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Politics on Salt Spring Island

Marc Holmes

This tape is part of the Salt Spring Island Historical Society Collection and comprises an address given to its members, entitled 'Salt Spring Island 1940 to 1980'.
Mr. Holmes gives a detailed account of the politics on Salt Spring in the years he is discussing, with some details of economic life.

Accession Number 989.031.046 Detailed Tape Guide yes
Date February 11, 1986 Location Cassette tapes box File #24 to File #48 Shelf 8C
Media Audio CD
ID 41 Topic




Unknown Speaker 0:01
I came here with my wife in 1962. So what I know about the earlier part of this period, that is salt spring from 1940 to 1980. What I know about it will be less than what a considerable number of you here in the audience will know in fact might be just as well if we asked Mrs. Cunningham to play in the moody you won't be further ahead than listening to a relative newcomer and we've been here just 23 years. Alright, I'll do my best. Saltspring Island was engrossed in the war ever from 1939 to 1945. And for a while after with post war resettlement. It was a loyal community following the pattern in World War One. Partly this arose from the British influence, which was always strong here. Of course, before the war, that island had its own militia platoon, or the Canadian Scottish regiment. Are you listening to Yeah, led by the late Desmond Croft and when I left him later is Leftenant colonel and Commander his battalion does was seriously wounded, as he led his men in the assault against Nazi occupied France in 1944. Men who still live here on the island, who served in the pre war militia, but tuning glued Colonel Paul Laird, Chuck Harlow, re best Peter Cartwright and Ted Brown water rate war work rated high with the women in the community and there was much activity in the churches the Red Cross etc. When the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese took place in December 1941, there were strong shock waves that immediately reached the island. One Doughty warrior who recently passed away here, were claimed that it was the time to shoot all wise and take up last ditch battle positions. His wave was not amused. blackouts and aircraft spotting became big activities. Blackout curtains became the order of the day, even though much of the island was laid with rather dim oil lamps. The fear of Japanese attacker sabotage, spread right off the coast from California. And quickly that arose the demand for removal and internment of course Japanese, including Canadians of Japanese ancestry. radios were sealed fishing boats, seas, and considerable land holdings such as the sunset drive area were taken over by a federal government agency. Oddly, these properties fish boats etc. Were not disposed of until after the war, but the luckless former owners who received but meager compensation are given no opportunity to get back to seize assets. This despite the fact that no case of aiding the enemy had been discovered during the war. Very limited, additional compensation was later paid but the argument continues to this day, and many Canadians are ashamed of the treatment of Japanese Canadians received. After the war during the late 40s and 50s, life resumed on a somewhat similar basis to pre war. However, the difficulties of employment and resettlement of soldiers, sailors and airmen right across the country were not as great as the government and most people had expected. Gearing was important. And the President MB bakery building was a busy Creamery. Saltspring butter was a famous it was famous then, along the Saltspring lamb. Fruit became less important to the island as Okanagan, California orchards reached further out for markets with improved transportation. Somewhere around the early 60s Saltspring left the age of innocence. Its quiet rural lifestyle and sleepy villages were forced, struggling all the way in the modern 20th century pattern of living, population increase, much building crowding in some areas traffic, very lineups became common. Fighting broke up between those who wanted to keep the island the way it was and those determined to develop it for maximum monetary return. Prior to 1960 bushland is Nanci from land was described could be had for $100 per acre, or 100 acres or forward harbor see from where the original Hills strata title development is now. We're over to Gene in me for $34,000 and we came here we turned it down was the land we thought it was too steep to be a value. Today it is about 24 lots with an average price of at least $75,000 each. The Pioneer Laster family was just evolving rolling road when we came here and our to seafront loss for $3,000 and view loss for $750. Soon after this time, subdivision started to boom and we saw developments Like the 100 Hills, developed by Chuck Harl and Rob Pringle, but prices were ridiculously low by today's standards. In 1960, or forward ferry was operated by a local company headed by Gavin Maude, I believe with Captain George mod and Skipper about this time. The BC ferry authority was formed by W at Premier WAC Bennett, who evolved at Vancouver Island would never again be cut off, as it had been recently by a CPR strike. The last of all could not be kept in BC ferry strikes have taken place since then. The local ferry company was taken over with a sigh Peck sailing from the Suez, the Saltspring Queen and the motor Princess, a former CPR vessel looking after fulbourn Harbor Swartz Bay run along with the ferries, Mr. Bennett took over the durable Captain mod and made him local manager Catherine mod once told me that he was already all of what is now a full word for $750 but decided it was not worth it. As well died about two years ago, after being unofficial queen and full of it for many years. And his daughter Alison still lives beside the family home looking down on the ferry dock. The long harbour ferry must have been established about 1965 I'm not positive that there's any remember for sure. Bring a 64 Thanks. Oh, we're pretty close. This led to the Scott point, real estate development a subdivision of the Lawson Scott point and the Scott point Marina, Pete friend her and Hart Bradley were involved here. The library was established in 1959. One of the main founders being Mary Hawkins, wave of civil engineer Stan Hawkins they reside in the large St. Mary's lake home, now occupied by Dr. and Mrs. Andrews. Betty Carol must have been an original founder of the library where original work are you ready?

