Salt Spring Island Archives

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Denise & John Crofton

Charles Kahn interviewing Denise Crofton and her nephew John Crofton.

Date: prior to 1998 (Salt Spring: Story of an Island published 1998).

Transcription by Usha Rautenbach

Regulars in the early 1930’s

Charles Kahn:What was Mr. Ross’ first name? 

Denise Crofton:Reg, and William

Charles Kahn:Oh, there were two? Yes 

Denise Crofton:Willy, William Ross was the one who stayed at the lake one time ( s great long time?) his brother used to come and stay for a week or two.

Charles Kahn:Willy Ross was the one who worked in Hong Kong?

Denise Crofton:Yes. The other one lived in Japan most of his life I think. They were just completely different.

Charles Kahn:But Reg Ross didn’t live there, he just came occasionally? What years would that be?

Denise Crofton:Just before the war, in the early thirties, when he first came, I guess.

Charles Kahn:And was Stan Christie (sp?) at the same time?

Denise Crofton:He came a little later; they did overleap, I should imagine about five years they were staying there at the same time.

John Crofton (John Crofton):Don’t forget about Eric Springford, he was another irregular.

* Eric Springford in 1961 (carpenter:built John’s house)

(1911 census Eric Springford is a bachelor boarding with the AJ Smith and Halley household, born Mar 1893, aged 18, so by 1916 he is 23)

(Cecil Springford is a bachelor Boarder with Edward Walter and his wife, born Aug 1890, aged 20)

(Ernest Henry Stanford, is a bachelor Head of Household, born Dec 1883, aged 27, with bachelor brother William Charh??? Stanford, born Jun 1889, aged 19) 

No Percy Lowther, Ross brothers (neither Willy or Reg) or Stan Christie

Denise Crofton:Mr. Ross was quite a golfer- he used to wear plus-fours, and (Noni?) my little niece, she looked at him one day and she said, “Mr. Ross, why don’t you pull your pants down?” But he had a good sense of humour. He either liked you or he didn’t.

Charles Kahn:Were there still tents there at that time? were there tents the whole time?

John Crofton:During the thirties.

Denise Crofton:Only in the summer. Mr. Ross wasn’t there, and certainly Stan Christie (sp?), never had a tent. 

Charles Kahn:So they were inside the house. 

Denise Crofton:Yes.

Charles Kahn:But there were still tents in the summer for the other guests.

John Crofton:Until after the war, when they built the cabins.

Charles Kahn:Did any of the cabins survive?

Denise Crofton:The cabins were put up during the war. 

John Crofton:When did they start building the cabins?

Denise Crofton:Well, the first one was Dr Sutherland, she said she’d come and stay. She used to be the doctor on the island, but she’d like a cabin, so we put that cabin up, and then it led to putting up different other cabins. 

Charles Kahn:So when would that have been?

Denise Crofton:In about ‘42 I think. John, you should remember that.

John Crofton:Well, you see, I was away, in the war.

Denise Crofton:Oh.

John Crofton:I just remember them being built after the war. 

Denise Crofton:(Sorting out some Charles Kahn confusion, establishing that Dr Sutherland came to the Island 1918-1930.) Then when she retired she went to Victoria, and she wanted to come up and stay one summer with us. (That was in about 1942.)

Denise Crofton:Were you here when Dad died? 

John Crofton:Yes, I was here for that summer. We were living in ?those days? at the time, I remember him dying, when I was going to ?high? and coming over for the funeral.

Charles Kahn:So, these people who stayed there for a long period of time, did they get a special deal, for the whole thing?

Denise Crofton:Oh yes. Mr. Ross paid $60 a month, because he had one of the big best rooms in the house, that was room 12; and that included meals. And Sam paid $40 a month; when you think of it though, just over a dollar a day, for all that food and (everything). The schoolteachers we had, that’s another (kind of) guest, they paid about $30:they only got paid about $50 a month, so. . .

Charles Kahn:So who was Eric Springford? Did he come the same time?

John Crofton:When did he start?

Denise Crofton:Well he (Eric Springford) came off and on. He must have come in the twenties first of all, to stay, and then he went up to the Interior, he was a carpenter, and then came baCharles Kahn to the Island, so he stayed off and on. 

John Crofton:He was a war veteran, though, from the first war.

Charles Kahn:I guess a lot of your guests must have been repeaters, every year they came baCharles Kahn?.

