112 Ted Brown and Jessie Wagg
Transcription by Usha Rautenbach, of SSIA tape 112
51 minutes 47 seconds
Jessie Wagg, Ted Brown, Manson Toynbee, with Ivan Mouat facilitating, and Sue Mouat introducing, a Historical Society presentation at Central Hall.
Transcription - in parts only partially transcribed
(Some repetitions, incidental chatter, and confusion amongst audience members omitted - leaving what Jessie and Ted and Manson were remembering.)
Names of people and places I do not know may be inaccurately spelled.
I may have assigned some remarks to the wrong people - my apologies...
The subject matter varies from highly entertaining to being bogged in detail which is very useful to the researcher. Quality of the recording is very good throughout.
This is from Rev. Wilson’s ‘Our Life on SSI’
1902 Feb. 6
Spent the day at Cranberry Marsh, a wild district in the centre of the island, which is now being gradually settled up. On the way I called on Hoggs (sp? Haws?), and had dinner with Miss Pedder at the Divide, then on plodding through snow and slush, to call on Waite (sp?), W. Dukes, H. Rogers and George Gardner.
1903 June 8
Out to Cranberry Marsh, taking my grandchildren Mary and Auntie(?) Baker, and Maude and Douglas Scott. Called on Domaine, Allen, and Gardner. Had afternoon tea at the Bakers, and got home at 6.00.
1903 Oct. 14
Out to Cranberry Marsh by the new road. Found snow 12 inches deep. Stopped by a fallen tree and had to leave Billy and plod. Had the Home School at Mr. H Rogers.
I have Home Sunday School classes at different houses all over the island. Fulford 11 miles off, St. Marks, the Divide School, Cranberry Marsh at the centre of the island, North End School and Beaver Point.
A man named Kelly living in a shack at Maxwell Lake, brother of Mrs. Domaine, got lost in the bush; supposed to have been killed and robbed. A search was made for several days, but he was never found.
1907 Feb. 16
The Blackburns have just bought Conery’s farm for $13 000. Naughty Biddy ran away while I was shutting Allen’s gate in the Cranberry Marsh. Charlie Gardner stopped her two miles off.
We hold services now at St. Marks, St. Mary’s, the Divide, Ganges, Cranberry Marsh North End, and at Beaver Point.
J. Smith of Cranberry Marsh shot himself accidentally and died. Keith put up a subscription for the widow.
1908 July 4th
Drove out to Cranberry Marsh to take $135, collected mostly by Keith, for Mrs. J.Smith, whose husband accidentally shot himself.
1908 Dec. 10
Arranged with Charles Gardner to rent his shack for $10 per year for a church in the Cranberry Marsh. A bee was held to fix it up.
Church bee at Cranberry Marsh to fix up the temporary church.
Quite shortly after that he left, so that’s all he had to say about the Cranberry Marsh.
Ivan Mouat: Ted, I wonder if we can start with you, then.
Could you tell us when your family came to Cranberry Marsh?
Ted: Well the family came in 1910, my father came in 1906. He came back for us in 1910. (Ivan: He came by himself in 1906? Ted: Yes.) He apparently left about July (from) England, and came out across Canada, to Victoria, and he met a friend there from the village, and he says do you know your sister and brother-in-law are up on Salt Spring Island. So he came up to visit them, decided to stay, and found out the property next door to them. Their name was Westerman, Jonathan Westerman, and he stayed with them for a while, while he settled with Dukes for the piece of property I now have, or have had.
Ivan: And where did Westerman live?
Ted: They lived where Jack Webster is now.
Ivan: Sort of closer to the Divide.
Ivan: What are your early memories of the road up to the Cranberry, what route did it (take)? Has it been changed any, since you first remember it?
Ted: There’ve been several changes made, in places.
• For instance, from the top of Duke’s Hill, that’s just about what is now the Blackburn Road, they made a change there from the old road. It was farther down in the property, farther south.
Ivan: Well, did it go, used to go down to where, Jameski’s place, where Jack Webster lives now, it used to go down there, and then swing back up the Cranberry, did it? Ted: Yes.
It originally went down at the Old Divide, and came up around that way to the Cranberry, then they put a straight cut through, but I don’t know when that was.
• And they made a change, (when) Joe Nightingale was the road foreman, he made the change about 1911, just below from where that shell pit is.
Ivan: Just below your place. Ted: Yes.
• Then when the tie mills were here, they cut a short cut through a little farther down, avoided a sharp corner that the trucks didn’t like going around, but otherwise, there wasn’t much change there.
