Interview with Audry L'Heureux

Melanie Rutherford: I am interviewing Audrey L’Heureux in Magnolia Gardens her apartment and my name is Melanie, so lets get started! How are you today Audrey?

L’Heureux: Just fine.

MR: So lets start at the beginning, where and when were you born?

AL’H: In 1925 in Springside, Saskatchewan, that’s a small town.

MR: Small town?

AL’H: Yeah, 300 people. MR: Oh really, so that’s small! Did you have any brothers or ….

AL’H: Siblings? I was the second of three. That’s two girls and a boy. MR: And how old were they?

AL’H: Well my sister’s just a year and a half older than I am and lives in Burnaby, we’re very close. And my brother is four years younger and he is on Saltspring [Island] now.

MR: Saltspring?

AL’H: Uh huh.

MR: How about your parents?

AL’H: My parents, father had been in the war, I was born, in ’25, just following the First World War. He had wounds that cut his life short because of lung disease from a [poison] gas [attack] and the terrible conditions in the trenches. He died when he was 46.

MR: Oh.

AL’H: Yeah. 1936.

MR: Oh, that’s when, he…

AL’H: I was 12

MR: You were 12.

AL’H: It was something I never got over. I was kind of an angry young woman, so…

MR: What about your mother?

AL’H: Well mom was stuck with three teenage kids, and when my dad died in 1937...wasn’t it I said? We didn’t bury him back there [Springside, Saskatchewan]; his own folks had been buried in the Lynn Canyon Cemetery, gorgeous place right above North Vancouver so we brought his body out, this was cold winter weather. We got rid of everything in our house and moved right out there with his body, and came right out to where my mother’s family had quite a big home, they were a well established family. Her family name was Auld [they lived] in Chilliwack [B.C.].

MR: Auld?

AL’H: Auld, A-U-L-D. And we lived with her family until she was able to get a little house of her own from some insurance daddy had.

MR: So you lived in Saskatchewan for 12 years?

AL’H: Yes

MR: Then you moved to Chilliwack?

AL’H: Yes, exactly.

MR: And so you went to school in…

AL’H: In a wonderful school in Chilliwack. I mean to die for.

MR: What was it called?

AL’H: Well, Chilliwack High School.

MR: OH, just….

AL’H: Yeah, that’s it, but big on basketball and you know, no monkey business.

MR: And how long did you live in Chilliwack?

AL’H: Well I graduated from there in ’43. And by that time my mother had a second marriage. She went and left my brother and me in Chilliwack during part of our high school years. While she had to go and make money, she went back teaching, and she went up the Coast to teach. My older sister went back to Saskatchewan to get her university. And my brother and I slugged it out by ourselves in Chilliwack for a couple of years, to get high school. Then the war cranked up. I wanted to be a lab technician, but it didn’t work out. I enrolled to become a radio wireless operator, which was a 2-year course that we took in one-year sort of thing. It was a Commercial Radio Wireless operator. So I was certified but I had to go to sea to get it signed and that didn’t happen. I came to the Vanderhoof Airport.

MR: So where did you go to school for…

AL’H: Sprott Shaw Radio Wireless downtown Vancouver.

MR: Oh.

AL’H: Right in behind the big art gallery. That was in the war years in ’43. Vancouver’s always been where I relate to.

MR: Vancouver [BC]?

AL’H: Yeah, yeah.

MR: So when you were living there…

AL’H: Uh huh.

MR: Just you and your brother, who were you living with?

AL’H: Just in our house.

MR: Just alone?

AL’H: Yeah.

MR: Oh wow…

AL’H: We had an Aunt and Uncle that fed us lunch. We never got along until we were alone together and then we were joined at the hip. But I was 15, 16 maybe, and he was 4 years younger, so…

MR: Sounds like fun.

AL’H: Yup. We made money somehow, mom taught school.

MR: Yeah. So did… you guys just went to school then right?

AL’H: Yes we went to school. Interestingly, my uncle there was Wilf Graham, and he’s still alive at 92 or 3 or something. And he’s an icon down there and he made us tow the line. I played hooky once and he found out and he made me go and take gum off of the art school desks for 10 days after school.

MR: For 10 days!

AL’H: I thought oh yeah, he’d let it go but he never. I’d never seen maypole dancing and we went with everybody, so well, I didn’t play hooky anymore!

MR: No I can’t imagine…

AL’H: No no, you towed the line.

MR: Yeah did you do anything else as a child like did you go in any clubs or any groups?

AL’H: No, in coming out when I was 12, 13, I was hurting a lot, and Chilliwack is a very cliquey town. It doesn’t matter what age or group you are, I mean you go to church and there was no drinking there. Except for the Legion, there weren’t pubs or anything, so it gives you an idea. But a big part of our life was Cultus Lake my mother would go out there in the summer and rent a big place and then rent rooms to everybody. And then we rented our place in town.

MR: What was the lake called?

AL’H: Cultus Lake, a gorgeous little lake. We cycled to it. Sometimes we cycled so much. It was 10 miles out there and half of it was up and down, straight up and down hills. And we cycled so much that one Sunday; we went out there twice and back!

MR: Wow.

AL’H: Ha ha…

MR: That’s a long way.

AL’H: Yeah we did lots of cycling. We had a good little group of our own. We were just as snobby as anybody else.

MR: What was your maiden name anyway?

AL’H: It was Spencer.

MR: OK. So during the war you said, well the wireless…

AL’H: I did, actually, I only had one year when the war was still on that I could take part in it. I was educated to be part of it. To start with for 6 months I was monitoring around the world signals at a place, at a barn that was camouflaged in Tsawassen and then I got tired of that; it was like 24 hour days type stuff, and you didn’t have a life. So I really made a push to get my meteorology that I had to get at the Vancouver airport and then come up here and go to a radio range, which is what I did. We had our code but we had to be able to draw diagrams for alarm systems and fix them so that they worked. And we had to do tests that you didn’t make a mistake on. They were 100% or you did it the again next month…so, that at Sprott Shaw you didn’t fool around to get that ticket. And we were top secret. My mother had to find somebody that had known my father for 20 years and write good things about him before we could take the course. And at one point somebody was talking too much about what they were doing during the war and they just got the ticket lifted.

MR: Oh, wow.

AL’H: We could have gone to sea in the Merchant Navy. But you could only go out to sea on a Norwegian ship, that’s the only country that would take you. And two from my class got together went out on Norwegian ship and they were in the Battle of Leyte. That was one of the worst battles of the war in the Pacific Ocean. All of a sudden I wasn’t that interested anymore in getting my ticket signed. I couldn’t care less! Oh God! I didn’t want to go out to sea.

MR: No, kind of scary.

AL’H: Yeah, scary.

MR: So after that what did you do?

AL’H: Well then the boys started to come home from overseas and the one guy dancing with me said, “I’m gonna marry you.” Well he was ready to go, the war wasn’t over, it was over in Europe at that point, but it wasn’t over in Japan and he was going to take training and go to Japan. Then the war was over in Japan when they started dropping these damn nuclear bombs. So I went back down to Vancouver. That’s what all the women did after the war they just took it for granted they didn’t have a job.

MR: Yeah. So what about the guy that was going to marry you?

AL’H: We did get married, this Jack Smedley and I -- great big handsome soldier type of fellow.

MR: So what did he do after the war?

AL’H: Well, his dad had lived in Vanderhoof and he had raised pigs during the war and he was a driven man. He had 13 in the family, not all boys, but he had it all figured out that when the boys came home from overseas he had a logging situation lined up with not much money, but logging. It failed. It was called Vanderhoof Products and Timber and for about 4 or 5 years the whole family was really involved with it. We took out pit props. When we first married we didn’t have a house. One of the jokes I tell these days is: When I first got married after the war, we were living in a tent. It was time to have kids, so we did! How funny is that?! About that time I got sort of shoulder to shoulder with a lot of the natives. We were working with them in our pit props and they ended up with a moose. They brought me this moose, and it became very well known. Called Pinto, and it followed me everywhere. I was pregnant,… we were the original gruesome twosome.

MR: So it just followed you all around town?

AL’H: Yeah it followed me. But the bottom line was that young kids would get in front of him and behind him and his ears would go back and moose have a cloven hoof and then they just let it fly- just like this…So I realized that we had to get rid of him. Calgary Zoo wanted him and we crated him up and sent him off on the train and it died of a broken heart. It was over the CBC that night, Pinto wouldn’t eat or anything, it just kept crying when I wasn’t there.

MR: Oh, so it missed you, sad.

AL’H: So they brought me another one… I didn’t get along that well with it.

MR: How long did that one last?

AL’H: Well, I had kids by then and you really didn’t want the damn thing around too much, and it was hurting the pigs. So my husband goes to the conservation officer and they took it up on top Sinkit Mountain and released it. The only thing I ever heard about that was like there were hunters out there then, and there were bonfires. When they were sitting around the campfire shooting the bull kind of thing, this moose comes walking out to the hunters. I don’t think it lived very long.

MR: Probably not.

AL’H: The moral of the story is don’t take a pet moose, but then, the natives had killed the parents.

MR: Oh, so that’s why you got it in the first place?

AL’H: That’s what happened.

MR: So how many kids did you have?

AL’H: Three, well my three children were all born within five years. It was a year or two after we were married that I was pregnant and had Albert. Within five years I had the three children, Albert, and then Georgina, and then Teddy. Teddy and Albert are still in Vanderhoof and Georgina’s a supervisor in the courts at Campbell River.

MR: Oh yeah.

AL’H: And Teddy and Albert have their own businesses in Vanderhoof.

MR: And when were they born? What years?

AL’H: Well, Albert was born in’48. Teddy was born in ’51, and Georgina in ’50.

MR: So are they all…

AL’H: It’s the years that the dam was being built.

MR: Oh, the dam.

