See Spectacular Desolation Sound on a Historic Boat tour with the Museum at Campbell River

Spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife are what most people think of when they hear the name Desolation Sound.  On the Historic Boat Cruise to Desolation Sound with the Mus2009-01-01 04.18.31eum at Campbell River and Discovery Marine Safaris you will encounter all of that, and also have the opportunity to delve into the region’s rich history.

The boat tour leaves Campbell River, cruises past Quadra Island and its iconic lighthouse built in 1898.  Guests will then have the opportunity to view Mitlenatch Island, a wildlife sanctuary that houses the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia.  It is not unusual in this area to see not only birds, but other wildlife such as sea lions and seals.

Soon you’ll be passing Hernando Island, a private island with beautiful sandy beaches, as well as the Twin Islands, which were at one time owned by German royalty. LundHotelBW

Just north of Powell River is the community of Lund.  The trip stops here at the historic Lund Hotel.  Established by the Thulin Brothers in the 1890s, who would then go on to open the Willows Hotel in Campbell River, this hotel has been renovated and provides the ideal stop for lunch.

After lunch the tour heads towards Teakerne Arm and Lewis Channel.  Teakerne Arm is known for the stunning Cassel Falls that is located within Teakerne Arm Provincial Park.  This park is located on West Redonda Island.

After passing through the 2009-01-01 05.10.06north end of Lewis Channel, you will start to return towards Campbell River, passing between Read and Cortes Islands.

Tour the Thurlow Islands with the Museum

One of the boat tours being offered this season is a tour of the Thurlows, with a lunch stop at Blind Channel Resort.  The Thurlow Islands consist of two islands, East Thurlow and West Thurlow.  They owe their early development to logging, mining and fishing.  Logging began on East Thurlow as the stands of timber in the lower mainland were being used up. Companies like Hastings Mill out of Langley, BC were searching for areas to expand into.  As early as 1880, Hastings Mill made Bickley Bay on East Thurlow Island their regional headquarters.  Further development was curtailed, however, when gold was discovered in nearby Shoal Bay, also on East Thurlow.

In 1884, the first stake was claimed and by 1890, the gold rush was on.  This attracted a large number of prospectors and development.  By 1897, there were two stores and two hotels.  That same year Shoal Bay became incorporated as a town and the Union Steamships were stopping by four times a weekThe plans for a township never developed however, DSCN7920and today, all that remains at Shoal Bay is a privately owned lodge and seasonal residences.  Even the famous store pictured here had to be dismantled in 2008.

The government dock is still in good shape and today, pleasure boaters have replaced the working population and the Union Steamships which both left the area in the late 1950s.

The two Thurlows are separated by Mayne Passage, and West Thurlow lies to the northwest. On the south side of the island, location of present day Blind Channel Resort, a sawmill was built in 1910, then by 1918 it disappeared and was replaced by a cannery.

In ’Guide to Blind Channel’, Phil Richter says: “The visitor to the area today, might find it difficult to imagine the activity which existed here within less than onDSCN7938e lifetime.”  He goes on to say that the area attracted people looking for opportunity and an independent way of life.  An independent way of life was what attracted the Richter family to Blind Channel in 1969, and by 1970, they had sold their home in Vancouver and purchased the property and existing store there.  The family consisted of parents Edgar and Annemarie, sons Philip, Alfred and Robert and grandparents William and Therese.  They developed the location into a thriving resort, complete with a first class dining room, general store with a liquor licence and post office; washroom and laundry facilities, and mooring and fuel for boats.

Travellers to the area quickly discover the excellent homemade bread sold in the store and admire the unique artwork created by Annemarie Richter that is comprised of items she collected on local beaches; bits of crockery, jewellery and seashells.

For the tours of the Discovery Islands, the Museum partners with Discovery Marine Safaris, a local wildlife tour operator.  Passengers are taken out on comfortable, heated aluminum boats equipped with toilets.  The four to five hour trips also include a lunch at Blind Channel Resort’s Cedar Post Restaurant.  The restaurant is known for using fresh local ingredients to create delicious meals for their guests.

