An interview at Susan Good's house over a cup of tea
Listen to reflections by Nancy Wigen of her family history and early life on Salt Spring Island. The interviewer is Arthur Black, the well known humourist and radio personality.
Nancy was born on Salt Spring in 1934 and lived with her family on North Beach Rd. A beautiful setting which must have inspired her to become the accomplished water colorist, gardener and nature lover who is admired and respected for her knowledge of island living. Nancy tells of how her family came to live on Salt Spring and built up their farm growing most of their own food. In the early years, Fernwood dock was much bigger and regular boats stopped in to transport goods and even cars to and from the North end of Salt Spring. Nancy still lives very close to the land. she has a beautiful garden, a flock of chickens a dog and a cat and with all this she still makes time to bake, write letters to the editor of the local paper, keep a bird watching journal and play a prominent role in the lives of her many children grandchildren and great grandchildren.
|Arthur Black interviewing Nancy Wigen
|December 6, 2011
Speaker 1 0:00
while I'm sitting looking over Trincomalee channel again and Susan goods house and I'm not sure how to introduce today's guest, I could say she's a watercolorist like a Chase. He's a breadmaker, a birdwatcher, a guitarist, a singer, and a mother of 10. Is that right? Nancy Reagan?
Speaker 2 0:20
Yes. Grandmother 18 Great Grandmother, too.
Speaker 1 0:28
So I should I forgot to mention you're also a salt spreader. Yes. How long have you when did you come to Salt Spring? When did you get here?
Speaker 2 0:36
In 1934 in the lady mental hospital?
Unknown Speaker 0:40
Uh huh. Yeah, born right here. Yes. How did your parents get here that
Speaker 2 0:44
they came to Fernwood worth in 1922. From the prairies, it didn't living in Saskatchewan. After living in Edmonton, where my dad was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, and that was in 1919. When he came back from the war, they had given his northern job to someone else, he would have been had some speed factor, he was next in line to be Hudson's Bay factor. So they put him in the office. And I told him, something would come up, which didn't. And so after three years in the office, which he was not an office type person, he was an accountant. But, and he had gone around the posts in the north doing their books for them. And so he in in a river, 4 million, lesser Slave Lake, Peace River, all up through that country. And when he gets it long stretch, just sitting in an office in front of him. He took the face of someone he'd been in the Canadian Army with who was living on Saltspring, who kept writing in saying it's like heaven here. Why don't you come? And so they bought the place out and seen came here in 1922. And Fernwood was a much more expanded dock in those days. 2022. Yeah, CPR boat came, did different what cars came out on the wards, and it was a good sized berth in those days. And our property list a mile north from from for how much property 10 acres. And they had no children that my grandfather, my mom's father came with. And what was supposed to be fruit farm was actually six raspberry canes and now and it has a group of locking slash and stamps. So what did they do? Work plant just cleared the land just Yeah. Blasted this dounce with dynamite. And there were several settlers farmers who work together shared a team of horses and pulled the blasted stumps out of the ground and burned and leveled the earth. And my parents did plant berries. They planted strawberries, loganberries, raspberries, and they had their first good crop of strawberries on the earth that the economy collapsed. And my parents had hired their pickers and pick their fruit and no one came to pick it up and it rotted, doesn't roll.
Unknown Speaker 4:43
So 1929 1930
Speaker 2 4:47
and that paid is all his pictures, but he was in the next eight years I guess. What would store I extended credit. And he paid his taxes by looking after it section Road, making sure the ditches were cleared and the brush was got back and the potholes were filled. Because it was
Unknown Speaker 5:20
must have been a tough time for your parents. Yes. And
Speaker 2 5:23
right in the middle of it, I got boring. I'm sure menopause would have been preferred. Because my mom was 43 at the deck.
Unknown Speaker 5:36
And how many siblings? Just one
Unknown Speaker 5:38
brother, six years old.
Speaker 1 5:43
This was quite an adventurous life that your father led because he had he had ties back in Great Britain did he not?
Speaker 2 5:50
He came at the age of 17 with another adventure, adventurous youth. He had a job lined up in Winnipeg, he was an artist as well, my dad, and he had a job lined up with architect drawing blueprints. No, how boring is that for a 17 year old in a new country. So that didn't last. And he worked on various things, including for pharma on an island didn't like wouldn't pick who sent his big fish that he could pitchfork out at the lake and separatists that come in and out loads. And they slept in a boat house that you could see
Unknown Speaker 6:48
through the cracks in Winnipeg.
