The mail came to this place on Tuesdays and Fridays with whoever would bring it from Rolla, and mail nights we always had lots of good company. The mail was kept in a large box and those who came for it sorted out their own mail. There were only about six women north of Rolla, and I didn’t meet them all for a few weeks. Mrs. James Dunn was the first woman that I met, and a wonderful neighbour she was. One lady was Mrs. Green, a Negro, whom we all liked so very much. She at one time cooked in the old Pouce Hospital and helped people in any way she could. Even as a midwife. Rolla at this time was a very busy little town, and one could obtain nearly anything that they needed, as there were three stores, two hotels and two livery barns, and quite a few dwelling houses. Ed Mast had a stopping place at Rolla Landing on the Peace River, where the D.A. Thomas boat, which travelled the river then, would stop to take on wood and leave freight. It was a thrill to see the boat arrive at night with lights going, which happened one time while we were there on a berry picking trip.
The trip down the steep narrow winding hill was another thrill. Very steep places needed a rough-lock on the wagon and the horses seemed to know just what to do, and held back on the harness. We picked raspberries, and I canned them there. They made wonderful jams and fruit.
In 1927 my husband filed on a homestead one-half mile west of the old Doe River store, which was not there then. The Doe River recreation grounds are now located on what was then our homestead. My husband worked in Olinger’s Sawmill for lumber to build a house for us. And we moved there in 1928. My husband made a plane to plane logs for building a barn. It was modelled after an ordinary wood planer, only made with heavy planks, using a broad axe for a blade. Pulled along the logs by a team of horses, and guided by handles like a walking plow. He planed logs for the barn while I drove the horses. My husband also broke land with horses and walking plow.
Our homestead experiences were many and varied, which made life interesting for us. I used to ride to Rolla, nine miles on horseback, before there was a store at Doe River. I could carry a pack of groceries behind the saddle. In winter I drove horse and toboggan. The children trained a young steer to harness, and to pull the toboggan, and he was very useful. When the Doe River store first opened I drove him there for flour and groceries and he trotted along with the toboggan. My son made a rack and used the steer to haul straw to the barn. We milked cows and I made butter and cheese. I made cheese which won first prize at an early Rolla fair. I also baked bread for bachelors and sold butter to them. I made shirts for some of them besides making shirts for my husband and son. I also made shoes or slippers for our youngest girl, born in 1930, from the leather lining of an overcoat. They were quite durable, too. Of course we women made clothing and dresses from flour bags which we could get then for ten cents each. When bleached, made up and dyed, they were quite nice. Sometimes we trimmed flour sack dresses with gingham or print for contrast. We also made our own soap from fat rendered from pork. We cooked for threshers for bachelor neighbours which brought in a few welcome dollars. In the thirties we never bought fruit, but depended on berries we found quite plentiful in those days, such as raspberries, saskatoon, cranberries and wild strawberries, and we were very careful how we used sugar, too.
One winter I taught my children correspondence. For instance when school was closed for lack of pupils. There was a one-room school when we first came to the neighbourhood at what is now Doe River. In the early days the late Mrs. John Albright, mother of Russell Albright, had started Sunday School in this school, and the United Church minister from Rolla came every two weeks and held services. I helped with the Sunday School, and we had good attendance and enjoyed our Sunday School. Mrs. Albright, being musical, played the organ. The Christmas concerts held in this old school were an event that was always looked forward to. Also there were dances and amateur programs held there in which many people took part. We also put on plays for entertainment and our practices were always full of fun.
About the time we bought Ed Mast’s farm my husband traded homesteads with Jack Hingley. My son now owns that place and farms it. In 1934 we bought the farm formerly owned by Ed Mast and moved there from the homestead. We lived there eighteen years. In the thirties many people hauling produce from Cherry Point and Clayhurst districts with horses would stop with us, as there was always room in the big barn for their teams, and a cup of tea and a meal for their drivers. This old barn was eventually torn down, as it was about to tumble, having been built in 1918. Many people say they miss it as an old landmark. Soon trucks replaced the hauling with horses and people didn’t stop with us.
During the time we lived on this farm I was called upon to deliver a baby in our home. Needless to say, I was very frightened, but everything was O.K. This all happened one Christmas day some years ago. That baby was Marleen Auton, who is now Mrs. Morris Pearson.
We sold the farm in 1952 and my husband operated a small sawmill twelve and a half miles west of Doe River for about two years. I cooked for the men there. The lumber was partly sawed from fire-killed spruce which made dry lumber. Interspersed with other things I have had several terms teaching in rural schools which I have enjoyed very much. Having taught Carpio School the last year it was in session. Also taught Shearerdale, North Rolla, Willow Valley and Groundbirch. In 1954 we bought a house in Dawson Creek where I still live, my husband having passed away in 1967.
I have had several trips to the States and to where we used to live, but know that this country is home to me now, and I will always stay here.