Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Journey Continues

What a treasure trove this scrapbook is. I didnt half realize the gift my grandma was giving me at the time. But now that I'm older and so fascinated with the past, is the perfect time to be exploring it.

I am going to have to do an intervention this winter and get each page preserved before it completely falls apart.

The photo above is my grandparents in their middle years. My grandfather had been running a mail order business for herbal health products in Saskatoon - he was very much ahead of his time, but he had developed a good following by mail order. When they came to Kelowna to visit my folks and meet me, they fell in love with the town, its lake and orchards, the peace and beauty, and they moved from Saskatoon to remain in Kelowna for the rest of their lives.

They bought the little cottage above, on Christleton Avenue, where they lived through my early childhood. I spent a lot of time in that house, being cared for by my grandma. Grandpa opened the small shop called Health Products on Ellis Street.

I remember spending afternoons there with him sometimes. He would let me fill bottles with the herbal pills. I would count them carefully. When you walked in the door, you could smell all of the different herbs, which seemed like magic potions to me. Shelves lined the walls in the back room, and the medicines were kept in huge cardboard round containers.

My grandparents lived very modestly. There was no such thing as living beyond one's means. They were careful, but life was comfortable within their modest framework. They did not seem to long for more than what they had. Furniture was serviceable and purchased once, lasting forever. They re-used things, such as brown paper wrapping and string. When grandpa died, he had saved enough money to look after my grandma for the thirteen years she lived beyond him, with a bequest to the children on her death.

North America has lost the knack of living without excess. We need to relearn it. My grandparents lived through the Depression. After such desperation, waste was not in their vocabulary. Nor was "credit" or debt.

I love this photo - taken in earlier years when their kids were small. The page says the woman on the right with the hat on is my grandma and the little tot is my aunt Audrey. I suspect the boy off to the right with his back turned is my uncle LaVergne, he is the right age. They were at Waskesiu, Saskatchewan, where the family went sometimes in summer.

Collie, R.I.P., Flo and Renee's Ranch Horse - in my grandma's writing. My mom was named Renee, but there was another Renee in the family, who belonged to the horse.

This was an unexpected treasure. Without my glasses, I didnt see the writing underneath till I looked closer. Likely the only photo of my grandparents with my grandma's mother. The caption says, Wilf, Flo, Ma, R.I.P. My great-grandmother came from County Cork in Ireland. Grandma Julie. She's the one who wintered with the family and got into pillow fights and cigarette smoking with the girls :) I recognize her impish smile. I think I share it :)

My grandmother, still in Saskatoon in this photo.

After many years in the first little cottage, which I loved, business was doing well enough to support a move to a bigger house. Note that it isnt very much bigger! This house had a basement, that was the only difference, and it didnt have that cool back room where we listened to thunderstorms. But here my grandma reveled in gardening on an even bigger scale and she had blooming trees and bushes and flowers everywhere. This was on Knox Crescent. They were there for several years until my grandpa retired. Then they made a practical move, into an apartment complex, where there was less upkeep. It must have been hard to give up her garden.
My grandpa died while they were living in the apartment. My grandma stayed on there for six months or a year and then entered a nursing home herself. She was not happy with that move, and lingered for ten years in a life she no longer recognized as her own.
"I'm still here," she'd say disgustedly, as I popped my head in...."Just too damned healthy!"
I wish I had taken the time to sit with her and get the stories of every photo in this album. When one is young and busy, you have no idea how important and meaningful all of these stories will be to you one day. Thankfully I spent a lot of time with her in her final years and do have many of the stories. I must get them all down, in here, as we go along.

More to come......there are all the years when their five kids were raising a ruckus and my mom was turning my grandma's hair white!!!!!!


  1. What a gift to go back and reflect in the magic of your history! Please keep weaving your magic...i want to hear more~

  2. beautiful pictures...i love the way you have captured the essence of the pictures in your words. No matter how personal your recollections are, you have made them universal. I'm moved by them...thanks for sharing.


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