Harry Killough

Harry Killough – interviewed August 20, 1993

My name is Nicole; I am the researcher for the Castlegar and District Heritage Society. It is the hope of the Society that by recording interviews with the pioneers and those familiar with the history of our area, the society will create a permanent historical record for all to enjoy.

Would you consent to be interviewed by me on this basis?

HK: Yes, I would.

NB: Your name is Harry Killough, Junior.

HK: Because by father was always known as Harry Killough.

NB: The date of the interview is August 20, 1993. Mr. Killough can we start off by asking your parents names and where they were born?

HK: Sure. It is a good idea to start from the beginning, I suppose. My fathers’ family came from a place near Regina, a place called Panse, Saskatchewan. There were 12 in the family. Father was born there. Six boys and six girls; one was lost in the First World War and one died as a baby, one boy. Basically six girls and four boys arrived in Castlegar and the older girls may have stayed in Panse down there. They got jobs by then. I am not sure how many came up, but anyway there was a fair number that did arrive here in 1913, in Castlegar. It wasn’t much of a town in those days. That was the Killough family.

The McCleod family, on mother’s side, came from Peace River, Alberta, and arrived in Thrums in 1925. They were only there in Alberta for seven years. They had come from Quebec, a small place called St. Cecile, Quebec. It was in the Eastern Township, I believe. I don’t know much about Quebec. They came out, because the only son on Grandmother’s side had asthma. He was not a very well child, and the Dr. said you should go out West to the mountains. So they went to Peace River and they were near Beaver Lodge, Alberta and they farmed seven years there. They weren’t really farmers and the Gandfather McCleod was a railroad man. Grandmother did most of the farming, and they only had one good crop out of seven years and that got hit by snow. They decided that that was enough of that. They heard about Thrums, so they came down in 1925. A few years later about ’33, I suppose it was, or ’32, my mother and dad met during some family party. When my father saw her, that was it. When he saw her, he never looked at another lady after. They got married in May 1933. I was born in 1934 in Thrums. My mother and dad lived in Thrums for one year after they were married. Then father got a homestead just above his father’s place where he grew up above Castlegar. He got a homestead up there on Merry Creek. When the Killoughs arrived in Castlegar, they took up a very large piece of land. It was 800 acres, more or less, in the area of the Plaza, the present Castleaird Plaza. They had a big fruit farm there in partnership with George Annabelle from Trail. George Annabelle was a pioneer who had a saw mill up in Violin Lake. They were in partnership. It takes quite a few years for fruit trees to begin producing so Grandfather didn’t get much money coming in and George Annabelle had some poor years at the lumber business, so they lost the place. There was a big mortgage on it and the mortgager foreclosed so they moved onto the flat up above where the Harry Killough family still lives. Although I am the only remaining one, the rest have all moved away, onto the upper flat. When mother and dad took the homestead even higher up on Merry Creek, we were there until 1942. By then Grandfather had passed away and Grandmother Killough had moved downtown to a little house. We came down to the flat below and occupied Grandfather Killough’s lumber house and left the log cabin. We had been in the cabin from ’35 to ’42; seven years. I could talk about living in the cabin a little bit, if you like?

NB: Yes.

HK: It was like most log cabins, it was a two room. A log house really, not very big. I was born in Thrums, but the next three were born in that cabin or another small one near by. We used to call it the little house, and the big house. There were two log cabins on the creek there. My grandparents had built them quite a bit toward building the big house. Grandmother McCleod had serious problems with asthma and she found she couldn’t handle the pollen in the area. So she moved to Rossland for a few years, and then settled back by the Kinnaird Hall. They built a house by the Kinnaird Hall. They stayed there until they passed away. Mother and Dad and us four children lived in this log cabin beside Merry Creek. Life was pretty basic during those days. It was awful during the War. We had a little old rattly radio. In those days a radio needed three big batteries. An “A” battery, a “B” battery and a “C” battery. They were all about the size of an average case of beer. It had a large weight to carry when you went to move your radio. You had three big batteries to move with it. Mom and Dad followed the progress of the war on the radio each night and morning news cast. Us children, myself in many cases, surprising how much a child does follow what is going on. We followed the tragedies of the war by listening to this little radio. There were happy times, of course, family parties, and so on. Dad was quite good on the accordion. Our other two Uncles were good on the violin. They placed old-time music. We didn’t have a piano up there. We had some pretty good parties. I can still, not drinking, just family parties, I can remember the floors used to bounce when we started square dancing.

