Stan and Catherine Bridal (left) with children Lloyd, Chuck, Doreen, Earl, Lorne, Mervin. (unknown couple on right)

Port Albion travel to and life there 1944 – 1946

We started our trip to Ucluelet, Vancouver Island at the train station in Calgary carrying Mervin in arms, with many friends there to see us off. Mom had six kids in tow as dad had gone ahead and found work at a fish plant at Pt. Albion on the east side of Ucluelet harbour. Dad made arrangements to buy a house and land up in the back woods area almost bordering on a lake.

What I remember about the train ride was the dining room with the white table cloths and white napkins and all the cutlery. Which one to use? The waiter was very nice and said just use what one you would like.

After we got to Vancouver, we boarded a boat to Nanaimo. Don’t remember much about it. I think mom kept us all so close together that I don’t think we were allowed to go out and see the water. When we got to Nanaimo, we got on another train to Pt. Alberni. I especially remember the trip around Cameron Lake, going over the high trestles. Such an awesome view of the lake. At Port Alberni we boarded the Uchuck one where we travelled along the Alberni canal to Ucluelet harbour and Pt. Albion. Dad was there to meet us which mom was happy about. On one of dad’s letters, he had said the boat vibrated so much it would shake your brains out. One of the boys said this in a group someone said “If you had any to start with” Everyone had a good laugh. On one of our trips on the Uchuck the skipper let Chuck and I into the wheelhouse and let us steer the ship for a while and told us to keep it on a set spot on the compass. He went outside but I’m sure he kept an eye on us and where we were heading. What a thrill for landlubbers from Alberta.

Lind family; Clarice and Doris

The boat pulled into Port Albion on the east side of the harbour. On disembarking we walked along a long wooden walk where we came to Baldwins store on the right. Above the store the Lind family lived We went to school with their two daughters Clarice and Doris.

On a later occasion he took four of us kids on a trip in a boat to the head of the bay. We pulled into shore and hided the trail through the raid forest to Wickaninnish Bay [Wreck Bay] What a sight to see the big waves rolling in and the beautiful sandy beach. Never forget that sight. When we hiked back to the boat, we rowed back to Port Albion. On the way he pulled a fishing line behind the boat and pulled in a codfish.

Got sidetracked on our arrival at Port Albion. On the left as we walked along the wooden wharf was the fish plant. It processed herring and pilchard oil. Dad worked on the series of vats that took the raw squeezing and in the end of the process the oil came out clear like cod liver oil. The fish plant canned a lot of herring. What was left when the oil was rendered out went through a large revolving dryer and turned into fertilizer. It was put in sacks to be shipped off.

One shift was short of help and dad got me to go on the night shift one night. I couldn’t stay awake all night so the boys let me have a nap on some warm sacks of fishmeal.

Mr. Monroe

Past the store as you went up the hill on the left was the managers house, Mr. Monroe next house was his assistant. Further right was the men’s cookhouse. [Hans was the cook] Further on the hill was the women’s cookhouse. [forget the women’s name who was the cook] My first taste of clam chowder was at her cookhouse.

Nelson Duncan and wife Nina

Back down the as you turned right along the path was a floating house where I believe the machinist lived Nelson Duncan and wife Nina. Next along the road on the right was the Chinese cookhouse and bunkhouse were. To the right of this wharf was where Jimmy Tighe had his fishing boat tied up. Next to the right was Stan Doiron’s house. They invited us to their place one Sunday for our first taste of Jigg’s dinner.

Manuel Jonsen’s blacksmith shop

Past their place was Manuel Jonsen’s blacksmith shop [shipyard shop] to left was the shipyard. I found the shipyard a fascinating place.

The Brooks Bay it was a seiner built in 1944 at Port Albion. It was designed by Robert Allan and built by Nootka Bamfield Company. It was owned by Brooks Bay Packing Co. from 1944 to 1949.

