This 30-minute rambling interview (PABC # 3807.1) with the Roland I brothers (descendants of Hawaiian settlers) was done on June 22, 1977, by Amber Hindle.
|June 22, 1977
Description: This is an interview between Amber Hindle, Dave, Jack, and Paul Roland. Although some parts are unintelligible due to technical quality of the initial recording, this interview provides a wealth of information about the Hawaiians on Salt Spring, their origins, culture, and a lot of references to how things were on the South End of Salt Spring in decades past.
Keywords: Fulford Hall, Hudson’s Bay Company, Salt Spring Island, Amber Hindle, Rolands, Paul Roland, Jack Roland ,logging, Naukana, Beaver Point hall, South End, Hawaiian church, San Juan islands
Amber Hindle: We’re talking to Dave with Jack and Paul Roland, we’re at Isabella Point on Salt Spring Island. Paul, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Paul Roland: Well, my grandfather Naukana, he came out in 1835, for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Well, he (unintelligible) for the Hudson’s Bay Company until he was released; well, he went off on his own after so many years at the Hudson’s Bay Company. Now I’ll tell you about the Hawaiians that lived on Isabella Point. There was the Kahanas, the Kamais, (unintelligible) Naukanas, Paluas, the Mondens, the Kais, the Nawanos. They all settled here in the early days. There’s a lot more that I could mention here but I can’t recall it off hand you see. So, these people here were all taken to the San Juan Islands you see. That was before the Americans got it. They moved all these people there in 1860. San Juan Islands. When the San Juan Islands went to the United States, these people all moved back here to Canada. Well, they settled on land out there until the Americans bought them out you see. And they come back to Canada, and they settled on Portland Island first, my grandfather. After his youngest daughter, well that’s my mom, they had a lot of kids, so they moved out here to Isabella Point to send the kids to school, they bought this place here. Napoleon Parker he came out from the Hawaii and married one of my grandfather’s daughters, that’s my mom’s sister. Mom was born on Portland Island out here; she was born in 1875.
Amber Hindle: What was your mom’s name?
Paul Roland: (unintelligible) Naukana, well there was a Miss you know, Miss Naukana.
Amber Hindle: Johnny Palua, I read about him.
Paul Roland: That was our uncle. By marriage. I found out about him that in Hawaii, his older brother or his father killed Captain Cook.
Amber Hindle: Is that right? Paul Roland: When Captain Cook got to the island, of course it’d be then Sandwich Islands see, well then, they had all the women they wanted, women just threw themselves at them you see. A lot of young girls, quite a few of them, got pregnant with a white man, had a white kid. But they weren’t satisfied at this time, they raped the royal family’s kids. Well that just broke the camel’s back. Those royal kids, well actually the ruling chiefs of Hawaii, the king and queen of the island, they were all (unintelligible) monarchs, well them girls were never to be touched. So they blamed Captain Cook you see. So, Captain Cook’s ship did leave the island though, but he had to come back for something, and it started all over again. Well, that’s when they execute, well they had to kill Captain Cook because he was the head of that ship you see. The leader had to be killed. Well see, Captain Bligh, he was midshipman on that ship under Captain Cook you see, Captain Bligh and Captain Vancouver. Well, when they came on the shore for Captain Cook’s body, the Hawaiians already had it cut up and buried. Well, a lot of the white historians say that the Hawaiians ate Captain Cook, but they never ate him. All that they got back to the ship was his hands, and his private parts. They sent back the ship. Well see that was a warning, if the rape kept up you see, the rest of their hands would go back to the ship you see. Now this is a, this is a true Hawaiian version of it. Because I knew this when I went back to Hawaii you see. Because this old Hawaiian historian came to see me. The minute I showed him that picture he said that was Palua you see, and I told him the story I’m telling you now you see. I said I’m going to tell you this story and I want you to verify it. Well, he said, I was right on. (unintelligible) you know the old beaver they’ve got here, the replica of the beaver? Well, he said a beaver and a (unintelligible) came out, and sailed from England to Hawaii, and they bought a bunch of Hawaii-, the bought the Sandwich Islands as they call them. Well, they land in Fort Vancouver, well that’s Vancouver United States now (unintelligible). You see, the island belonged to Hudson’s Bay at that time. And that was America’s push across the continent you see. So that’s where the steam engine they, the (unintelligible) had the steam engines in but there was no track. When they got to Fort Vancouver, they put the steam engines in. Well, the Beaver was the first steam ship on the Pacific coast. Well, he worked, grandpa Naukana, he worked aboard that ship, the Bever when they surveyed the 49th parallel here. Well after the Sandwich Islands, well it was Nicolas of Germany that drew the boundary out here you see, grandpa Naukana was aboard that ship.
