British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1985

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 Published by the British Columbia Historical Federation
VOLUME 18, No. 4
Active Pass Lighthouse, ca. 1893 On the cover:
The Active Pass Lightstation was the sixth lighthouse built on the West Coast It celebrates one hundred
years of service this year. Story on page 5.
Member societies and their secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct addresses
for their society and for its member subscribers are up-to-date. Please send changes to both
the treasurer and the editor whose addresses are at the bottom of the next page. The Annual
Report as at October 31 should show a telephone number for contact.
Member dues for the year 1984-85 (Volume 18) were paid by the following member
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
BCHF — Gulf Islands Branch, c/o Mrs. Ann Johnston, RR 1 Mayne Island VON 2J0
BCHF—Victoria Branch, c/o Zane Lewis, 1535 Westall Avenue, Victoria, B.C. V8T 2G6
Burnaby Historical Society, c/o 5406 Manor St., Burnaby, B.C. V5G 1B7
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
Creston & District Historical & Museum Society, P.O. Box 1123, Creston, B.C. VOB 1G0
District 69 Historical Society, P.O. Box 213, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2S0
East Kootenay Historical Association, c/o H. Mayberry, 216 6th Avenue S., Cranbrook,
B.C. VIC 2H6
Galiano Historical and Cultural Society, P.O. Box 10, Galiano, B.C. VON IPO
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1H0
Hedley Heritage, Arts & Crafts Society (1983), P.O. Box 218, Hedley, B.C. VOX 1K0
Ladysmith New Horizons Historical Society, c/o Mrs. V. Cull, R.R. #2, Ladysmith,
B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, c/o Susan Crayston, 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, RR 1, Box 5, Kinghorn Rd., Nanoose Bay,
B.C. VOR 2R0
Nootka Sound Historical Society, Box 748, Gold River, B.C. VOP 1G0 (Inactive)
North Shore Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Elizabeth L. Grubbe, 623 East 10th Street,
North Vancouver, B.C. V7L 2E9
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum and Archives, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society, c/o Mrs. Cora Shipsey, P.O. Box 352,
Qualicum Beach, B.C. VOR 2T0
Saltspring Island Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Olive Clayton, RR 3, Comp. 4, Scott Pt. #1,
Ganges, B.C. VOS 1E0
Sidney and North Saanich Historical Society, c/o B. Peirson, 9781 Third Street,
Sidney, B.C. V8L 3A5
Silvery Slocan Historical Society, P.O. Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG ISO
Trail Historical Society, P.O. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Valemount Historical Society, P.O. Box 850, Valemount, B.C. VOE 2A0
Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
West Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 91785, West Vancouver, B.C. V7V 4S1
Windermere District Historical Society, Box 784, Invermere, B.C. VOA 1K0
Affiliated Croups
B.C. Museum of Mining, P.O. Box 155, Britannia Beach, B.C. VON 1J0
City of White Rock Museum Archives Society, 1030 Martin St., White Rock, B.C. V4B 5E3
Fort Steele Heritage Park, Fort Steele, B.C. VOB 1N0
The Hallmark Society, 207 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2K8
Nanaimo Centennial Museum Society, 100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2X1 BRITISH COLUMBIA -—
Letters to the Editor     4
Active Pass Lightstation Centennial
by Marie Elliott     5
P.M.L. #14: The Pride of the Provincial Police Forces Marine Division Fleet by R.G.
Patterson    8
Price's Mill, Keremeos, B.C.
by Linda Eversole  10
Susan Louisa Moir Allison, "Mother of the Similkameen"
by Margaret Stoneberg     12
Walter Moberly—B.C.'s Pioneer Engineer
by Geoffrey Castle     15
News and Notes
Annual Reports     17
British Columbia Historical News Back Issues    21
Requiescat in Pace     22
Convention Characters     23
Report on the 1985 Annual BCHF Convention   24
Report on the Annual General Meeting 1985   26
Scholarship Fund   26
Publication Assistance Fund     26
Extracts from the Treasurer's Annual Report   27
Archives/Museums—Britannia Mines Concentrator     28
Writing Competition  31
Winner of the best historical article published in B.C.H. News  31
Letters from Windermere, 1912-1914, edited by R. Cole Harris and Elizabeth Philips;
review by Frances Gundry  32
Crowing Up British in British Columbia: Boys in Private School by Jean Barman; review by
Richard Mackie    33
Contest     34
Second-class mail registration number 4447.
* Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E,
iVancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5. Our Charitable Donations number is 0404681-52-27. Printed by Prestige Printers, Victoria,
Manuscripts and correspondence for the editor are to be addressed to 1745 Taylor St., Victoria, B.C. V8R3E8. Send all
other correspondence, including changes of address, to the Vancouver address given above.
Subscriptions: Institutional $16.00 per year; Individual (non-members) $8.00 per year.
The B.C. Historical Federation gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the British Columbia Heritage
The Burnaby Historical Society is in a process of
compiling a list of Burnaby's buildings which may
have historical and/or architectural significance.
This inventory is made possible by a grant from
the B.C. Heritage Trust, employing a Simon Fraser
University student, Ann Watson.
Are you able to assist this project by supplying
any historical information on your home or any
other building in Burnaby?
Any information or assistance you can provide
will be greatly appreciated, please call Ann
Watson at 980-1945 evenings, or Mrs. Evelyn
Salisbury, Vice President of the Burnaby Historical
Society at 298-5777. Thank you.
Heritage Advisory Committee
Burnaby Historical Society
We wish to thank the Federation for having given
us the privilege of hosting the 1985 Convention.
We trust that those who voyaged to our Island
enjoyed their time here in equal measure to our
delight in having them visit us.
Precis of the papers presented will be available
in late June at a cost of $7.50 per copy, including
postage and handling.
Edrie Holloway, President
The Galiano Historic and Cultural Society
September 1,1985
Please submit all material for the B.C. Historical
News (except book reviews) to the Editor, 1745
Taylor Street, Victoria, B.C. V8R 3E8.
Book reviews should be sent to Dr. P. Roy, #602,
139 Clarence Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2J1
I wish to subscribe to B.C. Historical News. I enclose a cheque or money order payable to the
B.C. Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5.
Individual   Four issues for $8.00 ( )
Institutional   Four issues for $16.00 ( )
Page 4
British Columbia Historical News Marie Elliott
Active Pass lightstation Centennial
There have been very few lighthouse centennials
on the West Coast of Canada because until the
1880s only five lighthouses were in operation.
There were no lights north of Nanaimo, and none
to mark safe passage through the southern Gulf
A number of major shipping disasters off the
east coast of the Gulf Islands and increasing water
traffic led to the establishment of the Active Pass
lighthouse in 1885. It lit up on June 10,1885, and
remained the only guide through the maze of
islands for three years, until East Point Lighthouse
on Saturna Island was activated in 1888. The other
important Gulf Islands light, at Porlier Pass,
Galiano Island, was not constructed until 1902.
In the early years the Active Pass lightkeeper
used a fog bell to warn ships away from the rocks
until a steam foghorn was built in 1893. The fixed
light burned coal oil, and was not replaced with a
revolving, vapour light until 1910.
The first keeper at the Active Pass station,
Henry "Scotty" Georgeson, a native of Walls,
Shetland Islands, went to sea as a young teenager.
He spent a number of years in marine service
before arriving in Victoria in 1858 to take part in
the Cariboo gold rush. Scotty later settled on
Galiano Island, where he fished and built boats
for a living. In 1868-69 he served as assistant
keeper on the Sand Heads lightship.
Scotty remained keeper of the Active Pass light
for thirty-five years, not retiring until 1920, at age
eighty-five. In 1922 he received the federal
government's Long Service Medal. There have
been only nine keepers at the Active Pass station
Scotty's Stopping House, Beaver Pass,
near Barkerville, built ca. 1862
since Scotty retired: George Georgeson, Arthur
B. Gurney, Clarence E. Carver, Hugh S. Gurney,
David C. Milne, H.S. Whalen, Elmer F. Cordoni,
Jack E. Ruck, and Donald DeRousie.
The present keeper and his wife, Don and
Tracy De Rousie, were born and raised on Mayne
Island. Don is senior keeper on the West Coast,
having served twenty-eight years at various
stations. In the year and a half since they returned
to Mayne Island, Don and Tracy have made many
improvements to the buildings and grounds.
l ™
British Columbia Historical News
Page 5 Page 6
British Columbia Historical News Left: Scotty and Sophie Georgeson. Then, as now, a
light keeper's wife was very important, for
companionship and to share the responsibilities.
On June 16,1985, the Gulf Islands Branch of the
B.C. Historical Association, with the participation
of the Canadian Coast Guard, local organizations,
the children and teachers of the Mayne Island
school, and Mayne Island residents, celebrated
the centennial on the lightstation grounds.
During the afternoon a commemorative plaque
was unveiled by Fred Bennett, Don DeRousie,
and M.H.O. Buchanan of the Canadian Coast
Guard. Special guests included: former light-
keepers and their families, and almost forty
descendants of Scotty Georgeson!
Scotty proudly shows off his medal, at age eighty-
Active Pass Lightstation and tower, 1985, taken from the same location as the 1893 cover photo by
Richard Maynard. The light was removed from the roof of the living quarters and placed in a
separate tower in 1969.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 7 R.C. Patterson;
The Marine Division of the British Columbia
Provincial Police had humble beginnings. The
earliest mention of a police boat on the coast is
the sloop Maybelle, skippered by Constable A.D.
Drummond. In this sloop Drummond made his
patrols of the islands and the inlets of the
southern Gulf Islands in the 1890s.
After the major re-organization of the
Provincial Police Force in 1923, the Marine
Division began to expand. Soon there were patrol
boats stationed at strategic points along the coast
of British Columbia. These boats were easily
recognized with their pearl-grey paintwork,
"Blue Ensign", the British Columbia Provincial
Police Pennant, and the letters P.M.L. (Police
Motor Launch) followed by a number on the
bow. Each patrol boat varied in construction and
size to fit the needs of the area it served. Similarly,
crews varied depending upon the patrol being
made and the work to be done.
Each P.M.L. carried a skipper who was the
senior officer in charge, an engineer and, if large
enough, a radio operator, a cook, and N.C.O.'s
and constables to do the deck-hand work.
The 93-foot P.M.L. #14 was built in 1930 at the
Shelbourne Shipyards Limited, Shelbourne, Nova
Scotia, and christened the Margaret S. II. She
joined a fleet of rum runners operating between
New York City and the French islands of St. Pierre
and Miquelon, off the south coast of Newfoundland. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, the
ship was brought round to Victoria and offered
for sale. After Lloyd's of London declared her
sound, the British Columbia Provincial Police
Force purchased her for an undisclosed figure,
HMCS Ripple (Fishermen's Reserve)
Fin Bay, Rivers Inlet, 1943
and had her converted into a patrol launch. The
conversion work was done by Armstrong
Brothers of Kingston Street, Victoria. While there,
the vast hold that once held bottled goods was
turned into accommodation for a crew of five,
with additional facilities to hold five prisoners. At
the same time, the large fuel tanks were removed
creating space for two additional state-rooms and
a court-room aft.
