Salt Spring Island Archives

Donate Now Through!


Chris Arnett, Tom Wright, Gordon Wright

Jonathan Begg

Jonathan Begg letter
Accession Number Interviewer Historical Society
Date January 11, 2006 Location Central Hall, Salt Spring Island
Media digital recording Audio CD mp3
ID Duration


Today we have a very special program. We are going to look at the life and times of Jonathan Begg who was a man of Scottish ancestry. He came to Salt Spring on July 7th 1859 and this is going to be a sort of casual exploration. The gentlemen to my right here are Tom and Gordon Wright. There is no relation although who knows, way back we’re all related. The last few years they’ve done a lot of archival research on this gentleman. We don’t really know too much about him but we are going to know a little more by the time this is over.

Tom has done extensive work on his letters. We are very fortunate that a number of years ago some descendants of Jonathan Begg, his great, great, great niece sent over some letters to our archives. Some valuable letters that were written by Jonathan Begg from Salt Spring Island and they give us a lot of valuable information about Salt Spring at that time. It augments a period of our history that is not too well known. So the three of us are going to give and take as we go through this and explore the life of Jonathan Begg right from his birth at Aboine on the river Dee in Scotland up to his disappearance in the mid 1860’s. We’ll find out and speculate as to what happened to Mr. Begg. First I’d like to call on Tom who will give us some background and information on these remarkable letters.

Tom: The first thing you might wonder is how these letters which Jonathan wrote which left Salt Spring of course because he mailed them away. So I wanted to just give a brief background on that. The story begins with Jonathan being born in Scotland as Chris mentioned in 1825 and then teen aged Jonathan and his teen aged sister, I’m not quite sure which was older or younger that the other. They came over to Canada, Pickering, which was Canada West as it was then. They came in the early 40’s in their teens but I’m not quite sure when Jonathan’s sister Margaret married a farmer named Chisholm in Pickering. He was another Scot who came to Canada at the age of 10. When Jonathan was nearly 30 years old and still in Pickering the Chisholm’s moved to Cedar County Iowa where William became a dealer in imported Clydesdale horses. And it was William and Margaret who Jonathan wrote to first from California and later from Salt Spring. They are wonderful letters that describe about the early days of Salt Spring. The reason they came back was because Williams great granddaughter, Lois Beckman who lived in Gig Harbour Washington brought the letters to Salt Spring Island back in 1992 and brought them along to Fernwood Elementary having at one time been Beggsville, so there’s a connection there. The principal of the school at that time Bob Bransword came to me and said we’ve got some old letters about Salt Spring. Would you be interested so I was certainly interested and said, “sure I’ll have a look at them”. One of the reasons I wear glasses is because I deciphered a whole pile of these letters and as you can see because of the postal expenditures in those days they would write this way then turn it over and write the other way then turn it again the third way and occasionally even four times. Anyway I went through all these letters and they are remarkably interesting and I’ve got far more stuff than we can talk about today so I’m going to try and pick out some highlights about those early days on Salt Spring and in California. Jonathan originally wrote from Alameda County, California where he had originally arrived after a 36-day journey from New York via the Panama Isthmus and he expresses delight about the climate of California the settled natures of the villages and the price of clothing, which seemed very reasonable to him. He was determined then to go in to fruit growing where he says he can manage a nursery at $40 a month. He describes the giant vegetables that grew there and farm horses at $50 each and fine large matched teams of horses at 4 to 500 dollars and good American oxen at $200 a yoke and except for too many gophers and too few women he thought California was the country par excellence. He even talks of setting his cap at the fine girls of an old Spaniard neighbour who owns 7000 acres of the best land and becoming a grandee so he sounded as though he was pretty much up on California. Something must have happened to dampen his enthusiasm because he moved north up into British territory about 8 months later. Nearly a year later on March 10, 1860 he wrote from Aboine Place named after his old home in Scotland on Salt Spring Island to his relatives in Iowa. An earlier letter he wrote obviously didn’t survive so we only have his second letter. And it turned out that Jonathon had arrived in Victoria in June of 1858 in the midst of a reverse in business caused by bad news from the mines. He says he’d seen quite enough of California’s climate and society. He now says the only thing he liked in California was her fruits society, though improving is not any the best and the government is rascally bad. No man except a clever rogue or Irishman can attain any position there, he says. And then he talks of leaving without a penny in his pocket to seek his fortune. He waxes enthusiastic about the weather in Victoria, the people and the prices in spite of arriving as he said during a depression. Finding I could get no work of any kind, as there were hundreds more out of employment, I immediately went to work and rented a vacant house with 2/5 of an acre of land where I put in about 1500 cabbages. As the land was of poor description, I did not realize much from it. In the fall I advertised as a gardener in the local paper when I got a job with Mr. Wood the banker, which set me a little on my feet again. When I resided in Victoria I had other work on hand of greater moment then my everyday employment. I found the land system in such a deplorable condition that no one out of employment of the Hudson’s Bay Company could procure an acre of the public domain. I found that justice and reform was necessary so I commenced a movement, which has since changed the whole land system of the colony. Tom: “He’s not afraid to blow his own horn a little bit is he?” but he was evidently a really interesting guy.

