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Farming on Salt Spring Island, 1918-1940

Mort Stratton

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ID 115 Topic




Unknown Speaker 0:00
But maybe the other 30 time, I had much longer when I sat down and wrote this out came in about 30 pages. And I knew I couldn't do that, you know, in an hour and a half. So cut it out that cut out a good bit of preliminary remarks. But just a little bit before I actually get to the 19th 18th. On that a little bit by way of introduction of having looked at the history of farming, you know, I can go on through a lot of the materials here. The overall impression I get, and I work this idea for the garden club back in June when I had to talk to them. The overall impression I get is that, that farming really was for most people most of the time on Saltspring. Farming the hard way that this is probably how you describe, I don't know, 75% of the families. The farming was on a small scale, and I got to stick with my manuscript. I'll try to look that I've got a good but I want to say it was endless, hard work. The financial rewards were often bigger and often precarious. So I do think that it was farming the hard way. I don't think there are any big bucks made at farming on Saltspring Island. We had a few gentleman farmers and both would be the most prominent example the most powerful example. We had some gentlemen farmers, and we had hobby farmers. A lot of them are retirees. Someone like Colonel Blair, who was down on the canal here, spend their morning watching the clouds go by, as he says in his diary. Spend his afternoons team at tea with this egg has been buddies and his evenings at the conservative Association. But although we had little farm, rarely ever got out and cleaned out the chicken house or did anything very useful. I give you another example. I think maybe a little more enterprising man was Colonel Bryant, who I learned a little bit about Colonel Brandt that came here after the board settled on his brother's settlement homestead down on the Hill about Fulford harbor there, and he had a little goat cheese business down there. And in fact, Javed is certain notoriety I've read it because you might achieve a certain notoriety. But he apparently won prizes at exhibitions in Vancouver and elsewhere. It wasn't a very big thing. It was located up a mule track that across the Hepburn place, they're just the harbor little ways. And I'm told that it's such a bad road that it took a bat among the local neighbors and a bottle of whiskey as a prize before they managed to back up Model T Ford up that mule track to the Bryant house. But there's another man who carried on an interesting small enterprise. I don't suppose farming was really hard for him. But for most of the think it was hard but I guess any farming a the period before you people were using tractors much in other words, you rely on horsepower. Any farming and especially for dairy farming, before electricity came on the island, which was 1937 before in other words, they had milking machines. Almost any farm and back in those days was a good bit of hard work. I think Mr. Burkett, who lives just down the other side of the lake down there and on part of the old Mowat farm. Mr. Burkett says he weighs 150 at Christmas and 135 in the middle of the summer. And it's true. It did work a lot harder. I think to myself, of my old uncle Joshua branding hammer, there's a good old fashioned name, my old uncle, Joshua, priding Hammond, Ohio, who was all crippled over this due to working on a small family farm all of his lifetime. And you've seen people too, that have just been broken by the endless labor that was involved at these old fashioned farms. I think the precarious nature of the income that you got from farming on Saltspring was brought home, for example, to the well known or to this W E. Scott, who had the big Fruitvale orchards on the east side of harbor down there. He expected a crop of 3000 boxes of plums in 19, five and the fall rains wiped him out. He had 10 Chinaman hired to help him process these things, but the whole thing was wiped out so that they couldn't be sure. And I think that the fact that farming wasn't really very rewarding on Saltspring over the long haul, can be illustrated by the tax assessment rolls we just got done in the library here are in the archives. of the tax assessment rolls for periods of 1892 to 1918. And I looked through those things. And there are only about 10% of the farmers on Saltspring that were really doing very well, in the years before the war, by very well, it's kind of an arbitrary figure I took of farms that were valued at more than $3,000. Most of the people had farms, less than that. And there are a lot of people that some of you old timers know, whose farm for value that 500 $600, something like that they weren't very big, and they weren't very profitable. So I think the tax assessment broke or bear out maybe this kind of notion that I've got. In any case, by 1914, there was a general feeling according to an article that was written on salt Greenlight back back in 1911. Actually, the general feeling, as told by a contemporary was that farming simply didn't pay on software. So that that idea has been around for a long while. Now, there's one other point I wanted to mention, or would have liked to have unlocked on little. That's my feeling that even if it hadn't been farming the hard way on. Even if it had been much easier and more rewarding, I still think Saltspring would have evolved over time. From a farm community though the kind of community we have now. In other words, the community as a kind of a haven for retirees. And people of that sort. summer visitors, and urban dropouts got to be many of them, I think we would have come this way simply because the rest of the province develop so much more rapidly than we did Vancouver, you know, the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver and so much more rapidly, that the advantage of Saltspring wasn't as a place to grow, you know, turnips or something like that. It was a place to retire and to have a nice phone, and to go on vacation. So I think we would have changed, even if it hadn't been farming the hard way. Now, just a little bit again, on the general side on the period from 1914 to 1930, or 98 and 39. It's very interesting period, very difficult period to characterize in a sentence or two, Jean Barban, who's been on island here and actually buys Arabic, the history group that Sue and Ivan got going in a recent history of BC calls this the most when she called and let me get it right. The best and the worst of times, that was a chapter on this period, the best and worst of times, this sort of interwar period was certainly a time of many disruptions, a time of rapid change, including some mechanization of farm operation that I haven't got time to get into that. Here was a time of deep men long depressions, and, and just a few boom years, just