“I’ve got two five-gallon pails outside my greenhouse, and the one I use all the time is in good shape. The one I never use, the bottom’s rusted out of it.
I figure, if I’m gonna sit, the bottom’s gonna rust outta me too.”
To avoid this problem, Ross Williams keeps himself busy, and at 80 years old, he enjoys spending his afternoons and evenings doing different woodworking projects.
A project he recently completed, after working on it from time to time over a week or so, was a replica of the Nation River Bridge, as it was in 1962, made out of birch wood.
It is a version of the second Nation River Bridge, the first bridge across the Nation River was built in 1932, according to Williams, and his grandfather Silas Gilbert was up working on its construction for three months cutting timbers for the structure.
He worked with some other well-know figures from the time, Charlie English and Earl Buck, and was gone long enough to get the surprise upon his return of two twin grandsons, Ross and his brother Jim Williams.
For 30 years the original bridge crossed the river, but being made of wood, it eventually became rotten and fell into the Nation River in 1962.
At that time, Ross Williams went up to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and went up to work on the second bridge.
The bridge and the area must have made an impression on him, as he has made a couple of replicas now of the structure.
One he made 25 years ago and gave to a neighbour of his at the time. He has since found out the children still have the structure.
The second one is the one he made recently, and he took it to show some different people in Vanderhoof, and people there had asked to keep the model.
“I said you guys aren’t getting it,” recounted Williams. He wanted the bridge to remain in Fort St. James because of the proximity of the community to the Nation River and it’s significance in the area.
He has since donated it to the District of Fort St. James.
Williams has lived in Vanderhoof most of his life, leaving to work at different times, but always coming back and he’s now retired there with his wife Louis Williams.