British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1998

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Volume 32, NO. 1
Winter 1998 - 99
ISSN 1195-8294
Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
wt£inn      d'
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Box 313, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6M3 Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Volume 32, No. 1 Winter 1998 -99
Dear Readers,
This issue marks the end of an era. Your editor
has enjoyed ten years of processing a wide variety of writings on many aspects of local and
provincial history. I have met, or become "pen
pals" with citizens living in places like Fort Nelson, Atlin, Hosmer, Telkwa, Tofino, as well as
established historians in major centres, plus staff
and students at universities and colleges. We
have benefitted tremendously with an influx of
student essays thanks to Anne Yandle who upgraded the requirements for applications for our
$500 scholarship by asking for an essay or term
paper. The judges promise that the winner's
essay will be published; they also forward several more entries to the editor.
Your editor and her husband have carried the
responsibility of mailing this magazine - feeling
somewhat pressured by the frequently changing guidelines. Canada Post announced early
in 1998 that, in their opinion, we did not exist.
Our permit of twenty years standing, #4447, was
not on a computer in Vancouver or Ottawa	
because Cranbrook Post Office (a Forwarding
Centre for the whole East Kootenay) was loo
small" to be on computer. Having said that, no
one sent our re-registration forms until we contacted them a second and then a third time.
Those frustrations plus other factors prompted
us to seek a replacement editor.
Commencing in January 1999 Fred Braches of
Whonnock becomes Editor. We welcome him to
the roster of volunteers working to preserve history & heritage. See News & Notes for an introduction of this enthusiastic gentleman.
I will be contributing in a small way with News &
Notes plus B.C. Historical Federation reports or
Naomi Miller
Writing lessons were a regular part of schooling when we were children. In British Columbia
MacLean method was taught, Shirley
Cuthbertson tells us, from 1921 to 1996. The
illustrations from several of the work books appear on the cover. The General Movement Exercise is from Compendium No. 4 for Grades IV
& V, 1921. The Position of Arms and Paper is
from the MacLean Method Teacher's Manual,
1921. (Left handers were acknowledged later.)
Lowery PO'd    2
by Ron Welwood
H.B. MacLean's Method of Writing    6
by Shirley Cuthbertson
Walter Moberly: A Forgotten Pathfinder   11
by Barry Cotton
The Retribution of D.G.F. Macdonald C.E 14
by Barry Cotton
Lytton Alfalfa 17
by V.C Brink
Unapologetically Jewish: Unapologetically Canadian   18
by Carrie SchLtppner
Capilano Love Story    24
by Patricia Koretcbuk
My Dearest Harriet from Robert Burnaby 29
Fort Victoria and H.B. Co. Doctors   30
by Dr. Joyce Clearihue
NEWS and NOTES   35
Peetz; AReel for All Time     28
Review by Kelsey McLeod
Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs     36
Review by Kenneth Mackenzie
From Summit to Sea     36
Review by Robert Turner
Beloved Dissident Eve Smith     37
Review by Linda Hale
Hope and Forty Acres     37
The Forgotten Side ofthe Border        38
Reviews by E.L. Affleck
The First Nations of British Columbia 38
Review by Jos Dyck
Pioneer Legacy; Chronicles ofthe Lower Skeena        39
Mighty River: A Portrait ofthe Fraser        39
Reviews by George Newell
No Better Land: Diaries of Bishop Hills       40
Review by Phyllis Reeve
Manuscripts and correspondence to the editor are to be sent to Fred Braches, RO. Box 130, Whonnock, B.C. V2W 1V9 or Email:
Correspondence regarding subscriptions is to be directed to the Subscription Secretary (see inside back cover).
Printed in Canada by Kootenay Kwik Print Ltd. Lowery POyd1
by Ron Welwood
During Canada's formative years postal
service was provided through decentralized cooperative arrangements. This service was later formalized with the creation
of the post office department, one of the
first departments formed by the federal
government after Confederation (the government took over postal service on 1
April 1868 — a rather interesting day selection).
The mail service grew along with the
development ofthe railways and by 1857
there were specially equipped cars called
railway post offices. By 1863 the trial period for these travelling post offices was
over and an order-in-council established
standards for their use. Thus as the
Canadian Pacific Railway stretched across
Canada in the 1880s, national mail service
eventually became more reliable as well as
more readily available from sea to sea.
Railway post offices made it possible to
carry mail quickly over long distances and,
at the same time, to be sorted en route. In
British Columbia the mountainous terrain
inhibited a vast network of interconnecting rail lines, so lake steamers often
provided the best and most economical
links. In some instances, they were the
only links between communities. RPOs in
the southeastern section of the province
were located on the southern route ofthe
CPR through Crowsnest Pass and the
Kootenays to the Okanagan as well as on
the short rail runs and the connecting
steamers of the Kootenay, Arrow and
Okanagan Lakes.2 Thus RT. Lowery, who
had sporadic altercations with both the
Canadian Pacific Railway and the Post
Office Department, jeopardized the distribution of his newspapers when he criticized these two very large corporations.
Robert Thornton Lowery (12 April
1859 - 20 May 1921), frequendy referred
to as "Colonel" Bob3, was an eccentric
Kootenay newspaper editor, publisher and
financier whose acid pen frequendy got
him into trouble. His penchant to attack
the establishment became legendary and
in Lowery's Claim4 his biting sarcasm,
particularly against politicians and organized religion, eventually lead to a series of
conflicts with the postal authorities.
Although he had a Christian upbringing, Colonel Bob was not a churchgoer. However, he did have a humanistic
concept of religion which was graphically
described in The Ledge (New Denver):
"I have my own ideas in regard to religion,
but I ask no one to accept them. I believe
that every mind should be free to act according to the light within or without. I have
located a short trail over the divide to the
great beyond but unlike creed trails, heaven
is along mine at every step, and it is not necessary to die in order to get some of it. Other
trails, said to lead where Peter takes the
tickets, have all kinds of tolls and restrictions.
In fact some of them keep a man partially
broke all the while.
"All drummers for creed routes will tell you
that every one is born loaded to the eyes with
sin, and bound to be damned if it is not
eradicated with creed sarsaparilla . . . The
travellers along my trail each carry a pass
that entitles them to all privileges at the end
ofthe journey None of them believe that the
Creator is a fool or a demon.. .My trail has
plenty ofthe sunshine of love, mercy gentleness, kindness and other rays of light that
bless and sweeten those who travel it. None
of the pilgrims believe that God runs for the
elect an eternal picnic of song honey and
harps on a golden floor upstairs, while in
the basement a heavenly Cape Nome is in
operation, where the ice never clinks in the
glass, and everybody has teeth, while the sulphur smokes eternally They could not believe
that God represented as being all-powerful,
would be so wicked as to keep untold millions in torment when a wave of his hand
would close up hell forever. Only man, poor,
weak, cowardly unregenerate man could
ever have created such a place. Poor man!
what a sucker he is sometimes.
"Along my trail there are no costly churches
built by people who live in poverty and
whose children often suffer for food let alone
education, while bishop and lesser clerical
lights live on the tenderloin steaks the of
land None of my pilgrims wear their pantaloons out at the knees praying for God to
change his program to suit their ideas or desires.. . . It is a pleasant road that I have
built, with others, to that great territory from
whence no prospector has ever returned ..
(9 August 1900)
This creed was rephrased and published
in The Ledge three years later
"Our Creed In order to satisfy those who
are anxious to know our creed we give it
herewith: Fear and superstition is not religion. Belief without proof is not religion.
Faith without fact is not religion. What is religion? To love justice, to long for the right, to
lave mercy to pity the suffering, to assist the
weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits — to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter
honest words, to love liberty and fight slavery
of every kind; to make a happy home, to love
the beauty of art and nature, to cultivate the
mind to be familiar with the mighty
thoughts expressed by genius, the noble deeds
of all the world; to cultivate courage and
cheerfulness and make others happy to fill
lift with the splendor of generous acts, the
warmth of loving words; to discard error, destroy prejudice, to cultivate hope, to do the
best that can be done, and then to be resigned — This is the religion of reason, the
creed of science, and satisfies the heart and
brain. We believe in this creed even if occasionally our feet stray from the trail and .
strike the rocks out in the brush." (27 August
In June 1901, Lowery launched his
monthly publication, Lowery's Claim, in
New Denver. Although Number One is
no longer available for perusal, the next
issue (July) stated "LOWERY'S CLAIM, my
latest journalistic baby met with a warm reception. . . has caused all kinds of remarks..
. A few have been cruel enough to say that
it is not legitimate, while. . .   its coming
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Volume X. Nimimr Sfi.
I'jiktc ?2.00 Year, At,v?»-
means the destruction of much that is evil in
state, church and society It is growing
rapidly and never cries for government pap..
. .It has a cast-iron constitution, and expects
as it comes down the pike of age to fight
many a battle with the foes of truth. If it
should fall and be buried beneath the heavy
sod of public opinion its papa will not weep
but keep a-going."
Evidendy Lowery fully expected criticism and opposition. This journal was devoted to Truth and Humor5 and "Many
tenderfeet, both east and west, have been
shocked by reading the first issue of this
journal If they will take the treatment regularly their minds will soon be freed from the
cobwebs of fear and the pollywobbles of
slavish customs". Almost every page of this
issue contained what some might have
considered offensive articles as the following sample of bylines indicates: "To
Kill a Woman's Love" (a cynical view of
marriage), "Creed Slaves", "Sexual
Starvation" (remember this is the era of
Victorian civility), "Protection from
Priests" and "Grandma Warns Us" (a satire
from "Grandma Gumption" warning that
"People are bound to read the CLAIM,
Thornton. The very ones who make the
biggest fuss, about its vulgarity will read it
first to gratify their purient curiosity about
the things they think are shameful. . .but I
warn you Thornton, you can't publish a
paper like that an not git yourself talked
Each issue continued to mock "creed
promoters", "gospel mills" and the "amen
corner" ("When a man prays he gently insinuates that God does not know his own
business, or else has a short memory " March
1902). It appeared that Lowery was deliberately asking for trouble by this constant
goading6; and a piqued Bella Chadwick
wrote to the editor of the Nelson Daily
Miner "It is a pity there are not enough respectable women to get together, and give the
editor of that low, paltry filthy monthly
paper published lately a sound whipping in
public for his insults. (I might suggest they
wear gloves during the process). . . the thing
that edits it... having such a mean, beastial
puny little mind " (4 August 1901)
Around December 1901 the Canadian
Pacific Railway began its boycott of
Lowery's Claim by not allowing the
journal to be sold on its trains.7 One year
later the Post Office Departments attention ". . . was called to the contents of this
publication by different people in British
Columbia, and that an examination ofthe
paper made at that time showed it to contain
articles offending against decency and good
morals, in consequence of which it was, on
13 January 1903, prohibited from transmission by post. '*
Since Lowery was also publishing his
weekly newspaper, The Ledge (New
Denver), it was easy to use this alternative
vehicle to thwart the Post Office
Department and vent his anger "The
mailed hand has struck a blow at freedom
and pushed Lowery's Claim sub rosa... The
mission of Lowery's Claim is largely with a
view to showing up the false system under
which we live. . . .For being this kind of a
paper the mailed hand has struck it a blow
like a cold blast from Russia ...It is the most
truthful journal in Canada, and has been
endorsed by thousands of people, some of
whom are Ministers. It has been condemned
by thousands who are too bigoted to appreciate it, too ignorant to understand it, or too
crooked to read it without trembling. To
wrong thinking people its every issue has
been like senna with wormwood as a
chaser." (29 January 1903) Lowery also
publicly scorned the Post-Master General,
Sir William Mulock', even while appealing the department's decision. His arguments and promise to be of no further
trouble were successful and Lowery's
Claim was reinstated with mailing privileges within a matter of weeks.10
During these trying times Lowery received regional as well as international
support"; and, although victorious, only
four more issues of Lowery's Claim were
published (March - June 190312) It then
was voluntarily suspended for a litde over
two years. Perhaps Colonel Bob needed a
rest from the turmoil. He made a trip to
the "cent belt" (Ontario) to visit his
mother and old acquaintances and, also,
Lowery's other ventures required his attention - between 1903 and 1905, he started
publications in Nelson, Poplar, and
"Lowery's Claim has risen from the dead,
and for the second time spreads its wings over
the earth. Refreshed after a sleep of 23
months. . . .it will proceed to toast the evils
of church, state and society in the flames of
satire, sarcasm and ridicule... It tips its hat
to no man merely because he wears a white
cravat, hammers a pulpit with rhythmic precision and bellows to Jesus like a Missourian
calling the hired help to supper. It respects all
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 ^a, monthly'journal that yon do not
mwt ov«ry day. Tte home Urn tbe
W«t, Iaf(rum tbetmokeof crowded
cttfca and U»e hum of grinding com-
moreo. High up in the mountain^, Rnr-
rounded by (scenery that would drive fiftmo
(irtistfl mad h il]i joy, if* editor nita done to
heaven aod drawn inspiration from tbe
ricids **¥*'******«
tiOWtui's Ct-aiw i» principally derated
to Troth mid Hamar. it luut hoefci of
fritwriA jwmI Hiti'QitM- IV it* hated o*nl lorod
jii*t aannrdiiijr to how It ftrtkra Hit* human
inhut. It prvwL'H tho IImil btwv (4ni«
mitt ttJwjiyn ih>*.ls d-oni thr toji. lt ho«u
to no creed, <-iiugC3 lo no gotl or dovil, and
feat* uottiirig, ont even lh« ahrrilT. It in »
nltam crusher, unil nhita. hi U-ar the maul:
Intm evorjthiug tfanr ie evil. Tt is the
atotit independent magavJiie ic the. world
Mid pnnthTS to noi:l»!U>, party, »eot, crted,
color, HiAfr 01- fat srfviTtiser. lt nan [*y
ore always in ni|-Iit, and every shift ahotva
that If- ia increasing. lt- has tout-bed a
chord iu tltts human heart that vibrato
with it* mn«lc wherwer tho EnglMi laiig-
Oftgo brrmka the oajn« ********
If you want to got in lino with it, get in
txuiy as the circulation » limited to a million. No i*uiple Mipita are sent to anyone,
but it in fumlehed firo to alt people who
are one hundred youm old. INwanga ftroc
Id any tart of this wicked earth * * * * *
mmmhus ail Lnrrons
thoroughly honest parsons, even though they
be insane, but has nothing but green paint
for those self-important heaven brokers who
are in the business for the long green and
chicken pie, and who exist upon the fears
and superstitions ofthe human family instead of mucking for their ham and eggs. It
is a safe bet that such theological parasites
have no use for this journal and their hammers will soon be pounding from ocean to
ocean."'(October 1905)
Colonel Bob Lowery was back and his
cynical writing seemed to he bolder than
ever. Each number of Lowery's Claim
covered a variety of topics, but his obsessive, vitriolic articles against organized religion were beginning to become tiresome
and far too spiteful. The religious faction
became impatient with his frequent pillorying and an outraged clergy petitioned
Ottawa. Once again the Post Office
Department evaluated this journal and declared that "Lowery's Claim, No. 35, dated
July 1906, has been found to be filled with
articles of a low order, most of them being indecent and obscene, and therefore it has been
debarred the privileges ofthe mails. "I3 This
time Lowery's appeals to the Post Office
Department's bureaucrats, including the
Postmaster General of Canada, Hon.
Rodolphe Lemieux, fell on deaf ears.
Ironically, Lowery had written an explosive editorial against the PO prior to this
latest mail boycott. An American socialist
paper, Appeal to Reason14, had been
banned from the use of Canada's mail service and this provided the opportunity for
Colonel Bob to vent his anger against
"A Postal Evil"
"The officials behind the stamps at
Ottawa are carried away with the mad desire to make the post office pay dividends just
as though it was a grocery store or a pawnbroker's skinnery In order to do this they pay
miserable wages to many ofthe employees;
sell stamps printed on inferior and almost
rotten paper; restrict the spread of intelligence
by a high postal rate upon literature; and in
many other ways cripple an institution that
should be operated solely in the interest ofthe
people, and not for the making of records by
a few grasping politicians.
"As an instance ofthe tortose [sic] movement of the red-taped money-in-stamps
postal administration look at the mail service
between Phoenix and Greenwood As a slow
thing it has the millenium [sic] backed clear
over the dump. The distance between the
towns is scarcely five miles (8 km) yet it takes
letters so long to pass between these copper
cities that the stamps are mildewed by the
time a letter reaches its destination unless a
preservative spit is used in their attachment.
Such a snail-like method of handling mail.
. . could be remedied in a day if the proper
kind of gray matter rested within the upper
stope of those who think they know how to
operate a post office department.
". . . the ordinary government officials . .
are so dense, dull-witted incompetent and
disobliging as a rule that nothing but continental prodding will wake them up to a
sense of duty and justice. Fallen into a rut of
routine, flanked on one side by red tape and
upon the other by politics the public can
roast in brimstone until they are ready If
people in the vicinity will kick often enough
the mail service. . . will eventually be remedied .. Everything comes to those who rustle
while they wait." (Greenwood Ledge, 17
May 1906)
Although this editorial was written prior
to his monthly journal being banned from
postal service, a defiant Colonel Bob was
not silenced even after the post office shut
out his publication. The very next issue of
Lowery's Claim boldly declared that "The
post office department of Canada has grown
afraid of Lowery's Claim and strikes it a
blow much the same as a sandbagger hits you
with a lead pipe when you are not looking.
The department notified us last week that
our journal would not be permitted to circulate through the mails, owing to the objectionable character ofthe reading contained
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 therein. Oh dear!. . . why has the Laurier
government undertaken to cause its editor financial loss by denying him the privilege
that any little French rag has in Quebec.
Because we are British, live in the west and
dare to speak the truth must we be hounded
by slavish minions of pope and parson who
chance to have a say in the post office? Is there
no freedom of speech or thought in Canada?
... The withdrawal of the mailing privileges
will not cause the Claim to suspendpublication."'(August 1906)15
Tough talk is cheap. Publishing can become onerous particularly when subscription sales and advertising decrease and
bills cannot be paid16 so cessation of this
publication was inevitable. The last
number of Lowery's Claim, issued in
September 1906, was delivered "Among
the Angels. . . for the second time deposited
in the tomb from which it may never arise.
. . This journal has lived too soon to be generally popular, for the class of work it contained does not appeal to those sunk in the
stagnant pond of creed custom, superstition
and mental ossification . . . Like some parsons who say that they have a call to preach
the gospel I also thought I had a call when I
turned my Claim loose to reform the world
... The parsons say that I will be damned if
I keep on; the post office has switched me
onto a sidetrack, and the physicians say that
I have a 'flat wheel' concealed within my internal anatomy. . . With these few remarks
the shroud is folded over a journal that perhaps has been too intensely human . . . Au-
Although Lowery's Claim was no
longer published, Bob never stopped
trying to distribute his own gospel
through the sale of back issues. An advertisement in his Similkameen Star
(Princeton) declared: "During the 37
months that Lowery's Claim was on earth it
did business all over the world It was the
most unique, independent and fearless
journal ever produced in Canada. Political
and theological enemies pursued it with the
venom of a rattlesnake until the government
shut it out ofthe mails, and its editor ceased
to publish it partly on account of a lazy liver
and partly because it takes a pile of money to
run a paper that is outlawed There are still
20 different editions of this condemned
journal in print. Send 10 cents and get one
or $2 and get the bunch. R T. Lowery
Greenwood B.C."(21 July 1914)
During the life of his monthly journal,
RT. Lowery, Editor and Financier, proclaimed that ". . . a method will yet be discovered that will smelt all evil out of the
world and leave nothing but gold in the
heart of man . . . so that we can keep the
press running until a process is discovered
that will jar all misery from this universe
and annex it to the flower gardens in the
New Jerusalem"
It seems Colonel Bob was convinced
that it was his public duty (destiny?) to denounce the duplicity of commercial, political or religious bureaucrats and their organizations. This conviction and his creed
of being "devoted to Truth, Humor and
Justice" was printed in each issue of
Lowery's Claim. Unfortunately bravado
and his almost paranoiac pillorying of
Christian traditions became too much for
the influential bureaucrats, particularly in
the Post Office.
After the collapse of Lowery's Claim,
the once feisty newspaperman's passion
and involvement with a variety of publishing endeavours diminished. Following
its demise he only published and edited
one newspaper, The Ledge, in
Greenwood17; and Colonel Bob remained
a resident of that community almost to
the end of his days. However, his legacy of
descriptive prose lives on in the microfilmed copies of his various publications.
1. Pun intended. Lowery's two dashes with the Canadian Post Office
Department definitely had him po'd (a World War II armed forces
slang term tor being angry, profoundly annoyed, indignant or "pissed
The British Columbia Historical News has been registered for bulk
mailing with Canada Post for over twenty years. However, in eariy
1998 the editor was informed that "Permit Number 4447 did not
exist"; and according to the regulations the News must be registered
with the Canadian Heritage Department in order to be eligible for
subsidized postal service. Ironically, the registration papers were
mailed, but received too late; so there has been a flurry of both oral
and written communications with the post office bureaucracy to resolve this dilemma. Was the editor also po'd? It seems that almost
every Canadian has a post office horror story; and this article reveals
rhe "postal evil" as viewed by R.T. Loweiy.
2. R. Thurfow Fraser, "Railway Post Offices" in George H. Melvin,
The Post Offices of British Colombia, 1858-1970. Vernon, B.C.:
Wayside Press, 1972. 181-185.
3-    For biographical information sec Ron Welwood, "The Wit and
Wisdom of'Colonel' Bob Lowery" to be published in [Boundary
History: Report ofthe Boundary Historical Society] {No. 14, 1999?)
and/or Branson A Litde, "Robert T. Lowery: Editor, Publisher &
Printer" British Columbia Historical News 31.2 (Spring 1998): 18-
4.    Lowefys Claim. Monthly.
New Denver. #1, June 1901 - #23, April 1903
Vancouver. #24, May 1903 - #25, June 1903 (suspended July
1903 -Sept. 1905)
Nelson. #26, Oct, 1905 - #37, Sept. 1906
For a bibliographic listing of Lowery's publications, 1879 - 1920, see
Ron Welwood s "The Wit and Wisdom of'Colonel* Bob Lowery".
5. The editorial masthead proudly proclaimed that "LOWERY'S
CLAIM... is devoted to Truth and Humor. It... a sent free to aU
persons over 100 years of age. It is a Sham Crusher, and will fight all
frauds to a red finale. It costs $1 a year in any part ofthe world but
lark of mail facilities prevents it being mailed to Mars, Hades and other
out-of-the-way places... Ifyou desire this journal do not depend upon
your neighbor, but send in your white or green dollar before the thought
grows cold.'(July 1901)
6. George T. Moir's Sinners and Saints (Victoria, BC: 1947?) refers to
Lowery as "a humorous writer, but with a smutty style. He had good literary talent and might have got somewhere except for his dirty, biting
sarcasm against all preachers and reUgion in general" Moir felt that one
particular issue denouncing the Baptists was "all degrading and untrue. .. I went over, bought the whole edition and burned it in the
Perhaps the unmicrofilmed copies of Lowery's Claim (#17. Oct.
1902 - #23, April 1903) contained some of Bob Lowery's hotter
copies and were destroyed in a similar manner.
7. "This journal is the most truthful in Canada and has to apparently
suffer occasionally. TheCPR has boycotted it, and will not allow the
news agents 0 sell it on the trains." (July 1902). "Eighteen months ago
the CPR. struck against it being sold on the trains, and this strike is still
on...." (May 1903)
8. Letter from AB. Agfesworth, Ottawa, to RT. Loweiy, Ndson, 12
November 1906. R.T. Lowery fends. BC Archives and Records
Service (BCARS) Record No. S/F/L95.
It seems that Agksworth (status unknown) was assigned to write a
letter to Lowery, although it appears he was not affiliated with the
Post Office Department CI made appUcation to the Post office
Department to ascertain the facts ofthe case.")
Boycotted by the CP.R. and "Denied the math, Lowery, like T.
Eaton & Co.. uses the express companies to distribute his small packages
of merchandise" (Nelson Tribune, 4 April 1903)
9. "Mubck should issue a code of instructions to editors. Innocent publishers
are liable to be ruined at any time by not knowing the love our press
censor has for prudes." "Lowery's Claim is notdeadsimplybecause
Canada's post office officials in Ottawa are tainted with prejudice and
bigotry The poorfellows cannot help it andare to be pitied.''(Ledge, 5
February 1903)
10. Telegram sent to the New Denver postmaster. "Ottawa, Ont Feb.
17. 1903. Lowerys Claim removed from list of prohibited publications.
Inform publisher. AW.Throop, Acting Secretary'(Ledge, 19 February
11. The April 1903 edition of Lowerys Claim printed a selection of letters received through the mail (the style of writing appears to be suspiciously familar): "Manchester, England-... it appears the brightest,
smartest and most interesting reading I have come across for some
time...". "Dawson, Yukon.- For the time you seem to have retiredin
favor ofthe sword, judging from the trouble you have had with Mubck
However. lam with you and stiU bet that the butcher will kill the
sheep." "Philadelphia, Pa.- Infernal outrage yourbeing boycottedand
badgered this way, and you have my sympathy I see nothing objectionable in your CLAIM, just the reverse." "Boston, Mass. -lam pleased to
know that you have won out re the CLAIM. Keep right on telling the
truth. "Kootenay Lake Historical Society Archives (Kaslo) KLA
988.215 Box 16 File 7.
12. In the June 1903 issue, an unrepentant Lowery wrote an article entitled "Pulpit and Pounders* where he stated that "Ifoil to see how
churches encourage a truer or nobler life. The noblest people have no use
for areas although many of them have not the moral courage to declare
themselves against what the world thinks.... This journal has been
hounded and its editor persecuted by a class of holy Willies whose little,
rotten souls are incapable of being good in spite ofthe fact that they send
wind messages to Jehovah every night of their miserable Uves.... Give
us churches filled with love, life and truth. Banish gloom and make all
sermons breezy, frill of wit, humor, reason and common sense, without
any silly twaddle about God and every gospel mill in the land will have
standing room only..."
13. Letter from Wm. Smith, Secretary, Post Office Department, Ottawa,
to R.T. Lowery, Esq.. Publisher "Lowery's Claim", Nelson, 3 August
1906. R.T. Lowery fends. BC Archives and Records Service
(BCARS) Record No. S/F/L95.