a few good boom years. So it was kind of an up and down difficult period. But the brief interlude of prosperity, which was in the mid late 20s, maybe five out of 25 or 30 years old together. This brief period of prosperity was preceded by dislocations, hardships, inflation, all kinds of problems. World War One then was a long post war depression all over the world that lasted down to about 1923. And then you have a few good years, and then you have the big depression, the Great Depression in the 1930s. And then of course, you get sort of another job when you get World War Two. So it's so it's a difficult period, there were a few promising developments in agriculture, especially in the poultry industry and in the dairy industry, back here in the 20s. But I think that the relative prosperity of a few lines of agriculture didn't really slow down the erosion of agriculture as the mainstay of the island economy. That may sound like a contradiction. And maybe it is just a bad thinking on my part. But I really think agriculture was a little long downhill slide overall, in the 20s. And fortunately for the farmers, many of them owned a lot of farm land, they owned a lot of forest land. And this was a boom period for logging in money could be made that way, even if it couldn't be made on the farm. They profited from that. And also, this period of the 20s is a time when Vancouver business people were doing quite well. And there are more and more people buying up land some of the farmland for summer homes and retirement homes and things of that sort. But some aspects of our protecting the orchard industry really was on a downhill slide right through the whole 20s There really was no boom in the orchard industry during the 1920s before the war and we had been the third largest food producing area in the province.

Unknown Speaker 9:48
But this wasn't true after in the 20s. There really was overproduction and low prices for the fruit industry throughout the whole province. It was a bad period for fruit throughout the whole province and The worst it's all spring. It because our local farmers here simply couldn't produce couldn't compete with the big boys in the Okanagan, who survived this better than we do. So that you're going to kind of yo yo are up and down sort of the local farm economy, it seems to me in this period from well 1914 or 18, down to 1939. And I think the history of two Island organizations that were of interest to farmers may reflect this. And I'd like to say a word about the farmers Institute and another body, what we call the farmers Institute, and the Saltspring Island Development Association Act, which was the body that I got that note from there had, you know, been to farm organizations before the war. That was the island agriculture and fruit growers association with put on fair, fall fair. And then there was a farmers institute that carried out an educational program for farmers. These two organizations finally had to join, I think the I think the initiative really came in the government who sponsored both of these, but in any case in whatever it was February of 1980, in the boards of directors, these two bodies got together, and they decided to amalgamate and they amalgamate just one year, and they continued to decide to amalgamate for one year, right on through until 1928 1928, they finally decide to join on a regular basis. They call themselves the island's agriculture and fruit Growers Association and farmers Institute. That's a good bit to read out every time we do the minutes. But anyway, they just joined the names there. And the but the farmers Institute had in fact closed its books back in 1918, the minute stop in the farmers Institute book, the minute stop and 1918. And in 1918, they had to turn the money over to the other body. So that really had only just been the one combined farmers organization in the 1920s. It wasn't until 1937, another decade later, that this sort of struggling, amalgamated body changed its name to the name that it still has, which is the islands farmers Institute. Now this buddy had a rough time of it in the 20s, even during the prosperous years, they never did reach a membership level of the pre war here, there was 157 back end and the 19. And whatever was about 10, or something like that, their best year after the war was 1923 was not a very good year on Saltspring. And I don't quite get the correlation between membership and prosperity. But anyway, they're under 23 and 1923 dropped to 77 and 1928 to 32 and 1930 and was down to 20 and 1932. So that the farmers organization, I think was reflecting upon the difficulty of agriculture in this period. Slow low or both membership and finances of the fall fair had to be cancelled in 1930, and again in 1932. Now the other major Island organization I want to do allude to was the Saltspring Island Development Association. They had been a predecessor to that body called the Gulf Islands, Board of Trade. Farmers were represented on this Development Association and its concerns included concerns that were those of the farmer after all, a lot of people in Salford were farmers. And this was a, an island wide organization. They were concerned with better steamer services, better CPR steamer services, partly so that people could spread to the outer island, which ship the cream to the Creamery and Ganges more rapidly. But oh oil farmers had an interest in better steam or service. They were interested in repair of the wars pack of the Ganges work was in bad shape. Back in this period in the 20s. They were concerned with a better male service and a Dorothy James has told us that as they expanded that business in the seed business in the 1920s to a worldwide it became more and more difficult to do because of the sort of erratic mail servers poor mail service that they had on the island. So these are things that the farmers were concerned with this sort of proto Chamber of Commerce, I call it thing but it but it operated in fits and starts and other was organized in 1926. And then a couple of years, the minute book goes blank, and then it's reorganized again. And it operates a couple of years and the minute book goes blank. And the last reincarnation in a period we're talking about was in 1939 when Gavin Mowat and some others were interested in pushing for a Vesuvius Croston ferry and this was a vehicle he actually became president of the association at that time. And I don't know what farm has benefited from this, how much they benefited from this, the minute books tell you a lot. They did back a successful application by Mr. Stewart who had a farm down They're at the bottom of Stuart Road, an application in 1931, during the depression for Saltspring Island stall, at the Victoria city mark. What came of that? I really don't know, I don't have any record on that. But at least they did get this stall and presumably operated for a while. There's one thing that I doubt a theory is concerned with major turning points to the