British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1996

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Volume 29, No.4-
ISSN 1195-8294
► p«-»n.*i
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Twisting the Lions Tail MEMBER SOCIETIES
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Financially assisted by the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture through the British Columbia
Heritage Trust Fund. BritiA Colombia
Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
Volume 29, No. 2- Spring 1996
a  eo h m
ijA£|&\]     fl
\i!^5jpv~ ^—'
Telegraph Creek
Williams Lake
Cache Creek
Hutton Mills
Nootka Sound
Campbell River
Gray Creek
. Whatcom
Depicted is a view of the deck of the HMS
Satellite. This vessel was an ultramodern
screw and sailing corvette with 21 guns and a
complement of 325 men under Captain James
Charles Prevost. Governor James Douglas
despatched the Satellite to patrol the entrance
to the Fraser River to ensure that all prospectors had cleared customs and purchased a
miner's licence in Victoria. This prevented
Americans from Twisting the Lion's Tail."
BCARS #A-00259
Rex vs Davidoff    2
by Adam C. Waldie
Twisting the Lion's TaiL The 1858 Fort victoria Riot 5
by Lindsay E. Smyth
Nootka Sound's Andy MorodU Trapper, Prospector, Environmentalist . 11
by Eleanor Witton Hancock
Hydro Electric Power in Gray Creek 16
by C.W.M. Burge
When It Was Easy To Go Teaching 19
by Bernard C. Gillie
Spider Loom Ties    23
by W.J. Spat
Liquor and the Indian: Post WWII   26
by Megan Schlase
The Cache Creek Provincial Boarding School 1874-1890 30
by Wayne Norton
A Bit ofthe Beaver    34
by Terry Julian
NEWS and NOTES    35
Prince Ships of Northern B.C      36
Review by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb
Operating on the Frontier        36
Review by Dr. Adam Waldie
Canada Dry: Temperance Crusades         37
Review by Phyllis Reeve
Making Law, Order & Authority in British Columbia 1821-1871       37
Review by John S. Keenlyside
Just East of Sundown: The Queen Charlotte Islands     37
Review by Paul Whitney
Silver, Lead & Hell: The Story of Sandon        38
Review by Ron Welwood
Winifred Grey: Life in England and the Gulf Islands         38
Review by Naomi Miller
Scoundrels, Dreamers and Second Sons         38
Review by Kelsey McLeod
The S.S. Moyie: Memories ofthe Oldest Sternwheeler       39
Review by E.L. Affleck
The Sicamous & the Naramata: Steamboat Days in the Okanagan      39
Review by E.L. Affleck
Manuscripts and correspondence to the editor are to be sent to P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0.
Correspondence regarding subscriptions is to be directed to the Subscription Secretary (see inside back cover).
Printed In Canada by Kootenay Kwik Print Ltd. Rex vs Davidoff12
The Last Hanging in B. G, 1951
by Adam C. Waldie
Early one spring morning of
1951,1 was working in the garden of my little rented house
in Castlegar when a couple of
Doukhobors drove up in a tiny
Austin. The conversation went
something like this:
"Well, Dr. Waldie, we see
you working, but we got some
work for you too. "
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"We want you come to
Camino Village3 and see one
young fellow. We tink he take
"Is he dead?" I questioned in
"We tink so but we want you
come and see. "
With that I phoned Constable Bill
Howarth ofthe Castlegar Detachment ofthe
RCMP4-5, and Dr. Victor Goresky, the local
coroner. The three of us drove in the police
cruiser over the ferry to Robson, then three
miles east to the suspension
bridge at Brilliant below the
power dam, and two miles back
along the south bank of the
Kootenay River to Camino Village on rhe height of land at the
confluence of the two rivers,
across from the town of
Castlegar and near the site of
present day Selkirk College.
We were led into a large
room on the main floor of one
of the twin, two-storey brick
houses     typical     of    the
Doukhobor village communities. The body of 19 year old
Joe Davidoff lay at one side of
a double bed in the centre of
the room. His cousin appeared
at this point, and related how
he had been sharing the bed
with Joe for a few days. He had come in late
the night before, smelt a little vomit, and
stayed well to his side of the bed thinking
Joe had been drinking. In the morning he
The body of Joe Davidoff, 19, in the bed where his cousin bad slept with the corpse
the previous night. Note die Russian style quilt.
Photo courtesy Adam Waldie
spoke to Joe. No answer. So he kicked Joe to
wake him, but found Joe was cold and stiff.
He had indeed slept that night with a corpse.
I threw back the quilt and found the body
clad only in shorts and a green T-shirt. There
was a little dribble of vomitus at the corner of
A picture taken by the author at the scene ofthe crime, May 1951. Note the bullet
bole on tbe right lower chest.
Photo courtesy Adam Waldie
the mouth. Rigor mortis had set in and the
skin was dusky but there was still warmth in
the groins and the armpits. On lifting the shirt
a bullet wound was evident on the lower right
side of the chest; this appeared
to be an entry site but no exit
wound could be seen.6
As there were no pathologists
in the Kootenays at that time, it
was obvious one of my colleagues in the C.S. Williams
Clinic at Trail would have to do
the autopsy. The body was sent
twenty-five miles in to Trail and
that evening Dr. Jack Harrigan,
who had been out of medical
school a year longer than I had,
did the post mortem in the back
room of Clark's Funeral Home.
As he undertook the gruesome
task he found that the bullet had
torn up the right lateral chest
wall, the dome ofthe liver, the
base of the right lung, shattered the spinal
column, then passed through the back ofthe
left lung. No exit wound was found and
Harrigan thought of sending the body to the
hospital for x-rays to see if he could find the
slug. At the last moment he found it between
the fragments of the left posterior ribs and the skin itself. It
had been too spent to pierce the
skin (which is highly elastic). As
we packed up to go, Jack Bush,
the undertaker's assistant, then
produced a bottle of rye which
quickly disappeared between the
four or five of us present.
Who had killed Joe Davidoff?
At this point there wasn't a clue,
not a hint. Constable Bill
Howarth worked day and night
on the case, painstakingly interviewing everyone in the village.
At the end of the third day, as
he was driving back to the scene
after supper for still more interviews, he came across the two
men who had summonsed me
the first morning, their little Austin overturned in the ditch. They were both inebriated but quite aware they had crossed the
median and were at risk of being charged with
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 driving to the common danger. In a patent
ploy for leniency the driver dropped a hint
of what was to be the breakthrough.
"I hear John Davidoff, Joe's father, had dinner at Polly Argatoff's house that night," he
The Kootenay Columbia area, showing Camino VUlage, the site ofthe Davidoff
murder in 1951. Since then Highway #3 with bridge has been built. Selkirk CoUege
now lies between the Airport and Camino Village. Tbe Hugh Keenfyside Dam and
CelgarPulp Millhave been built on the Lower Arrow Lake two miles west of Robson.
said. Constable Howarth did not charge the
man with the driving offence but questioned
Polly Argatoff directly. Yes, John Davidoflfdid
have dinner at her home on the night in question, but left about eight o'clock, before anyone else did.
The next break came unexpectedly from
Nelson. A life insurance agent, reading ofthe
murder, recalled that John Davidoff had
called to see him in his office the week before to ask if Joe had a life insurance policy,
and if he was the beneficiary. Affirmative to
both questions. The agent reported the incident to the police and John, already suspect,
was taken into custody and charged with the
murder of his son.
In the course of his many interviews Constable Howarth had found several young people who said they had seen Davidoff walking
down the long hill toward Brilliant Bridge
with a sack under his arm. Other people recalled seeing him at the other end of the
bridge with nothing under his arm. Staff Ser
geant William J. (Bill) McKay of the Trail
detachment of the RCMP (later "D" Division) had taken over the investigation and
authorized a diving barge to be located downstream from the bridge and a crew of divers
with the old brass
helmets, hand-
pumped compressors and air hoses,
to search the river
bottom. After two
days work they
had found nothing and were
about to abandon
the search.
Howarth, in the
meantime, was
convinced there
had to be a gun at
the bottom of the
turbulent river be-
low the power
dam, and set
about to re-question the witnesses.
"Are you sure
you saw Davidoff
coming off the
bridge with nothing under his
arm?" Howarth
"Yes," was the
"What side?" Howarth asked.
"Right side" was the reply.
"Your right side or my right side?" asked
"Your right side," (policeman's), was the
Whether the witnesses were using the
idiom of their own language, or whether they
were being deferential to the policeman will
never be known. However, Howarth and
McKay decided that it was worth moving the
barge upstream and searching the river bottom on the upper side of the bridge. The
divers, on their second try, found a rifle, the
ballistic characteristics matching that of the
slug recovered from the body.7
The preliminary hearings were held in the
Legion Hall at Castlegar which had been
converted into a temporary courtroom.
Much of the testimony was given by
Doukhobor people in their own dialect of
Russian, but the court interpreter was a man
who had been an officer in the Russian Im
perial Navy. Polly Argatoff was one of the
first witnesses on the stand and testified that
John Davidoff had indeed had dinner at her
home on the night in question.
"At what time?" she was asked by the prosecutor. She answered in Russian which the
interpreter translated as "Just after eight
o'dock." There was a loud murmur from the
audience and it was apparent there had been
a mistake in translation. The Doukhobor
people did not use the customary hours in
their keeping track of time and Polly's answer literally was "at the time ofthe second
milking ofthe cow" meaning, in their idiom,
just before eight o'dock, not after. At the vigorous objection of A.G. Cameron, defense
counsel, the judge dismissed the interpreter
on the spot and the hearing was set over a
When it was resumed the new interpreter
was a clerk from the Land Registry Office in
Nelson who had grown up in one of the
Doukhobor communities and was aware of
the many differences between the
Doukhobor dialect and the classical Russian
language.8 The accused was committed for
trial in Assize Court in Nelson early in July.
With two murder cases on the docket that
year, and with the indifferent performance
by local counsel in previous assizes, the Chief
Justice appointed a well known Vancouver
trial lawyer, T.G. Norris (later Mr. Justice
Norris} to be Crown Prosecutor. Leo
Gansner9 of Nelson was appointed Assistant.
Arthur Garfield Cameron of Trail, a former
Rhodes Scholar and mining law expert
turned successful criminal lawyer was retained by Davidoff. At the time there was no
such thing as legal aid but the appeal court
records quote from an affidavit by Cameron
and Gordon which swears that the firm took
the case "gratis."10
Having been summonsed as a medical witness, I presented myself to Mr. Norris in the
library of the Nelson Court House. "Get a
copy of Glaister's Medical Jurisprudence,"
he said. "Read the chapters on sudden death,
rigor mortis and gunshot wounds and know
them thoroughly." The next day I had to protest there was not a copy of that text in the
Kootenays, so he threw me the keys to his
room in the Hume Hotel and told me to read
his copy there.
At the time of my original examination of
the body, I had had little or no experience
with forensic medicine, but somehow came
up with the estimate that the body had been
dead between eight and twelve hours. Dr.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Harrigan, on the basis ofthe appearance of
the stomach contents, had estimated the boy
had died two hours after his last meal, which
was known to be at six p.m. Thus we both
guessed, quite independently, that be had
died about eight p.m. Lawyer Cameron tried
and tried to break our estimates of time of
death, but we held by our original evidence.
On July 7, 1951 the jury found Davidoff
guilty of murder and the judge sentenced him
to be hanged on October 2 at Oakalla Prison
in Burnaby.
There were two appeals. Firstly Cameron
and Gordon gave notice of appeal of the
death sentence. At first this was denied by a
lower court but the appeal court ruled that
there had been technical delays, and the appeal was subsequendy allowed."
Before this
appeal could
be heard,
there was a
second one
involving a
request for
admission of
new evidence. A jeweller in
Castlegar by
the name of
O z e r o f f
found a
young man,
who claimed
to have seen
John Davidoff
in town earlier in the evening than the time often o'dock
which had been established in the trial. A
last minute all night drive ofthe new witness
in a police car to the coast did not persuade
the appeal court that the new evidence was
credible, and the appeal was denied.12
Execution by hanging took place in
Oakalla Jail on December 11, 1951, with
Canada's official hangman, "Mr. Ellis,"
springing the trap door. Twenty four years
later Paul St. Pierre wrote a dramatic essay in
the Vancouver Sun recalling the details of this
last hanging in B.C. which he had attended
as a reporter. "Witnessing a hanging did not
make me change my mind (about capital
punishment) ...time did."13
Following this event many stories and rumours filtered up from the community
which, if true, would confirm my suspicions
that John Davidoff was a dangerous psychopath. I had seen him in the office on several
occasions when I had been treating his aged
mother who was very ill, and felt that his
neglect of her was unpardonable. I was convinced that he had met his just reward, but
the whole sordid affair left me with a permanent disgust for capital punishment.
Having worked very closely with Bill
Howarth on the case it is my distinct recollection that he did a superb piece of police
work in his role in the investigation. Bill
McKay was known to be one of the finest
police investigators in the province,14 and together they were responsible for bringing the
case to a successful prosecution.
Bill retired in Rossland, B.C., and died in
1987. His widow, Loraine, lives in Nanaimo.
Brilliant Bridge today - the Dam is behind the pillar on right. Traffic now crosses on a new bridge 100 yards
His older son Fred was a member of the
RCMP detachment at North Battleford
when he died prematurely in 1974. His other
son, Bill, Jr., was also a member ofthe force
and has retired to Kelowna where he now
My thanks to The Honourable Mr. Justice
Gerald Coultas ofthe Supreme Court of British Columbia for providing me with the legal
citations and photocopies ofthe decisions ofthe
Appeal Court in 1951. To Mr. Brian Young,
Archivist, B.C Provincial Archives, Victoria, for
help in trying to run down the original court
records which appear to have been lost. To
Loraine Howarth ofNanaimo for reviewing the
manuscript and telling me the sad lot ofthe
policeman's wife who was not allowed to breathe
a word about what everyone else was talking
about.. And to David McKay, P.Eng. Arbutus
Ridge, Cobble Hill, son ofthe late Staff Sgt.
William McKay, for recalling his father's role
in directing the investigation. He recalls his father saying he had to deal with several known
murders in the Doukhobor community but this
was the only case in which they were able to get
a conviction. (The Appeal Court admitted this
was entirely on circumstantial evidence, BCCA,
op cit, p.389). To Rebecca Wigod, Medical Reporter for the Vancouver Sun, for obtaining a
copy ofthe Paul St. Pierre article for me. To
Ms. Naomi Miller, Editor ofthe B. C. Historical News, for having to deal with so many final
versions ofthe ms. Corrections and additions
kept dribbling in long after I thought I had
submitted the last word. And last, but not least,
to my son, Dan, a printer at the Victoria Times
Colonist, for the endless hours he
has spent trying to teach me to
use the computer as a typewriter.
Bio Note: Dr. Waldie has recently
retired from a medical practice
in Vancouver and feels he is old
enough to become more interested
in history.
BCCA - British Columbia Court of Appeal
1. Rex vs Davidoff (No. 1) 1951, 13 CR
383 BCCA
2. Rex vs Davidoff (No. 2) 1951,13 CR
389 BCCA
3. 4 Referred to as "the second Ostrow
viUage County of Kootenay" in the Appeal
Court decision noted above, page 384.
5. The B.C. Police had been taken over by
the RCMP August 15, 1950 but the men
were still wearing the uniforms and
insignia ofthe former force.
6. The quilt, significantly, had a bullet hole
with powder burns, indicating the rifle had
been Bred at close range, thus muffling the
sound of any gunshot.
7. Jack Duggan, RCMP (ret) was a member of the Trail
Detachment at the time, and was one of the divers on
the barge. He relates that McKay had a rifle painted
white, threw it into the river from the upstream side of
the bridge as a marker, and the divers located the murder
weapon near the white rifle on their second dive. The
flood gates on the nearby dam were shut down for a
short period (maximum of two hours) to facilitate the
underwater search.
8. According to Jack Duggan this man remained official
government interpreter for Doukhobor trials for many
years afterwards.
9. Deceased, 1994.
10. BCCA, op cit, p.385, (quoting from an affidavit by
defense counsel giving reasons for seeking appeal,) para.
12, 14. Para. 15 is interesting, and bears quotation: "that
the said firm of Cameron & Gordon are prepared to act
as counsel for the said Davidoff gratis due to the fact that
they believe the verdict ofthe jury and the conviction of
the said John M. Davidoff was not supported by the
evidence adduced at trial."
ll.BCCA, opcit, p.388.
12. BCCA op cit, p.394.
13. Vancouver Sun, November 27,1975.
14. According to Jack Duggan, in personal communication
quoted above.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Twisting the Lioris Tail: The 1858 Fort
Victoria Riot
by Lindsay E. Smyth
Two Argonauts recently arrived
from California—one an American,
the other English—stood on the
deck of a small vessel that had just
sailed out of Victoria enroute to the
"New Eldorado," at the crest of the
1858 Fraser River Gold Rush. "On
one side the mighty Olympian
mountains reared their white peaks
heavenward," recalled Thomas
Seward—the British-born member
of the pair—when he penned his
reminiscences half a century later;
"on the other the low but rugged and
picturesque hills of Vancouver Island
marked the western boundary ofthe
British Empire. Pointing towards
Vancouver Island, my companion,
half seriously, half jocularly, remarked
that if the country proved as rich as
reported, it would soon be under the
same flag as the Territory of Washington, just across the water. The remark netded me, as I had always been
staunchly British, and I replied:
"Well, you'll have to do some
damned hard fighting to get it."
In a nutshell, the foregoing account illustrates the most volatile bone of contention
affecting the social relations ofthe two conflicting camps of Anglo-American miners
participating in the stampede which ultimately gave birth to British Columbia, as
30,000 men of various ethnic origins made
the pilgrimage up from California that same
spring and summer. "The invading army was
composed almost entirely of Americans,"
Seward writes, "the majority of whom... were
animated with no friendly feeling towards the
British nation, of whose wealth and power
they were jealous." "After the great influx of
men from California," he further declares,
"it would have been an easy matter—at least
so it was thought by thousands of American
citizens—to have swamped the government"
and "completely Americanize"1 the sparsely
settled and largely unorganized territories that
now comprise Canada's westernmost province.
Governor James Douglas.
As far as Governor James Douglas was concerned, the threat of annexation was all too
familiar. According to the terms of an 1818
Treaty between Great Britain and the United
States the two nations had agreed to share
what was then known as the Oregon Country, stretching between present-day California and Alaska—or in geographic terms,
between 42° and 54° 40' north latitude.
Foreseeing the possibility that a future
boundary might be set at the 49th parallel,
in 1843 the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC)
had sent Douglas to establish Fort Victoria
on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, that
it might serve as their new western headquarters in the event that they had to abandon
Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, and
substitute the Fraser as the main route to their
chain of trading posts in the Interior Northwest.
The move came at an appropriate time,
for in the following year, 1844, James Polk
was elected to the presidency on the infamous
slogan "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight."
Obsessed with the belief that it was
the "Manifest Destiny" ofthe young
Republic to expand its rule over the
whole ofthe Continent, American expansionists were demanding all ofthe
Pacific Slope lying south ofthe Russian Possessions, and they were threatening to go to war with Great Britain
to achieve that end. At the same time,
however, they were aspiring to annex
Mexican Possessions in California
and Texas. Consequently, when the
British responded by sending a squadron of warships to "show the flag" on
the Northwest Coast, fearful that
their country might become simultaneously embroiled in wars with
both Britain and Mexico, the Americans in 1846 agreed to compromise
on the 49th parallel as the final line.
Nevertheless, in 1849 the Crown
deemed it necessary to create the
bcars #2663 Colony of Vancouver Island (under
management ofthe HBC) for the express purpose of forestalling American penetration of their Possessions on the
Pacific Northwest—Chief Factor Douglas
having been installed as Governor ofthe same
shortly thereafter.
In justifying their failure to annex the
whole ofthe Oregon Country, it became fashionable with the Americans to dismiss the
lands ceded to Britain as one of the most
worthless tracts on the planet, a barren
mountainous wasteland suited for naught but
savages and wild beasts. And so the British
Frontier—now greatly reduced—was left to
the peaceful pursuit of the fur trade for another decade until that fateful day in 1858
when news reached the outside world that
rich gold deposits had been discovered on
Fraser River, and once again the cry of "54-
40 or Fight" was raised throughout the land.
A popular contemporary poem entitled
"Fraser River,." in which U.S. President James
Buchanan and Secretary of State Lewis Cass
are referred to as "Buck and Cass," expresses
the sentiment of many thousands of Ameri-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 can emigrants who overran the British Possessions during the gold excitement of 1858:
When news gets where Buck and Cass is,
Johnny Bull can go where grass is,
He may rant and rave to foaming,
It will never stop our coming.
Soon our banner will be streaming,
Soon the eagle will be screaming,
And the lion—see it cowers,
Hurrah, boys, the river's ours.2
Far from "going where grass is," Johnny
Bull—as represented by James Douglas—had
other plans. At first, motivated by a concern
that immigrant miners would have "a hankering in their minds after annexation to the
United States" and "never cordially submit
to British rule,"3 the Governor toyed with
the idea of barring their entrance altogether.
"I should be glad to keep those parties out of
the British Territory," he writes to the Home
Authorities under date of March 22, 1858,
"and would undertake with a very moderate
force to accomplish that object, as the avenues to the country are few, and might be
easily guarded."4 By mid May, however, following the inconceivably sudden eruption of
the stampede, he was forced to the sober realization that "to prevent the entrance of
those people... is, perhaps, altogether impossible with any force that could be collected
within a reasonable time."5
Making the best of a hazardous situation,
this bold British Lion next sought to "assert
the rights ofthe Crown, protect the interests
ofthe Hudson's Bay Company, and., .draw
the whole trade of the Gold District"6
through British channels. In order to accomplish these ends he instituted a licensing system and despatched a gunboat, HMS
Satellite, to patrol the entrance to the river.
By at first making the requisite mining licenses and customs clearances available only
at Victoria, Douglas reasoned, the British
port "would thus become a depot and centre
of trade for the gold district, and the natural
consequence would be an immediate increase
in the wealth and population ofthe Colony."7
As a final master stroke, he planned to implement regular steamship service between
Victoria and the gold mines on the Lower
Fraser, on condition that the American-
owned vessels he solicited for the job carry
no other merchandise but that ofthe British
Victoria's main rival in the quest for commercial supremacy soon developed to be the
new boomtown of Whatcom on Bellingham
Bay, where American entrepreneurs began
constructing a trail to the mines in an effort
to circumvent British revenue officers guarding the mouth of the Fraser. Exploiting the
anti-British sentiment of the emigrants, the
boosters and speculators who now sought to
make Bellingham Bay the "great Northern
City of the Pacific"8 declared "every American miner who has the least spark of national
pride" should "avoid Victoria, and every thing
that is British."9
Accordingly, as "the first feeling after the
gold discoveries became known in California, was to give the preference to ANY American port., so as to avoid the English one,"10
it initially appeared that Whatcom would
gain the ascendancy over Victoria. Describing the scene in early June, a correspondent
ofthe California press reports: "Bellingham
Bay presents the appearance of San Francisco
in the memorable days of'49. It is constantly
covered with boats of every size and description. The shores are alive with the stir and
activity incident to such exciting times. " All
this prosperity was not to be without its dark
side, however, for along with the basically
honest and industrious tide of humanity funnelled through whichever port gained the
ascendancy came the gamblers, thieves and
swindlers inexorably drawn by the yellow root
of evil; "those vultures who ever hover about
where there is a carcass to prey upon... Their
nefarious operations are performed as in
California in '49, publicly and boldly. Faro
banks, monte banks, and their concomitants
are in full blast."11 "Whatcom is., as near like
the City of Sodom of old as ever a town could
well become," testifies another observer.
"Vice and immorality of every description is
practiced there at noon-day, which will require the firm arm of a vigilance committee
to arrest."12
By mid-June, as Douglas's strategy began
taking effect, the tide of emigration now
turned towards Victoria. On June 10, following the maiden voyage ofthe side-wheeler
Surprise direct from Victoria to the mining
district with 500 men, a sojourner at "Bedlam Bay" reports: "The whole town of
Whatcom is one set of speculators... to-day,
when the Surprise came back from Fort
Hope, and brought the news that she will go
from Victoria to Fort Hope hereafter, it
seemed as if they had all been knocked in
the head."13 Writing from Esquimalt Harbour (adjacent to Victoria) on June 12, another newly arrived gold-seeker declares:
"The Bellingham Bay trail is a failure, they
are unable to get through... Whatcom must
necessarily 'go in,' as it is not to be supposed
that the crowd will land there and then pay...
to return to Victoria to get their clearance to
go up the river."14 By June 30, the newly
founded Victoria Gazette was in a position
to boast: "But a short time since, two thirds
of the Fraser river immigration landed at
Bellingham Bay. Now four-fifths ofthe newcomers stop at Victoria."
The stampede reached its climax in early
July, when on a single memorable day—July
8 — two California steamers disembarked
2,800 newcomers, and the floating population of the colonial backwater, which had
amounted to perhaps 500 souls in April,
soared to 10,000. "So far none but miners.,
.or men of small means had made their appearance," recalls one of the early arrivals,
"but merchants and people of standing, who
had so far hesitated, now began to arrive...
These 'big bugs' 'were closely followed by
another class, and Victoria was assailed by
an indescribable array of Polish Jews, Italian
fishermen, French cooks, jobbers, speculators of every kind, land agents, auctioneers,
hangers on at auctions, bummers, bankrupts,
and brokers of every description. . . To the
above list may be added a fair seasoning of
gamblers, swindlers, thieves, drunkards, and
jail birds, let loose by the Governor of California for the benefit of mankind, besides the
halt, lame, blind and mad. In short, the
offscourings of a population containing, like
that of California, the offscourings of the
Inevitably, as Victoria gained the ascendancy over her American rival, the more unruly elements amongst this "motley
inundation of immigrant diggers"16 descended upon the town in overwhelming
numbers. "The new-found mineral wealth
of British Columbia had attracted from California some ofthe most reckless rascals that
gold has ever given birth to," writes Lieutenant R.C. Mayne of HMS Plumper. "Strolling about the canvas streets of Victoria might
be seen men whose names were in the black
book of the Vigilance Committee of San
Francisco, and whose necks would not, if they
ventured them in that city, have been worth
an hour's purchase."17
Foremost amongst the latter was the notorious Edward McGowan, who shortly after would gain a place for himself in the
history books in consequence of the bloodless affair known as "Ned McGowan's War,"
at which time he and his fellow annexationists
vainly conspired to create a disturbance on
Fraser River which would "bring on the fight
and put an end to the long agony and public
clamor... that our boundary line must be
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Lieutenent Charles Wilson, Royal Engineer, served as Secretary
to the British Boundary Commission. He outfitted himself in
frontier garb to post jbr this picture c.1858.
