Interview of Spike Enemark
Interview - Local History Committee on April 4, 1987 with Mr. Spike
Enemark at the downtown motel by Penny Draper. Mr. Enemark was born in
Prince George. He has five brothers. He owned three sawmills and a
Draper: What's your full name please?
Enemark: My full
name is Holger Peterson Enemark. I have five brothers. We all have the
same middle name, Peterson. That's on account of our grandfather. His
name was Peterson. That was a compromise my mother made with my father
that when they got married that they would retain the name Peterson.
That's how that come about. The name Holger is named after Holger, the
Dane, which in Scandinavian mythology, Holger, the Dane, is a character
similar to Atlas. When I was a baby, I was rather fat and sassy. That's
how I acquired the name of Holger. I acquired the name Spike when I was
going to school in Quesnel because everyone seemed to prefer to Holger.
That stuck with me the rest of my life. That's the story behind
Draper: You were born in Prince George.
Enemark: I was born in
Prince George, just two blocks up the street, my four brothers and I.
There are five of us all together. We were born where the Royal Bank
is, in a house that was moved over from South Fort George. In those
days when they moved a house, it wasn't like they do today. They hook a
cat to it or a team of horses. They sunk a post in the ground and made
a windless around it. The horse would walk around the windless and wind
up the cable and move the building two or three hundred feet at a time.
Then they would move their dead man another two hundred feet down the
road, sink it in again and the horse would walk around. That's the way
they moved our house over to the site where the Royal Bank is
Draper: It sounds like a lot of work. Why would they do that?
Enemark: First of all, they didn't have enough horses to move the house
house because it was on bare skids and bare ground. I don't suppose
they had the facilities to put it on wheels like they do today. The
house was on skids. People worked cheap in those days and weren't
rushed for time.
Draper: Would it have been easier or was it special
Enemark: No, not particularly. I imagine it is just like a number
of things today. It's cheaper to move than to rebuild them. I couldn't
tell you why.
Draper: What do you remember about the house?
thing unique about it was we had our pump in the kitchen. We had
running water a long time before other people in Prince George. Most
other people had their well outside. This was before there was any
piped water in town. This year that I'm talking about now was in the
2O's. People in town on a thirty foot lot would have a well, an out
door toilet and a cesspool on the same property and nobody seemed to
suffer from it. I can't tell you to much about my childhood, other than
the fact that when we were kids there was nothing but stumps, no
streets. There was a big slough that stretched from the railroad yards
to the Northern Hardware store, alongside the Alexander Hotel
where Woodward’s is now, over to the Civic Centre down through South
George. There was high water in the spring. You could take a boat or
canoe and go from the Railroad yards right through to South Fort
George. The trail they want to make today, I think is the most
wonderful project that could be undertaken. It will Prince George a
better place to live in.
Draper: From the Cottonwood Park.
right down through the water course, clean it up and build it up. I
think it would be a wonderful project.
Draper: What do you remember
about your parents? What did your dad do?
Enemark: My dad was a butcher.
Why he ever came to this country, l do not know. He had a
brother-in-law who used to run a cafe in South Fort George. They called
him Waffle Smith. He's mentioned in the Bacon and Bean Book that was
written. My dad came from Denmark. He spent some time working at
packing houses in Chicago. From there he went to Montana where another
of his sisters lived. From there he went to Nevada. He was a partner of
Tex Rickards, a boxing promoter, in a saloon for several years. He
received a call to visit his brother-in-law in South Fort George. Why
he ever left that warm country down there to come up to the cold, I do
not understand. He couldn't stand the cold. He was allergic to the
cold. He came here in 1908. We left in 1924, went back to the United
States. Winters in those days were cold. I can still remember the house
we had. Although it was a good house, at night when it went to
thirty five, forty below zero' the nails would pull and shrink. The
whole house would crack and shake. This wasn't only common to our
house. Everybody's house did the same thing. When those nails shrank,
you could hear it crack. My father drove cattle from the Chilcotin
Country when he started to stay here. He had a slaughter house up
across the Nechako on the hill. He supplied beef to the railroad, all
through the railroad construction. That's where he made a few dollars.
He had a butcher shop in town for a number of years until 1924 when we
left and went to the United States. .
Draper: What kind of social
activities did you do?
Enemark: I was only eight years old when I left.
Other than go to school, I don't remember. The only thing we had for
social was a donkey. Where we lived, my dad had real nice clodding
horses although we did have a car. As a point of information, Peden
Hill was named after a fellow called Russell Peden. He borrowed my
car and he came down the hill and smashed it up. That's why that hill
is named Peden Hill. My dad had beautiful horses. We kept a cow.
Everyone in the north country had their own cow. We had a donkey that
used to stand four or five days at a time down at the slough and never
move. I have pictures of as many as about eight to ten kids riding the
donkey all at once. He was a real pet. Going to school, I don't
remember too much.
