Interview of Isabel Ford

This is an interview of Isabel Ford. It's March 23, 1987. It's held in her home on Fir Street. Interview done by Bernice Howard-Gibbon. Isabel Ford was born in 1909 in Grand Valley, Ontario. Her father cane to Prince George in 1912. Her mother end four children came in 1913. The first Sunday Mrs. Ford spent in Prince George was August 17, 1913.

Howard-Gibbon: Isabel, what year were you born?

Ford: 1909

Howard-Gibbon: Where?

Ford: In Ontario. A place called Grand Valley.

Howard-Gibbon: What year did you come to Prince George.

Ford: 1913

Howard-Gibbon: Can you tell us what brought you to Prince George?

Ford: Real Estate people were advertising in Ontario newspapers, My father and grandfather became interested. My grandfather came in 1910, just for that summer. My father came in 1912, Mother and four children came in 1913

Howard-Gibbon: What were they interested in doing when they arrived in Prince George. What type of occupation?

Ford: They were looking for land, farming.

Howard-Gibbon: What had they been doing in Ontario? They were farmers. Was it advertised as farming country?

Ford: it was land.

Howard-Gibbon: What do you remember of the trip from Ontario?

Ford: I remember my mother buying the ticket in Toronto.

Howard-Gibbon: She has a record of the price she paid.

Ford: Thirty nine dollars and seventy cents from Toronto to Calgary,

Howard-Gibbon: Was that for the whole family'?

Ford: Apparently. She had a section which was a upper and lower berth with walls around it. That was $11.00.

Howard-Gibbon: What railway would that be, do you know?

Ford: She doesn't mention the railway at all in her diary. The first railway she mentions is when she bought her ticket in Edmonton at the Grand Trunk Pacific Station. It was a ticket on G.T.P. lower berth for $12.15

Howard-Gibbon: That was to take you as far as Tete Jeune?

Ford: Yes, that's right. The boat ticket was $30.00. The stateroom was $5.00. Baggage was $5.95.

Howard-Gibbon: What boat was that?

Ford: The B.C. Express

Howard-Gibbon: You had a state room on it..

Ford: Yes

Howard-Gibbon: How long did it take from Tete Jeune to Prince George?

Ford: August 4th Mother left Grand Valley, Ontario at 5:15 pm. Her father came with her as far as Albaton. He got off and she was alone with the kids. She sent a telegram from Swift Current to let her aunt know the time she was arriving in Calgary. The ticket from Calgary to the boat didn't copy so I don't have that. She visited an aunt at Springbank. That's the 7th of August so she was three days on the train. She left Calgary on the 9 that 11:5O pm, arrived in Edmonton on the 10th a 8:15 am. Her nephew went with her on that trip. This must be a hotel, Royal George. Lunch was four dollars. No, she was in something called Springer Home Apartments. I know it was close to the railroad station. That's all I remember about it. I remember turning on an electric light in that room that my mother had for the whole day.

Howard-Gibbon: Were you not familiar with electricity at that point?

Ford: No, coal oil lamps were all I had ever seen. I was four years old. Supper was twenty five cents. She had car fare one dollar. I imagine to the train. She has berth to Edmonton down here but it didn't copy either. Ticket and lower berth at Grand Trunk Pacific office twelve dollars and fifteen cents. Left Edmonton at 9:3O pm, arrived at Tete Jaune 11:25 am. Room $1.5O Boys for carry valise $5.00. Ticket $30.00. Stateroom $5.00 baggage $5.95. That's the 13th of August. The 14th, Grand Canyon at 6:10 to 6:3O pm. Mother brought us all up on deck to watch it. On the 15th, 8:30 am saw a painted house and three gardens. 9:30 am a small river, a tributary to the Fraser. 11:55 am arrived South Fort George. My dad was supposed to meet us but he was busy. He worked for Bronger Contractor in South Fort George at the time. They were moving a house. He didn't hear the boat whistle. He didn't remember that we were coming. He didn't pay attention to the time. At 2:45 we left South and went up where Wilson Park is now. We got off the boat. We walked. My mother had a map and a key to the house my dad built from 1912 to 1923.

Howard-Gibbon: Excuse me. You said the boat came into South Fort George. Did it go back up the Nechako?

Ford: It went back up the river to Wilson Park. That's where we got off. We walked, each child carrying something, a bag or suitcase, mother carrying the youngest, Jean, who was fifteen months old.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you bring all your belongings with you on that trip?

Ford: No, sometime later my grandfather sent out my mother's sewing machine. At that time we lived across the river right opposite George Street, across the Nechako River. We were going to school in prince George then. My dad met us and the two Walduff boys, Clarence and Henry, at the river at five o'clock. Mr. Walduff, one of the fathers met us, they took us over. My dad did it mostly. He balanced this big crate with my mother's sewing machine on the top of the boat. There was about an inch or so of the boat above the water. My dad said don't you kids breathe, don't you move. On rivers you have to go away up because you drift a bit so you have to go up the river so you can land where you want.

