British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1991

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Volume 24, No. 2
Spring 1991
ISSN 0045-2963
Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
"Alpine Club Summer Camps" MEMBER SOCIETIES
***** ********
Member Societies and their secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct address for their society is up-to-date.
Please send any change to both the Treasurer and the Editor at the addresses inside the back cover. The Annual Return
as at October 31st should include telephone numbers for contact.
Members' dues for the year 1988/89 were paid by the following Member Societies:
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
Burnaby Historical Society, 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5G 3T6
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
District 69 Historical Society, P.O. Box 3014, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2S0
East Kootenay Historical Association, RO. Box 74, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 4H6
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1 HO
Gulf Islands Branch - BCHF c/o Wilma J. Cross, Secretary, R.R.#1 Pender Island, B.C. VON 2M0
Kootenay Lake Historical Society, Box 537, Kaslo, B.C. VOG 1 MO
Kootenay Museum & Historical Society, 402 Anderson Street, Nelson, B.C. V1L 3Y3
Ladysmith Historical Society, Box 11, Ladysmith, B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, Box 501, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
M.S.A. Museum Society, 2313 Ware Street, Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 3C6
Nanaimo Historical Society, P.O. Box 933, Station 'A', Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
North Shore Historical Society, 623 East 10th Street, North Vancouver, B.C. V7L 2E9
North Shuswap Historical Society, P.O. Box 22, Celista, B.C. VOE 1 LO
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum and Archives, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society, c/o Mrs. Cora Skipsey, RO. Box 352, Qualicum Beach, B.C. VOR 2T0
Saltspring Island Historical Society, RO. Box 705, Ganges, B.C. VOS 1E0
Sidney and North Saanich Historical Society, P.O. Box 2404, Sidney, B.C. V8L 3Y3
Silvery Slocan Historical Society, P.O. Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG 1S0
Trail Historical Society, RO. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
Victoria Historical Society, c/o P. Odgers, 3075 Southdowne Road, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6H3
Affiliated Groups
B.C. Museum of Mining, P.O. Box 155, Britannia Beach, B.C. VON 1J0
City of White Rock Museum Archives Society, 1030 Martin Street, White Rock, B.C. V4B 5E3
Fort Steele Heritage Park, Fort Steele, B.C. VOB 1N0
The Hallmark Society, 207 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2K8
Nanaimo Centennial Museum Society, 100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2X1
Second Class registration number 4447
Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E,
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5. A Charitable Society recognized under the Income Tax Act.
Subscriptions: Institutional, $16.00 per year; Individual (non-members), $10.00; (to addresses outside Canada) $14.00.
Financiaiiy assisted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture, through the British
Columbia Heritage Trust and British Columbia Lotteries.
Back issues of the British Columbia Historical News are available in microform from Micromedia Ltd., 158 Pearl St., Toronto,
Ontario M5H1L3- Micromedia also publishes the Canadian Magazine Index and the Canadian Business Index.
Indexed in the Canadian Periodical Index. BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORICAL NEWS
Volume 24, No. 2        Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation Spring -1991
A Letters to the Editor Column appears
on page 31 of this issue. We invite our
readers to mail In their comments,
addendums or questions when these
The Summer 1991 issue will be on the
theme "B.C.'s Coast and Islands". We
have received contributions describing
people and events up and down our
western area. Some surprizing facts are
revealed about happenings of years ago in
settings on the Sunshine Coast, Queen
Charlottes, Salt Spring, Savary, Kuper,
Harbiedown and Vancouver Islands. The
theme was chosen to tie in with the 1991
Conference being held in Duncan May
9-12. [Deadline for registration is May 1st.
Act now if you wish to attend. Obtain a
registration packet from the secretary of
your local historical society, or telephone
746-6612 (days) or 748-4650.]
Despite guidelines suggesting that
there is an optimum number of words for
items in this magazine, we have decided to
share with you pieces that would be
spoiled if condensed. "Passport to
Paradise" started out as a small project
and expanded to take almost a year of
research. We thank Mary Andrews, and
other contributors, for volunteering their
time and effort for the benefit of readers of
the B.C. Historical News.
Naomi Miiier
Cover Credits
"A.O. Wheeler and Two Ladies at Yoho
Camp, 1906". This is a picture taken at the
very first Alpine Club of Canada's Summer
Camps. The garb of the ladies shown here
and in "Glissaders" on page 24 provoke
amusement and amazement today.
Similarly the males with white shirts and
ties, and frequently a pipe in mouth,
presented a contrast to iater hikers and
Photo Courtesy of: Whyte Museum of the
Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta.
A Moon-lighting Adventure
by Frank Lightbody
Maillardville and Millside
by Sharon LeClair
The Vancouver Bach Choir Celebrates Sixty Years
by Thelma Reid Lower
Passport to Paradise:
The Alpine Club of Canada Summer Camps
by Mary Andrews
Kamloops' Heroes
by Tracey Devitt
Letters to the Editor
News & Notes
Book Shelf
40 Years On The Yukon Telegraph
Review by George R Newell
Timothy Eaton and the Rise of His Department Store
Review by Robert A. J. McDonald
Assu of Cape Mudge:
Recollections of a Coastal Indian Chief
Review by Lynn Maranda
People of Harrison
Review by Jim Bowman
Printed in Canada by Kootenay Kwik Print - Cranbrook, B.C.
Manuscripts and correspondence for the editor are to be sent to PO. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Correspondence regarding subscriptions are to be directed to the subscription secretary (see inside back cover)
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 A Moon-lighting Adventure
by Frank Lightbody
It seems everybody is searching
for something completely different to
do for at least a part of each year -
something exciting, venturesome,
something attention absorbing. If
this should also provide opportunity
for financial gain - so much the
better. For many the answer is
being found in the moon-lighting of
holiday time. When I decided to try
it, too, little did I anticipate the very
real perils that the first of my
moon-lighting experiences was
going to produce.
I had inherited, or so I thought, a
natural inclination toward the sea.
It had been with me ever since those
early years when I raced bare-footed
along the reddish sandy caked
shore of the Bay of Fundy trying to
outrun that cresting, tumbling wave
- the tidal bore. Moreover, my
uncles had all been sea-captains,
building their sturdy wooden sailing
vessels at Parsborro, Nova Scotia,
and carrying their cargoes world
Little wonder then that one
summer I suggested to a friend,
"J.D.G.", that we join in the
purchase of a gill-netter, go to
Rivers Inlet three hundred miles
north of Vancouver, and make a
fortune harvesting salmon.
Finding a boat for sale was no
problem. For $1800 we acquired
the Melissa, a twenty-eight footer
which we were told had already
been up the coast many summers
and which should easily make the
trip one more time. The deal also
included two nets each one hundred
fathoms long, plus floats and lead
That we might enjoy and lavish
attention on our Melissa we selected
a small wharf near a sand-bar at
the mouth of the Fraser River,
where we tied her up. Diligently we
scrubbed the little cabin, touched up
the white paint, greased moving
gears of the drum and by beaching
the boat on the sand-bar examined
the hull at low tide. Below the
water-line we found seams in need
of caulking and a soft spot over
which we nailed an eighteen inch
square of lead sheathing. Thinking
we were now reasonably ship-shape
and sea-worthy we stocked the
larder with abundant provisions
planning to set forth come
tomorrow's dawn.
It was Thursday, June 28th, when
two eager beavers rushed through
the first breakfast aboard. As Jack
had previously operated a lumber
camp boat he naturally fitted into
the role of Chief Engineer. With two
hands he gripped the heavy iron
fly-wheel of our old five-horse-power
Fairbanks-Morse inboard engine
and spun it around. There came a
spit, a cough and then silence. On
his third or fourth effort there came
a steady rhythmical
"chug-chug-chug". In high spirits I
cast off, took the wheel and steered
for the Fraser River mouth and the
Gulf of Georgia.
Evidence of Jack's expertise
became evident sooner than
expected. We were just entering the
open waters when he called, "Turn
around, Frank, we have a leaking
gasket!" Back again at the little
wharf bolts were drawn and the
faulty gasket removed. I was
delegated to find the nearest marine
shop, secure a replacement and
return pronto.
Off I went to the riverside district
of Marpole where I made inquiry
from place to place. Just nobody
had that size and shape of gasket.
Finally one helpful suggestion came
forth: "Go to the head-office of the
company at the north end of the
Cambie bridge. They will help you
if anybody can."
His words did not sound too
promising but I took the bus to
down town Vancouver where I soon
located a large concrete building
marked 'Fairbanks-Morse Ltd.'
Through a floor display of beautiful
shining new engines I made my
way up to the office counter and
there explained my problem. The
clerk was sympathetic as he
returned from a search in the parts
room, "I am sorry but we have
nothing to match this gasket,
However, I'll ask our manager."
Presently there appeared a quite
elderly white-haired gentleman.
"Can you tell me the year or model
number of the engine?" he asked.
"I really do not know," I replied,
"but it is the one with the heavy
iron fly-wheel which you grip and
try to spin in order to start the
That was no help. In his opinion
it must be an older engine probably
before his time.
"There may be one solution," he
added. "Take the old gasket to a
shipyard. They will copy the design
and make one or two new for you."
A little deflated, off I trundled to a
shipyard on False Creek. The good
spirit of co-operation with which our
predicament was received surprised
me. I was positively cheered by the
promise that two would be ready by
noon the following day. As I hurried
back to report progress to Jack I
thought about engine gaskets being
one problem my uncle did not have.
It was around mid-afternoon,
Friday, that once again we put forth
to sea. A stiff westerly was
blowing. For two days we chugged
along passing Texada Island,
Powell River, Lund, finally reaching
the entrance to the dangerous
Yuculta tidal rapids by Stuart
Island. There we joined some eight
other fish-boats patiently waiting
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 for slacker water, the only time
most gill-netters dared venture
We entered in single-file some fifty
yards apart. As the channel
narrowed and the sides became
sheer rock the current raced faster
and faster. The wisdom of moving
as a pack soon became apparent.
Those with the less powerful motors
seemed to be at the mercy of the
dark boiling swirling whirlpools.
Several of the boats were unable to
hold any kind of a straight course
as the powerful currents swung
them all over the place. Only one
boat stalled! Immediately two
others battled to close in on his
sides, tossed lines and towed him
slowly forward until safer waters
were reached.
Our only damage was a cabin
window. Through it I poked an
elbow as I fought at one particularly
hazardous moment to keep from
crashing against the rocks. The
drama was a little too exciting for
comfort but the Melissa had made it
through without help.
Once past the Yucultas each boat
chose its own route and individual
speed. For us progress was slow.
We were still less than half way to
Rivers Inlet when old faithful
embarked on a miss-firing program.
Was it dirty gas, a plugged line, a
short-circuit in the wiring or simply
age? We moved closer to shore
where we spotted a fisherman
anchored in a small bay. Jack
explained our trouble to him. He
came aboard and as he inspected
our engine his attention settled on a
small brass cup, the only shining,
clean looking visible part. He
removed the cap and on peering
inside exclaimed, "Look, there's no
oil in there, it's dry!"
Jack poured in a small quantity of
good oil, we thanked him heartily
and were off.
For an hour or so there seemed to
be some improvement then the
problem started all over again. As
we struggled along the wilderness
coast a small logging operation
appeared in view.    Once more we
sought advice. Once more the
shining brass cup became the focus
of attention. This expert unscrewed
the cap and looking inside, "You've
got oil in there. Wipe out the oil
and you'll be O.K." We did and
believe it or not for a while there
was improvement. To this day I do
not know which man was right.
That night, however, we carefully
examined and cleaned all electrical
Our route now took us away from
the mainland side into the more
open waters of Johnstone Strait.
Jack continued to hover over the
engine lest it cough, spit, and stop!
The weather was rapidly becoming
nasty - a gale was brewing. And
thus we were caught in an area of
the Strait known for heavy seas and
when a gale blows, beware!
Barely raising his head from the
engine vigil Jack called, "Try to roll
over them."
"Roll over them?" I muttered, "how
in thunder can I roll over them when
they are coming from all directions
at the same time?" Probably I was
too excited and too busy hanging
onto the wheel with one hand and
the cabin frame with the other to get
scared or think about getting
sea-sick. We pitched and tossed
and rolled. Waves splashed across
the deck from one direction then
another. In the distance a larger
boat which had passed by earlier,
slowed almost to a stop waiting, I
hoped, to see if we would make it!
It must have been the better part of
an hour that we battled the storm
seeming to get exactly nowhere.
And what a relief it was when
finally I could detect a narrowing of
the gap between us and the coast
line of Vancouver Island where lay
Kelsey Bay.
Any port in a storm' might well
have been our slogan. The floating
wharves and sea-craft along them
were quite unsheltered from wind
and sea. Everything appeared to be
moving, bobbing up and down,
bumping around, rocking forward
and back. We tried to get some rest
but I doubt if even an old salt could
have slept in that confusion of
movement and melody of a hundred
discordant noises. Wharf planking
creaked and groaned - old tires used
as bumpers squeaked and squealed
when boats rubbed forth and back
along them, gasoline cans, the
dangling ends of ropes and chains -
everything loose, added its personal
note to the general din.
By morning the Strait had calmed
some and it was deemed safe to
head north once more. Late
afternoon brought us to Alert Bay,
wet. A new valve was added to the
old-fashion pump for greater
efficiency in reducing the bilge. A
short walk took us to the village
centre, the hotel, where we visited
"Melissa and escorts"
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 briefly the popular basement
parlour. Although crowded, it was
obviously a happy gathering place,
lively and loud!
Up early we pushed away from
the long boom of logs to which we
were tied. The Queen Charlotte
Strait, however, was running a
heavy sea, so we anchored for the
night near a lighthouse in Christie
Pass. An hour's run the following
morning brought us into Cascade
Harbour where we joined some eight
boats impatiently waiting several
days for better weather in order to
make the trip across from this
northern tip of Vancouver Island to
the mainland and to Rivers Inlet.
As weather reports were
favourable there was general
agreement that we should leave at
dawn. One fisherman who had
already made three starts and
turned back decided to await a
calmer sea. As we prepared for this
last lap there was revealed, once
again that genuine feeling of
concern which fishermen, total
strangers more often than not, have
for each other whenever hazardous
conditions prevail. The slower three
of us were to go first.
While the open ocean was not as
rough as Johnstone Strait it was no
millpond. Big heavy rollers with
deep wide troughs prevailed. White
caps topped the rollers. Two boats
faltered en route. We were one! As
soon as this was observed another
boat manoeuvred to each side,
lashed on, then all three moved
forward as one until the plugged
gas line or whatever on the faltering
motor was repaired. It took about
nine hours, steady going, before the
entrance to Rivers Inlet came into
view. Only then did those boats
with the powerful motors open up
and disappear ahead into the long
The following four or five days
were spent rushing about anxiously
and impatiently getting ready to
fish. Rarely the sun broke through.
Then the dampness disappeared,
the green mantle of dense forest
stood clear and beautiful on the
mountain slopes. Soaring and
swooping majestically around the
tops of the highest older trees
eagles broke the silence with their
eerie cries, it was a vividly real
portrayal of Tennyson's lines:
He clasps the crag with hooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
A few miles up the Rivers Inlet we
located a small wharf with some
marine services. There we had a
net-guard installed. This metal
frame around the propeller enabled
us to pass across another's net
without cutting it and thus avoiding
wrathful arraignment for failure to
observe a basic courtesy on the
fishing grounds. A second hoisting
of the stern was done to reinforce
the caulking. Next the net was
bluestoned and put back on the
It was the evening of July ninth
that we made our first set. Our
net-end lantern was lighted, made
secure on a small wooden float then
lowered over the stern and as the
boat moved forward the net rolled
out. I stood beside the moving net
in the well back of the drum to
watch over and to carry out the
various jobs associated with the
fishing. Dressed in a long yellow
oil-skin coat, hip rubber boots, pink
loose rubber gloves and a rain-proof
hat I soon learned what it was all
As the boat gained speed faster
and faster the net slid past me into
the water - that is, until something
caught on the drum. Then suddenly
everything - net, lead-line, and
float-line, jerked taut. I pulled and
tugged in vain at the lead-line
which somehow became entangled
in the nylon mesh of the net.
Meanwhile, everything in the water
was dragged along. My fingers
were bruised right through the
gloves but still intact as I yelled,
"Stop" and Jack pulled the lever
inside the cabin to release the
engine clutch. This operation was
to be repeated time after time.
Finally we had all the net out
beautifully in a line with the floats
bobbing around and the faint glow of
the lantern far back.
Next came the relaxation period as
we waited for salmon to hook their
heads through the net. As I made
my way back to the cabin I noticed
that my new oil-skin jacket was
flapping loose. All three lower
buttons were gone!
About an hour later our lantern
seemed to be coming closer and
closer to the boat. We figured the
net was drifting into a circle so we
started the drum to roll in the net
and begin counting sockeye. The
result was a zero! Out the net went
again to remain there until dawn.
This time there were seven beautiful
salmon. We decided to fish around
the clock especially since we were
told our net was the wrong colour for
the area. Catches of two, five,
eleven, seven, forty and forty-one
followed, each fish weighing about
five pounds.
It was typical drizzly Rivers Inlet
weather when we moved across the
water nearer to Goose Bay. We set
out the net. Both of us being short
on sleep dozed off! About midnight
we were wakened by waves
splashing on the rocky shore.
Rushing into action we started the
engine and proceeded to haul in the
net much of which now appeared
caught up on the rocks. It was full
of fish: some salmon, many cod!
The Company boat which called
daily to pick up our catch did not
accept cod. Perhaps it was just as
well because to extricate each cod
from the net it was necessary to cut
it out. What a totally miserable job!
The needle sharp spines punctured
my gloves and painfully pricked my
fingers. Finally I settled for a pair
of pliers and a butcher knife.
Needless to say we ate cod several
meals in a row. It was delicious -
more especially so the first one!
Our net suffered several bad tears
when pulled free from the rocks and
a few more cuts when the butcher
knife slipped. The bottom of the
boat, however, became drier and
drier as the surgery progressed.   As
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 I worked on each cod under the one
light at the stern, Jack stood by the
cabin in semi-darkness. There he
was constantly turning to rattle the
pump handle up and down. Finally
it dawned on me why he was
repeatedly coughing, choking,
belching and turning to work the
pump again and again. Watching
cod surgery for an hour would be
difficult for anybody to stomach!
Saturday we tied up at a small
wharf and strung out the net. In
vain we sought to master the tricky
fisherman's method of net repair.
One way or another we managed to
patch up a few tears before the cold
night closed in.
To keep warm we found it
necessary to wear more and more
clothing. In addition to inner
garments each was wearing two
pair of trousers, a sweater, a
woollen jacket, an oil skin coat and
at times an over all overcoat.
As the days and nights sped by
our catches of salmon waxed and
waned. Sometimes there were fifty
in the net; sometimes ten. Once a
pod of blackfish passed so close I
could almost reach out and touch
one. To a passing boat I called,
"Will these things bother us?"
Back came the answer, "You'll find
out!"    It was a little scary not
knowing much about these graceful
monsters of the deep but on they
swam, churning up and down,
completely minding their own
The atmosphere grew somewhat
depressing, no sunshine, few fish,
little sleep, monotonous canned
meals. We decided to drop into
Ducanby at the channel entrance.
