I love reminiscing about the wholesome way of life I experienced growing up in British Columbia on my parents’ trapline in the 1960s and ’70s. In this instalment of Trapline Tales, I’ll introduce an old trapper who played an important part in our lives, even though none of us even know who he was: Greasy Bill.
Our trapline was registered in my father’s name only, but rest assured it was every part my mother’s trapline too. Often she was a weekend widow throughout the winter months, but after I left home, both my parents spent many a day on the trapline, and great times they were.
So one November, Ma and Pa (as they called each other) headed for a trapper’s cabin located at the confluence of Grizzly Creek and Greasy Bill Creek to get ready for the season that was upon them. The cabins on Dad’s line were built in the 1940s by old-time trappers, this one by a trapper called Greasy Bill. I’m not sure why he got that nickname, but I can only imagine!
The cabins were small, built from large timbers of western red cedars and roofed by hand-split cedar shakes. They were low-rise structures typically fitted with one window, one door, a table or bench and two chairs, a bed, and a wood-burning stove. Flooring was made of wood planks, and a large overhang extended out the front of the porch to keep the firewood dry and to provide a place to hang furs while they were drying. Furs were also dried inside the cabins, but sometimes the ol’ wood stove would be pumping out so much heat the furs could dry too fast.
My father, Ed Kania, outside Greasy Bill’s cabin in 1968.
My father liked getting out in November for beaver trapping so he would have marten bait later in the season. For the beaver trapping, he would take the truck back out of Grizzly Creek and head up into the main valley of Koch Creek to a place called Camp Eleven, an old logging camp of the 1940s. Just down the road at Camp 10, which was the main logging camp, is where David Suzuki’s father almost lost his life in an avalanche. My father’s trapline has a lot of colourful history. You could never see any beaver activity from the upper road, but once you got down into the main creek, there was beaver logging everywhere.
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