Interview with Bea
history of Prince George continues to emerge through the work of
students and the dedicated group of staff and volunteers at the Prince
Oral History Group. In order
for the Oral History Club to exist, there must be candidates who are
participate and share their histories.
I am grateful to Bea Dezell for allowing me to come into her
record her life’s history. She is a
testament to the pioneer spirit of the women who helped shape our
community. Her graciousness and her
willingness to share her story has made this a truly rewarding
me. Thank you, Bea.
the manuscript would not
be possible without the dedicated people who assist in putting the
transcript together. Special thanks to
Kathy Plett, at CNC, who offers her time to index our transcriptions. An index is a key element in saving time
when doing historical research. Thanks to Ernie Kaesmodel for
the time to share his knowledge and expertise on the ‘art’ of Oral
History. This transcription would not have
been completed without the help of Elaine Hauck. Her
support, encouragement and knowledge have been a key factor
in the successful completion of Bea’s transcription.
Many thanks, Elaine.
Denise Trick, July 2, 2004
Tape One – Side A
This is Denise Torgerson of the Prince
George Oral History Group. These interviews are with Bea Dezell, who
arrived in Prince George in 1946. These interviews were taped in May
and June of 2004. Bea’s biographical history is woven in with her story.
Denise: So, your dad started working in Montreal at fourteen years
Bea: At fourteen he worked in the dairy farm, and, so then he, my
mother, the oldest of eleven, and her name was Johns, and she was sent
out to apprentice to a tailor in Montreal. And that’s where my mom and
dad met. And, so, they got married later and came to Vancouver right
after Vancouver had the big fire, burnt down.
Denise: Do you know what
year that was?
Bea: It would be 18, somewhere in the later 18’s, and
so, that’s where they settled, in Vancouver. Dad got into a wire
working business. So, then my brother, five years older than I, but
when I was four, we moved to North Vancouver, from Vancouver, and there
was just all bush and logging roads, and well, my brother and I used to
play at these old type of mill places where there was a pond where they
used to haul the logs up to process them.And of course, we had a small
farm, about an acre, and that’s where I grew up. So, I went to school.
First off I went to school in the city school, but because we were two
blocks out of the city, I had to go then down to the district school.
Which was a long way, must have been a couple of miles, down in
Linmore. And, so then when, say grade eight, I guess, I went to Lynn
Valley school, and then to High school. I had two years high school,
and then I went to work. So, I worked in a Real Estate office then, in
North Vancouver, for a few years, and my boss died with a heart attack.
So, after that I had other various jobs. I work in Real Estate in
Vancouver, and then for a Collection Agency. I worked for the lawyer,
in the Collection Agency. I learned to serve summonses.
Bea:So, it was kind of a fun job too, as well. And then the
depression hit of course and my Aunt needed somebody in Williams Lake
come up and help her. She, they had a barbershop, poolroom and
parlor. And they always had the concessions for the stampede, and so,
she phoned and asked if I could come up and help her for the summer.
So, my brother, and at that time I was engaged to Garvin, and so, the
three of us came to Williams Lake.
Bea: So, we worked all
summer. My husband worked in the, round, in carpentry work and one
thing or another. He wasn’t my husband at that time. My brother worked
At haying, and I worked helped my aunt. All through the summer, the
stampede and then, in the fall, Garvin had a chance to work for Bill
Orr to build, help build the Overwaitea in Williams Lake. I said “Well,
if you’re going to be up here all winter, lets go down and get married
and come back,” so that’s what we did.
Denise: So you asked him to marry
Bea: We had our house in everything all in North Vancouver ready,
but, because of the depression, you know, we lost it. We couldn’t keep
up the payments on the mortgage and stuff. So, anyway, we got married,
we went down and got married and came back. That was in November
1932, came back to Williams Lake. That’s how I got to the
Denise: There you go.
Bea: Yeah. Then we stayed first in a
little cabin that belonged to my Aunt. And it was down by the lake. We
had to go chop a hole in the ice to get water, outside plum- bing. I
had to be careful every night to empty the kettle, or it would freeze,
full of ice. Had an airtight heater. Very primitive and everything, so,
you know, but, oh Such a lot of fun we had. The butcher would come with
his team of horses and the bells, and you know, we’d go for sleigh
rides and. Nobody had much money, but somebody would find a few cookies
and make some coffee, and one thing another. We’d end up, really, we
had a great time. (Laughter)
Denise: Sounds wonderful.
Bea: It was really
fun. And then the fellow that Garvin had worked for wanted to go back
to Chilliwack, this was Bill Orr. And he asked Garvin, cause he had the
Auto-Court in Williams Lake, and he said to Garvin, “If you’d like to
take over and pay up the bills on the Auto-Court, then you can have
it.” So, we talked it over and we thought, sure we’d do that. So,
in April we moved up to the Auto-Court, which is where the Travel Lodge
Bea: And so, anyway, to get a bit of cash, and one
thing another, we’d put on Saturday night dances. And we supplied the
food. It’s the only thing we could charge for. and took up a collection
for the musicians, which were just pick ups from around town. Like a
musician, a fiddler, and a drum and a piano. And so, we’d take up a
collection for them, but these sandwiches that we made, we’d sell them.
I made great big slab cakes, chocolate and a white, and then all these
sandwiches we made, we’d serve them, put on paper plates. A sandwich
and a half and two pieces of cake. We sold it for twenty-five cents.
(Laughter) And so, that was part way through the dance, we’d sell that
and then I know how many cups you can get out of a pound of coffee—it’s
a hundred. And so that’s what we- sold the coffee and the sandwiches,
that was for twenty-five cents. (Coughing) That’s how we made some
Denise: That’s so wonderful.
Bea: You better stop that for a
minute, cause I’d better get a drink.
Bea: Then, after that we, at least
Garvin dealt with Mr. Mackenzie, who had the General Store in Williams
Lake. And he, Wells was starting to go. And he asked him if he’d
like to go into Wells into the store there. So that’s what he did, and
I stayed and ran the Auto-Court. We called it Auto-Court in those days.
Now it’s a motel.
Denise: Yes right, okay.
Bea: And then, so then 1935
Cliff was born in Williams Lake. It was just like an out-post hospital.
Everybody was in the one bedroom, like one room. Natives and
everything. Anyway, then Garvin went into Wells, and he built the place
for Mr.Mackenzie, but the, Wells was starting to go, and there was lots
of work there.And so, in 1937 my mother came up from North Vancouver,
and took over the Auto-Court, and she had the same deal as what we had.
We just let her take it overand pay the bills or whatever, look after
it. So, and I went into Wells, moved in to Wells. So I was in Wells
from 1937, to 1940. I was expecting Noreen, and so, because, we didn’t
really know what we were going to do, I lived in the trailer in
Kamloops, so I’d have the same doctor that I had when Cliff was born.
He had gone to Scotland and taken Post- Graduate work, and then come
back to Kamloops.So I was in a homemade trailer in Kamloops. And we had
a girl stay so that she could stay with Cliff when I went to the
hospital. So, anyway, after, oh, I was there about a month I guess, and
then I had Noreen. And I was there for, we moved then up into rooms for
about two weeks. And then I came back to Quesnel, and Garvin had built
a house there. So, I never did go back to Wells to live. I lived in
Quesnel. And I was in Quesnel from 1940 to 1946. And then of course
Prince George was starting to boom. So Garvin was doing, building here.
And of course, his dad had come up North Vancouver, and his dad was in
with him, so, in those days it was called J. N. Dezell and Son. And so,
then in 46 we moved up here into Prince. And I don’t recall exactly.
You know, I had been to Prince quite a few times, Garvin played ball
and hockey and all that kind of stuff, and golf. So I had been here.
But it was a very small place and dirt roads, and wooden sidewalks and
you know, just a small town.
Bea: I think there were about,
maybe in that time, about three thousand people.
Cliff was going, he was, he was eleven years old and Noreen, and so he
was away at school, but I know Noreen had her sixth birthday
Denise: Oh okay. What school did he go to here?
Bea: Cliff just
went across here. What do you call it.
Denise: Duchess Park?
George Jr. Sr. Secondary
Bea: And then Noreen started
school here too. You better shut that off for a bit. (Laughter)
You’ll probably get that in there.
Denise: So the first house you lived
in was the house next door to here.
Bea: Yes, yes, and because it was
war time, Garvin was on the war effort. And when we moved into that
house, all there was a stand pipe in the kitchen, the bathroom was
usable, the bedroom and Noreen, we had to put her crib in the
Denise: Oh is that right?
Bea: No cupboards, no anything. So we
just moved into it unfinished. Because, we couldn’t get the
Denise: Do you want to talk about that a little bit? Did
everything go, was it all sent away?
Bea: No, just wasn’t available,
that’s all, because it was being used for like the wartime houses here,
and all that kind of thing, and After that you know, Garvin started to
build all over the place, like in Vanderhoof and up on the Alaska
Highway, Hazelton. Built schools and buildings and houses and, you
know, whatever was available to do. I’m trying to think.
Denise: Yes, I
know, that must have been an interesting, well, what did you do well he
was away building? Did you have a lot of friends in Prince George?
Oh yes, I had friends, and anyway I had my family. That’s all I ever
wanted to do, was live long enough to raise my family. I never intended
to go back to work at all.
Denise: Oh is that right?
Bea: After a bit,
Garvin’s dad wanted to retire, so we sold everything we could possibly
sell to get enough money to pay him off. So, then Garvin says to me, “I
guess you’re going to have to go back to work and keep the books.
