Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Port Hardy 50th Anniversary Newspaper Insert wins Ma Murray Award

I was very pleased to find out that the Port Hardy 50th Anniversary newspaper special feature in the North Island Gazette this past year, which was for the most part a compilation of my historical writing about the Port Hardy area, won a 2017 Ma Murray BC Community Newspaper Award for Best Special Section.
The trophy we won!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Painting of Fort Rupert - 1851

This week's historical image is actually a painting completed by Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe on July 23, 1851. It depicts Fort Rupert and the Kwakiutl village of T'sakis. Fanshawe came to Fort Rupert on board the HMS Daphne as a part of an attempt by the British Navy to capture a number of Kwakiutl men believed to be involved in capturing and killing of three Hudson's Bay Company deserters. Fanshawe was not a supporter of the Hudson's Bay Company and disagreed with their treatment of indigenous peoples.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Confiscated Japanese-Canadian boats in Alert Bay during World War II

Confiscated Japanese-Canadian boats in Alert Bay during World War II.

The North Island Eagle newspaper's photo of the week depicts confiscated Japanese gillnet boats at the dock in Alert Bay during World War II.
Japanese settlers played a significant role in the settlement of the North Island in the early 1900s.  Many Asian immigrants found that there was less racism in BC's small coastal communities, and they found success in the logging, fishing, farming, and whaling industries and as the owners of small businesses. Strong friendships formed in many cases with local First Nations communities. Historic North Island communities have graveyards with Japanese grave sites dating to this period.
Following the Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour in December 7, 1941, those of Japanese heritage were rounded up and interned in camps in the BC interior. Their possessions were confiscated, and many, like these fishing boats, became property of the Canadian government and were used by the military for the remainder of World War II. 
Japanese residents never returned to the North Island in the numbers seen prior to the war.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sea Otter Cove - Historical photo of the Week - February 10/17

Kathy at the new North Island Eagle newspaper has asked me to provide a weekly historical photo with a bit of a blurb.  
Week 1 features a photo of Sea Otter Cove taken in 1914.  Sea Otter Cove is just to the north of San Josef Bay in the Cape Scott area. The photo was taken from the homestead of Captain Henry Peterson by Major James Skitt Matthews.  
During the early 1900s there were numerous pre-emptions on the North Island, many concentrated in the Cape Scott area and on the trail between San Josef and Holberg. Sea Otter Cove was not a popular anchorage due to a number of large rocks which impeded ships from entering the harbour. Captain Peterson piloted a number of ships in the area which supported the North Island settlers, and was the father of Les Peterson, author of "A Cape Scott Story."  When he died he was buried in the small community of San Josef. 
Sea Otter Cove was not named for the marine mammals currently making a comeback in the area, but was named by Captain James Hanna after his ship the Sea Otter, when he was exploring the area in 1786.

Sea Otter Cove in 1914 taken from the homestead of Captain Henry Peterson

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Mysterious Wreck at Fisherman's Bay

I was recently asked by a long time Port Hardy resident if I could find any information about the wreck in Fisherman Bay, which is a small bay on the side of Nissen Bight, at Cape Scott.

An old wooden wreck has sat on the beach for almost 80 years. I have been asked if it was associated with the early Cape Scott settlement in the late 1800s, or perhaps with the radar station which stood near the lighthouse during World War II. Other people have asked if the ship was a victim of storms in the area.

Photo of the wreck from 2007 featured on blog: http://thepaperseed.com/?p=132 

I was able to locate some documentation about the wreck in the book "Historic Shipwrecks of Northeastern Vancouver Island" put out by the Underwater Archaeological Society of BC (UASBC).

As a part of an initiative to catalogue wrecks around BC, the UASBC enlisted the help of a reporter at the Times Colonist, Patrick Murphy, to try to find out about where this particular ship came from. Together they were successful in uncovering some of its interesting history. The information in this article is taken from this informative book, which is available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

The wreck on the beach at Fisherman's Cove is what little remains of the Pelican 1, previously known as the Oregon.

In 1917 this wooden vessel was commissioned under the name MV State of Oregon and it was first launched in Seattle by the Alaska Pacific Construction Company under the name Oregon. The boat originally measured 215 feet in length and was one of the first diesel powered ships.

The Oregon enjoyed about 20 years of working life on the Pacific coast. She was a freighter, primarily used to transport goods between Washington and Alaska.

The Oregon in its finer days.
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society (HP#374-6) 

By 1936 she was deemed to no longer be seaworthy. Her engines were taken out and the freighter became a barge in 1939. In the early 1940s her name was changed to the Pelican 1.

