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"Dear Betty"





"Dear Betty" -- Letters from Helen Dawe and Betty Youngson, 1973-83

Helen, Billie, their aunt Jean Cook and Betty spent many summer holidays together in Sechelt during the late 1920s into the 1930s playing on Trail Bay beach, fishing on the waters off Trail Bay and cooking their catch or roasting hot dogs on the beach. They roamed the beaches and explored the forest round about freely and safely and in their letters they reminisce with each other about their idyllic childhoods.

Helen Isabel Dawe, 1914-1983, was born in Vancouver, B.C. She was the daughter of Capt. Samuel Dawe and Ada Dawe, whose parents, Thomas John and Sarah Belle Cook, were among the first Caucasian settlers in Sechelt, taking up permanent residence in 1894. Helen and her younger sister Billie spent most of their childhood summers in Sechelt. Helen attended school in Vancouver and the University of British Columbia as well as the University of Toronto. During WW11 she served as a coder in the Royal Canadian Navy in London, England. On her return to Canada, she worked in the Victoria Legislative Library and was head of acquisitions for the Vancouver Public Library until 1965. She moved to Sechelt and, upon retirement in 1972, was an active Sechelt citizen and volunteer and continued her work of collecting documents, photographs, and artifacts about the history of Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast.

Betty Youngson was born in England in 1915. In 1925 the family -- father Bill, his wife Jessie, and Betty -- came to Vancouver. They moved to Sechelt in 1926. In Sechelt, Bill worked as caretaker for prominent Vancouver businessman Bryce Fleck at his summer home, Opeongo Lodge, on Trail Bay, next to Helen Dawe's grandparents. Jessie served as housekeeper and cook. In 1935 they built Rockwood Lodge and a cottage on a lot bought from T.J. Cook. They operated it as a very successful guest house from 1936 until 1946. Betty went to school in Sechelt and after finishing high school in Vancouver, worked at Rockwood Lodge for a year. In 1937 she became secretary for Major Douglas Sutherland who was the Sunshine Coast relief officer for a few years during the depression before becoming the provincial policeman. Betty was married twice, first to Harold Ingram, who died young, and then to Gordon Moffatt. She lived in logging camps on Vancouver Island before settling in Vancouver. Throughout her married life she telephoned and corresponded regularly with Helen and her sister Billie. She died in 2001 and is buried in St. Hilda's Cemetery, Sechelt, along with her parents and her second husband, Gordon.


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