Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC


To all Legion members, both past and present;

Also to all members of the communities of Fraser Lake, Fort Fraser, Endako, Stellat’en and Nautleh;

I have felt the need to write this letter for some time now and I feel it is time to follow through on it.  On May 25th I attended the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Stellat’en Hall.  In my opinion, the event was a huge success in celebrating volunteers in our three communities by letting them know we appreciate their effort and in doing so encourages one another to continue investing into our communities.  However, the reality of the fact is much more sobering. We, like many organizations within the community, need more people stepping out and helping. I have talked to so many organizations and they all say the same thing, “We are in desperate need for more volunteers”.

As President of the Fraser Lake branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, I loudly echo this.  Not-for-Profit organizations thrive and are nourished through volunteers, for without them we will starve.   We are all gifted differently and we all have different personalities and we must learn to work together. People may disappoint, insult and hurt us; however they also encourage, support, value and edify us as well.  Nothing gives you a sense of accomplishment as much as being involved in a cause knowing all you get in return is the satisfaction of a job well done, a smile, a hug or even better, a new friend.  These are the benefits of volunteering.

A community isn’t just a bunch of houses in the same area – a community is defined by its people. The Fraser Lake Legion has been a part of our community for over 40 years and a part of Canada for the past 92 years.  It is not just a pub nor even just a café. These are our sources of revenue so that we might provide the our main service to those in the community such as Veterans, emergency services, senior meals, senior sports and various community events.  The Legion would like it to be made known that it does not exist to compete or rivial with another business or venture. It exists to support and aid in our community – young and old. We have changed the rules to include to family as much as possible.  Children are free to come and go as long as the kitchen is open. If the pub is open they need to have an adult with them.  You don’t need to be a member to come in and we welcome any suggestions. We exist to support our veterans and their families, as well as our community.

Simply stated, the Fraser Lake Legion is at a critical stage. In order to continue operating it needs the engagement of its community.  The Legion is looking for a volunteer coordinator as well as people to fill in for various positions such as bartending, cooking, kitchen helpers, meal delivery, etc. The executive has been working nonstop going above and beyond and would like to give a big shout out to Dale Peck who has so often donated his equipment and time for Karaoke and dances.  The Legion appreciates all his help and all the others who pitch in and work so hard, however, the Legion need commitments with follow through. We need more people willing to engage.

If you would consider committing one day a month to volunteering it would make a world of difference.  If not at the Legion, at another serviced based organization such as Autumn Services, the Men’s Shed, the Crisis Center, the Arts Council, the Fire Department or any number of volunteer run organizations within Fraser Lake or the surrounding communities of Stellat’en and Naudleh Whut’en. Volunteers are desperately needed everywhere as communities that play together, stay together.

We have felt the loss of various businesses over the past few years, as well as gained a few more.  We recognize those few who were willing to step up to the plate and fill in the need. Unfortunately, the Legion and like many other service based organizations in our community, can not be replaced.  Where else would Veterans go for support?   Where else would another seek the services provided by those others listed above? There is no place else, for they are irreplaceable.

Buy local, volunteer local and together we will grow a great community.


Several years ago the Fraser Lake & District Historical Society published a DVD that featured 3 historical presentations I had composed back in 1997 or 98 when I was employed by the Village of Fraser Lake to help develop our little museum.

I was extremely pleased that the Society had put forth forth the funding to transform the collection of almost 200 slides and accompanying audio tapes into digital productions, which together with the technical and performing talents of Jean-Luc Lemire, I was pleased to help develop into DVDs.

Thanks to Richard Cannon and Mickey Bisanz who helped with initial funding, the society was able to produce several hundred copies of the DVD. There are still a number of copies available for only $10.00 from Society members.

The first presentation on the DVD “The Collins Overland Telegraph Trail” explains the conundrum voiced by Fraser Lake pioneers about which side of the lake did the old telegraph line pass through our area: there were actually two telegraph lines: the first was on the south [town] side of the lake and the other, nearly 50 years later, followed through along the north shore.

The second presentation titled “The History of Fraser Lake & Area” is composed of 75 slides, narrated by Jean-Luc with background music from “Fraser Country” which many people remember as oldtime tunes played by Bessie Whitehead and her musical friends.

