Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recollections of Jean Cameron Kelly, Part III

Jean Kelly Cameron was the second school teacher in Peace River, arriving in December of 1913. In "I Remember Peace River, Alberta and Adjacent Districts 1800s - 1913 Part I", Cameron recalls her journey to Peace River, her memories of school and how Peace River Crossing looked in 1913. The first installment of the Recollections was published in our first newsletter sent out to our Members. For more membership information, please visit: http://peacerivermuseum.blogspot.com/2008/08/membership-drive-2008.html
call the Museum at 780-624-4261.
Recollections of Jean Cameron Kelly, Part III

"...Past the Hudson's Bay Post we drove west until we came to the River, passing on the way the Hudson's Bay residence, presently the home of Mrs. Ann Cambridge, which then stood fairly close to the present CKYL building, and just across the road from it stood the whitewashed log building which was the house of the fabulous Captain John Gullion, a riverboat captain, widely known as the strongest man on the Peace River, and tales of his feats of strength were unbelievable. A little farther down the river we passed the little log Anglican church which was then the only Protestant church in the Crossing. The minister was the Reverend Robert Holmes. Captain Magar's handsome Siwash wife (a Dudeward from the British Columbia Coast) was the organist, and often a soloist.

Crossing the river on the ice we drove up the George Hill to Mr. George's homestead. Until recently, when it was purchased by the Department of Highways, it was the Percy Eyre place, and was owned by John Lang-Hodge prior to that. We were welcomed by Mrs. George, the former Louise Auger from Wabasca, and her four children. Three of them Bertie, Alice and Ethel, were pupils of mine, but Emma was a baby in the mossbag.

The next night being New Year's Eve, we all went to the dance, which was held in the dining room of the new log hotel. Mr. George had had his piano moved there for the occasion, and there was a fiddler, also a large crowd of people, both white and native, all of whom seemed to be having a wonderful time. There was a surplus of men so there were no wall-flowers. My foot being too painful to dance, I ended up at the piano accompaning the fiddler for the evening. [NOTE: Miss Kelly's foot had been burned on her way to Peace River by a foot warmer]

At the stroke of twelve, there were twelve revolver shots from outside, whereupon everyone kissed the ones nearest him or her. Mr. George had prepared me for this and also told me that on account of this custom, New Year was called "Kissing Day" by the natives. Some of the ladies I remember at that dance were Mrs. Allan MacKenzie, Mrs. Pierre Gauvreau, Mrs. Anderson (wife of the O.C. of the R.N.W.M.P.), Mrs. H.A. George, Mrs. Willie George, Mrs. Gullion, Mrs. M.R. Upton and Mrs. W.J. Doherty.

On New Year's Day we drove to the home of the M.L.A. for the constituency, Mr. T. Allan Brick, a son of the Reverend Gough Brick, an Anglican missionary who founded the Mission at Shaftesbury about twelve miles up the river. We had a wonderful New Year's dinner there. There was stuffed turkey with vegetables and cranberry sauce and a real English plum pudding. We spent the night there, and I learned the local meaning of the word "camp." It did not mean roughing it in the open or in a tent, it simply meant that you spent the night somewhere. So, we camped at Bricks' that night and the next day drove home and moved across the Peace to Mr. George's town house, a large story and a half house which was destroyed by fire in 1966.

There were four bedrooms upstairs, and the greater part of the downstairs was in one large room, originally used as a sort of ball-room when the factor gave a dance for his trappers in the spring at the conclusion of the fur buying business of the winter. This large room was also my schoolroom, where I taught by day, and at night rolled down my bedroom on the floor behind the stove and slept there. In a couple of weeks one of the upstairs rooms was furnished and set up for my bedroom.

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