Howard-Gibbon: Let's just leave that for now and we'll go back to when you arrived in Prince George. You walked to this house that your father had built.

Ford: We arrived at the cabin at 4:45.

Howard-Gibbon: Where was it located?

Ford: It was at the corner of Second and Ewert Street.

Howard-Gibbon: In the Nechako subdivision now.

Ford: Yes, my dad had come in 1912. He built a log house before we came here. My grandfather went back home and my uncle who had come with my grandfather settled at Fort Fraser.

Howard-Gibbon: Can you describe that house?

Ford: It was a small log house, two rooms. In here it says put in west window about November. There was no glass in the window until then. This was about August when we arrived. It was two rooms with a small partition atone, through the short side of it. It had a door and a window facing what is now Ewert Street. The other end was the bedroom end, which was behind the short wall. The end next the window and the door was the kitchen and living room.

Howard-Gibbon: How many children were there?

Ford: Four. Michael, Isabel, Winnifred and Jean.

Howard-Gibbon: How was it heated?

Ford: It was a plain old stove. I don't remember it at all but it had an oven because my mother baked bread.

Howard-Gibbon: What did you do for water?

Ford: Water was carried from near what's now the Cameron Street Bridge up a very steep hill. The hill was much steeper than it is now. It was much straighter. Or it cane from the water tower which used to be in the middle of what's now the By-pass, the entrance to the Nechako River Bridge.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you carry it?

Ford: Water was carried. Two pails with a yoke over your shoulders, My mother put down here that so and so filled the water barrel. Other than that, you melted snow or caught rain for washing mostly.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have an outhouse?

Ford: Yes ,no plumbing. There was no water system. You had to go to the water tower to get water.

Howard-Gibbon: And that came from pumps?

Ford: There was a pump right in the water tower at the end off Central Street at the bank above the railway.

Howard-Gibbon: That was probably put in by the railway.

Ford: No, it wasn't. I think the town did it. The real estate people in Central were very aggressive. They were really trying to develop Central which began at what's now Carney Street, went to about what's now Nicholson. There weren't many houses past Nicholson.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have neighbours?

Ford: Yes. We arrived on the 15th of August and Mr. Otto Dahlberg came to see us on the 19th. On the 16th my dad came home from South because two men who lived in a little house beside us and worked with dad over in South told us that there was a woman and children in his house.

Howard-Gibbon: You were there for a day or so before he realized.

Ford: Yes, he didn't come until Saturday. l think that was Friday that we arrived and he came Saturday. Sunday was the 17th. We had our first Sunday in British Columbia on the 17th of August. A loaf of bread was fifty cents. On the 18th unpacked trunks. Bread a dollar for two loaves and oatmeal eighty cents.

Howard-Gibbon: Where would you have been buying the bread?

Ford: There were grocery stores. Everything came down the river on scows then, all freight. No, there weren't farms around here yet.

Howard-Gibbon: Where would it be coming from?

Ford: The same place we did. The railway brought freight.

Howard-Gibbon: Actually the supplies would be coming from Alberta.

Ford: That's right. The CN, Grand Trunk, the PGE, none of those things were in. There were no roads. You walked any place. My grandfather walked from Quesnel to Vanderhoof and Fort Fraser, He worked on a road that was being built then, the extension of the Black Water Road. Graveyard Lake was his address. He put men's wages and how much his board was.

Howard-Gibbon: How long did you live in that house?

Ford: I see here that they are buying something else. It was on Highland Avenue. I think it was roughly the far end of what's now Harper Street where it joins Fifteenth.

Howard-Gibbon: That would be away out on the edge of town.

Ford: Yes. The log cabin we were in was 1913 and '14. In '15 and 'l6, Highland Avenue. From 1916 to 1918, we lived across the Nechako River opposite George Street.

Howard-Gibbon: Would that be below the Pulp Mill Road.

Ford: On the river side of the Pulp Mill Road.

Howard-Gibbon: Towards the mills.

Ford: Right opposite George Street. We could see the trains come if we were watching at the right times.

Howard-Gibbon: That's pretty good gardening land over there. Did you cultivate it?

Ford: Yes, we always had gardens. A day or so after we arrived my mother planted pansies which seems late to me. She had many nasturiums, sunflowers in 1914, asters, sweet peas. On the 26th of December she had a yellow narcissus blooming and geraniums in the house. She had asters and sweet peas outside. Cabbage, broad beans, tomatoes carrots, cucumbers and potatoes. My dad sold potatoes at times. In the diary it says sold one ton of potatoes.

