British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1993

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Volume 27, No. 1
Winter 1993 - 94
ISSN 1195-8294
Rriddi fataalii
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Kwakiutl, Irish, Italian and Chinese MEMBER SOCIETIES
Member Societies and their Secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct address for their society is up to date.
Please send any change to both the Treasurer and the Editor at the addresses inside the back cover.
The Annual Return as at October 31 should include telephone numbers for contact.
MEMBERS' DUES for the current year were paid by the following Societies:
Alberni District Historical Society
Arrow Lakes Historical Socety
Atlin Historical Society
Burnaby Historical Society
Chemainus Valley Historical Society
Cowichan Historical Society
District 69 Historical Society
East Kootenay Historical Association
Gulf Islands Branch, BCHF
Koksilah School Historical Society
Kootenay Lake Historical Society
Kootenay Museum & Historical Society
Lantzville Historical Society
Lasqueti Island Historical Society
Nanaimo Historical Society
North Shore Historical Society
North Shuswap Historical Society
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum & Archives
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society
Salt Spring Island Historical Society
Sidney & North Saanich Historical Society
Silvery Slocan Historical Society
Surrey Historical Society
Trail Historical Society
Vancouver Historical Society
Victoria Historical Society
Fort Steele Heritage Park
Nanaimo Centennial Museum Society
Okanagan Historical Society
Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
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Box 313, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6M3
Published winter, spring, summer and fall by the       British Columbia Historical Federation
P.O. Box 5254, Station B
Victoria, B.C. V8R 6N4
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Back issues ofthe British Columbia Historical News are available in microform from
Micromedia Limited, 20 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario M5C 2N8,
phone (416) 362-5211, fax (416) 362-6161, toll free 1 -800-387-2689.
Micromedia also publishes the Canadian Magazine Index and the Canadian Business Index.
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Publications Mail Registration Number 4447.
Financially assisted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture through
the British Columbia Heritage Trust Fund and British Columbia Lotteries. BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORICAL NEWS
Volume 27, No. 1    Journal of B.C. Historical Federation     Winter -1993/94
My prediction for 1994 is that local museums and
heritage sites will have a busy time with an increased
number of visitors. Tourism surveys for the summer
of 1993 indicated that attendance was up at virtually
every heritage attraction except the Royal British
Columbia Museum in Victoria. Sites and museums
are drawing young families and it behooves curators,
staff, and volunteers to welcome the younger generation. We can all help to indicate the joys of learning
the history as well as the geography of our province.
Your editor was treated to a conducted tour of
Point Ellice House - the old O'Reilly home on
Pleasant Street in Victoria. This house is unique in
that the furnishings and display artifacts are those
collected by the O'Reilly family over their 111 years
of continuous occupancy. Curator Jenifer Iredale
has read hundreds of pages of letters, diaries, bills
and receipts, and other records which date activities
such as the planting of a sequoia tree in the front,
purchases of a piece of furniture or clothing, or social
events such as a tennis party on the lawn. Further,
Virginia Careless of the RBCM has documented the
garments belonging to Miss Katherine O'Reilly in her
book Responding To Fashion. (See Book Review on
page 39.) The garden at Point Ellice House features
a great variety of roses and other lovely flowers. Tea
is served on the lawn in good weather. This is indeed
a site where history has been reclaimed with scant
"modernization" to be undone.
Croquet, lawn tennis, boating, and other English
pastimes were indulged in before the acceptance of
baseball, hockey, lacrosse and other American games.
Is there an author among our readers who could
enlighten us on the fine points of croquet? It is difficult
to imagine how active our female ancestors could be
in their long skirts, yet pictures show ladies on skis or
skates or playing tennis in that era. It proves that
where there is a will there is a way!
Naomi Miller
Leonard Meyers did a lot of research in the Royal
British Columbia Museum before writing the article
on the Kwakiutl people. He studied a large collection
of photographs before finalizing his selection included with his article. The cover picture is of a group
of Kwakiutl women in woven hats sunning themselves
on the beach at Alert Bay. Photo courtesy B.C.
Archives and Records Service. #HP 1735.
Jotting on My Travels  2
by Tom Barnett
Lorine's Legacy    5
fry Pat Koretchuk as told by Lorine Wong Chu
Kootenay Central Railway    10
compiles from informaiton by the Ashcroft Museum.
Famous Potatoes from Ashcroft 12
by Roy J.V. Pallant
Miracle at Indian Arm 13
by Valerie Green
The Kwakiutl: A West Coast Nation   18
by Leonard W. Meyers
Two Pioneer Women    23
fry Zara MitcheU
The Cascara Bark Collectors   27
by K.W. Broderick
Leone Caetani: World TravellerWho Came to Vernon 29
by Sveva Caetani
The Akamina-Kishinena 32
fry Leo Gansner
On Track: The Railway Mail Service in Canada   38
Living in the Depot: The Two-Storey Railroad Station 38
Streetcars in the Kootenays    38
Reviews by Edward L. Affleck
The Nelson Island Story 39
Lasqueti Island: History and Memory 39
Reviews by Frances Gundry
Responding to Fashion: The Clothing of the O'Reilly Family   .. 39
Review by Jean-Ann Debrecini
Other Publications Noted 39
Manuscripts and correspondence for 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 Kootenay Kwik Print Ltd.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Jottings on My Travels
by Tom Barnett
Through the gathering gloom of a
late afternoon in November 1918, the
train rumbled westward. Banff and all the
rest of Alberta was now far behind. With
my family I was moving from the Red
Deer district to coastal British Columbia.
The trainman came through our tourist
sleeper, checked all the windows to make
sure they were tightly closed, and lit the
lamps. Following him came the conductor
to tell us we were coming to the Five Mile
Tunnel, and that the train would get
smoky inside. I had heard about the Five
Mile Tunnel. It was a topic of conversation amongst my elders, so I was looking
forward to it as the highlight of the trip.
Soon after the conductor had passed
through, the sound ofthe train's rumbling
changed dramatically and we could see
vaguely that rock was close outside the
window: a bit scary to realize that we
were actually moving right into the middle
of a mountain!
The conductor's predictions about
smoke soon began to be realized. It got
smokier and smokier and smokier. It was
no ordinary smoke. It was biting acrid
smoke that made everybody cough and
splutter. Eyes were running.
After what seemed an eternity, the
change in sound told us we were out of
the tunnel. The smoke didn't go away,
but at least it didn't get any worse. Why
didn't they stop the train and open all the
doors and windows, even if it was cold
and dark outside! But the train just kept
going on and on and on.
Eventually speed did slacken, and
we finally came to a stop. When the
porters opened the doors there was a
mad rush for the outside. My first landing
on the "terra firma" of British Columbia
was into about two feet of fluffy new
snow. Everyone stood gulping in fresh
air, not minding the snow at all in our
relief at being out of that train. About the
time we began to realize it was chilly
outdoors the calls came for "all aboard."
Back in the train, my sisters, being
too "little" to have gone dashing out into
the snow, had had to endure the smoke
until the train cleared (along with my
mother who stayed with them). By the
time I was in my seat the windows and
doors had all been closed, so the train
was warming up. When we were
underway the porter began making up
the berths. My mother and younger sister
were in one lower berth; in the next
lower, my sister and I had our pillows at
opposite ends; while our father climbed
to the upper berth I would have loved to
have had. But soon I was in the Land of
Nod as the train rumbled westward.
The next morning my sister and I
woke up early. The train still trundled
along unceasingly. At the first glimmer of
light around the blind we opened it up
enough to peek out. Not much to be seen!
We sensed there were no more mountains
close by, but occasional stretches of water.
As the daylight grew we realized what
was really different: there was no snow.
We were in a place where there was no
snow in November! Finally we could see
green grass. What a wondrous place this
B.C. must be!
Eventually the train arrived at a big
station. Everything was so strange and
busy. People were rushing every which
way. The worst of all was getting across
Cordova Street through all those cars.
There must have been at least half a
dozen of them in sight! And those tracks
down the middle of the street, along
which street cars might come dashing!
Vancouver was such a big city. That night
I slept blissfully in the hotel on the
southwest corner of Seymour and
Cordova. Tomorrow would be the beginning of a new life.
Travelling back and forth through
the five miles of the Connaught Tunnel
became routine after I was elected a B.C.
MP in 1953. Four days on the train it took,
between my home in Port Alberni and
Ottawa. The contrast between those trips
through the tunnel and my first was
dramatic. No more acrid smoke! No more
coughing and weeping eyes! Just the
sound change when the train entered the
mountain. I used often to reflect upon the
miracle of the ventilation system which
produced this transformation.
Train travel in Canada reached its
apex in the 1950s. Those spanking new
sleeper, dome and dining cars brought
into service after the war seemed so
luxurious. And they were really the most
practical way to get across Canada. The
volume of travel had made possible the
choice which we had, of four trains a day
between Vancouver and the East.
In 1953 I had no idea the heyday of
train travel would be so short, but before
the 1957 election signs of change were
evident. I will mention two. One was the
making of the Trans Canada Highway
Agreement between the federal government and the provinces. The other was
Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada)
providing MPs two round trip passes a
year betweeen Ottawa and the airport
nearest their constituency. Now it took
only thirteen hours from Ottawa to Vancouver! (The noise of those four big
engines in the Northstar roaring on, hour
after hour, was almost as hard to take as
the smoke in the Connaught Tunnel in
After the 1962 general election, before Parliament met, the new Trans Canada
Highway was officially opened by the
prime minister, the Rt. Hon. John George
Diefenbaker. This opening ceremony
could be called the last of his crowning
glories; in the Session which followed he
was defeated on the floor of the House
and lost the 1963 election.
The scene of the opening was the
summit at Rogers Pass. My wife and I
decided to accept our invitation to be
there and to make it part of a car trip to
Ottawa with our two teen-age children in
time for the new school year. It seemed
logical to stay in Revelstoke the night
before. Fortunately I thought of how
limited accommodation for automobile
travellers would be and had made hotel
reservations (motels being virtually non-
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 existent) well ahead of time.
We all loaded into the car and set out
bright and early from Port Alberni on the
day before the ceremony. I picked what
looked on the map to be the most direct
route to Revelstoke, which had the added
attraction of enabling us to travel some
bits of British Columbia we hadn't seen
before. What I hadn't counted on was just
how winding and primitive some of our
"highways" still were, so it was close to
midnight when, finally, we pulled up in
front of the hotel in Revelstoke.
When I went into the lobby to claim
my reservations, rather to my surprise it
was full of people. The harried desk clerk
seemed relieved when I gave my name.
He said he had decided he would hold
the rooms only until the stroke of twelve.
He had already told the people besieging
him they could spend the night in the
lobby if they wished, which I think most
of them did. We got some envious glances
as we carried our bags upstairs!
If my memory serves me right, we
were in the King Edward Hotel. It certainly
had an Edwardian look and feel: solid,
dignified, built to last, symbol of the
importance of a major railway divisional
point. Despite the many times I had
travelled through Revelstoke, it felt strange
to actually be "in" the place. If we had
arrived in daylight I'm sure I would have
revisited that station platform where, in
1918,1 had first set foot in British Columbia.
The next morning we set out for the
Rogers Pass highway summit. It was a
beautiful, cloudless day. We hadn't been
travelling long when we spotted a viewpoint pull-out, with a brand new monument at its edge, and discovered that it
was to commemorate the "official opening" that W.A.C. Bennett and Phil Gaglardi
had put on a short time before to upstage
the Canadian opening. (If this sounds
catty, I freely admit I have never quite
forgiven them for taking the Trans Canada
Highway signs off the Trans Canada
Highway, and remember the kidding I
got from MPs from other parts of the
country in 1972 when the signs went
back up, such as: "So B.C. has decided to
rejoin Confederation! Welcome back.")
We got to the summit well before the
appointed time. A long rustic platform
had been set up, decorated, as I recall,
with red, white and blue bunting, and
somewhere above was the Red Ensign
with the Canadian coat of arms, flanked
on either side by five provincial flags. A
few officials from the National Parks
Branch stood around, looking uncomfortable, as officials tend to do when the
prime minister is about to descend upon
them. We found good seats in one of the
rows of folding chairs which were placed
in front of the platform, and relaxed to
gaze at the mountains.
There are few more glorious places
in Canada than Rogers Pass on a day like
that one. The sun kept shining, the air
was balmy and so clear one felt like
plucking a mountain from the landscape.
So we were enjoying ourselves!
But the appointed time came, and
nothing happened. We waited, and
waited, and still nothing happened. No
one seemed to know why. Boredom set
in despite the beauty of the mountains.
Finally two large buses appeared from
the east, and from them descended the
members of a Royal Canadian Air Force
band. (I learned later a bus had broken
down and nothing could happen until a
replacement enabled them and their instruments to get to the site to play "O
Shortly afterwards a cavalcade of
vehicles arrived, bringing what the press
usually describes on such occasions as
"the dignitaries," who proceeded to line
themselves up on the long platform. The
band played incidental music while this
was going on, reviving us somewhat
from our ennui.
Finally all was in order, the prime
minister at the microphone in the centre,
flanked right and left by the Hon. Davie
Fulton, minister of public works, and the
Hon. Walter Dinsdale, within whose min
istry came the National Parks Branch.
Flanking this trio were the ministers of
highways from the ten provinces, five on
each side. (I was pleased to note that Phil
Gaglardi was there.) At a signal we all
stood up, the band played the national
anthem, while we sang along lustily.
Some of us had been invited to be
there; others just happened to come
driving along while the road was temporarily closed by the highway patrol.
These involuntary members of the audience seemed quite happy to relax and
join the show.
I wouldn't attempt to recap the
speeches, even if I could. Suffice it to say
they were suited to the occasion, expressed warm Canadian sentiments, and
are otherwise best left to the imagination.
Part of the time I spent ruminating on
how it had come about that both the
federal minister and the B.C. minister
responsible for the highway were members for Kamloops: a lovely subject for
coffee-cup political gossip, they being
such dramatically different characters,
and Davie Fulton having been demoted
not so long before by "Dief The Chief
from minister of justice to minister of
public works. When the speeches were
finished, the band played "The Queen"
and traffic resumed on Highway #1.
It had been a rather unassuming,
somewhat corny, some would say "typically Canadian," affair. Nevertheless, even
in retrospect, I am moved by it, and am
glad that I was there. It may not be on a
par in our history with the driving of the
last CPR spike, but it did symbolize a
great change in the way Canadians live
Tbe commemorative arcb at Rogers Pass. Tbe first railway ran to tbe left of this (and was
blocked by slides down tbe biU at centre in tbe background). Tbe Connaught Tunnel runs
beneath this mountain. This is tbe site of tbe ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by tbe
author and bis family. Photo courtesy of Naomi Miller.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 and work. Starting from St. John's and
travelling to dip one's toes in the sea off
Mile 0, Victoria, has become part of the
Canadian mystique.
We travelled down the road to Park
Headquarters where coffee and sandwiches had been laid on. Walter Dinsdale
was our host, and I kidded him about his
government not being able even to arrange a ribbon-cutting on time.
Our next stop was on the highway
above the outlet of the spiral tunnels. A
passenger train came through. We waved
down at the passengers, and the passengers waved up at the motorists.
I had promised my wife to drive as far
east as I could before catching a train
back to the Coast for some commitment;
meanwhile, she would go on to Ottawa,
find a place for us to live, and get settled
before school opened and the Parliamentary Session began. I got as far as Fort
William (now part of Thunder Bay), kissed
my wife goodbye, and climbed aboard
the CPR train to retrace my
steps to Vancouver. Time
passed. Presently I realized
we were emerging from
the spiral tunnels. I looked
up towards the highway.
There the motorists were,
waving down at us. We
waved back to them. This
time, being a train passenger, I was travelling the
way most Canadians still
did when they crossed the
Ibis is one of four plaques banging within tbe commemorative arcb at tbe Rogers Pass summit Tbe Trans
Canada Highway was officiaUy opened September 2, 1962. Photo courtesy of Naomi Miller,
Thomas Speakman Barnett
was taking honours in history at UBC before tbe Depression cut short bis academic aspirations. His interest in public affairs took
htm to Ottawa as MP for
Comox Alberni in 1953. After his retirement in 1974,
be spent four years as
mayor of Campbell River.
His wife, Rutb, is a former
president of the RC Historical Federation,
A passenger train in tbe 1950's.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Lorine's Legacy
by Pat Koretchuk
as told by Lorine Wong Chu
My name is Lorine Wong Chu. My
name tells something about me but, I
must caution you, not as much as you
might think. Like the names of some
actresses, mine has changed many times,
in ways not always to my liking. Of
course, my name tells of family affiliations
and heritage, but you need my story to
really understand who I am.
It is a story remembered in my
eightieth year, the year my husband and
I celebrated the diamond wedding anniversary of our first wedding ceremony,
held in August 1933. Not many couples
celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, do they?
If you came to visit me in our small
apartment in our son's house near UBC,
I would introduce you to all my beloved
plants, the only gardening I am permitted
since my small stroke. I would make you
welcome with some tea and apple pie,
perhaps fresh baked by my husband,
Charlie. Then I would tell you my story,
set in a time too young to be history, too
old and different from today to be modern. It is better than those of the soap
operas I now watch on television. Sometimes I ask myself: "What other eighty-
year-old Chinese lady can remember such
a story and speak English well enough to
tell about it?"
Fate has played a big role in my life.
Fate most certainly decided I would be a
girl, not always a good thing for me. Later,
fate became a positive force, planting me
on Vancouver soil, providing opportunities, bringing good luck.
I was born January 4,1913, when Dr.
Sun Yat-Sen was serving as China's provisional president. The last Manchu emperor abdicated his throne less than two
years previously. I lived in an extended
family of farmers in Wang Suey, a small
farming village located near Hong Kong.
In those politically hard times, money
was so scarce we had to be even thriftier
than the Scottish in order to survive. (I'm
still that way today, even recycling my
grandchildren's popsicle sticks as props
for my plants.)
In Wang Suey, my name was "Wong
Sunho," which in English translates to
"New Peaches Wong." "Sun" means "new,"
added because, just before I was born,
my father had paid for a new Wong
family house. My grandmother added a
sound to my name to "tether me" here on
earth, to protect me because my older
brother and sister had died (I don't know
how) before I could remember them.
Sometimes I think Grandmother's added
sound is the reason I've lived for eighty
Grandmother, sitting uncotnfortably balanced on a tbin wooden sawborse, under
a banyan tree in Wang Suey. Sbe holds my
boy cousin on ber right, a place of honour. I am on ber left.
Life in Wang Suey was simple and
enduring. Some people lived in three-
hundred-year-old houses. They made their
own hand-sewn clothes, with styles unchanged for years. There was no doctor,
no grocery stores, no public transporta
tion. My mother had no baby carriage;
she carried me on her back in a sling.
(What a contrast later, when we moved to
bustling, busy British Columbia.)
Sisters moved when they married,
but brothers stayed. As the numbers in
the family grew larger, cousins and uncles would need another house and a
bigger rice field. To meet these growing
needs, money was necessary, but money,
as wages, was almost non-existent in
Wang Suey. Thus my father and other
relatives chose the big adventure, emigration to Canada, also called "The Golden
Mountain" due to tales of the gold rush
days. Here they worked, sending money
back to China to help us.
I grew up in a world where men
blamed women when no boys were born
to them, sometimes taking another wife
in order to have a son. My own father was
no different. Grandfather told me Father
had been filled with grief when, in Canada,
he received the letter telling that his third
child was a girl (me). Father became very
angry, vowing never to return to Wang
Suey. Grandfather said: "If you had been
a boy, your father would have hurried
back to China."
But, fortunately, fate, in the form of
my grandfather, responded to Father. He
said: "All right, if you're not going to
China, then your family must come to
Canada." It would not have been easy to
refuse Grandfather, even though the task
of saving the costs for our immigration
was daunting. That was how it was decided I would move to a land that was
I have always been different, even
loving girls better than most people. To
his credit, years later, my own husband
didn't say anything bad about my having
three girls first, even if he was thinking
negatively, and that made life easier for
My mother-in-law demonstrated another difficulty sometimes faced by Chinese girls. Her feet had been bound,
deforming them to only size four, hoping
to create a dainty, attractive walk. Poor,
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 poor feet. Painful! I have never understood why some Chinese people thought
this was a good thing to do. Here in
Canada women wear high, high heels to
produce the same effect, but high heels
don't deform. I think people had to be
crazy to bind their daughters' feet. I have
never seen a boy with bound feet!
