MRS. CHARLIE MIXER: PIONEER NURSE
Interviewer: “Will you tell us a few of your experiences, Mrs. Mixer.”
“I came to the country in 1916, I got acquainted with people here and there. I found there was no one in our end of the country to look after people when they became ill. So I just went and did the best I could, whenever someone was needed. And when they built a Red Cross hospital in Pouce I often used to go down for a couple of weeks, or three weeks, and I would relieve the Matron and nurse to take their vacations, and, oh, help all the way around if one could in a neighbourly fashion.”
Interviewer: “How did you travel in those days?”
Interviewer: “And you delivered babies.”
“Well that seemed to be most needed. The people seemed to be more or less healthy in those early days.”
Interviewer: “According to our records, Mrs. Mixer, you come from the north rather than from the south. Most of our old timers come from more settled districts. But according to our records you come from the north.”
“Yes, I came from Dawson City in the Yukon.”
Interviewer: “That’s very interesting.”
Interviewer: “our next guest is James Auton. He is a member of one of our very old and interesting families – the Yaeger family.” “Jim, will you tell us a bit of the early days. As you remember them, about school?”
“We sure had lots of hard roads when we went to school. We rode horseback, five miles and a half each way in the summer. We drove horses in the winter to get our schooling, going to Rolla.”
Interviewer: “How many miles was that?”
“Five and a half miles where we went to school.”
Interviewer: “Thank you Jim. I think from what you have told me I would consider you one of the people who stays put – perhaps better than anyone else. Would you tell us about it.”
“I was born on the same farm I’m living on. Married on the same farm, and still living in the same farm.”
Interviewer: “Thank you Jim. There are not many members of pioneer families have such a record for staying put. We are very glad to have you with us this afternoon.”
MRS. LYDIA THERRIEN
Interviewer: “Our first guest this afternoon is Mrs. Therrien, who was the first white child born on the Pouce Coupe Prairie. Mrs. Therrien, would you tell us how old you were, where you went to school, something about that very first school, please.”
“Well the very first school I went to was down in Pouce, about a mile and a half form where I lived. And there was none of us going to school. I was eleven years old.”
Interviewer: “Now in those old days there were large picnics. Would you tell us about one of theses gatherings please.”
“Well, they were mostly at our place, everybody gathered around, played ball, and had a picnic. We had a large place. It seemed to be home for everybody, in those days anyway.”
Interviewer: “What about the mail.”
“Oh that came in about once a year, in those first days. The first few mails we got was by pack-horses.”
Interviewer: “Who was your first mail carrier, do you remember?”
“No I can’t remember.”
Interviewer: :Did the mail carrier stay overnight with you?”
“Oh yes, all the people stopped there for a while.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much Mrs. Therrien.”
MRS. DOROTHY DAHLEN
Interviewer: Ed Dahlen here, I am going to interview none other but the kind wife, today. Who happens to be, you might have noticed in the last paper, one of the first white children, born on the Pouce Coupe Prairie.
New Timers and visitors. Of course new timers that signifies people coming in the last years. The old timers need no introduction to my wife.
Now Dot. I am just going to have Dot reminiscs somewhat of her old school days. Which was of course in the old log school opposite the present Blaine Peirce farm. O.K. Dot, tell them in you own words here Honey, how everything went in those days.”
“I can remember the first school I attended was the log cabin house across the road from the present Blaine Peirce farm. Mrs. Clarke was my first teacher. Some of the children attending there were, Pipers, Auton’s, the Gale Peirce’s and the Baline Peirce’s, which included the twins, Albin and Bob. Arlene, David, Edna, and the Parson’s, Millen and Jeanette.”
Interviewer: “Excuse me Dot. Mel, he retired to Dawson Creek, did he not?”
Interviewer: “We have quite a few now. There is Naomi, Gale Peirce’s daughter, now she resides in Dawson Creek. And Edna is away down in New Brunswick, right.”
“Yes, I think that’s right.”
Interviewer: “Wish they were here.”
