Interview with Mrs. Carrie Abrahamson
Recorded on June 5, 1987 at
Jubilee Lodge, Prince George, British Columbia. The interviewer is Thea
Stewart. Carrie Abrahamson was born in Norway. She cane from a family
of six; herself, one sister and four brothers. She married her first
husband in Norway. He was a pharmacist of some sort, that is she
mentions mining. He and a friend decided to immigrate to Canada to go
West. They came straight to Prince George and he worked in the bush.
She followed in the mid 1920's. She came here alone leaving all her
family behind and only returned to Norway once in 1975 for a visit with
her son, Jack London. Carrie entered fully into he life in Prince
George and has no regrets in leaving her native country. I wasn't able
to learn much about her second husband. Her first husband was called
Louis London. He died in 1958. There were two children Jack and lngrid.
Jack was a well known and well loved personality in Prince George and
died tragically at the age of fifty nine in February of 1987. His wife
Jean still lives here. Their daughter Ingrid is now Ingrid Whyte and
lives here too. Mrs. Abrahamson's second husband was, of course, Mr.
Abrahamson and he died in 1966. Carrie Abrahamson is now a resident at
Jubilee Lodge, Prince George Regional Hospital.
Could you tell me something about your early days in Prince
Abrahamson: I don't know really if I
Stewart: When did you
Abrahamson: I arrived in Prince George in
Stewart: Where did you come
Abrahamson: I came from Norway direct to Prince
Stewart: Why did you come to Prince
Abrahamson: Because I was married in the old
country to a Norwegian who came to Canada and of course, l came over to
join him in 1924.
Stewart: You were already married
when you came?
Abrahamson: Yes, he married me in 1923
and he came over herewith a friend of his and I came in 1924. He sent
for me afterwards and I came in 1924.
Stewart: Did your husband have work
in the lumber industry?
Abrahamson: He worked in Dewey, east of here. He
worked in a bush. He was a chemist in the mine in Norway. I couldn't
understand why in the world he would want to go in the
Stewart: Did you ever find out?
just a friend and him were talking and they wanted to go to Canada. Of
course, coming to Canada meant going to the bush to work. He couldn't
work as a chemist in the mine because he couldn't speak
Stewart: What was your first impression of Prince George when
you arrived in the twenties? Was it a surprise to
Abrahamson: Yes, it really
was. There were about three thousand people here at
that time. That was quite a few people for a little town like Prince
Stewart: Did you come from a big town in
Abrahamson: No, but my husband came from a
larger place down close to Osier in Norway.
You left your parents and family in Norway?
Abrahamson: That's right.
Your husband's name was Louis London?
Stewart: Where did you live when you came
to Prince George? You had a house on Third Avenue at one
Abrahamson: No, I didn't have a house on Third
Avenue. I lived upstairs in the big building on the corner of
Third Avenue and Vancouver Street.
Stewart: Was it an
Abrahamson: No. There was a theatre on the first floor.
Stewart: The Princess Theatre and you lived above it?
Abrahamson: Yes, right on the corner where I could
look all the way down to George Street.
couldn't nowadays. There would be too
many buildings. You could see right down to
George Street. You had two children, a boy and a
Abrahamson: Jack London was my first child and
just passed away the other day.
Stewart: Do you mind
talking about him?
Stewart: He was a very wonderful person. He
was well loved in Prince George.
Abrahamson: He was
born here and grew up here. He went to school and
took all his education here.
Stewart: He was in
Did he have a men's clothing store?
Abrahamson: Him and Mr. Carmichael
had a store together.
Stewart: He worked as Education
Officer for the School District?
Stewart: I'm sure that you know that
everybody loved him. They said he was a ray of sunshine on a gray day.
He said hello
Abrahamson: He was friendly.
Everybody seemed to like him because he was so friendly, an
Stewart: Your daughter, Ingrid, is
still in Prince George?
Abrahamson: Ingrid, yes, she lives in Prince
George. She is married to Glen Whyte and Glen is the Manager for a
Stewart: Did you often go back to
Norway after you came to Canada?
