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Murders of Salt Spring Settlers

Dr. Ruth Sandwell

Accession Number Interviewer
Date February 10, 1998 Location
Media cassette tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 136 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:02
On April 23, last year, my daughter came running upstairs because I was getting ready to go over to Victoria to a website launching party my first she came running upstairs holding the newspaper saying all your work for the last seven years, it was not totally worthless was not the meaningless directory that I thought it was. She said you're famous. And she brought up the front page of The Globe and Mail with this, with this headline, bottom line on the top web recast a century old murder. So my colleague and I, John, had created this, this website. And this was the interview that we did before to celebrate our our launching, but we never thought it would make the front pages what the Globe and Mail story was about, of course, was not just the fact of of a murder that had happened 200 years ago, but was also the fact that somebody was using the new technologies to, to present the documents. How many people here have, as they say, cruised the web, surf the net, and looked at at website. So a few of you have here. Yeah, what we had done is taken all the documents about one tiny incident that had happened on Salt Spring Island, actually three incidents, but we focus mainly on one and put all of the documents, I had, of course spent about three years just looking for historical documents about Saltspring. And these were things that I'd come across in the in the, in the process of my of my research, I'll tell you a little bit more. Well, you'll find out a little bit more about about the website. But basically what the website is, it was a medium. So we could put all kinds of documents in a way that people could access them. Basically, by clicking a button, they could look at all the documents that we had spent years trying trying to gather up and put together today. So what I'm going to do is tell you why I'm telling you this not just to try to get you to go and look at our website. So it's a bit of competition, because it records across the bottom how many people have looked at looked at the website, it's all recorded, not just to tell you that but to tell you a little bit about some of the series of three events that happened in Salt Spring Island history. As many of you know, and Mary alluded to very, very nicely there. I started work on Saltspring Island when I made us or help put together a sound archives. I did my own interviews. This was in the summer of 1990. I did a number of interviews myself, but Mary had already collected in a shoebox about another 50 interviews and Historical Society presentations. I took all those we got a grant from BC Heritage Trust, we put them all together, and then I cataloged and index them and we re recorded them and to preserve them. As a result of that research. I went on to do my PhD it was just exactly because what I found here seem to be so unusual. Not so unusual, Salzburg. But the whole history of rural Canada I felt had been so badly misunderstood by the by the historians that I still in fact think that I told them that my dissertation, most of my work ended I would hope that I would be using the oral histories for my research. As it happened I got stuck is this always happens to historians, I got stuck in the in the very earliest years of non native settlement here on the coast. So my work ended in 1891. Whereas I thought it would start in about 1900. But much of the research that idea again ended up being where I found the most sources in that early time period, which was land records. So a lot of what I've done is just put in my computer, I have a database of about 10,000 entries, all about people who lived everything about anybody who lived on this island for however shorter time between 1859 and 1891. Actually, my database was up to about eight about 1920 which is where I thought I would end originally. Okay. One of the things that I noticed so I you know, ended up doing a fairly dough, statistical analysis of certain patterns and landholding and things like that. But I came across a number of very, very interesting things in my research and one of them that really struck my attention and that also Pete, other people were very interested in this aspect of my research was about the history of violence in the community, especially in those early years. I was particularly interested in these three black murders of black men that I found that had occurred all within about an 18 month period. compared to the murder rate in Detroit, in credit, you know, it's probably about 100 times as great as that there's three people out of a community of about about 60. So it's quite a percentage of the population was was killed off. So the website that this story was about, like my talk today is going to present some of the evidence that I found about this murder a lot of it I just came across while I was looking for other for other things. A native people has, I'm sure a number of you are familiar with these murders, because they are mentioned by people like V. Hamilton and other people who wrote about Saltspring. Island. The the way that those murders have been understood is that native people killed the those were responsible for, for the for the two of those murders that are generally talked about. So my presentation today is going to be on one level, it's going to be a kind of murder investigation, I'm going to take you through some of the documents that started eroding my confidence in that explanation. And another level. However, I want to draw your attention to the to what I wanted this website to do, which has a lot to do with the way that I see history. Usually when historians do something, they start out by telling you what they're going to tell you. And then they they present all kinds of evidence that absolutely proves that their way of seeing it is a correct way. The website allows us to do something very different as I start out with a with an explanation for these murders. But what I found as I was doing my research, and what you'll find today is that the more that I learned about about about the whole murder investigation, and the more I learned about the community on Saltspring Island, the more I found contradictory evidence for for that explanation, and I'll go on and explain that in some detail is because we look at some of the sources. It's because we could use because we could reverse the logic of historical investigation, usually you start and then you've sort of closed down discussion because you prove it so completely that nobody wants to talk about it anymore. Because we were opening it up, the more we looked, the more we found questionable evidence and contradictory evidence. That was why my colleague, John lots who studies Aboriginal history, and he looked in particular at the native justice system. In colonial British Columbia during this time period, we decided to create the website to use as a teaching tool. So in fact, we have used this website, it's being used on in an ongoing sort of way at you Ubik, which is where it was first used. It's being used actually, I had an email from somebody in Denmark the other day, I don't know if I told you this, and they're wanting to use this, this as a as a teaching tool. So to take this community of Saltspring island in the colonial period, and to use it to teach about frontier America. So that was nice. We've heard from people all over the world. It's not just history students who are using this website, it's people we've had up by the day that this this appeared, we had 4000 people visiting the site, just in that single day. And since then, we've I've heard from people whose great grandparents lived on Saltspring, which I'll tell you, Bill, and oh, yeah, so it's really people find it fascinating. We've taken a lot of the historical documents and actually photographed them. So if you want to see what uh, what the the terrible notes from the trial of, of the man convicted of killing William Robinson, all of those are on there, we've transcribed most of them. With great difficulty there. Most of those historical documents, some of you know, are just terrible to read. Anyway, I'm going to begin by providing you with a brief overview of society on Saltspring. In the 19th century, I know that a lot of you are already very familiar with that. I'm going to go on from there to explore the evidence of from the trial of the man convicted in the murder of William Robinson. And then I'm going to show you some of the other evidence that was brought and was part of that conviction, I'm going to conclude I'm afraid not by proving who the murderer was in this case. But by suggesting a very different view of the community that I believe was suggested and again, not proved this, this whole website just opens up a lot more questions than it answers. It's very frustrating for as well especially for students who get extremely annoyed at us that we don't actually have the answer for them by the end of the class. But it's it's actually an excellent way and we find it an excellent way of getting students and other people to to think about how complex just trying to prove one tiny piece of evidence in history is and it really engages them and involves them in the whole process of writing history, and all the difficulties that that that that involves.

