Arrow Lake Indians – a visit by Agent Galbraith

Robert L.T. Galbraith was an Indian agent stationed at Fort Steele, near Cranbrook, B.C. in the early 1900s. He frequently made trips through the area to check on the status of the First Nation families that lived along the Columbia River and into the Arrow Lakes. This report on his venture through Trail was published in the Trail Creek News, April 26, 1902.

R.L.T. Galbraith, of Fort Steele, Indian agent for East and West Kootenay, was an interesting visitor to Trail this week. He was here for the purpose of vaccinating the Indians opposite Trail, on the east side of the Columbia River, and to persuade them not to cross the line or mingle with the Indians of the Colville reservation, where danger of smallpox exits.

He traveled up the Columbia River, past the present site of Trail 30 years ago. Mr. Galbraith visited the various camps along the river and Arrow Lakes with a view to ascertaining the condition of those Indians in this vicinity. He found that the families who had made this neighborhood their home for several years were in a fairly prosperous condition and were making a good very living by hunting and fishing, and also, by acting as guides to tourists who come to the country for a season’s outing.

In visiting camps opposite Trail, he found the Indians well supplied with food, neatly dressed and their families free from sickness. He vaccinated all who required it and urged them to mix, in no way, with the Indians south of the line, as he is anxious that they shall not acquire the evil habits of liquor, prevalent among the larger communities of the Colville reservation.

Mr. Galbraith always has a confidential talk with those under his charge. They know him well and are disposed to appreciate the fact that he comes to look after their welfare. He impressed them with the necessity of observing the laws of the country, especially in the matter of game, and pointed out to them that it was as much in their interest that the laws were passed as to the white man.

When he visited the Indians located near Fire Valley (Inonoaklin/Edgewood area) he found that they had extensively cultivated their gardens and planted many fruit trees. Those in that locality had been free from sickness and had made an excellent living by hunting.

Before returning to Forte Steele, he will call on the little band located at the mouth of the Kootenay.

The history of the Arrow Lake Indians is interesting. In the early days there was a tribe or small band known as the Fort Sheppard Indians, located at Fort Sheppard, and made the old Hudson Bay fort their headquarters. After the closing of the post (1870), these Indians scattered, some going to the Colville reservation and others to Okanagan, and were absorbed by those bands. Those remaining on the river are the remnants of a band which made Arrow Lakes and vicinity their hunting ground. They are most desirous of having a small reservation set apart for them south and east of Burton City and Mr. Galbraith will place the matter before the Indian department and the provincial government and endeavour to have their request complied with. They trap martin, fisher, beaver, wolverine, coyote, mink and mountain lion, generally understood to belong to the cougar tribe.

This year, the returns have not been as plentiful as previously, but prices have been excellent: a martin skin bringing from $10 to $15, which is five times as much as originally. The average price in Hudson Bay days was $3. At the time, they counted money in skins, with the beaver as the basis of value. The price of a full grown beaver was $2, which was called a  skin. A martin was worth a skin and a half, or $3. A bear was two skins and a half, or $5. This was the highest value and so it was that they traded their skins for provision, clothing and ammunition.

The last trader at old Fort Sheppard was Mr. Hardisty, who left the Hudson Bay service and is now private secretary to Lord Strathcona.

In discussing his visit, Mr. Galbraith said that the aim of the Indian department was to make the Indians self-supporting, but should one become destitute through sickness or any other cause, the department through agents, provides them with food, medicine and attendance. Seeds are given from time to time and where the Indians are unable to provide farming implements, plows and harrows are given them to assist in the cultivation of the ground. These improvements are supplied through Mr. Galbraith’s investigation.

In his agency, are some 600 Indians, about 25 of whom are located along the Columbia River. The majority of these Indians are able to speak English, but the language spoken among themselves is that of the Shuswaps.

In most cases the older ones do not know their age. Mr. Galbraith intends asking the Rev. Father Welsh of Rossland to occasionally look after the spiritual welfare of the Indians in this locality. They are all loyal and devoted to their country and have great respect for the ”laws of King George” as they put it.

Reprinted in 100 Years of Trail History, published in 2001 by the Trail Daily Times.

Quips from Trail Creek News 1912

May 11, 1912                                                                                                           Murder on Slocan

The body of Peter Winstaley, a rancher, was found partly in the cellar of his house, located about four miles up the Slocan River from Slocan Junction, on Sunday. Winstaley had been murdered by means of heavy rocks, with which the assassin fractured his skull and inflicted wounds in several places.