Chris: I thought I’d give a little of the political context of what was going on Vancouver Island at that time. The actual colony is right here. You can see the 10 – 11 districts here. The Sooke district, Metchosin, Esquimalt, Victoria and these were all treated from the native people. These were all pieces of land that were featured in the Douglas treaties, which were negotiated in between 1850 and 1854 and constituted the colony of Vancouver Island. With the discovery of gold in 1858 the British Colonial office decided to end the Hudson’s Bay Company’s tenure of Vancouver Island because they were supposed to develop this colony but with the discovery of gold the British Imperial government decided that maybe it’s a good idea to take this colony out of the hands of the Hudson’s Bay Company and transform it to something else. Douglas was given word that on May 31st 1859 the Hudson’s Bay Company jurisdiction would end and it would be taken over by a new system. Douglas however he wanted to expand the colony into these areas. Here we have the Cowichan Valley. Trouble is, he ran into opposition from the native people. The last Douglas Treaty was negotiated in 1854 in Nanaimo and then following that in the following years native people began to resist negotiations. They didn’t like what was happening but Douglas went ahead anyway and surveyed these areas without any recognition or guidance from the Imperial government so it was basically illegal survey. Actually it’s interesting about these districts. The land was actually sold before it was even surveyed to various Hudson’s Bay employees, Royal Navy officers and wealthy merchants in Victoria. So they owned 100’s to 1000’s of acres but none of them were able to occupy their land because of resistance from the native people. Following the gold rush, 1000’s of people flooded into Victoria, went to the gold rush and within a few months the Fraser River gold rush was a bit of a bust. Most of these came back to Victoria and went back to their places of origin, except about 1500 described as the wastes and strays of the world and this would have included Jonathan Begg. They began to agitate to have access to this land in the Cowichan Valley. There were a lot of editorial in the papers saying you know, we have to settle the question of Indian title and get farmers on the land and these unemployed miners in Victoria wanted access to this area but Douglas couldn’t do it because number one he did not have the permission of the native people and number two most of the land in here was already spoken for by various purchasers, so he developed a preemption system. This is what Tom was alluding to. Begg was involved in this. They had a lot of meetings in various hotels in Victoria. In order to placate them Douglas allowed them to go to Chemainus Valley and to the north end of Salt Spring Island. He gave them permission to preempt this area. This was done without any official recognition by the colonial office. In fact, Douglas wrote a letter to the colonial office saying he was going to have this preemption system but in the letter he explicitly said that it was only restricted to these territories and he didn’t even mention any of the Cowichan area or Salt Spring Island. This is sort of the context. My theory about this is and I speculate in my book about it, because there was a lot of opposition to settlement by the native people especially on Kuper Island that he directed the settlers to the north end of Salt Spring and the Chemainus Valley to provoke native people in to some kind of resistance that would allow the Royal Navy to go in and occupy the land and destroy the native resistance. Which actually happened in increments over the following years. This is where they landed on July 27th 1859. The first group. There were 17 men, they landed at Walker’s Hook beach here and took up 200-acre preemptions from Walker’s Hook to the north end of Salt Spring Island. Now, this area just to give you an idea of who was running the show around here, this is the native village of Penelekut here. The head chief was this gentleman //////////The expected confrontation did not happen because there was some sort of negotiations between /////////////and/////////////////and within a year most of the settlers in this area were married to native women from the village of Kuper Island. Here is a picture of the James Seed Farm taken in the 1920’s, I guess. This was Jonathan Beggs preemption and according to his letters when they landed they drew lots and he got second choice and this was the land he chose which is roughly bounded by Fernwood, the eastern end of the boundary ran along Fernwood Rd. and we are going to look at some more details in a bit. But it was open land and I think Tom will take it from here. Jonathan Begg built his cabin up here and we have pictures showing these buildings and he felt very satisfied with his choice.

