Interviewed by Lee Phillips, Chetwynd, 1973
INTERVIEWER: Your age, Mrs. Nicholson?
MRS. NICHOLSON: I was 80 in November.
INTERVIEWER: And where were you born?
MRS. NICHOLSON: In Saskatchewan.
INTERVIEWER: And when did you arrive in this area?
MRS. NICHOLSON: In the spring of 1934, just about this time, I think – March.
INTERVIEWER: Were you married in Saskatchewan too?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: I have a note down here – your husband passed away in 1963. Is that correct?
MRS NICHOLSON: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Where was your first homesite?
MRS. NICHOLSON: In Saskatchewan?
INTERVIEWER: Here, in Chetwynd, or Little Prairie.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, Little Prairie.
INTERVIEWER: Is it where the railroad is about now?
MRS. NICHOLSON: About half a mile south of here, where we were.
INTERVIEWER: You opened the store then, too, eh?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: What year did you open the store, do you know?
MRS. NICHOLSON: 1934. The store was there.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, you bought the store.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, we bought the store.
INTERVIEWER: Did you trade in furs in those days?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, very much. Even in the post office.
INTERVIEWER: You had the post office too?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Can you give us the name of some of your customers?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, just a minute – I’d have to think. There’d be Browns, Essweins, Browns, yes, Johnsons, and Wilkie Smith. They were the close ones, and Fred Mansburg. Mayer, they were bachelors. Fred Flynn, he married someone from Saskatchewan, so he started a family there.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have lots of native people trading with you?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh yes. The Indians were our main fur traders.
INTERVIEWER: Was there lots of fur there those years?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, a lot of fur. My husband dealt with it.
INTERVIEWER: It was quite high-priced in the thirties too, wasn’t it?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Some of them, especially the squirrels.
INTERVIEWER: Can you think of anything new?
MRS. NICHOLSON: No (Laughter).
INTERVIEWER: Somebody said you taught your children by correspondence.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, there were not enough children to have a school, for years.
INTERVIEWER: Give us the names of all your children.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Jane and Robert, and Bobby, Robert, and Joyce. Eunice was born in 1939, that was after we moved here, so she was born in this country.
INTERVIEWER: Have you been back to Saskatchewan very many times?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes, we’ve been back three times, but wouldn’t go back there to live.
INTERVIEWER: You think you like it here better than Saskatchewan?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, we’re never sorry we came here.
INTERVIEWER: Your husband – when you got the store, he hauled his own freight, did he?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes. He had to use horses, first, because it was a little deep across the river, there at East Pine.
INTERVIEWER: And did he use the cable car?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes. There were cable cars, of course, at the Pine, and across the Murray. There were two cables, and you’d have to go half a mile between the two.
INTERVIEWER: How did you transport it between them?
MRS. NICHOLSON: If it was on ice, they just packed it across on sleighs, or else, in summertime, of course, they used horses with a wagon. That was the only way to get across. But those baskets were lovely – those (?) baskets.
INTERVIEWER: Have you ever gone across yourself?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes!
INTERVIEWER: Lots of times eh? (Laughter) So have I. Where did you get your groceries mainly from?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Dawson Creek.
INTERVIEWER: Were there wholesale houses there?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes. We had to go there, usually once a year, and get as much as we could. We’d head across the ice or else we’d get a man to get them. Of course, we depended on berries and so on, here, for our own use, like in the garden, but for the store we had to go out there.
INTERVIEWER: And, in thirty days you had lots of meat?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Well, Goodam Binghorn let us have (?) meat, as much as we wanted. (Laughter)
INTERVIEWER: And you had pigs, I suppose, did you?
MRS. NICHOLSON: No, we had a couple of pigs and I think that’s all we had.
INTERVIEWER: Quite often, on the farms, they have pigs for their own wear.[?]
MRS. NICHOLSON: We had chickens and all the eggs we wanted. No, it was that way.
INTERVIEWER: When did you buy the farm down here?
MRS. NICHOLSON: In 1950.
INTERVIEWER: Who did you buy it from?
MRS. NICHOLSON: From Frank Goodwin, who was an old-timer. He’d been here since 1915, I think, as far as I can remember. And he’s lived here ever since.
INTERVIEWER: What happened to him?
MRS. NICHOLSON: He had frostbite, got his leg frozen, and infection set in, so he quit all jobs.
INTERVIEWER: He was quite old, then.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, he was very old. He was quite an interesting old fellow – he was kind of all lonesome for stories, and tell you about bears (Laughter).
INTERVIEWER: He trapped, did he, mostly?
MRS. NICHOLSON: He trapped, and he had a farm down here – this was cultivated some, down here, so he had grain and horses, and a few cattle, I guess. One time, he was telling us about a bear that nearly got him a grizzly bear – he’s been carrying his gun on the horse and (?) , he didn’t dare shoot the bear at a distance, so he had to wait till the bear got up close and opened its mouth and he shot it (Laughter). You have to take those peoples’ word for those things!
INTERVIEWER: Do you still lose livestock from timber wolves?
MRS. NICHOLSON: This morning we saw a wolf out here pawing on the cabin, and that’s the first time we’ve seen one.
INTERVIEWER: Did the boys get a shot at him?
MRS. NICHOLSON: No – they didn’t have to – they weren’t supposed to, but we’ll have to, when they’re after the cattle or do damage to the cattle, we’ll have to shoot them because they’re cute, you know, they just go around the cabin until the calves get used to them, and then, first thing you know, the poor little calves are gone. Ray must have got some shells now while we were watching.
INTERVIEWER: He probably won’t come back until he gets tired of watching (Laughter)!
MRS. NICHOLSON: Well no, (garbled section on recorder … There’s a little Indian grave back here beyond the bend, and a white man was supposed to have stolen some tobacco from it, and the Indians got up in arms about it, and they had a war dance, up at Sundance Lake, and that’s how it got its name – Sundance Lake.
INTERVIEWER: From this tobacco deal, eh?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, I don’t know what else, he stole something else, too. But he got rid of it before they got hold of him, running it away.
INTERVIEWER: And he stole it off the grave, eh?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, he took it off an Indian grave, so that’s how Sundance got its name.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have good gardens here, Mrs. Nicholson?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, we’ve got too much, actually.
INTERVIEWER: Do you raise all kinds of berries?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Raspberries and strawberries …
INTERVIEWER: And how about tomatoes and those things?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes, I’ve had tomatoes ripen, and corn. Oh yes, our garden is good, except last year when we had the flood.
INTERVIEWER: Your garden is quite low down here, is it?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Well, yes.
INTERVIEWER: How about your graves on top of the fence? Can you tell me something about those?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Well, that’s a little Indian graveyard up there, and I think we’re going to fix it up and make it fancy pretty soon, because it’s something to remember.
INTERVIEWER: And, can you tell me a story about the tobacco and this?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes, of the grave. There was a white man who stole some tobacco and I don’t know, something else, too, off the grave, and the Indians had a war dance over it at Sundance Lake, and that’s how Sundance got to be called Sundance Lake. But they never caught the white man because somebody told him that the Indians were after him and he got away, which he shouldn’t have (Laughter)!
INTERVIEWER: Somebody, you say, that worked for Mr. Goodrich was buried in this grave.
MRS. NICHOLSON: Yes, there’s a trapper that worked with Mr. Martin Goodrich buried up in that grave too.
INTERVIEWER: And you still like the name “Little Prairie,” do you?
MRS. NICHOLSON: Oh, yes I think – I remember why it was called “Little Prairie” was because people with horses used to camp there, and that was about the only place they could find grass around here for so much bush.