British Columbia History

British Columbia History 2015

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The British Columbia Historical Federation Magazine | Vol 48 No 1
*0 ,     *
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Spring 2015 • $7.00
and Furs
A rare account of
a Francophone
who participated
in the Cariboo
Gold Rush
^^    Building a French
[•IIIII 111 IIII vi
FM station in BC
French names
on Vancouver
French Canadians in
the Pacific Northwest
ISSN 1710-792X
British Columbia Historical Federation
111^ lORY
A charitable society under the Income Tax Act Organized 31 October 1922
*              JL. L v      '       JL       ^ii       '    -M-     ^ A-
PO Box 5254, Station B., Victoria BC V8R 6N4
British Columbia History is published four
times per year (Spring, Summer, Fall,
Under the Distinguished Patronage of
Winter) by the British Columbia Historical
The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
ISSN: print 1710-7881 online 1710-792X
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Subscriptions: $20.00 per year (CDN Funds)
Honorary President: Jacqueline Gresko
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Each year, the British Columbia Historical Federation offers two
Vancouver, BC, V5T 4R6
W. Kaye Lamb Scholarships for student essays relating to the
history of British Columbia.
Phone: 604.688.1175
Prize for a student in the 1st or 2nd year is $750
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Prize for a student in the 3rd or 4th year is $1,000
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Victoria, BC
or college in British Columbia.
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Candidates must submit their application for this scholarship by
History, Nelson, BC
May 15th, 2015.
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studies, and news items dealing with any
See full rules and criteria on the BCHF website:
aspect of the history of British Columbia, and
British Columbians.
Please submit manuscripts for publication
to the Editor, British Columbia History,
Andrea Lister
PO Box 21187, Maple Ridge BC
Likely French Canadians manning a canoe,
illustration by Carl W. Bertsch.
► a|——_^-_, ...  . '1S3H
V2X 1P7
Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur (New York: D. Appleton, 1931),
Submission guidelines are available at:
Er^V -''TflE^iffcS
Cover design: Bill Glasgow
Book reviews for British Columbia History,
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor,
BC History,
^JJ|  mi "in
Box 1053, Fort Langley, BC VIM 2S4
EDITORS                                                 COPY EDITORS
Andrea Lister                                   Ronald Greene                 Sarah Sewell
ISSN: 1710-7881
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor                 Catherine Magee              Erica Williams
Printed in Canada.
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Production Mail Registration Number
Publications Mail Registration No. 09835
We acknowledge the financial support of
Peter Broznitsky                 Sarah Sewell                ^^^n        FiriCl   US   OI~l
the Government of Canada through the
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Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of
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Published by the British Columbia Historical Federation | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
5       French Canadians, Furs, and
Indigenous Women
by Jean Barman
Without the presence of French Canadians in the
Pacific Northwest over two hundred years ago,
Canada's border may have ended at the Rocky
9       Francophone Culture in Early
by Carey Pallister
St. Ann's Academy, for more than 100 years the
western Provincial House of the Sisters of St. Ann,
its chapel and the original school, are physical
reminders of French Canadians.
1Q Many times I have cursed the
7 day I left you
by Forrest D. Pass
Relatively few Francophones participated in the
Cariboo Gold Rush. Honore Robillard's dismal letter
home cursing the day he left for BC provides some
insight into why.
1 "»    lirjf ..A*?J ':
Building CILS-FM: A French Radio
by Dr. Jacques P. Vallee
The goal was to build an autonomous Francophone
community broadcasting radio station in Victoria
with 24-hour French programming. A lot of work still
lay ahead.
^ f\ French Names on Vancouver
O v/Streetscapes
by Maurice Guibord
Vancouver's Francophone history goes over the
heads of many Vancouverites who need to look up to
see the French names embedded in the architecture.
40 Archives & Archivists
by Rosemarie Parent; edited by Sylvia Stopforth
Arrow Lakes Historical Society Archives: One Year in
the New Digs.
48 Cabinets of Curiosities
by Gisele Samson
The name Victor G. Brodeur appears on plaques and
buildings around Esquimalt, but who was this man
and what is his connection to BC?
3 Editor's Note
More than Voyageurs
4 Inbox
Letters from Readers
42  From the Book Review Editor's Desk
K. Jane Watt
New Books and Old Ways
46  New Books by Small Presses
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1     1
 British Columbia Historical Federation
A charitable society under the Income Tax Act Organized 31 October 1922
PO Box 5254, Station B., Victoria BC V8R 6N4 0 0
Under the Distinguished Patronage of The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Gary Mitchell
Phone 250.387.2992
K. Jane Watt
Phone 778.246.0981
Maurice Guibord
Phone 604.253.9311
Mobile 604.771.3047
Judy Lam Maxwell
Phone 604.418.8560
Kerri Gibson
Phone 250.386.3405
Fax: 250.361.3188
Barry Gough
Phone 250.592.0800
pas tpres ©
Jacqueline Gresko
Marie Elliott
Ron Hyde
Ken Wuschke
Diane Rogers
Brenda L. Smith
K. Jane Watt
Maurice Guibord
Ron Hyde
Marie Elliott
Gary Mitchell
Tom Lymbery
Phone: 250-227-9448
Fax 250-227-9449
Andrea Lister, Editor
British Columbia History
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor,
British Columbia History
Sylvia Stopforth, Archives &
Archivists Editor
British Columbia History
Andrea Lister, BCHF Newsletter
R.J. (Ron) Welwood, Website Editor
For awards and scholarship
information see inside back cover.
The British Columbia Historical Federation has been working since 1922 with historical
sites, societies, groups, museums, archives, etc. throughout British Columbia preserving
and promoting British Columbia's history.
The British Columbia Historical Federation is an umbrella organization embracing
a variety of membership categories which are interested in the preservation and
promotion of British Columbia's history.
Member Societies: Local and regional historical societies with objectives consistent with
those of the Federation. All dues paying members of the local or regional society shall be
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For further information about memberships contact:
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Or go directly to the UBC's library website at
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The archive of BCHF Newsletters can be found at
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 Editor's Note
More than Voyageurs
The French language and French
Canadians have always seemed
like a very eastern thing to me.
My exposure to it as a child
growing up in Chilliwack was primarily
listening to Montreal Canadiens'
hockey games broadcast in French. "La
troisieme etoile est Larry Robinson!"
Of course we learned about
the Voyageurs and were taught a bit
of French in elementary school and
then again in high school. None of
it seemed very relevant to present
British Columbia. I remember in grade
10 our teacher had us watch Jaws in
French and write down all the words we
understood. My friend Beth and I had
the piece of paper we were handing in
and another page between us. On the
piece of paper we were handing in we
wrote "alio" and on the one between
us we wrote "ahhhhh". Quite obviously
I never became bilingual and my French
is still pretty much limited to reading
the backs of cereal boxes.
Of course, as an adult my
understanding of French Canadians
in BC broadened but like many British
Columbians I tended to think of
Maillardville (established 1909-10) when
I thought of French Canadians in BC.
Recent publications by historians Bruce
Watson and Jean Barman relate a much
earlier story of Francophones in BC
(from the 1790s to the Fraser River Gold
Rush). Research is finally demonstrating
clearly that French Canadians were one
of the founding peoples of our province.
This issue of British Columbia History
brings you a few more stories.
As we prepared this issue we had to
make some decisions on how we would
standardize usage. Francophones from
Lower Canada had long been referred
to as "Canadiens" as opposed to those
who had emigrated more recently
from France, but one cannot assume
that all French names are from Lower
Canada. The 600 French men, political
immigrants from France, who came up
from San Francisco for the Fraser Gold
Rush were French, but certainly not
French Canadians. While there was no
Canada per se until 1867, Lower and
Upper Canada did exist as political
entities, so "French Canadians" has
been used, along with "Canadiens" for
this early period. We felt that French
Canadians might be the proper middle
ground for our modern readers. We have
standardized the use of capitalization
and hyphenation in all articles per their
established format in Government of
Canada publications: French Canadian,
French Canadians — noun; French-
Canadian — adjective; Metis — noun
and adjective, Francophone — noun and
I give my heartfelt thanks to
Maurice Guibord for agreeing to be the
subject matter expert for this issue.
Until next time,
Andrea Lister, Editor
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The British Columbia Historical
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BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1     3
Letters from Readers
After Pearl Harbor
==«=,. B|
■ - /Ji
4!1  1
Wpjr^  '|j
jAfter Pearl
Nicol's    "After
Pearl    Harbor"
was      another
fine   piece   of
research       by
her,      bringing
forward     both
an   interesting
murder file and reminding us of the
state of "race relations" in the British
Columbia of the 40's.
Peter Broznitsky
Lemon Creek Geography Off
In the article, "After Pearl
Harbor", it should be noted that the
Lemon Creek internment camp was
located in the West Kootenay region.
Ron Welwood
I quite enjoyed AAs. Nicol's
article "After Pearl Harbor", but I
feel I need to clarify her geography.
The Lemon Creek internment camp
was located in the Slocan Valley, right
in the heart of the West Kootenay
region. Nor was the camp comprised
of "300 shacks built on a hillside", as
the accompanying photo shows flat
terrain for the site, as was the case.
It may be of interest to your
readers to know that the relocation
of the Japanese to the Slocan
Valley created new headaches for
S.G. Blaylock, General Manager of
Cominco, tasked with producing
materials for the war effort, including
the top-secret heavy water at the
Warfield Plant. Concerned previously
with only Fascist terrorists among
the Italian population of Trail and
fanatical members of "the German
Bund in Spokane, immediately to
the south of us" (letter to G.K.
Shells, Jan. 31, 1941), he now had
to contend with "thousands of Japs
in the neighbourhood who are willing
to commit suicide" (letter to CD.
Howe, July 31, 1942). His concern
with the latest problem was the
safety of the generating plants on the
Kootenay River.
He got some satisfaction.
Travelling restrictions were imposed
on internees by the BC Securities
Commission to restrict transit travel
in the Prohibited Areas (south of
Winlaw) to only under the escort of
the RCMP, unless in the possession
of a Special Permit. Even with that
permit, they could no longer "stop
off" in the South Slocan District and
were re-routed to Nelson if they had
to embark on a train.
Walter Volovsek,
Sea Lions
sorry to see
that a common
error slipped
into John
article on
Race Rocks
lighthouse in
the Winter
2014 issue. The sea lions are Steller
sea lions not Stellar — they are
named after Georg Wilhelm Steller a
German naturalist who was on Vitus
Bering's expedition to Alaska in 1741.
Our BC bird, the Steller Jay, is also
named after him.
Eric Marshall
British Columbia History apologizes
for the mistakes and thanks our
eagle-eyed readers.
Good Value
for the
Saw  you
both [Ron
and      Frances
Welwood]     in
BC    Historical
Fed. mag. [Vol
47   No.    3]    I
have introduced
2   friends   to   it
and    both    are
Really      a
good   value   for
the money.
Christmas card note to Ron and
Frances Welwood, reprinted with
Send us your thoughts.
British Columbia History welcomes reader's letters and emails, while
reserving the right to edit them. Email your story to: bcheditor@bchistory.
ca, or mail it to: Editor, British Columbia History, PO Box 21187, Maple
Ridge, BCV2X1P7.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women
by Jean Barman
Without the presence of French Canadians in the Pacific
Northwest over two hundred years ago, Canada's border
may have ended at the Rocky Mountains.
French Canadians have been integral
to British Columbia for two centuries
and counting. As of 2015, it is 222 years
since half a dozen French Canadians
made possible the first overland crossing of
North America north of Mexico to the Pacific
Ocean. It is 169 years since French Canadians'
presence determined that Britain rather than
the United States would acquire the future
British Columbia. During the intervening half-
century French Canadians were the largest
non-indigenous group, French the principal
non-indigenous language, and Catholicism
the main non-indigenous religious faith.
Although French Canadians thereafter lost
their numerical supremacy, they remain an
important component of British Columbia life.
The key to the early prominence of
French Canadians in the Pacific Northwest lies
in the fur trade, which drove the economy of
New France. French mariner and cartographer
Samuel de Champlain, remembered for
founding Quebec City in 1608, no sooner
arrived than he grasped the importance of a
trade in animal pelts. Furs, especially beaver,
were much in demand both for trimming
garments and for creating felt, out of which
hats were made. Indigenous peoples did the
trapping, and French Canadians acquired
the pelts in exchange for trade goods and
transported them to market. As animals were
trapped out closer to home, the fur trade
moved west.
In my new book I argue that French
Canadians shaped the Pacific Northwest in
five critical ways. First, they facilitated the five
overland crossings that opened up — to British
and Americans — territory that extended south
through today's Oregon and Washington.
Second, French Canadians sustained the
resulting fur trade through their hard work.
Third, they initiated the earliest non-wholly
indigenous agricultural settlement. Fourth,
French Canadians ensured the fur trade's
profitability so that, when the international
boundary was decided in 1846, Britain acquired
the northern half despite the United States
wanting it all. And, fifth, French Canadians, the
indigenous women with whom they partnered,
and their descendants have eased relations
between newcomers and indigenous peoples.
Each of these five contributions was manifest
in the Pacific Northwest generally, extending
south through Washington and Oregon, and in
British Columbia.
French Canadians' work was fundamental
to the five overland crossings of the continent
— including three under the Montreal-based
North West Company traversing the future
British Columbia. Whether it was Alexander
Mackenzie who reached the future Bella Coola
in 1793 while searching for a viable water route
to take out pelts, Simon Fraser who a decade
later constructed the first fur trading posts in
today's British Columbia, or David Thompson
who not long after expanded the fur trade into
the Kootenays, almost everyone apart from
the men in charge were French Canadians.
Without their diligence, none of the three
expeditions had a chance of succeeding. In his
journal, Mackenzie acknowledged the men's
contributions. "They had been arrived near two
months [before the expedition started], and,
all that time, had been continually engaged
in very toilsome labour, with nothing more
than a common shed to protect them from the
frost and snow. Such is the life which these
people lead; and is continued with unremitting
exertion, till their strength is lost in premature
old age."1 These toiling men are precisely the
French Canadians my book seeks to rescue
from obscurity.
The labour of French Canadians
sustained the fur trade, which was extensive
and widespread across the Pacific Northwest.
Regardless of which company was in charge,
French Canadians made up the bulk of
employees. American traders based in Astoria,
located not far from present day Portland, were
dislodged by the North West Company during
Jean Barman is
the author of
eleven books, most
recently French
Canadians, Furs
and Indigenous
Women in the
Making of the
Pacific Northwest
(Vancouver: UBC
Press, 2014).
Her longtime,
impassioned pursuit
to understand and
uncover the history
of British Columbia
has earned her
a position as a
Fellow of the
Royal Society of
Canada as well as
a Queen Elizabeth
II Diamond Jubilee
medal. She was
the recipient
of the British
Columbia Historical
Federation annual
award for best
article published
in British Columbia
History (2005).
