British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 2003

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 British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 36, No. 2
ISSN 1195-8294
Above: Port Essington on the Skeena
Murdered by a scab
The British land claim at Nootka
Worries about BC's archives
Summers on the Skeena
BC Tree Fruits challenged
A significant inspector of fisheries
The Orpheum celebrates 75 years
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ISSN 1195-8294
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While copyright in the journal as a whole is vested in the British Columbia Historical Federation, copyright in the individual articles belongs to their respective authors, and articles may be
reproduced for personal use only. For reproduction for other purposes permission in writing of both author and publisher is required. British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 36, No. 2
Spring 2003
ISSN 1195-8294
2 A Working Man's Dream: The Life of Frank Rogers
by Janet Mary Nicol
6 My Skeena Childhood
by Eileen Sutherland
14 Was John Meares BC's Most Successful Real Estate Agent?
by John Crosse
16 A Palace of Entertainment:
Vancouver's Orpheum turns Seventy-Five
by Chuck Davis
21 We Can't Dispose of our Own Crop: Challenges to BC
Tree Fruits and the Single Desk Marketing System
by Christopher Garrish
26 The Demolition of the BC Archives
by Reuben Ware
28 Alexander Caulfield Anderson
An Ideal First Inspector of Fisheries
by Rod N. Palmer
32        Book Reviews
38 Reports
Peter Corley-Smith by Robert D. Turner
BC Sudies Conference by R.A.J. (Bob) McDonald
Lardo vs. Lardeau by Greg Nesteroff
40 Archives and Archivists
School Archives Program in Mission BC by Valerie Billesberger
41 Steamboat Round the Bend byTedAffleck
The Saga of the Sternwheeler Enterprise
42 Token History by Ronald Greene
The British Columbia $10 and $20 Coins
43 WEB-SITE FORAYS by Christopher Garrish
44 Federation News
"Any country worthy of a future should be interested in its past.
W. Kaye Lamb, 1937
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Interested? Call Editor Fred Braches for
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Yes, there are uncertainties around the
editorship but that should not cause
anyone to hesitate submitting manuscripts for future publication, nor
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We know that there will be a succesor.
We only don't know yet who it will
be. I am confident that a new editor
will be selected long before the fall,
but I invite you, our readers, to help
finding more canditates.
If you think that someone would be
interested or could be the one to do
the job, please let me know.   Don't be
bashful submitting your own name.
Suggestions, enquiries, and applications will be kept confidential.
the editor
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SPRING 2003 A Working Man's Dream
The Life of Frank Rogers
by Janet Mary Nicol
Janet Mary Nicol is a
teacher; writer; and
former union organizer;
iving in Vancouver
This spring marks the
100th anniversary of the
death of labour organizer
Frank Rogers
Armitage, Doreen. Burrard
Inlet, a History. (Madeira
Park: Harbour Publishing.
Bennett, William. Builders of
British Columbia.
(Vancouver: Broadway
Printers, 1937)
Griffiths, Hal. The Early
Feople's History.
(Vancouver: Tr ibune
Publishing Company.
Griffiths, Hal and G. North.
A Ripple, a Wave:The Story
of Union Organization in
the BC Fishing Industry.
(Vancouver: Fishermen
Publishing Society, 1974).
International longshoremen's
and Warehousemen's
Union, ILWU Local 500.
Man Along the Shore: The
Story ofthe Vancouver
Waterfront, As Told By the
Longshoremen Themselves,
1860s-1975. (Vancouver:
n.p, 1968).
ON 18 April 1903, as a heavy rain fell, the
longshoremen's union led more than
eight hundred mourners to the old city
cemetery above the blue inlet and overlooking
mountains around Vancouver. They came to bury
union organizer Frank Rogers, placing an anchor-
shaped wreath with the word "martyr" inscribed
at his grave.The funeral was the largest gathering
of trade unionists the city had experienced. Rogers
was only thirty years old when he was shot late at
night on a waterfront picket line a few blocks
from his rented room. He died two days later in
hospital. A strikebreaker hired by the Canadian
Pacific Railway was arrested for his murder but
later acquitted in court. Rogers's murder remains
Many aspects of Frank Rogers's life are a mystery. No photos exist of him, and details of his
personal life are sketchy though his exploits as a
union organizer made the front pages of local
newspapers. His next of kin are not recorded in
official documents and his funeral, which was paid
for by union members, was not attended by fam-
Rogers immigrated from Scotland to the
United States as a young man. He was a seaman
in the American navy and merchant service. In
1897 he followed hundreds of eager male adventurers to Vancouver, most en route to the Klondike
in the last great gold rush of the continent's history. Rogers chose to stay in the city moving in
and out of rented rooms in its oldest section,
Gastown, and working seasonally at the Burrard
Inlet docks. Over the next six years Rogers helped
build the longshoremen, fishermen, and railway
unions. He appeared like a shooting star to the
city's labour movement; his entrance coinciding
with a burst of new organizing and his death followed by its temporary collapse.
The working port attracted a diverse and unconventional group of labourers:" all of that breed
of men the world nails to its crosses," observed an
anonymous writer in a March 1911 British Columbia Magazine article. These workers including
French, Swedes, Punjabis, Asians, and First Nations, "knew the harbor and its ships as a subur
banite knows the houses on his own street."
Longshoremen formed a union in 1888 and had
been on strike ten times by the century's turn, yet
their basic rights were far from assured. It was this
world Rogers first entered at age 24.
A fedora shading his eyes, Rogers walked to
work, we can imagine, along a wood-planked
sidewalk, dressed in grey pants with wide suspenders and a long-sleeved white shirt. Passing hotel
saloons, shooting galleries, and warehouses, he
turned off Gore Street, crossed the CPR tracks
andjoined a long queue of men standing on the
wharf beside a moored sailing ship.The head stevedore selected men for the day's work at 35 cents
an hour. If Rogers made the cut, he fell in with
the chosen gang, unloading cargo from the ship's
hold, ropes and pulleys creaking.A foreman's whistle directed the gang's movements.The Alhambra
hotel saloon, situated in Gastown's oldest brick
structure still known as the Byrnes Block, was a
popular place for waterfront workers after a ten-
hour shift. Surely Rogers would be there, leaning
against its bar, holding a beer, and talking union.
Longshoremen moved exotic, difficult, and dangerous cargo.They unloaded bales of silk off ships
from Asia to train cars heading for NewYork.Two
workers were needed to lift a single sack of sugar.
"There were a lot of men who couldn't stand up
to that kind of work," according to retired stevedore Harry Walter in an oral account," Man Along
the Shore."" [Sugar] was worse than lead and lead
was tough too." Handling sulphur could be hazardous and so was exposure to dust from wheat.
"A lot of grain boys died from that wheat," retired longshoremen Frank McKenzie remembered. "Used to use handkerchiefs around their
mouths and nose[s]."
"At first we had nothing," Axel Nymen recalled
of his time in the longshoremen's union. "It was a
ship side pick." The foremen arbitrarily selected
men for a day's work and assigned tasks unevenly.
"We had a union with the general cargo people,"
Alex said,"but it all went haywire when they shot
the president of the Fishermen's Union [Frank
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Left: Salmon Fishing on
the Lower Fraser. Rogers
helped unite more than
four thousand immigrant
European and Japanese as
well as a few hundred First
Nations fishermen in seven
union lodges along the
rivers and inlets ofBC.
Mike Vidulich was a young fisherman when
he met Frank Rogers on the picket line in 1900.
He described him to labour historian Hal Griffiths
as "stocky" and "quite short but broad in the shoulders, with a strong, open face and dark hair beginning to grey at the sides." "He was a good
speaker, but quiet, not like Will MacClain [another strike leader] who used to shout and storm
when he spoke," Vidulich recalled. "Rogers was
an organizer, one of the best the fishermen ever
had.The canners could never buy him."Vidulich
said Rogers wasn't ambitious for himself but committed to the rights ofthe rank-and-file workers.
"He believed in unions and socialism," he said.
Cannery employers took a different view, calling Rogers an outside agitator and socialist from
the United States who wasn't even a fisherman
by trade. But their accusations were no match for
a socialist's passion.
Rogers was hired by the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada in the winter of 1899 to organize
theVancouver local of the BC Fishermen's Union.When the salmon season opened the following July, fishermen voted to strike against cannery owners for union recognition and a uniform price on fish at 25 cents each. Rogers helped
unite more than four thousand immigrant European and Japanese as well as a few hundred First
Nations fishermen in seven union lodges along
the rivers and inlets of BC. An old farmhouse
served as key union headquarters in Steveston,
then a distant village from Vancouver on the Fraser
Rogers sensed which groups would withhold
their labour, as reported in the Daily World: "Secretary Rogers said that there would be 1000 white
fishermen and all the old-time Japanese who
would not go out at all." First Nations groups
supported the strike but the vast majority of recent Japanese immigrants, organized separately in
a benevolent society, were less sure, knowing they
had few employment options in a racially antagonistic province dominated by citizens of British
origin. With the help of a translator, Rogers
worked hard to convince Japanese fishermen to
withdraw their labour.
During the first three weeks of picketing all
were united. Strikers in patrol boats carrying a
white flag with the number "25" in red, effectively cleared the Fraser River of strikebreakers.
The canners in turn threatened to evict strikers
in Steveston bunkhouses and withhold food.The
union retaliated by organizing Vancouver shopkeepers to donate bread, potatoes, and tents. Japanese strikers were permitted limited fishing and
the union urged all citizens to purchase their catch
as a show of support.
Jamieson, Stuart Marshall.
Times of Trouble: Labour
Unrest and Industrial
Conflict in Canada, 1900-
1966. (Ottawa:
Information Canada.
Leier, Mark. Red Flags and
Red Tape:The Making of a
Labour Bureaucracy.
(Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1995).
Marlatt, Daphne, ed.
Steveston Recollected, A
Japanese-Canadian History.
(Aural History, 1975).
McDonald, Robert A.J.
Making Vancouver, 1863-
1913. (Vancouver: UBC
Press, 1996).
Phillips, Paul. No Power
Greater: A Century of
Labour in British Columbia.
(Vancouver: British
Columbia Federation of
Labour, 1967).
Working Lives Collective.
Working Lives: Vancouver,
1886-1986 (Vancouver:
New Star Books, 1985).
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SPRING 2003 The British Columbia
Federationist. Vancouver
Tade and Labor Council.
The Independent.
(Vancouver, 1900 -
The Province. (Vancouver
1899 to 1903).
Vancouver Daily News
Advertiser. (Vancouver
Vancouver Sun. (Vancouver
The Voice. (Winnipeg Trade
and Labor Council.
Vancouver World. (Vancouver
1899 to 1903).
Anonymous, Picturesque
Vancouver, The
Vancouver: British
Columbia Magazine,
March 1911, p. 206.
Griffin, Hal. The Story of
Frank Rogers, The
Fisherman, 16 December
1960, page 9.
Mouat, Jeremy." Frank
Rogers". (Directoryof
Canadian Biography 1901-
1910,Vol. 13, pp. 889-
890. University of
Toronto Press, 1994).
But on 20 July Japanese fishermen broke from
the strike, agreeing to 20 cents a fish and returning to work. Asamatsu Murakami defended this
action in the book Steveston Recollected, A Japanese-Canadian History. "We are settled fishermen,"
he said, "and if we are left without any link with
the company, each family will be as helpless as
troops without provisions." Murakami said those
who defied the union had their nets cut, sails torn,
and their life threatened. "At 6 AM," he recalled,
" two white men came to the wharf and spoke to
K. Maeda on his boat. He could not speak any
English and they beat him up."
The government agreed to call out the militia
to protect the returning Japanese fishermen so
the canneries could re-open. This was the third
time in the province's history the militia was used
in a labour dispute. It was likely no coincidence
that Rogers was arrested and jailed in Vancouver
overnight on picket-related charges just before
the militia arrived in Steveston on 22 July. As a
testament to Rogers's leadership, strikers were at
a loss until he was released on bail the next day
and travelled the fifteen miles to Steveston by stage
along forest-lined Granville Street.The union stubbornly continued negotiating for another week
despite the show of force.They settled at 19 cents
a fish and did not win union recognition, returning to work 30 July. Though their gains were intangible, for a short time a diverse group of workers
had felt a collective strength. The union membership elected Frank Rogers president.
No clues indicate a woman in Rogers's life.
Romance did find his political ally, William
MacClain.With Rogers's help, MacClain was the
first socialist to run (unsuccessfully) for office in
BC in 1899. He married local woman Mary Ellen
Dupont the same year. She volunteered by
MacClain's side as he helped lead the fishermen's
strike—a role that cost him his job as a machinist
with the CPR.The couple left the province sometime after the dispute ended, possibly moving to
MacClain's previous residence in Washington
The next summer, union fishermen were ready
to strike again. The canners pounced, arresting
Rogers 12 July with eight other fishermen on
picket-related charges.The press noted with alarm
some of the accused men were well known in the
city and had families. Justice Drake was less sympathetic, calling all the strikers "thieves" and "robbers" , making special reference to one black and
two Chilean strikers as "foreigners" not familiar
with "British ways." While Rogers was in custody the union settled and its members were back
fishing 19 July, still without gaining union recognition.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Trades and Labour
Congress set up a defence fund and faithfully
brought food to the nine strikers in the New
Westminster county jail. Four months later all but
Rogers were tried, acquitted, and released from
their prison ordeal. Rogers was last to be let go
on $10,000 bail with his trial held over to the
next spring, at which time charges were dropped.
"I am going off for a week's recreation now," he
told a Daily World reporter after his release. The
reporter observed Rogers was as keen as ever in
speech but crunched up slightly in appearance. "I
am going to have a little sport shooting and then
shall come back to work here for the winter,"
Rogers said.
Rogers returned to the rank and file of the
longshoremen's union and kept a low public profile until the winter of 1903 when railway workers walked off the job 27 February after a clerk
was fired for organizing employees into the United
Brotherhood of Railway Employees. The CPR
vowed to spend a million dollars to break the
picketers, employing special police and spies. Also
undermining strikers were the railway craft unionists who refused to strike in support of less
skilled workers. But across western Canada, workers in other unions boycotted "scab" freight.
Rogers helped organize a sympathy strike of
longshoremen as the dispute moved into spring.
The fateful night of 13 April began innocently
enough. Rogers finished eating a late supper at
Billy Williams' Social Oyster and Coffee House
and stepped out onto Cordova Street around 11:20
PM, breathing in fresh night air cleansed by an
earlier rainfall. Turning on Water Street, he met
up with two acquaintances, also labourers, Antonio
Saborino and Larry O'Neill. All were heading to
nearby Gastown lodgings. As the trio approached
Abbott Street, they saw figures in the darkened
distance beyond the railway tracks. Interested in
the CPR picket activity, the men decided to investigate.
Less than an hour earlier a fist fight had occurred between CPR strikebreakers and strikers.
The strikebreakers fled to the moored steamship,
Yosemite, a makeshift sleeping quarter provided by
the CPR during the labour dispute. Two of the
strikebreakers had lost a hat and umbrella and were
returning to the tracks just as Rogers, O'Neill,
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 and Saborino appeared.The men were accompanied by a pair of armed special police hired by
the CPR. Also in the vicinity was a lone strikebreaker in a small office shed, who spotted Rogers
standing near the tracks directly beneath a light
and pulled his gun. As shots rang out in the dark,
the two special policemen responded by firing
their guns several times.
Rogers was hit by a bullet almost immediately
and fell to his knees. O'Neill and Saborino ran
for cover, then seeing Rogers fall, they rushed to
his aid and pulled him back to the street. Passers
by helped them carry
the wounded Rogers to
the Great Western Hotel on Water Street.
Rogers was laid out on
a table until a hack arrived and he was driven ^
to the old city hospital ^
at 530 Cambie. |
Rogers survived the A
night bandaged with
the bullet still lodged in his stomach. The next
morning he told the police: "I did not have any
trouble or row with anyone that night, neither
did Larry O'Neill, nor the other man who was
with me, that I know of. I do not know who shot
me, but I think it must have been someone off
the Yosemite or some of the special police. I had
had no trouble with anyone for some time past. I
did not see anyone else going down on to the
wharf with us. When the shots were fired there
were others [people] who came running to the
end of the street. I do not know where they came
from." Rogers told news reporters he would recover as he was young and strong. The doctor
later disclosed the wound was inoperable. Rogers
died the next afternoon, 15 April.
Members of the VTLC executive recognized
"the high esteem in which the late brother was
held by organized labour in this city and that the
cause has lost a useful and ardent worker and faithful champion of unionism." They arranged a funeral service at the Labor Temple and burial at
Mountain View Cemetery. An anonymous "intimate friend" of Rogers told a Daily World reporter:
"His was a daring soul,but he evidently was born
under an ill-omened star, as he seemed to get into
trouble very early—and on a number of cases innocently." And the editor of Winnipeg's labour
newspaper characterized Rogers as a "warm unionist."
DUJ) AHML LS- 1903
Tuesday night following the funeral, union
members and sympathizers crowded the old City
Hall auditorium to protest Rogers' murder. Speakers condemned the CPR and called on the government to forbid employers from arming strikebreakers. The VTLC posted a $500 reward for
Rogers' murderer.
Two CPR strikebreakers were charged. One
was released and the other, James MacGregor, a
strikebreaker brought in from Montreal by the
CPR to work as a clerk, was tried three weeks
after the shooting in a New Westminster court.
Conviction depended
on a key witness, strikebreaker William F
Armstrong, who had
been one of the men
returning to the tracks
with two special police.
At the preliminary
hearing Armstrong testified MacGregor admitted to firing the fatal shot from the office shed in the direction of
Rogers. However at the trial, Armstrong changed
part of his testimony, which cast doubt on his
entire statement. MacGregor was acquitted by a
jury 7 May, due to lack of evidence. A news reporter observed the accused had not been the
least anxious throughout the trial.The CPR had
hired a top lawyer to defend MacGregor, and some
say the employer paid MacGregor to leave town
after the trial. The coroner's report concluded
Rogers was "murdered by person or persons unknown."
The union movement was outraged justice was
not served. For a time, employers in the city held
the upper hand and when the UBRE strike ended
two months after Rogers's death, the union failed
to achieve recognition or employer guarantees to
hire back strikers. Other unions involved in sympathy strikes were dismantled, including the longshoremen's.
Trade unionists acknowledge Frank Rogers's
contribution, hopeful the province's first—but not
last—labour martyr will be remembered. In 1978
a local labour history group placed a commemorative stone at Rogers's grave. It reads, "Frank
Rogers / Murdered by a Scab / In Strike against
CPR / Died April 15, 1903 / Union Organizer
and Socialist." This epitaph tells us how Rogers
died. His life tells us what he dreamed for working people.^^
Other Sources
Death Certificate (Frank
Rogers); 1903/04/15:
Age - 30, Reg.# 1903-
09-119361, Microfilm*
B13094 (GSU# 192712)
Henderson Directory of
Vancouver. (1897-1903)
Marriage Certificate
(William MacClain); 19
August 1899, Vancouver.
B11372,GSU# 1983529,
Ralston, Keith. "The 1900
Strike of Fraser River
Sockeye Salmon
Fishermen." (M.A.Thesis.
University of British
Columbia, 1965).
Vancouver Mountain View
Cemetery Records
(Frank Rogers); records
state that Rogers died at
30 years old, single, union
leader, American and that
30 April 1978 a
commemorative stone
was placed at his grave at
33rd and Cambie; Home
1, Range 2, Block 2, Plot
18, Lot 11.
Vancouver Trade and Labor
Council Minutes. See: 16
April 1903. And 18
February, and 18 August
1904 where members
refer to unpaid funeral
Coroner's Report, BC
Archives, B2379,46/03.
Report by WJ.
McGuigan, Coroner,
dated 16 April 1903 states
in part, "Body well
nourished. Apparently
aged thirty five.'
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SPRING 2003 My Skeena Childhood
by Eileen Sutherland
Eileen Sutherland was
born in Prince Rupert.
She is interested in the
author Jane Austen,
social history, and
archeaology. From 1988
to 199 I she was
president ofthe Jane
Austen Society of
North America
(JASNA)  and for I 8
years she was regional
co-ordinator of the
Vancouver group ofthe
She has not been back
to the Skeena for
twenty years or more,
but still thinks ofthe
North Coast as "home."
THE Royal BC Museum inVictoria has a
series of displays commemorating the important industries in BC—forestry, mining, and fishing.The fish cannery exhibit consists
of a small part of the processing line of a cannery
where the cans of salmon jiggle along on a conveyor belt to have lids put on, and then go into a
steamer box to be cooked and vacuum-sealed.
The walls of the exhibit are rough boards, with a
floor of planks. The designer could not replicate
the fishy smell, the slime on the floors, the cold
draft that swept the whole building, and the constantly dripping water everywhere in an operating cannery. However, for a visitor it is a good
indication of what an old cannery building had
looked like. One wall of the exhibit has a small
window, and the painted "view" from it is of a
river, a couple of islands, and wooded hills beyond: this was exactly the view over the Skeena
River from the windows of my childhood home
in Port Essington.
In the early 1860s, Robert Cunningham, a
former missionary and Hudson's Bay Company
trader, decided to start trading for himself. The
site he chose was a historic Native camp called
Spokeshute ("a fall camping place"), where the
Ecstall River flows into the Skeena near its mouth.
The upriver First Nations people came down
each year to meet and trade with the coastal tribes.
Cunningham founded a settlement, which he
named Port Essington. He granted a portion of
the land as a reserve for the First Nations people,
in the hope they would stay and trade with him.
The rest was divided into lots and sold to settlers.
He built a store, and eventually a hotel and town
hall, a cannery, a sawmill, and a sternwheeler
steamship to carry goods and passengers upriver.
A little town grew up with these structures at its
centre. In time, there were four churches, other
stores built by Japanese owners, and the cannery
stores. Four canneries operated at one time, but
only one of them lasted into my childhood.This
was the Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company (ABC), owned by the Bell-Irving family
who purchased the Skeena Commercial cannery
when its own British American (BA) cannery
burned down in 1926.
In its heyday, the turn of the century, Essington
was a lively, booming place, nicknamed the "Metropolis ofthe North." The town stretched out a
Right: At Port Essington
the Ecstall River (to the
right) flows into the
Skeena River.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 couple of miles along the shores of the rivers.
Since the land was mostly rock or muskeg, the
streets were boardwalks following the contours
of the land, built up on posts, sometimes ten to
twenty feet high, other times just above the
ground. The "streets" were given pretentious
names: Dufferin, Wellington, Lome, and so on.
There were several hotels by that time, a restaurant, a pool room, a small hospital, and a permanent population of several hundred people. In
the fishing season, this number more than doubled as fishermen and cannery crews arrived in
early spring.
It was in the winter, however, that most of the
social events took place, as the people made their
own entertainment. House parties, dances at the
town hall, community concerts, a Christmas party
for the children, and other amusements occupied almost everyone. At various times there were
four newspapers, but none lasted very long. The
town was not incorporated, but a mayor and
council were elected (with great ceremony but
no power); there was a parks commissioner, but
no parks.
The coming of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway just before the First World War was expected
to provide the final cap to Essington's good fortune. However, the ultimate decision sited the
railway on the opposite side of the Skeena, and
the town's prospects gradually diminished, as
Prince Rupert became the major city ofthe north
By the time of my childhood, there was a varied ethnic population in the town. About half
the "Indians" lived in permanent homes in the
reserve area; the rest stayed in houses on the hill
behind the cannery for the fishing season, and
returned upriver to their home villages, Kispiox,
Kitwanga, and Kitwancool, after Labour Day, for
the children to start school. The Chinese cannery workers were contracted labour, with a
"boss" who made all the decisions.They lived in
a big dormitory building behind the cannery, with
their own cook and mess hall.The Japanese were
mainly men with families who lived in several
different sections of town—around each store,
and in neat rows of houses at our end of town. In
a small settlement ten minutes or so walk along
the Ecstall River, a group of Finns had their homes
and a steam bath hut. There was one Swedish
and one Norwegian family, both with several
near-grown up children, and quite a few families
with British backgrounds.The "white" popula-
tion was divided between "town" and "cannery"
and lived at opposite ends ofthe main street.These
groups did business with each other but didn't
get together much otherwise. There were no
housing restrictions in the town, but the groups
kept distinctly to themselves, with no social mixing. I never heard of any fights, or racial slurs, or
derogatory names.The segregation seemed to be
voluntary and mutually acceptable.