Abrahamson: I went
back only once. Jack, my son, and I went home in
Stewart: You were bringing up your family during the depression
years in the thirties. Was that very difficult?
I didn't find it difficult.
We didn't have all the fancy things of course.
Then the Second World War came. Did any of
your family join up?
Jack was too young. I didn't have to go through
Stewart: What did you do for entertainment as a
Abrahamson: Played cards.
We played poker too. I loved and played
bridge. I had a big round table that we sat around and
Stewart: I know because l was
interviewing Jane Kennedy and she told me that you had one phrase, "I
always know when I'm licked."
Abrahamson: Yes, that
Stewart: Who else did you play
Abrahamson: One lady named Fran Boyd; Jane, of
course; Mrs. White from Quesnel; the Whites that used to have the cafe
down by the Bank of Montreal. She's dead now, of course. There was
Stewart: You had fun?
Yes, we had lots of fun. We used to enjoy ourselves. We had a real good
time, not much money, but we did have fun. In those days you could
enjoy yourself without spending money all the time. It's different now.
It costs money to have fun.
Stewart: When I grew up,
we had no money. We made our own entertainment.
Yes, that's true.
Stewart: You liked to
Abrahamson: Oh, yes.
Can you tell me something about skiing?
I don't know if there's anything to tell you.
I used to ski up in the hills.
Stewart: Was that
cross country skiing up in Tabor?
No. l don't think so. I just
put on a pair of skis and went. I skied around the
hills and slide down.
Stewart: What kind of skis did you
Abrahamson: My skis were quite wide. They weren't narrow like the
ones for cross country. They were lovely skis.
Was it on Tabor Mountain that you went?
No, I never went to Tabor Mountain. I
went outside my door and put the skis on and took off just around where
Stewart: Did your children ski with
Abrahamson: Yes, the three of us used to ski
together. Both Jack and lngrid skied.
I just lost Jack the other day. That was a terrible shock. That's
the worst thing I ever heard of. He was so nice.
Were you a housewife or did you work in the
I thought you helped in the store
Abrahamson: No. Where did you get that
Stewart: I don't know. Somebody mentioned it and
also that you took in boarders. Did you?
don't know about taking in boarders. I had friends staying with
me. I cooked and they ate with me.
When did your first husband die, about the late
When did you meet Mr. Abrahamson?
Stewart: Was it in Prince
Abrahamson: Yes, of course. I haven't been
anywhere else but Prince George.
Stewart: Did you not
go somewhere for holidays?
Abrahamson: I went down to Vancouver and
back. We left here and went to California, Los Angeles and went right
around to New York. We drove in the car and came back to
Stewart: That was a long trip by
Abrahamson: That was a long trip but it was a wonderful trip as by
car you could see everything. You would get to every town and little
place whereas if you fly you don't see anything.
Can you remember the make of the car you
Abrahamson: I think it was a Ford that we went
Stewart: Where did you do your shopping for
clothes? I was told that you were always a very eloquent lady, very
dressed. Did you go to Vancouver?
No, I did my shopping in Prince
George. I can't remember.
The Bay or Woodwards? They weren't here
Abrahamson: No, not Hudsons Bay or
Stewart: Were they quite good
Better than now?
Abrahamson: Yes, it was. I wore good clothes all
the time. I never wore anything cheap or shabby. I always had nice
Stewart: That's what I was
Abrahamson: That's true because I wore nice
clothes at all times and good clothes. I can't
remember the store that l used to shop in.
Were they mostly on Third Avenue?
Yes, on Third Avenue.
Stewart: That was the main
Abrahamson: Yes, the main streets were Third Avenue and George
Street but Third Avenue was really the main street.
Stewart: With the stores.
Were there many hotels?
Abrahamson: There was the
Prince George Hotel and the other little hotels.
Stewart: Did you
like to dance?
Abrahamson: I used to go to
dances. Hedlands who lived out at Six Mile Lake gave a
dance every Saturday night. I used to go to the dance out
there. It was nice.
was his name?
Was that where the Sons of Norway hut was?
