British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1983

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 iruul Archive* at B.C. pdp 2892 On the cover ...
Sarah Crease
Interior views of Fort Victoria are rare. The use of colour in this sketch provides additional information
than is evident from contemporary photographs. On the reverse of Sarah's sketches are found
identifications and commentaries. She labelled all prominent features including buildings,
mountains, roads and people. In this particular instance she recorded the function and history of each
building, the height of the flagstaff and belfry, recounted the practise of hoisting the company flag on
Sundays and holidays and described the appearance, height and botanical features of the hills in the
... story starts on page six.
Member societies and their secretaries are responsible for keeping their addresses up-to-date. Please enclose
a telephone number for an officer if possible also.
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111. Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
BCHA — Gulf Islands Branch, c/o P.O. Box 35, Saturna Island, B.C. VON 2Y0
BCHA — Victoria Branch, c/o Margaret Bell, 1187 Hampshire, Victoria, B.C. V8S 4T1
Burnaby Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Evelyn Salisbury, 5406 Manor St., Burnaby, B.C. V5G 1B7
Campbell River & District Museums & Archives Society, 1235 Island Highway, Campbell River, B.C. V9W 2C7
Chemainus Valley Historical Association, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
Creston & District Historical & Museum Society, c/o Margaret Moore, Box 253, Creston, B.C. VOB 1G0
District 69 Historical Society, c/o Mildred Kurtz, P.O. Box 74, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2S0
East Kootenay Historical Association, c/o H. Mayberry, 216 6th Avenue S., Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 2H6
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1H0
Ladysmith New Horizons Historical Society, c/o Mrs. V. Cull, R.R. #2, Ladysmith, B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, c/o Susan Turnbull, Box 76, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
Nanaimo Historical Society, P.O. Box 933, Station "A", Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
Nanooa Historical & Museum Society, R.R. #2, Texaco, Box 5, Nanoose Bay, B.C. VOR 2R0
New Denver Historical Society, c/o Janet Amsden, Box 51, New Denver, B.C. VOG 1S0
Nootka Sound Historical Society, Box 748, Gold River, B.C. VOP 1G0
North Shore Historical Society, c/o Robert W. Brown, 2327 Kilmarnock Crescent, North Vancouver, B.C. V7J 2Z3
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Sidney & North Saanich Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Ray Joy, 10719 Bayfield Road, R.R. #3,
Sidney, B.C. V8L 3P9
Silverton Historical Society, c/o P.O. Box 137, Silverton, B.C. VOG 2B0
Societe Historique Franco-Colombienne, 9 E. Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V5T 1V4
Trail Historical Society, P.O. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Vancouver Historial Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
West Vancouver Historical Society, c/o Bernard Holt, P.O. Box 917865, West Vancouver, B.C. V7Z 4S1
Windermere District Historical Society, Boz 1075, Invermere, B.C. VOA 1K0 BRITISH COLUMBIA
Letters to the Editor     4
News of the Association       5
Two Colonial Artists        6
by Kathryn Bridge
Discovery: 1917      14
by Captain Donald B. Macpherson
Chinese at William Head: A Photograph Album  18
by J. Robert Davison
The Main Trail to Chilliwack Lake      21
by R.C. Harris
News and Notes   26
Convention Coverage  26
Reports from the Branches     28
News from the British Columbia Heritage Trust     30
Boss Whistle: the Coal Miners of Vancouver Island Remember by Lynn Bowen
review by Daniel Gallacher      32
Kitimat My Valley by Elizabeth Anderson Varley
review by Maureen Cassidy   33
Second-class mail registration number 4447.
Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Association, P.O. Box 1738, Victoria, V8W
2Y3. Our Charitable Donations number is 0404681-52-27.  Printed by Fotoprint, Victoria, B.C.
Correspondence with editor is to be addressed to 1745 Taylor, Victoria, B.C. V8R 3E8.
Subscriptions: Institutional $15.00 per year. Individual (non-members) $7.00 per year.
The B.C. Historical Association gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the British Columbia Heritage Trust. To the Editor
The Editor:
I enjoyed reading your article on the Alexandra
Suspension Bridge in your Fall 1982 issue.
However, the author failed to mentioned one
interesting point. The 1926 bridge is believed to be
built on the masonry pilings of the original. On the
east bank, the pilings are masonry up to a point,
and then there is twelve feet of cast concrete up to
the bridge deck. This seems to fit his statement
about the newer bridge being twelve feet higher
than the original. In addition, the iron cable
anchors are still visible beneath the present
Perhaps you would have information that could
confirm this for me.
Mel Atkey
Delta, B.C.
The Editor:
The rather hazy photograph on B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS Spring issue's cover recalled my own
somewhat hazy recollection of a visit I made to
Soldier's Point in 1911 - my haziness is caused, at
least in part, by the fact that I was only three years
old at the time.
I was born in Port Essington in 1908 and lived
there until 1921. On June 22,1911 a public holiday
was declared to celebrate the coronation of King
George V and a group of Port Essington residents
decided to observe Coronation Day by having a
picnic at Soldier's Point, located a short distance by
boat up the Ecstall River, which joins the Skeena
just east of the site of Port Essington.
As this picnic took place 23 years after the 1888
incident the militia-men's camp-ground would
have been over-run by new growth and whether
any traces remained I can't say. However, I do
know that the buildings in the photo across the
river were those of Balmoral Cannery, once the
largest on the river, which ceased operations more
than thirty years ago and is now non-existent. It is
regrettable, too, that what remained of the town
of Port Essington was almost entirely destroyed by
fire in 1961.
Enclosed is a snapshot, taken by my mother, of
some of the 1911 picnic participants. I am the child
at the left wearing a straw hat and a fancy white
collar - fortunately I have forgotten I ever had to
wear a collar like that but I do remember the hat.
In the centre is my father, A.G. Harris, who was
(continued on next page)	
Deadline for submissions for the next issue of the
NEWS is September 1,1983. Please type double
spaced if possible. Mail to the Editor, B.C.
Historical News, 1745 Taylor, Victoria, B.C. V8R
Yes, I wish to subscribe to B.C. Historical News. I enclose a cheque or money order payable to the
B.C. Historical Association, P.O. Box 1738, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y3.
Individual     Pour issues for $7.00 (.
Institutional   Four issues for $15.00 (.
Postal Code +
page 4
British Columbia Historical News (continued from page 4)
manager of Cunningham's store, holding my
infant sister. The white-bearded gentleman at the
right is Charles F. Morison, one of the northern
pioneers. He came to B.C. in the 1860's, worked as
a young man on the Collins Overland Telegraph,
and later joined the Hudson's Bay Company and
for a number of years, probably including 1888,
was in charge of the HBC post at Hazelton. In 1911,
however, Mr. Morison was employed by Cunninghams at Port Essington.
E.A. Harris
Vancouver, B.C.
The Editor:
The National Museum of Man is continuing the
project designed to document the experiences of
British Columbian women in the household.
Through the process of interviews we plan to
compile an historical account of women's experiences focusing on the home in the first three
decades of this century (1900-1930). Our interest is
the undocumented day-to-day activities of
maintaining and running a home in B.C.
We are very interested in personal accounts of
women who were students or teachers in home
economics/domestic science classes in the
province. If you could provide us with any
information, we would appreciate hearing from
you. Please write:
Behind the Kitchen Door
c/o Modern History Division
British Columbia Provincial Museum
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, B.C.
or phone 381-2133.
The material will be permanently housed in the
Provincial Archives, and will contribute to our
understanding of women's heritage in this
Kathy Chopik
Kathryn Thomson
Lynn Bueckert
From the Editor
It's Been Fun
It seems only a short time ago that I started
out as editor of the B.C. Historical News. The
two years and eight issues have slipped by
I want to take this opportunity to thank the
British Columbia Historical Association—its
officers, member societies and members—for
the support it has given to me and the publication. Ruth Barnett, chairperson of the News
Policy Committee, has been a rock of support.
All those who have been involved in the
creation of the News also merit our thanks.
Writers, photographers, reporters, proofreaders, typesetters and distributors all did their
part and did it well.
I wish the new editor, Marie Elliott, good
luck and hope that she will enjoy her association with the News as much as I have. Thank you
—Maureen Cassidy
P.S. Please send correspondence and articles to
Marie directly at her home address: 1745
Taylor, Victoria, B.C. V8R3E8.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 5 Kathryn Bridge
In the colonial period, 1848-1871, and
indeed for some years after, sketching was a
popular and common pursuit. It was cultivated
especially by the middle classes as a leisure
activity. Travellers invariably carried a
sketchbook, pencil and watercolours. Both
men and women received artistic training;
although men could pursue art as a career,
women were discouraged.
Colonial British Columbia attracted a wide
variety of people from different walks of life.
Among them were professional illustrators such
as Frederick Whymper, VV.G.R. Hind, E.T.
