Gulf Islands Driftwood Thursday April 27th, 1972
Patrons of the Harbour House will be lost in the new wing of the old building. Already nearing completion, the new structure to the east of the main building will house the beer parlour and cocktail lounge on the main floor with accommodation upstairs.
The beer parlour has two walls entirely given over to murals by Alfred Temmel, Fulford artist. The murals are Temmel’s own creation, and they centre on the history of Salt Spring Island, with episodes from past years.
Farther wall is relieved by mouldings decorated by the artist with a plaster sun beaming down on the clientele.
The cocktail lounge has a lighted dome above the bar with further paintings to keep the same trend.
The new wing will open to the public May 13.
Walter Herzog has undertaken the entire project. It is not as odd as it seems, to have a hotelier build his own hotel. Walter Herzog was a successful contractor long before he was a hotelier.
He purchased Harbour House last year. It was the end of its last connection with the Crofton family. Herzog still has his home in New Westminster, where his contracting business is located. He commutes to work on the island.
The beer parlour will replace the building at the rear of the hotel, providing fully modern service in a bright attractive large room. The cocktail lounge is a new venture at Harbour House.
There will be critics who deplore the change from traditional rustic rooms to modern, bright building, but they will be among the minority. Walter Herzog has accomplished what he set out to do. He has designed and built a very striking beverage room for the new Harbour House.
Gulf Islands Driftwood May 11, 1972 pages 10-11
Mural by Alfred Temmel makes a striking picture at the new Condor Inn beverage rooms.
Mr. Henry Wright Bullock Esquire wanted people around him in proper attire for all occasions, be it Tea, Dance, or Dinner or Church service for both Righteous and Sinner. On Salt Spring - however - who had the means - or cared - for anything better than jeans? So - Jolly Squire Bullock the story goes bought all the required appropriate clothes, gave them to people, fitted them out
First major change in decades to the Harbour House Hotel will be opened on Saturday. The change is the construction of a new wing to the building. It houses the beer parlour, new cocktail lounge, and other amenities. There will be a number of rooms in the new wing, and an executive suite is also part of the structure, which will be called the Condor Inn, the old part the Harbour House Hotel.
Harbour House was the home of the Croftons for some 60 years before it was purchased last year by Walter Herzog, of New Westminster. Since the First War years it has been known far beyond the island’s shores as a hotel. Fred Crofton bought the original house, farmed the adjacent property, and extended the house to accommodate his family. Long after his death, the family retained an interest in the home and became part of the company when it was formed into a limited liability company.
Mr. Herzog, a mainland contractor, set plans to reconstruct the building in three phases. The first phase, now completed, will bring the old beer parlour into its new home. There has been no cocktail bar in the past. Second phase, which ha not yet been launched, will reconstruct another third of the building. Final phase will see the disappearance of the old, wood-frame structure in place of the modern design already mapped out in the Condor Inn.
The new structure has been built by Mr. Herzog with the support of local and mainland contractors. Inside and out it is a complete modernization of the picturesque old building. It is a striking building and will soon become as prominent a landmark as the original. Every aspect of the Condor Inn is a credit to the builders.
Recorded by Usha Rautenbach, at his home, 172 Cusheon Lake Road, April 5, 2007.
Q. Please tell me about the murals that you painted at Harbour House.
First, who was it who asked you to do that? And did he pay you well?
Well, I have always been modest in my demands. I was always pleased to get jobs in the field. I have always felt privileged to be paid for what I loved to do.
It was for Mr. Herzog, Walter, who was actually brought up in the Soviet Union. He was a fundamental Christian at home, and had to be a Bolshevik at school. Yes, so, anyway, he became a functionary because he knew German, in East Germany, but he didn’t like the system, and he escaped to the West, and came to Canada, finally, where he became a Capitalistic entrepreneur. And bought the Harbour House hotel. I don’t want to be accused of libel, but I think he burned down the old hotel.