Unknown Speaker 7:05
No, it was about substitute. Oh, no, it was quite a bit less than that. No, much later.

Unknown Speaker 7:12
I went there a little bit but not too but 67 Yeah, you were here and 59 origin No. Oh, you weren't 6161 Was that? See? No. See anyone else it would have been an original founder to the idea of Platanus and certainly later came later and I'm not sure anyone else. I guess not the originals. No. Preparations for a Centennial Park and Ganges to celebrate countless 100th birthday in 1967 began in 1964. An echo the past was heard when Sol Sol spring unsuccessfully demanded a separate project for the South M. Most all families on the island and some who had moved away donated money for Memorial trees in the park. The names are carefully ratio to the library on an honor roll. Now some of these trees are being destroyed for a walkway and a banjo. A bandshell for an island that has no Ben. Colonel moose patter local magistrate at the time was chairman of the park committee with the lead Adrian wolf Milner a Tarot strength assisting him. Others on the committee were Dorothy and Jack James who looked after the horticultural end of the very important and of course, major Pinsky, who along with his wife used to run Turner's store. Our Radley laid out Bradley Lake Peter Bingham, dar the Kyle was Secretary and I was treasurer. It was at a meeting in 1964 called to discuss the centennial project that I first heard the words Planning and Zoning used on Saltspring I was to hear those words. Emotionally spoken hundreds of times in later years, the words planning and zoning. Zoning was suggested in 64 when Aiden wolf Miller and Charlie Harald decided the small lock development on old Scott Road, then just Scott road was undesirable because of the lot size being too small for a well and septic disposal field on us. Lots small lots of steep ground. The provincial government allowed lots of small as one three of an acre at that time, the Chamber of Commerce took some interest in land use control, originally, but later came to largely oppose the idea a little later, Mr. Harlow proposed to serve her Ganges and vigorously promoted a plan to incorporate Ganges to the village. This would make financing of a sir easier, but the proposal was defeated in a referendum. So it was taken 20 years from them to finally achieve this or people have been working for it ever since. And they're they fought it people fought it for 20 years to remarkable Sacco sort of story here. It'll be written up on our future history, I'm sure. By 19 68 shooting, many people become alarmed at the first big scale lamp development in the Gulf Islands. Magic Lake estates of Vancouver created several 100 small lots on North Pender with a Mickey Mouse water and sewage system. This system has caused constant trouble to this day. The upshot was the den Campbell, then Minister of Municipal Affairs and the WAC Bennett government imposed a temporary minimum 10 acre subdivision freeze on the Gulf Islands. Now the fat was in the fire. And the fate between developers and conservationists became red hot, Mr. Campbell ordered regional districts to develop community plans for their various islands to replace the 10 acre freeze with the projects became so contentious that years passed before many of these plans came into effect, and the 10 acre freeze lasts much longer than anticipated. The Regional District concept was introduced in all of BC, except the sticking area near the Yukon border in 1966. And at the same time, the Regional Hospital districts were formed. On Saltspring Mr. Doug Gray had been chairman of the lady Medical Hospital in the Gulf Islands Hospital District. This disappeared, and Doug was appointed Saltspring electoral area director on the capital Regional District board and on the regional hospital board. He ran for office in the First Election A year later, and won against Mr. Gil Humphrey. I succeeded him in December 1969 and was reelected in December 1971. In a hotly contested election against Mrs. Beth wood, well known as former mirror us minister. The first land use regulations, aside from the 10 acre freeze was the Saltspring Zoning Bylaw 1971 I think the community plan should come before a zoning or subdivision bylaw, but it was considered necessary to have a hold the line bylaw, while a contentious and complicated Community Plan was being thrashed out. Rapid growth and development on the island was making some planning and regulation urgent or the need for in 1970 Dave Bart's NDP government took over from WAC Ben, there are many people in groups intent on protecting the island at the time from overdevelopment, and powerful forces intended on Abolishing the 10 acre freezing and resuming uncontrolled development. Saltspring fortunately, had been spared any large scale developments like the ones on Pender Island and mean up to date. In 1973, the British government decided to form a four party legislative committee from the Legislative Assembly. There were four parties in the legislature in those days, and this committee was to visit and study the Gulf Islands and recommend ways to preserve and protect the Gulf Islands and their unique amenities. For the benefit of all BC, the committee visited 13 islands and held numerous meetings to discuss the question of island protection. You Curtis was the Conservative Party representative at the time. A unanimous report was eventually produced, calling on the government to establish a trust party elected and partly appointed to have power to protect the islands. Thus the islands trust came into being in 1974. This made the islands a special area legally with its own watchdog planning agency. I became vice chairman and later chairman. The trust was an almost unique concept below the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Cape Cod in Massachusetts and the California coast have something similar to protect their areas. In 1971, the building code was introduced to Saltspring Island, you had to get a building code building permit to build when we came here originally, you didn't need an electrical permit, or inspection how to pass an electrical inspection. This is British government law, but you needed no permit for septic tanks or her building. In 1972, the provincial government bought ruckle Park from the reco family for roughly 1/3 I'd say of the value of the property, the ruckle family for many years, it resisted efforts of developers to obtain their property and subdivide it and they were extremely anxious to keep it in Republic battlement and keep it in one piece. So they sold it for a fraction of its value. With the original they'd have lifetime tenancy. They're still living there today of course. The Saltspring Community Plan. Subdivision bylaws were eventually passed after much more discussion, and redrafting, and then again she's plan was incorporated into the CUNY plan. George Hi Nikki, who succeeded me as regional director was involved in the latter stages of legislation. I guess Mike Clemente here has had a hand in to Mike was director for one year, and about 1976, the island voted two to one favoring that islands trust or the Regional District for land use control purchase. Today, the battle continues largely underground between those forces mostly based off the island who want unrestricted development and those who want to reserve Saltspring the way it is now, who will win the battle is still unclear. That remains to be seen. Perhaps you'd like to ask questions or correct or amplify what I've said I apologizing I apologize for leaving out many names that were important during this period. Thank you

