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Charles Robert Horel

This recording is part of the Salt Spring Island Historical Society Collection and consists of a monologue by Mr. Charles Horel.
Mr. Horel talks about his family's origins on Salt Spring Island in the 1870s, (which is historically incorrect, his grandfather, Charles Horel came to the Island in 1878), and his parents work as sawmill and logging operations owners, before and during the depression.

Accession Number 989.031.048 Interviewer
Date January 17, 1986 Location Cassette tapes box File #24 to File #48 Shelf 8C
Media Audio CD
ID 43 Topic




Unknown Speaker 0:00
frustration somebody wants to sing God Save the Queen and start the process this should not be recorded because it's 10 inches. Face Off, how long does it last 30 minutes My name is Charles Robert Horrell. My family has been long term shutters on shelter to seven years my father was born on the farm by the grace

Unknown Speaker 0:50
of a grandfather Good luck in the year he died in 1894 He placed the longhouse citing house which is still standing beside the big rock at the top of the news hill coming out using the island was pretty well settled community on it even in the 80s into Chevron's ATVs and

Unknown Speaker 1:29
during the 80s Grandfather, Methodist Church, it was the first church which is now the United Church. And he is very

Unknown Speaker 1:47
my Aunt Sue, is awful. She was born on 87 died in the same year. My grandfather my father attended school went on through a number of adventures. The lion sailing ships that guide the taxi at night to 12pm my mother remarried on San Juan Island

Unknown Speaker 2:30
mother's name was when he later actually looked around and Howard Nelson am into the body was Miss little creek wilderness taken luxrender Creek mother ended up moving around in the flooded Creek pushing the shingle folks around

Unknown Speaker 3:15
Washington DC. And my sister Margaret was born on the backs of Kevin attended by an Indian midwife During the following years I'm working here Yeah, okay, well, during the subsequent years, my father was running a shingle boot camp for the McNair brothers up near Mount Vernon, with two or 300 Japanese employees working for him.

Unknown Speaker 4:01
During that time, he fell off a bridge with 30 feet off the rocks in a creek bed below and fractured his skull very badly. And the Japanese employee saved his life by getting down to a specialist in Vancouver very quickly. But he had a steel plate in his head from there on. Never seen reason why he was not in World War One.

Unknown Speaker 4:30
He subsequently went to work with a partner Peter perfect. And together they build a steel mill

Unknown Speaker 4:43
on the shores of the Fraser River, just below Scott road. And because my father built the road from Scott road down to the Fraser they call that real Portland road for a long time until they went to numbers over there and Around 1924 They ran out of wood and sold a steam mill and bought a portable sawmill and came back to salting in 1924 they chartered the CPR boat the motor princess to bring the equipment into Fulford Harbour. And even though I was only three years old at the time, I can still remember the equipment, the donkey engines and three or four, four trucks fortune donkey engine, the big old diesel engine for the sawmill fringe, the petro Vickers diesel for the cut off, brought this portable mill with generating equipment and everything. And two or three cars My mother had her own Ford convertible roadster and we drove up to Burgoyne Valley, and I can still remember driving through Burgoyne valley that day when we arrived and through all these very beautiful little working farm Johnny shine. Of course, I didn't notice how beautiful they were at the time, but somehow vastly interesting to me. We moved into a rented place. That time it was called Green Valley Farm. It has since been purchased by the by the government for a gravel pit which suggests how great a farm it was. But we weren't farming anyway, my father was running a sawmill. And for the first couple of years, they were very prosperous in that business. My mother had a maid in their own private roadster to run around with and bridge club. All this sort of apparatus which she didn't need care for.

Unknown Speaker 7:01
Until the lumber market crashed and probably was around 1927. And we we had been running my father had been running three shifts at the mill at the sawmill.

Unknown Speaker 7:18
And suddenly they couldn't even afford any any more than one man to work in the mill. We say to my father. So the whole thing collapsed at that time. The Good Life that worked we moved into into tent buildings alongside the hillsides wherever the millside happened to be on Saltspring Island. My father made a little shack or a floor for a tent. And we moved into into that and went to school from from there. Our family went to almost every school on Saltspring except Isabella point and the Ganges sent from schools, the restaurant one time or another we attended. During these years, of course, there was considerable hardship and there were no electric lights or radio or anything of that nature. At the same time, he even though we were probably desperately poor, we never realized that we thought we were pretty well off. We were one of the older families on the island, we already occupied a certain niche, you could either go up or down from that position. So hit was a very pleasant place for youngsters to go to school and to be raised. But as time went along, times got tougher. My brother and I and my sister all went to the sun and at one time or another

Unknown Speaker 8:57
which was pretty hard work especially quite young at the time, but taught a person a good many values for future life.

