Interview with Hill Larson  By Catharine: Kendall, 1999

 
 Catharine: Ok we’re taping now and we’re at Hill Larson’s place out at the end of Lilly Lake Road, near the Nechako River and we’re, it’s... what’s today’s date, April 30, Friday...

Hill: That’s right.

Catharine: And Hill, you’re going to give me an idea on how you ended up here and your family homesteaded this area... years ago?

Hill: Yes, well they came from Sweden, my father came first and all Swedes ended up in St. Paul’s, more or less St. Pauls’s Minnesota and then because of the cheap land, you might say or land given to them by the government. He migrated to Aneroid Saskatchewan which is just north of the US boarder,not too far from Swift Current and then built, a home a small cabin on the property and then back to Sweden and Mother and him got married, ‘cause they came from the same area, mid to northern part of Sweden and this would be approximately 1915. And then they had three children in Aneroid, a brother that died and two sisters but it was the dry belt of the prairies and Mother said “Four years, no rain, no crops” and so my Dad decided and heard about the opportunities in British Columbia and the tremendous farmland and he took the train and he heard so much about the Fraser Valley and he ended up at Hope thinking that there’s no point going any further because all the good land would be taken up and he said, he took one look and he said that “the houses that people had were built on shelves in the rocks of the mountains” he looked down the valley and all he saw was mountains, mountains. Well he didn’t realize if he’d a gone another 30 miles, he would’ve ended up like in Chilliwack and all the fertile land in there. So he took the train from there to Fort Fraser and heard about the Erhorn family and walked,my Dad was a tremendous walker. And then they homesteaded at Swanson Creek or he did because Mother was still on the Prairies and at Swanson Creek and then sent for her, they all went up there then set up a homestead, a cabin and then cleared land and what not but there was a settlement in the Greer Valley area but it was mostly bachelors, no school and the sisters by that time had to have, go to school so then he heard about Lilly Lake and they found out about this present place, they homesteaded. And the old house had been started by a former fella that had attempted to homestead. And they finished the house and then in 1928 I was born. Like before that my brother was born who was four years older, he was born at Swanson Creek. And then I was born in 1928 and we lived here, those years through the 1930’s, the ‘40’s and in the late ’40’s we left and my brother and I departed our ways for different types of work and the folks ended up in Penticton, British Columbia. And lived their days out there. And the life in the thirties, a lot of people said, “it was hard, hard, hard”. Well it was hard physically but it a lot easier than the stress of today in the city, tremendously a lot better and I’m talkin’ for most of the people they worked hard but they were more free there was not the regulations, there was not the stress, of kinda all goin’, nobody had any money but neither did their neighbour so there was no problem. And all the old homesteaders they had, always had very good garden. So they ate well, used wild meat and fish for their meat and what not. And so they made out and for amusement there was no television but there was dances and parties and visiting and picnic. That’s one thing that was very common for families to get together and meet at a certain place out in the bush or at by a river or a lake and they had a picnic and that was included the whole family, everybody had fun. So they had their recreation. Catharine: Some of... You said you departed your ways, you and your brother, what kind of work did you go off to do?

Hill: Well at first I did farm work but I ended up in a shingle mill in Vancouver and worked there for 15 years and it was piecework, which I really like. I despise personally to work by the hour, I’m lookin’ at the watch every 5 minutes where’s... From there I eventually became a timber faller and I loved falling timber and I did that for sometime and to me it’s free. You’re not confined by the hour or whatever... when you feel like it you work and you make some money and if you don’t feel good that day well then you’re slackin’ off a bit.
 


Hill Larson Overlooking Greer Valley

Catharine: Where would you have done the falling, Hill?

