In the early 90's I received a Canada Council Explorations Grant to gather stories of the settlers who came to the BC coast in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. I interviewed men and women who grew up in remote logging camps and up isolated inlets. I also went digging in the archives of the Museum at Campbell River as well as the Courtenay & District Museum. From my research and oral history interviews I put together a repertoire of stories about the early days on the Discovery Islands and in the communities of Vancouver Island.
Some of those stories are:
"The Great Merville Fire" - In 1922, after several years of back-breaking work, the soldier-settlers were beginning to see the results of their efforts to create thriving farms. A stray spark at a logging camp, however, turned into a forest fire that swept through the community and destroyed many homes and farms.
"The Wreck of the Northwestern" - In December, 1927 an American steamer bound for Alaska went aground off Quadra Island. When the captain gave orders to unload all the Christmas cargo into the sea, island residents came down to the beach to collect the bounty.
"The Ghost of Anna Duncan" - In the 1880's Eric Duncan followed his uncles out from the Shetland Islands to become a farmer in the Comox Valley. He married a young Swedish woman named Anna Ask. Their love endured beyond the grave.
"Queenie in the Mine" - At the age of 14, a young boy named Jim began working in the coal mines of Cumberland. The miners told him to stay clear of a stubborn old mule named Queenie. Instead, Jim made friends with her.
"One June Day" - In June of 1946, an earthquake shook central Vancouver Island. With a registered magnitude of 7.3, it caused a fair amount of damage. This story follows the adventures of several people on that Sunday morning.