There is a lot of weight thumping on the floor up and down. We used to have Christmas there. Of course, Santa Claus was pretty poor in those days. We got one present each, more or less, and a stocking stuffed with nuts, and candies and so on. Mother was very good at making the best of things. She got us all excited so we got up at 4:00 o’clock in the morning to see what we had. No power, of course, no electric lights, so the Christmas tree was all decorated in nice sparkling glad balls, that is all you had in those days. We had some nice times. It was quite isolated, though. As children, we grew up very secluded. When it came to go to school, we were very shy, and almost afraid of other children. The only other children we saw were my cousins who were living in the next place over on the hillside. There was a trail through the woods. Other than than we were raised almost in isolation. During the depression time there wasn’t much money to go anywhere. Dad used to do shopping mainly in the fall for supplies of flour, an grain for the chickens, and a couple of cows. We didn’t go shopping every day like you do now. We used to go maybe once a month and then in the fall, we got good supply of basic things like sugar and flour and salt to get you through the Winter. We had no snow plough then so the old car went in the snow till you couldn’t go any more. Then you had to use the horse an sleighs. My father had what they tend to call a Bennet buggy. During the depression people couldn’t afford gas for the car so they would take the engine out of the old car and turn it into a cart for the horse. You would pull it with the horse. On the prairies, the Bennet buggy was quite common. This was sort of a similar type of thing. I was there until I was 8 years old, so I was late getting started with school. I didn’t start until we moved down to the lower flat. Basically, we just played around up there and I would climb trees, and my sister was a year and a half younger so I would climb trees. What ever tree I climbed, she would try to climb, too. MY younger brother was always trying to catch up to us. It would make the old triangle type of thing. The thirs one wal always trying to fit in. He would catch up to us and we would always run off to the next place. That is the way children are. Our life was fine up there. My mother and dad were honest people, never drank or never looked at others, in the way of affairs, and things like that. We had a little sawmill on the hillside above, where he worked pretty hard to make a few dollars. Are there any questions you want to ask me?

NB: Was your family self-sufficient up there? You grew and canned your own vegetables?

HK: Yes, we were quite self-sufficient. We didn’t have any fruit trees up there. It was quite in the woods there. You had to clear, I think it was 5 acres, in order to get title to the land. My father just cleared it out. We didn’t have any fruit trees there, but on the land lower down, my grandfather had planted a lot of fruit trees that were moved up from down by the plaza, where he had a very big nursery. They were moved up when he lost the place. He moved up quite a few trees. They are still there now. They are 70 years old now, but a lot of them are still producing. Mother was very good at canning and saving. Nothing went to waste. She would can fruit of any kind. Huckleberries; they would go picking when they were in season and make a lot of huckleberry jam and can huckleberry fruit. Black raspberries used to grow, sometime white thickly and made jam out of them. The place down below where my Aunty and Uncle Frank McCleod, mother’s brother, was on the place down below and the fruit trees were still in the family. We had very good relationships with the Doukhobour people. They would quite often go over to a village in Ootaschenia and or *Grandach or somewhere. The prices were always reasonable, mother used to can a lot of tomatoes. She’s still living and doing quite well. She always liked canning tomatoes, then there were peaches and apricots, pears, and plums and all that sort of thing.

My father, during the Depression, there was very little work and he had some experience with butchering, because pioneer families; it was always a fact of life that they were always butchering cattle or pigs or chickens for eating. During the depression, he survived by getting into a little butchering business where it was sort of a travelling thing.
He went to Trail market on Saturdays. He was selling meat. He had an old Buick, what he would call a touring car, which, nowadays they would call a convertible. That was his meat delivery vehicle. He didn’t stay in the meat selling that long. Then he went together with his brother-in-law, Frank McCleod, and other brothers, Jack Killough and his father-in-law, John McCleod, and they built a little sawmill on the mountain side up above on Merry Creek. It appears to me that he sacrificed his car. They needed an engine for the saw mill; so what do you do? He pulled the engine out of your car. Then you had to walk to town or go by horse or whatever. They put this Buick car engine in the saw mill, and it cut quite a bit of lumber with it. All these big old cars, the Studebaker; they had pretty big motors. They sawed lumber with that. They never made much money though. It was always just a case of just making it. Then in the summer, when there were forest fires, the Killough family would have a lot to do with fire-fighting. My Uncle Joe Killough, was the oldest surviving son. Arthur was killed in France during the First World War. Joe Killough spent his whole life, his whole career with the Forest Service. Even by the age of 18 or even younger, he was involved with the Forest Service. My Dad and Nick’s brother-in-law used to get on the fires in the summer and make quite a few dollars. There was always a few cans of pork and beans left over, or, maybe a bit of bacon. That would come home at the end of the fire. They would come home with a few things in their pack sack. In fact my father and Grandfather McCleod were on a fire up China Creek when the word came out that World War Two started, in September, 1939. They had been on a bad fire up in China Creek. I can still remember the smoke, sort of a nice smell on their clothes and pack sacks, and rooting in the pack sacks for these cans of beans and sardines. They kept going, and looking back, you wondered how they ever made it. They would order from the Eaton’s catalogue. At Christmas everything was bought through Eaton’s. There were a few stores in Castlegar, but there was no Hospital in Castlegar. My brother broke his leg, brother Glen, he was first, myself, then sister Joyce, and brother Ted, and then two younger boys arrived when we lived below. Brother Glen at the age of 18 months was feeling of his oats, and running around and giggled and laughing one night. Then all of a sudden we heard this crying, and he had fallen over a railing on the porch and broke his leg on a wash tub, which was sitting in the flower garden below the railing. I don’t think my Dad even had a car, so my Uncle Frank McCleod drove him to Trail Hospital. Those days they were really strict. Mother and Dad were not allowed to see him for a full month while he was in the hospital. Which was kind of dumb as far as I can see. They just took him in the hospital. For a month he was there, then they just brought him home and he had the cast on for awhile afterward. The small children like that they seem to heel up very quickly. I don’t think there were any lasting effects from his broken leg.