AL’H: Which is a whole other big thing that happened after we owned the farm two miles south of Vanderhoof? Mr Smedley had this 800-acre farm. And its one of the first farms that had ever been surveyed and registered, in 1913 originally, it was called the Nechako farm. Well he tried every way to sell it, including advertising on the prairies and it didn’t happen. Jack had credits from his war services that Mr. Smedley accepted in the end, so we got the farm, 800 acres. We didn’t have any money to run it with. We got a great big tractor through VLA [Veteran’s Land Act] and a cow and a washing machine, well…

MR: Did you have a house then?

AL’H: Well we were building houses, we were in the logging business and we ended up where the house that we built will be there forever because of the 4x4’s with oakum in between and then we lined that all with shiplap and then sooner or later we lined all that with gyprock.

MR: So it’s still there now?

AL’H: Yeah, it’ll be there forever.

MR: Wow.

AL’H: But it was only 20x16 or something, but that’s what we raised the kids in, until we left and spent 2 years in Kamloops in 1956.

MR: So let’s talk about Vanderhoof for a minute.

AL’H: Yeah.

MR: What did you, when did you move there exactly? What was the year?

AL’H: Well it was the year I went up as a radio wireless operator, would have been ’44. Cause the war was over in ’45. I went there April of ’44, and the war was over in October. That’s when I got my discharge letter, while I was having holidays. And I never went back.

MR: Oh, so you just kind of got fired?

AL’H: Well they just sent a letter. I think I’ve still got it somewhere, it said that… no longer need your services, thank you very much.

MR: So they said thank you?

AL’H: Yeah, it was 20 years before I realized that the men that were in these outlying areas on the radio ranges were still there making big money. Then I’m thinking we were so broke on the farm maybe it wasn’t fair. There was one period of time I remember when for 3 months I couldn’t write home, cause the stamps…were only 3 cents but I didn’t have any money.

MR: Wow.

AL’H: However we didn’t starve because Mr. Smedley being that he was sort of the entrepreneur, had a commissary. We had to take our wages out in it, at $15 a week. We got coffee and sugar and everything. We ate quite a bit of hotcakes and spaghetti.

MR: So what do you remember about Vanderhoof when you first moved there? Like, what was it like?

AL’H: OK as a radio wireless operator, I got in on a little of the social life. It wasn’t easy because I was on 24-hour shifts, and nobody knew what the hell I was doing, they couldn’t imagine. Then for some reason or another I had come to Vanderhoof in a blue gabardine suit, and then I got a grey bowler hat, [Audrey was probably dressed too fashionable for the area] and they didn’t know what the hell to do with me. Mostly because the people that were living in the five buildings out there were with the Department of transport, just like up here in Prince George. All the people who operated the radio range lived in them, and somebody had to board me; it was just part of the thing. Well they thought they were killed because they had to board me. They thought that they had done something pretty bad because they considered themselves to be pretty VIP around Vanderhoof.

MR: What were their names?

AL’H: Well, all kinds of people, but mostly from back East that lived in these houses that were running the radio range. I mean you see there was an officer in charge and there was somebody on shift all the time and then somebody on holidays or something, so there was the five houses. So anyway, I got to go to some of the different events and to me it was a terrible culture shock because I came from Chilliwack where there weren’t any pubs. Well, drinking was a major occupation in Vanderhoof.

MR: Really?

AL’H: Yeah, it went on all the time. You know the pubs, somebody was always headed…and during the war, surprising enough, even though it was rationed, I don’t remember lack of drink. But I wasn’t drinking because I was always going to work. [24 hour shifts] They let me come to these things and I went because I couldn’t believe them. For example, in these little wee halls, they’d have a square dance, and everyone was swinging away out…so it was pretty interesting and a little scary

MR: So how many women were there with you? Like when you went up there?

AL’H: Well there weren’t any other women.

MR: Just you?

AL’H: There was one turned up that came to relieve for holidays and oh God, they couldn’t figure out what they’d done wrong in life …plus it was interesting getting into the war thing here because that airport had been built as an alternate to the Prince George Airport. And so a major construction job went on there, and it was done largely through the air force stationed there, it was before my time, there was only one still stationed there and he wasn’t living out at the airport. The other one that was stationed there Old Shep, I don’t know… yes, I guess he was air force. But he just sort of divorced himself from life in general and he had a caterpillar tractor that was to maintain that airport. Well everybody needed at cat, because everybody was trying to get their land cleared, and so he was quite a character and used his weight quite a bit. At one point I had a boyfriend that I was keeping in touch with at sea. He was in the Navy, and his ship went down underneath him and he was given survivors leave. I announced he was coming up and he was going to stay with somebody up there, and they said no way, he can’t stay here. Well Shep said of course he can, because there were barracks left over. So he stayed there.

MR: What was his name - the boyfriend?

AL’H: My boyfriend was Harry Osbourne. I always said: He needed a virgin and I needed a soldier, you know? And that’s about it… when he was discharged I was waiting for him after the war. Well, I don’t know, I was making arrangements with Jack at the same time too so…But there wasn’t anything there for Harry and I. During the war you couldn’t get serious with anybody anyway because everybody was going in a different direction.

MR: Yeah.

AL’H: Women... there wasn’t any birth control or anything. There weren’t any social services, I mean, you didn’t get pregnant. You didn’t have sex. It wasn’t part of our life. And we lived through it. I think we resented it a lot, and I think how painful it was for me in at least 2 situations. But it’s… nobody died. So that was sort of the Chilliwack and Vanderhoof scene. They made real wide streets in Vanderhoof, when there wasn’t much traffic then, I presume.

MR: Wide streets?

AL’H: The main street in Vanderhoof… if you go through it now, it’s the original surveyed street, and how come they made them so wide. They were riding horse and buggy at the time when they surveyed in 1913 originally, since the railway came through in 1914. Even when I came to Vanderhoof it was storefronts and dust and we knew everybody in town. When I came there were hardly any street lights and they were just 40 watt bulbs or something. Going down the hill into Vanderhoof you couldn’t see anything in those days, just black. So it was a very different place for me to be.. a big culture shock.

MR: So you said it was all dust and store fronts?

AL’H: That’s it, just like that; see there’s no pavement there on that picture that I painted. And there is a picture of a cowboy, on a bucking horse, in front of a building in Vanderhoof in 1930’s. Most of those buildings are still there being fixed all up.

MR: Wow. That’s really nice, so what else do you remember, early Vanderhoof?

AL’H: Early Vanderhoof, like they had outdoor toilets there and then you … just drive a sand point down and you got water right away because underneath Vanderhoof, its just sand and water. And when I came, they had toilets and they had their sand point, within 30 or 40 feet. No one seemed to get sick from it. Ginter [Ben Ginter Construction] and it was the one thing that he just about went broke on I understand, because it was like soup underneath there. I forget just how long during the day they ran power. There was power but it was limited in the day.

MR: Oh, so you didn’t have power all day?

AL’H: Yeah see I’m living out at the airport and we had our own powerhouse out there. We had one jeep out there, and I had to learn how to drive, and so, I wasn’t in town a lot. I walked into town now and then, it’s 2 miles. But when you’re on split shifts like that in a frontier town, and nobody has a clue, you don’t make arrangements with anybody; you don’t even know when you’re available. I got in on some of the drinking parties and they used to say to me, how come we’ve got to bring somebody up here and make all the money? I made $150 a month; a good secretary got $90.

MR: Wow.

AL’H: And I said, maybe if you quit drinking and gave some scholarships you could use your own worker. Well I wasn’t that popular. But they liked that because anything different was something to laugh at. They all seemed to take to me all right.

MR: Must have been a good party!

AL’H: Yeah, so…parties! I didn’t drink because I was going to work, usually. And I was only in Vanderhoof anyway you know, for 6 or 8 months. But then the war was over, so everyone was having parties, we had huge parties. Everybody was celebrating that the war was over. There was one policeman in town. It's not like I was living on the main street downtown. We got married in Vancouver the next spring, Jack came down. Then I came back up and we were working and living out in the bush and the Smedley's had a big log house on the farm, two miles south of Vanderhoof. And we had one bedroom in the front. There wasn’t any direct heating in the house and there was no attempt to heat that room so you put on lots of blankets. And it was all one big happy family kind of thing. Most of his siblings were involved with the Vanderhoof Products and Timber Co.

MR: With the farm?

AL’H: They were actually logging. A lot of it was about half way between Prince George and Vanderhoof. When we were taking out pit props we were staying at Wedgewood, a railway station that had been boarded up. We took all the wood off the windows and lived in it. There was no insulation in that place, and you could see through the walls in some places. It was the year 1948 there, I think when the temperature dropped to 65 below and we had stoves in every room and we didn’t have any time to work because we were just cutting wood. So that was a very rough time, but we had a commissary. We had as many as 80 natives that came out from Fort St. James and Vanderhoof, Stoney Creek, and they helped cut the pit props down and then they had to be peeled and then they were picarooned [a tool with a pick on the end used to move logs] onto trucks and in the winter time on sleighs. It was very uphill sort of stuff. Because they got slippery in the winter and when we were coming down hills they didn’t just slide off, the whole thing just placed itself off. It just wasn’t on the sleigh anymore, so it would have to be picarooned all back on.

MR: What were they - pit props?

AL’H: Pit props…they were 8 feet long, they were going overseas to be used in mines. This was after the war.

MR: Oh.

AL’H: And I know that during the war apparently there had been a market for it over there. We weren’t into it at that time, but we heard about it and some said that sometimes ships went down where they had pit props on and there were pit props all over the North Sea. But for 2 or 3 years after the war that was what we were into. That, plus Mr. Smedley and the boys actually designed and created a mill that was on Cluculz Lake right at the Cluculz Creek. In Vancouver they pulled down the old post office. Mr. Smedley went down and bought all the motors from the elevators. So he had them all stored in a barn ready to make one of the first electric mills. We had a compressor unit at the mill that cost us more than we could ever pay, and it was big. It was the timber that Lloyd Brothers are taking out now that we were after. Mr. Smedley wouldn’t go to caterpillar tractors, we had horses which meant we had to leave the mill when the weather was good, to put up hay. Unfortunately, there was a fire at the farm and all of the barns burned down destroying the motors.

