Harry Morgan and a young partner, (MacDonald) came up to Bella Coola in 1906. From Bella Coola on horseback the two followed an Indian trail to Ootsa Lake. Because the trail was poor, they lost part of their pack train. In September of the same year Mr. Morgan and his partner settled on Morgan Flats, later being called Ootsa Lake Settlement or Ootsabonket, being the Indian name.
The partners encountered their first human being which was an Indian. Mr. Morgan communicating with him in the Chinook language found his name to be Skin Tyce, meaning a big shot in the trapping business. Skin Tyee stayed with them during the winter.
In the spring Of 1907, pack trains started to come in over the Cariboo Trail. Some of the early settlers coming on these trains were the Morgans, Barker, Mitchell, Mark Brennan, the Bennetts, the Shelfords, Heely, Nelson, Matheson, and the Carrion family. Those people settled and farmed, building roads and in 1916 the first school with 7 children. Miss Florence Hinton who had just come from Enqland taught.
In those early days there was no doctor but their there wasn't anyone sick. Most every woman had her own cure for what ailed her family.
Wild life was plentiful so if a family ran out of potatoes there was always meat.
The first sawmill in the area was set up by the Harrison family, taking two years to get it out from Houston. The power was supplied by a portable steam boiler.
Coming twice a year, the mail was brought by pack train. Later the mail came once a month from Houston, after the completion of the railroad. With the railroad completed in 1914, more settlers and up-to-date machinery were brought in.
Mary changes took place in 1914. The school was replaced at Ootsa and one started at Streatham. The first road was also completed from Ootsa Lake via Nadina to Houston.
In 1939 Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir visited Ootsa Lake, very impressed and greatly pleased to dedicate the valley as Tweedsmuir Park.
The second world war came in 1940, taking many of the young boys. The three Shelford boys returned while others were not so fortunate.
On March 10, 1952 many old timers gathered at the Wistaria Hall built in 1922. It was final that the Ootsa area was to be flooded.
Many of the old settlers moved and now the area is flooded. Some of the old timers moved away but others remained in the area.
While many families were settling at the west end of Ootsa Lake, others were settling at the east end. Coming over the Bella Coola Trail was the Horr family in 1910. The mother and son settled their land and moved when Ootsa lake was flooded. A post office was started being called Marilla. This was abandoned due to the lack of people.
After Mrs. Horr's death, her son sold the land and moved to the United States.
Mrs. Ab Beaver:
This was written by Mrs. Ab Beaver for her mother, Mrs. May McGrane, who was the first white women to settle in the area.
Harry Morgan came over the mountains from Kitimat to Tahtsa Lake March 17, 1905, skated the length of Ootsa and went out by Bella Coola. He returned with a pack-train of horses, and Johnny Barker as companion. The two spent that winter at Ootsa Lake (and every winter from then till his death in 1937).
Other bachelors came in and took up land the length of Ootsa Lake, some going on to Grassy Plains; for example, Mr. Blaney with his wife and daughter Jenny; and Jim Newman.
Each year my uncle made one or more trips to Bella Coola with his pack-train for supplies for the settlers and themselves. It was inevitable that he traded with the Indians who lived at Skin's Lake, five miles from us.
In 1901 my uncle had persuaded his younger brother, Jim, my Dad, to bring his wife (Mrs. McGrave now) and son, Jimmy, to the ranch at Ootsa. He met them at Bella Coola in June. They had been waiting there at the only hotel for three weeks living on a diet of fish three times a day.
My folks had lived at Phoenix, B. C. - now a ghost town near Greenwood. The mines were closing that year. The Keefe brothers came from there and so did Mr. Fay Short, then about seventeen.
My brother rode horseback from Bella Coola on a pillow in front of my mother's saddle. On the trip in we met up with the Eakin family and the Mitchell family. The Horr family came that year or the next. The three Bennett brothers had come to Ootsa in 1906. A wife came from England for Mr. Harold Bennett about 1911 arriving up the Skeena on the "Inlander" to Hazelton. The Thompsons came to Tatalrose about that time.