Draper: When did you come back to Prince George?
Enemark: I have to digress again. We were down in the States for three
years. Things didn't go well with us, depression was coming. We came
back to Canada in 1928. We spent a short while in the Okanagan and
Vancouver. My dad had a hot dog stand right at the entrance to Stanley
Park. We sold hot dogs and peanuts before MacDonalds started. He opened
a butcher shop in Quesnel. He died there in 1931, left my mother with
five boys. In those days there was no widow's pension or family
allowances. She was left, I wouldn't say destitute. We had a nice
butcher shop which she sold. In those days you didn't get much money
for it. We had a lot of property which she couldn't pay taxes on which
all reverted back to the crown. Dad owned all the land with exception
the Indian part across the river which is now West Quesnel. When he
we had to give it all up on account of taxes. Taxes weren't all that
much in those days either. After my dad died I came to work in Prince
George for an old timer by the name of Carl Anderson. Just to give you
an indication of wages in those days, I received $9.OO a week. I worked
at least 60 hours a week. I was hard manual work in a wholesale and
grocery warehouse. It meant packing kegs of beer, flour sugar and
things like that. It was all heavy work but of course, I was always a
strong kid. I paid my own board. One day somebody asked me if I was
sending money home to my mother. You can see what it took for a person
to live on. An incident of slave driving type of man he was. One winter
it was thirty below zero. I was taking five sacks of spuds on a sleigh
up to G.B. Williams, the guy who was with the museum. His father had a
grocery store up alongside the Northern Hardware. It was all I could do
to move this sleigh with five sacks of potatoes. I had it covered with
tarps so it wouldn't freeze in the cold weather, As I was pulling up
that hill, someone came out of the back. Carl Anderson was standing
there and asked Carl why he didn't get a horse. He said what's the
matter with him. I can still remember that. I used to work for him for
a couple of months, get mad and quit and get a job working for somebody
else. In those days it was easy to get a job. You talk about tough
times. It was far easier to get a job then it was now. I feel sorry for
the people that have to go out and look for work. The job they get is
so demanding. In those days everything was physical. As long as you
were willing to work for nothing, you would always have a job which l
was prepared to do. I worked for him off and on for a couple of years.
I drove truck to Vancouver when the pavement ended at Chilliwack. There
was a dirt road all the way from Chilliwack to Prince George.
How long would it take? Enemark:; It used to take eight days for a
trip. You would fix your own tires.
Draper: Did you have to carry your
Enemark: No, some of the truckers did carry gas but most of
them were able to get gas at Cache Creek, Williams Lake, Quesnel and
those places. You had to travel through the small places anyway. There
was no bypasses. Gas was never a problem. One summer I hauled gas from
Vancouver for a company here. The tank truck I had held eighteen
hundred gallons. They sold the gas in Prince George for forty two cents
a gallon. They made money. I got twenty five dollars a trip. It took me
eight days to make a round trip. I worked at that all summer, making
twelve trips for them. I worked for several of the other trucking
companies later on. 1 worked for one winter and it was so cold
trucking, l got a job in the mine at Wells. I worked in the mine
underground for almost six years. I worked in several mines other than
Wells but I stayed in Wells most of the time but enjoyed working
Draper: This is a gold mine.
Enemark: Yes. I enjoyed working
in the mines because you only worked eight hours. You had a shower when
you come out and put your good clothes on. It wasn't like working
outside in the mud, rain and cold. When you worked outside you were
working twelve to fifteen hours a day whereas in the mine you worked a
flat eight hours. You got better pay. You made two dollars extra a day
working underground than on the surface. My brothers all worked at the
mine too but they didn't like it. I can remember when a couple of them
quit. I said "You guys are going to starve quitting a good job like
this." They went on to become very wealthy people.
Draper: Whet company
owned the mine?
Enemark: The Cariboo (….?)Mining Company.
were good to work for.
Enemark: We had one strike. It lasted almost five
months. This was my first experience with unions and management. The
difficulties with unions and management is something I feel strongly
about today. There is no way labour would provide the standard of
living we have today without unions. In some cases it progressed too
far. They are demanding their religions in order to sustain the
strength they have. They are abusing the system, I think. That is my
own opinion. When we first worked in the mines, I don't say we were
mistreated but everyone packed their own sleeping gear. We didn't have
a sleeping bag. Everyone had a bedroll. You packed the bedbugs from one
camp into the other. There were lots of places were the food was bloody
awful. I don't have any complaints about any of the hardships l had
when l was young. I feel sorry for the young people today that they
weren't able to experience the things that I did. I can tell you
stories that would make your hair curl, little incidental things that
might not be of interest to anybody. I drove truck for a couple of
short months from Quesnel to Wells hauling freight for L.M. MacKinnon
Trucking. They were in Barkerville. An old lady by the name of Granny
MacKinnon who was related to the Rifles, was a tough old bird to work
for. They hauled freight to this Cottonwood House in Quesnel. They had
no money to pay the company for the freight. We had to eat there. They
served five kinds of meat every meal. It was all sheep, lamb, ran,
sheep and mutton. I can still taste the wool. When they would make you
a lunch, there was a thick slab of cold mutton with a big lump of fat
between two slices of bread. That was your lunch. We didn't actually
know there was any better way. Today everyone has to have a TV, a car.