MR: Oh no.

AL’H: Burned down, and the house caught on fire even, and soon half of Vanderhoof was out there fighting it. I was just scared somebody was going to get hurt. I mean I was a big help. I remember I was standing there with Albert on my hip and I was yelling `let it burn let it burn'…the barns burned, very hot, and the house was left standing, but never used as a house again. The farm wasn't exactly my pride and joy. You know I didn’t have power or water when I raised the kids. And I never looked at that as a problem; I never thought I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a time when you got married and you did what you had to do. And we did have a Delco plant, which went out at all the wrong times. But it was pretty up hill. We were in debt trying to farm. Our plans weren't working out and it was really hard work on that big, 800 acre farm. Of course this was after the Vanderhoof Products and Timber, because they were all gone when we had the farm. We took it over and sold it in ’58. Now that was a time when Alcan started building the dam, Jack was driving gas trucks and a lot of other people were driving the trucks that had the dynamite in them. This was a pretty wild thing building that Nechako dam. But it was the first wages that any of them had seen. That was 1951 when it was finished, so it was 2 or 3 years under construction. It was quite a boomtown. … a lot of things got done in the town. During February of the first year Jack was on the cats, there were several drivers that went out. And they were just told to take those cats and put in a tote road. They just went right through the bush with it. These guys had given 5 of the best years of their lives to the war and they liked this new challenge. There was lots of drinking that went on with it too, but it was their life, they needed the excitement. A lot of the drinking went on because they had come home and some of the others hadn’t and it was time to drink. However, when we didn’t have any money we didn’t have any problems with the marriage, but once everybody got money, there was too much drink. Building the dam was a major change in our lives. It was kind of ironical, too, that, years later, in 1974 I was hired out at Alcan in Kitimat to be editor of the Ingot their workplace newspaper. And I had a lot of really strange feelings like when I went to Kemano, because it was our Nechako River water coming out of that powerhouse. And everything was Nechako this and Nechako that. They really didn’t hardly know, in a sense, or give a damn where the Nechako River was, I felt.

MR: Yeah.

AL’H: After that I spent 10 years fighting Kemano 2. And to some extent I think that we did stop them from taking all the water.

MR: Yeah.

AL’H: When the dam was being built, I was having the kids. I was pregnant when Jack was away. And we had sheep. And then we had one of those years when a litter of pigs born runts, and you have to keep them over until the next year till everything starts to grow again. And we cooked the darn barley and fed those pigs. I was out there on that ice when I was pregnant. Then the sheep started to lamb. Jack was building a tote road.

MR: For the dam?

AL’H: For the dam. But we actually got wages and life was quite a bit different in lots of ways.

MR: So were you alone then with the kids?

AL’H: Yeah, I was there with the kids and the sheep and whatever. Keeping the place…it always froze up, I mean you had a slop pail and there was always ice on it in the morning, If we had coal it was all right because it kept burning But we’d bring a bushel of coal home then we’d run out of it and we always had wood. So the fire would be out by morning and I had the kids to be changed throughout the night. I know there were 2 or 3 years when I never slept right through the night. The good part of it is, I had my kids all at once. It meant a lot to me later on.

MR: Ok, well, that was Vanderhoof. And you moved to Kamloops?

AL’H: Well we did in 1956 - 57. We really got where we put a lot of money into equipment for the farm, and we owed money on everything and we weren’t getting crops and it wasn’t working out and it rained all that one summer. Jack had a sister down in Kamloops and we were going down there. He went on down to Kamloops and then he let me know he had a job. Pack up and come down, Jack says. I didn’t have any money. So I sold a bunch of the sheep. Our friend Bill Edwards had his big truck, and I gave him a bunch of sheep for taking us down there. We went to Kamloops and lived a pretty normal life. We had wages and lived in modern homes. But we hadn’t sold the farm and 2 years later when we came up for what I thought was a visit, I was kind of surprised to learn that Jack had no intentions of going back down to Kamloops.

MR: What did you do there? Did you do anything?

AL’H: Well when we were down in Kamloops, I was using the sewing machine a lot and this Pfaff machine was out. A German model, and I became an agent for them. I had about 19 machines with me when we came back up to Vanderhoof and sold them all. I could sell sewing machines because to me they had the value, you needed a sewing machine. I was doing well, but never thought of continuing it once Jack decided we were coming back up.

MR: Did you go door to door or something? Or how did you do it?

AL’H: They were first ones to come out with cams in them and so they were doing special embroidery and hemming, etc. I got really quite good at all that. Yeah, I went out and sold those things just from the house.

MR: How much did they cost? Do you remember?

AL’H: I can’t even remember, I have it in my mind that they were $250 or something, but I can’t believe that anything was that high. I just really don’t know. I had cheaper models that I sold, and I think I sold them for $99.

MR: You were at smocking, and selling sewing machines, Kamloops…

AL’H: I suppose it was ’58 because I think we were there from ’56 to ’58, for 2 years. When we came back, Jack’s back was bad so we bought the taxi. Well that meant quite a bit to me in my life looking back because we were actually looking after Stoney Creek there. In the mid ‘50’s, everything was family oriented, Jack’s brother Arnold who became mayor there one time for quite awhile owned the garage and he had the agency for the Chevrolet and Chrysler. So when it came time… and we bought 2 cars, one Chrysler and one Chevrolet, they were lemons. I had to get my license to drive taxi, to help pay for the one car. We were living in town then, the kids were going to school there in town. There was a niece around who was helping with babysitting, and so I took mostly day trips taxiing. Got to know Stoney Creek a lot in those days, it was very different from today. Very, very humble situations there, and it was handling natives at that time, many were great to handle, but in some cases…nothing but trouble because there was lots of drinking going on. So for several years there we lived in town and, to give Jack his due, sometimes he drove most of the day and then a good part of the night in some cases. We did quite well on it. One of the factors was that Mr. Smedley still had tie contracts. Now in a lot of the cases we picked those guys up and took them back to work and they never saw that money, it came right out of their wages. At that point we were going back and forth to the farm. And there was a chap interested in buying it, and the sale of that farm has got to be just like a fairy tale. That was in ’58 if I’m not wrong. We sold that farm. He had looked at it for quite awhile. Now this is a chap that had come from Kenya, Africa, on the equator at a 6000 foot altitude. They’d left there because of the Mau Mau. It was life and death for them to leave. I was so anxious to sell it, every time I thought the guy was coming I used to bake apple spice cake, then shine up my one linoleum floor that I had. Then finally the guy came and he says yeah he’s buying it. Well, he bought it because in Africa they couldn’t keep horses on the land he owned because there was no frost, and it took thirty years once they got ulcers in their legs before they could put the horses back on the land. It wasn’t because of my cooking or anything I did. He bought that because, he liked the large mass of land and because it was 40 below. It was really the frost that would kill the germs.

MR: Oh.

AL’H: When we sold the farm, I had found some crown land close to town. We applied for it and got it. And it was a quarter section, just at the top of the Kenney Dam Road. There was timber on it, and you had to prove up your land, but there was enough timber on it to take off to just about make wages, so it was quite a good deal. We had some cash from the sale of the farm, and we built a really good house there. BC Hydro put power out that way and we were living in our new house for six months without power. But sooner or later it came, and…

MR: Was that in town?

AL’H: It was a mile and a half out of town up the hill I would guess. We had pretty good living there for quite a number of years while our kids were going to school, we got very involved with horses. We became friends of Rich and Gloria Hobson and that was a major influence in our lives. It was a friendship in the end over a thirty year period with Gloria, Rich had died before then. Rich gave our kids a horse that was from his prize Arabian. He used that prize Arabian to service the mares that really didn’t have any lineage. He didn’t try to keep a line that he was going to sell with lineage, but used it for raising really good horses. We actually had two Arabian horses that Rich gave us that Albert and Georgina won a lot of gymkhana awards with. It was a major thing in our life for ten years. Now in the meantime the newspaper became part of my life. I never went to work until the kids were certainly beyond any baby stage. I got interested in reporting to the Citizen. They had said I could report from Vanderhoof, and I bought a Hawkeye camera. I found out I could get $3 a picture and they often ran a whole page of my stuff. Then the Nechako Chronicle newspaper in town was starting to fall apart and for a year or so, I wrote up stories about Vanderhoof for the Citizen and I typed a carbon copy, and gave them to the Vanderhoof paper. I was getting fifty cents an inch in 1960, plus the three bucks for a picture. Holy smokes! …I was actually making some cash. Then I found there was an outfit in Prince George that was selling a photo studio. I found I could always go to the bank for money. They gave me a $300 loan to come and buy this stuff from the studio. There was a place down on Stuart St. in Vanderhoof that Buddy Ahlm owned that I set up for a studio. I had a dark room, and put in an inventory of photography items. Well, it wasn’t too long before the Chronicle was falling apart, and I’d been doing weddings etc., and they decided oh well, we need an editor so they asked me to be editor.

MR: And where was that?

AL’H: In Vanderhoof, and for the Nechako Chronicle. I took the job, and was going to still run my studio but I found that wasn’t going to happen. I was only getting $250 a month at the Chronicle, and it included the family car. Well Jack didn’t take to well to all this. I was delighted. This was my whole break in life I guess! The Chronicle was going bankrupt, and one day I went to work and there’s a lock on it. I learned what its like to find out, yeah, it’s behind the locked doors now. When I first started working for the Chronicle, we were using hot lead in the linotype machine. It was the last linotype sold in BC I was told at a newspaper convention later. Yeah, you heat that hot lead and you pour it in there and sometimes that linotype would be awkward, and we used to have to climb in behind it and grab things and hold them. So this was what we started out with there and it did go bankrupt, two or three different owners. Then, there was this syndicate from Vanderhoof, including Dr. Mooney and several others that might not be so well known now. There were five of them that put some money up and bought the paper. You need to have a paper in town, this was a big deal. They still had to have an editor so I stayed. I wasn’t working there too long before I had made my mind up that I was leaving Jack. I left Vanderhoof and sort of like just left…and came to Prince George and left my job behind.