Howard-Gibbon: Does it say how much he got for them?

Ford: No, some of it didn't copy when Denise copied the book. I came to that last night but I didn't write it down. I thought you might be interested in what they grew.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have any livestock?

Ford: I put the price of a team of horses and a cow down here somewhere.

Howard-Gibbon: What was your father doing at this time?

Ford: He worked for Bronger in South Fort George. I have his death in that clipping box when he died. Mr. Bronger came here for that first centennial that B.C. had in 1958, and the year that Dick Corless re-enacted Simon Fraser's trip. I didn't get to talk to him but of course, my dad did. We were honored guests at the dinner that the business and professional women put on for the old-timers. My dad, my sister, Winnifred Lonsdale and I were treated royally and taken over to the park, Fort George Park, which was barely opened then, still full of humps and hollows, no grass, mud all over, to watch Dick Corless sail off with his crew. We were given buffalo burgers that Harry Loder cooked in a big pit. We were given ringside seats for the program in the evening, the chinese dragon dance and the mounties musical ride. We were just a few feet from them. We were then taken downtown.

Howard-Gibbon: We were talking about the houses that you had lived in. Then we got off on a sidetrack what your father was doing. You said he was working for Mr. Bronger.

Ford: Later he freighted. After he bought a team he freighted to Summit Lake and Salmon River. He sold garden produce and potatoes. My mother baked bread. Somewhere in her diary, she ironed for somebody, a neighbour next door. She received a dollar for ironing half of the afternoon.

Howard-Gibbon: How would you describe yourself? How well off would you be?

Ford: Not well off. There was always a depression at our house, long before the 1930s depression.

Howard-Gibbon: Where did you go after you left the house across the river?

Ford: We moved back to Central to a house that Mr. Houghtellinq owned. It was a couple of blocks the other side of what's now Carney street at the south end. It had four or five rooms in it. Some of the other places only had two. Houghtellings had a big family, bigger than our family. They had ten children and we only had seven altogether. Six that grew up. We moved to what's now Moffat Street. We lived in three houses on that street. In 1922 we moved to Mud River living there for five years, from 1922 to 1927. We moved in South Fort George in 1927. The family stayed there from then on. My parents died.

Howard-Gibbon: When you were quite small, what kind of clothes did you wear?

Ford: The day the steel was laid past the water tower at the end of Central Avenue, I had on long stockings, leather shoes with rubbers over them, long black stockings over the shoes end then rubbers over the long black stockings. Those were our ski suits in 1913. A heavy coat probably cut down from some grownup's coat. All mothers made their children's clothes in those days. My mother even made our hats. It was likely a knitted hat that we had. My brother went to school in fifty below zero with underwear, drawers, shirt, a sweater, two pairs of socks lined coat, double mitts, boots and rubbers. My mother heard that it was fifty below that day.

Howard-Gibbon: What did you wear in the summertime?

Ford: We didn't have slacks. Girls always wore dresses. My mother made them, cotton. We had what was called a waist. It was a sleeveless garment that suspenders were sewn to. You hitched your socks onto the suspenders. Stockings were long but didn't wear the long stockings in the summer. It was too hot. I think when we went in the bush for berry picking, we wore stockings for mosquitos and from the brush scratching you.

Howard-Gibbon: When did you start school?

Ford: I went to the log school when I was five years old because my mother wanted to be rid of me. She had too many kids to look after so she sent me to school. Mrs. Warner was the teacher. Very soon Central School was built. The first two rooms of the existing Central School was built. We went there until 1922.

Howard-Gibbon: Where was the log school that you went to?

Ford: It was a little west of the present school.

Howard-Gibbon: Mrs. Warner, was that any connection to Cliff Warner?

Ford: No, they started in Smithers, Minnie Warner, did. I think her husband was editor of a paper there, coming to Prince George as Editor of the Citizen. I don't know who these people were.

Howard-Gibbon: You were five years old. Do you remember how many children there would be at that time?

Ford: I have no idea. It looked like a lot of children to me.

Howard-Gibbon: There was about thirty six children in the original log school. Was that the only log school in the area or were there other schools in the Greater Prince George area?

Ford: The first school started in South Fort George about 1910. A Mrs. Campbell was the teacher who later lived at Clucluz Creek. She was brought in to South Fort George to some anniversary. My sister, Winnifred Lonsdale, was a teacher, Mrs. Campbell stayed at her house. They visited back and forth from then on, getting acquainted at that ceremony or anniversary or whatever.

Howard-Gibbon: What do you remember about school during your elementary years? You went from this log school into a new school building, second grade I guess.

Ford: It was a too room school. Mr.. Bell was the principal. Miss Wade, who married Dr. Ewert in 1922, was the junior teacher. There had been another teacher before that, Miss Marwick. She married George McCullough who was killed in a car accident in Mud River some years later. McCulloughs were jewelers here.

