Interviewed by Mr. Clarence Tibbetts, Aug. 1955
Mr. Tibbetts: We are about to interview a real old-timer who has had a long and colourful career in this district, Mr. Wesley O. Harper. How and when did you arrive?
Mr. W.: We came over the Edson Trail in 1914 in February and arrived in March.
Mr. T.: What did you do after your arrival?
W.H.: We stayed overnight at Harry Gibson’s. The next day there was an auction sale being held about three miles up Saskatoon Creek where one of the homesteaders had decided to shoot himself. We went up to the sale and purchased some feed, and rented the place for a year. That was a place all ready to move into — a barn and a shack.
C.T.: You purchased fur in the early days. What about the fur trade and dealings with some of the trappers, Wes?
W.H.: In regard to the fur trade. I moved into the Old Town of Dawson Creek in 192? and worked several years for Howard Atkinson operating a general store and trading post. Fur entered the picture more or less as barter. The kinds of fur at that time were lynx, squirrels and weasel, beaver, rat, marten, mink, and fisher. Fairly large quantities were being caught by several of the older trappers. [They included] Ernie Knutson, and the Callison boys and the Calliou family, Callahaison, Nels Neilson, Esswein of Little Prairie, Strands, Jimmy Mathews. Approximately a hundred trappers came into Old Dawson in them days in the spring.
The prices varied from year to year. We’ve seen springs when silver fox ran up to five hundred dollars and we’ve seen them as low as five dollars, and the same as regards to other furs. At the present time (1955) fur prices are very low and it doesn’t look too promising.
C.T.: What entertainment or sports did you people have? I know you were a very good ball player.
W.H.: I would say the people enjoyed the dances more than anything else. The people went long distances on sleighs and on saddle horses — anything at all to get them to the dances. They wouldn’t miss them for anything. As far as the sports were concerned, there were quite a few young people in the country and some very good ball players that had just graduated from school. In 1914 and ‘15 there were three ball teams organized in the district — one at Dawson Creek Valley, one in Saskatoon Valley and one at Rock Creek or Rolla as it is now know. The games were of very good caliber. In 1915 we journeyed to Grande Prairie to the Fair. We travelled by wagon, and it took us ten days to get down there, take in the Fair and get home again. We were fortunate enough to win at Grande Prairie. Some of the old ball players are still in the district — they were really top-notch. I shouldn’t mention any names but I would like to mention Bud Piper because he was really outstanding. There are several others still here.
C.T.: It’s nice to hear a review of some of the old days, and it’s nice to have you with us. Would you say that if you had it to do over again would you come and stay?
W.H.: Well, I don’t know of any better place. I have had a few holidays in USA and other places. I don’t think there is any better place anywhere. We have a climate that is healthy. I’ve lived here most of my life and expect to right to the end.