The Pollard Brothers (Jim and Wes) were the first settlers in the district and they settled on the south bank of Doe Creek in 1913. It had taken them three months and ten days to make the trip from Edmonton. Fred Mast came next, followed by his brother Ed and Arthur (Mickey) Schobert. They arrived by ox team from Athabasca Landing in 1914. The Dunham Family arrived in 1914, followed by the Yaeger and Auton families.
In 1917 the north portion of the Doe Creek District was surveyed and opened to settlers and after World War I a number of veterans as well as other settlers took up land there. Capt. J.E. Lean, his brother M.E. Lean, Ramon Gross, Ben Holloway and family and others. By 1922 the first school was built about one-mile south and one-half mile east of the present Doe River School. This school was burned down in the spring of 1923 and school was taught in a granary until the new one was built that fall on the present site.
In 1918 James Auton was the first white child born there in the original Doe River District. By this time there was still very little cultivated land but there were large herds of cattle grazing on the open range.
In the fall they would be rounded up and sorted and during the winter months they were fed the hay that had been cut and cured during the summer. It was mostly slough hay from the many sloughs.
There was a trail to the Peace River by this time and you can still see the “Old Peace River Trail” in some places. During the winter freighters followed the trail and up the river to get to Fort St. John and places north. In summer time there was a boat, the “Weenusk” made several trips from Peace River Crossing to Hudson’s Hope. The last trip was made in 1929.
Although the influx of settlers dwindled for a few years there were a few acres of land being cleared and broke to raise wheat and this was hauled to Spirit River during the winter months and a year’s supply of non-perishable food brought back.
The mail was brought to Tremblay’s on the Pouce Coupe River from Grande Prairie and once a month it was hauled by team to the Pollard Brother’s home where everyone in the district could get their mail.
By 1927 the settlers started arriving again and much land was taken up between then and the early thirties. By 1932 our school had been enlarged, however, that fall it was not opened because there were not enough pupils. It re-opened in the spring of 1933. In 1937 a small one-room school was built on the grounds and the lower grades from 1-5 were taught in it and the higher grades from 6-11 were taught in the bigger school. Then in 1949 a modern three-roomed school was built and the small school moved to North Rolla and is still being used. In 1950 the Shearerdale-Carpio children were brought to Doe River by bus and we now have an attendance of over seventy from grades 1-9 inclusive.
In 1928 Mr. Running built the first store, but we still didn’t have a post office until 1930 when Jack Norrie got the post office in connection with the store which he was running at that time. The Post Office was given the name of Doe River and the present Doe River District was formed Arthur Hollingshead was the first white baby born at Doe River — September 11, 1930 and on August 16, 1935 the first twins of the district were born to Edna and Mary Rylette. Although there were twins born to Mr. & Mrs. Lean before that time they were born in the Red Cross Hospital in Pouce Coupe. Pat and Les Lean are the oldest twins but cannot take the honour of being the first twins born in the district because their cousins have that honour.
Although there was the Red Cross Hospital at Pouce Coupe it was not very convenient to get to it so in case of illness of any kind a neighbour was usually called in.
In 1933 the W.I. was formed with 12 members and on May 3 of this year we celebrated our 21st birthday.
Capt. J.E. Lean was a great organizer and worker for the district and in 1937 he formed a calf and swine club and held an achievement day and Fall Fair and continued with this work until he left the district to return to his old home in Ontario.
At one Fall Fair we were very much honoured to have Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir visit with us. They were touring the country in his official duty as His Excellency the Governor General of Canada. They were very much interested in details of the country and with the exhibits, and Lady Tweedsmuir bought a hooked rug that Mrs. Packer had exhibited.
In 1929 the Doe Creek Community Hall was built, unfortunately, it was burned to the ground in the fall of 1930. So dice and card parties were held in the school until things got so bad in the thirties that we could not manage the 25¢ to go to the dances, so we started having house parties during the winter. A team and sleigh would pull out of a yard with the family in it, but by the time the party was reached, there would be five or six families in the sleigh. We all took lunch, mostly bannock — the music was for free. We all enjoyed ourselves, though sometimes the houses were well packed. In those days the district was like one big family, but now it has grown so much that we have W.I., the Farmers Institute, Legion, Young People’s, Drama and Athletic, Rink and Gym club, Co-op, and the 4-H and swine club. Although we do not have a community hall, we do have a Co-op hall in which to hold our meetings, dances, card parties, and social gatherings.
Rev. Ellingson started a sawmill in the northwest corner of the district in 1932-33 and many of the homesteaders got permits to cut logs for buildings. They would work for Mr. Ellingson in exchange for having him saw their logs. That way they could have lumber for roof or floors of houses instead of poles and squared or sawn logs, as there was no money to buy lumber in those days.
In 1941, Wes Yaeger held the first stampede with visitors and entries from many districts in the country. Although there was an interruption for a few years, the Wes Yaeger Stampede is still running and this year will be held on June 30 and July 1, 1957.
In 1930 Cyril Holloway and Mrs. J. Nelson started Sunday School and later Cyril went to Africa as a Missionary. For a while the Sunday School started up again and was going strong under the leadership of Mr. & Mrs. J. Irving.
We have come a long ways since the first settlers came to the district, from cattle or pack trails we now have proper roads. We still have the original store — owned and operated by Joe Irving. We also have a modern school, a garage, Co-op hall, two apiaries, (Schobert’s and Graham’s), a Liberal Association, a C.C.F. Club and a Social Credit Club and study group and the Doe River Cardinals Hockey team. There are three telephones in Doe River — one at the store, one in the school and the other is at Joe Irving’s house. So in case of an emergency or accident we are sure to be able to get to one of the telephones to call for help — what a change from the days when messages were sent by moccasin telegraph.