Hill: Oh that was mainly in this country and north of Vanderhoof, Fort St. James way yeah and then in 19.... Let’s see, we moved up here in 1963 from Vancouver. We’d built two houses in Richmond, Marian and I and I got stressed out in a bit with the Fraser Valley. We used to go every weekend, go for a little trip but we’d have to fight our way through the old number one highway out of the Fraser Valley, to get beyond, north of Hope so you had some freedom. Other than that... And of course then there was at the Sunday night...fight our way back into the city again. So then we moved up here and in the mean time my...this was early. Much earlier, my folks gave us the old homestead and we were both working so we added a lot more property and several parcels of land, one hundred and. Well they called it quarters, which is approximately a hundred and sixty acres and we have a lot of it and we have our own timber and been logging it since 1967 on a selective logging basis and it worked. We have very close to the same amount of timber as when we started and it does work. And I think the larger lumber companies could do the same thing and you’d eliminate a tremendous amount of cost. With today’s technology they have the machines they could builder even better, could go with the machine and selectively pull out the larger trees, let the smaller ones grow and they would eliminate the trenching for planting and they would eliminate the cost of planting trees which down the road will have to be thinned out. All that cost would be eliminated. And another thing, like the Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Finland, they’ve practiced selective logging for a hundred years or more. They did attempt clear-cuts and they found it didn’t work out but they have more timber than they had a hundred years ago under selective logging and it works.

Catharine: So Were you selling some of the logs off your property or were you just using it here on the property to build?

Hill: Well we had a sawmill. A fella, Wayne Irvine and I, were partners, he had the mill and we had the here, we had the equipment and so we were worked together, pretty well a year and then he, that’s years ago he was gonna get married so he wanted to get out of the small sawmill so we made arrangements to buy the mill off ’em. And then Marian and I ran the mill for quite a number of years. We supplied a tremendous amount of house logs for people and the lumber too. And we sold the lumber to some of the larger companies. But then in the last several years it has worked out that because of the cost of running a mill, a small mill, it’s far better to gather and sell timber to the larger companies. Today the price is down but a few years ago you could make no end of money, you didn’t have to work hard because of the price they were paying for it. And it’ll come again. Right today, its worth the effort it’s just isn’t, the money in it as it was or could be. But we’re satisfied. See we’re not.. At one time you had to pay a minimum stumpage for timber, even your own timber to take it off the property but that’s been eliminated. So that we, with our money, the government is not taking a big rake off in income tax so it works out.

Catharine: So are you still taking trees off the property today?

Hill: Oh yes last winter. Yes, well at my age I’m getting lazy so. No my son helped a lot, I gathered the trees and skidded them out and he did limbing on the landing and we did pretty good not huge production but. I like to go out there and get exercise and get an appetite for supper and it worked out pretty well.

Catharine: I’m gonna just switch topics. Hill, you were talking about prospecting in this area and how has that sort of been happening here while you lived on this property and in this area?

Hill: Well in the old days and well I gotta clarify this. I consider anything prior to 1940 the old days and then before that, that’s older days. And there was tremendous amount of prospectors in the overall area. I found diggings way back in the bush. And I’d like to explain somethin’, when I refer to the bush I refer to timbered area, both trees and brush and untouched by humans or no sign of humans. That’s what I call the bush but I found many diggings of old time prospectors because mainly that were after gold. Gold, that was the big thing and there is traces of gold, the Nechako River has traces of gold. But I’ve known of several old time prospectors went to find the dreamy mother lode. They never found it, it could be there, way back in the bush somewhere, it could be there but...my Dad was...prospected a tremendous amount of the country but he was not the only one, there was Charley McHenry and quite a few of the homesteaders or settlers if you want to call them, they learned gold panning and they tried here, there and everywhere. Nobody made a big strike up until the Foote family knew of the existence of molybdenum. And that came about in the late ‘50’s, 1950’s when Endako mines got going. And that was a tremendous boost to Fraser Lake, because there was hardly anything but a sawmill in Fraser Lake and with the coming of Endako mines it was just boom, boom, boom. And Fort Fraser, it helped somewhat because some of the residents live in Fort Fraser and still travel to work in Endako mines. And like over the years Fraser Lake got boosted, Fort Fraser stayed much the same as it was 50 years ago, Vanderhoof always done fairly well but they have loggers, sawmills and it’s a feeder line to the north country which means Fort St. James, Manson Creek, Germansen and all that. And it’s a farming community, so the farmers come in and purchase from the stores and merchants. It seems that it’s always done fairly well even in really recession times it’s faired fairly well.