Unknown Speaker 16:03
any questions regarding this enormous period of time and economic activity

Unknown Speaker 16:16
can we try I have my wife and I may have made the odd slip for a year or so. But there were dates are these approximately correct? It was a crucial time. It was a watershed time as I say Saltspring came of age about that and had to face modern stress and modern world demands and it's still not quite clear to me whether this island will be developed in Coney Island or whether it will remain in the present rural atmosphere which we all came here to enjoy. We'll see if you have any idea when well as far as I crash you can tell me more about this is Roswell but I believe it came that North and now much sooner in the SOFIA I think it was well after the war that came to so then was 353 as was cutting our someone can tell me when the electricity came up here perhaps

Unknown Speaker 17:16

Unknown Speaker 17:22
Yeah 36

Unknown Speaker 17:23
around there up here didn't get down so then the guest will 53 Then there's quite a time lapse that's why I said that. During the war blackout curtains were used even though they had no oil lamps, but the spirit was there 4848 About Us row that was the OBC 100 Come here BC Hydro the old BC Hydro authority the bridge 9919 utilities originally, but that wouldn't be the ones that service the south end I don't think yeah, there was a small BC government hydro operating alongside a big BC electric in those days. And then I want utilities I know nothing about that says they were the first ones where they string their line across their power line across how to reach her.