Renamed, the P.M.L. #14 was commissioned
into the Provincial Police Force in July 1938. She
was attached to "A Division" and operated out of
Victoria, first under the command of Sergeant H.
Raybone, and, later, Sergeant F. Brooksbank. Her
patrol was the rugged west coast of Vancouver
Island. She remained with the Force until April
1942, when she was chartered by the Royal
Canadian Navy for the remainder of the Second
World War. At this point in her varied career she
Page 8
British Columbia Historical News British Columbia Provincial Police Motor Launch #14 off Victoria, ca. 1938
became known as H.M.C.S. Ripple and was part
of the Fishermen's Reserve.
The Fishermen's Reserve was formed in 1938 on
the British Columbia coast. It mainly consisted of
ships and men from the fishing and tow-boat
industries, whose knowledge of the coastal
waters was unique. When the Second World War
was declared, these vessels, armed with machine
guns, depth charges and minesweeping gear,
sailed for designated patrol areas off the coast.
H.M.C.S. Ripple's Patrol area was Johnstone Strait
west to Yorke Island, and the West Coast of
Vancouver Island. Until October 1941, and the
arrival of the first corvettes on this coast, these
small ships were the only naval presence on
Canada's West Coast. After the Japanese attacked
Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941, orders were
given for the internment of all Japanese-
Canadian fishing boats on the British Columbia
coast. Some of these ships became part of the
Fishermen's Reserve. At its peak, the Fishermen's
Reserve numbered 900 officers and men, and
more than 50 vessels of varying sizes. However, by
the end of 1944 the force was no longer needed,
and so gradually the ships and men of the
"Gumboot Navy" returned to their peacetime
On July 23,1945, H.M.C.S. Ripple was sold by
Crown Assets disposal to the British Columbia
Packers Limited. Re-named the Texada, she once
again underwent an extensive refit, this time for
fishpacking and related duties. After the
conversion, she hoisted the B.C. Packers'flag, and
has remained with the company ever since.
At the present time, she is tied up at the B.C.
Packers Celtic Shipyards, and is up for sale.
According to a company spokesman, she has not
been used extensively for the last two or three
years and, if the right buyer comes along with a
healthy offer, she will be sold out of the company.
In the meantime the ex-Margaret S., ex-P.M.L
#14, ex-H.CM.S. Ripple bides her time waiting for
her next calling.
R.G. Patterson is an Extension/Special Collections
Curator with the B.C. Provincial Museum
British Columbia Historical News
Page 9 Linda Eversole
In 1979, the British Columbia Heritage Trust
purchased an historic grist mill and store located
in Keremeos, B.C. The mill was built in 1876 by a
young Englishman, Barrington Price, and operated in conjunction with a store until the mid-
18905. It was then used for a variety of purposes,
which included a storage shed, chicken coop, and
artist's studio, while the adjacent store was
converted to a house. In 1974, the site was
designated by the province, and since its acquisition in 1979, work has progressed on the restoration of the buildings and the milling machinery.
The story of the establishment of this mill and
store begins on a warm September afternoon in
1872, when, according to the reminiscences of
Henry Nicholson, he and his partner Barrington
Price rode into Keremeos:
/ well remember my first glimpse of the
Similkameen Valley, when after a long and
fatiguing ride from Princeton (Mr. Allison's)
together with my partner Barrington Price
[We] arrived at the Hudson's Bay post which
we had leased as a stock ranch. It was a
beautiful September afternoon in the year
'72, the day had been exceedingly hot and
now as the sun was westering, the valley
bathed in a haze was so quiet and lifeless as
to be oppressive...1
By the following year their stock ranch had
expanded to include a store at Keremeos and a
"travelling post" to supply the needs of the
popular mining camp of Rock Creek. They preempted adjoining land, but in 1875 suddenly
announced the end of their partnership, with
Price taking over Nicholson's land and the sole
operation of the store.2
Nicholson stayecTin the area, and for a while
acted as mining recorder, while Price continued
to build up his ranch, acquiring more land
Barrington Price
including a 40-acre parcel on Keremeos Creek. It
was on this land that he constructed a small,
water-powered, log, grist mill and a second log
building for his store. A traveller passing through
the area in 1876 was suitably impressed by Price's
At Keremeoos [sic] we rested at the
hospitable house of Barrington Price. It cost
$5,000 and is a charm in the wilderness. The
wide hall by which you enter is Uke a cead
mile a failthe and the sporting parlor on the
Page 10
British Columbia Historical News right decorated with guns, hooks, and
fishing tackle, reminds you at once of the
romantic ideas boys in college conceive of a
life in the woods. Mr. Price has men
employed sawing lumber for a flour mill. It
will encourage the farmers to cultivate the
valley and maybe [sic] a very good
In 1877 the mill was completed and the
machinery, including grist mill stones, installed.
Production began in the fall and one of the first
customers was William Ralph, a government
surveyor who was busily recording the property
lines. In his diary he notes the purchase of two
bags of flour from Price at a cost of $10.50."
Apparently this early attempt at flour milling
produced a coarse, dark flour, adequate but not
as desirable as the higher quality flour which was
brought in from Colville in Washington Territory.
In 1881, in an attempt to improve the quality of his
flour, Price imported the latest in milling
technology, a "new patent" roller mill from
Louisville, Kentucky.5 The machinery now
included a Eureka Smut and Scouring machine to
clean the grain, a Barford and Perkins steel
grinding mill, the new patent roller mill, and a
variety of belts and conveyors, all powered by the
water wheel. Undoubtedly, the system also
included a bolter, which sifted the flour into
various grades. Unfortunately, the one from
Keremeos has long since disappeared.
By this time Price had amassed a considerable
amount of land, livestock, and of course the mill
and store. His success was short-lived, however,
and in 1881 he was forced to mortgage his entire
property to the Turner-Beeton company of
Victoria, to whom he was in debt.6 He apparently
defaulted on this mortgage and in 1884 the
Turner-Beeton company sold his ranch "The
Willows" to Thomas Daly. Price retained
ownership of the store and mill on the forty acres,
but the actual operation was taken over by John
Haning Coulthard, a wealthy rancher from
Langley who had purchased property nearby.
Price himself went to live in a log cabin on his
remaining property near the Similkameen River,
and kept a few horses and a small farm. In 1903 he
sold the mill and store to Coulthard, and returned
to England to live with his brother Capt. George
Barrington Price.7 By this time the mill was closed,
and Coulthard had converted the store to a
residence with the addition of two wings. By the
time he sold it in 1905, both the store and mill had
long since gone out of operation. Since that time
the property has had a variety of owners yet,
Grist Mill in the 1930s
remarkably, both buildings have survived well
despite their early age.
Although small, local mills of this type were not
uncommon throughout British Columbia, the
Keremeos mill is unique in the survival of the
building complete with most of its machinery.
The fact that the adjacent store has also survived
has provided a special opportunity to preserve
one of the earliest industrial/commercial sites in
the Similkameen Valley. Restoration of this site
has been underway for several years, utilizing the
skill and experience of various specialists.
Architects, researchers, archaeologist, and
technical restoration specialists have all
contributed towards as accurate a restoration as
possible. Unfortunately, no original records or
photographs have been located of the mill and
store and some conjecture has been necessary.
Although the restoration process will continue,
the site will be officially opened on August 5,
British Columbia Day, and all are welcome to
Linda Eversole is a Research Officer for the
Heritage Conservation Branch.
1. Hedley Gazette, Jan. 19,1905, p. 1.
2. Mainland Guardian, Oct. 2,1875, p. 2.
3. Colonist, Aug. 6,1876, p. 3.
4. Lands Branch, Victoria, Diary of William
Ralph, 1877.
5. Inland Sentinel, Nov. 2,1882, p. 3.
6. Victoria Land Titles Office, Record of
Mortgages Vol. 1, fol. 466.
7. Correspondence Barrington Price to Frank
Richter April 7, 1905, PABC - Richter
Collection, 741A.272.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 11 Margaret Stoneberg
Susan Louisa Moir Allison
"Mother of the Similkameen"
The writing career of Susan Louisa Allison
spanned about thirty years at the end of her life.
Writing her recollections, largely from memory,
she gave us a picture of pioneer life in British
Columbia, particularly in the Similkameen Valley
in the late 19th century. This was a period of
growth and a time of great change when early
customs were disappearing, both among the
Indians and white people. Susan Allison lived
intimately with the Indians and wrote about them
as no other white woman had done.
The story of this remarkable women is a
romance in itself. She was born in Ceylon, the
younger daughter of Stratton Moir. Of Scottish
extraction, he was a coffee planter; his parents
had also lived and owned property in Ceylon and
India. Susan's mother was Susan Louisa, daughter
of Jan Mildern, a Dutch sea captain of Amsterdam.
Before Susan was five years old, her father died
and her mother took her family, two daughters
and a son, to England. Mrs. Moir's income was not
large but her relatives were well-off, and they
made a place for her. Her daughter Susan was
placed in a good school in London, where she
showed a gift for languages; she became
proficient in French, Latin and Greek.
Mrs. Moir spent some time with relatives in
Scotland and here she met a charming man called
Thomas Glennie. He had recently come into
some money and he persuaded Mrs. Moir to
marry him and emigrate to Canada. The fact that
he had already squandered several fortunes was
ignored. The tales of a free land where gold was
abundant appealed to him.
Their furniture, suitable they thought for a
hunting lodge, was sent ahead by ship round the
Horn. Susan and her family took ship at
Southhampton, crossed the ocean and travelled
across the Panama Canal on the newly-built
railroad. They journeyed by ship again to Victoria,
and here Governor Douglas advised Glennie to
take up land at Hope. The family landed there on
Susan's fifteenth birthday.
At first there was much to amuse them. The
town was full of life. There were a Hudson's Bay
fort, stores, a church. They met the numerous
men who afterwards were important in the new
province—Peter O'Reilly, Dewdney, Moberly,
McKay—and the dashing Royal Engineers. Many
of these people became friends and were familiar
to Susan all her after life. Mrs. Glennie was rather
quiet and retiring, but her husband spent his time
in a round of dances, horseraces, and other
pastimes. Then his money ran out.
He built a cabin home, but the women had no
experience with housekeeping and found
pioneer conditions very hard. Glennie's few
efforts to farm his land were disastrous. Eventually
their credit ran out and they had to sell some of
their furniture. In the meantime the older girl,
Jane, had attracted the attention of Edgar
Dewdney and they were married in 1864.
About this time Thomas Glennie disappeared
and was no longer heard from. Before he left he
had disposed of the home and property, and his
family were stranded. Neighbours continued to
help out but the Glennies were becoming an
embarrassment. The son, Stratton Moir, who had
remained behind in England, decided to join his
mother and sister in Hope; but he contracted
yellow fever and died in the West Indies (1866).
