Isabella Paulsen, a longtime resident of Telkwa and a familiar figure at the post office until her retirement there in 1982, has died in the Shuswap area at age 97.
Born Isabella Cathcart in Wayburn Sask., she moved to northern British Columbia with her family during the “Dirty Thirties.” Her parents took up a farm near Vanderhoof.
In Prince George, she met Thorvald Paulsen, who had immigrated to Canada from Denmark with his brother Bill in 1924. They first homesteaded in northern Alberta but they, too, had moved to B.C. in search of better economic opportunities during the 1930s.
Thorvald was working as a butter maker when he and Isabella got married and started their family — three daughters, one of whom died within days of her birth but who was never forgotten. Thorvald contracted tuberculosis and spent years in the sanitarium at Tranquille.
When he was released, minus a lung, he moved the family to Telkwa where he had bought a creamery with his partner Bill Kinney. Their Bulkley Valley Creamery butter, wrapped by Thorvald’s daughters Kathrine and Ellen, was well-known in the valley.
Thorvald was an active member of the community, serving as councillor, as a member of the Centennial Committee in 1967, and as chef for many years at the annual Telkwa barbecue. Besides working in the post office, Isabella kept busy with her church, providing meals and visits to some of the old bachelors who had logged, prospected and trapped the north in the early days.
Both took pride in their substantial garden. Thorvald had built a greenhouse for tomatoes and peppers and also had a small collection of fruit trees. On a crab apple he had grafted branches from other species so he was getting five different kinds of apples from the one tree.
When Dairyland built a large plant in Smithers, BC and outbid Thorvald for farmers’ production of milk, he closed Bulkley Valley Creamery and retired. Until his health failed and he was unable to get around much, he used to delight his grandchildren by taking them into the woods to forage, they would bring back a cardboard box full of ink cap mushrooms and Thorvald would cook them up for a mushroom feast.
After he died in 1988, Isabella sold their house on Highway 16 in the middle of Telkwa and bought a two-bedroom unit in a development in Sicamous, her first ever brand-new home. Her move brought her close to her daughter Ellen, who, with her husband Gary Ingham, had moved there from Prince Rupert when Gary retired from a plumbing and heating company. They wanted a place without a lot of rain.
Isabella, who had open-heart surgery and received a new heart valve in her 70s, maintained good physical health but her vision and her memory began to fail her. She passed away at Bastion Place in Salmon Arm on July 13, 2014. She leaves her daughters Kathrine (Barrie) and Ellen (Gary), grandchildren Tony (Carol), Tracy (John), Carol (Randy) and Janice, ten great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. No public service is planned.
Arrangements entrusted to Fischer’s Funeral Services & Crematorium Ltd., Salmon Arm (250) 833-1129. Email condolences and share memories at www.fischersfuneralservices.com.