From about 1910 on it was easier to go to Hazelton (via the head of Francois-Boo Flats and Houston) eventually wheels being used, by 1912. My uncle favoured pack horses, the roads being wilderness tracks and horses were small. Several outfits would travel together, if they used wheels, and put all their horses on each vehicle to get up a hill (at least on the return journey when loaded.) Some used oxen.
Anyone coming from Hazelton brought what mail there was, but my dad had a contract to bring the mail once a month from Tom Harris's (east of Neaves) to Ootsa Lake. He used a horse since there wasn't much mail. He rowed a boat across Francois Lake. In the famous fogs that so plague the ferry captains, he relied on Tom Harris' cow bell.
By 1919 there was a store at Grassy Plains, Pat Mulville's, also stores in Burns Lake and one here at Southbank in the early twenties -- but the country was well settled by that time.
A school was begun at Wisteria in 1917, Ootsa 1919, and Southbank in 1922.
My uncle once rode a saddle horse from Ootsa to Hazelton, the nearest doctor, and back practically non-stop, because our neighbour's baby girl was very ill. Ironically, my uncle thought that the child was not getting enough food, and that is just what the doctor said.
There was no cemetery at Wistaria till 1919 or 1920. Mr. Lang was hit on the head with a falling tree while logging - the first fatality. Ootsa didn't have a cemetery till my uncle died in 1937. It was unthinkable to put him at any other place than on the Mountainside overlooking his "illahell, now under 150 feet of water. John Scheck's land is the upper half of Harry Morgan's place.
My dad was Ootsa's first Forest Guard, appointed from Victoria in 1914 to patrol the lakes in the summer. There was no Forestry establishment in the north till the 20's.
There were more Indians at Cheslatta and East Ootsa and many further east at Algatcho, a vacant place now. Many died of tuberculosis, especially the young.
I made my first trip to Burns Lake in 1919 to a sort of rodeo and picnic that was held there. On our way home we had a runaway that was almost fatal for our neighbour lady, travelling with us. She fell out and almost broke her neck.
Changes are something you don't talk about. For instance, at Danskin there isn't a vestig of the settlement that used to be there, requiring a school for about sixteen children.
Most changes are for the better though you hate to see people leave.
At first a stranger was very conspicous, because you knew everyone. A teacher, married in the district, (as many did), was still a new-comer, after eight or ten years.
In the early forties a hundred pounds of flour was just under four dollars, that was high because of the wartime inflation; coffee was forty-five cents a pound, but gas cost forty-five cents a gallon. Prices have gone higher from then till now, than they did from 1914 to 1940.
Since the first teachers came the salary for first class was one hundred fourteen dollars a month. Board was twenty-five to possibly thirty dollars when the 'hard time' was being felt here, and one of the first measures was to reduce the salary of a teacher to a basic seventy-eight; the district could add to it as they wished by direct taxation on the district. This became practically nil. So -- I now pay thirty dollars a month more in income tax than I taught for per month in 1932 and 1933.
Some incidents we thought funny were actually quite serious. While I was still a pupil at Ootsa, we heard of the Wistaria school burning to the ground during school time. The box-stove heater literally fell apart and there wasn't water enough at hand to put the fire out.
Previous to that by a few years, the man teacher they had for three years felt it necessary for his safety to carry a revolver in a holster on the pommel of his saddle as he rode to school. (He was an eccentric American).
Our father, Bill Harrison, Sr., came to Ootsa Lake country in 1908 to prospect and locate land. He, his partner and our oldest brother travelled by way of Quesnel to the Blackwater and Fraser Lake through Cheslatta country to Ootsa. Their transportation was horses. Our mother and the six youngest of twelve children arrived in July 1915 via Houston. We had come as far as Smithers the fall before and stayed the winter as there was no school where we were going.
The road in from Houston was very rough over low cut stumps and through mud holes in which the four-horse-team almost bogged down; we walked a great deal of the sixty miles to the homestead.
