British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1996

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Volume 30, No. 1
Winter 1996-97
ISSN 1195-8294
r «
" llN'^Ibi,.*^ ■«"■«- -JHL^I
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Winter Trip on the C.P.R. 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 31 should include telephone numbers for contact.
MEMBERS' DUES for the current year were paid by the following Societies:
Alberni District Historical Society
Arrow Lakes Historical Society
Atlin Historical Society
Burnaby Historical Society
Chemainus Valley Historical Society
Cowichan Historical Society
District 69 Historical Society
East Kootenay Historical Association
Gavel Historical Society
Gulf Islands Branch, BCHF
Hedley Heritage Society
Koksilah School Historical Society
Kootenay Museum & Historical Society
Lantzville Historical Society
Nanaimo Historical Society
North Shore Historical Association
North Shuswap Historical Society
Princeton & District Museum & Archives
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society
Salt Spring Island Historical Society
Sidney & North Saanich Historical Society
Silvery Slocan Historical Society
Surrey Historical Society
Trail Historical Society
Vancouver Historical Society
Victoria Historical Society
Boundary Historical Society
Bowen Island Historians
Fort St. James Historical Society
Fort Steele Heritage Town
Kamloops Museum Association
Kootenay Lake Historical Society
Lasqueti Island Historical Society
Nanaimo District Museum Society
Okanagan Historical Society
Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Box 584, Nakusp, B.C. VOB 1 RO
Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5G 3T6
Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C.V9L3Y2
Box 1452, Parksville, B.C.V9P2H4
P.O. Box 74, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 4H6
3-1384 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 1J6
c/o A. Loveridge, S.22, C.11, RR#1, Galiano. VON 1 PO
Box 218, Hedley, B.C. VOX 1 KO
5213 Trans Canada Highway, Koksilah, B.C. VOR 2C0
402 Anderson Street, Nelson, B.C. V1L 3Y3
c/o Box 274, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
P.O. Box 933, Station A, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
1541 Merlynn Crescent, North Vancouver, B.C.V7J 2X9
Box 22, Celista, B.C. VOE 1 LO
Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
587 Beach Road, Qualicum Beach, B.C. V9K 1K7
129 McPhillips Avenue, Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2T6
P.O. Box 2404, Sidney, B.C. V8L 3Y3
Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG 1S0
8811 - 152nd Street, Surrey, B.C. V3R 4E5
P.O. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
P.O. Box 43035, Victoria North, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3G2
Box 580, Grand Forks, B.C.V0H 1H0
Box 97, Bowen Island, B.C. VON 1G0
Box 1421, Kwah Road, Fort St. James, B.C. V0J 1P0
Fort Steele, B.C. VOB 1 NO
207 Seymour Street, Kamloops, B.C. V2C 2E7
Box 537, Kaslo, B.C. VOG 1M0
Lasqueti Island, B.C. VOR 2J0
100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2X1
Box 313, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6M3
Published winter, spring, summer and fall by British Columbia Historical Federation
P.O. Box 5254, Station B
Victoria, B.C. V8R6N4
A Charitable Society recognized under the Income Tax Act.
Institutional subscriptions $16 per year
Individual (non-members) $12 per year
Members of Member Societies $10 per year
For addresses outside Canada, add    $5 per year
Back issues of the British Columbia Historical News are available in microform from Micromedia Limited, 20 Victoria
Street, Toronto, Ontario M5C 2N8, phone (416) 362-5211, fax (416) 362-6161, toll free 1-800-387-2689.
This publication is indexed in the Canadian Index published by Micromedia.
Indexed in the Canadian Periodical Index.
Publications Mail Registration Number 4447. <^JtrMa^
Financially assisted by   ^-f\J/^ Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Volume 30, No. 1 Winter 1996-97
From Nelson to Atlin, Victoria to the Peace
River district, come stories of early settlers and some of community involvement
up to recent times. We introduce four new
writers, three of whom submitted an essay as part of their application for the
BCHF Scholarship.
We thank Anne Yandle for introducing the
requirement that an essay be submitted
as part of the application for the B.C. Historical Federation Scholarship. Anne distributed guidelines to every post
secondary institution in the province.
Submissions were received from twelve
students, seven of whom attend the University of Victoria, one from UBC, and one
each from Malaspina University College,
University College of the Cariboo, University College of the Fraser Valley, and
Simon Fraser University.
There has been enthusiastic appreciation
from students who have had their writing
published. We are glad to offer encouragement, and delight in following the careers of earlier scholarship winners. We
appreciate receiving essays or articles
from young and old alike as this ensures
that we can compile a mixture of topics
and writing styles in future issues of the
B.C. Historical News.
No one should dare to complain about
recent travel problems after reading
Michael Phillipps report on his Winter Trip
on the C.P.R.
Best wishes to all for 1997.
Naomi Miller
This 1885 engraving (artist unknown) is titled "Weary Passengers Settling for the
Night." The original is part of the collection
in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. This
was one of the illustrations used when the
"Winter Trip on the C.P.R." appeared in the
Alberta Historical Review 18:2 Spring
1970. We thank Dr. Hugh Dempsey, editor
of Alberta Historical Review (now called
Alberta History), for repatriaing this report
written by a B.C. pioneer, and for lending
us his copy of this delightful picture.
Nelson Christmas Past    2
by Ron Welwood
Askew of Chemainus    6
by Martin J. Ainsley
Winter Trip on the C.P.R.	
by Michael Phillipps
Mary Henry: Pioneer Botanist ofthe Northern Rockies 16
by V.C. Brink andRS. Silver
Hunting in a Once Distant Land 20
by Leo Rutledge
The Meistersingers: Men's Choirs Have Distant Roots 24
by Thelma Reid Lower
The Mayors of Prince Rupert 27
by Phylis Bowman
Swedish Immigrant Women: "Never, Never Sorry - Always Glad."   	
by Eva St. Jean
Empire Over Nation: Victoria Newspapers and the Boer War    34
by John Threlfall
Another Atlin Adventure
by Hon. James Harvey, Q.C.
NEWS and NOTES   41
Making Vancouver     42
Review by Carlos Schwartes
Interwoven Lives of George Vancouver    42
Review by J.R Roberts
Pay Dirt & Tides of Change     43
Reviews by PatAjello
John Tod     43
Review by Robert W.Allen
Pilgrims in Lotus Land      43
Review by Phyllis Reeve
Women ofthe Klondike     44
Review by Lewis Green
Manuscripts and correspondence to the editor are to be sent to P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0.
Correspondence regarding subscriptions is to be directed to the Subscription Secretary (see inside back cover).
Printed in Canada by Kootenay Kwik Print Ltd Nelson Christmas Past
by Ron Welwood
Christmas, commemorating the birth
of Jesus Christ, is an important religious
event for Christians; but in many countries Christmas has been replaced by a
nonsectarian winter holiday. Simple traditions of the past are now supplanted
by a blitz of mass media commercials
beginning in early November. Greeting
cards1 begin to arrive, Christmas specials
are shown on television, glossy advertisements are received in the mail, displays
appear in every store window, gifts are
purchased and gaily wrapped, coloured
lights appear, trees are decorated, school
Christmas concerts are produced, carols
are sung and food preparations are made.
Despite all its commercialism, Christmas
is a time for family and friends. It is the
festive season that often evokes fond
memories of, what would appear to be,
less hectic Christmases past.
In the early setdement years when isolation and cabin fever seemed more acute
during this festive season, the Christmas
spirit was rekindled by getting together
with colleagues and friends. By 1888
Stanley, the former name and future
townsite of Nelson, was in its earliest
stages of clearing and land development.
In that year the first recorded Christmas
dinner was served in Mrs. Mary Jane
Hanna's log cabin when "She rounded up
a dozen lonely bachelors and fed them a
hearty dinner of roast wild duck and all
the trimmings she could manage." (Turnbu11'
50; Collins, 9)
One week later, Bob Yuill's loneliness
at Ainsworth Camp on Kootenay Lake
spurred him into action. Unaware ofthe
first Christmas gathering in Stanley, he
decided to leave for that townsite very
early on New Year's morning, 1889. He
rowed a heavy freightboat, capable of
carrying a load of one ton, southward
along the western shoreline of Kootenay
Lake and then westward down the lake's
west arm (Kootenay River), a total dis
tance of approximately 48 kilometres (30
miles). Bob was no stranger to hard labour and, difficult as it might be for us
to imagine, he arrived at Stanley shortly
after noon on New Year's Day! After
prowling around the almost deserted
townsite he came across the newly constructed Hume & Lemon store occupied
by fourteen men2 who had just finished
their New Year's dinner, courtesy of Jane
Bob recognized the majority of faces
in the building and after being introduced to some of the men he did not
know, he was invited to the Hanna's cabin
to have a late dinner consisting of leftover wild duck. When he finished this
well-deserved meal, Yuill returned to the
store to purchase some provisions and to
join in an all-male drinking party which,
needless to say, became somewhat boisterous as the day advanced. (Norris His,oric
Nelson, 174-193)
Christmas was a bad time to be alone.
People travelled for days to be with others. If this was not possible, the link to
the "outside" was by mail and in the winter this could be tenuous. But often, the
postal service and the Eaton's catalogue
were the only means available to Christmas shop.
Clare McAllister, daughter of M.R.
McQuarrie a former mayor of Nelson,
had a very clear recollection of her childhood Christmases. ".. . all the trees were
fresh cut so that when the tree came into
the house out of the frosty, snowy winter
air, into a warm house, it 'smelled' of
Christmas. . . the Christmas tree was not
put up weeks before, it was erected magically on Christmas Eve by Santa Claus...
On Christmas night, of course, the candles
would be lit, and there is nothing more
magical than a living room fireplace blazing and the candles in a dim room on a
lighted tree; it's a very magical thing. . . .
People perish at the thought of candles on a
Christmas tree, but I never heard of any
Christmas tree going on fire like I have
heard with electric lights. People took great
care to put the candles nice and steady in
their little nippers that clutched the branches
and they didn't 'put them immediately
under another branch. "<Mole-4') On Christmas morning there was always a piece of
coal and a Japanese orange in the toe of
the stocking that was hung either on the
bedpost or by the fireplace.
The Christmas tree was often the focus of activities and the Nelson Dairy
Miner described an assembly of school
children of the Presbyterian Church
where ".. . the centre of attraction was, of
course, a gigantic Christmas tree which
stood near the lecture room door, all blazing with candles, and burdened down with
the presents. . . . All the school children
present were given presents, but the measles
epidemic kept a good many children away
thus there were a large number of presents
undistributed There are about 80 children
in all on the rolls. "(31 Dc"mb" 1898> In addition to church functions, the schools held
Christmas concerts and each class would
compete to put on the best play.
Social entertainment frequently included music and recitations. In 1892,
the Methodist Church sponsored such an
event which, according to rhe Miner, was
deemed "A Grand Success". On this occasion a Mr. Bowes "... entirely caught
the feeling ofthe meeting. He reminded the
tndvJaualsengagedin ihepursuitofmoney,
butmembersqfasociety, andsaidthatone
advantage ofthewinter'sseclusion inNel-
tomakethemrealizeihat, independentqf
race, creedanddenominationtheirinter-
estswereone, andthatitwastheirdutyto
the country." ®1DKXmbaim)
John Norris, Nelson raconteur and historian, vividly described Wo Lee's Christmas Gifts. "Those three special treasures
that Wo Ijee brought each year were
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 as much as anything else a part of
our Christmas. Through them Wo Lee
was in our thoughts continually
throughout the Christmas season."
These special gifts were: tins of dried lichee nuts, vases of ginger and Chinese
lily bulbs. "We knew that the blossoms
could not come in time for Christmas, but
it was our wish to have them before New
Year's Day, although an exact duplicate of
the one we had sat down to at Christmas
was different in one respect the smell of
turkey now mingled with that of Chinese
lilies " (NorrisWoLee'48-5())
Another tale which has a humorous,
nativity connection was related by Dr.
Lorris E. Borden, a pioneer in Kootenay
medical care and a notable Nelson community figure between 1908 - 1955. At
the time, Dr. Borden was living in the
Strathcona Hotel run by "Old Pop" Phair
"who had a sharp tongue that at times lost
him customers." One night when a member of a group of evangelists required accommodation, he was given a tiny room
with a comfortable but small bed on the
third floor. In the morning the customer
came to the office full of complaints. Pop
Phair looked at him momentarily and
quiedy replied: "I believe the man you are
supposed to work for was born in a manger. "Apparendy the man left without any
further word. (Bordcn-44)
Newspapers and their editorials often
reflected the thoughts ofthe community;
and around the turn-of-the-century Nelson's diverse population had access to a
variety of opinions through its three
newspapers: Nelson Miner, 1890-1902
(later, Nelson DaUy New.). Tribune, 1892-1905;
Nelson Economist, 1897-1903.
On 26 December 1891, the Nelson
Miner noted that "All the time-honored
mas-eueandOyristmasaay.... Thegrown
peoplewithhomes, ayntentinknowingthat
they were residents of a promised land,
practiced Christian hospitality by inviting
their friends without homes to epicurean
dinners. The guests at aU the hotels were
treated to surprises in the way of eatables
and drinkables; the dinner at the Nelson
House, especially, beingsumptuous."
The next year on
24 December, the
Nelson Miner editor
remarked: "It is customary at this season
ofthe year to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy
New Year. . . . A
Merry Christmas is a
matter easy enough of
attainment, but a
Happy New Year depends so much on
individual characteristics and the eccentricities of fate, that it
is extremely doubtful
whether any amount
of wishing wiU affect
the outcome of the
matter at all The best
that one can do is to
endeavour to discount
evil chances by foresight and hard work; to
buck against hard luck for all one is worth;
and to do to others as one would be done
by. This is what every man practically undertakes to do when he passes the compliments ofthe season. If every one were to
live up to this agreement, we should all of
us stand a much better chance of having a
good time during the coming year than is
at present the case."
In those days, newspapers were published every day but Sunday. So on Saturday, 25 December 1897, the Miner
editorial stated; "Today we celebrate, with
the rest ofthe Christian world, except
Scotchmen, the greatest of holidays.... But
we can be joyful and festive to our hearts
content, and most of us have the wherewithal to meet the necessary outlay. It is a
common saying, perhaps too true, that
Christmas is not what it was, but there are
many amongst us to whom Christmas is still
a holiday, studded with presents and garnished with too much candy."
John "Truth" Houston, Nelson's first
mayor and founder ofthe city's first two
newspapers, was considered the best
known Canadian newspaperman on the
Pacific coast at the time. Although Houston thundered against the establishment
Gloria in Excelsis Deo" Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, Nelson, B.Cc 1920
Courtesy Diocese of Nelson Archives
and, particularly, the Canadian Pacific
Railway which he considered "thegreediest railway company on earth", there was
no limit to those causes and concerns that
he supported. On one occasion he took
up a collection to make certain that "Irish
Nell" a laundress for many ofthe town's
bachelors, did not go without Christmas
dinner. «12,13)
However, despite his generosity and
spontaneous works of charity, Houston
was not an enthusiastic supporter of organized religion. His newspapers' paucity of Christmas editorials reflected this.
The first Tribune editorial appeared, appropriately enough, on Christmas day,
1900: "The Tribune wishes its five thousand and odd readers a merry Christmas,
and hopes that they will live long and enjoy continuous prosperity — There was not
that prodigality in the giving of Christmas
presents this year as has been the custom in
former years. Is this because our people are
less generous or less neighbourly, or because
they are more wise?"
Although in the previous year on 25
December, the Tribune did wish its readers the compliments of the season, the
editorial thrust on that Christmas day
was to take a characteristic snipe at its
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 rival, the Miner. "Christmas comes but
once a year, and so does a municipal election. The one is supposed to be an occasion
when animosity is buried and good feeling
and goodwill reign supreme; the other is
made an excuse for indulging in all sorts of
mud slinging and personal abuse. It seems
a pity the two occasions happen so close in
point of time to one another. Peace and
goodwill suffuse themselves over the earth
at Christmas time. . . All enjoy the soothing effects ofthe Christmas season except
the two candidates for the office of mayor.
They find themselves held up to the open
scorn, ridicule and abuse of their journalistic enemies. . . .Of course there is a certain amount ofsatisfaction to all concerned
in the fact that virulent abuse and mud
slinging are merely the way the game is
played by a certain kind of smaller intelligence, that even while penning articles of
concentrated virulence it knows they are not
true, that the object of these attacks knows
also that they are not true, and that the
smaller intelligence aforesaid knows that
everybody knows they are not true... THE
TRIBUNE. . . readers. . . will not accuse
it of insincerity in wishing not only its
friends and readers, but all the citizens of
Nelson, not even excepting the genius who
managestheMiner'smud batteries, aMerry
Christmas, to be followed by a right prosperous New Year."
Since we will shortly embark on a new
millennium, the editorial ofthe 31 December 1900 Nelson Miner is worth
noting: "A dyingyearis depressing enough
to those who think it worth while to mark
the passing of time; a dying century is much
more so. We may profess to rejoice at the
birth of a new one; but what has the new
one done for us, that our smiles should dry
up all the tears in our eyes, as we bid an
eternal farewell to the old one that nursed
us and made us what we are?"
Contrary to popular belief, the commercial side of Christmas is not a particularly new phenomenon. A lengthy
front page article, "Christmas At Nelson", in the Miner <28 Decembcr 1895> enumerated the biggest displays by those
establishments catering to the Christmas
trade. "If any body comes to Nelson under
the impression that the sole articles of merchandise dealt in are pick handles,
mackinaw coats, canned salmon and other
usual contents of a frontier store, an inspection ofthe various shops this week would
at once dispel the illusion. . . The climate
and the occupation ofthe inhabitants necessitate everything in the range from snow-
shoes to the latest pin toed tan boots that
grace the feet ofthe dandies of New York or
London. . . . At Christmas it is a time
honored custom for butchers and grocers
and purveyors of all the good things that go
to make up a seasonable dinner to dress their
shops and display their wares in lavish style
. . . In groceries also the Hudson Bay Co.
steadily pursues its old policy of keeping the
best ofeverythingfrom rice to champagne,
and from its teeming store sundry cases and
bottles and jars continuously issue forth that
later on make glad the heart of man.. . It
will thus be seen that Nelson is by no means
behind her sister towns of British Columbia in providing its inhabitants with all
the comforts and luxuries of civilization."
However, the spirit of Christmas was not
forgotten. In 1899, it was reported that an
active committee sought out homes that
were... not full and plenty, with the object
of making them happy. . . . P. Burns &
Co., only want to know who cannot afford
a good Christmas dinner, and they will supply the main ingredients; and scores of other
good people are at work to add Christmas
cheer to their less fortunate neighbours."
Even at the Provincial gaol Christmas was
celebrated by extra radons and a supply
of plum duff that was more than gready
appreciated by the inmates. In fact, there
was even a cessation of all work and the
prisoners were "allowed to holiday."
Mr. Horace Hume annually invited "all
the newsboys and messenger lads" to dine
at the Hotel Hume on Christmas evening
"Thecloth willbespreadforasmanyof
civilization as are available, andthecui-
sinewillbein keepingwtih the high reputation ofthe house." (Nebon °&r Mioa-u
December 1899)
A sumptuous Christmas meal, as today, seemed to be the highlight of this
festive season. "Outsiders can form a fair
opinion as to what our people had for dinner on Christmas day when it is stated that
the aggregate sales of turkeys at Nelson,
Kaslo, Three Forks, and New Denver
amounted to 4315 pounds, or about a
poundof turkeyfor every man, woman, and
child in southern Kootenay." (m>mt-30 De"
cember 1893)
"Thegood cheer which has been the characteristic feature of Christmas day for centuries will be very much in evidence in
Nelson today. For the past week local dealers in poultry have been hard put to supply
the demand plump turkeys, indubitably
connected with visions of Christmas dinners, being specially in demand . . . The
city hotels will celebrate the day with special dinners. Skilled chefi have been racking their brains to devise inviting menus
and delight those who partake of their
Christmas dinners." frribaM-25-Decembcr 1899>
It is obvious that people were not too
concerned about their caloric intake in
those days. Most led very active lives
through hard, physical labour and plenty
of walking. In an era before electric refrigeration and rapid transportation it is
amazing to look back at the variety of
Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!
To insure a good Xmas Dinner buy your Poultry and Meats at
—.- .-^p. Burns & Co.-"■-""■■■"-"--
We hare juat received 20 Tons of Ontario Poultry
Which will be distributer) to our markets lit Knxsland, Trail, Ntlsnii. Kaslo. Sainton.
Three Forks and New Denver, ready for the Xmas trade. This Poultry has Ikcii bought
Tor Cash and will be sold at Rock Bottom Prices.
Wc always have Prime lleef and Mutton from the AHnirta Ranges and Pork from
Manitoba, us well as Cured Meats from the l«.st Packing Monies in the country.
Meat Orders to Any of Our Markets WUl Receive Prompt Attention-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 food items available and the diversity of
preparations offered on rhe hotel Christmas menus. The Hotel Hume fare exemplifies a typical Christmas feast in
Raw Oysters ~ Russian Caviar
Veal a la Creme ~ Consumme Royale
Boiled Salmon, Cream Egg Sauce
Potatoes Parisienne
Leg of Mutton, Caper Sauce
Sugarcured Ham, Champagne Sauce
Salmi of Duck with Olives
Kidney Saute with Mushrooms
Compote of Oranges a la Port
Haunch of Venison, Red Currant Jelly
Prime Ribs of Beef
Baked Turkey, Cranberry Sauce
Stuffed Goose, Apple Sauce
Crosse & Blackwell Pickles
Mixed Chow Chow
White Onions ~ Olives ~ Celery
Lea & Perrins Sauce
Chicken and Lobster ~ Mayonnaise
Steamed and Mashed Potatoes
French Peas ~ Sugar Corn
Sweet Potatoes
Green Apple Pie ~ Mince Pie
Strawberry Tarts ~ Lemon Pie Meringue
English Plum Pudding, Brandy Sauce
Strawberry Wine Jelly ~ Lemon Jelly
Vanilla Ice Cream
Nuts ~ Raisins ~ Oranges ~ Apples
Bananas ~ Grapes
Assorted Cakes & Xmas Cake
Tea ~ Chocolate ~ Coffee
These are but a few reminiscences of
past Christmas activities in Nelson; and
although unique to this region of the
province, they were not much different
than those celebrations enjoyed throughout British Columbia or, for that matter,
the country. This festive season is enjoyed
by both young and old alike. It has no
age barriers and, although it has been
commercialized and secularized to a great
extent, the true spirit of Christmas still
prevails - fellowship, sharing and good
will towards men.
As the 22 December 1894 edition of
the Miner stated "PEACE ON EARTH.
So sang the Angels nearly nineteen hundred
years ago and the Divine blessing has given
its character to every Christmas that has
come with the proverbial punctuality ever
since. . . . We most cordially wish that the
Festive Season may come to all our readers
with unclouded happiness and that in the
wilds of Selkirk's rugged ranges they may
find the means, without forgetting those far
off homes, to make themselves a Merry
Christmas and a Happy New Year."
£   &   $  $   $
Ron Welwood has been collecting, and sharing,
Kootenay history since he arrived in Nelson in
The first Christmas card was created in 1843 for Sir Henry
Cole by John Calcott Horsley, an English illustrator.
Twelve men were present at M.J. Hanna's Christmas
dinner in 1888. Of these, eight men were also present at
che New Year's Day, 1889, gathering (Collins, 9; Norris
Historic Nelson, 182-83)
Borden, Dr. L.E. "Pioneer Days in Nelson." B.C Outdoors.
29.6 (Nov. - Dec. 1973): 16-23.
Collins, Thomas C. "History, What is History." in Charles St.
Barbe. Fust History of Nelson, B.C.: with sketches of
some of its prominent citizens, firms and
corporations. Nelson, B.C.: CA. Rohrabacher & Son,
Mole, Rich. Season's Greetings from British Columbia's
Past: Christmas as celebrated in British Columbia
from the 1880s to the 1930s. Victoria, B.C.: Provincial
Archives of British Columbia, 1980. (Sound Heritage
Series,    No. 29)
Norris, John. Historic Nelson: the earh/ years. Lantzville,
B.C.: Oolichan Books, 1995.
Norris, John. Wo Lee Stories: memories of a childhood in
Nelson, B.C. New Denver, B.C., John Norris, 1986.
Turnbull, Elsie G. "Pioneer Christmas in the Kootenays."
B.C Outdoors 33.6 (Nov. - Dec. 1977): 48-53.
Wolfe, Patrick. "Tramp Printer Extraordinary: British
Columbia's John 'Truth' Houston." B.C Studies 40
(Winter 1978-79): 5-31.
Come Celebrate Nelsons
Nelson, B.C. May 1-4,1997
Thursday, May 1
1. Workshops
2. BCHF CouncU Meeting
3. Reception
Conference Day 1
Friday, May 2
Silver Slocan Bus Tour
• Nikkei Internment Memorial
Centre, New Denver
• Historic Sandon
• Moyie, National Historic
Site, Kaslo
Conference Day 2
Saturday, May 3
1. Annual General Meeting
2. Luncheon
3. Heritage Tours
1. Walking Tour of Nelson's heritage
2. Nelson Cemetery Tour
4. Awards Banquet (Bring your costume)
Post Conference
Sunday, May 4
1. BCHF CouncU Meeting
2. Heritage Homes Tour and Tea
(personal transportation required)
Cconference Contacts: • Shawn Lamb,
Nelson Museum, 402 Anderson St. Nelson,
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B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Askew of Chemainus
by Martin James Ainsley
A really noble future is open to you, and I hope with Governor Douglas you will adopt B. Columbia as your home, and settle
there, for the good ofthe colony, the greatness of England and your own advantage.
-Rev. Charles Edward Searle to Thomas George Askew, June 9, 1863. '
The late nineteenth century was
a period of rapid change in the Western
world. Europe, the United States, and
many of the colonial holdings of
European nations were caught up in the
maelstrom ofthe new industrial-capitalist
economy. Among the many changes
brought about by industrialization was a
new sense of social mobility that was
fracturing the traditional class-based
hierarchy by allowing people the
opportunity, in theory if not always in
fact, to better their station in life through
enterprise and hard work. Hand-in-hand
with this entrepreneurial spirit was a
moral imperative-an extension and
elaboration ofthe Protestant (Calvinist)
work ethic. Christian religion and
morality were still important, but the
new ethic of "self-help" subsumed the
spiritual benefits of hard work within a
code that was increasingly materialistic.
In England, the works of Samuel Smiles
popularized this ethic:
Hard work, respectability to be sure,
but crowned by steady advance up
the social ladder. This was a classic
self-help approach produced in every
industrializing country. Workers who
saved their money and restrained
their animal appetites could go from
rags to riches. 2
In the United States, this theme, in a
slightly more acquisitive form, found
popular play in the rags-to-riches novels
of Horatio Alger and the works of
successful industrialists themselves, such
as steel magnate Andrew Carnegie's
suggestively tided The Gospel of Wealth
(1900); the selfmade man was the new
hero ofthe late Victorian age. Anybody
(any male, at least) could, through hard
work and diligence, and a keen eye for
opportunity, become wealthy in this
laissez-faire economy; those who
remained in poverty had no one to blame
but themselves. Of the many who
imbibed this myth and believed in it was
one English settler who came to British
Columbia in 1858 to make his fortune
- Thomas George Askew.
