Hazel Henry Hardwick


Special to The Tribune

Hazel Henry Hardwick was born and raised in the Chilcotin, the second daughter of Frank and Hattie Witte. She had two sisters, Irene and Veera, and one brother, Duane.

She grew up and went to school at Big Creek.

She married Chilco Ranch cowboy, Cecil Henry, and they soon had their own little ranch on Big Creek.

Hazel lived a busy ranch life; riding, helping outdoors, cooking and sewing for a family of four, including a set of twins.

She used to joke about writing a book called Four Under Three but she never had time.

Hazel’s home was where family and friends so often crowded in on New Year’s Day, Easter, and other special occasions to enjoy gracious hospitality and wonderful food.

Autumn was a busy time for Hazel, catering for Cecil’s American clientele as they came and went on guided Bighorn sheep hunts to the mountains and cougar hunts with hounds in the lower country.

On Big Creek her four children were raised and went to school: Sherwood, now of Williams Lake and Chilcotin; twins, Gail of Calgary, Alberta and Truman, who passed away in 1998; and youngest son Larry of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After moving to Williams Lake Hazel worked as a cook at the old high school dormitory on First Avenue before being promoted to the position of supervisor.

She was also matron for many years at the new Columneetza dorm which in those days housed up to 70 high school students, sometimes up to 80.

Hazel was an artist. Her early interest in art was fostered by art lessons in grade school, encouraging teachers, and by the work of Gertrude Church of Big Creek, an accomplished oil and water colourist trained in England.

Hazel took art classes at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and in Penticton and Williams Lake. For six years she assisted her artist cousin, Arlene Campbell, with seminars in the Methow Valley, Washington.

She joined the Cariboo Art Society in 1963, painting in oils, acrylics, and water colours, also working in pastels and mixed media.

She hung her work every year in their annual art show and was honoured with a lifetime membership in the Cariboo Art society.

Hazel’s paintings could also be seen in many businesses around town and at the annual Big Creek Roundup each September.

Hazel suggested the name Big Creek Roundup following the first reunion and it was unanimously accepted.

Her main interest was in painting the mountains and scenes of the Chilcotin.

She loved the outdoors and having ridden horseback over many of the trails into the mountains and over passes into the head waters of Big Creek, Taseko, Graveyard, and the valleys of Yohetta and Tachaikazan.

She had a real affinity for the mountains and loved to paint them and other Chilcotin landscapes.

She continued painting up until the time of her death March 12, 2002 in Fernie B.C.

Hazel married Scotty Litterick in 1983 and he built her a snug log home on Winger Road in Williams Lake. Scotty died in 1994.

Two years later she married Charles Hardwick, the culmination of a teenage romance. They lived at Hazel’s home in Williams Lake but spent the winters in Fernie, Charlie’s home town.

Hazel was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Royal Canadian Legion in Williams Lake.

She attended the Alliance Church in Williams Lake and the Chilcotin Log Church at Hanceville. She was baptised in Chimney Lake in 1992 and was a devoted believer.

Hazel was energetic, courageous, caring, a good cook, a gracious hostess and a quiet but clear thinker with unusual vision and a wide range of interests, especially in history and geography.

She was the one who envisaged a work of Chilcotin history which resulted in the hard cover book, Chilcotin — Preserving Pioneer Memories. Her sketches enliven its pages.

An outdoor memorial service was held for Hazel at the Chilcotin Log Church at Hanceville on June 22. It was a lovely day. A big crowd gathered under the sunshine and beautiful music flowed.

Pastor Art Joyce officiated and his wife Dianne, along with Jim Carlson and Bill Buhler, led the singing of grand old hymns: How Great Thou Art, I’ll Fly Away, and lastly with everyone standing: In the Sweet By and By.

Glen Klassen donated and manned his public address system to carry the music out over the crowd.

David Learn sang The Old Rugged Cross, and next was Kerin Meinhard with When All is Said and Done.

Jim Carlson gave us Happy Trails and Back in the Saddle Again with yodelling. Jim and Bill harmonized in Where Will I Be and How Beautiful Heaven Must Be and Iris Witte sang Precious Memories.

Ray Woods, of Williams Lake, who worked with Hazel for many years when she was the dorm supervisor and he was the manager of the Columneetza cafeteria, gave the eulogy including Hazel’s personal testimony and a note from her former pastor, Alfred Czerwinski. The present Alliance Church pastor, Stu Coutts, spoke and read a letter of praise.

Led by Shirley Weetman, ladies of the auxiliary to the Royal Canadian Legion in Williams Lake came up in full dress to present to Hazel posthumously a lifetime membership in the Legion.

This life membership was made out and signed by the provincial secretary in January, 2002, and was to be given to Hazel when she came home in the spring. Shirley gave the traditional prayer and read a eulogy written by Anna Rabbie.

Ladies of the Cariboo Art Society brought beautiful fragrant bouquets of garden flowers and a perfect card painted by Kris Andrews and signed by 13 members.

The ladies of the Big Creek community kindly made and donated a wonderful variety of sweets for afternoon tea. A potluck supper followed.

Hazel’s ashes will be buried on Red Mountain above Taseko Lake and a name plate put up.

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