“For the most on the coast, shop at Del’s”

by Erika Anderson, Museum at Campbell River

Before the proliferation of modern fast food restaurants with their “drive-through” came the more social and certainly less rushed version, the “drive-in” restaurant.  An automobile culture was emerging across North America.   At drive-ins, carhops would clip trays on to the car windows and patrons would enjoy their meal in the comfort of their own vehicles.  The drive-in was the place to be.  The first drive-in restaurant opened in 1921 in Dallas, Texas, although it would take time before the idea became wide spread.  In 1951 the concept arrived in Campbell River with the opening of Del’s Drive-In.

Del’s Drive-In

Del’s offered the complete drive-in experience, including carhops in go-go boots and green and white uniforms.  It quickly became a meeting place where teens would come every night with their music blaring.  Del and Betty Pelletier began the restaurant, and then after leasing it to others sold it to Del’s brother and sister-in-law Ernie and Joyce Pelletier in 1960.  “Every weekend in the summer it would be busy busy.  All the kids would come, and they would even have little dances out in the parking lot.  They would get all of their radios going and it was a fun place to be,” recalls Joyce.

When Ernie and Joyce bought the restaurant they were only 28 and 25 years old respectively, and had 2 young girls.  Over the next few years their family grew to 4 kids with the arrival of 2 boys.  “When we first got started if someone had come in with a $50 bill we couldn’t have changed it.  It was scary, I would go home at night and wonder if we were going to make it through another day, and we did.  We hit it off really good with the kids that patronized us.  They would be sitting out on the hoods of their cars and we would be sitting inside talking to them through the window.  Then we would say ‘let’s close up early and go to the dance!’  We would close up at 11 instead of 12, take off and party until 2 in the morning and then be back at it at 9 the next morning, 7 days a week.  It was a very demanding job, but it was fun, we had a lot of really good help.”  Ernie and Joyce’s daughter Yvonne remembers her and her sister helping out with the family business.  “One of the things I remember when sis and I were young , about 5 and 7, we would go down and help out at the restaurant.  There was a big machine that was a potato peeler would scrub potatoes and get peels off, then we would put each potato in the chipper that would make the chips. Everything was fresh. We would also make the hamburger patties. The hamburger was from the butcher in Black Creek. It came in the brown butcher paper. It was defrosted overnight and it would still be partially frozen in the morning and we would freeze our little hands mixing the ingredients in. Then we would use an ice cream scooper and scoop them into hamburger press and put them on cookie sheets in the fridge. It was one of our chores – helping out in the restaurant.  We would also help mom cook the pies and pastries.  We would make cherry, raisin and apple pies.  We would make 20 to 30 pies at a time.  When we got older we would waitress at the shop and help out that way.”  The kids helped with all sorts of jobs, such as prep work and sweeping the lot in the morning.

Joyce remembers clearly one Canada Day early on in in her career as a restauranteur. “The July 1st parade used to come right past our place.  We were there at 7:30 or 8 in the morning chipping chips and blanching and getting ready.  Then everybody came at one time.  They were all saying “Where’s my order! Where’s my order!”  My husband at the time was the cook and I was the waitress. I kept saying “It’s coming! It’s coming!” Finally I was so frustrated I took off my apron and said “I quit” and I went and sat on the curb out the back door.  Next thing I know my husband came and joined me.  So we were sitting out there thinking what do we do now?  We finally got it all under control and everyone got their orders, but there were so many people at one time.  In later years we coordinated it a little better.”

Campbell River local Dave Tabish reminisces about his times cruising Del’s:  “Getting a driver’s license and your first car was a big deal, you had a license 12 hours after you turned 16 and cars were a big part of our lives at that time. Driving around town was a big event, you would cruise through the plaza and go see who was there to talk to, and then drive by Del’s to see who was there.  You always cruised past Del’s.”

Del’s was loved not only by local residents, but also by many of their employees who have fond memories of their times there.  In an article in the Courier-Islander from 1997, Melissa Hudson, nee Skwarchuk, reminisces about working at Del’s.  “It’s like once it gets in your blood you can’t stay away.  I don’t think I have one bad memory of that place and you can’t say that of many jobs.”