Unknown Speaker 9:53
Okay, I have a bunch of slides here we'd like To say, if I have got any of these wrong, this is what's humbling about coming to the to the place where we're you know more about this this community than I do, please, if you notice that I miss identifying slides or you have something to, you know to to to tell me please go ahead. I would be more than happy to hear about that. This obviously is salt from space. I'm sure some of you have seen this. Of course. Right, the air and the city is based on the north west side of the island. There was no permanent Aboriginal settlement on the island when the first Native non native settlers arrived in July of 1859. There were 17 of them. This is a sketch. I believe that the sketch was by every Malindi and, but I can't make out with that signature on the bottom of it is there September 3, that's a sketch of Jonathan Beggs house in 1860. Shortly after the first election on the island, the presence of fertile valleys and open park like areas on the island at that time, had prompted whether through the Aztecs settler Jonathan Bay, one of the most enthusiastic settlers to come to this island I'm sure he described his property as the best land on the Pacific coast. But not everybody agreed Ashdown Green, who surveyed much of the island in 1874 at 1875, after a particularly difficult day, trying to draw straight lines over Mount Maxwell said from the top of the mountain, I had a good view of the country in a more rocky and worthless place that would be hard to find. In fact, it is nothing except LUFS and steep ravines. He was really annoyed by the end of his survey, I read his diary and the days go on gets more and more annoyed. Of course, it wasn't just rocky soil that created problems for a lot of farmers. The trees were all often formidable impediments to settlement. This is the painting done. Can you see the people there at the bottom? This is by Arthur fellows who was on Saltspring and painted this, I think, in the late 1880s. But it may have been the early 1890s. Certainly settlers learn to deal with the trees in a number of ways. This is Charles Horrell and Joseph Nightingale cutting down a tree down in the Burgoyne Bay Area, probably here they are using this this person saw people also of course, burn down trees just to get rid of them in those early days later, the removal of trees this is mx Sparrow and Newcomb leaf. Later, the removal of trees became a profitable industry on the islands, especially in the 1940s and a quite an organized way. But by the turn of the century, people were these people are out ruining logs. And we're using the logs in a number of different ways. This is a picture from the Gulf Islanders, edited by Derek rhymer, and I'm not sure where this property is, it looks to me like well, you know, it could be adjusted

