BC History Tales

A sasquatch sighting on Quadra Island, BC

There’s a Sasquatch on Quadra Island, BC

A lifelike sculpture of a sasquatch at Quadra Island’s Rebecca Spit Park is headed south at a brisk stride. His shaggy body, tapered fingers and beady eyes express movement and determination, though he was crafted entirely from driftwood by Alex Whitcombe of Campbell River.

Whitcombe’s sasquatch calls to mind reports of a sighting of a ‘wild man’ on Quadra in 1905. The Pidcock family of Quathiaski Cove had just sat down for a late evening meal at 10:00 p.m. when a “ghastly face” peered through the window. “The face was covered with black hair,” said […]

What Drove Europeans to Settle in 20th century Canada?

Leaving Behind the Known World:
The James and Isabella Robb Family of Comox, BC
This is the first in a series of mini-portraits of 20th century immigrants to British Columbia, exploring what compelled them to leave their homes–and what they found in their new lives.

James and Isabella Robb were among the first settlers in the Comox Valley, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Unlike many of their peers, James had savings to help them get established. He was a master brewer in London,[1] which provided a comfortable but limited income—with not enough to spare to nudge his children above the […]

Two Mysterious Deaths in the Nixon Family of Twin Islands, BC

The Mysterious Deaths of Harpur and Margaret Nixon of Twin Islands, BC
Reverend Harpur Colville Nixon, a well-to-do Anglo-Irish gentleman, bought Twin Islands, BC in 1912 or 1913. He and his wife had a farm on Denman Island so this new place was purchased as a haven for himself and his second eldest son James–who was just 23 when he married a 48-year-old widow named Margaret (Street) Butler in Vancouver in 1912. The newlyweds were a sociable couple who made friends with the Mansons of nearby Cortes Island, who preserved most of what’s known about these intriguing people.

Margaret was an Englishwoman who had trained as a […]

The Galleys of Harbledown Island, BC

Settler Women’s Hidden Lives
Charlotte Galley of Victoria & Mary Ann Galley of Harbledown Island
Marriage was a gamble for Victorian women, a decision based upon intuition and promises. And it was for keeps, no matter what a husband’s life choices might bring–including immigration and isolation.  Relatively few women settlers left accounts of their inner lives, but a chronicle of their circumstances speaks volumes.

Charlotte Gower was in her late teens when she married William Galley. He was a mason, a solid profession in mid-19th century Britain, but he wanted more from life, so they set off for Canada. The Galleys had […]

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 […]