Askew was born in 1839 to a tenant
farmer in Odell in the English county of
Bedford. W.H. Olsen, an historian of
Chemainus, British Columbia, the
community on the east coast of
Vancouver Island where Askew
eventually settled, has noted that" [e]arly
in life it was obvious., .that T.G. Askew
was fired by an urge to better himself."3
While it cannot be determined whether
young Askew was familiar with the
specific writings of Smiles or Alger, it is
clear from the letters sent and received
by him, especially those written by his
friend and mentor in England, Charles
Edward Searle, and by his own actions
that the way he saw himself, and was
perceived by others, was within the
bounds ofthe self-made man ideal. His
case is interesting for the light it sheds
on the tension between the ideal and the
reality ofthe new industrial economy on
the North American frontier. This essay
does not mean to claim that Askew was
typical of settlers in British Columbia or
that he represents rhe "spirit ofthe age"
in his entrepreneurial endeavors. He may
be both, in certain respects, but it is the
atypical specifics of his case that
illuminate some ofthe general forces that
were working in British Columbia in the
latter half of the nineteenth century. The
self-made man was presented as a guiding
image for all classes of society at the peak
ofthe Industrial Revolution, but it was a
myth. Some, like Andrew Carnegie,
seemed to fulfd the myth; Thomas
George Askew, though he did all that the
code required of him, fell far short ofthe
ideal, and much of his failure can in fact
be blamed on the contradictions built
into the success myth and the capitalist
economy itself.
When he was eighteen years old,
Askew left his home in England to seek
his fortune on the American frontier.
Within a year of his emigration, Askew
found himself in California when the
Fraser Valley gold rush started in 1858.
At the earliest opportunity, he took a ship
to Fort Victoria, to embark from there
to the gold fields.4 It is not certain when
Askew arrived in the colony, but a letter
from Rev. Searle, dated 3 August 1858
warns the lad "Don't be in a hurry to get
rich: that is the fault of the Americans,
they love money so much, and what a
care-worn race they are."5 Wherever he
was when he received this fatherly advice,
by 1862 he had recorded a claim in the
Cariboo, mining there in the summer
and wintering, as did many ofthe gold-
seekers, in Victoria. As 1862 drew to a
close, Searle, an avid follower of news
from the colonies had been perusing the
Colonial Despatches and wrote to Askew,
In one [of the reports] there is a
splendid map of your country, and
so I could see Cariboo, and the
Quesnel River, where you said you
worked, and found your 220 dollar
nugget What a prize! You must
have earned it hard... .6
Although Askew was making a go at
mining, he did not forget Searle's earlier
admonition, nor was he unmindful ofthe
future. Olsen writes:
While he never uncovered a fortune, he made, and was able to
save a tidy sum of money. While
more successful miners dazzled
Victorians by throwing hands full
of gold nuggets at the mirror behind a bar, or entertained like
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Oriental potentates, young
Askew lived carefully and
dreamed of a solid, respectable
It seems that Askew was most
unusual among miners; like all of them,
he was looking for easy money, but he
was always preparing to use it to establish
himself in some more stable venture, for
he knew full well that the gold would
soon be played out. The communications
from Searle certainly encouraged Askew
in his ambitions, but were firmly based
in the ideals of stability, domesticity and
diligent labour. In a letter of 9 April 1863,
Searle remarks on the romance of Askew's
"roving life" but is anxious about Askew
getting settled:
I should like best to hear that you
were a considerable farmer or
squire with 2000 or 3000 acres
of your own; and Oh! How glad
I should be if you could write to
me to send you out labourers.
The capital you will have saved
in time I dare say, and its a pity
your agricultural knowledge
should be thrown away... ,8
Two months later, Searle wrote,
A really noble future is open to you,
and I hope with Governor Douglas
you will adopt B. Columbia as your
home, and settle there, for the good
ofthe colony, the greatness of England and your own advantage... .Of
course a wife is wanted to preside
over all this: and I am glad your
thoughts in your letter ran towards
matrimonial happiness as the greatest on Earth.. .When I came to
think over this soberly, I don't think
you would be happy with any of our
uneducated village girls. You have
now a taste for reading and I should
like you to have a partner who
would encourage and assist you in
that taste.9
Searle need not have worried. About
this time, it seems that Askew was casting
about for a place to stake his modest
claim. At the same time, his future wife
did indeed appear on the bride ship
Tynemouth which landed at Victoria in
1863. Isabel Julia Curtis, who would
prove indeed to be an intelligent and
resourceful woman, was herself too
young to be married at the time, but her
mother was a chaperone on the vessel. It
is not clear when George Askew and Miss
Curtis first met, but George "fell in love
with Isabel." She did not feel the same
about Askew, but her mother approved
of him. "He was solid, respectable, and a
good match for her daughter." At her
insistence they were wed in April 1868
when Isabel was eighteen.10 By the time
they married, however, Askew would
already have established himself in
Chemainus, where he would stay the rest
of his life.
The year that Askew came to British
Columbia, 1858, the Cowichan-
Chemainus area had only one white
settler, but in 1862 "HMS Hecate
dropped anchor in the sheltered waters
of Cowichan Bay with one hundred
settlers on board."11 That year a sawmill
was built on Horse Shoe Bay (later
Chemainus Bay); in 1864, Askew bought
this mill with a section of land and three
houses for either $1500 or $3000.12
Askew's new career as a sawmill operator
was not immediately profitable, as by the
year's end he was borrowing money from
Searle.13 Nevertheless, Askew worked
tirelessly to turn his investment into a
successful enterprise. On 5 October 1864
he wrote to the Colonial Secretary asking
permission to bring a ditch from the
Chemainus River so that he could "work
the mill all the year round" and for the
first rights to purchase the surrounding
land "when offered for sale." As the
request made the rounds ofthe colonial
bureaucracy for approval, B.W. Pearse,
the Acting Surveyor-General added his
endorsement: "There is very little good
land in the neighborhood but an
immense quantity of valuable timber."
A.A. Kennedy, Governor of the
Vancouver Island colony, however,
approved the project with the ominous
caveat, "Subject to such rules &
regulations as may be prescribed when
the Crown Lands question is decided."14
By 1866, when the colonies of
Vancouver Island and British Columbia
were merged, Askew's was one of six
sawmills on the Island, described by W.
Kaye Lamb as one of the "two small
pioneer mills at Chemainus."15 Two years
of running the mill does not seem to have
made Askew quite prosperous, as he had
had to borrow money locally and his
friend C.E. Searle saw fit to offer him a
loan of £100, but by the end of the
summer, George had been considering
sending his father in Odell an allowance
and was asking Searle's advice regarding
the making of a will.16 If the money was
not flowing in, Askew was at least
becoming a prominent and respected
member of the growing community. In
1867 he wrote to the Surveyor-General,
B.W. Pearse, to complain that the steamer
Sir James Douglas
appears so completely to ignore all
knowledge of this place, and will
not even communicate with a boat
when sent off to her with letters of
the most vital importance for
conveyance to Victoria to be
forwarded to Europe and other
Askew's role in securing regular water
communication  with   the   capital
cemented his position as a pillar of the
Chemainus community.18
When finally he married Isabel in
1868, George Askew had plans to
expand his sawmill. Within a matter of months he had devised a novel
method of installing a circular saw
in his mill, discovered coal in the
Ladysmith-Extension area, obtained timbercutting leases on foreshore land,., .and had become the
leading local opponent of the Annexation Party, which proposed the
union of British Columbia with the
United States.19
His enquiry about obtaining the
timber-leases is interesting for the note
added by a colonial official, probably
The applicant is a hard working
enterprising man, who landed here
with half a [shilling?] in his pocket,
and by dint of industry has become
the proprietor of a saw mill at
Chemainus. The application may
therefore be [regarded'?] as one of
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 the few cases in which the grantee
does intend to personally utilize the
grant, and I think he should be
This letter shows both how respected
and valued the self-help success ethic was
by the colonial elite, and how little it was
apparently put into practice by Askew's
contemporaries. He was certainly on the
lookout   for   opportunities    (and
scrupulous about chasing them with due
legal process), as the day after he penned
his request to the Surveyor-General for
the timber-leases, he wrote to the
Colonial Secretary a breathless note to
announce his discovery of "what appears
to be a valuable seam of coal in
Chemainus District I therefore request
that the Government will permit me to
have a reservation of four miles square
for the purpose of testing the mine."21
This incident, in retrospect, holds a tenor
that would become common in George
Askew's life; the government failed to
respond to his request at the time, but
the seam he had discovered was ""where
the  Ladysmith  mines  were  later
developed."22 As Olsen writes,
It seemed that Askew never tired.
He often left his mill for days, while
he pursued his dream on foot and
by row-boat around the Chemainus
area, becoming more gaunt by the
day. The arrival of his first-born,
Charles Searle Askew, on August 16,
1869, seemed to spur him on, if
possible, to greater efforts.23
Askew's efforts seemed to be directed
by Newton's laws of motion; the harder
he worked, the more obstacles seemed
to spring up to thwart him. A letter from
him to Surveyor-General Pearse in 1870
recounts his mounting frustration with
the colonial bureaucracy over his
attempts, since 1868, to secure clearly his
timber lease. In the meantime, he had
managed with the assistance of Rev.
Searle's brother to export a cargo of ship's
spars to South Africa, but he was still far
from wealthy. In 1871 he tried, with a
few other investors, to prepare and export
another cargo, but, unable to charter a
ship, the cargo floated in Horse Shoe Bay
for   the   next   two   years,   slowly
deteriorating and weighing heavily on
Askew's mind. By then, he and the other
principal investors decided to sell the
spars at any price before they were ruined.
In 1874, two and a half years after they
had been cut, the last of the spars were
sold to the Esquimalt Naval Yard, which
"became Askew's best customer during
the following three years."24
By 1871, the white population ofthe
Cowichan-Chemainus area numbered
about 490 settlers. For the next fifteen
years, however, there would be no further
growth in the area "as the Esquimalt and
Nanaimo Railway Company had put a
reserve on all unsettled lands for twenty
miles on either side of their proposed
line."25 The E&N Railway, a project of
the wealthy Dunsmuirs and heavily
subsidized by the government, more than
any other single factor would stand in
the way of the realization of George
Askew's dream. Perhaps, as Olsen
suggests, Askew had dreamt "of building
an industrial empire as he sat and stared
at the water pouring over the wheel [of
his mill], while the saw shuddered and
pounded its way through the aromatic
Douglas Fir."26 Perhaps his dream was
more modest than this. At any rate, no
one in the new Province of British
Columbia seemed better to exemplify the
self-made-man ideal by which Askew
lived than the Dunsmuir family; none
but the Dunsmuirs could so effortlessly
and carelessly prevent Askew from
Eighteen seventy-eight saw the birth
ofthe Askews' seventh child, and things
seemed finally to be coming together for
Although Askew was never far from
financial disaster, his dreams began
to take on the appearance of reality.
He was tireless as ever and elated
over the latest improvement to the
mill. The old water-wheel was gone,
and in its place was a more efficient
water turbine. The circular saw,
which demanded greater speed for
efficient cutting, became practical,
and increased the capacity of his
mill. DeWiederhold & Co. of
Victoria agreed to take his increased
output. There remained only the
problem of an adequate supply of
His application for a new timber lease
at this time was not approved, because
of the uncertainty still surrounding the
railway reserve, but he still retained his
previous   leases.   Askew   saw   his
opportunity. Believing that the railway
would soon be built and would bring a
surge of development to the area, he had
a new sawmill constructed by Albion Iron
Works of Victoria. To finance this
project, he mortgaged his mill and
property for $3500 in 1879.28 Olsen
paints a vivid picture of the day of the
new mill opening:
On May 24, 1879, the 15th
anniversary of his entry into the
lumber business, Askew held a
grand opening of his new mill, an
impressive two-storey building,
measuring 40 feet by 137 feet.
There were speeches, then cheers as
the saws bit into the first log. Later
there were refreshments for the
guests and the idly curious alike.
Tresde tables were set up under the
trees in which gay Chinese lanterns
swung in the breeze. It was a
wonderful day for George Askew,
whose dreams were on the verge of
realization. He was congratulated
on all sides and showered with
predictions of spectacular success.29
Only a week later, he received a letter
from    Geo.    A.    Walkem,    Chief
Commissioner of Lands and Works,
advising him that his "only valid timber
lease had expired and could not be
renewed, due to the familiar Railway
Reserve situation."30 Askew was now
faced with a mounting debt, incurred to
finance a sawmill he could not use
because he could not obtain timber.
Desperate, he sold the mill and
property to his mother-in-law's husband,
Jules Boucherat for $6500.
Boucherat assumed the mortgage of
$3500, and...leased the mill and
property to Askew for $100 per
month, agreeing in the terms ofthe
lease that T. G. Askew or his heirs
could buy it all back at any time
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 before September 27, 1884, for
The final blow for Askew could not be
blamed on the Dunsmuirs; he contracted
tuberculosis. In April of 1880, Askew was
declared by the court to be insolvent, but
rhe tuberculosis killed him by the end of
the year, when he was only forty-one
years old. Left with eight children, the
thirty year-old widow Isabel Askew took
over management ofthe sawmill and also
managed in 1881 to open a store in
Chemainus "that also served as the post
office with herself as postmistress." In the
meantime, it seems that she (nor George
before her) had not paid any ofthe rent
owing on the mill to Boucherat,32 and
in 1883, over Isabel's objections and
possibly against the terms ofthe original
agreement, Boucherat sold the mill to
Henry Croft and his partner Henry
Severne. So ended Thomas George
Askew's long quest for a stable,
prosperous life as a capitalist
entrepreneur, but it is followed by an
ironic postscript.
The new owner of the Chemainus
sawmill would do better than Askew;
Henry Croft was the son-in-law of
Robert Dunsmuir. In the words of a local
"Henry Croft bought a sawmill...
and oldtimers were to tell of it
afterwards...; he being the son-in-
law of Robert Dunsmuir, who
owned the E. and N. Railway, was
told to help himself to the timber,
and acquired a large holding ofthe
best timber on the lake (Cowichan)
and elsewhere at $5 an acre." The
underpowered mill, bought for
$22,000, was fitted with a steam
threshing machine engine from
Ransome Mfg. of   England, to
produce 15,000 feet of lumber a
Severne sold his share to William
Angus in 1885. Croft and Angus ran the
mill operation until 1889, when it was
taken off their hands by Robert
Dunsmuir, "who promptly sold it in
1889 to J A. Humbird. That same year,
with partner Macauley, he incorporated
the Victoria Lumber and Manufacturing
Company Ltd., the forerunner to
MacMillan Bloedel Ltd."34
Thomas George Askew was in many
ways a perfect Victorian. He was hardworking, religious, respectable, patriotic,
and loyal to his friends, family and
country. He saved his money and tried
to invest it wisely. He kept an eye open
always for opportunities to make a better
life for himself and his family, but in the
end, the self-made-men around him, and
the government that worked in their
interests, decided they did not need to
increase their ranks from outside. The
Dunsmuirs were comfortable in their
empire, and had no interest in the success
or failure of nameless English upstarts.
The ethic of self-help was undoubtedly
preached by the Dunsmuirs, like other
capitalists of the age, but the inevitable
consolidation of monopolies in this
period militated against the chance that
someone else, late arrivals like Thomas
George Askew, might pull themselves out
of obscurity and into the ranks of the
captains of industry.
The author is a student at the University of
Victoria now commencing a Master's program
in history.
1. Charles Edward Searle to Thomas George Askew. 9 June
1863. British Columbia Archives and Record Service
(BCARS), Add. MSS 285, Vol. 1. Hulbert Family,
Box 1 (hereafter cited only as Hulbert Family), File 2.
2. Peter N. Stearns and Herrick Chapman. European
Society in Upheaval: Social History Since 1750 3rd
ed. (New York: Macmillan. 1992), 142.
3. W.H. Olsen, Water Over the Wheel (Chemainus, B.C.:
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, 1963), 54.
4. Olsen, Water Over the Wheel, 55.
5. CE Searle to T.G. Askew, 3 August 1858, BCARS,
Hulbert Family, File 1.
6. Searle to Askew, 31 December 1862, BCARS,
Hulbert Family. File 2.
7. Olsen, 55.
8. Searle to Askew, 9 April 1863, BCARS, Hulbert
Family, File 2.
9. Searle to Askew, 9 June 1863, BCARS, Hulbert
Family, File 2.
10. Olsen, 62-63.
11. Leonard M. Bell and Ronald J. Kallman. The
Cowkhan-Chemainus River Estuaries: Status of
Environmental Knowledge to 1975 (West Vancouver,
BC: Environment Canada, 1976), 6.
12. The figure of $1500 is given by Olsen, 56, and in Mary
Shakespeare and Rodney H. Pain, Vfest Coast Logging,
1840-1910 (Ottawa: National Museums of Camels,
1977), 26: W Kaye Lamb, in "Early Lumbering on
Vancouver Island," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly 2 (1938): 114-5, writes. "The original cost of
this mill was about $3000," The lower figure seems more
likely as Olsen's research is much more specific than
13. Searle to Askew, 14 December 1864, BCARS, Hulbert
Family, File 3.
14. T.G. Askew to Colonial Secretary, 5 October 1864,
BCARS, File 43a, Colonial Correspondence.
15. Lamb. "Early Lumbering," 116.
16. Searle to Askew, 23 May 1866 and 2 August 1866,
BCARS, Hulbert Family, File 4.
17. T.G. Askew to Surveyor-General, 8 February 1867,
BCARS, File 43a, Colonial Correspondence.
18. Olsen, 62.
19. Olsen, 63-4.
20. T.G. Askew to Surveyor-General, 31 July 1868, BCARS.
File 43a, Colonial Correspondence.
21. T.G. Askew to Colonial Secretary. 1 August 1868.
BCARS. File 43a. Colonial Correspondence.
22. Bell and Kallman. The Cowkhan-Chemainus River
Estuaries, 8.
23. Olsen, 64.
24. Olsen, 66-8, 70-1.
25. Bell and Kallman, 8.
26. Olsen, 57.
27. Olsen, 72.
28. Olsen, 72-3.
29. Olsen, 74.
30. Olsen, 74.
31. Olsen, 75, Italics in the original.
32. Olsen, 80.
33. Shakespeare and Pain. Wtst Coast Logging. 26-7.
34. Wilmer Gold, Logging As It 'Wist A Pictorial History
of Logging on Vancouver Island
(Victoria: Morris, 1985), 51.
Bell, Leonard M., and Ronald J. Kallman. The Cowichan-
Chemainus River Estuaries: Status of Environmental
Knowledge to 1975. West Vancouver, B.C.
Environment Canada, 1976.
British Columbia. British Columbia Archives and Record
Service (BCARS). File 43a, Colonial Correspondence.
 . BCARS. Hulbert Family. Add. MSS 285, Vol. 1, Box
1, Searle to Askew.
Drushka, Ken. inking in theTCrads: A History of
Logging on the West Coast. Madiera Park, B.C.:
Harbour, 1992.
Gold, Wilmer. Logging As It Was: A Pictorial History of
Logging on Vancouver Island. Victoria: Morris, 1985.
Lamb, W. Kaye. "Early Lumbering on Vancouver Island."
British Columbia Historical Quarterly 2 (1938): 31-
McDonald, Robert A.J. "Lumber Society on the Industrial
Frontier Burrard Inlet, 1863-1886." Labour/Lc Travail
33 (Spring 1994): 69-96.
Olsen, W.H. Water Over the Wheel. Chemainus, B.C.:
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, 1963.
Shakespeare, Mary, and Rodney H. Pain. West Coast
Logging, 1840-1910. Ottawa: National Museums of
Canada, 1977.
The Pioneer Bride of Chemainus - B.C Historical News Vol.
28:4, p. 15-17.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Winter Trip On The C.P.R.
by Michael Phillipps
with an introduction by
Dr. Lewis H. Thomas, History Department, University of Alberta.
The following account of travel' over the Canadian Pacific Railway from Golden, B. C, to Montreal is the first description ofthe line
which was completed in 1885 by the joining of the westward section ofthe railway with the line built eastward from Vancouver.2
Following the driving ofthe last spike by Sir Donald A. Smith at Craigellachie on Nov. 7th, 1885, a correspondent ofthe Free Press
(Winnipeg), Micheal Phillipps travelled from that city to New Westminster later in the month and then returned to Winnipeg. He
encountered no difficulties in reaching the coast and returning. But when Phillipps left Golden for the east on Dec. 15th, the line west was
blocked with snow and, as we shall see, the same conditions almost prevented him from reaching Montreal.
The author of the account, Michael Phillipps, was born in Hereford England, in 1842, and emigrated to British Columbia in 1862,
where he was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Shephard He left the service ofthe Company in 1869 and located the well-
known Phillipps ranch on Tobacco Plains in the Kootenay country. In 1887 Phillipps was appointed Indian Agent for East and West
Kootenay holding this position until 1893.3 A strong and vigorous man, experienced in all types of wilderness travel, he had a keen
interest in the resources ofthe mountain region and blazed the Crow's Nest Trail which became the Crow's Nest Pass route of one ofthe
most important branches ofthe C.P.R. He continued to live on the Tobacco Putins ranch until about 1906, when he sold out and moved
to a nearby ranch on the bank ofthe Elk River, forty miles south of Cranbrook. Here he died on July 22nd, 1916.
An English friend who knew him well wrote that "a kinder-hearted or more courageous man I never knew — he was absolutely fearless
— neither flood nor storm, nor wild beast ever perturbed him, but woe betide any man who ever crossed his path without good cause. Hot
tempered but thoroughly just in every sense. "*
Phillipps' description of travel on the Canadian Pacific Railway is a trenchant, lively account by a man who possessed an excellent
capacity for literary composition. As an observer he expresses his views in candour and vigor, replete with significant details. The
narrative is a minor classic of travel in the period ofthe opening ofthe Canadian West.
No doubt you read in the English
newspapers late last autumn, an announcement of the opening of the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Pacific
Coast. •
I live in British Columbia in Kootenay,
in the interior, between the mighty Selkirk Range and the Rocky Mountains,
on the western slope ofthe latter, about
150 miles south of the railroad, and I
proposed paying a visit to England for
the winter.
When I read in the Victoria Chronicle, B.C., all the Pacific Coast papers an
account of the opening of the Dominion Railway from the Adantic to the Pacific, I decided upon taking that route
for England. One newspaper, like history, might lie! But when all the newspapers proclaim the joyful event: "The
West shakes hands with the East," "The
Last Spike driven in the Eagle Pass";
could there be a doubt of the practicability of that route? The so-called "Last
Spike" was indeed driven in by Mr.
Donald Smith, in the presence of a few
friends; and also, naively adds the Victoria Chronicle, "the whole thing was
performed without any ceremony—quietly." Yes, they were wise in their generation to drive in the "Last Spike" on
the quiet, but wiser far would they have
been had they drawn a veil over this part
ofthe scene altogether. Was it a fact that
the railway was really open; or, if a fact,
was it other than a delusive one? For,
how long was the railway open? Sympathy, indeed, would the poor deluded traveller have deserved who attempted to
reach the Pacific Coast, by the Canadian
Pacific Railway, even a few weeks after
the announcement of the opening. The
roadbed was not finished; the rails were
laid temporarily for the sake of passing
over a few distinguished men; and then
the whole mountain section was closed
up. At this moment, hundreds of miles
of railway, from Canmore in the Rocky
Mountains to far west ofthe Eagle Pass,5
lie buried beneath the snow; and property that cost millions lies unused and
idle. Already (in December, 1885) the
rails and track have been swept away in
many places in the Selkirk Range by devastating snow-slides (avalanches). Today,
communication is kept up, and the mail
carried by toboggans on this portion of
the railway; sleigh - dogs now replace the
A deserted house or cabin looks dreary
in these mountains, a deserted town more
dismal yet, but imagine, if you can, a railway deserted! Hundreds of miles of line
abandoned! Signal-boxes, stations, small
towns lifeless, and fast being buried beneath the snow or battered to pieces by
fierce mountain storms!
The Railway Company have given out
now that they will re-open the line on
the 1st of May, 1886, and will then reduce their fares, etc. Impossible!6 A wild
dream! Or if, at an immense expense,
they should shovel away the snow, which
will then, in the mountains, be from 20
feet to 30 feet deep, could they keep the
line open, for any practical good, even
for a single day? Then the warm weather
will have commenced, and the snow have
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 been loosened. Hardly an hour will pass
without an avalanche sweeping over some
portion of the line, carrying with it the
"permanent" way into the ravine below.
I do not myself think that it will ever
be possible to keep the railroad open
through the Selkirk Range, certainly
never during the winter and spring. The
Company may make snowsheds through
the entire Range, but can they make
sheds strong enough to withstand the
snow-slides which, in these mountains,
carry trees, huge rocks, and everything
along with them, and sweep bare the
whole mountain side?
If, as a matter of Imperial or Canadian
policy, it was necessary to carry the line
so far north, not less than one hundred
miles from the United States Boundary,7
would it not have been better to have
gone yet a little further north, and have
taken it round the bend of the Columbia River, as was at first proposed, before
Major Rogers discovered his supposed
pass through the Selkirk Range? To have
done this would have increased the length
ofthe Railway by nearly forty miles; but,
by following the valley ofthe Columbia,
the Selkirk mountains, with all their difficulties and dangers, would have been
avoided. Even now, it would hardly cost
more to follow the Columbia round from
Donald to the Eagle Pass (through the
Gold Range) than to complete the line
and make snow-sheds across the Selkirk.8
But let me, in a few short words, describe my own trip to the Atlantic by the
Canadian Pacific Railway.
I left Kootenay, on the head waters of
the Columbia River, on December 15th,
and four days afterwards, reached the
railway at a point where it first strikes
the Columbia River, after crossing the
Rocky Mountains, and enters the Selkirk
Range. Here there is a small town called
Golden City. The railroad through the
Selkirk, towards the Pacific Coast, had
long before been closed up. An
occasional train had, indeed, up to this
time crossed the Rocky Mountains and
run as far as Donald, fifteen miles north
of Golden City; but, beyond this, the line
was hopelessly blocked.
I arrived at Golden City on Saturday,
1885 - Train waiting at the end ofthe Nipigon break, north Shore of lake Superior.
Photo courtesy Hugh A. Dempsey
just in time for the last train going East,
which was taking back all the railway
employees who had been discharged for
the winter. The railway enters the Rocky
Mountains through the canyon formed
by the Kicking Horse River. For the first
ten miles the valley is very narrow, the
mountains rising almost perpendicularly
on either side ofthe stream. The railway
crosses and recrosses the river many
times, and is for miles cut in the
mountainside. There are here four
tunnels; and it would have been better if
there had been more tunnelling, as, in
places, the mountain rises many
thousands of feet perpendicularly, and
has the appearance of actually overhanging the railway. Even the vibration
of a passing train is said at times to bring
down large masses of rock, which,
gaining velocity as they descend from the
mountain heights, would, if they struck
a train, hardly add to the comfort ofthe
The railway follows the winding ofthe
Kicking Horse River; and the grade for
the first forty miles is so gradual that the
rise is hardly perceptible.