And I said, “I don’t want to go back to work.” (Laughter) So, anyway,
we talked it over with Noreen and that and that she would have to do
certain things, and not be running the streets after school and that.
She had to come home and everything. And besides Garvin bought me a
little car. I could come and go, and get her away in the morning, and
you know, make her breakfast. and then at lunch I’d come home at about
11:00 to get her lunch. And she would always, I’d leave things ready,
and she’d get the dinner on the way.
Bea: She wasn’t allowed
to go out unless I was home. She had to stay in. So, that’s the way we
managed. But of course once I went back to work, I didn’t want to quit.
(Laughter) I wasn’t the same. So, then, it went on for quite a while.
We of course got more on our feet and was able to hire a carpenter
staff, but I still went down, and I was the secretary and I was one of
the signing officers. So, I was very happy to work. And of course as
Noreen was growing up too. Which was easier.
Cliff was away to University. So, anyway.
Denise: What, did you belong
to clubs or anything like that when the kids were growing up?
yes, oh yes. The church circles and you know, Knox church had, I don’t
know, quite a few circles and we did different things. I was very
active in the Girl Guide Program too. And I had Brownies. I started out
with Brownies and. I don’t know It just seemed like it was a really
busy life. And of course, Garvin got into politics, at least, local
politics. We’d always been interested in politics, even my own family.
And so, he ran as an Alderman first, and he got in for one Year. And
then Mayor Nicholson quit, and the city clerk was running as Alderman,
no, he was running as Mayor, the city clerk. That was Mr. Fraser. Then
he, let’s see, Garvin decided he’d run as Mayor against him. And so, he
did, and Garvin made it, he got in. And he was Mayor for quite a few
years, off and on. And that was a most interesting life, because we did
lots of traveling, did lots of conventions, and everything, and met a
lot of very, very interesting people. And while I saw most of, most of
Canada through all the conventions you know.
Bea: But our
first trip was to Chicago. That was, at that time it was, international
I guess because there was people from Australia and everywhere. And
that was the last Year they had that. The Federation of Mayors, or
something. And after that it was just national.
Denise: Okay, so what
was the convention for?
Bea: It was like for the Mayors and
municipal things and. You see now they have theUBCM. That’s the Union
of B.C. Municipalities. And they meet once a Year at the conventions,
and all the Mayors and as many Aldermen as can afford to go, go to
there, and they go there and discuss their problems. But the men were
always busy of course, the Mayors and Aldermen and stuff. But the women
had a great time. (Laughter) It was always lots of good things for us
to do. We just had a, you know, luncheons and everything and
Denise: Oh that must have been exciting.
Bea: Yes it was. Like, we
had visitors here like Vincent Massey (Governor General of Canada) and
then St. Laurent (Prime Minister of Canada) and oh, different
government people, like Pearson and Diefenbaker.
Denise: Did you meet
all these people?
Bea: Oh yes, yes, so. I never really met
Trudeau, but I was at the rally for him. But I never met him. He was
different. Turn that off. (Laughter)
Denise: So Garvin was
the Mayor for four years. Do you know what made him decide to run as a
Mayor? [This was actually his first two terms, 1950 – 1953. He was also
the mayorfrom 1960 – 1969.]
Bea: Well, when he was in North Vancouver,
he was on, at eighteen, he was on the School Board, so he was always
interested in politics. And because he was an alderman here, that one
year, and the city was in more or less, kind of financial I don’t know
what you’d call it – trouble, or what. But, they didn’t have enough
money or something so when he got in as Mayor. He put an improvement
tax on. which helped, because there wasn’t enough money to take care of
the things that had to be done in the town. So, but he always was
interested in politics and he liked being Mayor, and I think he was
good at it, because, he decided that he’d try and keep the town more or
less compact. But every little subdivision that they opened, he wanted
to put a little green belt in it. He didn’t want this town to spread
out. He thought that for tax wise and all that. Maintenance, it was
better if it stayed more compact. And he had a very good city manager
at that time. Which was Aaron Thompson.
Bea: Anyway he,
his city staff were just great, and that helped a lot. So after we
bought Dad out, then he had to go back and run the business. And so,
then for six years, yes, six years, there was Gordon Bryant, Carrie
Jane Gray, and Johnnie Morrison. They each had two years as
Mayor. And then by that time Garvin had taken in a partner, so then he
felt he could give a bit more time to the city again. So, he ran again.
And was in for, I think it was, I know it was two other two Year terms,
or a third, or three.
Denise: Yes, my husband said he was in for two or
three, quite a long time.
Bea: Yes, he was. That was such an interesting
time of my life. I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved going to the
conventions and, you know, meeting people from all over, and we got to
be a little group of ladies there. There was Kim Wing from Kamloops,
Nelly from Maple Ridge, Nelly Janouwin, and Milly from in the
Kootenays, and then, Nelly Brown from Victoria, who was the Deputy
Minister’s wife. And there was a couple of more of us. We always would
get together, every convention. We just had the greatest time. Yeah, I
loved it, and I liked entertaining the people when they came to town.
And we did have one UBC convention here. That was great too. So, but,
the conventions got so big that they always have them in Vancouver
Denise: Okay, okay.
Bea: And the city manager that was there when
Garvin was Mayor was Aaron Thompson. And he was just great. Ted Kent
was there too. And Ted Kent, being English, he was very good to know
all the protocol that we had to do if we were entertaining people.
Denise: Oh okay, I was wondering.
Bea: It was on the straight and
narrow. (Chuckles) Made sure that we did things right. But he was
the clerk. His wife is Peggy. I think she just died recently, Peggy
Denise: Yes, yup
Bea: So, he was great. Well all the city
people and I think Peter Petello was in there too, at that time. So
they were all very, very helpful and good.
Denise: Did you, as a wife,
did you have input into the city?
Bea: No, no, oh no, I didn’t do
anything like that. I just looked after people if they came to town, or
something like that, or at that time, I could drive, so I could pick
people up and take them places. My sight was okay. So that’s what I
did. No I was so happy all the time Garvin was in there, but the last
term he wasn’t very well. I just said to him, “ I don’t think you
should run again. But he wanted to, so he did, he got in and after that
of course, that’s when he was not at all well. So, in ’72 he died. He’d
been in the hospital since from November till February.
So, I’ve been alone since ’72.
Bea: Yeah, in February
Denise: So, I just want to go back a little bit, when we were
talking about meeting all the dignitaries. What were some of your
impressions of some the people that you met?
Bea: I liked Lester Pearson
very much, Diefenbaker too, was quiet. His wife was a very quiet
person, I felt. Kind of kept to herself more or less, she didn’t seem
to be as outgoing as some of them that I’d met. But I loved meeting
Vincent Massey. I think his granddaughter came with him. And we drove
them all over Prince George and showed them, and of course. Then Vanier
too. I think we met him too. I think he came to Prince George, but, St.
Laurent too, came to Prince George. And there is a picture that we had
that I gave to the museum, with him and the Boy Scouts are the honour
guard. And they came in a DC3, in those days. You know, the old
airplanes. No I, although I didn’t have as much to do with them
as Garvin had. But, I enjoyed meeting them. Then, so.
Diefenbaker, I got the impression that he was sort of gruff. Was he
Bea: Yes, he was, yes he was, and, you know I didn’t have,
I just met them, and that’s all really, so I didn’t really have to much
to do with them.
Bea: You know, cause we would go like
maybe put on a tea for them. And you know,like maybe I would sit next
to his wife or something, at a banquet, or something like that, but,
you don’t get much out of them. So, I think that um. It was
interesting. That’s about all I can tell you about that.
Denise: How did
you like the winters in Prince George?
Bea: The winters?
Bea: I love them.
Denise: Do you?
Bea: Yeah. Now I can’t get around,
I’m afraid of the ice. But years ago I always liked them. I’ve never
been much good in winter sports, but when we were in Wells, I skied,
everybody cross- country skied.
Bea: But, when I came Prince
George, I guess I was too busy. I didn’t get out. And besides that,
Garvin was so busy with every thing, sports and politics, that I felt,
somebody had to stay home with the family. (Laughter)
Bea: So, I did.
Bea: So. I didn’t do much at all
in the sports or anything. No, I like the winters. I like the
Denise: Do you?
Bea: Yeah, I like the outdoors. Rather
than doing things inside, I’d rather be outside.
is there anything else?
Denise: Oh I’m just, because, for myself
personally, I remember being a little girl, and, you know, the schools
being closed and 40 below, and when you’re little, you don’t really
think about those things, it’s just a day off. But I wonder how parents
dealt that, and you know just, just so cold. (Laughter)
Bea: Oh I
know, it was very cold. We haven’t had cold winters like that for years
now. and, at one time, when they’d bring the cars or the trucks home at
night, they’d take the batteries out and take them into the
house. Because it was so cold. And of course, I don’t think there was
anti-freeze in those days. You had to drain the water out of the
radiator, and so, put it in in the morning. Oh yeah, it was kind of
difficult. And you’d go out to dances or something, and open the doors
into the hall, the steam would come in. It would be just like a fog.
Yeah, it was really… I don’t know, but I never minded it. I mean it was
just part of it. I don’t know, I just. I like Prince George. I like it.
Of course now, with my vision impairment, I, about all I can do is go
and shovel the snow. I don’t do much walking.