“Mabel Yaeger, it seems like she is almost forgotten around here. She hasn’t been in our district for a long rime, she moved away. But she was one of the first in the north country to go to that school. Lester Miller, Mason Miller, May Lewis, Effie the present Mrs. Harry Charlwood. Loretta Eble Coons, which is Mrs. Roald Dahlen Now. I don’t remember whether she attended there or not. My apologies to those I have forgotten.
I well remember Mabel Yaeger riding a mule, and during classes the mule would bray periodically all day, and would we laugh.
Mrs. Vera Piper had her throat cut very badly on the barb wire fence surrounding the school. I’ll never forget that. Everybody was rushing around trying to do something for her. She was really bleeding bad. Finally a box of salt stopped the bleeding.”
Interviewer: “What else did you do in those days Dot.”
“Horseback riding was our main hobby. And of course our easiest way of transportation. We always looked forward to going to the Peace River — that was one of our main summer events. We would go to pick berries, as well as camping out.”
Interviewer: “Excuse me Dot. When you refer to the Peace River, just where at the Peace River would it be.”
“It was at what we used to call the Ed Mast Landing.”
Interviewer: “Oh I see, the Rolla Landing so to speak.”
“At that time, I don’t know, they called it the Ed Mast Landing, most people did.”
Interviewer: “You’re referring to the Rolla Landing. What was the highlight of a trip like that, now.”
“Well we would get up about four o’clock in the morning. Get grub boxes, lunch and pails and what not ready to go there. We’d get back about ten at night so worn out we could hardly walk. There would generally be two or three outfits go, so we’d all camp together and have our dinner down there. And we would go away down around all theses hills in the afternoon, and pock all these berries. Bring them home in stone crocks, they would be just soup together by the tome we got home, over these rough roads. Most of us travelled in Democrats, of with sort of light horses on the Democrat.”
Interviewer: “Excuse me Dot. Knowing your late Dad, as well as I did, I presume the berry picking expedition down there at the Rolla Landing wouldn’t be complete without his old willow pole, as a fish pole. He would be hooking a few of those pickerel and jackfish out of the Peace River. And can’t you just imagine yourself back in those days, frying those good old fish there, in the frying pan, so to speak.”
“Yes all those days, they don’t seem so far gone, and yet, when I think of it, it seems to hard to think back on the past, and forget how we done all those things. Now people travel in cats and have better facilities. But I will say all those memories are the best days.”
Interviewer: “The means of transportation in those days, Dot> I understand, I think you’ve spoken quite often, of hooking old Pat and Mike, a team of horses, a big fine team of horses, your Dad used to have, on the old democrat and taking off early in the morning, and arriving back home late at night, And that’s the things you will never forget. Fond memories of bygone days. Right Dot.”
“Yes, I’ll never forget old Pat and Mike that we used to put into that Democrat, and how they would go.”
Interviewer: “And down there, once you got to the river, you naturally joined with other kind friends and neighbours and you’d all have a real get-together and a real picnics lunch, right.”
“Oh yes. We generally put our lunches together and made a regular picnic out of it, while at the same time we were trying to get all these berries and that too.”
Interviewer: “Now Dot, have you any more to add to this interview. If not, we are going to thank you kindly for you cooperation here and hope you have a good time at this fair this afternoon.”
MRS. BOONE TAYLOR, TUPPER
Interviewer: “We are very pleased to have as our next guest, Mrs. Boone from Tupper, she is better known to you as Mrs. Longhair Taylor, or Mrs. Boone Taylor. Mrs. Taylor will tell us when she first cane to the country.”
“I came in 1914, brought two children, one, one year and one three years.”
Interviewer: “And what trail did you come over?”
“We come over the Edson Trail, which took us over two weeks to make it,”
Interviewer: “Where did you settle when you first came?”
“South of the Red Willow River, we were there a little more than a year, Then we went on to Progress and stayed there a little more than a year, Finally settled at Tupper. We are still at Tupper.”
