Winter, with snow covering the ground, was the special quiet time of year. The salmon season was long over and the gillnet boats were no longer passing by our float house. There also seemed to be less freight train traffic going by. It was a quiet family time, just us alone shut away from the outside world.

As children to wake up in the morning, to look outside and see wolf tracks around our home filled my sister Carole and I with a feeling of marvel and excitement. It also affected our father in a particular way. I would wake up in the night to my dad’s loud howls - the wolves were chasing him once again! Our dog Barney would go right back in the house as soon as he sensed there was a wolf close by. Occasionally we would spot them slinking off into the trees. A special moment indeed.

In addition to being a fisherman and net man our father was also a very skilled carpenter. He built us a beautiful red and silver coloured bobsleigh made of cedar. It was about six feet long with a truck steering wheel and rear brakes. Carole and I would climb aboard and he would pull us the two miles down the tracks to Port Edward with me ‘steering’ all the way - a very special moment. There we would climb the hill and sleigh back down to the Nelson Brothers cannery.

We always had a warmly dressed snowman in the front yard, well appointed with an Army overcoat and pith helmet.

A special Christmas time adventure was to go out with our sleigh (pictured here) and chop down our Christmas tree and proudly show it to our mom when we got home.

I can recall the evenings when our mom and dad made the Christmas tree lights. By the light from our two Aladdin coal oil lamps dad would take flashlight bulbs, solder them along a string of electrical wire. Mom would be cutting out squares of red and green gift paper, glue the squares together as pockets over the flashlight bulbs. Once those tasks were completed the lights would be strung around our tree, then connected to a battery and Christmas would truly have arrived.

During the winter our dad often went hunting with his Uncle Bart Hedsrom and his young cousin Dick.

My most memorable winter moment is one that I love to tell and retell so here I go once again:

One winter’s evening we were returning from Prince Rupert after visiting our relatives the Hedstroms during the day. We got off the train at the Phelan railway station and began walking home along the snow covered tracks. It was a black inky night with the full moon shining on the freshly fallen snow and the sky was full of stars. At that moment it seemed to me that we were the only people left in the whole world. The stillness of the night was overpowering. The only sounds were of our boots crunching in the snow and the spine-chilling wail of the wolves in the hills above us howling at the moon. I’ve never forgotten that moment.


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