Salt Spring Island Archives

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Kay Booth (19-)

The Beddis House

This tape is part of the SSI Historical Society collection, and comprises an address to its members.

Mrs Booth gives a detailed account of the renovations that her family carried out on the Beddis house, and outlines the history of the house from 1901 until recently.

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Nov 10, 1987 Location SSA Cassette tapes box File #1A to File #23 Shelf 8C
Media Audio CD
ID 26 Location Central Hall




Unknown Speaker 0:01
Well, we first got acquainted with the Baptist house. When we came, we went to a picnic, that better speech. And the house looks so interesting to be sitting there in that field by itself. There were no other neighbors around at that time Geddes has owned the entire property. And it, it always intrigued us because we'd never seen it. And so when we heard that it was on the market, we decided to go and have a look. And we fell in love with it right away. There are lots of times we wished we hadn't fell in love with it. Because this is how it looked when we got it. You could hardly see the house for it being totally washed in it, like the past that

Unknown Speaker 1:03
the house had been vacant for about four and a half or five years. And prior to that time, Mr. Pettis and her two brothers had lived there and had maintained it the best they could but they were very elderly people. The house when we first went into it, there was no power to it. Naturally, nobody's paying power for five years. And it was dark and everyone said it was such a dark house. Oh, why would you ever want that house but it was a beautiful house. Upstairs, it was nice and bright and sunny and you got a view of the sea from two directions to the north and to the east. It consisted of eight rooms. And later porch was added. And that created a night through a long sloping roof and another room was added in that slope over the porch. Bathroom was a lean to over the back kitchen door. Which I think if you were taller than this, you'd bump your head on the low slope of the roof. The construction was rough hewn timbers and two by fours and some of them were like from the base of the house up would be about 28 feet and it was one piece of lumber right up top as it was stripped diagonally with the shiplap for bracing and horizontally inside as well. So it was a very warm house for that period that it was built. It had dropped siding on the outside and later was covered with shingles. The drop sighting in itself was a wonder there were lengths up to 24 feet in one board with not a not in it just would be dream stuff. Now you I suppose we export anything of that quality now because I don't think anyone would pay the price to buy nowadays. inside some of the areas were covered, the walls were covered with muslin. And wallpapered over that was shipped last month muslin and then the wallpaper over that instead of anything that we would recognize as being normal ceilings on the main floor or 10 foot for an upstairs or nine foot something so you know the rooms appear to be fairly small and high you know almost like a box of equal proportions. Closets were almost non existent. The biggest closet in the house was about a foot deep presume presumably nobody had enough clothes to have to stuff one of our classes with that said you know, they had their good clothes and they had their clothes so that that that's a different thing. They the best is had a home generator, but we found a permit for 1957 to do the hookup to hydro in the proper wiring was installed at that time. And just everything about the place was thriftily done very nicely finished. And considering what little they had to work with, they did a beautiful job of it. We found quite a number of things around the yard and in the house, but unfortunately an awful lot of things were found on a bonfire, there was a huge bonfire with many things and very few were able to be rescued. The one thing that we did rescue was a journal that was for 990 8090 minute now when it's at night for the first six months, and this is where we had copies made of this journalist too delicate to handle because it was burnt all around the edges. But it lists the different trees that they had in their orchard. There were just many many kinds of apples, peaches, pears, prune plum, everything and they were all very carefully recorded. And there was a diagram like on a grid plan of the orchard which was extensive and they shipped fruit as far as the Yukon and there was a big jam factory in Ganges that I presume they supplied as well. But in a month all this was this diary for the first six months and it was obviously written by a child and it was the types of entries are these. January the third wind led up thermometer rose right they made fires in the field. Wind got up again. six eggs went to Christmas tree and had firstly right in British Columbia. January the 28th went hunting all day. And we shot a deer did not get it but killed gross. smoked out Hakuna and did not get it either. January 25. They grafted all day. February 3 It rained all the morning did a little fencing in the afternoon. The wind Northwest and eggs 14 so that they every day. Life was very much involved with keeping track of a wind, weather. Just everything in that nature. Father sold apple seeds. Charlie went up the bay to miss eggs to Mrs. Caldwell and got a bottle of medicine one of electric oil very 13 went to Tom's for Hey Father fed uncle sheet that would be your father sheep and sure Mrs. Getting Charlie and Henry to go to stem. There'll be the 15 They stomped all day. Worked in the back bottom in the morning. In the afternoon planted potatoes that was March the 27th which is early for planting potatoes. Father and Charlie went up the bay. This is a row of about five miles that they wrote up the bait to get these provisions. They brought back a sack of flour and two bales of straw. It's very important. Charlie went up the bait came back this evening brought three pairs of shoes, two sacks of flour and a sack of oats and it goes on and on with what they did throughout the time. Another note here is one pound of butter 25 cents. These are expert excerpts from the diary diary. And it just shows that there wasn't much else except burning fires pulling stumps and weeds and collecting eggs. Only occasionally do we find them off hunting or going to church. The other thing that was in the journal was the poem that Samuel betters had written I would like to read it to you if you can bear with me. I am looking back don't seem long since wife and I first met those happy days when we were young sometimes I feel so yet but I heard the children say at separate time tonight. My father's hair is getting gray and mother's hair is white. I don't see where the time has gone since wife and I were wed. And now our boys two men are grown and our little girls Her dad, the king just like the flowers in May and vanished from our sight. No wonder father's hair is great. And mother's hair is white.

