British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1994

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Volume 28, No. 1
Winter 1994-95
ISSN 1195-8294
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Steamboats, Sleighs and Stagecoaches MEMBER SOCIETIES
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Financially assisted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture through the British Columbia
Heritage Trust Fund and British Columbia Lotteries. Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Volume 28, No. 1 Winter 1994-95
It is always a pleasure to present our readers with a variety of facts and facets of B.C.
history. It is especially encouraging when we
include new names among those of regular
contributors. Ernest Harris writes of
Englewood where he taught when young; that
community no longer exists. Tom Parkin obviously enjoys his role as historian/public relations officer for the Department of Highways.
Sam Holloway writes of and from the Yukon.
We peek at the politics of Finnish immigrants
in Sointula and elsewhere. For those who
enjoy the romance of riverboats, Ted Affleck
has explained the activities on a northern river.
And we found a lady in Cranbrook with a neat
story set in the Cariboo. We hope that you
enjoy these and all the others past, present
and yet to come.
Have you, or someone you know, got a
favorite story of local happenings? If so, why
don't you share it with readers of this magazine? How about inviting a friend to join your
local historical society? British Columbia is
relatively young, which makes it easy to envision the situations we read about.
My own New Year's resolution is to promote
interest in and enthusiasm for the many heritage treasures we have in British Columbia.
Naomi Miller
These riverboats plied the Stikine River. Left
to right: the CPR sternwheelers Hamlin,
Ogilvie, McConnell and Duchesnay lay up at
Wrangell in August 1898 after a short and
unprofitable steamboating season on the
Photo courtesy of Yukon Archives/University
of Washington Collection, Print #1330.
Company Towns: Especially Englewood 2
by E.A. Harris
The "Neweete War" 6
by Lesley Cooper
The David McLoughlin Story   10
by Carle Jones
Road to the Pacific Rim    13
by Tom Parkin
Navigation on the Stikine River 15
by Edward L. Affleck
Finnish Immigrants and Their Political Ideology 20
by Rick James
The Story of Edna Eldorado 25
by Sam Holloway
The Plight of Rural Women Teachers in the 1920s    26
by Robert Wright
The Stagecoach and The Sleigh on the Kootenay Flats 29
by Edward L. Affleck
Christmas in Sumas in the 1870s 31
by Shirley Cuthbertson
Commander Charles Rufus Robson, RN    32
by Paul C. Appleton
The Bridge That Jack Built 34
by Alice Bjorn
NEWS and NOTES  35
Dictionary of Canadian Biography  36
Review by Melva Dwyer
Cancelled with Pride       36
Review by Francis Sleigh
The Legacy and The Challenge: Forest Industry at Cowichan Lake      37
Review by Ken Drushka
Whistle Punks and Widow Makers       37
Review by Jim Bowman
Taku: The Heart of North America's Last Wilderness        38
Review by George Newell
Far Pastures         38
Review by George Newell
TraU to the Interior    38
Review by George Newell
The Skyline Limited: The Kaslo and Slocan Railway      39
Review by Edward L. Affleck
Seven Knot Summers      40
Review by Philip Teece
Manuscripts and correspondence to the editor are to be sent to P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0.
Correspondence regarding subscriptions is to be directed to the Subscription Secretary (see inside back cover).
Printed in Canada by Koolenay Kwik Print Lid. Company Towns, Especially Englewood
by E.A. Harris
The company town has been a feature of British Columbia's history since
the first colonial days. The fur-trading
posts established during the first half of
the 19th century were, in effect, embryo
company towns. The cities of Victoria,
Nanaimo, Kamloops and Prince George
all originated as Hudson's Bay Company
- or North West Company - forts and,
although the fur-trade is now a marginal
occupation, present-day towns like Fort
Nelson and Fort St. John still retain their
fur-trade names.
Most company towns were single industry communities based on
such resource
enterprises as
mining, lumbering, pulp and
and salmon-
canning. The
most complete
type of company town was
where the company was the
sole proprietor
the employees occupied rented
and dealt at the
company store.
Anyox, at the
head of Observatory Inlet, was a town of
this type. Established by the Granby Company in 1912, it depended on a rich copper mine and smelter for its prosperity.
The company employed a large work
force and for over two decades Anyox
was, after Prince Rupert, the biggest town
on the north coast - with a peak population of 2,500.
For over twenty years Anyox was a
very profitable operation. The mine and
smelter produced a steady stream of
copper ingots, as well as considerable
amounts of gold and silver. This mining
activity provided steady employment for
a large work force but this economic
prosperity was offset by some damaging side effects: sulphur fumes from the
smelter killed the trees in the surrounding forest and seepage from the mine
polluted local streams. In 1935, due to
low copper prices and lower production, Anyox was closed down and most
of the town's population departed, leaving what had become a kind of wasteland. The town's population dwindled
and in 1939 the post office was closed.
In 1942 a forest fire destroyed the dead
trees and Anyox's abandoned wooden
buildings - the once active mining cen-
Wood & English sawmill at Englewood in 1928. Docks to tbe right and upper townsite to tbe left.
Photo courtesy of the author
tre was now a ghost town. But as the
human population vanished, natural
vegetation began to restore itself. Pete
Louden, who lived his boyhood years
in Anyox until 1935, made a return visit
to the abandoned townsite in 1971. He
wrote: "In Anyox today one can find a
few traces of wooden roads and a few
open areas which were once dirt roads,
but generally the growth of the
underbrush is so dense that a stranger
would find traces of the town only by
In British Columbia over the years
many company and one-industry towns
have come and gone. Some like Anyox
have grown and prospered while others have maintained at least a nominal
existence under different circumstances.
Powell River began as a typical pulp and
paper company town and continues in
that capacity, but on a much wider municipal base. Ocean Falls, up coast from
Powell River, was less fortunate.
Founded in 1917, Ocean Falls produced
many tons of paper products. This company town was also famous for its basketball teams, swimming champions and
super abundant rainfall. The plant was
closed in 1980 but a handful of permanent residents
keep Ocean
Falls from becoming a
ghost town.
Britannia, a
former copper
mining company town on
Howe Sound,
now survives
as a museum
and tourist attraction.
once the site
of a great mine
above the
River southeast of
Princeton, has
become a retirement and residential village. Chemainus on Vancouver Island
has changed from sawmiUing to tourism, with huge outdoor murals as attractions for visitors.
In 1953 the Aluminum Company of
Canada established Kitimat as a carefully planned town hoping to achieve a
workable balance between corporate
and municipal controls. After clearing a
portion of the dense rain-forest, the
townsite was divided into industrial,
commercial and residential areas with
allowances for road, rail and seaport
construction and today Kitimat functions
as planned.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 Jo
COVE       \
Englewood and environs.
Sketch courtesy of the author
However company towns can still disappear with dramatic suddenness. For a
number of productive years, Cassiar, near
the province's northern boundary, was a
busy community dependent on its open-
pit asbestos mine. In 1992 when the operation became uneconomic and ceased
operating, the population had no alternative but to leave and hope to find employment elsewhere. Today Cassiar stands
empty and abandoned.
Englewood was another small company town, located on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island,
which died more than forty years
ago leaving few traces of its existence. It was founded in 1925,
centered around a sawmill owned
and operated by the firm of Wood
& English - hence the name
Englewood. Timber for the new
sawmill would be brought by logging trains from camps around
Nimpkish Lake. This logging railway had been in operation for several years with a coastal terminus
at the mouth ofthe Nimpkish River
where the logs were boomed and
towed to mills elsewhere. There
was a small terminal village consisting of a mess hall-bunkhouse,
several cottages, and a one-room
schoolhouse. These buildings
were later moved
to new sites at
Englewood. The
move was necessary because the
Nimpkish river
mouth did not
provide enough
protection or
depth of water for
the deep-sea
freighters that
would be calling
at the sawmill to
take on lumber
cargos. A mile or
so of track was
torn up and the
line redirected
south over a low
ridge and by a
switchback down
past the sawmill
to tidewater.
A trestle was
built close to the
cove's rocky north shoreline from which
the logging trains spilled their loads into
the water to be readied for entry into
the mill. This trestle was extended to a
second dock to serve the coastal steamers that made twice-a-week calls, bringing freight and passengers. On this wharf
a two-storey building was erected - the
ground floor was occupied by the company-owned general store and the second storey provided space for a
community hall.
The houses moved from Nimpkish
were relocated on the very limited sites
available near the coastal-steamer dock.
The two-storey bunkhouse-mess hall
was squeezed on to a narrow ledge
between the trestle and the steep hillside. The company office was placed
on its own set of pilings near the coastal-
steamer dock.
A small creek flowed into this corner
of Beaver Cove and a dam was built
about half a mile upstream to provide a
water supply for the mill and the community. The sawmill was built on the
level area at the mouth of this creek and
many piles were driven to construct a
large loading dock to serve the deep-
sea freighters that would be coming for
lumber cargos. The valley bowl behind
the mill was cleared to enlarge the
townsite. The clearing was done hastily
and the array of stumps that resulted
was not a pretty sight.
A neat row of houses was built on
the north slope below the rail line for
management personnel and their families, with a wide boardwalk leading
down to the sawmill and dock areas.
On the opposite slope housing was
erected for several Japanese families, as
well as two large bunkhouses for single
men. The one-room schoolhouse, which
was one of the buildings moved from
Nimpkish River, provided an adequate
classroom for some twenty-seven pupils in grades one to eight. The school
was placed at the extreme upper edge
of the townsite with a fine view of the
Looking down on Beaver Cove. Kokish River mouth and Beaver Cove settlement (lower left). Smoke
cloud shows Englewood's location. Alert Bay on Cormorant Island (beyond point).
Photo courtesy of the author
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 Englewood's stump-studded upper townsite. Management homes and tennis court (upper left).
Japanese bunkhouses (centre). Logging railway crosses tbe pboto midway to switchback uphill
behind tbe bouses. School was located at extreme left (out of pboto).
Photo courtesy of the author.
harbour and the settlement, marred only
by the foreground of stumps.
In Englewood my rent-free abode was
a three-room cottage, built on skids and
located conveniently next to the school.
A dozen or more of these semi-mobile
homes were scattered about the townsite
and occupied by mill employees.
My abode was at first not connected
with the community's light and water
systems and I had to make do with oil
lamps and buckets of water carried from
a nearby spring.
However there was never a shortage
of mill edgings and slabs for fuel. This
was sometimes augmented by lumps of
coal the train crew slid off the
tender to the Shay-geared locomotive - the five spot - as it
puffed up the grade with a string
of empty log cars.
At that time, except for a short
road across the northern tip,
there were no highways in
northern Vancouver Island and
Englewood had no automobiles.
A small motorized and modified
rail-car ran daily errands up and
down the rail-line to the logging
camps. In the millyard, long-legged Ross carriers toted under-
slung loads of lumber that
mobile cranes piled high for the
incoming deep-sea freighters.
Most of Englewood's output was
destined for markets on the east
coast of the United States so that
the ships had to make the long journey
through the Panama Canal. No doubt
other cargos were transported between
ports en route. The ships were empty
when they reached Englewood - except
for an occasional stowaway. One day a
five-foot-long snake, fortunately dead,
was discovered among the stumps at the
edge of our school playground. It was a
handsome animal - green with an intricate design in black and yellow along
its back. It must have unwittingly embarked at some Central American port,
only to come ashore on the cool damp
coast of northern Vancouver Island
which even the little garter snakes of
the Lower Mainland found inhospitable.
Englewood was a hive of industry up until 1930 with two
and sometimes three shifts at
work. The plant was a typical
west-coast sawmill that operated
efficiently but somewhat waste-
fully. Sharp-toothed bandsaws
sliced huge hemlock logs into
beams and boards which were
piled for export. Some of the
waste wood was used for fuel
but most of it went into the beehive burner that emitted a pretty
constant cloud of smoke and
ash. In 1929 some of the waste
was reduced by the installation
of a chipper-plant and scow-
loads of wood chips were towed
away to coastal pulp mills.
Englewood shared Beaver
Cove with two other communities. The
nearest, at the cove's southwest corner,
a five-minute boat ride away, was also
named Beaver Cove. It was located at
the mouth of the Kokish River, a considerable stream, much larger than
Englewood's small creek. Beaver Cove
originated as an incipient company town
in connection with a pulp mill that was
established more than a decade before
After a few years of activity, Beaver
Cove's pulp mill closed down and was
never re-opened. A caretaker was left
in charge and most of the houses remained unoccupied. Some of the resi-
Englewood lower townsite SS Catala at coastal-steamer dock. Logging trains spilled their loads (at
left) to be held in booms for entry into mill
Photo courtesy of the author
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 dents later obtained jobs in Englewood,
commuting across the cove by boat. Others eked out a living with some marginal agriculture and there were enough
children to maintain another one-room
A third tiny settlement, near
the cove's entrance, was located beside a pocket-sized
harbour called Telegraph
Cove - so called because the
government had established
a telegraph station there in
1911. In 1928 Telegraph Cove
had a small sawmill, a wharf,
and a few houses clinging to
the rocky shoreline. It was a
picturesque spot and much
photographed. Today Telegraph Cove is a rendezvous
for whale watchers - the rubbing area of Robson Bight
being just to the south.
Two other places beyond
Beaver Cove but within
small-boat range of
Englewood were Alert Bay,
located on Cormorant Island
in Johnston Strait, and the Finnish settlement of Sointula on nearby Malcolm
Island. Alert Bay, with its large native
population, had an impressive array of
Kwakiutl totems. Alert Bay was a port
of call for most of the many steamers
that used to ply B.C.'s coastal waters. It
also had a hospital operated then by the
Anglican Church whose mission ship
Columbia, with a doctor on board, was
a frequent visitor to Englewood. The
United Church minister in Alert Bay had
a smaller boat for coastal visits and held
Sunday services in Englewood for a
small but dedicated congregation.
Englewood was a work-oriented
place, a company town with no deep
roots (except for the stumps). However
the residents were neighbourly with a
good community spirit. Dances were
held fairly often in the spacious hall
above the company store, with music
provided by a local pianist or by a
gramophone. Bridge was a popular pastime and other card games had their
devotees too.
By the combined efforts of willing
volunteers, a tennis court was constructed on the upper townsite. It was
made of two-by-fours placed on edge
and set about a quarter of an inch apart.
This provided a good solid surface that
dried quickly, with no puddles after a
shower. The court was of standard size
and enclosed within a high meshed
fence. The tennis may not have been
up to Davis Cup standards but it pro-
Deep-sea freighters loading at Englewood's lumber dock. Cargos for
tbe east coast went via tbe Panama Canal
Photo courtesy of J. Macmilan
vided enjoyable recreation for a wide
range of participants.
Baseball fans also had their innings.
In the spring of 1929 a fairly level shoulder on the south slope was levelled off
for a ball field. On fine work-free days
shouts of "batter up" and "play ball"
enlivened the community.
By the later 1920s radio reception was
becoming much more available in places
like Englewood. The owners of new battery-powered sets, equipped with loudspeakers, often invited neighbours in just to
listen to the radio and marvel at hearing
words and music from all across North
America and even overseas. Radio also provided the latest stock-market quotations.
Some Englewood residents, like many others, were eager investors. When, later in
1929, the stock-market crash occurred, most
of the paper profits vanished but, at first,
few realized that the world was heading
into the great slump of the 1930s.
It soon became obvious that a worldwide depression was setting in with
much diminished international trade. By
1931, due to the loss of its lumber markets, Englewood sawmill closed down
and most employees had no choice but
to go somewhere else to get jobs.
Englewood never regained its former
productivity and for some years functioned as a mere booming ground for
logs that were towed away to other mills.
In 1952 Canadian Forest Products obtained a forest management licence for
the Nimpkish region with headquarters
at Woss Lake. The rail-line
was moved from Englewood
to a new coastal terminus at
the mouth of the Kokish
River near the older settlement of Beaver Cove. This
logging railway is still operational - the last of its kind.
The logs are taken to CanFor
plants like Eburne Sawmills
at the mouth of the Fraser in
Englewood was abandoned years ago and a visitor today, who could now
drive to the Beaver Cove area
and beyond, would have difficulty finding any traces of
Wood & English's company.
No buildings remain - they
were moved or dismantled
when Englewood was abandoned. After more than forty years, the
boardwalks and the tennis court have
disappeared and a renewed forest has
grown up over what was once the
stumpy upper townsite. About the only
signs that there was once a settlement
there are some old pilings along the
shoreline - relics of the rail-trestle and
the docks. However the name
"Englewood" still survives in Canadian
Forest Products' Englewood Logging
Division and in the memories of individuals who lived there for some part
of their lives.
Ernest Harris taught in Englewood
when be was a young man. He later
taught in Vancouver. Several stories, illustrated with his own cartoons, have
appeared in tbe News previously. He
published Spokeshute the story of Port
Essington, in 1990.
Louden, Tbe Town Tijat Got Lust, Gray Publishing.
Akriggs, 1007 B.C. Place Names. Vancouver Discovery
Press, 1970.
Tbe Canadian Encyclopedia, Hurtig, 19H8.
Canadian Forest Products Publications, 1993.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 The "Neweete War
by Lesley Cooper
Here I am and others like seeds
floated from a foreign shore, bringing a new philosophy, power, and
artificial resulting mode of living
among these natural men and natural forests. What will be the result?
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken1
When Dr. Helmcken wrote in 1890 of
his experiences at the coal-mining post
of Fort Rupert during 1850, he created a
considerable narrative regarding
the nature of native-white relations at the fort
that would be of
great use in the
future. By combining these
with the colonial
despatches and
company correspondence, it is
possible to construct a picture of
the multicultural
cauldron of unrest that was Fort
Rupert in 1850-
In July 1850 an isolated incident of
violence between white and native took
place that was the unhappy result of
cross-cultural misconception. Three seamen who had deserted from the service
ofthe HBC Norman Morison were murdered by three men of the Newitty
Kwakiutl tribe.
The extant historiography of this incident has become muddled as time separates the event from its documentation.
This paper will call upon primary sources
to draw some conclusions about what
HBC secretary Archibald Barclay termed
a "most melancholy affair."2 These sources
include the despatches of Governor
Richard Blanshard; correspondence outward of Chief Factor James Douglas; and
the reminiscences of Dr. J.S. Helmcken,
the first appointed magistrate for the
colony of Vancouver's Island.
Fort Rupert was constructed on Beaver Harbour, at the north end of Vancouver Island, as a coal-mining post.3
Built in 1849 on the orders of Sir George
Simpson and under the direction of Chief
Trader William McNeill, the post reflected the traditional HBC post-and-sill
style of timber frame construction.4 The
customary rectangular palisade, the fort
housed a community that was anything
Fort Rupert did not stand in isolation from tbe surrounding Kwakiutl As
tbe new fort began, tbe Indians from nearby areas settled by tbe fort, using
of their longbouses.
but traditional - in a short period of time
it became a maelstrom of discontent. The
population of the fort (largely miners)
consisted of around thirty-five men,
women and children of diverse cultures:
English, Scotch, French-Canadian, half-
breed and Kanaka, as well as the
Tsimpshian and Kaigani Haida wives of
the French-Canadian men.5
The fort did not stand in isolation from
the surrounding Kwakiutl tribes. As soon
as construction on the new fort commenced, the Indians from nearby areas
began to settle immediately beside the
fort, utilizing its walls for the support of
their longhouses.6 At least four tribes of
the Kwakiutl Indians moved to Fort
Rupert after 1849, causing by their migration much confusion regarding the
standing of the various tribes.7 The na
tive population in the area was between
2,500 and 3,000, representing at least
one-third of the total Kwakiutl population at the time.8 The natives traded in
fur and salmon at the new post, and
also continued to dig the surface coal
and carry it to the waiting ships in their
canoes as they had for a decade. When
the HBC commenced with underground
coal mining, these natives were initially
upset with this competition with their
enterprise, an activity that had
been the means
of acquiring
trade goods long
before the creation of Fort
Rupert. The
Kwakiutl were
not the only malcontents.
Neither were
the HBC coal
miners led by
John Muir
pleased with the
organization of
the mining effort.
Brought out
from England on
contracts at variance from the traditional HBC indenture, the journeyman colliers were
displeased with the menial labour they
were expected to perform (e.g. ditch-
digging), and by the spring of 1850 were
in high revolt.9 By the beginnning of
July, the miners, their wives and the
general labourers had all expressed their
displeasure. There was simply not
enough incentive to remain at an isolated post under the harsh shipboard-
style command of McNeill, ill-fed and
surrounded by thousands of potentially
dangerous Indians.10 This was 1850 and
the call to gold that reverberated up and
down the northwest coast from California clearly held more promise of adventure and easy money.11
By the sixth of July, the nine Kanaka
HBC employees had quit the confines
soon as construction on
its walls for tbe support
Lesley Cooper sketch
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 of the fort when their contract expired;
the six miners of the Muir party and the
blacksmith had deserted the fort and
were camped out at Suquash, near the
camp of the friendly Newitty Kwakiutl;
the miners' wives had also deserted and
were refuged on board
the barque England lying at anchor in Beaver
Harbour; and McNeill
was on furlough in Victoria, having left his
young son-in-law
George Blenkinsop in
command. The disturbed state of the white
population was well
known by the Kwakiutl,
whose trading and normal post-related activities were affected as
well. Dr. J.S. Helmcken,
recently burdened with
the office of magistrate
(an office rendered almost invalid for lack of
support), recorded that
"anarchy reigned - hell
and earth seemed mingled - mutiny within, a
couple of thousand excited Indians without
and around."12 The next day, the first
rumours of a murder committed near
Newitty began to circulate. By the ninth
of July, it was confirmed that three English seamen had been murdered, and
suddenly the issues of personnel conflict within the fort took second place
to the perceived threat existing without.13
On June 27 the Beaver had arrived at
Fort Rupert on her way north. Captain
Dodd delivered to Dr. Helmcken the
advice that Governor Blanshard had
appointed him as magistrate for the Fort
Rupert district; Blanshard also wished
Helmcken to investigate the circumstances of the miners' strike and the
complaint of unfair punishment meted
out by McNeill and Blenkinsop. Aware
of Helmcken's new status, the captain
now complained to the new magistrate
that four of his men had deserted the
Beaver 2X Victoria and were believed to
be aboard the England. With little hope
of recruiting more personnel from within
the tiny colony, he wanted his men to
return to the vessel.14 The Englandhad
arrived in Beaver Harbour earlier in June
and was lying at anchor, taking on coal
before departing to San Francisco.
Helmcken searched the ship, but found
nothing. After the departure of the Beaver, he urged Captain Brown of the Eng-
Sources: "Trutch Map," 1871, and A.L
Farley, Atlas of British Columbia (1979).