The fonds only contains PO correspondence outward and not
correspondence inward (from Lowery to the PO). In Ottawa, the author checked the massive PO Register at the National Archives (RG3
Vol.3428,1905-1911 - this tome is over 2.5cm thick) and although
□Sere were Loweiy entries, the original correspondence no longer exists. The Hies of "Objectionable Literature" were also checked
without success (RG3 Vol.2188).
14. See "They Protest", The Ledge (Greenwood), 17 May 1906 and
also, Canada. House of Commons. Debates. 20 June 1906: 5615-
15. In his newspaper. The Ledge (Greenwood), an unrepentant Lowery
declared "The freedom ofthe press is a question which concerns every
citizen of a free country If a postmaster general can refitse carrying privileges through the mails to a newspaper, the minister of justice may deprive a citizen of'free speech... If the post master general thinks that
he is the only person capable of judging between right and wrong, he
must be an egotistical imbecile." (9 August 1906)
16. In order to maintain a constant cash flow, Lowery often printed variations ofthe following messages in his publications: "A blue mark
here indicates that your subscription is due, and that the editor would
like to see your money." or "One ofthe noblest works of creation is the
man who ah/ays pays the printer."
17. Alrhough R.T. Lowery was the editor and financier of The Ledge
(1906-1920), The Oldest Mining Camp Newspaper in British
Columbia", he was also the propietor and financier of another newspaper. The Similkameen Star (Princeton), between 1914-1918.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 . B. MacLean's Method of Writing
by Shirley Cuthbertson
George fay School, Spring planting, individual plots,
If you attended elementary school in
British Columbia between 1921 and
1965, your handwriting was influenced, if
not permanendy formed, by Mr. H.B.
MacLean. His student compendiums and
teacher's manual were on the authorized
lists all that time - the longest-serving textbooks in the province's education system.
Did you learn to make ovals, loops and
lines on a slant, and to be careful to hold
your arm and hand so that your fingers
could glide on the paper?
Henry Bovyer MacLean was born in
Mount Herbert, Prince Edward Island, in
1884. He attended Prince of Wales
College in Charlottetown and began
teaching at the age of 17 in a one-room
rural school. After further study at the
MacDonald Institute of Ontario, he returned to RE.I. to teach manual training,
nature studies, home gardening and
French at MacDonald Consolidated
School, where he was vice-principal and
later principal, from 1905 to 1909.
"Wages and opportunities for advancement were greater in British Columbia",
he recollects, "and many people from the
maritime provinces left the east coast to
Victoria, B.C c. 1914.. Principal H.B. MacLean.
Ptioto courtesy of MacLean Family Archives.
find new homes in the western province."1
In 1908/9, he came to British Columbia,
taught at South Park elementary in
Victoria and in 1910 was the first
Principal of George Jay, which became famous for its school gardens. In 1915 he
joined the staff of the Normal School in
In 1916 Mr. MacLean joined the staff
of the Vancouver Normal School. He
taught grammar, school law, and penmanship. MacLean's father had "always emphasized good writing" 2, and his son took
an even greater interest. Over the next few
years, teachers marking high school entrance examinations were among others
who complained about the standard of
writing among B.C. schoolchildren. In
1919 H.B. MacLean was asked to be
chairman of the committee appointed by
the Superintendent of Education, Dr. S.J.
Willis, to survey textbooks and recommend a good writing manual for pupils in
the elementary grades. According to his
daughter Jean, the committee gathered
books from most English-speaking countries. The committee was willing to recommend   an   outstanding   American
system, but they wanted a few
changes made. When the author
did not want to make the
changes, MacLean offered (in
1921) to write not only a
teachers manual, but the compendium for each of the grades.
The superintendent gave his approval - if he could do the texts
by September, 1921. MacLean
asked his brother-in-law Rowan
Mackenzie to assist him, and the
two spent the summer at the
double-pedestal desk MacLean
had made for the job. Jean remembers vividly that "every flat
surface in the house was covered
with sheets of paper - the two
men did all the exercises for
every booklet - each one had to
be done perfecdy". May, Henrys
wife did all the typing from
hand written notes by H.B., (she did not
have any training), and helped with proofreading. Fortunately for the success ofthe
endeavour, they found the publisher,
Clarke & Stuart, very cooperative.
British Columbia authorized Gage's
Copy Books from 1884-1901; Gage's
Copy Books "Natural Slant" from 1906-
1912. The set of manuals authorized by
rhe Department prior to the MacLean
Method was New Method Writing
(1912-1920). These were copy-books in
the traditional style: a line of writing at the
top was copied a number of times down
the page, then the pupil went on to the
next page. Hie training method was repetition, based on the assumption that fine
muscle control would develop with practice of letters and sentences.
"Muscular movement writing" was
popular from the turn ofthe century, but
where some authors recommended using
only the muscles of the forearm, others
recommended using the muscles of the
upper arm and swinging the hand while
keeping the fingers still. MacLean combined the two for the early years.and laid
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 the foundation for later forearm method
"without forcing both pupils and teachers
through a wearisome, tedious, difficult attempt to have the child develop the penmanship methods ofthe adult."3 "The so-
called muscular motion method of handwriting has been in use in many schools
for a number of years, . . .but was found
wanting in many ways. There was a certain stiffness and inefficiency about it, and
it remained for a teacher in rhe Normal
School of Victoria to take to pieces the accepted method and reconstruct it on more
fluent lines."4
The McLean Method of Muscular
Movement Writing drew on contemporary ideas expressed in the texts surveyed
by the committee, but the original tide of
the manual as well as the content soon
began to be revised. The first edition is extremely detailed and includes pages 17 to
112 of the Senior Manual. This detail
would be somewhat redundant to the
teachers MacLean taught at Normal
School, but would be valuable to teachers
doing rhe correspondence course.
The teacher's manual sets out the principles of "The MacLean Method Course":
".. .correct posture, penholding and paper
placing, and the use of a free, rhythmic,
gliding movement at a reasonable rate of
speed. The fingers will assist in the detail
of letter formation, but the hand should
glide on the fingernails, while progressing
across the page. Although this is not an exclusive arm movement, yet cramped finger
movement should be avoided. This type
of writing might well be called "combined
movement," a fusion of arm movement
and relaxed finger movement."5
The name "MacLean Method" was suggested by Superintendent S.J. Willis, because MacLean was well known in British
Columbia. The most commonly used
handwriting texts at the time usually had
the author's name - the Palmer method,
the Zaner method, etc. These were published in the United States, and used extensively in Canada - Palmer's Business
Writing, the revised Canadian edition,
was copyrighted in Canada in 1908.
Ontario authorized the use ofthe teachers'
manual developed by J.J. Bailey, but many
Ontario teachers used MacLean's. Dr.
Willis' approval was expressed in a letter:
"The whole system is one
of which you have every
reason to be proud. . .
.(It) is being received by
teachers with much enthusiasm and it has already demonstrated in
many schools that excellent work can be
achieved by following the
instructions given in your
The first MacLean
Teachers' Complete
Manual was copyrighted
in 1921 by Clarke &
Stuart in Vancouver, and
the last in 1966, (last
printing 1996) by WJ.
Gage Limited, Toronto.
In a paper prepared in
the early 60s, MacLean
states that the cost for individual compendiums
for each pupil during the
first six grades is less than
twenty cents per year.
From the MacLean
home, diagnostic and remedial reports were given
free of charge the only
writing system that provided this service. The
Correspondence Course was available to
teachers free of charge, and a graded series
of lessons was submitted by teachers and
returned with helpful comments and suggestions - free. Certificates were issued at a
nominal charge - 75 <f for the teacher's certificate in 1921. Correspondence indicates
that Langford Elementary school spent
$20.50 to cover rhe cost of writing certificates and postage in 1978. 1997 was the
first year that no teachers sent in for certificates for pupils - some older teachers
continued teaching the MacLean Method
until 1996. After he retired from the
Normal School, he "advertised" services
related to The MacLean Method - he gave
presentations at teachers' conferences,
went to schools on invitation ... letters of
thanks indicate that services were given
Comparing the first and later teacher's
manuals, MacLean's wording and tech-
H.B. MacLean, ca. 1921, showing the correct position for good writing.
Photo courtesy of MacLean Family Archives.
niques developed to fit in with contemporary methods; in fact, he revised and
edited his manual even after 1966. This, as
is the case with many school textbooks,
can be disconcerting, as revisions are not
noted on the tide page, and although the
editions are numbered, the copyright date
is "1921", until 1966. His expressions
may have been refined and updated, but
the principles remained consistent.
Revisions probably came from MacLean's
teaching experience, but he also took
Sprott's Business Writing at Normal
School in 1920, correspondence courses
from the American Penman, Zaner s and
Palmer's "Muscular Movement" method
(his certificate reads "for Superior
Ability",) and went to a summer institute
in New York to get his teacher's certificate
in Palmer's method in 1923. Ball point
pens were introduced in 1961. MacLean
suggested using a desk-top style because
"it has a large base and is well-balanced".
The smaller ones are hard for younger
pupils to hold properly because "they have
a small, slippery base". They skip over
soiled spots (oils from hands). He stipulates a ". . . free-flowing, non-smudging
ink" to allow for "a light touch and
freedom of movement".7
MacLean was sensitive to students' future need to have a good handwriting for
success in business. J.H. Beatty, President
ofthe Sprott-Shaw School of Commerce,
wrote to MacLean in 1963 that "Your
letter and figure forms, as shown in
MacLean Method Writing Books are simplified and modernized Spencerian. These
forms are most suitable for business purposes." In the 60s MacLean described the
revival in British schools of the Italic
script, and rejected its adoption. He concluded that the requirement for steel pens
with a square edge may be satisfactory for
artists but is not practical for school and
business writing. The script would cause
the loss of the "fluent, easy and effective
movement" of the cursive writing style
which had been developed in North
The MacLean's style of writing is based
on the three s's of writing: slant, spacing
and size. Legibility required attention to
alignment as well as the formation of letters. At the same time, he repeats in almost
every edition: "The pupil's enjoyment of
his writing should not be hampered by
undue emphasis upon the mechanics."
The exercises in the compendiums are designed to reinforce rhythm. Teachers were
encouraged to use rhythm to help chil
dren to write fluendy - songs, verses, even
a metronome could be used to demonstrate. He recommended that children
start by writing on the blackboard, and
that the teachers make a game of it or use
their imagination to make it interesting.
"The teacher should want to teach
writing. Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm."9
Although MacLean's manual and compendiums deal with the practicalities of
writing, they contain a great many suggestions that are simply good principles for
teaching: #63 from "A Hundred Helpful
Hints" (35th ed.) 'Writing "lines" should
never be given as a punishment. The association of ideas discourages interest in
handwriting." #47 "Do not talk too much
in the Writing lesson. . . .Pupils learn to
write by writing, rather than by listening
to the teacher telling them how to write."
#67 "The honest attempt of pupils, no
matter how crude, should never be
ridiculed." #74 "Instructions should be
positive, not negative: "Write carefully"
not "Don't scribble."
MacLean's objective was legible, rapid,
fluent writing, with reasonable uniformity.
"Printing" is called "manuscript" in the
first edition, and the first compendium is
simply a printed alphabet and a few
simple words and sentences. In year 2,
MacLean gives clear instructions on when
and how to make the transition to cursive
writing. Although the primary grades emphasize learning the "correct" formation of
letters, the senior and advanced levels offer
alternative forms and the teacher's manual
expressly allows for individual styles.
Students in senior grades are to strive for
"Legibility, simplicity and beauty in standard and optional letter forms". Teachers
should stress "The courtesy, social and
economic value of good handwriting."
"Seniors in grade five especially may be
encouraged to develop an attractive signature - legible and artistic." (35th ed.) perhaps this is why so many old textbooks
have their owner's name in many places!
(Teacher's Manual, 35th ed.) and
(Teacher's Manual, 1966) "Left-handed-
ness" is dealt with in the chapter on
"Special Problems in the Teaching of
Writing". "The problems to be considered
are: (1) Is left-handedness a disadvantage
socially or economically? (2) If so, can the
handedness of a child be changed without
causing stammering or other disorders? (3)
What are the best techniques to use in
making the change? (4) If a child is dom-
inandy left-handed, should he be forced to
use the right hand in writing or in other
manual activities? (5) What are the best
techniques to use in teaching left-handed
pupils to write with the left hand?"
MacLean's suggestions are "By means of
tests... .try to discover the native handedness of any pupil who seems to prefer to
use his left hand. ..." (He refers teachers
to pages 418 to 420 of the Thirty-Fourth
Yearbook of the Society for the Study of
Education, 1935 for copies of such tests.)
"If the child has developed the habit . .
.but is not dominandy left-handed, explain to him and to his parents the possible disadvantages . . . Try to enlist their
co-operation. ... Be patient and sympathetic. Decrease the amount of written
wok to be done. . .. If however, the child
or the parent insists upon a continuance of
lefhandedness, do not compel the change
but give the child the utmost assistance in
developing the greatest possible efficiency
in the use ofthe left hand." (35th ed.) He
repeats this general principle and offers
suggestions for the position of the feet,
arms and hand and for placing the paper,
at each compendium level.
During the 33 years that MacLean
taught at Vancouver Normal School, he
carried a full teaching load, organized and
led many ofthe "extracurricular activities",
travelled and gave lectures and presentations from coast to coast, and organized
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 and maintained a family business. (His
daughter Jean says "he could get by on five
hours sleep a night.") As well as teaching
British Columbia teachers, he had started
in the 30s to send out a correspondence
course (free) to teachers in other provinces
who used the MacLean textbooks.
Teachers sent pupils' handwriting pieces to
him each year for grading, and he (and
later Jean as well), worked on the papers,
wrote letters and coded the batches, while
his wife May filled and packed each batch,
sent bills (including postage) and kept the
records. "The Postal Service was wonderful - they brought the big parcels early."
(Jean) This letter from Comox Airport
Rural School District is typical of many in
the family archives: "I feel your personal
comments on their writing are of great
value and it seems that after each evaluation in the past 3 years I have noted a rise
in the quality of writing. Not only are the
comments helpful, but coming from the
author of the course, they speak with
much greater authority than any comment I can make." Another teacher mentions "kindly criticisms" which "inspired
one to fresh effort".
When the marking load became too
heavy, teachers used the compendium
standards to judge the lower levels, and if
they thought the pupils had made
progress, sent in for certificates. They continued to send some work to him for personal diagnosis and comments. Mr.
MacLean judged the "senior" and "advanced" students' progress ("improvement" and "proficiency" appear on the
certificates sent out.) Elementary pupils
and teachers alike placed great value on
these certificates - framed copies and sets
of teachers' certificates are prominent
among papers saved in family collections,
and donated to archives and museums.
The busiest time of year in the MacLean
household was "certificate time": April,
May and June, but through the year remedial work was prepared for some children and ordering and payment correspondence came and went.
MacLean's publisher, Clarke & Smart,
had straight pens made to a design which
made the finger grip easier, "MacLean's"
pen nibs, and also had "MacLean's Best
Ever" pencils that were bigger and softer
so they were easier for small children -
"this helps prevent gripping". Before the
compendiums were available to all, the
company also carried lined scribblers for
practice. These were purchased by schools
or by Parent Teacher Associations.
MacLean's daughter Jean married, and
while she and her husband lived in
Halifax, Jean took over the Maritimes section, sending out teacher correspondence
course materials to Normal schools in the
four Maritime provinces, as well as student materials. She sent senior and advanced student papers to MacLean for
grading. Later, on her return to Vancouver
in 1957, she worked in his home office
every day, taking over the record-keeping
from her mother in I960. The office furnishings, materials and files which were
her father's were set up in her basement
when he moved.
Between 1921 and 1964, the MacLean
Method of Writing was officially adopted
by education departments in
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, Prince Edward Island,
English-speaking Catholic schools in
Quebec, Manitoba (not universal), as well
as British Columbia. Many years after he
retired he still held the copyright on the
method, and kept revising or supervising
any changes that were introduced. When
MacLean retired from the Normal School
in 1949, a letter from Dr. Harold L.
Campbell (retired Deputy Minister and
Superintendent of Education for British
Columbia) stated: "You have done a won
derful job in evolving, developing, maintaining, servicing and promoting The
MacLean System and I suppose it does
not have an equal in any part of the
A reporter writes quoting MacLean: "a.
. fringe benefit (of legible writing) . . . it's
difficult to forge a really good penman.""
MacLean had worked with the police,
banks, lawyers and all levels of government on "questioned documents" for
many years, and after retirement, he made
it his other business, with a business card
and a sheet listing his credentials. He mentions teaching at all levels, grading thousands of student and teacher writing samples annually, as well as lecturing at the
training school for the British Columbia
Provincial Police. He was involved with a
number of court cases involving wills,
anonymous letters, forgery and forensic
Mr. MacLean travelled back east annually to give lectures in the teachers colleges
in Truro, Memorial, Fredericton and
Charlottetown. He also lectured in
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and
Quebec. He combined instruction with
promotion in a presentation that won
many young teachers - and when he gave
presentations to clubs or to public audiences, won critical praise from tough journalists. He was one of those teachers who
was loved by his students, both elementary
and college-age. As a teacher, he also had a
secret weapon - he was an accomplished
magician. He ". . . .frequendy entertains
Jt&LS-&fi> c^J^^JL4c/cU^
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 This picture of a display in the Royal B.C Museum shows a student's workbook, MacLean pen with replaceable nib, an ink bottle,
box of nibs, ruler, scribbler and blotters.
bers of the editorial staff,
which ended: "Here was a
man who when he died this
week in Vancouver at 91
had truly left his mark - in
the handwriting of millions
of Canadians who for more
than half a century in
Canadian schools learned
penmanship the MacLean's
way. Toward the end of his
life the Method fell into
some disuse, criticized for
being too regimented, too
opposed to individualism.
Perhaps. But it was the work
of a man who wanted us to
communicate better with
each other. No small ideal."15
Photo courtesy of S. Cuthbertson.
the crippled children and also gives a show
for the inmates of British Columbia
prisons."12 A 1955 advertisement includes
old time fiddling, step dancing and the
Island potato exhibition and championships, at the Prince of Wales College,
EE.I. MacLean is on the bill as "Henry B.
MacLean, Magician - A short demonstration of Blackboard Writing and One
Hour of Comedy Magic".13 Whether the
talk was on penmanship with a litde
magic, or a magic presentation with a bit
on penmanship, people were happily entertained and instructed. He was a life
member of the Vancouver Magic Circle,
and a member of the International
Brotherhood of Magicians. After his retirement, he gave presentations in schools,
seniors homes, as well as to service clubs
(he was president ofVancouver Kiwanis in
1930). Jean says "he was out a lot in the
Not everyone appreciated MacLean's
method of handwriting: Mamie Maloney,
columnist for The Vancouver Sun Nov.
30, 1944, described "The method: devised by an obviously Gestapo-minded
creature called MacLean,. ... as "... .a
regimented, clear hand with no more individual characteristics than a fly spot." In
another column, she said that the method
"... was supposed to guarantee good penmanship in the schools of my day, but,
like most educational tools, was bound to
produce some conspicuous failures." To
which MacLean replied (privately): "Don't
you think it was perhaps a litde unkind for
you to blame your poor handwriting on
the MacLean Method?." Quoting from
the Teacher's Manual (p. 49 in the 35th
edition): "Legibility is the most important
characteristic of handwriting .
.Individuality which interferes with legibility is undesirable." Our advice is to
teach simple forms in the lower grades -
forms that are easy to read and easy to
write. Since our pupils and teachers move
from one school to another, we think that
one form should be taught at first so that
pupils do not have to learn different forms
as they.. .move. "Optional forms may be
presented to advanced classes where individuality consistent with legibility will be
In MacLeans' own words, from the
Teacher's Manual: "There is a certain
amount of uniformity in all good writing,
just as there is in good spelling, language
and arithmetic. But no two persons write
alike any more than they walk or talk
alike." (35th ed.) In British Columbia, the
Royal Commission headed by Dr. Chant
received criticisms of the "regimentation"
of handwriting teaching. This was only
one of the areas to undergo profound
changes in the 1960s because of the
Chant Report.14
Years later, when MacLean died, The
Vancouver Sun editorial page carried a
handwritten tribute written by the mem-
The author was a schoolteacher who became
a historian on staff at the Royal B.C Museum.
Shirley is a dedicated volunteer with the B.C.
Historical Federation.
1. (Colonist Aug. 5. 1962 "Originator of Handwriting Training
Makes his Home Here on Saanich Peninsula in Retirement")
2. Jean Dodswotth (H.B. MacLean's daughter), personal
3. MacLean, H.B. The MacLean Method of Muscular
Movement TOiting, Teachers' Complete Manual
The daritefc Stuart Co. Ltd.. Vancouver 1921, p. 13.
4. ("System of Writing Originates in City" July 21, 1926,
Saapbooic, MacLean Family archives)
5. MacLeans Method of Writing - Teachers Manual 35th ed.
Clarke & Swart Co. Ltd.. Vancouver c 1921 (ca. 1936)
(light green cover).
6. Correspondence: Willis to MacLean, (Family Archives)
7. Personal correspondence, J.H. Beatty to H.B.
MacLean ca. 1944.
8. MacLean. H.B. unpublished paper ca. 1964. MacLean
Family Archives.
9. The MacLean Method of Writing, Teachers' Complete
Manual, 35th ed. (Helpful Hints *78)
10. Dr. Harold L. Campbell, correspondence to H.B. MacLean
(Family Archives)
11. Province, Friday, November 7 1969.
12. nd. Halifax paper.
13. Guardian, Chariottetown, PEI October 31,1955.
14. Chant. S.N.F.: Liersch, J.E.: WMrod, R.P.: Report ofthe
Royal Commission on Education, Province of British
Columbia. 1960.
15. The \&nconver Sun, editorial July 1976, quoted in the issue
dedicated to Henry Bovycr MacLean of The fenmeas News
Letter, international Association of Master Penmen. July 1976.
Writing manuals and texbooks: Historical Collections. Royal B.C.
B.C Archives & Records Service. Gippings, documents and manuscripts, MacLean Family Archives (scrapbook and documents)
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Walter Moberly:
A Forgotten Pathfinder
by H. Barry Cotton
"Moberly was a born explorer, it was in
his blood". So said contemporary Henry J.
Cambie, apdy describing the driving force
behind the man's turbulent life. Many
years later, Pierre Berton was to describe
him as "a better surveyor than a business
man". Both remarks are valid, as will be
Moberly, however, never did set out to
be a business man. He was one ofthe great
builders, a blazer ofthe trails that evolved
into the Province's present road and rail
network; in fact, many of his explorations
were undertaken at his own expense, and
he died comparatively poor, remembered
only by the school in Vancouver named
after him, and a whisde-stop on the
C.PRly., near the approach to the Howse
Pass, which he was convinced was the
proper route for the transcontinental
Eariy Years
Walter Moberly was born in Steeple-
Ashton, Oxfordshire, England in 1832.
His father was a captain in the Royal
Navy, who had fought in the Napoleonic
wars; his mother a lady of Polish descent.
He had three brothers, one of whom
(Harry) became a Hudson's Bay Co.
trader. In 1834 the family emigrated to
the Province of Quebec, and later to
Barrie, Ont., where Walter went to school
and spent much of his youth. In Barrie he
went to school with a girl called Susan
Agnes Bernard, who later became the wife
of John A. Macdonald, a friendship that
would be significant to Walter in later
years. After leaving Barrie Grammar
School, he went to Toronto where he
studied engineering with the firm of
Cumberland and Storm, and worked on
the Northern Railway as the former's assistant. Later he worked on the Ontario,
Simcoe and Union Railroad, where he became an associate of Sandford Fleming,
another connection that would be useful
to him in later life. During this time
Walter Moberly
F*hoto courtesy of B.C. Centennial 71 collection.
Wdter engaged in some early exploring
west of Lake Simcoe, and acquired some
1500 sq. miles of timber limits. However,
news from the west in 1857-8, particularly
of Capt. Palliser's ventures in the approaches to the Rockies, persuaded him
that his future lay in the still unknown
country that was British Columbia. He
sold his timber limits, travelled to New
York, then around the Horn to San
Francisco, and thence to Victoria,
Vancouver Island.
At age 26, Walter Moberly was a man of
great physical power and stamina.
Resourceful and tireless in the bush, he
was a superb axeman - even at 70 years of
age. He is said to have killed bears with a
pistol, and many were the stories told of
his prowess in the wilderness. In January
1872, after falling through the ice on
Shuswap Lake, he was able to climb out
by using snowshoes on his hands as supports. He knew how to relax when in civilized society too, could dance the night
away, and drink whisky with the best
when the occasion warranted. He was also
egotistical and opinionated, and as will be
seen, found it difficult to get along with
anyone with whom he disagreed. But to
the project in hand he was always loyal,
and as an employer was particularly considerate of those who depended on him.
British Columbia
This was the man who, armed with a
letter of introduction from Sir Geotge
Simpson, presented himself to Governor
Douglas late in the fall of 1858; he declined an offer of employment by rhe
Colonial Government, but agreed to report on the feasibility of the Harrison
Lake/Lillooet route to the goldfields. He
did this early in 1859, after travelling the
route as far as Pavilion, and noting improvements to be made. He also made a
side trip to Pitt Lake. Later at his expepse,
he made another expedition to examine
the Fraser Canyon between Yale and
April 1859 had brought the main body
of the Royal Engineers to B.C., and on
Moberly's return to the lower mainland he
was employed by Col. RC. Moody on the
planning and layout of the new capital
city, Queensborough, which was in the
process of being carved out of the dense
forest. It would soon be renamed New
Westminster by Queen Victoria (hence
the "Royal City"). Whilst in New
Westminster he had a look at Burrard
Inlet, and with Robert Burnaby (the
Governor's secretary) examined the reported outcroppings in Coal Harbour.
At the end of 1859, Moberly returned
to Victoria, where he met Capt. John
Palliser and Dr. James Hector, who had reported unfavorably on the possibility of a
link between the Fraser and Columbia
River systems. Moberly, whose compelling
motivation since leaving the east had been
to find a transcontinental road/rail route,
was not in the least convinced. In fact he
would spend much effort (and much of
his own money) over the next few years in
proving them wrong.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 He was "swom-in" as a land surveyor for
B.C. in 1861, his surety being Edgar
Dewdney, another engineer from eastern
Canada. He carried out several local surveys in I860, around English Bay and
Burrard Inlet for Col. Moody's Lands &
Works Dept. In July of that year he bid on
a pack-trail connecting Hope and
Princeton, earlier explored by Lt. Palmer,
but he was edged out by Edgar Dewdney,
who got the contract, but took Moberly
on as a working partner. This was the first
part of the Dewdney Trail, and working
on it earned Moberly money, but the
years 1862/3 were going to prove especially expensive for him.