Howard-Gibbon: What subjects were you taught in school?

Ford: Reading, writing, arithmetic, composition. We had readers, not grades, up to 1922. When we went to Mud River, they changed it to grades which would be from 1922 to 1927.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have any music in your curriculum?

Ford: Yes, we had school concerts. There was always a Christmas concert. In the Central School, one year the big First Presbyterian Church and the school combined. I was in that concert. When I was about five, I sang, "Sleep, Baby Sleep". I'm sure nobody heard me off the stage because I had such a feeble voice. This school concert that was combined with the church concert, I was in a tableau, the Gleaners, a painting of the Gleaners. A boy by the name of Walton Holden and I had to stand there and not move, dressed like the Gleaners. Mrs. Phillips who was a belgian lady married to a Canadian who had a farm out at Pineview was the instigator and planner for this concert. She was great for tableaus. One of my sisters had to put her head through a hole in a big cardboard. They had five little kids as angels putting their heads through this. They had to be still for two minutes or whatever. There were choirs. A Mrs. Butler was the choir leader at the First Presbyterian Church. She was a good musician. She recognized my sister Winnie's voice as a better one and her daughter Mona. She had them sing a duet at a Christmas concert,

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have a piano at the school or an organ.

Ford: I think a piano. In 1919 we learned the music to "In Flanders Fields" and we were made to sing it in school on Armistice Day.

Howard-Gibbon: The First World War, was it already in progress when you came here?

Ford: No. It didn't start until 1914.

Howard-Gibbon: What do you recall of that? How did it affect the town?

Ford: I remember Armistice Day very well. My mother was sick.

Howard-Gibbon: How would you receive the news?

Ford: I don't know. The C.N. Telegraph started about three weeks after the railway went past Prince George. My mother put in, "the steel crossed the bridge the 27th of January. The first week in February, some freight and passenger trains to Prince George from Edmonton. Three times a week the passenger train went, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 pm, leaving Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 am. The third week the telegraph started.''

Howard-Gibbon: To go back to the school again, what would you do in the way of sports and exercise? Did you have PE programs?

Ford: A school teacher who had been to the war, Mr. Johnson, had a basketball team for girls. We wore black bloomers under our dresses.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have a gymnasium then?

Ford: No it was an outside sport. Boys played baseball but there was nothing organized like now, no little league.

Howard-Gibbon: Did the girls play baseball?

Ford: I can remember being around the edges of baseball, mostly backyard baseball.

Howard-Gibbon: What kind of games can you remember playing at school?

Ford: I don't remember many games. We had what you called exercises, bending, right in school time. This teacher that had the basketball team for girls, that was on his own time. That was after school.

Howard-Gibbon: How was the school heated?

Ford: A furnace. Any children who took their lunch ate it in the furnace room to keep warm because the basement where we were supposed to play was very cold. Mr. Claxton, the janitor of the school, was our friend. He was around. We visited with him while we were eating our lunch. Mostly we ran home. in the summer we went home but in the winter we took our lunch.

Howard-Gibbon: How did the school get water? Did they have a water supply?

Ford: I think they had a well in the backyard at that time and an outside bathroom.

Howard-Gibbon: When you were going to elementary school, did you have household chores?

Ford: Long before I went to school l had to peel potatoes and mind the youngest child. My sister Jean and I washed the dishes and peeled the potatoes. My sister, Winnie, looked after the current baby. Winnie was allowed to do the ironing as she was better at it then Jean or I.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have to work in the garden?

Ford: We were supposed to but we weren't very interested.

Howard-Gibbon: What about the weekends? Did you have extra jobs?

Ford: There was always hoeing in the summertime to do, and helping with what my parents were doing. Everybody did everything.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you have to chop wood and bring water?

Ford: My brother was supposed to. Mr. Houghtelling came around with water from about 1915, twenty five cents a barrel. Before that, water had been delivered when we lived in Central, I think from the water tower. My mother doesn't name anyone before Mr. Houghtelling. When we lived across the river, we carried water from the river in a pail. All washing and drinking water was from the river.

Howard-Gibbon: Was it muddy?

Ford: No, it was much harder than it is now and much clearer.

Howard-Gibbon: Tell me about your leisure time, in the winter, your amusements.

Ford: We made angels in the snow. My mother went out with us and slid down hills.

Interview now April 27th

Howard-Gibbon: Did you skate?

Ford: No

Howard-Gibbon: Any skiing?

Ford: No, there was no skiing unless you made your own skis. A.P. Anderson helped my brother make a pair of skis. He gave him two boards, told him how to soak the board and tie it so it would turn up at the toes. There were sleigh rides organized by grown ups. I can remember going to South Fort George from Central. Sleighs were pulled by horses. They were full of people and kids, twenty people or more in a sleigh. We got home about 3 am. it was forty below but everybody had a wonderful time. That was about January 1914.

