Thursday, March 29, 2012

Old Cemeteries Society talk at St. Stephens

I apologize for the delay in posting this; my internet was interrupted for about three days -- it is now fixed and things will proceed, as normal, for a week or so.
As those of you who attended know, the event did happen although it appeared for a short while that it might not.
Heavy rain was forecast (and it did fall in the morning); but that afternoon the skies were clear and blue and it was a beautiful spring day, for the most part.

I will pick up this talk from the paragraph on the last posting: "Life must have been hard for the first settlers, who had to carve a homestead from the wilderness. It was almost ten years before they were well enough established to desire a church for themselves, and a school for their children..."

On February 11, 1862, Scottish settler William Thomson deeded five acres of farmland to Right Reverend George Hills, Bishop of British Columbia, for the purpose of building a church and a school. Interestingly, Thomson was a Presbyterian, but most of the other settlers, including his wife, were Anglican. The only available minister, Reverend Richard Lowe, was also an Anglican minister.

There were no established sawmills at this time (that cut fine boards at least), so the colonists ordered redwood timber from California and hauled it from Fort Victoria to the Mount Newton Valley with a span of oxen.
While the settlers waited for the timber to arrive, they cleared and levelled the land for both church and graveyard. The first three settlers willing to abandon their farming for this heavy work were William Thomson, Duncan Lidgate, and Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
Anderson owned land in North Saanich, though he did not yet reside there.

The building was finished five months after the timber arrived, and the church held its first service and dedication on June 3rd, 1862, with Rev. Richard Lowe officiating. According to historian Bruce McKelvie, the country was so wild and forested that Reverend Lowe had to fight off both bear and panther when he and his wife carried out the load of foodstuffs for the official dedication. (An exaggeration, as I am sure you are aware).

Right Reverend George Hills consecrated the South Saanich church four months later, and reported that, "the church is a pretty structure and well situated. Today it was fairly filled, a considerable addition to the people of the village being made by some sixty friends from Victoria who drove and rode on horseback and in carriages to give the good work a hearty support... Among those present were three Jews, who gave liberally and took a marked interest in the proceedings. This is the first church erected in the rural districts; I trust many more will follow."

One thing is unique about this church -- whenever anyone is in the hall, this church door is left open and anyone can come in to explore the church or to worship. I visited this cemetery many times before I knew that I could also see the inside of the church.

There are now 500 people buried in this old cemetery; the first burials were scattered in the area directly in front of the church entrance -- and that is where we will remain, for the most part. As I have already told you about William Thomson, let us begin at his grave.

WILLIAM THOMSON, d. 11 Aug. 1908, 72 y., MARGARET THOMSON, d. 11 Oct. 1920, 79 y.
William Thomson was born near Dundee, Scotland, in 1829. He apprenticed as a ship's carpenter and, once he got his papers, he left Scotland for adventures in the West. By 1851 he was in San Francisco, California. He took passage north to Vancouver's Island on a small ship called the "William," which was blown off course in rough seas and shipwrecked on the west coast of Vancouver's Island. The drunken captain drowned, but the passengers all reached shore, and the sixteen men who survived the wreck were just broaching the barrel of rum when they were captured by Nitinat Natives and kept as slaves for almost six months. Or so the story goes, though James Douglas' report says the men were actually imprisoned for only a short time before they were brought to the fort and traded for blankets. The fearsome Nitinats were, in fact, their rescuers.

Thomson worked for the Hudson's Bay Company long enough to pay back the cost of the blankets the Company had ransomed him with, and the clothing they had supplied him (he had arrived at the fort almost naked). By July 1855 he had made a profit from his employment at Craigflower Farm. Dairyman Angus McPhail, who also worked at the farm, befriended Thomson and took him over a trail to the Mount Newton Valley, showing him land that he, McPhail, had already purchased from the HBC. William Thomson staked two hundred acres of land next door to McPhail's, and paid the HBC fourteen pounds, thirteen shillings and fourpence for the deed.

So William Thomson was the second settler in Saanich and his residence was along the so far non-existant Mount Newton Cross Road. He built a little house he called Bannockburn, and returned to Fort Victoria to propose to fifteen-year-old Margaret Dyer, step-daughter of DUNCAN LIDGATE (who we will speak of later).

The couple married in 1856, and for a year or so lived in a little house outside Fort Victoria, where their first child was born. Thomson's wife was the first white woman to reside in the Mount Newton valley, and the second Thomson child was the first white child born in Saanich.

Within a few years Thomson had six other close neighbours, amongst them his father-in-law, Duncan Lidgate. Besides farming up to 200 acres of land, William Thomson built many of the original roads in the area and was a diligent community worker, helping to found the Saanich Agricultural Fair and being the driving force behind the building of St. Stephens Church. In 1862, when the church was under construction, Thomson was still a young man -- about 26 years sold. He lived fifty more years in Saanich and died, age 72, in August 1908. His wife Margaret, only 15 when she married him, died at 79 years of age in October 1920. The Thomson house still stands at 1189 Mount Newton Cross Road.

This grave hold two Michell children who died as infants, and other Michell family members who came to Saanich in the early days. The patriarch of the family was THOMAS MICHELL, born in Swansea, Wales, in April 1832. His father was a mechanical engineer by trade, and Thomas apprenticed as a brass-moulder and worked alongside his father and brother in that business. But Thomas, and I believe, other members of his family, came to North America and lived for a few years in Baltimore, Maryland.

From Baltimore, Thomas and his wife, Margaret Jenkins, made their way to the colony of Vancouver's Island, arriving in 1862 when he was thirty years of age. Once in Victoria the couple became the proprietors of the What Cheer House on Yates Street -- a lodging house that stood where the Dominion Hotel stands today. But Michell had come to Victoria to seek his fortune, and in spring 1863 he headed off to the Cariboo gold fields, leaving his wife in Victoria to run the lodging house.

He returned home that fall with enough gold to set up a small grocery store on Johnson Street, and next spring headed off to the Cariboo again. This time, as he was digging a pit for an outhouse, he struck a pocket of gold and returned home that fall, wealthy enough to purchase 125 acres of farmland in Saanich.

He actually purchased his land in 1868, and Margaret Michell served as the local nurse and midwife and always rode side-saddle -- even when she was delivering the farm's butter into Victoria to sell. Over the years Margaret bore sixteen children, only six of whom survived. These are two who did not-- an infant that died in 1876, and baby William who died, one month old, in 1898.

Most of the surviving boys became farmers and were early settlers in North Saanich, and one son, George Thomas Michell, attended his first Saanichton fair as an infant and never missed a year afterward -- he also served as president of the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society.

WILLIAM TURGOOSE, 11 July 1830-22 Jan. 1881
William Turgoose was born July 11, 1830, in Ancaster, Lincolnshire, and he emigrated to Illinois with the ABRAHAM POPE family and others. While he lived there he developed a horse-trading business, and when he crossed the country to California in a covered wagon, he brought his herd along with him. Turgoose arrived in Sacramento -- where he heard of the new gold rush in the Cariboo -- and, selling some of his beloved horses, he headed north to Fort Victoria.

He arrived with four horses, and worked on building the old Esquimalt Road from the Esquimalt Harbour into Victoria. When he had saved enough money he sold the last of his animals and went to the Cariboo gold fields, where he bought an interest in the old Ruby claim on Williams Creek, just west of modern-day Williams Lake.

Two years later he sold out the claim and settled in the Saanich district, purchasing Dr. Henry Tuzo's farm and groves of apple trees. Turgoose's farm consisted of five hundred acres and its northwest corner butted into the intersection of modern-day Mount Newton Road and East Saanich -- its runs south and east of that intersection all the way down to the Michell's farm (which still exists). However, Turgoose did not farm his land, but headed off to England and returned, via Illinois, to marry his sweetheart Emma Pope, daughter of ABRAHAM POPE. Turgoose settled in Saanich in 1865 and bred purebred Morgan horses and shorthorn Durham cattle. He died twenty years later, on January 22nd, 1885.

Saanichton's original name was Turgoose, and it was a rest stop on the old East Saanich Road, about where the Prairie Inn is now. However the original Prairie Inn was not on Turgoose's property, but across the road from it, and the inn was not built by Turgoose but by Henry Simpson -- a man who was probably the most prominent man in the neighbourhood next to Thomson, but who is not buried in this churchyard. (In actual fact, I learned that he was buried here, but I did not find him on the list that I was given.)