Tom Wright – I will go on to read this letter.
After the above move was concluded to the satisfaction of all parties I was one of 18 adventurers who went out to view the land when we lighted on the island mentioned in this letter. Which was Salt Spring Island. It’s about 20 miles long and varying from about 2 to 7 miles wide, it lies at the bend of the Canal de Haro and the Georgian Channel and lies immediately at the mouth of Fraser’s River about 40 miles north west of Victoria and within ½ a mile of Vancouver’s island. I can see the mouth of the Fraser distant about 20 miles and the Cascade mountains distant about 75 miles as on any clear day I’m going about ¼ mile back on the hill behind me. The Broadwell mountain or what we call Channel Ridge now a days.

I hope you can stand listening to this, he waxes eloquently about the island and I want to mention some of the things he had to say.

This is one of the most dramatic regions I was ever in. Scotland is nowhere in that respect but to my narrative the band of adventurers including myself, finding the island beautifully situated amidst an archipelago more beautiful than the thousand islands of St Lawrence. This being the most convenient to Victoria and the San Juan we determined to form the settlement. As Chris pointed out he had the second choice of lots, which were essentially ¼ mile strips from the shore to St Mary Lake. “My lots fronts a quarter of a mile in a nice little bay. Opposed to me lies a long island shielding me from the northwest summer wind. And that’s Galiano. Behind my lot on it’s rear borders a beautiful fresh water lake of some two miles in length teaming with fish. I have about 80 acres of prairies suitable to farm. It is not exactly a prairie, as it resembles an English park, as here and there is a beautiful clump of balsam growing. I erected a cabin on my lot. 14 by 17 feet, I assume. It is a log one covered with shakes on poles being altogether more open than a house that would freeze to death a cow in Canada with nothing but a small fireplace and mud floor. Yet so beautiful is the climate that I have passed the winter in it quite comfortably. Tom. Now to point out that when he refers to Canada that is what we would now think of as eastern Canada as it was a separate place then. He mentions the various vegetables he has on his 3 acres and the 2 young men he has taken on as helpers and he talks of the schooners which passed three times a week and that he is the postmaster. My livestock at present consists of a tomcat and young dog and may mention I have a valuable salt spring on my land impregnated with one fifth salt. This at present is Harkema’s farm. It is very cheap living here as the Indians who are very useful and very good to white men and bring us large quantities of the best the waters and forest can produce. For a mere song I buy a buck weighing a hundred and fifty pounds in trade. That trade originally costing me about half that amount. Salmon weighing 10 lbs can be bought for 12 cents; a duck costs about 12 ½ cents, grouse 25 cents. Talking about 12 ½ cents sounds kind of ridiculous until you realize they are just switching one monetary system to another. From pounds to dollars.

English noblemen live no better in this respect than we do. We have the best the sea and land can provide for a trifle. That is where I’ll stop that first letter but you can see that Jonathan Begg at this point is a go getter and he toots his own horn a little bit and I think we’ll learn a bit more about this as we go.

