Annie Wilson (nee Harry) 1880 - 1972
Annie Harry was the daughter of Homalco Chief George Harry and Theresa Bob of Sliammon. Born in 1880, before the Homalco had established the community of Church House, Annie may have lived in Muushkin on Sonora Island as a child. In 1894, at the age of 14, she married Moses Wilson, son of Mary and George Wilson. The couple moved to Church House where they had 18 children. Two of Annie’s daughters, Katherine and Mary, married into the Hackett family. Annie’s oldest son, Alex married basket maker Irene Wilson. Two other sons were Albert and Charlie, who married Nora Gallagher of Sliammon.
Annie’s husband Moses died in 1933 while at the Homathco River reserve at the head of Bute Inlet. After her marriage to Moses ended Annie lived for 20 years in Redonda Bay. Her partner was a non-native man named Charlie Hedgebach. Annie’s grand-daughters Daisy (Hackett) Hill and her sister Florence, who lived with Annie for a time, remembers that she was always busy and always working on baskets. The baskets that grand-daughter Daisy remembers were big. “They had fabric straps tied to them for carrying and we used to pick apples into them”. Florence remembers that Annie had clam shacks and smoke houses at different reserves throughout the territories. “She made huge baskets that she put the clams she dug into. She used to visit all the reserves to harvest food. She kept the tradition of sharing food going and went all the way down to Chehalis to share different foods that she put up. The called her the River Woman. She had a little putt putt boat that she used to tow another boat with the food. She towed it to the Stolo Nation”.
Annie, sometimes helped by her son, harvested all her own basketry materials. “She knew exactly where to get the plants that she needed”. In July and August when she was home from residential school, grand-daughter Florence Hackett used to help Annie dig cedar roots. “She made her own tools. She used a pitchfork and a small shovel. She would gently put the pitchfork into the ground to loosen the roots before pulling them”. The roots were placed into big tin tubs of water to soak for a day or two. Then they were taken out and dried. Annie wetted the roots again when working on them. To decorate her baskets Annie sometimes used corn husk which she would dry on the clothes line.
Annie was getting on in years when her second partner died. She moved to Sliammon to be close to her son Charlie who built her a cabin near the reserve. Annie could not live on reserve because she had somehow lost her 'native' status, perhaps when her husband Moses enfranchised, perhaps because of her common-law relationship with Charlie Hedgebach. The cabin did not have running water or electricity, but her son helped her get wood and Annie got by. “Even at the age of 70 and 80 she still had a garden. She had a cupboard on the outside of her cabin that was always full of food that she had grown or harvested and put up herself”.
Annie died in 1972. She is buried in Sliammon.