Dad was born at 73 Gordon Street , Leigh , Lancaster , England on May 5 , 1896 . His Dad , George , was a coachman a Domestic Servant , who had married Rose Hanna Crook on December 28 , 1893 .
They had four children all born at Leigh ; Alfred in 1894 , Dad , Cyril in 1898 and Ada in 1905 .
Granpa died of Tuberculosis on January 23 , 1906 at Lythgoe Cottage in Leigh . Later that same year Grandma brought her family to Eirie , B.C. where her sister Ada lived with her husband Joe Campbell .
Some of Dad's life is sketchy and unaccounted for . From photographs in his alblum we do know that he worked at the Cameron Ranch in the Lethbridge area of Alberta after he was discharged from Balfour Sanitorium in 1921. The albulm also shows Dad and some of his friends during the summer and winter of 1922 . He was working at the Painting and Paperhanging busness with fellows like Fred Hamer and Wally Player . He and Player opened a shop in Nelson around that time .
In 1923 Mom arived in Nelson with her family . Granpa Wright was transferred there by the Methodist Church Congress to minister at Trinity Methodist Church at Silica and Carbonate Streets . ( See John Henry Wright biography note #11). Mom lived in Nelson until 1926 when Grandpa was transferred to Vancouver by the then 'New" United Church of Canada .
I presume that Mom and Dad met during this three year period and I also presume that they were maried in one of the churches that Grandpa built in Vancouver in the late 1920's. They were married on Mom's twenty seventh birthday , September 24, 1930 . To the best of my knowledge Dad owned the house at 912 Victoria Street, at that time and had purchased it from Grandma who left to return to England to be with her ailing father .
Mom and Dad were living in a summer house across the lake from City Warf when Dawn was born in July 12 ,1932 . Dad related that he rowed a boat across the lake to take mom to the hospital on that day .
Dad made a couple of notations in a novel , Ghost Towns of B.C. by Bruce Ramsay , that Judy and I gave to him in 1971 which are of interest . On the flypage at the front of the book he wrote ;
' I note that Mr. Ramsey makes no mention of the fabulous gold mines of Rossland which , like other boom towns , faded to a ghost town after the mines had played out . The only place that still opperated was a hotel owned by Sam Irving , who's only source of revenue seemed to be bootlegging !
I worked in Trail in 1923 and the boy's I associated with , for something to do in the evenings , would occasionally run up to see Sam . The town was very bleak in those days with it's business district and fine beautiful large homes of former mine executives , all boarded up . They could have been bought for a song!
Later years it boomed again as a suburb of Trail , five miles up a steep highway , away from the smoke , fumes , dirt and dust of Trail.'
From page 134 , referring to Sandon , he wrote;
' Me and Bill Miller , 1n 1923 , had stayed at Johnnie Harris' , Reco Hotel , in the fall of that year . (They) Painted the hotel and the Mine and Mill buildings of the Silversmith Mine . Johnnie and I would walk along the old G.N railway bed on Sunday's looking for grouse.'
I discovered these memoirs of Dad's in an old suitcase of his in 1995 . I needed a suitcase to carry some of our camping gear . In the suitcase , among other things , was an old lined school exercise book . In it Dad had written some memories of his early life .
After he died in the summer of 1975 I had packed up his belongings and stowed them away in the crawl space under our stairway . It was twenty years later that I remembered the suitcase and dragged it out .
Dad's penmanship was not always the easyest to read and I decided to transcribe the stories that he wrote for the family and prosperity . I have attempted to transcribe them verbatum , as he wrote them , in an attempt to perserve his style .
To whoever reads them I hope that you enjoy the memories of a man who lived the first fifty years of his life in the early part of the ninteen hundreds .
Phil Spencer 1999
Phil suggested one day after some item of my varied experiences came to mind and I reminice to him , that I should go jot them down as they come up , he says they are good and I should make a record of them , which has prompted me to start this article .
I have always been very adventurous , always eager for new experiences and adventure , always liked to mix characters of like nature....so have had a wonderful life ....which started on my arrival in Canada at a small mining village twenty seven miles south of Nelson and my Uncle Joe and Aunt Ada looked after me and my baby sister Ada , while Mom , Alfred and Cyril were getting settled in this strange and wonderful country of Canada in Nelson .
I was about ten years old at Erie at the little farm with the log cabin for a home , Ada was two ....Joe being a westerner all his life comming west with the covered wagons trained as a hunter , supplying Antelope and Buffalo meat for the trains ...followed the early days placer miners to Canada in the eighteen eightys ??? followed the Pend D'Oreille River then the Salmon River to make a stake at the North Fork ... bought a small hotel in Erie ...married my Aunt ....The hotel burned down ... he got a little farm ...not much of a farmer , preferred the woods and hills , prospecting was his life , big husky man . The old prospectors who I met in later years who knew Joe , told me he could travel all day with the biggest pack on his back ...he located claims way back in the Bayonne country . His search those days was for gold , free milling .... gold streaks in with quartz was it , free milling stuff . The old timer would locate a claim in which had likely prospects , build a cabin , pack in a stove , grub , drills , hammers , a small forge to sharpen the steel ....hand drill holes into the hillside , blast.....following the lead of vein hoping , ever hoping optimist to find the jackpot of a big vein and mine ... will write more of Joe and Ada later .
I am supposed to be writing of my experiences but I got my start with this wonderful pair of old timers ...pioneers true !!!!
So....1908 ....Mom , Alf and Cyril were in Nelson and Mom wanted her family together , so Ada and I joined them in a little two roomed shack on Victoria Street Alley .... Alf and Cyril were both working to help out expences . Alf with the Canadian Drug and Book Company , later with the Hudson's Bay . Cyril with Nelson Hardware , both as messenger boys , delivering customer's parcels to their homes and keeping the store clean . I went to school , the new public school on Stanley Street for two or three months , graduated from
"Shorty " Wales class into Miss Taylor's . Then I got a job in a grocery store . The Dollar Grocery located at the corner of Baker and Hall Street as a clerk . W.W. Harris , the proprietor did the delivery of sales with a white pony and wagon . I was so small I was hidden from customers view by the counter I was behind . It was sometime before the customers found me for service . Next I went to Fred Service's Ladies Dry Goods delivering costomer's purchases , keeping the floors clean and waiting on customers . Some of our customers were " Ladies of the Fine " , red light district , a phone call for half a dozen dresses and hats on approval would bring me in contact with these "Ladies" as I had to wait in their rooms while they made up their minds of their choice of hat or gown .....The deal was , of course , C.O.D. and a liberal tip for me . Cora Schope , the Millner , would count my cash to see if I wasn't $ 3.00 short .... I was only fourteen .... she had a sense of humor .
My Uncle and Aunt had moved and taken homestead south of Golden about twenty miles , on the bench east of the valley at the foot of the Beaverfoot Range ... and so asked Mom if she would let Cyril and I go to them , she accepted ... knowing we would be well looked after and the life in the bush would do us no harm . So , spring of 1911 , Cy and I journeyed up the Arrow Lakes on the steamer Minto and east of Revelstoke to Golden through the Rogers Pass over the summit before the tunnel was built ... will detail the homesteading later .