We passed two small stations, Palliser
and Otter Tail, both of which are now
deserted, and obtaining an additional
locomotive at Field, we commenced the
ascent ofthe actual summit. Passing over
a very high wooden tresde, the speed of
our train soon fell from fifteen to three
or four miles an hour, the snorting and
puffing ofthe locomotives showing with
what difficulty the ascent was made. The
foremost one of great size and power, is
used solely, I believe, for passing and repassing trains across the summit. Indeed,
the grade for eight or ten miles on the
western slope, approaching the summit,
is far steeper than anything I have ever
seen in the way of ordinary railway
engineering. After about an hour, a few
jerks and tugs threw us all out of our
seats, and we came to a stand still. Then
followed a few more jerks and tugs, as
the locomotives in vain attempted to start
up, the wheels slipping round and round
without biting the rails.
I got out to have a look around. We
were now far up the mountain side, the
river appearing but as a silver thread away
in the ravine below us. The scenery was
wild and grand, and very wintry. Rugged
and jagged mountain tops towered far
above us in every direction, great tracks
were to be seen on the mountain sides
everywhere, showing where avalanches of
former years had swept down.
The snow was not so deep as I had
expected to have found it, not more than
two feet, and less on the actual track,
where the locomotive coming over on the
previous day had swept some of it away.
Up to this time we had had really no
winter; usually, at this time of the year,
the snow lies from ten to fifteen feet on
the summit ofthe pass, and increases in
depth until the beginning of May.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 After some delay the locomotives
started off by themselves, leaving us in
the cars. The drivers must have had
considerable difficulty in breaking a track
through to the summit, as several hours
elapsed before they returned to bring us
on, although the distance could not have
been more than seven or eight miles. It
was now getting late, and the short winter
day fast drawing to a close. The train,
however, made better time than I had
hoped for, considering the steepness of
the ascent, and we arrived at Laggan, four
miles on the eastern side ofthe summit,
before it was quite dark.
Laggan was the first Rocky Mountain
station we had come to which was not
absolutely deserted. Here, in the
summertime, a spare locomotive is kept
for the purpose of helping trains across
the summit. The town is composed of a
small wooden-frame station, an engine
tank, one store, one hotel - I think
deserted, and a few shanties.
From Laggan, to the point where the
railway clears out of the Rocky
Mountains, the line passes down a valley
of several miles in width, the descent
being very easy.
The next station was Silver City. I do
not think anyone lives at this place now,
although somebody appears to have
made a great but futile effort to found a
city here. Not only are there the usual
frame buildings, with "saloon." "store,"
or "hotel" painted on them, and where,
no doubt, the owners carried on a considerable business during the construction of the railway, but there are also a
great number of large but half-finished
houses, which seemed to speak of a "city"
which had fallen into a decline while yet
in its babyhood; and saloons, stores, hotels, houses, all were deserted.
A few miles further on we came to another station, or rather siding, for there
is but a double line of rails for a few hundred yards. There are no buildings; but
the words, "Casde Mountain." appear on
a board. A singular, massive, towering
mountain, standing out from the range,
gives, I suppose, its name to the place.
Here on our right, travelling east, we had
a view of a fine range of ragged, fantasti
cally shaped peaks.
The last ofthe Rocky Mountain towns
is Canmore, which was to have been the
winter terminus ofthe Canadian Pacific
Railway, and here the Company have
Round Houses, and keep spare locomotives.
We stopped at Canmore for the night
leaving again early in the morning for
Calgary, 78 miles distant.
Soon after leaving Canmore, the valley widens out, and grass on the mountain slopes showed that we were fast
approaching the plains. The train now
bowled along right merrily, going probably thirty miles an hour, which seemed
an immense speed after the tediously slow
pace at which we had been travelling
whilst crossing the Rocky Mountains. A
few minutes more and we looked out on
beautiful, rolling hills covered everywhere
with luxuriant buffalo grass. This is the
charming Bow River Valley. We were fast
leaving the timber behind us, there being now only a fringe along the edge of
the river. Now and again we passed a
homestead or farm; but we saw no sign
of snow, although we were far into December.
We arrived at Calgary about noon, and
here the train stopped some little time,
enabling me to take a walk round the
town. Probably it will become a place of
some importance at no very distant date.
The town site is perfecdy level, and the
population about 2,000. The Hudson's
Bay Company have a fine modern store
here, in the place of their old fort, Mountain House. About two hundred
mounted police are stationed at Calgary;
the barracks are about a mile distant from
the town.
We made a start again about three
o'clock in the afternoon. The Rocky
Mountains passed, I almost thought
myself in England. No more trouble now
from snow!
The weather, which up to this time had
been most beautifully mild, began to
change, and before night the thermometer fell to many degrees below zero. The
cold must have been much more severe
out on the plains than it was near the
mountains, as not only was the river fro
zen, but a few miles from Calgary we
found ourselves in the midst of snow,
running through a snowcovered plain,
which stretched in every direction as far
as the eye could reach. This was my first
night on the cars while in motion; and I
did not sleep much, being unaccustomed
to the motion and rattle ofthe train.
Some time during the night we arrived
at Medicine Hat, a station far out on the
plains. I bestirred myself, and began to
walk up and down the cars, as the cold
had become extreme-35 degrees below
zero, a fierce blizzard from the northeast,
after passing over hundreds of miles of
unbroken snowcovered plains, sweeping
down upon us with cruel intensity. The
cars are most comfortable in ordinary
cold weather. There are double glasses to
the windows, and a stove at each end of
every car; but now the cold and the wind
seemed to come in everywhere. In vain
did the car attendants and brakesmen
poke and throw coal on the stoves; it was
impossible to raise the temperature. So
cold was it that, even when standing close
to the stoves, it was almost impossible to
keep warm; and only one or two passengers at a time could get near each stove.
The stoves appear to have been too boxed
up to give out much heat; but probably
this has been done as a precaution against
fire in case ofthe cars upsetting. A little
before daylight the engine was uncoupled, and went forward for water, leaving the train standing on the track for
hours. There are engine tanks, with a sort
of "windmill" arrangement for raising the
water, at intervals along the line in crossing the plains; and small and solitary
landmarks they seemed in the wide expanse of prairie.
On the open plains the wind had swept
the snow from the track; and we steamed
ahead all day at a fine pace. The cold
seemed less formidable by daylight, as the
passengers kept moving about, and
crowding round the stoves. At a little after six in the evening we arrived at Moose
Jaw. The conductor had telegraphed forward stating how many passengers were
in the train; and we found a really good
dinner ready for us at the Railway Company's hotel. We remained at Moose Jaw
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 about half an hour. By the lights there
appeared to be quite a little town. On
our return to the platform we found fresh
cars, another engine, a new conductor,
The cars are simply superb. The crimson velvet cushions, the gilding, chandeliers, and gorgeous fittings, compare
strangely with the dingy and confined
compartments of an English railway carriage. The cars on all the Canadian and
United States railways are between 30 feet
and 40 feet long; and passengers can pass
from one car to another. The sleeping cars
are fitted up with lavatory, and, on a small
scale, with all the conveniences that are
found in the cabin of an Adantic steamer.
West of Winnipeg, during the present
winter, there are no emigrant or cheap
rates, and only the saloon cars.
The conductor called us all aboard, not
that we needed much calling, for the platform was cold, and the cars nice and
warm. The stoves were nearly red hot,
and not shut in with sheet-iron casing as
we had them across the plains from
Calgary. Once more we shot out into
solitude-level plain around, and innumerable stars above, but so terribly cold
looking. Some time during the night we
passed Regina, the new capital of the
North-West,9 where the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Dewdney, resides. At Regina
are also the headquarters ofthe mounted
When morning came, we were still
steaming away across the level,
snowcovered plain.
About mid-day we arrived at Brandon.
All along the railway there are nice farms
and houses; though the absence of timber gives them a bare and rather com-
fordess appearance at this time of year.
From Brandon, all the way to Winnipeg, there are farms and signs of settlement, passengers getting in and out at
numerous small stations at which we
A young Englishman who resides near
Brandon, to whom I was talking, complained of the summer frosts, which
much damaged the wheat crops last summer.
About six in the evening we began to
pass engine sheds and buildings, which
showed we were coming to a town of
some size. In a few minutes we drew up
along side of a long platform, which, like
all others I had seen on the Canadian
Pacific, was quite uncovered. The conductor walked down the cars, and in a
quiet but distinct voice repeated, "Winnipeg. All change here!" Again, to our
disgust, we were turned out into the cold,
the next train for the East not leaving
until the following evening. And now
commenced my experience ofthe bores
and troubles of civilization, boys, porters,
and hotel runners innumerable, laying
violent hands on me and on my portmanteau.
I had already ascertained the name of
the hotel I intended going to from some
people who had joined the train at
Brandon, so, as soon as I had got clear of
the hotel boys, I went, with a number of
my fellow passengers, to the Douglas
House, which I found sufficiendy expensive; though, I believe, it is much cheaper
than the hotel belonging to the Railway
I was glad to find myself in a bed which
was not moving and shaking about, for,
although several nights on the cars, I had
not quite got used to the rattle and grinding, which is certainly more fatiguing
than the motion on board ship.
Winnipeg is a well laid out town, with
some very fine new stone buildings, and
is lighted by electricity. So the hotel clerk
told me; and I was quite content to take
his word for it. The thermometer was 40
degrees below zero, and the wind still
blowing. Strange as it may seem, I had
no wish whatever to go out into the cold
for the purpose of looking at Winnipeg.' °
I spent the following day, the 23rd,
indoors. The wind was sweeping down
the wide streets, and rendered anything
like a walk for pleasure, impossible.
I went down to the railway depot in
good time, and took a through ticket to
Montreal. From Winnipeg to the Adantic there are several opposition lines, going south through the United States; and
the rates are cheap indeed, compared
with those west of Winnipeg.
I decided to continue on by the Cana
dian Pacific, as not only more direct than
going south via St. Paul, Minn., and the
U.S. side, but also because there was no
change of car all the way to Montreal.
The usual time from Winnipeg to Montreal is, under favourable circumstances,
four days and nights.
What kind of a country we passed
through during the night I do not know.
Daylight brought to our view a country
differing entirely from the plains through
which we had been travelling.
We were now in a rough, broken,
woody country." The timber was small,
and for a long distance burnt by forest
fires, and the hills nowhere rising to the
dignity of even low mountains. The snow
was getting much deeper as we proceeded.
At eleven o'clock we arrived at Fort
William, once a Hudson's Bay trading
station, now a town, and about half an
hours afterwards we reached Port Arthur
(Thunder Bay) on Lake Superior, where
we stayed for about an hour, changing
engines, conductors, and train hands.
The shore of Lake Superior, close on
our right, was ice bound, and looked cold
and wintry in the extreme.
The train from the East was several
days behind time. The telegraph operators could get replies only from White
River, about 100 miles ahead. Beyond
that place the storm had evidently
thrown down the telegraph wires.
Where the Adantic train was, no one
knew. The only answer we could get to
our inquiries was, "Don't Know."
The country along the northern
shore of Lake Superior is rough and rocky
without grandeur, and not even picturesque, if we except a few views ofthe lake
itself. Here the engineers of the Company had one of their hardest pieces of
work; indeed this portion ofthe railway
has been open only for a few months,
passengers to Winnipeg previously going either by the United States lines, or,
in the summer, by steamboat on the lakes
to Port Arthur, and thence by the Canadian Pacific Railway to Winnipeg.
Passengers who had been over the new
portion ofthe line told me that the roadbed was as yet very rough, and that we
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 should have a good shaking; they also
gave it as their opinion that the line was
blocked with snow. No one, however,
anticipated any serious trouble.
There seemed to be quite a number of
shops in Port Arthur. If I had had any
idea of what was ahead of us, I should
have inspected those shops with greater
interest, and have laid in a stock of comforts for the inner man.
A little after 1 p.m. on the 24th December we steamed out, with a couple
of engines to draw us, and went at a fair
speed until shortly after dark, when we
came to a standstill at some place. There
was a siding with a few cars on it, which
were being used as houses by men working on the railway. Huge icicles hanging
from the cars, and deep snow all around,
presented anything but a cheerful aspect
as we poked our noses out into the cold
to try and find out why we were stopping. All we could find out was that there
was no answer from the East to telegrams,
the wires have come to grief, and that, as
there is only a single line of rail, we must
stay where we were until we received information ofthe whereabouts ofthe Atlantic train. When I got up the next
morning we were still standing still. Another tiresome day, and the only answer
we could obtain to any inquiry as to
when we were likely to start was, "Don't
know." "White River," I found out, is the
name of this delightful place, where we
spent our 'Merry Christmas.12
There were apparendy only six or seven
real passengers on board, though there
were also a good many who had passes,
who had, I suppose, been employed on
the railway during the summer. Of the
passengers, nearly all were going either
to Ottawa or Montreal, only one besides
myself being bound through to England.
Early on the second morning, a message came from Winnipeg directing us
to proceed ahead slowly during the daylight. The direction to go ahead slowly
savoured of mockery. It was nearly noon
before the locomotives were ready to
start, and, when our two engines did
steam off, with all steam on, they moved
us along but at a sorry pace. We took
with us a large force of Norwegian nav
vies, who lived in the stationary cars at
White River,12 and who completely filled
up the cars.
In less than half an hour we came to
another stand, in a cut which was nearly
filled up with snow. Out poured the
Norwegians with their wooden shovels; but they were soon in again, their
shoe-packs and leggings covered with
snow, and their beards a solid mass of
ice. After they had thawed themselves a
little, they turned out again, and recommenced shovelling away the snow.
After considerable delay, we succeeded
in malting our way through the first cut,
only to get into another a little further
on. Night came, and found us in a drift,
with a light wind blowing, which drifted
the snow, and filled up the track as fast
as it was cleared. Our friends, the Norwegians, had frequendy to come in to
warm themselves, but as frequendy did
they gallandy return to the charge: each
time they came into the cars they perceptibly chilled down the atmosphere.
All through the night we could hear
the short whisdes ofthe two locomotives,
as the drivers signalled to one another,
so that they might put forth their
strength at exacdy the same moment.
The sound brought back to my mind the
dear old home of my boyhood, where I
had so often lain awake, listening to the
hooting ofthe owls in the big elm which
overshadows what was once my bedroom
Daylight found the engine-drivers
vainly endeavouring to back out of a
bank of snow, as by this time they had
quite satisfied themselves that they could
not go forward. After many ineffectual
attempts, they decided upon reserving
their coal and water, as it was now clear
that all attempts to extricate the train
before the wind went down were useless,
the snow drifting into the cut almost as
fast as the men shovelled it out; and the
men could not work much until the
weather moderated. Soon after breakfast,
the Norwegians started back for White
River, leaving us to our fate. They had
no snowshoes. Although the snow was
drifted and packed hard with the wind,
occasionally   the   foot   would   break
through, which made walking without
snowshoes very fatiguing.
Our stock of provisions in the dining
car was by no means a large one; but we
calculated that within three days we
should receive assistance, or at all events
a fresh stock of provisions, More than
twice that time elapsed, however, without our seeing anyone. The conductor
could not leave the train without orders;
and no one seemed to know exacdy what
to do.
I had promised to be in England soon
after New Year's Day. Christmas had
passed, and the New Year had come, but
England appeared to be further off than
At the end ofthe week two dogsleighs,
with voyageurs, arrived from Port Arthur.
A relief train had brought them to within
a few miles of where we were snowed up.
The conductor also received orders to
feed the passengers free, but, as nearly
everything was already eaten up, none of
us felt much comforted at the strange liberality ofthe Railway Company.
As the dog-sleighs were going on at
once with the mail, I and two of my fellow passengers determined to accompany
them. How far we should have to walk
none of us at all knew. After a rather hot
discussion with the mail agent-that is a
good deal of heat on his part, and perfect good temper on mine-I gained my
point that nothing but the letter mail
should go forward, and that the dogsleighs should carry our wrappers and
necessary luggage in place of the paper
and parcel post.
Early on Sunday morning, January
3rd, we wished those passengers who
preferred remaining with the train,
Good-bye, and started off. Our party
consisted of the mail agent, three passengers including myself, one brakeman,
and also Narcisse and two other Hudson's Bay voyageurs. The conductor, of
course, remained with the passengers in
the train. How long it was before they
were dug out I do not know. Up to the
time I left Montreal, they had not arrived;
although the line was reported clear and
open between Winnipeg and Montreal.
The first day we made only about seven
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 miles, the travelling, even behind the
dog-sleighs, being a litde fatiguing for
those who had no snowshoes.
At night we camped out. We found a
number of empty cabins and shanties by
the side ofthe railroad as we journeyed
along, which had been used during the
construction of the line. We did not,
however, go far enough the first day to
reach one of these, as some ofthe party
were unused to snow travelling, and were
completely tired out. I preferred camping in the open myself, as it was generally more convenient for firewood than
round the deserted cabins.
The second day we made a long distance, the snow, excepting in the cuts,
being little more than a foot deep. As an
old snow-shoe walker, I took my turn in
advance, breaking track
We camped at night at a Section House
belonging to the Company. The Section
men had not turned out since the storm,
but proposed doing so on the following
day. The wind had died away; and it was
decidedly warmer than it had been for
the two previous weeks. The men did not
know where the break in the wires was,
or how far we should have to go before
we should be picked up.
On Thursday, the 7th, we fell in with
a party of men from the East, looking
for the break in the telegraph wires.
We, with true human selfishness, had
been picking our foot-steps with eyes cast
down, without a thought of any but ourselves, and had forgotten all about the
telegraph poles alongside of us, and could
not give them any information. They
looked cheerful at this, and at us, and at
the pleasing prospect ofthe long trudge
before them.
It seems to me that, although the Company could not help the storm, and the
trains getting blocked, they might, by a
little better management, have saved their
servants much labour, and the passengers
no little discomfort. They should, I think,
have been better prepared for so likely
an event, in such a region, as a snowstorm.
On Friday we came across a snow-
plough, with a couple of engines, in the
snow, and off the track. A strong force of
men were endeavouring to get them back
on to the rails.
The same evening we met the Atlantic Express, which had been the cause
of so much uneasiness to the officials we
had left behind us.'2 Those in charge did
not seem to be in an express hurry, and
kindly stopped to have a talk about the
weather, and supplied us, moreover, with
a small stock of provisions. Notwithstanding our news, as there was a working party on board, they determined to
proceed, and assist in getting out the
snowplough and in clearing the track.
Early on Saturday, the 9th of January,
we arrived at a small station, I think
Callander by name, and here ended our
walk through the snow of 104 miles,
which had taken us seven days to accomplish. After some little delay and telegraphing, an engine and car were
dispatched to our rescue, and we were
carried on to Chapleau. Here we found
a regular passenger train, and proceeded
on our journey, and arrived without further delay. We passed Ottawa in the afternoon, and arrived late at night at
During the winter months, owing to
the freezing up of the St. Lawrence, the
vessels ofthe Canadian Steamship Lines
sail from Portland, Me., calling at Halifax for the mails, etc. I found that there
would be no boat leaving Portland until
the following Thursday, January 14th.
Waiting even a few days in a strange
city, where you know no one, is always
tedious, and at six on Tuesday evening I
gladly left by the Grand Trunk Railway
for Portland. We travelled all night, and
arrived at breakfast time at Island Pond,
just on the American side. Here the U.S.
Customs officials examine the luggage.
About one o'clock we arrived at Portland.
On the following morning I went on
board the Dominion Steamship "Oregon," which, however, did not sail until nearly four in the afternoon. On the
15th, late at night, we reached Halifax,
Nova Scotia, and stayed until noon on
the following day, waiting for the last
Canadian mail; and twelve days later we
arrived at Liverpool.
Let those who have crossed the sea in
rough weather during the cold season,
and who, like myself, are not good sailors, bear witness to the discomfort of a
winter trip across the Adantic. And I felt
it somewhat, after having spent Christmas and the New Year in the snow, and
after a Winter Trip on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
This transcription of Michael Phillips
writing first appeared in tbe Alberta History
Review 18:2 Spring 1970. It is reproduced with
permission of Hugh Dempsey of Calgary, editor
of Alberta History for many years. The
illustrations are copies of etchings in the
Glenbow Museum.
1. This document is reproduced through the courtesy of
the Public Archives of Canada.
2. The Free Press (Winnipeg) correspondent made a
journey from Winnipeg to New Westminster in
November 1885, but there are no accounts of transcontinental travel in The Globe (Toronto), The Mail
(Toronto), The Citizen (Ottawa), and The Gazette
3. Phillipps' annual reports as Indian Agent for 1888 to
1893 are printed in the Department of Indian Affairs
reports in the Canada Sessional Papers.
4. These biographical details are contained in papers in the
Public Archives of Canada, supplied by Capt.
J.N.Phi!lipps,R.E., of Chester, England.
5. Eagle Creek Pass through the Selkirks was discovered by
Walter Moberly in 1865 in an exploration for the British
Columbia government. (B.C. Columbia River
Exploration, 1865, New Westminster, 1866).
6. Phillipps was too pessimistic in this case. The C.P.R.
began regular service throughout its line in 1886.
7. The decision was taken by the CP.R. to guard against
competition from American lines, and it was feared rhat
the Canadian government would some day be unable to
maintain the monopoly clause. Their decision was also
affected by the fact that John Macoun had recendy
reported favourably on the agricultural prospects ofthe
whole plains region.
8. Phillipps' view of the defects of crossing the Selkirks
instead of following the Big Bend ofthe Columbia was
shared by others. See The Free Press (Winnipeg March 2,
1885 , and Philo Veritas, The Canadian Pacific
Railway; An Appeal to Public Opinion Against the
Railway Being Cairied Across the Selkirk Range
Montreal 1885. See particularly pp. 52-54. Veritas
favours Fleming's Yellowhead Pass route, surveyed in the
1870s but by 1883 Fleming was prepared to accept the
new route. See his England and Canada A Summer
Tour Between Old and New Westminster, with
Historical Notes (London, 1884). Fleming undertook
this journey at the request ofthe C.P.R., which wanted an
independent judgement on their choice. Fleming and
Rev. George Grant of Halifax were the first men to cross
the mountains from Calgary to New Westminster by
horse and on foot.
9. Regina was selected as capital of the North West
Territories in 1882 when the railway survey reached and
passed this point. The previous capital was at Battlefbrd.
10. Winnipeg had experienced a dramatic speculative boom
in 1882 and 1883, but had now setded down to a period
of slower but more soundly based growth.
11. They had now reached the great Precambrian Shield
country, which extends through much ofthe area toward
12. White River today prides itself in being the coldest town
in Canada.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Mary Henry: Pioneer Botanist ofthe
Northern Rockies
by V.C. Brink andR.S. Silver
Very little was known about the
Northern Rockies of Canada before
World War II and before the construction
ofthe Alaska Highway. Early fur traders
had followed the two great rivers, the
Liard and the Peace, through the Rockies
and had established small centres
dependent on trapping. Along the Peace
River there was some pioneer farming
and ranching. Only a few sketch maps
were available for the land between the
two great rivers.
The reasons for the geographical "blind
spot" on the map of Canada in the 1930's
were several. Remoteness, of course, was
one ofthe reasons but, additionally, there
was the belief that it was a land of barrier
mountains, unending muskeg, and dense
boreal forest. There was a history of
tragedy and death for those who had
sought to reach the gold fields of the
Cassiar in the 1870's and later those of
the Yukon and Alaska using the route
through northeastern British Columbia.
The predominandy sedimentary rocks of
the land did not attract prospectors
searching for precious metals, and
wildcatting for oil and gas had scarcely
started in the area ofthe Peace River. In
the. 1930's, the lands between the two
great rivers became a challenge to the
Addressing this challenge came an
unlikely adventurer, Mary Gibson Henry,
botanist and horticulturist from
Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. She spent four
summers over the period from 1931 -
1935 exploring the region. With Knox
F. McCusker, Dominion Land Surveyor,
as party chief, she made pack-horse trips
of months duration into rhe foothills and
mountains of northeastern B.C. Others,
like the French industrialist, Bedaux,
came later and received more
prominence. His motorized units failed
to cross northern British Columbia1 but
Expeditions of Mary G. Henry
1931 • Hudson's Hop* to Toad River
To Hudson's Hop*
Pacific     &
Ocean   (^Vp'
Mary Henry's expedition did.
Cyndi Smith when writing of the
Southern Rockies of Canada in her book,
Off the Beaten Track,2 states that the
mountain literature is replete with the
stories of men who penetrated the Rocky
Mountain Barrier and explored the vast
valleys in the mountains of western
Canada, but the stories of female
adventurers and mountaineers have
largely been overlooked. Cyndi tells the
stories of 14 women of the western
Canadian mountains. Should the Mary
Henry records not be added?
Mary Henry was city bred. Her interest
in plants, both native and cultivated,
grew gradually as she travelled in Europe
and the American West. After her family
was raised, she augmented her interest.
This had the full support of her husband,
Dr. Norman Henry, a physician who had
commanded a base hospital overseas in
World War I and who later became
prominent in United States medical
affairs. It must be added that the Mary
Henry expeditions for each of four
seasons had the support ofthe Dominion
land surveyor, Knox McCusker, whose
expertise in the bush and with the pack
trains made the expedition possible. But
it was of Mary Henry's determination
and her deep love of land, its plants and
its mountains, which brought the
expeditions to reality.
In 1931, Mary Henry, when camping
with her family near Jasper Alberta in
1930, heard from a trapper that there was
a "tropical" valley to the north. It was
curiosity about the plants which might
grow there which led her to the
explorations of 1931. Through the offices
of Sir Henry Thornton, then president
of the Canadian National Railway, she
sought information in Ottawa about the
rumour and was told that little
information was available. Furthermore,
travel in the north it was stated, would
be fraught with formidable obstacles and
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 should not be attempted. Nevertheless
she was determined to go and persuaded
the Dominion Topographical Surveys
Branch in Ottawa to second to her Knox
McCusker, a competent topographer
with wilderness surveying background.
On June 30, 1931, Mary Henry and
her children accompanied by Dr.
Norman Henry, Dr. B.H. Chandlee, a
surgeon friend, and S. Clark, an outfitter,
arrived at the end ofthe rail at the tiny
hamlet of Pouce Coupe. Pouce Coupe
was then the administrative center for
northeastern British Columbia and was
its largest center (which is difficult to
realize today.) Following a journey of 65
miles on bad roads and a ferry crossing
of the Peace River, the party arrived at
Fort St. John on June 31 and met Knox
McCusker for the first time. There Knox
had assembled some 60 horses,
wranglers, and supplies for a two and a
half month pack trip. The first part of
the trip was west and then proceeded
north up the Hallway River Valley over
quite open country (at that time with
very few preemptions) along benchlands
and rolling hills, through meadows in the
colours of early summer, and by aspen
parkland, some boreal forest, and some
muskeg. Mary Henry wrote glowing
accounts of the richness and the colour
ofthe nearly pristine vegetation. By July
9, the party left the Halfway River Valley
and arrived at Pink Mountain, a
prominent physical feature, today a small
center and airfield on the Alaska
Highway. By July 14, sometimes using
faint trails, they reached the Besa River
and beautiful Redfern Lake, half set in
the mountains and half in the foothills.
