Interview with Doreen and Armand
by June Chamberland
Armand: He worked on construction for the railway.
June:: I’ll just
say this for a minute that my name is
June Chamberland and I'm taping
the Denicolas, Doreen and Armand and it's May 24th, 2001. We don't
worry about the time I guess, so then I can pick up and I'll write some
notes in case it doesn't get picked up. So your Dad came here in
Armand: My dad came here looking for construction on the
railway. I guess he arrived in what is now Prince George around
1914, 13 or 15 whenever the railway... There was no Prince George
then, just bush and Indian reserve.
June: Did he work on did someone
say he worked on that bridge ?
Armand: Yes he did.
June: Oh yeah
Armand: Well he worked on laying the track on that bridge He didn't
Doreen: He worked on the section crew for the bridge
was already done.
Armand: He worked with the track laying
railway had to built the accesses like the access to the bridge and
then laying the tracks itself across the bridge.
Armand: They had
their construction camp right on that island there. It used to be much
bigger in those days
June: Oh is that right?
island used to come right up underneath the bridge at one time.
Armand: There was more up the river than there is down the river
It was probably ... I would dare say 4 or 5 acres anyhow.
its pretty well all gone now
Doreen: There's hardly anything left now,
its a shame.
Armand: It was okay until they started taking gravel out
of the river bed Once they started that it changed the whole picture.
And it was, the island was owned by an old guy by the name of Jim
Johnson. Some of them called it Goat Island because he used to have a
bunch of goats.
June: Oh that's what that Goat Island..... I heard
Armand: But actually it was Jim Johnson that owned it
June: I think I'll turn that the right direction. Oh yeah that will
you up. You talk a little louder, so do I, so it will pick
Doreen: Yeah Armand’s voice is soft, quieter.
June: So your dad
came here in.... you figure around 1914?
Armand: Yeah around that time
whenever the railway came in
June: Did he come by himself then or..
Armand: Oh yeah. We were in Italy yet.
Doreen: The family
didn't come from Italy..... when ‘25 Dad ?
Armand: Well my brother came
out around 1924 and then we come out in ‘25.
June: And your
Armand: Yeah we come out and my sister
June: So how old were
you guys then ? Were you just ....
Armand: Well I was 3 1/2
It's amazing but that's the way families existed in those days you
Doreen: The father came and tried to make a living or
make a place for the family and sometimes it took a long time
dad planted the first garden in Willow River
June: Oh really ?
Armand: That's where he was stationed when he came back
war he went back to work for CN or the Grand Trunk but the was
at Willow River and that's where my brother came to the town
site. He came out from Edmonton
Doreen: It was actually
..... it was called Grand Trunk Pacific, wasn't it Dad?
Armand: Yeah I
really don't know what year, what year that the Federal
Government bought it. I guess the Grand trunk went broke and the
Government took it over but I couldn't say what year, I don't
know, it'd be in the early twenties.
June: Oh yeah So then it
became what? The CN or ....
Armand: Canadian National.
how many brothers s and sisters did you have then?
Armand: One of
June: Oh one brother, one sister, oh yeah. So what were their
Armand: Joe and Lucy
June: Joe and Lucy and your father was
June: Tony and your mother
Maria. So you're after Joe and then comes Lucy?
Doreen: No, he's the
Armand: No. I'm the baby.
June: You're the baby okay. You were
3 1/2 when you came so how old was your brother when he came over
? He was a little bit older then ?
Armand: He was
16 years Doreen Oh there's a great age difference between the brother
June: That's what I was beginning to think
Armand: About 16 years I
Doreen: Well the number of years that elapsed from the
time your father came over here until after the first world war,
June: So did he go back and get your
Armand: Now we come out on our own
June: And you came by boat
Doreen: ( Laugh )
June: No airplanes them
Armand: No, not very many. No, we met dad in Winnipeg
or at least he met us there. Yeah I'll always remember the T. Eaton
Store in Winnipeg We went up there” He took us in there to buy us
winter clothing and I’ll always remember these damn mannequins sitting
there. I thought they were live people there. I couldn't figure out
why the hell they weren't moving. Laughter
June: Scared of Canada eh
Doreen: Strange people in this country.
Armand: Yeah. We wound up
here at the farm in November in about four feet of snow, colder than be
Doreen: Yeah, not an easy life.
Armand: No Doreen But few
people had any comforts in those days.
Armand: We all survived.
yeah you're still here.
Armand: My mother took it pretty hard, she
was, you know, up in age even then. It was hard on her.
transformation or whatever you call it , big change. Doreen Yeah and
cold was very hard on her too.
June: Yeah Italy is quite warm isn't it
Doreen: Yeah coming from the country that she came from, she found
the cold terrible
Armand: And the conditions. And you know it was
pretty primitive. It was pretty harsh. I mean they didn't have much in
Italy either but things were more established and she came out here to
basically nothing , nothing at all. We were the only family with
children down here then and I was the only child.
June: Is that
Armand: The rest of them were.... The only other one that had a
child lived in town, had a farm down there but they lived in South Fort
George and she was quite a bit older than I am too. The other family
didn't have any children . I was the only child down here. So .....