There we enjoyed our first
"eating-out-dinner". It was there
also that Jack reminded me of his
commitment to be home the coming
week!! But we were still waiting
the so-called "big run" when almost
everybody makes large catches.
Since we had come such a long way
it seemed a great pity not to be
fishing there at the peak of the
season. One of us should stay. I
My emotions were a little
confused. I was not exactly
overjoyed to find myself suddenly
promoted to Captain, Chief
Engineer, as well as ship's Surgeon
and net man. However, if resolution
meant anything I would see it
through come what may. After
doing everything he could do to
prepare me for the lonely command,
Jack secured passage on a Packer
leaving for Vancouver and was gone.
The Melissa really needed two
people aboard in order to keep
operating safely. Somebody should
be on the night net watch while the
other slept; somebody was needed
in the cabin to disengage the clutch
when the net snagged on the drum.
The only solution I had if the net
caught was to run along the narrow
gunnel down the steps into the
cabin, pull the lever disengaging the
drum, run back to the stern,
untangle the lead line, run back to
the cabin down the steps, throw in
the clutch, then back to the rolling
drum, ad infinitum. In rubber boots
over slippery wet decking I tried to
move as sure-footedly as possible.
Although a poor swimmer I felt I
could make it to the net, there to
hang on, should I slide overboard.
Each day brought some new
adventure or some new problem. I
deemed it best to stay well inside
the inlet away from those
net-tearing sharks reported active
around the entrance. Fishing was
fair, the top catch being sixty
salmon in one set. Once the net
was out, most of the time I sat
leaning against an outside corner of
the cabin, the better to keep an eye
on things.
So it was that one misty morning
just at daybreak while seated at my
sentinal post I  heard a  quiet
"A warning shot and
the salmon thief faded
into the mist"
B.C. Historical News • Spring 91 paddling coming closer. Presently I
made out a man in a small dinghy
or canoe moving stealthily along the
net.  His purpose soon became clear.
At each float which was lower in
the water indicating a salmon there
he paused, raised the net, and
removed the fish! My first impulse
was to yell at him but a better idea
surfaced. I picked up the small rifle,
inserted a bullet and let fly well
above his head. The effect was
instantaneous. Back into the fog he
vanished. I could scarcely believe
that which I had just witnessed.
It was also just as another
morning dawned that my most
satisfying experience occurred. For
a change it became my opportunity
to help somebody else. Faintly I
heard a distant voice, apparently
calling for help. Somebody was
standing on the deck of the only
other boat in sight frantically
waving his arms. I got the
message. I rolled the net and I
hastened to his aid. When near
enough to be heard I shouted, "Are
you having trouble?"
"Our stove exploded," came the
excited reply. "We put out the fire
but the engine will not start."
"We were very lucky - not badly
burned but the cabin is a wife feels terrible about
it all!"
As I tossed a tow-line I observed
his good lady not stopping to nurse
her own bruises - just very busy
trying to clean up the mess.
"Yes, lucky indeed," I figured,
"very close to being tragic."
Happy to have a chance to help,
for two hours I towed them up the
channel to a wharf where assistance
was available.
It was while there that I caught
up on the latest news. For Rivers
Inlet the run was reported to be
dropping off and that the place to be
now was the mouth of the Fraser
River, back in home territory. Five
boats were readying to leave at
midnight.  I made it six.
One fisherman knew a short-cut to
the open sea rather than going
down the wider inlet itself, then
south. He explained that at one
point in this passage there was a
big rock where it would be necessary
to veer right. I was to go second in
line. Once we were in this
narrowest of channels tall trees
along the steep sides added to the
darkness leaving only the barest
shimmer of silver to mark the route.
Occasionally I could see the light on
the lead boat. Constantly I watched
for the designated "big rock". At
some point about half way through I
heard a distinct scraping noise
ahead. I veered right. Up went the
bow; down went the stern as the
Melissa ground to a stop.
My first thought was for those
coming behind. I grabbed a lantern
and wildly swinging it sideways
yelled, "Stop! Stop!" For the next
few minutes there was utter
confusion. Loud, highly descriptive
fisherman language, echoed around
in that dark wilderness as engines
were thrown into reverse and each
skipper battled to avoid heavy
collision. When the shouting,
splashing and banging finally
settled down, one boat moved closer
behind me, tossed a rope and pulled
full speed astern. The Melissa
would not budge!
"We must all wait for the tide," he
called, as he backed away to join the
other three boats.
Cautiously I examined my
position. Fickle Fortuna must have
been favoring me for about eight feet
of the stern end were still balancing
in the water keeping the boat
upright. Moreover? the top of the big
rock was reasonably flat and
covered with many layers of
slippery, spongy sea-weed thus
preventing injury to the bottom.
The tide was obviously low but was
it still going out? If so the boat
could soon roll on its side, slip off
the rock, fill and sink. From the
decking I secured four stout boards.
Very very gingerly I leaned over the
side, dug one end of each board deep
into the sea-weed on top of the rock
and braced the other end against
the boat. Thus secured I sat quietly
in a central spot until the oncoming
tide covered the rock and refloated
the full twenty-eight feet. We were
still in the blackness of night when
all set forth once again, Fraser River
My thoughts turned to wondering
if 'salmon fever' were akin to 'gold
fever' after a reported new discovery
Clearly a stampede was on to get
south for the expected big run there.
Through darkness and daylight
along the coast I chugged, fortunate
to have left one lone slower boat as
company and in communication
from time to time. It was operated
by a Swedish father and son who
knew every navigation marker,
every lighthouse, every treacherous
reef along the way.
When we tied up for our last little
meal, they treated me to
home-canned moose meat. It was
positively delicious! Then as we
shook hands and embarked on the
last lap, I felt deeply complimented
by their suggestion we join up for
the trip north next year!!!
I was not, however, home free yet,
not by a long shot. As we travelled
that evening across the Gulf of
Georgia I became alarmed at the
brightness of their light about a mile
ahead. Could they be on fire? There
was no visible smoke. I watched
and wondered and watched.
Finally it dawned on me. It was a
chemical action in the water around
their whirling propeller which
produced an amazing fiery
spectacle, phosphorescence.
Next came an awareness that the
old Fairbanks-Morse was running
slower than normal. A quick
inspection indicated the cause could
be low oil. To stop was to lose sight
of the guiding light getting farther
and farther ahead. It was then I
made a decision of questionable
wisdom: I resolved to add oil while
the motor was running.
Off came the oilcap. So far no
problem. I dumped in a quantity of
oil. The resulting strong back-fired
blast sprayed oil over the engine,
onto the ceiling above and over me.
With breakneck speed I grabbed the
nearest item, my best sweater and
sought to mop the oil off the hot
engine lest fire start.   Next I wiped
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
6 the ceiling and finally my face.
Recovering from the latest shock I
mused, "Ignorance may be bliss but
only if one escapes becoming a
casualty, or a statistic." With the
situation finally remedied I took
time to check my bearings, There
was no other gill-netter in sight!
To enter the Fraser River for the
very first time, in darkness, past
that jetty of rocks would be folly. I
decided to await daylight and to
help pass the time let out a short
portion of net. About one hour and
exactly one sockeye later I had
drifted within talking distance of
another fisherman who said he was
heading in.
To be safely and snuggly tied up
on the Fraser River at long last was
the answer to "Happiness is".... I
must have slept until noon. Then I
hastened to locate a telephone and
call the dear ones at home. Next I
gave Jack a ring and I am sure he
was equally relieved to learn I had
made it.
Never again shall I question the
high price of salmon in the market
place! A newspaper advertisement
readily located a buyer for the
Melissa, another would-be fisherman
keen to moonlight during his
holidays. We broke even; well,
almost! But as for moonlighting
experience, exciting, absorbing and
different, I'd like to go again
tomorrow - even though it is now
forty seven years later!
Author's Postscript:
Regulations governing commercial
gill-net fishing to-day are radically
different. Fifty years ago, anybody
with a boat and gear could get a
licence for a couple of dollars. Now
the licence goes with the boat at
around three thousand dollars per
foot-length. For the Melissa that
would mean three thousand times
twenty-eight! The issuance of
licences is carefully controlled and
limited. At times, it is said, they
are even willed from father to son or
daughter going with the boat.
Historically, stories are still told of
the big runs in 1897 and in 1901,
the "every fourth year" principle
applying. While the big runs are
remotely predictable they are still
precarious, affected seriously by
floods (as in 1955), by heat waves
(as in 1963), by pollutants, and a
multitude of varying problems which
the government and concerned
agencies strive assiduously to
eliminate. The opening of the new
Hell's Gate Fishway, for example,
was a major factor in the catch for
1951 increasing 500%. While the
Fraser river operates as a leading
route to the spawning grounds there
are some 1300 spawning streams to
watch over. From a publication by
the Department of Fisheries and
Oceans one learns of the global
effort required to protect and
perpetuate the industry. This
concern has become even greater
with the advent of Asian ocean
drift-nets up to thirty miles in
The author has Uved in B.C since 1910 and
now makes his home in North Vancouver.
Jack Godfrey and Frank Lightbody were
School Principals in Vancouver. Jack passed
away some years ago.
Illustrations drawn by Ernest Harris.
"Melissa ground to a stop"
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 MaillardviUe and Millside
by Sharon LeClair
MaillardviUe and Fraser Mills
were multicultural communities
dominated by French Canadians
and European Canadians, most of
whom were employed by Fraser
Mills. The development of this
unique area has been documented
from the late 1800's to the mid
1960's.i This paper presents an
assessment of everyday life
considering the aspects of racial and
class distinctions within the
communities, based on interviews
with numerous people who lived in
these townsites between 1920 and
1960. History of the area before
1920 should assist in providing a
sense of how these communities
evolved. Most of the figures, dates
and information were from the book
Early Days at Fraser Mills by J.R.
Stewart. 2
In the summer of 1890 the Mill,
which was and still is situated on
the Fraser River, northeast of New
Westminster, began operation as
Ross McLaren Mills, and continued
as such until 1902. On March 5th,
1903, new owners took over the Mill
and formed Fraser River Sawmills
Ltd. A major goal of the new
owners was to reduce the numbers
of Asiatic labourers employed at the
Mill. This was done in view of the
growing racial problems in the
Province at the time. In 1906,
however, one of the Directors of the
company expressed concern that
they had 120 Hindus working at
the Mill, (which is estimated to be
about one-third of the total labourers
at the Mill at the time), and they
did not know what they would do
without them because there was a
general shortage of labourers in the
Province. In fact, the labour supply
became acute in 1907, and the Mill
was threatening closure. In that
same year, the Mill was taken over
by an investment syndicate and the
assets of the Fraser River Sawmill
were transferred to the Canadian
Lumber Company. They sought out
ways to attract new workers. It
was decided that management
would recruit French Canadians
from the lumbering villages in
Quebec. These men were chosen
because of their knowledge of the
industry, their capability for long,
hard hours of work, and because
many possessed specific skills. The
racial tensions evidenced in the
Vancouver Riot of 1907 s served to
support and reaffirm the Mill's
policy of reducing the numbers of
Asians they employed. French
Canadian lumbermen were the
solution to a growing problem. In
1909 Theodore Thereaux and
Reverend Father O'Boyle went to
Quebec to hire labourers for the Mill.
One hundred and fifty were
recruited and they left Montreal on
a special Canadian Pacific Railway
Train. As promised, the Mill
company set aside a number of one
acre lots and free lumber for the
recruits to build homes and a church
for themselves. About one hundred
and ten experienced millmen were in
the first migration, which arrived on
December 5th, 1909.
On June 7th, 1910, one hundred
and sixty-six more French
Canadians arrived in MaillardviUe,
of which 73 were experienced
millmen. Many were young and
most were related to those members
of the first contingent. The
company brought in about
twenty-five more French Canadians
before Christmas that year, and the
total number of recruits was
estimated to be enough to replace
most of the Asians at the Mill.
"Reverend Father O'Boyle asserted
that this was the solution to the
Oriental labour problems in British
Columbia. He declared that an
effort would be made to create the
same social and religious conditions
for the French Canadians, to which
they had been accustomed." 4   The
construction of the first Roman
Catholic Church, Our Lady of
Lourdes, in 1910 was the first step
towards this effort.
Life for these pioneering settlers
was difficult. Settlers who built
their own houses on the townsite in
MaillardviUe had to clear their
densely wooded lots without the
benefits of electricity and running
water. As well as working ten
hours a day, six days a week, the
men not only had to build their own
homes, but also clear the land and
build their church and school. As
promised, the Company did donate
the lumber for the buildings, but
they charged the settlers for every
other incidental such as cartage,
supplies, powder, shingles and
nails. Residents of MaillardviUe
had to be self-sufficient as it was a
two mile walk into the Mill
Townsite and about a three mile
walk from the Mill to the end of the
tram line in Sapperton.
In 1908, the Fraser Mills Townsite
had twenty houses. In contrast to
the townsite in MaillardviUe,
residents enjoyed streets that were
well lit, and by 1910 it had a
butcher shop, bakery, barber shop,
pool hall and shoe store. At its
height, the townsite consisted of
seventy-two separate single family
dwellings for white workers, located
between Pitt River Road (now
known as Brunette Street) and the
railroad tracks to the south. Houses
varied in size, from small bachelor
shacks to multi-bedroom houses for
larger families, and these houses
bordered King Edward Street on
both sides, running North and South
from the Mill itself, up to Pitt River
Road in MaillardviUe. Fraser Mills
Townsite was completely self
contained, and even had two
resident doctors, although serious
cases were referred to the Royal
Columbian Hospital in New
Westminster.    Most babies were
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
8 delivered in the hospital as well.
The Mill maintained the houses on
this townsite. There was a crew of
three or four men who regularly
repainted the houses every five
years and provided repairs and
renovations as were necessary and
approved by the Mill management.
In addition, separate boarding
houses were provided for the Asians,
which were located at the far end of
the Mill, across the railroad tracks
and veiy close to the river. These
were large structures, designed with
walkways in case of flooding, and
with water barrels on the roofs in
case of fire. This location was very
close to the operating Mill, and
constantly threatened by flying hot
ash from the stacks.
The East Indian Community and
the Japanese Community both had
their own residential sections on the
townsite as well. They too were
situated close to the operating Mill
by the river.
The Fraser Mills Townsite was
located on 450 acres of land, and
was a company town known as
Millside. Rolf Knight, author of
"Work Camps and Company Towns
in Canada and the United States"s
provides an explanation for the term
"company town".
Company town refers to communities where most of the housing
and other basic services are
owned or directly controlled by
the company owning the single
predominant industry for which
the town was established. Not
only the work scene but most
other setting of social life are
controlled by the company. In the
classic cases, the company
owned the land on which the
community hall stood, all the
housing, the stores and all community facilities. Class structure
was vividly evident in the type of
house in which one lived, the
circle of friends and parties one
attended. In some cases, virtually
all public activities, schools, community organizations, hospitals
and even churches were either
directly, or indirectly subservient
to company policy.
The majority of residents in
Millside were Canadians of
European origin, the balance made
up of Chinese, East Indians,
Japanese and a few French
Canadian families. Rent paid to the
Mill was very reasonable, and you
were considered lucky to have a
home in the townsite, mainly for
economic reasons. By the end of
1910, the Mill had 515 men
working and securing wages of
$45.00 per month, a substantial
increase over the monthly wage in
1907 of $25.00 per month. The
1911 Census indicated that at
Millside and MaillardviUe, there
were 877 people of all ages and
nationalities, of which
approximately 168 were Hindus, 57
Japanese, 20 Chinese and the
balance, 632 people, were mostly
French Canadians and Canadians
of European origin.
By 1920, then, there were three
quite distinct communities in
Coquitlam; furthest from the Mill,
above Pitt River Road was the
French Canadian settlement of
MaillardviUe, which was granted its
own Post Office in 1912, and was
officially subdivided from Coquitlam
in that year; Millside, and the
Oriental, the East Indian and
Japanese Townsites. In 1913,
Fraser River Sawmills Ltd. (this
name was retained during the
takeover in 1907) broke away from
the District of Coquitlam, which
meant a great tax saving for the
Mr. and Mrs. Locken, Mr. Boe, and
Mrs. McBay, several of the people
interviewed, indicated that the
residents of Millside had a real
sense of community. Everyone
knew everyone else, the children all
played together. Mrs. Locken
remembers the townsite as a "kind
of League of Nations." Olive McBay
said "It was a great community to
grow up in. If it hadn't been for the
school system, though, problems
might have arisen. I lived there as
a child in the 1920's. I certainly
remember we didn't play with the
Orientals or East Indians as
preschoolers, but once we went to
school, we all played together."
There were at least six Norwegian
families on the townsite, as well as
Swedish and other Scandinavian
families. The Scandinavian families
were particularly quick to acquire
their Canadian citizenship. Olive
McBay's Father, John Stewart, was
the company store Manager, and it
was he who stood up with these
new immigrants in front of the
Judge in New Westminster, when
they went to obtain their Canadian
Citizenship. Mrs. McBay said, "I
remember, with so many people
wanting citizenship, my Father had
to call the Judge and ask if he
might stand for five people at a time
because he was just too busy ..." He
stood up for everyone, the Chinese,
East Indians and the Japanese. He
had several Japanese working for
him as "Joe" boys at the general
store. When these men were
interned during World War II, they
corresponded faithfully with Mr,
Stewart and, in fact, one returned
after the war to work in the store
with Mr. Stewart once again. Mr.
Locken remembers the internment of
the Japanese during the War, and
says that the residents of the
townsite protested the actions of the
government in relocating the
The war brought back other
memories to Mrs. McBay. She said,
"I remember during the war when
butter was rationed. The East
Indians were finding it difficult to
cook without enough butter and
explained their story to my Father,
He, in turn, wrote the chap in
Ottawa to see if something might be
done. Under the circumstances,
their rations for butter were
increased and this put my Father in
a very good light with the East
Indian community.
The Chinese townsite was very
small, and Mrs. Wong's house was
at the top of the street. She
remembers a small store at the
bottom of the street. "We moved to
Fraser Mills when I was married,
maybe I was 22 years old," she
said. Mrs. Wong was born in 1909,
in Vancouver, and spoke English
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 from a very early age. She
remembers the big strike at the Mill
in 1931, therefore she must have
moved to the townsite just prior to
the strike. "My house belonged to
Fraser Mills, my house was not bad,
it was a family house. You were
lucky to have a place to live in those
days and they [the Mill] took good
care of everything." Mrs. Wong
remembers the workmen repairing
her home whenever necessary, and,
in particular, when the indoor
plumbing was put in. She said "I
stayed home most of the time with
the children, I would do the work at
home always. I looked after people
when they worked at the Mill."
According to Elmer Boe and Hank
Locken, Mrs. Wong was a wonderful
lady and known by all at the Mill.
Being one of the only Chinese to
speak English, Mrs. Wong would
take new immigrants into the Mill
and set them up in the employment
office with the payroll department.
She would interpret for everyone.
Elmer Boe remembers his years in
the employment office (1950's)
"when I was first in employment at
the Mill, it was Mrs. Wong we dealt
with, if we needed a crew for a
special job, we could call her up and
she would get us the very best men.
She would even check up later to be
sure we were happy with the men
she had chosen. She was a very
intelligent person."