A few years after their marriage in 1917, my
mother and father came to Essington, where Dad
had a job as bookkeeper at the ABC Packing Co.'s
BA Cannery.They remained for over twenty years,
at first year-round, when Dad had the job of caretaker during the winter months, and later, from
around 1928, spending the winter in Vancouver,
and the fishing season—about April to October—
in Essington. I never went to school in Essington.
My older brother Don was not doing well in the
local one-room school. He and his special friends
didn't pay much attention and the teacher lacked
strong discipline. Mom and Dad decided to move
to Vancouver for good schooling for all of us. We
spent most of the year in Vancouver and the summer in Essington—two entirely different ways
of life. The boat trip north, at the end of May—
Dad had gone earlier when the cannery operations started—was like coming home, and we
happily took up our Essington amusements again.
Our house was built on the top of a little hill—
a big, square, two-storey building made to seem
even larger by wide verandahs on front and side,
and attached sheds and out-buildings at the back
of one side. It looked down on the cannery property at the foot ofthe hill and beyond.The house
had been built in the 1880s or 1890s for one of
the cannery managers, and like the homes of all
important people in town it was above and iso-
Above: Donald, Charlie,
and Eileen Moore.
All photographs are
from the author's
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SPRING 2003 Right: Two "collectors"
towing fishing boats to the
fishing grounds.
Below: Panoramic view of
Port Essington looking
accross the Skeena. The
ABCP Co takes centre
lated from all the others as much as possible.
In our time the house was considered too big
and old-fashioned for the current manager, who
chose instead the largest and highest of three
houses built on a hill behind the cannery buildings. (The other two were occupied by the foreman, Stan Kendall and his family, whose daughter Fredda was my constant companion, and two
bachelors, senior cannery employees). Our hill
was covered with tall evergreens, cedars, firs,
spruce and hemlock, and densely overgrown with
salmonberry and blueberry bushes. A steep trail
led down behind the house to the rocky shore of
the Ecstall River, and one went down in another
direction to the Japanese houses below, and several floats for their boats. Fifty-two steps led up
to the front entrance of the house We went down
these stairs two at a time whenever we went out,
and came up as fast as we could, but I could man
age two at a time only part way up—and arrived
breathless at the top.
There was just enough flat land at the top of
the hill around the house for a small yard where
we played—a bar for swinging and chinning ourselves, a heavy rope hanging from a large spruce
tree, knotted at intervals for climbing and with a
big loop at the end for swinging. Down the bank
behind the house (we always spoke of "down the
bank" instead of "down the hill"), a long—30
feet or more—rope was fastened high up one of
the big trees near the water. There was a loop in
the end, and the boys could take the rope up the
hill to a place where they could put one foot in
the loop, hang on tightly, push off, and swing
away out over the rock and the river, gradually
"dying down" until they came to a stop at the
foot of the tree. It looked wonderful, but I was
too scared to try it.
ABCP Co. cannery building and wharf.
Path leading to the houses ofthe "Indians"     Kishimoto store
Boiler house
Cannery mess house
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Left: The company store at
the end of the wharf. On
the hill to the left is the
house in which the author
lived with her family.
On rainy days—and there were lots of them—
the wide verandahs made excellent places to play.
Mum had clothes lines strung on the side verandah, but we could ride kiddie-cars and tricycles
back and forth for hours, and play on swings hung
from the ceiling.
Three bedrooms were upstairs, all with a minimum of furniture.The walls were covered in old,
faded, and in some places water-stained papers,
and the floors were a dark oiled wood, with a
braided rag rug beside each bed. Both the upstairs and downstairs hallways had wood-burning stoves, but I don't remember them ever lit.
What I remember is the downstairs rooms kept
warm, and the halls and bedrooms cold. Dad had
cut a hole in the bathroom floor over the kitchen
stove and boxed it in with boards and wire screens,
which provided a constant source of warm air.
BA netloft at the left wih the dark roof.
BA store and office
Bunkhouse for workers
When the house had been built, it was the
fashion to have a fairly small parlour and a much
larger dining-room. In one corner of the living-
room was a cast-iron stove with an open front,
the metal equivalent of a fireplace. Shortly after
my parents moved to Essington, they were visited by Henry Bell-Irving, the head of the cannery firm. Somehow the conversation turned to
stoves or heating, and Mum happened to say how
much she liked a real fireplace. In a few weeks,
this open stove was sent up to her by Mr. Bell-
Irving. We all enjoyed it. Almost every evening
we sat around reading, watching the flames, and
soaking up the heat.The room was furnished with
a small square table in the centre—great for piling up books and newspapers (we were all avid
readers) or playing crib or other card games.The
table was also necessary because it sat under the
low hanging gas light and prevented anyone walking into the lamp. We had no electricity and this
gas light was our main light. We also had half a
dozen coal-oil lamps that we could carry from
room to room, and upstairs to the bedrooms.
Essential repairs were done to the house, but
not much in the way of decoration. It was an
ideal home for a family with children. We didn't
do any damage, but we didn't have to be too
careful—there wasn't much that could be broken or damaged. My earliest memories are of processions around the house—my older brother
Don on a large tricycle, my other brother Charlie
on a scooter, and myself on a small kiddy-car—
around the table in the middle ofthe living room,
into the dining room and around the table there
9 a couple of times, into the kitchen and to the
pantry at the back, in one door and out the other,
and then back to start again, with appropriate
loud noises. All the time Mum was busy trying
to get a meal, or clean up. As we grew older, we
changed to larger or more complicated vehicles,
but it was a delightful game that kept on for years.
Charlie was less than two years older than I, but
Don was six years older—he was soon off with
his own friends rather than playing at home with
Charlie and me.
The kitchen at the back of the house was long
and narrow, with a big black stove at the centre,
literally and emotionally. Fuelled by wood and
coal, and later by oil, the fire was kept going almost all the time, banked down at night.The fire
heated the oven at one side, the "warming oven"
at the top, and a tank of water beside the stove.
When we came in cold and shivering, we stood
with our backs against this warm tank or sat in
front of the oven with the door open.
We had good meals, although the foods available lacked variety. Almost all fruits and vegetables came from cans, except fresh root vegetables, and apples, oranges, and bananas. A couple
of times a week we had a piece of salmon from
the cannery, poached and served with an egg
sauce. Every Friday, a butcher from Rupert
brought meat to sell in Essington. We had no
refrigeration, but a "cooler"—a box nailed to the
north side of the house just outside one of the
kitchen windows—kept things fairly cool. Mum
baked bread, cookies, gingerbread, and other
sweets; there was always dessert, often sliced oranges and bananas, or apple cobbler. I could pick
enough blueberries from the bushes on our hill
in half an hour, whenever Mum asked for them
and blueberry pudding was always a favourite.
We drank evaporated milk mixed with water
and were quite accustomed to its taste, until we
moved to Vancouver and tasted fresh milk. That
turned us against canned milk a bit. We made
delicious cocoa with undiluted canned milk, and
had melted butter and brown sugar on our breakfast porridge instead of milk. For a year or two a
Japanese farmer kept cows a short distance down
the Skeena River. He brought milk into town to
sell, in pails hung from a yoke over his shoulders.
But the cows grazed in a meadow with skunk
cabbage, and the milk had a strange taste, so we
really preferred the canned.
Across the back end of the kitchen was the
pantry, a long narrow section with two doors usually standing open. At one end were the sink and
washtub; at the other was a wall of open shelves
for dishes, small staples, pots and pans, and all the
other necessities for cooking. In the middle was
a work table, and on the floor beside this were
several sacks of sugar, flour, oatmeal, etc. It was in
the pantry one day that a calamity occurred that
turned into a hilarious story passed on to our
children and grandchildren. Mum was busy with
preparations for the next meal. Charlie and I, in
our pre-teens, were hanging around, putting in
time. He began to boast how strong he was, how
he could lift...could lift...that sack of flour on
Right: The cannery end of
the main street. The
windows on the right are
from Kameda s store. To the
left is the post office and
the three buildings behind
are probably bunkhouses
for Japanese workers.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 the pantry floor. It was probably 25 pounds, and
I promptly said he couldn't do it. He marched
over, grabbed the sack firmly around the middle
and, giving a great heave, triumphantly put it over
his shoulder.
What we didn't know was that the flour sack
had been opened, and the top edge folded back
in place.There, before my eyes, Charlie suddenly
disappeared in a cloud of white. We were horrified. Mum took a deep breath, and very quietly
and firmly suggested we go and play somewhere
else. We scuttled outside, and got rid of most of
the flour dust. It was a long time before we could
see anything funny in what had happened, and I
don't think Mum ever did get any amusement
out of it. We knew it must have been a lot of
work for her to clean up, but it was years later
when I realized that not only was there a pile of
flour all over the floor, but on the open shelves
every dish and plate, every glass and bowl, every
small container and bag had to be washed clean
of dust—and without the help of a vacuum
cleaner. But now we think it's a funny story.
As we grew older, Charlie played with two
boys his own age, and I was with Fredda almost
every day. When the cannery was running, we
usually began the day with a tour around it to
see how things were going. I can still remember
my child's view of the cannery: very cold and
wet at one end, very hot and scary at the other.
We were surrounded by restrictions and cautions:
"don't get in anyone's way, watch where you are
going, look out, don't touch." Older and braver,
we realized how fascinating it was.
We started at the far end of the wharf, looking
down at a scow filled with fish.The fishing boats
stayed out on the fishing grounds for several days,
and "collectors"—bigger boats with lots of storage space—brought in their fish each day to the
cannery. Men with pike-poles (long poles with a
sharp, curved steel prong at the end) poked the
prong into the gills of each fish, and flipped it
onto a conveyor belt with mesh baskets. When
each basket got up to the wharf level, just before
it turned over to start down again, it would tip
the fish onto the wharf floor. Often there were
so many they formed a big slithering pile. But
usually another worker or two with pikes lifted
each fish again by the gills and tossed it onto a
bench or table where each fish was guided, head
first, into a noisy, powerful block of machinery
the "Smith Butchering Machine." When it was
introduced about 1905, it was so efficient that it
took the place of dozens of Chinese workers (who were given
other jobs in the cannery), and was always
referred to as the "Iron
Chink." The machine
cut off the head, tail
and dorsal fin of each
fish, slit up the belly
scraped out the entrails,
and partially cleaned
the cavity.
The fish next went
along another moving
belt between two rows
of "washers." These
were mostly Native
women, wives of fishermen, who stood in
front of tables and
sinks, with constantly
running cold water, and thoroughly scrubbed
each fish inside and out. The women wore rubber gloves, oil-cloth aprons, boots, and heavy
sweaters to keep warm, and had their hair gathered up into caps or scarves.The cleaned fish were
put back onto the moving belt, and went through
another machine, which cut them into sections
the same size as the height of the can. The next
stop was at the "fillers," another group of women,
mostly Japanese, again well wrapped up against
cold, and with long aprons to try to keep their
clothes clean. Since the fish were moving along
the "line" at a steady rate, both washers and fillers
had to work fast to keep up. In front of each filler
was a stack of empty cans, replenished when they
got low, several chunks of salmon, and a pile of
cut-up pieces. So quickly it looked impossible,
the filler picked up an empty can, jammed in a
section of salmon, filled any spaces with the small
pieces, and pushed it all down firmly. Then the
filled can was put on a tray beside her. When the
tray was full, a man punched her card and took
the tray to the next stage. Washers were paid by
the hour, but fillers were paid per tray of filled
cans and had to be quick and skilful to make a
good wage.
The male worker, a "lineman", took each tray
and shook one row of cans at a time onto another conveyor belt. Here the cans were weighed,
had a measured amount of salt added, and a cover
placed on top—all by machine. The cans then
Above: The company store.
11 jiggled along the belt into steam ovens—"retorts"
(which we stayed well away from)—where they
were carried in a long sinuous path that took
them several hours to finish cooking. As they were
finally spilled out at the far end, they went through
another machine that crimped and sealed their
lids on; then into a cold water bath, and finally
the cans were labelled and packed in boxes. The
labelling was another job that looked impossible—a wad of glossy labels was fanned a bit to
expose the ends, which were swabbed with a
brush of glue; a Chinese worker picked up a can
with one hand, a label with the other, and rolled
the can into the label, smoothed it down, and
put the can into the box, almost faster than I can
tell about it.
At the end of each day, the whole cannery
area, especially the front where the fish were
worked on, was hosed down and all the slime
and bits of fish were swept through cracks between the boards, or down a hole left for the
purpose, into the water below. Flocks of screaming gulls snapped up each bit, and on the beach
crows salvaged anything edible that had come
ashore. Twice a day tides came in and washed
away anything the birds missed. No matter how
many times we saw it all, it was fascinating to
watch, and we spent a lot of time just wandering
through the cannery.
"Boat Day," when the steamer arrived, was the
highlight of the week.The Union Steamships was
the company that serviced the coast, calling
weekly at logging camps, fish camps, private floats,
and canneries all the way from Vancouver to
Rupert, and on to Alaska. The boat we knew
best was the Cardena. It was a challenge for the
captains to get into the Skeena River and estuary. The one or two deep channels shifted as the
river changed course over the years. Captains often had to "feel" their way, listening to sand scraping against the hull; in fog they could judge their
position using the whistle and listening for the
echo: if they could hear the echo in three seconds, they were a quarter mile off shore. We children were severe critics of the landings: a good
captain could ease his boat (we never used the
term "ship"—all were boats) alongside the wharf;
others got close, had lines thrown ashore, and
pulled the vessel in. We were scornful of this, but
high winds, swift tidal currents, and fog could
make difficult conditions. Additional hazards were
fishing boats and nets drifting in the river.
The boat usually arrived sometime on Friday.
She would broadcast approximate times of arrival at the half a dozen canneries in the Skeena
area. The tides affected the order of docking. A
heavily loaded boat could manoeuvre into some
docks only at high tide, and had to get into the
estuary, go to several canneries in turn, and get
out again before the tide dropped too much. If
the boat arrived at night after we had gone to
bed, it was a bitter disappointment. Otherwise
we were on the watch for hours.The first indication would be the sight of the Cardena rounding
the point at the river bend. Then the Union
whistle sounded—one long blast, two shorts, and
another long—and she would come steaming in
and tie up. It seemed as if the whole town came
down to the wharf. Any man who was handy
took the lines and fastened them to cleats at the
edge of the wharf. It was interesting and exciting
to watch the freight loaded on pallet-boards hung
from the booms, winched out of the hold, and
swung ashore. Boxes and barrels and bales of all
kinds were sorted at once into piles—some for
the cannery store and the other stores, and odds
and ends for individuals.Then some freight would
be loaded on board. In no time, the whistle would
blow, the gangplank be hoisted on board, the lines
cast off, and the boat would slowly and majestically turn and sweep on her way. It was over for
another week.
One day Fredda s father borrowed a rowboat
and she and I went for a row. We sat side by side
on the middle seat, one oar each. We had both
rowed before and we soon got accustomed again
to the rhythm. All went well and we were enjoying ourselves, so we got ambitious and decided
to row out into the river and go in front of the
cannery wharf before turning to shore again.The
tide was falling and we misjudged the strength of
the flow. Rowing at our full strength we couldn't
make any headway for several minutes, and if we
relaxed for a moment we drifted quickly backwards.To make matters worse, we had acquired a
small but fascinated audience at the end of the
wharf, who shouted encouragement and laughed
at us. At that, pride came to our aid, and with the
utmost effort we got ahead, turned towards shore
and out of the force of the current, sheltered by
the wharf. Cheers from the group of spectators.
We could then relax and take our time making
our way to shore, to tie up the boat. It was quite
a little adventure—we had mixed feelings: we
were proud, but a little scared.
During my childhood, badminton was a popu-
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 lar adult game, played in the net loft of one of the
Japanese boathouses.Young men connected with
the cannery, nurses from the hospital, and others
enjoyed playing in the evenings several times a
week. Mum and Dad played quite often and we
went to watch, and to take a turn playing when
the grown-ups wanted a rest. In my early teens,
we discovered badminton lines painted on the
upper floor of the cannery, now no longer in
operation. Over them were skylights and the rafters in the centre had been raised. We were delighted to find this old forgotten court, and Dad
agreed to move the fishing nets stored there. Our
group of five or six friends now played almost
every day; the game was especially welcome as
something we could do rain or shine. The ceiling was low, and we had to develop fast low serves
and volleys, and a new rule: "If it hits the rafters,
take the shot over." Visitors had a hard time adjusting to the low ceiling, but we found we were
the ones at a disadvantage in a regular court—
the long high shots away over our heads were a
challenge we weren't used to.
Dominion Day, the first of July, was a big celebration.The "Indian band" played rousing tunes
as they marched from the centre of town along
the main street to the BA Cannery store. Here
they had a rest and were treated to soft drinks,
then played and marched back again. After that
there were all sorts of races and contests for all
ages, a baseball game against a visiting team, and
later a dance in the community hall. During the
night we occasionally heard a late reveller happily singing his way home.
Fishing was a favourite pastime for fine days.
Our equipment was simple: we had a line, wound
around a stick to keep it from tangling, with a
hook on a short piece of line tied to the end, and
a lead weight. Bait was usually a small piece of
salmon begged from the cannery. We fished from
the big rocks behind our house, or from the cannery wharf. We didn't always have luck in our
fishing, but caught something just often enough
to keep us interested. The common catch was
either bullheads (small ugly fish with a big head
and horns, no use to us and always thrown back
immediately), flounders (also thrown back until
we found we could sell them to the Chinese cook
for a nickel apiece), and Dolly Varden trout. We
didn't catch the trout often, but they brought great
excitement, and we took them triumphantly
home We learned early to clean and prepare them
ourselves, and then Mum coated them with
cornmeal and fried them in butter—they were
Rainy days did not deter us. Dressed in raincoats and rubber boots, we roamed around the
town, with five or six other teen-aged friends.
Many days, at one home or another, we played
card games for hours, with fierce competition
and great gales of laughter.There was always something to see or do.
In the early 1940s, the BA fish camp and store
were closed, my family moved away, and our connection with Essington came to an end. Disaster
came many years later. 1961 had been an exceptionally dry year. Bright June sunshine glinting
off a broken piece of mirror set fire to one of the
houses. Strong winds whipped up the flames and
drove sparks to kindle new fires all through the
town, fed by stores of gasoline and ammunition,
racing down the dry wooden sidewalks. Most of
the men were away fishing and the women were
busy with children and chores. By the time help
arrived, it was too late to save the town. In the
late evening it was all over—only a few isolated
houses remained.The town could never recover.
A few years ago my brother Charlie hired a
boat to go and see what remained. Buildings and
boardwalks were gone. The site of the town was
covered with bush and young hemlock trees,
perhaps thirty feet tall.The whole impression was
of lush growth, which had completely taken over.
There were still rotting piles in the long curved
bay that had once held four canneries, but no
sign of wharfs or buildings. Essington was gone,
but not our thoughts and memories of life
Above: After the fires.
What was left of Port
13 John Meares
BC's Most Successful Real Estate Agent?
by John Crosse
Marine Historian John
Crosse presented this
paper at the Northwest
Coast FurTrade
Symposium at Fort
Langley in August 2002.
Opposite page: John
Meares. Detail of an
engraving by C Bestland.
IN THE spring of 1790 the fur trader John
Meares landed from an East Indiaman at Portsmouth and hotfooted it to London. He had
an urgent mission to fulfil. Far on the other side
of the world a Spanish naval officer had seized
four of his ships. Notified in Macau of this outrage, he was determined to seek redress from the
British government. He had powerful friends.
Through Richard Cadman Etches he was soon
presenting his memorial to the British House of
Commons.The then prime minister,William Pitt
the younger, in need of a campaign platform,
called out the British fleet, and, in what became
known as the Spanish Armament, cowed the
Spanish government into submission.
Among the claims Meares made was that he
had been dispossessed of some land and buildings at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound, a
Mowachaht village now known as Yuquot. Meares
claimed not only that he had been deprived of
this property, but also of two other pieces of land,
one at Tofino and the other at Neah Bay, on the
south side ofthe entrance to the Strait ofjuan de
Fuca. He demanded restitution.
Thus was concocted the Nootka Convention,
signed in Madrid in October of that year. In this
Spain agreed to restore to Britain the buildings
and land so precipitously seized in 1789.
But what was this land, and what were the
buildings? Nobody really had time to check.
Captain George Vancouver was dispatched from
England to find out and take possession. And
Spain for its part sent its commandant at San Bias,
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, to make
All this took time and it was not until the summer of 1792 that events started to unfold. Bodega
y Quadra arrived early and had plenty of time to
settle in and make himself comfortable before
turning his inquiries to the land claim. By the
time Vancouver arrived he had uncovered sufficient information to present Vancouver with some
unpleasant evidence. To the best of his determination, Bodega y Quadra could find no record
of a land purchase, and what building had been
erected was quickly demolished. Chief Maquinna
emphatically denied ever having sold Meares any
land. Bodega had also the testimony ofVianna, a
Portuguese merchant and of two American fur
traders, John Ingraham and Robert Gray, who
had been present at the time.
Vancouver, only just arrived, had no counter,
and contented himself with affirming that he was
only here to accept from Spain whatever land
Meares had acquired. In vain Bodega y Quadra
argued that Maquinna had never sold anything
to Meares. After a lengthy exchange of letters the
two agreed to refer the matter back to their respective governments. Bodega y Quadra departed,
and Vancouver made ready to leave.
Just as he was about to do so, there arrived in
the bay a Portuguese trader, the FeliceAventureyra,
on board of which, as supercargo, was a certain
Robert Duffin, who had been with Meares in
1788 and also the mate on one of Meares's ships
seized in 1789. Duffin told Vancouver a very different story.
He averred that Meares had bought the whole
of the land that forms Friendly Cove for eight or
ten sheets of copper, and that the building erected
there was a substantial one, consisting of three
bedchambers, a mess room for the officers and
proper quarters for the men. The building was
raised some five feet above the ground, the un-
derpart serving as a warehouse and workshop.
There were also several outhouses and shops, and
the buildings had been in good repair when they
left. This building had been designed to house
the workforce required to build the Northwest
America, a small schooner that Meares intended
to use locally.
Duffin made a sworn statement to this effect,
but Vancouver apparently made no attempt to
notify Bodega y Quadra of this new, important,
and conflicting bit of information. Had he done
so the outcome of the Nootka Settlement might
well have been very different.
Both Vancouver and the British Government
pooh-poohed Bodega y Quadra's evidence, saying it came from unreliable Native, Portuguese,
and American sources, and seized on Duffin s evidence as being far more trustworthy. But were
they correct? Spain never had any opportunity
to dispute Duffin's claims. Bodega y Quadra was
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 never notified of Duffin's last minute additions, and therefore had no opportunity to verify his statement. Bodega y Quadra, far out of reach on the
other side of the world, was left ignorant of the new evidence being presented by the British ambassador in Madrid. Had he known, Bodega y
Quadra would have been able to counter Duffin's assertions, for Duffin
was not quite such a reliable witness as Vancouver had assumed.
Duffin, as I have said, had been First Mate of Colnett's Argonaut when
she first arrived off Friendly Cove in 1789. Martinez had lured the Argonaut
into port, but Colnett, smelling a rat, had given orders for Duffin to anchor.
