Time of remembering,
Ruby May Vaupel
Good Afternoon, I am John, Ruby Vaupel’s eldest son.
“Well done Mom! At the age of 85, you predicated you would live to your 91styear and you did!”
Over time Mom recalled her life to us, as referenced in the book ONCE UPON A LIFETIME. It is of a Life well lived, a Mother’s Love, and her philosophies. Whom would have thought our Mother had a little Black Book? This is it! I will be quoting Mother’s words:
In 1926, Ruby May Woodhouse was born at the Victoria Hospital, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The first daughter of Rosa and Richard Woodhouse, she would mention of “being born the same year as the Queen!” Schooled at King George Public and Prince Albert Colligate High Schools. Of five siblings she considered herself the Tomboy!
Mom was extremely athletically inclined. At softball she played first base due to her height. While her long legs served her well for Track and Field, Basketball, and Volleyball. Ribbons and medals were won. She held a Midget Girl’s discus record. Eventually broken by a girl from Melfort, Saskatchewan, named Ferne Pitchford. Unbeknown then, Ferne went on to win the heart of Mom’s brother Gordon, becoming a Sister-in-Law and life long Friend.
Childhood memories of her Parents home, in Saskatchewan were many. The warmth of the wood stove and coal parlor heater could almost be felt when described. With no refrigeration, ice was delivered by horse and buggy.
After her schooling, the young Lady worked at a Laundromat in Prince Albert. Wages for working 5 ½ days per week being $9.50 she said.
Older brothers Jim and Gordon enlisted in the Canadian Military. At the age of 18 Mom went to Regina to enlist in the Canadian Women’s Army Corp. Basic training was in Kitchener Ontario, stenography and shorthand in Edmonton Alberta.
They were a patriotic Woodhouse trio. Mom in the Canadian Women’s Army Corp, brother Jim in the Royal Canadian Airforce and brother Gordon in the Royal Canadian Navy.
During this time Ruby developed a fixation with shoelaces. Once on inspection all that was noted was a shoelace not tied in the exact middle of the shoe. The incident remained entrenched in her brain. Stationed in B.C. at the Hotel Vancouver, the Private did general office and stenography work for Army personal. The Hotel also served as the barracks!
At the end of the War, the Prairie Girl headed back home to Prince Albert, working in the Burns Meat Packers office. Calls of the mountains and ocean were too much and she returned to Vancouver doing office work for Dominion Rubber Company. A fellow worker organized a Blind Date for Mom. Well, and I quote “Zing went the heart strings when I met my date, Jack Vaupel!” Our Father to be, was described as a Gentleman. Affectionately he called her Rube. Mom spoke of their Vancouver Wedding Day, May 21, 1949 as the best day of her life.
The Couple settled in Quesnel in 1950. Home was Gooks Cabins located behind the now Pinetree building. Dad built two cabins for Mr. Gook Sr. In return for his labour the newly weds were offered a cabin, rent free.
Mom described Quesnel, “As the best move I ever made.” She meant it, residing 67 years in the Community. Four children, Sister Dianne, Myself, Sister Pat, and Brother Garth completed the Family. That is until the arrivals of seven adored Grandchildren and six precious Great grandchildren. Each a delight to Nana, she would say to them, “Best kid in town, wouldn’t trade you for diamonds or gold.”
Dad built our first family home at 991 Moffat Ave. Which still stands to this day.
Our classic Mother of the 50/60’s was efficient with a wringer washer and said she enjoyed hanging clothes and diapers on the outdoor line. Extreme patience, an even temperament, and a sense of humor made for a happy household. Stories read to us, were with exuberance and excitement in her voice. I will not forget her lively rendition of the Gingerbread Man.
The two-bedroom house was getting crowded. Dad then built a bigger home at 1308 Moffatt Ave. where she resided, 50 years.
Great for kids, was a swamp and creek at the back of the property where we played. One job we had was to go ahead of the lawnmower that Mom ran and remove any garter snakes that may be in the way. For some reason in the early years there was an abundance of garter snakes around. She stated that she did not mind the snakes but it was always one of the kids that had to move them.
Mom had extraordinary good hearing. We where convinced she had eyes in the back of her head. Young at heart she spent a lot of time with us while Dad was at work.
Feeding and clothing us was a task, Mom was up to. The garden was always full of vegetables. We relished Sunday afternoon drives and berry picking. When we complained of picking low bush blue berries because they are so small Mom would say, “Just think how good these will taste come winter. Canned foods and preserves, did taste good then. Home made sauerkraut, topped the list, well maybe next to Matrimonial cake and Lemon squares.
