Valley Voices: Jack Harby and family homestead by Dutch Lake

Members of the family still live in the house by the lake

Jack Harby stands in a vegetable garden overlooking Dutch Lake.

Jack Harby stands in a vegetable garden overlooking Dutch Lake.

Editor’s Note: The following article about Clearwater pioneer Jack Harby appeared in the Nov. 27, 1974 issue of the Times.

Jack and Marjorie Harby had two children – Shirley and John Arthur (Art). Jack died in 1975 and Marjorie, with the assistance of an uncle, raised Shirley’s four children.

Marjorie passed away in 2006.

Jack’s father, also named Jack Harby, died in 1948, while his mother, Margaret Harby, passed away in 1978 at the age of 98.

Members of the family still live in the house by the lake.


Jack Harby arrived in the Clearwater area with his family from New Westminster on March 19, 1920 at the tail end of a hard winter. At the time, there was still three feet of snow on the ground.

Jack was a young man of 13 then, and came here with his father, mother and three sisters.

It was his father’s idea to join his brother (William George) and jointly run the ferry, the store and a stopping Harbys on Raftplace for travellers. The whole area at the time was raw wilderness, pure timber country.

Later on father, son and family homesteaded on 158 acres bordering on Dutch Lake. The family then lived in the old log cabin still sitting on the shore of the lake.

Jack says that at that time there was dense wilderness all around the lake, with no less than 3,000 ducks each season and numerous geese and beaver inhabiting the lake. Jack says it was unbelievably different from the way Dutch Lake is now.

There were four homesteads on the lake then. These belonged to the Harbys, Mr. Newman, Mr. Brookfield and Otto Miller.

Most of the homesteaders around were bachelors, I presume women weren’t so inclined to tackle the raw wilderness. These homesteaders were mostly German; hence the lake became Dutch Lake.

In 1922, a Mr. W. Grant arrived in the area from Gordonhead, Vancouver Island, and introduced strawberry growing.

Jack Harby’s family put in two acres of berries, the main portion of which were shipped to Edmonton.

It was a somewhat risky business, they found out, dependent on the weather and shipping conditions. But it kept the family going for some time.

In the hungry 30s there wasn’t much work around. Jack’s father did some guiding into Trophy Mountains. He also worked on his place and did some road work.

Jack first met his future bride, Marjorie MacLennan, at school, a small log school, then located near the present Clearwater high school.

In 1934 Jack and Marjorie MacLennan were married. This was during the hard times and there wasn’t much work to be had.

Jack put in some years at the Clearwater General Store and worked for 13 years at the Camp Two sawmill in Clearwater.

Today (1974) he lives with his wife and four grandchildren on the edge of Dutch Lake in a rough-hewed home that he himself built in 1933.


It is very cosy and attractive, and all the heating and cooking is done with wood.

Inset photo: Jack and Marjorie Harby get away from their place next to Dutch Lake to do some mountain climbing. It appears they are on the west ridge of Raft Peak, possibly in the 1960s.

Below: Strawberry plants form neat rows on the Harby farm next to Dutch Lake. Growing strawberries helped the family through the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Harby Strawberries