Arrived back in Nelson in 1914 ... the War was on .... in April Cy joined the 225 th Infantry when he was eighteen . I followed at ninteen , but got into an outfit that was going overseas in six weeks . I was all for that , no need to waste six months training at Vernon , so Cy came along with me , after a lot of discussing with his CO . , and . by George , we did leave Vancouver in six weeks time and were in Liverpool on the 27 th. of June . Ceasar's Camp , Shorncliffe on the 28 th .....two months there and on the boat to LaHarve , France on the 28 th of August and on to the Somme "Do" in September , not bad Eh ? I joined up on the last of May ....four months later on the front line ....not bad Eh ??
It rained all night and all day today , it is now three o'clock and I am just sitting it out , had a light lunch a while ago .
The TV set is going , a lot of yakity yak so , as this is sort of an anniversary for me I thought I would put it down in writing . One of my lively experiences , dating back to October 22 , 1917 .
Just after lunch of tea ..made with Chloride of Lime flavor in the water ... hard tack , bully beef , cheese and jam ( rationed out just so much ) .
We , the 1 st Pioneers , were at the battle of Passchendaele and had been on a working party up around "Jerry's" pillboxes which had been taken a few days before . Things were tough , practically impossible conditions to operate in . I had just got back from my first annual leave to "Blighty " about a week ago . On leave , the war was a long way off , we just forgot about it for the ten days we had away from it . After being in France and Belgium for fourteen months and two months in England before comming to France without leave or pass . I was surprised to hear on my return to Poperinghe (The Railhead) that a big surge was on and after locating my unit close to Ypres I was doubly excited and surprised to see how my platoon . No.12 , was reduced to about twenty men , full quota being fifty , so we had had casualities .
This particular day the twenty of us under Sgt . Frost and Sgt . Murphy , had left the protection of a railway embankment where we had lunch and were going back towards "Pill-Box Ridge" on duck boards , it being practically impossible to walk otherwise , the road so thin and slippery one could easily slip into a shell hole who's rims just about touched each other (and were full of water) . We were seasoned troops and had lots of experience on how to duck quick out of the shell fire coming close .
At this time "Jerry" had a barrage of heavies , 9.2's , no concentration , just scattered . We were walking closely as we advanced for a strong wind was blowing about and carried the sound away from us . Normally one has a couple of seconds or so , to dive for a ditch or flatten out . We had no chance for this as we had a direct hit . The shell dropping between Thompson and Pickering , the two chaps directly behind me . We were spaced about three to four feet apart . The blast knocked me flat , knocking off my tin hat and gas mask hanging on my back , and my mess tin . I found myself in the bottom of a shell hole with great blocks of mud and debris falling on me . I was pulled out by Jimmy Sutherland ( from Nelson , later Cranbrook . A railroad fireman , later engineer ..... I didn't know this 'till I met him years later in Nelson on one of his trips ). Both Thompson and Pickering were covered with mud on opposite sides of the shell hole crater , we examined them , one was dead , the other still had a spark of life , his back and legs were preforated with shell splinters . He died on the way to Hell Fire Corner Dressing Station on the main road . The shells were still falling , any falling in the vicinity would drive me crazy , I was jumping and couldn't controle myself , which was demoralising to the rest of the boys who were left . We had other casualties so Sgt. Frost suggested I make my way to Battalion Headquarters after I assured him I could make it under my own steam . So , after assisting the wounded and killed to the dressing station I was on my own and headed through the Murn Gate and Ypres to the "Outbush" to Headquarters .
Cyril , my brother , who was attached to headquarters as Horse Transport Bugler spotted me in the lineup for supper and was surprised to see me as I had been reported killed or missing (another false rumour) .
We , the battalion , were relieved shortly after that and we retired for a well earned rest and renforcements to Froham-Le-Grande where we spent one of the few happy times off the line .
The twenty second of October is one day I don't forget !!!
Dad was in the Ypres - Passchendaele mess in 1917 - 1918 and related this story od how he escaped serious injury , even death .
His photo ablum has a post card showing the church at Froham - Le - Grande ( Somme ) where he was sent to recover from his shell -shpck in November 1917 . He mailed the card to his Grandad on January 19 ,1918. The text reads as follows ;
' Dear Grandad ....Just a few lines to say I'm still going strong . I have been on night patrol all week so have had to turn night into day and sleep in the daytime . I start on the usual routine in the morning . Our work is among "Fritzys" old pillboxes. ( I haven't found any Beechams among them yet) .It's an awful looking piece of country . About the only thing it's good for now is ducks , every shell hole is a pond . Hoping you are well , I remainyours as ever ................. Jimmy .
He also cut an article out of a paper and attached it with the postcard as it described the situation as it was at the time .
It's a wonder he came home !
At this point I would like to pay respect to the French people we contacted from time to time .
After Passchendaele we retired for a rest and reinforcements to a small village down in France someplace in the neighbourhood of St . Pol , if I remember right . The weather was clear and cold with a skiff of snow on the ground . We were the first Canadians to be billeted in the village , and the people gave us a warm welcome .
The billets in barns and outer buildings were insufficent to hold all of us , so the surplus , including 12 platoon 'C' Company were camped in tents on a field across a stream that split the town in half . Our section of the village was known as Froham- La-Pettite.
As I said , the weather was cold and freezing , we had no way of heating our tents . Some of the billets were in old houses , one I visited even had a fireplace . We had the usual ; two blankets and a ground sheet , we slept on the hard ground . To wash and shave we used the stream where ice formed at the edge .
Beautiful , hilly country , timbered and forested . We would occasionally have a route march along the hilly roads , otherwise discipline was quiet , we were free to wander around . There was wild boar in the woods and some of the boys would try their luck .
The mornings were long and the eateries did not open until two o'clock . Most of the homes had an eatery , beer , wines , cognac , eggs , chops and black coffee with chickery , hot, but most importantly they were warm . There was a large buxom woman , ( the women ran these retreats and farms as they were all alone . Their husbands were at the terrible Battle of Verdun .) To this woman we were as kids , Three or four of us were approved and she would let us into her kitchen in the morning . She had an open fireplace fed by fagots of wood ....a large cauldron hanging in it . Three legged stools to sit on in front of the fire and she would serve us coffee and cognac in small cups for four cents , what a luxury in that dirt floor farm kitchen .
We recieved our Christmas pay there of sixty five Francs , so had a celebration , also as Christmas was comming and we hoped to still be there we organized for a big blowout for Xmas . They , the people had the necessities for Xmas dinner ; Ducks , Geese , Chickens and vegetables , so we anticipated a big time . We would buy the necessary ingredients and the lady would cook it and we would have the big blowout in the farmhouse . But it was not to be .....on the twenty third December we boarded a train which delivered us back to where we had come from , Poperinghe , Belgium ....Ypres Front .
