Salt Spring Island British Columbia 1895

Since the Canadian Pacific Railway pierced the Rocky Mountains in the year 1885, Victoria, situated on Vancouver Island, and capital of British Columbia, has become well known to travellers, both from the eastern parts of Canada and from England and Europe. People coming from the cold, bleak prairie regions of Manitoba and the Northwest, where, in the winter time, the glass often registers 30 and 40 degrees below zero, and the ground is buried up in snow and unworkable for at least five months out of the twelve, are generally delighted to find in Victoria and its neighborhood a genial English like climate, ploughing and other field operations being carried on more or less through every month of the winter, and the farming population, instead of complaining of their hard lot and the difficulty of making both ends meet, as is so often the case on the other side of the Rockies, contented, cheerful and well satisfied with their choice. Just in the immediate neighborhood of Victoria, that is, within a radius of four or five miles from the city's centre, farm land is expensive and not easily procurable for a less sum than $200 or $300 an acre, but for persons who desire to make a living by agriculture and have but small capital to start with there is the choice open to them of a broad tract of land, the Cowichan District, through which the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway runs a distance of 78 miles from Victoria, or, if they prefer it, they may take up land on one of the many islands which lie immediately north of the city in the Strait of Georgia. It is of one of these islands that we have now to speak, Salt Spring Island, the largest and most attractive of the group, lying just north of the Saanich Peninsula, and occupying a most central position as regards steamboat communication and market facilities, -- having the City of Victoria, 40 miles to the south of it, Nanaimo, centre of the coal district, 30 miles to the north, -- and the cities of Vancouver and New Westminster a few hours distant across the water to the East. Victoria and Nanaimo may also be reached easily by rail, a few miles pull in a small boat taking one to the Railway Station either at Chemainus or Sidney.


Originally marked on the naval charts of 1858 as "Admiral Island," it has of late years altogether dropped that name, and is now known both popularly, and also in the more recently published maps, as Salt Spring Island, — the saline springs, of which there are some 14 or 15 on the island, being sufficient reason for its present name. In length it is about the same as the Isle of Wight, viz.: 18 miles, but in area it is less, owing to its being indented by several deep bays and harbors, which cause its breadth to vary from nine or ten miles in the widest parts to less than two in the narrowest. The entire surface measure of the island is about 45,440 acres, of which from ten to fifteen thousand acres are, perhaps, suitable for cultivation, the rest being for the most part rocky and fit only for sheep ranching. At present there are 105 farms occupied, about 6 per cent. of the acreage of each being on the average cultivated.


Vancouver Island and the small islands which surround it, of which Salt Spring is one, are doubtless the remains of a submerged mountain range, and are described geologically, in a recently published Government Report, as "a group of upturned gneissic rocks, embracing certain tertiary areas and worn down by glacial action, so that in one place extensive gravel moraines, in another beds of boulder clay are to be found, while in a third a regular series of late sandstones alternate with the barren cliffs of trap." On this unpromising surface generations of fir trees have flourished and, decaying, have furnished a mould of increasing thickness, into which various forms of vegetation have struck their roots, so that the country is now covered for the most part by a dense forest:-Douglas pines and white spruce, many of them upwards of 200 feet in height and more than 20 feet in circumference at the base, grow on the ridges and slopes; cedars (Thuja gigantea) of equal height and girth, and hemlock in the lowland and swamps; alder (Alnus Oregona) and willow on the boulder clay land; while here and there, scattered among the other trees, is a soft maple, its broad fingered leaves green and beautiful in summer and golden in autumn. Besides these are here and there, on dry gravelly soil, clumps of oaks, their branches gnarled and knotted and their stems of no commercial value; and, along the sea shore or fringing the banks of streams, rise the red naked limbs of the arbutus, their bark all peeled or peeling off. On Salt Spring Island all these denizens of the forest are fully represented, Douglas pine, balsam and cedar taking the lead. Of the first named tree large quantities are cut each year to supply the saw mills, and thousands of the smaller trees are shipped away to Mexico, Australia and Africa, to be made use of as props in the mines, there being no other wood in existence so tough and durable and suitable for the purpose. Indeed the Douglas pine of the Pacific coast has a world-wide reputation for its flexibility and tenacity of fibre, and is perhaps more sought after than any other timber for the manufacture of masts and spars. It grows only in the northern part of Oregon, Washington Territory and British Columbia, and attains its full size only near the coast.