Sketch map by Lesley Cooper, 1994
land to get the deserting men back on
board, being highly concerned for their
safety. Indians reported to the fort at
about this time that they had seen three
men on a nearby island and, supposing
these to be some of the six deserting
miners, Blenkinsop asked a friendly
Quochold chief named Whale to go and
persuade the men to return to the fort,
promising him a reward for each man
who returned. The promise of reward,
conveyed in French, was on the basis
of par tete (per head) and may have
been misconstrued to mean "dead or
alive."15 This wording of this reward (ten
blankets for each man returned) was to
be the basis of an unsubstantiated claim
that the HBC had incited the Indians to
violence.16 Whale returned without having seen any white men on the island.
As to the deserters from the Norman
Morison, Helmcken's warning to the
captain of the England had been'in
vain.17 There were now sleepless nights
for Helmcken and Blenkinsop: as the
miners and their families returned to the
fort for protection, the two men stood
watch from the stockade walls every
night, uncertain of what the native response might be.18
James Douglas states in his communication to the governor and committee
regarding the murders (dated October
5, 1850) that HBC employee Charles
Beardmore was given
the responsibility of
finding and recovering
the bodies of the murdered. Beardmore reported to Helmcken at
Fort Rupert that the
Newitty denied responsibility for the murders,
laying the blame instead on the Haida.
They did describe to
Beardmore the location
of the bodies, about
four miles from
Sucharti; two of the
men had been shot
"about the heart" and
stripped, the third
drowned. One body
had been cached in a
hollow tree. After covering the find with
brush, Beardmore reported it to Helmcken at the fort.
Helmcken recovered the bodies himself
the next day by canoe, and the bodies
of Charles Lobb, A.F. Hale and George
Wishart were buried at the garden area
to the rear of the fort.19 Helmcken was
now worried about the safety of the fort;
the natives, knowing the disaffection of
the servants, were losing respect for the
white man. He urged Blanshard to come
to Fort Rupert.20 With Beardmore's first
report of the incident as the basic data
for this appeal, a series of actions initiated by Governor Richard Blanshard
began that only served to fan the flames
of what James Douglas eventually
termed the "Neweete War."21
Upon receipt of Helmcken's letter,
Blanshard reacted in precipitous fashion: he forbade any person from leaving Fort Rupert and wrote to Grey at
the Colonial Office in high anxiety of
the "massacre of three British Subjects."
He relayed the intimation that the HBC
had been responsible for instigating the
Indians to murder, although adding the
proviso that he had not as yet investi-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 gated the matter himself.
Blanshard stated that he had
been unable to make any attempt to secure the murderers
because of "want of force."22
When George Wellesly (HM
corvette Daedalus') arrived at
Victoria on September 22, he
carried Blanshard on to Fort
Rupert, committed to give any
assistance that might be required. Once at the fort,
Helmcken was sent to the
Newitty camp to demand the
surrender of the murderers. The
Newitty replied to Helmcken's
demand by offering furs in re-,
turn for the slain men, an appropriate payment for the
offense in their culture.23 Perhaps even this offer of payment
was considered by the Newitty
to be exorbitant, since in their
eyes the white deserters were
essentially slaves, and slaves
were accorded no status or
worth in their culture.24 This
was an unacceptable offer, and
Blanshard's response was to
have three boats of British troops from
the Daedalus go to the camp, then, finding it deserted, proceed to burn all of
the property and cedar longhouses.25
Helmcken had not been able to accept
that the Newitty were indeed responsible, considering their past friendliness,
and the day after the Daedalus returned
to Fort Rupert, he resigned as magistrate.26 A frustrated Blanshard wrote to
the Colonial Office in October that since
Helmcken was a paid servant of the
HBC, he could not be considered an
impartial person.27 In November he submitted his own resignation to the Colonial Office, citing as reason his ill health
and the heavy expenditures of office.28
In reality, Blanshard had overstepped his
authority and would be ignominiously
asked to defray the expense of the
Daedalus excursion out of his own
pocket.29 It took nine months to receive
a reply, leaving plenty of time for
Blanshard to instigate one more attack
on the Newitty.30 In the summer of 1851
the Daphne, commanded by one Captain Fanshawe, provided the means for
another firing on the Newitty that resulted
in native wounded and fatalities and destruction of their camp and provisions.
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken
Photo courtesy of BCARS 8236 F9740
As a result, the Newitty left for Sea Otter
Harbour, far to the west of their original
village.31 This action backed by the Royal
Navy also induced the Newitty to finally
give up the murderers - they executed
the guilty themselves and delivered the
bodies to the personnel of the Mary
Dare?2 The bodies ofthe murderers were
interred alongside those of their victims,
by the garden at Fort Rupert.33
As stated above, Beardmore submitted two statements to Helmcken, and
the first was erroneous.34 As an employee of the HBC, Beardmore aligned
his loyalties with the company instead
of the Crown authority - giving Douglas the account of the incident before
he submitted it to Helmcken who, as
magistrate, was the representative of the
colonial government.35 The truth of the
matter was given to Helmcken late in
August, after Blanshard had already hastily written to the Colonial Office. The
corrected account stated three Newitty
named Tackshicoate, Twankstalla and
Killonecaulla had come upon three
white men they felt to be some of the
deserting miners. They attempted to
communicate where the miners were
camped, thinking that these three men
would want to join them. The
Norman Morison deserters
misunderstood the intent ofthe
Newitty; one man brandished
an axe at the Newitty men and
another flung a rock at the
Newitty canoe and smashed it.
Thus provoked, the Newitty
stabbed the three white men
to death, stripping and concealing two of the bodies and sinking the third in the ocean.36
The bodies were found on an
island about four miles from
Sucharti, where Helmcken recovered them the next day.
The original account submitted
by Beardmore was the cause
of the inter-tribal unrest; the
fort tribes of Kwakiutl offered
to war against the Newitty on
behalf of the fort, as the proper
thing to do.37 It had created the
inference of tribal guilt by inflaming the situation beyond
the status of an isolated incident provoked by misunderstanding. It was this inference
that helped to upset the balance of native-white relations that had
been maintained under the supervision
of Chief Factor James Douglas.38
Douglas had, over the years, acquired
considerable expertise in native-white
relations. Unlike Blanshard, who felt that
"the Queen's name is a tower of strength
only when it was backed by the Queen's
bayonets," Douglas abjured the use of
the sword as being too expensive. He
wrote to Barclay that "serious disturbances may often be prevented, by good
advice alone, a course more consistent
with the dictates of humanity and more
conducive to the best interests of the
Colony ... "39 He did not share the apprehension experienced by Helmcken
and Blanshard, nor did Douglas consider
this incident to require the punishment
of an entire tribe for the guilt of a few.40
Blanshard's answer to the murders was
to confine the fort inhabitants and to
re-open his plea for a regular garrison
of troops to be stationed within the
colony.41 Douglas reiterated his belief
that the defense of the colony could be
provided for by the hiring of Metis HBC
retirees, at less cost to the company, a
solution derided by Blanshard.42 The
company made the practical recommen-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
8 dation that no further firearms be sold
to the natives until Douglas might "take
proper measures to restore a better understanding with them."43 The crux of
the situation was that the company was
responsible for the ordinary defense of
the colony, under the terms of the charter granted in 1849.44 In summary, then,
Blanshard believed in a traditional military response that did not apply to a
cultural environment managed capably
by the economically driven diplomacy
of Douglas and the fur traders, an environment that had been remarkably pacific up until the explosive events of the
summer of 1850.
Specific themes emerge from this incident: the frustration of the HBC employees who were determined to leave
unremunerative isolation for the promise of the California gold rush; the misconceptions held by the Kwakiutl
regarding the white system of labour and
punishment; and the conflicting opinions of governing and company authorities concerned with colonial defense.
Overlaid is the theme ofthe dualism that
existed in having two brands of authority at work within the tiny colony of
Vancouver's Island - Blanshard, as the
slightly regarded Colonial Office representative, and Douglas, traditionally and
effectively the authority within the
colony. It is small wonder, then, that the
Kwakiutl of the Fort Rupert district were
less than respectful and more than confused at the behaviour of the white man.
Lesley Cooper is currently a graduate
student in History at tbe University of
Vancouver Island. Despatches.
Governor Blanshard to the Secretary of State (Earl Grey).
Despatch 5.
Victoria, Vancouver Island
August 18, 1850
My Lord,
I have to inform your Lordship of the massacre of
three British Subjects by the Newitty Indians, near Fort
Rupert. Want of force has prevented me from making
any attempt to secure the murderers; indeed the only
safeguard of the Colony consists in the occasional visits
ofthe cruizers ofthe Pacific Squadron, which only occur
at rare intervals and for short calls. The massacre of these
men has produced a great effect on the white inhabitants, many of whom do not scruple to accuse the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company of having instigated
the Indians to the deed by offers of reward for the recovery of the men (sailors who had absconded) dead or
alive. I have not yet been able to enquire into the truth
of this report, but it is very widely spread, and men say
that they ground their belief on what the Hudson's Bay
Company have done before. The establishment at Fort
Rupert is in a very critical state. A letter I have received
from Mr. Helmcken, the resident Magistrate, states that
people are so excited by the massacre, which they charge
their employers with instigating; that they as a body have
refused all obedience both to their employers and to
him as Magistrate; that he is utterly unable to maintain
any authority, as they universally refuse to serve as constables, and insist upon the settlement being abandoned,
that to attempt such a step would lead to their entire
destruction, as they are surrounded by the Quarolts, one
ofthe most warlike Tribes on the Coast, three thousand
in number and well armed. Mr. Helmcken has tendered
his resignation as magistrate; as without proper support
the office merely exposes him to contempt and insult;
and he further states that being in the employ of the
Hudson's Bay Company, he cannot conscientiously decide in the cases which occur, which are almost invariably between that Company and their servants. This is
the very objection I stated to your Lordship against employing persons connected with the Company in any
public capacity in the Colony. I am in expectation of the
arrival of one of Her Majesty's ships of war, according to
the promise of Admiral Hornby, Commander-in-Chief of
the Pacific, when I shall be able to proceed to the North
and restore order. In the meantime I have prohibited any
persons from leaving Fort Rupert without special permission, as if the people attempt to abandon the settlement and straggle about the Coast they will infallibly be
cut off by the Indians, who are daily becoming more
inclined to outrage, and are emboldened by impunity.
The miners have left the Colony in a body, owing to
a dispute with their employers. The seam of coal is con-
sequendy undiscovered.
I have seen a very rich specimen of gold ore said to
have been brought by the Indians of Queen Charlotte's
Island, but 1 have at present no further account of it.
I remain, &c.
(signed) Richard Blanshard
Governor of Vancouver
1. Dorothy Blakey Smith, The Reminiscences of John
Sebastian Helmcken. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1975,
2. Fort Victoria Letters, 1846-1850, Hartwell Bowsfield,
ed. Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Company Record
Society, 1979, 175n.
3. The HBC had taken on a contract to supply the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company with coal, as part
ofthe company's ongoing diversification. W.K.
Lamb, "The Governorship of Richard Blanshard,"
BCHQ, Jan.-Apr. 1950, 8.
4. Richard and Alexander Mackie, "Roughing it in the
Colonies," The Beaver, Apr/May 1990, pp. 10-12;
Patricia M. Johnson, "Fort Rupert," The Beaver,
Spring, 1972, p. 4.
5. James Audain, From Coalmine to Castle. New York:
Pageant Press, 1955, 9; Smith, Reminiscences of J.S.
Helmcken, 303-304.
6. Ibid.
7. Johnson, "Fort Rupert," 5-
8. Wilson Duff, Tbe Indian History of British Columbia:
Vol. 1. The Impact of the White Man. Anthropology
in British Columbia Memoir no. 5, Victoria:
Provincial Museum, 1964, 39, 58; Johnson, "Fort
Rupert," 5; Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken,
9. The strike action and desertion of the Muirs is a
topic of its own, dealt with from varying
perspectives by Keith Ralston, "Miners and
Managers: The Organization of Coal Production on
Vancouver Island by the Hudson's Bay Company,
1848-1862," The Company on the Coast, Nanaimo:
Nanaimo Historical Society, 1983; and Lynn
Bowen, Three Dollar Dreams, Lantzville: Oolichan
Books, 1987. Suffice it to say that at the time of
the Newitty incident, the white population was
fully embroiled in policy-oriented conflict resulting
in strike action and desertion.
10. Lynn Bowen, Three Dollar Dreams. Lantzville:
Oolichan Books, 1987, 26, 28.
11. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 313; Bowen,
Three Dollar Dreams, 30.
12. Robin Fisher, Contact and Conflict: Indian-
European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-
1890. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1977, 50; Smith,
Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 313.
13. Fort Victoria Letters, lxxv.
14. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 310.
15. It was standard practice for the HBC to offer a
reward to natives for the return of deserting
servants. Fisher, Contact and Conflict, 50-51.
16. Johnson, "Fort Rupert," 9.
17. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 311-313
18. Ibid., 313-314.
19. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 314.
20. Fort Victoria Letters, lxxv.
21. Ibid., 227, Douglas to Barclay, 31 October 1851.
22. Vancouver Island - Despatches - Governor
Blanshard to the Secretary of State [Earl Grey] 26th
December 1849 to 30th August 1851. New
Westminster: Government Printing Office, n.d.
[hereafter Blanshardi. Despatch no. 5. See
Appendix for complete text.
23. Ibid., Despatch no. 7.
24. FLsher, Contact and Conflict, 51.
25. Blanshard, Despatch no. 7.
26. Fisher, Contact and Conflict, 51; Smith,
Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 315- Helmcken
had in fact written two resignations on July 18 -
one to Blanshard, resigning his post as magistrate,
the other to Douglas requesting permission to
retire from HBC service.
27. Blanshard, Despatch no. 7. This was but one
example of the dualism that characterized the
colony of Vancouver's Island, a dualism that
served to effect the transition from fur trading
colony to province. Beardmore's behaviour Ls
another case in point.
28. Blanshard, Despatch no. 8.
29. Fisher, Contact and Conflict, 53.
30. Fort Victoria Letters, lxxvii.
31. Fort Victoria Letters, 203-204; Douglas to Barclay, 4
August 1851.
32. Ibid., 215, Douglas to Barclay, 3 September 1851.
33. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, p. 323
34. Ibid., 317-318.
35. Lamb, "Governorship of Richard Blanshard," 12.
36. Smith, Reminiscences of J.S. Helmcken, 318.
37. Ibid., 313.
38. Fisher, Contact and Conflict, 55.
39. Fort Victoria Letters, lxxv; and 142, Douglas to
Barclay, 22 December 1850.
40. Ibid., 183, Douglas to Barclay, 16 April 1851.
41. Blanshard, Despatch no. 5
42. Dorothy Blakey Smith, James Douglas: Father of
British Columbia. Toronto: Oxford University
Press, 1971, 44; Blanshard, Despatch no. 6.
43- Fort Victoria Letters, 175n; Barclay to Douglas, 1
January 1851.
44. Smith, James Douglas, 44.
If any of our readers has information
on placer mining in B.C. during the
Depression years, please contact Mrs.
Cooper at (604) 592-7956 or by letter
c/o Dept. of History, University of Victoria, Box 3045, Victoria, B.C. V8W 3P4.
Information from anyone involved with
placer mining training schools is of special interest to this student.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 The David McLoughUn Story
by Carle Jones
Early in May 1903, a white-haired,
white-bearded old man was laid to rest
in Basil McLean's field overlooking
Porthill, in the extreme northwest corner of the Idaho Panhandle. His pallbearers were six Indian
chiefs dressed in full regalia and as Father Coccola
from the St. Eugene Mission
near Cranbrook closed his
Bible at the end of the service, he was symbolically
closing the book on one of
the most interesting periods
in the development of the
Kootenay District.
David McLoughlin was
the first white man to settle
and raise a family in the
Kootenay Flats. Owing to
circumstances, which include the loss of his diary
in a house fire which also
consumed other family
records and voluminous
nineteenth century Kootenay
weather reports, it is difficult to trace the story of his
sojourn in this area. A
resume of his forebears and his early
life may assist us in understanding his
character and activities.
David's father was John McLoughlin,
the "Father of Oregon," who from 1825
until 1845 was in charge of all Hudson's
Bay Company activities west ofthe continental divide, from Yerba Buena (now
San Francisco) in the south to the Stikine
River in the north. Headquarters were
located at Fort Vancouver (now Vancouver, Washington) on the Columbia River,
which he built in 1825.
John McLoughlin and his brother
David were born of Scottish-Irish immigrants at Riviere de Loup on the south
bank ofthe St. Lawrence River, 120 miles
downstream from Quebec City. Both
boys were educated to be doctors and
Dr. David went on to become a highly
respected physician in Paris. Dr. John
cast his lot with his maternal uncle,
Malcolm Fraser, one of the founders of
the North West Company. He soon rose
to a position in charge of all company
business in Rupert's Land, with headquarters at Fort William. It was at Fort
William that McLoughlin espoused his
Three Oregon pioneers honoured in Portland, Oregon, at tbe first (Dr.
John) McLoughlin Day celebration in 1901. From left: F.X. Mattbieu,
Sidney Moss and David McLoughUn.
Photo courtesy of the McLoughlin Memorial Association
second wife, Marguerite Wadin McKay,
halfblood Chippewan widow of North
West Company trader Alexander McKay.
Four children were born of this marriage: John, Jr.; Eliza; Eloise; and David,
this last in 1818. With the amalgamation
of the North West Company and the
Hudson's Bay Company, McLoughlin, Sr.
moved in 1821 with his family to Astoria
to take up the post of chief factor. He
subsequently became established at Fort
Many thousand words have been written about the role played by Dr. John
McLoughlin in furthering the fortunes
of the Hudson's Bay Company and encouraging settlement in Oregon Territory. At the time of his death in 1857 he
was a controversial figure, but posthumous appraisals have generally heaped
praise upon him.
McLoughlin, Sr. doubtless had a hand
in his son David's early education. In
1832 David was one of twenty-four pupils, all part Indian, enrolled in a Fort
Vancouver class under the charge of an
immigrant teacher, Mr. John Ball. David
and his older brother John were later
sent to Montreal to further
their education and still later
went to live in Paris with
their uncle David. John
qualified as a physician,
while David eventually
trained as an engineer with
the military, becoming an
ensign in the British Army
Engineers at Addiscombe
Military College. He was
gazetted to Calcutta, India,
in 1839, but his father persuaded him to relinquish the
military life and return to the
David's father purchased
a £100 share in the Hudson's
Bay Company for him and
posted him to Fort Victoria
as an apprentice clerk to
learn the fur trade under
James Douglas. In 1843 he
is noted as working in the
retail store in Fort Vancouver and in
September 1844, he was instrumental in
helping to put out a fire that could have
destroyed the entire fort. In 1845, however, he resigned from the HBC service,
ostensibly to look after his father's affairs in the Willamette Valley but, being
swept up in the gold fever of the time,
hired Indians to work for him and managed to acquire a modest fortune in gold
dust. On March 15, 1847, he was reported to have entered into partnership
with two prosperous American merchants, Mr. Pettygrove and Mr. Wilson
of Oregon City. How much of his own
money and how much of his father's
money went into the partnership venture is a matter of conjecture, but the
venture proved to be a disaster. David
sold out his partnership after three years
and went south to California on another
prosperous gold-hunting trip. It is
thought that he spent some of the early
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
10 years of the 1850s in the Clearwater River
goldfields of central Idaho. When his
father died in 1857, David sold his share
in the estate, valued at $20,000, to his
sister Eloise and her second husband,
Daniel Harvey.
From 1857 to 1865 we don't know
much of David's wanderings. About
1862 he was at Fort Shepherd, opposite
the confluence of the Pend Oreille and
Columbia Rivers (see map p. 30), either
attached to the HBC fort or to the adjacent customs. He seems also to have
been for a time a constable at Wild Horse
Creek. In 1863 he married Annie Ksooke
(Grizzly), daughter of a chief of a
Kootenai Indian band. In 1865 he is said
to have established Fort Flatbow (later
described as Little Fort Shepherd) on
Duck Creek in the Kootenay Flats, near
the point where travellers on the
Dewdney Trail had to cross the
Kootenay River. This was adjacent to a
cable ferry known as "McLoughlin's
Ferry." John Galbraith, builder of the
ferry at Fort Steele, states in a letter written in 1909 that in 1870 he visited Fort
Shepherd and found it unoccupied. Mr.
Hardisty, the factor, had apparently
given its contents to David McLoughlin
who had removed them to the Kootenay
Flats site where he had established his
ferry and a small trading post which he
operated for the Hudson's Bay Company. Around 1871 he is thought to have
moved his family to Ockonook, on the
east side of the Kootenay River, immediately south of the international boundary. There he built a log house which
became home to his large family, and
also served as a trading post as well as
a hostel for prospectors venturing downstream into the Kootenay Lake area from
Bonners Ferry. Prior to 1890, settlement
on the Kootenay Flats between Bonners
Ferry and Kootenay Lake was sketchy,
although in the summer months prospectors headed for Kootenay Lake
would rent rowboats built by the Fry
brothers at Bonners Ferry and row past
McLoughlin's door. In 1878 McLoughlin
acquired a neighbour when Yankee
prospector George Wallace Hall preempted 320 acres on the bench in the
present-day B.C. settlement of Lister, and
in 1886 J.C. Rykert, Canadian customs
agent, established a customs station immediately north of the international
boundary to intercept the Hendryx
steamboats Surprise and Galena and
other water-borne traffic working down
to Kootenay Lake from Bonners Ferry.
David and Annie McLoughlin had
seven daughters and one son. Three of
the daughters died young, one in infancy and two during an epidemic at
the De Smet Mission in Idaho where they
were attending school. The remaining
daughters married but the son, John, did
not, so the McLoughlin name was not
carried on in the Kootenay. David seems
to have been anxious that his children
receive an education. One of his
younger daughters, Amelia, told that she
had been taught to read by her father,
then at the age of six she rode her pony
some eighty miles to the St. Eugene
Mission School near Cranbrook where
she stayed six years, her parents visiting her twice a year. For some years
before a state-supported school opened
at Porthill in 1895 under Miss Agnes
McKay, David McLoughlin taught a class
which included some of his own children as well as settlers' children from
both sides of the boundary line, using a
room in Mike Driscoll's rudimentary
hotel. Pioneer Lister settler John Huscroft
told of attending David's school at
Ockonook when he was eight years old.
Because he was the best educated
man in the area and always willing to
help his fellow man, David McLoughlin
was established as a local sage among
the new settlers. Actually, McLoughlin's
reputation as an authority on the
Kootenay District was quite widespread.
As the Northern Pacific Railroad was
completing its link between Wallula,
Washington, and Pend Oreille Lake in
1881, it initiated a vigorous campaign
to interest entrepreneurs, settlers and
tourists in the hitherto isolated country
in the Idaho Panhandle, western Montana and southeastern British Columbia.
David McLoughlin was given a free return trip on the railway to enable him
to travel to Portland to address the Portland Chamber of Commerce on the pros-
pects for the Kootenay District.
McLoughlin followed this effort up with
a lengthy letter published in the September 14, 1881, Spokane Chronicle
outlining the great prospects for the
agricultural development in the
Kootenay Flats could the flood waters
of the Kootenay be diverted into the
Columbia River at Canal Flat. When W.A.