• There was a change made about 1912 when the Cranberry School was built. The Nobbs Road, it’s now known as Mount Maxwell Road, the Nobbs Road ran straight north and south, from Charlie Nobbs to Fred Nobbs.
Ivan: But part of it is still known as Nobbs Road, the part that goes to the right instead of turning to the left.
Ted: Yes, when you go up to the crossroads, the right hand side is part Nobbs Road, and it’s now known as Toynbee Road. But there was some changes in there. There used to be a road to Fred Nobbs, and from just before his place, up to Charles Toynbee and Harold Rogers, but that’s been abandoned, many years ago.
Ivan(?): I should tell you that we’ve had three descendants of Cranberry families, because the Toynbees were established in something called Liberty Hall, with five brothers weren’t there? Ted: Yes. Ivan: One of which was Manson’s father.
Margaret Cunningham née Purdy: I would just like to say something about Mr. Westerman, because I remember there was a Mr. Westerman who lived in a house, had a little property on the right hand side of the road when you’re driving from this way back towards where my sister Mary lives, you know? almost just across the road (briefly inaudible) down over a bridge and then you were at the place where I was born at, so I remember this Mr. Westerman who was a bachelor, who lived in this little house. (Some confusion about where she means)
Ivan: Did Westerman have a single brother?
Ted: Not that I know of. I think he had a sister who lived somewhere. He was a bit peculiar in that way, if you wanted to know something and he didn’t want you to know it, he wouldn’t tell you!
Ivan: There’s still some people around like that, Ted! - laughter.
Ted, who were the earliest settlers in the Cranberry and what motivated them to go there? It seemed to be one of the more difficult places to reach, because of its distance from the water.
Who were these first people who settled in the Cranberry?
Ted Brown: That I can’t tell you. I think Jim Anderson was the first one to go there. He built a cabin there, at Maxwell Lake, used to be the Domaine property.
Manson: Is that the same Jim Anderson who later lived at Isabella Point?
Ivan: The black Jim Anderson.
Ted: Yes. And, I don’t know, but - chuckle - Harry Wood told me that John Rogers and Domaine jumped the property, he says they swore to false “alvadavits” to get it. - laughter.
Ivan: Well, Domaines lived in an old log house there. So that was built by Jim Anderson.
Ted: Yes, but his main house, I think he built, but I’m not sure, that was before I came, you see. The Masons lived south, they were there before we came. Mason was a stone mason apparently, and he had property in Victoria, I understood he built a whole block of houses there. Robert Mason was his name.
Ivan: What about the Carters? When did they come?
Ted: They must’ve moved up (to the Cranberry) about 1909, I think they were there before we came. They used to live down at Cusheon Lake, at Shady Acres. I think Carter worked in Bulman’s Mill. Stephen Carter was his uncle, he worked in Bulman’s Mill. Carter moved from Victoria to Cusheon Lake. He worked there for I don’t know how many years, and then he took up the Phillips place in the Cranberry Marsh, or near Mount Maxwell.
Ivan: His was the farm closest to the peak, to Maxwell, wasn’t it.
Ted: Yes, Abe Wright and Arthur Bartlett took the next two properties south, and that road is partly abandoned. Mrs. Duckworth, Mrs. Smith it was then, lived south of Carter. There’d be four properties in that section, I think it’s (section) 85.
(Usha Note: Section 85 is well in the Divide School District, Salt Spring Centre land, and the TM development to its west) Carter had the northern part, then Duckworth/Smith, then Abe Wright and Bartlett. Abe Wright sold his piece there, I don’t know who it was to, and he moved over east onto the present Wright Road. He and Fred Walter had property there.
Ivan: He’d be a neighbour of Allen, then, wouldn’t he, the section the lake would be on.
Ted: No, Charlie Nobbs was in between, and then came Wright, I think Wright’s was part of the Seymour place.
Ivan: We’re getting close to the Divide, when we’re talking about the Seymour place.
Ted: Well, it extended down into the Divide district.
(See maps, particularly of the boundaries between the Divide and Cranberry School Districts. Settlers may well follow the lay of the land rather than surveyor’s square sectioning of rough and hilly terrain, in their distinctions between one ‘
district’ and another.)
Manson: When did logging get under way in the Cranberry, Ted?
Ted: Well, I think there was a certain amount going on when I was a boy, but I didn’t know much about it. Then 1925 I think it was, when the Singer Mills started to come in. (Ivan interrupts to tell Ted he thinks Ted might find the Singer Mills were earlier than that) I don’t think they were earlier in the Cranberry, but they were on the island, no doubt. Jim Horel’s brother had a mill, down on Cusheon Lake somewhere, that was the first one, in 1925. The Binks (?) logging company was logging down on the Cranberry outlet, on the, I suppose it was Crofton property, at that time, they bought that timber. They were logging there in 1925. (Mt. Erskine slope down into Booth Bay)
Ivan (? maybe Manson?): It was logged again in the 1950’s too, 1948-50.
