Joyce Walker has completed hundreds of cross-stitch pieces. The walls of her place at Seniors’ Village are covered with some of them

Joyce Walker has completed hundreds of cross-stitch pieces. The walls of her place at Seniors’ Village are covered with some of them

Joyce Walker creates cross-stitch masterpieces

On any given morning, Joyce Walker is guaranteed to be sipping black coffee in the lounge area at the Seniors’ Village in Williams Lake.

On any given morning, Joyce Walker is guaranteed to be sipping black coffee in the lounge area at the Seniors’ Village in Williams Lake.

Joyce, who will be 89 on May 3, has lived there for a year and a half.

When she first arrived not many people were sitting in the lounge.

“I started coming here and encouraged people to come and join me. I waved them on over,” she says with a huge grin.

Before moving into Seniors Village, Walker lived in McLeese Lake.

Joyce was born in Saskatoon. She moved to White Rock with her parents, Violet and Cyril Ewson, and brother Ronald in 1930.

“Mom wanted to see the ocean, was fed up with the dust and cold winters,” Joyce recalled. “Dad was a war vet on a pension. He was a great gardener and loved to grow vegetables and flowers.”

By the time she finished high school, the Second World War was on, so Joyce moved into Vancouver to work at Boeing.

“I was a “gopher” in the tool shop,” she said. “I talked my mom into coming to work there. She got a job as a riveter’s assistant.”

The two rented a one-bedroom apartment on 12th Avenue and “thumbed” home to White Rock on their two days off.

“We worked at Boeing until it closed down.”

After Boeing her mom started cooking in cafes in White Rock so Joyce decided she’d try waitressing.

She married and had two sons, Tom and John, however, the marriage didn’t last.

While she was working at Super Valu, one of her friend’s husbands, who was working in Kitimat, mentioned Joyce’s situation to a co-worker, Austin Kenneth (Ken) Walker.

“He called me up from Kitimat to see how I was,” she recalled. “We talked for three quarters of an hour and when I got off the phone I said to my parents that if he comes down to see me I’m going to marry him.”

In less than a month, Ken phoned and said he was in town. He wanted to meet Joyce and her family.

They were going to a Christmas party at the boys’ school so she invited Ken to join them.

“We clicked right away. He proposed in December.”

They were married in April 1960 at the New Westminster courthouse.

“It was heaven from then on. He was very good,” Joyce said.

Ken adopted the boys and the family bought a new home in Port Coquitlam with a meadow, a large vegetable garden and flower beds all created by Ken.

Eventually Joyce “sweet talked” him into buying a brand new dump truck so he could work for highways.

Then in 1970 they moved to McLeese Lake because Gibraltar Mines was being developed and Ken was hired to work for the highways department to help build the road into the mine.

Within a year of settling in at McLeese Lake, and Ken doing highway contracts around McLeese Lake and the Chilcotin Highway west of Williams Lake,  the Esso Station at McLeese Lake came up for sale.

Ken sold the dump truck, which gave them the payment to buy the franchise and a house trailer.

“We took over the garage and were there for three years or more,” Joyce said. “We loved it. One year we were recognized by two men from Esso for having the highest gas sales the garage had ever done.”

The relationship between the Walkers and the building owner soured, so the couple decided it wasn’t worth their efforts.

One day Ken received a phone call from Gibraltar asking if he could change a tire.

It turned out to be a joke because the guys from Gibraltar arrived at the garage driving a huge mining truck.

“I’ve got pictures somewhere of Ken standing there with this little tiny wrench next to this huge truck. The tire was bigger than he was.”

That day the workers told Ken they’d like him to come and work at the mine and Ken said the Walkers were going to sell the garage in the spring and that he’d like to work at the mine.

“He stayed at the mine until he retired,” Joyce said. “At first he drove a huge truck hauling ore from the mine and then went to work in the crusher.”

Joyce worked for years at Ed and Joan Bourdon’s Cariboo Wood Shop at McAlister, six miles north of McLeese Lake.

“At the beginning Ed asked if I could varnish cedar chests so I told him I could. I told him I would do one coat a day for three days and if he liked my work then I’d come and work for him.”

Later she worked for Ed’s son Kevin and his wife Brenda at the wood shop and the coffee shop staying there until she retired.

Joyce loved McLeese Lake.

When Ken retired the couple would travel to Yuma, Ariz. to spend five months of the year.

Ken eventually succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease and passed away 10 years ago at Deni House.

Joyce continued to go away for five months of the year, although only as far as Penticton where she rented a motel.

She didn’t know anyone there. Her kids thought she was “nuts,” but the weather was perfect — dry and very little snow in the winters.

“I’m friendly. I had no problem,” she explained.

Joyce still misses Ken and after his death found it hard to be alone, yet said she had a good life with him.

She’s generous with hugs at the Seniors’ Village and stops to talk to everyone, even small dogs.

 

“As a kid I had a two mile walk to school and along the way I’d stop and talk. I love people and I love to help people.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)
MLA’s CORNER: Premier Horgan needs to work harder

There are lots of people out there who are in desperate need of assistance

The first Chimney Creek Roadhouse, constructed in 1864. (Photo courtesy of the B.C. Provincial Archives)
HAPHAZARD HISTORY: The Isnardy family of Williams Lake

Amadee Isnardy was born in 1840 near Nice, France

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: Ecological economics not a popular topic for most people

The following is a review of the no (or slow) growth concept

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read