Memories, friendships revived by visit to islands

  • Dec. 12, 2007 11:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Among the thousands of tourists who visited the Charlottes this summer was a quartet of former residents, who revived memories and friendships from when they had lived here 50 years ago. Ron Woolgar and Bob Hobson were young police officers just starting their careers with the RCMP when they were posted to the Queen Charlotte detachment in the late 1950s with their wives. They both went on to successful careers. Woolgar became an RCMP firearms instructor, won shooting titles in Saskatchewan and BC, and eventually became a national coach. He ended up working for the Ministry of the Attorney General in Victoria before retiring. Hobson spent his career at detachments throughout BC, including five years working for BC Premier Bill Bennett. Their posting in Queen Charlotte was one they remembered with fondness, and exactly 50 years later the two couples came here for a holiday. They spent four days on the islands, visiting old friends, checking out the new police detachment, and marvelling over what has changed and not changed about island life. Const. Hobson particularly remembered a journey to Slatechuck Mountain with Skidegate carver Rufus Moody and Dempsey Collinson. Mr. Moody told him he was the first white person ever allowed in the area. After a tortuous trek, the group spent several hours prying slate out of the ground, then each person’s pack was loaded for the return journey – Mr. Moody and Const. Hobson each carrying 94 pounds of argillite and Mr. Collinson an astounding 140 pounds. Const. Woolgar remembered arriving in Queen Charlotte with his wife Gaylene (the couple had just married a couple of months earlier) and their little Chihuahua, Cheeko. He said the community, which liked having the police detachment guarded by a chihuahua better than his predecessor’s German shepherd, enthusiastically welcomed them. Life was rustic, but they enjoyed their stay. Along with police duties, the Charlotte detachment acted as a sub-office of the Prince Rupert government agent, registering births, deaths and marriages, giving out fishing and hunting licences, and registering vehicles. One of the highlights of life here for the busy police officers was regular fishing trips to Tlell. “For a prairie boy, that was special,” he recalled. Ron and Gaylene Woolgar decided to celebrate their 50th anniversary this year by traveling to the Charlottes with the Hobsons. “Our tour started at Skidegate on Sept. 8 and we departed Sept. 11, exactly 49 years after the birth of our daughter at Queen Charlotte hospital,” he said. “We enjoyed the Graham Island hospitality.”

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