From time to time I would go gill netting with my dad, usually on night sets.
I enjoyed pumping the boat out. After a couple of strokes the pump, with much sloshing and gurgling, would magically release the bilge water and I had done it all by myself! Later in the evening as the light began to fade my dad would take the wooden triangular float, raise the glass mantle on the red lantern and light the wick.
He would then pay out the net over the stern and another set would begin. I never tired of the sight of the first sockeye landing on the deck, one of God’s/Nature’s most beautiful creations - all silver, firm and with a greenish blue back. One of my fondest memories is of the one cylinder Easthope gasoline engine powering the boat. I recall the green colour,
the huge flywheel and the brass oiling cap. Most captivating to me was the the sound of it’s heartbeat - ‘pa-choo,.....pa-choo.....pa-choo’. That sound became my lullaby song, as I drifted off to sleep aided by the warmth coming from engine. What better time to have been raised on the North Coast!
KITSON Island at the mouth of the Skeena River was our picnic area. We would reach the island aboard Inverness Cannery gill netters. Most often we were accompanied by the Poisson and the Closter families. These black and white photos were taken in 1945 and 1946.
This beach provided the one large area in our Inverness world where we as kids could run around safely and with total abandon. To go there was a special treat and a place of pure joy. At the end of the day we would return to Inverness fully worn out but happy.
One special occasion that I remember was the 1946 Dominion Day (now Canada Day). The Inverness Cannery gut scow, aptly named ‘The Honeysuckle’, was scoured out with fire hoses and Inverness employees climbed aboard for a Dominion Day celebration on Kitson Island.
Some forty years later, my mother, father and I returned to Kitson Island along with my wife Joan, sons Todd and Chris, my Aunt Marge and Uncle Karl Vick, my dad’s cousin Dick Hedstrom and his partner. Who says ‘you can’t go home again’?
In 1993 Kitson Island was designated a Provincial Marine Park.
"I’VE SEEN FIRE AND I’VE SEEN RAIN..’. (James Taylor)
One of the special outings that sister Carole and I enjoyed was going with our mother to the Inverness company store for groceries.
Once the groceries were purchased our mother would borrow the net loft cart to load our groceries on for the trip home. The cart was used to move nets around the dock. It’s platform was about four foot square and it ran on the railway tracks along the cannery dock
Our mother would load the groceries and Carole and I on the cart and push us along the railway tracks the one mile home. Quite the shopping cart! My father would return it to work the next morning. As a treat Carole and I would get a box of Cracker Jacks each or the small yellow carton with handles, festooned with animals, that contained pink-tinged popcorn. On very special occasions we would each receive a small glass of Coca Cola.
Another memorable moment was the time my mother and I went to the neighbours to feed their chickens. My mother detected a movement in the bushes and saw that a wolf was closely watching us. We remained locked in the chicken pen in a state of high tension. Eventually, to our immense relief, the wolf lost interest in us and the chickens and ambled off as mysteriously as he had arrived.
Sometimes the moments of high drama and tension were self-induced. One sunny summer day our mother went to see our neighbour Mrs. Dalgren. The tide was out so it was safe to leave us kids at home alone. After all, what could go wrong?
About then I happened to spot a porcelain circuit breaker with two long insulators and a deep depression in the centre. I thought that this was a piece of machinery needing only a little gasoline placed in the depression to make it go. Having added the gasoline all I had do was strike the match. BOOM!......a flash of fire and suddenly our entire yard of tall dry summer grass was ablaze. Black clouds of smoke were rising to the heavens. I grabbed our galvanized water bucket and charged up and down the ladder to the rain barrels, then ran and threw bucketfuls of water on the flames approaching our storage shed.
Thankfully the shed did not catch fire, due to the combination of water and the fact that once the grass was burned the fuel source was gone. The immediate danger averted, Carole and I went and hid under our foot bridge. Our mother arrived home very quickly having been alerted by the plumes of black smoke billowing up the slough past the Dalgens. I can’t recall what happened when our father got home. I do recall that I was wise enough not to point out to him that he no longer had to cut the grass with his scythe.