Everyone has to have all these things that we take for granted in order
to make them happy. In those days we were happy and those things
weren't even invented. We didn't know you were supposed to have them.
We didn't feel bad about it .War came. We all had to join. I didn't ' t
last long in the air force. One thing that happened to me in the mine,
I contracted sinus trouble. When I joined the air force in ?40i, there
was a shortage of uniforms. I d didn't get aware trying to train us
and, show us how tough we were. They had no sympathy for us with
oxfords on. I was out there my dress clothes.. I would have been
better off going out in my diggers. I got this terrible cold. They put
you through the various physical tests. One test was to put you in
a chamber, take out the air to see how much altitude you could stand. I
flaked out at about twenty thousand feet so I wasn't fit for air crew.
They sent me back to Trenton. I was twenty four years old. .That was
the first actual holiday I had. I had finger nails an inch and quarter
long just doing nothing. They used to find joe jobs for us to do. We
were waiting to come up before the review board. Once when I came
the review board, they were going to send me back to the hospital in
Toronto for operation. Then they changed their mind and sent me home.
They took the uniform I had, gave me thirty dollars and said go home.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I would never have made
a flier. I've smashed up two airplanes since then, survived two plane
crashes. If I had gone over there, I would have been killed.
You've done your bit, l would say with respect to planes. There is no
doubt about it.
Enemark: It worked out real good for me. When I came out
of the air force, I had several different jobs. I worked for
coppersmiths, ship yards, airport, and went logging. Worked in Alaska
for a year.
Draper: Just before you go on, I want to ask you something
more about the war. What about the people left in Prince George
I thought if l gave you my background, telling you about the way I
think, you can do whatever you wish with it. I don't care. I know
you're here to find about Prince George but then you started asking me
questions about me so
okay I'm telling you about me which
I'll finish and then get back to Prince George and the history of
Prince George. I got a job logging at Stewart Island. I got hurt. I
back to Vancouver. I bummed a ride with a guy up to Prince George. When
I greeted my old friends here I knew that this was where I was going to
make my home. This was my reason for coming back. There was my old
buddy, Johnny Assman, who is Herbie Assman's father.
Draper: From the
Enemark: No, that's his uncle. Johnny's dead now. Johnny
inherited Carl Anderson's business. His son, Herbie Assman, has now
inherited it. He was my buddy from the time we were kids. From then on,
Prince George I can relate because we went through the boom of
everyone owning sawmills. I owned three different sawmills at different
Draper: You owned three sawmills. How did you get into
Enemark: Anybody could own a sawmill. All you did was block out a
piece of timber. You didn't have to be smart. Why do you think all
these Saskatchewan guys made it? They didn't come here with
Draper: Almost like mining, you would stake your
Enemark: That's right. That's the way it should go back to. Now
all the big companies own everything. They dictate policy to everybody.
There is no one today that has their independence.
Draper: What kind of
equipment did you use in the sawmill?
Enemark: At that particular time
the criteria in the mill was something that would cut thirty thousand
board feet. If you could cut a thousand feet a day for each man you
hired, you could make money. That included the logging and the sawmill.
The first mill I had horses. There were very few cats around the
country. In fact, I had one of the first larger cats there were in the
country, myself and another fellow by the name of Bill Bellis. My cat
was a little newer than his. There was always a contest between myself
and another fellow, Tommy Walsh. I've got two cats Spike, how many cats
you've got. He knew that I only had one but he had to rub it in. I had
nice mill at Mud River where Clear Lake is. I moved out of there
because there was no timber left and that's how stupid we were
in those days. They've been cutting timber there for thirty years. A
mill that would cut thirty thousand was a good mill. I didn't care for
the sawmill so I went more into logging. Then I got mixed up in
construction. I met Mr. Ginter. I took a contract clearing twenty one
miles of right-of-way in Pine Pass. If you drive through Pine Pass at
any time and see all the hills where the wood is burned off' I'm the
guy responsible. That was the year before anybody in British Columbia
was concerned about a forest fire.
Draper: Whet year was this?
1955. The people in Prince George said it wasn't in their district to
fight the fire. The people in Dawson Creek said I started it, l could
put it out. I never got a dime's help from the Forestry. It cost me
everything l had to fight that fire. If I was had it to do over again,
I would just walk away. That's what I should have done at that time.