Edgar Dewdney was much away from home
and his wife invited her mother and sister to live
with her in New Westminster. This young town
was to be for a time the capital of the Colony, and
life was quite lively. Susan was now twenty
years old and found employment with Mrs. Work
in Victoria as a governess. Then she came into a
small legacy, and she and her mother took a
cottage in New Westminster. After about a year,
when Susan unsuccessfully tried to earn money
Page 12
British Columbia Historical News by sewing, she and Mrs. Glennie returned to
Hope at the suggestion of a friend, Mrs.
Landvoight. They started a small school.
Hope was by then a quiet village. Monotony
was only broken when Hudson's Bay pack trains
passed through, or drovers brought cattle from
the Interior on the way to the Coast. One of these
was John Fall Allison, whom Susan met at Mrs.
Landvoight's home. In 1868 they were married.
She was 23 and he was 20 years older. There is no
record that she had any other suitor.
John and Susan Allison rode over the Hope
mountains accompanied by a few Indians. As she
said herself, she "entered into the wild free life"
that she thereafter always enjoyed. When they
reached Allison's home, a comfortable log cabin,
a couple of miles downriver from the confluence
of the north and south forks of the Similkameen
River, they were greeted by Allison's partner who
was less than pleased that Allison now had a wife.
Hayes disliked her and she returned the feeling.
This antipathy remained for years until the
partnership ended.
From now on her life was bound up with her
husband's and something can be told about him.
He was the son of a surgeon from Leeds, England,
who had emigrated to Oriskany, New York, in
1837. John received a good education, including
some medical training. He sought to make his
fortune and he headed a party of ten men who
made up to go to the gold fields in California. (The
1849 rush was at its height.) He found mining very
hard work and soon became a storekeeper and
later a commission agent.
Allison did quite well, started to send money
back to his parents, and even managed to go back
home for a holiday. In California again, he heard
about the Fraser River diggings and, armed with a
letter to Governor Douglas, he came north. He
arrived in Victoria on September 1, 1858, and
enjoyed the social life there. The next year found
him on the Fraser, not particularly successful, but
making about $5.00 a day.
The gold strikes in the border country, at
Similkameen and Rock Creek, caused Governor
Douglas some concern, especially about the
growing American presence. He sent a party of
men to investigate the Similkameen country and
he put Allison in charge. His report to Douglas
showed that the country was rich in gold, covered
with fine trees, and had many showings of both
coal and copper. John Allison himself was much
taken with the country, where the grass was six
feet high. He discovered a route through the
Cascade Mountains that was much easier going
than the one previously in use, this route remains
today as Allison Pass.
Douglas authorized Allison to put the trail
through immediately, and contracts to build this
road and parts of the Dewdney Trail to Rock
Creek formed a good part of Allison's cash
income for the next few years. He pre-empted
land and stayed in the Similkameen for the rest of
his life.
When John Fall Allison married Susan Moir in
1868, he and his partner Silas Hayes operated a
store and ran cattle, driving them to the Coast.
The miners had largely moved on to richer fields
and there was no market for produce. They
suffered competition from American cattle
ranches in the Thompson River valley area.
The first of Susan's fourteen children was born
the following year. As a pioneer wife she learned
to make clothes for her children, make
moccasins, braid straw for hats, strand and braid
lariats, plough (with help), and plant a garden;
bake bread, cure fish, dry venison and a hundred
other chores. She made two trips across the
mountains to Hope, but with small children it
became increasingly difficult to visit her mother.
Susan soon found that she had to learn Chinook
in order to talk to the Indians and this linguistic
ability enabled her to learn their ways and
The pack-trains came and went from Colville,
the Kootenays, Osoyoos and Keremeos.
Geologists were familiar visitors, as was the Indian
agent, J. McKay. Allison's was the centre of the
district, the post office and store, and almost every
man of any consequence at that time passed
through and stopped at Allison's. Susan was
hospitable, and their wives were her friends. She
had some books and was much influenced by
Longfellow's epic "Hiawatha", the metre of which
she used in her own poems.
John Fall Allison did not have an easy time.
After overgrazing in the 60s it was necessary to
winter the cattle in the Okanagan. He blazed a
trail by way of Trout Creek and, in 1872, moved his
family to Westbank. The daughter who was born
there was the first white child born on that side of
the lake. Mrs. Allison liked this place and did not
want to leave. She was one of the first, if not the
first, white person to record that she sighted the
monster in the lake.
There were four very severe winters when
Allison lost many cattle. Hayes had pulled out and
Allison was hard put to find ready cash to pay him
off. So the Westbank property was sold and the
family moved back to the Similkameen. Mrs.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 13 Allison came reluctantly. As she said, "Here I was
compelled to keep the store." She was much
engrossed in educating her children, which she
did herself. Sometimes a tutor was hired, but not
Disasters plagued the Allisons. In 1880 there
was an earthquake. In 1882 the stovepipe started a
fire that burned the house to the ground. Her
husband was away at the time but a neighbour in
Keremeos sent them flour, beans and bacon.
Susan lost everything, including valuable books
and mementos. No doubt she had a diary and
perhaps other writings. The home was rebuilt,
and it was typical of this woman that she said that
"money did not buy the essentials."
The next year they lost some of their cattle
which were wintering at Joe Linton's place at the
border. An American rancher adopted the
Allison brand and thus stole in a legal way. The
gold rush at Granite Creek (1885) should have
enabled the Allisons to sell supplies to the miners,
but they were in competition with traders who
packed in from Spence's Bridge and Nicola. John
Allison's ventures were marginally successful. He
was appointed Justice of the Peace for a time, but
was caught between two warring Chinese
factions and in the end it cost him $1400.
Worst of all, in 1877 he had an accident on the
trail and was unconscious for 30 hours or more.
He was never quite the same afterwards. At
another time a man was given shelter when he
was ill and the whole family caught his fever
(probably scarlet fever). In 1894 a flood carried off
the house and other buildings downriver. Each
time Allison started again and rebuilt and this he
planned to do again. But three years after-the
flood he contracted pneumonia and died.
During the time when Susan Allison lived the
life of a pioneer woman, it was evident to all who
knew her that she was a happy, contented person
who was interested in everything around her. She
studied botany and was knowledgeable about
local plants. In the evenings she told stories to her
children to entertain and instruct. When General
Sherman and his troop passed through the district
he wrote: "A rosy-cheeked woman, looking
younger than her age, with ten children, healthy,
happy youngsters. She appeared happy and
contented." This was the impression of all who
knew her. She was friendly with the Indians
around and she and her husband supported them
against the government on many occasions.
As her children grew up they spent much time
when their Aunt Jane and Uncle Edgar Dewdney
in Victoria. At one time three ot them were living
there and going to school. One became a
teacher, one a nurse. Jane Dewdney died in 1906.
As the time passed, the girls married and the boys
went off on their own, and Susan had a chance to take
up writing seriously. "In-con-mas-ket", her long
Indian narrative poem, was published. (Chicago,
Scroll Publishing Co. 1900). Her writings on the
Similkameen Indians were published by the British
Association for the Advancement of Science.
(Report 60,815, 1891). Her "Recollections" ran
serially in the Vancouver Province (1931),
republished in Canada West later (Barlee). She
contributed to the Victoria Colonist, the
Okanagan Historical Society Annual, and to the
local Similkameen Star. Inevitably, some of her
letters and other material have not been
After her husband died Susan had the house
rebuilt. In 1900 she and Edgar Dewdney tried to
promote her property as a townsite, but it did not
sell. This failure was partly because the property at
the Forks had been sold by her son-in-law, W.
Sands, to the Princeton Coal Company and this
site was expanding rapidly. Mrs. Allison tried to
start a school but the new Princeton community
had become large enough to support a public
Susan left the Princeton area in 1928 to live with
a daughter in Vancouver. Here she revived her
interest in Eastern thought and received many
visitors. She died in Vancouver in 1937 and was
buried in the Allison Cemetery near her husband
and some of her family.
This is a sketch only. Much more could be said
about this remarkable woman. I relied on A
Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia by
Margaret A. Ormsby, on the writings of Susan's
daughter Aurelia Angela Allison-McDiarmid,
"When Great Grandma was a Child" (1978) and
"Letters and Reflections of John Fall Allison"
(1977); "Some Recollections", Mrs. S.L Allison,
Vancouver Province, Spring 1931, "A Pioneer
Woman's Life of Struggle", Barry Broadfoot,
Vancouver Sun, April 27,1971 and my own local
research for the Princeton Archives Collection.
Margaret Stoneberg is Recording Secretary for
the B.C. Historical Federation, and Curator of the
Princeton and District Pioneer Museum and
Page 14
British Columbia Historical News LANDMARKS
Geoffrey Castle
Walter Moberly - B.C/s Pioneer Engineer
Walter Moberly was born at Steeple-Aston,
Oxfordshire, England, in 1832, but his parents
emigrated to Canada, and he was trained in
Toronto as a civil engineer. The gold strike on the
Fraser River caused Moberly to go West hoping to
find work in his field. He obtained a letter of
introduction to Governor James Douglas, who
asked him to report on the feasibility of the
Harrison-Lillooet route to the interior of the
Colony of British Columbia.
Accordingly, in 1859, Moberly made his report
to the Governor and advised that improvements
should be made to the portages from Port
Douglas to Lillooet. This report established
Moberly as the first professional engineer to
engage in public work, in what is now the
province of British Columbia. The field work was
carried out in winter, and on foot, in spite of snow
and wind. The explorer-engineer always
remembered that trip with some incredulity.
However, it set the tone for the massive projects
he would undertake in his subsequent
professional life.
Moberly was a practical dreamer, almost
obsessed with the single purpose of bringing the
West into the Canadian fold, and furthering the
development of British Columbia's rich
resources. To this end, in 1862-63, Moberly built a
portion of the Cariboo road, expending much
energy, and even personal finances, on a project
whose administrative problems more than
equalled those of actual construction.
In 1864, Moberly was elected to the Legislative
Council for Cariboo West and appointed assistant
Surveyor-General. While he was making
exploratory surveys in the Shuswap-Columbia
area, an event occurred which is worth
recounting. One day, Moberly, who was a crack
shot, fired his gun at an eagle in the mountains a
few miles west of what is now Revelstoke. He
missed and the bird headed off through an
undiscovered pass which Moberly decided to
explore. Eagle Pass was later chosen as the best
route for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which
would remove the Rockies as a barrier to the
linking of east and west.
Between 1871 and 1878, Walter Moberly
surveyed an incredible total of 47,000 miles for
railway construction purposes, which is a distance
equal to roughly one fifth of the mean distance of
the earth from the moon. Although he never
experienced or craved wealth, he made friends
everywhere, among whom were Sir John A.
Macdonald, prime minister of Canada, and Paul
Kane, the artist, who shared his intimate
knowledge of the terrain with Moberly.
