4. A Bright Future

Key Dates

1858 Blacks from San Francisco send a delegation to Governor Douglas to inquire about the prospects of emigrating to Vancouver Island. After a favourable reception, about 600 people move north.
1859 Thirteen Blacks, with and without families, pre-empt land on Salt Spring Island.
1861 John Craven Jones begins teaching school at Central Settlement.
1868 William Robinson and Giles Curtis are murdered in their cabins within eight months of each other.
1869 Abraham Copeland is elected to Salt Spring’s first school board.
1873 John Craven Jones and Henry W. Robinson are elected to Salt Spring’s seven-member council.
1875 Louis Stark moves to the Nanaimo area.

Why did they come?

Many of Salt Spring's first settlers were Blacks who came from San Francisco. While some of these were former slaves or children of slaves, all were free citizens of the United States when they immigrated to British Columbia. They included a wide cross section of society?merchants, miners, farmers, educators, and others. What these Blacks all had in common was a desire to escape the discrimination they faced then under California law and to be able to function in society as free citizens. Like many other settlers, they had little money. Thus, it was the offer of free land that drew them to an island wilderness.

Sometime around 1960, when she was already in her nineties, Marie Albertina (Stark) Wallace, a daughter of one of these families, recorded her mother’s memory of the reasons behind the emigration:

The coloured people in California were becoming alarmed over general agitation under southern pressure to make California a slave state. In 1852, the federal government had passed a law permitting the return of fugitive slaves fleeing to northern states to be returned to their owners in the South.... Furthermore the state legislature had taken what appeared to be the first steps against the coloured race. The effect was to deprive them of the ability to protect their property from spoliation by the white man. By these acts coloured people were disqualified from giving evidence against a white person....

... The Negro people were dissatisfied with the laws of the country. They met at San Francisco to discuss how best they could improve their hard lot.

A committee was sent to B.C. to interview the government. Governor Douglas received them and extended them a cordial welcome to establish themselves on British soil. As a result of this favourable report by the committee, fully 600 coloured people came to B.C....

Sylvia Stark remembered that a delegation of coloured people called on Governor Douglas requesting permission to form a colony of coloured people on Salt Spring Island about that time, but he refused, saying it would be to the best interest of all to have a mixed settlement.

[photo 1: Marie (Stark) Wallace and sister Louise (Stark) Wiley]

While most of the sixty-five members of the delegation quickly settled in Victoria, one delegate returned to San Francisco to report glowingly on what the delegates had found in British Columbia. The meeting of Blacks to which the delegate reported issued twelve resolutions preceded by the following statement:

We are fully convinced that the continued aim of the spirit and policy of our mother country is to oppress, degrade, and entrap us. We have therefore determined to seek an asylum in the land of strangers from the oppression, prejudice, and relentless persecution that have pursued us for more than two centuries in this our mother country. Therefore a delegation having been sent to Vancouver’s Island, a place which has unfolded to us in our darkest hour, the prospect of a bright future; to this place of British possession, the delegation having ascertained and reported the condition, character, and its social and political privileges and its living resources.

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, a Black businessmen born in Philadelphia, came to the colony of Vancouver Island from California. He trained as a lawyer in Victoria, became a member of Victoria's city council in the 1860s, and was Salt Spring's delegate to the 1868 Yale Convention (which determined that British Columbia would join the Canadian Confederation). Gibbs also recalled the coming of Blacks to Vancouver Island:

We had no complaint as to business patronage in the State of California, but there was ever present that spectre of oath denial and disfranchisement; the disheartening consciousness that while our existence was tolerated, we were powerless to appeal to law for the protection of life or property when assailed. British Columbia offered and gave protection to both, and equality of political privileges. I cannot describe with what joy we hailed the opportunity to enjoy that liberty under the ?British lion? denied us beneath the pinions of the American Eagle. Three or four hundred [now thought to be about 600] coloured men from California and other States, with their families, settled in Victoria, drawn thither by the two-fold inducement?gold discovery and the assurance of enjoying impartially the benefits of constitutional liberty. They built or bought homes and other property, and by industry and character vastly improved their condition and were the recipients of respect and esteem from the community.

Gibbs returned to the United States in 1869, as did most of the estimated 600 who had come to Canada, which somehow had never become ?home? for them.

