Harry Nott stands with his wife Lily in a photo taken in 1952. Photo submitted

British Columbian adventures of Harry Nott

Soldiering, stunt doubling, carpentry and square dance escapades

  • Dec. 6, 2018 1:30 a.m.

Harry Nott was born in Quebec, Aug. 20 1890. He joined the army during the First World War, where he moved up in the Cavalry division, handling and riding horses.

After the war he came to British Columbia and settled in North Vancouver by 1920. As a young man he got involved using his army experience with horses to be a stunt double for the star of western silent movies, William Hart. Hart was a popular western cowboy and heart throb during this era.

Nott followed him all around California and some in Mexico doing the more dangerous scenes while Hart got the credit for it.

Finally tired of it, Nott returned to B.C. and then went up to Kamloops, where he had a job driving for Finlay North of The North River Coach Lines.

This is where he met and married Lily Elizabeth Chapman.

He took on a job working in the Upper Clearwater Valley for Art Harby of the Forest Service in 1928, just after the big fire of 1926, working along with George Davoren, they were cleaning trails and getting ready to build a new ranger cabin at Hemp Creek.

Nott and Davoren initially stayed at the Camp Creek (Fage Creek) forestry cabin as it had been spared by the big fire.

In 1931 Nott and Lil were living in the Archibald Subdivision area, then by 1936 they had a little farm in East Blackpool, but they moved back down to the coast for a few years before returning to Clearwater again in 1944 when Nott began working for Frank Capostinsky at the planer mill mostly as a carpenter.

This time they stayed in Joe Cleavely’s cabin at Roundtop. Soon they were able to move closer to the job when they rented a house from Charley Bond at Sunshine Valley.

Nott purchased 109 acres of land right in Sunshine Valley where he planned to build his own house. He subdivided this land into 10 acre lots to be sold at a huge price of $100 dollars each.

His sister May Henderson, with her husband Bill, wanted to move up too, so Nott gave them a lot in 1948 on which to build a house.

Bill was a retired electrician from North Vancouver and was a handy carpenter too.

Nott was able to sell one lot to Fred Hartman, next to his sister May, but sales were slow or nearly non-existent, mostly because there seemed to be no water available.

A 40 foot hand dug well produced no water, so all water had to be hauled in. There was a water flume from Brookfield Creek that came as far as the Fred Ellis place built by the earlier settlers; Bennetts, Elliots, Foxs and DeWitts.

The Ellis’s were Nott’s neighbour to the north and were able to supply them most of the water they needed with an extension ditch to their place. Fred Ellis always kept control of the water gate just to keep Nott in line.

Nott and Lil were by now living in a little cabin built on their own property close to the new house location, but building a new house was only as fast as the money was earned to buy lumber; Nott would never buy anything that he could not pay for up front.

He mostly worked as a carpenter for the planer mill or one of the camps in the beginning, but occasionally he would work as a camp cook when the need arose, such as on forest fires. Through this he wound up working for the Forest Service on different jobs and was put in charge of the youth crew camp that was built just up the road from the Helmcken Lodge in Upper Clearwater.

Each summer Lil looked after the camp and the cookhouse for the youth crew, while Nott supervised the young men to do various tasks of maintenance including trail cutting and building camp sites for the forestry. (Parks.)

By 1952 he had finished their new house and the couple could move out of the cabin into the new place. They rented the cabin to friend Scotty Dickson.

Nott’s brother Charley with wife Peggy also moved up to Sunshine Valley and bought 20 acres from a Mr. Gustasin in 1951; Charley was also a carpenter and got employment from CTP at Camp 2. So now all the Notts were living in close proximity to each other.

Harry was active in the community, he loved to call for square dances, which was the popular event on Saturday nights. One night while up on the stage in the Blackpool Hall, he was calling to a robust square dance crowd, but got a bit too excited and flipped his false teeth out and they went sailing out through the air and went down the back of Mrs. Layton’s dress.

Now Mrs. Layton was the wife of Captain Layton who had been a captain in the navy and was now the owner of the store and post office in East Blackpool; she was considered to be a prim and proper lady.

When Nott saw where his teeth went, he jumped off the stage and ran over and jammed his hand down her dress to retrieve his teeth, in doing so he knocked her wig off her head, (no one knew she wore a wig).

He stopped long enough to grab the wig off the floor and set it back on her head, but of course it was probably crooked. He just jumped back up on the stage and continued to call the square dance, hardly missing a beat.

Nott continued to work for the forestry for the next couple of years, mostly building campgrounds and putting up buildings. He was working away near North Vancouver at Mt. Seymour when he passed away on Nov. 5, 1954.

Lil Nott continued to live in Sunshine Valley and was an active member of the Star Lake Women’s Institute until her mother Elizabeth Chapman, who had been living with her became sick. Lil sold the house and moved to Squamish in 1963 so that her mother could get proper care.

Lil Nott passed away in July 12, 1964.

Story submitted by Ray Mackenzie (Harry’s Grandson) and Glen Small

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