Mrs. Wong was happy in her home
on the Chinese townsite. "Everyone
helped each other in the Chinese
townsite," she said. When asked
about money, Mrs. Wong answered
"I guess there was just enough to go
around, yes, I had to sew all the
clothes. I had a little garden to
grow vegetables, in the back yard."
When asked about racial prejudices,
and whether or not she remembered
these sorts of tensions at Fraser
Mills, she replied: "In the old days,
we don't talk about all these things.
I don't know how everyone felt, if
they were happy." But for herself,
Mrs. Wong indicated she felt
comfortable in her role in the
With respect to racial prejudices on
the townsites, Elmer Boe said, "I
always felt things were very
friendly and open - no problems.
We'd go down to Chinatown all the
time." Olive McBay's memories are
slightly different, however, "I did go
to Chinatown once with my Father,
but we were not allowed to go down,
too much gambling I guess. Most of
the Chinese didn't have their
families. I remember the fellows on
the council decided they had to
clamp down and they brought in the
Mounties and they had a raid and
they cleaned it up. So many of the
Chinese would get their wage and
then gamble it away so they
wouldn't have enough money to live
or any to send home." Mrs. Locken
wasn't allowed to go to Chinatown
either. She said, "There was
gambling and corrupt practices and
my Mother didn't allow us to go
down, although the boys did
anyway. They would go to
Popeye's Dam and swim."
Those in the East Indian
community kept very much to
themselves. They were situated at
the furthest end of the Mill and,
again, most children were forbidden
from going down there. The
reasoning for this was that it was
too dangerous an area to get to.
Their church was the focal point,
and it is remembered by all as being
spectacular, comparatively speaking. Some braver children would
hide and watch the religious
ceremonies held in the church.
Everyone interviewed mentioned the
teasing the young East Indian boys
had to withstand with regard to the
turbans they wore. "It was nothing
worse than calling a Frenchman a
pea souper! It was all in fun." 6
This community slowly got smaller,
until in 1959 "when I left the Mill,
there were only two East Indians
working in the Mill, as compared to
1979, when I returned,
approximately 30% of the workforce
was East Indian." 7 Unfortunately,
no-one seems to have a logical
explanation as to why the East
Indian community dwindled from
168 people in 1911, to two in 1959,
although the management's policy
of wanting to reduce the numbers of
Asiatic labourers could have been a
contributing factor.
The French Canadian townsite of
MaillardviUe was centered around
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on
Laval Square. It is interesting to
note that all attempts to incorporate
MaillardviUe failed. The Province
would not hear of a French speaking
village and MaillardviUe, as a
French cultural entity, got little
more recognition by the Municipal
Council of the District of Coquitlam.8
Denny Leclair suggested, "There
was always one token Frenchman
on the council. In the early days,
these men were appointed. But
even later, when these men were
voted in, there was only ever one
francophone on the council."
Olive McBay thought that
"MaillardviUe had a very poor name
in \ancouver and New Westminster.
No-one admitted to living in
MaillardviUe. Yet, they were
delightful people, but were afraid of
the outside. They were brought out
for their cheap labour, they stayed
together because of their language,
but they were suspicious. When I
was teaching, some of the children's
parents were very suspicious, until
they got to know me. Their only
security was to stay together."
Denny Leclair remembers the kids
from New Westminster calling
MaillardviUe "Mudville". He
remembers that "they would say,
when you get off the bus in
MaillardviUe, be careful because you
will slip in the mud."
Social life in MaillardviUe centered
around the church. Parishioners
organized bazaars, suppers and
card playing nights. The popular
French Canadian custom in the
winter was "La Soiree", the evening
when someone would invite all of
the French group to their house.
Denny Leclair remembered "they
would drink beer, play whist, tell
stories, sing and dance. This would
go on to all hours of the night. They
would probably have four Soirees
during the winter, and if you
weren't invited, well, it was like a
kick in the butt!   Of course my Dad
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
10 would sing all the old Quebec and
Ontario songs."
Up to World War II, the economic
situation was good and it actually
improved during the war. But, once
the war ended the demand for
lumber decreased as the competition
increased. B The standard of living
slowly declined. "Before the war we
barely had enough money, so if you
were struggling to eat, or struggling
for whatever, it was a hell of a lot
easier to be bitchy with your
neighbour, or the guy you didn't
recognize, than it was during the
war when everyone had money in
their pockets and you were just
fighting about who would buy the
beer." 10 When times got tough, it
seemed people got together. There
was prejudice in MaillardviUe,
within the French people
themselves. "Some of them were
more cultured, educated and had
more money and smaller families.
Everyone knew who these upper
class families were", suggested
Denny Leclair. When everyone had
enough money, the distinction
between these upper class families
and the rest were not as noticeable.
During the big strike at the Mill in
1931, the first men to consider
affiliation with the Lumber Worker's
Industrial Union were  French
Canadians. "The strike lasted
three months and was marked by
serious altercations between police
and the strikers." " Mrs. McBay
remembered this episode, "I can
remember the morning of the strike,
All the Mounties. All through the
night we could hear the crowds of
people gathering. In the morning
my Mother said, 'John, you are not
to go to work today, I will worry
about you, there will be violence.' He
argued, 'It is the Post Office, I have
to open up.' The stairs to the store
were full of men, and my Father
joked with them, did they think it
was 25 cent day! ! But he kept the
store open, there were no mishaps.
He was very careful during those
strike months. He only let
dependable people have credit, his
good customers certainly should
have credit."
Father Teck, the priest at Our
Lady of Lourdes Parish, tried to
convince the workers of his parish to
return to the sawmill. "His homily
of September 28th, 1931 depicts the
dangers of communism and of
radical revenge. A prayer was then
formulated to end the strike." 12
One of Father Teck's parishioners
remembered that he was "a
Belgian, from gentry. He treated
MaillardviUe   parishioners   as
Townsite in the 1920s. Residence of Manager of Manufacturing at left. Homes for predominantly white,
English speaking families. Photo courtesy of Mr. Henry Locken
subservient. He blacklisted many of
the strikers during 1931, as he
sided with management. Many
parishioners never went back to
Lourdes." "
On November 20th, 1931, the
workers accepted the Company's
offer (wage concessions only)
without winning the recognition of
their union. The tough years of the
economic depression followed,
During the depression, wages at the
Mill were cut by 15% as the Mill
owners declared they were
operating on a non-profit basis.
They cut back on hours to help
relieve unemployment, and as a
result most labourers were able to
work an average of three days a
week during the depression.
"My Father started in the Mill in
1936. He came from LaFleche,
Saskatchewan. He was quite an
IWA oriented person. In 1936,
many MaillardviUe people resented
people from the Prairies as so many
had come during the strike - they
broke the strike, so when we came
in 1936, many people, French and
English, called us scabs." 14
Just living in Millside determined
your middle class status. The very
upper class, however, lived at the
top of the street, close to the gates,
in the biggest homes. The
managers of the
Mill lived in these
two houses.
Carrie LeClair
said that her
Father used to
deliver and stack
firewood at these
houses, and her
husband's Aunt
used to sew
clothes for the
manager's wife.
Olive McBay
remembers that
her Father would
get annoyed with
these men from
the top of the hill
as they used to
help themselves
to pieces of cheese
when they came
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 into the store. Finally, Mr. Stewart
decided to charge them for the
cheese they had eaten. He added it
to their monthly bills, and their
wives were very upset about it.
Morris Leclair tells this story, "I
remember Halloween falling on a
Friday, and the Murrays would give
out hotdogs. Mr. Murray was one of
the Mills managers who lived at the
top of the hill. Of course, we weren't
supposed to eat meat on Fridays!
Murrays were giving out hotdogs, so
we were really getting away with
something by eating these hotdogs
on Friday. Everyone within several
miles would go there. It was a hell
of a deal in those days!"
The people interviewed all lived
within the same community, yet
there were some very different
memories regarding racial
prejudices and class distinctions.
Some had vivid recollections and
others felt these sorts of problems
were not commonplace during the
years discussed. Olive McBay
suggested parental guidance was
the key to the difference. "My
Father was a well read man,
although he did not complete his
education, he could quote
Shakespeare and Tennyson. He
encouraged us and we were strongly
motivated to get an education. He
believed in keeping the boys busy,
and we had a cabin up the hill,
where the new firehall now stands,
and the boys were given endless
chores to do there." She also said
her parents never suggested that
she or her brothers should, or should
not play with certain other children,
and everything was very open
within her family. Others, however,
felt their parents influenced them in
a negative way. "Yes, we picked up
feelings of prejudice from our
parents. My parents were always
very proud Canadians. They never
liked the term French Canadian,
They always felt that when people
talked about Frenchmen, that they
were being segregated for no good
reason. But, they were just as
prejudiced as anybody else. My
Mother was very prejudiced. My
Mother insulted my own sweet wife
so many times, being an
anglophone. She felt English people
were the worst people, without a
doubt." i» Helen Leclair said, "My
Mother wasn't prejudiced, but being
Ukranian and Polish - a Polak, in a
French community wasn't easy.
Father spoke French, and when we
were growing up we spoke to him in
French, or he would not answer. We
talked to Mother in English. Father
understood English, but would not
converse in it. My parents came
here in 1938, and Mother told us
how many times she would sit and
cry. No-one would say boo to her
because she couldn't understand
French. Many of these people spoke
English too, but didn't speak to
Mother. However, she learned to
speak French in spite of them." 16
Distinctions between the French
speaking and English speaking
people were parallelled with
religious differences. Isabelle
Chycoski remembers her Mother
telling her "When I was young we
didn't dare play with a Protestant,
and the same with the French, they
thought the Protestants were evil."
Isabelle said she thought it was
because of ignorance that the French
and English didn't get along. "My
Mother was raised a strict Catholic
but when she got older she learned
that it wasn't good. Father was a
non-Catholic, Mother a Catholic -
this was a big no-no. There was
some friction. I was brought up
nothing, baptised only because my
grandmother took me against my
Father's wishes and had me
baptised. We were raised without
any religion in the home. My
Mother was disappointed. I did go
to the Sunday School above the store
- it was Baptist. Later, I went to
the United Church in Sapperton, but
never to anything else. My Mother's
funeral was the first mass I ever
went to." " Helen Leclair's Mother,
a Catholic, didn't go to church
because she couldn't understand
French, and mass was conducted in
French. Carrie    Leclair,     a
Protestant, married a Catholic in
1949. This caused great distress
for both sets of parents, to say
nothing of the bride and groom.
Carrie's Mother practically disowned
her in the first year of the marriage.
Denny Leclair feels that kids from
the French Catholic schools were
very much an identifiable group
because only a very few French kids
attended Millside School. Everyone
from Millside went to Millside
School, including the children of the
few French families living there, up
until grade six.
Our Lady of Lourdes was the
separate school most of the Catholic
children attended. It was,
suggested that the Catholic School
did not have the high academic
standards of the public school
system. Helen Leclair recalled that
while in Grade 12 at Our Lady of
Fatima School, her instructor, a
nun, was taking grade thirteen by
correspondence at the same time!
Children attending the separate
schools felt they were distant from
the other children. It was a culture
shock for any child, if they
transferred from one school to the
other. "My brother and I were
having trouble with the nuns, so our
parents decided to send us to
Millside School for awhile. My
teacher, Thelma Griffin, was a great
person, a teacher well ahead of her
day, and she was what made it
easy for me to go from the separate
school to public school without any
problem. Other teachers were quick
to identify French kids from the
separate school, especially if you did
something wrong. We were sure
never to speak French at Millside
School." is "I couldn't wait to get
out of the Catholic school. But they
kept adding another grade, year
after year, and I eventually
graduated there. There were only
five girls in my graduating class." 19
"But, at least you graduated.
Many of the kids from Lourdes who
went up to Central would quit after
a few months - it was tough.
Definitely a culture shock." 20
Carrie Leclair remembers as a
young girl walking through
MaillardviUe to get to Millside
School. She lived in an area referred
to as Burquitlam.   The French kids
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
12 would often throw
rocks at them, so
after awhile they
were careful about
what   route   they
took   to   school.
(Carrie       is       a
Protestant born in
Ireland.)    Denny
Leclair remembers
being tormented by
kids in the townsite
at Millside.    If you
went to the Doctor
at the townsite, all
your drugs would be
paid for by the Mill.
Denny        Leclair
remembers having
to go down to the
dispensary to get
pills for his Father.
"I remember trying
to get down there
dozens of times, but
there   were   guys
down there, mean guys who might
make you walk along the railroad
tracks or whatever.    If you didn't
live on the townsite, they harassed
So, it seems that at Millside, from
1920 up to about 1960, people have
pleasant memories of their lives.
Predominantly white, English
speaking working class people lived
on the townsite. The European
immigrants who came over during
the early years became well
integrated and felt at home on the
townsite. The Chinese townsite
was off limits to most, and the
general impression is that because
it was mainly occupied by single
men, it was "unsafe" for various
reasons. Mrs. Wong and her family
were an exception. They were
known by everybody and liked by
all. The East Indian Community is
more of a mystery, although to most
it was an area of the Mill to avoid.
The Japanese community was
small, and not remembered by
many because all were interned
during World War II.
All interviewed can recall two class
distinctions at Millside when they
speak of the houses themselves, and
1920'8-Chinatown residences at Fraser Mills townsite. (facing south-
water perched on roof in case of fire - Chinatown located very close to
when they refer to the people at the
"top of the hill."
Within MaillardviUe, there were at
least two class distinctions easily
recognizable as well. The
distinguishing factor was money
which was ultimately reflected in
the types of houses one had. The
French Canadians in MaillardviUe
did certainly recount numerous
incidents of prejudice against them.
They felt they were treated as
inferiors with respect to the
residents of Millside. The names
"frogs" and "pea soupers" were
common in those years.
Education rescued many from their
predetermined inferior positions
within the community. Others felt
it was luck, just being in the right
place at the right time. In any case,
there is no doubt class distinctions
were evident in both Millside and
MaillardviUe between 1920 and
1960. All felt racial prejudices
between whites and non-whites
were not an issue in those years;
however, some feel there were
strong prejudices between the
French speaking Catholics and the
English speaking Protestants.
Surrey in the background) notice barrels of
working mill - sparks often flew out of the
Photo courtesy of Mr. Henry Locken
The writer is a student at Douglas College-
she was a stewardess with Air India, then
CJ? Air. After her marriage she stayed home
being a "mom" for ten years & now has
commenced teacher training.
J.R.Stewart. Early Days at Fraser Mills, B.C,
from 1888 to 1912
Margaret A. Ormsby. British Columbia: A History
pp. 349-353
Society MaillardviUe Uni
RolfKnight, \fork Camps and Company Towns in
Canada and the United States, Vancouver: Xew
Star Books, 1975, p. 11
Denny Leclair
Elmer Boe
Society MaillardviUe Uni
Society MaillardviUe Uni
Denny Leclair
H.A.J. Monk and J. Stewart. A History of
Coquitlam and Fraser Mills. Coquitlam,
pp. 39-40
Society MaillardviUe Uni
Denny Leclair
Denny Leclair
Denny Leclair
Helen Leclair
[sabelle Chycoski
Denny Leclair
Helen Leclair
Morris Leclair
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 The Vancouver Bach Choir Celebrates
Sixty Years
by Thelma Reid Lower
The Vancouver Bach Choir pictured in 1932, with Herbert Drost conductor; in The Vancouver Theatre at
76*5 Granville Street. In 1936 this theatre was renamed Lffric Theatre.
The Vancouver Bach Choir
celebrated its Diamond Anniversary
during the 1990-91 season with a
series of special concerts, the first of
which was the British Columbia
premiere of Mahler's Symphony,
"The Symphony of a Thousand"
performed 8 and 9 November at the
Vancouver Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Mahler said of his own work: "It is
the greatest thing I have done ....
Just imagine the whole universe
breaks into music. These are not
human voices interweaving but the
planets and suns."
Michael Scott, music critic,
commented in the Vancouver Sun,
10 November 1990:
It felt like history in the making: a
full  house,   a   twittery   sort  of
anticipation .... then once the
performance began, the rare
sensation of being drenched in
music, of feeling the tidal pull in the
chest and through the inner ear.
The Vancouver Bach Choir and all
its party guests - the Vancouver
Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver
Chamber Choir, the Vancouver
Chorale, Christ Church Cathedral
Choir, Amabilis Singers from New
Westminster, the Capilano College
Singers from North Vancouver, and
the Vancouver Bach Children's Choir
and conductor Bruce Pullan - left us
an historic evening of music to
treasure for years to come.
Wlien people stepped into the hall
and caught a glimpse of tlie stage
they were stopped dead in their
tracks. Who could blame them?
Spread across the vast performing
space were 650 musicians - Legions
of black, white and red-costumed
singers - more than 500 in all, a
110-piece orchestra, eight soloists -
gathered to give this transcendental
work its British Columbia premiere.
By its persistent endeavors
spanning sixty years the Bach Choir
has retained a pivotal presence in
the history of choral singing in
British Columbia. The Bach Choir
was founded in 1930 by two
lawyers, Herbert Mason Drost who
became its first conductor and
Harvey Wyness who became its first
This initial checks and balances of
power between the apppointed
B.C. Historical Nevra - Spring 91
14 musical conductor and the executive
board of directors elected by choir
members has been a continuing
strength throughout the choir's sixty
years of decision making. When
Herbert Drost was taken ill in 1934
and had to resign from his
conductorship it was the executive
board who assured that the choir's
activities would continue. Dr. Ira
Dilworth was appointed conductor
to finish the 1934/35 season and
continued to direct the choir until
1941. During some of those years
Dilworth was Manager of CBC's
operations in British Columbia from
1938 to 1946. Later he was
transferred to Montreal to become
National Director of Program
Production for CBC's English
Network. It was a fortunate contact
for the Bach Choir as Dr. Dilworth
had personal knowledge of the
choir's potential for radio
The formation of a large
mixed-voice choir was a natural
outcome of the optimistic western
business boom after World War I.
The Vancouver Bach Choir's first
scrap book of newsclips is pasted
onto a sample portfolio of gilt-edged
stock certificates from Bulman Bros.
B.C. Lithographing and Printing
Ltd. The first entry is from the
1930 B.C. Musical Festival under
the auspices of the Knights of
Pythias certifying that "The Bach
Choir has been awarded the highest
marks in choral singing and is
holder of the B.C. Electric Challenge
Cup." signed by Arthur C. Tysoe
and J. Frederic Staton, British
adjudicators. The Bach Choir was
described as "a large commercial
choir" as against a large church
choir of which there were many in
B.C., some broadcasting weekly on
Sundays. The 10-day B.C. Musical
Festival was a barometer of musical
enthusiasm. In 1930 its final
evening in Vancouver Arena brought
a record-breaking audience of 4,000.
Much of this enthusiasm was due
to the impact of radio broadcasts.
Companies in seaports like
Vancouver, Victoria and New
Westminster relied on radio
communication for their Pacific
shipping    enterprises. The
imagination of the general public
also was captivated by radio. It
was a fascinating way of escaping
from the sense of western isolation.
Dennis J. Duffy in his book Imagine
Please, Early Radio Broadcasting in
B.C. (Sound Heritage Series No. 38)
Until 1953 anyone in Canada
owning a radio receiver was
required by law to purchase a
licence annually. The receiver
licensing figures reflect the
popularity of radio in British
Columbia during the twenties,
Vancouver Bach Choir Westminster Abbey, Mission, B.C. October 3,1982.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 particularly in Vancouver. In
September 1922, for instance, there
were 103 licensed receivers in
Vancouver to Toronto's 110. By
April 1931 the Vancouver licences
numbered 20,922.