Baillie-Grohman came into the Kootenay
country in 1882, he stopped overnight
with David McLoughlin and arranged for
the storage of some of his equipment.
In his subsequent book Fifteen Years
Sport and Life in the Hunting Grounds
of Western America and British Columbia, Baillie-Grohman speaks disparagingly of McLoughlin and credits himself
to be the first to visualize the Canal Flat
diversion plan. Baillie-Grohman was no
doubt blissfully unaware that
McLoughlin's letter in the Spokane
Chronicle'would one day surface to give
the lie to his own claims. Further tribute to David McLoughlin is to be found
in the December 31,1883, Report on the
Lower Kootenay Indians, submitted to
the B.C. Legislature by A.S. Farwell after he and G.M. Sproat had carried out
an 1883 scouting tour of the Kootenay
District to assess its prospects for the
" ... These Indians, including
men, women and children,
number 157, divided as follows:
35 men, 34 married women, 39
boys, 32 girls; 4 widows with 6
boys and 3 girls between them
and 4 widows without encumbrances. I obtained this statement from David McLoughlin
Esq. who resides 200 yards
south ofthe boundary line. Mr.
McLoughlin formerly had
charge of the Hudson's Bay
Co.'s trading post on the left
bank of Kootenay River at the
Shepherd trail crossing, but on
the decline of the mining interests on Wild Horse Creek and
neighbouring creeks and the
consequent closing out of the
Hudson's Bay Co.'s business at
that point, he took up a farm
on the American side ofthe line.
Mr. McLoughlin speaks the
Kootenay language fluently and
is well acquainted with the habits and customs of the Indians.
These natives are not nearly as
civilized as the Upper
Kootenays. They are indolent,
poor, badly clothed and badly
armed. They have no houses,
and live, summer and winter,
in lodges constructed of poles
covered with mats or hides. Mr.
McLoughlin informs me that in
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 former years, these Indians
were supplied with seeds of
different kinds, and they made
efforts to raise potatoes, wheat,
etc., but the uncertainty of securing their crops, through the
flooding of the land, so thoroughly disheartened them, that
they gave up farming in disgust.
During the past season, no seed
of any kind was planted. From
the same source, I learned that
these Indians, only a year or
two since, possessed quite a
number of horses and cattle.
Their stock is now reduced to
about eight or ten head of cattle and 60 horses. This decrease
has been brought about by
gambling. A great many of these
Indians formerly wintered on
Goat River about nine miles
north ofthe boundary line; now
only two or three families winter there. A few families winter
close to Mr. McLoughlin's
house, and the remainder winter on Jerome Creek, some eight
miles south ofthe line. They run
their stock in the winter on Goat
River, and between McLoughlin's
and Jerome Creek. As the summer advances and the water recedes, the Indians move down
the river and fish, and take their
stock with them. In the event
of the [Baillie-Grohman] Reclamation Scheme being a success,
I am of the opinion that a reserve of say, 1,000 acres of grass
land in the neighbourhood of
Goat River would be sufficient.
In case the lessee fails to drain
these bottom lands, the Indians
will practically have the run of
the whole country, as they have
had for years past ..."
Farwell also remarked on McLoughlin's
fine garden at the boundary where he
grew wheat, potatoes, onions and fine
In 1897 McLoughlin applied for and
was given the patent on 120 acres of
land on the present site of Porthill. We
have a copy of this patent signed by
U.S. President Grover Cleveland. The
notorious CP. (Chippy) Hill, fresh from
his real estate scam at the short-lived
mining town of Sanca on Kootenay Lake,
attempted to wrest this claim from
McLoughlin. McLoughlin filed suit in the
First Judicial Court of the State of Idaho,
but the matter was settled when Hill
purchased eighty acres from McLoughlin.
Hill became postmaster of what had
been Ockonook, and in 1900 succeeded
in renaming the settlement "Porthill."
When the Bedlington & Nelson Railway
(subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway) was built north from Porthill to
Wynndel in 1899, its right-of-way came
through McLoughlin's potato patch. After the railway was abandoned, the right-
of-way became our present Highway 21.
The present U.S. customs house and
Hawks Tavern at Porthill are located on
land that once belonged to McLoughlin.
Although he had chosen the life of an
itinerant trader and squatter, David
McLoughlin sometimes surprised people with a show of his cultural background, as on the occasion of a visit of
Sir McKenzie Bowell, prime minister of
Canada, to Mr. J.C. Rykert, the Canadian
customs officer at the boundary. David
came to call clad in a white buckskin
suit, stayed for lunch, and conversed
with the prime minister and his host in
perfect Parisian French.
In 1901 the Oregon Historical Society
and the Oregon Pioneers Association
decided to hold in Portland the first of
what became annual McLoughlin Days
celebrations in honour of Dr. John
McLoughlin. Upon learning that David,
the son of Dr. John McLoughlin, was
still alive, they contacted David and provided him with a new suit of clothes, a
pair of shoes, and a return ticket from
Porthill to Portland. Because he had
spent the preceding forty years in the
wilderness, David found himself helpless as a child in Portland. He was
greeted and entertained by members of
the societies and by an old friend, Mr.
Francis Xavier Matthieu, whom he had
last seen at Fort Vancouver in 1842.
David's picture was taken with Mr.
Matthieu and another oldtimer, Mr.
Sidney Moss. This is the only likeness
of David that we have seen. In an address to the assembly, David remarked
on the changes he could see in Portland - from a brush-covered wilderness
to the present thriving city - and then
expressed his pleasure at the kind reception he was given and his gratitude
that they had seen fit to so honour the
memory of his father. Then without further ado he returned to his home in the
Idaho Panhandle.
One April day in 1903 Father Coccola
of the St. Eugene Mission said, "I have a
feeling that my old friend David
McLouglin needs me." The feeling was
so strong that he did not wait for a train
but obtained a handcar and made his way
to Creston and Porthill, where he arrived
in time to administer the last rites to David.
The story of David McLoughlin must be
treated as interpretive history and involves
the careful sorting out, without prejudice,
of all the aspects that had a bearing on his
choice of lifestyle. Not many men have the
choice that was available to him. With his
education and background he could have
carried on the pattern of life established by
his father and taken an active part in the
continued political and commercial development of the country. Instead he chose a
more relaxed and less demanding life in
the wilderness where he could hunt and
fish and prospect without criticism, his larder always filled with fish, deer, moose and
mountain goat and fruit and berries. He was
free to ride his horses and wear clothing
adapted to his circumstances, untrammeled
by the dictates of fashion. Notwithstanding
his rustic lifestyle, his insistence on an education for his children indicates that he did
not entirely lose respect for his origins and
upbringing. David had known many famous
men -James Douglas, William Fraser Tolmie,
John Work and Peter Skene Ogden to name
a few — but he was satisfied with the friendship and respect of such men as Father
Coccola and the native peoples among
whom he spent so much of his life.
A rumour persists that David McLoughlin
prepared manuscripts that were posted
to a now unknown address by a neighbour, Joseph Anderson of Porthill. How
exciting if they could be found and
added to the recorded history of the
Kootenay Flats!
Carle Jones of Creston researched tbe
McLoughlin story in tbe Washington,
Oregon and British Columbia archives.
He was also able to interview three of
David McLoughlin's granddaughters,
two of whom live in Porthill and one in
Seattle. Carle was honoured in 1993 by
tbe B.C Museums Association for bis
many years as a volunteer with tbe
Creston Museum.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
12 Road to the Pacific Rim
by Tom W. Parkin
Construction of roads in B.C. has always been closely associated with the
trade and prosperity of isolated regions.
Now that paved highways reach every
community on Vancouver Island, some
residents have forgotten the celebrations
which accompanied each newly completed link, even as recently as thirty
years ago.
One such link was the Pacific Rim
Highway connecting Port Alberni with
the west coast ofthe Island. It officially
opened on September 4, 1959- But the
idea for such a road had been around
since early in the century. The issue was
often discussed by politicians, and residents of the Albernis, Tofino and
Ucluelet tried many times to secure
promise of construction. But sparse
population, the Depression and World
War II caused a lengthy delay.
During the war, the Royal Canadian
Air Force signal corps constructed a
rough trail and telephone line through
Sutton Pass to installations on the Pacific rim. Five or six linekeeper huts were
located along the way. But this was by
no means a road, and it was lost in undergrowth following the surrender of
Gradually, MacMillan Bloedel wound
a private road up the mountain slope
above Sproat Lake and B.C. Forest Products built up the west side of the Island
Mountains. But there was still a ten-kilometre gap between.
Tom Aarts, today a thirty-year employee ofthe Ministry of Transportation
and Highways in Port Alberni, recalls
those days: "In the late fifties, while it
was still an industrial road, the government constructed that portion of road
in-between, and for years it was called
'the government stretch.' That's when it
was opened to the public on a restricted
basis. There were gates at either end,
and it was from five at night, I believe,
until seven in the morning, that it was
open to the public. During the daytime
it was closed for a lot of years."2
On August 22, 1959, before the official opening on Labour Day, a celebra
tory caravan with 400 people in
Volkswagens, Cadillacs, jeeps and
junkers drove to Port Alberni from
Tofino. Construction on the intermediate portion still wasn't finished, but the
contractor made temporary passage
through the government stretch for the
locals. Dust was thick, but spirits were
high. The gateway was finally open,
Tom Aarts: "It was prettier then, because
you went
quite high on
tlie mountain
and looked
way down
onto Sproat
Lake into
Port Alberni.
But I can un-
d e r s t a n d
why it was
done. It was
to get away
from the
snow and ice
in tlie wintertime, and we
used to get slides there, too.
"There were three to four switchback
curves on either end, and the road was
about a lane-and-a-half or lane-and-
three-quarters wide. If you passed, one
driver had to hug die rocks and the other
was precariously
close to the shoulder. It scared the
hell out of a lot of
Prairie people."
Once the road
became public,
Highways crews
took over maintenance and began
to upgrade the
route. John Morris,
who retired in 1985
at Nanaimo, was
district highways
manager at that
time: "At Hydro
Hill we had to
build some con-
Tom Aarts, district technician,
Port Alberni sub-office,
Central Island District,
Ministry of Transportation
and Highways.
Tom Parkin photo
crete retaining walls, and that was a
chore because you couldn't get into the
rock. And beyond that, you go through
quite a twisty area - we widened out
where possible. Then you get to
Kennedy Lake Hill. You can't blast that
rock, it's impossible. It goes away up -
it's a real major thing. So we built retaining walls. It took us six months to
build those six retaining walls, that are
there now, in order to make it passable.
"Bill Bos was resident engineer on the
job and Alex Brayden was his foreman.
Bill had a good eye for materials and
cuts and fills. He planned all those improvements. Today people say, 'Oh,
what a corkscrew road,' but you should
have seen it before Bill started. It was
much worse."3
As the highway was being improved,
so did the economies of Ucluelet and
Tofino. West coast products now
reached markets faster and cheaper -
sometimes. Tom Aarts recalls drivers still
had to be cautious: "One corner in that
road had rock bluff and was called 'Fish
Truck Corner.' Over three or four years'
time, three trucks loaded with fish managed to slam into that particular rock,
leaving an abundance of fish all over
the road."
It was during efforts to "daylight" such
curves that the Tay fire was started in
John W. Morris on Pacific Rim Highway 4 in 1969- January and
February that year saw twelve-foot drifts on this normally bare route.
A snowblower bad to be brought down from tbe department's Allison
Pass camp on tbe Hope-Princeton Highway to clear this Island road
Even in Victoria, a total of four feet fell
Agnes M. Flettt photo
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 1967. That was a dry summer - the driest
recorded since 1900, with an April to July
rainfall totalling only 93-3 millimetres.
Temperatures were high and the wind
was up when a road-building explosion
pulled out a hydro-pole guywire.
The pole collapsed and live wires ignited brush. Although Martin Mars water
bombers were brought in from their
nearby base on Sproat Lake, the first drop
missed the burning area, fanning the
flames with its draft. A series of compounding errors ensured the fire's continuation for two weeks. Rainfall on
September 1 allowed the 500 firefighters
their first respite, with the blaze declared
officially out on October 10. It remains
the largest fire in that forest district.4
But fifteen per cent grades on the
former logging road above Sproat Lake
remained. The Alberni Valley Times
called it "a roadway that instantaneously
became famous for its switchbacks as
well as its muffler-stealing, oil-pan
denting, and gas-tank puncturing antics."
Nor was it conducive to the development of tourism at the new Pacific Rim
National Park established between
Tofino and Ucluelet.
Thus in 1971 construction began on a
new twenty-kilometre route which ran
across the same mountain, but at a lower
elevation. George Dodge, now retired
in Courtenay, was construction supervisor: "There was no access at all because the switchbacks were way up the
hill, and we had to go along the lake.
So I had to go into my job with a boat
at first. And of course the contractors,
they went in with their Cats, but for me
to inspect I had to go by boat, which
was something different."5
One of Dodge's crew members was Dan
Bowen, now
senior district
with Highways in
"We were
kept real
busy all the
way through.
We had to
survey in the
winter. Along
Sproat Lake
we had four
A construction crew from tbe Ministry of Transportation and Highways
stands beneath a log culvert on Hydro HiU (West) Creek. The rotting
structure was replaced by a multi-plate culvert (foreground) on a new
alignment in 1992. Highway 4 (Pacific Rim Highway) continues to receive
annual improvements, particularly over stream crossings.
Tom Parkin photo
Dan Bowen, senior district
development technician,
North Island District,
Ministry of Transportation
and Highways.
Tom Parkin photo
feet of snow,
so we all put
snowshoes on
and trekked
out in the bush
in a line.
"We had an
old fellow on
the crew
named Adam
Bauer, who
was about
years old. Most
of our crew
were under
a very young
group. Adam,
he'd be the
guy who
would fix
things up. He'd
fix snowshoes or he'd fix a broken transit
leg. At lunchtime he'd light the campfire.
We'd all trek with our snowshoes back to
some spot. And he'd light the fire and have
it all set up there, so we'd toast our sandwiches and have our supper.
"[Another] of our guys was a big guy
- about six-foot-three, 200-and-some-
odd pounds. When we weren't looking, he fell upside-down in a tree well.
He was hanging by his snowshoes and
couldn't get out. We were up the slope
looking down, wondering where he
was, and he was yelling for help. We
finally got down there. It took a good
half-hour to get him out.
"We had to run alignment over the old
switchbacks one day in the spring, and it
was at the time the herring fleet was in
Ucluelet and Tofino. They used to haul out
the herring in any kind of vehicle that could
hold fish, and the juice would run on the
road. The smell almost gagged us."6
Barely managing to overcome these
hazards of nature, the crews carried on.
Over a million cubic yards of material
were moved in the right-of-way. In other
places, special rocks were moved for
spawning fish. Original streambed gravel
was placed inside culverts to encourage fish to pass through. On Friesen
Creek, boulders were placed to break
the flow and create resting areas for
salmon.7 It showed a growing environmental awareness by the department.
Fish were important, not just as prod
ucts to be moved by road, but as a resource to be protected by highway
And so a crowd watched a second
opening ceremony on Highway 4 on
October 14, 1972. The Alberni Valley
Times quoted Tofino mayor Hugo
Petersen as calling the highway "a Godsend to those who have to use it. A credit
to the builders and the pioneers through
whom it was possible."8
"This road is certainly better than rowing up to Port Alberni," quipped Nuu-
chah-nulth chief Bert Mack.9
Alexandra Skelly, wife of the MLA, cut
the ribbon and the new road was open.
The work of those Highways men, some
now gone in the intervening years, continues to serve us well.
Tom Parkin is a public information officer with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways in Nanaimo. A video
version of this story is available for
loan. Contact Parkin's office at (604)
1. Helen Ford, unpublished ms., "Sproat Lake,
Vancouver Island" in Allxjrni District Historical
Society archives.
2. Tom Aarts video interview, February 15, 1993.
3. John Morris video interview, February 23, 1993.
4. "Historical Tay blaze went up 24 years ago," Alberni
Valley Times, August 20, 1991.
5. George Dodge video interview, February 15, 1993.
6. Dan Bowen video interview, February 15, 1993.
7. George Dodge, completion report, Department of
Highways project *2122, 1972.
8. Alberni Valley Times, October 16, 1972, p. 1.
9. Ibid.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
14 Navigation on the Stikine River
by Edward L. Affleck
British Columbia's Stikine River Valley, located east of the Alaska Panhandle and north of the 56th parallel of
latitude, offers the venturesome traveller today an unparalleled vista of glaciers, canyons, lava
beds and volcanic
cones. Any reader
whose interest in
the Stikine and the
adjacent Cassiar
district is aroused
by this article
should forthwith
beg, borrow, etc. a
copy of R.W.
Patterson's spellbinding book entitled Trail to the
Interior which contains an account of
his 1948 trip up the
Stikine River then
over the continental divide to Dease
Lake and to Watson
Lake. The mouth of
the Stikine River
lies   within   the
coastal strip of the Alaska Panhandle;
one works up through the shallows
about thirty miles above the river's
mouth before he finds himself across
the border into British Columbia. Thanks
to the northern latitude, the navigation
season on the turbulent Stikine River is
relatively short.
British Columbia boasts three great
navigable rivers, the Fraser, the Skeena
and the Stikine, all of which pierce the
rugged Coast Mountains to provide access to a vast interior hinterland. The
three rivers were long the province of
the native fisherman and the fur trader.
All three river systems were invaded in
the second half of the nineteenth century by prospectors seeking gold and
within weeks of such gold discoveries,
the white man's inimitable invasion craft,
the sternwheeler, a vessel well equipped
to work heavy cargo up the shifting
channels and treacherous white water
of rivers, appeared on the scene. Before the beginning of World War I,
_ Xtitematioiul Bou-n3»ni
Trail J
E.L. Affleck map
sternwheelers on the Fraser and Skeena
Rivers had played their major part in
opening up the river valleys and hinterland beyond to exploitation and development and were in decline as railways
with superior hauling capacity were built
through the valleys.
The situation is different with the
Stikine. One hundred and thirty years
after the first sternwheeler appeared on
its waters, the Stikine River system and
the vast hinterland of the Stikine Plateau and the Cassiar Mountains remain
a largely undeveloped frontier. The sole
settlement of any size in this hinterland,
the mining town of Cassiar, is now joining the ranks of ghost mining towns
which dot the map of British Columbia.
This article deals with the successive
sternwheeler invasions of the river
throughout the latter part of the nineteenth
century, and with the decades of navigation by tunnel-screw diesel-powered vessels which followed World War I.
It was the discovery of gold on the
Stikine in 1861 near
present-day Telegraph Creek
which prompted
the intrepid Captain
William Moore in
the spring of 1862
to load up his
Fraser River
sternwheeler, the
Flying Dutchman,
lash a fully loaded
barge to her hull,
then steam up the
Inside Passage to
the small settlement
on the northern tip
of the Russian island of Wrangell.
When the United
States purchased
Alaska in 1867, this
settlement became
a U.S. Army fort,
Fort Wrangel, and some time after the
army departed, the port became known
as Wrangell. Beyond Wrangell about 180
miles of steaming remained to work the
vessel up to the very head of high-water navigation on the Stikine. Capt.
Moore doubtless looked at the scenery
from time to time, but it is likely that
most of his attention was fixed on the
turbulent river channel. He was doubtless relieved to find that while navigation on the Stikine posed a fair number
of risks, the river was largely free of the
unending traps which lay in wait for the
skipper working a steamer on the
Skeena. In his book previously mentioned, R.W. Patterson suggests that
Capt. Moore had to cope with more than
navigation hazards on his first trip, as
the sight and sound of the Flying Dutch-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 man made the Tahltan Indians decidedly bellicose. A generous gift of Hudson's Bay blankets succeeded in quieting
their wrath. The Stikine shared the
Skeena's propensity for rising with astounding rapidity in hot weather as snow
melted from the hills,
but not long after the
flood crest had subsided for the 1862 season, the Stikine gold
rush petered out. In
this short season of
seventy-two days,
however, the Flying
Dutchman earned
good money for her
master, carrying
hordes of humanity as
well as the endless
amount of freight generated by the establishment of a mining
camp. No one had yet
unlocked the secret of
the gold hidden beyond in the Cassiar
mountains, so Moore
worked the Flying
Dutchman back to the
Fraser and resumed
his battle with Irving's
Pioneer Line for the
Fraser River trade. The
great Collins Overland
Telegraph project
served to re-open the
Stikine to steam navigation. In the summer
of 1866 the sternwheeler Mumford,
loaded with telegraph wire and other
construction materials, worked her way
up the head of navigation to what was
thereafter known as Telegraph Creek, a
station established on the telegraph line
which was being built overland from
North America to Europe by way of
Alaska and Siberia. The following year
the Mumfordwas engaged in transporting much of the material back down to
Fort Wrangel. Cyrus Vance had succeeded in laying a trans-Atlantic cable,
so the Collins Overland project was
The discovery of gold in the Dease
Lake area in 1872 by Thibert and
McCullough set off the Cassiar gold rush,
the biggest of its kind since the Cariboo
excitement of the previous decade. The
doughty Capt. William Moore, fresh from
organizing mule trains from Hazelton on
the Skeena River into the Omineca gold
mining camps, obliged once again with
the building of a pack trail from the head
of navigation on the Stikine into the
Captain WiUiam Moore, pioneer skipper on tbe Stikine River,
shown here in winter garb.
Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska
Cassiar district. Typical of boom times,
transportation entrepreneurs rounded up
fleets of coastal vessels and river
sternwheelers to capture what promised
to be a profitable freight and passenger
trade. In our era of pondering over the
feasibility study, it is difficult to grasp
the celerity with which individuals in
the last century risked large amounts of
capital in plunging into the transportation business. Once landed at the upriver
ports of Glenora or Telegraph Creek, a
further sixty miles or so had to be traversed by rough trail before the Cassiar
fields were in sight, but the rigours suffered by prospectors in the Cassiar rush
could not compare with what those
flocking to the Klondike in 1898 endured. Capt. Moore was on the scene in
1874 with the sternwheeler Gem, but
soon found himself facing competition
not only from two Fraser River rivals,
John Irving with the Glenora and Otis
Parsons with the Hope, but also from
veteran Puget Sound sternwheelers such
as the Beaver, Cassiar and Nellie. Moore
eventually bought out his Fraser River
rivals and worked successively the Gem,
the Gertrude, the Glenora and the Western Slope on the Stikine. The Western
Slope, a fairly commodious deep-draft
sternwheeler, was built for Moore with
the aim of working from Victoria up the
Inside Passage to a connection with the
Gertrude in the Canadian reaches of the
lower Stikine, thus avoiding wharfage
and wrangling with the customs at
Wrangell. In the short unprofitable 1879
season, the Western Slope came to no
harm, but it is a measure of William
Moore's boundless intrepidity that he
would contemplate working a
sternwheeler, however stout, through
the more exposed parts of British Columbia's Inside Passage! The nimble
Gertrude was perhaps the most successful sternwheeler ever to work on the
Stikine as she not only could carry a
good cargo but her shallow draft enabled her to work up to Telegraph Creek
for a longer period in the season. A small
screw steamer, the Lady ofthe Lake, was
commissioned on Dease Lake in 1878
to promote travel into the Cassiar, but
the boom died down shortly thereafter
and most of the sternwheelers on the
Stikine then worked their way south to
fight for the Fraser River and Puget
Sound trade. However, John C.
