Celebrating 100 years of born pioneers

It's a beautiful day today in the Peace. I wonder what it is was like 100 years ago on May 20, 1920?

While I don't know what the weather was like I know what Jim's dad, Ernie (15 months old), and his parents Jim and Carrie McKnight were doing. In the early spring of 1920, the McKnights were living in Vancouver but work was virtually non-existent. Following is their story as recorded by Ernie.

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"In March Dad was contacted by a man named Jack McCulloch, son-in-law of McLaughlin of McLaughlin Buick fame. McCulloch had ambitions of becoming a big rancher in the Peace River country and a deal was made whereby Dad would build ranch buildings for him and Mother would run the ranch house and do the cooking.

"We left Vancouver in mid April with a train load of cattle, horses, supplies and implements arriving in Peace River, Alberta on May 3, 1920. Spent a couple of weeks there waiting for the first sailing upstream of the D.A. Thomas, a Hudson Bay owned stern wheeler. We left May 15th, having loaded everything on the boat and arrived at Taylor Flats on May 20, 1920 after a slow trip up the river due to high water and drift wood.

"After the three train carloads were unloaded they were moved up to what later became Glen Minaker's farm (now Ostero's gravel pit location). Tents were pitched and we spent most of the summer there while Dad and McCulloch looked for appropriate land.

"When they returned from one of these trips in late August, McCulloch's wife advised him that she'd had enough and was leaving with or without him and had booked passage back to Peace River on the D.A. Thomas two days hence. She'd never been out of a city before. So McCulloch decided to give up the ranching idea.

"Dad and Mother decided to stay as Dad was a born pioneer and there was work for him. Jack McCulloch sold out what he could, paid Dad off in lieu of a return fare partly with supplies, livestock, household goods, and left never to be heard from again.

"The summer they arrived, Jim built an addition on the two George's house (Kirkpatrick and Daniel) and lived with them for a couple of years. In the meantime they filed on a homestead on the east side of the coulee that bisects Taylor where Fibreco is and sold to Everett Shortt in 1928 (the barn was still there in 1995). In 1926 he bought the Stopping Place, as it was called from George Denny (the guy on the cover of the Taylor History book), and lived there till the bridge was built in 1942."

We, being Jim and I plus our two sons, daughter-in-laws and grandson, went down to the Stopping Place on the north side of the Peace River just upstream from the water intake buildings last Wednesday night, May 20, to wander around and take pictures. The Stopping Place was moved into Taylor after the bridge was built and burnt down later.

This article was submitted by Janice McKnight.

Email your community stories and photos to Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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