ABRAHAM POPE, d. 11 Feb. 1886, 81 years, and SARA, d. 11 Dec. 1878, Native of Lincolnshire
Abraham Pope was born July 8, 1805, in Baston, Lincolnshire. He and his wife, Sara, left England in 1853 with their eight children and three members of the WILLIAM TURGOOSE family and other friends. They were bound for the United States.

The party made the Atlantic crossing to New Orleans in 12 days and took a riverboat north, up the Mississippi to Illinois, where Pope bought property and settled down. About 1874 the senior Popes sold their farm to their son and came north to the Mount Newton Valley, to join their son-in-law WILLIAM TURGOOSE. When this church was under construction in 1862, Abraham Pope was about 57 years old; when he actually arrived in Saanich some years later, he was sixty-nine.

After living for a year or so with his daughter and son-in-law, Abraham Pope purchased 79 acres of land east of the Turgoose farm; their farmland straddled Mount Newton Cross Road and butted up to West Saanich Road. He built a house and a carpenter's shop where he constructed furniture. Four years later, in May 1878, the Pope's celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Sara died at age 76 in December of the same year; and Abraham stayed at his place for 5 more years until he finally sold out and moved in with the Turgooses. He died, aged 80, in February 1886.

According to Betty Bell (author of book, "My Fair Land", mentioned in last post), who grew up on Abraham Pope's piece of property in the early 1900's, the land at the junction of West Saanich Road and Mount Newton Cross Road was still known as "Pope's Corner." By the way, after Abraham Pope's death there was some difficulty with a transaction that involved his land, that resulted in years of litigation and a violent quarrel between two South Saanich residents. The argument was settled, after a fashion, when one man shot the other man's entire flock of chickens.

JOHN GREIG, d.1883, Pioneer
John Greig was born about 1825 in Burness, Orkney Islands, and though relatively short at 5'6" was a strong, wiry man with red hair and a fair complexion. He joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1844 from St. Ola, Shetland Islands. He spent the winter on Hudson's Bay, then was sent across the country to the west side of the Rocky Mountains where he served at Fort Colvile, on the Columbia River north of modern-day Spokane.

In 1849 he wed Margaret Goudie, daughter of the Fort Colvile miller, and Chief Trader ALEXANDER CAULFIELD ANDERSON performed the marriage ceremony. Two years later, Greig and his wife made their way to Fort Victoria, where he purchased 30 acres of land in the Esquimalt District. He was Victoria's first lime-burner; he quarried limestone found in small deposits around Victoria, and burned it in a small kiln, producing lime both for enriching farming soil and for making whitewash.

His lime kiln was located at the end of "Lime Avenue," now Admiral's Road, on the southeast corner of the Esquimalt Indian Reserve. (There is also a Lime Bay near Spinnakers Pub that does not seem to have anything to do with Greig).

In 1862, when the church he would later be buried at was being constructed, John Greig was about 37 years old, but he was nowhere near the Mount Newton Valley. He lived on various pieces of land around Esquimalt and in the area around Four Mile House, some of which he refused to pay taxes on and the government took it back. In 1869 he purchased land on Tod Inlet, on the west side of the Saanich peninsula, and he called his farm Burness after his birthplace. Although he farmed his property, Greig was always known as a lime-burner, and he had purchased that particular piece of land because he knew it had a fine deposit of limestone on it.

Greig was also well known for his fiddle playing -- in Saanich he was in demand at local dances and gatherings, where he probably accompanied FANNY BUTLER's piano. Greig cooked supper for the men he employed to work on his farm and while they ate he gave them a glass of Scotch and played on his fiddle or reminisced about his journey across the country from York Factory to Fort Colvile. There is a story that while he travelled through what later became British Columbia -- possibly over the brigade trail from Fort Colvile to Fort Langley, he saved the lives of his compatriots when they were faced with a supposedly hostile group of Natives, by picking up his fiddle and playing it.

John Greig died at age 67 in October 1892, and his obituary remarked that "British Columbia lost one of those old timers who helped to make her what she is." Margaret Greig died well after her husband, and James Robert Anderson, son of ALEXANDER CAULFIELD ANDERSON, reported on Mrs. Greig's Fort Colvile marriage and her later death in his Memoirs: "Marriage ceremonies which I witnessed at Fort Colvile were performed by my father between two daughters of Goudy, the blacksmith; one, Margaret, to Greig, an employee, and the other, Sara, to George Mackenzie, the miller... Mr. Greig died at the close of 1914, and I attended her funeral -- sixty five years after witnessing her wedding."

Greig's sons sold the farm to the Saanich Lime Company, and eventually the Portland Cement Company, run by Robert Pim Butchart, too it over. As you can guess, John Greig's famland and lime quarry is now the world famous Butchard Gardens.

This gravestone claims that William Batchelor was born in Cheshire in 1832 or thereabouts. He was about thirty years old when the church was constructed, and died on November 7 1887, at age 55. But Batchelor did not live in Saanich-- he lived in Victoria, where he was known as Frederick Reynolds! His story is written up in the book, Feeding the Family: 100 years of Food & Drink in Victoria, by Nancy Oke & Robert Griffin.

The man Victoria society knew as Frederick Reynolds arrived in 1861, and a few years later was famous as Victoria's most colourful butcher. His business was at Yates and Douglas, in the Reynolds Building that still stand there. From Feeding the Family: "Reynolds was able to live the life he enjoyed: facing horses, wearing fine clothes, sporting a valuable gold watch... and pursuing some of the flashy ladies of the town, the same as other men, but not spending a great deal of money on them."

Batchelor/Reynolds had a secret, and it was this: he was a deserter from the United States Army! And in August 1874, his nephew, who knew his secret, arrived in Victoria from England and took over the charge of his uncle's ledgers. However, the Batchelor nephew kept such irregular books that it quickly became clear, to everyone, that he was more than a little dishonest!

From the book: "At this time Reynolds' behaviour became erratic -- he believed people were in his house and that he would be kidnapped and sent to China. He would at times appear naked at his front door. His fears increased, probably because his nephew knew his secret and threatened to reveal it."

The nephew convinced him to sign away all his possessions -- but eventually Reynolds recovered his senses and launched a court case against his nephew. The case fascinated Victoria residents for weeks, and Reynolds -- now known as Batchelor -- finally regained control of his business. He immediately sold the butcher shop and moved out to Saanich, presumably -- and here he is, buried here under one of the prettiest gravestones in the cemetery.

GEORGE STEPHEN BUTLER, d. 7 Oct. 1885, 51 y, 17th Regt., and FANNY BUTLER, 28 April 1841-20 Nov. 1920
George Stephen Butler was born in 1834 in Soberton, Hampshire, England, where he grew up. He attended Oxford University and by 1855 he was a Lieutenant in the 17th Light Infantry and fought in the Crimean War -- a conflict between the Russians and an alliance of the French, British, and Ottoman Empires that took place mostly in the area around the Black Sea.

After the War his regiment was posted to Quebec, but Butler was invalided and listed as a retired officer residing in Porchester, Hampshire, in 1862. At that time he was still a young man, only 27, and I suspect that he had already met the woman he was going to marry. His future wife would be FANNY CATHERINE BRETT.

Fanny was born April 28, 1841, in Portsea, and her father was a grocer and wine merchant who, I believe, died when she was quite young. It is possible that when she met her husband-to-be in England, she was already working as a governess.

In 1862, George Butler was no longer a soldier and had to make a living. Letters of introduction from the Colonial Office in Downing Street, London, indicate that he planned to come to the colony, and asked Governor James Douglas to put him to work. Apparently Douglas had no employment for Butler, and the then 28-year old soldier went up the Fraser River to the Cariboo gold fields, and in the next few years he made enough money to purchase his farm in Saanich.

In 1868 he married Fanny, who he had invited to come out from England. At the time of their marriage, Butler was 35 years old; and he is already actively farming the one hundred and sixty acre piece of land he purchased in the Mount Newton Valley -- though there was no house constructed on the farm yet. He and his new wife lived in the newly built schoolhouse for many years, and Fanny, who had been a governess in England, was schoolmistress of the new school established alongside St. Stephen's Church. (The school would have been located on the far side of the present parking lot and perhaps on the road that runs alongside the church property).

Fanny had been a musician in England, and her family now sent out a piano. Apparently this piano travelled all over the district in a wagon, wherever entertainment was needed-- perhaps she and JOHN GREIG, the fiddler, entertained at all the parties and dances that took place in early Saanich.

George Butler died of consumption at age 51, on October 7th 1885. After her husband's early death, Fanny remained in Saanich where she supported herself by giving piano lessons, and died at age 79 in November 1920. I am told that Fanny's well used piano is still preserved in the museum at the Saanich Pioneers' Society.

