MRS. COUTTS: Mrs. Tremblay, you have lived here a long time. When did you come?
MRS. TREMBLAY: It was in the fall of 1917.
MRS. COUTTS: What was it like for you to do housework away back then?
MRS. TREMBLAY: When we first came in, it was only a dirt floor, and it was that way until almost Christmas. The people wanted to have a dance. We had the biggest place but we had to have a floor of some kind. We went to the mill and got weeny-edge and made a floor, and used the adze to straighten out the knots, and that’s what we danced on. [the first cut after the first slab was taken off a log produced a narrow uneven board with bark on either side. Very rough cheap “lumber”. This was locally called weeny-edge.]
MRS. COUTTS: It must have been hard on your shoes.
MRS. TREMBLAY: Those that had high heels had to be careful for there were many holes in the floor. I think they put some cornstarch on it, or something to make it a little smoother. They danced all night until daylight — and were dancing when the sun came up.
MRS. COUTTS: Which area was your house in?
MRS. TREMBLAY: In Baytree.
MRS. COUTTS: How did you cook? You couldn’t go to a butcher shop so what did you cook?
MRS. TREMBLAY: When we didn’t have wild meat we’d kill a steer. We used pork more than anything else.
MRS. COUTTS: Did you have any way to keep it?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Mother always salted it, and had it for beans, etc. You had to soak it over night to make it eatable.
MRS. COUTTS: You had a lot of game though.
MRS. TREMBLAY: Oh, yes.
MRS. COUTTS: What kind of meat did you find most pleasant in those days?
MRS. TREMBLAY: We tried everything. It was all fairly meaty and nice. I’d been raised in the city, so when we came out here any kind of meat was really nice.
MRS. COUTTS: You’d have garden stuff too.
MRS. TREMBLAY: Oh, yes. Mother always had a big garden. We had potatoes, and turnips and a lot of onions, and cabbage. We always had a lot of big heads of cabbage. Nearly everybody would come over and she’d give them a little bit of everything.
MRS. COUTTS: Did you use any vegetables out of the bush? Wild vegetables?
MRS. TREMBLAY: No, just berries mostly.
MRS. COUTTS: Did you ever have any real illnesses in the family which your mother couldn’t cope with?
MRS. TREMBLAY: No, we were pretty well. We didn’t have any such thing as colds in those days.
MRS. COUTTS: What about times when there was to be a new baby? How did you manage then?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Oh, Mrs. Noskiye (No-sky-ee) came down for our first baby.
MRS. COUTTS: Did many Indians come in at first?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Yes, there was quite a settlement out west of Dawson. They lived on the Smolik place — very close to there, about four miles above the creek from present day Dawson and maybe a mile north.
MRS. COUTTS: What Indians were these? Beaver or Cree?
MRS. TREMBLAY: The Callihasons and Napoleons.
MRS. COUTTS: Where did they move to?
MRS. TREMBLAY: They scattered all over the country. The Napoleons are mostly at Moberly, now.
MRS. COUTTS: What about the first sports day? You were talking about going to the dances, Mrs. Tremblay. Where would you go to the dances?
MRS. TREMBLAY: We’d go from one house to another, one month in one house and once in another.
MRS. COUTTS: Were they house-party dances? Were you responsible for a bit of the entertainment after supper?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Oh, yes.
MRS. COUTTS: What was your specialty?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Mostly singing
MRS. COUTTS: Your family helped the first sports day in the country. What races, etc. did they have?
MRS. TREMBLAY: The usual. Foot races and horse races and the like of that. The first crop that dad grew was about two acres he ploughed out on the prairie and growing the crop kind of smoothed it off. That’s what we used for a racetrack the first year for foot races. We had horse races too. There was no bulldozer or anything like that, you know.
MRS. COUTTS: What kinds of horses were coming into the country in those days?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Oh, just saddle horses.
MRS. COUTTS: What kind of prizes did you offer?
MRS. TREMBLAY: We didn’t have any prizes — just ran for the fun of things. We had swimming races down at the river, and walked up onto Hector’s place for the foot races. That would be in 1911 or 1912. Not very many people came — about forty or fifty altogether.
