Alvera Paterson (Bruhn)

Alvera Paterson (Bruhn)

Alvera was born quite prematurely and weighing around 4 lbs. March 22, 1911 in Revelstoke, the closest community hospital to her parents’ homestead in Malawaka. The family moved to Salmon Arm when she was a few days old with one of her earliest recollections being told that her parents used the oven as an incubator because she was so small and premature. She survived early childhood and at the tender age of four she moved with her Mom and Dad and older brother, Ted, to Sabourin’s Point, Sicamous.

Alvera Paterson was part of a family that had a significant influence on the history local to the Sicamous and Shuswap communities. Her father, Rolf Walgren Bruhn was born September 4, 1878 in Resterod, Sweden. He moved to Canada in 1898 settling in Malakwa, BC and set to homesteading and farming. Alvera’s mother was Sarah “Anna” Treat of Missouri, who moved to the area to be with her sister Laura Mitchell and brothers, Robert and Charles Treat. Rolf and Anna met and were married in 1902. There are still many descendants of the Treats in the Shuswap area.

Mr. Bruhn worked as a road foreman. His company built such roads as Kault Hill and the Skimikin/Chase Road with the latter, it’s rumoured, being built for $500. Mr. Bruhn was also foreman for all but one mile of the Sicamous/Mara Lake Road with German detainees as his crew. This road was an engineering marvel at the time as it was completely level as Mr. Bruhn used the level of the lake as his reference.

In 1916 Mr. Bruhn’s tenure building roads ended and he founded a forestry business, R.W. Bruhn Pole and Lumber Company. In 1917 the family lived in tents at Anstey Arm where there was a good supply of cedar for poles. Later logs, poles and ties were harvested from around the Shuswap and Adams Lake area. Poles and ties were sold and logs supplied the mill at Canoe which was built in 1925 and sold in 1936 as well as the new mill he built at Old Town near Sicamous.

Alvera’s dad, the Right Honourable R.W. Bruhn served as MLA for the district of Salmon Arm in 1924, 1928, 1933, 1937 and 1941. He also served twice as the Minister of Public Works, Department of Highways. During the years Anna Bruhn made changes to the family homes where Rolf, Anna, Ted and Alvera entertained both the local guests and members of the Legislature. The house was renowned for music and laughter as the Bruhn’s entertained.

In 1923 Alvera attended St. Michael’s all girls private school in Vernon for three and a half years and in 1927 she went to St. Margaret’s private school in Victoria, from which she graduated in 1929. She then decided to take Pharmacy but as she didn’t have Latin, she took it up later. She had special tutoring. Alvera then attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon where she took a general course. At this time her family was living in Victoria, so she returned to Victoria where she took another year of university, and then took a year off from her studies to do some traveling with her mom.

In September of 1933 Alvera entered the school of nursing at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria and graduated in 1936 and remained in Victoria for a year. In 1937 she attended University of British Columbia for one year and became a Public Health Nurse. She worked with Metropolitan Public Health in the public schools in Vancouver. It was at this time she met her husband, Max Paterson, they married in 1939 and lived in Vancouver for six months, moving then to Sicamous where her husband joined her dad’s company, R.W. Bruhn Ltd.

1942 was a tragic year for the family and Alvera as her older brother Ted died after a boating accident on Shuswap Lake and her father passed away a few months thereafter from a stroke.

Alvera did volunteer work in the baby clinic in Sicamous and in 1949 when she and her husband separated, she was left raising her two young sons: Rolf born in 1941 and Edward in 1943. She moved to Vernon and for the next nine years worked as a public health nurse while her sons went to Vernon Preparatory School (private school). In 1958 Alvera and her husband were able to resolve their differences and moved together with their boys to Vancouver.

In 1952, Alvera’s mom, Anna, sold her house on CPR Hill and the family’s Basition Bay cabin (to the Drummonds) and bought a lot in the Blind Bay area, where at the time lake front property was just $10 a foot. There she built a home and spent her summers until she passed away in 1958. The Paterson family and friends often holidayed there. It was on an afternoon drive in 1968 in the country that Alvera and Max discovered Eagle Bay and Wild Rose Bay area. Soon after they bought Rose Bay Resort which they owned and operated for six years. In 1974 they sold the resort but remained on as the caretakers for a year. Alvera’s husband passed away in January of 1975.

Alvera remained in the Eagle Bay, Shuswap area, living in various homes until 1979 when she built her home in Eagle Bay Estates where she remained until moving to Kelowna 1991. While at Eagle Bay she continued to be active in both the community hall and her church activities. In February of 2011she moved to Amica seniors’ home in West Vancouver where she celebrated her 100th birthday and resided until her passing on February 20, 2013.

On Friday August 23, 2013 at 2 p.m. Alvera will join her husband and family as her ashes will be interred in the family plot #13 in the Mount Ida Cemetery in Salmon Arm. The Reverand Dan Meakes officiating. In attendance will be Alvera’s sons and their families – all four of her grandchildren and all five of her great grandchildren.

Salmon Arm Observer


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