Speaker 2 6:51
And which also have paper bags, which must be tough little critters. Anyway And last year, and he was good working with horses, and he was working for horse Diem plowing on the prairies. And then he got a job with this EPR and was desk clerk in the hotel Vancouver in 1901. And lost that job when he refused to do that stretch, because he was captain of his soccer team. And they had an important match
Unknown Speaker 7:42
may have heard his priority. Yes.
Speaker 2 7:45
So it worked for a brief time in a logging camp. And then he got to work with Hudson's Bay and went up to the north. So he was in northern Alberta, from 1905 to 1915. When he went into the Army, and
Unknown Speaker 8:08
he was also a photographer was
Speaker 2 8:10
yes, he got, I should have brought my book anyway was a young man who had come out from a fairly well to do family, I guess in Britain, who was going to take pictures of the front ear. And anyway, he got fed up with it. He was up north, he was out of money, and he wanted to get out of there. And he traded his camera for a drip out my dad to come out and take a look at the photographic equipment camera and the darkroom equipment. And so it took some very interesting pictures. Then, at that time, and
Speaker 1 9:10
somebody told me if I was the only family I was going to talk to you they said Ask Nancy about the penmanship. Oh,
Speaker 2 9:17
yeah. My grandfather in England. Well, it was it was only skill and writing in longhand, before the printing presses and so on. And Queen Victoria liked her speeches written out for her own hand. And I understand that he wrote at least one of her speeches for her. And all of my dad's family had beautiful penmanship. except for one of my aunts, whose reading was pretty good, but not up to the family standard. Yeah.
Speaker 1 10:09
How about your penmanship is it's dreadful. Now, you mentioned that you became the mother of 10 children over over the years. But you were involved with kids more than that on Saltspring? Or do you are you were you're involved with for a living?
Speaker 2 10:25
For age 40 Jumpstart? Yeah. Yeah. For a while. Yeah. And that was fun. Or it was really fun at that time. What did you do? I was the craft person. And it was when our son, it was 10. And he was in it for agent. So I got involved
Unknown Speaker 10:47
in the Caribbean called
Speaker 2 10:49
and yeah. And we made a quilt. You know, they asked me to do something. And they said, We need a craft person. And I hit this little welcome to baby cart in my fruits that I got. And it had like a baby quilt on that front with little animals, cats and dogs and bunnies, and lamps and stuff. And one of the children piped up and said, if we have to do the double workbox, again, I'm not a craft. And I pull this little card out of my purse, and I said, How would you kids like to make a quilt. And so that's what happened in 19 children in the group. And so I didn't know that much about making quilts. So I got my cast from that. And we did quilts to help us. And each child designed their own square, they were 12 inch squares. And they design them. And so and Margaret showed us how to put them together. And I encourage the participation of parents, grandparents and whatever to teach the Xirius child was seven, and had ever known before. And I said this as got to be good. Because it's it's going to last for a long time. And it's an air. And it's nothing else like in the whole world. So it's really good. And they all accepted that and if it was anything that wasn't good enough, they didn't find take it and do it over again. What's special, and the kids who worked in crafts helped us out tickets we raised $400 with and that was an artist and cemetery. Children to a forage camp. Yeah, it was great. We did several quilts actually.
Unknown Speaker 13:23
How many years were you involved?
Speaker 2 13:25
Oh, three or four? Yeah. Yeah. So it was it was good. It was. I learned a lot. And I had kids talk to me theater. Remember that? If they have made quilts for themselves and stuff at home,
Unknown Speaker 13:43
have you kept track of that original quilt in Origins?
Speaker 2 13:45
No, no, no, because it was one inner craft. And yeah,
Unknown Speaker 13:50
somebody's got to treasure
Speaker 2 13:53
it but it was so deep because everybody if you give them a chance is creative, and kids particularly. And so we had everything on there from a tractor to a peacock's feather. You know, with lamb, bunnies and
Unknown Speaker 14:16
Saltspring after all, yeah,
Speaker 2 14:18
that's right. But I mean, whatever the job. So as it carrots, you know, whatever.
Unknown Speaker 14:27
I'd love to see that quilt.
Speaker 2 14:29
Yes. Yeah, I just I just have no idea. I've got a picture of it somewhere. I'm sure that I wouldn't know where it is now.
Speaker 1 14:39
I guess to a lot of people you're known as Nancy Reagan, the painter, you're into watercolors. When did you get interested in painting?