June: So what two families were these ? Do you remember their names ?
Armand: Oh yes, Bill Howsin and then there was Albert Junker.
one of those guys that ......
Armand: There was one other family too
but they moved out in 1929.
June: Oh yeah
Armand: Chambers, but I didn't
actually know them until I started school in Longworth.
June: Oh so
you went to school in Longworth?
Armand: Just one year, yeah
did you get to school from Longworth? From here?
Armand: Well I stayed
with my brother there
June: Oh was your brother married by that
time or just working ?
Armand: No, he wasn't married. He married that
June: Oh yeah. And what about your sister, was she older too
like your brother?
Armand: Oh yeah
June: So she probably came here and
got married or something?
Armand: Oh yeah, she married, yeah.
Armand: Went to school in Longworth.
Armand: Just one year
then Shelley as well
Armand: Yeah Shelley three months and it didn't
work out. 1928 stayed with a family there for three months but Dad
couldn't afford the board and room so I had to give that up
then he went to school in Prince George at the old Connaught school
June: Oh yeah
Doreen: The original Connaught school that was on
June: On Queensway?
Doreen: Yeah, right where Queensway Towers is now
and it burnt down years ago and he used to walk to school then
Doreen: From here, from the farm
June: From here to school That
would be, how many miles would that be?
June: Five miles.
Oh boy! hey ?
Armand: Yeah, you didn't put on any fat
June: No I guess
not and I guess you had to pretty well walk by yourself too hey?
Armand: Like I say I was the only kid.
Doreen: The only kid
meet some kids at the bridge. Joe Guay family where the jail is
now. I used to try and be there. They had a bunch of kids, I forget how
many I used to meet them at the bridge and we used to walk together
there but that far was just lonesome me.
June: Yeah it would be a
pretty lonesome time for a kid because I imagine you'd probably be what
7, 8 years old then or ......
Armand: Yeah about That. Eight
wouldn't dream of letting our kids go that far anymore, would we?
June: No you cant trust anybody today
Doreen: No, isn't that a
We didn't have to worry in them days because there was nobody
June: And if you did see somebody, they'd probably help you
Armand: There used to be some old bachelors.... there where the
yard used to be there were some bachelors there that were shacked up
there but they were all good. They'd give you anything they had
Doreen: Yeah people don't realize that's the way it was in those days
to the Connaught school but then he ended up going to KGV as well.
That was my last year.
Doreen: He didn't finish his school at KGV
Pretty good you got that much schooling at that time
Armand: No my
education's pretty short.
Doreen: Yeah Grade 5 and that was it. His dad
didn't figure he needed any more than that
June: He had enough to read
and write and do a little bit of figuring hey?
Armand: Well I have to
say that I learned a hell of a lot more after I left school than going
to school. They call it the school of “hard knocks” you learned by them
Doreen: It was a actually you had to do that. You had to learn as you
lived . You just .....You know in those days school was not an
essential in a lot of people's lives.
Armand: The kids here, they kind
of look at me kind of funny figuring I'm kind of haywire or something
when I tell them my schooling was just like a holiday. (Laughter)
It probably was.
Armand: Best holiday I ever had.
June: At home you
had to work hey?
Doreen: The only time you had a holiday
all the time.
June: So your dad farmed here when you came from
Winnipeg then , you came ....you went to Longworth and then you came
Armand: No, no, he was here then.
June: He was here then .
Armand: At Foreman station. He was stationed here .
June: Yeah what is
Foreman station? Is there anything left of it or ?
Armand: No not a
sign, just the siding
June: Just the siding and that's where it was
right where the siding is?
Armand: Yeah, half way up the siding. Yeah
that's all gone . They.. what happened when the hungry 30's took their
toll I guess around 1933 the CN closed every second station (whether
they needed it or not, of course all this here was ruined???) and they
never reopened it. But that was around 1933. And Foreman, and I
forget the station the other side of Shelley, Hansard ? but
every second one
June: Every second one was closed
Armand: Of course
the crews were out of a job and they had to bid out somewhere else
June: Yeah that would be a tough time
Armand: It was, yeah, a lot of
lost their jobs
June: But the best place would be to be on a farm
Armand: Oh, definitely, definitely . We, as far as I'm concerned, we
never went hungry. We always had lots to eat, always. Our clothes
weren't that good but ...
June: Nobody else had anything either
No, but we had lots to eat.
Doreen: Well that's the thing I mean that's
what we try to impress on our children even today that if you know how
to plant a seed and make it grow, you have a patch of dirt you know how
to make use of that dirt because you're not going to be hungry and you
can manage, you know I don't know how a lot of people would survive
Armand: We even made our own porridge
June: Oh is that right ?
Armand: Yeah out of cracked wheat. My dad had a grinder eh? and cracked
porridge, of course you had to cook it the night before
June: It took
a long time to cook
Doreen: You didn't cook that in ten
Armand: You got a bowl of that it stayed with you . Not like
this junk you get today Even our neighbors used to come down and grind
their grain. Old Schulte there, they had a big family he used to
come down and grind their porridge
June: Is that right hey?