On August 9, the party arrived at hot
springs in the Toad River Valley. They
had travelled rapidly but, nonetheless,
had surveyed, noted landmarks, collected
plants, and crossed major rivers including the Prophet and Musqua. As they
crossed theTetsa River, they noted an impressive mountain far up the valley (later
named Mount Mary Henry.) The vegetation and tuffa around the Toad River
Hot Springs although interesting, had recently been fired and did not present
anything approaching a "tropical" aspect.
Here the party turned back, probably disappointed. Mary Henry missed the large
hot springs in the Liard Valley somewhat
farther to the northwest where rich
hotspring warm soils support Ostrich
fern, Matteuciastruthiopteris, with large
feathery fronds, some of which grow to
over two meters. The abundance and size
of this fern's fronds does confer a slighdy
tropical appearance to the area. This region is now a provincial park on the
Alaska Highway.
As the party moved south, it took time
to explore a tributary of the Musqua
River, the Tuchodi River, its valley, and
lovely lakes. On September 9, the party
crossed Laurier Pass and on September
17, reached Hudson Hope, then a
Hudson's Bay Co. post. The party had
travelled over 1000 miles in 80 days
edging, at times, the high mountains but
mainly through the foothills west ofthe
present route taken by the Alaska
1932: In 1932, Mary Henry wired
McCusker asking him to arrange a short
collecting trip. She had been impressed
with the alpine flowers and the
magnificent but unsurveyed mountain
group seen in 1931 from Redfern Lake.
She suggested that a visit to them should
be their objective.
On July 13, she and her daughter,
Josephine, alighted at the end ofthe rail
at tiny Dawson Creek which, a decade
later, would become Mile 0 on the Alaska
Highway. She commented on the
primitive hotel and the mud. A painfully
slow drive on the muddy road brought
them to Taylor's Flat on the north side
ofthe Peace River where they again met
McCusker. They proceeded by skiff and
outboard motor to the confluence ofthe
Peace and Halfway Rivers where
McCusker had 4 wranglers, 21 horses,
and supplies awaiting. Heading north,
they met settlers in wagons, hoping to
preempt land, and several native Indian
groups (Athapascan-speaking Sekani,
Denne-La, and Dene-Dhaa) on their
summering grounds. The Henry party
entertained settlers and Indians with a
"Victrola!" En route, Mary and Knox
climbed Mount Kenny. The party then
Portrait of Mrs. Henry taken when die received tbe
Herbert Medal Jbr her earlier work.
followed a thin trail along the north shore
of Redfern Lake, along the braided
channels and chalky white waters to the
impressive three-mile long glacier, the
headwaters ofthe Besa River.
Again, en route, Mary Henry pressed
and dried vascular plants and placed
selected living specimens in tins.
Josephine collected hymenopterans
(bees) and orthopterans (grasshoppers),
and McCusker surveyed by triangulation
and sketched major landmarks and
peaks. On the return south, the party
travelled closer to and into the high
mountains to the west. Mary Henry
climbed a prominent mountain later to
be designated Mount McCusker. They
explored the upper Graham River which
comes into the Halfway River from the
west. On August 18, the party was again
in Hudson Hope having travelled some
500 to 600 miles.3-4
1933: Mary Henry and Josephine
returned to the Peace River June 28
where they met McCusker with four
wranglers and 24 horses at Hudson
Hope. That summer was wet, the rivers
ran high, and the party suffered some
misfortunes and narrow escapes. At one
river crossing, they lost 450 pounds of
food so were on short rations for the
balance ofthe trip. Mary and Josephine
and others in the party were excellent
hunters and fishers and had, as was usual
in those days, free miners' licenses which
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 A typical home in Dease Lake 1934.
permitted them in British Columbia in
remote areas to take game animals and
fish and to live off the land.
That summer, they were able to survey
and collect in areas west of Akie Pass and
the valleys draining to the Rocky
Mountain Trench on the west, that is,
over the great divide on the windward
"wet" side of the northern Rocky
Mountains. In 41 rough days, they had
travelled more than 500 miles.3,4
1935: The object of the 1935
expedition was different from those of
earlier expeditions. It was primarily to
make the crossing of the northern
Cordillera from the interior plain to the
Pacific Tidewater; collecting specimens
and surveying were secondary. The
railway from Edmonton to Pouce Coupe
in those days suffered frequent washouts
and it was not until July 6 that Mary and
Josephine reached Fort St. John this time
equipped with passenger pigeons and
radio to signal to the outside world. The
party soon reached Laurier Pass and by
August 6, they rafted the Musqua River.
The party lingered around theTetsa River
for several days when McCusker took ill.
This gave Mary an opportunity to
backpack with two wranglers to explore
a large mountain to the southeast, later
named Mount Mary Henry; she climbed
to 8000 feet but did not reach the
summit. At Toad River, she and
Josephine met a group of Sekani Indians
three of whom guided them to McDame
Creek. Following an old but rarely
travelled track from Muncho Lake (now
an important location on the Alaska
Highway) the party travelled west,
crossed the attractive Gundahoo Pass and
into the valley ofthe Rabbit and Kechika
Rivers in the Rocky Mountain Trench
then west by Deadwood Lake to the gold
camps of McDame Creek and Dease
Lake. On September 30, the party
reached Telegraph Creek on the Stikine
River and by boat from there reached
tidewater at Wrangell, Alaska October 2.
The party had travelled well over 1200
miles on horse and foot in about 90 days.
On October 7, Major Aitken, Chief
Geographer for British Columbia, came
to Vancouver from Victoria to meet Mary
Henry to discuss her travels.4
Collecting plants, drying and pressing
them, maintaining living specimens in
cans, keeping them on pack horses and
watered, keeping diaries and surveying,
moving camp almost daily, and daily
moving through meadow, forest, muskeg,
and tundra in sun and rain and heat and
cold, crossing rivers and in wet clothes
and boots some days, dealing with
insects, all this was taken in stride and
Mary Henry loved it. Patience and
organization and empathy was called for
by collector, surveyor, and wranglers. As
her writings attest, Mary Henry was
thrilled by the adventure into new lands,
the spectacular scenery, the wildlife, and
the hunting and fishing for food. She
came to know the vascular flora very well;
there was excitement over new and
beautiful flowers and there was a
sustained and dominant seriousness in
her collecting.
Mary Henry had little formal botanical
training. She was a field botanist with an
added horticultural interest. Her
collections were checked and classified
by Dr. Hugh Raup of the Arnold
Arboretum of Harvard University and by
the staff of the Philadelphia Academy of
Sciences.5 Dr. Raup undertook, almost
contemporaneously with the Henry
expeditions, botanical explorations ofthe
more accessible lowlands ofthe Peace and
Liard River wetlands to the east. His
publications, Phytogeographic Studies
in the Peace and Upper Liard River
Regions, Canada, published in 1934
with its accompanying catalogue of 750
species became the definitive botanical
manual for the area. Of Mary Henry's
collection, Dr. Raup writes: "In 1931 and
1932, Mrs. Henry collected plants in the
mountains north ofthe Peace River and
on the southern tributaries of the Liard
River; in all she collected over 350 species
of flowering plants and ferns making
many notable additions to the known
flora ofthe region." Part of her material
is in the herbarium of the Philadelphia
Academy of Sciences, part at the Royal
Botanic Garden at Edinburgh and a few
specimens of woody plants are at the
Arnold Arboretum. Living specimens
and seeds were assigned to gardens which
later became those of the Henry
Foundation for Botanical Research,
Gladwyne, Pennsylvania and variously
propagated and distributed from there.
In 1991, there were a number extant. It
is believed that from the Henry
expeditions, about 6000 present plant
specimens have been placed in herbaria.
In later years, Mary Henry devoted
much of her time to the Gladwyne
Gardens which later became the Henry
Foundation for Botanical Research and
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 developed fine collections of
rhododendrons, lilies, and amaryllids; she
lectured at home and abroad at the Royal
Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, the Royal
Horticultural Society, London, and
before the Royal Scottish Geographical
Society. She gave much attention to rare
and endangered plants of the United
States and to the conservation of their
habitats. She published frequendy and
was the recipient of many honours which
included the Mungo Park Medal from
the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
(The medal was named in honour ofthe
famous explorer of Africa in the late
1700 s.) Her awards also included the
Herbert Medal and the Schaeffer Gold
Medal. The expedition's topographer,
Knox McCusker, was able to add
information to the maps of northeastern
British Columbia. Air photos were not
available in those days and many
locations had to be determined from high
points by triangulation in relatively clear
weather for bearings. He had also to keep
distances travelled and the details of
routing: where and when to cross streams
safely, manoeuvring around muskeg and
dense forests, and choosing sites for
campsites. The expeditions clearly
established that travel for the experienced
in the foothills and mountains of the
Northern Rockies was reasonable and
that the area offered magnificent
landscapes and a diversified and
interesting flora and fauna. Information
gained was valuable when, in the next
decade under the urgencies ofWorld War
II, the Alaska Highway was pushed
through Canada's geographical blind spot
to the Yukon Territory and Alaska. Mary
Henry who was a fourstar mother in
World War II obtained some satisfaction
that information they had obtained was
useful in the determination of the Alaska
Highway route from Fort St. John to
Muncho Lake.
In Mary Henry's Footsteps
Before she died in 1967, Mary Henry
was well aware ofthe rapidly increasing
human intrusion into the wilderness of
mountain and foothill she so cherished.
The Alaska Highway brought general
access. As settlement moved farther
■ ,5k
A*-* Afc       «     .-'^-■,
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f       Mt.  MAJXY   HENRY
OF     THIS      BEOION    BT
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Plaques near the summit ofMt. Mary Henry.
northward, other changes followed.
Thousands of miles of seismic lines for
oil and gas exploration were criss-crossing
the region. Almost all major valleys
reaching to the mountain divide were
being assigned to guide-outfitters. Three
provincial parks were being established
and more were suggested. The world was
beginning to focus on the abundance and
diversity of large animals including
moose, wolf, cariboo, elk, stone sheep,
mountain goat, mule deer, grizzlies and
black bear. Travel was being aided by
snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles and
aircraft. The way of life of aboriginals and
newcomers was greatly altered.
Nonetheless, the essential character ofthe
wilderness remains much as Mary Henry
knew it despite the many intrusions.
Mary Henry did not reach the
rumoured tropical valley. Nor did she
climb the mountain which was named
after her. The two authors of this article
have covered by various means and at
various times many parts of the routes
taken by the Henry expeditions. We
thought it would be interesting to
commemorate Mary Henry's remarkable
expeditions into the "geographical blind
spot ofthe 1930's," the Northern Rockies.
We assembled a party consisting of the
artists, Cindy Vincent from Fort St. John
and Ken Brauner from Oregon, Bob
Bachelor   of  Northern   Mountain
Photo courtesy of the author.
Helicopters, the pilot and owner of
Northern Mountain Helicopters, Fort St.
John (Ron Ericson of the Nature Trust
of B.C.), and two authors of this report.
On July 28, 1990, on the summit of
Mount Mary Henry we built a cairn and
on it placed a plaque. The plaque has a
commanding view of the northern
mountains and foothills Mary Henry
Dr. V.C "Bert" Brink was a professor of
Plant Science at tbe University of British
Columbia. He has been active with 22 different
organizations related to bis interests of geology,
botany, archaeology, and photography. He still
holds leadership positions in the Federation of
B.C. Naturalists and various conservationist
Rod Silver, a former student of Professor
Brink, now works for tbe Ministry of
Environment in Victoria. He organized several
expeditions into the terrain described in this
1. "Bedauxs Crossing" John Goddard, Canadian
Geographic 115: No. 5,64-70,1995.
2. "Off the Beaten Track" Cyndi Smith, Coyote Books,
Jasper, AB, 1989, 240 pages.
3. "Collecting Plants Beyond the Frontier in Northern
British Columbia" Mary Gibson Henry, National
Horticultural Magazine vols. 27-31,48-51, (1934,
1935, 1949), Washington, D.C.
4. "Mary Gibson Henry: an autobiography" Plant Life
6:10-30, 1950.
5. "Phytogeographic Studies in the Peace and Upper Liard
River Regions, Canada" Hugh M. Raup, Arnold
Arboretum, Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, Mass.
(1934) 219 pages.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Hunting in a Once Distant Land
Hunting pressure is invariably exerted
upon a hunting range in proportion to
how accessible it may be. By the turn of
the century, because their haunts could
then be reached, trophy hunters had already taken scores of rams from the
southern Canadian Rockies, the
Chilcotins southern extremity and from
Telegraph Creek's surroundings. By then,
after shooting up the U.S. West with
Teddy Roosevelt, that swashbuckling
Englishman, WA. Baillie Grohman, had
drifted north to do a little sniping in the
Kootenays: "I was fortunate enough to
bag, among the seventy, eighty bighorn
I got, an uncommonly fine ram, each of
his horns girthing nineteen inches at the
base". And by then, (1885) the intrepid
Admiral Seymour of the British Navy
had, ". . stumbled across the possibility
of big game in the country around
Lillooet". Consequently, he and his
guide, Arthur Martly, took to the hills
by Leo Rutledge
and three weeks later returned with fifteen rams. Also, in the same general area,
from 1903 to 1910, one C.A.Phair
outfitted 96 hunting parties that brought
out 145 rams (in addition to much other
game). Further, by then, to accommodate the gold frenzy of the time, sternwheelers were churning the Stikine white
and thus also provided passage to hunters. A Telegraph Creek hunter,
J.R.Bradley tells of a hunt he made in
1904 when, "...our troubles and trials
were numberless". For one thing, during his 53 day sojourn ofthe "Roosevelt
life", he encountered a lot of
"moskeags" (Muskeg) - and for another,
the Indians didn't know a hell of a lot:
"One Indian knew more about hunting than all the rest put together because
Mr. Andrew J. Stone, a former hunter
had taught him all he knows". Anyway,
although he, "considered the country one
of the hardest in the world to hunt", it
"An unwritten a
something more
ompact between die dead, tbe living and the unborn requires that we leave the unborn
debts and depleted natural resources." A Washington State Supreme Court
was well worth while because, "... this is
the only place in the world where Stone
sheep are to be found" (according to the
best knowledge ofthe time). And all this
happened at the turn ofthe century because relative ease of access had by then
made the happenings possible.
But yet, through all this, the Great Blue
Ram still slumbered on his lofty ledge,
barely lifting a lash — for his was a distant land .... His stronghold, the Peace
Liard Ranges, was then a far away land
still difficult for men to reach. Not until
a quarter of a century later was he also to
be awakened and then, at first, only gen-
By then, the Edmonton Dunvegan &
British Columbia Railway had found its
way to Grande Prairie in the Peace River
Country (1916) and the Grand Trunk
Pacific had dropped off the town of
Prince George on its way to the western
ocean. From these two railheads, to reach
the edge of the Stone ram's domain, a
prospective hunter had a choice. To reach
Hudson Hope, the point of embarkation by packtrain, he could go up the
Peace River from the town of Peace River
Crossing in Alberta — or he could float
down the Peace R. drainage from Prince
George. Most hunters chose neither way
— because after leaving Hudson Hope,
to reach the core ofthe Peace Liard Ram
Ranges, a two week pack trip, one way,
was still necessary.
However, despite the distance and difficulty, had more been known about
these sheep ranges, it is quite conceivable they would have seen heavier hunting earlier — but this was yet a distant
land, still the land ofthe early-day Sekani
and Beaver Indian, a land still steeped in
myth and shrouded in mystery — and
so it slumbered into the 'twenties'.
By then, my mother and I had emigrated from Christiania (Oslo), Norway
to the Peace River Country. As a boy of
10 I was thrilled.. While much of the
'wild west' of legend had already come
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 A pack train moves through Laurier Pass in the Peace Liard Range - c. 1930
Photo by W.Keilly
and gone, I was now at least much nearer
to the great wilds and wilderness of
Canada than I'd ever been before. As a
kid, I guess I must have been a bit of an
odd sort.... Things from far away northern zones fascinated me. In winter, I'd
go out of my way just to walk along the
streets where bundles of snow white hares
and ptarmigan hung frozen outside of
food stores. One large store had great bins
and trays of things garnered from the
woods and sea and mounted elg (moose)
heads hung all round. I stood entranced.
Even the smell and feel of raw furs hung
in a tanner's shop had a strange appeal
and when other boys of my age might
go to see Douglas Fairbanks, Tom Mix,
William S.Hart, Chaplin and Mary
Pickford of the 'silents', I was more apt
to hie myself clean across the city, past
the National Theater, Stortinget, the
Ibsen and Bjornson statues, the Grand
Hotel and Royal Palace and on to the
Museum where I could stand entranced
by the things and tools of polar explorers, Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof
Nansen. Everything the City Library had
to offer on the subject that one of my
tender years could grasp, was just so
much grist for the mill and when the opportunity arose, I liked to be alone in the
woods ....
In 1920, the Grande Prairie country
was hardly a Wilderness, it had seen settlement of sorts for 8-9 years by then —
and after all, people had come for land
— not adventure. But being an imaginative kid fresh from the ancient streets
of Christiania, the country seemed satis-
fyingly uncivilized to me. Anyway, it
served the purpose for the time being
For now, it would have to do ....
In due course, to curb the
Neanderthalish instincts, aptitudes and
aspirations of children such as I, a little
red schoolhouse was set up in homesteader land. It was four miles away and
I was given a choice: depending on the
temperature, the depth of mud or snow,
I could walk,ski, snowshoe, ride a horse
— or stay home. If at all possible, because my four mile trapline had to be
properly looked after, I invariably chose
to go. Along with a wondrous assortment
of weasels, muskrats .coyotes and such, I
also picked up a smattering of English
— so the venture could not be seen as a
total loss.
Anyway, while I was unavoidably
delayed in this budding farming country, one thing led to another; first a .22,
then a 12 gauge, then a .30-.30 and
then, finally, to another emigration; this
time to Hudson Hope, a fur post at the
head of Peace River sternwheel navigation and at the very edge of the Peace-
Liard Stone sheep ranges, a wilderness
in the truest sense. I'd arrived.. .
Upon arrival, I was to learn a litde Stone sheep 'outfitting' had been carried on here for the last 4-5 years. Jack
Thomas, a packer, had been keeping up
an outfit here for some years for the purpose of packing for survey parties, prospectors, geologists, trappers etc and when
the Hudson's Bay Co. would get word
from someone that wanted to go sheep
hunting, Jack was the logical one to take
them. He was simply an able transporter
of people and goods and to him, trailing
a hunting party or whatever, was all in a
day's work To help him, Jack often hired
full-blood Indians, able trail-men and
packers — but not far at the time removed from the Stone Age — nor, indeed, from the massacre at the Fort
Stjohn fur post.... Now packing and going down the trail was one thing but
guiding trophy hunters was... ?? well,
not quite the same... . So one day, after
Jack got his shooting-show off to hell-
and-gone somewhere beyond the
Prophet River country, his dusky stalwarts got miffed and walked out—leaving Jack in a bit of a bind ....
(At least, with mutiny on the high seas,
the crew couldn't just pull the plug and
walk off.... With the cudasses stilled,
there would still be some togetherness—
but here. . . ?)
Now it just so happened that near Jack's
forlorn camp, a trapper, Jim Ross, was
busy digging in for the winter and when
Jack asked him if he would please give
him a hand, Jim said, "Sure" .
Now, again it just so happened, this
Jim Ross was quite a personable fellow,
so one day, having found Jim likeable,
Leo Rutledge posed with skins ready Jbr
market wbenjur was still king in tbe 1930s.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Col .Harry Snyder, one of the hunters,
said, "Jim, why don't you start outfitting
on your own?". "Sure", replied Jim, "I'll
just do that — if you'll look after promotion from your end". And so, off in a
Prophet River balsam patch, a covenant
of some substance and duration was
made — From these rather inadvertent
happenings, the many years of Jim Ross'
successful Stone sheep outfitting came to
follow. And later, it also happened that
Lynn, Jim's son, was to follow in his father's footsteps and continue the successful outfitting operation to this day.
In the early days, in view of the
packtrail distance to be travelled, sheep
hunts of less than 30 days could not be
considered and commitments of forty-
two days or longer were essential to reach
the more dependable sheep ranges. A few
other trappers and packers (than J.
Thomas and J. Ross) dabbled with an
occasional hunt but bookings were few.
For a brief period, a trapper, WS.Keilly,
handled an occasional small party;
among them, Sheldon & Borden's journey of exploration.
I came to get my first look at the
Louis Desjarbus and Leo Rutledge pose with trophies taken ht tbe Prophet - Muskwa Mountains - c 1963
Prophet-Muskwa ram ranges in 1931.
That year, Alberta Game Commissioner
and Big Game Outfitter, Stan Clark,
thought he'd have a try at the Peace-Liard
Stone sheep ranges and the six-hunter
trip that I guided for was his initial effort. Stan did not accompany this venture but instead hired local trail men to
run it. Our forty-two horses were
brought up from Entrance, Alberta and
it soon became evident that they and
many a Jasper cowboy had taught each
other a lot — a lot we could have done
without. . . Once, after we'd got a couple of weeks up the trail, our beloved
remuda decided to decamp, hobbles and
This group of stone sbeep collected by tbe Rutledge outfit in 1968 now are displayed in this diorama in tbe Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles,
Photo courtesy of Lawrences Reynolds.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 all — and we didn't see either them or
the wrangler for a week. Aside from
things like that though, we had a good
trip but Stan seemed to lose interest in
this country and his outfitting debut here
was short lived.
1931 was also the year of one of my
more successful ventures. I got married
and over the years, Ethel and I went on
to have three pretty nice children, who,
in turn, have gone on to raise ten grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren-
all quite a likely looking lot, I must say.
It was shortly after that (1936) when
Curly Cochrane, a Muskwa River trapper, got a chance to take a hunter,
L.S.Chadwick for sheep. Mount Robson
guide, Roy Hargraves and trapper Frank
Golata, were also part of this expedition.
This hunt is singled out and mentioned
because it was the one that ended up with
the all-time record Stone ram and the
only one of any sheep species to be taken
in the Western Hemisphere to measure
over fifty inches.
Frank Golata, evidently liking what he
saw ofthe Prophet Muskwa sheep ranges,
went on to become a highly successful
and respected Stone sheep outfitter. In
outfitting, Frank was a purist — and
perhaps, something of a romantic as well.
He loved the wilds, all it stood for, and I
believe his main reason for outfitting was
so that he could afford to be there. As a
business, his net returns would be un-
impressive-but he did run a real hunting
show. To Frank, a sheep trophy booking
of more than two hunters was a "circus".
In offseason, because he loved the land
and the outdoor life, he made an effort
to capture it on canvas — and became
an artist of no small accomplishment.
Being a gentle man, Frank was fond of
his horses and having clever hands, he
fashioned saddles to fit each one comfortably. These, I acquired from him
when he could no longer return to his
beloved mountains and being beautifully
crafted, I shall ultimately give them to a
Peace River Museum.
Among the Peace-Liard Stone sheep
range's earliest outfitters, Skook
Davidson must also be mentioned.
Skook had been a packer for many years,
mostly in the service of Government
Surveyors. In 1937, in order to have an
outfit 'on site', so to speak, he moved his
horses north to the Big Muddy (Ketchika
River) and setded there permanendy. At
the time, Skook had no intention — or,
indeed, desire to ever accommodate
But no sooner had Skook got himself
established than World War Two broke
out and the Alaska Highway was rammed
through and this, together with pontoon
aircraft and the ubiquitous helicopter
brought into common use, spelled the
end of former modes of transportation
to accommodate survey parties etc. In
other words, progress' was in and the
packhorse out—leaving Skook high and
dry on the Big Muddy — but high and
dry in a vast virgin big game country.
It was about this time that a Fort
St.James Mounted Police Officer brought
his teen-age son to Skook and said, "Here
Skook, see what you can do with this".
From this rather inauspicious beginning,
a bond of many years duration was to
follow and together with R.L.Pop, the
well known taxidermist of Vancouver,
Skook and Frank Cook built up a highly
successful outfitting operation, mainly
based upon Stone sheep.
Following the economic disaster of'29,
the price of fur 'cratered' along with most
everything else. However, such as it was,
fur still remained the North's mainstay
and fortunately, its value strengthened as
the 30's progressed. At least, at the time,
there was plenty of room to operate; I
could stay out all winter and never see
another human track.
Although sheep hunters were not exacdy lining up and begging for somebody
to take them hunting through the 'thirties' and war years, I managed to keep
guiding, sometimes for other outfitters
and sometimes with my own little outfit. Like my friend Frank Golata, I
shunned big parties. Although usually
booking in groups of four, I would invariably divide them into units of two
— and sometimes further into one-
hunter 'fly-camps'. I found the formula
for success in outfitting to be essentially
simple: first, the 'game' must be there;
second, one must have competent help;
third, bookings must not be too large;
fourth, they must be of sufficient duration. Beyond this, one only needs to adhere to the age-old maxim: "Look after
today and tomorrow will look after itself. All rather self evident of course...
It was not until after the war and the
Alaska Highway had blasted the Northeast wide open that trophy hunting
through the Peace-Liard Ranges came
into its own. Previous to that, many of
the young boys that had been growing
up around the fringes ofthe Peace-Liard
Stone sheep ranges had become experienced packers and trail men working for
topographical and resource surveys, running trap-lines and so on. It follows that
when a stronger demand for guides arose,
many of these young men would avail
themselves of the opportunity to enter
into the outfitting business. As a consequence, the following years saw the
Beatties, Pecks, Watsons, Ross, Kyllo,
Brown, Vince, Powells, Callisons, Ardill,
Southwicks, Pruckle and several others
acquiring 'outfits' — indeed, too many
others — until things became intolerably
crowded in the mountains for all concerned. In brief, the Blue Ram's slumbering days were definitely over.
To rectify the mutually unsatisfactory
circumstance of over-crowding, the
guides (after a heroic effort) sorted themselves out and obtained a more secure
form of tenure — an arrangement that
was later given the formal blessing ofthe
B.C. Fish & Wildlife Branch. This sorting and allocating of guiding territories
has proved itself to be manageable and
many good years with plenty of sheep
and sheep hunters have followed.
In 72, after 42 years in the Stone sheep
ranges, I coiled my last block-cinch.
Those had been good years that can never
come this way again. In those years I met
many fine people from the United States,
Mexico, Europe and Asia and I had the
pleasure of working with many great trail
people, both Indian and white. And because it was early in time, I had the privilege and satisfaction of peeking over a few
Stone sheep ranges that no white man
had hunted before. And in my time I saw
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 many marvelous things.
And all this while, how has the land
itself, our font of all things wonderful,
fared? Until recendy, quite well actually..
. . tho not by the grace of man's ministrations mind you...
Rather, it endured because it was large
and sufficiently durable to withstand the
intrusions of our past primitive ways and
tools — but mainly, it survived because
for the longest while, this was yet a distant land.
And now? Faced with the endless onslaught of our needs, greeds and won-
drously destructive 'high tech' tools, the
land, our provider of all blessings, now
stands frightened — because this is no
longer a too distant land.