Callbreath, owner of the Nellie, kept her
in service on the Stikine for about a
decade and then replaced her with the
pint-sized sternwheeler Alaskan, which
survived into the time of the Klondike
boom. To Callbreath, a resourceful man
who established a trading business at
Telegraph Creek and later became Alaska's first salmon hatchery operator, lies
much of the credit for maintaining
steamer service on the Stikine in the lean
years before World War I. The Hudson's
Bay Company might from time to time
divert one of its Skeena River
sternwheelers to the Stikine for a trip
each season, but it was the Callbreath
steamer which stuck to the Stikine.
In his booklet entitled Steamboat Days
on the Skeena River, Wiggs O'Neill wrote
the following description of a trip up
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
16 the Stikine:" ... I would like to mention
a trip I made up the Stikine River in
1897 when I was a kid as an invited
guest of Capt. J.H. Bonser on the H.B.C.
Str. Caledonia. The canyon of the Stikine
is comparatively straight, only one bend
in the middle of it, and the water is very
mild compared to our Kitselas Canyon
[in the Skeena River]. There was another
boat on the river named the Alaskan.
Coming down river we blew our whistle as we approached the head of the
canyon and entered. Presently we noticed smoke coming around the bend,
that told Capt. Bonser that the Alaskan
was in the canyon, but it was too late
for us to back out and wait. Presently
her bow poked around the bend with
Capt. Takelberry standing at his wheel
with his great white beard down in front
of him like a pinafore, holding her close
to the right wall of the canyon. Capt.
Bonser was backing full speed and holding back all he could, until our bows
came abreast of each other. At the correct moment he rang a stop signal and
full speed ahead. We shot by the other
boat with barely a foot to spare. Both
skippers blew three blasts of the whistle, as much as to say 'good going, old
fellow.' The surprising thing was, with
only the two boats on the river in a distance of 180 miles that we should meet
each other in the middle of the canyon.
It was a lonely river as there was no
settlement between Wrangel and Telegraph Creek but a shack or two at
Glenora where a Canada Customs Officer was stationed. No one ever guessed
that the following year, 1898, would see
26 river steamers on the Stikine ..."
Much has been written about the wild
building on Puget Sound of dozens of
sternwheelers to work on the Yukon
River system during the Klondike gold
rush. Within about two or three years,
at least half of that Yukon fleet was excess tonnage. The situation was equally
as crazy on the Stikine in 1898, as the
Stikine Plateau promised easy access to
the headwaters of the Yukon River.
Dawson City could be reached from St.
Michael, Alaska, near the mouth of the
Yukon, but St. Michael was far distant
from Vancouver and Puget Sound, while
navigation up the lower Yukon was
lengthy and tedious. The lower Yukon
winds a shallow sinuous course over the
Alaska Flats; on such placid waters ice
forms early in the season and lingers
late into the spring. As summer lengthened into fall, the threat was ever present
that the river level would fall suddenly
and trap a steamer in tlie ice for the
winter. A vessel so trapped would be
ground to shreds by heaving blocks of
ice when the ice broke up in the spring.
Two shorter routes to the Klondike
via Yukon River headwaters beckoned
enticingly. One involved steaming up
the coast of Lynn Canal, breaching the
Coast Mountains through either White
Pass or Chilkoot Pass and coming upon
Lake Lindeman and Lake Bennett, part
of the western headwaters of the Yukon system. From Lake Bennett, steamers, punts and rafts could be worked
down river to Dawson. A triple navigation threat above present-day
Whitehorse - Miles Canyon, Squaw Rapids and White Horse Rapids - formed a
barrier for any steamer wishing to return upstream, and discretion soon dictated that any steamer working
downstream with cargo be pulled into
shore above this barrier, her cargo sent
around the barrier by portage then transshipped by another steamer working
between Whitehorse and Dawson City.
This hazard remained until the White
Pass & Yukon Railway route was extended in 1900 from Lake Bennett down
the Yukon as far as Whitehorse.
The second "short route" involved the
familiar trip up the coast to Wrangell,
thence by sternwheeler up the Stikine
to Glenora or Telegraph Creek and then
over the rough trail on the Stikine Plateau to the headwaters of Lake Teslin,
another body of water forming part of
the headwaters of the Yukon system.
From Lake Teslin in season a steamer
could work uninterruptedly down the
system to Dawson. On both these headwater routes, the ice broke earlier in the
spring and formed later in the fall than
was the case on the lower Yukon. The
two rival routes were each strenuously
promoted, and lobbying began in Ottawa and elsewhere for the granting of
charters to build (a) a railway up over
White Pass to Lake Bennett and beyond
and (b) a railway from Telegraph Creek
to traverse the 125 miles over the Stikine
Plateau to the southern reach of Teslin
Lake. In the fashion of the times, government granted more than one charter
in response to various petitioners seek
ing to lay steel over each of these routes.
Much has been written about the
tough salt-water settlements of Skagway
and Dyea which sprang up on the west
side of White and Chilkoot Passes and
of the masses of humanity which paused
there on a relentless scramble to reach
the Klondike. Wrangell developed into
an equally tough jumping-off place as
men bound for the Klondike were
dumped off coastal steamers and were
mulcted of their savings by gamblers and
prostitutes as they girded up their loins
to ascend the Stikine River and cross
over to the Yukon by the Stikine Plateau. Some were equipped with outfits,
that is, toboggans and sleighs hauled by
horses, dogs and even goats, while others planned to rely on "shanks mare" to
get them to the promised land.
The Cassiar Central Railway Company
in 1897 was the first company to obtain
incorporation to build from the Stikine
to Lake Teslin, and the name "Cassiar
Central" stuck to the project, even
though it was Mackenzie and Mann's
1898 Canadian Yukon Railway Company, replete with proposed land and
cash subsidies, which actually began to
take shape as soon as the bill providing
for such subsidies seemed to be assured
of a favourable reception from the Liberal Party dominating the 1898 House
of Commons in Ottawa. While the Canadian Pacific Railway was not to be
involved in the construction of the line,
one conjectures that the CPR contemplated leasing it upon its completion.
The normally conservative CPR immediately proceeded to acquire two veteran ocean-going ships, the Athenian
and the Tartar, to work the route between Vancouver and Wrangell, then to
build twelve sternwheelers to work between Wrangell and Glenora. A series
of boat-building ways was erected on
the CPR's False Creek foreshore in Vancouver, but four ofthe twelve boats were
ordered from a yard at Port Blakely on
Puget Sound, a ship-building area already
taxed with orders to build sternwheelers
to work the St. Michael to Dawson City
route on the lower Yukon.
The CPR, however, was not the only
player in the Stikine field. Every available shipyard in Victoria and on the
Lower Mainland was put to work over
the 1897-98 winter on sternwheeler
construction. Albion Iron Works in Vic-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 toria built the steel-hulled Beaverfor the
Canadian Pacific Navigation Co., while
Victoria's John Todd built the Canadian,
Columbian, Victorian trio for the Canadian Development Co. Esquimalt Marine
Railway built the Casca and J.C. Shatford
the Sybil, both for private interests. A
Puget Sound yard built the Glenora for
a small U.S. concern.
On the B.C. mainland, B.C.
Iron Works built the Caledonia and Strathcona for the
Hudson's Bay Company, the
Iskoot and the Nahleen for the
Klondyke Mining Trading &
Transport Co. Ltd., the Lightning for Stacey-Hiebert Syndicate, the Marquis of Dufferin
for the British American Corporation, a concern active in
the Rossland Mining Division
in the West Kootenay district,
and the Rothesay for Rothesay
Shipping Co. Smaller yards
built the Stikine Chief for
Stikine Navigation Co. Ltd. and
James Domville for Klondyke,
Yukon & Pioneer Co. Ltd. In
the winter of 1897-98, the intrepid Capt. Frank Armstrong
of East Kootenay steamboating
fame planned to erect a small
sawmill and planer on the
Stikine just above the Alaska/
British Columbia boundary
and to build there a
sternwheeler. Weather conditions defeated his efforts to haul the necessary
equipment upriver, so he transferred his
endeavour to Cottonwood Island, the
point at the mouth of the Stikine where
the Canadian Yukon Railway had established its headquarters. In fifty-eight days
he not only had the lumber sawed but
constructed a highly successful shallow-
draft sternwheeler, the Mono, and
whisked her upriver before the customs
authorities were alert to his activities.
Most of the excess riverboat tonnage
around Puget Sound and the Portland
area was snapped up for the St. Michael
to Dawson City trade, but the veteran
sternwheelers Courser, Elwood, Louise,
Ramona and Skagit Chief were sent to
the Stikine River to supplement vessels
under construction. Had the best-laid
plans of all these transportation enterprises come to fruition, there would have
been over thirty sternwheelers working
up the Stikine by mid-summer 1898,
carrying men bent for the Klondike as
well as rails and other lucrative trade
connected with the budding Canadian
Yukon Railway construction. In fact,
however, fewer than half the projected
fleets ever saw service on the river, but
those on the scene by May 1898, including   the   CPR's   Hamlin,   Ogilvie,
Captain Frank Armstrong constructed tbe Mono on Cottonwood
Island. She is shown here at a dock in WrangeU, Alaska.
Photo courtesy of BCARS No. 24977 A-9274
McConnell and Duchesnay, did a brief
but lucrative business. By mid-summer
of 1898, however, the Stikine bubble had
burst. The Liberal-sponsored railway bill
passed in the House of Commons but
failed to pass in a Senate dominated by
Conservatives. The support required to
get a railway through to completion
shifted to the White Pass & Yukon system, which would eventually construct
a narrow-gauge line from tidewater at
Skagway to Whitehorse, Y.T., and
thereby beat out both St. Michael and
the Stikine in the transportation stakes.
One of the attractions of the Stikine
route for Klondike seekers had been the
prospect of earning a little money en
route wielding a pick and shovel on the
railway grade. After the Canadian Yukon Railway scheme collapsed, few
bound on foot for the Klondike elected
to take the Stikine River route to Glenora
and the pack trail to Lake Teslin, as this
trail quickly gained the reputation of
being even more rigorous than the
routes over White Pass and Chilkoot
Pass. As traffic on the river dropped drastically, the various steamboat companies
hastened to take their sternwheelers off
the Stikine River before winter set in.
What happened to the vessels which
never made it to the Stikine? Material
for two of the CPR's twelve
sternwheelers was diverted to
shipyards in the West
Kootenay district and took
shape as the sternwheeler
Minto for the CPR's Arrow
Lake service and the Moyie for
the Kootenay Lake run. The
remaining six vessels under
construction, plus the four
worked on the Stikine, were
eventually sold by the CPR
and were worked on the Yukon, the Fraser, and on Puget
Sound. Some concerns were
not so lucky. The British
American Corporation lost
both its own Marquis of
Dufferin and the Constantine
purchased from the CPR
when they foundered under
tow to St. Michael for service
on the Yukon. Klondyke Mining, Trading & Transport Co.
lost its steamer Iskoot in 1898
while it was under tow to
Wrangell. Its steamers
Nahleen and Louise were worked briefly
and unprofitably on the Stikine in 1898
then were sent to Victoria for the winter. On July 12, 1899, one of the most
spectacular fires ever in Victoria harbour
consumed both the Nahleen and the
Louise to the waterline as they were
being readied for service on the lower
Yukon. There were no fortunes made
by steamboat concerns in the 1898
Stikine River bubble!
By 1899 about all that remained of
the Canadian Yukon Railway affair on
the Stikine were materials stockpiled at
its headquarters on Cottonwood Island,
caches of steel rails and other freight
abandoned at various points on the river
bank and the beginnings of the railway
construction upstream on the Stikine.
The Hudson's Bay Company worked its
sternwheeler Strathcona fitfully on the
river for a season or two then resorted
to sending one of its Skeena River
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
18 sternwheelers up to the Stikine to work a
few trips each season. The enchanted land
of the Stikine beyond the Coast Mountains once again became the preserve of
a few hardy settlers and prospectors.
In 1916 the Hudson's Bay Company
replaced its sternwheeler service on the
Stikine with the Tahltan, a small gasoline-powered vessel which shortly
proved to be too underpowered to work
successfully on the river. At considerable cost, the company re-commissioned
the sternwheeler Port Simpson to take
over the service for the season. The era
of steam on the Stikine ended in August 1916 with the last trip of the Port
Simpson. Rising labour and fuel costs
were already making the profitable operation of a steam-powered
sternwheeler a dicey situation anywhere
in British Columbia, The subsequent
appearance on the river of Captains Syd
Barrington and Charles Binkley, two
seasoned Yukon River skippers, revived
and prolonged heavy-duty river navigation on the Stikine for another half-century. The Barrington outfit placed a
series of tunnel-screw-propelled motor
vessels, all named Hazel B., on the river
and these economical vessels served
admirably the isolated ranches on the
river as well as the fitful mining business in the Cassiar hinterland. The
Barrington diesel boat service really
came into its own early in World War II
when an airport was shipped up the
Stikine on barges powered by the
Barrington boats then hauled overland
to Dease Lake. Navigation on the Dease
system was revived with the hasty construction at the head of Dease Lake of
barges and shallow-draft diesel-powered
vessels. At Lower Post, materials so
barged were transshipped for the short
haul to Watson Lake. The construction
ofthe Alaska Highway in 19AI-A2 once
again made for active shipping up the
Stikine and down the Dease-Liard systems. Shipping activity on the Stikine
cooled down thereafter, but in the post-
World War II era, Capt. Al Ritchie then
later Capt. Edwin Callbreath continued
the diesel-type service with the Judith
Ann and other vessels.
Eventually bits and pieces of what is
now provincial Highway 37 were built
into the Stikine/Cassiar hinterland from
Upper Liard on the Alaska Highway and
from Kitwanga and Stewart in the south.
Already suffering from the competition
of airplanes, heavy-duty motor vessels
could not stand additional competition
from heavy-duty trucks. Service on the
Stikine was accordingly abandoned in
1969, leaving what local business offered
to very small vessels. During the 1970s,
various attempts were made to revive
boat service from Wrangell to Telegraph
Creek as a tourist attraction, but none
met with much success. Jet boats have
in recent times ferried tourists from
Wrangell up the Stikine as far as the
Alaska/British Columbia boundary,
while freight vessels continue to transport high-quality sand mined for construction purposes from the bars on the
lower reaches of the river, but river traffic above the little canyon is idle. The
record of river navigation on the Stikine
from 1862 to 1969, however, remains a
proud one, and if the events ofthe crazy
1898 year of navigation on the Stikine
continue to be mind-boggling, one can
only sagely mutter that truth is stranger
than fiction!
Will heavy-duty river navigation ever
return to the Stikine? It is doubtful, for
should exploitation ofthe area's resources
ever reach a level to make highway transport inadequate, it is possible that the
abandoned British Columbia Railway extension from Fort St. James to Dease Lake
could be revived. If and when such an
occasion arises, the multi-million-dollar
bridge constructed for the railway across
the Stikine River in the middle of nowhere
will at last come into its own.
E.L. Affleck bas always been interested
in sternwheelers in British Columbia.
Now that be is retired, be bas intensified bis research of this and other aspects ofRC history.
Government of Canada. List of Vessels on the Shipping
Registry Books.
U.S. Federal Government. List of Merchant Vessels of
Ihe United States.
Affleck, E.L. Affleck's List of Sternwheelers Plying the
Inland Waters of British Columbia, 1858-1980. Alex
Nicolls Press, 1992.
Fiegehen, Gary. Stikine- the Great River. Douglas &
Mclntyre, 1991.
Hacking, Norman. Captain William Moore - B.C.'s
Amazing Frontiersman. Heritage House, 1993
Hacking, Norman and Lamb, W. Kaye. The Princess
Story: Mitchell Press, 1974.
Hoagland, Edward. Notes from the Century Before.
Random House, 1969.
Lawrence, Guy. "The Stikine Trail," British Columbia
Digest, Vol. 20, No. 6, Nov .-Dec, 1964.
"107 Years of Stikine Riverboating," Alaska Geographic
Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 4, 1979.
O'Neill, Wiggs. Steamboat Days on tbe Skeena River.
Patterson, R.M. Trail to Ihe Interior. Macmillan, 1966.
Turner, Robert. Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs. Sono
Nis Press, 1984.
British Columbia Historical Federation Scholarship 1995—1996
The British Columbia Historical Federation awards a $500 scholarship annually to a student completing the third or fourth year at a British Columbia
college or university.
To apply for the scholarship, candidates must submit:
1. A letter of application.
2. An essay of 1500-2000 words on a topic relating to the history of
British Columbia. The essay must be suitable for publication. The
winning essay will be published in the B.C. Historical News.
3. Letters of recommendation from two professors.
Applications must be submitted before April 30, 1995, to Anne Yandle, 3450
West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4,
Scholarship Chair Anne Yandle presents Robert Wright with tbe cheque for tbe 1994
BCHF scholarship. Wright was a student at Douglas CoUege when be wrote "Tbe Plight
of Rural Women Teachers in tbe 1920s." He is now studying at Simon Fraser University.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 Finnish Immigrants and
Their PoUtical Ideology
by Rick James
In the late nineteenth century, Finland
was in the midst of severe economic
and social distress. Political repression
was then added to the country's problems with Nicholas II's ascension to the
Russian throne in 1894. Attracted by the
promise of a better life in the new world,
many Finns were motivated to emigrate.
A large part of the Finns who came to
Canada brought with them strong socialist and Marxist beliefs as part of their
cultural baggage. These Finnish immigrants, with their leftist ideologies,
played a significant factor in radicalizing
British Columbia's politics throughout
1900 to 1939.
A young Finnish radical, Austin MUkeld.
Photo courtesy of Sointula Museum
Two primary forces motivated many of Finland's inhabitants to regard migration as an
acceptable alternative to the
uncertainties prevalent in their
homeland. The first resulted
from the country's population
having tripled in the nineteenth
century. By 1900 all marginal
land was settled and the rural
population (87.5% ofthe total)
had no room to expand. Adding to this crisis in the traditionally immobile, agrarian
society was the dislocation created by the industrialization of
Finland, which began in
the late 1860s. As agricultural workers headed
to the urban centres
looking for economic
opportunity, the cities
were able to absorb
some of them, but not
all. These migrant workers who sought employment in the lumber industry,
railroad construction and factories, and who found themselves
unable to return to their earlier
occupations, became particularly
vulnerable to economic downturns and famine.
The economic crisis at the end
of the century was exacerbated
by political and social changes.
Finland had benefited from a
period of liberalization as an autonomous Duchy of Russia
throughout the reigns of Tzar
Alexander II and Alexander III.
The small country had been
granted, along with other
freedoms, self-government.
Throughout this period the Finnish language and culture flowered, inspiring a sense of national
identity and pride. With the ascension of Tzar Nicholas II in
Matti Kurikka
Photo courtesy of Kurikka's great-grandson, Matti Linnoilla
1894, despotic rule returned to Finland.
Spuned on by a fiercely chauvinistic
pan-Slavic movement, the new tzar implemented restrictive legislation which
curbed rights and privileges granted by
earlier regimes. From 1898 onwards, the
Baltic states and Finland suffered under
an aggressively pursued Russification
The Finland that faced the return of
autocracy was one that had undergone
dramatic changes in its political landscape. The nation had thrived under
democratic self-government and as living and working conditions deteriorated,
the working class readily assimilated the
new political ideologies that were flowing through Western Europe. As a consequence, the recently emerged Finnish
socialist movement had become a powerful force by the turn of the century.
Although economic reasons had stirred
large portions of the population to con-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
20 aider emigration, for many (especially
those citizens with leftist tendencies),
Finland's loss of political autonomy provided the final catalyst. (A major stimulus was the introduction of new
conscription laws. Finns were now required to serve under Russian, instead
of Finnish, army regulations and their
term of service was lengthened from
ninety days to five years.)1
For those immigrants who had been
attracted to Canada by the promise of
freedom, wealth and opportunity, reality often didn't accord with their expectations. A previous migration had
occurred when Finnish labourers were
drawn to work on the building of the
Canadian Pacific Railway. With the railway's completion, many of those left
unemployed in British Columbia found
new jobs digging coal in Robert
Dunsmuir's Vancouver Island mines.
Rather than walking on "streets paved
with gold," setdement in an alien land
brought new forms of exploitation. Victimized miners faced hazardous conditions working underground, and for the
non-English-speaking majority, discrimi-
A. Makeld's funeral 1932.
Photo courtesy of Meraloa Pink Collection
nation above ground. "To know the toil
and burdensomeness of descending into
the bottomless jaws, never knowing
whether one will surface alive, dead or
badly injured ... " was how Matti
Halminen described every miner's fears.2
Any attempts by workers, either individually or collectively, to raise their
wages or to improve their working conditions were routinely suppressed by
their employers.
The first formal attempts of the Finnish
immigrants to come to terms with the
harsh realities of their new environment
were temperance societies. As tlie societies were representative of a culture that
was both ethnically and
class-oriented, they not
only provided a moderating influence but also
encouraged more united
action. Haalis, or halls,
were soon built and social functions such as
theatrical performances,
sports events and dances
were organized to foster
community spirit. Handwritten newspapers, socialist clubs, libraries and
reading rooms stimulated intellectual pursuits
and political discussion.
Although the Finns
had bettered living con-
ditions within their
communities, they still
faced the harsh realities
of backbreaking and
dangerous work for inadequate pay. Many of
the immigrants wrho arrived after 1900, having
left their homeland
when the workers'
movement was making
its breakthrough, en-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 couraged radical socialist solutions.3 The idea
of building a communal
home beyond the reach
of the capitalist world
was proposed by some
of the Finn miners in
Nanaimo as a remedy
for their plight. They
then encouraged Matti
Kurikka, former editor-
in-chief of Finland's
largest working-class
paper, Tyomies, living in
self-imposed exile in
Australia, to come to
Canada to found a Utopian society. The charismatic Kurikka
appeared ideal for this
role as his particular
brand of socialism,
rooted in Tolstoy, Christianity and Theosophy, placed its emphasis on love and harmony with nature
and mankind.
The Kalevan Kansa Colonization Company was formed, an agreement was
reached with the provincial government
in 1901, and Malcolm Island, located off the northern end of
Vancouver Island, was designated as the site for the Finns'
Utopia. By the spring of 1902
Finns from all over the world
were travelling to Malcolm Island
to become part of the Kalevan
Kansa. Even though there was
no accommodation, by the end
of 1902 over two hundred people were living on the island;
most of the new colonists were
men (100) but some brought
their wives (43) and children
(88). While enthusiasm and energy were high, many of the
immigrants were urban craftsmen and professionals, ill
equipped for the rough living
and hard work required to clear
a heavily forested island by
hand. A sawmill, a foundry and
a brickyard were started and a
logging crew organized but the
lack of training and experience
was a serious handicap that di-
recdy affected the colony's finances. In an attempt to become
self-sufficient, cloth and leather
Social Democratic Party charter.