Denise: You’re still
Bea: I shovel the walks. But then there hasn’t been
much. Years ago, when I shoveled. it was over my head, when I
shoveled the walks. I couldn’t even throw it up over the bank, but now,
it’s just nothing. So, it’s sure changed a lot. It’s so mild here now.
But, we never let the weather bother us very much. We kept doing
things. And of course, we had the cabin. Of course the kids spent
a lot of time out there.
Denise: Where is your cabin?
Bea: At Tabor. We
called it Six Mile Lake. But now they call it Tabor. So, it was all
bush and swamp when we first went out there. Noreen was about twelve, I
think when we first bought it. We had built it originally, just a shell
for Mr. Bateman, who owned Right Way Cleaners, at that time. He, was, I
saw him One day when I was in the bank, and he said something about he
sold the Right Way Cleaners. And I said, “Where are you going?”
And he said, “I’m going to move to Kelowna.” And I said, “What are you
going to do with your cabin?” He says, “Oh, it’s up for sale.” END OF
Denise: So, you said, you’d buy it?
Bea: Yeah, I told Mr.
Bateman, I said, “ I’ll buy it.” Of course I came home and told
Garvin I had said I’d buy the cabin, And he said, “What do you want
that thing for?” But you know who enjoyed it the most? Was
Denise: Is that right?
Bea: Yeah, and of course, we were both
driving at that time. And I was still working in the office, more or
less. And, so, but we used to spend from about April till November out
there. And, we had an old heater in the place, so it was warm enough.
But, I tell you, the kids sure enjoyed it. They had a water ski club
out there. And Noreen and all her friends, and. There must have been,
I’d say, five or six, or eight, or something like that. You know, these
grown up kids, almost. and they really enjoyed it. And they had the ski
jump and they had the slalom course, and all the rest of it. And, so,
but, as time went on we gradually improved the cabin, and the land
around it, because it was all swamp and everything. All around
Denise: So, the lake was, it seems like a big lake to me.
It’s not very big.
Bea: No, but it’s pretty.
Bea: Very pretty, lots of green.
Denise: So how did you
spend your day at the lake?
Bea: Well, I don’t know it just seemed like
I always had a garden, and there always seemed to be company, and
Noreen was very good when her group came out. She and the rest of them
always took care of everything that, you know, what ever was to do with
food or what ever. So, no, it was—oh, I just loved it, just loved it.
For quite a while, of course, I came in everyday to work too. But, we
entertained quite a bit out there too, because at that time Garvin was
mayor. So, sometimes he’d say, “We’re bringing so and so out for
dinner.” Well, I was driving, so I could come in and get whatever I had
to if I didn’t have it out there. No, we had lots of groups out there.
I still have groups out there. Right now I have three I know of that
are coming, and maybe more. They use the cabin. It’s well used.
So, how did that work? You’d get up in the morning out there, come into
town, work until 5:00 and then go back out?
Bea: Cook supper out
there. Oh yeah. And then, we’d be packing up to come in, and the snow
would be flying and everything. (Laughter) So, by that time we had
moved from that place, down to the far-side of the duplex here. After
the children got married, I thought, we don’t need the big house any
more, and so, we built the duplex, and moved over to the far side,
first off. (Laughter)Of course, the grandchildren started arriving. And
so, nothing was large enough anymore, so, then we built a house up on
Dezell Drive. Which was a really nice house, it over looked the
Nechako. And when Garvin was sick. I just didn’t feel like staying
there by myself any more, because this was the part where my friends
were. Down here. So I decided to come back down here. So then the
people were out of this side, so we moved into here. But Garvin really
never lived back here, because he was in the hospital and so on. No, I
still like it except I can’t drive and I can’t get out there whenever I
want to go. I really miss not being able to get in the car and go out
to the lake. Cause I love. I love it out there.
Denise: Do you still
have a lot of friends that live out there?
Bea: Well, yes, but mostly my
friends from here come out.
Bea: You know, from town, they
come out. There’s not many people, the Wests live close by, and then
Ian Evans lives next door, then the Moffats are through the bush a bit.
There’s a flat through there. No I have my friends come out from here.
Come out for lunch, or coffee, or whatever, so I usually have lots of
company. And then of course, when the grandchildren were growing up
they were out there all, too, so, so that was good. And I think it was
good for all the children too. Even Noreen and her group. Then the
grandchildren. I think it was good to have some where like that to go.
I think it’s a good way to raise children. I think it’s really
wonderful to, and even Ross and Mike and Tammy, who were the
three oldest, they used to, of course it was all bush. They used to
figure it was a jungle, and they’d be up in there, as little kids you
know. Nowadays, you just don’t seem to let children do those
Denise: That’s true
Bea: Now… then, they had the greatest
time, and I have an old movie camera and they’d take that and make
(Laughter) and make the silliest pictures you know. Of course the two
youngest children Kathleen and Vicki. Now, Kathleen is Noreen’s
youngest and Vicki is Cliff’s youngest. And they didn’t spend as much
time out there as these three older ones. They are very close, because
they had, and their cousins you see, there’s, like Tammy and Ross are
Noreen’s [and Jim’s] and Mikeis Cliff and Sharon’s, so, they are very
close even yet, cause they spent a lot of time together.
Bea: That was a great place, and I still love it. I
just, if I had some way I could get out there whenever I felt like
going, you know. But it’s very difficult get out. Cause, when I was
driving, I could just go for two hours, or whatever, just take a run
out there and see how things are going, but when you don’t drive and
you depend on somebody else it’s very difficult. That’s about all I can
tell you about the cabin. I don’t know except I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It’s the best thing I ever bought.
Denise: Yeah, yeah, oh, that’s good,
Bea: Is this thing still on?
Denise: Oh yeah it’s
Bea: I never know.
Denise: Yeah, tell me a little bit about the
Good Cheer Club. You told me a little bit the other day, but
Oh, yeah, well it was the first club that was I think started in
Central. Before there was any Prince George, in 1922, and it
Denise: Where was Central?
Bea: Well, up where the bypass is
Bea: That was Central. And there used to be a big
water tower up there too. Somewhere where you go down to go to the
bridge, but, there was no Prince George really, as such, in those days.
It was just starting.
Bea: And but it started by this group
of ladies, and they decided they would try and bring good cheer to, to
whoever they thought needed it. And during the war, they sentpackages
[hand made and knitted items] all the time, and of course, they had
their constitution and their own rules, and things that had to be
abided by. And, but, the minutes of that, of them, Um let’s see, I
think they’re in the museum. And, it tells you, and oh, they’re most
interesting. Anybody that wants to know anything about the Good Cheer.
And there is a tape made by Floss Moffat, now that’s Harold Moffat’s
Bea: It’s in the library.
has set down most everything about it. And when person, they are
limited to twenty people and if somebody moves away or dies, then you
can invite another person to join, but they don’t take in more than
Bea: Except they have a few on the inactive list,
the ones that are like say, in Simon Fraser, or something. Yeah. I
don’t know, you could get most of the history from this, from all this
Denise: What are some of the things that you do in this Good
Bea: Well, we have two garage sales a year, which, held at
the Moose Hall. They’re quite large garage sales. We make seven or
eight hundred dollars in that. And then we have a raffle, so that
makes around three hundred dollars I think. We donate our money, as
much as we can, to the Salvation Army and the Child Development. We
look after their library. To any, lots of other little things like
Cancer, or most anything local, we donate money to. But we don’t make
an awful lot of money, and so, we spread it out as best we can, but it
has to be local.
Bea: So that’s what the aim of the Good
Cheer is, anyway to bring cheer to anything local.
Denise: Okay, so do
you meet once a month or?
Bea: Yes, once a month we meet. And
usually it’s at the people’s homes. Although, this past year or so,
because I can’t get out very well in the winter, I have the meetings
here. And whoever is the hostess brings the raffle for that night. And
the one that then another person brings sandwiches, another one brings
a cake. Then they looked after the lunch. I make the tea and coffee
when it’s here, but if there’s a hostess and have it at their house,
then they look after tea and coffee and pickles.
these other people bring the food, and whoever is the hostess that
night brings the raffle for you. A house raffle.
Denise: What’s the
Bea: Well it can be anything. It has to only be
something small, you know, we make, we sell three little tickets,
numbers like for a quarter. And that money, we make about five or six
dollars in that.
Denise: Okay, so everyone that comes buys a ticket.
Oh, yeah, you have to buy a ticket. (Laughter)
So, no it’s ..
Denise: And then you raffle off homemade, something that
someone has made, or..?
Bea: You can bring anything for the raffle. The
last time, somebody who’s Joan Crow was the, supposed to be the
hostess, but she was going to Kamloops, so we had the meeting here. And
she brought a great big long sunflower. Sometimes it’s a bouquet of
flowers, sometimes, it can be anything you want to give towards the
Denise: What are some of the things that you’ve brought for the
Bea: Well mostly jam or jelly.
Bea: Because I make
Denise: Do you? What kind of jam do you make?
rhubarb, or grape, or mostly, like, I make lots of rhubarb jelly. I
just, whatever’s going, I get and make it, whatever’s in. Blackberries,
whatever I can get. Raspberries, I make lots of raspberry jam and I
make raspberry jelly, and all that kind of stuff.
that’s usually what I give when it’s my turn. So, and of course, I make
the, have the Rhubarb wine made too.
Denise: Oh, do you?
Bea: Yes, I save
all my rhubarb, all year.