Leo Rudedge and his wife are still active citizens in Hudson Hope, B. C Rutledge is a director ofthe Sierra Club of Canada, B.C Wildlife
Federation, served on tbe Heritage Advisory
Council ofB. C. and die B. C. Advisory CouncU
on the Alaska Highway Gas Pipeline planning
The Meistersingers: Meris
Choirs Have Distant Roots
by Thelma Reid Lower
Many choral ensembles have called
themselves "The Meistersingers." In
Germany during the age of knighthood
the Italian Catholic church lost its virtual monopoly on music. The participation of northern European knights
travelling to the Crusades led to greater
freedom from the Roman Catholic repertory established by Pope Gregory I or
the Great (540-604). The melodies sung
in unison without accompaniment or
harmony were called "Gregorian Chant".
Popular secular music with its expression of chivalric ideas became more
meaningful to the common people than
religious music sung in Latin. Accompanying himself on the "fiedeF or harp
the popular German Minnesanger, like
the French troubadour, sang of courtly
love or "Frauenlob" (in praise of women).
Frequendy the knights' songs reverted to
religious themes as the chivalric cult became sublimated into the cult ofthe Holy
The knightly art of Minnesang was
promoted in the courts of the German
Hohenstaufen emperors (1135-1254)
and in the stately residences of the
knights throughout the regions of Germany and Austria. The Castle of
Wartburg in Thuringen became the great
centre of Minnesang. The greatest
Minnesanger of them all was Walter von
derVogelweide (1170-1230). Currently,
a British Columbian, Ben Heppner born
in Dawson Creek is a recognized
Already acclaimed as the "heldentenor"
of our time, Heppner sang the role of
"Walter" at the Bavarian State Opera in
Munich in 1994 which was recorded by
After the Crusades the tradition of
"Frauenlob" declined but the musical
rhythms persisted and paved the way for
the art ofthe Meistersingers. In the development of the stylized form of
Meistersang a leading role was played by
the musicians' guilds where the formal
style demanded extreme discipline. The
scholar, after courses of progressive difficulty, became a "meister" (master). He
was now permitted, and expected, to
compose new "tons" (tunes, songs).
The Victoria Arion Choir transporting their guest choirs from Tacoma to a picnic in Beacon Hill Park
Photo courtesy of Thelma Reid Lower
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Victoria Arion Choir singing on tbe steps of City Hall on the occasion ofthe visit of King George Viand
Queen Elizabeth -1939. __ ,_  ,     _ ..
^- Photo courtesy of Thelma Reid Lower
sic. Many Germans, some of them professional musicians, despaired and opted
to emigrate to North America. The first
German Arion Male-Voice Club was
founded in New York in 1854; Leopold
Damrosch was persuaded to come from
Germany to be their conductor.
The Mannerchore movement spread
quickly along the vast networks of North
American railways. Rival railway companies competed for freight and passengers; publicity and promotion included
offers of generous discount rates to entertainment groups. In 1897 a Singing
Train or "Sangerzug" was organized with
seven private coaches on which 120 men
from Newark and New York slept, ate
and sang their way across the continent.
They took the southern route which included Yellowstone Park with its fabulous geysers which they claimed was "the
climax to everything they had ever seen."
Meanwhile in Victoria, Brtitish Columbia, on the evening of February 16,
1893 thirteen men gathered in the offices of Yates and Jay on Bastion Street
to form a singing club. The idea of joining fraternal conviviality with singing is
said to have originated when two rival
male quartets entertained at the same
The Meistersingers had their most productive period of song invention during
the time of the shoemaker-poet-singer
Hans Sachs (1494-1576) who became
the model for the central figure in
Wagner's opera Der Meistersanger von
Nurnburg1 (1868). The dominance of
the musicians' guilds and their strict
training of Meistersingers generally died
out after 1600.
A revival occurred, however, when the
German philosopher Johann von Herder
published a Collection of Poetry and
Folk Songs in 1778. Herder emphasized
the importance of folk art as the most
direct expression of national identity.
Inspired by Herder's ideas, German composers resurrected the old songs of the
Minnesangers and Meistersangers.
Herder further empahsized that the songs
should be reintroduced to the people in
singing schools. Consequently
"Mannerchore" (male choirs) proliferated throughout the country.
During the political and social revolutions in Europe, especially in France and
Prussia, many Germans longed for intellectual freedom. Their singing clubs
and university fraternities became political protest groups masking behind mu-
"smoker". Admiring each others singing and humorous verses they decided
to join together and expand into a full
blown choir. The first gathering of 13
male singers was soon augmented by 13
others. The persistence of the mystical
number 13 awed the early club members.
They connected the formation of their
club to the founding ofthe first German
Arion Club of New York which had also
begun with 13 members. Without hesitation the Victoria men agreed on the
club's name, "Arion."
A second singing train travelled the
northern route in the summer of 1899
visiting Minneapolis, Spokane, Seattle,
Tacoma and Portland. Prosperous local
Arion Clubs gathered together to welcome them. The Victoria Arion Club
participated in the western performances
ofthe touring groups.
Over one thousand singers congregated in Seattle in 1911 for the Sangerfest
ofthe North Pacific Sangerbund. They
came from Oregon, Montana, Idaho,
California, British Columbia and Alaska.
After all, it was on the Pacific coast that
the concept of the male-voice singing
club sent down its deepest roots for there
the communities were principally male.
Three gold rushes — California 1849,
Cariboo 1858 and the Klondike in 1898
- had brought numerous unattached
men to the west. This wide geographical network of men's choirs still functions
within the Barber Shop Singing Societies throughout the United States and
In 1916 a self-taught choirmaster,
Frederic King, moved from Seattle to
Victoria where in 1923 he founded a
women's choir, the Shubert Club. This
was followed in 1943 by a male-voice ensemble of twenty enthusiastic young
men, "The Meistersingers". This group
caused a sensation when they attired
themselves for their first concert in Victoria's Shrine Auditorium, not in formal
bow tie and tux, but in red lounging jackets with flowing black ties "reminiscent
of the singers of Europe." An instant
success, their theatricality resulted in an
invitation from the Victoria Musical Art
Society to join the Shubert Ladies Club
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 First Capital Barbershop Choir - Langley, B.C 1995.
in a program of grand opera excerpts in
the Empress Hotel Ballroom with Fredric
King conducting both choirs. They were
invited to participate in the musicals presented at the Starlight Theatre in Victoria, and the Theatre Under the Stars in
Vancouver. On these occasions they were
under the direction of Beverly Fyfe whose
father had been an early conductor ofthe
Victoria Arion Club. The first era ofthe
theatrical Meistersingers lasted only until October 1938 when dissatisfaction
arose because Frederic King's insistence
of memorization of all material. This
early demise of the Meistersingers was
short lived. Dudley Wickett, a tenor soloist with the original group revived the
group in 1940 with an ensemble of
twenty male singers. Wickett's style of
conducting the Meistersingers was less
dramatic than Frederic King's. Conductor Dudley was the son of Francis TC.
Wickett, a Supervisor of Music for New
Westminster Schools, and later, an instructor of music at the Provincial Normal School in Victoria for fourteen years.
He also taught at the B.C. Summer
School of Education for thirty years.
Many British Columbia teachers trained
by him used his Coney and Wickett
music texts ofthe New Canadian Music
Series published by W.J. Gage & Co.
Dudley Wickett's conductorship ofthe
Meistersingers was interrupted by World
War II. Two thirds ofthe members and
their accompanist Helen Ockenden
joined the armed forces. After the war
at a reorganizational meeting in 1945
Dudley was reappointed as leader. His
new group of young male singers, once
again called the Meistersingers, soon enjoyed an enviable reputation for "somewhat different" presentations. Emerging
from the membership were a number of
star soloists. Edward "Ted" Boulder
(who starred in the cast for Strauss' The
Great Waltz) became the third conductor of the Victoria Meistersingers, serving from 1955 to 1966.
The Victoria Arion Choir celebrated
their 100th birthday with several extraordinary concerts. They published their
own history including lists naming their
seventeen conductors, twenty accompanists, and 600+ members. The book One
Hundred Years of Singing 1892-1992
is still on the market from Beach Holme
Publishers in Victoria. The Arion Club
Photo courtesy of Thelma Reid Lower
is the oldest continuously singing secular choir in Canada.
Male-voice choirs, who share a common ancestry with the Minnesangers and
Meistersingers ofthe age of knighthood,
continue to sing in many regions of British Columbia. If your community has a
history of an all male choir, or presently
has one singing, the author of this article would like to hear from you. Contact Thelma Reid Lower, 4040 West 35th
Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V6N 2P3.
1. Discography: Der Meistersinger von Nurenburg,
Bavarian State Opera, Munich. Conductor Wolfgang
Sawallishc. Set of 4 discs. EMI # CDCD 551422
Approx. $80. (Heldentenor, Ben Heppner)
Mcintosh, Robert Dale Music in Victoria, Vol. 1 & I]
Fort Langley National Historic Site, Parks Canada; Heritage
Communicator - Gerry Borden (who is also a conductor
ofthe Langley First Capital Barbershop Chorus.)
Timbre - bi-monthly bulletin, Evergreen District, Society for
Preservation & Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet
Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), 16607 - 160th Place
Nottheast, Woodinville, Washington, USA.
Capital Comments - Bulletins Langley Chapter SPEBSQSA -
German-Canadian Yearbook 1994, "Arion Connections" by
Thelma Reid Lower p. 15-37.
Opera Canada, Winter 1995 - "Ben Heppner, Ministering
Through Music." by Joseph So, Trent University,
Petetborough, Ont.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 The Mayors of Prince Rupert
by Phylis Bowman
Prince Rupert's first council elected in 1910 Jbr a one year term: G.R. Naden, F. Mobley, AA. Mclntyre, W.P.
Lynch and J.H. Hilditch standings V.W. Smith, T.D. (Duff) Patullo, Mayor Alfred Stork, and A.R. Barrow
seated. They determined to "Take young Prince Rupert on their knee and start to make a man ofhim." Tbey
also chose "With net and pick, by rail and ship, we win our wealth" as the town's official seal, and the song
"We're Hen Because We're Here!" as its official slogan.
The North Coast port of Prince
Rupert has had 19 mayors in its history
since it was incorporated in 1910, and
some of them have been pretty interesting characters.
Take the first one, for instance, a hardware merchant named Fred Stork, (his
supporters were called "Storkites"!), who
was sworn in at the new little setdement's
first council meeting, along with six aldermen, elected only two months after
the town's incorporation. It is interesting to note that he had some independent, strong-minded men in that council,
who vowed they would "take young
Prince Rupert on their knee and start to
make a man of him". That first council,
which included T.D.("Duff") Pattullo,
who later went on to become the local
MLA and then Premier of B.C., also
adopted the slogan "With net and pick,
by rail and ship, we win our wealth" as
the town's official seal, and the song
"We're Here Because We're Here" as its
official slogan - sung at many an oldtime
The second mayor, William Manson,
who was also the MLA, had failed in his
first bid for mayor the previous year, garnering 453 votes, 104 less than Stork.
He was followed by a colorful character,
S.N. Newton, who popped in and out
of the political scene for the next few
years, serving as mayor for eight one-year
terms altogether, but not in sequence.
Other mayors after that were M.P.
McCaffery, Thomas McClymont, H.B.
Rochester, who managed the old Rupert
Hotel for many years, S.P. McMordie,
always referred to as "Col. McMordie"
for he retained his First World War rank
as so many of the veteran officers did
when they returned to civilian life, and a
well-known and well-liked druggist,
CH. Orme, who operated his drug store
in Rupert for years before becoming a
partner in the pharmacy firm of McGill
and Orme in Victoria when he retired
Real estate and insurance agent M.M.
Stephens had just got his feet wet in his
1933 term when the city was declared
bankrupt and the City Council and
School Board were abolished, with a
former resident, W.J. Alder, who had retired to Victoria, appointed as City Commissioner to cut out all expenses and
bring the city's finances back on line.
Later a City Hall worker, Don Matheson,
took over the post, and then a longtime
grocery operator, P.H.(Phil) Linzey.
When the city finally struggled out of its
financial woes, W.M.Watts, a men's
clothing store owner, was elected mayor
in 1943, followed by an accountant,
H.M. Daggett, who served for three
And then, in 1947, the city's one and
only woman mayor (so far) Nora Arnold,
took over, vigorously promoting the city
and tourist trade with gusto in her three
years of office. She had come here from
England to visit her brother, and several
years later, returned to live and teach
school, and then marry an insurance
agent. When he died in 1936, she took
over the business and became very active
in community affairs, serving on the Library Board, the Women's Canadian
Club and the Business and Professional
Women's Club which was a real going
concern in the city at that time. And
when the Junior Chamber of Commerce
and a group called the "Public Relations
Committee" took over an old provincial
building to make it into headquarters for
the local museum and tourist centre, she
was there in her flowered cotton
housedress with mop and pail to help
them out.
Another great gimmick she participated in to publicize the town was recorded in the local papers in 1947,
starting out the account with the amazing statement that this news had even
reached London, England, where a newspaper bannered "STAMPEDE TO
YUKON!" This was the account in the
Rupert paper: 'This will put Prince
Rupert on the map' smiled Mayor Nora
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 One of only threewomen mayorswhen electedto that office
in Prince Rupert in 1947, Nora Arnold was named Canada's
Woman ofthe Year in 1948.
Arnold as she stood before news cameras
in miner's garb, pick-axe in hand, with
gravestones in the background. Mrs.
Arnold didn't do any digging among the
graves and she braved a lot of criticism
by refusing to allow anyone else to mine
there on the legitimate grounds that the
mineral rights were unclear. However,
staking went on in widening circles
around the mother lode after the city
engineer, who was building a road past
the cemetery, unearthed a gold-bearing
quartz reef near the cemetery gate. Road
building stopped when he and his crew
sprinted to the government agents office to record mineral claims, and gold
fever set in like the plague when an assay
showed the find a rich one.
"Finally sanity was restored by Aid.
George Casey, a city pioneer and former
miner, who had been silendy enjoying
the situation. He finally stated publicly
that the gold strike was a bust. All the
oldtimers, he said, knew there was gold
in the graveyard and if it had been in
commercial quantities it would have been
mined long ago. The quartz was in what
was known as 'blind pockets' and prospectors had never been able to find continuous veins worth developing. As a
result of Casey's words, prospecting
stopped and the residents ofthe cemetery
remained richly quiet". Pictured along
with the story was the president of the
Chamber of Commerce at the graveyard
gate, who was quoted as saying: 'Prince
Rupert is no longer a dead fishing village.
A tall, rather austere-looking lady,
Mrs. Arnold, who had served a term
as alderman before running for mayor
and winning by only four votes over
the other incumbent, H.M. Daggett,
was one of only three women mayors
in Canada when first elected in 1947,
and was named Canada's Outstanding Woman of the Year in 1948. But,
surprisingly enough, even though
Rupert streets and parks have been
named for past mayors and political
figures, there has been nothing named
in that city after her.
The elections held in 1948 were the
start of two-year terms for mayor and
councils, so the next elections were held
in 1950, with George Rudderham, a
well-liked businessman taking over the
mayors job. He had gone to Rupert in
1913 from Nova Scotia to work for the
B and B Department ofthe Grand Trunk
Pacific Railroad, and had served as city
alderman for 12 years before becoming
mayor. Unfortunately, his was a short
term, for not long after taking office,
when going about his duties at the City
HallonAug. 13,1951, he died suddenly
of a heart attack, the first and only mayor
so far to die in office in that city. A local
solicitor, H.R Glassey, was appointed to
fill the term until the next elections, when
H.S. Whalen became mayor. The next
mayor, the city's 16th, George Hills, had
a unique situation on his hands, for one
ofthe aldermen., George Casey, was his
own father-in-law, a vociferous fellow
who made his opinions known loud and
long, causing not a litde upset in some
council meetings. It was he who had conspired with Mayor Arnold to put Rupert
"on the map" with the gold strike at the
cemetery story, and the crusty old fellow
remained in office until 1956. During
Hills' reign of office, when he was one of
the vice-presidents attending Union of
B.C. Municipalities meetings in Prince
George, he was presented with a new set
of robes - yellow oilskins, an umbrella
and a pair of skin-diving flippers which,
his cohorts told him, he "could make use
of both in council chambers and out" -
obviously a reference to the much-publicized copious rainfalls on the North
Coast town.
And next in the mayor's seat was a
youngish ex-serviceman, P.J.Lester, a
former American who had joined the
Canadian Army and served overseas with
them and then eventually obtained his
Canadian citizenship and settled in
Rupert with his English war bride, Mary.
He had gained great support from his
fellow union members at Columbia Cellulose Company, and claimed that "it was
time for a change" as the current mayor,
Hills, had been "sitting on the fence, allowing the city to be run by the city engineer, the city clerk-comptroller and the
Coffee Club on the main street, Third
Avenue", and if elected, he promised to
recommend to council a long-range planning committee to consider all expenditures for the next 10 years.
Well, Peter Lester - long known somewhat affectionately as "Pete" by young
and old - stayed in office for more than
those 10 years. In fact, he supervised the
history of Prince Rupert for the next 36,
making him the second longest serving
mayor in Canada. Reg Dawson of Mount
Royal, Quebec, had served a few more
months than the North Coast mayor.
There had been many contenders for the
top post during Lester's time, some obtaining many votes, and others only a few
- Lester, himself, had won over Hills by
a scant 140 votes - and he took on all
rivals cheerfully, sometimes waiting until the last moment to file his nomination papers for an upcoming election,
much to the frustration of other potential office-seekers, especially those who
claimed they'd run if he didn't or wouldn't
run if he did. He saw many changes in
the area during his long term, and gained
a host of friends as well as many enemies.
A very laidback individual, he seemed to
take the good and bad in his stride, and
laconically admitted he didn't get worked
up much about anything.
But it was shortly after taking office
that he attained wide recognition by reading the Riot Act to an unruly crowd -
one ofthe few times ever done by a mayor
in Canada. And not only once he read
it, but twice, both in the same night.
It happened on the night of Sat. Aug.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 2, 1958, when there were hundreds of
visitors in town, to celebrate the opening ofthe brand new Museum of Northern B.C. beside the Court House, and
to take part in the B.C. Centennial celebrations and Port Day festivities which
were being held that week. There had
been a monstrous parade that morning
through city streets, and then more than
2,000 people had lined the docks along
the harbor to watch packer boat races,
gillnet setting, troller displays, log rolling and fishboat races. Then after all the
festivities at the museum were over, everyone drifted uptown, with more than
3,000 people milling about in the streets,
looking for some excitement.
They found it when two police officers arrested a man and a woman in an
incident on the main street in an area
known as "Apache Pass" for that was
where most ofthe beer parlors were, and
put them in a van to take them to jail to
"cool" off", and sober up. Some of the
onlookers tried to interfere, giving the
police a hard time, and the crowd followed the police car until more than
1,000 people blocked the way at a corner near the jail. The police called out all
reinforcements, including off-duty officers and the Fire Department, with the
firemen laying out hoses, ready to repel
any rioting. About 1 a.m., Mayor Lester
mounted a fire truck and read the Riot
Act over a loud hailer, urging the crowd
to break up and go home. But his pleas
were answered by a shower of bottles and
rocks - some of them quite large.
Undaunted, he donned a helmet and
again climbed up onto the truck, in an
attempt to read the Riot Act again.. But
this time more debris and rocks were
thrown, with the crowd milling around,
shouting and pushing each other about.
The Shore Patrol off the U.S.Coast
Guard cutter Balsam with their billy
sticks much in evidence walked the
streets in pairs, along with the local police and members of the Rupert Army
Reserve, who were there at the ready with
fixed bayonets. And then suddenly, all
of the police and Army withdrew, and
lobbed tear gas cannisters into the melee, sending everyone stumbling about,
coughing and screaming, and finally dispersing. It was quite a night in Prince
Rupert! During the years, Rupert had
been "twinned" with a Japanese city,
Owase, and it was while on a visit there
in the spring of 1993 that Lester again
made news when he fell down a flight of
stairs there, and broke his hip. He was
flown to Vancouver for an operation and
then spent some time in the Rupert Hospital before getting about with a cane and
ultimate recovery.
And now there's a new mayor in the
City Hall. A former alderman, John Kuz,
who said he'd quit his job as union agent
to be a full-time mayor ofthe 17,000-
resident city - a promise he fulfilled as
he conscientiously took over his duties
at the beginning of his three-year term
in December of 1993. As for Peter Lester
- who has no plans whatsoever to retire
elsewhere - he continues to operate his
travel agency business, and writes a
weekly column for the local paper on the
new computer which the City Council
presented to him on his retirement from
civic duties, along with the furniture in
the office at City Hall where he had spent
so much time and effort while in his long,
long, term of office as the 17th mayor in
the History of Prince Rupert.
The 1993 civic election was different
from the past 35 years or so, for Peter
Lester did NOT throw his hat in the ring,
saying he was retiring gracefully from
public life... although he did become
president ofthe Port Corporation shortly
afterwards. The election that November
was hody contested between several entrants, notably two councilmen, businessman John Kuz and local man Jim
Ciccone, whose grandparents had come
to this area when the railroad was being
built to the coast - in fact, his grandfather, Jim Ciccone, after whom he was
named, had been there at that auspicious
occasion on Apr. 7, 1914, when the
Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad's Last Spike
was hammered in to complete Canadas
second transcontinental rail line.
But the voters chose Kuz as mayor, and
Ciccone, no longer in civic politics, took
a job in Prince George, and with his wife,
Betty and three children, moved there on
July 1, 1995. But it was not to be, for
two months later, he and two of his children were killed in a terrible car accident
there, and one ofthe biggest funerals ever
seen in Prince Rupert was held for them,
and the Prince Rupert Civic Centre was
re-named the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre,
for he had been active in the sporting
field, particularly in basketball and had
gained honours while playing in the university teams in Vancouver. And Betty,
who had also been born and brought up
in Prince Rupert, moved back there with
her remaining son to resume teaching at
Annunciation School.
Meanwhile John Kuz was not faring
so well, letting a blazing romance and his
public life get in the way of his civic
duties, and, pressured by council and
public opinion, resigned his post in October of 1995, with Councillor Foster
Husoy filling in the mayor's chair until
an election could be held. The seven candidates vying for the coveted post in the
spring election of 1996 stated their views
loud and long in newspapers, public forums and radio, with a local man, 43-
year old Jack Mussallem emerging as the
winner. His grandparents had come to
this growing little port city in its very
early days, so he had an historical knowledge of the area and its development
firsthand, and was able to relate to its past
failures and successes much better than
newcomers would have. He has made the
job into a full-time position, and is always available for interviews and radio
talk shows to discuss any subject pertaining to them. Having worked as city clerk
for several years, he also had a foot in the
door how civic politics worked as well,
and is fulfilling his duties in an adequate
and most satisfactory way, for he had, in
his younger days, worked on tugs,
fishboats, sawmills and other waterfront
activities so is well qualified to discuss
problems related to them, as well as to
finance and commerce connected to the
city's day to day business and finance
Phylis Bowman has spent much of her life researching and recording the history of Prince
Rupert. She is now retired in nearby Port
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Swedish Women Immigrants:
Never, Never Sorry - Always Glad.
by Eva St. Jean
fr        j*   «*                        *»     S5      «s      ->        "<?"■
i4 «
W    ■ J
^ST   2*1-  -4fe- oT^r*            M    -»•**?
P^*?    ft                                  r      '     |
Ladies Auxiliary of I. WA. This picture from the I. WA. Archives in Duncan shows tbe ladies gathered before
Swedish women immigrated to
Canada in the twentieth century both
singly and in family groups. Since each
immigrant's history is both unique and
part of larger patterns, this essay relies
more on personal interviews than on secondary research to explore the immigration experience.1 All Swedish women
interviewed claim to have immigrated
more for the sake of adventure than as a
means to escape an economic or politically disadvantaged situation, and they
display little reluctance in assuming the
English language or Canadian customs.
In the early twentieth century most
Swedish women arrived as maids since
the Canadian Department of Agriculture
warned against importing any "females
above grade of servant,"2 and regardless
of educational background immigrant
women tend to work in service oriented
positions even today. Furthermore, since
Swedish women assimilated quickly,
many felt litde need to preserve their
heritage for coming generations through
Swedish societies. The one exception in
this paper was the Swedish group in Lake
Cowichan. The Swedes here, though,
lived relatively isolated and created a
community where they depended on
each other both socially and politically.
Above all, adventure drove most Swedish women to immigrate to Canada.
Hildur Grip, who arrived in Vancouver
in 1924 remembered:
My main reason to come to this
country was to see it, what I couldn't
see at home. I did not come to make
money or to work because I had
more work at home than I could
cope with. And my intentions were
to go back in three years, but after
that time I sort of got used to this
country, and I have stayed ever
For Elna Goranson, adventure and economics seem to have played equal parts
in her decision to emigrate in 1929. "I
came in hope to find a husband here.
Times weren't very good in the old country and I thought to improve my luck
coming here." Elna found work in a
boarding house in Lake Cowichan, where
she had "lots of fun" since it was popular
with many Scandinavians.4
Likewise, later in the twentieth century,
women left Sweden for other than financial motivations. Elsa Chiarelli did not
recall that economy or politics entered
in her parents' decision to emigrate in
1952. Rather it was the dream of a
warmer country, namely California, that
beckoned. Since it was easier to enter
USA through Canada, her parents chose
that route.5 Similarly, when "Lena" arrived alone to Canada in 1975, it was
the prospect of living in a different country that tempted her.6 Iris Lundkvist, as
well, who immigrated in 1982, claimed
that it was a longing to see new things
that convinced her and her husband to
sell a successful business in Sweden and
try their luck in Canada. The notion of
creating a better life for them and their
twelve-year old daughter, Anna, was not
an issue. "We just wanted to try something else, something new," Iris remembered.7 Throughout the century,
therefore, the possibility of adventure in
Canada seems to have been the deciding
factor that persuaded Swedish women to
forsake the familiarity of their mother
Financial circumstances, however, still
were important, and in the early century
many Scandinavian women worked in
domestic situations. Between 1901 to
1915, more than 86,000 single women
emigrated from Sweden to non-European countries hoping to improve their
working conditions. This accounted for
thirty percent of the total emigration
from Sweden during that time.8 Furthermore, Swedish historian Harald
Runblom suggests that women's sphere
of employment in North America was
untouched by economic fluctuations,
and as a consequence fewer women than
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 men remigrated to Sweden, making
remigration "clearly a male phenomenon."9 "We be glad here all de time,"
journalist Mary Spafford quotes a Swedish maid in a 1906 Canada Magazine
article. "Never, never sorry-always glad."
The Canadian government advertised
freely, changed immigration regulations,
and provided easier travel arrangements
to entice Scandinavian domestic servants
to come to Canada. "Without doubt,"
Spafford exclaims, "the difficulty in obtaining trained domestics, coupled with
the exorbitant wages and privileges demanded, is contributing to increase the
patronage of Swede girls." 10
Although one must read Mary
Spafford's patronising article with considerable caution, there are other, more
balanced studies that indicate a similar
mutual appreciation between
Scandinavian women and their employers. Joy Lintelman argues that "Swedish
immigrants found greater satisfaction in
domestic service than white native-born
women."11 Furthermore, she asserts that
employment in America represented an
improvement in social status compared
to similar work in Sweden, and that
Swedish domestic servants were highly
regarded within their own ethnic group.