Photo courtesy of Sointula Museum
was ordered for the tailors and shoemakers but Malcolm Island was too far removed from urban markets to make
small-scale manufacturing viable.
From 1901 to 1905 Kurikka and the
Sointula Finns published the first printed
No 1
K6*alwfun   &»lfli04.
WlllHWIH>»fat*Hi iffrfll tAi-ifr-ta».
HBalfBHfi ftfnfyt* fflilrtitn nstuin,
■ omtvi.*. 10.
("otnui!., B. IS., Hkiftin iifcHM p. t. on HlrJ.i.iino.
Atka (Time), tbe first printed Finnish newspaper in Canada.
Photo courtesy of Sointula Museum
Finnish-language newspaper in Canada, first
from Nanaimo and then
later from Sointula. A
huge success, the Aika
(Time), while circulating its message of socialism and idealism
throughout North
America, Europe and
Australia, also encouraged Finns to join the
Utopian venture. But
after facing the harsh
realities of life on British Columbia's
raincoast, many of the
approximately 2,000
Finns that passed
through Sointula in the
three years of the colonization scheme simply
moved on. Kurikka's attempts to create a model communal
society away from "the capitalistic and
materialistic class struggle," as well as
"the Church with its false doctrine," collapsed and the colony was declared
bankrupt in 1905.
Even while the Utopian experiment at Sointula (Harmony)
was succumbing to dissension
and mismanagement, Finn immigrants on Malcolm Island and
elsewhere were searching for
more practical political solutions. Committed to the fact that
Canada was now their homeland, Finnish socialists realized
that they needed to establish
common cause with their fellow
Canadian workers. To achieve
this goal, many of the locally
based Finnish societies helped
to organize the Socialist Party of
Canada (SPC), which was
formed in 1905. The founders
of the party had defined their
objective as none other than
"the transformation ... of capitalist property into the collective
property of the working class."
Language difficulties forced individual Finnish members to reorganize themselves into a
separate language group to
eliminate the cumbersome process of translating the party's
business into Finnish. (Finns,
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
22 more so than most immigrant groups,
suffered difficulties with the English language. The Finnish language has no resemblance to any other European
tongue other than Estonian and early
Magyar. Grammar and syntax are extremely complicated and there are no
articles, gender, nor letters b, c, f, q or
w and no prepositions, their place being taken by fifteen case-endings.)4 In
1908, the Sointula local had attempted
to run a candidate in the upcoming federal election but lack of funds prevented
this. The party's secretary noted that one
ofthe heaviest expenses incurred by the
SPC had been the printing of the constitution in Finnish.
Although highly respected for their
personal discipline achieved through
their temperance societies, when the
Finns began to act en bloc to force
changes in party policy, they were resented as "clannish" foreigners. The
problems arose over ideological differences: Finn radicals of the SPC had
pressed for interim measures to ameliorate the immediate conditions of the
working class rather than await the Revolution. As a result, the "outsiders" were
tarred as being revisionist by the doctrinaire Marxist leadership who saw the
party's role as being restricted to the
education and agitation of the masses.
The contempt and intolerance of the
predominantly British leaders ofthe SPC
led either to the expulsion, or withdrawal in protest, of the Finn member-
Looking down First Street toward Finnish Organization HaU, Sointula, RC
Rick James photo
ship. By 1911, all former Finnish SPC
locals had left and went on to assist with
the founding of the Social Democratic
Party of Canada (SDPC) later that year.
While the Finn radicals had been affiliated with the SPC, two of the constituencies that held sizeable Finnish
communities sent Socialists to the provincial legislature in the election of 1909-
The party's electoral support continued
to fall off from the high of 1909, and in
the election of 1916 neither the SPC nor
the SDPC returned a member to the
British Columbia legislature.
Before the Finnish Socialist locals
An early settler's borne, Anderson Marine Ways and Co-op Hardware Store, Sointula, RC
Rick James photo
joined the SDPC, they formed their own
ethnic association, the Finnish Socialist
Organization of Canada (FSOC). In this
way, when they federated with the
SDPC, they were able to establish their
own national identity as well as maintain their autonomy. Regrettably, with
the outbreak of World War I, the immigrant organization with an "alien" character, which professed socialist and
anti-war sentiments, became suspect.
The Canadian government began by
suppressing "enemy language" publications and eventually any organization
that could be viewed as showing "ethnic support" for the Central Powers.
Orders-in-council were speedily enacted
against radical left organizations like the
Industrial Workers of the World, SDPC
and the FSOC. Many members withdrew
their support from the Finnish radical
movement for fear of government persecution. The FSOC disbanded but resumed operations as the Finnish
Organization of Canada (FOC) following the war. In order to receive official
sanction, the FOC transformed itself into
a strictly cultural institution.
The Bolshevik takeover in Russia in
1917 revitalized many Finnish-Canadian
radicals. The revolution was taken as a
sign of the impending triumph of the
working-class struggle in the western
world. A "reconstituted" Finnish Socialist Organization of Canada was revitalized out ofthe "provisional" FOC in 1919
after the War Measures Act restrictions
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 against socialist associations had lapsed.
The FSOC, keen to form an alliance with
other re-emerging socialist parties, in
1921 became affiliated with the Workers' Party of Canada. In 1924 the FSOC
was simply known as the Finnish Section of the Communist Party of Canada
(CPC). As the FSOC had compelled its
members to take out a CPC card, the
Finnish Section made up over half the
party membership in the mid-1920s. (As
the Finns had no intention of "gifting"
their hard-earned assets and properties
- their community halls, the publishing
house, Vapaus, etc. - to the Communist
Party, they incorporated their own cultural institution, the Finnish Organization of Canada, Inc., in which they
vested the title to all their assets. From
1925 onwards, the radical Finnish-Canadian movement shifted its focus and
made the FOC its organizational centre.
As a consequence, the Finnish Section
of the CPC faded away.5
With their refusal to sacrifice their organization to the party's policy of
bolshevization of the various language
sections (ethnic groups were to be
blended together into smaller, homogenized "Canadian" cells), ruptures in the
CPC opened. The final split occurred
with the ousting of A.T. Hill from the
FOC in 1929 and, later in the year, the
suspension of J.W. Ahlqvist and other
prominent FOC members from the Communist ranks. Thereafter the FOC went
on to operate as an independent force
in the leftist movement.
By the 1930s dissension in the FOC
mirrored the difficulties the Canadian
radical left had as a whole in finding
common ground. A significant group of
moderate leftists broke away from the
organization through 1930 and 1931 and
later pledged their support to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. In
order to retain a membership worn
down by the fractional and destructive
fighting within the radical movement,
as well as the fear of persecution by a
government who suspected the "alien"
group of subversive activities, the FOC
began to emphasize cultural activities
to a greater extent during the 1930s.6
Many Finn-Canadians through the inter-war years simply retreated into their
communities rather than face a suspicious and sometimes hostile outside
world. A.B. Makela, a prominent Marx
ist intellectual (who could have played
a more prominent role in British Columbia radical politics, much as Hill and
Ahlquist had in Toronto), never returned
to the level of political activity he had
reached in Finland. He was content to
live out his final years on Malcolm Island as a lighthouse keeper, holding only
one post of importance - editor of the
FSOC's newspaper, Vapaus, which he
held for less than a year. Makela, a friend
of Matti Kurikka, had worked on the
staff of Tyomies and taken over as editor when Kurikka left for Australia.
Kurikka encouraged the practical Makela
to join him in Sointula as Kurikka felt
himself "out of control" with his idealistic scheme. With the dissolution of the
colonization company, the two men
became bitter enemies - Makela took
over the leadership of the remaining
settlers when Kurikka and his followers
left the island in 1905. An article in the
October 13, 1934, issue of the Vancouver Province aptly summed up the outside world's impression of a small Finn
community: "for 30 years the Finns have
maintained a communist state on
Malcolm Island. Today they probably
know less about what's happening in
Canada than in the Soviet Union ..."
Although their language difficulties
and the nativism of Canada's Anglo-
Saxon population had restricted Finn
immigrants from having a more serious
impact on the larger political scene, the
Canadian government got more than the
"stalwart peasant in a sheepskin coat"
that they had bargained for. Finnish-
Canadian radicals had readily risen to
attack with their counter-ideologies, not
only the exploitative conditions they
found in British Columbia's resource
towns, but also to challenge the status
quo of Canada's political establishment.
Between 1900 and 1939, Finnish radicals made a significant contribution to
the Canadian socialist movement far
beyond what their small numbers in the
immigrant community would suggest.
end of tbe Kalevan Kansa wasn't tbe end
of Sointula, however. Many of tbe town's
remaining settlers found employment in
tbe West Coast's logging and fishing industries. Slowly Sointula grew, and today it is a prosperous fishing viUage.
Echoes of tbe original settlers' dreams
are beard in tbe Finnish language that
is still spoken — and felt in Sointula's
strong sense of community."
1. Alan Neil Kuitunen, The Finnish Canadian Socialist
Movement: 1900-1914.
2. Halminen, Matti, Sointula- Kalevan Kansan Ja
Kanadan Suomalaisten Historiaa, p. 251.
3. In 1901, there were only 780 people of Finnish
origin in British Columbia, By 1911 their numl">ers
had risen to 2,858. Finns never comprised more
than half of one per cent of the Canadian
population. Varpu Lindstrom-Best, The Finns in
Canada, p. 16.
4. Alan Neil Kuitunen, The Finnish Canadian Socialist
Movement: 1900-1914.
5. Edward P. Laine, Canadian Fthnic Studies
Association, Vol. VIII, p. 100.
6. By 1941 the Finnish population in British Columbia
had increased to 6,858. Many of the newcomers in
the inter-war immigration period held "white"
sympathies, which further added to the political
dissension in Finnish communities. Varpu
Lindstrom-Best, The Finns in Canada, p. 16.
Avakumovic, Ivan. The Communist Party in Canada, A
History. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1981.
Hall, Wendy. Green Gold and Granite: A Background
to Finland. London: Max Parrish and Co. Ltd., 1953.
Jalkanen, Ralph J., ed. The Finns in North America: A
Social Symposium. Hancock: Michigan State University
Press, 1969.
Robin, Manin. Radical Politics and Canadian Labour,
1880-1930. Kingston: Industrial Relations Centre,
Queen's University, 1968.
Wuorinen, John H. A History of Finland. New York and
London: Columbia University Press, 1965.
Rick James Uved in Sointulafor ten years
before moving to tbe Comox VaUey. He
bas assisted Paula Wild with research
for ber forthcoming book Sointula: An
Island Utopia An excerpt from an article by Wild in tbe Islander, October 31,
1993, summarizes later Sointula: "The
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
24 The Story of Edna Eldorado
by Sam Holloway
72?is story /bas appeared in various
publications and some readers expressed their disbelief. However,
further checking and the discovery
of the photo taken by noted geologist, J.B. Tyrell, tells me the story is
Sam Holloway
Far from their homes in the
south, three young prospectors
mushed their team through the
crackling cold. They had covered
thirty miles that day over a narrow
trail and had but three miles to go
to reach their cabin on Eldorado
Creek in the Klondike. It was
Christmas Eve, 1897.
They suffered from the cold and,
in spite ofthe time of year, wanted
only to light a roaring fire to thaw
their bones and relieve the searing pain in their chests. They paid
no heed to the northern lights that had
dropped a dancing curtain of ghostly colours over the frozen valley.
Then, in an open space to the right ofthe
trail, they saw a lonely cabin almost enveloped in frost; the frost itself reflected the
colours ofthe aurora borealis until cabin and
sky were joined in a mystical scene, a scene
that caused the young men to stop and stare.
A faint wisp of smoke drifted from the stovepipe, as if to declare there was life within
the cabin; but it was a life that was feeble
and quiet.
"Let's go in and warm up," said Johnny
Lind. "They must have gone into Dawson
for Christmas and we can get that fire going
in no time."
They unlatched the door and tramped in.
Dave Mitchell took a candle from his pocket
and lit it in order to find the source of piteous moans coming from the bed in the corner. In the flickering candlelight he, Johnny
Lind and Bill Wilkinson beheld a sight they
would remember for the rest of their lives.
A young woman lay on the bed with a
newborn baby clutched to her breast. She
stopped her faint cries to smile at Dave who
quickly kneeled at her side. Her eyes, pain-
filled yet satisfied somehow, opened wide
for a moment, fluttered weakly, then closed
in death.
The three young men stared at each other,
stunned into silence, a silence the baby finally pierced with its shrill, life-filled cry.
While Johnny Lind built up the fire, Bill
The Edna Eldorado Cabin
The Edna Eldorado cabin.
J.B. Tyrell photo
Wilkinson stripped off his many layers of
clothing and even removed his new woolen
underwear he had bought in Dawson that
day. Quickly he wrapped the baby in the
underwear and whatever blankets he could
find. Just then the door burst open and another young man ran to the bedside.
"Jen! I've got the doctor!" He collapsed
on the floor beside the bed and the doctor
strode into the crowded cabin. He immediately checked the woman on the bed and
the young man on the floor. "Both dead. He
froze his lungs with all the running he did
today; it's forty-five below outside; and the
mother ... goddammit, these people should
never have come north! Is there a woman
around here you can take the baby to?"
"No," said Bill, who still held the baby in
his huge arms. "Not close by there isn't."
"Well," said the doctor, "I've got to be
going. You'll have to take care of it somehow." He packed his case and went out and
the miners never saw him again.
They made a tiny bed from a packing box,
tucked the baby into it, and dashed over the
trail to their own cabin. Using a whiskey
bottle and the finger from a leather glove,
they fed the squalling child its first earthly
meal: bear-stew broth with a tiny portion of
brandy mixed in. The baby fell asleep in its
box while the young men sang Christmas
carols and gave thanks to whatever god they
believed in.
But that isn't the end of the story.
Dave Mitchell set out the next morning to
find a mother for their Christmas
child. The news spread quickly
and soon a dozen women arrived
at the cabin; each was willing to
adopt the baby, and the young
miners faced a difficult decision.
A Mrs. Brock stood back from the
crowd, listening to the arguing,
and finally she could stand it no
"You're all a bunch of fools!" she
exclaimed. "Give me that baby!
You, Dave, take up a collection
and get going into Dawson for
some canned milk. Bring some
clean blankets and some diapers
too." She picked up the baby and
held it with such a natural air that
the boys knew the right decision
had been made. Later they found
out Mrs. Brock had lost a baby
back in Nova Scotia; and here in
the Klondike, by a miracle of
events, she had found another.
For the rest of the winter the baby stayed
in Mrs. Brock's cabin and it became the centre of attention on Eldorado Creek. The miners found a minister to baptize it in the spring
and, after many suggestions, a name was
chosen for the child: she was to be called
Edna Eldorado. She was christened in an outdoor ceremony with gold nuggets and pokes
of dust piled up around her. It was said that
the toughest men in the north cried like babies on that spring day in the Klondike.
That is how the story has come down to us -
through magazine and newspaper accounts
and personal re-telling - how three gaunt
young prospectors were led by the northern
lights to the side of a newborn babe, on
Christmas Eve in 1897.
Sam Holloway lives near Whitehorse. He
is editor of The Yukon Reader wbicb be
started in 1990. We are very grateful that
be gave permission to present this story
to our readers.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 The Plight of Rural Women Teachers
in the 1920s
In the early twentieth century many
rural female school teachers in British
Columbia experienced a variety of hardships and obstacles. This essay will focus on the negative aspects of the lives
of female rural school teachers, not to
deny that there were positive aspects to
their lives. They were often taken for
granted, forced to adhere to unreasonable rules and regulations and sometimes had to live and work in deplorable
conditions. This essay will discuss the
rural teacher's responsibilities and working environment to promote understanding of how "... physically, emotionally
and professionally demanding ..." their
lives were, " ... so much so that many
young people lived lives of quiet, lonely,
desperation as they tried to provide a
limited level of educational service to
their students."1
In 1925, 79% of the teachers in the
rural areas of B.C. were female, 91%
were unmarried and the average age was
23.62 (some were as young as sixteen
years old).3 Female teachers had been
in the majority since the middle of the
nineteenth century.4 When compared to
other career options for women at the
time, such as domestic service, factory
or cannery work, or married life, teaching looked appealing. In order to become a teacher, very little specialized
skill or equipment was needed.5 In 1920
all that was needed to become a teacher
was two years of high school and nine
months of Normal School.6 The teaching life allowed a young woman to break
away from her family, become independent and feel as if she was going on
an adventure. Many women said that it
was a "desirable stage between schooling and marriage."7 It was also seen by
many women as a way to meet a husband.8 These wonderful ideals that were
imagined by most of the young female
teachers did not always become a reality. Despite the fact that many of the
women were aware of the shortcom-
by Robert Wright
ings of the profession, the teaching industry had no problems finding
inductees.9 Women "were particularly
socialized to see their futures as involving children and were restricted to a few
sex-labelled employments ... Finally,
neither opposition to their presence nor
a host of rivals succeeded in driving
women from a profession that many
needed to survive and many loved."10
The School Act of 1911 stated that the
function of a teacher in B.C. was "to
teach, 'diligently and faithfully' and
'maintain order and discipline'."11 This
particular definition was very broad and
failed to mention the specific "hats" that
the teacher was expected to wear. These
"hats" included one of "an instructor,"
one of "a disciplinarian," one of "a health
worker," one of "a clerk,"12 and one of
"a caretaker."13
The teacher's function as an instructor and a disciplinarian might be thought
to be fairly straightforward, but that was
not always the case. Often the teachers
found that their training at Normal
School did not prepare them enough
for the rural environment.14 They might
have a class of twenty to thirty students
at a time, covering a number of different grades, including high school.15 She
would have been an English-speaking
teacher and she may have been placed
in a community where none of the children spoke English.16 Even when the
teachers were given assistance from the
school inspectors, by receiving new
curriculums, the curriculums were given
without instruction. Many teachers found
that when they did go looking for instruction "from their superiors, the superiors were just as much in the dark,"
or the inspectors did not have the "time
or the desire" to accommodate the specific needs of each individual teacher.17
Despite the fact tha.. many of the schools
had very inadequate resources, the
teachers made do with what they had.
As a health worker the teacher was
expected to have some medical knowledge due to the isolation of most of the
communities.18 The students would
have to be checked daily for contagious
diseases.19 They also had to be checked
externally for "bugs" such as head-lice
and fleas.
The teacher's function as a clerk was
essential if the schoolhouse was going to
run smoothly. They were responsible for
calling the roll and recording the attendance and absences in a well-maintained
register.20 This register was very important because if the average attendance of
the schoolhouse was less than eight, it
faced being closed.21 The teacher also
was expected to keep a visitors' book,
inform trustees of sickness and unsanitary
conditions, write report cards and administer public examinations.22
As a caretaker the teacher was responsible for the aesthetic appearance of the
school, inside and out. In theory the
teacher was to be aided by the members of the school board, but the brunt
of the responsibility was almost always
left with the teacher. Outside, she must
"improve and beautify the school
grounds."23 Inside, she must be responsible for lighting the fires, scrubbing the
blackboards, washing the floors and any
other janitorial duties that needed to be
done.24 If a senior student was recruited
to assume janitorial duties and the school
board declined to pay, the teacher would
have to provide a gratuity from her own
meagre salary.
There is a distinction that must be
made between the two different types
of schools that existed in rural areas of
B.C. There were rural schools and there
were assisted schools. In 1926, the assisted schools outnumbered the rural
schools three to one.25 Although both
types were usually one-roomed school-
houses, they were supported financially
by very different sources. A country
school that was given rural status meant
that the school was not urban and it was
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
26 not consolidated with other communities. This status also meant that the
school did not benefit from "centralized
municipal administration or finance."26
A country school that was given assisted
status was also not an urban school, but
it was part of a consolidated network of
schools and did fall under municipal
administration and finance. In an assisted
school, the teacher's salary, the building, and a grant for supplies were covered by the provincial government. All
these benefits were subject to the conditions and regulations laid out by the
government. The main condition of the
financial support was part of the Compulsory Attendance Act, "a monthly enrolment of at least 10 and an average of
8 was mandatory to avoid closure."27
The assisted schools were under the
control of a board of three trustees. The
trustees' only qualifications were that
they had to be British subjects and qualified voters.28 For rural schools there
were no qualifications. The school board
was usually made up of elected ratepayers who were parents or prominent
figures in the community.29 In some of
the communities, the control over education was put in "the hands of local
dictators" who possessed "petty jealousy
towards each other" and the result was
local control at "illogical extremes."30 In
theory, and under official regulation, the
school board, especially in an assisted
school, had numerous responsibilities.
They were responsible for the hiring and
firing of the teacher; reporting teachers'
resignations; regular school visits; providing supplies and books for underprivileged children; acquiring property
and money to operate the school; and
the equipping and repairing of the
schoolhouse when needed.31 It was
decided by the community whether or
not the school board acted within its
official capacity, not the teacher.
The rural and assisted schools in B.C.
during the 1920s were dependent on the
community for their existence and longevity. Whether the school was in good
or bad condition depended on the support and the enthusiasm of the community. Unlike the urban schools that
represented state power, the rural
schools represented local initiative.32
The parents in the rural communities
often supported schooling for their children, but were very resrictive when it
came to "outside intervention."33 It was
very important in all of the small rural
communities that the parents were
happy with the school and its teacher.
The very existence of the school depended on "the teachers ability to adapt
to the community's desires and the parents' willingness to support the school
by enroling their children."34 There were
many times that the parents disapproved
of some aspect of the teacher's professional or personal actions. These times
produced enormous resistance among
the parents.35 The parents may have
chosen to stop funding the school or
may have just removed their children
from school and had them learn at
home.36 Marion Leighton, a teacher in
Mud River in the 1920s, warned the
school inspector that "it would not be a
wise policy to send an inexperienced
teacher here for the community does
not have much co-operation, spirit or
harmony so it makes a teacher tread
most carefully to keep on friendly terms
with all."37 The parents knew all about
the Compulsory Attendance Act and
what effect their children's absence
could have on the school. Pulling a child
from school was one of the least disturbing things that parents or children
or a community could inflict on their
local teacher. It was noted by a school
inspector of the 1920s that a woman
named Miss Langois "had survived that
stench of urine poured into the school
stove ... laughter at rumours of an illicit
affair with a student... broken windows
and stolen fuel-oil... one serious attempt
to burn down the schoolhouse ... nights
with catcalls and peeping boys ... confiscated real pistols, dynamite caps, kitchen
knives and obscene drawings."38
The socio-economic status of the people in the community was often reflected
in the school building itself. The cost of
the construction of the assisted schools
was reimbursed by the provincial government only after the building was finished. The rural schools were entirely
dependent on local donations and loans
acquired by an individual on behalf of
the school. The funding at a school, especially a rural school, may have been
too inadequate to build an entirely new
structure. This meant that an existing
structure had to act as a substitute.