George and Fanny Butler's descendants still live here; in the 1940's the sons started Butler Brothers on their old property -- a business that began as a gravel pit but expanded into concrete and aggregate. Butler Bros. is still a very familiar name to anyone who lives in the Victoria area.

JOHN DURRANCE, 1829-1904
John Durrance was born in 1828 in Leicestershire, England. He was 18 when he and his brother, James, came to Fort Victoria. The brothers made a brief journey to California where James remained, but John returned to the Colony. In 1860 he settled on almost 400 acres of land which he named Spring Valley farm; there were no roads to that part of the peninsula, so John first saw the property he wanted to own by rowboat. (His property was south-east of JOHN GREIG's farm).

He cleared fifty acres of land by hand, then acquired a team of oxen and lived in a tent until he could build his house near the corner of what is now Wallace Drive and Durrance Road. Sometime around 1870 he married the widow, Jane Dyke, and their first child was born in 1872.

Jane's first husband was Richard Cheeseman, who came to Fort Victoria as an HBC employee and who eventually constructed the Royal Oak Inn, somewhere in the area we now call Royal Oak. Cheeseman died when his horses bolted and threw him out of the wagon, and Jane oversaw the management of the property for two years, before marrying her second husband in 1864. He died of heart trouble only a few years after the marriage, and Jane then married John Durrance, and she and her five children moved out to Spring Valley farm. Jane died in 1897, aged 50. In 1904 John Durrance was found dead in a well on his property.

John Durrance's son inherited the property after his father's death, and built his new house on the hill behind the first house. The second house still stands at 155 Durrance Road; but the only thing that remains of the senior Durrance's farm (other than the land itself) are the cherry trees planted at the corner of Wallace and Durrance Road.

DUNCAN LIDGATE, d. April 1874, 63 y, Native of Scotland, and HELEN, 1810-1889
Duncan Lidgate, father-in-law of WILLIAM THOMSON, was born on the 26th June 1814 in Pathead, west of Newton Grange and southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland -- though other descendants give me different birthplaces for this man. He married in England but his first wife died after giving birth to their child. In 1844 he married his second wife, Helen Dickson, who already had one child by a previous marriage.

Duncan Lidgate arrived at Fort Victoria in 1852 aboard the Norman Morrison -- one of the HBC's ships -- with his wife and three children including MARGARET DYER, who would eventually marry WILLIAM THOMSON. Lidgate was a skilled artisan who was hired for his abilities -- in the HBC's records he was listed as a "joiner" and millwright. But when the Lidgate family arrived in the Colony, they were disappointed by their reception -- no housing had been constructed for them and they had to live with the other new employees in large rough barns on the Craigflower farm. They were eventually housed, however, and Lidgate worked under Kenneth McKenzie and helped to construct the new grist mill on the farm.

He met WILLIAM THOMSON at Craigflower farm, and in 1853 he followed his son-in-law to be to Mount Newton Valley and cleared a site for his new home at a property now labelled 1459 Mount Newton Cross Road. Lidgate was better educated than the other men who surrounded him, but references in various journals refer to his occasional drunkeness. In fact, Lidgate appears to have gotten into a little trouble at Craigflower Farm when, in May 1856, he and two friends were arrested and thrown in jail for four days, for "shooting into Mr. McKenzie's house."

In Saanich, for the most part, Lidgate settled down to work his 60 acres as a mixed farm. He was active in his community, helping to form the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society and working to build this church. In 1862, when this building was erected, Duncan Lidgate was about 48 years old. He died fifteen years later when he was only 63 years old, in April 1874; his wife, Helen, who had served as midwife through the early years in Saanich, died age 79, in 1889. A cairn in front of their old Mount Newton Road residence, at 1459 Mount Newton Cross Road, honors this couple.

WALTER BIRNIE ANDERSON, d. 1st February 1944
Walter Birnie Anderson, born in 1856 at Cathlamet, Washington Territory, is one of the sons of ALEXANDER CAULFIELD ANDERSON, and the only son to have been buried close to his father in this churchyard. He was young when he arrived in Victoria, and only six years old when this church was under construction.

He married Emily Holloway in 1884, and the first of his children was born in Port Simpson -- presumably outside the fur trade fort that his father, ALEXANDER CAULFIELD ANDERSON, and his grandfather James Birnie, had constructed in the summer of 1834. He might already have been a policeman at Fort Simpson -- he joined the fledgling British Columbia Provincial Police and served mostly in the Comox and Courtenay area, where he daughter Mary Seton Anderson (also buried here) was born.

Walter had quite an exciting career as a policeman -- in 1893 he was called to Savary Island to investigate the murders of Jack Green and Tom Taylor who ran a store on the island. In June 1893, both Michael Manson, Justice of the Peace of Cortes Island (where I grew up), and Constable Walter Anderson were involved in another police chase and exchange of gunfire on Reid Island, where Jack Myers reportedly shot Big Jack O'Connor to death!

By the turn of the century, Walter had retired from the police force and owned the Cumberland newspaper and built houses in the town. He returned to Victoria and purchased or built a house in Oak Bay, on Roslyn Avenue almost immediately behind the shopping centre. Walter and his older, James, used to meet at that house regularly, and Walter's son relayed stories of how the two elderly brothers would laugh as they remembered all the old stories they had grown up with.

Walter is important to Saanich historians in that he wrote about the early history of North Saanich when he lived here with his father. These stories were published in the Colonist newspaper under the heading, "Chronicles of Old North Saanich," and they tell many stories of his early life with his father.

I think that Walter would have been a wonderful man to know, but the family was so disconnected that my mother, who as a child lived only a few miles northwest of the church, never knew she had an uncle Walter. But if you look here, my mother's older sister in buried in Walter's plot. Claire was born three years before my mother was born, and brought home to die.

We are now standing in front of the grave of my great grandfather, ALEXANDER CAULFIELD ANDERSON, and his wife, Betsy. The gravestone says Eliza, but the Birnie family Bible has her name as Betsy and she is also listed in the 1850 Wahkiakum Census as Betsy Anderson. She was a simple country girl, born into the fur trade, and though Anderson gave her a more sophisticated name, suitable for the wife of a fur trade gentleman, it never took.

Betsy was born at the Hudson's Bay Company post of Spokane House in 1822, and at the time this church was constructed, she was forty years old. It is difficult to impossible to tell you any stories about her because few of them were recorded, and that is typical of the fur trade and, perhaps, of early pioneer life as well.

However, her son Walter wrote one or two stories that show what kind of woman Betsy was. Here is one of them, from "Chronicles of Old North Saanich," the Daily Colonist, June 6, 1937: "One of the older [Native] women made a practice of calling every week with fish, cockles, etc., thus keeping us supplied with a welcome change of food. We all got to be quite fond of [her], who in turn seemed to think the world of mother and the rest of us.

"In the course of time the old woman became stricken with partial paralysis and was unable to walk. We all missed her greatly, and she was often visited with bits of old clothing and a little "whiteman's food." One day, about a year after she became bedridden... she crawled up to mother's feet [from the Native village] and made her understand that she had come to her for protection, as she was afraid that her people were going to let her die from starvation... She was fed and made as comfortable as possible... Shortly afterwards some men of the tribe appeared on the scene... A lecture was delivered to the braves and they were strongly enjoined to take all possible care of the old woman. This they promised to do and carried her away, she crying as they did so. We never saw her again, as she died shortly after."

Betsy was able to deliver a lecture to the Native men because she was Native herself. Her probable grandfather was the [French-Canadian or Metis] Joseph Beaulieu who came across the mountains with explorer David Thompson in1807, and her grandmother was Cree. In this very English community she would have been considered an Indian. But when Betsy Anderson died in 1872, the newspaper reported that the service at St. Stephens was attended "by the family and many friends. No recent event has so saddened the people of Saanich as the demise of this estimable wife and mother, and Mr. Anderson and his children have the entire sympathy of the community."

Born in 1814, Alexander Caulfield Anderson was 48 years old when he helped to clear land to build this church. He was a fur trader, and had joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1831, serving at various posts on the Northwest coast and at Fraser's Lake. He spent many years in charge at Fort Alexandria, on the Fraser River north of modern-day Williams Lake. He is best known for the four explorations he made between Kamloops and Fort Langley in 1846 and 1847 -- what most people today don't realize is that those four explorations resulted in the construction of the new brigade trail over the Coquihalla mountain range that was the first highway from the coast into the interior of what later became British Columbia.