Ted: It might be somebody else. There’s been quite few moved around. H. O. Allen sold his timber to a Swede bunch, in late ‘25. We boarded some of the Swedes until they’d got enough timber cut to build a bunkhouse of their own. That’d be the winter of ‘25-’26.
Manson (?): As a young boy, Ted, I remember big piles of railway ties in Ganges always, out in front of Mouat’s store. Would they have come from the Cranberry?
Ted: I expect so, unless they were Horel’s , I don’t remember where Horel’s hauled theirs to. Later on I know they did ship ties down there.
Ivan: That’d be Howard Horel and Winnie. Ted: Yes.
Ivan: Jessie, your family settled across the road from the Allens, didn’t they.
Jessie Wagg: Yes.
(Some parts of the conversation I have transcribed into the essence of the Truth they establish, omitting all the confusion before the facts are ironed out, facilitated with grace and humour by Ivan, amidst laughter)
(Jessie - daughter of Harry Nobbs, settled across the road from the Allens, “and I went to the Cranberry School, until it closed, and then I went to the Divide, 1921, ‘22, something like that?” (confusion remains on the tape, because these historians have yet to discover that the Cranberry and the Divide Schools opened and closed and opened again for years, the school age children in the two schoolhouses coming together and parting again, only to be reunited. Which schoolhouse they were taught in depended entirely on the fluctuating population of the area.)
Margaret Cunningham née Purdy: There were six people who had been at the Cranberry school, came down from the Cranberry to the Divide school.
Ivan: Was your sister teaching there then?\
Ivan: Was Mary teaching there then?
Margaret: Oh no, we were only schoolgirls at that time.
Ivan: Ah, yes, ‘26, yes. Sorry - laughter.
Audience: For those of us not familiar with area, how far up was this Cranberry school, up the mountain?
Ivan: Well, actually I know we should’ve had a map, I guess, but...
Jessie: About three miles, three and a half miles. We lived about 3 miles from Ganges, and the school I’d say would be about half a mile, three quarter mile further up from us.
Ivan (transcription summary of what Ivan establishes, defining for confused audience members exactly where the school was, Jessie agreeing “Yes, yes,” throughout.)
There’s Ted’s place, then Robert’s Lake, we used to call it Allen’s Lake. There’s a road that goes straight on up from Robert’s Lake, and you turn to your left, the road to the right is Nobbs Road, and the road to the (left) is Maxwell’s Road, and when it goes up to the top and starts to turn again, when you get to where Dr Woolridge lives, to the left there, just in that area, that’s where the Cranberry School was located.
Jessie: Yes, good.
Audience: So it really was quite far up there then.
Margaret: When there were only about five or six people left in the Cranberry to go to school, they closed the Cranberry School, and they could all walk down to the Divide School.
Jessie: Yes, and then I’m sure the Cranberry School opened up again when all the mills came up, just for a short while. There was a lot of people up there.
Audience: About one room, was it?
Ivan and Jessie: Yes.
Audience: How many grades?
Ivan & Jessie: One-to-Eight.
Jessie: Maybe not many in a grade!
Frustrated Audience Person: When you’re describing these things, unless a person knows them as well as you do, we still don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.
Ivan: I’m sorry, I realise that.
Frustrated Audience Person: Now, when you drive up to the Cranberry, is the Cranberry the area where the big farm is there, that used to supply Foxglove?
Mason: What do you mean?
Frustrated Audience Person: Am I too far down?
Ivan: No, no. Tom Gossett’s place you mean?
Frustrated Audience Person: Is that the Cranberry?
Ivan & Jessie: Oh yes, you’re well into the Cranberry then.
Frustrated Audience Person: Oh. General confusion. The Frustrated Audience Person talks about a big grey house on the right hand side, and Jessie asks “The Bennetts?” How can I help but clutch my ribcage laughing? Islanders identify location by who lives there, strangers to the area have to go on visual clues - but the islanders don’t look to see what colour a person’s house is, no need!.
Manson: The Nobbs house - do you know where Roberts Lake is?
Frustrated Audience Person: No, I can’t place this lake.
Manson: Do you know where Ted Brown’s house is?
Frustrated Audience Person: No - general laughter.
(Useful, because by now she has got them to define for newcomers and those who come after, exactly where they are talking about.)