Howard-Gibbon: You went tobogganing, did you have those or sleighing on hills or sliding on hills?

Ford: We had a sleigh with runners. My brother had a sleigh with runners that my mother made for him, the wooden part or the top. They were used to haul things, these children sleighs. My brother would be sent shopping. He brought home meat. He had a list. The storekeeper would read the list. At the library they had a bill that I had saved and given them. Michael weighs sixty four pounds. They had weighed him. My mother put this on the list and asked them to weigh him while they were weighing the potatoes or whatever, more likely rice, a lot more rice than potatoes in those days. It doesn't take up much space and everything came down the Fraser River.

Howard-Gibbon: It would keep better too.

Ford: Yes, everything had sand in it. My brother wouldn't eat dried fruit.

Howard-Gibbon: Where did the sand come from?

Ford: From the water, scows were only this deep. Water would slosh over them. Everything got wet. The dried apricots had sand in them. It was just his imagination. It didn't have sand to the rest of us but he thought that.

Howard-Gibbon: Where would he ski?

Ford: Just in the backyard. At that time we lived on Moffat Street in Central Fort George. There was lots of space and no regulations about where you could go then. There were no organized parks. You went out the back door and skied. My sister Winnie, years later, skied from Cranbrook Hill to South Fort George on Friday night. On Sunday night when she went back to the Cranbrook Hill school, she skied to the bottom of the hill, then walked up to where she lived with Rushmans.

Howard-Gibbon: What about snowshoes?

Ford: There were lots of snowshoes. All men had snowshoes.

Howard-Gibbon: That wasn't sport. That was means of getting around.

Ford: Dad had a pre-emption out at Shelly. He was always going out to improve it. He went on snowshoes. There was no buses. Everything you went on foot. This top letter I was reading of my grandfathers. "I expect to walk seventy five miles", but he didn't say how long it would take him. "I expect to walk seventy five miles as I do not know when the boat goes back as they are not running regular trips, and they charge most outrageous, taxed me $12.50 for sixty miles without a meal or a berth.".

Howard-Gibbon: In the summertime, what would you do for leisure activities?

Ford: We picked berries. My brother minded all the cows in Central down at what's now Wilson Park. They had to cross the railroad track going to the park. There were two boats, two of the old sternwheelers. We played in them and used them for dressing rooms.

Howard-Gibbon: They were abandoned, were they? Just left there?

Ford: Yes, l get mixed up in the boats that were in Central and the ones in camps. There were two in the camps. Foley and Stewart built some boats to bring freight down from the Indians.

Howard-Gibbon: What happened to them eventually?

Ford: They fell apart. People picked the windows and anything moveable out of them.

Howard-Gibbon: I can imagine it was great fun when you were kids.

Ford: We had a great time in the boats. That was one of our activities.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you swim?

Ford: We paddled around in the river. Later we swam down at the steel bridge. There were no swimming pools or anything like that.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you every go out to Six Mile Lake or out to the local lakes for picnics?

Ford: Arnie did. He had a bicycle. None of us had bicycles so we were forced to walk any place we went. After I was eighteen or so, we had boy friends that had cars including Arnie. We went out then. I don't ever remember swimming in Six Mile Lake. Other kids did whose dads had cars but we didn't have a car. There was always a baby or somebody to look after for the older children in the family. My mother knew where we were all the time. We didn't go as far as Six Mile Lake. There were organized berry picking jaunts. A truck would take anybody who wanted to pay fifty cents. I guess the man wanted a little something for his gas. Winnie and my brother went to Salmon River to pick huckleberries. I went to the foot of Cranbrook Hill. We spent a day going and coming. That was blueberry picking. A Mrs. Drake whose husband was Mr. Hughes original partner in Hughes and Drake Ladies Wear, lived on Moffat Street. It rained the whole time we were out there. All the ladies went in a tent and played cards. This is the only time I remember seeing Mrs. Drake. We didn't pick a berry. Kids played around, in and out of the tent. We all gathered our pails and went home again. We were taken home in a truck.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you ever pick cranberries?

Ford: There was lots of them around. When we lived across the Nechako River, off what's now the Pulp Mill Road, there were lots of cranberries. We picked every berry that we could reach. There were lots of Saskatoons and we always picked them too,

Howard-Gibbon: Tell me about Christmas. Is there anything in particular that stands out in your family about Christmas?

Ford: In our family Christmas was a day that you didn't do anything, like Sunday. You went to church if there was one. We weren't allowed to look at our presents until after supper at night. Dad was the Santa Claus, took everything off the tree but I fear we knew what some of the parcels were from feeling them all day long. It was a home family day.