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1      5
 "Grand Ball at Fort
Victoria, October 6,
the War of 1812. Almost a decade later, in 1821
the North West Company was subsumed into
the London-based Hudson's Bay Company.
Half of the 1,240 French Canadians who
can be tracked by name as engaged in the
Pacific Northwest fur trade from the time of the
overland crossings to 1858 (when the last part
of the region acquired external governance)
worked at least for a time in the future British
Columbia.2 Well over half of them did so at
Fort St. James and nearby trading posts begun
by Simon Fraser, where beaver and other
animals were to be had in abundance. Others
were employed at north coast posts, notably
Fort Simpson near today's Prince Rupert, and
others at Fort Langley on the Fraser River and
at Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
French Canadians were critical to the
fur trade not only because they arrived in
large numbers, but because they stayed. The
majority never left. They remained for several
reasons. They shared a common history of
dispossession subsequent to the English taking
charge of New France in 1763. The ambience
the fur trade was, both in and out of the work
place, collegial. They enjoyed the reciprocity
that played out in annual holidays and in an
expectation of right behavior by employer and
employee alike in the everyday.
The most important of the reasons why
so many French Canadians stayed was, I argue,
access to sexual intimacy. Men were about 20
years of age when they arrived, a time in their
lives when it has priority almost as a matter
of course. By the end of their first three-year
contract, most men had partnered with a local
indigenous woman with whom they would
soon start a family. Despite there being no
priests in the Pacific Northwest until the end
of 1838, most of these unions held through the
couples' lifetimes.
It was in this context that French
Canadians and the women in their lives
initiated the earliest non-wholly indigenous
agricultural settlement in the Pacific
Northwest. In British Columbia one of the first
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 instances of a newcomer working the soil was
Jean Baptiste Boucher, a Metis from the fur
trade east of the Rockies who arrived in central
British Columbia with Simon Fraser and never
left.3 The largest settlement was in Oregon's
Willamette Valley.
The most critical, way in which French
Canadians contributed to the making of the
Pacific Northwest was in respect to the region's
permanent status. It was only at the end of the
War of 1812, which spilled over into the Pacific
Northwest in the takeover of Astoria, that
attention turned to the region's lack of political
status. No country had so far cared enough to
make a unilateral claim. While neither Britain
nor the United States even then sought to do
so, each wanted no other nation to interfere
and so agreed to joint oversight for ten years.
This deal would be renewed unless one of
them gave a year's notice to terminate the
Bilateral oversight was challenged in the
early 1840s by the arrival of growing numbers
of land hungry Americans in Oregon. The
consequence of this influx of settlers was the
determination of the United States to acquire
the entire Pacific Northwest. At this point in
time, Britain had no interest in new colonies,
certainly not one as remote and seemingly
useless as the Pacific Northwest, and would
have given in to the American demand for the
place had it not been persuaded otherwise by
the Hudson's Bay Company. Due to its reliable
— and principally French-Canadian — work
force, the London-based company was making
a healthy profit, especially in present-day
British Columbia. So it was that in 1846 the
Pacific Northwest was, instead of going in its
entirety to the United States, divided at the 49th
parallel with a jog south around Vancouver
Island. Had the Hudson's Bay Company
not intervened as forcefully as it did, British
Columbia would not have come into existence.
Instead, the United States would today extend
in an unbroken line from California (which it
would soon acquire from Mexico) through
Russian America (which it would purchase in
1867 and rename Alaska). Canada would have
no Pacific shoreline.4
After 1846, matters turned sharply
around for French Canadians. They were
eclipsed  along  with  the  fur  trade,   which
limped along on the edges
of other endeavours such as
mining. In the future British
Columbia,      the      growing
irrelevance        of        French
Canadians    was    quickened
by a gold rush that erupted
in 1858 on the Fraser River.
Men poured in from around
the world, hoping to get rich
quick. While most soon left
in disgust, many stayed, and
the   transformation   of   the
population was fundamental
and   immediate.    The    use
of the French language by
French     Canadians,     their
Catholic worship at a time
most       newcomers       were
Protestant, their modest ways
of life and general illiteracy,
and their long-term unions
with indigenous women at a
time when indigenous peoples were being cast
aside made them outsiders to the new British
Nonetheless, French Canadians, and
in particular their offspring, affected the
course of events in the new colony and later
the province by easing relations between
newcomers and indigenous peoples. Gender
largely determined how they would do so. The
male character of the fur trade and later the
gold rush put daughters at a premium, more
so given the assumptions of the day. Wives
were expected both to make their lives in the
private realm and to take on their husband's
identity. Due to the demographic imbalance
and also the racism, sons mostly looked to the
example of their mothers in searching out a
woman in their lives. The choices of both sons
and daughters often crossed the boundaries of
the day and exemplified to those around them
the possibility of such unions.
Even so, sons and daughters retained
elements of their French-Canadian and
indigenous inheritances. French long
continued to be spoken in corners of British
Columbia. An example is a daughter wed to a
French Canadian who was buried "among the
Indian graves in the Indian Graveyard as was
her wish," even though, all her life, she "spoke
One of Jean
Baptiste Lolo's
daughters, 1865.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
1. December 23,1792,
in Alexander Mackenzie,
Alexander. The Journals
and Letters of Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, ed.
W. Kaye Lamb (Toronto:
Macmillan, 1970), 247.
2. I am grateful to
Bruce Mclntyre Watson
for access to records
of individual French
Canadians, made
generally accessible in
his Lives Lived West of
the Divide: A Biographical
Dictionary of Fur Traders
Working West of the
Rockies, 1793-1858, 3
vols. (Kelowna, BC:
Centre for Social, Spatial,
and Economic Justice,
University of British
Columbia, 2010).
3. For more on the
Bouchers, see Mike
Evans, Jean Barman,
Gabrielle Legault and
Erin Dolmage. "Metis
Networks in British
Columbia: Examples
from the Central
Interior," 331-67 in
Contours of a People:
Metis Family, Mobility,
and History, ed. Nicole
St-Onge, Carolyn
Podruchny, and Brenda
Macdougall (Norman:
University of Oklahoma
Press, 2012).
4. It was extremely
fortuitous that coal
was also discovered on
Vancouver Island in
the 1840's enabling the
Royal Navy to establish
a presence here to
challenge the 54.40 or
bust slogan prominent in
the US at the time. The
HBC took over the early
French — no English or little and seemed
accomplished in many phases in living for the
era she lived in." Such stories passed down by
descendants are many and widespread.
The greatest legacy of French Canadians
must be that today's British Columbia is
not an American state. French Canadians
enabled the overland crossings that initiated
the fur trade in the west. Their work and
relationships sustained the resulting fur trade.
The determination of the company in charge
to profit extended to persuading the British
government to act at their behest in the shaping
of boundaries. Without French Canadians,
Canada would have no Pacific shoreline.*
British Columbia
trading posts.
Northern Boundary of
American Claim Before 1846
Area of Crucial Dispute in 1846
Settlement of 1846
Southern Boundary of
British Claim Before 1846
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 Francophone Culture in Early Victoria
by Carey Pallister
St. Ann's Academy, for more than 100 years the western
Provincial House of the Sisters of St. Ann, its chapel and the
original school, are physical reminders of French Canadians.
In the heart of English-speaking Victoria,
three architectural jewels still stand as
a tribute to the legacy of francophone
culture. Once separate but now attached,
St. Ann's Academy and its chapel (the former
St. Andrew's Cathedral), are both evocative of
classical ecclesiastical Quebec architecture. A
small log building constructed in a distinctive
Quebec style and technique by French-
Canadian workers housed the Sisters' first
school and convent. These buildings are
physical, tangible reminders of the presence
and impact of French Canadians on the history
of British Columbia.
Le 8 Avril 1858 nos soeurs Marie-
Angele, Marie-du-Sacre-Cceur,
Marie-Lumena, Marie-de-la-
Conception partaient de la maison
mere de St. Jacques pour aller a
Victoria.  La  touchante  scene  de
leurs adieux est restee gravee en
traits ineffacables dans le cceur
des toutes celles qui en furent les
temoins.1 [On the 8th of April 1858
our Sisters Marie-Angele, Marie-
du-Sacre-Cceur, Marie-Lumena,
Marie-de-la-Conception left the
mother house at St. Jacques to go
to Victoria. The touching scene of
their farewell remained ineffably
engraved on the hearts of those
who witnessed it.]
The history of the francophone
community in Victoria is inexorably linked
with the story of the Sisters of St. Ann. Founded
in Quebec in 1850 by Marie-Anne Esther
Blondin, now Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin,
to teach both boys and girls in rural areas, the
Congregation des Soeurs de Sainte-Anne2 was
keen to open missions in the west. Eight years
Carey Pallister is
an archivist with
over 25 years
experience in the
archival field.
Before becoming
the archivist for
the Sisters of St.
Ann, Carey was an
archivist at the City
of Victoria Archives.
Pallister has a
passion for keeping
history alive and
sharing knowledge
through community
outreach, talks,
workshops and
displays. She
has collaborated
with numerous
institutions on a
variety of projects
and has contributed
her expertise to
other archives
both civic and
religious, advisory
committees and
local heritage
St. Andrew's
Cathedral on
Humboldt Street,
Victoria. Designed
and built by
Brother Joseph
Michaud in 1858,
photo circa 1871.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1      9
 after its formation, a small group of Sisters,
three francophone and one English-speaking,
as well as a Francophone lay assistant3 arrived
in Victoria to begin educating the aboriginal
and Metis children of the colony. Their arrival
coincided with the Fraser River gold rush when
thousands poured into the community, and the
Sisters were called upon to help the sick, the
poor and the disadvantaged.
En arrivant a Victoria les soeurs
ne se trouverent pas parmi les
sauvages et les metis seulement. Les
mines d'or qui furent decouvertes
sur la riviere Fraser en cette meme
annee, 1858, avaient tellement
attirees de monde que la campagne
etait couverte de plus de cinq cent
tentes habitees par des gens de
toutes nations.4 [On arriving in
Victoria the Sisters did not find
themselves among the aboriginals
and Metis only. The gold mines
that were discovered on the Fraser
River in this same year, 1858, had
attracted so many people that the
place was covered with more than
five hundred tents inhabited by
people of every nation.]
In anticipation of the arrival of the Sisters,
Modeste Demers, a native of Quebec and now
Bishop of Vancouver Island, bought a small
cabin located on the northwest perimeter of
Beacon Hill Park overlooking the boggy bottom
land dissected by Humboldt Street, Church
Hill and the emergent town to the north west.
He bought the dwelling from Leon Morel,5 a
French-Canadian middleman employed by the
Hudson's Bay Company; this was to serve as
both the schoolhouse and convent. Morel had
been widowed in 1855 after the death of his
first wife Adelaide, a woman from the Stikine
region.6 He had to care for his young Metis
family including his daughter Emilie, who had
spent the first few years of her life in the cabin.7
It was a small log building made in the typical
French-Canadian poteaux sur sol construction
technique used by Hudson's Bay Company
Well the timber had to be taken
from the forest—squared there and
brought down by water. All this
had to be contracted for by French-
Canadians...Then other Canadians
took the job of putting the building
up as far as the logs were concerned
— and then shingling.. .9
Accompanying the Sisters to Victoria were
four Clerics of St. Viateur (CSV) from Quebec,
Brother Gedeon Thibodeau, Brother Joseph
Michaud, Father Pierre Rondeau and Father
Charles Vary. Brother Michaud, a carpenter and
builder who later was the architect of the Mary,
Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal,
set to work immediately on the construction
of a church and the extension to the Sisters'
cabin convent. The work advanced smoothly
until the funds ran out. Money promised
from the east was delayed, and the workers
demanded their weekly wages. The Sisters
offered to donate money they had received
from fees at the new school — this was an act
of extreme generosity and faith considering
that the Sisters too were impoverished.10
Both were completed by the end of 1858, the
school in early November and the Cathedral
soon afterwards. St. Andrew's Cathedral was
a modest church built in a traditional Quebec
style, although Father Beaudry describes it as
Greek, with lovely interior embellishments all
created by Michaud himself.
De style grec pur, 3 voutes en bois
ornees de rosaces, de fleurons de
d'un Christus, d'un Maria, d'un
triangle mysterieux, le tout d'une
blancheur et d'une execution a
egaler le platre.11 [Pure Greek
style, 3 wooden arches decorated
with rosettes, jewels of a Christus,
a Maria, a mysterious triangle, all
of whiteness and an application to
match the plaster.]
St. Andrew's Cathedral12 was so named
because it was consecrated in 1858 on the
feast day of St. Andrew.13 It was located
on Humboldt Street, across from where St.
Ann's Academy stands today and was the
first Roman Catholic Church built in Victoria.
Modeled after small classic Quebec churches
and is consistent with the "Recollet Plan," a
simple rectangular plan with semi-circular
apse and a nave that closes on the apse and
transept without side chapels.14 Prior to this,
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 Holy Mass was celebrated for many years in
the Bishop's House, a small frame cottage on
Humboldt Street.
The arrival of the Sisters gave Morel the
opportunity to give eight-year-old Emilie into
their care and provide her with an education,
while he turned his attention to company
Two little girls are given over to the
care of the Sisters; the first came in
a dung cart, with her father. Her
outfit was tied in a handkerchief.
She had a featherbed. Her father
set her down, gave her trousseau
in said handkerchief, rolled out the
feather bed, and having acquitted
himself of these parental duties,
drove off saying "Take good care
of my child, Sister" there ended
his obligations. The child left the
convent only to be carried to her
grave age 16.15
LtoR back
row: Sisters M.
Emeretienne, M.
Patrick, M. des
Septs Douleurs, M.
Praxades. Of the
68 students in the
photo, the majority
are the orphans. I
believe that Emilie
Morel is the one
sitting at the far
right, bottom row
in the white dress.
Above: The first page of the St. Ann's
Convent School student register.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      11
 Top: Detail of the
photograph on page
11, Emilie Morel,
Bottom: Four of
Sisters of St. Ann
who arrived with
the third group
of Sisters in July
1863. L to R:
Sisters M. de la
Croix (Perreault),
M. Romuald
(Fontaine), M. des
Septs Douleurs
(Mainville), M.