Denise Crofton:Yes, the summer ones especially.

Charles Kahn:Was  it very quiet in the winter?

Denise Crofton:Yes, I think it was, really. But, you know, we had school teachers, people like that that stayed (through the winter). There was no other place to stay. 

ME:Replaced Stevens Boarding House? Granny Mouat’s?

Charles Kahn:You probably had better business then, than the people who run resorts have now.

Denise Crofton:Probably, because there wasn’t any other place to stay.

Charles Kahn:Because now, I think there’s nothing doing in the winter time.


Conventions (pre 1998)

Denise Crofton:I’m surprised at them putting on all these bedrooms, because at night I don’t see lights in the baCharles Kahn part of the house.

Charles Kahn:They might be anticipating some convention business at some point. 

John Crofton:It could be.

Charles Kahn:Weren’t they talking about building a convention centre? It’s a logical place, I mean you would think that people would want to come for a retreat here, you know, business people to Salt Spring Island.

Denise Crofton:But then, they haven’t got anything in the way of entertainment, I mean at Harrison at least they’ve got the indoor swimming pool, and dancing and all that. You’ve got to have, I would think, something to -

Charles Kahn:Of course some of these companies, they want people to work, so they’re not too keen on entertainment. 

Denise Crofton:Yes, well that’s true.

Charles Kahn:I remember when I used to work for a publishing companies, they often had their sales conferences at places like this. It was very pleasant, but boy, did they ever work you hard, because there was nothing else to do. There might be some tennis courts out there, but I never got a chance to use them! Because I was so bust working; they’d have sessions in the evening, and you’d start right in the morning, and then sessions in the evening, so the whole day was gone. ...


So this Stan Christie, he seems to be the most interesting of the lot, eh?.

Denise Crofton:Well, he was really. Can you describe Stan Christie? He was very short, and had these great big eyes. He was very clever at fixing things, and in the winter when he couldn’t play golf he used to go round and fix chairs, and cloCharles Kahns and everything else. 

John Crofton:He was also great for entertaining the guests, you know, and all that sort of thing. 

Denise Crofton:In the summer he did, he took them all driving and fishing. and then he bought some property, he got it for tax money, for about  $200, and he made a little park out of it, and Mr. Ross, the same Mr. Ross, named it Stanley Park, and he made benches and he had all sorts of, (the park was) on Beddis Road, (inaudible) just past the Purdy’s (Mary Inglin’s place).

Billy Eng

Charles Kahn:What about Billy Eng?

Denise Crofton:I have a picture of him.

John:I have a proper photo, a colour photo, full size. That’s been cut down. He was certainly a dominant figure in the hotel.

(Some discussion of the newspaper photograph, and the article. John wrote the original, but Tony Richards rewrote it.)

Denise Crofton:When he came over for the reunion, about ten years ago, he was the most popular person there, everybody wanted to see Billy, you know, he was quite a character.


Dr Rush was another one, when he came to one of the reunions; he was the doctor on the Island for quite a few years, Bobby Rush’s father. There again, they all lined up to see him. I didn’t get to see him, I wasn’t going to stand in a line.

I remember the first time he came to see mother, she (Nona Crofton) used to suffer from terrible headaches. 

“Dad brought him into the room to see Mother and Dr Rush gave one look at Mother and said “You sure look siCharles Kahn to me, Mrs. Crofton,” and we  quote that still, because for a doctor to say “You sure look siCharles Kahn to me”, it really was, (John “Bobby Rush’s father  hadn’t been polished”) he wasn’t what, I don’t know, what did he do?:oh it doesn’t matter, I’d better be careful.” 

Charles Kahn says the tape has probably stopped by now ( so don’t quote the above?).

Denise Crofton:Everyone liked him, you know. I must say he was awfully good to my father, when he was ill, because Dad was having these heart attaCharles Kahns in the middle of the night, and Dr Rush would come down at 4 o’cloCharles Kahn in the morning, and it was  just comforting to both Mother and myself, because she didn’t know what to do; and he only charged $4 a visit in the middle of the night, you know. He was a great CCF-er and Dad was a Conservative, and they used to argue politics.; but on the other hand he told Dad he wasn’t to argue politics, because it could send his blood pressure up! 


Charles Kahn:He must have gotten along with Goody then. 

D:I guess so.

Charles Kahn:Because listening to Goody, he sounds as if he’s a CCF-er.