Howard-Gibbon: What would Christmas dinner be?

Ford: A chicken, if you were lucky, moose meat, a roast of beef or pork,

Howard-Gibbon: You mentioned earlier that you had school concerts at Christmas time.

Ford: One year the Presbyterian Church in Central and the Central School combined. We were let out of school half an hour early to go over to the church to practice. The practices were all at the church. That was a really super concert.

Howard-Gibbon: The concert was at the church or the school?

Ford: No, at the church because it had more space.

Howard-Gibbon: Where was the Presbyterian Church located?

Ford: It was somewhere near the Central School.

Howard-Gibbon: Where the Baptist Church is now?

Ford: No, away past that. Central School is on Harper Street. The church was very close to that. I don't  know exactly.

Howard-Gibbon: It's long gone then.

Ford: Yes, Ted Williams used to argue with me that there was never a church. He has now written a book on Knox United Church and the churches that preceded it. He has a picture of that church in the book. He discovered there was a church. We went to church three times a day sometimes. Sunday morning service, Sunday School in the afternoon and again at night. We went to something celled Christian Endeavor, a week night.

Howard-Gibbon: Did they have a choir?

Ford: Yes, Mrs. C.C. Reid who had a store in Prince George, she was in the choir. I think Dave Fraser who worked for the city was in the choir

Howard-Gibbon: Do you remember the name of any of the ministers?

Ford: Mr. Graham was one that we knew best. We moved away from Central in 1922. All this was before that time. We were very impressed with Mrs. Graham. We always had one doll called Evelyn for her.

Howard-Gibbon: When you finished elementary school, where would you be living then?

Ford: I finished what's now called grade eight in Mud River. I came in to write my grade eight exams at King George Fifth School.

Howard-Gibbon: Then where would you go to school?

Ford: It was called the elementary school then Baron Byng that I had gone to as elementary school was now high school. Apparently it wasn't quite ready. I went up to Millar addition school. It was a two room school and was used as a high school until the elementary school was remodeled.

Howard-Gibbon: You had to pass these exams before you could go into secondary school. Do you have any idea what percentage of kids would go on to high school? Most kids dropped out.

Ford: Not many, some needed to work. A boy who was a neighbour of ours didn't go on to school because he got a job. His mother did ironing for my mother. My mother did ironing for his mother at times. They had a daughter married. We think now she must have had polio. Her one arm she couldn't move. She woke up one day and couldn't move her arm. I went all my elementary school life with her. I don't know why my mother ironed for her once in a while but she did. It's in her diary.

Howard-Gibbon: Was this the only high school for the whole area?

Ford: That's right.

Howard-Gibbon: How far out did they come to go to High School?

Ford: Marydell Wilson, who is now Marydell Olivson, came from the east. Meryl Mallory who went to school with Arnie cane from the east. There were a lot of mills east of Prince George in the twenties. They had children. They either moved to town or the mother moved to town with the children or else the children stayed at a house run by the United Church as a dorm for mostly girls. There was a deaconess in charge of it.

Howard-Gibbon: Where was it?

Ford: Thorsensen lived in it afterwards. It was their house afterwards. You know Julien Thorsensen was a dentist. His parents lived in it. They had boarders.

Howard-Gibbon: Is that the house that Baldwins live in now?

Ford: No, it was on Fourth Avenue, a two story house. That was the residence for girls. My sister Jean went to school with a girl from west of here, Fort Fraser or somewhere. I forget her name. Burns Lake, maybe.

Howard-Gibbon: All these out of town kids would have to stay in town. There was no transportation back and forth. The ones who lived in town would have to get there as best they could, would they, to school?

Ford: We walked from South Fort George if we came to Prince George. I wouldn't have attended high school if l hadn't lived with a family close to the school. I just ran across to Duchess Park. They lived on McBride Crescent. I left at five to nine, raced down the hill. It took me twice as long to get back up the hill.

Howard-Gibbon: What subjects did you have in high school? Can you remember what you were taught?

Ford: I have some printed exams around here that I saved from my mother's diary. Not my exams but my sisters at different high school there and my sister Winnifred but I don't remember any of mine.

Howard-Gibbon: How many classes would there be in high school?

Ford: In the Baron Byng, there were four rooms.

Howard-Gibbon: Would that be grades 8 to 12?

Ford: No, grades 9 to 11.

Howard-Gibbon: What happened after that? You only went to grade 11.

Howard-Gibbon: Do you recall the names of any of the teachers?

Ford: That was junior Matriculation. About 1932, while I was in training, to keep young people off the labor market, the education people changed it in B.C. Some other provinces had four years high school for junior matriculation.

Ford: Mr. Noble was a principal when I went back to high school. I went back after I'd been out awhile so I could go in training.

Howard-Gibbon: Did they have any clubs in school?