The Cariboo Road and Further
He was, of course, one ofthe chief proponents ofthe Cariboo Road, contending
that it would be essential for the future development of the country. Costs of
building it, however, depended on obtaining a subsidy from the Colonial
Office. Douglas, feeling that such a subsidy would be forthcoming, granted a
charter to Moberly, Charles Oppenheimer
and T.B. Lewis, to build by far the longest
stretch of road - from Lytton along the
Thompson River to Cook's Ferry (today's
Spence's Bridge), thence to Cache Creek
and northward. Moberly was the engi-
neer-in-charge, Lewis the bookkeeper.
Oppenheimer looked after the supplies.
They would have the right to collect tolls
when finished.
Political skulduggery was, of course,
possible even in those pioneer days, and
although the monumental work of constructing that first road through the lower
canyons of rhe Fraser and Thompson
Rivers was satisfactorily carried out, what
happened next can only be described as a
disaster for Moberly himself. One can certainly sympathize with him in the tale of
woe which follows, as told in his "History
of the Cariboo Wagon Road."
Much of Moberly's manpower was
stranded at Yale, without money, food or
clothing. So before starting them to work
at Lytton, he had to advance money for
wages and subsistence before getting to
the start point. Many of these men would
later desert the project when news of gold
strikes filtered through. He established
camps at Lytton, Nicomen and Cook's
Ferry, and when no government certificates were issued, Moberly borrowed
money for payroll. When Lewis voted to
stop the work, Moberly bought out his interests. Eventually, Moberly travelled to
New Westminster, where he found out
that the Imperial Government had refused
the subsidy, whereupon Governor
Douglas had been forced to borrow
$50,000 from the Bank of British
Columbia. With $6000 in his pocket,
Moberly hastened back to Lytton to pay
his workers (who had hardly expected him
back!), and continue the work. A few days
later he received a letter, stating that the
$44,000 was to be withheld, and - in his
"As I was the one to whom the largest
amount would have to be paid it was decided to sacrifice me and carry the other contractors through . . . which was a very convenient and profitable thing for them, but it
was a disgraceful and dishonest transaction
on their part".
With debts mounting, Oppenheimer
left for the USA, leaving Moberly to face
the music In the end, Moberly signed
over all his charter rights and supplies to
Capt. Grant RE., who had been appointed to "deal" with him; Moberly then
agreed to carry on with the work as an employee of the Government. The wages
were eventually all paid in full but - again
in Moberly's words:
". . . .the country had gained a large and
most expensive portion of the Cariboo
Wagon Road built, which cost them nothing,
but it left me a ruined man with heavy personal liabilities, which took all the money I
could make during eight subsequent years to
finaUy pay off".
The year 1864 would bring change.
This was the year Governor Douglas, who
had been governor of both colonies, retired. J.D. Pemberton also retired. Col.
RC. Moody had already departed. The
new authority was going to be J.W
Trutch, currendy Surveyor/General and
Commissioner of Lands and Works for
the Mainland Government. Walter
Moberly, after having spent 1863 working
on the Cariboo Road as superintendent
for William Hood's contract above
Spence's Bridge, took on the job of engineer under Trutch. He still continued with
construction of the Cariboo Road, from
Fort Alexandria to Richfield, and located
several other roads in the vicinity of
Quesnelmouth, Lightning Creek and
Williams Lake.
At the end of the year he resigned his
position, stood for election, as the
member for the Cariboo West Riding,
and was elected. He undertook management of the Lands & Works Dept. in
Trutch's absence, but did not stay long in
office. He resigned his seat at the end of
the session, and was appointed assistant
Surveyor/General in March 1865.
Moberly states that as soon as Trutch returned to the colony, he handed over the
Lands & Works Dept. to him. However,
he held on to the job of Assistant
Surveyor/General, which gave him his
long-wished opportunity to explore the
Gold (Monashee), Selkirk and Rocky
Mountains for a line suitable for an overland road/railway link.
The Columbia River Explorations
With the new gold strikes at the Big
Bend, and those already existing at Wild
Horse Creek in rhe Kootenays, there were
a lot of exploratory surveys being undertaken at this time. George Turner's map of
Jan. 5, 1865 shows rhe new trail from
Seymour Arm of Shuswap Lake to the
new diggings. Also - it is relevant to mention a forgotten explorer of 1864, one J.
Jenkins, who surveyed around the Big
Bend, making precise notes of several
Indian trails across the Selkirks.
In particular, Jenkins' map shows a trail
starting from the upper Columbia called
GIL-CES-CHE-SIN, and a distance of
"about 65 miles across the great bend". He
notes that "Iproposed to cross the great bend
ofthe Columbia here with 1 Indian, intending that the other should go round with
the canoe, but they objected . . ." (as well
they might'). The start of this trail was, in
fact, the outflow of the Beaver River, and
had Jenkins done what he intended, his
name would definitely not now be forgotten. Moberly's plot ofthe Columbia at
the time shows a latitude of 51 31' 30" for
this location. The distance of 65 miles is
uncannily accurate.
Most of the exploratory surveys in
1865-6 were done under Moberly's direction, with J. Turnbull  and Ashdown
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Green working between Shuswap Lake,
Okanagan Lake and the Rockies. On
Sept. 10th Moberly reported his discovery
of Eagle Pass, after observing the route
taken by flying eagles in the mountains
from Sicamous in the direction of the
Columbia Big Eddy, and later that same
year he received J. Turnbull's estimate of
$10,950 to put through a trail from
Sicamous to the Columbia at the Big
Eddy through Eagle Pass. The Big Eddy
was where the City of Revelstoke now
stands, and this line (through the Three
Valley Gap) would prove to be a fateful
link joining the east and west surveys of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, and would
eventually carry both railway and Trans-
Canada Highway
In the official reports of the Columbia
River Exploration, both Moberly and
Trutch in their letters mention the necessity of exploring a route through the
Selkirks, to shorten the distance around
the Big Bend of the Columbia. But it is a
fact that Moberly's journal entry for Fri,
July 13th, 1865, (an ominous date!) shows
one such an investigation made, but not
". . . .Perry returned from his trip up the
E.fork ofthe iUeciUewaet River. He did not
reach the divide, but reported a low wide
valley as far as he went. His exploration has
not settled the point whether it would be possible to get through the mountains by this
valley, but I fear not. He ought to have got
on the divide, and his failure is a great disappointment to me. ..
By this journal entry, it would seem that
Moberly admitted to not having found
the pass through the Selkirks that would
later be the key link for the transcontinental road and railroad and indeed he
seems to have concluded that the Big
Bend offered the only practicable route.
As will be seen later, he did have another
chance (from rhe easterly end), but circumstances again conspired against him.
It is, of course, unlikely that this pass
would remain untrampled by human foot
for the next fifteen years, but it would
await official recognition by the hard-
swearing, tobacco-chewing Rogers, who
duly "discovered" it in 1881.
1867 has been described as a year of unprecedented depression. It was also the
year in which Moberly had a momentous
disagreement with Governor Seymour. He
left British Columbia, and went south. He
spent the next four years wandering in
Utah, California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon
and Washington. He met Brigham Young
and the Mormons. He wrote a long letter
to Trutch in May 1868, giving details of
possible road or rail routes across British
Columbia, his preferred one being from
New Westminster, following the Cariboo
Road, then Eagle Pass, the Big Bend,
Howse Pass and following the North
Saskatchewan River and Carlton Trail all
the way to Winnipeg. (This is the same
route that had been recommended inde-
pendendy by J.W McKay ofthe H.B.Co.
to the Hon. H.R Crease, Att/Gen. of B.C.
in July 1867). Moberly also did some
mining in Ophir City, near Salt Lake City,
and it was here that he received Trutch's
telegram that caused him to return to
The Canadian Pacific Survey
Two points are relevant when writing of
Moberly's involvement in the C.P.R.
Surveys of 1871-3. The first is that the
normal way for travelling across the
North-West Territories at the time was still
the time-honored Hudson's Bay
Company route from Winnipeg to
Edmonton, and this was the route followed for his proposed transcontinental
railway by Engineer-in-Chief Sandford
Fleming. This was a painstaking, deliberate and very experienced engineer, probably the exact opposite of Moberly in temperament. It seems logical that he would
choose the lowest pass to enter British
Columbia - the Yellowhead.
The second concerns Walter Moberly
himself, who knew perhaps too well the
area in which he was to woric One need
look no further than his detailed plot,
made probably in 1866, with latitude observations taken every few miles. He was
convinced that the Howse Pass should
On his return to Canada in 1871,
Moberly sought an audience with his old
friend John A. Macdonald, and as a result
found himself in charge of the Columbia
surveys in B.C. under Sandford Fleming.
Moberly had several parties out - John
Trutch   between   Burrard   Inlet   and
Kamloops, Edward Mohun at Eagle Pass,
Roderick McLennan on the North
Thompson, E.C. Gillette and Ashdown
Green in the East Kootenays. Moberly
himself spent most of his time with the
latter party, where he could personally attend to problems in the Rockies and
Moberly started in July 1871, travelling
by way of Kamloops in order to get his
various parties going, and thence by trail
to Wild Horse Creek. Gillette's party spent
the rest of the year in cutting trail and
bringing up supplies from the Columbia
source to the Blaeberry River, where they
went into winter quarters, but not before
Moberly had made a preliminary investigation of the Howse Pass. On Dec. 4,
Moberly left for Victoria. His diary, with
its specimens of pressed wildflowers is still
intact in B.C.'s Archives, and there is
much to be learned from it:
"Nov. 16 - propose to explore die Selkirk
Range by a valley I discovered in 1866,
when exploring for the Govt, of B.C., but
which I never had the opportunity to examine thoroughly This valley I then named
the Valley ofthe Three Pyramids . . .the lat
ofthe easterly side of this valley where it joins
the Columbia is 51 44'. There is also a
valley which joins the Columbia River in lat
51 31' 06", that I discovered at the same
time which might be favorable for a pass".
Moberly proceeded to Victoria by way
ofthe pass at 51 44' - he had a hard time
of it, and wrote that he was convinced this
pass never would answer as a line for a
railway. As for the valley at 51 31' 06" -
Jenkins' trail - it seems that again Moberly
had missed the future Rogers' Pass, this
time from the easterly side; and the events
that followed put any further probing of
the Selkirks out ofthe question.
What happened next to Moberly is so
well described in Pierre Berton's book, the
National Dream, that I will only set
down an oudine. In Victoria, Moberly received authority from the Engineer-in-
Chief to run a trail line over the Howse
Pass, which, in view of his already rigid
opinion of its merits, he interpreted as
sanction for arranging a detailed location
survey. He made plans for 1872 season
with this in mind. In April, on the eve of
his departure for the field, he received an-
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 other telegram from Sandford Fleming
stating that the Yellowhead Pass had been
chosen as the official route.
In retrospect, there is something downright strange about these events. What
Chief Engineer would wait until April -
after expensive and complicated arrangements would necessarily have been already
made for the parties in the field - to inform his deputy ofthe main objective for
the field season? Obviously the antipathy
was already there, and it had led to the
lack of communication. Moberly was
forced to make hurried last minute cancellations - which were expensive - and after
abandoning much of his accumulated
stores at the Blaeberry River, started
moving his men up the Columbia valley,
opening up pack-trail all the way to Boat
Encampment. By November he had
brought them through the Athabasca Pass,
and made a depot for winter quarters near
the site of old Henry House.
In September, Moberly met Sandford
Fleming in the Yellowhead Pass, having
taken all season to move his men to the
new location. It is not recorded whether
the meeting was stormy, but it could
hardly have been otherwise. Both men, in
later recollections, blamed each other for
the situation.
When Fleming left to proceed to
Victoria, Moberly kept his parties at work
till December, surveying to the Fiddle
River, then went into winter quarters.
Shortly afterwards Marcus Smith was ap
pointed to take over from him, and after
doing some work in the Tete Jaune Cache
area, Moberly travelled south to
Kamloops, where he handed over to
He left B.C. shortly after this, spent several months in Ottawa, where he claimed
that Sandford Fleming held up payment
of his accounts, then moved to Winnipeg.
Here he contracted and built the City's
first sewer system, and for the following
few years he was involved in the engineering of various Manitoba railroads, and
for a line to Hudson's Bay.
He was, with some reason, an embittered man, and not one to suffer in silence. His dictated biography is remarkably accurate, considering that he was 82
at the time of publication and though he
stops short of actually claiming that he
discovered the Rogers Pass, it is obvious
that he felt cheated in this respect. He not
only rails against the treatment he received
from Fleming, but also against the final
constructed route of the C.PR through
the Kicking Horse and Rogers Passes. In
those early years he had a point. The
grades down the Big Hill of the Kicking
Horse were a whopping 4.5% with runaway trains frequent; and in 1910 successive avalanches from both sides of the
Rogers Pass killed 62 railway workers.
These concerns would, of course, be addressed by the engineering masterpiece of
the Spiral Tunnels, and the Connaught
Tunnel - the latter completed the year
after Moberly died. In fact with the main
line approaching from Calgary, it is hard
to see what other routes could be chosen
(certainly not the Howse Pass).
He returned to British Columbia in
1897. His name is mentioned in prospects
for two B.C. railroads - the Vancouver
Northern & Yukon Rly, and the
Vancouver and Northern Rly, neither of
which materialized, both ending up in the
Defunct Railways Act of 1926/7.
The old explorer lived his later years in
retirement in Vancouver. He was often in
demand as an after dinner speaker, and
was an honorary member of the
Vancouver Canadian Club. His friends
would sometimes visit him at his address
on Hornby Street, and play a few hands of
rummy before he retired to bed with a
glass of grog; and - perhaps - he would remark wryly to his cronies how poorly it
compared with the Hudson's Bay mm of
the good old days.
He passed away in the Vancouver
General Hospital on May 12th 1915, the
same year as his nemesis Sandford
Fleming. Walter Moberly was the author
of "The Rocks and Rivers of British
Columbia" - London 1885, and several
publications pertaining to exploration in
B.C. He was unmarried.
RA. B.C.
Howie & Scholefield, Vol. 111-1914.
Men At Meridians, Vol. II - Don W. Thomson. 1967.
B.C Chronicles - Akrigg, Discovery Press 1977.
Pioneer Surveyors in the Ftaser Valley -W.N. Draper B.C.LS.
P.&E. Rly to the North - Bruce Ramsay, Mitchell Press 1962.
The National Dream - Pierre Berton, McLellan & Stewart 1970.
Surveyor-General's Records. Victoria.
The Retribution ofD. G.F. Macdonald C.E.
by H. Barry Cotton
Two books about British Columbia
were published in 1862. Macdonald's
British Columbia and Vancouver's Island
followed on the heels of Capt. Mayne's
"Four years in British Columbia". But
reading after a time-lapse of 136 years, any
errors later uncovered being duly discounted, the same is not true of
Macdonald's book.
This book was plainly written with an
ulterior motive, rather than simply to in
form. It is studded with gross errors, and
the author did not hesitate to distort the
truth in his purpose to portray the future
Province in the worst possible light. The
reader may well wonder why, especially
considering that the author spent a mere
12 months in the country.
Macdonald has been described as a
Scottish Engineer. That he was Scottish is
undeniable, and as an engineer he was one
of the first to be employed (as a civilian
surveyor) by Col. Moody, in laying out
the city blocks of Queensborough (City of
New Westminster). He was also a journalist, and had written several books, one
of which - "What the farmers may do with
their land"- was advertised in the Victoria
Gazette Feb. 26, 1859, soon after his arrival in B.C., and also on July 23, 1859.
On Feb. 28, 1859, Macdonald made
tender for surveying under Col. Moody,
and on March 20th accepted an engage-
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 ment to lay out town lots in
Queensborough. He spent from April 2nd
till July 11th on this work. From a study
of Macdonald's over twenty-five letters
written during this time, all couched in
the quasi-polite verbiage of official correspondence, it would seem that he was a
decidedly "prickly" employee; indeed, he
soon constituted a fairly large thorn in the
side of Col. Moody. His complaints were
at first about small matters - accommodation, time-off, objections to administrative
methods; also about a lot in
Queensborough that he purchased in June
by auction, and for which he later refused
payment; but his charges culminated in a
long letter to Col. Moody dated July 2nd
(with copy to Governor Douglas) in
which Col. Moody was blundy accused of
incompetence, using "make-shift"
methods, and was even further to blame
for having ignored Macdonald's own
freely given advice.
Governor Douglas' order of July 7,
1859, requiring that all civilian surveyors
be discharged, soon put an end to
Macdonald's contract, and he handed in
his stores on July 11th. However, his disputations regarding pay and other financial matters went on for several months.
It is interesting to note that, regardless
of the Governor's edict, J.W Trutch who
was also a civilian surveyor, entered into a
contract with the Lands & Works Dept.
on July 25th. Macdonald, however, was
not rehired.
In the summer of 1859, it so happened
that Lt. Richard Roche, a naval officer and
member of the British Boundary
Commission working on the 49th parallel, was recalled to his ship. He had been
engaged in running the section between
Chilliwack Lake and the Skagit River.
Macdonald applied for this vacancy, and
was given a civilian contract to carry on
with the work.
Several of Macdonald's letters, written
from the 49th parallel are extant. One,
which also appeared as a public notice in
rhe Colonist Oct. 15, 1859, solicits statements of facts to be used for a report on
B.C. and Vancouver Island "for an official
quarter at home". It is not known what
replies he got from this obvious incite
ment to air grievances, but it is logical to
assume that the ideas would be used in his
forthcoming book.
He also made a second application to
Col. Moody for 1000 acres of land on the
Fraser River near the Pitt River junction.
He was "ready on behalf of one or two of my
constituents to purchase the land". With the
application was to go an exclusive right of
fishing. This application was referred by
Moody to Governor Douglas, who noted
that Macdonald could either pre-empt or
purchase land, but "no exceptional case can
be made in his favour"; and turned thumbs
down on the fishing rights. Col. Moody
forthwith (and correcdy) refused the application.
On Nov. 7th, 1859, Macdonald applied
to have his claims heard by a third party
and on Nov. 15th he published his July
2nd letter to Col. Moody, word for word,
in the New Westminster Tunes. Thus far
he had done litde to recommend himself
to the administration (who were the principal employers of civil engineers), and his
contribution to the growing colonies had
been slight. Strangely enough, Feb. 20th,
CD *•*• -WW ••• PMMMN f.MgW.—«*.
■ y«f •■—V. * ■
u : s s a-
Royal Engineers' Plan for New Westminster
15 B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 1860, saw two letters - to Col. Moody and
to Capt. Parsons, requesting a "letter of recommendation". It is not known whether he
obtained one; it does seem unlikely. But a
worse blot was about to descend on his
When Col. Hawkins, the British
Commissioner, returned from London,
England, in March I860, he was greeted
with the news that the section of the line
recendy done by Macdonald was so inaccurate as to be valueless. (It would be redone later by Lt. Samuel Anderson). By
this time, it is assumed, Macdonald had
left the country. And - if the probable
opinion ofthe administration can only be
guessed at - not a moment too soon!
Of. Hf. Hf. Hf. 3b:
Macdonald's book (524 pages) was published in London, England in 1862. It was
British Columbia and
Vancouver's Island
a description of these dependencies:
their physical character, climate, capabilities, population, trade, natural history, geology, ethnology, gold-fields, and future
an account ofthe manners and customs
of the native Indians.
Author Duncan George Forbes
Macdonald C.E., was mentioned as "late
ofthe Government survey staff of B.C., and
ofthe International Boundary line of North
America", and as author of three previous
books. A copy of Arrowsmith's 1862 map
was included. Shortly afterwards (March
27, 1863), Macdonald delivered a lecture
at the Royal United Service Institute. He
now sported several more letters after his
name - after C.E. came F.R.G.S.,
Here are some examples of Macdonald's
combination of distorted half-truths and
virulent prose, which so raised the hackles
of British Columbians:
". . . .in British Columbia, where it
would be vain to attempt to describe the
hardships endured by the poor, half-clad
struggling people . . . poor creatures; even
now the scenes of misery which I have witnessed in that dependency rise before me -
men, women and children famishing for
want of a crust of bread... where charity has
no existence, and where the most exaggerated
tales of wretchedness and crime, fall far short
of what the newly arrived colonist feels and
"Believe me, hopeful immigrant, when I
warn you that if you cast yourself a penniless
wanderer upon the wild territory of British
Columbia, even the sky over your head will
rack you with bitter winds and pitiless tempest, you will almost cease to be a man and
will find yourself worse off than the brute. .
"British Columbia is a miserable country
neither adapted for cattle nor suited for cereals . . . The unproductive qualities of
British Columbia agriculturally are entirely
beyond doubt; and he who goes thither to
pursue this art will return, if he ever should
return, a disappointed and ruined man... "
Macdonald's disdain was not simply
confined to the land. It extended to native
people also, viz:
"... Murder is no crime amongst these ferocious beings, who stab, shoot, scalp and eat
their enemies with the voracity of their companion wolves. . . .they are revengeful, deceitful and unrestrained liars; and to crown
all, get rid ofthe sick and aged by burning
them alive. . .
As for outright "boners", here are two of
the worst:
"In that portion (ofB.C.) which lies north
ofthe 49th parallel there is no harbour with
the exception of Burrard's Inlet, about 12
miles up the coast from the mouth of the
"Vancouver's Island has an area of about
1670 sq. miles.. .
All of the above leads me to an unavoidable comment. It is not surprising
that the distinction of Fellow ofthe Royal
Geographical Society was held in such low
esteem at the time (as was the case), when
a man could get himself elected a Fellow
by publishing such inaccurate rubbish.
News of publication of this compendium of misinformation burst upon
the colonies by means of a leading article
(it took up nearly all of page 1) in the
Colonist Nov. 6, 1862, and needless to
say it created considerable furor. The article ended by saying: "probably a greater
collection of lies was never put together".
Page 3 ofthe Colonist on Nov. 29, 1862
bore the headline "Macdonald suffering
from the horrors". Letters to the Colonist
and to the London Times about
Macdonald were still being written by
outraged citizens until 1866.
Unfortunately for the two budding
colonies, Macdonald's book went into
three editions, and received excellent reviews from leading newspapers and magazines. In Britain, at any rate, he was rated
as an expert on the subject of British
Columbia. As late as 1878 - now as Dr.
D.G.F. Macdonald - he was still actively
writing to decry the Province. If this was
war - and it certainly was a war of words -
it was plain who was winning.
It wasn't until 1872 that British
Columbia found a champion. Gilbert
Malcolm Sproat, the first Agent-General
for B.C., opened an office in London,
England, in August of that year. Less than
a month later he ran into Macdonald's
baleful influence. In his letter of Sept. 3,
1872 to the Provincial Secretary, Sproat
mentions Macdonald thus:
"... I hope my recollection is not wrong in
recording that for some ungentlemanly conduct he was kicked down the stairs of a club
or hotel in Victoria, or it was (so) proposed ".
If such had been the case, it would undoubtedly have been the highlight in
Macdonald's short, Pacific North-West ca
However, it certainly was time that the
record was set straight, and with the advent of the Agent-General's office, men
such as Gilbert M. Sproat were at least
able to counteract the trash that had been
peddled by Macdonald, and give the
Province the boost which its people deserved.
Retired Land Surveyor Cotton works with a
team which is compiling biographies of pioneer
surveyors in British Columbia. He notes that
this particular study of Macdonald is the only
one which presented evidence of a totally negative nature.
Mapping the Frontier. G.F.G. Stanley. Macmillan, Toronto, 1970.
Pioneer Surveys in rhe Fraser Valley. W.N. Draper. B.C. Hist. Q. Vol.
V.*3, 1940.
British Columbia & Abncouvers Island. D.G.F Maodonald. Longman
Green & Co. London 1862.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Lytton Alfalfa
by VC. Brink
In the 1920's for a few years
the little town of Lytton, B.C.
was famous in North American
agriculture - famous for its alfalfa
seed and famous for a controversy the seed engendered.
It may be hard to realize today
but in the early 1920s alfalfa was
not the important crop it is today
over most of our continent and
over the world. In much of
Canada today we see it in fields,
seeding naturally on roadsides
and natural grasslands.
In the first decade of this century, alfalfa cultivation was almost entirely confined to the
Southwestern States and Mexico.
There non winter-hardy narrow-
crowned Spanish type alfalfa was
grown. In a very few places and
on very limited acreages in
Ontario, New York and Virginia somewhat more winter-hardy strains mainly of
German origin had been established.
Then in the years immediately before and
during the 1914-18 war, the virtues of
German type alfalfa - its perenniality, its
high yields and nitrogen - fixing capabilities were recognized and extolled by men
such as Lyman in Minnesota (sponsoring
Grimm type alfalfa) and Zavitz at the
Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph
(sponsoring the Ontario Variegated
strain). The demand for seed rose rapidly.
The rising demand and high prices for
alfalfa seed drew the attention of alfalfa
growers in and around Lytton and in the
Nicola Valley where Spanish type alfalfas
had been grown for most of a century.
Men coming from the California gold
rush of 1849-1855 to the Cariboo gold
rush of 1859-1865 had seeded alfalfa of
California origin to feed horses, camels
and other domesticated animals on the
terraces of the Fraser, Thompson and
Nicola rivers. Lytton alfalfa seed sold
readily in the middle western states. At the
On Terraces such as this above the Fraser and Thompson rivers near Lytton, B.C, Spanish type alfalfa were seeded to meet
the needs of beasts of burden during the Cariboo Gold Rush, 1858-1865. Subsequently in tbe 1920's, seed from these alfalfa
strains was widely used in die Middle Western States and Eastern Canada.
same time shiploads of dusty, weed and
disease laden plants of alfalfa came to West
Coast ports from Asia. In rhe last century
individual plants would live for decades,
some perhaps for 50 years until the introduction in the 1940's of diseases such as
bacterial and verticillium wilt.
Unfortunately, much of the seed exported from Lytton and elsewhere produced plants which were not usually able
to survive the winters ofthe Central States
and Ontario. Lytton seed was roundly
condemned by agronomists such as
"Alfalfa" Graber of Wisconsin and demand for it dropped.
There was a good result nonetheless.