No movement orded had been recieved by Poperinghe so no billets or rations were organized . We were put in some old building . Tile floors , cold , not heated . The officers chipped in and bought turkies and vegitables. The Sergents bought us a bottle of beer . So we had Christmas dinner of a sort , but we could not put out of our minds our dinner we could have had at Frohen-Le-Grande and the good people there .
How I became a motorcycle dispatch rider is something I should relate .
The big push the German Armies put on in the spring/summer of '17 , with the intent to split the French and British Armies , the British to the north could be pushed back to the channel .
We were on the north end of the push and escaped the fury of the onslaught on Armeinx , but were caught up in the retreat we had to do and our units were split up , having to move at unexpected times .
The big guns were gone , the field guns were "spiked ", out of ammunition and supplies . We had no contact with our Company or Battallion Headquarters .
One day we backed out through Ache Le Grande and camped in a batch of woods , where Cyril , my brother found us after searching around at night .
He had a close shave ... his latest information on us was that we were north of Ache Le Grande , he was aquainted with the area and travelled at night . We had a little chat that night . Dispatch drivers were in very much demand to round up the scattered units on the road to Ache Le Grande . The wounded and troops were straggling along asking him for the nearest Red Cross Dressing Station ...." Just a Few Kilometers " ' he would tell them ............There were none !
In the gloom of the night he was tipped by an officer who was wounded but was acting as a rearguard , keeping track of "Jerry". He was close enough to hear them but out of sight . Cy told him of his mission , the officer told him that Jerry was just down the road about a hundred yards and had occupied Ache Le Grande . If Cyril had not met the officer he would have run right into the arms of Jerry . So he backed up and found us ....how ??
We were to report to Headquarters close to Baphurume where troops were concentrating for the defense of Bayomme . We arrived in the evening , putting up tents in a sloping field on wet ground in the rain . The cooks were busy with the evening meal on open fires when Jerry spotted them and bombed our camp .Our sidekick , Harry Stevens , caught a chunk of bomb in his hip which put him out of action and back to Blighty . The next days were rough , we Canadian , Aussie , New Zealand and British troops were building a series of bunkers for defense of Belgium . It rained continuously , we were wet and miserable , our tents were wet , so were our blankets .
Cy stuck his head in the tent flap , " Is Jimmy Spencer here ?"
"Hello Cy ", I said .
"Come out I want to talk to you !"
Aparently the demand for motorcycleists was still on and he told the Sergeant at Battallion Headquarters . the Orderly Sergent , that I could ride a motorcycle . On my report to the Duty Orderly the next morning I was greeted by , "Good morning Spencer ."
"Good morning Sergeant !"
" Your brother tells me that you can ride motorcycles."
" Yes Sir Serg !"
" What makes have you ridden ?"
Never having ridden but knowing the makes of the most popular bikes I replied , "Harley Davidson and Indian !"
" OH fine ...just the man we are looking for >"
The first thing was a pass for the Third British Army territory , a chit for a motercycle etc., and we were to report for duty at an engineers camp a few kilometers away .
Two short trips a day to signals gave me a chance to see what made that motorcycle tick .
A nice dry bed in lots of hay , good grub ....boy ! What a guy wouldn't lie to get into those luxuries ?
In two weeks time we had Jerry's advance checked and Battallion Headquarters moved up towards Arras , a little village called Salty La Brey .
I was called back to the British and put on as dispatch rider for Headquarters . Three of us , Cyril, my brother and George Barts of Hazelton , B.C.
The three of us rode for a long time for headquarters , taking orders (dispatches) from the Orderly Corporal , Jerry Waterman , who we raise hell with ....the stuff we pulled on him !.but we always got our orders through, registered mail etc., in spite of the risk of riding most of the time at night , no lights , in a foreward area .
Troop transports , Lorries , guns , munitions and supplies for the front always moved at night , no observation by Jerry !
So , there are stories of rides and risks but we took it all in our stride and really enjoyed our billets of hay and the better grub of headquarters . From about May until Armistice at Mons where we arrived after the signing of the peace and left for Etaps on the 24 th of December ariving at the base for Christmas dinner on the 25 th .
The War wa over !
La Grande Fini .......
We were on our way home , first to England , after twenty eight months on the Western Front !
*** A story that Dad related to Leigh and I while sitting by the campfire one night was :
...He was driving his bike along a dyke one night , very dark , returning to base when he blew a rear tire . There was shellfire all about and he was scared as hell so he just kept going on the rim all the way home .
In with Dads service medals is his WW I paybook . Issued on May 1 , 1916 it states that a pay rate of one dollar per day plus a bonus of ten cents per day when in the field will apply .
The first entry is on July 1 1916 at Shorncliffe , England . The majority of the entries , after September 18 ,1916 at Le Harve , France are shown only as 'Field '. In later years Dad had entered beside the 'Field' entries the name of the field of battle or the rest station where he was when the pay was entered .
September 25 , 1916 Somme
October 16 , 1916 Somme
November 12 , 1916 Vimy Ridge
November 23 , 1916 Vimy Ridge
May 28 , 1917 Arras
July 27 , 1917 Ypres-Pilckem Ridge Battle
September 27 , 1917 Ypres-Polygon Wood Battle
December 17 , 1917 Passchendaele
January 30 , 1918 St. Jean
June 10 , 1918 Mons - The Final Advance
December 1918 Whitley , England
February 1 , 1919 Rhyes , Wales
Dad wes hospitalized from Armistice through to June 1919 in Rhyes , Wales suffering the effects the War . He had TB and other maladies which delayed his homecomming until July of 1919 when he was admitted to Shaughnessey Military Hospital in Vancouver , B.C. In October of that year he was transferred to the Sanitorium at Balfour , B.C. for his final recouoperation where he was released and put on 100 % disability pension . His last letter home to his Mom is dated December 19 , 1919 .
He came home with a souvenir of the War , a German Infantry issue Gas Mask dated 09/11/17 .
It is a leather mask with four elasticized head straps and a three foot cotton loop neck strap . Two , two inch diameter eye-ports are screwed into a fixture in the leather with clear "plastic-like" lenses .A compartment in the lid of the masks container holds three unused replacement lens sets wrapped in waterproof wax-like paper with the inscription ;
The mask is contained in a snap-lid metal canister four and a half inches in diameter by six and a half inches in length . It has three metal strap loops for tiedowns .
Hand enscribed on the bottom of the canister if the name ;
I suppose Dad picked up the canister at some time near Wars end to bring home as a souvenir .
I have met a lot of guys , made friends with most of them no matter what creed , vocation or social rank .
Jimmy always stands out in my mind as a real he-man. Tall, rugged CPR fireman . Had to be rugged , shovelling coal through the Roger' Pass .
Jimmy always had a big grin on his face and a cheerful hello .
Jim , I suppose , on account of his Scottish ancestery , had to sigh up with a Scottish outfit in 1915 . First Division , Red Plaid , to wear Kilts and to do the things Scots always do ....fight like Hell !!