After taking the motor out of that first car for the sawmill, father bought another Buick car and my Uncle Jim in Castlegar. It was a nice McLachlin Buick with a blue plush upholstery. It was in pretty good shape. I think he paid $75.00 which is not much now a days. He only had it for a couple of weeks or so and another Uncle, Gus Degic. Uncle Jim had injured himself. He was working in West’s store. West’s sold meat in those days, as well as other merchandise. It was a soiled meat screwer which had been in meat before that he injured himself with. He got some serious bacterial infection in his hand. He had to go to the Trail Hospital. My Uncle Gus, who had married a Killough girl, Lillian; he borrowed the car to go in with Lillian to see Jim. That was the youngest son in the Killough family. Sherbiko Hill was quite narrow in those days and he met another car. Apparently this other car was driving quite lousy. Uncle Gus swerved up the bank to miss the car and rolled the Buick on to it’s top. It was a wooden top, like they all had in those days, so it crunched the frame. They weren’t hurt, but my mother’s face was pretty long when she saw that car come back with the top crunched down. That was their only car. My Dad was a resourceful chap and he got out his hammer and saw, made up some trusses, and made it into a panel. The rest of the car was still running fine. He made it into a panel truck. In later years, he worked at the Brilliant Dam. He commuted with as many as 14 men in that one car after it was converted into a little truck.

I have talked about the homestead quite a bit. Us kids were fairly unhappy about leaving the homestead. I remember myself being quite unhappy. Even myself, I didn’t want to leave. To get to school was the main reason for going down below onto the flat. We were a long ways away from a school bus even down below where my Grandfather’s house was in 1921. When they lost the place downtown, or down at the plaza in 1920 or ’22 we moved up to the upper flat at that time. There was a logging company at that time, run by a French Canadian by the name of Champs, his uncle was mayor of Rossland. This was Joe Champ running his logging outfit. Grandfather acquired the land, but they were still logging on it so eventually acquired the two log houses that were there. They built another lumber house out of rough sawed lumber near by. That is the house we moved into in 1942. It was just a plain brown board house in those days, no paint or anything. Grandfather Killough had died. He had diabetes in his later years and he had had a fairly colourful life. He came from Ontario originally. He worked around Battlefield, Saskatchewan on survey parties quite a bit. Then got involved in the Riel Rebellion as a scout for the R.C.M.P. He got a couple of arrows though his hat once or twice. Then he came to Calgary when it was only a tent town. That must have been in the 1880’s. Then met my Grandmother there. From the Cart family who grew up in the Moose Jaw area, I believe it was, and had life in a sod hut. They were from England. They had a pretty rigorous pioneer life there and almost died in one case, when they all got pneumonia. They married there in Saskatchewan, then came to B.C. in 1913. I talked quite a bit about the homestead. In 1942 we moved down to the lower flat about half a mile lower, largely in order to go to school, because I was eight years old by then. My sister was 6 and a half and they wanted to get us a little closer. We still had to walk a mile to get the school bus by the Kinnaird Hall. We walked down Milestone Road. Milestone Road is pretty well; I don’t know if it is even marked on the maps any more. It was changed when the Blueberry Paulson highway went in. They changed the road, but that is how we went in in those days. We moved down to the old lumber house. We were quite rebellious, myself in particular, running around sort of breaking things and so on. I was rebelling over moving down from the log cabin. There was a little log cabin in the woods beside us and I threw some batteries through the windows. I did a few other mischievous things. The fall came so we had to go to school, and this was quite dramatic for my sister Joyce and I. We had seen so few children. We held hands all day at first when we went to school down in the elementary school. We walked around holding hands and tried to face the world. In the beginning, the old Castlegar Elementary was right where the court house is now. There is a big ponderosa pine still in the middle of the yard. Where the school bus garage is, that is where the school was. It was a six room school, just a plain old school with linseed oil on the floor. Sometimes the girls would slip on the floor and get a big oil streak down the side of their skirt. It was a pretty primitive school. We learned our three R’s there quite well. The first day our father took us down and he thought, well, better show me the boy’s bathroom. My father was a very shy and proper man, but accidentally he led me into the girl’s bathroom. A bunch of the other kids hollered out, and soon put him straight on it. With a red face, he went off to the right bathroom. Then the boys and girls were together in the basement in the beginning. There was some pushing and shoving and girls would be a bit smaller and they probably got skinned up a bit, so they made a rule and they separated the basement. The boys stayed on one side and the girls were on the other. That is when my sister and I had to stop holding hands. I thought I could mention a couple of the teachers that I remember especially well from there. The principal was Bob Summers, a colourful chap who went into politics in later years. When the Social Credit Party went in with a big bang in the 50’s somewhere. The people in the province were pretty tired of the Liberals and the Conservative, and Social Credit went in big. Bob summers thought he would take a little change from teaching, I suppose. He got in and he was one of three who had to decide who was going to be Premier and it was W.A.C. Bennett that they decided on. Bob Summers, he was an impressive teacher, he could teach a lesson that you could never forget. On the other hand he was a tall slim chap who smoked a cigar. He maintained pretty strict discipline and the students sat mighty quiet and mighty straight when he walked down the aisles in the class room. He was a good musician, had an excellent ear for music. He used to lead the Kiwanis choir in later years. We used to have a lot of fun during the track meets at school. We didn’t have much in the way of sport, but we had a track meet in the summer. We had a lot of children coming from all around. I would get a kick out of some of the long names, especially some of the Doukhobor names were very long and hard to pronounce, we used to get a kick out of it. Now a days you wouldn’t do that. They had kind of a PR system so he would be called out for different events of the track meet. Naming off the different names and have trouble with the names. There was no harm done and no offence intended.