Legislation was passed in Canada and in
the USA to certify seeds as to country of
origin and breeding programs were started
to develop winter hardy strains. Hardy
strains came from areas such as Ladak in
the Himalayas of Northern India and
from species of alfalfa native to Russia and
Siberia. One breeding program initiated
by LS. Klinck, Dean of Agriculture, and
later President of the youthful University
of B.C. hybridized winter hardy plants
from the Don Valley of Russia with
Ontario Variegated German type plants;
winter hardy "Rhizoma" type plants produced by G.G. Moe & others associated
with this program became widely used by
other breeding programs in many parts of
the world.
New disease-resistant winter-hardy alfalfa varieties steadily replace the old but in
the Dry Interior of B.C. one can still see
some plants in the alfalfas of roadside,
grassland and field with characteristics of
form, flower, colour and seed which made
the Spanish type alfalfa of Lytton in the
1920s and 1930's quite famous.
Dr. VC Brink was a professor of Plant
Science at tbe University of British Columbia.
In his youth he worked waii G.G. Moe, and did
some research in die Lytton area with anthropologist Wayne Suttles.
EDITORS NOTE: Since reading this article
we have observed scattered self-seeded alfalfa
with blooms of deep purple, light purple, yellow
and white here in die East Kootenay.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Unapologetically Jewish:
Unapologetically Canadian
Vancouver, British Columbia, is a city
inhabited by a diversity of ethnic groups.
Each ethnic group has achieved varying
degrees of assimilation1 with the "dominant society"2, either by choice or through
pressure from the resident community. It
would seem logical to assume that small
groups would assimilate more readily and
be less likely to maintain their distinctive
culture in their new surroundings. In the
case ofVancouver one small ethnic group,
the Jewish community3, has achieved a
balance between blending into the dominant society while at the same time preserving its unique identity as a cohesive
group. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how Vancouvers Jewish community has developed and maintained this
balance. It does so by examining the life
experiences of one couple, Minnie and
"Pucky" Pelman (both born and raised in
History of Vancouver's Jewish
Christine Wisenthal identifies two
major waves of Jewish immigration to
British Columbia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries:
The first wave, composed largely of Jews of
German and West European origin, came to
British Columbia during the gold-rush period 1858-1871. The second wave, composed for the most part of East European
Jews, settled in the province between 1886
By 1910, the Jewish population in
Vancouver rose to two hundred families,
which then grew to six hundred families
by the 1930s5. After the Second World
War, Vancouver experienced another significant wave of immigration when
Holocaust survivors from all over Europe
arrived along with second and third generation Jews from Central Canada and the
Prairie provinces.6 Between  1941-1951,
by Carrie Schlappner
the Jewish population grew from 2,812 to
The first wave of Jewish immigration to
Vancouver began with many Jews already
living in Victoria since 1858. Up until this
time most Jewish migrants to British
Columbia were able to blend into the
dominant society with ease. Originating
largely from the United States and British
Empire, these people spoke English and
had already been integrated into the way
of life and relative affluence of Anglo-
Saxon society.8 By the 1880s, several coinciding events changed the direction and
class of migration to Canada: the Russian
pogroms9 forced many Jews to abandon
their homes to escape violent persecution,
Canadian immigration actively recruited
East Europeans,10 the completion of the
transcontinental railway to the Pacific
Coast contributed to Vancouver's economic growth, and the Canadian government's policy to fill up empty lands ofthe
West,11 opened to settlement by the railways, all encouraged migration.12 Having
to overcome language, cultural and economic barriers, East European Jews found
the adjustment to Vancouver society difficult. Their integration into North
American life took place through a combination of self-initiative and community
Jean Gerber comments that after the
Second World War, the Canadian government showed little understanding of the
actual situation of displaced persons (including Holocaust survivors). For example, they rejected the adjustment of
regulations to accommodate large numbers of immigrants.13 "The reluctance of
the Canadian government to develop a
comprehensive immigration and citizenship policy during the critical years 1945-
1952 forced Jews to rely on their co-religionists for integration into Canadian society, and in so doing further impeded the
process which it claimed it wanted: quick
assimilation of immigrants to some uniform "Canadian" identity".14 Had it not
been for the persistent efforts of Holocaust
survivors ("survivors") and the Canadian
Jewish community to rescue the displaced
throughout the post-war period, the significant growth of the Jewish population
in Vancouver as well as the rest of Canada
might not have occurred.
In the eady decades of this century, most of
Vancouver's Jewish people lived in simple
working-class houses. . .in the East End of
town, within walking distance of their shops
on Cordova and Water Streets and ofthe
Synagogue at Pender Street and Heatley
From the late nineteenth-century to
1920s, more than half of Vancouver's
Jewish community of 250 families lived in
the East End Strathcona district, between
Gore and Raymur Avenues and between
Cordova and Prior Streets, part of present-
day "Chinatown".16 A synagogue was built
in 1911-1912 by the Orthodox congregation of B'nai Yedudah (Sons of Isreal), on
the corner of Pender Street and Headey
Avenue, and the Reform congregation
held services in rented premises17. In 1917
the Orthodox congregation and synagogue were renamed Schara Tzedeck
(Gates of Righteousness), which was rebuilt in 1921 to accommodate a larger
congregation. At this time, the afternoon
Hebrew school for children (which developed into the Talmud Torah) moved from
a house at 514 Headey Avenue, to a room
in the new Schara Tzedeck.18 Other services in the Strathcona neighbourhood
catered to the Jewish community, including Jewish publications, Talmud
Torah Hall, Zionist hall, Neighborhood
House, schools, kosher butcher shops,
groceries, confectioneries, doctors' offices
and drug stores.19
By the 1930s, those Jews beginning to
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 ascend the economic and social ladders
were establishing residences south of False
Creek, beginning with roughly thirty
upper middle class families (established
merchants and landowners), who lived in
the affluent West End neighbourhoods of
Mount Pleasant, Fairview and
Shaughnessy.20 Soon after the residential
community began its trek westward, the
first Jewish Community Centre was built
at Oak and 11th Streets in the district of
Fairview. In the 1940s, Jewish institutions
and services followed the geographical
shift of people into their new neighbourhoods. A new Orthodox Congregation
called Beth Hamidrosh B'nai Jacob was
founded in 1943 at Heather Street and
16th Avenue.21 In 1946, the Louis Brier
Home and Extended-Care Hospital for
the aged was established at 41st Avenue
and Oak Street.221948 saw the opening of
the Conservative congregation, Beth Israel
(House of Israel), at Oak Street and 27th
Avenue, the Talmud Torah opened a day-
school in a separate building across the
street, while the Schara Tzedeck relocated
to Fairview at 19th Avenue and Oak
Street.23 The kosher food markets moved
into the area around Broadway and Oak
By the end of World War Two, the
Jewish community had completely deserted the East End. Vancouver's Jewish
community established a distinct residential pattern in Fairview, Shaughnessy, and
Mount Pleasant. Rather than recapitulating die residential experience of earlier
Jewish setdement on the East Side, where
rents were cheap and other immigrant
populations continued to enter, the
Holocaust survivors moved quickly into
proximity to the host community.25 The
host community assisted with this trend
by providing financial assistance and employment opportunities to the new arrivals. With increasing affluence and the
opening of new residential districts in the
1960s and 1970s, the population continued its shift southward and westward,
into the additional districts of Oakridge,
Kerrisdale and South Cambie. However,
the concentration of people and institutions remained at Oak Street between
15th and 57th Avenues, making it what
Leonoff calls the "Jewish main street".26
New services continued to concentrate in
these areas: a revitalized Jewish
Community Centre was built on 41st
Avenue and Oak Street in 1962, while the
Reform Congregation, Temple Shalom,
was relocated in the late 1980s to 57th
Avenue and Oak Street. Unlike suburban
trends in most North American cities, the
majority of the Jewish population of
Vancouver settled in the central city rather
than migrate to the suburbs.
"Nevertheless, rapid growth of adjoining
municipalities has resulted in the establishment of sizable Jewish populations in
Richmond-Delta, the North Shore and
Burquest, who have organized their own
Jewish community life".27
The 1991 census indicates a concentration of Jewish residences along the "Jewish
main street", as well as a continuing trend
of movement westward. Approximately
41% of Jewish population lived between
Main Street and Granville Street, and
45% of the Jewish population lived West
of Granville Street. With the average percentage of the Jewish population to the
overall population of Vancouver being
1.45%, Jewish concentrations of 4% or
more in some neighbourhoods is significant. Concentrations of the Jewish population are still found in the traditional
Fairview, Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale,
Oakridge, and South Cambie areas, but
there are now high concentrations of the
Jewish population scattered further West.
Thus we can see a trend of movement into
a variety of affluent areas, with only minor
representation in the lower-income areas
ofthe East side (7%) ofVancouver.
No ethnic group is completely homogeneous. Within the Jewish community
there are a variety of religious affiliations
including orthodox, conservative, reform,
and secular. Country of origin prior to immigration can influence the cultural traits
of individuals, as can economic background, education, and life experiences.
However, some cultural traits are held in
common by a preponderant number who
are not linked to religious affiliation alone.
In the early twentieth-century, the
number of East European immigrants
grew within a short period of time, and by
the end of World War One they had become the predominant influence in the
Jewish community ofVancouver.28
This group brought with them several
characteristics nurtured in the ghettos of
Europe: Orthodox Hebrew religion and customs; Jewish nationalism (as manifest in
Zionism); a penchant for democracy; a passion for education; a clannishness of family
and community life; an aggressiveness of
acumen in trade conditioned from generations of "hand-to-mouth" living; and the
tzedaka - the practice of charity and justice.
These members ofthe community never regarded their citizenship in Canada as antithetical to their Jewish religion, culture or
support of Jewish nationalism.29
For these East European refugees life
was hard. Canadian ways were alien to
them, including the English language.
Many were destitute, having been forced
to leave everything they owned behind in
order to escape persecution in Europe and
Russia. This group became one of the
leading forces behind Vancouver's organized Jewish community, forming groups
to assist new immigrants and the existing
population (discussed below).
Some authors such as Christine
Wisenthal30 and Freda Walhouse31 emphasize the divisions that existed in the early
twentieth-century between the German-
Jewish merchants, who were largely reform and assimilationist, and the Eastern
Europeans who arrived later and were
largely orthodox. Walhouse comments
that the Jewish community's influence on
Vancouver as a whole was diminished "because of a major split dividing the community on religious grounds".32 However,
despite any initial tensions within Jewish
society, between 1910-1930 the Jewish
community was firmly established and
had founded most of the basic organizations that form the core ofthe community
to this day.
Among [the organizations] were: B'nai
B'rith (1910), Hebrew Aid and
Immigrant Society (1910), Zionist and
Social Society (1913), Hebrew Free Loan
Association (1915), Hadassah (1920),
Council of Jewish Women (1924), Jewish
Community Chest (1924), Hebrew
Athletic Club (1925), B'nai B'rith
Women  (1927), Jewish Administrative
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Minnie (nee hen) and Solomon ("Pucky") Pebnan ■
Council (1932), Jewish Congress (1934),
Jewish Family Service Agency (1936). In
1926 the Council of Jewish Women
opened a Neighbourhood House in
Strathcona, which was superseded in 1928
by a Jewish community Centre in
Many of these associations were a direct
reflection ofthe Jewish culture and its priorities. For instance, the Hebrew Aid and
Immigrant Society is a reflection of the
principle of tzedaka, or "taking care of
their own". As Cyril Leonoff describes.
This society was one ofthe earliest institutions in Vancouver, assisting the needy immigrants passing through the port or arriving to stay in the community with money
food clothes, and shelter. It also provided services to local homes, old folks' homes, hospitals, orphanages, and to inmates of asylums
and penitentiaries. The welfare work of this
society eventually amalgamated with later
organizations, such as the Jewish community
Chest and the Jewish Welfare Bureau.34
The Jewish Community Chest is also
an example of how the Jewish community
contributed to and influenced the dominant society: as the first central fund-
raising body for the Jewish community established in 1924, it became a model for
the city-wide Vancouver Community
Chest when it was established in 1931.
The community as a whole knew that
they could depend on each other for assistance and work opportunities, and they
supported Jewish businesses and stores
with ardor. The Jewish community's
Engagement photo c. 1937.
Photo courtesy of the Pelmans.
strong work ethic and determination to
succeed are both legacies of their experiences and have become ingrained in their
This tradition of "taking care of their
own" continued after the Second World
War when community associations were
active in the rescue and setdement of
Holocaust survivors in Vancouver. The
leadership of these groups mobilized behind the effort to integrate the survivor
immigrants, while the host community
provided occupational opportunities, special educational programs, residential areas
accessible and desirable to the newcomers, and institutions which accommodated them.35 By using the existing facilities to integrate into society, by choosing
residential areas where concentrations of
Jews already lived, and by entering occupations which placed them on economic
parity with the host community, the survivors contributed to the maintenance of a
homogeneous group identity in
Vancouver.36 In this way, "conflict between
the two groups was minimized and
chances for the receiving community to
learn about the unique survivor experience
was maximized".37 In fact, the well-performed setdement of the newcomers entered into the mythology of the community,38 and contributed to its cohesive nature. While there had been fundraising activities in support of Zionism and the
population of Palestine since the 1920s,35
some sectors of the Jewish community
have rallied around organizing support for
the State of Israel since its establishment in
1948*111115 Zionism has been another
source of collective identity in addition to
the myth of setdement of newcomers.
While there has been an increasing
trend towards the secularization of Jewish
life in the late twentieth-century, and religious motivations are no longer a prime
factor in dictating residential preferences,
residential concentrations, as mentioned
above, continue to characterize urban
Jewish life and may become the principal
bond that holds the community together.'" "Residence has continued to have
a major impact on other factors such as social affiliations and information networks
of friends, business acquaintances, children and family"42.
From the 1880s on, Jewish immigrants
were mainly poor, working-class or lower
middle-class from Russia and Poland who
started out in business with a horse and
wagon as junk pedlars. Others became
second-hand storekeepers or artisans such
as tailors and shoemakers, located along
the main business streets of Vancouvers
early days: Water, Cordova, and
Westminster (Main) Streets, within
walking distance of their homes and synagogue.43 Eventually with hard work and
through mutual assistance, members of
the Jewish community graduated to better
livelihoods.44 In the 1920s and 1930s,
many became small-store owners, specializing in retail merchandise establishments
along Hastings Street, then on Granville
Street, which became rhe primary retail
streets in Vancouver.45 The Jewish community included some prominent businessmen in the first days ofVancouver,
most importandy David Oppenheimer
and his family of grocery wholesalers.
Oppenheimer was the second mayor of
Vancouver (1888-91), and during that
time he helped organize some ofthe city's
infrastructure, including the water supply
and sidewalks, and was active in the procurement of Stanley Park from rhe federal
government.46 The tradition of active
community involvement continued in the
late twentieth-century, with Dave Barrett,
leader ofthe New Democratic Party, being
the first Jew to hold the office of Premier
in British Columbia from 1972-1975.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Historically, the Jewish community has
been concentrated not only in residential
areas, but also in certain sectors of the
economy. Occupational concentrations
have ranged from the junk pedlars and
shopkeepers ofthe late nineteenth-century
to the wholesale and retail trades in the
1930s (47.2% in 1931).47 By the time of
the 1951 census, it was evident that the
Jewish population was concentrated in
white collar occupations in British
Columbia such as the categories of proprietors / managers (40.4%), commercial /
sales (14.1%), professionals (12.9%), and
clerical jobs (10.8%).48 Furthermore, die
community's fundraising structure reflected its occupational configuration,
with prominent businessmen and professionals dominating the leadership of
major Jewish organizations.49 This concentration in professional and white collar occupations can be attributed in part to the
priority placed on higher education. As
Leonoff describes,
Regardless of their financial situation . .
.Jewish families retained the characteristic respect for formal education. . . The parents
and older children labored to make a good
education possible for the younger children.
In typical Jewish fashion, every family
dreamed of having at least one doctor or
lawyer.50   '
By the late 1920s-1930s, Jewish children were enrolling in universities and entering the professions, eventually becoming the new leaders of the Jewish
community.51 In fact, by the 1970s, "occupations have become more diversified, involving participation in virtually all
fields".52 Holocaust survivors reinforced
this trend by quickly achieving economic
parity with the resident Jewish community through moving from low-skilled jobs
into entrepreneurial or skilled occupations
with assistance from the host community
and their own initiative.
Minnie Pelman(nee Izen) and Solomon
("Pucky") Pelman have been married for
over sixty years. Both have lived in
Vancouver since they were born, in 1916
and 1915 respectively. Theirs is a unique
story of a lifetime commitment to each
other and to the Jewish community in
Vancouver. Their story also reflects the
many trends that thread through the history of Vancouver's Jewish community.
Both Pucky's parents, Harry and Sarah
Rose (nee Rothstein) Pelman, and
Minnie's parents, William and Mary (nee
Fisher) Izen, moved to Vancouver in
search of better opportunities. The
Pelmans were married in their hometown
of Minsk, Russia, and went to New York
to escape the pogroms. They proceeded to
Vancouver in 1911 to join some of Sarah's
relatives, including her brothers. Minnie's
parents came from different parts of
Eastern Europe: Mary Fisher immigrated
to Vancouver from Lithuania in 1915 to
join her aunt, while William Izen left
Warsaw, Poland, with his brother and
sister, arriving in British Columbia in
In their early years as Vancouver residents, Minnie's family lived on East
Georgia Street and Pucky's family lived on
Keefer Street, which were located across
the lane from each other in Vancouver's
Downtown East Side, or as Pucky calls it,
"the ghetto".53 This "ghetto" consisted of
several new immigrant groups, which
tended to be segregated along ethnic lines.
As Minnie explains,
On Union Street the next block over, there
were the Italians, [South of us]. On our side,
we had two blocks, I'd say of the Jewish
people. Towards the False Creek, about three
blocks over, then the Chinese started and
they went all the way to Carrall Street, and
to the Creek.54
The Izens and Pelmans were family
friends, and as children Minnie and Pucky
attended the local Orthodox synagogue,
Schara Tzedeck, as well as Seymour
Elementary School and Talmud Torah
Hebrew school. Being a year younger,
Minnie often spent more time with
Pucky's brother, Norman. Until she was
twelve, that is. As Minnie recounts,
One day I was twelve years old, and his
younger brother was visiting me, and he
[Pucky] comes over and he says to Norman.
. . "You can go home now, I'm here", and
that was it, from the time we were twelve.55
And so this was the beginning of
Minnie and Pucky's life together, attending Templeton Junior High, then
Britannia High School,56 and spending
time with friends. While living in the East
End, their network of friends was pre-
dominandy Jewish, which expanded to include a variety of ethnic groups once they
reached high school. As adults, they met
non-Jews and maintained close friendships with them for many years. Yet it
seems that their strongest relationships
have been with people from the Jewish
community. As Minnie said, "the people
we grew up with were our friends for
life".57 Pucky continued,
It's an amazing thing actually since you
mention that. Two other couples grew up
down in the East End there, got married
within a year, the three of us, three couples,
we celebrated our anniversaries for forty years
and they're still alive, and we [just] celebrated our sixtieth. . 5e
As teens, Minnie and Pucky participated in youth organizations and sports
within the Jewish community. Pucky belonged to the Young Judaeans, Young
Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA), and
he played sports with the Young Judaea
Softball Team. Minnie was a member of
the women's branch of the Young
Judaeans and, as she jokes, "we spent the
time watching the boys play baseball then
going and leaving with dates."59
In 1933, the Izens and Pelmans moved
out of the East end to the new districts
opening in south-west Vancouver. The
Izens settled at 14th Avenue and Oak,
while the Pelmans were located at 10th
Avenue and Columbia, both areas containing high concentrations of Jews.
When asked if a conscious decision was
At their 60th Wedding Anniversary, Minnie &
Solomon ("Pucky") Pebnan, 1997.
Photo courtesy of C Schlappner.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 made to live near other Jews, Minnie commented that after moving out of the
ghetto, "then we [the Jewish community]
spread out according to what each person
could afford. [The background of people
in their new neighbourhood was] all
mixed."60 This remark reflects the strong
correlation in the Jewish community between occupational concentration, degree
of affluence and residential geographic location (discussed earlier). Similarities in
economic status reinforced the tendency
of people in the Jewish community to remain geographically concentrated.
Once married in 1937, Minnie and
Pucky moved several times, yet always remained close to the "Jewish main street",
described above.61 Minnie and Pucky became members ofthe Beth Israel conservative synagogue on Oak Street at 27th
Avenue, attending with their children
every Friday night before the family's
Sabbath dinner (until the kids reached
their teens and became "too busy"62).
Their children, Neil, Barbara, Gayle, and
Stephen,63 all attended Hebrew school at
Beth Israel three times a week. The synagogue has been and remains a central feature in Minnie and Pucky's lives. In fact,
Pucky was a committed member of the
choir and became the conductor in 1973,
a position which he held until this year.
His sense of obligation was so strong that
he sacrificed attending events in his children's lives in order to fulfill his duty to the
choir. Pucky solemnly observed,
Now I start thinking about the times that
I told the children, when they were having
school plays or graduations on a Friday
night, when the choir sang, and I didn't go
to any of them, I went to the choir, and they
didn't say anything... I'm sure they wished
that I was there, but I wasn't.
The children have all distanced themselves from strong religious affiliation, and
both daughters have married gentiles (one
in a second marriage). While religion has
been an important touchstone for Minnie
and Pucky, they are supportive of their
daughters' choice of partners. It is clear
that their children's happiness is their priority.
The fathers of both Pucky and Minnie,
Harry Pelman and William Izen, had initially made their livings in Vancouver as
junk pedlars, riding their horse-drawn
wagons around the East End district. It
was a difficult life at first, but before long,
both men graduated into store-front businesses. Minnie remembers,
He started out in a horse and wagon,
went around the lanes, you know, calling out
for anyone that had anything to sell, you
know, rags to sell. . . when he had enough,
he opened a store on Keefer and Main.... a
second-hand store. . . and he bought three
little stores. One was his and the others he
rented out. He used to rent the corner store
out to the gypsies, whenever they'd come to
Harry Pelman had a more varied work
history. Pucky recounts,
My Dad also started going out peddling.
Then . . . from there he and a friend of his
opened up a pawn shop, BC collateral
which is still in existence. . . They sold out
and my Dad used to make a living any
which way One ofthe things he did. . . he
was a rum-runner.... my uncle used to pick
up liquor here and run it down to Los
Angeles in their old Cadillac. . . the hairy
stories he told us about running away from
the police, gosh . . . My mother . . . I was
told, she used to sell liquor here during the
prohibition. She would get a call at eleven o'clock at night for a bottle from one of her customers, put me in the buggy, I was maybe
two years old or so at the time, . . . and go
and deliver it.. . just to make a living.65
Pucky started contributing to the family
income at age twelve, selling bags of
peanuts at the Ballpark at the Powell Street
Grounds in the early evening. Minnie
often helped him put peanuts in the bags
after school. Pucky remembers,
We had a nice little business going. What
I got for doing all of that was on Saturday I
would get fifteen cents to buy . . . a milkshake and a donut. That was my "pay". . .
the rest went to the family66
Through his adult life, Pucky worked
for a variety of Jewish-owned businesses,
such as Alberta Meats, Silvers Menswear
(which his brother-in-law owned), and
Mother Hubbard Bakery. In 1942,
Minnie and Pucky used the money they
were saving to buy a house to purchase
Sam's Shirt Shop from his cousin, located
Downtown at 621/2 West Hastings Street,
kitty-corner from Woodwards.  Pucky
used profits from his business to sponsor
five bowling teams (he played on one), all
of which had players from outside the
Jewish Community. Close friendships
were formed with these gentile teammates and employees, some of which
lasted a lifetime.67 In 1972, they sold Sam's
Shirt Shop and Pucky went to work for
the Jewish-owned Finn's Clothing store on
West Broadway near MacDonald
Avenue.68 Pucky is still working hard for
the Finn brothers, with no sign of slowing
down. When asked if he had tried to obtain jobs outside of the Jewish community, Pucky remarked, "I didn't even try. I
knew these people."69
Minnie also worked before she and
Pucky married. Her first job was at a
Jewish-owned "five and ten cent store"
downtown at Davie and Granville, called
Blank's. After that she went to a business
school and got a job as a secretary at City
Hall. Since it was widely considered unacceptable for married women to work
during the Great Depression, Minnie left
City Hall in 1937. Once her children
were grown, she worked as a volunteer at
Vancouver General Hospital, Centennial
Hospital and the Louis Breir Home.
When asked if she suffered discrimination
in the workplace, Minnie commented.
When I applied at City Hall I was taken
on my merits. There was only one other
Jewish girl there. But we knew it was hard
for a Jewish person to get in any place else,
outside of a Jewish place.... The Jewish boys
couldn't get a job except somebody they knew
that.. . .already had a business.70
This comment brings up an interesting
point about Minnie and Pucky's experiences: they repeatedly assert that they had
"no problems" growing up, and while they
acknowledge subtle forms of anti-
Semitism like the one mentioned above,
they express very litde bitterness about it:
they seem to accept, "that's just the way it
was". One other story that highlights the
insidious discrimination experienced by
Jews in Vancouver. It involves the
Gleneagles Golf and Country Club,71
which Pucky describes this way:
Most of us used to golf at Langara. And it
was like bribery to get a [tee-off] time. This
fellow [a friend of Pucky's] who made up the
times used to slip him [the Langara em
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 ployee] a couple of extra bucks in order to get
on the course. And finally it came to the
point where... he was really taking advantage. So they72 started to look around to get a
course of their own. That's when they bought
Gleneagles. I remember... We could buy the
course for $65,000. So what we needed was
just enough people to pledge so all I had to
put down was $50, but I had to pledge to
pay off. And it was $500 a person and they
got it and they formed their own Gleneagles
Golf Club. (Minnie interjected, referring
to the Langara Golf Course) - You know
what time? The boys would have to get up at
five in the morning to get there in order to
get them on... That was sort of subtle anti-
The life experiences of Minnie and
Pucky Pelman echo several themes present
in the history of Vancouvers Jewish community. Their parents immigrated to
Vancouver from Russia and Eastern
Europe at a time when they were under
persecution in their homelands and they
were being welcomed into Canada. The
Pelmans have lived in areas where the
Jewish population is concentrated and
have been active members of organizations
such as youth groups and their synagogue,
as adults. Occupationally, their fathers
worked in areas that were dominated by
Jews and Pucky has been consistendy employed by members of his community. All
of these factors contribute to their sense of
ethnic identity. Yet this strong sense of
identity has not hindered their ability to
achieve economic parity with the dominant society, a significant component of
assimilation. They have developed lifelong friendships with gentiles and are supportive of their children's marriages to
non-Jews. While aware of subde anti-
Semitic feelings in the dominant society,
Minnie and Pucky have had very few personal encounters with discrimination.
