May 31st, 1990 and the day to start my new life. Dave had to work an extra couple of weeks but papers needed to be signed on the first of June so I set off for Oliver and our new home.
We had spent the past week with our married daughter, having had all our furniture in storage, ready to be moved to Oliver. The morning I set off was wet and nasty and very inconvenient as I had to load three very unhappy cats, a cat litter box and a big yellow lab amongst all the delicate items that we had packed, into the van.
We had our “good” china, a few lamps, several large plants and other assorted items that we didn’t want to trust to a moving truck Two of the cats went into hiding under car seats but Minky, the old man of the group, was very restless and roamed around, yowling in his unhappiness. He thought sitting on my head was a good spot, but he soon got shifted from that perch, he then tried to settle between my neck and the head rest, not too great a driving position. He ended up sitting on top of the lab, who was curled up on the front passenger seat. Poor dog was too scared of the cat to protest, so things settled down for a while.
I had to stop on the Hope/Princeton for a bathroom break, which was quite a dicey manoeuvre with my furry family in attendance, all of them just waiting to get out of the car. As I headed down into Princeton, the sun came out and I could turn off the wipers and turn down the heat, as I drove into Oliver all was sunny and bright and I felt a new sense of adventure, surely we had made the right choice.
The motel was sitting in the sun, the pool was now filled and the sparkling water looked so inviting. I unloaded the animals into the manager’s suite and emptied the van of it’s furnishings. The suite was fully furnished so when the moving van came the next day, it was quite a challenge to get our stuff in. I solved the problem of space by having the moving men stand our large couch on end, on top of this was balanced a chair, the rest of our household furnishings were similarly stacked. When I went to bed that night, I hoped there would be no earthquake as I was surrounded by towers of furniture. The bed itself was covered by three cats and a large dog, all of whom felt more secure if they lay next to or preferably on top of me.
The previous owners had arranged to stay in one of the cottages until they could move into their new residence, so it was nice to get some hands on training of my new job. I had several guests come for accommodation over the next few days and it was a good way to ease into the new life. The campground was almost useless as the big cherry trees were beautiful to put a tent underneath, but no room for any car so people had to park in the motel car park and walk to their site.
June was fairly quiet and by the end of June Dave had arrived and we were happy to actually have our business up and running. The motel kept us fairly busy and Dave learned the ropes of cleaning and maintaining the pool. July and August saw us running at full capacity with the motel and cottages so life was busy.
We made things very difficult for ourselves by trying to accommodate everyone who phoned for reservations. We spent hours moving beds around to accommodate different types of families. The motel rooms were all different, some with two double beds some with one bed and a pullout couch and some with a mix of double and single beds. Late mornings would find us moving beds around to make the right combination for the next arrivals. By the second year, we learned to leave things alone and if we could not accommodate one family, there would soon be another who would be happy with the room arrangement.
The Maple Leaf motel had a very similar set up to the Bel Air and we managed to fix people up with rooms there if we didn’t have the space, the owners there reciprocated by sending guests up to us. They were also new owners and we sort of bonded together during that first few years as we learned our new jobs.
In twenty six years of married life, this is the first time we had lived as a couple, it was great and we enjoyed the new situation. Our youngest daughter moved up with us, got a job at the hardware store in town and lived in one of our cottages. She loved her new home and enjoyed looking after herself, just coming over for dinner a couple of times a week. Dave’s father did not want to move away from the coast, he was involved in several art groups, his church choir and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, so he was happy in his own home. However, he came to visit often, bringing his canary with him and Dave spent lots of time with him, in the winter. The only dark spot in our first season was the passing of our old cat. Minky was 21 and had a really good life, passing away on Labour Day. We buried him in the orchard, the first of several of our beloved pets to lie there.
Come late September and the business slowed down, prairie people rented for the winter, so things were not as hectic. Time to start making our campground a reality, this is when we got into an ongoing relationship with V.Line and their backhoe operators. First order of business was to remove every second row of cherry trees. This gave us a fifty by fifty foot space for each RV site.
Next came the trenches, a four foot deep one for water, to prevent freezing over the winter, next a shallower trench for electric, cable tv and telephone. When it started to rain it looked like the trenches of World War 11 and just about as depressing. By the first snow fall most of the trenches were finished and work had to stop until spring.
During the winter months Dave installed showers, sinks and toilets into the outbuildings, he put up partitions and I painted walls. We also installed a coin laundry and here we started a small library for patrons use.
We also started to renovate the motel rooms, one at a time. The entire motel was made of cedar, which is beautiful but, in small rooms with small windows, it is a bit oppressive. Dave took down dividing walls to make rooms look more spacious and put drywall over the cedar, just leaving the cedar trim on view. He also extended the bathrooms of each room so there was room for a tub/shower combination, instead of just a shower stall. I painted, made curtains and the rooms started to take on a new life, once new carpets and bedcovers were installed, we were ready for the new season with an almost new motel.
Roll on spring of 1991.