golf course down here in 1927 1928. But here is an organization. That was fitful existence serving the farmers. But the lack of any real drive and momentum does against being an independent decision suggests that these were not easy times. And what I want to do now is take a period from 19 at the end of the mid 20s. And say, just a few words about that. And then from there to the depression, and then the depression along these three things. The period from 18 to 24. Evidently was a very tough time. It's it was tough worldwide. It's also tough on the islands here, JC Lange, who had the Fernwood farm, which is that direction, the big firm wood farm, kept a diary he also kept the thing he called a logbook, and he referred to 1919 and 1920 1921 were all very poor fruit years on Saltspring island. He also records that 1922 1924 2526 Were all drought years drought, and very hot in the summertime. And Dorothy James has told us at one of these earlier meetings about the terrible drought terrible hot summers in the early 20s. there when the shallow dug wells that departments at that time went dry in their head to home or water from the legs. So these apparently were very difficult years, Jessie bond whose name is from a you know, one of the one of the dilemmas and talking about local history between us is that for newcomers like myself, name dropping doesn't mean a lot. In other words, I can tell you that Jesse bond at this time tried to make a go with his sediment land. But if you're a newcomer like me, just by me, I mean a word to you. This is one of the problems when you're talking about local history. They were an audience, you know. And what does it mean if you don't know where the farm was located, but Jesse bond is a well known name on the island because he was one of the Bullock's boys. And he later on became a very prominent to sort of truck farm as I understand it, here on the island. And he started out after the war that this period we're talking about, with a grant of land but he couldn't make a go and he had to abandon it in the mid 20s. He went along. He later back in the 30s got back into farming again. But he didn't make it. I understand Ruth Hynek, he's falling paint onto the island after the war and foreign from here at Central on down the Mowbray in other words on the south side of the road here for about 567 years. And he also gave up and moved on. So that you can cite various people to Norman Wilson, who was farming the family farm here are the golf courses. He actually gave up the 1917 during the war and leased it to the James seat people. And then later on, not too long after they vacated the property in 1922. He turned around and leased it to the Golf Club in 1928 for 10 years. So people were beaten retrying and giving up in these years. Farming. John Hepburn who had a farm down there with a square silo is as you go out if you don't want to be reappointed rode his he had a dairy farm bear that he started before the war and was selling produce market in Victoria, a bow and his barn burned down in 1926 Leaving that square silo standing there. The family he pretty much gave up on farming because they said the profit just going out of it for them. So that is a good bit of evidence. That was a tough go in the early 20s environment here on Saltspring. Now, I'd like to move to the to the mid 20s This this the more prosperous period and thank goodness there are a few other a few things you can say here about success and farming about prosperity. I mentioned the dairy industry I relish I think special case and I wish I knew more about all these things. Mind you, I'm really just getting started in this. But I understand that the AJ Smith dairy AJ Smith had bought up the Norton property down here, sort of above the hospital. Lovely property there. He bought that property he had a wonderful Jersey herd to pedigree Jersey herd just before the war he came up NATO

Unknown Speaker 19:45
actually in Africa, South Africa and lovely Jersey herd there and as I understand the random milk route through the 20s in supply and I suppose a lot of the non farm population of the Ganges harbor this area here with milk During the two I believe He died about 1934 But there was a very successful dairy farmer a very fine herd. Back in the 1920s most most dairy farmers on the island and I think most traded farmers is really almost all the other dairy farmers actually didn't show mill they they separated their milk, you know, they separate the cream out at home with a hand separating those and then they put the cream in the in the spring to cool. And then every two days it was carried up to the creamer here in Ganges produced butter here that was but most of the farmers did. And this was the big dairy operation in the 1920s. I guess one of the bigger operators was the were the price brothers who had the farm and Moorside farm down there just for you down, you know, leaves Hill, they put a hidden out of sight there, to the left and down. That path is one of the big dairy farms in the 1920s. And most people have maybe had two, three, maybe up to seven or eight cows in a very big operation. But there were lots of them. Maybe 135 farmers in the mid 20s that were selling cream to the Ganges Creamery. Now some of those were on the outer islands, they weren't all some of Saltspring they were shipping premium steamer. So that was pretty big operation. The company actually in this period of prosperity was reorganized and doubled its capital to $10,000 and was doing very well producing about 135,000 pounds of water a year. Say that again, 135,000 pounds of butter a year, which is pretty good production. And they in the mid 20s were paying 6% dividend to the farmers who had chairs in this coop. So this was a pretty good period for the dairy industry in the mid 20s. The mid 20s also the period when the James seed company moved its operation from the here at the Wilson farm up to JC lanes firm wind farm up there with firm wood wharf and it's when they expand it into a worldwide mail order seed business. And we're also shipping off a lot of produce to Vancouver and we've heard that story here before. I'd like to mention this this trip or other successful operations of the period of the 20s mid 20s WT Berkat WT Berkat I guess I mentioned Yeah, the 40 acres of the old Molad farm on Trip road to the other side of the lake down there. And then his specialty was raising purebred Berkshire homes. This was a thing he was into. He also had some good Jersey cows I have a lot of good Jersey cows you know I guess both had some fine Jersey cows. And I did say there's more but they don't necessarily show up on the records. But he had one cow that produced 496 pounds of butter fat in the year testing out at 9.2% Now 9.2% is light cream you know they had a wonderful this wonderful cows long who weren't conscious or self conscious about cholesterol. Birkenhead a few crossbred us who have some sheep here, but they moved up to the parsonage up here