BCARS #3775
'fifty-four forty or fight.'" This "born instigator" arrived in Esquimalt Harbour aboard
the steamer Pacific on the evening of July 3,
having but recently escaped an attempt on
his life by several policemen who had sworn
to kill him, while passing through San Francisco enroute to the Fraser. Taking advantage of the captain's absence on shore next
day, McGowan manned the vessel's two small
signal guns with a crew of filibusters direct
from General Walker's disastrous Nicaraguan
campaign, and proceeded to fire off a 100
gun salute in honour ofthe Fourth of July.
"As volley after volley peeled out," McGowan
recounts, "down on the beach came hundreds
of Indians and others, subjects of Great Brit
ain, as well as our own inquisitive
'Yankees,' not knowing what was
up. An English man-of-war was
lying offin the harbor, and no one
for a moment but imagined we
were bombarding the town or
bearding the lion in his den. It
was soon explained to the inhabitants that it was the great American holiday. . .and that we had a
fashion of celebrating it and getting jolly, no difference in what
country or clime we were sojourn
McGowan was undoubtedly
aware ofthe consternation that his
unexpected salvo would create, as
the alarming news that a war between Great Britain and the
United States was imminent had
only just reached Victoria, following publication of a fictitious report in the Eastern and California
press that "a British cruiser had
fired into an American vessel and
that one man was killed."19 The
facts, as later revealed, were that
the over-zealous captain of a British man-of-war hunting for illegal slave-traders in the Gulf of
Mexico had forced an American
merchant ship to lie to so as to
exercise the "right of search." Before the matter was clarified, however, the San Francisco Herald
of June 9, 1858, had stated: "A
collision with the British... seems
to be inevitable... The most intense excitement prevails throughout the whole ofthe Eastern States
on the subject, and nothing but
the most ample atonement on the
part of Great Britain can prevent
a war."
The alleged incident provided just the excuse that annexationists were looking for in
order to open hostilities against the virtually
defenceless British Possessions on the Northwest Coast. Under heading of THE
RESULTS, a letter appearing in the San
Francisco Bulletin of June 21, 1858, declares:
"Americans and Englishmen cannot mix,
and but little will be needed there on Frazer
river to provoke a crisis—a sort of independent California fight which will involve the
two nations... It is not altogether an idle
dream., .to look forward to the day when the..
10,000 Americans now on the way to Frazer
river might become the conquerors of Vancouver Island, and another bright star thereby
be added to the American constellation.
Would not Americans throughout the length
and breadth of our continent thunder a welcome to the new state of Vancouver?"
The volatile nature ofthe situation which
arose at this time is further illustrated by the
words of William Bausman, a veteran California journalist who came up on the same
boat as McGowan to found the short-lived
Northern Light at Whatcom on July 3. Denouncing those who preferred to locate at
Victoria as "mercenaries" in the first edition
of his paper under that date, he declares: "But
we have many of the right kind of Americans left. The first intelligence that is borne
to their ears of an actual encounter with the
British Lion, they will take the American
standard in their hands, and advance to the
outer verge of 54 40 - and fight!"
It has been asserted that meanwhile, in
Victoria, Ned McGowan "gathered a gang
about him.. and announced that he was going to hoist the Stars and Stripes over the
place."20 Describing the scene, one contemporary observes: "Frequently men might be
seen crying through the streets that they were
'true Americans' or singing and shouting
about the 'Stars and Stripes'; American flags,
too, were plentiful."21 If the star-spangled
Lion-tamers thought that they were simply
going to waltz right on in and usurp Governor Douglas's authority, however, they soon
realized that they were underestimating the
mettle of their man. This fact is well illustrated by an anecdote told by Mayne, and
which almost certainly refers to an interview
"of brief duration" which McGowan had with
"his Excellency" about this time:
A blustering Yankee went to the Governor
apparently with the notion of bullying him,
and began by asking permission for a number
of citizens of the United States to settle on
some particular spots of land. They would
be required, he was informed, to take the
oaths of allegiance.
"Well," said he, "but suppose we came
there and squatted?"
"You would be turned off."
"But if several hundred came prepared to
resist, what would you do?"
"We should cut them to mince-meat, Mr.
 ; we should cut them to mince-meat."22
Although McGowan, after stirring up a
great deal of trouble, was shortly requested
by the Authorities to leave, departing Britannia's shores for Whatcom on July 19, the stage
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 had now been set for the dramatic events
which followed. And although Governor
Douglas spoke and acted as if he had forces
to rival those of Xerxes at his instant command, the only bulwark now standing between the Lion and the aggressive American
Eagle was the slight handful of bluejackets
and marines stationed aboard the warships
Satellite and Plumper, and without whose
presence at the advent of the stampede the
territorial claims of the British would have
been unsupportable. Despite the fact that
the purpose behind the attendance of the
Royal Navy at this time was to commence
work on the International Boundary Survey,
Douglas knew that he could call on their support to uphold the civil power in the event
of an emergency. A further accession of
strength was gained by the timely arrival of
HMS Havannah on July 12, conveying a
small detachment of Royal Engineers assigned to survey the exact location ofthe 49th
parallel—a matter which had gained sudden
prominence in consequence ofthe gold discoveries. (The Havannah itself did not remain long in port, for fear that crewmembers
might desert to the goldfields.)
The diary of Lieutenant Charles Wilson,
Secretary to the newly arrived Boundary
Commission, furnishes a picturesque description of this lively period in Victoria's history,
when for a brief period the usual stringency
with which British Law ruled was "turned
quite upside down," as the quiet metropolis
of the fur trade was suddenly transformed
into "a regular San Francisco in '49." "The
bowie knife and revolver which every man
wears are in constant requisition," Wilson
records during his first few days in port. "You
are hardly safe without arms and even with
them, when you have to walk along paths,
across which gendemen with a brace of revolvers each, are settling their differences; the
whiz of revolver bullets round you goes on
all day and if any one gets shot of course it's
his own fault."23
"In all directions were canvas tents," recounts Wilson's colleague, naturalist John
Keast Lord, portraying the Capital City at
this time. "The rattle of the dice-box, the
droning invitation of the keepers of the
monte-tables, the discordant sounds of badly
played instruments, angry words, oaths too
terrible to name, roystering songs with noisy
refrains, were all signs significant of the
golden talisman that met me on every side,
as I elbowed my way amidst the unkempt
throng, that were waiting means of conveyance to take them to the auriferous bars of
the far-famed Fraser River."24
Quite naturally, as Victoria had thus suddenly become the main gateway to the gold-
fields, the "City of Canvas" now experienced
a crime wave the magnitude of which the civil
authorities were totally unprepared to deal
with. "The number of burglaries and robberies of all descriptions committed in this
town, is becoming very considerable," laments the Victoria Gazette of July 10,1858.
"Doubtless, many of the old San Francisco
professional thieves have taken the 'Fraser
river fever', and are now here, practising their
old tricks."
Prior to the arrival of the stampeders the
community had been policed by a single officer—Sheriff Muir. Subsequently, immediately upon the advent ofthe rush in the spring
of 1858, Governor Douglas had attempted
to seek out a number of loyal British subjects from amongst the ranks of the immigrants, with which to form a constabulary.
It appears that the best that he could do at
this time, however, was to swear in "a number
of special constables... to keep the peace," for
as Thomas Seward recollects, "none of the
miners wished to be appointed policemen....
Our sole ambition was to prospect the Fraser
in the hope of... making our fortunes and
returning to California."25
Consequently the Governor, who was himself reputedly a mulatto, hit upon the novel
idea of forming a permanent constabulary
composed of "gentlemen of color" - British
subjects of Jamaican origin, who were part
ofthe recent immigration of Negro colonists
that had come from California "to enjoy that
liberty under the 'British Lion' denied beneath the pinions ofthe American Eagle."26
Needless to say, Douglas's action in this matter was a slap in the face to the lawless spirits
of California, virulent discrimination against
Blacks forming a prominent part ofthe cultural baggage that the gold-seekers brought
with them to the English Colony.
Equipped with blue coats, batons, high
hats and red sashes, the dozen or so stalwart
young men recruited to form this pioneer
police force soon began to assist Sheriff Muir
in the challenging task of attempting to uphold the law presumably on or about July
17, the date on which the Gazette notes: "Mr.
Augustus Pemberton has been appointed
Commissioner of Police."
Fortunately, the better element amongst
the foreign population were quite willing to
submit themselves to the British system of
law and order, finding it a refreshing change
to the scenes of riot and bloodshed which
characterized the mining frontier south ofthe
border—where all too often the six-gun was
law, and "Judge Lynch" the final arbitrator.
Commenting upon a new law to the effect
that, as ofthe following day, it would be illegal to carry "Firearms or other dangerous
weapons., in the streets of Victoria,"27 the
American-owned Victoria Gazette of July
28, 1858, remarks: "We are glad to see this
action on the part of the authorities, as the
practice of each man carrying a six-shooter
slung to his side in a peaceful community
like this is entirely unnecessary, and liable to
serious abuse."
Under the same date, the local tabloid
observes: "There are very stringent laws here
for the suppression and punishment of gambling, and we learn that Sheriff Muir is determined to enforce the statute in all cases.
A day or two ago, several persons were arrested accused with this offence, but were
discharged in consequence ofthe mixed character of the evidence, and the fact that this
was the first case. Hereafter there will be no
mercy shown the gendemanly black-legs who
have done so much to bring disgrace upon
some of the towns which have sprung into
existence within the last few months, but who
have, so far, given Victoria a pretty wide
Again on July 30, under the heading
"Sheriff Muir is after the gamblers and loose
women, giving them little peace, and it is
altogether probable that they will find Victoria too hot a place for them. A whole house
full of cyprians were arrested the other day
and only set free upon condition to quit the
country immediately. Others have been quietly notified to leave, and are preparing to
take the first steamer back to San Francisco,
behaving themselves in the meantime."
If, as Mayne asserts, Governor Douglas had
been looking for an opportunity to "'make
an exhibition of force.. .that should effectually tame the more unruly of the strange,
heterogenous population that had placed
themselves under his rule,"28 one can imagine that the annexationists and criminal elements were equally eager to force a
confrontation that might result in the overthrow ofthe government, before the further
accession of troops from the Home Country. The showdown came on the evening of
Friday, July 30, when an outrage occurred
which the Gazette describes as "the first
major challenge to British law and order."29
The trouble began about 8 p.m., when the
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 HMS Satellite:
Captain James
police attempted to restrain
a man named John Robinson,
after being called to a house
on Johnson Street where the
American sailor "had become
so intoxicated as to damage
the property ofthe owner."30
Robinson, resenting the interference of "a nigger policeman,"31 responded by
"knocking down" one ofthe
coloured officers "for his insolence," an action which
"led to the arrest of the
sailor"32 by Sheriff Muir.
"The fellow resisted,"
notes the Gazette ofthe following day, "and on the officers attempting to drag him
along towards the fort, he
cried out to the crowd who
had by this time collected
round, to rescue him. A
party of his friends came to his assistance,
and by means of pushing and shoving... succeeded in taking him from the custody of
the officers... We understand that Sheriff
Muir was pretty roughly handled, being
knocked down in the scuffle."'
The Vancouver Island Gazette, a newly
founded government organ, reports that the
endeavours of the police to carry Robinson
to the Station House "were at first retarded
by the outrageous conduct of a mob of persons, composed of at least 2500 individuals."33
"Forming in a procession four abreast and
about 1,000 strong," recalls pioneer Victoria
resident Frank Sylvester, "they carried
Robinson down through the town, put him
in a small boat, and sent him out to a sloop
called the Wild Pigeon, to get him away from
town, as they feared it would go hard with
him. The wind was unfavorable and she was
delayed near the mouth ofthe harbor..."34
Evidently about the same time, a lone constable had run into a difficulty with comic
overtones on the Johnson Street Bridge. After noting that the miners "at once declared
war'" on the coloured policemen, a pioneer
historian states that they carried their enmity
so far "as to threaten to throw one of the
objectionable officers into the harbor" when
Police Chief Pemberton "entered between the
ranks ofthe rioters and by his quiet determination compelled them to release the prisoner."35 Probably alluding to this same
incident, a contemporary writer says the rowdies "deprived the constable of his baton,
21 gun ultra-modern screw frigate, 1,462 tons, compliment of 325 men,
Charles Prevost.
BCARS #568
stripped off his uniform, and sent him to
police headquarters in his drawers!"36
Events took a much more serious turn
when, in the excitement ofthe moment, the
crowd "proposed to hoist the American flag
over the old Hudson Bay Company's fort"37
and take Victoria. "Discovering the volcanic
embers by which the affair was beset,"38 at
about 9 p.m. Governor Douglas despatched
a rider to the barracks at Esquimalt, with a
requisition to send an armed force to his assistance. As the main body of Royal Engineers - some 50 men - prepared to march
round by land, steam was with all haste got
up aboard the survey ship Plumper. As luck
would have it, the small man-of-war (484
tons) had but recently returned from Point
Roberts, whence she had been employed in
the service of the Boundary Commission.
"The men were soon turned out and got on
board," Charles Wilson records in his diary.
"It was very exciting when we came in sight
ofthe town and the order was given to load
and the ship's guns run out and cleared for
action. 3J
"Upon the quarter-deck," recounts Lieutenant Mayne, "small arm companies were
having ammunition served out to them; forward, the ship's blacksmith was casting bullets by the score; while our doctor was
spreading out his cold, shining instruments
upon the ward-room table, and making arrangements for the most painful surgical
operations with that grave, business sangfroid, which is no doubt caused by a benevolent desire to show the fighting men what is
in the opposite scale to honour and glory."40
Arriving at the mouth of
Victoria Harbour shortly after dark, the Plumper
dropped anchor as her four
ship's boats were lowered over
the sides "manned by some
fifty marines and forty blue
jackets,"41 armed and prepared for battle. Recalling
the trepidation with which
the rescue force approached
shore under a bright moon,
Lieutenant Wilson states "if
there had been any resistance
there would have been very
few of us not knocked over.
Luckily, however, we found
that... the mob had dispersed."42 Evidently alarmed
at the prospect of being "cut
to mince-meat," the unruly
rabble had swiftly dispersed upon learning
that a gunboat had been summoned from
Esquimalt to quell the riot.
Having been informed ofthe whereabouts
of Robinson, Police Chief Pemberton together with Sheriff Muir and three constables now made their way to the sloop Wild
Pigeon aboard a hired vessel, escorted by a
small military detachment in one of the
Plumper's boats, who stood by to assist "in
case any resistance was made to the civil authority." In short order the schooner (of
which Robinson was mate) was boarded, the
sleepy, drunken sailor dragged out of the
hold, and recaptured "by the same officers
from whom he had been rescued,"43 together
with some other ringleaders in the affair.
After seeing that the prisoners were securely
conveyed to the bastion, the British forces
celebrated their bloodless victory with a collation at the fort, hosted by the Governor.
As for the Plumper, she was hauled up close
to the stockade and temporarily stationed
there as a security measure against further
On the following day "the prisoners were
brought before... Police Commissioner
Pemberton, who in appropriate language
condemned the lawlessness of their acts, and
declared the determination of Her Majesty's
Officers to enforce obedience to the authorities at all risks, even if it were necessary to
proclaim martial law. The government here
had the power and intention of maintaining
the supremacy of the law, and were determined to visit all those with the strictest se-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 verity who endeavored to subvert the authority ofthe governing powers."44 Paradoxically,
the prisoners received remarkably lenient
penalties - "Robinson was fined $10, his 2
friends $50 each plus costs."45
Commenting upon the successful outcome
of the affair, the Vancouver Island Gazette
remarks: "It is to be hoped that this exhibition of civil and naval forces will for the future check all attempts at insubordination,
and create the wholesome impression in the
minds of the visitors that no infraction of
the laws, however slight, will be considered
or treated as a joke, when it is known that
this wanton irruption upon the good order
of our Town might have plunged us into evils
which all good men would most seriously
One minor victory that the foreign population did gain in consequence of the incident was that, in view of their dissatisfaction
with the hue of the constabulary, Douglas
abruptly decided to dispense with the services ofthe coloured police force, and replace
them with White officers.
Shortly after, word reached the Colony that
the English Government had formally apologized to the United States for the aggressive
action ofthe British squadron in the Gulf of
Mexico, thus undermining the aspiration of
some immigrants that an unprovoked assault
upon "British Oregon" would meet with the
official sanction of Washington. "By the last
news from New York you will learn that John
Bull has backed down from the right of
search," declares the California correspondent of the Victoria Gazette in their August
10,1858, edition - "So you will have to 'wait
a little longer' before you can be annexed to
Uncle Sam's dominions."
Fortunately for the future Dominion of
Canada, at that very moment the Imperial
Government was instituting vigorous measures to ensure that the new gold district
would remain under the British flag. Accordingly, on August 2, 1858, Parliament endorsed an Act calling for the establishment
of British Columbia. In a Speech from the
Throne delivered that same day, Queen Victoria expressed her desire that the new Colony
on the Pacific would be "but one step in the
career of steady progress by which Her Majesty's dominions in North America may ultimately be peopled in one unbroken chain,
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by a loyal
and industrious population of subjects ofthe
British Crown."47
In recognition of his unique ability in han
dling a potentially volatile set of circumstances, James Douglas was invited to formally extend his authority over the new
Mainland Colony on condition that he sever
his ties with the HBC, which was then under fire for perpetuating an archaic monopoly
that was thought to be retarding the development of the country. Although Douglas
accepted the position without hesitation, he
expressed open disdain for those Members
of Parliament "who ought to remember that
England owes her possessions on the North
West Coast entirely to the enterprising exertions of the Hudson's Bay Company, who
wrested them from the grasp of foreign merchants, and have held them ever since at their
own expense, a circumstance entirely overlooked by the gentlemen who appear so anxious to terminate the Company's rule."48
Despite the tendency of certain historians
in recent years to belittle the role that Douglas himself played in these epic events, there
can be but little doubt that Canada as we
now know it simply would not exist were it
not for the opportune guidance provided by
this strong-willed British Lion. "Wise and
sagacious was the projector of British commerce and supremacy in these seas,'" said one
of his foremost opponents, the American
annexationist Elwood Evans.
"He merited the compliment he received—the commission as first governor of
British Columbia, and the honors of knighthood.'"
No two ways about it—Sir James Douglas
had saved the day!
Bio Note: The author spends his summers prospecting near Telegraph Creek and winters researching in die archives in Victoria to prepare
articles like this.
Footnotes: References to a number of newspaper quotations,
wherever the dates form an integral pan ofthe story, are
self-evident within the text. Wherever the Gazette is
cited without further clarification, the reference is to the
Victoria Gazette of 1858.
1. Seward, Thomas; A Miner s Experience on the
Pacific Slope (Chapter IV), ms., PABC, E/B/Se8.
2. Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, Nov. 5, 1858.
3. Douglas to Smith, April 27, 1858; Douglas Letters
to HBC on Vancouver Island Colony, PABC, A/C/207
4. Douglas to Smith, March 22, 1858; Ibid.
5. Douglas to Baynes, May 12, 1858; Papers Relative
to the Affairs of British Columbia (Pan I) Parliament,
Great Britain, 1859.
6. Douglas to Stanley, May 19, 1858; Ibid.
7. Douglas to Labouchere, May 8, 1858;
Conespondence Relative to the Discovery of Gold In the
Frasers River Districr, Parliament, Great Britain, 1858.
8. San Francisco Bulletin, June 22, 1858.
9. Northern Ught (Whatcom), Sept. 4, 1858.
10. Waddington, Alfred; The Fraser Mines
Vindicated, Victoria, 1858: 14.
11. San Francisco Bulletin, June 22, 1858.
12. Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, Aug. 13, 1858.
13. San Francisco Bulletin, June 22, 1858.
14. Ibid, June 19,1858.
15. Waddington; op. cit.: 17.
16. Lord Lytton; quoted in Howay, F.W, The'Vfork of
the Royal Engineers in British Columbia, Victoria,
17. Mayne, R.C.; Four Years in British Columbia
and ^ncouver Island, London, 1862: 52-53..
18. McGowan, Edward; "Reminiscences," The
Argonaut; May 18, 1878.
19. Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, July 9, 1858.
20. Allatd, Jason; "When Gold Was King," ms.,
McKelvie Collection, PABC, E/D/M19/Vol. 16.
21. Waddington; op. cit.: 20.
22. Mayne; op. cit.: 54-55.
23. Wilson, Charles; Journal of Service with the British
Boundary Commission, 1858-62, PABC. Entries for
July 12, 13,1858.
24. Lord, John Keast; The Naturalist in Vancouver
Island and British Columbia, London, 1866: 1:37.
25. Seward; op. cit., Chapter V
26. Gibbs, Mifflin; Shadow and Light, Arno Press
reprint, New York, 1968: 63.
27. Vancouver Island Gazette, July 28, 1858.
28. Mayne; op. cit.: 52.
29. Victoria Gazette, July 31, 1858.
30. Vancouver Island Gazette, Aug. 4, 1858.
31. Higgins, D.W; The Passing of a Race, William
Briggs, Toronto, 1905: 165.
32. Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, Aug. 13, 1858.
33. Vancouver Island Gazette, Aug. 4,1858.
34. Sylvester, Frank; Reminiscences, ms., PABC, E/E/
35. Howay and Scholefield; British Columbia from
the Earliest Times to the Present (Vol. IV), S.J. Clarke,
Vancouver, 1914:97.
36. Higgins; op. cit.: 165.
37. Macfie, Matthew; Vancouver Island and British
Columbia, London, 1865: 71.
38. Vancouver Island Gazette, Aug. 4, 1858.
39. Wilson; op. cit.: Diary entry for July 31, 1858.
40. Mayne; op. cit.: 53.
41. Victoria Gazette, Aug. 3, 1858.
42. Wilson; op. cit.: Diary entry for July 31, 1858.
43. Victoria Gazette, Aug. 4, 1858.
44. Vancouver Island Gazette, Aug. 4, 1858.
45. Victoria Gazette, Aug. 3, 1858.
46. Vancouver Island Gazette, Aug. 4, 1858.
47. San Francisco Bulletin, Sept. 16,1858.
48. Douglas to Fraser, Oct. 5, 1858; Douglas Letters to
HBC on Vancouver Island Colony, op. cit.
49. Evans, Elwood; History of the Pacific Northwest
(Vol. 1), North Pacific History Company, Ponland,
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Nootka Sound's Andy Morod: Trapper,
Prospector, Environmentalist
by Eleanor Witton Hancock
In 1932 a Swiss man arrived in
Nootka Sound on the west coast
of Vancouver Island. He was 31
years old. The life he chose proved
demanding, the climate was harsh,
he suffered tremendous disappointment. Yet Andy Morod became Nootka Sound's greatest
environmentalist. His mining
claims at Zeballos eventually became his home. He died at
Zeballos in 1983, age 82.
Andy Morod [pron. Mo-ROD]
was born in Switzerland in 1901
and grew up, speaking French, on
farms in the Alps. He was small
and wiry, with dark brown hair
and clear brown eyes. He served
his stint in the citizen army and,
an excellent skier, won a medal for
ski patrol. He emigrated to
Canada in 1922. The population
of Canada was then some nine million.
It was another 10 years before he reached
Nootka Sound. He had become a commercial fisherman, but the Great Depression hit
resource industries severely and in 1932 he
was employed by Nelson Bros. Fisheries Ltd.
as a deckhand aboard a fishpacker. Thirty
seven per cent of the work force at Port
Alberni was unemployed, 17 per cent in Vancouver and 47 per cent in Fernie. There was
no unemployment insurance.
In November 1932 Andy Morod was settling in for the winter at the fishing village of
Bamfield on the southern west coast when a
trapper offered him a job on a newly-acquired
trapline at Muchalat Lake, near the present
town of Gold River. The man's partner had
quit on him.
Andy Morod, 1982:
"I was living in a shack in Bamfield and
here come a guy with a boat loaded with
equipment, stranger to me, and he was looking for partner to go with him. He had that
big trapline in Muchalat Lake.
"So I wasn't doing nothing, I didn't know
the guy but he had everything, all the traps
and food and boat, so I decided to hop in!
1961 -Andy Morod on the Barnacle claims with Rugged Mountain in i
N.W of Zeballos.
"So we left Bamfield, and it was late in
November, it was big sea, it was bad weather.
And it was only 29-foot boat, little gillnet
"Anyway, he was green as grass, he didn't
know any about the sea or boats, so I took
him up. We went first to Refuge Cove, now
they call it Hot Springs Cove, and we had a
soak in that hot spring.
"And, oh gosh, there was a big, big sea!
And then we pulled around Estevan Point -
I call it The Horn - that's a bad place, they're
great big seas. And then we got to Nootka
Cannery, to the store."1
From Nootka, Andy Morod and the trapper headed to the mouth ofthe Gold River,
26 miles away. Here, they anchored near the
present day pulp mill, near an Indian Reserve
of several families. The trapper's sketch map
indicated a cabin three miles upriver at the
junction ofthe Gold and Ucona rivers. They
would make a reconnaissance trip. Taking the
trapper's Mauser rifle, they rowed up the
Gold River one-quarter mile, as far as possible to row, hauled the skiff out on a gravel
bar and tied it to a log. A trail followed the
Gold River.
There was no cabin at the fork
of the Ucona River. Perhaps the
map was wrong, suggested Andy.
The cabin was probably at the second fork, Heber Creek, another
five miles. At Heber Creek, where
the village of Gold River now
stands, they found a cabin built
of alder logs with a freshly shot
deer hanging outside but no-one
was home. Soon, though, two
native Indian men arrived who
were also preparing for the trapping season. Andy and the trapper overnighted with them on the
dirt floor ofthe cabin.
During the night a storm blew
up and the Gold River rose rapidly, flooding its banks. In the
morning, worried about the
gillnetter, Andy and the trapper
left the Mauser with the Indians
and started back in a hurry.
It was impossible to make time. Creeks
they had crossed the previous day were in
flood and new ones had appeared. A ravine
they had crossed high on a log now revealed
a waterfall pounding the log; there was a drop
of 30 feet to the boulder-strewn rushing
creek. Wearing not caulk boots but gum-
boots, they crept across the log. Not surprisingly, when they reached the gravel bar the
skiff was gone.
They found an Indian's canoe kept upriver
for fishing. There were no paddles and Andy
cut a pole. But the river was treacherous, there
were new channels and exposed boulders.