When asked, "What did we do for a living?" I must say that mostly we rustled it. Money was scarce after the building of the G.T.P. was completed. The settlers raised good gardens, grouse, ducks and geese were plentiful, fish were in abundance and there were deer and herds of caribou roamed on the mountain south of Ootsa Lake providing us with meat and skins for moccasins. Wild berries were everywhere it seemed, we all picked them and Mother canned in large quantity. There were no moose in the Lakes District at this time.
Most of the few and scattered settlers did a little trapping although there were a few, some of the very early ones who had by this time acquired cattle which they drove to Houston for shipment in the fall. Fur was a good price; a big weasel might bring seventy-five cents or a dollar and foxes were from $75 for a good red to $500 for a silver cross and more for a black one. I remember the fur list quoted $1000 for a black fox, a trapper's dream, but I can't recall anyone ever getting that much for a pelt.
The Indians used to put packs on their dogs also when, travelling. They lived mainly on fish which they netted in front of their Rancherie. They also snared rabbits as did the rural population when no other meat was available.
I think that perhaps one of the most unusual experiences regarding country schools happened at the Wistaria school, (which incidentally was the first school established throughout the entire district.) It was during the third year of school, we had a gentleman teacher, a man of letters, geologist, scientist, a graduate of Cornell, he had a homestead about two miles from the school. He used to open the classes in the morning by all eight of us singing "Hail, Oh Hail, Cornell".
One beautiful autumn morning we arrived at the little log school house to find no team, he drove, no teacher and in the schoolhouse - nothing! There were no desks, even the stove was gone.
We played around for awhile then slowly meandered home: the musketell berries were delicious, the woods colorful. We enjoyed it so much. Upon our arrival at home we found the teacher explaining to our parents what had happened. It appeared that the night before when he was preparing to leave the school an irate neighbour rode up on his saddlehorse carrying a rifle and demanded that the teacher load everything from the school into his wagon, and transport it about a mile and a half to a vacant building where he had decided the school should have been to accommodate some of the pupils.
"And suppose I refuse to oblige you in this outrage?" asked the teacher, a small man - the other was over six feet.
"Then I will force you," said the other, patting his rifle.
The teacher worked until late moving the school, the big man following him.
It was decided that the best thing to do was to do nothing, but attend school where it now was, actually the distance meant nothing to us and we welcomed a new route.
The next morning we were away bright and early to the new location. Upon our arrival we found the building completely empty - no desks, books, stove, nothing! Of course, we wondered what had happened, but played happily around the new place for quite some time, found some new berry patches and old bird's nests, made a picnic of our lunches and finally wandered home.
The teacher had called on our parents again and explained that when he found the school empty, had folled the fresh wagon tracks back to the proper school where everything had been replaced. The big man had undoubtedly decided that he had acted unwisely and had gone in the night or early morning and moved them. Again it was decided that the best way was to make no fuss about it. "The best way is the quiet way."
The next morning we arrived at school to find things almost in their proper places. Needless to say the children were most disappointed that the holiday was at an end ... at least temporarily...
We enjoyed our pioneer days even if we didn't have cars, radios, machinery, fridges -- in fact, all the things that people, the younger people that is, take so much for granted now, there was no telephone out it was most amazing how fast news travelled. Moccasin Telegraph was a great medium of communication in the early days.
The doors of the early settlers were never locked and a "Highland Welcome" was extended to all wanderers of the trails at that early period.
Cliff Harrison arrived in Ootsa Lake in 1912.
Burns Lake was given the name of Burns Lake around the turn of the century. It was named after Pat Burns, the great meat-packing firm in Canada. Burns had driven a large herd of cattle which were destined for the gold rush up in the Yukon in 1899 and this herd of cattle and the men in charge of the cattle layed over at the little lake which now bears that name. There was absolutely no settlement at that time along the smaller, lakes of the district. The Indian Bands took up their abodes along the larger lakes, namely Babine, Francois, Ootsa, Cheslatta, Fraser and many other lakes.
