George and Donna.
George was born in 1930 in Prince Albert to Edith and George Dodd Sr. He took his schooling at Wrixon where he obtained his Grade Ten. The last two years were by correspondence courses. Wrixon School did not teach beyond Grade Eight. After Grade Ten, George went to Prince Albert and North Battleford for further education in agriculture. He made many friends there and keeps in contact with one of them today.
George took over the family farm in 1949 and worked part-time for Highways whenever there was a man needed to cut brush, mow ditches or whatever.
Donna was born to Wilma and Ernie Doucet in 1939. She was delivered at home, assisted into the world by Goldie Durston, a neighbour lady, who often helped with deliveries in the Wrixon district. Donna went to school in Prince Albert, Little Pine, Cut Knife, Wrixon, and Big River. She obtained her Grade Eleven and later Grade Twelve through G.E.D.
George and Donna met at a good-bye party for the Anderson family held at Wrixon School. They were married in 1956 and live on the Dodd Homestead. In 1964, George began working for the Department of Highways full time.
George and Donna have three daughters:
1. Gail born in 1957 and lives in Kinistino and works in Melfort.
2. Valerie was born in 1964 and is a dental assistant. She is married to Randy Jezowski and lives in Lashburn, Saskatchewan. In 1997 they became the proud parents of triplets, Jayden, Tara, and Kaitlyn. Val and Randy own "Global Tech Line Locators". Val also drives a school bus part-time.
3. Karen was born in 1967 and is married to Vernon Leach. She is the librarian in Big River. Vernon owns and operates a log truck. They have two daughters: Janine born in 1986 and Megan born in 1990.
George and Donna are retired and spend their time fishing, dancing, travelling, and visiting with friends.
Edith and George, 1916.
George Dodd Sr. was born in Brampton England in 1894. He served in the First World War as a bomb instructor.
Edith Thobum was born in Hayden Bridge, England in 1896. They met at a dance where Edith had gone with another fellow but George walked her home. They were married in 1916. After the war, George sold insurance, worked in a coal mine, and then bought a small store in Allendale. They immigrated to Canada in 1927 with their two young daughters, Peggy (ten) and Gena (seven), on the ship Magantic. It took about ten days and was a very rough crossing. They travelled by train to Coleville, Saskatchewan and later to Dodsland, Saskatchewan where George found work on a farm. Their third daughter, Gerty, was born there in 1929.
In 1930, they decided to homestead and travelled by horse and wagon to Wrixon, Saskatchewan, bringing four horses and ten chickens. The trip took eleven days and was quite difficult with a one -year old baby who wouldn't stay put in the wagon or the tent at night. Peggy and Gena would get bored with riding and walked a lot of the time. They filed on the NE 17-54-7-W3'. Their first home was a log house with a dirt floor. Their son George Jr. was born that fall. Edith went to Prince Albert where she worked in a boarding house until her baby was born. George picked up odd jobs. He went harvesting but it was such a wet fall that he came home with nothing but head lice! He got a job as foreman on the bridge-building crew then building and maintaining the first highway to Big River. He eventually worked full time for Highways and his son took over the farm. George retired in 1959 and he and Edith travelled back to England three times. George and Edith had four children;
Gena, George Jr., George Sr., Edith, Arch-Deacon Payton,
Margaret (Peggy), born in 1917, married Earl Rogers and later Arthur Buckle. She had two sons: George and Harold. She lived in Prince Albert and sold real estate. She died in 1986.
Georgina (Gena), born in 1919, married Graydon Kinnaird. They farmed in Shellbrook. They had three children:
Anne (Gaboury), Francis, and Mary (Yaremchuck). Gena and Grayden live in Shellbrook.
Gerty, born in 1929, married Stuart [Murphy] Shuker. They have two children: Julie and Jaymon. They live in Abottsford, British Columbia.
George Jr., born in 1930, married Donna Doucet. They have three girls: Gail, Valerie (Jezowski), and Karen (Leach).
Edith died in Prince Albert in 1980. George died in Prince Albert in 1981.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Mr and Mrs Dolmage settled in the Eldred district in 1933. Jack was a teacher from Regina and his wife a graduate of the Toronto Conservatory of Music in Violin. They farmed for many years and then moved to town, where Mr Dolmage was employed as a bookkeeper at Waite Fisheries. Mrs Dolmage gave violin lessons and contributed a great deal to the local concerts and musical programs. Their daughters grew up in this area. The family moved back to Manitoba in the 1950s.
I was born on August 16, 1947, to Cecile and Ernest Ethier. We lived on a small farm four miles from Big River. I was Louella's younger sister and Simone, Norman, and Evelyn's older sister. I have wonderful memories of my home town of Big River.
Although I live just twenty-five miles away in Debden, I go back as often as I can to visit my family. As I go through Big River and see the beautiful view I never fail to get the "I'm Going Home" feeling.
I married Euclid Dore in 1965. We have four wonderful children. Cecile, 1966 (Greg Marquis) and their two boys, Tyler and Andrew. Vivian, 1968 (Kim Moody) and their three boys, Alexander. Lucas, and Jacob. Donald, 1969
(Carmen) and their daughter Danielle and son Caleb. Daryl, 1975 (Audrey). Euclid and I have made our home in Debden and raised our family here. We also have been lucky to raise our children in small-town Saskatchewan.
Euclid operated a backhoe for many years of our married life, and then he became the Village Maintenance person for about ten years. He is now retired. I still work as a janitor at the Debden School, and in spite of the hard work, I enjoy it.
I remember the freedom of being raised in the Big River Area. How lucky we were to be able to go swimming at the swimming hole, fishing in the river, hiking up the hill, picking crocuses in the spring, and in winter sliding down the big hill. It doesn't seem as big any more, but what fun we had!
Submitted by George and Donna Dodd
Standing: Ernie, Wilma, holding Shirley.
Ernest Doucet was born in 1907 in Fall River, Massachusetts, United States. He came with his parents and brothers and sisters to a homestead in Woodrow, Saskatchewan. In 1914, he took his grade ten in Woodrow School.
Wilma Emery was born in 1909 to George and Bessie Emery. She went to school in Woodrow and then to teachers college in Regina. She taught at Limerick, Reimche, and Lafleche schools for several years.
She married Ernie Doucet in 1934 and travelled by train to Wrixon to the homestead that her parents gave to her and her new husband. Wilma and Ernie's first baby, Shirley, was born in 1936. When Shirley was one year old, Wilma was pressed into teaching at the newly built log school in Wrixon. She taught until 1938 when she resigned because she was expecting her second child and pregnant teachers were not allowed in those days. Her wage was $15.00 a month but the community was seldom able to pay even half of it.
In 1941, Ernie moved his family to Prince Albert and joined the Army. He served in England, France and Holland until the end of the war.
In 1948, Ernie became a farm instructor on Little Pine and Poundmaker reserves. The Natives treated us very well. We had a large two-storey house, a new half-ton truck and several farm animals that came with the job. We felt rich.