Bea: And then I have it
taken over to the Hobby Brew. And the girls like that for a hostess
[gift] (Laughter) too. So, when we have, like we’ll be having on the
fifteenth the Good Cheer party, or barbeque at the lake. And, of course
I make a punch and I have the rhubarb juice which I’ve put a bit of
sugar with and then I put that in the punch bowl and pour ginger ale
over it, so that’s the punch. But I also take some of my rhubarb wine
out. Of course a lot of them like the wine too.
Denise: A little
Bea: Yes, yes, so, no, anything I can do I do. I always
have, and then usually, in the Spring every ear, what I have left in
jams and jellies and all that type of thing, I bring it up in a basket
and just put it here on the table and let them help themselves. To
what’s left. Because I like to start a fresh batch every ear. I don’t
like it. And if I have too much left over, I just give it to the
Denise: Oh, that’s nice.
Bea: Start fresh, so, but,
because I like the outdoors I guess is why I like to do all These
things and collect up the, all the fruit I can. People give me crab
apples, and, I take the juice, I’ve got a freezer full of juice right
now, to start, in the, you know in about August, I guess. So I’ll make
lots more stuff. And I bring over pulp from Hawaii of passion fruit.
Get the passion fruit there and then freeze it. And then when it starts
to freeze it for a bit, and then it’s easier to scoop, as it’s thawing,
just scoop out the center.
Bea: And so then I bring
that over. And when I get home, I take and stew it up, and get the
juice out of it. So I make passion fruit jelly too.
Bea: Yeah, so that’s a real treat.
Denise: That sounds like a REAL
Bea: Yeah it is. So,
Denise: So, I got, I got off track
‘cause I love jam and jellies, so, with the ladies in your meetings,
are they, is it an organized meeting? Or is it…
Bea: Oh yes, there’s a
president, and we keep minutes and the treasurer, the meeting, and it’s
a very controlled meeting, more or less, you know. But it’s not long
because we don’t do very much. And then of course, we have a real visit
afterwards with our tea and coffee and our food. So, it’s, it’s, I just
love it. I think they’re the greatest bunch of ladies. They seem to all
get along so well. So friendly and I don’t know, just a great
Denise: Yeah, so the other day you told me, so, I want this on, I
want this on, I want to talk about this a little bit. You don’t just,
you don’t join.
Bea: No, you don’t join. When a member moves away,
or we have an opening then names are submitted and the persons’ names
that are submitted, they are not asked to join or anything. They don’t
even know their name is being submitted and the group vote on them. The
one that, say we have space for two members. The two that get the
highest vote are written a letter, and asked if they’d like to join.
And most of them help us anyway at the rummage sales and stuff, and so,
they know pretty well what we do. But it’s set out in there what we do.
And then they’re asked if they want to join. And they can say they do
or they don’t. And so, then they come to the meetings. But usually they
have been to help us at something, that’s the ones who are usually
asked. So, but they don’t know.
Denise: They don’t know until they’re
Bea: No, they are invited. So, so, I think that’s a very
good deal, because it’s, I suppose sort of exclusive, and they don’t
want a person asked, like this one here might ask this one, and
someone, and somebody else might ask somebody else. Then you haven’t
got room for all of them.
Denise: That’s right.
Bea: So, you just have to
Denise: No hurt feelings.
Bea: No no, so anyway that’s the way
we do it.
Denise: And what’s the age group? Who’s the sort of oldest
member and who’s the youngest member?
Bea: I think I’m the oldest
member, Ellen Adams is
Denise: How old are you?
Denise: How old
Bea: I’m 95, I’ll be 96 in July. And Ellen is about 92, I
think. And I think our youngest ones are probably in their 40’s.
Bea: Yeah, we would like to get younger members, but most
young people work nowadays, women. And so, most people that we have, we
have, you know most are retired. But we have, I’d say 1,2,3, we have
about 5 that still work.
Bea: And so, when we have our
barbeque, we have to wait till 5:00, or after, so that the workers can
get out there. So, the rest of us are all getting toddled. (Laughter)
So, Anne Hoyer is the president and she does a really good job. But,
every two, I think it’s every two ears we have an election.
Bea: So, they’ll be a new president in another year I
Denise: Okay, okay
Bea: So, but there’s not that much to do.
Like Anne has quite a struggle with the rummage sale because, there’s
so much stuff comes in, and she is the one that, with a helper, she
sits, and all the dishes and everything else are brought to her. And
she prices them. Now our, like T-shirts and jeans, and stuff like that,
there’s one price, shoes, one price. So, but all this other, like
plates and cups and there might be a radio, or could be any- thing.
Anne has to sit there, look it over and price it. And so she has a big
Denise: And do you get the stuff from, just from the group?
Yes, mostly from our group and their friends. Like Noreen donates quite
a bit at different times and so do my grandchildren. And you know, and
Sharon gives me things. So, wherever we can get it. Anybody with stuff
who knows about it, and they feel like they can. And there’s always
quite a lot of books too. That we have. No it’s, I always enjoy it. I
like it. I guess I don’t do as much work as I used to. (Laughter) But I
always enjoy it. And I haven’t missed very many of them through the
years. I haven’t been away for many of them. But we usually try and set
up on Friday night, or Friday afternoon we go in there about 1:00 and
start to set up. and then a lot of the stuff is brought in Friday.
That’s if we can get the Moose Hall the night before. And then of
course, the ones of us that can work, we go up and help set up Friday,
and then the workers, the people that work, come in Friday night. And
then we’re open at 9:00 on Saturday morning 9:00 to 1:00.
oh okay. So it’s 4 hours, so it must be busy.
Bea: Yes, oh will we
be busy, it’s like a swarm when you open the door. (Laughter) People
come rushing in. Cause we try and have good stuff. We don’t try and put
any junk out. This year we had a lot of things from Dorothy MacLean,
who had to go into Simon Fraser, so we had a lot of stuff from her. And
we made extra amount of money this. But that’s only a one time thing.
Cause usually we only make around $700.00 dollars. And so that’s good
enough. What we give away.
Denise: Oh yeah, it’s wonderful
usually buy one of those flower hanging baskets too. To donate to
Denise: Okay. Oh for the city, downtown.
Denise: Oh, they’re beautiful.
Bea: So, we try and help around town
as much as we can. Different people apply at different times for help.
You know, if we feel it’s good and it’s in the town we try, if we have
the money. You’ll be able to see from the financial statements here. We
usually spend a little more than we make.
Bea: So, we have to be very careful. (Laughter)
That’s nice of you. That’s cute.
Bea: So, that’s about all I can
tell you about it.
Denise: Sounds like a wonderful thing.
is. A lot of people think because good cheer, they think it has
something to with booze. But it isn’t, It’s just that they started in
Central and helped the school and did different things. And at one time
we used to have a barbeque for Harwin, was it Harwin school. Which had
a few retarded children.
Denise: Yep, yes
Bea: We used to do that
too, but for some reason or other, they don’t, I don’t think that they
have the children there any more, do they?
Denise: No, I think the kids
are mainstreamed now into all the schools. They don’t all go to one
Bea: Yeah, for some reason they don’t do that
Denise: Sounds like you’ve had some worthy causes that
Bea: And like Mrs. Pooley, who was, like Mrs. Pooley and
Mrs, like Floss Moffat, they were the older people, the originals, and
Gertie Stevens and I think you’ll find most of them in here.
I’m just going to switch tracks completely now, and just - tell me one
of your very favorite memories about Prince George. One two or ten of
your favorite memories.
Bea: Will you turn that off for a minute?
Bea: Oh yes everything, everything has been very important to
me, my whole life, and, even when my sight started to go, you just have
to learn to cope. And I helped a lot of other people with vision
problems, and I know they get frustrated, but, you have to learn to,
just make the best of it and if you have too change and do something
different, you do. I’d never let it really bother me. I’ve had to
stop doing a lot of things that I like to do. I used to do lots of
crafts and everything, and I would learn to play the organ and a few
things like that. Then I stopped that. But I thought that if it gets so
in the winter, I can’t get out too much—this winter I’m going to take
up the computer. [Bea’s loss of sight is due to Macular
Denise: Oh good for you!
Bea: Yeah, and I have had a
couple of lessons. I can get into it, and I can whack things out.
(Laughter) But I have to, I really have to get in there, so, and I can
type anyway, so I wouldn’t have that problem. I would like to, only be
able to write letters and things like that. I don’t care about the
Bea: But, now, I think they have computers
for us vision impaired people, that our sight- or, you can talk to
them. And I think they will come on, or do certain things, and they’ll
read to you.
Bea: So, I have had a couple of lessons down at
CNIB, but I’m going to do that in the fall. In the summer, I like to do
other things. In the fall I’ll get a computer.
Denise: I was going to
ask, when did you lose your sight?
Bea: About fifteen years ago,
around there I think. It’s been very gradual though. and I notice that,
for a long time it was quite stable. I have quite a bit of Periphial
vision, and I manage to get around. But the last while, I think it’s
starting to go again.
Bea: I guess there’s spasms when
Bea: You know, when sometimes it goes and sometimes
it stays, more or less stable. And, but, you know, it’s made a, made
changes in my life, but, I still do lots of things.
Bea: The only thing that’s slowing me down is this, my legs
are not as good as they were. You know, to get around. I feel I like to
go with people now, instead Of by myself.
Bea: I used
to walk a lot by myself and everything, but, just don’t feel quite as,
quite as good at doing that by myself anymore.
Denise: Okay. So are you
involved with the CNIB then?
Bea: Oh yes, oh yeah.
what, tell me about that.
