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MARCH 24, 2011

Pennyworth • 33

This Was Then... With Old Ike

November 1955, Dry Creek floods parking lot

Ron Young recently dropped off a scan of the front page of the West Coast Advocate from November 10, 1955. The pictures, although not the best of quality, still clearly show the extent of the damage done the week before when Dry Creek overflowed, flooding the parking lot used by MacMillan and Bloedel Somass Division employees. “In a matter of minutes, cars in the lot, which is located at Dunbar and Second, were hood deep in a muddy flood,” the caption under the pictures read. “The sorriest looking sight in the parking lot was a 1955 Pontiac, center background (picture on the right), owned by Ivan Tilley of Alberni. The new car and a number of others were thoroughly water-soaked in spite of fast action by tow trucks from Buffie’s, Redman Motors, Central Auto Body, Chatwin Motors and Ken’s Auto Wreckers.” If you were working at Somass Division 56 years ago when the creek did indeed rise, share the moment at:

Found in the files I found a brief mention of the second annual Cherry Creek sports day inside the West Coast Advocate from July 2, 1964. The event, held on Sunday, June 28 was well attended, according to this report: “The customers brought their appetites to the big beef barbecue staged in conjunction with Cherry Creek’s big field day Sunday. Some 1200 patrons consumed 1189 pounds of beef, 700 pounds of potatoes,

and some 200 pounds of cabbage cole slaw; total attendance was well over the 3,000 mark, double that of last year.” The newspaper also mentioned the day ended with a hose-coupling race staged by members of the Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire department. Does anyone recall how the Cherry Creek team did in the competitions staged in conjunction with the annual B.C. firefighters convention that summer? Lets talk about it at:

Port Alberni celebrates 26th annual Seniors’ Week June 5-11 Letters have gone out to businesses and groups who participated in last year’s “Salute to Seniors” event, but now Deb Barr, recreation programmer for Parks & Recreation, would like to issue a community-wide invitation to become involved. “If you would like more information


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on how your group or business can participate, please call me at Echo Centre (250-720-2524) or email at: deb_barr@,” Deb advises. “We would like folks to let us know before April 15, because the Seniors’ Week flyer listing all of the activities, discounts, raffles, etc. taking place will be printed on May 5.”

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34 •


MARCH 24, 2011

This Was Then... It happened in 1975

With Old Ike

Do you recall when Port Alberni hosted a twoday meeting of Kinsmen representatives from all 10 zones in the province? It was August 9 and 10, 1975. The event included a unique eight-hour business session on the Saturday, on five small boats down the Alberni Inlet. “We took this opportunity to discuss progress on a peaceful, one-to-one basis,” provincial governor Bob deClarke commented. “We switched over every hour, and even caught one fish!” The day ended at the Kin Hut where the local Kinsmen and Kinettes hosted a steak barbecue for their guests. Port Alberni Mayor Howard McLean was on hand to welcome the visitors, and later helped in a tree-planting ceremony outside the hut. The tree, a tamarack from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, embodied K-40 member Mayor Howard McLean (squatting left) aided provincial Kinsmen governor Bob deClarke of Port the 1975 Kinsmen theme Alberni in planting a tamarack seedling near the Kinsmen Hut at the fall fair grounds on Saturday, August of “watch the tree grow 9, 1975. Incoming local Kinsmen president Hal Bonora, holding the shovel, looks on, together with Kinsmen while we grow.” Each of Canada’s district governors representatives from all over B.C.

was given one of these trees by their national executive. Sunday’s business meeting ratified the district executive’s actions to date and also established guidelines for the 197576 Kinsmen programs. It was reported that the weekend ended in a mood of eagerness to tackle the year’s goals – an improved public relations program and membership drive. By the way, the Port Alberni Kinsmen and Kinettes will be hosting the District 5 Kinvention this year. “We’re expecting up to 200 visitors from B.C. and the Yukon on the May long weekend,” Steve Kalugin reported. On another note – any past Kinsmen member who still has a red jacket is asked to please contact Gary Ruissen, president of the Port Alberni Kinsmen Club at 250-724-4342. There is a shortage of the jackets, which can no longer be ordered.