Ivan: I’m sorry, we’re talking about an area that’s on the way to Maxwell’s Peak, and as you get on well up there, there’s a lake you pass, and there are two roads, one goes straight on up, and then it makes a turn to the left, and another straight stretch ... I mean you’re climbing up, but you go straight up and then you go straight along, and that’s the area we’re talking about, on the way to Maxwell’s Lake, and the peak.
Frustrated Audience Person: So it’s right on up the mountain then.
Ivan: Before you start. From the time you pass the Divide - do you know where Jack Webster lives? ...
Frustrated Audience Person: No.
Ivan: Well, from there on up is the Cranberry. Shortly after that you get to Ted’s place, on the left hand side, and then there’s the lake on the left hand side, and across from the the lake -
Jessie: - is my place, or my dad’s place.
Manson: And if you went straight on, on that straight road, don’t turn up towards the park, you would land in Cranberry Marsh.
Audience: Oooh! So it really was a marsh!
Manson: Oh it was a marsh, yes, still is a marsh, though scantily, because it was drained.
Less Frustrated Audience Person: Were the Domaines in the marsh?
Ivan & Manson: No, no.
Manson: Further on.
Ivan: They were beside the lake.
(Oops, Ivan has not specified Maxwell Lake, as distinguished from Roberts or Allen’s lake!)
Manson: In that low valley, the valley the outlet goes down, to Mount Erskine.
Ivan: Well, Jessie.
Your father wasn’t the only Nobbs that lived up there, there were others.
Jessie: No, there were two brothers, and he also had a sister, that lived up near Mr. Domaine in that area. (So, four Nobbs families)
Ivan: Who was she?
Jessie: Bowers, do you remember the Bowers, Ted?
Ivan: The Bowers, Ted. Do you remember Bowers?
Ted: Yes. They came next to Carter, (Jessie: Yes, that’s right) Carter was on the south of them, they butted down to Charlie Nobbs. Mrs. Bowers was Charlie Nobbs’ sister (Jessie: yes, yes - and my father’s sister.) They were across on the east side of the road across from Domaine’s, Domaine was on the west side of the road.
Ivan: - and Bowers on the east.
Jessie: When the First War came along, a lot of them left.
Ivan: Well you see, already, looking at this, we have about eight or ten families who lived there, or probably more.
Wright - but of course Abe Wright wasn’t married was he, no, he lived by himself.
Three Nobbs families
Gardners - we haven’t mentioned the Gardners. Do you know when they came?
Ted: I’m not sure. Somebody asked Charlie when he came and he says “I can’t tell you, I lost my records in the fire.” But I think he was here around 1902. I understood from conversation I heard, that he had a mail delivery around Fulford about that time. That was when George Howard was at first on the island.
Ivan: Also the Woods family lived up there.
Ted: Bob Woods lived up in the Cranberry during the tie mill days, in the ‘20’s: ‘25, ‘26, ‘27, when he was working in one of the tie mills. - pause - I don’t know which one it would be now - pause - Hildy Brune and Art Shedore I think were running it at that time. (sp? for both names).
Jessie: That’s right.
Ivan: There’s a story told that Mrs. Borrodaile, (who was) Flossie Wilson, or Florence Wilson, Reverend Wilson’s daughter, was living in the Cranberry during the 1916 snow - do you remember where they lived? (Jessie, laughing. “I was only just born!”)
Ted: No, I don’t remember them being up there. They may have been temporarily at somebody’s place, but I have no recollection of them being up there. They were at Seabreeze, when I first knew them, and before that they lived somewhere on Long Harbour, on Scott Road.
Ivan: And they also lived at Best’s place.
Ivan: Do you remember the Big Snow of 1916?
Ted: Yes. - pause - It came down all in one piece. - laughter - It snowed until we had six feet of it.
Ivan: And what month was it? (Ivan is sure it was March.)
Ted: Now that I couldn’t tell you.
Jessie: That’s the year I was born, in 1915, and the snow came in 1916. And my mother was saying she never hardly went out of the house. I think it was around January.
Ted: I know it was very cold.
Jessie: (in answer to an inaudible question: “your own animals?”) Oh yeah, we had a farm, we had everything.
Audience: So, Manson, you were asking what attracted people to live there, it was sort of remote, wasn’t it.
Ivan: Well, there was reasonable farm land, wasn’t there. (Ted: Yes)(To Jessie) What did you have on your farm?
Ivan: You had cows, pigs, chickens, and you had a couple of horses, to do the work.
Ted: It’s still being farmed.
Jessie: We had everything, mixed farming, strawberries, fruits, and everything.