The Blacks who stayed settled in many parts of what is now British Columbia, and a small community of them developed at the north end of Salt Spring. Four of these were among the first twenty-nine pre-empters on Salt Spring in 1859?Armstead Buckner, Fielding Spotts, William Isaacs, and E. A. Booth. Buckner, who had been born in Virginia, was also one of the first seventeen settlers to arrive on the island on July 27, 1859. He pre-empted the land where the Salt Spring Golf and Country Club is today. Before the year ended, several other Blacks arrived, including Abraham Copeland, who chose land on the west side of St. Mary Lake where part of Tripp Road is today; W. L. Harrison, Copeland?s son-in-law, who pre-empted to the south of the lake; William Robinson, who settled on the north side; Hiram Whims, who established an upland farm on the ridge between Fernwood and St. Mary Lake; the Jones brothers?John Craven, William, and Elias?who took land on the gentle slope leading down toward the east side of Ganges Harbour; Levi Davis, and William Isaacs. Daniel Fredison, a Black from Hawaii, rounded out the 1859 arrivals, settling on land that is still a large farm on Mansell Road.

[Photo 2: Daniel Fredison]

There were no women in the original group of Black settlers. Most men sent for their families only after they were settled. Among those arriving in 1860 were Giles Curtis, B. Franklin Wall, and Louis and Sylvia Stark, who first pre-empted north of Vesuvius. Another Black, G. H. Anderson, pre-empted land to the south of John C. Jones’s land on the west side of Ganges Harbour.

By settling close to each other in the north end of the island, the Blacks formed a kind of community. When Methodist missionary Ebenezer Robson visited the north end of Salt Spring in February 1861, he noted the following in his diary:

There are in the settlement 21 houses on the same number of claims. Four of the houses are inhabited by white people and the remainder by coloured people. I preached in the house of a coloured man in the evening to about 20 persons all coloured except three and one of them is married to a coloured man.

How many Blacks actually settled on Salt Spring is a matter of conjecture. As with other settlers of the period, some Blacks pre-empted land on paper but never physically took up their pre-emptions. For example, it is not clear whether Fielding Spotts ever lived on Salt Spring, while the Spotts family’s life in the Saanich peninsula and in Vancouver is well documented. Ethnographer Charles Irby calculated that there were only six Black families on Salt Spring when the Starks arrived in 1860. According to Irby, the Black population was up substantially the next year when Robson visited and counted seventeen houses (see above):

There were 15 family names of blacks on Saltspring Island in 1861, including two Robinsons, at four different locations. Seven were located south and southeast of St. Mary Lake at Central Settlement, four at Vesuvius Bay, three were about two miles north of Vesuvius Bay, and one was at Ganges Harbor (Admiral Bay).... The important feature is that they were dispersed, which stifled island communication and economic cohesiveness.

While some of these people stayed on Salt Spring, most did not. Many, like Mifflin Gibbs, eventually drifted back to the United States after the climate for Blacks changed following the end of the American Civil War in 1864. The ones who remained in Canada, however, whether on Salt Spring or elsewhere, thrived. Whether well educated, endowed with particular skills, or just plain ambitious, they took advantage of the opportunities available to have a good life in a country freer than the one they had left.

[Insert #1]

Was there racial prejudice on Salt Spring?

Most settlers were probably too busy establishing themselves to be able to spend much time worrying about differences in race. And they were unlikely to refuse a neighbour’s help just because he was a Black. While many believe that there was little evident racial prejudice in these early days, one instance was recorded by the Rev. Robson:

Mrs. Lenniker [sic] says Mr. L. nor herself will come to any meeting when the colored people associate with the white. Poor woman she says some people might do it but she has been brought up so that she cannot?was the daughter of a church of England clergyman.

With the amount of intermarriage among settlers of different ethnic backgrounds in Salt Spring’s early days, it is unlikely that many of the people born on the island would have been prejudiced. Still, the large number of British immigrants who came to the island in subsequent years did tend to socialize largely among themselves and to retain, often to extraordinary lengths, social customs that tended to exclude others. Here is how John A. Caldwell summarized the situation in 1947:

All of them [Blacks] are highly respected for their cooperation, honesty, and integrity. For fifty-five years we have lived among them. I, and later my children, attended school with them. They worked for us and we worked with them on government projects, agricultural shows, politics, school board, etc. and have nothing but the best to say for them.