Another teacher that I had in Grade 6, I should mention that since I started school at age 8, my teachers thought they should catch me up, so I did half of Grade one and they put me in Grade two. I just started to make it in Grade two and then we all got Scarlet Fever at Christmas and I missed a full month. Then I came back to Grade two and I was completely lost, so back to Grade one again. Then I went to Grade two the following year for half, and then I had my Aunt Tanis, Joe Killough’s wife was the teacher then. Then they put me into Grade three with Mrs. Lightner so I was crying my head off because of all this moving around. I left all my friends behind. I was having a rough time. We came out of the woods, and didn’t know anyone. Then I got to know a few in Grade one. Looking back on this it would have been better if they would have just left me plug along, then try to catch me up. In Grade six, myself and three others did very well, on a certain IQ test, so they skipped us out through Grade seven to Grade eight. I was in Grade 8 in six years. It didn’t take 8 years to get there. I would like to mention the teacher in Grade 6, a Mrs. Quail, who was a very strict teacher, a very strict disciplinarian. At the end of the year we all loved her; as far as I know we thought a lot of her. She was very strict. You didn’t dare say one word out of line. You didn’t dare do anything out of line or you got a good talking to. We learnt well from her. They were all good teachers, but three stand out. Betty Lightner was very well known for many years, and she only passed away a couple of years ago. She was sort of a magical person. She could talke about fairies, not the fairies we talk about in the present day, the little fairies that sit on mushrooms or toad stools. She was sort of a magical teacher. She had such a magical tone in her voice when she read poetry. She was teaching remedial math cause she used to give us a whole lot of numbers. I think it was nine by nine, it was, she put on the board for us, and we would all see who could add it up first. Nine numbers in each number and nine columns. At the time, I was skipped into Grade three, as I mentioned before I was crying my head off and she did help me to get a foot hold, and by the end of the year I came second in the class. The first in the class was a local fellow named Nick Keraiff; he also used the name of Buddy Marr. He had a lot of trouble with his eyes and he used to go right to the blackboard to see it. She was very good at helping him. He was first in the class at the end of the year. All the teachers were all good teachers, those are the three that stand out. One thing I could mention, I never got into much trouble. I walways want to be very consicientious about my studies. In Grade eight, a cousin came to the school. He was fairly good in school, but, he was a little more into mischief. One day we went for a walk behind the school, myself and cousin and several others saw some beautiful strawberries growing in a patch. We thought we’d try one, then we tried two and then six. The poor lady had gone in for lunch and she left a pail or two that were half full. I am not sure if it was us or others decided why bother picking? We might as well eat them out of the pail. We finally went back to school, the bell rang and our faces were a good red and we slipped in hoping nobody would notice. I had a younger cousin with me and he was in Grade six with Mrs. Quail. She had some how got a confession out of him; I guess we looked guilty. He met us in the hall way and he said we are sunk; they all know about this crime. I said. “there is only one thing we can do then is to go over with whatever money we can stir up and we will offer it to this lady”. Some of the others said, “no”, I said I was going anyway. We went over and offered the lady what we had, which was very little, a few dollars or so. She had been crying and she said that “I don’t want the money, if you would have asked, you could have had some strawberries”, she just felt bad. I suppose that some of the plants were pulled and damaged. When you are young, you do these things without thinking too much. On the way back we met Mrs. Quail, who gave us a severe frown. I explained to her we had gone over and offered her some money, but nothing more came of it, otherwise I think we would have all got the strap, probably. That was the end of that incident.

I suppose the next step would be to move on to high school down in Robson. Some of the other people in Castlegar thought, well no, send your kids to Trail to go to high school. Most of us went over to the Raspberry School that was set up for high school. That was set up for the years ’49 and ’50 and half way in ’51 til Christmas. That was our high school at the Raspberry School. It was the old Doukhobor school. It was built back in 1910, soon after they came to the Kootenays. It was very sound, a big old building, but it was pretty primitive, 12 foot high ceilings. We had three teachers there which we jokingly called the C.M. and S. John Charters, who you are very familiar with; George Maliwood, who was the Principal, and Bill Swart. I haven’t seen him for years. George Maglow moved away. Charters taught Science, Social Studies, and even French. Even though, like myself, he wasn’t very fluent in French. We all did the best we could. He was quite comical. He was quite a comedian in class. He was just a young man then. He had just come from military service not too long before; he had been in Italy. During Social Studies, he often had us laughing, splitting our sides, because he would be joking or simulating Mussolini or joking about some sort of issue that was around then. Which might not be funny, but in many ways, he always had a comical way of presenting it. He was a dedicated teacher and a beloved teacher as he always has been and still is. George Magood was a self-made man. He was a tall, slim man, square shoulders, over 6 feet tall. He had some illness or some accident in his youth and had one knee injured so he walked with quite a limp. The students tend to pick up on it with a joke. It is our human nature, of course; he was a good teacher. He taught very methodically. I liked him especially. He taught Geometry, Math and Art. I liked him fine. Some of the other students wanted somebody that had more humour. I found him to be a dedicated teacher. Bill Swart taught us History and English. He was also a good teacher. I think he grew up in Thrums. He had a different sense of humour. It was more of a satanic sense of humour. Quite a few of us used to get the strap now and then. No serious harm was done and we all learned our three r’s and did what we should have been doing. I am more or less trying to write a book myself on family stories and school stories. I have written three short stories on the Raspberry School. One I called “Punishment to Fit the Crime”. There weren’t much to do at the school There wasn’t any organized sports. There wasn’t even a level playing ground, so we used to play ball in the pasture among the cow pies. Once we were playing football or soccer on the sloping ground and I stepped on a rock and twisted my ankle badly. Another time, I went over a rock wall when I was chasing a soccer ball.

