Interviewed by Mr. E. Hendricks
MR. CHILTON: Well, I arrived in Dawson Creek about the first of December of 1930. There were buildings on the townsite, in my recollection. In those days I had to go over to the old townsite for my meals. But about a week or ten days after that, a Chinaman built a little bit of a building on the main street and opened a restaurant and to my recollection that was the first [new] building to be built in Dawson Creek.
MR. HENDRICKS: What did you find in Dawson Creek at that time?
MR. CHILTON: Well, there were no buildings in Dawson Creek at that time.
The McKellar farm was there, the buildings were on the north side of the creek down there. They were the people who sold the farm to the townsite. And then Dawson Creek built up right quick. Harpers moved their store over from the old town and I think there was a contractor on the railroad by the name of Wind (?) Wynd — I think he hauled the Harper store over with his tractors. But the Co-op Store was brought over by Mr. McQueen and that was brought across with a windlass — horsepower on rollers.
MR. HENDRICKS: How about the hotel?
MR. CHILTON: Well the hotel was brought over too, and I believe that thing was brought over with a windlass too. Of course the hotel wasn’t very big at that time, they built an addition onto that you see. So it wasn’t such a large building to move. But the Co-op was quite a store to move. It took maybe ten days to bring that in. It was pretty slow with hors power. So then I brought mine here then too, until 1942. That was the time the Alaska Highway started, so I quit buying grain and got some trucks on the highway, and I put a subdivision in there in the later 1950’s. I left in 1961 for Abbotsford, British Columbia, and that is where I’m living to the present date.
MR. HENDRICKS: In this Chilton Subdivision, what did you have to do to sell the lots?
MR. CHILTON: Had to have it surveyed, and it was all laid out in half acre and acre lots.
MR. HENDRICKS: And did they sell quite fast?
MR. CHILTON: Oh, yes. Sold them all.
MR. HENDRICKS: Any specification of the types of homes supposed to be built on them?
MR. CHILTON: No. No subdivision rules or any thing like that.
MR. HENDRICKS: What kind of grain did they have? What elevator did you work in? What grain did you buy?
MR. CHILTON: It was United Grain Growers that I worked in and it was wheat and oats and barley. We didn’t have them other seeds in those days, the rapeseed [canola] or such as that. And this isn’t much of a flax country so there wasn’t much flax. I did have a little flax but not much.
MR. HENDRICKS: After you left the elevator what other business did you engage in?
MR. CHILTON: Well, I worked for Ace Comstock in his real estate office for a short while then afterwards I worked with W.C. Gold in real estate.
MR. HENDRICKS: How many years were on that?
MR. CHILTON: Probably a couple of years. That was when I put in the subdivision. After I put in the subdivision and finished selling all my lots, I sold my farm and the rest of the land to Ralph Petrick. He has the place yet.
MR. HENDRICKS: Tell us more about what you saw. When did things really jump?
MR. CHILTON: Well, the biggest jump was when the Alaska Highway came. And also they landed the American soldiers in here. And they came in the middle of the night. The first train of soldiers came in the middle of the night. The next morning — why the town was just flooded with soldiers. That was getting ready for the Alaska Highway. It was a better place around here while the Alaska Highway was on. Lots of coming and going. A busy town.
MR. HENDRICKS: You took up trucking about that same time?
MR. CHILTON: Yes, I had trucks on the highway, hauling oil and everything else. Freight. We hauled as far as Whitehorse. I think I had a truck on the first convoy that went all the way through to Whitehorse. They had convoys. I had a truck on that one. It was Finning. Finning had the contract.
MR. HENDRICKS: What was the road like?
MR. CHILTON: Well, it wasn’t a bad road. There were holes in it, such as that, but as a whole the road wasn’t too bad if the weather was good. Course if the weather got bad or something like lots of rain or snow — why it was pretty muddy.
MR. HENDRICKS: And how were you fixed for stopping places along the road?
MR. CHILTON: Well, there were quite a few stopping places because, you see, the construction camps were along there and we could always stop at them.
MR. HENDRICKS: How long have you been away now?
MR. CHILTON: Sixteen years.
MR. HENDRICKS: What was your impression when you came back?
MR. CHILTON: Well, I see a big change in the town and also in farming. There’s a lot of land under cultivation since my days.
MR. HENDRICKS: So this town has grown considerably since?
MR. CHILTON: Oh, yes it has.
MR. HENDRICKS: Anything else you’d like to say about Dawson Creek while you’re at it?
MR. CHILTON: Well, I don’t know. I might say it’s the greatest country that was ever laid outdoors. I really like this Peace River Country. I’ve wished many times since I’d moved away from it that I should never have moved. But as far as coming aback now, I think I’m too old to come back. I’m up in the years pretty well. I’ve thought of moving back just the same.
MR. HENDRICKS: Well, I’ve always found it a nice place to live. Been here since 1930, and I’ve never regretted it.
MR. CHILTON: I’ve got a lot of good friends here that I like to get back and visit with. The Segaar [?] family has been very good to me in my life. And I think an awful lot of . . . . . All I can say is I’ve seen a lot of the old timers since I’ve been back here, I’m glad to be back and see them once again.
MR. HENDRICKS: Mr. Chilton had a little accident that he’d like to relate in connection with the fire [and explosion] that happened about 1943.
MR. CHILTON: Yes. Well I owned the Bentley barn and I had it rented out to this construction outfit or to the army, and they unloaded dynamite in there, and caps. The building caught fire and of course those caps and dynamite all exploded. It pretty well cleaned up that whole block down to the Co-op Store. (Corner 102nd Ave. and 10th Street) I heard there was dynamite in it. I was standing out on the corner by the Reasbeck Hotel. When I heard there was dynamite in there I made tracks for the elevator to get away from it. But I got caught up at the corner by the livery barn up there and if I hadn’t been in close to the building why I think I would have got hit by a big piece of timber, because it came down over the roof, and when it hit the roof it slid out and just missed me. If I had been out a little bit further; why it would have got me. But there was lots of things flying around in the air. The anvil in the blacksmith shop — they picked that up way up near where the dam was [the present site of City Hall]. So it was quite an exciting time around here that night, because there was no place to eat, a lot of windows were broken in the stores . . . Quite a mix-up. I guess that’s about all I can say. I did go down and help Hans Ludvigsen, he was running the bake shop and went down there and made doughnuts all night . . . . . . . something to eat, it wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing, because there was no place to eat.