In 1854, Anderson retired from the fur trade and settled on the Columbia River west of Fort Vancouver. He moved north to Fort Victoria in 1858, because of the constant, grating American animus against anyone of British ancestry. But in Victoria he faced the same problem (as did all the fur traders), and he lost his government job in 1859.

Anderson retired to work his farm in North Saanich -- he and five other fur traders had invested in more than 1,600 acres of farmland, and their combined properties stretched all the way across the Peninsula from Union Bay (modern-day Pat Bay) to Tseyum Harbour, more or less along the line of Wain Road.

In the fall of 1861, Anderson brought a herd of 60 cattle north from his father-in-law's property on the Columbia River, and put them out to pasture on the grasslands of his farm. He also continued to run the shipping business that he owned, in partnership with the Lowe brothers, Thomas and John. But the winter of 1861-62 blew in with freezing temperatures that froze the Fraser River to its mouth, and Anderson lost his shipping business to his wealthier American competitors.

The early winter also brought deep snow that buried his North Saanich farmlands until spring, and no farmer in the area was well enough established to have grown hay. Cattle do not forage under snow for feed, and Walter Anderson recorded that "the poor cattle went moaning about the Wintry plains unable to paw any sustenance from under the frozen snow. Willows and other brush was cut to yield a scanty fare, and the end of March found us with a bare dozen of cows out of a herd of about sixty."

So, in the spring of 1862, when this church was being constructed, Anderson was in the middle of a financial crisis of epic proportions. It was about this time he sold his Victoria property and moved to his new house in Saanich, and began to seriously farm his land. In later years, his son, Alexander, did most of the farming and his daughter, Rose, ruled the household with an iron fist -- Walter described her as "fearsome!"

Writing provided another source of potential income for Anderson, and he wrote most of his many manuscripts at his house in Saanich. He also drew his maps there -- there are fourteen Anderson maps in the BC Archives, including some early maps of the Saanich district. A copy of a map that shows all the properties these early settlers farmed is held in the Sidney Museum and Archives.

In 1871, the struggling Colony of British Columbia joined Canada and the Dominion asked for representatives to the House of Commons. Anderson threw his hat into the ring, but one of his competitors was the local brewer -- an affable Irishman named Arthur Bunster. The election took place in Henry Wain's North Saanich roadhouse, with Anderson's 10 year old son, Walter, acting as returning officer. On Election Day, Arthur Bunster distributed free beer outside the voting hall, and Anderson watched as the tide of voters turned against him.

At last, one of his strongest supporters entered the hall to cast his vote for Bunster. Anderson rose to his feet and, looking the man sternly in the eye, said, "And you, too, Mr. Blank." -- Young Walter wrote: "I had never properly grasped the significance of Caesar's dying reproachful question until that moment. Well, the election was over, and Bunster's beer won the day."

For twenty years Anderson led a simple life as a poverty-stricken gentleman farmer in North Saanich, struggling to make a living. He continued to represent his Saanich neighbours in Victoria, arguing for improvements to the roads and better bridges. He was the Dominion representative for the Indian Reserve Commission and the Dominion Fisheries Commissioner, and travelled up and down the coast in that latter position, in particular.

But at last he was forced to sell the last of his farmland and move into Victoria, where he died in May 1884. Anderson's obituary read: "Another pioneer has crossed the dark river and joined the Great Majority on the other side. Alexander Caufield Anderson, who died yesterday afternoon at 3 1/2 o'clock, after a brief illness, was one of the most intellectual and valued pioneer citizens of the province. Born in Calcutta on the 10th of March, 1814, he was consequently in his 71st year at the time of his death."

His children buried him with his wife in this cemetery. In August his son, James, arranged a stone be cut for his parents' grave; almost a year after his father's death he watched as the tall stone marker was placed on the grave.

And so, we have a varied group of people buried in the South Saanich cemetery -- some who came from the fur trade, and some who gained their wealth from gold panning in the Cariboo. Farming proved to be the primary event that occurred in early Saanich, and the majority of the persons who lived here were traditional farmers (I have just learned that we had a tobacco farmer in Saanich, and so not everyone was a traditional farmer!)

For the most part,the one thing that all these early settlers had in common was their church, which some had built with their own hands. It is one hundred and fifty years since this church was constructed, and it is in a fight for its life. The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is planning to divest itself of ten small Vancouver Island churches, and St. Stephens was one of them. If they go ahead with their plans, St. Stephens could vanish!

However, the congregation of St. Stephens church is determined to prevent this from happening, and so the little church, that brought all these interesting early settlers together, will remain open.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

St. Stephens Church and South Saanich Cemetery

Welcome to the historic St. Stephens Church and the South Saanich cemetery -- St. Stephens is the oldest church in British Columbia used continually as a place of worship since its construction.
In February 1852, Governor James Douglas purchased some 18,000 acres of land from the Coast Salish people who lived on the Saanich peninsula.
This land was marked off in one hundred acre allotments and sold to settlers -- these two strips of land, one on either side of Mount Newton, would become what the settlers called North and South Saanich.
It must have been a hard life for the first settlers as they carved a homestead from the wilderness, and it took three or so years before these farmers became well enough established to desire a church for themselves, and a school for their children.
On February 11, 1862, Scottish settler William Thomson deeded five acres of farmland to the Right Reverend George Hills, Bishop of British Columbia, for the purpose of building a church and a school.

If anyone needs more information about the construction and history of this little church, they should purchase the book, Symbols of Faith; the Story of Saint Stephen's Church, Saanichton, British Columbia, by Gwen and Michael Wilkey, published by West Saanich AeroGraphic Publications, Pat Bay, 1995.
You might obtain this book through the St. Stephens Church itself.

The above photograph is of Block A (front), and the three graves directly under the large tree in the back of this photograph are those of the DURRANCE family.
The graves at the front of this section are those of some of the THOMSON family. The photographer is standing on the steps of the church looking north.

This next photograph is of the northern half of Block A (back), and the people buried in this section of the cemetery are GEORGE STEPHEN BUTLER and wife, WILLIAM BATCHELOR, owner of Batchelor's Market (general store) in Victoria, and fur-trader JOHN GREIG, who was one of the men who served under Alexander Caulfield Anderson at Fort Colvile.
I will have lots more information to add to John Greig's story, actually.
If you want more information on William Batchelor, you could purchase Feeding the Family: 100 years of Food & Drink in Victoria, by Nancy Oke and Robert Griffin, Royal BC Museum, 2011 -- but wait; I will tell you the story in a later posting!

This is Block B of the cemetery, where many of the first settlers are buried. William THOMSON and his wife, Margaret, are here; as are some members of Thomas and Margaret MICHELL's family; William TURGOOSE and his wife, Emma; Emma's father Abraham POPE and his wife, Sara; and Duncan LIDGATE and his wife, Helen. Alexander Caulfield ANDERSON and his wife, Betsy Birnie, are also buried in this section of the old cemetery.

This year the old church is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, but when the first settlers arrived, this area was wilderness.
As there were no sawmills in the area at the time, redwood timber was ordered from California and hauled over the Native trail from Fort Victoria to the Mount Newton valley by a span of oxen.
While the settlers waited for the timber to arrive, they cleared and levelled the land for both church and graveyard.
The first three settlers willing to abandon their farming for this heavy work were William Thomson, Duncan Lidgate, and Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
The building was finished five months after the timber arrived, and the church held its first service and dedication on June 3rd, 1862, with the Rev. Richard Lowe officiating.
According to historian Bruce McKelvie, the country was so wild and forested that Reverend Lowe had to fight off both bear and panther when he and his wife carried out the load of foodstuffs for the official dedication.

After George Hills, Bishop of Columbia, performed the consecration of the South Saanich church on October 8th, 1868, he report that: "the church is a pretty structure and well situated.
"Today it was fairly filled, a considerable addition to the people of the village being made by some sixty friends from Victoria who drove and rode on horseback and in carriages to give the good work a hearty support...
"Among those present were three Jews, who gave liberally and took a marked interest in the proceedings.
"This is the first church erected in the rural districts; I trust many more will follow."

On January 7th, 1971, St. Stephen's Church was honoured when Commander of the Maritime Forces Pacific, Admiral R. H. Leir, and the officers of the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, attended a service to lay away a white ensign and a current Canadian Forces flag for the first time in a church in Canada.
The gold crown on the flagstaff was one of the last made in the naval workshops at Esquimalt.

There is one more thing that is unique about this church -- whenever there is someone at the church-offices at the front of the church property, this church door is left open and anyone can come in to explore or to worship.