Ford: No.

Howard-Gibbon: Sport teams

Ford: The boys had sports.

Howard-Gibbon: When you were going to high school, what do you remember about your clothes that you wore? What was in style?

Ford: I had a jumper. My mother was a great one for jumpers because she could make one or two jumpers. They lasted all winter and different blouses. That's what I remember wearing, skirts and sweaters mostly.

Howard-Gibbon: How long would the skirts be?

Ford: Half way down your leg.

Howard-Gibbon: Whet about stockings?

Ford: Everybody wore lyle stockings. Nylons weren't invented .

Howard-Gibbon: What kind of shoes'?

Ford: Oxfords, nothing stylish.

Howard-Gibbon: What about your hair? Long hair?

Ford: I had long braids until I was fifteen. As soon as I moved away from home living with another family going to high school in town, I went to a barber and had it all cut off. I've had short hair ever since. I tried to grow my hair once but didn't like it. It was too heavy. I couldn't manage it. I was really sick of long hair when we were kids, so heavy and took so long to dry. You didn't wash it as often as you do short hair,

Howard-Gibbon: Washing it would be a big job anyway.

Ford: Particularly when you carried water from somewhere or melted snow,

Howard-Gibbon: What would you use for shampoo?

Ford: Melted soap

Howard-Gibbon: What kind of soap would you use? Did you make your own soap?

Ford: My mother made soap out in Mud River when somebody shot a bear. The fat was used but she didn't ever get it solid. It wasn't in cakes. It was liquid. It didn't set hard.

Howard-Gibbon: Did it wash?

Ford: It was used for washing. We didn't use it to wash our faces with.

Howard-Gibbon: You would buy soap.

Ford: Palmolive. We had Colgate tooth paste. In Mud River Colgate sent around an advertising with jingles about Colgate. It had pictures for part of the words. They had a lump of coal and a gate for their name. Everything rhymed. Something about Colgate's ribbon dental creme keeping your teeth better.

Howard-Gibbon: During your high school days, did you have a job?

Ford: I had a job. I had a live-in job. I was a baby sitter.

Howard-Gibbon: With the people you were staying with.

Ford: Yes. Mr. & Mrs. Herb Porter. She was the first person with the Women's Curling Club .She was also the first worthy matron of Eastern Star,

Howard-Gibbon: In return for your room and board, you looked after the children and did housework too.

Ford: Some, yes, dishes. Mrs. Porter got the meals. The other family I lived with gave me a dollar a week. I went in training on that.

Howard-Gibbon: You said you went out of school and then you came back. What did you do in between'

Ford: I did baby sitting and helped people with spring cleaning.

Howard-Gibbon: How long was that for?

Ford: I went back to school in 1929. It was about three years I was out of school.

Howard-Gibbon: Then you decided you wanted to go in training.

Ford: I wanted to go in training all the time. With no money I didn't see how I was going to. The second family I lived with had lived in Prince Rupert. Mrs. Harlow had grown up there. Her father was a Presbyterian Church minister. She knew the Superintendent of Nurses.

Howard-Gibbon: That answers my next question. I was going to ask how you happened to decide to go to Prince Rupert. That was how it came about.

Ford: They paid more than any other hospital in B.C. After you got your cap they paid $15.00 the first year, $20.00 the second year and $25.00 your third year which I could live on. 1 bought a ticket and came home on my holidays to Prince George every year.

Howard-Gibbon: Did they have residence for you there at the hospital? There were four nurses in your class.

Ford: No class had been taken in 1929. A class went in 1928. They graduated in 1931. No class went in 1929. Sometimes they only had one pupil because nobody wanted to go to Prince Rupert. Girls weren't that interested in nursing. Everybody was learning to be a stenographer when I was in high school.

Howard-Gibbon: What made you decide on nursing?

Ford: I always wanted to be a nurse. My dad asked me years ago. We were walking by a creek at Mud River. I said I would like to be a nurse. At that time I didn't see how I would ever do it. With the help of the Harlows, they gave me a dollar a week. You could manage. I didn't have any frills but l bought a winter coat.

Howard-Gibbon: You had to supply your own uniforms when you went into training?

Ford: Yes. We had to have a plain blue dress, no pattern. A nurse by the name of  Lancaster helped me choose the material. She worked at the hospital here. In fact she lives at Vanderhoof now. Giernhardt or something like that is her married name. She told me the kind of apron I had to have, sheeting and gathered. Mine were flimsy compared to the aprons supplied by the hospital after we got our caps.

Howard-Gibbon: That was after how many months?

Ford: Four months.

Howard-Gibbon: After four months. You just needed to supply your own uniforms for the first four months.

