Roy Bertram has witnessed a lot of BC history in his 104 years. He celebrated his birthday this week with family, friends and fellow residents at Parkside Comfort Living For Seniors in Summerland.
Born in 1907 in Georgia, he came north to the B.C. Interior with his family as a youngster. His father, an engineer, built the flume at Walhachin, an upscale British orchard development near Kamloops in the early part of the century. Bertram then worked on a farm at Black Pines on the North Thompson River.
He spent most of his working life on the West Coast.
He tried to enlist in the army to fight in World War II, but was too old and served instead in the Army Service Corps which patrolled the waters and supplied military encampments along the coast from Alaska to Seattle.
After the S.S. Green Hill Park exploded and burned in Vancouver in 1945, he was on the tugboat that towed it out of the harbor. When the Canadian National steamship Prince George burned at Ketchikan, Alaska, the same year, he was on the Canadian tug that towed it away from the dock.
When the war ended he turned to commercial fishing. Then he took on contract work with oil companies that included painting large marine fuel tanks located along the coast.
His nephew Gary Smythe of Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island, who attended this week’s birthday party, worked with him on the painting job for a couple of summers.
Bertram moved to the local area about 40 years ago, farming at three locations around Summerland. He was active in the Rod and Gun Club, the Royal Canadian Legion and the Youth Corps. His wife Olive died in 1997.
The couple had no children, but remained close to nephew Smythe and niece Pat Bowes of Keremeos.