Amber Hindle: Did he learn to, he was an interpreter for?
Paul Roland: Yeah, oh I’ve got… about the Chinook language. Yeah, the Chinook language, the dialect, years ago all the white men could speak that. It was made up of the Chinese, Indian, Hawaiian… Chinese, Indian, Hawaiian, and white. They made this language, the Chinook language, so they could talk to one another. The Hawaiians use it, the Chinese use it, the whites use it. Well see at that time, the Hawaiians (unintelligible) in the States you see. Shortly after that, the United States got away with their Queen (?) you see. Well, there’s a fellow there, you heard me speak of Monden. Well Henry Monden, he was one of the Hawaiian delegates going to Washington DC fighting to keep the royal family. But the Americans thought otherwise you see. Well, these Hawaiians were all in the San Juans, well after the San Juans went to the United States, they moved back here, back to Canada, to be under Queen Victoria. Well, they knew they were going to lose their queen after what they did.
Amber Hindle: What queen was that? Paul Roland: Queen Liliuokalani Amber Hindle: Why did your family leave Hawaii in the first place?
Paul Roland: Well, they left because there was a big religious upset there you see. Well, I’ll get back to chiefs now. Well, the Catholics got to out family, they’re chiefs you see. Naturally, they all went Catholic you see. Well, the other part of our family the Protestants got to them first. Naturally, they’re all Protestants. Well (unintelligible) after some went Catholic and some went Protestant, it ended up like the Irish in Ireland today you see. Well, these Hawaiians said now come on, they didn’t want to get into this religious fight you see, so they come out to stay out here. And the reason they settled out on these Gulf Islands, well it reminded them of their own. Well, when the Hawaiians got release from the Hudson’s Bay you see (unintelligible) virgin timber, they just cut down the timber and made their log houses, and of course they just had all oxes. Out on Fort (unintelligible), my grandfather used to raise them on heavy stock you know, the bull calves, and of course the calves of the bull calves make the oxen you see, (unintelligible), the bull calves grew to be these great things you see. And after that they made the useful oxen. Well, the oxen are used all over the world. So, the (unintelligible) in 1823, some went, and some stayed home. Some came out in 1833, 35. All different dates. Well, you see, the first elections here in BC, the Hawaiians all voted. Because when they come out to vote then, they see there’s very few whites around you see. Well, there was just about as many Hawaiians voting at that time as there were white people. Well, these that stayed in this country you see, well they got their vote. Well, they were kind of an honoured people among Governor Douglas you see. Thousands and thousands of Hawaiians from California, state of Oregon, Idaho, state of Washington, BC here, lot of Hawaiians down in the states you see. See our family we got a big family up here, but we got a bigger family down there across the line in the United States.
Amber Hindle: Do you still have a lot of relatives in Hawaii itself?
Paul Roland: Oh yeah, they’re cousins. Our church up her in Fulford harbour, it was known as the Hawaiian church among the real old timers. The Hawaiians built it. Well, they (who?) supplied the material for it. It was opened in 1880. Mr. Palua’s (unintelligible) built it. See religiously (unintelligible) all god to one another, there was no fighting here on Salt Spring. There was a good feeling right from the start about that.
Amber Hindle: Did you go to school here on the island?
Paul Roland: Oh yeah, Isabella Point yeah.
Amber Hindle: What was that school like?
Paul Roland: Well just a one-room schoolhouse; they taught from grade one to eight in it.
Amber Hindle: Who was your teacher? What teachers did you have?
Paul Roland: Mr. (unintelligible), he was an Irishman. You had to say yes sir, no sir, to that one or he’d beat your ears off. Well see when (unintelligible) kids here, see that valley, it’s all grown up now, we used to walk through that valley to go to our local wharf up here. Everything was exported from this island. There’d be the Packmans (?) from Beaver Point, the Mollets, Shaws, the Lees, and all of them, horse and wagon, come out in front of (unintelligible) export. The American islands was the same at that time, they exported everything. So (unintelligible) things started to go down. Second World War broke out and (unintelligible), the American ones we left, they were farming all of that. The (unintelligible) export grass beef, pork, selling live chickens, selling dead chickens, eggs, everything exported off, apples. Now it’s all changed, everything is imported now. The best cream ever raised in Canada was raised here on Salt Spring. We had the highest test right across Canada when we had our own creamery here. Amber Hindle: Where was that?
