Thanks to The Sechelt Library, Museum Department, they have a lot of info on Bergie and Minnie the Solberg sisters, here is some of it.
Rosella Leslie has written a book: Bergliot Solberg–The Cougar Lady of Sechelt Inlet, that is soon to be published. Contact Rosella for more info on the book. I am looking forward to get my copy, and to get it signed.
I was in Norway when she passed away, but bless her soul, I liked her.
Many years ago there was an article about Bergie in a Norwegian Magazine, I will try to find it.
The origional oil painting at the Sechelt museum, one day I will bring a better camera and get a better picture. Oddvin Vedo
The: ” Cougar-Lady ” was the call signal on the radio phone (VHF) for “Bergie”
All her dogs were named “Bush”, except a small puppy “Bushlingen”
Her unheated cabin had no power, Bergie lived until 80 with firewood and candles.
She had several dogs, but only one was allowed in to the cabin.
She milked her goats, and had real free range chicks.
She had and run a trapline for over 50 years.
Bergie loved to play the guitar and sing Johnny Cash hits.
She often spent days in the bush tracking bears or cougars.
She ones (or more) slept for two days in the carcass of a bear, waiting for the logging crew boat to come back. I heard two versions of the story.
I would not want to arm wrestle her.
She killed about 18 – 20 cougars, and unknown amount of black bears.
From oil painting at Sechelt Museum. Same, I will take a better picture one day. Oddvin
Bergie and Minnie, born to a young Norwegian homestead family at Sandy Hook in Sechelt Inlet, about 1927 Their real names are Bergliot and Minnie Solberg. I have not seen or talked to them for over 15 years.
I meet Bergie many times, and Minnie only a few times. Minnie lived with her logger husband at Deserted Bay, up Jervis Inlet, and I met her once in Sechelt Inlet, waiting for a better tide to run the Skookumchuck. Her husband had a stroke, and in their 14′ aluminum boat, she had run her husband from Jervis to Sechelt to get him to the hospital.
This is one of four pictures I have left, one of Borgie’s goats in the bush up Sechelt inlet. She had a few milking goats, and enjoyed good healthy milk and meat.
Bergie was a well known figure in Sechelt, often seen carrying a 20 l. gas can in each hand, her hands and arms the size of a loggers arms, because that is what she did, working in logging camps. She used her 17′ boat with an outboard to run up and down the inlets, she knows the area better than anybody. For hunting more than fishing. There was no scope on the 30/30 gun I saw on board her open boat.
She had a cabin on the south side, at the mouth of Carlson Creek. I will enclose a Google map.
She calles herself “Cougar-Lady”. And rightfully so. I doubt she knows how many she have shot, but it is many. And she was an excellent bear hunter. She could track a bear or a cougar, without dogs, that is a skill. But most of all, she had patience and survival skills in the bush, that nobody could challenge.
She always had bearskins for sale, or some other skins for sale. It was not so important to her about hunting seasons and permits. She had a few run in with the Wildlife people. A modern Davy Crocket.
The time I was a Government employee, I could not purchase any illegal hides, but I must admit, I did send people to her that could and did.
One day I met her at the dock at The Lighthouse Pub, she had a fresh cougar hide, killed that morning. She had spotted the cougar while running up the inlet with her boat a few days earlier, laying on a branch of a large tree. The cougar could have made its way to find her goats, thus endangering her livestock. That was her story. Stalking the cougar for two days, she got him: Cougar Lady.
A major French Weekly Magazine had once made a cover story of her, I have seen it. She had often and many stories in the local papers.
A producer with CBC, Cam Cathgart, asked me if I could set up an appointment for a film interview, for x-mas 1992 ? It was for a popular program about older people, The Golden Years ? or something ? I asked Bergie, and she liked that idea, and I made the trip up to visit her on 24th. Dec. mid day with the reporter and a photographer / sound man.
A visit hard to forget. I had never visited her property, only waved when passing bay. It did not look particularly inviting, and she was a good shot. It is easy to see from a boat. An overgrown cabin, smoke from a metal chimney, a few dogs, a dozen chickens, a few goats. An old wooden boat, homebuilt by her father, anchored, how it floats is a wonder. On the beach I counter 28 whole or parts of boats, canoes and other floating devices, but none that could be used, all wrecked, not even useful as a dock, or tie up a boat to. That was two large floating logs tied together, and then tied to a tree. I pulled my boat carefully as close as I dared, and secured it to a branch.
The dogs were shy, they did not bark much, and did not dare to come and meet us. Bergie did, she showed us around, some milking sheds for her goats, a freshwater creek, a motorcycle her father had owned, late war model, an old car that had never made it up the hill again.
The reporter walked around with his microphone, and the photographer filmed. She knew all the boat remains on the beach, and explained some of them. A real beachcomber. She asked us in. The cabin was smaller that it looked, a screened bedroom, a kitchen nook, and the entry and main area between a front and a back door. Shue Fein style, the wind could blow right trough, and the spirits did not get trapped inside. There was not room for all four in the kitchen nook, the photographer and me held back. One of the dogs was allowed in, he knew his place, grabbed the captain’s chair at the table, and sat there, head high.
Around the wall were nails or spikes into the woodwork, serving as hangers, some work clothing, and all kind of collectors items. I found one nail in the kitchen very interesting. Every, not every year , calendars she had ever gotten, was there, a few postcards, eagle feathers, some telephone numbers, rubber bands and I did not identify everything.
It was Christmas Eve, and the reporter asked Bergie about a Christmas tree ? No, she had never had one in her whole life. I saw the two small sisters for me, never ever had a Christmas tree, or a present. They had never celebrated Christmas she said.
Full of some kind og guilt I made a trip down to the boat, there must be something useful as a present. All I could find was a large tin can of fish balls, Norwegian Fish balls, colourful label, that would have to do. I brought it back up to the cabin and presented the box from Heroy Canning to Bergie as a Christmas gift, and she loved it. The Norwegian flag on the can, did it. We took some nice pictures.
Many hours of film, and pictures. Except the highlite, the photographer was changing film, and the scene became more relaxed. Borgie sat at the kitchenette table, the dog in the captains chair, the reporter Cam Cathcart, a well known face from CBC, standing, doing the interview. Bergie grabbed an old guitar from a nail on the wall, it missed a few strings, the others had not been tuned lately. She asked if we would hear some Johnny Cash ? How could we say no.
I swear this is true, but it did not come on film, but we all saw it, Borgie took it all naturally, she liked to entertain. The photographer had most problems holding his laughter back. As Bergie took the guitar, the dog actually turned around, as away from her. As she started singing, and hitting the few strings, the dog brought his front paws up, lowered his head, and covered his ears, tightly. No lies, you had to see it to believe it. He had obviously heard her play before. We had not, and clapped carefully, hoping she did not have many more songs on the repertoire, she had many. And, in a logging camp after a few beer, with a guitar full of strings, she would be a hit.
I saw the TV program later, it is good. I will try to get a link to it here.
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