My uncle, Hjalmar Peterson, was born October 13, 1918. In 1945, at the age of 26 he began to keep a diary. He wrote about the goings on of the farm, the orchards, the construction equipment, who came to visit on Sundays, and which card party or dances he attended. Most days he recorded the high and low temperature and, if applicable, the precipitation and whether it was rain or snow. He often noted local deaths and births, and major national or world events.

The Peterson farm has been located on 35th Street NE, just east of North Broadview (30th Street NE) since Hjalmar's father Edward, along with his brother and two friends each received 10 acres of land on The Limit, as the area was known, as payment for clearing land for Mr. Greenwood. The four friends arrived in Salmon Arm on November 11, 1911 and found work land clearing and logging. Ed married Mina Andersson in 1914 and they raised eight children in Salmon Arm.

Hjalmar was in hospital for his 80th birthday in 1998, awaiting transport to Vancouver for heart surgery. He told my sister Norma that if he did not survive his surgery, he wanted his diaries to go to the museum, but he wanted them read first and to have any sensitive information crossed out. Norma promised she would see that his wishes were honored. Sadly, Uncle Hjalmar passed away in Vancouver on Oct. 23. Norma was subsequently given his diaries,

Life can be busy when you own a business, have children, build a house, create a massive garden and volunteer on the board of R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum, so Norma never had time to read all the diaries. Several years ago, I asked her if I could have a couple of them to read. She gave me the 1960's since much of that decade was 'my time' and she felt I could remember many of the things Hjalmar wrote about. My life also interrupted the project and it wasn't until early this year that I finished the decade.

I asked Norma if I could have some more diaries beginning with the earliest ones. I told her that if I was going to read them I may as well transcribe them for the museum, so they did not have to find the volunteer hours to undertake such a massive project. I started with the 1945 diary on January 28.

Then, COVID-19 hit and I could not travel as I usually do, and all my meetings and church were cancelled so that gave me plenty of time to work on the diaries.

As I write this, I have just completed 1964; that is twenty years of diaries. I only have 33 years to go. Hjalmar's last entry was made October 3, 1998. So far, I have spent 475 hours typing and reviewing the transcripts. It takes quite a while to read an entry. He uses no punctuation, writes in almost point form with capital letters on words indiscriminately. Hjalmar also tries to put a lot of information into the five lines allowed for each day in his little five-year diaries. My magnifying glass has never been used so much and my interpretation skills are often sorely taxed. Many are the times I plop the diary in my husband's lap and say, "Do you have any idea what this says?"

I have come to realize though that it is a good project for a family member to do rather than volunteers who did not know Hjalmar, or the family, or many of the people mentioned in the diaries. I have personal knowledge of many items and many names, so it helps a great deal with the work.

I make no promises as to when I will be finished but for now the project fills a few hours of my day, gives me a trip down memory lane, and some fresh insights into the life and history of my family.

Guest Blogger Janet Hanna

Notes on photos:
1. Featured photograph of Hjalmar Peterson taken in 1946.

2. Hjalmar's 80th birthday - Oct 13, 1998 - in Salmon Arm General Hospital.

3. An example of Hjalmar's not so easy to read penmanship.

4. All the diaries. The smaller booklets on the right are his 'Trip Diaries." Details of all his vacations were also recorded.