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LIVING HERE: Cyril Christensen is a third generation Bella Coola Valley resident

Christensen said he’s never thought about living anywhere else
Cyril Christensen was born in Bella Coola as with his father, son and grandson. (Photo submitted)

Cyril Christensen has called the Bella Coola Valley home for most of his life.

The 88-year-old was born there, as was his father.

His grandfather Adolph Christensen, originally from Norway, came to the area from Minnesota in wanting to explore a new place.”

“I haven’t found anywhere else I’d sooner be,” Cyril said. “It’s quiet and we have very little crime to speak of.”

He loves the weather, describing it as “really good,” and not getting “really severe in any way.”

“Although we did get pretty hot this summer, but I think everyone was feeling that.”

Cyril was the only child of his parents Mike and Gertrude, who was known as Truda.

The family lived in the town site of Bella Coola and spent about one year in Ocean Falls and another six or eight years at Rivers Inlet where Mike worked in the canneries.

“I did my schooling by correspondence because there was no school at Rivers Inlet,” Cyril recalled.

In 1946 the family moved back to Bella Coola full-time, although Cyril had been boarding with friends there to go to school for two years already.

Through his working years he owned his own gravel and logging businesses.

When the Freedom Road was pushed through to connect Bella Coola to Highway 20, Cyril did some of the finishing work.

“We went up and put in culverts, bridges and gravelling and things like that,” he said, adding he was in his early 20s at time.

Cyril is in a large group historical photograph depicting the road’s opening in 1953, along with his father and grandfather.

“My dad was one of the ones who was instrumental in promoting it and getting it started.”

Before the road it was a three-day trip up through the Atnarko Valley and onto Precipice, he said.

He recalled an incident where a couple was driving down the Bella Coola Hill. All of a sudden the wife told her husband to stop the car, telling him she was going to walk down, and she did.

“There were a lot of strange things like that,” Cyril said.

Today he lives east of Hagensborg on an acre and a quarter which gives him a “little bit of elbow room.”

It’s where he has lived since 1977 and raised his family.

His first wife Marjorie was originally from Haida Gwaii. Her family - the Minakers - had moved to Bella Coola in 1953.

Marjorie worked as an agent for B.C. Airlines, the first company to fly into Bella Coola.

She died in 1999 and he later remarried Betty Parr, also a widow.

“We had six years together before she died three years ago,” he said of Betty.

His daughter Lorna lives in Kitimat, oldest son Derek in Bella Coola and youngest son Gavin in Qualicum Beach.

“They are kind of spread around,” Cyril added.

He used to fish the local rivers all the time and loved it, but today does not have that opportunity.

When people bring him fish to eat he appreciates it, although said it is not as easy to get fish as it was in the past.

From his window he looks right at Mt. Nusatsum, which he said is ‘beautiful.’

“We’ve got some real great scenery all right,” he said.

This is a new series for Coast Mountain News where we tell stories about local residents. If you know someone who would be nice to feature, please email with your suggestions or call 250-392-2331.

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Cyril Christensen in 1962 with his wife Marjorie and their children baby Gavin, Lorna and Derek. (Photo submitted)

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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