Salt Spring Island Archives
Alexander Aitken

Alexander Aitken's Diary
1891 - 1892

Alexander Aitken, a young man from Scotland, worked on the Musgrave ranch as a shepherd between April 14, 1891 and May 25, 1892. Much of what we know about farming and ranching on Salt Spring Island during this time comes from this journal (although dated 1889 on the cover, the entry on page two starts with his arrival on Salt Spring in 1891). In it he speaks about the life and isolation of the ranch at Musgrave Landing, where his closest companions were two Chinese workers, "Young" and "Sam." He describes the constant labour of clearing and plowing the land as well of the tending to the approximately 1,100 sheep. Musgrave Landing, while quite isolated from the rest of Salt Spring settlement was serviced by the steamer, Isabel, on a twice weekly basis; Alexander also speaks about travelling by private launch between Musgrave Landing and Cowichan Bay.

In addition to the insights into farm and ranch work, Aitken’s diary also provides a glimpse into the social interaction between the Edward Musgrave family and workers on the ranch, as well as visitors and passersby such as the First Nations canoeing by the Landing.

The last page includes a note by his niece Nellie Aitkin Georgeson who says, “I never met him but I wish I had as he must have been a fine man.”

Alex Aitken eventually became a farm-owner in the Somenos Lake area and a major figure in local politics. He served as a councillor and Reeve in North Cowichan for six terms and was the vice-president of the BC Wool Growers Association. He died suddenly in 1923 at the age of 54, leaving a wife and son. By that time his parents and siblings had also moved to Vancouver Island. The Alex Aitken Elementary School in North Cowichan is named in his memory.

cover Journal Pages in HTML format
download Journal in pdf (23MB)

Pages

100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109
110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119
120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129
130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139
140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149
150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159
160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179
180 181 182 183

 

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