Always an active man, both physically and
mentally, Moberly, in 1900, was still eager to work
on a highway or railway project should his
services be needed. At that time he came up with
a scheme and tried to gain the interest and
approval of the provincial government. His
proposal, which probably demonstrated his view
that railways were the panacea of transportation,
was to lay an eight-inch wide, flanged steel track,
spaced to accommodate wagon tires, particularly
in the difficult sections of the highway in the
Cariboo. His design was based on a similar idea
which the United States government tested
successfully in Pittsburgh and other places. The
main advantages were that a single horse would
easily haul 22,000 pounds on the level, and
negotiate ten percent grade with lighter loads.
Moberly also saw this modification to the
highway as a means to rapid travel for bicycles. He
envisioned horsepower being replaced by
electric power.
British Columbia Historical News
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Another benefit of the Moberly road scheme
was the reduced cost of construction. He figured
that the width of an ordinary roadway was 18 feet,
whereas the width for steel tracks needed only 8
feet, thereby saving considerable excavation and
filling. As with many apparently good schemes,
Moberly's proposal appears to have died—
caught between political considerations and
changing technology.
Walter Moberly's last big challenge was his
battle with cancer of the larynx to which he
succumbed in 1915, at the age of eighty-three, in
Vancouver. Several geographic features in the
Kootenay and Peace River districts commem-
morate this truly great Canadian.
"Good Roads Scheme," Province, 7 August 1900,
Moberly, Walter. Letter to James F. Garden. 3
August 1900.
Moberly, Walter. Letter to C.E. Pooley, 18 August
Moberly, Walter. Sketch for Steel Track Wagon
Roads. Add MSS 62 P.A.B.C.
Geoffrey Castle is an archivist with the Provincial
Archives of British Columbia.
Page 16
British Columbia Historical News ANNUAL REPORTS 1985
Alberni District Historical Society North Shore Historical Society
There were seven monthly meetings at which we
had the following speakers: Laurie Caron from
the local fish hatchery, illustrated with slides; Fred
Bishop whose family arrived in the valley 100 years
ago; Joe Van Bergen on the history of our local ski
club. He presented us with scrap books covering
this time. Dwayne Partee came from MacMillan
Bloedel, Nanaimo, with a very interesting account
of map-making, illustrated with slides and maps.
We continue to work on our archives every
Monday and Thursday. We are very fortunte in
having space in the Museum which is humidity
controlled, etc. In a joint endeavour the Museum
provided us with ample map storage drawers and
we are in the process of sorting and filing the
considerable map collection. Fourteen members
have become both efficient and proficient in the
various phases of archives collections.
We have 63 members including three Life
Members: Ketha Adams, Helen Ford, and
George Clutesi. Our April meeting was in the
form of a birthday party—20 years—and was held
in the Museum Conservatory. The Alberni Valley
Rescue Squad took this opportunity to present us
with a microfilm of all their scrap books. We had
various gifts in the form of what we call "paper
treasures". Sixty people, members and former
members and guests were present.
On June 29,1985, it is 125 years since the "Meg
Merrilees" first came up the Alberni Canal to
establish the Anderson Mill on our waterfront.
We are in the process of having a plaque made,
commemorating this event which led to the first
white settlement in the Valley. The plaque will
show the mill, oxen pulling logs, and the Indian
village that was on the site. We have permission to
place it at our new attraction on the waterfront:
Alberni Harbour Quay which is located at the
exact spot where the mill was built.
We have had nine meetings in the past year,
mostly at the North Vancouver City Library, with
an average attendance of 30 people. During the
year we received nine Newsletters, edited by
Rhea Juvik. Several people join the Society just to
get the Newsletters.
On July 2nd, 1984, we celebrated Canada Day
with a bus-trip to Ladner, B.C., where we were
given a conducted tour by Matt Rogers; we
visited Deas Island Park, new site of the historic
house, "Burrvilla," originally built in 1905.
At a Christmas Party, we celebrated our ninth
anniversary as a Society. Old-fashioned parlour-
games were followed by tasty refreshments and
"Pink Party Punch" served from a punch-bowl.
In February, 1985, we made our annual
pilgrimage to the "Station Museum" in Mahon
Park, a "must see" for any visitor to our North
Shore of Burrard Inlet. This time we were treated
to pictures and other memorabilia of the Cates
Towing Company, dating from 1914; a display
depicting a bicycle shop of the 1920s era, and
another of radios from 1925 onwards.
Also in February, we celebrated the birthday of
our honorary member, Walter MacKay Draycott,
who became 102 on February 24th, 1985. He was
called on in his home by the Mayor of the City of
North Vancouver and by the Mayor of the District
of North Vancouver.
During the past year, four or five members of
our Society appeared on the Community
Television program, "Our Pioneers and
Neighbours", produced by Shaw Cable 10. Our
member, Olga Ruskin, has frequently been a
most able interviewer.
The North Shore Heritage Advisory Committee
has submitted its report to the Mayors and
Councils of the three North Shore municipalities.
Let us hope that By-laws will soon designate the
list of buildings recommended in the report for
—David C. Grubbe, Program Chairman
British Columbia Historical News
Page 17 route at the treatment given to the "wounded". It
was decided to delay another Fashion Show until
1986 and for Expo year, a fashion show and ethnic
dancing is planned. We also hope to stage a
Blossom Time Tour (hopefully May 1,1986) which
will incorporate historical buildings in the area
and the beauty of the Cowichan Valley.
Representation at the Heritage Conference '84
and the B.C. Museums Annual Conference was
made by our Society.
The Board of Officers spent much time in
attempting to obtain permanent quarters for our
museum and this will continue until suitable
space is found.
The financial status of our Society has been
maintained, as has our membership. We hope to
attract more members and thus enlarge our
activities in the future.
Vancouver Historical Society
The Vancouver Historical Society had a full
program of speakers for our past season.
Our first speaker was Dan Cornejo, Vancouver's Heritage Conservation Officer, who told us
of the heritage building inventory his office was
planning (this came out in March with
approximately 2,500 entries).
Lynne Bowen, author of Boss Whistle spoke to
us on using oral history for writing a book.
In November one of our members, Dr. Jean
Barman, showed slides and talked about Growing
Up British in British Columbia, which is the title
of her book on private boys' schools in the
In January, Maurice Hodgson, author of Squire
of Kootenay West, reminisced about Bert
For February we had a panel of Louise May,
Veronica Strong-Boag, Keith Ralston, and Robert
McDonald tell us of their forthcoming book about
working lives in Vancouver 1886-1986.
Francis Rattenbury's architecture was the topic
of our March lecture with Anthony Barrett and
Rhodri Liscombe, authors of Francis Rattenbury
and British Columbia.
Our April talk was by Don Graham of Point
Atkinson lighthouse, discussing lighthouses
illustrated with historic slides.
At our A.G.M. last May, George Shaw showed
slides of Stanley park taken during the years he
worked in the Park.
Our Incorporation Day celebration on April 6
at the Maritime Museum was enlivened by Phil
and Hilda Thomas and their songs of Vancouver.
He is the compiler of Folk Songs of British
Columbia. Our Annual Award was given to
EveJyn Atkinson for her tenacity in pushing for
the restoration of Engine 374—the engine which
brought the first train into Vancouver. Our main
speaker was Hugh Pickett, impresario for Famous
Artists. He related stories of many of the stars he
had brought into Vancouver.
The Vancouver Centennial year is uppermost
in the minds of Vancouver Historical Society
members. Our contribution to the celebration
will be the publication, we hope, by November
this year of a bibliography of Vancouver. Five
years ago Elizabeth Walker presented the idea to
the Society and three years ago Linda Hale was
given the task of gathering the material.
Combined efforts of paid staff and volunteers
have assembled approximately 12,000 entries. Jill
Rowland, chairman of the committee, and
researchers are looking forward to this
Elizabeth Walker is chairman of another of our
Centennial projects, "The Voices of False Creek
& Fairview Slopes". The committee has hired an
interviewer to tape the memories of those who
worked in the industries on the Creek, and the
people who live on the Slopes. This area of
Vancouver has changed from a quiet waterway
of 100 years ago, to a major industrial heart in the
new city, then evolved as the "in" place to live in
condos and townhouses on the south side of the
inlet and the slopes, with the exciting Expo 86 site
on the north shore and eastern end.
Janet Bingham was chairman of the Park site 19
and Roedde House committee. Recently they
formed a separate society to forward this major
project. A city block had been purchased by the
Vancouver Parks Board. Some houses have been
demolished, and one house, Roedde House, will
be restored to 1890s style. A turn of the century
garden will be incorporated; space for
community activities will be made in another
house. People will live in the remaining
apartments. This will be an ongoing project of a
few vears.
Our final project, under Mary Rawson, is a
search for "Vancouver's Citizen of the Century".
Forms are out and response has been excellent.
Mary and her appointed judges are looking for
someone, dead or alive, who has made an
outstanding contribution to Vancouver in the
past 100 years.
Page 18
British Columbia Historical News We have an active committee of Anne Yandle,
Jill Rowland and Dorothy Shields, who are
planning the BCHF Conference in Vancouver for
May 1986.
—Peggy Imredy
Golden & District Historical Society
A Federal Works Grant enabled the Society to
hire three students for the summer, keeping the
Golden and District Museum open for July and
August, and doing several related projects.
Considerable work was done on the older
portion of the cemetery, and brush was cleared
off the museum property. Many pictures,
documents, ribbons, and other archival material
were encapsulated. The large collection of
photographs was indexed and cross referenced.
The students were kept very busy.
Many donations arrived at the Golden
Museum during 1984, putting pressure on storage
and display space. There seems to be a need for
expanding the building, and funding is being
sought for this purpose. Volunteers removed a
wall to enlarge the meeting room in the Museum.
There have been such excellent programs and
guest speakers that crowds turn out to every
meeting. Slide shows have included the history of
Donald; National Parks Centennial presentation;
Heli-Skiing in the Selkirks; and travel in Nepal,
the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
A picnic was held in Parson in June 1984 with
members of the Invermere Historical Society as
guests. The wedding of the young curator of
Golden's Museum took place in August 1984 and
was a real highlight in a very good year.
Currently the Society is co-sponsor of a reunion
of students and teachers of Lady Grey School. This
school served Golden families from 1909-1954.
Plans include enactment of the May Queen
crowning typical of the Lady Grey School years.
—May Yurik, Secretary
Chemainus Valley Historical
Society Annual Report
It was a busy year for our society. We are still in,
search of a museum as the artifacts, books,
memorabilia, etc., keep coming to us.
Our struggle for new members continues. We
have answered many letters asking us history
questions, and many more requesting our book
"Memories of the Chemainus Valley" which is
now out of print.
A number of historical functions were
attended, and we co-operated with several other
historical societies. The Victoria Historical Society
visited "The Chemainus Murals" and we hope
they will come again.
We presented a $300.00 bursary to a deserving
student, and will do so again this year.
Our Lamalchi Bay Pioneer Cemetery was
cleaned up to our satisfaction.
Our meetings are held in the historic
Horseshoe Bay Inn. This was the luxury stopover
between Victoria and Nanaimo in the 1890s and
the early 1900s. The old register shows many a
prominent Canadian and American name.