MR: What year was this around that you left?

AL’H: That was the year ’67 that I came to Prince George and worked for a year. Before I left one member of the syndicate had wanted out of the paper while I was still editor. I had a piece of land he wanted, so I traded him for that and so I used to get the yearly reports on the Chronicle because this was a company that was incorporated. It was the only newspaper... there wasn’t TV or radio in town so, it was a major thing. I went to the lawyers who were looking after it when I got the yearly report. It was falling apart, it was just falling apart. And I went in and I say, “Chris you know something, I should be running that paper”, and he said, “Of course you should.” Well, I say, “I won’t run it unless I own it, and I haven’t any money.” So he said, “Well, you call the Bank of Commerce, it’s where you’ve always dealt.” I called the Bank of Commerce, oh I remember sweating bullets that day, and said; “I think I should be running that paper.” They said, “Of course you should be running it.” And I said, “I haven’t any money.” That’s ok, you come back and buy it, and then we’ll sign the thing saying how much it is, and so I say, “I don’t have a car and I’m not going back to Vanderhoof without a car. So I did, it took me several years to learn it should have gone bankrupt. I mean it had a revolving loan and I never knew where the hell it was, never did figure it out. But I knew when it was in the black. And I knew that I had to have money to leave. When I left Jack, there weren’t any of the new divorce laws and the only way you could get a divorce was through adultery, and it just wasn’t going to happen. And I never figured I would get a divorce. I just figured I would be on the street for the rest of my life, so who knew. When I was considering retuning to Vanderhoof and the newspaper I rented a car to go back to Vanderhoof. I went back to Jack; he was working at a weigh scale there. I went in to tell him that I’m coming back and I don’t expect any problems from him. He just walloped me. So I picked myself up off the floor and went to my cousin, Sydney Hassal. Well, so much for going back to Vanderhoof, I thought. But by the time I got to Sydney’s I changed my mind... to hell with this! It's going to take more than that to stop me. I had a meeting that night with all these colleagues of mine. "Oh yes, Audrey, yeah this is great, you are going to buy it." And I say, "I’m not going to take it unless I own the biggest percentage of it, or all of it. I’m not going in with someone who’s got a controlling interest". And so, like a fool, I went by myself to that meeting, and "yeah yeah yeah, everything’s going through" But when I was in the office the next week it started to look like there was too much interference going on. I said, "What’s this all about." And then my very best friend said," Audrey, we’re going to let you run it, but we’re going to make sure we know what’s happening." And I say "I don’t think so."... I remember that night I never slept. I thought what the hell have I got myself into…and then all of a sudden I thought there’s always some answer. I’ve got to call their bluff. So listen I say, to Jerry “You just tell those guys that I want another meeting, and my bankers going to be there."...." Oh, we were just kidding Audrey." That was one of the things that I felt had called for a little bit of guts. I took that paper and worked hard at it. I remember thinking; if anybody else comes in for an ad today, forget brain is dead. Then I remember somebody came in, all happy. Oh sure, how about this! Half a page... can do. With only two part time helpers, and a pretty elementary setup, it was a challenge.

MR: So you were in Prince George for the year, and then you came back to Vanderhoof. How long did you run that paper for?

AL’H: So probably it was ’67 when I got my divorce and took the paper back. And it was ’71 when I had it in the black, and put it up for sale and I sold it. Now it would be worth a lot of money. In those days, we were just getting $3 for subscriptions, but I had 1700 and they were very loyal, just the same as Ma Murray, the notorious editor of the Bridge River Lillooet News had. Like she said, "Every damn one of them paid for."

MR: Ma Murray?

AL’H: She started the Alaska Highway News at age 55, and she was really well known as a feisty woman editor. A few of my friends called me `Ma' because of her and I looked at that as a compliment.At the newspaper, though, one of the problems we ran into immediately was the fact that we had to change from hot lead to offset press. So, we were slugging away and getting nowhere. I went to Ft. St John to spend a day with Dan Murray (son of Ma Murray) because he had offset press. The Citizen had offset press in Prince George, they’d print our papers; they always had printed our papers. But what we were trying to do was use newer technology to set up our get it `Camera Ready' without it costing us too much. ...and the last major project I did there made a vast impression on the rest of my life. The year I sold it in 1971, I had gone up to Fort St. James to Caledonia Days and I was overwhelmed by it. I really couldn’t believe it. For one thing it’s a very romantic, crazy place. They get the pipers out and they do their pageants…it’s got a lot of history behind it. Plus then they would have all of their logger sports. Of course I was reporting all this, but I remember lying on the bed and thinking, my God if they can do that, the least I can do is put together a historical supplement. And I thought, I was just about six months up to where I could see I was going to sell it. So I spent at least six months of that year putting out a 36-metro page supplement celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the newspaper, with daily entries and selected articles. My mother went to Victoria and took some of it out of the archives. And that’s where I first got my finger in the pie for history. I had full-page ads by anybody that was supporting it. And think there are 15 sponsors that had full-page ads on it, which gave all their history too. It just wasn’t pictures. So lots of work, and I really applied myself I had traded this car in, and I had a new, 1967 Ford Fairlane. The newspaper bought it for $3000. I had finished the supplement, and proud of it and they all paid for their ads, and I took a weekend holiday. A girlfriend was up in Wells and I remember driving up there thinking, wow, that’s behind me. Then I realized I was going to the wrong bloody place, Wells. It’s so steeped in history up there. I realized, looking back, that you just don’t do history and then walk away from it. It becomes part of you. It doesn’t matter if you make a lot of it or not, its part of your thinking.

MR: That was for Fort St…

AL’H: See I covered Fort St. James, and Fraser Lake, and of course, Vanderhoof, when I bought the paper. Of course like I said, there wasn’t TV, or there wasn’t radio, so the truth is, the town wasn’t going to let it be without a newspaper. My customers couldn’t get in my bad books, there was nowhere else to advertise or get news. Nobody owed me money when I left there. I didn’t let them, anyway. I’d just go and collect anything over sixty days. They couldn’t put an ad in if they didn’t pay. I used to say that classifieds were the most important thing. But I delivered those papers myself, and took them to the stores and brought the returns back and… I made sure I was paid. Endako Mines were starting up, and they didn’t know what to do about having a newsletter. I was covering Fraser Lake. Furthermore, I helped build Endako Mines because I was out there a lot, high heels and all. But when they were building it, I got to really appreciate the guys that would tell me how it was working. We worked a deal. I gave them a whole page and they took just the banner across the bottom. They paid me, $365 a month.
I was single for just eight or nine years in there, from ’68 until I re-married in ’76. For maybe four years, then I was in Victoria. I was on unemployment insurance, and so I was really looking for something to do. Luckily, I was able to upgrade my secretarial skills there. But I had a few bucks to my name, something like $10 000, I think, from a settlement with the marriage, and with the sale of the newspaper. But that wasn’t too much when you’re looking at your whole life. However, at Hillside Mall there was this photography shop came up for sale. It was beautifully decorated, and it had quite a bit of inventory and their biggest thing was they handled the film and used the labs. It was ’71 when I bought that place. It was turning over $70 000 a year on labs, the rest of the store really didn’t matter. So it was really the film that made that whole business. I said I’d buy it, and we took inventory, and I was just going to pay for inventory. And boy, you just sweat bullets. Did I have enough money? I had gone to the bank and arranged for a line of credit which I never did have to use, though. Well in those malls, sometimes you worked 13 hours days, unless you’re hiring people. My daughter was in Victoria and she was helping me some. And then I got where I hired a young man, but generally speaking, while it was quiet, you just took those 13-hour shifts and went with it, Well, pretty boring for me, and I was getting a little fed up thinking, is this the rest of my life kind of thing. So I thought ... I’m just going to double the price and put it up for sale. There were 2 labs at that time that were doing this kind of work. And, word got around town amongst the photography people, because it was a smart little place. And so this guy from downtown that had a store came up, and he said, yeah, ok Audrey, I’ll buy it. Oh good! Whatever his name was shook hands and left. He didn’t give me any money or say when he would pay. Then, this chap that owned Williams Photo Labs, turned up. I had known him before from my Photo Shop in Vanderhoof. Big handsome fellow wore white shoes...very neat and lots of fun. He phoned me and says, when we can get together, I want to talk to you about buying your place. I’m putting him off, and so finally I went down and had lunch with him. So he said ok, I’ll pay you your price. And I said, no, you have to pay me $500 more. And he said what? You can’t do that. Course I wasn’t one of the old boys, the shake hands deal. And anyway, when I looked back, I thinking what was that guy thinking anyway. And I says, well I’m afraid I have to because I’ve got this guy that says he’d pay me for this place. Oh my God. We were laughing, and so he said, well ok. He had a store in town, and we went over there and he got a cheque for the place, an open cheque, because we were going to do inventory again. And so before he had the cheque, he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. Once he got the cheque in his pocket, I wouldn’t let him out of my sight. He even stood in front of the door when I went to the toilet; because he knew that this other guy that wanted to buy it was just down the street. Anyway, I always thought, wasn’t I smart, I sold it at double the price. However, when you look back, if I had even bought a house in Victoria at that time, I would have doubled my money. But anyway, this was one of my better business deals, and I was glad to get out of there. I was still going to the community newspaper conventions, wherever they were held, just as a past publisher. Some of members wanted me to work for them as an editor. Most places didn't appeal to me, but when Smithers said come, that was different. I thought, yeah, Audrey, you have got to go back to the newspapers. So I went up to Smithers in 1972. I was there six months. In the meantime, Ed L'Heureux was fishing near Smithers, and he and I had kind of gotten together. He had just lost his wife, and was in a trailer at Trout Creek. It was November and his back was hurting him so much…his life had just come to a halt. I had just bought a little house in Smithers. I said come and stay with me for the winter or whatever. You get your back fixed. He had to have somewhere to stay for 3 months where he was standing or laying down. He couldn’t sit down. He had kids in Prince that would do it for him, but anyways, he said that’s ok, we’d do it. Well I lost the job in Smithers because the bottom fell out of the economy at that time and it was just the time when Ed was getting his operation at Kitimat. I knew the people in Public Relations at Alcan, and I thought, gee, I’ll go there and put in a little time. I knew them from when I had my newspaper in Vanderhoof. So one by one all these people took me out for lunch, and Ed was under anaesthetic for like, 4 or 5 days pretty much. They were enquiring about my past newspaper, mostly industrial background…finally they offered me the job of editing their workplace newspaper, the Ingot.

