Salt Spring Island Archives

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Olive Clayton (19-)

Anyox BC

Olive Clayton talks of her childhood in Anyox, B.C.

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Feb. 9, 1988 Location Salt Spring Island Archives
Media Audio CD
ID 27A Location Central Hall
Topic Anyox, B.C. Detailed Tape Guide no
Restrictions no




Unknown Speaker 0:00
Well, as Tony has just told you, Antiox was a Copper Mining and Smelting town. The largest in the British Empire we were always told on observatory inlet, which was which runs parallel to the Parkland canal, 90 miles northeast of Prince Rupert. It toes down in 1935. After running for about 20 years, the population has been reported as everything from 1500 to three 1000. And it was a complete change company. Captain Vancouver mapped observatory and lat at the end of the 19th century, it was part of nishka tribal territory, and no doubt a few Indians went north from the NAS River on hunting and fishing expeditions. But I don't think anyone has ever found any Indian artifacts or pet to get set up. They're meant to some prospectors in the 90s take the first mineral deposits. The big one on Hidden Creek changed hands many times before the ground, the company paid $600,000 for a decrease in ownership and poured 3 million into developing the budget. I suppose you could multiply that by 20. Now to get better because or more water because these days the company was lucky the copper deposit proved to be much larger than expected. And the gold scene was discovered when blasting started that reputedly paid for the whole project. The smelter was blown in in 1915. And what must have been a very beautiful valley full of magnificent trees and waterfalls was reduced to by the smoke from the smelter into a desert in about five years. When my mother and I and nine when in 1920, there was nothing growing on the town site when my mother and I first went up there except elderberry bushes, the red berry tight skunk cabbages, and the scar manager. by some miracle managed to keep green on it. We never found out how we did it, and had a few ministrations and other simple animals growing around. My father's went to Antioch in 1917. They wouldn't have him in the Army because of her heart. And he was tired of his job in Vancouver. Like so many other people in Antiox. He was a British immigrant, a trained optometrist. optician graduated from the Northampton Institute in London, who was supposed to go into spa this business, but thought he would rather fire him in Manitoba instead. A year in the sod farm house was enough. And in 93, he went to Winnipeg and got a job with Burks. In 1910, he and my mother moved to Vancouver, and another job in the jewelry optical business. And then he went to and there proved not to be enough people in Antiox, who needed glasses, or to have their watches and clocks repaired. So he did that in the afternoons, and morning and evening, he worked as a manager for the community League, the latter round the community hall, a large building with staff and play rooms on the ground floor, a big pool hall above counter selling magazines and candies, and what had been the bar until the government decided to take over the liquor business. When my mother and I went up to annual x for the summer and then to 20 to live in the sublet house. The bar still smelled strongly a beer that had been taken over by my dad is an office. There he kept the trade magazines for the movies shown six nights a week in the hall on the top floor. The show changed three times a week. And my mother and I usually win because we got him free. I also had the most glamorous paper dolls in town. Best out of those trade pro trade magazines. The janitor work was done by old Wong foo it's a great favorite of mine because he was a Chinese there were quite a few Chinese and Antiox all called chinks. You know those days and old one gave us the most marvelous Christmas presents. Huge boxes of chocolates. The biggest one I've ever seen. I think it was about this love this why, and had a flapper In the tiger skin on the list, but I was only allowed to have one chocolate every day. So first we got very stale and we had to go back to Vancouver after that first summer because getting a house and accompany Tom like me Alex was a slow business. Finally in the following March we moved north to a new house and a row house sorry, Addy ox was a very hierarchical time, the manager lived at the top of the highest hill, a lower order below. In those days there seemed to be 1000s of single men in the workforce, especially in mining towns, and the ox had three huge bunk houses, and some small ones, and a big mess house. They were down on the flats near the smelter. Also on the flats were a row of cabins, the smallest housing units, three or four sets of four room row houses, and a fair number of individual houses of varying sizes. Up on the list of hills above the flats, were several streets with more houses of various sizes. Whose pictures other than these old albums if you'd like to look at match rates, they were quite good houses very well built. So we're all buildings. There were schools, High School Public School, churches, Catholic and I think it was about them that the Methodists and Presbyterians united and the magnetic to the church. There were l tall, tall and a moose Hall, a hospital offices, doors, all of the things that compose a town were there and a couple of miles at the belly was the mind settlement with some of the same things. The houses for comfortable and all the buildings very heated by coal stoves, which didn't help the smog Of course. The prevailing wind as I remember, it was mostly from the southwest. So the mind seemed to be constantly ghost in sulfur smoke pictures of the town site, which you can see in here. Show what it looked like. And of course, the beach as the main Congress called was always done with student smoke too, but not quite so oppressively. Sometimes it was foggy and we all choked. I can remember a little black cocker spaniel jumping frantically on all the chairs and beds looking for a little bit more air. I was in the second reader when I went to having started school in February as you could in those days if your birthday was March. Great for was full of students so they put me in grade five. We had a very colorful teacher whose name I will mention because she married and came to live in this park. She might turn out to be somebody's mother, but she liked to sit when their feet on the desk. And as she offered more bright green bloomers. This was a spot of color in the room. I still have the report card on which it was is recorded that I got 35% Luckily, in grade six to which I got promoted anyway, we had a very good teacher who took the trouble to take me through the mazes of long division. The schools had big cement basements divided for boys and girls, where we played jacks and hopscotch and Skid Row. Outside there was well packed snow the result of total winter falls or 40 or 50 feet. But only occasionally did it freeze hard enough to make it good crust. When it did we could slide down tomorrow. Let's see nervous ash pile outside the high school. One year we actually had an open winter couldn't very well call it green. But it never snows till about after school. We rotate slaves down the hill your streets. There were no cars, horses and wagons when we first lived there. And later a few tracks. The roads recorded really heavy boards laid on the Muscat. Let's get considered too rough for bicycles. No one had one. I will pick off some of Dinantian acts as a little boy but later than we did. And he remembers them having rotary clouds that sometimes threw rocks through people people's windows. But I don't remember anything like that. I think they just told when they got tractors they push the snow aside most of the pictures and when to the roads. More like tunnels