Carried downriver in the canoe, the men were
unable to clear a sidewall of water rushing
over a boulder and they overturned. Hanging onto the canoe, they were swept along.
Both wore heavy horsehair leather jackets.
Morod could not swim.
Carried into an eddy, canoe and men were
sucked under, five feet, ten feet. When Morod
surfaced, still holding the canoe, the trapper was 50 feet ahead, on his back, unable to
speak. Abruptly the man went under and
was not seen again.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Morod was carried
into the mouth of the
river, where he managed to right the canoe
and climb in. Shaking
with cold, he was paddling, using his hands,
across the tidal flats to
the gillnetter when he
was seen by an Indian
who was hunting ducks
from a rowboat. The
man took him in tow.
The man had found the
trapper's skiff.
The following day he
started back to Nootka
to wire the provincial
police. He had never
travelled in a boat
alone. The weather
proved deceiving; gusts
of wind reached 70 m.p.h., whipping up the
seas. En route the gillnetter's motor flooded
twice and stalled. It was dark when he reached
Nootka. When he returned eventually to
Bamfield, people told him he looked 10 years
He assessed the chances of going it alone.
He lacked trapping skills and knew nothing
about survival in the rainforest. He had arthritis in the left hip. But, challenged, he
applied for the Muchalat Lake trapline, obtained it and in the spring hitchhiked back
to Nootka. He purchased a dugout canoe.
Using oars in oarlocks, he rowed the 26 miles
to rhe mouth ofthe Gold River. He packed
his gear in in relays, over the 20-mile game
trail to Muchalat Lake.
The lake on a fine day was a jewel in the
forest, four and one-half miles long, a mile
at its widest and fed by numerous streams.
Today it is a popular recreation spot. Andy
Morod would call Muchalat Lake home for
the next 21 winters.
The Indians, who preferred to have company in the bush, were surprised to see him
return alone: "And you camped in that cave?"
In the canyon ofthe Gold River was an old
Indian burial cave, a dry spot for camping
although there were bones.
"Sure! White men aren't superstitious! It's
not the dead one I'm scared of, it's the live
He spent the summer looking the country
over, rowing along the inlets, prospecting.
Apart from workers at seasonal fish plants,
the population was small. The area was served
tri-monthly by the CPR steamer Princess
Andy Morod, left, prepares to leave Muchalat Lake with pelts at tbe end ofthe trapping season. Queen
Charlotte Airlines.
Maquinna from Victoria.
At Nootka he made friends with Arthur
Park, fisheries officer and owner of the hotel. Park was a remittance man from Scotland. Andy Morod cruised with Arthur Park
for one month on fisheries patrol. Gradually
he became familiar with Nootka Sound.
The cannery on Nootka Island land was
located near the native Indian village of
Yuquot at picturesque Friendly Cove. In
1778, near Friendly Cove, James Cook spent
nearly four weeks repairing his ships and
making observations. James Cook at Nootka
Sound was the first European to set foot on
the northwest coast. Islands and inlets
abounded with British and Spanish names.
The area was known as British Columbia's
On August 13 Andy Morod took part in
the first government survey of Nootka
Sound. It began as a side trip. He was rowing along Muchalat Inlet when he encountered the 100-foot Dominion hydrographic
survey scow, Pender, anchored at the mouth
of the Houston River. This year surveyors
were charting the waters of the Sound and
doing geodetic work under Commander J.H.
Knight, RNR (Royal Navy Reserve) aboard
the scow, and M.D. Parizeau, Chief Surveyor,
Pacific Coast, on the survey ship William J.
Stewart at sea.
Planning to ignore the scow, Andy continued rowing. But he was seen by a woman
on deck and the woman waved her handkerchief, inviting him aboard. She kept waving
until he turned the canoe.
He was annoyed at the interruption but
felt that in this forlorn
country it would appear
strange if he were not sociable; people might
think he had broken the
law and was hiding out.
Aboard the Pender
men were preparing to
leave to climb a 4845-
foot mountain, Conuma
Peak, to erect a flag visible to surveyors aboard
the William J. Stewart
at sea. But the peak
looked formidable.
The surveyors questioned whether it could
be climbed. Unlike rhe
heavily-timbered tops of
the neighbouring moun-
tains, Conuma has a
conical, rocky peak.
Learning that Andy Morod had scaled
peaks in the Alps, Commander Knight asked
his opinion. Andy assured rhe commander
there was no mountain in British Columbia
that could not be climbed. The commander
then suggested he might like to act as guide.
He was challenged. He afterwards considered
the climbing of Conuma one ofthe important accomplishments of his life.
An advance party left to make camp at the
base ofthe Peak and Andy prepared to leave
with a surveyor and two seamen the next day.
During the preparations he noted that the
climb was going to be hard on the seamen
who would serve as packhorses; the seamen
had no caulk boots and no packboards. The
surveyor planned to get up and back in one
An aerial photo showed there were no trees
on top of Conuma, there was only broken
rock. Trees would have to be felled and
dragged up for the 20-foot mast. The mast
had to be braced and counter-braced to withstand wind. Drinking water would have to
be packed up, there were no streams on the
peak. The next morning they left by launch,
towing Andy's canoe, to join the others at
Conuma River, 20 miles away.
Conuma River flows into Moutcha Bay in
Tlupana Inlet, a bay named for the early Indian village, Mooacha. Aboard the launch,
the men were in fact re-tracing the route
taken in 1794 by George Vancouver on his
visit to Chief Clewpaneloo whose village was
located at Conuma's base, and after whom
Tlupana Inlet is named. A comment on
Vancouver's own trip is found in British Co-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 1961 - Andy Morod, o]
lumbia Coast Names,
1592-1906 by Captain
John T. Walbran.
"The newly arrived
governor of Nootka
(the successor of
Quadra), Brigadier
General Don Jose
Manuel Alava, accompanied Vancouver on
this visit, and as the
boats rowed up the inhospitable looking inlets with their
stupendous precipices
and gloomy ravines,
against wind and
stream, Alava frequently expressed his
astonishment that such
a country could ever
have been an object of
contention between the respective sovereigns
of Great Britain and Spain."
Describing Conuma, Walbran says:
"...the Indian name from time immemorial. A remarkable steepleshaped mountain,
and a most conspicuous feature in the scenery of Nootka sound. In commander
Galiano's chart, 1792, the mountain is called
Pico deTasis, evidently after Maquinna's principal and neighbouring village of that name.
In Galiano's later and larger chart, 1795, the
name is altered to Conuma, which, as appears from his journal in 1792, was its proper
Indian name. (Viage, p. 133.) In this journal he states in reference to Conuma, 'the
corpses of the chiefs are borne up in pomp
by the common people, with continuous
lamentations to the slopes or brow ofthe very
high mountain of that name, and are
wrapped up in splendid robes of sea otter,
placed in wooden boxes in a sitting posture,
and hung up in the branches of trees...
Andy Morod and the seamen began to ascend Conuma. From the start the packers
were thrown off balance by the improvised
backpacks. Tempers were not improved when
it began to rain. Below the summit the men
were confronted by a great expanse of soft
snow which appeared impossible to traverse.
Upon inspection, the snow proved hollow
underneath. Morod went ahead, demonstrating how they could climb up beneath the
Near the summit, he took a 15-fathom line
from his pack, secured the line to a rock and
threw the other end to the men below. Us-
t and Jim Witton, left, at Morod's cabin on the Barnacle claims N.W. of
ing the rope they hauled themselves up
through the clefts and cracks of the great
peak. On the smooth, steep roof of Conuma,
Morod removed his boots and socks and finished the climb in bare feet. From this wonderful vantage point he looked down on the
islands and inlets that formed the birthplace
of British Columbia, his new home. He had
met the challenge and the job for which he
came was an anticlimax.
On the peak the men considered themselves seasoned mountaineers but, descending, they started down the wrong way. Then
the surveyor had his own ideas. It was impossible to reach base camp by nightfall. A
campfire was built on the mountain but there
was no food or water. The men huddled
about the fire while Andy took a single blanket from his pack, bedded down on boughs
and slept soundly.
Conuma Peak most certainly had never
been climbed by a white man. He never again
climbed Conuma although he built a prospector's cabin nine miles up Conuma River.
Eventually he flew past the peak in an
airplane and took a photo; the little snapshot was a treasure in his collection.
The government survey resulted in the first
chart of Nootka Sound, covering the area
from Sydney Inlet to Tahsis Inlet.
Conuma received the label "conspicuous".
Few changes have been made since 1933.
Today the road from Tahsis to Gold River
skirts the site of Chief Clewpaneloo's village.
Morod became a successful trapper. He
averaged 35 marten per season, some raccoon
and mink and five or six
otter. Beaver were a protected species but once
when the beaver population was high he obtained a special permit;
in spring he proudly
came out with 19 skins.
Marten sold for $20 during the Depression and
eventually rose to $50.
Otter fetched between
$20 and $25; otter, although plentiful, were
difficult to trap. Encompassing 160 square miles,
the trapline was the largest on Vancouver Island.
His licence was renewed each year until he
relinquished the trapline
in 1955. Gamewarden
Adam Monk had never seen animals better
skinned nor a camp as clean. Morod burned
his garbage, including tin cans. He buried
the cans or sank them in the lake. No smell
of food remained and although his cabin on
Muchalat Lake was near the bears' trail linking the Gold and Nimpkish rivers, bears were
not a concern until logging started; other
people were not as careful with their garbage.
One fall after logging began, he arrived at
Muchalat Lake to find a bear had torn a hole
in the roof of the cabin. Once inside the animal proceeded to feast on tinned food, puncturing one tin after another. The bear
unscrewed the top from a jar of raisins, ate
the raisins, and sampled some deer tallow
candles. Fortunately for Mr. Bear, he did not
touch the little metal box of blasting caps.
The droppings on the trail revealed that the
candles did not agree with him.
A wolverine once raided his traps, biting
the animals off by the leg. To Andy's relief,
the animal did not return; trappers had had
to abandon traplines for wolverines. Although he hated the animal he admired its
The natural environment enthralled him,
the birds and the animals he trapped. Living
in pristine conditions sharpened his own
senses. He said that he could smell cougar,
for example, in the forest.
In 1934 at the east end of Muchalat Lake
he built a 10' x 16' cabin of fir and hemlock
logs, with a stone fireplace. But still a greenhorn, he forgot to check the high water mark
and built too close to the lake. The result
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 was devastating. He was flooded out several
times that winter. He then had to move the
Snow fell heavily that winter and he was
unable to leave until late. His deer eaten, he
lived for the last few weeks on trout, boiled
or smoked; he was nearly out of lard. At the
end he was thoroughly sick of trout.
In spite of the difficulties, trapping was
good. He hiked out in spring with a pack of
skins, travelling on snowshoes for a distance
and having to remove the snowshoes at every
creek. The trek to the beach took four days.
Then the weather was unsettled and it took
two days to reach Nootka, rowing by night
when the inlets were calm. The police and
gamewarden had given him up for dead and
Arthur Park tried to conceal his concern as
he greeted him.
"Humph! I thought for sure you were
"We don't die as easy as that!"
"One of these days there's going to be a
search party for you!"
"I don't want no search party. If I don't
come back, forget about me!"
There had been an astonishing three feet
of snow at Friendly Cove and six feet at Port
Andy Morod, like a number of solitary
trappers and prospectors, contemplated the
meaning of life. First he was a Christian Scientist. But Christian Scientists believed in
self-healing, and after he injured his back
packing a deer carcass for several miles, and
after his back continued troublesome in spite
of six months of chiropractic treatment, he
turned to Swedenborg. Swedenborg was a
prestigious 18th century Swedish scientist
who undertook the study of theology. Morod
began a lifelong study of the writings of
He formed partnerships with other prospectors, learning from old-timers. He obtained textbooks on geology and subscribed
to mining magazines; he planned one day to
strike it rich. Alternately trapping in winter
and prospecting in summer, his mining career was eventually devoted to the Barnacle
claims near Zeballos which he staked in 1938
during the Zeballos gold boom. He never lost
faith in the Barnacle, working the claims until
he was 75 and could no longer hike up the
During the gold boom 1200 people lived
in the Zeballos area. Four mines operated
with mills, others shipped ore to the smelter
at Tacoma, Washington. The Privateer be
came known as B.C.'s "wonder" mine.
Zeballos was too rowdy for Morod who
did not drink liquor. Zeballos had three hotels, a bank, several stores and restaurants,
two taxi companies and two airline offices.
There was a sawmill, a Chinese laundry and
bakery, a Catholic church, a steambath and
numerous bootlegging establishments. A
whorehouse operated by a French madam
was located between the town and the mines.
The rainfall at Zeballos was measured by
the manager ofthe Canadian Bank of Commerce. The 1939 precipitation amounted to
223.74 inches.
Andy Morod's Barnacle claims were located some seven miles northwest ofthe village, on the steep mountainside above the
Zeballos River. Here, at the 2280-foot elevation, on the west side of Lime Creek, he built
a cabin in the timber. He was very proud of
his spectacular view ofthe multiple peaks of
Rugged Mountain.
He discovered several gold quartz veins on
the Barnacle and in 1938 prepared a shipment for the Tacoma Smelter. The terrain was
so steep that he tied himself to a tree to begin stripping. When one and one-half tons
of ore was ready, he hired a fellow prospector
to help pack it out.
He had met Jack Crosson, a seaman and
sounder aboard the hydrographic survey scow
Pender, in 1933, while preparing to climb
Conuma Peak; the men became lifelong
friends. Morod and Jack Crosson
backpacked the ore down Lime Creek to a
packhorse trail which led to the Zeballos
River. Horses then carried the ore across a
suspension bridge to the road which followed
the river five miles to Zeballos. The men carried the ore in 90-pound packs for a distance
of about one and three-quarter miles, climbing down a ladder at one point. There was
no trail, it was raining, yet each man made
two trips per day; Andy suggested a third but
Jack refused.
The shipment averaged 3.13 ounces of
gold per ton. A happy Andy resumed work
and attempted to sell the claims. But
the Second World War was advancing; there
were no buyers. Disappointed, he continued
to hand-drill adits and to prospect.
During the gold boom he became friendly
with a couple, Doug and Helen Gordon at
Zeballos. The Gordons had a photography
business and Doug was also employed as a
miner. The Gordon marriage was coming to
an end and Andy fell in love with Helen.
Helen had other admirers and did not en
courage him, but undaunted he made a gift
for her with gold from the Barnacle.
With a knife he scratched out a heart-
shaped mold in a chunk of calcite. He melted
gold in a crucible in his forge and poured
the gold into the heart-mold. After the gold
cooled he removed it and filed and sanded
and rubbed it. The result was a little heart
which Helen could wear as a necklace.
Pleased, he presented it to her.
"Now, remember, you'll never get another
one like this! Because the guy found the gold,
he mine it, then he goldsmith it. There's only
one pair of hands touch that gold!"
Helen and Doug Gordon separated during the War and Andy wrote to her asking
her to marry him. She refused. She confessed
she'd lost her necklace, left it in a hotel room.
When she returned for it, it was gone.
Selling the Barnacle claims proved impossible. Gold was pegged at $35 per ounce after the War. The Barnacle was small and
inaccessible. Andy continued to mine but
made no further shipments. There were other
disappointments. The Lucky Strike, located
up Lime Creek, did not live up to its name.
Pioneer Gold Mines Ltd. optioned the property, undertook surface work and dropped
the option.
He was inexperienced in optioning claims
and dealing with lawyers and more than once
came out second best.The biggest disappointment of his life involved not gold but
iron. Bodies of magnetite, among the world's
most pure, lay exposed on the Barnacle and
surrounding area. Anyox Metals Ltd. wished
to purchase the claims. Two claim-holding
groups were involved: Morod and partners
and Alan Ford and partners. Alan Ford of
Parksville was a construction contractor at
While Morod was trapping at Muchalat
Lake in 1938, his two partners signed an
agreement with Anyox Metals Ltd. When
he returned to Zeballos they urged him to
sign. Unrepresented by a lawyer, he signed.
The enormity of the mistake was not realized until later. Alan Ford's lawyer earned
his client a small fortune while Andy received
less than $5000. The magnetite claims became a full-fledged mine in the 1960s.
It was enough to take a trip to Europe and
South America, though, and to bring back
gifts for his friends; this was his only trip
home to Switzerland. While in Italy he took
mud bath treatments for arthritis.
His friends worried about his health. Four
times he trekked into the rugged backbone
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 1961 -Jim Witton, left, pulverizes a chunk ofgold-i
with mortar & pestle while Andy Morod waits to pan
Barnacle claims N. W. of Zeballos.
of Vancouver Island, divulging neither his
destination nor his date of return. On one
trek he was away for two weeks without a
tent or sleeping bag. On cold nights he dug
a coffin-sized trench in a gravel bar and built
a fire in the trench. When the fire burned
down, he removed the coals and placed a layer
of boughs in the bottom. He crawled in and
slept, chest and throat covered with his jacket.
A damp bed and not recommended for one
with arthritis. Unfortunately he had an "image" to maintain. He scorned men who
would not venture out without a tent and
heavy packs. When he suffered an accident
he treated himself, not trusting doctors.
Mining stopped during the Second World
War and Zeballos faded. The Privateer reopened in 1945 for three years. Logging
began and Nootka Sound hummed to the
tune ofthe chain saw; some miners returned
and became loggers. As Andy Morod's reputation spread, strangers on the street would
greet him as a friend. The shy man talked
easily with youngsters; eventually most children at Zeballos considered him a friend.
It was a rare treat to be invited to visit Andy
Morod at the Barnacle and to overnight with
him. Gradually, his influence on a new generation was evident: one boy became a geologist, another a part-time trapper. Most
began to use Morod's habits when camping
and hiking.
After the War Morod used air transportation, chartering in and out of Muchalat Lake
until he relinquished the trapline in 1955.
That final spring, two friends from Zeballos
it out. At the
accompanied the pilot to col-
lea him and his skins, airlines
agent Dorothy Sutton and Lars
Omenas, a logger. After 21
seasons it was a momentous
occasion. One might say it
called for a drink. Although
Andy Morod did not drink alcohol, he had a bottle of Australian rum under his bunk.
After several years there was
still an ounce or two.
"I would mix it with peanut
butter," he explained to the
pilot. "And then I would smear
the tree, and that scent drawed
the animal to my trap, because
a strange scent." The pilot
laughed heartily, then he and
Lars Omenas polished off the
As the years passed, he
adopted by mail a Korean orphan, sending money to Korea. He began
wintering on the drier east coast of the Island. In 1970 logging roads linked Zeballos
to the outside and he bought a pickup truck.
When away from home, though, he could
hardly drink the water.
After Helen Gordon turned him down he
always professed to be a woman-hater. Ironically, some of his greatest friends were
women. We listened as he railed against government policies, decried the rape of natural
resources and warned ofthe decline of civilization. By age 75 he was so incensed with
government that he refused to vote.
Towards the end, he reflected on his life.
There were incidents he would have preferred
to miss, there were unfortunate mistakes. But
on the whole he was content. In Nootka
Sound he was an authority on wilderness
survival; his trapping and prospecting methods were followed by others. Most important, the need to protect the environment was
recognized and he, Andy Morod, had furthered this recognition in Nootka Sound. He
said that he cherished his experiences. He
was proud to have been "different".
He became immobilized by arthritis. He
began to suffer dizzy spells and feared a stroke
was imminent. On November 22,1983, age
82, he ended his life, shooting himself cleanly
with his rifle at his cabin below the Barnacle.
We, his friends, were not surprised.
In his will he left exquisite gold samples to
the Royal British Columbia Museum. At his
request he was cremated and his ashes scattered by airplane along Rugged Mountain at
a specified elevation, an elevation from which
the Barnacle could be seen forever.
Bio Note: Eleanor Witton Hancock grew up at
Zeballos where ber parents owned a general
store. She is a substitute teacher and a writer
in Kamloops, also editor of die Kamloops Museum newsletter.
Sources: Interview with Andy Morod, 1982.
Zeballos Miner Newspapers, 1940.
Walbran, Captain John T. British Columbia Coast
Names 1592-1906 Their Origin & History.
J.J. Douglas Ltd., Vancouver, 1971.
Pack your saddlebags and head up the Gold-
rush Trails to Caesar's Inn in Williams Lake
for the BC Historical Federation's annual conference April 25-28,1996. Highlights of this
northern adventure include a bus trip to Likely
and historic Quesnelle Forks, a unique
Cariboo program featuring a slide show about
Barkerville and the Cariboo by noted author
Bronwen Patenaude and a lecture on the history of ranching from rancher Tim Bayliff and
much, much more.
The festivities begin on Thursday, April 25
with a steak dinner at the Seniors' Activity
Centre. Tickets for this dinner, that includes
a sirloin steak, baked potato, salad, vegetables and dessert are $10.00. An evening reception at the nearby Museum of the
Cariboo-Chilcotin beginning at 7:00 pm will
offer delegates the opportunity to sample more
Cariboo history and hospitality. Several authors of local histories will be in attendance
to sign books and discuss their works.
The following day, Friday, is a busy one with
the workshops on acquisition and processing
artifacts as well as researching, writing and
publishing local histories. Both workshops will
be led by noted professionals in their field.
Information about these workshops may be
obtained by contacting Melva Dwyer at (604)
535-3041 fax or phone. For those wanting an
optional activity on Friday, a walking tour of
downtown Williams Lake and the Station
House Art Gallery will be offered.
Saturday's agenda includes the unique
Cariboo program mentioned above, the Annual General Meeting and an Awards Banquet. We will be entertained by Richard
Wright as well as the Patenaude Family Singers.
Sunday will begin bright and early with the
bus tour to Likely and Quesnelle Forks that
will return to Williams Lake by 4:30 pm. It
promises to be an exciting and busy three days.
Bring your camera, warm clothing and walking shoes. Conference packages will be mailed
out by March 1.
All history buffs are welcome. For more information, contact Lori Hudson-Fish at (604)
398-5825 or write to 589 Ninth Ave.,
Williams Lake, BC V2G 2K5.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Hydro Electric Power in Gray Creek
by C. WM. Burge
A veteran of both the
South African and the First
World War, my father James
McKay Burge sought post
war tranquillity and prosperity when in 1920 he forsook
city life and moved the family up to a partially developed orchard property in the
remote Kootenay Lake settlement of Gray Creek.
Throughout the 1920's,
however, tranquillity and
prosperity remained elusive
as my father struggled to
wrest a living out ofthe fruit
growing business. By 1929
he was well grounded in the
school of necessity being the
mother of invention. Accordingly, when he decided
to ameliorate living conditions by installing
hydro-electric power, he did not consult an
engineering supply catalogue, but rather
looked about to see what might be picked
up locally to bring about electrification.
The 1929 stock market crash may have
assisted my father in his quest, since many of
the mines on the north shore of Kootenay
Lake had shut down in the face of financial
panic, leaving a copious miscellany of mining equipment idle. Father teamed up with a
partner, Roy MacGregor, to obtain some two
to three thousand feet of six inch steel pipe
which had probably been used to supply air
to a mine located near Ainsworth or Kaslo.
The pipe was stowed on the main deck of
the C.P.R. sternwheeler Moyie for delivery
to the Gray Creek wharf. My first memory
ofthe winter arrival ofthe pipe at our home
"Caribou Ranch" was of the trips back and
forth to the wharf made by bob sleigh drawn
by our team of horses, Donald and Mab.
Much ofthe preparatory work for the hydro-electric project had already been carried
out. The water source, Croasdaile Creek,
flowed in a deep ravine in its higher reaches.
A dam was built at a high enough elevation
to supply the head for the pipe line. With
great difficulty a ditch was constructed to
allow the water to flow with very little loss of
elevation, out to the lip of the ravine where
The Burge family home on Caribou Ranch at Gray Creek c. 1930.
Photo courtesy the author
it entered an improvised tank, a wood stave
barrel, at the base of which was fitted the top
end ofthe pipe line. This is where the water
started its journey under pressure down some
seven to eight hundred feet with a vertical
drop of some two hundred and twenty five
feet. The pipe had to be bent to follow the
contours of the ground. With no sophisticated bending equipment at hand, improvisation was the only solution. Where the pipe
projected over the brow of a hill a fire was lit
under the pipe at the point of the required
bend. When heated to a cherry red, weight
was put on the projected end ofthe pipe forcing the malleable heated section to bend to
fit the ground. In a similar way where the
pipe crossed a dip in the ground a fire was
built at the position of the required bend.
With sufficient heat the pipe would sag to
fit the contour of the ground. These procedures were dramatic enough to become
etched in the memory of my six year old
At the business end of this pipeline, the
product, a relatively small volume of water
under approximately one hundred and ten
pounds per square inch of static pressure, was
converted into useful power by forcing the
water through a nozzle aimed at cups
mounted on the perimeter of a pelton wheel.
The pelton wheel was mounted on a shaft
fitted on each side of the
wheel with bearings. These
bearings were also hand
made by placing each half of
the shaft in turn within an
iron shell some five or six
inches long. Each of these
half shells was then filled
with molten babbitt. These
two halves were brought together and after some preparation became the bearing
within which the shaft
turned. Each of these bearings in turn were mounted
on cedar logs approximately
eighteen inches in diameter,
firmly placed in the ground
to form a secure foundation
for the installation. The logs
were shaped to receive the
mountings ofthe bearings and also to facilitate the construction of a box over the pelton
wheel. The whole family was present for the
occasion ofthe start up ofthe pelton wheel.
The six inch pipe had been reduced first to a
two inch diameter pipe for some four feet
and then down to a three quarter inch pipe
some one inch long that formed the nozzle
which just cleared, and was aimed at the spinning cups ofthe pelton wheel. This series of
reducing pipes was an improvised alternative
to a properly designed nozzle which reduces
the large pipe an evenly tapered reduction
down to the desired size of nozzle. The water
had been directed into the intake - the pipeline had been filled - the pressure gauge registered one hundred and ten pounds. The
valve positioned in the section ofthe two inch
pipe was opened and the water hit the cups
of the pelton wheel spinning it to make a
watery pin wheel of centrifugal water - it was
The pelton wheel was framed in a wooden
box open underneath to allow the spent water, the tail race, to flow away. Rotating power
was transferred by way of a belt driven by a
pulley mounted on the shaft of the pelton
wheel to the pulley mounted on the shaft of
a dynamo. The dynamo, also obtained from
some mining venture that had fallen idle in
the faltering 1929 economy, was a patent
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 antique, even by the standards ofthe 1930s.
