All the time that we lived in Beaver Valley, I didn’t go to school… there wasn’t any school. I was supposed to be taking a correspondence course from Victoria. I even had a teacher that was assigned to me! I did send in a few lessons…. but not that many.
My mom and siblings didn’t think I was smart enough to do the lessons. They did them, and had me copy them in my handwriting! I never before thought of my mom connected to dishonesty…. But there it is, in black and white.
I missed two years of school, but skipped a grade, so was only one year behind when I graduated from Grade 12. I missed long division, and fractions, so had my next door neighbour, a teacher, tutoring me until I caught on.
I remember that Dad, Clendon and Horace did road work to pay the taxes on the property. They hauled gravel and filled in the pot holes… and there were lots of pot holes and ruts.
Dad must have been waiting for something important because one time they let me go for the mail. … I rode a total of 32 miles. You picked up everyone’s mail and dropped it off at each ranch as you headed for home. I was warned that when I delivered mail, I was “Not to get off my horse.” At the time I didn’t understand why, but I do now.
Winters were cold … at times -40F below zero. When it was that cold, only basic chores were done.
Our house had three bedrooms. My sister, Lena, and I shared one. I remember going to bed with a hot water bottle at our feet, and finding it full of ice in the morning!
I had the job of bringing in the kindling for the kitchen range. They made a harness for Whuskie, and a little sled to “hitch” him to, and he pulled the load of kindling for me.
The kitchen stove had half a boiler tank attached somehow behind the firebox, and that was how they heated water. Bath night was once a week in a wash tub behind the stove, with a sheet hanging to give some privacy. Remember, the well was down by the barn and buckets of water had to be carried up the hill to the house (and carried out to dump) so you only used what you had to.
Clothes were washed on a scrub board, including sheets, and hung outside to dry. In winter they froze. Ironing was a chore as there was no electricity. We had two “flat irons” that sat on top of the kitchen stove. They had a removable handle so when the one you were using cooled, you switched the handle to the other one and continued ironing.
I loved Beaver Valley. It was like being on a holiday most of the time for me. Lena had to help mom with cooking and household chores… me… I was free as a bird. I spent a lot of time with Dad and the boys as they worked outside.
Lena would also go to the neighbouring Campbell ranch and help with the cooking when they had a haying crew there. Al Campbell’s first wife died on the way to the hospital in Williams Lake, from a ruptured appendix. He batched for a couple of years, but when we moved back to Vancouver, he and Lena decided to get married.