Unknown Speaker 10:03
it's hard now to imagine life without long weekends radio and television. My dad had a boat. The first of all, he had two boats. The first one was an open one. With a removable Canvas tuck the second to launch with a very large inboard motors, bunks and a little coal stove. But I don't remember that we ever counted it because I'm only having Sundays off. However, we could get a fair distance of hasty disarm, which was really mild. Once we saw a grizzly bear wandering along the shore, and up to the mouth, the ballots arm where there were several days to itself for smoke penetrated. We usually went with our friends thieves who had a bit bigger and a bit faster boat than ours. We both took friends along once we got far enough away to feel we received from water polluted by the smell to base so my dad had believe collected some huge muscles. And next morning, the two couples had them for breakfast. Neither the girls arrived. An hour later the next door calf, to whom my mother had given us the remaining muscles was stiff and scarf and her mouth at the time were numb. Billy was paralyzed all over that recovery. It wasn't until we came to live on Saltspring island that I realized that it was probably red tonic. But in those days nobody knew anything about them. In the summer holidays, my mother and I went twice to Silver City twice during all this time for a month, both at the head of ours. And my dad came for a couple of weekends in this boat. Silva said he had a most impressive town plan someone had laid out had only a row cabinets along the shore LSI Macross. The inland had been a boon Tom, they were the first great board when the Dolly Varden had been so rich and silver that a 14 mile railway was built up the kids Salt River. The ward close it down and there were wild Tales of 1000s of eggs and other foods being thrown off the trestles. And the locomotive sat on the government dock getting rest here every year. And with flowers growing out of the smokestack. There were still a few people and now it's time with houses and cabins strewn across the valley about the type flaps. The story was that there was one $10 bill in town and that went around. Every year some government money paid for make work projects. One year all the houses were pulled around to make streets a lot of the houses were on logs because the tide there was about a 24 foot tide I believe is that right deadness in that part of the world. And so all they had to do really was wait till there's very high tide of men. Both houses, straight roads, it spoiled the look of it. And another year they built a big wooden bridge that led to nowhere across the kids celebrate the the only summer we didn't spend up there. In the summer of 23 My mother and I went Winnipeg to visit my aunt for two months and I never got over the disappointment of missing the great fire, which almost destroyed the town. There's a couple of pictures in here in the beginning of it they expected the powder magazines to blow up. So barges are ready to take women and children out in the bay and cotton wool issued for earplugs. Someone H hercog. Will and someone took an umbrella as her most precious possession. Which one Magazine did blow up. But the breakages of Windows China and glasses weren't as bad as they might be. 20 years later, I have been told an even greater fire finished off but was left.