Chris: These are some remarkable sketches done by Arthur Mallendine who was another one of these first settlers in the Salt Spring settlement, as this place was known at the time. This is a sketch he did of Begg’s house. This is Begg’s store. Eventually he set himself up as a trader and actually advertised in the various newspapers. You can see it’s a different set of buildings than the house. These buildings probably stood on the site where the Harkema buildings stand today. This is an early preemption map. You can see up here it’s called Begg’s settlement. This was done in May 1861. It’s a schematic map. This is Southey Point here and down to Walker’s Hook here and Jonathan Begg’s lot is in here. And it’s interesting here is his neighbour Henry Sampson. Edward Mallandine was down here and actually our home is located on the Mallandine preemption. This map produced, I’m not sure who did it. I found it in the archives and this shows the relationship of that schematic map we showed earlier superimposed on the lot system we have today. We can see Begg’s here and we can see when things got in to trouble with another survey of central Salt Spring add the lots started to overlap here. It was a very imprecise system. This is Tate’s map here overlapping with the other map. Here we can see Mallandine’s preemption here, George and Begg.

Tom: It might be interested to mention that I used to live on this piece of land here. This funny little corner still exists. Franks done some interesting things relating to these maps, as they exist today. Beggs preemption here, this is Fernwood, here’s the North End Road and Fernwood and in those days Fernwood took a little jog down here. This building here, which may have been Beggs house and this one here, which may have been Begg’s store. This is something cool Frank has done. He’s superimposed the old map on a recent satellite image of the north end of the island. You can see that the rangelands follow a lot of features on the ground today. There’s the old road. Next time you go down Fernwood and you see Harkema’s driveway. That’s the old road. It took a jog off Fernwood to the west then down to the shore. This is probably where the original dock was. You can still see vestiges of all these old lot lines. This is where you used to live down here Tom? Yes, I was actually on Jonathan’s property but it had been greatly subdivided by then so I just had 4 acres out of Jonathan’s how ever many acres it was and it may have been 200 or it may have been as little as 50.

Gordon: My only comment relates to the records of the land management bureau in Victoria. When Jonathan sold his property to Richard Bryn who was buying it for his sister who was married to Thomas Griffiths. This difference is that the record shows that he sold 51 acres and he sold it for $800 and this is in contrast to the belief and he always said that he had 200 acres Tom W. We had a nice argument about this before the program began because if you measure one of those triangles on the map it comes pretty close to 200 acres so he may have just owned part of one.

Chris: So you can see from this old map that one of these 100 acres sections is divided into half. So this is probably the 51 acres that Gordon is referring to.Tom: Could he have sold just part of it perhaps in that sale of 1863?

Audience, Usha?: I read something in 1874 about that Begg initially was attempting at least to preempt 200 acres, that’s 2 lots side by side. He didn’t improve all of that. He sold 50 to Bryn who is the brother of Mrs Griffiths and sold 100 to Griffiths. Different moneys coming from different people. Mr. Griffiths was not very well and so she actually farmed the whole lot. Now, all of that, I can’t remember where I get that from, I think it’s mostly a conglomerate of Margaret Shaw’s accounts who know Mrs. Griffiths well at the time when she was older. The old 1874 map which shows where Bryn was and where Griffiths was on the actual piece of property.