Unknown Speaker 13:31
you can see the oxen there, which probably dates it from the 1880s. And you anyway land on the island could be obtained very cheaply under homesteading system called the preemption system. What people had to do, as I'm sure some of you are aware, people could get the land for $1 an acre. They didn't have to pay for it. As soon as they moved on to it. They had to live on it for at least two years. And they had to do what they called improving it, which meant building fences, clearing land, building houses on it. And after they done that, then they were allowed to get to purchase their property for the bargain basement price of $1 an acre, most people this is a lot of what my dissertation is about is about is trying to figure out what people thought they were doing with their land and why they were doing it because most people didn't do very much with their land. A few families did the families that were most familiar with like the acronyms, the Jeyes minor store, trade deed, they did a lot but the great majority of people who took up land took took a long, long time to clear stuff and even by by the end of the century, most people it's 90% of the of the households had only cleared three acres. Yeah, people took on average 18 years from the time that they took up their land to the time that they paid for it and some people took considerably longer time. It's important to note the Salt Spring Island is now famous for being the first place west to the rock keys were in Canada where land was available under this preemption system, by just a historical accident, it became the first place this is hey, this is the acreage farm. So farming was an important part a very important part of the island economy for some families and in most people's families, it played some role. But like, as in many areas of marginal, marginal farming throughout Canada, a lot of people supplemented the farming with other with other kinds of ways of getting by not all of those ways included working for for money or wages or selling produce. This is a photograph given to me by Bob he'll of his grandfather Benjamin Lundy, upon upper Ganges really where this property really still live. Here I put this in here to show hunting, of course, hunting was a very important part of providing a certain party diet for that really surface. Work. This is, again from Bob, he'll that's a picture of Benjamin Lendy think that's Alfred Raines and I think that may be one of the baddest badasses on the right. And perhaps on the stairs as well. This one had a writing on the back. So building the Vesuvius Bay war fake t 91. So a lot of people and I found all these guys that should I should go back and identify them. I found them in the, in the accounts for the public accounts for the BC government is working on the wharf in that year. So I showed this to to, to Tom. And I was just showing us, of course, Lutz, and he was somebody who'd worked in logging. And he noticed right away that these people were wore the distinctive court boots that people who work in logging do and he was noticing their clothing as well, that those vests were things that loggers tended to to use when they were out. Calling. So he so that I like to use that that picture to show the just in that one picture. It's sort of awkward what I call occupational plurality, that diversity of occupations that people used years. This is not Saltspring Island people, but it is a picture of whaling a number of people on Saltspring due to workers wailing during that brief boom in the late late 19th century. Here's some people fishing this is over in the Fraser River, but people would come over and seasonally fish commercially, here are some people fish not so commercially, here's somebody enjoying their recreational patch of fish, collards, theory. And fishing was also of course important for people just to new diet and their daily in their daily lives. The distinctive part of Salt Spring Island history that people are often surprised to hear about is the there was a real ethnic diversity in the community in those early years. The first settlers included Europeans and and blacks and Americans who weren't black Americans. Well, the black people we're all Americans, people from Ontario, the Canadians, as they were called, disparagingly, by their and of course, mainly British people. That was the majority. Fielding spots, who was shown here was one of the first settlers to cup land in this very area, a little bit to the west of us here in about 1860, the blacks, I think most of you have probably read something about them. They came over they had moved, a lot of blacks had moved to California to get away from the slave laws in other parts of the country. When they got to California in 1857. A legal decision made them think that slavery was going to be adopted in California, at that very same time Governor James Douglas in on Vancouver Island was desperately looking for people to to come to the new colony that they had and to which nobody was, was flocking as they'd hoped. So he sent a letter of invitation down to two groups of black people who were organizing politically in San Francisco and they traveled up by ship to to Victoria, arriving on the same ship coincidentally, as the very first gold miners coming to to get gold on the Fraser River during that first gold rush. So that was 1858 when they arrived, this this is a picture it's not very clear. So this is Willis Stark, who was the son of Lewis Stark, and Sylvia Stark, and the grandson of Howard Estes. The word Just blacks are also Hawaiian people. This is the Roland family. Tom carpal has has written a book, of course, recently published on the canal because that details their relations with the Hudson's Bay and then as they were discriminated against by the American government, they weren't allowed to own land. They moved up, many of them moved up and took up lands on the Gulf Islands. John Harrison, a member of another black family, on the island, here are some sorry, this is a really bad atmosphere. Is that pushed right as far as it can go? The light switch history.

