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The Life and Times of Alfred Gerald Crofton

Patrick Crofton

Pat Crofton bio photo

“The Life and Times of Alfred Gerald Crofton” presented by his grandson Patrick Crofton.

Mr. Crofton discusses his grandfather Fred’s early life in Ireland, and his 1899 arrival on Salt Spring Island, where he began early employment as an apprentice at Scovell Farm. In 1903, he married Nona Wilson, a daughter of the Reverend Wilson. Fred purchased Harbour House and developed a dairy farm. When World War I arrived, a number of young men went overseas, including Fred Crofton, who returned in 1919. While he was gone, his wife Nona cared for the children, kept the farm going, and began a boarding house. After the war, Harbour House was established as a country hotel.

Patrick Crofton speaks about family life at Harbour House, and will offer photographs, anecdotes, and newspaper clippings of interest.

Accession Number Interviewer Address to the Historical Society
Date November 18, 2009 Location
Media digital recording Audio CD mp3 √
ID 200 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:00
It's a pleasure to introduce Pat Crofton, a fourth generation Islander going back to 1895 and Reverend Wilson's time, and it's a pleasure to have him with us. He when I was growing up, he was a kid next door, we were neighbors. Now he's 75 years old, or almost 75. And a lot of things have happened in the meantime. So just like to bring up too little data up to date on what's happened. In the meantime, just very briefly, he went through the school system and Saltspring island. He in grade 12, went to Vancouver to go to St. George's school, because he was heading on to Royal Roads, to then go on into the Navy, where he spent his career I liked by his career in the Navy. And then he became a farmer in Saanich, to raise livestock, pigs and cat and cows and sheep and all those things. And during this time, as a farmer, he found some other things to do. And it was like in 1971, that he became a farmer. And he was an alderman for the District of Saanich, for two terms for four years. And then he got elected to Parliament and became the MP for Saanich and Esquimalt. I think it was for four years from 1984 to 1988. And during that time, he was chair of the Defense Committee during his time in Parliament, and after the next election, he became a civilian again, so to speak, and was chair of the Canadian section of a joint us Canadian Defense Committee. And he's been around quite a bit in various other community activities since that I won't go into detail at the moment other than to say it's great to have Pat back with us to tell us about the craft and family and his grandfather's times that the floor is all yours and welcome.

Unknown Speaker 2:37
Just gonna add a PS that he did lose a leg but that was not a wartime thing. It happened about eight years ago.