Praxades (Marceau)
Indeed, Emilie Morel was exactly
the kind of child that the Sisters had
been sent to teach, and she was one
S of the first boarders at St. Ann's
g Convent School. She registered
I at the school on 21 June 185816
| and has  always been  called
ii the  first  orphan17  to  attend
I the    school;    however,    her
I father paid for her care18 and
outlived her by ten years. She
attended St. Ann's School in
Victoria until 1865 then she
was sent to St. Ann's Convent
School   in   Duncan.19   Sadly
she only lived one more year,
succumbing to tuberculosis at
the age of 16. Emilie lived with
the Sisters most of her life, and she
was well loved — they described
her as "a good child" whose death had
a great effect on the community.20
The work of the missionary Sisters,
both in education and pastoral care, grew as
the population did and soon they outgrew
their small school. Since space for students
was limited and few supplies were
available,   Sister   Marie-Lumena
was only able to teach catechism
classes   until   15   November
1858.  With the addition to
the cabin by now complete,
a full curriculum could be
taught, and proper classes
could begin.
II se presenta douze
enfants le premier
I jour. Parmi elles se
I trouvaient Elisabeth
et Henriette Yates,
anglaises protestantes;
quoi qu'il fut dans
l'intention de Mgr. de
n'accepter quoiqu'il [sic]
des metisses dans l'ecole.21
[Twelve children arrived on
the first day. Among them were
Elizabeth and Henrietta Yates,
English Protestant; it was the
intention of Bishop to only accept
Metis in the school.l
£*£•••     ,>..; >
.* *jS
f _    r..-Jfr
i  II!!!    t     'Iml
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 Helene Lavoie (10), Emilie Morel (6),
Emilia Desmarais (13), Eleonore and Caroline
(9 & 10) Falardeau were just a few of the Metis
daughters of HBC employees who arrived at
the Sisters' school and registered during the
first few months.
Despite the Bishop's intentions, the
Sisters turned no child away; everyone
was welcome regardless of colour, creed or
economic circumstance.22 The mixture of races
was not popular with some parents and as a
result, more Sisters were needed as well as
additional space to accommodate separate
schools. By December 1859, the Sisters had
opened a second school on Broad Street and
by May 1860, a third school on View Street.23
By 1863, day and boarding students numbered
125 and in addition, the Sisters were caring for
and educating 30 orphans.
The prospectus informed parents that
their children would receive an excellent
The spirit of devotedness with
which the Sisters have undertaken
a long and expensive journey,
and the object they had in view,
the establishment of the present
Institution in this town, are the
best recommendations to the
community. To impart the young
ladies the benefit of a good moral
and domestic education with the
knowledge of various branches of
elementary training, together with
those which constitute the higher
departments of a finished education
... Reading Writing, Arithmetic,
practical and rational, Book
Keeping, Geography, Grammar,
Rhetoric, History, Natural History,
English, French, plain and
ornamental Needle and Net Work
in all their different shapes, will
form the course of studies in the
St. Ann's Convent,
school, hospital and
orphanage. Water
colour painting by
Sister Mary Sophie
(Labelle). The
original building
(Morel cabin) is
on the right; the
addition by Brother
Joseph Michaud is
on the left.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      13
 Above: A rare photo of the interior of St. Andrew's Cathedral on
Humboldt Street, Victoria. Designed and built by Brother Michaud
in 1858. Photo, June 29, 1873 taken for Bishop Charles Seghers'
Right: Detail of plan of ceiling of St. Andrew's Cathedral by Brother
Joseph Michaud.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 By the time the Sisters were ready to
expand and build a more substantial school
in 1871,25 Brother Michaud had already left
Victoria and returned to his home province. He
sent the plans for a new convent and school at
the Sisters' request. Michaud's design for the
new building, to be built across the street from
the original cabin school, was one of the largest
in Victoria at the time. It was in the impressive
and stately style of classic Quebec convents,
characterized by the steep gable, dormered
roof, imperial central staircase and split
shuttered windows reminiscent of religious
and vernacular architecture in Quebec.26
Michaud also submitted plans for the first
expansion in 1885,27 however local architect
John Teague's plans were chosen instead. In this
addition to the east side of the existing building,
Teague incorporated many of the Quebecois
architectural features of the 1871 building,
including a more elaborate sweeping Imperial-
style staircase. He respected Michaud's design
by mirroring the window style and the original
door frame on the piano nobile. As part of this
1885 expansion, the Cathedral was moved
across Humboldt Street and placed behind St.
Ann's Convent school, and was repurposed as
St. Ann's Chapel, where it remains today, in all
its original splendour.
This first cathedral is now the
property of the Sisters of St.
Ann and the most precious
souvenir we have.28
Another building that reflects cultural
links to Quebec and the Sisters of St. Ann is the
second St. Andrew's Cathedral on Blanshard
Street. This church was designed by Montreal
church architects Maurice Perrault and Albert
Mesnard. The plans are a duplicate of a parish
church in Vaudreuil, Quebec, the location of
Blessed Mother Marie-Anne's first school.29
Less tangible, yet no less relevant to
the local Francophone culture, are the Sisters
of St. Ann Archives. The holdings are one
of the most valuable collections of colonial
and post-colonial documents written in
French chronicling the integration of their
Francophone culture in the West. The records
describe life for the early Sisters in the colonies
of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
They reveal established protocols in legal,
financial, commercial, administrative and
social activities as well as providing a unique
glimpse into the early French-Canadian
families in Victoria. The archives also house the
material patrimony of the Sisters: art, artifacts
and furniture, some of which date from the
very earliest years of the mission in Victoria
as well as other missions throughout British
Columbia, Alaska and Yukon.
Through the presence of the Francophone
Sisters of St. Ann, who served in the west, a
vital legacy of French-Canadian culture was
begun and remains here. From the architecture
of their buildings to the curriculum taught in
their schools and academies,30 to their archives;
this dedicated group of religious women have
left a vital and enduring legacy of French-
Canadian culture in the Pacific Northwest.*
St. Andrew's
Cathedral on
Humboldt Street,
Victoria circa
1870s. Designed
and built by
Brother Joseph
Michaud in 1858.
Now St. Ann's
Academy Chapel.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      15
 16 BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
1. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria,
BC, "Chroniques", p.9,1858-1868,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S.25-1.
2. When referring to the
Congregation as a whole Anne is
spelled with at "e" when referring
to the Sisters of St. Ann in the West,
there is no "e".
3. Marie Mainville, Soeur Marie-
4. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Chroniques", p. 32,1858-1868,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
5. This building still stands and
is located in the Royal British
Columbia Museum precinct.
6. Quadra Street Burying Ground
records collected and compiled by
Carey Pallister.
7. Leon Morel sold the convent
to Bishop Demers 28 April 1855,
original land deed S.20-70.
8. Also called Post-on-sill or post-
9. The Reminiscences of Doctor John
Sebastian Helmcken, ed. Dorothy
Blakey Smith, 127.
10. McBride, Anna (Sister Mary
Matthew, SSA, "The First Catholic
Priest in Victoria, BC", Sisters of St.
Ann Archives, S29-0623.
11. Letter from Abbe Cyrille
Beaudry to his brother Prosper
Beaudry, 3 June, in the collection
of Archives des Clercs de Saint
Viateur, Joliette, QC, in Le Rapport
de la Propagation de la Foi, 1861, 74.
12. A cathedral is the seat of a
Bishop. Modeste Demers was
appointed Roman Catholic Bishop
of Vancouver Island 30 Nov 1847.
13. 30 November. Also the
anniversary date of the
consecration of Bishop Demers.
14. Luc Noppen and Lucie K.
Morisset, Les Eglises du Quebec.
Un patrimoine a reinventer (Societe
quebecoise d'ethnologie: 2006), 304.
15. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Reminiscences", 1858-1868, p. 219.
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
Refers to Emilie Morel.
16. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Student Register", p. 213,1858,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S.35-1.
17. The term "orphan" had a
broader definitions in the past,
often referring to children who had
lost one parent and whose other
parent was unable or unwilling to
care for them.
18. Soeurs de Sainte-Anne,
« Reddition de compte de recettes
et de depense pour la Mission a
Victoria, 1860-1861 ». Archives
de la Congregation des Soeurs de
Sainte-Anne. The equivalent of
$1700.00 today.
19. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Chronicles", 1865, Sisters of St.
Ann Archives, S. 36-1.
20. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Chroniques", 1858-1868, Sisters of
St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
21. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Chroniques", p. 34,1858-1868,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
22. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria,
BC, "Chroniques", 1858, p. 38-39,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
23. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria,
BC, "Chroniques", 1860, p. 60-62,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives, S. 25-1.
24. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,
"Prospectus", 1 December 1858,
Sisters of St. Ann Archives S. 35-1.
Printed on the Demers press.
25. St. Ann's Convent School was
not known as St. Ann's Academy
until 1894.
26. Belgian architect Charles
Verheyden supervised the project
in Michaud's absence, "Provincial
Council Minutes", p.23, 29 July
1871, Sisters of St. Ann Archives,
27. Michaud, Joseph, original
plans, 1885, Sisters of St. Ann
Archives, S20-01.
28. Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, BC,"
Chronicles", 1885, p. 213, Sisters of
St. Ann Archives, S35-01.
29. St. Andrew's Cathedral was
dedicated on October 30th, 1892 by
Bishop Jean-Nicolas Lemmens.
30. Until the BC government
established a standard curriculum
in 1922, the Sisters used a
curriculum supplied by the
Motherhouse in Quebec based on
the Ontario educational system..
31. Jamieson, Patrick. Victoria:
Demers to De Roo -150 Years of
Catholic History on Vancouver Island.
Victoria: Ekstasis Editions, 1997,
32. Issued between 11 September
and 8 October 1858.
The Press
A hand-cranked French printing press given to Bishop Modeste Demers by the
Franciscan Brothers of San Luis Rey, California was already 100 years old when
it arrived in Victoria.31 The definite date of the arrival of the press is contested;
most documents indicate that it arrived in 1856, others suggest it was earlier.
In early December 1858, the press was used to print the first St. Ann's School
prospectus. It was an expensive document crafted to impress, printed on heavy
pale blue paper using gold ink. Prior to this, the press had been used to produce
both the first English-language newspaper in BC, the Victoria Gazette, and the
first local French-language newspaper Le Courrier de la Nouvelle Caledonie.32 The
latter was edited by Count Paul de Garro, a political refugee from Paris.
Completely obsolete by 1908, the bishop's press was put on display at the
Museum at St. Ann's Academy, until 1971. The Sisters gave the press to the
Provincial Museum, now the Royal British Columbia Museum, where it remains
today, on permanent display in the Old Town print shop.
Read more about the press in "The Pioneer Press of British Columbia" by
John Forsyth, British Columbia Historical Association: Reports and Proceedings for
the year ended October 11,1923. Available online at: http://bchistory.library.ubc.
ca/?db=bchf and reprinted in British Columbia History, Spring 2012 I Vol. 45 No. 1.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      17
  Many times I have cursed the day I left you
by Forrest D. Pass
Relatively few Francophones participated in the Cariboo
Gold Rush. Honore Robillard's dismal letter home cursing
the day he left for BC provides some insight into why.
Honore Robillard hated British
Columbia. Lured to the colony
to moil for gold, the Ottawa
quarryman found instead hardship,
hunger and disappointment, all in the shadow
of gloomy mountains and incessant rain and
snow. "Many times already I have cursed
the day I left you," he wrote to his wife in
September of 1862, expressing not only his
loneliness but his disgust with the colony. In
the end, he never even made it to the Cariboo
Honore's letter home offers a rare
Francophone perspective on the Cariboo
Gold Rush, one of the most significant events
in early British Columbia history. Published
in at least three newspapers, it helped to
shape perceptions of British Columbia among
Francophones in eastern British North America.
In the translation of the letter presented here,
based on its first publication in Le Courrier
a"Ottawa of October 25, 1862, Robillard's
miserable account of the new Pacific colonies
help us to understand why relatively few
French Canadians participated in the Cariboo
Gold Rush.
The third son of stonemason Antoine
Robillard and his wife Emelie Lauriot, Honore
Robillard was born in Saint-Eustache, Lower
Canada, in 1835. Shortly after his birth, the
family moved to Gloucester, in Upper Canada,
a rural township on the outskirts of Bytown,
now Ottawa. Antoine had worked on the
construction of the Rideau Canal, and in the
boom that followed the Canal's opening in
1832, the mason did not want for work. His
most prestigious project was the Church of
Notre-Dame, which subsequently became
Ottawa's Roman Catholic cathedral.2
Young Honore first succumbed to gold
fever at 18. In 1853, he abandoned his classical
studies at the College of Bytown to try his
luck in gold fields of Australia. Five years
later, having failed to make his fortune, he
returned to Ottawa, where he purchased one
of his father's limestone quarries and married
Philomene Barrette in the cathedral his father
had constructed.3 The couple's first daughter,
Albertine, was born in January 1862.4
Honore's return was to be short-lived.
In 1861, news of rich gold discoveries in the
distant Cariboo district provoked considerable
excitement in eastern British North America.
Honore decided to make the difficult journey
to the British Columbia mines, this time
accompanied by his seventeen year-old
brother, Alexandre.
Like thousands of others, Honore and
Alexandre Robillard travelled to Victoria via
Panama and California; having likely left
Ottawa in the early spring of 1862, they arrived
in Victoria aboard the steamship Pacific from
San Francisco on May 28.5 As they waited for
the trails to the Cariboo to become passable
after the spring thaw, they apparently met
additional travelling companions. One of
these may have been a Mr. Gauthier who,
like the Robillards, left some of his luggage
with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Vancouver
Island, Modeste Demers, for safekeeping.6
As Honore recounted in his letter, their
difficulties in finding temporary employment
in Victoria while waiting to travel up-country
foreshadowed the hardships to come:
We publish below a letter from Mr.
H. Robillard, addressed to his wife.
It will perhaps have the effect of
dampening the enthusiasm of the
great number of our compatriots
who have caught the emigration bug.
Mr. Robillard, like many others,
was deceived by false friends and
by the lure of filthy lucre, which is
seldom found, even in foreign soil,
as you will read in the description
he gives of the misery that he and
Forrest D. Pass is
a historian at the
Canadian Museum
of History in
Gatineau, Quebec.
He is working
on a book on
eastern Canadian
perceptions of
British Columbia
in the nineteenth
Left: Mile 10 of
the Cariboo Road,
1863. Road workers
are barely visible
near the centre of
the photograph.
Honore's crew
worked on the
road further to the
north, but under
similar conditions.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      19
Robillard was
seventeen when he
accompanied his
older brother on a
perilous journey to
the Cariboo gold
fields in 1862.This
image is from circa
his travelling companions have
Victoria, September 4,1862
My dear wife,
I arrived here yesterday evening
from the Thompson River in British
Today I was happy to receive your
letter, telling me that you are in
good health and apprising me of
the state of my dear little Albertine,
as well as the rest of the family.
As my last letter was from California
and as I have thus far said nothing
about this country, I will begin with
my arrival at Vancouver [Island].