Thanks to many interesting people, we had the
pleasure of very fine speakers.
—A. Ginn, Secretary
Gulf Islands Branch
The Gulf Islands Branch, which includes
Federation members on Galiano, Mayne, Pender
and Saturna Islands, has had a renaissance over
the past year—expanding from about a dozen
loyal old-timers to over 70 members. Despite the
logistical problems related to all getting together
at the same place at the same time (something
that B.C. Ferries seems to be determined we
should not do) we have had six meetings.
Last summer we visited the Simon Fraser
University dig at the Pender Canal, which dates
back over 5,000 years. This fascinating work
continues this summer and is well worth a visit.
John Edwards, author of Romance Cookery,
spoke to us on his "Pepper Theory" of world
exploration. Doreen York organized a wonderful
meeting on Pender when half a dozen
representatives of old Islands' families shared
their memories of early events or of family history
with us. These were augmented with an excellent
video of old Pender homes. On another occasion
we visited the old Payne family home on Saturna.
On June 16th, almost every group on Mayne
Island will have contributed to the Centennial
celebration of the Active Pass lighthouse. The
Coast Guard has generously supported this event,
offering displays as well as paying for publication
of a centennial booklet.
—Ann Johnston, Secretary
British Columbia Historical News
Page 19 Nanaimo Historical Society
The year has seen an encouraging increase in
visitors to our meetings. The topic which received
the greatest response was the review of the
Brother XII trials by Provincial Court Judge Stan
Wardell, with an estimated crowd of eighty and as
many turned away! Also well attended was the D-
Day Commemorative Programme. Recalling their
own experiences, six local men represented all
the armed services involved.
Special reference to items of local interest were
included when Provincial Archivist, John Bovey,
explained the resources available in Victoria.
Natural resources were well covered by marine
biologist Dr. W.E. Ricker, on the pioneer trails
along the Fraser River, and Ted Barsby on the
availability of wildlife prior to European contact.
Shirley Goldberg traced the Canadian film
industry's trials and triumphs. Lynne Bowen
shared some of her recent research on the
Wellington Mines.
President Seiriol Williams remembered many
of the pioneers he knew as a child on Gabriola
Island, prior to a varied life which preceded his
medical career.
The annual picnic included a visit to the
underwater weapons testing range, with a visit to
the Nanooa Museum.
The Bastion provided shelter for the few hardy
participants who braved heavy snow to
commemorate Princess Royal Day. Don Sale filled
the dual roles of minister and speaker at the last
moment, and descendant Marjorie Jeffs called
the roll.
The Ethel Barraclough Memorial historical
essays were excellent this year; books were
presented to the students and their schools. One
essay was published in the local press.
The Nanaimo Pioneer Cemetery plaque will be
installed within the next few weeks. The burial of
a crew member from HMS Virago, a victim of the
Crimean War, will be included.
A Life Membership was presented to Mrs. Emily
Kneen in recognition of her many years on the
Several members assisted with the Heritage
Conference "Future of our Past" in May, Pamela
Mar as a guide of the downtown area.
Elizabeth Low received the City of Nanaimo
Heritage Advisory Committee Award this year.
Finally, a reminder that Nanaimo Retrospective
and Company on the Coast are available in
bookstores or through Nanaimo Historical
Society, P.O. Box, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2.
—Daphne Paterson
Page 20
East Kootenay Historical
Our Annual Meeting is held in the Spring at
Kimberley and our Fall Meeting in Cranbrook.
.. We are in phase three (final) of restoring the St.
Eugene Indian Mission Catholic church six miles
north of Cranbrook. We've secured funds from
government agencies and various business and
private donations. Thus far we've spent over
$60,000 and need another $21,000 to complete
We have worked on various historic projects in
the Fort Steele historic park, including cemetery
clean ups, graves of old pioneer prospectors in
various areas of East Kootenays and cleared
historical sites such as the Baillie-Grohman Canal
at Canal Flats.
Presently, we are exploring and improving such
trails as the Dewdney and Armstrong trails in the
Creston and Invermere areas.
Most of our members enjoy our four outings
each year when we visit and hear about ghost
towns such as Moyie, Wardner, Bull River, Yahk
and Lumberton.
We enjoy free advertising in our local
advertiser, thanks to Crestbrook Forest Industries
and occasional radio spots on local CKEK.
—F.V. Downey, President
Cowichan Historical Society
Our Society continues to foster public awareness
and interest in the history of the Cowichan Valley
in a variety of ways. One of our members is
appearing regularly on a morning radio
programme and another is working towards
programmes on the local television station.
Successful bake sales and a raffle were held
during the year which were financially rewarding.
A number of our members are faithful volunteer
museum attendants and we were able to obtain
the services of a qualified student during the
summer months, his salary being funded by
Federal Government.
Our meetings are exceptionally well-attended,
far above the national average for club and
fraternal order attendances. Committees for
telephoning, refreshments organization,
publicity, programme and ways and means have
been active throughout the year. A float was
entered in the Summer Festival Parade, the theme
being "Salute to Sports", and our entry being a
hospital room of long ago with wounded athletes
being attended to by very "competent" medical
staff. There were lots of laughs along the parade
Many back issues of The British Columbia Historical News are available through the B.C. Historical
Federation Post Office Box number. Copies up to Volume 14, Number 4 are 25<t each (except for Volume 11
Nos. 1 & 2 at 5$ each); Volume 15 copies are 50$ each; and Volume 16 and later copies are 75<t each. In all
cases postage is additional. The Editor is storing later issues beginning with Volume 16, Number 4. When a
back issue becomes a year old the cost is reduced to 25% of the cover price.
Please advise the Treasurer if the location of additional back issues is known.
Article(s) and Author
Glacier National Park, B.C.—1880 to 1970; John Marsh. Rose Skuki;
Michael Robinson.
Sanford Fleming; Mabel E. Jordon.
Trutch—Dynamic Road Builder: 4 letters; Ed. by CF. Forbes
Trutch—An Immigrant Journeys to a New Life; as above.
Lord Dufferin—Godfather of Confederation; H.R. Brammall
War and Patriotism—the Lusitania Riots; C. Humphries.
Death of a Railway; C. McAllister. [Kettle Valley Line] With the Nisei in
New Denver; G. Suttie.
Vitus Bering's Voyages; Jack Mcintosh. "Alberni"; E. Leslie Hammer.
Folk within the Sound of Big Ole; Margaret Trebett. Moran Dam; Doug
The Naturalists Discover British Columbia; Dr. Philip Akrigg.
Vancouver; the van Coeverden family; Adrien Mansvelt.
The town of Coevorden; Adrien Mansvelt. Armorial Bearings of the
City of Vancouver; Rob. Watt.
Kenneth McKenzie & the Origins of B.C. Agriculture; W.R. Sampson
British Columbia's Air Survey Story; G. Smedley Andrews.
A History of the Van. Public Library, Part 2; Gwen Hayball. [This is the
last issue with Mr. & Mrs. P.A. Yandle as Editors.]
The Coastal Logger as Seen in Some Novels; Ronald Woodland. Mrs.
Moody's First Impressions of B.C.; Jacqueline Gresko.
Chief Benedict of Boothroyd & Dept. of Indian Aff.; R. Ware. "Very
Dear Soldiers" or "Very Dear Labourers"; F. Woodward.
Recollections of Phil Yandle; H.R. Brammall, G. North. Early Coal
Personalities; Daniel Gallacher. Indian Reserve Commission of 1876
and the Nanaimo Indian Reserves: Terry Eastwood.
Bible and Booze—Prohibition in Chilliwack in the late 1800s; Robert L.
T.D. Patullo's Early Career; Daniel J. Grant. Prince Rupert, B.C.—
Adjusting to Peace after WW. II; Sheila Dobie. John Webber—A sketch
of Capt. James Cook's Artist; Douglas Cole. Lieut. Palmer's Precipice;
R.C. Harris.
Alexander MacLeod—Tofino Lifesaver; Debra Barr. An Infernal
Triangle (Richard McBride); Sheila Keeble. Jumbo Pass in the Purcell
Mtns.; R.C. Harris.
No. of
Feb. 71
Jun. 1971
7 no
>. 2 - Vol. 10 no.
Jun. 1977
Nov. 1977
176   .
Feb. 1978
3, 4
\ Apr.-Jun.
Nov. 1978
Apr. 1979
Fall 1979
Spring 1980
British Columbia Historical News
Page 21 4 Summer 1980
14     1   Fall 1980
2   Winter'80
Spring '81
Summer '81
Ranching in B.C. 1859-1885; John S. Lutz. Roads, Ranchers and Reds:
Politics and Ranching in 1894. First Gold in British Columbia; Elsie G.
Marching to Different Drummers; Jean Barman. (Public and Private
Schools in B.C., 1900-1950). Culture and Credentials (Teacher
Certification in B.C.; John Calam. One Room Schools of 50 Years Ago;
T.D. Sale. The Hope-Nicola Trail, 1875 to 1913; R.C. Harris.
Victoria Theatre Photographic Gallery; David Mattison. Sapper Duffy's
Exploration; (Duffey Lake) R.C Harris.
Gilbert Malcolm Sproat and the Origins of the Agent-General's Office;
Sheila Keeble. Impressions of Father A.G. Morice, OMI; G.S. Andrews.
Dewdney's Second Contract—The Seven Mile Cutoff; R.C. Harris.
Requests for back issues should be sent to B.C Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E, Vancouver,
B.C V6M 4G5.
The final resting place of the first governor of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island is a quiet churchyard
in Bouldre, England. Peter Porter, a member of the Victoria Branch of BCHF, provided the photograph of
Richard and Emily Blanshard's tomb, and the church nearby.
Page 22
British Columbia Historical News TH£ £AUANO CONVWVON MAY I9e5
Convention Characters
Fraser Wilson of the Burnaby Historical Society has treated us to another one of his Convention
masterpieces. If the shoe fits...
British Columbia Historical News
Galiano's Historical and Cultural Society planned
and executed an ambitious program for museum
workers, amateur archaeologists, and delegates
to the British Columbia Historical Federation's
Annual Conference. The Federation Convention
got underway with a welcome from former
president Donald New and his wife Nanette. An
Author's Table, set up in the Activity Centre,
featured local writers, plus some of the authors
who participated in the 1984 historical writing
competition, with their books for sale—
autographed and personally explained. The
evening of May 2nd concluded with a happy hour
where old friends and new exchanged greetings.
The Spanish in Perspective was a series of talks
illustrated with slides which took from 9:30 a.m. to
4:00 p.m. The opening speaker, John Dewhirst,
gave a detailed study of Natives of the West Coast
with particular reference to his archaeological
studies done for Parks Canada on Nootka Sound.
