Sam’s wife stuck in outhouse

Ed Nicholson of the Ladysmith Historical Society shares his Chronicles of the Past column, looking at the news from 1912, 1937 and 1962.

Sam and Bess Guthrie with their two sons.

Sam and Bess Guthrie with their two sons.

June 1912

Mr. Charles Harris, a popular member of the Allen Players, has decided to retire from the stage and engage in upholstering, making a specialty of rocking chairs. It is reported that Mr. Harris has considerable experience in this area.

The city of Ladysmith offered $3,000 in prizes for the Dominion Day sporting events to be held July 1. Prize money ranged from $2 for first place in the boys eight and under Foot Race to $55 for the winners of the Indian Canoe Race. Other competitions included Boxing in Barrels ($5), two-man Mop Fight ($6), Upset Canoe Race ($10), Greasy Pole Climb ($5) and the annual 100-yard Miner’s Dash — with the winner receiving a  gold watch donated by J.A. Hartley.

J.A. Hartley, a local jeweller and watchmaker, also offered a Waltham pocket watch as a “Dominion Day Special” in the window of his store. The 21-jewel watch came in a special case and was reduced by $1 each day until it sold.

June 1937

Just in time for summer, the Wigwam offered bricks of Palm chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream for 25 cents each. Revels, cones and caramel freezes were also available at five cents each. On the same page, Spencer’s offered “summer outfits for boys,” which included all-wool tweeds in dice checks ($5.95), grey flannel long trousers ($1.95) and white duck pants (98 cents).

The boys could then try out their new outfits on a one-day excursion to Vancouver to attend a soccer game between the Mainland All-Stars and Charlton F.C. Cost of the trip: 75 cents for children and $1.50 for adults!

Sam Guthrie was elected in the June 1 election as the MLA for Cowichan-Newcastle, representing the C.C.F. party. Guthrie, a miner originally from Scotland, had been actively involved in the 1913 mining strike in Ladysmith. He served a two-year sentence for his role in this labour conflict. After his release, Guthrie took up farming. He was first elected as the member for Newcastle in 1920, representing the Federated Labour Party. He ran for re-election but was defeated in 1924, 1928 and 1933 before succeeding again in 1937. (Note: Guthrie left politics in 1949 after three terms in office and retired to North Oyster, where he passed away in 1960 at the age of 75.)

June 1962

During the 1960s, Mrs. “Bess” Guthrie wrote a column for the Chronicle entitled Sam’s Wife. Here is an excerpt from her column of June 14, 1962 (edited for brevity):

When Sam was blasting stumps near the house, he covered the windows with boards and made sure the boys and I were in a safe location. One morning, he was going to try and blow a huge cedar stump — nine feet in diameter —  just a few feet away from the west side of the house.

Sam dug a hole and put in 50 sticks of stumping powder. Sam thought that this time, it would be safer for me to sit in the outhouse, which was about 20 feet away on the other side of the house from where he was blasting. I thought it was an unnecessary precaution, but I didn’t argue. I left the coffee bubbling on the stove and docilely went and sat in the outhouse.

Then there was a terrific roar, and large chunks of stump, roots and rocks flew high up in the air, some of it rattling down on the roof of the outhouse. Sam shouted for me to come out.

“How can I come out?” I yelled back. “There’s a piece of stump blocking the door!”

It had sailed over the house and although scraping some of the shingles off the outhouse, just missed it and was half-buried in front of the door.

“My God!” I heard Sam exclaim when he saw it. He tried hard but couldn’t move it, so he ran to the barn to get a peavey and managed to move it enough for me to get out.

“Oh, Bess, that was close,” he said as he sat down and with trembling hands, wiped the perspiration from his face.

“Now don’t look so woebegone,” I replied. “Nothing did happen, so let’s go and get that coffee if it hasn’t boiled out all over the stove.”

We may have been ignorant “hicks from the sticks,” but in respect to our brothers and sisters in the city, we knew when it was time to take a coffee break.

Compiled by Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith Historical Society

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read