We feel that given equal opportunity there would be no coloured problem. Our Coloured Folks here realize there is intolerance among all classes and creeds and they consider the source and accept it philosophically. In fact, a few of them welcome a certain amount of it as bringing out their latent strength.

[end insert #1]

Among the most successful Blacks were the three Jones brothers who had been born in Raleigh, North Carolina, where their father had tried unsuccessfully to set up a school for Black children after purchasing his freedom from slavery. When whites burned his school down for the third time, Jones moved his family to Oberlin, Ohio. All four of his sons graduated from Oberlin College, and three of them emigrated to Canada, initially to Salt Spring.

William and Elias Jones only stayed on Salt Spring briefly, however, as they left the island for the Cariboo gold rush in 1861. William was to become one of Barkerville’s first dentists and a mining investor and spent the rest of his life in the Cariboo. Elias eventually returned to Oberlin.

John Craven Jones became Salt Spring’s first schoolteacher. He initially taught three days a week in the log-cabin school at Central Settlement and then walked to Begg’s Settlement where he taught another three days in a shed on a one-acre piece of land on the southeast side of the intersection of Fernwood Road and North End Road. The land had been donated by an early settler named George Baker. Jones was reportedly sniped at and occasionally beaten, ostensibly by Aboriginal people, as he travelled from one school to the other. Jones received no pay for his work until 1869 when he was officially appointed schoolteacher at a salary of about $40 per month. While the early settlers were probably overjoyed to have someone, especially a qualified someone, to teach their children, the school inspector was somewhat critical of Jones, as the following 1872 report indicates:

Mr. J. C. Jones is teaching under a temporary arrangement until the end of the year. Salary $40. per month. Visited the Island on 27th/28th of June [1872]. Found the teacher engaged at the Northern or Begg's Settlement, where school had been kept for the three months previously. The 28th was examination day, but there were only three pupils in attendance, 2 girls and a boy. The boy was working in Latin Grammar, having become such a proficient in English Grammar and Geography that these two subjects were dropped a year ago and Latin substituted! So the teacher reported. An examination in these branches and Arithmetic did not by any means establish the fact of former proficiency. Teacher's time comparatively wasted by itinerating between Middle and Northern Settlements. Circumstances do not warrant it as none of the children are more than three miles from the school house and the road is improving year by year. There are 25 children of school age in the two settlements above referred to, of whom 7 reside in the northern settlement and 16 in the middle settlement.

In the mid-1870s, John Craven Jones returned to Oberlin. He married in 1882 at age fifty-one and moved to Tarboro, North Carolina, where he taught for another twenty-five years. He died in 1911 at the age of eighty.

Several other Black pioneers were involved in local government on Salt Spring. Abraham Copeland was elected to the first three-member school board, which made John Jones’s position as teacher official. Then, when Salt Spring was incorporated in 1873, Jones and Henry W. Robinson, another Black, were elected to the seven-member council. Perhaps the fact that Mifflin Gibbs, a resident of Victoria, was elected Salt Spring’s representative to the Yale Convention is testimony to the political influence and involvement of the Blacks on Salt Spring.

The Stark Story

The story of the Starks is the best known of all the Blacks to come to Salt Spring. In 1860, Louis and Sylvia Stark, both former slaves from the United States, settled on the higher land north of Vesuvius Bay and ten years later moved to the northeast shore of Ganges Harbour opposite Goat Island. The arrival of the Starks is colourfully described in daughter Marie (Stark) Wallace?s notes of her mother?s memories:

It was a bright day in 1860 when the Starks moved to Saltspring Island. Sylvia remembered 1860 chiefly because John E. Stark, the second son, was born four months after they landed. They came to the northwest side of the island in a sailing vessel. The cattle [15 dairy cows] were lowered into the water with strong ropes, where they swam to land and took the trail leading up to their home, lowing as they went on without anyone to guide them.

The passengers clambered down the side of the ship on rope ladders, and into two Indian canoes, manned by two Indians, a man and his wife. A Hudson Bay Co. man landed with them. Mr. Macaulay, the Hudson Bay agent, offered to stay with Mrs. Stark and the two children while Mr. Stark went down to the settlement to get conveyance to haul their baggage.

[Insert #2]

From Slavery to Freedom

Sylvia Stark’s parents, Hannah and Howard Estes, were slaves in Clay County, Missouri, where Sylvia was born in 1839. Howard belonged to a man named Tom Estes and, as slaves commonly did, had adopted his master’s surname. His wife Hannah and their three children (Agnes, Jackson, and Sylvia) belonged to another man, Charles Leopold, a German baker.