Gordon: It shows Griffiths land is all preempted. Tom: I want to say something about Jonathan Begg, his person. He was obviously an impatient kind of a guy and certainly was full of energy. Here’s a little bit out of his next letter. This is a letter that was written on June the 3rd of 1860. He says, farming is not conducted here on grand principles. Any little that has been done or done heretofore has been conducted by old servants of the Hudson’s Bay Company who are more awkward than the animals they drive. One can see here the old carts, farm implements and equipment used 50 years ago in Britain. A good farmer of little means would not fail to make it rich in a few years. This is very typical of his letters. They are kind of sales pitches in a way and in this particular letter he goes on to describe the commodity prices and tells proudly of being appointed post master and returning officer and of organizing the first agricultural society in the colony. Early in 1860 something interesting happened. I’ll spend a minute or two talking about what was called the battle of Admiralty Bay. Early in 1860 the beginning of July there were a couple of white settlers fishing off the north tip of Salt Spring and they watched a couple of Cowichan fishing a few hundred yards away when suddenly without warning, two northern war canoes, Fort Rupert war canoes probably, appeared and the frantic Cowichans, who were terrified, leapt on board the ship the white men were on but it didn’t do them any good because the Fort Rupert warriors followed them on board and cut their heads off. This is very likely the same group of Indians who were described in the Starke family history when they talk about landing at Vesuvius. There was a white trader called McCauley who was carrying some furs down south and he was using these Fort Rupert or Bella Bella Indians to carry some furs on their canoe. He was going down towards Admiralty Bay which is now Ganges and the first place he came in to was Beggsville. He pulled in to Beggsville but had to withdraw hurriedly because there were some Cowichan Indians who were quite hostile. He went back on to the water, went around to Ganges. Probably the following day. I imagine they camped along the shore. But anyway there were nine of these northern Indians, 3 boys and 2 women, I think it was. And when they arrived at Ganges there was rather a hostile group of Cowichan Indians again to meet them there. This white trader McCauley went up to visit Lineker who lived up at the head of the harbour then. He was worried about his crew but the Indians who were there assured his that they were peaceful and that they would look after his crew. But when he was up at Linekers house, there were sounds of a scuffle and shots rang out and there were signs of a scuffle. The Cowichans surrounded these northern Indians. Chased them up the Chain Islands that run up the middle of Ganges Harbour They tried to escape, they threw the bales of furs into the water and paddled like mad up along the chain islands but it didn’t do any good because the Cowichans followed them there. They captured the 2 women and the boys and they killed 8 of the 9 men. One of them escaped and eventually made it over to Victoria. Anyway that was referred to at times as the battle of Ganges and oddly enough Jonathan Begg wrote another letter on July 16 which was only about 2 weeks later makes no mention at all of that happening. I suspect that Jonathan was trying to write letters, which were making the most of what Salt Spring was like. He didn’t mention that there had been some people killed and some heads cut off. He would have made a great real estate salesman I think, when you read the things that he says. Instead of talking about this war that had gone on he mentions a friend MacIntyre, who had gone 200 miles up the Fraser to sluice for gold and says he was earning 8 dollars a day sluicing. There is no fear for a man that likes to work can do very well anywhere he likes to go throughout this country but the place is cursed with a lot of fellows who come out after government situating too genteel to handle a spade and pick. Useful for no purpose in a new colony. I think he was probably a Presbyterian Scot from the things he says. This long letter went on like a travel brochure, full of phrases such as all the miners are doing well on the Fraser River trails are being cut steam boats are being built on the Fraser River. Vast improvements have been carried out in the Interior. In this letter he now calls this place instead of Alboin he now calls it Balmoral and he hopes to make it a fashionable watering place some day he says.And he talks about visiting Queenborough which was only a year old then which is now New Westminster.

I’ll read some more of his letters after I’ll just step aside and let Chris have a go here.

In 1861 Jonathan Begg was made a road commissioner on Salt Spring. November 1862 and he’s now been there 3 years. And he talks of a trip he’s made to the Caribou Gold fields and he’s optimistic about his farming successes and he describes the large stone and brick warehouses going up in Victoria. He was very impressed by the hardships of the miners. He figured all they had to eat was beans at every meal. Beans. He also describes some men up there were digging up what you would consider a good years worth at every shovel. That’s a bit of an exaggeration isn’t it? Anyway he mentions a railway company formed to join Victoria and Esquimalt harbour and another to Nanaimo so he’s carrying on with this kind of sales pitch. And he tells William he should bring his family out west and he jokes that William should find him a wife, box her up and send he by express. So I think maybe he’s getting a bit lonely.