Jack Kendrick, who is now a resident of Galiano
Island, recounted not only the progress of the
early white explorers and traders in coastal
waters, but also the background of politics and
philosophy in Europe at that time. Dr. Christon
Archer of the Department of History, University
of Calgary, spoke of the Spanish Empire in the
Pacific, and British reaction against expansion
north of California. He highlighted the records
which show mutual respect and cooperation
between Spanish and British sea captains working
out of Friendly Cove in the late 18th century .The
perspective moved to the west coast of
Newfoundland when Selma Barkham described
the work which earned her the Order of Canada
and a gold medal from the Royal Canadian
Geographical Society. Mrs. Barkham did
archaeological work in Newfoundland and
extensive research of naval archives in Spain to
verify the visits of Basque fishermen to the Grand
Banks long before Christopher Columbus took
credit for crossing the Atlantic. Concluding
speaker was from resident Andrew Loveridge
who had just returned from Spain with fresh information on the life of Don Dionisio Galeano.
Saturday morning the participants were treated
to a talk on "Canoes of North America" by Philip
Shackleton, followed by Mary Ellen Harding who
told about Galiano residents from the time of her
Donald New and Robin Brammell
John Dewhirst, Jack Kendricks, Christon Archer, and
Selma Barkham
Saturday Morning
Page 24
British Columbia Historical News great-great-grandfather, one of the first settlers,
to the present.
Galiano hospitality included breakfasts,
marvellous sandwiches for lunch, and a banquet
cooked and supervised by James Barber. The
seafood prepared in exotic Spanish style served
with brilliant vegetables, and lean loaves of crusty
bread, was followed by delicious duck and a rich
The banquet hour was also the time for
presentation of awards. Barbara Stannard, at
home due to illness, was informed by telephone
that she had been made an Honourary Life
Member by unanimous decision of all present.
Winners of the writing competition were called to
the podium where they were introduced and
accepted their awards. Barry M. Gough, winner of
the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for 1984 for his
book Gunboat Frontier, was away in England. His
daughter Melinda, a student at Lester Pearson
College of the Pacific, received the medal from
Honorary President Colonel Gerry Andrews.
Michael Kluckner received a Certificate of Merit
for his superbly illustrated Vancouver the Way It
Was. Hilbert DeLeeuw and Connie Philip took
home a Certificate of Merit for their Heritage
Committee of Rose Hill Farmer's Institute of
Knutsford, B.C Competition chairman, Naomi
Miller, described the Knutsford history Bunch
Grass to Barbed Wire as the best anthology she
had ever read. Honored in absentia was the writer
of the best 1984 article in the Historical News, Kay
Piersdorff of Salmon Arm.
The Conference was attended by the Spanish
Consul Frank Bernard and his wife. The Spanish
element was further represented by Tomas
Bartroli, guest speaker at the banquet. Professor
Bartroli has recently retired from the Department
of Hispanic Studies at the University of British
Columbia, and now divides his time between
Vancouver and Barcelona.
Galiano Island, with its unique beauty, was an
unconventional site for the seminars, workshops,
speakers and field trips scheduled from May 1-7.
The Convention was declared a tremendous
success. Our newest member society deserves an
accolade for their imaginative program, roster of
famous speakers, and hours of work implementing their ideas to entertain over one hundred
guests attending the Conference and Annual
General Meeting of the B.C. Historical
—Naomi Miller
Mary Ellen Harding
Naomi Miller, Melinda Gough, Gerry Andrews
President Len McCann at Bluffs Park
British Columbia Historical News
Page 25 Report of the Annual General Meeting 1985
The Annual General Meeting of the B.C.
Historical Federation was held on the afternoon
of Saturday, May 4th, 1985 in the Galiano
Community Hall. President Leonard McCann was
in the chair. Delegates present represented
twenty member societies.
The Treasurer's report indicted the precarious
financing of our magazine. (Detailed report
printed separately.)
John Spittle reported on the creation of a
Recreational Corridors Department within the
Ministry of Lands, Parks, Housing and Forestry.
This government department is implementing
policy which will afford some degree of
protection and preservation of historic trails such
as the H.B.C. Brigade Trail in the Cascades, two
sections of the Dewdney Trail, and the McKenzie
Trail. Helen Akrigg distributed copies of the
revised application form for the Publications
Assistance Fund. Naomi Miller described the
mechanics of the writing competition and
announced the winners.
A delegate from the Valemount Historic
Society was welcomed. He presented a brief
report along with representatives from several
other member societies.
Vancouver Historical Society confirmed its
invitation to the 1986 Convention which they will
be hosting at the University of British Columbia.
Francis Sleigh spoke on behalf of the Mission
Historical and Heritage Societies to extend an
invitation for the 1987 convention.
A committee was struck to work with the Editor
of the B.C. Historical News to cut costs and yet
maintain as much quality as possible.
A motion was made to establish a B.CH.F.
scholarship for a student entering fourth year at a
British Columbia university taking a major or
honors course in Canadian history. The motion
was adopted to allow the Federation to appeal for
funds to endow this scholarship.
Frances Gundry acted as Nominations
Chairman. The existing council was returned by
Colonel Gerry Andrews agreed to be our
Honorary  President for one more year
Scholarship Fund
Help us establish a scholarship for a 4th year
student talcing a major or honors course in
Canadian history at a B.C. University. All donations are tax deductible. Please send your
cheque today to:
The British Columbia Historical Federation
Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 35326
Station E
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5
Publication Assistance Fund
British Columbia Historical Federation
P.O. Box 35326, Station E
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5
This Fund was established in 1980 with a donation from a member (and has been added to since) for the
purpose of aiding British Columbia Historical Federation members (groups or individuals) to publish
material relating to British Columbia history. The grants are made specifically to help to pay printing costs,
and are not to be used for other expenses such as typing or editing.
It is hoped that, if the sale of an assisted publication goes well, part or all of the grant will be repaid to the
Fund so that other members will benefit in the future.
NOTE—Applicants must have been members of the B.CH.F. for at least a year before any financial help will
be granted. March 1st and September 1st are deadlines for receipt of applications.
Page 26
British Columbia Historical News Extracts from the
Annual Report
For the last three years the Treasurer's Annual
Report has been lengthy—as such, it was an
attempt to provide information that would
stimulate members to greater support of
HISTORICAL NEWS and the B.C. Historical
Two years ago the magazine had: 1,176
Member Subscribers, 80 Individuals, 97
Institutions, and Sales of $623.55. This year the
numbers have fallen—to 802 Members, 36
Individuals, 33 Institutions, and Sales of $172.25.
The stimulation has not been very effective!
Member Societies and Affiliated
1. The Annual Return due by December 31st,
1984 has not been received from: (a) Creston and
District Historical & Museum Society; (b) Hedley
Heritage Arts & Crafts Society; and (c)
Windermere District Historical Society. The
Nootka Sound Historical Society reports "No
Members—still in Recession".
2. An Application to join the B.C. Historical
Federation as a Member Society has been
received from: (a) Galiano Historical and Cultural
Society; and (b) Valemount Historical Society.
3. An Application to join the B.C. Historical
Federation as an Affiliated Group has been
received from: (a) The B.C. Museum of Mining,
Britannia Beach; (b) The Fort Steele Heritage
Park; and (c) The Nanaimo Museum Society.
Your Federation Treasurer would be most
remiss if he did not acknowledge the ready cooperation from Member Society Treasurers
throughout the year.
British Columbia HISTORICAL NEWS
Cost of Production and Distribution
Subscriptions $4,143.00
U.S. Exchange
Typewriter Rental
REFUND of Federal Tax
paid on earlier issues
GRANT from B.C.
LESS Refund for copies returned from
$  221.44
DUES from Members $1,363.00
INTEREST (Investment, Bank) 1,143.86
On ace. of SPECIAL PURPOSE FUNDS    2,647.00
EXPENSES of Table Officers
(Supplies, Postage, Etc.) 353.42
On ace. of SPECIAL PURPOSE FUNDS   686.06
BALANCE in the Bank: on April 1,1984 was
$4,285.80; REDUCE THIS by $221.44 for the
Historical News, and by $148.08 for the
Historical Federation; the BALANCE on
March 31,1984 was $3,916.28.
ASSETS To the Balance in the Bank of $3,916.28
add the Investments of $17,000.00 for a Total of
$20,916.28. RESERVES for Special Purpose Funds
total $6,983.63. This leaves $13,932.65 for
general purposes.
British Columbia Historical News
Britannia Mines concentrator:
Canada's largest museum artifact
A heritage resource, what does it mean? To most
people "heritage" means a birthright, a tradition,
culture or characteristic inherited from the past.
Why preserve the Britannia Mines, and
specifically, why the mill, that dilapidated
structure with broken windows, leaking roof and
flood-damaged interior? The Britannia mining
operation (1904-1974) was a marvel in its day. It
was the first mine successfully to exploit a low-
grade underground copper orebody over such a
long time-span. Over 62,000,000 tons of copper
ore were mined from which more than 6,000,000
tons of copper concentrate were extracted. The
gravity-fed concentrator still stands as the main
surface feature of the old mining operation. It is
symbolic of the innovations and economies
achieved in all facets of the operation, and it is a
distinctive coastal landmark. As the value of this
heritage resource cannot be appreciated until the
story is told, the following is a brief history of the
Britannia Mines.
The Britannia Mines were discovered by
chance in 1888 but the prospect was slow to
attract local attention. George Robinson, an
American mining engineer from Butte, Montana,
visited the property in 1899. He was able to
convince New York City financiers of the
immense potential of the property. Access was by
tidewater, a mere 30 miles from the burgeoning
city of Vancouver. A four-mile horse trail had
been hacked through the dense mountain forest
from Britannia Landing up to the Jane Basin
prospects. One million tons of high-grade copper
ore was estimated. There was ample timber,
water, and a favourable climate. The Britannia
syndicate was formed of which Robinson secured
controlling interest in 1903. The next year a new
company, the Howe Sound Co., was formed and
it gained controlling interest in the Syndicate.
Then in 1905, the Britannia Smelting Co. Ltd. was
formed to purchase the Crofton Smelter on
Vancouver Island. Now operations could begin in
earnest. (Incidentally, the Smelting Co. and the
Britannia Syndicate merged in 1908 to form the
Britannia Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd., the
operating arm for Howe Sound. The success of
the Britannia mining operation was due largely to
the stable long-term ownership by Howe Sound.)
Meanwhile, under Robinson's direction early
development work began. Mine service buildings
and employees' housing were constructed at the
Jane Basin. New adits were driven. A true
community grew up around the mine. A four-
mile gravity Riblet aerial tram was constructed in
two sections to transport the ore down the
mountain to Britannia Landing, or the "Beach".
Here two mills were built, one for crushing and
one for concentrating. Transportation facilities
were constructed and a community grew up to
service both the mill and mine.
At the top of the crusher house ore was
dumped from the tram buckets into bins and fed
into large crushers, after which it was washed and
the fines fed directly into the mill for separation
and concentration. The coarse ore (2Vz inch) was
carried on a picking belt under lights which
coloured the copper sulphide in the ore black.
The fines which had passed into the mill from the
crusher house passed through trommels, jigs,
rolls and screens until they reached 20 mesh, at
which point they were ready for the Frue Vanners
and Whifley Tables.