The earliest licensed broadcasting
stations were the products of
competition among the city's main
daily newspapers. The Vancouver
Bach Choir's first public concert on
14 December 1930 in the New
Orpheum Theatre singing Bach's
Christmas Oratorio was in aid of
the Santa Claus Fund sponsored by
the Province.
Programming local choirs on B.C.
radio stations had to meet the
challenge of U.S. competition from
the powerful KSL station in Salt
Lake City which featured frequent
broadcasts of the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir. The KSL
signature tune "When It's
Springtime in the Rockies" was
heard throughout the Pacific
Northwest. The rich tonal sound of
the Mormon Choir when it sang its
broadcasts of Handel's Messiah
inspired other choirs.
On the afternoon of 23 December
1934 from the stage of Vancouver's
Strand Theatre the Bach Choir sang
the first Trans-Canada broadcast of
the Messiah from west to east.
Congratulatory letters poured in
from listeners in Eastern Canada
who, for the first time, realized that
choral excellence could flourish
beyond    the    Rockies. One
enthusiastic listener wrote that she
felt "The Messiah should be the
national anthem of Canada." (At
that time we did not officially have
Recognition from Eastern Canada
brought great satisfaction to the
charter and early members of the
Bach Choir many of whom had been
required, after only two years at the
University of British Columbia, to
complete their degrees in the east,
mainly at the University of McGill
where, as students, they had sung
in the McGill Glee Club, and heard
the Bach Choir of Montreal and
Toronto's well-established
Mendelssohn Choir.
By the early 1930s Herbert Drost
had become conductor of five choirs:
Vancouver Orpheus Choir, Western
Singers, Cathedral Singers, B.C.
Simon Streatfield (at piano) and Jon Washburn (standing) audition a tenor of the Bach Choir.
Photo courtesy of: Archives of Vancouver Bach Choir
Electric Glee Club (male) and the
Bach Choir. Also he had founded
the Western Music Co. Ltd. a
retailing firm to make available on
the west coast a wide selection of
printed music especially for choirs.
For some years Western Music was
the sole agent in Canada for British
music companies such as Novello,
J.B.Cramer, and others. When
Drost opened branches in Winnipeg,
Toronto and Victoria he kept
Vancouver as his headquarters
where he expanded its merchandise
to include records and instruments.
In 1937 Drost's company began to
publish music. By 1960 over 450
pieces had been published, most by
B.C. composers. (In 1970
copyrights and stock owned by
Western Music were acquired by
Leslie Music Supply, Oakville, Ont.)
The obsession with choral singing
expanded flamboyantly during the
1930s and persisted vigorously
despite the Depression. It only
began to peter out when World War
II so depleted tenor and bass
sections that a musical balance in a
mixed choir no longer became
possible. Although several concerts
were given under the Bach Choir's
name in the 1940s formal
operations were suspended until
1950 when Major R.E. MacBean
returned to revive an executive board
which invited Lawrence R.
Cluderay, organist/choirmaster at
St. Andrew's-Wesley Church to
become the choir's first post-war
As word spread that the Bach
Choir was to be revived many eager
choristers sought an audition.
Cluderay, a former British choral
adjudicator set about selecting
voices with that clarity of sound
associated with English cathedral
choirs. He was meticulous in
choosing voices which would blend
with one another and in his choirs
each chorister had a definite location
to create the blend he required.
Cluderay had an uncanny
listening ear which could detect any
ill-tuned faulty chorister. His
discipline at rehearsals was often
severe requiring the delinquent to
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
16 sing solo the faulted bars of music.
It was an embarrassment to be
avoided only by serious preparatory
music at home. The resultant choir
of about 100 devoted and disciplined
singers earned its reward from
glowing comments by Stanley Bligh,
Sun Music Critic, for its concert 20
December 1950 in the Mayfair Room
of the Hotel Vancouver: "clarity of
diction precision of attack....fine
blend    and    balance artistic
treatment which reflected the
conductor's sound musical
During the 1950s the Bach Choir
consolidated its wide audience base
with a series of eight Easter
performances of Bach's St.
Matthew's Passion at St.
Andrews-Wesley Church; three
concerts at the Vancouver Art
Gallery; Sunday afternoon concerts
at Stanley Park Pavilion; Christmas
presentations of Handel's Messiah
in the Georgia Auditorium;
Vancouver Symphony choral
concerts; Vancouver International
Festival events; the acoustical
testing and naming of the Queen
Elizabeth Theatre by Her Majesty
the Queen and CBC's Wednesday
Night Trans-Canada broadcast of
Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with
Maureen Forrester, mezzo, Richard
Lewis, tenor from England, and
John Dunbar, bass, with John
Avison conducting. With this
broadcast the Bach Choir achieved
one of its original dreams: to have a
wide radio acceptance and national
recognition across Canada. In 1960
the choir received its first Koerner
Foundation grant of $1,000 and
pressed its first recordings a joint
concert with the Benedictine Monks
Choir of Westminster Abbey,
Mission. Socially in the summer the
Bach Choir hosted popular
Strawberry Festival Parties in some
of Vancouver's most beautiful
An outstanding choral event of
Canada's Centennial Year 1967
was the Western Canada premiere
of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem
composed to celebrate the rebuilding
of Coventry Cathedral, bombed
during World War II. The
comments of Robert Sunter,
Vancouver Sun, 3 April 1967 sums
up the reaction of the audience to
the "pity of war":
For a moment the last ethereal
notes of the Amen faded. It seemed
the audience might leave quietly in
sombre and reverential awe. But
finally they had to show their
appreciation for a performance that
at no point was ever less than
magnificent. Once the applause
started it went on for a full fifteen
minutes. A special ovation was
given to conductor Meredith Davies
for his impressive skill in
co-ordinating and balancing the
forces he had on stage and for the
passionate conviction with which he
led these enormous forces.
In the 1970s the Bach Choir with
its English Conductor Simon
Streatfield set its goals on achieving
an international reputation in
Europe. With helpful contacts
arranged by the choir's post-war
immigrant Dutch members and the
blessings from three levels of
government but not much money the
choir undertook a tour to Celebrate
the 25th anniversary of the
liberation of Holland by Canadian
troops. Competing    in    the
International Koor Festival,
Scheveningen, Den Haag, its ladies
choir placed first and its mixed choir
third. An after-tour was marred by
the tragic death of a soprano in a
traffic accident near Gretna Green
at the English/Scottish border.
Afterwards the choir's first tour
president Paul Birch remarked "The
choir is eager to travel again. Once
bitten we're no longer shy".
In 1974 an Eastern Canadian tour
saw the Bach Choir singing to fine
audiences in the National Arts
Centre, Ottawa, and at the CBC's
Summer Festival in Toronto. In
Quebec, however, casual outdoor
concerts attracted mainly tourists.
Formal performances in St. Patrick's
Church, Montreal and the Anglican
Cathedral of Quebec City were so
poorly attended as to be an
embarrassment.    Clearly even at
this early date the lines of language
had already been drawn.
In contrast the Bach Choir's
two-week cultural exchange in 1977
with the choir of the Szczecin
Technical University in northern
Poland was a definition of
hospitality. The visiting Bach Choir
travelled on a tour prearranged by
their Polish hosts, opening with a
grand welcoming concert in the
banquet hall of a medieval castle of
former Pomeranian dukes. Then
the choir continued to organ/choir
festivals in towns along the south
shore of the Baltic Sea, to the walled
city of Torun, the site of the
University of Copernicus, to the
capital city of Warsaw where it
made a recording for Polish
National Radio and gave an
emotionally appreciated concert to a
crowded congregation in the Church
of the Sacred Cross, the only
building to remain standing after
Hitler's demolition of the city. The
heart of Chopin, beloved composer of
the Polish people, is said to be
encased in one of the church pillars.
The reciprocal visit of the Szczecin
choir in the following year 1978 to
British Columbia was welcomed by
Polish communities and by the
many towns and cities throughout
B.C. where they performed in their
colorful costumes. The Bach Choir
frequently plays host to visiting
choirs on tour in Canada.
As one of the founding members of
the B.C. Choral Federation the Bach
Choir often sings as a guest choir.
Performances have been held at the
University of Victoria; Westminster
Abbey, Mission; Bellingham;
Richmond Gateway Theatre;
Chilliwack; Powell River and others.
Farther away the choir has sung
twice as the guest of the Toronto
Symphony Orchestra at Roy
Thompson Hall and twice with the
Calgary Philharmonic in the Jack
Singer Arts Centre. On a tour of
Britain and Wales the Bach Choir
was the featured guest choir at the
Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
In the megaopera Aida the Bach
Choir formed the chorus in the
production at B.C. Stadium and at
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 the Tokyo Dome, Japan, nicknamed
in English "The Big Egg".
To ensure a continuing supply of
experienced singers for the Bach
Choir's numerous activities at home
and abroad four training choirs for
children have been established. The
Bach Children's Chorus has recently
achieved its own international
stature having been invited to
participate in a week-long festival
at Nantes, France, honouring the
works of Canadian composer R.
Murray Schafer.
A Rhombus Telefilm which enjoys
world-wide circulation titled
"Whalesong" was made during
B.C.'s Expo '86 when the Bach Choir
sang beside the whale pool at
Stanley Park Aquarium with a
noisy and joyous accompaniment by
the whales.
And so the Bach Choir with
conductor Bruce Pullan (1982--)
moves adventurously into the
coming seasons knowing that 60
years of challenge have already
been met with applause.
Herbert Mason Drost
Ira Dilworth
suspended during
World War II
Hugh Bancroft
Sherwood Robson
Lawrence Cluderay
Beverley Fyfe
G. Welton Marquis
Karel ten Hoope
Meredith Davis
Beverley Fyfe
Simon Streatfield
John Washburn
Bruce Pullan
Bruce Pullan
Mrs. Harry Holden
Dorothy Mileson
Phyllis Ward
Dorothy Mileson
Hugh McLean
Leslie Crouch
Lawrence Cluderay
Rachel Carr
Betty Rose
- Joyce Maguire
Gillian Wilder
5730 Seaview, West Vancouver
Tel. 921-8012
Thelma Reid Lower is Archivist of the
Vancouver Bach Choir.
Archives of Vancouver Bach Choir
B.C. Choral Federation Quarterlies.
Duffy, Dennis J.:    Imagine Please, Early Broadcasting in
British Columbia Sound Heritage Series
No. 38.
Encyclopedia, Music Canada;
University of Toronto Press, 1981.
Mcintosh, Dale:     History at Musk: in British Columbia
1850-1050, Sono Nis Press, 1989.
\fancouver Bach Choir programmes and articles:
Special Collections, UBC.
Vancouver Centennial Bibliography, 4 vols.
A project of the Vancouver Historical
Society, 1986.
Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier
A superb exhibition on Russian America was shown recently in Tacoma, Wa., illustrating Russian activities along America's Pacific
Northwest coast roughly from the Bering/Chirikov expedition (1741-2) to the Sale of Alaska (1867). A record attendance of visitors,
school-children and enthusiastic Canadians attested to its success and to the lively interest in this historic subject, which
encapsulated an area from the Aleutians and Alaska along the coast down to Alta California (Fort, Ross).
Over 600 exhibits of rare documents, art works and outstanding Indian artifacts were borrowed from renowned institutions,
museums, and individuals in the US, USSR, Finland, Denmark and Canada (in particular, the Hudson's Bay Co.). To mention a few
items among this unique display: the first known reference made to Russian settlements at Unalaska and Kamchatka by Captain
Cook (1778); early Russian cartography of this coast and ships' models; native skin boats (baidarkas) and gut-skin garments;
relations between the Russian American Company (RAK) and the Hudson's Bay Co.; memorabilia from the first wife of a Russian
Governor to come from Estland/Estonia and live for 5 years in the Pacific Northwest (Baroness Elisabeth V. Wrangell - 1830-5);
dentalium shells obtained from the Haida on the Queen Charlottes to be exchanged against furs with the native inhibitants north of
Bristol Bay; the original cheque for A $7,200,000 for the Sale of Alaska; etc.
For Canadians in British Columbia and the Yukon the exhibition is of particular relevance, because of the lasting effects Russian
America imposed on these two regions. It is to be hoped that the appropriate Western Canadian authorities will not permit the
opportunity to slip by and have us miss out on an international exhibition which also relates to our own history. Once the displays
have been shown in Anchorage, Juneau and Portland, and before they are taken east, surely Victoria or Vancouver deserve a claim
to them. Alix O'Grady - B.C. Historical Federation Victoria.
Editors Note
May 3,1991 - September 22,1991:
The exhibition will be shown at:
October 20, 1991 - January 12, 1992:
OAKLAND MUSEUM, Oakland, California
February 15, 1992 - April 30, 1992:
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
18 Passport to Paradise
The Alpine Club of Canada Summer Camps
by Mary Andrews
The best thing Canada got out of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, apart
from a link that welded together its
diverse and far flung regions, was a
national image. Many who had the
good fortune to travel on the
Railway testified, through letters
and postcards home, illustrated
articles in magazines like Dominion
Illustrated and The Graphic
(Britain), and books, to the
breathtaking natural wonders the
silver threads of steel made
accessible in 1885, the year the
latter were completed. Paramount
among these wonders were the
mountains of the West. Thanks to
the Railway, Canadians could now
claim these as their own.
Canadians, however, figured
minimally among the first to
respond to "the challenge of the
mountains." 1 Most who did were
well-to-do British and Americans
searching for new worlds to conquer.
In the late 1880's, two British
clergymen: the Reverends William
Spotswood Green and Henry
Swanzy, detrained at Glacier House
in the Rogers Pass to climb a few
peaks in the Selkirks, and make
their experiences known in the first
book to be written about the region:
Among the Selkirk Glaciers.
Throughout the 1880's, "scholar
mountaineers" of the likes of
Norman Collie, chemistry professor
at the University of London and
Yale University alumnae, Walter
Wilcox and Samuel E.S. Allen,
scaled peak after peak to put onto
the map such marvels as the
Columbia Icefield and the Lake
Louise region.
It was his work among the
magnificent peaks of the Selkirks
that prompted pioneer surveyor
A.O. Wheeler to conceive the notion
of an "Alpine Club of Canada",
similar to ones that already existed
in Britain and the U.S. By this
means, he hoped, Canadians would
take advantage of one of their most
valuable assets. The Railway
notwithstanding, most found their
country too big for them and their
mountains "as remote as
Afghanistan". 2
In 1906, Wheeler met in Winnipeg
with other like minded individuals
to make the Alpine Club of Canada
a reality and, in the process, become
its first president. The Club's aims,
as spelled out in its Constitution,
were sixfold: 1) promotion of
scientific study and exploration of
Canadian alpine and glacial
regions, 2) cultivation of art in
relation to mountain scenery, 3)
education of Canadians to an
appreciation of their mountain
heritage, 4) encouragement of the
mountain craft and the opening of
new regions as a national
playground, 5) preservation of the
natural beauties of the mountain
places and of the fauna and flora in
their habitat, 6) interchange of
literature with other alpine and
geographical organizations. 3 To
promote aims 3 and 4, the Club
instituted its annual summer camp.
Over and above these aims, the
Camp provided the only opportunity
for members, along with specially
invited guests from mountaineering
organizations in the U.S. and
abroad, to meet together. This
"meeting together" took on formal
expression in the Annual Meetings
incorporated into the Camps'
The most important function of the
Camp was to initiate new members.
To qualify, prospective, or
"graduating"  members, as they
came to be called, had to
successfully climb, under the
supervision of qualified guides, a
glaciated peak at least 2500 feet
above the tree line or 10,000 feet
above sea level. Prior to this
undertaking, they were given
training in mountaineering skills by
guides, and volunteers among
experienced members.
This initiation of new members
into the skills and rites of
mountaineering had a broader social
purpose. Raw recruits, by
surmounting the difficulties, both
physical and spiritual, involved in
the conquest of a mountain, would
be moulded into "the desired
Canadian character." 4 This
included such virtues as manliness,
courage and endurance, all much
touted by the British public schools
of which so many of the original
members were alumnae. A second
aspect of this social purpose was the
"democratization of climbing." s "It
was almost as if the Club had a
vision of enrolling the entire nation
as members." 6
To achieve this, Wheeler
criss-crossed the country giving
lectures, and currying favor from
officials in government and the
railways on the Club's behalf. Both
federal and provincial governments,
as well as the railways, saw in the
Club's aims, given concrete
expression in its summer camps, an
opportunity to promote their own:
tourism. Interest aroused in the
country's more remote beauty spots
would make feasible the
infrastructures needed to access
them, which in turn would generate
more tourist interest to be
translated into monetary gain. And
so evolved a symbiotic relationship
between the Club and the railways
B.C. Historical News • Spring 91 and       government
which worked to the
benefit of all parties.
In   return   for   the
publicity the  Club
generated through its
camps, the railways
(both        Canadian
Pacific and Canadian
National) provided
tents  and  support
staff, not the least
being mountaineering
guides imported from
Switzerland.     One
year    (1910),    the
British Columbia and
Alberta Governments
rallied to the cause of
exploration by
granting  the   Club
$1000 each to open
up the Mount Robson area.    And,
most important in terms of that
cornerstone of the Club's philosophy:
the "democratization of climbing",
the railways offered, in the early
years, substantial fare cuts to camp
In her biography of Wheeler,
Esther Fraser vividly depicts the
magnitude of setting up the first
camp at Yoho in 1906: "Thirty or
forty tents, enormous amounts of
food (each day's meals consumed
fifteen sides of bacon, four hams,
eighty loaves of bread, innumerable
tins of produce and jams), and tools
and utensils had to be hauled in by
pack train .... grounds and paths
had to be cleared, dining tent tables
and benches constructed, poles cut,
and tents set up with balsam bough
beds expertly made for each one." 7
Such an undertaking required
strong leadership capability, a
commodity President Wheeler
possessed in abundance.
Fortunately, in his case it was
mixed with a good dose of
"bonhomie" which, in conjunction
with the beauty of the surroundings,
made the work less onerous. At the
end of the day, to quote from
Austrian guide Conrad Kain's
autobiography: Where the Clouds
Can Go, "we were almost dead from
fatigue and suffered martyrdom
Cathedral Mountain Camp -1913.
Photo courtesy of: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
from mosquitoes. We were cursing
in five or six different languages." 8
Other concerns could involve water
supply, ingeniously remedied at the
1908 Rogers Pass camp by running
a water pipe from one on top of a
snow shed to culminate in modern
taps set up in various quarters of
the camp. The sun warming the
pipe on top of the shed made
possible the unanticipated luxury of
hot water during the day. A trail
constructed by guide and outfitter
Donald ("Curly") Phillips, with
ingenious sloping bridges over the
rough spots, greatly facilitated
approach to the 1913 Mr. Robson
Camp. And in 1939, preparations
for that year's camp show concern
for the logistics of transporting, by
packhorse, an organ to be used at
evening sing-songs and the Sunday
church service.