[photo 3: Howard Estes]

In 1849, Howard Estes took a herd of his master’s cattle to California. He had permission to stay there and earn the $1,000 he needed to buy his freedom, which he did by working in the gold mines. When he sent the money to Tom Estes, however, Tom refused to give him his “free papers.” Howard sent another $1,000 to Charles Leopold for his wife’s freedom. When Tom heard of this, he demanded the money that had been sent to Leopold. After a court case, he was awarded $800 of it, but was forced to give Howard his free papers. When Howard returned to Missouri, he paid Leopold another $1000 to free his wife, Hannah, $1000 to free his son Jackson, and $900 to free Sylvia. (Agnes had died while Howard was in California.)

On April 1, 1851, the Estes family made a long, eventful trip across the country to California, where they arrived almost exactly six months later. There they farmed in Placerville, northeast of Sacramento, until they decided to migrate to British Columbia in 1858. Meanwhile Sylvia met and married Louis Stark sometime in the mid-1850s. Stark was the son of a slave and the slave’s white owner. While Louis Stark and Jackson Estes drove fifty head of cattle overland to British Columbia, Sylvia Stark, her parents, and her two children travelled on the steamer Brother Jonathan. They all met in Steilacoom, Washington Territory, and continued on to Victoria together. Sylvia’s parents bought a farm in Saanich and Stark pre-empted land on Salt Spring.

[end insert #2]

Almost as soon as they arrived, the Starks encountered a party of Haida (another account refers to them as Bella Bella) who came to examine the Starks’ belongings. Meanwhile, the Aboriginal woman who had accompanied the Starks had paddled away in her canoe to warn her people in the Penelekut village on Kuper Island of the arrival of the northerners. The woman’s husband kept a low profile, while the cold demeanour of the visitors left Sylvia and her children in fear. Eventually the Haida offered to take Macaulay (“the Hudson Bay agent”) to his destination, the home of the Lineker family at the head of Ganges Harbour. What happened there is described in the next chapter.

The Starks’ home and Louis’s work to clear the land was recounted in chapter 3. Their progress was described by Rev. Ebenezer Robson, when he visited the family on his Salt Spring trip in 1861:

They with their children 3 in number are living on their own farm. It is good land & they only pay $1 per acre for it. Mr. Stark has about 30 head of cattle. He sowed one quart of wheat near his house last winter and reaped 180 qts. in the summer…. His turnips of which he has a large quantity are beautiful and large?Also cabbages etc. etc. His wife who was converted about 2 months ago filled my sacks with good things?4 lbs. fine fresh butter, 2 qt. bottles new milk. Mr. Stark gave me some of his large turnips.

Evidently, Sylvia Stark looked to religion to help her cope with life in a rough environment:

The first time she was left alone with her two small children she wept despondently. Her little son, Willis, tried to comfort her, stroking her head soothingly. He said, “Don’t cry, Ma. Let’s go home.” The only home he knew was in California.

But a change was coming to Sylvia. She would know the peace of a comforting saviour. She would know why her mother used to hide away in the old shed to pray. She was often left alone with her children. There seemed to be no other way. Their neighbours were in the same predicament, to some extent, when their men went to town for provisions.

... Her husband was not sympathetic. So she would steal out into the woods to pray, although wild animals roamed through the bush. Black bear, cougars, even wolves, were on the island those days, but she was serving Daniel’s God. The bush had no terrors, when the urge came to pray.

Marie (Stark) Wallace’s notes of her mother Sylvia’s reminiscences contain several accounts of frightening encounters with Aboriginal people. Here are three of them:

One evening five Indians came to the Stark cabin on the mountainside.... The three children were asleep, the youngest a baby in the cradle. They walked right into the house and began to examine everything in the house. They even counted the blankets on the bed, and talked among themselves. Then one of the men took a gun from over the mantle where Stark kept several guns ready loaded and began to examine it. Stark shouted to him to be careful as the gun was loaded and grabbed the muzzle turning it away.... Sylvia was praying silently.... In the scuffle, Stark held onto the gun, turning the muzzle upward. Suddenly there was a terrific blast, the bullet going through the roof. Immediately to the surprise of the Starks, the Indians left quickly. It is quite evident they were afraid of Stark, who was known to be a good marksman, and he was not afraid of them.