But I am getting ahead of myself.
When my mother and I left our family
home to come to Canada, we spent
several days in Hong Kong, perhaps even
staying at a place called Gold Mountain
Shop, accommodation for those emigrating to Canada. Before we were permitted
on the liner Empress of Russia, we may,
like Chinese men, have had to check our
belongings for fumigation with sulphur,
which had a very bad smell.
On the ship, three ladies, my mother
and I shared a cramped room, having one
small porthole and five narrow bunks.
Very seasick, my mother didn't eat for
twenty-one days from Hong Kong to
Victoria. Of course, being so small, I don't
remember anything, except what I was
told about the journey.
On our arrival in Victoria, my father
and grandfather came to meet us at the
dock, November 8,1920. Neither of them
had seen me before. My father had left
China to return to Canada in September
of 1913, and I was born four months later.
If Father had been away from Canada
longer than two years, he wouldn't have
been allowed to return. There were regulations.
The "Head Tax" of $500 per person
(in today's dollars, close to $20,000 each)
was another regulation, probably the one
that kept us apart for almost seven
years. There were very few Chinese women in Canada; not just
when we arrived, but for many
years thereafter, very few.
Of course, I really didn't know
anything about laws, or even where
we were going. I only knew it was
bitterly cold. I was afraid, holding
tightly to my mother's hand.
Through a space between the
gangplank, I could see the frightening, dark greenish-coloured
water rolling underneath us. I can
still feel myself shivering in my
light clothing, crossing my arms,
hugging myself for warmth, as I
said: "Momma, lung a ho lung a
(Momma, cold, cold)." Even today, I shiver thinking about it.
We were herded into a big
immigration building where people arriving from all over the world were detained, separated from us, the Orientals.
I suppose it was here that my name
changed from the original Chinese script
to the English letters approximating the
sounds of "Wong." I remember we were
taken into a room and given English food:
slices of white bread with a syrupy thing
served on plates. In spite of the fact that
my mother must have been very weak
due to her illness, we were kept five days
in that building before we were permitted
to go to my grandfather's place on Princess Street in Chinatown.
Awaiting completion ofthe immigration procedure, my mother and I stayed
in the larger home of a friend, another
Mrs. Wong. She was so kind to us, buying
me warm Canadian clothes, cutting my
hair, placing a pretty, wide ribbon on top
of my head.
As an adult, I can understand how
the reunion of my mother and father must
have been difficult. It is never easy to
remain close in spirit over such long
distances, with communication limited to
letters taking months to arrive. Furthermore, my mother had to rely on others to
read my father's letters to her, and to
write her replies. Then there were no
home videos to exchange to build closeness, yet, in spite of my grandfather's
revelation and all that his words implied,
my father took my mother and me to Port
Alberni to live with him, recreating our
We lived in the only place available
to us, a very cold, old draughty storage
building on First Avenue, having very
high ceilings and an outhouse for a toilet.
Rent was $10 a month, not cheap in those
days. In this place, about a year later, my
parents had their second son. In spite of
the living conditions, initially his arrival
must have made them very happy.
Significantly, I remember the bitter
coldness I felt when carrying my little
/ still smile when I look at this picture of
my new Canadian haircut, bow and warm
brother outdoors in a sling on my back.
I wonder if this coldness, both in and out
of the building, was the reason he died
tragically, probably from pneumonia, not
long after he was born. His death must
have caused my mother to become very
depressed, a possible explanation for the
blame she placed on me. I often think
that life in Canada must have been very,
very lonely for her, compared to her life
in China.
B.C. Historical News • Winter 1993-94 Her awful judgment of me echoes
still. She said: "It's your fault. You brought
bad luck when you were born. Your head
released a spell that killed your Chinese
brother and sister. Now, a spell from your
feet has killed yourlittle Canadian brother."
Even though seventy-two years have
passed since her words were spoken, I
respond to their memory always with
feelings of guilt and confusion.
It was in Mr. Bird's rental house that
Dr. Hilton, the only doctor in Port Alberni,
attended the births of my brothers (Bob,
1923; Fred, 1925; and Allen, 1927) and of
my sister, Doris, born 1926. In 1944 Bob
became one of four hundred Chinese
Canadians from British Columbia who
served in the Canadian Armed Forces
during World War Two.
Within my first few months in Canada,
was more like a general store than a
hardware store. There was one newspaper, the Port Alberni News-, one theatre,
the Old Port; and, from 1929 until 1942,
a fish saltery owned by the Japanese. Of
course, in those days Port Alberni and
Alberni were separate towns, very small.
The railroad station had its great
steam engines hissing and huffing, bringing passengers from Nanaimo and Victoria.
»l hi     IQXO
Inside my father's Henry Company grocery store in Port Atberni.
A short time after my second brother's death, my mother and father rented
another house, warmer, a real home.
Located near the bottom of the Third
Street hill on the Alberni side, it was
owned by Mr. George Bird, our landlord,
friend, and sometimes advisor. He gave
me a doll for our first Christmas, and he
was the person who suggested the change
of my name, Sunho, to my first Canadian
name, used until after my marriage.
Although I liked Mr. Bird, I hated that
name. In fact, I still dislike it so much 1
won't allow it written here in my story. I
suppose it was needed, but I don't remember ever being consulted about the
my world began to expand to include my
father's store, Henry Company, located
on Argyle Street, in front of the Port
Alberni shake mill. In back of the store,
the mill had train tracks coming right up
to it. I often watched, fascinated, as
shakes were moved onto the trains to be
carried to faraway places. I remember my
new Canadian world was pleasantly
scented by the odour of freshly cut cedar
I became aware of the other businesses nearby. Homewood's supplied
the fishing and passenger boats travelling
the Alberni Canal. The Stone Brothers'
office arranged trips to Tofino and
Ucluelet. Nearby, MacDonald's Hardware
Some stayed at the nearby Somass Hotel,
waiting for connecting transportation to
logging camps. Some shopped for caulked
boots or logging clothes at Price
Some of our Chinese friends were in
fishing or service businesses, some were
loggers working for small "gyppo" logging outfits, many worked in the Alberni
Pacific Lumber Mill. Chinese, Hindu,
Japanese and English customers all came
to my father's Henry Company grocery
At seven, I had to help by watering
Father's excellent garden. Mostly he grew
Chinese vegetables, including pea plants
six to seven feet tall! Gigantic to a small
B.C. Historical News ■ Winter 1993-94 He taught Mother how to make apple
pie, and Sunday mornings he enjoyed
cooking half-inch-thick pancakes. My
mouth waters remembering that delicious aroma waking us up! Today, like
him, I still use butter to make my pancakes.
I enjoyed helping Mother, especially
in May when we made "dong chay,"
rolling the glutinous rice, Chinese sausage and salted eggs inside three long
leaves to create a delicious delicacy. We
spent hours together, folding the rolls a
special way, with square corners, the way
she learned to do it in Wang Suey. We
boiled them for three or four hours, a
lengthy preparation making dong chay a
rare treat.
To help me begin school, Father
taught me five English sayings — "good
morning, teacher, goodbye, thank you,
my name Sunho" — but I was too
embarassed to speak on the first day. I
kept my head down on my desk, made
shy by the stares of my eighteen classmates. After two or three days, I began to
relax, then I began to learn quickly. In
five months, my teacher promoted me to
grade two, not bad for someone who was
just learning English. Later, I was "skipped"
from grade five to grade six, then from
grade seven to grade eight. Every time
this happened, my father smiled, giving
me a real, round silver dollar.
I remember an eye doctor came to
Posingproudly beside tbe Ford truck my father purchased with bis earningsfrom
bis garden.
the school to test everyone. He said: "If
this girl wanted to, she could see a fly
flying over Mount Arrowsmith." (I still
have good eyesight to this day. Even at
eighty years old, I still don't need to wear
glasses to read,)
My teachers were Miss Matz, Mrs.
Bacon, Miss Smith, Mr. Jones (a Welshman who taught grade seven), and Mr.
Samuel Oswald Harries, the principal.
Mr. Harries wore soft-soled shoes, good
for creeping up on the students that
threw things or used pea shooters.
In fall, on the way home from school,
my brothers and our friends would hop
over a fence to pick ripe apples, but I
wouldn't eat them. I worried the apples
were being stolen. Even then, it was
important to me to be honest. We thought
the Alberni Canal was beautiful, sometimes looking like molten silver or gold,
not at all like the water it was.
Then one day, after finishing grade
eight, I decided Henry Company would
be the place that completed my education. Because my uncle returned to China,
I was needed to keep the store records
and speak English to our non-Chinese
customers. I chose to work full time at
Henry Company from then until my marriage when I was twenty. It was a choice
that gave me the training permitting my
eventual success in business in Vancouver.
In my mind, I have fond memories of
serving customers wearing one of two
blue-coloured smocks, each of which
cost one dollar in the Eaton's catalogue.
I can see myself surrounded by the neatly
stacked rows of green Export and other
cigarette packages, not smoking, yet saving cigarette coupons from the cartons,
sending them away for a free box camera
or for free pens to share. I was satisfied to
be an asset to my family, and I forgot all
about Wang Suey. I began to feel Port
Alberni was the only place I knew. I liked
it there and I wanted to stay.
However, fate intervened again,
leading me in another direction. I was to
be married because, for reasons of their
own, my father and mother decided they
wanted to return to China. They left
shortly after my marriage, leaving me
very lonely. If I had grown up in Wang
Suey instead of Canada, they probably
would have married me to a "Mah" boy,
or perhaps a "Turn" or a "Horn." That was
the way it was always arranged. But,
because I chose to live in Canada, fate
and a matchmaker decreed that I marry a
Canadian-born "Chu," my husband
We were married twice: first a Chinese wedding, then at my request, a
simple Canadian ceremony performed
ten months later in June 1934 in the Sam
Hop Coffee Shop (my father-in-law's
restaurant). This ceremony not only made
our marriage legal here, but also allowed,
my Canadian citizenship, even though
Chinese were then barred from applying
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 for it. You see, my husband had been
born in Canada, a Canadian.
Throughout the Depression we both
worked: Charlie in his father's restaurant,
then later at the White Lunch, me part
time in the Y Hoy Grocery Stores. My four
children were born and we saved our
pennies until we owned a modest house
at 542 Georgia Street.
In May 1949 we sold this house,
risking everything to purchase our own
nice, new, clean grocery store, Fairway
Foodland, located at 6493 Victoria Drive.
Hard work by both of us and our children, plus good management and a fateful fire at a nearby Safeway store, increased our success. In just five years we
earned enough to build a $20,000 home
(a great deal of money in 1954) at 2243
East 48th Avenue. I was so proud and
happy the day we moved in, and I loved
creating our beautiful garden every year.
Having raised four of my own children, seen them grown up, productive,
married, I now enjoy watching my twelve
grandchildren grow. When I think of it, in
spite of the name, you don't hear much
about the joys of grandchildren on All My
Children, do you?
Perhaps, rather than to the soaps, my
life is better compared to the lives of the
plants that have always given meaning to
my life. Today I have pink stocks, peonies, blue rhododendrons, red Christmas
cacti, purple African violets and green
hoya surrounding and delighting me in
our little apartment home. My husband
and my family might say that I am neither
as silent nor as lacking in opinion as my
plants, but I think the comparison holds
Like them, I have had little choice
about the location of the soil in which I
grow, yet the soils of Wang Suey, Port
Alberni and Vancouver have nurtured
me. No matter how much my desires
have been pruned and clipped to my
experiences, I keep on growing in spirit.
Like them, I am honest, true to my nature.
My life has been fruitful, productive, with
little time wasted in useless activity.
When I think about it now, I see that
my original Chinese name, Sunho, was a
good name for me. This plant name is an
appropriate symbol for the life and the
story that this eighty-year-old Chinese
lady has remembered and told.
Pat Koretcbuk grew up in Port Alberni but
now is married and living in White Rock. Mrs.
Koretcbuk teaches at LA. Matheson fr. Secondary School in Surrey. She wrote tbe biography Rose's Roots of a classmate's grandmother. Lorine Cbu read Rose's Roots and
asked Pat Koretcbuk to visit and transcribe
this beautiful story which is shared with us on
these pages.
Mann, Martin, ed. Library of Nations: China. Virginia,
U.S.A.: Time-Life Books Publishers, 1986.
Lai, David Chuenyan. The Forbidden City within
Victoria. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1991.
Norris, John. Strangers Entertained. Vancouver, B.C.:
Evergreen Press, 1971.
Beckow, Stephen M. Canada s Visual History Series,
Volume 14, Keeping British Columbia White. Ottawa:
National Film Board of Canada, 1974.
Peterson, Jan. Tbe Albernis, 1860- 1922. Lantzville,
British Columbia: Oolichan Books, 1992.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Kootenay Central Railway
by Winnifred A. Weir
When I came to the Windermere
Valley in 1929 as a primary teacher, the
shrill whistle of the Kootenay Central
Railway signalled one ofthe events ofthe
The KCR is a branch line of the CPR
running from Cranbrook to Golden serving
the Columbia Valley. It followed the days
when stage coaches and then paddle
wheels on the Columbia River were the
only means of transportation.
The KCR was planned as early as
1901 but it did not become a reality for
more than a decade. After many months
of arduous construction, the last spike
was driven December 3,1914, just south
of Athalmer, and on January 1; 1915, the
first train steamed into Lake Windermere
station. It carried soldiers en route to
World War I.
There had been heated controversy
between the communities of Athalmer
and Invermere as to the name of the
station. To avoid further conflict, the CPR
named it Lake Windermere, although it is
situated at Athalmer. (This caused confusion when travellers from Britain or
Eastern Canada enquired about train
transportation to Athalmer and Invermere
and were told no station existed by those
The train schedule called for twice-
weekly service: Cranbrook to Golden
and return. Largely offering mail and
freight service, there was one grimy passenger coach placed ahead of the caboose. The train left Cranbrook Monday
and Thursday mornings, arriving at Fort
Steele, twelve miles away by road, about
2 pm. It arrived at Lake Windermere in
early evening, stayed the night, and
steamed on to Golden Tuesdays and
Fridays, returning to Cranbrook Wednesdays and Saturdays.
In 19291 was living at the Invermere
Hotel with another teacher and, with the
current boyfriends, we would await the
train whistle that signalled the crossing a
mile south of the station. Dropping
whatever we were doing, we'd tumble
into the first available vehicle and head
for the station a mile away. We were in
good company for half the community
would be doing the same. The train
arrival was an event of the day.
Of first concern was any passenger
who might alight. Who was he or she?
Sometimes someone knew. If not, there
was speculation because any new arrival
was a matter of interest. If there was no
passenger, we followed the mail truck,
speculating on letters that might be within
the mail sacks. Then there was a half-
hour or more wait while the mail was
sorted. It was always sorted, even when
the train was late, steaming in at 9:30 or
10 pm. The King's Mail was of prime
importance and we stood in the grocery
store that housed the post office, waiting
hopefully until the postmistress turned
from her sorting and handed letters to the
lucky recipients.
Came the 1930s, marriage, and in a
few years, two babies. My parents lived in
Cranbrook and, as we had no car, the
KCR offered the only opportunity for
family visits. Trips in the grimy passenger
car with two small children were a not-to-
be-forgotten experience and one I would
not care to repeat.
My mother would drive us to Fort
Steele to avoid the roundabout trip there
from Cranbrook and, armed with sandwiches and baby bottles or colouring
books and crayons, depending on the
then ages of the children, we would
entrain in the airless, not-too-clean passenger coach.
In summer the fine views were
scarcely visible through the grimy windows but it offered some respite. However in winter the snow-covered landscape
was monotonous. The coach was heated
by a pot-bellied wood/coal stove at one
end, around whose reddening sides we
would gather with whomever the other
passengers might be.
Sometimes the genial conductor or
trainman would bring me a cup of tea, for
there was no meal facility. Sometimes we
would be invited into the caboose where,
no doubt, the children broke the mo
notony for the train crew.
In winter it would be dusk long
before we reached Lake Windermere
station so the trainman would light a coal
oil lamp which swung to and fro with the
shaking of the train, and I would watch it
in dread lest it fall and start a fire.
If the coach ever had a spring cleaning
it was designed to last the year and I
struggled to keep the children's hands
clean at least until they had eaten their
sandwiches. The air reeked of unwashed
passengers who had occupied the coach
in months past.
Not many people travelled by the
KCR in those days because most people
had cars, and the road trip to Cranbrook
was just three hours, compared to the five
or six on the train. Passenger service
declined as road conditions improved
until eventually a stage service was
available between Golden and Cranbrook,
with stops in the valley. The passenger
coach was dropped from the north-south
Then came increasing coal activity in
the Crow's Nest and the CPR upgraded
the KCR rails to withstand the heavy coal
traffic which joined the main line at
Golden, hence to Roberts Bank at the
coast and Japan. Mail service had long
before been changed to mail trucks so the
rail traffic became solely freight.
Then in 1975, on a crisp October
morning, the northbound freight's engine
and two cars derailed on the crossing
adjacent to Lake Windermere station and
tore into the log structure. The CPR
decided that the extensive damage was
not worth repairing.
The Windermere District Historical
Society seized the opportunity, contacted
the CPR and, after negotiations, the CPR
agreed to give the society the remains of
Lake Windermere station for a nominal
sum. The society was to remove the
building by a specified date.
This demanded a major moving
project and a tremendous volunteer effort but the task was accomplished and
the building has now been renovated and
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 is the focal area of the Pioneer Museum
at Invermere.
The station at Athalmer was not rebuilt. The handsome log building was
replaced by a mobile-type complex, a far
cry from the historic structure that now is
the pride of the museum.
If a CP Rail coal train en route from
the Crow's Nest coalfields to Roberts
Bank near Vancouver had not derailed
and ploughed through the Lake Windermere station at Athalmer, Invermere
wouldn't have Its log cabin museum
The society's museum until then had
been housed in two log buildings nearer
the town centre. The first, acquired in
1964, was a one-room cabin hauled from
Kootenay National Park when its site was
required for highway construction.
Measuring three by five metres, it was
probably the smallest museum in Canada.
It soon became too small for the
growing collection of artifacts and the
chance came to acquire a second log
building. This was the original clubhouse
of the Royal Canadian Legion branch.
When the school board bought the land
the building was on for parking space, it
was sold to the historical society for the
token dollar and moved beside the first
Then when tlie station was to be
moved up the hill to Invermere to sit on
land donated by the Village of Invermere,
the other two buildings were moved
there also to the small park. They made
a picturesque complex.
Many donations and much volunteer
labour had made the project possible.
The village installed water and sewer.
The National Museum of Canada gave a
grant toward moving and renovating the
former station; the Invermere Businessmen's Association, through the Devonian
Beautification Program, assisted; and
private businesses and individuals donated
funds and labour.
As the renovations were completed,
plans for improved display areas were
developed. Because David Thompson's
Fort Kootenay is of major historical interest, the area with Thompson artifacts,
including a valuable copy of his journal,
is framed with simulated palisades.
Indian artifacts are also given
prominence. The valley has two Indian
bands: the Kootenay (Columbia Lake
Band) and the Shuswaps. There is a
Shuswap dugout canoe of undetermined
age and an interesting collection of bead
work, papoose bags, arrowheads and
tribal photographs.
Also treasured is a Father de Smet
medal dated 1845, the year he was the
first priest to visit the area. It is presumed
that the priest either lost it himself or gave
it to an Indian who later lost it. It came
into the possession of a local resident
who presented it to the museum.
The primary aim of the society has
been to preserve the history of the old-
time families and there is a valuable
collection of scrapbooks, diaries and
photographs in the archives.
Some years ago the log cabin of an
old-time prospector was moved to the
complex and this houses stories of the
old mines, ore samples and photographs.
An old notary public building, a
more recent acquisition, houses all the
old journals, typewriters and business
artifacts pertaining to the early-day stores
and businesses.
Thousands of people each year from
far flung parts of the world visit this
resort area and take time to visit the local
museum. Many expressions of appreciation are received that such a small community can house such a valuable collection of local artifacts.
Win Weir is a retired teacher, editor and valued community leader Uving in Invermere,
where ber borne overlooks Lake Windermere
and tbe rail line where coal trains still travel
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Famous Potatoes from Ashcroft
Ashcroft was, perhaps, one of the most
important centres in the province of British
Columbia in years past, with its freighting
days, raising and shipping cattle and farm
produce, epsom salts, honey, and other products.