Coleman and others who recorded the colony,
its inhabitants and events with the express
purpose of making a livelihood. Sketches and
paintings were sold in the colonies and also sent
back to England, accompanied official reports
or were submitted to the publishers of
illustrated papers such as the Illustrated London
News, where the sketches were often used as
the basis for engravings accompanying articles
on British Columbia.
Complementing these professional works
are the more numerous works produced by
amateurs, often exhibiting a high degree of
technical expertise. Because these works were
not sold, they often remained in families,
passed down through the generations. The
Provincial Archives of B.C. is fortunate to hold
some of these collections.
The paintings, drawings and prints
collection of the Visual Records Division of the
Provincial Archives is comprised of over six
thousand works of art which document the
history of the province and the people who
settled it. Of particular interest are the many
items dating from the colonial period, which
often predate the use of photography in the
area, or complement the photographic
evidence by documenting scenes or events not
captured by photographers because of
inaccessibility or technical limitations.
Art works produced by two women, Eleanor
Caroline Fellows and Sarah Crease illustrate the
rich and varied visual documentation of early
British Columbia.
page 6
British Columbia Historical News Eleanor Caroline Fellows
Eleanor Caroline Fellows arrived in Victoria,
January 1862, aboard the steamer Cortez. She had
left England in November after her marriage to
Arthur Fellows, a hardware and commission
merchant, who with his brother Alfred had
previously established a business in Victoria.
Eleanor's perceptions of the colony were
transferred to family and friends in England
through extensive letters, often with enclosed
sketches. Although no letters are extant, she later
utilized them to form the basis of her
These Reminiscences, a lively and often
opinionated account of her life, place special
emphasis on the years spent in the "Far West". Of
particular interest are the accounts of entertainment in the colony, the theatricals and musical
occasions, and character sketches of many
personalities prominent and not so prominent,
which today provide particular insights into the
social sphere of the colony.
The Archives holds a series of twelve pencil
and watercolour sketches obtained from the
artist's daughter. As can be noted in the
illustrations, several of these were meant to
accompany letters home, rather extensive letters
at that!
An examination of a few of these works
illustrates the type of information that can be
obtained by the historian from drawings.
Eleanor Caroline Fellows
SOUTH, 1866
In 1865 the Fellows family moved from their
residence on Birdcage Walk to a former Hudson's
Bay Company cabin known as Thetis Cottage, on
Dyke Point, Esquimalt Harbour. Here was
sufficient room for the growing family which
included a son, twin daughters and an additional
son born in the spring of 1866. This pencil sketch
shows the cottage overlooking the view of the
harbour with the naval establishment on the
opposite shore and the Olympic range in the
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 7 Page 8
British Columbia Historical News Volume 16, No. 4
Page 9 "xxx
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page 10
British Columbia Historical News Sarah Crease
In February 1860, Sarah Crease, with her young
daughters Mary, Susan and Barbara, arrived in
Victoria joining husband Henry who had reached
the colony the previous year and was established
as a barrister. They resided in Victoria for a little
over a year. In 1861, Henry was appointed
Attorney-General of the mainland colony of
British Columbia. The family then moved to New
Westminster where they remained until 1868,
when, after the amalgamation of the colonies,
they returned to Victoria and settled permanently.
A prolific amateur artist, Sarah had always
sketched the landscape and scenes around her. In
1860, she painted a set of twelve watercolours
depicting Victoria which she sent back home to
her father. He later entered them in the 1862
London International Exhibition in Hyde Park as
the work of "a colonial amateur". These sketches,
now in the Provincial Archives are important
documents of early Victoria, recording such views
as the interior of the Fort, vistas of Fort,
Government and Yates Streets, Esquimalt Harbour
and James Bay.
While resident in New Westminster, Sarah
recorded the city in its infancy. On trips
throughout the Fraser Valley and Canyon her
pencil recorded settlement and activities. Precise
notations were added describing the circumstances and details of each sketch.
Sarah Crease
This sketch was used as the basis for an illustration
in R.C. Mayne's Four Years in British Columbia
and Vancouver Island, 1862 and later in an
engraving for the Illustrated London News. In
both instances the artist was not given credit. The
original version was sketched while leaning out
over the street from a second floor window
casement. The solidity of brick and dressed
granite buildings attests to the optimism of the
gold boom while the cluster of ships in the
harbour, people and vehicles on the street give
the impression of bustle and liveliness.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 11 t
7 .      v        X - '* S1
■t M* ?*   ,;L^  -'V       /, / ,  '•    i m
Sarah Crease
September 1862 (above)
Sarah Crease
FORT HOPE, B.C. September, 1862 (below)
While resident in New Westminster, the Creases often visited nearby settlements of Fort Hope and
Fort Yale. These skethcs done "on the spot" provide a different perspective than photographic
images of the time because they have a candid quality—showing people in motion and viewing the
scene from an informal perspective. Again these sketches are titled, labelled, and dated, a real
bonus for historians.
C ,   XV
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Page 12
British Columbia Historical News Volume 16, No. 4
Page 13 Discovery: 1917
The scene in the early spring of 1917 at the
Consolidated Whaling Company wharf just
outside Victoria's Point Ellice bridge - rebuilt and
called the Bay Street Bridge years later - was one of
ever-increasing activity. This bustle increased until
the last of the eight whalers took on equipment
and supplies, had her compass adjusted after the
winter lay-over and her crew signed on by the
shipping master. The boat then left port for
another sixth months on the whaling grounds.
Ten steam whalers once operated out of
Victoria but, by 1917, two of them had been sold
and converted to tug boats. The eight remaining
whalers included the Black, White, Blue, Brown
and Green, called by some newspaper reporters,
with a romantic turn of mind, the "Rainbow
Fleet". These steamed out from Norway where
they were built and all were registered in
Liverpool. The other three were the Orion, the St.
Lawrence and the W. Grant. The last one was
shipped in sections from Norway and assembled
at Victoria Machinery Depot.
Many young Victorians went whaling for one
season only and, as it was seasonal work, they
were out of work over the winter. It is
understandable that they turned to employment
of a more permanent nature.
There would never be more than one or two
green hands signed on one vessel however, and
men with previous experience got the
The whaling company kept a small wharf crew,
under Moses Kiel, busy all winter as vessels were
stripped and all their gear packed ashore to
individual bins in the large rigging loft which had
once been a sail storage loft for Victoria sealers.
They also took ashore the six-inch circumference
manila whaling lines from the two rope lockers of
the vessels, 480 fathoms from each. These would
be dried out, carefully examined and, when
necessary, replaced each spring.
During the winter months "Mosey", as
everyone called him, cleaned and painted the
crew's quarters with his small gang. He knew his
business, having been a former sealer. It was when
the time neared for the whalers to start taking on
gear and renewing cordage that old "Moseys's"
tension mounted. He could be heard screeching
from one end of the wharf to the other. He was
stores-keeper along with his other duties and,
like stores-keepers everywhere, parting with
even the smallest item hurt!
At the upper end of the wharf closest to the
bridge was a small donkey boiler, used to steam
out the large steel drums after they had been
drained of whale oil. The drums had two heavy
steel belts around them for strength and to make it
easier to roll them around the wharf. Each drum
held ninety gallons, so, at slightly over nine
pounds per gallon, each ran over eight hundred
Sometimes in a test of strength, some of the
tough old Norwegian whalers would grab a hold
of one end of a barrel and up-end it. This annoyed
Mosey as he was only a little fellow and would
have to get two of his men to set it down again on
what he called "an even keel".
Whale Oil
These large drums would be taken to the
whaling stations of Sechart, Cachalot, Rose
Harbor and Naden Harbor, filled and brought
back to Victoria by the whaling tender Gray, after
which they might be taken to Seattle to be
shipped to other destinations. When the season
had come to an end, the old Gray might venture as
far south as San Francisco with a mixed cargo of
whale oil and fertilizer made from the residue
after the whale meat came from the cookers. The
bones, many tons of them, were kept until the end
of the season, when they were ground up and,
with the rest of the whale offal, produced fertilizer
much in demand at the time.
Two coopers worked on the wharf in the spring,
busy making new wooden barrels and repairing
older ones. They held about thirty-two gallons
and were made especially to contain spermacetti,
that crystalline-looking substance of oil tissue
from the case of a sperm whale's head. The
spermacetti couldn't be loaded into the large steel
drums as it solidified so, when it was to be emptied
from a wooden barrel, the head of the barrel was
Page 14
British Columbia Historical News simply knocked in.
This year there were five Newfoundland
captain-gunners on the whalers - all previously
sealers and all crack shots. When sealing ended in
1910, they just naturally turned to whaling.
From memory of sixty-six years ago, there were
Captains John Anderson of the Blue; Willis
Balcom of the Black; Bert Balcom of the Green;
Jack Christian of the White. Gunner of the Brown
was Canute Halvorsen, and William Heater had
the W. Grant. The other two whalers had gunners
who came from their farms in Norway under two-
year contracts. One of these, named Arivson, was
a cheerful man in his 50's, devoutly religious. He
continuously sang hymns in Norwegian and just as
religiously bummed tobacco from anyone who
happened to be on the bridge with him at the
The information which I write about was
garnered in five whaling seasons with Capt.
