Interview with Davida Moffat
Davida Moffat: I was born in Boston, Mass in 1894 and when I was 14 my
Dad took a
notion he wanted to go west and so we came across to Seattle. But that
didn't suit him very much but we landed there. We spent as couple of
years there. We came up to Alberta where we homesteaded and I married
Interviewer: What part of Alberta
Davida: Northeast of Edmonton at Radway.
Interviewer: So you went from a warm climate to a cold climate.
Davida: I had
never been in a cold climate because Mass is not cold. and is not what
we had. We had snow, lots of snow, but not zero weather. I was quite
comfortable to get around in. At that time is was street cars and horse
Interviewer: There were no street cars in Alberta
Davida: No not up where
we went. We went about 35 miles I guess, more than that, from a
railway, and street cars were not around.
Interviewer: So you married there.
Interviewer: What year
Davida: 1913 and in 1915 my son was born.
Davida: Ralph. When we came to Prince George, he was 4 and a
half years old. That was 1919 when we landed in Prince George. My
husband worked at various jobs .
Interviewer: What made you decide to move to
Davida: My husband and my dad they wanted to go where two of the
neighbours went that were in Alberta. They went to Woodpecker. They
wanted to go there. My father did go there. At that time there was no
road. He shipped his horses and implements and things like that on the
riverboat, and went all the way down. But I never got down there. My
husband finally decided he wouldn't go down there. It was just being
settled. So he stayed here. He took on various job. He worked on the B
and B., the Canadian National Railroad crew, for stuccoing buildings,
chimney building, painting, anything to do with the running and the
maintenance of the CNR. He worked at that for quite a while. My son
to school and at that time schooling went to Grade Eleven and after
that there was no more education in Prince George. If you wanted more
learning they had to go to Vancouver and it was during the 1930s and
depression was on. So nobody could afford it to send them. He finished
school at 15 and at that time it was hard to get something to do for an
15 year old boy. But he was lucky, He got work down at the pipe plant,
where they made the concrete culverts, the big ones. His job was to
keep them dampened.
Interviewer: So they could cure.
Davida: Yes, because it was
Davida: So when we came to PG in 1919 it was in November and there
was no station here and the train stopped right on George Street. It
was 5 o'clock in the morning and we stepped off the train into slush
water. There one hotel and we got it for the night and that day then
was Sunday and there were no stores so we has to stay in hotel till the
Monday when we could shop.
started looking for other accommodation.
Davida: We had already got
accommodation but our furniture hadn't arrived yet. We lived then up on
Moffat Street. We lived in that little house until we found something
closer to town. So we got a little place and we had it moved on to
Renwick Crescent just straight across from the Elementary school. Very
near for the boys to start school. We lived there for a little while
and then we got better accommodation on Ross Crescent. That is just
across from Duchess Park. Of course, Duchess Park wasn't there at that
Interviewer: There were a few elementary school then.
Davida: Yes, the one below
the elementary, that was Baron Byng High. It's not there now. That was
the high school. I couldn't say exactly how many people lived here
It was pretty sparse. You got to know practically everybody at that
time. There were wooden sidewalks, kind of rickety. The streets were
Interviewer: There were some buildings and stores in the downtown
Davida: There were small stores. There was a store I think it was
Reeds store. It was on the way to the City Hall. It faced south
from just where we stepped off the train. It' was a beautiful site as
they had lovely lighting on the City Hall. It was just a small building
but it caught your eye.
Interviewer: How did you get the things you needed. Were
Davida: We did shopping through Eatons or Simpsons
Sears. There wasn't very much in the line of clothing and it was
impossible to rely on them.
Interviewer: There was no variety.
Davida: It seemed that
at that time, people didn't suffer any because there was no need for
fancy clothes and everybody was in the same boat.
The Moffats, Harold Moffat and my son went to school together and they
finished school together. Neither one of them went on to Vancouver.
That was their education. The rest they picked up as they went along.
They did very well. Both of them.
Interviewer: You didn't have any more
Interviewer: Were you involved in different things?. In the
Davida: No, not at that time. I've been involved in churches.
They were small affairs ,just little buildings. The United Church had
built a church and I more or less affiliated myself with that church
and got involved with the ladies on the rotations and the Sunday
School. I worked there for nine and a half years in the Sunday school
and the Woman's Auxiliary Missionary Society.
Interviewer: What sort of things did
Davida: We had out meetings as usual. We put on bazaars,
dinners, and I can remember Bobby Burns' That was a big event for the
Scotch. We used to put on Bobby Burns supper. It used to be so cold we
almost freeze to death in the hall where we held it. We had a piper and
Hagis and a lunch. Not your favourite thing.
Interviewer: You have to be Scottish
Davida: I think so. People began to come it. They moved most of
the buildings from the Central portion down to Prince George and they
moved buildings from South Fort George to Prince George. It started
right after we came here. Then eventually it began to be new buildings
that were going up.
Interviewer: Did they build roads too.
Davida: Yes slowly. but
they were roads, gravel ones. And when we arrived in Prince George
was one car and that was a taxi a Model T Ford.
the few people who were in a hurry.