Reader response • Bill Ethier emailed last Friday about the item on former resident Jeanette Denise Quesnel, who became a Trans-Canada Air Lines stewardess back in May 1960. “After reading your article in reference to my cousin Jeanette, I phoned her sister Joan in Abbotsford,” Bill wrote. “I found

out that Jeanette worked as a as kids here in the Valley.” stewardess for five years and also married Martin Donati in • Then last Saturday Rodney Rogers Montreal, where they stayed for emailed this memory: 20 years. “In Sept. 1964 I took my very They then moved to the Lower first flight, ever,” he recalled. “I Mainland and lived in Surrey until flew to Fredericton to visit my her death one year ago (March father who was ill (he died 10 15, 2010). We were all very close weeks later). I flew TCA out of

Vancouver and the stewardess was Ms. Quesnel. I was not a very good flyer but she was very helpful and we had some conversation back and forth. We recognized each other but I knew her mother Eva, quite well, she worked in the main Post Office.” Rodney also noted that back then


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MARCH 24, 2011

Pennyworth • 35

This Was Then... With Old Ike

Looking back at March over the years Judy and Morley (Moe) Eager on March 23, 1966, a couple of days before the Grand Opening and “Open House” of their Timber Lodge – billed as the Valley’s most beautiful Guest Lodge, only 5 minutes from downtown Alberni & Port Alberni. Over the years, successive owners have maintained the Eagers’ ultra-modern Motel and Coffee Shop as “the special occasion place at the top of the town.” This 43-year-old picture shows Bill Carter preparing for a Port Alberni Boxing Club program on March 9, 1968 under the direction of trainer-manager Jim Hills. Hills, trainers Bob Schariff and Sammy May revived the Boxing Club a few years before this photo was taken.

Chris Moss was one of the technicians on duty at the local Department of the Environment weather office (on the Somass River flats) 38 years ago. In this photo, taken from the AV Times on March 29, 1973, Chris is seen checking the instruments before passing on the weather report to the community.

Rick Hansen’s sister Chris hosted one of the 38 displays at Port Alberni’s third annual Ability Fair at Glenwood Centre back on March 8 & 9, 1986. Chris took time out of her busy schedule of public appearances with Vancouver’s Man in Motion head office to attend the fair on behalf of her famous brother. In this picture, taken on March 8, Chris points to Newcastle, Australia, through which Rick was scheduled to wheel that day on his world tour to raise money for spinal cord research and rehabilitation.

Carl Vesterback captured this moment of determination as Mike DeJong (number 6) of ADSS Armada drives around defender Jason Jew of Mt. Douglas Rams on Thursday, March 3, 1988. DeJong scored 22 points, including six three-point shots from long range, as ADSS won that senior boys’ Vancouver Island Tournament game.

36 •


MARCH 24, 2011

This Was Then... With Old Ike

Early days of Beaver Creek as told by Meg Trebett Thirty-seven years ago Meg Trebett, author, newspaper woman and member of a pioneer Valley family, told a meeting of the Alberni Valley Museum and Historical Society about the early days of Beaver Creek (at the turn of the last century). Ruth Roberts wrote the following account of Meg’s talk, which appeared in the AV Times on Thursday, Sept. 26, 1974. With an “I remember when in her voice,” Mrs. Trebett began to recount her life on the family farm, seven miles north of the Old Town of Alberni. Excerpts taken from her talk reveal that the charming lady was born in 1908 on the place, which her maternal grandfather took up in the 1880s. One hundred acres of the farm was turned over by grandpa Joseph Halpenny, to Mrs. Trebett’s father Thomas Plaunt in 1905. One of her first memories was when the family home, built in the 1880s, burned in May of 1912. She recalls a greater disaster hit the family five years later when her mother died, leaving six children, the oldest 12, and the youngest a new-born baby. “I’m supposed to tell you what life was like in Beaver Creek district while I was growing up. The invitation to speak at this meeting was an invitation to wallow in a pool of happy childhood memories. But I made the effort to be realistic…I’d almost forgotten that were rain and slush, mud and manure, mortgages and sick cows…but if anyone had suggested we were


