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British Columbia history that informs readers while entertaining them.


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150th Anniversary of Leech River Gold Rush

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Articles | 9 comments

In July 2014, the Sooke Region Museum marked this epic anniversary of the discovery of gold in Vancouver Island’s Leech River. As did, the previous weekend, the Vancouver Island Placer Mining Association. It wasn’t a great gold rush so far as gold rushes go, certainly not on the scale of those of Australia, California or the Klondike. Not even, for that matter, others, before and after, here in British Columbia: the Fraser River and Cariboo, the Kootenays, the Big...

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Dr. Frances Kelsey grew up in the Cowichan Valley

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

If you don’t recognize Frank Trevor Oldham or his wife Katherine Booth Oldham, perhaps you know of their illustrious daughter, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, who just celebrated her 100th birthday. The senior Oldhams take their rest in the little cemetery of St. John the Baptist, Cobble Hill, where Frances was born, July 24, 1914. A few miles away, at neighbouring Mill Bay, Frances Kelsey Secondary School takes its name from this locally born scientist who, as director of scientific...

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For Rent: Craigflower, the oldest school in British Columbia

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Articles | 8 comments

The province, having given up on Craigflower School, ca 1854, as a pay-its-own-way museum, has stripped it of its historical furniture and artifacts and is making it available for lease as an office building or the like. A request for proposals has gone out to find an organization interested in utilizing the two-storey ‘Georgian Revival’ structure built beside the Gorge waterway by the Hudson’s Bay Company for the children of their employees at nearby Craigflower Farm: “Successful proponents will...

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The facts and nothing but the facts

Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in Articles | 2 comments

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story! I was reminded of this alleged quote by Farley Mowat when a lady suggested that, perhaps, I should change my initials to B.S. Paterson. She was joking, of course. Wasn’t she? She came to mind when a friend e-mailed to ask about the shooting of Joe Dougan at Cobble Hill in 1890. After he told me what he knew of the tragedy, I had to inform him...

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Coal Baron Robert Dunsmuir Inspired Historians and Mapmakers

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Articles | 8 comments

Robert Dunsmuir vs. Sir James Douglas: If Douglas–fur trader, colonial governor and statesman –was ‘the father of British Columbia’ and our greatest public figure, Dunsmuir must surely rank as his peer in the private sector. Not in terms of ‘greatness’ as most would measure it, perhaps, but in terms of status and influence. He built an industrial empire and founded a dynasty. In his day, he was the province’s Morgan, Rockefeller, Getty and Trump rolled into one. So who,...

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My Victoria Childhood: the good old days!

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Articles | 27 comments

Victoria sure has changed. Since Woodward’s went under, Mayfair Mall operates under the Hudson’s Bay Co. banner. The landmark Vancouver store has been converted to affordable housing, and the famous rooftop neon sign  flashes again after a decade of disuse. When T. Eaton Co., long an anchor of downtown Victoria, also folded, Sears took it over. Now Sears is ‘The Bay,’ whose own heritage building has been transmogrified under new ownership. All very confusing, but these events set me...

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The Great Chocolate Bar ‘War’

Posted by on Jul 5, 2014 in Articles | 2 comments

Would you believe that a handful of teenagers once took on the largest candy makers in the land? They did, you know, during the Great Chocolate War of the 1940s? They made international news, if only briefly, but the memory of their rebellion lives on… It can be satisfying, sort of, to know that some things never change. You know, ried and true stalwarts such as inflation Why, (I’m giving away my age) I can remember when a bottle...

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