Maureen: Lake Trail and Willemar, all the way up to Arden Road.
Dan: If you look at the maps here, in 1937 you see there’s not much development and it’s mostly farms. And here is 1957. That little doohickey corner there is where we are. And in 40 years, to 1977, you see how much the trees have grown just in that time. Here, it was all logged to pieces. And then, in forty years it starts to come back and this is more like what Courtenay looks like today. All this entire side of 1st Street, none of this exists any more except for Masters’ greenway. This was all forested. Then it started to get cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.
Marguerite: So that’s an interesting thing, you can think about what was it like and what’s it going to be like. We’re right in the middle. It’s our history.
Where’s your house on this map?
Marguerite: It would have been in this part, here. This is the old house that burned down and then they rebuilt over here. And the barn is there and this sort of wagon trail went down into the flats, your playing fields, and it continued on somehow, too, went by the new house, and right up through, you come out by the bicycle store. We used to live up here. Malcolm used to live down here. And we’d cut across, going to school, and walk down the old wagon trail. And the streetlights only came to here. You were walking up Lake Trail Road in the dark. There’s a bear crossing below that little hill….
Maureen: I always liked it because the apple trees grew there, and every morning I could get my apple.
Jim: So you guys lived in the house right here.
Marguerite: No, that was our grandparents’ house.
Maureen: Right here, there’s this little building and that was the storage shed. And then the garage was on this side, and here is the road down to the flats.
Marguerite: And this was a dairy farm, and our father and his two brothers had to milk cows before they went to school.
Maureen: And the sister was working in the house. There was our father, Aunt Mary and our Uncle Johnny, the other brother. But under this building here was the root cellar, and Marguerite and I had to store potatoes in that root cellar. Have you ever put your finger in a rotten potato?
Was that mostly a potato farm down the hill?
Maureen: The potatoes were all planted up here. That was the King apple tree and that’s where we got our apples.
Marguerite: And there’s a fir tree there. They saved the fir tree.
Maureen: And it’s probably still there.
And what is she wearing there, in the middle?
Marguerite: A fur coat, that I still have. Our father, and John, they did trapping too. You have to realize they had to get money somehow or another to live, and they went trapping. I think our father was about 16, and they did trap a very large beaver, so they had it made into a shawl for their mother, a stole.
Jim: I was just wondering about the dairy farm that, as I understand it, was down on the Puntledge and Lake Trail fields, there, the lower fields.
Maureen: No, the barn was where the cows were milked and everything. The field up here, they said that on this bench part, that field was destroyed by domestic animals. That would be the cows, because all this clearing wasn’t done then. And they separated the milk and cream down in the basement of the house. Oh, I don’t like milk, because it’s a different smell when they’re processing it. Our grandfather was very involved in the old creamery here, on the board of directors.
Jim: Which is down where the library is now. That was a cooperative venture, too, wasn’t it?
Marguerite: And they had a whistle or something.
Maureen: At 12 o’clock, that’s when we got out of school to go downtown.
Malcolm: That old barn they built, something really different about it, they made all the shakes out of fir.
Jim: Must have been awfully good fir. I’ve made a lot of shakes by hand myself, out of cedar.
Maureen: You realize that fir was old growth. They utilized everything that they could, from the land.
Jim: So what was going on on the lower part of the field?
Marguerite : That was hay-fields and oats. The horses are pulling the wagon and they took the hay, brought it all up into these round piles, it dried that way, and then they heaved it up on this wagon and there were snakes in there too.
Jim: It didn’t get made into bales. They didn’t have bales.
Malcolm: No, no such things.
Marguerite : No it was all by hand, everything was done by hand. And when they were clearing the land, I had to be only three or four. It sort of sticks in my memory, I can still see it. I’m wandering around down there somewhere, I don’t know how I got down that trail, and it was just beautiful. There had been fires, and all this white stuff lying there. It looked so soft, like a bed of down feathers, and so I thought, “Oh, I’m going for a walk in that” – scream! I don’t know what happened after that because it was fire below it. That’s how they were clearing all the time. There were no Cats or…
Jim: so that was all ash that you were walking on!
Marguerite : It was total hot ashes! My feet aren’t scarred though, so… I don’t even know how they heard me screaming.
Maureen: With your voice I’m sure they heard the message!
Marguerite: But anyway, those are the kind of stories you need to hear about, because that makes the history real.