Yeah. Mother used to wash the wheat and then lay it out to dry until
they made porridge out of it .
June: It was nice and clean.
They dried it up
June: Nice clean wheat
Doreen: No insecticides or
pesticides or anything else in it those days
Armand: No they used to
wash it and lay it out on a tarp till it dried and then they'd grind it
June: Did you have one of those little tiny grinder things? Or did
you have a big thing?
Armand: Well we had both actually. But the one
that they used to use was the gas engine powered kind
Doreen: Too bad
they haven't still got that
Armand: Oh yeah
June: We've got a little
one at the Huble farm . It stand about this high and it had a crank
Armand: Well we had ours on a stand and then later on we got one that
could grind food for the pigs and that and we had a gas engine on it.
Its sitting out here under the trees right now. You could have a look
at it. That was the first gas eater on this place here on our farm.
June: When did he get that, do you know?
Armand: In the 30's sometime,
33, 34 something like that.
June: Doreen was saying that old wagon
there, it used to ....its really old, it took your dad and family all
to town and that hey?
Armand: No. Not that one.
Doreen: Oh not that
Armand: The wagon wheels that you see over here . No that one
there I bought it when I came home after the war.
Doreen: Oh, this is
the wooden wagon wheels
Armand: The big one yeah
Doreen: That's from
the wagon that took him to town, yeah.
Armand: Well that there I bought
that from T. Eatons , 1947 or 48, that one .
Doreen: I misunderstood
that I thought it was the steel wheeled wagon Well there still steel
wheels on there but the old wooden wheeled wagon
Armand: No that one
June: They're older, the wooden wheels than the steel
wheels. What did you say ‘47 you bought that in?
was just asking because we got a steel wheeled wagon out at the Huble
Farm there and I was wondering just what year it was
Armand: Well they
made them before that.
Armand: Oh yeah, they made them
years and years before that but these here, like the wheels you saw
coming in there, they pulled much easier, the bigger the wheels the
easier they turn but they made the wagon higher and for farming
purposes there it was no good, you had to pitch the bundles up too high
but this here is closer to the ground and you didn't have to pitch the
loads so high
Doreen: So you used this one for farm work?
at least that wagon there that was for freighting on the road, that's
when there was a road.
June: So the road used to be the same place
where it is now ?
Armand: Right along the
June: Right along the river
Armand: That is you come down the
June: Yeah, but it was right beside the river
Armand: Yes it
swing ...you saw them buildings there?
Armand: The road was
right beside them buildings
Doreen: You see parts of the old road
visible down in the bush down there.
June: Is that right hey?
Yeah the road, when I was a kid anyhow it ended at, there used to be a
sawmill east of Foreman there, Martin Caine had a tie mill up there,
that's where the road ended and yeah, he was there until 1929. Then he
went to town. Their mill used to be, you probably remember it it used
to be by the Cameron Street Bridge there. That used to be them down
June: Yeah, okay That would probably be about the time we moved
up here. We came herein ‘55.
Armand: It was there in ‘55, yes. It was
there till what? Probably ...Oh I worked there in ‘63 I think . It was
there long after that
Doreen: Yeah when you were working ....you must
have been working in the 60's ... you had your own sawmill for a few
years before that , didn't you?
Armand: Oh yeah that was before that.
I'm trying to see how long old Martin Caine was there.
Doreen: [ Did it run out? ]
June: [ No its fine. I just
wondered if I put it on “play” instead of “record”. (Laugh)
June: So your
dad mostly did farming, hey, that was his main......
actually his main was working on the railroad
June: Working on the
Armand: And my mother and myself done most of the farming.
Dad worked on the railroad until I guess he got hurt around 1945 or
something like that and then he had to stay home then and up to that
point we done most of the farming.
June: Yeah and with your sister and
brother being away I guess it was just you and your mother.....
And did you have cows too?
Armand: Oh yeah, there were cows,
lots of cows, cows, horses and pigs and chickens . We had everything.
There were times when I milked five or six cows twice a day.
for the two of you there'd be a fair amount of work.
Armand: We lived
on mostly milking (cows)
Doreen: Yeah they cleared this entire field by
Armand: This field over here that you see on your left when you
come in, that was all cleared by hand scrubbed with an axe and stumping
Doreen: Its hard to believe , isn't it? I mean
June: Yeah , its so simple nowadays. They
just take a bulldozer and push it
Armand: Yeah, I remember when we used to cut firewood where that
Doreen: Oh, Stumping powder and a grub hoe
Armand: Its a
funny thing, there's never been a cat on that farm
June: Never, like
Armand: Well, you know, a little bit over here . Like my
some logging across the road here but I mean for clearing, there's
never been a cat on all that land.
Doreen: Yeah, it’s amazing
This , this farm here I cleared a lot of it with a cat because there
was only about thirty acres cleared on this here when I took it
June: So you got the two quarters here like then or...
I just own this here.
June: Just this one.
Armand: Well I owned it for
awhile, had a half share, then my mother died and that time I sold my
share, just kept the smallest one.
