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Sophie King

Sophie King

Mrs. King speaks about her early life in the Sisters of St. Anne Convent, her work as a domestic; her marriage to Mr. King and subsequent work as a farmer and boat builder and mother.

The provenance of this film clip is unknown, but it was present in the audio files on the server so it is presented here.



yes, 11.03.2024

Molly Akerman

Interviewer 0:00
I'd like just to start, you know, start with your early life and what was your name before you were married?

Sophie King 0:07
Sophie Purser, Purser.

Interviewer 0:10
And you were born here?

Sophie King 0:12
Yes. I was born on Beaver Point.

Interviewer 0:15
Where did the parents come from? Where did your father?

Sophie King 0:18
My father came from England. Yes. Mother was a native.

Interviewer 0:25
Tell me where he came from?

Sophie King 0:27
Well, I don't know. What part of England he came from.

Interviewer 0:29
But you know when he came here?

Sophie King 0:39
No, I never saw my father, never even saw a picture of him. No.

Interviewer 0:42
So you grew up here with your mother. And where did she come from? Where is she from? Saltspring?

Sophie King 0:48
Well, I grew up in the convent. I was put in the convent when I was about three years old. And stayed there until I was 17.

Interviewer 1:00
Tell me, you don't remember anything of your life really before that? Sophie King 1:04 No, no, no.

Interviewer 1:07
Tell me how do you remember the convent like that?

Sophie King 1:11
Oh, I loved it. Loved it. I never wanted to leave it.

Interviewer 1:17
Who was running the company? Sophie King 1:19 Sisters of St. Ann.

Interviewer 1:22
Tell me about it. Tell me about it. A lot of other native children there?

Sophie King 1:26
No. Well, there was about 40 girls. They weren't natives. No. Many of them were day scholars.

Interviewer 1:44
This was at Cowichan? Sophie King 1:47 Yes.

Interviewer 1:49
Where abouts in Cowichan?

Sophie King 1:50
Well, between Duncan and, and Cowichan.

Interviewer 1:57
What was the building like?

Sophie King 1:59
It was a very large building, and dormitory for 50 girls. Big schoolroom.

Interviewer 2:12
No boys there?

Sophie King 2:14
No, no boys.

Interviewer 2:15
Now this would be the same building where the boy schooled?

Interviewer 2:19
Yes, it's the same building. But it's enlarged. They put a wing on it, you know, made it very much larger.

Interviewer 2:26
It's a beautiful situation.

Sophie King 2:27
Yes it is. Yes, it's on a farm. See?

Interviewer 2:31
Yes. What would you have to do? Would you have to, would you have to work on the farm with all the girls at all? Sophie King 2:38 No,

Interviewer 2:40
That was looked after by other people?

Sophie King 2:41
They had hired men.

Interviewer 2:44
What sort of things would you learn at school?

Sophie King 2:47
Well, well, I did fancy work, you know, embroidery. And sewing all by hand sewing by hand.

Interviewer 3:06
You were there, you didn't go away and holidays?

Sophie King 3:08
No, no, I was considered an orphan.

Interviewer 3:17
When you left the convent, I mean, where did you go down?

Sophie King 3:20
Well I came back to the island. And then it was beginning to be a little more settled, you know? But there was only one horse and buggy on the island. When I came back. People still had the oxen

Interviewer 3:39
What parts of the island did you come to?

Sophie King 3:41
Well, just where I was born. My brother was living there. Up at the lake.

Interviewer 3:48
Which lake is that?

Sophie King 3:49
Stoll Lake. That property all around there was a part of our home.

Interviewer 3:55
On the way into the road from here.

Sophie King 3:57
Yeah. The first lake you passed coming from Fulford.

Interviewer 4:00
I see. Did you have any other brothers and sisters?

Sophie King 4:03
Yeah, there were seven of us in the family.

Interviewer 4:07
Were the others were older

Sophie King 4:09
Oh, yes. In fact I didn't know my brothers. I had to be introduced to them many years after I left school.

