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The Old Days – Irene Billy

Shuswap Woman and Child, circa 1930's

When the liquor stores and beer parlors were open to our people that is when we forgot lots of our culture and way of life.

Our people had orchards, gardens, and hay fields.

We seemed to throw everything away; everything we knew how to do.

Today you don’t see many people planting gardens or growing hay

Long time ago, everyone had hay fields, orchard, gardens. Some people had big tomato, potato, and carrot patches.

n the winter when the weather was cold, the grandfathers and grandmothers would give out the food to whoever needed it. Now people do not do that. That’s what the white people called “caring and sharing”.

We used to go to Bear Creek when I was small before I went to the residential school. We used to go to camp 4 and camp 5. We used to have a good time. There were lots of huckleberries, saskatoons, and wild raspberries. The people used to pick them and lay them out to dry. There were lots of people there; they came from the Okanagan, Cache Creek. They came on wagons.

Like I said, when they opened the liquor store to the Native people everyone the people forgot; like logging. They used to make dried meat. The orchards are in poor condition because no one works on them. They people starting drinking.


There were good times at the huckleberry picking camps and the logging camps. My father had lots of logging camps and pole camps. He had two to three logging and pole camps going.

I didn’t know what welfare was. In the 1950’s, I knew what welfare was. My children were small. I had 3 – 4 kids and I got $108.00 in welfare. But is like $1,000.00. It was enough as long as the babies had milk and diapers.

Camp 4 at Bear Creek had lots of huckleberries. My father and others used to work the berry patch; thinning them out. It has been a long time since people went there to pick huckleberries; about 60 years ago. For 10 years I have been asking the Council to work on the huckleberry patch. I told them to make a forest fire to burn the berry patch. I want to go back there once more. The bushes are all overgrown and you cannot get in there.

Last summer there was a forest fire. In a few years, the berries will grow again. I told the forestry workers I want to go there. I told them to come and get me and we will see where to make a road.

It was such a good time we had at the huckleberry patch.

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