On August 24, 1945 a resident of Victoria, Bill Dixon, incorporated the Fisherman Bay Limited company, capitalized at $100,000. Dixon had the idea to provide services to the commercial fishing fleet out of Cape Scott at Fisherman Bay on the North end of Vancouver Island.

Unfortunately, the harsh seas off Cape Scott did not provide any protected harbour in the immediate area, and so Dixon attempted to convince the government to fund a breakwater.

When the government wasn't receptive to his proposal, Dixon purchased the old shell of the Pelican 1 for $900 in July 1946. He filled it with gravel, brought it to the entrance to Fisherman Bay and blew holes in the hull with dynamite. The ship sank, but did not hold its location. By October of 1946 it had drifted onto the beach, and was left there to rot. Dixon disappeared and his shareholders were left trying to decide what to do about the company.

Surveying the wreck - June 1995. Photo courtesy of J. Marc of the UASBC.

The UASBC visited the wreck (at that time of unknown providence) in 1995 and catalogued what remained on the beach and in the nearby water. At the time there were still a number of pieces of the wreck on the bottom of the Bay.

The wreck is one of a number of interesting artifacts in Cape Scott Provincial Park that give a glimpse into the many attempts to live and do business in the remote and harsh environment at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Old Port Hardy in moving pictures

Straight from the archives - this amazing footage was taken in the 1920s, when the main community of Port Hardy was located on the south-east side of the bay.  At this time the newer community of Hardy Bay, located at the present townsite, was just starting to grow.

The short film provides a panorama of the community and the bay, as well as a brief glimpse at the clothing worn at the time as a couple of men walk by the camera as the panorama is being filmed!

Library and Archives Canada

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Port Hardy in old photographs

Old Port Hardy was located on the south side of Hardy Bay.  Here is a photo of the Lyon's store in 1905.
  • BC Archives A-05330
Lyon's store in 1905.  Photo shows Thomas P. Wicks on the wharf.    Photo by H. Helmsing.
City of Vancouver Archives - CVA 586-584

Old Port Hardy with the Lyon's store/hotel in 1907.
BC Archives A-05413
Port Hardy in 1911. Photo by H. Helmsing.

A bit more development in 1922.
BC Archives A-05347

In the mid 1920s the community moved to the North side of the Bay.  Originally the new community was called "Hardy Bay" to distinguish it from "Port Hardy."  Over time the community gradually moved to the Hardy Bay side of the Bay.  No one ever changed the post office name when the post office moved from Port Hardy to Hardy Bay, and eventually Hardy Bay took on the name Port Hardy.
This photo of Hardy Bay is from the 1920s or early 1930s before the Cadwallader store was built.

  • BC Archives D-02212 
Sketch of Port Hardy by Lindley Crease in 1937.  The building to the left of the wharf (the Hardy Bay Hotel) has a sign on it which says "Home Gas" and the Lyons store is up the street on the right side of the street with a "Store" sign on it.

BC Archives PDP07442
One of the smaller wharves in Hardy Bay in 1939.
BC Archives NA-11527
Log dump looking toward the area where Keltic Seafoods is today.  Photo from 1939 by the BC Forest Service.
BC Archives NA-11547
Hardy Bay view from the Steamship in 1941.
City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-584
The Hardy Bay Hotel at the foot of the main wharf (eventually the Seagate).  Photo from the 1940s.
BC Archives E-05273
Looking down the wharf at the Hardy Bay Hotel.  Sign says 'licensed premises'.  Photo from 1939.
BC Archives NA-11562

View up the hill from the Government Wharf, including a General Store (left).  Date unidentified.  1939?
BC Archives NA-11527

The Port Hardy Hotel in the 1940s.
BC Archives E-05272
RCAF airmen posing with an old car, photos presumably taken during WWII, with the Port Hardy Hotel in the background of the first photo.

The Port Hardy main wharf (now the Seagate), in 1947.  Presumably the people on the wharf are waiting to get onto the steamship.
BC Archives I- 28374
Coming into the Port Hardy wharf 1947.  Cadwallader Store has been built along with a structure on the right side of the wharf.
BC Archives A-05330
The Port Hardy primary school in 1962.  This building was eventually moved to the intersection of Byng Road and Beaver Harbour Road and became the Old Schoolhouse Store.  Photo from 1952.
BC Archives I-31858
Port Hardy wharf 1963.
BC Archives I-28376