He had one architect with whom he was in co-operation. His was a plumbing business, in Vancouver, so, he knew that architect; but that was more an industrial institutional architecture, and the consequence was a Harbour House that I didn’t like much. So, I tried to overcome the lack of charm of the exposed brick walls. So, in the dining room I made an applied sgraffito technique decoration of a boy leaning, and looking and seeing the old wooden battleship Ganges. So, that I did, but that was just right on the brick wall, the brick wall remained the background of it. You know what sgraffito is? (I said Yes, having worked with what we called “scraperboard”, white card on which one applies black China ink, to then scrape away an etched drawing, creating white lines on a black background. I knew of this as a technique used to decorate walls, by applying a top coat of wet plaster, tinted a different colour to a base layer, and then scratching into the wet plaster lettering, a decorative design, or an illustration, which revealed the colour of the base layer. Since Alfred Temmel describes the brickwork as the background, perhaps he just applied a top layer of plaster directly onto the brick, which was revealed when the plater was scraped away in forming the ‘decoration’.)
And then there was the pub, and the cocktail lounge, which had a vaulted ceiling, albeit two posts, supporting it, but it inspired me to do something that is a quite common theme in the Old Country, to paint it with signs of the zodiac in a cupola. Anyway, my customer in Invermere, I was surprised that he went for my suggestion to have a cupola, so I did it there, you will see it here. (In a collection of photographs of his unfinished work in progress).
Q. So it was the signs of the zodiac all round the outside, but what was it over the top?
Oh, just stars.
Q. But everybody tells me all about the ‘just stars’, Alfred!
It was quite superfluous to make a proper map of the stars, because for decoration I could have just put - This is similar to what I did at Harbour House (showing the photographs - “I am not a good photographer.” - “But this gives such an amazing idea of the quality, Alfred.” - “All those these are not quite finished yet, the finishing touches are missing. I did it during the course of my work.” - “Ah, this is just staggeringly lovely.”
(The cupola at Invermere was more circular, the Harbour House ceiling being rectangular.)
Then there were the panels, and the flat mural on the drywall partition between the pub and the lounge. That was a solid plain wall. The mural on the plain wall was inspired by the book by Bea Hamilton, and I illustrated some (fanciful) episodes from it. On the left side there was the first teacher on Salt Spring Island, a Negro of those Negro pioneers, and I represented him with a blackboard with the Pythagorean triangle (with the theorem for the right-angled triangle with the square on the hypotenuse equaling the sum of the squares on the other two sides) and the little kids sitting there, watching.
Q. And in the background, the little log cabin.
Did you intend that to be a representation of the schoolhouse?
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t recall.
Q. Well, I like to say that that’s what you were doing! And that the schoolhouse was too small, for them to stay in when the day was good enough to teach outside.
I have a problem with doing real flat perspectiveless representations. I am always tempted, you know, by things that are supposed in the back, smaller -
Q. And you have this tree that was even closer (in the foreground), because John Craven Jones and his pupils are in the middle distance, and the tree is up close with one student there, with all of the things that they used, like the slate, It’s a wonderful representation of the first school.
The first teacher on the island set a precedent in the good neighbor policy by teaching all the children for ten years for nothing. He was a colored man, John C. Jones, a graduate of the University of Ohio (sic Oberlin College, Ohio) and held a first class teaching certificate. There were eighteen children between the ages of five to sixteen years and they would have been without schooling but for John C. Jones. This went on for five years, with the pupils walking in groups through the woods as protection against the wolves and cougars that prowled over the entire island. There were times when Mr. Jones even had to dodge the odd pot-shot from some Indian sniper. The school room was any abandoned shed or a corner of some barn. When he wasn't teaching, this dedicated man was attending to his often neglected farm.
In 1864 the Government had set aside a hundred acres of land at Central for a school and other public purposes and had given some aid whereby the settlers had been able to build a school. Mr. Jones now divided his time by teaching on alternate days in the Central school and an abandoned log cabin at Begg’s Settlement.
In that same year the Ganges settlement appealed to Governor Kennedy through another Negro, Frederic D. Lester, an educated man, to have the teacher’s salary paid by the Government. The Governor was in favor of this but things moved slowly until another five years had passed with John C. Jones continuing to receive nothing but the love and gratitude of the people as he faithfully taught his little pupils.
A few years later the first School Board was formed with John P. Booth, Abraham Copeland and Thomas Griffiths on the Board.
