Sunday 16 June 2024

Cloud Show

    Yesterday we made the 45 minute drive to Tete Jaune so that we could have a restaurant meal with friends.  As we drove, we were treated by a dramatic visual display of clouds that were building over the mountains.  On our left, on the Rocky Mountain side of the Robson Valley we watched sheets of rain arcing as they fell from the clouds (photo above).   As we drove a bit further, we did drove through a patch of rain.

    At the same time on our right, the Cariboo Mountain side of the Valley, large, puffy, cumulous clouds were building over the peaks (photo below).   The clouds on both sides of the Valley, gave us an added and interesting bit of beauty to the drive.


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Saturday 15 June 2024

Valley Museum Quilt Show

    McBride’s Valley Museum has been putting on a show of quilts done by the Valley Piecemakers.  Unfortunately, the show has pretty much ended.  However, here are some photos of some of the quilts that where on display.

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Friday 14 June 2024

Music At The Dunster Museum

    Every year the Dunster Museum has a musical celebration when they open for the season.  Last Sunday afternoon was this year’s Museum opening.  Like last year, they invited our Tuesday Night Jam to do a session, and the photo above, shows us in action.  

    The Dunster Museum is located right across the road from the Dunster store (which is Dunster).   The old Dunster Railway Station which is now the museum, is, as you might expect, situated right beside the railroad track, and as we were performing, a Via Passenger Train came loudly down the track, and slowed to a stop at the Station to allow the passengers to view the festivities. 

     As we continued playing our songs, I imaged what those passengers must have thought of the gathering, probably something like,  “Oh, what a quaint little cultural festival the mountain villagers are putting on.  They probably gather around the railway station and play music every Sunday afternoon.”

    It was funny to realize that what they were thinking, was exactly what I start thinking, whenever I come across something similar in a foreign country.

    Anyway, the train soon went on its way, but the music continued.  

    Locals, Jane and Keith performed on their alpine horns, although without the mountain echos.  That was followed by a rhythmic beats of a drum circle.  It was all an enjoyable afternoon in the hamlet of Dunster.

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Thursday 13 June 2024

The End of Our Old Utility Trailer

    I thought that yesterday would be the last day I blogged about my old utility trailer, but there was one final chapter to its existence.  Yesterday, Micheal from up the road, came over with his cutting torch and cut the trailer’s iron frame into small enough pieces that I could haul to the metal recycling bin at the dump.  However, before I can do that, I still have to cut the rubber tires away from their rims.

    I was surprised at how quickly the trailer’s frame turned into a very small pile of scrap iron.  It didn’t take long for that physical piece of our history to no longer exist.

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Wednesday 12 June 2024

The Trailer With One Wheel

             Finally, I will explain the photo that was on Monday’s blog.  It is the last of my utility trailer stories, and it occurred in 1978, just a week before I took the cedar mill job.

            Purden Lake was a long way to travel for firewood, 152 km ( 94 miles), but it would also be a visit with Ebba and Severn, our neighbor Kjell’s parents, whose company we always enjoyed, plus they had offered us some birch to cut up as firewood, and I was always eager to get birch firewood.  I hooked up our utility trailer to the Scout, and we drove through a snowstorm to get to Purden Lake.

    After doing some visiting, sawing up, and loading the firewood, we were ready to haul the load back home to McBride, but Severn and Ebba insisted that we stay for supper, so we didn’t get off until 5:30 which meant driving in the dark.  All went well until we pulled onto our road in McBride.   Just a few miles from our house, I heard a noise and felt a jerk in the Scout which slowed us down, then I watched in dismay as one of the wheels from the utility trailer rolled past us, and come to rest in the ditch.

    I slammed on the breaks, stopped the car, got out and saw that the driver’s side trailer axil was wheel-less and resting on the road surface.  Not having ever experiencing such a thing, I retrieved the runaway wheel and discovered that its lug bolt holes were damaged beyond use, so I would have to figure out some other means of getting the trailer home.  Luckily, I was able to unhook the trailer from the car which allowed us to drive home, leaving the trailer where it was.

    We endured a heavy rain overnight and into the next day, but it didn’t stop me from having to deal with my abandoned utility trailer which I had left on the side of the road.  First I emptied all of the birch from the trailer and hauled it back to our house in the Scout. 

           Fortunately, I came up with a novel idea for getting the trailer back to our house.

           I positioned a long thick pole under the trailer axle where the wheel had come off, then pried up the end of the pole and lashed it to the corner of the trailer.   The bottom of the pole rested on the road, thus supporting the trailer on the wheel-less side.