Anderson on the Blue and acquired over the years
in conversations with other whalers. It should be
noted that a lot of the information contained here
has been by word-of-mouth. Whalers received
little media coverage — a few lines when they left
port and a few more when they returned in the
fall. Now that whaling has come to an end, people
are suddenly showing a great interest in what
once was an industry employing thousands.
Whaling stations have come and gone leaving
little to mark their departure. In 1916, for example,
when I was a young tugboater, I heard of a
whaling station started in Pages Lagoon, a few
miles north of Nanaimo, where, in two short years
(1907-1908), the two whalers working there killed
most of the whales in the Gulf of Georgia. They
were humpbacks. Plant and equipment was then
moved to Sechart, in Barkley Sound, where the
S.S. Orion, working nearly all year round, took
over three hundred whales.
In 1917 the harvest of whales off Vancouver
Island and the Queen Charlottes seemed to
average out at about 50-55 whales per vessel, not a
good season but a break-even operation,
depending on the price of oil and fertilizer, and
maybe enough encouragement to try for a better
season in 1918. None of us knew or cared if the
company made money as long as we were paid
wages, plus a lay or incentive for each whale
That year, 1917, five of the captain-gunners
were Newfoundlanders and the other three were
Norwegians. There were three bunkhouses on
the whaling stations, one each for Japanese,
Chinese and whites. In the white bunkhouse was
the blacksmith, one of the most important men on
The Blue with a sixty-foot fin back alongside, heading for Naden Harbor.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 15 the station. It was he who straightened out the
harpoons, bent and twisted from striking the large
heavy bones of whales. This was in addition to the
hundreds of other jobs he might be called on to
do around the whaling station.
One of the most versatile of these blacksmiths
was Carl Larsen, or "Grandpa" Larsen as he was
called. He had been brought out from Placentia,
Newfoundland, under the company's usual two-
year work contract in 1909 and 1910. In later years
he even made the heavy harpoons right on the
wharf property at Point Ellice - claws, shanks, the
whole bit except the head socket which was of
cast steel. A gruff man of few words, it was
fascinating to watch him at work with an assistant,
tapping out instructions with his hammer on the
anvil while his assistant stood ready with whatever
was required.
Many of the men in the white bunkhouse were
from Newfoundland. Some of them were hardworking flensers, others labourers, out under the
two-year contract. Most of these men were
fishermen back home and, should a seaman be
required on any of the whalers through sickness
or any other reason, one of these men would fit in
and more than pull his weight.
"Full and Plenty"
On 28th March 1917 the crew of the Blue was
called to the office of the whaling company
where, in the presence of Capt. Anderson and the
shipping master, Capt. George Kirkendale, we
were signed on after hearing conditions of
employment, pay scales and the old, old promise
of a dish of "Full and Plenty".
I was now an able-bodied seamen on the
vessel's articles, paid $45.00 per month, plus a lay
or bonus for each whale taken. This was a sliding
scale, depending on the species of whale, the
most desirable being sperm and blue whales. The
blues were also called "sulphur bottoms" because
when they rose to spout it looked like a sulphur
match glowing in the darkness. Each of these
meant a bonus of $2.50 for the sailors, the mates
and captains being paid more. Pinbacks and
humpbacks meant $1.75 each and the smaller sei
whales paid $1 each.
Late the next afternoon the Blue was plowing
away along the west coast bucking a strong and
chilling west wind. I was at the wheel on the open
bridge where I had been for the last three hours
while most of the crew were below sleeping off
hangovers. Chilled to the bone, I had been sea
sick as usual, vomiting sporadically much to the
disgust of the old pilot Jim Mathews. When finally
relieved of the wheel by my watchmate, Bill, I
tottered into my bunk in the foc's'le, grateful and
We make a few hours stop at the first whaling
station, Sechart, with some special supplies and
then on towards Cachalot, the next whaling
station in Kyuquot Sound which everyone called
Kyuquot. The Blue stopped over for a few days
and this was where Capt. Anderson started
training his crew in the business of chasing whales.
At this time of year there always seemed to be a
pair of California grays cruising around the sound.
The crew got to know how to chase the whales,
load the gun with a harpoon and then arm it with
its cast-iron bomb and pound of smokeless
powder. The gray whales were so cagey the Blue
never got within shooting range of them. When
they did get the occasional gray it yielded a pink
colored oil instead of the amber colored oil of
other species.
The Blue steamed on up to the Rose Harbor
station after a few days of drill and then whaling
started in earnest. The second whale that Blue
took that season was another bull sperm on May 1,
ten miles south-west of Cape St. James. Old Bill,
my watchmate, told me that they had never taken
a cow sperm so it would seem, at this time, that
only bulls travelled in pods. Years later cow
sperms were taken and they proved to be much
smaller than the bulls.
When the Blue took the first sperm into Rose
Harbour and the flensers went to work, Bill
pointed out to me the large tank of oil on the
whale's head. He said it was of the highest grade
and called "spermacetti". The flensers baled it out
of the whale's head very carefully and kept it
separate from the blubber and rest of the carcass.
They also looked carefully at a sperm's intestines
when they opened him up to see if there was any
ambergris in him. Capt. Anderson brought one in
a few years before and it had contained ambergris
worth $56,000. When Capt Anderson was asked if
it was true, the Captain said: "Yes, that's true and
the company game me an extra bonus of $450."
He was very likely the only man on the station who
could identify ambergris because he had the
opportunity to examine it closely. While it
resembles a chunk of rotten blubber to some
extent, he said, the rule of thumb was to take your
Page 16
British Columbia Historical News Captain W. Heater of W. Grant, assisted by crew, is finishing off a humpback whale by hand-lancing.
sheath knife and run it through the mass, the back
of the blade first, rather than cutting. If it were
ambergris a tiny fibrous-like material would cling
to the back of the knife blade.
Working around and off Cape St. James, it was a
lonely sea except for another whaler or an
occasional steam halibut fisherman. Sometimes
going ashore to walk on the black sand of Luxana
Bay, I wondered if many others had ever walked
on this deserted beach until Old Bill told me,
"Hell, there was a Captain Dixon of the Royal
Navy surveying around herein 1787 in his ship the
Queen Charlotte. How in hell do you suppose all
these places got their names?" With that I lost the
feeling of thinking mayby I was the first to explore
out-of-the-way places.
The Blue kept on hunting until the weather
worsened in mid-October and whales became
scarce. Then it was time to think of returning to
Victoria. It hadn't been too good a season, the
boats probably averaging about fifty whales each.
I was signed on by the Shipping Master in
Victoria on 28th March 1917. I was signed off by
the Shipping Master in Victoria on 27th October
1917. With lay money I averaged $58 a month for
the season while the going rate for deckhands on
tugboats that year was $50. So I came out a little
ahead and, while I hadn't completely conquered
sea sickeness, I could take a pretty good bouncing
around and still carry on.
Within hours of being paid off at the whaling
company's office at Point Ellice, my Norwegian
friends would be in their old haunts close to the
waterfront, chewing and spitting Copenhagen
Snuff which they called "Snoose" or "Scandinavian Condition Powder".
They would have one scoop of beer after
another. They would sing Norwegian songs, and
soon they would shout: "Bring on the girls" to
some old madam who would be running the joint
in which they found themselves.
Within a few days the girls, madams, and saloon
keepers would have most of the whalers' money
and then the madams would supply these old
whalers with just enough booze and lodgings and
a few dollars until they could find employment on
other vessels and even some longshoring to tide
them over until once more it was spring and time
to think of going whaling again. That was the way
of it year after year as long as whaling meant
something to Victoria.
I went back to tugboating over the winter but I,
too, would head for Point Ellice again with Captain
Anderson and the Blue and sign on for another
season, this time as second mate.
Captain Donald B. Macpherson was born in Victoria in
1899. He spent five seasons on the Blue. He is now
retired after a lifetime as master of tugs & ferries in B. C.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 17 A Photograph Album
Chinese at William Head
J. Robert Davison
A little remembered "Chinese invasion" of
British Columbia was called to mind recently by
the gift to the Provincial Archives of a curious
photograph album. Donated by Mrs. F.R.
Rockhill, the album belonged to her father, Dr. H.
Rundle Nelson, who was the Medical Superintendent at William Head Quarantine Station near
Victoria from 1913 to 1923.
During those years, the station played
temporary host to an estimated 88,000 Chinese
coolies, who had been mustered to serve in
labour battalions in France in World War I, and
who passed through William Head both en route
and again on their homeward journey. The
Chinese arrived by ship in charge of the military,
who put them up in tent camps that accommo
dated at times some 7,500 or more. They moved
on as soon as transport ships or trains were ready.
Photographs in the album, many taken by the
Victoria photographer Trio, document the arrival
and departure of the Chinese, and their austere,
often tedious life in the camp. Several photos,
such as the one shown on page 20, picture the
disembarking Chinese undergoing preliminary
medical examination.