The word dynamo is short for "dynamo-electric-machine", a machine designed to convert rotating mechanical
power into electric energy.
Ours stood some two feet
high and was outstanding for
its two coils wound with insulated copper wire around
the two arms of its soft iron
core, the base of which was
formed to create a tunnel.
These two coils created the
magnetic field in the tunnel
where the armature, itself
consisting of further coils of
copper wire, rotated to create an electric current by forcing the copper coils across the
magnetic field. The electric
current was drawn off from
the armature by way of the
commutator. The commutator allowed the electricity to
be transferred from the rotating armature on to static carbon brushes connected to the
wires that carried the constant flow of direct current.
Power lines were then built
to carry the electricity to the house and to
the barn. The copper wire used was of a gauge
large enough to supply a small town.
It, like the pipe, had been obtained at distress prices; the fact that it was very much
oversize was of a minor consideration. The
wire was safely strung on poles twenty feet
above the ground. The house was wired in
the standard of the time- called "knob and
tube" - parallel holes were drilled through
studs and joists and a porcelain tube inserted
- the positive wire through one tube and the
negative wire through the adjacent tube.
Within the house there were two unshaded
light bulbs on drop cords in the living room
and two in the kitchen. There were no
switches, once the dynamo was started and
the water flow increased until the voltage
meter reached one hundred and ten volts,
there was light throughout the house. The
load was constant. If, however, one light
burned out, the dynamo increased speed with
the lightened load and the voltage climbed.
In the event the voltage went up high enough
the remaining lights would burn out and the
dynamo would race at hectic speed, causing
a mad dash to the plant to shut down the
flow of water to the pelton wheel. Needless
to say the old naphtha filled gas light that
hung in the centre of the dining room remained in place. The kerosene wick lamps,
chimneys polished, wicks trimmed, were kept
filled. The beginning of hydro electric power
trie current from our system, the new radio,
by way of transformers and converters resulted in significant savings for our household.
Water power also enabled us to deal more efficiently with the cutting of
fire wood, the fuel required
to feed the insatiable cooking and heating stoves in
our house.
Prior to the installation
of the pipeline, the sawing
of wood was done by a
crosscut saw mounted on
an "A" frame. The "A"
The Pelton Wheel used for creating electricity for the Burge home during the 1930's.
Photo courtesy the author
brought many outages. On occasions the
light bulbs would slowly dim and finally go
right out. We recognized the cause: there was
no water in the pipeline. When I was a little
older this became my problem. Flashlight in
hand I would climb the pipeline trail to the
intake, the cause usually being debris that had
completely choked the screen at the entrance
to the wood stave tank. This was easily cleared
and the lights would be burning by the time
I returned to the house. When the system
first went into service the ditch carrying the
water along the bank of the ravine had not
stabilized, so the occasional washout would
occur, allowing all ofthe water to escape back
to Croasdaile Creek. These washouts involved
major repair jobs and a protracted return to
the gas mantle lamp.
Our system was versatile. It had the capability of charging six-volt lead storage batteries, thus enabling us to change the way
our radios were powered. The early radios
were powered by three dry type "C" batteries each of forty-five volts output. When positioned in series they powered the grids of
the vacuum tubes at one hundred and thirty-
five volts. The filaments were powered with
a six-volt dry "A" battery. Powered by a single lead storage battery, charged by an elec-
frame was designed to
swing from the top of the
"A" similar to the action of
a pendulum. The length of
the pendulum was the diameter of the circle of
which the teeth ofthe saw,
the arc, formed the segment. As the "A" frame
swung back and forth the
saw could be lowered so
that the teeth of the saw
maintained a steady cutting
action on the log being
sawed. This device was originally driven by a
gas engine with one horizontal cylinder that
was encased in a water jacket designed to cool
the engine. The gas engine would operate at
about one hundred revolutions per minute
which were reduced by a system of pulleys
and a belt to drive a crank shaft that provided some fifty strokes a minute for the saw.
The engine was replaced by a pelton wheel
which gave a quiet satisfactory power to the
saw. My job was to operate the valve that
supplied the water to the pelton wheel. As
the saw was lowered into the cut I opened
the valve to full flow as the cut was in
progress. It took two or three minutes, depending on the size ofthe log, to finish the
cut. Occasionally my mind would wander
and as the saw finished cutting I'd forget to
close the valve. As with the dynamo without
the load of the light bulbs, the saw would
run wild, nearly shaking itself to pieces as
my father shouted his instructions to SHUTDOWN.
After my father's death in a motor vehicle
accident in 1934, my mother's youngest
brother, Charles Jones came from England
to help manage the fruit ranch. Uncle Charlie
was a tool maker, and he brought with him
many innovative ideas. The first was to bal-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 ance the number of kilowatts to light the
home with the kilowatt capacity of a heating
element for the hot water tank. Hot water
was then available in the summer time without the sweltering heat of the fire in the
kitchen range. In the evening when the lights
were required the hot water element was
switched off and the lights switched on. My
troubling job of coordinating the water flow
for cutting wood was eliminated by a remote
control device to enable the saw operator to
turn on the water as he lowered the saw into
the log and to stop it when the cut was finished.
The next innovation was carried out while
I was away during the war. The pipeline was
extended to give greater water pressure and
therefore more power. The objective was to
install a shingle mill. A larger diameter pelton
wheel was required. Uncle Charlie's tool
making experience gave him the experience
to come up with a plan and then to execute
it. The old circular saw used to cut fire wood
had a fly wheel about twenty-four inches in
diameter. This fly wheel was to be converted
into a pelton wheel. The cups ofthe pelton
wheel were fabricated by splitting two-inch
lengths of an inch and one half galvanized
water pipe in half. These were joined to form
a double cap with angle iron closing the ends.
The cups were attached to the fly wheel by
two pieces of angle iron and each braced
against the impact ofthe water by two thin
strips of steel cut from barrel hoops. The in-
ertial energy ofthe fly wheel in tangent with
the power of the water jet carried the saw
through a cut necessary to produce a shin
gle. The trimmer saw operated at high speed
with only its teeth above the table created an
invisible danger. My brother Jim was the first
and only victim when he carelessly put his
hand on the table and looked down to see
the top joint of his little finger disappear. This
power source was later used to operate a lumber mill, but the power was not sufficient to
carry the saw cut through the length of a saw
log. The cut proceeded through the log in
starts and stops. Nevertheless a good quantity of lumber was sawn, as speed of production did not become a factor until after World
War II when an industrial gasoline powered
engine was coupled to a more sophisticated
saw mill capable of producing six or seven
thousand board feet in a day. The same crew
logged the trees and operated the saw mill;
the venture never became an integrated operation. There was an aversion to building
up a work force when the market was still
Our hydro-electric plant might have
worked on forever, but in the 1950s with the
need for more power at Cominco's Sullivan
Mine at Kimberley, a mighty hydro-electric
power grid was built connecting the generating plants on the lower Kootenay River to
the East Kootenay power system at Kimberley. The power line ran north along the west
shore of Kootenay Lake to a point immediately north of Coffee Creek, with a span
across the main lake to supply power to the
Bluebell Mine at Riondel. The line then travelled south along the east shore of the lake
and up the valley of Gray Creek to the divide and down Redding Creek and so to
Kimberley. The power was also extended
south to complete electrification ofthe whole
east shore of Kootenay Lake. Our dynamo
was retired in favour of the standard alternating current that operates most appliances.
We decided nevertheless to proceed with our
plans to construct a walk-in deep freeze refrigerator. I now had a hand in helping to
build this useful convenience. A wood frame
building was constructed some fourteen feet
square and ten feet high with a shake roof
(the shingle mill had long since departed).
The inside walls of this building were made
vapour proof by applying several layers of
waterproof paper glued in place with tar. Inside this building a box was constructed some
six feet square and six and one half feet high
to the end that there was an eighteen inch
space all around this box. This space was filled
with wood shavings from a planer mill mixed
with some lime to discourage any unwanted
growth. A passage and double doors were
constructed to insulate the inside from any
outside heat. Cooling coils installed and a
compressor coupled to a small pelton wheel
compressed and thus heated the refrigerant
gas which was then cooled in the tail race of
the pelton wheel. The cooled compressed gas
was fed into coils in the freezer where it expanded and reduced the temperature well
below zero Fahrenheit. We had a working
deep freezer which may well be in use today.
Bio Note: "Bill" Burge grew up in Gray Creek,
served in die RCAF in WWII, studied at U. of
Alberta and UBC He practiced law until recently
and now enjoys retirement in North Vancouver.
the well known General Merchant    18     pleased to make
announcement that he carries all kind* of Merchandise and just received the
stock of fishing tackle, the new kind with    affinity    adjustment—bound to
bite—can't drop off. Some saalous competitor might  call  biro  a
but Fred Roo is happy
knowing that be bas a reputation in
for veracity which is worth more to bin than untold gold
An example of early advertising with a humorous twist. This ad appeared in the Cranbrook and Southeast Directory of 1911.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 When It Was Easy To Go Teaching
by Bernard C. Gillie
June 1926 was a "banner year"
for me - I had completed my
"teacher training" at Victoria
Normal School during that year
and also one year at Victoria College toward my degree. My wings
were ready to start the long journey toward retirement in about
50 years. Armed with a first class
teaching certificate and an
"Honors Standing" from Normal
School, how could I miss! If you'll
stay with me for ten or twenty
pages I'll tell you how easy it was!
Let's go back a bit first. I was
a farm boy born and brought up
on a dairy farm outside Victoria.
My good luck was that I had a
mother and father who supported and encouraged me from
a one roomed school - Strawberry
Vale - to June 1926 as noted
above. They were angels to me
because they were always there
when I wanted to quit which I
threatened occasionally. From
Dad's Scottish background they
really believed an education made
men - or women - as the case
might be. I had a brother who
graduated as an Engineer from
UBC and a sister who completed
a business programme. My sister was my favourite person and
my brother was my tireless example or maybe "tiresome". After four years
overseas in the First World War and now a
Master's Degree in Engineering "he" stood
for everything I felt I could do without. All
that on top of my Dad's blindness, and his
terrible struggle to keep us fed and clothed,
was rather daunting, for a farm boy who
didn't know where he was going. At least I
had some superb examples of what a young
man should be.
So, to begin, I decided to apply for a teaching position in BC. Fifty-seven applications
later, without even one reply didn't provide
much encouragement. Someone suggested
I pay a visit to Mr. Watson at the Department of Education who seemed to be worshipped by every teacher I knew. Off I went
Route taken to my first school.
to the "Buildings" and asked if I could talk
to Mr. Watson, the Teacher's Registrar. His
opening words were a wonder to my ears,
"Good morning, Mr. Gillie, I've been waiting to see you! I notice that you have an
"Honors Standing" from the Normal School.
Have you found a job yet?" Those words and
the manner that went with them turned me
into a teacher on the spot. For better or worse,
I vowed then and there to become a "real"
teacher no matter what. Looking back now
after a lifetime in Education I realize that I
simply couldn't ever fail Mr. Watson. All I
can say is that I never stopped trying because
here was a man who believed in me, almost
without knowing me.
We talked - man to man - something that
I found erased my fears of failure. If my work as a teacher and
principal for half a century has
made any contribution to my
profession, then Mr. Watson
should be thanked! He told me
that there was a school at Hutton
Mills which needed a teacher.
That if I would send them my
58th application, he would put
in a word for me. I did and lo!
back came an offer of the job.
The whole world took on a rosy
glow - my feet were on the bottom rung.
Needless to say there were difficulties to overcome but for
some reason they didn't seem very
important. One of the first was
the fact that Hutton Mills was a
long way from Victoria and I had
no money at all and I couldn't
possibly ask Mother and Dad for
help since I knew they had even
less. Dad reminded me that he
hauled wood for a neighbour
who was in the business of supplying firewood for our community. "Perhaps", Dad said, "you
could get a job splitting fresh cut
fir for this chap." Off I went to
the wood lot, talked to the "chap"
and was delighted to get the job
of splitting the wood that he cut
from a fine stand of fir. After a
long period on a farm, I was on excellent
terms with an axe and the techniques of splitting firewood. At least I thought I was. I
reported for work the next day along with
my axe. "What's that for?" says the Boss.
"Nobody with any sense uses one for splitting freshly cut fir - What you need is a splitting'maul'. Here's one you can use!" Incase
you are as ignorant of such matters as I was -
a splitting maul is like a sledge hammer except one side is sharpened like an axe. There
the similarity ends. It weighs 8-10 lbs. and
splitting large blocks is really quite easy after
rhe first couple of days. He showed me the
technique and, believe me, it is that easy. I
was surrounded by a large stack of fresh cut
fir, that was to be split into large sections that
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BernardC Gillie, 1926. Hutton Mills staff bouse.
All photos courtesy the author
had to be split into smaller pieces for the
stoves in most houses. I was glad I knew how
to handle the maul after a few experiments
and found it really was
quite easy. Incidentally, I
was to be paid $1.10 per
cord stacked as I worked. It
was really a very pleasant
experience and that kind of
money was really pretty
generous. One day, I split
and stacked six cords, pocketed my $6.60 and arrived
home feeling like the luckiest worker in the place. I
could just feel the $250 I
needed to get to Hutton.
After about six weeks I had
my money and felt strong
enough to lick my weight in wildcats. Further to that, Mother and Dad were proud of
me and said so!
So where was Hutton Mills and how could
I get there? A little geographical research provided an answer to both questions. The Canadian National Railway office found it on
their northern BC line from Jasper to Prince
Rupert, about halfway between Jasper and
Prince George. To get there I should take the
C.N. train from Vancouver to Red Pass Junction in Jasper National Park, transfer there
to the train from Edmonton to Prince
Rupert. That way I could get off at Hutton
Mills about 75 miles east of Prince George.
There was a train once a day and I would
have to wait at Red Pass for several hours for
the Rupert train to pick me up. So far so good
but what is there at Hutton Mills? About 900
people - a large lumber mill owned and operated by the United Grain Growers and six
feet of snow in January. You're wondering
why the Grain Growers had a lumber mill
about 1,000 miles from the grain fields of
the Prairies. Join the club! So did I; and even
a year later I wasn't at all sure. As a farm boy,
even I knew, that wheat didn't need a sawmill to harvest it. Something to do with supplying the farmers of Saskatchewan with
lumber to build elevators, sounded reasonable.
My wood splitting wages covered the cost
of trains, meals and one night's sleep. I'm sure
the C.N. travel agent went to bed chuckling
that night; I was so green, I'm sure he felt
that they could use me in a lumber mill -
green lumber!
Mother, bless her heart, made a list of what
I'd need for the coming year, even including
a large leather trunk. Time proved her about
100% right. She wanted to know, what I
would wear to school, where I would sleep,
how would I get my meals, who would do
Red Pass Junction Hotel, where I had breakfast.
my washing, and what would I do in the evenings. She drew a blank on the answers, so
we tried using our imaginations and common sense in that order.
Frankly, I was terrified and
lay awake a few nights in a
total panic. Time went by
as it has a habit of doing
and when the last day at
home came I was past worrying. When the last day at
"home" came, it finally
dawned on me that life as
I'd known it for 19 years
was at an end. Everything I
knew so well on the farm
suddenly had a value that
was unfamiliar. So this is
growing up - nothing will ever be quite the
same again. Fortunately Mother and Dad
were not the "panicky" types. They understood, I guess, what I was going through, and
treated the whole affair as natural as breathing, or I'm sure I'd never have boarded the
Vancouver boat. The trip over was such a new
experience. I forgot to be lonely and arrived
with things under control. "Take a taxi to
the C.N. Station" they said. Sure enough,
there was a taxi at the door ofthe C.P.R. dock
so I walked over to it; the driver opened the
door, and off we went. "Where to, Sir", he
asked and I managed to remember "The
C.N. Station, please." I'd never been in a city
as large as Vancouver so that everything I saw
was a new experience. When we got to the
station, I even remembered to ask the driver
"how much" and to include an extra 25<t for
a tip. Dad had managed to get it into my
head that such was essential.
The railway station looked enormous, and
in a state of total confusion. Somehow I
found a ticket counter, showed my slip only
to be told that I'd have to wait three hours
before the train left. At last a chance to sit
down and watch the real world go by and to
figure out where I'd find a train by following
the crowd to the platform. I had a ticket for
an upper berth so a porter showed me the
right car and the right berth. My wits were
beginning to settle down so I sat and watched
what everyone else did. Finally "All aboard"
was announced and I could really join the
world going by.
Going to bed in an upper berth on a train
has to be experienced to be believed. I
crawled up the little ladder and found myself in a space adequate for a small dog but
not a 6' 19 year old. Taking off your clothes
while sitting on them presents certain difficulties I won't go into here - I even found the
little net for my clothes! Who was in the
berth below me, I knew not - except that he
Hutton Mills CN. Station.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 -]
m        i
Hutton Mills School - my first "Beginners" class.
snored till I fell asleep and probably much
Somewhere along the way I woke up to
find there was enough daylight to see the
mountains. I'd never seen real snowcapped
mountains so close before, and
for once I was amazed at their
beauty. Pictures I'd seen didn't
exaggerate a bit so I lay there
and marvelled at the magnificence. Soon who should give
me a shake but the porter who
told me in no uncertain tones
that I had twenty minutes to
get dressed and prepare to leave
the train. I'll leave you to imagine what I went through trying to find what I needed and
stuff the rest in my valise. He
who snored mumbled a few
"pleasantries" about people
who made such a disturbance at 5:30 am. I
know now how he felt!
Somehow, I got things together, only to
feel the brakes begin to scrape and finally
bring things to a stop. As I made my way to
the exit, the porter - bless his soul - pulled
my arm and said, "This is Red Pass Junction. The hotel won't open till 7:00 so you'll
have to amuse yourself for an hour or so before breakfast." I stepped off and found
myself alone - all alone - on the station platform. The office was closed so all I could do
was watch the last car disappear around a
curve. For the first time I realized what being alone was really like and I decided right
there that if this was teaching school in B.C.,
I'd try plumbing next year.
As I stood on the Red Pass Station platform and watched my train disappear, I suddenly realized I was surrounded by some of
the finest mountain scenery on the continent.
I'd seen pictures of it, of course, but do what
we will with cameras, they somehow fail to
move you like the real thing. I could feel the
massive surroundings;
trying to realize that here I
was a young
farm lad, all
alone and trying to make
myself realize
this had really
There in front
of me a magnificent lake
with a background of snow, ice, peaks and
forests such as I had never seen before. Suddenly I remembered one of our teachers at
Normal School telling about that very lake -
its name - Moose Lake. There must be doz-
Hutton Mills - my first school
ens of them with that name across Canada
but it stuck in my mind that this was one of
the sources ofthe Fraser System. I've seen it
many times since but it never fails to make
the prickles stand up on my neck. It makes
me proud of being a Canadian. Sounds silly
I guess but there it is! I walked down the railroad track for half a mile or so - caught a
glimpse of Mt. Robson and stood in wonder. If this is going teaching in B.C. - I'll
withdraw my thought of trying plumbing.
I found the hotel close to the station and
read the notice saying that breakfast was
served at 7:00 am. Come 7:00 and there I
was on the doorstep trying the door which
opened to a neat and inviting dining room.
Someone showed me to a table and there I
was the sole occupant. I enjoyed a good
breakfast with one eye on my watch since
the train for Prince Rupert was due shortly.
Made my way back to the station complete
with valise and still wondering if my trunk
which I had shipped from Victoria would
actually find its way to Hutton Mills. A train
whistle in the distance and along with a few
other passengers I climbed aboard. Luck was
with me, for there was an empty seat alongside an attractive young lady who looked as
lost as I was. We soon got into conversation
and it turned out that the lady was also a
teacher - a beginner - going to a place called
Aleza Lake which turned out to be two stations past Hutton. She, too, was from Victoria so we had much in common and time
flew by as the train headed west along the
Upper Fraser River. Aleza Lake was another
lumber town only larger than Hutton and I
made several visits there during the winter.
No - no romance - just a very pleasant friend
in a land where friends for me were rare.
The trip along the Upper Fraser River was
really pleasant - beautiful country-side some
animal life - moose and deer - and a few humans at each station that
looked like normal samples
that would be easy to like. As
we got close to Hutton I gathered my things together, said
good-bye to my companion
and stood at the coach door
waiting for the first glimpse of
To be quite honest, I was
feeling weak in the knees as the
train ground to a halt. Off I
got to find an almost deserted
platform - a large building -
obviously the "mill" - and one
ofthe largest lumber yards I'd
ever seen. There was a station agent waiting
to get a look at the new teacher and the company storekeeper whose job it was to take me
to the "Staff House". They were both very
pleasant and seemed anxious to make me welcome. I was delighted to see my teacher trunk
standing nearby and was told it had come
the day before. The storekeeper picked up
my bag and said he'd show me my room.
Now that made me feel gready relieved. I was
a member of the "staff" and my room was
already assigned! We walked along the track
about 100 yards to a building which had
never seen a paint brush - let alone paint. In
fact as I walked along I noticed that not one
building in the whole place had ever been
painted. I decided that the United Grain
Growers didn't believe in wasting money on
fancy frills like paint. The mill was running
and there seemed to be plenty of activity -
even to workmen running around on the logs
floating in the mill pond. I asked about the
huge piles of lumber and found that the saw
mill had burned down a year ago and only
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 the planer mill was still operating. My companion told me that they had cut almost all
their timber limits so were busy running the
cut lumber about 15 million board feet -
through the planer and when that was done
the whole place would be closed. Obviously
my teaching job was not going to last very
long. I just hoped it would keep the place
busy for another ten months. The storeman
assured me it would, so at least I'd get a year
of teaching and salary before they folded.
The "staff house" was anything but impressive but I kept my mouth shut. Inside it
turned out to be two storeys and while far
from fancy was very clean and tidy. We
walked down a corridor on the ground floor,
came to a closed door and my guide opened
it saying, "This is your room." Furnishings
were sparse - one cot, one small table and
one chair. Bed neat and clean, three hooks
on the wall, period. This was to be home for
at least 10 months.
As a parting shot, the chap who was showing me around said, "By the way, some of
the fellows who sleep in this staff house, claim
there are bed-bugs at large!" I'd often heard
about such things but hadn't given it much
thought. What does a bed bug look like? Do
they bite? Are they poisonous? What do you
use to get rid of them? etc, etc. I could never
tell my mother of this development. She
would order me home at once, and take the
whole matter up with the Minister of Education - and presto - guess who would be out
of a job? Discretion was better than valour, I
was sure, and my escort had only said that
"'Some people say there are bed-bugs in the
Staff House." Maybe it was just gossip! I'll
see what happens when I go to bed. Maybe
they don't like people from Victoria and will
leave me alone.
It was getting on toward supper time and
here comes my escort. He tells me that I'm
to get all my meals in the Company Cook
House, with the rest of the workmen; that
the meals are excellent and it will cost me
thirty-five dollars a month. Maybe this is just
another rumour like you know what. As we
talked someone came out ofthe Cook House
and started to beat a big heavy triangle with
a steel bar. "That's the call for supper", I'm
told, "I'll take you over and introduce you to
the cook and tell him you are the new teacher
for the school." Off we went to the open door
that said, "Cook House". On looking in I
could see very little, except two or three very
dim light bulbs and a sea of bodies at every
long table. My friend pointed to a very small
space and said, "That's where you are to sit."
The only thing to do was to force my way
between the two bodies in the space. Lo and
behold - they shifted a bit and I was able to
find room to sit down. I realized there was a
buzz of conversation, but not in English. I
tried that and all I got was a smile and an
empty plate. I expected someone to put
something on the plate, but it didn't happen. I realized that all the food was on a raised
shelf down the middle of the table. If you
wanted something and had a long reach, you
were lucky. So I waded in, found some meat
dish that looked really good and loaded my
plate. Presto! It was good and I decided that
my luck was improving. I found that no one
- but no one - passed anything. If you
couldn't reach it you went without. But everything looked excellent even in the dim light
and I soon found my appetite.
I tried making conversation but all I got
was a blank stare and I realized that no one
within hearing understood English. In fact
no one was even talking, so I kept my mouth
shut except to load in the food and wonder
how I'd feel after 10 months of this three
times a day.
However, my guardian angel was waiting
at the door as I left - if men are ever angels! A
young man well dressed and, I discovered,
well spoken, was waiting. He introduced
himself- said his name was "Smitty" - worked
in the Company office. I detected an English (old country) accent and couldn't help
but warm to his smile. He asked how I liked
the cookhouse meal, and I said the food was
excellent but the company was short on communication. He laughed and said he knew I
was the teacher and was probably feeling lost.
He said that three ofthe office staffhad their
meals in a private home and wondered if I
might like to join them - the cost was the
same as the "cook house" and the home surroundings were very pleasant. It took me
about 5 seconds to say I'd like the idea. So
Smitty invited me to go with him to meet
the family - a husband and wife and two small
children - and if they were agreeable, I could
start with breakfast next morning. I was delighted. The family name was Grogan, the
husband a lineman for the telegraph company and their home was in Pittsburg. From
there on life took on a different appearance
and I spent the next 10 months as a boarder
at "The Grogans". The house was about 30
yards from the school and they had a gramophone with a fine collection of Red Seal Recordings which I came to admire. As someone
said long ago - "You can't lose them all". I
knew my Mother would be relieved to know
I had a good home and a family to look after
That night - my first in the staff house -
kept me in a "stew" expecting to be bitten by
you know what! Spent a restful time once I
was sure the "creepy crawlies" didn't attack
me. In the morning - a Sunday before Labour Day and two days to get ready for the
first day in my first school.
Some young lads, about age 12 or so, came
looking for me - they'd heard the new teacher
had arrived - and offered to show me the
school. Like everything else in Hutton Mills,
it wasn't far away. There it was - weather
stained, no paint - and door unlocked. In
we went, and this time, I was sure I'd made a
horrible mistake. The boys explained that
the school was also the village hall - there
had been a dance on Friday night and the
janitor hadn't got around to it yet. If you
know what a dance was like in a saw mill
town in the B.C. Bush, I don't need to explain it. If you don't you wouldn't believe it
and I really can't describe it. I knew it was a
school because there were some desks among
the chaos. At this point my young friends
won my heart - even they were a bit dismayed
- but not daunted.
"We'll help you clean up, Mr. Gillie" they
said; and with the courage of desperation we
set to. About 30 hours later - 3:00 o'clock on
Labour Day to be exact - we had turned the
place into a classroom with desks, books,
supplies and a heavy deposit of dust to make
it look real. Without going into the depressing details, somehow on Tuesday morning
at 9:00 am, I rang the hand bell and 28
youngsters crowded through the doors and I
was able to start my first school. As was always the case, every classroom in B.C. had a
teacher - every teacher asked the youngsters
to stand - and we all recited the Lord's Prayer.