Unknown Speaker 9:13
During these years, the major business center on Saltspring Island was in the village of Ganges and Ganges had a blacksmith shop with all the bill McAfee as the blacksmith has had cobbler shop and the barber shop a number of places of that nature including a trading company where the Progressive Conservatives as they were called conservatives in those days, shopped at the Trading Company, which peculiarly enough was a form of cooperation. And the liberal shopped at mullets and everybody eventually found themselves going to Molex anyway because The influence and ability of older Gilbert nod homeless, the patriarch of soft Brunel and at that time he became in effect of all things to all men controlling, handing out lumbered orders, piling orders, long orders, taking care of financing, there was no bank on the island. So the power of all forms of power more or less are ran down through Gilbert Molex hands. Very few men in that position would have handled that type of power as tolerantly and decently as deliberate mode did. I also remember during the same period that old old Mr. Bullock used to drive around the island in a buggy with a handsome horse, pulling him around the club. The first one I remember him operating had carbide lights. And as a small youngster, I remember playing in a sort of long garage and what she had stored on under of these very well finished horsedrawn buddies, some early automobiles just beside the road, near the Gita leading into his estate. I think we were down playing at that time with the Nelson who lived on the upper Ganges This was during the middle of the depression 1930 Things got very tough indeed. My mother went off to Victoria to find work whatever in whatever line she cooks, she ended up she started washing dishes in the Douglas hotel, coffee shop and she ended up with a job as a hazard Warden on Paradise Island ready government had imprisoned but bigger bars for new parading and my father kept operating the mill for local orders. Whatever he could that he could get to make $1 on lumber, and we also hauled edge green Fern to Victoria that should we get out of the old growth timber on preemption. Down at the end of the cushion lake. We had to blow these lugs apart mister was stomping because there were too big to go through the little Shaman. Then we put the quarters through the through the mill and for my 18 inch edge screen for camps, which we chucked into the tutorial, my brother took me in on the Model T truck. The other income was was secured there at the time by selling maple borrows from a police officer. He cut off the maple trees yard, took them into green sash and Burleson. This time around, around 1929. My father and mother bought the quarter section, a little cushion Lake straddling the cushion Lake outlet. And that's where we spent the remainder of the 1930s. And where we did quite a bit of logging and pole counting and things of that nature during the Depression. About 1932 My father and mother divorced. My father left with my brother went up the West Coast. And my mother came home from Pierce island in 1934. And I set up a logging camp on that footer section which we had on the creek and eventually the logger who went to work for her running the camp married her that was Joe luck when he became her second husband

Unknown Speaker 14:56
Yeah, that was pretty unusual most days but my mother was a very and capable individual. She always credited my father was teaching her everything she knew about the the lumbering business and logging that she said he was a good man to learn from but a hell of a man to live with. They were both very impatient people and, of course, set off a lot of sparks. But at any rate, my mother didn't succeed in operating a lumber camp for a while there. And she did quite well out of them. Eventually Joe took it over. Joe Lachlan took it over, and they were they were married later. And but she still did his hiring and firing for and she drove truck. She wrote the blog and truck was blogs dumping down when we were dumping down in Ganges and she also drove truck load for the cedar poles and planning at various times that were taken out to be dumped in the salt water down in Ganges. Of course, in those days driving that kind of a truck that was pretty much of an adventure in itself because the the brake system were very unreliable and people were being killed fairly regularly because the early trucks had very poor brakes. I remember right the first truck around 1934 She drove had a hard rubber tire trailer. And of course trailer had no brakes at all, it just pushed all the way down on the truck. And I think that was at a time when it became illegal and I had to get that trailer off the road. Sometime around 1931 or 32, there were steamed donkeys that moved on to the island a fella by the name of Fletcher had a steam donkey working on the territory on the Stewart Road, more or less just suddenly suddenly understood before connection with the beaver point. And another operator by the name of llama veg at a steam donkey

Unknown Speaker 17:21
operating at Blackburn Lake area. And he brought in a number of changes to drive hard rubber tire trucks. This was a little earlier. as I recollect it must have been about 1931 or 32. And he went bankrupt up there as nearly everybody weren't going in those days left my father had taken his fortune donkey over and