Speaker 2 14:49
Probably when we came back to Saltspring because you've been living in Victoria again, Painting again I paint it off and on during my life I haven't got the strap in school and they used to strap people in those days in front of the class for decorating my book with pictures now even and I'd forgotten if I have my paints in my desk and I had been painting licking a paintbrush my time and anyway the teacher is extremely offensive to her efforts to dread teach me anything else and hit me up in front of the class and and check that strap it in my notes and I'm quite sure I think I peed
Speaker 2 15:51
she said you just do this to me.
Speaker 1 15:59
There's somewhere around somewhere there are their textbooks with decorations all down the margins, originals.
Speaker 2 16:06
And actually, I pay attention better if I'm doing something like that, than if I'm just sitting there with my hands. Or even writing notes. The brain connection for me it's it's, it's connected to creativeness of some kind. So I'm paying better attention if I'm doing something creative than if I'm just sitting listening.
Speaker 1 16:41
But it's hard to create and to to make a teacher believe that. Oh, they don't
Unknown Speaker 16:46
know. Absolutely not.
Speaker 1 16:49
You had some resident moth or a resident moth in your house one time do you have that story? No. No. Moffat took up residence.
Speaker 2 16:58
Oh, yes. This was info for it. And I was out in the garden and I saw a boat 15 or 20 Ants trying to drag a large I think just a grumpy a moth you know it's just they're trying to drag this poor creature in her wings were in tatters. Anyway, I brushed the ants off her and took her in the house. I thought she was dead actually. And I put her on the table which was by the window and actually most likely the door which added curtain drapes and when I came back I guess it went to tell said when I came back she was gone. And I thought you know I thought she was dead Where the heck did she go and then I discovered she got off the table and onto the drapes and climbed on the drapes and laid eggs. Now these were very nice they were boat half the size of a match and the remote it doesn't have them and they're stuck on my learning my dream How did you know it was
Unknown Speaker 18:31
the Moffitt had done that.
Speaker 2 18:33
I don't know if I caught her in the act or or found or the bottom of the drapes. That I mean there's not that many things that are quote unquote late eggs on your on your drapes. Anyway. We've watched them every day. And after about 10 days or two weeks. Here were these tiny little caterpillars that look like mini mascara brushes running around where the eggs have been. And I went outside gathered some greens from or I'd failed them off and put them in a jar and scoop these little guys into the dirt with the greens. You know, dandelions, grass, whatever. And they didn't like it. And they were racing around and you're looking desperate. So Right. Oh, well. This is there's nothing in there. They think it's good to eat. So I took them outside and I dumped the whole thing out again. All right, found her and don't worry about it. And the next year at the same time I'm off cane. Got him House and laid her eggs in place. Not quite. But on the group's well actually she was on the wallpaper, which was not as good. It's great.
Unknown Speaker 20:13
Speaker 2 20:14
But yeah, she got in. So obviously it survived. And obviously they remembered to lay eggs in the house. And later I looked at lots of grumpy monks eat and eat plum leaves a void, and it was near the telemetry, but it never occurred to me. But those little critters that we're about half a centimeter long managed to find their way through the through the grass and so forth and up the plum tree and survived. And this happened for a couple of years.
Unknown Speaker 20:51
I've taught what the salmon migration?
Speaker 2 20:53
Yeah, we don't realize how organized nature is. You know, how intricate the connections in nature.
Speaker 1 21:05
You've got lots of connections to eggs to Euro if you're an accomplished poultry person, or you're not.
Speaker 2 21:11
Well, my chickens are laying it, but it doesn't make any and I guess that's it, but it's accomplished. Yeah. You know, hatched out of humans always had chickens. Pretty well. Yes. Yeah. I guess like chickens do. And so when we lived in Victoria, we had chickens. And because he grew up at a farm in the Kootenays, that's my second husband. My first has been, was born in Stuart BC. Race. Dad was a hard rock miner with premium mines. And began getting silicosis. And so they came down to Victoria, when when I was 10. But they were involved with farming there. They lived in Saanich. And for a while, they had a strawberry farm. And my second husband grew up on a strawberry farm at the good knees in Creston actually window which is close to Creston. So strawberries, and now my brother has dropped race on his place in just endograft. Uh huh. Yes.
Speaker 1 22:35
So we've covered your poultry career, and we've covered your mother covered what we touched on your artistic career. How about your singing career, tell us about your singing.