But Duffin did not do so, with the result that both ship and crew were
arrested. Martinez claimed that under the Papal Bull of 1493 Spain had
exclusive right to all territories of the Pacific. Colnett, Duffin and the
Argonaut and her crew were taken as prisoners to Mexico and only released
after nearly a year. Colnett blamed Duffin for all his misfortunes and never
afterwards had any use for the man. He refused to take him aboard again
when he regained possession of his ship, and Duffin was left to find his own
way back to Macau via Acapulco and the Manila Galleon to the Philippines, fortuitously reappearing at Nootka at just the right moment, undoubtedly well primed by Meares beforehand.
Bodega y Quadra would certainly have known of Duffin's deficiencies,
as they were readily apparent in his relationship with Colnett while at San
Bias. Had he also known of Duffin's sworn deposition to Vancouver, he
most certainly would have forwarded his own appraisal of Duffin's character to his government in Madrid.
In point of fact, all Duffin's tale jibes ill with his boss's own description
of Friendly Cove, written in Meares's account of his voyages, published in
November of 1790, i.e. only weeks after the Nootka Agreement was signed.
Ample time indeed for any minister of state to read not only Meares's very
different account from his memorial, but also before Vancouver could report back with Duffin's wild tale more than two years later.
In his book Meares never says that he purchased any land from Maquinna,
let alone the whole cove. Only that he was granted a spot of ground on
which to build a house. This was in exchange for two pistols—somewhat
different from Duffin's 8 or 10 sheets of copper, and very different from
Duffin's "whole cove." Duffin said Maquinna wanted to move his people
away and leave Meares's shipwrights to build the little craft in peace. But
Meares specifically stated that he hired Indians to fell the timber and cut
the planks and that he paid them to do so. Maquinna must certainly have
agreed to this.
Meares's description of his building is also different from Duffin's. While
the ground floor is similar, his upper floor had only space for eating and
chambers for the craftsmen. A breastwork to protect the site, with a cannon
for defence, surrounded the whole.
Ingraham and Gray's evidence to Bodega y Quadra was that when Meares
departed at the end of the 1788 season, the cedar planks of the house were
loaded aboard one of Meares's ships and the roof given to the American
John Kendrick for firewood.
George Vancouver could not permit himself the indignity of accepting
just the tiny triangle of beach that was all that Bodega y Quadra would
offer him. But Spain was in no position to bargain. After a third round of
negotiations the British flag was finally hoisted over Nootka in 1795.Thus
we are here today. ^^
Howay, F.W (ed.), The Journal of Capt James Colnett
aboard the Argonaut, ] 789-91,The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1940. Facsimile edition, Greenwood Press, New York, 1968.
Ingram, Joseph, Joseph Ingraham's Journal ofthe Brigantine Hope..., 1790-92, Imprint Society, Barre,
Massachusetts, 1791. (For Robert Gray & Joseph
Ingraham's letter to Bodega y Quadra, 3 August
1792, see pages 217 -222).
Lamb.W Kaye (ed.), George Vancouver, A Voyage of
Discovery ..., 1791 - 1795, Hakluyt Society, London 1984. (Page 679 - Robert Duffin's sworn
testimony; on pp. 107-109 - Grenville, Dundas,
Stephens correspondence 1793).
Manning,WR.,The Nootka Sound Controversy
American Historical Association Annual Report 1904
(190S): 279-478.
Martinez, Estevan,"Diary of 1789 Voyage to
Nootka," translated by William L. Schurz, unpublished typescript, Bancroft Library (Two copies
exist of this document in BC Archives and UBC
Special Collections.
Meares,John, Voyages..., 1788-1789,Lographic Press,
London 1790, Israel/Da Capo reprint 1968.
Mears (sic), John, Authentic Copy ofthe Memorial to
WW Granville ...,]. Debrett, London 1790, Ye
Galleon Press reprint 1986.
Norris, John, "The Policy of the British Cabinet in
the Nootka Crisis," English Historical Review, LXX,
1955,pages 562-580.
Palau, Mercedes (ed.), Nutka 1792:Viaje a la Costa
Noroeste de la America Septentrional por Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra ... Aho de 1792,
Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de Espana, Madrid, 1998.
15 A Palace of Entertainment
Vancouver's Orpheum Turns 57
by Chuck Davis
Chuck Davis has been
writing on Greater
Vancouver historical
events for 30 years. He
is the author of more
than a dozen books.
1 By 1928 there were four
theatres left in the
United States presenting
live variety only
2 Oddly, Priteca ventured
into other design areas,
too: he designed a body
for the Locomobile car.
and crafted a raked grill
and windshield for the
Paige, forerunner of the
3 In fact, Priteca had been
in Vancouver before. The
now vanished second
Pantages Theatre on
Hastings Street was
Priteca's first venture
into Vancouver. That
1,800-seat theatre, which
opened 17 June 1917.
was later called the
Majestic, then the
Beacon, and finally the
Odeon Hastings.
Architectural writer
Miriam Sutermeister says
it "was considered at the
time to be the most
richly embellished and
efficient theater of the
Pantages chain." Its
demolition in 1967
outraged Vancouverites.
The architect of the
earlier 1907 Pantages.
also on Hastings Street,
which is still there and
being restored, was
Edward Evans
VAUDEVILLE was already dying when
Orpheum Circuit, based in New York
City, opened the New Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on 7 November 1927.The forty-
year-old circuit controlled more than fifty theatres across Canada and the United States, and hundreds, even thousands, of vaudeville performers.
But now movies had begun to share the bill with
the singersjugglers, magicians, acrobats, and comics that had made vaudeville so popular in both
countries for more than fifty years.The advent of
sound in film, which had been around for a few
months but first caught the public's imagination
in 1927—the same year the Orpheum opened
with Al Jolson's feature "The Jazz Singer" —,
pounded another nail into vaudeville's coffin.
Vancouver's New Orpheum, like thousands of
theatres around the world, began a transition to
"photoplays," and by the mid-thirties was virtually vaudeville-free.' The form hung on for a few
years more: on 8 November 1935 a stage show at
the Orpheum, a Major Bowes Radio Amateurs
production, featured a group called "The
Hoboken Four," one of whose members was a
19-year-old Frank Sinatra.
The Orpheum Circuit, like its counterpart the
Pantages Circuit, was known for the lavish style
of its theatres, but tickets into these palaces of
showbiz were cheap: some 1,800 ofthe theatre's
3,000 seats were available to adults for 50 cents
for evening admission, or you could reserve one
of the remaining 1,200 seats for 80 cents. And
for your 50 cents—or 25 cents in the afternoon—
you got a movie and eight or nine vaudeville
performances, some with very large casts. Children's tickets were cheaper still.
Wages in 1927 were low, it's true, but, to pick
one example, the "lathmill men" who were sought
in one advertisement for 40 cents an hour "and
better" that year could have attended an afternoon show in the new theatre for the equivalent
of 38 minutes' work.
The Orpheum was the biggest theatre in
Canada when it opened. It was also one of the
more opulent: paintings and hangings adorned
every wall; imported chandeliers dazzled the
crowds below. Ladies had their own lavish lounges,
with attendants, while men lolled about in smartly
outfitted smoking rooms.
Benjamin Marcus Priteca, the man who designed the theatre, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 December 1889. He took architectural training in Edinburgh—beginning as an
apprentice at age 14 and earning the degree of
"Master Architect" by age 20—and received a
travelling scholarship to study architectural forms
in the United States. He decided to stay there.
By July 1909 he had settled in Seattle, where he
immediately went to work as a draftsman with
architect E.W. Houghton. (Priteca's drawings are
superb.) Then, in 1911, the 21-year-old Priteca
met Alexander Pantages, a Seattle resident and
theatre owner. The young architect was delivering some illustrations he had made to a local architectural firm and met Pantages there. Pantages
was fuming over a theatre design he considered
to be inadequate, and that led to a discussion of
theatre design with Priteca.
Pantages was impressed by the superior quality of Priteca's drawings, and the stocky little
entrepreneur commissioned the young architect
to design his next theatre, the San Francisco
Pantages.The site presented challenges, but Priteca
overcame them, and the theatre opened in December 1911. Pantages was so pleased with the
results he commissioned Priteca—now all of 22—
to design all his theatres from that time on.2 But
Pantages wasn't the only source for Priteca's theatre work. During his career he worked for four
different theatre chain clients, and designed more
than 150—some say 200—theatres, including
Vancouver's Orpheum. When Priteca designed
the Orpheum he had been engaged in similar
work for more than fifteen years.3
Priteca referred to the elaborate style ofVancouver's Orpheum and other theatres as "conservative Spanish Renaissance." But he borrowed
from a dozen different places: the ornate ceiling
of the Orpheum lobby, for example, is apparently based on one he saw and admired in India.
The organ screens are Moorish North African;
the ceiling arches in the auditorium are Gothic;
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 the ceiling itself and its dome and the chandeliers are Baroque, and the wall coverings imitate
those of nineteenth-century France.
The man who designed his theatres to both
dazzle and welcome was not lavish with his clients' money. "When Mr. Pantages asked me to
design him a theater," Priteca once said, "he told
me that any darn fool could design a million-
dollar theater for a million dollars, but that it took
a smart man to design a theater that looks like a
million dollar theater and cost half that much."
We know, thanks to the 5 December 1926 issue of the Journal of Commerce, that Priteca was in
Vancouver on 3 December, with his associate
architect F.J. Peters and an Orpheum vice president, to look at bids made by local construction
firms.The winning bid was put forth by Northern Construction Co. Ltd. and J.W. Stewart, the
oldest construction firm in the city. We have also
learned that because the bids were so much higher
than had been anticipated for that aspect of the
work that Priteca and his associates decided to
scale back some of the more elaborate features
he had planned.
The 1927 cost ofthe Orpheum is difficult to
pin down. I've seen figures ranging from $500,000
to $ 1.25 million.The man who put up the money
was a German-born Vancouver entrepreneur
named Joseph Langer. Information on Langer is
also difficult to find. There's nothing on him in
the City ofVancouver Archives, nothing in the
Special Collections Division of the Vancouver
Public Library, precious little elsewhere We know
he came to Vancouver in the 1920s and built several suburban theatres—the Victoria Road Theatre, the Kitsilano, the Windsor, the Alma, and the
Kerrisdale, then sold them to raise the money to
build the Orpheum. The Orpheum Circuit, in
its usual practice, leased the theatre from its owner.
Most of what we know about Langer comes from
a solid little booklet on the Orpheum's history
written by Doug McCallum (not the mayor of
Surrey) and published in 1986. Langer was, apparently, rather flamboyant and liked being taken
around the city in a maroon limousine driven by
a chauffeur in maroon livery.
The magic of what Priteca created for theatre-goers in the Orpheum was captured poignantly in a Denny Boyd tribute to long-time
Orpheum manager Ivan Ackery4 In that column
Boyd paid simultaneous tribute to the building
over which Ackery had presided for so many years.
Boyd begins, with a comparison that would have
mightily pleased the architect, by remembering
Chuck Davis's book The
Orpheum:A Palace of
Entertainment will be a
picture-rich history of
the theatre, along with
many stories connected with its 75
years of actvity
The book will appear
aterthis year
* Published in the Sun, 31
October 1985, the day
after Ackery died.
17 his first view of India's Taj Mahal and writes:
I think the only other time I felt such a hammer blow of awe, was when I was seven and I
approached the box office of the Orpheum
Theatre for the first time with a King George
V dime in my sweaty little fist. If you grew up
in Vancouver through the mean, bleak '30s,
movies were the common escape and a dime
was the key. If you lived in a 2 iXroom flat,
your family on relief, that dime took you up
the lushly carpeted stairway of the massive
Orpheum foyer into the world of imagination
where animals spoke,Tarzan roared, children
squealed with laughter and bad guys always
got it before the closing credits....The rose-red
carpeting led to the dramatic split stairway to
the upper foyer, light cascading down from the
chandeliers and the wall sconces.There were
balustrades and ornate arches, pillars and colonnades, coffered and domed ceilings....
During the Great Depression, with sound
movies and radio adding to its grief, the movie
industry had to redouble its efforts to fill its huge
theatres. The Orpheum, like many theatres in
North America, was kept open by cutting staff,
reducing ticket prices and bringing in double
features. It even closed its doors for a time in
Then in 1935 the Orpheum got a new manager who gave it new life. His name was Ivan
Ackery. He was born "Ivor," but said so many
people called him "Ivan" that he decided to go
along with them. Movie theatre managers in the
1930s were more than just administrators. They
frequently chose the films they would show, they
were expected to promote them—and, boy, did
Ackery promote them—, and they devised special attractions to make their theatres stand out
and bring customers in. Ackery was so good at
all of this, and he was good for so long (35 years),
that it's fair to say he is the single most influential
person in the Orpheum's history.
Bristol-born Ackery had his first taste of show
business 7 May 1921 as an usher in Calgary's
brand-new Capitol Theatre. The Capitol was on
the Pantages Circuit, and was, like the others, an
elaborately decorated and opulent show house.
"The manager," Ackery recalled in his autobiography Fifty Years on Theatre Row, "wore a tuxedo
and the assistant manager a frock-tail coat; the
cloakroom attendant wore a white uniform as
did the matron of the ladies' rest room. Everything was spotless."
The young Ivor was already beginning to be
influenced by the elements that would mark his later career: spectacular
events, lavish surroundings, elegantly attired staff, and personal attention.
He had found his niche.
By 1923 he was the head usher at the Capitol Theatre in Vancouver. Five
years later Famous Players bought several theatres in Vancouver and Ackery
was made manager of one of them. "All the big shots' sons were promoted
to the management of these new theatres we owned," he wrote in his
autobiography, "and I was the only 'little' fellow promoted from the ranks.
I had been made doorman at the Capitol earlier in the year, but now was to
manage the newly-acquired Victoria Road Theatre at Victoria and 43rd at
a salary of something in the neighborhood of $25 a week." In 1930 he was
promoted to be the manager of a more prestigious theatre, the Dominion
on Granville Street.
From the very beginning of his career as a theatre manager, Ackery
showed a flair—no, a genius—for promotion. When his theatre was broken
into and robbed one night, he dragged the little safe that had held the
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 receipts onto the sidewalk, its door sagging open,
and propped a sign against it plugging the theatre's current movie, a crime picture.
By 1924 he was manager ofthe Strand, one of
the city's showcases. "It was a grand theatre, the
third largest in the city, and I was extremely
proud." The first thing he did as manager of the
Strand was to get Scott's Cafe to bake a huge
cake, a gigantic confection that stood as tall as a
man, to celebrate the theatre's fourteenth birthday. Every patron was given a slice of cake during "Birthday Week." The famed Fanchon and
Marco shows, huge and elaborate productions
famous in their time, were brought in and Lily
Laverock booked the Ballet Russe de Monte
Carlo into the theatre.
Ivan was edging into the Big Time. And in
1935 he stepped into it. In the summer of that
year he was informed he was to become manager ofthe Orpheum Theatre." It was such a thrill
for me, and I can remember how excited my
mother got." His mom's excitement was justified: the Orpheum was the largest theatre in
Canada, and her son was now running it. "I recall
how tickled I was because I'd be getting a $10 a
week raise!"
Famous Players was getting a lot for that extra
ten bucks a week. "At the Strand," Ivan recalled,
"I'd had to fill 1,600 seats and deal with a staff of
about 25. At the Orpheum I was looking at almost twice that number of seats and much more
staff, and I had two important obstacles to overcome—the Depression and the Competition."
For the next 35 years Ivan Ackery was to prove
that nothing could dampen his promotional fervour and his love of the Orpheum Theatre. He
was the first Canadian to win the Quigley Award,
given annually to the North American theatre
manager who did the most for his theatre's promotion. In one famous instance (of dozens) he
paraded a cow down Granville Street with a big
sign on its flanks, marked with an arrow pointing
to the cow's udder. "There's a great show at the
Orpheum Theatre," the sign read, "andThat's No
In 1969 Famous Players, now controlled by
Gulf & Western Industries, a United States corporation, introduced a policy of compulsory retirement at 65. Ivan had turned 65 five years earlier, on 30 October 1964.
Overnight, he was out. After 48 years in the
business, and an unparalleled record in getting
crowds into theatres, he was gone. "For me," he
reflected eleven years later, "it came as a sorry
and sudden end to the career I'd devoted my life
to and expected to carry on in until old age and
ill health rendered me incapable....There's no justice and little sense in putting a healthy, experienced individual to pasture just because he's had
a birthday... Still, the company had been wonderfully good to me, and I was always proud to
be associated with it and with the fine men I
worked with over the years, who gave me so much
encouragement." His last day was 28 December
1969, two months past his 70th birthday. He died
at St. Paul's Hospital 30 October 1989, the day
before his 90th birthday.
He was still around, however, to take part in
the mid-1970s campaign to save the Orpheum.5
Famous Players had announced that it intended
to either sell the Orpheum or gut it and install a
multiplex cinema as they had done earlier with
the Capitol. By December 1973 Famous Players
had granted the City an option to buy the
Orpheum for $3.9 million. In return, the City
would give the company permission to redevelop
(i.e., convert to a multiplex) the Capitol.The estimated cost of renovation of the Orpheum after
purchase was $2 million.
A number of people, including Rhonna
Fleming of the Community Arts Council, impresario Hugh Pickett (who had, at 14, been at
the very first show held at the Orpheum 7 November 1927), and Vancouver's mayor Art Phillips
were involved in the campaign to raise funds to
buy the theatre as a home for theVancouver Symphony Orchestra.
The VSO, which had often appeared at the
Orpheum, was ensconced in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, but had never been happy with the
acoustics there."The worst seat in the Orpheum,"
said one musician, "is better than the best seat in
the QET [Queen Elizabeth Theatre], acoustically
Tours of the theatre were organized, lotteries
were held, and benefit performances featured
notables such as Jack Benny and Buddy Rogers.
Most events were well attended, and $432,000
was raised. The campaign was successful, with
funds from the federal and provincial governments, the City ofVancouver, and private and
corporate donors combining to buy the theatre
from Famous Players.
The Orpheum remained closed for a year-and-
a-half while Thompson, Berwick, Pratt directed
the renovations. Architects Ron Nelson and Paul
Priteca died at 81 in
Seattle 1 October 1971,
too soon to see that one
of his greatest creations.
Vancouver's Orpheum
Theatre, would—unlike
many other of his
creations—survive and
19 0 It had been discovered
that in some areas of the
theatre, particularly
under the balcony
certain instruments
couldn't be heard.
Someone sitting here
might not hear the piano,
while someone over
there couldn't hear the
'That mural was painted,
panel by panel, by Tony
Heinsbergen in his Los
Angeles studio. Then the
panels were shipped to
Vancouver and pasted
onto the ceiling. The
orchestra conductor
shown in the mural is
architect Ron Nelson;
the little cherubs in
another corner are Paul
Merrick's children (now
all in their 30s); and the
tiger in the mural is an
affectionate nod to
Heinsbergen s wife,
whom he called his
''little tiger. "The
Orpheum's largest
chandelier, suspended
from the auditorium
dome, is a dazzling
masterwork imported
from Czechoslovakia for
the theatre's opening. A
local hotel recently
offered $65,000 for it,
but was turned down.
s The orchestra appears to
have missed the
opportunity April 2002
to mark its 25th
anniversary at the
4   I
Merrick were in charge ofthe rehabilitation. Recommendations were made to extend the stage
over the orchestra pit (which resulted in the removal nearest the stage of more than 100 seats),
remove the proscenium arch and install a permanent orchestra shell. Backstage, the stage loft (from
which backdrops could be lowered for shows)
was to be abandoned in favour of two additional
floors for rehearsal areas, dressing rooms, a lounge
and a library. "It was assumed," said a study at the
time, "that shows requiring a large stage, a stage
loft or an orchestra pit could be accommodated
at the QET"
After half a century, the Grand Old Lady of
Granville Street needed a lot of repairs. There
was broken plaster to recast, gold leaf to be renewed, carpet to be replaced, lobbies and other
public spaces to be repainted. The absorbent
acoustic material that had been installed for movies was taken out, unsuitable for a concert hall.
New acoustic panels were installed over the stage
to better reflect the sound of the orchestra.6 One
of the most delightful stories associated with the
redecoration of the theatre concerns an artist
named Tony Heinsbergen, who was an associate
of the original architect, Marcus Priteca. Paul
Merrick had gone to Seattle to get more information on the late Mr. Priteca, and discovered to
his delight that Tony Heinsbergen, now in his
eighties, was still active as an artist in Los Angeles. Merrick went to Los Angeles and asked
Heinsbergen to get involved in the Orpheum's
rehabilitation. He did. The next time you're in
this beautifully appointed palace of entertainment
look up to the huge mural surrounding the central chandelier. That's Tony Heinsbergen's work.7
The first performance of theVSO in the newly
shaped Orpheum was Saturday, 2 April 1977.8
But the orchestra is not the only user ofthe renovated theatre. It's busy more than 200 nights a
year with special events, comics, speakers, and
more. The Vancouver Bach Choir, theVancouver
Chamber Choir, and theVancouver Cantata Singers all make their home there. And, in one of the
more interesting of its features, the theatre is also
the site of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Photos of more than a hundred artists, impresarios, management and the like are on display in
the StarWall, counterparts of the stars in the
sidewalks out on Granville Street, the famous
Free tours of this gorgeous building are given
regularly. After 57 years the Orpheum is still busy
still beautiful and—most important—still
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 We Can't Dispose of Our Own Crop ....
Challenges to BC Tree Fruits and the Single-Desk Marketing System
by Christopher Garrish
TO read the records of the Royal Commission on the British Columbia Tree-
Fruit Industry one must wade through
twenty-two boxes and literally hundreds of files
at the British Columbia Archives in Victoria.The
subject matter ranges from the mundane to the
very useful, yet, it is the files that deal specifically with the upstart Canadian Fruit Growers'
Association (CFGA), and its un-elected leader,
Alfred Beich, that are the most interesting. It is
here that one is presented with some very candid views from a significant cross-section of
growers in which personalities come to play as
great a role as competing philosophies concerning co-operative marketing. It is the transcripts
of these meetings, at one time confidential, that
form the basis of this article and shed light on a
period of great soul searching within the
Okanagan fruit industry.
For Okanagan fruit growers, the first three
decades ofthe twentieth century had been characterized by economic turmoil, crises of production, and the paramountcy ofthe individual
over the collective health of the industry. The
dynamics of this situation inevitably proved to
be both socially and financially harmful, as well
as unsustainable over the long run With the waning effectiveness of yet another marketing
agency—Associated Growers1—in 1925-1926,
growers found themselves forced to seek market stability in the form of provincial legislation. It was believed that only legislation could
ensure fairer treatment as a "single desk" and
"orderly marketing" would check unnecessary
and cutthroat competition amongst local growers, while directing the flow of produce to markets in quantities that would avoid unnecessary
gluts.2 Only in 1939, after a decade of court
challenges, was BC Tree Fruits (BCTF) designated as the sole selling agent for the Okanagan
fruit industry. Although BCTree Fruits' authority was derived from the Tree Fruit Marketing
Scheme, an agreement negotiated under the
Natural Products Marketing Act, the reality was
that BCTree Fruits was administered as a branch
of the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Asso
ciation (BCFGA). It was, after all, BCFGA members who determined the policy of and elected
the executive for the BCTF at their annual convention.3
It must be kept in mind, however, that the
single desk was never an attempt to abolish the
law of supply and demand, to institute a monopoly, or to establish artificial price levels. At
all times in their history the growers had to
contend with supplies from other producing
regions on the continent, and to do so with only
a minimum of tariff protection. Compounding
matters was the flawed settlement philosophy
of the Valley, wherein many growers had been
left on land of only marginal capacity. The single desk offered the possibility to growers of
uniting their economic power within institutional and corporate structures that would provide stability for the orchard unit, and give them,
as a whole, most of the benefits of the modern
agricultural corporation.4
By the early 1950s, the fruit industry had again
found itself operating within very turbulent conditions; wartime price restrictions had been removed in 1949, exposing growers to intense
competition, while freezes in 1949-1950 and
1955 had caused significant damage to the trees,
lowering grower returns by as much as fifty percent in some cases. The economic uncertainty
engendered by these events lead to the emergence of two distinct counter-movements
within the industry; a reformist" Ginger Group"
centered within the BCFGA's Penticton local,
and the rebel Canadian Fruit Growers Association (CFGA), a loose coalescence of dissidents
generally operating along the geographic margins of the industry. Ironically, it would be the
efforts of the Ginger Group to unseat the incumbent BCFGA leadership, by calling for an
industry-wide investigation that would present
dissidents with their greatest opportunity to free
themselves of compulsory single desk selling.The
eventual appointment of Earle Douglas
MacPhee, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce at
UBC, to head a provincial Royal Commission
in December of 1956 gave dissidents a legiti-
Christopher Garrish
recently completed his
MA in history at the
University of Saskatchewan. His thesis explored the impact of
changing land use
patterns upon the cooperative marketing
structures ofthe
Okanagan fruit industry
Associated Growers was
founded out ofVernon in
1923 following the visit
of Aaron Sapiro, a
Californian and the great
evangelist of cooperation, to the
Okanagan on a tour
designed to bring a
broader awareness to
growers on their ability to
influence their terms of
trade through cooperative organization.