The surface of Salt Spring Island is a succession of hills and valleys, for the most part densely wooded. Its highest mountains are Mt. Erskine, south of Vesuvius Bay, 1,599 feet in height ; Mt. Baynes, a precipitous rock towering over Burgoyne Bay, 1,953 feet high: and on the Musgrave estate, in the southern part of the island, Mt. Sullivan and Mt. Bruce, whose altitudes are respectively 1,972 and 2,329 feet. Of fresh water lakes there are eleven, the largest being St. Mary's lake, at the north end of the island, nearly two miles in length ; Cusheon lake, about the centre of the island, a favorite resort for anglers, being well stocked with large-sized speckled trout ; and Maxwell lake, up in the mountains and not much visited. Of the smaller lakes, Foord's, Robert's and Brown's, each about ten acres in extent, are noted for their good fishing. The whole island is well watered with springs and trout brooks, the principal stream being that running from Foord's lake into Fulford harbor. Of mineral deposits there are indications of iron ore gold and silver, the two latter having been mined to some extent a few years a goin the southern part of the island. At the northern end of the island there are thin seams of coal shewing themselves on the surface. Whether this latter mineral will be found hereafter in paying quantities is at present a matter of speculation, but the Vancouver Coal Co. have secured to themselves some 500 acres of the most promising looking of the land, evidently with a view to working it at some future day. Coal has also been found on the adjacent island of Mayne and a shaft is at present being sunk on that island. Around Vesuvius Bay and at the north end of the island is to be found a very good quality of building stone ; the Esquimalt Graving Dock was largely constructed of this stone ; and it is said that some 30 years ago large quantities of it were exported by an American firm for the building of the mint at San Francisco. No lime has as yet been found on the island. Brick clay exists of the finest class.

Followingis a list of the principal shrubs, ornamental trees, ferns, grasses and flowers growing wild on Salt Spring Island:


Spiroea discolor and Spiroea DougIasii, both very common, the one producing a white plume of flowers and the other red, wood very tough and good for making ramrods, vulgarly known by the Indian name of "Hardak"; Sallal, or salal, (Gaultheriashallon), a low laurel like shrub with bright, glossy, evergreen leaves and clusters of dark blue berries, peculiar to the Pacific Coast, and grows everywhere under the trees where the land is not cleared, roots shallow and not difficult to eradicate. Dogwood, two kinds, Cornus Nuttalliiand and Cornus Pubescens, both fairly common ; the former is a large tree covered in spring with a blaze of sparkling blossoms ; hawthorn, dog-rose, crab-apple, snowberry (very common), blackberry, raspberry, huckleberry, salmonberry, cranberry, flowering currant (Ribes Lobbii), barberry (Berberis Nervosa), Oregon grape, or holly-leaved barberry (Berberis Aquifolia), mock orange, or syringa (Philadelphus multiflora), juniper.

Ferns.- Very common are the Pteris Aquilina (common bracken), growing here to a prodigious size, the plants being 8 1/2, 10, and even 11 feet in length from the base of the stalk to the tip of the frond, roots two to three feet in depth and difficult to eradicate; Aspidium Munitum (shield fern), green all through the winter; and Asplenium filixfoemina (lady fern). Common are the Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair); Polypodium vulgare (common polypody), and Botrychium ternatum (moon-wort). Rare are the Blechnum spicant (hard fern); Asplenium trichomenes (black spleen wort), and Cheilanthes gracillima.

Flowers.- Lilium Columbianum (lily), found everywhere in the early spring ; Collinsia ; Campanula (two varieties, one white, the other white with blue tinge); Clarkia; Violet ; Michaelmasdaisy ; Sedum stenopetalum and Sedum spathulifolium (stone croft) ; Erythronium; Camassia (blue-bell); Calypso borealis (lady's slipper) and other orchids; Lupin, several varieties; Dodecatheon meadia (American cowslip) ; Mimulus moschatus (musk); Mimulus nasutus (monkey flower); Saxifraga; Fritillaria; Aster; Begonia (pink color) ; Agalea alba; Trillium (with hay-scented leaves), etc. ; also a species of Cactus.

Grasses, &c.-The island being for the most part thickly wooded, natural grasses grow only in patches on the ledges or "benches" of the mountain sides, or lower down in the marshes adjoining or surrounding the small lakes. In the cranberry marsh the ' chete' grass grows so strongly as to cut two tons to the acre. Formerly a wild pea and a wild vetch grew luxuriantly, affording a rich pasturage for the deer, but since sheep ranching has been introduced on the island comparatively little of it is left. In the early summer wild strawberries are plentiful.


The larger wild animals of Vancouver Island are the black bear, the panther, the grey wolf, the beaver, the otter, the racoon, the elk, and the black-tailed deer. Of these none of the first mentioned savage animals are to be found on the Island of Salt Spring, having been all rigorously exterminated; but deer, racoon, mink, beaver and sea otter still abound, and of game birds there is an abundant supply of English pheasants, blue grouse and willow grouse, and a few California quail and snipe. The deer season commences September 1st and ends February 1st, subject to change each year. Pheasants and grouse begin October 1st and end February 1st. Of deer the bucks only are allowed to be killed and sold, and the same rule applies to the killing of cock pheasants and sparing the hens. Driving deer with dogs is forbidden, but stalking them is permitted, and they are generally killed without much trouble either with a rifle or with a shot-gun and buckshot. Every farmer on Salt Spring has his butchershop at his own back door, and it is seldom that his larder is not well stocked with venison and birds. If he has more deer meat than he needs for his own use he can usually sell it to a neighbor at five cents a pound. Grouse sell in the city for from 75 cents to $1 a brace. Pheasants may not be sold. Deer skins are a drug on the market and will only fetch about six cents a pound. There is a great dearth of singing birds in the territory, and it were well if some could be imported, for doubtless they would thrive and do as well here as in England. Of wood-pigeons there are plenty, and they are big, meaty birds. The most ubiquitous and the most mischievous of the winged tribe are the blue jay and the American robin (a species of thrush). They consume the cherries and the strawberries, turn the early peas out of the rows, pick the apples off the trees and the potatoes out of the ground, and do all the damage they can to the grain crops. A few doses of strychnine is the best, if not the only way of checking their depredations. Of reptiles there are a considerable number of the common garter snake (Eutainia) which is quite harmless, several kinds of frogs and lizards, and a huge species of toad (Bufo boreas) which is found in all parts of the island. The fish inhabiting the lakes and streams are the speckled trout and salmon trout ; and in the salt water bays are caught salmon, rock cod, black cod, dog-fish, and candlefish (both valuable for their oil), perch, herring, smelt, sardine, &c. Whales are occasionally seen spouting and hair seals lifting their heads in the bays and inlets which surround the island. During the winter and early spring the same bays and inlets are alive with water fowl of all descriptions, wild geese, mallards, butter-balls, black duck, teal, brant, blue-bills, canvas backs, saw-bills, wood duck and widgeon ; also loons. Salt Spring Island is certainly an El Dorado for the sportsman.


