Help us to restore the Del’s sign

Campbell River’s Del’s Drive in brings back memories for many locals.  Whether it was the zombie burgers, the friendly servers in go-go boots, or the Friday night’s hanging out in the parking lot with friends, Del’s was the place to be.  The iconic sign that was outside of the restaurant was donated to the Museum at Campbell River and has been selected as one of the 60 objects to be featured in the Museum’s 60th Anniversary exhibit.  Those that loved Del’s will be able to see it once again!

But there is a catch, and we need your help.

The sign needs extensive repairs to be in condition for display.  It is expected those repairs will cost around $5,000, and will include fixing the body of the sign and repairing and replacing the neon so that it can be turned on again.  It seems like a steep price, we know, but it needs to be done properly to maintain the integrity of this artifact, and we want it to be fully restored to operating condition.

If one thousand past friends, employees and patrons of Del’s each donated the cost of a burger – $5 – we could raise enough to have the sign fixed.  Of course bigger donations would go further, but today we challenge you to donate $5, then encourage your friends to donate $5 as well.  Forward this campaign to the people you know will remember Del’s.  Find this campaign on the Museum’s social media accounts and share it widely.  Together we will bring back to life this piece of Campbell River’s past.Del's sign even smaller

Steam Donkey will run again this year thanks to community support!

This year’s Labour Day celebration at the Museum at Campbell River came close to having to be cancelled due to problems with the Steam Donkey that were identified in an inspection earlier this year.  This annual event is attended by hundreds of people and is the biggest event happening on Labour Day in Campbell River each year.  As soon as the problems were identified, Museum staff and volunteers started to look for solutions, knowing they were on a tight deadline.  Thankfully due to efforts on several fronts, the festivities will be able to proceed this year as scheduled.


Norm Fair, a Museum supporter and volunteer who was involved in the initial restoration of the Steam Donkey, became involved as soon as he heard that the machine, originally built in 1916, needed repairs. “For me, it is about the volunteering of the community.  People rallied to help out the Museum when they needed it.  It shows once again the amazing sense of community spirit in Campbell River.”


Norm Grant, who operates the Steam Donkey for special events put in countless hours working at getting it back into running order.  He had previously helped rebuild some valves during the restoration of the Museum’s Steam Donkey, then Norm Fair talked him into volunteering to run it starting in 2006. “He’s a great arm twister” Norm explains.  Not only does Norm give up his Labour Day and sometimes Canada Day to run the Steam Donkey, he also meets annually with the inspector from the B.C. Safety Authority to ensure the machine remains safe to operate, and does any work needed to keep it in good running order.


Several local organizations were instrumental in meeting the tight deadlines. CR Metal Fabricators contributed donated time and materials to build a new smoke stack for the Steam Donkey, and the Campbell River Daybreak Rotary Club stepped up with a grant to cover repair costs.  Blake Leisch and welder Alfie Boudreau also contributed to the project.  The Steam Donkey required a series of non-destructive tests to prove that it was safe, and Kodiak Non-Destructive Testing Services from Nanaimo did the testing and donated their time and expertise to do it.


Overall it has been a community effort, and now the Museum is pleased to invite you for Labour Day, Monday, September 4, from noon to 3pm, to see the Steam Donkey running once again.  The popular donkey boiler coffee will be served, and the Glacier Heritage Equipment Club from the Comox Valley will be joining in this year with some of their antique tractors as well as a pole lathe demonstration.  Artist Pavel Barta will be there with a newly designed paper model of the Steam Donkey, and the Museum Lego collection will be out for free Lego play.


For more information go to or call 250-287-3103.  The Museum at Campbell River is located at 470 Island Highway.

The Ol’ Quinnie:  Simply a place to go and have a beer

This article appeared in Campbellton Magazine in 2014 and we are posting it here today as a tribute to the Quinnie that burnt down last night.

article by Catherine Gilbert

8018 Quinsam Hotel

An enduring symbol of old Campbellton, the Quinsam Hotel was built almost one hundred years ago, and is one of the few remaining heritage buildings in Campbell River from this time period.  It has survived through several owners and several eras, and continues to be a popular gathering place and unpretentious drinking establishment.