John:Oh, very much so, yes.

Charles Kahn:I was talking to Malcolm Bond, and I think Malcolm Bond must be a very arch Conservative, because he didn’t seem to think too much of socialists, CCF-ers.

D:Of what?

Charles Kahn:Of socialists? CCF-ers.

D:Oh, I’m sorry. No, I don’t think too much of, they always seem to have a chip on my shoulder, I don’t (know).

John:Was Mr. BulloCharles Kahn a frank Conservative?

Charles Kahn:Oh yes.

D:And Jesse Bond, I guess you know, was one of Mr. BulloCharles Kahn's, one of the first. ... 

(Charles Kahn chatter about Malcolm Bond, who is going off to China, something to do with his veterinary practice. He’s been invited to go baCharles Kahn.)


Jesse Bond Vegetable Gardening

Denise Crofton:Jesse Bond did a lot of work for Mr. BulloCharles Kahn, as you probably know, and Mr. BulloCharles Kahn gave him land of his own; then he used to, he worked at Harbour House, just by the day, with the vegetable garden and that, and after that he used to sell vegetables, and come round with his truCharles Kahn. We used to have a wonderful garden ourselves, but by about the end of August we’d more or less run out, and Jesse would come round with all his vegetables.

Charles Kahn:Did Billy Eng ever cook any Chinese food?

Denise Crofton:No, just for the Chinese party we’d have at the end of the season, a staff party, in the Snake House, that’s where we held it. 


Charles Kahn:People didn’t really like to eat things like Chinese food then I guess.

Denise Crofton:Well they didn’t have any Chinese. There were only two Chinese on the island. 

CL:No, but I mean to say, they didn’t like to eat that style of cooking.

D:It was really mostly only English people, weren’t there. Grandpa and men who -

Charles Kahn:Today people like to eat a much bigger variety of foods.

John Crofton:Because we have become a multicultural  - break in the tape 0 John telling about a book he’s reading - things started changing and she could see how wrong it all was, and she gives terrible examples of things the Red Guard would do, and it was a nightmare time, really. This is a delightful book to read, but she gives details about the food that she was eating, some of which I wouldn’t want to mention!

Charles Kahn:Well it’s interesting, because when you go to restaurants there, the food would be sitting outside in cages, because they really like their food fresh, so you’d have little hedgehogs, they’d have rabbits, and chiCharles Kahnens (Charles Kahn giving details John might not want to mention, and Denise tells of Queen Elizabeth seeing barbecued rat on a plate. John and Charles Kahn also chat about visiting Thailand, and barbecued rat and cobra available up in the mountains of Thailand, and a Chinese girl from Hong Kong who vehemently said the Chinese people are really horrible, they’ll eat anything). 

Charles Kahn:Well it’s true, they will eat anything. 


Charles Kahn:So was (Billy Eng) fairly accepted by people? 

Denise Crofton:Oh yes, he was very very popular. He loved to play a poker game. There was only one other Chinese on the island. I don’t know why he stayed all those years (on the island) but I guess we were his family, because, you know, his wife and one child were in China.

Charles Kahn:Did he ever bring them over?

Denise Crofton:The wife died, and he brought the first boy out, Peter. He went to High School down here.

John Crofton:But I think it was in the latter part of the forties that new legislation came out in Canada, allowing the Chinese to bring their wives and family from China.

Denise Crofton:Billy wasn’t a Canadian citizen, and it was Dares and Macintosh that, you know,  had to get it for him, so he could get ?Marjorie?Ming Shree? out, and had quite a time I think.

Charles Kahn:He got the second wife baCharles Kahn, then.

Denise Crofton:But he had a wonderful sense of humour, he’d have to have.

Charles Kahn:So he must have worked there a long time, eh?

Denise Crofton:I think he came in about 1925. 

Charles Kahn:It says here he came to Canada in 1920, and began working as a cook.

Denise Crofton:That’s right. He worked in Vancouver for a few years, and then came to the island.

Charles Kahn:How did you find him?

Denise Crofton:My brother-in-law Graham Shove was over in Vancouver, and he was going to interview:they had a Chinese agency:and he interviewed quite lot of them, and Billy just said “I can do the job, don’t worry,” or whatever, didn’t sort of say he was a wonderful cook, just “I can handle it”, so Graham pied him out!

Charles Kahn:Was he planning to hire a Chinese cook, or was it, just happened out to be that way? I mean were you looking for a Chinese cook?