He must havs heard us, for from that moment on, I was a "teacher" - something I really didn't believe was possible. And further
more, I've never regretted it over all these
P.S. Yes there were many "bugs" referred
to above, but never once did I find one in
my room - which says something - though
I'm not sure what!
Bio Note: Bernard Gillie taught in several
schools, then returned to university, was very
active in teachers organizations becoming President ofthe B.C. Teachers Federation in 1944-
45. From 1962 to '72 he worked in the
Northwest Territories, first as a Superintendent of schools then Director of Education. He is
now happily retired in Victoria.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Spider Loom Ties
by WJ. Spat
No history ofthe necktie in Canada would be
complete without mention of Spider Loom Ties.
Once the standard of
necktie elegance for all of
Western Canada, Spider
Looms was begun in 1935
by Edgar Bollerup, a Danish immigrant who spun
a part-time passion for
weaving into successful
manufacturing business.
Having finished his
schooling at a Copenhagen agricultural college,
Bollerup emigrated to
Canada at the age of 22.
He first worked at Montreal General Hospital,
studying on his days off
with the well-known
Montreal hand weaver Karen Bulow. At that
time, Bulow was weaving curtains for the
fledgling airline company Trans Canada Airlines (later to become Air Canada). Bollerup
learned what he could from Bulow, then returned to Denmark to take a few supplementary courses in hand weaving at Copenhagen.
In 1935, equipped with a pair of hand
looms given to him by his parents, Ed
Bollerup came back to set up his looms in
rented premises at Stamford and Kingsway,
on Vancouver's eastern fringe. For the next
two years, under the name 'Spider Looms,'
Edgar Bollerup wove scarves, curtains, place
mats, table cloths, and anything else he could
get an order for.
Soon the webs of Spider Looms became
well enough known that Birks Jewellers
placed an order for twelve knotted table
cloths. "Now I had to get those table cloths
pressed and embroidered with numerals once
they were woven," explains Edgar Bollerup.
"For that, I went around the corner to a
Joyce Road dressmaking shop to see if they
could help me with the work. They could,
they did, and that's how I met my wife."
Dressmaker Dorothy Tuplin not only embroidered and pressed the Birks table cloths,
she cut and sewed a sample of cloth that
Edgar wove into eight neckties. Spider Loom
Spider Looms workshop on Kingsway in Vancouver 1937- 1952.
All pictures courtesy the Bollerup family.
Ties were born.
With the success of the Birks contract,
Edgar Bollerup was not only able to take
Dorothy out, he had enough money to move
into new premises at 3618 Kingsway. The
long-standing Kingsway structure had been
home to many businesses before Spider
Looms, but it was best known as 30-30 from
the days when it served as a road house to
travellers making the two-day journey between Vancouver and New Westminster.
30-30 proved to be the perfect location for
Spider Loom Ties, with the sides ofthe building being painted in enormous spider's webs
visible to all travellers up and down Kingsway.
In the window, a sizable cloth spider hung
upside down in its web. The Bollerups lived
above the shop on the second floor.
"It was a busy place," recalls Dorothy
Bollerup. "Each of the girls we had sewing
the ties had to take a 2 week apprenticeship
in the front room with me. It got so that when
Edgar and I had children, the babies wouldn't
sleep unless the sewing machines were running. People even wanted us to make spider
pin-cushions, like the big spider in the window."
"Skjold 'Sid' Andersen really got the tie
sales going," recalls Edgar Bollerup. "Sid was
an accountant and the Secretary at the Dan
ish Consulate. He set up
our books, and organized
the sales. So it was like a
three department business, with me doing the
cloth manufacturing and
finishing, Dorothy and
her girls doing the tie production, and Sid doing
the books and sales."
"The yarn came from
Newland Harding of
Guelph, Ontario. We
would sign a contract for
say 3000 lbs, and they
would just make up a
bunch of 232 yarn at 16
twist and leave it undyed.
We would phone in an order of so many pounds of
whatever colours we
wanted, depending what
was in fashion at that time. They would dye
it, and three weeks later, we would have the
yarn. It was up to whoever was on the loom
to make up the pattern. The finished cloth
was then washed in hot water, shrunk in cold,
and put on stretchers to dry," explains Ed
"Cutting the cloth into ties was a finicky
thing because if you didn't get the cloth ex-
acdy on the bias, the ties wouldn't hang properly. And if you didn't cut straight, there was
hell to pay from the girls in the sewing room,"
recalls Clive Bollerup, son of Spider Loom
founder Edgar Bollerup.
The finished ties were distributed to mens-
wear shops all over British Columbia, and to
the Eaton's, Hudson's Bay, Simpson's, and
Woodward's department-store chains which
sold the ties across the country. "Consumption was not as sophisticated then as it is today," observes Dorothy Bollerup. "People
bought what was there in the stores - supply
was short." Advertising was mostly by word
of mouth, with the occasional in-store display.
"I remember a demonstration that we had
in the Hudson's Bay Company in 1939,"
continues Dorothy Bollerup. "Ed was in the
store weaving, and they had one of my father's ties - which was one ofthe original eight
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Edgar Bollerup carefully cutting 20 layers of 'doth
to make ties. The cloth was woven with 31 threads
per inch warp and 31 threads per inch weft. The
cut must be on tbe bias (45°) so that tbe finished
tie would not curL The cutter was new in 1942.
Prior to that tbe cutting was done with scissors -
six layers at one time.
- on display to show how Spider Loom Ties
could be worn day in day out, and washed in
between. Well, it turned out
that while Ed wasn't looking,
they even sold that tie - the one
my father had worn for years
as motorman number thirty-
nine on the streetcars. My father was so annoyed!"
Compared to today, a good
tie was inexpensive - Spider
Loom ties sold for $ 1.50 apiece
in 1939. And Edgar Bollerup
insisted that the ties always sold
for the same price across town,
to the point that he once
bought out the stock of a mens-
wear store that was periodically
selling the ties for two bits less
than everyone else. He never
sold Spider Loom ties to that store again.
"The only way you could get a Spider
Loom tie for less than the going rate was to
come into 30-30 and say the words rodgrod
med flode. If you could pronounce that, it
showed that you were Danish, and you could
get a tie at the wholesale price. Otherwise,
everyone bought their Spider Loom ties for
the same amount," recounts Edgar Bollerup.
For the longest time, the Hudson's Bay
Company kept asking 'Mr Bollerup, we're
selling so many of your ties - why don't you
give us a discount?' So we talked it over. I
think that we finally ended up giving all the
department stores - those that made the big
orders - a 2% discount if they paid us within
10 days."
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second
World War, Spider Looms bought its first
power loom - a British-made Compton &
Knowles. "When the new loom came, we had
to get rid of our first label," remembers
Dorothy Bollerup. "One ofthe girls who was
quite religious refused to sew the original
'Hand woven by Spider Looms' labels onto
cloth woven with a power loom. Technically,
she was right, I suppose, but it shows you
how times have changed."
The new machinery allowed Spider Looms
to double its business in two successive years.
"We even did some advertising," recollects
Ed Bollerup. "One Sunday in 1942 we set
up four signs on the Petersen Hill approaching the Pattullo Bridge: 'Said the boy to the
girl...' 'What catches your eye?' 'Said the girl
to the boy...' 'It's your Spider Loom Tie.' We
didn't ask anybody's permission. We just went
ahead and put the signs up. In those days
you could do that sort of thing."
Two further power looms were bought in
1942, but the wartime rationing of yarn cut
Tbe "girls" at die sewing machines in die upstairs workroom of 3618 Kingway.
Spider Looms back to a quarter of its previous consumption. It was necessary to diversify in order to keep the business afloat. With
Sid Andersen, the Bollerups bought a
Granville Street carpet and linoleum business.
For three years, until the end of the war,
Edgar Bollerup put aside his shuttle and laid
linoleum, devoting only a fraction of his time
to weaving what wool could be had.
With the end ofthe war came the end of
rationing, and a resumption of necktie business as usual. Styles were changing, and Spider Loom began block printing silk taffeta
with gaudy designs in addition to producing
their regular line of woven ties. The handprinted silk ties were supplied to the Restaurant Association, the Rotary Club, and even
the 1951 Co-operative Commonwealth Fed
eration (CCF) convention.
A special green, scarlet, and yellow totem-
pole pattern was printed on silk taffeta for
Harry 'Totem' Duker, the colourful Vancouver philanthropist. "Any important person
who visited Vancouver would get a custom
Spider Loom Tie from Harry," explained Ed
Bollerup. "The phone would ring, and I'd
answer 'Spider Looms.' A voice at the other
end would say: 'Harry Duker, Five Dozen,"
and then die line would go dead. That's how
he ordered his supply." Thanks to Totem
Duker, Spider Loom Ties made their way into
the collections of such figures as American
President Harry Truman and Prince Philip.
With the improving overall business climate, there came to be more than enough
work between Spider Looms and the linoleum business. Sid Andersen took over the
lino, and Ed Bollerup concentrated on Spider Looms. Salesmen were brought in, and
through the 1950s Spider Looms saw strong
growth in the necktie business.
"In those days, nearly all the
men wore ties, from the high
schools to the penitentiaries. In
the high schools, the boys
wanted the narrowest of black
ties. In the penitentiaries, the
guards wanted the clip-ons, so
that the inmates couldn't get
hold of them by grabbing their
ties through the bars," reminisces Clive Bollerup, who took
the business over from his father in 1967. "We were making ties for the teachers, the
liquor control board, the forestry service, the police, the private schools, the post office, the
bridge authority - even the patients at the Essondale Mental Hospital."
Edgar Bollerup kept the Vancouver sales
area just to stay in touch with the merchants.
"Relations were very friendly, and people cooperated. I would buy all my clothing from
the storekeepers, and at Christmas-time they
would return the favour with hootch and
candy. We even had a lot of help with our
Ivy League designs from one of the department-store buyers - a fellow with Eaton's by
the name of Norm Vesak. Norm was a very
talented fellow who started the first music
and dance academy in West Van. He later
became a ballet choreographer working in
Winnipeg and San Francisco."
"Tmes were like that then," adds Clive
Bollerup. "People were less hurried, and
weren't always so concerned about the bot-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Two Spider Loom workers are shown here inserting a frame inside
each tie. Then twelve ties at a time were laid in the big steam press at
left rear, for the finishing touch.
torn line. If you could do something, then
you counted for something. It wasn't so important to ask how much you made or what
you owned."
"Spider Loom Ties got to be well enough
known that people came to us" remembers
Ed Bollerup. "There was a sea captain who
came into port, and had us make bow ties
for his entire crew. And then there was
Suzanne Sportswear on West Fourth, which
wanted us to weave some cloth that looked
like our Rainbow ties so that they could make
pleated skirts out of it. It was a
complicated pattern, one that
would have the effect of changing colours from white to grey
as the woman wearing the skirt
walked. Well, after weaving
some cloth for them, I told
them that they would have to
have somebody else look after
the regular production, since
my looms were too busy making cloth for ties. So they sent
a sample to their Scottish mills.
The Scots took a day and a half
to understand the design, and
another day and a half to make
the warp. They wrote back that
it was one ofthe most complicated and difficult designs that
they had seen for many years.
An extraordinary type of design to come
from America,' they wrote. I was very proud
of that."
The tie business was not always boom,
however. February and July were the slow
months, and then there were the fashion
downturns. "When Trudeau started wearing
turtlenecks, sales dropped off overnight," remembers Clive Bollerup.
"But then small business is like that," explains Ed Bollerup. "You have to have perse
verance when times are tough in order to be
around when things pick up. What really put
us under were the changes in zoning. By that
time we had moved down the hill to 5560
Lincoln Street. There the City kept changing the zoning: from industrial to light industrial to single family dwelling. Finally, we
could only sell to another weaving business.
No one wanted to be in that area."
In 1972, the company was wound down.
Except for the two hand looms brought from
Denmark thirty-seven years before, all of
Spider Loom's weaving, warping, and winding equipment was sold off, either for scrap,
or to West Coast Woolen Mills. "Every improvement to those looms was blood and
sweat," says Edgar Bollerup with sadness.
Local hand-weavers bought up the remaining yarn.
"Its hard to talk about the end," sighs
Dorothy Bollerup. "We had so many good
years. Even today, Edgar won't kill a spider.
He picks them up, and puts them outside in
our garden."
Dr. Spat is a near-native Vancouverite who
holds degrees in philosophy from die Universities of Edinburgh and British Columbia. Cur-
rendy he is president of Ioto International
Corporation. He wears Spider Loom lies whenever the occasion permits.
Gulf Islands Branch B.C. Historical Federation
The members of this branch of our federation have the timing of their meeting dictated
by ferry schedules. Attendance at events proves
that programs are appealing and enthusiasm remains high. Several Gulf Islanders attended the
Fraser River History Conference in Yale in October. (See News & Notes.) Galiano Island writer
Ralph Brine attended and was lauded for his
book Canada's Forgotten Highway. (It is also
reported that fellow delegates purchased copies
of this new book.)
Mayne Island, which used to be the centre of
the outer islands, hosted the November meeting. Visitors gathered in St. Mary Magdalene
church where they admired the carved wooden
furniture, the font and beautiful interior. This
church was built in 1897 on land donated by
Warburton Pike (whose home was on Saturna
Island.) The font is a chunk of natural sandstone found on Saturna, whose indentations
hold the water perfecdy for baptism. Some of
the carving was done by Galiano's William Cain.
The exterior is sheathed with wooden shingles.
David and Andrea Burchell, owners of the
lovely Bellhouse Inn on Galiano Island, hosted
the December meeting. This building has an
interesting history. The land on which the inn
stands was first owned and cleared by Gastown's
"Portugese Joe" Silva, who sold it to the Grubb
family before the turn ofthe century. It was the
Grubbs who built and then established a farm
on the property. About 1908 they moved to Victoria, selling their Galiano holding to the
Bellhouse family, English immigrants who had
resided in Winnipeg for a time before coming
Mr. & Mrs. Bellhouse continued to farm the
land as their family grew up. Following the cessation of war in 1918 they turned the now
gready enlarged farmhouse into an inn where
visitors came from the mainland or Vancouver
Island to holiday. In 1925 the building burned
to the ground and was rebuilt by the oldest son,
Thorny Bellhouse, and his wife Jessie. The couple ran the inn successfully for many years. After Thorny's death, Jessie sold the property in
1965. She kept an inland portion ofthe farm
where she had a new home built, a home she
occupies today.
From 1965 to 1995 the inn was a private
home, first occupied by Reg and Nan Day and
then by Dr. John Hales and family. In the spring
of 1995 the Burchells began the building's conversion back to its former use, this time as a bed
and breakfast establishment. Its superb position
beside the beach in Bellhouse Bay (next to
Sturdies Bay), surrounded by sweeping lawns,
creates a perfect setting for rhe old building with
its spacious rooms and handsome appointments.
It is worthy of heritage designation.
The January 1996 meeting of Gulf Islands'
Historical group was held in the Payne Residence, the oldest house on Saturna Island.
Farmer-politician Jim Campbell regaled the visitors with his memories of life on Saturna.
The former president is Charles Ilsley of
Pender Island. We thank the new president,
Andrew Loveridge of Galiano Island for sharing these reports with us.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 Liquor and the Indian Post WWII
by Megan Schlase
The two decades following World War II
have generally been regarded as a period of
transition in Native-White relations in
Canada. Attitudes of paternalism and policies aimed at wardship and assimilation for
Native Canadians were widely challenged by
an emerging social conscience reflected in the
discourse of equality, democracy, and social
justice. British Columbia was no exception
to this trend. Calls for legislative amendments
to address the inequities prevalent in the status quo were voiced conspicuously by Natives and whites alike in B.C. during these
years. However, while legislative amendments
were enacted in many policy areas, policy
changes often did not keep pace with the
evolving social consciousness of either Natives or main-stream society. Many such revisions were either too litde or too late to
capitalize on the changing climate of opinion.
Through an investigation into the prevailing social attitudes during the post-war period and changes to one specific area of
Indian legislation - that dealing with liquor
distribution in B.C. - this paper will argue
that the policy changes enacted during this
period did much to quell, or at least minimize, the spirit of optimism for Native-White
relations that prevailed in the first few years
following the war. The paper will begin by
presenting a brief oudine of the history of
legislation regarding liquor distribution
amongst Natives in B.C. It will then identify
a number of factors that contributed to the
increasing liberalization of attitudes in general, and liquor laws for Natives in particular, and will move on to consider the effects
ofthe laws for those to whom they applied.
The discussion will proceed to identify and
assess the issues around which rhe debate over
alcohol and the Indian revolved, including
both Native and White perceptions of the
History of Liquor Legislation
The prohibition of alcohol for Native peoples has had a long history in Canada. At
confederation, control of Indian matters, including the distribution of alcohol, was given
to the federal government and responsibility
was delegated to the Department ofthe Sec
retary of State for the Provinces. The first
Indian Act, passed in 1876, consolidated and
revised all previous legislation dealing with
Indians in all existing provinces and territories.1 The original sections of the Act concerning intoxicants listed a remarkable array
of offences ranging from supplying liquor to
natives; manufacturing, possessing, bartering
and consuming intoxicants; to being found
in a state of intoxication. It was also illegal to
fail to provide authorities with the names of
suppliers or other details regarding transactions involving alcohol. Penalties for offenses
were also defined. The Act was amended at
frequent intervals, becoming increasingly
more detailed with each revision. Penalties
were likewise adjusted frequently. By the time
ofthe Great Depression ofthe 1930's, federal legislation regulating and interfering in
the affairs of Native peoples in Canada had
reached its pinnacle. The Indian Act was
again consolidated in 1927 and major
changes were not made again until after
World War II.2 At this point the Department
of Indian Affairs changed the direction of its
policies; assimilation as a goal was discarded
in favor of directives that sought to help
Natives retain and develop their Native characteristics while simultaneously taking on the
full rights of Canadian citizens.3
The Indian Act as amended in 1951 allowed Natives, for the first time since the existence of the Act, to consume alcohol in
public drinking establishments but did not
allow for any other purchase, sale, possession,
or consumption of intoxicants either on or
off reserves. The act was amended again in
1956 to allow provinces to implement full
drinking rights to Natives, providing that
each band first hold a referendum to determine whether the majority of residents on a
reserve were in favor of allowing for possession and consumption of alcohol on the reserve.4 As will be discussed later, this policy
proved unworkable, since it was impossible
for authorities to distinguish members of one
band from another, and the provincial government consequently stopped prosecuting
cases involving alcohol on reserves in 1956.
However, full rights to buy and possess alcohol outside of reserve boundaries were not
granted to British Columbia's Native popu
lation until July 2, 1962.
Impetus to Change
In 1946 thousands of Native veterans were
returning home after serving in the armed
forces overseas and a growing number of
Whites were acknowledging the flagrant inconsistencies between the aspirations of freedom and democracy and the manner in
which Canada was treating its own Native
peoples. In a contemporary novel depicting
Native life in the Skeena Valley, author
Hubert Evans in Mist ofthe River describes
the liberalizing attitudes ofthe times:
Lo, the poor Indian. Normandy, Holland
all the way. Good comrades, good soldiers.
Fine body of men. Best in the world The
tumult and the shouting dies. What happens? The captains and the kings depart,
anybody knows that. But to hell with them.
My friend and my brother, here's what happens. They give their precious blood for
Canada, the last full measure of devotion
and all that crap. In Flanders fields the poppies gorge upon their blood. Heroes and gentlemen, every one.... What does it get them?
Does a grateful nation stop treating their
sorrowing mothers and fathers like second-
class citizens? It does not.5
Liberal white folks, however, were not
alone in recognizing such inherent inequities. Native political organization in British
Columbia had developed to a mature and
forceful stage by this time; the native Brotherhood of B.C., founded in 1930, began
publishing the first ever Native-run newspaper, The Native Voice, in 1946. In its first
edition, the Native perspective clearly reveals
the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo:
We suffer as a minority race and as wards,
or minors without a voice in regard to our
own welfare. We are prisoners of a controlling power in our own country - a country
which has stood up under the chaos of two
world wars, beneath the guise of democracy
and freedom, yet keeping enslaved a Native
people in their own home land...
...our Dominion is not in a position to point
a finger of scorn at the treatment meted out
by the countries toward their people, until
she liberates her own original and subjected
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 More specifically, the protests of returning Indian veterans underscored the duplicity of the liquor laws as they pertained to
Natives. In her reminiscences of life spent on
Stoney Creek Reserve in North Central British Columbia, Mary John relates the change
in perceptions:
The big change came after the Second World
War. So many men from Stoney Creek and
reserves all across Canada had served overseas in the armed forces, in England Scotland France, Italy, and Germany. They
drank in canteens, as they called the beer
parlors, just like white soldiers. When those
who survived the war returned to Canada,
the Native ex-servicemen found that under
the Indian Act they were still Jorbidden to
drink alcohol anywhere in their own country .. People say that it was the returned soldiers who brought about a change in the
Indian Act...7
Expressions of the need for reform were
reinforced in part by the growing civil rights
movement in the United States, and the general climate advocating change was enhanced
by the increasing influence of television media upon society.8 Popular magazines in print
in Canada published increasing numbers of
articles during the post-war period, often
calling for "a New Deal" for the Native, while
generally acknowledging that they had had
an unfair one in the past.9
The government of Canada responded in
1946 by undertaking a federal Joint Commission of the Senate and House of Commons to investigate the state of Indian affairs
in Canada. The amended Indian Act of 1951
represented the outcome of the study. The
Native Brotherhood of B.C. had played an
important and effective role in establishing
the special concerns of Natives in British
Columbia. It was largely the role that the
NBBC played in the Joint Commission that
resulted in a federal government decision to
sponsor an indepth study into the status of
Native people in B.C.10 Under the direction
of Dr. H.B. Hawthorne, professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the study, when completed in 1956
endorsed, among other things, equal liquor
rights for B.C.'s Natives.11
Effects of Liquor Distribution Legislation
Natives have had access to alcohol since
first contact with whites. Official prohibition
did not stop Indians from acquiring and consuming liquor, although it did make it somewhat more difficult or inconvenient for them
to obtain it. White and mixed-blood boot
leggers were generally available in most areas
to supply Natives who wished to drink, and
home brew was produced through a variety
of methods on many reserves. While prohibition did not eliminate the use of alcohol
amongst Natives, it did have significant social consequences. The most obvious, perhaps, is that it turned otherwise law-abiding
individuals into criminals. The Indian Act
prescribed penalties of fines, jail terms, or a
combination of both, for natives convicted
of liquor offenses which did not represent
infractions for whites.
The 1951 amendment to the Indian Act
allowing Natives to drink in beer parlors and
licensed establishments serving meals was in
part an attempt to address the inequality and
discrimination so obvious within total prohibition. But, as Hawthorne pointed out in
his report, such arguments "were not carried
to their logical conclusion":12
For, if Indians were permitted to drink in
the open, their drinking was, in law, concentrated in a small number of beer parlours of limited facilities with limited hours
of access; and Indians were still discriminated against, for they were not permitted
to drink anywhere else or purchase liquor in
the liquor stores or take liquor on the reserves.'3
In studying the effects of the legislation
on Indian drinking behavior, Hawthorne
noted some disturbing trends.
Since they cannot drink legally anywhere but
in the beer parlour, their object is to consume as much as possible in the time available to them; in this sense the limitations of
the law are a direct support of immoderate
Mary John's recollections of alcohol consumption amongst Natives at Stoney Creek
Reserve reinforce Hawthorne's observations:
How often I watched the results of this policy!
People would drink as much as they could
before closing time, because they knew that
once they left the beer parlour, the only place
they could drink was in some back alley or
beside the railway tracks.15
While the law encouraged immoderate
public drinking and illicit secretive drinking,
it also discouraged a more socially controlled pattern of alcohol use. Hawthorne described this phenomenon in his report:
The other patterns of White drinking - the
occasional glass of beer with a meal at home,
or the social occasion where the guests take
liquor as a refreshment - are observed by a
very small minority of Indians, and even if
they wish to copy them they cannot afford to
do so. For, paradoxically the wild and secretive drinking is safer, because precautions
are taken, and there is a certain anonymity
in a crowd Moderate drinking at home is
not only illegal, but in this context it appears senseless - the danger of arrest increases
as time draws out, the possibility of informing increases because acquaintances are excluded, and anxiety over possible
" interruption and arrest is felt more keenly
because the drinkers are more sober - and
who would risk arrest anyway for just one
or two glasses of beer? Once again, the law
has contributed directly to immoderate
The concentration of Native alcohol consumption within beer parlors also meant that
Natives who drank tended to be much more
in the public eye than those who did not.
When combined with the consequent pattern of intensified drinking in bars, the results could have detrimental effects upon the
public's perception ofthe Native population.
Hawthorne reported his findings on these
consequences as follows:
One result of present drinking patterns is
the way in which a stereotype of Indian behaviour receives supporting evidence. We
have heard of Whites visiting certain rural
beer parlours for no other reason than to
watch the antics of intoxicated Indians. If
this were the only harmful effect of Indian
drinking patterns, it would be a sufficient
argument for remedial measures; for no adequate programme of cultural adjustment
can take place without a greater possibility
of mutual respect than this allows.17
From the Native perspective, the discrimination embodied in the law served to reinforce a collective political grudge, which was
often exacerbated by the effects of alcohol
consumption. In 1954 Edwin M. Lemert of
the University of California reported his findings of a study of alcohol use among British
Columbia's Northwest Coast Indians:
Drinking the forbidden liquor thus became
for the Indian an act of aggression against
white authority and at the same time a protest against imputations of inferiority explicit
in the Indian Act and implicit in daily social interaction between whites and Indians.'8
Lemert emphasized the tendency for Natives to lash out in verbal anti-white aggression when intoxicated:
Many taxi drivers who frequently transport
drunken Indians back to their reserves from
near-by towns comment upon the ever
present tendency of their passengers to break
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 into bitter condemnation and even cursing
ofthe white man. An individual example
of this kind of behaviour is that of a Salish
Indian who, when sober, is a very quiet, shy,
and even timid person. Yet when he gets
drunk he flexes his muscles and shouts at his
employer, a clam buyer: "Look at me! I am
strong- as good as you are!"19
The Prominent Issues
A number of recurring themes regarding
the issue of Natives and alcohol can be identified in the contemporary sources. Many of
these themes can reveal insights into the dynamics of Native-White relations during this
period. Among those commonly discussed,
the issue of the Indian s perceived ability to
"handle" liquor is quite instructive. This issue was addressed often by both Natives and
Whites. Speaking at a Native Brotherhood
convention in Hazelton in April 1953, 74
year old Chief Arthur McDame's address was
reported as follows in the Vancouver Sun:
"When white men first came they gave us
beans and we boiled them all day and still
couldn't eat them, "hesaid. "Laterwefound
out they were coffee beans. Today I notice
when white men go into beer parlours, they
don't come out falling over the ground It's
the same as the coffee bean story, "he told his
people. "You don't know how to handle it
At the same meeting in Hazelton, a second Native spokesperson addressed the issue two days later:
We will not be able to accustom ourselves to
liquor which is part ofthe white man's civilization, unless we can obtain it in a more
normal manner.21
Hawthorne explained that the public perception of Natives' inability to handle alcohol was partly the result of Natives' different
association with the state of drunkenness:
...intoxication in itself is a deliberate objective. Little prestige is associated with "holding liquor"; more is associated with getting
An editorial in the Victoria Daily Times
in December 1958 addressed the issue in
quite different terms:
The anomaly lies in the attitude our legal
institutions take when the Indian is enfranchised Unenfranchised, the Indian's access
to spirits is restricted Once he becomes enfranchised exactly the same individual may
buy and drink liquor like any adult citizen.