where they kept the Reverend Poppins grass mowed for him. I don't think he made much money on it, but they had two useful social functions here in the neighborhood. And one of the interesting little enterprises of the 20s was the Ganges cooperative gem factory. Down on Hereford Avenue, operated by Mr. Samore. I don't know anything more about this man set the name. Shares in this cooperative enterprise cost 25 cents apiece. The factory bought a surplus and lower grade fruit, tree fruits and things like that also strawberries, and they shipped it often for pound tins. This operation in the mid 20s lasted until 19 Starting in 2001, and it lasted until 1929. I don't really know when it went out of business but its property was put up for sale. In 1929. Ruth Heineken tells me the David Spencer store in Victoria offered to buy all the production of the jam factory if he was allowed the market is under the Spencer name. But as he's independent, I don't lose wouldn't do that. And maybe maybe that's the reason why it went under. Let me 20 was also a period of prosperity for the pope dreamin of Percy louder on Ganges harbor had gotten him a small business he advertised in the annual Fall fair catalog, his white one breeding stock and salted here locally but one of the big breeding breeding operation was the chaplain and Oswald operation that over fish were down in the Vesuvius there They had a rather well known bar rock, pedigreed bar dropper, and they were selling breeding stock all over the world. I don't know how much I had no figures at all the volume of it. But they were selling the England and Japan. And all over the place. In 1921, the Sydney review showed a picture of one of their hands Canada's highest producing hand for 1923 380 days. I didn't know this is the information that Sue gave me and I haven't really checked that. I suspect it was the highest in Canada for maybe barred rocks or something. I can't imagine it was the highest. That wouldn't be very high production for like more than him. But anyway, there it wasn't the front page of the Sydney view when I started Green Island chickens. There were a couple of other poultry operations that were beginning to become important in the 1920s that I want to talk about later on. One is that a pole beyond and chandeliers sisters up this way. And the other one is the Parsons operation. Man So row, I got to watch where I'm pointing around here, but my wife didn't make any difference to her because these none of them have any geographic significance. No, I mean, the suit me is that direct. This to get back to what I'm talking about. The other person that I want to come back to that because they became that special department became very important. And the last thing I want to do in this period of the 20s is talk about the Musgrave not me. So I've kind of interested in this Musgrave mountain settlement. I think it's interesting and I don't far lie. Oh, it's stories never been told. So I'd like to try to just piece together the elements of it here. If you did get in there just before the war, but especially after the war and the blossoming of what I call a fragile community over on the west side of Musgrave mountain. It's hard to hard for me anyway, as I drive it I did a couple of Sundays ago. drive over that wilderness there on the far side and Musgrave is now being transformed into residential estates. You can't see anything, we can see the driveways in the keep out signs as you drive along. It's hard to believe this was a home in the 1920s to as many as 25 farm families over in their prospers would hard to be the word for them. But the mere fact of their existence speaks to the optimistic spirit of the period and the desire of people that is now to live on the West Coast. Back in the 19th century. The first Pembury brothers, I think there were three of them three or four. And then Edward Musgrave, that Irish gentleman won't property for about 10 years. And then after 92 Captain trench who was a Boer War veteran. These were the big landowners and they owned almost the whole mountain over there. On both sides clear down, Bob ate them and tells me clear right down to the farm part of where you're going Valley. Over on the far side down with the water. There were orchards and the Republican fields that grew out root crops and things like that. And then up on the mountain, they kept sheep roughly 1000 Some a little over 1000 sheep up on Musgrave mountain. Captain trenches sons actually carry this operation on before the war. This this property of the Musgrave trench property as it was for good many years was by far the most valuable foreign property for the taxman. If you look at the tax rolls, in 1915, this trench property was valued at $30,000. You know, a lot of Saltspring farm were valued at about 600 or 800, or 1000, or something like that. So the for the tax man who was great. And maybe that's the reason why the trench brothers left most of the mountain go back for taxes to the government. When you get down towards World War One, I don't know me I'm shaky on a chronology that I'd have to check with. But in any case, before World War Two people begin to homestead on that land and had been part of that big state. So that landed, with reverting back to the government then been taken up again by homesteaders

Unknown Speaker 29:16
one of the most successful these early homesteaders was Edgar Brandt, true. Edgar grants, a hit made some money on his pack train in the Kootenays, apparently in the mining districts, and he established what's called the upper ranch over on the far side where the road to the Buddhist retreat bears off Main Musgrave road. This is where I understand that ranch was located. And he went off to the war but he left his ranch with his uncle Mr. Hill it's often called the hill Bradford ranch. Another early homesteader up there with George laundry, who established his sheep ranch down the road down the road being in that direction, towards the water in 1910, and if you go there down over that road day you'll see his old barn there on the left hand side as a little dilapidated and suffering from old age like all of us, but it's still there. These homesteaders these and others that I don't know the names of. Don't worry about these homesteaders. We're all sheep ranch, sheep, head sheep ranch. There wasn't enough hay and pasture on that mountainside to support dairy herds. The couch and Anita reported there were 12 No 17 families, homesteading on the mountain in 1915. At the beginning of World War 117 families up there. They incidentally reported these families didn't expect to get a good road until after the war when there was an election. That suggests something to us. Just after World War One the Smith brothers came to the mountain then they became in a way the patriarchs of the Musgrave knocking settlement. The Smith brothers in this case, Oxford educated, we're told Frank are the Walter and they settled 123 kind of one down below that