A large gathering of family and friends filled the activities room at Evergreen Acres on Saturday afternoon to help Mary Colter celebrate her 90th birthday.
“Ninety years is quite a milestone,” said her younger brother, Al Harrison. “A lot of water has passed under the bridge in that time, with many experiences, both good and bad, interesting and sometimes not so interesting, but Mary, you have persevered and you are to be congratulated.”
According to speeches given by Harrison at the afternoon gathering and a party that evening, Mary was born in Princeton.
Three of her brothers and one sister tragically passed away at a young age, leaving Harrison her only surviving sibling.
She later lived in Merritt, Rutland, Vernon (or possibly Coldstream or Lavington), Likely, Birch Island, Vavenby and finally Clearwater.
“It was in Black Mountain, a rural community just up the hill on Highway 33 east of Rutland, where Mary met and married her husband, Lee Colter,” Harrison said. “Lee worked for a large sheep rancher at that time.”
In 1945 they moved to a two-room log house on the back road in Birch Island.
Two of their daughters, Doreen and Shirley, were born in Kelowna.
Her son Fred, was born in the log house in Birch Island.
“Mary, you apparently couldn’t make it to the hospital in Kamloops so Doreen ran several miles to get Mr. Dinnin to go for help. Mrs. Alice Moilliet and Mrs. Clayton came to help.”
Fred still lives in Clearwater and is now mostly retired, except for some contract jobs out of the country.
Their third daughter, Colleen, was born in Kamloops.
Sometime in 1950 they moved to Whisky Camp near Vavenby. Lee had a job peeling logs for the old Vavenby bridge.
Sometime later the family moved to a log house by the mill in Vavenby. Lee added some rooms and then, after moving back from Likely to the same house, he added a kitchen, living room and some bedrooms upstairs.
From there they moved to Birch Island.
Grandpa Colter lived across the road in a little cabin. Once he shot the head off a grouse using a large calibre rifle.
“We thought he had shot a deer when we heard the shot and ran down the road to see. And to our surprise, here came grandpa with the grouse,” said Harrison.
Activities Mary enjoyed included carpet bowling, camping, raising chickens and rabbits, helping Lee with his large vegetable gardens, canning the produce, cooking, knitting and sewing.
“Your family, Mary, has told me that you were a great mom while they were growing up and you were always there for them. I can believe this as you were always a good sister to me,” said Harrison.