Extensive wheat fields, large areas planted with oats, or barley, or peas, or roots, are not to be found on the Island of Salt Spring, nor indeed on Vancouver Island. When once the Rocky Mountains are crossed the great wheat regionof the Northwest, and the big prairie farms are all left behind, and in their stead we find small fields of grain and roots, and apple orchards, and poultry yards, with hay fields in the bottom lands and pasture for sheep and cows on the side hills. But although the homesteads are so much smaller, and a considerable portion of each farm seems to be the side or base of a timber covered, stone spattered mountain, yet for all that there appears to be an air of comfort and content about the place, which is too often wanting on the great prairie farms. Here in these islands on the Pacific coast the climate is mild and genial, there is no dread of an intense cold winter, there is no fear of drought in summer and no lack of fuel for the cold months. Whatever is put into the ground is sure to grow and to grow well. No Colorado bug will attack the potatoes, no summer or early autumn frosts will injure the cereals, hay time and harvest time is always dry and warm so that the crops can be gathered in almost invariably in good condition. Autumn work has not to be hurried over as ploughing can be done at almost any time in the winter. There is no anxiety about housing stock during the cold weather ; sheep will generally find their living all the winter long in the open, and cattle need housing and feeding for a short time only. A farm on the Pacific coast may, perhaps, not yield its owner a fortune, but it will at any rate enable him to make a living and to bring up a family with comparative ease and comfort. Ten or fifteen acres with an orchard and a poultry yard and a cow or two, in British Columbia, has probably a greater sustaining power than a hundred acres of land in the prairie regions of the Northwest.

The largest land owners and farmers at present on Salt Spring Island are Mr. Joel Broadwell, who owns 1,260 acres. He farms the land immediately around his house, and keeps a number of sheep on his mountain range. Mr. A. Walter owns l,000 acres, and goes in chiefly for dairying and sheep farming. Mr. H. Ruckle owns 1,000 acres, of which about 40 are at present under cultivation. He believes in mixed farming and has cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys and chickens. Last autumn he thrashed 250 bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of oats, 200 bushels of peas, and put Up 20 tons of hay, 60 tons of Swedes, and six tons of potatoes. Mr. W. E. Scott owns 700 acres, of which about 60 are under cultivation. He has cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry ; and, besides raising grain and potatoes, put up last year about 50 tons of hay. Mr. Edward Lee owns 400 acres, and with the aid of his brother, Mr. T. Lee, cultivates 150. Last year he raised 700 bushels of wheat, 50 tons of hay, and 75 tons of potatoes. Mr. W. Robertson is owner of 2,500 acres, the most of it being mountainous and suitable only for sheep ranching. Capt. Trench, a non-resident, has also an extensive sheep-ranch of about 4,000 acres in the southern part of the island, known formerly as the Musgrave estate ; it is nearly all mountain. Mr. J. P. Booth owns 350 acres, of which about half is now under cultivation. He has a considerable number of cattle and sheep and about 300 chickens. Mr. Jos. Akerman owns 355 acres, and also keeps cattle, sheep and poultry. Mr. Fred. Foord owns 410 acres bordering on a picturesque little lake which bears his own name. About 60 acres of his land is now cleared and more or less under cultivation, and he keeps cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. Mr. T. W. Mowat owns 3.50 acres, and cultivates about 50. He goes in especially for dairying and raising poultry, having 10 well-bred cows and about 200 chickens. Mr. J. Maxwell owns 400 acres, cultivates 50, and has about 600 sheep. Mr. Ed.Walter, assessor for the district, has about 400 acres, Mr. C. Tolson, 300, both valuable properties bordering on Ganges Harbor. Messrs. Trege and Spikerman own 839 acres, most of which is a sheep run, but they make a living chiefly by raising fruit. Mr. A. McLennan owns 410 acres, and with the help of his young sons cultivates about 17. He believes in mixed farming and poultry raising.