I found the following script for the Fraser Lake History spiel on my computer.

  1. Many thousands of years ago, the central interior of British Columbia lay buried beneath a solid mass of ice.
  2. As the air became warmer the ice receded, leaving huge lakes and rushing rivers in its wake.
  3. The land grew lush with vegetation and people began coming in from the north and from the south.
  4. The Carrier Natives of Fraser Lake are descendents of people who called themselves Ta-cullies, meaning “those who go upon water.”
  5. The Carriers developed their own culture and language. Messages painted on rocks have survived the centuries
  6. In the spring of the year waterfowl were plentiful. The rest of the year the Carrier subsisted mainly on fish.
  7. An important food source were the sockeye salmon runs, which occurred in the late summer and early fall.
  8. Winter villages were established near the rivers, where the salmon came up in great numbers to spawn.
  9. Weirs were built across the rivers. The fish were trapped in large funnel-shaped baskets made of willow.
  • The baskets were emptied into cottonwood dugout canoes, and the salmon were taken out to be cleaned and dried in the sun.
  • Simon Fraser was the first white man in the Fraser Lake area. In September of 1806 he established a fur trading post near the native village of Nautley.
  • The post- later named Fort Fraser- was located in the vicinity of what is now Beaumont Provincial Park.
  • For more than a century, the Native people of Fraser Lake traded the hides of beaver and other animals at the Hudson Bay Company post.
  • This sketch of a Hudson Bay Company canoe on the shores of Stuart Lake, was drawn by a travelling artist in about 1874.
  • The artist sketched one of the few joyful occasions that brightened the lonely life of a Hudson Bay Company trader.
  • Catholic missionaries – known as Oblate fathers- established a church at Nautley Village in 1903.
  • The bearded man in the top row is pioneer Oblate Father A. J. Morice. In 1920 he opened an addition to the old church at Stellaquo.
  • The Yukon Telegraph Line was put through to the Klondike Gold Fields in 1901. It followed the old Collins Overland Telegraph Trail which was never completed.
  • The Telegraph trail became the main transportation route into the Fraser Lake area.
  • Huge packs of supplies were transported over the telegraph trail, on the backs of horses and mules.
  • When the Blackwater Road was built in 1910, early settlers such as Howard Foote were able to bring in wagons and supplies left in storage at Quesnel.
  • Ernest Peters was in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Post at Fraser Lake for many years. In 1910 he was appointed Sherriff of the Cariboo.
  • In 1911 Sherriff Peters rode in the famous Sans Car when it stopped in Fort George on the way to Hazelton. The car had to be disassembled at Fort Fraser, and transported through the bush on packhorses.
  • A year later John Ruttan of the rapidly developing town-site of Fort Fraser, drove his automobile into the community.
  • Most of the lumber for the houses and other buildings at the Fort Fraser town-site had been cut in John Ruttan’s steam-powered sawmill.
  • A brick mill was set up near Fort Fraser for the construction of chimneys and other masonry work.
  • The Fort Fraser Hotel was built in 1913. Later it was managed by the Tittemore family.
  • The United Church Manse was also constructed in 1913. The first minister was the Reverend Peter Pilkey.
  • The town-site of Fraser Lake was surveyed in 1908 by pioneer surveyor, Frank Swannell.
  • At that time the only house in town was the Murray cabin, nestled below what is now known as Mouse Mountain.
  • Just east of Fraser Lake was the cabin built in 1906 by Yukon Telegraph lineman, Harry Leduke. The fragile old building has been relocated to its present location behind the museum and restored by the Fraser Lake & District Historical Society.
  1. In 1912 a road was finally built along the south side of the lake, linking the town-site of Fraser Lake to the rest of the world.
  • The Braithwaite family, who homesteaded near Robertson’s Beach, no longer had to bring in all their supplies by boat.
  • In 1913 the Reverend William Sweetnam was postmaster at Fraser Lake. He established his first Anglican Church, called St. Pauls, at the Fraser Lake town-site.
  • The “end of steel” of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad was slowly approaching the Fraser Lake area.
  • Dynamite was used to cut through canyons and rock bluffs. The “big cut” below Mouse Mountain took two years to complete.
  • Construction camps were everywhere. Bostrum and Green had a large camp near Fort Fraser.
  • In the spring of 1914 track-laying crews, from both directions, were racing to finish up at a central point: one-quarter mile east of Fort Fraser.
  • On April 8, 1914 the long-awaited railway, which linked Prince Rupert BC with Eastern Canada, was completed.
  • Endako was established as a divisional point for the railway. A brick roundhouse was built, and an engine turn-about, as well as the tallest water tower on the line.
  • The roundhouse accommodated boilers and other equipment which was taken off the trains for repairs.
  • The Stella School opened in 1914, in an abandoned railroad construction building approximately 3 miles east of Endako.
  • In 1919, Dan Webster, Bert Black and Merle Hartman constructed a sawmill at the Fraser Lake town-site.
  • A year later Msrs. Gayer and Connelly of Endako established a general store in Fraser Lake.
  • The Tittimore family moved to a farm on the north-shore of Fraser Lake in 1920.
  • The first resident dentist, Dr Bamford, constructed the Bamford family home in the Nithi Valley in 1919. The building is still standing.
  • The Nithi River School was also built in 1919, on the Bamford property,
  • During the 1920s sturgeon weighing as much as 500 pounds were caught in Fraser Lake and shipped to gourmet markets across the continent.
  • One fisherman, known as Fisherman George, used to picket live sturgeon to the Fraser Lake wharf and butcher them on Wednesdays, the day the fish train was due.
  • The lake provided a natural rink for hockey games and other winter activities.
  • A steam-powered sternwheeler named The Bluenose was built by the sawmill company to tow booms of logs on Fraser Lake.
  • In 1927 Tommie Hawker became the first water skier on Fraser Lake, when he stood up on a board and sped across the water behind the Bluenose stern-wheeler.
  • The Fraser Lake schoolhouse, built in 1920, doubled as a community hall.
  • The Fraser Lake Hotel was owned by the Brindamour family. It burned to the ground in 1937.
  • The Lejac Residential School for Indian children was built in 1922. It closed its doors in June 1976.
  • In 1928 Sandy Annan constructed a hotel in Endako that was described as, “the classiest building of its kind along the railroad line between Prince George and Prince Rupert.”The building is still standing and in use.
  • The cutting and selling of ties to the railroad was an ongoing source of income for many local residents.