Unknown Speaker 20:57
In Focus, okay, thanks. Just that one is a very, very dark photograph. Okay. Yeah, that's too dark. These are actually some. That's pretty good. Yeah. Okay. These are some workers who were working for Henry Bullock Japanese workers. Japanese people started coming over by 1891. There, they're listed in the census, mostly single men working as as mainly in fishing, but as laborers as well. Later, by the 1920s, there were also Japanese women and families beginning to live on all the Gulf Islands. This is a map of this is pieced together from my old hundreds of different land records that I went through. This is 1863. It should be where this is. I'll show you a much, much nicer math of this later. But this is my original map. The the red there is the black settlers on the island. That's where they were living in 1863. The pencil which is the gray was British. And the sort of dark color that black is European, European people. So you can see. Just, this is 1863. This is Julia, folks. This is 1868. You can see there's more settlement down in the Burgoyne Valley. That's good. You can see there more black people focused in on that on the Vesuvius Bay area. So another another, we'll be looking at maps again, a little bit more clearly, I hope on this overhead. I put this picture in because to me, it really sums up the division of that we have of Saltspring island as a place where there were harmonious relations between blacks and whites. It's quite famous for that James Pelton. In 1954, wrote his an MA thesis about blacks in British Columbia, and Saltspring Island comes up very, very well, although there was clearly a lot of racism in Victorian in the Saanich Peninsula where blacks took up land. He argues that there was a kind of Frontier egalitarianism on Saltspring Island, and he says most of the settlers were far too busy working their lands to be concerned about complexion or differences. Crawford Killian, a few years later, went on to write his book about blacks and British Columbia go do some great thing. And he said blacks and whites could not afford to be bigoted. When a neighbor is helped meant the margin of survival, it scarcely mattered whether he were black, white, Indian, Hawaiian, or Maori. This is this is a representation of John Craven Jones, who was one of the first school teachers on the island. He's black, and Mary, have you seen this before this, this photograph or has anybody else because I got it from a newspaper, but I believe that it was it was a photograph of a mural. Okay, if you can see that writing to say without any pay for 10 years to teach school, one must be drunk or cool. John C. Jones was neither he was a teacher. And that was a tribute by the community for the work that he did. He lived on the island for about 1862 till about, I think 1885 He was actually the first person to improve his property on Saltspring Island, although he must have been pretty busy. So as B Hamilton has said in her history, there was no problem of integration on the island. The Negro people joined in all the community projects over the years working side by side with the white people. And they held responsible positions in all organizations and were very much part of the island community life and they certainly were As you can see as you go through looking at the Board of school trustees in different positions in the municipal government but although blacks black white relations are supposed to be very harmonious relations between other races, we're not quite as trouble free. This is a drawing of this is not so it's fun and this is new because sound, but the relationships between natives and non natives is also often portrayed in this early 1860 period as one of the quite extreme violence. gunboats like the foreword, which is drawn here and a sparrowhawk were brought into the Gulf into Gulf Island ports, including Ganges and Vesuvius Harbor on a number of occasions, to quell violent outbreaks by natives and on one occasion, they went and shelled an entire village on Cooper Island. In 1863, in 1864, there were five murders occurred in and around the Gulf Islands. Native people were were convicted, I think in all of those in all of the one was a Hawaiian. But anyway, the context this was has been understood by historians of British Columbia as being part of that context of conflict overland that happened is the fairtrade gateway to settlement and agriculture when white people actually came to live here rather than just to trade here with the natives. Okay, could you turn that off? I guess. I'm gonna put this on so I don't need the the lights. Okay, so the first of the three murders that I'm going to talk about, I'm only going to talk about the Soviet first one very briefly. The first murder occurred up in the stone house just off the coast a little bit. And somebody gave a very good talk to the historical society about it. He was an archaeologist, or he did an archaeological survey of the house and he's on his property, and I can't remember his name. Simon. Yeah, that is last name. Simon Hanson. Yeah. Yeah, that's right. So that he had some information about that we found the inquest for that murder. And very little was known about it. Nobody really knew. Nobody, a body was found. It was a black man. Nobody knew who he was. The press was in Victoria was appalled that that nobody really seemed to care on Salzburger. of insulting to the community about it. But nobody, nobody ever found out why he was murdered people. There were rumors about cattle rustling about Native violence, but but nothing was ever. Nothing was ever proven. The second murder, whoever the second and third murders happened quite close together. This is a page from the from the website. And this isn't a obviously this is an artist's reproduction that we asked somebody to draw so that we can put it onto the website, when really this is what William Robinson murder, you can see he was sitting on a box at a table in his windowless cabin. When somebody who had been sitting on the hearth, it seems from the gunshot wound, someone had shot and killed him. He was discovered in I think, March of 1868. When in December of that same year, Giles Curtis was murdered, the newspapers really went berserk, and just started. Well, the hope that these two events, three events, in retrospect, were really looked at and understood in terms of that context of native non native violence in the community. Out in the Gulf Islands area. Robinson was the was the black American who had come up I think, from Ohio. We found we found letters from the courts sent back to his to his wife, who was he was about according to Sylvia struck he was about to move back to Ohio at the time when he was when he was murdered. Okay, when Robinson was shot, they the inquest reported that a good double shot gun some clothes, and strangely enough, the men's books man's books were found to be missing. A bit odd when jazz Curtis just Curtis had been working for Howard SDS, who was Sylvia Stark's father, he, Giles Curtis was shot also in a secluded cabin in the same area, that same Vesuvius Bay area. There were no witnesses. And although settlers in that case noticed a smell of fish oil and reported seeing some suspicious Indians near the site, this is from the request. All of these documents are on the website, by the way, so if you have a chance, just go and look at them. No one was ever arrested. Let alone convicted for the murder of jazz Curtis. But the newspapers had no doubts about who was to blame. This is from the colonists. So Curtis had been killed at the end of December. As it says here, a Tribe of Indians are located on the island who failing any other kind of excitement murder a settler now and then by way of a change, we carry off his property to the bush, where it is secreted to the little puff of a sensation is passed, then the booty is brought out and duly divided. And there was article after article, and they're all on the website, look at them, that that are trying to understand the murders in this context of of native non native settlement. So after there was considerable pressure, also the people on Saltspring Island got together with a petition that they seen that they wanted to have a resident justice of the peace, that things were just too violent on the island, they really needed some help. And that petition is also on the website.

