Memories of Sid Webber
Told by Fred Jacobs to Colleen Palumbo in an interview in the winter of January 2000.
For context Fred Jacobs was a well-known trapper and hunter in the area and was being asked to relay any information that he had about Sid, so the information is in little snippets.
One day while he was trapping up Cummins for beaver, he heard a grouse drumming up in the bush so he made the little dog stay with the pack and took his 22 pistol and got down on his hands and knees to crawl through the alder brush because he could see better. The grouse would be a good change from beaver meat. And heard something off to my right. Sid stopped and looked around, there was a big grizzly standing on his back legs looking down at him. It had a beaver carcass in its mouth as if to say where the hell do you think you’re going.
He used to take the train to Beavermouth and camp there alongside the river overnight and start out at daybreak and then head down the river and would make camp at the head of Surprise Rapids that night. Start out again at first light and would be at the foot of Kinbasket Lake that night. Sometimes he started the journey at Donald. One spring Side went out “tapping” (poaching) muskrats out south in what was known as Piggot’s slough. He camped there for a few days, just down behind the riverbank so that no one would see the smoke from the campfire from the road. He caught a big bunch muscrats, then came tot own, took the canoe and went around to pickup the girlfriend and headed for Beavermouth on the train. He went down the Beaver and across the Columbia to an old trappers cabin well back in the bush that you couldn’t see from the river. He pulled the canoe up in the bush out of sight. He camped there for a few days, fleshed and stretched the rat hides and when they were all finished and ready to go he went back to Beavermouth and shipped the pelts from there. Then came back to town. The game warden, Neil Cameron had been down by Piggot’s slough looking for Sid but he left no marks on the bank and he couldn’t see the cabin from the river and he didn’t know the cabin was in there so he had gone right by. A few days after Sid got back to town, Cameron came down to see him and wanted to know where he had been. His campsite at Piggot’s slough had been found and reported and Cameron said “I know very well Webber that you done it but where are the furs?” “Have you got a search warrant for this place? But you won’t need it anyways, you’re too late, they’re gone already.”
In the late 30’s and 40’s beaver were closed for trapping but Sid had some beaver on hoops up in the attic of his garage. Ervie Robinson was just a young fellow then and there was a ladder going up in to the trap door and Sid happened to see the kid go up there. So he went up and told him to down out of there, it was time to go home. Soon as the kid was out of sight, Sid ran up the ladder and grabbed the pelts and threw them in the back of his truck. He went down to the river and off in the bush and hung them all up in a tree. He then went back home and was having coffee and a cigarette when Cameron and the cop came along to search his house. Webber asked them “Have you got a search warrant,” and he said “No” so Sid told him he wouldn’t need it anyway. “You can go look if you want but there’s nothing there, it’s already gone.” Webber, you old bugger, I’ll catch you yet one of these days.” When it came time to ship the furs he took them to Donald and shipped them from there, and put a note in with them that said “I’ll be up to settle with you later.” When Sid was ready to leave he had a big suitcase and a small overnight case. While he was standing at the train station Cameron and the cop came along and wanted to search his luggage. He asked them again, “Do you have a search warrant?” The answer was still “No.” But Webber told him it was okay, “You go ahead.” So he grabbed the big suitcase and whipped the lid opened and all that was inside was a necktie. Cameron looked really mad then and said “You old bastard, I’ll get you yet.”
As long as Sid thought you were looking after your trapline and you treated him with respect, which is all any man wants he’d never bother you, But if you let your line go, he’d “help” you out. If you did him wrong you’d better watch out.
Fred’s own experience with Sid: We were down at Kinbasket Lake doing a little fishing and looking for bear and we took the boat and went to the mouth of the Windy River and on the way up we saw some traps that some trapper had set for beaver and he had the beaver castor hanging on a stick. Sid said “I’ll bet that old beaver when he came along must have thought that the last one along was pissing pretty high.” Normally you put it on the ground.