Unknown Speaker 2:47
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It's a great pleasure to be here to talk to you about my grandfather. I'm not exactly the prodigal coming home but I always look upon psaltery as my home being born and raised here. Bob mentioned that he was my next door neighbor. I see Nancy in the audience. She and I were in the same class for 11 years. I always thought she was the best dancer in the school. So I had great fun at school dances with Nancy grandfather, Croft and Alfred Gerald, known to everybody is Fred. He was born in Ireland, a very staunch, enthusiastic Irishman all his life. He came from a long line of mercenaries and politicians. Some will argue that they're one in the same but not really, that's a bit unfair. But the first Crofton we've identified was back in 1100s. In Ireland, originally coming from Cumberland, and the 13th century they some of them settled in Roscommon and I mentioned Roscommon only because it's a significant place in the Russian history, you know, after the Battle of the Boyne and 1570 when the English forces defeated the Irish, they set up an administration in Roscommon, which is the geographic center of Ireland. And given the travails of transportation and communication in those days, it made sense to pick a central swamp. It was a major town in those days and it gets a crossroads. There was a Croft in in the area who was clerk of the Provincial Council and cannot which is a local area and he was recruited by the English to be one of the major administrators in Ireland and in fact was the chief tax collector for Ireland amongst other things. And he acquired property in the Roscommon area, three miles south of Roscommon place called belly Murray village. And the family set up shop there and that was home base for the Croft ins for the next 400 years. And my grandfather Fred, who is a sort of a product from those times. Typical Irish families all had lots of kids and girls were married, often suitable husbands wherever they could be. found, eldest son would inherit whatever there was to inherit and the rest of the sons had to shift to themselves and do something. Well, a lot of them joined the military, whether they were Anglo Irish and loyal to the crown and the join the army in the Navy and one or two became churchman. The. So when I say that my grandfather was a product of mercenaries, and politicians, it was quite true. There was a long series of MPs elected to Westminster to represent the local area. Could I see the first slide and that's the one that's my great grandfather. That's Fred's father. He was a naval officer stationed in Kingston, Ireland, known as Queenstown at one point, and now it's known as Dun Laoghaire, which the Irish have decided to give it a proper Irish name. That's the just a couple of miles south of Dublin, and it's a main naval base for a great many years. And that was also a major seaport. And he was the Queen's Harbormaster for a number of years. And so, Fred, my grandfather was raised in the family who the naval father, there were five in the family. A girl was the oldest by an earlier marriage. And sadly, the first wife died and my great grandfather married again and had four sons, Ernest, George, Alfred, and Francis. My grandfather was the third son and there was clearly no point in hanging about and and who there is nothing, you know that he would inherit, because his father was a naval officer. So he had to find something suitable to do in life. Friends of his great his father, this gentleman had come to Saltspring Ross and Louie mon mon Hall is perhaps known you all well, they work cousins of the family. And they had responded to the advertising, I guess it was running the British press about the marvels of Canada and the benefits of the West Coast and they'd come to Salt Spring and founded a most amenable place. And knowing that young Fred had some ambitions that farming or was willing to try his hand they persuaded that He should be shipped out to Saltspring. So as a young lad of 16, off he set off for for Canada, which is a quite an undertaking, he came by himself. The station I neglected to say the person who really persuaded him to come was Jack Scoville to skip l brothers had come and they were particular friends of my great grandfather. And so Fred, my grandfather came to Jack Scoville, who owned property at the head of Ganges Harbor, which eventually became known as harbor house. So Young Fred arrived and entered into island life with enthusiasm and found that farming, he really enjoyed it. An active social life here. I guess skills were treated very well. A number of other young men came from the Great Britain at the time families I mean, there was a I mentioned the lawn brothers. So the Tulsans, three Tolson, boys came, there were three Scots. My grandfather, Fred was eventually accompanied by two of his brothers. Ernest, the eldest, and Frances the youngest. The Fourth Brother kind of vanished from sight, George, he went from Ireland to South Africa. And, as I understand it from very scrappy family animals, he made the terrible error of marrying a black girl. And I guess in Victorian England, that was totally taboo. And you seem to have sort of fallen off the radar completely, and the family completely lost touch with them. Whether there's a great tribe of Christians in Africa, we've not really researched and obviously we should do so. But the other three brothers all ended up here. Of course, you couldn't be here any length of time at that stage without encountering the Wilson clan. The Reverend Wilson, as you know, was the first full time Anglican priest on the island had 10 children. Two boys have gone back east but the other eight were here. And one of them was Nona, one of the girls, and my grandfather fell in love with Nona. They got engaged in 1902 and got married in 1903 1903 was a bit of significance apart from the marriage, my grandfather turned 21. And as he then inherited a small legacy that allowed him the wherewithal to purchase Jack's Cabela's property and rename it harbor house. My grandparents subsequently had seven children, all the names, beginning with D, as you probably heard in other occasions, Dermot was my father and he was the eldest of the seventh. He was born in 1904. Desmond Crofton and oh five and then so on all the way to dulci who was The youngest in 1919. It was a busy time my grandfather, that is the original harbor house, Jack Scovilles property that was purchased by my grandparents. And you will see later on the that picture is sort of appears in the larger version of harbor house as it ultimately was developed. That's later years, it was a painting. That was an accurate representation of the, of the hotel is that eventually got built. My grandfather decided to have a dairy herd and he had 20 Cows maximum, but generally the dairy herd was 14 or 15. In that most excellent book that I'm sure you've all read Saltspring Island, the story of an island that Mr. Khan, it talks about the creameries that were started on the island, several false starts but eventually of first rate creamy the island Creamery was a base of Ganges Hill. And that's where people like my grandfather took the the offerings from their cows they had a jersey herd and, and all the other things that one would have in a farm in those days because there was no Thriftiness to go to you either produce it yourself or went without, by and large. So they had sheep and they had pigs and the chickens and all the other good things and ran it as a reasonably successful farm it was farming, I won't say it's a mug's game, because I've tried it myself. And it's a lot of hard work and thoroughly rewarding in many respects, but you don't get rich farming. And certainly my grandfather wasn't getting rich farming, but it was a way of life. He raised seven children and it was a good life and Saltspring in those days was a was an active place. It was a safe place. It was a pleasant place. I had all sorts of good things going for it. And you know, they had a happy time. And that's the blue later on. Have you got the one there? Can you find it with my grandparents and the children? That well that's one of harbor house when my grandfather haying and you can see that's way back when there's no boats to be seen and no marinas and no anything. And down on the right hand corner is harbor house as it existed at that time in this building and the veneer building was known as the snake house was kept for many years and it was for storage of various useful parties took place in the snake house at different times. That my parents grandparents, well, the sorry, we go back one, but one behind with the the fellow in the middle was Mr. Bullock was a famous man on Saltspring. And then he respects he had a sister Mary, and my grandfather Fred's oldest brother, Ernest married Mary. So Mr. Bullock became a sort of an in law in that respect.