Interviewer: “When you first came to the country, what did your husband do for a living?”
“He was a fur buyer for the old Revillon’s. Later in he hauled the mail from Beaverlodge to Rolla. Which took him one day from Tupper to Beaverlodge and on day from Tupper to Rolla and back again. He did this twice weekly.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much, Mrs., Taylor, that’s most interesting.”
MR. BENNY CORNOCK
Interviewer: “now Ladies and Gentlemen we are going to talk to one of the very first settlers in this country – Mr. Benny Cornock, who is now living at Tupper Creek.”
“I came up here me and Charlie York, and a man named George Stritch. We were working on the river gong from Edmonton building the Grand Trunk Road, and we came back and bought four head of bulls, and shipped then to Edson, and we started out from Edson. Got out on Edson Trail a ways in 1912, about the month of November. It got pretty slippery gong through the mud and one thing and another. We camped on the Edson Trail. And we had to go back and get the bulls shod, and that took us a long time.
Well, anyway, we had to get feed, and who should we meet but a man named Ed Epsky, who is still living here. And we continued on through until we came to the Pouce Coupe Prairie here. Then we got travelling north, until we got to where I located at Rolla.
Then in 1913 me and Dave Scobie went down the river on a raft. We got a job on the Hudson Bay boat. Dave was a fireman, I was and ordinary deck-hand. And in 1913 I met Bill Forbes at Peace River Crossing, which was only a trading post at that time. So we took a canoe, and loaded the canoe after the boat was pulled out the river, and we packed the thing all the way up the river with our grub stake and come back.
In 1914, me and Dave goes back out to work on the boats, and we ran into Harry Gibson’s father, who was wanting to get up into this country. So we brought him along, in the canoe, up to the Rolla Landing. And I was delegated to take him overland there to where the Gibson’s were, the Gibson brothers. It’s hard to remember a lot of these things.
Well of course in 1914 the war broke out, I was working in the boats still with Dave Scobie, every spring we would go out, down the River, and back again in the fall. I quit the boat in 1915 and went overseas to the First War, and in 1919 I landed back in Edmonton. And I came right back up here, and have been here ever since.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much Mr. Cornock. I think that in one of the most interesting arrival stories I have ever heard. I understand there were people other than that, that you met — Mr. Jamieson?”
“Oh yes, Mr. Jamieson. I also met Mr. Jamieson and Mr. Duke or Doke. He had the post office in Saskatoon Creek there, of course there was no town of Rolla or Dawson at that time.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much.”
MR. TOM JAMIESON
Interviewer: “now Ladies and gentlemen, the next person who will be interviewed is one of the gentlemen we met in the last interview — Mr. Jamieson. He will tell you about his journey into the country and the first year he spent here.”
“Thank you Mrs. Tibbetts. I will endeavour to tell you a few things about the real early days in the Peace River Country of British Columbia. In 1909 I arrived in Fort St. John on the 23rd day of December 1908. I was in the Police at that time. And was stationed at Fort St. John for three years. In 1912 I moved up to Hudson’s Hope and homesteaded there. And proved up on the homestead and went overseas in 1915.
When I came back from the war in 1919 I located in Pouce Coupe and farmed there for thirty-two years, and have lived there ever since. Thirty-eight altogether.”
Interviewer: “Thank you Mr. Jamieson. I wonder would you tell us how other people got their supplies in, when you first came to the country. Perhaps who had the first store, and just something about the freighting as it was done then.”
“Yes, Mrs. Tibbetts. In the real early days there were no stores, except the Hudson Bay Company and Revillon Freres, and French trading outfit. They had stores at Dunvegan Peace River, Fort St. John and Hudson Hope. The freight in those days was brought in mostly by teams to Peace River Crossing, and then they were freighted up and down the river by Hudson Bay steamers. They went down the river to Fort Vermilion and right up to Hudson’s Hope. They generally made three trips in the summer. The rest of the year – I might mention that the nearest post office in those days to Fort St. John was Dunvegan. And if we wanted our mail, we had to go by dog-team in the winter, which was a hundred and twenty miles.