Ernie was the last farm instructor on these two reserves. The federal government discontinued this program in 1949. We returned to the homestead-back to a two-room house and poverty.
Ernie added on to the house. Our family had grown to four girls born before the war and a boy and a girl after the war. Two more boys were born later. Ernie cut cordwood and pulpwood to buy the groceries. Two of the older girls would accompany him to the bush on weekends and holidays. We would leave after breakfast, with the horses and return at suppertime with a load of wood. Dad would eat, then haul the load to the Wrixon store to trade for $5.00 to $6.00 worth of groceries.
A battery for the radio was a big expense and was to be used only for the news, weather and "Lux Theater" on Monday night. Of course, if mom and dad were gone on Saturday afternoons the girls turned on the Hit Parade".
Wilma and Ernie had eight children:
1. Shirley (0'Keefe) born in 1936 - had five children - She lives in Parksville, British Columbia
2. Joan (Strachan) born in 1938 - had four children - She lives in White Rock, British Columbia
3. Donna (Dodd) born in 1939 - had three children - She lives in Erinferry (Wrixon)
4. Merelyn (Schuler) born in 1941 - had three children - She lives in Canal Flats, British Columbia
5. Bob (Mary) was born in 1946 - had no children - He lives in Terrace, British Columbia
6. Glenda (Jarrett) born in 1948 - had two sons-She lives in Leaskdale, Ontario
7. Ron (Shirley) born in 1953 - had two children He lives in Saskatoon
8. Doug (Shelia) born in 1955 - had two girls. He lives in Saskatoon
Wilma died in 1957 and is buried in the Big River Cemetery. Ernie died in 1981 and is buried in the Veterans Plot in Saskatoon.
Back Row: Shirley, Merelyn, Donna, Glenda.
Front Row: Doug, Ron, Bob. Missing Joan.
Submitted by Grace Doucette
and Sharon Rody
Albert was born on December 29, 1929, in Bodmin, Saskatchewan, to Gertrude Hache and Fred Doucette. He was born at home with a midwife attending his birth.
Albert grew up and took his schooling at Bodmin. When he was fifteen his family moved to Big River. His first job was working for his dad in the bush, and then he went to work at the Big River Nursery. He worked at Eikel's Logging Camp where he drove cat. In 1949 he started working at the Big River Sawmill where he drove a forklift. Albert met and married Grace Schuler in June 1954. They lived in the town of Big River. In 1970, the family moved to their farm at Delaronde Lake. In 1995, Albert retired from the mill industry.
Albert's love of hunting, fishing, boating, and gardening showed in his appreciation of the outdoor life.
In 2002, Albert passed away but will always be remembered for his love of music, his ability to sing and play the accordion, harmonica, harp, guitar, banjo and organ. He will forever remain in our hearts.
Doucette, Fidele and Anna
Submitted by Bertha Levesque (Doucette)
Father - Fidele Doucette, born December 25, 1878 at Charlo, New Brunswick. Died December 2, 1938, at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is buried in Big River.
Mother - Anna Legouffe, born August 5, 1884, at Balmoral, New Brunswick. She died August 2, 1966, in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Their children:
Joe, born March 26, 1901, at Balmoral, New Brunswick, married Swea Swanson. They have two sons Roland and Percy. Joe died in Nanaimo, British Columbia June 17, 1982. Swea died in Armstrong, British Columbia August 7, 1996.
Gertrude, born November 25, 1903, at Balmoral, New Brunswick, married Fred Trudeau. They have nine children: Roland, Lillian, Helen, Gerard, twins Bob and Rene, Josephine, Rita, and Clifford. Gertrude died in 1995 at Williams Lake, British Columbia. Fred died in 1980 at Kamloops, British Columbia.
Ernest, born February 5, 1907, at Causapscal, Quebec. married Jean (Genevieve) Lavoie from Bodmin. They have eight children: Florence, Russell, Raymond, Harold, Donald, Paul, Lloyd, and Faye. Jean died June 21, 1958, in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Ernie died October 15, 1992, in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Married second wife, Grace Wherrell, stepdaughter, Lisa. Grace died in 1987, in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Beatrice, born January 5, 1909, at Causapscal Quebec. She married Romeo Poirier, They have seven children: Ruby, Norman, Gerard (Jerry), Robert (Bud), May, Leroy, and John. Romeo died in 1969 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Beatrice died September 28, 1980, in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Beatrice's second husband, Orville Mosby died in 1995 in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Alexander, born October 16, 1912, in Big River, died November 25, 1980, in Edmonton, Alberta. He was married to Lena Brown who died in 1967 at Bodmin. Alex served in the army in World War II.
Roland, born October 14, 1914, in Big River, married Ethel Large. They have two daughters June and Carol. Ethel died October 1996 in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. Roland died March 4, 2002, in Cache Creek, British Columbia.
Bertha, born March 30, 1919, at Bodmin, married George Levesque. They have four children: Gerald, Shirley, Louise, and Joyce. George died July 25, 1998, in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Paul, born September 27, 1920, in Bodmin, married Flo Herring she died in 1987. Married Flo Mauws; she died in 2001. Paul died on July 14, 2001, in Port Alberni British Columbia. Paul served in the Navy in World War II.
John, born June 12, 1922, in Bodmin, married Betty Falconer, daughter Tina and adopted daughter, Dawn. His second wife, Barbara Anscombe, died November 1974, in Port Alberni British Columbia. His third wife is Ruth Cross.
Jullian, born August 3, 1923, in Bodmin, married Edna Tews and they have two sons, Leroy and Stanley. Jullian was a paratrooper in World War II and died in a hunting accident November 11, 1946, in Port Alberni British Columbia. Edna died January 1966 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Lillian, born October 14, 1924, in Bodmin, married Harold Magrath. They have three children: Gary, Jacqui, and David. Her second husband is Fletcher Thomas.
Juliet, born December 19, 1926, in Bodmin, married Glen Tilsley. They have two children: John (Jack) and Diane. Juliet died November 9, 1972, in Edmonton, Alberta.
My father, Fidele Doucette (often called Phil) came out from New Brunswick in 1910 to work for a short time as a camp cook in Innisfail, Alberta. He heard that a big mill was being built in Big River, so he decided to go to work there, as the wages would be better. His wife, Anna and four children who had stayed behind in New Brunswick came out to join him in Big River. Around the same time, Anna's parents, John and Emma Legouffe, also came to Big River with their four unmarried children. The children were:
Napoleon who married Tessa Swanson, Philomine married Joe Lamothe, Angelique married Alonzo Chamberland and Regina married Pierre (Pete Trudeau). They all worked in Big River. When the mill burned down, Fidele and his father-in-law bought adjoining homesteads in Bodmin about seven miles from Big River.
Fidele's brother, Fabien (Fred) with his wife Gertrude and daughter Aleda came out to Big River around 1914. They also came from New Brunswick. His homestead was between Bodmin and Big River. Fred farmed and also did some freighting up north in the winter. He and Gertrude had five more children, Edward, Donat, Thelma, Laura, and Albert. They lived in Big River in later years but kept the farm for many years.
