Donald Waterfield

Donald Waterfield

This week in history

Second of a three-part series, written for the Arrow Lakes News by Ron Ansell of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society.

  • Mar. 23, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Donald’s teenage years were marked by at least two major events. One was the drowning of a relative, which once again visited the spectre of of unexpected death. Seventeen-year old Donald was to act as a pallbearer at her funeral. Another unfortunate accident occurred when a team of horses bolted and severely injured Donald’s leg. The first event resulted in the departure of the other Waterfield family from this area, never to return. The second resulted in a painful injury which led to surgery, eventual amputation of the leg and what could have been a severe disability. Instead, his life took a new turn. Donald found a wife.

Freda Brown was the daughter of neighbours down by the lake and she and Donald had many things in common. Both their families had come from England and were growing fruit on the land in the Crescent Bay orchards. They shared a common dislike for war and its horrors, and a common liking of good books and art as well as an appreciation of the natural scenery and life in the area. They had both been good athletes but at the time were both on crutches Donald because of his leg, and Freda because of polio. From this beginning developed a romance which led to their marriage in 1932.

The couple built their house down the hill from the Assart and began raising a family eventually a son and a daughter. Donald invested considerable time and money in developing the orchard, but found that fruit farming was not a profitable venture in competition with the Okanagan growers. He then switched to mixed farming.

By 1961, the Waterfield holdings had increased through the purchase of some additional land over the years and Donald hadformed a partnership with his son, Nigel. However, the signing of the Columbia River treaty and the flooding of the Arrow Lakes,if such was to occur, would not materially affect their living. A small strip of lakefront would be lost, but this was not being farmed and there was a chance of a just settlement. Donald’s sister and brother-in-law, the Spicers, stood to lose much of their very productive vegetable farm, but again, there was the chance of getting a fair price for it. Donald was, at the time, president of the Nakusp Chamber of Commerce. He formed a water resources committee and served as its chairman. The committee got outside expert help and tried to alert others in the area to the impending proposed changes. But why? Why stand in the way ofprogress? Why oppose the Columbia Treaty and all its supposed benefits to the area and to the rest of Canada? And why go to such lengths as to write not one book, but two, to travel literally thousands of miles to attend meetings, hearings and trials, to present briefs and explain a point of view to officials who seemed to have already made a decision anyway? In the valley, many people saw it as a chance to sell out and finally be able to leave. Others saw it as a chance to find work, and some seriously resented the imposition of forced change. So why do it?

Part three will run in next week’s Arrow Lakes News


Arrow Lakes News