Related to Fred from his father about Sid. When they were building the steel bridge at the top of the “Big Bend Highway” there was a boatman, he was to sit on the bank and watch in case someone fell in. If they did fall in it was his job to go out there and pick them up. One day a fellow did fall in and instead of the boatman going out there to pick him up, he froze, unable to move. Sid took off down the bridge, out on the bank on the run, grabbed a pole that was laying on the bank on the way by. The end of the canoe was sitting up on the bank, he didn’t even stop to push the boat off. He hit the middle of the boat on the run and went over and picked the guy up using the pole. From that day forward Sid was the boatman and said it was the easiest job he’d ever had.
Sid kept a diary and would say “I’ll see you in the spring” and he would give a date, he maybe a day early but never a day late because he kept track of the days in his diaries. He stayed out there all through the winter by himself with his little dog. But after he got married he’d kiss his wife goodbye and he’d set a date before Christmas to be home. Come in and spend Christmas and New Years with the family, visit his friends and take the train back to Donald and go across the Wait-A-Bit to an old trappers cabin across the river and spend the night heading for Kinbasket Lake before daylight the next morning.
One time when he was coming in for Christmas he stopped and picked up old Foster Parker, another old trapper he came in and spend Christmas and New Years with the family. After New Years they decided they’d head back out so they took the train to Donald, spent the night in the cabin at Wait-A-Bit. The next morning, they got up to leave before daybreak and a heavy snowstorm had hit through the night and it was still snowing when they got up. Three feet had fallen during the night. It took the best part of the day to get back to Donald through the snow. They took the train back home and then in turned to rain. It rained for two days. Then it quit and it all cleared off. Sid kept his eye on the thermometer and went down to get old Parker and set back out for Donald. It was -40 the next morning when they got up. There was a real hard crust on the snow and they didn’t even need their snowshoes so they tied them to the toboggan. They travelled all day long without snowshoes because the crust was so hard and they made a lot of miles that day.
One winter on the way back in Dick Milum and his brother were trapping out there somewhere on the Bend and he stopped to bring them into town with him. They got really impatient staying behind Sid and said “We’d better go faster than this if we are going to make that cabin by tonight.” Sid just stopped, stepped at the side and let them go. The last time he saw them they were going around a bend and the snow was just flying. Sid didn’t see them for a long time. Then finally he came around a bend and could see them up ahead. It wasn’t too long until he caught up with them. “We’d better get going if we’re going to make the cabin by tonight,” said Sid. By the time they got to the cabin the young men were played out and just flopped down on the bunk and didn’t even get up for supper that night. Sid had to sleep on the floor as they had the bunk. He got up the next morning, had breakfast and told them that they had better get up if they were going with him. They were so tired that they wanted to lay there and sleep. They didn’t go so fast the next day and when Sid told them something after that they listened.
Sid used to trap bear out on the Big Bend and there was a grizzly bear going back and forth across the road where the men were working on the highway construction. He would set at night after work and go back good and early in the morning before the crew was there to go pick up the trap. But the boss asked Sid to stay in camp and work for that day so he didn’t get a chance to go back and get the trap. So, after a while the boss comes back in and said “Webb, come and get that damn bear out of that trap so I can get my men back to work.” There was a small spruce that had fallen onto the edge of the road where the bear had been crossing so when I got out there the crew was all lined up on the other side of the road. The bear would take off down the bank on the run and bend the top of the small tree way over and then he’d lose his footing and the tree would bend back and drag him with it. The old bear was just bellering all the time and he was a big one!
The Golden Star – May 28, 1969
Sidney Julius Webber, long time resident of the Golden district, and a well know trapper and guide, has been reported missing in the Kinbasket Lake area on the Big Bend Highway.
Mica Creek detachment of the RCMP have organized a search party but no further information was available at press time.
Sidney Julius Webber was born in 21 July, 1892 in Duluth, St Louis, Minnesota to Ernest Webber and Elizabeth Louisa Mussack. He had three brothers Leonard, Arthur and Jethroe and two sisters Ruth and Marie.
He married Ethel Victoria McCarthy on 17 May 1934 in Golden, BC Canada and they had one son William Sidney Lawrence “Larry” Webber who was born in 1936.