           So with the trailer supported by the remaining wheel on one side and by the travois-like support on the other, I pulled/dragged the trailer back to our place.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have to go any further because the road-end of the pole began to quickly wear down as it scraped along the gravel road.   Fortunately, enough of the pole remained to get me to all the way to my driveway.

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Tuesday 11 June 2024

Sometimes You Just Have To Lie

        I photoshopped the picture I used on Sunday’s blog, to make the old trailer look closer to the way it was back in 1972, when the events in today’s blog happened.  I now realize that using an “untrue” photo is a good way to premise the story I am about to tell, where I had been forced to lie about the utility trailer.

        I had gotten the utility trailer from my father, who gave it to me when we had to haul all of our possessions up to Canada when we officially immigrated.  Once we had officially entered the country, I had the trailer, full of all our possessions, shipped up to the lumber mill camp where I was teaching school.   Once there, we unloaded all of our things, and put them into the new teacherage where we lived for the next two years.  The trailer was just parked unused, beside the teacherage for those two years.

        After those two years of teaching in the one-room school, we had enough of the isolation, of living in the lumber camp without any roads in or out.  I resigned the teaching job, and sought a position in a location that at least had a highway going to it.  I was hired to be the Head Teacher in a two-room school in Avola, BC, which was on Highway 5.

            I realized that when the school year ended, we would have to move all of our possessions out of the lumber camp.  Again, shipping the trailer loaded with all of our things out of the camp on a BC Rail flatbed car, to Ft. St. James, BC, where our car was parked.   I also realized that once I got the trailer out, there would be a problem, something I needed to deal with before any of that happened.

        The trailer still had the two year old Indiana license plate on it, and I needed to get a BC license plate, before we started to haul our things to the teacherage at my new job in Avola.

        During the Spring Break before the end of the school year, we were in Williams Lake, and so I took the opportunity to go to the BC License Branch there, to get a BC license plate for the trailer .  At the counter told them what I needed,  but I was confronted with a big complication.  They told me I would have to show the bill of sale from my father, and also a card from Canada Customs showing I had brought the trailer into the country , before I could get a BC license plate.  This presented a huge problem for me, and I didn’t know how to solve it.

        Two years earlier when we had immigrated with all of our things, I hadn’t even thought about putting the trailer on the list of items we were bringing into the country; I had only listed the stuff we brought in the utility trailer, totally overlooking the trailer itself, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the needed Canada Customs card.  I pleaded with the license branch bureaucrats, but they were unsympathetic and unbending.

        What could I do?   I needed a license for the trailer.  It was a real dilemma, and I could see no way out.  

        The next day as we drove up to Prince George and I came up with an idea.  I went to the License Branch there, and told them that I had made a utility trailer, and I needed to license it.  No sweat, they quickly gave me the license without any trouble.

        I am an honest person and I really hated lying, but sometimes you just have to.

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Monday 10 June 2024

Adventures With Our Old Utility Trailer

            I mentioned yesterday, about how instrumental our old utility trailer had been to our lives and how its usefulness was over and I was disassembling it so I could take the pieces to the dump.  Above you can see the skeleton of the old trailer.

            Here is the story of us entering Canada with the trailer full of our possessions when we immigrated:.

            We were dreading the border crossing into Canada, since we didn’t really know what expect, crossing with all of our possessions, but I handed my official immigrant forms to the Canada Custom Officer, and a list of all of the possessions we were bringing into Canada, and waited.  He gave a cursory look to the list, then peaked under the tarp on the trailer to see what was there.  He nodded his head and seemed okay with everything.   

                 I was secretly giving myself a sigh of relief, when the Canadian Custom Agent asked, “What about the trailer?”

                My heart sank, “The trailer, I forgot all about putting the trailer on the list.”  I explained about how my father gave it to me and answered all of the questions he had, and he said, “Okay” and then waved us on, across the border.

            We then gave a genuine sigh of relief as headed toward Fort St. James, BC, but we still had a few things to worry about.  Since we didn’t really have a home in Canada and had been living in a small camping trailer in the lumber mill camp where I was teaching, we had been depending upon the school district’s promised that a new full-sized mobile home would be there as a teacherage for the upcoming school year, but we hadn’t received any conformation that that had actually happened, and that there was a mobile home in camp waiting for us.   If it wasn’t, what were we going to do with all of the possessions we had just brought into Canada.  It included a lot of big items,  like furniture.  We would have no place to put it.

        I was relieved when I called the school district office and it was confirmed that the mobile home had been moved into camp, so all we had to do was to get all our possessions up to the camp, which had no road into the place. 