Classes may be held in a tent, one of
the parent's houses, a social hall, a light
house or a village store.39 Alex Lord, a
school inspector between the years 1915—
36, put some descriptions in his reports
of the bad conditions that he observed:
"poorly heated, badly lighted, woefully
equipped, unsanitary and ugly;" "insubstantial;" and "entirely inadequate."40
These poor working conditions were
compounded by a scarcity of books and
supplies.41 It was not uncommon for a
teacher and her class to have "eagerly
consulted Eaton's catalogue as a text for
reading and spelling."42
Loneliness was a major part of life for
many rural school teachers due to the
isolation of the communities in which
they taught. The isolation came in primarily two different types. The first type
was that the community could only be
accessed by taking a train to a centralized point and then by country road or
trail. The Peace River and Cariboo Country were examples of such areas in B.C.43
The second type of community were the
island schools that were dependent on
the Union Steamship Company's boats.
Access to many of the severely isolated
communities was primarily set up to deal
with commercial transport, not people
transport.44 Often if there was people
transport to an isolated community, the
teacher's family did not have the money
or the inclination to visit.45
The isolation not only posed a problem of loneliness for young female
teachers but also one of danger. Sometimes the nearest neighbour to a teacher's accommodations was miles away.
A teacher that was in trouble may not
have access to any nearby help if she
needed it. In Port Essington, near Prince
Rupert, a twenty-one-year-old teacher
named Miss Loretta Chisholm left her
boarding house to take a walk on a Sunday morning in May 1926 and never returned. Nothing was heard of her until
her battered body was found. An autopsy report concluded that she had
suffocated to death.46
Most times when a rural teacher arrived in a community she was unaware
of where she would be living. The teachers usually had three choices of accommodation. They could either have
"bached," stayed in a hotel or boarded.47
If a rural teacher was to "bach" it
meant that she would live on her own.
Living alone did not offer much in the
way of luxuries or safety. More than
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 likely the place where she would live
would be no more than a lean-to on
the side of the schoolhouse.48 If the
teacher's accommodations were separate from the schoolhouse, "a family may
be willing to give up their barn or
'mudhouse,' neither alternative being
sanitary or comfortable."49 An alternative that one teacher chose was to live
in "the government jail with bonowed
Living in a hotel might be somewhat
more "luxurious, but it too was not free
from problems. Not only were the hotels
usually not a very safe place for a young
female to live, but it was not very respectable. The parents of the community often looked down on a teacher who lived
above a beer hall or a saloon. They felt
that a young female with morals would
never stay in such an establishment."51
The most common accommodation
for a rural school teacher was in a boarding house. The host family usually contained a member of the school board.
This was the community's way of keeping an eye on the teacher. Some teachers were actually told by the members
of the school board who they may be
seen with and where they may live.52
Boarding might also result in the complete loss of privacy for the young
woman. One "teacher slept with the
mother and child in one bedroom while
a man boarder slept with the husband
in the other bedroom."53
None of tlie three choices of accommodation usually offered clean or comfortable conditions. Many teachers stayed
in places "frequently plagued with mice,
bed bugs, lice, the cold, damp, poor food,
primitiveness, lack of privacy, hostile
neighbours and loneliness."54
The conditions and expectations described in this essay were placed on the
shoulders of almost all the rural teachers of B.C. in the 1920s. They were
sometimes more than the teachers could
bear. On November 15, 1928, in Camp
6 of the Lake Cowichan Logging Company, a twenty-year-old school teacher
took her own life. Mabel Estelle Jones
was found dead in her cabin with a suicide note beside her body.55 The note
read: "There are a few people that would
like to see me out of the way, so I am
trying to please them ... I know this is a
coward's way of doing things, but what
they said about me almost broke my
heart. They are not true. Forgive me,
please. Say it was an accident."56 The
school complaints that Mabel wrote
about were lodged by two members of
the school board. The complaints were
about classroom and schoolyard discipline, the wasting of supplies, and lack
of attention to detail by the teacher.57
These types of complaints may seem
superficial and trivial to teachers today,
but as previously explained in this essay, during the 1920s it was very important in all ofthe small rural communities
that the parents were happy with the
school and its teacher. Mabel may have
had more deep-rooted problems that
were not adequately explained by the
papers in 1928, but in her mind the complaints from the school board were the
most important. Although Mabel was
found temporarily insane by the coroner's jury, the school board was blamed
for "unjustifiable, unfeeling and underhand criticism."58
The women in Victoria were "up in
arms" about the school board's actions
concerning Mabel Jones and they began to lobby the government in order
to "prevent the recurrence of anything
like the suicide of Mabel Jones."59 The
minister of education at the time, Mr.
Hinchliffe, acted upon the concerns of
the women in B.C. He stated that his
actions were in response to "the fact that
rural areas were too rugged and wild
for the delicate sensibilities for the young
female teacher ... "6o On April 1, 1929,
he appointed Lottie Bowron as the Rural Teachers' Welfare Officer.61 Lottie
Bowron would become a sounding
board, a spokesperson, and an activist
for complaints ofthe female rural teachers in B.C. She became known for her
approach "based on seeking accommodation rather than creating conflict."62
In her five years as the only Rural Teachers' Welfare Officer in the history of B.C.,
she was instrumental in the important
changes that occurred in the B.C. education system during tlie next few decades.
Since the 1920s there have been many
changes to the B.C. educational system,
but it is easy to understand that the
changes did not come without struggle
and sacrifice. Rural school teachers had
to be responsible for almost all aspects
of their schoolhouse, including its maintenance, administration and educational
instruction. Their duties were numerous
and often overpowering. They often
lived in isolation, loneliness and adversity so they could give the children of
B.C. an education. These young female
"teachers opened their doors, their beds,
their food and their hearts in order to
help and protect their students."63
Tbe author prepared this essay while
attending Douglas College. He condensed a longer term paper and submitted this for consideration as part of bis
application for tbe BCHF scholarship.
His grandmother and ber friends provided many stories of their experiences
which were echoed in tbe sources listed
in the footnotes.
1. Robert S. Patterson, "Voices From the Past: The
Personal and Professional Struggle of Rural School
Teachers" in School in the West: Fssa]* in
Canadian FxtucutionulHistory, eds. N.M.
Sheehan, J.D. Wilson and D.C. Jones. Calgary;
Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1984, p. 110.
2. J.D. Wilson and Paul J. Stonz, " 'May the Lord Have
Mercy on You' The Rum I Sch(X)l Problem in
British Columbia in the 1920s." B.C. Studies, v. 79
(Fall 1988), p. 40.
3. J. Calam, Alex Lord's British Columbia: Recollections
of u Rural School Inspector, 1915-36. Vancouver:
UBC Press, 1991, p. 16.
4. Veronica Strong-Boag, Ihe New Day Recalled.
Mississauga: Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1988, p. 63.
5. J.D. Wilson, "1 Am Here To Help You If You Need
Me," Journal of Canadian Studies, v. 25 (2)
(Summer 1990), p. 97.
6. Calam, 13.
7. Wilson, 98.
8. Wilson, 97.
9. Strong-Boag, 64.
10. Strong-Boag, 64-65.
11. Calam, 13.
12. Calam, 14.
13. J.D. Wilson and Paul J. Stonz, " 'May the Lord Have
Mercy on You': The Rural Schcxil Problem in
British Columbia," B.C. Studies, v. 79 (Fall 1988).
p. 31.
14. David C. Jones, "Creating Rural-Minded Teachers:
The British Columbian Experience" in Shaping Tl)e
Schools ofthe Canadian West, eds. David C. Jones,
Nancy M. Sheehan and Robert M. Stamp. Calgary:
Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1979, p. 159
15- Patterson, 107.
16. Wilson and Stonz, 47.
17. Patterson, 109.
18. Patterson, 108.
19. Wilson and Stonz, 4.
20. Calam, 14.
21. Wilson and Stonz, 29.
22. Calam, 14.
23. Wilson and Stonz, 48.
24. Wilson and Stonz, 48.
25. Wilson and Stonz, 29.
26. Wilson and Siortz, 28.
27. Wilson and Stonz, 29.
28. Calam, 10.
29. Wilson and Stonz, 32.
30. Wilson and Stonz, 46.
31. Calam, 10.
32. J.D. Wilson. "Lottie Bowron and Rural Women
Teachers in British Columbia, 1928-1934" in
British Columbia Reconsidered, eds. Gillian Creese
and Veronica Strong-Boag. Vancouver: Press Gang
Publishers, 1992, p. 345.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
28 33. Wilson, 346.
34. Wilson, 346.
35. Calam, 15.
36. Calam, 15.
37. Wilson and Stortz, 46.
38. Patterson, 107.
39. Wilson and Stortz, 45.
40. Calam, 15.
41. Calam, 16.
42. Strong-Boag, 64.
43. Wilson, 104.
44. Wilson, 104.
45. Patterson, 107.
46. Wilson, 105.
47. Wilson, 107.
48. Patterson, 106.
49. Patterson, 105.
50. Wilson and Stortz, 44.
51. Wilson, 107.
52. Patterson, 104.
53. Patterson, 105.
54. Patterson, 105.
55. The Daily Province. "Jury Censures School Board
Over Island Teacher's Death And Urges They Be
Removed." November 17, 1928, p. 3.
56. Wilson, 340.
57. The Daily Province. "School Board Is Fired After
Girl's Suicide." November 21, 1928, p. 2.
58. The Daily Province. November 17, 1928, 3.
59. The Daily Province. "Victoria Women Are Up In
Arms." November 20, 1928, p. 3.
60. Wilson and Stortz, 40.
61. Wilson, 342.
62. Wilson, 357.
63. Patterson, 106.
Calam, J., ed. Alex Lord's British Columbia:
Recollections of a Rural School Inspector, 1915-36.
Vancouver: UBC Press, 1991.
Jones, David C. "Creating Rural-Minded Teachers: The
British Columbian Experience" in Shaping The Schools
of tbe Canadian West, eds. David C. Jones, Nancy M.
Sheehan and Robert M. Stamp. Calgary: Detselig
Enterprises Ltd., 1979.
Patterson, Robert S. "Voices From the Past: The
Personal and Professional Struggle of Rural School
Teachers" in School in the West: Essays in Canadian
Educational History, eds. N.M. Sheehan, J.D. Wilson
and D.C. Jones. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises Ltd.,
Strong-Boag, V. The New Day Recalled. Mississauga:
Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1988.
The Daily Province. "Jury Censures School Board Over
Island Teacher's Death And Urges They Be Removed."
November 17, 1928: 3.
The Daily Province. "School Board Is Fired After Girl's
Suicide." November 21, 1928: 1-2.
The Daily Province. "Victoria Women Are Up In Arms."
November 20, 1928: 3.
Wilson, J.D. "I Am Here To Help You If You Need Me:
British Columbia's Rural Teachers' Welfare Officer,
1928-1934." Journal of Canadian Studies, v. 25 (2)
(Summer 1990): 94-118.
Wilson, J.D. and Paul J. Stonz. " 'May the Lord Have
Mercy on You': The Rural School Problem in British
Columbia in the 1920s." B.C. Studies, v. 79 (Fall 1988):
Wilson, J.D. "Lottie Bowron and Rural Women
Teachers in British Columbia, 1928-1934" in British
Columbia Reconsidered, eds. Gillian Creese and
Veronica Strong-Boag. Vancouver: Press Gang
Publishers, 1992.
The Stagecoach and The Sleigh
on the Kootenay Flats 100 Years Ago
(Ed. Note: The alternate spellings of Kootenay and Kootenai
are correct. The former is used
in Canada; Kootenai is an
American spelling.)
Pioneer transportation on the
Kootenay Flats usually brings to mind
the pack train or later the sternwheel
steamboat. From 1885 to 1898, however,
the stagecoach provided a major link in
the transportation chain, giving the
Kootenay Flats and Kootenay Lake access to a railway.
Between 1885 and 1891, two competing stagecoach services, those of Skinner & Co. and of Smith & Feather,
worked from the Northern Pacific Railroad transfer point at Kootenai Station
on Pend Oreille Lake north over the
Pack River Pass wagon road to Bonners
Ferry, thence up the Kootenai River to
Crossport. Travellers bound for the
Kootenay Flats or Kootenay Lake transferred at Bonners Ferry and headed
downstream on one of the small screw-
propelled steamers Galena, Halys or
by Edward L. Affleck
Over one hundred years ago, in 1892,
the Great Northern Railway opened rail
service between Spokane and Bonners
Ferry. This service coincided with the
rush north to the Slocan mining camps
west of Kootenay Lake. The Nelson,
Spokane, Alberta and other
sternwheelers having larger carrying
capacity than their screw-propelled
mates then took over the bulk of the
river traffic downstream from Bonners
With the arrival of the Great Northern
Railway, Skinner & Co. pulled out of
the stage service. The resourceful Sam
Smith, however, decided to maintain
reduced stage service on his existing
routes and to extend his stage routes
down the Kootenai River. He had a considerable investment in real estate at
Kootenai Station, as well as a large barn
and feed store and hotel in the Eatonville
section of Bonners Ferry. He was aware
that in the late fall, low water in the
Kootenai River made it difficult for
steamers to work up over a ledge in the
river bed several miles below Bonners
Ferry. Furthermore, should ice form on
the river, a channel could not be kept
open above Porthill, or in very bitter
weather, above Chambers City, a landing on the Kootenay River channel at
about the latitude of present-day
Wynndel. Smith accordingly opened a
stage service between Bonners Ferry and
Porthill, working as far downstream as
Chambers City when business offered.
The primitive road downstream to
Porthill guaranteed a rough trip by stage.
In the winter, Sam Smith would make a
sleigh trail, and conveyance by sleigh
was a much smoother proposition.
There was sufficient hotel and saloon
accommodation at Porthill to provide
adequate comfort to a traveller awaiting the arrival of a steamer working her
way up from Kootenay Lake. The picture was bleak, however, whenever ice
closed the channel as far downstream
as Chambers City, as the sleigh traveller
awaiting the arrival of a steamboat at
that point was thrown on the mercy of
the single establishment operated by Mr.
Chambers. This establishment offered no
refreshment other than the liquid variety. Beds, benches and chairs were non-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 existent. The traveller desperate to rest
his feet had perforce to commandeer a
bar stool and order a drink.
In January 1898, Smith was in the vanguard in opening up a sleigh road from
Bonners Ferry to Moyie Lake and made
good money hauling supplies into the
camp on Moyie Lake for the construction in progress of the B.C. Southern
Railway between Cranbrook and
Kootenay Lake. By July 1898 a contract
had been let for more railway construction, this time the Great Northern Railway's branch lines down from Bonners
Ferry to Kuskonook. Sam Smith sagely
decided at this time to retire from staging to his ranch on the west side of the
Kootenai River above Porthill and to get
into the contracting business. With the
completion of the B.C. Southern Railway in November 1898, traffic for the
Kootenay Flats could come in from Nelson and transfer to the new railway at
Kootenay Landing, and with the forecast completion in 1899 of the Great
Northern branch lines (i.e., the Kootenay
Railway & Navigation Co.) down from
Bonners Ferry to Kuskonook, there
would be little traffic offered to a stage
line, since one or the other of the two
new railway lines would be in a position to service just about every point on
the east side of the Kootenay River between the lake and Bonners Ferry. The
Great Northern service actually did not
get completely underway until 1900, but
throughout the 1899-1900 winter the
steamer Alberta was able to work up to
Porthill and make the transfer there with
the section of the Great Northern line
working between Porthill and Bonners
Ferry. On several of the Alberta's trips
that winter, she picked up strike-breakers from Minnesota brought in to replace
miners on strike in the mines around
Nelson, Rossland and the Slocan.
It is a pity that Sam Smith did not commit his memoirs to writing as he must
have had a fund of tales to tell about
his stagecoach experiences. The tales of
extricating the stage from potholes,
slides, fallen trees, etc. must have been
legion. There was also the day in January 1892 that the stage working between
Kootenai Station and Bonners Ferry was
held up and a passenger, Mr. Ed Hundey,
a wealthy Chicago clothier, was relieved
of a considerable amount of jewellry.
The steamboats on the Kootenay
This map of southeast British Columbia and adjacent American states shows many of tbe
points referred to in The David McLoughUn Story" and "Stagecoach and Sleigh on tbe
Kootenay Flats." Tbe railways built in tbe 1890s followed tbe rivers fairly closely.
which Sam Smith's stage line serviced
have long vanished from the scene, and
many of tlie rails which put him out of
business have disappeared also. Let us
ensure that Sam Smith is assigned a rightful place in the record of pioneer transportation in the Kootenay Valley.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
30 Christmas in Sumas in the 1870s
by Shirley Cuthbertson
When I was small, my mother used
to do my hair, and I didn't like it, so she
would tell me stories to keep me still.
Her mother's family, the Chadseys, lived
at Sumas, between what is now
Abbotsford and Chilliwack, near Sumas
Lake. A while ago, I got her to tell me
the Christmas story once again.
Would you tell me the story about
Christmas when Grandpa was a little
Christmas must have been a happy
time in the valley - it was one time when
families got together and enjoyed the
day with each other, which they couldn't
do every day of the week. Travel was
difficult and their farms weren't too
close, but at Christmas time they enjoyed
the day together, especially if it turned
out to be a fine day. The Chadsey brothers had each had the rest of the family
for Christmas for several years, and finally one of the sisters-in-law decided
that there were just too many. She wasn't
going to have them all in her house.
About how many would there be? The
1870s- that's quite early.
Yes, it's early, but when you put the
children together, there were three or
four in each family, and with husbands,
wives, bachelor neighbours, etc., it was
becoming quite a crowd and she decided that they wouldn't do it any more.
So my grandfather took it literally, and
decided that if she wasn't going to do
it, then he would give the Christmas
dinner. They weren't going to just stay
home, he would see to it that it was
prepared and served.
How was he going to do it?
Well, no one knows how he dreamed
up the plan but he started out the day
before Christmas and he went to see
his brother James. At that time the two
of them were operating a flour mill, but
he didn't intend to go to work. He went
to his sister's home, Mrs. Miller's (Laura
Chadsey), and there he found his sister
and her husband enjoying their supper.
Not wanting to disturb them, he went
into the storehouse, which was usually
separated from the kitchen ofthe house
or from the dining room. There might
be a pantry and an outside kitchen too,
so the storeroom would be quite separate. The outside pantry was very cold
in the winter. It hadn't any heat in it
and therefore it was a good place to
store things when there were no fridges.
He took everything my dad's Aunt Laura
had in her pantry - everything that she
had prepared for Christmas Day - and
stored everything away in the box on
the wagon. While he was doing this, he
was caught by his mother. Fortunately,
she saw the point that he was making
and she helped him to gather up all the
things he had missed. Then he set out
for Mrs. James Chadsey's and on the way
he met Mrs. Chester Chadsey (Aunt
Hannah) driving in her buggy with the
twin boys.
He had plans to get the big Christmas
cake which was at her home. The cake
was really something because it had icing on it and that was something almost
unheard-of in those days. It had been
made in a milk-pan, so it was very big.
He called out to her that he was going
to get her Christmas cake and, of course,
she told him that was impossible, besides, she said, he couldn't get into the
house. So away he went, but just as he
was leaving, one of the twins shouted,
"Uncle Will, the cake's in the ... " and
his mother clapped her hand over his
mouth - so it was in the something, but
he didn't know what.
At his brother James's place, he found
Mrs. Harriet Chadsey working away preparing her Christmas dinner, as they
were all doing. Her pies were out in the
pantry, put on the ledge to cool, and he
removed them, adding them to his collection in the wagon. Then he went
round to the door and asked them to
come to dinner the next day, after having removed their pies. While he was
talking to them, he backed up to the
door and took the key from their house.
Why did he do that?
Locks were not very safe in those days,
because one key would unlock most
doors, and when he got to Chester
Chadsey's house he let himself in and
set to work to take all that was there.
All the preparations had been made, all
the food was ready, but he couldn't find
the cake. He was almost ready to leave
and then he began to think what the
boy had said to him - "... in the ... ."
He had been in all the rooms, but hadn't
found it and suddenly he thought of the
grand piano, which was a big, square
instrument. It was a type of grand piano which was rectangular and very
large. When he went to the piano it was
locked, so right away he knew that there
must be a reason for locking it. He got
a nail and picked the lock and, when
he opened it, there was the cake - a
marvellous cake to add to his collection, of course.
Before leaving, he thought he would
be good, so he set the table for breakfast for them all. He put a hazelnut on
everybody's plate.
The next visit he made was to the
minister's home, the Methodist minister, Reverend Bryant. Mrs. Bryant was
very busy preparing everything for their
Christmas dinner, but she entered into
the spirit of the affair and offered to help
him. In fact, she worked all that night
cooking the things he had brought,
cleaning the birds if they were not already cleaned, making the stuffing and
baking them. Pies and extras were ready
and loaded in his wagon, of course.
Reverend Bryant had been away in
New Westminster and was trying to get
home for Christmas. The boat was very
late and when he arrived at Miller's landing about one in the morning, he saw
his house brilliandy lit up - lights in all
the downstairs windows. He rushed
home as fast as he could, thinking someone was ill in the house, and there he
found his wife helping to prepare all
the stolen food.
Then Will Chadsey proceeded to his
brother George's home, where he
picked up more contributions to his
dinner, all carefully prepared by Aunty
Lizzy (Eliza Jane). His last call was to
the McGillivray home where Mrs.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 McGillivray was preparing their dinner, and
going in and out of the pantry. He wasn't
able to steal anything he really wanted, but
he did get quite a few apples.
What about Mrs. Chadsey, your
Of course, Uncle Will's wife, Mary
Jane, was also preparing for the dinner
and doing all the extras which would
help to make the dinner a success. She
had a lovely sense of humour and she
wanted all the family together too.
Through the night he continued working, getting lumber for tables and
benches, and everything else that was
necessary for his Christmas plan.
Christinas Day, the next day, was beautiful. I've heard of that from other relatives. It was like a spring day. On his way
to the school where the party was to be
held, he passed the home of Mrs. George
Chadsey - Aunt Lizzy, who scolded him
for working on that day. He told her that
because the Christmas dinner was off, he
might as well work, why waste the time?
He suggested to her that before he started
work, a piece of pie would taste good,
and she went to get him a piece. Up until
that moment, she hadn't been aware of
what had disappeared out of her pantry
... it was as bare as Mother Hubbard's
In the meantime, Will had dispatched
riders with invitations to dinner, men
who worked on his farm, and Indians,
who took invitations to all the bachelors
in the area as far as they could go. He
invited other people to come, people
who were in the midst of their own
preparations for their own Christmas
dinners. Mrs. Kipp even had her puddings on the stove when they got Will
Chadsey's invitation, so she packed the
puddings and the children up and
brought everything.