Ford: If you didn't stay, they didn't want to put out material for somebody who didn't stay. After we got our caps we wore bibs, aprons, and a pink and white striped dress. We got a new one when they were very hatched and worn under the arms. The older girls would give us a piece of dress they discarded. We would patch under the arms. We got a new uniform for going to Tranquille and Vancouver General where we spent two months at each hospital.

Howard-Gibbon: Who paid your transportation?

Ford: Tranquille paid our way. They decided about 1931 or 32 that they needed help. They thought having girls in training might be cheaper than graduate nurses. This was the depth of the depression. This was an experiment. They wrote to all training schools in B.C. and the gals. There were many small training schools in those years. Prince Rupert wasn't the only one. Kamloops, Revelstoke and Cranbrook had training schools. Cranbrook and St. Paul's were affiliated. They were both Catholic run schools. Kelowna had a training school too. There are the clothes of 1930.

Howard-Gibbon: Look at the hat. A closed hat.

Ford: There's my class at Tranquille,

Howard-Gibbon: You graduated in 1932,

Ford: September 1933. I went in training the first of October. We wrote our RN exams in September of 1933. Two classes were taken in 1930, one in February and one in October. We all graduated in May, they wrote the April exams and we wrote the September ones because they couldn't spare us from the staff to study all at once, nine of us. There were five girls in the February class,

Howard-Gibbon: About how many beds were there in the hospital?

Ford: I don't know. it's in that book.

Howard-Gibbon: After that, you worked in Prince Rupert.

Ford: I worked in a doctor's office, Dr. Hankenson. He went to Vienna for ear, nose and throat course. I looked after his office while he was gone. After he returned, I got sick and went to Tranquille.

Howard-Gibbon:, You got T.B.

Ford: Yes, T.B. peritonitis.

Howard-Gibbon: Where did you pick it up?

Ford: We had open wards.

Howard-Gibbon: How long were you there?

Ford: About a year.

Howard-Gibbon: This was common in those days with nurses, wasn't it?

Ford: The whole top floor of the Greaves Building at Tranquille was full of Vancouver General nurses when I was there as a patient. I had been there as a student so they knew me. I wished lots of times I had stayed there to work but didn't even think of it.

Howard-Gibbon: After that, what did you do?

Ford: I came home. 1 got married a year later.

Howard-Gibbon: That ended your nursing.

Ford: I worked at the Health Unit for twelve years. I was the Aide but I liked it.

Howard-Gibbon: You married your childhood sweetheart, did you? You had known him for quite a long time.

Ford: Yes, we'd been in high school at the same time but not together, not in the same class. I was taking commercial and he was taking regular high school.

Howard-Gibbon: He grew up in Prince George. What was he doing when you got married?

Ford: Yes, he worked for the C.N. Telegraph, the commercial telegraphs. We were married in May, 1936 so add that up.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you go on a honeymoon?

Ford: He had been laid off in the winter and was called a few days before the wedding date. He had another man to take his place until we got down there.

Howard-Gibbon: Down to where?

Ford: Vancouver. He worked there most summers. In 1937 he got notices but never actually laid off. There was a little stock market flurry in January 1937. It kept him working but he got a notice every two weeks. We had our bags packed to come home to Prince George to live with parents but he wasn't laid off again.

Howard-Gibbon: When did you come back to Prince George?

Ford:  In 1944. He bid on a job in Rupert, a night job, midnight to eight in the morning. He often went to work at six o'clock at night and sometimes didn't come home until noon. They were so busy in Rupert. You have no idea what Rupert was like during the war. Depression facilities and boom conditions, American and Canadian services. People were living in chicken houses, garages. They built houses for the dry dock workers but some of them weren't finished until the crisis was over. They were so busy at times that the inspector for the C.N. Telegraphs worked as a clerk behind the counter because he couldn't stand to see six deep waiting to be waited on at the counter in the office. Artie has some interesting tales to tell about his experiences. Nights were wild around there at times.

Howard-Gibbon: You were in Prince Rupert during part of the war?

Ford: From 1941 to 1944. He came back in April 1944 and I came in May. The little houses they built for the Repeater Station men weren't finished when he came. He lived with his mother. Then they finished the inside of the houses.

Howard-Gibbon: He was working here.

Ford: Yes, he worked here until he retired.

Howard-Gibbon: Did he get passes on the railway?

Ford: Yes, and on boats too.

Howard-Gibbon: Did you do any traveling through that?

Ford: Holidays, yes. Twice we took the triangle tour of B.C. We had already arranged to do that the year war was declared. All holidays were canceled so we didn't get holidays until late in October. They got settled down for staff. Anybody in reserve took over. Before war was declared, they were called up. A young fellow in Rupert that we knew, Earl Gordon, was gone a week before war was declared. His sister was one of the nurses there. His dad was in poor health. They had a hardware store. He wanted to turn the store over to his sonny boy but sonny boy was gone for five years.