Given the choice, there is, as Minnie says,
"no place in the world like Vancouver".74
Minnie and Pucky remain unapologetically Jewish, and unapologetically
This essay was written by a student from
Victoria attending UBC Carrie was at or near
the top of die class in History 404 under Dr.
RAJ. McDonald She completed her BA and is
now enrolled in the Education program.
To assimilate is to absorb into the cultural rradidon of a
populadon or group. {Webster's 7th New Collegiate
Dictionary, (Springfield: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976), p. 53).
The success achieved by Vancouver's Jewish Community in
economic and occupational mobility and participation in
business, political/public life ate considered here as major
indicators of assimilation.
Being a society that receives a high degree of immigration from
the rest of Canada and the test of the world, one could aigue
thar rhe definition of Vancouver's "dominant society" has
changed over rime. In this paper, the definition ofthe
"dominant society" refers to the British European customs and
values and English language that have shaped the laws and
government institutions ofVancouver and Canada, and
consequendy the society as a whole
The erhnic nature of Vancouver's Jewish community is best
described in terms of this definition: [an ethnic group is] a
collectivity within a larger society having real or putative
common ancestry, memories of a shared historical past and a
cultural focus on one or more symbolic elements defined as the
epitome of their peopUhood Examples of such symbolic
elements are: kinship patterns, physical contiguity (as in
localism or sectionalism), religious affiliation, or any combination
of these. A necessary accompaniment is some consciousness of kind
among members of the group. (RA Schermcrhom, as quoted in
Jean Getter, "Immigration and Integration in Post-\0ar
Canada: A Case Study of Holocaust Survivors in Vancouver
1947-1970", unpublished MA Thesis. University of British
Columbia, 1989, p. 5-6.) These structural factors also apply:
Ethnicity, defined in terms of frequent patterns of association and
identification with common origins, is crystallized under conditions
of 'residential stability and segregation; common occupational
position, and dependence on local institutions and services which
reinforce the maintenance of kinship and friendship ties. (Will iam
Yanoey, Eugene Ericksen, and Ridiard Juliani.) as quoted in Jean
Gerber. Ibid., p. 8-9.)
Christine Boas Wisenthal, "Insiders and Outsiders: Two ^waves
of Jewish Setdement in British Columbia, 1858-1914",
unpublished MA Thesis, University of British Columbia,
April, 1987, p. it
Cyril Edd Leonoff, Pioneers, Pedlars and Prajvr Shawls:
The Jewish Communities in British Columbia and the
Yukon , (Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1978). p. 86.
Cyril Edd Leonoff, "Cenrennial ofVancouver Jewish Life:
1886-1986", (Vancouver Jewish Western Bulletin. Augusr 14,
and October 2. 1986). p. 18.
Freda Walhouse, "The Influence of Minority Ethnic Groups on
the Cultural Geography ofVancouver", unpublished MA
Thesis, University of Brirish Columbia, September 1961.
Ibid., p. 83.
The Russian government sanctioned the massacre of Jews
during the pogroms (1881-1882). Deborah H. Gemer, One
Land, Two Peoples: The Conflict Over Palatine. (Boulder
Westview Press Inc, 1994), p. 12.
Clifford Sifton, Canada's minister ofthe Interior in Laurier's
adminisrration, implemented an immigration policy which
promoted the arrival of East Europeans between 1896-1905:
58,000 immigrants from Austria-Hungary. 32,000 from Russia
and 8,000 from Italy. Granatstein, J.L et al.. Nation: Canada
Since Confederation, Third Edition, (Toronto: MtGraw-Hill
Ryeison Ltd., 1990), p. 105, 107.
This was also part of Sifton's immigtarion policy. Ibid., 106.
Leonoff. Op Cit., 1978, p. 84.
Jean Gerber, "Immigration and Integration in Posr-War Canada:
A Case Study of Holocaust Survivors in Vancouver 1947-1970",
unpublished MA Thesis, University of British Columbia,
1989, p. 21.
Ibid., p. 21.
Leonoff, Op. Cit, 1978, p. 123.
Ibid., p. 85.
Leonoff. Op. Cir., 1986, p. 10.
Leonoff, Op. Ck, 1978, p. 150.
Leonoff, Op. Cit.. 1986, p. 11.
Ibid., p. 10-11,17.
Leonoff. Op. Cit., 1978, p. 142.
Leonoff, Op. Cit., 1986, p. 13.
Freda Walhouse, "The Influence of Minority Groups on the
Cultural Geography ofVancouver", unpublished MA Thesis,
University of British Columbia. September, 1961, p. 160.
Gerber, Op Cit., 1989. p. 44.
"Host community" refers to the established Jewish community
in Vancouver prior to the survivors' arrival. Ibid., p. 52.
Leonoff, Op Cit.. 1978, p. 19.
Leonoff, Op Cit., 1986, p. 22.
Ibid., p. 85.
Ibid., p. 85.
Wisenthal. Op Cit... 1987.
Walhouse, Op Cir., 1961, p. 162.
Ibid., p. 162.
Leonoff, Op Cit., 1986, p. 12.
Ibid., p. 99.
Gerber. Op Cit., 1989, p. 49.
Ibid., p. 52.
Ibid., p. 52.
Ibid., p. 49. Gerber explains that "in every subsequent
community account of post-war activities, resettlement ofthe
survivors was cited as being of paramount impottance, both fbt
the survivors' wd!-being and as an indication ofthe strength
and cohesiveness of Vancouver's Jewish networks and
39. Walhouse, Op Cit.. 1961, p. 161-162. The Hadassah was
organized by Jewish women in Vancouver in 1920 for this
40. Ibid., p. 162.
41. Gerber, Op Cir., 1989, p. 54, Source Calvin Goldscheider and
Alan Zuckerman. The Transformation of die Jews, (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1984) pp. 224-227.
42. Ibid., p. 54.. Source: Francis Kobrin and Calvin Goldscheider,
Ethnic Factors in Family Structure and Mobility,
(Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Press, 1978).
43. Ibid., p. 85.
44. Gerber, Op Gt., 1989. p. 85.
45. Ibid., p. 85.
46. Ibid., p. 85.
47. Ibid., p. 44.
48. Ibid., p. 45. Source: Canada Dominion Bureau of Statistics,
1951 Census, Vol. IV, Labour Force: Occuparions and
49. Ibid., p. 45.
50. Ibid., p. 85.
51. Ibid., p. 85.
52. Leonoff", Op Cit., 1986, p. 19.
53. Pelman, Minnie and Pucky, Personal Interview,
March 18,1998.
54. Ibid.
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid.. Pucky Graduated in 1932 and Minnie graduated in 1933-
57. Ibid.
58. Ibid.
59. Ibid.
60. Ibid.
61. Ibid. Their first apartment was on 19th Ave. and Oak St., and
other houses consisted of 3832 Willow Street at 16th Ave. and
the house which became their family home for 25 years at
419 20th Ave. at Yukon St. Today rhey live in Arbutus Village.
62. Ibid.
63. Ibid. The children were bom as follows: Neil - August 13, 1939.
Barbara - October 14,1943, Gayle - March 15, 1948, Stephen -
May 5, 1951.
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid.
67. Ibid. The Pdmans mention thar one employee in particular,
Guy, was very dose to them. He would come over to their
bouse for Hanukkah and they would visit him at Christmas.
68. There is another Finn's store located in Kerrisdale.
69. Pelman, Personal Interview, Op. Cir., 1998.
70. Ibid.
71. Gleneagles was opened in 1952 and was sold in July 1958 ro
become a municipal golf course. Leonoff, Op Cit., 1978,
p. 193.
72. "They" would refer ro rhe committee of Cedarcrest who located
the property near the mouth of Howe Sound and organized
fundraising to buy and develop the land. Ibid., p. 193.
73. Pelman, Personal Interview, Op Cit., 1998.
74. Ibid.
Edmund, Gordon M., Political and Legal Aspects of Jewish History ia
Canada, (Montreal, 1959).
Gerber, Jean,"Immigrarion and Integrarion in Post-War Canada: A Case
Study of Holocaust Survivors in Vancouver, 1947-1970", unpublished MA Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1989.
Gemer, Deborah. H., One Land, Two Peoples: The Conflict Over
Palestine, (Boulder Westview Press Inc, 1994).
Granastein, J.L et al.. Nation: Canada Since Confederation, Third
Edition, (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1990).
Hier, Mariene, F, "Ethnicity and residenrial location", unpublished MA
Thesis, University of Brirish Columbia, 1973-
Kent. Rozanne Fddman, Educating Vancouver's Jewish Children - The
Vancouver Talmud Torah, 1913-1959 and Beyond, (Vancouver
Dachcr Printing Ltd., 1995).
Leonoff. Cyril Edd, Pioneers, Pedlars and Prayer Shawls: The Jewish
Communities in British Columbia and the Yukon, (Victoria:
Sono Nis Press, 1978).
Leonoff, Cyril Edd, Centennial of Vancomw Jewish Life 1886-1986,
(Vancouver. The Jewish Historical Society of BC and the Jewish
Western Bulletin, 1986).
Poner, Richard Philip Robinson, "Vancouver - role of Ethnic Origin
Population Distribution", unpublished MA Thesis, University of
British Columbia. 1965.
Rhinewine, Abraham, Looking Back A Century: On the Centennial of
Jewish Political Equality in Canada, (Toronto: The Kraft Press,
Sack, B.G. (translated by Ralph Novek), History of the Jews in Canada,
(Montreal: Harvest House, 1965).
Tulchinsky, Gerald, Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish
Community, (Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1992).
Walhouse. Freda, "Influence of Minority Ethnic Groups on the Cultural
Geography of Vancouver", unpublished MA Thesis, University of
Brirish Columbia, 1961.
Weinfdd, M„ W. Shaffir, and I. Colter, The Canadian Jewish Mosaic,
{Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 1981).
Wisenthal, Christine Boas, "Insiders and Outsiders: Two Waves of Jewish
Setriemenr in British Columbia, 1858-1914)". unpublished MA
Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1987.
1991 Census, Census Profiles CD-Rom, Statistics Canada, Ottawa.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 A Capilano Love Story
by Patricia Koretcbuk
For many years, most who knew
her didn't realise her beauty and
easy laughter masked pain and sadness at the core of her being.
Margaret Kelly Thompson's large
brown eyes, wavy auburn hair,
slender figure and ready laughter
were noticed first. There was an endearing Irish lilt colouring her
speech. She was young, eighteen
when she arrived in Vancouver, and
vulnerable. She was probably only
nineteen when she moved to
Capilano. Even those closest to her
were unaware ofthe extent and duration of the violence that shaped
her life.
As her daughter, I find my memories becoming more meaningful
as my own understanding matures.
Fascinating missing details slowly
sift from conversations with rela- Margaret
tives and old friends.
When Margaret left Belfast, a city as fear
filled in 1920 as it is now, she buried
within her the personal scars of her life
there. Her stories were told as adventures,
filled with humour and admiration for
Her father had been a first mate on a
sailing ship that transported cargo to San
Francisco. (There was no Panama Canal
then.) Unable to return home until she
was three years old, she said, "He wore a
gold ear ring in his left ear, which signalled
to others he'd sailed around Cape Horn,"
the Southern tip of South America. Born
the middle child of a large family, she believed her birth - October 15th, 1902 -
signalled the end of his sailing career. Her
father wasn't happy living ashore. She told
of many times watching as he ". . . paced
the floor, back and forth, back and forth,
longing to return to the sea."
She described her father as a "brave
black Irishman," with black, curly hair
and eyes with almost black irises, possibly
a descendant ofthe shipwrecked sailors of
the Spanish Armada.1   He became  "a
Kelly Thompson, 18 years old, taken before leaving for
foreman in Harland and Wolff Shipyard,"
almost certainly one of the people who
built the Titanic, the 'unsinkable' luxury
liner felled by an iceberg.
Like many members of the Orange
Lodge, her father marched in parades celebrating "King Billy's victory in the Batde
of the Boyne" . . . parades where the
Orangemen (her father included) were
prepared to use their swords to "run
through anyone who tried to break their
ranks." She said they could be "... mean,
and you didn't dare challenge them."
Like her father, Margaret could be
brave. She travelled alone to Vancouver
because, "I always wanted to travel the
world, like him. Wanderlust is in our
Ofthe city of Belfast, she told of being
small, walking with a friend, asking a man
if it was safe to cross a bridge. The man
said it was safe, but part way across she
and her friend had to "... jump through
the open archway of a passing streetcar,
and lie on our bellies on the floor, as the
bullets whizzed 'round our heads'."
She said her family lived in a
"mixed neighbourhood," meaning
both Protestants and Catholics
lived there. "Mixed neighbourhoods were the most dangerous."
Her brother's friend, a Catholic,
was taken "out of his house to the
corner under a street light, where
'they'   riddled  him  with  bullets,
threw a sack over him, then left
him lying there on the sidewalk in
a pool  of blood."  Her father's
champion German shepherd was
kidnapped, used as bait with the
hope of luring her father to his
death. Young Margaret was equally
fearful of black robed priests and
the "Black and Tan,3" though the
Black and Tan were enforcers, supposedly sent by the British to pro-
tea Protestants and British invest-
Canada.    ments. Civil war was as confusing
and violent then as it is today.
Yet,  within  wars  people  survive  as
Margaret did, with work and humour and
hope. Religion is also supposed to help,
but for Margaret, religion's comfort never
occurred. In the Irish Anglican Church
she was told: "If anyone ever asks, "What's
the  difference  between  the Anglican
church and the Roman Catholic church .
. . you tell them there's only a paper division between them, but that paper division is the Bible!" This church taught prejudice rather than love, causing Margaret
to seek solace elsewhere.
She wanted to be a nurse, but her father
denied that option. He was angry because
he felt he had wasted money on an older
sister who had quit part way through
nurses training. At fourteen Margaret
began work in "a linen factory, where
work was hard and conditions dreadful."
She worked hard at home too, polishing
the many brass trims - stair rods holding
carpet in place, door knobs, fireplace accessories. All the while, she secredy nurtured her dream of "seeing the world" as
her father had done.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Of Margaret's mother - my grandmother - I know only, "She favoured the
boys. They never had to do any work
around the house." She served "Champ"
(potatoes mashed with chopped green
onions cooked in the milk used for
mashing), and scones "with a big pat
o'butter slathered on." Other than this,
Margaret rarely spoke of her.
It was Margaret's irascible grandmother,
who came alive in the stories. She chased
and beat a teacher with a broom, for
caning Margaret's brother's hands because
he was late for school. She helped as
Margaret sewed ballroom gowns secredy
by hand, to escape the ire of her censuring
father. Margaret wore them when she
slipped out at night to formal ballroom
dances - "on floors that would spring as we
danced." wearing white gloves, carrying a
dainty beaded purse.
She had many beaux, but deeply loved
no one. When her family began pressuring her to accept a proposal of marriage, she bought a ticket for Canada.
In some desperation, her family
arranged for her to stay temporarily with
an Uncle who lived in Vancouver. They
must not have realised he was a lecherous
old drunkard who "chased" her around
the house when others were out.
She escaped her peril, as many Irish girls
did in the 1920s, by hiring into private
service ". . . with a family that had two
very spoiled children, who wouldn't even
empty their own pee pots." Then she
nursed a woman who was dying of cancer.
. ." Very hush, hush. Nobody spoke of it.
Nobody even told me what it was. I found
out because of the blood on the pads and
the bandages." Frightened, she left and
found a job waitressing in Vancouver.
In contrast, she loved the waitressing
job. She was popular because she remembered customer's names and how they
liked their food prepared. Years later, she
would cut toast, or serve tossed salad and
say, "This is the way we served it when I
was waitressing." She was flattered by the
tips and sometimes by the gifts (one was a
pearl necklace) given her by the lonely
men visiting Vancouver from the logging
camps. She was very proud of her memory
of orders and her ability to add the bills in
her head, a facility with math she later
used to coach her family for school. As a
waitress she felt her hard work was appreciated, perhaps for the first time in her
Then, she met . . . him. He was a
smooth talking, debonair Scot who
worked in North Vancouver's Burrard
Drydock Shipyard and drove a big, green
Willys3 car. He was the man who brought
her to Lower Capilano, to a house in a
beautiful location that she loved. A shipyard worker . .. .like her father . . .handsome, with black, curly hair... .like her father, also unhappy and meaner than her
Recendy, her neighbour from Capilano
- Tom Meglaughlin - revealed how much
this Scot physically abused Margaret. Tom
told of her black eyes and tears being
soothed many times in his mother's
Tom remembers his family's puzzlement. "They couldn't understand how
this attractive and nice woman could be
with this thoroughly nasty character."
When I checked this statement with
my now 93 year old Uncle, Albert Blaney
(who also lived near Margaret), his voice
hardened as he said, "That Scotchman
was a mean bugger."
Margaret lost two babies while living
with this man. One was the victim of toxemia, aborted at seven months. The other
died within a few hours of being born,
"because of a 'film' on the baby's lungs."4
Margaret was devastated.
Somewhere in this pain filled period,
religion again entered her life. She attended a Pentecostal Church for a time,
learning about being "possessed of devils"
and of "tarrying for tongues." She learned
to think of herself as a "sinner," increasing
the weight of guilt carried by her already
troubled soul.
For years I assumed her lost babies were
my father's children. Much later, during a
severe illness, she let it slip that there had
been another man. But never once did she
tell about the beatings, and neither did
my father.
I'm not certain how Stanley Eric Blaney
became her protector. He was an
Englishman just 5'8" tall, but tough, wiry,
strong from manual labour and from
training as an amateur boxer, and from
earlier military training in the 42nd Black
Watch Regiment, in Montreal. Also,
Stan's brother Albert provided back up,
living nearby. Stan could be gende, creative, and he knew how to "hesitate" and
"do the dip" when they waltzed. He had
no money, no car, no house, but he was
good looking, another man with dark,
thick wavy hair.
Together, Margaret and Stan hiked,
picked blueberries, and laughed with
friends on Grouse Mountain, building
strength from the natural environment.
Mischievous bears stole their buckets of
freshly picked blueberries. Salmon filled
the Capilano river, "so thick you could almost cross the water on their backs."
They ate venison taken from the mountain, along with honey and vegetables
from my uncle and aunt's garden. Both
loved the clean outdoor air, the golden
sunsets. Respectful, but unafraid of
cougars or other wild animals, they used
"bugs" to light their way after dark (A
bug was a candle in a can.) When they
hiked, Maigaret was a prankster.
She once substituted malt vinegar for
the whiskey in the shot glass of a German
friend named "Helwick." He "downed it
in one gulp" - as was his habit - then he
gasped, went red in the face and chased
her. Stan, Helwick's wife and other friends
On the left, Stanley Eric Blaney with brother Albert
James Blaney, when serving in the 42nd Black
Watch Highlanders, in Montreal in the 1920's.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 joined the laughter.
The "Great Depression" was in full
force, so Stan and Margaret's first home
was a converted chicken coop at the back
of Albert's property on Edgebaston Road.
Though they must have wished it otherwise - social censure heaped disgrace on
those who "lived together" - they postponed a marriage ceremony until 1940.
During these hard times, many young
couples could not afford to marry.5 My
mother and father were no exception.
In 1933, in Capilano they had plenty of
food, but no way to earn any money and
become independent. By this time,
Margaret was thirty-one years old, Stan
was twenty-nine, so becoming independent was important. They heard Toronto
had jobs available, so - though Albert discouraged them - they decided to seek
work there. Their decision was a mistake,
but they didn't know that yet.
Their most challenging question was,
"How do we get to Toronto when we have
no money?" The answer required bravery,
daring, and a dash of fbolhardiness. They
decided to "hop the freights" and use
"shank's mare" ... for 3000 miles across
the snowy mountains and arid Prairies of
Canada. It seems impossible today, but it
is common knowledge that many men
travelled this way during the Great
Depression.6 However, it was unusual for
a woman .. . but then my mother was an
unusual woman.
For safety she dressed as a man, but - at
5'2" - she probably looked more like a
boy. She cut her hair very short, wore a
vest and long pants, with a woolen jacket.
She donned heavy leather work boots and
pulled a peaked cap low, over her eyebrows. With some dried food, a blanket, a
ground sheet, and each other, Margaret
and Stan set off.
They must have gotten through BC and
the Rockies without incident, at least none
worth mentioning. But then they hit the
heat and the hunger of the prairies.
Fortunately, there were kindly people who
helped them on their way.
My mother said she would never forget
the young girl, perhaps only twelve, whose
own mother had died. She had to raise her
younger brothers and sisters basically
alone, while her father searched for work
and tended their farm. Yet, in spite of her
own desperate situation, she invited
Margaret and Stan inside and baked them
cornmeal "Johnny cake."
They slept under the stars or in hay
barns on rainy nights, and loved it.. .but
they didn't love the grasshoppers or the
They told of watching trains slow and
stop, wheels spinning uselessly on tracks
made slippery by millions of dead insects.7
They spoke of grasshoppers flying so
thick the sky was black, devouring any
growth of grass or grain in the fields. They
told of choking dust storms, relentlessly
filtering into any shelter they could find.
And all the while hunger stalked them,
and waited.
Back on a freight train nearing Toronto,
word was passed around, "there was
trouble coming up." The railroad police
were not kind to the unemployed, and
my father heard there were some escaped
criminals on board. He had hidden my
mother behind him, in a corner of the
box car for most of this part of the trip.
Wisely, as the train slowed, they jumped
and rolled, landing safely at the side ofthe
tracks. Gunshots were heard and they
later discovered many ofthe people in the
box car had been killed. A lucky escape?.
. . yes. A good omen for life in Toronto?
Not really.
This was 1933, in the depth of the
Great Depression. As it was in Capilano,
"hoped for" work was non existent. But
unlike Capilano, in this big city there was
no forest to provide food. To their horror
they discovered people starving to death
on the streets.
At first Stan's sister Elizabeth and her
husband Harry Welch took them in . . .
but they were having problems of their
own. They had three small children, Joan,
Lewis, and Eileen to feed. Harry had a
weak heart. Bess was forced to work,
cleaning banks and houses to make ends
meet - that is, when she could find work.
By this time Margaret was pregnant...
with me. (Perhaps I was conceived in a
box car?) When Aunt Bess discovered the
pregnancy and somehow learned Stan
and Margaret weren't married, she threw
them both out on the street.
I don't judge her to be cruel. Bess was a
soloist, choir participant and staunch
member of the United Church. She
couldn't risk the loss of support that
would follow having her help interpreted
by the church as "condoning" Margaret
and Stan "living in sin" . . . not with her
own family barely eking an existence. Bess
mellowed and became a loving aunt in
later years, but her actions were harsh in
Toronto in the 1930's.
Stan and Margaret survived through
the kindness of others and because Stan
worked at anything available. He told me
the Jewish families paid the best for odd
Eventually, they had to take welfare,
commonly called "the pogey." They had
to work for three days, then they were
paid with a bag of food and vouchers, no
money. The pogey also paid the first
month's rent, nothing more. This was the
reason they acquired a used English
wicker Pram, as did many others "on relief" They used the pram each month as
their makeshift "moving van," transporting their meagre belongings from one
address to the next, wherever the pogey
would again pay the first month's rent.
Margaret said, "All over Toronto at the
end of the month you'd see people
pushing their prams. They kept nothing
more than could be moved this way."
Margaret told of giving birth to me "in
a pogey hospital," attended by a doctor
she had never seen, until he was called by
her frantic nurse, just before midnight.
This same nurse had slapped Margaret
whenever she cried out during her long
labour. Stan wasn't there to stop her because husbands weren't allowed.
The doctor was very angry with the
nurse for waiting so long to call him. He
said, "There's no way this baby could arrive without help!"
At a few minutes past midnight on
April 23rd, 1934, he used forceps to extract me - a healthy ten pound two ounce
baby girl - from Margarets tiny body
Margaret sighed with relief when she saw
the nurse holding me and chanting "A
George's baby, a George's baby," because it
was Saint George's Day. Bess wanted me
named "Georgina" . . .but Margaret set-
ded on "Patricia."
I have only two brief memories of
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 places in Toronto where the three of us
lived before I was four. In one I see my father and a friend, carrying a red velvet
Victorian sofa up to our apartment, lifting
it through a squeaky trap door. I'm delighted when my father says, "squeaky fun
fun poy joy Java lapoyka," mocking the
squeaks. He said this whenever anything
The acquisition of the red sofa must
have been an important event, considering how litde furniture we had. My
second memory is of a landlady, a Mrs.
Brownlee, handing me her walking cane
as I stood on her stairs. Then Margaret
nudging me into singing a song for her,
called "Hand Me Down My Walking
Margaret and Stan made Toronto their
home for eleven years. They progressed
from unemployment, monthly moving
and literal starvation, to having steady
employment and a relatively comfortable
rental home with a vegetable garden and
an "outhouse" for a toilet. To help with finances, a boarder was "taken in" for several years.
In the sometimes forty degree below
zero winters, Margaret and Stan often told
family and friends of their longing for the
bounteous outdoors of Capilano. Grouse
Mountain's ruggedness was revealed in
bedtime stories told to myself, my foster
brother Harold Porter and my foster
sister, Jane.
In 1945, at the end of World War II,
Margaret and Stan returned to British
Columbia, reluctandy leaving my two
foster siblings with their parents.
The need for work and the proffered
help of former Capilano friends Frank
and Emily Johnson, took us first to
Bainbridge, then to Port Alberni for four
years. A young neighbour from Toronto,
Muriel Sheridan, had travelled with us
and lived in our first BC rental house on
Upper Crescent until she married. Once
again, with humour and hard work,
Margaret and Stan slowly collected a few
material possessions. At Margaret's insistence, they moved to another house on
3rd Avenue, because rent was cheaper.
Another boarder was "taken in", to help
with finances.
But the cumulative violence of Ireland,
1976, Stan
28th Street,
turned to
of her first partner, ofthe loss of
her babies, and the violent stress
of years of poverty now took its
toll. Not wanting to burden Stan
or her family with her sadness,
she kept it to herself, turning it
into self-blame. She thought of
herself as "a sinner" and returned
to the practices ofthe Pentecostal
Church, rolling on rhe kitchen
floor, asking God to remove the
"demons" from her body. But
God must have been busy elsewhere.
A letter telling Margaret of my
Irish grandmother's death deepened her depression, long before
psychology knew how to help. At
times she was paranoid, losing
touch with reality. In 1949, in
desperation Stan quit his job as a
"boom man" in the MacMillan
Bloedel plywood plant, sold their possessions and returned to North Vancouver,
where he knew Margaret wanted to be.