8027 Quinsam Hotel, opening

Affectionately known as “the Quinnie”, the hotel was under construction in 1917 but had an inauspicious beginning; it was the same year that Prohibition was enforced.  Since the builder, Tom Laffin had counted on alcohol sales to support his investment, he sold it while it was still under construction and dubbed it ‘the White Elephant’.  He only needed to wait a couple of years – Prohibition was short lived and ended in 1920.  Ken Bergstrom completed construction on the hotel, and was soon doing a roaring trade.

The third owner of the hotel, and one who had a colourful reputation was Jim English.  He was known about town as a character, and was nicknamed ‘the Bishop’.  English wasn’t new to the hospitality business; he had been operating a bootlegging business out of the Fisherman’s Lodge in Oyster River, and he used the proceeds to purchase the Quinsam in 1923.

In 1926, he added a café and barbershop.  An article in the Comox Argus dated July 25, 1929 gives a delightful description of the hotel as it was then:”

At a point near where the Island Highway swings close to the Campbell River, there has sprung up a settlement which has grown amazingly of late, namely, Campbellton, and near to the centre of it is the Quinsam Hotel.  It is run by Mr. Jim English, who has expanded it until it has become the chief building of Campbellton.

There were always a large number of loggers coming down the International Timber line, and the hotel was established primarily to cater to them, and twenty two rooms are provided where they can stay in comfort.

Since the building was re-modelled, Mr. English has added to it a café, where an excellent cook provides meals at all hours.  Regular meals are provided at reasonable prices and short orders are a specialty.  On the other side of the block is the barber shop, where Mr. William NcNeil will give the logger or anyone else, modern tonsorial service.”

English owned the bar for just over 35 years, then in 1959, Jack Ross went into partnership with him.  By this time English was no longer actively participating in the business, but he continued with his bootlegging – buying cases of liquor from the liquor store to sell to the customers who couldn’t get there before the 6:00pm closing time.  Ross remembered that English wore special pants that could carry and conceal his bottles, and he would walk down the middle of the street selling his wares.

1 Quinsam Hotel

When Jack Ross bought the bar, he knew nothing about the business but was looking for some independence and a way to make money.  He was good with math, and after reviewing the financial figures for the ‘Quinnie’, thought it would be a good investment.  He soon found out that he possessed another useful talent.  He had received training in wrestling while living in Edmonton, and this came in handy when he had to break up fights, which were a common, if almost daily occurrence.  His son-in-law Bruce Izard said that Ross was friends with the then famous wrestler Gene Kiniski who would come to the hotel to see him, but Kiniski couldn’t have a drink in the bar as so many fellows would challenge him to a fight.  Ross and Kiniski would have to meet in one of the hotel rooms to have their visit and share a drink.

When Ross took over the Quinsam, he kept the existing staff but worked the bar himself for the first few years.  He found that he like the bar business; “I could BS a lot” he said.  He had many regulars and made a point of knowing his patrons and calling them by name.  In those days, the Quinsam was strictly a beer parlour, and in his opinion, “it was the nicest place to drink”.

It wasn’t long before he decided to expand and in 1961 bought Crawford’s Store next door.  The beer parlour went from 125 to 200 seats, the cafe was added onto, and eight new hotel rooms went in above.  With the need for reception staff, waitresses in the cafe, cooks and extra bar staff, he had between 20-25 people working there.

The majority of his clientele were mill workers on their way home and loggers.  Women were allowed in the establishment but could only come in through the front entrance, and there was a separate entrance for men.  One day a woman came in asking if he had found any teeth the night before, and when he said ‘no’, she replied, “Then I must have left them in the Willows.”

Laws governing drinking establishments were quite rigid at that time.  One of the most challenging liquor laws to abide by was having to close the bar from 6:30 to 7:00pm; the idea being that patrons would go home for supper.  Ross said that it was often difficult to convince them to do so.  The tap was cut off at 11:30pm, and the establishment closed at midnight, and the bar was not allowed to be open on Sundays.