When we lived there, they started building a seiner called The Brooks Bay. Every day we came to town for mail or groceries they let us look in on the progress of the work starting from the keel and on up. We saw lumber put into big steam boxes so they could be bent around to the shape they wanted. Eventually when it was built, they had a big party at the shipyard. Tables laden with every kind of goodies. Things we had never seen. Chuck and I bit into some olives for the first time. Have never touched one since. Then they launched it into the water and all the local kids were allowed to ride it into the water. What a thrill. After fully completed they took all the school kids on a trip over to Banfield where we enjoyed being by a nice beach there for a picnic.

Now back to the trail. Our trips to town always stopped into the blacksmith shop to visit with Manuel and enjoy his nice Norwegian accent. He was always so friendly. Further along the road on the right was where Manuel and Cora lived. She always had the coffee pot brewing on the stove.

Martin, Christie, Raymond Trelvik

Across the street I believe the Trelvik family lived. Their two children went to school with us, Christie and Raymond. Father was Martin, the son was Raymond, daughter was Christie, hope I got them right. Next on the road was a bridge across a stream at the end of the bridge to left was a bunkhouse.

Frank Doiron; Margaret and Lillian

As you went along the road [or path?] you came to a hill. We called it Doiron’s hill, Frank Doiron and his family lived there. They had a daughter Margaret that we went to school with. She had an older sister Lillian who married Bert Mack and ended up living over in Ucluelet. When first married they lived at the abandoned Japanese village at the mouth of the harbour.

George and Bert Hillier

As you travel up Doiron’s hill you come to a wooden raised up walkway off to the left. Apparently, it was put in through the woods so that people wouldn’t walk in front of a gun emplacement to protect the town during the war. Before we take this walkway as you go ahead on the road you come to Hilliers place on the right. Very friendly people. A son of theirs, I believe George had a very loud voice. When on the wharf you could hear him across the water. He had a brother Bert.

L to R Jimmy Tighe, Doreen Bridal, Stan Bridal, Marion Sundstrum from Alberni holding Mervin Bridal, in front Earl Bridal, Bob Soderland. Catherine Bridal,in front Lorne Bridal. Albert Jacobs.

Jimmy Tighe

To the left of their place was an old log cabin where Jimmy Tighe was living when we moved there. In front of it was a building which I believe was for ammo storage. Beyond this was what we called Hilliers Wharf. It was a government wharf. Chuck and I had a dugout canoe which we kept there and also dad had a rowboat which we kept there as well. As you passed the ammo building the road made a left turn on up to where the wooden walkway came out. As you made the left turn was a huge cedar on the left which was struck by lightning and was burned from top to bottom. On the same night lightning struck a house across the bay. It looked like Paul Bunyan took his big axe and chopped a big chunk out of the gable end of it.

Taking the road up past the walkway it made a big curve to the right and came to an intersection of another road which came from the water across from Hilliers wharf leading up to where we used to live. One night on this large curve in the road dad was coming home from nightshift, pitch black night, worn out battery in flashlight when two large eyes were right in front of him. He fumbled with the flashlight to get some light, it brightened and here was a large cow on the path. He said it left him shaken for a while even though he had to laugh.

Fred Whipp

At the intersection you take a left up what we called Whipp’s Hill. Here was Mom and dad with six kids in tow. Everyone tired, taking turns carrying Mervin. The younger ones cranky and whimpering, “Are we there yet?” At the top of the hill on the right was Fred Whipp’s place. He was a nice quiet man. I remember his talking to another British man and them recounting stories about serving in the India campaign, like bullets melting before they got to the target it was so hot. He had an old car under a carport, an old Model T or Model A It had been there for years. Someone bought it and they said that when they put gas in it and a battery it fired up right away.

Mr. Redhead

Across the road was where Mr. Redhead the policeman lived. He used to come up and get a goose from the field behind our place once in a while. Beyond his place was a house that Manuel and Cora lived after they left the company house in Pt. Albion. Further on this road was the old school on the right, which was opened after we arrived which gave enough kids to get a teacher brought in.