Speaker 2 22:47
Both my parents had had good singing voices. My dad had a very, very acceptable bass voice is and had begun singing as a boy, choir boy in England, probably at St. Paul's, but I'm not positive of that, because it didn't at the time. And at the age of seven, you could become a choir boy. And his brother was a year older than he was, and the two of them were in the choir. And so he's in all his life. And even at the age of 90, with 3% vision, he could still read music faster to test the rest of us. He was going to St. Peter's, like kale in church there, and so he was in the choir, too. And he only had one night. That's even he had 3% vision. But, you know, he had this little magnifying glass and he could, he had his forte before the rest of us.
Unknown Speaker 24:14
Yeah. So singing is in your blood, obviously. Yeah.
Speaker 2 24:17
And my mom had a good mezzo soprano voice. And she took voice lessons when they lived on the prairies. And was soulless in a big choir. 300 voices. Yeah. So she had a voice.
Unknown Speaker 24:38
And what do you wear to use using the tune? They're
Speaker 2 24:41
not anymore. My voice is wrecked. That didn't air in lips on screen singers. And I think and my grandfather was a tenors. So we're Yeah. And you play guitar? Yes. Not very out fat. How long have you been playing guitar? When my parents moved from the farm to the house near St. Mary's Lake, when dad was 77 they saw the piano that I sent it to grade eight piano was a girl. But they sold the piano. And I was, I was quite sad about that, because they didn't tell me. And so we, you know, mama said we needed the money. But we would have bought it. And but it was gone. And it was quite unique because it was made in wealth. And it had cast frame was and so it stayed in tune really well. And they were called Bell pianos because they had a bell tone. And I've only seen once since. So I was quite upset, actually that it was gone. And they only got 200 bucks for it, which made me even more upset. Because the people who bought it could have paid what it was worth anyway. And my husband felt really bad for me that the piano was gone. And for Christmas, he gave me a guitar. And so you know, I had fun with the piano. Because we could take it camping and you know it sit around with friends and sing and play that guitar. And for when we came back to Salt Springs for 20 years, I did music with Georgina Marcotte at St. Paul's info for 30 maths. And we get to get there during the week, and the Catholics have a little miss lab which has the readings and prayers and everything in it for each week. And so it would do the readings and and choose appropriate music and practice. And I'd go and play for six o'clock. Alright if God mats on Sunday mornings and then quite often go to Anakin church as well at 11. And yeah, and said really enjoyed playing pool and so after eight o'clock mass we'd go to the to the full board and have breakfast in a game of pool at church and share it with them.
Unknown Speaker 28:06
covering all the bases. Yeah, well,
Speaker 2 28:09
hey, you know, in my growing up church was the the main social outlet. For years we didn't have a car. I remember walking to St. Mark's Yeah. And which is nothing compared to LSU who played the Oregon and use do work from her place, which was just about as far to St. Mark's to practice on a pump Oregon. And then we'll come again and for years she wouldn't write in a car she called them in for another cheat sheet live 204 think Yeah,
Speaker 1 29:02
that must have been must have been a whole different way of life when you when you when you don't depend on the car because nowadays people wouldn't think of living on Saltspring or anywhere else for that matter for not having a car.
Speaker 2 29:11
No, I don't. It's quite different. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 29:14
So would it be with the communities be stronger in those times I would Fern would be very distinct from Central from,
Speaker 2 29:20
from Ganges from. It was no different what I mean, it just didn't. There was always so much to do in the farm. You basically didn't I mean, the main social outlet, as I say, was church. And so we'd see people at church and and my parents were very faithful about going to church. And it wasn't I think it was always a service that there were five churches and Anglican churches on the island at the time and So he was spread pretty thin. So it might be at eight o'clock in the morning, or it might be at 11 or 1130. Or it might be in the evening, or it might be in the afternoon, but usually managed every cent unless there was a snowstorm or something. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 30:24
Must have known some characters on the island growing up. Anybody stand up for you?
Speaker 2 30:34
Can't think of anybody got through tennis? at LSU? Who played the orchids? I don't know. I think when you live that kind of life, you're far more of an individual than most people are now mean, we're so saturated with stimulus from radio, TV. You know, the internet everything. It's It must be hard for people to actually know who they are. You know?
Speaker 1 31:15
Yeah. So some of the some of the people that I'm familiar with in the past, like the Mr. Bullock's and the bonds and and the good, the good ones all those people that they're so very radically different. You know, there's, there's such a strong personality and you right, you don't see that anymore? Very much.