It was June 14, 1912, when tlie Ashcroft
District Potato Growers held its first meeting.
Some 38 members were present and nine
applications for membership were received.
Mr. Lucas, the association's solicitor, opened
the meeting with a brief address on the
advantages of an Agricultural Association Act.
The following officers were elected: Hon.
President - Martin Bun-ell; Hon. Vice President - Alex Lucas, M.P.P.; President - Charles
Semlin (former M.P.P. and premier of B.C.);
Vice President - C.E. Barnes; Secretary and
Manager - W.C. Adam. The board of directors
included W.H. Hammond-Basque, Charles
Doering of Hat Creek, Charles Gibson, G.N.
Barclay, J.B. Leighton of Savona, J.J. Melbuish
of Walachin, and W.O. Lang.
Previous to the forming of the association, potato growers were shipping many
carloads to different areas under their individual market names. In October, 35 carloads
of Ashcroft potatoes were shipped out east
and west by H.L. Roberts, manager at the F.W.
Foster's store, at $2.50 per ton.
Ashcroft benefitted from the operation of
the Potato Growers Association. It encouraged settlers to come to the district. Certain
members spoke of the advantages to be
derived from having a trademark. It was
pointed out that in previous years Ashcroft
had been "robbed of its birthright by the many
imitations on the market" (with inferior products), with the result that the real grower of
potatoes had to stand financial loss.
Potatoes made Ashcroft famous across
the continent. Orders came from Minneapolis,
Kansas City, Toronto, Vancouver and other
points. One discriminating customer was the
Canadian Pacific Railway which, for many
years, would use only Ashcroft potatoes in its
dining cars and hotels across Canada. Potatoes were grown in quantities and quality
superior to all others for flavour. They were
dug in the fall and many were stored in huge
root cellars over the winter. Wagon loads of
potatoes were hauled to the CNR and CPR
freight yards, graded and shipped according
to government regulations to customers across
the country.
An item from the Inland Sentinel of
Kamloops on October 6, 1894, tells us: "Mr.
CA. Semlin related to the Inland Sentinel this
week a wonderful yield of potatoes on the
farm of Mr. P. Parke, Bonaparte. Last spring
Mr. Parke got one pound of seed potatoes
from a Philadelphia seed house, and upon
digging them called Mr. Semlin to witness the
results and weigh the produce which turned
out to be 280 1/2 lbs. The seed house offers
a prize of $75 for the largest quantity raised
from one pound of seed west ofthe Rockies,
and a capital prize of $150 for the greatest
yield anywhere in America, so that Mr. Parke
is a probable winner of both prizes."
by Tracy Thiessen
The building which houses the Ashcroft
Museum seems rather old and unpretentious
on the exterior, but when you walk inside it's
like entering a time warp. It was built in 1917
as the post office; the post office was a central
point in citizens' lives here as long as it was in
Displays lead the visitor through town in the
I early 1900s; an exhibit of
I WW I memorabilia; a drug
store with the newest cure-
all; fashions circa 1920;
some mining apparatus
used in the brief coal mining venture in the 1860s;
and even a glimpse of settlers before a community
Robert D. Cumming
stated that when his family
arrived from Scotland in
1885, there was no CPR
depot in Ashcroft. The train
went straight through to
Cumming,  then  ten
years old, started collecting arrowheads around
his parents' farm at Pavilion, B.C. When he
purchased the Ashcroft Journal in 1912, he
started a museum above his office. During his
business career he inspired others to contribute
photos and artifacts. In the early 1950s the
expanded collection moved to a larger
building, the Harvey-Bailey warehouse beside
the tracks. Soon afterwards, the Canadian
Pacific Railway decreed that the building must
come down. The Cumming family bequeathed
the collection to the Village of Ashcroft. Artifacts were packed, moved and placed in
storage. Finally, public concern for the collection was transformed into action. Fund-
raising dances were held every Saturday night.
Sunday "bricking bees" had volunteers building a concrete-block museum and fire hall.
(Lew Cumming, Jr., grandson of R.D., says it
is possible that some of the Sunday morning
brick work might have been a wee bit crooked
— but no matter, the work got done.)
The new museum, bearing R.D.
Cumming's name, was officially opened in the
year of his death, 1958, and served the community for 22 years.
A Canada Works grant in 1978-79 assisted
with cleaning, cataloguing and updating of
displays. It also emphasized the unsuitability
of the cement building, so when the federal
post office was vacated in 1980, the village
council acquired this with a view to upgrading
the interior for a museum.
Curator Robert Graham researched,
planned and directed remodelling, installing
air conditioning, insulation, new flooring,
lighting and creation of special showcases.
Funding came from many sources for the
$80,000 worth of improvements. This museum
officially opened in June 1982. Exhibits concentrate on the heyday of Ashcroft, that is, the
years between 1884 and the great fire of 1916.
Archives hold records through to the present
Today the museum curator is Helen
Forster. She is a walking reservoir of Ashcroft
history, quick to provide answers to visitors
and to substantiate her answers with written
materials in her files. The Ashcroft Museum
preserves and presents a wealth of information about the district surrounding this little
railway town tucked beneath arid hillsides a
few kilometres away from die Trans Canada
This article was compiled using information
supplied by tbe Ashcroft Museum.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Miracle at Indian Arm
by Valerie Green
Victoria writer Marguerite West is in
her eighty-first year now. Lately her writing
has been curtailed somewhat due to the
fact that she has been caring for her sick
husband. But she still likes to tell a good
Recently she related one to me that
has always been very close to her heart.
And a story with ingredients like a rustic
wilderness inn, a courageous young
woman, and a wrinkled old Indian woman
who performed a miracle could not help
but intrigue the listener.
"The story begins back in 1910," said
Marguerite. "That was when the once-
famous Wigwam Inn first opened its
doors to the public."
The Wigwam Inn is situated approximately twenty-five miles from Vancouver at the mouth of Indian River on
Indian Arm, which is the northern arm of
Burrard Inlet. The building of the Inn was
initially the idea of Benjamin (Benny)
Dickens, the instigator of the first advertising agency in Canada. He had long
envisioned building a luxury wilderness
resort catering to the wealthy, where the
fishing and hunting were
excellent. His plans, however, encountered a few
financial snags along the
In 1910, millionaire and
well-known Vancouver
resident Gustav Constantin
Alvo von Alvensleben, the
son of a former Prussian
ambassador, decided to invest in the project. This
money gave Dickens the
help he needed.
In June of that year,
the newly formed Indian
River Park Development
Company chartered the
steamer Baramba to sail
up the Arm with six hundred people aboard, all
anxious to inspect the development and visit the
luxury Inn.
Although many famous visitors came
to the Wigwam Inn in the early days,
Marguerite's story concerns an unknown
young couple, George and Margaret (Meg)
Dayton, who were employed by the Inn's
owners to be the managers there for the
summer of 1911.
The Daytons were certainly not your
average young couple. Meg, although
only in her early twenties, suffered from
a chronic arthritic condition causing her
to limp badly. Most ofthe time she was in
great pain, but this did not stop her
leading a normal life. When she and
George answered a newspaper advertisement, they were convinced they would
be chosen as the right couple to manage
the Wigwam Inn.
Meg's sister and father also joined
them to help with the chores. Meg carried
out her tasks with a smile on her face and
was highly thought of by everyone who
visited the Inn that summer.
In September, when the Inn was
officially closed down for the winter, Meg
and George were asked to stay on as
caretakers. They agreed, and Meg's father
and sister Emily also stayed on.
In October Meg and Emily paid a
brief visit to Vancouver for Meg to have
a medical check-up. To her amazement
she found that she was pregnant and the
baby was due the following April. George
was concerned for his wife's health and
wanted them to leave the Inn immediately and return to Vancouver so that she
would be near good medical help. Her
chronic arthritic condition had not improved and it was thought that her hip
might cause special complications during
Meg was convinced that so long as
she followed doctor's orders concerning
diet and exercise she would be able to
stay on at the Inn through the winter. To
appease her worried husband, however,
she agreed that they would leave Indian
Arm a good month before the baby was
The winter months passed uneventfully and by the following February the
weather had turned quite spring-like,
enabling Meg and Emily to take daily
walks along nearby trails. On one of
those walks, on February 22, Meg slipped
on wet ground, lost her balance and fell,
A picture of tbe proposed hotel that appeared in B.C Saturday Sunset, August 1907.
Picture taken from The History of Wigwam Inn by Pam Humphreys.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 H**3 1
11^ «vfl
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George and Meg Dayton with baby
Marguerite - c 1913.
hitting her head against a rock as she
went down.
Emily was panic-stricken. She ran for
the men but by the time the three of them
returned, Meg was already sitting up,
rubbing her head and wondering what all
the fuss was about. George ordered his
wife back to bed and, apart from the scare
they had all received, everything seemed
to be all right.
During the night, Meg went into
premature labour. It was a full two months
before the baby was due but her fall had
obviously hurried things along.
There were no telephones at the
Wigwam Inn so communication with the
outside world was impossible. Greatly
distressed and fearing for his wife's life,
George decided he would try and get to
Buntzen Lake where there was a logging
camp doctor in residence, even though
the distance to the lake was quite considerable.
A long, arduous row down Indian
Arm was followed by a hike inland from
Buntzen Bay toward the lake. In near
pitch darkness George stumbled on.
Suddenly he was helped by the appear
ance ofthe Northern Lights briefly
lighting up the sky as though in
answer to his fervent prayer to
guide his way. But his journey
was all to no avail as the camp
doctor had left for a few days in
town. George did, however,
manage to telephone Meg's
Vancouver doctor who promised to leave for the Inn with his
nurse at daybreak.
When George returned to
Meg's bedside many long hours
later, he discovered her labour
had ceased and she had lapsed
into a coma. He placed a mirror
to her lips, not even sure she was
alive, but to his relief discovered
she was still breathing. On his
knees he begged her not to die,
praying for guidance as to what
he should do next.
Thinking to hurry the doctor's arrival by waiting down by
the wharf, he rushed out into the
cold, grey dawn. A heavy fog
hung over the water in patches.
Suddenly he heard the sound of
splashing water and saw, coming slowly through the mist, a
solitary canoe manned by a
wrinkled old Indian woman. George
frantically called for help and the woman
came nearer to the wharf, probably
thinking George wanted to buy her fish.
She was dressed in soiled navy pants
and a heavy sweater, with a red bandanna
on her head and a pair of gold hoops
through her ears. Her gum boots were
muddy and she smelled strongly of fish
but to George she was the most beautiful
person he had ever seen. He was convinced that this apparition from the mist
would be Meg's saving grace.
He helped her out of the boat and,
although she spoke no English, persuaded her in sign language to come with
him to the Inn to help his wife. Once
inside, he led her to a washbasin, insisting that she wash her hands, as well as the
fish knife she proposed using on her
patient. After that, the Indian woman
took charge by ushering him out of the
No one ever knew exactly what
happened next. Against all medical odds,
however, this mystery woman managed
to save Meg's life and deliver her baby
safely. Two hours later, the baby's cry
was music to George's ears.
Meg herself had no memory of the
previous night and her long ordeal, but
she felt inwardly that she had been saved
from death's door by this miracle woman.
A woman who, according to the doctor
who later attended Meg, had achieved far
more than any of the available medical
knowledge in Vancouver at that time
would have done.
Meg squeezed the Indian woman's
hand in silent understanding. Then, in
the general confusion and excitement of
the moment, no one noticed that she had
quietly slipped away. Next morning, she
reappeared at the door with a handmade
papoose basket for Meg's baby and, in
return, she accepted the food and money
that George insisted that she take. Then
once more she went on her way, never to
be seen again. George and Meg named
their daughter Marguerite.
"That baby was me," grinned eighty-
year-old Marguerite at the end of her
story. "It was a miracle birth, wasn't it?"
It was indeed, but in many ways it
was just the prelude to a rather miraculous life. Marguerite's courage, like that
of her mother, has been brought to the
fore many times during her life.
Just prior to her own marriage sixty-
two years ago, she was diagnosed as
having bone cancer in her right foot. She
fought the cancer and beat it. Her only
daughter was born with an eye problem
needing much medical attention through
the years. Medical expenses were exorbitant and took Marguerite and her husband ten years to pay off. During the
Depression years this was especially
difficult for them.
During World War Two, Marguerite,
far ahead of her time, took a job as a truck
driver to help out with expenses, in
addition to looking after her home, her
husband and daughter, and two other
young children.
So life has not always been easy for
the Wests. And Marguerite would perhaps
parallel her life in many ways with that of
the Wigwam Inn itself. When World War
One started in 1914, the Inn was forced to
close down because of its predominantly
German theme. It opened again in the
twenties with a new owner and a new
During the Depression it became a
day lodge serving lunches only and selling Indian crafts. It was modernized again
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 in the fifties and operated as a gambling
casino in the sixties until a dawn raid by
the RCMP brought those activities to an
abrupt end. The Inn was even used for
movie locations on occasion.
Eventually, with a general downtrend in business, the Inn fell into disrepair and lay vacant for a number of years.
During that time it was pitifully vandalized. Many of its prize possessions were
destroyed. The guest book was found
floating in the water and only a few pages
were able to be saved.
In the seventies, the Inn was bought
by Arjay Developments Ltd., who rejuvenated it somewhat, and later Western
Pacific Resorts Inc. as the new owners
also spent a great deal of money to turn
the Inn back into the ultimate retreat it
once was.
Today the Wigwam Inn is owned by
the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club but is
only used by them for special events.
There are still no telephones, although
there is now radio communication with
the outside world.
As for the papoose basket, Marguerite told me it was discovered years later
in the attic of the old Dayton home and
was presented by George's sister to the
Kamloops Museum, where it now forms
part of their Native Indian display.
"I returned to the Inn myself in 1982,"
Marguerite said. "It was about two years
after the grand re-opening. I felt that
before I died I needed to see the place my
parents had told me so much about."
Her emotions were strong as she
wandered around the Inn thinking about
the story of her birth. Later she slipped
away on her own to wander the trails.
"I tried to imagine the exact spot
where my mother might have fallen and
struck her head. Then I wandered down
by the water and pictured in my mind's
eye that old Indian woman with the
magical powers coming out of the mist. I
wanted to experience the relief my father
must have felt at that moment in time.
"... I was finally about to say a silent
prayer of thanks for the miracle at Indian
Arm which gave me life ... "
Valerie Green is a freelance journalist in Victoria and author of two books on prominent
residents in our capital city.
After the Reenactments
We celebrated the bicentennial of the
exploration of our Pacific coast in 1992, and
followed Lakehead University students paddling their way to the Arctic Ocean, then
arranging to appear at Mackenzie Rock near
Bella Coola on July 22, 1993. We wish we
could report that the sun shone on all ventures
and that students and citizens benefitted immensely.
The Wake of the Explorers (International
Maritime Bicentennial Reenactment Expedition 1992) perhaps should have been named
"Against the Tide." This project ran into both
political and real currents which made for
difficult progress at the outset. Unfortunate
references to the Columbus Voyage, commemorating its 500th anniversary this same
year, threatened to tar all explorers with the
same brush ... and doubdess moved Premier
Michael Harcourt to set a "politically correct"
tone for the local bicentennial by announcing:
"There is no reason why British Columbia
should be celebrating the arrival of George
Vancouver." This, despite the fact that his
Captain GaUano's "lancba" in foreground, Captain Vancouver's
yawl in rear in Desolation Sound, fuly 1992.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 0*S3*£ *f
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.4 "community weekend" at French Creek Harbour in August
1992: "pulling an oar with Captain Vancouver."
government was helping to sponsor the expedition, as well as numerous museum exhibitions and special projects.
Captain Vancouver Day, June 13, 1992,
was wet but well attended. Within the first two
weeks approximately 1,000 persons had
stepped into the boats, learning to pull together in waters close to Vancouver. Over the
following five weeks the longboat crews
threaded the upcoast channels with a perseverance and fascination worthy of early seamen, handling twelve-foot oars and lugsails as
if they were familiar tools. Pulling in unison
for hours on end, however, gave a special
relish to supper ashore and made even a bed
on a stony beach seem soft. (Longboat crews
sleep well.) It wasn't all rowing. Long hours of
making sail on a close reach or with the wind
astern often gave crews a chance to relax.
Over twenty community visits during tlie
fourteen-week expedition brought the fleet
into the local limelight. The smaller the community, the bigger the response. In August the
boats were trailered to Gold River to permit a
voyage down the west coast of Vancouver
Island. A spectacular entry into Friendly Cove
was climaxed by a day of feasting, speeches
and dancing. Public receptions here and
elsewhere set an example of mutual respect
between cultures. Native chiefs were honoured
and spoke eloquently of the joint inheritance
which calls us to face our common future
together. The Wake of the Explorer longboats
headed the parade opening the Classic Boat
Festival in Victoria's Inner Harbour ... with
staff members from the ministry of government
services occupying the captain's seat. It was
an epic journey directly involving 5,000 people from every waterfront community in
southern British Columbia and the states of
Washington and Oregon.
Five years of study, planning and building by volunteers went into the preparation of
the boats representing British and Spanish
yawls, cutters and jolly boats. Tlie twenty
boats will serve for many years. The eleven
boats here in British Columbia are being used
for school and community outdoor education
programs in Victoria, Cowichan Bay, Saturna
Island, Sooke, Esquimalt and Galiano Island.
The Washington State boats are being used by
the Sea Scouts, Outward Bound and a
CYO camp. Those in
Oregon are displayed and used by
the Maritime Museum in Astoria and
the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
along the Grease Trail. The disappointment
incurred by the blocked trail was assuaged by
the welcoming ceremonies held in Sir Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School in Bella
Coola. The Nuxalk hereditary chiefs and their
families extended personal hospitality to the
young adventurers. Nonetheless, the students
camped overnight on The Rock prior to the
official celebrations.
On the cloudy, drizzly July 22, crowds
assembled in a flotilla of private and official
vessels supported by HMCSMackenzie, a 300-
foot destroyer. The official Nuxalk party, in
ceremonial robes, were ferried to the beach
and trail to file to their benches below the
monument. The voyageur canoes threaded
through the fleet, landed, and twenty-five
costumed travellers filed onto the slippery
rock where they faced the aboriginal leaders.
Chief Andy Siwallace wove a ceremonial
feather into the hair of Dwayne Smith from
Newfoundland (who acted as Alexander Mackenzie). "You are a welcome sight," he said.
"You followed in Mackenzie's footsteps from
beginning to end, and we are proud of you.
While you are here you will be living in peace
with us." Other statesmanlike greetings followed. The young visitors, who had travelled
Canada from sea to sea, led in the singing of
"O Canada" and heard it echo back over the
This information was
supplied by Mr. and
Mrs. Gregory Foster
of Galiano Island
Greg was one of tbe
boat builders and tbe
executive director of
tbe Discovery
Reenactment Society.
The Route ofthe
Voyageurs, 8,500
kilometres from
Quebec City to Bella
Coola, was completed. They stood
on Mackenzie Rock.
The twenty-four
Lakehead University
students and their
leaders were forced
to abandon the climactic two-week
347-kilometre walk
Lakebead University students, dressed in period costume, at tbe
Alexander Mackenzie monument in BeUa Coola.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 HI E3 1^1
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Nuxalk hereditary chiefs and famiUes from BeUa Coola, arrival on tbe beach.
commerce in Peace River, Fort McMunay and
Fort Vermilion will keep in touch with The
Alexander Mackenzie Trail Association to
promote themselves as places on the Sea-to-
Sea Route .
Meanwhile, in Jacques Cartier Provincial
Park near Quebec City, a group of French-
Canadian voyageur canoeists and historians
met at noon on July 22 to commemorate the
"first crossing." Six French-Canadian crewmen acccompanied Mackenzie in 1793. Two
direct descendants of crew members were
present for this observation ofthe bicentennial.
The students went from Bella Coola to
Fort Langley, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and six different communities in the
Okanagan to present a program which had
been shared with many groups along their
route. They presented a show at the Canada
Summer Games in Kamloops. They are now
back in classes at Thunder Bay or starting their
chosen careers. At least two excellent videos
have been prepared. (Details on how to buy
or borrow a video will appear in a future
Meanwhile, communities along the water route taken by Alexander Mackenzie have
been alerted to their history and promise to
highlight this in future. Tlie chambers of
Information and pictures courtesy qffobn
Woodworth of Kelowna, secretary for
tbeAMTA anddirectorJ'oreighteen years.