? ? ?

An Indian going by the name of Willie had made an attempt on Stark’s life, but the latter had seen the gunsight glistening in the sun. The gun was pointing towards him in the man’s hands. Instantly Stark shouted to him, calling him by name. The man was afraid when he saw that he was detected. He knew if he missed Stark, Stark wouldn’t miss him. He was trembling when Stark came up to him. After that Stark was very careful. He always took his dog with him when he went into the woods.

? ? ?

One day, a Native stole into the house silently in his moccasin feet. They always came in without knocking. He asked in Chinook, “Kah mika man?” (“Where is your man?”). Sylvia answered in Chinook, “Wake syah.” (“Not far away.”) The dog … was lying asleep on the floor. But when the man spoke, the dog jumped up and would have caught the man by the throat, when Sylvia prevented him, though with some difficulty. That stopped the prowling.

Despite these frightening episodes, the Starks generally had good relations with their Aboriginal visitors, as the following comments of Marie (Stark) Wallace suggest:

But as a rule the Indians were quite friendly. They sold their commodities, salmon and all kinds of seafood, and berries in their season. They needed the chickamin (money in Chinook). There was one man whose name was Verygood, Captain Verygood. So named, he gained the respect of all who knew him. W.O. Stark [her brother Willis] learned from him something about the customs of the early Natives.

In 1868, two Blacks were killed. The first, William Robinson, a neighbour of the Starks, was shot in the back while sitting in his own cabin. Robinson, a mild-mannered man who taught Sunday school, was about to leave Salt Spring to return to his wife in the United States when he was killed. Eight months later, Giles Curtis, a friend of Howard Estes who had come to the island to help take care of the Starks’ farm, was also murdered. In addition to being shot, Curtis had had his throat slashed with a butcher knife. When they were killed, the two men had been alone in their cabins on the northwest side of the island near Louis Stark’s property. In both cases, everything worthwhile had been stolen from the cabins. And both murders were blamed on Aboriginal people. (These murders are discussed further in chapter 5.)

The murders of his closest neighbours so unnerved Louis Stark that he moved his pre-emption to a safer location opposite Goat Island between what is now Long Harbour Road and Ganges Harbour. (There’s a story that Goat Island was so named because Louis Stark used to graze his goats there.) This spot was called Fruitvale. Here’s how Stark explained the situation to land agent Joseph Trutch. (Stark’s characteristic orthography and punctuation has been retained.)

Salt Spring Island november
3 1869

Mr. Trutch land agent dear Sir I Beg leave to inform you that I have ben oblige to move my famerly from my claim as the indiens is daingers I cannot get any man to live on the place Since cirtice was killd for this caus I have commencts improving a peace of land on the n.e. Side of gaingers harber and Joind on the South east end of david overtons claim thir is forty or fifty acurs of this land near to other Settlers which I would be veary thankfull if you will record this to me and take one hundred acures from my old claim and record to me one hundred ondly untill I can get a man on it
Louis Stark

[photo 4: Willis Stark in front of cabin]

[photo 5: John Whims and Willis Stark]

The community of Blacks in the north end of the island was beginning to break down. In about 1875, Louis Stark moved again, this time to the Cranberry District near Nanaimo. Sylvia did not move with him this time, preferring to remain on Salt Spring with her oldest son, Willis. The Starks’ eldest daughter, Emily (sometimes referred to as Emma ), became a schoolteacher, married James Clark, and taught on Vancouver Island until her death in 1890 at the relatively young age of thirty-three. John, the Starks’ second son, moved to the tiny mining town of Alice Arm, B.C., in 1900, where he worked as a prospector until his death in 1930. Willis, the oldest son, remained on Salt Spring to take care of the Stark holdings He died in 1943 at the age of eighty-seven. Other Stark children also moved away from Salt Spring and lived mostly in other places.

[photo 6: Emma Stark]

Louis Stark’s attempts to find peace in his old age were thwarted. A rich coal seam was discovered deep under the Starks’ property in the Cranberry District, and people interested in mining it offered to buy the land. Louis refused to sell in spite of threats against his life. In 1895, he was found dead at the foot of a cliff. Although it was unclear as to whether he had fallen or was murdered, the family firmly believed that Stark had been murdered. Interestingly, Louis’s youngest daughter, Louisa, inherited everything he had. His will stipulated that his wife, Sylvia, was to receive only “1 dollar in lieu of dower because she has some years since without cause left my bed and board. Consequently she is not entitled to my property.” Sylvia died in 1944 at the grand old age of about 105, one year after her son Willis.

