Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alda's Family

My older sister, Alda, met her husband-to-be when she was a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding in the hamlet of Forest Grove (near 100 Mile House, B.C.) in the late 1950s.

The bride was Roseanna Poirier whose family had lived up the lane from us when we first moved to the Dawes Hill area.

All of the Poiriers - except their mother, Albertine - had moved one-by-one to the Cariboo. When they came down to The Coast for vacation or on business they always crashed at our house so our connection with them was strong. Indeed, at one time, Mom had some medical problems and it was Albertine who came and looked after us during that interim.

Leo, as the oldest son, had left school before we moved to Dawes Hill and had followed some of his friends up to the 100 Mile House area where he established himself in the forestry industry.
               Mom and Dad with a beloved Pomeranian pet visiting Alda and Leo

Alda and he married each other in October, 1956 and had five kids - Donna, Mark, Shane, Todd and Karen. As I have mentioned, Leo worked in the forest industry living in fairly remote bush camps near Canim Lake (actually - for the longest time - at an unorganized community named Eagle Creek). We - individually and as a family - went up there to visit as often as we could. While I was in Prince George I drove down to Eagle Creek on a number of occasions. My nephews and nieces and I got along famously. My diaries record that, often, I was awakened by my nephews piling on top of me for a roughhouse while their Mom was preparing breakfast.

Occasionally the scanner increases the size of the photo - but not the content! Here is Alda's tribe - plus neighbor kids - on top of the knoll looking down on Canim Lake

At the back of their house was a steep and brush covered knoll. The kids and I would climb to the top from where we could see over the trees to beautiful Canim Lake. Also we dreamed up a game involving frisbees. We would begin in a circle and toss the frisbee to each other. Often our aim was not all that accurate so we would have to move to catch it. The rule was that we had to remain where we caught the toy and toss it to the next in the circle from there. This led to improbable and hilarious situations - and we had a ball.

The photo above is of Canim Lake while peaceful.

Returning to that wedding weekend many of the group - and especially Dad - were avid fishermen. The day had been hot and the thought of a couple of hours out in a rowboat on Canim Lake was very appealing. Six or eight of us drove down to a resort on Canim Lake where we rented a rowboat and went out. The lake - never more than a mile wide (if that!) - wound through the high hills. Suddenly to the west of us huge thunder clouds appeared. We could see the lightning and hear the thunder so Dad turned our boat around and headed for the shore. Unfortunately, where we were the shore was lined with big rocks so we couldn't land safely and had to keep going back towards the resort. With pandemonium all around us suddenly a motorboat appeared heading up the lake to the saw mill community at the far end. We were not sure if the guy in that boat saw us or not so Dad had to row hard in order for us to be out of his path. Thankfully he missed us - and, as far as we knew - reached his destination safely. That lovely lake nestled in the valley in the low mountains is known for being deadly under certain conditions.

When we reached the shore Roseanna's youngest brother - Roland - said that he had left his fingerprints embedded indelibly in the side of that rowboat!

A few years later we all went up to visit Alda and Leo during the May long weekend and, then, the current logging claim was well back in the bush. There was no room for me to sleep in their home but, as it was a long weekend, the single guys had gone out to civilization for the holiday so I went to sleep in the bunkhouse. As soon as we were all bedded down Leo went to the gasoline operated power generator and shut it off. I have never experienced silence like that before or since - I could hear nothing except the air passing over my ears!

Leo's most endearing trait was that he could be embarrassed very easily and his face would turn beet red. One incident of that was told to us when we met him. One pioneer family in that area were the Sandbacks who were looked upon as the 'rich people'. There was a community hall in Forest Grove where they brought their movie projector and rented films for movie nights. Especially when the movie advertised was a Western, Indians from the local reservation (The 'Rancherie') would come en masse. Leo's task was to string out the sound cord from the projector to the amplifier and, while he was doing that, one of the Indian tykes ran to him, threw its arms around one of his legs and loudly said, "Daddy!". Everybody present roared in laughter while Leo blushed.

A number of years later Alda and Leo were with friends in the pub in the hotel in 100 Mile House. Whereas there had been separation between single men and 'Ladies and Escorts' in alcohol serving establishment in B. C., that rule had been revoked. However, the Indians still followed the old rule - the women were in the 'Ladies and Escorts' part while the men were in the part originally reserved for males only. When it was time for them to depart one of the men came over to where he could see into the other section and signaled to the women that they were leaving. The women arose and, while passing the table where Alda, Leo and their friends were sitting, one of the Indian women put her hands on Leo's shoulder and said, "I'll be waiting outside when you want me!". Alda and the rest of their party roared while Leo giggled and turned crimson. Alda teased Leo about that incident for a long time after.

On one of my visits to Eagle Creek, Leo woke me early one morning - he was having an appendicitis attack. I arose and took him in my car on the fairly long drive to the hospital in 100 Mile House, saw that he was being attended to, drove back to Eagle Creek where Alda had arranged for a neighbor to look after the kids, and took her out to the hospital. Alda had not yet learned to drive but now she drives all over the place to visit her extended family.

Leo and Alda did build a house in Forest Grove and then, when he retired, they bought a newly constructed house in 100 Mile. Leo passed away in August 2004.

No comments:

Post a Comment