Speaker 2 31:32
Over overwhelmed by the the overabundance of stimulus of all kinds.
Unknown Speaker 31:42
Did you know all your neighbors really well, when you're when you're growing up? Did you find that? That was a different sort of thing?
Speaker 2 31:48
Well, as they say, you kind of just from the time you woke up in the morning until the time you went to bed, you had stuff to do stuff to do. Yeah. And so you weren't going next door for a cup of coffee or whatever. Besides, next door was half a mile away.
Speaker 1 32:09
Yeah, so the family unit was very strong. Yeah. Yeah. Did you work with your mom in the kitchen? Did you do? Is that where you hope and pray for us? Yeah.
Speaker 2 32:17
Yeah. You know, every everybody did, what they what they were capable of, and it says they my grandfathers and for that. My grandfather did most of the housework, actually, my mother did most mostly outdoor stuff. So, you know, he watched the dishes, kindling, kept the fires going, you know, floor, tidied up roads, lights and so on. And he lived in till he died at home at HBS. And put some long members in your family. Yeah. And he was virtually blind before he died. And it was a great worried mother because she was afraid it might set the house on fire. But that, yeah. But, and sadly, he was in good health until he was 83. And he got the flu, and his health just totally deteriorated after that. And he became his eyesight failed, his hearing failed. And, of course, when he couldn't see it couldn't go outside without getting lost. You know, I remember him going out to the woods, to get some wood and not being able to find his way back. So that was very, yeah, that was very sad. We used to read to him. In the evenings we'd read Dickens and the Reader's Digest and, you know, poetry and things like that, that he liked. Read the newspaper. And we order our groceries. What was truck came by once a week. And we'd have a written list of things we needed. Like flour and sugar. G eat and feed for the animals and that was about it because everything else. We grew up on the farm. We had a cow for milk. We had chickens for eggs and meat. We got fish and it's eat and we hit you know, apples, pears plans? Berries, and my mother did probably between three and 400 jars of preserves every year. Yeah. You know, various vegetables and fruit jams, pickles, whatever. And whatever she was doing, usually, I was helping her. Because we just worked together on it. And yeah, so it was a totally different way of life. And I
Speaker 2 35:47
am almost in culture shock in the culture we have now, because it is so radically different. And yeah. And I feel more akin to much more primitive societies where women still do these things. And, you know, we don't our socks and mended or clothes and washed, of course, we didn't have electricity or running water, or telephone, if you need to, like my grandfather had a stroke, at home debt at two to go a mile to the nearest phone. And I am not sure if we had a guard that time or if he walked. And then it was a party lines. So there's 12 parties on there. So to clear them all off the line, to get a hold of the doctor. And to get him to come seven miles from the edge as well. But we got there, my grandfather passed away, which was a blessing. You know, I mean, living in a nursing home, it's no fun. So I'm thankful that he didn't have to have that happen. And also thankful I've been with him during that time. He passed away. But I mean, I sat with him. What's it? So, and I felt very happy for him. I felt he was he was dancing in the air. I really did. He wasn't in his body anymore. He wasn't blind. He wasn't deaf. His feet didn't hurt. You know, he was bound in that body anymore.
Unknown Speaker 38:14
Yeah, so I'm grateful for that. I was 12. And that's another thing. People are so afraid of death now.
Speaker 1 38:27
Yeah, it's the last taboo, isn't it? Nobody wants to talk about it, or think about it or no.
Speaker 2 38:31
And it's it's something universal. You know, we're all born we're all gonna die. Nobody gets out of here alive. That's right. And yeah, so I think that was a very special privilege that I can't put deepness my grandfather, as he left, left to start use that body.
Speaker 1 39:00
And you mentioned dancing in the air, which makes me think that you've also been fascinated with other things that dance in the air. You've been a bird watcher for a long time. Yes. How did that come about?
Speaker 2 39:13
My parents were very conscious of nature. And I remember my mum calling me to see an unusual bird in that in the garden and this kind of thing when I would suggest and just so much of the natural progression of nature throughout the year. You know, I didn't have other kids to play, but my brother was six years older. So we went to school the year I was born. There weren't any other children near and actually I never had a girl have to play with before I went to school. Yeah. So all the creatures were an intimate part of my life. And still are I it's it's I'm so happy to have a place where so many birds come in the winter. They This is a place for r&r For a lot of birds. To see birds and Lampert's
Speaker 1 40:34
looking over click a belly as well. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 2 40:37
And there's about 30 different birds that come in the winter. And are, are here at night, put up my feeders and, you know, they're quite happy to. And I, I keep track of them for the International feederwatch or North American fear. So, I record at least two days a week, all the birds that come to the feeder the web, they're the temperature that gets sent into their headquarters. But they do Canada and United States in I think Mexico.