Photos from tbe Summer 1993 issue of Tbe
Alexander Mackenzie Trail Association newsletter:
The water closes swiftly a rou nd the ship's keel,
and she leaves no track upon the sea; even the
fretful wash and wake vanish astern as a skein
of froth in a few brief seconds. Yet every craft
which passes leaves some trace in memory,
and every passage and channel is forever
haunted, however faintly, by the ships and
seamen who have sailed them through the
— Author Unknown
Hereditary Chief Arthur Hans.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 The Kwakiutl9 A West Coast Nation
by Leonard W. Meyers
Today we hear a great deal about
Indian land claims and Indian affairs. The
early Kwakiutl (recently renamed the
Kwakwaka'wakw) Indians of B.C. occupied a large area of mainland British
Columbia. This virgin land was
unsurveyed, unregistered and undefiled
before the coming of the white man.
This large area ofthe northwest coast,
roughly from Bute Inlet on the south to
Douglas Channel on the north, including
the northeastern portion of Vancouver
Island from Johnstone Strait to Quatsino
Sound, was the undisputed habitat ofthe
Kwakiutl. Part of the Kwakiutl domain,
especially the portion in the vicinity of
Dean and Burke Channels and Coast
Range mountain valleys, was partially
inhabited by a tribe of Salish people
known as the Bella Coola Indians, while
the offshore islands were considered part
of the Kwakiutl territory and generally
remained free of alien Indian occupation.
Personal property in the strict sense
did not include real estate or land and
was largely limited to clothing, abalone
shells, potlatch supplies and primitive
tools, as well as weapons, canoes and
other articles necessary for carrying out
his daily duties or pursuing his vocation.
Kwakiutl women similarly owned their
own wardrobes, ornaments and such
items as woven baskets, boxes and other
utensils required to maintain her household. But no real estate.accrued to her.
Even her home and the names connected
with it were common or family property.
One of the most prized possessions
of the Kwakiutl was copper. This soft
metal was often hammered and fashioned into tribal or family plaques or
crests which were then handed down
from generation to generation and greatly
prized. The crests, privileges and the
names ofthe ancestor were owned at any
given time by the male head ofthe family.
Most of the copper, some in rolled
sheets, came from early American and
European traders given in exchange for
furs. During potlatches and other ceremonial occasions, these plaques were
displayed as marks of wealth and honour
and, at times, depicted the tribal affiliation. Pearl buttons were also greatly prized
by West Coast Indians such as the
Kwakiutl. It is believed that most of these
came from early Russian traders seeking
valuable otter skins.
The Kwakiutl had an innate appreciation for beauty and embellishment
and used pearl buttons to outline the
crests on their blankets. A chiefs standing
in his tribe was denoted by the crests he
was authorized to wear. Additional crests
were obtained through marriage. A chief
might marry a number of times in order
to obtain more crests and thereby enhance
his and his tribe's prestige and influence.
Other privileges the Kwakiutl inherited through marriage included the right
to perform certain dances, to sing songs,
many of which they composed themselves, and to have ceremonial names
conferred upon them, a native formality
for members in secret societies such as
the Hamatsa, Grizzly Bear, Cannibal, Crazy
Man, The Warrior, etc.
Kwakiutl Indian ceremonial dances
were preoccupied with things supernatural and, indeed, the mysteries of life
itself. They found significance and
meaning in the most mundane things. For
their aboriginal dances they wore handsomely carved masks with painted representations of various creatures familiar
to them. Cedar bark dyed with the sap of
the alder held certain significance and
was traditionally worn with the masks.
Even the blankets worn during the dances
were embellished with gleaming pearl
buttons which delineated the owner's or
the chiefs tribal crest. Loud singing, sticks
beating on boards, rattles and whistles of
many kinds accompanied the dances,
and each was an integral part of the
particular dance. When the dancing began, all the dancers emerged from behind
a large ceremonial curtain or screen. This
custom was steeped in the supernatural.
No one was permitted behind its mysterious precincts without permission from
the chiefs or nobles. Each dancer had to
make a right turn before going behind the
curtain. Should the dancer inadvertently
turn left, disaster could befall him and
something would have to be done to
ward off anticipated evil.
"We do not hug each when we
dance, as white people do," claimed an
elderly chief years ago. "Ours always
dance alone."
Many creatures and animals of the
wilds were represented in their dance
rituals. There was the ever-present salmon,
the mysterious raven, the crab, grouse,
the spirit ofthe woods, the canoe dance,
the warrior dance and many others. They
even had dances representing small birds
that were supposed to ripen the berries.
The raven mask, the Kwakiutl believed
came from above, signifying a spirit from
the heavens (with a very long beak
carved of cedar). The spirit of the underworld traditionally was danced in a
crawling position, presumably denoting
its lowly stature in the spirit world.
Physically the Kwakiutl Indians resembled the general coastal Indian tribes.
They had heavy, powerful bodies with
less developed legs. They had broad
faces with high prominent cheekbones,
brown eyes and straight black hair with
very little on the face and body. They had
somewhat high and relatively narrow
noses which could be quite prominent
and frequently hooked. .
Not all Kwakiutl men were muscular
and short in stature. The late Chief William
Assu of the Cape Mudge community was
a fine, grand old man when was he was
eighty. He didn't look his age. He was six
feet, two inches tall and erect of figure
with heavy dark hair and flashing dark
eyes. During his lifetime, as did other
chiefs, he witnessed a dramatic change
from the traditional aboriginal life and
adapted to more modern times, for better
or for worse.
Kwakiutl body covering or clothing
was rather scanty. Ordinary folks wore
aprons and blankets made of deer hide.
The elders and chiefs supplemented these
with fur robes. Certain items of clothing
were woven from cedar bark, but these
were largely worn as protection from the
weather, or as padding when carrying
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 heavily laden baskets. Others were woven of mountain goat wool. Even though
the Kwakiutl developed considerable skill
in textile weaving, they failed to make
use of this craft in the manufacture of
everyday clothing.
In the summer clothing consisted, in
the main, of deer skin loin cloths for both
males and females. Blankets and rain
capes were woven of yellow cedar bark
into which goat wool, feathers, dog hairs,
etc. had been twisted and used to provide
additional warmth in the cold winter
weather. Kwakiud men wore fur headbands to keep their hair from falling over
their eyes, while hats woven from cedar
bark or spruce roots were worn in inclement weather. These were beautifully
woven and some may have been acquired
from the Haida and the Tlingit tribes who
were masters of this intricate craft.
Kwakiutl houses were of a square
configuration. The home of a noble family
might be sixty feet long, with the average
house some forty feet. The basic framework consisted of six vertical logs up to
two feet in diameter set in pairs down the
middle of the house with cross members
of equally large logs. On top of these
three arches, one or two longitudinal
large logs were laid to support the rafters
and a shallow gable roof.
The outer framework consisted of
vertical logs some ten inches in diameter
and topped with longitudinal poles running the full length of the house. The
sides, or walls, were constructed of split
cedar planks approximately four inches
thick and set in a vertical position with
the bottom ends imbedded into the soil,
and the upper ends lashed to the horizontal beams with spruce roots. The roof
planks were made of split cedar about
two inches thick. These were laid in the
manner of Chinese tiles, with the upper
layer covering each joint in the lower
series and forming a rainproof roof.
A door about four feet wide and
seven feet high was provided in the
middle ofthe front wall. This was formed
by two standing posts and an upper
crosspiece. The house was windowless,
but poles were provided with which to
slide a roof-board open and closed to
allow the smoke to escape. A house
similar to this would be occupied by
three or four families, each of which
would have its own corner with its own
fireplace flanked by one or more settees
large enough to accommodate the entire
family. Family quarters were screened
from the rest ofthe house by a framework
of light poles on which mats, blankets
and clothing were hung.
Like whites, the Kwakiutl Indians ate
three meals a day — but no cereals,
bacon and eggs, toast and coffee. Their
breakfast generally consisted offish served
with berries and roots. Lunch, like ours,
was usually a light meal and taken in the
afternoon. Dinner was the biggest meal
of the day, served when the men came
home from their daily chores. There was
generally a good selection of food available for the Kwakiud, especially seafood
such as clams, mussels, seals and sea
lions. The waters of the coast were filled
with halibut, cod and salmon. In the
forests there were deer, elk, beaver, mink,
otter, etc. There was also an abundance
of ferns and shrubs yielding a good
supply of berries and roots. The Kwakiud
seldom went hungry.
At mealtime, they had no tables or
chairs; the men sat cross-legged and the
women squatted. The food was served in
a wooden bowl or in dishes placed on the
ground. As a rule, the women did not eat
until the men had been adequately looked
after. This spartan meal ritual existed
before the coming of the white man.
Thereafter, the white arrivals taught the
Indians their ways and their culture, along
with European utensils, dishes, food
production like gardening, food preservation and preparation. They introduced
tools, firearms, liquor and disease to the
aborigines. At the same time they also
brought medicine, education, carpentry,
agriculture and religion.
The Kwakiud had many illustrious
chiefs in years gone by. They were men
of intelligence, understanding, compassion and, at times, they could be ruthless
when their possessions, way of life, territorial integrity, culture, and their very
existence was threatened, either by other
hostile tribes or by the arrival of the white
man. They were the Kwakiutl "wise men"
of generations ago, but to their tribal heirs
their memory, noble deeds and heritage
lives on.
Chief Herbert Johnson of Simoon
Sound was one of these men. Speaking of
the potlatch, Chief Johnson was quoted
as saying: "A chief likes to do it, and had
done it lots of times... Don't want to keep
all the money he earns. He wants eve
rybody to have it ... "
That is how the old chiefs felt. They
thought it was good. "When a chief gives
away everything he has," they believed,
"he never thinks he is poor. He will
always have enough." And he generally
Kwakiud parents taught their children
not to spend their money foolishly. They
were told to keep it till they had saved
enough, then to give it to other people (in
need). And they will see you as a good
Another venerable and highly respected chief was William Assu of Cape
Mudge. When Billy Assu was a baby, his
father gave a podatch and christened him
"Ya-kin-ak-was" which meant "give a
guest a blanket." This, of course, was not
the last of the chiefs podatches. The late
Chief Assu estimated that during his
lifetime he gave several hundred
potlatches. The largest one of all was the
time he invited sixteen tribes, numbering
some 3,000 people. He hosted them for
three weeks. Chief Assu's house was
three hundred feet long, one hundred
feet wide and fifty feet high. Even then, it
was bursting at the seams with food,
refreshments and various gifts to be given
away. This mammoth podatch (one of
the largest ever in B.C.) took place some
one hundred years ago, before podatches
were outlawed by the federal government
on the grounds that they impoverished
the host Indians.
Chief William Assu stood by the
water's edge at Cape Mudge and watched
his people load their cherished wooden
masks, ratdes, whisdes, woven boxes
and hats, wooden belts worn by dancers,
assorted head dresses, and piles of other
ceremonial regalia, including finely woven blankets, etc., onto a large scow. A
federal Indian agent offered the Indians a
choice: hand over the artifacts or face jail
sentences for participating in illegal gift-
giving ceremonies called podatches.
The podatch ban lasted from 1884 to
1951, with repercussions still being felt.
The government's rationale for the
potlatch ban in 1884 was that they encouraged debauchery and caused the
Indians to fritter away their resources,
and "generally made themselves unfit for
British subjects in the proper sense ofthe
word," the Indian agent wrote in his 1925
report to Indian Affairs in Ottawa.
Thirty-four leaders from several
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 communities were convicted of violating
the anti-potlatch law. Before sentencing
they were told they could avoid jail
sentences if they handed over all their
podatch paraphernalia in their communities. Families from three villages — including Cape Mudge — decided to forfeit
the items, but others refused and more
than twenty leaders went to jail.
Once in Ottawa, some of the native
artifacts were placed in national museums, while other smaller collections were
sold to foreign museums, mainly in the
United States. Today some of these museums are considering their collections of
B.C. Indian artifacts and regalia, some of
questionable acquisition, with a view to
returning certain of the items not direcdy
purchased from the Indians to their rightful aboriginal owners.
Most of the artifacts confiscated by
the Indian agent were sent to Ottawa.
Others were loaned temporarily to the
Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In the
early 1980s, the federal government saw
fit to return all the artifacts and regalia to
Kwakiutl Chief WiUiam Scow in bis native ceremonial robes and regalia which be
wore at tbe coronation of Queen EUzabetb II in Westminster Abbey, London, England
Photo courtesy of British Columbia Archives end Records Service #HP 95791
the West Coast tribes from whom they
were seized.
Chief William Assu was a hard worker.
He provided for each of his sons. He built
homes for them and provided them with
sleek, sturdy boats. Chief Billy Assu belonged to the eagle clan. His mother was
an "eagle" and his father a "wolf." Among
Assu's clan the matriarchal system still
prevailed, and a son always took his
mother's crest.
One of the more illustrious Kwakiud
chiefs of the modern age was Chief
William Scow of Gilford Island. As a well-
known and highly respected chief from
British Columbia, he was invited to attend
the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II to
represent the Indians of Canada at
Westminster Abbey in London. Resplendent in his chiefs robes and rich
native regalia, Chief Scow was an imposing
figure among the congregation of dignitaries, many in their distinctive costumes,
from around the world. He represented
Canadian Indians with dignity, colour
and authority and received accolades and
recognition from many quarters. Later,
back in British Columbia, he wore the
same colourful chiefs robes when he
made the Hon. Lyle Wicks, minister of
labour and minister of railways, an honorary chief of the Kwakiud Indian Nation
at Harrison Lake.
The Kwakiud Indians, like the Haida,
were expert dugout canoe builders. Long
before the arrival ofthe white man, large
seaworthy dugout canoes were being
constructed and in constant use by B.C.'s
coastal Indians.
A large cedar tree would be felled by
means of fire and stone chisels. The large
log was then placed so that the desired
side intended for the canoe's hull lay
below. The surplus part of the log was
then removed by means of stone wedges
and the skilful use of the adze, and the
hollowing out of the log was carried out
with controlled burning and eye-experienced adze and chisel work. The hollowing of the interior of the canoe of
necessity had to be carried out by eye as
no engineering instruments or metal tools
were available to the Indians before the
arrival of the first explorers and traders.
The most critical time of all was when
the sides ofthe hollowed canoe had to be
spread. For this delicate operation the
canoe was partly filled with water brought
to a boil by means of hot stones. Bark and
B.C. Historical News - Winter 199344 Kwakiutl Indian viUage at Alert Bay, British Columbia, circa 1907.
Photo courtesy of British Columbia Archives and Records Service #HP 20236
skin mats were laid over the canoe to
confine the steam. When the wood became soft and pliable enough, thwarts
were forced between the gunwales to
spread the .sides and give the canoe the
required beam.
Next came the hardening of the outside shell. In some cases this was done by
fire, in other instances by applying paint
comprising a mixture of oil and ground
charcoal. The boiling water in the hol-
lowed-out canoe also enabled them to
curve the prow into a sleek and imposing
figurehead containing intricately carved
and painted tribal crests.
"The Wiwekae," once said the late
Chief William Assu of the Cape Mudge
Band of the Kwakiud Nation, "had the
finest war canoes; their bottoms smoothed
and polished like stiU water. Only the
strongest men were trained as canoemen,
and they had their own distinctive paddle
beat that enabled them to drive the canoe
all night without rest ..."
Decades ago it took months to carve
and paint a huge totem pole, and the only
tools available were stone axes, hammers
and mauls made of igneous rock, wedges,
and chisels made of stone or slate. One
skilled carver would be in charge of the
project with several helpers.
After the arrival of the white man,
poles were fashioned much more effi-
cientiy and expertly with white man's
tools. Paints used on the poles were
traditionally derived from coloured natural minerals and oxides mixed with fish
oil. These paints were, on occasion, exchanged with other tribes. They also had
finer paints which were applied lo the
face for ceremonial dancing and for warfare.
Totem poles were generally carved
out of doors in summer and under cover
in winter. Most were carved out of red
cedar logs. The carving of ceremonial
masks, however, was a different matter.
These belonged to a higher category and
had to be kept secret.
One of the popular crests on a chiefs
pole was the whale. This indicated that
the owner was a personage of high
standing. No other tribe, it was believed,
could harm him because of the immense
strength of the great sea mammal. At the
top of the pole was the legendary bird
"Hah-hak" which was reputed to have
been the daughter of the great raven, the
"Creator of the World."
Leonard Meyers is a long-time Vancouver
resident and researcher. Tbe material for tbis
article was obtained at tbe Royal British Columbia Museum and front tbe writing of
Mildred VaUey Thornton.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Tbe Kwakiutl and other coastal tribes carved huge sleek dugout
canoes from massive cedar trees. Photo courtesy ot B.C Archives and Records Service
Kwakiutl bouse posts in front of tbe chiefs bouse, Alert Bay,
B.C, 1907. Photo courtesy ofBritBh Columbia Archives and Records Service K2023B
Kwakiutl masked dancers performing around tbe turn ofthe century.
Photo courtesy of B C Ardwes and Records Service #74499
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Two Pioneer Women
by Zara MitcheU
Esther McKinney Crawford and her
daughter Isabella Crawford Magee were
two pioneer women in Upper Canada
and in British Columbia in the nineteenth
century. I am their great, great, great
granddaughter and great, great granddaughter, respectively, through my maternal line. Their way of life was similar to
that of many other frontier wives and
mothers and they experienced many of
the same hardships other women did,
both in Canada and the United States.
Their lives are significant because they
were among the early settlers in both
Upper Canada and British Columbia and
it is in this way that they actively contributed
to the social world around them.
Esther McKinney Crawford was born
in 1802 in Northern Ireland. She and her
family immigrated to Upper Canada when
she was a young girl — probably about
eight or ten years old. She met and
married George Crawford in 1822 at the
age of twenty in Halton County, Upper
Canada. Halton County is located near
what today is the city of Toronto, Ontario.
George, nine years her senior, had recentiy
emigrated from County Antrim, Northern
Ireland, with his mother and eight sisters.
Both he and Esther's father preempted
land to farm in Halton County among
other pioneers, many from the same part
of Northern Ireland. At the time it was
common for whole clans or villages to
emigrate and then to settle near one
another in the New World. After their
marriage, Esther and George settied in a
small log house and began to farm one
hundred and fifty acres of land. At this
time they also started their family.
There were several reasons to move
to the New World at this time. One reason
the families came to Upper Canada was
because of the War of 1812 between the
United States and British settlers in Upper
Canada. The British government wanted
setders who were loyal to the British
government in the southern part of what
is now Ontario. The government of Britain also encouraged emigration for two
reasons. One, to relieve the population
pressure in Europe at this time and, two,
to prevent the takeover of land by the
United States. For a deposit of approximately £16 , men of "good character"
could acquire transportation, a few supplies, and land in Upper Canada. Because
of this opportunity, many people, including George Crawford and Esther
McKinney's family, took advantage ofthe
chance to start a new life in a new
country, far removed from the poverty
and overcrowding of the Old Country.
In the early nineteenth century, especially on the frontiers, everything the
family used had to be made by the family
as stores were few and far between,
usually located a day's ride (on horseback)
or more away. "The average farm
household had to be largely self-contained, both in the field and in the
house. "Daumont' 82 Everything from the
clothes the family wore to the house they
lived in was made by them. The manufacture of all these goods was often a
lengthy, time-consuming process. For
example, wool for clothing first had to be
shorn from the sheep, then carded, then
spun into yarn. After that, if it was desired
to dye the cloth, roots, plants and flowers
to make the dye had to be gathered.
Finally, the yarn was dyed and then
woven into cloth. It was only after this
time-consuming process that the farm
wife was ready to begin making clothes
and also bed linens, woollen blankets
and sometimes rugs to cover the floor, as
it was often only dirt or rough boards.
This process, in addition to her other
duties both inside and outside the house,
such as cooking, cleaning, sewing and
gardening, took up most of her time.