Catharine: Do you think that’s always ‘cause they’ve always had a mix, there’s always been a bit of ranching, always been a bit of ...

Hill: I thinks it’s from the mix, you put the word right, a mix. Well like I say, loggers, sawmills, farmers and a bit of tourism. It’s not a great tourist place but there’s a bit of tourism and then the feederline,you might say to the north country and that’s what kept them going.

Catharine: You’d mentioned when I was visiting the other day about a forest fire that came through. When would that have been, Hill?

Hill:Nineteen thirty-two, the summer of 1932 and it was a bad one. Well nobody could even begin to calculate the timber that was burned. But it started, a fella at Lilly Lake lit a brush pile, he didn’t watch it, hot day, one of those high fire hazard days. And it burned into the standing timber and then went on a runaway, it traveled east with the speed of...nobody could outrun it. And it swept right across the river, burned its way to some areas south of Vanderhoof. Then the wind switched and it swept south to stop at Greer Mountain, you can still see the line of where the second growth has grown up compared to the old growth. Then the wind switched a bit more towards the northwest, it came and swept across the river, roughly 5, 4 or 5 miles up rivers from here and then the wind swung towards the northeast. And I can remember as a kid, this horrible wall of fire, it seemed to reach right up into the sky and swept towards the house and the whole Larson family was out there with water buckets and wet rags and shovels and whatever to keep the flying embers...And of course I was just a little kid then, 4 years old and I was petrified, mainly because my mother was petrified. Of course my brother, he thought it was a big fireworks show. He saw these burning embers, twisting in the wind, throwing sparks.... he was, “There goes one, there goes one, there goes one.” Well he didn’t realize the danger of it. But it came towards the evening so the fire more or less died down and the next day it erupted a bit again and you might say it actually burned back into where it started and that was the end of the fire. But the devastation of timber. I don’t think anybody would calculate the value of the timber that burnt. But you know most people were very careful with fire, there were some that were careless but most were very careful and they knew about fire and the dangers of it. Well they knew a lot about all dangers really as much the same as even young children in those days. They knew far, far more about danger than today’s kids. It’s a simple thing, something that annoys me no end. They have childproof caps for containers for antifreeze and harmful liquids and whatnot. Well some caps you push on’em and some you pull one’s, some you push tabs on’em. Well in the old days, it seemed that all the young kids they knew the dangers of lye, white gas, matches, ammunition, guns.They knew it was dangerous, don’t touch it, and you knew that. And of course it was different teaching by the parents. Today if any under or present law if parents reprimand a child, “Oh that’s child abuse” and in those days sure the odd child got a cuff on the head or on the side of the ear or was sent to get a switch. But it was discipline. It did them good.

Hill: Oh they learned, yes absolutely, yes.

Catharine: Did you do trapping on this property too Hill?

Hill: Yes I did. My Dad had a bit of a trap line including Dorman Lake and what we call Five Forty Meadows and as a youngster I did trapping then. But over the years, I have made this statement, “somebody made money on the furs and certainly wasn’t the trapper”.

And I got over the years to look at, I just didn’t see the animals for the little bit of money you could make trapping. And yet trapping was very important in the old days because it gave settlers and homesteaders a bit of a revenue and it was one source of money as well as what they could get off the homestead farm. And some worked the timbers like tie hacking. So trapping was, in the old days, was very essential. In today’s standards, I don’t really see the need for it.

Catharine: And do you think the wildlife numbers have changed since back then too?