June: So did your parents live to
be very old too?
Armand: No. My dad died when he was 60 and Mother I
think was 69, something like that. Yeah, died young.
sometimes ... They say hard work never killed anybody and other times,
course your dad had that ...what did you say ? He had an accident?
Armand: Oh yeah, but that's the.... it sort of killed him all right
he lost the use of one arm, more or less, and he decided that its time
to go. I guess he figured he wasn't any use to anybody so..... He ended
up with a stroke and ended up in the hospital. Then shortly after he
had another stroke and that was the end of him, but that wasn't
June: The direct cause of the ....
Armand: That was in ‘47
Doreen: But he had always worked so hard hey He used to operate the big
plows up around the line at the time and that's where he had his
accident on the cable . It went through his hand . It nearly tore his
hand off but he lost the will to live when he couldn't work anymore.
Armand: See he had no education whatsoever
Doreen: It just terminated
everything . That was the end. That was the end. And that's a strange
thing because its almost like a conscious intent to just die. You
Armand: And then Momma got cancer. She died of cancer
it has a real effect on their lives when things like that happen. There
was no such thing as UIC or compensation or any thing else so you know
your life is pretty well done when something like that happens.
Yeah the Railway awarded him thirty five dollars a month for 18 months
and that was his pay-off.
June: And that was it then, after the 18
months he didn't get any more?
Armand: No, no
probably just that in itself was enough to cause him the stress,
Armand: Yeah and the thirty five dollars a month I expect was
close to what his wage was back then because like all ......most of the
thirties I think he was only getting about twenty cents an hour
for ten hour days .
June: Two dollars a day
Armand: Something like that
Doreen: Imagine !
Armand: An eight hour day was unheard of then yet. I
think most of the thirties it was 10 hour days and then they went to
....and that was 6 days a week you know and then they went to 5 1/2
days a week and you know, just changed it....... but there was
no compensation board in them days
Doreen: Well actually some
of the stuff .....
Armand: I don't know when that came in , I have no
June: Some of that stuff, its good that it did come in
Armand: Yeah in some ways
June: But now its too many
Armand: Oh yeah, its crazy.
Doreen: Its just, its
just actually gone to the extreme opposite. Its just totally abused
and makes it useless to most people because they get the opinion that
everybody.... they can't judge everybody the same, that they're trying
to pull some kind of a scam and those that really do need the help
Armand: I know when my dad got chewed up by the bears
Armand: In 1932 also. He had a mishap just off the road here
about 150 yards from the road up that creek that you crossed there. It
was this time of the year, I think it was in May. He was walking along
the Foreman station. He used to take a shortcut through the bush there
and he walked down, the old sow she was feeding her cubs there. She
exception to that.
June: So how bad did she chew him up then ?
Armand: Pretty bad. He was in the hospital I don't know about a
and a half. I wasn't home then. That's the year that I was with my
brother in Longworth going to school.
June: When did you say that
Armand: ‘32, 1932. We've got a write-up on it somewhere.
Yeah, unfortunately for him the cubs went up a tree
alongside of him
Doreen: Is that the tree he went up? and of
course the tree wasn't big enough for him to get far enough away from
her and she just chewed his feet
Armand: Both legs and feet
guess he was lucky he didn't get pulled right down and .....
Well yes, he would of eventually but there was an Indian came
Doreen: As he lost strength he would have been pulled down
Armand: There was an Indian walking from Prince George to Shelley
that heard him hollering down there and he ran up to the Foreman
station and got the foreman with his rifle but by this time an hour and
a half had gone by so he would have eventually bled to death.
the bear run away then or did they shoot it?
Armand: No, they shot
June: They shot it
Armand: It turned out it was two big ones and a
couple of cubs. Yeah, oh no she wasn't leaving without the cubs. They
Doreen: No she'd have never left them.
June: She wouldn't have
been satisfied till......
Armand: Yeah, he'd have been all right if the
cubs hadn't gone up the tree beside him .
Doreen: Yeah it was
unfortunate that, you know he didn't get up a big enough tree to get
enough away from her
Armand: But he was a nervous wreck after that for
June: I bet, hey !
Armand: He wouldn't go in the bush without
his old shotgun
June: Even then you never know they can surprise you (
Doreen: That's right. And there was a lot
more wildlife around then than there is now
June: Spring, there's
getting to be quite a few bears now.
Armand: Oh yeah
Doreen: Oh my,
there's a lot of them
Armand: I think there's just as many now as
there was then
Doreen: We've had a lot of bears these last few years.
Armand: We've even had them right here in front of the window
is that right hey?
Armand: They wrecked my apple tree out behind here
Doreen: One night last year they split the apple tree from
top to bottom
Armand: And you know the dogs can't seem to keep them
Doreen: Well they're not afraid of the dogs anymore
June: And they
have now put a ban on shooting bears hey?
Doreen: Yeah, really! These
people that sit in high office buildings in the city and don't know a
thing about what happens in the rest of the country ...make all the
June: No, that's not good and they don't know what they're
doing. So is that a picture of your mother and dad
Doreen: No, my
June: Your mother and dad.