I am giving a talk in this churchyard on April 1st and it will last about an hour or so -- I presume I will need to talk about three quarters of an hour as wandering through the churchyard will take up a certain amount of time.
Obviously, there are some people I will not have time to talk about.
Some of these are:

JAMES CAMP, buried in Block A, Plot 38, Stone reading "d. 23 August 1886, 75 years old."
James Camp was born in Tavistock, Gloucestershire, in 1810, and he and his son, John, left England for the colony when James' wife died.
The gold records show that the Camps purchased a mining licence on May 9th, 1864, and his obituary records that he trundled a wheelbarrow loaded with 400 pounds of gear from Yale up the old Cariboo Road to the goldfields.
Father and son remained in the Cariboo goldfields for several years, and later worked in the Hastings mills (early Vancouver) or were employed in the Dewdney survey of the Canadian Pacific Railway line.
In 1877, the Camps took over the proprietorship of the Royal Oak Hotel and ran it until James' death in 1886.
John stayed in the area after his father's death, running the original Prairie Inn for many years.
John and his wife, Annie, are buried next to John's father in this cemetery.

JOHN DYER, buried in Block A, Plot 16, Stone reading died 5th April 1896, 65y."
He was born in Devonshire in 1830, and was a farmer whose house still stands at 5930 Patricia Bay Highway; it is one of the oldest farmhouses on the peninsula.
To support his family, John chopped wood and delivered it into Victoria -- quite a challenge for anyone travelling over these early roads.

HUGH MCKENZIE, buried beside his wife in Block B, Plot 175, Stone "1810-1889," and Mary Anne, Block B, Plot 176, Stone "d. 24 April 1883, 55y., a Native of NS."
Hugh McKenzie was born in 1810 in West River, Nova Scotia -- his wife Mary Anne was born about 1828, also in Nova Scotia.
In 1877, Alexander, their son, purchased a house for his parents and brought them out to Saanich, where either Hugh McKenzie or his son, Alexander, ran a boarding house on East Saanich Road near the Turgoose farm.
Later Alexander married Helen Thomson, eldest daughter of William and Margaret Thompson, on Christmas Day 1800 -- and so the McKenzie's are related to all the major families who lived and farmed in the Mount Newton valley.

But the first settler in this neighbourhood was a HBC employee named Angus or Aeneas MCPHAIL.
He does not appear to be buried in this cemetery, but as first settler I think he deserves some mention.
Angus was born on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the island in the Outer Hebrides.
He signed on with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1837 as a labourer and sailed from Stromness to York Factory on the HBC ship, Prince Rupert.
In 1838 he was a labourer at Fort Langley on the Fraser River, and after 1846 is listed as a Dairyman at Fort Victoria.
By 1855 he is listed under the fort's "Sundry Accounts" and he already owned land in the Mount Newton Valley where is the first settler -- or at least the first to purchase land there.

If you want more information about the early settlers in Saanich, you can find Betty Bell's book, The Fair Land: Saanich, published by Sono Nis Press in 1982.
It is quite an enjoyable to read, and I learned a little more of my family history, too.
On the map in the middle of the book is shown my grand-father's property -- my sister and I knew from my mother that the first few years of her life were spent in a house or cabin on the shoreline of the Saanich Peninsula, close to Alexander Caulfield Anderson's farm on Wain Road.
My grandfather's residence is marked in this book, and there is a lot of other information, too, that we were unaware of.
"A mile or so north of Mount Newton Bay," Betty Bell wrote, "a small log cabin owned by the Anderson family had been tucked away, some years before our arrival, down in the deep woods.
"Arthur [Beattie] Anderson originally bought a large tract of land, mostly waterfront, and gradually sold various parcels of it to people wishing to erect small summer cottages.
"This included one plot to his own father-in-law.
"Both Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were members of old-time Saanich families of prominence, he being the son of the early settler, A.C. Anderson -- widely known as a Hudson's Bay Chief Trader -- and she being the elder daughter, Emily, of the Reverend Mr. Christmas, pastor at St. Stephen's Anglican Church from 1890 to 1901.
"He was universally loved and, not surprisingly, always spoken of as "Father Christmas.""

Ah, the innocence of those times....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More on the French-Canadians & Metis, in Anderson's New Caledonia

Good morning everyone (and Happy St. Patrick's Day).
On Sunday, May 30, 2010, I posted what I could find out about the French-Canadian and Mixed blood men who worked under Alexander Caulfield Anderson at Fort Alexandria.
This was sometime before Bruce McIntyre Watson's book, Lives Lived West of the Divide, was published, and now I can correct some of the guesses I made in that posting.
Let's see what Watson has to say about the men who worked under Anderson, at Fort Alexandria in the years between 1842 and 1848.

Pierre Cadotte -- I did not know who this man was, but Bruce Watson has more information:
Pierre Cadotte was of mixed descent, born in Rupert's Land about 1821; his parents were Laurent Cadotte and Susanne, Cree. He probably died east of the Rocky Mountains somewhere.
In 1841-42 he was a boute at Fort Alexandria, and a middleman in the brigades, mainly responsible in transporting people around the Columbia -- which means he might have been one of the voyageurs who transported Anderson up the Columbia River in the summer of 1842. In 1846 the death of his wife might have caused him to desert the fur trade, Watson says, though Anderson has him posted at Fort Alexandria in October 1844 -- I wonder if there were two Pierre Cadottes -- alternatively the man at Fort Alexandria is the first man's son, for in the 1850's, Pierre Cadotte and his son of the same name were hunting in the Upper Missouri out of Forts Benton and Union. So.... no real answers here!

Abraham Charbonneau -- A French-Canadian, born about 1815 in Montreal. Watson says that Abraham joined the Hudson's Bay Company in Montreal in 1840 and at first was a comer and goer in the Snake Country. He then was sent to New Caledonia, probably to Kamloops. He went south following the cross country expedition under Anderson, at the end of his contract, and his employers advised the man in charge of Fort Colvile that he should not be rehired because of his attitude and work habits. In spite of that and probably because of the shortage of men at Fort Vancouver, he was rehired there but deserted -- probably for the California gold fields. So, it is clear that this man is no relation to Touissant Charbonneau who crossed the country with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as I guessed in my first posting.

Edouard Crete -- As I said in my posting, Crete was a French-Canadian, born near Lachine or Sorel about 1821. But Watson has more information about him than I was able to discover: He was a middleman at Fort Vancouver, 1838-1839; in New Caledonia, 1839-1848; at Fort Nez Perce, 1848-1849; and Fort Vancouver, 1849-1850. As middleman in the Columbia in late 1847, he manned one of the boats who brought the survivors of the Waiilatpu Mission Massacre to Fort Vancouver with Peter Skene Ogden. In 1848 he was a Private on the Muster Rolls during the Cayuse War, which meant he no longer worked for the HBC, I presume. In 1850 he retired to Crate's Point below the Dalles, raising stock and transporting immigrants downriver to Fort Vancouver.

William Davis -- This William Davis was born in Quebec and joined the HBC in 1845 on a three year contract -- his name is not French-Canadian and so he is probably of British descent. After his cross country expedition with Anderson in 1846, he deserted from the brigade, as you can see from my previous posting about the man, and he was taken back with the threat of capital punishment if he deserted again. He did not, and retired from contract in 1848, returning the Canada.

"Delonaise" -- who is he? We don't know anything more than we did before, and Bruce Watson isn't clearing anything up. However, I do occasionally find people under other names in this book, and so I might eventually figure out who "Delonaise" was.

Joseph Desautels is the same man as the Joseph Desautel (DeGaspar) who I believe I have written about in the Fort Colvile listing a little while ago. Desautels was at Fort Alexandria when Anderson was there, and at Fort Colvile in 1851 and 1852.

Michel Fallardeau -- another favorite of mine. He was mixed descent, as I said in my earlier post, and born about 1806. He joined the HBC service in 1827 and came west with the returning York Factory Express in the fall. For the next twenty-four years he worked at the New Caledonia posts and likely spent much of his time at Kamloops. Bruce Watson also records the story that he was killed by Paul Fraser in 1855 and died two years later, but the records are not clear. Here is Watson's story on that: "Morice reports an apparent exchange between the builder of Fallardeau's coffin and Paul Fraser two days after the even when Fraser indicated that rough boards were good enough for the rascal Fallardeau. The coffin builder, Baptiste, the Iroquois, replied that rough boards would be too good for Fraser. A short time later, as the story goes, Paul Fraser was killed by a falling tree. This does not square with the records, for Michel Fallardeau goes off the records around 1851 but continues on the sundry accounts which could mean that he may or may not have died. However, there is no mention of his death."