A later reminiscence recalled that upon the
arrival of the first contingent of Chinese, Dr.
Nelson, watching the ship dock, remarked to a
waiting officer, "What shall we do if they have the
smallpox?" Ironically, the first man down the
gangplank did, indeed, have smallpox,
necessitating quarantine of ail 2,000 coolies in the
"Coolies at work" at the William
Head Quarantine Station is the
caption of this photograph from the
H. Rundle Nelson Album. A Trio
Page 18
British Columbia Historical News first draft.
Boredom under constricted and restricted
conditions was the chief problem for the men,
idled by inactivity. At one point, the tension and
impatience mounted until serious trouble
seemed imminent. A solution was found when
the Chinese were put to work collecting and
cutting wood for the station, which they gathered
from driftwood strewn out along the coast. They
also balked at western food and were soon left to
prepare their own communal meals.
The more artistic among them amused
themselves and the local populace by producing
handicrafts from materials at hand. Mrs. Rockhill
notes: "Periodically the Officers would invite
prominent ladies from Victoria to come and see
some of the crafts the Coolies made and quite a
number would supply silks and embroidery
threads and put in orders for cushion covers or
brass shells etched ... This all helped to keep some
of the Coolies occupied, which was quite a
problem with so many there. The brass shell I have
was done around 1918 by No. 132 of the Coolie
Labour Corps; they just used a sharpened nail to
make the design."
Accompanying the album were the two letters
reproduced below. One, a translation from the
Chinese, is a copy of a letter from a coolie, Joe
Hwei Chun, to his relatives in China. We have no
record of his eventual fate. The other is a report
written by an army sergeant in April, 1920,
recording an incident among the Chinese at
William Head awaiting transport back to China
after the war.
From our viewpoint today, the letters are
enlightening for what they reveal not only about
individuals (not to mention ferocious marine life),
but about contemporary attitudes.
Copy of a letter from a Chinese coolie to his
relatives in China.
My dear Father and Mother-in-law.
Your son-in-law left on the 5th month, 3rd day
we went aboard ship and started on our journey
and travelled till the 24th. We have arrived in
English Canada from where we take a train and in
about 16 days we will arrive in France your Son-in-
law has not yet arrived in France.
My journey has been one of peace and
tranquility under the protection of the Heavenly
Father and I have met with no dangers or
hardships, every day we have all we want, our
eatables, clothing and everything we want are
I hope that Mother and Father-in-law have no
anxiety about me, I hope that all the members of
the Church prosper and don't backslide because
the Kingdom is near and we are controlled by
I thank you for taking care of my wife as she is
bound to fret about my absence and furthermore
present my compliments to the two families, my
sisters-in-law and the eldest daughter-in-law, and
I wish you all a tranquil farewell,
Your Son-in-law,
Joe Hwei Chun
in reverence.
Coolie Repatriation Camp
William Head
Victoria, B.C.
Lieutenant Heritage 1st Aprj^ 1920
William Head
In compliance with your request I beg to submit
the following description of the devilfish episode
which occurred some months ago, when one of
our Chinese charges was attacked by an octopus
while engaged in gathering mussels, crabs, and
other presumably edible material on the beach.
The incident occurred somewhere about three
o'clock in the afternoon, the fatigue parties had
just been disbanded for the day and I was making
my final tour of inspection to ascertain if the work
had been thoroughly carried out in accordance
with my instructions, and I had just reached that
part of the camp which abuts on the wharf when I
observed a large number of coolies rushing over
the rocky hill which forms the southern bastion of
the compound and apparently running towards
some common objective, or central point of
interest, as they were all moving in one general
direction. They appeared to be abnormally
excited, as they were gesticulating frantically, and
ejaculating vociferously, a circumstance which
interested me to such an extent that I too joined
the procession to ascertain the meaning of their
unusual perturbation.
After pushing my way through the dense crowd
who were congregated on the southern slope of
the hill, and on all other points of observation
adjacent to the sea, I observed a struggling crowd
on the further rocky shore of the small bay which
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 19 lies just back of the No. 3 latrine, who were
evidently the cynosure of all eyes, and on pushing
through the crowd to a better point of
observation, I discovered that they had effected
the capture of a very large octopus, measuring
fully eight feet from tip to tip of the tentacles, and
weighing approximately in the neighbourhood of
one hundred and fifty pounds, which according
to their statement had opened the offensive by
wrapping its tentacles around the leg of an
incautious chinaman whose contiguity to the
water had rendered such an action possible, and
attempted to pull him into the sea, an assertion
which was substantiated by the fact that they were
still engaged in disentangling its tentacles from his
leg when I arrived, and I have very little doubt that
if it had not been for the timely arrival of succor he
would have been dragged under water.
I may say that Lance Corporal W//son of the
CM.P. saw the remains of the monster a short
time after on the ablution table where he could
form a fair estimate of its size, although by that
time the major portion of it had been
expeditiously converted into "chow-chow" by
the omnivorous Chinamen.
They appear to be very numerous as four
others were subsequently captured here, one of
which weighed in the vicinity of one hundred
I have Sir
The honour to be
Your obedient servant
(sig)   John W. Thompson Sergt.
P.S. This incident was duly reported to Sergt.
Major Scribbens at the time.
J. Robert Davison is a photo-archivist in the Visual
Records Division of the Provincial Archives of B.C.
"Dr. Hunter examining coolies" is the caption for this photograph in the Nelson album. A Trio photograph.
Page 20
British Columbia Historical News The Main Trail to
Chilliwack Lake
R.C. Harris
The Hudson's Bay Company cut the first
recorded trail up the Chilliwack River in 1855,
improving the Indian trail which joined the nine
Indian villages between Vedder Crossing and
Chilliwack Lake.1 The Company was looking at the
Chillwack River as a possible route to the interior
as early as 1847. A letter dated 23 March 1848, Fort
Vancouver, from James Douglas and P.S. Ogden
to J.M. Yale at Fort Langley, comments:
We have perused your account of the disasters
that befel Simon Guille in his journey up the Chal-
way-ook, and the abortive results of the voyage,
which do not give a very favourable opinion of
Simon's courage or hardihood.
The course you afterwards pursued... to establish
the route by Fraser's River ... has met with our
warmest approbation  we have ordered the
Brigades of Thompson's River, New Caledonia and
Fort Colvile with their returns to Fort Langley—and
you may therefore expect them about the first week
in June next... .2
Between 1857 and 1860, the North American
Boundary Commission further improved the main
trail, which followed the right (north) bank of the
river all the way to the lake. At Vedder (Cultus)
Crossing, the main trail diverged high above the
river, over Promontory ridge, to avoid the flood-
plain, where the river crowded against the ridge.
The last Whatcom trail, from Bellingham Bay in
Washington Territory, also used the Chilliwack
River and Lake route. It came by Cultus Lake on
the side of Vedder mountain, crossed the Chilliwack River at Vedder Crossing, and joined the
Hudson's Bay Company trail up on the Promontory.
The main stem of Chilliwack River flows north
from Washington state to Chilliwack Lake, where
it is dammed in its major valley by a coarse boulder
moraine. It then runs west, parallel to the border.
Five major creeks and Cultus Lake augment it from
the south, which made it of particular interest to
the two surveys of the international boundary, c.
1858 and c. 1901. The Chilliwack watershed gave
access to twenty-eight Monuments: numbers 41
to 68.
Just above Vedder Crossing, the Chilliwack
River bursts from the mountains through a rocky
gap, and continues to the Fraser River over a flat
alluvial fan by several channels. The flat fan can be
displayed by joining the four adjacent current
1:25,000 topographic sheets, and colouring the 5
foot contour intervals.
Until the 1870s, the main channel flowed northeast, but over the next decade, with the natural
instability resulting from accretion of the delta, it
shifted its course westerly, until due west through
Vedder Creek to seasonal Sumas Lake. In the
1920s, the Vedder, now a river, was redirected by
the senior governments via the new Vedder Canal
into the Fraser River at the mouth of Sumas River.
Meanwhile, the old channels, including the
Atchelitz and the Luckakuck, have almost dried
Boundary Commission
The North American Boundary Commission,
1857-62, made some of the early maps of.the
Chilliwack River. Both the British and American
sections of the Commission made good final
maps, but more of the American field notes,
traverses and sketches, which led to the final maps,
seem to have survived. Many of these show the
Hudson's Bay Company trail from the mouth of
Chilliwack River, passing over the shoulder of
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 21 Mount Tom on Promontory ridge, returning to
the upper Chilliwack River by the mouth of Ryder
Creek, and thence to Chilliwack Lake.3
These boundary survey maps also show the
Whatcom Trail in its final (DeLacy) location,
coming by Cultus Lake. Several chain and compass
traverses of the trails survive, enabling one, for
example to follow the H.B.C. trail from the depot
(station 448) at the mouth of Chilliwack River to
the junction with the Whatcom Trail (station 143).4
One American sketch map, c. 1858, plots rough
contours and gives spot heights at several stations
along the H.B.C. trail, confirming the Mount Tom
route.5 Going southeast over Promontory ridge
these elevations are written in pencil, and
confirmed alongside in ink, as 179 feet, 698 feet,
1027 feet, 1268 feet, then descending easterly to
the Chilliwack River valley via the mouth of Ryder
Creek at elevation 360 feet.