Unknown Speaker 14:33
The amusements as I say it's hard to imagine now what we did with ourselves without any radio and TV. But they weren't dances to which children were allowed to go sometimes young teenagers when there were there was a dancing class that held concerts and A my mother belonged to a Dickens society that put on plays from Dickens books. There were a lot of card parties. I think cards were a great recreation. And a lot of people had wind up gramophone. Most people seem to have a piano. You even had a player piano, which was wonderful. And there were, there was a good reading rooms. And the papers came in, of course, bass a week and there were lots of good books in the library. And my father, who was no diners giant, the Elks club because they have the best poker games. I think they went on. I have no idea what he won or when he lost no when he won, he liked to buy mining stocks. So when he died there was Robert lot. Been in stock. That was the first ever baseball games in the summer down on the flat. You can still remember sitting in front of an Italian family reading this apparently Ethan's catalog. I might say that Ethan's catalog of course, everybody shot for me this catalog and Simpsons catalog but this Italian gentleman even had it memorized as all women came and sat on the bleachers he was able to say how much their dresses all

Unknown Speaker 16:41
in my day, there were no Scouts and Guides. Why but when will tech by the time willscot They're in the 30s they have set them up currently and they used to hike 10 miles on an overnight hike and 10 miles back up Hastings iron to Green Tree point which was the first green trees they could come to the Union steamships Gardena and Capella calian undies and the CNR Prince Rupert and Prince George on Thursdays after three great day trips up the coast. These are great occasions because the mail and the newspapers arrived. Fresh fruits and vegetables for the store. We had newsreels of show of course, and word of world disasters relayed from the Wireless Station where wireless MacDonald presided over a forest aerials and receivers. I remember them because he and his wife were very more powerful. She was one of the first to shingle her hair and wear short skirts. And I remember going down there with my father and she was showing him her whole steps of the works of Freud, which seems to be an erotic fire a lot of those. And the huge slide pile was built up from the waste material on the smelter. They made a golf course on it with sand reeds. And my dad's clubs. Soon veteran Patrick looking the swipe file mark the boundary of the company count. Beyond was the Empire a blue line. An elderly Chinese ran a restaurant, a store and the red light district. Blue Line had recently been able to import White from China. There were very few Chinese women around the space. And he should have gone and picked her out because by mail order, she turned out to be very cross-eyed and homeless. But every year she put on a full length urban coat and went to the hospital and had another baby. Oh, oh Lu as reputedly a good cook. Whenever they needed one in the jail in Prince Rupert, they could come and arrest him for bootlegging or living on the bail saw. The ladies of the evening came shopping in the company store once a week, looking very glamorous black satin coats and hats. And a great deal of makeup. We children stood on the corners of open mouth to watch them go by well Peck who lived, as I say, an extra couple of years from the 30s. So as the little boys knew what it was all about, but I don't think the little girls I know I will fall some volunteers the information that on Saturdays, which repay the man bought a case of beer and joined the long line up on the trail across the site. My mother and I left down the arts in 1997 high school and didn't grade 11 In those days and because of being jumped. I was ready to go to UBC at age 15. But they would only have me if I lived with the close relatives I didn't have to go to. My father stayed until 1935. The Depression brought a drastic reduction in wages, and according to will, longer working hours, his stepfather and he says, we broke one of the locomotives down from the mine, on shift work head only two days off a year. And there was a strike in 1933. And the ingot copper piled out of the dark because the price plummeted. Many people had a hard time and the mind closed. But some got jobs not live long after when Copper Mountain started up near Princeton. My father got a job in Vancouver in Woodward's optical department and bought his first car that consolidated Mining and Smelting bought out Granby. Some of the old down yards equipment went to Yellowknife. Stanton, who's here this afternoon, says that some of it ended up to the new Yellowknife Hospital, which they didn't appreciate. And commit color hopefully drilled up the Hidden Creek Valley for years, looking for a new orebody when Dr. Gary and I lived in Yellowknife, we used to hear about this and I always wondered if maybe I was going to end up. However, they did never find anything they thought was worth working. And as I say in 1943, a fire went through and burned up pretty well, everything. Even the docks understand Oh, however, someone may even now be up there looking for mineral. And I haven't heard recently, the last person I know that was up in antioxidant STEM at SeaWorld, and he's here this afternoon. And has told me that he will say a few words about what it looks like now.

