Hugh Neave.

Hugh Neave.

Memories of school and the good ole’ days

Every once in a while my school days pop up in my memory.

All of us in the Lakes District were saddened to hear of the passing of Daphne Moser.

She was our minister of St. Luke’s Church Francois Lake for many years. She was loved and respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. She spent many years as minister of the Smithers parish. They also will miss her very much. She was such a special person.

School days

Every once in a while my school days pop up in my memory. They were of course on the prairie. Evesham had a big three room school but when hard times hit they closed down the one room. So there were twelve grades and two teachers.

The old song keeps coming up “School days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Reading and writing and arithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.”

We had a strap and not the stick. One teacher had a pointer about two and a half feet long and he would sneak up behind you if you were not paying attention and lay it across your shoulders and what a wap that was.

As there were no lights in the school and first graders, which included me, had to sit on the floor so we could see the board. There were seven of us and for fun I undid Bill Henry’s boots and got my first strapping and a good one. This was my first week. Mrs. Webb was my teacher, she was a good one. After my strapping she said and I quote “You are here to learn no fool around.” I was sent to the cloak room until I stopped crying. I was just six years old. My first day of school Dad put me on one of his horses Dolly and I rode her for years.

Dad got one of the big boys to take me off the horse in the morning and put me on to go home. In a day or so I could get on by myself as there was a big bank at the school. There were seven of us kids starting Grade 1 and we stayed together until Grade 10. I got hurt with a bad horse and had to stop half through grade 10. I never went back. I broke up our class of seven. I wished for many years I had gone back but I had been hurt and laid up too long.

The school barn is gone, no more horses and like here at the lake school busses have taken over. Going to school with horses was fun but could not last. A little story that happened to me while going to school. It was icy and Dolly came down and trapped me, a neighbor was right there got me up and took me home. I spent a week in the Macklin hospital, my first time ever away from home.

I was just eight years old in a ward with seven guys and the only kid. My knee still hurts some times. The hospital had one big ward for men and one for women and kids had to share whatever. This was a Catholic hospital and the nurses were sisters, they are kind but strict, no fooling around, boy did I miss my mother. Dad was very angry at me for bringing down Dolly and made me walk to school right after my accident. And that’s why I ended up in hospital. He was very sorry afterwards.

Memories of a friend

The late Hoyt Burt was a great friend of mine and we used to visit a lot. Had a wonderful memory of his life and was so interesting to visit. He remembered Francois Lake staying open twice. He used to say if the lake didn’t freeze we would have a dry summer and by all reports he was right. He also told me they had some very bad forest fires.

I also remember the lake staying open one winter and we had a dry summer. Hoyt told me he saw the lake freeze over in March but the ice was very poor and went out very fast. Hoyt used to tell me of the huge fires they used to have in the park and they used to last all summer. They used to get 25 cents an hour for wages in those old days.

Big fire

In about 1943 there was big fire started on the east end of Tchesinkut Lake. It was in the fall and some First Nations had been smoking fish and the fire got away on them. The fire went as far as Tintagel and almost to Jeffrey Buttes on Francois Lake. Lots of us locals were called on to fight fire and I was one.

Harvey Campbell was the ranger. Mr. Lord Sr. had a large boat and he took us down the east end and set up a big camp but the lake blew up rough and the boat with the food could not make it so we were landed with no groceries and a bunch of angry guys.

During the night the lake calmed and a boat came with food. Mr. Weldon from Southbank was the cook. We were there about two weeks and there was a crew that stayed until the snow came. There was one big cat lost and one life as well.

While making trenches to slow down the fire, the fire got into the green timber and got behind us and that was scary. There was not a lick of rain and it was a very dry fall so it was a big fire and lots of damage.

The names of some on the fire; John Belt, Bob Peebles, Pete and Hans Hamre, Earl Deeder, Slim Connor, Ken Olson and myself. Earl Deeder did not stay long as he was on the Vancouver freight run for Fred Beach.

There were more men but they were from town and the names have slipped my mind. Mr. Lord ran his boat steady that fall hauling men and supplies. Mr. Weldon’s special was rice and raisins for desert Sunday, Monday and always. Harvey Campbell was a good ranger and we all like him. I always remember his collie dog he called Haywire, he was like Harvey’s shadow. These are good memories for me, now over 70 years, almost a lifetime.

I have to stop now as I am short of room.

A few words of advice.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it in your pocket. Some people try to turn back their odometers, not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

Always remember God loves you and so do I.


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