car to go to work in. Every time Janice rode in it she got sick and being pregnant with Laureen didn’t help. I was not much help either. I was having trouble adjusting to living in Vancouver after all the other bush places. My Mother gave my dog away to Bill Benwell in Lardeau , at least he got to go to the bush. I couldn’t keep him in Vancouver anyway.
There are a lot of stories of our early married life. When Laureen was born, Janice told me to get a diaper pail, but I got thinking that spring was coming and she could do some canning so I bought a canner/diaper pail combination! I was told this wouldn’t do.
Janice is a very strong person, when she was pregnant with Laureen, I didn’t know how to react and didn’t realize that she was going through a pregnancy without her mother and friends to keep her spirits up. She even took a taxi to the Grace Hospital to have her because I was working. Today a guy would take 2 weeks off and expect to get paid. I do regret that she had to go through that by herself. Soon after the baby was born I was sent to Kitimat to work on an asphalt plant for General and Laureen got sick so she had to take the bus with the baby to the doctor – which wasn’t good. I then came home from Kitimat.
General had the contract to put footings in for the Port Mann Bridge so I spent a lot of time working on the cats we did the clearing with. It was very swampy and the cats were stuck half of the time.
We hadn’t been married very long when my Grandad died and we went to Kaslo to the funeral. As usual we went after work so as not to miss any time. Laureen was very small in her basket. In our whole life together, Janice was very good about getting things together and I was able to leave work and get in the car and go. We didn’t have much money but she managed very well. Always to this day, I don’t go to the bank or cash my cheque, as she looks after everything.
When I was in Kaslo I went over to Nakusp and Alf Dunn had taken over the garage from Nate Woldum, so when we got back to Vancouver I thought we could make a living in Nakusp. So we moved there and leased the shop again. We sure didn’t have very much money. When I think of it today, I wonder how we made it with buying tools and parts and renting a cabin, it sure took a lot of work on both our parts. Some weeks were 8 days long. One Christmas I remember that we didn’t have enough money to buy presents up till about the 24th of December. Receivables, since we had been in business, were our biggest trouble.
Thinking back on Janice’s efforts to keep things on an even keel was remarkable. I don’t think there was anyone else that would have suffered through all the ups and downs of our marriage and our business. I was very lucky that she didn’t quit in the first couple of years. When we went to Nakusp, we had bought a fridge and bed and a couch. Also in Vancouver we bought a TV which in the first few years, there was no TV signal in Nakusp. Pat Beingessner would come up and try to see something on it every little while and he would catch a glimpse of something
and let out a yell. It wasn’t till 1961 that they put a repeater on Saddle Mountain that we received Kelowna in a Spokane station.
Looking back, Pat was a great help to us. When I first started at the Shell Garage, there was just enough room for one car but after we were through cleaning up, we had room for 6-7 cars. The shop was the biggest problem of the business because it was owned by Harry Murphy and he didn’t want to fix the roof which leaked in the winter and formed ice on the floor. In the early years, we got a lot of snow and it was cold. So it never got warm in the shop. I suffer from arthritis and that was the start of it. Harry had a small office over the shop and he and his friends would gather there to socialize and have a drink. Dave Duncan and other friends would be there. Mrs. Murphy would come in unannounced and clean house once in a while.
We finally got a few dollars ahead and were able to start a house towards the Kuskanax River. We started building in 1961 and with the help of Walter and Harry Maxwell and Pat and a few others we were able to move in that summer. The only room that had a door and walls was the bathroom. Art Dupris and Adrian framed it and put the roof on, Les Baird put in the windows. Ralph Stevens helped us move. We are still working on the house today but someday it will be finished. Janice again held things together and made sure that everyone we owed got some money even if we had none for ourselves. Maxwells (Arrow Lake Supply) carried an account with us for several years. We would pay a little bit every month. It was quite a relief to move in and the kids could have their own rooms. The first winter, the roof sagged because we used 2x4s for rafters at 36 meters but I didn’t know any better so had to crawl up in the attic and reinforce them all. We finally repaired it properly in 1998.
In 1961, our son, Darren was born in the Arrow Lakes Hospital. That is when I decided to build a house as the apartment we were in was too small. We got a lot from the government for $300 because it was a corner lot. The others were $250. I had overhauled a cat for Howell Jordon of Carney Pole and he said I charged him too much and so he only paid me half. That year Albert Ehl was driving his cat for him so Albert cleared the lot for me and they sent me a bill for about a year. I never did pay him, I was really counting on that money but I came out alright.