Fidele's homestead was 16-55-7-W3'. It was hard work clearing land in those days, as there wasn't the equipment of today to work with. I was the first one born on the homestead. We were very poor during the depression, but then pretty well everybody was in the same boat, so I remember them as happy days.
My dad and Mr Henry Corbeil each donated a one half an acre of land on which a school was built. We were the lucky ones who didn't have to walk too far, as it was often bitterly cold in the winter. My first teacher was Miss Bluebell Stewart. We always had a concert at Christmas and quite often dances were held in the school.
Ted Harvey had a store close to the school, and later on, Romeo Poirier also had a store, even closer to the school. There was the odd time we managed to scrape up a few pennies for candies.
I remember quite a few of the old-timers such as Louis Morin, Harry Gilbert, and the Fraser family and many more who would stop at our place on their way to town. In those days people worked very hard, but always seemed to have time to drop in for a cup of tea, and many times a meal, as the mode of transportation was slow and most people lived far apart. I was always felt fortunate that my grandparents lived close by, especially for my mother who was also lucky to have her sister Philomena who lived about a mile away. She had two boys: Rodolphe and Marcel. Roger was born quite a few years later.
After my dad died in 1938, the younger boys ran the farm the best they could, then about four years later they sold the animals and Alex took over the place, which he later sold to Alfred Hunt. Anna and the two youngest boys moved to Port Alberni around 1943, and Anna had a much easier life then and lived to the age of eighty-two. Her sister Angelique also lived in Port Alberni, so Anna was always lucky to have family around.
I haven't been back to Bodmin for many years, and I probably wouldn't know it now with a very big mill situated there. I have fond memories of Bodmin, so maybe it's better to remember things as they were.
Doucette, Mr and Mrs Fred
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
In 1915, Mr and Mrs Fred Doucette and their daughter Aleadia arrived in Big River. Mr Doucette was in the wood and logging business, and he also farmed between Big River and Bodmin. Mrs Doucette cooked for the freighters at the IC Fish Company. She also acted as mid-wife, working with the doctor, delivering babies.
The Doucette's had nine children, three of whom died when they were babies. Two of their sons still live in Big River, Albert and Dona.
Doucette, Grace (Schuler)
Grace Madge Schuler was born on July 5, 1934, to Fred and Gwendolyn Schuler. Their home was situated where George Hildebrand now lives in Winter Lake. Frank Reimer rode across Winter Lake in a rowboat to bring Mrs. Tom Smith (Granny) to be the midwife for the delivery. Much to everyone's surprise the bundle of joy turned out to be twin girls. Grandma Faber also helped deliver Grace and Irene.
When she was five years old, Grace moved to the Lake Four district which was closer to the school. Thoralf Aarrestad now owns this land.
In 1949, the family moved to Winter Lake (where Roseanne Watier now lives). Grace attended the Winter Lake School for two years. At the age of sixteen Grace went to Prince Albert to care for Mrs Barrone who was very sick. When she was seventeen, she moved back to Big River and was a baby-sitter and housekeeper for Dr Crux, then went on to babysit for the Brownfields. She met and married Albert Doucette in June 1954.
Grace belonged to the Royal Canadian Legion for twenty-nine years. In 1967 she became a member of the Hospital Auxiliary and is still an active member. She is now a member of the Senior Citizens Association.
Her many hobbies are knitting, embroidery, gardening, fishing and hunting. She adores her grandchildren. For many years she was a member of the farmers market where she took baking, knitting, vegetables and berries. She still lives on the farm enjoying the outdoor life. Albert and Grace had seven children.
Larry, the eldest, married Donna Lundgren. They have one child, Adam, and live in MacKenzie, British Columbia. Larry works at the sawmill there.
Elwin has two children, Candice and Gillian. They live in High River, Alberta. Elwin is a nurse at the hospital.
Wendy is married to Craig Townsend. They have two children, Ashley and Michael. They live in Chilliwack British Columbia. Wendy works at the school and cares for children in her home. Craig and Wendy have their own business.
Kenny is married to Ruth Bell. They live in Big River. Kenny has two children, Nicholas and Shelley. Nicholas and Jessica Crain have two children, Regina and Brayden. They live in St. Brieux. Kenny works at the sawmill in Big River.
Lawrence is married to Tracey Bradley and lives in Big River. They have two children, Levi and Quinton. Lawrence works at the Big River mill.
Sharon is with Darryl Meyers and lives in Big River. She has two children, Tyler and Danielle. Sharon is working at the high school as a nutritionist and activities worker. Darryl has two children, Angela and Jason, and one grandchild Tristan.
Ian is married to Trischa Chaykowski and lives in Big River. They have two children, Matthew and Andrew. Ian works at the sawmill.
The Doucette children are known for their hunting and fishing abilities, which they inherited from their parents.
Back Row: Ken, Larry, Lawrence, Ian.
Middle Row: Elwin, Wendy, Sharon.
Front Row: Albert, Grace.
Submitted by Roger, Delor, and Paul Dougherty
Frances Eugene Dougherty and Alberta May Dougherty (Lafreniere), immigrated to Canada from Michigan. They first went to North Battleford around 1917-1919. They later moved to the Big River area in the early 1930s, where they homesteaded in the Bodmin area. They had four boys and two girls. The children all moved on to other towns and cities except one son, Joseph (Joe). He stayed in Big River to marry Alice Gallant. They had four boys:
Roger, born in June of 1937 in Prince Albert
Delor, born in May of 1938 in Canwood
Pat, born in September of 1945 in Prince Albert
Paul, born in December of 1946 in Canwood.
Two of the children (Delor and Paul) were born in Canwood because Alice could not make it to Prince Albert due to quick labour. Although the hospital in Prince Albert was a better facility, necessity forced Alice to use the clinic in Canwood, Saskatchewan.
Joe joined the air force and was a pilot for a time in the early 1940s. When he was medically discharged, he returned to Big River. He then worked at various jobs such as Rizer's Fishery, Young's Garage, and later on at O.P. Godin's for Joe Friedman.
In 1948, the family moved to Ladder Lake, just above Wilfred Godin's Dance Pavilion (nicknamed the bucket of blood). The boys have many fond memories of that hall; picking up the beer bottles and trying to beat out the Goliath boys and Charlie Holmer.
The family then moved back to the Town of Big River in 1952. They lived on the corner across from O.P. Godin's store where Joe worked.
Joe bought the Big River Theatre in 1959 and together with his boys and ran it until 1964, when he sold it to Bill Clarke.
Joe was an active member of the Elks Lodge where, at one time, he and his son Delor were exalted rulers. Alice was also active within the community, where she was a member of the Royal Purple and the Catholic Women's League.
All of Joe and Alice's boys moved from Big River in the 1960s. Alice and Joe moved to Prince Albert where Joe worked for Prince Albert Pulp until he retired. Alice passed away in 1970 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Joe passed away in 1980 in Duncan, British Columbia.