Before the construction of the G.T.P. in this area, there was no industrial development any where in this area. The exclusive occupation of both whites and Indians was the trap line. Furs were sold to the Hudson Bay Co. with posts at Hazelton, Fort George, and Fort Fraser, and several other posts. Horses were the sole mode of transportation for many parts of this area and were in use until development got under way. The pack horse played a very important role in the early history of this area.
The early Indiains, some who came from the coast and migrated into the interior, all took up settlements of their choice mostly on lakes where the fishing was adequate for their livelyhood. They trapped and sold their furs to the Hudsons Bay Co. One of the first Indians to come in from the coast and settle at Skins Lake, was that famous character, "Skintyee", he raised a large family and his descendents; some are still with us. Baptise, and his brother Louie settled on the shores of Cheslatta Lake and established a settlement in the year 1904.
Arthur Shelford was working at Powell River in May 1910, as a donkey engineer, when his brother Jack, came there after he had returned from a trip to England and suggested that they go up into Northern B.C. to look for land. They returned to Vancouver and from there came up by C.P.R. steamer to Prince Rupert which was only a very small town at that time.
As the railway was only being built at that time and as there was no road at all they had to go up to Hazelton by a sternwheeler river boat.
At Kitselas Canyon, about half way to Hazelton all their stuff had to be portaged to the other end of the Canyon.
There was at this time (1910) a road of sorts up the Bulkely Valley as far as Houston which was mostly used for getting in supplies for persons working on the building of the new railway.
However, transportation for settlers, Indians and persons looking for land was almost entirely by pack-horse.
They bought a pack-horse to carry their bedding and grub-box and set out for Ootsa Lake where they walked all over the country looking for land and this was very difficult as there were no survey lines at all and very few settlers. In the Wistaria and Streatham area there were just Bob and Jim Nelson and Kelly and Mark Brennam and Olaf Anderson but they saw none of them.
At Ootsa Lake were the Morgans, Mitchells and Eakins and McDodds, while towards the foot of Ootsa there was just Hank Raymond and he and Mrs. Eakin were the only persons, they saw there, while all between Houston and Nadina there was just Bill Watsonand Indian Sam. There was no bridge over the Nadina River. They finally staked their land and then walked back to Hazelton to record it at the Land Office.
Then they bought enough food, consisting of flour, rolled oats, corn meal, beans, rice, bacon, dried apples, sweet condensed milk, tea and sugar. They bought two other horses and hired an Indian with a few horses to help them as far as Houston. From there they relayed 5 trips with their three horses to get their outfit in to their place. Their outfit also included a large supply of traps, nails, tools and other hardware including a whip-saw and tent.
They lived in the tent until they had build their cabin on which they put a dirt roof.
Later, in November, he had to make another trip out to Hazelton on foot to get a few extra supplies which they just had to have.
Altogether he walked just about 1100 miles that summer and then many more hundreds on snowshoes in the winter on the trap line.
Next year they grew a good garden and brought their first cows in from Bella Coola and so got milk and butter.
There was no ferry across Francois Lake until about 1916 or 1917 and the first ferry was a scow operated by a boat lashed alongside.
Until this time all transportation was by pack-horse from Houston. The railway was completed in 1914 and about that time rough wagon roads had been built, but most road travel was by sleigh in winter.
There was practically m such thing as an average yearly income. Folks just make what they could and got by on it. The supplies were mostly packed in in the fall and were just the staple requirements, no luxuries of any kind.
As to general changes through the years, these came mostly in transportation. Pack horse trips either to Hazelton or Bella Coola usually took about three weeks, then came wagon and sleigh trips to Houston and Burns Lake which took about a week.
As to amusements, he thinks there were more parties and dances in those early days when folks had to go by saddle horse or sleigh than in these present days and there was more genuine friendliness, neighborliness and hospitality.
In the matter of Church services, the first Minister in the Ootsa country was an Anglican Rev. MacKay, who walked in from Burns Lake with his son in 1912 and held services at Ootsa Lake for 2 or 3 years.