MR: So what year was this?

AL’H: It was probably ’73 when Ed got the operation. And I thought, well, Ed will come to, and he’ll say no, we’ll get married, or we’ll stick together or something. Ed finally came to. I say, “Ed, I got to tell you something.” About six guys in the ward were listening. I said, “They’re offering me this job as Editor of the Ingot.” And everybody was just... oh my God! That’s such a prestigious job! Wow! You can’t turn that down. And Ed says, “Well, you can’t turn down a job like that.” I really was quite surprised. So Alcan moved Ed and I up there lock, stock and barrel. . Alcan says we'll give you an apartment while you’re finding a place to live. This is really gold plated… And I say, “Well I have a gentleman friend I’m looking after.” That’s ok, two bedrooms, no problem. .

MR: To Kitimat right?

AL’H: To Kitimat. And so I went right to work. I was back in Montreal three weeks after I got there. I was head of a department in Kitimat, which was interesting. I had my own budget and I hired my assistant editor. And then we just put out an 8-page tabloid paper every 2 weeks. So it was one chance I had to upgrade my skills a little. When you are editor of the Ingot, you have a dotted line to everybody in the corporate diagram, which meant I could go to these people to get help. So they didn’t even know how much to pay me. They were embarrassed at how little wages they were paying me, and I couldn’t believe how much money I was making. But the wages were good compared to a community newspaper. So we stayed there, and Ed got better, and then he just up and left when he got well! I was really mad. I spent the winter there in Kitimat, and the next spring Ed came back with his trailer and was down in the fishing grounds and phoned and said, you better come down. He says, “I’ve been thinking we should get married.” And I said, “You son of a bitch,” and just walked out at that time. But we were right in the middle of a terrible strike so it was hard for me to make marriage decisions. CASAW [Canadian Aluminium and Allied Workers] was wealthy and powerful, they owned a good part of the centre of the town there. Well, of course I got to know those union people. The thing is with this paper, what you did was talk about important and interesting things, hopefully, but also safety things and compensation. I had to get the right data from my colleagues. Environment was big, and then of course, all these different departments. I could get lost in that huge smelter site, scary. Like there were eight lines. The aluminium is taken off in great huge buckets that tipped. They drain it off as molten liquid. It was very elementary. I had to know it all overnight, which in the newspaper business you have to do. Hopefully I could find the right people to help with the write-up if your story was short on facts. While I was there, there was some wonderful things happened. Barrett's NDP government went out while I was there, but while the NDP was in power they made Alcan clean that place up. It had been built in the ’51 era. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary, when I was there. The Ingot newspaper played a big roll in helping with the cleanup because it took a lot of co-ordinating. Besides grinding down and cleaning the multitude of washrooms and locker rooms, scrubbers were put on the lines to extract fluoride. Some of those people had been there from the very beginning and their lockers, etc. were important to them. They had to move so the work could be done, and it was very upsetting to many of the workers. When the strike happened, I helped a little with strike breaking which was absolutely like spies gone crazy…We drove into Terrace, and that’s thirty miles, as I recall, and took the helicopters back so we could land inside the gates because the union had big trucks, you couldn’t go past them. Then they assigned all the management to these different jobs, and the one guy I was working with, his name was Mooney, he was an engineer, and he died. Everyone was really stressed. They were working twenty-four hours a day to keep that place going. The blood was running, your car might get lowered from slashed tires. I had to wait till after the strike because there was nobody to tell that I was leaving. So then Ed and I went down south for ten days with the trailer to discuss our lives. We got married in the Unitarian Church and celebrated with my sister Pat's neighbors who were all friends of ours. Then we came home and had a party where all our kids got together. There had been thirteen in Jack's family and fourteen in Ed's. But it was mostly our own kids that came to celebrate at the trailer Ed had bought on the Hart Highway.

MR: Wow, that’s a lot of family.

AL’H: French, L’Heureux, Catholic.

MR: So you got married down south?

AL’H: Yeah, my sister's place has been my second home. I’m a Unitarian, like my mother before me, and they have a big church at 49th and Granville.

MR: Was this Chilliwack?

AL’H: It was in Burnaby. We didn’t know where we wanted to live, so Ed bought a nice trailer up on the Hart Highway, and it worked good for us for a couple of years, but we ended up back in Vanderhoof in two years time. And my ex-husband was still there who I’d not had good relations with in later years, but as long as there wasn’t a lot of drink around, we didn’t mind being together. And you know, he played a big role in my kid’s life. He had remarried before I did, but he died last year. So back to Vanderhoof... I pretty much got involved with the museum, from the time I went back. Interestingly though, by this time, Alcan was trying to get Kemano II organized where they would take a whole lot more water from the Nechako, and I joined the group that worked really hard to make sure they didn’t get more water.

MR: Oh.

AL’H: Part of my job at Alcan was to cover items of interest in Kemano and I visited there often. I was familiar with how Kemano II would have come about. All I cared about was they couldn’t take any more water from the river. And I believe that we accomplished our mission some, although Alcan was given things that we are just learning about now. They were given the right to sell power, and that’s something we always said was going to happen. I went to meetings in Vancouver …Prince George, and Vanderhoof. These meetings went on for months. There was a really dedicated bunch in Vanderhoof. And when we started there weren’t any books or anything. When we finished, Alcan had a whole room lined with all these books and records. It was the costliest, craziest thing I ever got involved with. But they did get the water somewhat controlled in the Nechako.

MR: In Vanderhoof?

AL’H: In the early ‘80’s a teacher, Jay Sherwood got involved with the Vanderhoof Museum; he was a visionary. It was at the time of many HRDC [Human Resources and Skills Development Canada] loans, and they learned how to use Jay, and he would always find more projects and jobs for students. He had thirteen kids working there the year before I got involved with the museum. One of their projects was taking inventory on all of the heritage buildings within quite a big area in Vanderhoof... from an “artefact” point of view, with negatives and proper identification. This was the key to what buildings could be moved onto the 130 acres that the Village of Vanderhoof had allocated for the museum, on the highway just west of town. The theme was 1920 rural agriculture. But the protocols that we lined up said that we would accept things up to 1950. We wanted to include the building of the Alcan dam; it was a major change that took place in Vanderhoof. By the time I got involved, Jay and his crews had brought in eleven buildings, in various stages of reconstruction. I came on stream as recording secretary about 1986, the year of Expo, and there was money available in Vanderhoof, from Expo, $120 000. I spent all one winter at village meetings fighting to get money to reconstruct two more buildings, and the Chamber of Commerce wanted to build a new building. I had to state an amount of money needed. I thought I’m not hiring somebody to determine estimates for this reconstruction. I spent one weekend just holed up, and I thought yeah, we’ll need a 2x6 there and double it, we must need a new floor, we put cement under it, and so that’s this much, and so I had an amount itemized for two buildings. One was $54 000, and the other was $57 000. And nobody was saying, well that’s no good Audrey. Nobody said, where did you get this amount from? I was familiar to some extent on the cost of reconstruction. I had helped with time and money putting shingles on to some of the different buildings. I knew a little bit of what to look for and was familiar with things like old windows that had been given to us that we could make use of. We had some of our own equipment, and the mills generally gave us lumber when we requested it. I fought for this money all winter. Then there was a final meeting held. Council went in camera. They said to me-- Audrey can you cut the estimates on one of those buildings down to $50 000? You get that much, and then the Chamber of Commerce gets the rest. It was done, so we got the money.
Still regarding the museum, I spent one winter designing a program that used five people for six months, redesigning the displays in the Board of Trade Building so that it would carry a crew through the summer tourist season. HRDC worked with me all that winter. I had lined up somebody that was going to do archival work, and in fact learn how to do archival work, and then do it. And then I had a PR person come on that was going to make connections with other museums, and then I had a secretary and one other worker. Finally HRDC agreed, they were going to allow me this $50 000, six month grant, and then they said would I be project manager for four hours at $20 an hour. And I said yeah! Because I figured I’d be down there 8 hours a day anyway, and that was a good deal. And so, that was the same year that we had the $50 000 Reimer/Redmond House money from the Village. There was a committee on the latter, and I was on the committee. I wasn’t totally in charge, but since I was there all the time I was really making sure that we were staying within the costs as designated. In the meantime, I’d learned Iris Millan in Vanderhoof was leaving. I knew she had this job that was called Senior Counselling. I really didn’t know what the heck she did or how it worked, but I stopped her on the street and I say, “Iris I want your job when you’re leaving”. And she says, “That’s great Audrey, you’re the perfect person for it” So she recommended that I get that. They gave me $150 a month, it was considered volunteer; I didn’t even have to declare that on income tax, it was just expenses to keep the car going, etc. And that was a major thing in my life. The government stopped it now. They don’t have senior councillors anymore. There were about one hundred and fifty of us in the province, and some of us when I had been in there for twenty years or more, and they really knew their work. But I couldn’t operate without the connection to the system, I had access to all the agencies and up to date information. We took workshops. Largely our work was supposed to be to help those who couldn’t make out their forms. It went a long ways past that with me though.

MR: So what year did you become a Seniors Counsellor?