He left Nelson , B.C. with the First Division in 1015 . High spirits , high adventure prommised . It was a year later that I went over ( I was a little younger ) but looked for adventure too . I saw Jimmy at the Canadian Base at Le Harve in August 1916 .
I had just arrived in France after having front line training prior to going into the Somme , and there ran into Jimmy , kilts and all . He was on his way up ti the line to join his outfit , the sixteenth after his second casualty wounds .
" What's it like up there ?" I asked him . He did not have much to say about it except that it was tough .
The next time I saw him was after we got home and trying to adjust to civilian life again . Jim was back at his job fireing when we got to chatting about it .
It seems that Jimmy got hit again ! A "Blighty" again ....Thrice !
After hospitals , recouperating at the sixteenty Army Base . hos O.C. told him that he did not have to go back to the front again after being wounded three times and that there was a soft job for him at the base here . Jim objected but the O.C. insisted . So , at every opportunity Jim would go A.W.L. to Scotland , reprimanded by the C.O. but never changed . After several A.W.L. 's the C.O. said ,
" Jim I want you here!"
" I want to be with the boys in the line , I can't let them down !"
So the C.O. gave in and Jim went back to his boys in the line .
This is true , and what Jim told me personally . Jim never boasted .
They went over the top and a bullet got him in the chest , high up , he was knocked out in the mud . His chum , a sergeant , stopped long enough to say ,
" Good bye Jim !" And carried on .
During the fight prisoners were taken including a Doctor and his aide , who , on seeing Jim , stopped to bandage him and carry him out . Jim thanked that Fritzy doctor for the good job he did , for as Jim went from first aid dressing station to casualty clearing further down the line the first aid the German doctor did was good and did not need immediate changing .
Jimmy actually recovered from that billet in the chest , and on returning home went back to work with C.P.R. as fireman , but the heavy fireing needed to haul a train through the Rogers Pass from Revelstoke east severed a nerv that was weakened by the bullet but held up until the extra strain of the long pull .
He had to retire from the C.P.R. or any work . Soperannuation , pensions of course , but they did not bring back his robust health . He got weaker and weaker as paralysis got hold of him as a result of the severed nerve , until he was a rack of bones....but he still had his smile !
His neck was so weak it could not hold his head up , he had to throw his head back so he could see where he was going . Daily, he would take walks for exercise , something to do , or go down to Lakeside Park , one mile out of town and back on the railway track .
One day he tripped on a tie and fell on the rail , broke hos collar bone . He got up , walked to the Doctor's waiting room , waited for his turn with the other patients . He was equipped with a metal brace on shoulders and neck to knit the broken bones .
He had no flesh on his bones and was in constant pain from friction of the apparatus .
These are things he told me when I would ask , "How are things going Jim ?"
His mind finally went out ....and .....
"Old Soldiers never die ....they just fade away !"
April 27 th ......I had some reason today to add to my collection of history and yarns that I had started a couple of years ago on the suggestion from Philip after I had been reminicing on something or other , that the interesting stories I tell of my life here and there should be put down on paper befpre I forget them .
He claimed the adventurous , exciting and sometimes dangerous times and experiences I have had should be for the family record . I do not altogether agree with him as I just led the life of an ordinarry man and what happened during that time could happen to anyone else who possibly forgot all about them as mere incidents that happen to most men more or less .
However , I must be a dreamer or some such , for looking back this last three quarters of a century , certain incidents , adventures or whatever will crop up in my memory with clarity ahat I am almost reliving those things over even to details . I do not think that this is a very good thing at times for there is another issue that is to be considered which pops up in memory with equal clarity which are full of sorrow , sadness and grief and which are hard to forget . One should try to forget these things and look forward to the future as long as one can , for later , when there is little future , then he can have his memories and live a new life again .
However , I must admit that it is fine at present , recalling the fun and excitement of living and so should keep those things in mind when writing these articles , what are they called ?...."Memoirs!"
However , if it pleases you Phil I will try to dig up some stories for you . Perhaps they will someday explain my pecularities !
My first experience with a rifle was the year I first landed in Canada , 1906 . I was living with my Uncle and Aunt on a little farm just outside a small mining town , Erie , B.C.
My Uncle was an oldtimer of the west and had some very interesting yarns about his early days . He left home in Nebraska at fifteen years to cross the plains to Oregon, Washington and California as a hunter to supply meat for the covered wagon trains . Buffalo and Antelope being the main source of meat . Later years was a cowpuncher on cattle drives and finally drifted into British Columbia via the Pend D'Oreille River from Washington as a placer miner , finally settling down at Erie . Most of his summers were spent tramping the hills prospecting for the elusive metal , gold .
All thest experiences involved the carrying and using firearms, for meat , which was the main source of food.
In the log cabin in which we lived was his 30-30 Winchester which he always kept loaded propped up in a corner ready for quick action for we had deer around at times . He also had a shotgun and a single shot ,25 Stevens rifle with which he proceeded to teach me the act of using a gun , by setting up a target and showing me the correct way of handling and firing it .
There was plenty of grouse in the country in those days and the drivers of the Ore Wagons to the Arlington and Second Relief Mines did not mind having me along with them on the high seat behind the six horse teams . It was an ideal lookout for spotting grouse ahead , especially in the late afternoon when they were on the road getting their daily supply of gravel and drink at the many little streams around a bend in the road .
I soon got to be a good shot and to "bring home the bacon !" Old Joe Bernard who drove Mrs. Collins team of the Mersey Hotel would call in at the farm occasionally to pick me up for company to the mine so I got in a lot of practice . Later my Aunt and Uncle moved to a homestead about twenty miles south when I was in Nelson with my brothers and sister and Mother . The spring of 1911.
My Aunt asked my Mother if she would let me and my younger brother , Cyril , to come to the homestead to live with them as they had no kids of their own . To our delight our Mother concented and we headed up the Slocan Lake and the C.P.R. to Golden with a double bitted axe each and a .22 single shot rifle each .
It was rough going for us all back by ourselbes on the benchland . Grouse were plentiful and we both got so we could pick them off in the heads . Deer were scarce but the Beaverfoot Range of mountains behind the farm was a huge Mountain Goat pasture .
As soon as the big snowslide came down with a tremdous roar about a half a mile or so from home we went after fresh meat which we needed badly . The hard packed snow made climbing easy and we were soon spotting white spots scattered among the peaks , gullys and ridges and we usually had a goat by noon by detouring around and getting above them . They didn't expect trouble from above and if a shot missed they would climb higher and higher . If we did not get a goat befoer noon we would be too late to get it out of the basin and through the canyon before dark and would have to spend the night on the ridge or rockslide 'till morning . Those were long cold nights and there was always a strong cold wind and freezing temperattures . We had no extra food or clothing , so we spent the night roasting by the fire in front and freezing behind ...and vica-versa .
We did not bring out any surplus weight as we had quite a pack to carry to the farm (ranch) . The heads were cut off and the legs to the knees , then the carcass cut in half , then the fore quarters and hind quarters into gunny sacks to keep the meat clean as we rolled and bounced it down the mountainside . The sacks made good packs with gunnysacking strips for shoulder straps .