Ivan: That was the general (way of farming) - and the fruit trees, an orchard, and small fruits.
Audience: How many acres Jessie? 160?
Jessie: It’d be all of that, maybe more. I can’t just remember now. We used to take strawberries to the jam factory. We had a jam factory here one time.
Audience: Well 160 is a quarter section.
Jessie: Maybe that’s what it was. That’d be quite a bit, wouldn’t it. Probably that’s what it was.
Manson Toynbee: I might say that my family had a couple of connections with the Nobbs family; one (was that) my mother, Jessie Toynbee, who is now 96, boarded with the Nobbs family when Jessie was born. So there was that connection. She was at that time ... a teacher in the Cranberry School, in 1916. She remembers the Big Snow vividly.
The other connection is rather a different kind of connection; it was one of my uncles. As Ivan mentioned I had four uncles, and my father, who came to the island. My father spent time on the island, but he became a city boy and spent most of his time in Vancouver, where he for a time drove one of the earliest police cars; he wasn’t a policeman but in those days they had drivers for the police cars, the early cars, this would be back before cars were very common. But he used to come over for holidays now and then, and spend them with his brothers, these four brothers who lived in this Liberty Hall, as it was called, a large old log house which was still standing until about 1945-46, built beyond the end of what is now called Toynbee Road.
It must have been a rather difficult house to live in, it was built right on the edge of a ravine where the water goes down to the Cranberry outlet. Three of the brothers were bachelors, two of them were twins and the other brother was married and at that time he and his wife had two small children, and my aunt lived in fear all the time that they were going to fall over into this ravine. Life wasn’t made any easier for her because the family were always great people for arguing, and these brothers would stay up all night arguing, and I guess doing a little bit of drinking as well, and consequently they didn’t want to get up ‘til about noon the next day, and my poor aunt would then have to feed these men and so forth. But they didn’t waste their evening hours always; in those days, as now, the sport of pit-lamping apparently was rather common.
It was much easier to shoot a deer at night than it was in the daytime. - missing portion when they shot a cow by mistake, I deduce a cassette tape had to be turned over? - and skin it and hang it up. And then somebody said “We’d better really find out who that cow belongs to, and maybe you can make some kind of settlement so it isn’t reported to the police I suppose.”
So somebody said, “Well, I think Charlie Nobbs has a cow that’s like that,” so my uncle went off with one of his other brothers to have a meeting with Mr. Nobbs. So my uncle Bert said, “Mr. Nobbs, do you have a brown cow that hasn’t come back?” “Well,” he said, “As a matter of fact I do have one, but I haven’t seen it for a day or two.” And my uncle said “Well I’m afraid you won’t see it again either.” - laughter - Anyway they made a settlement. And my father came back to visit at this time, and this animal was hanging up and he said, “Boys, that was a big deer, wasn’t it!” - laughter - So I have that connection with the Nobbs too - that my uncle shot Jessie’s uncle’s cow.
Jessie shows a picture of the class in the Cranberry School when she was in grade two. 8 children. Ivan: “And probably one or two might not have attended that day.”
Manson: During the first World War, Ted, a lot of young men went from there to the war. I know my father and his four brothers all went back to England and got involved, and there were a great many other people left the Cranberry, didn’t they?
Ted: Oh yes, there was quite a bunch.
Harry Rogers and his 3 boys all joined up and went overseas.
Leslie Carter, that’s the only son of Ted Carter, Thomas Edward, he went overseas too, but he never came back, he was killed in the first wave of them.
Bill Rogers, that’s John Rogers’ son, he was one that went, and Hedley Bowers.
And Joe Mason, that was the third son I think of Robert Mason, his eldest son was Robert, Willy, and George was the youngest, he went to school with us, and the younger sister Margaret went to school with us. But the other two, Annie and Laura, I didn’t know very well, they only came occasionally from Victoria or wherever it was they lived. Mrs. Carter’s sister and her husband came over, they had six children. The Carters had 5, one son Leslie and four girls.
Ivan: They all attended the Cranberry School at one time or another.
Ted: Yes, yes. Harry Rogers had 2 daughters, I think one is still alive, and I believe one of the elder sons should be alive now, I haven’t heard of his death, but he’ll be 96 I think.
Manson: Ted, in the late 20’s and the 30’s the Cranberry went into a period of decline. The population got smaller.
Ted: Yes, people had moved out.
Manson: Now, some people think that the first world war had an effect on that, because some of the young men who went overseas were lost and the other ones who came back, not all of them returned to the Cranberry by any means. And really in the late ‘20’s and the early ‘30’s logging was about the only thing going on, there was no extensive farming going on any more.