Grain was grown and harvested successfully in the Nechako Valley, and to a lesser extent, in the Fraser Lake area.

  • The annual log-drive on the Stellako River was usually held in June. The pike-pole in the foreground was poised to catch the boatman, if he became caught in the fast water above the falls.
  • The logs were towed in booms to the sawmill at Fraser Lake.
  • In the early nineteen thirties, young Bruce Ray earned 50 cents a barrel for delivering water to Fraser Lake households, in a stone-boat towed by the family cow.
  • The second Fraser Lake Sawmills store, constructed in 1942, contained a battery pack storage system that provided the first electric lights to Fraser Lake homes and businesses.
  • The Nithi Valley Rodeo, held on the Burn’s place in the nineteen-thirties, attracted visitors from as far away as Ootsa Lake and Fort St James.
  • One year Harvey MacDonald placed first in the steer-riding competition.
  • Construction of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River in the nineteen-fifties, provided employment for many local residents.
  • The dam was completed in 1952. It effectively blocked off the headwaters of one of the largest rivers in the Central Interior.
  • In 1956 the Skins Dam Spillway was completed. It diverted excess water into the Cheslatta River, which in turn increased the flow on the Nechako to its present level.
  • The Endako Molybdenum Mine opened in 1965. For 17 years it was the main source of employment in Fraser Lake. After 4 years closure, the mine reopened in 1986.
  • The mine, which in its heyday processed more than 30,000 metric tons of ore a day, was the largest open pit molybdenum mine in Canada.
  • Fraser Lake was chosen as the company town-site. Its population swelled from approximately 100 to more than 1700 .
  • In 1977 Fraser Lake Sawmills shut down its sawmill and planing mill facility at Fort Fraser which had been in operation – off and on- since 1942.
  • The company also shut down its sawmill at Fraser Lake, which had been in operation – at various locations- since 1919.
  • Both operations were amalgamated into a large sawmill and planing mill complex located just east of Lejac.
  1. White Swan Park, which for many years was the site of a noisy, bustling sawmill, is now a beautifully landscaped stretch of waterfront bordering the Village of Fraser Lake.
  • THE END   [final slide]                                                                                                          There is a third presentation on the DvD titled “Fraser Lake Tales ‘N Trails” which I compiled from a collection of Angus Davis’s great slides. I added a few of my own pics and others and narrated a rhyming script celebrating our beautiful scenery, as I saw it, back in the 1980s. (Includes a neat sequence from Mouse Mountain Days back then)