Our .22's were too small for big game but we could sometimes pick up a grouse or two on the trail . Joe was in his element with his 30-30 . We had a lot of hunting in the summits in the three years we were there at the homestead . Occasionally , not often , the Game Warden would show up ....as we hunted all summer , disregarding the regulations , the shots would carry down the mountain and across the valley . Jealous neighbours down there would report that the Campbell's were hunting and the Game Warden would have to report regardless of an all day horseback ride . He never had anything to report as he told us we were piomeering and needed the meat .
I did not do any hunting for some time after the experiences with Joe on the homestead . Returned to Nelson in 1914 and went to work , once in a while taking the .22 out for a pot-shot at a gopher or two . I was overseas with the Canadian Army for three years so not 'till 1922 did I get another chance at hunting .
On invitation I went along from Nelson with my future brother-in-law , Wally Davis and another chap , Jack Reisterer I think his name was , to Salmo where we were to meet the organizer of the trip , Archie whosomever ...owned the Salmo Hotel ...and tended bar . As I had no rifle Archie loand me a 30-30 carbine which was kept behind the bar for anyone who needed it . It had belonged to a chap who had got killed , no one actually owned it .
We took our grub and stuff out to Ree's cabin located on the Dewdney Trail across the Salmon River which was crossed by a small foot bridge . The cabin was at the foot of a high ridge . On the other side ran Swift Creek which flowed into the Salmon River further down .
We climbed right up the face of the cliff and seperated , Wally and I , Archie and Jack 'till we reached the top where we could see a large area of open country gradually rising to the timber further up . We crossed over and soon ran into plenty of deer tracks . We split up to meet again at a point further up . When we arrived at the meeting point we all reported plenty of tracks but no deer sighted . Down below to our left was a large patch of green timber ...so...that's where they would be .
They decided to go into it and have a look . Well , I decided that if they were going down there they are sure to jump something out , so I will go along the side hill towards some rock bluff's and gullys where I figgered anything chased out would head for . There was a large slab of rock that looked over everything below which was a perfect lookout ...Let the other chaps do the driving .
It wasn't long before a terrific bombardment opened up , the diferent caliber guns distingushing themselves . I was cursing myself for not having been down there when a buck , doe and fawn broke out of the timber headed for a gully . I was laying on my belly and had a good steady aim but with a strange gun . They were comming lickity-larup and were down opposite me at an angle comming towards me but getting close to the ridge and out of sight . I let fly at the buck with two shots but they kept going and were all out of sight . I jumped up and ran as fast as I could to the top of the ridge , hoping to get off another shot , but when I topped the ridge there wasn't a rattle of hoof or gravel , everything quiet . I was certain I could intercept them . Standing there looking around there was two windfalls leaning against each other in an inverted vee and the buck was standing between them . When he saw I spotted him he made off down the hill . I swung around to shoot just as he was leaping over a log about three feet off the ground and I got him in the neck . Just then the doe came charging out of the bush and followed him over the log . I was able to get another shot away and she kept on going and the fawn followed ... which I let go .
So...here was my buck ....on closer look I found he had a hole in the lung cavity , I must have got him on the run which slowed him down . The next thing to do was to hang , bleed and clean . I reached for my knife but must have lost it on my run to the ridge . I needed help so the signal we had agreed upon , if we needed help,was two quick shots , which I let go . While I was waiting for help I heard something down below and threr was the doe , wounded , so I had to finish her off .
It wasn't long before Archie appeared . He had guaged my shots well for he came straight to where I was and with his knife we did the messy job of cleaning them . A funny thing happened then . Jack appeared but did not come down to us , though we spoke to one another and he saw the deer but did not offer to help................
* Dad's tale about hunting end's here ....he must have been interrupted by me comming over for our weekly cribbage challange ??
It was July and hot !
I was in my shop one day tinkering around . Business was slack as usual in mid summer, everyone was holidaying , fishing etc. and I was thinking of taking a run down to the Salmon River and get a few brookies .
A friend of mine , Len Webb , dropped in wearing slacks and running shoes .
" On your holidays Len ?" I asked .
"Yes '" , he said , "Billy Swanell has a poisoned finger from a sliver so he can't get away on a fishing trip we had planned ."
" Where are you going ?" I enquired .
"Fry Creek ." He answered . " The fishing is very good right now , we were going to take salt along to keep the fish fresh to bring them home ."
" Have you ever been up there ?" I asked , " No ...neither have I , so I'll tell you what , I'll lock up the shop for a few days and we'll head on up there >"
" We'll drive to Kaslo and rent a boat , Fry Creek is about twenty miles north on the east shore with a very big sandbar , we can't miss it !"
"All we will need is a fly tent that we can make up from one of my drop sheets and then pick up some grub . We can head out in the morning ."
The next morning we headed out for Kaslo . To our surprise , on our arival , there was no marina there ( it was in the late 1920's ) so after inquiring around we found a guy with an old launch hull and a small kicker . It made good trolling speed but that was all . That was OK with us as we were just out for some fun .
Len rigged a sort of sail from an extra piece of canvas that I had brought along to save gas while we wee fishing . He was from New Brunswick , knew more about sailing than about gas engines .
It was some time before the big sandy beach came in sight . We noticed that a tent was set up on the south side so we made camp on the north side . We had some Kokanee Trout for supper and sat up by the campfier and enjoyed a beer from what Len had brought along and had burried in the wet sand by a small stream of water from the main creek . It was a lovely night with the stars shining . So now we were all set for a big day tomorrow . The stars were all out when we rolled up in our blankets and watched the fire die down.
At some time during the night I was awakened by the waves crashing on the beach . There were sparks flying from the live coals of the fire . The boat should be all right as it was tied to a log , so I put out the coals and got back into my blankets . In no time at all the wind came up and hit the side of the lean-to bringing in heavy rain and sand .
I woke up Len . "What's the matter ?" He said .
Just then the wind picked up the canvas and we were out in the rain and sand .
" Come on ,' I said ," We must get the grub and stuff out of this !"
We took it off the beach and put it under a log in the bush , floundering our way over logs and driftwood . We retrieved our canvas fly and covered our stuff in it and then went down to see how the boat was making out . It was very dark now but we could see the white crests of the waves pouring and crashing on the beach , and into the boat which was sitting solid , half full of sand and water .
Not having anticipated a storm we had left some of our fishing tackle , gas , oil and motor with the boat . I jumped into the boat after a wave had retreated , grabbed the gas can and held on tight while the next wave poured over me then jumped out .
"Well !" I said to Len , "We saved something anyway !"
He said , between stammering lips , " I think we are lucky to save ourselves !"
That was his first experience of that kind and I think he was a little perturbed about it all .
" Come on ," I said , "We should crawl into our blankets and get under the tarp, maybe we can get some sleep?"
There was nothing else we could do until morning .
