Long time Chilcotin resident, Harry Kemp Haynes, died July 10 at Surrey Memorial Hospital. He was 90 years old.
Harry was born on August 12, 1913 at Jordan River on Vancouver Island, and moved to the Chilcotin at Christmas of 1929 to look after old timer, Bill Christie, at his Alexis Lakes ranch. He remained in the Chilcotin until November 2002, when he and his wife, Fran, moved into a care home in Surrey.
Harry made his mark in Chilcotin like few ever did. One can honestly say the world is a better place for the seven decades he spent tending his fires in his Tatlayoko home.
In 1934 Harry moved to Tatlayoko Valley where his mother Del Naomi Haynes and his four brothers had taken up residence from New Westminster in 1930. After cowboying for a few years, shooting wild horses and working for various ranches, Harry took up land himself in Tatlayoko where he began ranching and farming.
In 1941 Harry married his first wife Muriel Gosh and together they developed their ranch along Lincoln Creek. One of the highlights of their time together was guiding mountaineers Donn and Phyllis Munday into Mt. Reliance for a first ascent of the mountain 30 kilometres south of Tatlayoko Lake.
Harry and Muriel parted company in the early 1950s, and for the next 25 years Harry remained a bachelor, caring for his mother for the last years of her life.
In the mid 1970s Harry married Fran Farquharson, and for the next two and a half decades they established nerve and heart centre of the Tatlayoko Valley.
No this wasn’t a medical research centre, it was an open door policy where the coffee pot was always on, and most folks were welcome most of the time.
These were the days before the telephone system had stretched its tentacles beyond Highway 20, and Tatlayoko residents were linked by a CB radio system. Harry and Fran’s CB handle was appropriately “Coffee House.”
What leant to them being the “nerve centre” was that the only public radio telephone booth in the valley was located at the foot of their driveway. The Haynes’ managed to convince BC Tel to hook an extension into their house and they took messages for everyone in the community. These were social times indeed.
Then when Fran secured the mail contract and moved the post office to their home, Harry got the job to deliver the mail. Their place indeed became “downtown Tatlayoko.”
But there’s more to be said about Harry Haynes.
“What can you say about Harry?” says long time friend and ‘adopted’ son, Len Knight, who refers to him as Uncle Harry. “He was grumpy. He loved his life, he had a good one, a pretty long one, he was always quick to joke. His BS stories were the best; he was always excellent to listen to. He was a good hearted old guy who wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.”
Len’s wife, Joanna, echoes her husband’s sentiments.
“Harry was wisdom, but at other times he was full of BS. Our daughter Alisha thought of Harry like a grand dad. We were all close. They kind of filled in as surrogate parents for us.
“With the passing of Harry Haynes both an era of kindness and great stories of the early cowboys, horses and cattle drives has ended. Harry was a gentleman and a father to many of his neighbours and friends.
“Nobody was ever left off his kindness or his jokes. Always the practical joker; he made you laugh, feel comfortable and wanted. His stories always funny and great.
“If you ever needed something, be it gas or food or help of any kind, Harry was always there. His laugh was genuine, and his smile was real.
“I can’t imagine living in Tatlayoko Lake 30 years and not having a person like him to share all the good times, people and stories of the Chilcotin with. Throw in the laughter and wisdom and last but not least his BS, he will surely be missed by us all.”