Most importantly, however, Swedish
maids did not suffer the same isolation
as the American-born maids. This,
Lintelman claims, was due to an extensive support network within their ethnic
group. Swedish immigrants helped each
other by providing leads to new jobs, and
by finding places to stay while unemployed.12 Swede descendant Clay
Anderson recalled how in the 1920s and
1930s his grandmother, Amelia
Anderson, allowed single Swedish
women in need to stay for free in her
Vancouver home. "She remembered how
difficult it was for her when she first arrived, and when she was settled, she
wanted to help others," Clay said.13
Varpu Lindstrom-Best's studies of Finnish domestic servants in Canada suggest
similar findings. She cites women who
took pride in their work, and were respected by their fellow countrymen and
women. Finnish social organizations
scheduled their activities
during 'the maid's day,'
and the Finnish employment agencies helped
domestics find positions.14
Hence, Scandinavian domestic servants were appreciated and respected,
and responded with pride
in themselves and in their
Being totally immersed
in a local family is also useful while learning a new
language. Therefore, when
sixteen-year   old   Elsa
Chiarelli arrived in Montreal with her
family, both she and her mother decided
on domestic work as a tool to gain proficiency in English. When asked how she
communicated with her employers Elsa
did not recall any difficulties. "When you
are doing house work it is things that you
are very familiar in doing, so if they are
showing me—well this is where you wash
the dishes ... it is things that I can see,
and understand they want me to do."15
However, it took Elsa six months before
she had the courage to display her newfound linguistic skills. When she spoke
English for the first time one young man
looked at her in astonishment. "What,
you can talk," he exclaimed, this being
the first time he heard her speak English.
Their willingness to learn English
helped the Swedish women to assimilate
to Canada with astonishing ease. "English was easy for me," Hildur Grip stated.
"I even had an argument with my boss
(after) three weeks (of employment). I
talked Swedish, and he talked English. I
won." 16 Still, it was mosdy the single,
employed women who found it easy to
learn a new language. For Gulli Olson
the process of acclimatization took longer
since her only friends were other Swedish women. Only after her children
started school and insisted on speaking
English in their home, did she become
comfortable in her new language.17 Many
Swedish women wanted to ease the process of assimilation for their children.
Lucille Smith recalled how her mother,
Lake Cowichan Scandinavian Club gathering in YonbonHall- c 1955.
Left to right -front row: Elna Goranson, Mrs. Sword, Mrs. Branting,
Guti Olson, Ann Lundgren, Hildar Grip, LouiseJutras (Lundgren), Lucille
Smith (Grip). Back row: Myrtle Bergren, ii,PaulSjostrom, VeraLongfurs,
ii, Evelyn Oberg, Oscar Oberg, Eva Oberg, Henry Lundgren.
Picture courtesy of I.W.A. Local 1-80, Gold Collection.
Hildur Grip, discouraged Swedish, and
how, consequendy, the children grew up
with only a faint knowledge of their native tongue. Similarly, Amelia Anderson
forbade her Swedish guests from speaking in Swedish to one another. "She believed it was only by learning to speak
English fluently that these newly arrived
women would adjust to Canada," Clay
Anderson states. Many years later, during Amelia's funeral in 1956, Clay saw a
group of middle-aged women he could
not place among his relatives: These were
the Swedish lodgers paying homage to
the woman who had helped them during their first years as Canadians.
Swedish women who arrived after
1950 generally displayed an even lesser
commitment to their ethnic roots than
the early immigrants. 18 Elsa Chiarelli
never felt an urge to build friendships
solely based on ethnic background, and
although she is still loyal to Sweden, she
feels completely integrated in the Canadian society. Elsa still speaks fluent Swedish, and has been teaching it to
community groups in Nanaimo; however, she confessed, none of her three children speak Swedish. This is not unusual,
and Harald Runblom claims that the second and third generation often forgot
Swedish customs and lost their sense of
ethnic belonging. "Scandinavian immigration to Canada is a so far neglected
field of research... (since) Scandinavians
show a low level of ethnic segregation as
compared to other immigrant groups in
Canada. The interest among Swedes to
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 The Scandinavian Club float in 1962 Lake Cowichan Days Parade. Musicians are NeilEckert, Oscar Oberg &
Ole Belin. Dancers; Nets Olson, Swan Neva, Henry Lundgren, John Davies, June Olson, Mary Neva, Bertha
Lowe and Freda Davis. _.. .,,.,»/«      ,    .
Picture courtesy of I.WA Canada - Local 1-80
mon experience, reports a 1986 study of
immigrant women in Canada. Although
recent immigrant women on the average
have a better education than the average
Canadian-born women, immigrant
women have occupational status below
those of Canadian women. "It seems,"
the study concludes, "that being foreign-
born and female creates a double disadvantage in the workforce for all
immigrant women in Canada."20 Lena
indeed abandoned her training in economics, and now works in Nanaimo as a
registered nurse, thus following the trend
toward service-related occupations for
immigrant women. This, then, indicates
that Swedish immigrant women experienced similar occupational obstacles as
those of immigrant women from all nations.
Moreover, despite indications of easy
assimilation, several of the women expressed a conviction that Swedes, although not belonging to a visible
minority, nevertheless display characteristics that make communication with Canadians awkward. "I'm too bold," Iris
confessed. "I say things straight out, the
way I feel, and you're supposed to sort of
have some cotton around it." Lena recalled how an instructor took her aside
during her nursing training, and criticized her for having a different value system when she refused to feign emotions
she did not have. "They said," Lena con-
Canada. The interest among Swedes to
collect documentation and knowledge
about their own ethnic group has (therefore) so far been rather weak."19 Women
who arrived even later in the century
amplify this sense of estrangement. Iris
Lundkvist notes with a wry sadness how
her daughter Anna becomes more
"Canadianized" every year. Still, Iris admits that Anna has expressed concerns
that when she is in Sweden she feels like
she is Canadian, and when she is in
Canada she is Swedish. "So actually," Iris
concludes, "what she is saying is that (as
a first generation immigrant) you don't
belong anywhere."
It is not, however, entirely without a
certain amount of unease that these
women recall their introduction to
Canada. Iris Lundkvist was unable to
continue her work as a cartographer, and
she recalls a neighbour's insensitive distinction between 'native' Canadians and
new immigrants. "Lena", as well, recalls
similar incidents. She arrived on a scholarship from a Swedish university after
successfully graduating with a degree in
commerce. The scholarship enabled her
to work for the Royal Bank of Canada in
Montreal for one year. When the year was
over she moved to the West Coast, but
here Lena discovered that Canadian employers disregarded her Swedish degree:
they did not consider it applicable to the
Canadian work situation. This is a com-
tinued, "that I didn't react as the other
people did. That I was more stoic." The
difference is clear, Lena believed, especially
when it comes to conflict situations. 1think
that the North American way to deal with
conflicts is to just not really confront the
person, but to let it go and see how things
can resolve itself. I think if you have a conflict situation, you can go to that person
right away and see what that person feels.
Notwithstanding the potential for
awkward social situations, the boldness
the Swedish women displayed was not
always a disadvantage.
While Iris Lundkvist and Lena lived
relatively isolated from other Swedes, the
Swedish women of Lake Cowichan benefited from belonging to a group, and
here their "boldness" served them well
politically.21 The Lake Cowichan women
have fought for their community since
it was established. "My mother only had
a grade three education," Lucille Smith
said, "but this did not mean that she was
stupid."22 Hildur Grip, like so many
other women of various nationalities in
this small logging community, grieved
over the injustices and dangerous working conditions that their husbands endured.23 Therefore, the women did what
they could to help. In the 1930s, Hildur
darkened the windows of her wash-house
so that the union organizers could meet
without being discovered.24 Later, after
the International Woodworkers of
America, IWA, was in place, Hildur Grip
worked within the IWA Ladies Auxiliary.
She participated in the famous Trek to
Victoria during the 1946 strike, and was
the Auxiliary President in the late forties.25 Many other Swedish women were
also active in the Auxiliary. Gulli Olson
was one of the founding members, and
Lorrie Beline was elected secretary, albeit
reluctandy, since, as Myrtle Bergren said,
the mere thought "scared (her) stiff."26
The IWA Ladies Auxiliary continued
to work politically until IWA reorganized in 1948. During the 1946 strike
they organized fund-raising and provided
a soup-kitchen to feed men who would
otherwise go hungry.27 "If it hadn't been
for the women, I don't think we would
have made the gains that we did," Nils
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Olson claimed. Much due to the women's help, the first major victory was a
new road from the logging site to the
Duncan hospital.28 As their work grew
increasingly political, however, the antagonism from IWA union leaders grew
porportionally. "They (American IWA
leaders) believed that women should stay
home, crochet, and have babies. . . but
that's not what we (the men of Lake
Cowichan) thought." The Ladies Auxiliary started to weaken in 1946, Nils
Olson remembered, and when the union reorganized in 1948 to eliminate the
communist influence, the IWA banned
the new Auxiliary from political activities.29 "But these were the progressive
loggers whose wives stood behind the
union," Nils reflected, "and the new leaders, their wives weren't interested in the
same way."30 The women of Lake
Cowichan, therefore, played a crucial role
in confronting and correcting unfair labour conditions, and when the Ladies
Auxiliary floundered, the Swedes turned
to the Scandinavian Club.
Lake Cowichan established the
Scandinavian Club in 1946, and Swedish women who had worked in the IWA
Auxiliary now became active in the club.
Although the founding of the
Scandinavian Club coincided with the
IWA Ladies Auxiliary dismanding, the
degree of Swedish women's influence in
the former Auxiliary is unclear and deserves further studies. Nils Olson could
not see any connection between the Ladies Auxiliary and the Scandinavian
Club, but admitted to a connection between IWA and the Club, since IWA
built the Club hall. It is clear, however,
that Gulli Olson, Hildur Grip, Lorrie
Beline, and many others who had belonged to the original Auxiliary now
helped make the Scandinavian Club a
success. "The Club was not active in a
political way, but very active in the community," Nils claimed. Lately the interest is dwindling, however, and 1994 will
probably be the last year they will celebrate the Christmas tradition of Lucia.
"The new crop just isn't interested," Nils
mused. Although the Club still gets together, the remaining members have cur
tailed its activities, and are no longer
holding regular meetings. Therefore,
even in Lake Cowichan, there is no
longer a definite cause to join people together, the urge to maintain a Swedish
community lessens. Clearly, the Swedes
in Lake Cowichan depended on each
other as a group, and abetted by their
"boldness" they fought a common cause
that might have served to bond them
together in a manner many other Swedish women never experienced.
The writer is a mature student at Malaspina
College. She was winner of die Burnaby Historical Society's 1996 Scholarship Award
1. To protect the privacy of her family, one woman, "Lena,"
chose to use an alias. The other interviewees prefcred to
use their real names.
2. Irene Howard, Vancouver's Svenskar: A History of the
Swedish Community in Vancouver (Vancouver
Vancouver Historical Society, 1970) 13.
3. Hildur Grip interviewed by her daughter, Lucille Smith,
in Lake Cowichan, February 1981.
4. Elna Goranson interviewed by Lucille Smith in Lake
Cowichan, February 1981. See also Myrtle Bergren,
Tough Timber: The Loggers of B.C - Their Story
(Vancouver: Elgin Publications, 1979) 86.
5. Elsa Chiarelli interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Victoria,
February 22, 1994. All further references to Elsa
Chiarelli are from this interview.
6. "Lena" interviewed by Eva St. Jean, February 28, 1994.
All further references to Lena are from this interview.
7. Iris Lundkvist, interviewed by Eva St. Jean in
Tswawassen, February 20, 1994. All further references to
Iris Lundkvist are from this interview.
8. Joy K. Lintelman, "America is the woman's promised
land': Swedish Immigrant Women and American
Domestic Service," in Journal of American Ethnic
History 8 (Spring 1989) 12.
9. Harald Runblom and Hans Norman, From Sweden to
America: A History ofthe Migration (Minneapolis: U
of Minnesota P, 1976) 221 and 223.
10. Mary Spafford, "Swede Girls for Canadian Homes," in
Canadian Magazine 28.6 (1906-1907) 546-549.
11. Lintelman, 12.
12. Lintelman 14.
13. Clay Anderson, interviewed by Eva St. Jean in North
Vancouver, February 18, 1996.
14. Varpu Lindstrom-Best, "I Won't Be a Slave!' - Finnish
Domestics in Canada, 1911-30, Looking Into My
Sister's Eyes: an Exploration in Women's History, ed.
Jean Burnet (Toronto: the Multicultural History Society
of Ontario, 1986) 43-44.
15. For similar experiences, see Spafford 547-548,
Lindstrom-Best 38 and 49, and Lintelman 15-
16. Interview with Hildur Grip, 1981.
17. Nils Olson, Gulli Olson's son, interviewed by Eva St.
Jean in Lake Cowichan, March 11,1994. All further
references to Gulli, Nils and/or June Olson are from this
interview. See also Laura Goodman Salverson,
Confessions of an immigrants Daughter (Toronto: U
of Toronto P, 1981) 386, and Edith Ferguson,
Immigrants In Canada (Toronto: U of Toronto, 1974)
25. Fetguson explotes the communication barriers that
rise between parents and children when children insist on
speaking English to their first generation immigrant
18. Irene Howard compares differences between Swedish
women and those who arrived later in the rwentieth
cenutry. See Howard 115-116.
19. Runblom 276 and 332-333.
20. Alma Estable, Immigrnat Women in Canada - Current
Issues (March 1986), 14,43-44.
21. This paper emphasises the Swedish women's role in Lake
Cowichan. I do not claim, however, that the Swedish
women were the majority group in Lake Cowichan or the
driving force behind the IWA Ladies Auxiliary. The
Swedish women, however, played an important role, and
I have chosen to portray their story.
22. Lucille Smith interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Yobou,
February 25,1994.
23. See Bergren 9-60.
24. Interview with Lucille Smith. See also Bergren 144, and
Sara Diamond "A Union Man's Wife: The Ladies'
Auxiliary Movement in the IWA, The Lake Cowichan
Experience," Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on
the History ofWomens Work in British Columbia
(Victoria, BC: Camosun College, 1984) 290.
25. Interview with Lucille Smith. See also Bergren 176-177,
and 234-235.
26. Bergren 69.
27. Bergren 225, and interview with Lucille Smith and Nils
28. Diamond 291, and Bergren 67-68.
29. Diamond 289.
30. The leftist inclination of Swedish loggers is explored by
Irene Howard 88-94.
Anderson, Clay. Telephone interview. August 2,1996.
Bergren, Myrde. Tough Timber: The Loggers of B.C. -
Their Story. Vancouver: Elgin Publications, 1979.
Diamond, Sara. "A Union Man's Wife: The Ladies' Auxiliary
Movement in the IWA, The Lake Cowichan Experience."
Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of
TO>mcn's Work in British Columbia. Victoria, BC:
Camosun College, 1984.287-296.
Estable, Alma. Immigrant Women in Canada - Current
Issues. Paper prepared for the Canadian Advisory
Council on the Sums of Women. March 1986.
Ferguson, Edith. Immigrants In Canada. Toronto: U of
Toronto, 1974.
Goodman Salverson, Laura. Confessions of an Immigrant's
Daughter. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1981.
Howard, Irene. Vancouver's Svenskar. A History ofthe
Swedish Community in Vancouver. Vancouver:
Vancouver Historical Society, 1970.
Lindstrom-Best, Varpu. "'I Want Be a Slave!' - Finnish
Domestics in Canada, 1911-30." Looking Into My
Sister's Eyes: an Exploration in 'VGbmens History. Ed.
Jean Burnet. Toronto: the Multicultural History Society
of Ontario, 1986.33-53.
Lintelman, Joy K. "'America is the woman's promised land':
Swedish Immigrant Women and American Domestic
Service." Journal of American Ethnic History 8 (Spring
1989): 9-23.
Runblom, Harald and Hans Norman. From Sweden to
America: A History ofthe Migration. Minneapolis: U
of Minnesota P, 1976.
Spafford, Mary. "Swede Girls for Canadian Homes."
Canadian Magazine (1906-1907) 545-549.
Anderson, Clay. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in North
Vancouver, February 18, 1996.
Elsa Chiarelli. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Victoria,
February 22,1994.
Grip, Hildur. Interviewed by her daughter, Lucille Smith, in
Lake Cowichan, February 1981.
Goranson, Elna. Interviewed by Lucille Smith in Lake
Cowichan, February 1981.
"Lena." Interviewed by Eva St. Jean, February 28, 1994.
Lundkvist, Iris. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Tswawassen,
February 20, 1994.
Olson, Nils. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Lake Cowichan,
March 11, 1994.
Olson, June. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Lake Cowichan,
March 11, 1994.
Smith, Lucille. Interviewed by Eva St. Jean in Yobou,
February 25,1994.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Empire Over Nation: Victoria Newspapers
and the Boer War
Victorians who awoke on the Morning of 11 October 1899 to read the headline, "Canadians for Africa !"'would have
been forgiven for assuming that support
for the Boer War was as nationally uniform as that bold statement suggested.
It is true that there was an overwhelming public enthusiasm for the imperial
war, yet support in Ottawa could hardly
be described in such definitive terms. The
Boer War, like so many other issues in
the history of this country, was a catalyst
for further division between imperialists
and nationalists and between English and
French Canadians. Only in the west was
there uniform support for Britain's military endeavour, with British Columbians
once more making it clear that the concerns of empire superseded those ofthe
federal government. The cry for a Canadian contingent to join the forces of Britain's other colonies in South Africa was
taken up wholeheartedly in British Columbia, but nowhere as enthusiastically
as in the provincial capital of Victoria.
Victoria's two daily newspapers made it
eminendy clear to the island's population
that the only proper response to this affront to empire was indisputable support
for Britain. In direct contrast to the eastern journalists, who focussed as much on
the divisive governmental split as on the
war itself, Victoria's coverage was undeniably pro-empire, basically ignoring the
concerns in the east.
While the selective coverage the Boer
War garnered in Victoria may be considered an example of poor journalism,
it is hardly surprising considering Victoria's history. Having been a British colony
since 1849, most Victorians still undeniably considered themselves more British in 1899 than Canadian. Only joined
to confederation in 1871, Victoria, and
British Columbia in general, had been
less than enthusiastic about the federal
by John ThrelfaU
government since their designation as a
province. Notoriously pro-empire and
anti-government, Victorians had less reason to support Ottawa since their disappointment at not being selected as the
western terminus of the C.P.R.; the
choice of Vancouver instead further promoted the pre-existing animosity between the terminal and capital cities.
Thus the Boer War. and the subsequent
announcement of the formation of a
Canadian Contingent to support Britain, provided the citizens of Victoria with
the perfect occasion to publicly affirm
their loyalty to empire; a task which its
two newspapers, The Victoria Daily
Times and The Daily Colonist, were
more than ready to champion.
Although a thorough examination of
Canada's involvement in the Boer War is
beyond the scope of this paper, some
national context is required to fully understand Victoria's position. Rumours of
hostilities in South Africa began in the
early summer of 1899, at which point
Britain first approached her colonies inquiring about the possibility of military
support.2 Met with widespread approval
throughout the empire, British Colonial
Secretary Joseph Chamberlain no doubt
expected the same response from Canada
in the form of a nod from its prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier. Despite hearty endorsement of Britain's involvement in
South Africa from the House of Commons, Laurier's reply that he felt Canadian military assistance was unnecessary
was hardly the response Governor General Lord Minto expected.3 As Laurier
confided to one friend,
I question very much the advisability,
even from an imperial point of view, of a
young country like Canada launching
into military expenditure... Military expenditure is of such a character that you
never know where it will end; I am not
disposed in favour of it. We have done
more in favour of Imperial defence in
building the... Canadian Pacific than if
we maintained an army in the field.4
It is an ironic side note that the existence of the railroad made the eventual
raising and transporting of troops much
easier. In addition to Laurier's justified
concerns over the cost of such a venture
were both his continuing worries over the
Alaska boundary dispute and his awareness ofthe general lack of enthusiasm for
imperial wars amongst the French-Canadian population. Of the former,
Laurier was willing to barter Canadian
support for the war in exchange for a
strong British stance against the United
States in the boundary dispute;5 of the
latter, being a French-Canadian himself
and facing a fast approaching election,
Laurier knew how vocal Quebec opposition would become and what it could
cost him in support.6
The national newspapers were quick
to exploit Laurier's hesitation. Fanning
the public fires of imperial fervour, both
English-Canadian and French-Canadian
newspapers ignored the issues behind the
war in favour of further sensationalising
the division between French and English Canada. Although admittedly pro-
Laurier. the editor of Toronto's Globe
(designated "the official mouthpiece of
the Dominion Government" by another
newspaper7) called into question "journals responding as imperialist, and at the
same time deliberately attempting to
strike a blow at the empire by casting an
undeserved slur on nearly two millions
of loyal subjects."8 As an example of this
paradoxical sensationalism, The Ottawa
Evening Journal published these opposing statements in an effort to show the
"great diversity of opinion [which] exists
in Ottawa as to the advisability of Canada
sending a contingent to assist in the
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Transvaal war":
Robert Stewart: You can put me down
as saying that Canada should offer Britain assistance and she should bear the
expense also. Canadians have received
enough from the British to give something in return.
P.H. Chabot: I don't believe the war
between England and the Boers is justifiable and therefore I am not in favour
of having a Canadian contingent of soldiers go to South Africa... If England is
so anxious to give her people liberty, why
does she not first look to Ireland, a land
which she has oppressed for hundreds of
As the linguistically distinctive names
apdy illustrate, French-Canadians naturally supported the Boer desire for its
unique customs, language and independence,10 while English-Canadians rallied
to the national and imperial banner.11
Following a two-day dispute in the
House of Commons regarding the question of a Canadian Contingent, Laurier,
apparently heeding the blunt advice of a
friend to "either send troops or get out
of office," accepted Britain's offer to finance the expedition and announced the
formation ofthe first Canadian Contingent for South Africa. 12
All this opposition, however, was relatively unknown to the residents of Victoria. Newspaper coverage in the capital
city ignored any hint of dissent, choosing instead to focus on the concerns of
empire and Victoria's role therein. Lacking the three significant areas of governmental opposition—the party system, a
French population and a labour move-
ment13-B.C. in general found litde reason not to support Britain and empire.
One historian has noted that, "[the] outbreak ofthe South African war in 1899
found B.C. standing loyally at the side
ofthe Mother Country: in no other section of Canada was there greater martial
ardour or more enthusiastic endorsement
ofthe British cause."14 Although slower
than their eastern colleagues to jump on
the Boer bandwagon, where front page
coverage was common since the end of
September 1899, by 16 October both
Victoria's dailies were giving the war
fierce coverage; on that day The Victoria Daily Times announced the formation of "A Canadian Brigade,"15 while
The Daily Colonist boldly stated, "Canadians To The Front!"16 Having failed
to keep Victorians abreast of anything beyond the most cursory of South African
developments in the months prior to the
declaration of war, both papers relied on
imperial patriotism rather than issues to
maintain reader interest. Beyond the recent "outrages" of the Boers and their
general temerity in challenging British
rule, the residents of Victoria were offered nothing substantial regarding the
causes ofthe war. Victoria's papers in this
regard only erred along with their national colleagues, who also rarely discussed the issues of the war, choosing
instead to overplay Canada's role in the
empire's dispute since " [i] t was easier and
more comforting for Canadians to remain divorced from reality in this emotional rhetoric overflowing with
Victorian moral values."17
Rarely did this imperial rhetoric cease
in Victoria. The Colonist continued to
give front page coverage to the chances
of Victoria's eager recruits with such
pieces as "Victoria Volunteers", which
advises men not to wait too long to get
their hair cut to military standards,18 and
"Canadian Contingent" which, while
offering news of the national recruiting
drive, added a reminder in bold print to
Victorians that "Saturday is the last day
on which persons can register in Victoria. Let no one forget this!"19TheTimes,
marginally the more restrained of the
two, eschewed such blatant recruitment
strategies in favour of such background
pieces as "South African History,"20 "The
Real Uidander"21 and "The Boer Today,"
whom it describes as "only semi-civilised
[which] accounts for much of the misunderstanding between his government
and ours."22 Playing on what has been
described as "a combination of naive idealism and emotional patriotism,"23 Victoria's newspapers generally chose to
reprint war news from the British wire
service rather than seek out a national,
or even provincial, perspective. It was left
to mainland newspapers such as The
Province in Vancouver to report on other
B.C. cities ("At Kamloops: Six men and
Captain Vicars have already volunteered"24) and the federal dispute, although even this coverage was marginal
and grudging at best, as this editorial, one
of the rare mentions of the federal government, makes clear: "The latter [the
government] are in charge ofthe whole
affair, and it must be supposed to know
what action is best. Therefore, their plans
must be accepted, even if they are not
the most agreeable to our sentiments."25
Obviously, Vancouver and Victoria felt
their best efforts were to serve empire,
not Ottawa.
Neither of Victoria's papers made
much effort at hiding their pro-empire
stance. W.H. Ellis, editor of The Colonist, exhorts Victoria that, "our loved
Empire is so wide and the calls upon it
may at any time be so great that men
may be needed in great numbers. That
Victoria is able to do her share for the
defence ofthe Empire no one... can have
a moments doubt."26 The Times, not to
be outdone, proudly proffered "The
Chosen Few: The Lucky Fellows who
were Selected Last Night to Proceed to
South Africa" and announced "Canada
Again to the Front," although if anyone
read past the headline they would discover that Britain was now requesting
post office official?, not more troops.27
Although only sixty B.C. residents would
join the original thousand strong Canadian Contingent (twenty-five each from
Victoria and the lower mainland and ten
from the interior) articles such as Mr.
Ellis's editorial made it seem like the
youth ofthe island would soon be vanishing. Seen from nearly a century's historical detachment, this type of
journalism may seem like a deliberate
promotion of anticipated militaristic
imperialism, but it must be said that the
youth of Victoria, indeed the whole of
English Canada, was not exactly unwilling to participate in the South African
venture. Although only military men
were chosen for Victoria's twenty-five,
dozens of civilians showed up for the initial recruitment drive,28 a pattern which
was repeated in recruiting centres across
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 the country—including Quebec. The
young men of Canada in 1899 believed,
as they would believe in subsequent wars,
that serving empire would offer "the opportunity for the achievement of something great, something on a world scale
in which Canada could play an important, possibly crucial role."29 The newspapers did nothing to dissuade them of
this grand vision. So excessive was the
zeal of the western journalist that it
prompted The Nelson Reader to observe
that, "one would think it was B.C. that
was at war with the Boers, and not the
British Empire."30
If the national newspapers used the war
as a platform to foster anti-Quebecois
sentiments and "fed-bashing", then Victoria's newspapers used the war for one
ofthe oldest reasons: to sell papers. The
Boer War broke out at a time when both
The Colonist and The Times were
searching for a new- headline. In the
months prior to the outbreak of hostilities, rhe front pages of both were filled
with details ofthe Dreyfus Affair and the
continuing Alaska boundary dispute; yet
by October neither of these stories was
providing sufficient copy. The Dreyfus
trial had fizzled out to a journalistically
disappointing conclusion and rhe Alaska
boundary dispute, while close to home,
was slow to develop. Both papers resorted
to frequent coverage ofthe America's Cup
race in early October, but it did seem to
have a habit of being cancelled due to
inclement weather or ship repairs. Just
at the moment when it would be easy to
imagine circulation dropping, the ultimate reprieve comes along: a war. What
could be better for distinctly pro-empire
newspapers than a war in which Britain
was the perceived victim of hostile attack?