Lana, Joyce and Yvonne Pelletier posing with a photo of the Del’s sign

Although not currently on display, the Museum has in it’s collection the orange and blue neon sign, featuring an ice cream cone and the words “Del’s Burgers”.  This sign had replaced an earlier, less ornate sign that read “Del’s Drive-In”.  Recently a photograph of the Del’s Drive-In sign was enlarged so that graduates of Carihi High’s class of 1975 could have their photo taken with it.  According to Dave Tabish for the class of ’75, Del’s was a gathering place where kids would go for lunch or meet up after school.

When asked what made Del’s unique, Joyce notes “We had the best burger I have ever had.  Never had another one to compete with it.”

It Was a Haig-Brown Sort of a Weekend!

There were two significant Haig-Brown events this past weekend – one at the Museum at Campbell River and the other at the Haig-Brown Heritage House site.

On September 29, the Museum hosted its annual Haig-Brown lecture with special guest lecturers being all four Haig-Browns themselves – Valerie, Alan, Mary and Celia.  Their talk entitled ‘What We Learned’ was delivered to an audience of over 80 people and marked an unusual occurrence – that is, all four Haig-Browns being together in one place at one time.  Many former friends and acquaintances of the Haig-Browns who attended the lecture had an opportunity to reminisce with them about their fond memories of the family.

Sunday proved to be an equally good day, with high attendance at the Haig-Brown Festival, held every year on World River s Day at the Haig-Brown property.  The Haig-Brown family was there too, and one of the highlights of their weekend was having a portrait painted of their father Roderick by local artist Dan Berkshire, pictured at right, painting in plein air to an appreciative group of onlookers.

Great music was delivered by the Bentwood Boyz (at left) and later by the youthful group Who is Barbosa.  Laverne Henderson, who opened the festival, moved the crowd with her powerful rendition of ‘Oh Canada’ sung in the Kwakwaka’wakw language.

Laverne Henderson


It is hoped that Cynthia Bendickson, who took over organizing the festival this year will return to do so once again.  She was clearly up to the challenge of taking over the reins from Terry Hale, who as festival organizer for several years always did an excellent job.

Cynthia with husband Chris Osborne

Festival Features Talented First Nations musicians

The Haig-Brown Festival has been attracting some excellent local talent in the last few years, and this year is no exception.  Duane J. Hanson, a member of Campbell River’s First Nations Homalco band, will be appearing again this year with the Bentwood Boyz, a group of musicians also composed of local Aboriginal artists.

Like last year, they plan to play a mix of blues and country tunes and Hanson is in favour of playing acoustically.  For this appearance, he will play the bass guitar, but he usually plays drums.  “I’ve been playing since I was six years old,” he said, “I grew up in a musical family and learned from my dad and my uncle.  I was already performing in public by the time I was 10.”

When asked what drew him to the Festival, Hanson said that while working with MISA in Campbell River last year on a project involving Aboriginal youth and art, he got to know Ken Blackburn at the Campbell River Arts Council.  When Blackburn (who also coordinates the Haig-Brown Festival) found out that Hanson was a musician, he asked him if he would be interested in providing the festival’s musical entertainment.

“I went to the property to get a feel for the location,” Hanson said.  “I liked the fact that it was right by the river.  Historically, everything in Campbell River started with the river.  I think the Haig-Brown Festival is a really good festival because it tries to create an awareness about our impact on the environment.”

“I don’t think there is a First Nations group that would disagree about the importance of preserving the environment, and right now, there is a concern that commercial interests are going to overwhelm the small communities that are being offered dollars in exchange for compromising their surroundings.”

Hanson has a degree in social and economic studies and works for the John Howard Society as First Nations Relations Advisor.  His recent experience with the Society has given him the opportunity to look from the outside, in.  He has also been an elected chief, and he is well acquainted with the frustration experienced on both sides.

“I have an ‘over the hedge’ philosophy,” he says, “I think Aboriginal peoples are in a position to take the best from both worlds and to empower each other.”

Duane playing with Darren Harry at the 2011 festival

This philosophy has worked well for Hanson musically, and he is ready to move forward with recording original songs.  He has been very busy this summer playing in the Vancouver area mostly for weddings and family reunions.  There, he says, the demand is usually for rock music.  As a writer of songs however, he leans more towards blues/rock.