Unknown Speaker 31:10
So the government is under the colonial government is under increasing pressure to do something about this, about this. Oh, as I mentioned at the beginning, the more I looked at this evidence, as I did, sort of over a number of years, in fact, the less sense it began to make to me there were basically two kinds of evidence that I started to question. One was the internal what I call the internal evidence from the trial. I'll talk about that in a minute. And then there was the other kinds of evidence that I call circumstantial or community based or, or and I'll, I'll go, I'll go into some detail about that. I was first alerted to the problem with a trial by a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun that was written by William Smyth. I found out about that letter by reading the book, early days on Salt Spring Island. Can't remember the author at the moment, but it's an excellent book, reading them using the newspaper resources. Anyway, William smize, wrote a letter to the editor after he went to the trial of the of the murder about the murder of William Robinson. He claimed to have lived on Saltspring Island. Later, he went on to become premier of British Columbia. And he wrote a letter saying that he thought that the guilty verdict was a travesty of justice. He said, he said the predilections of the jury against Indians are so strong, he said that members of the jury were in consequence, quite unable to apply properly the material facts that were brought out in evidence. So he, he was a responsible member of the public and believed that there was something very wrong about the trial. So I'll just go over briefly what the some of those one of those problems with the trial, the man convicted, accused and convicted of the crime was his name is tuwana, was it? The first thing is that in terms of character references, he had actually been appointed on a couple of occasions as a Special Constable, where he lived over in Cowichan, before the murders. Secondly, he claimed and this was in his in a statement that he had to swear before the trial, which never actually came out at the trial, but which we found in another set of documents. He said that he was he was very ill with a particular disease and was unable to walk at the time of the murder. So he claimed to be ill. Later we find out that this his testimony, actually, just before he was executed, group of natives from the couch and came forward. Finally, hearing that this trial had gone on things happened a lot faster those days, came forward to provide him an alibi and said no, he was with us. He was sick, he was living with us. But the the judge said, Too bad didn't come earlier, and then killed him been executed 20 lessons the next day. Okay, so those are a couple of fairly minor points. The third point, though, was the only motive. The odd thing. One of the things about this case, the only motive that was ever put forward was about this man whose name I can't remember his name. They just gave them these kind of native name. They called him sandwich that he said that what happened was they were just canoeing along and the person said, Let's go and see that black man and pursue the spade. They got out of the canoes, and then he said, Let's kill that black man that Vesuvius Bay. And according to the informant, who went and went into the house, shot him and stole some goods. No goods were recovered. The first visit the first visit I have there, what happened to the auger? On the very first visit, Mr. Norton went over To couchant to try to find with the system remember a year after the crime had been committed, when older to Toronto, us its house intelligent and found claim to have found an auger when he was asked to present that before the judge prior to the trial, he said that he had lost it. He just dropped it in the water on the way over. That would be bad enough. But what happened to us after that right after that is down here. So the pressure is building on the government by this time they have no evidence they have they have a suspect because of this, this confession, but they have no evidence to link them. So then the justice of the peace John Morley gets a letter from from Henry crease saying Would it not be well to make a specific effort to get the dead man's gun or coat and trace some special article which can be produced in court into the prisoner's possession after the murder? Okay, so this the, the person in charge of the legal system in British Columbia writes and says, we need some more evidence. They go back again, from Saltspring, to find more evidence, and to their surprise, they find leaning up against the wall in Toronto was to toast William Robinson's axe, which somehow they had overlooked on their first visit. Anyway, a lot of the trial is you'll see if the if you look at the website, a lot of the trial is about this x wasn't in fact, William Robinson's act, so they have people in different all different types of Yes, it was his acts, I recognize that it has this special head on her. No, I don't think it is evidence on both sides. And what William Smythe wrote in his letter to the editor was, it couldn't have been William Robinson, it's x because William Robinson was left handed. And anybody who uses an axe a lot knows that it gets a certain swing to it, when you always use it if you're left handed or right handed, and the axe that was produced as evidence didn't have that. So so there are obviously some, some problems with with the evidence. Okay, with the evidence that's presented in the trial. But I'll put that aside. Okay, then there were other kinds of problems that I had with the trial. And that had to do with the community. And I just want to spend a couple of minutes talking to you about that particular in that on again. Okay. In in memoirs about about Saltspring. Island, what are the that's how it asked us in the memoirs of the of the island that when I read them, Nate, there were a lot of problems with this. With what I just did, the portrait that I just gave you about what race race relations were like on the island. When I started looking deeper into the evidence or looking at more evidence, I found a lot of contradictions, first contradiction within them. In the memoirs, when people were talking about natives and non natives this is in the early period, they did not talk about about violence and killing and suspicion. There were some incidents of fact that were written. But what we often more often than not find is that natives are described as kind and considerate neighbors, they were essential. It's quite clear from reading Memoirs of people from Jonathan bygone were really essential to trade. A lot of people could not have survived here without the natives coming in to trade food with them, but also sort of brokering different kinds of goods for them as time went on, they were very, very important to and invert, just very important to the formation of the community, the development of trade and transportation. But the