Hill: Well yes, but of course, the actual wildlife are actually suffering in all species whether it’s anything the size of a moose down to a squirrel. They’re all suffering from the clear-cut logging and the access and the animals that are allowed to be hunted. And they are all suffering from the clear cuts and the access that the public goes. Because there is a section of the public that go out in the woods, legal or not, if they see an animal they gotta shoot it. And I found this vastly different, see I guided for 20 years and the American thinking is “see an animal, shoot it” and I had a tough time just about reaching out and grabbing they’re gun from them. But I had Swedish hunters and we came across a beautiful buck and doe deer, they never even looked at they’re guns. One grabbed his video camera and the other one his 35mm, all they wanted to do was take pictures of them and look at them. They didn’t want to shoot them. They just were so amazed to see animals like that. And I think that’s right.

Catharine: So have you had, during your guiding times, people that come out just for that, or would they still be hunting so ?

Hill: Ohh they would hunt or some guiding fishermen but mostly for hunting and it’s a different people. All of them were quite good, I would say, maybe 5%, I’ll put it bluntly, were stinkers. But the rest were basically good people and some of’em really enjoyed the animals, to see them and were very pleased to see an animal, even though they didn’t, weren’t prompted to shoot it, they just wanted to see it. And I think that’s great. I think of shooting animals, it was, in the old days, it was essential to get some wild meat but just because it moves why shoot it? If it’s going to come and eat you I think you better shoot it or if you absolutely need it, yes, shoot it. But just because it’s there, I don’t think that’s a need for shooting it.

Catharine: So do you think after working with those kinds of people, do you think there’s potential in this area to actually do guiding on a, what they call today, ecotourism, where you can just take people out and do those kinds of things?

Hill: Yes it is if you can reach the right type of people, this overall area, I’m including the Vanderhoof, Fort Fraser area, Fraser Lake and north and south and right from here north, south and west. I wouldn’t say so much east because it’s settled so much. It really has a tremendous tourist potential for the right type of people. And they’re out there. Germans are the type of people that really appreciate this type of thing and also other countries. I don’t really know about the Japanese because they like things pretty modern and convenient and whatnot but.. Well Marian, there was a couple came down direct from Germany and she didn’t want anything for it but...entertain them took them down to the river to show them the Nechako River and the guy hands her a $20 bill just out of.... He was so pleased to see it and somebody pointing these things out for him. He was very pleased.

Catharine: Appreciative.

Hill: Oh very much. And these type of people are around. It’s a matter of getting in contact with them.

Catharine: Marketing them...the area.

Hill: That’s sort of the way you could say that, yes.

Catharine: And what about fishing, Hill, in this area. Has...

Hill: Oh it has been tremendous, over in past years, some of it is diminishing by quite a bit because of the access and the government has prevented people from building unauthorized roads into lakes which is good. Because I know there was, I won’t mention any names, but there was one particular cat skinner who, building roads, and he knew of a lake or saw a lake, he’d push a road into and then tell everybody in the country. Well you might say everybody would go there and in one season the lake would be fished out. And... but this is not happening today except with the logging and I’m quite in a sense angry about the logging methods. I know of many, many lakes they have logged right to the shores of the lake for maybe half a mile. Now they should stay back but, what they term (tenchange??) which is 660 feet. Some of these lakes aren’t fishing lakes but for tourism they are beautiful, wildlife setting for people to come and look at. Well with the clear-cut logging patch stripping let’s say the south shore and I know of several that’s been done too well it sort of wrecks it right now. But tourism has a potential.

Catharine: Hill I guess you were here, like you said in the, all through the ‘40’s and so on. So you’ve been around during the development of the Alcan and the Kenney Dam.

Hill: Oh very much so yes, yes.

Catharine: What were the biggest concerns for you? What kind of changes have you seen with the river being...dammed?

Hill: Well it was diminished the water in the Nechako River but to us right here it didn’t bother us. As long as you could take a boat up and down. And I got to know the river from way, way, way, way back. So I know every boulder or sandbar or whatever. And so that didn’t...actually Alcan didn’t bother us like it did some people. Some people are in incensed that they came and took al the water from the river. But they were invited by people and the government in its day to go ahead with the project. They were actually pushed into it. And now there’s people that are objecting and I don’t see, really the objections. It’s done and, I would say Alcan is trying to create and image that they care about the fish and wildlife that would use the river. And they do it to the best of their ability. They’re not trying to wreck anything more of it, as far as I’m concerned. So actually, we’re not angry with Alcan like some are. So they, it’s a corporation, they’re in there, in here to make money, and I understand that. I think other people should look at just what harm have they done. That’s pretty well the bottom line....

