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On Tour

April 14, 2009

Home Town Revisited
Posted by Margaret Horsfield

Margaret Horsfield

Walking around Terrace, I am looking for signs of the town I knew when I grew up here.  I lived here throughout the 1960s, went to elementary and high school here.  The elementary school, the house we lived in, the church we went to….all gone. I went looking, hoping to see signs, landmarks, traces, but I found few, indeed none. I felt lost.

But the mountains have not changed.  And the Skeena runs wide and gray-green, just as I remember, and the old bridge curves over it—the same bridge I bicycled across,over forty years ago, as logging trucks thundered towards me in a cloud of dust—for the roads were not paved then.

I look at the main street, we are staying right on it, and try to see again those May 24 parades, when logging trucks, shining and new, in great numbers, lined the street, part of the parade, passing by us, proudly and noisily, one after another. This was a town where the loggers were kings.

I am not sure that the Terrace I remember exists any more, but I know that the high school I went to still exists.  Caledonia Senior High!  I was there, on its opening day, part of the first Grade Eleven class, in 1969.
And I will be there tomorrow, talking to students about my book, about writing, about valuing local history, about keeping and opreserving the letters and diaries of our grandparents and great grandparents. 

Probably here in Terrace, as elsewhere throughout BC and Canada, people have, in their attics, or in suitcases, or in long forgotten boxes in their basements, the personal letters, diaries, documents that truly reveal the history of this place.  I am convinced that through personal story, through colourful glimpses of everyday life, we begin to understand our past.

So I will share a few letters, from my book, with the students, and I will ask them if they have anything like that within their own families.  And because I have built my book largely on collections of ordinary correspondence, on grocery orders, and gossip, and information about local transport….. and because I believe such sources are hugely undervalued, I hope to be able to convince at least a few students at the school that the stuff of everyday life,sometimes seeming so trivial, can indeed be the truest, the most real,  bones of our history, and can provide the first step in understanding who we are and where we came from. 

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