Later on, of course, when Pouce Coupe started to develop, and the homesteaders come in, Mr. Haskins, Mr. Frank Haskins, established a store in what in now the village of Pouce Coupe. During this time, of course, the railroad extended to Spirit River. The farmers hauling their grain out, brought in supplies for the store.
I might mention here, that Mr. Hector Tremblay, the original settler in Pouce Coupe in 1906, he was the first storekeeper. Had a small store there, and traded with the Indians.
I have just got through reading the book, the Centennial Book. I just got it last night and got through it. I was very glad to see there was a couple of pages devoted to Mr. Tremblay, a great pioneer. And one who did a great deal for the early settlers in Pouce Coupe.”
Interviewer: “That’s just wonderful Mr. Jamieson, we have enjoyed talking to you ever so much. It is so interesting to hear about the trips up and down the Peace River.”
Interviewer: “Now ladies and gentlemen we have with us Mrs. Wetherill, who is the daughter of a gentleman, who homesteaded, right here, at the Dawson Creek townsite, in 1916 – Mr. Wartenbe. Now Mrs. Wetherill settled further west, at a place called Lone Prairie?”
“We had used our homestead rights in Saskatchewan, so we had spent two years looking for a place outside the Block, where we could settle, and we choose Lone Prairie.”
Interviewer: “You must have been for away from settlement at that time. What did you do for medical care.”
“We were far away from settlement. When we left here at Chases’ and Falks, except for Bill Rosenau at Progress, and the stopping place at East Pine. We didn’t have any medical care, only what we could give ourselves. We were very fortunate. The first winter we never even knew they had the flu until it was all over. We never were sick at all.”
Interviewer: “Isn’t that wonderful. Supposing there had been need of a doctor. How far would you have had to go to the closest one?”
“Well, when we first went out there, I don’t think there was a doctor this side of Grande Prairie. Until the doctor came in here to Pouce.”
Interviewer: “How about education then. If you didn’t have any doctors, I suppose you didn’t have any schools.”
“No we didn’t have any schools. But our children were only small when we went in there. Johnny our oldest boy was three, and Alfie was one. But when they needed school they had correspondence until the end of grade four.”
Interviewer: “Thank you Mrs. Wetherill. Now about crops. You had stock, and did you have grain to feed them.”
“No, we just fed them wild hay at first. Later we ploughed up some land and sowed it to grain, for grain feed, but we had no way of threshing it.”
Interviewer: “What year did you settle there.”
“We filed in 1917, and we moved out there in ‘18.”
Interviewer: “And when did the first school come in the district?”
“It was 1932 when they built our first school.”
Interviewer: “Well thank you very much Mrs. Wetherill. That was wonderful.”
MRS. WES YAEGER
Interviewer: “Now ladies and gentlemen, we have another very interesting visitor. Mrs. Wes Yaeger, who is a daughter of Herbie Taylor. Now I remember Herbie Taylor as the person who piloted us, as we crossed the Peace River in the ice, in the spring or in the fall when it was forming. And the person who conducted the ferry back and forth in the summer months. Now Mrs. Yaeger will tell us of how she remembers the Peace River when she was very young.”
“When we freighted up the river, my dad was running the Hudson Bay store up at Hudson Hope, and the only way they could take the freight up there, is by boat. The freight boat would probably be about three hundred feet long and about thirty feet wide, and we had quite a time to go through with it in places, swift streams, and what not. And it was drawn by men, with quite a bit of load on it, and taken up there every fall. And come down in the scows in the spring, after all the furs had been taken in around the middle of June, until we come down in a great big scow you couldn’t hardly land them, unless you were behind the big island where the water wasn’t so swift. That’s the way we used to come down, and that’s one thing I did remember that, because I pretty near fell through a hole and drowned one time, I was caught by the head and the hair and pulled out. That’s how I remember that so well.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much Mrs. Yaeger. I’m sure there isn’t anyone who could tell us a story such as that.”