AL’H: Well I figure I was doing it for 15 years and I was given the termination letter two years ago. I would say it was in the late ‘80’s that I took that job on. And there was quite a few people that I felt I didn’t want to leave. I knew some I believe, couldn’t write. You know a lot of people had good jobs in this country and couldn’t read or write. But they could run a green chain and some of them had real good pensions. And so when I helped anyone I never asked if they wanted to fill out it out. We’d talk, I just took a pencil and an eraser and I’d fill out the forms. I used to meet them down at the Co-op at the corner of the cafeteria. Nobody got mad. Lots of times I had to phone down to the main government offices, just to get directions to find out how to help them. Balancing money for seniors is quite complex.

MR: Uh huh, it’s probably…

AL’H: Yeah, because I like painting but I don’t want commissions, half of my fun is deciding what I want to do. I go to the yard sales and get these expensive frames. It still costs me $50 to put the mat and glass on that. But I adapt the pictures to the frames. I take pictures all the time. Another thing that has been important to me is the writing and publishing I have done. When Ed and I first got married in 1976, one of the conditions of the marriage was that I would not pursue my newspaper editing.. I was looking for a project. One thing that impressed me so much was a book that the late Gordon Bowes put out called The Peace River Chronicles. I could see that I wanted to write a history book using the same format. I wanted to Prepare the manuscript and publish the story of the North Central Interior: From the first overland explorer until the completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway...1793 to 1914 -as told by the people that were there. And I got the chance…a $5000 grant from Canada Council to do the manuscript. So I was off and running, except I didn’t have a good typewriter. And before we even got married, I told Ed that I don’t really care about diamonds or anything…and he bought this $1000 typewriter instead of the diamonds. Ed was a good guy. So I went to work, eight hours a day, and studied. And they had the best library down here in Prince George. Not the new library, but…Swannell (the early land surveyor) had donated all his books to the old library. And the old library didn’t even know what to do with these old out of print books at that time. They had them locked up downstairs, but I had started to use them before they locked them up and so they let me in there to do research.

MR: This was in Prince George?

AL’H: In Prince George. That’s where the Brunswick Street Seniors are now, the old library, and it was to die for, wonderful books and manuscripts. So I spent just hours going through them. However, we took Ed’s trailer two or three times and went down to Victoria archives for three weeks at a time. I have gone back to the Victoria archives later on, but it’s not the same at all. At that time I couldn’t believe it. I found out how to use their catalogues, and there were these wonderful stories I never knew even existed. It was only ten cents a sheet to have them photocopied, so half the time; I didn’t even ask for things out of the stacks, I just ordered right from their catalogues. It would take three months or so and I’d get the package in Vanderhoof. This would become part of the files that I donated to UNBC when we downsized our home in Vanderhoof in 2001. I had nine file boxes full of vertical files that went in to UNBC, plus three car trunk loads of related books. At that time the UNBC archive collection was housed in basement corridors. Now they’ve got stacks…

MR: Now they’ve got nice archives…

AL’H: Indeed! You can move them for saving space, and Ramona, the curator, works really hard at enlarging and organizing our archives there. They’ve got students that study local history helping. I had accumulated a fine collection of Northern BC History books because for five years or better, I sold antiquarian books out of my basement, and some of them were worth $100 and more. I had a really good mailing list, and I had a Gestetner, [copy machine]one of those that you crank.[ So I sent out my own catalogue and got to know all the people that were buying and selling these things. But now they go to e-bay to get them I guess.

MR: Do you do e-bay?

AL’H: Well I’ve got some friends that do, but those books that went through my hands were another source for my researching. I used to search through them before I sold them, but I’d package up these books and send them out. So I kept busy, that was part of when I was still working at the museum. I finished in ’97, pretty much when I withdrew my services from the museum. But that didn’t mean I didn't go to museum meetings any more. Just after Ed died, two of my friends that I’d known from when they were kids, Margie Weaver, and Millie Mountford came to me. I knew their mother, Irma, and a good part of her life had been collecting dolls. She had a whole room full of dolls. After Irma died, Millie said “We’ve got these rooms in the basement, full of dolls. I’d rather find something to do with them; do you think the museum would take them?” I went to the museum meeting and I asked them if they would take the collection. We decided there was a room upstairs that we could use, in the OK Café part. I told them that I would put thirty hours towards accessioning them because there’s always work in bringing in something like that, and they agreed. Well it was a real good project because I needed something to do after Ed died, and nearly every day I walked over a mile to the museum, and worked for two or three hours a day there and got them all done by fall. They were all back, all in shelves, and one of the girls said she’d put, not glass…

MR: Plexiglas?

AL’H: Plexiglas. So we covered them with plexiglas. Now there’s that whole room full of dolls and I’ll tell you they’re not dull, she’s got everything from the Pillsbury Dough Boy to Shirley Temple dolls, and a lot of the dolls she bought had been 1st edition, and had all the papers.

MR: So they’re probably worth quite a bit.

AL’H: Well they would be, if somebody had the energy to go on e-mail with them and really wanted some money out of it. That would likely be a good place to sell it, but you’ve got to have a big audience to sell those dolls. Cause everybody wants something different.

MR: Yeah, that’s true.

AL’H: Ok, so the book…this manuscript became huge. It was first person accounts because I chose letters, unpublished works, and published works, anything by the year. And then I introduced the people that were mentioned and involved with it, and the story “as told by people who were early pioneers in the Nechako River and the Upper Fraser River watersheds.” So I’ve published two booklets out of it. One part never got published. The total manuscript is called: From Trail to Rail: From the First Explorers to the Completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad, 1793 to 1914. So the first book was titled: From Trail to Rail: Settlement Begins, 1905 to 1914. And these are eyewitness stories out of the heart of British Columbia, selected and introduced by Audrey Smedley/L’Heureux, and it was put out by my publishing company, Northern BC Book Publishing. Douglas and McIntyre really worked hard to publish it, also Doug Little who’s well known in Prince George here, was always behind me. He read the manuscript and he tried hard to get that published. In the end Northwood Pulp bought a lot of the books. But I ended up by…realizing to edit anything that large, to where you could really make use of it, it would have to be me that did it, because I still had all the reference’s. When you edit a part out, you have to be able to fill it in and make it work again. I edited it down and made it two books which are just over 100 pages each. And I had grants; I had small grants from Heritage BC, and from the Government of British Columbia through Heritage Trust. The other one was Canada Council, for the manuscript. And so, it cost me $4000 to print each of the books up after I made them camera ready on my computer. I only did one thousand copies of each book, so its called a limited edition, But even when you get just one thousand books its about ten boxes! You’ve got to be ready to store these darn things if you are getting into the publishing business. And then I hated selling them. I went everywhere and sold them and then an outfit picked them up, John Coutts from Ontario picked it up and sold a lot of them for me. I believe he sold them to the places that really count because when I applied for copyrights through Cancopy, 10 years ago, they always give me 100% on it. They check to see where all these books are kept, or you don’t get your copyright money. So the second book I put out, from the same manuscript was called From Trail to Rail: Survey and Gold, 1862 to 1904. On the front cover, it says Fort George, Fort St. James and Fort Fraser. So it was the Forts that were involved. The books have been considered really valuable. I went into Burnaby's huge library two years ago and punched my name in the computer. It said they were there, but I couldn’t find them where they were supposed to be on the stacks. So I went to the desk and asked her about them, and she says, no, they’re in the back room. So I said, “Well can I see them?” And she said no. So I said OK. I didn’t care. But I know if I had been doing research and had a research number, I probably could have seen them. She was very brisk about the whole thing but I didn’t care. That’s where I want them, in the back room. I want research books where they’re looked after because, boy when I was studying in Victoria, they still had their old library down there and I had George Mercer Dawson’s books out. I took them home, and I liked them so I photocopied them all. I mean they were frail. I really shouldn't have had permission to take them out. So I was always glad when the libraries recognized old reference books. They did in the library in Prince George here. My manuscripts now are all up at UNBC. There were two manuscripts and Bob Harkins used them a lot, to research in, for instance. But they were well looked after in the library before going to UNBC. UNBC got a great deal of my archives after we moved out of our Vanderhoof home, and they gave me tax receipts. Probably the most valuable items they hold are the letters giving me copyright permission to use other people's work, because it was first person accounts …these people had written published books, or unpublished or even handwritten notes many years before. There are quotes in there from writing a person did in 1913 telling about the conditions at Bulkley House…up past Fort St. James when they were trying to put the Collins Overland [telegraph line] through in 1867. It was hard to get permission. I wanted to use them, they were written for the archives in Victoria, and it was telling all about interfacing with the natives. The gal that I was working with down there said, no you can’t Audrey because you have to get in touch with the family. Well, hello, I mean this guy, wrote them in 1913 and he was from Rochester, New York. You know when it came time to publish and she still wouldn’t give me permission, I went to the phone, and I was so mad …give me Rochester, New York. And they gave me Rochester, and I thought who the hell am I asking for? And so I knew the last name, Dr. J.T. Rothrock. Oh, we have another Rothrock…Ok, try that. And it’s ringing, and I’m thinking, what the hell am I going to say here? And so I said, you don’t know me, and I’m from Central British Columbia. Oh my gosh...says a nice lady... I’m so glad to hear from you, she said. ` I just finished documenting all of my father- in- law’s works.' He’d ended up where he’d become father of the forestry back there, with a huge reputation, and great accomplishments. She and I wrote back and forth for quite awhile. Just going to the darn phone, it was 1985 when I phoned…just about 75 years after he had written it. And so his daughter-in-law was, an older woman, but she’d done the documenting. UNBC has her Letter of Permission to use Rothrock’s notes. So that gives a little bit of rundown on the books, which have meant a whole lot to me; as well as the Senior Counselling, and the museum. And you have a list of the honours that have been given to me. The Governor General Award was largely for work I did at the museum. [List appears at the end of the transcription].

MR: Uh huh.

