Salt Spring Island Archives

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Early Cowichan History

Ken Fleetwood

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Location
Media tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 126 Duration 31 min.




Unknown Speaker 0:00
I'm here to talk to you. I see some familiar faces here. I think I've known Valerie Webb most of her life. And another person that I know quite well. I used to be very friendly with when he lived. Around our way, Bob nods. And of course, I've known Joe Garner for a long, long time, and I was most interested in his talk. Jack, Lakewood is my name. I come from the hub of the universe, though it's in station of wherever God knows that. What we think today the world thinks tomorrow. I was born there. 1914. And I always counted myself been fortunate in being born in our part of the Garden of Eden. And I'm one of those odd people of Irish origin. Who believes in guardian angels. I know I have a guardian angel. He or she has helped me out of many difficult situations. Many times when my wife and I had the pleasure of giving a community for the coworking station in 1958 bases first centennial. I honored my guardian angel with the name of Bright Angel Park. Last year, at our 29 acre park. We have over 80,000 visitors this beer we will far exceed. So the Bright Angel must have been looking over our part. If the piece that we gave contains 1500 feet of river frontage as the last stand up big old growth six, seven feet old growth firm and cedar and it's very gratifying to see it so well used. But Joe's talk was more than interesting to me, because I can absolutely understand how he felt when he had lost his keys and have had to make that a gyro is down the mountainside in 1934 I worked for several months off and on around the Fulford area for a man named head off crazy. I did some falling and bucking down there. And it was a hard labor. We didn't make much money because I understand that the sawmill that is operating at that time that bought the logs with getting $15 $13 1000 for their ties. Needless to say, I did not make much money. But when the James family moved in 19 surfy from the Fernwood district to the Corfield farm in 1931. I worked a season for James Canadian seeds and a portion of the spring of 1932 and a bit of the summer of 1933. I started falling and bucking on a Japanese cruise in 1933. At the end of soup lake with a propor lumber company that has a big sawmill there. The idea was to learn Japanese and they made sure I did so that was sort of a lost cause. I went from there to a goal monitor At least down. And I don't think I made much money there, Isaac. But the Japanese knew that there was a war coming. The same as we did. We had been told years before that we have some day, we will tangle with the Nipponese. Our district has quite an interesting history. We know that our first citizens came to the district around 4000 years ago. Probably a contingent of them came down the coast. And they settled. They saw what they liked. They liked what they saw. And like Brigham Young, in 1847, when he led his Mormon band over the Wasatch Mountains and look down on the valley of the Great Salt Lake. He said, This is the place and no doubt, our first citizens said Indeed, this is the place. They had everything. When the tide was out, the table was said the bay team with fish had plenty of say. Getting back to coach in turn, to teamed with fish and the woods teamed with deer. And they lived the good life. They hadn't got the struggle for existence. And they were called the fierce coach. I am fortunate enough to speak the talks and don't not that is an advantage. No because the young people do not speak at them. They think I'm an oddity because they speak their language and I don't. I speak their language and they don't get tangled up here. Our first European settlers were in the mill Bay Area. They were to French Canadians, for instance, exchange via route three, and Gene Baptist food tray who had worked on the fort in Langley 1827. And on the fork in Victoria 1843 as a gratuity for their efforts, they each were given 100 acre grant under fur trade grant. Number one is the Hudson's Bay Company in the mill Bay Area. They were first European settlers. Mill millbay was an interesting place. It also was the site of the first whaling station on BC coast, very briefly. 1866, a man named James dos started a whaling station to process the California Green whales that were at that time was a number in the streets in the Gulf of Georgia. And in 1868, he took in as a partner an experienced whaler from San Francisco called Captain Abel Douglas. When I was on Salt Spring in 1934, I knew two brothers Verner and Abel Douglas, I rather think they were probably grand sons of that first whaling captain. The in by 1869 the whales, the whale population had been depleted. So Dawson and Douglas move their operations to cautious island