Paul Roland: It’s at Ganges, the creamery was.
Unknown Roland: That’s where the bakery is now, the creamery. Amber Hindle: We used to make butter, was that it? The special butter that was exported.
Unknown Roland: Oh yeah, we had all Jersey cows here, the rich cream.
Paul Roland: Well after the Hawaiians left the San Juans, they moved over here and brought their apple trees with them, raspberries, or Jack here has probably got a white rose bush out the back here, which was taken from the San Juan islands. When grandpa Naukana moved from the San Juan Islands into Canada, he brought his white rose bush with him. And Jack here has got a rose bush of the same white (?). So that’s a long time ago. So, grandpa Naukana he was born in 1813, and he was 20 or 21 when he came out to Canada in 1835. And he couldn’t read or write because we got that then. He couldn’t read or write.
Amber Hindle: He couldn’t read or write and yet did so much, he accomplished so much.
Paul Roland: Yeah. Here’s where my grandfather died, he was right up there.
Amber Hindle: He died at age 96.
Paul Roland: Can you read that out loud Laurie?
Laurie: William Naukana, better known as Likameen (?), one of the men, the Kanakas, brought to Salt Spring Island by James Douglas, has just died on the farm where he had made his home for over half a century. Likameen, in the company of 18 others, formed the first party brought to this country for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Some years later Likameen removed to the San Juan Islands, but now started trouble over the shooting of this pig which ended in the annexation of San Juan by the United States disturbed the peaceful tenor of the Kanaka’s ways and he once more removed to Salt Spring Island, this on the advice of James Douglas, then governor of the colony. Years ago, Likameen pre-empted part of Portland Island. For years he refused to sell his property, but finally parted with it to Captain Clive Philips Wooley, a gentleman farmer and literary man of some standing. Likameen leaves many children and grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren to mourn his loss. Ever ready to oblige a friend or forgive a foe, this last of the Kanakas is leaving behind him a reputation for honesty and square dealing which many a white man would envy.
Unknown Roland: Since I was a boy, this island, all these Gulf Islands, used to be solid timber. Beautiful virgin timber. They started logging here with horse teams way before I can remember; I can remember the horse teams on this coast. Then they, got in bigger machinery and stuff. During the war, before the war, it was almost all horse logging, they had very, very few, they had some little donkeys they called (unintelligible) tractors in those times. They could handle very small logs, then came into the big logging. They had, at one time on this island after the Second World War, they had as high as 36 outfits logging on this island. Anywhere from 5 men to 25 men. They went into truck logging, and that’s about all about logging on this island. Myself, I started logging in the summertime when school was out, pulling the old sweet fiddle as they used to call it in those days, the hand saw. With my dad I used to work here in these woods when school was out in the summer months. And in the early 30s I went logging in Alberni. At that time, it was all hand falling. Then during the war, well that stopped all that, then power saws came out. But logging on Salt Spring Island I was told, oh, during the early 50s, it’d be logged off in 20 or 15 years. Well, they’re still taking wood off this island yet. But it was a beautiful island, it still is, all these islands are. I can remember way back when there was only very, very few cars on this island. I think at one time there were only about five cars on this island. If you’d see a car between Ganges and Fulford once a day, or twice a day, that was heavy traffic. Mostly horse and buggy in those days. This island at one time produced an awful lot of food; lots of farming. This island was known as the Okanagan at one time. We produced all fruits before Okanagan even got started. That’s the reason you see so many old fruit trees over here, wandering in the woods today. Like on Portland Island, I was over there where my grandfather cleared, they had about 80 acres or 100 acres cleared on Portland Island at one time. And it was amazing to walk through there and see a little old apple tree, and a big tree say about three feet in diameter going straight in the air. It’s the same all over Salt Spring, you run into these old apple orchards that’s grown over. Well at one time there used to be plenty of fish around these places, plenty of wildlife, lots of hunting.
Amber Hindle: What kind of fish?
19:30 Unknown Roland: It was lots of salmon, lots of herring. At one time the herring used to be so thick in these parts that you could catch them (unintelligible), right where they spawn. They came in by the tons, you’d walk up and put your knees in after they’d spawn, the wind would wash them up on the beach. This harbour, I’ve seen this harbour, Fulford harbour here, just like a big milk pot, right out from Fulford harbour to the (unintelligible) above us here. Just like if someone had dumped millions of gallons of milk in it.
Amber Hindle: Just with the fish?
Unknown Roland: Just herring spawn.
Unknown: Crabbing was popular at that time.