MR. WES YAEGER
Interviewer: “Now ladies and gentlemen we are at a fair in Dawson Creek, and we have with us a person who has always been very, very interested in the stampede part of all the performances. In fact, we might call him a stampede Prince at least, if not King. His older brother was the one who managed the first stampede that was ever held in this country. Now I am gong to ask Wes Yaeger to tell us about those first stampedes.”
“Our first stampede was held around 1917. My brother started it in Rolla. We used to have roping and riding and racing, little things like that, and roping big animals, instead of calves in those days. Until they busted some of the horns and they stopped it, made us use calves, as it was cruelty to the animals they believed. From then on we started to use calves.
And then a bunch of us started the Dawson Creek Fair. In fact I have followed stampedes all my life, ever since I was sixteen.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much. How many people would take part in those very first stampedes.”
“Oh that’s pretty hard for me to judge. I guess there wouldn’t be over four hundred or something like that. A small crowd. We had lots of animals, hundreds of them on the range. We used to go out and fetch in as many as we wanted, and let the rest go.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much. Now there is another subject I would like to talk to you about. You people had one of the very first threshing machines in the northern part of the prairie. And I believe it was different from the modern threshing machines. I would like for you to tell as much as you can remember of that machine and how it operated.”
“Well, we were pretty well known, all over the Prairie here. We had one of the first threshing machines, it was an old horse-power. The horses, I used to drive them, every fall for three or four months. They went around in a circle, six teams, circle around, that’s how I got the power, stepping over a rod that led to the separator. The separator was fed by hand, two hand cutters — it took about fourteen men to run the outfit, and twelve horses on the power, and the same on stock wagon. It was a twenty-eight machine, and we used to use six teams in the wagon, beside six teams on the power. We done that for about seven years. We used to thresh even up here on Bear Mountain, all over Kilkerran, everywhere. Well known, was that old horse-power.
Interviewer: “Thank you so much Wes. Now who were some of the people who worked on that beside you.”
“Well the main workers were my brothers Dick and John, and Les Grayson, he was with us all the time. For about seven or eight years straight we thrashed all over with the old machine. Finally it fall apart one day and I walked away. So John he was going to carry on, and he went about two weeks, and he broke it all to pieces. So the next thing I knew, he came up and asked me if I would come back and help him to get a steam engine, a portable one, down at Tremblay’s. So I went down and hauled the steam engine up, and then I went back threshing again. I was the water boy then.”
Interviewer: “Now what year would that be.”
“That would be around 1922 or ’23. The next was our freighting. We used to freight north, all over this north. We were up the Nelson River in 1925 and 1926, when we never saw a house for three weeks to a month. We used to have to shovel snow to tie up our horse. Oh I had lots of experiences in the north.”
Interviewer: “Fine, I just wish we had time that you could tell us all about these experiences. Thank you very much for coming and telling us these.”
Interviewer: “Here is another member of our pioneer families, Lillian Landry. Her mother and father were some of the very early pioneer residents close to here. How did you cone to this country Lillian?”
“We came over the Edson Trail for High Prairie.”
Interviewer: “Tell us about one or two of the things that happened when you came.”
“Well the shortage of water was a very important thing in those days. My dad used to carry it in two big pails from about half a mile away, from the Pouce Coupe River. Mother had a terrible time to get used to this after having water, which was very plentiful, and she was for ever using much too much.”
Interviewer: “I’m sure she would. That wouldn’t make her very popular would it. Now you came to a district that was very, very new, and it is now named for your family, I believe. The Landry District. Would you tell us a bit about the first school in that district.”
“Well there weren’t enough children in the district, at that time, for a school. So in order to have a school built, there had to be children from other districts board with our neighbours. My Uncle and Aunt, Mr. & Mrs. Simpson and ourselves. Among these children that boarded from other districts, were the Dukes and the MacAllisters. Mr. Simpson who settled there, happened to be a teacher, they boarded two children, in order to have enough in the district to open a school, which he taught.”