By 1967, Jack bought out the business from Jim English’s son Bob.  They were busy years.  Ross and his wife had six children and at one point he became President of the Rotary Club.  A couple of his children worked in the bar and his oldest went on to study hotel management and to run the Arbutus Hotel in Courtenay.

While Ross owned the Quinsam, he said that only men served in the bar, and in those years there was no entertainment.

He sold in the Quinsam in 1976 to Eli Katz who changed the name to the ‘Kerdan’.  Katz had the idea that there should be entertainment in the form of dancing girls, so he put plywood over the pool table to make a ‘stage’ for them.  He sold the hotel to an insurance adjuster who did away with the dancers and lost money.  Katz went on to purchase the Douglas Hotel in Victoria.

John Jerry owned the Quinsam from 1982 to 1989 and one of the most significant changes he made was to bring in bands to play every night except Sundays, until the laws changed and Sunday opening was also allowed.  Some bands would stay for as long as two weeks if the patrons liked them.  On his time as a bar owner Jerry commented: “If only the building could talk.”

Jerry sold the business to John and Bonnie Uzzell.  Their daughter Crystal said her father John was a very hands-on owner, and despite having a manager, would do every job from clearing tables to getting behind the bar.  Her mother Bonnie worked more behind the scenes and looked after the books and other details.  It was a family affair, and Crystal and her husband Mike Modras operated the café for many years.  During the years the Uzzells owned the Quinsam, they procured a licence to sell liquor and opened the liquor store that was attached to the building at the back parking lot.  Crystal has fond memories of all the regular customers, who were very supportive when the family lost John Uzzell to a tragic accident in 2001.  His wife Bonnie sold the business in 2009.

It was then purchased by the Cape Mudge Band.  General Manager Blair Wells says that the only change the Band made was to move the liquor store and its licence to their property at Quinsam Crossing in 2011.  Other than that, the hotel has remained the same, with live bands playing Fridays and Saturdays, karaoke on Sundays and Thursdays, and daily food specials.  The café is still a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.

As Blair Wells says, “It’s a one of a kind place, not a cookie cut like so many of today’s pubs.”  It could be this sense of uniqueness and the feeling that the Quinsam retains ties to the past that keeps people coming.  Today’s patrons enjoy the old fashioned ambience the ‘Quinnie’ provides – like a place where time stands still.

“It was good coffee. A man with big feet could walk on it.”

In the late 1800s, in an effort to increase production, steam technology began to replace horse and oxen in the logging industry.  Until diesel machinery began to be in use in the 1940s, steam donkeys could be seen all over the Pacific Northwest.  They were mounted on log sleds and could be towed from one area to another on floats.  Steam donkeys were versatile machines that could be used for yarding, hauling and loading logs.

One of the lesser known uses of the steam donkey was also the highligmcr018981ht of many a loggers’ day – donkey boiler coffee.  Arthur “Bill” Mayse, who told his story to Jeanette Taylor shortly before his death, recalled fondly waiting for the engineer to blow his whistle at eleven thirty signalling lunch break.  “Woooo woo – one long and one short – and that meant lunch time.  So everyone would drop their gloves and head for the donkey engine.”

The fireman who stoked the fires of the engine, was responsible for making the coffee.  “He would take a great big lard pail, one of the great big storage pails that holds two or three gallons of water, off a hook and he’d reach for what he called his injector hose.”  The injector hose was a high pressure hose filled with steam from the donkey boiler.  “He’d take the injector homcr005518se and whoosh, he’d send a big jet of hot steam into it and would bring it right from cold to boiling in nothing flat.  Then the important thing, he’d take about two pounds of coffee, which is quite a lot of coffee, and he’d dump it into this furiously boiling water.  Then he’d take what they called the slice bar, one of the steel pokers that they used for poking up the fire in the firebox, and he’d hang his pail with his coffee makings on one end of the slice bar and he’d ram it right into the white-hot donkey boiler.  He’d hold it there for a while and let it have a good bubble, good boil.  Then he’d set the pail on the donkey deck and he’d grab another of these bags of cold water, drinking water, and he’d pour about two quarts in the coffee; that was to settle it down.  And then the coffee was ready for drinking.”