He ran an add in 1862 in the British Colonist describing his depot which I guess was a retail outlet on Fort Street in Victoria adjoining D. Lindsays store and he lists many fruit varieties, fruits and grains. By December 27 1862 Jonathan is seriously suggesting a match with William’s widowed sister Mrs. William Gibbs. Were your sister willing to accept my hand, I have loved Mrs. Gibbs as a girl and admired and respected her as a dutiful wife. So he really was getting lonely and I think wanting some company there.

Chris: I’ll just talk a bit about bringing it up to 1863. Besides the correspondence he left to the Chisholms we have a lot of letters he wrote to the British Colonist. In 1863 there was a conflict taking place between the British Colonial government of Vancouver Island and the Lamalcha Indians of Kuper Island and there was a battle fought on Kuper Island on April 20 1863 where the gunboat Ford was defeated in a 3-hour gunfight with the Lamalcha Indians. It’s the only documented incident of a defeat of a Royal Navy fighting vessel by a tribal fighting force. Some of the natives left Lamalcha and visited Begg’s store and boasted of their prowess in defeating the gunboat This gunboat bombarded the village with hundreds of rounds of shrapnel and shell and small-armed fire. They said that all these efforts knocked down a lot of trees but failed to kill one native.

He wrote this letter when he was in Victoria, which leads me to believe there was a lot of fear by settlers at that time that they would fall victim to native conflict.

We talked about the sale and one thing we noticed that came out in the Colonist. In December of 1863 Jonathan Begg’s property is up for sale by a Mrs. Begg and that is interesting to me because in his letters he talks about having to have a wife but it leads me to believe he had a native wife and his neighbour Henry Sampson was married to the daughter of Ho’holestun the chief that I showed you later and it could very well be that Begg had a native wife. And of course before the colonial government established it’s defector rule in the area the settlers had to deal with native jurisdiction in the area and one of the easiest ways to remain on the land was to marry a woman whose family owned the rights to the land so they were able to stay there unmolested.

Tom W. It might just be worth mentioning Jonathan Begg didn’t always stay on Salt Spring because in early1863 he wrote a letter from England and Scotland where he’d gone to do some business, I guess. He describes dreadful snowstorms in England at that time and he describes going to the Begg distillery in Aberdeen and it appears to be a distillery that was in the family, maybe an uncle or something like that. I think it might be the distillery that eventually became the Grants distillery but I’m not sure about that. 38.43. In early 1863 Jonathan wrote several letters to the British Colonist on various topics such as the mail service and the difficulties of nonVictorians serving on the legislature and mildew on raspberries and stuff. I think Gordon has put together a huge collection on stuff he put together a some years ago. He spent a lot of time in Victoria followed through the Colonists and found all these letters from Jonathan Begg. Do you want to add anything to what I’ve mentioned about the mildewed raspberries.

Gordon: I’m sort of interested in the sequence of some of these letters. For example in 1863, I think you were just talking about. There were letters about the mail service and letters about gooseberries of all things. Apparently he was in Victoria at the time and they made an error in copying one of his letters and wrote the second letter almost the next day. There’s also a note in the Colonist about Begg as a candidate for Nanaimo for the coming election but he apparently wasn’t very active and they considered him a no show finally. At the end of that year Dec 26 he sold his land at an auction in Victoria to Richard Brim. I was interested that it says a Mrs. Begg. In the land management records there’s no reference to a Mrs Begg ever having a title to the land. Just Begg himself. I believe that’s something we can perhaps look in to. One thing I’d like to draw to your attention is that the United States which was sitting overlooking the British Columbia endeavors. The Confederate States were established in 1861 and Lees May 8 1865. Much of Beggs travel took place during the US Civil War. The thing that intrigues me is how the devil did he get to Scotland without going through the United States, which was not a very good place to go through. Also Douglas stepped down in 1864. At the time Begg was in Scotland.

Tom W.: January 1863 was the time of that letter. I could add a little something about the election in Nanaimo that Gordon referred to. According to an article in the British Colonist, Mr. Begg of Salt Spring Island did not make an appearance. The people here regarded his address as a piece of burlesque and many of them believed it was published on the advise of some adventurers. Not sure what all that meant but it did seem that Jonathan’s bombasts were getting under some sensitive skins.