We needed something to do at this particular lunch time so we thought we would walk up the mountain. We walked up to several different benches, once we were behind the trees we didn’t see the school any more so we started rolling big rocks. We got carried away and we rolled all the rocks that we could get hold of without thinking much about the school below us. Then we realized it was time to go back to class, so we raced down. All the teachers were standing down there with their hands on their hips looking pretty mad. Fortunately the rocks didn’t go through the school, but some big ones were on the road behind. The school was right on the mountain side so they said, “You fellows, we haven’t decided what to do with you.” We got some sever warnings while they decided what to do. They all went into a huddle there. George Maglio, the principal, he announced what our punishment was going to be. We didn’t know what was going to happen to us. So he said, “Well boys, since you like rolling rocks down the mountain, how would you like to take them up again?” Fortunately, he didn’t make us take all of them, or else we would be there still. We will take a dozen of those big rocks back up to that first hump there and make a cairn and each time you get a stupid idea like this in your head, look at the cairn and change your mind, hopefully. We got out of it very fortunately. We had to roll them. They were pretty heavy, so it took us a while to get them up there, but we did it. It was good; that is why I call this punishment to fit the crime, because it was a very appropriate way, I thought, of handling it. Another case we were doing homework. We had a little building behind the main building, a younger one, for Grade 10. We were sitting there doing our homework. We had a little building behind the main building, a younger one, for Grade 10. We were sitting there doing our homework at lunch time. It was in the winter and there wasn’t much else to do except to go out and throw snowballs at the girls, maybe. We would catch up on our homework, some of us would. There were some young guys who were not intent on studying and one of them climbed up on the rafters above. This building was just minimal construction. He was walking along up above, instead of walking on the rafters, he stepped on the plywood and he came down, plywood and all. Insulation and plywood went flying around the room and he dame down into the class room with a terrific crash.
Fortunately a teacher wasn’t around so we all got busy in a hurry once we realized what had happened. We all teamed up and started throwing the insulation back up through the hole and got a rock and banged some nails in the plywood and put it back up again and the teacher came in. I don’t think the teachers ever know about it. I don’t think there might have been a little tiny bit of pink insulation around. In my short story, I mention playing a detective like Sherlock Holmes looking around for this pink insulation, but I don’t think it ever happened.

Another case, in the Chemistry underneath the building; that was our chemistry lab. Mr. Charters was the Chemistry teacher. We were supposed to generate hydrogen this day by pouring hydrochloric acid on some zinc in a flask. He stressed many times to make sure that your apparatus was p8ut together right. Then, when it is generating hydrogen, you would light a match at the end o this delivery tube and it would burn and form water which would then quietly form water. If you were careless with the apparatus, it could blow up. If your fire got in where the zinc and the acid was, well then you could blow it up. We were teamed up in teams, and this one particular team was not the most dedicated, and they were trying to joke a bit, and not take it too seriously, so sure enough they lit up and the thing blew up. The blast went around. Fortunately no one got hurt that I knew of. John Charter’s was quite annoyed and lay the law down. He also thought of a very appropriate punishment for the situation. He put tape over their eyes for the ret of the day. They had adhesive tape. I suppose the school board wouldn’t allow that to be done now but he said,” You fellows will begin to realize that you could very well be blind now, so by the time this tape comes off, you will realize what it would be like to be blind.”