Interviewer 4:21
And then they sort of took over the farm.

Sophie King 4:23
Well, the oldest one in the family had the farm

Interviewer 4:31
Are any of your brothers and sisters living?

Sophie King 4:33
No. I'm the only one living.

Interviewer 4:36
And you were born when? What year were you born?

Sophie King 4:39
1880, I'm 85.

Interviewer 4:44
Okay, very well.

Sophie King 4:46
Everybody says so.

Interviewer 4:54
But tell me, is there anything about the convent life that you couldn't say anything that happened there in English particularly. Any incidents or?

Sophie King 5:06
Well, I was very happy there. And we had our exams once a year, you know, and the district used to come in, like people from Duncan and all over, would come in, listen to the examination. And there was a Christmas and there was Easter. They were great days for us.

Interviewer 5:31
What would happen at Christmas time?

Sophie King 5:32
Well we had a Christmas tree in the schoolroom

Interviewer 5:38
There is always a big day I suppose, with maths in the morning.

Sophie King 5:42
Oh, yes, I'm sure I had maths every morning.

Interviewer 5:47
Is that pretty early in the morning?

Sophie King 5:49

Interviewer 5:51
Well, when you got back onto the farm, tell me, tell me about it. What happened and you lived there for a number of years before your marriage?

Sophie King 6:08
Well, about five years, I worked in Victoria. And I gradually moved around the place. I went to Seattle and Tacoma and worked everywhere. And I was just a domestic worker.

Interviewer 6:12
How did you like that, in Victoria?

Interviewer 6:27
Well I was, I worked seven years in Victoria. People were very good to me and nice kind.

Interviewer 6:33
Any well known people in Victoria that you worked for?

Sophie King 6:38
Well, yes, there was Sydney Pitts. He was a wholesale man. And but I was three years with a family called Tribe, George Tribe. He got drowned on one of the CPR boats going up to, up north somewhere.

Interviewer 7:04
Then when you came back home here. Can you tell me anything that's happened in your life? You know, well, after that you were out and then you came back again?

Sophie King 7:20
Well, after I came back, I got married.

Interviewer 7:24
Did you come back to get married?

Sophie King 7:25
No. I just came back on my own.

Interviewer 7:31
And where did you live?

Sophie King 7:32
We lived right here. Right here.

Interviewer 7:35
Your husband lived here before?

Sophie King 7:37
Yes, this was his home.

Interviewer 7:40
Tell me about him. Where did he come from?

Sophie King 7:43
His father was a Greek. And he got this as a homestead. And we raised a family here. And they went to school and beaver point.

Sophie King 8:03
That's interesting. And then what? What did he do? What did your husband do here? Was he farming was that purpose?

Sophie King 8:13
Well, he did a little of everything. He became a logger. He had his own camp, employed men and he had horses, logged with horses. Then he became a fisherman. He went to the Fraser River and fished. Then in the later years he became a boat builder. For quite a number of years we both of us, we both helped to build boats, row boats and small launches.

Interviewer 8:49
Where did he do the building?

Sophie King 8:50
Down in a boathouse

Interviewer 8:54
Did you ever go fishing with him?

Sophie King 8:55
No, no, no.

Interviewer 8:57
You stayed at home?

Sophie King 9:02
Yes, I've stayed home and had the family to look after, we had six children.

Interviewer 9:10
Any incidents that happened in your early married life that would be worth recalling? Living in this space here? Did it seem lonely?

Sophie King 9:23
Well, we had, we lived in a log house when we first got married. It was the year when I came and then we built this house.

Interviewer 9:38
Remember the Stephens family there?

Sophie King 9:41
Yes, yes Next door to us.

Interviewer 9:47
And Nick Stephens mother was a very, well she's still alive?

Sophie King 9:50 Yes. Yes, she is.

Interviewer 9:50
Very interesting woman. Could you tell me about her you know, the way she *unintelligible*.

Sophie King 9:57
Well she was the master of everything. Whatever she said I did, you know. I was frightened of her because I was brought up that way, I was brought up by superiors you know and she just managed me.