'■ A single desk-marketing
system is one in which
producers are compelled,
generally through
legislation, to sell their
product through a single
agency (in this case BC
Tree Fruits).The agency
acts as sole selling
representative for these
producers when
negotiating the delivery
of the product to the
market. The purpose of a
single desk is to increase
returns to farmers by
removing middlemen,
and eliminating
destructive local
competition. Orderly
marketing represents the
regulated movement of a
commodity to market in
a way that will avoid gluts
or scarcities. This is
especially important for a
crop as highly perishable
21 Right: Executive of the
BCFGA and other
delegates at the 1953
convention in Vernon.
as fruit, as growers
demonstrated on a
number of occasions
between 1908 and 1939
the consequences of
rushing a crop to market;
prices crashed, and overall
returns were diminished.
3 Profound changes
reshaped the face of the
Okanagan fruit industry
in the early 1970s when
the provincial
government removed the
compulsory aspect of the
single desk. Since 1974.
the BC Fruit Marketing
Board, which used to
routinely designate BC
Tree Fruits as the sole
selling agent, has become
dormant, while
ownership of BCTree
Fruits has been assumed
by the four large cooperative packing houses
that now dominate the
industry. The BCFGA has
been reduced to the role
of an advocacy group.
4 Ian MacPherson.
'' Creating Stability Amid
Degrees of Marginality:
Divisions in the Struggle
for Orderly Marketing in
British Columbia 1900-
1940", Canadian Papers in
Rural History,Volume
(VII), Gananoque.
Langdale Press, 1990.
5 Arthur Garrish to E.D
MacPhee, Proceedings of
the Royal Commission
Investigating the Tee-Fruit
Industry ofBritish
Columbia, 13 March 1958,
Box 5, File #15. British
Columbia Archives.
0 Oliver Chronicle 27
February 1958.
7 joan Lang, "A History of
the Fruit Growing
Industry in the West
Kootenay District of
British Columbia 1905-
1950," Unpublished M.A.
Thesis, University of
Victoria, 1996.
mate venue in which to pursue their agenda
before other growers.
Shortly after the 1958 BCFGA Convention,
the Oliver local met to present its report of the
proceedings to the membership—a meeting that
was subsequently related to the Royal Commission in a private hearing. A relatively routine gathering, it was to be punctuated by what
the local's President called a rather "amusing incident."5 A letter, written by Alfred Beich, a local grower with a long history of agitation and
involvement in the Oliver area, was read aloud
wherein he indicated that he was resigning from
the local and that the BCFGA would no longer
be representing him.This was, of course, essentially impossible under the structure of the industry and the nature of the three-party contract, but Beich was making a principled stand.
The response, according to Gordie Wight, an
Oliver grower in attendance that night, was a
loud cheer from the crowd upon word of the
resignation. Beich's maverick status within the
BCFGA and involvement with the Farmers
Union, a radical farm group that had tried to
organize growers in the Valley on the basis of
language following a large influx of German immigrants after 1945, had not won him many
followers amongst those who supported the current marketing system.
Recent events within the industry, however,
had been bolstering the resolve of dissidents like
Beich, who were determined to test the strength
of the BCFGA. A delay in the proceedings of
the Royal Commission the previous year had
been interpreted by the dissidents as a sign that
there was truly something amiss with the marketing system, and that an opportunity to have
the shackles of compulsory co-operation removed had arrived. These dissidents began a
preliminary campaign of spreading falsehoods
and rumours to aggravate discontent amongst
growers. It was related to the Royal Commission during the course of another private hearing that the appointment of the Commissioner's assistant to the post of Provincial
Horticulturalist, the appointment of the Manager of BCTree Fruits to a separate Royal Commission on Education, combined with the resignation of an Executive in the BCFGA, had all
been interpreted as signs of a sinking ship. All of
which was pure conjecture on the dissidents'
part, as they conducted a sort of phony war
against the BCFGA, relying on circumstance and
grower discontent to mobilize support for their
The first direct challenge to the BCFGA came
with word that the previously unheard of Canadian Fruit Growers Association had formed a
local in Salmon Arm. The fact that the CFGA
first emerged in the north was not surprising.
That end of the Valley had been hit hard by the
1955 freeze, and, as Gordon DesBrisay a Gov-
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 ernor on the Fruit Board, testified in a private
hearing, the Salmon Arm local had no tonnage,
their packing costs were as high as $1.95 when
a box of apples was selling for around $2.00 and,
simply put, their position was impossible and
they were lashing out. News of this first CFGA
local received only sporadic coverage throughout the Valley. The Oliver Chronicle, whose readers were the most familiar with Beich, ran an
article that week critiquing the motivations for
the creation of the Association.6 The reception
that the CFGA received to the east in the
Kootenays was alltogether different. Growers in
the Creston area had endured a particularly
rough period since the single desk had been introduced in 1939. Okanagan growers dominated
the marketing system, and the pooling returns
were based on their lower costs of production—
Kootenay growers simply could not economically exist under this regime.7 By 1958 these
growers had become a fertile group for dissent
and outright rebellion on the single desk. The
vast majority of members that Beich would
claim to have would be found around the
Creston area, as growers' failure to attain a division of marketing upon geographic lines was
leading them to embrace the CFGA, even if this
move entailed a policy split with Okanagan
In dealing with the Salmon Arm local the
industry leadership in Kelowna called in the
three to four members that comprised the group
to discuss their position. In relating this meeting to MacPhee, BCFGA President Arthur
Garrish—my grandfather—conceded that he
could sympathize with Salmon Arm's position.
Many had bought their orchards "after the War
when things were rosy," but following the fallout from the 1949-1950 freeze they found it
heavy going and this was an inevitable reaction.9
Despite the deceptively reformist approach of
Beich's platform with the CFGA—control from
the grassroots, elections on a regional basis by
mail ballot, and open accounts of tree fruit industry officials—it was made clear to the rogue
local that central selling could not operate in
the way being proposed. In short order, the
Salmon Arm group announced that they had
not realized what they were getting themselves
into with the CFGA, and opted to fold after
only two weeks in existence. Beich, in typical
fashion, responded through the media that BC
Tree Fruits had worked out some secret deal
with the group, nevertheless his CFGA appeared
to be on the verge of collapse.The only person
that still seemed to be taking note was MacPhee
who felt duty bound to meet with the CFGA
in light of its claims to represent three hundred
Of great concern to MacPhee was the possibility that his investigation might lend undue
credibility to the CFGA. He was unsure whether
they were "a little dissident group who are always going to arise in any situation and to whom
one does not give an opportunity for public appearance." 10 If indeed they were a group representing a significant percentage of the grower
population they were entitled to a public hearing. In attempting to resolve this, MacPhee met
privately with the Executive ofthe BCFGA and
leaders of the Ginger Group. Both the President of the BCFGA, Arthur Garrish, and the
President of BCTree Fruits, Gordie Wight, were
Oliver growers who had a long history of confrontation with Beich at the local level. And both
men were completely dismissive of Beich and
his abilities to organize a credible challenge to
the BCFGA. When asked if he thought any responsible growers were joining the CFGA,
Wight responded: "I think most of them rather
laugh about it when you ask them what they
are going to do Of course in our area—most
people know Beich so that to some extent eliminates his factor."11
Both men maintained the opinion that with
the collapse ofthe Salmon Arm local the CFGA
had been effectively broken. Wight further questioned Beich's claims to have the support of 75
s Oliver Chronicle, 27
February 1958. Editorial
Wally Smith. Arthur
Garrish was my
3 Garrish to MacPhee, 13
March 1958.
10 E.D MacPhee to
Gordon DesBrisay
Proceedings of the Royal
Commission Investigating
the Tree-Fruit Industry of
British Columbia, 13
March 1958, Box 5, File
#17. British Columbia
MacPhee, Proceedings of
the Royal Commission
Investigating the Tee-Fruit
Industry ofBritish
Columbia, 13 March 1958.
Box 5, File #16. British
Columbia Archives.
Below: The reformist
"Ginger Group " centered
within the BCFGA s
Penticton Local. Photograph from an undated
(1959?) cutting from the
Penticton Herald.
23 12 Garrish to MacPhee,
March 13, 1958.
13 DesBrisay to MacPhee,
March 13, 1958.
14 Ibid.
15 Herb Corbishley to E.D
MacPhee. Proceedings of
the Royal Commission
Investigating the Tee-Fruit
Industry ofBritish
Columbia, 27 February
1958. Box 5, File #13.
British Columbia
16 Ibid.
17 Canadian Fruit Growers
Association to E.D.
MacPhee, Proceedings of
the Royal Commission
Investigating the Tee-Fruit
Industry ofBritish
Columbia, June, 1958. Box
#6, File #6. British
Columbia Archives.
18 British Columbia.
Department of
Agriculture. Report ofthe
Royal Commission on the
Tee-Fruit Industry of
British Columbia. E.D.
(Commissioner) .Victoria:
Queen's Printer, 1958.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
growers in the Oliver-Osoyoos area, believing
the number to be closer to two.To the question
of whether the Royal Commission should worry
about making the CFGA a more credible organization through a public hearing than it
might otherwise be, Garrish responded by relating Beich's current agitation with the CFGA
to his activity in the Farmers Union. "I said to
them then that Beich could kill the Farmers
Union far more effectively than I ever could,
and I proposed to leave it to him to do it. As far
as I'm concerned, he's the kiss of death for any
Gordon DesBrisay was from the Penticton
area and admitted that he was not as familiar
with Beich as Garrish and Wight, but knew of
him through reports to the Board that he had
been bootlegging fruit to the Coast. Although
DesBrisay admitted that he didn't "understand
the man's type of mentality"13 he disagreed with
both Wight's and Garrish's assessment of the
CFGA. While he did not feel a public hearing
was warranted, he did recommend to MacPhee
that Beich be questioned in a private meeting
as to exactly what it was he was doing. DesBrisay
further added that Beich was "...a man who
wants to be elected to office and he can't make
his neighbours elect him so he is seeking another method of trying to get a position of
power within the industry."u
DesBrisay was of the opinion that if Beich
felt that the Commission was listening to his
views, it was possible that a lot of wind would
be taken out ofthe CFGA's sails.
The Penticton Ginger Group were the only
ones who felt that the CFGA constituted a real
threat to the industry—which was due in large
part to the overlapping constituencies that both
groups appealed to. Herb Corbishley, the de facto
leader of the Penticton group, was especially
concerned over Beich's manipulation ofthe language division amongst growers. He felt that
the CFGA was attempting to pick up where
the Farmers Union had left off by claiming there
was a clique of growers organizing and in office, while the "foreign element" was being
marginalized.15 It had of course been the Ginger Group's main argument that the Executive
had become complacent and was not doing
enough for growers. Corbishley testified:
This may not be in line with a lot of growers'
thinkings, but there are a lot that have lost
confidence in Mr. Garrish, mainly because of
his overbearing attitude and open opposition
to the growers' requests He's a very capable
Chairman, but where we differ is that he's not
down to the farmer's level. He used to be but
now he's above it. He's getting arrogant.16
He also pointed out that it might be internal
industry problems that were allowing the CFGA
to potentially appeal to so many growers. The
United Co-op packing house in Penticton had
misread their crop and paid out too much to
their growers. In separate meetings with the
Commissioner, both Corbishley and Garrish
agreed that United's troubles stemmed from
managerial problems.To compensate, United announced that it was going to be a poor crop
year in the hopes of getting their growers conditioned to either no returns, or even potential
red ink. Since this forecast had come out so early
in the season, it became the yardstick against
which all other growers in the Valley began to
determine what their returns for the year might
be. The discontent this spawned was precisely
what the Ginger Group feared Beich and his
followers might tap into.
Based on this advice MacPhee ultimately decided to hold a private meeting with the CFGA
in June to find out what they were advocating
and telling growers. When he finally met with
the dissidents it would prove to be the only
meeting between the two sides. Under questioning it was revealed that not only was the
CFGA an unincorporated association, whose
very name was in doubt, but it was revealed that
they were operating without a constitution or
by-laws.The CFGA was turning out to be nothing more than a shell that Beich and other dissidents were using to push their own political
agenda. In all likelihood, had these individuals
achieved their objectives it was quite possible
that the CFGA would cease to exist even in
name! MacPhee, therefore, attempted to establish where exactly the CFGA stood. Beich's response was that he envisioned it operating as an
alternative to the BCFGA within existing industry structures.To the dissidents it was no different than a two-party political system whereby
the two associations would compete for control
of the Fruit Board and BC Tree Fruits.
The merits of this proposal where at best dubious, as single desk selling could never survive
the different policy objectives of two separate
and opposing associations. Once orderly marketing was dismantled to accommodate the
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 CFGA's desire to "sell to anyone that would
buy"17 it could not be easily re-instituted again.
There would be no turning back if the CFGA
ever achieved any form of power within the
industry, so MacPhee tried to determine where
the CFGA stood on the issue of central selling.
Only one of the half dozen growers representing the CFGA that day, claimed outright not to
support the concept, as even Beich claimed that
he supported it in theory. In light of this seeming contradiction, MacPhee asked if any of them
had ever done any marketing of their own. Apart
from admissions of illegal bootlegging to the
Coast, not a single person testified that they had
ever done any commercial marketing, and not
one of them had been growing in the Valley
before 1940.This was the new vanguard of growers opposed to central selling seated before the
Commission that day; they were, as a group,
unaware of the industry's history and guided by
individual opportunism.They did not realize or
accept that the prices they received from bootlegging bore a direct correlation with the presence of the orderly marketing system, a system
they did not understand. If the BCFGA had not
been actively regulating the flow of produce to
markets on the Coast it is unlikely that bootlegging would have been as profitable as it was.
The remainder of the hearing consisted of
MacPhee querying the dissidents on how they
proposed to dispose of the six million boxes of
apples the Okanagan produced annually.To each
question he posed the dissidents allowed themselves to be caught in an inconsistency with their
platform.Their inability to comprehend the costs
and challenges of erecting a marketing structure coloured the rest of the hearing. From offering discounts to wholesale purchasers, to constructing branch warehouses, MacPhee challenged all of the dissidents' assumptions. By the
end, MacPhee made it clear to those assembled
before him that he expected them to make it
abundantly clear to growers exactly what it was
they were proposing and the exact costs involved.
When the final report was presented to the
provincial government that November,
MacPhee had come down strongly in favour of
the industry leadership—the Canadian Fruit
Growers'Association was finished. The head of
the Royal Commission commented that what
he saw in the fruit industry were aggressive and
progressive organizations, with no evidence of
Above: E.D. MacPhee and Arthur Garrish at the 1985 BC Federation of Agriculture
convention in Victoria.
wasting or extravagance.18 The BCFGA, which MacPhee believed had
borne the brunt of the growers' criticisms during the investigation, was
not the undemocratic beast it had been portrayed as and had done much
to aid the work of the Commission.19 If there was a centralization of
power occurring under Garrish it was not something that could be rectified through legislation, and there still remained the fact that growers
had just re-elected him for the eighth time as president that January20 If
there were any major imbalances that had to be corrected with the utmost haste it was the reluctance ofthe industry leadership to better publicize its actions on the behalf of growers. The only references MacPhee
made to the actions of dissidents were indirect. He identified the Creston
area as a "special problem," but suggested that if those growers were to
withdraw from BC Tree Fruits, as Beich would have it, they would be
committing economic suicide.21 He also encouraged the Executive to
deal with rumours as soon as they started, be at it at the local level, in the
press, or at the packing house.
In the end, the Canadian Fruit Growers'Association would appear to be
nothing more than a footnote within the broader history of the Okanagan
fruit industry; an organization hardly worthy of mention, other than as a
minor irritant during a period of economic volatility in the lives of many
growers. In light of later events, however, the CFGA's importance can be
found in its role of a cautionary tale for the Okanagan fruit industry. As
the BCFGA entered a new decade that would bring new challenges from
urbanization, the fruit industry would endure a repetition of the events
that defined the grower unrest of the 1950s. Unfortunately, where the
Canadian Fruit Growers Association had failed, dissidents would achieve
success in the early 1970s as the provincial government abandoned its
responsibilities to the fruit industry in enforcing the principles of the
system of single desk selling. What the CFGA did was demonstrate how
a small minority of growers could wield influence far in excess of their
numbers, and ultimately change the course of the industry. ^^
25 The Demolition of the BC Archives
by Reuben Ware
AFTER last fall's demolition of the
BC Archives, much was written
about the deleterious effect on government archives, records management, privacy, freedom of information, and similar
issues. These are serious issues to be sure,
and the developing situation needs to be
monitored closely. But there also needs to
be attention given to impacts of this action
on the various types of users of the BC
Archives, including historians and historical researchers. This article only highlights
some of the factors that touch
upon historians as users ofthe archives. It is
not exhaustive and is a call for a more thorough treatment by those directly affected.
Scrapping the Community Archives Assistance Program.
The first blow at the BC Archives and
province-wide archival services was the
hacking of the Community Archives Assistance Program (CAAP) from the 2002-
2003 budget When the Provincial Archives
of BC and the Records Management
Branch were integrated in 1989, one ofthe
top priorities was to develop local and community archives in BC through a funding
program.The Provincial Archives could not
do everything nor acquire everything; it
needed a strong and vibrant archives community. This idea was fundamental to the
expansion of archives available to the users
and researchers. In its ten years CAAP
strengthened acquisition and preservation
by private and local archives and helped build
a stronger archival base throughout the Province.
The loss of this program will negatively
affect the quality of archives resources available to historians. Its quick restoration is necessary to the nurturing of a province-wide
archives network and without it research
resources for historians are lessened.
Organizational disconnection of the
flow of government archives from
records management programs to the
BC Archives could mean less availability to researchers.
Government records have always been
one of the main types of archives used at
the BC Archives and, in this, there was symmetry with the actual mandate of the BC
Archives as the government archives.
Records management was a natural extension of this; indeed it was a required extension if researcher needs for access to government archives were to be met. Improving the flow of archival government records
and access for users motivated the Archives
to play a leading part in the development of
records management programs, and since
the mid-1980s this involvement has had
direct benefit for historical research. But
management ofthe records life cycle is now
truncated, thereby making it more difficult
to assure the identification and preservation
of government archives. Over time, this may
have a profound and negative effect on history and historians.
Discontinuation of transfer of records
to local archives.
In the recent issue of the AABC Newsletter (Volume 13, no.l, "Provincial Archivist Report"), it was stated that the Crown
Trust (the term used for the integrated
Royal BC Museum and the remnant of
the old BC Archives) had placed several repatriation programs on hold.The repatriation program involved transferring archival
holdings from the BC Archives to community archives, and it was an important
extension to the Community Archives Assistance Program. It could be a method to
increase resources for archival holdings and
to expand availability to them.At this point,
it is important to clarify the status of this
program Will it be continued and will funds
be available to support the repatriations? And
are the records being imaged or digitized
before their transfer to local archives?
Overemphasis on display and archival
exhibits to the detriment of the expansion of archival holdings and improvement in access to them.
loss of profile for archival programs,
we have gone from a flagship archives
to one that is part of a museum manDATE.
These two factors—shift in emphasis and
loss of profile and mandate—are related and
raise a variety of issues for the historian. It is
not just that expenditure of resources on
exhibits rather than expanded holdings will
reduce resources available for researcher
services. It is a wider, deeper issue with the
future of archives as historians now know
them at stake.
The BC Archives has now entered into
a museum and exhibit world with a far different mindset than that of research and historical documentation. The emphasis on
public programming and revenue generation threatens to turn the Archives into a
tourist kiosk. Historians want to see and
research the entire series of records (for example land settlement subject files or land
registry deeds) or they want a specific file
or document on a specific topic or item;
they do not want merely an exhibit of types
of deeds and a physical reconstruction of a
land registry office. Or, they want a photograph of the specific family being researched,
not a selection of settler family photographs
framed as part of an exhibit or Web site.
The museum notion turns primary source
documents into secondary, interpretive presentations. The kiosk approach makes both
broad-based survey research and specific
item search difficult, if not impossible. In
their place, we are given " info-tainment;"
mass access, but access manipulated by
Crown Trust selection; slick video presentation of an officially sanctioned "cultural
In the words of the director of the archives under the Crown Trust, the archive
will be in the Cultural Precinct's Living
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Landscape and part of its "showcase for
displaying.. .the culture (s) and history of our
province." But an archives is not a showcase, it is a storehouse. It is neither bombast
for politicians nor glitter for troupes of foreign tourists. Rather it is a holding place
for the preservation and use ofthe evidence
and memory of past activities and contexts.
It is not a cultural precinct; it is a sanctuary
of functions and documented actions. Archives are not a "Landscape." They are the
bedrock, subsoil, and geological substance
for all the landscapes. Conflating the nature,
role, and services of archives with the exhibit mentality is a disservice.
I suggest that these two approaches are
mutually exclusive and pose many questions for the historian. There are questions
about how historian approach their subject and how archives are available and presented—questions about the role of the
historian in society. Is the historian to be
another type of exhibit curator or Web site
fashioner? One thing for sure, more showcase "goo-gahs" will mean less hard-core
archival resources, in their contextual completeness, available to historians.
It should deeply concern historians that
the Province's main public archives has lost
the ability to plan for and concentrate resources and staff on its own initiative. It can
no longer focus its critical mass on preservation and availability of archival records and
on services for the users of these records.
Some argue that now the archives will
find new groups of users and revenue that
it never had before.This is a big stretch, and
the revenue part is a kind of recurringTreas-
ury Board mania unsupported by market
surveys or studies of potential user groups,
not to mention surveys ofthe needs of current users. The Cabinet presentation ofthe
CEO of the Royal BC Museum given at
the outset of this amalgamation is replete
with "business case" terminology and one
gets the idea that "business" is somehow
what this is about. But if we get "business"
over this amalgamation, we get only bad
business, poorly supported and based on
deep misunderstandings of archives and their
role in society. Others offer up the possibility of fundraising under the aegis of the
Crown Trust as a justification, or at least a
mitigation, of the Museum takeover. But
surely a way could have been found for the
BC Archives to benefit by fundraising and
sponsorship on its own so that non-government records, community archives programs, and researcher services were directly
benefited. My question is, did they even try?
I conclude with an issue concerning the
ability to adapt to changing situations and
needs and to re-allocate resources as required.
Some now suggest that the archives can redress the imbalance between government
and non-government records and reverse
the "downsizing" of the acquisition of
manuscript collections.This criticism of past
BC Archives programs belies a misunderstanding, or misstatement, of the intention
ofthe Community Archives Assistance Program (CAAP) and its effort to build a network for non-government records. This
effort had three essential components: (1) a
long-term funding program to develop local archives as full partners with the BC
Archives, (2) a common database or union
list of holdings, and (3) a provincial acquisition plan.
The funding program did much good,
but there is much that still needs to be done
and it needs to be re-established.The automated union list was also built and is part of
BCAIN, the BC Archival Information Net-
work, (See,<
bcain.html> ) This is a gateway to archives
and archival resources in British Columbia.