Lt. Charles Wilson, R.E., describes a journey over
the horse trail on the Promontory in his journal.
Leaving Chilliwack Depot for Chilliwack Lake on
July 27,1859:
...the greater part of this day's journey was through
low land, very thickly timbered; the soil, to judge
from magnificent Indian potato fields I passed
through, excellent; at last, going over a very high hill
[Mount Tom], I descended to the valley below and
found our first halting place by the Chilliwack
Lt. J.G. Parke of the Corps of Topographic
Engineers, U.S. Army, and Chief Astronomer and
Surveyor for the U.S. section of the Boundary
Commission, reported on their work of Spring
1859 as follows:
The trail from the [Chilliwack] Depot to Chilliwack Lake was reopened, and made practicable for
pack mules, requiring bridging, corduroying and
heavy grading. The high water of the streams, and
the great quantity of fallen timber, made the work
very heavy, and required a strong force.6
Until the name Chilliwack was finalised quite
recently, it was quite variable. In 1860, the Royal
Navy charted it as Silliwak. More creative
spellings were Chilo-we-yeuk, Tshithwyook,
Tsilli-way-ukh and Schelowat.
In the spring of 1858, leading citizens of
Whatcom [now Bellingham] appointed a committee to improve the Indian trail crossing the
peninsula between Bellingham Bay and the placer
mines on the lower Fraser River. When steamer
service to Fort Hope began, the committee
decided to reroute the far end of their Whatcom
Trail through the Cascade Mountains south and
east of Hope, intersecting the Hudson's Bay
Company's main Brigade Trail to Thompson River
somewhere north of the Skagit River headwaters.
The Chilliwack River valley was chosen as the
route to bypass Hope (and Governor Douglas'
head taxes and mining licences).7
The antecedents of the new Whatcom Trail up
the Chilliwack River are described by its engineer,
Captain W.W. DeLacy, in his comprehensive
completion report addressed to the "Commissioners of the Trail from Whatcom to Thompson's
River", and published in the local newspaper
Northern Light for September 4, 1858:
Capt. R.V. Peabody who ... had been to Lake
Chilliwheok, or Summit Lake, while on duty
connected with the Boundary Commission	
continued on with me to the Chilliwheok River,
where he obtained Indian packers for me and
placed me on the old Hudson Bay Trail, which was
cut out by the Hudson Bay some three years ago to
Summit Lake, and then abandoned in consequence of their being unable to get round the
One may ask why DeLacy did not use the
Lindeman-Greendrop lakes corridor, as is now
used by the Centennial hiking trail to reach the
Skagit valley from the outlet of Chilliwack Lake.
DeLacy was aware of it, as he returned this way
from one of his explorations between Chilliwack Lake and the Skagit. It is also laid out
clearly on the Boundary Survey maps. He
probably adopted the Boundary Survey's trail
up Depot Creek, though higher and longer
(even crossing back to the United States at one
point), because it was already being built, and
was liable to be kept open at least as long as the
survey ran.
Captain DeLacy's efforts were duly noted by
the Hudson's Bay Company. Writing from Fort
Vancouver on May 20, 1858, to W.G. Smith,
Secretary of the Company in London, England;
Dugald McTavish reported:
The Americans are making strenuous efforts to
open a communication to the Thompson's River
Country from this Territory; some miners have
gone up there from here by the Columbia River
and Okanagan, whilst a number of others are now
busily occupied making a road from Bellingham
Bay, by the Chil-we-ack river and take across the
Cascade Mountains to the Shi-milk-a-meen [now
Tulameen] Valley which I need not say, is an
operation of some magnitude....9
From time to time, the Chilliwack River route
Page 22
British Columbia Historical News Volume 16, No. 4
Page 23 was reconsidered as a route to the Interior.
Donald Maclean of the Hudson's Bay Company
at Fort Hope, reported to Colonel Moody on 7
July 1859:
... the name of the Indian who is acquainted with
the route by the way of the Chilquahuck and
Skatcheet Rivers to the Seemelclemen [Tulameen]
Valley is "Sah wow-witz", a native of Harrison's
On the 9th of February 1865, Robert C.
Cowan, formerly of the Royal Engineers, and
having served nearly four years with the
Boundary Commission, wrote to the Colonial
Secretary in Victoria, with the same idea,
to suggest to His Excellency the Governor the
practicability of a new and shorter route to the
Similkameen Valley, via Sumas, Chilukweyuk and
Skagit rivers....
It was a decade after the boundary survey
before serious mapping and exploration resumed
up the Chilliwack River. A system of townships six
miles square was laid out east of the Coast
Meridian, starting in 1872. Of interest to the
Chilliwack River are Twps. 22, 23, 25, 26 ECM
which extend to Tamahi Creek. These were met
from the east in the 1880s by the Railway Belt
townships, laid out west from the 6th Meridian.
The relevant Railway Belt townships, working
upstream, are Nos. 1 and 2 of Ranges 29,28,27 and
As late as 1913, the Chilliwack River trail
upstream from Slesse Creek was named "Old
Hudson's Bay Trail" on a map of New Westminster
[Land] District.11
Like any other work of man, a trail needs regular
use and maintenance, and it is not surprising to
read of more recuttings of the trail to Chilliwack
Lake. J.W. Macoun, Canadian botanist to the
second survey of the international boundary,
reported in 1901:
Having learned from Mr. McArthur [surveyor] that
his progress up the Chilliwack River was very slow
on account of the difficulty he was experiencing in
cutting a trail through the dense forest, I decided I
would remain on the outskirts of the forest until he
had reached Chilliwack Lake.12
Mining activity up Slesse Creek, just over the
border, stimulated the building of the "Road to
Mount Baker Gold Mines". The Minister of Mines
Report for 1898 states:
Very rich samples of gold bearing quartz have been
taken out of the new mines located near the
international boundary line south of Chilliwhack....
A road is being constructed from Chilliwhack to
these mines, [at the head of Slesse Creek]
Construction of the Mount Baker wagon road
began in 1898, and continued to 1905. This was the
first level road along the north bank of Chilliwack
River from Cultus [Vedder] Crossing Bridge to
Selica [Slesse] Creek Bridge. Selica [Slesse] Creek Bridge, the distance,
approximately, being 76 m;7es. It was opened
principally to facilitate the transportation of
machinery and supplies into the Mount Baker
Mining District, and a very considerable amount of
supplies, etc., have been taken into the mines by
pack trains.13
In 1911, at the height of the Steamboat Mountain excitement on the Skagit River, the citizens of
Hope were pained to find that Chilliwack residents were hoping to reopen the Chilliwack River
route to the Skagit, thus bypassing Hope.14 The
British Columbia Electric Railway Company
considered extending its New Westminster-
Chilliwack line up Chilliwack River, with the same
By 1924, the wagon road up Chilliwack River
had not progressed east of the Mount Baker trail
crossing at the mouth of Slesse Creek. The
Minister of Mines reported in 1924 that:
The [Dolly Varden] group is reached from Chilliwack by wagon road to Hipkoe's ranch, about 15
miles from Chilliwack. From that point to the outlet
of Chilliwack lake is a distance of 30 miles over a
fairly good horse-trail.
There was still only a horse trail to Chilliwack
Lake in 1930, when another Minister of Mines
report noted:
Chilliwack Lake is reached by auto to Allison's
ranch, about 15 miles from Vedder's Crossing, and
from there by saddle-horse another 32 miles.... The
trail follows a good grade throughout, and in the
event of important mining operations could be
converted into a road at nominal cost.
The dense forest, already mentioned by botanist
Macoun and others, was logged with the aid of the
Vedder Logging Company railway, which ran
from the Fraser River to Chilliwack Lake. It
followed the east bank of Vedder Canal, crossing
what is now the Vedder River on a heavy log
bridge just below the present steel highway
bridge. This log bridge lasted until the 1950s.
Three more crossings of the Chilliwack River
were made by the railway before reaching the
lake. The timber trestle over the flats below Slesse
Creek was pulled down in the 1970s but much of
the old road bed is still driveable, or has become
part of the new Chilliwack Lake Road.
What remains of the Hudson's Bay Company
and Whatcom trails in the map area? North of the
Promontory, the main Hudson's Bay/Boundary
Commission trail is now Chilliwack River Road.
Page 24
British Columbia Historical News On the Promontory, part of Extrom Road carries
the old trail over the south shoulder of Mount
Tom. The easterly return of the old trail to the
Chilliwack River at the mouth of Ryder Creek
makes a descending traverse of an interesting
ridge along the crest of the cliffs of glacial till
bordering the Chilliwack River. It is unlikely that
more remnants of the trail will be found closer to
Chilliwack Lake.