There are other farmers who have not quite, so much land, but are nevertheless very successful in their farming operations ; among these are Mr. H. Stevens, owner of 100 acres, and one of the handsomest teams on the island. Mr. John Norton who owns 200 acres, and has about 40 under cultivation. He raised last year about 200 bushels oats and peas and about 30 tons of hay, besides 16 or 17 tons of potatoes, carrots and mangold. Mr. S. Connery,owner of 166 acres, of which about 40 are more or less under cultivation. He has 12 head of cattle, and raised last year about 35 tons of hay and 20 tons of roots.

Among the most successful fruit growers are Messrs, Trege & Spikerman, who have an orchard of 1,6oo trees. Some of their "Canada a Reinettes" are a sight to witness when loaded down with fruit, the bending branches supported by a double circle of strong posts and rails ; 24 boxes (of 50 lbs. each) is not an unfrequent yield from a single tree. They consider the Canada Reinette and the Blenheim Orange their two best apples. Mr. W. E. Scott has 1,200 orchard trees, a large proportion of them but recently planted. Mr. Ruckle has a well grown orchard of about 600 trees. Mr. Booth has about 300 trees. Mr. McLennan 350. Mr. Akerman 300. Mr. Lee 250. Other farmers have from 50 to 200 trees or so in their orchards. Mr. A. A. Berrow keeps a nicely ordered nursery garden, where fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs of the choicest description may be purchased at very moderate prices. It is to Mr. Berrow that the compiler of this pamphlet is chiefly indebted for the names of the flowers, ferns, etc., growing wild on the island.

The general opinion as to the style of farming best adapted to the island may be gathered from the following notes:

1. As Regards Fruits.-The island is peculiarly suited for the growth of apples, pears, plums and cherries. Apples and pears do well on the red alluvial loam with marl sub-soil ; cherries better if the sub-soil be "hard-pan"; plums best on the black "bottom lands." Apples and pears also do well on the lowlands if thoroughly drained. The favorite fruits are Apples:-Baldwin, Canada Reinette, Blenheim Orange, Wealthy (for winter keeping), and Duchess of Oldenburg and Gravenstein (summer apples). Pears:-Bartlett and Vicar of Winkfield. Plums:-Yellow Egg, Greengage, Magnum Bonum; and Mr. Trege recommends also his " Pawn-seedling," which grows twice the size of an ordinary egg-plum, and is probably the largest plum in existence. Prunes, for preserving, are also grown by some. Cherries:--The favorite seems to be "Governor Wood." Mr. Foord has some fine cherries that ripen in September, and, comingin so late, they fetch a high price. He calls them "September Morellos." Peaches, apricots and grapes will ripen only in warm, sheltered positions. All the small fruits grow luxuriantly and yield large crops ; red and white currants, black currants, gooseberries, raspberries, black berries, strawberries. Raspberry canes attain a height of over eight feet and bear particularly fine berries. Black currants and gooseberries are the favorites with mostas they are the easiest to market without risk of spoiling. Strawberrieshave been grown on the island by the ton, but the difficulty about marketing them just at the right time proved a drawback. Quinces, chestnuts, walnuts, filberts, all grow well.

2. Cereals.--All kinds will grow well with good cultivation and drainage. Wheat does not pay at present prices, and is grown generally only in small quantities for chicken feed. Barley not in demand. Oats do well. Peas, the favorite crop, suitable especially for newly broken land, and grown principally for pig-feeding. Indian corn grows and ripens well. Many cut it green asa fodder-crop.

3. Roots.-Potatoes grow well and are a paving crop Yield from four to ten tons per acre. Swedeswill produce 12 tons to the acre. Marigolds not much grown at present. Garden vegetables of all kinds do well and yield large crops. The "clam-shell soil," of which there are large patches here and there, chiefly near the shore, produces particularly fine vegetables and fruit.

4. The Hay Crop is almost invariably a success. Grass and clover cut from two to three tons to the acre. On new land

"Cocksfoot" is generally sown, as it is strong and holds its own against the bracken and weeds ; but after the land is well under cultivation "Timothy" is preferred. The favorite clovers are the Red, White Dutch and Alsike.

5. Stock Raising.-Both hay and roots being so easily grown, and the winters being as a rule so mild and open, it stands to reason that both cattle and sheep will pay well for raising. Dairying is very profitable, some farmers marketing as much as 1,000 lbs. of butter in a year. Pigs pay particularly well. The favorite breeds are for dairy cows, Holstein and Jersey ; sheep, Southdown and Shropshire ; pigs, Berkshire.

6. Poultry.-Turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, guineafowl, are all kept on the island.The farmers' wives all say that chickens pay well, but that more is made by selling the eggs than by raising young birds. A good hen is worth to its owner from $1.00 to $1.50 a year. The favorite breeds are Leghorns, Spanish and Plymouth Rock. Several persons have had great success with Turkeys. Geese are kept by those whose farms border on the seashore, and are very profitable as they find their own living on the sands. Both cattle and poultry are particularly free from disease on Salt Spring Island.

