Louis and Sylvia Stark

[ Mrs. Sylvia Stark (aged 92) with apples from her orchard, Saltspring Island ]

Mrs. Sylvia Stark (aged 92) with apples from her orchard, Saltspring Island, Unknown, 1930, BCA, A-01726

The Stark's history is the best known of all the Black settlers on Salt Spring Island because Mrs. Stark told her story to her daughter [Emma Stark] who recorded it and deposited it with the Salt Spring Archives. The Starks arrived on Salt Spring in 1860 and took up a pre-emption. After the murder of one of their hired help, Giles Curtis, and two earlier murders of Black settlers, the Starks left their property on northern Salt Spring and moved closer to other settlers. In 1875 they left the island to farm near Nanaimo. They lived there until Mr. Stark died mysteriously in the spring of 1895, either from a fall down a cliff, or by foul play. (See The Victoria Colonist , March 1, 1895). After Mr. Stark's death, Mrs. Stark returned to Salt Spring.

The Starks According to Rev. Ebenezer Robson's Diary

Sunday, October 13, 1861.


I took canoe at Booth's as the canal would be dry on Monday morning & came to the Starks. He met us at the landing. I found a pleasing and pious person in Mr. Stark's wife. [Willis Stark] They once were slaves in the Southern United States, that land of liberty. Mr. Stark bought himself for $1500. Mrs. S's father bought her. They were married in California. They came up to the Island two years ago and now they with their children, 3 in number, are living on their own farm. It is good land and they only pay $1 an acre for it. Mr S has about 30 head of cattle. He sowed one quart of wheat near his house last winter and reaped 180 quarts in the summer, one grain of wheat produced 2360 grains on 59 branches. His turnips of which he has a large quantity are beautiful and large-- also cabbage etc etc. His wife, who was [invested?] about 2 months ago, filled my sacks with good things — 4 lbs of fine fresh butter, 2 qt bottles new milk. Mr Stark gave me some of his large turnips ...left SS Island at 10 am on Monday [...]

Source: Notes: Source: BCA, H/D/R57, R57.3, Robson, Ebenezer, "Diary of Ebenezer Robson," September 16, 1861 — March 27, 1862

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