Outdoor Classroom

“Miss Pitt, our favourite teacher often took our classroom outdoors.” Far left George Boudreau, top Lloyd Bridal, Chuck Bridal, Group top girl. Front Christie Trelvik, Doreen Bridal, Doris Lind, Teacher Miss Pitt behind her Clarice Lind. Next to teacher Earl Bridal, front Raymond Trelvik,

The Port Albion School and Miss Beryl Pitt

Before we go on just some comments on the school. The first teacher was an older no- nonsense lady. I forgot her name. I don’t know if she retired or we all drove her crazy. Next, we had a beautiful young gal with long dark hair. She had a fiery temper at times but overall, she was a lot of fun. She could be easily talked into going for a hike in the woods, which everyone enjoyed.

The kids in the school from eldest down were—- my class: Lloyd Bridal, George Boudreau, Clarice Lind, Margaret Doiron, Chucks class: Charles Bridal, Doris Lind Doreen’s class: Doreen Bridal, not sure Patsy Ossinger, Trelvik boy and girl, Christie and Raymond, I believe. next down Earl Bridal, Lorne Bridal. Don’t know which class they were in. All were in the same room at the same time. Another name I was told was Trelvik. Will ask about them From Reg Jonsen.

Clarice was a tall blonde gal. Her sister Doris was a quiet very nice gal with often worn pigtails. George was a boy that stayed by himself. Wasn’t at school very long. Margaret was a very cute little vamp. Chuck and I were falling over ourselves to get her attention. If any of us called my brother Chuck he got upset. “My name is Charles.” But when Margaret called him Chuck the name stuck for good. When he fell and broke his wrist at Alberni, Marion Sundstrum looked down on him in bed and said, “Oh, poor Chuckie.” He looked up at her and said My name is Charles. The Trelvik girl had beautiful platinum type hair, her brother as well was fair. Patsy was a real cute little redhead. Chuck and Peg got to know her later at Prince George B.C.

Once a beautiful hummingbird got in the room. So exciting to hold it in hand and feel it’s fast-beating heart. Another time on the way to school we found a tiny owl on a branch of an apple tree. It sat on my finger on the walk to school. I put it on front of my desk and it sat there blinking all morning. Needless to say, not very many were paying attention to the teacher that morning. On the way home for lunch, we put it back in the apple tree and never saw it again. Once a bear came near the schoolyard and caused quite a stir.

Once the school over in Ucluelet challenged us to a baseball game. We thought we were pretty good. Clarice checked them out and said it was a ‘knockover’. There just a little bunch of kids. We put up a good fight but they clobbered us and sent us back with our tail between our legs.

Chuck and I each had a wheelbarrow and had to go to town often to bring home goat feed, get mail, groceries etc. When we got to Doiron’s Hill one day Miss Pitt and Margaret decided they would have a ride on our wheelbarrows. Off we went with Miss Pitt on the front of mine and Margaret on Chucks with a lot of screaming, down the hill on the run. Then who should we meet but 65-year-old Albert Jacobs coming up with his wheelbarrow coming home from delivering vegetables to the men’s and women’s cookhouse. Instantly he threw his barrow into the ditch and jumped into the ditch as well and let us go roaring by. He said he never saw the like in his.

We’ll come back to more school stories later but we have to travel on to where we would spend the next three years. Not far from the school on the right was a 7-acre place dad bought. In the front was a huge cedar hedge with a rose arbour you went through to get to the 2-bedroom house. Needed a lot of work. First job I remember helping dad with was putting new wood shingles on the back porch. Dad made a little 2-bunk bedroom for Chuck and myself out there. We rubbed our knuckles sore on scrub board to wash clothes, then dad got a gas fired washing machine to put in back porch.

The back yard was completely covered with huge blackberry bushes. We put planks on top to get to roots where we cut off with ax and grabbed end with gloves and pulled out and dragged away to burning pile. Then dad dug out roots and planted a garden.

Dad bought some goats and had to build a goathouse. I was amazed to see him cut rafters and install them. How did he know how to do that? Sylvanus was a big white dirty old Billy goat. One of the little milk goats I remember was Lindy-Lou. I remember the fun us kids had with the little goats [kids] Best playmates we could have had. They loved to wrestle with us. If you butted them, they would butt right back. We enjoyed taking them around the area to find the tastiest morsels they loved to eat. Only part we didn’t like was that Chuck and I had to milk eight goats before breakfast and after supper. Only way I could drink goat’s milk was if it was real cold. When milking we had to watch out for old Sylvanus who occasionally like to spray across the goathouse, and you had to duck behind the goat to avoid the spray.