On  arriving  at  Victoria,  I  hired
myself out for eight days, as I was
told that it was too early to leave
for the Cariboo. I worked, and very
hard at that, for two dollars a day;
food cost me one dollar; this left me
five shillings a day.7
As you can see, already things
were not as bright as has been
represented in Canada; because we
were told that one could make five
dollars a day during the low season.
It is even worse today; because no
one pays tradesmen more than one
and a half dollars a day, and not
everyone can find that.
For my part, I will leave tomorrow
to cut wood in four-foot lengths, for
one dollar a cord, about a hundred
miles from here.
The party's route to the Cariboo is not
described, but they likely travelled by water
from Victoria to Port Douglas, at the head of
Harrison Lake, and then overland to Lillooet;
this was the most common route before the
opening of the Cariboo Wagon Road through
the Fraser Canyon in 1864. The distances
indicated in his letter suggest that the party
made it as far as Clinton before circumstances
turned from bad to worse:
But back to the Cariboo, I had to
climb about three hundred miles
over the mountains; during the last
two days we encountered miners
on the road, hunger drawn upon
their faces; we were very hungry
ourselves; because we had travelled
sixty miles without being able to
procure provisions, except for a
piece of liver.3
Alex. and my two other
companions; exhausted from lack
of food and from fatigue, decided
to leave misery behind and return
down country. However, I decided
to continue and to brave the storm
alone, more out of despair than
out of courage. Alex, cried and it
did not take much for me to do the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
 There are rich deposits in the Cariboo, it is true; but it is not possible for just
anyone to find them. People have explored the country for fifty miles around and
there is nothing left to be found.
At the very moment that we were to
part, a dozen men arrived, coming
down from the mines, with faces
as long as fiddles.9 They had only
eaten one meal, the night before;
it pained us to tell them that they
would find no provisions going
down, for another sixty miles.
They told us that there were still
a hundred people coming along
behind them, all very hungry.
Thus, I yielded to the entreaties
of my companions and decided to
come back with them.
You have often heard me say, dear
P*** [Philomene] that supposedly a
man who was willing to work in the
Cariboo, would make ten dollars a
day; well! I know many people, old
miners who offered to work for
their food, (without even fetching
that price) while waiting for new
mines to be discovered. Many times
already I have cursed the day I left
Considering his lacklustre experience in
Australia, Honore's decision to participate in
another gold rush seems curious. However,
he was not alone in his persistence. Historian
Douglas Fetherling notes that the several
international gold rushes of the nineteenth
century were really a single historical
phenomenon, with participants moving from
one rush to the next, undeterred by repeated
failure. In Fetherling's view, young men
like Honore did not participate in multiple
gold rushes for rational economic reasons;
rather, the quest for gold presented for them
an irresistible attraction, just as the quest for
the Holy Grail had for knights of the Middle
In Honore's case, the immediate
inspiration to make his way to the Cariboo
came from an acquaintance whose life story
exemplified the phenomenon that Fetherling
describes. In his letter, he refers to a Mr.
Fairburns who had misinformed him that a
mining claim would be easy to find in British
There are rich deposits in the
Cariboo, it is true; but it is not
possible for just anyone to find
them. People have explored the
country for fifty miles around and
there is nothing left to be found.
Mr. Fairburns, who said that claims
were easy to find in the Cariboo,
was unable to find one for less than
nine thousand dollars, and it's not
everyone who can afford a claim at
that price.
I am not the only one who has
allowed himself to be deceived,
unfortunately the misfortune of
one does not lessen the misfortune
of the other. There are between
five and six thousand Canadians
in this country, more than a third
are married men like me, who have
left their better halves without any
means of support in order to make
slaves of themselves for a few years,
and grey hair and arthritic limbs
are the fruits of their labours and
"Mr. Fairburns" was likely John
Fairbairn, a farmer from North Onslow,
Canada East, across the river from Ottawa.
Fairbairn travelled to British Columbia in 1859
during the Fraser River gold rush and returned
home in 1861, whereupon he apparently spoke
to Robillard about his experiences. Although
Fairbairn family lore indicates that Fairbairn
initially made a fortune, he squandered his
new-found wealth and returned west to
spend the rest of his life in the Cariboo. He
prospected in the Barkerville area for almost
30 years before retiring to the provincial Old
Men's Home in Kamloops, where he died
penniless in 1909. He had clearly derived as
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      21
 ^••-"rte-    .ewj 9-1 _»«•*
Victor* * *"»
Honore's letter,
sent from Victoi
sent /rom Victoria
almost two months
earlier, appeared
on page 2 of Le
Courrier d'Ottawa
on October 25,
\\ ei a«.i»»'* iw '   ^________——	
Uvaiii^i:       '
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
much satisfaction from the search for buried
treasure as from its discovery.12
For Honore, the fruitless search for riches
in a strange country offered no such attraction.
The wild, mountainous landscape astonished
him, as it did other gold-seekers from eastern
British North America accustomed to rolling
hills and cultivated fields. Although Honore
was not a farmer, his comments on the lack of
arable land in British Columbia reflected his
cultural background, which conditioned him
to believe that agriculture was the only true
foundation for national prosperity:13
Vancouver Island as well as
[British] Columbia are countries
entirely composed of mountains.
I travelled some four hundred
miles through [British] Columbia
and I did not see a single place
where a man might settle and find
two hundred acres of arable land.
To say nothing of the climate and
the seasons; over the past three
months, which they call the good
season, it has rained or snowed
almost every day. Foodstuffs are
outrageously expensive: flour sells
for three hundred dollars for two
hundred pounds, and the price of
everything else is proportionate.14
In the end the expenses of a miner,
even at the lowest prices, are at
least six dollars a day. As you can
see, it is useless for a man to go to
the Cariboo without four or five
hundred dollars in his pocket.15
The mines are not as easy to find as
we were told; nine claims out of ten
cost a thousand dollars, for labour
alone; before determining if there
was any gold. Thus, a man has
every chance of losing his four or
five hundred dollars. Among all the
mines of the Cariboo, there are not
more than twenty claims that pay.16
Having abandoned his search for gold,
Honore spent the summer working as part
of a road building crew along the Thompson
River, returning to Victoria in early September
of 1862. This interlude coincides with the
construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road from
 Lytton to Cook's Ferry (now Spence's Bridge).
The difficulties experienced by the road's
contractors in securing their government
subsidy and thus providing for the men may
account for the substandard provisions Honore
reported.17 Still, he was lucky to have a job and
even minimal rations, as others were not so
During the two months that I
worked on the road about two or
three thousand returning miners
passed by, all without a cent,
cursing the country and those who
had encouraged them to come. The
town of Victoria is full of men and
there is no work for one in a hundred
of them, as you can easily imagine.
So, we are treated accordingly;
during the two months that we
worked on the road, we would go
for as many as three or four days
with nothing to eat but beans; other
days, rotten bacon, without bread or
beans; potatoes we never saw.
Farewell, my dear P*** [Philomene],
kiss my dear little Albertine and
your mother for me: my respects to
the entire family and to any friends
who ask after me. You can tell B.
that he has a longer nose than me
for having stayed home, and all
those who did the same.181 enclose
my portrait, and I hope that next
year you will be able to see the
In the meantime, I remain your
devoted and unfortunate husband.
Honore Robillard
Adiuu, (it* ulioio •"" ciMbr;i5-tj, pour
nun, ma there p titu Ailberiuie et la ince :
me* rus|im-!.« ;i tout la fumillo ui aux imn
qui ■'iiiNirrm-roni de moi. Tu diru-i U IS.
qn*il n en i« lie* plus long que mui uri te*-
tint chez liu, el loui ceux qui unt hit cninme
• in. Jn I'nit'lj* mon pmliait, et j'experu que
I'an pruclis.ui, In |>oiirrn« voir I'urigmul.
En niienduiii jd me di* ton tout Juvoue el
iutoitune epoux.
Honork Kobii.i.akii.
Honore did not stay long on Vancouver
Island. He was almost certainly back in Ottawa
in early 1863, as his second daughter, Hortense,
was born that October.19 Thereafter, his life
continued much as before. He established a
successful construction business and, turning
his attention to politics, served as reeve of
Gloucester Township through the 1870s. In
1883, he became the first Francophone elected
to the Ontario provincial legislature. Four years
later, he ran successfully to represent Ottawa
City in the federal House of Commons. Honore
Robillard passed away in 1914.
Francophones were unusual among
Cariboo gold-seekers, so Robillard's
acquaintance with Fairbairn — an Anglophone
— and his prior experience in Australia help
to explain his decision to make the trip. Some
Francophones, veterans of the fur trade and
new arrivals alike, did prospect in British
Columbia; some even struck it rich. However,
they were a tiny minority of the "five or six
thousand Canadians" whom Honore believed
to be in British Columbia in 1862. Of almost 300
guests from the Province of Canada registering
at one Victoria hotel in 1862, only sixteen were
from Canada East, and only one of these, H.N.
Vicet of Montreal, had an apparently French
surname. Furthermore, no other obviously
French-Canadian surnames appear on the
passenger list noting the Robillard brothers'
arrival in Victoria.20
French-Canadian suspicion of gold-
seeking was reflected in the press. English
newspapers in eastern British North
America devoted column after column to
the Fraser River and Cariboo rushes. In
period newspapers from New Brunswick,
Nova Scotia, and present-day Ontario, I have
identified more than 60 examples of letters from
the British Columbia gold fields, and negative
and positive accounts counterbalanced each
other. In the French-Canadian press, however,
references to the gold excitement were scarce
and, like Honore's account, pessimistic.21
After its initial appearance in the Robillards'
hometown weekly, Le Courrier d'Ottawa, on
October 25,1862, Honore's letter was reprinted
at least twice, on October 31, by the influential
Montreal daily, La Minerve, and by La Gazette
de Sorel, a paper serving the Lower Richelieu
Valley east of Montreal. Nineteenth-century
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      23
 Honore Robillard
as Member of
Parliament for
Ottawa, 1892.
Following his
return from
British Columbia,
Honore became a
prominent member
of the Franco-
Ontarian business
and political
newspapers routinely reprinted interesting
stories from other publications, so Honore's
letter likely appeared in other French-Canadian
papers as well.
Honore's difficult experiences alone
would have given potential prospectors
pause. However, the editorial comments
that introduced the letter reveal the depth
of Francophone hostility toward gold-
seeking: all three editors hoped that Honore's
account would dissuade their compatriots
from making the arduous journey to British
Columbia. Both Le Courrier d'Ottawa and La
Minerve used Honore's letter to denounce not
just gold-seeking but emigration generally,
characterizing it as a "fever" or a "disease".
The editor of La Gazette de Sorel, alluding to
a previous gold rush, hoped that Honore's
account should convince the reader that "the
best California is his own country, provided
he is willing to work and be an honest man."
These editors' rhetoric hinted at things to
come. Beginning in the 1860s, hundreds of
thousands of Francophones would leave
present-day Quebec and eastern Ontario in
search of economic opportunities in the United
States. Frightened by the prospect of massive
depopulation, French-Canadian nationalists
would dismiss these emigrants as lazy,
greedy, or otherwise morally deficient.22 In
characterizing British Columbia as a "foreign
country," the editor of the Courrier underlined
the nationalists' anxiety about the departure of
Francophones from their homeland. Warnings
about the folly of gold-seeking appeared in
English-language papers as well, but rarely
with this isolationist gloss. For Francophone
editors, travelling to British Columbia in
search of gold was not only foolhardy, it was
unpatriotic. The Robillard brothers' failure in
British Columbia was just the evidence these
editors needed.
The Cariboo Gold Rush was a defining
moment in British Columbia history,
establishing social, economic and demographic
patterns that would persist for decades. It also
gave many eastern British North Americans
their first glimpse of the distant British
colony on the Pacific Slope. Francophones,
however, displayed little interest in gold-
seeking. The experiences of Honore Robillard
suggest some reasons for their antipathy: the
elusiveness of the gold mines, the difficulties
encountered in trying to reach them, and the
poor agricultural prospects of mountainous
British Columbia would all have discouraged
potential Francophone emigrants. Moreover,
Honore's letter home served the interests of
nationalist newspaper editors, already anxious
to dissuade their readers from abandoning
the St. Lawrence and Ottawa valleys. So
by discouraging potential Francophone
settlers at a critical juncture in the province's
development, Honore's account of gold rush
life may have contributed in a small way to
the relatively small size of British Columbia's
Francophone population today.*
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 20151 Vol. 48 No. 1
1. "Nouvelles de la Colombie-Britannique," Le Courrier
d'Ottawa, October 25,1862.
2. Robert Serre, Pioneer Families of the Gloucester Quarries
in Eastern Ontario, (Ottawa: Privately printed, 2004),
47-8; "Annexe III: A.D. 1841 Contrat entre le comite
d'administration et Antoine Robillard pour la magonnerie
de la nouvelle eglise, 11 fevrier 1841," in Norman Page,
La Cathedrale Notre Dame d'Ottawa: Histoire, architecture,
iconographie, (Ottawa: Presses de l'Universite d'Ottawa,
1988), 133-4.
3. "Robillard, Honore," in George Maclean Rose, ed., A
Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography; Being Chiefly Men of the
Time (Toronto: Rose Publishing Co., 1886), 790; Repertoire
de manages de la Cathedrale d'Ottawa, 1827-1980, v. 2
(Ottawa: Le Centre de Genealogie S.C., 1983), 720.
4. Parish of St. Joseph, Ottawa, Register of Baptisms,
1850-1881, 73.
5. "Passengers," Colonist (Victoria), May 29,1862.
6. "Nouvelles interessantes des Mines de la Riviere
Fraser et de Cariboo," La Minerve (Montreal), August 5,
7. Robillard writes "chelings", a non-Anglophone's
approximation of "shillings". Before the Province of
Canada adopted the dollar over the British pound in
1857, American dollars circulated at an exchange rate of
five shillings to the dollar. After 1857, twenty-cent coins
replaced shilling pieces, but the old term persisted. See
James Powell, A History of the Canadian Dollar (Ottawa:
Bank of Canada, 2005), 21-4.
8. The original uses the word "forsure" which is the
misspelled version of "forsure", which is old French
for "offal", the parts of a butchered animal removed in
dressing; the organ meats. In Canadian French, it referred
specifically to the liver. Sylva Clapin, Dictionnaire canadien-
francais (Montreal: Beauchemin, c. 1894), 158.
9. Robillard uses the French idiom "des visages long
comme les bras," literally "faces as long as their arms."
10. Douglas Fetherling, The Gold Crusades: A Social History
of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929, rev. ed., (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1997), 7.
11. Robillard uses "chere moitie", "dear half", to describe
the wives of his fellow miners. In the version of the letter
that appeared in La Minerve, the number of Canadians in
British Columbia is in capital letters for emphasis.
