This all started because of a family Vacation Summer 1982 with my Dad, Mom, little brother. I am 20 at the time.
- Campbell River
- Port Hardy
- Prince Rupert
- Burns Lake
- Fort St. James
- Prince George
- Williams Lake
- 108 Ranch
- 100 Mile House
- Cache Creek
On a visit to South Hazelton on August 23 1982, we met William (Bill) Rea, age 75. I think the family and I had parked the car and gone to a cafe. When we were walking back to the car, we stopped to admire a quaint little house decorated with leprechaun paintings and its yard filled with treasures. My brother and I may have come across a little white kitten:
That’s when Bill stepped out and started up a conversation. We chatted with Bill for a long time.
He gave us vegetables from his garden.
He ended up suggesting that I move in with him and if I did, he’d buy me a “new” (i.e. refurbished) washing machine! My mom commented later on how beautiful Bill’s skin was (“like a peach”).
Bill was a local treasure and he would dress up annually as St. Kevin and walk about the town.
I am so thankful for my Dad who captured the visit.
Bill and I began a correspondence and these are some of his charming letters:
December 16, 1983:
Dear Miss Katarina
So nice to have got your letter for last Xmas, 1982. Did you guess who sent you the flowers from the 14th Feb last with a note from faraway places, over the HILL? I am sending you the same plus some interest on what you sent me last Xmas. I hope to hear or see you sometime, next year, or the next.
I sure had a nice day on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe one day you would like to be St. Alena and come around with me, and have a grand day out to visit my friends.
Will as ever, Bill
I sure hope you like my story:
Extra little envelope inside:
To St. Alena From You Know Who (St. Kevin):
Last year I pulled a piece of bone out of my foot with my Vice Grips. It was in my foot for 11 weeks and 4 days. What pain for all that time. Also, I sent a lady flowers and a pot of gold (chocolates) for her return overseas.
February 7, 1984:
I am sure glad you still remember me! I have lots of stories to tell you, but I am not much good at putting them on paper. I like to tell them to others, so I guess you will have more fun out of the them one day when we meet. I was in Smithers 2-2-84 to do my banking etc. I went into the Florists to send you some flowers. I could not make up my mind what kind you would like for Valentine’s Day so I thought to myself, Katarina won’t mind if I send her the cash, so I got you a cheque at the Royal Bank so you can go with your mom to the florists and pick out some kind of plant you would like and maybe there will be something over and you two can have a pot of TEA on me, sure, that would be nice. I gave your love to our cat and the cat said to me, “don’t forget to send Katarina our love, Bill.”
So, with lots of love from the two of us up here
As ever, Bill
In a few weeks when you get time let me know what you got for Valentine’s Day. Oh yes, give my love to the Deer. She is beautiful.
Bye for now, Bill
I enclose some mint. Sure is nice.
April 12, 1984
I am sure glad that my Valentine’s present made you feel much better? If you and your mom and friends call on me in May or some other time, try to let me know ahead of time and about the day. I have no time for a phone in my cabin. I may be away working on one of my other houses or in Smithers or Terrace and would not wish to miss you.
I am sending you a Birthday Present. It is not a lot, but I think you will like it? I have a feeling you will. If you folks have a day or two you would like to spend around the Hazeltons, there is quiet motel, and trailer, camper and camping, lots of room, or if you are camping there is lots of room down by the river, quiet as you wish. Why the hotel is so quiet, they moved Highway 16 over now the folks there can’t sell the place. What a shame. Nice place. I will foot the BILL in full for the FOUR of you up to two days or 48 hours, wherever you stay, if you have time to spare.
So St. Alena can put it down to the other part of her birthday present, that might give you a chance to do a painting. Sorry, can’t go into more about your letter now. We can talk later. I will be going to Smithers within the hour. The time is 6AM now. Why I am always on the go I don’t know, and don’t seem to get much done.
David Livingstone. Have you read about the great Doctor Livingstone? Born 1813. Near Glasgow, Scotland. He nearly failed his final examination through his stubborn belief in the stethoscope, a new invention, then held in contempt by most medical men. But he scraped through. Well, I must get cracking or you won’t get your birthday present, my sweet.
By the way, I call the kitten, Kitty.
So lots of love from St. Kevin and Kitty.
PS. I put your paintings over the arch in my Rest Room. Bye for now, Bill,
PSS. I have friends 10 miles out of New Hazelton and they have their own private plane and they are home. Plus if you have time, they will take you up and show you around. Looks wonderful with all the lakes.
Bye now. B.
November 4, 1984:
My Dearest little friend
Many thanks for all your good NEWS.
Will be nice for you when you have your own home, family, and car. I enclose a small present for you so you can have some nice tea when you have a party or shower. You know the tea you like, Earl Grey Tea.
I’m going to upgrade where I live in New Hazelton, then if all goes well, I am going to work on my new house in South Hazelton so when you are up this way again and if you want to find me, ask at the Post Office in SOUTH Hazelton. My place in South Hazelton has 7 acres of land and sits outside of town facing west-north on the side of the hill with view for miles only of great river, mountains and trees.
Lots of good wishes, from Bill Rea
Don’t forget to, when you get time, to SEND ME ALL YOUR NEWS.
I sent you two presents for when you got back from Stockholm on the 5 Aug 1984, one of flowers and the other one a Box of Rain Chocolates, or as it says on the Box, POT OF GOLD.
I was wondering if you got them as you always let me know when I send you presents. If you got them, don’t let me know as I will take it that you did. If you did NOT get the presents I sent to, let me know and I will try to find out who got them.
All the Best,
A good year to you all in 1985
From Faraway Places
DRINKS ON ME FOLKS
My nest in the West
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.
I send to my friends far away.
From the lights of my home in New Hazelton.
Do you like the lights on my Xmas tree? It was 3’8” when planted. Now 43’ something tall. I put lights on the tree when it was about 12’ tall and it just keeps taking them up. There is [sic] no lights within 12’ from the ground. Good thing they told me when I got them, they would last 100 YEARS for the branches are now so close together no one could climb up there to change the bulbs. All the lights go on and off in turn then they all go off for 2 minutes, then they all try to play some sort of guessing game to see who can come on first or stay on the longest, then after about 10 minutes of playing that game, they all go out, then start it all over again. The Big light in the front of my house is the shamrock. It has a game going on its own. It is nice and green, not like in the picture.
Well, I may see someone when walking one day?
From UP North
Home where in the west
I build a Little Nest,
A place that known to God alone.
We will be the nest of the world.