AL’H: As I understand it. They never really tell you these things. But it was the museum people that applied for that. The Queen’s Medal, I take it was largely for seniors work, because I was then on a Senior Advisory Council for the province, you see, while I still was a senior councillor, a three year term on a provincial board which was pretty gold plated. You got 5 meetings a year, 2 1/2 days each... a couple hundred bucks a day for sitting on it. And travelling, I travelled all over the province in those three years because I could drive as long as it didn’t come to more money than the airplane fare would. And it cost so much for plane travel, I got thirty-nine cents a kilometre, so I drove all over the province, and really did enjoy that and the work. We worked at publishing; we all had our responsibilities towards publishing pertinent works. There was only one thing I helped in publishing that I was quite proud of. And certainly got wind, all over the province, of how things worked for seniors. And so it that happened 1999 was one of the years I was a Senior Advisory Councillor, and that was the year the United Nations declared it the Year of the Seniors. Vanderhoof sponsors got behind us with $10 000 funding. We appealed for help to really put a big splash on. And there was other `in kind' help. We put on a pretty gold plated affair. In the end, I supported the idea, and we actually were in conjunction with the Fall Fair, and you just figured then if things fail…at least all is not lost, instead of trying to stand alone on something. And so the seniors pretty well took it over. Karen Cruise [popular country and western singer from Vanderhoof] was with us all the way, anytime we wanted singing. And we had a really good show…we took over the band shell, we had a Rich Hobson slideshow running, and we sold 50/50 tickets. Our cowboy hats were donated, and we had hostesses helping people. We really made it work. We worked months before the event, and had it all written up in the pamphlet, and so…

MR: So when was that?

AL’H: That was in 1999. I think that was largely what they decided to give me that Queen’s Medal for then, cause that was seniors’ work.

MR: Let’s see, we haven’t talked about…what else do you do now? You volunteer at the Railway Museum?

AL’H: I do. In Prince George here, I…

MR: When did you move to Prince George anyway?

AL’H: I moved to Prince George for the second time, two years ago April, Some of my late husband's family live here. Before he died we had really looked at real estate here. And I came in here, and I said, yeah I want to live at Magnolia. But it’s been a good move, there’s more for me to do. Now I’m not sure if others would find it quite as easy because I was quite involved with the university and the Art Gallery, plus I had done work with the seniors. Prince George was part of my whole territory when I was a Senior Advisory Council member for the three year term, because it went from Granisle to Valemount, and so I knew some of these people here. And we have a little Unitarian group which is kind of falling apart, because one left, but we had our little spiritual services every two weeks. And whether somebody else would find it as easy, I don't know. I went to the Railway Museum meeting and made quite a big effort to give them a copy of >From Trail to Rail and they knew it was out of print and they really seemed to appreciate that. And so the next meeting, when they had the AGM I went to it and I says yeah, well there was a one year appointment that nobody was fighting over, and I said I’ll let my name stand there for a year. It’s been a real good experience; I can’t believe those guys. And the mini rail that they built this year, those guys, the directors out there, thirty above, and they work ten hour days to get it finished in time for July 1st, you can’t help but be proud to be part of that. Another thing I’ve done is get involved with a program called Innovations, they had originally put out write-ups a year or so ago asking people to come and present for their society...tell what they feel isn’t happening in Prince George that should be. I look at things from an economic development point of view. I figure that way you are not bitching. And so I found this quite interesting, they got me on their list and they had me into two or three meetings…studying cluster development where technologies in different companies work together under very strict rules. It is the science and technology money. With their last convention they called for art. Somehow that took my eye, and I decided it just melded everything that I’d been working for together. And I decided I was going to find someway of showing how we’ve got all the artifacts, we’ve done so much work on them, and now at this point we’ve got institutions from the University to the Railway to the Exploration Place and the Gallery, and Huble Farm. We’ve got the institutions and so what it needs is forms of clusters where they’re bringing things forward. I thought I’m going to really work at this. And I actually went back to some of my old art sketchbooks and found that I had done subjects that kind of came together. I took these pictures of everything, from trains to paddlewheels as part of the large presentation and I thought, what am I doing this for? This is crazy. I didn’t even know they were giving out prizes. I didn’t get first prize, I got $300 second prize. But I didn’t sell it, and…and they asked if they could put it in their store down there. And it’s nice to have it hanging down there. To me that painting brings my life together, and that innovation thing, whenever you say innovation it gets my juices flowing.

MR: Where is this?

AL’H: It was done for the `Innovations' competition to show how using the `Cluster' process, our history of the North Central Interior should be brought forward through our various institutions. Picture wise, that one I showed you, I kind of favour it. That other one that was in the publication I put was called `Northern B.C. in Retrospect.' That picture shows the excitement of research; because that’s Charles Bulkley’s journals I'm studying. Audrey L’Heureux - 1978 To get permission to use any excerpts from that, I had to write to Portland, [Oregon]. A lot of our early history was bought off by the States. Berkley University, in San Francisco really started with our stuff... Simon Fraser’s journals and Bancroft's books, for example.Audrey L’Heureux – May 24, 2004

AL’H: And this is my self-portrait I did, last Christmas... Christmas 2003. I can throw that in if its fun… it’s a little bit off the wall.Audrey L’Heureux – Self PortraitPhotographs and artwork from the Audrey L’Heureux Collection

MR: It looks good, I think.

AL’H: It was a good project. All these old art masters often did their self-portraits, and so I thought I would do one. However I should name my grandchildren at this point. Albert, my oldest son, married Sue who was from Britain. They had three girls, Amber, Marnie and Erin. Now my daughter lived just one house up the back alley from them, and she had three boys. When Albert had a girl, Georgina had a boy, and when he had another girl, Georgina had another boy; she had Kirk, Wade and Laine. They actually sort of had three sets of twins. And they raised each other’s kids for twelve or thirteen years. Georgina is in Campbell River and she’s a supervisor in the court there. Albert does contract fencing... from Fort Nelson to Prince George and points West. Sue is Head Nurse at the Omineca Lodge in Vanderhoof. Teddy, married Debbie, and they had one child Jacqueline. Debbie clerks at the government liquor store. So there are the 7 grandchildren. And I get back up to Vanderhoof regularly. My brother is retired and living with his wife on Salt Spring Island... Jim and Eva Spencer. My sister, Pat Brandlmayr, is the one that’s in Burnaby. Her late husband, John, was a Marine Engineer. Pat has had a tremendous career in shipbuilding and holding various important positions on such things as a Port Authority and a U.I Arbitration board. She just had her 80th birthday and she bought a brand new car.

MR: Wow.

AL’H: Pat and I got to travel around on the Vancouver Island this spring. We used to travel a lot together. Lucky to have a sister that you’re kind of joined at the hip with. There’s nothing quite the same. We phone each other every Sunday morning.

MR: Did you say something about a heritage walk that you did?

AL’H: Yeah, just lately, that’s one of my projects. It’s actually working with Volkssporting BC, to get the Prince George 12 km Heritage Trail on the Volkssporting website. I worked on the internet with the BC president. She walked me through all of what was called for. The trail itself had been established nicely here in Prince George. The chap that had done the map work, Kent Sedgewick, I’d worked with in history before. He had the map on his computer. The city had quit making brochures of it, so the timing was perfect. Kent re-did the map, making several changes we needed. Ethel Hansen, BC President came up, with nine other people, to celebrate. They thought it was a wonderful walk, so it's on the internet now. It’s under There’s 15 Volkssporting clubs in BC, but they’re all down in the South up until now, except for one that is set up in Chetwynd. This fall our Prince George walk will go international, which means people from Europe and everywhere can pick it up. I see it as a very worthwhile project; it’s a really wonderful Internet web page they’ve got. It says we’re classified as YRE, a Year Round Event. It tells you to go the Railway Museum to get the map. With Volkssporting, it's a social thing, and a club can organize any kind of a sport if they've got the people behind it. I'd like to have many walks up North in time for our 2010 Olympics.

MR: So Volkssporting is…

AL’H: It was started in 1960 in Germany. Then Canada picked it up, and there’s fifty clubs in Canada, fifteen of them are in southern BC. So that’s one of the things I’m working on. Another interest of mine is trying to get Rich Hobson recognized. It should be a simple matter to find out if there is any other author in Canada who has had their books in print for fifty years like he has. Grass Beyond the Mountains, in 1951, then Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy and The Rancher Takes a Wife , were the names.

MR: Yeah.

AL’H: Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy runs all the time on the TV. Rich is practically a legend, for many reasons. Rich Hobson was so like John Wayne in many ways and maybe I just believed this over the years. Wayne was cast as Rich in a film production that the world famous movie producer Howard Hawk was considering. Hawk was a friend of Rich’s from former university years. That particular movie never happened, because John Wayne had a fight with cancer about that time. Rich and Gloria knew many famous people. Rich’s dad was a national hero, because he helped in ending the Spanish American War. Now Rich and Gloria in 1952 had lived at the Rimrock Ranch, fifty odd miles past our farm, at the approach to the Kenney Dam, then under construction. I remember once when the Rich's old jeep turned into our yard. He wasn’t feeling any pain. We socialized a while and some time later, when Rich went out to the jeep, he realized he had left his dog, Uncle Habeas behind, so back to town he went. Rich was with AA for a couple of years. In the end, I believe liquor certainly shortened his life. My records show that Gloria was born on Nov, 26, 1920 and died Sept 16, 1986. Rich was born Nov. 27, not sure what year, I think 1900, because when he died in 1966, my memory says he was 66 years old. When I lived in the Hobson house people would come in, look around, and then almost in awe, would say--this place has good vibes (it was in the late 60,s, you know). Well, it certainly had good vibes for me. . I didn’t live there all that long. I lived there most of the time I had the newspaper, though. So I’d be there five years, probably.

MR: So what years was that?