12. Reby Johnston Dodds, Who's Which?A Genealogical and
Historical Family Record (Ottawa: Privately printed, 1970),
64; "John Fairburn...," Kamloops Standard, December 24,
13. For this thread in Canadian thought, see Forrest
D. Pass, "Agrarian Commonwealth or Entrepot of the
Orient? Competing Conceptions of Canada and the British
Columbia Terms of Union Debate, 1871," Journal of the
Canadian Historical Association 17 (2006), 38-49.
14. Honore uses "fleur" (flower) instead of "farine"
for flour, an anglicism peculiar to Canadian French.
See Clapin, Dictionnaire canadien-francais, 157; Etienne
Blanchard, En Garde ! Anglicismes et termes anglais, 4th ed.
(Montreal: Imprimerie a la Croix, 1913), 46.
15. A word appears to be missing in the French text, so
it is unclear if Honore means "it is useless for a man to
go to the Cariboo without four or five hundred dollars"
or "it is useless for a man to go to the Cariboo even if he
has four or five hundred dollars." Based on the following
paragraph, I have chosen the former.
16. Here Robillard translates the English "claims" as
"claimes", though in preceding paragraphs he used the
term "lots".
17. Donald E. Waite, The Cariboo Gold Rush Story (Surrey:
Hancock, 1988), 41.
18. "To have a longer nose," a common idiom in both
English and French in the nineteenth century, meant to
exhibit a healthy scepticism. See Jean Roemer, A Dictionary
of English and French Idioms (New York: F.J. Huntington
and Mason Brothers, 1853), 178.
19. Hortense gave October 12,1863 as her birth date in
the 1901 census: Fourth Census of Canada, Province of
Manitoba, District 12, Sub-district A, Polling Sub-division
8, Winnipeg City, Ward 4,1.
20. "For Stickeen River," Colonist (Victoria), January 27,
1862; "Arrival of the Enterprise," Colonist, May 21,1862;
"The Steamer Hope...," Colonist, July 30,1862; "British
Columbia: Correspondence of the Leader," Daily Leader
(Toronto), June 25,1862; "Late from Vancouver Island
(Correspondence of the Leader)," Daily Leader, August 6,
1862; "Passengers," Colonist, May 29,1862.
21. I explore this discussion in detail in my doctoral
dissertation, "Pacific Dominion: British Columbia and
the Making of Canadian Nationalism, 1858-1958,"
Department of History, University of Western Ontario,
22. Yves Roby, "Les Canadiens francais des Etats-Unis
(1860-1880): devoyes ou missionaires," Revue de I'histoire
de VAmeriaue francaise, 41, no. 1 (1987), 4-10.
The Translation
My translation of Honore's letter is based on the first
published version in Le Courrier d'Ottawa of October 25,1862.
This is the most complete published version, as it includes
details that were omitted in subsequent reprintings. I
have retained Honore's emphases and sometimes unusual
punctuation, and where I have substituted an English idiom
for a French one, I have noted the original in an endnote.
Some of the English substitutions will seem old-fashioned,
but this accurately reflects the French original.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      25
 Building CILS-FM: A French Radio Station
by Dr. Jacques P. Vallee
Dr. Jacques P Vallee
is often seen doing
volunteer work in
the Francophone
community of
Victoria. His
successes in
presiding and
persisting led
him to receive
the Serge Jacob
2011 prize from
the ARCC. He was
profiled in 2009 for
30 minutes on CPAC
TV at
Federal Minister
David Anderson
(centre) in March
2000 with, at right,
Andree Leduc-
Johanssen, SFV
President, and
at left, Jacques
Vallee, the radio
project's Lead
The goal was to build an autonomous Francophone
community broadcasting radio station in Victoria with 24-
hour French programming. A lot of work still lay ahead.
The grueling work of getting a
Francophone radio station started in
Victoria took place between 1999 and
2007. Many bureaucratic beasts had to
be appeased with accords, acts, applications,
attestations, certificates, covenants, drawings,
ententes, hearing, licenses, memoirs,
notifications, permits, reports, rules,
statements, studies. Our quest felt like a
journey to conquer "Mount Bureaucracy"
for     Victoria's     Francophone     community.
In the 1990s, twenty French community
FM (frequency modulated) radio stations
existed outside Quebec, all members of the
Alliance des radios communautaires du
Canada (ARCC). None of them were in BC.
Other attempts to launch stations in Vancouver
and in Victoria had failed before they could get
off the ground, as none had done the required
site studies; they returned their funding to
Canadian Heritage (CH).
In 1999, a group of people within the
Soriete francophone de Victoria (SFV), looked
across the Rockies and into the vast sea of
English provinces in Canada and saw other
Francophone groups in the Prairies and
Maritimes with their own French-language
FM community radio stations. They started
wondering, "Why not here too?"
A radio committee of the Board of the
SFV was created, and I was appointed as
its first lead representative. The SFV Board
accepted unanimously that the SFV could
be the "parrain" or main supporter, of the
radio project. It would need help from above,
notably from the Canadian Radiotelevision
and Telecommunications [CRTC] and the
ARCC operating outside Quebec, as well as
from Canadian Heritage.
A first proposal to Canadian Heritage,
written by SFVs Directrice Generale Monique
Clebant, succeeded. As a result, Federal
Minister David Anderson popped in with a
cheque of $30,000 to the SFV in order to fund
three site studies to see if French-language
radio in Victoria had a chance of success.
In 2000, the station's first coordinator,
Yolaine Petitclerc-Evans, was hired for a year
to help the station through the first two studies
(market and technical feasibility) as required
by the CRTC. Under the CRTC, community
radio stations needed
to be owned and
controlled by not-for-
profit organizations,
needed to provide a
wide diversity of music
and spoken word, and to
work on an alternative
radio model rather than
a profit-minded model
or a public-liked model.
We learned that
getting a group unified
for the long haul
requires discipline.
Having many captains
can split the boat and
threaten  to  sink  it,   as
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 nearly happened within the first year after the
first round of fundraising brought a sizable
chunk of money to the SFV. This situation in
which horizontal collectivism had bogged
down lamentably required a lot of soul
searching to rectify. It eventually led to the
re-engineering of a democratic assembly with
vertical arrangements for technical functions
such as strategic planning.
In 2001, the SFV commissioned a
technical feasibility study that located a
site and listed the equipment necessary to
launching a station. The following year, the
society commissioned a global feasibility study
in which three local organizations took part:
SFV, Societe de Developpement Economique
de la C.-B. (SDECB), and Regroupement des
Gens d'Affaires de Victoria (RGAV). This work
created a positive and cautious outlook, and
it pointed to the need to proceed slowly and
steadily. In May of 2002, at the Annual General
Meeting of the SFV, the voting members
listened to the positive outcome of each study,
and took the decision to give the grand "Go
Ahead!" for the remainder of the radio project.
Hearing, license, permit
Satisfied with the studies, the radio
committee of the SFV then requested and
received funding from
Canadian Heritage to
cover all the paperwork
for various authorizations
from governmental bodies
on the road to a radio
undertaking. Most of the
money in this round of
funding was spent on
writers and engineering
firms to tie the station into
the process of acquiring
certification, permits,
licenses, and designing
programs. In 2003, the SFV
established an equipment
fund to buy the necessary
radio and technical
hardware. According to
one of many CRTC rules,
the station needed to show
it had the money for equipment before it could
get a license.
Using borrowed and old equipment
from ARCC for two weeks in March 2003,
armed with a temporary permit from Industry
Canada, people could hear the station's
volunteers on the FM waves. Transmission was
at a low power (50 watts), and the temporary
station operated out of the top of the church
building of the sole French-language parish
in Victoria. Boy, did we get an earful from
the local chapter of Industry Canada (IC):
our old equipment was leaky and Industry
Canada fielded a few complaints, since leaky
transmissions were against the rules (emitting
a bit outside our IC-allotted frequency space).
Meanwhile, on the radio committee of the SFV
Board, Francois Beliveau became its third lead
representative from June 2003 to March 2004,
following Benoit Laplante from August 2001 to
June 2003.
Early in 2004, after some internal strife
in the radio committee of the SFV and concern
that the workload for volunteers was too
heavy, the "small steps" philosophy of the
radio committee of the society bit the dust and
the radio committee went ahead with a series
of key applications, including one to the BC
Registrar of Companies for incorporation, one
to the CRTC for an FM license, one to Industry
Gisele Samson
(at left) and
Jacques Vallee (at
right) enjoying
the temporary
in March 2003
using borrowed
equipment, from
the Sacristy of the
St. Jean-Baptiste
Church in Victoria,
with the antenna
located just outside
and above, not
far from the Holy
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      27
 The Atlantis
console, along
with the Treasurer
Jocelyne Fontaine,
the President
Jacques Vallee,
and the then
Melanie Lebel-
Morin in 2006
Canada for a permit, one to Health Canada for
safety certification, and finally, one to the City
of Victoria for a business license to operate.
The paperwork was massive. The request
to the CRTC for a Broadcast FM license alone
was 335 pages. It was written by Thora Bajard,
Jocelyne Fontaine, Jean Raffaelli, and France
Gervais, and I did the editing.
The Societe radio communautaire
Victoria was incorporated under the BC Society
Act 2004. Its first president was Francois
Beliveau, and its second president was Gerald
Montpetit. I would be its third president and
serve in that capacity from March 2005 until
mid-2013, and its first executive director from
2005 to 2012. The Board aimed at being on the
air as soon as possible. To finance the future
buying of the equipment, a "Club radio 300"
was created, where up to 300 donators would
give $300 each. The amount thus collected
would pay a 50% share of all equipment, and
the remainder would be funded by Canadian
Heritage. This very successful fundraising
project was placed under the leadership of
Benoit Laplante. At this time, no equipment
money nor real equipment were at hand, only
dreams and paperwork, hope and persistence.
The CRTC granted the society a license
in 2005. But the radio station had to be built
within two years. We had a lot of work ahead
of us.
Installing, testing, opening
Now we had to bring the station
technically and practically on the air full-time.
We received a third round of funding from
Canadian Heritage to cover final preparations,
administration, technical help, and final
fundraising. Industry Canada asked us to
choose a 4-letter "call signal" from among 200
still available, starting with C for Canada. Of
course, it is typical for people to disagree on
subjective merit, and that was the case. Some
wanting a real four-letter word were pitted
against those wanting to use the first letter
of each of four words. The first group won,
and the call letter "CILS" was chosen. "Cils"
in French are eyelashes and, importantly, the
hairs in the inner ears that help with hearing.
In mid-2005, Benoit Laplante, originator
of the concept of Club Radio 300, received
the   Alliance   des   radios   communautaires
du Canada (ARCC) award for community
radio intervener. His work with Club
Radio 300 meant that half of the purchase
of the equipment for the station came from
community donations. Also in 2005, the station
asked a leading Quebec broadcaster, Jean-
Pierre Coallier, to become its supporter in
Quebec. In return Jean-Pierre sent a fabulous
letter of support and encouragement, telling
the station to keep going in this endeavour,
and never let bureaucracy discourage its work.
With all the equipment money now in
place in the bank, it could now buy the radio
equipment! It started with an Atlantis console,
as well as microphones, and allied wires,
thanks also in part from a fund from the City
of Victoria. Other studio material came in by
The station hired a technical coordinator,
Gerald Montpetit, to work under the advice
and guidance of three engineers: Jacques
Brunelle in Quebec, and local engineers Robert
Calder, and Dean Fox. The station continued
buying   the   radio   frequency   equipment   to
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 install on top of a tall building, including the
one-metre loop antenna, the transmitter, test
equipment, filters, and codecs.
The fact that the station was rated by
Industry Canada as medium power (250 watts)
meant it required a downtown location. To
gather more good spirit, and to encourage
donations, the station imagined the future
radio antenna on top of a towering building in
Victoria as a cathedral, illuminating all houses.
In 2007, the station signed a 15-year lease for
an antenna tower on top Camosack Manor, the
tallest building in Victoria. Finding a bonded
construction firm with expertise in setting
antennas on top of towers and tall buidings
was not easy for a small endeavor like this one
amid the construction boom in Victoria. Only
one company, WesTower, would agree to take
on such a small undertaking and accept such a
small paycheck. They took care of everything.
After some antenna rearrangements on
top of the tall building, new tests were made
from the roof, final acceptance was granted,
and "Voila!" the station was live. Since
November 7, 2007, the station has been on the
air, 24 hours each day.
CILS-FM is at 107.9 MHz on the FM dial
in Greater Victoria, and on the web at www. •
Thanks to all the Board volunteers during the period
covered here, especially multi-year ones: Francois
Beliveau (2000-2005), Jocelyne Fontaine (2004-2007),
Benoit Laplante (2000-2007), Gerald Montpetit (2001-
2005), Jean Raffaelli (2005-2007), and Jacques Vallee
(1999-2007). Thanks to the many other volunteers, notably
Thora Bajard (2003-2007), France Gervais (2000-2006),
Beth Dunlop (2006-2007). Thanks to the paid contractors,
reimbursed (in part) by a Job Creation Partnerships
project of Human Resources & Social Development
Canada (HRSDC) or a Development of Official Language
Communities project of CH : Jacques Brunelle (2000-2007),
Monique Clebant (2000-2002), Yolaine Petitclerc-Evans
(2000-2001); Suzanne Gagnon (2002-2003); Diane Blouin
(2004-2005); Melanie Lebel-Morin (2005-2006); France
Gervais & Caroline Magnier (2006-2007); Jason Mireau
(2006-2007); Gerald Montpetit (2006-2007), Robert Calder
(2006-2007), Jules Desjarlais & Anne-Marie Breton (2007),
and Dean Fox (2007).
The fm antenna (round loop) atop the tallest building in Victoria.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      29
 French Names on Vancouver Streetscapes
by Maurice Guibord	
Vancouver's Francophone history goes over the heads of
many Vancouverites who need to look up to see the French
names embedded in the architecture.
Maurice Guibord
holds a Masters
in History from
Simon Fraser
University. He is
the President of the
Societe historique
francophone de
la Colombie-
Britannique, based
in Vancouver.
His professional
background is in
museums in Alberta
and BC. He is
also the heritage
chronicler for
Radio-Canada BC-
Credit Fonder
Franco-Canadien at
850 West Hastings
Street, Vancouver.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Having grown up as a Francophone
in very bilingual Ottawa, I was
pleasantly surprised, when I moved
to Vancouver 25 years ago, to find
several French names gracing buildings on its
streets. I was even more surprised at the social
and cultural diversity that those names represented, and even more so when I realized that
even Francophones in this city were completely  unaware  of this   "overhead"   patrimony.
Credit Fonder Franco-Canadien
The most evident of these buildings gazes
down upon you at 850 West Hastings Street
in Vancouver's financial district, a grandiose
temple-style bank tower, with the name of
the original owner — Credit Fonder Franco-
Canadien — forever a part of the stonework.