Unknown Speaker 9:57
where quail tone is now The first settlers that came into the immediate Cointrin area. Were probably those that came in 1858 to one a Batiste or Daniel was an Italian who came from Genoa, in Italy. He saw trouble arising from where he was on San Juan Island and decided to move back under the Union Jack. So it came to Cowichan Bay that year 1858 with his wife and he is 1859 Start started the first store in the coltan district as a trading post. It was built on Confirm let's reserve the first Indian reserve that you come to on the road. I remember the building when I was a small boy, it was over at an angle. It had a rather fascinating stained glass door in it. And apparently it had it been intact for probably 40 or 50 years. Could that happen now? Not a chance. That same year 1858, the first Resident priest, Father Peter Rondo, a Quebec quoi came to the district. In December of that year 1859 He built the first Catholic Church, first St. Anne's Church on Jamaican Hill, it was reputed to have been able to hold 400 people. Although by the looks of the picture, I rather doubt it. He was a very progressive man. And shortly after he came, he started clearing or had workers clear for him. What was known later as the priests Farm in 1864, when the Dr. Robert Rhone expedition came into town with some bay to work on surveys of the COVID, chum and coke soil a reverse Captain Bernie, who brought the expedition in notes in his diary that he enjoyed tobacco grown on the priests farm and wine from the grapes, in the priests, Vinyard 1864, only five years after he had come. And the the priests farm also yielded sugar beets that was able to do for the ration of sugar. Our first landed settler who bought land from the Hudson's Bay Company, you must remember that the Hudson's Bay Company in 1849, had taken over the colony of Vancouver's Island, and were instructed by the colonial government to try and induce as many settlers as possible into the this part, the southern part of the island. The Hudson's Bay Company didn't live up to their obligations. So in 1858 when the Gold Rush started, and Governor Douglas saw the possibility of there being an abundance, an overabundance of American gold seekers. He asked the colonial government to declare Vancouver Island as a crown colony. So the Hudson's Bay Company did sell land in the Saanich area, and also to a settler, a Kentish man called John Humphrey, who was indented to the Hudson's Bay Company for five years at 17 pounds a year, he bought 100 acres on bordering on cometan Lake, what is no maple Bay Road at one pound per acre, and it's always been a puzzle to me how he managed to pay for that land when he only got 17 pounds per year for five years. I knew his family quite well. He married the daughter of a former kitchen chief. And I remember being shown by his daughter, where his cabin had stood when he built it in 1858. John Humphries died in 1985. The following year 1859 A man from Derbyshire in England, came into the scene, Samuel Harris, he built our first hostelry in the code from District, the John Bull in on the shore of Cochin Bay, where the masthead restaurant now stands out from the beside the horse I thought they were our first settlers. The Harris was the first hotel man, he sold whiskey, and he also sold to the Indians and when they got drunk he would do because he was also the first constable. So he made a two way profit. settlers began to drift in and the government was paid to open the land of the coalition and germaneness valleys to settlers, which they did in 1862. August of that year. Approximately 78 prospective settlers, accompanied by the HMS Hekate, who worshiped station in in the Square Mall and also accompanied by Governor Douglas landed at the mouth of the Cowichan. River. Those prospective settlers that took up law lot. They drew lumps for the land, half of them to the north of the river, half of them to the south of the river. A man named James Mearns from Montrose and Scotland took up the land where favorite farm is no. And WC Duncan, who gave Duncan its name took up 100 acre grant a mile south of the pier at Cochin Bay. However, he left and went to the gold diggings and didn't come back until 1864 found out that his land had been usurped by somebody else told that there was land available north of the river and took 100 acres of ground that comprises most of downtown Duncan. Shortly after, he took that land up. Welshman David Evans took another 100 acre grant and that comprises most of the northern part of Duncan and part of the municipality. David Evans and ourselves

