BC History Tales

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 […]

Writing Family History Based On the BC Coast? Read These Writers From the Past

British Columbia Writers of the Last Century: Part I
There are BC coast writers from the past who are a delight to read, though some have fallen into obscurity. The books we’ll review here over the coming months are polished narratives and a window into the past. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of these authors or their titles—but have you read them? You may have to search these titles out through used book sellers, but it’s worth the effort!
The Curve of Time
M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time deserves its spot among BC’s literary classics. Blanchet sqeezed her five young children […]

Pictographs of the Inner Coast of British Columbia

Rock Art of the Inner Coast of BC
Part II: The Broughton Islands & Mainland Inlets

Here’s a photo collection that complements a previous posting about rock art, where you’ll find background information and photos:. http://thescribes.ca/is-it-abstract-art-or-an-obscure-message-from-the-past/. While that article featured a few of the many sites throughout the Discovery Islands, this one takes you north to the Broughton Archipelago, with its own distinctive styles and symbols.

While the pictographs (paintings on stone) of the Discovery Islands often feature fish, faces and highly abstracted forms, many of the Broughtons pictos record potlatches (a social, political and economic system orchestrated through gatherings where wealth […]

Is it Abstract Art or an Obscure Message From the Past?

Rock Art of the Inner Coast of BC
Part I: The Discovery Islands
The intrigue for me is the obscured stories they allude to. Little has been recorded either in oral traditions or by anthropologists. Speculation suggests they represent lineage myths and prerogatives. Some of the images–especially those found at a great distance from any known village sites–are thought to mark fishing grounds. Others wonder if these are the marks of shamans or the visualizations of those who entered the spirit world to gain new powers.

The richly imagined supernatural world of the Mainland Comox people, who once dominated this area, gives […]

Writing a Family History as a Healing Process

Family History as a Healing Process

Lisa Chaston is an extraordinary person. She’s a tenacious survivor of adversity, some of which is the result of health issues, and some that’s generational. Lisa has worked hard on her recovery, assisted in large measure by a family research project that involved a series of interviews with her beloved Gram, Mary (Leask) Joyce.

“I realized I didn’t know anything about my Gram, nothing about her as a person or about her life. I thought I was doing these interviews for her,” says Lisa, but she soon realized it was a two-way exchange that had […]

Tribal Journeys Canoes Arrive at Cape Mudge on Canada Day

Tribal Journeys Canoes Arrive at Cape Mudge on Canada Day
Hundreds–perhaps as many as a thousand–people gathered at the We-Wai-Kai First Nation Village on Quadra Island on Canada Day to welcome canoes participating in the Tribal Journeys, which is travelling the coast. As in days gone by, the We-Wai-Kai people treated residents, visitors and over 100 paddlers—“pullers”—to a grand welcome and a feast.

The crowded beach and drumming of paddles against canoes, answered by singers and drummers on shore, was once a common feature of life in this village. In 1892 a series of potlatches was reported on in provincial newspapers, […]

The Wards of Bold Point, Quadra Island, BC

A Forgotten Grave at Bold Point, Quadra Island, BC

The little community at Bold Point, on Quadra Island, BC, doesn’t have an official cemetery, but there are a few random graves. One is at a crossroads above an old steamship dock. Its granite headstone, enclosed within iron palings, is in memory of a couple of dogs and a horse. The other is to the west of this, on private land that was once part of a large cattle ranch. This grave has no headstone, just the corner pins of a former enclosure hidden by tall grasses and a lilac bush.

This […]

A New Wilderness Park on Quadra Island, BC

Explore a New Wilderness Park on Quadra Island
A new wilderness park, a place with lots of history, was announced last month by the BC Parks Branch. They’ve secured 395 hectares of land, a jigsaw puzzle piece that lies at the heart of two existing parks on north Quadra Island.  The funding arrangements required years of negotiation and a coalition of donors, including islanders, but it’s a prize well worth the effort!

Plan a hike or a kayak trip to celebrate. A great day hike starts near the end of the Granite Bay Road, on the trail to Newton Lake. At […]

Disturbing the Dead, a Read Island, B.C. Tale

Disturbing the Dead?
Homesteading on Read Island, BC Was a Struggle for Many

Daisy Pearl McLennan told her family very little about her childhood. She said, with a touch of pride, that she was the first white child born on Read Island, BC, on February 12, 1893. Her mother, she said, died in childbirth and shortly thereafter her heartbroken father sent Daisy to an orphanage, where he visited her on occasion. And that was it. Case closed on Daisy’s childhood.

When Daisy’s grandchildren Lois and Karen began to put their family’s genealogy together many decades later some conflicting details emerged—so they dug […]