children

Memoirs of Doug Van Tine – moving forward from the floods

Contributed by Doug Van Tine

Remembering back on my childhood and the years growing up, there is a lot of sadness at what we lost at Ootsa Lake. Our land, our friends, our livelihood, and in some cases, our family. My brother, Meryl, was killed in World War II; my brother Chuck was critically wounded in that war as well. Shortly afterwards our entire community was taken from us by Alcan, when they flooded our lakes and rivers for the aluminum smelter in Kitimat.

But we moved on. My brother Jim took over the guiding area and looked after our Mom until her death in 1961. The guiding was never very good after Alcan flooded the area, and Jim struggled to make ends meet. But he inherited the house and property and raised his own family there, in that beautiful old, log home, the only original house to survive the flooding.

I moved to Southbank and boarded at Driedger’s while I drove truck for Traquair in 1954. I also worked for forestry and in many of the local, small sawmills.

In 1955, I started working with the Highways Department at Southbank. I boarded with Mrs. Hammarberg and paid $30 per month for room and board. Mrs. Hammarberg was a Swedish widow who rented out rooms in her home, where she also raised her only child, her grown son, Eric. Everyday she would get up at 5am and cook our breakfasts; pack our lunches, and at night she’d have our supper ready. She looked after us all very well.

I also met my future wife then, Aneta Jean Tetreau, only daughter of Mike and Mabel Tetreau. We fell in love and married on July 6, 1957.

Our life together, for over 65 years, has been my joy. We raised three wonderful children together: Valerie Jean, Meryl Victor, and Brenda Lei. We travelled and moved to the far corners of British Columbia, with my job as Highway’s foreman. We’ve made many friends and many amazing memories along the way.

I’ve flown my own airplanes all over the province; I’ve fished in remote lakes and rivers and spent time on our own boat fishing the Pacific Ocean when we lived on Vancouver Island. Aneta and I have climbed mountains, camped and hunted in the most remote areas of B.C. We’ve driven in the Yukon and Atlin at 2 a.m. without headlights, so that we could see the northern lights. I remember going flying in Atlin, at 1 a.m., after a silver thaw on the mountains; the full moon and the northern lights were as bright as day.

When I was a young man, I thought that if I could make a lot of money, I would be rich. It has taken all these years to know the real meaning of ‘being rich’. It was never the money, we were never ‘wealthy’ like that…it was always our wonderful family and our wonderful friends, and our many memories that have made us rich!

Note: Doug will be celebrating his 90th birthday in March, 2022; he and Aneta will celebrate their 65th Anniversary in July. They live in their own home in beautiful North Okanagan, BC and are usually surrounded by family and friends, as Covid restrictions allow. They look forward to spending part of next summer in their cabin on Francois Lake, fishing and visiting.

 

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