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Purdy - Beddis Families

Don Cunningham, 2006

Accession Number Interviewer
Date 2006 Location
Media digital recording Audio CD mp3 √
ID 209 Duration

Linda Korocil’s slideshow on the Purdy - Beddis Family History




Unknown Speaker 0:00
Good afternoon. I'm pleased to introduce today's presenter Mr. Don Cunningham. As many of you know, Don is the grandson of raffles, Augustus Robert Hertie. Don will share with us today some wonderful stories about the pretty badass family in the early days of Saltspring. Don

Unknown Speaker 0:26
thank you for I'm overwhelmed to see how many people are here today to to listen to the Carolina border family history. Grandfather raffles was actually kind of a debate in the family as to what his origin was because he was born in actually born in Belfast, Ireland, of British ancestry. So it was a debate as to whether he would be Irish or whether he was English. So they decided well, because he was living with parents. And there were migratory workers working on cathedrals, as stone carvers and woodcarvers. That he would retain his English because I break everything a piece here. Maybe I bet she's talking to the

Unknown Speaker 1:25
house, that'd be fine. Thank you. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 1:34
So anyway, so we'll get back IE. They were stone carvers. woodcarvers. And raffles was one of the 10 in the family. He himself decided that he did not want to be chipping up pieces of wood, or pieces of rock. So he said, Well, I will take up after my father's vocation, and that would be into education. As my great grandfather, which is raffles, his father was a professor of mathematics and English at Queens College, Cambridge. And so he was very well educated in that respect. So in growing up in the south of England and Bristol, just out of sight in Somerset, he spent most of his youth there taking up Educare. Sorry, teaching so his first teaching position was in London, and did good very well. But unfortunately, he ran into a bit of a problem with some of the students, which is a belief, possibly an ongoing problem. He had a problem of head lice in the, in the school. Well, to combat this, it was mandatory that the use of the children or the teachers wash their hair on a regular basis with carbolic soap. This being done regularly. Grandfather lost his hair very early like at 19. He said, This is not for me, I'm I think I shall go out and visit my sister who was now married in 1871. And emigrated from Britain to the new world in 1873. So, in 1880, he decides he's going to get he gives up teaching and heads out to the new world. Well, at that time, the Civil War had been over and done with but there were still a lot of feelings towards the black people. And they were on the feeling that they were in favor of servants or domestics, but they were totally against anything to do with slavery, they had no no regard whatsoever for slavery. In fact, they were gold and if they would, had to contain their same feeling that they had that they should possibly be seeking a state to the North were to do union north so they chose Nebraska to be where they were going to be taking up farming. Well, advertising in England was said that whatever you do in in the northern states of the United States, you just tickle the Earth with a with a spade and the yield will be bounteous. Well, it was so for a while because as it was brought to the family's knowledge that when you put potatoes in, you could get up to potatoes but the size of a small boy's head, which was pretty good sized potato when you realize that that Tito's are not known to grow on that big always. So anyway, harvesting was great. Everything went along fine for the first number of years. And then they started getting into problems with plagues of locusts, etc, like that after one year alone, they had a plague of locusts again, 37 miles wide. And it just completely wiped out everything that was green was just gone within just a matter of actually days. And then later on, they were wiped out again with hail storms. The hailstorm would come in some of these hailstones being saved a small golf balls, and just devastated the crops devastated the animals devastated everything they actually owned. And they said that they had enough of this very hard country to live in. Because in summertime, it was tremendously hot. And wintertime, it was bitterly cold. And there was