Fishes and Wishes and Fruit: 1915 Diary of H. Colin Haddon
Press Release


Fishes and Wishes and Fruit: 1915 Diary of H. Colin Haddon, edited by Janet Schwieger, published by Gray Creek Historical Society, 2005.
190 pages, illustrated and indexed, $25 retail, plus postage where applicable.
At quality bookstores. To order, e-mail: gchistory@netidea.com; write: Gray Creek Historical Society, Box 4, Gray Creek, B.C., V0B 1S0; phone: (250) 227-9315

A new book from the Kootenays captures life 90 years ago on a small hard-working Kootenay Lake ranch and aboard an Arrow Lakes sternwheeler. Colin Haddon’s 1915-18 diary gives us a first ever eyewitness description of daily life, its joys and woes, on Kootenay and Arrow Lakes during the First World War.

The young Londoner-turned-Gray Creek rancher was blessed with an adventurous spirit, a flair for writing, and a buoyant, breezy wit which make his diary so captivating. Liberally sprinkled through the book are Colin’s charming little drawings and snatches of verse, together with six of Colin’s best stories on the Kootenays from the popular outdoor magazine, Rod and Gun in Canada. Maps, mini-profiles of people, places and events named in Colin’s diary, and an outline of his life and times by Colin’s nephew, Richard Haddon, round out the book.

“Oh! To be a rancher/In the giddy Kootenays/Where a fellow can be happy/In a thousand different ways./ For you say goodbye to sorrow,/ And you warble all your days/ If your dwelling is beside the creek/That’s named on maps as “Gray’s”.

In 1911 Hubert Collingwood (Colin) Haddon traded a comfortable life as the son of a London society portrait painter for ten acres of raw bush at Gray Creek, on Kootenay Lake’s East Shore. Long on hope and ambition if chronically short on cash, eighteen-year-old Colin settled into the hardscrabble life of a Kootenay small rancher. For extra cash, Colin worked on road-building crews on the East Shore, as a deckhand on the Arrow Lakes sternwheeler SS Rossland and on the tug and barge service on Kootenay Lake which ran between Procter, Riondel, and Lardo.

Colin’s remarkable diary journey, as it plays out in Fishes and Wishes and Fruit, trailed him through the heart of the Kootenay region. In the tiny, isolated settlement of Gray Creek (population 60), Colin turned his wilderness acres into a working ranch, trapped, hunted, and fished, and swapped labour with his new Gray Creek friends. In Rossland he was “a wage slave for a tyrant;” and in Nelson he hung out at the employment agency. His barge work covered the extent of Kootenay Lake, while on his Arrow Lakes run between Arrowhead and West Robson, Colin shoveled coal by the ton, winched the Rossland off sandbars, and encountered enemy alien detainees on their way to the internment camp at Edgewood.

Colin’s writings roam across the map of the heart also. We read in Fishes and Wishes and Fruit how he found companionship and a welcoming hand in Gray Creek; how he worked, shirked, and outsmarted his road crew boss; parted company with his “objectionable” Rossland mate; found and lost the love of his life; ranted about the “rotten” mail, the winters, and the war (“Gott Strafe Deutschland!”). Colin the comedian lightened his load with touches of self-parody in his diary; while his six Rod and Gun stories reveal a darker side, the keen eye of the naturalist, and a flair for high drama.

In 1920, Colin died in Kaslo, just nine years after his arrival in the Kootenays. But Colin’s memory was kept alive by his Gray Creek “family” – Arthur and Tom Lymbery and Janet Schwieger – and by his brother Geoffrey and nephew Richard Haddon back in England. Almost ninety years later, these two far flung families reconnected, and brought Colin’s Kootenay chronicle back to life in the book, Fishes and Wishes and Fruit: 1915 Diary of H. Colin Haddon.

Frances Roback
Gray Creek Historical Society
Box 93, Gray Creek, B C, V0B 1S0
(403) 268-4133; froback@glenbow.org

For more information on the Haddon book or for interviews, please contact the editor, Janet Schwieger, gchistory@netidea.com; (250) 227-9201; or
Tom Lymbery, lymbery@netidea.com; (250) 227-9315 or (250) 227-9448