Biographies Home

Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Biographies and Obituaries

PETERS, Frank George

Frank George Peters died Nov. 1, 2007. He was born Dec. 9, 1911 to Gerhard and Susanna Peters in Donskaya, Russia. The family immigrated to Canada, and Frank accepted Jesus as Saviour in Yarrow, B.C. where he was baptized and became an active member of the Yarrow MB Church.

He married Christina Derksen Feb. 26, 1933. After her death in 1981, Frank married Liese Regier, an immigrant from Paraguay, in 1982. They later joined Clearbrook MB Church in Abbotsford, where they sang in the choir and Frank served as treasurer. He is remembered as a loving father, stepfather and husband.

Predeceased by son George Frank in 1960; wife Christina 1981; wife Liese in 2004; he is mourned by son Robert Jacob; stepchildren Neta Neufeld, George Neufeld, Eric Neufeld, Susie Tocros, Mika Kliewer, and Ernest Neufeld. The burial was Nov. 8 at Yarrow Cemetery.

Community Portrait - F.G. Peters
Chilliwack Progress -May 16, 1965 - p 8 & 9

Yarrow's Indefatigable "Mr. Red Cross"

As far as F. G. Peters of Lumsden Read is concerned it just took an active part in a house to house canvass for funds to make him realize how very fortunate he was. And certainty he has had more than his share of heartaches.
Over the years he has become a regular canvasser for Canadian Red Cross, so much so that he is referred to as "Mr. Red Cross" out in Yarrow. And he has had his quota of embarrassing moments as some people refuse to donate yet "treat" him to a lecture on the wrongs of the world.
Frank George Peters was born in Russia and lived there long enough to realize he is now living in the land of plenty. He recalled that when he left Russia in 1924 there was just one doctor for every 14 villages. Farming was done on a community basis and education was a matter of personal preference.

Mr. Peters was in grade six when he left Russia, He said it was the village rule that all students learn to speak Russian and German and have one hour of religious study first thing in the morning, His grandfather appreciated the advantages of knowledge and was apparently the only one in the village able to afford, and interested enough to read, a newspaper to keep in touch with world affairs.

He has few memories of the revolution in Russia but still has vivid memories of the great 1920-21 famine. He said that if the American Quakers during Herbert Hoover's presidency of the United States had not fed them for the two years they would have starved to death. "I can still remember going to the next village each month to get our allotment of seven staple articles of food and taking them home in a little cart," he said. About two years ago he heard a program on TV entitled "We Fed Our Enemies" as narrated by Walter Cronkite which referred to the feeding of the Russians. "After hearing the program I wrote a belated thank you letter to CBS. It was the least I could do," he said, "I never expected to hear from them but I did and they told me they were sending my letter on to Herbert Hoover."
He left Russia with his family under the CPR-sponsored immigration to Canada when "McKenzie King opened the doors." It took them three years to get permission to leave Russia. The immigrants travelled by box car across Russia, and crossed the Atlantic from England aboard the Empress of Scot- land. A train was backed up to the ship and the immigrants loaded aboard for many parts of Canada.

The Peters family went to Hepburn, Sask., unable to speak a word of English or understand the customs of their adopted country but determined they were going to be Canadians. Within two years Frank Peters learned the language. Perhaps it was the hard way but he is grateful to his first teacher, Peter H. Andres, now teaching in Chilliwack Senior Secondary School, for not permitting him to speak in Russian or German in the class room.
"I sat at the back of the class and gradually picked up the words with help from Mr. Andres. Although our studies had been different in Russia, they were still similar so all I had to learn was the language." He had to leave school to help support his family but in 1931 "I rode a freight car to the coast as everyone else was doing," he explained. In 1940 and 1941 he worked in the ship yards in Vancouver. With this exception he has lived in this district since 1931, He was with Air Raid Precaution in North Vancouver and Aircraft Detection Corps in this district during the war.

For eight years he worked in the hop yards on contract when his wages averaged out at 11 cents an hour. He later drove a truck for 50 cents an hour, working during the winter for a lumber company when his take house pay was lumber to build a house.

"It took me all summer to pay the grocery and other bills I had to let go during the winter," he laughed. "Money was a rare commodity. Distance to work meant nothing as long as you found something to do," he added. Many times he had to ride his bicycle some seven miles to and from work.
He later opened a store on his property at the corner of Lumsden and Hopedale Roads and grew raspberries for overseas sales. But in 1948, when he thought he had finally had it made, England decided she didn't want any more berries and he was left with 15 tons on his hands. He had to close his store when many of his customers failed to pay their bills as they too were caught by the loss of the market.
"When I was finished, I had lost everything, and, I owed $1,800 cash money," he related.
He had one thing left which he didn't want and that was an ulcer.
He worked long hours repairing the dykes after the 1948 flood and by Christmas he had paid off his debts but there had been no treats for his family that year.
'But It was a good Christmas for we had paid off all our debts, declared his wife.
In 1950 he began to work for Fraser Valley Milk Plant in Sardis and in 1960 built the new house they had planned to do in 1948.
It was when the world seemed darkest that he was asked to canvass for Red Cross and later for cancer campaigns. 'He realized than as he saw the troubles that filled other homes that he at least had his health. "It has broadened my out- look on life," he declared. "I decided than that I would help or give service to humanity in worse shape than I was." He was elected the representative of Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church to the Chilliwack branch of Canadian Red Cross and is now vice-president of the branch. Recently he attended a regional meeting in Agassiz when retiring B.C. Commissioner S. L. Hewar, Vancouver, was a guest. Mr. Peters said the speaker recalled much of the history of Red  
Cross. He reminded them that 16,000,000 parcels were sent overseas during the war to the soldiers and that $140,000 was spent in this district by the Red Cross during the 1948 flood plus administering the $422,000 collected across the country at a cost of less than 5 percent.

"He told us that last year 824,000 bottles of blood was collected in Canada. In other countries it would cost $40 to $50 a pint. At that rate the Red cross saved the Canadian taxpayer the equivalent of $40,000,000 in one year," Mr. Peters remarked

Mr. Peters is greatly concerned about the gap between junior and senior Red Cross groups and hopes that young married women or organizations will offer to do the work in their homes.
Mr. Peters was married on February 28, 1933, in Yarrow. His wife, the former Christina Derksen, is not an active worker of Red Cross because of ill health but she approves of her husband's involvement. They had two boys. The loss of their elder son George five years ago through illness was a great blow. Their younger son Bob is now working in Vancouver.

Frank Peters wishes there was an apprentice system for students just out of high school. He wonders how employers can expect them to have experience if they won't apprentice them - no matter what type of job or length of apprenticeship. He also wishes the young people would be content to start with a lower wage until they have knowledge before demanding higher wages. Over the years he has learned there is no point in fighting progress. Methods and machinery have im-- proved; younger people want to assume control. He feels it is inevitable and there is no point in trying to stop it. Meantime he will keep as useful as he can, helping the less fortunate. - F. P.


      Copyright © Elmer G. Wiens:   EgwaldTM Web Services       All Rights Reserved.    Inquiries