They can talk all they want today, but this is evolution, the way
things happen and transpired. After that, I went to Kelowna. I was
Equipment Superintendent on Kelowna bridge. I was there a year. I came
back here and bought a clothing store. The reason I got the clothing
store was that I traded my house in Kelowna to the guy who had the
clothing store right
next to Northern Hardware. l wasn't on the job a month when there was a
big forest fire. They drafted me right up behind the counter to go up
and help the forest fire.
Draper: Suddenly, now you're involved.
Two years after there was nothing at all. They figured there was nobody
in this country had more experience fighting fire than me. I certainly
had the experience.
Draper: How did you fight that fire?
Enemark: I spent
most of my money with cats, buying pumps hoses and traveling back and
forth. I had to pay the whole crew out of my pocket fighting the fire
for six weeks. That was the same year they built the natural gas
Draper: Were any loggers thinking about reforestation at that
Enemark: No. I have my own opinion about that but I'm not going to
put that on tape. This reforestation is a wonderful thing but I don't
think it's being done in a practical manner. Tree planting is not as
important as tree thinning. When I flew north to work on the Alaska
Highway in 1944, the whole country was on fire. Nobody cared. No one
was out fighting fires except in the immediate community of Fort St.
James. This is the way nature takes care of its' own by bug
infestation, over mature timber that should be harvested. We have more
problems today than they talk about. Ninety percent of the timber in
this country is over mature and should be harvested right now, cleaned
right off, as fast as they can take it. .These trees that the bugs get
into are all over mature. This was in 1944. I'm talking
about forty three
years later. Two years ago I was running cat at a place call Truch.
What happens in the transition. The fire takes everything. Fireweed
grows, deciduous wood, poplars, to provide food and shelter for the
evergreens to come up. The leaves enrich the soil. First of all the
ground has to be burned off right down to the mineral soil. Then
comes the evergreens. Then the evergreens come up. You can drive miles
and miles through all that area. Those trees are ten feet high. They
are grouped so close together that they will never grow to maturity or
produce anything. They have to be thinned out. To me at this particular
moment in forestry, it is far more important to thin out the trees and
get them to mature than it is to plant new trees.
Draper: We were
talking about your experiences in logging. You were also involved in
real estate. When you started, how big was the town?
Enemark: How far
back do you want to go?
Draper: As far back as you can go.
go back to the thirties when I worked here. There were more people in
Wells than Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George and Vanderhoof put
Draper: Were they after the gold?
Enemark: Yes, there were
four thousand people at one mine alone. Prince George had sixteen
hundred people. They were losing their homes to tax sales. Even the
judge lost his home to a tax sale. Things were tough.
Draper: It was
pretty small. I'm interested in how it developed. How did a person
decide that they
were going to put a subdivision in a certain area. When did that start
Enemark: Prince George had no reason for being where it is if
it wasn't for the carpet baggers on the railroad. Carpet baggers were
those who came first and subdivided the land before the railroad came.
Prince George was South Fort George to begin with. The Indian Fort was
on the flat. South Fort George was an Indian village. The boats
provided the transportation up and down the river. That was the only
means of transportation. South Fort George was the natural boat landing
because of the deep water. When the railroad was going to be built, it
was scheduled to cross the river where the highway bridge is, go
Central and cross the Nechako before heading west to Vancouver. That
the road that was surveyed out. This fellow Hamilton cane and
subdivided the land. The railroad crossed him up and built the bridge
down here. This was all swamp. Every spring the whole area
Draper: Why would they want to put the railway here?
This was their land. Surveyors came and laid this city out. I think
it's the most beautifully laid out city in all the places I've been
because of the way they patterned the Crescents. They put a reservation
on Connaught Hill which served the purpose of a park. They put a
reservation on on Carney Hill which serves as our water tower. They
reservations on the land which has been made into park
area, space for
Civic Centre. You must remember that the hills were inaccessible in all
these places. They were all swamp, unusable. They put reservation on it
to make parks which I think is wonderful for the growth and development
of Prince George. These fellows realized they were crossed up when
other people came in and other piece of high ground didn't get flooded.
I think they skimmed a bit of the land from the Indians. Things were
dormant in this town until after the war. Strangely enough the people
who lived here survived the depression. When they came back from the
war they couldn't see any development or growth. I couldn't see any
development or growth. I could have bought lots up in this Millar
subdivision for twenty five dollars a piece. I took my wife over. I
said, " Margaret, let's buy a bunch of these lots." We had a few
dollars. Who would live over here? There was no light, no power. There
was nothing. There was one street light on top of the Catholic Church.
I used to take a girl home once in a while. She lived on a farm between
Prince George and South Fort George. When they got the street light,
that was the end of her. She walked the rest of the way by herself.
