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Backward Glances: George Pretty

Pretty Road …. what an appropriate name for a road that provides a panoramic view down to Wood Lake and across to Wrinkly Face. I was saddened to hear that the family for whom it is named lost their patriarch on New Year’s Eve when George Pretty died at age 96. I hadn’t seen George for a number of years but in my mind’s eye he will always be a tall, good-looking man with a ready smile. He was a builder, in every respect of the word.

George came to Lake Country in 1932 as a young man, first settling in Oyama. When he married Neva three years later, my friend Dan Pretty tells me that George renovated an old chicken coop in the Jack Seaton Park area as their first home. Those were hard days, but knowing his ability with tools I suspect it became a very comfortable chicken coop. They lived for a while in Okanagan Centre before George built their family  home on Pretty Road … except there really wasn’t a road there when he started during the mid-40s. I remember that house well as it was up the lane from the “crooked tree”. As a kid I remember Charlie and Winn Christian sharing that road, with the McDonaghs at the north end and Bert and Tiny Ramsay at the south end, just off Robinson Rd, or Robby’s Hill as we know it.

Like most men of that era, he worked at a number of things, including being an orchardist, but I will always remember him as a carpenter and a builder. He built anything and everything, residential and businesses. He was also one of those employed on the Okanagan Lake Bridge in the 1956-1958 era. He and Neva sold their house in 1962 and moved to Oyama, ultimately buying and operating Crystal Waters as a campground.

Their first child was son Wayne, followed by daughters Daryl and Bonnie, with Dan as the little brother. After graduation the kids all moved on, Daryl to Australia for a visit, only to stay on for life, Bonnie to Calgary and the two boys to UBC for their degrees. Dan majored in Recreation but ultimately came home to Lake Country following in his father’s footsteps as a builder of fine, custom homes. Big brother Wayne helped to put Winfield “on the map”, winning a silver medal for Canada in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne rowing in the “Eights”. He went on to win Gold for Canada in the 1958 British Commonwealth Games and to compete in the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. He gave our area national prominence as did one of his classmates, but we’ll save that story for another time.

I feel privileged to have enjoyed a friendship with Dan that has endured since we were kids. I would hike down the hill from our house on OK Centre Road East, through Caldow’s orchard and the thickets above the old spring, to Pretty’s. Then Dan and I would hike down the path through what is now AGM Steel to Lakeshore Inn for our swimming lessons and some play time in the lake. On more than one occasion we’d head home up the path in the afternoon heat, only to stop and look back at the inviting waters, and go back for another swim.

Our Museum Society is attempting to  document our area’s road names, and how they came to be. Each one has a story. This is a brief chronicle of one such story and the family whose name will continue to be a part of our history.

Source: Rich Gibbons. Director. Lake Country Museum Society.

Richard Gibbons’ column Backward Glances was originally published in The Calendar.

See also: Pretty Road and Backward Glances. Pretty Road.