Bea: Well, if anybody wants to, I’ve got
lots of equipment in this back room here that I use and that, and, I go
down there. And of course, you know, people can come up here and see
what I can do. And then I go down to the CNIB and, I don’t do volunteer
work there, except to have people come up here.
And look at what I’ve got, and how I manage. And it’s good for people
that are just starting to loose their sight, to talk to somebody that
is, you know, my sight is quite bad now, so, no I, like yesterday they
had…. END OF TAPE
Denise: Okay, so
Bea: Yeah, there’s an open house at
CNIB yesterday, and they had all the new technology. All, it’s just
great what they’ve got now for, like would help students or people in
the work force and that. They now have a, I’ve always said, you know,
years ago, when I’d be going somewhere and traveling by myself, I’d
say, “I’d love to have something that I could carry with me that would
magnify things, so I could, you know, see, and get along by myself.”
And now they have it.
Denise: Oh good
Bea: An eleven pound thing you can
carry. They also have a tiny little thing, that you, it magnifies, it’s
like a little screen, and it magnifies. Oh, all the new technology that
fellow had yesterday, it was just wonderful.. It’s like a camera that
picks up things. There, he has a big screen, and it can be either
television, or you can switch it over to like, my machine out here,
that magnifies everything, you put stuff underneath it, it magnifies
it. Oh, it was so interesting, the stuff that he has. And now the
talking books and all that for, especially good for students. They’ll,
they’re on CD’s. They’re transferred to CD’s, and these CD’s that, if
the student has a, like a class, and whatever they might want to find
in this book, there’s something they can do on the outside of it that
they can just find the page that it’s on. Oh, it’s just so great now,
what they’re doing for these [visually] impaired people. Yeah, so,
yeah, I was quite impressed yesterday. I really don’t need anything
more than I’ve got, because, I don’t do those kinds of things. So I
keep myself busy with what I’ve got. And, I have my typewriter which
has a thing on it that magnifies and projects it onto a screen. And
then, so, whatever I type is magnified onto the screen, so I can see
what I’ve been typing. And then the big screen, it magnifies up to 45
times. And it has, this last one I’ve got, you see there’s one there, I
use that for my recipes. And the other one I had now is, for the
first time for years, I can see snapshots. Under this I, you never,
under this I couldn’t see snap shots.
Denise: Oh, oh, oh, okay
Cause they’re black and white. But this one, it shows up the snap
shots, and I can almost see who the people are.
Denise: Oh, that’s nice,
that’s nice. Yeah
Bea: It’s really wonderful. I’ll have to show
you all my equipment out there.
Denise: Yeah, yeah
Denise: So, I’ll just
say, in Mrs. Dezell’s kitchen, there’s a television screen. And then,
some kind of electrical thing underneath it, so, she slides recipe
books in there.
Bea: You put your paper underneath, and it magnifies up
on the screen.
Bea: But the new one they have out, is,
this is just a magnifier. The new ones they have out, they can be a
television too. You can switch them back and forth, so it can be
television as well as this. It’s just amazing what they’re doing for
us. And I’ve had so much help from the CNIB, and when my sight was
first going, Alan MacCuaig was here, and they phoned me up, and they
said, “what would you like to do? What do you feel you want to do now?”
I said, “ I want to know how to get around on my own in the winter.”
We’ll let it ring. Unless…
Denise: No, it’s okay, it’s all right.
And so, he came up and he walked me all over this town. He walked
behind me, and then, and after, we’d go somewhere for coffee, or
something. And then he’d sit down and tell me what I should do
better, or how I should you know. And like when I’d get to the corners,
I can’t see the lights across the street or anything, and so, he said,
“Well you know you can look back up here.
Denise: Oh yes, yes.
don’t have to look across the street to see. All sorts of different
things. And he said one day to me, he said, “I’m going to take you up
and you’re going to walk across Central.” I says, “Oh no I’m not.” And
he says, “Yes you are.” And so anyway, we walked all the way up fifth,
and I hate going across Fifth, but he would make me go across the one
side and then go up a bit further, and then I’d have to come back this
way. Oh the traffic was just, He says, “You have to learn to go
across.” So, anyway, we did, and we got To Central, and I thought, how
can I with all this traffic. Anyway he was right behind me sort of. And
anyway, I made it. And then he said one day “Where else would you like
to go?” I said, “I’d like to be able to go across to the Dairy Queen,
over here.” And he says, “Okay, we’ll go down.” And so, he says, “Hold
out your cane first, and when the first car stops, then you go out in
front of that car.” But he said, “Don’t go any further until the next
one, you make sure the fellow in the next lane stops.” And you hold
your cane out, and then you go on, you know. But he says, “Don’t ever
walk out in front of a car.” “Once a car is stopped then that’s fine,
then go on to the next one.” But he says, “When it’s two lanes, he says
you have to wait until your sure that all lines of traffic have
stopped.” So he taught me a lot. And there’s many other things that
they have shown me down there too, and how to cope with things. They’re
wonderful, just wonderful, what they do. As you know, the CNIB has such
a large territory here. They go from Hundred Mile, to Whitehorse, to
the Queen Charlottes. And all out in the country. They go to visit,
quite often children that are out on farms and that. They have a big
territory to cover. It’s, you know, for such a few people.
very many people work there.
Bea: No, no, and we don’t get very much
funding at the present time. We used to get quite a bit of funding from
the government, but now, we get about seven percent of your
Bea: So, it’s very difficult for them to, you
know, get enough money to pay people to do this, this work.
Started out here, when my eyes first went, there was one, just they had
one room down at the Professional Center, and, a man and a secretary
and that was all. And then they’ve moved several times. And now they
have about five or six employees. And, but most of them are away out of
town all the time. Cause they have so much traveling to do. So it’s
very difficult. But we have over three hundred people, vision impaired
right in town here.
Denise: Is that right?
Bea: Yeah, and I think on the,
whole, over the whole area around two thousand. in our White Cane club,
we have forty seven members. Now that’s the fun part of the thing,
pretty well. We have a business meeting once a month. And then we have
lunches and table bowling and, oh we play crib, or some other kind of
Denise: Just a minute, what’s table bowling?
Bea: Well, that’s a
long thing like a table, a long narrow thing, like a bowling
Denise: Oh, okay.
Bea: And then we have the little, little, what
do you call it?
Denise: The ball?
Bea: No, we have steelies for the
Bea: And then we have the pins, like…
oh oh, okay.
Bea: Yeah and it’s like five, five pin bowling. And
you roll these up, you know. So, we have that. We have three tables of
that. Then some of them go and play crib, and some play other things.
We have some kind of another game there that I have never played. No,
that’s kind of a fun thing. And for that we have, we have, like a
barbeque out at the cabin. Then we have a Christmas party. The
Salvation Army puts on the dinner for us. We have just had our 25th
anniversary. We had a friendship tea at the Moose Hall.
Bea: Lots of people were invited. We had about seventy-five
Denise: My goodness.
Bea: We should have had more, you know. But,
it was a lovely tea. The Moose Ladies put on the tea, and it was so
well presented and everything. And, it was just lovely. And the dainty
Bea: Yeah. It was a real tea.
Oh I like that. I like that. So people in the White Cane Club, I’m
assuming that they’re all visually impaired.
Bea: Except we have a
Denise: Oh okay.
Bea: But they join, we pay $20 a year,
$15 of that goes to National, we keep $5. but for that they get their
lunch in a month, they get the Barbeque, they get the Christmas party.
Sometimes we had a trip to Quesnel to visit the White Cane Club down
Bea: So, we get a lot for our $5.
kidding. (Laughter) Sounds like a good deal. And are they all, age
group again. Like a varied age group that belong to the White Cane
Bea: Anybody can join.
Bea: Anybody that’s visually
impaired. And they, and like if you want to join and help us, anybody
with good eyes, we accept them.
Denise: Oh okay, okay.
Bea: Yeah, and but
we have to have drivers you see. So, we have, now like Sylvia Cooney is
our treasurer. Doreen McFarland is our secretary. They’re all sighted
people. Doreen McCrae is the one that puts on the lunches for us,
that’s the Saint Giles ladies, and Ron McIvor is our president, but
he’s visually impaired. I think our president has to be visually
Bea: So, it’s a, if you’re visually impaired you
get a lot of help and a lot of fun. (Laughter). So, you know, it’s a
really fun thing.
Denise: Yeah. You’re a very positive woman, very
positive woman. Yeah.
Bea: Well, I enjoy life. And you know, I
think too, I had such a great family. You know, I think that makes a
difference. A lot of people, well, the family’s not here, their kind of
on their own, and everything. And, I don’t know, my kids are so great
no matter what.
Bea: You know. Like Ross goes walking
with me, every Tuesday, you know.
Denise: That’s your grandson?
That’s my grandson, that’s Noreen’s boy. So he goes walking with me
and, he doesn’t seem to mind.
Denise: No, I bet he doesn’t mind at all.
Bea: (Laughter). And of course, I talk all the time anyway. But, you
know he’s got two children and first we have to talk about John and
Nicole, what they’re doing, and you know, so. Of course I don’t think
he does much of the talking. I think it’s usually me.
Denise: That’s all
right, that’s all right.
Bea: But we always do our mile at the track and
then in the winter we do it at the Coliseum.
