The home is completed in 1956, and bought by Manuel and Alcina Quintela, a Portuguese couple who had newly moved to Williams Lake. They begin a sprawling garden to establish their new but modest home.
”I have a faint memory of someone saying long ago that the lady from the Potato House used to get called across the alley to the old Famous Cafe to cook when it got really busy.” – Dell Wheeler, 2009
1976 Alcina works at the Chilcotin Inn in Williams Lake for 10 years from 1976 to 1986 as a chambermaid. Alcina begins to make her own wine and is said to have invited few close friends over for a social.
Manuel first came to Canada 1959 to work for the CN train “gang”. He built and maintained track in Jasper, Alberta. The following year he returned to Portugal where he married his partner Alcina. They soon returned to Canada and Manuel began working for the PGE (later called the BC Rail, and more recently CN Rail) at Lone Butte, B.C. Manuel and Alcina Quintela moved to the community of Williams Lake on Sept. 10, 1960. Their home at 49 Borland Street is the oldest building left standing in what was then the heart of the community. The thriving businesses surrounding the house were the Maple Leaf Hotel, The Ranch Hotel, the provincial courthouse, and the PGE station house (now the Station House Gallery).
For nearly 50 years they cultivated crops of vegetables on their 1/3 of an acre property. Their garden included potatoes, broadbeans, corn, onions, tomatoes, squash, and salad greens. The only stretch of the property that wasn’t ridden with crops was the front of the house beneath the large apple tree. The Quintella’s dedication to working the land by hand was a normalcy to their life in Portugal. However, the Quintella family’s flourishing garden was something to be idealized in Central British Columbia, a rare gem that caught the community’s eye. It is estimated that they grew enough potatoes for themselves, and sold approximately 20 to 100-pound sacks of potatoes.
Manuel’s work repairing and building track took him north to Fort St. John and South to Vancouver, meanwhile Alcina kept the “home fires burning”. She worked as a cook for the Famous Cafe, chambermaid in the Maple Leaf Hotel and the Chilcotin Inn, and looked after their garden when Manuel was at work.