Interviewer: “Thank you, that’s wonderful. How did your family support themselves when they firs came to the country Lillian?”
“Well ranching was my dad’s main object, and that was one of the reasons we settled near the Pouce Coupe River, was to have ample water for the stock. We had several horses beside stock. Ranching was his dream. He had range along the banks of the Pouce River, there were no fences in those days, so you had all kinds of pasture. It was all quite open land down there then. So you had no trouble at all for summer pasture. Of course winter was quite a different story. You has t get out and put up a lot of wild hay to do the cattle over winter. And water again was quite a problem, so we used to winter our cattle down by the river, haul the feed to them, that was the easiest, then driving them back and forth to water daily. They seemed to thrive quite well. Even in the cold.”
Interviewer: “Thank you very much Lillian. It has been wonderful having you with us this afternoon, and I hope we can talk to your mother on the tape.”
Interviewer: “And how are you today Tim.”
“Fine. I have been asked to give a few words about when I first come into the Dawson country. That was in 1910, I came in with W. J. MacFarlane and other surveyors, to survey. This was the first township, in the twelve townships that belonged to British Columbia to be surveyed. British Columbia owned them twelve townships at that time, not the Dominion Land. It belonged to British Columbia. I filed on a homestead, and filed under British Columbia Laws. I bought the last quarter section that was surveyed. It’s the quarter that Harry Gibson is living on now, up on Lake Saskatoon Creek. I did the finishing job on that, then walked to Grande Prairie from here to go out. And the whole country has lived up to its reputation.
Mr. Bezanson traveled through this country years before and he wrote a book on it. And he wrote a book saying that the Pouce coupe Country was more adapted to the growing grain than Grande Prairie, or any other part of the Peace River Block. But that’s being a little off, it’s all good now.”
Interviewer: “Well that’s very nice Tim. And certainly very interesting interview with Tim here. Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview. Can you tell us where you are located in the Rolla district Tim.”
“Yes, I homesteaded in the Rolla District in 1912, that was two years later, I think. That land was open for homestead before this land was open here. It had to be surveyed before it was open. And the Grande Prairie country — the Land Office was in Grande Prairie. At the time I homesteaded in Rolla I was surveying land at Sturgeon Lake, and at that time there was three tri-lines for a railroad coming into Pouce Coupe, but that all faded away.”
Interviewer: “Is that right Tim. It’s all very interesting. Well Tim we will not take up any more of your time, and we wish you the very best, and glad to have you with us today.”
Interviewer: “We have with us at the time a well known and successful old-timer of these parts – Mr. Jesse Starnes.
“Jesse, I understand you came in with your dad when you were seventeen from California.”
“Yes, that’s right. We left California, – Ontario, California, sometime in May 1913. Arrived in Edmonton, bought oxen, a wagon, and about half a ton of supplies and shipped it to Edson. There we loaded up and headed up the old Edson Trail, to the first place we had picked out on the map – Moberly Lake.
After about six weeks to two months of travelling through muskeg, up and down hills, and across rivers, so on and so forth, we arrived on Pouce Coupe Prairie. It would be late in July.
After a couple of months of uneventful travel over the old Edson Trail — building corduroy and pulling people out of mud holes, and getting pulled out in turn, mosquitoes and a few other things — the prairie looked like a wonderful place, we had no idea there was such open wonderful land in this remote country.
So after a lot of consideration and scouting around we decided to give up going to Moberly Lake that year. Picked out a piece of land, well up on a knoll, and homesteaded. Put up a little bit of hay here, with the assistance of Mr. Timothy
O’Callaghan, for our oxen, to carry us through that winter.
Well, the funny part about it. After starting for Moberly Lake, I never did arrive at Moberly Lake until forty-two years later, and we drove in with a modern vehicle.
But getting back to the homestead. Like many of the other homesteader that used to come in and stay the winter and go out and work in the summer. They would go out in the wintertime and come back and do their things in the summer time.