The next morning the sun came up bright and clear , the remaining north wind was just a breeze ruffling the the lake with the odd whitecap here and there . After breakfast we checked out the boat . Len had a fishing pole he had borrowed with a full tackle box , they were gone ! I had brought my pole and tackle out of the boat and they were safe up on the beach . Len had lost everything .
What hit him worse was the waves had reached up to his beer and had swept it out into the lake .
We had saved our gas can but had lost our oil and would need more . The other camper on the south beach came around to see how we were making out .He also needed oil and planned to cross the lake to a friends home and get oil for us both .
So, everything was all OK . The seats and pieces of wood that had been torn off the boat were found scattered along the beach . In jig time we had them knocked back into place using a rock and the nails that were hanging into the wood .
We got our oil and got the engine running , so we tried some fishing , after a while the engine went.. 'squeek-squeek'..and soon froze up . I thought a cylinder had burned out .
By this time Len was ready to get back home . We broke camp rigged up Len's sail and pulled out into the breeze . We sailed along merrily . Len , the sailor was right at home , with a good breeze at our stern . I was trolling and catching the odd fish . But , gradually the breeze died down , the usual thing on the Kootenay Lake , then blowing north in the afternoon .
We crawled out onto a mess of rocks where we ate our lunch and waited for the wind to come up again . After an hour or so , a light puff came along then a little ripple on the water but it was going north and we had to sail alomg with it .
We came to a deep bay with a boathouse in it , someone must live here ! High on the hillside was a house with some outbuildings . A couple of English chaps had a chicken farm up there . One of the chaps came running along the beach shouting , "I'll save you....I'll save you !"
We actually didn't need saving but we did need some transportation . He was going on into Kaslo the next morning and would give us a tow , which he did .....for five bucks!!!
We thanked him and looked up the owner of the boat , who was very angry at the damage to the motor but on closer examination it was discovered that a hole in the sahft casing was plugged with sand so one of the cylinders was not getting any water for cooling , a little oil on the cylinder and it freed up , everything was OK .
Len had his fishing trip and a little more thrown in , his big beef and grief was ......He had lost his beer ! Oh! Oh!
Dad took Leigh and I to Fry Creek once but he never told us this story . I learned of it twenty years after he had died !
I stepped into Ed Kopecki's Cigar Store one day just to say hello .
He exclaimed , "Just the fellow we want , Gene Poulin , Kerby Grenfell and I are planning a fishing trip to Midge Creek this weekend . Mickey McEwan has promised us his boat which is up atBalfour . We will start out early Sunday morning ,drive up to Balfour , gas up and get going !"
Natuarally I was all for it !
We all knew each other , of course and we all liked getting out . Gene , with hif French Canadian accent was always the life of the party .
The boat was an old one , a little heavy in the water , with a homemade cabin , which had a steering wheel , seats , a primus stove and a few pots and pans etc. Which was all we needed .
It was late fall and a heavy frost covered the plank walk but it soon turned out to be a warm , bright sunny day . We soon found out that we had no speed boat and it was a long run down to Midge Creek , by the time we arived it was after noon .
The bridge that we were told that we would have to hike to before we could get down to the creek , because of the high steep banka was a two hour hike . This would not give us much time to to fish and to get back to the boat before dark , so as soon as we hit the dock we hit the trail ,an old road .
Gene was very excited about the time it would take us to hike to the bridge and as soon as we hit shore he was away , Kirby and I following . Ed , being the eldest and heavy , took his time .
The hillside was bare of bush and trees and one could see the the road winding in and out of the gullies for a long way . Kirby was not making as much time as I would have liked and after we left the lower end and the trees we could see Gene , way up the road going like mad . I decided to leave Kirby and try to catch up to Gene , which I did after he got winded and sat down with his shirt off , he was really sweating !
"How far we got to go yet ?" He says , "We came miles and the road is still miles ahead yet , lets go down right here and now or we get no fishin' !"
So, that's what we did . We got in a full hours fishing which got us our limits and it was a long climb back up to the road . As we struck out down the road darkness began to fall . Further down we came to the limit of Ed's hike . He left a sign , two sticks held upright with stones topped with chewing gum wrapper and a string between them streatched out across the road so we wouldn't miss it . In the dust he wrote ;
" Gone back to the boat.......Kopecki ."
Soon Gene and I were back at the boat to find Ed stomping up and down the short deck trying to keep warm. Gene had locked the cabin door and not told anyone where the key was hidden . Ed was not very pleased about it all but Gene soon had the stove going and a pot of hot water . We all had a strong shot of hot Rum which went down so good we had another .
Soon Kirby showed up with a nice batch of fish , which called for another toddy . Kirby had had a tough time getting up the bank too .
It was dark by now so we shoved off and headed north keeping well out into the lake so we could keep an eye on the mountains on each side as well on the North Star .
I set a course for 'The Outlet'.
Kirby decided to cook up a batch of fish , they decided to have some bread , butter and coffee with the fish .They cleaned some fish and had a large frypan full when Kirby decided the fish needed washing so he dipped the frying pan into the lake .....with the fish in it .... the fish , of course , slipped into the lake ! Another batch was cleaned and cooked .
The rums were taking effect on me so I went out on the deck for fresh air , I lay down beside the motorbox and fell asleep , remembering that before I had left the wheel in charge with Gene .
Sometime later I was roughly awakened by Gene , " Wake up Jim...Wake up ......We are lost !"
I looked around the mountains on each side of the lake , we were still plugging along , the North Star was still where it usually is .
" We travelled a long time " , he says , " I think we missed the Outlet , does this look like Kaslo scenery ? "
" Hell no!" I said , " Give me the wheel and I'll soon find out . I'll steer for the west shore and if the railway is there we're still south of the Outlet !"
As I neared shore someone was swinging a lantern , Gene shouted , " Where we at ?
The answer , " Midge Creek !"
Then the motor stopped ...out of gas .
We had some spare and as we were fussing around filling up they were trying to answer my question as to how we could still be at Midge Creek when we had left there many hours before headed north , and here we were , still where we started headed north ?
We then heard a slosh of oars , the guy who waved the lantern was comming to save us with some gas ....boy , that was service ! We did not need it , only to find out where we were .
We thanked him and I took over the wheel , checked the compas and North Star and headed north . The other guys had had it and were soon fast asleep .
I was on the lookout for the flasher at Pilot Bay and it seemed like a long time before a faint spot appeared and a long time before I reached it . I lined up with the beacon at the Outlet and the one on the hill which gave me the entrance to the Outlet , there was a heavy fog as we passed the beacon and i found the boats berth by swinging right and using the spot light which located the tops of the pilings .
" Here we are " I hollard . We were soon tied up and in the car as twilight was beginning to show in the east as we headed home .
" The big question is " I asked , " Where have you guys been ?To have travelled from Midge creek to Midge Creek ?"
They were a little sheepish about that !