The Whatcom Trail entered British Columbia on
the west side of the Columbia Valley at monument
43, "the last iron pillar", according to Marcus
Baker's list of locations and descriptions of the
original boundary monuments, compiled about
1900 when the two governments were preparing
to resurvey the boundary more thoroughly.15 The
trail climbed above the Commission's Schweitzer
astronomical station (now Lindell Beach) at the
south end of Cultus Lake, running along the 1000
foot contour to the north end of the lake. There is
now a cart track on this line, but in the 1930s, it was
still a trail.16
More field work is required to confirm where
the trail crossed the Sweltzerand Chilliwack rivers,
and its route up to its junction with the Hudson's
Bay trail on the Promontory. Some fragments
should still be found up Depot Creek near the
Skagit divide, though Depot Creek was logged in
the 1970s.
' Pacific Northwest Quarterly, October 1950. Marian W.
Smith, "The Nooksack, the Chilliwack and the Middle
Fraser". Local Indian tribes, languages, villages.
2 Provincial Archives of British Columbia (PABC): A B 20
V20d (also M571). Mar 23,1848.
3 United States National Archives (USNA): Record Croup
76, Series 69, Map 12 [U.S.] Progress Sketch; Campbell,
Parke, North Western Boundary Survey. 1857. 1:120,000
(shows "Hudson's Bay Co. Trail" over the Promontory).
Neatly traced on linen.
USNA: RG 76/69/52-1. Untitled "contour"map, Sumas
Lake, Hope, Skagit; shows trails, camps, caches,
astronomical stations, c. 18581:150,000.
Surveyor General of B.C.: 2 L13F R.E. Survey Office
[Capt. R.M. Parsons, R.E.] No title. Sumas Lake to
Chilliwack Lake. May 17, 1860. 1:63,360. An unfinished
USNA: RG76/69/51. U.S. sketch map, vicinity Vedder
Crossing. Shows Brigade Trail and "Whatcomb" Trail.
c.1860 Gives some traverse stations. No scale.
USNA: RG76/67/1 and 2. British official boundary map
sheets Nos. 1 and 2, centred on Sumas and Chilliwack
lakes, c.1862 1:120,000.
USNA: RG76/66/7 and 6. c.1862 U.S. official boundary
map sheets Nos. 7 and 6 covering same ground as the
British sheets preceding 1:120,000.
USNA: RG76/66. 1866. Campbell and Parke "Maps of
Eastern and Western Sections" of the boundary from the
Coast to 110° West and 46° to 49°30 North. Very detailed.
1:720,000. A summary of their work. U.S. Boundary
Survey Office, Washington, D.C.
4 USNA: RC76/69, Field Sheets 101; 111 Traverses along
trails, such as "Sweltza-Sumass; Brigade Trail; Whatcom
Trail, c.1858 1:5000.
5 USNA: RC76/68/1. [U.S.] Sketch map, coast to Skagit
River. Gives numerous elevations, and Indian toponyms.
c.1859 1:120,000.
6 U.S. Geological Survey, Bulletin 174. c.1901. Marcus
Baker, "The Northwestern Boundary of United States".
A compilation of data from the first boundary survey
7 Map of New Westminster [Land] District Issued by
"London and British North America Co. Ltd". 1913.
8 "Nooksack Tales and Trails". P.R. Jeffcott Chapter V.
1949. "The Gold Rush of 1858 and the Whatcom
Trail"—the definitive story of the trail.
9 PABC: GR 332, v. 3. May 20, 1858, p. 198-201. A
manuscript transcript.
10 PABC: Colonial Correspondence, File 1062a, Letter 3,
July 07, 1859.
11 See number 7.
u Geological Survey of Canada. Summary Report XIV1901.
p. 158A.
13 Report of Public Works; 1903, 1904.
14 Hope News [newspaper]. Mar. 14, 1911. p. 1. "Chilliwack's Bluff", and "Scrap over Steamboat".
15 See number 6.
16 Letter from Dr. W.E. Ricker to R.C. Harris with copy of
1937 paper on "Physical and Chemical Characteristics of
Cultus Lake, British Columbia". Feb. 16, 1981. Fig. 1 is a
map of Cultus Lake and environs. The trail contouring
along Vedder Mountain at about 1000 feet "was in very
good condition, having been maintained by the federal
Railway Belt forest warden, who lived near the lake".
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 25 News and
British Columbia
Historical Association's
Annual Convention,
New Westminster, June 1983
Page 26
British Columbia Historical News Treasurer
For this year the dues are $1.00 per member of
each Member Society, plus another $4.00 if a
member wishes to receive the British Columbia
Historical News—$4.00 for four issues each year
means that the member receives each copy at
about half the cost of production.
It is hopes that Member Societies will actively
encourage their own members to support the
British Columbia Historical News by taking out a
personal subscription.
The cover price of the British Columbia
Historical News was set at $3.50 per copy; the
Individual Subscriber rate was raised to $8.00; and
the Institutional Subscriber rate to $16.00 annually, effective Volume 17.
Council also decided that the post office box
number should be located where the treasurer
lives—at present, in Vancouver. Correspondence
about the content of the British Columbia
Historical News should be sent to the Editor
(Marie Elliott, 1745 Taylor, Victoria, B.C. V8R3E8),
but matters about subscriptions and addresses
should be sent to the post office box. Other
correspondence on general matters should also
be sent to the post office box. (Post office box
numbers are not easy to come by at most
convenient post offices and I will ask again in
early July. In the meantime my home address
should be used rather than the post office box
number in Victoria.)
—Rhys Richardson
2875 W. 29th
Vancouver V6L 1Y2
Archie Miller, Curator of Irving
House and our guide on the
walking tours. Here he is speaking at the Fraserview Cemetery.
Highlights of the
Annual General
Because our society is best described as "a union
of organizations" rather than "an organization of
persons", our delegates approved a change in
name from "British Columbia Historical
Association" to "British Columbia Historical
The constitution, having undergone six revisions
by Rhys Richardson, treasurer, was approved by
the delegates with only minor alterations. Mr.
Richardson, with the assistance of Tom Carrington
and John Spittle, has spent three years on this
Our federation is hoping to take part in the
upcoming annual meeting of the American
Association for State and Local History on October
4-7, 1983, at the Empress Hotel, Victoria, at the
invitation of Bob Broadland, Heritage Conservation Branch, who is local arrangements
A change in fee structure, whereby membership
and magazine subscriptions will be collected
separately is under consideration by the council
and was passed by the delegates.
President Barbara Stannard announced that
Honorary President Anne Steveson of Williams
Lake, has been made a Lifetime Member, and that
Col. G.S. Andrews, Victoria, has been made
Honorary President.
The slate of officers for 1983-84 remains the same
as for 1982-83, with the excepton of Frances
Gundry, secretary, whose resignation was
accepted with regret. Don Sales, Nanaimo
Historical Society, will assume this responsibility.
Plans for next year's annual general meeting are
now well under way. It will be held at Vernon from
May 2-4,1984.
— Marie Elliott
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 27 News and Notes
Reports from the Branches
North Shore
The North Shore Historical Society meets
regularly on the second Wednesday of each
month with the exception of July and August.
Our meetings have been varied in content and
have consisted of speakers, films, and video
programs. One especially memorable evening
was spent with Mary Bentley who spoke on the
petroglyphs of Gabriola Island and provided us
with a hands-on experience of making our own
petroglyph rubbings from her personal casts.
In addition to the monthly meetings the Society
has published a news letter each month which
contains notice of meetings and articles written,
when possible, by the members of the society.
On July 1,1982 the Society sponsored a bus tour
of a few historic sites in the Fraser Valley. This
event was financed by a grant from the federal
government and the ten hour day was spent in
visiting Westminster Abbey at Mission, the
Harrison Mills Store Museum, the Chilliwack
Museum, and Fort Langley together with the
museum there and the museum of agricultural
machinery. This proved to be a popular event and
we are planning another "happening" for July 1,
1982 saw the 75th Anniversary of the founding of
the City of North Vancouver and the society was
represented on the committee which planned the
jubilee events.
Also this year saw the 100th birthday of Mr.
Walter Draycott and last month the society viewed
a video tape made by Mr. Bill Baker and Mr.
Draycott about five years ago. I have this tape on a
Vi inch VHS Video and would be willing to lend it
to a member society.
The Society is undertaking the publishing of a
manuscript of Mr. Draycott's in which he
chronicles his immigration to Canada and his
struggles in the railway building days of the Grand
Trunk Pacific in Northern Ontario. This is a large
task and will take us two or three years to
I take this opportunity to invite members of
other Societies to visit with us on the North Shore
on the meeting dates specified above.
Robert W. Brown
In the week before the Victoria Day holiday, the
Victoria section held a 2-day exhibit at the Hillside
Mall. This gained us new members, membership
renewals, and a chance for some of the general
membership to do a shift on the stall.