Last week I  had the opportunity to stroll through the most painful, gaping, oozing societal wound that lies hidden within one of the most beautiful cities in our land. It was my first time ever on East Hastings Street, which borders Vancouver’s funky Gastown and historic Chinatown.

East Hastings is only a few blocks from the familiar and somewhat more prosperous area where my son resides, which is also part of what has been termed the Downtown Eastside. I was familiar with observing people who were obviously drug addicted or mentally ill. It was such a shame, I’d often thought, that my fellow human beings had to sleep in doorways because they were homeless. Thank goodness my son had comfortable lodgings and three square meals a day!

East Hastings was shocking to me because of the large number of people lying side by side (but not together) along the sidewalks in a state of disarray; blankets and clothing strewn everywhere; shopping baskets loaded with belongings, some actually filled with items for sale: Downtown Eastside entrepreneurs!

The Gallery Gachet, where my son Bruce has been engaged in writing and painting for the past twenty years, was until recently located inside an historic old building on Cordova Street above what was rumoured to be a tunnel where nefarious goings on had occured in the old days. Trouble was rent had risen to 4000 dollars a month and mental health dollars had shrunk. An old hotel on East Hastings became available and has since been transformed into a clean and roomy venue for mental health drop-in and support services, as well as artistic expression. A nearby restaurant has offered additional space for hanging paintings.

Mike and Chris (Boxer Press) had been impressed after browsing through Bruce’s graphic art manuscript. They decided his book “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” was worthy of their criteria which was to focus on societal issues. The story “Blue Lipstick” particularly rings true for me because it’s about a woman coming to terms with breast cancer. On September 22nd, my daughter Fern, her husband Ron, his mother Grace and my cousin Florence were welcomed into the Gallery Gachet for a lovely well attended launch of Bruce’s book.

Although Gallery Gachet has been relocated to the “underbelly” of the Downtown Eastside, there is a growing spirit of hope and compassion in the air for the sidewalk residents of East Hastings Street. Artistic endeavors do bring people together and perhaps what has been termed “outsider art” will one day become the new Van Gogh classics to be hung on walls in the very best of homes and museums.

I went to the wildfire information meeting at Stelat’en Hall last night. Of course we were all hoping for good news about the two big fires affecting our area. But the only good news at all was that the monstrous Island Lake fire which has caused the evacuation order of Nithi Valley and Dahlgren Rd residents, was presently headed in a south-easternly direction. That meant the one extremity of the 7000 hectare fire, which is only 13 kms from the Village of Fraser Lake, is not going our way. At least not until the wind changes.

The Recreation Complex site is where nearly 200 fire fighters are battling the blazes raging in the district during their shifts and and then returning to sleep in tiny multi-colored dome tents. The soccer field looks as if gigantic mushrooms are sprouting up in an expanse of dry grass.

The hard surface of the arena has been designated to be used for evacuees from the fires continuing to  burn in the Bulkley Nechako Regional District. These include the huge Shovel Lake fire which has kept Savory Road and Coreyville residents in a state of constant “Evacuation Alert” for several weeks. The fire is now 5700 hectares in size, with rapid fire growth, although presently in a northerly direction.  The people residing in the Fraser Lake/Fort Fraser & Endako area are very much threatened by two of the largest and most active fires in the province!

At last night’s meeting there was discussion about why there are only 20 fire fighters deployed to fight the Island Lake Fire. Unexperienced workers cannot be hired despite recent training sessions. We were told that “Industry” has been very helpful in assisting and that there are 16 helicopters in constant use.

