Marianne Van Osch (Patrick Davies, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

Marianne Van Osch (Patrick Davies, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

In the old days, they did what had to be done

Marianne Van Osch’s weekly column

Sept. 27 was a warm, golden day with a deep blue sky. It was a perfect day to say goodbye to Stella, known as Tink, Rosenau who had enjoyed the beauties of nature and who had spent a lifetime working outdoors, well into her 98th year.

On April 19, 1925, Everett Greenlee, his wife Opal, their daughters Edna, Bessie (Beck), Vivian (Toody) and Tink arrived in 100 Mile House in a covered wagon after a perilous journey on icy roads from Washington. The family made their way to Canim Lake and by barge to their homestead.

Like her sisters, Tink’s life was one of hard work. “The first thing I can remember is skidding rail fences with a horse,” she said. “I was six. We were expected to work right along with our father.”

For many years there was no road along the north side of Canim Lake. When Greenlee petitioned the government to build one, his request was denied. He decided that he and Tink would do it themselves.

“My dad built a fresno, a large scoop, from some heavy boards. It had long handles to dump the dirt with. I drove the team and he worked the fresno. We cut side hills by making a furrow for the horses and moving the dirt over to the drop a bit at a time.”

Tink and her father built the road as far as the pullout above the lake where the view opens up toward the Cariboo mountains. The large cut bank they dug is still there, across from the pullout. Small sections of their original road can be seen along the main road.

As the girls grew older, Edna helped her mother with household chores. Beck, Toody and Tink went to work in the bush. Toody said that they had been working like men for years so getting into logging was natural. She became the first woman horse logger in the Interior, working for the Jens brothers.

At first, all sawing was done with crosscut saws. Then George Kellett, who owned the Canim Lake Store, bought a great new invention, a chainsaw. It was a big and very heavy two-man saw. Everyone knew it would change logging forever. Toody was soon working with one.

Beck drove a lumber truck long before any other woman and had a reputation as the best driver around. She was also known as an expert with a forklift, often loading her own truck at the mill. She later worked as a much-respected school bus driver until her retirement.

Tink became a logging truck driver. “I could do the whole operation by myself. I’d take my saw, drop the trees where I wanted them, limb them and haul them to the landing. Then I’d use a bulldozer to load them on the truck. I’d take a load to the mill and go back and get another load ready for the morning. She was proud of the fact that she repaired all of her own machinery and was a “darn good welder.”

Tink also operated her own well drilling rig, using dynamite to break up rocks that were in the way. Many years later she said that several of her wells were still operating because she took the time to set a screen in each well to catch debris.

Eventually, she earned a pilot’s licence and bought her own plane. She described what happened one very cold winter day: “I was flying down near 70 Mile and it was getting dark. I knew I couldn’t make it home so I landed on this frozen lake, skidded across the lake, hiked out in the dark through deep snow, and thumbed a ride home.”

Tink lived with Toody for the last few years. The last photo in the book Along the Clearwater Trail shows them on a woodcutting day in 2014. Tink would cut the wood with a chainsaw and Toody would roll it to the pile with her canes. They’d load it and haul it home in their old truck. Tink was 91, Toody 94.

They just did whatever had to be done.

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