Unknown Speaker 41:28
You have any overwintering hummingbirds?
Speaker 2 41:30
Yes, yeah. Yeah. And as bluebirds Yeah. And the red winged blackbirds come in the winter and I counted 72 In the popular trees, like pop or something. Yeah, they like the the way up there. And they sing. You know, they sing Oh, with are these two the males? I don't know where the females go, but the males come. And that was both came into Fernwood one time. It was February I guess. And blackbirds are all up in the tree and they roll singing and this couple coming up after the war, said, The woman said to her husband, listen, she said, listen to the birds. It's just like the tropics here.
Unknown Speaker 42:24
They do think loud.
Speaker 2 42:26
Yes. Yeah. It's nice. Oh, it's not happy.
Unknown Speaker 42:29
So yes. Yeah. It's a totally, it's a totally beautiful. Awesome. Yeah. Have you had much to do with First Nations on the island.
Speaker 2 42:37
We had a native federal live for this for off and on for two and a half years. And actually growing up. We're not that far from, from cube rabbit. And the women from Cooper used to come in the communities every year to pick raspberries. And you can remember that. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And they brought the kids and my mom really liked having them come. She said, You know, we have other fingers gum and we always have to go over the patch afterwards to get what they've missed. But when the native people come, they pick everything. Because the little kids go underneath the bushes and pick up the berries that you don't normally see. And the women didn't come into the house for tea. They preferred to empty outside. So they would spread a blanket on the ground and mum would bring out tea and scones and jam and juice for the kids and yeah, have their tea outside. Yeah. So she had mostly they, they kept a lot of them either didn't speak English or didn't want to speak English. And so they they kept pretty much to themselves. There was one woman
Unknown Speaker 44:22
whose name was Mrs. Race. And I think she came from read that she were quite friendly. And I've met her son her grandson I guess lives in Saanich. Yeah.
Speaker 2 44:44
And one time when they were coming, it was during the Second World War and they air force us to practice flight over drink Valley channel and One of the planes crashed into the water and sink. And Mrs. Rice enters and who is about nine or 10 years old. We're close to where it went in. And the boys said, Let's go and see if anybody, you know, comes up and she was afraid to at first, but he was quite insistent. And so they went. And two people surfaced. And of course they were in a canoe they couldn't get them into the canoe, but they told them to shore and she came Mrs. Rice and the boy came to replace and don't mess and so we went in our larger boat. It was one of the wait shall beaches, you know, the North. And what is a airman was still there and the wind had started walking out to drink, get help. And how old was seven or eight tickets
Unknown Speaker 46:29
Speaker 2 46:33
the woods another crash that happened near for work. And I think those when it's had parachuted he'd been pretty, pretty close. Pretty close to the water by the time he got out of the plane. Parachute didn't work too well, as it was like getting concrete. Yeah. But he survived. Yeah, it was. It was a different time. But it was interesting to meet the Grant said just two or three years ago digital
Speaker 1 47:12
Yeah. Yeah. So he heard the stories.