Janice used to walk out on the Canyon road with the 2 kids in the buggy and to the new house to paint or clean up. The road was all gravel then the bugs were bad also so were all bitten. Good thing we were young. When we did move into the house, it was 2×4 and insulation so the kids had a great time circling the knot holes and writing on the insulation. We were constantly repairing the tears.
Back at the garage I worked with Alf Dunn who ran the front end with my friend Myrna Steenhoff. She was like a tomboy but you sure didn’t want to get her mad because she was tough. Myrna could grease cars and change tires, look after the books and everyone liked her. Her Dad had a small dairy farm in Brouse near where I had once boarded. Mrs. Bartholemew had a Great Dane dog and Myrna would tease him when she delivered the milk, she was teasing him one day and he jumped through the picture window and chased her home.
I finally got too cold after about 10 years of working in the shop where there was no heat and I ended not being able to walk. A lot of thoughts go through your mind when this happens – of how you have a wife and 2 little kids to feed. Freddie Maxfield was the doctor and I think that he gave me some prednisone, I am not sure because after a week or so of really hurting, he gave me something and the next day, I was a lot better. In later years, I was crippled up once and Dr. McNeill gave me some too and I was 100% better in 5 hours, another test for Janice.
After this bout I decided to build a garage on Canyon road just a small shop where I could stay warm. It was very hard getting a loan to build a shop and I think I had about $3,000. I also kept working at the garage and then worked on the new shop at night. I think this was in 1967. A few years before this, I bought a 1949 International pickup from Sigalet’s in Vernon, I paid $200 and the only reason I got it was because the studs had broken on it and the wheel fell off when they were taking it back to Vancouver. For the first number of years it had no heater because in their day, the forestry did not use these pickups in the winters. I finally bought an old tank truck from Shell and traded it in 1964 for a new International with a heater. The total price for the truck was about $2,500 and the dealer in Revelstoke gave me $800 for the Ford and I managed to borrow the balance from the Commerce.
Getting a hoist and tools for the new shop was quite a challenge but I started working in the new shop by fall. I remember one of my first sales was for a set of shocks and my profit was $10. I could see right away that I could make better money doing this; at the Shell I only got the labour, no profit on the parts. So began the start of building up my own business. Things went along fairly well with Janice doing the books and I would do parts and labour.
In 1969, Fred Boyer talked me into taking an International Dealership which I did. The biggest mistake being that I tried to do it by myself. This was wrong because I was too busy to claim Warranty services and I lost money on work that I did, and didn’t get paid for. However, if I had hired someone it would have been better but we managed to stumble through that period. Just when we started our business, Myrna came to work for me which was a great help. She no sooner got started when she got cancer and this was sure a sad death as she was so young 37 years old. A person I will never forget even though she told me to go to hell every other day for something I had done.
I think some of the hardest times were when I started. For about 20 years I worked 6 or 7 days a week and didn’t take much time off, even today. I get mad and resent people thinking that Janice and I have a lot of money. It sure wasn’t given to us. Soon after we got International Harvester Company, I started a parts department. I built a parts room on the side of the shop and Mike Meek came to work for us. He stayed working for us for 2 or 3 years and then he moved back to Vernon. I didn’t notice at the time, but Darren was taking note of everything that went on in the shop and he followed Mike around up and down the aisles watching how the parts system worked or at least how it worked the way we ran it. At this time in the late 60s, and early 70s, they were clearing for the High Arrow reservoir and dam at Castlegar. I was very busy.
At first Janice did the books and accounts, we had a small office in the corner of the shop. In the winter she would get a blast of cold air every time we opened the shop doors. It was pretty hard for her, trying to raise 2 kids and keep house plus the books. When we built the parts room, we put an office in the back and insulated it so it was warm for her, then Janice got a job at the School Board because she got tired of typing with gloves on and I hired several bookkeepers over the years.
Finning Tractor at that time had a resident mechanic and wanted a small shop, so I built on to the other end of the garage and rented to them for a few years. It paid for the building at least.
One of the mechanics at that time was Janice’s brother, Gary. I don’t have enough pages in this book to write about him. He is a good friend and he helped me around the buildings. When I was down at the Shell, he would come into the shop and then have to leave because it was too cold. At that time, he worked for Celgar. Later after he got married, he worked for Finning Tractor. Gary was present at some parties at my house and was always lecturing me on the disadvantage of drinking grain alcohol with fruit alcohol and this was why I got so sick. He was probably right but there was also the quantity involved!! After one of these parties, the front room would be covered in fine dust from the plywood on the floor from dancing to North to Alaska – my favourite.