Mr. Jos. Akerman says :-"I have been over 30 years on the island. The winters are milder here than on Vancouver Island. Often they have three or four feet of snow when we have a mere sprinkling. Any one with a family, coming from the Old Country, could not strike an easier place to live in. Crops are always sure. I have never known the fruit crop to fail. Two years out of three the trees are overloaded and break the branches down. It is an advantage, too, having deer meat so handy. A fair shot, accustomed to the woods, can easily average a deer a day."

Mr. Theodore Trege says:-"I have been 30 years on the island. The climate is good. Every man on this island who was able and willing to work has got along well. Fruit trees grow much faster here than in the Old Country. They will bear here at four years old, whereas in the Old Country they will not begin bearing until seven or eight years old."

Mr. Fred. Foord says:-"I came to Salt Spring Island in 1864. For fruit growing I consider there is no place in British Columbia to equal it. The sea breezes keep the trees healthy and make the winter mild. Snow never lies here, and I have scarcely ever known the thermometer to be down to zero. There is seldom any winter weather earlier than January 1st, and then it only lasts a short while."

Mr. T. W. Mowat says:-"I consider my farm of more value to me than a salary of $80 or $85 a month in the city. My poultry alone pay their own cost and find us in flour and groceries, which is pretty well for a family of ten. Poultry raising and dairying I consider to be the most profitable line. We have Jersey cows and Leghorn and Spanish fowls. I dispose of my produce chiefly in Nanaimo"

Mr. H. Ruckle says:-"A man who understands farming and has a little capital will do as well or better here than anyplace in North America.We hold a very central position as regards markets. Dairying and poultry I consider pay the best, and fruit growing is also very profitable. I lived formerly in Ontario, and consider there is more to be made off a farm here than there. The chief trouble is the clearing."

Market prices obtainable for farm produce in Victoria or Nanaimo (shipped by S.S. Joan) are about as follows :-Wheat, $25 a ton ; oats, $28 a ton peas, $30 a ton hay, $14 a ton ; potatoes, $17 to $20 a ton turnips, $6 a ton calves (6 weeks old), $8 to $10 each ; lambs (early), $4.50 each; young pigs (6 weeks old), $2.50 each ; turkeys, $ 1.50 to $2.50 each ; geese, $ 1 to $1.50 ; ducks, $7 to $8 per dozen ; chickens, $5 to $6 per dozen ; eggs, 20 to 40 cents a dozen (shipped in cases containing from 30to 36 dozen); butter, 25 to 35 cents per lb.; wool, 10 cents per lb.; apples, 2 cents per lb.; pears, 2 centsper lb.; plums, 2.5 cents per lb.; cherries, 4 cents per lb.; strawberries,5 to 8 cents per lb.; red or white currants, 8 to 10 cents per lb.; black currants, 7 to 10 cents per lb.; gooseberries, 10 cents per lb ; raspberries, 8 to 10 cents per lb.; blackberries, 8 to 10 cents per lb.


The first white settlers to arrive on the island were Mr. J. P. Booth, the present member of parliament, and Mr. H. Sampson, formerly an employe of the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Rupert. These two gentlemen, together with several others who have since died or left the island, arrived in August 1859, and are still resident there with their families. They came in a schooner which was at that time plying between Victoria and the newly discovered coal mines at Nanaimo; they found the island quite uninhabited except for the occasional visit of wandering and marauding Indians. Under the proclamation of Governor Douglas, any intending settler was permitted to choose land for himself in any desirable spot, and was guaranteed that whenever the land so selected and occupied came to themarket he should have the right to pre-empt it at a sum not exceeding $1.25 per acre. Under this understanding Messrs. Booth and Sampson and others who were with them each selected and marked out their ranches. For a long time life on the island was of a very rough character, and they had much to contend with; provisions all had to be brought from Victoria (a distance of 40 or 50 miles from where they were located) by canoe or small boat. The Indians were dangerous and could only be kept in checkby frequent visits of the gunboat "Forward." Many were the robberies and even murders that were committed, and no unfrequent thing was it to seea miniature naval battle going on between the war canoes of opposing tribes. Panthers and wolves in those days swarmed on the island and prevented any attempt at keeping cattle or sheep. One man relates how he and his father shot nine panthers between them within a few weeks one autumn, and the howling of wolves was a constant source of disturbance at nights. There were also a few bears at that time on the island, and they would come around the ranchers' log huts and kill their pigs at their very doors. One day a settler shot a bird from his door sill, his little dog ran to pick it up, a panther pounced on the dog, the settler pounded the panther with the stock of his gun, but it would not let the dog go and escaped with its prey into the woods. But panthers, wolves and bears are no longer a terror now; a determined war was waged against them by owners of live stock, and by shooting and trapping and the use of poison they were after a while exterminated, and if ever one has the audacity to swim over from Vancouver Island, a collection is at once made among the settlers and a premium set on his head, which with the Government reward of $7.50 is sufficient inducement to call out the best hunters in immediate pursuit, and he is very soon dispatched.