Through the efforts of these men the Government at last granted a salary of $500 a year to the teacher. Unfortunately it was not retroactive and John Jones had been teaching for ten years on a private basis. There may have been a little money now and then but, on the whole, he worked for no pay. The $500 seemed like a fortune when it finally came!
I don’t recall which was the next one, but I think it was about that American vainglorious hunter who claimed to recognise the different species of animals from the reflection of the light in their eyes (pit-lamping at night) - but anyway, he shot his own horse.
I just made the two eyes (Alfred Temmel here made the gesture of aiming a gun at the eyes). Conway was his name. (After searching his memory for the name). I made little rhymes, verses. I submitted them to my children, because they were pretty critical if anything was not - Texas Conway, light, in the night, something like that.
The Islanders lived at times dangerously and one of the biggest hazards was the habit of pit-lamping. It was as much as a person’s life was worth to walk through the woods after dark when one of the farmers decided he needed venison. A bicycle-lamp attached to his hat-band, a gun in his hand, he would slip out at night into the orchard or field and wait for the deer to be attracted by the shining light. Ever curious, the deer would approach slowly until the pit-lamper could see the shining eyes. Then he would fire between the blazing orbs.
Trouble arose at times because all eyes shine in the dark with the exception of human eyes, we understand. Cattle, horses and deer — they all wandered around the fields and orchards, and unless the hunter knew the difference in the shine of the orbs, he was due for a shock. If he accidentally shot his neighbor’s cow, he was in for an all out row. That particular bovine rose in value overnight; it was either the most valuable bossy in the herd or someone’s special pet. Either way, the pit-lamper paid. Sometimes he went to court. However, if the farmer went out one night and saw a fine looking pair of shining orbs and he slammed a shot home and it turned out to be his own milk cow, why that was accidental and what the hell? It was time to beef the critter anyway.
These incidents continued to occur until there arrived a man named Conway who knew everything, seeing that he was from Texas. Conway was sure he could tell the difference between the various animals. It was easy, he'd show them. He went out pit-lamping and by jimminy, there were two deer staring at him. He recognized the shine of the eyes! He blazed out right and left, and felled the pair. The only trouble was that they were his own special team of horses - with emphasis on the past tense.
I recall to have made one panel with loggers, on springboards. No chainsaws yet.
Then the Akerman Grandma, she was not a grandma at the time, using a broom to chase away a cougar that was threatening her baby (in the cradle).
Q. And did you also do a little rhyme for that?
Oh, yes, for everything! (laughter)
When (Mrs. Akerman’s) first child was born, she put him out one day in his carriage to sleep in the fresh air as usual while she did her housework.
With one eye on baby Joe as she worked, she suddenly saw a movement. Crying out, Martha seized her broom and dashed out to drive away a large cougar sniffing hungrily around the baby carriage. As she ran at him the wild cat crouched, his long tail switching angrily, but the screaming mother, frantically waving her broom, was too much for him. If this was civilization the cougar wanted none of it. He turned and sprang into the bushes while Martha rushed her first-born son indoors. The baby was the well-known Joseph Akerman, Jr., the first white child to see the light of day at the South End.
And then there was one that was about Squire Bullock, who wanted to bring up his surroundings to British standards, and for his social occasions, gatherings and so forth, he outfitted the people with formal dress, and among other things the top hats, but the farmers were more practical, they used the top hats to put the chicken feed in, and sprayed it (gesturing) and I depicted that. (With a rhyme to go with it!)
Mr. Bullock ... developed a real thing about clothing and deportment, for men, women and children. So he set to work to instruct the young and elderly in the art of being well dressed! Living in the country was no excuse for sloppiness. (Heavens! if he could see the average Islander today, his fastidious soul would know no rest.)
First, Mr. Bullock started on the men, and here he insisted on bow tie and gloves, et al, for formal occasions — and there were few times that were not considered formal by him. The good man even went so far as to supply the evening clothes for the men — otherwise they would have let him down as few could afford the price.
He did have trouble with his estate manager, Keith Wilson, however. Keith accepted the dress suit but balked at wearing the top hat. The only time he was seen with it was when he was feeding the chickens - he filled it with grain and solemnly threw handfuls of feed out to the hens who couldn't have cared less for the honor.