Unknown Speaker 38:52
but the most perplexing evidence I found was not in the memoirs or written what people wrote, it was actually when I went to the census, and found to my surprise, that 27% It's more than a quarter of all marriages in 1888 to 81, which is when the first census is available, with between natives and non natives. And as you can see here, a great many of the children a majority of the children were also mixed race. Now there were a few, a few black white racial mixes. But mostly it was native, non native. And of course, the there are a lot of Hawaiian mixed race marriages as well, particularly Hawaiian and native. So I started thinking, well, this is really odd, if these people are supposed to be fighting and yet here they are living together and making families and we know actually now especially for the work that Jean Berman has been doing that those families a lot of the maintain the same alliances like there were connections kept throughout through the native families and non native families. So So I'm so there's I thought, well, this is just a little bit more complicated than I thought. But of course, this is another dark side. This is the McFadden family here. There are a number of a number of families, of course on the island that were based on mixed race marriages. I also found that these marriages were not like the marriages that were characterized by Silvia van Kirk, they weren't just these temporary, transient marriages. In fact, when I did a statistical analysis of the length of people's marriages, I found that the native non native marriages were, those families stayed a lot longer on Saltspring than people who didn't didn't have mixed race marriages. This is from the 1881 census. I also saw Yeah, they stayed an average of 29 years rather than the average of 22 years that people this is from any people who appear in the 1881 census, I also found that native non native families owned about twice as much land as people who didn't have mixed race marriages. And again, this is an in 1881. So that was just interesting. It's a very different portrait than than the one say, from Sylvia van Kirk and Jennifer Brown. This is a photograph. Most of these photographs are, by the way from the archives. Thanks to Mary. This is the Isabella point school and you can see you know, the racial, the racial mix that's in here. And then this my favorite picture. This is a St. Paul's church down in Beaufort. And you can see just that, you know, very, very obviously mixed race community that there is. Okay. That I found not only. Okay, so this part of my research and thinking, Okay, I just don't understand that what I thought about natives and non native relations is really a lot more complicated than I thought. It's not just about violence or something else going on. Then I started to come across more and more evidence that said, the suggested to me that black white relations were also a lot more complicated than I thought, although historians had all decided, you know, have all declared that there was no real distinction between blacks and whites I started finding. Yeah, contrary, contradictory evidence. For example, I found first of all, in the school records, I read the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education reports, there are a number of letters written in there that hint at the racial problems inside the schools, at the north end, between problems between blacks and whites, in fact, they actually closed down the school and Vesuvius V on one occasion in order to get rid of the teacher, who they said was racist. So that in that case wasn't so much the community as somebody could come into the community that I found this letter from Arthur Walter, interesting letter across the bottom, I wish this communication to be considered strictly private that it's in the public domain. Now. The end he writes about his This is from 1885. So this is this is, you know, this is later, but he says the subject I allude to is the appointment of Mr. W. Anderson as constable which is considered by many people here decidedly hazardous and more likely to lead to breaches of the piece. And then he goes on to say that a lot of the men are refusing have said that they refuse will refuse to be arrested, by by a black man. So there's he they do go ahead and appoint him, by the way. So this letter is ignored. But this is, you know, some indication to me that, again, the situation is a little bit more complex than I thought. He was English, I believe both Arthur and well, and his brother. Yeah, they were very eminent people. Well, they were very wealthy, and they occupied some important positions. They were taxed. He was a tax collector on the island. No, it's not this is just a computer. This is the computer to trick you. I think we may have I have seen this letter. And I think it may be one of the ones that we call Pete, you know, directly onto the website.

Unknown Speaker 44:12
Because I think that was a very wise feeling.