just seemed to be no relief from the bugs, the pests and the and the various other predatory animals just kept around. So they said that's enough, they were going to go back to Britain. And friend said, no, no, don't go back to Britain. Come west to kuttu. to California to San Francisco. That's the place to be. It's the land of milk and honey, you can do whatever you want. There. There's gold found there. Farming is great. You can do anything you wish. Okay, we'll give it a try. And how long? We really would like to get back in there British soil. Wow. Okay, well give it a try. So they went back, they went to San Francisco, and San Francisco in the 1880s was not the best place to be. Let's put it that way. The there was murders, there was killings, robberies, and carries on like that. And I think what really kind of put the icing on the cake was they were, I believe up in their salon in the above one of the hotel, and there was a slight altercation in the room below. There was a bit of a bang, and a projectile come up through the roof up to the ceiling that kind of put the icing on the cake. So that's it for out of here. So they said well, let's go on to the we want to get into Canada. Well, you've got the choice of the Crown colony or British Columbia with its capital of Fort Langley, or better still the Crown colony of bank Iran was its capital of Fort Victoria. Essentially regular ship transport between San Francisco and Victoria, Victoria has ended up being their destination. So arriving in Victoria, they had ideas of going up the east coast of Vancouver Island because it understood that cold had been discovered and that that would be over there was called they could equate to responsibly prosperity and they could make a reasonably good living. So how does one get up there? No other way but by boat and they don't have boats that usually go in that direction. So you basically do you bought a boat or you build a boat? Well, they ended up buying a boat and raffles decided that he being the wealthier of the of the members of the family that he would purchase this 38 foot slope and it costs him the address he thought the atrocious figure of $300 for a 38 foot sloop but in at 82 That was nearly four that was a a quite a large amount of money to be partying with. So anyway, he took possession and decided they would head out to their to go up to the east coast of Vancouver Island. Well they got a little off course ended up on Orcas Island and decided well that's fine we'll just wait anchor will be here we'll have a pot of tea and sort ourselves out and get on our way. Well they didn't get the kettle boiled before there was a excised manner arrives and so be you Americans you can stay be you British that in your boat and go because we don't want your type around here. We've had a little battle over you people and sociable. Fine. Okay, well back into the boat and the way they went ended up back and and now they're in Sydney. And so people are befriended them in Sydney and took them in. And while they were getting reprieve, rescission, or provisions etc, they matter Mr. Mrs. Alfred ruckle, who would come from Admiral Island. Now of course, Admiral Anand as we know it today is actually Seoul spring but it was in the days of cook in Vancouver, it was designated as Admiral Island, mancha de Indians called a to an island. But as to the British settlement is always classified as Admiral island. So they were asked if they would like to come in, and maybe possibly settled there because Admiral Allen was looking for people to to settle and study, well, let's take them up, they'll come and see what Witcher three is to offer. So they came over visited Heracles and seemed to like what they saw, and said, Well, okay, we'll take a bit of a record odor or sail around us with what land we can, what we would like. And they said, well, that white beach further up, grant that Emily said, That looks like a very reasonable place for us to set up for the Corps shore and see what there is. So they dropped the anchor, but ashore. Of course, that time they had, I think it was five, five sons. And I believe it one daughter. And so the first load to assure was one of the younger little boys, Lionel. And of course, she's cavorting around the beach and thinking this is great, they're on on a fresh oil and that's it. And all of a sudden is a great bit of yelling and screaming going on. And he beating himself around himself quite badly and