The loggers would gather around the steam donkey and each grab an empty tobacco can.  “They’d take a dip into the big steaming bucket of coffee and get about a half-pound can of coffee, which is quite a lot.  And then there’d be canned milk, “canned cow” we called it, and sugar in bags and we’d fix our coffee the way we wanted it.”

The loggers would then find a place to sit and open up their nose bags, which is what they called their brown bagged lunches, and settle in for lunch with their sandwiches, pie and coffee.

“It was good coffee.  A man with big feet could walk on it.  It was the best coffee I ever tasted in my life, even if you did have to fish bits of burnt twig and charcoal out of it mcr005156every now and then.  But it had a taste, I think maybe from the quick, really savage boil in the white hot steam that no other coffee anywhere else ever got, so we loved it.”

An Empire Steam Donkey manufactured in 1916 can be seen at the entrance to the Museum at Campbell River.  This fully restored donkey will be fired up for Canada Day at 11:30am and the public is invited to bring their nose bags for a picnic on the Museum grounds, and join us for a sip of coffee in honour of the loggers of the past who once gathered around the steam donkey for this daily ritual.

Sonora and Thurlow Islands Boat Tour with the Museum a Favourite with Guests

PLEASE NOTE: The route for 2017 has changed as the boat departs from Campbell River rather than Kelsey Bay.  For details about the updated route contact

This summer treat yourself to some time on the water with a boat tour with the Museum at Campbell River and Discovery Marine Safaris.  One of our most popular tours is the cruise to Sonora and the Thurlow Islands, with a stop for lunch at Dent Island Lodge.  This cruise departs from Kelsey Bay, where guests are brought by bus from Campbell River, and explores East and West Thurlow Islands, and the northern portion of Sonora Island on board one of Discovery Marine Safaris comfortable boats.2014 Sonora (23)

Located 1.6km from the village of Sayward, the Port of Kelsey Bay was the home of Salmon River Logging in the late 1930s.  Years later it was the location of the southern terminus of the BC Ferries Inside Passage Route.  Visible from Kelsey Bay is Hardwicke Island.  Named by Captain Vancouver after Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, Hardwicke Island has been home to the Bendickson family since the arrival of Norweigan logger H.A. Bendickson in 1918.

The Thurlow Islands were logged with oxen in the 1880s, and mining for gold, copper and iron began in the 1890s.  According to local lore the first steam locomotive used for logging in BC was used on the Thurlow Islands.  A hub of activity at the end of the 1800s was Shoal Bay on the northern shore of East Thurlow.  In 1913 a one-room school house was opened and a government wharf was built.  It was a regular stop for Union Boats and settlers from neighbouring islands would row over to get their mail.

Sonora Island was named after a Spanish exploring vessel, the Sonora, which sailed out of San Blas Mexico in 1775, bound for the Northwest Coast.  The trip was plagued with difficulties, and by the time the ship reached Dixon Entrance only Quadra and Maurelle, the ships officers, were still on their feet.  The two men managed to sail the ship back to Mexico on their own.2014 Sonora (6)

Dent Island Lodge is a favourite lunch spot with guests.  Described as “luxury in the wilderness” they have a reputation for preparing exceptional meals in a spectacular setting.

Explore Telegraph Cove, Sointula and Alert Bay with the Museum at Campbell River

For the more adventurous traveler the Museum at CampbeDSCN0222ll River is offering an overnight trip to explore Telegraph Cove, Sointula and Alert Bay.  The trip departs from Campbell River on Saturday afternoon with a Museum guide joining you right from the beginning to explain points of interest on the trip north.  Guests check into cabins at Telegraph Cove and then are free to explore the area and have dinner.  The cabins themselves are a point of interest – each of them has a story about the previous inhabitants, most of whom were employees of the sawmill that was in operation at Telegraph Cove throughout the 1930s to 1950s.  They have, of course, been restored and are complete with modern conveniences.

DSCN0241Saturday evening is a presentation and tour of the Whale Interpretive Museum at Telegraph Cove. While there, don’t forget to look up to get the full force of just how big a whale is!