Unknown Speaker 18:21
I couldn't really

Unknown Speaker 18:27
say probably there's one there. There's one from Beaver point that there's a Yeah. I don't really know. I don't know the history too. Well, supplying electricity here would make an interesting topic to look into someday. Before it came to that point. Again, just got there. At the same time yeah, that was a little before my time. So I certainly can't speak expertly on other further questions, perhaps someone would like to amplify what I said. flesh it out a little bit because I'm sure I skipped over two brief very nerve important points. To start obesity and the local Saltspring company here me started 31. For I don't think people come here he was just coming. September 1930. The Saltspring ferry company started as it was the very foreign space terminal. couldn't imagine much. The BC ferry authority didn't really start until about 1960 and built that terminal but they had had a dock of sorts. I guess that's where it's famous is coming

Unknown Speaker 19:59
in was just a really little just a little yeah no car or was that car ferry originally?

Unknown Speaker 20:09
We came back Thursday

Unknown Speaker 20:19
morning saw spring Queen sigh Peck. Oh yeah, of course it'd be the same. Whereas I think no last I saw the boys. Russell's. Simon Russell No, no couple other boys picked her up to her Prince Rupert and told her Donald. I don't know what's going on she I saw her long harbor I think few years ago. I don't know if she's still a fool.

Unknown Speaker 20:56
I'm Brian here. She's still afloat. She had quite a history.

Unknown Speaker 21:00
By the way, Mark Farber didn't get down to our place. Two years after we had put in 3000 feet line, or eternal life. We clear the garden.

Unknown Speaker 21:17
Can you tell us something about the genesis of the idea of international Boundaries Commission ideas to the international boundary conditions for Turtle Island?

Unknown Speaker 21:30
Yeah, that was a rather weird episode. Let's see, it would be about 72 or so I forgot. Their point Roberts, you all know that little tiny bit of the United States that sticks up into Canada and it's cut off by the boundary you can't American can go to point robbers coming into Canada, they are having a lot of trouble with their water supply mainly in BC government didn't see why it should provide a water system where point robber says American territory and their road access problems. And this went to the IGC. The International Joint Commission, which count on the United States have operated for good many years to solve boundary problems and similar things between the two countries. And they came up with a bright idea that if they could form an international Park and comes in parts of both the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands, they will have a headquarters in point Roberts. And why some convoluted reasoning this was to justify providing point robbers with various services and straighten out some awkward problems surrounding point Robertson is existence within the boundaries of Canada, you might call. So they held public hearings on this or they were going to take our pieces of Saltspring Island and various islands have international parks. With this point, Roberts problem was going to be solved by Megan headquarters from international Park. The public hearings on very badly indeed, in Victoria and other places, too. I think the whole proposal was eventually gracefully abandon that is my recollection. Now there are other points that perhaps you should take over as chairman yourself. No,

Unknown Speaker 23:28
no, that's fine. Did did the islands trust have any effect on the developments on the other islands such as Gambia whether it was going to be a launch mine and takes ADA whether we're going to double the garbage from Vancouver? Did the islands trust have any input into what happened in those instances?

Unknown Speaker 23:46
Yes, the islands trust had a big impact on Gambhir Island did a lot of work there they had their own each one of these main islands or 13. So called designated islands in the act. Each one has two locally elected members, including Ghana. Gambia was the least populous of all the islands. So they had a big influence and they were involved in this mind fight. Have a big mind and game your eye on up to their ears and this went on for some years. Eventually the local director lost trust direct to their sue the hours trust feeling me islands trust hadn't done enough to stop that mind and to force our trust to do more to stop it. The artists trusted discard that legally they didn't really have a party stopped that in mind. And what's happening in the mind today. I don't know what it ended up in a legal battle in court was one so all I know takes eight I was just beyond the stress boundary. So it didn't go in there. Yeah, the further just Yeah, Mike.

Unknown Speaker 24:55
What do you think of the future the islands

Unknown Speaker 25:07
Well, the Regional District and the house trust there are concepts are under review. Mr. Richie, the present minister Municipal Affairs, acts as sort of government watchdog over the islands trust and regional districts has stated that he does not want to dispense with islands trust, he is chopped with power in some regards and the Amalgamated them to lune extent with his department and this will fares, but they still elect the two members of each of the house. They trustees elect their own chairman and vice chairman, and that was Trust Act remains in effect, which is legislation which gives them the power and duty to act to protect the house. So unless until the legislative changes that act, there won't be too much taken away from the islands trust they could chop them down by cutting their budget. They said they won't do that their budget is small to begin with. It's a future I can't tell one will have a mic. It depends on the attitude of the government, they don't seem disposed to dispense the island structure at the present time. At any rate, that's about all I can say. Further questions, I think, well yes.

