Many mill workers had to move to Donald and live in company houses. Photo Submitted

Turning Back the Pages: A look back to the adventure in Donald and Golden

I have had several people approach me recently asking for more articles on Donald, B.C.

Here is an excerpt story, written by Elvin Myers for Golden Memories, regarding his time in Donald. Unfortunately, space does not allow for the whole story but it’s quite good:

In the summer of 1948 dad got a better job offer from Selkirk Spruce Mills, so we moved to Donald. He spent the three days in the bunkhouse before we moved. I remember because he told us someone had stolen his shaving lotion and probably drank it. Again, we lived in a company house. It was located away from the other camp buildings, across the railroad near the river. The Barr family lived next door. A third house was built a year or so later, but it burned down. I’m not sure exactly when, but I do know it was sold and the snow was deep. I stepped outside the back door to go to the outhouse and saw flames coming out the kitchen window. The fire got so hot men shoveled snow on the side of our house to keep it from going up too. Apparently Mr. Haines was working on a gas lamp that got away on him.

Selkirk Spruce Mills was operated by an American from Spokane named Brick Chapman. He had a son about my age. His given name was Arno but I always knew him as Chappy. Another couple of friends I spent a lot of time with during the years I lived in Donald was Bill Tsuchiya and Bob Barr. Over a decade later, Bob was to be the best man at my wedding, but not before we’d traveled a few roads together. First, on our bicycles, and then in those great cars he always drove. The first was a black 1952 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 in which four young men could easily have lost their lives when it rolled on its top late one Saturday night. Bob and I, and whoever wanted to join us, had some wonderful times in Donald; skiing, fishing, sleigh-riding, and just exploring. We visited the old cemetery and the old town site. We swam in the Waitabit River and must surely have risked hypothermia. We fished the beaver dam and watched a moose eating lily pads. We skied down the riverbank over a small jump we’d set up and I sprained an ankle. Gordie Barr stuffed half the kids in camp into his old 1936 Chev and drove up to Reeve’s farm for Halloween treats. I can still see Mr. Warkentine, a teacher we had one year, sitting on the end of our bobsled with a cigar clenched between his teeth. One kid had to stand by to dig the others out when we jumped off the planer roof into the snow. For a time, Charlie Collins, who lived in Parson, showed full length movies every week in the maintenance shop in Donald. He charged a small fee, of course.

School was part of the grand adventure, too. How could it have been anything less? It wasn’t until I completed Grade 9 that I saw the inside of more than one room with fewer than six or seven grades being taught by a single teacher. The start of the school year in 1951 ushered many changes in my life. I was starting high school, and it was the first year of many that I had to live away from home to continue my education. Would you believe Mrs. Henderson took me in? As if she didn’t have enough of her own to look after, being a widow and all. You could never meet a kinder, more tolerant lady. So it like was that for two years from September to June, I lived in Golden during the week and in Donald on the weekend. Since we did not own a car, finding rides back and forth was often something of a challenge. Many of my Friday nights were spent hanging around outside the Big Bend Hotel until the bar closed so I could hitch a ride with whomever. Only once do I remember ending up in the ditch. Luckily no one was hurt.

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