underprivileged children we wouldn’t have understood the term. Life was very good. Leaky boots, cold bedrooms and plain fare was the norm.” Referring to the lives of the women in those early days, Mrs. Trebett read “Mrs. Bayne (a friend for 20 years) and my mother were hard pressed to get through the endless chores of housekeeping. They scrubbed bare floors and swept them with corn brooms, they washed clothes on scrubbing boards, did a lot of starching, boiled white things over wood fires, pressed with flat irons heated on kitchen stoves…they made their own bread…made butter…planted the vegetable garden…took responsibility for the chickens…preserved fruit… sewed for her family and knitted, crocheted or embroidered by the light of the coal oil lamp. “The Beaver Creek women were innovative. They learned to adapt recipes when the hens weren’t laying and they could mend a leak in a saucepan with a bolt and washer.” In March of 1916, a letter from Mrs. Bayne to Mrs. Plaunt concerned the arrangements made for the gathering of the choir of Rev. Cook of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for a church social. The letter concludes, “The Home Guards got home early last night…” Mrs. Trebett went on to state: “I remember the Home Guards of World War I…men and boys of our district..formed fours, presented arms and marched to and fro in our orchard or in one

of the fields where hay or grain had been harvested. When the roll was called on one of these evenings, probably these farmers would answer: Ike Somers, Stanley Bayne, Fred and Ben Drinkwater, Bob and Melville Darby, Arthur Thompson, perhaps Bob Orr and Jim McNeil Sr. Among the younger men would be Sydney Bayne, Keith Dickson, Jimmie McNeil and Jim Pryde, marking time with the old timer until they could join up and become real soldiers. Mrs. Darby, then Lizzie McNeil, remembers that she and some of the other girls drilled with their fathers and brothers. She heard later that the town matrons had been scandalized by such unladylike behaviour.” Going to town was an exciting day in the lives of farmers and their families, but it also was a hardship. Friday was the Plaunts’ day to go to town. Sometimes Dad would drive Dexter (the family horse) in the buggy and make quite good time. It was only occasionally that the children would be allowed to go along for the ride. “I remember my first sight of the bright lights of the city (Alberni). It must have been in the early 1920s…all of us (went in the Democrat). For some reason he drove around by what are now Malabar and Falls Road to come down River Road. And there across the water were the electric lights shining like hundreds of stars. It was a thrilling sight.” Mrs. Trebett turned her thoughts to “everyday life in Beaver Creek.

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Meg Trebett in 1974 to Beaver Creek. Those were the days when… those were the days when kids made their own entertainment.” **Ike’s note** Meg (Margaret) Trebett worked with Fred Duncan at the Twin Cities Times and the AV Times as a writer and editor. She always had a keen interest in preserving the Valley’s rich history. Many folks can also probably recall her work on “Pioneer Parade” a series of broadcasts on CJAV back in 1946 – 47. Thanks to on-air regulations at the time that dictated those shows be scripted, we can still get a glimpse of life in the Alberni Valley over 65 years later. Watch for more on our early past, in the near future.

