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Survival in a Northern Wilderness: A Mother's Story--Part XXXIV

Friday, August 31, 1956 The International Falls Daily Journal article; KIELCZEWSKI FAMILY “PULLS ANCHOR” FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA.

As reported, moving day for the ten member Orrah Kielczewski family had it’s problems but the rugged residents of Rainy Lake took them all in stride. The Journal attested that it mattered not that they lived on remote Falls River sixty miles across Rainy Lake nor that their ultimate destination was Prince Rupert, British Columbia neither did they worry over the forty-seven foot steamboat nor the large cruiser they intended to take with them. Throw in the collection of traps, saws, household goods and other articles accumulated living on the Falls River since 1928. The steamboat built from native cedar built by the Kielczewski sons using a design drawn by their father proceeded under its own power to the Ontario Minnesota pulp yard where it was hoisted by a company crane onto a rail flatcar, the same procedure got the cruiser loaded on another flat car, rented barges transported the remaining belongings completely filling two additional box-cars.

The last hurdle was get the six sons and two daughters aboard the train whose ages ranged from twenty-six to four, unreported was that Violet was expecting her ninth child. The Journal opined that the family was accustomed to doing “unusual things the hard way”, that Mr. Kielczewski visited the area in 1913 and then went to Cross Lake, Manitoba where he married and he and his wife came all the way back back by dog team ending up at the Pipestone River where they established their home. A veteran hunter and trapper the Kielczewski brood lived off the land, what are they going to do in British Columbia? The Kielczewski’s face the same determination and in time they will decide what they will do after they reach their new home in Prince Albert.

Violet and family boarded the CN Rail passenger train about one o’clock on September First with 1200 pounds of baggage and it included feather robes, blankets, cooking utensils, camp stoves, emergency medical supplies, food, army tents and everything that they would need to survive. Orrah hugged his brother Paul and bid him goodbye wondering if they would ever see him again, with tears flowing down his cheeks Paul waved them on. As per Violet they traveled three days and four nights including changing trains in Winnipeg, an eight hour stop in Flinflon, Manitoba for the train to take on fuel, water and supplies, Violet responded that “the air and the sky is blue and the waters are green”.

Violet and troops arrived in the middle of the night their baggage put off at a little jerk-water station about nine miles out of Prince Rupert, they got out the feather robes and spread them out on the station’s floor for some much needed rest. They rented a flatbed to bring the hundreds of pounds of baggage and pitched the two big army tents about one mile outside Prince Rupert before they discovered that they could have a building to stay in on Digby Island, that is, if they fixed it up better than they found it. They remained in the tents until Orrah and the boys had the steamboat and the cruiser put in the water from off the flatbeds then they hired a barge to tow in what Violet called “their conglomeration of paraphernalia” across the harbor to Digby Island.

There was a nice stream of water flowing down the hill right past their campsite, area folks had been warning them that if they did not move the tide getting higher would wipe out the site. After they had been drinking the water and using it for cooking for several days someone told them it flowed right through the city’s graveyard. One morning Violet awoke to see that the tide had come up around the dog houses, they made haste to get out of there. The men finally got all their freight to Digby Island, Orrah Jr. went back to rescue the doghouses but they had floated away with the high tide. The whole family moved into a little two room cabin that badly needed cleaning up, they set up the portable cook stove, brought in a table and chairs along with a folding cot and put the piano in the other room, there was no more room for anything else.

Violet echoed what they were all probably feeling after all the room they had left on the Falls River, “it sure was crowded!”

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