It includes access to archival descriptions
on the BC Archival Union List, information about archival institutions, and links to
Web sites.
But what is lacking in this provincial archives network is a coordinated acquisition
strategy with a specific plan identifying subjects, persons, groups, regions, and timeframes of BC's history that are important
for acquisition. This plan should go on to
assign responsibility for each type of record
to a certain archives or groups of archives.
Once CAAP was running, the BC Archives
should have led the development of this plan
and nurtured its implementation.The success of such a plan was not only important
to the growth of community archives; it
was fundamental to the expansion of archival resources and access to them for users of
all kinds.The BC Archives should have been
a major partner in the plan and accepted
responsibility for major areas of acquisition.
The lack of a provincial acquisition plan
was an egregious shortfall, and a very sad
one because it was unnecessary. It is especially unfortunate that those responsible for
this shortfall over the past ten years now
blame it on an overemphasis on government records. Rather than take responsibility for their own short-sightedness and
failure to allocate the resources to develop a
province-wide archives system and to improve the acquisition of non-government
archives, they imply that somehow the fault
lies with government archives and records
management. And they now suggest that
the Crown Trust will fix this by acquiring
archives related to society's under-represented groups. This in itself is fine, but in-
sufficient.What is necessary is a coordinated
provincial strategy that has a detailed plan,
participation by the archives community, and
is funded.
BC history and its practitioners deserve
a full-fledged,fully coordinated archives system. Doing what has been done to archives
programs in the past year is NOT the way
to get such a system. The program confusion evident in the Cultural Precinct, tangled explanations of past practice and poor
priority-setting, and the lack of a "Total Archives" inVictoria to lead us to this system
all make it less likely that we will see one.^^
Reuben Ware is a former director of records
management at the BC Archives and he held
a similar position in Nova Scotia,
In a letter published in ACA Bulletin of
November 2002  titled: "Change at the BC
ArchivesXhe death ofthe life-cycle?"he
expressed his concerns about the dismantling ofthe BC Archives,
He kindly agreed to write this article for
historians, historical researchers,   and
readers of British Columbia Historical News.
27 Alexander Caulfield Anderson
An Ideal First Inspector of Fisheries
Rod N. Palmer
Rod Palmer is a retired
Fisheries and Oceans,
Canada biologist and
fishery manager, with an
nterest in the history of
fisheries research and
management in British
1. Anderson, A.C.c. 1860,
British Columbia,
Unpublished Manuscript,
PABC Add Mss Vol 2
File 8. Note:This
manuscript contains
personal observations
and conclusions
concerning salmon
migration, distribution
and physical
characteristics as well as
descriptions of aboriginal
fishing methods.
Unfortunately, several
pages are missing from
the manuscript and the
section on salmon is
2 Extracts from the
Hudson's Bay Company
Archives documents on
Search Files, Folder No,
1 - Salmon fishery -
Fraser River. Fort
Alexandria journals,
3 Notes associated with a
map produced by A.C,
Anderson in 1867,
Compiled from various
sources including
original notes from
personal explorations
1832 to 1857. From
writings of A.C,
Anderson and other
historical material.
University of British
Columbia Library
Special Collections
4 Most stocks of chinook
salmon are red-fleshed
but a few are white-
fleshed. For example,
there is a run of chinook
ALEXANDER Caulfield Anderson is well
known to British Columbia history enthusiasts for his exploits with the Hudson's Bay Company but little has been written
about his service as Inspector of Fisheries for
British Columbia. As the first fisheries inspector
appointed for the province, Anderson had a significant impact on the development of fisheries
management in the region. When British Columbia joined confederation, the Dominion of
Canada assumed jurisdiction over fisheries in the
province and, in April 1876, Anderson was appointed inspector. He held that post until his death
in 1884.
As early as 1860, Anderson was writing about
salmon and other fish species and providing detailed descriptions of aboriginal fishing techniques.1 His writings illustrate that he was a keen
observer ofthe natural world. In particular, during his tenure with the Hudson's Bay Company
Anderson recorded considerable information
about the various species of pacific salmon and
other fishes essential to the fur trade. During his
twenty-two years with the HBC, Anderson served
in several posts where trade with the Native people for salmon was necessary for survival. During
the period 1842-1848, while he was in charge at
Fort Alexandria, for example, his journal entries
included many references to the salmon trade.2
Much of the information presented in papers he
wrote in later years came from records he kept
during his time in the fur trade. Most of these
observations were made at a time when he would
have had little or no access to the very limited
scientific knowledge of the day.
In 1867, Anderson produced a map showing
parts ofBritish Columbia, Alberta, and Washington State. Several pages of notes including, among
other information, descriptions of salmon and
other fishes were appended to the map.3 He identified six varieties of salmon in the Fraser River
system using the names commonly in use at that
time, i.e. Sa-quai or Kase (chinook salmon), Paque
(white chinook salmon)4, Suck-kai or Ta-lo
(sockeye salmon), Sa-wen (coho salmon), Qua-to
(chum salmon), and Hun-nun or Hoan (pink
salmon). He correctly concluded that Pacific
salmon return to their natal stream to spawn and
that they die after spawning. In reference to the
latter phenomenon he stated, "long incredulous
of a fact so opposed to natural habits of the fish
elsewhere, it was only after careful observation
that I became convinced of its reality". He was
in error, however, when he concluded that this
phenomenon applied only to the large river systems and that salmon in small coastal streams survived after spawning.
In 1872, Anderson wrote a description ofthe
province of British Columbia that was selected
as the government prize essay for that year.5 In
that paper, he devoted several pages to a description of both freshwater and marine fisheries resources of the province. He identified many of
the species of fish available for harvest and provided information on their life history and distribution. He also described Native fishing methods and referred to the large number of salmon
purchased from the Natives by the Hudson's Bay
Company.With reference to the salmon canning
industry then in its early stages of development,
he concluded that a successful export market
would be developed.
It is apparent from his publications and manuscripts that Anderson came to the position of Inspector of Fisheries with a good understanding
of the fisheries resources of British Columbia.
He was, perhaps, the most knowledgeable person about fisheries matters in the province at that
time. During the first two years of this assignment he also served as the Dominion representative on the Dominion-Provincial Indian Reserve
Commission. His travels in that position allowed
him to deal with fisheries issues concurrently with
his commissioner duties and, as he was quick to
point out to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, this was done at very little cost to the Department. He also visited many areas of the coast,
sometimes travelling on HMS Rocket in the company of Indian Superintendent I.W. Powell.
Annual reports to the Minister of Marine and
Fisheries provided descriptions of the fisheries
resource and the developing commercial fisher-
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 ies.6 By the time Anderson assumed his appointment, the salmon canning industry was expanding rapidly and the demand for sockeye salmon
was increasing. Also, at that time, there was a lucrative dogfish7 fishery for production offish oil,
which was used as a lubricant for steam engines
and other machinery as well as lamp oil and as a
lubricant in the logging industry for skidding logs.
Other species harvested included herring and
eulachon plus various species of marine fish for
the local market. At that time there was also substantial exploitation of fur seals.
In his annual report for 1880, Anderson referred to the cyclic abundance of sockeye salmon
in the Fraser River. Since the early years of the
nineteenth century fur traders in the Fraser River
watershed had observed that the all important
sockeye runs varied considerably in abundance
in four-year cycles.The cycles included one year
of great abundance followed by a year of moderate returns and two years of relatively poor returns. From these observations, Anderson correctly concluded that the majority of sockeye
stocks in the Fraser River had a four-year life
Anderson was a strong proponent of salmon
propagation and transplants. In 1867, for example, he proposed the introduction of Pacific
salmon eggs to tributaries of the MacKenzie and
Saskatchewan Rivers east of the Rocky Mountains. His idea was that an abundance of salmon
east of the mountains would provide a source of
food for the expected settlers in the west.9 Although that idea did not come to reality and
would not now be considered scientifically practicable, many transplants of Pacific salmon were
attempted beginning in the 1870s.10
Several times in his annual reports, Anderson
proposed transplantation of chinook salmon eggs
from the Arrow Lakes at the headwaters of the
Columbia River to the Thompson River, a tributary of the Fraser River. He was of the opinion
that Columbia River fish were a different and
superior species which would benefit the Fraser
River fishery.The chinook salmon from the two
river systems are now considered to be of the
same species by fisheries scientists and no transplants were ever attempted.
In his annual report for 1877, Anderson proposed the construction of the first salmon hatchery in British Columbia. For this proposal he had
the strong support of the cannery owners who
saw it as a means of increasing fish production.
Anderson was of the opinion that a hatchery on
the Fraser River system would serve to improve
sockeye salmon fishing by increasing abundance
in the low years and would also facilitate introduction of Columbia River chinook salmon to
the Fraser River. By the 1870s, hatchery technology had been developed for Atlantic salmon
in Europe and on the east coast of Canada. In the
western United States, Pacific salmon hatcheries
had been in operation on the Columbia River
since 1877. Anderson proposed that a hatchery
expert be sent out from eastern Canada to find a
suitable site on the Fraser River. Finally in 1883,
after several years of requests to Ottawa,Thomas
Mowat was sent out from New Brunswick to
find a hatchery site. Mowat, an experienced hatchery man, selected a site on the Fraser River at
Bon Accord about four miles above New Westminster, on the opposite shore. The plan was to
produce salmon fry for release in various Fraser
River tributaries. Construction was underway in
the spring of 1884 but, unfortunately Anderson
died in May of that year and never saw the project
to completion. The Bon Accord Hatchery was
completed in 1884 and Mowat stayed on as
Hatchery Superintendent.11
Perhaps Anderson's most significant influence
on the development of fisheries management in
British Columbia was in the regulation of the
Native fisheries. He was well aware of the dependence of Native peoples on salmon and other
species offish both for food and trade. In fact, he
was a major buyer of salmon during his employment with the Hudson's Bay Company. From
the beginning of his tenure as Inspector of Fisheries, he advised his superiors in Ottawa that the
Native fishery was "in all respects unobjectionable and economical." He recommended that it
not be interfered with unless they broke some
general law such as the use of explosives.
In a letter to A. Smith, Minister of Marine and
Fisheries dated 3 January 1878, Anderson clearly
stated his position with respect to Native fisher
I have, from the first, been alive to the necessity of affording every protection to the interests of the natives in this important particular,
and I have carefully watched, in as far as practicable, that no infringement of these hereditary rights should be permitted.The exercise
of these rights, unfettered by wanton or ignorant interference, is to many of the tribes an
object of prime importance; and as a matter of
salmon to the Harrison
River, a Fraser River
tributary that are white-
5 Alexander Caulfield
Anderson, The Dominion
at the West. A brief
description of the province of
British Columbia its climate
and resources. (Victoria,
BC: 1872).
0 Reports of the Inspector
of Fisheries for British
Columbia for the years
1876-1883. Appendices
to the annual reports of
the Department of
Marine and Fisheries,
'The dogfish, Squalus
acanthias (Linnaeus) is a
species of small shark,
which is abundant on
the BC coast. In later
years, particularly during
the 1940s, dogfish were
harvested for the
vitamin-A-rich liver oil.
The fishery collapsed
after 1950 when other
sources of vitamin A
became available,
s This cyclic pattern of
abundance continued
until in 1913 the
dominant run suffered a
catastrophic decline
when rock debris, which
was dumped in the river
during railway
construction, blocked
salmon migration
through the Fraser
Canyon. The 1914 run
was also severely
impeded by further rock
slides. After many
decades of low
abundance, Fraser River
sockeye numbers have
increased and, with some
modifications, the
pattern of high and low
years has continued,
3 Notes associated with a
map produced by A.C,
Anderson in 1867. (See
note 3.)
10 While most attempts
failed, a few transplants
of Pacific salmon, outside
their natural geographic
range, have been
achieved. For example,
coho and chinook
salmon have been
29 successfully introduced
to the Great Lakes and
chinook salmon have
been transplanted to
New Zealand. See: C.
Groot and L. Margolis,
ed. Pacific Salmon Life
Histories (Vancouver:
UBC Press, 1991)
"The Bon Accord
Hatchery, which
operated until 1915, was
the first of 14 Dominion
government hatcheries
built in British Columbia
between 1884 and 1920,
Eggs from local stocks of
sockeye and chinook
salmon were incubated
in this hatchery, but
Anderson's plan to
introduce Columbia
River chinook salmon to
the Fraser River was
never implemented. In
1936, after a scientific
review, it was concluded
that the hatcheries were
not significantly adding
to natural production
and most were closed at
the end of that season.
With the last hatchery
closed in 1937 this first
era of British Columbia
salmon hatcheries ended.
See: K.V. Aro, Transfers of
Eggs and Young of Pacific
Salmon Within British
Columbia. Fisheries and
Marine Service Technical
Report No. 861. (Ottawa:
Department of Fisheries
and Oceans, 1979),
12 Letter from Alexander
Anderson, Inspector of
Fisheries for British
Columbia, to The Hon,
A Smith, Minister of
Marine and Fisheries, 3
January 1878. Public
Archives, Canada. RG10,
Volume 3651, File 8540.
This letter was also
printed in Anderson's
annual report for 1878,
13 W Kaye Lamb,
Biography of Alexander
Caulfield Anderson" in
Dictionary of Canadian
Biography.Vol. XL
(Toronto: University of
Toronto Press. 1982),
expediency alone, omitting entirely the higher
consideration of the moral claim, their protection demands the earnest care of the government.
It was with a view to this that I have on several occasions, in addressing your Department,
pointed out the economical and satisfactory
nature of the native modes of fishing, fearful
lest, under representations of others less fully
cognizant of the subject, the Department
might be led to take a different and erroneous
Anderson went on to recommend to the Minister that the provisions of the Fishery Act not be
applied to "the Indians, working to supply their
own wants in their accustomed way." In his 1878
report, Anderson further clarified his position in
regard to the Native fisheries:
I may add, that by the letter of the Minister of
the 8th August, I was duly authorized to suspend the application in regard to the Indians,
of the fishery enactments. Previously thereto,
however, I had in anticipation of the support
of the Department, given directions that the
Indian population should not be interfered
with, save in cases of obvious abuse, while fishing for their own use in their accustomed way.
At the same time, it was stipulated that, where
fishing with white men and with modern appliances, the Indians so fishing should be considered as coming in all respects under the
general law.
Anderson's frequent references to the Native
fisheries in his reports to Ottawa reflect the pressure he was under from the canning industry and
other business interests in the commercial fishery to restrict the fishing activities of Native people. The expanding commercial fishery was harvesting increasing numbers of salmon and the
Native fishery was seen as unwanted competition. The exemptions achieved by Anderson for
the Native fishery remained in effect until new
regulations were enacted in 1888. In later years,
after Anderson's term of office, and when the
demands of the commercial fishery were greater,
Department of Marine and Fisheries policy for
the Native fishery became more restrictive.
Whereas Anderson referred to the Native fishery
as a "hereditary right," later policy assumed the
fishery to be a privilege granted by the government. It is interesting to note, however, that recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada
have tended to verify Anderson's original opinion.
Anderson's position with respect to the traditional sale and barter of salmon to the fur traders
and others in the interior is less clear.There is no
indication that he restricted that business but he
did prohibit the sale offish to canneries. It would
appear that he saw nothing wrong with the traditional trade in salmon, with which he was familiar, but was of the opinion that Native people
who participated in the expanding commercial
fishery on the coast should be regulated in the
same way as other fishermen. In any event, the
open sale of fish caught in the traditional fisheries continued for many years even though regulations prohibiting such activity were in force after
Recognizing the skills of Native people as fishermen and boatmen, Anderson promoted their
involvement in the commercial fishery and recommended that their employment should be encouraged by the government. He felt that the
participation of Native people in commercial fishing and processing would benefit not only the
industry but also the Native communities. In fact,
during his time in office, Native people were
actively involved in the commercial fishery especially in northern areas such as on the Nass
and Skeena rivers.
After suffering severe exposure in 1882, when
he was stranded overnight on a Fraser River
sandbar, Anderson never fully recovered his health
and died at the age of 70 on 8 May 1884.13 Without the record he left behind there would be
little to tell us about the history of fisheries management during that period. Most of the Department of Marine and Fisheries records and
correspondence concerning British Columbia,
prior to the 1890s were lost in a fire in Ottawa
and we are left with only the published annual
reports and a few letters and memoranda copied
to other departments such as Indian Affairs. Fortunately Anderson was a prolific writer who produced detailed annual reports with many appended copies of important correspondence and
statistics. His practical but imaginative approach
to fisheries management and his sensitivity to the
needs ofthe Native people made him an ideal first
Inspector of Fisheries for British Columbia.^^
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Candidates for the 20th Writing Competition
Winners will be announced at the British Columbia Historical Federation Conference in Prince George in May
A Curious Life: The Biography of Princess Peggy
Abkhazi. Katherine Gordon. Sono Nis Press.
Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and
Orature. Wayde Compton (ed.). Arsenal Pulp Press.
British Columbia 100 Years Ago: Portraits of a Province.
Fred Thirkell and Bob Scullion. Heritage House.
Constance Lindsay Skinner: Writing on the Frontier. Jean
Barman. University ofToronto Press.
Daggers Unsheathed: The Political Assassination of Glen
Clark. JudiTyabji Wilson. Heritage House. .
Discovery by Design: The Department of Mechanical
Engineering of the University of British Columbia
Origins and History: 1907-2001. Eric Damer.
Ronsdale Press.
E.J. Hughes.Ian M.Thom. Douglas & Mclntyre/
Vancouver Art Gallery.
Flying Colours: The Toni Onley Story. Toni Onley and
Gregory Strong. Harbour Publishing.
Fort Steele: Gold Rush to Boom Town. Naomi Miller.
Heritage House.
From Fjord to Floathouse: One family's journey from the
farmlands of Norway to the coast ofBritish Columbia.
Myrtle Siebert.Trafford Publishing. '
Harbour Burning: A Century ofVancouver's Maritime
Fires. William A. Hagelund. Hancock House
Publishers Ltd.
Heritage Hall: Biography of a Building. Marian Gilmour
& Gail Buente. Heritage Hall Preservation Society,
Historic Shipwrecks ofthe Sunshine Coast. Rick James
and Jacques Marc. Underwater Archaeological
Society of British Columbia. 3
Impressions of the Past: The Early History of the
Communities of Crawford Bay, Gray Creek, Kootenay
Bay, Pilot Bay and Riondel, on the East Shore of
Kootenay Lake, British Columbia. A. Terry Turner and
Susan Hulland. Riondel & Area Historical Society. 4
In Veronica s Garden. Margaret Cadwaladr.
Madrona Books & Publishing. 5
Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of
America. Edited and Annotated by Randy Bouchard
& Dorothy Kennedy.Talonbooks.
Land of Promise: Robert Burnaby's Letters from Colonial
British Columbia 1858 - 1863. Anne
Burnaby McLeod and Pixie McGeachie. City of
Launching History: The Saga of Burrard Dry Dock.
Fancis Mansbridge. Harbour Publishing.
Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and
Reserves in British Columbia. Cole Harris. UBC
Old Stones: The Biography of a Family. 230 pp.
A. S. Penne. Heritage House.
One Man s Justice: A Life in the Law.
Thomas R. Berger. Douglas & Mclntyre.
Phyllis Munday Mountaineer. Kathryn Bridge. XYZ
Publishing. 7
Preserving What is Valued: Museums, Conservation, And
First Nations. Miriam Clavir. UBC Press.
Professing English: A Life of Roy Daniells.
Sandra Djwa. University ofToronto Press.
Rusty Nails & Ration Books: Great Depression and
WW II Memories, 1929-1945. Barbara Ann
Lambert. Trafford Publishing.
Tales of Ghosts: First Nations Art in British Columbia.
Ronald W Hawker. UBC Press.
The Coasts of Canada: A History. Lesley Choyce.
Goose Lane Editions.
The Journey: The Overlanders' Quest for Gold.
Bill Gallaher. Heritage House.
The Judge s Wife: Memoirs of a BC Pioneer.
Eunice M.L. Harrison.  Ronsdale Press.
The Life and Times ofMarta and Dragan Zaklan:
Pioneer Stump-Farmers, Strawberry Hill, Surrey.
George L. Zaklan. Self-published.8
The People's Boat. HMCS Oriole: Ship of a Thousand
Dreams. Shirley Hewett. Heritage House.
Tong: Tong Louie, Vancouver s Quiet Titan.
E.G. Perrault. Harbour Publishing.
Tracking Amelia Copperman. Sarah H.Tobe. Issue of
The Scribe, publication of the Jewish Historical
Society of British Columbia.9
Voyages of Hope: The Saga ofthe Bride Ships.
Peter Johnson. Heritage House.
War on Our Doorstep: The Unknown Campaign on
North America s West Coast. Brendan Coyle.
Heritage House.
When the Whistle Blew: The Great Central Story
1925-1952. Margery Vaughan and Robert
Vaughan, eds. Great Central Book Project
Committee/Alberni District Historical Society,
Port Alberni, BC.10
Wildfire Wars: Frontline Stories of BC's Worst Forest
Fires. Keith Keller. Harbour Publishing.
Wish You Were Here: Life on Vancouver Island in
Historical Postcards. Peter Grant. Touch Wood
Editions (Horsdal & Schubart).
Women and the White Man s God: Gender and Race in
the Canadian Mission Field. Myra Rutherdale. UBC
1 Available on-line at <http://
01-0464.html>, or by mail
from Trafford Publishing,
Suite 6E, 2333 Government
St.Victoria BC V9T 4P4,
toll-free: 1-888-232-4444,
2 Distributed by: Heritage
Hall, Mezzanine, 3102 Main
Street.Vancouver BCV5T
'Available from UASBC
Product Sales, David
Johnstone, 821 Chestnut
Street, New Westminster
BC V3L 4N3, phone
604.521.0029, e-mail:
or at theVancouver
Maritime Museum or the
Maritime Museum of BC in
4 Available from the Riondel
&Area Historical Society
Box 201, Riondel BC VOB
5 Available in some bookstores
and by e-mail
or by telephone 1-800-866-
3 Available at Burnaby City
Hall and Burnaby Village
Museum. Order by mail
from: City of Burnaby 4949
Canada Way Burnaby BC
V5G 1M2, Attention Jim
Wolf, Planning Department,
7 Distributor: Fitzhenry &
Whiteside, but also available
directly from Rhonda
Bailey XYZ Editorial
Office, PO Box 250,
Lantzville BC VOR 2H0,
3 Available from: G Zaklan,
13278 84th Ave., Surrey BC
9 Available from the Jewish
Historical Society of BC,
Suite 206, 950 West 41*
Avenue,Vancouver BC V5Z
2N7. Free with membership
in the society,
10Alberni Historical Society,
PO Box 284, Alberni BC
V9Y 7M7.
31 Book Reviews
Books for review and book reviews should be sent to:
AnneYandle, Book Review Editor BC Historical News, 3450West 20th Avenue/Vancouver BC V6S IE4
Terrace Regional Historical Society
20th Century Anecdotes from the
Terrace Area,
reviewed by Kelsey McLeod.
Emily Reynolds Baker
Caleb Reynolds, American Seafarer,
reviewed by PhilipTeece.
David Finch
R.M Patterson: A  Life of Great
reviewed by George Newell.
Helmi Braches, ed.
Brick by BrickThe Story of Clayburn,
reviewed by Daphne Sleigh.
Myrtle Siebert
From Fjord to Floathouse: One Family's
Journey from the Farmlands of Norway
to the Coast ofBritish Columbia,
reviewed by Ellen Ramsay.
Judith Williams
Two Wolves at the Dawn of'Time:
Kingcome Inlet Pictographs, 1893-
reviewed by Phyllis Reeve.
Adele Perry
On the Fdge of Fmpire: Gender, Race,
and the Making ofBritish Columbia,
reviewed by Donna Jean McKinnon.
Helen Piddington
The Inlet,
reviewed by Ian Kennedy.