Certainly The Colonist was quick to exploit the war to its fullest potential, offering a "20th Century Adas" and a "War
Map of South Africa" to keep readers
posted on the war—for a reasonable
price.31 The Times, not to be outdone,
exploited the inherent Victoria/Vancouver rivalry in their article, "Heading to
the Front: Vancouvers 'Send-OfF Less
Enthusiastic than that ofthe Capital":
At the station, the crowd and the enthu
siasm were very disappointing to those
whose ears were still ringing with the hearty
cheers ofthe Victoria people. "Why don't
you shout?" asked a Victorian, of one ofthe
Terminal City's residents. "Oh, that's very
weU for people from rural parts," was the
reply, "but we are a Metropolitan city and
don't do that sort of thing "And they didn't,
until as the train pulled out, a Victorian
could stand it no longer and giving the time
himself,led off three hearty cheers?2
This indignant report undoubtedly
went a long way in raising both Victoria's ire and the sales of The Times, despite its conflict with the report of the
same event in The Province, which distinctly commented upon the great
amount of cheering and band playing
that went on.33
Another curious aspect of war journalism is the shift which advertising in both
papers underwent. Suddenly, slogans like
"White Man's Burden, "« "The War in
Africa, "35 "Snider Rifles "36 and the unfortunately tided "Slaughter Sale"37 began appearing above products that had
nothing to do with any of their eye-catching headlines. The Colonist, in a patriotic coup over The Times, utilised the
modern technology of the wireless telegraph to send an abbreviated form of
the paper to the Victoria boys as they
travelled across Canada; they also made
sure it ran as a significant story highlighting that this method "has probably never
before been attempted in Canada if anywhere."38 As was previously stated, The
Colonist also began producing its own
line of war-related printed matter, leaving The Times to resort to such blatant
ads as, "You Must Take The Evening
Times If You Want All The War News
First Hand."39 The Times must have
subsequently regretted their late-afternoon printing schedule the morning
when The Colonist grandly announced
that it had "scooped" the news of General Cronje's surrender: "NO OTHER
MORNING.40" Never mind the fact
that it was only a two paragraph wire
story which neglected to mention rhe role
which Canada's troops played in the surrender; in the war of the dailies, every
victory is significant.
Reports of dissenters to the Boer War
were commonplace to the readers of national papers, who were familiar with the
French-Canadian, Liberal and labour
positions, but to the deaf, dumb and
blind pro-empire loyalists in Victoria,
rumours of opposition were seen as treasonous. It was three months before The
Colonist broke the story that a "foreign
element" was inciting "certain sympathizers with the Transvaal republic" into raising funds to support the Boer's efforts.41
Although no mention had been made in
the paper before, apparently "that there
are resident in the city many who are
openly in sympathy with the Boer cause
is well known"; no action had ever been
taken before since, although annoying,
"no one dreamed for a moment that an
open advocacy of assistance to Paul
Kruger would be attempted."42 The
Times brought these rumours into a national perspective for the first time, telling its readers that, "the roots of sedition
have been sown in Victoria, as well as
Montreal, the only other Canadian city
where anti-British feeling... seems to have
obtained a foothold"43 But even though
the French-Canadian attitude had finally
been brought to light in Victoria, the
cause of their protest is ascribed to Boer
agitation rather than justifable resistance
to Britain's imperial policies. The same
issue of The Times also reports with satisfaction a fight wherein a pro-Boer customer is thoroughly trounced by a
pro-empire shopkeeper.44 Local reaction
is, not surprisingly, on the side of empire, with one editorial letter noting,
"Give it to the Boer sympathisers !"45
Since the news of dissent apparently
was now out, The Colonist gave its readers the front-page story that "Quebec
Artillery Volunteers Not Up To Number
Allotted That Province," loyal Victorians
were undoubtedly shocked by the news
that only forty ofthe fifty-five positions
were filled in Quebec City, while "another field battery in the province was
supposed to furnish thirteen men, but
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 no one has volunteered, and their places
have to be filled by others."46 With no
background offered on the reasons behind the long months of Quebec opposition, this news would undoubtedly
come as a surprise to the people of Victoria, who embody "the true sentiment
of this province, so far removed from the
centre of Imperial authority. "47 In a city
where the editors of newspapers are called
upon to "give the names of these traitors, so that they may not in any way be
assisted by loyal Victorians,"48 it is not
too great an assumption to believe that
the "selective news" policy of Victoria's
papers was an attempt to intentionally
modify, or at the very least encourage,
local pro-empire opinion.
One final occasion for the newspapers
of Victoria to declare their allegiance to
empire came with the news that four of
Victoria's twenty-five men had been
killed in batde. Although their losses were
grieved by the community as a whole,
these men did more than just die: they
became "the first contribution of Canadian blood for the cementing of Empire."49 Death was used to further
promote Victoria's greater link with empire over nation, proclaiming "to the four
winds more loudly than could diplomatic
agents that imperial federation-if the
shedding of colonial blood for the dream
ofthe Motherland means anything-is an
accomplished fact"50, - a statement made
in the provincial legislature, which seems
to have the double-edged function of
stabbing at both the federal government
and the collective Boer dissenters. How
different this sentiment from that of The
Globe, which remarked that the Canadian deaths offer "a cementing of hurts,
a forgetting of differences and dissensions
and a strengthening ofthe tie that binds
our provinces together."51 This editorial,
made by a newspaper with a stardingly
different oudook on Canada and empire
than any in Victoria, strongly shows the
power that a newspaper can have on
moulding public opinion. By ignoring
the greater loss to Canada—not to mention the physical loss ofthe other Canadian dead— the narrow imperial focus
of Victoria's newspapers used these
deaths to further isolate Victoria from the
federal government and to further
strengthen its perceived ties with empire.
Despite the fact that "the whole enterprise was small in scale in proportion to
the national controversy it occasioned,"52
the Boer War did play an important role
in Canadian history. By falling into line
with Britain's new imperial policy of colonial support for foreign wars, the Boer
War established precedent for Canadian
involvement in World Wars I and II, as
well as the Korean War. It also set the
standard for both support and dissent of
these wars by the federal government and
its oppositional forces. Similarly, newspaper coverage of those future engagements would also be dictated by regional
and political concerns, just as in the Boer
War. For the residents of Victoria, the
actions of its two daily papers meant that
they enjoyed a vision of the Boer War
significandy different than that ofthe rest
of Canada. Isolated by its traditional anti-
government, pro-empire attitude, the
Boer War for Victorians was just that: a
Victorian war, fought for the glory of
preserving 19th-century colonial empire
rather than the task of strengthening
20th-century Canadian unity. Although
the Boer War continued for the first two
years ofthe new century, for the residents
of Victoria the tone ofthe entire war was
predetermined by the civic and personal
opinions of its local newspapers.
John Threlfallis a mature student who achieved
his BA, double Major History and English at
U. Vic in June 1996. He has been a columnist,
a theatre technician, a volunteer fireman, and
a projectionist. He has commenced work on his
MA in European history.
1. The Daily Colonist, 11 October 1899, p.l.
2. Robert Craig Brown and Ramsay Cook, Canada 1896-
1921: A Nation Transformed (Toronto: McClelland and
Stewart, 1974).
3. Carman Miller, Painting the Map Red: Canada and
tbe South African War, 1899-1902 (Montreal:
Canadian War Museum, 1993), p. 32.
4. CP. Stacey, Canada and the Age of Conflict: A
History of Canadian External Policies vol. 1:1867-
1921 (Toronto: MacMillan, 1977), p.62.
5. Brown and Cook, p. 44.
6. Norman Penlington, Canada and Imperialism 1896-
1899 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1965), p. 247.
7. The Nanaimo Free Press, 12 October 1899, p.l.
8. The Globe, 9 October 1899. p. 6.
9. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 13 October 1899, p.7.
10. Penlington, p. 246.
11. Brown and Cook, p. 39.
12. Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada
(Edmonton: Hurtig, 1990), p. 114.
13. Miller, p. 22.
14. Margaret Ormsby, B.C.: A History (Vancouver
MacMillan, 1958), p. 237.
15. The Victoria Daily Times, 16 October 1899, p. 1.
16. The Colonist, 16 October 1899, p. 1.
17. Robert Page, "Canada and the 'Imperial* Idea in the Boer
War Years," Journal of Canadian Studies, volume 5 #1,
February 1970, p. 47.
18. The Colonist, 17 October 1899, p. 1.
19. Ibid, 19 October 1899, p. 1.
20. The Times, 17 October 1899, p. 2.
21. Ibid, p. 8.
22. Ibid, 18 October 1899, p. 2.
23. Robert Page, The Boer War and Canadian Imperialism
(Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1987), p. 3.
24. The Province, 20 October 1899, p. 1.
25. Ibid, 23 October 1899, p. 5.
26. The Colonist, 20 October 1899, p.4.
27. The Times, 21 October 1899, p. 8.
28. The Colonist, 17 October 1899, p. 1.
29. Page, "Canada," p. 37.
30. Ormsby, p. 328.
31. The Colonist, 29 October 1899, p. 4.
32. TheTimes, 24 October 1899, p. 8.
33. The Province, 23 October 1899, p. 5.
34. Apparendy the white man's burden was not Africa but
weak kidneys, or so the makers of Doan's Kidney Pills
would have its customers believe. TheTimes, 24
February 1900, p.3.
35. This ad cited the war as a probable source of rising
diamond prices and encouraged customers to come to the
gem sale at Challoner and Mitchell Jewellers. Ibid, 30
October 1899, p. 1.
36. The Snider rifle was equated with bad eye ware, a
warning that "the man who satisfies himself with
yesterday's inventions is in a bad way to fight today's
battles," or so says R.G. Macpherson, Optician. The
Province, 18 October 1899, p. 1.
37. Although a common term for a bargain sell-offprior to
the war, this phrase took on rather unfortunate
connotations during wartime. The Times, 25 October
1899, p. 3.
38. The Colonist, 25 October 1899, p. 2.
39. The Times, 31 October 1899, p. 3.
40. The Colonist, 28 February 1900, p. 2.
41. Ibid, 3 January 1900, p. 2.
42. Ibid.
43. The Times, 3 January 1900, p. 7.
44. Ibid.
45. Ibid, 5 January 1900, p.7.
46. The Colonist, 5 January 1900, p. 1.
47. Ibid, p. 4.
48. Ibid, p. 7.
49. Ibid, 22 February 1900, p. 4.
50. Ibid, p. 8.
51. The Globe, 22 February 1900, p. 6.
52. Stacey, p. 70.
Brown, Robert Craig and Cook, Ramsay. Canada 1896-
1921: A Nation Transformed. Toronto: McClelland and
Stewart, 1974.
The Daily Colonist
The Globe.
Miller, Carman. Painting the Map Red: Canada and the
South African War, 1899- 1902. Montreal: Canadian
War Museum, 1993.
Morton, Desmond. A Military History of Canada.
Edmonton: Hurtig, 1990. The Nanaimo Free Press.
Ormsby, Margaret. B. C: A History. Vancouver, MacMillan,
1958. The Ottawa Evening Journal.
Page, Robert. The Boer War and Canadian Imperialism.
Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1987.
Page,        Robert. "Canada and the 'Imperial' Idea in the
Boer War Years." Journal of Canadian Studies, volume 5
#1, February 1970, pp.33-49.
Penlington, Norman. Canada and Imperialism 1896-1899.
Toronto: University of Toronto, 1965.
The Province.
Stacey, CP. Canada and the Age of Conflict: A History of
Canadian External Policies volume 1: 1867-1921.
Toronto: MacMillan, 1977.
The Victoria Daily Times.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Gift Subscriptions
send a subscription to a friend or relative at $12 per year within
Canada, $17 to an address outside the country,
Mail your cheque to: The B.C. Historical News,Subscription Secretary,
6985 Canada Way, Burnaby, BC V5E 3R6
New Denver Piper
The following article is taken from a clipping in one of the scrap-
books of Bill Burns, Pipe-Major of the Trail Pipe Band from 1946 to
1973. The article, entitled "Many Distinguished Visitors Saw the Slocan
in 1890s", appeared in the Nelson Daily News, of Jan. 24, 1968.
In a portion of this article, the antics of an anonymous piper were
"But a visitor on the humorous side also paid the village a visit in the
middle of August 1897. The story goes as this:
It was thought on that Friday evenings that the siren had been put
back on the steamer, Slocan, but, it turned out that a Scotch piper with
his bags was blown into town. The piper was located at the Windsor
and when the sound of his instrument floated out on the moonlight, it
had a wonderfull effect on the peace of New Denver. An Irish woman
living in a tent on the lake side sat on the ground and told her beads,
and crossed herself in fear that every flickering shadow on her canvas
wall was a banshee. A Kansas man caught up all his babies, and crept
under his home with them, labouring under the idea that a cyclone was
coming. Men setting in front of the hotels enjoying the soft moonlight
evening rushed up to the bar and said again and again "same". Even the
animals were affected. The horses rushed about wildly, the mules rolled
in the dust and brayed loudly, the roosters crowed in the pious dread
that St. Peter had unlocked the door of the nether regions, and nearly
every dog in town sat on his stern in the middle of the streets and solemnly sang to the moon.
There was only one dog that walked on his toes and sniffed the screech-
laden air without fear. He was of Scottish descent and was suckled on
such noisesome wind. He curled his long tail with such glee that his
hind legs would not touch the ground, and his caudal appendage now
resembled that of a pig. His master was also affected. He walked with
bared head thrown far back, gazing into the fleecy clouds, and shaking
his tawny hair like one of Sir Walter's heroes.
It was indeed a fearsome night to all except these two, and the attendance at church that Sunday was unusually large."
New Denver, now a tiny community in the Slocan Valley, was during
the 1890s a bustling town, prospering through the discovery and mining
of silver. Reprinted with permission from the book Pioneer Pipers of British Columbia by Carl Ian Walker of Squamish, B.C.
Dr. Margaret Ormsby
1909- 1996
The author of British Columbia:
A History passed away at her
home in Coldstream on November 2, 1996. Ormsby was a professor of history at UBC for thirty
years, chair of the department
from 1965-75. She guided many
students through graduate studies in history, including John
Bovey, head of BC Archives and
Records Service, and Robin Fisher,
a dean at the University of Northern BC. Ormsby was president of
the B.C. Historical and the Canadian Historical Associations,
served on the Historic Sites and
Monuments of Board of Canada
and encouraged the preservation
of B.C. and Canadian history. She
was awared the Order of B.C. and
the Order of Canada recently.
A group of doctoral students
have been working since 1993 to
establish a scholarship named for
this inspiring teacher. Contributions to the Margaret Ormsby
Fund will receive tax deductable
receipts. Please send your donation to : Margaret Ormsby Fund,
1454 Begbie Street, Victoria, B.C.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 Another Atlin Adventure
by Hon. James Harvey, Q.C.
I have added the word "another" because in Volume 26 No. 4 of this journal
I wrote about a trip I made to Atlin in
the fall of 1936. Three years later, in early
September 1939,1 was due in Atlin for
the trial of an action in which I acted for
one of the parties. This conflicted with
my duty as a member of the Canadian
Non-Permanent Militia (sometimes
called Saturday Night Soldiers) as we had
been called up for active service on August 26,1939. This was about two weeks
before Canada, following Great Britain,
declared war against Germany, and more
than two years before Germany declared
war against the United States shordy after Pearl Harbour.
My Commanding Officer refused to
let me go to Adin for the trial and, reluc-
tandy, I had to ask my partner Thomas
W. Brown (T.W.) to take my place. We
both knew the likelihood of his having a
bad attack of asthma there. This usually
happened to him when he left the coast
and travelled inland. Nevertheless, he
agreed to go.
W.O. Fulton of Prince Rupert was on
the other side of the law suit and His
Honour Judge WE. Fisher, also of Prince
Rupert, was the judge exercising his special Mining Jurisdiction.
The following is T.W. s account in a
letter dated September 18, 1939 to his
brother, Bruce, and Bruce's wife Shirley:
a copy was sent to T.W.'s parents.
"I arrived home from Adin on the afternoon of Saturday, the 16th ...
Jim is right out of the office now and
so long as the War lasts will not be able
to come back as he is on full time duty.
At the present time I am confronted with
an enormous amount of piled up work
as I have to take over everything of Jim's
in addition to catching up on my own
work after my absence . . .
I left here on Friday morning the 1st.
of September and arrived in Skagway,
Thomas W.Brown "T.W."
Alaska, on Sunday morning the 3rd.
From there I went in to Adin by the usual
route, that is, the White Pass & Yukon
Narrow Gauge Railway to Carcross, Yukon Territory, and from Carcross to Adin
by plane. It used to be possible to get
into Adin by a boat service running from
Carcross down Lake Tagish. You then
crossed on a railroad two miles along a
strip of land between Tagish Lake and
Atlin Lake and into the boat on Atlin
Lake from that neck of land to Adin. The
White Pass and Yukon Railroad got into
a bitter feud with the settlement of Adin
about two years ago and withdrew that
service. The feud arose because the Atlin
people asked for and got a Customs Officer stationed there. The purpose ofthe
Customs Officer was to enable planes to
fly in from Juneau direct. Those planes
were bringing in freight and passengers
much more cheaply than could be done
on the White Pass combined train and
boat haul.
We had a rather rough plane trip in.
The people at Adin said that it was the
windiest day they had ever known.
Anyway we had to land at a lake about
12 miles away as the waves on Lake Adin
were running between twelve and fifteen
feet high. I had a lovely dinner at the
Government Agent's house, but was
wheezing pretty badly before I went to
bed at 10 that night. I slept till four the
next morning and then was in the middle of a real asthmatic attack.
I spent all day Monday taking evidence
of my various witnesses and then on
Monday night started having to take
adrenalin by muscular injection. I had
taken ephedrine orally all day Monday,
but by Monday night the congestion was
so acute it did no more good and from
then on I had to have adrenalin every
few hours. Instead of the old adrenalin
chloride I had a new form of adrenalin
oil with me. The adrenalin chloride
never gave me relief for more than an
hour, and sometimes the adrenalin oil
solution which I had gave me as much
as five hours' freedom from extreme
The case ended Thursday noon with a
complete win for my side. I asked for
and got a non-suit. That means that we
had the Plaintiffs action dismissed after
hearing his own evidence only. The procedure is a little bit dangerous as if there
were an appeal our evidence would not,
of course, be before the court of appeal,
but I was so weak by Thursday that I
thought it well worth while to take that
In the meantime I was being bothered
by other people and did a certain amount
of other business. If I had been well I
could have done a large amount as Fulton
did not seem to make a very strong impression, particularly after losing his case.
I arranged to fly out to Juneau on the
afternoon of Friday, September 8th, and
from there could have got an American
boat which would have got me into
Prince Rupert by about Sunday, the 10th.
For some reason which neither I nor the
other three charterers ofthe plane could
find out the plane did not show up. They
wired us Saturday that they would try to
come then, but in the meantime the
weather had closed in so that it was not
fit to fly.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 I spent Friday night in the Doctor's
house and went to the hospital on Saturday. By this time I was getting morphine as well as adrenalin and was in
pretty bad shape. On Sunday morning
at the hospital the aeroplane agent came
up and said the plane would be in at
noon. I got dressed to go but just about
noon both the Canadian and American
agents came rushing up to the hospital
and said that in view of Canada's declaration of war Canadian planes could not
fly into American territory and vice versa.
I could have flown to Carcross and got
out in a day or two from there by train
to Skagway, but that wouldn't have got
me very far. What I finally did was to
charter a plane from Atlin to Tulsequah
which is on the Canadian side. We had
a beautiful flight across the glaciers which
unfortunately gave Fulton a severe fright.
When we landed on the Taku River at
its junction with its tributary the
Tulsequah, the Customs Officer there
turned out to be a very old friend of
Fulton's. I wanted to go down the river
and cross the boundary on a boat as this
was still permitted even though flying
across the line was prohibited. Fulton,
however, wanted to have a reunion with
his friend Nelson, and so we went up to
the mine: eight miles up the Tulsequah
River and spent the night.
I went into the Mine Hospital immediately and was given the Doctor's own
bed. He had me fairly comfortable by
midnight. As he was giving me a final
shot of morphine and adrenalin he asked
me if I was your brother. His name is
J.J. Gibson and he knows you very well.
I remember of course hearing you speak
often of his family.
He looked after me the whole night
through and would not charge me a
nickel. I am going to send him a book
or something. He, of course wanted to
be remembered most cordially to Shirley
and yourself.
We were supposed to start down the
river at nine the next morning, but did
not start until arrangements had been
made by wireless for a plane from Juneau
to pick us up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on the American side.   We got
down to a very famous and palatial resort known as "Mary Joyce's place" about
six miles up from the mouth ofthe river.
For some reason which we never could
find out the plane did not show up. I
had a very painful night as there was no
Doctor around and I had nothing of any
kind with me left to relieve the spasms
which were very severe. I sat up the
whole night.
In the morning after we gave up hoping for the plane we started in to Juneau
in an ordinary flatbottomed river boat.
About half way in we met Mary Joyce,
the proprietress ofthe resort, and she told
us she would not permit her employee
who was taking us in to go any further
on account of a violent gale which had
raised quite a storm toward Juneau. We
stopped off at a marine power plant and
finally by telephoning got a plane to pick
us up in a sheltered bay. We got into
Juneau about 4 in the afternoon and I
went immediately to the Sisters' Hospital there and stayed there until a quarter
to eight on Friday morning, the 15th,
when I was taken to the C.P.R. boat
which reached here in the late afternoon
ofthe 16th.
I have come home in rather better
shape than usual as I did my convalescing in Juneau instead of doing it at home.
I had hoped that as my last attack in Adin
came in July that I might be safe in September, but apparently there is some
pollen there that I cannot handle at all.
Before I went away I had my mind
made up that I would enlist, but since
my experience in Adin I realize that I
would be completely useless in any military unit where I might have to move
away from the coast. I am carrying on
the office alone at the present time and
am trying to make arrangements to get
smaller quarters as it is impossible for me
to carry the present overhead.
Mary is planning at present on going
south to Vancouver on Thursday night,
the 21st, or perhaps by the train by way
of Jasper on the 20th. I think she will
spend a few days in Vancouver and then
go on up to Penticton. I hope that Florence Anne is still being good and not
putting you to a whole lot of trouble. As
things are here we feel a lot safer with
her away from the coast.
A destroyer came into port a few minutes ago and nobody knows yet whether
it's Canadian, German, American or Russian. The guns defending the port are
still not ready to fire.
The streets are absolutely full of soldiers, but what they could do to defend
the port with their present resources
would be negligible.
I will close now so that this can get off
on the train as it should get to you a lot
sooner than by waiting for the next boat.
Love, Wilfrid"
His reference to Mary is to his wife,
formerly Mary Dowdier, whom he had
married in the mid-1930's. Florence
Anne was their daughter, always thereafter known simply as Anne. He signed
the letter "Wilfrid", his middle name, by
which he was called by his parents but
by no one else I ever knew. His middle
name had been given to him out of respect for Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He was always irritated, particularly by tax
collectors, if the name was spelled
The previous trip to Adin which he
mentions was for a session ofthe County
Court held there on July 19,1939. I remember that he got relief from his
asthma attacks on that trip by accompanying miners to underground shafts and
tunnels. He made many life-long friends
on his many trips to Atlin. Despite his
asthma attacks he loved the place, as have
The author continued as an absent, non-active
member ofthe firm far six years and two months
when he was happy to rejoin the firm as an ac-
tivemember. T.W. wasappointedQ.C in 1950,
became a Judge ofthe Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1956 and died on September
27,1973. Judge Harvey is an active retiree still
living in Prince Rupert.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 NEWS & NOTES
The Gulf Island Historical Society...
held its AGM in September at the Galiano Lodge.
Part of the program was a look back at the 1966
BCHF Conference they had hosted in that building.
In 1966 one of the special guests was Ma Murray
of Lilloet Past president Myrtle Haslam attended
the 1996 event to bring greetings from the BCHF.
Burnaby Historical Society...
is pleased to note that the house and garden of
the late Drs. Blythe and Violet Eagles is now
proclaimed a "heritage site." In June their meeting
took place in the new picnic area, named for the
Eagles, in Deer Lake Park.
Trail Historical Society...
went out to Jack and June Bell's farm near
Fruitvale for their June meeting. Another program
was a slide show by Steve Saprunoff on his visit to
Holland as part of the V.E. Day 50th Anniversary
Cowichan Historical Society...
has found that an annual Summer Fete is a good
fundraiser. The 1995 strawberry tea was held at a
Victorian era house with members in costume. In
1996 an Edwardian theme was followed at another
lovely home with incredible gardens.
The Kootenay Museum and
Historical Society...
celebrated the 100th anniversary of hydro-electric power
with displays of the plant on Cottonwood Falls, and a
booklet on the history of hydro-electric service in Nelson.
The old Forest Service launch Amabilis is being
restored by boat builder Dick Pollard. Do any of our
readers have memories of personnel who ran the
Amabilis? If so, please send them to: The
Archivist, Nelson Museum, 402 Anderson Street,
Nelson, B.C. V1L 3Y3 - Phone: (250) 352-9813.
Chemainus Museum ...
sits beside the parking lot where tour buses
unload their passengers. In the summer of
1995 1012 buses came to Chemainus; in 1996
1230 buses arrived in the May to October
season. The little museum saw 10,000 visitors
in 1995 and 12,000 this (1996) summer. Also
many students are using archival material
extensively at the Chemainus Valley Museum.
Victoria Historical Society...
meets at the James Bay New Horizons Centre
at 7:45 pm every 4th Thursday except in
December, July and August. They have had
some outstanding speakers on topics ranging
from Underwater Archaeology (wrecks near
south Vancouver Island), to the black Americans who came to B.C. 1858-1860 at the
invitation of Governor James Douglas.
Boundary Historical Society...
has obtained Heritage Protection on the Trixie
Mineral Claim site to preserve two intact rock
ovens plus five partially collapsed ovens. The
members are busy preparing for both the
Grand Forks Centennial and Greenwood's
100th Anniversary.
Vancouver Historical Society...
meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month
(except June, July, August and December) in
the Jewish Community Centre on 41 st Avenue
at Oak Street. This venue has excellent service
by city buses so visitors are invited to join
audiences hearing interesting speakers. For
details phone the new Historical Hotline at
The East Kootenay Historical
is pleased to note that the gold-rush site of
Fisherville on Wild Horse Creek is now a
preserve managed by Fort Steele Heritage
Town. Some work was done during the
summer to upgrade the loop trail, set up picnic
tables and park type toilets.