The camps, staged during the
month of July at a locale in the
Rockies or Selkirks, lasted about
two weeks. Members were notified
by a brochure giving full details as
to regulations, what clothes to
bring, etc. All who decided to
participate travelled by train to the
station nearest the camp. From
that point, they generally hiked
what could amount to 18 miles
through breathtaking scenery. (The
less energetic had the option of a lift
in a "democrat" or, in later years, a
truck.) The scenery
notwithstanding, the participants,
wearied by their trek, welcomed the
sight of the camp's first tents, and
flags fluttering from flagpoles. After
being assigned sleeping quarters
from the Administrative Tent, they
would proceed to the Tea Tent,
where Wheeler's frail, ladylike wife,
Clara, elegantly attired in "a large,
softly draped hat, long skirt, shirt
waist blouse and tie," 9 would ply
them with tea and listen "with keen
interest" 10 to what they had to say
about their journey.
The "tent city" that was to be
their home for the next two weeks is
perhaps best summed up in the
following extract from the account in
the Canadian Alpine Journal of the
1908 Rogers Pass Camp:
"When all was finished the view
from the top of the snow shed was
an imposing one. On a level dip in
the centre was the dining pavilion,
an awning erected on a scaffolding
of poles, a new one large enough to
cover the entire assemblage,
including the dining tables and cook
tents, the ladies' tea tent, the
official notice board, the post office,
and still leave room for all to gather
during storms. Beyond it, in the
same dip, arranged in symmetrical
order, were the campfire - the altar
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
20 of worship where the fire never
quenched during the period of
devotion to the white peaks
surrounding it - the President's and
Secretary's tents, the art exhibit
tent and behind, on the hillside, the
scattered tents of the various
officials. . . . and of those who had
brought their own canvas. On either
side, on gently rising slopes, were
the Ladies' and Gentlemen's groups
of white bell tents set in
commanding positions." n A
similar configuration at the 1909
Lake O'Hara Camp has been
described as looking like "a glimpse
of fairyland - all green and yellow
and white and blue" 12 in its setting
in a mountain meadow. Pack trains
operated by the Brewsters, the Otto
Brothers and, at the Mt. Robson
Camps, the Hargreaves', provided
an "umbilical cord" to the outside
It is interesting to note that in the
early years, when tourism and the
revenue to be obtained therefrom
were the primary concern of both
governments and railways, a few
voices were "crying in the
wilderness" about the
environmental impact of the camps,
which often accommodated between
150 and 200 people. One belonged
to Walter Wilcox, mentioned earlier
as being one of the first to explore
and climb in the Rockies and
Selkirks. He was concerned that
"the formation of a permanent camp
on the shores of this lake [O'Hara]
will necessitate buildings or tents
which, if visible, will be an eyesore
to the thousands of visitors who will
come here in future years. It will
mean the making of a trail, the
tramping of hundreds of horses
around the shore of the lake, the
building of stables and consequent
entire destruction of one of the most
beautiful shorelines in the Canadian
Rockies." 14 To which National
Parks Commissioner J.B. Harkin
replied: "If we adhere to the policy
of keeping these large national
Canadian parks in a strictly
primeval condition this would mean
no building of roads, no construction
of trails .... consequently only the
few would be able to enjoy the
magnificent scenery."15 The debate
continues today.
Some of the British Columbia
venues subjected to being spoiled
this way but which nevertheless
refreshed hundreds of souls with
their beauty included, in addition to
Lake O'Hara, Rogers Pass, Yoho
Valley, Mount Assiniboine, Mount
Robson, and, in later years, the
Bugaboos, Lake of the Hanging
Glacier, and Elk Lake. Lake
O'Hara, declared by American
painter John Singer Sargent to be
"the most beautiful lake he had ever
seen",16 was one of the most
popular. Yoho provided "interesting
ground for the mountaineer of some
experience who glories in a good,
stiff climb."" Rogers Pass, in
addition to the splendour and
challenge of its peaks, offered
interesting historical associations.
Camp was more often than not set
up on the site of the old Glacier
House Hotel, point of departure for
the first ascents in the Selkirks and,
after its demolition in 1929, reduced
to its cement foundations, grass,
air, and, for some, a fond memory.
Mount Robson, more remote and
rough and ready, dazzled with its
scenery. In later years, camps held
at the Bugaboos, Elk Lake, and the
Lake of the Hanging Glacier,
opened up new delights and
Participants having "settled in" at
any of the above destinations, I
shall now conduct the reader
through a typical day at camp. A
case in point would involve a
"graduating climb". Having been
thoroughly schooled in state of the
art techniques for moving about on
both rock and ice, a prospective
member would make the night
preceding an early one. Without
doubt, he/she would sleep little,
perhaps anticipating the 4 a.m.
wake up call sounded by
Commander in Chief Wheeler. Then
the effort to "break the ice" of a raw,
cold morning, dress in the dark, and
proceed to a breakfast of porridge,
bacon and strong coffee. Then a roll
call, "terse instructions" 1S from the
Commander in Chief culminating in
his blessing of a genial "good day"
prior to setting off, single file,
guides in the lead, into a frosty
moonlight meadow. Then perhaps
some slogging through underbrush,
and up rocky trails, until arrival at
the base of the selected peak. Then
(heart in mouth) following the guide
up "pinnacle after pinnacle. . . . each
one loftier than the other",19 until
reaching "the highest point of the
mountain".20 At this "highest
point", participants would scoop up
stones and add them to a cairn laid
down by hardy souls who had come
this way before. Prior to the
descent, the national anthem would
be sung, ringing crystal clear in the
cold air bathing a sea of ice and
snow clad peaks.
Then the long trip back to camp
which would begin by "glissading
down steep snow slopes" 2i until
"the glacial sheet was reached, with
its dangerous crevasses and
treacherous snow bridges".22
Everyone, knowing a misstep might
be one's last in this world and first
into the next, obeyed the guide to
the letter, in accordance with
Wheeler's tireless instructions.
Then came the rocky portions,
where the rope "that made us one
felt like a friend, steadying the
nerve and giving heart to the
timid". 23
One of the "timid", Vancouver
school teacher, Kate McQueen,
describes her experience:
"And then, addressing me, he
[A.H. McCarthy] said: "Miss
McQueen, I have to do something
I've never done before. I have to put
you on the end of the rope. You'll
have to go down first."
"Oh dear! When I looked down
the snowy slope of Mount President
I seemed to be looking into infinity.
However, I've always been a
cowardly person, but never letting
people know. There we were up
there, two helpless women with a
very expert mountaineer. Well,
there was nothing to do. I made no
fuss. But by Jove I hope I'll never
have to look in this life into
anything that is so endless."24
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 Many like her survived such
ordeals to savour consciousness of
"having attained"25 as they crossed
verdant, flower strewn meadows
resounding with the tinkling of bells
round the necks of pack horses, to be
welcomed into camp as "full fledged,
active members of the Alpine Club of
Those who had completed their
"rite de passage" (placing them in
the category of "active" members)
had at their disposal a variety of
options for spending their day. One
could join any number of
hikes/climbs to the countless beauty
spots in the vicinity of the camps.
From centre points such as Rogers
Pass and Mount Sir Donald hikes
went to the Nakimu Caves (closed
since 1932) and the surrounding
Cougar Valley. Many, afflicted with
claustrophobia, preferred the latter:
spangled with flowers, resounding
with the whistling of marmots and
presided over by glacier draped
peaks traversed by flocks of
mountain goats. Forming a
tempting "back door" to the Yoho
and Lake O'Hara venues were the
peaks and beauty spots of the Lake
Louise region. Favorites among
these were Paradise Valley, Mounts
Victoria, Lefroy, Hungabee and
others. From Yoho, excursions went
to places like Twin and Takakkaw
Falls, Yoho Glacier and the fossil
beds of Burgess Pass. On some
occasions, members saw fit to fulfil
the Club's scientific mandate by
placing metal plates on glaciers to
measure their advance or (more
often that not) retreat.
The principal "raison d'etre" of the
Camps being to climb mountains, it
is it be expected that, over and
above the graduating climbs,
participants would do a great deal
of that, sometimes adding to a
growing list of first ascents. Of
these, one of the most noteworthy
was Mount Robson in 1913. U.S.
navy captain A.H. McCarthy, B.C.
Deputy Minister of Public Works
WW Foster and their remarkable
guide, Conrad Kain, accomplished
the first technically proper ascent of
the mountain in the course of that
Pondering the Odds - A group on the 1800 foot terrace on Mumm Peak, Robson camp.
Photo courtesy of: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
(In 1909 Reverend    W.A.D.     ("Phyl")    Munday,    of
year s camp
George Kinney from Victoria and his
guide, Curly Phillips missed the
summit by only a few feet on
account of bad weather.) When they
reached the top, Conrad Kain
laconically informed his clients:
"Gentlemen, that's as far as I can
take you",27 a statement that would
surely rank with Mallory's reason
for climbing Everest: "Because it is
there" in a compendium of
mountaineering quotations. The
second camp held at Mount Robson
in 1924 witnessed another stunning
achievement.    Two women: Mrs.
Vancouver, dean of Canadian
women climbers, and Miss A.E.
Buck from the U.S. vanquished that
mountain a second time.
In 1959 the spectacular forms of
the Bugaboos (Conrad Kain made a
number of daring first ascents here)
provided plenty of excitement.
Camp chronicler Gail Taylor writes:
"...there was news of yet another
successful attempt on Marmolata,
Pigeon, East Post or Crescent Spire,
spoken of with affection as old
friends now, for it had been found
they   were   Bugaboos   in   name
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
22 only."2*
The camp at Elk Lake in 1964,
then a new area, offered many
opportunities for first ascents, duly
accomplished under the leadership
of Peter Fuhrmann. Many of these
peaks had yet to be "baptized".
Thanks to the Club's high safety
standards - on one trip in 1909,
"Wheeler insisted on calling the roll
every hour in case someone had
disappeared into a crevasse"29 - few
tragic happenings marred the
happy occasions the camps
generally turned out to be. One did
happen the previous year, which
may account for Wheeler's
fastidiousness in the situation
referred to above. A young woman
from Lethbridge, Alberta, Helen
Hatch, carried away no doubt by
youthful enthusiasm mixed with a
headiness induced by her rarified
surroundings, took off after Oliver,
A.O. Wheeler's son (destined to
become Sir Oliver, Surveyor General
of India), down a "shoulder" - to fall
to her death, in spite of young
Oliver's warnings and subsequent
attempt to stop her. Any accidents
that did occur often came about
through this kind of defiance. An
accident not resulting in death or
injury could, in retrospect, be
regarded with humor. A witness at
the General Mountaineering Camp
held at Mount Robson in 1974
records: "My dad was rescued by
means of a pulley system - the
rescuers were so eager that he shot,
vigorously protesting, like a cork out
of a champagne bottle, and almost
went head first into the next
crevasse. "3°
Participants at camp did not have
to climb or go on a long hike every
day. It was possible to spend an
enjoyable and profitable "day off
pottering around camp: going on
short walks to photograph, sketch,
botanize, fish, take icy dips in a
lake, if there was one, play bridge,
or enjoy chit chat in the tea tent. A
participant at the 1955 Mount
Robson Camp passed a rainy day in
his sleeping bag, "reading
mountaineering and metaphysics,
or chatting about the same with
[his] tent mates."31 Another thing
one could do was watch others
climb: one could train a pair of
binoculars on a mountain and watch
the little black specks of one's fellow
campers inch ant-like across its
snowy face. A participant at a
number of camps in the '40's and
'50's and who kept meticulous
diaries has this to say about days
off: "It is very pleasant to get up as
late as one can, have as much
breakfast as you want, and
afterwards do what you like, taking
plenty of time about it."32
After a day of hiking, climbing, or
taking it easy, everyone got
together for supper and, afterwards,
the evening campfire. Supper,
prepared in the early days by
Chinese cooks, was served at tables
frequently decorated with
attractively arranged bouquets of
wild flowers. (Given current concern
for the environment, such bouquets
would today be "verboten".)
Following upon dinner came the
evening campfire: the heart and soul
of the camps. The assembly of
participants has been referred to by
a number of writers as a "family",33
and the fire itself as "an altar of
worship".34 People reminisced,
planned and "dissected"35 climbs,
sang - and yodelled - in syncopation
with packhorse bells tinkling in the
meadows, listened to the likes of
Captain McCarthy (first to ascend
both Mount Robson and, in 1925,
Mount Logan in the Yukon,
Canada's highest), Sir Noel Odell, a
colleague of Mallory's on Everest,
and other giants of the
mountaineering fraternity, describe
their experiences and triumphs, and
drink cocoa. Auctions taking "the
form of a Si wash potlach"36 were
sometimes held. And the 1952
camp at Mount Assiniboine had the
participants introducing one another
by the person on their left, which
"caused some amusement and
provided a profitable evening."37
Finally, when the fire began to die
down, all got up - ladies first, to the
tune of "Good Night, Ladies"38 sung
by the gentlemen - and "turned in"
to spend the night on cushy balsam
bough mattresses.
Sundays, church services were held
in the same spot. To quote from
Geoffrey Capes' 1947 diary: "
was impressive, people grouped
round the stone circle camp fire site;
the dark trees and green sward, the
brilliant sun pouring down the
gleaming mountains of the Cheops
group..."39 Another year (1955) at
Mount Robson, the service was held
in an old cabin, decorated with
evergreen branches and flowers for
the occasion. The opening hymn
was "Go Tell it on the Mountain".
Through the window, Mount Robson
exerted its powerful presence. Given
such surroundings and such
circumstances, it would not be
difficult to stir up in oneself the
necessary reverence.
To come down to earth, the Annual
General Meetings were also held
round the "magic circle" of the
campfire. Such matters as
construction of the Banff Clubhouse,
acquisitions of books for the Library,
and money, money, money, were
among the items discussed.
Animosities which apparently
surfaced at one meeting were
patched up afterward with a chicken
dinner, which seems to have become
Leave taking appears to have been
a matter left to personal initiative.
When the two weeks were up at the
1959 camp held in the Bugaboos,
"parties round the evening bonfires
grew smaller, the last ascents were
made, goodbyes were said and a
few tents taken down here and
there. Early on Saturday morning
the last big truckload of campers
started back down the road".40 The
termination of a 1971 camp in the
same region is tinged with the
regret that "so many new routes
had to be left unexplored."41
What of the people who saw in
these camps set in a primeval,
pristine world far from the glitz of
the railway hotels, an ideal vaction?
Nationality wise, Canadians from
nearly every province formed the
largest contingent by far. Gina La
Force describes them as being
primarily middle aged professionals
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 with urban background, and who
had time and money for travel.
Many had attended private schools
or military academies. The values
contingent on this type of
background: British upper class
leavened with New World
democracy, set the tone of the
camps for years to come. The
second largest constituted similar
types from the U.S. Finally, a
smattering hailed from places like
Britain, Austria, Germany,
Switzerland, New Zealand, and, in
1937, one from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. In 1965 six Japanese girls
belonging to their country's alpine
club delighted with accounts of
expeditions in their homeland with
their "gay shirts and jackets",42 and
origami (paper folding)
demonstrations. The same also
took care to voice enthusiastic
appreciation for what the Canadian
mountains had to offer,
Scholars of all types formed a
substantial component,
representing, in 1909, organizations
as diverse as The Royal Society of
Great Britain, the Royal and
American Geographical Societies,
the Entomological Societies of
both Britain and the U.S., and
the Linnaen Society. Last, but
by no means least, come
members of mountaineering
organizations, both Canadian
and foreign.
More often than not, the more
outstanding representatives of
these organizations were called
upon to provide evening
entertainment round the
campfire. This generally took
the form of recapitulations of
their careers, achievements and
travels. A full listing of these
great names could go on and
on. Of the mountaineers, some
of the more noteworthy include
the aforementioned Captain
McCarthy, Professor Charles C,
Fay of Harvard, a pioneer of
mountaineering in the Selkirks,
and Noel E. Odell, who has
gone down in history as being
the last to see George Mallory
alive - as a black speck on the
world's highest mountain, whose
summit he may or may not have
reached prior to tumbling to his
death in 1924. Gracing the 1909
O'Hara Camp with his presence was
Matterhorn conqueror Edward
Whymper, voicing a litany of
complaints about the Camp's food
and drink - or lack thereof as far as
his fastidious tastes were concerned
- and the mosquitoes,
Scientific guests included the Vaux
family of Philadelphia, who made
the first glacier studies in the
Rockies and Selkirks, geologist A.P
Coleman, botanist Julia Henshaw,
whose books on wildflowers were
among the first to spell out the flora
of the Western mountains, and
entomologist Dr. Emerton of Boston.
An artist whose watercolors of the
Canadian mountain regions are
some of the finest and most
interesting, appeared on the scene
in 1914 to impress Kate McQueen
as being "simply carried away by
his own descriptions of the lovely
colorings of nature up here....", and
whose effusions along that line
proved a little too much for some,
At the Upper Yoho Camp in 1919,
Photo courtesy of: Whyte
Museum of the Canadian Rockies
soldiers returning from World War I
were given the appropriate heroes'
welcome. In 1942, with attendance
diminished on account of World War
II, then well under way, a battalion
of soldiers was invited to use the
camp as a base for mountain
warfare training.
While perusing the lists of
successful "graduates" that follow
the camps in the Canadian Alpine
Journal, I am struck by how many
names are prefaced by "Miss". In
contrast to its British counterpart,
which finally condescended to
admitting women in 1974, the
Alpine Club of Canada from the
beginning had in its membership a
healthy representation from the fair
sex. Already in 1907, one year after
the Club was founded, this
amounted to one third and, ten
years later, increased to 40%. In
Mountain Climbing Guides in
Canada, Alison Griffiths and Gerry
Wingenbach attribute this to the
"pioneer spirit", one of whose
aspects was men and women being
required to participate equally in
At first camp, fifteen women
gamely transcended the
handicap of their "voluminous
bloomers"45 to complete the
graduating climb. When it
came to the descent, they must
have presented quite a sight
glissading down the slopes in
"long skirts and frilly hats"46.
At a later camp, the
technological innovation of
"knickerbockers" made quite an
impression on one gentleman:
"...very satisfying to the
aesthetic sense for anyone who
has once got accustomed to the
natural grace of a healthy,
athletic girl in garments which
give every movement of the
limbs free play."47 Aesthetic
notwithstanding, they made
climbing much easier. By the
1920's, they became mandatory
and were incorporated into the
dress requirements for camp.
By the late twenties, "ski
slacks" appeared on the scene
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
24 to get a five star recommendation.
The clothing described above might
be fine for climbing, but "at the
campfires," reports Kate McQueen,
"you wore your skirt."48
To pursue the subject of clothing,
in the early years the "derby hats
and summer straws"49 and "the
white collar standard in sartorial
finish"50 fancied by a number of men
proved as inappropriate to the
mountain environment as some of
the clothes worn by women.
"The ideal costume for climbing,"
as stipulated in a draft for the
revision of the Camps information
bulletin in 1939, "consists of
knickerbockers made of some
smooth, closely woven material, a
warm flannel shirt and a soft felt
hat. Rough tweeds [worn by the
early Everest teams] are taboo; they
hold the snow badly. The main
point is to allow plenty of room for
the knees..."51
What sort of panegyric would the
author of this paper have come up
with for gortex?