                The only way to do that was by train.  I contacted BC Rail, and made arrangement for a flatbed train car to carry our utility trailer from Fort St. James up to the Silvacan Resources camp on Takla Lake.

            This being done, I drove over to the train yard, and had a flatbed rail car moved to the loading ramp, then carefully backed the trailer up onto the flatbed.  I then had the job of securing the trailer to the flatbed.  I did that using metal cables which I had purchased.  I also blocked the wheels to prevent the utility trailer from rolling back an forth on its train ride.

            The train wasn’t scheduled to leave until the following day, and we were paranoid about leaving all of our worldly possessions just sitting there unguarded, in the empty train yard overnight, so we decided that we would spend the night sleeping in the Scout, which I parked beside the flatbed train car holding  our trailer, to keep an eye on it.

                We spent a pretty miserable night trying to sleep in the car, while at the same time watching for nothing, and by the time the sun began to come up, we were both feeling horrible, but with the daylight, some railroad workers appeared, and so we felt we could safely drive into town for some breakfast and last minute preparations before we returned to the railroad, and climbed onto the passenger car on the train for our trip into camp.

                The train finally left at 1:00 in the afternoon.  We, and all of our possessions, gently and slowly rocked our way back and forth, wondering what the new teacher age would be like, and thinking about all the preparations that would need to be done for the upcoming school year.

                In the passenger car there were about 10 other people, mostly Native who were making the trip, and after a bit of small talk, we settled in, lulled by the motion and click-clacking of the wheels on the track, nodded off and then suddenly jerking back to consciousness, for the next 10 hours, as forests, rivers, and lakes slid across the window.

            Upon arriving at camp at 11:00 at night, we hung around until we were sure that the flatbed carrying our trailer, was going to be transferred to the siding, then we slowly headed to the camp office, where we got the keys to the new teacherage, and let ourselves in. 

                The mobile home had the water hooked up, but not the electricity or heat, and since our bed and bedding were still on our trailer, we just ended up sleeping on the green shag carpet on the living room floor of our brand new home.

            The photo below shows the teacherage, a brand new mobile home.

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Sunday 9 June 2024

Farewell To The Trailer That Got Us Here

    The eyesore utility trailer that you see in the photo, has certainly played an important part in our lives.  It is what carried all the possessions we brought with us, when we immigrated to Canada (list below).  It also hauled those possessions from one place in BC to another, until we finally settled down after buying our house in McBride.   Then it hauled firewood and hay, until we finally retired it and let it rest in this spot for at least 35 years.  

    However, our needs change, and so yesterday I stripped all of the wood from the metal frame, in order that I can get the iron frame cut into pieces, which will then allow me to take iron to the metal recycling bin at the dump.

    It is interesting how attached we can get to the inanimate objects that have been useful and shared a good part of our lives.  I do have affection for this old utility trailer that my father gave me, but the time of its usefulness has ended.  It was sitting in an area that I need to clear in order to protect my shop from forest fires.

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Saturday 8 June 2024

A Field of Fluffy Balls

    A couple of days ago, I got my lawn trimmer and cut the small field of weeds on the far end of the pond’s dam.  When I cut it, the dandelion flower’s blooms were done and the tight capsule of seed had formed at the end of the stem.  

    I was surprised this morning while Kona and I took our walk around the pond to see that the area I had cut was now full of puffballs, that had formed from the seed capsules during the couple of days since I had cut the field.  The area covered with the white balls presented an interesting view.  Cut or not, the dandelions were determined to get their seeds out.

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Friday 7 June 2024

Local Color

    In a blog the other day I mentioned how the lyric:  “Deep greens and blues, are the color I choose.”  from the James Taylor song, “Sweet Baby, James” had always stuck with me, because those colors are also my favorites.  Looking around the Robson Valley in the springtime gives me a real dose of the greens and blues.  Here are a couple of photos that prove the point.

    This time of year, the leaves and grasses provide the greens, and the mountains provide the blues.  


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Thursday 6 June 2024

Crunch Time: Beginning a Stint as a Millworker

             In 1978, crunch time arrived for us.

             I had resigned four years of teaching in tiny communities living in teacherages that were provided by the school districts.   Without having a real home in Canada, we sought to buy a place of our own, in a community that we liked.  We purchased a house in McBride, with our savings, but without having a full time job.

        We had managed to scrape through a whole year doing temporary jobs,   I worked as a substitute teacher at the local schools, I managed to get a couple of months of work with the BC Forest Service after being a Time Keeper on a Forest Fire, and had done all kind of handyman jobs (painting a house, making signs for businesses, and digging up a clogged sewer line).  However, toward the end of 1978, things began getting economically dire for us.

