Visit to grandma’s house a birthday treat
Twenty-first in a series of pioneer profiles
Patricia Kellogg celebrated her 80th birthday recently by returning to her birthplace.
“We were in town shopping and my daughter said ‘Mom, I want to get a picture of you in front of your grandmother’s house.’ I said oh, I’d love it. We went up to take the picture and she walked in!”
There, in the front room of 112 Vernon Street — now the How Shang Shway teahouse — was her family, including a brother and sister, gathered for a surprise party.
Owners Pao Yu Lee and Ming Chin Liu had prepared a luncheon and their daughter played Happy Birthday and other songs on the Chinese zither. They also gave Kellogg a tour, although aside from the staircase and fireplace, she didn’t recognize much. Still, “my grandmother’s aura was overwhelming.”
Her grandmother, Dora Hordal Kellogg, bought the house in 1931, after several years of renting it with husband Albert. Their son Francis (Kelly) and his wife Eileen also moved in, and the following year Pat, the second eldest of four, was born to the couple in an upstairs bedroom — she’s the only one of her siblings born in the house.
Pat moved to Trail with her family when she was 11 or 12, but later returned to Nelson to stay with her grandmother, who built her a basement suite.
“She was an incredible lady,” Pat says. “She was head of the family. My grandfather said she was the most beautiful woman in Nelson. He worshipped her.”
Albert was a driver for West Transfer, while Dora ran a boarding house, managed the Ymir Hotel’s dining room, and was a strong influence on her granddaughter, for whom she provided tailor-made clothes as well as dance, voice, and piano lessons.
(Dora asked Amy Ferguson, conductor of the Nelson boys choir, to take Pat on as a student. Ferguson said she was too busy, but quickly reconsidered when she heard Pat sing.)
Pat attended St. Joseph’s school — receiving special permission at 14 to convert to Catholicism — and sang every Sunday at both the Mary Immaculate Cathedral and United Church. She was often soloist at weddings, funerals, and other special occasions.
She attended Nelson Business College and spent a year as a secretary for a local judge before she married and moved to Hall Siding, then Ymir, where she raised four children.
At 45, she went back to work as secretary to Notre Dame University president Cecil Kaller — a job she applied for only after her daughter dared her. When the university closed, she worked for the Catholic Diocese, then became secretary to the president of David Thompson University Centre.
Out of a job again when DTUC closed, she moved to Victoria, Vancouver, and Kelowna, and held various positions with law firms and government agencies. In February of this year, she returned to the Kootenay to find peace in Salmo.
Her grandmother’s house, meanwhile, stayed in the family, and at various times her aunts Florence, Hazel, and Stella lived there with their husbands. When Pat’s grandmother died, the will stipulated it remain an apartment house, with her grandfather assured a free suite. Ownership finally fell to Stella, the last surviving sibling, who sold it in 1989 and moved to Victoria. It has changed hands several times since, most recently in 2007, and became a teahouse last year.
Pat says returning after so long to what the family still calls The House was a lovely way to celebrate her birthday: “I’ve never been so overwhelmed. I just loved that place.”
Previous installments in this series