Unknown Speaker 19:58
he his A great great grandchildren are our great great grandchildren also. We have three great great grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. Duncan isset II was nothing but a small agricultural Hamlet when the railroad came through, the last fight was driven in on August the 13th 1886. You've probably heard of the story of how the approximately 202,000 settlers gathered at Mr. Duncan's Cattle Crossing, paid Robert Dunn's near the builder of the railroad who had with him Sir John A Macdonald, who had driven the last bite at cliffside five miles south of Shawnigan Lake completing the display Malta's enable railway and they asked for a station at Mr. Duncan's Castle crossing. After the celebration was over, and the train was just steaming out to the north to Nanaimo and Wellington Dunsmuir is reputed to have said in with his Scottish accent, I boys, you'll get there safe. He kept his word. The following year, they built a state Duncan. But it wasn't until 19 or 1889, that Duncan was recognized nationally, when in October, the first of that year, a post office was established. Before that, the settlers had to go to Pelican Bay or maple Bay for their mail. Both post offices there had been established in July the first 1872 and then the following year 1873, a post office was established at someone else two miles of where Duncan is no. The railroad company had no intention of making a tone site or a tone or a settlement at Mr. Duncan's Cattle Crossing, they had designs for a town site at seminars, but hard nose Scottish scepter Archibald here the refuse refused to subdivide his acreage, his farm there, whereas William Chalmers Duncan was very amenable to that. So, AJ McKay, the surveyor for the railroad company, began in 1887, to lay out the village of Duncan's or Duncan's, as they call it in those days. And the postmark as a matter of fact, was Duncan station until 1926, when they changed it to Dunkin post offices, you know, give a national identity to a hamlet, a village, a town facility, and so many of them have disappeared nationally, now. They sleepy little town or village, agricultural village of Duncan O's. It's a existence and its prosperity and springing into the 19th century to the discovery of copper on Mount Sychar in 19, in 1896 and 97, and by 1899, a mining was in force, the six and a half million dollars worth of ore that was taken out from one sector on the various mines created Duncan so that more businesses were established there and became a focal point distribution point. And the merchants in Duncan were not satisfied with the way the revision Council of the municipality of North Cowichan, which had was established in 1873, the third oldest municipality in British Columbia, so they asked to become a city on March the fourth 1912. Duncan became a city from that time, they have never actually looked back, it Dunkin as a queer little place. It's an enclave that is comprises only 858 acres cut out of one corner of the municipality of North coalition. It can't expand any more because two and a half sides are envelope by the municipality of North collagen and one and a half sides. Why the Indian reserve summoned us reserves. I'm the I'm a director and a historian of the Gallatin Historical Society that runs the Gallatin Valley Museum in Duncan, and I'm also the Vice President of Shawnigan Lake Historical Society, as well as my wife and I both belonging to the Koch sila school Historical Society. And I'm chairman of the Fairbridge chapel Historical Society, and Secretary Treasurer of Bright Angel Provincial Park. So I generally have my time allotted for those places. I have very little spare time. And I've been asked several times to speak to your very worthy society here. And I'm very, very glad to have been able to do that today. And I'm also very glad to be able to give you my small book of poetry. I've been writing poetry for the last 73 years, I figured the other day. And it's only in the last year or so that I thought anything about bringing this out in public, however, in association No, let me go back a little further. Three years ago, the Federal Forestry Association who has their building on Burnside Road, Pacific forestry center, I believe they call it asked me if I would participate in an exhibition of wood products. And some of the items I have for instance, I have a whipsaw that belonged to the COVID brothers. What and they made lumber at Curtin station by hand in 1884, you know, what I saw was a fit down below and Tom Colvin told me that a good to good man with the right kind of timber could turn out 250 board feet in a 10 hour day. Now, I also have the saw that it is reputed to have failed. The first tree failed by a soul in the coton district. Before that, they chop the trees down and walk them into lengths with a soul, but the Colvin brothers and come a Shetland islanders had come from Colorado where they've seen the Soyuz had purchased and we're working on the farm and the hill bank valley of William forest. There sowing a tree down when John McPherson, the road foreman, at that time, came along. And he was appalled. He shook his hand to them and said, gentleman, gentleman, stop at it. Now. You split up the song. However, they didn't split a song. That was as far as we know, the beginning of the Uh, trees being failed in the coalition district with a soul. I retired for the first time in 1952 We'd had some good years of logging. And I said to me both Well, we've got enough now. We went east and picked up a new pickup waiting for us at Windsor, Ontario, when these to Prince Edward Island and all through the states and I didn't do very much till 1958 When I was invited out to Shawnigan division of nicknamed Odell to lay out blocks of timber, presumably for two months. I stayed 16 years 1956 Till I retired April 19 1972. And I was the superintendent scaler for that division and