The report of the 1937 camp held
at Yoho stipulates that "young
people" were admitted to camp for
the first time and "proved a
valuable addition to all camp
activities, including the camp
fires."52 Wise heads at the camp
apparently saw fit to dispense
lessons in "love and life"53 along
with mountaineering education.
The same camp witnessed a
considerable divergence in age
among those completing their
graduating climbs. A lady from
Vancouver celebrated her 65th
birthday on the summit of Mount
Vice President. On the same day,
John Wheeler, son of Oliver and
grandson of A.O, also climbed the
Not everyone welcomed the
presence of younger people. In the
1940 Club correspondence, the
Secretary Treasurer complains
"children eat twice as much as
others"54 (was he referring to
teenagers?) and voices the opinion
they should have separate tents, a
commodity then in short supply.
At the "Family Camp" at Yoho in
1974 children of all ages seemed
very much part of the picture. Their
activities ranged from practising
"belaying and climbing at the base
of Isolated Peak [frequently painted
by Lawren Harris] and playing
boats in the river that runs through
the meadow in front of the cabin."55
Camp chroniclers pay frequent
tribute to the fine work done by the
support staff, referred to in the early
years as "the men in buckskin".
Times were bound to happen when
their ingenuity would be put to the
test. Frank Yeigh mentions as
occasion during one of the early
camps when outfitter Jack Otto had
to improvise a bridge and a dam to
ensure safe passage for both horses
and people round a landslide.
Inconveniences of a more domestic
kind included wood not igniting on
account of dampness, running out of
bacon, butter, or, in later years,
propane to light the stoves. Cooks,
however, managed to overcome
these difficulties to provide a
continuum of satisfying meals.
Not only paid staff but volunteers
among camp participants performed
many noble services. A.H.
McCarthy, for one, instructed novice
climbers and took them out among
the peaks. And in the tea tent, the
ladies ensured an unceasing flow of
tea to refresh those returning from
climbs or days out on the trail.
Most notably, Phyl Munday,
mentioned earlier as the second
person and first woman to have
climbed Mount Robson, provided
first aid services, dispensing
psychological balm along with the
ointment and bandages she applied
to wounds and blisters.
Forming the cornerstone of the
camps' programs were the guides,
one of the "perks" supplied by the
railways. Among those lending
their expertise to climbing parties
were the three Feuz': Edward,
Ernest and Gottfried, Mortiz
Inderbinen, Christian Jorimann,
Walter Schauffelberger and Rudolf
Aemmer. One of the favorites,
directly employed by the Club and
an outstanding climber in his own
right, was Austrian Conrad Kain.
His good looks, courtly European
manners and thoughtfulness went
over especially well with the ladies.
His kisses planted "on demure
cheeks"56 and stories told while
storms raged robbed threatening
situations of their terror. At the
1909 O'Hara Camp, by having the
foresight one day to bring along
extra pairs of gloves, he made it
possible for the ladies in his charge
to complete their climbs and not
have to turn back on account of
frozen fingers, as was the case with
another guide. Such gestures made
it easier for many a lady to fulfil her
membership requirements.
Relations between guides and
their clients were not always rosy,
at least from the guides' point of
view. Their pay fell considerably
short of what they might have made
at the hotels and, according to
Edward Feuz, "Canadians were
notorious for tipping very poorly."57
Conrad Kain mentions how one
elderly gentleman from Montreal
whose mood had turned sour when
returning from a climb, "made
everything right with a five dollar
tip and flattering words."58 By and
large, however, he did not find
relations with his clients totally
satisfactory: "...I saw that the
Canadian tourists have the same
attitude as so many European
climbers: in the valley the guide is
soon forgotten. In the mountains
and in camp he is "dear friend".59
The "democratization of climbing"
appears not to have extended to the
guides. At the 1947 camp, this
may have been rectified in part by
conferral, at the Annual General
Meeting, of Honorary Life
Membership on three of the guides:
Rudolf Aemmer, Edward and Ernest
What of peoples' behavior in
general? It goes without saying the
ambience of the camps was one
where camaraderie, fellowship and
good will predominated. However,
all group situations from families to
workplaces require that people learn
to cope with the idiosyncrasies of
their fellows. At the camps, this
generally involved nothing more
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 than putting up with the strange
"growls and groans that some
people make at night,"60 or the
inconveniences of dressing and
undressing in a tent shared with
others. Egos are certain to rise and
fall, knock and be knocked about, on
both mountaintops and in valleys.
Conrad Kain refers to the occasion of
a meal being prepared after a
storm: "It was interesting how
everyone wanted to help and
everyone understood the matter
better than his fellow."61 On one
occasion, camp members employed a
rather devious method to put one
particularly obnoxious camper in his
place: "...he was taken out for a
day by some experienced climbers to
some very precipitous rocky peaks.
They took him up nearly to the top
three of those peaks, but not quite
to the summit, and so they gave
him a good work out and tired him
out, without giving him the
satisfaction of having reached any
summit."62 Most bothersome to the
authorities were infractions such as
absconding with cups and other
dining equipment and being
careless with ropes. Mavericks in
groups of climbers and hikers, such
as a New Zealander who saw in
"every rock outcrop and slight
overhang a "beaut bivy"63 must
have given many a leader,
responsible for bringing all his
charges back to camp in one piece, a
By and large, however, such
things get forgotten in positive
experiences like an evening
campfire described by Conrad Kain:
"That evening all the registered
guests were present: more that two
hundred people! Not in vain have
so many pleasant stories been
written about campfires in the
Rockies! It makes a unique picture
to see so many people grouped
about such a huge fire, lying,
sitting, standing. There are songs,
laughing and joking. Recitations
are given, in short, everything in
the best humor."64 Such images as
this must be the ones that steal up
on camp participants in the midst
of a busy office day, long after they
have left camp, and make them
want to return another year.
What long term benefits did the
camps confer? First and foremost,
they were set up to turn some
Canadians into mountaineers,
According to Gina La Force, the best
of the "fifty to ninety" ....
"completely inexperienced men and
women"65 who    completed
graduating climbs every year prior
to World War I "equalled any in
England and the U.S."«« More
recently, Canadian climbers have
twice succeeded at the "Olympics"
of mountaineering: Mount Everest,
The second expedition in 1986
placed on its storm buffeted summit
the first North American woman,
Sharon Wood of Canmore, Alberta.
And yet another, Patrick Morrow,
formerly of Kimberley, B.C. and also
residing in Canmore, made the
rounds of the highest mountains on
all seven of the world's continents.
His achievement is none the less
remarkable for an American having
"beat him to it". In the words of
Cyril Wates, Club President in
1939, "mountaineering is not the
trick performance of a gymnast but
a sport for all who have good health
and can enjoy a brisk ten mile walk
without undue fatigue: a sport
which takes you into scenes of
untold grandeur and challenges to
the full your skill, courage and
Over and above mountaineering
skills, the Club sought to inculcate
in its members such Victorian
virtues as "spartan athleticism",
"endurance of pain" and "brotherly
love",68 in order to turn out "good
citizens and patriots",69 and to
forestall "racial degeneration".70
The rhetoric of these early years
also makes out the tent cities that
were the camps to be platonic
Utopias of "harmonious good will".71
Last but not least, diverse
psychological benefits accrued to
participants. The unadulterated
nature to be found in mountain
environments provided balm to
spirits caught up in the hurly burly
of city living. Women benefited in a
unique kind of way. After her
vacation, "the woman climber
returns to her round of daily duties
in the workaday world, but she had
only to close her eyes for a second
and she is transported to her
mountain top. Brainfag? Nervous
exhaustion? Asthenic muscles?
They have lost their dreaded
meaning."72 Another writer, Frank
Yeigh, speaks of the sense of
achievement which makes the
physical effort and courage required
to vanquish a mountain well worth
while. Perhaps the most moving
testimony to the benefits of the
camps is a description of their effect
on WE. Stone, Vice President of
Purdue University in Indiana,
"A Sea of Ice": Robson Glacier
Photo courtesy of: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
26 tragically killed in a fall from Mount
Eon in the Assiniboine region in
1922: "One could almost see his
transformation from a man of heavy
responsibilities to that of a strong,
vigorous boy."73
The Yukon Alpine Centennial
Expedition in 1967 seems to have
denoted a watershed in the
evolution of the camps. The natures
of both climbing and society had
changed dramatically since the
camp's inception in antebellum
1906. With so many peaks climbed
at least once, passion for exploration
and "bagging" first ascents gave
way to mastering new routes.
Technology made it possible to
perform feats that would have once
seemed superhuman. In some
cases, humans, opting to relinquish
technology, have quite kept apace
with it. In short, climbing became
no longer, in Conrad Kain's words,
merely a matter of "putting one foot
in front of the other and always the
second a little higher than the
Being beyond the scope I have set
for this article to go into changes in
the camps' format to any great
length or detail, I shall do no more
than hint at them. "General
Mountaineering Camps" (extended
to three weeks) are still operated
each year to train novice climbers.
Other camps have been instituted
for highly trained and skilled
mountaineers, such as one held at
Fairy Meadows in 1968. At these,
those who have made climbing a
religion can go "all out" with
technology, or keep it to a
minimum, without being
encumbered by the large numbers
present at the earlier camps, which
would include a considerable
proportion of novices and the less
adept. Such elevated levels of skill
make guides no longer necessary.
It goes without saying these
smaller camps exert a
correspondingly smaller impact on
the environment. Then there are
the "Family Camps", where
children from toddlers to teenagers
are welcomed with open arms.
Happenings such as raiding the
cook's quarters for pots and pans to
scare off bears and picking
blueberries to be made into pies at
supper characterize these camps as
occasions of spontaneous informality
and good clean fun. Climbing is
done but in a spirit of play. These
format changes are perhaps the
result of climbing having become
truly democratized. Whatever
shape the camps have taken over
the years, they have provided
Canadians an affordable means of
acquainting themselves with their
country's heart and soul: its
The writer is librarian at the Whyte
Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff
1.     Title of one of the many pamphlets and brochures
issued by the C.RR. to promote tourism.
Z.     Fraser, Esther. Wheeler, p. 62.
3. Alpine Club of Canada. Constitution, 1906.
4. La Force, Gina. The Alpine Club of Canada,
1906-1929. p. 19.
5. Ibid. p. 7.
6. Loc. cit.
7. Fraser, Esther. Wheeler, p.63.
B.     Kain, Conrad.  Where the Clouds Can Go. 2nded.
p. 215.
9.    Fraser, Esther. Wheeler p. 64.
10. Loc. cit.
11. Canadian Alpine Journal V2, Pt. 1(1909). p. 153.
12. Canadian Alpine Journal V2, Pt. 2(1910). p. 212.
13. Canadian Alpine Journal V 39(1956). p. 117.
14. Getty, Ian A.L. An Historical Guide to Yoho
National Park. p. 211.
15. [bid. p. 214.
18,     Canadian Alpine Journal V 12(1922). p. 200.
17. GettylanA.L. An Historical Guide to Yoho
National Park. p. 205.
18. Fraser, Esther. Wheeler, p. 64.
19. Yeigh, Frank. Through theHeart of Canada p. 243.
20. Loc. cit.
21. Ibid, p.244.
22. Loc. cit.
23. Ibid. p.251.
24. In the Western Mountains. Sound Heritage. Will,
no. 4. (1980). p. 22-24.
25. Yeigh, Frank. Through the Heart of Canada p.245.
26. Ibid, p.254.
27. Kain, Conrad. WheretheCloudsCanGo. p.317.
28. Canadian Alpine Journal V43(1960) p.117
29. La Force, Gina L. The AlpineChibof Canada,
1906-1929. p. 8-9
30. Canadian Alpine Journal V58Q975. p.90.
31. Canadian Alpine Journal V39I1956). p.116.
32. Capes, GeoiTrey. [Personal diary of A.C.C. Summer
CAmp, 1947, July 18 entry].
33. Yeigh, Frank. The Alpine Club of Canada Articlein
Canadian Magazine 1907. p.256.
34. Canadian Alpine Journal V2,Pt.2( 1910). p.213.
35. Canadian Alpine Journal V52 (1989). p.102.
36. Canadian Alpine Journal V18 (1930). p.123.
37. Canadian Alpine Journal V36 11953). p.174.
38. Fraser, Esther. Wheeler, p.65.
39. Capes, Geoffrey. [Personal diary of A.CC. Summer
Camp, 1947, July 20 entry]
40. Canadian Alpine Journal V43U960). p.119.
41. Canadian Alpine Journal V55H972). p.28.
42. Canadian Alpine Journal V48(1965). p.175
In the Western Mountains, Sound Heritage. Will,
no.4(1980). p.24.
Griffiths, Alison and Wingenbach, Gerry. Mountain
Climbing Guides in Canada p. 97-98.
Fraser, Esther, Wheeler, p.65.
Loc. cit.
Ibid, p.76.
In the Western Mountains. Sound Heritage. Will,
no.4 (19801. p.24.
Fraser, Esther. Whader. p.63,
Herbert E. Sampson scrapbook,
Alpine Club of Canada executive papers, Draft of an
information brochure to be distributed to prospective
members, dated December 1939,
Canadian Alpine Journal V25Q938). p. 162,
Op. cit.
Alpine Club of Canada executive papers. Letter
from Secretary Treasurer to the President, August 6,
Canadian Alpine Journal V68(1975). p.87,
Fraser, Esther. Wheeler, p.76.
Griffiths, Alison and Wingenbach, Gerry. Mountain
Climbing Guides in Canada p.92-93.
Kain, Conrad. WheretheCloudsCanGo. p.219.
Ibid, p.224.
Canadian Alpine Journal V66 11983). p.92
Kain, Conrad. WheretheCloudsCanGo p.220.
Westmorland, H. Personal reminiscences, p.4
Canadian Alpine Journal V52(1969) p.102,
Kain, Conrad. Where the Clouds Can Go p.216.
La Force, Gina L. Hie Alpine Club of Canada,
1906-1929. p.8-9.
Op. cit.
Alpine Club of Canada executive papers. Draft of an
information brochure to be distributed to prospective
members, dated December, 1939.
La Force, Gina L. The Alpine Club of Canada,
1906-1929. p.17.
CanadianAlpineJoumal Vll (1920). p.227.
La Force, Gina L. The Alpine Club of Canada,
1906-1929. p.17.
Op. cit.
La Force, Gina L. The Alpine Club of Canada,
1906-1929. p.18.
Canadian Alpine Journal V12H922). p.170.
Kain, Conrad. Where the Clouds Can Go p.310.
library sources
1. Fraser, Esther. Wheeler. Banff: Summerthought
2. Getty, Ian A.L. An Historical Guide to Yoho
National Park. A research paper prepared for
National and Historic Parks Branch, Dept. of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development. [Ottawa, 1972]
3. Griffiths, Alison and Wingenbach, Gerry. Mountain
Climbing Guides in Canadai the Esaiy years.
Unpublished manuscript prepared for 1977 Parks
Awareness Program, Parks Canada.
4. In the WfestemMountainslEarh1 Mountaineering in
British Columbia compiled and edited by Susan
Leslie. Sound Heritage Provincial Archives of
British Columbia Aural History Program. Will,
No. 4(1980).
5. Kain, Conrad. Where the Clouds Can Go. Boston.
Charles T. Branford, 1954, C1935.
6. La Force, Gina L. The AlpineChibof Canada
1906-1929. Thesis (M.A.I, University of Tbronto,
7. Yeigh, Frank. Through theHeart of Canada
Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1911.
8. Yeigh, Frank. The Alpine Club of Canada From
Canadian Magazine, 1907.
9. Canadian Alpine Journal [Banff?]: Alpine Club of
Canada, 1907 to date.
Archival Soruoea.
1. Alpine Club of Canada. Executive papers; C.G.
Wates, President,  1938-41.
2. Geoffrey B. Capes. Diaries, 1947-57.
3. Sampson, Herbert E. Scrapbook, 1922-1939.
4. Westmorland, Horace. Reminiscences, [ca 1971],
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 Kamloops' Heroes
by Tracey Devitt
The brave man is not he who feels fear,
For that were stupid and irrational;
But he whose noble soul its fear subdues,
And bravely shares the danger nature shrinks from.
Joanna Baillie
Bravery and heroism are two
aspects of human nature that are
extremely important to society.
Bravery is the ability to endure
danger or pain while heroism may
be described as conspicuous bravery.
In the strictest sense, to be a hero
one must be noticed. Heroism is not
based on race or sex.
As a group, these heroes do not
seek to be admired. We, however,
like to exalt them to near God-like
status. We study their lives and
deeds and ask ourselves, "Could I
do that? I hope I could".
Modern Kamloops has an
interesting history. At times it
resembled the Wild West of the
United States with gunfights and
train robberies. However, our city
has also had its share of people who
have brought honour to Kamloops.
During the First and Second World
Wars some of our residents received
awards and medals from other
countries. Here are just a few
examples of Kamloops' humble
■* Joseph Thatcher Jones, the first
school teacher at Cache Creek in
1874, was an ordinary man. He
planned a visit to his son but ...his
trip did not turn out like he
In 1877 Jones took up farming in
Westwold. His son, William, stayed
in the Cache Creek area and started
a freight business on the Cariboo
Road.    Five years later William
decided to close down his business.
He asked his father to meet him in
Boston Bar for William's last trip.
On November 2, 1882 father and
son left Boston Bar with four tons of
blasting powder for the CPR. Five
miles into their journey the powder
exploded. William was thrown clear
and left unconscious, his clothes in
Joseph was badly burned in the
explosion. He struggled the five
miles back to Boston Bar to get
help. After gasping out a few
details, he died; his son survived.
•* In 1887 three Indian constables
risked their lives trying to protect
people from a mad man. One
constable was killed, another was
seriously injured.
That dreadful night in November,
both Alex McLean and Phillip
Thoma had been drinking in
Kamloops. They returned to the
Indian Reserve feeling extremely
good about themselves, yelling and
racing their horses. Constables
Auxime and Williams, with the help
of Phillip Thoma, tried to calm Alex
down, but Alex would have none of
it. He shot Constable Auxime above
the left ear. He then shot another
constable, Lazar Sikes, in the hand.
The crowd that had gathered
dispersed.    Constable Williams
refused to leave. He tried to talk
Alex into turning himself over to the
police. Instead, Alex shot and killed
Constable Williams.
Alex McLean, grandson of Chief
Factor Donald McLean and nephew
of the infamous McLean brothers,
was himself shot later that night
when a bullet from an unknown gun
killed him. The person who fired
the gun was never brought to trial.
•* Another Provincial Police
Constable who proved himself in the
course of his duty was William L.
Fernie. His courage and quick
thinking often saved his life.
Fernie's most famous adventure
was the Bill Miner incident of 1906.
Bill Miner, with "Shorty" Dunn and
Louis Colquhoun, robbed a train at
Ducks near Kamloops in May 1906.
Constable Fernie tracked the men
into a wooded area of the Nicola
Valley. Once he had them located,
Fernie returned for help.
Unfortunately, Fernie was not
present when Miner's gang was
captured but he did help bring them
back to Kamloops.
The Bill Miner incident was not
Fernie's most difficult case. For over
a year Fernie had been tracking
Moses Paul and Paul Splintlum,
both wanted for murder. Finally in
December of 1912, he convinced the
Indians of the area to hand the two
suspects over.   They were tried and
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
28 hung in Kamloops.
In the 1912 CPR strike, this same
Constable Fernie handled the angry
strikers with commendable firmness
and courage. Constable William L.
