Friday, 16 September 2011

Dawes Hill - Part 3

There are three items that I should have added to the previous blog - I will include them here.

One year Tom Wesley painted his living/dining room in preparation of June's birthday celebration thereby horrifying his older daughters. The room was a long rectangle with a drop light in the middle of the ceiling. What Tom did was to paint in a different pastel color out from each corner. At the drop light he moved each color one space to the right. The pastels were rose, mauve, green and yellow. I - and some of the other guests - found the new color scheme (the room was drab before) quite delightful.

Also, at the local Ratepayers Association, Mom and Dad met a couple who owned a few acres up beside the rear gate to the mental hospital. On that land they had planted a number of raspberry canes and they needed pickers. I was in Junior High by this time and needed some money to buy new clothes for the approaching school year (as did Alda). When I received my pay I went into New Westminster to a men's clothing store where I purchased what I considered to be a very smart outfit. Now I wouldn't be caught dead in that style!

As I mentioned in the Family Tree blog, my Granddad - Mom's step-father - was raised in Theodore, Saskatchewan. Not long after the end of World War II he and Grandma took a trip back there to visit a cousin. This cousin's youngest son was a teenager, no longer in school - and at loose ends - so my grandparents invited him to come out to B.C. Dad was able to secure a job for Hubert at Capilano Timber and he boarded with us.

Before Hubert arrived his dad's second wife, Alice, and daughter, Yvonne, came out to the Coast. They stayed with Grandma and Granddad and used our place as the jumping off point for visits to Vancouver and North Vancouver.

In those days the easiest way to get to North Van was by a car ferry from downtown Vancouver. Grandma took them over there to visit with great aunts Emma and Edith. When they returned from that visit we were amused by Yvonne's description of the outing. They had crossed on the ferry which she described as 'that huge ship'! Being from Saskatchewan she had never seen a ferry before.

Hubert's oldest brother - and his hero - joined the Air Force in World War II and his aircraft had been shot down somewhere over Europe. When Hubert had had enough of the mill he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force too and was sent to Trenton, Ontario for basic training. We went into New Westminster to see him off.

The oldest trans-continental railway in Canada is the Canadian Pacific which follows the southern route. Later the Grand Trunk Pacific was built and, when it showed signs of failing, the Canadian Government purchased it and it became known as the Canadian National. As that was the railroad that the Government owned - that was the railroad that Federal personnel rode on - so that was the train that Hubert boarded in order to travel to the Air Force Base at Trenton, Ontario.

In B.C., the CPR used the northern route through the Fraser Valley while the Canadian National traveled along the southern shore, When the train pulled out of the station we left for home. On the other side of the river there were a number of grade crossings at which the train blew its whistle. As - by that time - we were living up on the hill again - we could hear the sound of that whistle for a long time. Such a sad sound.

The house that Dad had agreed to build around us was not proceeding very well so, when he learned that former neighbors up on the hill were trying to rent out their original house, he made inquiries and was successful.

Although it is much remodeled since we lived there - this is the Finnegan House as it looks today (June 2014). Again - many thanks to Michael W. of Vancouver who drove out to Coquitlam the other day and sent me 4 or 5 photos of the 'Finnegan House'. It has been much remodeled and the porch which extended from the back door around to the corner seen in the photo has been removed (or  completely enclosed). The window on the second floor and at this corner of the house is in my former bedroom.

These neighbors, the Finnegan family, had built a smaller house for themselves (they were 'empty nesters') two lots down the road. Our 'new house' was larger and roomier than the previous houses in which we had lived. The main entrance off of the driveway was through the kitchen door which opened into a cavernous room. To the right was a dining room, a left turn there led one into the living room. Immediately on the left of that doorway was the staircase that led up to four bedrooms and the bathroom on the second floor.

The only fixture in that bathroom was the bathtub. As an 'after thought' the original occupants had converted a pantry off of the kitchen into a toilet with a wash basin. As in many homes, the kitchen was the main gathering place so the proximity of the toilet made for interesting conversations!

Mr and Mrs Finnegan wanted to sell the house and asked only $2500 for it. Dad and Mom visited the financial institutions in New Westminster looking for a mortgage. Coquitlam was an organized municipality by that time but the banks refused to extend credit to people who lived outside of the city.

That was the one time that I saw Dad crying - he so much wanted a house for his family but was being denied. Our friend, Jim Mackie, heard of our predicament so he went to his bank, used his securities as collateral and was able to hand the money to Dad. All Jim required was that the principal be paid back over a period of time - he absorbed the interest himself.

Now we had a grand house - in size that is - and it soon became Grand Central Station! By this time all of the Poirier family - except for Mrs. Poirier - had moved to the Cariboo. Their Mom had sold the original home and had moved into an apartment so we became their stopping place on visits to The Coast.

Sometimes they arrived with friends who had never been to the 'Big City' before and this generated a lot of hilarity. One of the Poirier girls - Roseanna - brought a girl friend down with her. One of Roseanna's errands was to visit an office in New Westminster's tallest building. This meant taking an elevator up and the girl - who had never seen an elevator before - screamed! Also, they took in a movie and the guest was overwhelmed by all the 'little movies' which accompanied the main feature.

We moved into that house in March, 1951 and owned it until 1966 - just after Dad died.

We had a large window in the kitchen of this house and, as the house was on the brow of the hill, we had a glorious view of some of the mountains. This double peak is called Golden Ears and it is located in Garibaldi Park north of the municipality of Maple Ridge. The reason behind the unusual name is - when viewed from the west - the two peaks appear to be closer together and they look like two ears of an animal and the 'ears' appear to be in an upright position. In the light of the setting sun they are golden in hue.   

Also we could see Mt Baker - one of the volcanoes found in the northwest. It is in northern Washington State and south of the B.C. city of Abbotsford. We knew that it was an active volcano but I never saw any proof until I was on a flight from Vancouver to Chicago. On the south side of the main cone is a smaller peak and, at the base of it, is a rent in the snow over which we flew. It was brown from the escaping vapors. Like all but one of the peaks in the chain - that one is Blackcomb up near Whistler - it is a dormant - but not dead - volcano.

I do not remember when - exactly - the Port Mann Bridge was erected but it crosses the Fraser River at the bottom of the hill below the 'Finnegan House'. The road which crosses the river at this point is Highway 1 - the Trans-Canada Highway. Once again I want to honour the generosity of Michael W. of Vancouver for giving me the privilege of being able to post this photo. Yes, the mountain seen in the background is Mt Baker,

We  could not see Maillardville nor Fraser Mills although we could still hear that booming whistle.

In closing, I wish to thank Michael W. again for sharing his photos. The scenes that I have posted above were taken by him from the Municipality of Pitt Meadows some ten to fifteen miles east of Dawes Hill.


  1. these have been fascinating stories, Ernie. I am amazed at your memory and your ability to see the past so clearly. None of my memories are connected the way yours are

  2. I do not expect that there will be any more photos to be placed in this blog.