He hoped returning would work the
needed miracle, but this was not to be. ..
and they were still moving.
They moved six more times on the
North Shore, upgrading from staying
with family, then with friends, to renting
a partitioned room with hot plate, to an
attic "flat," to a rented house - that's six
times not counting the police assisted
move Margaret made to what was then
the "mental hospital," Crease Clinic in
In response to a complaint filed by our
landlady (on Church Road), who said
Margaret had "threatened her with a
knife," two huge policemen and Dr.
Graham (a well known local doctor who
didn't know us) suddenly climbed
through the trap door covering the stairs
leading to our attic "flat." They nodded at
me, but told me nothing. I stared dumbfounded at the uniformed backs screening
my mother and father from me, crowded
under the sloped ceiling of our tiny
Voices explained, Stan had the choice of
either signing the committal papers to the
newly established Crease Clinic, or giving
up all rights and having my mother committed by court order, possibly to the
and Margaret in their own back yard at 221 West
in North Vancouver. From here, they frequently re-
•alk tbe trails of Capilano Canyon.
Photo courtesy of the author.
dreaded long term facility, Essondale.
With my mother clearly delusional, and
no way to disprove the landlady's allegation, Stan signed. Then, for a long time
after the intruders left... he cried. I comforted him, but at fifteen years old, I was
afraid. I had never before seen my father
For the next five months, Stan either
rode his bicycle or took me with him on
rhe bus to visit Margaret every weekend .
. .all the way from Lynn Valley to Crease
Clinic and back - a long trip, before freeways cut time and distance. Margaret's illness was diagnosed as "depression related
to menopause" . . . such a trivial and inadequate description of her suffering.
After "thirty electroshock therapy treatments"10 she was released. Stan brought
her home to a rental arrangement - two
bedrooms with shared bathroom and
kitchen - in a house on Dempsey Road in
Lynn Valley
It was not surprising, her memory had
been seriously damaged by the violence of
the intrusive and extensive "therapy." She
could no longer remember orders or add
bills reliably in the restaurant at Lynn
Valley Centre, where she tried to work.
She lost her job, but by now Stan had
steady work with the City of North
Vancouver. (At his age, he felt lucky and
glad to work outdoors.)
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Then Stan rented a whole house on
Underwood Road, where Margaret slowly
and determinedly healed herself and took
care of us. The house was old and had
been rented many times, but we cleaned,
papered, painted, and created another
home for ourselves. My parents repeated
the phrases that helped us cope: "It isn't
the house that makes the home, it's the
people that live there" and "money doesn't
buy happiness."
In 1950, no public health nurse called
to check on Margaret, or offer assistance.
Mental health support groups didn't exist.
Margaret and Stan had neither trust nor
money for psychiatrists. There was no
medical follow-up at all, in spite of the
severity of her depression. Yet she survived. Eventually, she recovered most of
her memory loss. Except for occasional
bouts of withdrawal and paranoia, for the
most part she became a supportive mother
and wife, teaching me to "Charleston" in
our kitchen, giving me vitamins, encouraging me to graduate from North
Vancouver High School, then enter the
Miss North Vancouver contest, giving me
a white wedding on June 20, 1953.
In the late 50's, Stan and Margaret finally purchased their own litde home at
221 West 28th Avenue, in North
Vancouver. Life became calmer in this
house with its comforting view of Grouse
Though increasing land values meant
they could no longer afford to live in
Capilano, in the 1960s and early 70s they
frequendy returned to walk the Capilano
Canyon trails. Eventually they took their
grandchildren with them as they cared for
them, helping me to become a teacher,
after my divorce in 1965. At bedtimes,
Margaret and Stan again told their stories
of mischievous bears who stole blueberries, of the cougars, the salmon, and the
friends they shared in Capilano, long ago
in the 1920s and '30's.
Then, on August 5, 1977, after an eight
month illness, Margaret died of cancer.
Ten months later, Stan's heart suddenly
stopped beating. His grandchildren believe his grief broke it.
Today the ashes of these two Capilano
lovers lie nesded at the base of a tree on
top of Grouse Mountain. Their descendants are reminded of Stan's gende teasing
and Margaret's easy laughter whenever
they ski, climb the "Grouse Grind," or
raise their eyes to this mountain of
strength. * * * *»
The author is a recently retired teacher living
in White Rock.
1.     Spanish Armada:... 130 ships .. .the Spanish fleet thar rried unsuccessfully to invade England in 1588. In the English Channd,
after a series of battles with raster, more heavily armed British ships:
The crippled Armada fled ro the North Sea. lt then returned to
Spain by sailing northward around the British Isles. Heavy winds
wrecked many ofthe ships off the coast of Ireland, and only 67
reached Spain. Condensed from Woridbook Encyclopedia. 1978
ed.. Worldbook-Childcraft International, Inc. Vol. 1 A678.
2. The Black and Ian:.. .a British auxiliary police force of mosdy
jobless former soldiers. They engaged in fierce reprisals, induding
"Bloody Sunday," afternoon when 12 Dublin football match spectators were killed and 60 wounded in revenge for a morning attack
by the IRA which killed 11 British. Condensed from the
Encyclopedia Britanica, Inc 15th ed. Hden Hemingway Benton
Publisher, Chicago, U.SA Vol 2:252 lb.
3. Willys -an American cat produced in the 1920's and 30's by John
North Willys, owner ofthe Willys-Overiand Company. Condensed
from World Book Encyclopedia. 1978 ed.. Vol. 22 W265.
4. "film on the baby's lungs": according to the Wldte Rock's Peace
Arch Hospital maternity ward, one of several possible conditions
induded in the term "respiratory syndrome."
5- marriage delay: "The national marriage rare decreased annually in
the eariy years ofthe Depression - from 77,000 in 1929 to 62,000
in 1932. Marrying was a hazardous business for those with no resources * Berton, Pierre, The Gnat Depression 1929-1939,
Toronto: McCldland & Stewarr Inc., 1990, p. 183.
6. hopping the freights in 1930's: "Between seventy thousand and
one hundred thousand men, almost all young and single, were
riding ... rhe railway. .. . Although it was technically illegal to
ride the freights, rhe railway companies took a lenient view until
the summer of 1932 ... RCMP began to block harvest workers...
.," Ibid, p. 149.
7. Grasshoppers: The grasshoppers hatched sometimes in May or
eady June. In 1933, "... they had destroyed all the coarse grain in
Saskatchewan .. .executing twenty-foot jumps on their springboard
legs... There were so many grasshoppers there was not room
enough for all of them on the ground at the same time. And they
ate everything. Thdr mandibles were strong enough to strip rhe
bark from trees.'1 Ibid, p. 245.
8. Sqneeky run fun poy joy Java la poyksu according to my 92 year
old Unde Albert Blaney, my rather teamed this habit at Rock Bay,
in the 1920s, lt was my dad's version of a phrase said in jest by
Norwegian loggers.
9. The Crease dink: opened Nov. 16, 1949 to cure people before
they became chronic and ro play a vital role in reducing the
number of patients in rhe main provincial hospital, Essondale.
Condensed from notes stored in the Provincial Archives, Victoria.
10.     Etectroshock Therapy, dectroconvulsion treatment (or
ECT) "A form of somatic treatment for certain psychiatric conditions in which dectrical current is applied to the brain through two
decrrodes placed on the temporal areas of the skull. ...
Complications are rare, the most frequent one being bone fractures
due to muscular contraction. Intravenous muscle relaxants... are
frequendy used to prevent this complication. Respiratory and cardiovascular complications may occur.. .The probability of fatal incidents docs not exceed 0.06% of cases. ECT is indicated in ...
depressions. ECT gives an 80 to 100% remission rate ... .in agitated depressions, bat it does not ward off episodic recurrences.
All types of depression react favourably to ECT after some four sessions. .. .The paranoid type of involutional psychosis usually requires 20 sessions... .psychotherapy, in addition to somatic
therapy, is usually indicated in order to bring more lasting benefit.
Summarised from: Campbdl, Robert J. Psychiatric Dictionary,
5th ed. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford. 1981. p. 648.
Peetz; a Reel for All Time. Douglas EW
FbUard. Surrey, Heritage House, 1997. 127 p.,
illus., paperback. $11.95
This book is mainly the story of the development of the Fteetz fishing reel for sports fishermen, but contains many interesting sidelights.
It can be read on several levels: That of a gifted
immigrant's success story; information on the
evolution of West Coast angling gear, a chronicle of same coast's recreational fishing; an
overall study of same from an international aspect; sadly, an epic that records the gradual depletion of our fish stocks to today's sorry state.
Bom in Russia, Boris Cecil Fteetz arrived in
Victoria in 1911. A trained silversmith, he
turned his craftmanship to jewelery repair, and
within a couple of years he had established his
own business in jewelery repair and manufacture.
A friend introduced him to sports fishing in
Saanich Inlet, and the idea of the Peetz reel was
bom, the first being made in 1923.
Sports fishing as such began on the West
Coast early in the century, but most of its adherents were visitors. Growing up on the upper
Sunshine coast I can vouch for this. Even well
into the 30s we did not sports fish; we fished for
food. Our tackle was not fancy rods and reels -
it was a board wound round with line, and likely
the spoons and sinkers were home-made.
We never played a fish, it struck, we hauled
it in hand-over-hand as swiftly as possible, lifted
it in an arc to land with a thud on the planks of
the rowboat, reached for the hefty chunk of
driftwood chosen for the purpose and ended its
struggle quickly.
However, the Campbell River Tyee Club
was founded in 1924, and the Victoria-Saanich
Inlet Anglers' Assoc, was established in 1932.
The latter issued trophy buttons made by Birks
Jewelers, and the individual who played to
death the largest fish of the year had a diamond
in his button.
While the Fteetz reels were widely used in
the Victoria area, they never caught on to a
great extent elsewhere, a fact that makes for curiosity as to the writing of this book.
There is no doubt that Peetz was amazingly
inventive. - For instance, he invented the sliding
lead weight which he patented in 1947. -
Twenty-ton deliveries of pig lead from the Trail
smelter were delivered regularly . .
The amount of detail in this volume is well-
nigh incredible; every aspect of manufacture is
given exhaustive attention.
Fteetz died in 1954, and his business was
first taken over by his family, and finally sold in
1977 and renamed Fteetz Manufacturing (1977)
Co. This company developed, among other
things, the reel clock.
There are countless illustrations and photos,
and the book ends with, among other things, an
appendix on Maintenance and Renovation.
From today's point of view, perhaps the
book's most interesting aspect is the rise and
proliferation of sports fishing. From the standpoint of the conservationist it gives explicit information and dates on the dwindling of the fish
stocks. Thus, choose your particular angle of interest and read Fteetz, A Reel For All Time.
Kelsey McLeod
Kelsey \a a member of the
Mwcouuer Historical Society.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 My Dearest Harriet. . . from Robert
February 28, 1860
This is the second of the recently discovered and previously unpublished letters written from
Victoria, B.C. by Robert Burnaby, 1859-61. The first letter was published in the Spring 1998 issue
of the B.C. Historical News. The other two letters will appear in future issues.
My Dearest Harriet
I owe you one in answer to your last
long letter and must rub and scrub up all
the odds and ends of news that I can
muster in order to make up a budget from
this fag end ofthe Earth.
After die first novelty is over however,
we subside into a chronic state of rocks,
pine trees and natives, and anything but a
wooden street with plank sidewalks, and
vast seas of mud beyond, a population
with Yankee cut and Hebrew phiz, and
resdess mass of Miners always talking and
thinking about diggings and nuggets,
rockers and sluices, would now appear to
us quite beside the order of things.
We had a small excitement the other
night though; just in the middle of a
rubber we heard a row amongst the
Indians, & on going out found their village (on the other side of the Harbour) in
flames. Across the Bridge we went to be
sure, and you cannot fancy a stranger
sight: these houses are all cedar wood:
thoroughly dry from having constant fires
and no chimney, they are mere uprights
with boards against them thus (here
Burnaby penned a small illustration) - and
of course once in flames impossible to put
out: to see the poor wretches streaming
out with their Blankets, pots & pans and
other property and crawling about the
roof of the next Lodge ready to give the
alarm on rhe least symptom of danger:
others pouring pans of water down the
sides which were smoking with the heat,
talking and chattering to themselves all the
while: and looking with amazement when
the Hook and Ladder Company (of
which more anon) came up, and cut off
the communication by at once demolishing the next Lodge. The old women,
such hags all wrinkles and dirt, stood by
wringing their hands and constandy repeating "clar how yer" - "clar how yer"."
which means "How dyr do" - as a token of
their gratitude.
The Hook and Ladder Co: is a volunteer Fire Brigade: a custom borrowed from
our neighbours in the States. In San
Francisco the city was several times utterly
consumed, and people prosperous before
were ruined in an hour. So they combined
& formed these Fire Companies: Have
handsome houses for their Engines ie,
reading rooms and so forth; and every
member is bound to attend, or be fined,
whenever the Bell of the Engine house
warns him.
The Hook is for pulling down houses to
prevent the Fire from spreading: & the
Ladder for mounting: the uniform of the
Co: Black pants, a leathern belt - red shirt
& Blue cap -; along the hook are running
rings for ropes and when the foreman
hooks hold of a beam the whole force try
& tug at the rope till the piece comes
down and so on to another. We have not
an Engine yet: but rhe Company, as it is,
is very useful in a tinder-box like this,
where we might all be combusted before
we could wink twice.
We had a fire in my chimney not long
since and the H&L Co. turned out in
style - but it was soon quenched with a
dose of cold water down its back
Capt. Palliser the explorer ofthe Rocky
Mountains is here and will shortly leave
for home, he is Irish and will be much in
Dublin. He will call on you: and tell you
all about this and more. You will find him
one of the kindest hearted eccentric, but
most perfect "ladies' man" you could
meet. A good musician & capital story
teller - It is so strange to see him devoted
to "the sex" so gallandy, after the rough
time he has had for the last three years.
Collingwood (Harriet's husband) will like
him very much and will find him a man
of great attainments and practical knowl-
You will wonder to hear what our
prospects here are and may be. We are
jogging on, and always hoping for better
times - it is always so in gold country. -
Where, there is more or less of the gambling spirit constandy at work. I am living
as comfortably as man could wish and certainly, so far, not losing money, and
having a fair chance in view of making it -
But though plenty of the precious stuff is
to be found, & will be taken out of the
country, things do not progress as they
might. Fancy my paying a boy to come
and clean my boots, make my bed, sweep
out the office (occupies him one hour
every morning) at rhe rate of £50 per ann.
and cannot get a clerk for mere office
work under about £200 - . We have no
coin here less than Gd and are not likely
tohave yet a while. I am now "doing business": sit at home & sell Blankets and
other matters day after day: It is not so
pleasant as roaming about & prospecting
the country, and variety is out ofthe question. But it promises to pay in the end,
and will. I do not at all regret the change,
and as to health and so forth never was
better: only now and then come longing
thoughts of Home and all there which it is
impossible to repress. Our Gov't is anything but popular. Old Douglas is a
selfish, scheming fellow, who has not even
the polish and external show of a gentleman to hide his true character.
Consequendy amidst a Yankee population, who have no respect for dignities his
position carries no weight & he himself
quite the reverse, and so we lose the advantage of a head. - Talking of Yankee respect for dignities did I ever send you the
story of an English Noble in a train in the
States: and a genuine Yankee asking him
several rude questions - At last "Do you
know fellow that I'm Lord ? "Its
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 nothing to me stranger if you're Lord G-
D" was the reply. It is impossible to crowd
into a small space dear Harry, all I want to
say and tell. You will gather that I am well,
and contented, hoping for good times and
not yet down on my luck. You must not
only take your full share of Love but extend it to the whole family and to the
good folks at South'ton, New Forest and
"elsewhere"-. When the Mail comes in I
may have time for a line in reply to letters
I hope to get-. Isn't Aleck growing a big
and fine fellow. Give him my very best
love - & kiss Godson for me. and Believe
me, my ever dear sister.
Your fondly affh Bro
R. Burnaby.
Erratum: In Robert Burnaby's February
28, 1859 letter, published in the Spring
1998 issue ofthe B.C. Historical News,
reference was made to "Elwyn" (page 35,
second column, second line from the
bottom ofthe page).
That name should be changed to
"Hugo". Robert's brother, Hugo held a
commission in the Royal Navy.
Letter transcribed by Meg Kennedy Shaw
and Pixie McGeachie
Fort Victoria & H.B. Co. Doctors
I wish to salute the Hudson's Bay
Company who created the city of Victoria
in 1843 and I also salute the Hudson's Bay
Company doctors who played important
roles in planning and witnessing the birth
of Fort Victoria, nurtured her growth and
health and shaped her future. The
Hudson's Bay Fur Trading Company,
formed in 1670, held from the British
Crown, "complete lordship, legislative, judicial and executive power, as well as commercial monopoly over all the country
whose rivers and tributaries drained into
the Hudson Bay." By 1821 the Hudson's
Bay Company had also "absorbed the
Northwest Fur Company based in
Montreal." The HBC Governor George
Simpson sent the Canadian surgeon, Dr.
John McLoughlin in 1824 to Astoria on
the Columbia River, to administer as
Chief Factor for over twenty years, the
District of Columbia consisting of
Oregon, Washington and British
Columbia. With his family, trading staff
and the new fort physician and surgeon,
Dr. Forbes Barclay, he travelled the long
for brigade trail from Lake-of-the-Woods
in Ontario to Astoria. By March 19,
1825, Dr. McLoughlin had moved the
Hudson's Bay Company headquarters 90
miles upriver on the Columbia River to
establish Fort Vancouver. Soon a network
of HBC for trading posts had been built
from California to Alaska including Yerba
Buena (San Francisco, 1840), Fort George
in 1813, at Astoria (Columbia River), Fort
by Dr. Joyce Clearihue
Vancouver (Columbia River, 1825),
Nisqually (Puget Sound, 1833), Langley
(Fraser River, 1827), Fort Victoria in
1843, Fort Hope and Fort Yale, both in
1849, Fort Rupert (Vancouver Island,
May 11, 1849), Fort McLoughlin (Bella
Bella, 1833), Fort Simpson (Nass River,
1831), Fort Stikine (1839) and Fort Taku
(Alaska, 1840). Earlier, interior fur brigade
forts had been established by the
"Northwesters" at Fort St. James (1806),
Fort George (Prince George, 1807), Fort
Fraser (1806) and Fort Alexandria (1821),
as well as other sites.
Dr. John McLoughlin was in command
as a "benign despot", well regarded as the
"Father of Oregon" who administered
"sound justice, wise and humane treatment". The "Great White Eagle" was an
imposing and big-framed figure of 6'3"
with a sudden growth of a white plume of
hair following a near drowning in Canada.
He was born on October 22, 1784 of
Sottish-Irish immigrant parents at Riviere
de Loup, downstream from Quebec City.
He and his brother, David, both took
medical studies at Edinburgh with David
establishing a practice as a physician in
Paris and "Dr. John casting his lot with his
maternal uncle, Malcolm Fraser, one of
the founders ofthe Northwest Company."
Dr. John "rose in charge of all company
business in Rupert's Land with headquarters at Fort William." Here he married
"his second wife, Marguerite Wadin
McKay, half blood Chippewan widow of
Northwest Company trader, Alexander
McKay." You may remember that
Alexander McKay had been killed by
Indians at Nootka eight years previously
during rhe "Tonquin" Massacre. They had
four children, John Junior, Eliza, Eloise,
and David. "Sons David and John were
sent to Montreal and later to Paris to join
their Uncle David." Son David, an engineer with the British Army Engineers, returned to Columbia at his fathers request
and was "posted to Fort Victoria as an apprentice clerk to learn the for trade under
James Douglas," but later established
"McLoughlin's Ferry" on the Kootenay
Flats. Eliza married a Mr. Rae who in
1845 committed suicide at HBC Yerba
Buena. To add to the doctor's sorrow in
April, 1842 his son, John McLoughlin Jr.
who was reputed to have qualified as a
physician, was murdered while left in
charge of Fort Stikine. "He was a reckless
and unreliable young man who had fallen
in a drunken fray, by the hand of one of
his own men", said Governor Simpson
who "apprehended the suspected murderer and turned him over to the Russian
authorities" with his verdict of "justifiable
homicide". "Dr. McLoughlin never forgave Simpson his callousness and reconciliation was impossible." That same year,
1842, was when Governor Simpson ordered Dr. McLoughlin to "take steps" to
form and establish an HBC depot at the
south end ofVancouver Island when it became apparent that there might be a divi-
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 sion between the U.S.A. and Canada at
the 49th parallel (established June 15,
1846, but signed into law by the Oregon
Treaty of 1860).
Already in 1837, Captain W.H.
McNeill had reported favourably on
Victoria's harbour and Dr. McLoughlin in
1839 and Simpson in 1840 briefly inspected the area as well. In the summer of
1842, Chief Factor, James Douglas (Dr.
McLoughlin's assistant) landed and chose
the Port of Camosack for the new post - "a
perfect Eden". Then, on March 1, 1843,
James Douglas again left Fort Vancouver
on the HBC Beaver, a barque converted
to the first steamship on the coast, and he
arrived off Clover Point on March 13,
1843 to select the precise site for Fort
Victoria, first called Fort Camosun. Fort
Victoria was the official name selected a
few weeks later.
Construction of the Fort started immediately under 26 year old Roderick
Finlayson's direction. By October 1843,
workers had enclosed a quadrangle 300
feet long and 330 feet wide to accommodate eight buildings of hewn logs, posts
and sills, each sixty feet long. The Songhee
Indians were paid with one 2 1/2 point
HBC blanket for every forty cedar pickets
cut to make an encircling 18 foot high
palisade. The southwest bastion was situated at present day Wharf and Broughton
Streets   and   perimeters   of the   Fort
stretched along Wharf Street with a central west gate, up through present Bastion
Square to the corner of View and
Government Streets where the northwest
bastion was constructed later (and it was
once used as a jail). The palisades extended
along present day Government Street with
a back east gate looking up Fort Street,
and finally down Broughton Street to
Wharf and the southwest bastion. Four
years later, in 1847, the "stockade was extended north by 135 feet, two new storehouses were completed, and a warehouse,
a 100 feet long was erected on the stone
piles on the harbour." By then, outside the
stockade, further buildings had gradually
been built to include the Governor's
(Blanshard's) official residence, bakery,
dairy, further men's quarters, stables, and
workmen's house on the cultivated HBC
gardens, and one of the free settlers'
homes, Captain Cooper's. The other free
setder, was Captain Grant at that time.
"Four deep wells dug at Fort Victoria
railed to provide an adequate supply of
water and another well had to be dug at
some distance." The old graveyard was
near the southwest corner of Douglas and
Johnson Streets and was later removed to
the Quadra Street Cemetery in 1859 by
the prison chain gang. Of interest in the
Fort Victoria letters of 1851, was the report that the Hudson's Bay Company servants had built a "small hospital building
Early model of Fort Victoria. BCARS HP 1129 photo.
near the Fort in case of sickness in emigrants
per the Tory or any further ship from
England". This was seven years before the
ill Mr. Braithwaite was left on a mattress
inside Reverend Cridge's parsonage gate,
forcing the use (rent free) of the first cottage hospital rented from Mr. Blinkhorn,
and this was situated at the corner of
Broad and Yates in 1858.
On the other side of the smelly James
Bay mud flats (now filled in with the
Empress Hotel) and on the site ofthe present Royal B.C. Museum, Governor and
Mrs. James Douglas' home, and son-in-
law, Dr. J.S. and Mrs. Cecelia Helmcken's
homes were built beside the House of
Assembly, called the Bird Cages, which was
built in 1859. Members ofthe House of
Assembly included the Hudson's Bay
Company Doctors Tolmie, Kennedy and
Life inside Fort Victoria is well described in the HBC "Fort Victoria" letters
and diaries. Looking toward the harbour
and facing the central front west gate on
Fort and Wharf Street from the inside of
the Fort were clockwise on the right, Mr.
Roderick Finlayson's residence (Chief
Trader, 1850, Chief Factor 1859 and
Mayor of Victoria, 1878), the general
HBC store with the powder magazine behind it, and two warehouses plus 3 employees' houses. The Mess Hall included
Chief Factor James Douglas' residence and
quarters for junior clerks, and then the
back east gate (on Government Street),
and the bachelors' quarters, which also included the doctor's combined bedroom
and surgery, plus the Reverend and Mrs.
Staines quarters and their school room, as
well as school dormitories on the second
floor. Then on the side of the Bachelors'
quarters, there was another warehouse, the
men's quarters, the blacksmith's and on the
left side ofthe west gate, a small two-room
cottage which was a colonial post office
until 1859 and afterwards it was the registrar's office, (which was often used as a
courthouse), and finally it was used as Dr.
J.S. Helmcken's medical office. Eighty
Fort residents included HBC indentured
English officers and their wives, clerks,
labourers, French Canadians, Kanakas
(Hawaiians) and one or two Iroquois. Life
was regimented and colourful. With vis-
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 James Douglas'
3 employee houses
Bachelors Hall- Doctor's surgery
Rev. Staines quarters &  School
North East Bastion
2 warehouses for *furs-
n/arehouse used as barracks
for new arrivals
•flBCo Men's quarters
Storehouse (Fish ii Oil)
Blacksmith Shop
Southwest Bastion
Chief Trader-   Cottage-Colonial Post Office
-R. Findlayson Residence  Later Dr. Helmcken's Office
BCARS Photo A-00509
iting ships there was an exchange of fired
rockets and nine pound cannons, and
ships' officers would be invited and summoned to wine and dine in the Mess Hall.
In the middle ofthe courtyard, the belfry
stood and "its bell tolled for meals, for
deaths, for weddings, for church service,
for fires and sometimes for warnings. Ar
mealtime it was assisted by a chorus of
curs. These curs assembled under the bell
at every meal and looking up at it howled,
the howling being taken up by some dogs
in the Indian opposite village." The courtyard was muddy and the sidewalk to the
whitewashed and Spanish-brown painted
stores consisted of two or three slippery
poles. "The Mess Room served every purpose — church services, baptisms, marriages, funerals, councils, dances, theatrical
and other amusements." It "was more
than 30 feet long by 20 feet long with a
large open fireplace at one end." Further
furniture included a "clock on the wall, a
long table in the middle covered with
spodess linen, the knives and forks dean,
decanters bright and containing wine and
so forth." More than twenty people could
sit at the wooden Windsor chairs. Then
the dinner would be served to indude:
soup, salmon, meats (venison and duck),
and then "pies and so forth." Afterwards
all the men would be entertained in the
Bachdors' Hall and sometimes interrupted by the commissioned officers'
boarding school children pouring water
down through the ceiling cracks from
their dormitories above. On holidays and
Sundays, the HBC flag would be hoisted
on the 75 foot central flagpole and in the
Mess Room the young women (without
musical accompaniment) would lead the
hymns for church services, which were
conducted by the cranky and unpopular
Reverend Robert John Staines. He married Cecelia Douglas and Dr. J.S.