Unknown Speaker 22:22
This being a historical assess the topic, too much on that side. But I was lucky enough to be able to visit any office or the side of any office about five or six years ago. I was quite thrilled about this because you can you can get in a vehicle and you can drive to sand and various other historical places. But to get the Antiox was quite something else. I was at that time working on a research ship. And we were primarily going up to the minor kits sold which is in LSR Muckross. In the old village of Alice. There was a mine of molybdenum mine at that time and we were monitoring the efforts or what they were putting into the sector. So on this particular trip, we had half a day spare in our schedule we worked out for and canal and various other parts of the coast. We prevailed upon the skipper to anchor off any ops. So those of us interested could get ashore on scout around us. So I was most interested in we had half a day, but we just wandered around and it was all overgrown. Naturally, there's very little left of the buildings. I think there was a chimney left and there was a bit of a dam left on the creek, etc, etc. But everything else is all very overgrown. And there was literally nothing at all that the wealth we did find one small cash of gasoline 45 gallon drums of gas, which have probably been dropped there by chopper reimagined. So maybe somebody had a vehicle had gone back up in the bush and sort of little, very small mining operation or one exploring or perspective or something. But that's literally all it was. From my point of view, a seafarer. We anchored in the bay. As I say I'm one of the things particularly I remember when we have away on the anchor, when we started to get up the filth with bits of wire and junk on the anchor, which showed all the ships and the barges and things have worked that day over the years. And there's all this junk left on the sea bottom after all these years. The other point is that the Bush struck bush you could still see the result of the fumes sort of blowing up north and south. The prevailing winds were still highly discolored after about

Unknown Speaker 24:59
a year Three? Because the pictures I'd seen as well,

Unknown Speaker 25:05
yes, well, it was going to have some extent, but it's quite noticeable the different colors of proportion. The other thing from a seafarers point of view, I often take the early days on this coast. And what we have nowadays is the men that took those ships, passenger ships and freighters and everything up and down these coasts, as they did ever in the world. But on this BC coast in particular, they had very few navigation lights, they certainly didn't have radar, we have all these things nowadays. I'd run up and down the East Coast, up in that part of the world, Portland. Now there are not many likes, but there are some. And when you see that they took those passenger ships out from Vancouver, and it's Prince Rupert. And they mostly got there. Certainly the Western shipwrecks, some of them collided or when the ground was cetera, but what they went through and how they did it within the doors and precious moments.

Unknown Speaker 26:02
I have a few pictures here with the Prince George in the Khatallah rather rakish angles, on rocks, however, they floated them off,

Unknown Speaker 26:13
in a spot, get the job and medical supplies up, which of course was all by statements and budgets. So if no communication whatsoever. That's all I can say. I'm interested.

Unknown Speaker 26:25
Thank you. Could you say something about our side and see if other sounds right. They did make a mining town out of that again, definitely after the last for,

Unknown Speaker 26:35
as I understand it, yes, that's before a little bit for my time. I do recall that we went into Assam and those the village the remains I've left on the northwest corner there. And even in my day since I came about the early 60s, I think Northland gave up the Northland had a regular free call at Alakazam. Up until about the early 1960s. It was that they went on up to strip but then Northland were gay gave up their substitute was withdrawn because most of the places they were serving had other means of access then the word VOD service to some of these sports but at Assam so when we were up there we understood there were about two Oh sweets or something living in the village which you often get these links and then the minor kits out there were a lot of trailers and things was the mind the mind was over. Well, I don't know what in your day we it was called kitto Village.

Unknown Speaker 27:37
Once I've gone the other side from the it was it silver? Yes,

Unknown Speaker 27:41
it was on the sound. But that might shortly after we out there that mine closed also molybdenum price went down and Europe shut down the moment. There's absolutely nothing going on up there. As far as I know. As I say this is about five or six years

Unknown Speaker 28:10
past the amount of money went into almost

Unknown Speaker 28:14
anybody any questions I could ask

Unknown Speaker 28:19
interest the trees are feeling as bad as failures to do something. I think so. Same thing Yes.