Denise: Yeah, that’s a nice
service they have over there. It sounds like your life, when, you know,
you’re telling me sort of separate incidents. But you seem to very
connected to a lot of different communities in Prince George.
yeah, well I worked hard at one time in the church, but I don’t do that
any more. Also, I belong to the Royal Purple. I’ve had 55 years that I
belong to them, but I don’t help them any more either. I just can’t do
it anymore. But I still go to the odd meeting.
Denise: What does the
Royal Purple do?
Bea: That’s the Ladies of the Elks.
And, well, they raise money as best they can and help others. And the
Elks, of course, do the deaf detection for babies.
Bea: Then they have, I think the liver, liver transplant or
something. And like they have the May Days.
Bea: They just
had the parade, the Elks and the Royal Purple. And we had they have a
bazaar, and they do catering in order to raise their money. And they
help with some of the, I think, Bingos, and things like that. But I
haven’t been very active in it for quite a while. But I was, when, you
know, when we first started. And we were in the old Elks Hall. I was
very busy, helped all I could but now I just enjoy myself.
just go to the parties.
Bea: I just go to the parties.
Denise: Perfect, perfect. That must have been, in 55 years,
in, that, you must have seen a lot of changes, or was it all sort of
Bea: There’s a lot of changes now in the, like the ritual of
the Royal Purple was beautiful at one time. Now it’s just like an
ordinary meeting almost. although we do have a drill team, and they,
you know, do their thing. And they do have the chair officers, and that
kind of thing. But it’s more informal. It’s changed a lot. Since. But
at one time there was passwords, very secretive.
Denise: Oh, so I was
going to say, “Tell me the rituals.” But you can’t.
Bea: Yeah, you know,
we have, and for, like our initiation. Oh, it was so beautiful. Now
it’s so quick. (Laughter) You know, I think they’re trying to get away
from. They want people to feel more easy.
Bea: Maybe, I
don’t know. I loved it the other way.
Denise: Can you tell me a little
bit about the initiation ceremony?
Bea: Well, they take a person,
from, like the drill team. Which is usually six people, or maybe eight.
And they come up, and then they, then the Conductress takes the arm of
the person that’s being initiated, brings it up to the first chair
officer. And she goes through a lot of things and tells them all about
it. Then they go on to the next one, and then the next one, and then
they go to the Honoured Royal Lady. And, of course this is all done in
candle light. And then from there, they’re taken back to their, usually
back to their seat and then after that, there is, they call it the
Pansy Ceremony, because the pansy is our flower. And the Chair Officers
come up one at a time to the altar and take this chain that has pansies
on it, and they sing different, there’s hymns that they sing. And then
after that usually there’s, then they turn the lights on after that.
And then they do a drill that usually spells out the letters OORP,
[Order Of Royal Purple]or what ever, there’s differentkinds of drills.
The ladies are all in long white dresses, and as they go around they
make these letters, what ever drill it might be.
Denise: Okay. Oh it
Bea: Yeah, it is beautiful. And if somebody dies,
they, she’s draping of the Charter. It’s just beautiful, just
beautiful. And I said, “ I want my family invited to the ceremony. And
I hope they get there when they’re draping the charter for me. Yeah,
because it’s so lovely, the ceremony. But not many organizations, you
know, everything is more casual now. They don’t seem to do a lot of
this any more.
Denise: It sounds like there was a real sense of honour.
Bea: Oh yeah. I just love the ritual that we went
through and everything. Yeah, but, times change, and they have to go
along with what people want. And of course for a long time, we had to,
of course, we wore white skirts and a blue, or purple blazer. And then
they had a white pill box hat which was purple. Now I never could get
one small enough to fit me. So, I bought them, I just gave them away,
cause, I couldn’t, I couldn’t, they wouldn’t stay on my head. And, so
now, they can wear slacks. We never could wear slacks, if somebody came
in slacks, they were sent home. But now, they wear white slacks and a
purple blazer. So, you know, they have to go along with the times I
guess. It’s a great organization too, and it’s national of course. It’s
all over Canada. We had the convention here, was it a year ago? The
National Convention, and one of our ladies was the Supreme Honourable
Lady that Year.
Denise: Oh. That would be national.
Bea: She was
the head of the national.
Denise: My goodness, my goodness.
that’s Bev Uckart.
Bea: So, but they did a great job of the
convention. So there’s a B.C. Elks, as well as the National. But
they’re all getting smaller. They’re all…well you know we sold our
building down on Sixth. And now we meet at The Legion.
Denise: Oh is
Bea: Yeah, the Legion, in the basement of the Legion.
Bea: So, I don’t know what they’re going to do. If they’re going to
buy another building or just, just keep on renting something.
Bea: Yeah, but clubs are hard to get enough members now. People
are so busy, young people are so busy. Both husband and wife nearly
always work now. And so, it’s almost impossible to get people to do
anything extra. You know, their lives are so full of working, and their
children. And you know, cause they have to get up, get the children off
to play school, or, some kind of school, or something, what ever, and,
so, you know. It’s…
Denise: You worked, though, the whole time
did, I did, but I worked in our own place so I could take off. Cause my
Brownies at that time, that I was working. But I could take off in the
afternoon and. It made it easy. I don’t know what I’d do if I had a, if
I’d a had a 8 to 5 job.
Bea: But I made sure that, at least
I hope Noreen wasn’t neglected. And of course Cliff was away, so was
taking care of himself. And, but I can see mothers that are
working, and if they have an 8 to 5 job or something, you know they
need to spend as much time as they can with their family. Children are
Denise: Yes, yeah.
Bea: Yeah, that’s what I say, I have
a great family. You know the grandchildren are so good to me, oh
goodness, it’s just. And I think of these other people sometimes that,
you know, haven’t got anybody around close. Like a lot of people up in
the Seniors Homes. You know, it must be tough. Yeah, not to have some
family around. Cause, there’s a picture on the wall when we were out at
Denise: Oh, the boat.
Bea: The boat… that was one of my
Denise: Oh that’s recent. Is that recent?
it’s fairly recent, a couple of years ago.
Denise: Oh boy!
Yeah, last year was 95, so we had my birthday party up at
Noreens’s. Open House. Anybody could come. (Laughter) [Over 100
Denise: Oh boy (Laughter)
Bea: But I don’t get another
big bash till I’m 100. This year will just be the family, I think,
they’ll come up, and not until about the middle of July.
Denise: When is
Bea: July the seventh. I’ll be 96, should I make
Denise: Well you look fabulous. You look fabulous.
Bea: I feel good
too. For a few days last week I was all cold and shivery. And I
said, I think I’m coming down with something, but I didn’t.
Bea: But I think it was just the change in the
Denise: Yeah, I was cold and shivery too.
Bea: Yeah, it
was miserable so. Yeah those are all family pictures there. My mom and
Denise: That’s your mom and dad. And is that is that who’s that up
there? Jack and
Bea: Which one is it? The next one or the top
Denise: The top one. Actually it says Jack and Jean.
Bea: Oh that’s
my sister, my sister and her husband.
Denise: Do you have a picture of
you and your husband?
Bea: Is there one up there?
Denise: Is it in the
Bea: I can’t see them.
Denise: Oh yeah, yeah. It’s all right.
I think I have one in a book when the kids were little. I can probably
find it for you ,or you can find it. I’ve got this stuff mostly in
albums, but, there’s Noreen and Cliff and. Noreen and Cliff when they
were little, the two of them. So.
grandchildren and. There’s a bunch of us when we all get together,
whenwe’re walking for the Cancer thing the other day. [Relay For Life]
I was walking with Shawna’s group. Now that’s Ross’s wife. And there
was 10 of us walking together, and we’re all family.
Bea: So, we walked, well I walked, let’s see, a mile and a
Bea: And the rest of them kept going and going
and going. (Chuckle) But, they were counting the laps or something. I
don’t know that cancer thing. I’m not sure how they work that.
Okay, oh yeah, yeah. That’s neat.
Bea: I did my mile and a half
and they kept going. I quit. (Laughter)
Denise: That’s okay I think, I
think that’s all right.
Bea: Yeah, I always do a mile when Ross and I
walk. And sometimes if we have time, if he comes early enough. We have
to be downtown for lunch. And Noreen quite often comes for lunch with
us. Kathleen usually comes to lunch with us. If Ross doesn’t get here
‘till 11:30, well sometimes we only do the mile.
If he comes earlier, well then we get to get a little bit more
Bea: But a mile is about enough for me. My legs are
getting too wobbly, by the time I do a mile. I slow down. Sometimes I
go, just walk by myself with the cane. I don’t hold on to Ross,
but after about two laps, I feel I like to hold on to his arm. Yeah,
so, and I’m getting more apprehensive about going out by myself.I used
to go everywhere by myself. I still go up to the Phoenix [Medical
Building] though, I don’t mind that. But I sort of, I don’t know what
it is about going downtown.
Bea: Yeah. I don’t know. But,
anyway, it’s just…
Denise: Yeah, it’s busy, busy, lots of traffic.
Yeah, yeah. I guess it’s, yeah I guess it is. And people, you know. And
although people should know, when I have the white cane, but people
don’t know. You know, they don’t realize that you’re vision
Denise: Right, right.
Bea: But, anyway, that’s the way it
Denise: Well that’s been a wonderful story. I think this is
going to, snap off again in a minute.
Bea: Yeah, I’ll show you what I
have in the back.
Bea: How I make out and.
sounds great. So, I’m going to turn this off. I just wanted to say
thank you before I do.
Bea: Oh well, I hope you’ve got what you
Denise: I got what I..