MRS. COUTTS: What do you remember about the sports day, Mrs. Tremblay?
MRS. TREMBLAY: I was here a whole year before I took part in the sports, and that was in Pouce. It was behind where the old pool hall used to be. It used to be clear back in there. That’s where I saw the first sports.
MRS. COUTTS: What was the best part to you?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Bucking horses. They had bucking horses at that time. I wasn’t so very old, about twelve I guess.
MRS. COUTTS: What did you enjoy most, Bob?
MR. TREMBLAY: Oh, I don’t know –
MRS. TREMBLAY: We had a lot of square dancing you know.
MR. TREMBLAY: You were talking about game a little while ago. When we first came in there were very, very few moose or deer. Practically none, around here. There were some around the Peace River and the Pine. They started working back in here about 1913. The wolves had cleaned them out. There were an awful lot of wolves in here in 1906-07.
MRS. COUTTS: Wasn’t it hard to keep stock with so many predatory animals?
MR. TREMBLAY: They cleaned them out pretty well. Dad struck out with the horses one winter up the Hasler place. They camped right out there, and killed fifty wolves — shot them when they came after the horses.
MRS. COUTTS: You got pretty good fur prices then.
MR. TREMBLAY: Yes, beaver were $3 and so were the lynx.
MRS. COUTTS: Was there a good price on wolf?
MR. TREMBLAY: I don’t think they took wolf hides then but later on he got rid of them. He had a whole stack of them when we come in. Beaver and lynx were the main ones. There were a lot of [musk]rats and a few fox. They came in about 1913-14.
INTERVIEWER: Was your mother the first white woman to come in?
MR. TREMBLAY: She came in at the same time as Mrs. Walton. Those two were the first white women.
INTERVIEWER: When did they first have cows here?
MR. TREMBLAY: They brought a cow in with them, in 1908. That was the first cow. They didn’t have any chickens that year. I think dad brought some in 1909 from Grande Prairie.
MRS. COUTTS: It must have been awkward cooking without eggs.
MR. TREMBLAY: Of course they had egg powder.
INTERVIEWER: When your mother came over the Edson Trail how many wagons would you have?
MR. TREMBLAY: We didn’t come over the Edson Trail. We came by Edmonton to Athabasca Landing, and then took the boat to Grouard. There were two or three portages on the way, they were very tough. We (children) stayed at Grouard and they came on with two wagons.
INTERVIEWER: With packhorses?
MR. TREMBLAY: Not from there. They came with wagons all the way to Spirit River by Peace River Crossing and Dunvegan. The ferries were in then. They left the wagons and came in with packhorses from Spirit River.
MRS. COUTTS: How did you come Mrs. Tremblay?
MRS. TREMBLAY: We came on the train to Spirit River. They piled a democrat away up high with boxes because they had stuff to take in — grub and stuff. Emil and I were sitting up on top, Jack was driving. One time it was getting quite late, and I was getting sleepy when we hit a bump and down I went. Under the horses! The horses never moved. I got up and went back up.
INTERVIEWER: Is that when the stove rolled off?
MRS. TREMBLAY: No that was another time. I got right back up again and came on. We had a couple of fellows riding with us. They’d get off and walk a while. We got home about three o’clock in the morning — to the home place.
MRS. COUTTS: When did the stove roll on you?
MRS. TREMBLAY: That was later when they went to Spirit River and got a load of stuff that we had. We used to live on the Smoky. When they came to Cache One hill, the fellow that was driving upset the wagon. The stove went rolling down Cache One hill. They had quite a time getting it out of there.
MRS. COUTTS: No crane!
MRS. TREMBLAY: No, no crane! The hill was quite steep and it had snowed. The wagon just slid.
INTERVIEWER: Who was the priest here?
MRS. TREMBLAY: Father Josse from Spirit River. He didn’t stay here. He just came once a year — mostly for duck season.
INTERVIEWER: When was the first priest here?
MR. TREMBLAY: I think in 1914.