In these years, everyone was building a house so there would be a cement pour every weekend. We sure mixed a lot of batches in those years. The shop was going pretty good and I sold quite a few trucks. Ed Homis bought a DF 480 a highway logging truck and that got him started in logging. Jack Allard also bought one at this time. I look back today and regret that I didn’t hire more people and take time to step back to see what was really going on.
When we were married I had a 54 De Soto so when one came up in Vancouver, Janice and I went down and drove it back. I worked on it for a couple or 4 years and was taking it over to Penticton to get it painted on a trailer that I built. Darren and I rolled it over, wrecking the De Soto and a new Scout plus myself. I was sent to Nelson where they found I had to go to the General in Vancouver, where they operated on my prostate that started my bladder problems.
At this time, Mike had left and I hired another parts person, Bob Reich. He had worked for me for a couple of years when I had to go back to the University Hospital in Vancouver. I had to spend a month in hospital while they were fixing my bladder. Darren meanwhile was around the shop all the time and was in Grade 12. Darren has been there ever since. I think he could have worked anywhere but he chose to stay on and now he runs the whole garage and does a terrific job of running things!
In 1978, I bought a new Cessna 172 airplane which I learned to fly with Darren. We would fly to Vernon to take lessons on how to fly, much to the chagrin of the institution. I did a fair amount of flying for trucks and parts in those days. One of many episodes and close calls was one day I took off in a hurry for parts and forgot to untie a bucket of cement from the tail. Being inexperienced in those early years, I didn’t notice till I broke ground that something was wrong and then I had to make a circle and land again. It was the shortest landing I ever made. I learned flying from that. I used the airplane quite a bit and we flew to Bakersfield in California a few times. It was always an adventure. Laureen lives there still. I liked flying a lot but as time went on I could recognize my weak points as being forgetful on some occasions. However, I kept flying and I had about 2000 hours in my log book. When in 1994 March 17th, I was returning from taking Glen McArthur over to pick up a truck when I got caught in a snow storm and lost control. I crashed in Plant Creek. I managed to survive overnight and Search and Rescue found
me the next day. I cut my head and froze my toes. They had to long-line me out of there because of the snow and trees.
I was taken to Vernon to the hospital and put in the children’s ward as it was crowded in the main ward. A nurse who was looking after me was asking what I was thinking so I told her I thought I had help. I explained that an Aunt and Uncle and their 2 kids were killed in a plane crash in 1956 on Mt. Slesse near Hope and that I thought Red Rowan had helped me during the night to survive. She went white in the face and told me that she played with those kids in Calgary. It seems very odd that some kind of a coincidence would happen like that. I am not a believer in the supernatural but I sure believed it then.
In writing down these memories, I think of all the people that have passed through our lives in the years we have been in business in Nakusp. Some had been friends over the years and others we were involved with briefly. During the High Arrow, there were people coming and going all the time. A lot of them I have forgotten, some I will never forget such as Gordon Davies – a Finning mechanic who was a good friend and was killed accidently in Cranbrook when a truck rolled over onto him.
In the 70s I sold quite a few trucks and Scouts for International and had a fairly good stock of heavy truck parts. It seemed any spare money we had went back into the business or buildings for the business. In 1990, International seemed fit to cancel our dealership plus about 500 others in Canada. I was very upset for awhile. They just sent us a 2 lined registered letter. We were stuck with quite a few parts that we could not return and some we still have today.
However, we managed to survive with what truck population we had. I could see that we had to make some changes. I had a mechanic who worked for me for about 21 years, and I suggested that he go to school and upgrade his skills and also to try to improve our image as far as keeping the customer’s trucks cleaner etc. We could see that the heavy truck business was getting more unprofitable every year. Accounts Receivable we worked hard to control but the truckers were not making any money so our receivables elevated. And it was hard to keep our bills paid. In this time, I hired several mechanics; some were really good but didn’t stay too
long. We paid good money but that wasn’t to be. I noticed that the automotive side was doing better than the heavy truck side. A fellow called Stacy Smith came to work for us; he wanted to fish and live in a small town. I think he worked for us for 5 years and was an excellent mechanic
but his wife was a problem. Stacy was always moving and building fences around a new house to keep the kids in. Finally they moved to Fort St. John. Stacy was another person that I will not forget.