Then we had a school musician from Rossland who was just a natural on the accordion ever since he was young. He used to bring his accordion there and he played. We had no juke boxes, no records, no tapes, anything. It was live music, and he would sit down at lunch time, or a Christmas concert and play his accordion. The girls would sit all around him. He was quite popular, of course. He just had a tremendous knack for the accordion and he liked the songs, “My Happinesss”, and, “In the Mood” and those kinds of songs. That was back in the late ‘40’s and early 50’s, “five Foot Two”, and “Eyes of Blue”, and those kinds of songs. At Christmas time, the princi0pal brought us all into the class room and says, “Well, we are going to have a few carols now, before the Christmas holidays”. One chap unfortunately made a boo sound, I am sure he didn’t mean any real big thing, but the principal took this very seriously, because he was a very serious man. The student got a good strapping out of it for doing that. Anyway, no permanent harm was done, I don’t think. I should mention one other thing. With the 12 foot ceiling there was a alight bulb burnt out on one occasion and we had one chap there who was 6 foot 6 in height and Norman Gustafson, his name was, a big strong guy, I suppose of Swedish origin. He and Ivan *Guoston got on his shoulders and that way they changed the light bulb in the 12 foot ceiling. One day, I didn’t have my French homework done. Normally, I was pretty good, but I was doing too much math or something. They brought in a teacher for French named Pan Vanwells, in the last year, couple of years. He made me stay after school so I had to walk home from Raspberry all the way to the mountain side above the Kinnaird Hall. That took me quite a while. We used to walk across the Castlegar Railway Bridge if we were going to town. Sometimes we would catch the school bus over and walk across the railway bridge. That way we went with the school bus across the ferry. If we had to go shopping we would walk across the ridge and into town, and sometimes catch the school bus over to Castlegar. By the time I was half way through Grade 11, Stanley Humphries was ready to occupy. It was made of entire concrete, because in those days there was some school burning was still going on. We don’t see any more of that now, but some schools had been burnt. That is why it was built entirely ot of concrete. The new principal had come in while I was still at Raspberry. Al Tomus and George Maglow became vice-principal. My father had a little sawmill and we hadn’t done very well that summer, so I stayed the month of September and worked with him in the sawmill. The new principal was not very impressed with that. He didn’t think too much of that idea. He wanted the high school to get accreditation as soon as possible. Those of us that were making better marks were encouraged to work a bit harder and get good marks, so the school would get accreditation and we did before too long. I had quite a time catching up. I felt I had made a mistake by taking a month off because I was never a sort of person that could jump any steps. I sort of had to see every step along the way. It sort of affected my confidence in Math, especially, because I missed some important background there. I paid kind of a heavy price for that. Now, in the new school a band was coming in.
I never got in the band, but there was organized sports, like PE and decent ball grounds and the gym, and so on. Although I didn’t have very much time to spare, I wask taking six courses in my last year in high school. Some can handle that sort of thing easily, but I was always one that couldn’t take any short cuts and doing three sciences and Math and English and French was a little too much for me. By then I was starting to get an idea of strong options about morality. I dot into an issue, looking back on it, I wouldn’t have done again. There was a book in the library called “The Grapes of Wrath” by Stienbeck which is a well known book. I read only a few pages and being quite naïve, I was quite shocked. I started talking to the librarian who was also the councillor, and I said, “ I don’t think this book should be in the library, because I felt it wasn’t appropriate for the younger aged. He said, “Well, who are you?” He didn’t like this very much. It turned out that I was in a public speaking contest, which I won; the first round. This chap was coaching the others who I defeated for various reasons, I suppose. One being that the adjudicator was the minister who was quite fond of me. I am not saying I didn’t deserve to win, but that didn’t do me any harm. This teacher, who I was saying that “The Grapes of Wrath” shouldn’t be in the library, was then assigned to coach me in the secondary round. He wasn’t very interested since I had been criticizing him, so the second round for the public speaking was kind of a disaster for me. I took too long. You only had two minutes. He had told me I sound like I was talking from a pulpit. I put a lot more in it. Then I realized that it was too long, and I forgot which words I had cut out, and which I hadn’t cut out. Then I went on with my speech and I stood there saying nothing. Bob Godus who was from Rossland High School, he was very dramatic. He did a tremendous performance. I couldn’t of possibly beaten him, but I could have come in second if I hadn’t forgotten my words, and stood there saying nothing. I should mention my first girl friend; we got together at the Raspberry School. I certainly wasn’t a fast number by any means. In fact, I didn’t even know who she was, but someone was playing cupid and they sort of got us together at a square dance. They got us going out together. I felt heavenly then. We went out together for four years. I had a note on my paper; sweethearts in Biology class. She was one year behind me. Her name was Lania Paulson; she had a Swedish father and a Finnish mother. It was quite a family and she was a straight A student in her classes. I got A’s in most and B’s in some, but she just got A’s straight down the line. We went out together for about four years. When I went down to U.B.C. and *lugduns that I should maybe go into medicine, but it didn’t work out. She naturally didn’t want to wait seven years and soon married someone else. That leads me to into the square dance club that we had. Called folk dancing, it was in the Kinnaird Hall. That started in 1949, I suppose it was. There was a lady named Katie Shaw from Trail who is still teaching Scottish Dancing, I believe. She is a tremendous dance teacher. We learnt square dancing and folk dancing from her. We had sort of a square that we were always together and there were several squares. Ours we had a specific group all the time, because we had four boys and four girls, and it was a case of boyfriend and girlfriend in all cases. One was my sister and there was Ron Hawkins, Kay Fos, my sister, Melven Gustafson, myself and Mania Paulson, and my cousin Bob Sahlstrom, and Jean Matler. It was a case of first love with all of us. It was the first love with all of us and the first love is always quite stormy, but it is probably the most strongest love that occurs. I don’t think that any love is the same after, but it is sort of stormy, up and down, tempers, jealousy, little squabbles, spits and spats, so one out of the three, they did marry, Ron and Kay married and they lived happily ever after.
The rest, the other arrangements went apart for one reason or another. We had a lot of fun with the square dance group. We would go on a picnic on the weekend and so on. We were together, we had a thing going for a long time. We went out to Creston for one competition and our group thought we were pretty polished, but we came in second. The other group, they came first; the adjudicator said they seemed more enjoying themselves. They cut loose more than we did; we were trying to do it perfectly, and they really enjoyed themselves and just kind of let loose and came first.