Davida: I don't know . I never rode
in it. We used shanks mare to go anyplace. There were two big steamers
the Island Cache, pulled up on to the shore.
Interviewer: They weren't being
Davida: No. That's why the bridge was built the way it was, to let
the boats through. Well, quite long before the Second World the ships
were dismantled. The Japanese had bought them. So they came back to us
in the war and our men got them.
Interviewer: Men from here specifically?
Well, Canadians. Our boats were bought by the Japanese to make bullets
and shrapnel. My father lived at Woodpecker, the family did, for three
years and he put up on his homestead and he came and went out beyond
Pineview back in there, and settled there for awhile. I had three
brothers and as they got old enough to leave home, they came to me in
Prince George and got jobs. So one time I had the three of them.
your hands full.
Davida: Yes but mother decided that she wasn't going to
stay out there alone, so she came to town and she took the family
then. The father came in.
Interviewer: So by that time your house was big enough for
Davida: No, we moved into another house on corner of Ross. We
rented it for a long time and the man didn't want to sell it. It was a
new place. I don't know how many years we were there when we finally
got word that if we still wanted to buy the house, he would sell so we
bought it. We improved it as money would let you, and its still down
there. There was news of war in 1939 and my husband having been a
soldier, he went to the bridge. The police had charge of that and
when the war came on the steel bridge had to be guarded 24 hours
day and the water tank had to be guarded and all firearms confiscated.
They were there till the war finished. My son , by that time, he had
married and he worked at the Cariboo Quartz up at Barkerville, Wells,
he enlisted too, from there, along with my youngest brother. My
youngest brother he fought in Holland most of the time there and he
came home and spent most of his time in and out of Shaunghnessy. My son
enlisted in the Grand Air Force. He was mechanically minded, so he was
wireless technician and had to repair instruments as the planes came
down. And he trained troops from New Zealand in that work. He got his
embarkation and came home and went back to where they worked, but the
war was over before they got shipped.
Interviewer: That's good.
Davida: Yes, he had a
lot of experience. He passed away four years ago. His wife went eight
months after he died. So I have a granddaughter here and my grandson
lives in Cocquitlam. I haven't seen him since he came up for his
mother's funeral. Do you have great grandchildren? I have two great
grandchildren. They live in Prince George. Once in a while they visit.
They are both busy. They are very musical girls and they did well in
Music Festival. Both of them, the older one, she is now fourteen, and
three others, have invitation to sing at Expo.
Interviewer: Do they get this talent
Davida: Well I can't see where they do. I never had the
Davida: When we had the troops here, I don't know how many were
here, thousands, from Montreal and all through Ontario, conscripts.
were trained here. Yes. That changed the town. After the war a lot of
the men who trained here, came back
to settle. They liked it. We had nice times with them.
Interviewer: There were
functions planned in their behalf.
Davida: Oh yes. All churches. At
Knox, every Sunday after church we had a social. We baked you know and
had some very good times.
Interviewer: It kept you busy
Davida: Yes and during the war
anyone with a spare bedroom were asked to register it through the Red
Interviewer: For the men
Davida: Not for the men, but for their wives. They would
stay maybe three or four weeks. They'd come and go at night.
Interviewer: So you
people in your home.
Davida: Yes, always, I was never without. I'm still
corresponding with one of the first ones that came. They never forget
birthday. Their name was Rousel. He was a Postman in Toronto and she
also worked in the post office. They were exceptionally nice and they
belonged to the United Church.
Interviewer: You had a connection.
Davida: Yes, they
were good to me too. If there was anything come in, like an
entertainer, I was invited. I went with them and ridden in their huge
truck. Just with the Rausel's.
Interviewer: There was lots of entertainment.
The Knights of Columbus, they always put on a dance but we provided the
eats, so we were busy one way or another.
Interviewer: How was it getting food
Davida: We were rationed.
Interviewer: Was that difficult.
Well, the Red Cross took over and we were to meet in groups of six to
knit or sew or whatever. At meetings you could serve a cookie or cake
bread and butter, but you couldn't serve anymore than one thing. That
was understood. Well I tried that. But to me it was a waste of time.
You get a group of women together and gossip and they'd forgot what
they were supposed to be doing and they weren't accomplishing much. So
I went to the head lady of the Red Cross and I told her my
difficulties. I said they just sit back and not don't do much. So the
Red Cross Lady said would you like to take supplies home. 'Yes', I
said, 'I could do far more at home.' You know when you weren't doing
anything else you could sew. So that's what I did. I did one group and
when that was finished I took that back and did another bunch.
Interviewer: Did you
still go to the socials?
Davida: No I dropped out.
Interviewer: That wasn't
Davida: After the close of the war and with everything being
straightened out, the head Red Cross woman had a tea for some of us and
I had the honour of having made the most individual sewing of anyone in
Interviewer: Well that was nice. Did you sew clothes a lot.
for myself and we were always working for the bazar.
****** There is the
sound of the microphone being dropped a nd then no further recording on