Bessie Banham 1900-1969
Bessie came to Powell River from Oregon City in October of 1911 with her parents Ferdinand and Marie Miller. Her father had been hired by the Powell River Company as Superintendent of the Electrical department.
Some of her earliest recollections were of jumping with exasperation over the high-line cables in the Townsite on the way to First Beach.
Bessie also attended the Patricia Theatre (1912-1928) behind the Rodmay Hotel.
Bessie worked for a time on the local telephone exchange.
The switchboard operator was a glorified office boy. She sat on a swivel chair with the switchboard behind her, the wicket to the right and a typewriter in front of her…
When the switchboard needed attention, it buzzed and, with a deft kick on the leg of her desk, she swivelled around to push the plug into the number indicated by a red light.
You were not asked for a number, just ‘the wharf’, the wife, or to find Tom, Dick or Harry.
On July 4, 1920 Bessie Miller married John Robert Banham.
Together they worked their pre-emption and raised their 3 children; daughters Jean and Judy, and son Jack.
Bessie also found time to co-found the Wildwood Welfare League in 1929 and served as secretary until 1933.
Bessie Banham became a prolific writer of stories from the past when she began writing for the Powell River News.
From her “Dances in the Early Days Were Primitive But Merry” which appeared in the December 29th 1948 issue of the Powell River News to “Powell River Pioneer Recalls Nursing Days” in the January 25th, 1965 edition Bessie wrote at least 111 Early-Day Stories.
Perhaps the most descriptive tribute to Bessie came from newspaper columnist Gerry Gray in the October 20, 1969 issue of the Powell River Town Crier. “She phoned me complaining that the game warden wouldn’t come up and shoot the bears that were raiding her orchard and breaking down her prize fruit trees.
In a crusty voice, that carried the edge of iron, tempered from many years of getting things done, she said ‘I’m just telling you that I’m going to shoot that damn bear and I don’t give a bloody hell if I have to go to jail for shooting within the municipality.’ “The next day I went up and sure enough there was a new bear skin hanging on the outhouse door.”
“ I have never owned anything that can produce more food for less money than a family cow, nor have I ever owned anything that gave me more work. "
Isabelle Dawson 1917-1982
So willing to find another hour to help any community undertaking that she is often referred to as Everybody’s Secretary.
Isabel, we need some help. Sure thing, what can I do? Well, it’s a pretty big job, and it’ll take a bit of time. Okay, if I can, I’ll do it for you. Aren’t you booked up now? Well, I am kind of busy, but that’s alright. What can I do for you? We’d like you to be Good Citizen this year. You’re kidding----me? I haven’t done that much. I’m breathless with excitement I don’t deserve it.
Reverend R.S. Leitch, a former Kelowna Good Citizen Committee member upon reading the highlights of Isabel’s service to the community commented: I have never seen anything like this before.
In 1966, Isabel Dawson ran for election in the B.C. riding of Mackenzie under the Social Credit banner of W.A.C. Bennett.
Starting out at daybreak, Isabel Dawson visited every major poll in the Mackenzie riding. Bella Coola Hagensborg Ocean Falls Gibsons Minstrel Island Texada Polls Powell River And the central peninsula.
Isabel recalls with a smile They blinked when I walked into Ocean Falls.
Isabel Dawson-Social Credit defeats incumbent Tony Gargrave of the NDP with over 52% of the popular vote.
In a clear and comprehensive manner, Isabel Dawson is a woman of proven ability and is untiring in her dedication to the betterment or conditions in general and peoples in particular, especially our senior citizens and others in need of assistance.
Premier Bennett announces the appointment of Mrs. Dawson as Minister without Portfolio.
The three ladies (Isabel Dawson, Patricia Jordan, Grace McCarthy) who have been appointed to the cabinet have been referred to as the kitchen cabinet, But you all know, especially you men, that many good things come out of a kitchen cabinet. Isabel Dawson, PRN, Jan. 12/67.
On December 11, 1972 Isabel Dawson’s political career ended when she was defeated by Don Lockstead of the NDP.
Isabel then enrolled as a student in the business division at Camosun College in Victoria.
Following her death in 1982 at the age of 64, the Camosun College Board of governors renamed the former home of the Greater Victoria school board.
Previously known as the Paul Building; the building which is part of Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus was renamed the Isabel Dawson Building.
At a Glance-Isabel Dawson
Born Isabel Pearl Saunders October 13, 1917 in Camrose, Alberta
Parents-John David and Ruth Minnie Saunders
Elementary School-Camrose, Alberta
Secondary School-Princeton, B.C. and Vancouver, B. C.
Canadian Women’s Army Corp.
Retired with a commission from Royal Canadian Engineers Transport Division.
Married Charles John Dawson (Jack)
One son, Johnnie.
Olive Devaud 1887-1969
Olive Wood was born in Sheldon Hall, Warwickshire, England in June of 1887. She began her nursing training in 1911 in the Royal Infirmary in Huddersfield and graduated as gold medalist-a single award given in Spartan days.
After graduating she acquired her Certificate of the Central Midwives Board.
During WW I she joined the Queen Alexander Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve and was posted to duty in the King George hospital in London.
In 1920 Nurse Wood followed her family to Ewing’s Landing in the Okanagan.
In 1922 she won a model T Ford in a raffle.