In those days you didn’t have the Salmo-Creston, it wasn’t there. You had to go around by Balfour and across the ferry. It took about half a day to get to Creston in those days. I covered the education. I went on to U.B.C. in ’53 I took a year out to help my father which was not very successful. With the Irish temper, young guys always have strong ideas about changing the world in a hurry, and my hard-working dad, he was getting there with the old ways; I was impatient. It is the same old story so I don’t think I have to add a great deal, really. Dad had a mill crew consisting of all his sons, like myself and two younger brothers, so by the time my dad had to deal with all of our tempers and all of our love matches, or whatever was going right, or going wrong. I don’t know how he ever managed it. I am not saying that any of us are bad guys, but when you’re young you are just full of controversy and you don’t want to listen.

I went to U.B.C. but it was not very successful. I didn’t have much money. My girlfriend was back in Castlegar. I was writing letters to her only down there. I was working at night, was washing dishes in a cafeteria for 50 cents an hour to try and make it through. I didn’t do much homework, so needless to say, I didn’t finish. I stayed to the end of the year; I passed half the courses. Under those circumstances, it was a wonder I even passed half of them. Then I came back and I was going to help my father in the mill, but I was even more restless by then. The mill had fallen down during the winter. It was up in Blueberry Creek and you had to go up in the winter and shovel the roof off or it would fall down from the heavy snow. There was no road, you just had to go by snowshoe for about 4 miles. I got even more impatient and went off and got working on the surveying of the Blueberry Paulson highway. I left home like all young guys do, in a huff, at one time or another. I should talk about surveying, maybe I should talk about the sawmill a little bit, should I?

NB: Yes

HK: The saw mill, as I mentioned earlier, was up in Merry Creek, above our homestead where my father and his brother-in-law, Frank McCleod worked. They had this little sawmill that was run by a Buick engine and it had a cracked block. In those days, you didn’t use anti-freeze, and someone forgot to drain it, and it was a cold day, and it split the block so they had to shut it off as soon as the motor stopped running. As long as it was running the compression in the cylinders kept the water out, but as soon as you shut it off, then the cylinders would fill with water, so you had to drain the engine. They weren’t making much money, and they bought what they called the mill and that is the poles and shafts and things with the saw on it, other than the motor. The payments were due and they were not doing very well, so it was repossessed. There were still some logs so they were sawing at night with some Coleman lanterns hanging from the logs trying to get the logs cut. Even though that mill was repossessed. They got another one from Sam Streloff, which was even a bigger mill. That was the Merry Creek Mill. Now I am going to speak of the mill in Blueberry Creek. They started with a big diesel, well, it wasn’t that big, heavy one-cylinder Fairbanks motors diesel with two big fly wheels. Even though it was only rated at 25 horsepower we had to take two loads with the truck to get it up there. The engine part was one load, and the two half-ton fly wheels the other load. They started with that and ran it. I had one day, I believe there, when us boys got old enough to help in the summer holidays. Our dad was worried we’d get our leg caught in this big fly wheel. When you were starting this engine you had to turn the flywheel. You had to heat the plug with the blow torch and get it hot and flip the flywheel to get it started. It started off with a Fairbanks Morse diesel engine. It came out from Creston somewhere. It was running a rock crusher. It came on the Masochin. The Moyie ran until ’57 and the Masochin was used as a car ferry. But in any case, the wheel, because this thing was very high sitting on the truck, it got some white paint of it’s wheels off the Masochin when they drove off. Then they had to let the air out of the tires to get through the doorway, because the engine was sitting too high. They had to pump the tires back up again. It had the paint on the flywheel, as long as we had it. My dad sold it to someone. I don’t know where it went. He was afraid one of us getting hurt by it. They replaced that with a big old Studebaker engine. That is where it stayed for one season and then a Case Combine Engine, a used one, a gas engine, was the last engine we had in it. My dad used to love the smell of logs, especially being sawed in the mill. White pine has a wonderful smell. He always felt it was the best perfume there is. The sawing of white pine is very fresh. All logs, when they are being cut, are quite aromatic as a rule. The small amount of lumber we got a day, the Forestry wouldn’t even notice the difference. A small load at the end of the day and that was it. It was a fairly basic little mill, it just had no edger. Now they have a set of saws to trim the bark off. They had to saw some pieces off the log and then roll it. Eventually, you ended up getting a square log. But in the process you always had these boards with bark on the edges, and then you had to edge them. What you did then was you stacked them on what they called the carriage and ran them through about six at a time, and brought them down and trimmed the bark off the edges. For the slabs, the trimmings, it was a mine car modified on a little railway track to carry the slabs. You would run that car down and dump those. Then there was another mining car with a box built on it to handle the sawdust. They would also run down and dump the sawdust car. Sawmills are always dangerous, especially those little old mills. They didn’t have any really bad accidents, but there were some close calls. There was one case where father was bringing in a stack of lumber boards back on the carriage, you have to make sure it is pushed in clear so it clears the saw. One of us had slipped up and didn’t push it tight enough and it came back in on the saw and it threw those planks just like you were throwing steers and one after the other went flying back to the mill. Any one of them would kill you dead as a door nail. Dad ducked out of the way and quickly ran down and shut the engine off. When the saw stopped turning, one plank was ready to go sitting on the teeth there. My mother used to worry a lot but fortunately we never had any bad accidents. My dad got a badly broken leg in later years, loading some cedar poles on the mountain side. There was ice and snow around and they were slippery and icy and he was using the cable in the process. This pole bounced back and broke his leg. He had two Doukhobor chaps working for him. I was working on surveying the Blueberry Paulson then. He always had a stretcher at the saw mill, but there was no stretcher up there. My father didn’t pass out at first, any way. He had some first-aid training, so he told them to get him on this plank and carefully slide him on the deck of the truck. Then I guess tied a piece of board or something to reduce the amount of shocking on the way down. Halfway down the mountain road, they transferred him to a pickup truck. Alex Laktin was one of the other men working there. He had a little shack he was staying in. He put a mattress in the pickup truck and got my dad onto that mattress and they took him to the Trail Hospital. Alex Laktin was a well-known pioneer who just passed away several years ago. He lived out at Ootishenia. They got him to Trail Hospital and then, in there, like, sometimes hospital personnel are not too concerned how they handle people and they hurt him a lot getting him off into the hospital. So Alex Laktin says, “What’s the matter with you? You think this is a log you are handling here?” He was quite annoyed, because they had been so careful not to hurt him. Anyway, my father recovered and had plates. It was a bad break so he had plates and rivets through the plates to set the bone. He recovered pretty well, but that leg was never quite the same. He stopped the sawmill business not long after and went scaling for Celgar, as a check scaler until he retired. Now I was going to talk about the surveying on the Blueberry Paulson highway. As I say most young guys get hot around the collar and leave home and most young girls do too sooner or later. Hence, usually they come back, sometimes. I did come back in a year or so. I went surveying on the Blueberry Paulson highway for six months. We were camped about 4 miles before Nancy Greene Lake. It was called Sheep Lake in those days and it was just a bush road to get up there then. It took us an our and a half standing in the back of this Dodge Power wagon to get up to camp. We were sort of living in a tent town, tent camp. There were about 10 tents set up there with lumber floors and lumber up 4 feet or so, and tent covering over top.