Speaker 2 47:16
Oh, yeah. Yeah. And Sam, who lived with us? We met at church by our Lord in Victoria, which was it said the quarter Blanchard in Humboldt. And was Sir James Douglas, just church. Its reformed Episcopal was split with the American church in England, as they thought they were in Princeton television came out and decided they were doing everything wrong. And so they they split. But Sam, we used to be in Victoria. On Tuesday, because we were still seeing my husband sent had nice bass voice and weights and with Victoria Grace society. They had their rehearsal on Tuesday night. And my mother in law was in rose manor in Victoria, because anyway, we stayed at the church Bank, which was close to her and went to church or Lord for there at nine o'clock Wednesday morning. Service, which was also a healing service. And this native developments there. And as we were leaving, we asked him if he'd had breakfast, because we used to come over. We used to come before to the church service before breakfast, and know he had breakfast. So we invited him to join us at a hotel, just down the street. So while we were having breakfast, he we found out that he was homeless, he been sleeping. This is January, wrapped in newspapers and garbage bags and the hitch beside St. Ann's Academy, which is just across the road. And so I brought him home and he was originally from Whitehorse, and he had been In one of the worst residential schools in Carcross. And yeah, it was quite an education, having sat with us, how long did he stay? He was with us off and on for two and a half years. And, and unfortunately, and this is really upsetting because I think it hasn't changed very much. The the police never saw him as anything, but a drunken street person. No, Cathy rent or gave him a job was eminent enhancement. And he loved it. He used to get up at six o'clock in the morning and make his breakfast and make his lunch and fill us their most with coffee and walk to the hatchery on dirt road. They're crucial Greek. Well, he that was in instances, but he'd gone to Victoria. He had a he had he had an account with a credit union on Salt Spring. He was a very faithful employee. He was exempted in our community, but he got into Victoria and was near a liquor store. And I'm not quite sure where in Victoria, and there had been some native people who have been panhandling there. And the owners of the record stores. People in the liquor store had called the police. Well, he showed up at the wrong time, because people have been panhandling to God, and he's the only native there. And so they grabbed him and they had a dog and they let the dog attack him. And he was bitten. His clothes were torn. I mean, he had new jeans and jean jacket. And again, it was winter so he's wearing long underwear. The dog that right through that. Those dogs aren't supposed to do that. They're supposed to hold a person and it had fitness back at a fitness knee and near his groin. Another policeman came up put a stop to it. Sam was charged with assault, because he had been dragged to defend himself from the dog, who is apparently a police officer. So he was charged with it assaulting a police officer.
Unknown Speaker 53:13
Just walking by Yeah.
Speaker 2 53:17
He eventually died of an overdose. They would not leave them alone. We went to court with him. They he had a court appointed lawyer who did nothing, nothing. They said Raymond Sam, no fixed address. He had a fixed address. He had he had a bank account. He had a job. He was a respected person in the community. That lot You said nothing. Nothing. They were gonna put him in jail for three months we went and pleaded for they released him. But we were then supposed to watch him is not to go up the island for three minutes. When he finally did go through eight months is up and he went over to germaneness and he wants to get some he was talking to some of the carver's So Eric wanted to get some soapstone and he didn't have enough money. And he went to the credit union there and wanted to get some money but he didn't have a bank book with and they didn't believe him that he had an account and they called the police and the police picked him up again. And he went to Vancouver it took it off for those who don't straight you know, this whole thing with Native people is just so Bad. It is so bad
Speaker 2 55:09
Yeah, I bet his family my son, my youngest son worked in Whitehorse for a year, or for summer. And that's where Sam's family was. And so he was able to fight them. And we went up there, and I'm at his mouth. And, and some of his, his niece and nephew, and, and so on. This was 87. But they thanked us for giving him respect and honor. Yeah. Which was generous of them. You know, I wish we could have protected him from that. He was an artist. He wrote beautiful poems, which I didn't find him after he was dead. And I read through his pictures and the students. But no, I was, I kept his artwork, because I probably could have marketed it, and given them the money. But I didn't think
Speaker 1 56:33
you had a pretty rough road to hoe at times two, you were left alone with five children at one point?
Speaker 2 56:38
That's right. Yeah, must have been hard. 33. And the oldest was 11. That was, and I had left nurses training, do marry my first husband. And it's funny, just a couple of weeks before he died, which was totally unexpected. He said, Did you ever think of going back into nurses training and can't you remember and, and I said, Well, I really hadn't thought about it. Then he said, Well, I don't really think you should think about it. And it was actually just two or three weeks after that, he went on a hunting trip with a friend and a massive heart attack. So I went in trading at St. Joseph's. So I went to see the sisters. And they said, You can arrange for Well, I went to work as a practical nurse, which boards practical nurse, which at that time, was not enough to support my family and Ahrens income was it we had no debt. We paid off our mortgage. And we don't owe any money. Which is nice that you hear from evil nowadays, but anyway, guess we've got it. That was that we got was what might be described as a carpenter special. And my husband it fixed it up. And the mortgage was equivalent to what we've been paying in rent. And so it actually had been paid off that year. Anyway, the nuns were very helpful. And they said, if you can arrange for the proper care for children, we will work out a program for you. Because I'd known it there for 12 years. And we're trying to program for you so that you can complete your journey and get your answer. And they and they did it. I had to everything I tried to arrange didn't work. And I finally was going to give up on it. And just knew that that I didn't know. I could put my children in the care of France as borders. The boys in one form and the girls in another and I wasn't good at do that. But I just felt I absolutely had to. And so that happened for a year. It took two years to get my hair and the landscape in December off to be with my kids. And so it was just one year that children were in a boarding situation. And then I got them back. And and so we've managed that way. But I've been able, for the first year to rent my house, to the daughter of a neighbor, who's who had a baby and whose husband was weightless diamond. So she house and she looked after my dog and cat, and chickens and goats and chickens there. And yeah, so things worked out. And I got my art in. And within a year was remarried to Syd, who was a widower with four children. So between this we know, and we had one more. Yeah, so he's now 36. And works with the government in Ottawa where it's written history Canada, that he's a lawyer. And I just had a delightful holiday date with him and his wife and three year old in Hawaii for nine days. Yes, yeah. Yeah, life has been interesting.