Although the management of the
farm was done mainly by the farmer's
family, there was also a lot of cooperation
among members of the surrounding
communities when a house or barn had
to be built. These gatherings became
known as "bees." One early pioneer
woman describes a bee as "those friendly
meetings of neighbours who assemble at
your summons to raise the walls of your
house, shanty or barn."Trai11'53 Bees were
an effort to help another pioneer get a
start in the New World but they were also
a time to socialize. After the work was
done people sat around and ate, drank
and danced. For the young people of the
community it was a time to get to know
one another and for-the children it was a
time to play together. For all members of
the community it was a time to work hard
and to relax and socialize as well. This
was one of the few times for everyone to
interact together and to forget the hardships of life on the frontier. Strachan says
in his book A Visit to Upper Canada in
1819 about the bees: "His neighbours
assisted him in building a log house and
he married the daughter of one of them."513
This was probably the case in the marriage
of Esther McKinney and George Crawford
and also in the marriage of their daughter
Isabella Crawford to Hugh Magee almost
thirty years later, in 1850.
In Upper Canada, as in other frontier
areas, marriage and reproduction were
essential to the survival of the family.
"The productive work of girls was vital to
the rural family economy in the mid-
century. "Li8ht'26 Girls were often married
at a young age and had numerous children. Esther McKinney was married at the
age of twenty and had her first child, a
girl, in 1822. Over a period of about
eighteen years she gave birth to thirteen
children, seven girls and six boys. Only
two girls died at birth; the other eleven
children, including one set of twin boys,
survived into adulthood. In a time where
survival for adults was often difficult,
raising eleven children through the perils
of childhood was no small task. "The
death of young mothers in childbirth was
a tragically common occurrence in the
late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries.
So, too, was the death of newborn
infants. "^^ 133 Esther's life from age
twenty on was a cycle of childbearing
and raising children, in addition to
cooking, cleaning and manufacturing
items for daily use. Esther had been
taught how to run a household by her
mother and over time she passed this
knowledge on to her daughters as well.
Esther McKinney and her family were
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 farmers. They owned a one-hundred-
and-fifty-acre farm and grew a variety of
things. The grains grown in Upper Canada
during the early nineteenth century included Indian corn, oats, buckwheat, rye
and barley. In addition to those, other
common crops included potatoes, peas
and beans. Most farms had smaller gardens, as well as some orchards with
apple, cherry and often peach trees. It is
likely that Esther and George Crawford
also possessed these things on their farm.
Most of the farmers in Upper Canada at
this time sold only what they could not
consume. With a family of thirteen, most
of what was produced was probably
cooked or baked or preserved for the
winter by Esther and one or more of her
In the United States during the 1820s
and 1830s a new type of family emerged.
This change occurred in Canada as well,
usually in urban as opposed to rural areas
though. Still, the ideas about the importance of domesticity and the Cult of True
Womanhood would have affected Esther's
life somewhat. Godey's Ladies Book, a
manual for the middle class housewife,
was published and widely read both in
the urban and rural areas of Upper Canada.
In addition to these movements that
direcdy affected women's roles, the religious revivals sweeping through the
United States also occurred in Upper
Canada. These movements must have
had an impact on Esther's life as well as
the lives of her children as many family
stories still emphasize the importance of
religion. Religion played an important
part in pioneers' lives before the revivals
and continued, probably with even greater
importance, after.
The church meetings were an important aspect for socialization, for entertainment, and for expressing one's
belief and faith in God. Although these
church meetings did not take the place of
the bees, they did become another important facet of pioneer life. With these
revivals came the temperance movement
which did change the way people would
relax after the bees, which had formerly
been characterized by heavy drinking by
men and some indulgence by women.
These movements altered the social way
of life for women and men living in both
rural and urban areas.
Esther and George Crawford were
listed in the Canadian census of 1861. At
this time they were living in a one-storey
frame house on three-quarters of an acre.
Among their assets was a cow valued at
$20. The entire estate was listed as worth
$350. Previous to this census, on January
16, 1854, the Crawford farm was transferred to Esther and George's son, James.
The conditions of this transfer included a
mortgage of £75 and a yearly annuity for
George and Esther of £37. Soon after the
census of 1861 Esther and George went
to live with their daughter Phoebe and
her husband and five children in Peel
County, just north of what is now
Brampton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto.
During her life, with the assistance of her
husband George, Esther raised eleven
children, who in turn raised more than
seventy grandchildren. After their deaths
sometime in the late 1860s, their memory
lived on, as did stories of farming in the
old days. Esther and George's children
may have scattered across Canada but
they passed on to future generations the
values, beliefs and the strong Irish heritage
that had been given to them by their
parents. Social patterns were continuing.
Esther's daughter Isabella Crawford
was born in Halton County in 1833, the
tenth child in a family of eleven. Isabella
was taught how to run a house and how
to farm, knowledge that would be useful
to her later in life. As a child she performed
many of the tasks her mother had performed as a child, including spinning,
chores in the garden as well as chores
around the house. As children grew older
they were given tasks with more responsibility.
When she was about sixteen or
seventeen, Isabella attended a bee and
there she met an Irishman ten years her
senior named Hugh Magee. Magee had
just emigrated from County Antrim —■
where Isabella's relatives were from—to
Halton County in southern Ontario. Soon
after first meeting, Isabella Crawford and
Hugh Magee were married; the year was
1850 and Isabella was only seventeen
years of age. Within two years of their
marriage, Isabella and Hugh had their
first child, Eliza Jane. In 1854 and 1856
and in 1858 three sons followed.
During the first years of their marriage
the Magees had begun fanning not too far
from Isabella's parents. No doubt they
had a small log house and a couple of
hundred acres of land. As many other
young couples, especially in the eastern
parts of the United States, could not find
large tracts of land to farm anywhere but
out west, Isabella and Hugh were lucky
to have the land that they did. The
location of their farm probably helped
make the transition from the role of
daughter to the one of wife that much
easier for Isabella as she still had family
nearby to turn to for help when questions
or problems arose. Many young American women during the nineteenth century
were not so lucky. Often they were
forced to migrate to urban areas to support themselves because, unlike Isabella
and Hugh, land was simply not available.
Around 1858 the Magees gave up
farming in Halton County and decided,
like many other young people, to try their
luck in the west. They packed their
personal belongings and moved south to
Boston, Massachusetts, for a year to arrange for transportation to western
Canada. To get from Boston to California,
the Magees took a ship to Panama — a
trip close to one thousand miles — and
from there they journeyed by train over
the Isthmus of Panama. Their journey
was not yet complete as they still had to
travel again by boat to San Francisco.
Upon arrival there it was discovered that
the majority of their personal belongings
had been stolen en route. After arriving in
San Francisco, the Magee family again
boarded a boat and sailed to Vancouver
Island and from there on to New Westminster, British Columbia. This long
journey took almost a year to complete
because the railroad did not yet run to
western Canada. In the United States
many people had started the journey
west in covered wagons only a few years
earlier. It must have been difficult to
travel so far from family and friends to an
unknown place, especially with four
children under the age of ten! But it was
not uncommon as there are many stories
of courageous women, both in the United
States and Canada, making a life for
themselves and their families on land that
was far removed from "civilization."
In British Columbia, Hugh Magee
preempted land in the district of New
Westminster in the early 1860s and he
and Isabella attempted to farm there for
almost a year. They soon found that the
land was too much of a bog to farm and
they were forced to look elsewhere. In
1867 Hugh Magee again preempted land,
this time near the mouth of the Fraser
River, five miles to the west. At this time
the Magees purchased one hundred and
ninety-one acres for the sum of $1 an
B.C. Historical News • Winter 1993-94 acre. A Crown grant in the year of 1889
finally conveyed ownership of this
property to the Magees (after they had
been working on it for over twenty-five
years). A copy of this can still be found on
record in New Westminster at the District
of Land Registry for British Columbia.
After moving across the country
Isabella would finally settle in one place
and continue the task of raising her ever-
expanding family. In 1861 another son,
James Douglas, was born to the Magees.
Isabella was now twenty-eight and the
mother of five children. Between 1861
and 1868 Isabella gave birth to three
daughters. One, and possibly two, died at
birth. In 1868, according to family legend,
Mary Caroline Magee was born in a canoe
on the Fraser River, somewhere between
New Westminster and the Magee family
farm. The Magee family was rapidly expanding.
It has been said that in "the predominantly agricultural, hunting and
fishing communities the wife's reproductive and productive roles, with their
sorrows and rewards, were the basic
sources of her identity and gave definition to her daily life."u8ht-1M This statement can definitely be applied to Isabella
Magee's life. In the 1860s western Canada
was still very much a frontier place with
many men looking for gold and few
women to provide stability to the community. The Magee family was one ofthe
first families to settle and begin to farm in
the southern part of British Columbia,
thus Isabella faced many of the problems
that her mother had thirty years earlier.
Light says in Pioneer and Gentlewomen
of British North America that "the arrival
of white women quickly altered the class
and racial structure of western British
North America both on the plains and on
the coast. "3 This is just one example of the
social change that happened both in the
United States and Canada every time a
new area was setded by families as opposed to just men.
The migration west occurred simultaneously in both the United States and in
Canada in the mid-nineteenth century. It
signalled the desire of people to own
more land and to make a new beginning.
"The land hunger that lured migrants to
unpopulated regions was hardly new,
but it now swept them over longer
distances."Woloch' 256 This hunger happened to many people. As the populations
grew, land became more scarce and the
sons and daughters of farmers had to
look elsewhere to make a living. For
some girls this meant migrating to the
cities to get work as domestics or in
factories. For others it meant moving
halfway across the country by covered
wagon to start again. A Canadian census
done in 1871 lists British Columbia as
having a population of 10,586.Macoun'101
By 1881 the population had mushroomed
to 49,459. Of this number, 10,439 were
families and 31,797 were children or
unmarried adults. It is also interesting
that along with the results of these censuses, Macoun lists the numbers of Irish
immigrants in British Columbia during
the 1860s as 3,172. Isabella and her
husband Hugh and their children were
no doubt among these numbers.
From the early 1860s until her death
in 1899, Isabella and Hugh fanned their
land and raised thirteen children in all.
She gave birth to fifteen children at intervals of approximately two years from
the time she was nineteen until she was
about forty-seven. She was pregnant or
with an infant for more than thirty years
of her adult life. Of these fifteen children,
only two died at birth or during their
childhood. One reason for the survival of
the children could have been the increased
practice of smallpox vaccinations that
became available in the 1860s in British
Columbia. Isabella and her daughters
probably did many of the same things she
had done with her mother growing up in
Halton County. Like her mother, Isabella
was a pioneer woman, a wife, and she
was a mother to a large brood of children.
Also like her mother, Isabella was
responsible for the production of just
about everything used by her family as
British Columbia was still a sparsely
populated area. Although the Magee farm
was located some distance from an urban
centre, rough roads were built by Hugh
Magee, his sons and his neighbours,
enabling the family to have some degree
of mobility. Also, travelling by boat between New Westminster and the farm
was another way that was used more
frequendy. News about what was happening in British Columbia, the rest of
Canada and Europe was available in
larger urban centres such as New Westminster or, if it was too difficult to get to
these centres, small churches that were
scattered throughout British Columbia
often supplied news to the people far
removed from them. Gradually, though,
with the coming ofthe railroad, it became
easier to keep in touch with what was
happening in the rest of the world. The
advances in transportation brought social
change to rural areas and helped transport people and goods to areas formerly
uninhabited and isolated.
Church played an important part in
the Magees' lives for both social and
emotional reasons. The North Arm
Methodist Church was located one mile
from the Magee farm, easily accessible by
boat. For many pioneer women a belief
in God guided them through the hardships
of frontier life and provided some solace
for the loneliness that so many of them
felt. With a husband who worked outside
for most of the day, children who were
still small and neighbours who were
miles away, the life of a young pioneer
wife must have been fairly solitary. Thus,
church on Sunday mornings provided an
opportunity for a farm wife to socialize
with other adults. It also afforded young
people of an area the opportunity to meet
and interact with one another. According
to family stories, Isabella Magee looked
forward to Sundays.
When the Magee girls were not busy
spinning or performing other household
and garden tasks, they cared for younger
siblings and several worked outside the
home as schoolteachers. The Magee farm
was profitable enough in the 1880s that
the only other possible occupation for
young women, domestic service, was not
considered. British Columbia was fairly
sparsely populated and, therefore, it is
unlikely that there was even any factory
work available for young women. Those
who worked as schoolteachers did so for
a couple of years before they married and
formed homes of their own. It was generally assumed that all the daughters of
Isabella would eventually marry and have
children of their own. Thus, like Isabella,
they were taught all the intricacies of the
management of the household. "Education for most girls in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries was largely a domestic affair ... the household arts were
the main curriculum. "Li8ht' 6i Children,
especially girls, were an extremely valuable source of free labour that could help
make the difference between just surviving and making a profit. The Magee
family farm actively contributed to the
economic world in which they lived and
the family members contributed to the
social world.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 In the 1880s ideas from the women's
rights movement began to trickle into
British Columbia. These ideas about
women's roles within society as a whole
gradually began to change to the point
that "in 1899 women almost received the
vote»Creese, 57 jn British Columbia. Although
the ideas were present and beliefs were
beginning to change, women suffragists
still had a long way to go. Certainly their
goals were not realized within Isabella
Magee's lifetime.
The nineteenth century was a period
of time in which women's lives reflected
their active contribution to the continuity
and change of the social world which
they inhabited. Esther McKinney Crawford
and her daughter Isabella Crawford Magee
were typical women of the nineteenth
century. Both women lived and worked
on a farm all of their adult lives. In
addition- to the work of maintaining a
house and farm, they both bore and
raised many children in the Christian
faith. They were typical of many young
pioneer women who had the strength
and courage to go to distant lands to
make a new and hopefully better life for
their families. These and other pioneer
women richly deserve recognition in history.
Zara MitcbeUwrote this paper while a student
at tbe University of Puget Sound in Tacoma,
Washington. Her major is European History,
with additional interest in Women's Studies.
Primary Sources:
J.F.C. Chataway, grandmother
H.P. Mitchell, mother
Gerry Timleck, grandmother's cousin
District of land Registry Records, B.C.
City Archives, Vancouver, B.C.
Secondary Sources:
Creese, Gillian. British Columbia Reconsidered. Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1992.
This book has numerous essays about women. The one I
looked at was written by Gillian Creese about pioneer
women in British Columbia in the late nineteenth century.
It was very helpful because it gave me more of an idea
about what life was like in B.C. at that time.
Daumont, Christine. Upper Canada Village. Ontario: Mika
Publishing Co., 1990.
This book looks at what life was like in Upper Canada in
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to text,
there are numerous photographs of a village that has been
reconstructed to resemble a village from that time period.
Fredrickson, Olive. The Silence ofthe North. New York:
Warner Books, 1973.
This book is the true story of a pioneer woman's life in an
isolated part of Canada. I used this more for supplementary
material, not major ideas in writing my family history.
Gosnell, R.E. The Year Book of British Columbia. Victoria,
B.C.: Authority Legislative Assembly, 1911.
This book is a manual of provincial information. It gives
brief summaries of the different parts of British Columbia
— their histories, economic statuses, population, etc. The
information provided was useful in relating to my family's
Gullllet, Edwin C. Pioneer Days in Upper Canada. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 1933.
This book provided interesting and useful information
about many different facets of life In Upper Canada. It is
very detailed and the information was helpful in formulating
ideas about life during that time.
Hedges, James B. Building the Canadian West. New York:
MacMillan Co., 1939.
This book is a study of the Canadian Pacific Railroad as a
colonizer In the Canadian West. It discusses the history of
the area and many other facets of life that related to my
Herrington, W.S. PioneerLifeAmong tbeLoyalists in Uppper
Canada. Toronto: MacMillan Co., 1925.
This book had valuable information about the way life was
in Upper Canada. This information covered before, during
and after the time that my family settled there.
Hollings, Stanley A. TbeAwakening.TototAo: HollingPress,
This document discusses the history of Upper Canada to a
small degree but the majority of it is a history of the
Crawford clan, of which my great, great, great grandmother
was a member. I used this work a great deal in getting
background information for this paper.
Houston, Cecil J. "Irish Immigrants to Canada in the 19th
Century." Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.
This article discusses the reasons for Irish immigration to
Canada. It was helpful because it listed possible reasons for
immigration and these helped me understand better the
reasons my family immigrated.
Ught, Beth. Pioneer and Gentlewomen of British North
America 1713-1867. Toronto: New HQgtown Press, 1980.
This book was invaluable to me as a source. The entire
focus of the book was pioneer women in Canada in the
areas and time periods I was studying.
Macounjohn. Manitoba and tbe Great Northwest. London:
Thomas C. Jack, 1883.
This book discussed the experiences of actual settlers and
the history from 1821 forward. It was helpful for background
information. Information on censuses from 1861,1871 and
1881 were also helpful and are cited within the paper.
Morton, W.L. Manitoba: A History. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press: 1957.
This book has a section on the history of Ontario as well
as sections on fanning. A useful source for reference,
Strachanjames. A Visit ofthe Province of Upper Canada in
1819. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1968.
This book provided background information on Upper
Canada as well as one woman's letters to friends and family
in England about settling in the "new" country. Very helpful
in relation to women's feelings, experiences, ideas, etc.
Traill, Catherine Parr. The Backwoods of Canada. Toronto:
McClelland and Stewart, 1966.
This is another book about women's experiences settling
in Canada. It was also a valuable source.
Woloch, ed. Early American Women. California: Wadsworth
Publishing Co., 1992.
I looked at the section on frontier life as well as early
readings and related it to my subject.
North Arm Methodist Cburcb, as drawn by
Vancouver city archivist J.S. Matthews in 1934.
(M)   EbuRne.~B.C_
V»vtT rough. nnH tuobablvnoti'aiirctcoTieepTioTi.
o p ft it chinch,  ffovtlfmr srat/s " A hour v/hal" it
looKcd HKe.'
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 The Cascara Bark Collectors
by K.W. Broderick
The California buckthorn tree is
known locally as the cascara, which means
"bark" in Spanish, and its bark was, years
ago, collected, dried and sold to vendors
of natural remedies to be used as a
Over twenty years ago we built a
house on a steeply slanted rock above the
Indian Arm, a fjord near Vancouver. After
the house was finished I explored the
huge lot fully, at the bottom of which was
a fissure in the granite. This fissure narrowed as it approached the sea until it
was barely wide enough for me to force
my way through. Farther up it was lined
with cascara trees and, as I wriggled
around devil's club and through ferns
towards them, I came to the stump of a
large cedar tree that may have been felled
in the 1890s. It completely blocked the
narrow cleft through which I was
squeezing myself and swelled to about
four feet iri diameter where it rose above
the confining rock. The bark had been
ripped off many decades ago and had, at
one time, been laid across the fissure in
such a way that it roofed over a portion
of it, forming a shelter of sorts. This
brought me up short.
Memories of my youth came in vivid
detail. They were of the "Dirty Thirties"
and of my existence on a stump ranch
near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
The climate there was harsh and the
growing season short but, unlike the
dried-out prairies, or "Dust Bowl" as they
were known in that period of drought,
we could raise a crop and have a vegetable
garden. So, although we existed, there
was litde or no cash about, and for a
teenager a bit of spending money is
My friend, Emil Lachance, was the
most resdess of all of us. Perhaps it was
in his blood, being descended from the
"Hommes du pays Haut," and, being the
strongest man I have ever known, able to
take care of himself in any situation. He,
perhaps being too hot-blooded for the
farmers thereabout, had not been able to
find work of any kind that spring and
had, one day, simply vanished. Those
were the days when every train going
west carried men huddled on the running
boards of each boxcar. They were mainly
young men, but there were some
greybeards. They suffered through the
days and nights, often in the extreme
cold, as they were transported to the
better land to the west. Of course, every
train going east carried the mirror image
of those men, but they were returning
from that "better land" in dull despair or
with renewed hope ofthe "better land" to
the east. Emil had hopped a freight going
That winter he appeared at a dance
and we, happily, renewed our friendship.
He had wandered about after he had left
in the spring and had found himself in
Calgary. Seeing a freight train leaving for
the west with its usual load of "bums," he
had, as mentioned, upon a sudden impulse, hopped aboard.
It was early summer, the weather
was good and the trip was uneventful. He
had a few, very few, dollars in his pocket.
After arriving in Vancouver, he had slept
on the ground under whatever shelter he
could find and had scrounged food in any
way that he could. In other words, he had
lived a standard existence for a young
man in those times when no work could
be found anywhere.