Helmcken in the Fort's Mess Hall on
December 27, 1852. Another man ofthe
doth and teacher, the Oblate priest, Father
Lempfrit, boarded with the HBC and established a priest's school for the wives and
children of the Company's servants, as
well as ministering to the Indians.
The main reason for establishing Fort
Victoria was, of course, to trade fors using
the "new for trade route via the Fraser
River to the New Caledonia country as a
substitute for the Columbia River."
Beaver, marten, land and sea otter all were
hung in the storehouses. As the for trade
declined, the HBC found markets for
agricultural produce, salmon, whaling,
timber, spars and shingles, and in 1852,
the    Queen    Charlotte's    gold    and
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Nanaimo's coal. Again, the Indians were
paid one 2 1/2 point HBC blanket for
every two tons of coal collected.
Outside the Fort many Indians were
camped and in general were peaceful, except for one occasion when they peppered
the palisade with musket balls and another, when a fire threatened the Fort. At
this point they were persuaded to move
across the harbour to the present Songhees
site. These scenes were captured by the visiting artist, Paul Kane in 1847. Two thirds
of the Fort inhabitants fell ill during the
measles epidemic of 1848 and, unfortunately, the epidemic spread north killing
250 of the 2,500 Fort Simpson Indians
and others. Equally devastating were
smallpox epidemics which first hit the
west coast in the 1770's and, over a 100
year span, smallpox wiped out about 80%
of North America's indigenous population. The 1862 smallpox epidemic in
Victoria reduced the native population in
B.C. from 60,000 to 40,000.
Due to emigrant ships being compelled
by Act of Parliament to carry surgeons,
HBC appointed Alfred Robson Benson,
surgeon and derk, for five years and he
was the first medical officer at Fort
Victoria in 1849. Graduating at Guys
Hospital he had also received a complete
nautical education. A very casual dresser,
Dr. Benson was also described as "a great
character, never seen without a pipe in his
mouth and his rooms in Bachelors' Hall
crowded with Indian curiosities, bird
skins, geological specimens, books and tobacco in the most inextricable confusion."
In addition to Dr. Benson having to attend to inquests and to coroner's duties,
Dr. Hdmcken remembers him reducing a
two year old recurrent dislocation of the
humerus with pulleys, and treating lead
poisoning in a Kanakan who had mistaken a ball of putty for a ball of dough
which he had eaten. Benson was transferred to Fort Vancouver and then to
Nanaimo where he later became a colliery
surgeon from 1857 to 1861. The doctor
often had to work without pay and in
1862 in his filed letter, he dedined to act
as coroner without remuneration. On
December 19, I860, Dr. Benson married
Miss Ellen Philips, who was Mrs.
Langford's sister. Before Dr. Benson left
Fort Victoria, his college chum at Guys
Hospital, Dr. John Sebastian Hdmcken,
sailed into Victoria first on March 24,
1850, and again from Fort Rupert in
December 1850, to be Fort Victoria's
second medical officer and in his own
words, "the leading physician from San
Francisco to the North Pole, and from Asia
to the Red River". The HBC doctor,
George Johnston, sailed in the Tory to
Victoria in May 1851 to replace Dr.
Helmcken at Fort Rupert.
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken was born
June 25, 1825 in London and was apprenticed to Dr. Robert Graves of thyroid
fame, where he learned to make up pills,
and gained a licence from the
Apothecaries Society. By March, 1848 he
had graduated in medicine from Guys
Hospital where he also saw ether given for
the first time by Dr. Gull. He had extensive shipboard experience sailing on the
HBC ship, Prince Rupert to Hudson Bay
and return, when Dr. John Rae of Sir John
Franklin's fame, was a passenger. Later he
sailed on the Malacca to Bombay, China,
Singapore and Ceylon, etc., and then on a
five month trip from England to Fort
Victoria arriving on the HBC ship,
Norman Morison on March 24, 1850.
Here the ship was quarantined for three
weeks as he had had to treat six cases of
smallpox at sea. The one unvaccinated
man died at sea. For this hazardous and
adventurous life, Dr. John Helmcken had
to sign on with the HBC for five years in
1849 as a surgeon and clerk at a salary of
£100 sterling per annum. This incuded
board and room, instruments, and a free
passage home. Later James Douglas was
able to give him a further £100 sterling
per annum from the Puget Sound
Agricultural Company. The ship's seamen
got only £4 sterling per month. And what
a sad litde room the doctor was assigned
to in Fort Victoria - off the main
Bachelors' Hall - to also serve as his
surgery. "It contained a gun case and a few
shelves with drugs in botdes or in paper in
every direction. The tin lining of a
"packing case" served for a counter. There
was a cot slung to the ceiling" for Dr.
Helmcken's personal use. It was here that
Dr. Benson welcomed Dr. Helmcken.
Within two months, in May 1850, Dr.
Helmcken had been shipped off on the
HBC steamer, Beaver to Fort Rupert on
the northern end ofVancouver Island as
the physician-magistrate. However, he
found the job very distasteful, while trying
to apprehend three seamen who had deserted their ship and later, the Indians,
who had murdered the seamen in self-defence. He was glad to be returned, in
December 1850, to Victoria, in haste, in
an Indian canoe to attend to Governor
Blanshard's painful "tic douloureux". Later
he turned the litde cottage in the Fort into
his medical offices, and he was allowed to
have a private practice. Not until April 28,
1852 did James Douglas open the first session of the Legislative Council in the
Bachelors' Hall and the Fort served as the
site of the future government. This
council was replaced in 1856 by an elected
assembly which induded Doctors J.S.
Helmcken (speaker) and Dr. J.F. Kennedy
among its six members, and, by 1859,
they had moved to the House of
Assembly, called the "Bird Cages". At this
date, Dr. James Trimble, a naval surgeon
in Victoria, was dected, as well as the
HBC Doctor W.F. Tolmie who was
elected to two terms on March 1, 1859.
These two other HBC doctors, Dr. WE
Tolmie and Dr. Kennedy played important roles in nurturing the growth, health
and future of early Victoria.
Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, born in
Inverness, February 3,1812 and a medical
graduate of Glasgow University in 1832,
arrived at Fort Vancouver in 1833 via
Cape Horn and an eight month passage.
He served at Fort Nisqually on Puget
Sound and Fort McLoughlin (now Bella
Bella in B.C.) and, due to Russian opposition, assisted in moving Fort Simpson on
the Nass River to Port Simpson. He was
also a botanist, a naturalist, ethnologist
and "an authority on Indian affairs and
their dialects and languages." A "trader, an
agriculturalist and a legislator", this dour
and deeply religious Scot was "one of rhe
first resident doctors to practice in B.C. by
reason of his time at Fort McLoughlin"
(now Bella Bella). He noted in his diary,
after arriving December 28, 1833, that he
prescribed for two children in the Fort
McLoughlin and saw "several of the men
who were ill, and "dressed the wounded
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 arms of two Indians — the wounds are on the
dorsal aspect of forearms — are several square
inches in extent, and have been produced by
the bite ofthe chief to whom the men are attached and who does them the favour of removing a few inches of cutis and cellular
substance from the arm, when requested "
The HBC "medical men attended the
health of Indian tribesmen with reluctance
or not at all, if there appeared to be danger
through retaliation through superstition."
The doctors were instructed to treat HBC
servants which included the "Mtkis,
traders, derks, artisans and their native
born womenfolk." Illness to be treated induded "contagious fevers, bones to be set,
scurvy, wounds to be dressed, infections
countered, carbundes lanced, aching teeth
to be drawn and men to be bled for a presumed oversupply of blood distressing the
venous system." By our present medical
standards the treatments and medicines
available in those days were woefully inadequate. However, the diaries of Dr. Tolmie
and Dr. Helmcken suggest that they had
highly qualified medical and pharmaceutical training and undertook detailed patients' histories and examinations. After
his years as Chief Trader at Fort Nisqually
where he was a director of the Puget
Sound Agricultural arm of the HBC, Dr.
Tolmie was transferred to Victoria in 1859
during the Fraser River Gold Rush and
here he continued as their agent in managing the Fort Victoria HBC farms. At the
same time in Victoria he served as a
member of the local legislature for two
terms, member ofthe board of education,
member ofthe medical profession to a few
former U.S.A. patients who visited
Victoria, as a stock breeder on his 1,100
acre farm called "Cloverdale", and as the
head of his large family consisting of his
wife Jane Work Tolmie, five daughters and
seven sons, one of whom was Dr. Simon
Fraser Tolmie, a veterinary surgeon and
B.C. premier from 1928 to 1933. In
1870, the physician Tolmie, retired to his
fifteen room house of stone and California
redwood called "Cloverdale". He died on
December 8, 1886 at the age of 74.
Another early B.C. and HBC surgeon
was our own J.F. Kennedy first stationed
at Fort Simpson on the Nass River in
1832.  Dr. John  Frederick Kennedy, a
Meus, was born in 1805, the eldest son of
Chief Factor, Alexander Kennedy.
Following his medical degree from
Edinburgh, this "careful and attentive"
man was paid only £60 sterling per
annum by HBC, to serve as a surgeon,
trader, storekeeper and accountant.
Appointed Chief Trader in 1847 he was
over twenty years in the HBC also serving
at Fort Nisqually, Fort Rupert, and finally
as Nanaimo's member of the first House
of Assembly in Victoria along with Dr. J.S.
Helmcken. Being a Metis and marrying
"Fanny", the daughter of a Tsimpsean
chief, he "knew the Indian customs and
jargons" and had their confidence as an interpreter for making treaties, and while
hunting for the reported gold discovery at
Mitchell Harbour, Queen Charlotte
Islands in 1852. There again in 1853 he
was an Indian advisor on HMS Virago
whose ship surgeon was Dr. Henry
Trevan. Retiring in 1856 he was in
Victoria and still working while he hdped
Dr. Helmcken pick gunshot from "a buttocks that looked like a plum pudding".
Like Dr. McLoughlin, Dr. Kennedy also
lost a son-in-law, J.D.B. Ogilvy, who was
murdered by a prisoner. Dr. Kennedy died
in 1859.
Diaries and informative artides about
these HBC doctors, and in particular Dr.
Helmcken's casebooks, make interesting
reading in the provincial archives. Dr.
Heal-My-Skin, as Dr. Helmcken was
known as, had to mix and match powders,
tinctures, leaves, seeds, plasters, acids, oils,
roots, extracts, wines, aloes with myrrh,
burgundy pitch, senna, sassafras shavings
and even creosote. These had to be rolled
into pills and offered to the unwary and to
distant HBC forts, as Dr. Helmcken "wit-
tedly referred to as, "so many purges, so many
dozen pukes and so many dozen of quinine
and calomel, etc"."
He was indeed, a man of Lord Lister's
time, for Lister had graduated in medicine
at the University of London in 1852, only
four years after Helmcken graduated. In
1865, Lister announced the antiseptic
treatment of wounds and Dr. Helmcken
already had access to carbolic acid and creosote. Pasteur had not yet demonstrated
that septic properties depended on the
presence of minute organisms. Much later
(on September 13, 1897) Dr. Helmcken's
son, was to have the honour to escort Lord
Lister when he visited Victoria.
By 1858 the face of Victoria, and its
Fort were changing forever when over
20,000 gold seekers flooded into
Vancouver Island on their way to the
Lower Fraser River gold fields. Miner's
grey cotton tents surrounded the Fort,
four Catholic sisters arrived and the small
cottage hospital at Broad and Yates Streets
preceded the 1859 Royal Hospital on the
Songhees. The colony of B.C. was also
formed in 1858. My grandfather, Joseph
Clearihue, a goldseeker, arrived in Victoria
on the S.S. Forwood on June 18, 1859
and he would have seen the old Fort
Victoria buildings and the Fort's wooden
palisades before the last picket was torn
down in 1861.
By the Union Act of 1866, Vancouver
Island was "annexed" to B.C. and by
1867, legally all the HBC exdusive privileges on Vancouver Island, first granted
January 13, 1849, had reverted to the
Crown. B.C. joined Confederation in
1871, and as the last ofthe old Fort buildings crumbled in the early 1880's, Fort
Victoria and the legacy left by the
Hudson's Bay Company doctors became
but a memory.
Dr. foyce Clearihue prepared this as a talk far
the Victoria Medical Society. She recently retired from practice (dermatology) and has devoted considerable volunteer time to heritage
matters and the Royal B.C. Museum.
Note: Recently the perimeters of Fort Victoria
were traced and marked with colored bricks in
downtown Victoria.
Akrigg G.PV. & Hdcn B. Akrigg. "British Columbia / 1778-1849
Chronicle "Adventures by Sea and Land". Discovety Press 1975.
'HMS Virago in the Pacific 1851-1855 To The Queen Charlottes
and Beyond" Sono Nis Press, Victoria, 1992.
Bowsfidd, H. ed.. Fon Victoria Letters 1846-1851 .. .With an
Introduction by M. A. Onnsby. Winnipeg, Hudson's Bay Record
Society, 1979.
Gregson. Harry. A History of Victoria 1842-1970. Tlie Victoria
Obsetvet Publishing Co. Ltd. 1970.
Hdmcken. John Sebastian. BCARS add. MSS505 Family Papers, Vol. 1
folder 2 (Benson); folder 17 (Tolmie). Vol. 2 F27 Vol. 3 Drug and
Medical Supplies Account Books 1857-1860; Case Book 1876-1879 -
Microfilm A810. Volume 4-JSH Medical Notebooks, Sept. 24, 1845.
Jones, Carle. "The David McLoughlin Story" B.C. Historical News, Vol.
28, No. 1. 1994-95.
Munro. Dr. AS. "The Medical History Story of B.C Series VoL 25.
1931: Vol. 26/1932 CMAJ.
Nesbitt. J.K. "John Frederick Kennedy" The Daily Colonist BCARS
Red 74 Frame 0079.
Ormsby, M.A. "British Columbia: a History" The MacMillans in
Canada 1958.
Pediick. Derek. "Victoria: The Fort" Mitchdl Press Ltd., Vancouvet
Ruggles, Richard 1. "A Country so Interesting. The HBC and Two
Centuries of Mapping 1670-1870, Ruperts' Land Record Society
Series" McGill-Queens U. Press 1991.
Smith, D. Blakey, ed., "The Reminiscences of Doctor John Sebastian
Helmcken". University of B.C. Press 1975.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 NEWS & NOTES
Introducing our New Editor
Fred Braches of Whonnock comes to us well
recommended. He and his wife Helmi are active members of the Archaeological Society of
British Columbia. In 1995 Fred retired from a
career in international shipping which brought
him from Holland to Latin America, the Far
East, and 25 years ago, to British Columbia.
Throughout his career he travelled extensively.
He is no stranger to publication. Prior to his retirement he published, with Professor Richard
Shutler of Simon Fraser University, a series of
articles on the Pleistocene fauna of his native
Indonesia. Fred has become deeply interested
in the past of our province with a special interest in the history of his home community of
Whonnock. Since his retirement he has added
to an assembly of documentation and information under the patronage of the Whonnock
Community Association. (See BCH NEWS Vol.
31 No. 1, "Some Notes on Whonnock" by E.L.
Affleck.) His efforts to retrace the past have
made him aware of the value and fragility of
personal recollection and records. Fred is producer, editor and publisher of a series of occasional papers, WHONNOCK NOTES,
Whonnock's past.
Fred also produces and distributes The
MIDDEN (of which he is Assistant Editor) the
quarterly newsletter of the Archaeological
Society. To contact Fred, see address on the inside back cover.
BCMA 42nd Annual Conference
Our British Columbia Historical Association /
Federation was created in 1922 to preserve,
mark, or record anything of value to the heritage of our province. When collections of artifacts were being amassed and displayed in
communities other than Vancouver and
Victoria, the Historical Association decided that
groups sponsoring museums and individual curators would be better served by an organization of their own. The BCHA sponsored the formation of the B.C. Museums Association in
In the early years the provincial government offered the services of a Provincial Museums
Advisor. The good gentleman in that office distributed information, gave practical advice and
great dollops of encouragement (but no
About 1982 the Museums Association allowed
Art Galleries to become members. Cranbrook
hosted delegates from the B.C. Museums
Association from October 1st to 4th, 1998. The
Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, Fort Steele
Heritage Town and the St. Eugene Mission &
Tribal Centre gave tours described as "Workshops on the Move." Guest Speakers dealt with
Educational Perceptions, Tourism, Public
Sector Services, Internet Marketing, and
Community Partnerships.
The Canrdian Council for Rail Heritage held its
business meeting concurrently with the Annual
General Meeting of the BCMA. President of the
BCMA is Kirsten Clausen of the Langley
Centennial Museum and National Exhibition
Ihe Art of Storytelling in Procter
Procter sits on the point where the West Arm of
the Kootenay Lake begins. It had orchards, and
wharves for lake steamers very early in the settlement years. When the railway finally went
through in the 1930s its importance as a
transfer point for freight and passengers vanished. But ft had no road access until the
Harrop Ferry was put into service.
How does a tiny community save its heritage
community hall? Their major fundraiser was a
Storytelling Festival held on October 5.
History Through Storytelling is a theme which
delighted the audience and will be tried again
next year on July 3rd & 4th. Anyone wishing
further details can contact Barry Gray at RR#3
S20 C 45, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5P6 or
Phone (250) 229-4671.
LABELS: Expiration Date
Your address label should have a
number/number in the upper right corner.
Compare this with the notation on the top left
comer of the front cover. This issue is Vol. 32
No. 1. So, if your address label says 32/1 this
could be your last issue UNLESS YOU
RENEW. If you have been subscribing through
your local Historical Society, please pay your
renewal to your Treasurer. Otherwise mail your
renewal cheque to: The Subscription Secretary,
Joel Vinge, RR#2 S13 C60, Cranbrook, B.C.
Commencing in January 1999 the annual subscription is $12 for everyone. This is to comply
with guidelines from Canada Heritage in conjunction with Canada Post.
fitanic's Final Supper
The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club recreated the
seven course dinner, with accompanying wines,
of the last dinner on the Titanic. Guests appeared in luxurious period costume, some
replications, but Doris Winterbottom wore an
heirloom black lace dress from 1911. James
Delgado of the Maritime Museum became
Captain of the ship for the evening. Leonard
McCann was a special guest for the evening,
wearing a white tie and tails. Profits from this
gala event on June 29th were donated to the
Vancouver Maritime Museum.
"Red" McLeod Remembered
Norman McLeod was a young, impetuous citizen of Fort Steele in the late 1880's. Because
of his flaming red hair he was constantly called
"Red," a name that he hated. One day, in a bar,
he broke a bottle over a tormentor's head, left
him lying prostrate, then saddled his horse and
headed out of town. The local policeman was
sent after McLeod, who was found cooking
supper beside a creek. McLeod brashly invited
the constable to join him for a plate of beans.
When the pursuer relaxed, McLeod grabbed
his gun, his horse then left waving, "Ta Ta". The
Creek, and community, thereafter was known
as TaTa Creek.
McLeod spent a short time south of the 49th,
then settled in Argenta. There he lived a life of
stealing from the rich and aiding the poor. In
his declining years he sought help to contact
(he was illiterate) his sister who lived in Detroit,
and paid her fare to travel to Kaslo to visit him.
McLeod died at 82 in the Nelson Hospital and
was buried in Kaslo on August 23,1948 in an
unmarked grave. This summer (1998) Dorothy
Sawczuk and two friends raised sufficient funds
to pay for a tombstone. This marker is red
sandstone, carved by a current resident of TaTa
Creek, and it was set in place fifty years after
his death.
News Sought
Please keep sending items of interest, notices,
society newsletters and obituaries to Naomi
Miller, Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0. Naomi
will be compiling News & Notes and Federation
reports to assist the incoming editor.
Merritt Conference 1999
The theme of the BCHF Conference
1999 is "Exploring the Nicola Valley." On
the evening of Thursday, April 29, a wine
and cheese social at the Senior Citizens
Centre gives delegates the opportunity to
greet old friends and meet new ones. The
Nicola Valley Museum & Archives shares
this building at 2202 Jackson Avenue, so
visitors can browse through the display
Friday the Conference moves to the
Merritt Convention & Civic Centre. After
lunch a bus tour will take participants to
the Highland Valley Copper Mine, one of
the largest open pit mines in North
America. There will be varied entertainment in the evening.
On Saturday another bus tour is planned
to historic Nicola Ranch (located just a
few country miles outside of Merritt.) The
bus then continues on to Quilchena
where there are authentic examples of
what ranching and life in the Nicola Valley
was 100 years ago.
Special guest, Wendy Wickwire, will
speak on Saturday evening on the Native
history of the area. A pancake breakfast
Sunday morning, May 2, 1999 will close
the Conference.
Winston A. Shilvock
This gentleman from Kelowna introduced
himself to novice editor Naomi in 1988,
volunteering to advise and assist with the
B.C. Historical News. He prepared the
Spring 1990 issue (Vol. 23/2) with many
stories on the Okanagan. During his career in business he published many articles on economics and salesmanship.
Then when he retired he devoted himself
to history, calculating recently that 254 of
his articles have appeared in print. He
passed away in September, shortly before his 90th birthday.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Bookshelf
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the Book Review Editor:
Anny Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Cancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Robert D. Turner, Sternwheelers and
Steam Tugs: An Illustrated History of the
Canadian Pacific Railway's British Columbia
Lake and River Service, Sono Nis Press,
1998. Photos, maps, routes, timetables &
drawings, 302 p. softcover, $39.95
ISBN 1-55039-089-9
My son and his family recently dropped
off at our place en route to their home after a
vacation in B.C.'s interior. When he walked in
the door he spied my review copy of Bob
Turner's book Sternwheelers and Steam
Tugs - and promptly asked to borrow it when
1 was finished. He wanted to read it. As this is
a person who has so far made it his life's endeavour to read as few books as possible, I
was momentarily struck dumb. When I had
recovered and asked why, I was struck by his
answer. He and his family had visited the restored Moyie, and they had been enormously
struck by the vessel on which so many people
had spent so many hours to bring back to her
original state. To heap further coals on my ignominy he had also brought me some reading
material about the ship, for he knew I had not
much knowledge of this part of Canada's seafaring heritage. He in turn wanted to read
Well, he could do no better than to read
Turner's book. A reprint of the first edition that
appeared in 1984, this soft-covered version
has the added inducement of a new section
high-lighting the restoration of the Moyie, and
another sternwheeler, S.S. Sicamous.
As the fly-leaf to the book states, the
building of these increasingly more marvellous
'inland canoes' was necessitated by the contorted topography of inland British Columbia.
With numerous long and narrow lakes, and
many rivers to conquer, unless one was willing
to be diverted periodically north or south to
skirt these obstacles, the only solution to the
area's early settlers was to build shallow-
draught, manoeuverable craft to cut off these
large meanders. Turner details their proceedings, both people and ships, with loving care.
The ships were destined for relatively short
lives - and not just because of the hazards of
navigation, which they faced with great
aplomb. As the numbers of settlers established
on the land increased, so did the feasibility of
building railways and doing away with the wa-
tercraft. In fact, Turner's subjects had a heyday
that lasted only about forty years, from the
1890s until the 1930s, when the fateful hand
of railway progress rendered them obsolete.
Turner covers this exciting period in B.C. 's
history with informative text, maps and highly-
evocative photographs. Three hundred and
twenty in all, and all in glorious black and
white (except for a few colour in the 2nd edi
tion "Addenda") they depict all aspects of the
trade. The photographs and their accompanying captions alone are worth the cost of the
book. When one thinks of Canada's marine
heritage one all too often forgets these shortlived vessels. In doing so one misses a large
part of our national efforts to move passengers
and freight over water.
If there was one unexpected aspect to this
fascinating book to myself, steeped in the lore
of ocean shipping, it is the apparent ease with
which shipyards sprang up to build these incredible ships. Nothing in the book is more
evocative of this than the photograph on page
168, showing Sicamous just before she was
launched. There are a couple of houses in the
picture, some people milling about, a railway
spur line to the side of the ship, and a series of
timber skids leading her way to the water. It all
looks so easy, compared to the way ocean
ships were built! Likewise, Turner's skill with
his text gives an impression of easiness, an impression not allayed until one realises just how
much information he imparts with such skill.
It was a Canadian National Railways president who most cogently explained the phrase
the 'interdependence of wheel and keel', referring to the way in which the two modes
worked together. Traditionally, however, it
was the CPR that put action to words - hence
the main concentration of this book on the
CPR's B.C. Lake and River Service. A few
pages creep in about the CN competition, towards the end of the main period under discussion, but otherwise this is a CPR story from
beginning to end. I cannot wait to hear what
my son thinks of it, when he has finished such
a readable book.
Kenneth S. Mackenzie
Transportation Historian, Salt Spring
Island, BC
From Summit to Sea; Illustrated History
of Railroads in British Columbia and
Alberta. George H. Buck. Calgary, Fifth
House Ltd., 1997. 202 p. Hard cover.