Gordon: And one other little effort that he undertook which may have got him in more trouble than benefit. He wrote a letter to the Colonist in some detail after a trip to San Juan Island in which he criticized the whole management of the Empire Properties. Now Douglas was no longer on the scene, I think. But subsequent to this Begg seems to have had a certain amount of trouble with the government about his patents that he wanted to have issued.

Tom W. He invented a wood splitting device of sorts with springs, knives and levers which with one man on the machine and two handling logs could split 50 cords of wood per day. And he actually wrote to the Attorney General of the day to try to get a patent for this machine. But I think the truth was that they didn’t feel they could issue patents at all for anything by anybody. And he ran into the same thing when he tried to get a patent for raising the La Boucher after it sank in San Francisco Harbour. Tom W. Yes and do you know about the La Boucher. It was a ship that travelled up and down the coast between Victoria and San Francisco. On April 1, 1866, at any rate the paddle ship ran up on a reef and the captain did what you’re not supposed to and backed up and of course the ship sank in deep water. So Jonathan Begg figured that he could raise it. He came up with a device that would raise the ship and he wanted a patent on that as well. And the government wasn’t about to give him any patents and he got a little bit cross about things up here. ‘Another Legislative Blunder” that was the headline in the British Colonist.

He was critical of the current patent laws he described himself as a loyal British subject but that he cannot get a US patent unless he first patents his invention in his own country or that he swears allegiance to the United States. But there is a disconnect in there. He was a loyal Brit. Gordon. “He wasn’t a loyal Brit, he was a Scot.” Tom. “Well that’s a Brit.” He feels his material interests direct him to become a citizen of the United States.

Another quote “Aug 27th 1866 another article in the colonist stated that Mr. Begg the inventor of a machine for raising sunken vessels will go below meaning to the States for the purpose making arrangements for the raising of the La Boucher. That’s it. That’s the end of the trail.

Gordon. All that I could find after that time it’s a publication in April of 1868 in what was called the First Victoria Directory 2nd issue. It’s a publication of all the residents in the Victoria area. It lists a Jon Begg at George Dutnells and Albert Head and that might have been short for Jonathan.

The next year they put the directory out again it shows a Jonathon Begg as a labourer in the Esquimalt area. Now it’s hard to imagine Jonathan Begg ever advertising himself as a labourer at any time. Tom. That doesn’t sound our Jonathan at all, does it? I don’t think that’s the same one. I think Jonathon was down in the States by that time stirring things up and I’m kind of surprised that we can’t find more about him down there. I have to tell you I wrote about 25 letters to all the Beggs in the Victoria phone book trying to find a descendant but got no response.

Maybe the times come for Chris to wrap things up because he’s probably got lots to add to this.

Chris I think it’s hard to wrap up anything about Jonathon Begg at this point but thanks to all the archival work of these gentlemen we had a lot of material to go on and to consolidate and to pursue. Tom It would make a great book. Chris. We are actually thinking of doing a book on this gentleman and all the early settlers of the Salt Spring settlement. And really time doesn’t permit to get in to all the details. We didn’t really get into all his nursery as he imported grafts from trees in Oregon and California and he advertised in the New West papers and the Victoria papers and he was probably the first major agriculturalist on Salt Spring in his operation of the Balmoral Nursery.

Tom. Here’s one connection I can add. It turns out that when Griffiths and Bryne bought the property there’s an interesting connection here that some of you might be interested in. Thomas Griffiths married Elizabeth Bryne and it was Elizabeth Bryne Griffiths who later became the wife of John Patton Booth who was one of the leading lights of SSI.

Chris. You just reminded me of one other connection When the Griffiths owned that property they were very friendly with a native man from Kuper Island who was the brother of ? who was know as Captain Very Good. He had a particular attachment to that Begg property and when he died the Griffiths gave the family permission to bury him on the Begg property. There are all kinds of other threads we can explore, connections between Jonathan Begg and the native people. Not to mention San Francisco and who knows where he ended up. Maybe at Begg distillery.