Bea: But you know, I (Chuckle) you know,
me, just go on and on forever.
Denise: Very enjoyable, thank you very
much. END OF TAPE
Denise: Hi, today is July the 8th and I’m back to talk
to Bea because I wanted to ask her some questions about a couple of
things that she mentioned in the transcription that I didn’t follow up
on the day I was with her. So, I‘m back. I’m going to put the tape to
the other side now because it’s almost out and I we’ll start another
Denise: So, in your transcription you talked a little
about the Girl Guides and the Brownies. I wondering if you can tell me
how you got involved in that?
Bea: Well, when I first came to Prince
George, which was in 1946, Noreen was six about that time. And one day
we were walking downtown and here there was a group of Brownies out in
a yard on 3rd, right close to Northern Hardware, just over from the
street. And so, we stopped to watch. And I knew the lady She had, the
leader, [Brown Owl] she had been in Quesnel and I knew her there. And
so, anyway, we stopped to watch the little girls dance around and do
their thing. And so, on we went downtown. And the next day, who should
come to see but Margaret Langford, the leader. And she asked if I would
come and help. And I thought, well, sure, I had nothing much else to do
with my time, so I thought that would be fine, I’d go. And so, it
wasn’t very long before she left and went and took over a Guide
company, so she asked me if I’d take over the Brownie Pack. So that’s,
I had to be then, the Brown Owl of the Third Fort George Brownie Pack.
And from then on in, we did all sorts of things together. We used to go
camping, but that would be with the Guides. Brownies are not allowed to
camp with canvas, they have to camp in a building. And so, there was a
camp site at Nukko Lake that the Allens had given to the Guides. The
first, my first experience out there with Margaret. We had taken a
stove and I, I can’t remember how big the stove was, it couldn’t have
been too big, but it seemed to me it was. (Laughter) We had to put
ropes on it and slide it down to the beach. And we had to also cut our
own tent poles.
Denise: That was just you and Margaret?
Margaret and, got them ready for the girls to carve. And so we had
Guides at that camp. And then as the years went on, of course, I would
go out quite often with Alma Smart. She was the Brownie leader at that
time and she, she would take the camp. But I always went to help her.
And so one time, we had Belsham’s old house out at Nukko Lake, where we
took our Brownies. And it was so funny, it rained and rained and rained
and the girls, they had the greatest time because this old house, the
paper was all starting to get loose on the walls. And they were poking
the (Laughter) the thing and letting the water run through. Anyway,
somebody felt so sorry for us, having to camp like we did. But we
really had a lot of fun. Really; and the kids were good too.
Bea: Another time we used Sons of Norway Hall at Tabor
Lake and that time had camp cots that we had borrowed from the
Forestry, I think. And well, the little girls, they found out that they
could, if they laid on the edge of them, they could tip them over. All
night long they were tipping these things over. (Laughter) I finally
went to sleep, I don’t know what happened, but I don’t think Alma got
very much sleep. (Laughter)
Bea: But anyway, it was
always a fun thing. And then we decided that, at least the Guide
company and Guiders, decided we would like to start another camp.
And so Kay Yardley was the Division Commissioner at that time, and her
and Marie Glacier, they went out and found a spot at Ispa Lake. And it
was off the Buckhorn, quite a little ways out. I guess they walked all
around this lake finding the best spot and somehow they got permission
from the government. And so, I wasn’t too involved in that except our
company was. We hauled all the stuff out for them, the material and
Denise: I’m sorry, your company meaning the construction
Denise: Oh, okay.
Bea: Dezell Construction. They, we
used the truck. My brother drove the truck and we’d take out material
that Marie Glazier and other people had scrounged from the mill people
and that. We did get a grant of money from the government to pay the
wages of the carpenters to build the cabin there. That is still there,
it is still well used and they, through the years, they finally got
three nice camp sites cleared for tents for the Guides.
Bea: But if the Brownies go out there, the Brownies must use the
Bea: And so, that was, oh through the years, and I
finally gave up the Brown Owl and I was the District Commissioner for a
while. And then I took over the books as far as, like treasurer for,
and we had quite a few different. We had, like our district, we had
division and, there must have been five different accounts, I
Bea: That I looked after. And, we took donations if,
like somebody would come to town and they wanted to donate to
something. Like the opening of McDonald’s, I think, and they asked me
where I wanted it, so I said, “I’d like it to be donated to the
Denise: Right, yeah.
Bea: So that’s about the way I got
Denise: Okay but, what was it, what did the District
Commissioner do? You said that you were the District
Bea: Commissioner, yes, you had to be appointed.
There’s, you see, the Guides would, the Guiders would have about three
different Guide companies in a district. And then, there were probably
about three, as the Guides expanded, there got to be about three
districts here, and then of course, there was a Commissioner for each
one. And then, also, there’s a division. And it took in the whole area,
Denise: Oh okay.
Bea: So, then there was a Division
Commissioner, so that’s how we sort of… And we would go to, the
Commissioners would go to different events, like the Brownies or the
Guides were putting on in their companies, or packs, and maybe give out
certificates, or give out badges or something, or just make a little
speech or whatever. And so, so that went on for years and years until I
finally go so I just thought that it was time somebody else took over.
You know, you get older and you need new blood in things. And so, but
through the years I really enjoyed it all, really.
Denise: So when you
first started in Brownies, as a Brown Owl, how many Brownie packs were
there in Prince George?
Bea: Just three.
Denise: Just three, yeah.
Just three of us.
Denise: Yeah, and at the end, when you finished?
Oh, gosh, I don’t know. Nearly every school, it seemed to me had a
Brownie pack. There was quite a few. I don’t know for sure how many we
had. There was lots of them. And they all met then in the schools.
When, oh, I must tell you too, when we first, when I first was Brown
Owl, we met down in an empty building between Winnipeg and Vancouver
Street, I think. It belonged to Burden’s. And there was a big stove in
there, like a, they call it a barrel. And in the winter, we had to haul
down our own wood. I used to haul it down on the sleigh, to get the
fire going to warm the building up so we could have our meeting. And
then, I guess, at the time when the town started to go, they sold the
building, so then moved over into an army building over close to where
the library was, which was just north of Brunswick. And we met there
for a while. Then after that the City built a library at the
corner of 4th and Brunswick, which is now the Senior’s Club.
Bea: And we met downstairs, down in the basement there. And then,
the City needed that eventually. And we, they built a place behind the
City Hall, which is still there, that we could use and that’s what we
were using when I quit.
Denise: Oh, okay.
Bea: So, and now they all meet
at different schools.
Bea: In the auditoriums.
Then you met with the Brownies in those buildings, or with the Brown
Owls, like the
Bea: Yeah, no we had our meetings there, the Brownie
Denise: Oh, okay.
Denise: That’s quite a bit of
dedication to haul your wood to the (Laughter)
Bea: (Laughter) Oh yes,
on the sleigh, and of course Noreen was, always came with me too. And I
remember Leslie Maxwell too, that’s Doctor Maxwell’s wife, and, and she
had a Guide company that met there too. And I think she hauled wood
there too, to light the fire, and warm the building up so, you know.
Everything was kind of primitive along the way along.
Yeah. So that’s about, I think about all I can tell you, how I was
involved in, you know, we used to go to Conventions in
Bea: In New Westminster too. And we’d meet other
Guiders and, from all over B.C. Very interesting.
a lot of fun. I loved the girls and I still get letters from some of
Denise: Do you, yeah, yeah.
Bea: Of the Brownies, yeah.
old are you when you start Brownies, at what, eight?
Bea: In those
days, you were, Brownies could start at about five, and then they’d go
to ten and then they’d go to Guides. But then they raised the rates,
the age to about, I think it was from six to ten. I don’t know what it
is now. I think they have something in between there too as
Denise: Okay, yeah.
Bea: I don’t seem to have very much to do with
them, although at my birthday party last year, there was two or three
of the old Guiders, the ones that I knew.
Bea: Came to my
Bea: So, a few of us are still around.
Yeah, so when you say Guiders, you mean the kids that were in your
Bea: No. A Guider is a leader.
Denise: Okay, oh, okay.
Bea: That’s what you call a leader, is a Guider.
Denise: Okay. I’m
still, at the very beginning of this conversation you talked about you
and your friend hauling a stove down to the beach. (Laughter) I just
can’t envision that.
Bea: The stove, yeah. Well, we put a rope around it
and we held on, either of us held on to, you know, the sides, and just
slid it down. I thought it was a big stove, But I guess it wasn’t or we
wouldn’t have been able to do it. (Laughter)
Bea: Yeah, but we had to have something to cook on, down at
the beach. And of course in those days it was right out in the open on
the beach, rain or shine. You cook out there. Of course, after we got
Ispa, why they could cook indoors.
Bea: There’s a nice
building there now. (Chuckle) But it was all kinds of kooky things
happen when you’re out with a bunch of girls.
Denise: Yeah. How many,
how many kids would come out to the camp?
Bea: The Brownies, we would
have, it says we could have six Brownies, but, each six had to have a
Bea: And so usually about four leaders, we always
had a cook. And quite often a nurse and also somebody would come
through the day, most times, and to entertain, or, you know, sing or
have a guitar and entertain the children, or Lead them in a singsong,
or whatever. At night we’d have bonfire and, I can hear the, one thing
we’d always have warm apple juice with a cinnamon stick in it.
Bea: So, we’d sit around the bonfire and..
Denise: It would take
a lot to organize all of that?