$29.95. Available from Fifth House Ltd., #9 -
6125  11th St. S.E., Calgary, AB T2H 2L6
From Summit to Sea is a well illustrated
survey of the development of British
Columbia's and Alberta's railway systems
from the 1880s to 1939. This covers the
major periods of railway construction and
consolidation in both provinces. By 1939
nearly all of the major railways, with the exception of the Pacific Great Eastern (later the
British Columbia Railway) had been expanded to their maximum extent. After the
War, vast changes were on the horizon in
cluding increased competition from trucking
and airlines, dieselization and the elimination
of most passenger travel by train. The cut off
of 1939 also represents about the mid-point of
the history of railways in British Columbia and
The book covers a wide range of topics
that are all part of the complex story of railway
development and expansion in Western
Canada which is the theme of the volume. As
the author points out very correctly, it was
people who imagined, built, operated and
used the railways, and people feature importantly throughout the book. From Summit to
Sea begins with the construction of the
Canadian Ffeicific Railway in the 1880s, operations and improvements to the railway, the
development of the CPR's tourism and hotel
business, the Grand Trunk Ffeicific's expansion
across northern Alberta through the
Yellowhead Pass to Prince Rupert, the
Canadian Northern's often parallel construction through the Yellowhead and westward to
the Pacific at Fbrt Mann on the Fraser River,
improvements to the CPR including major engineering works and expanded hotels and resorts, smaller railways such as the Alberta
Central, the Alberta & Great Waterways, the
Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia,
the Pacific Great Eastern, the Canadian
Ffeiciflc's Kettle Valley and some others. The
final major section called "The Battle of the
Giants," which brings the story up to 1939,
discusses the railways through Depression and
the competition between the government
owned Canadian National and the privately
owned but government subsidized Canadian
Nearly 150 black and white photos are reproduced in the book along with four maps
showing the extent of the railway system
during different periods. The photos are well
chosen, evocative and diverse, showing a
range of people, equipment, places, buildings,
bridges and trestles and landscapes. Some are
familiar but most will be new to the majority of
readers. Reproduction of the photographs is
excellent. The book is nicely printed in good
quality coated book stock and it has a sturdy
The book also includes a lengthy appendix of railway charters which indicates
whether the charters were dominion or
provincial and where the lines were to be
built. Most of course, were never built and
were "paper railroads" chartered in speculative efforts to occupy the legal ground in case
there ever was a good reason to build the
routes outlined in the charters. Charters could
become valuable assets if major companies
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 became interested in the routes.
Seven pages of end notes provide citations and further information including many
references to trade journals and other early articles and papers. Five pages of bibliography
provide readers with additional published
works that may be helpful for more reading or
research. The book concludes with a thorough
index that will make the text and illustrations
readily accessible.
I was particularly pleased to see that the
book provides a good balance between the
story of the Canadian Pacific, which has dominated the railway network of southern British
Columbia and Alberta, and the less well
known story of the Canadian National
Railways and its predecessors, in particular the
Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific
railways. Canadian National has had a very
significant impact on both provinces and its interesting and important story is full of dreams,
personal and financial difficulties, engineering
successes and the uneasy balance of being a
government owned enterprise. Its major
routes, which converge in Yellowhead Pass
west of Edmonton, form a giant V shape
across British Columbia with one leg extending to Prince Rupert and the other to
Vancouver. In Alberta, the CNR dominated
the railways of the northern prairies.
Edmonton has been to the CNR what Calgary
has been to the Canadian Pacific.
The book focuses on common carrier passenger and freight railways and does not include logging and mining railways or other industrial operations, the electric street railways
in the major urban centres or the British
Columbia Electric's interurban system. The
BCE's interurbans, in particular, would have
been a useful addition because the Fraser
Valley lines operated as a passenger and
freight railway that connected with the steam
railways and was very important to the region.
The book includes only passing references to
the extensive coastal steamship services operated by both the Canadian Pacific and
Canadian National in conjunction with their
railways. Similarly, the CPR's B.C. Lake and
River Service, which really was an integral part
of the railway system in the southern interior,
is not included. More information on the Great
Northern's important connections out of
Vancouver to Seattle also would have been
valuable because of its importance as an international connection.
This book is well written and has a nontechnical tone that will make it very useful as a
general reference. This is a broad topic to
cover in a fairly small volume and the author
has done an admirable job of condensing a
politically and technologically complex topic
into a very readable and informative presentation. I hope it will be widely available in school
and regional libraries. This is a good book and
a valuable reference on an important part of
our history.
Robert D. Turner
Curator Emeritus,
Royal B.C. Museums
Beloved Dissident Eve Smith, 1904-1988.
Cathers, Arthur. Blyth, Ont, Drumadravy
Books, 1997. ISBN 0-920390-05-6.
Paperback, illus., $22.95. Available from
Drumadravy Books, Blyth, Ont. NOM 1H0
For people familiar with Eve Smith, or
sympathetic to any of the numerous causes
she championed in her long life of social activism, this biography will be of interest.
Cathers' style is a very approachable one. He
quickly pulls his reader into the narrative by
building effective word pictures of her family's
pioneer experiences and Eve's childhood in
the Gulf Islands, town life in Esquimalt,
schooling and adventures with her sister
Constance. Cathers' tone is always upbeat.
Even the horrors of tuberculosis and Eve's
quarantine at Tranquille for several years in
her early adulthood are treated with a light
touch. Cathers offers a very sympathetic portrait of a high spirited and vivacious woman
who was devoted to the well-being of her birth
family and ultimately to a much wider community through her involvement in the
Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and
environmental groups.
It is in the political chapters of the book
that Cathers really finds his stride and
broadens his audience to include political
buffs. Eve's life was closely intertwined with
the CCF. In fact, at times the biography reads
like a Who's Who of early British Columbia
social democrats, with the names of prominent participants scattered throughout.
Through her activities in the party Eve met her
husband, learned to handle a public platform,
and to write on political issues. At the request
of Ernie Winch, Eve wrote political articles,
commentaries and book reviews for The
Federationist, the party voice. Cathers handles Eve's stormy relationship with some
members of the national CCF hierarchy from
her insider's view (and his) and reveals the
tensions which racked it. Walter Young's well-
known characterization of the CCF as a political organization torn between the movement/ideology faction and the political
party/pragmatic faction was well reflected in
the Smith household. Eve belonged to the first
camp, her husband Don, to the second. Don,
1930s political candidate, editor of The
Federationist and sports reporter for the
Vancouver Sun argued for political expediency as the road to office and change. Eve
and brother-in-law John favoured ideology
over electoral success. Eventually Eve also
preferred John over Don.
For students of British Columbia history,
the book inadvertently offers evidence of the
interconnectedness of elements of British
Columbia society in the opening decades of
this century. Particularly, the British segment
of British Columbia society centred in the Gulf
Islands and on Vancouver Island. Eve fits the
pattern well with aristocratic and prominent
political connections through her father, Ralph
Grey. Ralph's branch of the family produced
the famous British prime minister whose government introduced the First Reform Bill of
1832 (Eve's great grandfather), a Canadian
Governor-General and the British foreign secretary during World War I. On the distaff side,
her aunt was married to Eve's beloved "Uncle
Monnie", Martin Allerdale Grainger, lumberman, author of Woodsmen of the West,
and Chief Forester of British Columbia.
This biography is a celebration of the life of
the author's friend, political colleague and coworker. Cather's approach is essentially narrative, a type of gossipy romp rather than scholarly. The choice fits both author and subject
Linda L. Hale
Department of History, Political Science
and Latin Langara College
Hope and Forty Acres. Kamloops, Plateau
Press, 1997. 72 p. illus. paperback. $12.95
The first decade of the 20th century was
the decade of the orchard development boom
around Kootenay Lake, as settlers were lured
in from Britain and Eastern Canada to tame
the wild wooded slopes. Willow Point, the orchard settlement closest to the distribution
centre of Nelson, B.C., harboured a full complement of these plucky and idiosyncratic settlers who participated in a losing battle to wrest
a good living from growing tree fruits.
Prominent among these settlers was the
Dawson family. Following a 1904 lecture tour
in the U.S.A., William James Dawson in midlife gave up his pastorate of a large
Congregational Church in London and
moved his entire family of wife and six children to the U.S.A. where he became pastor of
First Presbyterian Church in Newark, N.J.
Dawson's eldest son Coningsby, a writer and
itinerant lecturer, embarked in 1906 on a tour
of the west. Con fell in love with the Kootenay
District and persuaded his youthful younger
brother Reginald to abandon his studies at the
Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph in
order to amass a quick fortune by taking up
"orchard development" land on Kootenay
Lake. After Reg had devoted several years to
vigorous rustication, William J. Dawson saw fit
to build a comfortable house near his son's
lakeside property and each summer thereafter
escaped with members of his family from the
heat and humidity of the Atlantic Seaboard to
his Willow Point retreat.
Members of the Dawson family possessed
the gift of eloquence. W.J. and Con Dawson
were both prolific writers of fiction and non-
fiction. After World War I, W.J. Dawson wrote
a novel entitled War Eagle which was a thinly
disguised portrayal of a number of Willow
Point's idiosyncratic residents. During the depression-ridden days of the 1930s, one well-
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 thumbed copy of this novel passed up and
down the cash-strapped settlement In Hope
and Forty Acres, Reginald Dawson displays
similar writing skill in his engrossing retrospect
of his rank greenhorn struggles to tame his
forty Willow Fbint acres.
Reg. Dawson's memoirs, written in later
life and left unpublished for forty years until
brought to light by the diligent editorial work
of Julie Dawson, a relative, unfortunately
make up a decidedly slim volume. It is to be
regretted that Reg did not during his lifetime
encounter a sympathetic editor who might
have persuaded him to expand his humourous and insightful accounts of his earlier
life. For example, a more detailed sketch of the
gentlemanly Willow Fbint storekeeper and
postmaster Charles W West, reputed to have
been driven to insolvency by his wife's
propensity in serving tea and cake to all who
called in for the mail would have enhanced
the interest. Readers whose forebears participated in the pre-World War I boom in orchard
development will find Hope and Forty Acres
highly engrossing, while the quality of the
prose may also engage the attention of the
more casual reader.
The lay-out of Hope and Forty Acres is
generally attractive. However, the c. 1925 picture of the gargantuan CPR. sternwheeler
Nasookin calling in at the imposing Willow
Fbint wharf is eye-filling but misleading. The
"West's Landing" of Reg. Dawson's earlier
Willow Fbint days, devoid of vehicles and
highways, did not boast such a Federal
Government wharf capable of handling vehicular traffic. The modest little shallow-draft
sternwheelers of the early days simply nudged
a prow on to a stretch of friendly undeveloped
shore in order to make a landing.
Edward L. Affleck.
The Forgotten Side of the Border.
Wayne Norton & Naomi Miller, eds.
Kamloops, Plateau Press, 1997. 238 p.,
map, illus., index, paperback. $19.95
Available from Plateau Press, Box 283,
Kamloops, B.C. V2C 5K6
The extreme southeast corner of
British Columbia, encompassing the
southwestern slopes of the Rocky
Mountains, is drained by two river systems: (a) the Elk, which rises in the crest
of the Rockies and flows south and west
to join the man-made Lake Koocanusa,
and expansion of the Upper Kootenay
River, southwest of Elko, and (b) the
north fork of the Flathead River, which
flows east and south to link up in
Montana with the south fork and debouch into Montana's Flathead Lake.
Crows Nest Pass, in the upper reaches of
the Elk River system, provides relatively
low-level access to the Alberta side of the
Rockies. The country in this southeastern
pocket has a rugged beauty, at least in
those spots relatively untouched by the
hand of man. In winter, the snowfall is
fairly heavy and the days tend to be short
as the sun disappears in midaftemoon
over the mountains hemming in the
narrow canyons. In addition to the lure of
the Wilds, the region to-day attracts ski
enthusiasts and even golfers.
Coal mining has been the dominant
industry in this area. Few of the companies engaged in the industry served as
model employers. The economics ups
and downs of the mining industry tend to
make for turbulent times in mining settlements under the best of circumstances,
and such circumstances seldom obtained
in the Elk Valley settlements. Particularly
distressing were the number of
heartrending mining disasters which occurred.
Twenty-three writers, subscribing to
the view that to date the published history
of this pocket of B.C. remains relatively
meagre, have produced a variety of retrospects on the area. We are greatly indebted to this group and to their editors
for this compilation. The quality of the
writing is generally good so that the
reader can bank on some lively and informative browsing. At least two of the articles are indeed outstanding. One finishes the volume with a respect for the
plucky, polyglot settlers who wrestled for
a living in the Elk Valley's coal mining industry earlier in the 20th century. One
fervently seconds the desire of the writers
that the book will heighten the awareness
of the part which the Elk Valley has
played in the development of the
Province. Perhaps we shall be fortunate
enough to have the editors press on with
a second informative volume.
The format of the book is utilitarian, in
keeping with the modest selling price.
Given that the volume is in the nature of
an anthology, adhering neither to a time
nor geographical sequence, one regrets
the absence of an introductory
chronology summarizing the major
events in the area since the arrival of the
white man. The one map provided does
not provide much assistance in "placing"
the various mining communities. Two
maps, one illustrating the features of the
area prior to World War I, when the railways provided the dominant links, and
the other illustrating the present-day set
up, would greatly assist the reader, particularly in identifying vanished settlements
in the Elk Valley and that part of the
Upper Kootenay Valley now drowned in
Lake Koocanusa. One final regret involves the absence of an article on the
valley of the North Fork of the Flathead
River, surely the true terra incognita of
Southern British Columbia. I'll look for
such an article in a realization of Volume
Edward L. Affleck
Ted Affleck is the author of
Sternwheelers, Sandbars and
Switchbacks (1973).
The First Nations of British
Columbia: an Anthropological Survey.
Robert J. Muckle. Vancouver, University
of B.C. Press, 1998. 146 p., illus., map.
The First Nations of British
Columbia is a pedagogical presentation
of knowledge generated by anthropologists about B.C. native people. Written in
lean and accessible language, this book
was intended by the author to convey
general knowledge about the characteristics of native cultures, as well as the
manner and milieu in which such knowledge has been collected. Muckle's narrative is a fairly elementary introduction to
the subject, but those who are well acquainted with native issues may find
some of the appendices, particularly the
lists of B.C. First Nations and major
ethnic groups, to be handy reference
tools. The book is well organized, beginning with a discussion of what constitutes
a First Nation, followed by reviews of the
techniques and findings of archaeology
(study of prehistoric cultures) and
ethology (study of native cultures in historic times), including a discussion of cultural change among First Nations since
the time of initial contact with Europeans.
To supplement his explanations, Muckle
uses a helpful array of maps and photographs.
Muckle's discussion of what constitutes a First Nation sheds light on the definition of various terms. As many are
aware, the term "Indian" is a misnomer
based on Christopher Columbus's mistaken initial belief that he had arrived in
India. Less well known are the meanings
of some other terms. As Muckle reveals,
"First Nation" has been used to refer to
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 Indian bands, groups of bands, communities or other groupings. His description
of "status" Indians as those people listed
in a register maintained by the Federal
Government is accurate, but some discussion of the Indian Act and Natives'
past legal status as "wards of the Crown"
would have provided a more complete
context for explaining their distinct legal
and constitutional status.
The section concerning native prehistory begins with the interesting juxtaposition of native peoples' creation myths and
archaeological investigation. As Muckle
notes, these myths generally indicate that
natives have been in their respective territories since "time immemorial" and
were placed there and given relatively immutable values, customs and languages
by a supernatural creator. Archaeologists,
on the other hand, believe that the native
people of North, South and Central
America are the descendants of ancient
hunters who migrated from Asia across
the Beringia land bridge some time between 20,000 and 12,000 years ago. I
found that Muckle's descriptions of significant sites in B.C. were a helpful and interesting way to demonstrate variety and
change among prehistoric cultures.
In the ethnology section, Muckle reviews the history of ethnology in B.C., indicating how prominent early ethnologists
collected information by examining natives' oral histories and music, as well as
Europeans' paintings and photographs.
In discussing this work, Muckle pays particular attention to the significant contributions of Franz Boas. Following this is a
general overview of the ethnological classifications of native cultural groups, and
ethnological findings regarding linguistic
diversity, seasonal migration and diet,
and social organization and cultural practices relating to spirituality, health, art ceremony, trade and warfare.
Muckle uses the term "traditional life-
ways" frequently in the ethnology section. I could not find a definition for the
term in the book and was left to assume
that it refers to baseline cultural practices
developed by natives prior to the arrival
of Europeans.
In his final section, Muckle attempts to
examine the impact of European fur
traders, gold seekers, religious orders, settlers, and government on native peoples.
Much of this section appears to rely upon
theories developed by prominent B.C.
historians and political scientists. There is
very little discussion of work by ethnologists/anthropologists regarding cultural
change. Although this would have been
the section to discuss the impacts of
racism and the Indian Act on native cultures, Muckle gives both subjects short
shrift However, he does provide a solid
overview of the impacts of residential
schools as well as native peoples' assertion of aboriginal rights over the years.
In conclusion, Muckle's book provides a fairly engaging review of the history of the practices and findings of archaeology and early ethnology in B.C. in
relation to native peoples. The first sections are stronger than the final section
which attempts to analyse cultural change
among natives. In it, Muckle leaves the
impression that little work has been done
to study cultural change and native life-
ways in recent times, and I suspect that
this is probably not the case. Overall, this
book is a handy reference for those interested in general information about the
study of natives in prehistoric and early
historic times.
Jos Dyck,
Treasurer, Vancouver
Historical Society.
Pioneer Legacy: Chronicles of the
Lower Skeena: Vol. 1; Compiled by
Norma V. Bennett. Terrace, B.C., Dr.
R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation, 1997.
240 p., illus. hard cover, $30.00.
Available from the
Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation,
4720 Haugland Ave., Terrace,
B.C. V8G2W7
Pioneer Legacy is a compilation of articles and reminiscences, both first-hand
and secondary, brought together from an
extensive collection which Ms. Bennett
accumulated over a long number of
years. For this book, Bennett notes, "I
tried to select what might be of local interest and to arrange it in a somewhat
chronological order so that it would not
seem so much a disjointed collection as a
continuous record of development" No
attempt is made, however, to be all-embracing; there are, for example, no articles devoted to the religious settlement at
Meanskinisht, and that community is
mentioned only in passing. The items are
of uneven lengths, and while many were
written by participants in the early non-
native exploration and settlement of the
river, some are of recent vintage. The
sources for the material included are listed
in an appendix, and this will be of value
to those wishing to pursue any particular
The book's contents are arranged into
a number of major divisions. These include one of the "lower" Skeena, that
stretch from Hazelton (the "Forks"),
where the Bulkley joins the main river, to
its mouth about 180 miles away; several
on the "Transportation" eras, when canoes and sternwheelers provided the
principal means of travel; and others for
the various settlements which were established during the nineteenth century and
continued into the twentieth. These were
at Port Simpson, Port Essington, Kitselas,
and Hazelton. While some distance from
the river's mouth, Port Simpson, as the
major Hudson's Bay Company's distribution center on the north Pacific Coast,
was for some years the terminal for transportation to and from the Skeena. Few
articles are devoted to Hazelton because,
as Bennett points out, that village has
been written up in several other publications. It is one of the positives of this book
that Port Essington and Kitselas have
been allotted large sections. These were
important communities, and both faded
when the completion of the Grand Trunk
Pacific Railway through the valley
changed the transportation situation.
There is a surprising continuity to
Pioneer Legacy despite the diversity in
form in the writings included. This may
be in part due to the unity provided by
the river itself since the Skeena remains
central at all times. The index is uncommonly complete and includes not only
places, people, and river boats, but also a
number of subject headings. This adds
considerably to the usefulness of the
book. There are four maps. Of these the
most helpful are the frontispiece - of the
area covered by the book - and one
showing the locations of the various fish
canneries. The photographs (more than
80) give a good sense of the geography
of the river's lower stretches, and of the
settlements and their residents.
George Newell
Mighty River: A Portrait of the Fraser.
Richard C. Bocking. Vancouver /
Toronto, Douglas & Mclntyre, 1997.
294 p., maps, hard cover. $35.00
Mighty River is an ambitious book.
B.C. HISTORICAL NEWS - Winter 1998 - 99 The subject is grand, and the challenges
for both the author and the publisher cor-
resondingly demanding.
In his "Preface", the author writes, "It
seemed time for a new book that would
celebrate the natural history of the Fraser
and portray the extraordinary human
drama along its spectacular journey from
the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific
Ocean." Mighty River, he suggests, "is a
journey through centuries as well as kilometers, through astonishing landscapes
and a rich tapestry of life. Following the
Fraser River is also a search for the
human spirit, because much of the drama
that has characterized British Columbia's
story has been concentrated on the banks
of this river."
The form taken in this drama has
been, and is, in Bocking's opinion, war.
"When Europeans settlement began in
the mid-1800s. . . a war with the river
began that has endured for more than a
century." It is a war brought on because
"The Europeans who replaced Native
people on the land brought with them the
ideals of the Industrial Revolution, and
they set about changing the landscape to
accommodate their values. . . The
system changed from consumption at
levels well below nature's productivity to
consumption with no real limits." This
war has continued with the fortunes of
war: there are defeats and there are victories. The victories tend to be isolated,
and are not necessarily permanent Here,
for example, is his view of the situation at
Tete Jaune Cache: "Fortunately for the
flora and fauna of the region, the dreams
of the boomers collapsed soon after
railway construction moved on. The rich,
biological mother lode at Tete Jaune
Cache Islands could not have survived
urban development on any appreciable
scale. The townsite of railroad construction days was washed away by Fraser
River floodwaters, and the settlement
moved to higher ground. Today only a
general store and a few houses survive.
But natural life in the delta prospers. With
so many different habitats compressed
into a small space, the level of bio-diversity here is four times greater than that of
surrounding areas." Unfortunately this
happy state is not without its drawbacks.
"This concentration of wildlife. . . is not
only a miracle of nature. It is also a death
trap for animals with no defence against
their greatest predator: a person with a
Despite the defeats, and the imperma-
nence of the victories, Bocking sees
hope. The epigraphs for the final two
chapters give a good indication of where
he wants the book to point, and history to
go. That for Chapter 11 reads, "By becoming the first urban region in the world
to combine economic vitality with the
highest standards of livability and environmental quality, Greater Vancouver
can represent in history what Athens is to
democracy or Vienna is to music." And,
for Chapter 12, "The 'realists' have had
their time, and we see the fruits of their
work. It is time now for visionaries."
Bocking thanks his editor, Nancy
Pollak, by noting that her "contribution to
the structure as well as the detail of the
manuscript was invaluable." I suspect this
is not overstatement There are excellent
maps. The listing of sources is divided by
chapter and will be of great help to
anyone pursuing any particular area of interest There is a well-compiled index
With good reason the book has received
several prizes. It is capably conceived, the
writing is clear, direct, controlled.
Altogether a solid piece of work.
George Newell
No Better Land; the 1860 Diaries of
the Anglican Colonial Bishop George
Hills, edited by Roberta L. Bagshaw.
Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1996. 307 p.,
indexed, bibliography, illus. $21.95
On February 28, 1860, George Hills,
first Anglican bishop in British Columbia,
came upon two shirt-sleeved men chopping wood. He recorded the incident in
his journal under the title "Limbs of the
Law": "On approaching I found they
were Chief Justice Begbie and Captain
Brew, Judge of Small Debts Court They
were procuring firewood for themselves.
They live in one room and have no servant I took the axe from the Chief Justice
and cut a log in two. It was harder work
than I thought"
These diaries, one year from Hills'
thirty-three- year private record, abound
with such incidents, humanizing a man
often perceived as austere, and who
judged his own performance as "sadly
cold and unimpressive". They also go far
towards redressing the neglect and misrepresentation accorded the place of
church and clergy in British Columbia history.  This  "colonial bishop" consulted
frankly with first nations people, conversed easily with people of various
creeds and cultures, and forbade racial
discrimination in his churches. On March
25 "a respectable coloured person, Mrs.
Washington" called on him; and the following day he was visited "by Mr. Gibbs
and Mr. Francis, two coloured gentlemen." On both occasions, he engaged
his guests in earnest analysis of the prejudice they suffered.
Any study of Bishop Hills reminds me
of former Anglican archivist Cyril Williams
and his years of perusing and annotating
the Bishop's papers. His enthusiasm for
his own subject carried over into enthusiastic assistance for other researchers. In
the end, his work on Hills gave way before the announcements of more 'scholarly' approaches to the topic, and his
name does not appear in Bagshaw's
Acknowledgements or notes.
This book is not yet the scholarly work
Hills merits, but it is a significant preview.
When Bagshaw prepares, as I hope she
will, a more complete edition of the diaries, she should provide detailed maps
to accompant the Bishop's journeys, and
fuller explanatory notes. And she should
make the extra scholarly effort to recognize, for example, that the 'wide awake'
on page 184 is most likely a noun, denoting a type of hat, and not an adjective.
But, for the time being, we can gratefully savour such moments as this from
June 13:
I walked today with Mr. Crickmer in
search of a burial ground. We selected a
spot westward near two streams. Our
ramble was pleasant amidst beautiful
scenery and flowers in wondrous profusion. We gathered strawberries.
Phyllis Reeve
Phyllis Reeve is an avid reader of
other people's diaries.
A five year Index of the
B.C. Historical News will be
printed in January,
Readers wishing to order
this Index please send a
cheque for $5.00 to the
B.C. Historical News
c/o Box 130 Whonnock, B.C.
V2W 1V9
Web Address:
His Honour, the Honorable Garde B. Gardom Q.C.
First Vice President
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Recording Secretary
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Past President
B.C. Historical News
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Editor (1999)
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Nancy Peter
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Contact Nancy for advice and details to apply for a loan toward the cost of publishing.
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FX (250) 387-5360 The British Columbia Historical News
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Canadian Publications Mail  :
Product Sales Agr~
bc historical
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions of books for the seventeenth annual
Competition for Writers of B.C. History.
Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1999, is eligible. This may be a community
history, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections giving a glimpse of the
past. Names, dates and places, with relevant maps or pictures, turn a story into "history."
The judges are looking for quality presentations, especially if fresh material is included, with appropriate
illustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate index, table of contents and bibliography, from first-time writers as well as established authors.
NOTE; Reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
The Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded to an individual writer whose
book contributes significantly to the recorded history of British Columbia. Other awards will be made as
recommended by the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
All entries receive considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award
and an invitation to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Port Alberni in May 2000.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in 1999 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property ofthe B.C. Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone number of sender,
the selling price of all editions of the book, and the address from which it may be purchased, if the reader has
to shop by maiL If by mail, please include shipping and handling costs if applicable.
SEND TO: B.C. Historical Writing Competition
c/o Shirley Cuthbertson
#306 - 225 Belleville Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 4T9
DEADLINE:       December 31,1999.
There is also an award for the Best Article published each year in the B.C. Historical News magazine.
This is directed to amateur historians or students. Articles should be no more than 3,500words, typed double,
spaced, accompanied by photographs if available, and substantiated with footnotes where applicable. (Photographs should be accompanied with infdrmation re: the source, permission to publish, archival number if
available, and a brief caption. Photos will be returned to the writer.)
Manuscripts and correspondence should be sent directly to the Editor. Submissions may be made by
email to or by mail with a diskettem, PC or Mac formatted in any format used by the
author. Mail to: Fred Braches, P.O. Box 130, Whonnock, B.C. V2W 1V9.
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