Unknown Speaker 12:52
Hard work developing the farm all seem well. And then long came World War One. My father remembers the occasion very well he did. He's not live now. But used to talk about it. When the farming was season was coming to an end and they got the hay in and the apples picked and the potatoes dug in and more or less getting ready for winter. They take a short holiday. Course it didn't go very far on holidays in those days. The family in fact, their idea of a good holiday was to go and camp on tent island for a week or 10 days. And this was always great fun. That's what they were doing in the autumn of 1914. And my father remembers going out fishing with his father, his father, my grandfather in the in the morning and my father by himself caught 10 Salmon as a 10 year old because the fish almost jumped in the boat in those days. They came in for lunch to find it and report it was delivered that were were one been declared. Well, my grandfather being a loyalist immediately packed up the summer camp took everybody home much to the chagrin of my father and his siblings. My grandfather's say it was an Anglo Irish in the sense that he was Protestant and loyal to the crown and various of his ancestors have gone to fight under the British flag. And so he felt that obviously this was going to be required again, and there were a great many of my grandfather's contemporaries on the island who were fresh out from the United Kingdom and are similar thought and feel the issue was who? When do they go and how soon do they go? This is a picture of my grandparents with five other children. My father is the one at the top. He's the eldest son Dez. In the lower right, the three girls, Diana, Doreen, and Denise Denise, as you know, died a month or six weeks ago when she was the last of the seven days and she was 96. World War One Well, this was a cataclysmic for a great many people. And as you know that enormous number of people went from Saltspring to fight, including my grandfather and the Canadian expeditionary force. He didn't get over 1916 is when they actually got overseas. And the Passchendaele he got gassed in the trenches of mustard gas. And luckily, it was only a mild, mild dose. He was laid low with that, obviously, and took a while to recover what he did, but he had sort of lung trouble for the rest of his life. And they all return back to Saltspring. Eventually, all the soldiers together and 9019. And the number of them didn't get back, as you know, from reading the names in the Cenotaph and your own history, you'll know that. But lots of things have been happening at Harbor house in the meantime. My grandmother was suddenly left with six small children, they were six before my grandfather went dairy herd and goodness knows what else left and Animalis. Well, her husband went off to fight. And this caused no end of difficulties. Various people were sort of hired to help but the question is, how do you make enough money to pay them? So my grandmother was assisted by her brother, who was Norman Wilson, Norman Wilson, eventually Barnsbury started the golf course. But Norman had some means and helped her out. Some properties were sold, the there was quite a lot of property was the original Scoville property was 160 acres, my grandfather acquired 100. And then bits of it and the periphery was sold off to raise money. And they started, my grandmother started taking in borders, it sort of became a country boarding house. This was necessary to keep things going. And there were other ladies whose husbands had gone off to fight who had you know, somewhere to go, and everybody sort of pitched in together. My grandfather came back and big decision was, well, we're going to get back into being true dairy farmers are, what are we going to do and the decision was taken that they were going to churn harbor harbor house into a country hotel. And of course, this required a lot of planning and a lot of didn't happen overnight. This tree that you see, that's my uncle Desmond sitting there still a remnant of that tree. Now, it was a very large maple, it was in front of the hotel, and that where he sitting was sort of a wooden bench. And that's where the senior Indian chief would sit and hold council back in the days before the white man came and spoil it all for them. And in fact, in front of harbor house was a huge sort of mound. That was an Indian mitten, as it turned out, that nobody worried too much about Indian mittens on those days. And I'll mention that again in the middle. That was Dez. What do you got next there, tennis courts. Well, lawn tennis became a very popular activity before and after the First World War and it seemed to be the social game and it was if you went and stayed anywhere at a resort of any description you expected to had to have tennis available to you. And so they decided that they were going to have her house was going to turn into a decent summer place, obviously needed tennis courts. After the First World War, there were 16 tennis courts on Saltspring. If you can believe it seems like a lot but that's what they had. Several were wooden. One wooden court was where the Saltspring Island tennis club played. And it's sort of right next door to the the new police station sort of kitty corner from foxgloves and it was a wooden court and that's where the Saltspring Island tennis club played. Where foxgloves is no it was AJ Smith and they had a grass court. Mr. Bullock had a wooden court to appoint. And there were a whole lot of grass courts that was really Lawn Tennis people would convert their lawns and make tennis courts out of them. Captain best had one acklins had one Laird's had one. There were several Vesuvius Captain best, but my uncle, great uncle Frank had one and his property was next door to the old lady mental. It was sort of the thing that people did. So harbor house had to have courts, this was going to be essential. They decided to make clay courts, which are not common, but it required a whole lot of work to do, but that was what they decided. And the first thing they had to do is choose the location and they picked up the property between the hotel or the what became the hotel and the beach. And they had to deal with this pilot clamshell. And so the first thing they did was attack it with a plow and a horse and a plow, try and level it and break it up. And then they got a horse and a huge scoop and started to scoop the clamshell to remove it. Well, this was an Indian medicine and there was a lady by the name of Mrs. Castle who were staying at the hotel and she was a good Catholic, and she was horrified to discover that as they dug up this middle only returning up skulls and human bones didn't seem to be in any way sort of an organized burial place. It was always a mystery just how these people got chucked in the end like people clamshell whether it was like being thrown out with the refuse but anyway, they were different depths in the face in all directions and Mrs. Castle collected up the skulls and bones in a wheelbarrow and trucked them to and then we buried them all in where it was the lower end of the ultimate vegetable garden. So there was nobody, those courts would never be built in this day and age as you can well imagine man in the Midlands It's no joke if you suddenly discover something like that on your property because a whole world comes to a halt. And you can't even have access to your own property. Well, these people start dealing with what may be significant historical, or religious sites. Anyway, my family got away with it built these clay courts and they trucked nearly 200 loads of clay and packed it down and rolled it and rolled it and roll it and rolled it to make a good firm base of blue clay, which they were able to find. The tapes were linen, you paint them white in the wintertime and put them down in the summer when you're ready to play. And with great big square stables you'd hammer them down, put up the nets, fences around, stop the wild shots and near in business. They built two courts enormous amount of work. But they were world class courts, people a lot of people came from far away and so they were the best Clay courts had ever seen. And people actually used to come and stay at Harbor house to play on the courts for that simple reason. It was like going to Pebble Beach to play golf or something like that word spread wonderful courts, these were enormous amount of effort to keep them in good playing condition to keep them in order to true bouts. They had a tournament they ran every year once the hotel was up and doing from about 1923 right through till 1939. And players would come from all over to play in this tournament. They had those two courts, this one here and another one below it. And then they had a singles court adjacent which they didn't keep all that long it was the maintenance was just too difficult. In BC to be a ranking tennis player, there you can see the lower court down below that to be a ranking player. You had to play in certain prescribed tournaments in BC, I think there were five full point tournaments and two half point tournaments. The high point tournaments one was at Bowen Island, and the other one was a harbor house. And this was because of the fact that they only had two courts free for tournament play. Obviously, there was a limit to how many could come in and it was a smaller tournament than the other ones. But nevertheless, quality players played so you've got some status if you did well. One of the players that came every year was I think the number seven ranked player in the United States.