The murder took place, probably on Friday evening, near a little stream 100 yards from the house, and the body was afterwards dragged to the house, and placed on some steps leading to the cellar. The murderer broke open a window and gained access to the house and ransacked it, scattering the contents of trunks and other receptacles over the floor. Valuable articles left in the house suggest that it was money only that the assassin wanted. Winstaley was a Lancashire man, age 36 years.

March 20, 1912                                                                                                          Police Court

In the police court last Saturday, V. Kavcic was assessed $10.00 and costs for an assault. B. Semenoe, for using insulting language, contributed $15.00 and costs, also $15.00 and costs for assault.

On Wednesday, P. Amicorelli charged with the theft of tools at the smelter, was assessed $10.00 and costs. D. Salicicioli, charged with receiving stolen property; was dismissed.

May 11, 1912                                                                                                                 For sale – A snap – House and lot in the Gulch for $375.00. Good terms. – Apply J. R. Randall or T. McKelvey.

August 31, 1912                                                                                                        MORE LIKE NEW YORK EVERY DAY                                                                        Trail Has a Gambling Sensation – City Collects $1070.00 in Fines

The past week has been one of the most sensational in Trail for many years, and as a result of the disclosures the city coffers have been enriched considerably over $1,000. Gambling has been going on apace for the past two months and th whole affair culminated in police court proceedings on Thurday.

It was real classy gambling too for a burg like Trail, and $500 and $600 losses by individuals in an evening were frequent.

C.C. Bushnell was one of the heaviest losers, and gave the snap away by turning king’s evidence, and was used as the main witness for the prosecution.

Mike Bishock and chief Downes also give evidence for the prosecution. E.S. H. Winn was cousel for the prosectuiton, while C.F.R. Pincott acted for the defence. Magistrate Binns adjudicated on the various cases as follows:

John Petroni Jr., keeping a common gaming house at the Kootenay Hotel, $100; three charges of gambling, $50 on each charge.

M.F. Goodrich, keeping a common gaming house at the Dominion Hotel, $100; two charges of gambling, $50 on each charge.

James Williamson, allowing one game stud poke in Arlington Hotel, $50; oncharge gambling, $50.

Trav. Latham, two charges of gambling, $75 each.

Frank Cassello, one charge gambling, $50

John Oposkie, one charge of gambling $50

Mike Bishock, one charge of gambling, $50

Mike Obradovich pleaded guilty to one charge of gambling, 420.

Kenneth Grant, four charges of gambling, $50 each charge.

The case of Dan Martinelli, charged with gambling, was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Monday is Labour Day and a public holiday. The baseball boys, the band and a number of citizens will go to Salmo and help the boys in the mining camp celebrate.

Rossland is also holding a big celebration under the auspices of the Conservative Association, and a special train will leave Trail at 8:30 a.. returning after the dance. Round trip, adults 55 c., children 30 c. Trail football team will play in Rossland.

The time we saw the devil from under the bed at Lolly’s house

The Johnson house was probably the biggest house on our street. Two storeys high, the upper floor was an apartment. My friends, Lolly and Dina lived on the main floor.

The Johnson girls were both older than me, and Dina was a bit of a bully (see the Haunted Shack) but they lived just a few doors down from mine and within my allotted play radius.

In those dinosaur days before TV, internet and on-line games, we had to use our imaginations to make up games. We’d play Cowboys and Indians, Tag, Hide-and-Seek, Kick-the-Can, jump rope, Hop-scotch – basically anything that involved just our bodies, our minds and whatever we could think up.

It must have been in the fall. We were all getting hyped about Halloween.

The air had a chill to it; leaves and seed pods from the catalpa trees would blow in the wind and doors and windows would be closed tight to keep out oncoming winter. (Have you ever noticed how quiet a street can get once that happens? In summer, when everyone is outside and homes are open, there’s always the sound of people: laughter, yelling, talking, bumps and noises of mother’s cooking dinner, fathers and brothers tinkering in the yard. But come fall, it all quietens down.)

It had to have been a Saturday. We weren’t in school and our parents weren’t home.

Eternally banished to play outside, we’d come inside the Johnson house as it had started to rain and no one was home.

Lolly’s mother had gone shopping and left the older sister Dina in charge. But Dina had disappeared with her own friends leaving Lolly with me, her younger brothers, my cousin Barry and two or three others.

We’d started off innocent enough, playing Tag or something equally mundane. When we got bored, we gathered in Lolly’s bedroom and started making up stories, which soon turned to ghost stories.