the laundry ran down the mountainside down there. Frank had goats and a little cheese factory. His hobby was painting watercolor watercolors of himself, and copies of old master barely nothing original, particularly, his wife shipped off vast quantities of preserves to Victoria, and in his spare time was school teacher. So the local children, a welder who tried his luck in New Zealand came back in 20s. And he helped around with various things. But among other things, he ran the Musgrave post office because it was a post office for this community over there. In 1926, Bob Baker man's father put through the president Road, which runs across the mountain, you know, some Burgoyne validation filter, they're sort of over the Musgrave but this road but it was only a track, it wasn't really much. You these families over there were oriented the water in other words, it was a CPR ferries, over there links for the outside world. And twice a week on Mondays and Fridays, the families all moved down to the ferry dock and waited for the ferry to come in. And then they got their supplies in the mail and things of that sort shipped out their world and their meet, and so forth, just like you know, Ferry day again, geez or be reformed or any of these isolated spots around our coast here. But then the Depression came along, and during the depression, most of these families drifted away. And the Musgrave community went into a decline. Now that brings me down to the depression in 1930, more or less, and I want to discuss the Depression period. First, by carrying on this Musgrave story, it seems to me the easy way is to just go on to this most great story and let it declined a little further, and then move on to other aspects of the Depression. Head your Branford who had been one of the more successful of these people abandoned his sheep farm during the read the beginning of depression, the upper ranch about 1930 And he went down to the bottom there and bought one of the trench brother farms another one of the houses down there and the farm with it. This was Edgar trench, his property was about a 400 acre farm down there, above the land north or whatever it is West. The most grave landing down there might have been 70 acres cultivated a lot of the yields for sheep run and things like that. But he brought that up and live there but if you only live for a year, he died in 1934. His air lived in India. And so this only really good farm over there are ran down during the late 30s and in the 40s. And then after the war are really just at the end of the war. Brigadier General Myles Smeaton bought up this property and restored the house and to some extent restored the farm operations on a limited scale for a while the Clive trench property the other brother, which I understand is nearly landing and never was much of a farm. This one was brought up in 1937 by John Kellogg. John Kellogg came from Lake Forest, Illinois, I believe, and I'm told no relevant role with cornflakes people. His his wife was a was a daughter of a World War One aviator Billy Mitchell, and I guess she had the money. Anyway, they bought this property after the summer home. They're the laundry family who's partly you know of interest because there still isn't as laundry living down at the Burdwan valley there. The laundry family gave him their sheep ranch in 1937. And they moved down to the valley so that the children can go to school I read on it says it wasn't because of depression that they moved away. But it was simply so that she and her brother were more children maybe could To go to proper screws, this 1937 Certainly by 1937 years old the other farm fam, not all but nearly all the other farm family had moved away a thing of the past with the Sunday picnics they all used to enjoy together down by the water, the CPR ferries and stop calling years before that you 1437 30 Please stop. And Walter Smith now had to actually go around the Burgoyne and pick up the mail that came down the Ganges I guess. And then he carried it back and took it up to the mountain and that will post officer I guess or transmit its home. I'm not absolutely sure every detail doesn't matter. But anyway, they pretty well. disintegrate into community. One of the group of Japanese began cutting tall trees for worth pilings in 1929. They were making these big, you know, cutting the big piles 60 under feet long to drive in, sort of work piling up. Some of the names of these Japanese incidentally are recorded in the in the post office records of the beginning must be post offices or they haven't they archive down here. You'll see some of those Japanese because they recorded you know parcels that were sent out and things like that. And when the few brothers this the same period about 1930 When Branford moved down the trench plate, the few brothers moved in and started logging up on the on the mountain there. So that in other words after about 1930 activity on the mountain shifted from farming the logging. Though they were getting too old the farm the Smith brothers stayed on until after the war. And Frank at least so Bob Aikman tells me profited from these logging opportunity Iranian activities by picking up some of the old abandoned farms and sowing timber. As I think about the demise of this disintegration of this community, during the Depression, I think of what Ted Brown and Neil Manson and I guess I was involved in that program, what they told us about the disintegration of the cranberry district as a community. This was happening in the Depression, it was pretty tough. Other areas like Vesuvius through Titanic, he told me that almost everybody went home, whether that was some back England left, that Vesuvius was sort of vacated during the Depression here, so that not only were communities this way, affected that nearly every line of agriculture has seen me on the island has dealt a crippling blow. The creamery dividend of 1934 was only 3%. Just half that in 1926. The thriving poultry export businesses Chaplain allows all the services sold Chaplain went back to England and I don't know where Oswald went to a marine McLennan on his share the old family farm down beaver Point Road married until it's about this. It was forced out on the chicken business in 1935. When eggs dropped 12 cents a dozen. He moved over to Duncan, members of the salt bridge sheep Breeders Association. So all the prophets who had a sheep grazing when got down to $2 A hit the lands might Gize farmed at that farm they're down halfway down the valley or whatever. Gave up went full time with the forestry service I believe in the mid 30s. Apple prices in the 30s dropped so low that a lot of them were just left to rot on the trees. And even in the 20s A Myrtle Holloman says that she saw when she came back to visitor grandmother, that she saw apples being just left to rot on the trees. Because when the cost of shipping them in the boxes and everything is worth more than the fruit is there's not much incentive to carry on.