The Regional District has issued a State of Emergency but so far, despite the extreme danger to population, cattle, wildlife etc. the Province has not issued a similar State of Emergency declaration. There has been little or no mention of our dilemma on any of the media outlets, whether local or provincial. (Are we just “chopped liver” so to speak?)

Another problem is the smoke and fly ash in the air. Many of us have to stay indoors in this extremely unhealthy conditions. And, according to weather forecasters the hot, dry weather will continue on for perhaps 2 more weeks, with no rain predicted. Scarey!












Well, I hear the Legion is in need of a new cook once again and my old camp cooking muscles are twitching. Not twitching much because they would find me dead on the kitchen floor after the first hour. (Actually I think I could last 2 or even 3 hours, if I had a nap every 15 minutes)

I would like to put in my nickle’s worth of advice about how to feed a senior. I’m referring to the Senior Meals Program that are prepared and delivered from the Fraseer Lake Legion kitchen each and every week day. Only 9 dollars for entree, soup or salad, a homemade bun (Erica makes the best buns!) and dessert. The meals are delivered to your door between 3:30 and 4pm (We need more volunteer drivers by the way.)

Each of our cooks have been excellent and have offered a wonderful variety of meals. (I’m sorry to hear Corey is leaving. I really liked the way he prepared sweet and sour pork and salisbury steak)

One problem for me is that I am a senior and as such, wear dentures (I have chewing challenges) I also have taste challenges and do not handle overly sweet, overly salted, or overly spicy foods very well.  Give me roasts, spuds and lots of gravy. For dessert: any kind of pudding- no cake or cookies. I also like Jello with a touch of whipped cream on top!

I have to admit that on a day-to-day basis I prefer plain old meals and will head off to Duggies or Tonys or elsewhere, for more exotic excursions into culinery excellence.

The Legion puts out a menu each month. If you are a senior, or disabled, you just call the Legion 250-699-6268 the day before the desired meal is being served.  And if you’d like to recieve the full meal deal for the entire month, you just place your order in for that.

A quick and easy chicken recipe was invented by my husband. He used Graham Wafer crumbs to make homemade Shake and Bake chicken. He added garlic and onion powder (not salt) and pepper. Just moisten pieces of chicken and shake in bag with crumbs.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 15 minutes or so.














Three years have passed
since his deathday.
I feel nothing,
as if the horrific
event never

Some other family
standing around.
Him on oxygen,
not saying much.

The baby looking
The grand-niece
in her gum-boots.

Me, chatting up
a storm.
Other patients
in worse shape
than him.

Some still alive.
Some not.

Tuesday’s his birthday.
I’m not missing
his deathday.
But I will miss
his birthday.
once again.












Mar. 9 We had lined up a tour of Jerusalem via a travel company . Had to leave Haifa on the 5:30 am. train in order to catch the tour bus leaving from a hotel in Tel Aviv. Our guide that day was a perky young woman who spoke English well with only a slight accent. She explained that Tel Aviv is a relatively new city having only been in existence since 1909. There had been a settlement nearby- in what remains of some stone-faced construction on the city’s outskirts in an area known as Jaffa. As we neared Jerusalem there were a series of housing developments in the distance on the hillsides (everything is up and down in this country) The motif of the newer buildings is similar to older style- limestone facades with rounded, domed edges in white and cream colours that are still the favoured architecture in most parts of Israel.(Except for Tel Aviv with its western style hotels and office buildings.) Our guide said the land on these suburbs of Jerusalem city had originally been part of Lebanon (preceding 1948? can’t recall what wars were with whom?) There were several sites along the road where relics of military vehicles and equipment had been preserved in honour of soldiers who’d died in wars with Arab countries, such as the 6- day war with Egypt (in 1967?)

 Cue mosque spirals)Slide labeled beginning our tour of old Jerusalem: broken down building.

