Interview with Jane Kennedy
This is the first side of the tape of an interview with Jane Kennedy on
April 23, 1987, at her home in Prince George, B.C. The interviewer is
Thea Stewart. In 1914 Peter Wilson moved from the Kootenays to Prince
George with his wife and seven children. Jane Kennedy was one of those
children. Now in 1987, she is still in Prince George living in the
house she and her husband built on the banks of the Fraser River. She
has two sons, Scott and Jack.
Stewart: Mrs. Kennedy, let's review a
little history. Could you take me back to 1914 when your family moved
to Prince George.
Kennedy: Not very well. I was only eight years old. I
wasn't too observant about things. I really don't know what would be of
Stewart: How did you get here?
Kennedy: On the railroad that
came across the bridge on the Fraser River. The bridge was open. We
came on the first train that went all the way to Prince Rupert, not the
first train to come to Prince George but the first one that went
through to Prince Rupert.
Stewart: Did you all come at that
Kennedy: No, my older brother stayed home to get his high school
graduation diploma but he came at the end of June.
father had a good job in the Kootenays. Why did he want to move?
He was a county court judge which sounds like a good job but they
didn't pay very much and he had seven children. Also, there had been a
lot of advertising about how wonderful this part of the country was.
Everybody was going to make a fortune. A lot of people came in for that
reason. The war slammed all the good plans down.
Stewart: Where was your
first house when you arrived? Can you recall where you lived?
can recall it quite well but whether I can describe it or not is
something else. it wasn't too far from the hospital.
Stewart: From the
present day hospital.
Kennedy: No. The present day hospital wasn't
thought of. There was another hospital.
Stewart: You moved onto what you
called the Cache. Can you explain what the Cache is?
Kennedy: The Cache
was where the construction people for the railroad built. They didn't
build the houses but the construction company did and a lot of them to
various people who worked
for the railroad in different capacities. My father got in on it
because he was their
Stewart: You mentioned families Foley, Welsh and Stewart: Who
Kennedy: They were the Construction Company.
father worked for them.
Kennedy: He had his own practice but he did
their legal work.
Stewart: Where did he make his office?
first office was on George Street, down at Fourth and George. it burned
down. The next one was on Third avenue, near George street. He had
several offices at different times. There wasn't a great choice, very
years after you arrived here, the war broke out.
Kennedy: No. The war
ended in 1918.
Stewart: Your memory is better than mine, Mrs.
Kennedy: No, the war broke out the year we got here,
Stewart: That's right. The situation changed soon after
you got here.
Kennedy: Yes, wars always do that.
Stewart: Did a lot of
people from here leave to join up?
Kennedy: Yes, a great many. The boom
days were gone. There wasn't the money for construction. A lot of
who came to make their fortunes went away poorer than when they
Stewart: Whet do you remember of your school days in Prince
Kennedy: That's a long story. We started out in the old red
school, tin building with two classrooms, four grades in each
classroom. As the population grew the schools were moved into four
cottages which was along Vancouver Street. Each cottage had two grades.
We went there first and eventually they had the King George and various
other schools. They came along in due time.
Stewart: How did you get to
school if you were living down on what is now First Avenue.
Those were the days when people could walk.
Stewart: In the winter you
could have skated, skied or snow shoed.
Kennedy: The walking didn't seem
like any hardship. Everybody walked. This friend of mine that I used to
see came across the Nechako River on his skis in the winter and go to
school with us. In the summer he would come in a canoe. He would come
far as our house, then we would all walk to school together. People
don't believe that other people walk.
Stewart: Was there much discipline
in the schools in those days?
Kennedy: I thought there was a lot. We
went to school because we wanted to so there was no need of straps. We
liked to go and enjoyed it. I wouldn't say we were all angels, we were
far from it. The discipline was much better than what it is
Stewart: Did you get a lot of homework?
Kennedy: I can't remember
doing any homework but I suppose we did get some. Yes, the War, that
the First World War affected Prince George badly. The town just sat
still for many years. So many people went off to enlist. The only thing
that helped was that we had troops here and they lived in the old
storage place down at the Foley, Welch and Stewart Camp on the Cache.
Well, it was a training camp. The flu epidemic was bad here. There was
flu all over Europe after the war. They set up a hospital in Connaught
School and my mother nursed there. My older sister, Pat, was very ill,
but none of the rest of us were that ill. Holidays? Yes, we celebrated
Victoria Day, May 24th I think it was, and I suppose we celebrated in
the usual way. We had picnics, swam, parties of us would play. Yes, we
swam in the Nechako, from just below the old bridge down to the Fort. I
don't think the current was too strong. We weren't really taught how to
swim, just found out how to use our arms and legs. I love swimming,
always have. No, we didn't have Graduation Balls then, but at one time
girls had Coming-Out parties at the old Alexandra Hotel. It was very
formal. My older sister had he rComing-Out party there. She was the
one in our family who did. They couldn't afford it for the rest of us.
remember one summer holiday. There were cabins at Six Mile Lake and we
went there one year for a week, the whole family and all our supplies
for a week. The only way you could get across the Fraser was by ferry.