Fernie devoted his career to
protecting people. He felt that
maintaining peace and order was
very important and he was always
ready to fulfill his duty, no matter
the cost.
•♦Ah Mee was a peaceful man. He
first came to Kamloops in 1877.
Fourteen years later he celebrated
the first Chinese wedding in town
when he married Cherry Jip Te Li.
Two years later, in 1893, Ah Mee
was honoured by the Inland
Sentinel newspaper for saving John
Mara's house from a fire which
destroyed many homes and
buildings in Kamloops:
It was a hard struggle, however,
and the men who,
notwithstanding the heat of the
flames and the blinding and
choking fumes of the smoke,
held their posts on and under
the roof and bravely fought the
fire deserve the highest praise.
Amongst these was a
Chinaman, Ah Mee, who
although but a small man, held
his post from beginning to end
in the most dangerous of
positions and worked with a will
and an energy equal to any
white man.
Despite his heroism and ongoing
contributions to Kamloops, Ah Mee
never received the respect and
acceptance he deserved from his
fellow citizens. In September of
1897 Ah Mee was nearly trampled
to death by his own horse and rig.
A loud and belligerent drunk
staggered over to Ah Mee and lifted
and shook the small cart while Ah
Mee was trying to get in. The horse
bolted, throwing Ah Mee to the
ground, gashing the head of the
small man. The local newspaper
responded with a terse editorial the
following day. "An example should
be made of this drunken man and it
would probably deter others from
scaring horses and interfering with
the Chinese."
Ah Mee endured continuous
discrimination because of his
nationality. Even City officials tried
to close his business down, citing
numerous non-existent violations.
Nevertheless, Ah Mee persisted. In
December, 1903 he placed this ad in
the Kamloops Telegraph:
Have your washing done by Ah
Mee, the whitest Chinaman in
B.C.   Clean and cheap and a
good British subject.   Will call.
Laundry on Lansdowne Street.
Ah Mee's gentle life came to a
tragic end July 2, 1926 when he
was hit by a car while riding his
bicycle.   He died a few days later in
Ah Mee loading
water barrels
at Riverside Park
in Kamloops
hospital at 69 years of age. No
blame was attached to the driver,
Clair Dalgleish, because Ah Mee did
not have a light on his bicycle.
His final tribute from the City of
Kamloops appeared in the Inland
Sentinel July 6, 1926: "Dressed
sometimes in knickerbockers or
riding breeches and stetson hat, his
cheerful comings and goings during
his long life have been part of the
daily life of the town."
■♦Another notable Kamloops hero
was John "Moose" Fulton. He
distinguished himself in World War
II as an R.A.F. pilot. His early
death was an unfortunate end to his
hair-raising flying career.
Fulton's parents moved to
Kamloops in 1889. His father,
Frederick John Fulton, was an MLA
for Kamloops between 1900-1909.
His mother was the daughter of
A.E.B. Davie, a former Premier of
B.C. John was born in 1912 in
Kamloops and he gained his
nickname "Moose" in his childhood.
He enlisted in 1934 in the R.A.F. in
England in fulfillment of a long-time
dream of flying.
In   September   1940   he   was
decorated for courage in battle for a
stunning feat near Brussels with
the 149th Squadron (R.A.F).    He
was awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross.    On December 21,
1941     he    became    the    wing
commander of a new squadron, the
419. This      group
eventually took the name
"Moose"    Squadron    in
honour of John Fulton.
On the night of April 28,
1942 while over the North
Sea, Fulton's "Wellington
was badly shot up and his
rear gunner was wounded.
The rear turret was put out
of action, the hydraulic
system was pierced enough
to cause the undercraft to
fall in the 'down' position
and the bomb doors to fall
open, a blade of the port
airscrew was splintered
and generally the kit was
holed 'a la swiss cheese"1.1
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 Fulton managed to fly his crippled
aircraft back to England to the
astonishment of the entire base. He
was awarded the Distinguished
Service Order.
On July 29 of that year Wing
Commander Fulton failed to return
from a flight over Hamburg. His
last communication was over the
Frisian Islands. He was presumed
dead in 1943.
His team never forgot him. They
continued to call themselves after
him and the "Moose" Squadron
became known for their bravery.
They are still a very active part of
Canada's Armed Forces.
In January 1943 the City of
Kamloops adopted the "Moose"
Squadron as its very own. The next
year the local airport was given the
name "Fulton Field". John Fulton,
who died at the age of 30, remains
a beloved hero.
Wing-Commander John (Moose)
Fulton, 1912-1942 DSODFCAFC
-r From 1897 to 1899 young Alma
Victoria Clarke and her family made
Kamloops their home. In the short
time they were here her mother and
father became well respected
members of the small community.
Her mother, Elizabeth, opened a
small music conservatory, while
Walter was a very busy reporter for
the Inland Sentinel. Alma was also
well known as a child prodigy.
Alma Victoria Clarke was an
adventurous and daring girl; each
successive exploit was more exciting
than the last. Because she came
from a protective family, she was
constantly testing the boundaries of
the social constraints.
Alma moved with her family to
Vancouver in 1899 until 1914 while
Mr. Clarke worked for the Vancouver
Sun. It was in Vancouver that Alma
met her husband, Robert Dolling,
When he went overseas to fight in
the war, she followed him and lived
in London. After he was killed in
battle, she joined the Ambulance
Brigade and was decorated for
outstanding service by the French
Never satisfied, Alma became
embroiled in a scandalous love affair
with T.C. Pakenham, son of an
admiral and a war hero himself. He
quickly divorced his first wife of five
years to marry Alma. Sadly, the
marriage did not last long for in
1923 Alma moved back to
Vancouver with a son by her second
marriage named Christopher.
Alma earned a living as a pianist,
commuting back and forth between
Victoria and Vancouver. While in
Victoria she met Francis
Rattenbury, a famous architect. He
was 56 years old and married. It
did not take long for Alma to become
entangled with Francis. Strange
rumors flew about that Alma had
bewitched Francis and that she had
a cocaine addiction. The scandal
rocked the conservative City of
Victoria. Although Alma and
Francis married in 1925, they were
soon forced to flee.
They retired to Bournemouth,
England hoping for a quiet life,
however, it wasn't long before Alma
became bored with her husband and
home. Although a baby, John, was
born, the marriage was beginning to
In 1934 Alma took steps to
improve her lot. She hired 18 year
old George Percy Stoner as her
personal handyman and chauffeur.
The two soon became lovers. It
didn't take long for the young and
impetuous     George     to     grow
increasingly resentful of the shared
privileges of Alma's husband,
Francis. Driven to the point of
distraction, George murdered the
older man in a fit of passion.
Both Alma and George were
arrested for murder, but George was
the main suspect. As the trial
progressed, Alma began to realize
that her selfish life style was
ruining everyone she ever knew or
loved. Alma's regrets came too late
for George, though. He was found
guilty of murder and sent to prison.
The broken Alma was aquitted and
released. Later that year, in 1935,
the unhappy Alma committed
Alma Rattenbury was a bold and
daring woman. She endured the
dangers of war and was recognized
for her bravery. Yet the rest of her
life was a dismal failure. Some may
question whether she was ever a
hero at all, but she does share many
of the attributes of the hero.
Each one of our heroes possessed
the determination needed to do
what was necessary. They did not
linger to count the cost or weigh the
consequences; they simply acted.
Their courage came from deep
within their personalities and from
a decided sense of themselves and
their duty. When the need arose for
selfless action and the question was
asked, "Can I do that?", each one of
our heroes, great and small, said
The writer grew up in Kamloops, attended
Douglas College and the University of
Victoria, married and returned to Kamloops
with her husband. She works as a full time
attendant at the Kamloops Museum and
Kamknps Museum & Archives archival hoktinjat.
1. Jones, R.D., Kamloops Museum and Archives
History Article, "Westwold Pioneer Family", 1966
2. 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron. Tlie
Moose Squadron, 1*41-45, The War Years of 419
Squadron Winnipeg: CFTMPC, 1977.
3. Reksten, Terry. Rattenbury. Victoria, B.C.: Sono
Nis Press, 1978.
I.        419 Tactical Fighter (Trainingi Squadron. The
Moose Squadron, 1941-45 The War Years of 419
Squadron. (Winnipeg: CFTMPC, 1977i 22
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
30 Lettetoa the Editor
Women In Early Farming • Pre-emptions   Important Dates In Lytton
Gwen Szychter's article (British Columbia
Historical News, / Winter 1990-91) deals
mostly with farming in the lower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island. This may be
why the author has said that "the issue of
free land neither straightforward nor resolved." In fact, the pre-emption of land continued into the 1930's, under provisions
spelled out in the Land Act. Until that time,
the only maps of much of British Columbia
were the pre-emptor's maps showing the land
available for settlers.
There was a $2 fee for recording a preemption, and a $10 charge for a Crown Grant
after the conditions of residence and improvement had been met. The fees were
waived for a "returned British Columbia soldier." Returned sailors or airmen were not
mentioned. At the cost of $12 for a 160 acre
tract, this could be classed as "free land"
even in the 1930's,
Land could be pre-empted only for
agriculture, so the system disappeared on
Vancouver Island when the E & N land grant
gave virtually all the arable land to the railway. In the lower Fraser Valley, available
land was mostly taken up before, I would
guess, 1910, In other parts of the province,
including the Cariboo, the Nechako and
Bulkley valleys, and inaccessible lands to
the north, land for pre-emption was available
to the extent that surveys had been done. It
was not possible to pre-empt unsurveyed
The system died out when the quality and
accessibility of available land were reduced,
and improved land could be bought for a few
dollars an acre, or by paying a small sum of
unpaid taxes for abandoned land.
Pre-emptions could be claimed by
bachelors, heads of families, or anyone who
was either a widow, a deserted wife, or a
femme sole (a self-supporting female over
eighteen years of age). At the time the Land
Act was drafted, one presumes that the
heads of families were male, so almost any
adult was eligible except for a married woman.
John Kendrick
In Intrepid in the Name of God1 (Vol. 23
No. 3) it is claimed that the Rev, James Gammage and the Rev. John Good both held the
first Anglican service in Lytton, one on June
5,1859 and the other on June 16,1867. Can
Pixie McGeachie tell us which is right?
Anthony Farr, Ganges, B.C.
Answer from Pixie McGeachie
Taken in context, both dates are correct,
A few added words would have clarified the
In a letter, Reverend James Gammage
says: "We arrived in Lytton on Saturday,
June 2,1859 ...On Sunday, June 5,18591
held two services here .... We can fix
Sunday, June 5,1859 as the date of the first
service in the Interior."
On Sunday, June 16, 1867 Bishop Hills
noted in his diary: "Good [Reverend John
Booth Good] held the first Anglican service
at Lytton .... Two hundred people were
present "
Canon Cyril Williams, whose extensive
research notes provided information for my
article, explains that Bishop Hills was
referring to the fact that this was the first
Anglican service in Lytton in which a bishop
participated. It was a big event for the
Thompson Indians and the community.
My thanks to Mr. Farr for giving me the opportunity to shed light on what appeared to
be conflicting information.
The Press Censorship1 story has the U.S.A.
entering the first war in 1918, The actual
date was April 6,1917,
Three Ships Cany a Noble Name
In Vol. 23 No. 4, 'Figureheads and Bow
Badges', the Empress of Canada which was
torpedoed in 1943 was not the only ship to
bear that name. The Duchess of Richmond,
built in the late 1920s, was re-named Empress of Canada after the war and served
for a few years until she was lost by fire at
Liverpool in 1953. I watched her unloading
troops in 1945 at the same port, still as the
Duchess. The third and last Empress of
Canada (27,300 tons, cruising speed 21
knots) entered CPR service in 1961 and
sailed the Atlantic route until 1971, when she
became uneconomic to run and was sold to
Carnival Cruise Lines in Feb. 1972. (The
Pacific Empresses, by Robert Turner.) I saw
her at Fort Lauderdale in 1989, re-named the
Mardi Gras. In the photo she is passing the
He d'Orleans in the St. Lawrence in Aug.
Anthony Farr,
Ganges, B.C.
The Empress of Canada
in the St. Lawrence,
Aug. 1962.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 News & Notes
B.C. IN 1913
At about 6 p.m. Pacific time on the 9th
of February, 1913, there was an
unparalelled display of meteors over
much of southern Canada. A
succession of groups of fireballs, each
with a long trailing "tail", moved from
WNW to ESE in an orbit 40 kilometers
above the earth, and were visible for
about 300 kilometers on either side of
their course. They moved at about 12
kilometers per second relative to the
earth's surface, and produced sonic
booms that reached the earth just after
the last group disappeared. The
original Canadian reports came from
Mortlach. a little west of Regina in
Saskatchewan, and from numerous
places in southwestern Ontario where
they passed directly over the city of
Guelph. Beyond that they crossed
New York and Pennsylvania, where
few saw them because of cloudiness,
but they were observed from Bermuda
and from several ships, south to a
location off Brazil.
The best accounts of this display are in
the Journal of the Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada for 1913 -1916. by C.
A. Chant and W. F. Denning. More
recently Dr. J.A. O'Keefe of the United
States Aeronautics and Space
Administration sponsored a search of
newspapers in the United States and
also in the three prairie provinces,
This extended the known track of the
meteors backward to Didsbury. Alberta,
about half way between Calgary and
Red Deer. Dr. O'Keefe feels that a
similar search in British Columbia
might extend the known orbit even
farther to the west. A projection of
their track from Didsbury passes near
Blue River, Williams Lake, Alexis
Creek, Bella Coola, Bella Bella and out
into Queen Charlotte Sound. They
could have been seen anywhere within
about 300 kilometers of this line,
except where mountains or clouds
obstructed the view. The noises, of
course, would penetrate a cloud cover,
but would be bounced off of mountains
in the line of sight.
Anyone who has access to
newspapers, diaries or ships' logs for
1913 is urged to check the date
February 9, and for a week or two
following, for reports of unusual lights
in the sky or unaccountable loud
noises. Reports from British Columbia
would be of great scientific interest,
helping to establish where the meteors
first became visible, or audible. If sent
to the undersigned, copies will be
forwarded to interested parties in
Canada and the United States.
W.E. Ricker
3052 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, B.C. V9T 1E2
SLOCOMB -1906-1991
Slocomb was born in England, grew up
in Prince Rupert, and attended high
school and business college In Victoria.
He held several forestry related jobs
then became a B.C. Land Surveyor in
1937, doing his articling In Strathcona
Park, and later the Rocky Mountain
Trench, and Liard River. He served
with the RCA as an officer from
December 1941 to February 1945. Alfs
work covered all parts of B.C., giving
him a unique knowledge of its
geography and history.
As President of the Victoria Branch of
the B.C. Historical Federation in 1972,
he was a member of its Provincial
Council till 1979. and President in
1976-77. He passed away in Victoria
on 2 January, 1991.
Shirlee Smith Matheson of
Calgary, who joined with Earl K.
Pollon of Hudson's Hope. B.C. to
write This Was Our Valley.
received the 16th Annual
Non-Fiction Award from the
Alberta Ministry of Culture and
Multiculturalism. Their book on
the history of the valley now
under Williston Lake also won the
Roderick Haig-Brown Regional
Prize at the 1990 B.C. Book Prizes,
declared "the book Published in
1989 contributing most to an
appreciation of our province."
Shirlee Uved in Hudson's Hope for
nine years during the construciton
of the Peace River (W.A.C. Bennett)
Dam; she volunteered at the local
museum. Her article "Learning
Ledgends at Hudson's Hope
Museum" won the first BCHF
Award for Best Article in the B.C.
Historical News Vol. 17 No.2
On January 29, 1991 a gathering
was held at the United Church in
Greenwood to celebrate the fortieth
anniversary of the founding of the
Boundary Historical Society. The
Minutes of the first meeting were
read observing "The cold weather
(in 1951) prevented many from
attending. The meeting was
adjourned before the fire went
out." Lois Haggen, that first
secretary, joined Mildred Roylance
to cut the large birthday cake.
Honorary Life Memberships were
presented to Lincoln Sandner, Jim
Glanville and Alice Glanville for
their dedicated service over many
years. Bernard Webber, President
of the Okanagan Historical
Society, expressed the desire to
maintain the close relationship
which has always existed between
the two societies. Gladys Floyd
entertained the audience with a
humerous monologue. M.L.A. Bill
Barlee completed the program with
an appeal to continue to record
and preserve our history.
During 1991 and 1992 we will be
packing and moving our anthropological, biological and historical
collections to allow for removal of
asbestos in our collections building. During this time some of our
artifacts and specimens will be
We will meet all our existing commitments regarding loans and
research access and will endeavour to meet any additional
Our exhibits building will remain
open to the public.
Royal British Columbia Museum
675 Belleville Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4
Loans and research contact:
Grant W. Hughes
Assistant Director
Collection Program
(604) 387-5706
For further details contact:
Tom Palfrey
Promotions Coordinator
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
32 &mkmMi
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the book review editor;
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
40 Years On The Yukon Telegraph
Guy Lawrence. Quesnel, B.C.,
Caryall Books, 1990. I22p. map and
photos. Originally pub. Vancouver,
Mitchell Pres, 1965.$12.95
The Yukon Telegraph Line was
constructed in 1900 and 1901 by
the Government of Canada to provide telegraphic service between the
Yukon and the "outside" world. It
continued in operation until the
1940s. To maintain the service men
were placed at stations situated at
intervals along the line and Guy
Lawrence, for a large part of his life,
was one such employee.
40 Years on the Yukon Telegraph
is not, as Lawrence makes clear in
his "Preface", a history of the telegraph. Rather it is an autobiographical account of his life on the
line, with a lengthy introduction
outlining his coming with his father
to the settlement of Atlin as a participant in the great rush to the gold
fields of the Yukon River. After joining the telegraph service in Atlin in
1902, the author was in sequence at
three of the stations south from Atlin towards Telegraph Creek, then
for a time at Blackwater, north of
Quesnel, and for his final twenty six
years at the town of Stewart. This
last period is given but fleeting
treatment in a single chapter. "Illustrative episodes in the life of one
who spent four decades at various
locations on the line," is Lawrence's
description in his "Preface", and
that is an accurate summary of the
Lawrence was a lad of seventeen
when he arrived in Canada in 1898
with his father, a London, England,
portrait painter. Along the way to
the Yukon they were decoyed to the
recently discovered gold region near
Atlin Lake, and his account of their
journey makes up the first third of
the book. Out of this comes a beautiful picture of the father who had
led, in the son's opinion, "a very
sedentary life", and yet who, while
waiting for the ice to come out of the
Stikine River, would refresh himself
with a daily dip among the ice flows
at the mouth of the river. "It did
not occur to me then," Lawrence
writes, "that my father was possibly not the type to endure the hardships." Nonetheless the two men do
get to the goldfields, at least those
of Atlin, and get there after spending a winter holed up with other
stampeders in the wilds north of
Telegraph Creek. When his father
leaves a couple of years later to return to England Lawrence found
that "It was a sad parting. In true
Hudson's Bay style we had broken
many sacks of flour together, and on
the trail I had got to know him better ...than in all the years before.
He would not return."