It started to get dark, and because of the massive porch on the south-facing front of the house, little light filtered into the house. But that was OK. We kept the lights off because the darkness was somehow exhilarating.

It was getting late in the day and everyone knew they should be going home. But we hadn’t heard the Yellaphone (see the Haunted Shack again) so figured there was time for one more story.

Just as one of the tall tales was reaching a climax, we heard a sound coming from the living room.

“Did you hear something?” Lolly said.

“You’re just trying to scare us,” said one of the boys.

“I’m not,” she insisted.

Then we all heard it – a noise, like a creaking door.

“Shhh! Someone’s in the house,” Lolly said.

As quick and silently as we could, we scurried under the bed, hearts beating so loud, we were sure the intruder could hear us.

We listened.


Someone was moving around the living room.

We snuggled closer to each other, trying not to breathe.

From under the bed, we had a clear line of site into the kitchen. We watched as grey pants and black shoes passed the doorway, turned and walked back to the living room.

We could hear him – picking up papers, moving chairs.

Barry decided to have a look. He slid out on his stomach from under the bed and peeked around the door.

Just then, the man turned and spotted Barry on the floor.

What happened next is, well, I’m not really sure.

But Barry swears the man flashed fire-red eyes at him and then vanished.

At that very moment, a smell like nothing I could describe permeated through the house. To this day, I can remember it. I didn’t know then what it was, but when I grew up and remembered it, I could only describe it as something like hot ammonia.

I don’t know how long we lay there, frozen on the floor. But we were relieved to hear the kitchen door open and the bumbling sounds of moving feet and grocery bags hitting the counter.

“Dina? You here?” Lolly’s mother yelled.

With that, we all ran for our lives – through the bedroom and out the door, not looking back.

As days and months wore on, the incident expanded and with each telling, more details were added. One intruder became two, then three, then a whole houseful of ghosts. We all had our own interpretation of what happened and I suppose, as we aged and came to our senses, we realized it was probably just someone who came to visit, and finding no one home, left again. After all, no one ever locked a door back in those days.

But I’ll never forget that smell.

I never told my mother about the incident not until decades later. (There were lots of stories I never shared with my mother like the time I fell through the ice at the river).

But one day we were having a chat about the old neighbourhood; and clear out of the blue, she said, “did you know the Johnson house was haunted?”

“You never told me that,” I said.

“Well, I didn’t want you to be scared, but it was only the upstairs part, anyway,” she said. “Old man Johnson lived up there. (That would be Dina and Lolly’s grandfather.)

“Back then, everyone had a coal/wood stove in the kitchen, and it was said that the old man had the habit of pissing into the fire. And after he died, on some nights, the smell of burning urine would permeate throughout the house.”

Her words hit me like a brick.

So THAT was the smell.

I quizzed her more about the old man and she said he was bad-tempered and hated kids.

Had he been meandering through the house on the day we’d been hiding under the bed?

I guess we’ll never really know.

But right into adulthood, Barry never changed his story. He swore he saw a man with red eyes.




Corvette Caravan 2014


Day 1

The adventure begins.

It was a misty morning when we set off in our black-on-black 2007 C6 Corvette coupe from our home city of Trail, British Columbia (in Canada) to embark on a very long tour into the U.S. – first driving across B.C. to southern Alberta, then down into the U.S., heading south and east – all the way to Kentucky and Tennessee.

IMG_0140We first heard about this National Corvette Caravan some four years ago, shortly after purchasing our Corvette and getting involved with the Spokane Corvette Club. The Caravan happens once every five years and gathers cars from all over North America (8,000 to 10,000 of them) to converge on Bowling Green, Kentucky, birthplace of this most esteemed sports car. Bowling Green is the Mecca of Corvettes – not only home of the assembly plant but also home to the Corvette Museum. And since this is the 60th year since they started making Corvettes, the caravan is a pretty big deal. Its profile was raised earlier this year when a sink hole developed at the museum, engulfing five or six cars. Continue reading

Seeing the forest for the trees – books by Darcee O’Hearn

This was originally published in the Trail Times in 2009. See update at bottom.

By Lana Rodlie

Her books have been six years in the making; rejected by publishers; but Darcee O’Hearn is trudging along, undaunted.

The 39-year-old Rossland mother of three has been through trials and tribulations before, and her latest venture is just another in a growing list of challenges.

O’Hearn created a series of children’s books that will help children gain a better understanding of the forest. Continue reading

The Hitchhiker – A Kootenay Christmas Story

Angels are sent into our lives in all sorts of forms and figures and we never recognize them at the time. But after they’ve delivered their message and disappeared, the message will eventually sink in and you’ll wake up one morning and realize God has spoken.