    With no permanent employment available at the elementary school and the temporary work with the Forest Service over, reality set in and I knew I had better try to find some kind of regular employment.  One day in the fall, I had an appointment at Village Esso garage to get my snow tires put onto the Scout.   After dropping it off, I drummed up the courage to do some job hunting.  

    I walked down to the end of Main Street to the CN (the Canadian National Railroad) Station to check out the chances of working on the railroad.  CN employed a lot of local residents, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find the CN Roadmaster, who was the one who did the employing, so that ended up being an unproductive trip.

    With one “no go,” under my belt, I decided to try my luck at the Far West Cedar mill, so I hiked to the edge of town, crossed over the railroad tracks to their large mill yard; piled full of cedar logs at one end and stacks of the decorative split cedar rail fences that they had produced and bundled, at the other.  

  In the trailer that served as the Far West Office, I presented myself to Bob, the foreman of the outfit and made my inquiry.   He was very eager to have me and unexpectedly hired me on the spot, wanting to put me to start work immediately.

    After I explained that I really wasn’t wearing work clothes and that I had left the Scout at the garage, Bob took me out to his pickup truck and drove me home, so I could get into some work clothes. Once I was properly attired, he drove me back at the mill, where I was put to work manhandling 6 foot long cedar fence posts, using a machine to bevel their ends, before stacking them in a bin.

    The next day, my first full day as a millworker, was also Halloween.  I had to get up at 6:30 so I could be at Far West at 7:00.  The mill building was a huge T-shaped metal quonset hut that was pretty much open on all three ends.  There were some large sliding doors on the end where I worked, but they were generally left wide open, so obviously the building wasn’t heated and the workers had to dress accordingly.  I did begin to wonder what it was going to be like to work there during the cold winter to come.

    I was put to work on a machine that drilled five inch elongated holes in the fences posts, which held the split cedar rails.  My task was to grab a split cedar post, lay it on the drill table, then pull a lever that lowered a unit of three drills down, boring through the post.  Then I lifted the post from the drill table, putting it into a large steel cradle that held them until it was stacked full, at which time I had to climb up on it then bind the bundle with a steel ribbon.

    Lugging the cedar fence posts around was very physical work, especially the 3-holed split cedar  posts which were 6’6” (2m) long.  I would sometimes drill 560 posts a day and bundle them into 7 bound lifts.  For my forty hours of work I got a paycheck of $535.  

    It was hard exhausting physical work, but it provided us with the steady income we needed to live and develop our newly purchased home.

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Wednesday 5 June 2024

Twin Lupine

    Lupine are one of my favorite plants.  I find everything about them, their foliage, their buds, and their blooms, very photogenic, and so as a result, I have taken hundreds of photos of them over the years.

Despite the number of lupine photos I already have, when I saw these “twin towers” standing so close together, almost like a reflection, I couldn’t help but to take yet another shot.

    These budding flowers will stretch out to a foot  (30cm) in length as they mature.  My lupine have spread into big patches, and come up every year.  

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Tuesday 4 June 2024

Be Careful Who You Tell

The protection of wildlife has always been a major concern of mine.  It has always saddened me that whenever I had an experience viewing some type of exotic wildlife, that I had to be very careful about who I told it to, because there were trophy hunters and some unethical poachers in the Valley. 


        On one alpine hike I was on, we spotted a small herd of Mountain Goats on a distant slope.  Seeing Mountain Goats was a rare and thrilling thing for me, and what made the experience even more unique was that inside a cave like depression on the rocky slope, was a mother Mountain Goat with two kids.  I assumed the cave was a sheltered place where the goats birthed.

        That spotting of the mountain goats and the kids on the hike, was one example where I was very cautious about who I told my experience to.  I realized that if word got around about the herd of Mountain Goats, some sexually inadequately-feeling male, would want to go up there, shoot the biggest goat, so he could hang its head on his living room wall to prove what a macho-man he was.

During one of the Environmental Coalition meetings I attended, someone reported that there was a ring of local poachers killing grizzly bears for trophies.  I can’t express how much contempt I have for such lowlifes.

I often had to refrain myself even with news about something like seeing a black bear, who are fairly common around here.   A few years after moving to McBride, my wife and I enjoyed watching a black bear eating dandelions in our pasture.   We phoned our neighbors Kjell and Celine, who then came over to join us watching the bear.