Speaker 1 1:01:36
I would say. So, you know, I can't think of the number of homes I've been in where I've seen paintings on the wall. If you look really closely in the left hand corner, it says Nancy Wigan, and how many people give any idea how many how many places your paintings have gotten? This house has three of them that I know of?
Speaker 2 1:01:50
Well, it's, it's amazing. And I, I've photographed a lot of them, but not all of them. I have photographs, about half of them. And I'm really quite surprised that there's actually that many. Yeah. And
Speaker 1 1:02:08
they're all very salt screaming the ones I've seen, literally couldn't have been anywhere else.
Speaker 2 1:02:13
Most of them were flowers for gardens. Yes. Yeah. Which, and fainting for me is like a meditation. It's yeah, that's the best word. Really. It's, it's a connection with creation. It's a connection with the infinite.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:40
Do you find that time to stand still, when you're doing?
Unknown Speaker 1:02:44
I don't even think about its total focus. Which I guess meditation is
Speaker 1 1:02:56
where you spent most of your life on Saltspring? Almost almost all of it. Do you ever think you might have missed something that maybe you would have had some other different kind of life? If you did, you'd grown up in Toronto or New York or Paris?
Speaker 2 1:03:09
Italy? Yes. I'm very thankful for I'm very thankful for the life I've had. It's been very diverse. I'm thankful for having being what the world calls poor. Because Because it isn't nearly nearly as scary as most people think it is. You know, growing up during the Depression, you get one pair of shoes a year. They're too big when you get them they're too small before the next ones come. And one year is a great treat. I got some little canvas running shoes, which probably cost 25 cents at the time from Eaton and I left them on the beach and the tide came in and took them and I found one and I never found the other. They were the only Canvas forget they were little Mary Jane's color blue. And, you know, all of these things give you so much of a depth of understanding. I mean you know, if I didn't have these experiences, there's so much in life I would not understand and I'm It's just things like when the man gets in the chicken house and kills all your chickens. You just gotta get your act together and start again. You know, when the deer comes into the garden and trashes your tomato patch, just before the fruit was right, you just got to start again. There's not, you know, there's no insurance. And for most people in the world, there's no insurance. It's just, you deal with what happens. And I think I feel really sorry for young people who doubt who, for whom life is so different, can't always enjoy understanding isn't there? And that a young young person would commit suicide because they're bullied. And I think, but you're a child of God. You know, your father created the universe? How could you kill yourself? But they don't know. There's no spiritual content in education. Now. We used to say the Lord's prayer every morning, our Father, we're all part of the family. It's not there. For them. It's not there. And that's really it's such a huge dimension missing. How do you fill up the spiritual part of your life? If if there's nothing that is given to you? Nothing's done. Nothing share it? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:06
Are you optimistic about the future?
Speaker 2 1:07:11
I don't know. I never thought about it that way. It's changing. It's changing very quickly. I think I'm optimistic in the sense of what I was telling you that that I've experienced so many things in life, and such a diversity from from poverty to privilege, and that that provides an incredible amount of real insurance and strength. I remember thinking at some time, in my teens, that you could put me down anywhere in the world. And I know how to go
Speaker 2 1:08:14
and just because it the diversity of experience that I've had. So whatever happens
Unknown Speaker 1:08:26
Thank you. We couldn't handle
Unknown Speaker 1:08:28
well. Oh, do my best.
Unknown Speaker 1:08:33
Thank you for talking with us today.
Unknown Speaker 1:08:35
Yeah, no, thank you for the opportunity. Let's see we can