Ted: Not so much, no. Charlie Gardener and Harry Nobbs carried on, they did their farming. H. O Allen built a house in Ganges, and he was living there, after he came back for a while, and then he moved back into the Cranberry after several attempts to sell the Cranberry Marsh property, ... he came back up in the early 30’s, and it wasn’t sold until 1938, I think it was. (Ted corrects Ivan’s mistaken understanding regarding when H.O. Allen was living in Ganges.)
Ivan: As Manson said, the first world war took a lot out, and then after the logging and lumbering finished, that finished the Cranberry district as a community.
Ted: Yes, Charlie Toynbee, you see, moved out, he went overseas with his brother. And Dicks went. (sp?)
Ivan: Yes, Manson said that all of his uncles and his brothers went, all of them.
Ted: Yes, and that left their places vacant. Fred Nobbs moved to Victoria, and Charlie Nobbs moved to Victoria; they got work, I guess there, I think it was 1917 when Charlie moved out, and probably soon after when Fred Nobbs moved out, he had 5 daughters. So that left those places vacant.
(Audience questions and Jessie’s answers establish that there were three Nobbs brothers and a sister in the Cranberry before the first world war. Jessie’s family stayed there “until about the second world war, when they sold when (Ozzie?) went over to soldier.”)
Audience: Did they keep the property and pay taxes on it? Or did they just walk away from it?
Jessie: I don’t really know. I was only little when they left.
Audience: And was there any taxes in those days?
Jessie: Not very much. My dad used to work on the road (to) pay his taxes.
Audience: I just wondered, did you retain title to the property when you moved into Victoria?
Jessie: I didn’t move to Victoria.
Ivan: Your family moved to Ganges, didn’t they.
Jessie: Yes, that would be about 1940-1941 when my mother and father sold the house.
Ivan: They sold it
Jessie: They sold it, yeah. But I don’t know about the other (houses) ‘cause they were a lot earlier.
Manson: Certainly the properties that my uncles had, they just left them.
Jessie: Yes, you used to go up into the bush and you’d still see the odd cabin up there when I was a girl.
Audience: Could I ask, where was the Rogers place?
Ivan: The Rogers place was up where Tom Gosset’s farm is now. He has John Rogers, and Harry’s was just below that, wasn’t it?
Ted: Yes, Harry’s was just north of (there). John, Harry, Charlie Gardner, and Waite.
Ivan: It’s on the road to the Maxwell Park, on the right going up. You know where Dr. Woolridge lives, where you turn off Wright Road? Well, you go past that, and take the Maxwell Peak road, and it’s on the right when you pass that Wright Road. (Ivan calls the ‘Maxwell peak road’ the Cranberry Road, and corrects himself)
Jessie: Where Dr Woolridge lives used to be my uncle Charlie Nobbs’ place.
(ME: So the Cranberry School ws on Charlie Nobbs’ property?)
Audience: And which was your father’s place?
Jessie: Way down lower than they were, (across from Roberts Lake) near down where Ted Brown lives, we just lived a little further on from where his family lived.
Audience: With your father being a city boy, how did he meet up with Jessie on the island? Visiting? (Jessie his future wife, Mrs. Toynbee)
Manson: Well, yes, he used to come over, and then he came to Ganges, and he came to Salt Spring to stay, and as a result...
Audience: City Boy meeting (inaudible) you see!
Jessie: There was a lot of them did that. A lot of teachers and nurses came to work on Salt Spring, and they married the local boys.
Audience: He didn’t meet her when she was teaching in the Cranberry?
Ivan: He was overseas then.
Manson: He was in the UK then, 1926.
Audience: So when did she teach at Burgoyne?
Ivan: Later. She taught Jim Akerman there.
Audience: That would be after she was married.
Manson: No, no, she didn’t teach after she was married.
Jessie: I think up on the Cranberry was her first school, wasn’t it?
Manson: I believe so. She also taught school here at Central for a time.
Jessie: And her cousin taught the Divide School.
Manson: That’s right.
Ivan: Mr. Dodds taught in the Cranberry, do you remember when he taught there?
Manson: Lassie’s father
Ted: Yes. 1911-1912.
Manson: He taught here too for a time, didn’t he.
Ivan: Yes, he did, and North Vesuvius too.
Ted: In 1912 the present Maxwell Park Road was put through from the Cranberry School. Before that the road went through Harry Roger’s place and round the back to Maxwell Lake, through Domaine’s. Then Domaine claimed he put that road out to the Maxwell Park road, from the lake, and claimed some money on it. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, - laughter - but anyway the road was put through.
