The Voice of Experience: Story of a lifetime

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Margaret Berg participates in the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.

I was born in June 1920 in my grandmother’s house in Piapot, Sask. For as long as I can remember, Daddy was determined to move somewhere where the wind didn’t blow. Finally, in 1935, our old Model-T Ford truck was loaded up with everything we could carry. The last few pieces of farm equipment and our cows and horses were sold by auction.

Daddy rigged up the truck like a covered wagon and the five kids sat huddled on a Winnipeg couch for six days on the winter roads with no heat or windows. We stopped at Chinese hotels and arrived in Canyon, exhausted and covered in dog hair from our collie, Joe.

We were all pretty homesick and felt hemmed in by the mountains but we explored the valley and West Creston looked and smelled wonderful. It was love at first sight, a love that never grew cold.

Daddy bought 18 acres of bush and trees, and set about clearing the land and bringing out the logs with horses to start building our home. There was an empty one-roomed cabin, which we lived in until we could move into our own home six months later. West Creston people were a friendly, helpful bunch with house parties every weekend with music, dancing and card games. Art Hurry and Willie Jacks were our closest neighbours.

A garden and pasture were prepared, and a barn, chicken house and root cellar were built. As well as all the vegetables and fruit, we had hunting in season for game, fish from Corn Creek and eggs from our chickens and milk from our cows. Thanks to our mother, no one ever went away from the Gregg house without a good meal. It was always pleasant to come home and feel the richness and love that our parents had worked so hard to provide for us.

Incidentally, a recent generous bequest of $270,000 to the East Kootenay Foundation for Health was made by Dr. Donald and Dariel Korczynski, residents of our valley for over 20 years. I believe that this property, which could have been part of this legacy, was the very same piece of land that my father had cleared over seventy years ago. Our family is proud that the hard work of our father could have contributed to this wonderful gift, which will benefit our hospital for many years. Indeed, we owe all the pioneers who “blazed the trails” in difficult conditions a huge debt of gratitude.

My two brothers and two sisters could walk to school. But since I was 16 and no longer attended school, I learned to cook and later got a job cooking for the men constructing the dikes. After six months, I married the boss, Alf Berg, and we started our family.

As the years went by, the diked land we had lived on and farmed was eventually divided into sections. My husband and I decided that a house of our own on one section was what we wanted. After a few years of living there, sadly, Alf passed away.

We had been involved in many community projects and for a while I carried on. Then at the age of 50, I decided to go back to school, get my Grade 12 and then take a business course.

With these skills and my experience with animals on the farm, I was hired by Dr. David Perrin, a local veterinarian. I worked at his clinic for 15 very interesting years (see Dr. David’s books, where I appear regularly).

I retired at the age of 65, and at 85, the house and outside work was too much for one person, so now I live in Erickson Golden Manor in one of the 12 units that accommodate one person, very comfortable and suitable for my needs.

I keep very active and am grateful to the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, which I attend five days a week, meeting some wonderful people, having tasty lunches and keeping busy with their various projects. My general health is excellent and my recipe for a long life is, “Keep those feet and hands moving in our beautiful valley!”