Denise Crofton:Oh yes, he was in Vancouver and he interviewed them for us. I think he was the first Chinese cook we ever had? We might have had one before that.

Charles Kahn:OH! Well. How many people would he have cooked for, at the height?

Denise Crofton:Usually we had about 45-50. During the tennis tournaments was really when we had  our big crowd, I think.

John Crofton:During the war, when ?Eric Eppler‘s? people from Pat Bay would come over , sometimes we’d have, what?  up to about 80 people staying?

Denise Crofton:Oh I think so, yes.

John Crofton:And the Christmas dinners:how many people would come for the Christmas dinners?

Denise Crofton:65-70?

John Crofton:And Billy would cook for 65-70 people, a Christmas dinner.

Denise Crofton:And then we always had the veterans down for a dinner too. Before the war, the old veterans, and then we kept it up during the war. They used to come from the other islands, the veterans.

John Crofton:But he’d prepare these huge meals.

Charles Kahn:Oh. it’s yours? (to John) I should take some notes off it, then. 

Denise Crofton:Is that the (clipping) about Billy?

DC’s funny story “One thing, I think it’s funny anyway”: 

I told you there were only the two Chinese on the island. The other one used to sell vegetables, but he also did our vegetable garden for us in the early part of the war. Anyway, he said to me, would I order some foot lice. So I didn’t know what he meant, foot lice. Then he’d come the next time and say did you get me the foot lice, the stuff you put on baby cabbages, meaning, what’s that greenery, brussels sprouts. Anyway, I was getting really worried about this foot lice. So, my young sister was going down to Mouats to do the shopping, and I put on the list, foot lice. So she went to the counter (Accounts?) upstairs, and asked for it. They said no, they didn’t know what it was, and they sent her down to the feed shop. And, anyway, they’d never heard of it down there. Anyway, finally Billy translated it -  it was fertilizer!

But Dulce, my sister, she was just furious with me! Oh we did laugh about that. Foot lice and fertilizer.


Aside: not relevant to research (except to point out that there have been articles in the Driftwood about Billy Eng and Harbour House tennis)

Charles Kahn:Shall I just put this here?

Denise Crofton:Did you want it? You can have it, if you bring it baCharles Kahn again.

Charles Kahn:I took notes from it, so I think it’s OK. I wish I’d saved some of these things when they came out. 

John Crofton:Well, you can always -

Charles Kahn:I can always go baCharles Kahn, yah, I’ll be doing a lot of looking at old Driftwoods, especially when I get to the more modern period.

Denise Crofton:What was that young chap that we liked, John? Thompson. He wrote about the tennis courts.

Charles Kahn:Oh, Graham.

Denise Crofton:Graham, yes, I liked him very much.

Charles Kahn:Yes, Graham’s really likeable, he’s a very likeable guy.

Denise Crofton:He was, he was very easy.



Charles Kahn:Who was Mr. Hague?

Denise Crofton:He played in the orchestra, I think he played the saxophone. His wife played the piano. They owned one of the islands out there, that we call Castle Island. They had their own boat, and I went to school with their kids, they used to bring them over to school, but then also they used to come and play our summer dances. 

Charles Kahn:Now, his wife played the piano?

Denise Crofton:Yes.

Charles Kahn:Do you remember what her name was?

Denise Crofton:Hm. His was Bill, I know.

Charles Kahn:And then there was a Mrs. Eaton? Did she also play?

Denise Crofton:They owned the Fulford Inn at one time, it was called the White House.

Charles Kahn:The White House, yeah, right. He was known as Pop Eaton.

Denise Crofton:Yes. Then afterwards he became the postmaster up here. They moved up here, they sold the inn, and moved up here, and he was the postmaster for years.

Charles Kahn:She had a boarding house or something, didn’t she?

Denise Crofton:Yes, they called it the White House.

Charles Kahn:But she used to come to Harbour House to entertain?

Denise Crofton:To play Saturdays nights. We had dances every Saturday night.

Charles Kahn:And was that at the same time she was also running the White House? 

Denise Crofton:Yes. 

Charles Kahn:So she’d leave her place, and came to work at your place.

Denise Crofton:I don’t think she did it for too long, because when they moved to Ganges they ran a tea room.

Charles Kahn:So did she also play an instrument, did she also play in the band?

Denise Crofton:Mrs. Eaton played the piano.