Mom considered her proficient sewing skill as having being learned from her mother. This grip attests to the patterns used over the years. Knitting was self taught. She knit Indian Sweaters for all of us. If we did not like the pattern, Mom was known to pull it out and reknit it. This fisherman knit sweater is over 50 years old. With her humble sense of humor, she stitched a Hudson Bay logo on it. In her words No one would believe it was I that knit it.
As children we did not over run the house with pets but there was a good variety of them, that kept us entertained. When we were gone from home Mom had a Budgie Bird! I now quote directly from The Book. Of all the pets, Sandy our Cocker Spaniel dog was her favorite.
Mom, was active in the community. She taught Sunday School in the 60’s at St. Andrews United Church. From Girl Guides to Cubs, Cadets, School plays, baseball, hockey and wrestling, our extracurricular activities kept Mom on the go. She was a cheering fan of both Grandson’s Hockey. I am not sure she ever missed a game.
Ruby’s hats were many as a stay at home Mom while Dad worked. Her proudest hat was her Canadian Women’s Army Corp uniform Cap. Speaking of hats Mom had a rule when it came to the common courtesy of the Men and Boys in the family. That being hats were not to be worn at the kitchen table or in the house. How those words are remembered.
Mom enjoyed nature. Hiking to Mt. Agnus was a regular occurrence in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Many trips were multi day ones with side trips to Elk, Bald, Proserpine and Mt. Burdett. Winter didn’t stop them. Whomever was around, would join our Parents with their cross-country gear for fun in the mountains. On a May weekend, with clear blue skies, and a scorching sun, sun burns were a concern. Our sensible Mother dawned a wide brimmed hat, tied a bandana across the bridge of her nose and put on sunglasses. She looked like she was ready to rob the stagecoach into Barkerville!
Family accompanied Mom and Dad on their last trip to Mt. Agnus in August 2001. Lesson learned, Mom was walking a little slower then. When she and others arrived at the cabin, we were questioned, what we had seen on the way up? Apparently, there had been an abundance of wildlife along the trail.
Mom decided a return to the work force was in order. And yes, it was the outdoors that drew her to tree planting and cone picking for BCFS. Enjoyed were the ladies on the crew! While huckleberry picking in clear cuts Mom’s eyes were always on where and how the seedlings were planted and if they passed her planting inspection.
Our Mother was raised surrounded in a very talented musical Family. She could play the piano by ear and had a guitar. Her sweet singing voice could be heard with impromptu solos of Happy Birthday.
In preparation of a Woodhouse Family reunion, the creative writing side of Mom came out. An hilarious skit referred to the individual characteristics of each sibling. Props and all!
On Dad’s retirement, daily River Front walks were routine. Mom went along as time permitted. I was known to see them at Maple Park or West Park malls, the question would arise as to how they got there. The answer back was “We walked here for exercise!”
When the house work was done, Mom could be found doing crossword puzzles or reading. She was well read as you could tell by the book case. From poems of Robert Service, books by Farley Mowat, James Mitchener, Alexandr Solzenitsyn, Bird books and atlases, abounded.
Mother stated her most memorial birthday was the year she turned 65 and started receiving Canada Pension and Old Age Security. Her words “They are paying me to stay home.” Laughingly she said how she and her brother Kirby would live long enough to bankrupt the Canada Pension Plan. Well Mom, that was not to be but I am sure Kirby is game to give it a good try.
Mom had a tradition with two Lady Friends. They looked forward to celebrating their birthdays together with lunch downtown “No Husbands present.” This carried on for a number of years.
Support services in the Community, enabled our Mother to live at home on her own. When a room awaited at Dunrovin, her response was “I better get packing!” The transition was seamless. She was in a secure environment, enjoyed the company of others, and readily took part in activities. Monthly Veterans luncheons at the Legion were not missed.
Time was more than filled with visits from Therapy Animals, QJS Students One on One, the Flower Lady and Volunteers whom entertained the Residents. Mom’s dislikes in life were few. Cats in the garden beds was one though. That seemed to go by the way, side as she enjoyed the company of the Resident Cat.
Our family expresses sincere gratitude to the Staff at Dunrovin Park Lodge and Community Professionals whose care made for one very Happy Lady. Ruby truly enjoyed her residency at Dunrovin.
The last page of the little black book is
“Thoughts for My Family.”
“I could not ask for nicer children.
I wish them happiness and good health.
Don’t wish your life away.
Make do with what you have.
Don’t worry about what you can’t change.
Try to live by The Golden Rule.
Do unto Others as you would have them do unto you.
I would like to thank the Good Lord for my Family, my Health and Friends. I am truly blessed.”