When they returned home, Alistair, another neighbor, came by their house to return their lawn mower which he had borrowed.  Kjell and Celine, naturally told him about seeing the bear in our pasture, which caused Alistair to make a quick retreat home.  Later that evening, I heard gunshots ring out.   Alistair must have been on the lookout for the bear and when wandered onto his property, he shot it.  I saw the corpse in the back of his truck the next day.  I think he wanted a bearskin rug to decorate his living room.

Our good friend JJ, an ex-neighbor, had moved to Prince George to live, but he would periodically return to McBride to check up on his cabin.  On one of his trips back, he found the carcass of a black bear on the long driveway down to his place.  The dead bear had had its paws and gall bladder removed.  Those bear parts had recently been in the news, as being valuable in the Chinese medicine market.

Hearing JJ’s discovery of the bear corpse, reminded Kjell that he had seen a small black bear cub wandering around the neighborhood, so we suspected it had been the cub’s mother that had been killed on JJ’s driveway.  Hearing about the cub, increased our depression about the poaching. 

        There is just no basement to what some jerks will do for money.

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Monday 3 June 2024

Its a Kitten !

    One day after leaving the Forestry office, as I was about to bicycle home, I met my neighbor Kjell, who was also starting to bike home, so we made the ride together.  When we started through the wooded “Moccasin Flats” area, down by the Fraser River, I thought I heard a yelp/screech sound  coming from the bush at the edge of the road.  I pulled my bike over, got off, and went to investigate.

        I didn’t really know what to expect, but what I found was a tiny Siamese kitten.  Sadly, our rural road seems to be one of those places where people from town go to dump the cats they don’t want.  I took pity on the poor thing, and brought it home (actually it was Kjell, who put it in the pannier bag on his bike to carry the kitten home).  Once at home, I took tiny critter to my barn and made it a cozy bed using a blanket in a basket.  I also gave it some food to eat.

    When I checked on the kitten the next morning, it seemed to have adopted the barn as its home.  When I opened the barn door to let the goats outside into to the paddock, a panicked mouse ran right past the kitten, who instinctively turned and sort of chased after the mouse, which I thought was a good sign for a barn cat.   In the afternoon when I got home from work that day, the kitten was asleep in its basket, so it seemed to have established itself in the barn.

    The next day when I let the goats into the pasture, I grabbed the kitten and carried it out there with them, so it could get some sunshine.  It played around entertaining itself in the grass.  Then I noticed that the goats had begun to go through a hole in the fence trying to get into the garden.  I ran over to chase them out of the garden and back into the pasture.  Once I had them back in the pasture, I  realized the kitten was no longer there. 

         I began calling calling the cat, but I didn’t really know if  it would respond to a call, but amazingly, it did and began mewing and walking toward me from the direction of the house.  

    I approached it, stooped over grabbing it, and then stood up.  When I stood up, a hawk I hadn’t noticed, panicked and flew away.  Then I noticed that a Golden Eagle had just landed on the top of the big spruce tree near the house, it too then took off.  I’m pretty sure they both were after the little kitten for their supper.

From then on, I kept a better watch over the little kitten when it was outside.

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Sunday 2 June 2024

McBride's Pioneer Days Parade

    It was a showery day yesterday, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of McBride’s Pioneer Day Parade.  There weren’t as many participants in this year’s parade.  I don’t know what happened to all of the antique cars and trucks that normally show up, but like always, there were a few things that caught my eye.  The customized lawn mower was the most memorable for me, but I also liked the acrobatic horse riding girls and the covered wagon.


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Saturday 1 June 2024

Dumping the Recycling into the Trash

    We, like a majority of people in the Robson Valley, have been recycling for decades.  Because of McBride’s distance from urban centers, what we can recycle is limited.  We cannot recycle glass for instance, but we have been able to recycle, our cans, plastic food containers, and paper.  Those products are then sent to Prince George to be recycled, or at least they were.

    Because the trucking company, is no longer interested in hauling those things, we now have no option, except to put those formally recycled items in the trash.  The end of the recycling hauling was supposed to terminated today, so yesterday, I made a special trip to the dump to drop what we had, off.  Sadly, when I got there, I was told that the trucking company had done their last haul days ago, so the photo shows that the cans and containers we had washed and saved to be recycled, going into the trash bin.

    It seems that Recycle BC is making some big changes, and I am not at all optimistic the changes will make things better for McBride.  It has already been indicated that Dunster, the hamlet east of McBride, will lose all their recycling operation, and McBride’s will be downgraded.  The new system will not come into effect until October, so I guess until then, all of the formally recycled items will just go into the trash containers.

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