Ron Walters

Ron Walters

Ron Walters of the Horsefly pioneer family is remembered – April 17, 1935 to May 20, 2012 –

Ron Walters was born in Williams Lake April 17, 1935, the youngest in a family of five.

Ron Walters was born in Williams Lake April 17, 1935, the youngest in a family of five.

He spent his entire youth growing up in Horsefly at the Walters pioneer ranch established in the 1890s.

The early Walters family was large and had many interesting stories of their settling in Harpers Camp, now known as Horsefly.

The Walters family had left Ontario to venture into the west, building and operating Road Houses from Mile 83, Mile 93 to the 105, then on to Mile 122, before deciding to turn back to Ontario in 1870.

It was during this time Henry Lincoln Walters was born in 1865 making him the first of a family that has now had six generations born in the Cariboo. Young Ty Tugnum is the latest.

It was Henry who started the original ranch in Horsefly, then passing from him to son Lloyd Walters (Ron’s dad). The ranch was lost due to unpaid taxes after Lloyd died with no signed will in 1944 from Tularemia, a form of blood poisoning.

It was in those early years young men had to go out to find work wherever they could.  Ron’s first job was in Wells in a gold mine working underground.

When it was found out he was but 14 he was sent above ground to wash out ore cars.  He said it was the worst job he ever had and knew for sure that was the last time he would ever go underground.

From there he and Ed got a job around Margerite unloading rail cars. All by hand they unloaded and stacked the lumber. A while later Ron got a job working for Gardner’s Sawmill in Horsefly. It was here that Ron started his career as a truck driver bringing loads of lumber into town as there were no sawmills in town at that time. During that time Herb Gardner asked Ron if he had a driver’s  licence. He didn’t as he was not yet 16. Needless to say, as soon as he was of age, he was sent to town to be tested by the local police. By the time Ron was 17 he got work with the Department. of Highways on the rock crushing crew.  This took him from Sechelt in the winter to Pouce Coupe in the summer where they crushed rock for the road beds.  It was on his second tour to Pouce Coupe that Ron met and married Reta McWha. They spent their first year in a very small trailer on a rock crushing site on the sunshine coast, hence Dave being born in Powell River in 1954. When Ron was transferred to the Cariboo (Lone Butte) he decided enough of that life and came back to Horsefly where Gail was born in Williams Lake in 1956.

In Horsefly Ron went to work hauling poles for the Niquidet Brothers, unloading  power poles himself, all along the Cariboo Highway with a peevee. He worked in and around Horsefly until he and Ed went to work for San Jose Logging, among the first log truckers to bring loads to a mill in town.   They often joked at how big a load they hauled, so much so they were known to have hooked the wires that went across Mackenzie Avenue taking out the power.

Ron’s brothers Garth and Edward also married and started families.

In 1965 Ron and Dean Getz started Central Cariboo Carriers Ltd. During that time Ron had a few different partners, Arnie Nohr, Paul Petruk and his brother Garth.

A few years later, in the hopes of cutting back and downsizing, Garth started Interior Log Hauling Ltd. and Ron took Central and the remaining trucks home to the shop on Bann Road.

In 1975 Ron departed from his norm and did a rash and reckless thing by going to Las Vegas and marrying Diane Peacock Weaver, from Kamloops, and he took on Diane and her son Shaun.

From that moment on it was full steam ahead, going from having lumber trucks, to low-beds, as well as the ever-present log trucks.

He was actively involved in the Central Interior Loggers Association, as well as the Cariboo Loggers  Association,   helping  to establish hauling rates, routes, and roads. Ron was also a member of the accident-free Mack Million Mile Club.

Helping start the Cariboo Sams (an RV group) and belonging to the BC Bus Nuts (converted coaches), Ron made a host of new friends.

RVing trips were made to various hot springs,  Little Big Horn, Old Faithful, the Pacific coast road, and many fun trips with family.

He and Diane took  Dave and Bev with their children to Seattle and the Space Needle, making the little ones wear lime green T-shirts so they could spot them easily in the crowds.

Music was always playing on the VCR and  Ron always said he could quote Pretty Women.

They made trips to the  Vanderhoof Air Show, where they sat on the roof to watch the show,  went to Saskatoon to see nephew Richard try out for the Saskatoon Blades hockey team and even went  across Canada, a trip that only took three-and-a-half-months. Life was full.

Throughout Ron’s life he was always a caregiver. He just went quietly through life doing for others with no hoopla — visits to those in Cariboo Lodge, helping a senior by mowing a lawn, or fixing a leaky tap.

Many times he was volunteered by his wife to help in some way, and even signed up to do security for the upcoming Dry Grad.  While travelling he had stopped many a time to aid a broken down motorist, even an RVer who thought you could drive right to a Moose Meadow in Banff Park. He got a chain and hooked onto this American traveller and with a great deal of effort managed to get them on their way.  That’s just one among many times he would assist someone.

He continued on until he finally sold the last truck and thought to then spend time taking the bus “The Long Riders” on an extended tour.  But life doesn’t always dish out what you expect.

Within a few months we found ourselves taking custody of our granddaughter Violet at five months of age and had to switch into the parenting mode.

Ron really enjoyed having the pleasure of all the firsts he missed out on in the years raising Dave and Gail, as work had always come first.

Only Christmas was a day off in those days.

Within that year, Ron was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Because of his diabetes the darn cancer had become an octopus inside him, but thanks to aggressive radiation and a typical strong will Ron came through that with flying colours.

Unfortunately he had pneumonia many times during his lifetime to the point where it developed  into a viral type.

The last bout he was going through was showing real signs of improvement when out of the blue he suffered a massive heart attack at home on that Sunday morning, May 20, 2012.

This has been a shock and a tragedy for the family of which it will take some time to recover.

Ron will be sorely missed by his wife Diane, his son Dave (Bev), daughter Gail, stepson Shaun, our “girl” Violet; grandchildren, Stephanie (Karl), Carrie, Kayla and Chad, Corey, Blake and Chauni; great-grandchildren, Abby, Jonathon, Ty and Ben; and his brothers, Garth (June), Edward (Linda) and many nieces and nephews.

The celebration of Ron’s life was held at the Pioneer Complex on Hodgson Road,  May 26, 2012.

In lieu of flowers, for those who wish, his favourite charity is the  Williams Lake branch of the BC SPCA, at  Box 4757, Williams Lake, B.C. V2G 2V7.

At a later time the family will honour Ron’s wishes by having his ashes  spread in the Horsefly River where he would join the Fraser River, then on to the ocean to travel the world.