Unknown Speaker 22:53
Mr. Khrushchev used to come. My father used to curse Mr. Khrushchev. My father was an excellent player in his own right, and, in fact, was the best player on the island and would usually end up meeting Mr. Khrushchev in the semifinals and had to play this clever wily American. But my father had a bit of a handicap, he ran the beer parlor that I will talk about in a minute, probably gonna finish at half past midnight. And then at 6am, you'd have to get up and prepare the courts for play. And he would put down the rock salt and spread some water on it to get it damp and have a quick breakfast by which time the courts dry, just enough to put this big, heavy roller on it. So you'd have to roll both courts twice, with a great big heavy roller that weighed about 500 and something pounds. And so by the time you've done that, would be just nine o'clock, he does the tapes and the just the that tournament starting in about half past nine, he'd be back on the court having to play Mr. Khrushchev. He just said in all those years that had happened, he just wished once said Mr. Khrushchev had had to get up and prepare the damn courts, and he could give a lollygag over breakfast, but that didn't happen. But the courts, you know, were really a central part of, of the hotel life once it was up and doing. The dairy herd was phased out at this point, but three milking cows were kept throughout the life of the hotel. unpasteurized milk but nobody bothered about it. In those days. It was fresh every day. Very large market garden. The crib sheet pigs, chickens and all the other good things. People who came to stay that's harbor house looking from where Hastings houses chosen the completed model. I think we've got to do we have one there that add? There is that's harbor house back when and you can see the prices, you know, $20 one dollars a week. You know, not bad. You know, back in the 1920s people when they came in those days people didn't have cars. They didn't go all that far afield if they were taking a holiday. They needed something that was reasonably modest. People would come to harbor house and the Princess Mary from Vancouver. People who worked in shops and did all sorts of other things come and stay for a week or two weeks as the case may be. But they came as foot passengers in a hotel car would meet them at the village, bring them to the hotel and so the hotel really hard to provide them with all our entertainment and this was the days before television and all the other good things so we had to find alternate means of entertaining them. oysters and clams are easy to find anywhere. So the summer lots of beach parties. Fishing was was good. Didn't tennis. Golf was not that far away. Card games. singalongs dances, one of the great hoots that they always had were scavenger hunts. I don't know whether you've ever been on a scavenger hunt. But boy, that's something else. They used to drop lists of ridiculous things like an ant or a frog or, or a bird's nest or a bull rush or something. And they'd be divided into teams and each one put in a car and you didn't start until darn near dark. So finding bird's nest in the dark we have all these tricky things. And off they go racketing around the island to try and round up all the things of the scavenger hunt. There was a price for the first car back I remember coming through Ganges and the drag rage side by side with my aunt. Luckily there nobody else on the roads in those days. And once they were back then this skid would have to be performed. And each team had to put on the skip and that was was huge fun ever in the island GOTTA GET TO KNOW THAT WAS scavenger hunts are on with the noise and racket and honking horns and goodness knows what the older guests of course, didn't feel up to that they used to wait until we came back and then they would laugh and the hysterics of the things were put on but this was a I'm talking about this as the the nature of the hotel and the way the family ran it. Guests were friends. And we entertained them. If they wanted to go fishing, we took them fishing if they wanted to go to go play golf, if we didn't drive them there, we might even stay long play along with him or tennis make up a fourfold these things. As family members growing up as part of his clan there was always a job in the summer. In fact, you impossible to avoid going and doing your shift at something washing dishes or cutting the grass or my father was very glad when I got old enough to get on that dirt and more roller for the tennis courts. Families came back year after year after year. When the place was developed. It had 18 rooms in the hotel proper. And it had six tenths of the original tents were the wooden platforms were built on the canvas was put up in the summer and taken down for the winter. And they were eventually replaced one by one by proper cabins. So it wasn't a large establishment, but it was always chock a block full in the summer. And people wouldn't be farmed out to the acklins or somewhere else when you get an overflow it was if you came to the island without a reservation you be in big trouble to find somewhere to lay your head. Most people booked ahead and that was sort of solved the problems. The hotel was run the the mainstay of the hotel was the cook, Billy ng a Chinese fellow who came in 1924. And he liked that so much he they kept him and for the next 40 years he was the family cook. He was an absolute Marvel. He was tireless. He worked seven days a week in the summertime. He was beloved by the guests his his cooking was he did marvelous soups, wonderful desserts, fresh produce on the plate every day, plenty of it. And whenever they came, the first thing they did when they checked in they had to go and say hello to Billy and they say Billy is still here. They were quite anxious to make sure that Billy was still a cook because of his father holiday there wasn't. Billy didn't like people in his kitchen. They weren't allowed to stay very long and he throw pepper on the stove and that got them all changed out but he loved to see them but not for long. He was an absolute Marvel and my two of my aunts sort of pinch hit as cooks when he couldn't do it for some very infrequent reason. Fortunately, for 40 years he was a family. We had certain people who were permanent lodgers. Some of them were quite famous. I mentioned this castle who was retrieving the bones she was not a lodgers. He was a frequent visitor though. A gentleman My name is Stan Critchley was one I'll single out in 1934. He was a chartered accountant. He came from Vancouver on holiday and he liked it so much he never went back. And we had him as a permanent guest at Harbor house for the rest of the time the family had the place. We had a colonel snow and let's see what else do we have? Colonel Ross. These were gentlemen who would come in the wintertime from sort of mid September until usually early in A and then they didn't like the hustle and bustle of summer stuff and they'd go to Parksville or somewhere and come back in the autumn when things quiet down. Miss Alton, who was the vice principal of the school was a larger harbour host or a great many years. These these people all added to the spice and Saltspring what you see here in this picture is my father's two brothers with Fred and Nona dad's on the on the right he ended up with a shattered arm where his troubles and in France each of them were managed the hotel in turn after the war, till the family parted with it. Let's have a quick look here and see what I've skipped over and forgot about.