Charles Kahn:Oh, she played piano.

Denise Crofton:And her husband played the saxophone.

Charles Kahn:Oh, I thought you said Bill Hague played the saxophone.

Denise Crofton:These are a separate times. 

Denise Crofton:I think the Eatons were first, and then the Hagues.

Charles Kahn:And you think her husband played the saxophone too?

Denise Crofton:I know he did.

John Crofton:Oh really?

Charles Kahn:So when would that have been? In the thirties?

Denise Crofton:Yes.

Charles Kahn:What kind of music did they play?

Denise Crofton:Jazz!

John Crofton:The popular music of the time.

Charles Kahn:Swing?

John Crofton:Swing, yes.

Charles Kahn:It must have been fun. Did people dance?

John Crofton:Sure.

Denise Crofton:On Saturday nights you’d get the Vancouver Yacht Club in, and different boats from other yacht clubs. They all knew there was a dance here on Saturday nights, so it was really quite something. But we had to close at 12.00, so then they’d go over and party in what we called the Snake House. 

Charles Kahn:Why did you have to close at 12.00?

John Crofton:It was the rule. Regulations.

Denise Crofton:Sometimes if it was a private dance we could dance later, but... 

Charles Kahn:Was it the same every night?  There wasn’t any change, like Saturday nights would be the same as Monday nights? You still had to close at 12.00?

John Crofton:(inaudible) as far as the dancing (inaudible) 

Charles Kahn:I think you said on the tape that you didn’t charge very much. 50 cents or something?

Denise Crofton:25 cents.

Charles Kahn:You keep saying on the tape that it hardly covered the cost of the band.

Denise Crofton:I know it didn’t. And all of them didn’t pay either. They’d come in from the beer parlour, and...

John Crofton:I guess they had to close at 12.00 on Saturday nights because of Sunday.

Denise Crofton:Yes. 

Charles Kahn:Oh, right.

Denise Crofton:Well, all dances had to stop at 12.00 I think, unless you had a special license.

Charles Kahn:So if had a dance, if you were able to have a dance on a Wednesday night, say, it would have been different, you wouldn’t have had to -

John Crofton:Oh, I don’t know.

Charles Kahn:Yeah. 

Denise Crofton:Well I think the big attraction was all the:we’d see a lot of girls that came to stay for the summer, and all the boys would come by boat.

Charles Kahn:How many people would come to one of these dances?

Denise Crofton:Oh, it’s hard to say, about 100, would you (say)? I don’t know, 80. They weren’t all in the dance room at the same time.

Charles Kahn:Were there any pictures? Do you have any pictures of this time? 

John Crofton:No.

Charles Kahn:No? Some people must have taken pictures. I guess Jesse Bond used to take a lot of pictures, didn’t he? Photographs? 

Denise Crofton:All I know is the one he took of the hotel baCharles Kahn here that burned down. I don’t know anything.

Charles Kahn:But did people take pictures of your dancing?

Denise Crofton:No.

Charles Kahn:So you don’t have many pictures from that period of time, I guess. 

Denise Crofton:Well, d’you mean -

Charles Kahn:Photographs?

Denise Crofton:Well, there’s lots of photographs in the album, of the tennis parties. But we didn’t take any indoor pictures.


Charles Kahn:Did you feel that there was any competition for the Harbour House? For example was the Fulford Inn any competition?

Denise Crofton:No, not with Fulford Inn. I think the biggest was when they had the Log Cabin. It’s changed its name so many times. Mr. BulloCharles Kahn had it built for one of his boys .

Charles Kahn:Would that be the Tides Inn?

Denise Crofton:Yes.

Charles Kahn:Yeah. So that was competition.

Denise Crofton:Yes, for meals only, really.

John Crofton:That and Vesuvius Inn.

Denise Crofton:Oh, yes, that’s right too. Then during the war we didn’t, you know, everybody was, the war (?:pulled up?) really. 

Charles Kahn:Which war, the second, you mean?

Denise Crofton:The second World War, yes. 

Charles Kahn:So it was busy during the war?

Denise Crofton:Very busy. People couldn’t get gas. The Mary would come in from Vancouver, and people would get off at the end, and because they had no reservations, it was awful! John, you could tell that, you used to drive them round the island (trying to fond places for the overflow to stay?) We had no bed and breakfast then, but some of them sort of:did it half heartedly. (laughs)

Social Centre

Scavenger Hunts

Charles Kahn:The scavenger hunts were a big thing, I guess.