Catharine: During the...you were mentioning during the depression that umm things weren’t so bad here. Did you find that it was a pretty good situation that as long as you were provided what was available on the land you never had problems?

Hill: Well this is the thing. People eat very healthy on account of they had their own garden and meat was in the woods and there was a shortage of money but like I said earlier the neighbours didn’t have any more money so you weren’t envious. No. People learned to look after themselves. Yeah one part of it is, people who are mostly very careful, like the Larson family, there was no broken bones or anything because nobody could afford to go to the doctor. And if it, there was a real medical urgency they would have to go to Burns Lake where the hospital was. Well it was in, going to the Lilly Lake School it was very upsetting because a fella Rich Waldren accidentally shot himself with a silly weapon, a semi-automatic that went off into his body. Well he was, had to be taken by horse and sleigh to Fort Fraser, wait a day or so for the train and then eventually get to the hospital. He might in today’s, with ambulance and everything, he may of been, they may have been able to save him. But in those days it took a matter of two days to get’em any kind of medical attention. And it sure taught a lot of people to be a little more careful with guns. And then there is somethin’ about firearms. There was some very reliable firearms like the Army Model 303 and the 30/30 Winchester, now there was a choice weapon for a lot of people. But then there was those weirdo guns, 32 Stevens, there was the semi-automatic, mechanically, it was not sound, but it was a gun that had more firepower and there was a 3855. There was a lot of weapons, as far as I’m concerned they were sort of useless pieces. They made a lot of noise but that’s the main thing they did.

Catharine: So do you think back then umm that people were aware of what kind of risks they should or shouldn’t take and now that all...everything is available and everything is convenient that people take higher risks now?

Hill: Too much, you’re absolutely right. I get a little annoyed when I hear about all these people that have been swallowed up by avalanches either snowboarding or skiing. Well let’s go back to the old days. The old time trappers, prospectors of that weren’t caught by avalanches. They went, the base of the mountain and looked before they, before they ventured forth. Here these people and I know the attitude is there.. “Ohh” they think, “the search and rescue is gonna come and get me” and that’s exactly their attitude. Well all right then, let’s charge them if search and rescue has to go out and search them because they were foolish. Well let’s charge them. And that would solve some of the problem. There was plain too many people swallowed up by avalanches last winter. I can see the odd case, but not that.. That amount. Too many, far too many. And I think more people should be responsible for themselves rather than expect somebody else or the general public to look after them.

Catharine: And do you notice a different sense in the community, what people think of as a community...like do you think back in those days, in the older days, say in the ‘40’s or ‘30’s that people got together more often and there were more.. Even though they weren’t family, acted as family and now it’s a little different...with how..

Hill: Oh yes they, they actually, oh yes there was a good relationship between different communities, there was. Because there would be the parties, the card games or whatever and they interchanged and ... There was, years ago, late ‘30’s, end of the ‘40’s even, there was competition between Burns Lake and Prince George. Because in those days Prince George was hardly anything, neither was Burns Lake and each one was trying to out do...become more, larger and more modern. It was a bit of a, well, to most of us people, it was just a laugh, you know. But, there was, but between the other businesses and communities, no they got along quite well. They actually did.
 


Hill Larson

Catharine: Not a problem.

Hill: No.

Catharine: So when you think back, what is the, the biggest changes that have occurred in this area that you would say were most significant to how you lived here with people or wildlife or just changes in the land?

