Les and Violet Christranson
by Violet Christranson
Les and I were married in late October of 1943. We left shortly after to go to Dore Lake, to fish for Verner Johnson; so you might say that's where we spent our honeymoon. Verner Johnson met us in Big River, where we spent the first night. I had no idea what this commercial fishing was all about. My husband had fished one year for Nels Edson and a few years for Verner Johnson. It sounded like a lot of fun and I was ready to see what it was all about. Well, there were eighteen men and me, who left Big River for Dore Lake. We went by truck the first day to Waterhen. Another truck brought the horses, which were to pull a sleigh and caboose into Dore Lake with our supplies for the winter. It was an Indian camp where we spent the first night. Oh, they were so happy to see us and hurried and made coffee and sandwiches. Come time to go to bed, they gave Les and me their bedroom. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep. Well, as I sat on the edge of the bed to undress, I found to my surprise the bed was made of poles; no mattress. They gave us the best they had: Bless their hearts!
The next morning we had breakfast and started our journey to Dore Lake. We must have walked about twenty-five miles when we reached the next camp. It was the Swanson's. Once again we had supper, and breakfast, and started again for Dore Lake. We got there at nightfall and Ida had a lovely supper waiting for us. She was a grand lady and a great cook.
Then we all set out for different camps around the Lake to start the winter fishing. There were six men in the camp I was to cook for. They were super nice guys. Walter Hegland was to be our camp boss. He was a great storyteller and a lot of fun. The men would have breakfast in the morning and after break-fast fish all day. I would nail fish boxes during the day and prepare a nice warm supper for them when they returned in the evening. The men would help me wash the dishes and then, we'd all spend the rest of the evening playing cards and telling stories.
If the fishing wasn't very good, we would pack up and move to another part of the Lake. Some of the camps weren't all that good. I recall seeing the stars through the roof, but with a couple of days cleaning and fixing, it was home. No one ever seemed to have even a cold. If anyone had got sick, an air ambulance plane would come in and pick them up. We had very little contact with our families back home. However, the mail did come once in a while.
In the spring of 1955, Les and I and our two sons Douglas and Ivan, went back up to Verner Johnson's to help look after the mink. It was also a great new experience. This time, however, we went by plane. George Greening flew the plane for Waite Fisheries. He picked us up at Big River and flew us into Dore Lake. He was a great bush pilot and was known by all in the north. Needless to say, it was my first and last ride in an aeroplane. It only took fifteen minutes to go from Big River to Dore Lake, but we hit bad weather and I was very scared, especially when we hit an air pocket.
We have three sons: Douglas, Ivan and Dennis and two daughters: Katharine and Karen. We also have five grandchildren.
Violet and Les Christranson, 1943.
Les Christranson, 1955.
George Greening and Violet Christranson
flying into Dore Lake, May, 1955.
Big Island Camp, 1955, Christianson's.
Les, Ivan and Doug Christranson at Verner Johnson's, 1955.
by Peggy Johnson.
Carl Johnson was born in 1925. He took his schooling in Dore Lake by correspondence. In 1939, Carl got a few mink and started mink ranching on a small scale. As he learned how to care for mink, he and his dad, Verner, went into partnership and increased the size of the mink ranch. These two men pioneered the mink ranching industry in Dore Lake.
I, Flora (Peggy) McAteer, came to Dore Lake in June 1948. 1 was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. My father was born in Glasgow, Scotland and my mother was born in Missouri, U.S.A. Both parents were of Irish descent.
Carl and I were married in 1950. In the spring of 1951, we took our mink and moved across to Joseph's Point. Ted, Carl's brother, came with us as well as a young man named Borge Klassen.
We moved into an old fisherman's cabin until we could get a house built. When it was too dark to work out in the evenings, we would sit in the cabin and listen to the radio, while watching the mice frolic around our feet.
We got the framework of the house up and moved into it in October. Then we worked on it from the inside. It took a lot of wood the first winter to keep the place warm.
That first year, Carl bought a thirty-five-foot boat from the Big River Timber Company, for hauling lumber and supplies across the lake to our place and for fishing. The boat was made by Emil Zinovich of Big River. In later years, when we moved, we left it pulled up on the shore and it served as a landmark for tourists when they were out fishing. But, a few years ago it burned.
Carl also bought a team of horses from Len Waite and towed them across from the fish plant, in a scow behind the boat.
At Joseph's Point, Carl continued to raise mink and also did commercial fishing and some trapping.
In the winter of 1951, we bought a used Bombardier, so we would be able to cross the Lake. We had to leave our truck at Harry Husak's, winter and summer at first, and travel the seventeen miles across by "bug" in winter and by boat in summer.
In the spring and fall, we had to get two or three months' supply of groceries, etc., because we never knew how long break-up or freeze-up would take.
It was always a welcome change to get out to Big River or Prince Albert for supplies. However, the trip was less than favourable. In summer, we crossed the Lake by boat to the South End, where our Mercury half-ton awaited us. Then, if we were lucky, we made the trip without mishap. But, if it had rained in the past two weeks, we could be sure of getting stuck at least once. There were nights spent in mudholes! Coming home presented another problem. If it was not blowing we were able to cross the Lake. After crossing, we faced the task of unloading the boat after a very long day.
In winter, we drove about three miles on the Lake, where Carl had ploughed a road. In the East Bay, we took the loggers' ice road past Smoothstone Lake to Big River.
In 1955, we hired Kai Hansen to wire our house. We then got a combination 110-32 volt light plant. It was terrific to have electric lights.
In the fall of 1955, we got ourselves a T. V. We would pick up Saskatoon, not all the time, but often enough to make it worthwhile.
Our daughter Susan, was born in May 1952 and our son Richard was born in November 1953, in Shellbrook. With the aid of correspondence courses, I taught Susan through grade three and Richard through grade one. They took the rest of their elementary education at Dore Lake School. They completed high school at Shellbrook. Susan graduated in 1970, then earned a B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan.
After Richard graduated in 1972, he went into the Armed Forces and was stationed at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Moose Jaw, and Lahr, West Germany.
The second year we were at Joseph's Point, we had our first garden. Over the years, I also planted many flowers, both indoors and out. We were soon planting shrubs, such as lilacs and crabapple trees.
During our ten years there, we had numerous encounters with various animals. Moose and deer quite frequently paid a visit to the horses' salt licks in the yard. Skunks would come to the mink yard and eat the scraps under the pens. One of our many cats had to be destroyed after attacking a porcupine when defending her kittens. Bears would come and rip open our mink feed bags in the bunkhouse. Oh yes, there was also my mischievous pet mink.
In 1960, there were enough children at the South End to start a school. So, we decided to move across the Lake to the south side.
We picked out the spot where we wanted to live and then hired Erick Viden to clear the spot with his cat and dozer. Carl then had to plough a sixteen-foot wide road across the Lake. We were very lucky the weather held. February 1961, the movers we had hired from Prince Albert, moved the house, the freezer and the feed shed across the Lake. There was one building left to move, our log bunkhouse. But, a blizzard came up and blew the road full, so the bunkhouse stayed behind.
The first years the children and I missed our home at Joseph's Point. We had our crabapple trees and lilacs left over there. We went back to visit quite a few times in the first years.
Carl Johnson hitching up the horse, 1951.
Carl and Peggy's first home at Joseph's Point.
Peggy Johnson with a large jackfish.
Peggy and Sport.