I have a Fallardeau story you might enjoy: From James Robert Anderson's memoirs, talking about the journey from Fort Alexandria to Kamloops in spring, 1849: "I have good cause to remember Lac la Hache for it was in that vicinity the following incident took place. I was riding my spirited little horse Petit Cendre mentioned before: we were on a level plain, my sister by my side, when an eagle's nest distracted my attention, and carelessly dropping the reins, my horse in stooping to take a bite of grass stepped upon them and throwing up his head snapped them; in an instant with one bound he cleared the space in front where the elders were riding and set off at a mad race across the plain. My horse was by odds the swiftest in the whole brigade so that when I looked behind the last of them were seen far behind, my father alone was scouring across the plain in a vain effort to head me off. A hill on my left, I fervently hoped was in my line of travel, but no, the road took through a dense wood and I realised that my danger was imminent, so twisting my hands in the mane of the now maddened horse, I offered up a prayer.... Two Indian women whom I met scurried away in terror instead of making any attempt to stop my horse, evidently believing I was from another world.  Shortly after entering the wood the trail was blocked by a fallen tree, which had jammed about six or seven feet from the ground, and the road had therefore deviated and been made round the stump. My horse never hesitated but rushed madly up the obstacle; holding to the pommel of my saddle I threw myself to one side and instantly had safely passed the obstruction, and before I realised the cause of a wild yell, found myself in the middle of a cavalcade of Indians who instantly captured my horse. As luck would have it, amongst the Indians was a French Canadian, Fallardeau by name, how he came to be there I do not to this day know, but it was through him I was enabled to make known my plight. A few minutes after my father came racing through the woods having made a detour, and after a time everybody else, the women folk in tears....." Did you notice that young James called Fallardeau a French-Canadian even though he is apparently Metis? That is what makes these histories so difficult.

Alexandere or Alexis Gendron was a French Canadian born near St. Michel de Yamaska, Quebec, about 1811. He joined the HBC in 1832 and spent most of his time in New Caledonia. In 1853 he retired and moved to the Colvile district, where he died in 1888.

Michel, Theodore and Pierre LaCroix or Lacroise are listed in Bruce Watson's book, and they were not apparently related. Here goes:

Michel LaCroix, a French Canadian born about 1821 in Montreal, joined the HBC around 1839 (though he might have been here earlier). In 1841 he was at Fort St. James; around 1869 he moved away so his children could be educated. He settled on the Fraser River in 1869 and died in 1873 at the age of fifty-four after two days of illness.

Theodore LaCourse was apparently a French Canadian, born at St. Francois, Quebec about 1823, who was posted at Kamloops in 1841-1842 in his first year of employment with the HBC. He retired in 1848.

I cannot identify Pierre Lacourse in Bruce Watson's book: there is an Amable Lacourse who does not appear to be this man, though he was in New Caledonia at various times. Francois Lacourse was a man of undetermined origin in New Caledonia until 1852, when he retired to Canada and complained that Peter Ogden Jr. had beaten and kicked him so severely he now suffered epileptic fits. However, this Pierre Lacourse might be a half-breed son of the Pierre Lacourse who was with David Thompson -- but if so, why would he return to the East? So I guess I don't know who he is.

Joachim Lafleur -- the man who was afraid of snakes -- I have written about in the Fort Colvile posting.

Francois Laframboise was apparently French Canadian born near Montreal, who was at Fort Vancouver by 1831. He spent the next eighteen years in various forts and retired in 1849, settling on a claim in the new Washington Territory.

Jean-Baptiste Lapierre was born about 1795 at Cumberland House and was, of course, of mixed descent. He was in New Caledonia as early in 1821 and was considered a valuable man as he was an interpreter. In the 1840's he worked mainly at Fort Alexandria and the two outposts of Chilcotin and the Thleuz-cuz post, which he helped to establish. He retired, and was reengaged at Fort Colvile in 1852, and died there thirteen years later in 1865.

Thamire Liard (Stanislas) was born in 1816 in or near Montreal, Quebec, and died at St. Paul Oregon on March 18, 1852. He was, of course, French Canadian. He spent most of his time in New Caledonia and was, like Jean Baptist Lapierre, one of the men who established the Thleuz-cuz post.

John Linneard was at Fort Alexandria when Alexander Caulfield Anderson was there, and it is he who appears in the journals of that time -- not Jean Baptiste Leonard. Linneard was an Orcadian Scot who worked at Fort Alexandria up to 1856, and who later died by drowning in the South Thompson River while trying to retrieve a duck. He has been confused with another man by the name of Jean-Baptiste Leonard, a French Canadian who Alexander Caulfield Anderson met at Fort St. James when he took over the place from Peter Skene Ogden for a few months in 1843.

Edouard Montigny -- another favorite of mine -- joined the fur trade from Ruperts Land, according to Bruce Watson and he's done the research. He is clearly Metis, and he spent most of his time west of the Rocky Mountains -- his brother,Tapisshe, was also employed at Fort Alexandria though Anderson knew him as Baptiste and called him a scamp.  

Jean Baptiste Paquet (not Paquette) was born in Lachine about 1830 and came west on a journey that exhausted the sixteen year old; that is why he stayed behind at Kamloops in 1842. He worked for quite a few years west of the mountains and retired in 1858, taking up farming outside Fort Alexandria.

Pierre Roi was a French Canadian born in Sorel or thereabouts, about 1821. He spent the first thirteen years of his career in New Caledonia, doing a variety of jobs while he was there. For more information on his time at Fort Alexandria, please see my earlier posting -- May 30, 2010. Roi retired in 1853 but re-enlisted as a miller at Fort Colvile. He finally retired in 1858 to his farm at Chewalah where he had the only Blackshop shop. He changed his name to Peter King and hewed and framed logs, made farm implements and raised a large family. Many parties and dances were held at the Roi/King residence, but his tranquil life was brought to an abrupt end in 1885 when he died as the result of an accident. In 1853 he married into the large Finlay family (Mary Anne) and so I know I will hear more about him from a Finlay genealogist!

Charles Touin was born about 1813 in Montreal, and came from a fur trade family. When he left Montreal in 1833, he had a wife who might have been behaving badly -- it appears that after two years of marriage Charles was willing to leave her behind and come west of the Rockies where he spent the rest of his fur trade career. He was at the Babine fort and indirectly involved in the murder of William Morwick -- here is the story according to Bruce Watson:

"In 1843 he was indirectly involved in, if not the cause of the William Morwick affair at Fort Babine for he challenged Lekwe to a duel and grazed him with salt shot. Lekwe, in retaliation, rushed Touin and stabbed him twice in the arm. Thinking that Lekwe had been killed by Morwick, father-in-law "Grand Visage" shot Morwick through the pallisades. Touin escaped to Stuart Lake with the news that he delivered to P.S.Ogden," and Anderson, who temporarily replaced Ogden at Fort St. James, had to clean up the mess. His son was the man who purchased Fort Alexandria in 1895 and in 1922 razed the buildings for firewood. Interesting!

Jean-Baptiste Vautrin was a French Canadian whose story has been covered in this blog, in a posting that follows the first Fort Alexandria men posting of May 30th, 2010.

"Allard" is now identified as Joseph Allard, born in about 1820 in St. Charles, Quebec, and a French Canadian who joined the fur trade as a nineteen year old in 1839 from Lachine. He was posted to Fort George [Prince George] and spent much of him time there, but appeared many times in the Fort Alexandria journals. In 1860 he retired; by 1873 he was living as a farmer outside Fort Alexandria.

Charles Onarese remains unidentified, unless he is the son of Charles Onaharashan who worked for the NWC on the Pacific slopes in 1818 and was a trapper in the Snake district in 1824. I will keep an eye open to see if I can identify him better.

Dubois appears to be Pierre Dubois (Below), a French Canadian born in St. Cuthbert, Quebec, about 1806. He joined the HBC in 1825 and may have been a freeman by 1844, when he began using the name Below. But during his fur trade career, he spent time in New Caledonia (1840-1844) and Fort Colvile (1843-1845) where he was a freeman boute. So, he may temporarily have been at Fort Alexandria when Anderson arrived there in winter, 1842.

Michel Kaonasse was born about 1815 in Sault St Louis, Quebec, and was  Native Iroquois. He joined the HBC about 1833 and went to the Athabasca on his way to the Columbia district. While stationed at Fort Alexandria -- as he was in 1843 -- he did carpentry and other work. His wife died while he was at Fort Alexandria or in the neighbourhood, and after that he worked on the Columbia River rather than in New Caledonia. He retired in 1854; his wife's body was "decently interred" on a hill behind Fort Alexandria, at its old location on the west bank of the river.