It was the first time he had been to
the ocean and everything fascinated him.
He spent hours each day sitting on a small
dock and watching the goings-on, the
freighters, the tugs and ships bound for
far places.
One day, while doing so, he noticed
a rowboat coming from the direction of
what he later learned was the Indian Arm.
He casually watched it. It was being
rowed by someone obviously unskilled
in the handling of a rowboat. It wove
slowly forward and when it was close, he
saw that it was filled to the point of
swamping with bags full of some rough
material and a few battered items of
camping gear. It bumped the float below
the dock and a young man, unshaven,
ragged and dirty, got out and tied up. My
friend went down and helped him unload the bags and carry them up to the
dock. They sat in the sunshine and talked.
The owner of the rowboat had, a few
months before, been in the same position
as Emil was then. He could not find work
and was desperately husbanding the
dollars he had saved from his last logging
job. Somewhere he had heard about the
cascara bark collectors and had put together his outfit. Although the summer
was less than half gone, he had harvested
all his little rowboat would hold. When
he could stand the life of a hermit no
longer, he had loaded the boat and
headed for Vancouver. Now here he was,
eager to cash in his bark at the nearby
dealer's and catch a tram to the skid road
area where he would take a hotel room,
clean up, and enjoy the pleasures of
Vancouver for a few days. Then he would
jump an eastbound freight and return to
the prairie town that was his home.
They went together to the dealer
where the young man received a fair wad
of cash. Emil bought the rowboat and
camping gear for a few dollars and received detailed instructions as to the
location of the cascara groves and the
method of harvesting and preparing the
bark. The necessity for the huge cedar
stump was explained: it was the standard
home of the bark collectors.
They parted like the best of buddies
and my friend visited a corner store
nearby and bought, as he had been
instructed to do, a huge sack of beans, a
slab of bacon, and a few other necessities. Without a penny left in his pocket, he
returned to the rowboat, loaded his purchases and stepped, for the first time in
his life, into a rowboat and began fumbling with the oars. His progress was
more erratic even than the previous
owner's had been, but he soon had the
boat going in the direction from which he
had first seen it approaching. That night
he slept on a beach somewhere up the
Indian Arm, and began his search for a
cascara grove the next morning.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Many of the best groves had been cut
down and harvested. Many others were
occupied by ragged, whiskery hermits
who, when they saw his rowboat beach
below them, came to greet him with a
razor-sharp double-bitted axe, held ready
to defend their holdings. He found several uncut and undefended groves but
none had the required cedar stump.
Before dark he found what he wanted:
a canyon with a stream running through
it, a cascara grove on the slopes, and a
huge old cedar stump somewhere above.
He unloaded his rowboat and dragged it
ashore. Climbing up the canyon to the
stump, he made vertical slashes, about
four feet apart, in its bark with his axe.
Over the decades, the bark had loosened
and he pulled away each "shingle" and
laid it aside. The stump, eight feet in
diameter at its swollen butt, gave him six
four-foot shingles, each eight feet high.
These he placed about the stump, reversing every other one butt to top, at
such an angle from the stump that he had
a space about six feet high at its highest
and six feet wide at its widest and which
was nearly twenty feet in length around
the stump, as the shingles were overlapped
to keep out the rain. This was his more-
than-adequate living quarters and dry
storage for his bark. Next he dug the fire
pit for his bean pot and lit a good fire in
it. The fire would never be allowed to go
out completely and, when it was a mass
of red coals, would cook his constant diet
of beans and bacon. The pot was covered
with ashes and a few inches of earth
when it was cooking.
The next day he was hard at work,
cutting trees and peeling every square
inch of bark from the trunk, branches and
twigs. The bark was spread in the sun to
dry. His store of bark increased and,
during rainy periods, filled the shelter so
that he had to sleep outside under the
tarpaulin that had come with the outfit.
As soon as the bark was perfectly dry, he
broke it up into small pieces and bagged
it, storing the full bags under bark ripped
from other, smaller stumps.
He worked from dawn until it was
too dark to see what he was doing. Meals
were rough and quick. Days, weeks,
months passed in a daze of hard work,
and the store of dry cascara bark piled up
until he had far more than he could take
to town in one load with the rowboat.
Obsessed by his efforts which, to him,
were producing a treasure trove, he
worked until every cascara tree in the
area had been cut and peeled. He took
the sacks of dry bark up the gully and hid
them in safe, dry places. Autumn had
come and the rainy season, but the grove
was stripped anyway. He loaded the
rowboat with sacks, not too heavily at
first, and practiced when the waters were
calm and loaded more sacks until he was
confident. He set out for Vancouver. The
trip was uneventful. He returned, without
incident, to the dock where he had purchased the rowboat, found the cascara
dealer, and carried load after load of
sacks up to him and was paid. He returned
to his cache up the Indian Arm and took
out other loads until he had sold his entire
He abandoned the rowboat and his
gear. With a roll of bills in his pocket, he
walked towards the railway tracks. Dirty,
hungry for good food and companionship,
he looked longingly at the skid road area
in the distance and wavered. He knew
what could happen to his roll of bills in
the bars of that area. A freight train moved
slowly along the tracks nearby, going
east. That was what it took to make his
decision: he jumped aboard and returned
with his money intact.
We looked at each other and he, in
the friendly way he had, grabbed me by
the belt and lifted me high in the air with
one hand. Then he dropped me and,
laughing, took a wad of bills from his
pocket and riffled them. For the first time
in my life I saw, amongst the ones and
twos, a fifty-dollar bill. "I'm treating," he
said. "Let's go and find the bootlegger
and I'll buy a jar of moonshine."
Mr. Broderick is a retired accountant now
living in North Vancouver. His father worked
for tbe CPR and tbe family moved frequently,
as bos tbe writer in bis adult years.
is available in
Back volumes
of this publication
are available in
(film or fiche).
For further
Canada's Information
20 Victoria Street,-
Toronto,Ontario M5C2N8
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Leone Caetani: World Traveller Who
Came to Vernon
by Sveva Caetani
In the year 1921 Canada became the
newest enterprise of an adventurous spirit:
a renowned scholar, the scion of one of
Europe's most ancient houses, and yet a
member of a reformist party dedicated to
improving the lot of the working man and
the peasant. This mixture, which was
extraordinary even in the eyes of his
contemporaries, included a Utopian
dreamer for whom Canada, and especially
British Columbia, was the ultimate haven.
This man was my father, Leone
Caetani, bom in 1869 in Rome, Italy, and
therefore while that city was still part of
the Papal States, for it was only in 1872
that Italy became the independent and
united country for which Garibaldi had
fought, and in which Garibaldi's friend,
my great-grandfather Michelangelo
Caetani, had always believed and for
which he, too, had worked. The dreamer
in my father was perhaps a heritage from
his Polish great-grandfather, Count
Rzewuski, who left his home in Poland to
spend the close of his life in the Near East
among the Arabs. My father's mother,
however, was an Englishwoman, Ada
Wilbraham, and it was his English blood,
I feel sure, that made him feel that only
life in a country run on the British principles of freedom of thought and conscience could offer him a real home.
I have been asked to write a portrait
of this exceptional being. My mother and
I accompanied him on that arrival in
1921. I was bom in Rome in 1917 and
grew up listening to the stories of his
travels in the Near East, in India and
Persia and North Africa; of his campaigns
in Italian politics as a Radical Socialist;
and of his service in the First World War
as an artillery officer in the Italian army in
the Dolomites.
. As a young man, my father decided
to become an Oriental scholar, concentrating his studies on the Islamic religion,
culture and history. He learned complete
familiarity with at least eleven languages
and could speak Arabic like an Arab. Six
foot, four inches tall, slim, agile and
A family portrait taken in Paris in 1921 Just prior to sailing to Canada. Leone
with bis wife Ophelia and little Sveva.
strong, he travelled alone and often at
great danger to himself over Syria, Turkey, Palestine and Persia, as well as North
Africa. Those were the days of Turkish
rule and often of barbaric customs unchanged since the Middle Ages.
My father's life work was a twelve-
volume history ofthe Mohammedan world
entided The Annals of Islam. In the estimation of Stephen Runciman, the premier
British medieval scholar, my father's
history of Mohammed is the best ever
written. I have also been told that The
Annalsare now a standard text at Harvard
University. For his historical labours, my
father was elected a member of the oldest
and one ofthe most prestigious academies
in Europe, the Accademia dei Lincei (the
Academy of the Lynxes). Since he was an
active and incorruptible anti-Fascist, his
membership in the Accademia later infuriated Fascist officialdom.
He also went to India as aide-decamp to the Count of Turin, the cousin of
the king of Italy, and for the first time met
at the viceroy's palace an imperial guard
—the Sikhs—consisting of men all taller
than himself. Besides hunting the usual
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 tigers, riding on elephants and watching
a polo game played by Pathans in the
original manner with a dead calf instead
of mallet and ball, he visited Fahtepur
Sikri, the city abandoned by Akbar, where
he fell in love with the style of architecture, open on all sides to the winds. He
decided there and then that if he was ever
to build himself a home of his own, he
would demand an adaptation of that style
from his architect.
His more conservative brothers were
content to live in various parts of the
family palace and in more conventional
dwellings. The Caetanis were then still
landlords of territory extending more
than fifty miles south of Rome, including
casdes such as Sermoneta, of which my
father was the duke; towns, villages and
fortified towers, all dating from the Middle Ages and all surrounded by the Pontine
Marshes which were still malarial and
In the 1890s there also began his
political career as a member ofthe Radical
Socialist Party, which was led by Leonide
Bissolati, one of the noblest men my
father ever knew and who became prime
minister of Italy during the First World
War. The party was attempting to reform
the Italian social system, allowing the
working classes the kind of freedoms and
rights which are now a commonplace
here in Canada, such as the right to strike,
to have decent minimum wages, medical
care and education, as well as a political
voice in their own futures. My father even
persuaded his father to donate land to the
sharecroppers so that they might at last
have some farms of their own.
My father had been to British Columbia in 1890 on a hunting trip with an
Italian friend, Count Schiebler, and had
spent several months in the Kootenays,
spellbound by the beauty of the country,
the mountains, the unadulterated freshness, and the directness and simplicity of
the life there. With the arrival of Mussolini
and Fascism, which "to my father's great
horror was welcomed by the Italian king,
he felt that Italy was heading for the kind
of repression he abominated. Though his
only personal contact with Mussolini was
in acting as Gaetano Salvemini's second
in the latter's duel with the future duce, in
which Mussolini was wounded, he knew
he would find existence under Fascism to
be intolerable. Life in Canada therefore
promised a freedom that was to him as
vital as the air he breathed.
Before the advent of Fascism, my
father had already started his dream house
in Rome, but it was not to be the eyrie of
which he had dreamed. Twice when we
went back to Italy for a short period, each
time to see relatives and to attend to
financial matters, we stayed briefly in this
towering building on the highest hill in
Rome. It is now the headquarters for the
religious order of Barnabiti monks.
His actual choice of Vernon as his
home makes a good story in itself. My
father was an impulsive person and,
having decided on British Columbia, had
only to find the right town. He asked
advice of his English relatives in London
and then of friends at the Atheneum Club,
to which he belonged, and the outcome
was a suggestion that he go to the
Okanagan Valley to become one of the
"gendeman farmers" the Canadian government of the time was encouraging to
settle in B.C. My father was then shown
a map ofthe Okanagan and laid his finger
at random on its mid-point, Vernon. He
thereupon got the tickets for himself, my
mother and me, plus my mother's Danish
secretary, Miss Juul, and an Italian servant. Thomas Cook and Sons also provided
him with the name ofthe real estate agent
in Vemon, Cossitt, Lloyd and Beatty.
My father telegraphed requesting to
be met at the station by a representative
of this firm, that he might inspect whatever large homes were available. He also
asked to be met by a delivery wagon to
* ~
■      £
^aK  !   i5
, ~ - X
■ ■,    '  ■  v.
•r"" xx ?£ci
Mrs. Caetani, Sveva and Miss Juul at Kalamalka Lake, 1925.
carry the more than thirty pieces of luggage without which my mother never
travelled. The drayman was Mr. Joe
Harwood himself, the future chairman of
the Vernon School Board, with his two
beloved horses. It was Mr. Beatty who
showed my parents two houses before
my mother gave the nod to the third,
which I now still occupy. My mother was
ready to travel 8,000 miles into strange
lands unquestioningly, but when it came
to the home she had the final word.
My father bought the house then and
there, a large family home with an ample
garden and the simplicity and ease he
really treasured. By the time he came to
Canada, he had put both his politics and
his writing behind him, but not his anti-
Fascism, for he kept up a vigorous correspondence with many of those who
had fled Italy because of Fascist persecution. During the 1920s my father and I
both acquired Canadian citizenship and
since this change was registered in Italy,
we were both freed from any dual citizenship.
For my mother, it was a lonely existence. Fluent in French but not in English,
she had few with whom she could cany
on a conversation outside her own home
and she was, moreover, a shy and reserved woman, of great determination
but with none of my father's adventurous
spirit. Being thousands of miles from her
beloved Rome, and Paris, the fashionable
shops she had frequented, the theatres
and opera houses and bookshops, made
B.C. Historical News • Winter 1993-94 Mr. Caetani and "Doggie" bringing
borne firewood for tbe Pleasant
Valley mansion, 1926 or '27.
her withdraw into herself and she made
only a couple of friends in Vernon, the
only two who could speak French. After
my father's death she went into complete
In the meantime, my father bought
an orchard and worked it himself, happily. He also bought lots above the BX
district near Vernon, where he taught
himself to log trees and provided the
entire supply of cordwood needed to
heat our house until long after his death.
He revelled in wearing working clothes,
driving a small truck, handling his tools
and walking downtown every day to get
the mail, which he carried home in a
flowered bag my mother would dearly
have wished to persuade him to throw
It always seemed to my mother and
myself, and to those who loved him in
Italy, that in the midst of this innocent and
happy life it was the crudest of fates for
him to develop cancer. He whose relatives lived mostly into their nineties died
in his mid-sixties on Christmas Day, 1935.
I was then eighteen and almost overnight
became my mother's factotum in all her
dealings with the outside world. I had
been to school in Vancouver at Crofton
House and, earlier, had had English governesses to provide me with an English
upbringing. I spoke English before I
spoke Italian and while my mother, in
fear of my leaving her to get married or to
have a career, demanded my constant
attendance, she never denied me an
endless supply of books, ordered specially
from England by the crate. All my spare
time was devoted to this reading and it
was this that allowed me to survive
twenty-five years of isolation. My favourite subjects reflected my father's love of
history and both my parents' passionate
interest in literature.
After my mother's death in I960, I
had to earn my own living, which I did by
teaching both elementary and secondary
school. To this day some of my students
are still my faithful friends. I had painted
as a child and as a young woman, but I
only went back to it seriously in my fifties
and sixties, and at this advanced age
actually undertook my largest project, the
series of water-colour paintings which I
called "Recapitulation" and that celebrates
my father's and my own "worlds of the
mind." In doing these works, I felt I was
paying my own tribute to the exceptional
spirit that had always been the inspiration
of my life.
Miss Caetani Uves in tbe borne ber father
purchased in 1921. It is designated a heritage
borne although it has been subdivided into
apartments. Tbis borne is to become tbe art
centre for tbe city of Vernon, a bequest which
includes funds for maintenance ofthe bouse
and tbe one acre of ornamental garden.
t - a $1%
IA                    '  *
J        <     •'/   / \
-.:;      .--.::.     3aV
Tbe Caetani Residence on Pleasant VaUey Road in Vernon.
Pluto courtesy of Greater Vernon Museum & Archives.
TABLE    |   | 7
(Pacific Time)
Lv.-Pihtictow to  (Table 122).. V I
 Naramata '
 SummarlandO 1
 Paaehland „
 I-Waatbank...  §
Of Ar KalownaO(C) If J*
0 Wllaon j;
Oj Okanagan CawtM	
 Nahun (t
 rintr» a.
0| Sunnywald ,t
0 Ewln» T      1
 Kllllnay  i
1010 Whltaman  /
104.0 f!j} Okahmaii Lahdim....^-    |-05
108-8 Varnon O(C)  1.10
116.9 Larkln _ 12.16
123.3 ArmetronnO « 11 -55
132.0 Endarby C   11.35
137.6 Grlndrod I 11.20
142.5 Mara  11.08
155.0 Ar Sicamou* (Table 9) Ul tlO-40
BEAD UP      0
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 The Ahamina-Kishinena
by Leo Gansner
Onjuly 31,1861, Lieut. Charles Wilson
returned over South Kootenay Pass from
a brief visit to the Waterton Lakes. With
two companions, he turned southerly
from the well-beaten Indian trail to reach
Forum Lake some miles away. He climbed
1,500 feet above the lake over bare rock
to reach the height of the Rocky Mountains. On his way he looked down on
Akamina Pass, much lower in elevation
than South Kootenay Pass but "choked
up with piles of fallen timber and driftwood."
At last he stood beside the final stone
cairn marking the international boundary.
The cairn also was the most southerly
point on the future boundary between
the provinces of British Columbia and
Alberta. Wilson had spent three years as
the secretary and supply officer of the
British Boundary Commission. The
commission was headed by Capt. J.S.
Hawkins of the Royal Engineers and
consisted of Charles Wilson as well as
two astronomers, a geologist, a naturalist,
and a veterinarian who also was the
assistant naturalist.
The survey commenced at Point
Roberts in colonial British Columbia and
proceeded relentlessly over meadows,
swamps, through heavy timber, up steep
mountainsides, over wide rivers and
smaller streams until reaching its destination at the crest of the Rockies. The
survey of the boundary from the east was
not to reach the mountains until some
years later. The western survey had been
completed just before Wilson arrived at
the cairn. He was so impressed by the
view that he wrote in his diary (the
original of which is in the provincial
archives in Victoria):
The view from this point was very
fine, precipices and peaks, glaciers
and rocks all massed together in
such a glorious way that I cannot
attempt to describe it.
Other members of the commission
had been encamped below the apex of
the mountains at the Summit Camp. One
of Wilson's colleagues, veterinarian J.K.
Lord, wrote of the camp that:
It is placed in a snug nook under a
massive slaty kind of mountain;
there is litde to be seen from it save
rugged hilltops and snow. Near the
terminal point of the Boundary line
is the watershed, and it is hardly an
exaggeration to say one may sit and
smoke his pipe with one foot in the
water that finds its way into the
Adantic, whilst the other is bathed
in that flowing into the Pacific.
Wilson and members of the survey
crew were not the first whites to penetrate
this uninhabited and spectacular country.
In August 1858, Lieut. Thomas Blakiston
of the Palliser Expedition left Old Bow
Fort with three half-breed voyageurs, an
Indian hunter, saddle horses and pack
animals. He was on his way to seek a new
pass over the southern Rockies. After
eight days, his party crossed the Crowsnest
River and then encountered a well-beaten
trail used by Kootenay Indians while
travelling to and from their buffalo hunts.
Being in a new country, Blakiston began
naming peaks, mountain ranges and other
features. On reaching the height of the
Indian trail, he reported:
We were now on the watershed of
the mountains, the great axis of
Blakiston called this Kootanie Pass,
though it is now known as Middle
Kootenay Pass. Looking below, he saw a
river in a deep valley which he realized
must be the Flathead. Ascending a tributary of that river, he reached a high ridge
and followed Lodgepole Creek down to
its junction with the Wigwam River. There
he observed a mountain which he called
the North Bluff, now Mt. Broadwood,
which because of its distinctive conformation is known locally as the China
Wall. Continuing toward the Elk River, he
saw distant mountains which he called
the Steeples. Following the Elk downstream, he named a wall of mountains on
the east side of the river Galton's Range
after an English scientist. Before him
stretched the Tobacco Plains which extended into the United States where he
met a large camp of Kootenay Indians.
He learned from them of a more southerly pass which led to near Chief Mountain
on the east. Blakiston immediately decided
to recross the Rockies by this route.
Passing through the northwest corner of
today's Glacier National Park, he reached
the junction of Kishinena Creek and the
Flathead River.