Roger is retired in Edmonton, Alberta. He married Darlene Lahoda in Dorintosh, Saskatchewan in June of 1957. They had four children: Doug, born in December of 1958 in Meadow Lake; Dianne, born in December of 1959 in Big River; Bruce, born in April of 1962 in Meadow Lake; and Brent, born in February of 1964 in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.
Delor is retired in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He married Eleanor Christiansen in Big River, Saskatchewan in August of 1959. They had two children: Monica, born in July of 1964 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and Colleen, born in May of 1970 in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Pat passed away at home in 1999 in Lake Cowichan, British Columbia. He married Valerie Sumner in Ladysmith, British Columbia in 1971. They had no children.
Paul is retired in Duncan, British Columbia. He married Maureen Price in Victoria, British Columbia in 1971. They had two children: Michelle, born in July of 1971 in Duncan, British Columbia and Erin, born in May of 1975 in Duncan, British Columbia.
Dreaver, Harry and Margaret
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Harry and Margaret Dreaver came from Mont Nebo in the early 1900s. Mr Dreaver came to seek employment in the sawmill.
Margaret worked at a stopping place for the Red River carts, and then later took a job at the hospital in the laundry room.
Harry joined the army, and upon returning to Big River he regained his job at the mill.
Mr and Mrs Dreaver raised four children: Sarah (Neilson), Virginia (Greipl), Irene (Schlitz), and William.
Virginia worked around Big River as a housekeeper. She married Leo Griepl in 1932 and one daughter was born: Theresa (Mysko). Virginia later began cooking in camps. Both Mr and Mrs Greipl are still living in Big River.
Dube, Alexina and Napoleon
Submitted by Therese Beauchesne.
Alexina and Napoleon.
In search of a new beginning, my parents arrived in Prince Albert about mid-April 1910. They came from Quebec via "excursion Berube" on the Grand Trunk Pacific made up of eleven coaches carrying over six hundred immigrants. This train was welcomed to Prince Albert with the ringing of the Cathedral bells. They were first lodged in the Immigration Hall until they found a place to stay. My father took on any work he was able to find. He worked on the LaColle Falls Dam project just east of Prince Albert for a while.
On August 1, 1910, my sister Alice was born in the old Victoria Hospital. Before the railway was built, my dad went on to Big River to find work while my mother and Alice stayed back in Prince Albert. Dad took on whatever work was available, carpentry, construction work, building houses, millwork, etc. After the Canadian Northern Railway was extended from Shellbrook to Big River, Mother and Alice joined Dad in Big River. With the building of a town and the mill, things were "booming" and work was plentiful.
Being a farmer at heart, on August 14, 1923, Dad applied for entry for a homestead, NW 8-56-7-W3rd.
After making necessary improvements and a period of residency, the patent of this land was obtained on November 10, 1927. This farm was bordered by Ladder Lake to the east, the Rupert Holmer farm across the road to the north. Going west we passed by James Forbes Junior's acreage on the way to the village. Hendrickson and Stockland were neighbours to the south.
Dad had horses to work the land. He took good care of his horses as he worked the fields, seeding, haying, harvesting and in winter, cutting and hauling cord word. The four horses also became a two-team "freight-swing" as he hauled fish from Dore and other northern lakes for Waite Fisheries. When his most faithful black horse, Rock, became too old to work, Dad "pensioned" him off for a few years. He refused buyers who wanted Rock for a workhorse. Finally, Rock was sold to a mink rancher on condition that he be put down and used for mink feed.
Today, the old homestead is owned by my brother, Roland's oldest son, Raymond Dube of Cranbrook, British Columbia. In October 1963, Mother and Dad moved to Warmer Climes, British Columbia. Mother passed away on July 29, 1969. Dad passed away on May 24, 1982, five days short of his 101 birthday. Both are buried in Grandview Cemetery in Vancouver, British Columbia.
We were a family of four children. We all took over schooling in Big River. Alice sang in the Church choir for many years, clerked at Thomas Thibeault's Red & White Store, then at O.P. Godins. She later married Andrew Larsen, who worked for Harry Boyd at Delaronde Lake. They had three children: Roland; Marguerite, who resides in Marysville, British Columbia; and Garry, who lives in Renfrew, Ontario. Alice is presently living in Prince Albert.
Leone was born on April 13, 1917, in Big River. She married George Oldham. In 1946, they moved to Vancouver. They had four children: Leone Junior, who lives in California; Richard and Dennis live in Vancouver, and Laurence lives in Coquitlam where Leone is now living.
My brother Roland was born in Big River on June 5, 1918. After schooling, he did some trapping and fishing for commercial fishermen. Later, Roland joined the army and served in the defence of Hong Kong in World War II. He was a prisoner of war from December 25, 1941, to August 6, 1945. In February 1947, he married Eileen Sunnah, who was employed at the Victoria Hospital. They had four children: Gail, their first, was born in Prince Albert but died at the tender age of one year. Raymond was born in Big River and lives in Cranbrook, British Columbia. He is a barber there. Faye was born in Big River and lives in Vancouver. She is married to Ken Grantham. Bill, their youngest, was also born in Big River. He lives in Summerland, British Columbia. Bill also is a barber.
Roland, Hong Kong Veteran passed away on November 13, 1999. He requested that his ashes be buried with Gail, who was buried in the South Hill Cemetery in Prince Albert on March 1949. On Sunday, August 6, 2000, 55 years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Roland's ashes were placed with Gail at a Graveside service.
I, Therese, was born on June 20, 1923, in a log house built by my Dad on 8-56-7-W3rd. After high school, I worked in the Post Office of Postmaster James S. Forbes. I clerked at the little Co-op Store for awhile. Mr Joseph Otte made the fire there and always had the place nice and warm for me. In 1943, I attended Normal School in Saskatoon. On August 3, 1948, I married Robert Beauchesne from Albertville, Saskatchewan. After 29 years, I retired from teaching. We are still on the farm here in Albertville. Our land is presently rented to a younger farmer and neighbour. We hope to "hang around" here as long as good health permits.
Dunbar, Mr and Mrs Herbert
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Mr and Mrs Herbert Dunbar and their four boys, Bert, Gordon, Victor, and Leslie, went to the Delaronde district in 1922.
Herbert took a homestead on Delaronde. The farm produce was used for their food supply. The income was made from fishing and freighting. Mr and Mrs Dunbar also ran a stopping place for the people who lived across the lake who were travelling to town.
All four boys enlisted in the Second World War. When they came back, Bert went to British Columbia and Gordon to Alberta. Victor bought a homestead just south of his father's homestead, and when Mr Dunbar died, Leslie inherited the original farm.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Victor Dunbar was married in 1939 to Mary Klassen. Their children's names are Stan, Rory, Rodney, Janet, and Sherry.
Victor fished, farmed, trapped and did some lumbering. He ran a tugboat on Delaronde for booming logs.
