Valley Voices: the Jacobsen and Cowie family moves to Clearwater

Drawn by employment opportunities and stayed because Clearwater became their home

  • Feb. 7, 2019 1:00 p.m.

By Deryl Cowie

Our dad, Dale Jacobsen, was an operating engineer. He and his wife, Joan, were used to moving their extended family lock, stock and barrel from one employment opportunity to another.

From my 10 year-old’s perspective, moving often and attending 10 different schools by the time I was in Grade 5 was our way of life and we weren’t accustomed to putting down roots. In 1961, with our canary yellow ‘55 Ford station wagon, and our home, a Nashua house trailer in tow, we headed from southern BC towards Blue River where dad had found an employment opportunity.

Upon arriving in Clearwater on Nov. 15 we found we were unable to make it to Blue River because of the depth of the snow on the highway. We found a spot for our mobile home at the Dutch Lake Resort Trailer Park where we ended up spending the winter of ‘61/’62.

We quickly made friends with families in the area whose children were roughly the same ages as we were.

It was eye opening moving to a town where there were few telephones, no television, and scarce indoor plumbing as these were “luxuries” we had been accustomed to in previous locations, along with curling rinks, skating rinks, libraries, and easy access to doctors and hospitals.

When we moved here there were no doctors or dentists and it was a long drive, more than two hours on a good day, to get to Kamloops for needed medical attention.

While we settled in to life in Clearwater, dad commuted to Blue River to operate heavy machinery. After our first winter dad found employment with Thompson River Logging/Clearwater Timber Products operating bulldozers, then was offered an opportunity to become a contract logger, which he took. (He later incorporated his own company, GD Trees, to include road building and “stump to dump” logging operations.)

In the spring of 1962 we moved our trailer to an area beside the Camp 2 sawmill to live alongside many families that worked for Clearwater Timber Products. Here, we again found lots of friends to play with. Camp 2 was like a little village and the children there were known as the “Camp 2 kids.”

We played ball games against the kids from other areas of the town of Clearwater, including the “Sunshine Valley kids,” the “Blackpool kids,” and the “kids from the flats.”

While our dads worked, my brothers and sister and I started school in various locations depending on what grade we were in. Those of us in elementary school walked down to Dutch Lake School. The older kids walked with us and then caught a bus down to Raft River School, which was the high school at that time.

One of my older brothers discovered it could be advantageous to move to a town where no one knew you. Sometimes on his way home from high school he would get off the school bus near the Wells Gray Hotel. One day our dad paused on his way home from picking up some auto parts from the flats for a “refreshment” at the hotel.

The bartender said to him, “Do you know that young fellow over there? I’ve noticed him in here on a few occasions around this time in the afternoon.”

My brother found out that day another truth of small towns … even if just one person does know you, your fun could come to an abrupt end.

As I grew older I found it quite interesting to meet people who had moved to Clearwater for employment from all parts of Canada, and around the world. They were all drawn here by employment opportunities and stayed, as we did, because this became their home.

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