In 1961 MacLean’s, a Canadian news magazine, published John Gray’s article titled “How Seven Families Really Got Away from it All.” The article introduced Canadians and other readers of MacLean’s to the Quaker community of Argenta in the west Kootenay region of British Columbia. A group of American Quakers settled in the Argenta region in the early 1950s. Friends continue to make up a significant proportion of Argenta’s population today. CFHA member June Pollard has family connections to the Argenta community and has provided a brief introduction to the MacLean’s article. We hope our readers will enjoy reading Gray’s article and encountering Argenta, an important part of Quaker history in Canada.
A Contextual Introduction to Argenta Quakers
I grew up with great respect for my Uncle George and Aunt Mary Pollard who left California with the Stevensons to start a Quaker community in Argenta, in the interior of British Columbia. My understanding was that they left California because they did not want their tax dollars going to war activities in the United States. Uncle George was my father’s oldest brother; his mother was Agnes Henderson and father was Albert Pollard. They were members of the Conservative Friends’ Norwich Meeting in Southern Ontario.
Uncle George and Aunt Mary built their own log cabin. They actually built it twice since it burned down once in a forest fire. They grew their own vegetables, and were active members of the Friends Meeting. They raised their four children—Ted, Edith, Dick, and Donald—in Argenta. Edith became principal of the Friends Boarding School during its last years.
This community has been a shining example for me as I have lived much of my adult life in intentional communities, and the Quaker process has provided guidance for that. The Quaker process involves discernment for decision-making, listening with an open heart and mind to the views of others, listening for one’s own inner voice, sitting in silence when there is disagreement, and coming to unity. This is different from consensus and from taking a vote. When living in community I have experienced the value of the Quaker process. While it may take more time, in the end everyone in the community is committed wholeheartedly to the decision.
John Gray’s article can be read here: https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1961/10/7/how-seven-families-really-got-away-from-it-all