Monday, 15 October 2012

Picking in the West Kootenays

Whenever I went to the West Kootenays to pick, it was with my friends Jim and Lawrence.  Jim is from Calgary and Lawrence from the region.  We picked from Grand Forks to Nelson and all the places in between ... places like Thrums, Ooteschenia, Robson, Kinnaird, Castlegar, Blueberry, Glade, Krestova , the New Settlement and up the Slocan Valley.  Our home base was Lawrence's home in Ooteschenia .  Lawrence also speaks fluent Russian which was a big help to us.  We picked in hot sun, cold rain, snow storms, freezing weather with black ice over the roads .. we picked year round.
  A good deal of our picking was blind door knocking.  This is going to a house and knocking on the door.  We would introduce ourselves and tell the people what we were looking for.  Most people were very receptive to us and we found some great treasures this way .  This photo is the result of blind picking.  After we were loaded, the lady told us that her sister had some items for sale and was waiting for us.  This photo is taken in the Slocan Valley in the Krestova area.  (Jim and I in the Slocan Valley)
Great rug picked in the Krestova area.  This was a blind knock even though we had an idea she had some good items. We did not know what she had.   This small rug is very collectible.  It was found in the dog's bed.  We would go through barns, sheds, basements, attics, and the house itself.  We once hit an attic full of bats but kept on looking and just ignored the bats.  The urge to pick was stronger than the thought of the bats.

 One of my best picks was this boot bench.  It was on the back porch of a mobile home in a trailer park.  You could never judge what was in a house by its appearance.  A boot bench has a lift up seat.  This bench also has the original color.  Strip the paint off and most of its value will be lost.


Picking was a part time activity for me.  I was a high school math teacher for 33 years.  I am now retired.  I would often go to the Kootenays Friday after school and be home Sunday night in time to go to school on Monday.  One weekend I can back with 
30 blanket boxes of all sizes  and conditions.  

  At the time I had a Ford 250 Econoline extended van with no back seats.  Along with the van I had roof racks and a 12 foot trailer.  After a good pick the van, roof racks, and the trailer were completed full to the rafters.  This is me getting ready to go home from Ooteschenia.  This is small load.

The very first time I picked was in the middle of winter.  I packed up my van and trailer and headed to Castlegar between Christman and New Years.   The roads were bare until I hit Hope and it was deep snow all the way to Castlegar and back.  This photo is taken in Krestova.  We picked this house (pictured) twice. Often you would have to pick a house many times. 

Photos of some of the items we have picked over the years.
A pair of great tables with good original paint.  The owner would not sell us the tables unless we bought his pickup.  We would not buy the truck unless he sold us the tables.  We did get them all . The truck was a 1948 International pick up in working condition.  
These are called community tables.  The Doukhobors originally lived in communes and these were the dining hall tables.  The white one was found in Grand Forks and is 7 feet long, the bottom one was found in Pass Creek and is it 10 feet long.  Note the long overhang on the bottom table.

In this photo we are in our hotel room in Grand Forks.  We had just purchased about 100 wooden spoons and laddles.  We had also purchased 5 sweet heart boxes .   These are small boxes the same shape as blanket boxes.

Doukhobor dresser.  This is collector quality.  It has age, great form and good  original color.  When I first started, I did strip a small cupboard of its original paint.  Big mistake ... worth much more in the original paint finish. Thank you for reading this article about picking in the Kootenays.

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