Joseph Lebrun came south from Fort George where he was working in 1846. He was a French Canadian from Boucherville, Quebec, born in 1811 or so, and he spent his entire career in the New Caledonia -- probably mostly at Fort St. James. He retired in 1854 and Donald Manson's son, William, tried to convince him to return to Fort St. James but he refused. He died in summer 1856.

Pierre LeFevre (Beaulac) was a French Canadian, born 1824, and a middleman in New Caledonia and at Kamloops from 1842 to 1848 -- the same time that Anderson was at Fort Alexandria. At times LeFevre served as an officer's servant. I presume he returned to Quebec when his contact was finished as there is nothing else here; but I think the HBC Biographic sheet must have said he retired in 1845 so this might not be the right man.

"Lambert" is Felix Lambert, born in St. Aimee, Quebec, about 1824. He is French Canadian, and was middleman at Fort Alexandria 1843-1845. His employment than took him down to Fort Vancouver and Fort Umpqua, and he retired in 1849. He probably died in the Pacific Northwest, as he took a land claim on the prairie near St. Louis.

Jacques Muriscott/Mariscatte/Mariscat might be a son of Joseph Morisette, who was a French Canadian born in 1824 or thereabouts and posted in New Caledonia in 1823-1825. In Anderson's journals he might well be a Native or part Native man, and so I think this is likely. I might stumble on him somewhere else...

Jean Baptiste Trudelle was a French Canadian man born about 1810 in Montreal area. He was a middleman in New Caledonia between 1840 and 1844, and was also a blacksmith. He returned to Quebec in 1844 and so disappears from the Fort Alexandria fur trade.

Thirouac turns out to be Damase Thirouac, born about 1819 in L'Islet, Quebec and a middleman, carpenter, and miller at Fort Alexandria from 1842 to 1845, when he returned to Quebec.

The man that Alexander Anderson called Wentrel appears to be William Wentzel, born 1819 in the Athabasca District and a man of mixed descent. He was a labourer at Fort Vancouver in 1842; at Fort Alexandria 1843 to 1846; at Fort Nez Perce in 1846 to 1848; and in the Snake Country to 1850. In the spring of 1847 he accompanied Thomas Lowe (who is also in my family tree as brother in law of Alexander Caulfield Anderson) on the HBC express, and he retired in 1852.

I think I have written about Marineau, who has several possible identities and no descendants at all as far as I can see.
I am still looking for the following men in Bruce Watson's book, and as they have various names I might have to post their biographies later -- if I find them at all:
Michel Cola;
Michel and Camille Lonctane
Ignace Kananhurat[?] or Yarintrimarat[?]
"Quebec" -- I have no other name than that but I might find him, somewhere
Rene Talanalong, or Old Rene
Olivier Laferte dit Theroux, a French Canadian
Thomas was probably a Native man.

It is not an easy task to identify all of these men, and those of you who have to search for your ancestors in the fur trade records have a difficult task ahead of you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Important Notice to Potato Rescuers!

This is a note to all the potato rescuers/researchers I have been talking to in the last little while:
Will the potato rescuer/grower in the Cariboo please ensure that Richard Hebda, who knows about your potatoes, is at the Museum to talk to you when you come down to Victoria; I hope I can also be a part of this.
And will the potato rescuer/researcher on the lower Fraser River, who I just talked to in the archives the other day, please ensure that samples of your finger potatoes reach the researchers in the Museum -- either Grant Keddie (who will be away) or Richard Hebda. Both of these potato researchers are very interested in learning more about your "finger" potatoes.
Richard Hebda is the man who will be more available over the spring and early summer, and his email address is
And for every one else, you will now understand part of the reason behind all this potato research and blogging!
You may not know the full story right now (it is not mine to tell), but hopefully you will find out eventually.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I now have a public Facebook page on which I will sometimes post articles.
You can find it at or, while on Facebook, search for Nancy Marguerite Anderson.
If you are a member of Facebook and want to "like" this page, please find the Link above.

An Index of stories on this Blog

This blog contains a lot of information, some of which might be of interest to fur trade researchers.
However, some of this information was place on the blog a long time ago, and new followers who might want to know more will have some trouble finding the old information.
So here is an index of some of the more important articles, written up to three years ago, that appear on this blog:

Saturday, June 6, 2009, First posting
Saturday, June 13, 2009, Trade Blotter
Saturday, June 13, 2009, Anderson's Tree
Sunday, June 21, 2009, The early fur-traders' Carp
Thursday, July 16, 2009, The Anderson-Seton family
Saturday, July 18, 2009, Elton Alexander Anderson, 1907-1975 (to whom my book is dedicated)
Sunday, July 19, 2009, The HBCo. brigade trails in British Columbia
Wednesday, July 22, 2009, General Sir James Outram, A.C. Anderson's heroic cousin
Saturday, July 25, 2009, Rhododendron Flats and the California Rhododendron
(actual title: Following Alexander Caulfield Anderson around British Columbia, part 2)

Sunday, August 9, 2009, Native Bridges in the Fraser Canyon
Sunday, August 9, 2009, Salish Wool Dogs (actual title: Following Anderson around British Columbia, part 5)
Sunday, August 9, 2009, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Seton
Saturday, August 29, 2009, A short chronology of the fur trade in the New Caledonia district
Sunday, August 30, 2009, Sam Black
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, The Collins Telegraph Trail
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, Constable Henry Anderson, B.C. Police
Monday, November 23, 2009, Betsy Birnie, wife of Alexander Caulfield Anderson
Saturday, November 28, 2009, John McIntosh, HBC
Sunday, December 6, 2009, The Smell of Furs
Sunday, December 13, 2009, Anderson's Reindeer, the Caribou
Sunday, December 27, 2009, Christmas in a fur trade fort

Sunday, December 27, 2009, Joseph Louis Rondeau, NWC and HBC
Sunday, January 3, 2010, Robert Birnie
Sunday, February 7, 2010, Flintlock Guns and Percussion Guns
Saturday, April 3, 2010, [Botanist] David Douglas in New Caledonia
Saturday, April 3, 2010, Shoes in the Fur Trade
Sunday, May 9, 2010, John Stuart and Alexander Caulfield Anderson
Sunday, May 16, 2010, Alexander Caulfield Anderson and James Birnie

Sunday, May 30, 2010, French-Canadians in Anderson's New Caledonia.
It was this blog posting which almost turned the blog from a history blog into a genealogical one, as many descendants of these men hit on this page. It was written before Bruce McIntyre Watson's book, Lives Lived, was published. I should actually re-write this blog posting with the new information contained in that book, so that the information is corrected.

Sunday, June 6, 2010, Pere John Nobili, James Birnie, and Alexander Anderson
Monday, June 14, 2010, Time and the Fur Trade in British Columbia (obviously I have forgotten I had written this in an earlier post, see: August 29, 2009 posting)
Sunday, July 4, 2010, The Okanagan chief, Tsilaxitsa
Sunday, July 4, 2010, The Similkameen chief, Blackeye
Thursday, July 8, 2010, Jean Baptiste Vautrin, as he appears in the Fort Alexandria journals
Sunday, July 11, 2010, Jean Baptiste Lolo's descendants at Fort Alexandria
Sunday, August 8, 2010, Selixt-asposem
Sunday, August 8, 2010, The Fur-traders' Great Okanagan Lake
Sunday, August 22, 2010, Alexander's sister, Margaret Anderson [Margaret Tappan]
Wednesday, August 25, 2010, Joseph Allard, Fort Alexandria employee

At this point the blog has become recognized as a genealogical blog -- which is fine with me. However,  though I know a lot about my massive family tree I do not consider myself a genealogist, and would rather know the stories about the persons in my tree, or in the fur trade that Anderson worked in, than continually add names and know nothing of the people.
I also know that people who research their ancestors in the various fur trade records have to do a lot of reading to sort out tiny bits of information from those records, and I am happy to help. I learn a lot about those people from their descendants, and will be in touch with a number of my contacts for this next book, which I have begun researching.

