Steve Sintich Interview

Interviewed by June Chamberland

June : I'm interviewing Steve Sintich and he's, well , going to tell me about some of the buildings , so now can you tell me how old the Aitchison house is

Steve : Well the Aitchison house goes back probably into the turn of the century.

June : 1912, is it?

Steve : Yeah, somewhere in that . Then there was the Blackburn house and then there was the Thompson house , then there was this one, there was the Quesnelle house and then there was, there was our barn building here and it was all at the time of the of the railroad coming through here. These were the first farmers that came by . See the Thompsons and the Blackburns and Quesnelles and the Aitchisons , they were allthe original farmers and even before that there was a, before that there was a set of farmers up in this, up in that airport area there on the old Giscome highway and also at Len Thony's place , that was a, that was an old farmer too. That all goes before 1930, you see. So then there was, gee, there was a place , it's on Johnson Road, this side of the Cariboo Highway and I can't remember the name of it but anyway there was another but anyway there was another building similar. If you look around they sort of follow one another because of the people moving in and the type of construction.

June : Yeah Steve: You know these are dovetail corners and these other ones were ....see the dove tail corners were permanent corners and the type of logs that they put in. The other corners on the buildings our old barn here , they're the easy ones. They're the easy construction.

June : Oh I wonder if that would be part of it here. Yeah, this one here , do you think that is it.

Steve : That's part of the easy corners. I call them the easy corners but on this old barn here, that was the easy corners and they were usually the barns. These buildings here, some of them were barns and some of them were actually houses as you see here in the Aitchison house . Then the old Blackburn house and as you see they're all, they were all almost, almost the same . This Thompson School it was built like this and it's between the Old Cariboo Highway on the old Giscome Road and Blackburn Road, half way but now it's on the left going down, going east, going east about half way and it's been chopped down. It used to, used to be like two-story type but they reduced it because it was a school house you know.

June : With two floors like?

Steve : Yeah, it was two floors.

June : They didn't build too many two-floored school houses in them days.

Steve : No, no they didn't and then I believe that at one time there were buildings on where the Experimental Farm is, old buildings and then up on Gunn Road there should be a couple of old buildings. Chris Beavers barns what is owned now by Northern Hardware.

June : Oh, so they still own it?

Steve : Yeah, up on Gunn Road . Yeah, Northern Hardware, the buildings, the barn. One barn in there is part of the same era.

June : Are they still there?

Steve : I think the barn is still there, yeah, yeah I think the barn is still there.

June : So if I go and talk to Moffats do you think like they would probably let me in there?

Steve : Well yeah, oh yeah. You know that's on the road to the Youth Containment Centre. You go up to the Youth Containment Centre and at the end of the road.

June : Oh yeah, you just keep going?

Steve : Instead of turning into the Youth Containment Centre the buildings are over to the left. Then , let me think now for a minute. Ah you'll find an old barn down the end of Wansa Road. It's been here, it's been here for quite a while.

June : Wansa Road.

Steve : At the end of Wansa Road and it's on the right hand side of the road. Same year as ourbarn. It was built in same year.

June : Not the one on Pedscalny ? There's a couple of old buildings on it. Do you know Pedscalny?

Steve : No, I don't know

June : It's off of go down the old Giscome Road.

Steve : No, this is on Wansa Road. Just down here. Just down off Sintich. At the end of Wansa Road. Just over here like.

June : Yeah

Steve : You go back in here , there's another old barn building there . It was owned by a man named Dronich.

June : Dronich?

Steve : Dronich, D-r-o-n-i-c-h and I'd have to look for it. I have another building that was up in the bush here but it's still in .....I think it's still there. Part of an old building that's left. And then let's see, my neighbors over there , but they've taken down all their old buildings though. They had a house and a barn because those, some of those buildings were done at the time of the railroad coming there. Some stuff was ....

June : So who was your neighbor that had those buildings over there?

Steve : Brkitch

June : I wonder if they took any pictures of it or anything

Steve : They may have some pictures , you know, they just may have some pictures.

June : Sometimes people did and then if they did well then you know ...

Steve : Nick may have some pictures of the old barn and that. Yeah, he might have some of the old pictures.

June : Yeah

Steve : You could go over there and see them. Ah let's see. See some of them barns , some of them places have disappeared too. See this is the , this is the , see where the Blackburn Senior Secondary School , Senior Secondary School, the Schlitts that owned the building there, ah they ...that was an old building . That was one of the original buildings here. They came, let's see, then , let's see where else , see the old, if you go to the Farmer's Institute they should have pictures of the old Farmer's Istitute Hall .

June : Oh yeah, was that up here too?

Steve : That was on Blackburn Road.

June : That would be the Farmer's Institute around this area like ?

