Ruth Masters

Here we are in your library. I’ve been looking around the room, and wondering about this shovel and why it’s gold-plated.

I welcome a chance to explain. Whenever we’re camping, I’m the one who always ensures that we have a nice sanitary biffy, so I always take a shovel out on these camp trips and I make sure there’s a good satisfactory outhouse.  So they were poking fun when they had this celebration for me, and they came with a shovel to indicate respect for my sanitary biffies. That’s my qualification as an outhouse builder.

There’s a picture over there with a cougar in it. Do you have any more animal stories?

That was just down on the river here.  My neighbour across the way was down there one day with his little dog, Frisky, on this side of the river and he happened to look up and there’s that cougar, obviously looking over Frisky for his dinner. You can see the expression in his eyes.  As fortune would have it, a photographer happened by with his camera and got the picture, and you can just see the expression in that cougar’s eyes. He’s looking at Frisky for his dinner.

Have you had any other encounters with animals?

I’ve never had a serious encounter with them. I’ve never had a really bad experience. No. I’ve been very lucky. I don’t hunt, for one thing. I don’t have anything to do with killing animals for fun – and I’ve been on a number of blockades when we went up to the north end of the island one time to annoy the trophy hunters, and a number of us were arrested. The case hung around for months and nothing happened and finally the judge stayed the charges, so unless I do something bad again, we won’t hear about it.

Could you talk about the Greenway?

Oh, well, that’s the Masters Greenway and wildlife corridor just down the road here.  It was a gift from my family to the district. Have you been on it?  Keep it in mind, in the spring when the trilliums are out, there’s a nice trail back here at the river, and then you can go in from this end and you can get in from the bottom end and I’ll guarantee you won’t have seen that many trilliums in your life! Go down and make sure you go through there. I turned it over to the Regional District a few years ago. I didn’t need it and it was a gift to the whole Valley. Of course I don’t have to pay taxes on it anymore. That’s an advantage right there.

How did you come to decide you would put this land in trust?

The greenway? Oh well, it’s just as much there as it ever was and no more taxes so it was a win-win, shall we say. And people are respecting it too. I go through every few days and I seldom get even a gum wrapper so I would say people are respecting it and that’s really what counts. If I had to go and clean up wheelbarrows of garbage I’d be trying to get it back.

Is it true you’re not allowed to name any more properties in BC because you’ve reached your limit?  You’ve named 50 lakes already…

I’d forgotten. They did put a limit on me. I’d forgotten about that.

What are some of the places that you’ve named?

Well, there’s the Masters Greenway and Wildlife Corridor here, and I’ve named quite a few places. Century Sam Lake we got for Sid Williams.  Schjelderup Lake, that’s one of the winners. He was the most decorated Canadian officer in the Second World War and I got Schjelderup Lake named for him.  He was one of the most decorated heroes, and I was one of the last people to see him alive.  He was in prison and they had lined him up to shoot him – he explained that as the countdown came, he wanted to take a dive and hit the deck, but he realized he mustn’t disgrace himself in front of his men so he didn’t. He stood there waiting to be shot, and it was a fake. They didn’t kill him. I got Schjelderup Lake named for him years later and I had that in mind at the time.

I named a lot of features around the Island, and many of them are for guys we lost in the war. I don’t want those guys to be forgotten.  And Haig-Brown, of course I got that but I don’t think he was a war veteran. Mount Stubbs, I got that. I said to his widow, if Bill had been a mean guy there wouldn’t have been any Mount Stubbs, not by me anyway, but he was really an outstanding principal. There’s his picture up there. I remember him saying to us kids, and this is an exact quote, “War is the greatest experience of your life, provided you don’t get killed”–  so every time I was in a bombing raid I thought of Bill Stubbs.