Victor was a very good carpenter and was hired by the school unit to do some work for them. In 1951, Victor sold his land to Albert Carter and moved to Saskatoon to do carpentry work.
Submitted by Leonard Young
Shorty was born in Scotland in 1888. He came to Canada as a youth, living in Regina. He lived there when they had the cyclone in 1906. In 1914 he enlisted and went through WWI returning to Regina until 1931. He and the Jack Brunette family moved to the Big River area, homesteading in Ladder Valley. Shorty Dundas homesteaded on NE 32-55-6 W3rd, which is now the Garry Gear home site and Jack Brunette homesteaded on the NW 33-55-6 W3rd. Joe Dundas passed away in the Saskatoon veteran's home in 1977.
Dunn, Betty Lou (Panter/Steed)
I, Betty Lou am the seventh child of Tony and Neta Panter. I was born on the family homestead at Rapid Bend in 1937. I received my schooling in Rapid Bend, Canwood and Big River. After a few years of moving between Saskatchewan and the west coast, I moved to Vancouver where I met and married Bill Steed. We have three children: Kelly, Karen and William.
In 1974, my children and I moved back to Big River. There I married Wayne Dunn. I remained in Big River until 1997, once again moving back to the west coast to be near my children and grandchildren. I now reside in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Kelly Clairmont and sons Jordan and Vaughn live in Comax. Karen (Joe) Weircinski and daughters Kelly and Mikyla live in Coquitlam and William (Robyn) Steed and children Johanna, Owen and Hayden live in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Brendan, William's eldest son, lives with his mother Tina Steed in Victoria, British Columbia.
Bob and Deanna (Pruden), now divorced, live in Big River. Together they raised a daughter, Janell, and five sons: Tracy, Cole, David, Clifton, and Clint. Janell (Dennis) has two sons, Tyler and Weston from a previous marriage. She lives and works in Prince Albert. Tracy (Lynda) is the owner of a semi. Cole (Connie) has children Kaleb and Avery from a previous marriage. He is a carpenter. Clint (Michelle) and their four sons, Ashton, Preston, Jacob, and Brodie live in Big River. Clint is a heavy-duty mechanic. David (Daina) is in the armed forces and is stationed in Petawawa, Ontario. He is currently serving in Afghanistan. Clifton (Bobbi) and their three daughters, Lindsi, Sydney, and Justice live in Lumsden, Saskatchewan. Clifton is an RCMP.
She was born to Margaret (Otte) Pruden and Bert Pruden, on February 10, 1940. She resided in Big River all her life; she worked various jobs until she started work at the Big River Hospital. She took early retirement in 2000 and was hired as casual help at the Big River Health Center where she still works. She married Bob Dunn in 1957 and divorced in 1992. She has six children:
Janell (Dennis) Johnson, Janell teaches grade school in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Tracy (Lynda Zagiel) Dunn, Tracey lives in Big River. He is self-employed in trucking, operating his truck.
Cole Dunn, Cole lives in Big River and is self-employed in carpentry.
David (Daina Ashton) Dunn, David lives in Petawawa, Ontario. He is in the Canadian Forces.
Clifton (Bobbi Ann Johnson) Dunn, Clifton is in the RCMP and is presently posted in Lumsden, Saskatchewan.
Clint (Michelle Meyers) Dunn, Clint lives in Big River. He works for Darren Osinchuk as a welder and mechanic.
Back Row: Pearl, Ross, Les, Bob, John, Blanche, Dorothy.
Front Row: Grace, Ruby, Eileen, May, Lily. 1978.
The late George and Eileen (Magrath) Dunn arrived in Big River in 1925 and raised seven daughters and four sons on their homestead near Delaronde Lake. The Dunns are direct descendants, via George's mother Sarah Alma Dunn (Leach), of two passengers (Myles Standish and John Alden) on the ship Mayflower that brought pilgrims from Southampton, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.
George and Eileen's four sons (John, Bob, Les, and Ross) and daughter May live in the Big River area. Daughters (Lily Wilson, Blanche Johnson, Pearl Hellemd, Dorothy Wilson, Ruby Vrana, and Grace Coulter) now live in Western Canada. Their children and grandchildren live across Canada and the United States. Lily's late husband Ed and Dorothy's husband Russ are brothers of Big River's Max Wilson. Ruby's first husband, the late Charlie Scrimshaw, was a long-time Big River resident. Their son Glen Scrimshaw is the very well known artist whose studio is at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. Their daughter Sharon Hodgson, her husband Ken, and children Cory and Kevin live in Big River.
In November 2003, the descendants of George and Eileen, including spouses, now number over 200. They gather for family reunions every five years, most often in Big River.
Back Row: Roxanne, Wayne, Wendy.
Front Row: John, Alan, Barb.
John (Sonny) Dunn was born in Big River on April 9, 1928, and moved to the homestead near Delaronde (Stony) Lake (where he still lives) in 1932. He is the eldest surviving son of George and Eileen Dunn and has three brothers (Bob, Les and Ross) and seven sisters (Lily, Pearl, Blanche, May, Dorothy, Ruby and Grace). Living on the farm, which was six miles from Big River, he grew up in the heart of the Dirty Thirties and all that that entailed. When he was old enough to start school there was no school at Delaronde so he moved into town (Big River) to stay with his Grandmother and go to school for two years until Stony Lake School was built in 1937.
When John was thirteen he left school to help on the farm. His father was often away for extended periods trying to earn some cash income to support the family. In 1941 his father left for two years to work at the Douglas Lake Cattle Company in Kamloops. At thirteen years old, John ran the farm using horses to put up hay and put a crop in and together with his mother Eileen, looking after all of the details of managing a homestead and family. It was made more difficult by the fact that they had no tractor or other vehicles, only horses.
In the spring of 1945, after working on the farm and at other local jobs, he went fishing for Johnny Thompson, who lived close by the family homestead. They started fishing on Dore Lake in the spring and then in the fall of 1945 they flew back up to Dore to put leads and floats on their nets. Then they left Big River in mid-November with a team of horses, taking about three days to get to Dore Lake. They fished on Dore Lake until Christmas and then prepared to leave for Cree Lake. On January 1, 1946, they left Dore with a cat swing, heading for the fishing on Cree Lake. Working with the other twenty-five men on the cat train they spent a month in the bush, cutting trail and making slow but steady progress, finally reaching Cree Lake on the first of February.
When they came out on the East Bay of Cree Lake they looked out and the ice was crawling with caribou! There were thousands of them covering the ice!
They quickly began setting nets and fishing. Working in temperatures that often reached 50 below and colder, and with no equipment other than a hand sleigh to pull their nets and gear around, they fished every day until they shut down for the spring on March 23. Despite all their efforts, they caught very few fish. The trip home was quite luxurious compared to the journey in, they flew out in a Norseman and were home on the same day.
