Fred had come into the Dawson Creek area in 1921 with his mother and family of four. They had settled on his aunt’s farm, close to the old townsite. The Newby family had come from Leads, Yorkshire. The future Co-op manager went to school at the South Dawson school, five miles west of present-day Dawson Creek.
When he started with the Co-op Fred describes the operation as a “two man affair”, shared with the clerk-manager, a Norwegian recently arrived from a North Dakota Co-op, E. L. Hauger. Homesteaders, trappers, and ranches came into the Co-op store. Fred estimates that the population of the old town was around 100 people.
In 1934, after the store had moved to the new town site, Jessie Packwood arrived in Dawson Creek from Vulcan, Alberta. Fred married Jessie in 1937 in the old United Church. Jack Gardiner was the minister. It was his first marriage ceremony in Dawson Creek. In 1942 Katherine Newby was born in Dawson Creek. In 1944 Brian was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Fred Newby had been assistant manager at the Co-op for five years, prior to his appointment as manager in 1944. In that year the Co-op had a turnover of around $400,000 a year.
It was during these early years when Jessie and Fred used to golf on the village golf course in the area of the present-day [junior] high school. Fred also played tennis on the courts in the same location. However the big sport with Fred Newby is bird shooting. He started as a boy and he still goes out in season with his son Brian who Fred reports is a “good shot”.
Always interested in civic affairs, Fred served two years on the first city council. This was in the 1957-58 administration. He was also a charter member of the Dawson Creek Rotary club, formed in 1951. Mr. Newby has also worked energetically for the Dawson Creek Athletic Association.
The Co-op manager describes the Co-op movement as “middle of the road policy”. He says it is a formula between socialism and capitalism, which lets people help themselves.