The first ore was shipped to the Crofton smelter
in 1904, and in the next year full production was
achieved. The early years were beset with
difficulties, however. Robinson died suddenly in
1906, copper prices fell, and there were problems
separating the minerals in the ore using the
experimental new Elmore bulk oil flotation
In 1912 the production at Britannia was given a
boost by the arrival of a demanding and skillful
mining engineer from Ontario, James Dunbar
Moodie. The company of operators had given
him the authority and the capital (about
$5,000,000) to revamp every aspect of the
operation. During the next 10 years, he
successfully expanded operations and thereby
brought Britannia Mines into the first rank of
world copper producers. Although Mill No. 1 had
been modified and its production capacity
increased to 850 tons per day, increased ore
production from the mine and improvements in
the mineral separation process stimulated plans
for a new mill and a change in the smelting
Page 28
British Columbia Historical News eo
\i     -  . f
Britannia Beach in its heyday
arrangements. Mill No. 2 was started in 1913 and
completed in 1916. Built on the side hill
overlooking Howe Sound it consisted of six
stories and was capable of processing 2,000 tons of
ore per day. The mill crew numbered 83, of whom
25 were Japanese. The improved milling practices
and the lack of custom ore made it more
economical to ship the concentrates by water to
the ASARCO smelter at Tacoma, Washington.
The transportation system was also revamped. A
tunnel was driven from the mine through the
mountain at the 2200-foot level to connect with a
narrow gauge electric railway with switch backs
on the mountainside. The railway connected with
an incline and a skipway which transported ore to
the mills.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 increased
demand for copper and the price rose sharply;
this in turn funded further development. Then
disaster struck. On March 21,1915, an avalanche
of mud, rock, and snow crashed through the Jane
Camp, just as the men were coming off the
midnight shift. Fifty to sixty men, women, and
children were killed outright and another 22
people were injured. The owners ordered
construction of a new and safer town at the 2200-
foot level which came to be known as "The
Townsite" or "Mt. Sheer".
Moodie's drive and vision directed the broad
and farseeing program that made Britannia one of
the world leaders. He and George Robinson
before him, had received strong support and
financial assistance from the Howe Sound Co. But
with the end of the war, copper prices became
uncertain and Howe Sound issued orders to
tighten up operations. Moodie was recalled to
home office, after which he resigned, in 1920.
Further setbacks ensued. During a brief period
of shutdown in 1921 Mill No. 2 burned to the
ground. Just seven months later, on October 29,a
flood unleased itself on the unsuspecting Beach
community. Thirty-seven persons died and 15
were seriously injured. Once again a new mill had
to be constructed again and a new town had to be
The person to direct operations for the next 25
British Columbia Historical News
Page 29 years through a period of both peak and decline
of production was Carleton Perkins Browning, a
1913 graduate of Columbia University. Under his
direction, Mill No. 3, the mill that stands today,
was constructed in 1922. The million-dollar
structure was designed on lines similar to the No.
2 Mill with refinements and improvisions. It was
constructed of steel on concrete foundations and
comprised eight roof levels. Equipped with the
latest machinery, including 26 ball mills and
apparatus for differential froth flotation, it was
ready for the great industry that was to be carried
on within its walls. It rapidly became a prominent
feature on the coast landscape—a thing of
By 1929 the Britannia Mines were attracting
attention as the largest copper producer in the
British Commonwealth. Britannia was isolated
and linked to the outside world by steamer alone,
but with Browning and his wife Mary at the helm,
community life flourished. The social and
recreational activities were directed by the
community clubs in both townsites. Everybody
belonged. Everybody participated. Everybody
was employed.
The onset of the Great Depression in 1930
signalled another downturn in fortunes. But
despite the depression, operations continued
without interruption. Browning was awarded the
Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's
Randolf Bruce Gold Medal in 1931 for his
technical skill, organizational ability, and
remarkable leadership.
Zinc production was started at the East Bluff
and, in 1933, the first shipment of zinc
concentrates (containing gold) was shipped to
the smelter.
Meanwhile within the walls of Mill No. 3, the
mill superintendent, A.C Munro, carried on a
constant search for better and more efficient
methods and machinery. In 1935, two units of the
elevation-type classifier, designed by Munro,
were installed. Six years later, the primary
crushing process was improved by the installation
of a Buchanan Jaw Crusher. In 1938 and 1939, a
total of 122,000 tons of pyrite was shipped to
Copper prices rose during World War II. As the
war progressed the mine continued to produce
minerals for the war effort, but the work force fell
off drastically to about 400 because of men
enlisting in the armed forces and the lure of
better jobs in wartime industries. The Britannia
Mines became unionized and suffered through
its first strike in 1946.
After some boom years in the early 50s, when
the Kdrean War created a demand for zinc from
No. 6 "Fairview" mine, copper prices sank to an
all time low. The outside world came to Britannia
when the rail line was completed from Squamish
to North Vancouver in 1956. Two years later, the
Squamish highway was completed. Community
life could not compete with outside attractions.
Mt. Sheer emptied and eventually all the
buildings there were destroyed. For reasons of
economy, all operations for the mine were
moved to the Beach. The once proud Britannia
Mining and Smelting Co. was down to seven
employees and in 1959 went into liquidation, its
assets being taken over by the Howe Sound Co.
This was not the end for Britannia Mines,
however. In 1963, the Montana-based Anaconda
Mining Co. purchased the property from Howe
Sound Co., intending to use Britannia as a base for
its exploration programs in Western Canada.
Anaconda launched an aggressive search for new
ore at Britannia. A labour dispute intervened just
as the drills were intersecting mineralization in a
new ore zone. This new orebody proved to be the
carrot that brought the company and the union to
the bargaining table.
The mill was not left behind in the renewed
activity. The fine grinding circuit was remodelled.
By increasing the horse power and adding rubber
liners, the capacity of each ball mill was increased
and the number of mills decreased from 15 to 6.
The coarse ore bins were rehabilitated to
accommodate the coarse ore now being crushed
underground. In addition, the silica contained in
the coarse sands of the tailings was recovered and
sold to cement companies in the area. A new
precipitation plant to remove copper from the
mine water was installed at the "Townsite" to
replace the very successful smaller ones that had
operated there and at several other places on the
surface and underground since 1924.
Although 300 employees continued to produce
an average of 60,000 tons of concentrate annually,
the new ore reserved were limited, and rapidly
rising costs and increased taxation combined to
defeat efforts to keep the mine operating. The
rumors of shutdown become a reality and on
November 1, 1974, the whistle blew a three-
second requiem blast for the 55 men who went
underground on the last shift. During the 70-year
life of the mining operation, approximately 60,000
Page 30
British Columbia Historical News employees with their families called Britannia
their home. Their story is representative of the
key role of hardrock mining in the Western
Cordillera. Determined to preserve their story,
Britannia people commissioned a history of the
mining operation and planned a mining museum.
In the spring of 1975, the British Columbia
Museum of Mining opened its doors to the
public. Since that time a great deal of energy has
been spent on developing the museum and the
old mining property. In the words of Olive Baxter,
a Britannia "old timer", ... "as long as the
Museum remains open, the old mines will always
be with us."
Postscript: On May 20,1984 more than 800 former
Britannia residents attended a highly successful
reunion, including a lunch hosted by the B.C.
Museum of Mining, as part of this year's
anniversary celebrations. The Museum is anxious
to contact as many as possible of the men and
women alive today who lived or worked at
Britannia. Please contact B.C. Museum of Mining,
P.O. Box 155, Britannia Beach, B.C., VON 1J0. By
Marilyn Mullan, Curator, B.C. Museum of
Mining, and Dr. Dianne Newell, Department of
History, University of British Columbia
Winner of the best historical article
Kay Piersdorff
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites
submission of books or articles for the third
annual competition for writers of British Columbia History.
Any book with historial content published in
1985 is eligible. Whether the work was prepared
as a thesis or a community project, for an industry
or an organization, or just for the pleasure of
sharing a pioneer's reminiscences, it is considered
history as long as names, dates and locations are
included. Stories told in the vernacular are
acceptable when indicated as quotations of a
story teller. Writers are advised that judges are
looking for fresh presentation of historical
information with relevant maps and/or pictures.
A Table of Contents and an adequate Index are a
must for the book to be of value as a historical
reference. A Bibliography is also desirable. Proof
reading should be thorough to eliminate typographical and spelling errors.
Submit your book with your name, address,
and telephone number to:
British Columbia Historical Federation
c/o Mrs. Naomi Miller
Box 105
Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Please include the selling price of the book and an
address from where it may be purchased.
Book contest deadline is January 31,1986.
There will also be a prize for the writer of the best
historical article published in the British Columbia Historical News quarterly magazine. Articles
are to be submitted directly to:
The Editor
British Columbia Historical News
1745 Taylor Street
Victoria, B.C V8R 3E8
Written length should be no more then 2,500
words, substantiated with footnotes if possible,
and accompanied by photographs if available.
Deadlines for the quarterly issues are September
1, December 1, March 1, and June 1.
Winners will be invited to the British Columbia
Historical Federation Convention in Vancouver
in May 1986.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 31 Bookshelf
Letters from Windermere, 1912-1914, ed. R. Cole
Harris and Elizabeth Phillips. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1984. Maps, illus.,
intro., 243 p.
A quotation from Edward Lear introduces Letters
from Windermere—"The Owl and the Pussy-cat went
to sea/In a beautiful pea green boat/They took some
honey and plenty of money..."
In the spring of 1912, thirty-five year old Daisy Oxley
married Captain John Noel Phillips, who had just
resigned his commission in the British army. She left
her comfortable, middle-class family in Windsor,
England, to go with him to the Windermere Valley of
British Columbia. The Phillips had decided to take up
fruit ranching on land being developed by the
Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Company,
under the direction of Robert Randolph Bruce, later
Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. As Professor R. Cole Harris makes clear in his introduction, the
Phillips were not so much leaving the old country in
search of a new life, as they were going to a new
country to fashion their vision of an old life—one
which their income and capabilities would make it
difficult for them to continue to lead in England.
The reality of Lot 22—twenty-eight dry acres high
above Toby Creek, near Invermere, B.C.—was very
different from the affordable, transplanted, English
country life so seductively portrayed in the lite'rature
distributed by the company. The Phillips' experience—and, both explicitly and by inference, their
reaction to it—is chronicled in the letters Daisy wrote
home to her mother and sister, and in a few letters
written by Jack, rather in the style of military dispatches, to reassure and inform the Oxley family.