The next season (1946/47), John was back to Cree Lake, this time flying into Cree Lake in October with Charlie Scrimshaw, who would soon marry his sister, Ruby. After arriving they quickly built a small camp that would be their home for the winter and began getting ready for freeze-up and fishing. Building the cabin was more difficult than they expected. They had to carry logs up to a quarter-mile because there were few suitable trees available. To make the floor they had to hew logs with an axe, taking care to fit them as closely as possible. The cabin was chinked with moss and the roof was made of poles, chinked with moss, covered with
tarpaper and then more moss and some dirt to hold it all down.
Throughout the winter fishing was bad. They would pull nets and jigger by hand sleigh all over the lake, sometimes going six to eight miles from camp. To set the nets they had to chisel holes, jig the line and pull the nets in. Then they would walk back to camp and get up the next morning to walk back and check the new sets often to find them with only one or two fish, and sometimes no fish. There were no caribou around the lake that winter. After eating nothing but fish for what seemed like many months, John and Frank Pruden took off hunting and found two caribou which was the first and only meat they had all winter.
Despite the bitter cold and wind, the poor catch and the lack of meat, they fished every day except Christmas until leaving on a cat swing in mid-February. The cat swing took them to Buffalo Narrows where they caught a truck heading back to Big River.
That was John's last winter fishing Cree Lake. For the next few winters, he drove a cat hauling pulpwood from inside the Park (Prince Albert National Park), north and east of Delaronde and other logging areas north of Big River. During the summers he helped on the family farm and also fished on Dore Lake for Johnny Thompson in 1945, '46 and '47. Around this time, the mid to late 40s, he bought his first quarter of land, which was located just west of the homestead quarter.
John started working for the L.I.D. (Local Improvement District) driving cat building roads in the fall of 1947. In 1948 he worked for the L.I.D. again, building bridges, including one near Bodmin and another near the Whitefish reserve. When they finished building the bridge at Bodmin they moved up to Meadow Lake, pulling the equipment and bunkhouses with a tractor. After working for the L.I.D. in Meadow Lake for about a month he went to work for Midwest Construction, driving a cat to clear and break farmland.
Fishing, hauling logs, construction and helping on the family farm became the pattern for the next few years, with much of the money earned going to help his mother and father and the growing family. During the late forties and early fifties he fished on Smoothstone Lake, Filion Lake and Swan Lake, worked at Sled Lake and Smoothstone Lake for Eikel and Lomsness hauling logs and driving cat. He also drove truck hauling logs for Russ Wilson, who had married his sister Dorothy. In 1954 he drove truck hauling logs for the Saskatchewan Timber Board.
On February 17, 1954, John married Dorothy Skilliter, a local girl who had just returned from a stint in the Royal Canadian Air Force where she was stationed in Ontario. They lived in the old Brownfield storehouse up by the hospital and later rented a house from Nels Edson. In the summer of 1954, John and Dorothy went to Waskesiu where he worked with a carpenter crew for the summer. In Waskesiu they worked with Dorothy's brother, Bob Skilliter.
In the summer of 1955, John bought the family farm from his father and then moved out there with Dorothy. They lived in the bunkhouse and built a small house, which he still lives in today (albeit with several additions and upgrades such as power and water and a lot more room).
The winter of 1955/56, locally known as the winter of the deep snow, saw John start fishing on Delaronde Lake in partnership with his brother Bob. There was new importance to John's work as his wife was pregnant with their first child. In late April 1956, Dorothy went to Prince Albert where she stayed with her brother Bob and his wife Dorothy until her son, Wayne, was born on May 5, 1956.
In about 1956, John started working for Max Wilson in the winter months, building ice roads, driving truck and running the Landing, a central place on Cowan Lake where everyone hauled logs to be dumped on the ice to await breakup when they would be boomed down to the Timber Board mill in Big River. While John was in the bush Dorothy kept the family and the farm, supervising a hired man who did the chores and all the work necessary to keep a house and farm running.
After finishing in the bush, John would come home and he and Dorothy would be busy with calving time and getting the farm equipment ready for summer. During the summers John would commercial fish on Stony Lake and run the farm with Dorothy. While John was in the fish camp Dorothy would milk cows, look after the garden and the house and their growing family. It was a busy time, with John and Dorothy working from dawn to dusk and beyond, trying to build a life and a home. In about 1963, or 64, John sold the fishing outfit to his brother Bob so he would be able to expand his farm.
Wendy, their second child, was born on February 18, 1961. Shortly after Wendy was born Dorothy's brother Bob, who was a carpenter at the Park in Waskesiu, came and built the family a new set of plywood cupboards. On December 1, 1963, their third child, Roxanne, was born. Both Wendy and Roxanne were born in the Big River hospital. In the fall of 1965, Dorothy became sick with cancer and died on November 20 of that year, just before Roxanne's second birthday.
In 1967, John and his brother Bob got a contract from the Timber Board, set up Dunn Brothers Contracting, and began logging. The first year they logged at the north end of Delaronde Lake and the second year (1968/69) they set up camp and logged on the West Side of Cowan Lake. On November 9, 1968, John married Barbara Hockey, a young lady from Bjorkdale who was a nurse at the local hospital.
During the next summer, the Big River Sawmill burnt down. John and Bob purchased a small sawmill and set it up at their camp, West of Cowan, where they logged and sawed lumber the next winter. The mill ran two ten-hour shifts each day. There was no green chain, the lumber would pass through the trim saws and fall onto a stand where two lumber pilers would carry the green boards to waiting piles. In the summer of 1969, they moved the sawmill into Big River and set it up on the site of the old mill that had burnt. The mill ran all summer.
In the summer of 1969, John introduced his son Wayne, who had just turned thirteen, to logging. Working with a small crew they cut and peeled cordwood during July, stopping when it was time to put up hay for the farm.
During the summer of 1970, there was a large fire near Green Lake so John and Bob took their logging outfit north and logged burnt timber all winter. Working with charred timber meant that the men and equipment were always black and sooty. It was a dirty winter. The next winter, 1971/72, they logged in from the Seven Mile Stretch (on the highway north from Big River). On July 9, 1973, Barb gave birth to Alan and John's family now numbered four children.
In the summer of 1972, John and Bob decided to scale back their logging operation and sold everything except for one skidder and a cat. The next winter they logged on the Seven Mile Stretch again, but did it from home and ran the equipment themselves. To keep the equipment warm at night so it would start again the next morning (when temperatures were regularly colder than forty below) they dug a garage into a hillside and built insulated walls and a door. The next summer they dissolved their partnership and John 'retired' from logging (for the first time).
In 1975, John and his son Wayne bought a skidder and began logging again. They set up camp off of the Smoothstone Lake Road, near where the present-day highway crosses. The second winter, they logged just south of Sled Lake on the Dore Lake road. Wayne left the logging business to pursue other interests and John continued on his own. In 1984 John's brother Ross brought his trucking business into the fold and they formed J&R Contracting. In about 1986 John sold his entire interest to Ross and retired again from logging. Or at least he sort of retired... He soon started working for Saskatchewan Forest Products and then Weyerhaeuser after they purchased the local mill, supervising various road building and maintenance projects, marking timber, etc.
