Lillian Gardiner (nee Porteous) was born in Needles, British Columbia, on Christmas Day in 1917. She was one of six children who lived in a single-room log cabin for many years.
Most of Lillian's education was of a practical nature. Chopping wood, clearing land, ploughing fields, caring for livestock, and hauling nitroglycerine up the mountains by mule — often alone — were the day's lessons. Frequently, she worked without shoes! At the age of ten, each child was given a rifle, a pair of snowshoes, and a lard pail full of food, and then was sent to work on the trapline.
Lillian learned to survive in the wilderness and developed an immense love of the land. Although trapping was necessary for the family's income, she had great compassion for animals. On one occasion, her trap caught a beaver by its toes. Instead of killing it, ten-year-old Lillian took it home and tamed it.
Here, she is shown sitting on the family's porch holding her pet beaver. She's wearing gumboots with sealer jar rings around the top "to keep the water out."
As her daughter Lillian Barton notes, "My mom was not singular, but an example of the courage and strength that made this country what it is."
Lillian Barton is the daughter of Lillian Gardner. She resides in Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia. Text by Beverley Tallon.