Designed by Barrot, Blackader and Webster in
1913, this magnificent neoclassical structure
boasts walkways framed by Corynthian
pilasters (flattened columns), and topped by
the entablature1 of which proclaims the original
owner's name with Roman-like gravitas. There
is another row of like pilasters below the
roofline, supporting a cornice unusually made
of richly decorated copper.
This building is a perfect example of
the progressive efforts to move the city's
downtown core from the Main and Hastings
streets area in the early 1900s into the new
financial district along Hastings and Pender
streets west of Victory Square, extending all
the way to Burrard Street. In this district, to
demonstrate their financial clout, banks strove
to outdo their recent neighbours with ever
more impressive towers. Such was the case
with the Credit Fonder Franco-Canadien,
established in 1880 in Quebec, and already
in full expansion across Canada by 1907. The
nationwide success of a French-Canadian
finandal institution raised more than a few
eyebrows on the West Coast, not only because
finance was deemed a British bastion, but
because French-Canadians had long been kept
at arm's length from financial endeavours
— long-established banks actually refused
mortgages to French-Canadians in Quebec for
many decades. This new enfant terrible on the
block literally changed the ball game. The firm
was later recognizable by its "Credit Fonder"
logo in a red square, imprinted on the side of
the building for several years. The company
served a diverse dient base across Canada
and was eventually bought out by Scotiabank
in 1996. The Vancouver building now houses
individual offices.
Tremont House
Vancouver did not develop from the same
commerdal stimuli that gave birth to Fort
Vidoria. Fort Victoria's involvement in the
fur trade brought in thousands of French
Canadians as early as the late 1700s, first as
Voyageurs accompanying our well-known
explorers, then as fur traders and settlers.
Even before the successive gold rushes in
southern BC, Vancouver's appeal was to
entrepreneurs and land speculators.
Credit Fonder
Building under
construction, March
10, 1914
M li ii
II It ii
II ii ii
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      31
 Tremont House
on Carrall
Street, 1886.
Vancouver was a late commerdal bloomer
as it wasn't until 1867 that Jack "Gassy Jack"
Deighton had the thirsty workers at nearby
Hastings Mill build for him the first building of
what would be dubbed Gastown — his saloon,
where they received due payment for their
labour in liquid form.2 By 1886, Gastown had
gone through another name, the forgettable
"Granville" that never made it into current
use, and then was rebaptized Vancouver in
1886. Scant weeks later, the town burned to
the ground, and the first building to be re-
erected in stone was the new Tremont House
hotel, within sight of today's statue of Gassy
Jack in the heart of Gastown. It was erected
by brothers Louis and Hormidas Cartier, from
Quebec, whose jewelry sales and hotel rooms
were but an adjund to the main feature of their
establishment, yet another saloon. However,
it was in this building, on September 15,
1886, that the first French-Canadian literary
and sodal association was formed, one of the
first of its type in the burgeoning dty. The
announcement of this planned assodation
in the Vancouver Daily News Advertiser (Sept.
14, 1886), to which were invited only French
Canadians, highlights the importance of that
community in the burgeoning dty of slightly
more than 3,000 inhabitants. However, no
records have been found to date as to the
success of the endeavour. Vancouverites no
longer see the Tremont name if they look up as
they walk down Carrall Street as the building
was renamed the Abrams Block, after a later
It was in Tremont House, on September 15, 1886, the first French-
Canadian literary and social association was formed. The success of the
association, open only to French Canadians, is unknown.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Abrams Block,
formerly the
Tremont House
Below: Map of
buildings bearing
French buildings
in downtown
Vancouver, Gastown
and the Downtown
%     *•
*     *
1. Credit Foncier, 850 W. Hastings St.
2. Tremont Building, 212 Carrall St.
3. Tel I ier Tower, 16 E. Hastings St.
4. Desrosiers Block, 6 E. hastings St.
5. Pierre Paris Shoes, 53 W. hastings St.
6. Fortin Building, 56 W. Cordova St.
Columbia St
f   #
+j  'i  11—11—i,—
_>-— - I Alexander St.
■ . . Powell St.
Cordova St.
Hastings St.
Pender St.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      33
 Top: The Holden
name on the
doorway of the
building, 2011.
Below: The
marker and
the new name
plaque on
the Holden
1t> iWt§S
D*K^   Housing Sot:iet>
Tellier Tower
As the city developed eastward along
the shore of Coal Harbour, propelled by
the financial windfall of the CPR's arrival
along its shore, entrepreneurs arrived from
everywhere to put their business savoir-faire
to the test. French-Canadians were among
them. The new downtown core was centred
at Main and Hastings streets, in the heart of
today's Downtown Eastside. This geographical
placement adually preserved scores of heritage
buildings in the long run, as the area became
unattradive for development when the dty
centre again moved to the west in the 1970s
with the opening of Padfic Centre Mall.
Pedestrians can enjoy such gems as
the Holden Block, at 16 E. Hastings, which
was renamed the Tellier Tower in the 1980s.
The building's origins hold no tie to the
Francophone community. It was designed by
William Tuff Whiteway in 1911 for William
Holden, one of Vancouver's wealthiest
capitalists. The building housed several union
offices, and it may well have been here that was
planned the sadly famous On-to-Ottawa Trek,
which ended with bloodshed in Regina on July
2, 1935.3 The man at the microphone at the
outdoor meeting in Regina when the riot was
sparked by the police was French-Canadian
Gerald "Jerry" Tellier, one of the main
fundraisers for the trek. Little is known about
him or his brother Luc, also a Trek organizer.
They did have families in Vancouver, from
whom they separated during the period of the
strike in order to protect them from evidion
and harassment. When the Holden Block was
refurbished as a cooperative residence for
local seniors in 1988, Gerald Tellier's name
was chosen as it more aptly represented the
ventures launched within this building that
marked our city's history. It may also have
been that historically, he may have been
deemed less controversial — though no more
important — than the Trek organizer himself,
Arthur Evans. The name plaque added to the
Holden Building provides the pedestrian with
the new name of the building — Tellier Tower
— which contrasts with the elaborately carved
original name that remains above the doorway.
As to the Tellier brothers, further research will
hopefully yield dues as to the success of their
labour endeavours in Vancouver.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Desrosiers Block
Pedestrians do not have to look too far
overhead, as just to the right of the Holden
Block is the diminutive two-storey Desrosiers
Block, which has lost much of its exterior
ornamentation due to changes inflicted by
successive owners. Its most charming detail
remains its lovely tin cornice bearing its name
and two tiny columns.
Likely built in 1899 (per the date on its
original cornice), the building was erected
by P.J. Donahue for the business of Magloire
"Michael" Desrosiers, a tinsmith who likely
produced the cornice himself. Desrosiers came
from St. Paul de Joliette, QC as early as 1899,
and two years later was married in Vancouver
to Marie Caroline Boeur, from Belgium. They
had at least nine children.
On the main floor of this business, he
sold stoves and produced cornices and copper
and sheet iron wares at least until 1905. By
1917, Desrosiers is listed as being involved
in real estate. After residing in the two upper
rooms in 1901, Desrosiers rented them out as
residences and business premises.
Scores of Vancouverites have crossed the
threshold of this small building, since it evolved
over the decades to become a liquor store, the
Tien Tsin Chop Suey restaurant, the Original
Fish & Chips, the Rex Cafe, the Paris Cafe and
the Vietnamese Garden Restaurant, among
others. The last three of these restaurants were
owned and operated from 1955 to 1985 by the
same man, Wong Chun Foo, so the Paris Cafe
would not have been another Francophone
business interest in this building. Research
indicates that it was also neither the first,
nor the last, Paris Cafe opened and dosed
in Vancouver. Today, the building survives
as a convenience store. In an environment
where gentrification is consuming numerous
Desrosiers Block,
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      35
 At the centre is
the the Desrosiers
Block. The Tellier
Tower is on the
left, 2011.
neighbouring buildings and literally reaching
for the sky, this tiny structure is endangered,
even though it does appear on the City's
heritage roster. Its importance remains in
its historic relationship to this area, where is
has served generations of Vancouverites. The
Sodete historique francophone de la Colombie-
Britannique will work this year with the City
and the building owner towards the restoration
of the building's facade, thus participating in
the ongoing streetscape rehabilitation of the
Pierre Paris Shoes
Pierre Paris Shoes was, for decades, one of
the "musts" on any shopping trip downtown,
along with Woodward's and the Army and
Navy store. The building was designed by
Hooper and Watkins in 1908. Situated at 53 West
Hastings street between the two above period
big-box retailers, and with the Strathcona Hotel
on its upper storeys, this shoe store offered the
most modern shoe-buying experience and the
best-priced quality shoes for the whole family,
as well as its own renowned line of work boots
for the rail yard and port workers just down
the hill. Pierre Paris, a French Basque, arrived
in Vancouver in 1907 from Saint Pee sur
Nivelle, France, and was later joined by seven
of his fourteen siblings, who intermarried
with other local Basque immigrants, creating a
small community of their own. Paris operated
a succession of shoemaking businesses,
culminating in his modern store on Hastings
and a huge warehouse on False Creek where
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 his workers produced the much sought-after
work boots. The copyright for some of these
boot models is now owned by Dayton Boots,
whose produds grace many urban feet.
Paris Shoes closed down in the late
1970s, and the building, along with a new
tower next door, the Paris Annex, has been
transformed into high-end condos, with a
1930s-style restaurant on the main floor, which
brings you back to the business's heyday. The
family still operates Paris Orthotics on West
4th Ave. in Fairview. The Basque community,
like many other communities in Vancouver,
was eventually absorbed into the general
mainstream population.
Fortin Building
Just around the corner from Paris Shoes
is a simple Edwardian four-storey glazed-brick
strudure with bow windows, similar to many
others built in Vancouver during the building
boom of 1909. George Wilfrid Fortin, from St.
Alphonse, QC, was one of the pioneer hotel
owners in the dty. His father Wilfred, a cabinet
maker, had arrived on the first CPR train
to pull into Vancouver in 1886. George first
owned the Colonial Hotel on Granville St. in
1903, and later the Fortin Hotel in this building
around 1910, as well as the Leland Hotel across
the street from the original CPR station on
Cordova Street, at the foot of Granville Street.
He also launched hotels in Vidoria. While the
cornice gives the building's date as 1893, it
was adually built in 1909 by George W. Grant
and Alexander E. Henderson.4 By applying
the date of an earlier business venture to a
later building, a marketing ploy, Fortin has
managed to confuse both pedestrians and
historians. The Fortin Building is now used for
sodal housing.
Fortin and his wife Anna were married at
the Oblate mission in Mission in 1890, and they
had nine children. He served abroad with the
103rd Battalion in the First World War, enlisting
in 1916. Upon his return from overseas, he
turned to farming in the Fraser Valley for a
decade; the couple then retired in Vancouver.
Pierre Paris &
Sons shoe store,
Strathcona Hotel,
Right: View of
the north side of
the unit block of
West Hastings -
Strathcona Hotel,
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      37
 Fortin's lost neighbours
Fortin had as a business neighbour for
many years general store owner Quebecois
Francois-Xavier Martin, whose success in the
mercantile field and in real estate investment
set him and his wife, Azilda Marie Lafontaine,
comfortably in the city's 1908 Elite Diredory. In
1904, Azilda partidpated in the establishment
of the Vancouver branch of L'Alliance francaise,
the French organization that raises awareness
of the French language and Francophone
cultures around the world. Francois-Xavier
would actually become French Consul-general
in Vancouver from 1904 to 1906.
Just doors away, at Cordova and Carrall,
was the photo studio of Alphonse Savard, from
Quebec City. His Imperial Photo Studio was
popular with both the European and Chinese
communities, but even then, for reasons
unknown, he eventually quit the business and
moved his family to Britannia Beach where he
was one of numerous French-Canadian miners
on the payroll. Sadly, Martin's general store
and Savard's photo studio survive only on
archival photos.
The still extant examples of buildings
bearing names from the Francophone
community provide an idea of the vibrancy
and commerdal verve of this group in the
formative decades of the city. While the
dty's long-held penchant for demolition and
redevelopment is now somewhat abated,
most of the buildings dted above owe their
survival to their location in or near the present
Downtown Eastside. The impressive listings of
French names in the dty's rosters and censuses
are testimony to that community's important
role in Vancouver's growth and prosperity. •
Fortin building.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
1. A term to cover all
the horizontal stonework
resting on a row of columns,
including the architrave (the
lowest member), the frieze,
and the cornice at the top. The
Canadian Oxford Dictionary,
2. "Gassy" referred to one's
ability to tell tall tales, at
which Deighton excelled.
That nickname was applied
to the town that grew around
his saloon, no doubt due at
least in part to the bluster of
its inhabitants. In 1870, the
growing town was given the
nobler name of Granville by
the colonial government, but
the use of Gastown persisted.
The name was changed again
to Vancouver upon the city's
incorporation in 1886.
3. The On-to-Ottawa Trek
began just blocks from this
building, at the rail tracks by
the port. Tens of thousands of
unemployed men had been
streaming into Vancouver
for months, having jumped
the trains heading west, all
of the men looking for jobs
that had disappeared with
the Depression. Thousands of
them boarded trains heading
progressively back east to
Ottawa to convince Prime
Minister R.B. Bennett to create
jobs for them. The complicity
of the Prime Minister, the
RCMP and Regina Police
brought about a violent end
to this peaceful effort, in what
remains one of the darkest
moments of labour history in
4. "Fortin Building," Canada's
Historic Places, accessed
Sept 14, 2014, http://www.
History in Context
Do you have an old photograph with a story to tell?
. Columbia
magazine is
s excited to
announce a
| new back page
aking inspiration from Dear Photograph and HistoryPin, we would
like to encourage you help bring a photograph of the past to the
present. Anyone can contribute a photograph! Please send your
photograph of the past in the present to: and
include information on who or what is in the photograph and why it is
important to you or your community It could appear on the back page.
The use of the old photograph featured in this was graciously donated by the Langley
Centennial Museum. The photograph is from the 1920s from when construction
was occurring on Fort Langley Community Hall. In 1924, the Fort Langley Women's
Institute, led by the second Mrs. Hector Morrison, started the Fort Langley Community
Improvement Society with the idea of building a new town hall. In 1925, the old town
hall grounds were purchased from the municipality for $137.13.