Interviewer 10:24
Do you think that was a good plan?

Sophie King 10:26
No, it wasn't a very good plan. My husband's father got after me and he said, Why don't you hold your own? He says sometimes. So then I began to think that I wasn't doing right. But she was lovely just the same. She was very good to me at times.

Interviewer 10:46
Nick said how their mother used to take them out and teach them all about things like water and canoeing.

Sophie King 10:57
She used to tell me stories, just legends you know? And they were very interesting

Interviewer 11:14
Tell me more about that life here those early days.

Sophie King 11:23
Well, I managed the farm and just with the boys they were small when they were 10 and 12. But they tried to plow you know and get in the crops, the hay. I enjoyed that life immensely. I never felt grieved about anything even when it was hard work. I loved it just the same. I suppose that helped a lot too. If I liked it you know.

Interviewer 12:02
Any incidents?

Sophie King 12:04
No no we went along very smoothly. The children grew up and left home till I was left all alone. And they went away to work and different things. One of my sons joined the army and he's now being cared for by the government, you know he got hurt in the war.

Interviewer 12:37
What about the boat building that you mentioned? What did you do in the boat building?

Sophie King 12:41
Well, the first boats we made we made our own lumber. I did the first part of it but my husband finished it. He planned it and got it in good condition. But in making the boats I always, I would clinch the nails. Yes, I almost, that was my job. While I had to help him put the, the lumber on we'd steam it, you know and he'd be on one end and I on the other. And then after when he began kneeling I clinched all the nails. Some of the boats were riveted, copper riveted.

Interviewer 13:35
In preparing the lumber you said you did some of the first bits.

Sophie King 13:38
Yes well we both be down on the beach splitting the cedar and and when we bring it up I’d do the first part of it, you know the rough part and then he'd finished it with a plane.

Interviewer 13:35
You made the boat from split cedar

Sophie King 13:57
The first two boats we made and then after we bought lumber.

Interviewer 14:05
Were these clinker boats?

Sophie King 14:07
No, they were what do you call carbon boat? Built boats? Cargo boats. Smooth.

Interviewer 14:15
Yes, the whole side.

Sophie King 14:19

Interviewer 14:20
These would be a sailboat too?

Sophie King 14:22
No, they could sail. I guess if you wanted to. One of the boats is down there in the creek now. It was the fourth boat that we built and is still good isn't it Ken? It’s still beautiful looking little boat.

Sophie King 14:42
Oh, I would actually remember it. 50 years would it be? 40. Well, how long has Walter and Vera been here?

Sophie King 15:03
Well, when he came here, he bought the boat. I guess it was about the fourth or fifth boat we built. And it's still here and it looks beautiful yet.

Interviewer 15:15
How big were these boats?

Sophie King 15:17
12 feet long? Row boats. And, of course he didn‘t make a little launch didn‘t he? And he sold to the Cudmores. Put an engine in it. He was a violinist. He played for dances my husband did and for 60 years. He played for dances.

Interviewer 15:42
He didn't make his own living?

Sophie King
15:44 No, no.

Interviewer: 15:50
Were any of the other children musical?

Sophie King 15:52
Well, they never. Yes, Vera plays the piano. She took lessons for that. But one of the girls, one of the little girls was like my husband, she could play by ear. My husband played by ear for a long time until he played with the lady that played the piano and then he learned different.

Interviewer 16:16
Did he have any interesting experiences? Boating or fishing or lumbering?

Sophie King 16:24
Well, I suppose he had many experiences on the Fraser River. Gutting storms and one thing and another. A net was overrun by passenger boats.

Interviewer 16:39
Was there anybody else living around here in those days or on the island?

Sophie King 16:44
Not close to us. Well, I would say about three or four miles away from us. Interviewer 16:51 Who would they be?

Sophie King 16:52
They would be the Ruckles.

Interviewer 16:55
Tell me about them in those early days. They came pretty early on. Much before the time that you were born?