Regaining British territory soon afterward, Blakiston with a party of
Kootenay Indians followed a track up the
creek. Though it was still early September, they encountered snow between
two and four feet in depth at what today
are called the Akamina Meadows. Then,
turning northward, they climbed to what
Blakiston again referred to as the watershed. Itwas the summit of South Kootenay
Pass, at an elevation of 6,900 feet, which
Blakiston called Boundary Pass. It is
seven miles north of the international
boundary. By a zigzag track he began a
steep descent and after twelve strenuous
hours stopped with the Indians on a level
patch of ground. On his way he had
noticed that:
Magnificent cliffs and cascades of
snow water falling down the narrow
gullies added motion to the grandeur
of the scene.
The party continued next day along
Red-stone Creek, subsequently called
Blakiston Brook and finally known as
Pass Creek, then emerged on the plains
and camped beside the Waterton Lakes.
Blakiston named them after an eccentric
English ornithologist. Here he found that
the boundary passed just over Chief
Mountain. It was then time for the explorer to turn northwards so as to reach
the expedition's winter quarters in Fort
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 Edmonton.
The British Boundary Commission
had access to Blakiston's report and
adopted his nomenclature, much of which
is still unchanged today.
A year later, in September 1859, Dr.
James Hector, another member of the
Palliser Expedition, having crossed the
Rockies by way of Howse Pass, continued down the Kootenay to the boundary
line, after which he arrived at the Kootenay
Indians' camp. There he received news of
a group of eight Americans who had
started over Boundary Pass en route from
Fort Benton on their way to the rich sand
bars of the Fraser River. The party's
passage over the pass was marked by the
failure of their provisions and the exhaustion of their horses. Food and fresh
horses were sent to them. This must have
been the very same party referred to by
Clara Graham in Fur and Gold in the
Kootenays. The group consisted of six
Americans and two Canadians, one of
whom was John Jessop, a school teacher,
who later became British Columbia's first
superintendent of education.
Blakiston and Wilson were members
of the well-to-do English gentry, each
being talented and well educated. In
186l two young Irishmen, less favoured
by circumstances, each with military experience as junior officers, left England
for British Columbia. They were Arthur
W. Vowell and John G. Brown. They
arrived in the Cariboo at the peak of the
gold rush. Vowell soon left for Victoria
where he later joined the civil service. At
one time he was the gold commissioner
and magistrate in the East Kootenay,
where Vowell Peak and the Vowell Glacier
bear his name.
Brown left the Cariboo after trapping
and mining for several years. By 1865 he
had become a constable at Wild Horse
Creek. Following an unexpected reduction in pay, he resigned and with four
others staked a placer claim. They sold it
to a company of Chinese and with the
proceeds set out to cross the mountains
by way of South Kootenay Pass. The
existence of this route must have become
fairly common knowledge during the
preceding four or five years. There is no
record of their travel except for their
arrival at the Kootenay Lakes. Brown was
so captivated by the surrounding peaks
and by the soft rose and green argillite
cliffs reflected in both lakes, he decided
that one day he would return to spend the
rest of his life there. Blakiston's nomenclature already had been forgotten and
the lakes, because they were frequented
by the Kootenays, were called after these
Brown's partners nicknamed him
"Kootenai" and the name stuck. Travelling in the vicinity of the South Saskatchewan River, they survived an attack
by Blackfoot Indians. Kootenai separated
from his partners and spent most of the
winter in a Metis setdement. He learned
the Cree language and continued further
east by horse-drawn sleigh. Then came a
new and exciting period of his life as a
pony express rider in the Dakota Territory. In April 1869 he was hired by the
U.S. Army to carry the mail. In the course
of his service, he and a companion were
captured by Sitting Bull and his Sioux
followers but managed to escape during
darkness. When his mail contract had
expired, Kootenai with his Indian wife
returned to Canada in 1877 over the
Whoop-up Trail. He settled beside the
Kootenay Lakes and supported himself
as a hunter, fisherman and guide.
The District of Alberta, formerly part
of the Northwest Territory, was created in
1882. As settlers arrived, large cattle
ranches, financed by English and eastern
capital, became prevalent. Kootenai
Brown was well known in the area surrounding Fort McLeod. He bred and
trained horses which he sold and was
employed from time to time by the North
West Mounted Police. He gained a
reputation as a dependable scout, guide
and packer. By 1893 he and other residents
had become concerned that campers and
holidayers were cutting down shade trees
near the lakes, leaving camp fires burning
and committing other acts of vandalism.
Wildlife, including grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and deer, were
threatened. G.M. Dawson commented:
... that the scenery at the lakes was
not equalled in grandeur in any
other part of the mountains.
Finally, in 1895, the Kootenay Forest
Reserve was established under federal
legislation and Kootenai was appointed a
fishery officer. A fiercely dedicated conservationist, he became a forest ranger in
the reserve in 1910 due, in part, to the
efforts of John Herron, MP. With increasing interest, the status of the reserve was
being reconsidered and in 1911 was
renamed Waterton Lakes National Park.
Notwithstanding the elevation to national
park status, Kootenai, now park superintendent, and his supporters were frustrated by the example of what was being
done in Glacier National Park where
"thousands of dollars are being expended,
(and) miles of good roads built."
At last, in June 1914, the park
boundaries were revised to include an
area of 423 square miles which extended
to the international boundary and became
a well-known game reserve. The extended boundaries called for a new superintendent and Kootenai's former assistant, Robert Cooper, was appointed to
take his place. Repeated illnesses brought
on Kootenai's death on July 16, 1916.
Today Waterton Lakes National Park
covers 525 square miles, being only one-
eighth the size of Glacier National Park.
Alex Stavely Hill, a wealthy English
banister and shareholder in the Oxley
Ranch Co., has left his impression of his
first meeting with Kootenai Brown:
He was ... a wild Indian-looking
fellow ... with his long dark hair
and moccasins had not much of the
European remaining about his appearance.
On September 14, 1883, Hill's party,
consisting of himself, Lord Lathom, two
servants, four saddle horses and five pack
horses, set out for Boundary Pass. At the
summit of the pass they found a saxifrage
growing among the rocks, along with
other alpine plants. On descending the
western slopes, they encountered warm
temperatures as they travelled over the
Indian trail which was litde changed
since Blakiston had followed it a quarter
of a century before. Due to the lateness of
the season, they saw few wild flowers in
bloom but found many berries. They
were greatly impressed by the height and
girth of coniferous trees and continued
on the route to the Tobacco Plains where
there was a setdement of Kootenay Indians
led by Chief Edwards.
In 1917 the Chief Superintendent of
Dominion Parks recommended that the
southeast corner of British Columbia become a national park. Pressure for the
establishment of a provincial park there
was repeated in 1927, 1930, 1938, 1962,
1974 and 1977. A large use, recreation
and enjoyment area for the public in
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 favour of the Ministry of Parks was established in 1956. It provided litde, if any,
protection. Proposals for ecological reserves made in 1970 and 1975 were
rejected by the provincial government.
In October 1985, British Columbia's
Environment Minister appointed a special advisory committee on wilderness
preservation to review land use issues in
sixteen key areas of the province. The
committee's terms of reference included
the following, to be found in appendix A
to the committee's report:
Having regard to the existing limits
on, and the best use of, the forest,
mineral, agricultural, water and fish
resources ofthe Province, which of
(16) areas or parts
thereof are of such recreational, ecological or
aesthetic importance
that they should be excluded from these uses,
taking into account existing rights and the
costs that would be incurred by the people
of British Columbia as
a result of such exclusions.
One of the committee's nineteen "study areas" was the Akamina-
Kishinena where the
committee dealt with a
proposal for a provincial
park of some 20,000 hectares. This study area lies
east of the Flathead River
extending as far as the
Alberta boundary. It is
bounded on the south by
the international boundary and on the north by
Sage Creek, a distance of
about nine miles from that
boundary. The special
advisory committee in
1986 recommended that
a class A park should be
established to include the
drainages of Starvation
and North Kintia Creeks,
including the drainage of
Akamina Creek upstream
from the junction with
Grizzly Gulch. Such a class
A park, if and when established, would
provide a large measure of protection to
the two adjoining national parks.
The main spine of the Rocky Mountains extending from South Kootenay
Pass into Glacier National Park is the
source of three great rivers which flow
into Hudson Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and
the Pacific Ocean. Late in the last century
the term Crown Jewel of the Continent
was applied to this area of glaciated
peaks and mountain steams (since abbreviated to Crown of the Continent).
The Advisory Committee recommended that as Class A Park designation
was achieved the area should be dedicated to the International Biosphere program.
The establishment of a world-wide
network of reserves known as Man and
the Biosphere includes two such reserves
in Canada, one the Mt. St. Hilaire Nature
Conservancy Center in Quebec, and the
other in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Glacier National Park in Montana has
been similarly designated. The program
is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Biosphere reserves
have no legal boundaries and their objectives of focusing on wise land use
management, education and integration
with local inhabitants are not legally
enforceable. The Waterton Biosphere
Reserve established in 1979 was superimposed on Waterton Lakes National Park.
A Chief Mountain
- 49'
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 In 1981 the park initiated a workshop
attended by park staff, university researchers, federal and provincial agencies and several local ranchers. The
result has been to form a local management committee which includes four
ranchers and two park staff, of whom the
Park Superintendent is one. Public
awareness of environmental problems
and lessons on how to deal with them
have highlighted local programs. A letter
from the Southern Interior Regional office of the Ministry of Parks states that
they are coordinating their management
policies with the adjoining WatertonLakes
and Glacier National Parks and with the
principles of the Man and the Biosphere
programs. Until a Class A Park is created
in the Akamina-Kishinena there will no
basis for seeking international designation as the Man and the Biosphere
program was envisaged by the Wilderness Advisory Committee. If and when
that designation is achieved there will be
the opportunity and impetus for wildlife
managers, hunters, foresters, biologists,
botanists, naturalists and outdoorsmen to
meet and address the area's environmental concerns. The program will be joined
to those in the contiguous National Parks
and under its umbrella research leading
to improved land management will be
In 1987 the International Joint Commission ruled against a proposed coal
mine that would have damaged the
spawning runs of bull trout into Cabin
and Howell Creeks. These streams drain
into the Flathead River from the west
almost opposite the place where Sage
Creek enters it from the east. The bull
trout is a native char of the Rockies which
inhabits Flathead Lake and is known in
British Columbia as the Dolly Varden.
Dr. Bruce McLellan is a wildlife biologist who has spent years studying the
grizzly bears on the east slope ofthe river.
He has found that they have one of the
densest populations on the continent.
Despite their tendency to forage far afield
for many miles it seems clear that there
must be an adequate supply of glacier lily
bulbs in the spring followed by grass and
other vegetation as well as small marmots. Most years there are plentiful
berries supplemented, perhaps, by
spawning trout. Dr. McLellan found that
the bears had grown accustomed to intensive logging activity and to the rumble
of logging trucks. He is apprehensive
that their tolerance to human activity will
jeopardize their survival. It is obvious
that these magnificent animals require a
wilderness which is undisturbed. Much
ofthe funding for Dr. McLellan's research
has come from the Untied States where
the grizzly is protected by the Federal
Endangered Species Act. The Americans
are anxious to bring back the grizzly to
designated areas in the northwestern states
and are hopeful that some Bridsh Columbia bears will find their way into Glacier
National Park.
Rocky Mountain wolves are on the
endangered species list in Montana. Diane
Boyd, an American wolf researcher, came
to the Canadian side of the Flathead
Valley in 1979 when there was only a
single female wolf in the area. About two
years later it was joined by a black male.
The wolves are believed to have denned
in Glacier National Park. The increase in
population has resulted in the wolves
unknowingly crossing and recrossing the
International Boundary.
Over the centuries subspecies of some
mammals and plants have developed in
the study area. The Wilderness Advisory
Committee mentioned a rare subspecies
of Mountain Goat to be found in these
mountains. A significant portion of the
northern extension of Shiras Moose is on
these slopes. Wildlife managers are seeking a separate status for these animals for
Boone and Crocket trophy records dealing
with antler measurements. The abundant
wildlife population includes cougars,
wolverines and two species of deer. There
are large populations of elk and Rocky
Mountain Bighorn sheep as well. As
winter snows deepen on both slopes of
the Crown these sheep move to lower
elevations in Waterton Lakes National
Park where they are protected. Many, can
be seen in the town of Waterton itself
appearing to be almost tame.
The vegetation of the Akamina-
Kishinena is said to be an extension ofthe
inter-mountain region of the central
northwest United States. It is believed
that the south-facing slopes below
Kishinena Ridge abound with rare wild
flowers and plants carried there over the
millennia by the south-western winds
passing over the Great Western Plains.
They are of national and even international significance. Among them are
variant subspecies of Oregon grape and
Labrador tea, as well as two subspecies of
cinquefoil. Included among the wild
flowers not found elsewhere in British
Columbia are a pygmy poppy, subspecies of saxifrage, monkey-flowers and tall
Michaelmas daisies of the aster family.
The fragility of the plants on the sub-
alpine slopes is such that any form of
resource extraction and even recreation
calls for extensive management constraints.
This recreation area is staffed from
June 15 to Labour Day each summer.
Work has been done to improve the trail
to Wall Lake, and two primary back-
country campsites (each with ten pads,
fire rings and toilets) have been created.
Now, in the fall of 1993, the 10915 hectares of Akimena-Kishinina is being
evaluated under Protected Area Strategy
reviews. It is being looked at by the East
Kootenay Round Table of C.O.R.E.
(Commission of Resources and Environment) which has decided to reconsider
this area in the southeast corner of British
Columbia for possible upgrading to a
Class A Park.
fudge Gansner loved to bike in wilderness
areas in both the East and West Kootenay.
Now retired and living in Cranbrook, be re-
searched tbe history oftbeAkamtna-Kisbinena
to augment environmental pleas for protection of this area.
1. Mapping tbe Frontier, Charles William Wilson,
edited by George Stanley, 1969, MacMillan of Canada.
2. The Wanderer,J.K. Lord, John Hayman, The Beaver,
vol. 70.06, December 1990 January 1991, The
Hudson's Bay Company, pp. 38-47.
3. The Palliser Expedition, Irene M. Spry, 1963,
MacMillan of Canada.
i.    Capt. Blakiston's Explorations in the Rocky
Mountains, 1959, American Journal of Science,
vol. 78, pp. 320-345.
5. In the Footsteps of Thomas Blakiston - 1858,
Bruce Haig, Historic Trails Society of Alberta,
6. FurandGoldin the Kootenays, Clara Graham, 1945,
Wrigley Printing.
7. Kootenai Brown, William Rodney, 1969, Gray's
Publishing Ltd.
8. Autumn WanderingsintheNorth-West,AlexStave\y
Hill, 1885, Judd & Judd, 751 Broadway.
9. The Wilderness Mosaic, Report of the Wilderness
Advisory Committee, 1986, Study Area #7,
10.   National Park&Btosphere Reserves, Bernard C. UefF,
1985, Faculty of Forestry, University of British
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 NEWS & NOTES
The B.C. Historical Federation is pleased to
announce the Affiliate Membership of the OHS.
We are very pleased to have such a large and
vibrant body join our Federation. We look forward
to meeting members from the Okanagan at our
annual conferences. The 1994 conference will be
held in Parksville/Qualicum on Vancouver Island,
April 28-   May1.
Jamie Disbrow grew up in Victoria, studied
Applied Communications at Camosun College,
then worked in television in Prince George and
Calgary. In 1987 she travelled for a year,
experiencing distant adventures. Important
souvenirs were a set of changed values and the
harsh realization that she lacked even basic
knowledge about her home country. She
resumed her television career at an Edmonton
station, but inner dissatisfaction pushed her to
plan for further education; a second job serving
cocktails made the transition possible.
Jamie Disbrow, winner ofthe
1993 BCHF scholarship.
In 1990 she returned to Camosun College
as a mature student, tackling the first two years of
university transfer courses. General history soon
became her top priority. Instructor Clarence Bolt
encouraged a first attempt at archival research.
The resulting paper analyzed the missionary
reaction to the native shaman, and gave her the
Robert Martin scholarship. Under Dr. Patricia E.
Roy at the University of Victoria, Jamie researched the case of the Allied Indian Tribes of
British Columbia before the 1927 special federal
Joint Committee. This work was published in the
student journal Blurred Genres.
Jamie is interested in all aspects of B.C.
history and thanks the Federation for its scholarship, which will assist her to achieve her BA.
Graduate work is her ultimate goal.
Okanagan University College in Kelowna
will host the B.C. Studies Conference on the 8th,
9th and 10th of October 1994. This is Thanksgiving weekend and organizers invite participants to
bring their families. Activities for spouses and
children are planned.
Suggestions for complete sessions are
welcome. Contact Duane Thomson, History
Department, Okanagan University College, 3333
College Way, Kelowna, B.C. V1V1V7.
VIOLA CULL—1899-1993
Mrs. Cull passed away August 21,1993,
having lived 93 of her 94 years in Ladysmith. She
prepared two local histories: Chronicle of
Ladysmith and District (1980) and Ladysmith's
Colourful History (1985) and attended many
BCHF conferences. She was awarded the
commemorative medal for the 125th anniversary
of Canada in 1992.
Arthur Wirick graduated from the University
of British Columbia then taught for many years at
the University of Saskatchewan. When he retired
to Burnaby he was pressed into service as the
BCHF scholarship chairman. He was very
efficient in this role but requested that he be
replaced after the 1993 scholarship was processed. He died suddenly while attending
homecoming celebrations in Saskatoon on
September 18,1993.
On September 15,1993, N.L. (Bill) Barlee
became Minister of Small Business, Tourism
and Culture. This gentleman has been guest
speaker at BCHF conferences in 1980 and 1990.
He has a longstanding interest in history, having
written the very popular Gold Creeks and Ghost
Towns (1970) and Guide to Gold Panning in B.C.,
each of which has sold over 95,000 copies.
Although history and heritage are but part of the
"culture" portfolio, Barlee's familiarity with this
sector will enable him to further heritage
legislation in the Legislature and to support
heritage projects across the province.
Hat Creek Ranch near Cache Creek has not
only restored many historic buildings such as the
roadhouse and B.X. barn, it also sponsors a fall
fair. The fair coincides with the apple harvest and
features true cowboy competitions, that is,
horsemanship more realistic than rodeo events.
The top cowboys in most events were ranch
hands from the nearby Bonaparte Reserve.
A replica of the Fort Steele brewery of 1898
is being constructed ... to house the new
information centre. A novel sod-turning took place
on September 6 when local MLA Anne Edwards,
Minister of Energy.Mines and Petroleum
Resources, guided a single plough pulled by one
of the resident Clydesdale horses. A large crowd
was on hand to witness this and to partake of
cake and (ginger) beer.
Bob Akerman is prepared to show his large
collection of Indian artifacts and pioneer memorabilia to visitors. A log building houses Bob's
notable collection. Guests are then asked if they
would like to see his wife's doll collection. One
wing of their home holds an amazing display,
which the modest collector says is as popular
with male visitors as it is with girls and ladies.
Watch for that name in future. A colliery
operated at Hosmerfrom 1904 to 1914.
Buildings and coke ovens are being prepared
for display to tourists in the Elk Valley, near
Highway #3 between Fernie and Sparwood.
This is an attractive complex owned by the
provincial Heritage Properties Branch.
Four doctoral students have launched an
ambitious fund-raising program to endow a major
scholarship for future students majoring in British
Columbia history, archaeology, historical
geography or ethnohistory. They have received
endorsation for this project from citizens such as
former Lieutenant Governor Robert Rogers,
former Liberal leader John Turner, former MLA
Brian Smith, and from the staff of every university
or college offering courses in history in the
Charitable donation receipts will be issued
for donations of more than $20.00 Those wishing
to contribute should mail their cheque to:
The Margaret Ormsby
Scholarship Committee.
1454 Begbie Street
Victoria, B.C. V8R1K7
Alice and Jim Glanville of Grand Forks
celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on
October 9th of this year.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 NEWS St NOTES CONT D
Point Roberts, named by Captain Vancouver for Lieutenant Henry Roberts, RN, lies on the
49th parallel. The Treaty of Washington signed
on June 15,1846, decreed that the 49th parallel
would divide Canada and the United States. A
granite obelisk erected at Point Roberts in 1861
still stands to mark the boundary. Forty tons of
granite from Scotland were carried around Cape
Horn to form the shaft which is set on a base of
local stone. One side is inscribed "Treaty of
Washington, June 15,1846" and another states
"LAT 49 0 0, LONG 128 3 53" while the others
carry the names of the commissioners who
signed the treaty. Joan and Bernard Bellinger
recommend a visit to this point of interest.