Mr. Bullock, strolling around his estate one afternoon, caught Keith red-handed, the hat under his arm and the chickens clucking around his feet. To his credit, the old gentleman went home and had a good chuckle over it.
Q. Did you depict Henry Bullock himself?
Yes, yes. With his page, in the uniform with the buttons. That’s what I seem to recall.
Q. Louise (Woodward) told me that she thought there was one of people arriving for the Ball, and actually at a Ball.
That may have been. I always worked at the spur of a moment, I did not sketch much, I just went at the wall with charcoal and chalk.
While Mr. Bullock set his heart and mind — and generous pocket book — on creating an old world atmosphere that could only have been matched in a Jane Austen era, he opened his mansion to tea parties, dinners, picnics (depending on the season) and grand balls in a constant round of gay times. The Bullock Estate was built on a grand scale. The entrance was between tall laurel hedges, the avenue curved gently until one arrived at the front door of the mansion that arose in two-storey splendor. Shrubs bordered the lawns and a tennis court lay in the back garden. The fruit and nut trees, mixed with ornamental trees and bushes, swept towards the lake and the whole scene was much like an old English estate and Squire Bullock fitted into all this glory to perfection.
People arriving for a Grand Ball had the appearance of high society. Even arriving in wagons took nothing from the scene (for not every rancher had a democrat or even a buggy). The vehicle, with a wagon load of guests pulled by a pair of snorting horses, would sweep briskly around to the front door where a stable boy took charge of the horses. The host met the guests at the door and either a hot or cold drink would be offered — depending on seasons again. The ladies would be shown up the long winding staircase where a bulging heater exuded warmth on a cold day.
... But those balls were something to remember. After leaving their wraps and tidying their long locks of hair, the ladies would sweep gracefully down the stairway to be escorted to the ballroom. Here they were given little tasselled programmes with a tiny pencil attached. Armed with these, they waited in the wallflower line for the gentlemen to come forward and claim whatever dance was available -- waltz, polka, quadrille or minuet and the evening was off to a delightful whirl of music and chatter, and of flirting under the watchful eyes of the Mamas who, no doubt, watched as their daughters were swept into the gay whirl or were left to sit out a dance. Mr. Bullock was a good dancer and when he wasn't whirling a lady around he sat at the end of the ballroom and tapped his feet while his eyes feasted on the lovely dresses of the be-laced, be-frilled, be-flowered ladies who twirled past him like models at a fashion show.
Q. What about the Indians?
Yes. There was a kind of scenery of the head of Ganges Harbour, and the Indians who came seasonally to collect their fish and whatnot, and they came with their painted canoes. (Louise Woodward thought she remembered them depicted drawn up on the beach)
I did NOT do any scientific work -
Q. It wasn’t historically accurate, necessarily.
No, no, no!
Bea Hamilton (newspaper article)
“One of the liveliest places on Salt Spring Island in 1860 was the site where Harbour House Hotel stands today.
On the beach below the hotel, a band of several dozen Cowichan Indians acted ut a familiar scene - they were busy digging clams and preparing them for the winter, trading with the interior Indians, or for immediate use.”
There was one panel too, of the Negroes, who were fleeing their unsafe Civil War area, and settled on Salt Spring. I did not know their family names, then some of their descendants said, “Well, you could have had photographs of them.” But I just painted Negroes!
Q. And in what kind of scene did you put them?
Landing in Vesuvius, going ashore.
Q. Oh really! OK, and what kind of details can you remember of that?
Oh, just a man showing the way, and children coming up.
Q. This is such a wonderful idea that you had! I love it. Just following Bea Hamilton’s book. You don’t have her book here too, do you?
I am afraid I will have to hire an archeologist to find it.
Q. (Laughing) Which is a description of my house - this is what I will have to say the next time anybody asks me that question! I have a copy at home, I shall look myself to see if there are any other details.
The beauty of the Gulf Islands has impressed travelers from the first discovery to the present day; to the Negro people the whole trip was like a dream and by the time they had landed on the shore with their belongings dumped at their feet, they were all but speechless, overcome with awe and wonder.
Reverently they touched the land they were soon to call their own. Tall trees towered overhead; green bushes crowded to the water’s edge. It was an overpowering setting for their future efforts.