He would like to see other First Nations musicians on the West Coast break away from what is classified as Aboriginal music and create something new, and he wants to help the Bentwood Boyz take the next steps towards doing that and creating a following.

This summer audiences enjoyed their music at Spirit Square, and they are booked to play at the Quinsam Hotel in November.  On Sunday, September 30, you can have the pleasure of hearing them play live on the grounds of the Haig-Brown house.  The festival is free and runs from noon to 4:00pm.

While you are there, don’t forget to look for this year’s commemorative fly, Haig-Brown’s ‘Coho Blue’.  A boxed ‘Coho Blue’ has been donated by Tony Pinder and will be available for auction at the Festival.

By Catherine Gilbert

Tribute to Van Egan at 2010 Haig-Brown Festival

The dual passions of well known author and early environmentalist Roderick Haig-Brown, fly fishing and conservation, are being celebrated at the 9th annual Haig-Brown Festival.  Again the festival coincides with World Rivers Day and is held on Sunday, September 26, from noon to 4pm.  Admission is free, with activities for all ages, good food, music, great displays, tours and more.

The City of Campbell River will again present Stewardship Awards at 1pm to any individuals, groups or businesses who have made an impact in an area of conservation like pesticide and waste reduction, energy and water conservation, habitat awareness or air quality protection.

This year, the festival will commemorate the life of Lavant Gorman Egan (better known as ‘Van’) who recently passed away in July.  Pictured here are Valerie and Ann Haig-Brown with Van Egan.  Egan was a friend and neighbour of Haig-Brown and a fellow fly fishing enthusiast, and he was a biology teacher at Carihi, a Campbell River high school.  Among his accomplishments, he wrote and taught Canada’s first oceanography course, and authored several books including The Tyee Club of British Columbia, Waterside Reflections, Rivers on My Mind, Rivers of Return, and River of Salt. In his most recent book, Shadows of the Western Angler, Egan wrote a wonderful story about the ‘Silver Lady’.  This special fly is now the 2010 Haig-Brown Festival Commemorative Fly, and you will be able to bid on it at the festival’s silent auction.

The Haig-Brown Heritage Site is located at 2250 Campbell River Road (on the Gold River Highway). For a list of this year’s participants, visit www.haig-brown.bc.ca.  For further information call the Museum at 250 287-3103.

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The Campbell River Museum maintains collections and archives from Campbell River’s wide and diverse history, culture and community.  For more information about your local Campbell River Museum, call 250-287-3103 or visit www.crmuseum.ca

Melissa March Exhibits at Haig-Brown Festival

Cutthroat Trout

Melissa March’s oil paintings of fish are as dramatic and arresting as they are beautiful.  Her love of fish and nature shines through her work, and as such, her paintings fit in very well with the other displays that will be at the Haig-Brown Festival this year.

Although she once received a Fine Arts scholarship after completing high school, Melissa chose to travel rather than attend a post secondary institution in pursuit of the study of art.  She is largely self taught as a painter, and has been drawing ever since she can remember.  She attributes her interest in painting to the influences of her family, who all participate in creative activities like carving and sewing.  They also contributed to her love of the outdoors.  In fact, it came as no surprise to her family, that fish would be her favourite subject to paint.  “They (fish) live in a mysterious world”, she says, “and unless you really look, you never know anything about it – it is a big part of the intrigue.”

Melissa in her studio

While exhibiting at ‘Art in Bloom’ at Kitty Coleman Woodlands in Courtenay, she was approached by Erin Nowack from Greenways Land Trust, who suggested that she participate in the Haig-Brown Festival.  Since coming to Campbell River from Vancouver three years ago, Melissa has found that the festival has become her favourite event to attend, and she feels honoured to be involved.  “It is a fitting venue for what I believe in”, she explains, referring to Festival’s celebration of the natural environment with love of fish and fishing.

The festival, taking place on Sunday, September 26 from noon to 4pm at the Haig-Brown Heritage Property also features Haig-Brown readings, fly casting and tying, river rafting, property tours, children’s crafts and games, music and more.  See the website http://www.crmuseum.ca/programs/Haig-BrownFestival.html for a complete list.