We began our tour in the old city of Jerusalem, strolling through myriad alleyways and ancient buildings with stone floorings as old as during Christ’s time – so many remnants of the past but also restorations of ancient structures of historical significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians – many within arm`s length of each other. The so-called ‘wailing wall’ (Western Wall) our guide explained, dated back many years. It had been destroyed – much of it- in the various military skirmishes over the centuries. There are now two stark looking, uneven sections of the wall reserved for people to pray- one section strictly for the Muslims and the other section for those who practice the Jewish Faith– (We weren’t shown the Muslim section) Bee walked over to the wall to join those who were in prayer- there were bits of paper stuck between cracks all over the wall – written prayers placed by individuals, Rabbis, etc. I waited nearby in a plastic chair –at the time the weather was cold and windy- possibly contributing to my somewhat depressed state of mind? as I contemplated upon the schism between two religions – both worshipping the same God.

cue caption “marketplace” Slide labelled “following our guide”

Our guide led us through walled alleyways that combined Muslim marketplaces featuring stalls similar to what we’d seen in Akko with the ever-persistent – and very loud- vendors attempting to sell their wares (prices sometimes went down to almost zero but very few buyers.) Their stalls were intermingled with intriguing doorways leading to churches, including one called the Via Dollerosa, maintained by Fransiscan monks (A couple of monks had made it through the milling crowds earlier lugging a huge wooden cross.) Later on, one popped by where we visited and distributed thick smoky fumes from a container.

 cue red tarp hanging- stone shack) Slide “we went through this very dark church on the way to the main part of the church”

 The most significant part of the tour for me was making our way through the huge, magnificent Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was extremely dark and low ceilinged where we entered – quite frightening for me as I could not get my eyeballs adjusted between the darkened tunnel and the candlelit areas- there were stone steps here and there with no railings to cling to. Bee had to guide me along as we crept through the narrow passageway. The church was enormous with many rooms. Our guide told us four or five Christian denominations continue to worship there to this day. Originally constructed during the 12th century, it had been almost totally destroyed. It has since been rebuilt and restored with colourful mosaics all over the walls and ceilings- final completion of mosaics in the 1920s and 1930s. One large panel in the ceiling we photographed was actually part of the original 12th century artwork. The rooms all featured many colourful chandeliers and tapestries, with numerous displays portraying the life and death of Jesus.

cue final view of city. Slide  labelled “commemorative stones on way to Hollocaust Museum”

The final leg of our tour was of the Holocaust Museum in New Jerusalem. It was a huge building divided off into oddly and narrowing shaped sections with disturbing content throughout. I could not handle too much of it -although it was a very well set up museum with photos, films and artifacts of that horrific period of time in human history. I did find the Nazi media propaganda of the times interesting -although deplorable. One newspaper cartoon depicted a large boot with a Nazi insignia on the sole– there seemed to be a joyous attitude about how much fun it would be to step on a tiny insect-sized Jewish person. Really creeped me out!




Slide: pic of Taylor and me

March 11- We are in Edmonton where Bee met her first grandchild Taylor, who is also my great-grandson. Very cute little guy!

I had a weirdly funny experience when we were about to leave from the airport in Tel Aviv. I should mention first that some years earlier I’d had surgery for breast cancer.

….Security for people leaving Israel seemed more lax than when entering- the guards did not carry assault rifles – just pistols.  The processing began with putting bags through a scanner and my big suitcase did not pass the test. It needed to be searched by hand at a separate counter where two agents regarded me with stern expressions on their faces. “Do you have some soil or maybe sand in your bag,” one asked. “Or perhaps some seeds?” “Only rose petals” I replied. (Marcia had given us rose petals as memorabilia) “Nothing else organic.”

“Someone may have put something like that in your suitcase?”he suggested. “No,” I answered firmly. I was beginning to panic. They stared at me stone-faced as I sifted through jumbles of clothing in search of the rose petals that I’d stashed in a plastic bobby pin container. “No need, we found the item,” my interrogator said. Despite his stern face he must have been a trifle embarrassed when he pointed out the felonious article – the weighted false boob I’d packed as a spare to fill the empty left side of my bra. It had been stuffed with barley or similar kind of grain. Bee and I managed to keep from giggling. For me that turned out to be the funniest and most comfortable part of the journey home. We gave a thumbs up once again for El Airlines for their delicious meals, cushions, blankets, entertainment.


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