They weren't there then but are now. That's where the Sons of Norway is
now. That's where
we danced on Saturday
nights. It was nice by the lake. There was only one awful thing that
happened at that time out at the lake. I forget the name of the chap
but he had a wife and two little boys. He had gone into Prince George
from the lake to pick up something. She wanted to fly all the time. The
was there and the pilot. She got the pilot to take her and the two boys
up in the air and fly around. They flew around for
awhile. When you go to land, your eyes can't
focus properly on the water and he couldn't tell when the plane was
down close enough to straighten out so the plane
went into the bottom of the lake. Of course, they were
Stewart: What was the name of the
Abrahamson: I can't remember his
name. I would only be guessing. They
got her and both the boys out af the bottom of the
lake. When he came back from town, the three of them were laying on the
floor in the cabin down by the water. It was a terrible shock for
Stewart: He lost his whole
Abrahamson: All three of them, his wife and
two little boys.
Stewart: You liked to ski, you liked
to dance and you played cards. You were a busy lady?
Abrahamson: Yes, I kept busy.
Did you do any ice skating?
Abrahamson: No, l
didn't do any ice skating but l did ski.
you have an accident when you were skiing?
I don't remember any accident when I was
Stewart: Do you have
Abrahamson: Yes. Debra Ann is
one. She was Jack's daughter. Then l have
Thiel. I have a great granddaughter. She is just a
little girl, very young. She is my grandson's
Stewart: Do they come to visit
Abrahamson: Yes. They are very good. They come
and visit me. I have a very good friend too. Before I came here he used
to board and room with us. His name is Arthur Reid.
Did he work in Prince George?
Abrahamson: He's a
teacher. He is busy. He is very good with the children and they like
Stewart: What schools did your children go
Abrahamson: They went to Duchess Park.
None of them went to King George V.
they enjoy school?
Abrahamson: Yes, they never
complained about it so they must have enjoyed it. I had no trouble
getting them to go. They would
get up in the morning and take off to school.
Stewart: Did they walk to
Abrahamson: Yes, they didn't have far to
Stewart: Were you still living on Third
Abrahamson: I didn't live very far from
Duchess Park. I just lived down the hill on Tenth
Stewart: Did they wear a school
Abrahamson: No, they did at the Catholic
school. My daughter went to school there for awhile with the
Sisters. When my husband and I took the long trip all the way to New
I put Ingrid in the Catholic School with the Sisters as a
Stewart: And your son?
stayed home. We sent Ingrid to the Sisters because I wanted her to be
all right so nothing would happen.
gave yourself an easy mind so
you could enjoy yourself. Do you remember any stories or any funny
happened or the names of any of your friends during the
Abrahamson: One of my friends was Mrs. Whyte
who had the cafe next door to the Bank of Montreal.
You knew a lot of people because Prince George was such a small
place when you first came here.
Abrahamson: When I
first came, there were three thousand people here.
Now it is sixty seven thousand.
were nice people, just like one big family. They were so
close. It was so funny when I think about it
Stewart: Prince George is a nice place to
Abrahamson: I think so. I
couldn't live anywhere else and be happy. I love
Prince George, Prince George has been good to me too. I have a lot of
good friends. I wouldn't want to live anywhere
Stewart: Did you speak English when you first
came to Prince George?
Abrahamson: I couldn't speak a
word of English when l first arrived, not a word. My first husband
worked in Dewey. When I cane to Canada, they had to contact my first
husband to see if he would be responsible for me so I sat there for a
Stewart: You sat
Abrahamson: In Quebec in the Immigration
Stewart: You came by boat and waited a whole
Abrahamson: A whole week I sat
there. There was a Swedish girl too and she wanted to
come to Canada. She had a friend in Canada and she had
to marry him to come to Canada. She said, "How can l
marry you when I don't love you?" She went back to Sweden. She didn't
want to come over.
Stewart: You had a husband in
Canada so why did they keep you waiting?