After the war people needed places to live. I needed a place to live. l
came back in November 1945. I had an apartment, one room. We had a boy
five years old. I bought a chesterfield and furniture. My wife and I
slept on the chesterfield. The chair we put at the foot of the bed for
the kid to sleep on. We got by that winter. When the spring came, the
army had moved out and all the army buildings were left. There were
hundreds of them. With permission from City Hall, you could get
half dozen rooms, whatever you needed. All you did was write your name
in chalk on the floor for what you wanted. I can remember three of the
fellows that went with me. All three are dead now. We took a whole army
building and divided it up. All we did was pay for the light. We could
steal the coal to keep the furnace going. We stole coal from the old
Airport and also from downtown. There were big mounds of coal left from
the army. We just went and helped ourselves. You had to borrow a truck.
We got by good that winter living in the army camp although the army
camps were cold.
Draper: Where was it located?
Enemark: There were army
camps all through the Nechako subdivision and the Carter Industrial
Area. There were maybe two hundred buildings. They had quite an army
depot here. In the spring they sold the army buildings for ten
dollars a foot, maybe two dollars a foot. You would go and saw yourself
piece of building, hire someone to move it downtown for you. Myself and
another fellow by the name of Ted Goode, we must have moved fifty or
sixty of these houses downtown. I could show you half a dozen buildings
that I moved downtown that are army buildings. A few of them are left,
one over on the next block. They have been made over, false fronted.
The end of the water line at that time was Carney Street. That was as
west as the town went. Everything had been
subdivided right back to the hills back in 1910, 'l2, 'l4, before the
railroad. The end of
the water line was on Carney Street. There was one water standpipe on
the corner of Carney and Third. The only other one l know was put in by
the army was on the corner of Fifteenth where the Camelot Motel is.
People used to pack and haul their water from various standpipes. There
were no other services. There was no pavement. There were all wooden
sidewalks. There was a wooden sidewalk that went from here to South
Fort George and across the old wooden bridge where the fill is now.
Right after the end of the war things started to build up and
Draper: What about the Seymour subdivision, when did that
Enemark: With the assistance of the federal government, they put
in the Nechako subdivision which was the first subdivision where all
the amenities and facilities were provided for the cost of the lot. The
second one was the Seymour. These were done by the City. The City did a
good job in controlling the price of lots, keeping the price down so
the people could afford to buy them rather than have independent
developers come in and capitalize on price of land which was done on
the land west of the bypass.
Draper: What about some of the street
names? This is something that the University Women's Group is looking
into, the history of why streets were named.
Enemark: This is my
favourite story. When l came back to Prince George l was involved with
the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Harold Moffatt was the head banana at
that time. He conned me into taking a map of the City of Prince George
and laying it out so that people could find their way around the city.
had been to Calgary, Edmonton and several other cities. I laid out two
patterns for the City of Prince George, one after the pattern of
Calgary which is in quarters which I liked. I like that far better than
the system they have in Edmonton. The one in Edmonton which is mapped
out in ten thousands. You know exactly where you are at any time. You
can direct people to go anyplace with no problem at all. To me that's
the way this thing should have been done rather than the hodge podge we
have today. Unless someone can give you proper directions, there is no
way you can find your way around Prince George. I can remember
appearing at council with my maps and feeling important. Harold is with
me. I give my big spiel to council. I'm shaking and greener than grass.
They listened to me very attentively. Finally one guy sits back.
lights up his pipe. He says you've done a good job there
but he says..... ( The tape shut off while he was still talking.
was the most wonderful person I had ever met, one of the nicest guys
I've every met. He was my truest friend and we had a lot of good times
together. Unfortunately he had a heart attack, went out like a light. I
really missed that guy. There were two people that Prince George owes
to than anyone else. One of them is Garvin Dezell, who was City
He had no training as a City Manager. He came from Banff. He tried to
promote the ski hill. He spent a lot of time, effort and money building
it. He built a nice big house where Dr. Ewert lives
now. He was a nice guy, good thinking man. There was another man
named Bill Jones who has just retired. Unfortunately for Bill he
didn't have enough education to hold the job that he was doing. Much to
chagrin of Garvin Dezell, he wouldn't go back to school, spend a couple
of years at city's expense and get the degree he needed to become a
fledged engineer so he could handle the job within the
city. I go n record today and I don't care how badly it hurts Mr. Obst,
the saddest day that ever happened for the development of downtown
Prince George was when Bill Jones was relegated to a secondary position
to Mr. Obst as City Engineer. This was forced on us by
Associated Engineering. I was a member of the council at the time.
There are three people who were key people in the development of the
City of Prince George; Bill Jones, Erin Thompson and Garvin Dezell.