Unknown Roland: Crabbing was very popular at that time. A lot of them say that Fulford harbour was a breeding ground for crabs, but I daresay it’s not. We used to tag crabs here years ago, out in the (unintelligible), tag crabs and in six weeks or a month you’d find them in Fulford harbour (unintelligible) breeding ground. Fulford Hall, I believe was built in the early 30s. It would be in 1932, I believe, I’m not quite sure of that date, it was opened in 1933. That was (unintelligible), it was the second, the third, hall we built on that property. The first hall burnt down before I can remember. The second burnt down, well I would’ve been a young man then. So, we started to build, and we almost said, we said if it burns down, we’ll build a bigger one. So, it burnt down, and we built a bigger one, and it burnt down, and we built a bigger one. This was the whole community. Fulford Hall only had one carpenter, one paid man, to build that building, all the rest was voluntary work. The lumber donated from several people, all the farmers, any of them that lived around the area at that time. Lee (unintelligible), Hudson Tom he just died last year, (unintelligible), they put hours and hours in bringing the lumber to build this hall. They had a boat called T.H.L I believe it was, used to be run by Captain Maud. But that hall was built by voluntary labour and donations, that’s how that came into being. The property in the first place was donated, or given, by the Shaw family. I believe it was, yes, Jeremy Shaw was the one who gave that property for the first hall. And it still stands today, we had it renovated in the last few years, I believe it was Bob Akerman that started that. (unintelligible) we had help from the Lids (?), we had so many thousands of dollars to redo her. We thought, we were going to put in a little dining room, and then we found out that the whole bottom was rot. We spent, I think it was three years, renovating it.
Unknown: It’s always been used for sports.
Unknown Roland: It’s always been used for sports yes, that’s one thing we always believed in. Actually, I always thought the hall was more for the kids, the younger people in the community, and I always had that in mind. (unintelligible) kids on this island off and on, for oh maybe 20, 25 years.
Amber Hindle: Has it been floor hockey right from the beginning or were there other sports involved?
Unknown Roland: No there’s a lot of sports involved, any sort of sport you could play in there. Even, we used to take the younger kids in there to play soccer when it was too wet outside, we let them play soccer in the hall. And all of a sudden, we say, when we build it bigger, we should play roller hockey. The Lions (?) started roller hockey. Now, uh, skating rather. And that was a, kept it going for quite some time (unintelligible) we kept it going pretty good and then turned it over to the community. So, at that time, I guess it was Mrs. Gyves was still the president of the hall. So, she wanted to get out, so I was paid for the next job. So anyhow, me and Tim Akerman decided one day, the kids were in there working and the kids (unintelligible), I don’t know what it was, they were playing hockey with this broom. So, we decided to each other, we got the space, all we need is to make some sticks, and make some pucks then we’ve got hockey. That was way back in the early 60s I think it was, but anyhow they’ve been playing roller hockey in that hall ever since. They use it for basketball, any sport that they can play indoors they use it, but I don’t think they use it too much for tennis or stuff like that now. We built this hall, I was working, we were working up on Mount Bruce at the time, and we were working eight hours in the sawmill, and then we’d walk past the mountain, straight up over the peak into the gully, and then we’d pound nails until dark and then we’d walk back all the way back up the mountain and (unintelligible). We enjoyed it. Young, crazy those days, didn’t know any different. 25:14 Amber Hindle: Well, when you would log track, and you talk about up the mountain, I guess Mount Bruce, you must’ve brought down… Unknown Roland: Yes well, we used to, they had tie mills up in the Mount Bruce. I think the first tie mill that was put up was, people by the name of Batten brothers had two tie mills. Yes, the Batten brothers. Then a man by the name of Treggie, and then there were some Chinese in Victoria bought into a big mill up there. And at that time, they just took the prime timber. It had to be a certain size before you could fall it. It was the prime timber; they took nothing with scars or rot or anything. And then at that, they didn’t take all of the tree out, they just took the best clean part of the tree out for cutting ties and left (unintelligible). You can see that up there today, I was up there a few years ago looking, maybe oh half of those trees were left behind.