In 1919 another Anglican minister, Rev. Craney, used to ride in once a month from Houston. In 1923, the present United Church at Wistaria was built mostly by volunteer labor and since that time montly services have been held by the Anglican and United Churches.
"It may be thought that life was pretty tough in those early days, but I can assure you that everyone enjoyed themselves and did not figure that they were suffering at all. In fact, the people who are still alive who sent through life then figure that those were really the "Good Old Days".
Olaf Anderson's first trip into the Ootsa Lake country was made when a young man of 25 in 1907. He came by way of the Bella Coola trail, a distance of about 250 miles. There were three of them in the party, Mark Brennan, Mike Smith and himself. With two horses a piece, they were on the trail a month. This trip could be done in less time, but they were all very green and had their problems. One was getting their horses out of bogs and another was accomplishing the four swims that had to be made. On one of these swims in swift water, they had all their provisions on a raft and although they put all their effort into paddling, they reached mid-stream three times only to land back on the same side. When they finally arrived at Ootsa Lake it was July, so they staked land and returned south for the winter. Next spring they made the trip but went right on to Hazelton still looking the country over. He returned again in 1909 and spent the winter at Ootsa. For the next couple of years he worked around Hazelton and then settled on Ootsa Lake to stay.
The only occupations were farming, prospecting and trapping. Also during the summer there was work on the survey crews. E.P. Colley, after whom Colleymount is named, was the early surveyor and did a great deal of work in here. He was returning from one of his yearly visits to England when he lost his life,on the Titanic.
The Indian population at that time was quite small. He does remember three families Skin Tyee, Chief Louis, and Baptiste. Their living was made by fishing and hunting. They dried their meat and fish and also their berries. There were a few deer, no moose until 1912 when two came through. These were killed by the Indians and it was years before more were seen.
There was little at Burns Lake at this time. All the settlers supplies were packed in from Hazelton or Bella Coola.
A church was built at Ootsa Lake in about 1909 with Rev. McCoy as minister. This same year they organized a Farmer's Institute. He skated ten miles to one of these meetings onenight. It was dark when he started and skating seemed good, but when he arrived he was told the lake at that end had frozen only the night before. He walked home.
The closest Post Office was at Anniham Lake where they had mail twice a year. In 1910 another post office was opened at Ootsa Lake and then they had mail once a month.
In these early times they lived mostly on pork and beans. There were also rabbits and fish for their meat supply. He started farming in 1913 with two cows and has farmed ever since. They were given four pounds of seed oats a piece by the government, and by 1916 they were growing a lot of grain. They had no way to thresh, so, with Shorty Mathson as engineer, Bill Harrison as carpenter, and himself blacksmith, they built a threshing machine which proved quite successful. This was run with a three-horse-power engine.
In 1915 the first school in the Burns Lake district was held at Streatham at the home of Miss Florence Hinton. She was the teacher and later became his Wife. During the next year, school was moved to a cabin at Wistaria. The teachers salary at this time was $75 a month.
Dr. Wallace, their first Doctor, came to Southbank in 1917 and the hospital was built there some time before 1920.
There was a policeman at Southbank by 1917 by the name of Shell Robinson.
For quite a few years they had only wagon roads and pack trails. There was work started on them around 1916. The first car, owned by Ed Mohr, that managed to come through in 1919, was soon sold out of the country because of road conditions.
"Life in this country has meant plenty of hard work, but I have never regretted the mistake that brought me here." They were told they were on their way to a warm country where an abundance of fruit could be grown.
The M.V. Jacob Henkel, Francois Lake ferry is named after the Pioneer settler Jacob Henkle who was the first white settler in Ootsa - Francois Lakes area in the year of 1904.
After traveling from Bella Coola by the Algatcho Trail, Jacob Henkle accompanied by George Culp, arrived on the North Shore of Ootsa Lake in the late summer of 1904.
