It was my pleasure this week to sit down with Ray and Helen Tress, who on July 12, 2014, celebrated their Diamond Anniversary with family and friends, including their five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. For those of you not familiar with the Diamond Anniversary – that’s 60 years!
Ray was born in the valley in a little log cabin behind the Brisco Store.
Helen was born in Lashburn, Saskatchewan and first came into the valley with her brother and their parents in a covered wagon, settling in Fort Steele in 1938. Times were hard in the 1930s and Helen’s parents were looking for a place that would accommodate their needs and provide the basics, so they picked up some odd jobs on their journey.
During their journey they were accompanied by four horses and two goats. Things were not what they had hoped for and they pointed the wagon back to Saskatchewan, spending the first winter in Alberta.
In 1951, the Hogans headed back to the valley, this time settling in Harrogate. Helen went to school in Parson for Grade 9 with Miss Rosen before her father took a job at the Giant Mascot Mine up above Spillimacheen and then Grade 10 was by correspondence.
She returned to Parson to write her exams.
In the meantime Ray was working with his parents on the farm and was sawmilling. In his off time Ray became the volunteer projectionist for the movies at the Parson Hall. He had about 15 minutes of training for the job and had to learn how to fix the film when it broke but it was something he enjoyed doing.
Ray, and Helen’s brother Rola became friends and a group of young people planned to go to the movie in Golden one Saturday night so Ray said to Rola, “Why don’t you bring your sister along?”
That event started three years of courtship, which was a bit difficult due to the distance they had to travel to see each other, and it was expensive too! Ray had a car but gas wasn’t always available so he sometimes used his expert marksmanship to poach a deer and then trade it with someone who had gas. Seemed like a good trade to Ray and it meant that he got to see his girl up at the mine.
Ray and Helen were married July 17, 1954 at the home of Mr & Mrs McCool at the Giant Mascot Mine and had a reception and dance at the Community Hall.
Their first home after marriage was a trailer in what is now the Golden Community Campground while Ray worked with his own truck for Dawson and Wade Construction on the Trans Canada Highway.
In November of 1954 they moved to the Roosdahl place staying until Feb 1955, when they moved to Parson for a month before moving to the Giant Mascot where they lived in their trailer while Ray worked there.
In 1956 they came back to Golden and Ray worked for Selkirk Spruce Mills. They moved to a logging camp at Cummins Creek in 1958 which was quite a challenge with nine feet of packed snow on the ground and in the spring the mosquitos and moose were a problem.
Next they moved to Field to work for Scott Lumber Co in 1960 and then up the Blaeberry to work for Ken Sloan. By this time their oldest son, Roger, had become old enough to attend school and they moved into Armstrong’s Trailer Court in Golden.
This meant that Helen could no longer move around to the places that Ray went and he spend a lot of years in camps beginning in 1963 and lasting for 15 years.
It was during this time that the partnership of Magoon and Tress Bros was begun. In 1975 Ray bought his own truck and moved on from the Magoon and Tress Bros partnership. In 1978 he went to worked in Fort St John for two years. Ray quit trucking in 1987 to sawmill for a few years but gave that up in 1991.
Ray has always collected things – especially old or unusual things and as his collection grew so did the house.
They have added on several times to create space for the prized items in Ray’s Museum. Ray continues to collect and really can’t think of anything he would turn down.
Helen began selling Avon in 1978 and continues to do that today because she enjoys the friendships she has formed over the years.
When I asked them what the secret to their successful relationship was Ray said “We’ve had some disagreements but have never thought about separation, because after three years of courting I wasn’t about to leave her behind.”