Unknown Speaker 10:09
I call them children still. Although our jack is six foot three, and Charlie's got a girl in town and Henry goes to see our neighbors girl across the bay. She assumed to be his wife. Oh, well, my hair is getting gray and mother's hair is white. I don't see where the time has gone since wife and I were wet. Then happiness seemed all our own. And all look clear ahead. The Sun Sun shone out so bright that day. We had no care in life. But now my hair is getting gray and mother's hair is white. We've seen some troubled times since then and try to storm the road. And through the busy haunts of man have born a heavy load. But ease comes with declining day asleep comes with the night. Although my hair is getting gray and mother's here is white. That can't be helped her getting old and soon must go to rest. But if the truth must still be told, I love these days the best will lay the burden down some day and hope a future life where fathers hair will not be great, nor mother's hair be white.

Unknown Speaker 11:25
Point out the differences in the pioneers. lifestyle in our room. All the values of medicines were pointed towards the land, their house faced the land. And the secondary view was the sea. They were farmers that that's their livelihood. And In consequence, the area between the House and the sea was their mid it was just totally littered with cans, bottles, battery fragments. You name it old dishes, everything thrown out the back door. It it wasn't important to them to have that as a lovely view, or lawns or gardens that was not in their line of importance. Blue Willow China was about us how to set of it and there was evidence of that all over the property. I don't know how much she ever had left. But there certainly was a lot even along the beaches. There was fragments of blue or China and the sheds. Now there was something else. I don't think anybody could match the collection of things that were in there from machinery, tools, dynamite. Broken down everything else, absolutely nothing that could possibly be of some importance in the future was ever discarded. And if anybody has ever been up to our local dump, you'll know how different that is. Maybe we should do a little review on some of that. My family learned an awful lot from this experience. We'd never done a total renovation on a house before. And it involves very basic things. Some of the foundation needed shoring up, some of the joists needed to be replaced. needed a new roof, although the old roof had been shingles, and then they had put sheet iron corrugated tin or whatever they call over that. That was they were the only two groups until we put on a new shingle roof. And we had quite a lot of fun with that because the boys who were old Oh 810 and 12 at the time, were helping us remove this corrugated iron. And it's pulling nails and letting the sheet slide down off the roof. It was a lot of fun, except that Perry was on a sheet when he pulled the last nail. And fortunately his dad just managed to catch him before he slipped over on this pile of other sheets that had gone ahead of it. So he learned something there and since he's in construction now I guess it's been a good lesson.

Unknown Speaker 14:52
More we renovated the more we respected the effort that badasses had put in into building a house so large. They didn't have power tools. They didn't have any of the conveniences that we had, they didn't have electricity of any kind to help them with lighting even. And the house was well built. And it certainly was large. Even the transportation of building supplies was a problem that we didn't have to cope with.

Unknown Speaker 15:35
The partner in the house was quite small, but it was intricately done with a series of panels made from V joint, their pounds are about this wide and four feet high. And it started off with the center board and then boards like this, and they just kept building out to reach this panel. And the whole room was done that way. And the ceiling was done, starting at a central square and radiating out in diagonals, which was another difficult thing. I don't know how many hours they spent doing that. The part of the garden must at one time have been beautifully kept. There were just incredible quantities of daffodils and Narcissus. Tulips bomb so snowdrops, there's just like massive snow drops, and old fashioned cabbage roses. That had just a beautiful perfume in the evenings. climbing roses Bramble roses, there was one particular it just looked almost like a wild rose, except it was a climbing rose. And it was brought from Ireland. Especially their poppies a large area of the wild Easter lilies. The apple tree outside the front door, at one time had four varieties grafted to it. There were still three there when we knew the place but there had originally been before there was a large walnut tree wood, which just was marvelous for Coons and crows. We seldom ever got any even if there was a good crop because the coons would move right in and hiss at you if you tried to scare them out of the tree. So we didn't get much out of that.

Unknown Speaker 17:52

Unknown Speaker 18:03
They just clean the tree. Well, the shells are quite soft and wet when they're still green.