We never come to farm in the first place, only interested in fur and pioneer life. So I immediately started to trap. We never went out from the time we come in at all. We did get some land under cultivation. With new settlers coming in, they would always need a sack of potatoes or something else like that. So the fur business in them days was pretty good. There was an abundance of fur and game all over this country, and the prices weren’t too bad. We managed very well. And we discontinued the homestead. My father run the farm and I run the trapline. And that went on practically up to 1942. And I had to give up trapping due to a war disability.”
Interviewer: “Was it your father who filed on the homestead south of Rolla in 1914, on what is known to us as the Starnes hill, a well known landmark on the Pouce Coupe Prairie?”
“No. My father did not file on land due to the fact that he had previously used his land right in Alberta. At that time the Peace River Block was under the old Dominion Land Law, which was a three-year proposition. Although I was only seventeen at the time, through numerous letters and wires forward and back to Ottawa, we finally got special permission to hold the land for a year until I was old enough to file on it, which we did.”
Interviewer: “Did you have any exceptional winters in your trapping experience Jesse?”
“Well, they were all exceptional in a way, because each one was different from year to year. Different types of furs, different types of weather and so on. I suppose just the average routine trapping, with the exception of the fall of 1919 and ‘20, actually it was one of the easiest winters as far as trapping was concerned, due to the fact we had around six feet of snow. Snow started early in October kept on snowing ‘till the following May. The reason it made good snow shoeing was that all the windfall and small brush was covered over, and with good snowshoes you could travel anywhere. All the animals had more or less difficulty in getting around. It was an exceptional winter due to the fact there was an abundance of a very fine quality of marten. I didn’t get so very many, because I didn’t trap the whole season. But my neighbour, Scott Plaster, who was trapping below me, made an exceptional catch of marten that year, and due to high prices, we were really in clover.”
Interviewer: “Well that is certainly interesting Jesse. Is there anything else you would like to mention.”
“Well, you could go on and on and on and mention interesting things, I guess, wit out any limit to it, but I guess that is all, due to the fact that I was mostly interested in trapping and continued to keep on trapping — would be at it today, except I kinda got mixed up in the war.”
Interviewer: “Well it certainly is nice to have you with us. That’s a very good story of your experiences, I would say. And thank you very much Jesse.”
Interviewer: “Now I am going to introduce to you a member of a pioneer family of the Central District — Lionel Marion. Lionel your family came a long way to settle here, did they not?”
“Yes, they came from the east, my uncle and father came here from the east in 1914. They left Prince George and went down the Crooked River and Summit Lake, Parsnip and down the Peace, then to Rolla Landing. In August, my uncle went to Grande Prairie to file. He went out in the winter of ‘14 – ‘15. He came back in ‘15. Then in the spring of ’17 he went back east again to get us five children who had stayed in Quebec. We came by train, took about four or five days to reach Spirit River. At Spirit River we met Mr. Charlie Hudson, and we came by sleigh over the old Spirit River Trail, took about two and a half days ‘ till we got to Tremblay’s. Then came to my uncle’s place, in the spring.”
Interviewer: “Very good. You were another of those people who stopped at Tremblay’s. Now coming from Quebec the language must have been a bit difficult to you. Would you tell us about your education after you came to British Columbia.”
“Well when I first came to the Peace River Block I could speak no English. Our first teacher was Mr. Arthur Simpson. The first school wasn’t more than a shack. We began there in 1918, and we had a hard time, that is for the first three or four years with English composition. Finally we had a teacher by the name of Mrs. Winnifred Henderson, she stressed English and we finally learned how to write paragraphs, and that way we managed to get ahead faster after that.”
Interviewer: “Now you went to school in Rolla, didn’t you. Could you tell us about that.”