About the same time that the first white people came on the island there arrivedalso a number of colored people from the States, and many of them still remain as residents. Some of the first white settlers intermarried with the Indians, and thus has arisen quite a little colony of half-breeds. One of the residents tells how twenty years or so ago it was no strange thing during the months of May or June to see the shores of Ganges harbor swarming with Indians-500 or more in number their long, curiously shaped canoes drawn up on the beach, the object of their visit being to dig, roast, and preserve the clam-fish. That these visits must have been made to the same spot for centuries past is evidenced by the great depth of the clam-shell soil, three four and even in places as much as seven feet in depth, with trees 200 years old or more growing in it ; indeed the theory of our informant that "Indians were roasting clams here in Ganges harbor while Moses was writing the Pentateuch on Mt. Sinai," may not be altogether without foundation. According to his description the process of preserving clams was as follows:-Along the shore, on land now owned by Messrs. Scovell, Mahon and Scott, they would dig the "clams," getting them up out of the wet sand and shingle with a piece of scrap iron or a 'hardak' stick made hard in the fire. Then they would make a number of holes in the beach, each from a yard to a yard and a half wide and about 18 inches deep. In these holes they would place wood and kindle fires, then throw rocks in and make them hot. On the heated rocks they would empty the clams they had dug, bushels and bushels of them, and cover them all up with mats and bags. When the mats were removed the shells were all open and the clams partly cooked. Then came the operation of "scaling clams"-scooping them out of the shell. Long, slender sticks, were then procured, and the clams being threaded on them, the sticks were bent into a hoop and hung up before the fire for the fish to brown. Then they looked very tempting and were ready for market. What the Indians did not require for home use they sold or traded to the Indians of the interior. In Ganges harbor the Indians also used to catch enormous quantities of herring during the season. They would go out in their canoes, and with long flat sticks, 12 or 13 feet in length and shaped like paddles, with nails sticking in the edges, they would scoop up the herrings by the hundred and dump them into their canoes. Then, on reaching shore, they would make a long frame-work of poles, four or five tiers high, and hang the herrings to dry in the sun. They would also place cedar boughs in the water for the herrings to spawn on, and the herring spawn after being dried in the sun was with the man important article of commerce with which to trade with the Interior Indians. About the month of August the smelt would come into the harbor in immense numbers, and during the spawning season would be so thick in the shallow water that they could easily be caught with the hand or drawn on shore with an ordinary garden rake or hoe. Indeed they are still caught in this way, by those who care for them, during the season. The point owned by Mr. Ed. Walter, and called "the spit," used to be agreat place of rendezvous for the Indians. One night there was such a yelling and holloaing and firing of guns on the spit that the settlers in the harbor were in considerable alarm fearing that some Northern Indians had arrived, and that a fight was going on. It turned out, however, afterwards, that a pack of hungry wolves had attacked the Indians' dogs and that that was the cause of the disturbance.

Among the earliest white settlers on the island, who are still living there, and whose names have not yet been mentioned, are Mr. Norton and Mr. Robinson, who came in 186o,and Messrs. Maxwell and Akerman, who arrived a few years later.

The first school house erected on the island was that situated at what is now called the Vesuvius settlement; the original one was built soon after the first settlers arrived ; another one subsequently took its place, built on the same spot ; both these were log buildings. The first school teacher was a colored man named Jones. He taught six days in the week, three days at the Settlement and three days in a log house at the North End. The second school house mentioned has now been replaced by a modern looking frame building, but the old log one still stands close beside it, and is occasionally used for public meetings or Sunday services. There are now four Government schools on the Island, Vesuvius school, 28 pupils, teacher Mr. R. Purdy ; North End school, 18 pupils, teacher Miss McKinnon ; the Valley school, 24 Pupils, teacher Mr.A. W. Cooke ; Beaver Point school, 17 Pupils, teacher Mr. Geo. Kirkendale. The pupils at these schools are, many of them, well advanced, quite a number having passed successfully the High School Entrance Examinations. The teachers' pay is $50 a month.

The first minister to hold a religious service on the island was the Rev. Ebenezer Robson, of the Methodist Church. He preached in the old Vesuvius school house thirty years ago. After him came the Rev. Thomas Crosby and the Rev. Mr. White, Methodist ministers. They resided on Vancouver Island, and paid monthly visits to Salt Spring. The first Church of England clergyman to conduct services on the island was the Rev. Mr. Reece, a married man, who lived at Maple Bay on Vancouver Island, and came over to Salt Spring once a month. He commenced his duties 26 years ago, and remained four or five years. After him the Rev. Mr. Holmes used to visit the island ; and nine years ago the Rev. Canon Dwyer was appointed to the post. He used to come over from Chemainus, on Vancouver Island, and hold fortnightly services.The Rev. H. Kingham was appointed to take charge of the Mission, in connection with other work on Vancouver, in 1887, and during his pastorate the pretty little frame Church of St. Mark's was built (1889) on land donated by Mr.H. Stevens ; it stands high up on a rocky bluff and is a picturesque object; its cost was nearly $800, about half of which amount was raised among the settlers. In 1887 a "Union Church" was built in "the Valley," the intention being that it should be used by Methodists, Presbyterians and the Church of England alike. The members of the latter church elected, however, to worship in the Valley schoolhouse, and during the past year, 1894, they have erected a handsome little frame church, about a mile from the school, at Fulford harbor, which is called St. Mary's. On the other side of Fulford harbor stands the Roman Catholic Church, a frame building, erected in 1884. A priest comes over from Vancouver Island once a month to hold service, the congregation consisting almost entirely of half-breeds.The Methodists usually have service in the Union Church and at the old Vesuvius schoolhouse once a fortnight. The Church of England is the only church that has a resident minister on the island. The first to come and reside was the Rev. J. B. Haslam, about three years ago ; and, when he left in January, 1894, the present incumbent, Rev. E. F. Wilson, took his place. Church of England services are now held regularly at St. Mark's, St. Mary's and the North End schoolhouse, and occasionally at Beaver Point.