How does enfranchisement enable him to
handle it better?23
A more liberal airing of the question was
printed in the Vancouver Sun in July, 1962,
under the headline "Experts Say Indian Can
Hold Liquor as Well as White Man."24 In
the story, several experts concurred with the
findings expressed by Dr. James M. Mather,
assistant dean ofthe University of B.C.'s Faculty of Medicine:
There is absolutely no evidence ofphysiologi-
cal difference between the Indian or members of any other race, whether white, yellow
or black. It is equally true that there is no
justification for the belief, held by many
white people, that the Indian is more physically susceptible to the effects of alcohol25
Thus, while the debate encompassed a
wide range of opinions and emphases over
the years, it seems quite clear that the issue
of Native consumption of alcohol was a going concern. As Hawthorne noted, "...there
is probably no issue affecting Indians which
is so much in the public eye."26
A second theme that recurs fairly consistently in the public debate involves the institution of boodegging. Here, however, it could
be argued quite easily that opinion represented a consensus in its censure ofthe practice. In advocating equal liquor laws for B.C.'s
Natives, Hawthorne described the effect such
a measure would have in this regard:
It would remove at one blow the special hold
ofthe bootlegger on the Indian. Insofar as it
did this it would reduce the associations of
Indians with criminals in the White population and minimize the temptation for Indians to engage in crime to obtain liquor.27
An editorial in the Victoria Times in 1958
condemned the practice in the following
...a citizen's right to liquor, were it extended
to Natives, would help to eliminate onefes-
teringsore in our society... The festering sore
is the bootlegger who victimizes the Indian.
Any Native with a will to drink and the
money to pay black-market prices can, and
does, acquire liquor. Laws do not stop that
In 1962, when Natives in B.C. were finally granted equal liquor rights, Attorney
General Bonner was quoted in the Victoria
Daily Times professing that...
The only people injured by this will be that
shadowy band of people who over the years
have been supplying liquor to Indians
Natives, understandably, favored liquor law
changes because they would "reduce the
present patronage of bootleggers by Indians."30 Many other references of a similar
nature can be found in the contemporary de
bates; in general the tone of the arguments
seems genuinely humanitarian or utilitarian
as opposed to paternalistic, although there
are, of course, some exceptions.
A protracted debate resulted from the Indian Act amendments in 1956, allowing provincial governments to initiate full liquor
rights to Natives within provincial jurisdictions. The amendment stipulated that provincial governments could authorize, through
order-in-council, the application of provincial laws to Natives on a band-by-band basis, providing that a majority of members
from each band voted for the change in a
referendum. The provincial government
proved reluctant to implement the plan, citing the confusion that would result in trying
to determine which Natives were purchasing liquor legally and which were not. Thus,
while enforcement ofthe law was loosened,
it remained technically illegal for Natives to
drink anywhere but in beer parlors. Both the
B.C. Government and Natives sought an
amendment to the Indian Act to clarify the
situation. In 1959, after three years of federal-provincial bureaucratic jostling, the province was still holding out for changes to the
Act that would allow for the application of
changes on a province-wide basis "without
all the ifs and buts that are in the Act now."31
By May 1962 about one-third ofthe bands
in B.C. had voted for liquor, following an
active campaign by Skeena New Democratic
Party MP Frank Howard. Faced with the im-
practicality of enforcing the laws as indicated
above, the province responded by lifting the
ban on liquor for all B.C.'s Natives in July,
The move was widely hailed in very positive terms in rhe province's major newspapers. Among comments published in the
papers, those of Attorney-General Bonner
and Magistrate Roderick Haig-Brown were
what most widely quoted. Bonner explained
the provinces reasons for not implementing
the policy sooner and oudined the governments attempts to have the federal Act
amended. He emphasized that the government was in no way averse to having Natives
enjoy the same rights as other citizens.32
Magistrate Haig-Brown delivered a scathing
denunciation of the discriminatory liquor
laws, repeating a statement to the press that
he had made on the issue in 1958:
Many Indians appear in my court every year.
They are rarely charged with anything more
serious than having bought or drunk liquor. But an Indian case is never trivial. Indians come to court on these charges with a
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 sense of injustice and discrimination. They
are right... It is not simply a question of liquor, but of freedom and human dignity that
belongs with freedom. I am ashamed every
time it is the duty of my court to punish
Indians for something that is a crime only
for them.33
A dissenting view expressed by Magistrate
Beevor-Potts, that "99% of trouble with Indians was attributable to liquor, and less, not
more, should be made available to them,"34
received conspicuously less attention in the
majority of reports. John Albany of the
Songhees band commented that "The old law
keeping liquor away from Indians did more
harm than good. It created ill feelings between Indians and whites."35 Guy Williams,
president ofthe Native Brotherhood of B.C.,
told reporters that his organization had been
trying for twenty-five years to get equal rights
for Indians and remarked that they were "first
claSS r'ttt'jf.ric nrwxr    ^"
citizens now.
It could well be argued that the significance
ofthe liquor distribution question in understanding Native-White relations at mid-century was that it symbolized an obvious gap
between the prevalent, post-war liberal ideology and social reality as it was expressed by
public policy. Whether or not an earlier application of equal drinking rights would have
substantially reduced ill feelings between
Natives and Whites is speculative. What is
clear is that the post-war climate of opinion
seemed ready for changes in the liquor laws
that were not forthcoming until 1962. In the
meantime, the laws encouraged the development of abhorrent drinking patterns amongst
natives or required them to pay more for
black market booze. The white population's
preoccupation with the Native's ability to
"handle" alcohol reflected a perception that
was related to the development of abhorrent
drinking patterns. And lastly, the blatant discrimination inherent in the liquor laws embittered many Natives towards Whites, a
process that was merely enhanced by the
drinking habits the law encouraged.
Bio Note: Megan Schlase, a Vancouver mother
of three, has just completed her BA. in History
at tbe University of British Columbia. She is
now working towards a Masters in Archival
1. James S. Frideres. Native People in Canada. Toronto,
Prentice Hall, 1983, pp.23-32.
2. Indian Acts and Amendments 2868-1950, Treaties and
Historical Research Centre, Research Branch, Corporate
Policy Div., Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada, 2nd Ed. 1981.
3. Frideres, pp 29-30.
4. Contemporary Indian Legislation 1951-1978, Treaties and
Historical Research Centre, Corporate Policy Div., Dept.
of Indian and Northern Affairs, 1981.
5. Hubert Evans, Mist on the River, McClelland and Stewart
Limited, Toronto, 1954, p.66.
6. "The Native Voice", Vancouver, December 1946, p. 1, as
cited in Forrest E. La Violette, The Struggle for Survival,
Toronro, University of Toronto Press, 1961.
7. Bridget Moran, Stoney Creek Woman, Vancouver, Tillicum
Library, 1988, p. 106-107.
8. James Wilson, Canadas Indians, Minority Rights Group,
1974, p.23.
9. Ronald Graham Haycock, The Image ofthe Indian,
Waterloo, Waterloo Lutheran University, 1971, p.44-55.
10. LaVioletre, p. 176.
11. Hawthorne, Elshaw, Jamieson, The Indians ofB. C. A
Study of Contemporary Social Adjustment, Toronto,
University of Toronto Press, 1958, 378-383.
12. Hawthorne et al, p. 378.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid, p.379.
15. Moran, p.107.
16. Hawthorne, p. 380-381.
17. Ibid, p.381.
18. Edwin M. Lemert, Alcohol and the Northwest Coast
Indian, University of California, 1954, p.248.
19. Ibid, p.249.
20. The Vancouver Sun, April 28,1953.
21. Ibid. April 30,1953.
22. Hawthorne, p.379.
23. Victoria Daily Times, December 9,1958.
24. Vancouver Sun, July 4,1962.
25. Ibid.
26. Hawthorne, p. 378.
27. Ibid., p.383.
28. Victoria Daily Times, December 9, 1958.
29. Ibid. July 3,1962.
30. Vancouver Sun, April 30,1953.
31. Vancouver /W/'nre, January 14,1959.
32. The Daily Colonist, July 1, 1962.
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid.
35. Victoria Daily Times, July 3, 1962.
36. Ibid.
Barman, Jean, The West Beyond the West, University of Toronto
Press, 1991.
Contemporary Indian Legislation, 1951-1978, Treaties and
Historical Research Centre, Corporate Policy, Department of
Indian Affairs, 1981.
Discussion Notes on the Indian Act, Dept. Of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development, 1971.
Evans, Hubert, Mist on the River, Copp, Clark, Ltd., Toronto,
Frideres, James S. Native People in Canada, Prentice Hall,
Scarborough, 1983.
Hawthorne, Belshaw, Jamieson, The Indians of British
Columbia - A Study of Contemporary Social Adjustment,
University of Toronto Press, 1958.
Haycock, Ronald Graham, The Image ofthe Indian, Waterloo
Lutheran Press, 1971.
Indian Acts and Amendments, 1868-1950, Treaties and
Historical Research Centre, Research Branch, Corporate
Policy, Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2nd Ed.
La Violette, Forrest, The Struggle Jbr Survival, University of
Toronto Press, 1961.
Lemert, Edwin M. Alcohol and the Northwest Coast Indians,
University of California, 1954.
Moran, Bridget, Stoney Creek Woman, Tillicum Library, 1988.
Wilson, James, Canada's Indians, Minority Rights Group,
The Vancouver Sun
The Prince George Citizen
The Prince Rupert Daily News
The Vancouver Province
The Victoria Daily Times
The Daily Colonist
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 - Spring 1996 The Cache Creek Provincial
Boarding School 1874 - 1890
by Wayne Norton
John Jessop, British Columbia's first superintendent of education, was proud of his
extensive tour ofthe interior ofthe province
in the fall of 1872. He had travelled hundreds of kilometres over difficult trails in attempting to assess rhe educational needs of
children living outside the more settled regions of Vancouver Island and the lower
mainland. The report he subsequently submitted to the newly-appointed Provincial
Board of Education stated that nearly three
hundred children of school age were scattered throughout the interior without access
to schooling. Another hundred children under five years of age were also living well beyond the reach ofthe province's few existing
schools. To remedy the situation, he proposed the creation of nine additional day
schools throughout the province and the establishment of "a large central educational
establishment where pupils (could) be lodged
and boarded, as well as educated."1
The Board of Education welcomed the
report and gave serious consideration to
building two boarding schools, one near
Soda Creek and the other in the vicinity of
Kamloops. It was decided, however, that only
one such experimental school should be initially constructed, and both the board and
the superintendent "unhesitatingly indicated
Kamloops as presenting the proper site."2
Premier de Cosmos stated in the legislature
that Kamloops was the preferred location,
and on 20 February 1873, the government
unofficially advised rhe Board of Education
"that the erection of a boarding school at
Kamloops has already been decided upon."3
By mid April, the residents of Kamloops were
a little impatient that no official announcement had been made, but had no doubts at
all that the school would be located there
It came as a considerable shock when, just
two weeks later, rhe announcement was made
that the province was to locate its experimental boarding school at Cache Creek. The Victoria British Colonist a vocal critic of the
de Cosmos government, later insisted that
the reason for locating the school at Cache
-   m
JJnl    mt*
U &'               ^k
• ■MI
Eleanor and Archibald Irwin, matron and teacher at
the Provincial Boarding School 1876-77.
Courtesy Brian Bonenfant
Creek "must have been more strong than
good" and declared that there was "an un-
sighdy skeleton covered up somewhere in this
There was in fact, no skeleton and little
evidence of a cover-up. Charles Augustus
Semlin, elected as one ofthe MLAs for the
Yale district in 1871 and a Cache Creek resident, had simply been lobbying members of
the rather unstable government of Premier
Amor de Cosmos. Whether or not he made
his continued support conditional on the
location of the boarding school at Cache
Creek is unknown. However, it was Semlin
who formally introduced the Act Respecting
the Management of Public Boarding Schools,
and who successfully guided the bill through
the legislature in January 1874.6
With the passage of the Act, the way was
clear to begin the construction ofthe school.
The building contract was awarded jointly
to Dan Adams of Victoria and David
Withrow of New Westminster at an anticipated cost of $5,500.7 The site ofthe school
was to be at the point where Cache Creek
meets the Bonaparte River, on eight hectares
donated specifically for school purposes by
two of Semlin's previous business associates.
Phillip Parke and Semlin had jointly operated the Bonaparte House Hotel at Cache
Creek from 1866 until 1868, when Semlin
traded his interest in the hotel to James
Campbell for the Dominion Ranch. The
fact that Parke and Campbell were willing
to donate land for school purposes would
certainly have provided Semlin with a considerable advantage in his attempt to convince the government to locate the boarding
school at Cache Creek. It is perhaps not surprising that, in addition to Senator C.E
Cornwall, the government appointed CA.
Semlin, Phillip Parke and James Campbell
as the first trustees of the Cache Creek
Boarding School. (Cornwall's appointment
appears to have been purely an honorary
one. He played no role in the administration ofthe school, and his nominal trusteeship lasted for only one year.)
Work on the school building and the dormitory proceeded rapidly in the late spring
of 1874, and the first students arrived in May.
Superintendent Jessop travelled to Cache
Creek, and officially opened the school on 2
June 1874 with eighteen students on the register. By July, the number of students had
risen to thirty-six, which Jessop declared to
be "about as many as the building can accommodate." In his annual report, he went
on to say:
"The success of the Boarding School experiment is now placed beyond a doubt. It is
the settled conviction of almost every person in the upper country who has given the
subject any consideration, that there is no
other feasible method of bringing educational
facilities within reach ofthe widely scattered
families in the interior;... boarding school
(students) have the advantage over day pupils in enjoying greater facilities for study, and
are, moreover, under constant surveillance as
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 to their conduct and demeanour."8
The first teacher to be employed at the
school was Joseph Jones, who previously had
taught in Victoria. Jones was an English immigrant and, as such, was typical ofthe province's teachers in the 1870s. Ofthe thirty-two
teachers employed by the Provincial Board
of Education in 1874, twenty-two were from
Great Britain. At a salary of $75 per month,
Jones was required to teach the basic provincial curriculum: Reading, Arithmetic, Writing and Dictation, Grammar, Geography,
and History. His responsibilities also included
general supervision and, based on fees of $8
per month per student, he was to provide
room and board for the students. To assist in
this, with particular regard to the female students and to supervise the cooking and laundry, Jones' wife was employed as matron at a
salary of $50 per month.
If the provincial government hoped that
the political controversies would fade once
the school became operational, it was soon
disappointed. As an experiment in education,
the boarding school found itself under steady
public scrutiny, and critics of the school
found a ready forum in the pages ofthe British Colonist. An anonymous parent wrote
to the Colonist in August, stating that some
ofthe trustees had not yet found time to visit
the school and claiming that "the culpable
indifference ofthe trustees (was) a matter of
serious complaint with the public." He reiterated his views in another letter a month
later.9 An anonymous (and perhaps unemployed) teacher noted that, though Jones had
only a temporary certificate, the Cache Creek
establishment was the "best paid school in
the province."10
Superintendent Jessop, however, spoke
very highly of the school after he administered the first examinations there on 31 May
1875. He found the exam results "eminently
satisfactory" and advised the Colonist that
"the proficiency of the pupils in the several
branches taught reflects the greatest credit on
the teacher, while the pleasant and tidy appearance of the pupiL speaks equally to the
credit ofthe matron."
Just four months later, in his annual report, Jessop was much less satisfied with the
performance ofthe teacher. Jones had failed
to submit a required financial statement, simply advising Jessop that "harvest and politics
must be held answerable for the delay," a reference no doubt to the unsuccessful re-election campaign of CA. Semlin. The
superintendent was much happier to
note that the school was being substantially
enlarged. At a cost of $5,000, Withrow of
New Westminster was constructing a new
schoolroom with a boy's dormitory on the
second floor. The old schoolroom was to be
converted to serve as the dining room, and
the girls were to occupy all of the original
building's dormitory space.12 The separation
of the sexes was a serious concern, both for
parents and for education authorities. In
January 1876, the government was advised
by the Select Committee investigating the
province's public schools that it was not "advisable" to educate boys and girls in the same
establishment. Completely separate facilities
were recommended.13
Relations between the Board of Education
and Jones deteriorated rapidly. As the months
went by with financial reports still not submitted, rumours of other improprieties
reached the office of Superintendent Jessop.
Abruptly, in April 1876, Jones resigned his
position, thus avoiding an expected investigation by the education authorities. He
moved to Grande Prairie (modern day
Westwold) and promptly sued the Board of
Education for $308.14. a sum which he
claimed was due to him but which the board
refused to pay until his accounts had been
submitted and verified.14 At the same time,
James Campbell, who had resigned as trustee a year earlier, was reported to be claiming
ownership ofthe land upon which the boarding school stood. The Colonist did not miss
the opportunity to lambast the former government for failing to establish clear title
before proceeding to build the school.15
On his tour ofthe interior schools in May,
Jessop was appalled at what he found at
Cache Creek. Neither Jessop nor the school
trustees could persuade Jones to submit financial statements. The accounts were in a
chaotic condition, and several ofthe school's
suppliers were threatening legal action if their
accounts were not quickly settled. At the same
time, many of the boarders' parents were
months behind in their payment of fees. The
building, just two years old, had a "dilapidated and neglected appearance" due to broken doors and smashed window panes. There
was little kitchen or dining room furniture
remaining, much breakage of crockery and
lamps, and both large cooking stoves were
"much damaged." Most seriously, the attendance which had stood at forty-four in June
1875 had fallen to just fifteen students by
May 1876.
Jessop attributed the sorry state of affairs
to inattentive trustees, a negligent secretary-
treasurer, and a teacher too pre-occupied with
a combination of administrative duty and
"private business" to be able to devote sufficient time to fulfil his teaching obligations.
In a special report on the situation to the
provincial secretary in July, Jessop admitted
the obvious: the reputation ofthe school was
nearly ruined, while at the same time, it was
on the verge of bankruptcy. He urged the
government to appoint a deputy superintendent of schools to be resident at Cache Creek
until the school had been placed on a satisfactory footing. He requested an immediate
advance of at least $2,000 to avert legal actions by creditors. He asked that furniture
be provided immediately to replace the losses
of the previous two years. Finally, he suggested that an acre of land "be enclosed as a
tight board fence as a playground for the girls
to which the boys would have no access whatsoever." This, he argued, would remove what
was evidently one of the greatest causes of
complaint about the school by enabling the
teacher and matron to keep the sexes separate at all times, except of course during class
The new teacher, hired in May 1876, inherited an extremely difficult situation.
Archibald Irwin had earned his teaching certificate at Perth in Ontario, and taught at the
Lower Nicola school prior to taking up his
duties at Cache Creek. In early July, he returned to the Nicola Valley to marry Eleanor
Woodward. His new bride returned with him
to Cache Creek to assume the role of matron at the boarding school. Each would have
been well aware that the school trustees
(Semlin, Parke, W.H. Sandford, J.C. Barnes
and W. Walker) could be expected to watch
their performance closely to avoid further
criticism by John Jessop.
By late October, all the recommendations
made by Jessop had been acted upon with
the exception ofthe segregated playground,
which at an estimated cost of $400 was simply too expensive given the school's financial
circumstances. Creditors had been paid from
the $ 1,800 advanced by the government,
new furniture had arrived, and Deputy Superintendent of Schools Robert Midgeley
Clemitson had taken up residence at the
boarding school to supervise the rehabilitation ofthe institution's tarnished reputation.
Clemitson was instructed to act as secretary-
treasurer to the trustees, to assume responsibility for all financial arrangements at the
school, and to promote the school amongst
parents in the interior. He was also to inspect
a number of interior schools, thus relieving
the superintendent of the necessity of a
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 month's travel annually.
Despite having to pay for repairs caused
by a small fire, Clemitson was able to report
less than a year after his arrival that the school
was operating at a small profit. The average
monthly attendance had risen to twenty-five
by Christmas, precisely the number believed
to be necessary to enable the school to be
self-supporting. Though he suggested further
costcutting measures (such as firing the Chinese cook and requiring the matron to instruct female students in culinary skills),
Clemitson was optimistic that the success of
the school was assured at last.
By the middle of March, however, he
found himself embroiled in a scandal far
greater than any the school had yet experienced. In attempting to mediate a quarrel
amongst some of the girls, matron Eleanor
Irwin was shocked to learn that a number of
the older girls were leaving their dormitory
during the night, unlocking the dining-room
door downstairs, and either entering the boys'
dormitory or permitting the boys access to
their own. She advised her husband who dispensed punishment and prepared to inform
the trustees at their scheduled meeting two
days later. Unfortunately, the trustees failed
to meet as planned. Instead they heard rumours of the improprieties and summoned
a number of the students and Mr. Irwin to
account for their actions.
Perhaps because they were still smarting
from Jessop's criticisms of the previous year
or because they were determined never again
to be accused of lack of control, the majority
of trustees made a quick and irrevocable decision. They insisted that the girls should have
been locked in their dormitory each night,
that Irwin should have known this without
having to be so advised, and that his consideration of their safety in the event of fire provided no excuse for leaving the door
unlocked. Though Parke and Walker strongly
disagreed and stated their intention to resign.
Trustees Semlin, Sandford and Barnes demanded and received the immediate resignations of Archibald and Eleanor Irwin.
Secretary-Treasurer Semlin was particularly
critical, advising Jessop that the Irwins and
Clemitson had been "sleeping all winter serenely oblivious to the scandalous conduct
on the part ofthe larger pupils." He further
alleged that the three had attempted to conceal the facts from the trustees.17
Clemitson was furious with the trustees for
taking this course of action. He wrote an
impassioned and lengthy letter to Jessop on
20 March defending Irwin against all charges
Robert Clemitson, teacher 1883-87.
Courtesy Kamloops Museum & Archives
of negligence. He accused the trustees of acting from mere expediency, stating that they
lacked "sufficient independence of thought...
to discharge successfully the duties of their
position." He insisted that he was at least as
responsible as Irwin because his bedroom,
too, was located between the dormitories, and
offered his resignation. He noted with obvious regret, that the number of students had
fallen sharply from twenty-six, when the news
started to become known, to just fifteen once
more. His resignation was not accepted. On
21 March he wrote once more to Jessop, this
time at the instruction ofthe trustees, advising that he would assume the duties of teacher
himself until a replacement could be found,
and stating that Catherine Schubert, a
Lillooet resident, had agreed temporarily to
move to Cache Creek at once to act as matron at a rate of $30 per month.18 Mrs.
Schubert began her work on the first of April.
The initial three years of its existence had
been disastrous for the Cache Creek Boarding School, and the proponents ofthe boarding school system cannot have been
optimistic as the search began for a new
teacher. The school's reputation was so tarnished that the Catholic Bishop of Victoria
used it as the basis for a wide-ranging attack
on public secular education in April 1877.
Arguing that "mixed schools are an unmixed
evil," Bishop Segher referred to the Cache
Creek school as "a house of ill-fame," from
which some parents would receive back their
children "corrupted, debased, (and) depraved, perhaps for life."19 This was too
strong even for the Colonist. The newspaper did, however, urge that this "petted and
pampered institution" should be permanently
The school was not closed, nor was it converted to become entirely either a boys' school
or a girls' school as some critics were suggesting. The powers ofthe trustees were substantially reduced in April by the provincial
government, and as late as August trustees
were yet to be appointed under the new
terms. Reluctantly, the government granted
$400 to build a segregated playground. It
proved impossible to find a married couple
able to take up residence at Cache Creek at
such short notice. As a result, it was decided
to retain more formally the services as matron of Catherine Schubert ("the old lady"
as Semlin referred to her) at the established
rate of $50 per month, and to hire an unmarried man as teacher.
Forty-three-year-old Thomas LeDuc possessed a first class "B" teaching certificate
from Toronto, and had been teaching for the
previous eighteen months at the small day
school at Lillooet. He was highly regarded
by Superintendent Jessop, and began his new
job on 1 May 1877. Having to replace the
personally popular Archibald Irwin and, at
the same time, inheriting the school's unfortunate reputation cannot have been easy for
LeDuc. Just a few weeks later, however, Jessop
paid a formal visit and was much impressed
with the order and tone ofthe school.21 The
curriculum offered remained the same, except for a course in Anatomy, Physiology and
Hygiene taken by two students, how willingly one can only wonder. Assistant Superintendent Clemitson, too, quickly formed a
favourable impression of LeDuc. In July, he
wrote to Jessop:
"Since Mr. LeDuc's arrival the school has
certainly been well managed. That gentleman
is a thoroughly capable and painstaking
teacher, and the children have advanced rapidly under his tuition, Out of the schoolroom his management is excellent; he takes
a hearty interest in the welfare of the scholars, and, while enforcing the regulations of
the school with a firm hand, has secured the
affectionate regard ofthe pupils."22
Though he considered Mrs. Schubert not
to possess "all the qualifications desirable in
a person holding her position," he praised
her for the "greatest interest" she showed in
her duties and in the children, and expressed
the hope that her personal local popularity
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 would have a favourable effect on the attendance figures.
For the next six years, LeDuc and Mrs.
