Mr. McLean is now (1973) 73 years old. His birthday is in August and he was born at Sturgeon Lake, Alberta with a Scotch father and Cree mother. Mrs. McLean is 83 and was born at Lac St. Anne. Her father was a Callioux and her native tongue is Cree. Mrs. McLean is not in the best of health now and has failed so much since I saw her last about three years ago. She was a very robust person, hard working and active. She says she likes living in Chetwynd, but if she were younger, would like to go out in the bush again. She was well known throughout the area for her hide tanning and the making of moccasins and jackets. It’s sad to see her unable to carry on as this is hard work.
Mr. McLean trapped for many years south of “Twidwell Bend” on the Sukunka River and also had a Guiding Area there. He says there were no elk and very few timber wolves in the early years, although plenty of moose and deer. During his many years guiding, he had a great many Americans coming to hunt every fall, even a group of Mexican hunters once. One of his last trips was for a German fellow who was looking for Mountain Goats. This trip was made by truck to the base of the mountain and then a very difficult but successful climb to the top. When I asked him if he’d had any close calls while hunting bear he smiled and said “yes” but he wasn’t scared as he had his rifle.
Mrs. McLean was asked if she knew Chief Wabi and she answered, “You mean that white old man who lived alone? He never lived with Indians — yea, I remember him well, he lived at Bond Siding.” They called him Chief because he was a good man. Later he lived at Arras and she thinks he died there.
Mr. and Mrs. McLean knew Harry Garbitt as he had worked with Mr. McLean’s father for the Hudson Bay at Sturgeon Lake a long time ago. Mr. Garbitt later hauled mail by team from East Pine to Moberly Lake in the early years.
In the early years a cable car was used to cross the Pine River and this was hard work. He remembers one time he crossed and a knot in a rope caught over the cable and he was stalled for awhile. After manipulating the car this way and that he finally was able to move again and made the crossing after a great deal of anxiety.
He also remembers his first trip across the river by train at East Pine and the feeling of panic when he looked down at the river below.
Mr. and Mrs. McLean live in a small but comfortable house in Chetwynd and have many relics and pictures they’ve kept over the years and they seem to enjoy these very much. Their children and grandchildren are close by, as are the many friends they have made over the years. They have a few comforts to help to alleviate the hardships of the earlier years.
Then in the spring [??] he worked on the pipeline and after that for the railroad from Chetwynd to Commotion Creek. When he quit the railroad he again went to work for the pipelines, this time at Summit Lake. By the year 1960 he was finding his health and his wife’s not so good, so he decided to settle in Chetwynd. He built the house he lives in and sad to say, his wife passed away shortly after.
His daughter Mary and her husband Rene Stoney with their three sons have lived with him since. By this time he was unable to do much work and as he hadn’t renewed his trapper’s license he has had to live on his old-age pension. He has never asked for welfare. He says he’d love to go out trapping, as now the prices for fur are so much better than when he trapped.
He hasn’t made the trip to Lac St. Anne Pilgrimage for two years now but still has two brothers and a sister living there. He made his yearly trip many times and remembers the crowds that came from all over by wagon and team as far back as 1910 and 1912.