Salt Spring Island is within the Electoral District of North Victoria, and has the satisfaction of having a resident of the island for its representative, Mr. Booth having been re-elected to serve in the House at the last general election in July, 1894. There are two justices of the Peace on the island, Mr. A. Walter and Mr. Joel Broadwell, and one constable, Mr. W. McFadden. The gaol, a small square white building, containing a hall and two cells, was built nine years ago, but has only been occupied about five times, once for cattle stealing, twice for killing game out of season, and twice for fighting ; this speaks well for the peaceable condition of the community. The keys of the gaol are kept by Mr. Broadwell, and trials are held in the narrow hall within.

The present population of the island is estimated to be 450. Large number of different nationalities are represented. There are approximately, old and young, 160 English (or Canadians), 50 Scotch, 20 Irish, 22 Portuguese, 13 Swedes, 4 Germans, 2 Norwegians, 34 Americans, 90 Halfbreeds, 40 Colored, or partly Colored people, 6 Sandwich Islanders, 10 Japanese, also 1 Egyptian, 2 Greeks, 1 Patagonian.

Religious connection is about represented as follows:-Church of England, 220 ; Presbyterian, 30 ; Methodist, 60 Roman Catholic, 80 ; Baptist, 2 ; Lutheran, 13 ; Greek Church, 2 ; Congregational, 3 ; Salvation Army, 2 ; leaving about 40 whose religion is unknown.

There are about 62 married couples on the island, 35 single men or widowers, 7 single women or widows, 50 young men, 20 young women, 85 boys, 80 girls, 16 babies.

Trades and occupations are represented as follows :-Carpenters and builders, 4; engineers, 2 ; blacksmiths, 3 ; bricklayers, 1; tavern-keeper, 1 ; boarding house keepers, 2; stonecutters, 2; hunters, 2 ; fishermen, 1 ; seal hunters, 10.

There is an Odd Fellows' lodge with a membership of 38. Noble Grand, P. Purvis ; Secretary, Jos. Akerman, Jr. They meet once a month. There are five Post Offices on the Island,viz.: Vesuvius (Joel Broadwell) ; North End (Levi Lakin) Burgoyne Bay (S. Maxwell); Fulford Harbor (11. M. Rogers) Beaver Point (A. McLennan). Five steamboat wharves, viz:--Fernwood, Vesuvius Bay, Ganges Harbor, Burgoyne Bay, Fulford Harbor. Two boarding houses, (1) by Mrs. Stevens, at Vesuvius, roomy and home-like, with accommodation for 12 guests ; charges by the day, $I, by the week, $5. (2) by J. Akerman, in the Valley, charges the same. One tavern, with barroom at Fulford harbor, by H. M. Rogers. One general store, Vesuvius Bay, by E. J. Bitancourt.

Quite a number of the Half-breeds on the Island still gain their livelihood to a considerable extent by hunting ; others go to the Mainland for the salmon fishing in the Fraser River during the season, and among those living on the Island are several professional sealers, who, at the beginning of each year — about January — join a sealing vessel in Victoria and sail away miles 3000 miles across the ocean to the coast of Japan, a voyage of about 60 days, not expecting to be home again before the following September or October. It seems a long way to go, but as they will often bring back from $1,000 to $1,200 in their pockets, they find it well worth their while to make the trip.


