The Pete Woods Family
as told by John Woods
Pete Woods was born in Embrun, Quebec near the Ontario border. He was a bushman for a sawmill near Ottawa, where he worked ten hours a day for nine dollars a month and board, which consisted of the bare necessities. If extras were wanted, they had to be paid for, such as syrup for pancakes.
After working in bush camps for awhile, he decided that there had to be a better way of earning a living and decided to go west. He worked in a logging camp in Minnesota and at the smelter in Butte, Montana. While in Butte, he was married and two daughters were born there.
Pete's next move was to Fort Steele in 1901 and he travelled there on horseback with a dog, a frying pan and fifty cents in his pockets. There was very little work in Fort Steele and Mr. Galbraith told him that the North Star Mine at Kimberley were hiring teamsters. He got a job of hauling ore from the Mine to North Star Landing on Kootenay River, a distance of eighteen miles.
The ore was shipped by wagons and sleighs in two-hundred pound bags with four horse teams. To keep the wagons from running away down the steep hill from the Mine, the teamster used wheel locks for braking. The back wheels were chained to the wagon to keep them from turning and provided an effective braking system. In the winter, rough locks were on the sleighs to act as brakes, these were simply chains wrapped around the sleigh runners.
Two days were required for the round trip on the ore haul from the Mine to North Star Landing and back to the Mine, over the McGinty Trail. The first day the team travelled from the Mine with a five to six ton load of ore about twelve miles to a way-stop at Waite Wade's place. Wade had a contract with the Mine to feed and board the teamsters and horses for the overnight stop at his place.
On the second day, the team continued on to North Star Landing and unloaded the ore and returned to the Mine. The ore was transferred to paddlewheel boats and shipped to the smelter at Jennings, Montana. The ore haul was discontinued after 18 months when the North Star Branch of the C.P .R. was extended to Kimberley. An overhead tramline was also constructed to convey the ore from the Mine to the loading facilities in the Mark Creek valley near the Sullivan Mine Portal.
When the ore haul over the McGinty Trail was discontinued, Mr. Wade sold the way-stop and his property on Cherry Creek, to Pete Woods.
Mr. and Mrs. Woods were divorced and Pete advertised for a governess and housekeeper for his two daughters. His second wife was born in Morrisburg, Ontario and taught school for many years and came here in 1902. John was her only son, and as there was no way for him to attend school, she taught him at home until he could attend a school in Cranbrook.
Pete raised beef cattle on the farm and at one time he had as many as five hundred head. But after the war in 1918, beef prices dropped so drastically that he went broke. The Otis Staples Lumber Company of Wycliffe had one of their many logging camps nearby and Pete supplied them with meat for the cookhouse at the mill and the camps.
The farm is on the border of the St. Marys Indian Reserve and Mr. Woods got along with the Indians very well. It is about twelve miles from Kimberley but the lights at the Top Mine could be seen clearly.
In 1929, misfortune struck again when a fire completely burned their house and a barn with nine horses. They rebuilt the house and John and Mrs. Woods are still living there. Mr. and Mrs. Pete Woods passed away in 1938.
John married Ola Bernard in 1931, Ola was a niece of Charlie Bernard and came from Prince Edward Island. Charlie was well known in Kimberley and operated a transfer business for many years.
From 1934 to 1943, John delivered milk in Kimberley as well as supplying some to the Pighin and McClure Dairies.
John and Ola have seven children: four boys and three girls, with two of the girls being twins.
Pete Jr. lives in the Cherry Creek area and is his own boss, he does contract work for the Government. He has two boys.
David is married and they have five children, he is a bush foreman at White Swan Lake.
Norma is now Mrs. Janzen, they have two girls and live in Langley, B.C., where she teaches special classes.
Harold is married and they have one girl, he is presently a truck driver.
Olive and Doris are twin girls and are both married. Olive is now Mrs. Steinwandt and they have two girls and a boy and live in Fernie. Doris is Mrs. Bernard and they have two boys and a girl and live in Prince Edward Island.
Douglas is the youngest in the family and Mrs. Woods describes his height as five foot, nineteen inches. He is also married and he is also a truck driver at White Swan Lake.
In our interview with John, we were taken on a tour of the old McGinty Trail where the ore from the North Star Mine was hauled to the North Star Landing on the Kootenay River. The trail is still visible in many places but the long hill down to the landing is grown up with trees and brush. We also saw the remains of one of the old Staples logging camps, which is just a short distance from the Woods' farm.