In late fall, an Indian appeared at the door of Jacob Henkel's log home. "This is Indian country, white man must get out". Jacob who spoke Chinook talk that the Indian tribes used, strode to the door and being a powerful man, put his hands on the Indian's shoulders, bending him down on his knees. The Indian, Skin Tyee, an outlaw of the Hazelton Indians, then asked to be a friend. He went off but returned very friendly and usually with some meat. One day he came and Jacob offered him a pot of Rabbit stew which he ate, the whole thing bones and all.
That winter he found the cross country trail from east of Ootsa to the west end of Francois Lake.
Early in the spring of 1905, George Culp returned from Bella Coola with a man called Snodgrass. Then in the summer the Government surveyor, Colly, came with James Newman, the latter settling midway between Ootsa and Francois, the place later called Grassy Plains. After hearing the news that the G.T.P. railway would be coming to the Pacific Coast. It was decided that Henkle and Culp should cut out the trail from Takaysa by way of Molice Lake to the south of Francois Lake shore, so as to be able to bring out their horses and outfits. They made a raft and brought their outfits across to the north Shore.
Colleymount is named after Colley, the Government Surveyor who went down with the Titanic on his return voyage from a visit to the British Isles.
In 1906 Charles Haven arrived and decided to settle in Uncho valley.
To get their provisions which was generally a year's supply, two or three men would form a party for the long trip to Bella Coola.
In 1906, Harry Morgan and his partner came across into Ootsa over Kenana Pass to Tatysa Lake with a hand sleigh of provisions.
As the construction of the railway progressed, John H. Keefe and Brother Andrew treked from Quesnel in 1908 and took up their homesteads on the South Shore.
Henkel's first cabin was used as a Blacksmith Shop and was appointed the first Justice of Peace in the district. Some women who came over the trail from Hazelton to the west end of Francois Lake when the railway was nearly completed were: Mrs. H. Bennett, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Jeffrey and daughter, Mrs. J. Thompson.
The G. T. P. Railway joined track in 1914 at Fraser Lake when a general rush for land commenced.
In 1916 the Anglican Church and the Log Hall for the Farmers' Institute were built.
In 1914 Mr. and Mrs. Henkel were married.
In 1919 Mr. Henkel was elected secretary for a temporary School Board, and in September the first School Service was established in the church. School was held there until a school building was put up in 1926.
Mr. Henkel was made President of the Francois Lake Hospital which was formed to have a hospital established on the south Shore. In 1919 three beds were set up in Keefe's ranch house. In June 1920, the Francols Lake Hospital association moved by the hospital to the point, since called Hospital Point. The hospital was kept open until 1930.
In 1927 Henkel developed Cancer of the lip and had to go to Rochester, U.S.A. to the May Bros. Clinic. He was cured after treatment and returned home two months later.
Mr. Henkel passed away March 8, 1945 after spending a month in the Burns Lake Hospital.
Mr. John H. Keefe:
Mr. Keefe and his brother Andrew arrived in 1908 from Vancouver via the Telegraph Trail. They came in by packhorse and took stock of the land. They went back out but in 1909 they returned over the Bella Coola Trail.
Mr. Keefe was the first white pioneer at Southbank. Later on he established the town at Southbank and had the land sub-divided into a town site.
That Christmas many of the men snowshoed over to Tatalrose to Mike Touie's homestead where they had Christmas dinner. Johnny Barker and Sandy Thompson were also there.
In 1910, John improved his land but he sold it and stayed with the party who bought his place. In the fall at Hazelton, Mr. Keefe brought the first wagon load of freight over the C.N.R. route that was then under construction.
In 1911, Mr. Keefe regained his property and settled there. That fall his teech started to act up so he walked to Hazelton with a friend that he picked up at Decker Lake.
In the spring of 1912, Mr. Keefe walked back to
Houston and snowshoed to Keefe's Landing. He settled down to ranching and farming. He had the mail route up to 1919 from Burns to Wistaria. They used relays of horses.
In 1918 he married and with his wife they ranched at Keefe's Landing.