Unknown Speaker 38:51
There's a lot of testimony in the depression of the fact that fruit is just allowed to just let go. And there seems to have been some market for apples all the way through for juice and sauce and things of that sort. And people that sold apples that way and didn't get much for them generally sold them in bags rather than in boxes, cheaper way to package them. Of course, one of the problems is fruit trees don't just stop burying because it's a depression somewheres so here are these orchards where and I must say I have to admire the tenacity of a few people and I think I'm right in saying Johnny Paton burger down there next Heracles might have been one of them. J H monk who was next on the kind of you know, west along the shore down there had a nice orchard dating back before World War One. I believe that orchard was kept up but through these years, I think Charles that has maybe kept up the bedsore trip during this period. And I guess Mary England and her husband, she has a husband and was divorced they had another and I believe they kept up the that orchard to until after the war so that some of these orchards are kept up through these very difficult times. but a lot of them have since then went out and a lot of the sort of orchards, people who weren't primarily orchards, or went out of production. The logging that supported many of farmers income in the 20s had come in and most places gone by the 1930s. It's indicative of the farmers plight that not only did fringe areas like Musgrave in the cranberry decline, but even favorite areas favorite areas like this saw a decline on a lot of families giving up the struggle. It was interesting to note that the number of farmers on the Ganges area voters list dropped to 91 in 1933, to 72 in 1937. But despite this litany of troubles, those who stuck with it, those who stuck with it survived the depression surprisingly well. And you do get a good bit of testimony. That bad has times where people didn't really starve to death on Saltspring island during the Depression. And I think just simply because so many farm operations on this island were small, self sufficient operations that didn't depend on selling things for cash in order to survive. There was apparently almost no money in circulation at all during the Depression. But apparently, usually food on the table. But what you didn't grow or hunt Ruth Hynek, you said you didn't need but you didn't grow right You didn't need. And Johnny Bennett said people lived off the gardens in the bush. Reverend Wilson, you know, it said back in 1895, every farmer had a butcher shop and his back door deer and brows and things like that. I think this was never truer than during the Depression. They lived off that butcher shop at the back door. And then another I think very important thing. The monthly Creamery check kept a lot of people going during the Depression. Not an awful lot, but it gave them a little cash that came in about the only catch a lot of them had the creamery operation slowed down and farmers went out of business and so on in the 30s, and in the 40s. But it didn't actually collapse until 1957. The Ganges Creamery closed down in the 1957. And then another Lifesaver was the generosity of the island merchants, boats and the trading company in Dallas and people like that, who was I understand that kept a good many families afloat during the depression on credit. People tend to grant up credit up to $2,000. I've seen that failure, which was a lot of money in those days. And this was a big help. But not everyone, not everyone was in such desperate straits. And I'd like to mention two family businesses, both chicken farms that actually expanded during the depression years and on beyond that. And once that of the Chandeleur children suffer net Braun road there, downs of the Chandler children, not a very big operation may be in dollar terms. But I think one of exceptional human and first because of the adversity that that family had to overcome through their many years. And just for the fact that Seimone chaton, who came to this island in 1910, is still selling eggs, as I understand it, up there from her farm is really an exceptional operation. Change we farm, the other chicken farm, the Parsons ranch actually began before World War One. But it became a big business in the 30s and 40s 50s. It became one of the most important farm operations on the island, so that they

Unknown Speaker 43:39
bear with me. I'd like to sit down about these two. And here's the chandeliers story as I understand it. How many of you met or know or didn't know the chandelier family?