A glance at the map inside of the cover will show the geographical position that Salt Spring Island holds as regards the rest of the world. It will be noticed that its longitude is 123 degrees 30 minutes West of Greenwich, and that its latitude is very nearly 49 degrees North of the equator. It is separated from the large Island of Vancouver on the West by a narrow but navigable sea channel, and to the East and North of it are numerous other smaller islands, all lying within the Strait of Georgia. On Kuper Island, just North of Salt Spring is an Indian settlement. Moresby Island to the South is the domain of Captain Robertson, who owns the whole island and resides upon it with his family. Plumper Pass has quite a settlement of white people, and steamboat connection with Vancouver, New Westminster and Nanaimo, as well as with Victoria. Saanich Peninsula to the South, is a part of Vancouver Island, and there a railway, only just opened, connects with the City of Victoria-two trains daily each way. The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway runs Northward from Victoria to Nanaimo and Wellington, some few miles back from the sea channel to the left of the map, and is shortly to be extended to Comox. To "catch the train," a boat must be hired either at Burgoyne Bay or Vesuvius Bay, to reach the opposite shore (the charge being $1.50) and then there is a walk of a few miles to the railway ; or a boat may be taken from Fulford Harbor or Beaver Point to Sidney, the railway terminus on the Saanich Peninsula. But the usual way of getting to Victoria or Nanaimo, and also of sending produce to or receiving stores from the city, is by steamship "Joan,"-a very comfortably fitted up passenger vessel of 544 tons register. The charge for single passage to or from Victoria is $2.00, return ticket $3.00 ; to or from Nanaimo, $1.50, return $2.25. Freight to Victoria $2.50 a ton ; to Nanaimo $2.00. Meals on board, very good and well served, 50 cents. Stateroom for the night, extra 75 cents. A trader on board, named J. Wilson, does a good deal of business with the Salt Spring farmers. The "Joan" arrives up from Victoria on Tuesday, in the forenoon, calling at Burgoyne Bay at about 11 a.m. and Vesuvius Bay 12 noon, and thence proceeding on her northern course 35 miles to Nanaimo, and on 56 miles further to Comox. She returns on Saturday, taking the other side of the Island on her down trip, and calling at Fernwood (North End), Ganges Harbor about 9.45 a.m., and Fulford Harbor about 10.45 a.m. The following Tuesday she goes up on the East side of the Island and down on the Westside on Saturday, thus changing her course every week. There is always a great gathering at the wharf on "steamboat day;" some are perhaps going on board and some have come to meet friends; others have farm produce to ship or stores to receive ; there are crates of poultry, boxes of eggs, cases of butter, lambs or sheep lying uncomfortably on their sides with their legs pinioned, little pigs carefully boxed up, and great old hogs with their feet tied firmly to a pole by which they will be carried, yelling and struggling but incapable of resistance, on board. All around the wharf under the trees are picturesquely grouped the settlers' saddle ponies and conveyances, ox-teams, one-horse carts, heavy waggons with horses, spring buggies, etc. The boat comes, ropes are thrown--all is bustle for awhile--then a deep whistle, plank drawn in, and off she goes again. Settlers crowd around the little Post Office window to get their mail and their freight bills, then all disperse, and the wharf is left empty and deserted.

It remains now only to add that the chief wants felt by the settlers, and which they hope will erelong be supplied, are: --

1st. A doctor. Not that there is much sickness--far otherwise. The island seems to have a wonderful immunity from disease of all kinds, whether as affecting man, beast or feathered fowl. But there are occasionally cases when a doctor's presence is most urgently and promptly needed, and none is to be found nearer than Maple Bay ; it is hard also on a poor settler to have to pay $15, $20 or $25 for the single visit of a medical practitioner. A doctor who would make his living partly by farming, with the annual grant from the government of $200.00, and the fees he would collect from his patients on Salt Spring and the adjacent islands, might pass a very easy and enjoyable life.

2nd. A family hotel, built on some pretty spot overlooking the sea.

3rd. A good general store in some central spot.

4th. A shoe maker.

5th. Telegraphic (or telephone) communication with Vancouver Island.

6th. More frequent steamboat service, especially in summer when small fruits are liable to spoil, if not shipped at once. A daily ferry to Sidney, to connect with the Saanich train would be very advantageous.

7th. More settlers. That the land is worth having is proved by the rapidity with which it has been all taken up. No government lands remain now on the market, with the exception of some mountain ranges and a tract near the centre of the Island, called the Cranberry Marsh. But owners of large farms are, many of them, willing to divide up and dispose of a portion of their property, provided they can obtain a fair figure. As clearing land is expensive, there is a vast difference between the price of cleared land under cultivation, and that which is still primeval forest. The market value of the former is from $50.00 to $125.00 per acre, according to situation and character of soil, while the latter may be purchased at from $7.00 to $15.00 per acre.

The parties in Victoria and Nanaimo with whom the Salt Spring Island farmers for the most part do their trading are:--


Henry Saunders, Wholesale and Retail Grocer, Johnson Street.
Simon Leiser, Wholesale Grocer, Yates Street.
T. G. Raynor, General Grocer, 19 City Market.
S. Schoen, General Grocer, 177 Douglas Street.
L. Dickinson, General Grocer and Feed, 113 Douglas Street.
T. Porter & Sons, Butchers, Johnson Street.
Erskine & Wall, General Grocers, corner Government and Fort Streets.
Fell & Co., General Grocers, Fort Street.
Brackman & Ker, Feed, Government Street.
Fred. Carne, Jr., Grocer and Provisions, Yates Street.
W. J. Mitchell, Butcher, Douglas Street.
Lawrence Goodacre, Butcher, Government and Johnson Street.
Van Volkenburgh, Butcher, Yates Street.


Lawrence Manson, General Grocer.
D. H. Beckley, Butcher.
Co-operative Store Grocery and Butcher Departments.
Bevilockway, General Grocer and Fruiterer.
Ed. Quennell, Butcher.
A. R. Johnson & Co., General Grocer and Feed.

Source: Rev. E.F. Wilson, "Salt Spring Island British Columbia 1895" (Victoria: The Colonist Presses, 1895), 1-30. Notes: Courtesy of Sue Mouat, Salt Spring Island. Also available at the BC Archives, Victoria, B.C

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