Friday, April 4, 2014

On The Road

An edited account of Dick Nevard's trip from B.C. to 14th Field Dressing Station, Wainright , Alberta.

Dear Bill:  Yes, I have arrived safely in Wainwright on May 30th (1944) and found your letter waiting for me. So Bud is back in England now! I wonder if he will be sent back to Canada soon?
Now I'll continue my journey. I think I got as far as Prince George in my last letter. We left P.G. on the 19th. It was dusty but I enjoyed it. Passed through Quesnel in the afternoon and followed the Fraser River. Crossed it at Prince George. I built kind of a shelter out of short straight saplings for the night.
The 19th and 20th we were passing through the famous Cariboo district which tourists like to travel along in peace time. The road curves and twists about in many directions so one is seeing an ever changing scene. It was interesting to hear the various comments the different fellows made. The boys from Ontario liked the mountain sides partly covered with evergreens with the river flowing past. That was lovely. The rest of it was no good in their estimation. I saw a groundhog. It looks like a gopher only bigger, about the size of a cat.
The second night I built a shelter and shingled it with cedar branches. It served the purpose for it kept the snow and rain off all but the top part of my blanket. Some of the fellows got soaked in the middle of the night and had to get up and collect wood to light a fire and dry their blankets. I never heard any of it but heard later that the air was warm from their language.
The 21st was a cooler day. The country side began to flatten out somewhat as we passed into the Kootenay. Sage brush country although it was still mountainous. There was a river running along the valley with willow and poplar trees growing along the banks. We went into the Indian village of Ashcroft to gas up. Then we went into a bull pasture to camp for the night. We set up the canvas tarp covering from the truck and 15 or 20 of us slept under that.
When we arose the next morning it was raining hard. I helped wash the pots at the field kitchen at meal times that day. We had dinner at Kamloops exhibition grounds. It rained most of the day but the tarps over the trucks kept us dry. We camped that night at Salmon Arm where we were in barracks. It rained most of the next day but we had a good time waving at the residents who lived along the roadside. (especially the girls)
At night we put the vehicles in Revelstoke park while we slept in the arena.
The 24th we traveled the longest distance covering 121 miles that day. We went around the big bend and when we nearly around we came upon a wrecker which had gone over the side into the Columbia River the day before. At the time we reached the scene it was being hauled up by another wrecker.
That night we slept in the back of the truck. The following night we got back to the CPR line again and camped at Golden. There was a dance in the Legion building that night. I guess the residents, musicians and girls were quite tired because that was the third night in a row they had been entertaining soldiers.
May 26th we had dinner just outside Field. All that morning we were gradually climbing until at dinner time we were up to the snow line. It looked rather odd to see green leaves coming out on the poplar trees and snow nearby. We could see a coal mine in a mountain side. We went through the Kicking Horse Pass and could look down into the canyon. As we neared Banff in the afternoon we could see mountain goats on the cliffs and crags, and elk down on the green slopes. We slept in the camp grounds at Banff that night where they have those tables with roofs over them. I slept on a table and rolled off during the night but did not hurt myself. In the evening I walked up town going without supper in camp in order to get more time to see Banff. I went to see the famous gardens that Edward North had sent me a picture of . Only a few flowers in bloom. There was a foot of snow there just a week before. Still the layout of the gardens and waterfalls was well worth seeing. I visited the fish ponds and saw fish in all stages of development. And Bow Falls and Banff Hotel.
The next morning we left the Rockies behind and entered the foothill country where Wilf Carter wrote some of his songs about. We drove through part of Calgary which looked quite pretty with green lawns and trees. The lilacs were in bloom. We camped about six miles outside Calgary that night much to the displeasure of some of the fellows. But they were pleased after supper when two or three trucks drove them down to Calgary. I did not go myself. Well at any rate it seemed more like home. The atmosphere seemed different somehow.
Well cheerio Bill
Your loving brother Dick.

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