Unknown Speaker 11:31
only to find out from the family that he is tired slightly and decides to sit down on what he thinks is a nice soft, a piece of a log. It wasn't it was a wasp nest he sat on. Of course being July he got rather a warm reception. And so that's actually then the the family moves ashore, they decided well, okay, it's July can, we can now don't need to build anything right now we'll, we can set up our tent. And we found there's a lot of game in the woods or deer and Bros and the sealed and fish of all type seaters, cod, salmon, soul, and clams, etc. So it's all like this pretty good. So they basically just summered there. But the idea that they would build later on, and of course, with the help of other pioneer families, were able to by November, get a log cabin built, and they then they can move their iron cookstove van and basically have shelter for the winter, which was fine. But the old house, not being built to the standards that we are used to today, ended up getting a problem with the chimney and the fact of creosote. And like any chimney of those days, a chimney fire could be lethal. Well, it was in their case, and they lost their entire house. So they had to go back to square one start all over again. And this time, they built a more regular frame house further around in the Bay, which have pictures showing of their newer houses they call them. Well, at that time, the there was a bit of a problem with when it came to education. There weren't that many schools about and any schools that there were, they had a real problem keeping teachers there usually young female teachers that would arrive, only to be snatched up by the young girl, younger and more rural, single males on the island. So no matter no matter what you get a school teacher, she last maybe six months, maybe a year, and then she was gone. She was speaking somebody's wife and raising a family. So we're going out to raffles. Augustus Robert Bertie had been a teacher in London, and they persuaded him to come and teach. Teach here on on the island. Well, at that time, the, the, the school they needed the most floor was the Central School which actually sat right next door to the central hall here of which, at the time was being built by his brother in law and, and, and his eldest son, Charles, they were in the process of building not only the central hall here, but the Stephens Grubb, Stephens boarding house and also in due course, this marks church. So of course, it meant that when the boardinghouse was finished, raffles would come up, teach all week long Young and in the finish school, and then on weekends, he would go home to his property which he then preempted on, betters roadworthy, which is now the president, Mary England, her property and proceeded to clear the land from the seat up. But he built himself a little two bedroom cottage, the cabin at the bottom of the, by the sea, because it was easy for him to either go by horseback into an to Central or go by boat and then horseback, up here to Central. Well, as time progressed, of course, she had to declare the care of the land. And he hired follow with good fall trees. And it was always a bit of a mystery to my mother later on that to grandfather so long to follow tree. It would take them anywhere from a day and a half to two days to fall one tree. She say, Well, her dad said the mother she said, Why is he so slow in falling those trees he said, My good girl, he said to realize that the thing was eight and a half feet across the but I only had a six foot cross cut saw. So anyway, they've fallen trees, there is no way they could could move them. So they just fell them where they lay, and set fire to them and burned them never just don't know where you clear the land because there was nothing the oxygen wouldn't move and the horses couldn't move them. They didn't know how they were going to get rid of the all they were interested in was how to clear land. And that's how you cleared it just fell this primal trees and mark them readily because there was no value to them. Because farming was what they had to prove to the to keep their land, they had to carry at least an acre of land, build a house build a barn to go well and maintain it. But whatever which way they could get a crop or whether they had livestock or whatever, they had to show some means of improvement. My you didn't have to pay taxes on it until it had been surveyed. But still, that was pretty hard task. And those days when today we have equipment that can go in and clear acres of land and not and flat. for them. It was all just hard work and and very, very hard work at that because we didn't have they didn't have the tools that we were so used to have today. So going on from there the lot getting back to that educating of students being so educated as he was he would take the children on to their, what they call the eighth grade of schooling. Now, normally, grade five or grade six was looked upon as all the education that a child would need because of that time you're old enough to to be able to have to work on the farms because farming was the the main thing that was required, but if there's any child especially grapples with say any child that was have the inclination or wherewithal to to go on to higher education, he would tutor that child so allowing him or her ever to go on to university entrance at at a later time. And there were a number of them that would be tutored by him and it was through his workings that they were able to get their matriculation etc and then enter university. Well then in 1919 10 after the was actually in a ti 93 is when his sister m&e Bettis lost her husband Samuel to he got to he had a stand up getting a cold and it ended up turning into Percy and then into pneumonia. And of course, being that there was no doctor on the island or at all it meant to cure to get them off or anybody who was seriously injured, get them off in a boat and hail or pass any penny passing vessel heading towards Victoria, which was the closest hospital where you'd hail that boat to to stop and you'd put the injured person or whatever onboard and they would then take them into Victoria where they would be admitted to for medical help. Well, that time Emily was expecting their her child and so anyway, she bundled up her husband, Samuel and in blankets etc and loaded them into their their skiff and wrote them out to the passing vessel that was heading for Victoria and a man or four months later, she gave birth to my uncle Jeffrey, who was the youngest of the family and left to coerce Emily a widow with all of her large number it was nine children shed all together to fend for the farm and look after everything and that time as it was the older boys had found wives and it returned to the to the betters area. So life was beginning a little easier for her and she was of course missing the the connections with this, the city and she and her brother raffles had decided that maybe they in 1910 should go back and look up the the old family back in Bristol, England, and because possibly this would be the last time that they could either of them could, could do it. So they did they a book passage in Victoria, and in due course, ended up in Southampton and then to Bristol. Of course, the reigning sisters in in England had decided that they must throw some kind of a celebration for the, for the returning sister, brother. And so they invited a number of their good friends from that they had known for a number of years to come to the celebration.