Unknown Speaker 44:16
Yeah, it was. It certainly was. And some of that a friend of mine is just writing a history of the gold rush in the Fraser Canyon, and he talks about the influx of Americans, and how devastating that was for Native people because they were much more he argues an awful lot more racist than the British. So we don't know this is just, this is just an indication that the situation is just a little bit more more complex than I thought it was. But then we saw this a little bit in an earlier slide, but here's a much nicer I started looking at my maps again. And I started thinking well, isn't this the odd you know, everybody who writes about about Saltspring has said this definitely you No no of what we call ethnic clustering, where people from a certain race get together. And yet it's perfectly clear from this 1868 map, that all of the city state areas is owned by blacks. And all of the of the big settlement area is owned by British people. Now, we'll see some changes, you can see the booth bay area there, which is, is held by John Booth. I think that at that time, but you know, you can see that it's not absolute, but I mean, there's definitely a very important trend. I also did an analysis of who was selling their properties to whom, and I found that basically whites were selling to whites and Black was selling to blacks. Not not invariably, although it was in, in big settlement, it was all white, but there was a little bit more mixing in the other end. So then I thought, Okay, actually, what happened was, I showed this map to historian Pete Ralston. And he said, Oh, that's interesting. It's a black community there. So did you see any evidence of any, you know, any kind of problem about God? And I said, Oh, no. But then I started thinking about it. And I started going back over the newspaper articles, and I found this article written in 1865. What's happening here, and what this article was alluding to is the fact that people who lived up in big settlement weren't getting any steam or service the steam or although I know that the steamer was stopping there in the early 1860s. Because Jonathan big talks about it in one of his letters. Um, what happened was that the steamer was only stopping at Vesuvius Bay. So then I started thinking, you know, you live on an island, you live in an isolated community, there was one steamer that stops and it stops in an area where only black people so much interesting maybe that maybe the to suggest something, then I found her. So then I thought, Okay, I'm gonna go back and I'm gonna look really, really closely again at the land records and see what I can see. And yeah, so what I found. Okay, to see that map again. Anyway, when I thought okay, I better look at what exactly happened to this property. When after William Robinson died, I found a letter attached to to one of the Land Records, a concerned citizen. When William Robinson died, a concerned citizen, resigned himself, he left one of the most valuable this is what the letter said. When William Robinson died, his land went to another person called Frederick Lester and a bunch of the people on the island got together and said, we're really concerned about this. They wrote a letter to the Surveyor General and they said, when he died, he left one of the most valuable pieces of property on the island being the only place where the mailstream steamer can call it the side of the island. Aside from this, the land is worth four or $500 to anyone willing to purchase a farm. Right? So all I thought, feeling like a murder mystery writer, I thought, Okay, we've got a really good motive here. This is the most valuable piece of property on the island. And in fact, that land could not actually be sold, it had to be transferred, and it was transferred to another black person. So what I did is I did it really detailed, or tried to do really detailed study of what happened but the principal you know, who benefited Cui bono is mystery writers who benefited from this crime. So I followed a very complicated pattern. So many of them were of land transaction. So I found that he, the land was transferred from from Robinson to Frederick Lester. Frederick Lester, left, shortly after his brother was convicted of raping a woman at the at the north end of the island. It's another one of those little twists. Then I find the islands that I find April Abraham Copeland shows up as being the owner of the Vesuvius Bay property. And I know that because the government has written to him requesting permission to write to take a right of way on his property, to build the war, which is just about the same location where it is now. Then I find Escalon Jose Betancourt who many of you will will know from the island, I find that he challenges. Copeland's right to the ownership, he goes to a lawyer. He was Bittencourt was the most litigious of all the people I found on Saltspring. He was always going to lawyers, about different things, even though he was himself illiterate. Anyway, so I traced Bittencourt through a variety of land dealings. First, for me, he claims this land in the in by about 1870. Then he keeps showing up in the land records and other records to do to do with the legal system. First of all, he tries to deny the government access to the government war he Right, he has his lawyer write to them and say, you know, there's no way I never agreed to this, get your water off my property, but he loses. Later. He has a big quarrel with his brother, because his brother claims to have built his house on property that it was supposed to be Escalon Jose, so that goes to court and the property gets divided. With Escalon getting the more valuable work property and his brother getting the other one. Then Then there's their number of strange dealings But the strangest is probably so Mr. Betancourt gradually built up a small empire in the Vesuvius Bay Area and I didn't actually bring I should have brought the the overhead of Mr. Betancourt's property because he just you can see him taking up more and more property in the area. And one of the larger chunks he obtained for Moses and a happy man called Moses Mahaffey, Moses Mahaffey. And again, this is just like years of research, I keep touch, turning these people up. I happened upon the probate file for Moses Mahaffey, which was when he died, his estate was probated, which is which was odd. I didn't know at first why his estate was probated because he didn't really have any money or anything to lead. But what happened was Moses Mahaffey I found out again from another source was arrested in 1878, on an unknown charge, he goes to jail. Again, I haven't been able to find out why, but when he dies in 1879, Mr. Betancourt writes to the government to the probate people and says, just before he died, Moses Mahaffey left me or he borrowed money from me. And the money just happens to be the same amount of money is his property is just been assessed at. So the courts, and then Mr. Betancourt says, you know, his wife is just to have greed. She doesn't understand how to run an estate like this, the court agreed, and they they turned over the property to him. So he got a large chunk of my point number back, we just which one it was, but one of those properties just to the east of Vesuvius Bay, in that in that way. So gradually, Mr. Mr. Betancourt builds up this this empire around Vesuvius Bay, you buy some of the properties outright and attains others by preempt another couple of properties. His brother, his brother has been taking up land as well, his brother Manuel Antoine arrived a bit earlier on the island to the 1860s. Anyway, just to add a little bit more of a mystery to this his brother, I find, actually somebody sent me this newspaper clipping from 1881, his brother is arrested in Victoria setting fire to a to a clothing store. And he's admitted to an insane asylum in New Westminster where he died. Okay, so what do I make of all this?

Unknown Speaker 52:49
Obviously, I can tell. Obviously, Mr. Betancourt is, is, there's absolutely no evidence to link Mr. Betancourt to any of these murders there, you know, there's absolutely nothing,