The Corporation ofthe Village of
Bittersweet Oasis: A History of Ashcroft
and District, 1885-2002,
reviewed by Esther Darlington.
20 th Century Anecdotes from the
Terrace Area
Terrace Regional Historical Society, 2002.
98 pp. Illus., maps. $20 paperback.
Available from Terrace Regional Historical
Society, PO Box 246,Terrace> BC.V8G 4A6
Reviewed by Kelsey McLeod
This collection of reminiscences about the
Terrace area contains nothing startling or
unusual—it could be any small town in BC.
Yet it is well worth a read, enabling older
people to remember what it was like years
ago, and younger people to envision a very
different society that did not depend on the
government for everything, whether for
schools, transportation, or other needs. The
book takes in the time from 1900 to 1988.
One questions if it was necessary to go as far
as 1988, but perhaps this permits an overview
of the passing of time and the inevitable
changes. One-room schools, long walks to
school through snowbanks, crossing rivers on
ice, ferries across rivers—short and long
memories of those who lived and grew up
in the area.
The book deals with a considerable area,
which includes not only Terrace, but also
Nass, Rosswood, Usk, New Remo, Old
Remo, Lakelse Lake, Kitimat, and Kwinitsa.
There are nine chapters in all, each dealing
with a decade, beginning in 1900. There are
many pictures, which in some cases are more
intriguing than the accompanying stories.
That of a public school at Kitsumkalum, for
instance, could be a prototype for most early
BC schools. On page 9 is a picture of the
Skeena Bridge, a landmark in the area,
officially opened in 1925.Tom Marsh's story
on page 10 tells of working a 10-hour day
for the sum of $2.50, the going wage for a
sixteen-year old.
Chapter 3 gives Archie Hippsley's
memories of Depression days. Amazingly his
story mentions that the local sawmills ran all
through those dark days in many places.Tales
of local dances, when the entire community
gathered—there seemed always to be some
individual or individuals who were willing
and eager to play music for these affairs.
Schoolteachers  tell  of their joys and
tribulations, teaching in such isolation. The
celebrations held on 24 May, and 1 July—
Dominion Day it was then called. One of
the facts that emerges is how young the men
went to work, and how eagerly they
shouldered the responsibility of their own
The greatest changes, after the initial
arrival of settlers, came with the Second
World War, when an airport and army
barracks changed the community for ever.
The Terrace Regional Historical Society
is to be commended for the publication of
this book. It is to be hoped that other towns
and villages will follow their example, and
set about preserving their everyday history
as well.
Reviewer Kelsey McLeod is a member of the
Vancouver Historical Society.
Caleb Reynolds, American Seafarer
Emily Reynolds Baker,
Kingston, ON: The Limestone Press, 2000.
Alaska History No. 50, Distributed by:
University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks.
213 pp. Illus., map. US$28.00 hardcover.
Reviewed by Philip Teece
This book is the kind of historical project
that derives considerable interest from its
access to primary records that have been long
hidden and, until now, unseen in publication.
For a century and a half the personal
logbooks, letters and even a substantial body
of poetry of Captain Caleb Reynolds have
remained as a private collection in the hands
of his family and their descendants. Finally,
in the present work, the Captain's great-great-
great granddaughter has made fascinating use
of her family's literary treasure.
The revelations that we discover in this
correspondence and in the logbooks are
especially exciting because they deal with our
own West Coast at a truly crucial period in
its history.
For many of us on the British Columbia
coast our period of historic focus is the great
summer of 1792, when Vancouver, Galiano,
and Valdes were all simultaneously engaged
in their groundbreaking surveys of our local
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 maritime neighbourhood. By contrast, many
following years seem a bit of a blank—an
anticlimax, perhaps.Yet only about a decade
after Vancouver these waters were thronging
with "The Boston Men," shiploads of New
England fur traders who came to Nootka
Sound (and northwards to Alaska) to buy sea
otter pelts from the Native people, for trade
in a lucrative market that had opened across
the Pacific in Canton. Caleb Reynolds was
one of these trading seamen.
Reynolds's first voyage to what is now the
British Columbia coast was as early as 1804,
just a dozen years after the great 1792
exploration. He sailed here again on a trading
venture that began in 1815, and here is the
astounding fact about that voyage: already, so
early in that rapacious pelt-hunting
enterprise, the sea otter "gold rush" had so
heavily depleted the species that the trade at
Nootka was ending. Thus, the New
Englanders' attentions were turned away from
our Northwest Coast and, after about 1817,
diverted to other kinds of trade in the South
In Caleb Reynolds,American Seafarerwe find
no explicit comment about the significance
of these facts to British Columbia's
subsequent history. Yet clearly we are shown
a critical turning point on our coast. The
"Lords of the Pacific" (as their
contemporaries called the New England
sailing captains) turned to the Sandwich
Islands rather than to Nootka for their trade
goods, and it was eventually Hawaii rather
than the BC coast that became American
What makes Emily Reynolds Baker's
work a real treasure is the personal and social
insight that she extracts from the captain's
logs and especially from his letters to Mary
Williams, who was to become his wife.The
richly varied life in our region of the Pacific
during the couple of decades following
George Vancouver's survey is revealed in
Caleb Reynolds's record of social evenings
with Russian Governor Alexander Baranof
in Alaska, of encounters with the Native
traders of Nootka, of clashes with mutineers
and privateers.
Among the most intriguing of the captain's
papers is his memoir that records one of the
earliest meetings with the residents of Pitcairn
Island, the community that comprised the
remnant of the HMS Bounty mutineers.
The many letters that found their way to
Mary in New England from wherever
Reynolds happened to be in the Pacific
region show the captain to have been a
modest, gentle and sensitive man.They record
the anguish of separation that a seaman on
our exceedingly remote coast felt during
absences from home and family that lasted
typically four or five years. Especially
revealing are the intervals between the
writing of a letter and its arrival in its
recipient's hands. One letter, dispatched from
Brazil in November of 1815, was received in
Boston in August of 1816. Another of
Reynolds's letters to Mary awaited a reply
for over two years. Will the outer-space
voyages of some future era ever place travellers
into an isolation so complete as those ventures
to British Columbia at the beginning of the
nineteenth century?
Emily Reynolds Baker has made excellent
historical use of the fascinating personal
archives that have fallen into her possession.
Caleb Reynolds's long sequestered papers
have much to tell us about what was going
on in our British Columbia waters in the
three or four decades before settlers began
to occupy what is now Victoria.
Reviewer Philip Teece, a retired librarian, is
author of A Shimmer on the Horizon, a
book about a part of BC's upper coast on which
he lives nowadays.
R.M. Patterson: A Life of Great
David Finch
Calgary: Rocky Mountain Books, 2000.
304 pp. Illus., maps. $34.95 hardcover.
Reviewed by George Newell
The re-publication of all of R.M.
Patterson's books in the 1990s is indicative
of the lasting value of—and the continuing
interest in—his writing. "At the time of his
death in 1984," the publishers of this
biography claim, "R.M. Patterson had
become a Canadian legend, both for his
exploits and for his five published books and
many articles. His vivid portrayal of the
Canadian wilderness has never been
These are not idle promotional claims. And
since, as the British Columbia publisher Gray
Campell comments in his foreword," we only
knew him from his books and articles," this
biography is especially to be welcomed.
Patterson's books are, in the main
autobiographical, albeit naturally, neither
complete nor definitive.This biography fills,
to some extent, the gaps and casts new light
on numerous incidents mentioned in the
books. On the matter of how Patterson
happened to come to Canada's Northwest,
for example, Finch sees as the key a period
in hospital when, as a teenager, Patterson was
being treated for an illness that almost took
his life. "He returned from death's door a
changed person.While bed-ridden, Patterson
read every Jack London book his mother
could find. "They fascinated me," Finch is
quoting Patterson reminiscing in 1951," those
stories ofthe North, and I made up my mind
that I, too, would hunt and drive my dogs in
that blank space on the map, the Yukon
Mackenzie Divide."
Patterson carried through on his
determination. After establishing a homestead
in the Peace country, he headed north and
out of that came, 20 years later, his
masterpiece, The Dangerous River."lt helped",
Finch writes, "that he often possessed the
financial resources to take advantage of
opportunities that arose, but the independent
spirit of the wanderer and explorer set him
apart from many of his generation and
financial status." Patterson learned all he could
beforehand from books and maps and people;
and he was "a keen observer" and "his eye
deciphered maps at a glance."Yet, of his first
trip, to the South Nahanni in 1927, Patterson
later reflected on his lack of knowledge:
"What I proposed to use in place of
experience has often puzzled me." With the
courage (or innocence?) of the young he
headed out and, as Finch points out, well
might not have returned. However he did
return, and having gained some experience,
he learned from it. He reflected on where he
had been, what he had done, and summarized
at the end of the trip:" I am the better for the
trail I have made—in every way. A little
stronger and heavier, more obstinate, quicker
to think & act alone & able to do without
things & to drive myself on against my own
will. I know the way into the gold rivers—&
I have seen very great beauties in a wonderful
mountain world."
The trip, dangerous as it had been, was
but a stimulus. Patterson recognized early in
his life, as Finch clearly indicates, a dichotomy
in his character. "I can rough it with anybody
when I am out for roughing it," Patterson
wrote to his mother in 1924 shortly after he
came to Canada: "but when I come in to
civilisation my idea of hardship will be, as
someone has aptly put it, to be compelled to
ring the bell twice for a waiter." He was, all
the while, honing his writing, especially in
33 his teenage years and in his early years in
Canada in letters to his mother. Finch wisely
draws extensively from these and they give
the reader many insights into Patterson's
development, both through what he chooses
to write about and how he writes.The literary
qualities of his books derive from these earlier
This is a good solid work—it provides the
reader with a sense of who Patterson was.
The narrative is well paced and appropriate
to the subject. It is fortunate to have so many
photographs taken by Patterson and his
companions that are contemporary to the
events; looking through them after reading
the book illustrates how valuable they are,
how much they add. They are well selected.
The lack of a bibliography is not a
shortcoming—the endnotes are much more
useful than a simple bibliography. I would,
however, have found a separate listing of his
several diaries, with their dates, helpful.The
maps are noted on the "Contents" page; so
easy to do and yet so seldom done.
The biography can only help promote
interest in the writings of Patterson and please
those of us who have always valued his
published work.
Brick by Brick: The Story of
Helmi Braches, ed.
Clayburn Village Community Society, 2001.
181 pp. Illus., maps. $25 paperback.
(Clayburn Village Community Society, c/o
Cyril Holbrow,4176 Seldon Rd. .Abbotsford,
BCV2S 7X4)
Reviewed by Daphne Sleigh
The large-format family history book
appears to be as popular as ever, with
communities all across British Columbia
enthusiastically recording their history in this
form. But the task of the community
historian today is no easy one.
Twenty-five years ago, when a community
wished to record its history in a book, it
might have been sufficient merely to assemble
a collection of family histories, arrange them
in alphabetical order, add plentiful illustrations
and—almost as an afterthought—some
miscellaneous information on local buildings
and local industries. There was often no
historical overview, no attempt to explain the
local scene in terms of the broad picture.
Documentation might be lacking, sources
unnamed. Maps could be sketchy and
inadequate. This is not to underestimate the
value ofthe community histories of an earlier
period.They were of strong historical merit
in recreating the atmosphere of bygone
times—the daily life, the dialogue, the
humour, the pathos, the value system that
prevailed in that community.They imprinted
their district with a distinct historical identity.
Additionally, they were of importance in
adding to the new groundswell of enthusiasm
for the cause of heritage preservation.
Nevertheless, there is undeniably more
pressure today on community historians to
produce a book that is professional in its
approach to archival research and also in its
regard for design and layout. Community
histories have become increasingly
competent in both these respects. The
Clayburn history, Brick by Brick, is one such
example of a book where care and thought
have obviously been expended over every
detail of the production.The front cover itself
attracts you instantly with its clever
Mondrian-like abstract design, incorporating
the shapes and colours of Clayburn brick;
and the internal layout is similarly pleasing
to the eye, as well as functional. Source notes
are arranged on the relevant pages, which is
a convenience. One interesting device to
conserve space has been to use a smaller
typeface and a three-column layout for the
large mass of family histories and other
"appendices" (which actually take up half the
book.) This, to me, is just as easy on the eye
as the larger typeface and longer line used in
the first half, and both styles are perfectly
readable. The maps and plans are well
designed (though I wonder why the Mission
station is noted as "St. Mary's Mission" on
two maps, some years after the station had
moved away from the O.M.I, mission side of
The main focus of the book is on the
Clayburn company town, now a heritage
village with its old-world, brick-faced houses
and brick church, its nostalgic general store,
and its early school, little changed since the
1920s. Only a small amount of space has been
devoted to the history ofthe district previous
to the founding of the brickworks in 1905,
though Cyril Holbrow, whose years of
research are the foundation of this book, does
outline the story of Colin Sword and the
dikes at the beginning of the "Family
Histories" section. Nineteenth century
history is also brought into the picture with
the chapter by Janet Bingham on the well-
known Maclure family, who settled on
Matsqui Prairie in 1868 and who later
discovered the clay. All this, however, is
subsidiary to the major theme of the book,
which is set in the twentieth century.
The development of the brickworks is
covered extensively in the chapter by John
Adams, who describes the origins of the
factory, its fluctuations, and its eventual
demise, when operations were transferred to
Kilgard, the other side of Sumas Mountain.
He deals with the techniques of brick
making, the fuelling of the plant, the
transportation of the product, and—not
least—the problems of management. He also
adds interesting details of the colour process
used for the bricks, and the names of some
of the buildings where Clayburn bricks were
Family histories make up the largest part
of the book, and offer plenty of agreeable
browsing even for a reader unfamiliar with
the community. A history ofthe village itself
precedes this section and offers an
explanatory background. This is
sympathetically told, except in the case of
the titled English remittance man, who as
usual is treated as a figure of fun. Inevitably
he is written off as doing "gentleman
farming," though from the context he looked
after his own herd of cattle. Laughed at behind
his back for his accent and manners, it is not
surprising that he retaliated by needling the
Clayburn community.
What is the future of Clayburn? This is
now the question, and one that is not evaded
in this book. The charm of the site, and its
heritage importance have been increasingly
recognized ever since the landmark year of
1978, when heritage activists in the MSA
Heritage Society rebuilt the church (a story
which deserved fuller treatment). Since then
the village has gone on from strength to
strength, its school, store, and homes largely
restored, and the site declared a Heritage
Conservation Area in 1996. But what of the
brickyard itself, now reduced to concrete
foundations and a layer of broken bricks?
There are suggestions of an interpretation
centre, trails along the former railway, even
steel-frame structures to outline the shapes
of former buildings. Let us hope that over-
zealous efforts do not destroy the ambience
that remains.
Reviewer Daphne Sleigh is author of One
Foot on the Border: A History of Sumas
Prairie and Area.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 From Fjord to Floathouse: One
Family's Journey from the Farmlands
of Norway to the Coast of British
Myrtle Siebert.
Victoria:Trafford Publishing, 2001.
244 pp. Illus. $25 paperback.
Reviewed by Ellen Ramsay
From Fjord to Floathouse is the story of three
generations of the Forberg family, a
Norwegian immigrant family that originated
in Bo, Telemark, in Southern Norway and
emigrated to the coastal region of British
Columbia where they moved with the hand-
logging trade from Shoal Bay to Forward
Harbour, Jackson Bay, Port Neville, Rock Bay,
and finally to Campbell River. The story
begins with the author's grandfather, Einar
Einarson.who emigrated in 1893,and follows
the genealogy through to the family reunion
in 1998 inTelemark.The author is a writer, a
registered home economist, and a former
teacher who spent three years researching the
family history for this volume.
The book is divided into two parts, the
first part focusing on the early years from
1893 to circa 1946 centred on the immigrant
experience, and the second being a study of
the changing lifestyles of subsequent
generations from 1946 to circa 1998The book
was published in cooperation with Trafford
Publishing and is nicely accompanied by
photographs, genealogical diagrams, recipes,
and letters.
The significance of Myrtle Siebert's book
is that it is much more than a family history.
Siebert uses the expression "creative non-
fiction" to describe her genre, and this is most
appropriate as the volume combines the story
of one particular Norwegian family with the
wider history of settlement along coastal
British Columbia. It tells a compelling story
of life on the West Coast worthy of fiction
and Siebert demonstrates her command of
the style in what promises to be an enticing
Historical topics of interest that the author
has researched include the role of the Union
Steamship Company on life in the early
lumber camps along the coast, description
of the life of hand loggers on the coast,
description of the Norwegian war effort
during the 1939-1945 war, life in remote
communities during the war, and finally an
extended discussion of the passing on of skills
(schooling, home economics, etc.) from one
generation to another.
The result is compelling reading: a book
treating the lives of men and women in an
even-handed manner. The volume also
embraces stories of the communities
themselves in a realistic light, not afraid to
include the negative as well as the positive
side of human and community life in coastal
British Columbia.
Ellen Ramsay is recording Secretary of the
Vancouver Historical Society.
Two Wolves at the Dawn of Time:
Kingcome Inlet Pictographs, 1893-
Judith Williams.
Vancouver: New Star Books, 2001. 240 pp.
Illus. $29. paperback.
Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve.
Any artist who paints a creation myth
balances precariously between heaven and
earth, whether the scaffold swings beneath a
ceiling in Rome or bangs against a rock cliff
above an inlet of the North Pacific. In 1998
Marianne Nicholson created the first tribal
pictograph to be painted in seventy years.
Twenty-eight feet wide by thirty-eight long,
on a cliff a hundred feet high, the pictograph
testifies to the continuing vitality ofthe artist's
home, the Gwa'yi village at the entrance to
Kingcome Inlet. Its design brings the two
wolves from the Dzawada'enuxw origin
myth into the frame of a huge "copper", the
shield-shaped icon of the traditional
economic and social systems of the
Northwest coast.
Trained as a "contemporary" artist,
Nicholson relearned the traditional
pictograph techniques of her people. Her
research led her to non-Native artist and
scholar Judith Williams, a long-time
frequenter of the coast and investigator of its
culture. Williams became an enthusiastic
witness to Nicholson's pictograph,
documenting its progress and exploring its
context and the human relationships that
make it meaningful.
One hundred metres from the site, at
Petley Point, another pictograph looms,
painted by another woman artist, Mollie
Wilson, in 1927, in defiance of the potlatch
ban. Between the two sites,Williams traces a
lively line of intersecting, interacting histories
that have not yet reached their end.
Two elder couples befriended Williams.
Dave Dawson was for many years elected
chief of the Dzawada'enuxw; his wife Flora
still speaks fluently the Kwakwala language,
but recalls that she enjoyed her time at the
residential school. The Dawsons and others
who wander in and out of the pages bring
out stories and objects, for instance, the family
copper, in a musing, reminiscing, speculative
manner. No one claims the last word.
Alan and Mary Caroline Halliday also
belong to Kingcome. In 1894 the Halliday
brothers Ernest and William, of Scottish stock,
staked claim to land on the inlet delta. Ernest
homesteaded, building a house that sheltered
his family for a century. William Halliday
became Indian Agent, doomed to inflict
anguish on neighbours and would-be friends,
all with the" best" of paternalistic intentions.
In a position to see where regulations had
been made too rigid, he served a bureaucracy
with no allowance for rule bending. He did
not entirely oppose the rules; he genuinely
believed the continuing of the potlatch
ceremony was morally and economically
injurious to the Native people. His boss in
the federal hierarchy, Duncan Campbell Scott,
whose poetry appeared in all Canadian
anthologies of my schooldays, receives a bad
press these days.The culture he thought dead
is outliving him. William Halliday could only
judge what he observed "against the template
of his own belief system." On the other hand,
Rev. John Antle of the Coast Mission argued
against the ban, "The ruthless tragedy upon
ancient customs comes not too well from a
Christian nation."
In the UMista Museum at Alert Bay,
Williams thinks that even now the rescued
and protected ritual objects "rest uneasily on
pedestals." Pictograph and petroglyph sites
can not be so readily decontextualized.
The reader wanting absolute truth or even
a clear battle line between good guys and
villains had better leave this book alone. We
meet hospitable Interfor loggers who share
food, information, and thoughtful, concerned
opinions. We are appalled to find the Nature
Trust offering to sell to the Gwa'yi people
the land that had been theirs all along. And
we share the wrath of the late Beth Hill,
doyenne of rock art studies, when young tree-
planters trash the Halliday house. Alan
Halliday comments: "Writing about it all,
they make it something different from what
it was. It was just ordinary life." Williams
shows ordinary life still being lived.
Her book includes a number of archival
and documentary photographs, including
several striking views of the two modern
pictographs. But, since she has written herself
35 so energetically into the story, I regret the
absence of anything she sketched or painted
during the progress ofthe pictograph. What
happened, I wonder, to the watercolour she
"looped onto paper" when camping in the
Halliday house?
On the Edge of Empire: Gender,
Race, and the Making of British
Columbia, 1849-1871
Adele Perry.
Toronto: University ofToronto Press, 2001.
286  pp. Illus.  $24.95  paperback.  $60
Reviewed by Donna Jean McKinnon
Whereas a number of studies have begun
to paint a picture of the historical relationship
between whites and Natives in this province
in general, and others have looked at white
men and Native women or early feminist
history in particular, Adele Perry's book
examines how racial and gender prejudices
affected the development of early colonial
society in British Columbia and the self-
image of Britons on the colonial edges of
the empire.
Dr. Perry first examines the lives of
working white men in the young colony, who
frequently lived together in households
without women. These arrangements were
perceived as a threat to the development of a
fully functioning white society and the men
themselves as guilty of threatening the
separate spheres of existence between men
and women because of the necessity of their
doing so-called women's work.
Another perceived danger to the
establishment of a respectable white colony
was the existence of relationships between
white men and Native women. An 1871
census enumerated 581 such mixed couples
in Victoria, many consciously living in an
unmarried state.The Native women in these
relationships, as Perry and others have
reported, were never accepted into the white
sphere despite their relationships, and the
children of these unions were especially
discriminated against. Native women were
seen as immoral and their behaviour equated
with prostitution by the white community.
Adding insult to injury, they were also
frequently physically abused by their white
male partners.
As for the men in these relationships, many
colonists took a dim view of them, but for
different reasons. For the overall white
population, these couplings seemed to
threaten white culture in general, violating
its notion of racial superiority. The men
involved in cross-racial marriage were
criticized for relinquishing their place in
respectable society. Such relationships
persisted however, despite threats and cultural
fears, and were a constant feature of colonial
British Columbian society.
Reformers of the day felt the solution to
these situations lay in programs to immigrate
white women and in land reform and other
such policies to encourage white settlement.
Perry states that" white women were invoked
as evidence of British Columbia's transition
from savage to civilized" (p. 174).The results
of these efforts however, proved to be less
than satisfactory.
While many of the women who came to
the colony did marry white men and settle
down to a "civilized" lifestyle, many more of
these mostly working-class women who were
shipped to the colony felt no special
obligation to fulfill a middle-class reformer's
ambition. Some became prostitutes, married
Native men, opened businesses of their own,
and drank, swore, and caroused with the
numerous white men hungry for female
companionship, gravely disappointing the
high-minded reformers who had sponsored
their passage from England.
Ironically, Perry reports, these women
seemed especially offended by Native
women—further ostracizing them and
precluding any notion of gender solidarity
between the two races of women. In the
meantime, the course of love between white
men and women was not necessarily running
smoothly, as reports surfaced of domestic
violence within white relationships.
Perry's work introduces a number of new
ideas and challenges to the historical research
community. She urges historians to revise the
historical analysis of white/Native
relationships, to examine the history of
whiteness and the concept of manhood as
well as womanhood, to explore the
relationship between white and Native
women, and to delve into the perception of
the "whiteness" of our society in the face of
current and historical Native resistance and
Asian immigration.