Schubert brought a stability that enabled the
school to remove itself completely from the
political quarrels and scandals that had
plagued its early years. The Colonist moved
on to other issues, and the provincial annual
reports on the public schools contained little detail about either the school itself or the
people involved with it. One student later
recalled that their pleasures were simple and
their activities tightly structured. She noted
that they had "regular hours for everything-
music, study, getting up, meals and going to
bed." Each evening they sang in the dining
room, and every Saturday they went climbing in the hills.23
Two trustees were finally appointed in
1878: C A. Semlin and Charles Pennie would
retain their positions, alone but without controversy, for the next nine years. John Jessop
retired as Superintendent of Schools in 1878,
and Clemitson left Cache Creek late in the
same year to ranch at Grande Prairie. Also in
1878, three girls were the first Cache Creek
students to sit High School entrance exams,
two of them successfully. One ofthe successful candidates was Mrs. Schubert's daughter
Rose. Less than a year later, in a move that
may have raised some local eyebrows,
Thomas LeDuc married his star pupil at
Cache Creek. Not quite seventeen years of
age, Mrs. Rose LeDuc was not considered
for the position of matron.
In the early summer of 1883, Mrs.
Schubert made the decision to join her husband at Round Prairie (just north of modern-day Armstrong) where he had been
ranching since 1879, and resigned as matron
in June. Thomas and Rose LeDuc also decided to leave. At Grande Prairie, Clemitson
(who, incidentally, had married the daughter of the boarding school's first teacher,
Joseph Jones, in May 1879) was persuaded
to renew his teaching certificate and to return to Cache Creek. Robert and Lucy
Clemitson began their duties as teacher and
matron at the boarding school in August. If
there was any awkwardness or bitterness remaining between Clemitson and Semlin over
their quarrel about Irwin's dismissal, evidence
of it has not survived.
The four years during which R.M.
Clemitson presided over the school were, like
those of his immediate predecessor, quiet and
uneventful. When the Superintendent of
Schools arrived on a tour of inspection in
1886, he reported that the "school has been
doing and is doing good work." Perhaps
mindful of past circumstances, he noted the
instruction of "social and moral virtues is not
The provincial election of 1886 generated
substantial interest in the vicinity of Cache
Creek as former boarding school teacher
Archibald Irwin challenged Semlin for one
ofthe seats in the Yale constituency. Semlin
had been returned to the legislature in 1882,
and though he topped the poll in 1886, he
could have been denied his seat due to an
irregularity in his nomination. However,
Irwin declined to press the point, stating that
if he could not claim a seat as a result of election he would not do so on a point of law.25
Semlin would represent the constituency
until the turn ofthe century, serving briefly
as premier from 1898 to 1900.
Examination day was traditionally held in
early June, and 1887 provided no exception.
Observed by the two trustees and many of
the residents of Cache Creek, Clemitson conducted the classes and the exams. Between
the exercises, vocal performances were accompanied by Mrs. Clemitson on the organ, and
some poetry selections were recited. When
the exercises were completed, trustee Semlin
rose slowly to give the closing address. He
noted that during the four years since the
arrival ofthe Clemitsons, not one unfavourable criticism ofthe school had been heard.
How it must have pleased him to be able to
say that. But this was to be Clemitsons last
examination day. Due to ill health, he had
submitted his resignation. Semlin expressed
his regret about the approaching departure,
and many in the audience were moved to
The days were clearly numbered for the
Cache Creek Boarding school. Though the
monthly attendance had reached a respectable average of twenty-five students during
1883-86, the numbers declined steadily
thereafter, partly due to the opening of day
schools in the neighbouring communities of
Ashcroft and Kamloops. The building itself
was in need of repairs which the government
seemed reluctant to sanction. Ironically, the
teacher hired to oversee the final years ofthe
school was the younger brother of Archibald
Irwin. Joseph Irwin had also earned his first
teaching certificate at Perth and brought with
him, as his wife, the younger sister of Eleanor
Irwin. The number of trustees was expanded
to five, Vocal Music and Temperance were
added as areas of study, but the decline in
numbers of students was irreversible. In
1889, the government reduced its operating
grant to the school, and on 30 September
1890, the Cache Creek school was closed.
British Columbia's boarding school experiment was over.
Within less than two years, the small rural
school district of Cache Creek was created.
By 1893, beginning long tenures as trustees
for the new school district, were Charles
Augustus Semlin, James Campbell, and
Phillip Parke.
Bio Note: Wayne Norton is a Kamloops teacher
with a growing interest in local history. This
article first appeared in Reflections: Thompson
Valley Histories. Plateau Press, 1994 and is reprinted here courtesy of the publisher.
Footnotes: Information and assistance provided by Brian
Bonenfant, Trevor Schubert, Helen Forster at the
Ashcroft Museum, and the staff at the Kamloops
Museum were much appreciated.
1. British Colonist, 10 January 1873, p. 2.
2. British Colonist, 29 April 1873, p. 2.
3. British Colonist, 16 January 1874, p. 2.
4. British Colonist, 20 April 1873, p. 3.
5. British Colonist, 10 January 1874, p. 2.
6. Mary Balf, "Cache Creek School," Kamloops
Museum and Archives article #96.
7. M.S. Wade, "Blazing a Trail," Vancouver Daily
Province, 29 January 1921; British Colonist, 15 January
1874, p.3.
8. British Columbia, Journals ofthe Legislative
Assembly (38 Vic) Third Annual Report on the Public
Schools of British Columbia 1873-74, pp. 22-3.
9. British Colonist, 18 August 1874, p. 2 and 30
September 1874, p. 3.
10. British Colonist, 19 February 1875, p. 3.
11. British Colonist, 8 June 1875, p.3.
12. British Columbia, Sessional Papers (39 Vic). Fourth
Annual Report on the Public Schools of British
Columbia 1874-75, pp. 97-8.
13. British Colonist, 26 January 1876, p. 3.
14. The civil suit was settled in County Court the
following year with Jones receiving $276.65.
15. British Colonist, 12 April 1876, p. 3.
16. British Columbia, Sessional Papers (40 Vic). Fifth
Annual Report on the Public Schools of British
Columbia 1875-76, pp. 95-99.
17. C-A. Semlin to John Jessop, 17 March 1877. See
the British Colonist, 15 April 1877, p. 3.
18. R.M. Clemitson to John Jessop, 20 and 21 March
1877. See the British Colonist, 15 April 1877, p. 3.
Catherine Schubert had been the only woman to
accompany the well-known Overlander parry from
Manitoba. She gave birth to her daughter Rose, the first
child of European descent to be born in the interior of
British Columbia, soon after the parry arrived at
Kamloops in late October 1862. Rose Schubert and her
sister, Catherine Hernora, moved from Lillooet with
their mother to take up residence and become students
at the Cache Creek Boarding School in April 1877.
19. British Colonist, 25 April 1877, p. 2, and 26 April
1877, p. 2.
20. British Colonist, 15 April 1877, p. 2, and 17 April
1877, p. 2.
21. British Columbia. Sessional Papers (41 Vic). Sixth
Annual Report on the Public Schools of British
Columbia 1876-77, p. 24.
22. R.M. Clemitson to John Jessop, 24 July 1877.
Sessional Papers (41 Vic). Sixth Annual Report on Public
Schools of British Columbia 1876-77, p. 65.
23. Mrs. HA Fraser (nee Catherine Hernora
Schubert), "Reminiscences ofthe Old Days," Okanagan
Historical Journal 1950, p. 131.
24. British Columbia. Sessional Papers (50 Vic),
fifteenth Annual Report on the Public Schools of British
Columbia 1885-86, p. 160.
25. Inland Sentinel, 15 July 1886, p. 2.
26. Inland Sentinel, 2 July 1887, p. 3.
 See extra pictures on page 40. 	
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 A Bit ofthe Beaver
by Terry Julian
While reading the late Derek Pethick's
comprehensive book entided, S.S. Beaver;
The Ship That Saved The West,
I came to realize just how important that vessel was in B.C.'s early
This famous paddle-wheel
steamer arrived here in 1836
from England. It was the first of
its type to be seen in the Pacific
north of San Francisco and it had
a clear navigational advantage
over sailing vessels. In addition,
according to the then Governor
of the Hudson's Bay Company,
George Simpson, the Beaver exerted, "an almost superstitious influence over the savages... she was
the terror, whether present or
absent, of every tribe on the
That British Columbia joined
Canada and not the United States is due in
part to the Beaver. By assisting the Hudson's
Bay Company to triumph over American
competition, this vessel helped to sustain
Britain's political control.
The Beaver was also involved in a number
of historic events:
In 1837 James Douglas landed from the
steamboat at Clover Point near the site of
Victoria to explore the area as a possible trading post. Douglas returned in the Beaver to
build Fort Victoria in 1843.
The proclamation by Governor Douglas
on November 19,1858, at Fort Langley, creating the colony of British Columbia involved the Beaver as Douglas arrived and left
on that ship.
In 1863 the historic vessel was converted
to a survey boat and new charts of parts of
the Pacific Coast were created. Seymour Inlet was explored and named after Governor
Frederick Seymour.
Coal was discovered by men from the Beaver at Beaver Harbour located at the north
end of Vancouver Island. Pender Island was
named after Captain Pender ofthe Beaver.
This survey work lasted until 1870 when the
ship was sold and became a tow-boat and
cargo vessel.
In 1888 the S.S. Beaver was wrecked on
rocks near Prospect Point. It remained there
for four years until the steamer Yosemite
The steamer Beaver in Victoria harbour in 1870 after eight years under Admiralty
charter. Her superstructure was greatly enlarged for this spell of survey and
hydrographic work.
Courtesy Vancouver Public Library #4208
passed by at high tide, dislodged the Beaver,
and the latter went to the bottom ofthe narrows.
Pethick's book shows pictures of parts of
the Beaver, which were removed before the
hulk sunk or were brought up by divers later.
As I perused these photographs, I wondered
if any pieces were around today, other than
in museums. Subsequendy, I placed four-day
classified ads in the Vancouver Sun and
Province under the "Antiques" category.
They read, "Wanted to purchase, any item
from the historic S.S. Beaver. Please phone
A lady phoned to say she had the bell of
the Beaver which I knew to be suspect. The
dining room bell hangs in the Merchants'
Exchange in Vancouver. The engine room
bell is in the Provincial Archives and the
wheelhouse bell was stolen and never recovered.
The ads terminated and I was resigned to
About a week later a man phoned from
Gibsons and stated he had a cuff link made
of metal from the Beaver. Remembering a
photograph of one of these in Pethick's book,
I said I was very interested. These small ob-
jects or medals were made by Charles
McCain, a Vancouver book-seller, who had
made repeated trips to the wreck ofthe Beaver to remove pieces of copper. In 1894 he
published a slim book on the
Beaver in which he describes
how the medals were made.
To prove authenticity each
was numbered sequentially.
My caller had mentioned
that he had to visit a friend in
Vancouver and that he would
bring the souvenir to my
When he arrived I examined the cufflink carefully. It
had an inscription on one
side: "This copper was taken
from the wreck of H.B. Co's
S.S. Beaver, the first steamer
on the Pacific." The other side
contained a picture of the
shipwreck with, "Built 1835"
underneath and "Wreck ofthe
H.B.Co's S.S. Beaver, Vancouver, B.C.,"
around the outside. On the edge was a
stamped number "840."
I asked how he had obtained it. The story
was that his wife had been to a flea market
in Gibsons and purchased a tin full of buttons for fifty cents. Among the buttons was
the Beaver cufflink.
What are you asking for it? I queried.
"I haven't the foggiest notion," he replied.
"But as I am from Saskatchewan I am not
very interested in it."
Hesitatingly I ventured. "Is twenty-five
dollars ok?"
"Fine," he answered and the purchase was
And that is how I came to be the proud
possessor of, "a bit ofthe Beaver."
Bio Note: Terry Julian is a historian living in
New Westminster. His book, A CAPITAL
CONTROVERSY, is an amusing account of
why die capital was moved from New Westminster to Victoria.
Julian Terry. A Capital Controversy: The Story Of Why
The Capital Of British Columbia Was Moved From
New ^fcstminster To Victoria. Signature Publishing,
New Westminster, B.C., 1994.
McCain, Charles W. History ofthe S.S. Beaver. Evans and
Hastings, Vancouver, B.C., 1894.
Pethick, Derrick. S.S. Beaven The Ship That Saved The
West. Mirchell Press Limited, Vancouver, B.C., 1970.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 NEWS & NOTES
Fraser River History
Conference - October 1995
Registration and a wine and cheese social took
place at the Yale Museum on October 13.
Lectures were given in the historic St. John the
Divine church in downtown Yale. John Adams
of the Heritage Branch opened with an
"Overview of Yale History." John Green of
Agassiz related mind-boggling "Sasquatch
Stories of the Fraser Canyon." Ken Favrholt of
Kamloops, who is currently doing his Masters
at UBC on Fur Brigade Routes, spoke on The
Fur Trade and the Fraser Canyon." After an
outdoor luncheon Richard Mackie of Courtenay
spoke on "The HBCo in Transition" followed by
his colleague Dan Marshall of Cobble Hill who
presented "The 1858 Fraser River Gold Rush."
Cemeteries specialist John Adams conducted
a tour of the Pioneer Cemetery. An excellent
banquet included entertainment by musicians
and a talk by T.W. Paterson. The delegates
drove to Spuzzum Band Conference Hall on
Sunday morning to learn the history of the
Spuzzum Band, and hear archaeologist Robin
Hooper present information on "The Early
Chinese in Yale." Kathryn Bridge told of "Sarah
Crease's 1880 trip up the Fraser River." There
was a guided walk through downtown Yale then
many of the participants geared up for an
exciting ride on one of three river rafts. They
stopped at Hill's Bar and Emory Bar, tried
panning for gold and disembarked at Hope.
The conference was subscribed to the limit by
history buffs from far and wide; every motel
room in Yale, Spuzzum and even some motels
in Hope were taken for this weekend. Organizers are contemplating offering a similar event in
the future.
Elsie Grant Turnbull 1903-
Elsie Turnbull passed away on January 7,1996
at Crofton Manor, Vancouver, a few days after
her 92nd birthday. Elsie was a founder of the
Trail Historical Society and served on the
Council of the B.C. Historical Asociation /
Federation for many years serving as President
in 1955-56. She wrote many books and articles
on B.C. history, almost all describing the West
Kootenay area. Her files of research for these
presentations are now housed in the library at
Selkirk college in Castlegar. She lived most of
her married life in Trail, B.C. where her
husband worked as a senior engineer for
Cominco, and sat as an MLA in Victoria from
1949-1952. Both Mr. & Mrs. Turnbull became
active in the Victoria Historical Society from the
time they moved to Victoria until Doug's death
in 1993. Her last book, Ghost Towns and
Drowned Towns of West Kootenay, Heritage
House 1988 is still a best seller.
John Woodworth Honored
A retired architect from Kelowna received the
Gabrielle Leger Award from Heritage Canada
at the Annual Conference in St. Boniface,
Manitoba, on October 14,1995. John
Woodworth has served as Chairman of the
Nature Conservancy of Canada, and is in his
twenty-third year as a Founding Director of the
Nature Trust of British Columbia. He also
helped found the Okanagan Similkameen
Parks Society, and promoted the creation of
Cathedral Park, Okanagan Mountain Park and
Kalamalka Lake Park. He is most recently
profiled as the driving force to have the
Alexander Mackenzie Voyageur Route (old
Quebec City to the Pacific, 8600 km) declared
a National Legacy by the federal government.
He has been the executive secretary and
newsletter editor for the Alexander Mackenzie
Trail Association. (Read his article in the B.C.
Historical News Vol. 26:2,1993.) Woodworth
kept us posted on the canoe trek of Lakehead
University students tracing Mackenzie's
explorations to Bella Coola where the 200th
Anniversary was celebrated on July 22,1993.
Woodworth earned recognition for his lifetime
dedication to these local and national heritage
projects, first with the Order of Canada in 1990
and now with the medal inspired by Mme
Leger, wife of a Governor-General. The first
Gabrielle Leger Award went to a former British
Columbian, Pierre Burton.
We add our congratulations to Mr. Woodworth
for "his genuine and lifelong commitment to
heritage... as a dedicated volunteer."
John Woodworth receiving Gabrielle Leger
Award from Chairman Sheldon Godfrey at
Heritage Canada's 1995 AGM, St. Boniface
College, Winnipeg (St. Boniface).
Canadian Museum of Flight
Not exactly a phoenix but nonetheless
figuratively reborn is the Canadian Museum of
Flight which was evicted by Surrey Council
from its Crescent Road site. (See the plaintive
story in the B.C. Historical News 27:4 Fall 1994
The enormous job of relocation was successfully achieved by the devoted efforts of a small
number of volunteer members. The museum
has now reopened at its new home, Hangar 3
at Langley Airport. This building is easily seen
from the Fraser Highway; it is at 5333 - 216th
Street, Langley.
Now firmly established after ten years of
uncertainty members are seeking ongoing
sponsorships to help ensure a flourishing
future. Most of the museum's historic aircraft
are on display. Ten of the more precious ones
are safely under cover. This includes the
Lysander which has not been seen since Expo
'86. Those indoors are displayed with more
supporting artifacts than before, plus there is a
gift shop with more room and variety of
souvenirs. This museum is open every day
from 10 am to 4 pm. We invite our old friends to
examine our new home and urge all to
encourage new visitors.l
Submitted by Jack Meadows of White Rock.
Cranbrook's Citizen of the
Marvin "Skip" Fennessy may be remembered
as head of the East Kootenay Historical
Associations's team which hosted the 1981
BCHF Conference. Fennessy has been
involved in the collection and preservation of
local history for many years PLUS being a
Scouter, a volunteer ambulance driver, a coach
and / or referee for hockey and baseball, and
sitting at the telephone in the Cancer Society's
office. "Skip" is currently the president of the
East Kootenay Historical Association. A history
book of Cranbrook is being readied for
Fennessy was honored at the Chamber of
Commerce luncheon on January 24,1996. In
his acceptance speech he urged those in the
audience to take care of what will be history
tomorrow; "Always write names, date and place
on the back of your pictures and store them in
a safe place." GOOD ADVICEI
Thord "Slim" Fougberg
Mr. Fougberg was active in heritage preservation in Pemberton and more recently with the
Bowen Island Historians. He passed away on
November 27,1995.
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BOOKSHELF
Books for review and book reviews should be sent directly to the Book Review Editor:
Anne Yandle, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6S1E4
Prince Ships of Northern B.C. Ships of the
Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian National
Railways. By Norman Hacking, Surrey, Heritage House Publishing, 1995. 72 p., fflus., index. $11.95
This short but important book fills a gap in the
history of B.C. coastal shipping. The part played
in it by G.T.F and CN. ships has been strangely
It is in great pert a tale of two presidents - Charles
Melville Hayes, the driving force behind the
construction of the Grand Trunk, and Sir Henry
Thornton, who rejuvenated the Canadian National in the nineteen-twenties. Both were anxious to take the measure of the C.P.R., and the
weapons they chose included ships and hotels. Hayes hoped to see Prince Rupert a city
of 50,000 in short order, and he envisaged its
fine harbour filled with ships, both ocean and
The CPR had its Princess fleet; he would have
a rival fleet of Princes. For his first top-line ships
- Prince Rupert and Prince George - he went
to the Newcastle yard that had built the CPR. 's
famous Princess Victoria. One innovative feature set them apart - they were the first passenger ships of any size to have cruiser sterns.
Entering service in 1910, they would sail the
coast with notable success for a generation and
Hayes was a victim of the Titanic disaster in
1912, but ten years and a war later Thornton
became president of the Canadian National,
which had absorbed the Grand Trunk. Like
Hayes, he was prepared to challenge the C.P.R.
on the two key services - the Vancouver - Victoria - Seattle triangle route, and the northern
run to Prince Rupert and Alaska. Three new
top-line Princes were built (but royalty was forgotten - the Prince Henry was named after
Thornton himself and the Prince David and
Prince Robert honoured two C.N.R vice-presidents). Unfortunately they were the wrong ships
at the wrong time. Clumsy in appearance, expensive to run, and hard to handle in narrow
waters, their chief attraction was luxurious accommodation. They entered service in 1929,
just in time to be caught in the depression and
the Second World War added to their difficulties. They were soon stripped of their fine fittings and reconstructed as armed merchant
cruisers for the Canadian Navy. None of them
returned to CN. ownership.
All this time the elderly Prince Rupert and
Prince George had carried on, but in 1945
the Prince George was destroyed by fire. The
Prince Rupert was withdrawn at age 40 in
1950, but she still managed to cross the Pacific
to a Japanese shipbreaker under her own
steam. Meanwhile, in 1948, she had been replaced by a new Prince George, built at
Esquimalt - an attractive ship that sailed successfully until 1975, when some fire damage
to her accommodation forced her retirement
Sold by the C.N., she entered upon a second
20-year career that included a variety of odd
jobs up and down the coast Her last years were
spjent tied up at Britannia Beach, where she
was about to serve as a floating restaurant and
hotel. There, as recently as October 1995, she
was swept by fire (the enemy of both Prince
Georges) and the history of top-line Canadian
National coastal ships came to an end.
The book also deals with the lesser units of the
fleet, notably the Prince John and the yachtlike Prince Charles, which served the Queen
Charlottes for twenty years. Fifty illustrations
add to the book's attractiveness, and the precision with which developments are dated makes
it an invaluable work of reference.
W. Kaye Lamb
Dr. Lamb, an ex-Dominion Archiuist and
Librarian, is former Honorary President of
the B.C. Historical Federation.
Operating on the Frontier; Memoirs of a
Pioneer Neurosurgeon. Frank A. Turnbull. Madeira Rark, Capilano Publishing, 1995. 307.,
illus. $29.95 cloth; $18.95 paper. (Box 219,
Madeira Park, B.C. V0N2H0).
Good medical biographies Eire rare; autobiographies even more so. But the memoirs of
Dr. Frank Turnbull will go a long way to modifying the stereotyped opinion that they are dull.
The title itself is a mild pun, for his career in
neurosurgery began not long after that of
Harvey Cushing and of Wilder Ftenfield, and
extended right up till he was 80 years of age.
Coming to \foncouver with his family from
Bruce County, Ontario, at the age of four, Frank
Turnbull grew up in the Mount Pleasant area
of Vancouver where his father was a hard working and respected medical practitioner. He
writes of his embarrassment at having to wear
home-made clothes during the depression of
1911-12, of going to North Vancouver with his
brother to get the family Christmas tree, and
bringing it home via the old North Van Ferry
and B.C. Electric street car, and at the age of
fourteen of chauffeuring his father on house
calls during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918.
He attended UBC when it was still located
in the Fairview shacks at the site of the Vancouver General Hospital. For the first two summers cis a university student he was employed
by the Hydrographic Survey near Bella Bella,
and soon made himself indispensable by mastering the technique of drying out the tempjera-
mental magnetos of the primitive outboard
motors. In his spare time he did a little exploring on his own, and discovered a hitherto uncharted inlet now named after him, at the
northwest corner of Calvert Island, off the
mouth of Rivers Inlet
Following graduation he literally stowed away
on a tramp steamer in Vancouver harbour, and
signed on as a crewman after the ship reached
U.S. waters. On arrival in the U.K. he was ar
rested because his seaman's papers, (the
equivalent of a passport for a sailor) stated incorrectly that he was a resident of Vancouver,
Washington. On the return voyage he was
placed in the ship's brig, but on arrival back in
New York he unexpectedly found his cell unlocked, so he just walked out and made his
way up to Toronto where a place was waiting
for him in the medical school.
The University of Toronto medical school at
this time had suddenly been propelled onto the
world scene by the discovery and development
of insulin by Banting, Best, McLeod and Collip.
Hart House had been built as a male bastion
of culture by the Massey family in memory of
their brother who had died in World War I, and
Connaught Laboratories were under way as
the world leader in the production not only of
insulin, but of sera and antisera for various communicable diseases. The Sick Children's Hospital had been built and become the
fountainhead for much of the scientific paediatrics in Canada.
Dr. Turnbull graduated from the University
of Toronto in 1928, and went to England for a
year in neurology, an interest fostered by his
physician father in Nfoncouver with whom he
had spent a couple of summers as an assistant
On return to Toronto for further studies he became caught in the crossfire between the medical neurologists, and the neurosurgeons. He
was taken on as the first resident in neurosurgery by Professor K.G. McKenzie (1893-1964),
Canada's first neurosurgeon, completing his
training in 1931.
On attempting to set up a specialist neurosurgical service in Nfoncouver Dr. Turnbull was
stonewalled by the surgical establishment in the
Vancouver General Hospital, for fear the better trained man would take over their "head
cases" in the hospital, (not necessarily an act
of professional jealousy, for these were depression days, and a number of Vancouver doctors
were on social welfare).
Prior to World War II Dr. Turnbull had joined
the militia, and on the outbreak of hostilities he
was mobilized but detained in Vancouver for a
couple of years until another neurosurgeon
arrived, when he was posted to the Canadian
army neurosurgical hospital in Basingstoke.
However, his wartime career, while technically
that of a consultant, is related more in terms of
an observer on the battlefields of Europe, the
non-medical aspects of which constitute an interesting story in itself.
On return to civilian life, Dr. Turnbull became
an impjortant arbiter in sorting out some of the
many problems in organized medicine at the
time. His lifelong interest in books led him to
become a member of the Vancouver Library
Board for several years, and its chairman for
two. As one of the more articulate members of
the civic Save our Rarklands Association, he
was directly involved in preventing many of our
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BOOKSHELF
green spaces from falling prey to developers.
Dr. Turnbull has accomplished far more in
his lifetime than the average professional person would dream of. We are fortunate indeed
that he has left a very readable record of more
than narrow medical interest
Adam C. Waldie, MD.
Adam Waldie is a member of the Vfancou-
ver Historical Society and a retired medical
Canada Dry: Temperance Crusades before
Confederation. By Jan Noel. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. 310 pp. illus., index, bibliography. $50.00 cloth; $19.95 paper.
My mother used to warn me that someday a
Sunday School teacher would urge me to sign
a temperance pledge. I should not sign it, she
insisted, because I would almost certainly not
keep it I did have several opportunities to take
the pledge, but under pressure much less severe than she experienced in her youth. As far
as my children were concerned, I do not recall
the question ever coming up. So the temperance pledge is history, and surprisingly fascinating history at that
Early nineteenth century society was unimaginably soggy. Workers, from fishermen to
housebuilders were routinely paid in raw rum,
and drinking on the job was common, even
encouraged. Families, including small children,
drank spirits at every meal, and used them to
treat every ailment Because of its time frame,
Jan Noel's book says little about British Columbia, but makes readers with an interest in
forestry cringe at the picture of New Brunswick
lumbermen felling trees after a liquid breakfast
Noel focuses less on the reformed than on
the reformers: lower Canadian farm folk and
bom-again businessmen, American-bom F*res-
byterian merchants influenced by millennialist
theology; middle-class reformers and radical
mechanics embracing a self-help philosophy.