Although the Fort Langley Community Improvement Association had been primarily
founded in 1924 by Mrs. Morrison (nee Hadden), George Young became a very active
and influential member as well. Archibald Campbell Hope, architect brother of local
Charles Edward Hope, was commissioned to plan the new hall. Construction on the
building did not begin until 1930. On March 6, 1931, the formal opening and Inaugural
Dance was held, and that same year maple trees were planted by members of the
board, those along the north by the women and along the south by the men, and the
cherry trees were later donated by another supporter. Originally, the hall was painted
dark brown, not the yellow it is today. The Community Hall became a designated
Heritage Site on September 10, 1979.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      39
 Archives & Archivists
by Rosemarie Parent; edited by Sylvia Stopforth
Sylvia Stopforth
is a Librarian and
Archivist at Norma
Marion AUoway
Library at Trinity
Western University.
Rosemarie Parent
is the President of
the Society. She
volunteers her time
to keep the Society
up and running, and
in good standing.
She is most grateful
for the assistance
of Kyle Kusch, a
graduate student
who has catalogued
their collection of
more than 10,000
Arrow Lakes Historical Society Archives: One Year in the
New Digs.
he ALHS is a registered non-profit
association dedicated to preserving
the history of the Arrow Lakes and
surrounding areas. We celebrated our
30th anniversary on December 4, 2014.
When first established, we spent fifteen
years upgrading the museum, paying for the
costs by printing several small books such
as the Pioneer Cookbook. We also gathered
archival material, photocopying old issues
of the Arrow Lakes Newspaper and sorting
clippings into loose-leaf binders according to
category. This was a great help when we were
writing seven history books about the area,
and seeking information on the local pioneers
for researchers.
When an opportunity arose to lease a
portion of the BC Hydro building, the Society
decided to move their archival material to
this   address,   and  the  museum  became   a
separate society. There was no room for the
growing collection of archival material at the
museum, and most of it had been stored in
basements. The late Milton Parent, who was
born in Nakusp and returned many years
later, took it upon himself to interview nearly
500 pioneers of the area. He also copied many
of their photographs, noting details of place
and occasion, as well as the names of those
pictured. Because Milton started interviewing
pioneers and copying their photographs
twelve years before the Historical Society
was formed, we had already amassed a large
amount of information, including more
than 10,000 photographs. This formed the
core of the Archives. As we did research for
people and wrote books, the collection grew
to contain maps, slides, documents, ledgers,
minute books, and other items donated by area
residents and their descendants.
The new two-
storey addition and
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Bound newspapers
are shelved near
binders filled with
copies of clippings
sorted by category.
This arrangement worked well for fifteen
years, but we had no room for slide/movie
shows and needed more storage space. We
decided to ask the Village if we could build
an addition onto the Village-owned Nakusp
Centennial Building which housed the
Museum and Library. This gave the Archives a
permanent home for the future, and provided
a lift for the handicapped and elderly who
visit the Library, which has many stairs. The
new facility opened in April, 2014. Our office
is on the top floor, and the lift can be used by
both organizations. There is storage for all,
including the Village, on the bottom floor. The
Museum put in a new showroom to free up
more space for exhibits.
We won an award from the British
Columbia Historical Federation for our
first book, Faces of the Past. With the fourth
book, Circle of Silver, Milton Parent won the
Lieutenant Governor's Award for Historical
Writing in 2001. A detailed list of all seven of
our books is available on our website www.
We hope to write more books in the
future, including one about the SS Minto, a
sternwheeler that was built in 1898 and served
as a workhorse on the Arrow Lakes until it was
taken off service in 1954. When Hydro cleared
the lake to make it into a reservoir, the SS Minto
was taken out onto the lake and burned.
Our fees for having photographs copied
or other research done are available on our
website. For those wishing to do their own
research, we can provide the books, maps and
other necessary material. Only photocopying
fees would then apply.*
Acid-free boxes on shelves house minute books, club books, hotel
registers and more. Folding tables can be cleared away, providing
space for up to fifty to enjoy slide shows and movies on the 80"
wall-mounted television monitor.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1      41
 From the Book Review Editor's Desk
K. Jane Watt
New Books and Old Ways
The dictionary tells us that the
field of ethnobotany explores
the relationships between
people and plants over time.
Ethnoecology is the study of human
relationships with their environment.
But such bald definitions leave out
the richness of these connections and
their part in creating culture, in fleshing out the nuances of language and
its association to place.
Victoria's Nancy Turner has
spent most of her life learning
about the intimate and profound
ties between the indigenous people
of British Columbia and the plants
that have historically been part of
their everyday lives and seasonal
relationships with each other and the
land around them.
Her new two-volume book,
Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge:
Ethnobotany and
l Ecological Wisdom of
I Indigenous Peoples of
I Northwestern North
I America (Kingston/
[Montreal: McGill-
I Queens University
I Press, 2014) $100,
I explores the ways
I that plants feed
I communities,
and underscore technology and
healing traditions. It considers,
in turn, how people serve — and
have served for a long time — plant
communities through careful tending
and stewardship, shaping familiar
landscapes in which the hands of
cultivation have yet gone largely
unrecognized. Turner's work reminds
us that ties to plants extend far beyond
the mere physical sustenance of food
to sustaining rituals of life that mark
seasons, territory, the parameters
of belief, and important passages
between worlds. They also link
historic trade networks and extended
family relationships.
In the summer 2014 "ASPP
(Awards to Scholarly Publications
Program) Spotlight" of the
Humanities and Social Sciences
federation website, Turner considers
what Ancient Pathways represents. It
is, she notes,
a culmination of many
years of research and
thought about the
complex, long-term, ever-
changing relationships
among humans, plants,
and environments here
in northwestern North
America. How did people
acquire the rich knowledge
about their environments,
including plants, algae,
and fungi, that I learned
about? How did they
pass on their knowledge,
practices, and beliefs from
generation to generation,
from family to family,
and from community to
community? And, how
did they adapt these
practices to new and
changing situations they
But she is not content with
leaving the past in the past when
it has so much to teach us about
pathways to the future. "In the face
of these rapidly changing times," she
writes, "with technological, societal,
and environmental change happening
at a seemingly ever increasing pace,
how can this precious knowledge
be recognized, maintained, and
perpetuated for the benefit of future
generations?" For Turner, "these
are the big questions that have been
building up ... with each new detail
learned, each new insight, and each
new recognition of significance
and connection stemming from my
participatory, collaborative research
with First Nations plant experts."
Ancient Pathways is a book that
ought to be on the shelf of every
library in the province — so if you
can't afford it yourself, urge your local
library to get it. It is a timeless piece
of scholarship borne of respect for
others, patience, and deep curiosity.
UBC's Jean Barman has been
sketching the shape of British
Columbia history for much of
her career, beginning with her
foundational history of the province,
The West Beyond the West: A History of
British Columbia (1991 revised 1996).
Since then, her research has taken up
corners of this story, turned them over,
and found new archival information
as well as living descendants willing
to tell new stories that anchor the
past to the present day. Thus we have
Sojourning Sisters: the Lives and Letters
of Jessie and Annie McQueen (2003);
The Remarkable Adventures of Portugese
Joe Silvey (2004); Maria Mahoi of the
Islands (2004); Stanley Park's Secret: The
Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka
Ranch and Brockton Point (2005); and
Leaving Paradise: Indigenous Hawaiians
in the Pacific Northwest, 1787-1898
(2006). Her newest book, released
in hardcover in 2015 and just on the
cusp of being released in softcover
continues the trajectory of her work.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
Books for review should be sent to:
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor, British Columbia History
Box 1053, Fort Langley BC V1M 2S4
In French
Canadians, Furs, And
Indigenous Women
in the Making of the
Pacific Northwest
(UBC Press, 2014,)
$95 hardcover/$39.95
softcover, Barman
rethinks the history
I of the Pacific
} Northwest from
the perspective of
French-Canadian presence here. As
she notes in her article on page 5 they
were the backbone of the fur trade in
the Pacific Northwest. Their labour and
love (and the culture and descendants
fostered by both) literally shaped the
territory that became known as British
Columbia. Moreover, their descendants
— by virtue of their willingness to
embrace cultural diversity — shaped
society well beyond the dawn of BC.
Xweliqwiya: The Life of a Sto:lo
Matriarch. By Rena Point Bolton and
Richard Daly. With a forward by
Steven Point. (Edmonton: Athabasca
University Press, 2013) $34.95. Part
memoir, part oral
fchistory, part lesson
Ifor living, Point
Kolton's life story is
Viffered in snippets
lof conversation.
IShe was born in
Il927 on the high
I land of Kilgard
Ithe vanished
landscape of
Sema:th, or
Sumas Lake, now without water
called Sumas Prairie. Point Bolton
has, in a quiet but determined way,
dedicated her life to the cultural
renewal of indigenous people — in her
home territory of the eastern Fraser
Valley, on the road in First Nations
communities throughout British
Columbia, and in Nisga'a territory
before   once   again   returning   home
to Skowkale after the death of her
husband and life-partner, Cliff Bolton.
She was taught about the creation
of textiles from her grandmother, and
recalls an early memory of a time
when she was perhaps three years
old.  "My grandmother has become
very strict with me," she recalls.
Every day I have to sit down
and work at something or
other. One day she has me
sewing coloured yarn on a
piece of cardboard. She's
punched a pattern of holes
through the cardboard with
her bone awl. I am to fill the
card with coloured yarns,
and I must not miss a single
hole. Gradually, I learn to
master the darning needle
and the task becomes easy.
Teasing and carding raw wool
come next, and then spinning on a
spindle whorl made especially for
her small hands by her grandfather,
Pete Silva. From these childhood
beginnings immersed in work, story,
song, and familiar places near the
Fraser River, Point Bolton embarks on
a life of learning and making possible
new ties to culture and to the old ways
through her presence, her teachings,
and especially through her baskets.
Shore to Shore: The Art of
Ts'uts'umutl Luke Marston.
By Suzanne Fournier
[(Madeira Park:
Harbour, 2014)
Shore to Shore tells the story
of a public art piece created for and
installed in Stanley Park called Shore
to Shore — and the family history
behind it. This sculpture, according to
a Harbour press release
depicts three figures of
importance in the history
of coastal British Columbia:
Portugese Joe Silvey,
one of the province's
most colourful pioneers;
Khaltinaht, a noblewoman
from the Musqueum and
Squamish First Nations
and Silvey's first wife;
and Kwatleematt (Lucy),
a Sechelt First Nation
matriarch and Silvey's
second wife. The three are
surrounded by tools of
Silvey's trade: a seine net
(Silvey was the first to take
out a seine fishery licence
in BC); fishing net needles;
a short throw net; and a
whaling harpoon. Silvey is
holding a spring salmon by
the gills, representing the
industry that allowed the
family to thrive. The Silvey
family stands under a cod
lure used by First Nations.
Each of the three fins of
the lure is carved with the
symbols and crests that
represent the three figures.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1    43
 Ts'uts'umutl Luke Marston
is the great-great-grandson
of Portugese Joe Silvey and
Kwatleematt. The sculpture
project was conceived out
of a need to honour his
ancestry and family history
in Stanley Park, and to tell
a story of the historical
struggle for life, identity,
and peace.
The Life and Art of Harry and
Jessie Webb.
ByAdrienne Brown
^(Salt Spring Island:
Mother Tongue,
12014) $34.95.
The seventh in Mother
Tongues "Unheralded Artists of BC"
series, this book is part memoir, part
biography, written by the Webb's
daughter, now a landscape architect
and garden designer. Harry and Jessie
Webb were Vancouver School of Art
graduates, and artists of mid-century
Vancouver, especially known for their
progressive linocuts. By the 1970s,
their bohemian lifestyle became hard
to live, other opportunities beckoned,
and their marriage ended. Harry
Webb became a successful landscape
architect, designing public spaces
and parks, as well as iconic gardens
and plazas of Vancouver. Jessie
continued to make art and to work
to keep her name in the public realm.
Christina Johnson-Dean, author of
other books in the Unheralded Artist
series, writes of this book that it is "a
heart-wrenching and triumphal tale
of BC artists who embraced and were
entangled in significant trends of their
contemporary world." She continues:
The story of Harry and
Jessie Webb, artists and
lovers, took off during
the 1950s beat generation
in Vancouver with
groundbreaking art,
involvement in the jazz
scene, struggles with
limited income and the
effect of post-war attitudes
to women. It continued
with the contribution
of Harry's landscape
architecture career.
That Went By Fast: My First
Hundred Years.
By Frank White
i(Madeira Park:
^Harbour, 2014)
Fresh off
the success of his
2013 memoir Milk Spills and One-
Log Loads, White takes readers through
his life as truck logger, camp owner,
boat builder, garage mechanic, and
waterworks operator, father, confused
husband, and later widower. His tone
is wise and irreverent all at once, and
always drawn from the heart, as this
excerpt from his preface called "I
Become an Artifact" suggests:
Getting old isn't all it's
cracked up to be but it
has some plusses. When
I trundle down to the
shopping centre in Madiera
Park, people I don't know
greet me like a long-lost
friend. I've lived in Pender
Harbour sixty years and
never did feel part of the
place before, but now they
treat me like a local hero....
When I was fifty and still
had most of my marbles,
all people wanted me to
tell them was why their car
stalled at the intersection.
Now that everything is
starting to get hazy, they're
not satisfied until I can tell
them the meaning of life.
In a review in the Vancouver
Sun, on December 5, 2014, Michael
Hayward describes the new literary
connections White found later in life.
Widowed at the age of 63,
he eventually took up with
another local iconoclast,
former New Yorker writer
Edith Iglauer, author of
the classic Fishing With
John, which describes her
marriage to John Daly, a
commercial fisherman who
operated a 41-foot troller
out of Pender Harbour. The
pairing of a "gyppo" logger
and a New Yorker writer
might seem an unlikely
alliance (as White puts it:
"People always want to
know how a fine lady like
Edith got hooked up with
a bush ape like me"), but
the relationship obviously
Some may know that Frank
White's publishers are his
son and daughter-in-law
Howard and Mary White,
whose Harbour Publishing,
based on the Sunshine
Coast, celebrates its 40th
anniversary this year. That
Went By Fast is an excellent
example of the kind of vivid
local stories that Harbour
has been publishing so
successfully for 40 years;
It is, in Howard White's
words, "a typical Harbour
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 book — full of authentic
knowledge about life on
the B.C. coast during the
past century and meant
to be read mostly by the
community out of which it
Frank White's tale of his journey
to becoming an object of historical
interest is an absorbing read.
The Sea Among Us: The
Amazing Strait of Georgia.
Edited by Richard
[Beamish and Gordon
McFarlane (Madeira
[Park: Harbour,
bd4) $39.95.
An ambitious
project, The Sea Among Us,
seeks to convey the deep importance
of the Strait of Georgia across a
variety of touchstones related to
history — its biology, history, geology,
anthropology — to a new generation
of readers. The Strait of Georgia,
according to the book's front flap, "is
one of the world's great inland seas, a
6,515-square kilometre body of water
lying between the British Columbia
Mainland and Vancouver Island." Rich
in history and teeming with wildlife
and marine traffic, the waterway is
essential to British Columbians for
food, jobs, travel and recreation.