I remember helping dad put new cedar shingles on the porch. He built a small bedroom inside with two bunk beds for Chuck and me. The woodshed was on the back end. Dad had some fishmeal fertilizer stored in there. One night we awoke to a bear scratching the door trying to get in. We heard him circling the house and woofing in frustration.

One Sunday we had an earthquake, the first we had ever experienced. I thought the house was solid but it was shaken around like it was so flimsy. We watched inside the back porch as the washing machine danced around inside. We had a corner book case in one corner of the living room. After it was over, all of the books were in the opposite side of the room. Earl and Lorne were up in some trees and they said they got quite a shaking. The chimney in one school collapsed, no one inside got hurt. Some people we knew were camping at Magee Lake. As they watched a spit of land disappeared into the water taking trees with it. Quite a sight to see tall trees disappear into the lake. We had heard on the news that the US was going to test a large bomb. We thought that maybe this was what had happened.

Dad used to get a goose or two from the field behind us. I remember when plucking them, if you squeezed them a certain way, they would honk like they do when flying.

Dad used to grow an extensive garden. I remember the blue jays being a real problem. They would uncover the potatoes and peck a hole in them and leave them.

Bob Soderland

On the right of our place was a lane that went to Bob Soderland’s place. He was an old Danish bachelor. In younger years his trade was glass blowing. He always kept up with the news and would give us a running commentary on the progress of the war. Beyond his place was a trail that went to the back side of the lake. Once we found an old shack made of hand split shakes. Everything had disintegrated except the shakes. All that was holding it up were the nails in the shakes and the bushes and trees around it. To the right of Bobs place this same trail went along the back of the school. At the start of it Chuck and I started to build a tree house in a tree with a large branch up about 15 feet. Years later we found a couple of the boards still there.

Albert Jacobs

As the road went up beyond our place you could see an area cleared of large trees off into the distance. We were told this the start of a proposed road to Port Alberni which was abandoned for the one later which is there now at the head of the bay past the old logging camp. By this old clearing a road headed to the right up to Albert Jacobs place by the lake. Before you got there you cross a wooden bridge across a stream where Albert got his drinking water. Beyond, you came to a raised flat plot of land above the lake. The lake was a Trumpeter swan sanctuary, as they were endangered with only a few left at the time. At the far end of the lake was a nice spot to get a few trout. Albert would keep track of the number of swans that would come to the lake each year and send the info to the protection society.

Albert Jacobs and his wife came over to Canada on the Carpathia from the Isle of Whyte. He told me that their ship was diverted to pick up survivors of the Titanic sinking. He had a son Charlie and a daughter Doris who married Tiny Meyers a troller fisherman’. When we got to know him, his wife had died and he was living alone. He worked on the road from Ucluelet to Tofino. He told of blasted stumps flying through the air. He told of standing on the point off Spring cove and seeing the Macquinna going by in a storm with the bow the keel at its centre and the propeller out of the water at the same time. He told me of the wreck of a sailing ship at Wreck Bay. He said the spar went up onto the cliff and people were climbing along it to get off and a huge wave came and shattered it and killed them.

Albert told me of submitting the local Nootka rose to Kew gardens. Years later when we visited Kew I enquired about the Nootka rose and they had the information which the lady sent to me after we got back.

Albert had a lovely place for a large garden. He grew a lot of vegetables which he would deliver to the two cookhouses. I would help him in his garden. He taught me how to properly dig a garden row and put the dead grass and weeds well under to rot and be fertilizer. I remember going with deliveries to the men’s cookhouse [Hans was the cook] He would give us tea and goodies. Next, we would drop off delivery to the women’s [ Forgot the nice lady who was the cook there] She would give us a nice lunch, one I remember, clam chowder, first time I ever had it.