The new people turned to look at the restless sea stretching for miles across to Vancouver Island; they saw salmon rising lazily to surface while hundreds of marine birds swam and fed in groups, all promising provisions for the supper table.
They knew then that the long trail had at last ended. Wordlessly they watched the ship weigh anchor and sail away around the point. They realized this could be their last contact with the outside world for days, if not for months.
It was a solemn moment when they turned to the new responsibilities. Shouldering their packs they entered the woods, to be immediately swallowed by the pine-scented wilderness that was to be their home for many a year.
The first night on Salt Spring Island cannot be pushed aside as a mere happening: this was the beginning of the civilization of the island and the dark-skinned colony gathered around a fire to cook a communal supper and plan their movements for the next few days. It was a night to remember.
The evening closed in with a myriad of strange sounds — little scuttling feet, grunts and snorts, and the clicking of insects. Eyes shone in the dark and, high overhead birds sat in the trees and threw questions into the night — "Whoo? Whoo?" Ah, who indeed! These people were many a generation away from the African jungle, yet an atavistic instinct surely stirred within them as the night sounds of a Pacific coast jungle, differing only in degree from the night symphony of Nature in the equatorial African jungle, drew the tribal party together defensively.
Stars had never seemed so bright or so lively. This was the month of shooting stars, August, 1857. Above all the sounds came the fearsome howl of the wolf in the hills as he hunted and the eerie scream of the wild cougar as it prowled near the camp.
Sleep was far from the colored folks' eyes and they hastened to pile more wood on the fire, glancing nervously over their shoulders at the darkness around them. But there was one among them, Hiram Whims, about twenty-three years old, who, with all the confidence and defiance of youth, lifted his face to the sky and said: "We are a free people! This is our island!" and he broke into one of their beloved melodies out of sheer joy in his new found sense of liberty and independence.
That was all that was needed to break the spell the strangeness of the night had cast upon them. The others joined in and gave back to the wild life as good as they received and better, with the deep feeling and pathos of their songs that told of the tribulations of days of slavery, their voices throbbing into the night. Then, changing into ecstasy, they sang of the ultimate joy of freedom in this new land and of their hopes for happiness and reunion with loved ones. And with the singing, their spirits rose to dominate the unfamiliar and to make this their land.
Q. Now, what happened to your murals at Harbour House?
First of all the widow of Herzog tried to keep on. She had a Dutch manager hired on, he made a mess of it, so she tried to sell it, and she sold it to one of those newly rich prairie millionaires, so to say, who had enough money to pay for it, but not enough to care for it, yeah? And those went “Oh, well, we don’t want that. You have enough of sea life and seascape; we want a prairie atmosphere.” Yeah? (laughter) And my phone rang off the hook, and people said “What are they doing to your murals?” And they put some glue on, and put some imitation wallpaper wood panelling on that. Later on it changed hands again, and they wanted me to restore it. I said, well that’s impossible. It would have to be a fresh surface and I would have to start from scratch.
Q. Do you remember who it was who wanted you to restore it? Was it Salt Spring Islanders, or -
I think at that time Valcourt was involved, he was among a consortium of new owners, I think it was him, what was his name, Yvette Valcourt and Phil, it was not the normal Phil that stands for Philip, but for Philemon, or whatever, yeah.
Q. So your murals might actually be underneath whatever has been put on top?
But it’s hopeless. Modern restorers would possibly manage to do such a thing, but it’s not the Sistine Chapel. Some (parts of it) are supposed to be down at the Fulford Hall, and somebody asked me to help repair one damaged panel that he recovered, he lives on Isabella Point Road, and frankly I forgot his name and address, he did not come back, he was not insistent.
Q. What about other murals you have done?
I was used to be hired as a decorator, like Governor’s Grill in Victoria, and so forth, and then they changed the decor. First they wanted me to make a Parisian scenes, so it was Montmartre and things like that, and then, “Oh no, we’ll make it English,” so made English country villages with a fountain, and according to his wishes a Bobby on a bicycle stopping a Rolls Royce, yes, for traffic effect.
Q. In Harbour House did you have the first Model T Ford?
Oh, it could be that Bullock was seated in something like that.