Gifty, Wayne and Kabore.
In the early 1980s, Big River was struggling to raise money to build a new hockey rink to replace the old one that sat on the site of the present-day Coop Store. John had always been a very active supporter of the community and came up with an innovative way of supporting the rink. He made arrangements with his crew, which included Ron and Guy Gilbert and Lloyd and Gary Halsall, and the truckers hauling the logs into Big River, that they would periodically donate production to the Rink Fund. This meant that the entire revenue for the day would go to the rink. This raised quite a few thousand dollars to help build the rink.
John was always available to help the community. He spent about fifteen years on the L.I.D. Council, this was the rural government before it switched to a Rural Municipality. He also served for several years as the Chairman of the Local Economic Development Committee. In this role, he was actively involved leading efforts to bring new industry and development to Big River. Some of the projects included examining the potential for an Ethanol Plant and a co-generation plant in Big River. John worked with Bruce Anderson, Chairman of the Regional Park Authority, and Hank Randall, to plan and build the Regional Park in Big River, building on Bruce's initiative to get the project started.
John and Barb's family has stayed close. Alan and his spouse Carla and their daughter, Charmayne, live just south of Big River. They both work at the sawmill and farm. Roxanne married Bryan Smith and they live on a farm just east of Delaronde Lake. They have three sons, Brendon, Duncan and Dylan who are all going to school and very active in sports. Bryan works for Weyerhaeuser as a foreman at the mill and Roxy teaches school in Big River. Wendy is married to Ron Hartnett and they have a son, Ryan, and two daughters, Tasha and Karlene. They are all in University in Saskatoon. Ron is a millwright working for Weyerhaeuser and Wendy is the secretary at the Big River Community High School. Wayne, the eldest son, is married to Gifty Serbeh, who was born and raised in Ghana. They have one son, Kabore, who turned two in November 2003 and they live in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island. Wayne and Gifty operate an international consulting practice, assisting companies around the world to address corporate social responsibility.
Today, in January 2004, after 'retiring' several times John is still farming, commercial fishing, trapping and developing Delaronde Estates, a twenty-five-lot development at the south end of Delaronde Lake. He lives on the family farm with his wife Barb and their dog Kiwi.
Les Dunn, son of George and Eileen Dunn, married Gail Gallant, daughter of Alonzo and Gen Gallant.
Les was self-employed for many years, beginning with his trucks used for hauling gravel and logs. He later had his own logging business, cutting and hauling logs. Les was away working, and Gail stayed busy raising their three girls, Kelly, Jamie, and Liane.
After Les sold his logging business in 1986, he and Gail travelled around a little including a two-month trip to Alaska. He then purchased some cattle in 1990 to begin his new career.
In April of 2001, Gail was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and subsequently passed away in February 2002.
Today Les lives just out of town and has a cow/calf herd of 500. Kelly married Dave Percifield and lives in Calgary. They have 5 children, Brittany, Karly, Katelyn, Brandy, and Cole. Jamie also lives in Calgary. Liane lives in Big River and is married to Joe Martel. She has two children, Justin and Felicia Bechtel from a previous marriage.
Ross Dunn, son of George and Eileen Dunn, married Gloria Gallant, daughter of Alonzo and Gen Gallant.
Gloria acquired the nickname of Dode when she was a young child. She is not sure how it started, but the name has stuck with her and everyone knows her by that name.
Ross worked as a truck driver for 25 years; then in the logging business. Most of his work is away from home. During the summers of 1969 and 1970, Dode and the kids stayed in Reindeer Lake with Ross while he was working. The only reason Dode enjoyed these summers was the fact that, because Reindeer Lake is so far north, there were no storms with thunder and lightning.
Ross and Dode have two children, Darla and Chad. Chad is married to Jeannette Wicinski, and they have two children, Stephanie and Nathan. Today, they all reside in Big River.
Durston Family (In Erinferry)
DONALD ROUSE DURSTON was born in Cardiff, Wales on November 12, 1905. He came to Canada with his family when he was ten months old and settled in or around Lindsey, Ontario. Dad was raised in the Toronto, Ontario area and when he was sixteen, his dad said to him: "Son we cannot afford to keep you any longer so you will have to go out into the world". Dad 'rode the rods' across Canada, working along the way and settled in Saskatchewan where he met my mother.
MARGARET GOLDIE DURSTON (BOYD) was born in Antelope, Saskatchewan. She went to school in Antelope. After a few moves in Saskatchewan, her parents finally settled in Limerick. My mom and dad met as they took their horses to water.
JACK MELBOURNE DURSTON was born on December 25, 1932. When he was about four years old he moved to Powell River, British Columbia with our mom and dad. Six months later they moved back to Erinferry, where he started school. When he was in grade three, they moved again to Fort William, Ontario and in 1951, to Oshawa, Ontario. He married Elizabeth Kelemen in May of 1955 and they decided to make their home in British Columbia. Their son, Donald Rickey Durston, was born on March 18, 1956, and their daughter, Lisa Mary Durston, was born on April 18, 1958.
During Jack's single days he played hockey and baseball. He was an outstanding left-handed pitcher and in 1952 he played for the Oshawa Transporters winning a trophy for his pitching. The team won the championship and in May of 2002, the team was inducted into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame. He played hockey for several teams and in 1956 played for the Penticton V's. Unfortunately, he caught a puck in the eye and damaged his sight. He now lives in Langley, British Columbia. He is separated from his wife but enjoys his four grandsons, their parents, and his daughter and her husband.
I, PHYLLIS GOLDIE DELMAR [DURSTON],
was born on January 6, 1934. I went to school in Erinferry to grade two. I moved around the country with Jack, mom, and dad. At the age of ten years, I started dancing lessons, ballet, tap and acrobatics and when I was eleven, I started Adagio, which I loved. I later took up figure skating so I had a busy time. While in Oshawa I worked for General Motors in the Engineering Department. In September 1954, I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia with mom and dad. My first job was at Shell Oil and later at Home Oil. I spent some time performing and travelling with my mum. We travelled to the United States where I had a bit of an entertainment career. It was a good experience. I returned to Vancouver and again to Home oil. I married Harvie Delmar and stayed at Home Oil until our son, Paul, arrived. He married Angelina and they have one daughter and another on the way.
Back Row: Don, Goldie. Front Row: Phyl, Jack.
Don and Goldie Durston's years in Erinferry.
I am writing this from some information that my mother, Goldie Durston, had written in her life story.
My dad, Donald Rouse Durston, was born in Cardiff, Wales on November 12, 1905. He came to Canada to the Toronto area when he was ten months old. He left home when he was sixteen when his dad told him he couldn't afford to keep him and he had to make his way in life. Dad 'rode the rods', working when he could and finally was working in Saskatchewan when he and my mom met.