Doreen: Yeah. That's my family on my
side. Unfortunately we have no pictures of Armand’s family because the
homestead burnt down shortly after he came home from the army they lost
the big house
June: That was that little house there?
Doreen: No they
built another big log house on this side of the barn
Armand: It was
right on this same ridge here only at the far end
Doreen: Just actually
about where we are where our house is but on the end of this big field.
June: Oh yeah. I see you got a real long field.
Doreen: On the ridge
just at the edge of the.... in the field there
June: Close to the river
Doreen: That was where the old homestead house was and of course
it was a traumatic experience for his mother again and she was alone
and just escaped in her night clothes so they lost everything. Yeah
they had a lot of bad hard luck
June: A lot of stuff like that would
probably add to their stress and you know...
Doreen: Yeah and it was
Armand: Oh my dad was gone by then
June: Oh, he was gone by then.
Doreen: It was pretty sad for his mother though because that happened
to her with the house here and then she went to live with his brother
Joe He was road master of course. He was in Barrett then, dad?
Yeah, just west of Houston.
Doreen : And then the section house they
were living in burned down too.
Armand: Yeah, just a year later.
Doreen: And she went through another fire , lost everything she had
up in that short time. You know she must have thought the devil himself
was after her. Terrible!
June: So where did she go after that? Did she
just stay with the brother or ....
Armand: She stayed with my brother,
Well shortly after that she got cancer and she died in 1954 I think
June: So are you a local gal too or
Doreen: I come from Manitoba
you come from the same place I do
Doreen: Oh really
June: I come from
85 miles north of Winnipeg.
Doreen: Oh dear you're a northerner. I come
from the very far south
June: Where do you come from
Doreen: I come
from Virden, about 195 miles south west of Winnipeg.
June: So how did
you get here to B.C. then ?
Doreen: Well actually my , my second
eldest brother came out here in 1939 and he worked in the lumber mills
out here . Eventually as most people on the prairies, most of my family
came out to work in the lumber camps because there was no work on the
prairies, especially for young men, so all my brothers and then my
sister married and she and her husband came out here. I stayed home
because I was one of the fortunate ones that was able to get a good job
in our small town. I had a good job in the telephone office and I
stayed with Mom and Dad but then our father died and I don't know , the
kids all figured that it was better for Mom to be close to her family
and the grandchildren so that they could all see each other that way if
we came out to this area . So they sold the big house in Virden and
came out here.
June: To Prince George ?
brought all the thistles with her
June: She brought all the thistles
with her. Laugh
Doreen: Oh yeah, Prairie thistle, he calls me.
Bad weeds you know.
June: So how did you meet
Doreen: Oh actually I
came out in 1955. That was, oh, I don't know four, five, five years
Doreen: ‘60 yeah that I got to know him through
mutual friends we'd met out here and actually the first time I ever saw
him was out here on the top field threshing in the snow We used to
plant some oats at that time, was it oats you were threshing?
Doreen: And of course the season is just ridiculous. There
isn't time to get these things done you know, you don't have enough
sunshine hours so that was not too often that we planted grain crops
after that. We had a few but ... ah we decided to make something out of
the place , tried to make something out of it anyway. It was a long
slow job but here we are.
Armand: We used to have chickens you
see We used to grow some of our own
feed which was good. We used to have up to a thousand laying hens
Oh is that right, hey? You probably sold to the big stores then
Armand: Ah yeah, we sold a lot of them privately, private eggs, some to
stores too a lot of them.
Doreen: Well you took eggs to all of the
Royal Produce stores, didn't you?
Armand: Yeah, we grew a lot of potatoes, right where the house
is sitting here used to be our potato field
Doreen: Well all this area.
Armand: We used to plant anywhere between 5 and 7 acres
that's a lot of potatoes to look after hey?
Doreen: A lot
of potatoes !
Armand: When you were finished digging, your hands were
June: Probably by the time you had finished weeding one
end, the other end had weeds hey?
Armand: Yeah, well we
done it mostly with machinery. We done as much as we could.
Yeah, there's an ancient old potato digger out there too.
June: Oh is
Doreen: We were talking about, the old manure spreader too,
and the ancient old potato digger.
June: You see them but they're not
Armand: Well we used to supply the Royal Produce with
produce... in later years. Roy Yip.
June: That was one of the first
stores we dealt with.
Armand: You must have eaten some of our potatoes
Doreen: Everybody dealt at Royal Produce
June: What did you
say, oh I must have eaten some of your potatoes , probably. Probably
some of your eggs too.
Armand: Well we used to sell there and also
Malkins. They used to supply all the mills. But I wasn't the only
producer. There was quite a few producers around. Rack Bros., Vissers,
Doreen: That was when they used local produce in preference of
June: And wouldn't it be nice if they did that
Doreen: Wouldn't it? Think of the people who would be able to go
back to work. Make a living.
June: Yeah its really sad.
it got so we couldn't compete with the produce from the States, you
know like especially Oregon could produce tomatoes cheaper than Canada
Doreen: And then when they started importing, that was the end of all
the local producers.