Hill: Transport communications, tremendous and hydro of course, that’s tremendous and then communication like telephone and what not, oh tremendous. So and then of course from way back, in the old days which is prior to the ‘40’s, the automobile. Because back then nobody could afford or very few could afford an automobile or even afford to run it, even if they could purchase one. It was horse and sleigh in the winter and horse, team of horses and wagon in the summer. That was the tranportation. Or walk. I mean, to people way back then walking was nothing, I mean that was the way to go. Today there’s people, if their vehicle broke down they couldn’t even walk for help they let their system go that bad. They couldn’t even go for help. So here they are, they’re broke down, oh they’re for somebody to come and help them out. Well be a little self-sufficient. I mean at least have enough sense to, if you, if it’s winter time to have some matches along and learn to build a fire right out of the bush. So at least you’re not going to freeze. But a lot of people don’t even know that.

Catharine: That’s a big difference in society for sure.

Hill: Yeah...one thing,difference, I would say right today the government has implemented too many laws, rules and regulations compared to the old days. In fact, I would say 80% of the individuals in this overall country, every day, I know I do, every day they’re breaking some law. Just in able to function, they’re breaking some, a maybe not be a significant law but some little regulations or law. They have to break in order to function. In the older days, the laws were very basic, but today, you got laws...Regional Board and all this...It gets to the point where, some of it I just give up on...

Catharine: Are there a lot of new regulations and laws that are affecting you on the property?

Hill: Well the bureaucrats seem to have fun creating a new law just about every few months.... It’s not for the benefit of anybody but I guess they figure they have to have something to do.

Catharine: And if those laws were broken would there be some revenue that they’d be getting as well...like...?

Hill: Oh yes. It’s designed for that purpose. It’s about the same as the firearms act coming, that’s a revenue thing coming. They’re going to start, any body...I can see the need for boating license but not for somebody that takes a little punt and puts a three horse outboard on it and go. Wants to go fishing. I don’t think you should have to be a licensed marine operator. I can se it maybe even anything over 10-horse power because they can create a lot of damage. Anything much over ten horse power they can create damage to swimmers and whatnot and right today there is what they call those seadoos and the youngsters get on them...well they create havoc in the water, mainly because they’ve had, not had enough discipline to be courteous to other people who are using the same water. So I can see a problem with people, not even using today, not even using common courtesy to the other person. You see it on the highways, you see it on the water and that like and I don’t know. Today’s world...too much competition. Too...you know...you’re you gotta compete on the highway, gotta get ahead, you know people that have the attitude “I gotta get ahead of that guy” and accidents happen. Certainly because they’re speeding or passing in the wrong places. I mean sure, some would say I’m...well Marian’s a very good driver and I say...I am too, but I certainly don’t speed and there’s place...No, there’s no darn well way I won’t pass here I’ll wait til there’s....safe to pass on.

Catharine: Have any of the new regulations with forestry affected you for harvesting?

Hill: Not too much because not really because we have our own private timber, see we used to get, what they call, Small Business Sales and they were fairly good but something’ I’m very happy we didn’t get into, both Marian and I discussed it at long lengths and we were going to apply for what they a Woodlot. Well the concept of that was very good but the bureaucrats got in there and its a mess and people have found that out that have a woodlot. Now the idea is, you convert and set aside, register acreage of your property the timber and then along with that you could get timbered land and you were suppose to be able to, you might say farm it, not mine it but farm it, but they put in regulations. I heard one forestry technician come out with the proper term. (telephone ringing..) But the way the regulations got you’re going to become a bastardized woodcutter and they’ve cut it out, see the thing is.. It got to be receding fire protection, you know...the list goes on and on and on and on and on and to the point where... (tending to phone call...)....... There is a threat by the bureaucrats and the forestry that they are in time going to include private property which would affect us and I feel ah the heck with you guys stay in the office where you belong.