Unknown Speaker 43:57
Several of you. I think I did once go back there but I really don't know really know these people. I'm relying on what I've been told about them. Francois Shannon, Shannon Liu was an accountant for one of the big department stores in Paris Beaumarchais. And he came over here with his family in 1910. because his wife had TB, his wife name was called Myra or Paul near his wife had TB and he wanted to find better air. And so he came over with his two twin daughters C mon Impala, and a son John. And with that family of four came, the wife Tom here is Brother Paul Beale, or beyond probably the way to pronounce it beyond and his wife Maria so that this group came over from Paris in 1910. And Paul bought a farm on that brown road for mr. F brown up there but 168 Because the guest was and they started out with a little mix farm operation where everybody does when they came here. And then tragedy struck palmier Mrs. shondo died of TB in 1911. This parent it was a shattering experience for her and salsa. I mean, after all, if you were a Frenchman from Paris transplanted on Deaf brown road, I don't think it take a lot to be shattering. But anyway, this was a shattering experience for him. He moved over to Vancouver and worked there for a while and then he moved down to San Francisco live down there. The crash in 1929. The good death, the word came in 1914, of course, and Paul who was the other man on the farm, Paul went off to war and was in France was a captain in the French army. So for years, young John champloo, fall in the solid down to San Francisco. So there you have Murray in the girls trying to cope. And then in 1960 in another tragedy, Pollock was stricken with polio. I think the same epidemic that crippled Gilbert mo Kochi was several of them at that period came to me at least half a dozen I think that I've seen record came down with the Shamu sisters, who primarily see Mom was at poker. were raised by the aunt Marie and after war Uncle Paul to on his return from the war Paul had great dreams. I'm told of importing from France, breeding stock of the popular popular in France anyway, you killed a chicken called salmon farmer, all salmon fogger. All rather pretty bird, big meat birds. And then purely already, as a few others like it. They have five toes more strings at 452 Chicken. Anyway, he was going to have these lovely friends, meat birds and go into business a big way. But for reasons that I don't know, it didn't work out, but he laid on Leghorn hens, and I had maybe 1000 birds, I believe, after World War One, quite a good big poultry operation, selling his eggs, demote brothers down here. So that they got into the business end of the chicken business back there in the 20s. Now, let me catch up to him a narrative here. Then we get to the 30s. Francois and his son, John returned from San Francisco when the crash came aboard little property as I understand it next to the Beyond farm, and live there for a few years after the crash. Paul beyond died in 1938. This left Simone and her sister call out to get the accounting and John Ray to do the farmer kind of impression falsify any farm work, particularly John has told had a delivery truck and did a lot of deliveries to the moment people. And I guess he took a lot of dress chickens and things like that the restaurants and hotels down in Victoria. So they were doing a pretty good business in in meat birds and also selling A's. And back here in the late 30s, by the end of the Depression totaled up to 1000 Birds again. So it's getting to be a pretty big operation. By this time. Let me just continue this father Francoise died in 66. John died in 69. And the business had to be scaled down. Because it really just left Cmon to do work, or system being crippled and wheelchair. The production of meat birds, which she was selling to neighbors, and people stopped all together in 1986. But Simone in her mid 80s Well, I think 86 now is I am told the last time who still keeping a few chickens and selling a few eggs. I think it's for me an inspiring story. You know, it's a story of tenacity of loyalty to the business, love of the farm. Loyalty, the customers things of that sort. Business has been there for over 70 years. Not a big business, but it's an interesting sort of aspect of Saltspring history. Now I can give you the personal story, and I know you'll be glad I pretty quickly but it's an interesting story too, because the Parsons chickens rant was really big business back in the 30s and 40s. It lacks the elements of personal tragedy, but to shine Lee's story has but I think it's just a good straightforward account of hard work. A good business judgment, expansion and success. Ted Parson How many of you knew Ted I think a lot of you sure, you're just too lazy to lazy raise your hand. Ted Ted Parsons was was actually born in Bristol, England on the day before Christmas 1885. And he came over to Victoria with his parents when he was four years old. And in 1911, still was a bachelor. He came over with his father in law and set up farming a man cell road up here bought 160 acres of I guess proxy du jour Broadwell it and earlier. But anyway, he and his stepfather actually Mr. Fletcher bought this farm there. Ted married his first wife, Ruby in 1912. And they set to work and they established a mix farm they cleared, you know, trees and did all the usual things that you do when you start farming on Saltspring Island. And he was busy with that, and his father was busy with the chicken business. When his father or a stepfather died in 1928, Ted took over the chicken business, which he had been building up ever since 1911. Mr. Fletcher was active in the poultry Association before the war during the war. And he showed birds at the annual Fall fair, he was an officer, I think one or two other farmers organization, and quite active in all this, but he died in 1928. And then that Ted took it over. And as soon after that, that it really began to expand in 19. In the early 30s. I don't have a date for this. But in the early 30s. Anyway, Ted Sun Gorham went into business with him full time as a partner. And between them, they really developed a big operation there by the end of the 30s. And I'm not sure just when they had 4000 laying hens 4000 laying their operation man cell wrote the raise their own breeding stock. They had eight 500 AG incubators, and they hatch three batches of chicks every spring. Now my math is good. And I know my math isn't but it might be good for this one. They set 12,000 eggs every spring. That's a lot of chicks. The chicks were raised big brooder houses with some rooms attached he tells me the young crop grows and you know, like corn crop was aren't worth much. But anyway, the young cop rolls in the retired old hands. They kept them two years young cop was in the retired old hands. They're sold with Old China under the name of Lee who came over with a truck from Victoria picked up these things He also bought from the chandeliers. You know they're stuck up there. And he came over pick this up. The person has figured to make enough by selling the young crop bills and the old hens to pay for raising the poet's seed was purchased from mode brothers Gordon tells me up to 20 tons a month. And in the 20s and early 30s the eggs and plenty early 30s The H ra sold two remotes most kept a full time employee to great and candle eggs. And I get the impression all the big eight producers Bob price was another one I'm told probably sold their true hearts I know the Beyonds so h remotes to