Unknown Speaker 21:30
And raffles was just meeting different people like that. And his eyes looked up and this young lady name was Alice Mary Weymouth walked through the door. And something struck him right there. He says that lady is going to be my wife. And she looked at him from across the door. Similar Phil Simurgh effect, she said, I'm going to marry that man. And that was an answer about six weeks later, they got very well that quite well acquainted. And he had had to leave to come back to to Canada. And she said, Well, it would be very nice if we could still keep corresponding and he said he would definitely make sure that would be so so when he arrived back in Canada, he corresponded with her and asked her to marry him, and would she come out? And she said, definitely, that she would come out. And he said, Well, fine, he would meet her at the, at the train in Vancouver, because now they the CPR railway at that time, went coast to coast. Well, it was rather an impression on on her because coming out from Britain, where real traffic is such that it's quite a sophisticated system of movement people. Well, coming to Canada, I don't believe she had any idea of what Canada was for distance. Because I believe she was brought to my attention that she thought the train at one time was going around in circles. She got on the train and left. And as she proceeded West, she said I went to the bed, the reflection trees. She woke up in the morning with leaks and trees, but the bed lakes and trees next morning lakes and trees but then finally it flattened out and they got to Winnipeg. So So then they cross the prairies and through this immense mountain range of what is now the the rocky and Arkansas Rocky Mountains and then ending up in Vancouver on the due course not many weeks after they were married in the Cathedral of Victoria and in 9919 10 and my grandmother, Alice, Mary Pradesh is now arrives on Saltspring. Now, for a lady who has been used to all the amenities of upstairs Mary's downstairs maids and the girls of her time with the ladies of her time and of their distinction were that they were more or less he wouldn't say ornaments but there was always duties that the girls had to do. They're being educated they had to take up music. So grandmother or granny or grandmother pretty had become a An accomplished violinist. Also, she was an artist woodcarver, and numerous other things, and also very good with her hands as far as needlework was concerned. And as my Aunt Mary would say, she never had her first piece of Starbuck clothing until she was 17 years of age. Well, grandfather and grandmother decide to have, they're going to raise a family at this time. Grandfather Purdy is 50 years of age. And grandmother. Bertie is 39 years of age. And she had her first child when 1912 than 1913, and have two children at risk perished. And then her last child in 1915. So it's pretty late for a lady of those years to be bringing in children into the world only all survived. And that was it. Well, grandfather, being that he was a staunch believer education decided that they needed to be properly school. So if there was no way they could get to their regular school, which was a divided school, he would then teach the girls at home, and so that they wouldn't miss anything. Because it's one particular year, they had a very massive snowfall, and he was six and a half feet of snow. And it took the roof in, and the divide school. So no school, no school, didn't stop him from teaching his children. So he, he taught them and once the school was rebuilt, and back to school, they went, well, then it was working the land, having his own as having like raising sheep, but prior to that, before he had gone back to England, he wanted to always raise have an orchard. So how does one get an orchard? Well, you just can't go to the nearest nursery and buy her trees. You have to bring them in from from afar. So he wrote back to I guess, would be a nursery or something in Ireland, and in England, and wanted to start up an orchard they said, well, the only way they could do it would be to send up the cuttings to him. But they, they would send them out via potato via potato potatoes. And you wonder why we were potatoes, or what they would do, they would take the the potato and they would punch a little hole in it, then they would take the fresh cutting, and he would insert that into the potato, and then they would ship it. And that cutting would live off that potato for up to six months. So when they when those cuttings would arrive, he would then take his what he called his rootstock and then graph these cuttings to form his orchard. And he had something of an area of about 120 varieties of trees. But it was not always just as easy just to plant just apple trees. You had to plant the right apple tree in the right place to pollinate all of the other apple trees, if they were pollinated by that particular species of of a tree. So if you didn't put the right pollinator in, you didn't get a crop. So you had to be very sure of what you planted and where you planted it. And also you had cherries and plums and peaches and other things like that. Well, then he decided that well, this abundance of of apples raffles, societal Well, being a true person from Somerset, life does not continue unless you have what they call cider. And there's a soft apple cider which he allowed his daughters and his family members to drink. But he also had what he called his hard cider. And then he had his extra hard which he called his scrumpy, which is a little bit more potent. Well, in 1924, the government was saying that you were not allowed to sell any alcoholic beverage in or the over the amount of 9%. Well, grandfather's was 11 plus plus. And many have obviously, mild headache was created for some of grandfather's cider. Anyway, he had to disband his making of Hard cider and you could only just take his regular cider and he would boil it, sterilize it and bottled it, that would be the way to do he would sell it and he would sell it for that time he was getting 30 cents a gallon for his cider which we thought was a reasonable price. And at that time being it there was no Okanagan there was a quite a large demand for fruits and vegetables, etc. And of course he supplied to quite a large amount of, of apples, plums and pears, etc. That were shipped off to the Victoria Vancouver markets. Well, that was fine until the Depression hit. And he sent his various boxes of apples off to Vancouver, thinking that I'll have enough money to at least pay the freight. Well, in fact, he didn't. By the time he got the the apples delivered to Vancouver, he was given a bill for the fruit because the apples didn't cover it. So he said well, why am I doing this when there's nothing in it for me so he he had to give it up and that was it.

Unknown Speaker 31:24
So raffle See he say on four unfortunately had passed away before either my, my older brother and myself were born but his wife Alice, Mary was still alive. And she was able to have and see her first grandson Ted DODDS in before she passed away in 1935. And that's basically the pretty well, as far as I can go right now and think I'm going to be damn boring you but I think I've added my quota of time that I was supposed to speak to you. Thank you