After they had a second batch of fish they cut the motor and drifted while eating . There was no breeze so there was no danger of a wreck on the shore , but as the boat drifted it slowly reversed it's direction from north to south so when they started up again the clostest shoreline was still on the port side . They did not know that the boat had drifted from one side of the lake to the other . It was hours later that they realised they should be close to the Outlet and the beacons . They became concerned ! All were on lookout when they discovered large lumps on the surface which looked like "Duck Blinds!"
They decided they were near the railway trestle which crossed the lake in the shallows of the Kootenay River at Sirdar . They decided they had better reverse the motor quick before they became stuck in the sand of the flats . After plugging along for some time they were rescued by the section man at Midge Creek .
One hour fishing ...... all day and all night travelling ..... the fun we had ... and the fun we had kidding one another for a long time afterwards .
In the early 1920's Nelsons Police Force consisted of Chief Lay and Sgt . Alex Stewart . For some reason or other Alex and I hit it off pretty good . He , a big six foot three ex-pug and I a five foot six ex-serviceman , so I presume that I needed some looking after .
These little things just seen to have happen to me .
So , one evening three or four of us were having a quiet beer in the Legion when Gordon Beaton , the Water Works Engineer ( Govt .) sat down with us with a chum . Gordon was on my left , he wispered to me that he did not want a beer but a drink of whiskey . The country was dry and the Legion did not handle it . So I said I would go along with him if he would loan me five dollars ......OK .....so we drive down to the Overweightea and cash a check . Then we headed down the street and park in front of a small grocery , rooms upstairs .
" What is this Gordon ?"
" Come along , it's all right !"
So , alongside in the dark of the building , he pushed a button , a window opened upstairs and a woman's voice said ,
" I can't let you in , we're going to be raided tonight !"
Anyway Gordon said we would be alright and up the stairs we went to a drawing room .
She had a visitor , Slim the taxi man , who probably had informed re: the raid .
We had a couple of drinks around . This being winter I took off my overcoat and hat . Gordon dissapeared ... I asked Slim for the can which was in the hall at the head of the stairs . I did not shut the door as the light from the hall was all that I needed and while I was adjusting my clothing the buzzer sounded . So hesitating I watched through the partially open door to observe what was going on . Down the lady went and up she came followed by the Chief of Police and Sgt . Stewart .
' Oh boy !' I said to myself , ' How the Hell am I going to get out of this mess ?'
The Chief was ranting and raving , accusing the woman of bootlegging . Alex was standing a few feet away from me in the parlor door . I was in the dark .
The raid was on !
The bathroom door opened onto the bathtub. So when things quieted down I opened the door wide and stood in the tub right behind it .
Slim , the taxi driver rushed in and said , " Beat it! Go out the window , it's only a short drop to the ground!"
I didn't think much of that and he got out just as the Chief came in , " Who are you phoning to ?"
Slim replied , " Who in Hell ever heard of a phone in a bathroom ?"
So the driver left , not so Alex . There was a hat and a coat in the parlor to be accounted for . When all this was going on I could see them going back and forth from the top of the bathroom door . I was getting a bang out of it . Alex was still in search if the owner of the hat and coat . He stepped right into the bathroom, reached behind the door and grabbed me by the leg .
" Who is this?" He said , " I've got you!"
He shook my leg roughly and said , " We've got you !"
I stammered , " Jimmy Spencer ."
" Oh for gosh sakes ." He said laughingly . " Stay right where you are !" And he left.
He and the Chief rounded up the rest og the gang leaving me alone . I could see them going downstairs , off to jail .
Then I went into the parlor, put on my hat and coat , and left through the front door, a short while behind them .
Years later , Alex used to say to me , when he was retired , " We had a lot of fun in those days , Eh Jim ?' ...Well ?"
Alex and the Chief had as part of their duties the chore of collecting 'Taxes' , three hundred dollars every six months from the bootleggers . Those who thought it was a 'stiff tax' and refused to pay had free lodging for six months to cool off in the clink .
Well , in 1922 I started my first job after the first War painting and paperhanging in a corner cafe opperated by a three hundred pound Belgium woman , She had a little five foot scrawney Italian husband who was far from satisfying her needs (?) so she had an assistant along those lines , a big burley Scotsman , Scotty Fife . She had a voice like a foghorn , could cuss a sterak , could laugh a roar and could tell stories , boy , what a character ! Good natured if she liked you , but look out , if she did not .
Well Scotty died , could not take it (?) and Harry was the next pal .
Then she accused the Chief and Alex of doublecrossing her as they collected 'Taxes' more often than was agreed upon , the result , 'Madam' , as we called her , served her six monthsin the cooler . Even then she seemed to enjoy life . Then Harry got pinched and did his six months , which sort of broke up the cafe business.
She moved into a little home her husband (Italiano) had left to her when he left to live with his son in a quiet Italian District .
In July that year , hot as Hades , she phoned me , she had a job for me , would I come and look it over on my first opportunity ?
I knocked on the back door which was partially opened . Twice , no answer , pushing the door open I called , "Anybody home ?"
The voice from indoors ;
" Chimmy , is dot you ? I'm one sick woman , something I never had before . Come in , I'm in bed ."
So I found her there in bed . One hundred degrees outside and hotter indoors , she had on one sheet covering the mounds and valleys beneath .
" Oh Chimmy....I am one sick woman , something I never had before . I scrub de floor and one big pain hit me . I crawl to the telephone and call Harry . He come down and put me to bed and call the Doctor . Dr. McKenzie came and looked at me and say , " Madam , You're in the lumber business !"
I am in pain and see no joke , " What do you mean , I'm in de lumber business ?"
" Well Madam...you have Shingles!"
I guess I am always looking for a laugh , sometimes at the expense of my chums .
It must have been in the fourties ......sometime ?
Summertime was slack in my decorating business when a friend in Vancouver phoned . He had a lease on a bar in the Fraser River , twenty miles down river from Lollooet . He needed a carpenter to build a camp for six men , a cook and himself , so away I go !
I am ahead of myself with this last yarn . Sometime after the second World War I was at the Vancouver discharge centre , I had had four years with the R.C.A.F. Bill had been supervising heavy equipment opperations in the Aleutions for the U.S. Army , constructing landing strips for aircraft .
He and his wife lived at fourty ninth and Fraser in Vancouver , so after the War years we get together again swapping yarns .
He said , " I want your opinion of a guy ! Says he has some rich placer property out of Lillooet , but is broke and needs transportation back to his shack . I just paid his hotel bills and he is comming out tonight ."
Well , Bill decided to have a look at this 'rich' lease , and away we go , staying overnight at Lytton and the next day check on the gold , of which there is a considerable amount of none !
So Bill makes some kind of a deal and moves in . The next year Bill owns the lease and asks me to help prospect it . So with another fellow we are shaked up on a flat overlooking the river , in company with an old friend , Captian Morgan . He came inside a twenty six ounce bottle .
So , it happened at the time I was smoking a pipe and MacDonalds Plug . The other two , taylor made Players cigarettes and they ran out of smokes . They poked fun at me smoking a pipe , but I was smoking and they were getting in a bad way . I let them whittle some of my plug and roll cigarettes which did little good .