My mom, Margaret Goldie Boyd, was born in Antelope, Saskatchewan on October 3, 1909. Her family moved a few times in Saskatchewan.
My dad and mom met in Limerick, Saskatchewan. The first time dad saw my mom, she was stacking wheat from the header and was taking four horses to water at the same place as dad. Dad (known as Sleepy) was a cowboy and bronco rider. They were married on November 12, 1931. Times were getting tough in the south with dust storms and no rain so mom's family drove north to North Battleford and found a quarter of CPR land and purchased it.
Bob Hooker, one of dad's cowboy friends, went to Erinferry, north of Prince Albert. He found there were homesteads so he filed on one and talked dad into going there. They took Bob's cattle and horses and also mom and dad's one cow and a saddle horse in a freight car. Dad was able to get a homestead.
The land that my mom and dad owned in Erinferry, Saskatchewan was NW 12-54-8-W3".
Dad and mom lived in a house belonging to a friend who had gone south for the winter and wanted them to take care of the cattle and horses. Dad worked in the swamps to cut hay with a scythe. The cattle were eating poison parsnip. Dad saved several cows for the neighbours but he didn't find their only cow in time and she died.
My brother Jack was born in a house by the tracks. It belonged to a foreman on the crew who looked after the railroad tracks. His wife was a nurse. I remember mom used to call her "Nurse Watt". She had been at mom and dad's house when they thought Jack was to be born but it seems it was a false alarm. The nurse couldn't stay any longer so she took mom to her place. It was almost a month before Jack was born on Christmas Day, 1932. Jack was a big baby but thin.
In the spring of 1933 dad cut logs to build their house and helped neighbours with their log houses. Mom and dad had only a saddle pony so dad did a lot of hard work for neighbours so they would do a little work with their horses for him. In August of that first year, mom and dad had their house up. It was built of white poplar logs. Cracks were plastered with sawdust and lime. Small logs were on the roof covered with moss, tar paper and earth. It wasn't fancy but it was warm and it was theirs. As soon as it was finished they had a housewarming dance. Everyone came and had a good time!
The people on the island were quite a versatile group. Mr and Mrs Dolmage had two little girls. He was a schoolteacher and could play the violin and piano. She was a famous violinist and also played the piano. Frank and Vi Hicks: she had never been out of the city. He was a stationmaster for the railroad and played bong real well. Charlie and Mrs Rusk: he played the violin. Don and Bob were cowboys. Mr McMaster was a lawyer. I guess the rest of them were farmers.
They had a lot of house parties with good music. Sometimes they took all of the musical instruments and people in sleighs to a nearby town where there was a hall and had a dance at the supper intermission. Dad and some of the fellows would sing. Archie would step dance.
Phyllis (that's me) was born in January of 1934 and I had platinum curls and blue eyes. The colour has changed a bit.
The land was very hard to clear because of a lot of huge stumps. During the summer of 1934 dad broke another fifty-five acres. There were lots of wild blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, saskatoons and dewberries. They canned and made jam filling everything. Most of the canning was done without sugar.
Dad would hunt deer and moose and mom would can it along with vegetables from the garden. They had a dirt floor and walls in a basement and kept vegetables all winter. I remember that we had a dirt floor in the kitchen and mom used to sweep it just as she would if it had been a wooden floor.
There was a mineral lake not far from the homestead where they all went for picnics. The boys would go a short way to Deep Lake, catch Jackfish, clean them and the women would fry them in butter outside.
About the time Jack and I were three and four, dad got work in a mill in Powell River, British Columbia. His friends Bob and Jim Hooker worked there as well. The men were told that their work would be steady and they should send for their families. Mum, Jack and I took the train to the coast but after about six months the men were laid off so it was back to the farm. It was quite a disappointment. Both mom and dad worked hard [as did everyone else on the island]-dad, trying to clear the land and farm; and mom, looking after the two of us, gardening, picking berries and canning. It was not an easy life for them but I think a happy time. I remember picking berries off the road between our place and the store.
Blueberries on the prairies were low bushes, right at ground level. Mom would give us a tiny jar and we were to try and beat her. Nearby there was a small fenced area and mom would tell us not to go in. "Baby Banks" was buried there. I remember that very clearly. I was saddened and to this day I still feel the sadness.
The neighbours that I remember are the Banks family on one side of our farm and Hugh's grandparents [at the moment I cannot remember the name] on the other. I remember washing the inside of jars for Hugh's grandmother, as her hand would not fit. Sam McConnel and Sam McKee were beyond Banks. The Merritt family was nearby and Marlis was my friend. Rusks lived up that way as well I think. Frank and Vi Hicks were friends. I do remember the Dolmage family. They had two daughters.
Jack and I started school in Erinferry in a one-room schoolhouse. There were not many students. I do remember there was one big boy. It seems to me that his name was Jack Rusk.
Dad went off to school in Prince Albert and took a course in Machinery. From there he was sent to Canada Car in Fort William, Ontario. Jack and I were in grades two and three.
When we left, dad made arrangements for Sam McKee to farm the property. I don't know just what the arrangements were but I do remember that sometimes after we moved to Vancouver in 1954 dad, received a letter about the taxes and contacted Sam. In dad's will that was dated November 1967 dad left the property in Erinferry to my mother. It is from the will that I found the description of the property. Hugh Banks probably knows more about what happened than I do as I was young and never asked questions.
In 1954, when our family was moving to Vancouver, British Columbia we spent some time in Erinferry and again in 1989 Mom and me spent a week there. Dad had passed away in 1986 and I just felt the need to visit the place where I was born. I was happy to again see where I was born; however, the house had only part of one corner left and it was hard for me to figure it out. I have it so clear in my mind the way it was when we were small.
In Vancouver, my dad worked as a carpenter and eventually built houses in the Vancouver area. He retired after building his last house in 1970. Dad passed away on July 1, 1986, after a three year battle with prostate cancer. He fought hard but couldn't win the battle.
After moving to Vancouver my mother worked at a hotel and later became an aid in care homes where she worked very hard. In later years she worked for the Homemaker Society and was sent to homes where they needed care. She had a heart of gold and was such a wonderful mother! I miss her terribly. Mom passed away on October 8, 1991, after a very hard battle. Mom suffered from breast cancer and spent her last three months in our Delta Hospital. Mom suffered quietly as she did everything else and never complained.
My brother Jack lives in Langley, British Columbia. He has a son and a daughter both married. His son Rickey and wife Salome have four sons. Jack still keeps working and I don't think he will ever retire. He has four horses and says when he's with the horses he can forget any troubles he may have. He has always loved horses and when we lived in Fort William, Ontario he would go to the barns and work just to have a chance to ride.
I, Phyllis Delmar [Durston], live in Delta with my husband and we have a son, Paul, who is married. Paul and Angelina have a daughter, Rebecca, and another on the way. I left work in 1968 before our son was born and stayed home to raise him. Harvie, my husband, was a Deputy Sheriff and retired in 1987. We enjoy retirement and our new granddaughter.