After travelling to Powell River in 1968 to teach for what she thought was a year, a Yorkshire woman found a husband and a lifelong love of Sunshine Coast history.
Now over 45 years later and still in Powell River, writer Barbara Lambert has released her seventh local history book, entitled Homesteading and Stump Farming on the West Coast, 1880–1930.
“I was going to see the world,” said Barbara, “then I met a local farmer named Stuart Lambert.”
After marrying into one the Powell River area’s earliest homesteading families, Barbara said she soon found herself living on a farm and learning from her stepmother Gertie Lambert.
“They were living like it was the 1920s,” said Barbara. “They didn’t use much in the way of machinery.”
Learning to tend to and milk the goats, Barbara said she became a “real farmer” despite her urban Yorkshire upbringing.
Her late husband Stuart is pictured on the front cover of her new book. Nine-year-old Stuart is pictured squinting into the sun as he, infant brother Russell and parents Tom and Gertie pose for a photograph in front of their Paradise Valley farm.
“With this book I wanted to show what the homesteading life was like,” said Barbara. “It wasn’t glamourous; it was a lot of hard work.”
With knowledge and intimate details from personal letters, day diaries and interviews with homesteaders’ descendants, Lambert said she wanted to give readers an inside look at homesteading in the Powell River area, including Lund, Stillwater and a place she refers to as the “mysterious” Horseshoe Valley.
“One of my favourite places to write about was Horseshoe Valley,” she said. “It was some of the best farming land in the area.”
Located near Lois Lake, Horseshoe Valley was settled in 1916 and then subsequently lost after the land was flooded following the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the 1930s.
While farmers were bought out, the flooding brought to an end an era of farming in the Horseshoe Valley by the Gela, Duke, Stanley and Lamont families.
“I felt that I was very close to them,” she said. “I knew their daily activities and felt like I could almost walk through their front door and have a cup of tea.”
Lambert’s previously authored books cover topics as varied as the Great Depression, World War II and outhouses. Her new book is available at Breakwater Books.
Lambert will be doing a book signing 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, December 12, at the Magic of Christmas Craft Fair at Powell River Recreation Complex.