Unknown Speaker 53:05
not nothing at all, although, as I say his his land dealings are not the only ones that are so complicated. And so that seems so unusual that I came across that. But obviously, I can't say that. But what I did want to draw to your to your attention, though, in the course of doing all this, you know, fairly complicated and detailed. Work, I found that whatever whatever happened, when whatever and whoever killed William Robinson, it does seem that the net effect of those murders really benefited the white community at the expense of the black community. When I did it study, again, looking at Land Records mean look at the different parts of 1868. This is a community where we can see that all black people have left that coastal area. And we know from a couple of letters that at least part of the reason for that was because of their fear of violence against them. I know that 11 Out of the 15 blacks left the Vesuvius area in the three years that followed the murder that's 6970 and 71. When I so we know that. Now when they left those areas where they weren't just giving up properties to take up some other ones, although some people did take up properties in other parts of the island, but never giving up with the advantages that so often come to the very first settlers in any area. The first usually the first people who come to any newly settled or resettled area go in, they could take up the best land, they get it really cheap, it really benefits and studies that have been done all across Canada, especially in Ontario show that if you take up a piece of land, and you hold on to it for 20 years, by that time, you'll be one of the wealthiest people in the community. And that was the same on Saltspring. So I did an analysis of the wealth using the 8092 assessment roll comparing the whites who had arrived in the 80s, the early 1860s, with the blacks who had arrived, and I found really, really big differences, I found that the blacks had their land, the whites who had arrived in those early years had twice as much land as the rest of the population who had arrived later, blacks had 60%. So they had really lost out on that advantage. Not just although one in five residents in 1891, in the 1892, assessment roll, a lot of the one in five declared personal property, none of them were black. None of the blacks were wealthy enough to own personal property of that kind. So whether they left the island or just they're valuable, but the dubious Bay lands, the early promise of success and wealth was like black community itself fragmented, after 1868. So so this is a strange kind of, you know, kind of, of history here. So, because I was sort of looking, you know, this, the question of the murder, I didn't find out in murder, but I did really get a whole different look at, you know, what may have been like indications, I guess, I should say, have a really different community dynamic. Now, at the same time, we still have all the records that we had before saying that blacks got along really well in the community, and there is evidence for that. But there's also evidence in these records, specifically in the land records to suggest a really different way of looking at the community, just as the census shows a really different view of Community Relations than say, the newspapers, just totally different. So that's really just about all I have to say, except to just to say, again, what a what a really how much. I liked this, the website and what we've done with it in showing how letting people see and work out for themselves that if you use different historical documents can point you in a different direction. And rather than, you know, shutting those all out off and blocking them out in order to provide an authoritative historical statement. Sometimes it's really good just for that, that exercise of trying to understand the complexity, the probably, you know, it's a very accurate reflection of what was going on inside the community. There were probably all kinds of different trends and different things going on in terms in terms of community relations. So I have a Yeah, be happy to answer questions.

Unknown Speaker 57:30
Before you get rid of that map. I'd like to talk briefly about cutting the newspaper clippings from the Globe and Mail. It made the suggestion that there were black settlers mentioned doesn't quite found that. But this does actually the contrary to the fact because you see the two cricket piracy survey. The ones that are league Bank settlements, right over the valley. Those were the original settlements No. 59 I think I think we're too glad some people say 70, some 90 landed on the island. And we didn't mention Australia.

Unknown Speaker 58:16
Australia story, I guess a little bit pushed, but anyway, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 58:24
Slightly predated. I was wondering if you've done any research and when those surveys happen, because I would suspect that that must have been surveyed just in theory before.

Unknown Speaker 58:40
It was done in 80. Yeah, it was done by by Tate. I can't remember his first name is James. But

Unknown Speaker 58:50
I wanted to ask you is how does that survey relate to the other way around this kind of

Unknown Speaker 58:58
this survey, the survey? Well, the surfing the surveying on Saltspring Island, was I found records from 1945, cursing, the people of Salt Spring Island because of the problems with their survey, that part of big settlement right down, you see where it says 1211 10, nine, eight there, that area that's actually colored in that was survey down to watch even further down from that by Tate and there is a copy of that survey on the maybe it's not on the website, but it certainly is some in the archives, right, Mary? Because I'm sure I got it from you didn't. Oh, did I? Yeah, it was either 1859 or 1860. was but it was very early, and then in 18. And then like what people had that it was illegal for people to survey their claims before they could preempt it. That's why Saltspring was granted the first preemptions because people had started going moving into the couch and valley and it started serving the law from Britain at that time, which James Douglas was bound by that survey, land had to be sold for a pound, an acre, not $1, not $1 an acre, which was, you know, much less than half, and it had to be sold at auction. So he really, people were really pressuring him in 1858. And especially 1859, when a lot of the miners were returning into Victoria, were pressuring him for either free land or land that they didn't have to pay for immediately, because they're saying we, you know, we can't pay for our land too, we move on to it and start working it and then when we start making money, we can pay for it. So he said, Okay, well, there's a little loophole here we will get to the people will go take people to Saltspring in parts of humaneness, which had not been surveyed, they can go and take up land, and because it's not surveyed, I don't have to charge a pound an acre. So that's why this this land was first. But know what people had to do is that they had to describe their claim it did have to be 160 acres that was supposed to be rectangular in shape. But a lot of times I found can be the chapter of my dissertation is just about the conflicts that happened over land and the number of people with competing claims and overlapping claims and all the other problems claims that people said there was no one living on and the person say yes, I was there, you just didn't find me and, and all kinds of problems that do basically to the fact that they couldn't survey their land. Right so that what they did is that they wouldn't you know, literally walk it off and and when you go and look at the preemption records, it says, well, from the giant tree just by the waterfront, about 400 paces in and then the big rock you turn left in the midst under those conditions. I've you know, I think we did extremely well, but there were a lot of problems. But But yeah, so those those that area was surveyed it was even though it's on a different grid there was surveyed, but it was surveyed by somebody who did a very poor job. And in fact, there are there is correspondence for the government about about the quality of that survey as well as Ashdown greens. Lot of complaints about him too. He did the Burgoyne belly and back settlement and Vesuvius at 74 and 75. And his beautifully drawn maps are in the surveyor General's office. I had that slide of the Burgoyne Valley

Unknown Speaker 1:02:12
settlers landed with a picture of that in their pocket to John come back No

Unknown Speaker 1:02:19
no, he they arrived tape was one of the first people who arrived and they must have pasted off he when he describes his property as he does in his letters. He seems to be quite clear about where it is. He says it extends right back he had that section nine and then he