Unknown Speaker 52:43
it was in the midst of the depression in the mid 30s that Ted and Gordon made what was to be a very wise business decision. They established a relationship with a big commercial hatchery, runC and cendol in Langley, and from this time on so moved almost all their eggs at a premium as hatchery eggs, centering the calls only excuse me, sending the calls only to the moments at calls in this case being the wrong shape or size or color or something. Not that sort of bad egg they just weren't suitable for hatching I sold this note. At this time when they tied up with this big hatchery over in Langley. They stopped keeping their own breeding stock, and instead got six pull chicks from the hatchery and raised them so they didn't have to raise their own stocking caps their own eggs, Gordon says he can't currently recall ever paying anything for these at the hatchery descend anyway, six boats or they can keep their flock going. By the end of the Depression. The persons were selling 40 cases of hatchery eggs a week to Langley about 50 cents a dozen 30 dozen, of course to a crate. So it's big business, and maybe five or six calls to the most. In 1946, this highly successful business was turned over entirely by Ted to his son Gordon. And he continued it into the mid 50s. And then he sold out. And I understand it read down. I want to just a wee bit more that the business successes were really very few and far between I liked to hear about, you know the Parsons operation than anything else that succeeded. But I think that the overall impression we have to leave is that successes and depression were few and part of the team at that promotion stuck it out in farming. It was still farming business the hard way. But there's an important point. There's an important point that I think it's got to be made. Because there's lots of testimony to the fact that families have struggled to survive. And as Bob does in some interview or something that he gave one time said didn't have to bits to rub between their fingers. The family still didn't feel poor. I remember Mrs. Samson in a tape makes that same remark. You know, we didn't have anything but we didn't feel poor. I don't feel to sorry, in a way for these people here, they didn't have much money, but that's all right. They enjoyed the kindness Island lifestyle and they had food on the table. And this lifestyle didn't depend really all together on money fact not much on money during the Depression. Of course, it didn't take much money in the 30s. When cigarettes cost 10 cents a package and gasoline costs 25 cents a gallon. Would you send out a 95 cent sheet instead of $1.49. It wasn't as expensive to live but there was very little money in circulation. They had food, their sports, they had picnics. They had cornrows on the beach, Mary England says dances, all kinds of family celebration. In other words, life wasn't that bad. In fact, like might have been quite nice. We didn't feel hard done by marrying them told me and I don't send too much bitterness and Ruth Hi Nikki's childhood memories of a very spartan life on the good rich place over there. The subarea her father was a badly wounded were one veteran who had a $7 a month military pension and he really wasn't able to farm. It's certainly true that summer visitors such as those who came to armored Smith cabins on Musgrave mountain, but he had summer cabins up there or came to Mr. Burkett Fish Camp over here on the St. Mary's Lake. He got people from California and New York all over the place. And these summer visitors came in here and they thought you know like we do that salt things wonderful place to live. But Mr. Burkett, you know, his reply to these people was true, true. No. We do have a wonderful life and they all relax the money and time to enjoy. Maybe that's true of some of us. I'm not sure. Sponsoring men and now could be a wonderful place though. For most families as I've tried to suggest the material rewards are not great. It isn't a way a melancholy thing to travel about the island and see old farms that have gone back to Bush and Old Orchard was trees covered with moss. And I wanted to conclude these remarks by passing along some comments of brigadier general Smeaton settling in at the bus great place after World War Two. I keep mine Smeaton it's hard for us young folks. Remember that is 50 years closer to these events. I'm talking about them we are now in 1993. So this is a sort of contemporary reaction here. I quote this little bit from our first Ram we also found on salt bare earth grams after you know setting up little sheep business. The notes of course you knew all about the sheep on the island told us about this rambling, good old farmer who was going to keep sheep no longer barrel and that's his wife barrel and I drove over the hill in the truck and found the farm up and narrow lane. With the fence rails on each side buried in Bramble and Rose. The small house on the low hill in the center of his land was built on the logs that the farmer had cut from trees that he had filled. He had gradually extended the original clearing to make two or three fields and an orchard with a bush behind waiting to return when he should grow too old to battle with. At its best he had run perhaps 20 us kept a couple of breeding styles, a cow or two and some hens for the house. This he had achieved with immense labor courage and initiative. Now he was too old to battle any longer with Bramble and discipline the invading bush in any way the old age pension that made it unnecessary. The weeds and thorns grew almost unnoticed about the yard and the family and the farm buildings that he had made. Barrel night knowing a little of what it takes even to remake a place for continually humbled by the thought of all the hope and effort that must have gone into making these small farms and what little visible reward it had reaped and rested. And that's the way I'd like to end thanks very much