No, the bridge was just a railway bridge then. We had this great big
wagon, with two horses and all
our groceries. We
children had to walk practically all the way. It was our first lake
holiday and very exciting.
How did I meet my husband, Harry Kennedy? Well, it was either at a
baseball game o, some party. Prince George was a small community then
and we knew everyone,
either playing in the summer or
curling in the winter. Harry's family came out from Manitoba in
1921. They moved for the same reason as our family did. There were
opportunities in Prince George in those days and everyone was coming
west. Harry got a job the day after he arrived. Saw an advertisement
for an apprentice at the newspaper, "The Leader", and that was the
start of his career. Several years later that paper joined with "The
Citizen" which was owned by H.G. Perry who was well known in Prince
George and our MLA in Victoria. After school, I taught for three years
at the King George V School. My other sisters did the things women did
in those days. They were nurses or stenos, that sort of thing. Except
for my youngest sister, Judy, she was a cab driver. Yes a cab driver.
She loved it. Yes, it was unusual in those days, but you must remember
there was no violence in Prince George. Not like today. My brother jack
studied law and eventually became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
B.C.. He was a fine man and a fine Chief Justice. I married Harry in
California. He went to San Mateo in 1927. Better job and he learned the
linotype trade. After he left Prince George, I was lonely without him
went to California and married him. No, none of my family came to the
wedding. It would have cost too much for them all to travel down there.
We stayed a year and then moved back to Prince George. Shortly
afterwards moved to Prince Rupert where my husband got a job with the
"Daily News" where we stayed for nine years. I didn't like the rain and
the wind, but we had lots of friends and our two sons, Scott and Jack,
were born there. Yes, those were the depression years, but we didn't go
hungry. Just had to cut down on a lot of things. Harry, thankfully, had
a job. In 1939 Harry joined up in the Royal Canadian Artillery. We were
back in Prince George, and would you believe it, he was sent back to
Prince Rupert. He was in Canada throughout the war. I stayed mostly in
Prince George, saw him when he wasn't stationed too far away. Yes, we
did have troops again in
Prince George. I think they
were... Their camp was where the Exhibition grounds are now. They
the economy of the town and also a great demand for lumber so the town
started to really grow again. After the war ,Harry came back to Prince
George and "The
Citizen". About three years later he and two others, Cliff Warner and
Nestor Izowski bought the paper. It was just a weekly paper then, but
they increased that to twice weekly and of course increased the
circulation. The paper was on Quebec Street then. I suppose you could
call it a family paper, most papers are. Our two sons and the other two
owners' sons worked there as paper carriers to start with. I
wrote children's stories for the paper. I enjoyed that, I liked
No, I didn't collect them into a book; they had been published already
in the paper. After about eight years, the paper was sold. Harry stayed
on, but the other two owners went to White Rock and Nestor Izowski
bought the "White Rock Sun" and I think Cliff Warner worked there too.
I don't see them nowadays, but they would call on us when in Prince
George. They both had family and friends here. Cliff Warner, in
particular" would come up here to see his daughter and
grandchildren.His daughter is Bev Christensen,who works at "The
Citizen" and has for quite some time. Then Harry's sister,
Della, married a Mr. Peckham, and their son, Wilf, worked at "The
Citizen" also. Yes,we did play golf. There was just a nine hole course
in those days but our real interest was curling. Summers are
short here but the winters long and everyone curled. Yes, I think
did win the Kelly Cup once. And, we were Honorary Members of
the Golf Club, the present one. That
framed picture of the front page of 'The Citizen", dated September 1970
was when Harry retired. There was a picture of Harry and a write-up of
his career in the newspaper business. The heading says "Harry
Writes 30". Do you know what that means? No, I
thought you didn't. To "write 30" means to end something and Harry was
his career with the paper. It means the end. You "write 30" to a long
career as he did. Because he left his work, I mean, the heading says
that because newsmen when they write a story, write "30" at the end, it
means they have finished that story. I don't know that he actually
loved the work, but he certainly didn't dislike it. No, he certainly
not stop working. He was busy. Was Coroner, that was interesting work.
driving habits of this city and district kept him busy. And as
Chairman of the UIC Board, that meant a lot of work also. I live on my
own now in the house on Taylor Drive which we built. It was the first
house built there. It overlooks the Fraser and yes, I can see the new
bridge, but it doesn't worry me. Maybe a bit of noise from the traffic
but the trees along the bank hide it a bit. My son, Jack, did live here
until two years ago when he was moved to Edmonton. I have many
friends from the old
days and family visit from time to time. This weekend I will be meeting
my great grandson for the first time.