Daisy wrote mainly about domestic affairs: she asks
for advice on housekeeping, boasts of her advances in
cooking—"there is nothing I cannot fry now" (p. 24)—
and describes every inch of their new bungalow. The
letters will be a gold mine for those interested in the
domestic taste of the period. Denied the social life she
must have loved in Windsor, her liveliness also found
an outlet in descriptions of her new surroundings,
and, especially, of the people she met ("The great
thing here is to shake hands with everybody, and if a
friend is with you, introduce him on the spot." (p. 19))
While the letters are a delight to read, with
hindsight the story they tell is terribly sad. "The
scenery is certainly splendid and all that is written in
those pamphlets will be true in about a year's time;
but the place has grown quicker than they expected
and they are not quite ready for us," Jack wrote on
April 20,1912 (p. 10). Two years later, the settlers were
"all fighting Bruce and the C.V.I. Company for
compensation because our cisterns leak and we have
paid too high a price for our land." (p. 208) The Phillips
had learned a lot in those two years, but we can only
speculate on the course of their lives had they
remained in Canada. They left the valley at the end of
December, 1914, with their infant daughter, Elizabeth
(the joint editor of these letters). Jack died on April 18,
1915, of wounds suffered at the first battle of Ypres.
One of the many values of Letters from Windermere is the light they shed on the experiences of a
middle-class woman emigrant. In some ways, the
Phillips could live less expensively in the Windermere
Valley than in England; but they could not afford
labour, and they had emigrated to maintain a certain
style of life. Jack helped to polish the floor on
Saturdays, and wrote to Daisy's brother, "Our house is
so small and everything so much at hand, with so
many labour-saving devices ... that I hope Daisy will
find it quite easy as running a house at home with a
limited number of servants." (p. 104) Daisy wrote to
her mother, "the hard work that must be done
because there is no help, makes Canada a land for
men and a very hard one for women. ...Without
doubt all the men here love the life, but I think when
any two women get together and talk, from the
bottom of their hearts the tears always shine in their
eyes and they long for a 'general' and 'washerwoman'", (p. 152) Typically she added, "Of course,
this is just between you and me."
While Letters from Windermere should appeal to
all sorts of people, they will have a particular
fascination for those interested in the iconography of
the Edwardian English middle class, especially that
section of it which seems to fit so well Mavis Gallant's
description, "Not British but English. Not Christian so
much as Anglican." (Daisy's family, however, were
members of the Brethren.) Professor Harris, in his
introduction, describes the forces at work on that class
in pre-First World War Britain, brings out many
nuances in the letters, provides a biographical
background on the Phillips, and a brief history of the
Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Company. In
Page 32
British Columbia Historical News some respects, one could wish for more detail—on
Jack's enlistment as a private soldier when he failed his
Sandhurst exams; on the company's experimental
garden Daisy alludes to; on the backgrounds of the
other settler families and the fate of those who did stay
on, for example. (One hesitates to mention about a
volume edited by a geographer of Professor Harris'
stature that a map somewhere between the large and
small scale ones provided would have been useful.)
To Professor Harris, the particular interest of the
letters lies in the way they illustrate the "practical,
psychological, and cultural problems of home in a
strange place." (xv) Daisy's letter and the preoccupation with establishing a physical home,
which is increasingly their theme, were her "strategy
for survival." (xvi) He argues that by being removed
from the England, which recognized their position
and assumptions—by becoming "players without
most of their props" (xix)—the Phillips were led to
define themselves and the inhabitants of their new
world as much by ethnicity as by class. "In their new
home behavior that was implicit in England had
become explicit; ... the Windermere Valley had
tended to reduce the whole array of custom to a
leaner selection of symbols." (xix) This is a useful idea
to bring to bear on two other recent books which
have examined aspects of Britishness in British
Columbia—Patrick Dunae's Gentlemen Emigrants
and Jean Barman's Growing up British in British
Finally, the introduction places the Phillips in the
context of other immigrants to Canada who have
faced "the implications of coming to terms with here
when what one really knows is there..." (xxii) The
strains that transplantation imposed on Daisy,
revealed and partially remedied by her letters, are
evoked by the second quotation which prefaced the
volume: "Something of this being heard, I am/not
merely talking to myself, that is in the/wilderness, a
thing I could never bear to do/for any length of time."
(Samuel Beckett, "Happy Days".)
Frances Gundry is head of the Manuscripts and
Government Records Division of the Provincial
Archives of British Columbia
Growing Up British in British Columbia: Boys in
Private School. Jean Barman. (Vancouver:
University of British Columbia Press, 1984), Pp. viii,
259, illus. $29.95
This is possibly the most significant book in British
Columbia history since Robin Fisher's Contact and
Conflict of 1977. Some of the more remarkable
findings that introduce this exceptionally well-
documented book are of a demographic nature.
Between 1891 and 1921 some 175,000 Britons
immigrated to this sparsely populated province,
bringing with them institutions ranging from trade
unions to private schools, all of which helped define
British Columbia's unique social character. Between
1881 and 1931 the British-born accounted for an
average of 31% of the total white population; by 1951
this had dropped to 17%. In spite of a steady increase
in the numbers of native born and considerable in-
migration from the rest of Canada, the "Canadianization" process that occurred on a national level after
World War One did not apply with equal force in
British Columbia. Not until after World War Two did
the British influence wane, only to be supplanted in
the 1950s and 1960s with an overpowering American
cultural and economic influence. In some ways
Growing Up British is a nostalgic look at British
Columbia before Bullwinkle, Hawaii Five-O and
Growing Up British traces the origin and
development of some sixty private boys' schools
founded in British Columbia during the first half of
this century. Jean Barman expertly and adeptly
supports a wealth of statistical data with traditional
narrative sources, including interviews, to trace the
careers of the 7,500 boys who attended these schools.
She documents how the schools—initially intended
for British immigrants—were soon patronized by their
native-born offspring and by immigrant "Canadian"
families; and how several schools have, to ensure their
survival, adjusted their image in recent years from
socially exclusive "private" schools to academically
exclusive "independent" schools.
Barman stands well back from her subject: her
sometimes exasperating refusal to pass judgement
will, moreover, make the book of equal value not only
to old boys, but to educational, business, social,
immigration, and Marxist historians. Certainly,
Crowing Up British could be used by private school
advocates as a legitimation of the system. No doubt
the Victoria headmaster's parade drill instruction
"March as if you owned the world and had the receipt
in your pocket!" (p. 65) will be taken seriously by
some. And just as Peter Newman's The Canadian
Establishment was translated into Russian to display
the sinister composition of a capitalist corporate and
social elite, so this book might be translated to show
the ways in which an elitist institution spreads from
one country to another and propagates itself in fertile
soil. But this raises an interesting question. What
happened to the offspring of the majority of the 24,000
British middle or upper class immigrants who arrived
between 1891 and 1921? Not all immigrant parents
were able—or willing—to send their children to
private schools (p. 16). Were their offspring more, or
less able than private school children to maintain
"generational continuity" in occupational terms? Did
public school sons of lawyers become lawyers or
loggers? Barman states that this question is
"unanswerable" (p. 158) but it is unclear why detailed
research could not trace the careers of children not
attending private schools. Such additional data would
British Columbia Historical News
Page 33 provide this study with a control group drawn trom
the school population at large.
Because the book breaks so much new ground, it
calls for further or more detailed studies in several
areas, from the history of school and university
education in the province at large, to the process of
immigration to the Cowichan and Okanagan Valleys,
to the role of that ubiquitous character, the immigrant
Anglican clergyman in the province's political,
educational and cultural life. It also calls for further
analysis of private school teachers. Who were they,
and why did they teach in private schools? The schools
seem to have attracted several highly creative and
capable teachers in the decades prior to the
establishment of the provincial university. We know,
for instance, that journalist Agnes Deans Cameron
taught at Angela College, and later, novelist Irene
Baird at St. George's. In the absence of a university,
could these numerous and unregulated private
schools have served as safe havens for creative or
nonconformist men and women?
One of Barman's most surprising finds is that few
private school graduates went into politics. Most went
into professions, business, safes or service. But it is
unclear why, on the back cover, the publisher quotes
an old boy's contention that private schools "stifled"
["stilted" on p. 159] self-confidence and "contributed
to the general reticence in this country to take
calculated risks, which were basic to the higher rate of
industrial development south of the border," when
this theme is not developed further in the book. If
anything, Peter Newman's writings should have
dispelled the myth that Canadian businessmen are
any less acquisitive than businessmen anywhere else,
given even their reliance on resource exploitation
over industrial development. It is also unclear who
"Vancouver Island's leading colonial governor" was
(p. 24). But these are minor criticisms of an important
book that proclaims British Columbia's unique social
and educational identity; it is good to see Porter,
Clement and Newman's supposedly national patterns
of class structure relegated to phenomena "with no
more than a regional reality" (p. 172). In what other
ways is British Columbia's history unique?
Richard Mackie recently received an M.A. in History
at the University of Victoria.
Patricia Roy is the Book Review Editor. Copies of
books for review should be sent to her at 602-139
Clarence St., Victoria V8V2J1
Emily Carr strove constantly for artistic excellence, and we would like you to briefly do the same for the
Historical News. Your entry for this contest is a constructive suggestion for improving the magazine. All
entries will be eligible for the draw.
The prize is a handsome book for the lover of nature and landscape art, Sunlight in the Shadows, The
Landscape of Emily Carr, (Oxford University Press, 1984) with photography by Michael Breuer and teSrt by
Kerry Dodd. Please send all entries to the Editor, 1745 Taylor Street, Victoria, V8R 3R8. Deadline September
Page 34
Honorary Patron:
His Honour, the Honourable Robert G. Rogers,
Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia
Honorary President:
Col. G.S. Andrews, 116 Wellington, Victoria V8V 4H7
382-7202 (res.)
Leonard G. McCann, #2-1430 Maple St., Vancouver V6J 3R9
736-4431 (bus.)
1st Vice President:
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa. VOB 2K0
422-3594 (res.)
2nd Vice President:
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Rd., North Vancouver V7R 1R9
988-4565 (res.)
T. Don Sale, 262 Juniper St., Nanaimo V9S 1X4
753-2067 (res.)
Recording Secretary:
Margaret Stoneberg, P.O. Box 687, Princeton VOX 1W0
295-3362 (res.)
J. Rhys Richardson, 2875 W. 29th, Vancouver V6L 1Y2
733-1897 (res.)
Myrtle Haslam, 1875 Wessex Road, Cowichan Bay VOR 1N0
748-8397 (res.)
Mary G. Orr, R.R. #1, Butler St., Summerland V0H 1Z0
Barbara Stannard, #211-450 Stewart Ave., Nanaimo V9S 5E9
754-6195 (res.)
Marie Elliott, Editor, B.C. Historical News, 1745 Taylor St., Victoria V8R 3E8
Chairmen of Committees:
Leonard G. McCann
Historic Trails:
John D. Spittle
B.C. Historical News
Policy Committee:
Ruth Barnett, 680 Pinecrest Rd., Campbell River V9W 3P3
287-8097 (res.)
Award Committee:
Naomi Miller
Publications Assistance Helen Akrigg, 4633 W. 8th Ave., Vancouver V6R 2A6
Committee (not
involved                          228-8606 (res.)
with B.C. Historical
News):                             Loans are available for publication.
Please submit manuscripts to Helen Akrigg. British Columbia Historical Federation Convention 1985
James Barber
Top: Ian Hooley and Len McCann
Center: Tomas Bartroli
Bottom: Edrie Hollo way


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