Well I get a little annoyed with the forestry in this way. They built a new office on top of the hill overlookin’ Vanderhoof and I see cars...Oh must be more than two dozen vehicles parked there and most of those people, forestry people in the office has never been out in the field or the bush. They don’t know...if work has to be done they hire contracting consultants, send them out. Well to me it’s a total waste, those people...see this is uumm...the government is gettin’ too big see at one time it’d worked very well and I think they should go back to it. One time we had a forestry office right in Fort Fraser, there was a Ranger and three Assistant Rangers and they knew everybody and got to know everybody. They know who was, well the term is “rustling timber”...(end of Tape 1)

Tape 2

Hill: Yes, getting back to the forestry. It used to be smaller offices and they got to know the people that they were dealing with. They knew who were the timber rustlers were and they also knew, in regard to a fire permit, that some people... They are not going to burn themselves out. They are going to light a fire and going to be watching it and be very careful with it and they knew that because they were more or less acquainted with the people. Now it’s some distant person, in fact there’s been talk at one time even of the forestry actually, instead of even now being based in Vanderhoof, based in Prince George. Well what...to me it’s an idiotic to think people in Prince George are going to know what are conditions like here. If somebody applies for permit, it may have rained steady for three days, surely you... it’s safe to light a fire now but they might not even know that in Prince George it may be stifling hot in there. No, it’s. Ahh it’s too big, it’s too big now and the move seems to be, to get bigger but bigger is not necessarily better.

Catharine: So you think it’s getting managed worse and worse now that gotten bigger?

Hill: Well it’s getting managed at a distance, not right on, it should be hands on or knowledge and from a distance they don’t really know what is going on or what the people are really doing.

Catharine: Right here.

Hill: They’ve lost, they’ve lost that and losing it more and more. Basically there’s a lot of good people in the forestry and like I know the Protection Officer, I’ve known him for years. I guess he’s the best one from the overall country. One thing I will say. The forestry has improved immensely...of course they have the equipment to...in fighting forest fires, with the helicopters and with water buckets and the water bombers and the initial attack crew which means the...they call the IA Crew, they’re all dressed and ready to go immediately and if there’s a fire they send the bombers, the water bombers over and the IA crew lands right there and there is quite a number of fires and I gotta give the forestry credit for it. It could have erupted into a massive destructive fire. No, with the methods they’ve used the fire’s out in a few hours and that’s the end of it. And I gotta give’em credit for that.

But then on the regeneration of the trees and whatnot I kinda think they are a little lacking there. Course they are being pushed by the lumber companies too. We want lumber companies...we want more and more and more and more timber and I think the concept got twisted up somewheres along the line. The bureaucrats accept the idea that a company would build a sawmill and provide so many more jobs, oh great create employment. But then with the new technology, I put the term, they “speeded up” the mill. Now they need more timber to keep the mill going. Then there’s new technology has come a long, they put new equipment in and they need...they’ve needed more and more and more and there’s no end to it.

And something else that...it’s been stopped now but something that was very bad a few years ago was...lumber companies were given an allotment of timber in lieu of them building roads well there’s one company in Prince George, the forestry owed them three years’ timber supply because of the amount of roads they’d built. Well they were having fun building roads and providing too much access for the public to go hunt every animal there is in there and the actual true revenue of the government was not there. And,which, I know a government needs money but good golly to... See the former government we used to have here, they actually gave the timber to the lumber companies and the present government, under the new Forestry Act, made it tough and charged too much money. It just didn’t make sense. Like one fella told me that he had an agricultural lease by the lumber companies, he was offered $74 a cubic meter for the timber and because it was an ag. lease and he didn’t own the timber, the forestry wanted $72, he had $2 to work with. Well that doesn’t even pay for the fuel in the pickup that he would use to get out into the timber. See this is the way the government has been for...historically. They have some laws and regulations and whatnot and they have to changed. Well when they go too much the opposite and it becomes.. Like the new Forestry Act, it was impossible for contractors to work under. They could not work under it, so they had to subdue it a bit and... How it is today, I’m not sure, I think it’s...it’s improved, maybe it’s too tough. Like I know at one time the...Under the Forestry Act it was too lax and the timber companies could do almost anything out there in the bush but then when they changed it, it got too much the other way.

Catharine: So do you feel that there’s anything that the local people could do to help make the.... Help streamline some of the government’s decisions or...?