To see more of Melissa’s paintings, go to http://www.amudesigns.com/Welcome.html

When Waterways Were Our Highways

This summer, the Campbell River Museum is offering historic guided boat tours to the Discovery Islands, whose fascinating history has been the subject of such books as Tidal Passages by local historian Jeanette Taylor.  Long before Campbell River became a settlement, there were three thriving centres of importance in the islands area: Rock Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Shoal Bay on East Thurlow Island, (see map) and Thurston Bay on Sonora Island. Such was the importance of these settlements, that even before WW1, there was a telephone line connecting Rock Bay, Shoal Bay and Thurston Bay, several years before Campbell River had telephone service.

SS Cardena Union Steamship

In an era when waterways were the highways, and settlement was moving west from Vancouver, these centres had natural good harbours and the natural resources that expanding companies and settlers were looking for.  The easily accessible timber and mineral finds lured loggers and prospectors to the area, and after WW1, the government was granting 160 acre parcels of homesteading land  to entice settlers as well.  Soon afterward, the Union Steamships made their way up the coast from Vancouver and stopped at all the important settlements.

As early as 1880, logging operations like Hastings Saw Mill out of Langley, BC were looking to expand west of the mainland.  They first made Bickley Bay on East Thurlow Island their regional headquarters, then moved their operation to Rock Bay, on the east Vancouver Island, about 40km north of Campbell River.  In ‘Upcoast’ , Richard Rajala explains how “Rock Bay became the first upcoast site of mass production logging – tugboats moved logs from this site to Lower Mainland mills. [Rock Bay offered] accessibility, high-quality timber, efficient logging with oxen and horse teams.”

Horse and oxen were soon replaced with railroads starting about 1910.  These rail lines were never used to connect Rock Bay with other communities on the island however, and even today, the only way to get to Rock Bay by land is to follow a rough logging road from Highway 19.  At one period, Rock Bay had more loggers employed than at any other location on the coast, (about 1500).  A hospital was built there in 1904, further increasing its importance, but was closed in the early 1940’s when logging activity ceased.

Shoal Bay on nearby East Thurlow Island was a boom town in its own right, owing its growth to mineral finds.  The first stake was claimed 1884 and the gold rush followed in 1890. (Jeanette Taylor, Tidal Passages).

Old store at Shoal Bay, now torn down

This caused a great deal of excitement and drew large numbers of prospectors there.  By 1897, there were two stores and two hotels, and Shoal Bay was the distribution point for other mines in the area.  That same year Shoal Bay became incorporated as a town and the Union Steamships were stopping by four times a week.

The steamships were a vital link to people and supplies, in an era when it was rare for individuals to have their own motorized boat. When it was time to go to civilization, loggers with their paycheques and settlers would take the Union Steamship to Vancouver, enduring the 30 hour trip there and back.

Even as recently as the 1940’s, people in the islands used row boats for getting around in.  In fact, they rowed astonishing distances – from as far away as Cortes and Quadra Islands to reach destinations like Shoal Bay.  In ’Guide to Blind Channel’, Phil Richter tells us how a mother who lived at the Green Points settlement on the mainland would row from there to Blind Channel (on West Thurlow Island), a distance of about one mile, to get her children to school.   Len Crawford, who wrote ‘The Way It Was’,  remembers rowing as being the main means of getting around.  It could be dangerous, as most people didn’t wear life jackets—the only available style was too bulky.  Len himself never learned to swim, even though he spent his whole life on the water.  The water was too cold to enjoy, and as he says “the main thing was to stay out of the water.”

Thurston Bay

Thurston Bay on Sonora Island was unique from other coastal communities.  Instead of developing as a result of pioneering or exploitation of its natural resources, it was established in 1914 as a BC Forest Marine Service station and according to John Parminter, who for many years was editor of the Forest Marine Service newsletter, it was also a ship building centre for the Marine Service starting in 1917.    During its busy years, Thurston Bay had several boat building sheds, floats and bunkhouses and its own electricity, created by a Peltham wheel, and homes were built to house the families that came with the Forest Service Rangers, engineers and boat builders.  While rangers were out on patrol or fighting fires, their wives would man the station and keep up radio contact, and homeschool the children. As many families homesteaded in the area, eventually they had a school in Thurston Bay.  The community thrived until1941, and kept its status as a Ranger District until 1969, when that was transferred to Campbell River.