June: And I was just thinking, we're buying
potatoes from the States and in Prince Edward Island, they're trying to
sell them to the States and they don't want them, why don't they just
ship them over here?
Doreen: It doesn't make sense does it?
anyway we shouldn't even have to buy them, we probably got enough
potatoes around here if they just let people grow them.
grow good potatoes here.
Doreen: This area grows good potatoes.
Armand: Last year of course, you couldn't grow anything
June: No last
Armand: But you don't run into too many years like that.
No, that's for sure. So you didn't ever do any mining or anything like
Armand: Oh I done a little prospecting
June: Yeah did you go
down in the river here then ?
Armand: Well we used to have a gravel bar
up on both sides of us here . An old guy that stayed with us, when the
old man was younger, we camped on the river there one time and we
shoveled gravel for a week and cleared 17 Dollars.
June: Wasn't hardly
worth it hey?
Armand: Well, them days it was, yeah.
June: Yeah, those
days were different.
Armand: But you know there was a lot of prospectors
worked the river in the hungry ‘30's and they, they made their grade,
oh yeah but they worked hard . They shoveled a lot of gravel for
June: Yeah. And how many children do you have ?
Armand: We had
June: Three eh?
June: Just like their mother and dad
Armand: Two boys and a girl and that's what mother and dad had
Doreen: Six little grandchildren all under 11 all born around the
farm here. Its kind of nice. Its the fourth generation on the farm
June: Yeah I guess so hey?
Doreen: Its really unusual today as well.
June: Its nice though.
Doreen: Yeah, we're very thankful. Well
although you can't make a living out of a hundred and sixty acres
anymore, its certainly a preferable way of life.
June: Well you
pretty well have to work some place ........END OF SIDE 1
June: It went
down the river .....
Armand: Well somebody stole it
June: Oh somebody
Doreen: Stole what?
Armand: Our boat.
June: So did you do any
tie hacking at all ?
Armand: No I didn't, no I left home in 1937 , went
to work on the ranches past Williams' Lake till I joined the Army and
after the war I went back there for a couple of years again. I worked
in the bush too, logging camps and same as everybody else.
June: Thank you
Armand: Fancy cups there!
Doreen: Well I don't know
June: Were you in the army right till it ended then ?
Armand: Well yeah I was in from 1943 on .
June: When did it
June: Oh yeah, it started in ‘39.
Armand: Yeah I was over in
England, France, Belgium, Holland
Doreen: It seems to me that we
resort to store bought cookies quite often nowadays.
June: That's good
cake. Its sort of a spice cake?
Doreen: An apple cake.
June: How far
are you from Bernie Gould’s place ?
Armand: Its just down the road
here about a mile I guess. He just wrecked his truck the other day.
June: Yeah, I phoned him and he told me. He did the same thing as I
did, had a moose run into him. He missed it but ..... I’ll just turn
Armand: It was after the war when the little two man outfits
started up in the bush there. No matter where you went there was a mill
behind every stump, like they used to say.
Doreen: Yeah because these
big ones like Harry sawed at ...
Armand: They're old established mills.
Doreen: Well established mills. What was the first one?
was Shelley sawmill, there was Giscome, Upper Fraser. There was
mills at Longworth
Doreen: But what was the one you went to work for?
There was an old fellow. I cant remember his name
Armand: That I
worked for? That was Percy Church.
Armand: That was at Willow River. That was after the war.
when did your brother ride the rods then?
Doreen: Oh 1939 , he first
came out here.
June: Oh yeah, because that was right at depression
Doreen: Depression time . Hundreds and hundreds of them , but he
was very lucky actually He got through there, barely unscathed. He
could have died very easily many times, especially in the tunnels
because he knew nothing about railway travel and the tunnels in the
mountains or anything else and of course, fortunately for him there
were older and wiser men on the trains and they told him he better get
off the top and into a box car some where to get through those tunnels
he said even though they laid on the floor, face down on the
floor, their faces buried in their coats, they nearly suffocated with
June: Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
Doreen: Yeah and he
said it was just the co-operation between these men that he made it
through at all, you know. But it was quite an experience . He just made
the trip on this excursion that they have going now through the
mountains. He took that trip and took his daughter and her family. He
said “the last time I went on this trip” he said “I traveled pretty
poorly” . He said “I think its time I traveled in style this time ”.
(Laughter) He really enjoyed that trip.
Armand: He said “ I rode on the
outside. This time I’ll ride on the inside”.
Doreen: I’ll travel on the
inside. Yeah. He was telling them, some of the members of the
crew, the story about him traveling on the rods on the way out here.
Oh they were just so intrigued with this story of his trip through the
mountains. He thoroughly enjoyed the excursion that they took
It was the Rocky Mountaineer.
June: That's the name of the train
Doreen: It goes through... they stopped in Kamloops
Armand: They stopped in Kamloops
June: They're running again now hey?
Didn't they take them off for awhile?
Doreen: I don't recall.
Not that I know of.
June: That would be a neat trip to take.