There was another guy who should be remembered in history. His name was
Charlie Graham. He was a dry cleaner and also on the council. We needed
paved streets in this city in the very worst way. There was no way we
could find any money. The taxpayers
weren't used to paying taxes. When you look at the budget they have to
throw around today, and
the way they throw it around, it makes my blood boil. Charlie Graham
with some way that the city could get a grant from the Provincial or
Federal Government on a per capita basis. We were able to
get some extra money to pave the streets in Prince George. Through the
ingenuity of Charlie Graham, we were able to get our paving program
under way in this town a few years sooner than what would have been
Draper: When did it start?
Enemark: It has to be somewhere between
1957 and 1960. Those were my years on council. Back to the Street
names. It was Erin's idea to name the streets from the river. We have a
good numbering system in a sense as everything starts from the Nechako
River going south by numbers and the same from the Fraser going west.
The system isn't bad. When we started naming the streets in the Millar
addition, we started naming them by trees. Those were the first
streets we named alphabetically. In the Nechako subdivision they
naming by old timers. There was Hammond, the developer, the carpet
bagger, who started developing on Central. When I was a boy up on
Central, there were all kinds of buildings on both sides of the street.
They were getting to the point where business was leaving. They were in
a sad state, needed repairs. In 1921 or 1922, l remember the first
airplane arriving in town and landing where the Camelot Motel is now.
Just above the Seymour subdivision. There were no trees. It was all one
big field. We had the airfield down where the out of town rotary
stadium is located. That was our second airport. When the war came,
they built the new one. If it wasn't for politics, the airport wouldn't
Draper: Why did they decide to put it here?
For services to people, Vanderhoof would have been a far better
location for the airport at the time than Prince George as that was the
staging route to Alaska. The airport wouldn't have been in Vanderhoof
if it hadn't been for the staging route of transporting the planes to
Alaska. They went from there to Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and up the
Alaska Highway. The worst place in the world to build an airport was in
that swamp. There was nothing in there but great big trees. Part of it
was farmland. You should have seen the trees, stumps and muskeg and all
the fill they piled in to make an airport. That was a real job where as
in Vanderhoof all they had to do was cut the hay. There was Carney
Hill, named by a guy who used to be the City Electrician, a nice old
fellow. Dr. Alward used to be a dentist. He pulled six teeth out of me
at noon hour. The only reason he didn't fix them was that he knew I
didn't have the money to pay him. There's Ewert Street named after one
of the early doctors. He was the doctor that brought me into the world.
His son is still here practising. I think it has been a good system
naming the streets after old timers. It gives them a little
Draper: Freeman, did you know him?
Enemark: Tom Freeman,
yes, I knew his father real well. His father worked for the city for
many years. I understand Tom is pretty sick now. He had a heart
Draper: I have one question that is just a personal point
of interest. In the street names for the trees in Millar addition, how
did you come up with Engeldew for "I".
Enemark: That tree grows right
around. It comes from England.
Draper: Another thing I want to ask you
about is your political career. I have heard great things about
Enemark: I have always been a loser. I was on the council for
five and one half years. I enjoyed that. I think everybody should at
time or another be in a position where they can serve on council,
library board something of a public nature. That's one way a person
like myself with almost no education can get to meet people and earn
respect of people. That's one way you feel you are doing something to
better the fortunes of others. I had a clothing store and wasn't very
busy so thought I'd take a try at it. I enjoyed every minute I was
there. I don't know if l did any good or not but did my best. I've
always been a liberal. Much to my sorrow in one sense
and still had my independence on the other sense, had I listened
to Wacky Bennett when he was
first elected. He was laying in his
chaise lounge. I was in Kelowna at the time working on the bridge.
were only two people in
to see him, the day after the
election, myself and his campaign manager. He talked to me like a
father. I can still remember every word he said on his visions of the
future of British Columbia. The biggest tragedy of our times was that
he didn't live long enough or he didn't teach that son of his
something. I mean it in all sincerity. He taught his son to be
a businessman. There was no question about that but that
was the end of it. One of the tragedies of our times is that we
suffered through the government of Bill Bennett. If I had listened to
his father and become a Social Creditor, I would never have to look
back at anybody. I told him I would be a liberal until l die. There was
never an election but he didn't contact me personally and ask me if I
was ready to change. We got to be real good friends, me and Wacky
Bennett. When one of the elections came along, they needed a candidate
here so l became the sacrificial lamb in 1960. That was the year I ran
against Ray Williston and a lawyer by the name of Holtz. I managed to
come third. That was the first time I had the opportunity to get up and
speak before people. I felt it did me a lot of good. One chap, Hub
went with me. We had to go by train as there was no road to McBride. We
had a little meeting there. We had about eight to ten people out. Hub
King was directing and helping me along. "Spike" he said, "You have to
correct your English. You have a lot of trouble with those four letter
words." When I came back to town, I joined Toastmasters. Toastmaster is
something that everyone should take advantage of. It is the best
training for anyone who is afraid to get up and talk. It teaches you
how to speak properly. I really enjoyed Toastmasters. I had the
opportunity a few years later running in the
which l enjoyed. I was the victim of the times. When Iona lost out, we
all lost out. The party was practically wiped out. Had I been fortunate
enough to go to Ottawa, I don't think I would have stayed for a second
Once l found out what that life was like, I couldn't have lived that
way. They talk about a back bencher and the liberties you have and what
you can do for Prince George. You can't do a thing. You have the
opposition and all the other Liberals in the country wanting
something. They are all against you too. You don't have a voice. The
main thing to do is like the other people, don't do nothing. You would
more effective in opposition that you are in he government provided you
know what you're doing.