Steve : The Pineview Farmer's Institute . They should have some pictures of the old original Pineview Hall . It was on Blackburn Road. In fact it was on the Blackburn property.

June : Oh, was it?

Steve : Yeah, it was on the Blackburn property. Right across from Veeken's Poultry farm. So okay now, I'm trying to think of the .....another one ....another one there . I've forgotten all the names already . You know I knew the names of different people that owned the different places . They're gone too. Used to be part of the Airport, used to be a farm there that had some old buildings on it . It seemed like when the railroad was coming through a lot of the people worked on the railroad plus did the farming and it was an anticipation of fairly good growth and then in the 30's or the20's I mean, I'm sorry, the 30's, say in the latter part of the 20's , then an immigration of a lot of Europeans came and Swiss people , German people and they came and settled . You take like for instance the old Cariboo Highway like they called it, the old Cariboo Highway and down here to the river, they used to call this little Yugoslavia. Mostly the people that owned property on this side of the road had an i-c-h on the end of their name.

June : Oh yeah

Steve : So that was around.....and anybody in the Tabor Creek area , most of them were either German or Swiss so you had German, Swiss, or Italian . That's how they settled the communities, they know one started it and then they just kind of huddled you know, from the replacement of Europe. It's almost like that and since then it's all changed.

June : Yeah, they're all intermarried and all over the place.

Steve : Yeah, yeah Tape shut off. Talk about the Heritage Society.

Steve : You take for instance the Red Rock area , the Woodpecker area, the Stone Creek area that was a whole other batch of people that moved into the area during an era then, that was even before, that seemed to crawl because of the gold rush.

June : Oh yeah

Steve : Those people moved into that area because of the gold rush, because of the river, so that goes back to the latter part of the 18th century to the 19th. That's a hundred years ago. When you think back, it's a long time ago but not that long ago.

June : No

Steve : When you really think about it, you know . So it seemed like the migration , you know, each area had a different migration of different people doing different things for different purposes. Like the Salmon Valley is another area that's got quite a history behind it. The Mud River area is another area. The Mud River , another history area. It all depends how the area , how these people projected itself to growth and through need . I think it was more through need and survival than anything else because my, our place here , at the time it was in the 30's. Dad came here in 29.

June : Oh your dad was an original. He was an original owner here?

Steve : No, not really. There was a tie company. The name was Bullock that owned this property to start with. It was when the, that's why the barn was here. They built a house and barn and then they did the tie-making, the same thing for the railroad, the same thing over yonder here. Any of these places that had a barn and a house , that was all tie camps.

June : Oh yeah

Steve : They would cut ties in the winter time because there was lots of groves of pine and fir and that's why, that's why they were here. There was a lot of fir in the area here. So that was used for ties and so like Mike ... And then our place and our neighbors. Well most of the places were bought out from need because of a place to live and survive because there was no welfare.

June : No. So your dad you say , took over in 1929 about?

Steve : He bought the property in 1931.

June : 1931, oh yeah , and the tie hacker had been here before me.

Steve : Prior to that because the railroad went through here in 1914, 1911, 12, 14, something like that and that's how all those places were.

June : So you don't know much about Bullock then other than that .....

Steve : No I don't know too much of that other than the fact is a record of it he had on the title on the property. Other than that it comes from him to us.

June : What was his first name? Do you know?

Steve : I can't , I can't recall. The reason I know it's Bullock because this creek that runs here is Bullock Creek . It's registered as a Bullock Creek yeah, so ....

June : So when your dad came here were you all kids then ?

Steve : No, my dad came here all by himself, in 1929. He purchased this property in 1931and he went to Ontario for a couple of years and came back. He came back and actually stayed here since 1933 and then he .... mother stayed behind in Croatia till 1938 when she came over. I was born in 1939 and my two brothers came over with Mom in 1938. One of my brothers died in a construction job at Kemano in 1953 and my other one lives right here and one stayed behind in the old country, which he disappeared during the war so it was actually .....there was four of us but I was born here in Canada and then father he was making wood ties during the 40's like he39, '40, '41, '42, '43, up to '45, and then just after the war, that's when the saw mills moved in.

June : Hmm

Steve : Then we had a sawmill here 1945, the winter of '45 to '52. Then the change started coming and the bigger mills would come in so '52 and then after that it was the big mills took over and then the '60's the pulp mills came and that's how the whole area changed and now it's changing again. So now it's yeah, the history is unique to the people who lived around there.

June : Yeah okay you were telling me you knew all about who lived in this little house here.

Steve : That was a couple of old bachelors that again that property was bought because of need and a couple of bachelors and one man was Mohra and the other was Yuratich.

June : Spell those names for me.

Steve : Ah Gee whiskers! I can pronounce them but I'm going to have a little difficulty spelling them.

June : Just some idea anyways.