Manson: One thing we haven’t mentioned is that Mr. Rogers used to make quite a good home brew. His place was very popular.
Ted: Yes, they used to make cider.
Jessie: Everybody’d go up there and buy it.
Ted: He was supposed to be one of the cider kings - laughter.
Ivan: There used to be a regular run up there before dances. Unfortunately I was too young, I never got in on that; they sort of found out about him and had him in court, before I was old enough to drive out there. But I have a couple of cousins who used to make visits there, and a few others ... But I was never up there.
Jessie: You’d see a car go by, and say “Oh, they’re going up to John Rogers.”
Ivan: So it was quite a traffic, he’d do quite a good business. But then they found out, and he had ‘a bit of a problem’.
45.00 Ted’s cider story
Manson: Even Ted lost some apples, didn’t you Ted?
Manson: I say you didn’t get some cider you were supposed to get.
Ted: Yes, yes. Mrs. Hewton that lived on the old Kingsbury place on the Old Divide, there was quite an orchard there, and I picked the apples for her, and she decided she’d like some cider, so I took a couple of boxes of apples up to Rogers, to their cider press, you see, in a barrel. And it occurred that somebody - oh, do you remember that lawyer out to the North End? (Ivan: Costillo? Ted: Costillo, yes) - an Indian trespassed on his place, he was half drunk, and the caretaker there shot him, and didn’t kill him, and they had him up in court, you see, and this Indian, they wanted to know where he got the cider from, and I found out later it was from Hedger’s, that he’d got drunk on it; but they pestered him so much, they said, “Did you get it at John Rogers?” and he finally said yes! - laughter - So the police came up and raided him, and got Jack Dodds to haul the whole works away.
Audience: Oh dear.
Ivan: - and Mrs. Hewton lost her 20 gallons of cider!
Ted: Yeah - laughter -
Ivan: Tch tch tch tch.
Ted: It went with it.
Ivan: Now that’s not justice, is it.
Ted: That was the winter of 1940. - laughter -
Ivan: A dry winter, Ted.
Ted: Yeah - laughter -
Manson: Where did all the cider end up, Ted? Did they dump it over the wharf? What did they do with it?
Ted: What was that?
Manson: What did they do with all the cider?
Ted: They dumped it down the sink.
Ivan: There’s a lovely story I heard, Ted, that Jimmy Rogers was watching while they cracked it open, and he was crying the whole time while he watched it run away into the ground.
Ted: Maybe. But I can tell you this much: I went into the police station for something or other, and you could smell it, all over the place. - laughter -
Ted: I don’t know whether I went in for, maybe my car license, to renew my car license. See, when I could afford it I’d take it out, and run it ‘til the end of the year, then they expired, and then (I’d) not renew it until later on. So I guess that’s when I was probably in - but you could sure smell it! - laughter - for days afterwards.
(Quiet discussion amongst themselves as to which policeman that would have been, in 1940. “BC Police, yes.”-“That’d be Tweedo I guess.”-”No, it would be Lockwood in ’40.”-”No, Tweedo.”-”Maybe.”-” Fiander? Fiander.”)
Ivan: Any questions for Ted, or Jessie?
Audience Newcomer: We’ve just moved to the island actually, and we live in the Cranberry.
Jessie: Oh, do you! Ooh! - general audience laughter and delight -
Audience Newcomer: We’re right at the top of Shepherd Hills Road, I guess just south of the old Gardner farmhouse. We live in a house which has variously been described to us as the Sneed house, and the Honeymoon Cottage. Now, it’s one of these rambling Salt Spring houses, but that wouldn’t be the original cottage, which was built back in the 1920’s, and I was wondering if any of your guests had any idea about that. (Manson, Ivan and Jessie confer)
Jessie: I don’t know.
Ivan: Ted, we’re talking about a small cottage near Shepherd’s Hill. Now, that was Gardner property?
Ivan: This chap enquired about a cottage; it’s grown, but it was small. Was it log?
Audience Newcomer: It was a post and beam, it’s probably been redone a number of times.
Ivan: He said it was sometime built in the 1920’s or so. Do you recall if that might be? People have told him it’s been referred to as the Honeymoon Cottage -
Ted Brown: a pause, before saying “Now I wouldn’t know...”
Ivan: “I know you wouldn’t know! You’ve never been married. - laughter -
Ted: Let’s see.
Manson: Would that be Mervyn’s house?
Ted: Mervyn built -
Jessie: Well, he had a house there.
Ted: - his house -
Jessie: - above the garden.