The boundary marker on tbe 49tb
parallel at Point Roberts, near
Vancouver. Photo courtesy of B. Bellinger.
Campbell River Museum and Archives is
pleased to announce the release of several
videotape productions that highlight the lives of
the pioneering women of northern Vancouver
Island. Drawing on a rich body of material
gathered through an innovative women's history
project, four lively and inspiring portraits of our
foremothers have been captured on video. The
researchers assembled over 75 hours of taped
interviews and 400 historic photographs to create
a specialized collection of information about
The programmes were professionally
produced using live interviews and dramatic
archival photographs. They are suited to different
age and interest groups and will be of special
interest to schools, universities, women's groups
and historical associations.
These videotapes are available for purchase
from the museum at a unit cost of $20 plus tax:
1. History of Women of Northern Vancouver
Island 1915-1945
35 minutes, general adult or senior second
ary school audiences.
2. A History of Women of Northern Vancouver
Island - A Child's Perspective 1915-1945
15-20 minutes, elementary school
3. Native Women of Northern Vancouver
Island 1915-1945
20 minutes, native focus for general adult or
senior secondary school audiences.
4. A History of the Women of Northern
Vancouver Island to 1920
20 minutes, general adult or senior
secondary school audiences.
To order use this format:
Number of the tapes ordered:
Total tapes -
Payment of-
x $20 each
Taxes: PST in B.C.+ 7% GST .
(cheque or money order)
Total Cost enclosed with order.	
Mail to: Campbell River Museum and Archives,
1235 Island Highway, Campbell River, B.C. V9W
2C7. Phone 287-3103 or fax 286-0109.
This project has been supported by Secretary of
State, Ministry of Women's Programmes and
Government Services, B.C. Heritage Trust,
Campbell River Museum and Archives, P. Foster
and Associates, and Campbell River Television
The next deadline for applications for grants
under the Community Archives Assistance
Program is March 31,1994. These grants can be
used by community archives to help fund a
variety of archival projects. Groups interested in
applying for grants can obtain information
brochures and an application form by writing to
the Community Archives Assistance Program,
British Columbia Archives and Records Service,
655 Belleville Street, Victoria V8V1X4.
CAAP grants will pay for up to one-half of
the total cost of a project and may be up to
$10,000 in value. Grants are issued to non-profit
societies, municipalities or other local government
agencies, and similar groups (they are not
available to individuals or profit-making societies).
They are meant for one-time projects and cannot
be used for capital or on-going expenditures.
The Island Hall Hotel in Parksville will be
the venue for the 1994 conference of the British
Columbia Historical Federation. Many speakers
and outings are planned, plus the presentation of
awards for the Historical Writing Competition,
exchange of successes and programs by
member historical societies, references to historic
trails and markers, reports about the Publication
Assistance Fund, and scholarship winners,
Remember the dates: April 28 - May 1,1994.
History buffs from all over are welcome to
participate. Those of you who are not members
of Member Societies may request registration
forms from:
Mrs. Paddy Cardwell
1033 Forgotten Drive - Parksville
V9P1T3 Phone:248-9541 or
Jim Storey at 752-1247
7*7 <Stc&&c#Zp£tori, to-
G, <j/U&o£
(2Ariib£rna&> gift!
Send your gift order to:
Nancy Peter -
Subscription Secretary
#7 5400 Patterson Ave.
Burnaby, B.C.  V5H 2M5
Onty $12.00 uMtfwn Canada.
$17.00 pe/i. uta/t, to- otheA cocontnkA.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 BOOKSHELF
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the book review editor:
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
On Track: The Railway Mail Service in
Susan McLeod O'Reilly. Hull, Canadian Museum ofCivilization, 1992.151 p., illus., $17.95
Railway passenger service has always
captured the imagination of the public and its
sharp decline in the post-World War II era has
been appropriately mourned in the media. On
the other hand, railway mail service, the bone
and sinew of communication across Canada's
vast area for more than a century, flourished
efficiently in the background. Its demise in
Canada in 1971 aroused barely a whimper. In
earlier times, however, not only did railway
mail service enable first class mail to be transmitted with unerring celerity, but also sped
safely to isolated householders thousands of
mail orders from Eatons and Simpsons. Such
esoterica as day-old baby chicks, live bees and
bank notes were also given tender loving care
by this postal service.
Railway mail service involved the use of
specially designed railway carriages forming a
unit in an express train but staffed with postal
employees who over the long miles sped the
mails by sorting them in transit, thus eliminating
delays involved in sorting and resorting at
various postal centres on the journey. Shift
hours were long and working conditions
cramped in the railway mail carriages but employees with a proper bent for the work became dedicated to the service.
In 1951, just before the precipitous decline
in railway mail service set in , B.A. Long and
W.J. Dennis succeeded in glamorizing what
might seem to be a tedious occupation with
their book entitled Mail by Rail, a fervent tribute
to those unsung heroes in the service who
laboured diligently on railway routes over the
world, sometimes in the face of real danger.
Mail by Rail remains the paradigm for readers
seeking a lively account of the history of the
service and a detailed explanation of the intricacies of sorting and routing mail in various
countries of the world.
On Track: The Rai/ioay Mail Service in
Canada, written by the curator of the National
Postal Museum, does not attempt to match the
scope of Mail by Rail, but it is nonetheless a
highly informative work. The format is "hybrid
pictorial history," that is, space on most pages
is shared between textual material and a wealth
of action shots and pictures of railway mail
service artifacts. The text relating the history of
the service in Canada and explaining its modus
operandi is well organized and the presentation
is lucid, if somewhat deliberately dispassionate.
Philatelists will likely snap up On Track for
its host of illustrations of cancelled covers, while
those with a general interest in facets of Cana
da's history will find the text easy to read and
the illustrations engrossing. The quality of the
book as a reference work would be considerably enhanced if in a subsequent edition the
following were to be added: (a) The address of
the National Postal Museum (100 Rue Laurier,
Hull, P.Q.). One of the goals of the book is to
stimulate an interest in the museum, (b) An
appendix delineating the railway and steamer
post office routes which existed in Canada, (c)
A subject index.
Postal transportation service was a feature
of many of British Columbia's railway, coastal
steamer and inland steamer routes. Hopefully,
the appearance of On Track will prompt some
aficionado to write a work concentrating on this
aspect of the service. On Track hints of a host
of colourful stories yet to be told by surviving
service retirees across Canada.
Living in the Depot: The Two-Storey
Railroad Station
H. Roger Grant. University of Iowa Press,
1993. 145 p., illus., $32.95
Over the past thirty years the North
American landscape has been bereft of many
miles of railway track and also of water towers,
roundhouses, depots, etc. ancillary to railway
operation. National, regional and local associations of railway buffs have taken a lively
interest in preserving not only railway history
and railway rolling stock but also many of these
retired railway structures.
Books on a variety of aspects of railway
operations continue to roll off the press. In style
these range from the sober academic to the
blatantly "coffee-table pictorial." Those seeking information on the history and architecture
of depots erected for Canadian railway lines
are likely to find either of the following copiously
illustrated works quite satisfying: (a) Bohl,
Charles, CanadianNational's Western Depots.
DonMills, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1977.
(b) Brown, Ron, The Train Doesn't Stop Here
Any More. Peterborough, Broadview Press,
Liuing in the Depot, by the well-known
railway author Roger Grant, samples the whole
of the U.S.A. and Canada, but limits its scope
to depots which also housed families of railway
employees, usually that of the station agent
The book is beautifully produced and contains
many illustrations of small-town railway depots
bound to prove mouth-watering to railway
depot buffs. The work also captures many of
the experiences of the families who were housed
in the utilitarian quarters provided in the second
storey of the depot or, as designs progressed, in
a two-storey wing of the structure. In the Depression days of the 1930s, as branch lines
were relegated to "freight only" status, some
families were thankful to find rudimentary shelter
carved out of abandoned waiting rooms and
ticket offices. Grant draws deftly on much
anecdotal material in providing a generic picture of domestic life in the railway depot, and
does point out any marked regional differences
in railway practice in the provision of "in-
depot" employee housing. Prior to the Depression, the quality of housing in all regions
tended to improve as railways consolidated
their operations and refined their depot design.
There are men and women living today
who doubtless have memories of family life
within the walls of small-town railway depots,
now abandoned, which served railway lines in
British Columbia. Grant's Lining in the Depot,
should serve as a challenge and a helpful model
for any historian willing to seek out such individuals in an attempt to record domestic life in
the depot as it existed during the great days of
railroading in British Columbia.
Streetcars in the Kootenays
Douglas V. Parker. Edmonton, Havelock
House. 210 p., illus. $22.95
At the turn of the century, promotion and
financing of hydro-electric power plants and of
electric street railway systems in the British
colonies and other undeveloped lands often
provided a rapid route to riches. Max Aitken,
the boy from the backwoods of New Brunswick
who became the fabulously wealthy Lord
Beaverbrook, was one who got his first real leg-
up through such promotion efforts. Given the
temper of the times, it is not surprising that the
London-based British Electric Traction Company, which aspired to dominate electric railway development throughout Great Britain
and the Empire, yielded readily to the overtures
of a group of slick mining promoters from
British Columbia's Kootenay district and financed the construction of a street railway in
the small but promising city of Nelson, B.C.
In the years leading up to the Klondike
gold rush, it was the Kootenay district which
held out the expectation of boundless lodes of
gold, silver and base metals. Exponential
population growth in Nelson and environs was
forecast The street railway was completed in
the fall of 1899, by which time the bloom was
already beginning to fade from the Silver King
and its neighbouring mines high up on Toad
Mountain to the south of the city. Nelson was
never quite to recover those boom days of
1895 to 1897. After operating deficits had
accumulated for several years, the city fathers
leased the line and kept it in fitful, modest and
unprofitable operation. The rolling stock was
destroyed in a streetcar-barn fire in 1908. The
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 BOOK SHELF CONT D
city then acquired the rails and trolley wires of
the system, which languished until a group of
dedicated citizens organized a new company
and raised financing for new rolling stock and
trackage extension. Cheap power was available
from the City of Nelson's hydro-electric power
plant at Bonnington Falls, but the system
continued to lose money. Once again the city
took over the system and thanks to a dedicated
maintenance staff managed to keep its three
antiquated streetcars and one snow sweeper in
operation throughout World War II until the
fifty-year-old system was retired in 1949. Nelson residents looked on the money-losing
system as one of the "perks" available in a city
which owned its own hydro-electric plant
The railway historian Doug Parker, who
has been in the forefront of restoration work
carried out on the Edmonton street railway
system, has achieved in Streetcars in the
Kootenays a superb piece of work which provides not only lucid, interesting information on
the street railway system itself, but fills in some
good solid background about the economic
conditions which prevailed in Nelson during
the life of the line. A wealth of anecdotes
captures the flavour of this boom town which
over the decades survived the closure of the
Hall Mines smelter, as well as other economic
The many illustrations, which share pages
with the text, are a delight, while the format,
which assigns "footnotes" to the inside margins,
makes for easy reading. The closing chapters of
the book are devoted to an account of the
inspiring work carried out in recent years by the
Nelson Electric Tramway Society and others in
restoring one of the old streetcars and rebuilding
a streetcar line along part of Nelson's scenic
waterfront. A perusal of Streetcars in the
Kootenays will impel even the most jaded
tourist to visit Nelson and take a trip on the
restored car #23 which began operating on
July 1,1992.
Streetcars in the Kootenays ranks in a class
with Henry Ewart's epic The Story of the B.C.
Electric Railway, published in 1986 by White-
cap in Vancouver. Parker's work is a "must" for
street railway enthusiasts and should also prove
rewarding reading for anyone having an interest
in the history of the Kootenay district.
Edward L. Affleck
Ted Affleck is a member of the Vancouver
Historical Society.
Lasqueti Island: History and Memory
Elda Copley Mason. Lantzville, B.C.,
Byron Mason, n.d. 228 p., $18.95.
Available from Byron Mason, Box 322,
Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0.
The Nelson Island Story, including
Hardy Island and Other Islands of Jervis
Karen Southern. Surrey, B.C., Hancock House,
1989. 219 p., illus., $12.95
Anyone who knows, or is fortunate enough
to be planning to visit, Lasqueti or Nelson
Islands will find these two local histories useful,
interesting and enjoyable. Indeed, the themes
and incidents they describe will strike a chord
with those familiar with any of the islands of the
southern Inside Passage.
While the two islands lie on opposite sides
of the Strait of Georgia — Lasqueti being tied
geographically to Vancouver Island and Nelson,
which curves around the north end of the
Sechelt peninsula, to the Mainland—the experiences of settlers on the two islands were in
many ways similar and the two volumes have
much in common.
Both tell the story of the islands largely
through chronologically arranged biographies
and reminiscences and through anecdotes of
island life. These are given context by sections
on such topics as early exploration, industries,
the development of community organizations,
changing patterns of transportation and communications and their effect, and that of changes
in the economy of the outside world on island
The particular interest of both books lies in
the stories of the people who lived on, or
passed through, the islands and in the affection
and detailed knowledge with which their stories
are told.
Elda Copley Mason, the author of Lasqueti
Island: History and Memory, lived in Lasqueti
for over forty years and the parts of her book
which consist of her own reminiscences are
particularly interesting. If the extract from her
diaries which appears on page 146 is typical,
they should perhaps be published in their own
right: "What a queer couple they are ... and
their house, a long narrow building constructed
of beachcombed wood, browned and mellowed by years of smoke and wind and salt
spray. He with his sharp blue eyes and hers
with the same piercing quality ... within the
house everything spotless ... They are so very
old looking... What a strange life for a crooked
man and an educated woman."
The Nelson Island Story includes a particularly enjoyable account by Howard White
of his childhood at Green Bay where his father
logged during the early fifties before the family
became "victims of the Social Credit Government's policy of closing the woods to small free
enterprise and delivering it over to the big
monopolies." (page 122)
White writes of "a pattern of failure and
abandonment." Certainly the coast is dotted
with evidences of past lives. Both Lasqueti Island: History and Memory and The Nelson
Island Story will help to preserve the memory
of the courage, ingenuity, hard work and,
often, eccentricity of people who lived on the
islands, and they do it so well that the many
photographs in each book have the interest of
a family album.
Both books have good indexes and contain maps, the one in The Nelson Island Story
showing the location of the early settlers. Both
have a section on place names and The Nelson
Island Story includes a list of "boats familiar to
the waters around Nelson Island throughout its
Frances Gundry
Frances Gundry, a member ofthe Victoria Historical
Society, is an archivist at the B.C. Provincial
Archives and Records Service.
Responding to Fashion: The Clothing
of the O'Reilly Family
Virginia Careless, Royal British Columbia Museum, 1993, 92 p., $6.50
Responding to Fashion was prepared to
describe a collection of clothing acquired when
the O'Reilly home at Point Ellice became a
provincial heritage attraction.
This book will be of great help to anyone
who is researching clothes for costuming at
historic sites or for centennial celebrations. It
should also be of interest to anyone wanting to
know what the Social and Fashion life was like
in their mother's or grandmothers' time. I feel
that the first 13 pages should be mandatory
reading for anyone working with historic costumes, as it shows many ofthe things that could
go awry even when the custodian has the best
of intentions.
Notes, illustrations and references are clear.
1 was sorry Ms. Careless could not present the
rest of the costumes at Point Ellice House. I
closed this book wanting to learn more about
the O'Reilly ladies.
Jean-Ann Debrecini
The reviewer has been associated with Fort Steele
Heritage Town for 18 years, frequently acting as a
consultant re costuming for staff and volunteers.
Books Also Noted
Affleck's List of Sternwheelers & Other
Larger Steamboats Working on the
Columbia River Waterways North of
the47th Parallel of Latitude 1865^1965
Edward L. Affleck, comp. 60 p. Vancouver,
Alexander Nicolls Press, 1993. $6.00
Available from Alexander Nicolls Press, 3208
S.E. Marine Drive, Vancouver, B.C. V5P 2S2
(604) 324-2201.
Shuswap Chronicles Vol. 4.
Celista, B.C., North Shuswap Historical Society, 1993.
No price given. Available from North Shuswap
Historical Society, P.O. Box 22, Celista, B.C.
VOE 1L0.
B.C. Historical News - Winter 1993-94 A POSTSCRIPT TO Atlin Adventure
Lyman D. Sands, retired Government Agent and Gold Commissioner in Atlin wrote to the author of
"Atlin Adventure". We are privileged to share the following with our readers.
I read with some interest your article
"Atlin Adventure" in the B.C. Historical
News Fall 1993 and thought it would be
interesting to you to receive sort of a
follow-up on the story.
Frank Barr married my sister Mary
Kate Sands in 1937. He flew planes
between Juneau and Atlin until late fall of
1938 when he and his wife moved to
Fairbanks where he flew for himself and
various other companies until approximately 1956 when he retired from the
flying game and moved to Portland, Or^
egon where he bought a mobile home
park and sort of semi-retired.
My sister died in 1976 and Barr died
in 1983 at the age of 80. During the
period he was in Fairbanks he ran for
politics and served for four years as U.S.
Senator for the Fairbanks area. When
Alaska became a State, he was one of a
team that drew up the Alaska State
He was considered by his peers as
one of the better bush pilots in the north.
While he had many forced landings,
some severely damaging his plane, he
was always able to repair it and fly it back
to his base. One of his slogans was "If you
want to fly the worst way, fly with Barr".
I remember Ike Matthews as a young
person and he was not particularly well
liked by the people of Atlin. I think the
reason for this being he was hard on his
crew, poor living conditions in his camp
and poor grub.  However times weren't
the best and men were glad to have a job.
Incidentally the Joker, Poker & Croker
leases are still in existence and still producing gold.
The undersigned worked for the
Provincial Government as Government
Agent for 36 years and retired in 1983-
During my career I was Gold Commissioner in Atlin and several other places
and also Court Registrar. I enjoyed my
work at the time but don't miss it now.
Trust you may find the above of
some interest.
Yours very truly,
Lyman D. Sands.
Spiral Tunnels, Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Photo: Courtesy Canadian Pacific
The engine of this freight train emerges from the Lower Spiral tunnel, near Field, B.C., while the tail has
yet to enter the portal 45 feet (13- 7m) above. This is the locale where the author, Tom Barnett, waved to
motorists stopped at a viewpoint on the Trans-Canada Highway.
His Honour, the Honourable David C. Lam, CM, LLD.,
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Arthur Lower
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Recording Secretary
Members at Large
Past President
Myrtle Haslam, P.O. Box 10, Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1 NO
Alice Glanville, P.O. Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. VOH 1H0
Ron Welwood, RR #1, S22, C1, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5P4
T. Don Sale, 262 Juniper Street, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 1X4
Arnold Ranneris, 1898 Quamichan Street, Victoria, B.C. V8S 2B9
Doris J. May, 2943 Shelbourne Street, Victoria, B.C. V8R 4M7
Mary Rawson, 1406 Woodland Drive, Vancouver, B.C. V5L 3S6
Wayne Desrochers, 8811 - 152nd Street, Surrey, B.C. V3R 4E5
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Road, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9   988-4565
S.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
Book Review Editor
Subscription Secretary
Historical Trails & Markers
Publications Assistance
(not involved with
S.C. Historical News)
Scholarship Committee
Writing Competition
(Lieutenant Governor's
Margaret Stoneberg, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0 295-3362
Tony Farr, RR #3, Sharp Road, Comp. 21, Ganges, B.C. VOS 1E0 537-5398
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4 733-6484
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOV 2K0 422-3594
Nancy Peter, #7 - 5400 Patterson Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 2M5 437-6115
John Spittle, 1241 Mount Cowan Road, North Vancouver, B.C. V7R 1R9 988-4565
Jill Rowland
#5 -1450 Chesterfield Avenue, North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 2N4 984-0602
Contact Jill for advice and details to apply for a loan toward the cost of publishing.
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4 733-6484
Pamela Mar, P.O. Box 933, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
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 eleventh
annual Competition for Writers of B.C. History.
Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1993, is eligible. This may be a
community history, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections
giving a glimpse ofthe 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 proof reading, 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
All entries receive considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a
monetary award and an invitation to the B.CH.F. annual conference to be held in Parksville in
May 1994.
Submission Requirements: All books must have been published in 1993, 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 ofthe
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
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
2,500 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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