PETERS, Christine




In 1967, Christine Peters of Buffalo, New York, left Ithaca, New York, with Bronx-born Mark Gilman, in her father's old Studebaker Lark and headed to British Columbia with seven hundred dollars. Idealistic and naive, they lived out of their car and tried sleeping one night inside the Stanley Park hollow tree, only to be chased away by police. Desperate for money, she took a teaching job at Big Creek in the Chilcotin. Some 38 years later, having raised four sons in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, mostly as a homesteader without running water, she wrote and self-published her memoir, The Lure of the Chilcotin (Trafford, 2005) from her Tatla Lake cabin west of Williams Lake.

Peters' twelve-year relationship with Mark Gilman, an avant-garde saxophonist with whom she had her first son, Otis, ended in 1977 when she met and cohabited with a trapline operator Rick Stamford, who soon became more widely known as Sage Birchwater, the Chilcotin journalist. They had two sons, Junah and Shiney. Although she fell in love with another man, Simon, who she met at a dance at Tatla Lake three years later (and later cohabited with in 2001), the marriage to Birchwater endured and they home-birthed two children, homesteaded, and amicably parted company in the mid-1980s, thereafter remaining friends. A fourth son, Dylan, was fathered by a neighborhood friend, Don P. He was partially raised in foster homes. Two more relationships failed: Peters met and married a man named George, moved her family to be with him in 100 Mile House, but his drinking and violence sent her back to the Chilcotin. Then she reunited with Simon in Quesnel, but that romance also faltered, so she returned to Tatla Lake. A songwriter who deeply admired Bob Dylan, Christine Peters later found Christ and joined the Reform Party of Canada.

"I believe that not only time heals a broken heart," she writes, "but Jesus heals our wounds and disappointments with His touch."

[BCBW 2006]