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
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
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: 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.
AL’H: Yeah. 1936.
MR: Oh, that’s when,
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
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.].
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
MR: Then you moved to Chilliwack?
AL’H: Yes, exactly.
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
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
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
MR: So where did you go to school for…
Shaw Radio Wireless downtown Vancouver.
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]?
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: 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
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
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?
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: 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
MR: What was your maiden name anyway?
AL’H: It was
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
AL’H: Yeah, scary.
MR: So after that what did you do?
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
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
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
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
MR: Oh, so that’s why you got it in the first place?
That’s what happened.
MR: So how many kids did you have?
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
MR: Oh yeah.
AL’H: And Teddy and Albert have their own businesses
MR: And when were they born? What years?
Albert was born in’48. Teddy was born in ’51, and Georgina in
MR: So are they all…
AL’H: It’s the years that the dam was being
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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!
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?
Pit props…they were 8 feet long, they were going overseas to be used in
mines. This was after the war.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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
MR: What year was this around that you left?
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 it...my 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
MR: So you were in Prince George for the year, and then you
came back to Vanderhoof. How long did you run that paper
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 copy...to 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?
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
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
MR: Wow, that’s a lot of family.
AL’H: French, L’Heureux,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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…
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.
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
Volkssportingbc.ca. 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
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.
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
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.
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
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…
Well, yeah that was his mother’s.
MR: His mother’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.
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
MR: It probably won’t.
AL’H: At least they have safe homes
MR: You went to Prince George after that?
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
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
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
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
2000 CANCOPY (now called
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.