I would help him cut his wood. We always stopped for tea at 4 o’clock. First time I learned to have tea He would pour his tea in a saucer and I would soon it. He called me Spooner Bill and I called him Saucer Joe. Before he died, I visited him in hospital in Port Alberni. When I entered his eyes lit up and he cried out “Bill”!!!! I told mom I was drinking tea now. She said “That’s fine but if you have it here you have to have it with no sugar cause I need all my sugar rations for canning.”

Albert Jacobs favorite flowers were gladiolas. He always had a beautiful bed of them in the front of his house.

He had a few apple trees. The bears would come and break branches which was upsetting to Albert. Once when we were walking the path he touched my arm and said “Mind my apples” There was a pile of bear scat on the path.

Reg and Howard Gilbanks

Retracing our steps back along the road down Whipp’s Hill you would turn left and head down the road to the Reserve. The first place on the right you would come to was Reg and Howard Gilbanks. They were troller fishermen. I spent two weeks one summer with them. I was supposed to be cook but I wasn’t too good at it as I was seasick most of the time. It was quite exciting seeing porpoises going back and forth under the boat. Seeing big salmon being pulled in was thrilling. Once during a quiet time, they went down for a nap I stayed on deck and was to call them if anything happened. The bell on the pole rang and I had the bright idea to pull in a fish. I gaffed it and tried to throw it over my head like the boys did but I got it overhead and it dropped on my head and by my feet, threshing around. I forgot to shut off the girdy, so I was having quite a time. Reg and Howard heard the commotion and came running and got things under control. What an experience.


Next on the right was Boudreau’s place. Their oldest was Dave and he worked as cook up at the logging camp at the head of the bay. Their younger son George went to school with us and was in same class as myself. Their house burned down and for a while Dave and George stayed at our place. Once Dave brought a quantity of chicken wings to our place from the camp and made a feast of curried chicken which we had never had before. Were they ever good!! He said the men wouldn’t eat them and they would just be thrown out.

Red Ossinger

Past our place on the left was Red Ossinger’s place. Their daughter Patsy went to school with all of us. My brother Chuck and his wife met her later at Prince George when she was married. The dad and Patsy had real red hair.

Fanny Touche

Beyond their place the road continued on to the Reserve. Mom got to know Fanny Touche who lived there. Bert Mack told us that she had moved, I forgot where. She would come and visit at our house occasionally.

Mike Sands

Past the Reserve was a small cove where a friendly man lived, Mike Sands. When we would visit, he would make us some lovely fluffy pancakes. We became good friends.

Bert and Doris Mack

Beyond Mike Sands place was the old Japanese village (Hakoda/Stewart Bay). Many houses along a nice stretch of beach. Bert and Doris Mack lived there when they first married. Mom would get me to take her in our canoe for a visit.

From here we would head across the mouth of the harbour where the big swells would be coming in. This would bring us to Spring cove. On the way across some native boys would speed by. It seemed that they wanted to swamp us. I learned how to turn the canoe and head into the waves so we could ride them out. Mom was so trusting and wouldn’t say anything. By Spring cove was the lighthouse and open Pacific. [known as the graveyard of the Pacific] This was where Albert saw the Maquinna going by in the storm.

Coming back along the west side of the harbour you would come to the larger town of Ucluelet. Further on past the wharves you would come to the remains of an old seaplane base. It had a large concrete ramp extending down into the water so the planes could come right up into the base.

Fritz Bonetti

Cecil Mack

Philip Mack

Reg Thornton

Beyond this was a small place of a few houses. The sign said “Skunk Hollow” Got to know a man there, Fritz Bonetti. Some from the same name are still in Ucluelet to my knowledge.

Going north from the fishplant on the east side of the harbour were two houses One was Cecil Mack and the other Philip Mack, good friends of my dad. Further up was the home of Reg Thornton’s place. Beyond was the head of the bay and the logging camp.

L to R Catherine Bridal, Neil Mclellan from Duncan, Mervin Bridal, Lloyd Bridal. Dot Mclellan. Tiny Meyers, Doreen Bridal. Albert Jacobs, Stan Bridal, Chuck Bridal, Earl Bridal, Fred Knott. Boys profile – attracted by antics of cute little brother.