Sophie King 17:05
Oh no. They came later. They've been here a good many years, though. I don't know. I must have been at school when they came here.

Interviewer 17:17
Who was the original Ruckle? I can't recall.

Sophie King 17:20
Well, it was old Mr. Ruckle. The father. What was his name?

Interviewer 17:33
They seem to have a big place over there.

Sophie King 17:35
Oh, they have 1000 acres.

Interviewer 17:40
And what are all those houses there? How did they come up?

Sophie King 17:43
The residents they live in.

Interviewer 17:50
The family sort of the *unintelligible* was that what it was?

Sophie King 17:54
Well, yes. When Mr. Henry Ruckle, thats the young Henry he got married and he built his own home. And Alfred Ruckle he built his own home and when he got married.

Interviewer 18:15
Was that quite, was that quite a prosperous farm?

Sophie King 18:18
Very prosperous farm. They have beef cattle and sheep, hogs. They used to raise turkeys, now they only have chickens. They raise their own grain, hay.

Interviewer 18:37
What kind of a farm was it originally?

Sophie King 18:40
Quite good. Because it first started before they bought it, you know, before the old Mr. Ruckle bought it. There was a man by the name of Mr. Curran that had it and it had a good start when Mr. Ruckle bought it. But they still do today. Clearing it and building it up as they're getting on in years but still they keep clearing land and working it. They're wonderful people.

Interviewer 19:25
The old Mrs. Ruckle lives there now, she's the widow of the original Henry Ruckle?

Sophie King 19:29
No, there isn't no old Mrs. Ruckle. She passed away first before Mr. Ruckle.

Interviewer 19:41
I see I see, I thought there was a person.

Sophie King 19:43
There's Mr. Henry Ruckle and his family, his wife and family.

Interviewer 19:48
He's the oldest.

Sophie King 19:51
Yes, well, Henry. Alfred was the oldest but he passed away, he never had a family. His wife was still living there and she's 92

Interviewer 20:04
She says she's the daughter in law of the original.

Sophie King 20:09
Yes, yes.

Interviewer 20:17
Anything about that family there?

Sophie King 20:22
They were a very special family, they helped in the district so much you know, everything that was in progress they helped to do it. Very kind. They help everybody.

Interviewer 20:38
Was this a separate district then this district here?

Sophie King 20:42
No, this is beaver point.

Interviewer 20:45
Yes because this is out of district by itself, to some extent was and the center here was their store here.

Sophie King 20:50
The store was at Beaver point right down near the water. Since has been taken away to Fulford.

Interviewer 21:01
Were there any other people living down there besides the Ruckles?

Sophie King 21:03

Interviewer 21:09
There was really just the Ruckles?

Sophie King 21:12
Yes. Well, there was a big family of McClellan's that lived further up from Ruckles and Scotchman. He had a family too, about six or seven children. He kept the post office.

Sophie King 21:29
Down by the water?

Sophie King 21:34
No, up the road. Yes.

ES 21:39
Was Beaver Point there before Fulford.

Sophie King 21:40
Oh yes. But as the years went by, we lost everything, we lost the post office and the store and the school. School all went to Ganges, you know, the consolidated school and the post office from Beaver point went to Fulford and so did the store.

Interviewer 22:06
Why did Fulford build it rather than Beaver point?

Sophie King 22:12
Well I suppose more central up there they have all the people in the valley, which we call the valley and Burgoyne road.

Interviewer 22:27
And I suppose somebody down there would sell lots to people so they could build them.

Sophie King 22:32
Oh yes properties.

Interviewer 22:33
Mr. Ruckle probably didn't want to sell.

Sophie King 22:37
No they won't sell. They won't sell any part. No. Of course they needed to they have cattle and sheep.

Sophie King 23:04
There's a shape to it, you know. And I add more or take off some of it, you know, and then I paint it. It's all painted.

Interviewer 23:20
Do you do any straight painting at all? I mean on canvas or?

Sophie King 23:23
Yes, I've done a little. I painted our view and some pictures.