In 1920, Mr. Keefe owned a hotel and store at Southbank. Norman Schriber took it over in 1922. Mr. Keefe also built the first school. This was later taken over by the Department and paid for.
Mr. and Mrs. Keefe recall that in 1911 there was just a sleigh road. In 1912 the Public Works graded a road from Southbank to Grassy Plains. Oxen were used to pull the wagon grader. The people were very friendly and everyone seemed to do things all together then. Church services were held by travelling ministers. Many will remember Cannon Akinson's services throughout that area.
Mr. and Mrs. Keefe moved over to this side and took up residence at the present Benedict home. Here they farmed for many years. They sold and are now residing on the home just below. Mrs. Keefe said that their house now was once the first Farmer's Institute hall.
Mr. Bickle came into this part of the country in 1907, from Hazelton by pack and saddle horse. The land was not surveyed when he staked it.
He had been living in Prince Rupert, working on the clearing of the townsite and on the survey of Prince Rupert.
He made a living by farming, got some cattle and hogs, and the first year grew some grain oats. This he thrashed with the flail and sold the grain for $10 a sack. He also thrashed timothy seed with the flail, which was no lazy man's job. Then he finally bought the first thrashing machine in, (a Stanley Jones), and thrashed all through the country, from Burns Lake to Wistaria.
When he first knew Burns Lake, there was just three Indian families on the lake shore and they lived by hunting and trapping. The McKenna's were the first white settlers there.
The first roads were mostly by Indian trail, widened out by white settlers.
There were settlers at Francois Lake, on the South Side, Johnny and Andy Keefe, Jake Henkel, Tom Harris, Jack Robins, Hank Snodgrass, and Sam Long. Mr. Blickle moved to Grassy Plains where he ranched.
There wasn't any roads or railroads then, only the pack trails. We hoofed it from Prince Rupert up to Hazalton. We stopped there and pitched our tent on the Indian reserve. We were going to cook our dinner when two police came. They did not fine us but told us the law attached to the Indian reserve in this country. We kept coming and only saw one white man living on the Boo Flats. We then camped on the reserve up at the head of Francois Lake. We followed the same trail between Hazelton and Bella Coola. We had no trouble with the Indians, they were all quite friendly. I settled then right where I'm living today, which is Tatalrose.
There was no ferry crossing at Francois Lake. If people wanted to go across from the south side they would build a big fire on the shore and either Tom Harris or Jake Henkle would come across with the row boat and take you across. If you had horses or cows to get across the lake, they had a raft made out of logs.
I did my trading in Burns Lake. The fellow who ran the store was Bob Gerow and his partner Harry Liadlow.
When you go across the bridge where the main town is today, there wasn't a soul until you came to where the grave yard is situated. Jim McKenna and his wife and their children Bill, John, Catherine and Margaret lived there.
On the south side of the lake there was a sheriff who lived at Uncha Lake. His name was Shell and he patrolled the area from there to the head of Francois Lake.
A little later MacGregor's moved to Southbank and had a very pretty woman. All the bachelors had a stag party and invited the MacGregors. Poor Mrs. MacGregor being the only woman danced with all the bachelors until she was so tired that she collapsed on the floor. MacGrejor had to pick his wife up and take her home.
What men were here got about thirty days work from the government cutting out trails for the present road and fire fighting. They got three dollars a day and had to pay board out of this. They used to buy groceries and at the end of the month take the total cost of groceries and divide it among all the men in camp. The cook was not included in this. He got three dollars a day plus food.
The only school here was at Ootsa Lake. The school was in a private home. Phil Brunell left his house for the school. Our past postmaster, Bill McKenna, got his education then.
The old Decker Lake town was situated about where Dick Carroll and Sivert Anderson have the planer mill.The town between these two places was lying. This was a railroad construction town. There was one hotel called the Travellers' Hotel. And also a cafe. A grocery and dry goods store was run by McEwen, the other store was run by Locwathy. There was a livery stable and a large warehouse.
"Everything is changed today and not much is left of the places I knew."