Skip to content

That guy Bob knows everyone in Houston

Tom visits with long-time Bulkley Valley farmer and poet Bob Hamblin
Bob and Leslie Hamblin at their home in Houston. (Tom Roper photo)

This guy Bob says he knows everyone in Houston and I have no doubt about that.

Bob (Robert) Hamblin was born in Nelson B.C. The family had a dairy farm with 52 milkers. After regulations prevented the sale of raw milk, Bob’s father, Fred, decided it was time to change occupations. In 1955, Fred and his family headed north for Kitimat.

Fred had a job plan for the Alcan project. The bus stopped in Houston for a rest. Once Fred saw the little Bulkley Valley and the quaint little community of Houston, he said to the family, this is where we can grow some roots.

And they did, six brothers and one sister found a school to further their education, Fred saw an opportunity to build a sawmill and get the kids to work, and Marjorie, his wife, found a friendly community where she could grow her garden and keep the family well fed.

Bob was 15 at the time and well on his way to becoming a Jack of all trades and a master of some. It wasn’t too long in town before he noticed a beautiful young lady by the name of Leslie Hagman. After a year or two and a bit of hard work courting he was able to convince Leslie he would be her his partner for the next 62 years and more.

Leslie’s father, Harold Hagman owned the hotel in town and she completed her schooling at Silverthorne where Grades 1-12 were taught.

Bob made it as far as Grade 10 and decided it was going to be more fun working than sitting at a school desk. And it was, Buck River Timber, Bulkley Valley Sawmill and several years running equipment trained him up for working with his brothers on their own enterprise, Hamblin Construction.

The company was a big part of preparing Granisle to develop into its own community.

Bob and Leslie spent five years out in the Prince George area. He was working as a serviceman and then on to their own show with a Cat and skidder. Always working and always supporting their family, certainly, there were many tough times but also many good times.

Along the trail, the family grew to three children — two boys and a girl — and through the years Bob and Leslie have become proud grandparents of six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. That is an amazing accomplishment contributing to the future of the little Bulkley Valley.

Bob has always been an overactive guy, wanting to be part of whatever is going on. He developed an interest in mining, drilling and blasting through his friendship with E.G. Bellicini and still has active claims out in the Sibola area near Huckleberry mine with Dan and Bill Merkley to this day.

Let’s not forget that Bob was also the town coroner for 14 years.

Bob has always considered himself a wordsmith and even found time to write two poetry books. They are a compilation of life stories exposing his sensitive side to his friends and readers. That takes a certain level of courage.

Today Leslie and Bob still enjoy their view of the Palisades from their home along Highway 16.

They have had time to travel abit through Cuba, Hawaii, and Alberta but firmly believe Houston is their home and they will never leave.

“You know Bob, you have led a very interesting life and with your poetry-writing skills it might be time to compile a book,” I commented.

“You know Tom, you might be right,” concluded Bob. “Who knows what the future will bring.”