You can imagine how happy all the
bachelors were ... to be invited out for
Christmas dinner was really special, so
everybody came, everybody for miles
around. All the Chadseys and the Millers, Reverend and Mrs. Bryant, the Wells,
all the Kipps, Mr. and Mrs. Ashwell, Mr.
and Mrs. McCutcheon, the Reeces,
William Barker, Harry Barber and
Horatio Webb, the Vedders, the Evans
and the Halls ... It was a glorious day
and a marvellous Christmas dinner, all
thanks to Will Chadsey. The children had
a tug-of-war and races outdoors, they
had the dinner in the schoolhouse, and
everyone was happy with their Christmas dinner together again.
Who told you this story?
It was my own dad, Will Kipp, who
married Annie Chadsey (Will Chadsey's
daughter), who told me the story. He
wasn't very old, so he didn't remember
everything, but his older brothers and sisters remembered that Christmas Day and
everyone used to talk about it. Everyone
used to tell their story a little differently.
Shirley Cutbbertson is on staff at tbe
Royal British Columbia Museum. Sbe is
a keen participant at Historical Society/
Federation events. Sbe heard this story
from ber mother.
Mrs. Velma B. Cuthbertson (nee Kipp) and Will Kipp
(her father), "Christmas With Chilliwack Pioneers in
1873," Chilliwack Progress, M.A. Barber, 193? (Horatio
Webb told Mr. Barter the story).
Commander Charles Rufus Robson, RN:
Local Hero
Most residents of Esquimalt and Victoria are aware of the Veterans' Cemetery on the Gorge Vale golf course, but
fewer know of the "Naval Corner" at
the Old Quadra Street Cemetery. This
corner contains the headstones and remains of a number of naval personnel
and civilian mariners, many of whom
met their deaths in tragic circumstances
during the nineteenth century. Most of
the headstones are badly weathered, and
some have been moved from other locations. In an effort to maintain this small
segment of our naval past, the Retired
Naval Officers' Association recently donated $10,000 to the Old Cemetery Society for a memorial to the naval people
who are interred at Pioneer Square.
One of the officers who is named on
the new memorial is Lieut. Charles Rufus
Robson, Commander of the HMS For-
by Paul C. Appleton
ward, who was recognized as a real "local hero" at the time of his funeral on
November 8,1861. The esteem in which
Robson was held may be judged by the
attendance at the funeral, estimated at
1,500, and by the presence of Governor
James Douglas at the Christ Church ceremonies in Victoria.
The Colonist reported that the body
of Lieut. Robson was brought into the
harbour by the gunboat Grappler, accompanied by five boats from the Topaz and the Hecate. The shore party was
led by a company of marines, who were
followed by the band from the Topaz.
A gun-carriage drawn by sailors came
next, carrying the flag-draped coffin,
then the ship's company from HMS Forward, the officers from his ship, and
Governor Douglas. Some 500 mourners walked to the strains of the Dead
March as they proceeded to the church.
Commander Robson's death was certainly tragic - the result of being thrown
from a horse - a type of accident by no
means uncommon at the time. On Sunday, October 27, he was out riding near
Esquimalt when a sheep ran between
the legs of his horse, throwing both
horse and rider. Paralyzed from a spinal
injury and with a fractured skull, he was
taken to the Naval Hospital at Skinner's
Cove in Esquimalt - today the site of
the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military
Museum. In spite of a valiant effort by
the Medical Officer, Dr. Forbes, Robson
died on November 5, 1861, at the age
of forty-seven.
Not much is known about Commander Robson's early life, only that he
left a wife and a clergyman father in
Yorkshire. However, the newspaper re-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
32 port does provide us with information
that explains why he was so honoured
at the time of his death,
Several stories demonstrate that he
was a brave and capable officer. In 1850,
while serving in the West Indies, he
volunteered to take command of an
American vessel sailing from West Africa to Philadelphia when all of its officers had died of yellow fever. During the
sixty-nine-day passage he too got the
plague, but still managed to remain in
command from his sick berth.
Later, during the Crimean War, he was
mentioned in dispatches while serving
in the Baltic. However, these were not
the reasons for the esteem which Robson
enjoyed among the colonists. This was
based on his leadership in command of
HMS Forward, one of the two screw-
driven gunboats which were fitted in
1859 for service to counter "Indian
threats and American aggrandizement"
along the B.C. coast. The 103-foot Forward and her sister ship Grappler, with
complements of forty, armed with 68-
pounders forward, 32-pounders aft, and
two 24-pound howitzers amidships,
were an effective show of power to carry
out their mandate.
Under Robson's command, HMS Forward engaged in two police actions
against the Kwakiutl tribe that lived
around Cape Mudge, on the southern
tip of Quadra Island south of Campbell
River. Numbering about 4,000, they were
seen as decidedly aggressive and undisciplined by Governor Douglas. In the
summer of I860 a party of them attacked
and robbed some boats off Saltspring
Island and escaped back to Cape Mudge.
Sent to retrieve the stolen property and
capture the culprits, Lieut. Robson was
forced to bombard the native stockade
in order to achieve his objective.
The second, more serious, action took
place in May of 1861. According to reports, a band of marauding Haidas
stripped and looted a schooner at Victoria, ransacked some houses on
Saltspring Island, stole a great deal of
Lieut. Charles Rufus Robson
Photo courtesy of BCARS #3819
property and threatened the lives of the
settlers there. About thirty canoes strong,
they proceeded to Nanaimo where they
tried to sell the stolen goods. This
prompted the local magistrate to appeal
for a gunboat to go after the culprits.
On May 17,1861, the Forwardamved
at Cape Mudge. Robson tried to settle
the matter peacefully, but was met with
defiance and was forced to fire a warning shot over the native camp. When
the Haida replied in kind, Robson be
gan to fire on their canoes and a general skirmish began. Eventually the principal chief capitulated and after a long
interrogation Robson was able to make
some arrests. His action in using "gunboat diplomacy" against the natives was
seen as justifiable by his superiors and
naturally met with the full approval of
the Council of the colony. In the eyes
of the settlers, Robson was something
of a hero for acting with much firmness
and discretion.
Commander Robson was also involved in two rescue operations that
especially endeared him to the American population in Victoria, swelled to
large numbers due to the Fraser River
gold rush. In December of I860 the
Peruvian brig Florencia was dismasted
in a storm below Cape Flattery, and the
Forward was ordered to her aid. Arriving at Nootka Sound, Robson heard of
the loss of the U.S. brig Consort further
south. Turning back, he rescued eighteen Americans marooned at Carchina
and returned to tow the Florencia to
Victoria. Unfortunately the tow line
parted in a gale two days later and the
brig drifted away. After two days of
searching, Robson managed to locate
her and resume the tow. Continuing
storms prevented Forward from going
south, so Robson went around the north
end of the Island and brought the
Florencia safely to Nanaimo.
The Americans at Victoria were deeply
appreciative of Robson's errands of
mercy. A number of them sent a petition to the American Senate and Robson
received a citation from President Lincoln for his actions.
Thanks to the efforts of the Royal
Canadian Naval Association and the Victoria Old Cemeteries Society, Charles
Rufus Robson and his brothers-in-arms
will continue to be remembered by future generations of Victorians. Both Pioneer Square and the Esquimalt Naval
Museum, formerly the hospital where
Robson died, are well worth a visit by
anyone interested in our naval heritage
on the west coast.
Tbe author is tbe secretary of tbe
Esquimalt Naval Museums and Archives
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 The Bridge That Jack Built
by Alice Bjorn
A dilemma in the Chilcotin was solved
by good neighbours and considerable
ingenuity. Wayne and Trina Plummer
were managing Neil Harvey's Deer
Creek Ranch on the south side of the
Chilcotin River. They began to discuss
how they could arrange for their son
Levi, almost six, to catch a school bus
to Alexis Creek. The bus ran on the
Chilcotin Highway on the north side of
the river. The road into Deer Creek
Ranch crosses an alkali flat which becomes an impassable bog several times
each year. At those times the Plummers
left a vehicle on each side of the bog,
leaving one and walking across to pick
up the other. This questionable route
would mean driving thirty-six miles each
school day.
If they were to bridge the river, however,
it would be necessary to build only half a
mile of road from the ranch to the river bank
and another 0.8 miles (1.3 km) through Dan
Lee's ranch to the main highway.
Jack Casselman, a fifty-four-year-old
neighbour, had just sold his Brittany Lake
Ranch so was looking for a new challenge. He promised to investigate the
possibility of spanning the river with a
suspension bridge. He visited Vancouver and studied the Capilano and other
bridges. On his return he recruited
Wayne Plummer's brother-in-law, Lynn
Bonner of Riske Creek. Two and a half
months later the bridge was ready.
First they bulldozed holes in the river bank
and embedded concrete anchor blocks 12
x 8 x 6 feet (3.6 x 2.4 x 1.8 meters). They
then stretched two cables across the 280-
foot (85 meters) wide river - starting with a
light rope taken across by rowboat. Several
attempts were needed to have the boat touch
the opposite bank and hand off rope at the
desired point because of the swift current.
The main cables are one-inch (25 mm) thick,
capable of holding fifty tons (45,500 kg);
the drop cables are 5Ae steel rated between
five and six tons apiece. The cross pieces
for the walkway are Douglas fir 4 x 4s and
the planking one-inch pine boards. The
cables were pulled into place over a 35-foot
(10.6 metres) A-frame of peeled poles on
Viewing tbe bridge across tbe
Chilcotin River from its north
anchor. Note tbe edge planks.
Alice Bjom photo
Beede. Trina and Levi relished the enclosed comfort when the temperature
plummeted or the snow was swirling.
The author walked across the bridge
first in 1976 when Jack's family was taken
to admire the handiwork. It was a calm
day so Jack simulated the swing that could
be felt with a breeze ... and I felt the
onset of motion sickness. My admiration
grew for the mother who transported her
six-year-old across this bridge on a motorcycle. We saw it again in 1983 when
we gathered to attend Jack's funeral. By
this time Levi was a high school student
boarding in Williams Lake and coming
home for the occasional weekend. The
Volkswagen was used for a couple of
seasons, supplemented by a snowmobile
the south shore then anchored in
a cribbed approach platform. Jack
hung straps then laid planks to
create a bridge deck that is four
feet (1.2 metres) wide.
They had a bit of a party when
the bridge opened in that summer of 1976. Trina broke a
champagne bottle over it (after
the guys had removed the contents). It was dubbed "The
Bridge That Jack Built." But Jack
Casselman requested that Lynn Bonner
share the honour so some refer to it as
the Cassel-Lynn bridge.
The bridge cost $8,000, paid by ranch
owner Neil Harvey. This covered supplies
and a small wage for Jack Casselman and
his helpers. Paul St. Piene speculated that:
"This, by a quick calculation, amounts to
between one-twentieth and one-thirtieth
of the cost if it had been a government
project, but it wasn't."
Trina Plummer took her little son
across that bridge every morning and
again in the afternoon. He rode behind
her on a motorcycle. When the wind
blows hard down the Chilcotin valley,
the bridge has both a ripple and a whip,
taking the pleasure out of riding. Wayne
added vertical planks at the edges as a
safety measure. Next he cut the fenders
and running board off a Volkswagen
"T     t
The south end of tbe bridge that Jack built
Alice Bjom photo
when snow conditions demanded this. A
three-wheeled ATV cycle then became the
vehicle of choice and is still used today.
The bridge approach sports warning
signs: "Cross at your own risk." After all,
it was a private project built by do-it-yourself Cariboo neighbours, and Cariboo residents are a hardy and resourceful breed.
Alice Bjorn is tbe wife of an East
Kootenay rancher and big game guide.
Sbe shared tbe work of these operations
until recently when sbe moved into
Cranbrook. Sbe is sister to fack
Casselman. These are ber memories,
supplemented by a Vancouver Sun article written in 1976.
Paul St. Pierre column, October 30, 1976, Vancouver
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
Do you have personal memories of life in North
Vancouver or have you unearthed an interesting story set in this district? If so, please share
them. Write them down, formally or informally,
and send your contribution to the North Shore
Historical Society, c/o Robert Brown, 2327
Kilmarnock Crescent, North Vancouver, B.C.
V7J 2Z3.
The Bayliff family of Chilancoh Ranch near
Redstone and the Durrell family of the
Wineglass Ranch near Riske Creek received
Century Ranch Awards from Agriculture
Minister David Zirnhelt. The awards are given
to ranches that have been in operation for one
hundred years or more. The Bayliffs have been
ranching since 1887 (see BCH News Vol. 21
No. 1), the Durrells since 1893.
A banquet designated as a tribute to
Margaret Ormsby
was held in Kelowna
in conjunction with
the B.C. Studies '94
conference. Guest
speakers were
Vaughn Palmer of
The Vancouver Surr,
John Bovey,
Provincial Archivist;
and Chad Reimer, a
student. The thrust
was to acquaint
those present with
the fund-raising
currently underway to establish a prestigious
and worthwhile scholarship for graduate
studies focused on British Columbia. Four
graduate students are devoting considerable
time canvassing for donations. The Margaret
Ormsby Scholarship will be under Heritage
Trust. Donations have been allowed 100 per
cent tax deduction status by the government of
British Columbia. Mail your cheque to:
Margaret Ormsby Scholarship Committee,
1454 Begbie Street, Victoria, B.C. V8R 1K7.
Margaret Ormsby at tbe
Kelowna dinner held in ber
honour October 8, 1994.
CHIUIWACK MAY 4, 5, 6,1995
Members of branches of the B.C. Historical
Federation will receive information and
registration forms via their local secretary in
February. Any non-member may ask for details
and registration for the program of speakers
and tours from Ron Denman, 45820 Spadina
Avenue, Chilliwack, B.C. V2P 1T3. Phone
(604) 795-5210 or (604) 794-3688 (evenings).
Heather Bruce of Kelowna is researching
Sunday School Vans much more extensively
than your editor. She has read many inches of
files in archives and is now in England
researching Eva Hasell's home and life there.
Heather also hoped to liven her findings with
personal stories. She circulated an appeal via
newspapers in 1993 and to date has received
251 replies. "So many stories. Ministers
chuckle over Eva Hasell's battles with bishops;
Vanners (in their 80s) tell of their adventures;
bus and truck drivers recall marvelling at two
women braving the roads of our Canadian
past; women who were once lonely remember
the delight of having other women to talk to
and share a cup of tea with. I also hear from
'precious jewels' - the kids, like me, now
middle-aged and not quite so sparkly!" (See
BCH Wetvs Vol. 27 No. 4, p. 10.)
The first winner of the $500 B.C. Historical
Federation Scholarship given at the end of the
second year of studies is Robert Wright of
Coquitlam. This student attended Douglas
College in 1993-94 and is now enrolled at
Simon Fraser University. He was presented
with his award at the September 21 meeting
of the Vancouver Historical Society.
The 100th meeting of B.C. Heritage Trust
took place in Nelson October 20-22
(approximately six meetings per year since
its inception in 1978). To celebrate this
occasion a reception was held, which was
attended by heritage workers from several
Kootenay communities: Kaslo, Sandon, New
Denver, Silverton, Castlegar, Rossland,
Grand Forks and Nelson. The host community is invited to nominate two local volunteers
for the Heritage Trust Merit Awards. A unanimous choice was Ron Welwood, who is now
our first vice-president and chief organizer of
our 1997 BCHF conference. This conference is
to be held jointly with the Heritage Society of
B.C. May 29-^June 2,1997.
ELEK IMREDY 1912-1994
Sculptor Elek Imredy is best known for his
statue of "Girl in a Wet Suit' perched on a rock
near Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park. He
also produced the life-size bronze statue of
former Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent which
stands in front of the Supreme Court building in
Ottawa; Judge Matthew Begbie in New
Westminster; Charles Melville Hays, president
of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in front of
Prince Ruperfs City Hall; and the Mariners'
Memorial on the Prince Rupert harbour front.
Elek and his wife Peggy were active members
of the Vancouver Historical Society. Donations
in his memory may be sent to the Vancouver
Historical Society Bibliography Fund, P.O. Box
3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6, or to the
Vancouver City Archives or the Vancouver
Maritime Museum.
The 1994 winner of the Governor General's
Person's Award was Rose Charlie of Agassiz.
The title "Person's Award" originated from the
legal language used in a 1929 decision by the
British Privy Council that Canadian women
were "persons" and eligible to hold office.
Grand Chief Rose Charlie, a founding member
of the group Indian Rights for Indian Women,
received the award for her work to help change
legislation that deprived aboriginal women of
their status when they married non-Indians.
This announcement came too late to be
included in our "Women's History Month" issue.
Vancouver hosted the 26th Annual Conference
of Historical and Underwater Archaeology in
January 1994. The 1995 conference is to be
held in Washington, D.C. If any of our readers
wish details, apply to Laurence E. Babits,
Maritime History Department, East Carolina
University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858-
4353 or phone (919) 757-6788.
MARK MAY 4, 5, 6,1995
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 BOOKSHELF
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the Book Review Editor:
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Dictionary of Canadian Biography,
volume XIII, 1901-1910
Ramsay Cook, ed. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1994. 1295 p., $85
It is a pleasure to see this thirteenth
volume of the Dictionary of Canadian
Biography published for two reasons: it
is a sign that this important scholarly work
is still in progress and, secondly, it brings
us into the first decade of the present century. The project, which was launched
with the publishing of volume one (1000-
1700) in 1966, has often wavered but
has never failed to maintain the high
standards originally established.
Due to financial cutbacks, major
changes have been made which will see
volumes published by decades from
1901-1940 instead of shorter time periods with more volumes, which was the
original plan. The coverage of the lives
and work of Canadian men and women
from all areas of Canada will be retained.
The dictionary will, therefore, always be
of the greatest importance as a major reference work for a study of Canada.
Volume XIII, which covers those Canadians of importance who died between
1901 and 1910, has 648 individual biographies contributed by 438 authors.
Family names are used rather than titles,
married names, pseudonyms, etc. Cross
references are provided from alternative
names to those under which the main
biography appears. A detailed section of
editorial notes and abbreviations provides
the information needed to clarify the various methods of entry.
The volume ends with an extensive
general bibliography, list of contributors,
index of categories, i.e., accountants,
criminals (4) and indigenous peoples,
among others, under which are listed the
names of those who have biographies in
the main text.
A two-part geographical index follows:
place of birth and career. Both listings are
under the present provinces and territories as well as foreign countries. A nominal index concludes the volume. This is
a listing of those whose names appear in
the texts of the biographies. Page references are included for these.
The major part of the volume consists
of the biographies arranged alphabetically. These vary in length from less than
a page to three or more. Each biography
concludes with a bibliography which lists
sources of information.
The British Columbia entries cover a
wide range of activities. Due to the comparative youth of the province at the turn
of the century, only two of the subjects
were born in the province. There are over
seventy B.C. names included in the biographical section and more appear in the
nominal listing.
The volumes of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography are very easy to use.
The indexes assist in locating specific references. The format and type are clear
and the paper is of excellent quality, all
of which make this an outstanding work
which will retain its importance. Let us
hope that nothing prevents the future
volumes from being published.
Melva J. Dwyer
Melva Dwyer is the treasurer ofthe
Vancouver Historical Society.
Cancelled wtih Pride: A History of
Chilliwack Area Post Offices
Cecil C. Courts. Abbotsford, Cecil Courts,
1993. 188 p., illus. $26
This book covers postal history in the
Chilliwack area from colonial times to the
present. It can be read with pleasure and
respect by anyone with an interest in
stamps and the postal history of the district. It is a model which I hope will inspire others to follow for their own
localities. They will find it hard to surpass.
One is left with an urge to track down
and solve some of the unanswered questions, and a sense that if Mr. Courts has
been unable to find the answers, then the
task will be tough indeed.
The book is physically pleasing in layout and carefully and generously illustrated. There is no sense of crowding, nor
yet of wasted white space. The type is of
good size and easy to read, uncramped
and free of compository error. The maps
are both clear and legible. By contrast,
many otherwise notable authors have
produced admirable texts let down by
inferior maps. Too few and lacking in
detail, they are often photographically
reduced to illegibility, except perhaps to
archie and mehitabel. I myself would
have liked some indication of physical elevation, which justifies the location of
buildings and routes.
Perhaps there should have been some
further clarification of those times when
mail for the CPR had to cross the river to
Harrison Mills. Slips? The landlubber's redundant "the" before HMCS Rainbow on
page 134. It is also questionable whether
the full text of the Cultus Lake recreation
site lease is vital for a postal history.
Enrichments of this kind do, however, give
a valuable sense of time, place and social
resourcefulness and I was interested to
compare it with more recent agreements
of the same kind in which I have been involved. On the whole, I think such digressions are acceptable and widen the appeal
of the book, providing they are not overdone, which is not the case here.
It was a pleasure to find the section on
slogans. It nudged from some recess of
my mind agreeable memories of my father-in-law, Victor Swan, JPS, who produced the first catalogues of British
slogans from 1917 to 1957. And who also
financed continental holidays by taking
with him an envelope full of flawed or
unusual stamps carefully selected from
bulk to sell to Paris dealers.
With the onset of phone, radio and fax,
there is an ultimate sadness about this
book. It is, after all, about the resolve of
a community of resourceful pioneers to
set up and maintain contact with the rest
of Canada, with the help of what was then
a more appreciative government. I have
supported the movement to retain rural
post ofices, some of which have been lost
in the search for lower cost. Fortunately,
Canada Post has latterly relented sufficiently to retain some historic names and
codes with the new contractors. It is never
fair to compare rural costs with urban
costs for service, whether roads, postal
service or hydro and telephone. Rural
distribution costs will always be greater.
They are a very small price to pay for the
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
pleasure and comfort of having cities with
extensive surrounding agricultural, recreational and resource areas. Also for the
incidental inconveniences of communication in our dear, incomparable province of mountains and fjords.
I think I'll paste an envelope in the back
of our copy to receive any suitable postcards or other junk-shop treasures I find
which will amplify a very enjoyable read.
Francis Sleigh
Francis Sleigh, former treasurer of the B.C.
Historical Federation, lives near Chilliwack.
The Legacy and The Challenge: A
Century of the Forest Industry at
Cowichan Lake
Richard Rajala. Lake Cowichan Heritage
Advisory Committee, 1993.142 p., $12.95
When asked why history is worth bothering with, I usually answer that if we don't
know where we've been, we'll never figure out where we're going. The best illustration of this epigram can be found in the
British Columbia forest industry. Long the
mainstay of the provincial economy, it is
now floundering under the burden of its
own misguided mythologies.
Socially, politically, economically and
ecologically, the forest industry is a mess.
It is shedding workers at a phenomenal
rate, leaking money in all directions and
infuriating the public with its activities in
the woods. One of the most obvious characteristics of people in and around the
industry is that they have no sense of their
own history. Until very recently, students
in the UBC Faculty of Forestry have been
taught practically nothing about the origins
of the policies and practices of their profession. The people who run the forest
companies, like the government bureaucrats and politicians who attempt to regulate the industry, know little or nothing of
their corporate and institutional past
No wonder we are in trouble.