Amber Hindle: Now there’s a lake up there called I think Rose Lake. That would be oh, there was a man-made lake up on that mountain (unintelligible). There was a shingle mill and they used it, before my time. I was told by my dad that there was an outfit in Victoria that built a shingle mill below that; it’s a man-made lake, it’s still there, it’s got a gate in it today. But I see someone has, either someone or the door has rotted out of it. Of course, the lake is dry, I was up there last year, and it was dry. But I think the gate has rotten out of it, it was there, it was a man-made lake up on the mountain. In fact, we dropped a few, oh what fish would you call them, we got them from St Mary’s Lake. Bass. We got a few bass in there, and they tell me they were really doing good, but it went dry. A lot of the kids used to go up there and snap them out. All small though, but that could be made into a nice water hole there, could be if it was cleaned up. Father used to tell us, when we were young kids, that we had people in Hawaii. We never thought much of it. We always knew we had people there. We just couldn’t gather enough money to find out, to look into these people. (unintelligible) And then all of a sudden this broke loose, and the first singer was Hawaii Called, you ever listen to the program Hawaii called? Well the first woman singer there was a (unintelligible). It went on for years. (noise, chatter). Probably did run into us here, I don’t know, Paul would know more about that, how they really tracked us down. But in the end, he tracked them down. I always remember that story.
Amber Hindle: Well, you’ve got a musical family yourself.
Unknown Roland: Everybody’s musical, but I couldn’t play a note of nothing. I used to sing one time, used to kick up quite a storm. But I can’t sing anymore, don’t know why. Oh, I kick around once in a while when nobody’s listening.
Paul Roland: (unintelligible) house is built here you see; they all went into mixed farming. You know, pigs, chickens, beef. Well, I went to look at this here, everywhere you go there’s a lot of (unintelligible). All Hawaiian done this from Coal Island, Piers Island, Portland Island, Salt Spring Island. The Hawaiians all bought from, well they all bought from Coal Island, and went south to Sydney. Well, they’d sing, and they’d dance for a week. Big crowds. Some danced all day, and some slept all day. Some slept all day and danced all night; some slept all day and danced all day. Well in that place, there’d be two Hawaiian names on Coal Island, the Kamorees (?) and the (unintelligible) lived there. Then they’d come up to Piers Island. (unintelligible), they’d dance there for a week. Come up to Portland Island, to grandpa’s place, dance there for a week. Come over to Salt Spring Island, the Paluas, dance there for a week. The Kahanas, dance the for a week. Well, they’d dance all winter, sang and danced all winter, until it was time to put in the crops. Well anyhow, when Jack and I were boys, all these farms had what you’d call sporting sleighs. (unintelligible) because the snow didn’t last that long, well conditions changed from way back then. And I’ll tell you how grandpa Naukana used to make his tobacco. He’d break them, one of these big bits, about that long. He’d saw a long (unintelligible) out, boil it down, cut his tobacco off, put it down a hole, pour a little rum on it, and he put a stick right down that hole and he’d pound it. Well as the hole got filled up, he cut them back and he had his black tobacco.
Amber Hindle: I know that there was one family, I’m not sure about the Hawaiian pronunciation of their name, but it changed to Tahouney.
Paul Roland: That changed from Kahana to Tahouney.
Amber Hindle: And there’s a road now that’s named Tahouney.
Paul Roland: That’s where they first settled there first, well that’s to say the young family the Tahouneys, we pronounce it Tahouney. You know Kanaka Road up in Ganges? Two Hawaiian families, well that was my mother’s sisters, that was Kahana Louise and Parkers, lived up on that road. That’s their neighbour years ago.
Amber Hindle: Do you remember, personally either of you, anything that was on the island that isn’t here anymore?
Unknown Roland: Yes, well there was a big sawmill out on Beaver Point, Cusheon cove mill it was called. I think they employed around 150 men I think it was, and they had to pipe their water out from the lake, Cusheon lake, to the mill. My dad and oldest brother used to work there, Paul and I used to walk out there once a week to bring them food.
Amber Hindle: Do you have any Hawaiian traditions that you’re still living today as Salt Springers?
Unknown Roland: Well (unintelligible) our mother died, she died in 1943. And see whenever anybody died, this is a Hawaiian rite right today in Hawaii, I’m pretty sure it is. Well see if I died, Jack and Loretta and all of them, they’d sing songs and get drunk, drink to be happy. Because, as the (unintelligible) said, don’t be sad for me when I go, I’m going to heaven, it’s you folks at home that are going to be left with all the problems, the sicknesses, the politics, all this and that you see. So that tradition was kept up with us right ‘til mom died, well after she died it was (unintelligible). The Hawaiians that came here were a proud, proud bunch of people.
Amber Hindle: Is there anything you want to say to the community before we sign you off? Unknown Roland: I’ve travelled over quite a number of places in my time, doing the war, the European theatre, and all over, travelled the whole coast, but there’s no place I don’t think I’d rather live than old Salt Spring Island.