Time has passed since I wrote in this book. It is now April 2008. Why I have time to add to this collection of memories is that I have just returned from Vancouver with a new hip joint. Right now I am somewhat limited in my movements. There is a time in your life when you reflect on what you have done with the past 75 years and what you are going to do with the next 25!
Backing up till the last time I have written in this book, the garage has been transferred to Darren as he has spent all his working life there, although I do go in every day and try not to interfere in the operation. Darren has done a really good job of operating the garage and is a much better thinker than I am.
Laureen has been in Bakerfield for about 30 years and has worked in the mortgage field for as long. She is remarkable in the fact that she has always worked on a commission basis. In that time her husband left her when the twins were 2 years old and she raised them by herself. They are now 22 years of age. She is experiencing tough times now because of the below prime rate and the repossessions but I am sure that she will survive and continue her life as she wants to. I tried to get her to come back to BC but with no luck. I worry about her but that is the way it is.
Janice Hewat – nee Gilker
I have written all about my life but left out the most important part – Janice. I find this very hard to write because there are so many things that have happened in our 50 years together. There is no one in the world who means more to me than Janice. I don’t believe that I could have had a better wife. We had obstacles in our way many many times. To start with, my mother was a Catholic and Janice was a Protestant. I don’t remember the circumstances of our wedding but my mother didn’t come to it. My Grandfather Hewat did and my Aunt Eve Cooling did.
Janice was always there to help and encourage when things didn’t look too good. When we were first married we lived in Vancouver in a basement suite and money was not too plentiful but she managed very well. We had some friends that lived in different parts of the city but it was always an hour’s drive to see them. On the weekends, we had nothing to do, so we decided to move to Nakusp and run the Shell garage. Janice took it in her stride and we worked hard. We built the house and the garage and sometimes money was pretty scarce. Somehow she managed; sometimes I wondered if I wouldn’t have been better off working for wages. Without Janice’s help and perseverance, I would not have been able to do this by myself.
March 11, 2011. A couple of years have gone by since I wrote in this book and as time goes by I can see that our time in California will soon come to an end. I am now 78 years old and in pretty good health. I think that our medical insurance is over $2,000 this year and without any unforeseen problems we might be able to go to the US for a couple more years.
This year we will leave in late November and hope to be home at the end of March. I found that this is too long a time. We stayed over Christmas which was sure not the same, even though we don’t have many friends left in Nakusp because many have either moved away or have passed away. It sure was not the same. It was my idea to do this and Janice agreed but I think she knew it might be a mistake. I had only been away for Christmas twice before – when Laureen was born and when Norm and I worked 18 months straight at Kemano Bay. I am sure it won’t happen again – with maybe 2-3 months away at a time.
This year I had not done a lot of work around the park mobile we own in California. Bit I am just getting around to doing some painting and it doesn’t look too bad; just in case we have to sell, because of our health. We try to keep it clean and presentable.
One thing that we did do was buy a house in Bakersfield for Laureen. She had a large house with an equally large mortgage and when the market crashed, she found it hard to make the payments so lost it. She was renting a house but I could see this was a real strain on her. We made the decision to give her part of her inheritance and bought a house for her. It is not a bad house and has a pool etc. I am very happy that we were able to do this for her because in the last 35 years, she has worked on a commission, no wages which is very hard. She works very hard and never gives up; just like her mother.
As time goes on, my thoughts go back over the years to the good times and the bad and the friends we had and have. There has been so many that thinking back you can still see their faces. I sometimes wonder if we will meet them again on the other side.
2011 again – I bought a 1950 De Soto from a fellow in Riverside and hope to haul it home to Nakusp in late March. I also had to buy a trailer to haul it in. I think if I was a little younger I would have driven it home under its own power. The car is in very good shape for the age and hopefully we can get it home without too much trouble. I had a car just like it when Janice and I were getting together.
2014 – A few years have gone by since I have written in this book. We have 3 great grandchildren in Bakersfield and one new one in Nakusp. My life has gotten a lot quieter now. I have found that I have asbestos in my lungs possibly from brake shoe dust that I have been breathing in over the years. I am now 80 and wonder how long I will be alive but I like to think we meet again on the other side. I hope when you read this, it will give you some idea of where I came from.