Unknown Speaker 18:11
It's when you get the outer casing off that the inner shell gets hard. One of the really nice things about having undertaken this project was the people that we met, because of it, there would be people would see that there was work being done and they drop in and say, Oh, I remember the house when this happened or that happened. And they just want to come in and see all through the house. What we're doing and why we were doing it when quite a few people thought the kindest thing to do would have been to take all those into the house. But we we had some just lovely visits from people. It was one elderly lady who paused while she was walking up the stairs and turned around and said you know it must be 40 years since I climbed the stairs last and added she had so many happy times in the house that she just could hardly believe she was back there again to visit. It was another lady who at one time had lived it who lived in Seattle, came to her door and she come with her mother for several summers to visit Mrs. Bettis and the CPR boat used to stop out in front of the baddest house and drop anchor and badasses would grow out to take the passengers off in front of the house. And she she was about 10 or 11. Somewhere there and on the return journey. She got to sit on boxes of apples that the badasses were shipping so they would roll out with with the boxes of apples and the people that were going on board And she just that's one of the happiest memories of her childhood. And then we had a visit from Mrs. Irene justice who was Lionel badasses daughter. And she told me all sorts of stories of how much time she spent down the hill at Grandma's house, because she lived about a half a mile up the hill there isn't a lot else I can tell you. Whereas we owned the house for 20 years, we still always thought of it as the baddest house it never really became our house. It was always the baddest house and I think it always will be the baddest house they certainly put their mark on it. This is how they host looked when they first completed it. And later they added a bay window here and then the long porch sloped down over here. And then Clyde justice sent this photograph to us after visiting us and this he thinks was taken somewhere in the 1930s have a view of the farm from up the hill and this is the house here and then the barns are crossed the road and news some sort of an enclosure here that would be perhaps pig pens or cattle pens of some kind that they have. This is a picture of the I'm sure a lot of you will have seen it this was the first little cottage that badasses had right by the beach. And I can pass these around too if you want to see them up close

Unknown Speaker 22:09
so far as we can determine it was about 1901 but their original house of course they came in 1884 so that but that yes, but they're all the tax records I think got destroyed didn't pay for the early Saltspring tax records it's at the end of baetis road like beyond that. Yes. Further. I spoke five miles from Ganges right. It's a bit of subdivision now. It's owned by Maggie and Gary McCarty and they have done very extensive renovations and changes to the game but I haven't seen it so I don't know what it's like now. I brought along the album that we made up of pictures as we've wrapped it in if anyone would like to look through that you're more than welcome to do

Unknown Speaker 23:29
Bristol thank

Unknown Speaker 23:37
you yeah, I have it somewhere too, but not with me. And I've turned over quite a few things to the farmers Institute to that Yes.

Unknown Speaker 24:07
Just wait for it at 49 in Wales. Definitely Emily Blakeney got to interesting, I will check this now. Because when he died at 93, a bit more than about 44 and his wife's phone was written it must have been practically circumstances

Unknown Speaker 24:35
weren't that hard. We probably wouldn't too. Yeah, it was pretty difficult. Because when we first got to know the betta spamming people used to say, oh man, bet us and we pictured like you know, an 84 five year old man. Then we found out later that he died when he was about 44 pneumonia No no no no that was just the references that people made that we assumed that that when Samuel died that he was an old man but that isn't that isn't the case so

Unknown Speaker 25:21
yes he died in Victoria from what I understood it was in ammonia and first I think that's mean has any other questions otherwise and once I got down to Venice Beach I discovered that there were Indian artifacts lying around. So I started I couldn't I didn't know what they were to begin with.

Unknown Speaker 25:52
Didn't know what to look for. But when you start looking, it's very easy to find things. This is a collection from the beach. It's all surface collection no digging in mittens it's just all it was on the beach and I've got scabs more at home some of the better things that are brought so if you would like to look at them it's pretty difficult to hold them but I couldn't explain things if anyone wants to come up and ask the album

Unknown Speaker 26:31
what we have there's well a lot our weapons but there's a lot of survival things like there's fish Barb's there's knives for dealing with everyday food adds plates for woodworking there's beads thrilled ornament there's libretto. Stone Hammer was used for pounding food as well as for using in construction some of the antlers were used for taking bark and plants from trees and their did used to be elk on the island and I have one Elk Horn and what's the difference long as you live down there

Unknown Speaker 27:48

Unknown Speaker 27:49
in fact I was down there one day this summer and I found another one

Unknown Speaker 28:02
well, there's a series of codes so that the the main beach where they had their first house, they found they got very little sun there and more wind and so their their other location is farther away from the beach, but on another little beach that there's a whole series of posts. Yes, there as well as on a little course. Every little pool had its own little yield

Unknown Speaker 28:46
the boathouse for zoning the second course they have special it's only recently been torn down

Unknown Speaker 28:59
oh yes, well, they were in the shed. But there's these old irons and the they did put in hydraulic Walker system with the hydraulic brand from Christian Creek, which is quite a big lift up and over the hill. So they had piped water at quite an early time and we donate the old hydraulic round to the front of the shoe. So it will be in the museum Weldon that was when the parcel was subdivided than water was put in for the from Krishna to supply the whole subdivision

Unknown Speaker 30:00
The two of them are private. No, wrong one is posted. Yeah, the other one has access but very difficult access. The first time would be where the dog sign went up. It was the dog about this big that was called cuddled.

Unknown Speaker 30:25
That was directly his dog. And they had these were the dog signs all over the place. And it was little paddles that used to come over and cry on my doorstep when they went out.

Unknown Speaker 30:41
there any more questions? Sorry.

Unknown Speaker 30:49
I'd like to suggest that we get underway with the T and at the same time, everybody can't get into the kitchen so we can sort of take turns and get around the table and have a look. Thank you ever. So that was just wonderful, really. And I'm sure that there will be more questions people will be approaching you