By Lana Rodlie

 We were heading to Alberta to spend the holidays with our youngest daughter and stopped for gas in a small Kootenay town. As we pulled back onto the highway, there was a young man standing by the road with a lot of boxes and bags and his thumb stuck out. We don`t normally pick up hitchhikers, but something told me we HAD to pick up this one. Continue reading

The Haunted Shack

 By Lana Rodlie

(Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Live with it.)

It was a dark wooden ivy-covered shack clinging to the banks of the Columbia River just off  Clark Street in East Trail – and every kid between Merry’s Flats and Sandy Island knew it was haunted.

You couldn’t see the shack from Columbia Avenue. It was kind of behind Bobby Alton’s house on the lower side of the 1600-block. And you couldn’t just walk up to it. It was tucked in behind. There was no easy access. To get to it, you had to go to the river bank and launch yourself onto this telephone pole that kind of dangled at a 30 degree angle over the fast-flowing river. (Remember, the Columbia River was quite high and thick back then – before the building of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Robson.) 

Once you got yourself safely to the pole, you’d have to throw yourself back onto the bank while grabbing for a rickety fence that served as a barrier to the old cabin. From there, you could make your way around to a little yard, tucked inside a two-storey L-shaped building.

The yard itself was scary enough – overgrown with creepy vines and one of those tangly black locust trees leaning against the shack. The windows were boarded up; but what was worse, because of the shack’s obscure location – no one could hear you scream and there was no quick way out.

I only went there one time – once was enough. But I’ll have to back up the story a bit to let you know how I got there. Continue reading

Viking search: A funny thing happened on the way to the penis

You have to keep in mind that this is northern Norway – land of the Vikings. And yes, there are still a lot of Viking relics around here (some are actually dead). And you haven’t seen Helgeland until you’ve seen the Viking penis (although the proper term for this monument is “the Phallus.”


A Viking view. Lana Rodlie photo

 September 20, 2013  

The last few days have been a blur, punctuated with rough ferry rides, catamaran tours, gale-force winds, getting lost in the wilderness, and a bomb scare. It all began with the arrival of our friends Doug and Joyce from Nanaimo, B.C. or I should say their “expected” arrival. Continue reading

Medieval Norway: Past and future collide at Alstahaug

Alstahaug church outside

Alstahaug Church dates back to 1200. Lana Rodlie photo

About 20 kilometres south of Sandnessjøen, resting under the shadows of the giant Seven Sisters Mountains is the Alstahaug church and Petter Dass Museum. Alstahaug is the name of the island on which sits the city and was the most powerful perish in Helgeland for hundreds of years. The Russian-inspired church is over 800 years old and one of only seven Medieval churches still standing in this part of Norway. The country’s famous poet-priest Petter Dass served here from 1689 until his death in 1707. The farm connected to the church is now part of the museum and displays artifacts depicting Dass’s life and family. Since we’ve visited this museum more than once,  I’ll include notes from my last visit. Continue reading

Historical journal – a day at Heathrow

Day 1

We arrived at Heathrow in one piece, after a multi-hour Air Canada Air Miles night flight from Vancouver. This after the harrowing journey from Castlegar (Cancelgar) Airport – so named due to its reputation. But the plane went, which was all good.

At Heathrow, we landed at Terminal X. There must be an unwritten law that whatever terminal you land in at Heathrow will not be the terminal from which you are scheduled to depart. So we boarded a bus that took us through a maze of corridors, construction cranes, bus loops and blocked roadways. (Heathrow has been under construction for as long as we’ve been landing there – since about 1980. I have no idea what they are constructing or if they will ever finish it but some well-placed incineration devices wouldn’t hurt (after clearing people out of the way, of course.)

We had about a two-hour stopover on our way to Hamburg.

Hungry, we remembered our last stop there a few years ago. We’d gone into an Irish pub and had fish and chips with mushy peas. It was fabulous; lively; fun. But I couldn’t tell you what terminal it was in.

Even though I am trying to leave fatty foods alone, I could not be in London and not have fish and chips. (Kind of like being in Quebec and not eating poutine.) Anyway, we went into this eatery called Harlequin (or maybe it was called Alehouse Eatery – there were two signs.) Thinking, yay – finally English fish and chips, we ordered. The waitress tried to talk us into some nice barbecued chicken or scrumptious beef roll up. No, we wanted fish and chips. (Dan said later that should have been our first clue – when she tried to steer us to something else.) Continue reading