Denise Crofton:Yes. 

Charles Kahn:Was that just connected with the tennis tournaments?

Denise Crofton:No, no, that was separate from the tennis. We did have it join the tennis, but,...

John Crofton:inaudible

Charles Kahn:But you also had them as entertainment at other times as well. Did everybody get involved in them?

Denise Crofton:Oh yes.

Charles Kahn:They were very popular.

Denise Crofton:Well they were, yes. Well, it mixed people up.

Charles Kahn:When did you first start having them, do you remember?

Denise Crofton:I think it was during the war, I don’t think we had them before. 

John Crofton:What?

Denise Crofton:The scavenger hunts. Oh, well yes, we had them before. 

John Crofton:We had them in the thirties. 

Denise Crofton:Yes, that’s right, I’m crazy.

John Crofton:I know it might have been happening during the war, but...

Denise Crofton:No, we did have them before. 

Crab Races

Denise Crofton:The crab race on the billiard table was the, you know, that was really quite amusing.

Charles Kahn:What did that involve?

Denise Crofton:Well, each team had a crab, and then they shooed them on, you weren’t allowed to touch them. Those crabs did go from one end to the other, didn’t they, with a little encouragement.

John Crofton:Everybody got excited about those, it was as real as horse racing.

Charles Kahn:Did they bet on them?

John Crofton:Oh sure.

Liquor License

Charles Kahn:Did you have to have a liquor license in those days, to serve liquor? 

John Crofton:No, just in the beer parlour.

Charles Kahn:Just in the beer parlour. Did the hotel serve -


Denise Crofton:Dances, when I come to think of it, in the early days it used to be fancy dress dances. That was just for the hotel itself.

Charles Kahn:Are you talking about the ones that the Eatons played at?

Denise Crofton:No, no. This was just, technically we didn’t have, I don’t know who played the piano, I think someone like Percy Lowther, or some other ?Boldair? or one of the guests.  But it was really just the house guests, and it was fancy dress. That was half the fun, you know, to (come up with the fancy dress). I was only about ten years old myself, so that would be quite a long time ago. 

John Crofton:And you’d dance with the big wind-up gramophone too? 

Denise Crofton:Yeah.

John Crofton:They had a bit of a social fun-room, they had a big wind-up gramophone with all sorts of records.

Charles Kahn:So would that have been in the twenties?

Denise Crofton:Yes, because I was only about, you know, 7, or 10 years old, or 8, I don’t know, 8 or 10. 

John Crofton:It was the thirties. (If Denise was 8-10, it would have been the twenties.)

Charles Kahn:And that was  just the guests.

Denise Crofton:You know, they’d come up with amazing costumes. In those days, you know,  the guests used to sort of arrange for tournaments, and fancy dress, and that sort of thing, and of course in the latter years, as we grew older, we had to help do the entertaining, you know. People were getting more sophisticated.

Social Centre

Charles Kahn:I guess in terms of entertainment on the island, Harbour House really provided quite a lot.

Denise Crofton:Oh yes. 

John Crofton:It was the social centre really.

Denise Crofton:Then the Legion used to have their meetings there, the IODE, everything was just Harbour House, really, all the fun and everything, and tennis tournaments. 

John Crofton:inaudible

Denise Crofton:And Harbour House gave everything free, we never charged for anything in the way of meetings and ...

Class of Clientele

Charles Kahn:Did you get quite a cross-section of people? Did you get farmers, and people working at Mouats,  or was it more of an upper class clientele?

Denise Crofton:What would you say John? I’d say a little bit of the upper class.

John Crofton:Well, once again, it depended on what was going on, like for the Legion dinners, it was anybody who was a veteran, and garden fêtes and that...

Denise Crofton:I guess it was more the private dances I’m thinking of, that was a little bit more, you know (upper class), but... For instance I’ve got my 21st birthday party (available?), Mouats, and you know, you had everybody, you know, Mouats.

Charles Kahn:I’ve listened to the tapes  talking about the entertainment in the early times, and they often talk about the schools, you know, and dances at the schools. These are working class people, and they don’t, nobody, none of them mention going to dances at the Harbour House, so I wondered if - 

ME: Did the social use of schools continue past the turn of the century? once the community halls were built?