In many ways the issues and reform
policies examined in this book were part of
a bigger phenomenon that was happening
in other parts of the British Empire as new
political, social, and economic realities
challenged continued colonization. As with
any major shift or convergence of cultures
and expectations, it provides historians and
cultural observers with rich material to try
to understand where we've come from and
how we find ourselves today.
Reviewer Donna Jean McKinnon is a past
president of the Vancouver Historical Society.
The Inlet
Helen Piddington.
Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2001. 200
pp. Illus. $32.95 hardcover.
Reviewed by Ian Kennedy
Todays'television programs abound about
people attempting to re-live or re-create
history. One group on aYork boat follows a
Hudson Bay fur-trade route half way across
Canada, another spends a year living like
1890s Prairie settlers, and, in England, yet
another attempts to live like ancient Celts.
Modern day pioneers Helen Piddington
and Dane Campbell and their two children,
Arabella and Adam, must find these contrived
"made-for-TV" antics amusing, if indeed
they watch such programs in their house
alongside Loughborough Inlet some 150
miles north ofVancouver, and yes, they do
have television. Rather than re-creating
history, the Campbell-Piddingtons have been
living history, living the life of real pioneers
for the past thirty odd years, fighting to
survive and raise a family in rugged, but
beautiful surroundings.
Helen's book The Inlet presents glimpses,
or snapshots, of the hardships, work, and
struggles the family faces, but also of the joy
and peace it found in living in semi-isolation.
Not a history of Loughborough Inlet per se,
the book contains a series of short essays, or
musings, of a few pages or sometimes half a
page, covering a wide range of topics.
Campbell and Piddington met while
sailing the BC coast, formed a partnership,
and in 1975, with a small daughter in tow,
bought an abandoned 1934 vintage house
on five acres in isolated Loughborough Inlet,
off Johnston Strait, north of Campbell River.
There Dane became a prawn fisherman, with
222 acres the smallest wood-lot operator in
BC, and a small-scale logger, while Helen
variously became a printmaker, artist, pig
farmer, gardener, home-grown food-
preserver, home-schooling teacher, and
fighter off of wild animals, as well as an artist
drawing pastels, which illustrate her book.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Because Piddington is forced to rely on
oral history in her attempts to gather
information about the Inlet, few hard historic
facts grace the volume. What she does glean
are stories of eccentric characters like the
"Three Old Goats;" the half-blind remittance
man, the sailor Gwyn Gray Hill; and the deaf,
96 year-old live-alone Axel Yungstrum.These
stories certainly add spice to the book.
Yungstrum, for instance, to get himself going
each morning, took a shot of rye and rolled
on an Absorbine Senior soaked floor to ease
his aching back. Beat that for a remedy.
Not afraid to offer an opinion, Piddington
speaks out bluntly on a variety of topics.
Logged clear-cuts:" blemishes, of course.. .but
they are the tag end of an old system and
gradually they green up too." Native middens:
" that only the best sites be saved". On United
States books used in British Columbia
correspondence courses: "a country that
doesn't produce its own school books is
irresponsible." Grizzly bear eco-tourism:
" Bears should be left to themselves, the wary
wild creatures, they are glimpsed maybe in
passing, but left strictly alone and in peace.
Must someone be killed before this nonsense
is stopped?" The hunting of bears: "While
friends in town moan for their welfare,
dressing up in bear masks, marching and
chanting 'Clear-cuts Kill Bears,' we notice
both black bears and grizzlies increasing
steadily." She says that as areas become
overcrowded the bears become more
adventurous, more aggressive. Not just bears
do these modern-day pioneers encounter and
learn to live with but also wolves, wild boars,
cougars, otters, martens, and mink. She and
her children share one memorable up close
and personal magic moment with a killer
whale."Setting up and maintaining one's own
community is a rich and satisfying experience
but not for the faint-hearted. Self-sufficiency
means just that—relying on no one for
anything." Piddington relates the mundane,
but all-important, aspects of survival in an
isolated world: the difficulties of gardening
and animal husbandry; generator failures; the
poaching of prawn traps; the reliance on and
the perils of boats and boating: the dangers
of fire, the ferocious and unpredictable
weather. But, though confronting a multitude
of hardships, the family also experiences a
sense of peace and a quiet joy at having
survived in relative isolation. "Be positive,
warned an editor. Make everything sound
pleasant so others will want to live as you do.
But I'm not selling this life just telling how
it was."
Helen Piddington's The Inlet, not actors
re-living history, but a modern-day family
carving out a life on BC's coast, with
Piddington enjoying the luxury of being able
to fly to Paris for a month each year to study
art and to paint. A luxury hundreds of other
folk eking out a living along this rugged and
often unforgiving coast wouldn't and couldn't
dream of. The Inlet: good summer reading.
Reviewer Ian Kennedy is a resident of Comox.
Bittersweet Oasis: A History of
Ashcroft and District, 1885-2002
Ashcroft: The Corporation of the Village of
Ashcroft, 2002.160 pp. Illus. $25
Reviewed by Esther Darlington.
Ashcroft's first history book appeared in
1985 under the title Bittersweet Oasis: A
History of Ashcroft—The First 100 Years. Written
by Brian Belton, a journalist, the text was 55
pages long peppered with some fine old
photographs from the archives of the Ashcroft
The new Bittersweet Oasis includes a good
part of the original text and photographs,
but adds another 100 pages or so bringing
the village's colourful history up to the
present time.
Ashcroft is situated on a bench of the
Thompson River five kilometres from the
Trans-Canada Highway. As the crow flies, the
village lies between Spence's Bridge and
Kamloops. Two rail lines run through the
village—the CPR and the CNR.The CPR,
in fact, is the reason the village began in 1884.
A portly former sheep man from Ohio,
Oliver Evans, saw the immediate potential
of the flat, partly cultivated bench above the
Thompson as a destination point for soon-
to-be-travellers on the rail line being
constructed, and quickly built a hotel.
Together with his 14 year-old pregnant wife,
Ellen, he surveyed a town site, comprised of
three wide avenues running north and south
that would parallel the rail line.
This burst of entrepreneurial insight was
to become a characteristic of the town that
would later attract a burst of Chinese produce
farmers using indentured labourers from
China, who transformed the surrounding
sage-brush-strewn hillsides into some of the
finest potato and tomato production in
Western Canada. A cannery was built,
producing tomato catsup, canned tomatoes,
and canned pumpkin. A soy sauce factory
started by a Japanese former internee, a
lumber company and numerous "bush" mills,
and finally a copper mine, one of the latest
in the world, all assured the Village of Ashcroft
of a sound economic base for several
generations. Of course a vibrant social life
accompanied all this business activity.
One of the major industries developed
around the railroads, of course, was
transportation. Horse drawn freight wagons
plied the steep grade above the village, laden
with goods brought in by rail freight. The
destination of the freight wagons was all the
communities along the old Cariboo Road,
now called the Gold RushTrail. Stage coach
and freight wagon served the entire inland
region known as the Cariboo plateau for fifty
years, until the first railroad was built linking
the coast region with the northern Cariboo
in 1912.
I heartily recommend the new Bittersweet
Oasis for a good casual read. It is the kind of
book you can pick up and find something
new every time. It is also a showcase of data
on the early pioneer beginnings of an often
neglected, but vitally important region in the
unfolding development and history of the
Reviewer Esther Darlington is a long-time resident
ofthe area.
Books listed here may be reviewed at a later
date. For further information please consult
Book Review Editor AnneYandle.
Amongst God's Own:The Enduring Legacy
of St. Mary's Mission. Terry Glavin.
Mission: Longhouse Publishing, 2002.
Biography of Major-General Henry Spencer
Palmer. Jiro Higuchi. Yokohama: the
author, 2002.
Cranbrook and District: Key City
Chronicles, 1898-  Cranbrook & District
Key City Chronicles, 2002.
Geography of Memory: Recovering Stories of
a Landscaped First People. Eileen
Deleharity Pearkes. Nelson: Kutenai
House Press, 2002.
The Heavens are Changing: Nineteenth
Century Protestant Missions and Tsimshian
Christianity. Susan Neylan. McGill
Queens University Press, 2003.
Rusty Nails and Ration Books: Great
Depression and World War II Memories,
1929-1945. Barbara Ann Lambert.
Victoria,Trafford, 2002.
37 Reports
Peter Corley-Smith
AT the historic paddlewheeler Moyie
at Kaslo, the crew lowered the flag
to half-mast when they heard that
Peter Corley-Smith had passed away inVictoria last November. British Columbia's historic sites, museums, and all of us with a
passion for history lost a good and talented
friend. My friend Peter was not an easy man
to categorize. His career had too many directions, all of them ultimately complementary. He was born in India and schooled in
England. Then, as just a young man in the
RAF during the Second World War, he flew
for the Special Operations Executive in support of underground movements all over
occupied Europe. It wasn't something he
talked about a lot and his logbooks only
indicated "mission completed," but the solo
flights in a blackened Stirling bomber were
not an easy way to spend the war years. Next
he went underground mining on the Gold
Coast of Africa and later in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). In 1951 he married Nina,
his wife of over 50 years. It was "the one
unquestionably sensible thing I ever did,"
he commented in his autobiography 10,000
Hours. Soon they moved to Ottawa and Peter returned to flying, this time in the early
Bell helicopters that were just beginning to
make their mark in northern surveys and
in so many other roles.
Helicopter flying was a delight for Peter.
He enjoyed the exhilaration of flying into
the mountains and sometimes stopping for
lunch on a ridge top. He also enjoyed the
company ofthe helicopter engineers, miners, surveyors, artists, and travellers whom
he flew all over Northern Canada and especially British Columbia. In 1959, Peter
and Nina moved to BC with their two sons
Gerald and Graham. Peter flew for many
years with Vancouver Island Helicopters, an
organization he particularly liked and whose
people he respected. By then in his forties,
Peter knew that his flying days were nearing an end and he enrolled at the University ofVictoria, where he pursued another
love and studied English, flying in the summer months to support his family. Then he
went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in
Creative Writing from the University of
Montana. After that, while still flying, he
taught English at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Students quickly came
to respect the poetry-reading editor and
former bush pilot who taught them the importance of writing clearly and well.
In the mid-1970s, he transferred to the
Provincial Museum with the museum train
program and was later an extension officer,
running travelling exhibits and speaker's
tours programs, followed by a stint as a curator in history. On his retirement in 1988,
Peter became research associate at the Royal
BC Museum and continued many research
projects and lecture tours. Peter travelled
throughout BC, speaking to historical societies and hundreds of school classes. He
wrote ten books, mostly about the aviation
history of British Columbia, a subject his
long years of flying and his love of English
admirably prepared him for. Although he
was intimately familiar with the technology, he was most interested in the human
story of aviation and its pioneers. His titles
included Barnstorming to Bushflying]
Bushflying to Blind Flying] Pilots to Presidents',
two volumes, co-authored with Dave Parker,
Helicopters the B. C Story and Helicopters in
the High Country, as well as two histories of
the Royal BC Museum. He also helped with
many historical projects and was made a life
member of the Kootenay Lake Historical
Society for his contributions to the SS Moyie
National Historic Site.
Peter brought sensitive wit and a perceptive wisdom to his writing. His love for
history and his books defined an important
part of British Columbia's story.
—Robert D. Turner
BC Studies Conference
"British Columbia:Rethinking Ourselves"
THE 2003 BC Studies Conference
will be held 1-3 May 2003 at the
Liu Centre of the University of
British Columbia. Entitled "British Columbia: Rethinking Ourselves," this interdisciplinary conference features 24 sessions, each
organized around a different topic with two
or three presenters.
Participants will come from as far away as
Australia, Scotland, and France and will include both graduate students and senior
scholars. Themes to be explored include
mountain climbing and natural history, the
dynamics of rural life, the Japanese experience in British Columbia, the regulation of
morality, women and travel writing, the making of ethnic identities, BC's Scottish connection, rethinking the place of Doukhobors
in BC history, and British Columbians' response to war.
The conference offers two plenary sessions.Thursday evening focuses on" Changing Images of First Nations in Film." The
first part depicts Kwakwaka'wakw life
through time, the second a collaborative
project on Dane-zaa oral tradition.
Friday evening is the Canadian premiere
of The Birthright, a play by BC playwright
Constance Lindsay Skinner. Written in
1906 and produced by the Shuberts in
Chicago and Boston, the play never reached
Canada, perhaps because it tackles contentious issues of Aboriginal-missionary relations on the BC's North Coast. The play
will be presented at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street.Vancouver, in cooperation with United Players.
—R.A.J. (Bob) McDonald
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Detail of a CP Rail map showing Lardeau (top
left corner) and Lardo (bottom right corner).
Lardo vs. Lardeau
The naming of two communities on the Upper
Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake (see 35/2 and
35/3) intrigued Greg Nesteroff. He found some
answers in the Postal Inspectors Reports, kept at
the National Archives of Canada. (Microfilm
C7230, Files 399, 506, 515, 521, 561 and
C7231, File 326.)
WEST Kootenay has a long history
of inter-city rivalries over such
things as sports, industry, and infrastructure. But it was a simple name—and
the prosperity associated with it—that led
two towns to battle during an 1890s gold
and silver rush to one of the remotest parts
of the region.
The townsite of Lardeau, on the northeast arm of Upper Arrow Lake, was registered in Victoria by W.H. Ellis on 2 Dec
1892.The following month, a separate group
led by John Retallack attempted to do the
same for Lardo, near the north end of
Kootenay Lake. However, the registrar refused on the grounds the name was too similar to Lardeau.
The Lardo townsite owners appealed to
the courts, but the judge dismissed the case.
This did not stop them from applying for a
post office, which BC postal inspector E.H.
Fletcher supported: "The population of
Lardo is much larger and more important
than that of Lardeau and the former being
the first in the field for a post office, should
I think, have the advantage of their enterprise."
Fletcher's superiors authorized the post
office at Lardo, providing the name was
changed.They were under the mistaken impression an injunction had been issued preventing use of Lardo. However, each town
felt it had an exclusive right to the name,
and insisted it would be impossible to find
another. They began trading insults. The
Lardo Reporter called Lardeau "a mathematical point on the Arrow Lakes, occupying
position but no space [which] has not yet
fulfilled its manifest destiny by becoming a
sheep ranch." Lardeau promoters responded
by criticizing the geography of their rival:
"Lardo claims to be entitled to the name
because of its proximity to the mouth of
the Lardo River. It is some 35 miles from
its mouth."
MP John Mara was asked to intervene,
but decided to sit on the fence: "I unfortunately promised to support the application
for offices at both places, not knowing that
the department would object on account
of the similarity of names." Postmaster-general William White finally ruled: "The question of name must be settled by the parties
themselves." With neither side willing to
compromise, the matter remained unresolved.
In October 1893, postal inspector
Fletcher's assistant visited Kaslo and inquired
about Lardo. He discovered that "the place
[was] now practically deserted....There [was]
therefore no necessity for the establishment
of a post office at Lardo."
This was not quite the end of things. In
1895, MP Mara again wrote the postmaster
general, requesting an office be opened at
Lardeau, and suggested a potential postmaster. Fletcher was asked to look into it, and
found that "the townsite has not been built
upon to any extent within the past year, nor
has the population increased. In fact I am
given to understand that there are no more
than half a dozen people living there." By
1899, Lardo had been sufficiently resuscitated to again merit a post office, while Lardeau was lost to nearby Comaplix.
For reasons unclear, the Lardo post office was renamed Lardeau in 1947. It closed
in 1967, although Lardeau is still a small residential community.
For all the ado about the name, little
comment was made of its origin, which remains a mystery. It may be derived from an
early French Canadian prospector, or from
a Sinixt (Lakes) word, although neither explanation is supported by much evidence.
—Greg Nesteroff
Work and Society
Prince George Conference
8-11 May 2002
Hosted by University of Northern British
Columbia and the Prince George
BCHF 2003 Organizing Committee
UNBC Conference Centre
8:30-5:00 A.M. BCHF Workshops
College of New Caledonia
7:00-9:00 RM. Opening reception
FRIDAY, 9 MAY 2003
Field Trip Day
(A) Lheidlit'enneh Cemetery and Church
(B) Downtown Heritage Talk & Walk
(A) The East Line
(B) Railway and Forestry Museum
All-Day Book Fair: UNBC Wintergarden
8:30-12:00   BCHF Annual General Meeting
12:00 to 1:00 Catered lunch for registrants
Talks & Presentations
Evening: BCHF Awards Banquet
6:00-6:30 RM. No-Host Bar
6:30pm Awards Presentation
7:00 RM. Dinner with local
SUNDAY,   I I MAY 2003
8:30-9:30 RM. BCHF Council Meeting
Explore Northern BC on your own
or join the free tour to Fort St. James.
Registration forms can be found in this issue
and on our Web site <bchistoryca>
Conference Coordinator
Ramona Rose, Northern BC Archives.
Phone:250 960-6603; Fax: 250 960 6610;
E-mail: <>.
39 Former Winners      Archives and Archivists
Medal for Historical
1983 Daphne Sleigh: Discovering Deroche:
From Nicomen to Lake Errock
1984 Barry M. Cough: Gunboat Frontier
British Maritime Authority and
Northwest Coast Indians. 1846-
1985 John Norris: Old Silverton 1891-
1986 Charles Lillard: Seven Shillings a
1987 Lynn Bower: Three Dollar Dreams
1988 Peter B. Waite: Lord of Point Grey
and Bridget Moran: Storey Creek
1989 John Hayman: Robert Brown and
the Vancouver Island Exploring
1990 Paul Tennant: Aboriginal People and
1991 Geoff Meggs: Salmon
1992 James R. Gibson: Boston Ships and
China Goods
1993 Allison Mitcham: Taku The Heart of
North America s Last Great Wilderness
1994 Tom Henry: The Good Company:
An Affectionate History of the Union
1995 Christine Frances Dickinson &
Diane Solie Smith: Atlin'.The Story
of British Columbia's Last Gold
1996 Richard Cannings and Sydney
Cannings: British Columbia:A
Natural History
1997 Richard Somerset Mackie: Trading
Beyond the Mountains: The British
FurTrade on the Pacific 1793-1843
1998 Kathryn Bridge: By Snowshoe,
Buckboard and Steamer: Women of
the Frontier
1999 Lilia D Acres and Donald Luxton:
Lions Gate
2000 Richard Sommerset Mackie: Island
Timber: A Social History of the
Comox Logging Company, Vancouver
2001 Milton Parent: Circle of Silver
Editor Frances Gundry
School Archives Program in Mission BC
UNDER the direction of the Mission
District Historical Society, the
Mission Community Archives has
established a School Archives Program in partnership with teachers, students and parents.
The program is designed to facilitate the ongoing collection, preservation and availability of archival materials from each school in
the community. To our knowledge, this is
the first program of its kind in the province
Implemented in 2002, the program is designed to assist and train students, staff, and
parents to play a proactive role in the ongoing preservation and availability of records
that are important to their school.The program is designed to preserve a selected sample of archival materials from each school
documenting their administrative policies
and general operational activities, including
school programs, special events, etc. These
do not include any records that are subject
to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The idea for the program originated from
the Mission 2000 Legacy Project, a millennium-inspired campaign aimed at acquiring and preserving a comprehensive record
of life in Mission dating from its establishment in 1892 to the year 2000.
During this project, archives staff and volunteers, including practicum students made
presentations and distributed information to
teachers and members of Parent Advisory
Councils (PAC) at every school in the district. Through this consultative process, the
need to establish a partnership for the ongoing preservation and availability of school
history was identified and enthusiastically
supported by all.
The members of the Mission School
Board also endorsed the proposed new program. In a letter to the archives, they stated:
" this is a wonderful initiative to help and
preserve our heritage. The proposal will also
heighten our students' awareness of the importance of safekeeping historical records and how
the records they create contribute to our community's history'
Encouraged by the support of the educational community, a project was undertaken
in 2002 to implement the program.Through
the financial assistance of theVancouver Foundation, a part-time co-ordinator was hired for
six months to get the program operating.
A School Archives Program Task Force
(SAP)was also established to guide the implementation phase. Comprised of representatives from the Community Archives,
Mission School Board, the District Parent
Advisory Council, as well as Mission teachers and students, the task force was responsible for developing administrative structure
for operating the program and a public-relations program to promote SAP.
Through the combined efforts of the Coordinator and the Task Force, working relationships were gradually established with
each school in the district. In April, the following account of a field trip to the Community Archives was published in the local
newspaper, the Mission City Record '.
Hatzic Elementary s Division 3, a class of
grade 5 and 6 students, recently visited the
archives. These students took the opportunity to look through photographs and
documents from the turn of the last century. They quickly grasped the value and
significance that records of daily activities
can have in informing us about how the
people of Mission lived at specific times in
history. The students were most inquisitive.
Questions ranged from the practical," Why
do you wear white gloves?" and "How do
you get things?" to the sensational, "Do you
have records about crimes?" They were
most impressed by the enormous climate
controlled vault where their school archives
will be preserved. Division 3 learned first
hand the important steps involved in safekeeping a variety of valuable documents.
At the conclusion of the six months, every
school in the community had registered to
participate in the School Archives Program.
And in June, archival records were acquired
from EVERY school for preservation in the
Community Archives.
Although the program is still in its developmental stages, it has fostered a community-wide interest not only in the preservation of archives but also an understanding of their value in our community.
Through the program, children in kindergarten to grade twelve are learning to become proactive partners in the preservation of our community's documentary heritage.
—Valerie Billesberger, Archivist
Mission Community Archives
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 Steamboat Around the Bend
by Edward L.Affleck
*             K          ^^    ^                                  ^^  W
fc*       ■-    V      .       w™_'«*-
'•&*Lk&&**£^^                      *
The Saga of the Sternwheeler Enterprise
SeveEal miles rioEth of Lillooet, the
CaEiboo wagon Eoad left the FEaseE RiveE
tEench and began woEking noEtheast oveE
the high countEy to 100 Mile House
before bending back noEthwest to re-
join the FEaseE RiveE at Soda Creek.
FoEty-five miles of navigable wateE lay
between Soda CEeek and Quesnel, so
that it was possible to bEeak the long haul
by hoEse and wagon at Soda CEeek and
take advantage of the tEanspoEtation
economies which the shallow-dEaft
steEnwheeleE had to offer When it was
discoveEed that Eoad buildeE Gustavus
Blin WEight had a majoE inteEest in the
steameE which was placed on the Soda
CEeek-Quesnel Eun, theEe weEe those
who suspected had he had delibeEately
located the wagon Eoad west to Eejoin
the FEaseE RiveE in OEdeE to establish a
steamboat hegemony and pEofit mightily theEeby. WEight, the doughty little
Yankee Eesponsible foE building much
ofthe CaEiboo wagon Eoad in the 1860s,
neveE did enjoy an utteEly favouEable
pEess. His ability to get on with big en-
gineeEing pEojects was admiEed, but theEe
was a shaEp side to WEight which en-
gendeEed a ceEtain amount of misgiving. A coEEespondent WEiting to the Victoria Chronicle in 1864, howeveE, was enthusiastic about his steEnwheeleE! "...The
steameE Enterprise.. .is veEy comfoEtable
though small and heE "high-toned" Captain (W G. Doane) and gentlemanly
puEseE (Me. Hunt) aEe haEd to beat. Foe
the first time afteE leaving Lillooet I sat
down to a fine dinneE with claEet and
ice, ale, sheEEy and champagne in theiE
company. In this Eespect, as in many oth-
eES, she is the pioneeE of civilization in
this paEt of the countEy..."
Subsequent developments pEovided a
ceEtain amount of vindication foE
WEight's Eoad location, foE afteE a hiatus
of a decade duEing which Soda CEeek
to Quesnel tEaffic moved oveE a wagon
Eoad high up on the bench, steamboat
seEvice was EestoEed in 1896 between
Soda CEeek and Quesnel and thEived foE
a fuEtheE couple of decades duEing which
it was extended upstEeam to take advantage of boom times in FoEt GeoEge.