(Q. But I think Louise Woodward may have remembered something like that)
Q. I’d like to ask you about the other murals that I remember you have painted.
There’s just one remaining, the wall opposite the Anglican Church, with the map, I made the boy, so to say, a student of the first teacher, I made it a Negro boy.
He got no salary, but he got chickens.
The ceiling at the Lucky Dollar store was two years before the wall opposite the Anglican Church. I painted the same thing, the map. Maybe it was simpler.
Q. What I remember is that right in the centre, you painted the Blackburn House, that is now the Salt Spring Centre. (It was much like his ‘whimsical map’ in Bea Hamilton’s book.)
That was the Lutons, that started the golf course.
Jack Woodward’s mother, Louise, a painter herself, remembers the murals in the Green Room at Harbour House. They were floor-to ceiling murals depicting the history of Salt Spring. The bar was opposite the wall with the fireplace in 2007, and the murals extended along the full length of the wall where the fireplace and window are today, and along a wall at right angles to that, where the bar now is.
Starting at the back, and all along that wall, Louise remembers
1. Indians, with their canoes pulled up on the beach
2. Two settlers with guns? maybe swords? (not a clear memory)
3. The first black teacher, teaching his students outside.
4. Settler life, with log cabins, apple trees, working in the fields, in suits, a bit ragged.
Then along the wall where the bar is now:
5. Mr. Bullock outside his house, with a verandah. Sunlit people in gowns to the ground
1972 Driftwood photo:
Mr. Henry Wright Bullock Esquire
wanted people around him in proper attire
for all occasions, be it Tea, Dance, or Dinner
or Church service for both Righteous and Sinner.
On Salt Spring - however - who had the means
- or cared - for anything better than jeans?
So - Jolly Squire Bullock the story goes
bought all the required appropriate clothes,
gave them to people, fitted them out
Desmond Crofton, interviewed 1972 by Lillian Horsdal, described what his mother must have told her children:
“Mr. Bullock used to throw these great parties, dances, and everybody would have to dress up in formal evening clothes; the men in their white tie and tails. And how would they get to these large do’s? Well, the Wilson family being rather a large family, you couldn’t get ten of them into a couple of buggies, so they’d get the old wagon, the big wagon, with the two horses, and they’d have the boards and cushions, and they’d put straw or hay in the bottom, and they’d arrive at the party, and the girls would be lifted out of the wagon, and go to the party, and then afterwards drive home in the old wagon.”
When they were ruined, Louise “went home and wept”.
Louise died April 22, 2012, without seeing the rescued panels.
Gulf Islands Driftwood obituary of B. Louise Woodward
In April 2007, Alfred Temmel told me every little detail of what was described in a July 1967 article in the Driftwood, forty years earlier, which he must have heard from Bob Akerman, or read in the Driftwood. What a memory for detail he had! And he painted it for all islanders to remember, when it was hung on the walls of the Harbour House.:
from the DRIFTWOOD, July 13, 1967
When the Gulf Islands Driftwood sounded a call for historic pictures recently a number of readers responded.
LOGGING AS IT WAS HERE is logging as it was once carried out.
Old picture from the collection of Robert Akerman at Fulford shows Jim Horel and Joe Nightingale felling a tree on Salt Spring Island.
Jim Horel was the uncle of Charles Horel, of Cusheon Lake, and Joe Nightingale, a cousin of the famous nurse, Florence, is the grandfather of Mac and Laurie Mouat.
The tree stood on the H. W. Bullock property on Walker Hook Road.
The two loggers are standing on spring boards which they have cut into the tree with their axes. Each has his axe driven into the tree above his head.
At the front of the tree may be seen the oil bottle. The bottle has a sharp hook in the cork and will cling to the bark with only a slight thrust. Each man uses the bottle to combat the drag of the pitch. Without changing the rhythm of the saw, either logger takes the bottle and sprinkles the oil on the metal. As the saw penetrates the tree the operators move their springboards around to maintain their position relative to the saw. All this is done with the saw constantly moving.
The traditional logging methods gave way to the chain saw about the time of the Second World War and manual felling has little place in the woods today beyond its entertainment value.
The tree in the picture is about 180 feet high and the loggers could drop it to drive a stake into the ground 100 feet away.
Alfred Temmel mural in the home of Rita Dodds. Formerly in “Rita’s Inn”
Photos by Susan Good