On Halloween night in 1926, she arrived in Powell River, ostensibly for a month’s relief work and never left.
For a period of time around 1928, she was a nurse in Powell River’s Isolation Hospital located in the vicinity of Cranberry Street and Dieppe Avenue on the road to Cranberry.
In 1932 Olive Wood married Alphonse Devaud. During the 20 years of their marriage they gave nearly all they possessed to Powell River.
They gave a 10 acre section of land in Westview for a hospital. However, the hospital was built on land overlooking the mill. After the death of her husband; Mrs. Devaud was persuaded to sub-divide the land, with the proceeds going to the hospital.
Six acres of this land went to the Sunset Homes for senior citizens for $1.00 and Olive contributed $6000.00 in cash towards the building.
During the building of Sunset Homes, the society bookkeeper often found his accounts thrown out of kilter by anonymous (read Olive Devaud) $500 credits suddenly showing in the bank account.
Similarly, many local people have found themselves saved from financial embarrassment through Mrs. Devaud’s generosity.
Olive Devaud also donated $1000 toward the building of the Moose Lodge after her husband donated the land and some money to start building. So it went with the Boy Scout building in the same area.
As a nurse in the Powell River General Hospital in the Townsite, it is highly likely most of Powell River’s locally born seniors received their first “slap on the rump” by this no nonsense nurse.
Olive Devaud At a Glance
Founder Member of the Royal College of Nursing and National College of Nurses in the U.K. Charter member of Women of The Moose President of the St. David Society, Powell River’s Good Citizen of 1952.
In 1965 she published a small volume of her verse “Odes by O.D.” Perhaps she wrote her own epitaph when she wrote: “Since she came to Powell River, the outlook clears, The place and the people are dearer yet, Most other years she will soon forget.”
Elsie Paul, Sliammon Elder 1931 - present
Elsie’s Great Grandfather was ‘Captain’ Timothy who spent several years as a guide on a survey ship around the islands of Georgia Strait.
At this time it was not known that Vancouver Island was indeed an island until Captain Timothy guided the exploration ships through the islands of Georgia Straight and to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
It is thought that it was during the performance of this work that Toma Timothy was given the name Captain Timothy.
When it came time for Captain Timothy to marry, his whereabouts were hunted down and he was taken to Cape Mudge to meet the girl his parents had arranged for him to marry.
Instead Captain Timothy expressed his interest in marrying her sister whose name was Ka`a xstales.
Elsie Timothy was born at Sliammon to Gilbert Francis and Lily Timothy. A few years earlier, a young girl (Elsie’s cousin) had died after her parents had been summoned from Sliammon to Sechelt to retrieve the sick girl. Elsie was named in her memory.
Elsie’s parents who already had 2 children and were about to relocate to Port Alberni were ill equipped to raise another child and so it came to be that Elsie’s Grandparents Jim and Molly Timothy, also of Sliammon, raised her.
Elsie had 10 siblings, William, Elizabeth, Irene, Rita, Mabel, Barney, Nancy, Doris, Doreen, Gilbert.
For the most part, Elsie kept out of the reaches of the residential school system. Her Grandfather towed their float house in and out of the coastal inlets-always one step ahead of the school officials.
Elsie was therefore subjected to only two years of residential school. She also attended school for two months each year when the family returned to Sliammon for the winter.
At the age of 16, Elsie was working in the fish plant at Redondo when suddenly the whole building shook. It was the great earthquake of June 23, 1946.
In 1948 Elsie Timothy married William Paul who transferred himself and his mother to Sliammon from Church House.
Married 27 years until William’s death in 1977, the Paul’s had 9 children. Glen Sharon Jane Jeannie Walter Ann Cathy Marlane Clifford
While the children were growing up, Elsie did various jobs from shucking oysters to housekeeping at the hospital.
In the 1950’s the day school at Sliammon began to deteriorate. Instead of sending her children to the new Assumption School Elsie opted to send her children to James Thomson Elementary School in Wildwood. From there the children went to Brooks Junior High School then on to Max Cameron Senior High School.
“I pushed my children to get an education,” she said, “and they have done well.”
Elsie did not ignore her own education. She continued to upgrade as an adult and achieved a grade 10 level.
In 1972 she was hired by Sliammon to run the administration of Social Development. She spent weekends at U.B.C. earning the credits for a certificate in Social Work.
Powell River Town Crier, September 18, 1989.Justice of the Peace Court Appointment Cheered
Speaking on the appointment of Elsie Paul as Justice of the Peace, Judge Shirley Giroday, who conducted the swearing in ceremony said,
“Elsie was our first choice for the appointment and we were very pleased she accepted.”
When Judge Shirley Giroday conducted the swearing in ceremony she said: “Elsie was our first choice for the appointment and we were very pleased she accepted.” PR Town Crier, September 18, 1989.
2008 is the 20th anniversary of the TsowTunLeLum (means “Helping House” in the Nanoose language). Elsie has served as a board member since this Healing Program began in Nanaimo.
For the past four years Elsie has been involved in Inter-tribal Health Programs on Quadra Island, as a Elder/Support Person for the participants.
Frequently called upon to open events and ceremonies in both the Sliammon and the wider community, Elsie has given the Welcome and Opening Prayer for the Kathaumixw Choral festivals for several years.