Breakfast Sunday morning is at the Seahorse Café, at which point you board a boat to cruise over to Sointula on Malcolm Island.   Sointula was a Finnish settlement and the name means “Place of Harmony” in Finnish.  In 1901 they arrived with the intention of setting up a utopian socialist society.  The utopian ideal may not have thrived, but the settlers remained and have built and maintained a lovely community rich in history and natural splendor. You will visit the lovely Sointula Museum at this stop. You can either catch a ride up to the Museum or take the opportunity to stretch your legs on the short walk over.

IMGP0757The next stop on the boat cruise is Alert Bay on Cormorant Island.  Alert Bay is a remarkable aboriginal cultural destination, rich in history and cultural tradition.  The highlight of this stop is a tour of the U’mista Cultural Centre and the Potlach mask collection on display there. You will also be treated to lunch at the Museum.

Mid-afternoon you will return to Telegraph Cove and board the bus back to Campbell River.

See Spectacular Desolation Sound on a Historic Boat tour with the Museum at Campbell River

Spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife are what most people think of when they hear the name Desolation Sound.  On the Historic Boat Cruise to Desolation Sound with the Mus2009-01-01 04.18.31eum at Campbell River and Discovery Marine Safaris you will encounter all of that, and also have the opportunity to delve into the region’s rich history.

The boat tour leaves Campbell River, cruises past Quadra Island and its iconic lighthouse built in 1898.  Guests will then have the opportunity to view Mitlenatch Island, a wildlife sanctuary that houses the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia.  It is not unusual in this area to see not only birds, but other wildlife such as sea lions and seals.

Soon you’ll be passing Hernando Island, a private island with beautiful sandy beaches, as well as the Twin Islands, which were at one time owned by German royalty. LundHotelBW

Just north of Powell River is the community of Lund.  The trip stops here at the historic Lund Hotel.  Established by the Thulin Brothers in the 1890s, who would then go on to open the Willows Hotel in Campbell River, this hotel has been renovated and provides the ideal stop for lunch.

After lunch the tour heads towards Teakerne Arm and Lewis Channel.  Teakerne Arm is known for the stunning Cassel Falls that is located within Teakerne Arm Provincial Park.  This park is located on West Redonda Island.

After passing through the 2009-01-01 05.10.06north end of Lewis Channel, you will start to return towards Campbell River, passing between Read and Cortes Islands.

Tour the Thurlow Islands with the Museum

One of the boat tours being offered this season is a tour of the Thurlows, with a lunch stop at Blind Channel Resort.  The Thurlow Islands consist of two islands, East Thurlow and West Thurlow.  They owe their early development to logging, mining and fishing.  Logging began on East Thurlow as the stands of timber in the lower mainland were being used up. Companies like Hastings Mill out of Langley, BC were searching for areas to expand into.  As early as 1880, Hastings Mill made Bickley Bay on East Thurlow Island their regional headquarters.  Further development was curtailed, however, when gold was discovered in nearby Shoal Bay, also on East Thurlow.

In 1884, the first stake was claimed and by 1890, the gold rush was on.  This attracted a large number of prospectors and development.  By 1897, there were two stores and two hotels.  That same year Shoal Bay became incorporated as a town and the Union Steamships were stopping by four times a weekThe plans for a township never developed however, DSCN7920and today, all that remains at Shoal Bay is a privately owned lodge and seasonal residences.  Even the famous store pictured here had to be dismantled in 2008.

The government dock is still in good shape and today, pleasure boaters have replaced the working population and the Union Steamships which both left the area in the late 1950s.

The two Thurlows are separated by Mayne Passage, and West Thurlow lies to the northwest. On the south side of the island, location of present day Blind Channel Resort, a sawmill was built in 1910, then by 1918 it disappeared and was replaced by a cannery.

In ’Guide to Blind Channel’, Phil Richter says: “The visitor to the area today, might find it difficult to imagine the activity which existed here within less than onDSCN7938e lifetime.”  He goes on to say that the area attracted people looking for opportunity and an independent way of life.  An independent way of life was what attracted the Richter family to Blind Channel in 1969, and by 1970, they had sold their home in Vancouver and purchased the property and existing store there.  The family consisted of parents Edgar and Annemarie, sons Philip, Alfred and Robert and grandparents William and Therese.  They developed the location into a thriving resort, complete with a first class dining room, general store with a liquor licence and post office; washroom and laundry facilities, and mooring and fuel for boats.