AL’H: From '68 to August, 1971. That was when I saw the most of Gloria, but our very close friendship went back to the early '50's. She went to UBC and she had studied interior decorating. It was part of her life. She’d say-- Audrey you’ve got to keep your pictures at eye level. And I know, she’s right, but it doesn’t always work for me. I miss Gloria very much. Early in 1986 Gloria was told that she wasn’t going to live very long. She and Cathy sat there in that front room telling me all about it. Kathy had learned she was pregnant. Gloria's kidneys and her heart were failing, and she slowly, died, day by day. Gloria died just before her granddaughter, Katy, was born. I stayed with Gloria, at the hospital, for four hours a day for the four months she was ailing. I realized looking back it was something I was really glad I did. Gloria was a lady to the end and never once, to me, complained or questioned her lot. Sometimes she got sick to her stomach and she couldn’t eat. But otherwise she was good company. But there’s never been anybody in my life like Gloria. She had a brain on her that girl did. She had all kids of books in her house, and I’d say Gloria I got to have a book to read. She'd say-- I've got just the book, here it is. And she’d tell me enough of the story to get me interested, and it always worked. When I left home for Prince George and left Jack... I thought, I’ll go to the library and I’ll get some books. And I stood in that library, and I didn't have a clue about who wrote anything. I just read it and I didn’t have to remember who wrote, when Gloria picked it out for me. But an interesting thing happened... I thought, ok, it’s free. I didn’t have any money, and I figured I’ll just find something I’m interested in. And I got really interested in the Renaissance. Which is about the best thing I could have done? I knew that the first explorer, what’s his name, came over here in 1492.

MR: Columbus.

AL’H: Columbus, and I knew that was kind of when art was happening. The mathematics, the medicine, and then of course the Unitarian church began...something I have related to because it started when the Guttenberg press was invented. Then the people for the first time were given information. The Unitarians were martyrs because they weren’t necessarily Christians. They were more oriented towards studying the different religions and making up their mind about things. In a weird way I relate to the Renaissance because I was in the newspaper business. I just figure that its easy for me to see that it was necessary for Renaissance people to start using their head. And look at how they used their head…it wasn’t just medicine and books, it was everything. And the Crusades, what the hell was that all about? But I took every book home from the library on the Renaissance. And it was a good thing because I was at the bottom of my heap you might say. And you know, there was all this great hope that happened in the 1400’s. And so that was a really good thing for me to be reading about.

MR: So did you know Gloria’s parents?

AL’H: No, I knew Richs’ mother, she came out to live in Vanderhoof. She was a blueblood right off the East Coast. So Peachy came out and she lived there with Rich and Gloria for probably ten years before she died. We had lots of fun with Peachy, Griselda was her name. And Gloria's mother and dad were dead long before I met her, the Macintoshes. They were very early pioneers to come to Vancouver. Very staunch background Gloria had. And she worked hard. Well everybody was following Rich to Vanderhoof because he had written his book Grass Beyond the Mountain. People that followed him didn’t know where the hell that was, and anyway, he was in Vanderhoof, a long way from Grass Beyond the Mountain. - all very confusing. But it didn’t bother his fans too much. And Gloria just decided to get her real estate licence and sell the land to them. And that’s what she did. And they still kept coming. And Rich would even be cooking meals for them. Rich and Gloria had a wood stove in that house in Vanderhoof. And I remember him, putting a roast in the oven, and he put a little fire on in there for a while, and then he'd take the roast out. It was so red! It wasn’t done. That seemed to be OK though.

MR: Didn’t you say you wrote somebody’s memories, or…

AL’H: Well, yeah that was his mother’s.

MR: His mother’s?

AL’H: Rich's mother. Her uncle was named DeCherret or something like that. In 1917, Cannes is where she spent the one year visiting him. All the dethroned royalty of Europe, including from Russia were living there. Apparently they all established their own villas. Brought all their servants in livery and kept all their protocols. And she was not royalty. And she was the only one that was allowed to go to all the dances without a chaperone. But she couldn't have any more clothes than any of these women her age. This meant she could have one skirt and two different blouses. On a Thursday, they went in a carriage, and they left their cards. They just went to all these people’s places and they left their cards. It was all part of the protocol. But in this wonderful diary that she wrote, she had such a fresh approach to her situation. There were cotillion dances every night you see, and she led them all, because she could dance with anybody. She called it `After the Ball It wasn’t dull, her write up, I typed it for her because it was hand written in pencil. And so one winter I didn’t have a lot to do so they got me to type it for a couple hours a day. So I got to know Peachy’s background. But I think I told you, her brother was married to the ex Mrs. Vincent Astor. So that’s the kind of background she had. Hobson Senior himself became very famous. He was lecturing. And she tells the story: She went up on a stage in the States to meet him, when he was lecturing and he shook her hand and he says,` I’m going to marry you'. Rich’s favourite word was fabulous, as he waived his hands in the air. And that just about explained their life. Rich got to where he was pretty antisocial. He’d just sort of end up sitting on the can half the time so he didn’t have to talk to people, I often noticed. Rich and Gloria couldn’t turn people down. Rich was so good-natured. I mean he never killed a fly, I actually saw him take a fly, and take it outside. He’d give you the shirt off his back. And in a way, that’s part of the drinking thing. Oh we drank their liquor, and they drank ours, and we had lots of different parties. However, I haven’t had a friend like that since. She used to bug me all the time and I miss it. When my newspaper came out came out she’d say, Audrey, don’t you know how to spell such and such! And of course I’d look at it, and I often didn’t see the mistakes until it was printed. But she was my best critic. I didn’t appreciate it at the time too much, but I think about it now, and I miss it. She always used to say, you’ve got to have a flea to scratch. I think about Gloria. When my husband, Jack went berserk one graduation night over our marriage break-up, the word came that he was firing a gun from our home on the hill. She was a good friend. She wouldn’t let me go home, I was to stay at her place... not many friends say that. It was an irate break-up. Well you just didn’t leave your husband in 1967. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first through on the new marriage laws in the Prince George court. Before that the reason for divorce had to be adultery. You had to have a relationship with somebody else. I never thought I’d get a divorce. When Jack beat me up and went home to fire guns, I thought it would help me get a divorce. But it took me quite a while to learn that I had to go into my lawyer's office and say I want a divorce. And he said, why you didn’t say that a long time ago. Then he handed me over to another lawyer, $150 please. So I went to the bank, and I got another loan, and in the end, Jack had to pay for that, too. It was hard on the kids then, but you can’t think of kids all the time either when you’re fighting for your life.

MR: Yeah. And your kids were…?

AL’H: Well, the youngest was 16. I didn’t have any trouble leaving Jack. We had gone too far in opposite directions, and he had a temper I couldn’t deal with. But it was hard for me to leave the house, my house, my home. It was hard. We’d built it together, and it was a good house. So it’s funny what it is that really runs your life. The kids had their home there and I always figured I shouldn’t have had to leave the home. He said I would never see my kids again…you get where you believe it. The mother’s that are looking after the kids are the ones that should be able to stay in the home, but… you have to run away and hide. I don’t know how that will change.

MR: It probably won’t.

AL’H: At least they have safe homes now.

MR: You went to Prince George after that?

AL’H: I did. I took the car. He was haying one afternoon, and I figured I had a couple of hours. I took my sewing machine and the car. But I had a place to come to in Prince. I used to have to bring the newspaper to Prince George every week. I just had a chance to run around and quite desperately look for a place, because I had unemployment insurance coming, but I had to give an address. It did work out. I was on the 1200 block of 5th avenue here. Mrs. Thorsness had four or five apartments, and I had a basement suite there, and she was just an angel. She had a buzzer there, and it was just for people like me.

MR: Did he know you were here?

AL’H: Yeah he did, and he came down more than once. But not to where I was living. But… see Jack had an earlier Peace Bond. So in the end my lawyers just announced that we’d be looking for a divorce, and that they wanted another Peace Bond. And so in the long run, that was the night at Gloria's that gave me my freedom. But I didn’t know that for several months. Lots of women have had these kinds of problems - I’m not alone, and you know, life goes on.



2002 GOLDEN JUBILEE MEDAL commemorating her Majesty, the Queen’s 50th anniversary of accession to the throne. Presented in Vanderhoof Municipal chambers.

1998 COMMUNITY BOOSTER OF THE YEAR Vanderhoof District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards sponsored by Omineca Express.

1993 125TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL of Canadian Federation. Directors of the Nechako Valley Historical Society nominated me for several years work I did obtaining grants, finishing relocated buildings of historical significance and for 1987 in particular, when I remained as project manager overseeing a $100,000 budget.


1999 CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION “The Vanderhoof International Year of Older Persons Committee, with the citizens of Vanderhoof honour Audrey L’Heureux for her foresight in realizing the importance of this year. Audrey is responsible for establishing the Vanderhoof IYOP Committee, and initiating many events.”

1997 APPOINTMENT: SENIORS ADVISORY COUNCIL OF BC – Three year term by Order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Area covered from Granisle to Valemount including Prince George. “Your on-going interest and experience with seniors, particularly as a Senior Citizen Counsellor and as area representative of the Caregivers Association of British Columbia, will serve you well in your term as a member of Council. In addition, your work as an editor, photo journalist and publisher of numerous books relating to the history of British Columbia, will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the deliberations and actions undertaken by Council members.”


2000 CANCOPY (now called Access Copyright) Yearly payments of $650 over the past several years for the copyrights to two local history books self published (Northern BC Book Publishing) in 1989 and 1990. They were called Settlement Begins 1905-1914 and Surveys and Gold 1862-1904 covering Fort George, Fort St. James and Fort Fraser. These were from a Canada Council Grant I received in 1978 to prepare a manuscript called FROM TRAIL TO RAIL…from the first explorer to the completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad, 1793 to 1914, first person accounts. The books were printed in limited editions of 1000. Two copies of the original manuscript are in the UNBC Archives along with research files I prepared at the time.

2000 PUBLIC LENDING RIGHTS over $350 yearly for historical books as described above.