Doreen: Well he thoroughly enjoyed it. They
treated him like a V.I.P. Gave him all kinds of souvenirs of the
train and gave him things to take home. It was so funny.
figured he deserved it hey?
Doreen: So hard riding up here on the
boxcars I guess they figured they should treat him well. Yeah its
strange. What one can do with their life hey?
June: Some of those
things that they did to ....brave , they were really brave in the old
days. They’re brave now too I mean but it was a different kind of brave
. They're crazy now.
Doreen: They're crazy....
They had to do the things before.
Doreen: That's right.
seen when I was going to school there, in the early 30's , the hobos
used to be off the boxcars down by the river 50-60 of them to a hundred
June: Is that right hey?
Armand: They'd throw their packs and jump off
, but their jungle used to be where the railroad is now . Used to be a
June: Oh is that right?
Armand: They used to have tarps
and blankets and cardboard shacks
Doreen: They usually got kicked off
the railway about the bridge because the CN police wouldn't let
them stay on the trains. They didn't want them coming into the town
site at all.
June: And I guess if some of the crew was good but if they
were mean they would have a terrible time.
Armand: Well the crew
couldn't afford to be mean because if they did they wouldn't survive.
June: No, a bunch of hobos who weren't going to have their minds
Doreen: But it was the same all across the country. I
remember I was just a little girl and my mom, we always lived close to
the tracks, we were always within a block or less of the tracks and I
can remember, it was main line CPR out there and my mom fed hundreds of
men. My mom, every time the train, like our station was a major station
and they stopped for refueling and re-watering and the train stopped
a considerable time , there was a multi tracks in our station and
they'd pile off these trains and they'd run to the houses all along the
sides of the track and they'd ask you if they could work in your garden
or cut your wood or haul water or whatever they could do for something
to eat and I've seen my mom cut
up loaves and loaves and loaves of bread , you know all she could
to give them was bread and jam . She never had meat or anything she
could get them but she'd make sandwiches out of anything she had to
feed these men. We had a big wooden platform at our back door I
and she always kept the back screen door locked . She would take all
these sandwiches out and they'd sit around the wooden platform and eat
their sandwiches but they'd always ask if there was something they
could do for you in payment for their food. And it was very ... it was
a thing that stayed in my mind. You know, like I say I was very small
when this was going on and I can remember it so clearly yet, all these
men that were riding on those trains and I mean at our end of the town
like the station was a quarter of a mile off from us so it would be the
boxcars and back half of the train that would stop down by our place
and it really makes an impression on you. But they were good people,
most of them.
June: They didn't mean no harm , they were just
Doreen: No they needed something to eat. Hard times for everybody
but you did what you could for each other, that's all.
Armand: We had
one old guy, he used to camp in the bush here somewhere and he
was an Italian, they called him “Spaghetti guy ”and he used to come
and help my dad with the haying and Mom always gave him some food to
take back to his little cabin. He was camped back in the bush there. We
always had lots. Mother had canned meat , butter, all kinds of stuff,
but he always done something for it.
Doreen: Well its such a
noticeable change, isn't it in such a comparatively short time ? Where
they didn't mean you any harm but they would always try to do something
for you in return for whatever you did for them. Nowadays they just
plow your door in and take what they want.
June: Yeah, beat you up and
Doreen: Yeah its a sad deterioration.
Armand: Well you know
them people although they were all hobos, bums or whatever you want to
call it, they had a code of etiquette among themselves and if somebody
in that crowd spoiled it for the rest of them they usually
knocked him off one way or the other. He didn't
Armand: I can still remember we
had a railway conductor here that was I guess pretty over-bearing with
the hobos and somewhere along the line here they locked him up in an
empty boxcar . It was in the winter time and they found him in Prince
June: Frozen , I guess hey?
Armand: Yeah, yeah in an empty
boxcar and that was it. So it just didn't pay to misbehave. But they
their own code and they lived by it . Just like a club, you know and if
one spoiled it for the other guys, you know, it just didn't
June: Well sure, because if one did something wrong...
They all get a bad name.
June: Nobody would trust them and they
wouldn't get no help
Doreen: Well my Mom always said, and I
always remember her saying, like the people in town that lived right in
town, we were sort of on the outskirts of town. She ...They always
seemed to look down on a lot of those of us who helped these people and
said that we shouldn't be giving them our food, we had several kids to
feed, what are we doing feeding all these other people but my mother
always said “ Look I have five sons of my own and she said I don't know
when they're going to need help and you know that was her principle and
her way of looking at it and she ended up hoping that her sons would
get the same kind of help because there was nothing for the boys
except to work on the farm in that area. They didn't have a chance of a
job in that home town so they had to leave town to get work and they
traveled any way they could travel and there was no doubt, many times
when they needed a helping hand .
Armand: Well we had a funny thing
happen that time too. My dad got this one guy to stay and his name was
Henry Jenner and he was from Port Coquitlam and he was with
us, I don't know, for a
few months I guess, but then now one night there was a knock on
the door around midnight . Of course my dad went out to see who it was
and of course the usual thing, the guy was needing something to eat so
he let him in and fed him, cooked him some eggs and bacon or something
and it turned out that his brother was sleeping upstairs.
