Charlie Slade was an interesting character around Nakusp and the area, he also donated several personal photo albums to the museum; which depict his younger years, and life in West Demars from 1912 to 1921.

Charlie Slade joined the forestry service in 1929 as Assistant Ranger in Arrowhead, and collected his fair share of stories on the job. Perhaps his most infamous tale was of being attacked by a bear in 1941. Here’s an abridged interview between Charlie Slade and Milton Parent on the incident:

Charlie: “… That’s one thing I’m famous for – losing a footrace with a bear. We used to see quite a few grizzly in the summer. Oh, I never used to think of carrying a gun. I thought a bear was perfect gentleman you know. Leave him alone and he’d leave you alone. I used to see how close I could to them, you know, without scaring them off…”

Milt: “… Especially the Black and the Brown…”

Charlie: “… Oh, you don’t see many of the Brown above the timber line because that is Silvertip country and the Silvertips put the run on them. Well, I had to take some stuff up for the lookout man […], and I couldn’t get anyone else to go that day. Generally, I would hire somebody to backpack you see, but I decided to go myself. Didn’t have much else on the calendar.

I was just over halfway up there. In the huckleberry patch, you know, and I ran into this little tiny cub. Silvertip cub. He wasn’t much bigger than a tomcat. And I guess I scared him and he squealed and momma was about 20 or 30 yards from us behind some alder bush. She come running. I dropped that pack and before it hit the ground, I bet I made 20 yards. But she was too fast for me. But I was lucky, I tripped over something and I fell and she crawled right on top of me. Just about knocked the wind out of me. And then she started chewing on me. All down my back and up here on this arm. Then she walked away, I was just beginning to breathe again and she come back and had another go. She must have seen me move or something, you know. And she grabbed me by the arm and just gave her head a flip like that and I went end over end and I struck my head on a boulder and was kinda dazed for a few seconds. I have a pretty hard head.

But anyway that was it, she went off then. I laid there as still as a little mouse until she was out of sight and out of hearing. Then I picked myself up and started down the hill. I still had the use of my legs, I wasn’t hurt below the hips…

… I got down to Arrowhead and Dan Crawford, the storekeeper there, was quite a friend of mine. He did a first aid job on me and then he took me to Revelstoke. I was in the hospital going on two weeks, I guess. And then they brought me down here to Nakusp and I held down the office the rest of the season…”

Except from Silent Shores & Sunken Ships, Centennial Series Volume 3 (1997). By Milton Parent.

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