Abrahamson: They wanted to find
him and make sure he was going to meet me and take care of me. They
were very careful in Canada that they didn't get a bunch of people here
that they had to look after. After all, they couldn't stand to see them
go hungry so they had to feed them. That is what they wanted to get rid
of as they didn't want to have to do that.
Where did you stay in Quebec? You had no
Abrahamson: In the Immigration
Stewart: In the Hall?
Stewart: Until they found your husband in
Abrahamson: Yes. I stayed in the Immigration Hall and l didn't
mind. I could never drink milk but there I could drink the milk. I
think it was half cream end half milk. It was
Stewart: There were other people in the same
position as you, waiting?
Abrahamson: Yes. There was a Norwegian lady
who had sat for a whole week. She had been in Canada but she hadn't
become a Canadian citizen. She went home to Norway to visit and coming
back she had some time getting into Canada.
They were pretty strict in those days?
Yes, they were.
Stewart: Can you remember the
name of the boat you came over on from Norway?
Stewart: That's a lovely trip from the mouth of the St.
Lawrence River up to Quebec, isn't it? Then, did you go by train to
Abrahamson: I came by boat to Quebec as they didn't fly
in those days. From Quebec l came on the railroad to Prince
Stewart: You found something similar in the
countryside here to Norway with all the spruce and fir trees? Did it
remind you a bit of home?
Abrahamson: I don't really
Stewart: is there anything else you would like
to tell me about your life?
Abrahamson: No, I can't
think of anything to tell you.
Stewart: You've told me
many things already.
Abrahamson: Yes. I can't remember
anything else to tell you.
Stewart: Were there many
Norwegian people in Prince George?
Abrahamson: No, I
don't think so. There was a Swedish family here when I arrived but no
Stewart: There are quite a few
Stewart: A friend of mine was
giving some Norwegian lessons here so there are quite a few now. Norway
seems a long way off to you now?
Abrahamson: Yes, it sure is a long way.
My son, Jack and l went home in 1975. Jack wanted to go over and see
what it was like so Jack and I went home. We had a wonderful time. Jack
was such a nice boy.
Stewart: Did you see many
relations and friends in Norway?
Abrahamson: Yes, I will never forget. We flew over to Norway and I'll
never forget the plane landing there.
When we started to get off the plane, they came running out through the
door. They weren't supposed to but they didn't bother, they just kept
coming out to meet us as we were coming down from the plane. l will
never forget that. They were all so glad to see us. l guess they had
given up hope that I would ever go over.
your parents come to visit you in
Abrahamson: No, they
Stewart: Did you have brothers and
Abrahamson: Of course, I had brothers and
Stewart: How many?
I had one sister.
Stewart: What was her
Abrahamson: I had only one sister, that I
Stewart: How many
Abrahamson: Christian, Morton and Halvton and (.....) and
Johanna. I had
brothers. (transcriber's note: fourth brother may be "John")
Stewart: You didn't mind leaving all your
family behind you to come here?
Abrahamson: Yes, I
Stewart: You loved your husband so you had to
Abrahamson: Yes, I had to come.
He had already paid for my ticket. I had a good
time in Canada. I'm not sorry that I came to
Stewart: That is good. I'm
sure that you did nice things too. Did you work in the community at
like the hospital or the
Abrahamson: I used to help whenever we had a
convention. I had a nice time in Canada.
I'm not sorry I came.
Stewart: I see you're
interested in the Royal Family?
Abrahamson: Yes, I'm very fond of the
Royal Family, Prince George and Princess Diane. That's the next King of
England. I guess the Queen won't step down. The Queen won't step down
until her other son gets married. He's getting married this summer
either July or August
so she wants to stay on the throne until he's
Stewart: The photograph above your
bed? Is that your parents?
That's my Dad and Mother. Dad was married
twice and my mother on this side and his first wife on his right side.
That's my Dad and both his wives.
Stewart: What did
your father do? Was he in business?
don't remember him in business. I don't know what he
did, just ordinary work.
Stewart: I think you've had
enough Mrs. Abrahamson.
Abrahamson: I think so
Stewart: I do thank you very, very
much. You've been wonderful. You really have.
Abrahamson: You're welcome.