Along in the evening a visitor dropped in . A water works engineer from Victoria here to locate a water guage on the river at a certain point but could not locate the corner stakes . Bill told them where they were and the chap passed aroing Players cigarettes . In an hour or so he returned and said he made contact with the corner stakes and thanked us for our help . He also said he had dropped his pack of cigarettes on the trail which we might locate in the morning .
So Bill and friend were looking forward to a smoke in the morning .
I had named our camp , "HERETIZ" , abbreviation for Here It Is !
The crazy wheels in my head got going again . In retaliation for the razzing I got for smoking a pipe I picked up an empty Players cigarette package in the garbage dump early the next morning , put inside it one word ...'HERETIZ"... and put it on the trail about a hundred yards from the shack . We had breakfast and away these guys go looking for a smoke .
In a couple of minutes I hear one of them hollar , "Hear it is !"
What they got was .."HERETIZ"...and my name was mud................more to come!
There are times when humor catches up with us and the more we are capible of recognizing it the better off we are , for without humor it would indeed be a sour world , in spite of the lack of it today .
So some funny things have happened to me , and when they do I go all out to meet it , for I love fun .
About 1937 I was in the Painting and Decorating Business having a shop of wall paper and paints etc. and contracting .
Our Police Chief Lay had just retired replaced by Alex Stewart who had a lot of cleaning up to do including years of accumulation of dust , dirt and junk in the City Court House and his office . He asked me to drop around and clean thing up for him in the way of wallpaper , varnish etc. He was up on a step ladder on the morning I went around to see what he wanted , cleaning junk from the top of the cupboards so I took them from him as he handed the stuff down . Along came a stuffed Pheasant , dirty, of course , but a beautyful job !
" Do you want it Jim ?"
" Sure Alex , I'll take it home ."
So , on ariving home for lunch , truck parked in the alley , Pheasant swinging by the legs on a block of wood I was comming through the back yard garden , borders of flowers , a bit of lawn and a few vegitables on a small lot . The spread-out rhubarb leaves gave me one of those sudden inspitations .
So , the birs being dusted off I placed it among the rhubarb leaves , covering the wooden block at the feet .
After lunch , the kids , Dawn and Leigh and Mom and I would have a few minutes to check the garden , the kids first , me last . Mom spotted the bird , " Dawn , Leigh !" She called in a whisper . The kids , mistified , came back . Mom pointed out to the bird , they were awestruck at it's beauty and presence .
" Do you see it Daddy ?"
" Oh yes , isn't it a beauty ? Shall we see how close to it we can get before it flys away ?"
So , the kids looking on ( also the neighbours , 'tho we didn't know it at the time ), Mom and I on our hands and knees crept slowly towards the unsuspecting bird . We got to within three feet of it , all excited , and I started to reach out for it before it flew away . I took a quick grab for it's neck and ...Had it ! Including the wooden feet .
Oh Boy ..... Was my name Mud !
But laugh ! .....................if no one saw the joke in it , I did!
When I told Alex down at the police office he laughed and laughed ! He never did stop talking about it to all his friends .
Every time I saw Alex after that moment he always grinned and said ,
" Remember the Pheasant ?"
Being of adventurous nature I have at times experienced some rather exciting experiences , a little more I think , than what happens to the regular guy ...and others , not so much exciting but serious .
Let me see .... Oh yes .... I will quote three of them because for some ocult reason they all happened on the twenty second day of the month . The other things were on the twenty eighth .
I see I have room to write two pages , so will have to make it short .
First .... Twenty second October 1917 which I recounted earlier .
Second ....Twenty second January 1918 , Admitted to the 12 th, Canadian Hospital at Rhyes , Wales . very sick , flu , later T.B. , nearly packed it up ! Two months in bed , three months at No. 12 , one month at Kenny Hill , Liverpool , one month at Shaughinessy Hospital in Vancouver and six months at Sanitarium at Balfour , B.C. , Kootenays , taking cure for T.B. Discharged 100% disability in 1921 .
And now number three !
But why the good Lord needs me and refuses to let me part this earth I do not know but on the twenty second of June , 1965 He sure was against admitting me to His home , and the other chap down below did not want me also . So I had to , in spite of Heaven and Hell , remain on this earth regardless of whether or not I had earned it , so......................
I have actually never to this day really understood just what caused the incident , so I will relate it to you , perhaps you will let me know the answer .
It was a beautyful warm day in June ( the 22 nd.) . I had a home on the waterfront at Sitkum Creek at Nine Mile Narrows on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake . I had boats , of course , tethered to the float .
I was standing , admiring the water , scrambling and churning with driftwood comming down with the high water .
About a quarter mile upstream , on the opposite side of the lake lived a batchelor who had to cross back and forth by boat . This day I could see him on his beach and he was calling across the lake . From the urgency of his calls I thought he needed help . Well , as no help came from people opposite , I jumpped into my twelve footer and high-tailed it , to see if he was in any trouble .
Travelling upstream against a strong current in the narrows , about twenty miles per hour , dodging logs and driftwood , I crossed over from the down current to the back eddy , also a strong current , at opposite directions . When I hit the back eddy the steering lever of the outboard was snached out of my hand by the sudden blow against the rudder , the change in the flow of the current . This caused the boat to heel over into a very sharp turn which threw me backwards , overboard into the cold water . I lost contact woth the boat , hit the water on my back , feet and arms spread . The boat was still moving fast but in a tight circle .
As the water closed over me I said to myself , 'How in Hell are you going to get out of this mess ?'
The day before I was out trolling and had tied an old piece of rorren sashcord to the tiller so I could sit at either end and control the boat while I changed bait and hooks . Now then , believe it or not , this rotten one quarter inch piece of sashcord whipped through the air and dropped into my left hand .
I was actually at a loss as to how I was going to get out of this predicament . I could not swom to shore even without my boots on , the current would take me down . I also doubt that I could not have stood the cold water for very long , but when the sashcord dropped into my hand I knew at once what to do . I reversed my position in the water by the pull of the string from on my back , now facing towards the boat which was comming around towards me and I was able to reach out as it was going by , grabbed the gunwale with my right hand , reached over with my left hand to slow the motor and climb aboard . I was cold , in light clothes but straightened out the boat and continued on to see what was troubling Johnie Marquis .
The situation was over in just a few seconds .
As I approached him on the beach he was in a terrible state , unable to speak . He witnessed the whole thing , saw me go under and thought I might drown . He didn't see me get back into the boat as it was tipped away from his vision , all he could see was the bottom of the boat .
There was nothing he could do to save me either , but when I showed up in the boat and headed his way he could not believe his eyes and by the time he got his breath all he could say was ,"Jimmy ......I saw you go under .....How in Hell did you get back in the boat again ?"
I didn't stop to discuss the matter , I was cold , so I ran him across the lake , his boat was on that side . That's why he was yelling at the neighbour for , to bring it over for him . He had come out from town on the train .
....Cary on Jimmy !............