Richard Rajala is the first professional,
academic historian to take the forest industry as his subject. And, while he has
published several informative and provocative papers on forest history, this is
his first book. His arrival, long since overdue, is most welcome.
The Legacy and The Challenge pur
ports to be the history of the forest industry at Cowichan Lake. In fact, the book
provides far more than the story of a local industry.
The first two chapters are straightforward chronological accounts of the rise
and fall of the logging and milling companies established to exploit the spectacular timber resources of the Cowichan
Valley. They provide the most thorough
and accurate account available of the industry's complex and convoluted development in this region, and bring us up to
the beginning of the 1930s depression.
The third chapter is an account of developments in the labour movement,
which I personally found a bit tedious,
and a unique documentation of pre-war
opposition to the forest practices employed by the industry. This second part
has never been covered elsewhere and
Rajala has done an excellent job of describing the attempts by Chief Forester
E.C. Manning to impose some restraints
on a rapacious industry.
The last two chapters consist of a well-
researched account of post-war forest
policy development and the impact of
those policies on the economy, the people and the environment of the Cowichan
Valley. Rajala has provided a persuasive
description of the failure of provincial
policy over the past fifty years, and shown
how those policies have led to the devastation of the regional economy during
the past decade.
In the end, he has written far more than
a local history. He puts regional history
into a broader context that explains why
events have happened around Cowichan
Lake, and used the history of that region
to demonstrate the failures of provincial
forest policy.
Rajala is a fresh and original thinker.
Anyone who cares about the future of forests and forestry will welcome his presence
and look forward to more of his work.
Ken Drushka
Ken Drushka is the author of Working in the
Woods: A History of Logging on the West Coast,
Whistle Punks & Widow-makers
Robert E Swanson. Madeira Park Harbour
Publishing, 1993.160 p., illus., $29.95
Harbour Publishing, which shared with
us such remarkable talents as Jim
Spilsbury and Bus Griffiths, has discovered yet another Living National Treasure of the west coast of B.C.
He is eighty-nine-year-old Bob
Swanson, who began working in the
woods in his early teens, becoming a steam
donkey fireman at the age of fifteen. His
inventive mind led to a university degree,
largely acquired through independent
study. Most of his working life was with the
provincial government As an inspector of
boilers, tramways, ski lifts and railways, he
became intimately familiar with every logging camp and mining operation on the
west coast He still operates his own company, which designs and produces tuned
air homs. The "O Canada" homs heard in
downtown Vancouver every noon hour
were his creation.
A brilliant engineer and successful businessman, Swanson's creativity is also
expressed in his literary output. In the
1940s he published four volumes of logging poetry, which were collected and reissued in 1992 as Rhymes of a Western
Logger. The twenty-six stories in this
more recent volume were originally published in the trade newspaper Forest and
Mill in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
These stories are essentially character
sketches of loggers Swanson knew during his long career on the coast. His portrayal of the ingenuity, self-reliance and
rugged individualism of the coastal logger is as deft as a high-rigger's top-cut.
There's not enough space here to mention all the characters. There was Jessie
James, the stylish, fun-loving boss logger
who installed a bar in his Cowichan Lake
camp. There was Eight-Day Wilson, the
legendary short-staker who went to extremes to avoid long-term employment.
Curly Hutton, the locomotive engineer
whose method of cleaning the inside of a
Shay boiler was to dump in three sacks
of potatoes. Bull Sling Bill, who was reputed to have won $20,000 at roulette
one morning before breakfast in Dawson
City during the gold rush, only to lose
$30,000 by eleven o'clock. Saul Reamy,
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 BOOKSHELF
the pioneer Gastown logger who preserved
the famous locomotive "Old Curly."
Faithful to the tradition of Paul Bunyan,
Swanson is inclined to, er, exaggerate the
exploits of his heroes. But they were real-
life people, acquaintances of his.
Swanson's intimate and detailed knowledge of the technical, geographical, historical and sociological aspects of the
forest industry make this book a useful
contribution to historical scholarship, in
addition to its entertainment value.
More credit should be given to the contribution by the forestry historian Ken
Drushka who edited and introduced the
book. His account of meeting Bob
Swanson during a "gruelling" book signing tour is priceless in itself. The beautifully
produced archival photos which grace
nearly every page and relate directly to the
text are just as significant. The book's attractive typography and layout and durable binding add to its delighfulness.
I enjoyed this book immensely, but
something about it was disturbing. Like
much of Harbour Publishing's output, it
appeals to white collar urbanites' nostalgic longings. It mythologizes the less-than-
glamourous life of the logger. Does it
unwittingly lend support to the ideology
of the so-called "Share" groups, with their
strident complaints that "loggers are an
endangered species"?
(Bob Swanson died on October 4,1994.)
Jim Bowman
Jim Bowman, an expatriate British Columbian,
is a Calgary archivist.
Taku: The Heart of North America's
Last Great Wilderness
Allison Mitcham, illustrated by Naomi and
Peter Mitcham. Hantsport, N.S.: Lancelot
Press, 1993. 232 p., illus., $14.95
Far Pastures
R.M Patterson. Victoria: Horsdal &
Schubart, 1993. 290 p., illus., $14.95
Trail to the Interior
R.M Patterson. Victoria: Horsdal &
Schubart, 1993. 255 p., illus., $14.95
The Taku country, as Mitcham defines
it for the purposes of Taku: The Heart of
North America's Last Great Wilderness,
"includes the coastal region near the
present city of Juneau, the Taku River and
the immense lakes now known as Atlin and
Teslin." This is the territory inhabited by
the Coastal and the Inland Taku (Tlingit),
and Mitcham's book leans towards the
native Indian history. This gives the book
an uncommon bias: too often readers have
received the history of a region entirely
from the viewpoint of non-native exploration, settlement and development - the
entries for Teslin and for Atlin, for examples in The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton, 1988), concentrate on the
non-native history of the communities.
The Taku region was off at the margins
of the main Klondyke gold rush and consequently has not received the attention
of historians. Many readers, however, will
find interesting material in Taku, especially in those parts which deal with commercial activities in the 1870s, 80s and
90s, and with the development of trails
into the interior of the country. Both Atlin
and Teslin Lakes debouch into the Yukon River system so that those trails from
the mouth of the Taku might well have
become important in the rush to the
Klondyke. That they did not is part of
Mitcham's story.
Taku contains twenty-five pages of notes
for the something less than 188 pages of
narrative. Often the notes are invaluable;
unfortunately some major ones, such as
those for Frederick Schwatka and Captain
William Moore, are not included in the index, while many lesser ones are. The maps,
most dating from the late 19th and early
20th centuries, are poorly reproduced, and
while I was pleased to find included sections from the 1893 map of the surveyor
J.H. Brownless, a fabled character of Atlin's
early days, and the 1930 map of WE.
Cockfield for the Geological Survey, they
are most difficult to read. Lacking is a clear,
simple, easily understood map. There are
numerous photographs, including many of
water colours and line drawings by the
author's daughter and her husband which,
we are informed, are "to varying degrees,
based on archival materials."
Mitcham has provided a most informative listing of "source materials," although
she states she has listed "only a few of
the most important published sources."
This limitation is unfortunate. Numerous
readers of this book will want to know
what the author, in her own interviews
and from sources available through her
visits to the Taku area, had available and
has used. A photograph on the book's
cover shows her daughter "on the fish
weir on the Nakina" (a tributary to the
Taku); I wonder how much the author
learned from that source, and from interviews with Taku Indians living at Atlin
and Teslin and on the lower reaches of
the Taku River. A large part of the history in the book took place within the
memory of living members of the Indian
community, or in the times of their parents and grandparents, and her sources
from that community warrant listing. Is it
too much to ask that recordings of interviews, or transcripts of them, be deposited in the Atlin or other local museums
or archives?
Despite these things, Taku is a welcome
book and provides a valuable glimpse
into a little known and seldom travelled
corner of our province.
In his foreword to Far Pastures, former
book publisher Gray Campbell writes of
R.M. Patterson that "he came to our untamed frontier wilderness as a pioneer,
took his lumps and bruises, became a
skilled northern traveller and left a literary heritage." Men of letters among the
prospectors and trappers of Canada's
north have been not so much few and
far between as virtually non-existent. The
man given to a life of trapping is seldom
given to literary effort, even of the most
elementary form. R.M. Patterson was an
exception. He developed in his writing
that rare capacity which can raise the
personal and apparently commonplace
to a level approaching the philosophical.
And so, in Far Pastures, a dog fight at
Fort Simpson becomes a commentary on
the social consequences of one aspect of
the transportation system of the country.
Writing a letter in 1929 in the kitchen of
the RCMP building in the same community requires a little imagination beyond
the ordinary: "Notepaper was a bit short
just then, so the letter was being written
on the backs of Wolf Bounty Claim forms
- a scandalous but necessary abuse of
government stationery."
Far Pastures is a collection of seventeen short essays which are grouped into
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
four periods of Patterson's life: (1) Peace
River, 1924-27; (2) Northward Ho,
1927-29; (3) The Foothills (of Alberta),
1929-46; and (4) The Mountains of
Youth, 1943-55, this last section being a
recounting of trips made into the locales
of earlier escapades. The essays are full
of the minutiae and the nuances which
give substance to history. I was intrigued,
for example, with Patterson's relationship
with the government and its
homesteading arrangements: "There was
a comical misconception prevailing in the
Provincial Department of Lands to the
effect that a homestead was a farm and a
homesteader was a farmer. That may
have been the case elsewhere, but not
on Battle River in the early twenties.
There homesteads were in the nature of
investments - they provided hay and oats
and pasture for saddle and pack-horses
that would take their owners back, in the
fall, to their far-off traplines; they were
the summer homes of men who worked
in the woods in wintertime."
Such passages in Far Pastures, written
with ease as well as with understanding,
mean that the reader comes away from
the book with a vivid sense not only of
pieces of one man's life, but also with feeling for a major sector of our heritage.
Patterson's Trail to the Interior takes a
different form - that of a travel book with
a connected narrative. It is on two levels.
The first level is that of a trip he made, in
large part by canoe, from tidewater at
Wrangell, Alaska, up the Stikine River,
across the Pacific-Arctic divide to Dease
Lake, and down that lake and the Dease
River to Lower Post on the Liard. It was
a trip undertaken with a minimum of baggage. "As to the outfit," Patterson writes,
"that was easy: mosquito net, eiderdown,
rifle, tarpaulins." On the framework of his
account of that trip, Patterson weaves the
second level, stories of bygone days of
the "persistent, determined men who pioneered" the trails he is now travelling.
Trail to the Interior is of a richness uncommon in books of its genre. His own
life gave Patterson a deep sympathy for
and understanding of those who lived in
and travelled at and beyond the frontiers
of human habitation, a personal knowledge
of the demands on human beings in wild
places with the unsurpassed rewards and
the uncompromising penalties to be paid
by the careless or the unlucky. Not surprisingly, the men who people Trail axe
varied: Dr. G.M. Dawson in 1887 on one
of his greatest trips for the Geological Survey; Warburton Pike, a few years later,
struggling through the sub-arctic forest; in
this century Harper Reed, Indian Agent
based in Telegraph Creek, serving an area
larger than many European countries; and
Frank Watson, of Watson Lake, after forty
years at the very edges of the wilderness,
losing the battle against the invasions of
twentieth century progress.
There is a joy to Trail to the Interior,
and there is some sadness. And there is
a picture of northern British Columbia,
some of its places and some of its past,
which will long remain in the mind of the
diligent reader.
George Newell
George Newell is a member of the
Victoria Historical Society.
The Skyline Limited: The Kaslo and
Slocan Railway
Robert D. Turner and David S. Wilkie. Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1993.2% p., illus., $50
The Southwest Kootenay District in
1888 was still virtually a pristine wilderness. In the course ofthe succeeding decade, lode mining, with its diverse
infrastructure, expanded at a rapid pace
as an impressive number of gold-silver-
copper and silver-lead-zinc prospects
were discovered, developed and brought
into production. The Klondike gold rush
of 1898 has tended to cast into the shade
the great mining boom in the Kootenay
which preceded it, so much yet of that
storied decade still lacks an appropriate
historical account.
The Skyline Liimted by Robert D. Turner
and David S. Wilkie redresses some of this
deficiency by providing an engrossing account of a transportation war which developed during the 1890s in the Slocan
Mining Division of Southwest Kootenay.
The first great discoveries of high-grade
silver-lead-zinc lodes in the Slocan were
made over the winter of 1891-92. By the
summer of 1892 the pressure was on to
develop heavy-duty transportation sys
tems which would enable all the equipment and supplies necessary for the lode
mining and milling infrastructure to be
freighted in and concentrate to be
shipped out for smelting. In the days before the development of heavy-duty vehicles powered by internal combustion
engines working on super highways, a
heavy-duty transportation system meant
a railway and/or a steamboat line.
In the wake of the Slocan discoveries,
two lakeshore settlements sprang up to
the east and west, each with a steamboat
connection to a major railway line.
Nakusp on Upper Arrow Lake boasted
in 1892 a steamboat connection with
Revelstoke, a transfer point on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Kaslo on
Kootenay Lake boasted a steamboat connection with Bonners Ferry, Idaho, a
transfer point on the Great Northern Railway. Each settlement looked forward to
the building of a wagon road and then a
railway into the heart of the Slocan. Each
dreamed of becoming the major shipping
point into the Slocan and the major smelting point for Slocan ore. Nakusp awaited
a government subsidy to finance the
building of a wagon road, while the feisty
citizens of Kaslo nudged out Nakusp by
raising a private subscription which enabled them to get on with building a wagon
road into Sandon, the heart ofthe Slocan,
in the winter of 1892-93. In 1895, in the
wake of a series of financial and natural
disasters, the Kaslo & Slocan Railway, a
narrow-gauge road chartered by a group
of New Westminster timber and salmon
fishery barons, but heavily financed by
Great Northern Railway interests, beat
out the Canadian Pacific Railway's
Nakusp & Slocan branch in the race to
reach Sandon. The plot then kept thickening over the next decade and a half in
a transportation war carried on in a period of adverse times in the base-metal
mining industry. Turner and Wilkie prove
equal to the challenge of recounting this
gripping story.
The Skyline Limited reflects the benefits of scrupulous research and lucid
writing style. The abundant number of
superb illustrations of railway structures
and rolling stock, steamboats, and flashbacks of the early days in Kaslo and
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95 BOOKSHELF
Slocan, many reproduced from the files of
pioneer Slocan photographer R.H.
Trueman, should capture the interest of the
most casual reader. The railway buff will
relish the wealth of detail on the layout,
construction and maintenance of the K &
S line and on its rolling stock The historian will appreciate the deft way in which
the story of the K &.S Railway has been
recounted in the context not only of the
struggle between the Canadian Pacific and
Great Northern interests but also of the
struggle of the many producing mines in
the Kaslo and Slocan Mining Divisions to
remain alive in the face of a mighty U.S.
lobby to choke off imports of refined lead
and zinc from Canada. The K & S Railway, an engineering triumph, was throughout its brief unprofitable life dealt some
mean cards by the mining economy and
even meaner ones by the forces of nature
which regularly visited devastating snow
slides on the railway in the late winter and
then administered a coup de grace in its
closing years in the form of an annihilating
forest fire.
In the 1930s, a time when the railway
seems destined to vanish altogether from
the face of Southwest Kootenay, and public transportation on Kootenay Lake is confined to a brief vehicle ferry service, it is
difficult to contemplate the baffling formation in 1898 of the Kootenay Railway &
Navigation Company, a Great Northern
Railway holding company for a plethora
of railway and steamboat lines which
seemed doomed from the outset to ensnare the Great Northern in a quagmire of
operating losses, not the least of which
arose from the Kaslo & Slocan Railway
operation. The full story of the Kootenay
Railway & Navigation Company and of the
odd lot of bedfellows who joined together
in this strange consortium perhaps remains
to be told, but Turner and Wilkie provide
us with considerable insight into the financing and operating affairs of the KR & N, a
corporate mouse which may have slowed
down the march to oblivion of the plucky
Kaslo & Slocan Railway.
The Skyline Limited, a publishing extravaganza, should provide the solution
to a number of Christmas gift problems.
No railway buff will want to be without it,
while anyone who has the slightest inter
est in the heritage of the Kootenay District will treasure it.
Edward L. Affleck
Edward L Affleck is f/ie author of
Sternwheelers, Sandbars and Switchbacks,
Kootenay Chronicles and many other books.
Seven Knot Summers
Beth Hill. Victoria: Horsdal & Schubart,
1994. $15.95
Here is a new book that is destined to
become a classic of Inside Passage cruising literature. A distillation of thirty years'
pottering among the islands and inlets of
British Columbia's coast, Seven Knot
Summers describes Beth and Ray Hill's
adventures aboard the aging Liza Jane,
a converted wooden fishboat.
The purpose of their voyaging has never
been mere sightseeing. Beth Hill explains
that her aim was always to experience "the
feeling of being intimately bonded to this
world - not just the islands, tides and giant
mountains, but the coastal people, both
those I met and the ones whose ghosts fled
as I tried to see them."
For Hill, no coastal place is just an inanimate landscape of sea and forest. Each
bay and meadow is the setting for romance, history, murder, hauntings.
On one level, Seven Knot Summers
can be used as an informal guidebook to
Georgia, Johnstone and Queen Charlotte
Straits (all of the waters that lie between
Vancouver Island and the southern mainland coast). The arrangement of the narrative is that of an actual cruise from
Sidney, B.C., northward along the western side of the three straits, then homeward via the islands and channels of the
eastern (mainland) shore.
The guidebook includes a recurrent
focus on one of Beth Hill's intriguing rock-
picture discoveries, not only at well-
known locations like Gabriola Island but
also on remoter sites such as the Thurlow
Islands and Kingcome Inlet.
At its deeper levels, the book is far more
than a cruising manual; its entertainingly
written anecdotal content encompasses
a veritable history of our inland sea. Every
chapter comprises memories of snug
anchorages, quaint communities and ruggedly individual personalities. Encounters
with the legendary Allen and Sharie
Farrell aboard their engineless lugger
China Cloud at Lasqueti Island and with
Flora and Dave Dawson who revived
their abandoned village of Gwa'yi in
Kingcome Inlet are typical of the scores
of such events that give these coastal travels their extraordinary depth.
In a sense, Beth Hill's adventures are
primarily excursions into history. The rich
historical detail that we find in connection with every community and anchorage is well documented in the author's
exhaustive bibliography. Yet the most fascinating revelations are not literary, but
related through the living medium of oral
history. It is through leisurely dockside
conversations that the secret past of each
place is learned. The ghastly murders at
Owen Bay were recounted by an aging
Johnstone Strait fisherman, a Desolation
Sound cabin dweller shared her knowledge of the settlers who built her ancient
log home, the story of the cougar who
joined a dinner party at Refuge Cove was
told by the man in whose kitchen the
event occurred.
Clearly it is only at the Hills' "seven
knots" that so deep an exploration of the
coast is possible. Their leisurely pace calls
to mind a contrasting phenomenon that
I observed last summer while cruising
these same waters: we were passed continually by 40-knot gin-palaces whose
crews we later found at anchor typically
with curtains drawn and television flickering and blaring. Give me Liza Jane's
style of cruising any day!
If I were to raise one small quibble, it
would perhaps be this: the book's sole
map is on a scale so small as to include
almost no individual place names. I would
like to have seen a detailed map accompany each chapter to help us identify the
places visited and discussed.
But why should I look for anything to
quibble about in a book that is so close
to perfection as this memorable voyage
into the landscapes and the histories of
our magnificent coastal straits?
Philip Teece
Philip Teece is a librarian with the Greater Victoria
Public Library. He is also the author of
A Dream of Islands and numerous articles on
sailing the Pacific coast.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1994-95
His Honour, the Honourable David C. Lam, CM, LL.D.
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
J. Arthur Lower
4040 West 35th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6N 2P3
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Recording Secretary
Members at Large
Past President
Alice Glanville
Ron Welwood
Marjorie Leffler
T. Don Sale
Arnold Ranneris
Doris J. May
Wayne Desrochers
Melva Dwyer
Myrtle Haslam
Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. VOH 1H0
RR #1, S22 C1, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5P4
516 Willow St, Parksville, B.C. V9P 1A4
262 Juniper St, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 1X4
1898 Quamichan St, Victoria, B.C. V8S 2B9
2943 Shelbourne St, Victoria, B.C. V8R 4M7
8811 - 152nd St, Surrey, B.C. V3R 4E5
2976 McBride St, Surrey, B.C. V4A 3G6
Box 10, Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1N0
B.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
Book Review Editor
Margaret Stoneberg      Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Tony Farr
Anne Yandle
Naomi Miller
Subscription Secretary     Margaret Matovich
125 Castle Cross Rd, Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2G1
3450 West 20th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
6985 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 3R6
Historical Trails
and Markers
John Spittle
1241 Mount Crown Rd, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9  988-4565
Publications Assistance    Jill Rowland
(not involved with
#5 - 1450 Chesterfield Ave,
North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 2N4
B.C. Historical News)       Contact Jill for advice and details to apply for a loan toward the cost of publishing.
Scholarship Committee    Anne Yandle 3450 West 20th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
Writing Competition
(Lieutenant Governor's
Pamela Mar P.O. Box 933, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
(NOTE: All phone numbers listed use the area code 604)
758-2828 The British Columbia Historical News
P.O. Box 5254, Stn. B
Victoria, B.C. V8R 6N4
Publications Mail
Registration No. 4447
BC Historical
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions of books for the twelfth annual Competition for Writers of B.C. History.
Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1994, is eligible. This may be a community
history, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections giving a glimpse of the
past. Names, dates and places, with relevant maps or pictures, turn a story into "history."
The judges are looking for quality presentations, especially if fresh material is included, with appropriate
illustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate index, table of contents and bibliography, from first-time writers as well as established authors.
NOTE: Reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
The Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded to an individual writer whose
book contributes significantly to the recorded history of British Columbia. Other awards will be made as
recommended by the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
All entries recieve considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award
and an invitation to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Chilliwack in May 1995.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in 1994 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two copies of each book should be submitted. Please state name,
address and telephone number of sender, the selling price of all editions of the book, and the address from
which it may be purchased, if the reader has to shop by mail.
SEND TO: B.C. Historical Writing Competition
P.O. Box 933, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
DEADLINE: December 15,1994.
LATE ENTRIES: Three copies of each book must be submitted and must arrive before January
31,1995. Please phone (604) 758-2828 to clarify shipping arrangements for late entries.
There is also an award for the Best Article published each year in the B.C. Historical News magazine.
This is directed to amateur historians or students. Articles should be no more than 3,000 words, typed double
spaced, accompanied by photographs if available, and substantiated with footnotes where applicable. (Photos
will be returned.)
Please send articles directly to:
The Editor, B.C. Historical News, P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
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