The chief attraction on the easel-type
noticeboard by the stall was the reprint of "A Bird's
Eye View of Victoria (1878)". It was a real people-
stopper. Many of those who examined it closely
learned that James Bay really was a bay which was
crossed by a bridge, that the Empress Hotel and
the Causeway did not yet exist, and that residential
streets like Southgate ran between open fields.
At our May meeting we were told that our July 9
summer outing would include a visit to the
satellite tracking station near the Duncan - Lake
Cowichan road.
Our Oral History group has two projects
planned. A letter to the Times-Colonist editor
asked for information about personnel on CPR
coastal ships of the past, and said that we wished to
contact war brides living in the Victoria area. The
phoned replies to the second request netted us
about one hundred names. Two of them were
from World War I. Most were from the British
We also learned that the book "War Brides" by
Joyce K. Hibbert is in the Greater Victoria Public
Library system. (This book, published in 1978 by
Peter Martin Associates Limited, has a perceptive
and lively introduction by Mavis Gallant and an
appendix showing a break-down by countries
Page 28
British Columbia Historical News from which the thousands of dependents came).
Our 1982-83 speakers have covered a variety of
topics. In April Provincial Archivist John Bovey
spoke on the work done by the Provincial
Archives in preserving and restoring paintings,
photographs and papers. In May, Colonel Gerald
Andrews, first teacher at the Kelly Lake School in
the Peace River area, told us about life in a Metis
Outpost. His address was full of fascinating facts
presented with humour and those human interest
touches that help to make history come alive.
— Ruth Chambers
No we haven't made a mistake. Our new name
is the result of dropping the "museum" part only.
Not only have we changed our name, we have,
thanks to the City of Port Alberni, changed our
location, and with much pleasure. Thank you, City
Fathers for both our past and present homes.
We have not changed our original purpose of
preservation, presentation and publication of
Alberni District history. Originally we looked after
artifacts, photographs and archival material but
when the Alberni Valley Museum was born into
the Echo complex we had it take over the care and
feeding of our artifacts and photographs, leaving
us, in the old Army Camp firehall "Workshop"
with the tending of archives.
With the recent expansion of the museum and
our invitation to enter and make our historical
home in the lovely, new, fire proof and
temperature and humidity controlled atmosphere, we encountered some confusion. As
volunteers dealing exclusively with archival
material it seemed more accurate and descriptive
to simply drop the "museum" from our title.
By way of a house-warming gift the society,
thanks to a generous gift from the local Rotary
Club, was able to give a microfilm reader to the
museum. We also purchased microfilm from the
Provincial Archives that covers newspapers from
1907 to 1967. To top off the new service the Alberni
Valley Times gave, on permanent loan, its
microfilm from 1967 up to the current date. The
reader is of course available to the public as well,
for use in historical and census research and such
similar needs.
Society members have been busy developing
archival files since before the official expansion
opening, thanks to the excellent co-operation of
the museum staff, and are currently open for
-Ruth Roberts
4fiV a«//   "">/• Wltw/rtV^j
OQ4/<S WOt/se /fffO
Cepyr/jh+ NAA/OoA H-M-S.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 29 Burrvilla shortly after completion in 1906. It has now been
relocated to the Deas Island
Regional Park.
News from the
Heritage Trust
The Trust helped establish employment for fifty-
one British Columbia university students this
summer. The purpose of the program is to provide
students with opportunities to develop skill in
heritage conservation and to promote employment that makes a demonstrable contribution to
the heritage of British Columbia. Through the
Student Employment Program, the Trust provides
funds to organizations such as historical, museum
and heritage societies who then directly employ
the students.
Five historical societies received funds for
summer students:
■ The Penticton Branch of the Okanagan
Historical Society received a grant for a student
to undertake an inventory of Penticton's
commercial and residential heritage buildings
dating from 1908 to c. 1945.
■ A grant was awarded to the Steveston Historical
Society for their student to develop a program
to promote local heritage awareness among
young children.
■ The Peachland Historical Society received
funds for a student to complete their heritage
building inventory and to prepare a walking
tour of the community.
■ A student worked for the Vancouver Historical
Society on the Vancouver Centennial Bibliography project.
■ The Central Okanagan Historical Society
required a student to prepare "as found"
drawings of Kelowna's significant heritage
buildings and to prepare conceptual drawings
showing potential adaptive reuse of these
Other grants of interest recently awarded by the
Trust include:
* The Greater Vancouver Regional Parks Department received a grant of $25,000 to assist with
the restoration of the Burr House, built in 1906,
which was owned by the Burr Family for three
generations. This lovely example of Victorian
architecture was relocated to the Deas Island
Regional Park where it will be restored.
* The Maple Ridge Historical Society was
awarded a grant of $20,650 to restore the
former St. Andrew's Church. Built in 1888 of
bricks made on the site, it is located on the
original Port Haney townsite. The building
served as a church until 1956 and will now be
restored as a little theatre, concert hall and
meeting place.
* A grant of $7,000 was awarded to the District of
(continued on next page)
Page 30
British Columbia Historical News Political Memories on Tape at S.F.U.
Three-hundred hours of taped interviews with
some of Canada's most important political figures
are now housed in the Archives at Simon Fraser
Conducted as an oral history project by writer-
broadcaster Peter Stursberg, the interviews
feature the political memories of such people as
Senator Forsey, former governor general Roland
Michener, post-war finance minister Douglas
Abbott and socialist Grace Maclnnis.
Stursberg, an adjunct professor in Canadian
studies at Simon Fraser University, began the oral
history project in 1978 in collaboration with the
Public Archives of Canada and the Parliamentary
The two federal institutions and, through
special arrangement, Simon Fraser University
Archives, are the only repositories of the material
in Canada.
SFU Archivist Donald Baird says the collection
represents an important expansion of the research function of his department. "These tapes
provide a valuable and unique perspective on
our country's recent political history and they will
serve as an invaluable information resource for
researchers in this part of Canada."
Stursberg says the project is an ongoing one. To
date the recollections of forty prominent Cana-
Heritage Trust
(continued from page 30)
Chilliwack to purchase property adjacent to
the Yale Waggon Road. The property will be
protected from encroaching development and
its historic significance will be publicly interpreted. The road was constructed in 1874-5
after Chilliwack residents had petitioned the
British Columbia government for it in 1872.
* The Hallmark Society of Victoria received a
grant of $7,000 to undertake an inventory of Art
Deco and Art Modene buildings in Victoria.
Roberta J. Pazdro
dians have been recorded. Most will be freely
The collection's longest interview took place
with Grace Maclnnis. Twenty-two hours of
discussion covers her life and the lives of her
husband, Angus Maclnnis, and her father J.S.
Stursberg's first interview in the project was in
1978 with Senator Norman Paterson, 95 at the
time, who recalled working with early Canadian
politicians Mackenzie and Mann.
Other interviewees include Senator Carl
Goldenberg, Walter Harris, Davie Fulton,
Douglas Harkness, Jack Davis, Dr. Hugh Keenleyside and Robert Thompson.
These materials join 150 Stursberg interviews
already amassed by the Public Archives of
Canada, Parliamentary Library and SFU. The
earlier interviews were completed during
Stursberg's research for his four books on prime
ministers Diefenbaker and Pearson.
Transcriptions for the two collections total
more than five million words.
Don't Forget!
Subscribe now if you're not
receiving the News regularly.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 31 Bookshelf
Bowen. Lantzville, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 1982. Pp.
280, illus. $19.95 cloth
The history of coal has attracted much attention on
Vancouver Island with many fine studies written from
various points of view. But until Boss Whistle no one
managed to produce a comprehensive, detailed social
history of coal mining. Its publication must be
especially gratifying to those Islanders who realized
many critical gaps and contradictions never would be
adequately filled or corrected unless a major attempt
to record the memories of miners and their families
soon was undertaken. Thus was born the Coal Tyee
Society whose members met their original goal by
gathering a priceless collection of taped interviews,
then followed through brilliantly with a book
remarkable for its grasp of subject and clarity of
A trained historian and a mid-island resident Lynne
Bowen was a sound choice for author. She once
studied self-help societies in Nanaimo and drew upon
her earlier experience as a public health nurse to
understand better how inhabitants would be affected
by work-related upheaval or tragedy, circumstances
very common in coal towns.
Bowen approaches her subject largely through the
recollections of persons directly involved. This she
overlays with her own narrative describing and
interpreting a variety of backgrounds, including
business trends, coal mining technology, and patterns
of political activity. Typically a page will contain her
own narrative interrupted by a series of quotations
supporting the issue at hand. Occasionally this makes it
difficult to know who is steering whom. Are the
miners' sayings shaping Bowen's ideas, or is she simply
selecting items to reinforce her own conclusions? Yet,
whatever the case, the overall effect is very powerful
and satisfying. Worth noting, too, are the excellent
series of maps by C. Crocker and the well-chosen set of
photographs which help greatly to orient the reader to
mine locations and work sites.
Bowen begins her history with several chapters
devoted to life in the Island coal communities prior to
World War I. A primary charateristic of the industry
was its variety in organization and workforce, though
there were not many variations in method or markets.