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The old log schoolhouse was gone when I started school at the age of five. I think it must have been around 1908 that the frame building superseded it, and that’s where I got my education. It stood on the west side of the road opposite where Bainbridge Road is now.” “… the walls of the room (schoolroom) were of cracked plaster and the floor was of bare boards, badly splintered. I’m sure that in my early years that teacher had to double as janitor… “…Miss Jean Duff was my first teacher. She was plump and, we thought, beautiful. Her Vancouver clothes we regarded as gorgeous. “….Most of the teachers we had in Beaver Creek stayed for one year only. The years run together when one is in school, but during the interim between the time when I was afraid to put up my hand for permission to go out to the toilet at the back of the school grounds and the time I had with the horrible experience of going to town to write the high school entrance exams, we had a lot of fun. “…The 15-minute morning recess was long enough for a quick game of pom-pom pullaway or anti-over as we ate tidbits from our lunches.” Mrs. Trebett took her listeners up to the days of her teenage years when her horizons were widened by an old model T Ford truck and she and her girlhood friends went to dances and swim parties. She concluded “… we lived before herd laws, paved roads, electricity and telephones came

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MARCH 24, 2011

Pennyworth • 37

This Was Then... With Old Ike

Woodward’s $1.49 Day story becoming major event This rare 1961 photo (loaned to me in 1982 by the late Neale Pennington) shows Woodward’s taking delivery of their new fleet of trucks. On the left Woodward’s store manager, Jim Skinner, shakes hands with Bill Chatwin. Next to Bill is a young Neale Pennington

Interest has grown so much in the Historical Society’s upcoming AGM and the story about Woodward’s legendary $1.49 Day, that the May 11th meeting has been moved to the Cedar Room at Echo Centre. “This gives us access to the stage and part of the west end of the room,” organizer Meg Scoffield notes. “We also have the Echo Centre lobby showcase booked from May 1-13, to display some Woodward’s memorabilia.” For details on the Alberni District Historical Society or the annual general meeting, please email Meg Scoffield at: or leave a message at the Archives at 250-723-2181, local 267.

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About last week’s school pictures Yvonne Arentsen emailed regarding Una Hall’s 1958 Grade Five Class picture from Alberni Elementary. “The boy (the only one wearing glasses) 2nd from the right on the bottom row is John Arentsen, my late husband, who passed away Feb. 16, 2009.” John Arentsen in 1958

Dean Holder emailed to say “I was out in the sun that day 38 years ago” in reference to the picture of Alberni kindergarten pupils taken on March 2, 1973. Dean, who now lives in Nanaimo, confirmed that he was the blondhaired youngster on the north side of the circle and that the teacher (Mrs. Wright) was the 3rd person behind him. “I was visiting the Valley (to see my parents) yesterday,” Dean emailed last Sunday. “My mom recognized this photo, as did I because I have the original (cut-out) somewhere and just looked at it a few weeks ago, along with my report card from that kindergarten class.”

Now, starting each Thursday, go on-line for This Was Then pages, complete with pictures. Simply go to www.avtimes. net and check the link to the Pennyworth on the left hand side of the page. [Ike Patterson photo]

Remember Crystal, Leila and Tricia? It was April 24, 1997 when Crystal Gill (TIM), Leila Sturgeon (HOR) and Tricia Gereluk (TONS) made their mark in local history as being the first ones to bite into a Tim Horton’s donut when the restaurant opened on Johnston Road. The girls arrived at 5 am 14 years ago, with their foreheads labeled, to get their reward at opening time. Will they return next month to “mark” the anniversary?

**Ike’s note** I was looking through “The Phoenix” (Alberni District High School newspaper) from Monday, Oct. 25, 1954 recently, and found this cute item written by someone known as “the Aztec.” If you know the author of this 57-year-old piece of creative writing please email me at:

Don’t Read This! Don’t read this! Please don’t continue to read this article. There is nothing of value to be gained, and it will do you no good. If you won’t, we’ll only prove to me and yourself and everyone who knows you that you do not have any will power. This article will do more harm than good. If you don’t turn the page, I will be forced to do something drastic. So you won’t turn the page, huh? Just you listen to me this once; don’t go on to the next paragraph. All right tell me, have you gained anything by reading this article? If you have you are not being truthful. You have now wasted 45 seconds of your time. Was it worth it? The Aztec

Alberni Valley Times - THIS WAS THEN - March 24, 2011  

Alberni Valley Times - THIS WAS THEN - March 24, 2011