Hill: Well it would be very, very difficult. Very difficult. It’s, it’s gotta be.. Come from the top. The concept of forestry has to be different in the minds of the bureaucrats...see the politicians are one group of people, then there’s the bureaucrats that have been there for years and years and years and you’re not going to change their mind. They have a set mind or a mindset and people aren’t going to change it. And they’re the ones that actually instigate new laws, or policies or whatever. The politicians well they pretend to do, but after.. The politician actually is not in control, not really. So it’s very difficult to say if you had a change in government who was genuinely concerned, there would be an improvement but that takes elections and voting. I think that’s the only route to go, I don’t think you could form an organization or anything to change it, I doubt it very much. ‘Cause too many people rant and rave at home or with their neighbours about all the improvements they would do if they were in power but then I found over the years and many, many years I tried to instigate different changes and march up to whoever was in control, look behind me, nobody there. They were all...they didn’t wanna go. So really what’s the point, I mean it would have to be a tremendous group of people to do anything.

Catharine: So everybody’s got the ideas that things need to change but nobody’s really going to take the time to be there?

Hill: No they don’t wanna get involved themselves because they may have something they’re afraid they’re going to lose...

Catharine: At stake.

Hill: That’s right. And, so they... Oh sure let the other guy do it that’s fine but they don’t wanna get blemished themselves, no.

Catharine: But I guess what I’m finding when I talk to people locally about umm lots of different issues umm ranching or farming or guiding or trapping is that as new regulations change they... They’re becoming stricter and stricter and make it harder and harder for people to make a decent living and the decisions are being made without that local knowledge.

Hill: That’s right. Well take biology and biologists and the wildlife, I am quite annoyed at it...to enhance or make changes in the game laws they should go and talk to trappers, guides and loggers. Loggers know a tremendous amount of, about wildlife because they’re out there in the woods. They see them everyday that they work. I mean they don’t work all year but they.. Most of’em work about eight months of the year. And they are as knowledgeable as a biologist stint’ in an office, a cubicle there in that provincial building in Prince George, he’s read everything in the books, he hardly ever goes.. he himself don’t go out, he sends a technician out who reports back what he’s seen and maybe it’s a bit garbled. No they should go and talk to these people that are actually in the woods observing those animals. Yeah I’m quite, I mean it’s what loggers know about wildlife.

Catharine: Or anybody that works in the bush doing any type of work who have been...have the awareness of what’s going on...

Hill: Definitely, definitely...Every winter I try to do a bit of logging every winter and I’m very interested in tracks and I see the animals, see what shape they’re in. And in the case of moose, did they have one calf last year, maybe they had twin calves. I mean all this involves the overall population and the health of the population and it’s very important.

Catharine: Just one more question Hill ‘cause you just mentioned cow calves that’s something that has come up with a couple of people that I have spoken with as well is, is the cow, calf season and that seems to be a bit of a concern about that being open so what’s your opinion about that?

Hill: Well they should absolutely, absolutely not be a calf season. Maybe a few short days of cow season and overall hunting season should be cut way, way down in time, way, way, way, way down in time but good golly when they have hunting season particularly say moose, well deer is worse yet, they have one formal season from the beginning of September right into November then they have special season and here it goes way into the last part of November of hunting. Well and then they have the tag system and draw system and whatnot, well the problem is that allowing hunters out there with guns and they shoot something even if it’s illegal the other that sees it he doesn’t know, was it a legally taken animals or not. He has no way of knowing. The hunter can take an illegal moose and say, “oh yeah I gotta... lucky on the draw” well the other hunter has no way of knowing. He has to take his word for it. And then, let’s see, another shortfall on behalf of the government is the restraint, it’s a little better now, I think there’s three... in the Conservation Officers, they used to be called Game Wardens. For years, two men based in Vanderhoof were supposed to police in wildlife the north country, north of Fort St. James, halfway to Burns Lake, halfway to Prince George and all the south country was all the roads of the Kluskus, south of Plateau Mills there, two men were suppose to police that. Well it’s impossible and at one time there was a restraint, the Conservation Officer told me, they didn’t even have enough of a budget to get fuel for there vehicle to go and search and I think that’s terrible.