Draper: Were you involved in the early '70's
when Trudeau was becoming a big wig? How did Trudeaumania effect people
in Prince George. Was it a big deal?
Enemark: The one day of
Trudeaumania was really a big day in Prince George. It was the biggest
turn out the Liberals had.
Draper: People here were pretty
Enemark: I can remember the lady that was with my wife.
Trudeau shook hands with her. She never washed that hand for the next
Draper: How did you feel about campaigning in town. How did
you go about doing a campaign here?
Enemark: I had a motor home. I
traveled from east to west. I took my time and enjoyed it. I was a
victim of time. It just wasn't my time.
Draper: That's the same thing
that Ted Williams said. He was telling me about your political career.
He said thirty years earlier it was the liberals all the way. By the
time you were in
politics, the liberals were not the party more. When you look back on
it, are you glad you did it?
Enemark: Oh sure, I'd like to do what I
did over and not any different. I've enjoyed my life. I'm worried now
that the ranks are getting thin. There isn't going to be nobody left to
be pall bearers for me. That's what I'm worried about. I'm going to
outlive all these other rascals.
Draper: I bet you may well find one or
two or six or ten or twenty.
Enemark: Of all the men I worked with in
the mine, there are only three of us left. Miners are a close knit
of people. A certain group works together. You get kind of
clannish. I've kept in close contact with about twenty miners. Of that
particular group, which goes back to 1935, there are three of us left.
Three passed away last year. This goes back fifty years. Sometimes I
wonder what keeps some of them going.
Draper: Can you remember a
particular anecdote or something funny about mining?
Enemark: Do you
know Alex Fraser?
Draper: I know of him.
Enemark: He was the Minister of
Highways. He and I went to school together. We were the two dumbest
kids in the class. I can remember the teacher saying that we would
never amount to anything. When they opened the bridge, I wrote him a
letter. I had a personal invitation from Victoria. I thanked him very
much. In the letter I wrote to him I asked if he could remember old
Carson McGuire telling us that we would never amount to anything but
ditch diggers. He had this operation where he had lost his voice. When
the Bridge was opened, Virginia, his wife gave his speech. She said she
had a couple of other words to say about Alex getting a letter
an old buddy in Prince George mentioning that he would never amount to
anything. "I always knew Alex would amount to
something. That's why l married him." She mentioned Spike Enemark had
sent it to him. I wrote this poem for Alex twenty years ago. John
A. was Alex's father. His father was a
conservative. His father told Alex on his dying day, "Don't you ever
Draper: Can I read this out loud?
really don't know what to say about the son of the late John A. former
mayor and native son who wishes to become the one to fill the shoes of
Mr. Bennett, by-gone leader of Social Credit. Except I'm with you Alex
all the way, in spite of what the people say. I know that you're the
only one who can lead those Socreds into the sun. So hurry up and do
your thing and throw your hat into the ring. It matters not what
Gilardy (Gaglardi) does while being harassed by the fuzz or what he
says in exhortation while speaking to
his congregation. For he cannot the leader be. He's too old says
B. Remember your teacher, Carson McGuire, that you'd never set the
world on fire. Said you'd never be any bigger than a poor, no good
ditch digger. Get up and show that he was wrong. Show you really do
belong. Go to it Alex. We wish you well, all of us old timers from
Quesnel. We'll even get some help from George to beat the socialistic
hoards, conservative, liberal and the RFA. We're with you Fraser ell
the way." Lines
written for Alex Fraser on hearing that
he is contesting the leadership of the Social party by Spike
Enemark: Underground is a series of tunnels. A drift is when
you follow a vein of ore. When you go against the drift it's called a
crosscut or going up, a raise. That's the way you move in a mine,
crosscuts, drifts and raises. When you mine, that's a stope.
You use a
for stoping than for drifting. I was always a contract miner. Basic
was $5.25 a day. You could always make another dollar or two dollars a
day on bonus. A bonus means if a company shift was four foot two inches
or four foot six inches depending on type of rock you were in, anything
you broke over end above that you received a dollar or dollar and a
quarter a foot. I was a real good raise miner because I was strong.