John Crofton:You’ll understand when you read Charlie Horel’s little description of the dances that were held for the Canadian Scottish Platoon. (traffic noise:?That was still later?) At least, that was in the old Mahon Hall, and everybody fit, that sort of thing. But at Harbour House as Den was saying, for private access, it was for the guests. But when the dance was open for anybody, all those people would come in out of the beer parlour.

Denise Crofton:Yes, and we charged, then. As I said, for the fancy dress we didn’t charge, that was just the hotel.

John Crofton:But when people came in out of the beer parlour for the dances, that would be anybody. It wouldn’t be restricted.

The Beer Parlour

Charles Kahn:When did the beer parlour open?

Denise Crofton:That was in the late twenties I guess.

John Crofton:I understood it was something about when Dermott became 21.

Denise Crofton:I have forgotten about the beer parlour, I honestly have. Theo, they came in 1921, and we didn’t have a beer parlour then, 1921. So they built it just after that I guess.

Charles Kahn:Dermott was born in 1904, so that would be 1925 then.

John Crofton:My grandfather wanted Dermott to run the beer parlour, so they couldn’t open it up until Dermott became 21.

Charles Kahn:Funny, when I was a kid, 21 was the year of majority. But now it’s different all over the place, and it’s usually 18 or 19.

John Crofton:It’s 18 here.

Denise Crofton:That’s where all the fun was, on the Saturday nights, was in the beer parlour, and then go on to the dances.

Charles Kahn:I hope it was a nicer beer parlour than the one they have here now.

John Crofton:Well it was more fun! It was very informal.

Charles Kahn:It wasn’t as rough, I guess, as this place.

John Crofton:No, no, we didn’t have that sort of rowdy element. Although we certainly did, there’d be fights, sometimes, you know, between the lodgers and the ?flats?.

Charles Kahn:Did the beer parlour attract a cross-section of people?

Denise Crofton:Oh yes, because then, you knew everybody, so it was quite fun.

Charles Kahn:So you used to spend time in the beer parlour too?

John Crofton:All the time!

Denise Crofton and John Crofton:chuckle

John Crofton:Because that’s, you know, that’s where the action was.

Charles Kahn:Was there any entertainment in the beer parlour?

Denise Crofton:No. 

Charles Kahn:No, eh?

Denise Crofton:You couldn’t even serve food, the silliest law. They didn’t used to close at suppertime. And they opened in the morning, I think it was  11 o’cloCharles Kahn, and went on until 11 at night, with no closing for supper And then they brought in ‘closed for an hour’, I think, for six days, or two hours I guess. That was when Ted ran it, I think, after the war.

Charles Kahn:What did it look like inside the beer parlour? Was there a big bar?

John Crofton:Well, you have some photos don’t you Den? Of the beer parlour inside. I seem to remember one picture of you and Edna and all the girls.

Denise Crofton:Maybe, but I don’t know where it is, you know.


Charles Kahn:I should look at some of these prints before (I go). Were you going to loan me these?

Denise Crofton:I beg your pardon?

Charles Kahn:Were you gong to lend me these things?

Denise Crofton:Well, I just put them out for you to look at them. That’s sort of a scrap book I started, but, you know, it’s quite interesting, some of them. But things have got lost. You can take what you want, but... That’s my sister Doreen, Doreen Morris.

Charles Kahn:She’s very pretty.

Denise Crofton:Mm. It’s too bad. you know, that things get lost, but they do.

Charles Kahn:Who’s that?

Denise Crofton:That’s someone who stayed at Harbour House. She and her mother stayed at Harbour House for two or three years, and then she met her fiancée on the island, and got, (had) her wedding. All the wedding receptions used to be in Harbour House, or most of them.

Charles Kahn:Are these also people who stayed?

Denise Crofton:That’s Betty Harry. The one in the middle is my sister, the younger sister, and the one on the right is a cousin. (Denise goes off to get another photograph, and returns)

Denise Crofton:This is one of the whole family, except Dad, who’s taking (the photograph?) It was taken after the war. Because my brother, John’s father was wounded, I think he’s got his hand in a sling.

Charles Kahn:Oh, I think you’re right, yeah, he does. Which one are you in the picture?

Denise Crofton:That one. 

Charles Kahn:Oh yeah?


Accession Number Interviewer Charles Kahn
Date February 18, 1997 Location
Media 2 cassette tapes Audio CD mp3 √
ID 142 Duration