Unknown Speaker 30:55
Management, speaking my grandfather. He used to say he was an avowed Irishman. Anglo Irish and St. Patrick's Day was always an immensely important day in his life, and we always had all the decorations and the songs and the usual things that people do on St. Patrick's Day, and he always commemorated the Battle of the Boyne. Nobody else did and none of the family did. But he did that by himself. His family decided that that was an old country fight that we didn't need here anymore. He was well suited to being a hotel proprietor. He loved to debate he loved to argue, and good Irishman. He was known to take a drink from time to time. I'm not quite sure how he got along with Reverend Wilson, who is an adult, his father in law who was in a determined teetotaller, but somehow they bridged over that. They had a hotel, they were there, it's gone there. Now. There used to be right there. Just the top end of the tennis court, a very tall flagpole was reported to be 80 feet high, I find it hard to believe was 80 feet although we knew some of the photographs I've seen, it looks like it was. And the Union Jack was flown from the top of this thing every day and brought down at sunset and it was one of my grandfather's pet requirements. The I mentioned the flagpole because it had a rather interesting, and I was in about 1947, I guess. So I was all about 12 years old, and I was on the harbor House lawn, watching somebody play tennis. And there were a number of other people sitting on the lawn. And the road that the hotel got a pub license in 1925 and ran it as an English pub to start with and then had to change to the C type beer parlor by fIatter. The provincial government which was too bad, you couldn't get serve food and various things for quite a long time. But there was a road in the back of the hotel which fed the beer parlor and a bulldozer was there, fixing widening it or doing some grading. And there was an apple tree in the way so the bulldozers just wiped out the old apple tree but failing to realize that there was a guy or were from that apple tree to the top of the flagpole and an absolute blink of an eye. That enormous flagpole was flat on the ground. It just came down bang. And would you believe it smashed the kindling. The only bench on the lawn that nobody was sitting on would have killed anybody that just came it was a hugely heavy thing and it was a good flip through at the base and be painted Dumpty on time. So God knows what it weighed a lot. Donna came with this one great Smash, and you click miracle. I thought it was gonna get knocked down on an earlier occasion. During World War Two, Patricia Bay was a fighter base, and a lot of fighter planes. They use their Spitfires and Hurricanes and sorted other types of planes. And some of the people who fetched up there were Battle of Britain veterans. And they'd survived a pretty sticky time and they were here as part of helping with the Commonwealth training program. defense to the West Coast. Most other things, they discovered Saltspring. And they discovered harbor house and a lot of these pilots used to fetch up there on weekends, and I was too young to participate and too young to be told. Some of the wild things that took place, it's probably just as well. But in 1945, the fighter squadron and Pat Bay were being disbanded. And it was announced that they were going to do a hurt farewell by doing a farewell flypast. So we were all mustered down on the harbor hosts long at eight o'clock in the morning on a Monday when they were going to do this flight past. And there were, I think nine Spitfires and they flew information from the golf course. Done Down towards Ganges harbor, and they were flying at treetop and you didn't see them till the last minute and they suddenly roared over the hotel and sort of either side of this 80 foot flagpole it's seemed like and it felt like the roof was gonna be blown straight off the most tremendous roar it was, you know, they, they were coming so quickly and solo they almost got there before the sound and suddenly there's roar of the planes going by it was it was quite a sight. That was the final Harada for the fighter pilots at Pat Bay for us. I said my grandfather, he just staunch Irishman. He said that he was a product of a long line of politicians. Harbor house was sort of conservative headquarters for the island. I mean, he was a staunch conservative and various people would come and stay MacGregor McIntosh was elected as a conservative and Sinopec was a conservative and they were great friends of my grandfather's and they would stay at Harbor house when they came and harbor house in fact, was kind of the social hub for a lot of things. It was the really the only real hotel on the island that had a dining room. So people could stay it had the only liquor license, harbor Fulford hotel had one for a while, but it burned down. But so we wanted to drink. You know, you had, that's where you got your beer. And if you go was a pub zone and had the dining rooms, a lot of people used to come there for a whole variety of purposes and meetings. My grandfather had a great pal by the name of Frank speed, Papa speed, and he was one of the original partners and they sold me on trading company. You know, can you believe that the Trading Company was a conservative organization and the markets were a liberal organization and depending on what your political feelings were you went to one place or the other. It seems ludicrous, but never. Anyway, Frank speed was a despite being at a trading company was an avowed liberal. And he and my grandfather were a great friends used to argue everything. Anything that had to do with a political issue they did they beat it to death, the two of them and they were funny about it, you know, and then people used to laugh and tease them. They had more fun. I remember it, that was Papa's wife. They were like family to us. And they were known as popping it. They vaccinated harbor house when they first came to Saltspring in 1903. And when the school bells, were just handing over to my grandparents. Anyway. Long life, Papa said, Well, this was at a family party he, he turned to me, to my father was kidding him to view because my father voted conservative. Papa was still a good liberal. And he said, well, at least, you know, we always had two good liberal votes in this house. And pop on it. You'd be married for six years. And he turned to Papa and said, Who said I ever voted liberal. And Papa just about had a heart attack on the spot. Living with a Philistines. She probably voted liberal with them I am. But she couldn't resist it. And I thought he was going to have a heart attack on the spot. Another great friend he had was a political was Gilbert mort. And both families are quite a number of children born and whenever my grandfather had one more child, one of his seven he'd get older Gilbert said you're in trouble Gilbert. There's another conservative vote and twist whenever Gilbert said, The time that another more boring phone call come in the other direction and say your prayers, crofting. There's another liberal in the fold, you see, so they had this wonderful rivalry over the years and teasing one another about it.