Unknown Speaker 17:55
loaded logs out for Mike llama hitch and of course nobody got paid. So we just had to bring the donkey home forget about any receipts from that picture himself as I remember him as a small that was a very, very nice fella who over 750 Shrimp fish to hand up to a young boy Oh, my goodness, I thought this was tremendous sum of money at the time because I never saw 50 cents before. The same time. Around in the 1930 area there was a little outfit came in with a soft cap and the cushion outlet right at the foot of the creek. And this had been a holding area for lodge for the old Christian coal mill was operating in Cushing cove on a mile down from pushing, pushing Creek outlet saw the name of Mooney brought in the flute in 1930 31 area. And I think he probably had the first little track bulldozer on the island before my father. He had a little clique track. They were yarding hogs with down the skimboard besides Christian Creek, and he had a more or less League of Nations employees work and farming of all different nationalities from Chinese through to Scottish. And somehow it ended up that they actually did sell a lot but the chaps do a more didn't get paid. So the Scots went on the Irish when an Englishman went to Vancouver, took proceedings against was Germany and Germany ended up going to jail for that episode. My mother later when she was awarded for the divorce and going back and forwards to Ocala. She shot a gentleman in color on one of your trips and The Saltspring island during those days was a community of eight to 900 people long established farming community was a creamery which proved to be a real backstop for the farmers during the depression because they always got a creamery cash check the end of every month, it had its own hospitals since 1913. And very self contained community. Of course, we have citizens from all over the world practically settled here are some wonderfully interesting remittance men. Obviously, old British Indian type, some splendid old Swedes some a good many people in the category of kayakers, and part Indians, and, of course, a lot of Japanese citizens, I think there was only one Chinese he ran, he ran a market vegetable garden, right in the area where the Ganges sewage lagoon is being built right now. And, of course, the black population on Saltspring. West, quite considerable, they had been amongst the the very earliest settlers on the island, and were also amongst the most highly respected citizens on the island. This was dismayed Saltspring Island, a little bit different to most other areas where the blacks were treated pretty well are second rate citizens. I have no doubt that during that time, when everyone considered that the blacks were very well treated on soft gray, no doubt they, they did feel at various times, there was prejudice being exerted against them even on this island. But then I think, number of white people too, probably had the same feeling that other people thought they were better than they were, and so on. So I think it was outstanding in the way that I on Saltspring Island, there was a genuine effort on the part of the white people, to discourage people from talking against their blacks, there was almost a possessive feeling about them that they the local elders, very proud indeed, of the history of the black settlement. And of course, these people were all very, very good citizens. This this mixture of races lesson was a very interesting way for children to grow up. It was some time before I myself noticed that there was any difference between myself and anyone else attending the school. Because I don't think my father or my mother realized that there was any difference between a black or white Indian or a Japanese person. At one, at one time when I was very young. My father had a business associate, Matt and other than Nakamura, a Japanese fella, and they were such good friends and they always are still very amiable. And I had the idea when I was quite young that the lack of Maura family would relate it to us. So it did make a very good background to grow up in on the island at that time, very different to other places. found out later. During those days, they were early the late 1920s and early 1930s As I remember them as a small lab. The road drum Saltspring were all pretty well dusty gravel except for the Ganges Fulford Road, which had been oiled before that time. The traffic crash was very light. When when two cars met, it was pretty common practice for both cars to stop and have a chat before going any further. And if if anyone was walking along the road and overtaken by a car whether it was a trucker car the the driver all was stopped and expected the walker to get aboard the vehicle. It was simply an accepted proposition. There were CPR boats or serving Ganges at that time and beaver point. The Beaver point. Sure was stopped sometime in the late 1920s. At which time a I think it was about 1929 Because Patterson moved to store from Beaver pointed into Fulford and it was around 1929 1930 that Captain modern associate started the site pakka ferry run out of Fulford harbour to Fort Payne. So that ran on a daily on a daily basis and the CPR ferry called and Ganges on the way from Vancouver to Victoria and then stopped in again on the way back so that we had a choice of going to either town once a week.

Unknown Speaker 25:51
But of course, she had to stay overnight to go in. The on both days in Ganges when they CPR boat stopped. A large part of the population of North South Korea Island was at the dock.

Unknown Speaker 26:12
The produce being shipped off the island was still considerable in those days. Breed amount of eggs and farm produce show force being shipped up from watch warehouse alongside the wharf. And the man manufactured goods were being brought in but relatively small quantity because people had little money to buy trade goods. The population were reasonably self sufficient as far as food supplies were concerned. Even our butter was made on the island and mullets had a little slaughterhouse out of St. Mary's lake. So there was very little that needed to be brought into the island. But where's with producing farmers all over there was quite a bit of stuff shipped off the island. main occupation I'm shocked found at that time was farming. But just then my family were not involved in this. There were a number of little gypo logging outfits around. And we first ran the farm hill and then we're involved in logging show time we were not involved in farming, while my Uncle Jim Horrell had kept the old farm on release Hill until the late 1920s. When he died, his widow remarried and the farm passed out of the family at that time.