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British Columbia history that informs readers while entertaining them.

Cranbrook’s Great Elephant Hunt of 1926

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Articles, Sliders | 5 comments

From far and wide they came, that hot summer of 1926. Expectant children and nostalgic adults, by car, train and wagon, they poured into Cranbrook for that greatest of occasions, Circus Day. But the colossal extravaganza that Sells-Floto Circus inadvertently staged was to make history and completely overshadow any of the acts it had headlined beneath its big-top. Those British Columbians who were there long remembered with affection and a smile that riotous time when seven grey monsters terrorized a countryside–the Great Elephant Hunt. For most of its western tour, Sells-Floto had been troubled by its 14 pachyderms. The nervous giants had created disturbances at Edmonton and Calgary, but it was the high altitude and smoke from forest fires–some maintain a barking dog was to blame–that triggered the stampede at Cranbrook when they were being unloaded from their boxcars....

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Idyllic Protection Island belies a violent past

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Articles, Sliders | 20 comments

Its Gallows Point (originally Execution Point) takes its name from the fact that two native murderers were hanged there in 1853. Sixty years later, just offshore in the same immediate area, the ill-fated dynamite carrier S.S. Oscar ruptured her innards in an explosion that damaged much of downtown Nanaimo. Miraculously, there was neither loss of life nor serious injury. And it was at Gallows Point, near today’s lighthouse museum, that the New Vancouver Coal Co. (later the Western Fuel Co.) had its Protection Island shaft, 1890-1938. Linked underground (and underwater) to the No. 1 Esplanade Mine and an airshaft on neighbouring Newcastle Island, its miners could hear steamships as they passed overhead. Miners could tell the time by ships passing overhead Years ago, one of them told me that it was just like in the movies, when a destroyer passed over a hiding U-boat, its churning propellers chilling the...

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Molly Justice – Murder

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Articles, Sliders | 18 comments

‘In ever loving memory of Molly Justice, January 18, 1943.’ Friday, January 18, 2013 marked the 70th anniversary of Molly’s murder beside a Saanich railway track. To mark the occasion my friend Jennifer and I placed a wreath and a card on a tree within feet of what I believe to be the murder scene, just north of where Darwin Road crosses the old CNR line (today’s popular Galloping Goose Trail). I grew up with Molly Justice’s slaying although it happened before I was born. But she was part of my family lore. How many times had I heard mention of her by my parents, aunts and uncles, how many times had I walked, wide-eyed, past the very spot where she bled to death, how many times had I begged for the gory details? But I’d had to wait until I...

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