Unknown Speaker 38:47
Being a being a hotel proprietor really didn't suit my grandfather. He had a wonderful people who who knew him. I think the one thing they remember most about him and he had a fantastic sense of humor, wonderful sense of humor, loved a good joke was always teasing and laughing, like practical jokes as well. My aunt Denise, who just say died, some six weeks ago, I remember talking to her this past year, Bob brush had already put me on notice that I was gonna have to come and talk about my grandfather. So I thought, well, I'll speak to the one surviving sibling, see if I can get any more information I didn't, except for this business of the sense of humor. And she just shook her head and she said, you and your lot, you're not a patch on your granddad. And it will thanks very much. But he but and that's what people and he described and talking with the guests and joking with them. You know, they came back year after year. He died in 1942. And he was only 60 Which by this day and age 60s mid life. He was not in full health after his experiences in the trenches. And then he had bad heart and the last year is over His life, you know, it's something that would have been fixed very quickly today. I mean, art problems are the sort he had would be easily solved, but not in the early years of the war. So he died when he was 60 was very large funeral. I think Bob remembers the occasion I was seven years old. And so I was not allowed to go. But it was a very large funeral. They were in various MLAs from the legislature here. And the military honors were given that was a I guess, that's funerals goal was a great success. A lot of people came. And he's buried in the Anglican church yard partway down the first fairway. I scarcely knew when I was seven when he died, and he was sort of failing health in the last few years. When I would visit harbor house to see my grandparents, I was always given very firm instructions ahead of time, that grandfather wasn't well and I was not to make a noise and I was to be quiet and answer politely and then was off. And so be a good boy, I followed instructions. So I have no a whole lot of great personal recollections other than chatting with him quietly. He didn't talk about a warrior's he was like so many soldiers who had such a dreadful time in the trenches that they just didn't want to talk about it. So there's been very little recorded of what he thought and saw. I don't think anybody had a good time. Anyway, that's my grandfather. I think I've covered various things. I welcome questions you'd have any. Thank you for your attention.