Monday, September 6, 2010, Lolo, or Leolo, of Thompson's River post
Sunday, September 12, 2010, Eliza Charlotte Anderson [later of Fielding, New Zealand]
Sunday, September 12, 2010, The "Eliza Anderson" [ship]
Sunday, September 12, 2010, James R. Beattie [later of Fielding, New Zealand]
Friday, October 29, 2010, A short history of Fort Okanogan
Monday, November 8, 2010, Grande Coulee
Saturday, December 18, 2010, Christmas in the Fur Trade
Monday, December 27, 2010, Chief Nkwala and his extended family
Tuesday, Decemder 28, 2010, Pelka'mulox and Nkwala

Saturday, January 8, 2011, The Sasquatch story
Sunday, February 6, 2011, David Thompson and the Sasquatch
Sunday, February 13, 2011, David Thompson's men
Monday, February 21, 2100, The Search for Beaulieu
Thursday, February 24, 2011, Some resources for locating North West Company employees
Saturday, March 5, 2011, Joseph Rondeau and Josephine Beaulieu (see also: December 27, 2009, posting)
Sunday, March 20, 2100, The early French fur trade
At this point in time I have posted quite a few items re: research into the early fur trade of the North West Company and my search [so far unsuccessful] for Beaulieu. If you are interested in French Canadian genealogy you might want to peruse this section of my blog, and add resources I have not listed if you know of more.

Sunday, July 24, 2100, "Marineau" at Fort Alexandria
Sunday, August 14, 2011, Potatoes at Fort Alexandria
Saturday, September 3, 2011, Section A of the Hudson's Bay Company records
Sunday, September 4, 2011, Jacob Ballenden
Sunday, September 11, 2011, Alexander Caulfield Anderson at Fort Colvile
Sunday, September 11, 2011, Fort Colvile men, 1848-1852
Saturday, September 24, 2011, More Fort Colvile men, 1848-1852
Sunday, October 2, 2011, Native Potatoes and other Native foods

Sunday, October 9, 2011, Fort Colvile
Sunday, October 23, 2011, Important Announcement for Leonard/Lenniard descendants
Saturday, November 12, 2011, Governor George Simpson's son, George Stewart Simpson
Sunday, November 13, 2011, More on George Simpson, the Governor's son
Saturday, November 19, 2011, Heritage House author's Celebration
Saturday, November 26, 2011, First Speech, Victoria Historical Society
Saturday, December 3, 2011, Blackeye the Similkameen

Monday, December 12, 2011, Native fishermen at Fort Colvile
Friday, December 16, 2011, Angus McDonald
Sunday, December 18, 2011, A little more on the Stuwi'x people of the Nicola Valley
Saturday, January 28, 2012, The Speech at Hope, British Columbia
Saturday, February 4, 2012, "Killing Fish by Explosion"
Sunday, February 12, 2012, Alexander Caulfield Anderson's maps
Saturday, February 18, 2012, The Salmon in  the fur trader's New Caledonia

I have not been able to consistently keeping posting blogs every week for the last year, and I think this trend will continue.
I still have lots to say, and lots of images to show -- but blog postings can take a long time to write, and they are cutting into other work that I have to do.
I have two speeches to write and one to put onto power-point [not a difficult task any longer].
I have an article to write for the Okanagan Historical Journal and hope to get that done, and it means entirely new research.
I also have to plan future power point talks for next year, and find new subjects to speak of.
I think that for some people a talk on the Native fisheries might be interesting and certainly Anderson wrote enough about that subject -- illustrating the power point talk might be a problem, though.
If any of you have other subjects that might be of interest to you, as a historian or member of a historical group, please let me know.
I will try to post often enough to keep you interested, but I do have work to do.
Thank you to my loyal followers, many of whom have contacted me to scold me for my lack of romanticism, to give me new information on persons I have mentioned, to tell me about adventures and discoveries they have made that led to the potato posts, in particular, and that will lead to new posts in the future [I owe you some pictures and will get them to you].
Thank you for the people who have helped me discover more about Blackeye, the Similkameen, and I appreciate any additional help I can get on this interesting Native chief, as he and his son will be major characters in my next planned book.
As will the fabulous Tsilaxitsa, one of my favorite characters in the current book.
We will keep in touch.

Upcoming Events

Good morning, everyone.
I have a few more events to tell you about -- some of which are occurring locally (in Victoria, I mean).

Attention: Victoria and Saanich residents!

First: I will be leading a walking tour of ST. STEPHENS CHURCHYARD, South Saanich Cemetery, for the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria, and the talk is already advertised on their website.

"[Sunday] April 1st. St. Stephen's Churchyard. this picturesque country churchyard is the final resting place for many pioneer families of the area, including A. C. Anderson of the Hudson's Bay Company.
His great-granddaughter, Nancy Anderson, author of The Pathfinder, leads today's tour to her ancestor's grave and those of many of his interesting contemporaries.
Meet at the Churchyard, 7921 St. Stephen's Rd., off Mt. Newton Cross Rd, in Central Saanich."

Warning! Plot out your route. I get lost, mostly because I forget that the main road the church is close to is Mount Newton Cross Road, and I usually end up way out at the end of the peninsula and have to turn back.

I will be arranging that the little church is left open and we can explore this beautiful building and hopefully speak a little about its history, too.
The tour will start at 2:00, and it will be put on rain or shine; it is expected the tour will last about an hour.
There's a charge for this group -- $2.00 for members and $5.00 for non-members, and tours are held regardless of weather.
If it is raining, you will find my sister and me under striped-blanket Hudson's Bay umbrellas -- I think that's appropriate.

There are quite a few of my family members buried in this churchyard, other than Alexander Caulfield Anderson and his wife, Betsy (Eliza) Birnie.
At last I will be able to tell people the stories I have about her -- and, believe me, there are not many at all.
There are no photographs of her either, but I can give you a good idea of what she looked like when I show you images of her mother, and of her eldest daughter in her old age.
When you see these pictures, you will understand -- absolutely -- what Betsy would have looked like both as a young woman, and when she was older.
I sometimes look at the Saanich photographs in the B.C. Archives to see if I can find her image amongst those of other earlier settlers.
I know exactly what she looked like; I would be able to identify her if I found her, but so far I have not discovered her amongst the images of early settlers.

So with A.C. Anderson and his wife buried in the churchyard, that is two members of my family.
One of Anderson's sons (the most interesting of the lot, I think) is also buried here with his wife and daughter.
One of my aunts is buried in the same grave -- a sad story indeed.
To tell her story, I will probably have to tell my grandfather's story as far as I know it.
And two other family members -- descendants of Agnes, A.C.'s daughter and older sister to my grand-father -- are buried to the east, in a newer section of the graveyard.
So, eight members of my family are buried in that cemetery!

Other than A.C. Anderson, only a few furtraders are buried in the South Saanich cemetery (so far I have found one only).
So after I finish with the Anderson family, I will speak of him, and about other early settlers who Anderson would have known.
I don't know how many I will be able to cover, but whatever information I dig up and do not have time to relate I will post on this website for anyone who wants to read about these early settlers.
Oh, and my maternal great-grandfather was South Saanich Church's so-called "Father Christmas;" I wonder what I can safely say about him?
That should pique your interest!

I will have books for sale at this event, as at the event that follows.
This time I will ensure I will bring plenty!

Attention: all Vancouver people!

My second upcoming talk will be in front of the BURNABY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, and it will be a power point presentation.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday evening, May 9th, at 7:30pm., in the Carousel Pavillion at Burnaby Village Museum, 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby.
(Further instructions tell me that the Carousel Pavillion is located across from the Shadbolt, away from the main entrance.)
Many years ago (in the 1960's) I worked one summer in the Burnaby Village Museum, dressing up in Edwardian-style clothing (long brown skirt and puffy blouse, with hair wrapped around a "rat") and standing behind the counter in the general store.
I remember the rusty old egg-beaters and butter churns on display; little did the managers of the place know that I had grown up with those old-fashioned implements, and my mother shopped in a general store that was little different than that Edwardian-period replica.
I think I might just come over early to enjoy a tour of the place.

It has been suggested that I speak for about three-quarters of an hour.
As Burnaby didn't exist at that time, this will not be a local history talk, but a story of Alexander Caulfield Anderson's explorations in 1846 and 1847, and the difficult years that followed.
I have a few stories that are not in the book that I think some people might enjoy.
I hope to see you there.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Potatoes, again

For the young woman I met in the archives today, here is a listing of the blog postings re: Potatoes, both Native and imported
Sunday, August 14th, 2011 -- Potatoes at Fort Alexandria
Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 -- Indian Potatoes and other Native foods
I have a little more information to add to this potato-project which I will post sometime in the near future.
It might be a perfect project for this weekend -- after all, my great great grandfather James Birnie was the man who planted the first potatoes at Fort Colvile.