Christmas 2011 Dec. 20th – This will be the first Christmas we have not spent at home since we were married. I don’t know how it is going to work out. It seems that as you age, your thoughts return to Christmas pasts in Nakusp and Kaslo. I never realized that as you age, and your friends die or move away; maybe we are lucky or maybe not.
Kaslo was a good place to spend Christmas when we were younger because of the friends and family we had there. There was always a drink or two and a story to hear. Now most of my friends have passed away or moved away. My brother Ron is still there and Colleen and their kids and grandkids. If we were home, we would always go to Kaslo for the Boxing Day celebration and go from my Mother and Dad’s to Janice’s Mom and Dad’s with lots to drink and eat. Janice’s Dad always put on a skit of some sort which was more than funny to say the least. Laureen would get along with Gramma Laura for awhile and then you would see her coming to Gramma Ann’s because my Mother and Laureen could not see eye to eye because they were so much alike.
I wrote these memories over the past 25 years and so there are some stories that overlap. I am writing this in September 2016 and the reason I have time is that I fell out of the back of my truck and shook the ball joint loose in my hip. I was to the doctor a couple of days ago and he said that it was healing fine. This was the hip that was replaced so there are some steel parts and some original parts that came loose in the fall. I will soon go back to work and feel a lot better I think.
In the late winter of 2016 in Jan, Feb and March, Janice and I went to the RV Park in Indio where we have visited for the last 15 years. I forgot to mention that we sold our Park Model 2 years before. I was not feeling good and thought before something happened to me I should sell because Janice would be left with the problem of selling and moving everything. The place we rented was just across the street from the one we had owned but it sure was not the same as when we had it anymore. The people that bought it only had it a short time and then he died. I was in it when Joan rented it for a short time and it was just like we left it – a little hard to take – we could have rented it now but too many memories for Janice and me. Places are not selling for any money now so it was probably a good thing that we sold; we did the right thing. Near the end of our stay this year, I came home to the Park Motel and Janice was sitting looking very pale and said that we should head back for Nakusp. This was a wake-up call for me that got my attention – with our friends in the pool at 85* and happy hours or a dance in the near future, it just didn’t feel right.
We went to Laureen’s overnight and made Redding the next day. The following day, Janice was having trouble breathing and we stayed in Redding overnight. The next night when we got up in the morning, Janice said that we should stop at the hospital in Trail which we did. She stayed there with congestive heart failure for 6 days. We were very lucky, the specialist in Kelowna advised us not to go to the US anymore. We had paid $6,000 for insurance for 2 months. The doctor said that we would not have been covered, because they could have twisted it around and said that it was an existing condition so – so much for that. We made a lot of good friends there and still have them as they all were from BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The park was getting quite expensive for pad rent – $6,000 per year American money as our dollar is now 75 cents that is about $9,500 Canadian. We are going to miss going because we have gone for the last 40 years and had some good times.
We have been in business in Nakusp for 60 years and have gone through a lot of changes. I don’t relate to the younger generations who are more interested in their phones than doing any work. There is more time wasted staring at the damn things than working. To run a business, you should outlaw them, this would be ideal!
One of the good people that worked for me was Mike Hudock, a Forest Ranger. We had lots of good times on fires and fishing trips. The Hufty Fire was named after me. We worked the fire for 6 weeks. I would do work in the garage and then go on the fire at night. No matter what went wrong, he always had a smile and an attitude that we will stop the fire at the next ridge. I miss him a lot and think of him often.
One incident that happened was when I took his truck and went up a road to pick up Doug Brown and his crew. This was the only time on a fire that I have been really scared. The fire was making such a noise, I finally found the men and they had to lie down in the box because the fire came fright over the road. Then I had to back down the road to get out – we just got out of there when the fire exploded. I didn’t notice at the time that the heat had turned the green colour of one side of the pick up to a darker green. Mike didn’t notice it at the time until he looked at it a week later but I just kept quiet about it until he had figured it out.
Another time in the Lardeau, he had directed the ladies to cook for the crew in the country hall but they didn’t have a big toaster or mix master so he got what they needed. One of the new generation feeding the crew was going to collect all the supplies up to give them back but Mike told them to just leave it all right there because if they had to come back another year, they would remember who gave it to them and would likely be cooking again for the forest service anyway. He was well liked for this type of public relations.