The movement was both class-based and religious; the "conjunction of a vigorous evangelical movement with the growth of a class whose
prospects were threatened by widespread
drunkenness." At mid-century the centre of the
movement shifted from Montreal, where the
Temperance Society's uncompromising evangelism was alienating even some Methodist
clergy, to Toronto, which would soon become
"the Good", with an emphasis on community
progress rather than religion. In French Canada
the movement became an important part of a
Catholic revival: "The triumph of temperance
was not expected (as some Protestants believed) to usher in the end of the world but,
rather, the birth of a mighty Catholic nation."
In the light of current events in Quebec, it is
important to be reminded that the leaders in
the 1830s were radical reformist politicians; that
only in the next decade did the compelling influence move to the ultramontane clergy.
This is a lively book, full of characters and
camp meetings, glimpses of a society on the
move. My favourite character, in a chapter en
titled "Mothers of the Millennium", is Mrs.
Forbes of Russelltown, Lower Canada, whose
energy and achievements are extolled in a letter written by a Presbyterian missionary in
1822: "Soon would the millennium come, were
each Christian in his place as efficient as this
devoted female."
The impact of the tempjerance movement
was weak in western garrison towns and frontier areas such as early Winnipeg and Victoria,
with their "overwhelmingly male populations
and rudimentary institutional development"
But western historians will find much of interest in the chapters "The Bottle and the Hudson's Bay Company" and "Red River
Crusades". Bibliography, notes and index are
Phyllis Reeve
Phyllis Reeve is the great-great-great niece
of Mrs. Forbes of Russelltown, Lower
Loo, Tina., Making Law, Order & Authority
in British Columbia 1821-1871. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1994. 239 p. $45.00
cloth, $18.95 paper.
This well-researched book presents the thesis that the discourse of liberalism was central
to the development of law, order and authority in nineteenth century British Columbia. In
seven chapters, Ms. Loo gives the reader the
details important in the maturation of British
Columbia's legal structure. Each is a story complete in itself, but transitions are made easily
and her accounts of individual incidents merge
smoothly into a unified whole.
Ms. Loo commences her book with a long
and somewhat pedantic introduction which
may prove intimidating to some readers. Once
past that, however, her work gains color and
vitality, and she proves a fine historian whose
research is immaculate and whose choice of
quotations from varied contemporary sources
is both apt and enlightening.
In the beginning, a rudimentary system of
laws was created by fur traders. The "Club
Law" of the Hudson's Bay Company suppressed any activities threatening to the company's welfare. In this hierarchical system, the
company's chief officers had complete authority over the territory. After Vancouver Island's
promotion to colony in 1845, independent
immigrants refused to submit to the laws proposed by these private interests. Petitions for
the revocation of many of these laws were sent
to the British Colonial Office, and years of legal
wrangling ensued.
The 1858 gold rush diverted the attention of
the colonial government as newcomers poured
into the Fraser Valley seeking their fortunes. A
series of inferior courts were set up, conducted
by resident stipendiary magistrates who were
often totally without legal training. Ms. Loo
traces the development of these courts (which
dealt with a multitude of civil suits over land
ownership and mining claims), and the eventual creation of small debts courts and of a Su
preme Court of Civil Justice before the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island
were joined in 1866.
A dramatic chapter of the book is devoted
to the significant Cranford vs. Wright lawsuit
over an unpaid debt in 1862. In this controversial case and in the ensuing appeal, Judge
Matthew Baillie Begbie is seen as a stubborn
autocrat who considered his judgment superior to the law, ignoring evidence and refusing
to accept the majority verdict of the jury. This
unfairness was widely discussed, and public
opinion in the end reinforced reliance upon
written law and upon lawyers to decipher it In
the author's words it "revealed that the ethical
basis on which British Columbians measured
the legitimacy of the law's authority was one
constructed by laissez faire liberalism and reinforced by the economic and social realities of
life in a new colony".
By 1866, Judge Begbie had not changed his
personal interpretation of justice, reversing his
earlier decision made in the Grouse Creek War,
before his appointment to the Chancery Court
Great indignation at his arbitrary rulings showed
that community sentiment could not be ignored, however, as British Columbians now
demanded equality of treatment before the law.
In her last chapter, Ms. Loo argues that this
liberal notion of law was central to the thinking
of British Columbian settlers. This was demonstrated in the "Bute Island Massacre" of 1864.
A road from Bute Inlet near Bella Bella to the
Cariboo gold mines was being built by an entrepreneur named Waddington. Eighteen white
workmen were murdered by members of the
Chilcotin tribe, who had been packing supplies
for them. There is much ambiguity about the
circumstances of the Chilcotins' surrender and
subsequent execution by hanging. One newspaper, the British Columbian, stated that the
affair "has afforded the Government an excellent opportunity of most forcibly illustrating to
the Indians the great superiority of English law."
Ms. Loo points out that this illustration, leading
to a clash between two different conceptions
of justice in liberal societies, has yet to be resolved in British Columbia.
In the book's concluding sentences, Ms. Loo
says we must "come to understand how change
comes about and the terms under which it is
possible, but also keep historical agents - people - in the foreground of making it". In her
book, the author has done precisely that
John S. Keenlyside
John Keenlyside is a Vancouver Investment Counsellor, interested in the legal
history of B.C.
Just East of Sundown; the Queen Charlotte Islands. Charles Lillard. Victoria,
Horsdal & Schubart 1995.180 p., illus.
map. $14.95
In the 1989 anthology of writings on the
Queen Charlotte Islands, The Ghostland
People, editor Charles Lillard noted the
absence of a short, readable history of the
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BOOKSHELF
Islands. Six years later he had ably filled this
gap with Just East of Sundown.
To write about the history of the Queen Charlottes is to write about the Haida, and Lillard's
book appropriately devotes significant space to
their origins and pre-Europjean settlement history. It is not until page 101 of the 158 pages
of text that the 1863 smallpox epidemic is discussed. The book concludes appropriately with
the declaration of the South Moresby/Gwaii
Haanas National Park and the return of the sea
otter to Island waters.
Lillard notes that as the sea otter is returning, so Island development is following a circular path. Non-Haida settlement has always been
tenuous on the Islands and this is stiU very much
the case with shrinking employment opportunities due to less logging, the reduced military
presence, and declining salmon stocks jeopardizing the sports fisher. The potential damage to
the fragile ecosystem, combined with the Islands' remoteness, ensures that tourism is unlikely to ever maintain, let alone increase
population levels. The Haida remain and "soon
some Island areas will be as wild as they were
100 years ago."
Just East of Sundown is a readable and
useful primer, including a seven page bibliography, a listing of selected place names, and
24 small black and white photographs.
I read Just East of Sundown while visiting
the Islands. A well-read Islander described the
book to me as "written in a library, but none
the worse for it" We should be thankful that
Charles Lillard logged all those library hours.
Paul Whitney
Paul Whitney is Director of the Bumaby
Public Library
Silver, Lead & Hell: the story of Sandon.
Veronika Pellovski, Sandon, B.C., Prospectors'
Pick Publishing, 1992. 144 p., illus. $16.95
(Available from publisher, Box 369, New
Denver, B.C. VOG ISO)
In September 1891, Eli Caipenter and Jack
Seaton accidentally discovered an outcrop of
high grade galena ore high in the mountains
above the future site of Sandon. Within a short
time it seemed that almost the entire region was
staked with mineral claims and land settlements
in what became known as the Silvery Slocan.
Before the beginning of the twentieth century,
Sandon had become its unofficial capital with
a population of around 5,000 inhabitants.
The title of this book is extracted from a quotation by the colourful and prolific newspaperman, "Colonel" Robert Thornton Lowery
("Silver, lead and hell are raised in the Slocan
and unless you can take a hand in producing
these articles your services are not required.")
In fact, Lowery's Paystreak along with
Sandon's three other newspapers, The Mining Review, The Mining Standard and The
Standard were great sources of information for
the author.
Silver, Lead and Hell is an excellent social
history of Sandon. It is divided into twenty-two
thematic chapters which deal with such topics
as businesses (including 28 hotels), sports,
schools, churches, medical services, mines,
miners (strike to establish the eight hour workday), mills, transportation (horses, railways and
tramways), hydro-electric power, Japanese internment (1942-44). The fire of 1900, reconstruction and the difficulties with the main street
flume for Carpenter and Sandon Creeks are
well described. Historic photographs and various illustrations appear on almost every page -
they are well selected and complement the text
The 21.5 x 28 cm. (8.5 xll in.) format, use of
off-white paper and reproduction of the photos in sepia tone are additional ingredients that
make this a superb publication.
Veronika Pellowski, a native of Glasgow,
Scotland, and a lawyer by profession, after living in a variety of countries, eventually found a
less stressful way of life in Sandon. It is obvious
from this book that she has become a dedicated Sandon resident and a keen promoter
of its future tourist potential. In fact, her enthusiasm is evidenced in her frequent use of the
exclamation mark (this reviewer tallied at least
A series of current photographs (1992) and
descriptions of these Sandon landmarks, a
"Chronological History in a Nutshell" and an
index are useful additions to the main story.
However, the bibliography is a bit weak and
lacks complete imprint information (place of
publication, publisher and date) which could
be frustrating for someone wishing to do further reading. Nevertheless, this book is very
good value for the money and it is recommended to those who are interested in the history of one of the province's more colourful
mining communities.
Ron Welwood
Ron Welwood, a resident of Nelson, is
First Vice-President ofthe B.C. Historical
Winifred Grey: A Gentlewoman's
Remembrances of Life in England and the
Gulf Islands of British Columbia 1871-1910.
Edited by Marie Elliott, Gulf Islands Press,
Friesen Printers, 216 p., $14.95.
This book is based on a handwritten manuscript prepared by Winifred (Higgs) Grey for
the benefit of her own family. Marie Elliott has
conducted extensive research to ascertain the
details pertaining to the schools, businesses,
church and homes of the Spalding and Higgs
families in England. She steeped herself in studies of etiquette and dress in the Victorian era to
be able to interpret Winifred's notes where
necessary. Winifred's daughter on South
Pender Island has been a close family friend to
the editor/author and several of her cousins
shared their memories and family archives.
The story of a girl growing up in England in
the 1880s and '90s is well told, recording several moves by her family and of education given
in fits and starts in private schools which were
struggling to become established.
This book has very readable footnotes. An
example: "Fhrivate schools were a secondary
industry on the south coast of England after
1850. Directories for the 1880s and 1890s listed
125 pjrivate schools at Brighton, 70 at Hastings, 67 at Eastbourne, and 50 at Bournemouth. See The English Seaside Resort.
Winifred's brother and a young uncle came
to Ftender Island to establish homes. Leonard's
wife followed as soon as a log cabin was ready
to receive her. An invitation, accompanied by
sketches and photographs, enticed Winifred
and her sister Mabel to the Gulf Islands in 1896.
What these young ladies experienced during
that visit inspired them to tidy up affairs in England and return as immigrants in 1897.
Descriptions of life on the Gulf Islands from
1897-1920 introduce the reader to other pioneers. Among those described are three who
have been profiled in Peter Murray's recent
book Home from the Hill; Warburton Pike,
Clive Phillips Wolley, and Martin Grainger.
There are episodes telling of travel by a small
boat in fair weather and foul, caring for a cow
and chickens, social gatherings, church beginnings, and a friendly look at life in those early
years. Elliott's book does not drop you where
Winifred's original writing ceases; she has a
short postscript which summarizes what happened to the principal figures later. All in all,
this book is certainly a Good Read.
Naomi Miller
Scoundrels, Dreamers and Second Sons.
MarkZuehlke. Victoria, Whitecap Books, 1994.
211 p., illus. $14.95
What a welcome change this book is from
the oft dreary tales of hardship and inconsequential details that clog the pages of "history
For the title, "Scoundrels, Dreamers and
Second Sons" tells all. This informative and
entertaining book of the British remittance men
in the Canadian West is a first but could well
not be the last for most Canadians past forty
or fifty are curious about them, a curiosity
brought about by personal memories or by stories told by older relatives.
The book begins with a revealing explanation of what led to the coming of these individuals: Up to the Crimean War there was an
iron-clad acceptance of the 'aristocratic monopoly of power and place in both the military
and civil service' in class-conscious Britain. The
wealthy were able to purchase commissions in
the military for sons, regardless of qualifications
or ability, but this doorway was closed formally
in 1871. Similarly, by the early 1870's, "...most
civil-service openings were filled by open competition..." The other acceptable careers for
upper-crust men, church, law, and medicine,
were similarly cut off, as the schools were for
the first time being made available to anyone
who had ability and the financial resources.
Why did the 'upper class' not adapt to these
changing conditions? - The ingrained class sys-
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BOOKSHELF
tem meant that this possibility was not considered. Young men who were products of the
public school system, taught from birth they
were superior beings, were unable or unwilling
to accept that change had come. And those
public schools taught little or nothing that was
of practical value.
The two things all of these men appear to
have had in common, other than privileged
birth, was a consummate belief in their own
superiority, a belief that remained unshaken
even after almost unbelievable episodes showing their inadequacy, and their ability to pursue a life of constant enjoyment Because of
the public school training they had an obsession with games, and drinking, hunting, and
other leisure pursuits were a lifestyle. Cricket,
polo, tennis, and the other spjorts played in
Britain were played here with boundless enthusiasm.
Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments
of these men was the amount of hilarity they
caused wherever they went For the lives of
many of the lesser mortals the remittance men
regarded as 'Colonials' were much enriched
and made more bearable by the oft-repeated
stories, the many laughs, brought about by 'remittance' antics. Small wonder, for they arrived
complete with monocles, tweeds, breeches,
tennis rackets, polo mallets, straw hats,
tuxedoes... Who could not laugh at stories of
men buying farms, planting orchards, living on
ranches, when they had neither the knowledge
to run them, nor the desire to do so?
The book ranges over Western Canada, with
accounts of Cannington Manor in Saskatchewan, Walhachin here in B.C., ranches in Alberta, and many others. In our own Okanagan,
the communities founded and peopled by remittance types often resulted in lasting towns;
in other cases, as that of Cannington Manor
nothing survived and all ended up as a farmer's wheatfield.
Any Canadian (or 'Colonial' in the remittance
men's view) who has ever wondered about
these men should read this book. The answers
to the many questions these "Scoundrels,
Dreamers and Second Sons" raised are all
Kelsey McLeod
Kelsey McLeod is a member of the
Vancouver Historical Society.
The S.S. Moyie - Memories of the Oldest
Sternwheeler. Robert D. Turner, Victoria,
Sono Nis Press, 1991. 60 p., illus. $11.95.
The Kootenay Lake settlement of Kaslo enjoys one of the most spectacular settings in the
whole of beautiful British Columbia. The
sternwheel steamboat Moyie, which worked
diligently on Kootenay Lake for the Canadian
Pacific Railway from 1898 to 1957, has since
her retirement been beached as a museum on
Kaslo's enticing waterfront Local initiative and
government funding have combined in recent
years to preserve the vessel from the ravages
of time. She is graduaUy being restored to a
state representative of that which obtained in
1929, midway in her long and varied career.
A reception centre has been built adjacent
to the beached Moyie and laudable attempts
are made through lectures and video presentations to provide visitors with an interpretation of steamboating days before they proceed
to tour the boat Robert Turner's The S.S.
Moyie is prominently featured among the literature for sale at the reception centre and one
presumes that the primary purpose of the book
is to reinforce the impressions gained by visitors to the vessel.
The author of a brief interpretative book of
this nature has to exert considerable discrimination in selecting his material. Sufficient background on the working life of the vessel has to
be provided without embroiling the reader in a
full-fledged treatise on the history of steam transportation in the Kootenay District Sufficient
detail on the design of the hull and machinery
has to be provided for steamboat enthusiasts
without immersing the more casual reader in a
bath of technical jargon. Within the confines of
this type of book Turner examines the different
roles played by the versatile Moyie over nearly
six decades of service life. She served as a passenger/express steamer, an excursion boat, a
tramp freighter and a tug barging railway cars
and highway vehicles. The book is liberally illustrated and the vessel is shown at work in her
various capacities throughout her career.
Should a second edition of this book be contemplated, I would urge the author to jettison
some of the copious pictures of excursion
crowds and to make the following use of the
space thereby provided:
(a) include a photograph of the Arrow Lakes
sternwheeler Lytton taken in the early days of
Kootenay steamboating. The prow of the
Lytton is nosed up on the shore amid a welter
of cordwood, sacked ore and pack horses. Such
an illustration goes far in telling the story of how
dependent the burgeoning mining economy of
the Kootenay District was on the sternwheeler
in the days before railways, highways and internal combustion vehicles were part of the picture.
(b) include accounts of the two narrow escapes from foundering experienced by the
Moyie. The first occurred early in her career
when she wandered off course in the heavy
wind and sleet of a November night and
grounded on the remote, unfriendly southwest
shore of Kootenay Lake. The second occurred
late in her career when she broke her
sternwheel shaft and wallowed helplessly in a
storm with no other suitable vessel nearby to
come to her rescue. It seems ironic that a vessel which had come so often to the assistance
of other members of the Kootenay Lake fleet
in distress should be left in the lurch in this fashion. Such accounts would provide a missing
flavour of the hazards of steamboating on
Kootenay Lake's treacherous waters.
EX. Affleck
The Sicamous & the Naramata - Steamboat Days in the Okanagan. Robert D.
Turner. Victoria, Sono Nis Press, 1995. 72 p.,
illus. $13.95.
In 1984, Victoria's Sono Nis press published
Robert Turner's Sternwheelers and Steam
Tugs, a profusely illustrated account of the
major steamboat fleets which plied the Columbia River Waterways in B.C.'s Okanagan and
West Kootenay Districts. Over the ensuing decade, heritage efforts to restore and preserve
existing remnants of those fleets have prompted
Turner to publish smaller scale works focusing
on specific vessels undergoing restoration and
Increasing awareness of heritage values
spurred the formation in 1988 of the S.S.
Sicamous Restoration Society, centred in
Penticton, B.C. The retired C.P.R. Okanagan
Lake sternwheeler Sicamous had been a feature of Penticton's waterfront since 1951, but
had in retirement been subjected to considerable dismantling and alteration to suit various
retirement uses and abuses. Notwithstanding
her steel hull, she was in a sad state of deterioration by 1988. Since that time a combination
of local initiative and government funding has
resulted not only in steps being taken to restore the Sicamous to her trim 1937 condition but also to bring the retired C.P.R. tug
Naramata, rusting away at her berth in
Okanagan Landing, down to Penticton to join
the Sicamous as part of a Penticton waterfront
museum complex. Restoration continues on
both vessels, so that renewed visits to observe
developments are warranted from time to time.
Robert Turner's The Sicamous & The
Naramata appears to have been written primarily to assist with the interpretation of the
museum's exhibits, but the work also deals in
lucid fashion with eight decades of Canadian
Pacific Railway steamboating on Okanagan
Lake in sufficient detail to satisfy all but the most
fanatic steamboat enthusiast Services on the
Lake embraced passenger and express, mixed
passenger and way freight, and barging of rail-
car barges to and from railway transfer points.
Those unable to visit the Penticton exhibits will
find considerable solace in perusing Turner's
amply illustrated book. The passages dealing
with tine indignities visited upon the Sicamous
over her years of retirement are particularly engrossing as they illuminate shifting attitudes towards B.C.'s heritage. Turner, as ever, is
assiduous in providing the steamboat lovers
with technical details on the hull construction
and propulsive equipment of the Naramata
and the Sicamous.
The Canadian Pacific Railway seems to have
been relatively niggardly in providing steamboat service on Okanagan Lake at the turn of
the century. The 1898 collapse of the project
to build a railway from the head of navigation
on the Stikine River through the Cassiar to the
Teslin headwaters of the Yukon waterway left
the C.P.R. with a staggering dozen
sternwheelers in various stages of construction
B.C. Historical News - Spring 1996 BOOKSHELF
for service on the Stikine. Frames for two of
these vessels were diverted to the Kootenay
District for assembly. Burgeoning traffic at this
time on the wagon roads out of Penticton to
the mining camps in South Okanagan and
Similkameen would seem to have merited shipping frames from another of these vessels to
Okanagan Landing to ease the burden on the
company's sternwheeler Aberdeen, which was
then the major carrier between the railhead at
Okanagan Landing and Penticton, but no such
steps were undertaken. On the other hand the
CPR. continued to provide first class passenger and express service on Okanagan Lake
throughout the early years of the Great Depression long after highway development had drastically reduced demand for it The barging of
railway cars to railhead at Kelowna and
Penticton, particularly during the fruit season,
remained active in post World War D years, long
after one would have suspected that the trucking industry would have brought it to a halt
These are but a few of many conundrums in
20th century railway and steamboat transportation policy in Southern British Columbia
which await scholarly rumination. In the meantime we shall be grateful for the generous
amount of information which Turner has provided us in The Sicamous & The Naramata.
A gift of the book to anyone who has left a part
of his heart in the Okanagan Valley is bound to
evoke nostalgia from the recipient
EX. Affleck
Affleck is author of Sternwheelers,
Sandbars and Switchbacks (1973) and other
shorter works involving pioneer vessels
plying B.C. waterways
Also Noted:
The Valencia Tragedy. Michael C. Neitzel.
Surrey, Heritage House, 1995. 112 p., iUus.,
map. $11.95. "On Vancouver Island's west
coast in 1906 unfolded a story of cowardice
and betrayal that remains the 'most shameful
incident in Canadian Maritime History"'.
Okanagan Irrigation: the early years.
Wayne Wilson. Kelowna, Kelowna Centennial
Museum Association, 470 Queensway Avenue,
Kelowna BC V1Y 6S7. Kelowna Museum Series 1. 13 p., illus. $2.95.
British Columbia Crate Labels. Wayne
Wilson. Kelowna, Kelowna Centennial Museum Association. Kelowna Museum Series 2.
14 p., illus. $2.95.
Carl F. Gould; a life in architecture and
the arts. T. William Booth and William H.
Wilson. Seattle, Univ. of Washington Press,
1995.227 p., illus. $40. (Gould was one of the
major shapers of modem Seattle.)
The New Loyalist Index. Vol. II. Paul J.
Bunnell. Collection of over 2000 names of colonists who sided with the British during the War
for Independence. $20. Heritage Books, Inc.
1540-E Fbinter Ridge PI., Ste 301, Bowie, MD
Cache Creek Boarding School. The first section was built m 1873/74 and enlarged in 1875. The school closed
September 30, 1890.
Courtesy Kamloops Museum & Archives #2547a
Catherine Schubert, matron ofthe Cache Creek Provincial Boarding School from 1877 to 1883.
Courtesy Kamloops Museum and Archives
His Honour, the Honorable Garde B. Gardom Q.C.
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Recording Secretary
Members at Large
Past President
Alice Glanville
Ron Welwood
Marjorie Leffler
T. Don Sale
R. George Thomson
Doris J. May
Wayne Desrochers
Melva Dwyer
Myrtle Haslam
Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. VOH 1 HO 442-3865
RR #1, S22 C1, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5P4 825-4743
516 Willow St, Parksville, B.C. V9P 1A4 248-3431
262 Juniper St, Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 1X4 753-2067
249 Goodyear Rd., Qualicum Beach, B.C. V9K 2A3 757-2093
2943 Shelbourne St, Victoria, B.C. V8R 4M7 595-0236
8811 - 152nd St, Surrey, B.C. V3R 4E5 581 -0286
2976 McBride St, Surrey, B.C. V4A 3G6 535-3041
Box 10, Cowichan Bay, B.C. VOR 1 NO 748-8397
B.C. Historical News
Publishing Committee
Book Review Editor
Membership Secretary
Subscription Secretary
Historical Trails
and Markers
Publications Assistance
(not involved with
B.C. Historical News)
Margaret Stoneberg      Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Tony Farr
Anne Yandle
Naomi Miller
Nancy Peter
Margaret Matovich
John Spittle
125 Castle Cross Rd, Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2G1 537-1123
3450 West 20th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4 733-6484
Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0 422-3594
#7 - 5400 Patterson Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 2M5 437-6115
6985 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 3R6 522-5049
1241 Mount Crown Rd, North Vancouver, B.C.V7R 1R9 988-4565
Nancy Stuart-Stubbs     2651 York Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6K 1E6 738-5132
Contact Nancy for advice and details to apply for a loan toward the cost of publishing.
Scholarship Committee    Anne Yandle
Writing Competition
(Lieutenant Governor's
Pixie McGeachie
3450 West 20th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6S 1E4
7953 Rosewood St, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 2H4
(NOTE: All phone numbers listed use the area code 604) The British Columbia Historical News
P.O. Box 5254, Stn. B
Victoria, B.C. V8R6N4
Publications Mail
Registration No. 4447
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions of books for the fourteenth annual Competition for Writers of B .C. History.
' Any book presenting any facet of B.C. history, published in 1996, is eligible. This may be a community
History, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections giving a glimpse of the
past. Names, dates and places, with relevant maps or pictures, turn a story into "history."
The judges are looking for quality presentations, especially if fresh material is included, with appropriate
illustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate index, table of contents and bibliography, from first-time writers as well as established authors.
NOTE: Reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
The Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded to an individual writer whose
book contributes significantly to the forded history of British Columbia. Other awards will be made as
recommended by the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
All entries receive considerable publicity. Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award
and an invitation to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Nelson in June 1997.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in 1996 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property of the B.C. Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone number of sender,
the selling price of all editions of the book, and the address from which it may be purchased, if the reader has
to shop by mail. If by mail, please include shipping and handling costs if applicable.
SEND TO: B.C. Historical Writing Competition
c/o R McGeachie
7953 Rosewood Street, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 2H4
DEADLINE:      December 31,1996.
There is also an award for the Best Article published each year in the B.C. Historical News magazine.
This is directed to amateur historians or students. Articles should be no more than 3,000 words, typed double
spaced, accompanied by photographs if available, and substantiated with footnotes where applicable. (Photographs should be accompanied with information re: the source, permission to publish, archival number if
applicable, and a brief caption. Photos will be returned to the writer.) Word-processed manuscripts may also
be submitted on 3.5" disk (DOS or Macintosh) but please include a hard copy as well.
Please send articles directly to: The Editor, B.C. Historical News, P.O. Box 105, Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0


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