Steve : M-o-h-r-a and his name was Mike. Y-u-r-a-t-i-c-h and his name was Milan.

June : Yeah. Were they friends then , those two?

Steve : Yeah, they were friends and then again out of necessity they bought a piece of property and then eventually this gentleman Mr Yuratich, he got sick and they moved him to Kamloops and Mike Mohar, he moved to the city. He bought a place in the city.

June : Oh yeah, in Prince George ?

Steve : Yeah Prince George but my Dad bought this place in the 40's, oh yeah, from them 160 acres.

June : So how old do you think this house is?

Steve : That was built in the 40's.

June : Oh yeah.

Steve : Yeah it was built in the 40's, early 40's about actually, I would say 1940, I think it was built. Dad didn't buy the property till 1944 I think, 45.

June : So they only stayed there a few years like

Steve : Oh yeah, they didn't stay very long. Well they were working out, eh? Like they worked out at the different mills . See a lot of times, a lot of these people all worked at Shelley and Giscome and Penny and Willow River and Hansard and all the way up and down the line. They worked for the big mills you know, during the winter and then they homesteaded during the summer so a lot of them, a lot of them did that. My dad worked for Shelley in 35, 36, 37, 38. That's when he worked at Shelley Sawmills you know, as a teamster and as a faller. Stuff like that.

June : So did he have cattle here like?

Steve : Well then they really started to farm . Well they had sustainance. As far as sustainance is concerned, having a couple of cows and chickens and pigs just for their own purpose to survive. I can remember during the war years it was like "how do you survive. So how do you survive, that's what it was all about. It was to survive and after that he expanded the clearing and in the 50's expanded some more and then we had a full-fledged farm for five or six years . 19, it basically died in 1959 when the ..Dom... when Domtar bought it and the CPR came through in 1953.

June : Oh yeah. You didn't have your farm down there did you?

Steve : Part of the prime property went down right to the railroad track. So then in 1953, they surveyed the high way here , took some more and since then they've been chopping it up but it's sure funny ...but they still maintain that this shoulds be farmed and the Provincial Government , now under the statute , they say that this should be farmed and you can't make a living.

June : That's kind of odd because so close to town , I imagine in time they will make ...Having

Steve : Our city's going to be frozen at 80,000 people.

June : I think so. It can't look after anymore than that, job-wise.

Steve : If you had futuristic individuals who could think like we had a mere you know, years ago, there were people who said pulp mills would come and then the bottom . I just read an article where someone was going to put together a pulp mill way back in the 30's here and the Government said there wasn't sufficient enough wood supply . You know as time goes along .... community here is what people generate, not what government generates and will being stifled because the people are being stifled by government and that's what's happening . You can have all the studies in the world but you know like yourself here , if you hadn't come out to my place to take these pictures, it would never have got done. MORE TALK

Steve : Each section of this particular barn built along the old Cariboo highway , the thing is that he probably had a grove of trees that were fairly equal , easy to get them so at the same time his span time to build this was maybe little better than say the time span to get this built . These go together fairly fast because of the corners. These take a considerable amount more time. These are all dove-tailed.

June : And these are all broad-axed too hey?

Steve : Oh yeah but if you notice they're all even and that this availability to get that kind of timber , his access to that kind of timber, he was able to do that. And yet over here they didn't use any pine , it's all spruce . Some of this is pine and some of this is spruce so now the reason the spruce was available, the pine was for ties . So if you look at their , look at their buildings you know, something like ...

June : This is a log barn. I looked at it yesterday , like you can't tell because it was pretty dark when it was taken quite a distance and I was looking yesterday and it's a log barn.

Steve : No it's a log barn but at the same time I think this back part , it was done later.

June : Yeah so as the That's why it,s got a line in the middle there.

Steve : Yeah, so this is what happens , this is what happens to the ... It' s the same thing with our, this portion here has been added on after. This part was always there at the first.

June : So this was the house?

Steve : No.

June : So what's the building that's right next to this - that's a tie building hey? They made ties there?

Steve : Yeah , yeah, this other building , that was a chicken house but that was built later, that was built .....

June : That was a chicken house?

Steve : Yeah, the next one to it yeah. And this one building, this one here, this this is the chicken house and that was the pig house . This is the cow barn and this is a granary and that was a granary and that was a .....

June : I should write those things down so I remember it. So some of these are ...

Steve : We'll put that here and we'll slap these on here ( Labelling buildings)Chicken house - built in let's see 1945Horse barn - built somewhere in the bases of 1912 - 1914.

June : And they hacked ties in that?

Steve : It was for a tie camp.

June : Or was it the horse barn for the tie camp?

Steve : Yeah

June : They didn't do the ties in there, that was the horse barn ( skidding)

Steve : No the horse barn for the tie camp. They had to have a place for the horses. This was a granary, probably later on built. Oh yeah this was around 1945.This is the back end of the chicken house.