On his own in the town of Atlin
Lawrence had "$37.00 in cash, two
weeks supply of food, a log cabin,
and Prince "the sleigh dog who was
devoted to me." He worked at several jobs and when, in 1902, he fell
into a job with the telegraph his
friends tried to dissuade him by
pointing out the loneliness of the
work and that to join the service and
go to live in the bush was to acknowledge that he was a beaten
man. Lawrence was like many of
the men hired for the telegraph who
planned to stay only long enough to
amass a grub stake and then came
to love the wild and lonely life. He
had, of course, his moments of
doubt, and a few years later noted
in his diary "I like the life, but do
get lonely sometimes," and on one
occasion, on returning from a
lengthy vacation, "I almost dread
the life here now."
All, however, was not drudgery.
At the Pike River station, the first
south of the town of Atlin and situated on a beautiful small bay of the
lake, Lawrence spent much of his
time sailing his small boat. Years
later, at Blackwater, he and his
lineman companion ran a stopping
place for travellers. "When business
was slow," Lawrence writes, "men
three or four hundred miles apart
would play chess or checkers over
the wire." Most took up hobbies,
played musical instruments,
sketched or painted. The author,
"never heard of any employee cracking under the solitude."
This is a short book yet there are
many details and vignettes which
give colour and immediacy to the
story. One of the attractions is the
matter-of-fact narrative style; Lawrence presents his story simply,
minimizing the dramatics. The result is a warm, very personal, and
very readable book.
The photographs, of which there
are twenty-nine, are a useful complement to the text, though more
careful identification would have enhanced their value. Most, the reader is informed, are the work of one
J.W Sutherland. Little else is said
of Sutherland, and it is not made
clear which are his work. Sutherland joined the telegraph in the
1930s and served in the Iskut River
section south of Telegraph Creek
and as Lawrence was at Stewart
the two men would have met regularly. Photographs of the Iskut station and of Deep Creek, and others
from the line south of Telegraph
Creek were probably taken by Sutherland, and I suspect that identifications such as "October snow on
the author's Iskut station" refer to
Sutherland rather than to Lawrence
since Lawrence, from all indications,
did not serve at Iskut. One photograph with the caption "The author
at Nablin, 1906" has two people in
it but does not indicate which is
In spite of the shortcomings, and
they are the shortcomings of the
original Mitchell Press edition of
1965, Caryall Books of Quesnel is to
be commended for reprinting this account of an interesting life in British
Columbia's north.
George R. Newell
Victoria Historical Society
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 Book Shelf cont'd;
/.., . VS.. y /,/''
Timothy Eaton and the Rise of His
Department Store.
Joy L. Santink. Toronto, University of
Tbronto Press, 1990. 318 p. illus.
One of the highlights of early
winter during my youth in Brandon,
Manitoba, was the annual Eaton's
Christmas parade, an extravaganza
of beautiful floats, delightful costumes, and familiar images that
symbolized the rituals of Christmas
in the age of mass consumerism.
The parade had come from Winnipeg and was sponsored by Canada's
largest department store. Joy
Santink's book is not about Eaton's
Christmas parades, or about
Manitoba, but it does tell the story
of how the store that created this
imaginative form of advertising
came about. Among its several
achievements, Timothy Eaton
makes clear that the parade I so
fondly recall from the mid-twentieth
century had emerged out of fundamental changes in the lifestyles and
business practices of Canadians
more than a half-century earlier.
Eaton, we are told, was "a typically Victorian businessman" (p. 7).
Born the last of nine children, he
grew up a God-fearing youth firmly
committed to the values of self-
reliance and hard work. Religion
and family guided him through a
life that started in Northern Ireland
and passed through recently-settled
areas of Canada West before
becoming rooted in Toronto. After
having apprenticed as a clerk in
Ireland, Eaton spent the rest of his
working life in trade. His greatest
attribute was a willingness to meet
the ever-increasing challenges of the
marketplace by transforming customary methods of doing business.
He did not invent the institution of
the department store, says Santink,
and he generally borrowed his ideas
about retailing from others, including the great American retailers
John Wanamaker and Rowland
Macy, but his willingness to innovate did set him apart from the
crowd. At death in 1907 he left two
stores, the flagship giant on Yonge
Street in Toronto (which opened in
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
1883) and another in Winnipeg
(begun in 1905), and more than
8000 employees, approximately half
in sales and half in manufacturing.
The Toronto store covered 22 acres
of downtown land and boasted more
than 100 specialized departments
ranging from notions and drapery to
drugs, wallpaper, saddlery, sporting goods, tea, and dress patterns.
For Canadians from coast-to-coast,
however, the name Eaton meant
catalogue, of which more than 1.3
million were mailed in 1904.
Santink succeeds best in documenting the rise of Timothy Eaton's
department store and the evolution
in retail marketing that it
represented. When Eaton arrived in
Canada in the 1850s shops were
small and usually specialized in a
limited range of products. Credit
made the commercial system work,
linking large merchant with small
and retailer with customer in a way
that placed a premium on familiarity and trust. Shopping was viewed
as "an occasion of some dignity" (p.
49), and it was assumed that no
one would enter a store except to
buy something: shopping had not
yet become a form of recreation!
Brand names and other types of advertising lay in the future. Timothy
Eaton saw this future and adapted
his retailing methods to meet it.
Once in Toronto he moved quickly to
replace credit with cash sales and
fixed prices. With prices set, clerks
no longer had to be well trained,
and young women who worked for
relatively low wages and for short
periods of time replaced men for
whom retailing was a career. Profit
now came from volume sales, and
Eaton worked aggressively to market his products. His promotional
innovations ranged from expensive
window displays, "Friday Bargain
Days", and Santa Claus parades to
a variety of in-store customer services. The old custom that goods were
to be replaced when outworn was
giving way to the ethic that they be
replaced when outdated, and Eaton
exploited this increasing awareness
of fashion to the limit. In particular,
the variety of goods offered by a
merchant was becoming an important source of attraction to customers, and Eaton's store ballooned in
size to meet the demand. Reorganization into an increasing number of
specialized departments resulted.
Above all, says Santink, Timothy
Eaton recognized that industrialization was creating more disposable
income for working people, and he
assured his success in the retail
field by reaching out to this growing
strata of consumers ignored by more
traditional businessmen.
Timothy Eaton and the Rise of His
Department Store is more a history
of the store than of Eaton. To
assess the significance of Timothy
Eaton's career and to place the rise
of Eaton's in comparative context,
the author effectively uses recent
literature on retailing in nineteenth-
century Britain and the United
States. By doing so she successfully
challenges family-created myths
about Eaton, including the idea that
he was the first to introduce cash
sales and fixed prices. He was not.
Limitations of evidence leave incomplete her explanation of why Eaton
was so much more innovative than
other merchants, though her argument that as a newcomer to Toronto
in 1869 he was not constrained by a
network of credit obligations, and
thus was able to break with tradition more readily than established
merchants, is convincing. Her argument that working women were
only too happy to accept low-paying
jobs at Eaton's (p. 190) and that,
protected by provincial legislation,
working conditions at Eaton's factories "were uniformly good" (p. 202)
is less compelling, in part because
she tells us little about how Eaton's
workers actually viewed their employment. The book also leaves
essentially unexamined the company's management structure.
While it does not break new
ground in the field of late-Victorian
business history, Timothy Eaton
does present a well-researched case
study that is analytical, informative, and very readable, a business Book Shell cont'd
history for both academic and non-
specialist audiences. The book also
reminds us of how little we know
about the retail trade in British
Columbia: similar scholarly studies
of the west coast department stores
founded by David Spencer and
Charles Woodward are long
Robert A J. McDonald
Department of History
University of British Columbia
AssuofCapeMudge: Recollections
of a Coastal Indian Chief
Harry Assu with Joy Inglis; Vancouver,
UBC Press, 1989. 184 p., illus.
$29.95 (cloth), $19.95 (paper)
Assu of Cape Mudge is the personal memoir of Harry Assu, a Chief of
the Kwakwala speaking Lekwiltok
and an important Native leader of
British Columbia. It is an account
not only of the life of one man and
his family, but also of the origins,
development, hardships, adaptability, and accomplishments of a people
and of one community in particular.
Drawing from the oral traditions of
his people and from the teachings of
his father and maternal grandfather, Harry Assu begins with the
story of the Flood, the point of origin
of the Lekwiltok. From here, he
details the various migrations and
settlements of the Lekwiltok and of
his own band, the We-Wai-Kai, from
Topaz Harbour Village (Tekya) on
the mainland to its present location
at Cape Mudge Village (Yaculta) on
Quadra Island, where he was born
in 1905.
Following further information on
the history, geography, demography, and social organization of the
We-Wai-Kai, Chief Assu introduces
the reader to the memories of his
childhood and youth. He recalls his
early life on the water of Discovery
Passage and Johnstone Strait, his
first fishing experiences, and the
essential relationship between his
people and the sea. He recalls
encounters with supernatural beings
which inhabited the world of his
ancestors and of his boyhood, and
with birds and whales which were of
special significance to him and his
family. He recalls the important
place that the ritual and ceremony
of the potlatch have had in the social, economic and political way of
life of his people, for it is through
the potlatch that wealth, status and
privilege are acquired, displayed,
transferred and validated.
Harry Assu interweaves his early
remembrances with the maritime
way of life of his people and reminisces about his sixty year involvement with the commercial fishery.
(In fact, the seiner pictured on the
old five dollar bill belonged to him at
the time the photography for the
engraving was taken.) He recollects
the old cannery days on the coast,
the information of the Pacific Coast
Native Fishermen's Association and
the Native Brotherhood, and the
achievements of his people in merging a traditional culture with the
modern fishing industry.
Life in Cape Mudge is described
and attention is paid to the community's missionary experience, the
history of the Methodist Mission
and United Church, and to the relations between the community and
education and the Christian church.
The biography concludes with the
renewal of the potlatch at Cape
Mudge and with a detailed account
of Chief Assu's own 1984 potlatch.
Included here is his description of
the events surrounding the seizure
of potlatch regalia in 1922, the
jailing of the leaders, the subsequent restoration of the confiscated
treasures, and the opening, in 1979
at Cape Mudge, of the Kwagiulth
Museum built especially to house
this material.
AssuofCapeMudge is an important publication, particularly as it
provides a rare insight into Native
life from a Native point of view. Its
diachronistic format chronicles the
story of a people, a community, and
a prominent leader from legendary
to present times. It gives detailed
information on a wide range of
subjects from the construction, in
earlier times, of family houses, to
the Native fishery, to the intricate
workings of the modern potlatch.
This is not a book by an anthropologist, using Native respondents
from whom valued knowledge is
gleaned, and then re-contextualized
and re-formatted into anthropological language for either the profession or a selected target group.
Rather, it is a highly personalized
account, an autobiography by Harry
Assu in collaboration with the
anthropologist, Joy Inglis. Written
in a conversational style, it allows
Chief Assu to tell his own story, and
the recollections are as he presents
them. It is well illustrated with
numerous photographs, drawings
by Hilary Stewart, and maps which
greatly assist the reader in following the migration and settlement
patterns of the Lekwiltok and of the
We-Wai-Kai band. In addition,
there are two genealogical charts of
the Assu family, detailed chapter
notes giving much valued annotation by way of further information
and explanation, and a number of
appendices which include: a linguistic key to the orthography, and an
alphabetized, dictionary-formatted
listing of the Kwakwala words used
in the book, both prepared by
linguist Peter Wilson; and several
tales handed down through the oral
tradition and told by the Lekwiltok.
The book ends with a list of sources
referenced throughout the text and
an index. All of these additions do
credit to the publication and give a
valuable dimension to Harry Assu's
own story. The overall result
attests to a close, compatible collaboration between the authors.
While this undertaking has been
well thought out and is full of detail,
and while the authors have gone to
considerable lengths to make it as
comprehensive as possible, this
reviewer has some concerns from the
perspective of both the researcher
and the general readership. The
orthographic and anglicized
transcriptions of words in the Kwak-
wala language are used interchangeably throughout the text,
thus causing a confusion. Had one
of the transcriptions (possibly the
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91 Book Shell' con I'd
anglicized for its readability and
ease of pronunciation) been chosen
for consistent, primary usage, then
the other (in this case, the orthographic) could immediately follow in
brackets. Both transcriptions would
therefore appear together but with a
consistency, elimination the need for
frequent cross-checking between text
and appendix. Similarly, orthographic transcriptions of Kwakwala
words occasionally are used without
anglicized equivalents so that reference needs to be made to both the
linguistic key and the alphabetized
list of works in the appendix. Another aid which would have assisted
in clarifying the organization of
peoples to which Harry Assu makes
reference, would have been the inclusion of a chart delineating the various tribes, bands, and communities
of the Kwagiulth Nation - a stratigraphy of terms often difficult to comprehend.
It is unfortunate that a full bibliography is not included. While many
of the sources referenced throughout
appear in full form in the appendix,
many are not, and thus a comprehensive bibliography is needed. The
inconsistencies, omissions, occasional ambiguity, and many small
errors (some possibly typographical)
mar an otherwise fine effort. The
narrative style of the text, as
spoken by Chief Assu, leads to some
awkward phraseology and
expression of thought; this, however,
does not detract from the overall
In spite of these drawbacks, the
publication remains full of valuable
primary source material and is a
welcome addition to the growing
body of literature about our First
Nations peoples. Both Harry Assu
and Joy Inglis are to be congratulated on their work and their unique
collaborative prowess. The book
could well serve as a model for
other, similar enterprises.
Lynn Maranda
Curator of Anthropology,
The Vancouver Museum
People of Harrison
Daphne Sleigh.
Deroche, B.C., D. Sleigh, 1990.
278 p., illus. (available from Box 29,
Deroche, B.C. VOM 1G0) $12.75
The watershed of the Harrison
Lake and River, only sixty miles
from Vancouver, is a vast but
sparsely populated area that has
been home to a variety of people.
The original people of the Harrison
were, of course, native Indians -
members of the Sto:lo communities
of Chehalis and Scowlitz near the
south end of Harrison Lake; and the
Lower Lillooet communities of
Quaatca and Lelachanat at the
north end. Scowlitz and Chehalis
were distinguished by their unique
rectangular pit dwellings; and their
powerful awareness of the spirit-
world. A pre-historic culture in the
area was notable for having built
large burial mounds; unfortunately,
little in the way of proper
archaeological research has been
undertaken there.
Port Douglas, a townsite at the
north end of the lake, was established as early as 1858 to service
the gold rush. The Harrison route
to the goldfields was replaced by the
Fraser Canyon route, and the port
quickly became the first of B.C.'s
many ghost towns. Still, a store
and boarding house continued to
thrive there until at least the
The settlement at the mouth of the
Harrison River - variously known as
Garnarvon, Harrison Forks, Scowal-
tiz, Harrisonmouth, Harrison River,
and Harrison Mills - was the next to
be established. Eventually it
thrived as a transfer point for Chilli-
wack-bound rail passengers; as a
farming community; and especially
as a centre of sawmiUing. Today,
Harrison Mills is best known for its
general store, now a museum, which
had been operated continuously by
the Kilby family from 1903 to 1972.
The healing waters of Harrison
Hot Springs guaranteed its importance as a resort. The St. Alice
Hotel, established in 1886, was the
dominant force in the community, as
is its successor, the Harrison, today
Several economic activities have
contributed to the economy of the
Harrison watershed at different
times - mining, transportation,
farming, tourism, and especially
logging. The area has always had
its ups and downs - as market
values fluctuated, as resources
became depleted, as transportation
patterns shifted. Yet the area has
always had more than its share of
fascinating characters - audacious
entrepreneurs, country gentlefolk,
eccentric hermits, brilliant novelists.
Sleigh is adept at bringing these
people to life, and demonstrating
how the history of the area was
shaped by the personalities that
had faith in it.
The last chapter of the book is
devoted to one of the really fascinating inhabitants of the area - if he or
she exists. The cryptozoologists
among us will be interested in
Sleigh's recap of reports of sightings
of the Sasquatch. Admirably, she
balances on the fence, showing no
bias to either the skeptics or the
believers. Her thorough research
does show that sightings were
almost never reported until certain
newspaper writers began
stimulating interest in them. This
in itself should throw some light
onto the debate.
Sleigh's book is well-written, but
there are times when one wishes
she would go a bit further and make
some analysis of the area's history.
For example, on page 103 she
reports on the surrender and sale of
part of the Scowlitz Indian Reserve
in 1920, yet she makes no evaluation of this event - were the Indians
ripped off, or did they benefit?
The book was researched
thoroughly, although many of the
bibliographic and archival citations
are too brief to allow future scholars
to locate some of the sources.
Still, The People of the Harrison is
most enjoyable reading, and good
documentation of a very interesting
part of our province.
Jim Bowman
Chilliwack Archives
B.C. Historical News - Spring 91
Honorary Patron:
Honorary President:
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Recording Secretary
Past President
His Honour, the Honourable David C. Lam, CM, LL.D., Lieutenant-Governor
of British Columbia
Mr8. Clare McAllister
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Road, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9        988-4565
Myrtle Haslam, P.O. Box 10, Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1 NO 748-8397
Alice Glanville, P.O. Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. VOH 1H 442-3865
T. Don Sale, 262 Juniper Street, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 1X
Shirley Cuthbertson, 306 - 225 Belleville Street,
Victoria, B.C. V8V 4T9 387-2486 (business), 382-0288 (residence)
Francis Sleigh, Box 29, Deroche, B.C. VOM 1G
Mary Rawson, 1406 Woodland Drive, Vancouver, B.C. V5L 3S
Daphne Paterson, 2650 Randle Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 3X
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K
Committee Officers
B.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
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Historic Trails & Markers
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Writing Competition
(Lieutenant - Governor's
Margaret Stoneberg, P.O. Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
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Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue,
Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
228-4879 (business) 733-6484 (residence)
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Helen Akrigg, 8-2575 Tolmie Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4M1        228-8606 or 955-2963
Contact Helen Akrigg for advice and details to apply for a loan
toward the cost of publishing.
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Pamela Mar, P.O. Box 933, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
758-2828 The British Columbia Historical News
RO. Box 35326 Stn. E.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6M 4G5
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Registration No. 4447
British Columbia Historical Federation
The B.C. Historical Federation invites submissions of books or articles for the ninth annual
Competition for Writers of British Columbia History.
Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1991, is eligible. This may be a
community history, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections
giving a glimpse of the past. Names, dates and places with relevant maps or pictures turn a story
into "history."
The judges are looking for fresh presentations of historical information, (especially if prepared by
amateur historians) with appropriate illustrations, careful proof reading, an adequate index, table of
contents, and bibliography.
Winners will be chosen in the following categories:
1) Best History Book by an individual Writer (Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Historical
2) Best Anthology (i.e. Best History prepared by a group.)
3) Best History for Junior Readers.
Awards are given where entries warrant, (i.e. a lone entry in group 2 or 3 will not automatically be
given a prize.)
Submissions are requested as soon as possible after publication. Please state name, address
and telephone of sender, the selling price of the book, and an address from which the book may be
purchased if the reader has to shop by mail. Send to:
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All entries receive considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary
award, and an invitation to the B.C. Historical Federation's Annual Conference in Burnaby in May
******* ********
The Best Article award is given annually to the writer of an article published in the B.C.
Historical News magazine with the aim of encouraging amateur historians and/or students.
Articles should be no more than 2,500 words, typed double spaced, accompanied by photographs
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