Manson: But that was the ‘30’s, the early ‘30’s.
Ted: - a little farther north than his father’s, on his father’s property.
Sue Mouat: Someone mentioned the name Sneed.
Ivan: Sneed, does that name mean anything to you? I think that’s more recent. Sneed?
Jessie: Yes, that’s more recent.
Ted: Sneed. I’ve heard the name, but I’m just trying to recall where.
Ivan, Jessie, and Manson: That probably might have been Mervyn Gardner’s house, when he got married, that’d be ‘honeymoon’, he probably built a house on the Gardner property, that’d be in the 1930’s.
Audience Newcomer: I think it would have been built in the ‘30’s then, and has variously grown since then.
Manson: It was quite small when it was first put up.
Ivan: Well, if there’s no more questions, I’d like to thank Jessie and Ted for coming this afternoon, and letting us, sharing what they knew about the Cran-, what the Cranberry was like, when you knew it, earliest.
Ivan: I’m just saying thank you very much for coming, and telling everybody about the Cranberry, and what it was like when you arrived there.
Ted: “I haven’t told the half of it...” - laughter - and applause.
MC: I’d like to thank you all, Manson and Ivan, and Jessie and Ted, (ME: and Sue...) for a most entertaining hour or so, thank you very much indeed.
The piece of land is far smaller than the surrounding properties, so was presumably eventually donated (or sold for a nominal fee) to create a boundary for the Cranberry Marsh Schoolhouse.
December 10th 1908 it was agreed between the then owner Charlie Gardner and the redoubtable Reverend Wilson, to rent his "shack" for $10 a year for a church for the recent settlers in the Cranberry Marsh.
1908 Dec. 10 Arranged with Charles Gardner to rent his shack for $10 per year for a church in the Cranberry Marsh. A bee was held to fix it up. Rev. Wilson ‘Our Life on Salt Spring Island’
"In 1903 the Cranberry Road was made, and families began to settle in the area called Cranberry Marsh on the slopes where Mount Maxwell begins to rise to form Baynes Peak [A cranberry marsh in this area was drained before 1900]. They were mostly British and American, but needed free schooling. The Ganges parents thought of them as the ‘rougher element’. By 1910 there were enough children to have a school of their own - until then, the children had walked down the mountain to the Divide School." Usha Rautenbach Early Schools Of Salt Spring Island
[My map, made in earlier days of digitisation I'm afraid - yes, I do need to redo it]
From August 1911 the small log building served as the Cranberry Marsh Schoolhouse; church services continued to be held there, and it would also have served as the local community's "hall" for meetings, celebrations, etc. It was not continuously used for school (due to fluctuations in enrolment - when there were too few in the Cranberry area the government did not send a teacher, so the remaining students used to walk on down to the Divide Schoolhouse on Blackburn Road; similarly, when the enrolment in the Divide School District dropped too low the Divide students would walk up to the Cranberry Marsh Schoolhouse; when enrolment was sufficient for the government to provide two schoolteachers both schools ran at the same time).
Photo of the building, possibly before it was used as a schoolhouse (but equally possible while it was used as both schoolhouse and for church and community gatherings):
Cranberry Marsh School was opened in 1911 with teacher G.F.Harris and Trustees E.J. Seymour, J.Rogers and T. Clark. The school was in continuous operation from 1911-24, closed from 1924-6, then re-opened briefly for the 1927-1928 school year, but in April 1928 "Cranberry Marsh School closed - too few children" as the Sidney Review put it; after which it has been assumed by researchers that the pupils went to the Divide School until 1940 (when the students of both areas were obliged to attend the Consolidated School in Ganges at the present-day Salt Spring Elementary School building). Nevertheless, Jessie Nobbs was the May Queen for Cranberry Marsh in 1930, possibly representing her community rather than her community's school, although all the other May Queens were representing their school.
1930 May Queens photo:
Mort Stratton’s History of Farming on Salt Spring says of the Great Depression that “Voters Lists for the 30's indicate that the number of farmers in the Ganges area dropped from 91 in 1933 to 72 in 1937, with similar drops elsewhere” so that the Cranberry farms became deserted.
If you have specific questions not answered by the above, feel free to ask.
And if anyone finds the URL for the school photograph of 8 students of the Cranberry School, do let me know - it belongs with audio 112
Any audio of Ted Brown (#17, #81, #112, #189) has lots of snippets about the Cranberry, where he lived. In the course of doing a transcription of tape 112, I figured out much of what I finally worked out to be the Story of Cranberry School and its Community
volunteer researcher for the SSIA
|Accession Number||Interviewer||Ivan and Sue Mouat|