BC History Tales

The Big Snow, a Winter History Tale from the BC Coast

The Big Winter
Mary Bryant’s First Year on Quadra Island, BC

Loneliness plagued most of the bachelors who settled on the Discovery Islands in the 1890s, when the Euro-Canadian gender balance was about ten men to one woman. It wasn’t so bad in spring and summer, when men worked in logging camps to earn a grubstake. It was the short days of winter, working alone to clear their land, that wore them down. “Snowed a bit in night,” a settler wrote in his diary of December 1890. “Got out a few [fence] rails, drizzling rain in afternoon. Feeling very lonely, tired of reading.”

Jack Bryant of Quadra […]

Maria Carlotta Boond’s Mysterious Death on Quadra Island, B.C.

Maria Carlotta Boond’s Tangled Web
There were no twists of smoke rising from Maria Boond’s chimney. Nor were there any tracks in the snow around her cottage on the hill overlooking a jumble of seine boats and trollers in Quathiaski Cove. That was odd. But lots of things were odd about Maria Carlotta Boond—so her neighbours didn’t intrude. However, when a young man came to see a piano Maria had for sale he was alarmed by the creepy silence of the place and alerted the people next door, who called the police. That’s when they found Maria and her lover […]

Memoirs require focus, perspective and clarity

Totem Poles and Tea, by Hughina Harold
A Stellar Example of a Memoir with a Focused Theme
Every writer hopes their book will be in print a decade after its release—but that’s not often the case—especially with local history memoirs. The first edition of Totem Poles and Tea did not get off to a promising start, thanks to a drab cover and its incongruous title, but Hughina Harold’s clear, focused writing—and great stories—triumphed and the book continues to be read.

Hughina’s subject is the two years she spent in the combined job of school teacher and nurse in the isolated Kwakwaka’wakw village […]

Pioneer school on Quadra Island, BC

A Lesson in Inequity
Remembering one of Quadra Island, BC’s First Schools
Katie Walker’s childhood home, at the Methodist Mission in the We-Wai-Kai people’s village, was too far away for her to attend Quadra Island’s new public school. But after her parents took her to the first Christmas concert there in 1895, she longed to go.

It took the Walkers over two hours to hike through the snow to the school, with a stop to join friends, who invited Katie’s mother aboard their jingling ox sleigh. The schoolhouse was crowded, in spite of the weather, and Katie marveled at the student’s recitations and songs. […]

Lily Joy Ward’s grave at Bold Point, BC

A Century Old Grave at Bold Point, BC

Lily Joy Ward’s writing still sparkles with vitality and personality in the essays, letters and poems she wrote for the BC coast magazine, The Log of the Columbia, over a century ago. She wanted to be remembered–but until two years ago her grave was lost to even her closest descendants.

Lily opened her heart to her readers, sometimes sharing views that ran contrary to Victorian conventions. She also challenged practices in her rural logging community, at Bold Point on Quadra Island, BC, protesting against the shooting of eagles and the brutal destruction of BC’s forests. She wondered […]

Bute Inlet

Let’s Change the Name Mount Waddington to Mount Klatsassin
Bute Inlet has some of the most dramatic mountain scenery on the BC coast. Dr. Rod Nugent, on board a recent Mothership Adventures cruise, likened the fjord to the Grand Canyon. The highest mountain in BC, Mount Waddington, towers like an up-thrust finger above the Homathko River Valley on a clear day. It’s surrounded by many other grand peaks.

Some people believe the name of this mountain should be changed to Klatsassin, rather than honouring a man who sparked a war and many deaths. Here’s the story.
A Failed Attempt to Build a […]

A Mystery Grave on West Redonda Island, BC

A Mystery Grave on West Redonda Island, BC
A forgotten gravestone gives us a lonely sense of the transitory nature of life. Quadruple the effect when it’s a headstone lost in a tangle of overgrowth on an uninhabited stretch of the BC coast.

Mike Moore of Misty Isles Adventures (http://www.mistyislesadventures.com/) was–I believe–the first to chance upon a grave for two children just south of Connis Point on West Redonda Island a decade ago. The commercially-made headstone, with its embossed angel says:
In Loving Memory of
Moses 1 year old
Marten 2 years old
They died 1892.
These are unusual names and the date, just one year after federal censuses were conducted […]

Tracing Family Roots on Read Island and in Port Neville, BC

Searching for Daisy on Read Island & in Port Neville, BC
Here’s a guest post from Lois Wade, with a second installment of the story of her discovery of her grandmother Daisy Lang’s hidden childhood. See the full story of the love triangle and murder Lois and her family uncovered when they began to put the details of Daisy’s past together: http://thescribes.ca/disturbing-the-dead-a-read-islandbc-tale/.  And for more, check the latest edition of Harbour Publishing’s Raincoast Chronicles: http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/RaincoastChronicles23.
Exploring Burdwood Bay on Read Island 

Our adventure began aboard the Misty Isles (http://www.mistyislesadventures.com/) with Jeanette Taylor as our guide and story teller. Jeanette pointed out a white lilac tree, […]

Photographs Can Provide Details for Writers

Photographs as a Research Source for Historical Writing
Photographs can be an inspiration can be rich with details, but we tend to pass them over as a superficial source that give no more than a vague sense of a time or place. Take a closer look. Photographs can be loaded with emotion, information, sensory and concrete details—all the good things you want for writing that resonates with life.
What Are the Circumstances of This Family?

In one of our writing classes Annette and I invited students to speculate about the details of a Victorian family, based on this portrait. The results were […]

“Ruffles on My Longjohns” by Isobel Edwards

Book Review: Ruffles on My Longjohns, by Isobel Edwards
Here’s a guest post by Sandra Doran of Campbell River, BC, sharing a favourite coastal history book from the past century.

I listened to my mother’s stories of growing up in the town of Ocean Falls and her and her friends’ expeditions into the surrounding hills and valleys. I wondered about the homesteaders who settled in the valley to the east and was delighted to find, at a second hand book sale, Isobel Edwards’ book, Ruffles on My Longjohns, where she talks about her experiences living in the Bella Coola valley.

When Isobel […]