Unknown Speaker 26:33
came into the Ganges and people didn't realize that there was transportation. I think it came about

Unknown Speaker 26:42
Oh, yes. I'm sure people like Mrs. Cunningham and various others here can talk and map at length there. There was a mokwena was at a CPR ship and Princess Mary before that we had the otter Prince Yes. All right. I don't know anything about

Unknown Speaker 27:09
your honor was very slow. And then I go on the Ganges at 12 Noon. And I arrived in Victoria at one o'clock so I just don't know.

Unknown Speaker 27:30
To 230 In the afternoon, good memory, places that the author call or she was she worked again. And then she leave in the morning she passed out pretty fast 830 To 8pm to 730.

Unknown Speaker 27:51
But this time she left at noon, she was delayed left at noon this way I deliver and she called in different places but they still adopt a deeper claim. I think

Unknown Speaker 28:06
the government burned down the dock and be reappointed around 1961 That service had been dispensed with for quite some years of course it operated there and there was a store there Patterson store was originally I don't know what else was there and perhaps not too much LC pandered Queen where she no I'm not sure was a motor princess. And that had been a CPR ship not a character it operator right It seems pretty small fender queen but she operate right across the Gulf to Steve center summer.

Unknown Speaker 28:46
72 Yeah, I wouldn't take care across the Gulf in the winter and the fender Queen seems Mishi but small. She made it all right. Just make up a little presale

Unknown Speaker 29:01
chapter within the books that we have received here. And then there'll be extraordinary especially the larger ones that would come in with a home excursion the majority and they can do one time there were three votes time again just having together

Unknown Speaker 29:24
there wasn't the character for Vancouver.

Unknown Speaker 29:28
Where did you first come Saltspring best 62 I moved here got your visiting here as a summer tourist earlier.

Unknown Speaker 29:36
And then I came in 60 to

Unknown Speaker 29:42
62 over farriers operating VC firm

Unknown Speaker 29:48
ran the ferry I know there wasn't ever directed

Unknown Speaker 29:54
or not to Scott point. I mean again, you 160 Gilbert Rubio rose for a little period of time into one or two cars

Unknown Speaker 30:14
that's a lady rose and operates to the celebrate and West Coast event grow she was old Union steamship chef when I first remember her kid it's very old she's lovely I think I'm being more you're meeting

Unknown Speaker 30:37
of course rows down

Unknown Speaker 30:40
all cross yes they ran across Fraser River before the bridge

Unknown Speaker 30:48
and then we had ships that came from Kelowna Kelowna

Unknown Speaker 30:56
well it's possible to go to breaking broken her up I suppose and reassemble her down here. I don't know. She couldn't say

Unknown Speaker 31:04
any other question

Unknown Speaker 31:07
you mentioned the word and they store at a deeper point where were they will do well on the left hand side you go down there on the paved road about as far as you can drive this is a picnic area there and there's a little beach on your left and was located on there. What do you call a point?

Unknown Speaker 31:30
Lane point the house was on here they were in front of if you went past the front of

Unknown Speaker 31:44
the concrete workers

Unknown Speaker 31:46
Yes. The daffodils still come up with the one of the two places that

Unknown Speaker 31:50
they're surprisingly durable. They're old cabins in the woods. Jane and I and Ruby often hanging around or discarded and abandoned for many years and they still got pretty good crop of apples every spring

Unknown Speaker 32:03
I just see that I have two commercials to make one day when we were finally built most restore and the second or at least the junk free data that we

Unknown Speaker 32:16
talked about earlier both on the sets of postcards

Unknown Speaker 32:19
which are available for sale Oh

Unknown Speaker 32:26
have any other questions or any other commercials

Unknown Speaker 32:31
about Ganges days the book called the north and then trading company with a drum and bass obviously the legal route. They're stuck. They're different Why did you choose

Unknown Speaker 32:53
not to enter the forward wharf? I don't know how long I was used when we're out in the harbor from roughly where the pump is now. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 33:11
Any further any,

Unknown Speaker 33:13
any more items of interesting news? Any more commercials? Well, very well. Thank you, Mark. It's been most interesting and appreciate your coming to tell us about it. Oh,

Unknown Speaker 33:29
it's a pleasure. Real pleasure. We joined the organization today we're gonna do asarco hysterical.

Unknown Speaker 33:45
Is there any other business and the meeting is adjourned for coffee?