Doreen: Isn't that weird?
Armand: So he stayed two,
three days and visited with his brother and .............
was a happy time for him hey?
Armand: Yeah because they hadn't seen
each other for quite a few years.
June: So that would be that Jenners
Armand: Yeah it was his brother
Doreen: Yeah and there
was another old fellow that got off the railway and came to help your
dad too . Old Gene Nightingale
Armand: Yeah well he was
Doreen: And he was looking for work or. He stayed for what,
Armand: About a year and a half.
Doreen: And strangely enough
they became life-long friends of ours Yeah he and his wife well he
wasn't married at that time but he was married later and they came back
to this area to live . They lived down in Quesnel and various places.
They were good friends with
Armand: And they've been good friends of ours
right up until he passed away just a few years back and she's still
living in Salmon Arm . We're still good friends with her. Yeah its
funny how you make friends in various ways.
come in to your life in various ways .
Armand: She's going to be up
here in about a month.
Doreen: Yes, she's coming up to visit us in
Armand: She's in her nineties I guess
Doreen: Yeah, she was
ninety last birthday. That's great.
June: Sounds like she's doing good
if she's ninety and still travels around .
Doreen: Oh she does
remarkably well. She has a terribly bad back condition and has a
dreadful time because of all the hard work she's had to do all her life
and yet she still walks every day. She's got one of these big walkers
with a built-in seat on the front and she walks every day down town in
Salmon Arm to do her shopping.
June: With her walker?
Doreen: Yeah and
she comes back home, goes out every day.
June: That's good.
Yes, she's really active. She runs circles around me I keep saying I
wish I’d be as active as her, half her age.
Armand: I always tell her
“You're a tough old hen” (Laughter)
Doreen: Tough old hen, yeah.
She is too. She carried moose out of the bush when she was young.
Doreen: Oh my, the work she's done.
June: And they lived around here
then did they?
Doreen: They lived here for awhile. They lived in
Quesnel. They moved quite a lot.
Armand: They had a homestead just up
the Nechako River there. Mile 3. Three miles from town, up the Nechako
for awhile. They never stayed long in one place.
Doreen: He was a
traveler. He had itchy feet. He had to move regularly. Strange
Armand: He always found a reason why he had to move.
Doreen: Yeah, it was strange he moved from here to there.
his blood. It was in his blood.
Doreen: Yeah and then they lived in
Agassiz for awhile and Chilliwack.
Armand: They moved twice right in
Salmon arm. One end of town to the other.
June: They just like moving
Armand: Yeah well she's moved twice now since she's been in town.
Doreen: Strange. I don't know what it would be like to move.
Yeah, you've been here so long hey? How many years have you been
Doreen: I've been here since ‘63, ‘62.
Armand: On this place here
Doreen: Well not on this place
Armand: Oh hell
Doreen: On the
Armand: We moved up here in ‘65.
Doreen: Yeah, in this house,
but I've been here since ‘62.
June: And you must have been here from
...well back and forth... from the time you were a kid till ....
Doreen: Well 3 1/2 years old and he came on to the homestead and
then all the journeys he took after leaving here of course, he went and
cowboyed in the Chilcotin for several years but basically this was
Armand: This has been home
June: This is where you've
always come back to.
Doreen: That's right, that's right. Of course
he's been here steady ever since he returned from the Army.
wouldn't live anywhere else.
June: No, you’ve got a really nice place
here. Pretty down here.
Armand: Pretty nice to be able to go out for a
coffee and meet somebody you know. Almost every day, you know.
I think the real blessing of it is to be able to say that you've lived
in this place for as long as you have , to be able to still go out and
walk around and not bother any other person and to have that little bit
of space around you. That is what is most important to me. You know
we've made something out of this place. We've now passed it on to our
son and Praise the Lord, he's been able to stay here too,
you know. That was a struggle with the ALR situation being what it is
been able to stay here and I mean that has been Armand’s life. I think
that that, would have ended his life to leave this place so you know,
we have lots to be thankful for. And when you've lived in a place as
long as you have its not easy to make that change and I really, I
understand that having worked with Senior citizens for as many years as
I have. The transition with those people is dreadful when they have to
leave the place they've lived in all their lives or for great
and go into a care facility and first two weeks tells the story, if
they're going to survive or not and its very, very difficult for most
of them. And here this way he can still go out there and set a fence
post if he wants to, or look after the cattle and see who's calving and
who's not and that . He doesn't have to do it all. He can do what he
still enjoys doing and that's great. You cant ask for much more than
June: No. That's good. You have your son here that's good
because you can stay here right till the end
Doreen: That's right, and
Armand: We have a daughter that lives here too.
That's what we're hoping for. If we can continue to put one foot ahead
of the other we will do that. (Laugh)
June: Yeah. I suppose I better not
keep you all night here.
Doreen: Well we've enjoyed talking to
Armand: Well I stay here. I live here. (Laugh)
June: Yeah, you stay
Armand: I'm sorry, I'm not that good
............................ Tape off.