No doubt Bowen found it sensible to group her
subjects mainly by kind of company: the larger owner-
manager colliery holdings of the Dunsmuirs, the
equally big but foreign-owned Western Fuel Co.
operation at Nanaimo, and a series of smaller coal
producers located on the main mid-island coal seams.
She describes all mines and the typically wide range of
occupations. Issues of class, race, working conditions,
and community life are handled deftly within the
context of mining activity and show the main
similarities or differences from one town to another
demonstrating a build-up of significant grievances
among miners and their families towards both
company management and others supporting capital
over labour.
The climax is reached in three chapters describing
and analyzing the great strike of 1912-14. For the first
time this event in all its drama and complexity is fairly
and fully treated by a historian. Of all those involved -
owners, politicians, union organizers, police, militia,
townspeople, miners - it is plain that Bowen believes
the latter lost most, particularly socially and
psychologically. Never very happy, life in the coal
towns provided a certain stability and dignity before
1912. Traditional social patterns broke down
repeatedly during the strike, shattering forever many
of the bonds holding the communities together.
Bowen instinctively and professionally reveals that
general collapse.
Boss Whistle is an excellent social history of a highly
controversial subject. One significant shortcoming is
the complete absence of source citations (though a
brief bibliography is included). Because Bowen offers
such a wealth of information — much never seen
before — the lack of references is to be lamented by
researchers and other students of British Columbia's
coal history. Presumably the tapes, transcripts, and
hopefully the author's research files will be available to
others studying the Island's coal industry. Meanwhile
the most demanding reader will find the book
absorbing, even fascinating. Those in the Coal Tyee
Society can take great pride in their project and its
Daniel Gallacher, curator of Modern History at the
Provincial Museum of British Columbia, has a special
interest in the technology of coal mining.
' Patricia Roy is the Book Review Editor. Copies of
books for review should be sent to her at 602-139
Clarence St., Victoria, B.C. V8V2J1.
Page 32
British Columbia Historical News Bookshelf
KITIMAT MY VALLEY. Elizabeth Anderson Varley,
Terrace: Northern Times Press, 1981. pp. 288, illus.
$23.95 (cloth), $12.95 (paper). (Northern Times
Press, Box 880, Terrace, B.C. V8G4R1)
The years from 1890 to the end of World War I
witnessed an influx of white settlers into
northwestern British Columbia. The children of those
hearty enough or foolish enough to stay and make
their mark are now beginning to write the story of
those years. Helen Meilleur in A Pour of Rain: Stories
from a West Coast Fort (Victoria, 1980) writes of life as
the child of a storekeeper in Port Simpson; Walter
Wicks in Memories of Skeena (Saanichton, 1976)
covers growing up at the mouth of the Skeena River;
and Jack Mould in Stumpfarms and Broadaxes
(Saanichton, 1976) discusses the Bulkley Valley-Lakes
Kitimat My Valley by Elizabeth Varley is a spirited
account of growing up in the sparsely-settled Kitimat
Valley during the early years of the century. All the
old themes are covered—there are wolves and
favourite dogs and harrowing crossings of rivers—but
the author manages to transcend these frontier
commonplaces and tell a story which is convincing,
informative and compelling. This is due partly to the
author's honesty: there are blemishes on the actors in
the story. It is due also to the detail of the account of
day-to-day life as the first white child born in the
Kitimat Valley grows up.
Kitimat My Valley can join Meilleur's A Pour of
Rain as a regional work which deserves to be read
provincially. Both works are about white settlements
northwestern  British  Columbia which did not
survive. The white community at Port Simpson is no
more and the present town of Kitimat has nothing
whatsoever to do with the farm life of which Varley
writes. That farm, and the farms of those around it,
had been abandoned long before Alcan built its
model townsite for workers at the smelter.
One would be hard put to learn much precise
information about the local history of the Kitimat
region from this account. This is more of a memoir of
the George and Martha Anderson family and their
friends than a strict history of the Valley, although the
main themes of early Kitimat Valley history are there.
There were no correct answers to last issue's contest, so here
is an additional hint: the city is one which recently had some
connection with the British Columbia Historical Association!
A recent book, To Market, To Market: The Public Market
Tradition in Canada by Linda Biesenthal (Toronto: PMA, 1980,
$22.95) is a handsomely illustrated study of public markets across
Canada. It does not, however, include photographs of the oldest
continuing public market in British Columbia. In what city is it
The British Columbia Historical News will award a copy of To
Market, To Market for the first correct answer drawn in our
spring contest Entries should reach the editor (P.O. Box 1738,
Victoria, B.C. V8VV 2Y3) before September 1,1983.
Volume 16, No. 4
Page 33 Bookshelf
The reader will learn little more of the curious
Kitimat-Terrace dog sled mail run, for example, than
that there were Husky-Malamute mongrels in the
Anderson back yard. The expected selection of
Kitimat as the terminus for the Grand Trunk Pacific
transcontinental railway is reflected in George
Anderson and George Raley laying out a townsite for
sale out of farm and mission land.
What Mrs. Varley is able to do with great success is
convey a good answer to the question, "What was life
like then?" The book is worth reading just for her
observations about the women at the Methodist
mission at Kitimat Indian Village and about her
mother as the archetypical pioneer hostess who cou Id
feed twelve extra travellers at the drop of a hat, but
who sometimes had little time for her daughter.
One serious drawback in the account is a lack of
an explicit listing by the author where her
information came from. Material taken from
Methodist sources about the early years of George
Anderson at the Kitimat mission and the arrival of
Martha there is acknowledged, if only vaguely. All the
rest is presented as the memory of the young
The explicitness of the account, the detail of the
memory seems too precise to be just memory. A
transcript of a verbatim conversation witnessed by the
child at four is presented. The reader is constantly told
how deep the snow is, when high tide came, who said
what, how many members were in a survey party.
There is allusion to a diary kept by George Anderson;
one suspects it was used frequently in writing the
The reader deserves a better map than the one
provided. In general, however, Northern Times Press
of Terrace has done better than average in the design
and printing of this kind of book.
Kitimat My Valley manages to keep reader interest
throughout. In fact, sometimes it's downright hard to
put down.
Maureen Cassidy taught local history for several years
at Northwest Community College.
New Titles
The British Columbia Heritage Trust assisted
with publication of these new titles:
Helgeson, Marion S., ed.Footprints: Pioneer Families of the
Metchosin District, Southern Vancouver Island, 1851-1900.
Metchosin School Museum Society, 1983. 316 p., ill.
MacDonald, A. David, ed. Penticton: Years to Remember,
1908-1983. City of Penticton, 1983. 146 p., ill.
MacDonald George, Haida Monumental Art. Vancouver:
University of British Columbia Press, 1983. 217 p., ill.
Maud, Ralph. A Guide to British Columbia Indian Myth and
Legend. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1983.
Norcross, E. Blanche, ed. The Company on the Coast.
Nanaimo Historical Society, 1983. 86 p.
Page 34
Honorary Patron: His Honour, The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Henry P. Bell-Irving
Honorary President: Anne Stevenson, Box 4570, Williams Lake, V2G 2V6
392-4356 (res.)
1st Vice President:
2nd Vice President:
Ex Officio:
Barbara Stannard, #211-450 Stewart Ave., Nanaimo, V9S 5E9
754-6195 (res.)
Leonard G. McCann, #2-1430 Maple St., Vancouver, V6J 3R9
736-4431 (bus.)
Naomi Miller, Box 1338, Golden, VOA 1H0
Frances Gundry, 255 Niagara St., Victoria, V8V 1G4
385-6353 (res.)
387-3623 (bus.)
J. Rhys Richardson, 2875 W. 29th, Vancouver, V6L 1Y2
733-1897 (res.)
Tom Carrington, 125 Linden St., Victoria, V8V 4E2
383-3446 (res.)
Myrtle Haslam, 1875 Wessex Road, Cowichan Bay, VOR 1N0
748-8397 (res.)
Ruth Barnett, 680 Pinecrest Rd., Campbell River, V9W 3P3
287-8097 (res.)
John Bovey, Provincial Archivist, Victoria, V8V 1X4
387-3621 (bus.)
Maureen Cassidy, Editor, B.C. Historical News, 2781 Seaview Rd.,
Victoria, V8N 1K7
477-6283 (res.)
Chairmen of Committees:
Historic Trails: John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Rd., North Vancouver, V7R 1R9
Place Names Committee: Winnifred Weir, Box 774, Invermere, VOA 1K0
342-9562 (res.)
B.C. Historical News Ruth Barnett, 680 Pinecrest Rd., Campbell River, V9W 3P3
Policy Committee: 287-8097 (res.)
Publications Assistance Committee (not involved with B.C. Historical News):
Helen Akrigg, 4633 W. 8th Ave., Vancouver, V6R 2A6
228-8606 (res.) Snapshots of the
1983 B.CH.A.
Annual Convention
held at New Westminste


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