Stan McKinnon 1919-1996,
A founding member of Surrey Historical Society
passed away on October 19,1996. He was born in
Mission but grew up in Cloverdale. He worked for
the Surrey Leader for 48 years, most of those years
as editor. He entered civic politics on retirement
and served on the Surrey Council from 1986 to
1990. This newspaper editor who worked to
preserve local history was buried from the
Cloverdale church where he had been baptized
as an infant
Bosun Ranch 100 Year Status
Joseph Colebrook Harris began this ranch near
New Denver in 1896. He grew fruit and
vegetables to sell to nearby mines at Sandon
and Silverton, plus cutting hay for pack animals
working in the area. A British Navy officer who
had jumped ship in Vancouver worked with
young Harris for the first three years. Known
only as "Bosun" the ex-sailor chose to remain
anonymous to avoid punishment. Harris
married a Scottish lady who travelled with Mrs.
Harper of Harper's Bazaar. The couple raised
four children on the farm, one being Sandy,
father of the present owner Nancy Anderson.
Professor Cole Harris also grew up there. Only
66 farms in B.C. have achieved heritage status
when the same family works the land for a full
National Award for Charles Hou
Charles Hou, who has taught at Burnaby South
Secondary School for 31 years, has been
chosen the first winner of the new Excellence
in Teaching Canadian History Award sponsored
by Canada's National History Society. Mr. Hou
guided many of his students on hikes through
the Douglas/Harrison Lake Trail to give them a
feel of B.C. history as they walk the route that
many gold seekers walked when B.C. was a
brand new colony. Mr. Hou received a medal
and $5000 for himself and a computer for his
school. We extend heartiest congratulations to
Mr. Hou.
Ted Palmer of Cariboo Hill Secondary in
Burnaby was a semi-finalist, too.
Burnaby Historical
Scholarship Winner
Eva St Jean of Nanaimo was named winner of
the Burnaby Historical Society's Scholarship for
1996. Mrs. St. Jean was born and grew up in
northern Sweden. After high school she went
to work in Stockholm where she met a
Canadian representative of a B.C. engineering
firm selling logging machinery. She moved to
Vancouver and married Gerard St. Jean (born
in Yukon of Quebec parents) in 1977. The
couple have two teenaged children. Eva is
currently in her 4th year studies at Malaspina
College. One of her essays for History 211 has
been written and appears in this issue of our
Eva St. Jean
Burnaby Historical
Scholarship Winner
Malaspina Murals Saved
The old Malaspina Hotel in Nanaimo was
slated to be gutted before renovation. Removal
of a false wall revealed a mural intact on an
inner wall. This, thanks to the efforts of the
Nanaimo Historical Society has been carefully
removed. Four other murals, painted in 1938,
were revealed under a layer of paint. These,
too, have been removed and conservation/
restoration will proceed as soon as funding can
be arranged.
The mural protected by the wall is by artist
Edward J. Hughes who grew up in Nanaimo,
then participated in WWII as an artist on
Canadian War Records. He still lives on
Vancouver Island and is consulting with the
BC Historical Federation
Scholarship Winner
Nick Klassen of Fort Langley completed his
third year at UBC when he was selected winner
ofthe 1996 BCHF Scholarship. He has taken
courses at UBC, Trinity Western University, an
International Summer Program in Cote d'lvoire
and is currently attending Goshen College in
Indiana where his grandfather is professor
emeritus. Klassen's winning essay is on the
history of the West Coast Trail. (This will appear
in the next issue)
Wedding Bells
Our Member at Large, Wayne Desrochers has
been a happy bachelor for many years. On
October 5,1996 he became an even happier
bridegroom when he wed Stephanie, another
volunteer at his home church in Surrey.
Congratulations and Best Wishes from all of us
in the BCHF.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 BOOKSHELF
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the Book Review Editor:
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S1E4
Making Vancouver, Class, Status, and
Social Boundaries, 1863-1913. Robert A. J.
McDonald. Vancouver, University of British
Columbia Press, 1996. 316 p. $49.50
Between 1863 and 1913, the fifty years studied in detail by Robert A.J. McDonald, Vancouver evolved from sawmill settlements on Burrard
Inlet into one of Canada's largest cities. Especially during the quarter-century bracketed by the
arrival of the Canadian Padhc Railway in 1886
and the onset of a period of hard times in 1913,
Vancouver's rapid growth occasionally contributed to heightened social tensions and political
unrest McDonald, who teaches in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia, writes a social history of Vancouver during
those hyperactive years.
Making Vancouver combines broad-gauged
social analysis with the biographies of individuals
prominent in various segments of Vancouver society. This is good strategy because the biographical vignettes (and the wonderful photographs of
everyday life) add a bit of effervescence to what
might otherwise be dull, industrial-strength analysis of class and status in early Vancouver. The
main contribution of Making Vancouver lies in
its careful delineation of societal bonds and Assures. "Throughout the early history of settlement on Burrard Inlet Europeans organized their
economic activity according to a capitalist mode
of production, and the resulting wage system divided residents along class lines." (p. 230) Yet as
McDonald makes clear, he is not analyzing class
relationships alone because classes themselves
would sometimes fracture or coalesce along racial and ethnic lines. For that reason, he feels it is
necessary to delineate matters of status as well as
class to capture fully the complexity of Vancouver's early social history, noting that "identities
were not fixed economic relations but rather reflected a host of influences, of which the system
of production was only one." (p. 234)
Making deft use of statistics and a wealth of
historical research based on primary and secondary sources, McDonald provides readers of Making Vancouver with a detailed picture of the city's
social history. Yet at times the result is somewhat
like an autopsy: the reader sees clearly the various parts of society and how they fit together,
but somehow the full personality of the subject is
missing. In the case of Making Vancouver that
sometimes intangible yet exciting quality that
might be called city life or municipal character
seems missing or at least muted. Despite our
heightened understanding of the social evolution
of young Vancouver, we really don't see many
comparisons with Winnipeg or Toronto, or with
Seattle or Portland that might reveal what the evolution of \foncouver had in common with these
other metropolitan areas or what was truly unique
about Vancouver. McDonald argues that "Vancouver stands apart from many other North
American cities of the period in the degree to
which it retained elements of its 'frontier' past"
(p. xii).  Yet here a comparison with Seattle or
Denver, which like Vancouver were home to
many seasonal workers employed in nearby natural-resource based industries, might have been
appropriate Basically, Making Vancouver provides the social statistics and analysis that bolsters the long-standing argument that \foncouver
experienced the same kinds of social tension
found in small natural-resource-based communities, though McDonald's careful research also
shows that class lines in Vancouver were more
mutable or permeable than they were fixed or
impervious to change.
Making Vancouver is a solid piece of historical research and writing that asks and answers
the fundamental questions necessary to understand the social evolution of young Vancouver.
Given its highly analytical approach and its willingness to study subtle aspects of the city's social
history it is far more likely to appeal to academics
- historians and other students of urban history
- than to the general reader; but this book will
now serve as the standard against which to measure any serious history of Vancouver. A bibliography and a detailed index enhance its value as a
research tooL
Carlos A. Schwantes.
Department of History, University of Idaho.
The Interwoven Lives of George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies, Joseph Whidbey
and Peter Puget: Exploring the Pacific
Northwest Coast John M. Naish. The Edwin
Mellen Press, Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter.
Canadian Studies Volume 17, 537 p., illus.
Cloth, Can. $119.50 (Edward Mellen Press,
P.O. Box 450, Lewiston, NY 14092-0450)
So often in our written history, the emphasis
has been on events and places, and we learn little about the actual people involved. As a true
"people person", Dr. John Naish changes this
thrust and brings a refreshing insight into the nature of three of the men associated with George
Vancouver and whose names grace the charts of
the Pacific Northwest
This is primarily a book about people and anyone interested in studying the motivations of men
at work will not be disappointed. The lives of
four very distinctly different personalities are examined in detail and one is left to wonder how
things would have been changed had the lives of
George Vancouver and Joseph Whidbey been
influenced by a woman's touch. The lives of
Archibald Menzies and Peter Puget were obviously enhanced by the love and affection of their
wives, and in Puget's case, by his large family.
In about 300 pages of his work, Dr. Naish has
managed to present the essence of Vancouver's
life and voyage, with an emphasis on a possible
understanding of what it was that drove the little
commander and how this affected his relationships with his men and ultimately sealed his fate.
The author, as a retired internist gives many interesting sidelights, in a clinical manner, on Vancouver's behaviour and while the author of this
review may not agree with all of his conclusions,
his remarks bear further serious study. Nevertheless, in this work Dr. Naish has given us one
of the fairest evaluations of Vancouver's personality, devoid of any of the purple prose inflicted
by other writers using only their imaginations to
form an opinion. The question of what illness
caused Vancouver's's ultimate demise is examined closely and from the evidence uncovered,
Dr. Naish has concluded that Nephritis was the
most likely cause of an untimely death.
Of our quartet of characters, Archibald Menzies
had a brief naval service, but lived the most fruitful and longest life. Dr. Nash has collected much
interesting detail of Menzies' early life and service with Vancouver, in addition to his life-long
association with Sir Joseph Banks. Menzies' naval service was as surgeon, but his true love was
botany and it was in that capacity that he was
ordered to serve with \foncouver. Unfortunately,
Vancouver was not too keen on botanists and
their paraphernalia that cluttered up his ship and
what might have been a rewarding association
for both never developed. However, one gets
the sense that they respected each other for the
job each was doing. Dr. Naish relates many interesting episodes during the time Menzies spent
with Vancouver, including the climbing of Hualalai
and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Menzies' special interest was with the ferns, mossess, liverworts, lichens and the genus Fucus, and he was
considered one of Britain's foremost authorities.
In time, he developed an active medical practice,
married most happily, but never had a family of
his own. He died in 1842 at the age of 88 and is
buried next to his wife in All Souls Cemetery,
Kensal Green. There is a special warmth to what
Dr. Naish has written on Menzies, possibly from
sharing the same profession, and his treatment
of Menzies' life story is complete with many references to the activities of his fellow botanists who
were the founders of the Linnean Society.
Joseph Whidbey began his early life in the service of the Navy, but is better remembered by
members of the engineering fraternity for his
monumental work on the construction of the
Breakwater at Plymouth. He made the transition from the Royal Navy to civilian life, thanks in
large part to the recommendation of Vancouver
who proposed his employment as a Naval Attendant It was in this capacity at Sheerness that
Whidbey supervised the salvage of the Dutch frigate Ambuscade, which had sunk in 30 feet of
water off the Nore Bank. Whidbey had maintained a close contact with Sir Joseph Banks and
later came to the attention of John Rennie, a
prominent engineer who learned of Whidbey's
proposal for an artificial harbour for Torbay
through the building of a detached island to provide a safe anchorage. In time a similar suggestion was proposed as a solution for an identical
problem at Plymouth, and Whidbey and Rennie
collaborated on the final design, with Whidbey
being named superintendent of the project in
1811. Over 2,000,000 tons of quarried stone
was used for the man structure, utilizing special
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 BOOKSHELF
boats of Whidbey's design to move the massive
stones into place. Whidbey never married and
retired in 1830 at the age of 75. He died three
years later while living at Taunton. Whidbey's
story is one of man's challenging the forces of
nature and Dr. Naish gives a lively portrayal of
the man and the problems that he faced and
overcame, together with much interesting detail,
not only of the breakwater project itself, but also
of the many people, at various levels of government involved with its construction.
Peter's Puget's association with Menzies and
Whidbey was limited to the period of time he
served with Vancouver. After the completion of
the great voyage and Vancouver's death, there is
nothing in the record to show that Puget maintained any further contact with his sailing companions. Puget's life and interests were entirely
with the Navy and his promotions were due in
the main to an active involvement with combined
operations of land and naval forces that brought
his talents to the attention of his superiors. He
had varied naval career which concluded with
his appointment as Commissioner of the Navy at
Madras and later at Trincomalee. His successor
was to have been James Johnstone, with whom
he had served with Vancouver, but ill-health
forced a change in plan and both men returned
together from India. Puget had married and fathered 11 children and had enjoyed a most happy
family life. This was enhanced by a close contact
kept with Joseph Baker, his fellow officer from
the Discovery, with each naming one of their
sons after the other. Puget died in 1822 with the
rank of Rear Admiral and is buried at All Saint's
Church, in the tiny Somerset village of Woolley,
near Bath.
Dr. Naish has presented a most readable story
of the lives of four men who, in their own quiet
way, have left their mark on our land and who
are worthy of our approbation. Unfortunately,
the first edition of The Interwoven Lives ... has
an excessive number of typos and other gremlin-induced errors which will be corrected in a
second edition. The cost is rather prohibitive for
the average reader, but a copy is held at the Victoria Public Library and can be obtained through
an Inter-Library Loan.
J.E. Roberts.
Ted Roberts, a resident of Victoria is
an enthusiastic student of Pacific
Northwest exploration.
Pay Dirt. Laura Langston. Victoria, Orca
Book Publishers, 1995. 144 p., ills., paper
Tides of Change. Sheryl McFarlane & Ken
Campbell. Victoria, Orca Book Publishers,
1995. 32 p., illus., paper $15.95
Orca book publishers has published two books
recently on British Columbia themes for the juvenile trade.
Pay Dirt, written by Laura Langston and illustrated by Stuart Duncan, appears to be a decided
success. Aimed at elementary school readers, it
provides an entertaining account of the nineteenth
century quest for gold in British Columbia. The
text is clear and unadorned, with short sentences
conducive to readability at about the Grade five
level. The print is large and clear. Each page has
been carefully designed, with a variety of format
to hold reader interest The use of "windows" in
which additional information is given makes it
possible for a reader to select items of particular
interest The book is generously illustrated not
only with old photographs but also with hand
drawn maps and pictures, the dated style of which
suits the subject and complements the photographs. The reader will find a good mix of detail
on prospecting, mining and transporting gold and
of yarns from the gold rush days. The work
should prove to be an excellent resource, reference or text-book for elementary school Social
Studies courses.
Tides of Change, text by Sheryl McFarlane
and illustrations by Ken Campbell, purports to
offer a child's eye view of the world of the Northwest Coast Much of the very brief text consists
of rhetorical questions, some of which are evocative while others are ambiguous. The book is
formatted as a picture book, directed presumably
to the pre-school level. Each picture deals with
some aspect of coastal life, but both the pictures
and the related text are much too advanced for a
small child's perception. Most pages consist of
questions, the answers to which one assumes
should be found in a contiguous illustration. One
searches vainly, however, in the illustrations or in
a "Tidbits I discovered" appendix at the back of
the book for clues to some of the questions posed.
To what age group are the illustrations supposed
to appeal? Many of the objects in the illustrations are not those which a small child can identify, nor does the text in many cases indicate
where such objects can be found. Some illustrations may appear gaudy and lifeless to any age
group, while the meagre background information
in the text will hardly satisfy the appetite of young
readers. The cover design, illustrating a child
poking a stick at a living sea creature is offensive.
The editorial smarts manifest in the production
of Pay Dirt appear to be lacking in Tides of
PatAjello is a retired elementary school
teacher who served as an art specialist and
learning assistance centre instructor.
John Tod: Rebel in the Ranks. Robert C.
Belyk. Victoria, Horsdal and Schubart, 1995
240 p., $14.95.
One of the problems in preparing a biography
of someone long dead is finding reliable information on the subject Belyk starts off in the preface
by stating that a lot of the previously published
information about Tod was "ambiguous and contradictory" and that "pioneer societies were not
the best guardians of their history." All of this
made Befyk's work doubly difficult
John Tod was born in October 1794 in Scotland. He was the eldest of nine children in a
religious middle class family. On June 26, 1811
he sailed for York Factory on Hudson Bay, finally reaching his destination on September 24th.
He had signed on as an apprentice clerk to Lord
Selkirk's agricultural society on the Red River;
however, due to their late arrival they were forced
to spend the winter and work at various Farts on
Hudson Bay. He ended up serving his apprenticeship with the Hudson's Bay Company and
was eventually put in charge of various Forts near
and around Hudson Bay. In 1820, the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company consolidated, and by 1823 over two
hundred employees had been laid off because
of over-staffing. Tod was fortunate to have retained his job but after a disagreement with Governor George Simpson he was sent to New
Caledonia. He left behind his 'country wife' and
five year old son and after a long and arduous
trip, he finally arrived at rbrt McLeod. He managed the R)rt well and turned a profit but because of Simpson's dislike for him, there was little
chance for promotion. Finally though, in the
spring of 1834, he was promoted to Chief Trader.
From his arrival in Canada in 1811 his retirement to Victoria in 1850, his life and that of all
others working for the Company was very difficult and often times life threatening, considering
the modes of transportation, forms of housing,
and remoteness of the locations of the Forts. As
in Tod's case, if the Committee or Governor
Simpson didn't like you, you were destined to
the furthest outposts with little chance for promotion.
Even after retirement, life in frontier British
Columbia was not easy, but Tod did survive and
he was the last of his generation of fur trade officers, dying on August 31,1882. Tod Inlet on the
west side of the Saanich Peninsula near Victoria
and Tod Mountain, a rugged peak near
Kamloops, commemorate this tough old fur
trader. Belyk ends his book by saying "It is not
difficult to imagine it (Tod Mountain) as the embodiment of the old trader himself, standing a
little apart from his comrades and looking ever
northward toward that inhospitable stepmother,
New Caledonia."
The entire book gives an interesting insight into
life in early Canada and especiaUy British Columbia in the first half of the 19th century - something that is not always truly written about Belyk's
bibliography is extensive and he has done his
research weD. The book is well organized and
written and has pictures and maps nicely dispersed throughout
To end, the following quote from the back cover
sums it up: "This definitive biography presents
the picture of an unusual man in an exciting era."
Robert W. Allen.
Robert Allen is a Professional Land Surveyor living in Sechelt, B.C. and is Chairman
of the Historical and Biographical Committee
of the Corporation of Land Surveyors of the
Province of British Columbia.
Pilgrims In Lotus Land; Conservative
Protestantism in British Columbia 1917-
1981. Robert K. Burkinshaw. McGill-Queen's
University Press, 1995. 353 p., map. $44.95.
Unlike European settlers elsewhere in the
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 BOOKSHELF
Americas, few immigrants to British Columbia
have been inspired by either missionary zeal or
the need to flee religious persecution. In this most
secular of the provinces, fewer and fewer people
even pretend to belong to any denomination.
Robert Burkinshaw identifies a major exception
to this general slippage, in the continuing growth
and diversity of conservative Protestant groups.
The history of these groups provides insights into
the demography of Vancouver and the Lower
Mainland in particular, and into the political evolution of the province as a whole.
"Conservative Protestant" in not quite synonymous with "fundamentalist", but in Burkinshaw's
words, "highlights the desire to conserve traditional doctrines and strong evangelist thrust but
not necessarily with a high degree of militancy
and separatism." His definition can thus include
conservatives within mainline Protestant denominations (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian,
United), all those concerned in 1917 and later
that the authority of the Bible was being trampled in the rush to go along with modernism and
the spirit of the age. Necessarily, as he investigates the period after 1920, his focus is on Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Pentecostals,
Mennonites, charismatics, and the myriad sects
and chapels whose zeal for personal evangelism
has made them the major Christian presence in
British Columbia. Zeal for "church-planting",
reinforced by immigration from the Prairie Provinces and Europe, significantly affected the population of the lower Fraser \folley and many regions
of the interior. Conservative theology and evangelism were accompanied by a suspicion of a
"social gospel" which increasingly permeated the
mainline churches with the implications that "social transformation could be achieved by human
effort apart from the conversion of the individual."
After World War 11, this suspicion dovetailed with
the Cold War suspicion of socialism to strengthen
the ranks of the Social Credit party. Burkinshaw's
dispassionate account does much to illuminate
the process.
This is a scholarly book Robert Burkinshaw
is chair and associate professor of history and
political science at Trinity Western University, and
in his own work offers proof of that institution's
claim to a high standard of academic excellence.
His presentation of facts and erudite analysis is
backed by fifty pages of notes and bibliography.
He seldom reveals personal bias, except in his
possibly ironic use of the word "respectable"
when referring to mainline denominations and
colleges. For the most part, he writes about
groups and institutions rather than individuals.
When he does discuss personalities, he refrains
from character sketches or gossipy biographies,
coming closest in his sympathetic treatment of
the Rev. Walter Ellis and his somewhat bemused
description of the "effervescent" Phil Gaglardi,
whose evangelistic fervour propelled him into the
Socred cabinet
One does find, as happens in all good history
books, old facts from a new perspective. We
learn, for instance, that the 1949 fall of the Chiang
Kai-shek regime in China necessitated the clos
ing of the China Inland Mission in Vancouver and
thereby caused the decline of the formerly flourishing Vancouver Bible Training SchooL
So, is this book only for students and researchers? 1 don't think so.
My first encounter with Pilgrims in Lotus Land
occurred at a conference of worried "mainline"
Christians. The speaker knocked the socks off
his audience by quoting Professor Burkinshaw's
eloquent statistics. Protests and schism in defence of one's beliefs may be signs of Hfe, and
splinter groups may promote growth: a subversive and not entirely "respectable" message in a
postmodern era.
Phyllis Reeve.
Phyllis Reeve is the author of Every
Good Gift: a history of S. James
Vancouver, 1881-1981.
Women of the Klondike. Frances
Backhouse. North Vancouver, Whitecap
Books, 1995. 212 p., iUus., paper, $16.95.
The book, describing women's part in the
Klondike Rush, is a deceptively easy read. A second reading brings the realization that this is not
from lack of content but rather from the writer's
skill in focusing on her subject and in combining
many women's stories into a composite portrayal,
lt may be unusual for a review but a list of the
chapter headings shows how this has been
1. First Women ofthe Klondike: The Kate
Carmack story and the Klondike
Discovery of 16 August 1896.
2. Women on the Gold Rush Trail: Women's
experiences on the various routes to the
3. Loyal Wives and Hopeful Spinsters: Mainly
women who accompanied their husbands
to the north.
4. Ministering to the Wants of Helpless
Masculinity: The entrepreneurs:
seamstresses, dressmakers, restaurant
and hotel owners and laundry operators.
5. Come and do a Shuffle with me, Sam:
The entertainers, dance hall girls and
6. Hunting for Souls in the Gold Fields:
The nuns and missionaries.
7. The New Women in the North: The
nurses, doctors and journalists.
8. With Shovel and Gold Pan: The women
involved in mining both as owners and
9. "Doing the Klondike" The tourists.
10. Woman holds the Field: More women
arrive and by 1900 Dawson is no longer
a male-dominated frontier boom town.
The Klondike, discovered at a time of great
economic uncertainty, brought on a gold fever
bordering on mass hysteria that infected both men
and women throughout the world. Some taking
part in the rush may well have looked back in
their later years and wondered what led them to
follow an impossible dream. Each person's experience was different and now one hundred
years later it seems pointless to attempt a broad
analysis. However, the composite portrayed developed in this excellent book gives a glimpse of
the many and varied parts women played in those
exciting years.
Lewis Green.
Green is a member of the
Vancouver Historical Society.
Readers - Do you know a student who
use this information?
Please share the following guidelines:
The British Columbia Historical
Federation awards a $500.00 scholarship
annually to a student completing the third
or fourth year at a British Columbia
college or university.
To apply for the scholarship, candidates must
1. Letter of application.
2. An essay of 1500 - 3000 words on
a topic relating to the history of
British Columbia.
The essay must be suitable for
The winning essay will be
published in the B.C. Historical
3. A professor's letter of
Applications should be submitted before May
15,1997 to:
Frances Gundry - 255 Niagara Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V1G4
(250) 387-3623 (work)
(250) 385-6353 (home)
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1996-97 THE BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORICAL FEDERATION - Organized October 31,1922
His Honour, the Honorable Garde B. Gardom Q.C.
J. Len Nicholls
#103 - 550 Blue Girl Way, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 5T6
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Recording Secretary
Members at Large
Past President
Alice Glanville
Ron Welwood
Marjorie Leffler
T. Don Sale
R. George Thomson
Doris J. May
Wayne Desrochers
Melva Dwyer
Myrtle Haslam
Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. VOH 1H0
Fax (250) 442-3265
RR #1, S22 C1, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5P4
(250) 442-3865
(250) 825-4743
516 Willow St, Parksville, B.C. V9P 1A4 (250) 248-3431
262 Juniper St, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 1X4 (250) 753-2067
#19,141 East 5th Ave., Qualicum Beach, B.C. V9K 1N5 (250) 752-8861
2943 Shelbourne St, Victoria, B.C. V8R 4M7 (250) 595-0236
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2976 McBride St, Surrey, B.C. V4A 3G6
(604) 599-4206
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Box 20,1875 Wessex Rd., Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1 NO    (250) 748-8397
B.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
Book Review Editor
Membership Secretary
Subscription Secretary
Historical Trails
and Markers
Publications Assistance
(not involved with
B.C. Historical News)
Writing Competition
(Lieutenant Governor's
Margaret Stoneberg
Tony Farr
Anne Yandle
Naomi Miller
Nancy Peter
Margaret Matovich
John Spittle
Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
(250) 295-3362
125 Castle Cross Rd, Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2G1      (250) 537-1123
3450 West 20th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
#7 - 5400 Patterson Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 2M5
6985 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C.V5E 3R6
(604) 733-6484
(250) 422-3594
(604) 522-5049
1241 Mount Crown Rd, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9     (604) 988-4565
Nancy Stuart-Stubbs 2651 York Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6K 1E6 (604)738-5132
Contact Nancy for advice and details to apply for a loan toward the cost of publishing.
Scholarship Committee        Frances Gundry
Pixie McGeachie
255 Niagara Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1G4
7953 Rosewood St, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 2H4
(250) 385-6353
(604) 522-2062
(NOTE: Area code prefixes are effective from October 19,1996 onward). The British Columbia Historical News
P.O. Box 5254, Stn. B
Victoria, B.C. V8R 6N4
Publications Mail
Registration No. 4447
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions of books for the fourteenth annual Competition for Writers of B.C. History.
Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1996, 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 orpictures, turn-a-story into "history/'
The judges are looking for quality presentations, especially if fresh material is included, with appropriate
illustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate index, table of contents and bibliography, from first-time writers as well as established authors.
NOTE: Reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
The Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded to an individual writer whose
book contributes significantly to the recorded history of British Columbia. Other awards will be made as
recommended by the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
All entries receive considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award
and an invitation to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Nelson in May 1997.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in 1996 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property ofthe B.C. Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone number of sender,
the selling price of all editions of the book, and the address from which it may be purchased, if the reader has
to shop by mail. If by mail, please include shipping and handling costs if applicable.
SEND TO: B.C. Historical Writing Competition
c/o P. McGeachie
7953 Rosewood Street, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 2H4
DEADLINE:      December 31,1996.
There is also an award for the Best Article published each year in the B.C. Historical News magazine.
This is directed to amateur historians or students. Articles should be no more than 3,000 words, typed double
spaced, accompanied by photographs if available, and substantiated with footnotes where applicable. (Photographs should be accompanied with information re: the source, permission to publish, archival number if
applicable, and a brief caption. Photos will be returned to the writer.)
Please send articles directly to: The Editor, B.C. Historical News, P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0


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