Unknown Speaker 28:28
A small, small area. It was as bad or awful Oh, yeah, trees was pushed there but still very discolored.

Unknown Speaker 28:45
It's remarkable that anything grew at all. Because after all the fires smell

Unknown Speaker 28:58
if they post the tone down, or just sort of feeder away,

Unknown Speaker 29:02
oh no, they close the town down and ground the company sold its interest to consolidated Mining and Smelting. I don't know why consolidated wanted to do this. Perhaps they were opening other places. As I say they send a lot of the stuff from there to Yellowknife. And maybe they thought they could use it somewhere else. But I think it was Granby company that opened perhaps Mary pipe Did you know whether it was Rambi company that opened compromise your principle? It was yes. Yes. So that must have been considered a more economic development there perhaps? Yes, because quite a few families the belly like father's brand who'd been the postmaster and and yatse lead cop from 1935 But it was a famous place and an infamous place to in the last years that it ran the day they were getting paid to something that day and taking $1.10 board for the single man the mind became a really killer mind and offline still people went there to work because this was the depths of the depression. Little money was better.

Unknown Speaker 30:41
This was an underground mining was it No,

Unknown Speaker 30:44
no, no. And they didn't develop the glory hole, which was a great big open pit eventually but it started

Unknown Speaker 30:59
they built

Unknown Speaker 30:59
concentrator in the years that I lived there which reduced the smoke a little bit. The copper all well, and good copper, went to Tacoma smelter, went like we were up the coast last spring took our car on the ferry Prince Rupert and then on up to Haines. And one thing I noticed was how empty the coast now see. The in my day when we were going up and down on the coast boats, there were all kinds of canneries, small logging operations, little tech boats popping around. This year there was practically nothing I think we pass one log a few fish

Unknown Speaker 31:55
it's surprising how many people did live in the on yachts for a while. And I in this book of pet Louboutins, it says 480 people were born in their lives loo lands, children's books. They have they had fun Antiox reunion about 10 years ago. It took a long time to organize. They advertised in papers all over the country but it was a great smashing success in the hotel diagonally across from the city hall in Vancouver. And I was astonished when we went got in and everybody seemed to arrive at once and we were all going down the stairs at one time when I didn't see anybody that I thought I had ever seen in my life before. But it was just that I hadn't thought about love these people in 50 years you know one side seen them and talk to them then then I could remember

Unknown Speaker 33:05
quite frank law range where ex mayor of Vancouver was born there. Tom Waterland minister was born there. At this party there were several Chinese fellows I wondered if they were Lou Ludd children

Unknown Speaker 33:33
I think

Unknown Speaker 33:46
know I couldn't remember the name Nelson. Vaguely you know, but then I've known Nelson's other places. So I don't know. My father gave up the nanny job at the community hall. Oh, a couple of years after my mother and I left I think perhaps by then more people were wearing glasses. Because he seems you that is to make it pretty apparently he just wouldn't be selling business. And there were I forgot to mention the tennis courts. There were several tennis courts, all native boards, and in the hot summer days the balls would bounce up enormous height. Major game probably did precisely what it would have been on grass. But they were very good about letting the children play on them during the daytime. Certainly we managed to put in a time there was a restaurant which I don't remember much about. That was your bluebird cafe with the old band SAT. There was also an ice cream parlor where I I think I got a shin plaster if anybody remembers the shin Plaza 20 fives I got his shin plaster a week for my allowance than I used to spend part with him on going to the ice cream parlor and having soda. But I don't think I did that very often. That was a very saving

Unknown Speaker 35:30
I know when I went back when we went back to Vancouver to live i i felt rather as though I'd had a much more exciting upbringing than a lot of the kids that I got to know at university been brought up in the city I didn't think they'd had nearly as much fun as I I think that's about all I think, Tony these pictures are here. This one which was flown to me by a friend I was visiting just last week who also moved in on yachts. The paper is rather fragile so be careful turning the pages that they show what what desiccated place it was.

Unknown Speaker 36:20
Thank you, let's be most interesting. On the top of the society. I'd like to thank you all very much and also to Dennis for updating us on what it looks like now. Thanks for

Unknown Speaker 36:37
there's no other business the meeting is adjourned.