[photo 7: Sylvia Stark and Marie Wallace]

What became of the others?

While most of Salt Spring’s Black population settled in the north end of the island, a few did live in the south. For some time, Hiram Whims’s son, William, and his wife Emily (Sampson) had continued to farm the land Hiram pre-empted not far from what is now the Fernwood dock. However, in 1880, William bought fifty acres of land in the Burgoyne Valley from John Sparrow, where he lived in his later years. Jim Anderson, another descendant of early Black settlers, first owned a cabin near Walker Hook and, during the 1930s and 1940s, lived on Isabella Point Road.

While many of the Blacks returned to the United States, some simply moved away from Salt Spring. For example, Fielding Spotts, one of the first pre-emptors, is thought to have come from California to Salt Spring in 1859, bringing his wife, Julia, and their son, Fielding William, to join him the next year. According to author Crawford Kilian, Spotts farmed on Salt Spring for a few years and then moved his family to Saanich. There Spotts became involved in local politics, serving as a school trustee for many years. Fielding Spotts, Jr. moved to Vancouver in 1902, where he became quite well known before his death in 1937.

[photo 8: Fielding Spotts]

Among the other Blacks who left the island were Abraham Copeland and his family, who sold their 153 acres on St. Mary Lake to Thomas and Jane Mouat in 1885, and Levi Davis and his wife, who sold their property in 1895 to John T. Collins and moved back to Kentucky. In that year the Rev. E. F. Wilson, who himself had bought Armstead Buckner’s property a year earlier, estimated that of a total population of 450 people, 40 were “coloured,” about the same number as there were in 1862. A few such as the Harrison brothers left British Columbia but returned in later life:

Ernest, John and Edward Harrison, children of the son of 1865, attended Oberlin College, Ohio. Then John and Ernest returned to Salt Spring using their knowledge for the betterment of the island. Later Ernest moved to Victoria, taught athletics in the Y.M.C.A. there and is proud of the many coaches of today practicing his teachings. He sang in the choir, was returning officer at his precinct elections, and between times did a little boxing. John, on the island, built up a show place on his farm … on St. Mary’s Lake. He was active in the church, sang in the choir, was a board member … [and] for many years was Treasurer of the Agricultural Association.

Today there are only a few descendants of the original Black families on Salt Spring, and these descendants represent only two families?the Starks and the Whims. Only two Stark relatives remained on Salt Spring in 1998, although there were several descendants of the Whims.

[photo 9: Charles Appleby]


1. An early photo of sisters Marie (Stark) Wallace and Louise (Stark) Wiley. Back then, such a portrait was considered a solemn occasion.
Credit: BC Archives, #F-01893
2. Daniel Fredison developed the Long Harbour valley farm later bought by Thomas Mansell. Many years later, Fredison preached to the Methodist congregation at Central from time to time.
Credit: Henry Caldwell/SSIA Return to Dick Toynbee
3. Howard Estes
Credit: BC Archives, #89946
4. Willis Stark in front of the house built by his father, Louis, on land pre-empted by the family.
Credit: Myrtle (Wallace) Holloman/SSIA Return to Dick Toynbee
5. John Whims (left) and Willis Stark (right)
Credit: Myrtle (Wallace) Holloman/SSIA Return to Dick Toynbee
6. Emma (Stark) Clark
Credit: SSIA
7. This photo of Sylvia Stark holding a bowl of apples was taken in about 1930 when she was over ninety years old. Sylvia’s daughter, Marie (Stark) Wallace, is in the background.
Credit: Ethel (Wallace) Claiborne/SSIA Return to Dick Toynbee
8. Fielding Spotts
Credit: SSIA
9. Charles Appleby lived on Salt Spring at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was considered to be deranged, but proved able to foretell the future. One day in 1911, he became very upset and claimed that the Iroquois, the steamer then serving the Gulf Islands, had sunk. People tried to calm him down, but as it turned out, his story proved true. Twenty-one people died that day when the boat sank off Sidney.
Credit: Nora (Tolson) Nixon Return to Dick Toynbee