You're climbing ladders all the time. You're packing your machines,
hoses, all the rigging and steel and everything else up to where you
work. When you go to drive a a hole, you take your first run. You drill
You have a little hole up there. You need a stage up
there to drill off. The first thing you do is go up, get yourself a
couple poles or pieces of wood. They call them sprags. You wedge them
in solid. You get a couple of planks, set them on. You haul your
machines, etc. up. You work off this scaffolding. When you have your
holes dug, your powder loaded, you take your rigging out and save the
planks, but not
the sprags. After you blasted that round, you haul that out. The next
day you're starting up, continually adding to your ladders as you go
up. I had the choice of partners all the time. I took this contract and
had this Finlander working for me. This Finlander was a big strong,
tough guy and a few years old than me. He was a lot more experienced
that I was. I chose him as a partner as I knew he could work, but l
forgot that he didn't understand English too well. He figured he was
the oldest guy and didn't want any kid telling him what to do. I was
the lead hand and he couldn't do much about it. Consequently he created
friction between the two of us. The first fifty feet we got along
pretty good. The higher you went up the harder you had to work. We were
having trouble all the time. You have a fifteen minute lunch break when
everything stopped. You sat and ate your lunch. That was the only time
you did much talking. One night sitting talking to him, I said, "Anyway
Oscar, I'm not like you anyway". He said, "I don't like you either".
That was a real put down.
An election story I would like to tell you
about an old guy by the name of Pascoe. He was a railroader for many
years. He was an American but became a Canadian citizen. He was a good
solid liberal. He was one of the old breed, always there to give
advice, help with the campaign and help you drink your whisky too. He
wasn't very happy with the candidate we had chosen for this particular
election. He says, "Boy, down in Florida, to win a horse race, the
thing you have to find is a horse. We aint got no horse."
about stories about some of these people in Prince George? All the
noteworthy type people, do you remember any stories about them?
Some of the stories I would tell about them, you wouldn't dare print
them. They are
better off forgotten. Particularly a lot of my past, I don't talk too
much about. I've seen Prince George grow from nothing. Until the pulp
mills came along, the economy was pretty shaky. You go back to the
'30's, the only people who had any security were the people who worked
on the railroads. That was the only job there was. After the war, the
mills started but it was a type of boom and bust type of operation. We
couldn't work during break-up as we didn't have the machinery. It all
stems from the banks. There was no way the banks would lend you money
to stock pile the lumber or logs. That was absolutely unheard of.
Consequently the winters were the boom times in Prince George after the
Draper: What was it like when it was boom time when Prince
George started to grow very, very quickly?
Enemark: I can't remember if I
worked for a little or for a lot. Anyone going hungry or asking for
Prince George was unheard of. This welfare is
something that has grown up in the last twenty years. People used to be
too proud. It's not anyone's fault. They are a victim of
circumstances. When everyone worked with a wheelbarrow and a team
of horses, there was all kind of work. Now everything
is automated. Every time we create a new piece of machinery, we put
people out of work. Somewhere along the line, that machine should be
taxed in order to support the people they put out of work. You train
people to be technologists when there is no room in technology for
them. We had the same problem in the same way forty years ago when we
were in the sawmill business. The people who used to work in sawmills
where everything was done by hand like canters, tin sawyers, and trades
of that nature which today you don't even hear about. Teamsters, for
instance, had a terrible time finding a job once the machine age
started. A lot of them couldn't fit in somewhere else. A lot of them
wound up being bums on the street. You talk about business in Prince
George. What do we do for secondary industry? This is something I would
like the answer to. One time, for instance, tinsmiths, were a real
solid profession. There were at least four solid tinsmith business in
this town. The families are well known. There are still some of them
around, Arnetts and Harpers. Today there isn't a tinsmasher in town.
That's a second industry that has disappeared. It's just wiped out.
What do we find to
replace it? These are the problems we are
having in society today. First of all, none of the economists have any
practical experience and yet they tell you what's going to happen. They
spend so much time in school, they haven't had a chance to see what
on in the outside world. Yet, they are recognized as authorities. They
set themselves up as authorities and consultants. All they know is what
they took from e
book. Those are my thoughts on a lots of things.
Draper: You've answered
my questions. I'm just wondering if there might be anything else you
wanted to say.
Enemark: If we had a
couple of beer, maybe we could talk for the rest of the day. All I can
say is that there is no other place that I want to be or live other
Prince George. It's always been my home
and I've always made a living here. It might not have been a good on. I
spent seven years in Vancouver before returning to Prince George. There
is no place in the world like Prince George where they look after the
old people. This is a credit to a lot of people who worked voluntarily
to help the older people in Prince George. I'm old enough myself to see
it on the surface. When they had the visit of Prince of Wales, you saw
the number of people who sacrificed their time to youth groups, older
people and various other activities within this centre. I don't think
there is another community that can compare with the type of people
that are citizens of Prince George. I just hope that everyone will get
behind them and get the Civic Centre going. That's the next thing we
need to get this city rolling. We need it bad.