We had a cook there; the meals were good, but I had grown up eating porridge in the morning. They had cornflakes and other cold cereal, so I being a bit stubborn as well, because of having Scotch in me as well, I took oatmeal up there and some canned milk and some sugar and I made my own porridge before I went into the cookhouse for pancakes and bacon. I had my own porridge although I am sure I could have done without.

We didn’t have any power saws, or anything to cut the survey line. In those days, we just used a single bit axe, because the boss said power saws often don’t start, beside most of the trees weren’t that big. So we got the job done, just with axes. The transit man, he had worked for twelve years in a bank in Rossland. He was very good with figures. There were no computers or calculators in those days. There were slide rulers in those days, I suppose. He drank a lot on weekends, but he was a good man in the middle of the week. On Monday he would say, “Don’t bother me”. We cut him half a mile of line, so that kept us going all day. Then on Tuesday, well, it is time to get rolling. Wednesday, Thursday, we did a lot of work. By Friday, it was time to ease off for the weekend. The irony is, there was another crew working, and the leader didn’t drink a bit, but they kept making mistakes. We made a mistake the first day and then we promised we wouldn’t make another mistake. I kept track of every single thing we did. Every measurement. I wrote it down. At the end, this poor chap was trying so hard, and yet we were doing twice as much as he was. The last corner we did was a t Mission Creek and he had tried to do it for a week or more, but we went in and did it in two hours, but winter was coming on. I was supposed to be transferred out to Christina Lake and work at that end, but I got the word that my father had broken his leg and that he was completely incapacitated for the whole Winter. I came home then and sort of helped around his mill and business and helped out as much as I could.

Do you want to talk about our old red lumber truck? A red, 1938 Chev; it was rated at 1 ½ to 2 Ton and it came from some freight company in Nelson. When my father was looking for a truck, they referred to it as “The Red” and he didn’t have much money at all so he said, “Well, let’s have a look at the red”, and he went down and saw the truck. The only thing wrong was it had one fender dinged up on one of the front fenders, other than that it was in pretty good shape. Needless to say, he bought it for a good price. It came to be very useful and had many uses. It hauled lumber from the mill, and logs to the mill, firewood, and hay on the farm at home. We had our hay to cut, the summer was often taken up. When we got out of school, quite a bit of the summer we were tied up with getting the hay cut. In those days, cutting with the horse mower, we had no baler, we just hauled in loose hay. It was about August, by the time we were ready to go work in the mill where we could make a dollar or two. Our father used to pay us a few dollars, but of course, we had our board and room free at home. Anyway, this truck was used for all kinds of things, it hauled manure in the spring out onto the fields. We went to town with it, and if we were going to a movie, which was a few times a year, not very often, or to church on Sundays. The cab would only take about three or four in the front, so the rest of us sat on a car seat set on the back of this old lumber truck.

Interviewed by Nicole Bouvette