The sheltered shores of the strait are
home to Canada's largest seaport
and over two-thirds of the province's
Twelve subject experts
collaborated on this project, each
writing a section. All author royalties
are going to the Pacific Salmon
Foundation, which is launching its
Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.
Call for Papers — Spring 2016
Celebrating Community Halls
Sod turning for the new Camp River Hall in Chilliwack, BC, April 30,
1975. From left: Don Northgraves, vice-president of the Camp River Hall
Society; Mrs. Moss, oldest living resident of the Camp River community;
A.D. Rundle, Norm Standeven, president; Bill Standeven.
^ ommunity halls are the cornerstone of towns throughout
British Columbia. For generations, they have been the
m^ places where people come together to celebrate and
to mourn, to teach and learn, to dance and to visit, and for
hundreds of other reasons. They make community possible.
What is the story of your community hall?
In Spring 2016 we will feature a special issue to celebrate
community halls.
Articles for the Spring issue can vary widely in word length,
from 1,000 to 3,000. Share the story of your community hall.
The deadline for article proposals is September 15, 2015.
Please submit proposals to the Editor, British Columbia
History, Andrea Lister, email:
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1    45
 New Books by Small Presses
Inspector of Fisheries: A history of salmon
management in British Columbia: the first 100
Inspector of Fisheries is a history
of government management of the
British Columbia Salmon Fishery
from 1876 — when the first inspector
of fisheries was appointed — to the
1970s. It traces the evolution of the
science behind fisheries management
as well as the creation of the regulatory
framework for the management of the commercial ocean
fishery, the First Nations fishery, and recreational fishery.
It concentrates its attention on the Skeena and Nass Rivers,
among the first rivers in the province to supply the salmon
canning industry.
By Rod N. Palmer (Nanaimo: Rod Palmer Publishing, 2014)
$25. Order at
ads for tobacco in rhyming couplets, "If cigars you are
smoking, while walking with Hannah,/She'll never object
to our brands of Havana. To the futility of war and the
tremendous losses the city and its institutions sustained
before "the cruel war was over." My favourite is the
anonymous "Ode to an Electric Light" penned in the dark
winter of 1888. Its first stanza runs thus:
Twinkle, twinkle, little Arc,
Sickly, blue, uncertain spark:
Up above my head you swing.
Ugly, strange, expensive thing.
And its final:
Though your light perchance surpass
Homely oil or vulgar gas,
Still (I close with this remark).
I detest you, little Arc!
By Robert Ratcliffe Taylor (Order at
Imperial Eden: Victoria BC in Verse — 1858-
Taylor has trolled through
back issues of the Times Colonist to
gather this collection of poems — by
professional poets such as Robert
Service (drawn from his years in
the Cowichan Valley), by irate
citizens, and by the editorial team
at the Colonist. For modern readers,
the poems track changing society
and register its contentments and
concerns. From bucolic stanzas of the charms of this most
British eden in springtime such as Eustace Alvaney Jenns'
invocation of the paradise of Victoria, described as "A fair
city, nestling in the hills, surrounded by an azure ring of
sea./ Where with her utmost beauty nature fills/The soul..."
To jesting or heartfelt rhymes about political figures.
"In Memory of Sir James Douglas" clearly gestures to a
paradise beyond the toils of political and economic life in
British Columbia. "In peaceful slumber rests the honored
Knight./No shadow marks the Spirit's happy flight."
The gender wars of the early twentieth century which
yielded the bicycle-riding, uncorseted, uncrinolined "New
Woman" — and importantly, the vote — are ridiculed.
"With her rights and her tights — /One dare not say
breeches — / Her new living and lights./ Her speeches
and speeches." Other poems are odes to temperance. To
individual choice. To the bounteous joys of alcohol. To
Discover the Gap: Through the
Memories of Those Who Lived
Them at Porlier Pass.
This collaboration is a collection
of reminiscences of people and families
who spent summers at The Gap on
Galiano Island — now Dionisio Point
Provincial Marine Park — on the edge
of Porlier Pass. With sandy beaches and excellent fishing,
it was a magical summer community from the 1940s to the
1970s, peopled by generations of "Gap Rats." Discover the
Gap is a warm and nostalgic recreation of a special place.
By the Ladysmith and District Historical Society.
(Ladysmith, 2014).
Where Does It Hurt Now?
Doctor and raconteur Sterling
Haynes offers a new collection of
stories of his life and practice as doctor
in rural BC and elsewhere. Available
on Amazon.
By Sterling Haynes (Kelowna: Randart
Publishing, 2014) $20.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Journey to the Cariboo
British Columbia Historical Federation Annual Conference
Quesnel, BC
Registration open to all History Enthusiasts
Beer Tasting | Barkerville | Talks | Authors'Fair | Theatre
Thursday May 21
• Welcoming Reception Beer Tasting with Barkerville Brewery
Friday May 22
• Full day trip to Barkerville, Cottonwood House, Blessing's Grave & Wells
• Movie Night at the Museum
Saturday May 23
• BCHF Annual General Meeting
• Lunch with Keynote Speaker Richard Wright
• The Road to the Gold Fields
• Cariboo Pioneers and Cariboo Portraits
• Author s Fair
• Cemetery Walk
• The Cariboo Caravan
• Awards Banquet with "The Bride of Barkerville" by Danette Boucher
Full Conference & bus trip   $225
Saturday Only $120
Additional reception tickets   $25
Barkerville bus trip $60
Additional Banquet tickets    $55
The Billy Barker Casino Hotel
(ask for BCHF rate)
Best Western Tower Inn
(ask for BCHF rate)
For more information and to register online go to
or call 604-855-9822 to request a registration form by mail.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1    47
 Cabinets of Curiosities
by Gisele Samson
The name Victor G. Brodeur appears on plaques and buildings around
Esquimalt, but who was this man and what is his connection to BC?
Three spots in Esquimalt
bear the name Victor G.
Brodeur: the Naden Naval
Base building, on a plaque
in front of the Francophone school
on Head Street, and also on a
brick on the Centennial Walkway
of the Memorial Park. These
commemorations suggest that we
must remember this man, but why?
Victor Gabriel Brodeur was born
in Beloeil, Quebec on September 17,
1892. He was the son of the Honorable
Louis-Philippe Brodeur, Canada's
first Minister of the Naval Service.
Despite his father's position, Victor
G. Brodeur's exceptional career was
his own. In 1909, Brodeur became
one of the first six officer cadets to
join Canada's new navy. Following
training, Brodeur served on one of
Canada's first warships, the HMCS
Niobe and later, in 1921, had the
distinction of becoming the first
Canadian Naval Officer to serve for
two years at the Royal Navy Gunnery
School in Devonport, England.
Left: The
brick from the
Walkway of the
Memorial Park,
Esquimalt, BC.
Right: October
5, 1977: The
"Petite ecole
renamed Victor
G. Brodeur.
During his career, Brodeur was
stationed in BC three different times.
Beginning in May 1932 to January
1934 Brodeur served as Commanding
Officer at HMCS Naden in Esquimalt.
His office and residence, Building 20,
was the Senior Officer's Residence, a
classical design thought to be planned
by the famous Victoria architect, John
Brodeur returned to BC in 1938,
just before the outbreak of war, this
time as Captain-in-Charge at HMC
Naval Establishments, Esquimalt
(HMCS Naden) and Commanding
Officer of the Pacific Coast, the first
Francophone to hold the post. In this
position, he received the Royal couple
in May 1939 and was involved in the
planning of the defence of the Strait
of Juan de Fuca during the Second
Do you have an object with a story on the shelves, walls or in the attic?
Do you pass an object with a story in your daily travels? The story should
capture a moment, signicant or personal, in BC's history.
Email your story to:, or mail it to: Editor, British
Columbia History, PO Box 21187, Maple Ridge BC, V2X 1P7.
World War. In 1940, Brodeur left his
BC post, becoming the first Canadian
Naval Attache in Washington, DC.
During his final posting to
British Columbia, the "francophone
contre-amiral Victor G Brodeur"
served as the Commanding Officer of
the Pacific Coast from 1943 until his
retirement in July 1946. He is one of
only six French-speaking Quebecers
to rise to the rank of Rear Admiral
(as of 2009 out of a total 200 people to
reach that rank).
Brodeur died on October 6,1976
and is buried in the Mountain View
Cemetery in Vancouver.
Vice-Admiral Victor G
Brodeur would have been
very proud of the school
which bears his name
since 1977 and would have
been charmed to know it
began in Building No. 20
that was his residence at
Naden (BC) in 1932-33.1 •
1.   John Greene, et al. French Presence in
Victoria B.C. 1843-1991. Victoria: L'Association
Historique Francophone de Victoria, C.B., 1991.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Spring 2015 | Vol. 48 No. 1
 Awards and Scholarship Information
for complete details go to
W. KAYE LAMB Essay Scholarships
Deadline: May 15
The British Columbia Historical Federation
awards two scholarships annually for
essays written by students at BC colleges
or universities, on a topic relating to British
Columbia history. One scholarship ($750) is
for an essay written by a student in a first or
second year course; the other ($1000) is for
an essay written by a student in a third or
fourth year course.
To apply for the scholarship all candidates
must submit (1) a letter of application and
(2) a letter of recommendation from the
professor for whom the essay was written.
First and second year course essays should
be 1,500-3,000 words; third and fourth
year,l,500 to 5,000 words. By entering the
scholarship competition the student gives
the editor of British Columbia History the
right to edit and publish the essay if it is
deemed appropriate for the magazine.
Applications with 3 printed copies of the
essay should be submitted to: Marie Elliott,
Chair BC Historical Federation Scholarship
Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B,
Victoria, BC V8R 6N4
Anne 6t Philip Yandle Best Article
Deadline: lb be eligible, the article must have appeared
in the BCHF journal British Columbia History for that
A Certificate of   merit and $250 will be
awarded annually to the author of the
article, published in British Columbia
History, that best enhances knowledge
of BC's history and provides reading
enjoyment. Judging will be based on subject
development, writing skill, freshness of
material, and appeal to a general readership
interested in all aspects of BC history.
BC History Web Site Prize
Deadline: December 31
The British Columbia Historical Federation
and David Mattison are jointly sponsoring a
yearly cash award of $250 to recognize Web
sites that contribute to the understanding
and appreciation of British Columbia's past.
The award honours individual initiative in
writing and presentation.
Nominations for the BC History Web
Site Prize must be made to the British
Columbia Historical Federation, Web Site
Prize Committee, prior to December 31st
each year. Web site creators and authors
may nominate their own sites. Prize rules
and the online nomination form can be
found on the British Columbia Historical
Federation Web site:
Best Newsletter Award
Deadline: March 1
Newsletters published by member societies
are eligible to compete for an annual
prize of $250. They will be judged for
presentation and content that is interesting,
newsy and informative.
- Only member societies of the BCHF are
- Only one issue of a society's newsletter
will be evaluated
- Submit three printed copies of this best
issue from the previous calendar year
- BCHF reserves the right not to award a
prize in a given year should applications
not be of sufficient quality
Submit three printed copies of a single
newsletter issue to: BCHF Recognition
Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B,
Victoria, BC, Canada, V8R 6N4
Certificate of Merit
Deadline: March 1
Group or individual who has made a
significant contribution to the study,
project, or promotion of British Columbia's
Certificate of Recognition
Deadline: March 1
Given to individual members or groups
of members of BCHF Member Societies
who have given exceptional service to their
Organization or Community.
Certificate of Appreciation
Deadline: March 1
Individuals who have undertaken ongoing
positions, tasks, or projects for BCHF.
Any member of BCHF may nominate
candidates for Certificates of Appreciation,
Certificates of Merit or Certificates of
Recognition. Nominations, supported
by a letter explaining why the nominee
is deserving of a certificate, should be
submitted to the Chair of the Recognition
Committee by March 1 of each year.
The Lieutenant-Governor's Medal
for Historical Writing
Deadline: December 31
Each year, the British Columbia Historical
Federation invites submissions for its
Annual Historical Writing Competition
to authors of BC history; and the winning
author is awarded the Lieutenant-
Governor's Medal for Historical Writing.
- To be eligible, a book must be about
BC history and be published within the
competition year
- Non-fiction books representing any
aspect of BC history are eligible.
- Reprints or revisions of books are not
- Books may be submitted by authors or
- Deadline for submission is December
31 of the year in which the book was
Submission Requirements
- Those wishing to enter books MUST
obtain a copy of the entry rules from the
entries chair at
- Authors/Publishers are required to
submit three copies of their book
- Books are to be accompanied by a letter
containing the following:
1. Title of the book submitted
2. Author's name and contact information
3. Publisher's name and contact
4. Selling price
- Books entered become property of BCHF
- Judges' decisions are final and
- By submitting books for this competition,
the authors agree that the BCHF may use
their name(s) in press releases and in its
William R. Morrison: Email: writing®
Judging Criteria
Judges are looking for quality presentations
and fresh material. Submissions will be
evaluated in the following areas:
- Scholarship: quality of research and
documentation, comprehensiveness,
objectivity and accuracy
- Presentation: organization, clarity,
illustrations and graphics
- Accessibility: readability and audience
All winners will receive publicity and an
invitation to the Award's Banquet at the
Federation's annual conference in May
following the year of publication.
Lieutenant-Governor's Medal and Other Awards
The BC Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for
Historical Writing will be awarded together
with $2500 to the author whose book
makes the most significant contribution
to the history of British Columbia. The
2nd and 3rd place winners will receive
$1500 and $500 respectively. Certificates of
Honourable Mention may be awarded to
other books as recommended by the judges.
Johnson Inc. Scholarship
Deadline: September 15
Canadian residents completing high school
and who are beginning post-secondary
education. 100 scholarships of $1500 each
for Canada,
 The home of Andre Marc and his wife, Alice
Pichon in 1911. Andre and Alice were both
born in France and married in 1907 in Victoria,
BC. This 1911 photo shows Alice Marc with
children Marcel and Germaine in front of the
Marc home, part of a 175-acre homestead near
Loon Lake in Yennadon. Approximately 8 km
north east of downtown Maple Ridge. Andre
went back to France to serve the military
during WWI.Their homestead is now part of
the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest and
is rented for accommodations.The pinned
photo in the inset satellite image indicates
the location of the structure.
PHOTO CREDITS 1911 photo: Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives, P00966 pinned to Historypin,
Discover BC's Past
Humorous, tragic, personal and
engaging stories in every issue.
Subscribe Today!
One year (four new issues) only $20
on line: by phone: 604.688.1175
by email:
by mail: British Columbia History, Subscriptions,
c/o Magazine Association of BC, (we've moved)
#316 - 336 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5T 4R6


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