Travellers to the area quickly discover the excellent homemade bread sold in the store and admire the unique artwork created by Annemarie Richter that is comprised of items she collected on local beaches; bits of crockery, jewellery and seashells.

For the tours of the Discovery Islands, the Museum partners with Discovery Marine Safaris, a local wildlife tour operator.  Passengers are taken out on comfortable, heated aluminum boats equipped with toilets.  The four to five hour trips also include a lunch at Blind Channel Resort’s Cedar Post Restaurant.  The restaurant is known for using fresh local ingredients to create delicious meals for their guests.

Experience Bute Inlet on the Homalco Cultural Tour

From the distinctive milky blue glacier fed waters to the vertical shoreline that stretches from sea to sky, a trip to Bute Inlet is not soon forgotten.  The traditional lands of the Homalco First Nations, Bute is one of several long deep fjords whIMG_0002ich cuts into B.C.’s coastal mountain range.  This summer’s schedule of Historic Boat Tours will include three trips to Orford Bay, located midway up this scenic Inlet.

Given the name Bute Inlet in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver it was named after John Stuart, the Third Earl of Bute, whose grandson was serving aboard Vancouver’s boat Discovery. In the late 1880’s Bute seemed to be destined to play an instrumental role in the early history of the Colony of British Columbia.  Entrepreneur Alfred Waddington had ambitious plans, which eventually failed, to build a wagon road from the head of Bute Inlet to the Cariboo goldfields.

On board one of the Discovery Marine Safari vessels this tour sets off from Campbell River’s government wharf and is a chance to visit an area rich in history and known for its spectacular scenery. During the two hour trip to Orford Bay one of the Museum’s historical interpreters is on board to point out sites of historical significance along the way.

Upon reaching Orford Bay passengers are met by members of the Homalco Band paddling their Salish inspired canoe to greet the boat.   The cultural program for the onshore portion of the tour has been developed by Homalco Wildlife Tours and involves a number of Homalco youth interpreters.  From the Homalco Band’s perspective this program is part of an initiative to reconnect their youth with their cultureIMG_0037 and traditional lands. The enthusiasm of the youth involved is one of the many highlights of the onshore activities.

Orford Bay is the site of one of the Homalco’s winter villages. Located midway up Bute Inlet it is one of the few spots in the Inlet that is protected from the Bute winds. The topography of the inlet is such that the wind can be blowing in different directions at the same time on opposite sides of the inlet.  Bute’s outflow winter winds are particularly ferocious and can blow for days at a time at speeds gusting over 100 km/h. The severity and force of the Bute winds is known by the Homalco as Xwoxw.

The first stop after disembarking from the boat is the Orientation Centre which features information about this winter village as well as the history and culture of the Homalco people. Other on-shore   activities include an opportunity to join in a cedar weaving workshop atop one of the bear observation platforms and weather permitting, paddle the canoe in the bay. The visit concludes with a traditional seafood dinner enjoyed outside on a large deck.

Outstanding scenery at every turn, with exceptional hosts, this trip provides a glimpse into Homalco history and culture.


“For the most on the coast, shop at Del’s”

by Erika Anderson, Museum at Campbell River

Before the proliferation of modern fast food restaurants with their “drive-through” came the more social and certainly less rushed version, the “drive-in” restaurant.  An automobile culture was emerging across North America.   At drive-ins, carhops would clip trays on to the car windows and patrons would enjoy their meal in the comfort of their own vehicles.  The drive-in was the place to be.  The first drive-in restaurant opened in 1921 in Dallas, Texas, although it would take time before the idea became wide spread.  In 1951 the concept arrived in Campbell River with the opening of Del’s Drive-In.