Bea: Well, I don’t know, it just, the
leader would get it all, like, Margaret Langford, if it was with
Guides. The cook had to arrange her own, herself, and but, the leaders
themselves, like Margaret herself would have to arrange all the things
we were going to do; all the hikes we going on and so on. It was the
same when I went with Alma for the Brownies. She looked after that end
of it, well we sort of got together beforehand and decided what we’d
do. And then after that, why, you know the cook would take care of
things and the little girls had to, had their dishes, like they had a
knife and a fork and a dish and a cup, they had it in a mesh bag. They
had to take care of that and hang it up. That was their contribution,
they had to do that, had to wash it and look after it.
One of, I’ve, one of the plaques on your wall, one of your awards, I
think says 1976. So were involved in the Guides for thirty years,
Brownies and Guides for
Bea: Oh, I would think so.
Mostly the last few years was just keeping the books, being treasurer
and doing that. And just going to the meetings, but I, after I got to
be a Commissioner, I didn’t have a Brownie Pack or a Guide Company
Denise: Okay, okay, yeah.
Bea: But I enjoyed, I enjoyed the
little girls. They’re all so cute and. And I was, and When we were at
camp, as long as the parents didn’t come out they were fine. If
the parents would come out and then some of them would be very
Denise: Ohh, yeah, yeah.
Bea: Yeah. They’d want to go back home
with their mom. (Laughter) So, but, as Long as they were there by
ourselves, they were fine. So that’s my, contribution to, to the Guides
Denise: Yeah, Mrs. Dezell, was it all volunteer?
Denise: And how much, odd question, but how much time a week or
a month do you think that you devoted to..?
Bea: Well, before, when I
had the Brownie pack, before the meeting, I would say, to get
everything ready for the meeting and, I would say it would take about
half a day, you know, off and on through the week, planning what I was
going to do. And of course, different things would come up, like Maiden
Pole Day and that, so we always had something special, and Thinking Day
so we have to arrange something. Have a bit of a special. And then
every once in a while the girls, of course, would have, the ones that
were working for their badges, we would have tea and toast and invite
the mothers. That’s one of the things they’d have to do for a badge and
they had to use an old fashioned toaster that flipped over.
Bea: You couldn’t use the kind that popped up.
and they have to learn how to make tea properly and serve it to their
mothers. No, I, I felt that getting ready for the meeting was very
important. And another thing, the kids would arrive, the girls would
arrive at different times from school, so I always tried to have a game
or something going, and so as they came in, they could all just
gradually work into the game. Mostly a singing game, so that when they
were all there. Then we’d start properly with the Fairy ring, and each
little group had a little sing song they did them- selves and so on.
But until they all got there, to keep, (Laughter) to keep them quiet,
more or less, and I just tried to keep them busy.
Denise: Yeah. So, what
is Thinking Day?
Bea: Thinking Day is the day that we think of Brownies
and Guides all over the world. And we always had to have some special
deal to think of the Brownies in different countries and. Sometimes
we’d talk about the girls In Mexico and sometimes about the Guides and
the building in Switzerland. And different places, you know, and lots
of our Guides would get trips to these different places, like to
Mexico, to the Cabana and to the place in Switzerland. When I was in
Europe, I took a tour up to the Guides chalet in Switzerland and had a
Denise: I didn’t know there were Guides in Switzerland or
Bea: All over the world, yes, yes, oh yeah. So, and I, I never
did get to Mexico. Though, but… Then we would have Jamborees in Canada,
you know, for Brownies and Guides in, all over the world.
come to Prince George?
Bea: No, they never came here. The B.C. ones
would get together here once in a while, out at West Lake at Camp
Denise: Okay, umhm.
Bea: But, no, not the, I don’t think that we
ever had a worldwide Jamboree here, I think that was mostly like
Toronto or Vancouver. So that’s about it, I think.
Denise: And you said,
was it a May Pole Day or, what did you, you had two special days. One
was the Thinking Day?
Bea: Thinking Day and Lord Baden Powell. He, he
was the one that started the Boy Scouts.
Bea: And then he,
then his wife started the Girl Guides. And so they had a day,
twenty-second of February, I think it is. And we always had the church
parade and the big deal where everybody would take part in it here, all
the Guides, Brownies, Scouts and
Bea: Here in town, and
so, yeah, all on one day and we were celebrating that.
Bea: You know, everybody would go, different groups would go to
Bea: And then usually they would have a
candlelight, some kind of a candlelight parade or service at night,
when everybody, it would all take place.
Denise: Oh and all the Brownies
and, oh, that must have been really neat for those kids.
Bea: Oh, it
was. And it was a good thing that, that, that they got to know about
all the other countries that had Brownies and Guides and Scouts and,
Bea: It was, it was a good movement, and lots of
things that the girls had to work for. You know, especially the Guides,
there was some tough things they had to pass to get, you know, for
their camping and get their Gold Chords, which was the highest at that
Bea: And they got Gold Chords to hang on (Chuckle).
So yeah, so.
Denise: I just wanted to know, did you see any changes in
the programs of Brownies and Guides in the thirty years that you
belonged, or did stay the same?
Bea: It stayed, all the time I was
there, it was the same. I don’t know what’s happened now. But they had
quite strict rules and they worked for their different badges and
camping all this type of thing. I don’t think the girls have to go
through so much primitive stuff anymore, because as time goes on,
everything is made easier in this world, and easier to do. But they
still have the same things they have to work at, and as far as I know.
I haven’t had much to do with them at all.
Denise: Yeah, what’s an
example of a primitive?
Bea: Well, you see, to, for the camping, it was,
now I imagine that if they’re on some kind of a camping trip or
something, it would be easier to do. Rather than before. You know,
especially if they went around the Bowron Lakes, they had to pack their
own canoes and, you know, portage and all that kind of stuff. which
now, I think maybe they would make it easier for them because, yeah. I
don’t think anything is as difficult as it used to be. (Laughter) Like
us pushing a stove down the (Laughter). Now they wouldn’t bother with
that, but and cut our own tent poles, you see. So, you wouldn’t have to
do that now Because if the girls, like go, like getting a camping
badge, going around the Bowron, they would have their tents with the
poles already, so things are a little different.
Denise: Yeah. Yeah. Did
you have your favorite badge that you like to teach or?
Denise: Your favorite badge, was there a favorite, sort
of task that you liked?
Bea: Oh I just liked the girls to, of course I
liked them to look at their gardening And work at their gardening and
their, having their mothers for their tea and toast badge and that.
That was more my thing than a lot of the other. The badges were never
too difficult for the Brownies though. When you got into Guides though,
they, you really have to do a lot of work and especially the nature
part of it.
Denise: Okay, survival sort of stuff.
Bea: Yes, yeah, yeah.
So, no, I, of course, and I hadn’t had anything to do with them for so
long, so I don’t know what changes are there now.
Denise: Yeah, yeah,
Bea: I think that’s about it.
Denise: I just wanted to, I just
wanted to ask you about the Guides and Brownies because I knew it was a
big part of your life.
Bea: Oh, it was, for a long time. And that’s once
a week meetings you know, besides meetings with the Guiders, which are
Bea: So, it was a lot of my life. And then we’d
go to conventions too, so that always took up some time.
Yeah. Pleasant memories?
Bea: Oh yes. Lots of fun. (Laughter) Lots of
fun. Lots of funny things too, well, kind of, for the girls maybe, you
know, they’d get a leech on them or something when we were camping and
then they’d be screaming and hollering and then going down. And then
you’d have to get the salt-shaker and get the leech off. And then of
course, they’d come in to the hall, proudly with a snake of something.
(Laughter) Oh yeah. It was a lot of fun.
Denise: (Laughter) Oh, that’s
Bea: So, and you had to never, never show that you were frightened
about anything, you know.
Bea: You couldn’t let them know
that, they were hoping you’d be squealing and hollering.
Denise: Oh, that’s nice.
Bea: So, yeah, I have very
pleasant memories so that, that it all. I still like the outdoors,
that’s my thing.
Bea: Yeah, I just don’t get enough of it
Denise: That’s right, yeah.
Bea: I could be outside all the time.
I’ve even, at different times, planted my garden in the rain.
Bea: It just doesn’t matter to me. But now I don’t do the same,
slowed down and so.
Denise: Well, you know, not, it’s my impression that
you haven’t really slowed down all that much. (Laughter)
Well, I do what I can. I still do. And, I love my garden, I love my
garden at the lake, that’s what I was going to do today, had it not
rained, was go out and thin the beets out, and, you know, so. And pull
the rhubarb so I can make my, get my rhubarb all saved for my rhubarb
wine. But when it rains, well it’s not as easy out there.
Bea: Of course I grew up on a small farm, so I’m, I like
it, I love it outside, outside Never bothered me, walking and all that
stuff. I enjoy doing that, so.
Denise: Part of your life.
Bea: Yeah it
is, it’s part of my life. I never get bored, I always find something,
always weeds in the garden or something. Lots of things to do so. And
you know, and Then there’s vegetables to, to pull up and give away,
because I can’t use them all. But, everybody seems to enjoy getting a
few vegetables once in a while.
Denise: Garden fresh.
Bea: That’s right,
and it tastes so good.
Denise: Yeah, yeah.
Bea: Yeah. So.
Denise: This is
going to click. I just want to say before it’s done, Happy
Bea: Oh, thank you.
Denise: It was Mrs. Dezell’s, how old?
Denise: Ninety-sixth birthday yesterday. So.
END OF TAPE