“My sister and I went there in 1924, took our grade ten under Charles Hull. And then in 1925 we took our grade eleven under Miss Patricia Robinson. The first graduation took place in 1926, Mr. Howard Atkinson made a short speech and congratulated us as teachers were needed in the Block, and he would like to see us go to Normal the following year. In 1926-27 we went to Normal School in Victoria. We came back in the Block and taught in the log schools here for many years, before and during the hard times.”
Interviewer: “Good Lionel. How many members were there in that first graduation class.”
“Four of us. Lillian Gething, Edna McKenzie, Odilla Marion and myself. The first High School was in Rolla, also.”
Interviewer: “Fine. You taught for a number of years, did you?”
“Yes, I taught eighteen years.”
Interviewer: “Good. Thank you very much Lionel. It has been a wonderful interview.
Interviewer: Will you tell us something of your trip over the Edson Trail?
“We were sort of used to the Edson Trail because we had a stopping place out about 40 miles from Edson. It wasn’t a bad trail because everybody at that particular time was used to driving with horses and they had good stopping places. Of course it was a long trail. First we came to Grande Prairie, two hundred miles and another hundred miles to Rolla where we came in the Spring from Grande Prairie. Each took a homestead and have been there pretty well all the years since.”
Interviewer: Will you tell us about the first crops you raised in the Peace River Country.
“When we first landed at our homestead we did some breaking. We had a small walking plough. We seeded oats. We had a fair crop of oats and pretty fair garden, just growing on sod. That was in 1912. The first year we landed on the homestead we lived in tents. Then we started to haul logs to build a log cabin. One good thing at that time — prairie chickens were plentiful. Each morning we’d have to go out and kill chickens to live for the day. Washing and that sort of thing was a little inconvenient, but it could be accomplished down to the creek, but everybody seemed to be quite happy because they were all in the same boat. For the baking my father built a Dutch oven that served until we got settled.”
MRS. WM. REASBECK, FIRST POSTMISTRESS
Interviewer: Our guest this afternoon is Mrs. Reasbeck, one of our pioneer citizens. Mrs. Reasbeck will tell us about her first days in our district.
“I came in by train from Edmonton to Spirit River, and from there travelled on a load of freight to the Old Town of Dawson Creek. From there I was married in 1918 in July.”
Interviewer: Your husband was one of the businessmen of Dawson Creek. Tell us some of the things you did.
“When we first came to town we took over the first Post Office and butcher shop. For a few years we ran that and then we bought the Bullen Hotel. We built a three-storey addition beside this old building and carried on a business for several years until the land was sold for the new townsite of Dawson Creek. We moved the three storey building over from the Old Town on rollers and built a new piece to it and called it “The Dawson Creek”, which is now “The Dawson Hotel”. We were privileged to buy the first lot in Dawson Creek, for the hotel, and had to move the bundles from the field before we could dig a basement. The old part was brought in and set beside this.”
MRS. BLAINE PIERCE
Interviewer: Would you tell us a bit about your first trip into this country over the Edson Trail?
“We loaded our car November 27, 1912 and left ______ Minnesota and about two weeks later, Blaine and I and Arlene left by train for Edson. We stayed there in Edson from then until the 26th of December. Then we left by sleigh for this country.”
Interviewer: How long did it take to come over the Edson trail?
“We landed here the 18th of February.”
Interviewer: How many were there in your party?
“There were Blaine and I and the baby and also Dale and (?). Mr. Pierce (Bill) came up the summer before, 1912, and filed on a quarter and a proxy for me in 1912. Then he came back to Minnesota and we all came up together.”
Interviewer: I understand you made two trips into the country, Mrs. Pierce.
“It was in January that we went back to the Stated. Mr. (?) took us out as far as High Prairie — I didn’t feel good them. That was in January 1915. On March 2 the twins were born. Sometime in the latter part of April we started back here by train to Reno (near Peace River Town) that was the end of steel then from Edmonton. From there we left by team for Peace River Crossing. There we camped for about ten days and finally got a boat to bring us up to Rolla Landing. When we got there Blaine ran all the way home – about 15 miles – and got a team of horses to come back and pick us up.