Unknown Speaker 41:52
Uncle Frank? Yes, certainly Frank, Frank and Ernest. Ernest. As I mentioned earlier, he married Mr. Bullock's, the daughter sister. He had foreign property he owned he to start with he was at where acklins are now with the booth canal. He had a property there for some time. And he acquired a lot of acreage on the side of Mount Erskine facing north had quite a lot of property, I guess. His wife had means and so my uncle was able to be a gentleman farmer. Ernest tried his hand. That's Ernest. Frank, the youngest son, he tried his hand at various things. He ran a taxi on the island for quite a while. And if you wanted to go to Victoria, you booked a place on his machine and race down to catch the ferry. People used to complain about what he charged but it was was better than walking. Then, the towards the end of his life, he was the chief custodian at Parliament buildings, the legislature in Victoria. He had one son who trained as a doctor lived in Vancouver. It's rather sad. I said, Great Uncle George sort of vanished in Africa. franksen almost vanished. Not quite. Uncle, my uncle Frank. His first wife, Nancy was Nancy Calhoun. So the first matron of the lady Minto. And she was quite famous during World War One and got a lot of decorations. She was a nurse in the field in France. And on one occasion, you probably heard from earlier things, her field hospital 100 shell landed in the thing and that hadn't gone off and it was fizzing away and she picked it up in their arms and rushed outside and dumped it. It was just kind of a brave thing for anybody to do. Nevermind. She was sort of five foot four. She was about four foot 11 You know it's really brother brave thing to do. And she got a lot of medals for being right on the front lines. She when she came back to Salt Springs, she became a mother and didn't take carry on with her nursing. So that was Frank. Their property at the time was right next door to the old lady mentor up the hill and they had a grass tennis court long that seems everybody else. Just man Well, he was Donovan Patrick. He was the youngest brother, Donovan Patrick DP. And DP was a displaced person and it was not considered a useful thing if you're gonna go in the army, which he was going to do so he swapped it around to become PD, Patrick Donovan. And this This caused me a lot of heartburn because the I was of an era where everybody had the abbreviated names been Thomas Toynbee was Tom and the Roberts were Bob and you know, but I had to be Petrick book As my uncle had after I was born, preempted the name and he was patter patty. So I had to be Patrick all the time. And I used to find this terribly annoying. I also had a teacher at school. Nancy were probably remember, who had a speech impediment. And she say, Patrick, Patrick, what's the answer to that? Or parent go to the board and do this and I used to think I changed. Anyway, I could change my name I would this parent, it was just too much.

Unknown Speaker 45:32
And the other Yes, ma'am.