June : Yeah because I took it from the back.

Steve : This is the pig barn.

June : Okay

Steve : Okay. That's them all labelled there. Oh wait a minute. Got two more. That is a And this a granary.

June : So what happened to the house?

Steve : Oh the log house. It was situated out on the middle of the field and it disappeared . Like we had to take it down.

June : It got too....

Steve : It got too old yeah. It got too old. Yeah you see these are dove-tailed . You see how well they're done. That took a little longer to cause they could never slip out of there. They were really interlocked.

Steve : Oh no, they would never ......and they were all hacked , they were all hewn, hewed. It's called hewed, house logs. They did it on all four sides which was a big job and it was, you know. It took quite a bit of time to put that together well constructed, and you know when you see how they were heated, the heat, they were basically very, very warm . It didn't take much heat to have it warm so.... What did they do with all that?

June : Tore it down and burnt it.

Steve : Just recently?

June : Two-three years ago, yeah. I don't know when it was I went there , probably about three-four years ago. Who's all in Willow River. Like is there any old buildings like besides Perry's? Did you know the Pickerings? There's a whole homestead there. I took pictures of that right before Perry's.

Steve : The Ferndale-Willow River area were not really, not really that familiar with the area. But that was another area , the Shelley-Willow River along the Willow River . There's quite a few families there that over the years lived there. The whole area has a tremendous lost history.

June : Okay I was going to ask you what your father's name, first name was.

Steve : Frank Sintich.

June : Frank Sintich and your mother?

Steve : Anna Sintich.

June : And what were your brother's names?

Steve : Okay, one was Frank, one was Peter, and myself Stephan, Steven.

June : Which one stayed in the old country?

Steve : Oh Joe, okay, in Croatia. He was lost during the last war.

June : And which one lives over here?

Steve : That's Peter, Peter.

June : That there guy that had the tie camp, what was his name?

Steve : Bullock.

June : You don't know his name?

Steve : No, I don’t know the first name, don't know the first name.

June : Did he have a family or anything?

Steve : I don't know. I couldn't ....I think he was a contractor . He was a contractor for the tie camp. Yeah he was a contractor for the tie camp when they first were selling the lands up in here. See there was the sub-divisions went through here in 1911. Most of the sub-divisions here were 1911. Some of that is in the Archives. I've read about the land disposition of the 1900's.

June : In the library?

Steve : Yeah, Mr. Fred Burden was the surveyor.

June : Oh yeah, he's the guy Huble mentioned in his diaries.

Steve : Fred Burden, so that would be the surveyor at that time that surveyed most of the roads around here.

June : Who was the other one?

Steve : There was somebody else who was a very prominent name in the area too and I've read some of it who was the regional surveyors when the railroad went through but I think Mr. .Burden was the one who came here with the railroad. He stayed and surveyed most of the land.

June : Did you remember the Miworth fire or did you....guess it was before your time.

Steve : I don't recall, I read some items on the fire .... the Cranbrook hill fire. There was a sawmill up on Cranbrook hill that went over top and went down into Miworth.

June : Okay, was that that Androlangs ?

Steve : Yeah I think so. I read some items on that but I can't recall.

June : I'm going to see if I can find it in the library, the Citizen

Steve : Oh yeah the Citizen's been here for quite some time.

June : The Museum should have some of those things.

Steve : You know we lost a tremendous amount of history when that museum burnt down. There was a lot in that, you know that hey?

June : You know that farm in South Fort George there right by Hudson Bay slough, do you know anything about that farm there?

Steve : Oh

June : She's still there.

Steve : Yeah

June : Goodwin

Steve : Salpow, that was her father . He got that land.

June : 1945

Steve : Oh no, earlier that that.

June : It would be earlier than that.

Steve : Maybe he did get it around '45 but he'd been around before that.

June : Yeah he was up around Bonnet Hill there. And how about that school teacher, Fanny?

Steve : Fanny Kinney. That's where the rest area is , her house used to sit ......

June : Fanny Kinney?

Steve : She's a sister to Allen Stevens.

June : Yeah

Steve : And they were out at Shelley and my dad bought the first horse off of them.

June : Of Stevens ?

Steve : Yeah

June : Is that right hey? And off the original Stevens.

Steve : Yeah the old man.

June : It's interesting how everything sort of hooks together and I've been up Chief Lake road and find out who's married to who.

Steve : I know it's amazing and how the families are still connected - the Allens and the Roberts

June : I talked to Ida Allen , took a picture of the Andrew Allen's cabin

Steve : Frank Allen used to haul wood from here in the 40's .

June : From you?

Steve : And ties. I guess it would be his dad , the guy that runs the store.

June : Richard Allen.

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