Just a note that someone should make about the new breed of Forest Service, now called Wildlands Fire Service. A lot of criticism has been directed at them from the private sector because of starting times in the mornings and quitting times at night. I have been with them in present times and what people don’t realize is that we can’t have people running around on the ground without helicopters in the air in case of accidents. (WorkSafe BC)
The young people that are hired are trained in safety above all else and this is the reason for all the safety meetings at the work place. They are trained to dress properly and given the proper clothing and to be at work at the proper times. They are paid a fair wage with overtime which gives them the money to further their education to become student doctors, lawyers or whatever. This to me is tax money well spent. They are taught public relations, beginning with a handshake when introduced. This part of firefighting is a win/win situation and with WorkSafe BC is the best we can do.
This paragraph is about going to the trade school. In the winter of 1951 after Christmas, there was a plane crash on Mr. Benson behind Nanaimo and as usual we were in the dormitory and had had an egg fight with the boys from the other end of the building. But things had settled down about 2 am. All the lights come on and of course we thought we were in big trouble but as it turned out we were to go and pick up bodies out of the bush about half way up the mountain. There was no Search and Rescue in those days and I was about 18 years old. So were the rest of the boys about the same age. At daylight we set out, it was raining really hard and cold. Some of the boys didn’t want to go so I think there were about 20 of us that went. We had to crawl over windfalls and buck brush and Devils’ Club about an hour from the end of the road. It was a Queen Charlotte Airways plane with 21 on board. They were all killed so there was quite a mess because it was all burnt. Some of the boys just threw up and left. We managed to stay just barely and four of us took up stretchers. The bodies were all in bags and tied on to the stretcher and down the hill we went. I made two trips. I cannot imagine the problems with today’s teenagers having to do a job like this. A few days later, the Mayor and Police came and thanked us. I will never forget this part of my life.
I would like to write about a typical trip to the coast in the early 1950s. It will seem strange to younger people of today because today you just jump in a car and go to Vancouver in 5-6 hours.
In the winter of 1954, to go from Kaslo or Nakusp, if it was snowing and cold your best bet would probably be to head for Spokane. In those days the Monashee was probably not plowed or passable and there was no Hope-Princeton or you had to go to Kamloops and Cache Creek and down the Canyon to Hope and then on to Vancouver. It would take with everything going right about 12-14 hours.
So the best way in the winter was the American route. You could probably go over the Cascades but that still left you to go to Kamloops and Cache Creek. On the American side, the roads were generally better maintained.
Typically you would leave Kaslo around 8 in the morning and head for the boarder at Rossland which was about 4 hours depending on the snow. It was about 1949-50 that snow tires were just starting to become available so if you had them on, chains were not necessary. By the time you cleared the border and got to Kettle Falls, this was the first stop for gas and lunch. Then you go down to Downport where you hit the West Highway. From there it was on to Waterville and then to Wenachee over in the states – after dark you had to figure out how you were going to gas up as there were just small gas stations and they generally closed at night. From Wenachee you went to the Blewett Pass which meant more snow through Leavenworth to Startups Wn. and by this time it was getting on to 9 – 10 o’clock at night. But at Start Up you started to run out of snow and probably the best speed would be 45 – 50 miles per hour. Once you get to Marysville and going up the coast Highway #1 the fog would close in. It seemed that it was probably 10 – 12 at night when we finally got to Vancouver and finding a place to stay was always a problem at that time.
I think I have written enough but I would like to add that I think we lived in the best of times from 1945-2016. I can see that it is going to be harder to make a small business run as we did. Darren has had a couple of serious health problems and should quit working in the next 5-8 years. Then Wilf Hewat Repairs Ltd. will not exist. The younger generation was not taught the business of dealing with people. I thought a lot of the times when you do not get paid and you don’t spend so a lot time on your I phone. I shoot off my mouth from time to time which does not go over well. As I have mentioned before I have given the whole business to Darren so he can do what he wants. I have no say and still do the odd job in the other shop but I don’t get paid or have medical coverage. I believe Darren is going to create a trust for his holdings which will be for the best. This is February 2016 with a hard winter, and Janice and I have talked a little about moving to our condo on the waterfront because the house that we built in 1961 is just too big for her and I. This has just dawned on me! We will see how it goes in a few years. We cannot go to the States anymore because of medical coverage. We have options of going to Vancouver Island for a month or so and will try to consider all options. It is important for Janice and I to also think of Laureen and family living in Bakersfield but maybe something will come up that will give us some medical coverage to visit her in the States.