Unknown Speaker 45:39
It looked like there might have been a swimming pool. Quite right. That was something that was added in the in the early 50s. The sad part was that the Ganges Harbour was getting more and more heavily used, and the beach was becoming less and less attractive. So where the original singles tennis court was, was put, you can see down here in the bottom, they put in a swimming pool, and it was had saltwater and used to pump salt water into it on a regular basis. And try and keep it clean. It was the heated of by sunlight. So when it was freshly filled, it was a bit brisk, but didn't take long. It was quite quite comfortable. And above that up here was a o'clock golf thing. An experiment, you know, we had in the in the late 40s. This is pictures taken just about the time that the property was sold. And I think it's already going backwards looks like the roads deteriorated. The two tennis courts here, which were wonderful courts, we had a series of summers that really were rather poor. And I mentioned earlier that the clay was wet, she couldn't use it. So my uncle Patty, who was managing the time had the bright idea that the bottom cord should be turned into a hardcourt. This would solve the problem that could be used. So what they did is they laid ashphalt over the clay, which was a terrible thing to do. And clay got wet and there was no support for the ashphalt which broke up and a wonderful growth of weeds goosegrass got into the underneath and the stuff just sprang out through all the cracks you couldn't play on the court. I mean it was just don't be in bumpy. It was useless as a tennis court. And there it's just sort of this looking like grunge was a net up I can't think why because you could be short I'm just using it to jump over I can't think you couldn't play tennis sense of it was rather too bad. There used to have down here that's the what's left of what used to be quite a large boathouse. The beach, it was it was it was a it was a lovely beach and a lot of sand and you could swim there quite happily and it was not polluted. You saw a picture earlier where there wasn't a boat in sight and Ganges. But a lot of the sand got hauled away after the Second World War people were using it on their driveways and things it was, you know, government Landis hotel had no control over so that it became less and less use as a as a sensible beach. And then the Marina next door got built to so that put paid to it wasn't so bad. I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear that. Once it's all 1964 And it had a rather sad history as a consequence, the it became more and more difficult to to run a hotel of that sort. I mean, it was it was a it was a very elderly place and needed to be completely rebuilt, it had no central heating. And the government was starting to become very persnickety about a whole lot of things. If you were running any kind of against establishment, the kitchens had to be all steam clean regularly and you had to have the capacity to do it. People were expecting to have their own bathroom and TV in every room. The wiring and the place just wouldn't handle something like that. There was trouble with the with staff. Given the nature of the place, we were busy as heck sometimes and hardly anybody there the rest. You had other pretty flexible workforce. And the government and the unions didn't like the notion of split shifts and all the other things and we're sort of coming down hard. For instance, in the summer, we used to rehire to university girls might be very attractive young ladies who come in, they'd be weighed on table and their day they serve breakfast, sort of free in the dining room, leave the tables for lunch and make sure the silver was clean and do a few other things serve lunch. And then by about 130. They were done until 530. And so they'd have four hours off and they play tennis with the guests and swim and just have a good old time like they're on holiday themselves. And then at 530 they put on their aprons and back and sort of preserve supper and lay the tables for breakfast. Well You weren't allowed to do that anymore. That was split shifts and the unions landed on your leg a ton of bricks. So you start adding all these things up, and the need for a very substantial amount of money to rebuild a place to meet any kind of modern requirements, the family, my father's generation role getting into their 60s. So they just said, No, that's enough. We'll sell prices were pretty deflated at the time. So wasn't a happy time to sell. But it was really the only decision. The fellow that bought it. In fact, two gentlemen, as partners bought it, they had plans to rebuild and do all kinds of good things. And they'd only had it a Dogwatch when one of the partners suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack. And his wife petitioned and sued and got her husband's money back, which left one partner who had no extra revenue, the capacity to rebuild, just had to be put on hold. So he chose to the outside was let go completely. I mean, the gardens just turned into a pile of weeds. So the tennis courts weren't maintained, nothing happened. And he tried to maximize the revenue from from food and beds to try and get ahead of the game. And then he ultimately be able to rebuild well, he had an unhappy time. And he in fact, was shot and killed by one of his borders in the long term. So it had kind of, and then of course, they'd only had to place for five years and the old place burnt down the bad fire. But my family was accused of arson but I said no, no, we were long gone. So not us. But you know that that's so the old place went completely and unless you saw harbor house in those days and enjoyed the ambiance, you would really have no concept of what it was like it was a very friendly place where people came back year after year. The family every family member in their turn had a chance to to work there and do something wasn't peeling potatoes, it was mowing lawns, it was doing some gardening, I'd say Nancy, yes. You're never

Unknown Speaker 52:04
here. And it was just a great place to be. And it was tied in

Unknown Speaker 52:21
with a lot of fun yesterday, the Anglican Church feet was held there every year and it was an island happening. People came from all over you don't have to be an Anglican to go to it. They ran us or the tennis competition, clock golf putting competition they had a kick sales and all sorts of things. You know, the fish pond for the children was was it was a great event and a lot of people came and you paid for your tea. Mentioning tea that was something that my grandmother known I did. That was again a staple of staying at Harbor house that high tea was served on the lawn four o'clock every day, you know, unless it was raining and then it was done on a sunroom but people used to arrive just to have tea. It was no charge for the tea. It was sort of part and parcel of staying there. My grandmother would be in charge of the tea pots and cakes and cookies Billy would supply all sorts of goodies and it was a regular excuse me

Unknown Speaker 53:26
the hotel and then there were several

Unknown Speaker 53:29
cabins. That's right. Yes, yes. The you can see them there. On the right hand side of the hotel. The cabins were built those were tents originally. Kind of primitive things but they were kept the rain off of you. And the price was right I guess back in the 20s and 30s but you had to go into the hotel for the attached to the hotel proper was one bathroom. So if you were in a tent you shared about you shared wherever you were there were two bathrooms on each floor and you put your name on the list for a bath I guess or threw yourself in the ocean. We were rather easier to please I guess in those days, but the the tents were eventually replaced by cabins and they had from all the proper amenities and bathrooms of their own.

Unknown Speaker 54:15
People Thank you very much that was very interesting.

Unknown Speaker 54:28
To hear various pictures, momentum, things that were in our archives, when we put it all together for you your family history on Saltspring and we hope you take that home. Family good