Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
To begin harvesting the logs we needed for the new gym, we put a logging crew of band members up at the resort at Morehead Lake. We had hired Del Nickelson, a local log house builder, as the head manager for the gym construction. Del also stayed at Morehead Lake to select the logs that would be used for the gym and to supervise the logging crew. Every couple of days we would have a truck haul a load of logs to Sugar Cane to be sorted and peeled. The logs were spread out in an area behind the then band office, where the Natural Resources and Education office is now located. Leo and Henry Michel (I think) were the log peelers. I can?t remember how and where we got the money to pay for the logging crew accommodation and the log haulers and many other expenses. As I mentioned before, The Band had very little money in those days.
To the best of my recollection, as part of the agreement with the Forest Service to harvest logs for our community centre, we were to construct at least one residential structure. We built two small home size structures first. These two would actually be practice structures before we started on the community centre. The first log structure is now located behind Winston Alphonse?s house. The Band sold this structure to Willie Alphonse because it was not suitable to be used to build a home out of. Willie moved the structure and reassembled it himself. The second building was of better quality and able to be used for a home construction. This house was disassembled and moved to be used for a log home for Pierro Sandy and Edith Wycotte. That house is now used by Derrick Bob.
Del and I pretty well developed the design of the building ourselves. Del was the log construction expert and he needed to hire one other person to help him train our crew for the log work. We had quite a crew and they were pretty well all band members. Amazing considering the make up of our staff these days. Some of this crew I remember was Alex Paul, Charlie Gilbert, Reg Sandy, George Abbey Sr., Ken Michel, Poncho Sandy, and several others I can?t now recall.
One of the ongoing problems of building the gym was funding. I had to be constantly badgering DIA to give us funding to use toward the gym. The refused to get involved because, they said, we had not involved an architect in the design of the building. They stated that no more DIA funding could be used in the structure. I asked them to then provide us with enough money to hire an architect firm, David Nairne and Associates. They refused. I thought then, desperate times required desperate measures. I went to a Cariboo Regional District meeting in Quesnel. I asked them if they could help us out with the services of an architect. I guessed that they wouldn?t or couldn?t help me, but I knew that it would get into the newspaper. It did, and DIA wasn?t very happy about it. They were embarrassed. It wasn?t long afterward, that I got a call from the district manager. He suddenly had found some funding to pay for our architect. Once we got the architect to agree that our design was sound and safe he agreed to sign off on it. After that, it wasn?t all that easy to get DIA to provide funds, but with our persistence they managed to find funding here and there. Thankfully over a couple of years with the help of Canada Manpower?s Winterworks program and our own WOP program, we were able to start using the gym to some extent in 1979 or 80.