WhateveE his motives WEight in 1863
had boileE, machineEy and fittings foE the
steEnwheeleE Enterprise packed by mules
horn PoEt Douglas at the head of
HaEEison Lake oveE the poEtages to
Lillooet and up the wagon Eoad to a point
neaE FoEt AlexandEia upstEeam fEom Soda
CEeek.VictoEia's skilled shipbuildeE James
TEahey was bEought noEth to supeEin-
tend constEuction, and steam was Eaised
on 9 May. FEom 1863 to 1869 the Enterprise woEked diligently and pEofitably
thEoughout a long season on the UppeE
FEaseE Route, but in the latteE yeaE she
looked to be facing EetiEement when
WEight Eeplaced heE with the laEgeE,
moEe poweEful steEnwheeleE Vktoria.The
Omineca gold Eush and WEight s questing natuEe howeveE EepEieved heE fEom
oblivion. Well awaEe of the tEanspoEtation economies offeEed by steamboating,
WEight deteEmined to send the Enterprise with a supply of goods on a voyage
of discoveEy to see if the Omineca countEy could be seEved by a wateE Eoute. In
1871 she was taken tliEough the
Cottonwood and FoEt GeoEge Canyons
to FoEt GeoEge, then up the Nechako
to the StuaEt RiveE, up the StuaEt to
StuaEt Lake, up Tachie RiveE to
TEembleuE Lake, and then up Middle
RiveE and Takla Lake to Takla Landing,
a feat neveE equalled in EiveE navigation
in PjEitish Columbia. Had the Omineca
boom been more sustained, who knows
what might have taken place in the way
of steamboat development. DuEing 1871,
howeveE, woEk was undeEway on the
"Skeena PoEtage", a 60-mile tEail which
appEoachedTakla Lake fEom Babine Lake
to the west.The tuEbulent wateES of the
Skeena RiveE system did not offeE
unalloyed navigation oppoEtunities,
steamboating oe otheEwise, but taken as
a whole the appEoach to the Omineca
fEom the saltwateE mouth of the Skeena
was moEe satisfactoEy than that foE a limited season mapped out by the Enterprise.
The Enterprise was summaEily abandoned
inTEembleuE Lake and foEgotten foE decades until she acquiEed an almost mythical status. InteEest in heE Eevived in the
twentieth centuEy and now some of heE
fittings may be viewed at Quesnel by
those who have difficulty in believing
that such a voyage into the Omineca was
eveE made.
Setting aside heE epic 1871 voyage
into the Omineca countEy the Enterprise
still deseEves a special place in the annals
of fEeshwateE steamboating, foE she was
the first steEnwheeleE to be built and
opeEated in BEitish Columbia at any great
distance from saltwateE. ^^
41 Token History
by Ronald Greene
The British Columbia $10 and $20 Coins
When gold was discovered in the mid-
18505 on the Fraser River there were few
people in the territory then known as New
Caledonia. With the first influx of gold
seekers in 1857 James Douglas, the governor
of nearby Vancouver Island, extended his
control over the mainland in order to prevent
any Americanization of the territory. The
colonial authorities in London ratified
Douglas's actions, formulating legislation that
was passed and proclaimed in 1858 creating
the Colony of British Columbia. Douglas was
appointed as governor of the new colony.
The lack of coin, the absence of banks,
and the suddenly increased population
created great difficulties. With a dearth of coin
and no assaying facilities, the successful miners
took their gold to San Francisco, which left
the local communities unenriched by the
gold extracted.
In April 1859 the treasurer of the colony,
Capt.Wm. Driscoll Gosset, suggested that a
mint be established. The same month, the
home government was asked to provide an
assay office for the colony and to send out
£ 100,000 in coins in exchange for bullion.
Some twenty-four months later £6,900
arrived in small coin.
In 1862 a quantity of treasury notes was
issued to pay contractors for construction of
roads, but these were redeemed quickly and
not intended to be a circulating medium—
the possibility of counterfeiting was
considered great and the largely American
population had a great distrust of paper
money, preferring coinage of full intrinsic
In September 1859 an assay and refining
office was authorized, Francis George
Claudet appointed assayer and staff obtained
in England. In January of the following year
construction of a building was commenced
in New Westminster, and the assay office
opened in August 1860.The first ingots cast
were not marked with a value, which negated
some of the benefit of an assay. Instructions
to put values on the bars did exist, but
disagreements whether the value should
appear in pounds or dollars led to acrimony
and a lack of action.
Meanwhile the need for a mint was
becoming much more obvious, but there was
disagreement as to whether the mint was to
be established in New Westminster or
Victoria. Finally the governor made a
decision. On 14 November 1861, after
consulting Gosset and Claudet but not
London, he instructed Capt. Gosset to send
Mr. Claudet to San Francisco to obtain the
Above: 1953. Provincial Archivist Willard
Ireland holding examples of the $10 and $20
necessary machinery for coining at the assay
office in New Westminster pieces of the value
of ten and twenty dollars American currency.
There was no intention to refine the gold, as
that would add many times more to the cost
of the establishment. All that was felt necessary
was to add alloy to bring the pieces to a
uniform standard of fineness.
In San Francisco, Claudet was able to
purchase a screw press which had been used
to strike the Wass Molitor & Co. coinage and
other necessary machinery: rolling mill,
cutting press, milling bench, draw bench, line
shafting, pulleys, moulds, balance, gauges, and
steam engine. He had dies cut to Capt.
Gosset's design by George Ferdinand
Albrecht (Albert) Kuner, the leading engraver
on the West Coast and responsible for many
of the dies used to strike the early private
California gold. Several sets of silver die trials
were also struck.The total expenditure came
to $5,085.
Claudet returned to British Columbia in
March 1862, accompanying the machinery
and supplies. By early April he had started to
install the machinery and requested further
instructions. But for reasons still unknown
the governor had lost the desire to establish
the mint and instructed that the machinery
be preserved with grease and laid up. Coinage
was considered a royal prerogative. Did the
governor feel that London would disapprove,
had permission been denied, or was it related
more to Gosset's request that he be allowed
to use the title" Deputy Master of the Mint"?
But more trouble arose as the assay office
employees asked for increased salaries for
anticipated extra work in the minting of
coins. Requests for extra staff were ignored
or rejected and pleas to allow the mint to
operate were refused.
On 26 June a gold trial specimen of the
ten-dollar coin was sent to the governor and
on 2 July four more gold coins were
forwarded. It was reported that a few coins
were struck from gold supplied by New
Westminster residents and that these were
exhibited at the mint. On 10 July, Gosset
suggested sending some coins for display at
the London Exhibition, which rather
surprisingly was approved. He then had
struck some eighteen ten-dollar coins and
ten twenty-dollar coins.These were to be sold
as bullion later and the proceeds credited to
the colony. A 22 August 1862 request from
the colonial secretary asked for the total
number of pieces struck, but there is no
record of a reply by Gosset to that letter—
how we wish there were! Gosset's health at
the time was not good. He had applied for
and was granted leave. In late August he
turned over his responsibilities to his
temporary replacement, Chartres Brew, and
left the colony—never to return—and the
mint never again operated.
An interesting letter now in the Public
Records Office, London, from Gosset to the
master of the Royal Mint indicates extreme
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 differences of opinion on the coins. Gosset
felt that the coins should have been
denominated in pounds sterling as part of a
standard coinage for the Empire, while
Douglas felt that they should be in dollars,
which was the common currency of the
colony, as the majority of the white
population was American, and the main
supply point for Victoria (the Colony of
Vancouver Island) and British Columbia was
San Francisco. Perhaps this disagreement over
the denomination of the coins was the reason
why the mint never operated.
The coins were unknown to Canadian
numismatists until 1983 when R.W.
McLachlan saw in the British Museum the
examples that had been donated by Governor
Frederick Seymour (Douglas's successor) in
1864. Most of the surviving gold examples
have come from pieces inherited by the
provincial government and held as
"unissuable gold coin," a total of $140
according to J. McB Smith, deputy minister
of finance at the turn of last century. These
coins appear to have been sold as curios to
the members of the Government following
McLachlan s enquiry to John Robson, then
provincial secretary.
The first public sale of the pieces took
place in London, England, when the famed
Murdoch collection was dispersed. A gold
ten dollar and a gold twenty dollar were sold
on 21 July 1903. Today it is difficult to state
precisely how many of the coins have
survived. We know of 5 ten dollar in silver, 4
twenty dollar in silver, 4 ten dollar in gold
(one ofwhich hasn't been seen since 1937),
and 5 twenty dollar in gold.
The examples owned by the British
Columbia Archives and currently on loan to
the Royal British Columbia Museum, were
obtained as follows: the silver ten and twenty
dollar pieces were purchased from Fred
Claudet, son of Francis G. Claudet. A gold
ten dollar piece was presented by Dr. J.D.
Hunter in 1953.The piece had been owned
by John Robson, Hunter's father-in-law, and
has been holed and worn as a watch fob for
many years. A gold twenty dollar piece was
transferred from the treasury department by
This article was published in the September 2002
newsletter of The Friends of the Archives and
appears here with kind permission ofthe Friends.
For information on memberships to The Friends
of the Archives and its privileges please contact
Ron Greene. Phone 205.598.5539 or e-mail
<ragreene @telus. net>.
Web Site Forays
by Christopher Garrish
http ://livingland scapes. be. ca
WHAT I find to be one of the
more endeaEing qualities of
the Royal BEitish Columbia
Museums (RBCM) "Living Landscapes"
Web-site is its focus upon the InterioE
of the pEovince.
I first became familiar with the site in
1997 when I began to search the InteEnet
foE infoEmation on the Thompson-
Okanagan valleys. At that time, "Living
Landscapes" was primarily a paEtneEship,
begun in 1994, between the RBCM and
the Okanagan UniveEsity College as a
way to showcase the human and natural
histoEy of the Eegion on a WoeW Wide
Web site. The objective of the site was
to be thEeefold: to impEove the understanding of the links between people and
the enviEonment in the region; to pEe-
seEve aEtifacts, specimens, and information that are at Eisk of being lost; and to
develop educational pEogEams about the
relationship between people and the
enviEonment. ("About Living Landscapes. .."
info/mandate.html, 9 January 2003).
What set the "Living Landscapes" site
apaEt fEom other Web pages that dealt
with the histoEy of the Okanagan at that
time, however, was the quantity and quality of its content. Unlike otheE sites that
exploEed one facet ofthe Eegion, oe possibly offeEed EeseaEcheES only a biblio-
gEaphical list of otheE mateEial that was
available in hard copy, the "Living Landscapes" site contained entiEe theses and
majoE EeseaEch aEticles on a wide vaEiety
of subjects. UndeE the "Human and
Natural HistoEy ResouEces" page re-
seaEcheES can find the afoEementioned
theses, articles, and abstEacts, a census
database foEthe Eegion (1877-1891),historic documents and photogEaphs, a
seaEchable index to seventy-five yeaES of
the Okanagan HistoEical Society's Joue-
nal, and a bold initiative to digitize the
EecoEds (an estimated 16,000 pages), or
the 1974 Okanagan Basin Agreement!
There aEe also otheE sections of the site
that deal with cuEEent EeseaEch pEojects,
and, until Eecently a NewsletteE that detailed Eecent events involving "Living
In 1997, the RBCM announced that
it would woEk with the Columbia Basin Trust on a two-yeaE pEoject to expand the EeseaEch focus of Living Landscapes into the Kootenays thEough the
CEeation of "Columbia Basin: Past,
Present and FutuEe." Much like the
Thompson-Okanagan site, the Columbia section provides EeseaEcheES with an
invaluable EesouEce on the human and
natural histoEy of the Eegion. Foe example, the pages dealing with the history
of agEicultuEe in the East Kootenay pEO-
vides visitoES with an inteEesting numbeE
of links that underscoEe the importance
of the ranching industEy to the social
and economic development of the aEea.
In 2000, the thiEd, and what might be
final, stage of "Living Landscapes" was
added with the "UppeE FEaseE Basin: Past,
PEesent and FutuEe" (identified as the
aEea compEising Williams Lake to BuEns
Lake to Mackenzie). Unlike the otheE
sections, the content within the UppeE
FEaseE Basin section has not been fully
developed.TheEe aEe as many overviews
of potential pEojects listed as theEe aEe
actual completed studies. This could be
due in part to funding cutbacks that oc-
cuEEed at the RBCM in MaEch of 2000
and have impacted the operation of the
vaEious "Living Landscapes" sites.These
cutbacks aEe of ceEtain conceEn to EeseaEcheES who Eely upon "Living Landscapes" as a EesouEce on these InteEioE
Eegions. It Eemains to be seen what will
become of the site, and how it will be
updated and kept relevant as a significant EesouEce.^^
43 Federation News
See You in Prince George
Be sure to mark 8-11 May on your calendar
to join us at the conference in Prince George.
The program (see page 39) offers participants
a unique look at BC's industrial heritage and
its economic, technological, social and cultural impact on communities in British Columbia's North.
Your hosts will be the University of Northern BC in partnership with other educational
institutions and community organizations.
The conference will offer tours and presentations focusing on events that and people
who have shaped the North. Included in the
program are: a tour of former sawmill communities', a visit to the historic Carrier cemetery and church of the Lheidli T'enneh
Nation; a walking tour of the downtown area;
a slide show on urban planning history at
the Prince George public library; a tour of
the North's industrial and transportation artifacts at the Prince George Railway and
Forestry Museum; and a culinary evening at
the College of New Caledonia.
A one-day book fair is also scheduled offering publications from local vendors and book
publishers. The conference will conclude
with an Awards Banquet at UNBC.
For more information contact:
Conference Chair, Ramona Rose c/o
Northern BC Archives, UNBC, 3333
University Way, Prince George, BC V2N
4Z9 Phone: 250.960.6603; Fax:
250.960.6610 <>
A subcsription form is provided with this
As you may have noticed, the caption of the
photograph on page 39 of the previous issue
(36/1) contains an error. Lily Chow is not
chairperson of the Prince George Canada-
China Friendship Associaton but the chair
ofthe Chinese Heritage Preservation Committee.
New Members
The Federation welcomes new members
Delta Museum and Archives and the The
Riondel & Area Historical Society. For
information on memberships and to receive
membership application forms please contact Federation Secretary Ron Hyde at the
address shown on the opposite inside cover.
Free Workshops
We owe a warm
"thank you" to
Canada's National
History Society,
(publishers of The Beaver) for their generous
grant allowing us to offer two free workshops in Prince George onThursday, 8 May.
Also presenters Dr. Maija Bismanis and Linda
Wills, and moderator Jacqueline Gresko deserve our gratitude. A special thanks goes to
organizer and co-ordinator Melva Dwyer.
More information and a subscription form
are provided with this issue.
We Can't Give What We Don't Have
In the winter of 2001/2002 the Federation
started an endowment fund to help promote
a wider interest in the history of this province. As you may understand this endowment
fund is still in an infant state and we are not
in a position yet to consider supporting any
projects. Ronald Greene, the Federation's
treasurer, invites you to contact him if you
are interested to help build up the fund. Small
annual donations, occasional gifts, or bequests
allow the fund to grow. Meanwhile, if you
need funding we unfortunately can't help you
as yet.
Nominations Wanted
Any member with a great desire or wish to
serve on the Federation's executive should
contact the members of the nominations
committee: Wayne Desrochers or Ron
Welwood. Addresses and phone numbers can
be found on the inside of the front cover.
MANUSCRIPTS submitted for publication in BC Historical News should be sent
to the editor in Whonnock. Submissions should preferably not exceed 3,500
words. Submission by e-mail ofthe manuscript   and illustrations is welcome.
Otherwise please send a hard copy and if possible a digital copy ofthe manuscript by ordinary mail. All illustrations should have a caption and source information. It is understood that manuscripts published in BC Historical News will
also appear in any electronic version ofthe journal.
W. Kaye Lamb
Essay Scholarships
Deadline 15 May 2003
The British Columbia Historical Federation
awards two scholarships annually for essays
written by students at BC colleges or
universities on a topic relating to British
Columbia history. One scholarship ($500)
is for an essay written by a student in a first -
or second-year course; the other ($750) is
for an essay written by a student in a third-
or fourth-year course.
To apply for the scholarship, candidates
must submit (1) a letter of application; (2)
an essay of 1,500-3,000 words on a topic
relating to the history of British Columbia;
(3) a letter of recommendation from the
professor for whom the essay was written.
Applications should be submitted before
15 May 2003 to: Robert Griffin, Chair BC
Historical Federation Scholarship Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B.Victoria, BC
V8R 6N4.
The winning essay submitted by a third-
or fourth-year student will be published in
BC Historical News. Other submissions may
be published at the editor's discretion.
BC History
Web Site Prize
The British Columbia Historical Federation and David Mattison are jointly sponsoring a yearly cash award of $250 to recognize Web sites that contribute to the understanding and appreciation ofBritish Columbia's past. The award honours individual
initiative in writing and presentation.
Nominations for the BC History Web
Site Prize for 2003 must be made to the
British Columbia Historical Federation.
Web Site Prize Committee, prior to 31 December 2003. Web site creators and authors
may nominate their own sites.
Prize rules and the on-line nomination
form can be found on The British Columbia History Web site:  <http://
Best Article Award
A Certificate of Merit and fifty dollars
will be awarded annually to the author of
the article, published in BC Historical News,
that best enhances knowledge of British Columbia's history and provides reading enjoyment. Judging will be based on subject
development, writing skill, freshness of material, and appeal to a general readership interested in all aspects of BC history
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.36 No. 2 jftritish Columbia ffCistorical {Federation
Organized 31 October 1922
Affiliated Groups
Archives Association of British Columbia
Women's History Network of British Columbia
Member Societies
Alberni District Historical Society
PO Box 284, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 7M7
Anderson Lake Historical Society
PO Box 40, D'Arcy BC VON 1L0
Arrow Lakes Historical Society
PO Box 819, Nakusp BC VOG 1R0
Atlin Historical Society
PO Box 111, Atlin BC V0W1A0
Boundary Historical Society
PO Box 1687, Grand Forks BC  VOH 1H0
Bowen Island Historians
PO Box 97. Bowen Island, BC VON 1G0
Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society
Box 2615, Smithers BC  VOj 2N0
Burnaby Historical Society
6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby BC V5G 3T6
Chemainus Valley Historical Society
PO Box 172, Chemainus BC VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society
PO Box 1014, Duncan BC V9L 3Y2
Delta Museum and Archive
4858 Delta Street, Delta BC  V4K 2T8
District 69 Historical Society
PO Box 1452, Parksville BC V9P 2H4
East Kootenay Historical Association
PO Box 74, Cranbrook BC  VIC 4H6
Finn Slough Heritage & Wetland Society
9480 Dyke Road, Richmond BC V7A 2L5
Fraser Heritage Society
Box 84, Harrison Mills, BC   VOM 1L0
Galiano Museum Society
20625 Porlier Pass Drive
Galiano Island BC VON 1P0
Gray Creek Historical Society
Box 4, Gray Creek, BC VOB ISO
Gulf Islands Branch BCHF
c/o A. Loveridge S22, CI 1, RR # 1
Galiano Island BC VON 1P0
Hedley Heritage Society
PO Box 218, Hedley BC   VOX 1K0
Jewish Historical Society of BC
206-950 West 41st Avenue,
Vancouver BC  V5Z 2N7
Kamloops Museum Association
207 Seymour Street, Kamloops BC V2C 2E7
Koksilah School Historical Society
5213 Trans Canada Highway
Koksilah, BC VOR 2C0
Kootenay Lake Historical Society
PO Box 537, Kaslo BC VOG 1M0
Langley Centennial Museum
PO Box 800, Fort Langley BC VIM 2S2
Lantzville Historical Society
c/o Box 274, Lantzville BC  VOR 2H0
Lions Bay Historical Society
Box 571, Lions Bay BC VON 2E0
London Heritage Farm Society
6511 Dyke Road, Richmond BC V7E 3R3
Maple Ridge Historical Society
22520 116thAve.,Maple Ridge,BCV2X0S4
Nanaimo & District Museum Society
100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo BC V9R 2X1
Nanaimo Historical Society
PO Box 933, Nanaimo BC V9R 5N2
Nelson Museum
402 Anderson Street, Nelson BC V1L 3Y3
North Shore Historical Society
c/o 1541 Merlynn Crescent,
NorthVancouver BC V7J 2X9
North Shuswap Historical Society
Box 317, Celista BC VOE 1L0
Okanagan Historical Society
PO Box 313,Vernon BC V1T 6M3
Princeton & District Museum & Archives
Box 281, Princeton BC VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical Society
587 Beach Road,
Qualicum Beach BC V9K 1K7
Revelstoke & District Historical Association
Box 1908, Revelstoke BC VOE 2S0
Richmond Museum Society
Minoru Park Plaza, 7700 Minoru Gate,
Richmond BC V6Y 7M7
The Riondel & Area Historical Society
Box 201, Riondel BC VOB 2B0
Salt Spring Island Historical Society
129 McPhillips Avenue,
Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2T6
Silvery Slocan Historical Society
Box 301, New Denver BCV0G ISO
Surrey Historical Society
Box 34003 17790 #10 Hwy Surrey BC   V3S 8C4
Terrace Regional Historical Society
PO Box 246,Terrace BC V8G 4A6
Texada Island Heritage Society
Box 129,  Blubber Bay BC VON 1E0
Trail Historical Society
PO Box 405,Trail BC V1R 4L7
Union Bay Historical Society
Box 448, Union Bay, BC VOR 3B0
Vancouver Historical Society
PO Box 3071,Vancouver BC V6B 3X6
Victoria Historical Society
PO Box 43035, Victoria North
Victoria BC   V8X 3G2
Williams Lake Museum and Historical Society
113-4th Avenue North
Williams Lake BC V2G 2C8
Yellowhead Museum
Box 1778, RR# 1, Clearwater BC VOE 1N0
The British Columbia
Historical Federation is an
umbrella organization
embracing regional
Local historical societies
are entitled to become
Member Societies ofthe
BC Historical Federation
All members of these local
historical societies shall by
that very fact be members
ofthe Federation,
Affiliated Groups are
organizations with
specialized interests or
objects of a historical
Membership fees for both
classes of membership are
one dollar per member of
a Member Society or
Affiliated Group with a
minimum membership fee
of $25 and a maximum of
Memberships for 2003
are now due. Please do
pay promptly.
Questions about
membership should be
directed to:
Ron Hyde, Secretary
BC Historical Federation
#20   12880 Railway Ave,
Richmond  BC V7E 6K4
Phone: 604.277.2627
British Columbia Historical Federation is a charitable society under the income tax act Return Address:
British Columbia Historical News
Joel Vinge, Subscription Secretary
561 Woodland Drive
Cranbrook,   BC    VIC 6V2
Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40025793
Publications Mail Registration No. 09835
We acknowledge the financial support of the   Government of Canada, through the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), toward our mailing costs.
Contact us:
BC Historical News welcomes
stories, studies, and news items
dealing with any aspect of the
history of British Columbia, and
British Columbians.
Please submit manuscripts for
publication to the Editor,
BC Historical News, Fred Braches,
PO Box 130,
Whonnock BC,V2W 1V9.
Phone: 604.462.8942
Send books for review and book
reviews directly to the Book Review Editor, BC Historical News,
AnneYandle, 3450 West 20th
Avenue, Vancouver BC V6S 1E4,
Phone: 604.733.6484
Please send correspondence about
subscriptions to
Subscription Secretary, Joel Vinge
561 Woodland Drive
Cranbrook BC VIC 6V2
Phone/Fax: 250.489.2490
Subscriptions: $15.00 per year
For addresses outside Canada add $10.00
Any book presenting any facet ofBC history, published in 2003, 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." Note that
reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
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.
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.
Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award and an invitation
to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Nanaimo in May 2004.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in
2003 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two
copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property
of the BC Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone
number of sender, the selling price of all editions of the book, and, if the
reader has to shop by mail, the address from which it may be purchased,
including applicable shipping and handling costs.
SEND TO:   BC Historical Federation Writing Competition
PO Box 130, Whonnock BC  V2W 1V9
DEADLINE: 31 December 2003


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