Del’s Drive-In

Del’s offered the complete drive-in experience, including carhops in go-go boots and green and white uniforms.  It quickly became a meeting place where teens would come every night with their music blaring.  Del and Betty Pelletier began the restaurant, and then after leasing it to others sold it to Del’s brother and sister-in-law Ernie and Joyce Pelletier in 1960.  “Every weekend in the summer it would be busy busy.  All the kids would come, and they would even have little dances out in the parking lot.  They would get all of their radios going and it was a fun place to be,” recalls Joyce.

When Ernie and Joyce bought the restaurant they were only 28 and 25 years old respectively, and had 2 young girls.  Over the next few years their family grew to 4 kids with the arrival of 2 boys.  “When we first got started if someone had come in with a $50 bill we couldn’t have changed it.  It was scary, I would go home at night and wonder if we were going to make it through another day, and we did.  We hit it off really good with the kids that patronized us.  They would be sitting out on the hoods of their cars and we would be sitting inside talking to them through the window.  Then we would say ‘let’s close up early and go to the dance!’  We would close up at 11 instead of 12, take off and party until 2 in the morning and then be back at it at 9 the next morning, 7 days a week.  It was a very demanding job, but it was fun, we had a lot of really good help.”  Ernie and Joyce’s daughter Yvonne remembers her and her sister helping out with the family business.  “One of the things I remember when sis and I were young , about 5 and 7, we would go down and help out at the restaurant.  There was a big machine that was a potato peeler would scrub potatoes and get peels off, then we would put each potato in the chipper that would make the chips. Everything was fresh. We would also make the hamburger patties. The hamburger was from the butcher in Black Creek. It came in the brown butcher paper. It was defrosted overnight and it would still be partially frozen in the morning and we would freeze our little hands mixing the ingredients in. Then we would use an ice cream scooper and scoop them into hamburger press and put them on cookie sheets in the fridge. It was one of our chores – helping out in the restaurant.  We would also help mom cook the pies and pastries.  We would make cherry, raisin and apple pies.  We would make 20 to 30 pies at a time.  When we got older we would waitress at the shop and help out that way.”  The kids helped with all sorts of jobs, such as prep work and sweeping the lot in the morning.

Joyce remembers clearly one Canada Day early on in in her career as a restauranteur. “The July 1st parade used to come right past our place.  We were there at 7:30 or 8 in the morning chipping chips and blanching and getting ready.  Then everybody came at one time.  They were all saying “Where’s my order! Where’s my order!”  My husband at the time was the cook and I was the waitress. I kept saying “It’s coming! It’s coming!” Finally I was so frustrated I took off my apron and said “I quit” and I went and sat on the curb out the back door.  Next thing I know my husband came and joined me.  So we were sitting out there thinking what do we do now?  We finally got it all under control and everyone got their orders, but there were so many people at one time.  In later years we coordinated it a little better.”

Campbell River local Dave Tabish reminisces about his times cruising Del’s:  “Getting a driver’s license and your first car was a big deal, you had a license 12 hours after you turned 16 and cars were a big part of our lives at that time. Driving around town was a big event, you would cruise through the plaza and go see who was there to talk to, and then drive by Del’s to see who was there.  You always cruised past Del’s.”

Del’s was loved not only by local residents, but also by many of their employees who have fond memories of their times there.  In an article in the Courier-Islander from 1997, Melissa Hudson, nee Skwarchuk, reminisces about working at Del’s.  “It’s like once it gets in your blood you can’t stay away.  I don’t think I have one bad memory of that place and you can’t say that of many jobs.”

Lana, Joyce and Yvonne Pelletier posing with a photo of the Del’s sign

Although not currently on display, the Museum has in it’s collection the orange and blue neon sign, featuring an ice cream cone and the words “Del’s Burgers”.  This sign had replaced an earlier, less ornate sign that read “Del’s Drive-In”.  Recently a photograph of the Del’s Drive-In sign was enlarged so that graduates of Carihi High’s class of 1975 could have their photo taken with it.  According to Dave Tabish for the class of ’75, Del’s was a gathering place where kids would go for lunch or meet up after school.

When asked what made Del’s unique, Joyce notes “We had the best burger I have ever had.  Never had another one to compete with it.”