By the 1950’s, times were changing drastically in the islands.  The Union Steamship Company went out of business, and new provincial legislation meant that small logging concerns could no longer get forest licences. Schools were closing due to lack of enrolment and families moved to where the work and amenities were. The era of waterways as highways was over, giving way to recreational boating and floatplanes.

Catch a glimpse of a bygone era and imagine the coastal communities as the vital and thriving settlements they once were this summer.  Take a trip on Discovery Marine Safaris comfortable boats and learn about your desination from knowledgeable local guides.  Follow this link to the schedule.

Transformation of a Town

Transformation of a Town, the opening of Elk Falls Pulp and Paper Mill in 1952

For many residents of Campbell River, the closing of the Catalyst Pulp and Paper Mill this year marks an historic moment.  Symbolic of the changing times in Campbell River, it reminds us of how a village grew into a town due in large part to the influence of the mill and the large numbers of people it employed. It also reminds us of the excitement generated in this small western boom town when the Elk Falls Mill first opened for operations in 1952.

Duncan Bay in 1950, before construction of Mill

Described as ‘a milestone in the development of Campbell River’ the opening of the pulp mill was an influential factor in the new era of economic growth and job stability in a region that had already received a substantial boost when the John Hart Power Station was built.  At right is a photo of the opening ceremonies on September 15, 1952, attended by more than 500 people in the mill warehouse.

As many as 1,000 men worked on the twenty one million dollar mill project during peak construction times.  In ‘the Edge of Discovery’ we are told that “New investor money poured into the area as hotels, landlords, beer parlours and cafes did a landslide business.”

Premier W. A. C. Bennett said that the Duncan Bay development was ‘free enterprise at its best’.

The Campbell River Courier commemorated the opening of the mill with a special supplement.  Included were congratulations from the various local businesses that had benefited from the beginning of the construction of the facility and expected to reap the benefits of being part of a progressive, growing community.

“Advent of the Elk Falls Company had produced a marked change in the spirit of Campbell River”. wrote the editor W.B. McCusker of the Campbell River Courier in the Canadian Pulp and Paper Mill, September 1952 Journal. “Housing is still at a premium, although prices are somewhat more reasonable than during the boom period.”

When Don McIver transferred from Comox Logging to start work at Elk Falls Mill in 1952, he couldn’t find a place to live.  Crown Zellerbach (the parent company) had built 26 homes for their key mill employees (see left) like T.B. Hargreaves, the mill manager, who Don remembers as being very sociable and who made a point of getting to know all of the employee’s names.  The village, however, was still unable to handle the influx of new employees and initially, a number of fellows including Don, attracted by the steady wages at the mill, commuted from Courtenay until places in Campbell River became available. Although the pay was better in logging (roughly $12 a day instead of the $9.70 per day offered at the mill) work at the mill was steady and less dangerous.

A writer from Victoria (Aug 1953) commented: “Campbell River is becoming essentially a settled place—not just the loggers’ Saturday night town it used to be.” In the same article, A.D. Corker, clerk of the village municipality is quoted as saying: “People are beginning to improve their houses and to build more solidly…  Population has leaped to 2600, at least doubling itself in the last few years.”

It was the advent of families that helped change the face of the village as well. There were plans to construct three new elementary schools in 1952, due to the fact that it had become a ‘young folks town’  with the number of children under the age of six comprising 1/6 of the population.

“I arrived to settle in Campbell River after the Pulp Mill had been built (from a letter to Jeanette Taylor).

The company.. moved many of its employees from Ocean Falls to Campbell River. Both economic and social effects (of this) were vital (to the growth of the town). Of course the population grew quickly to man the mill and the necessary services—schools, hospital etc.”  Initially, the Elk Falls Mill relied on Ocean Falls to supply its pulp, but the Crown Zellerbach pulp mill at Ocean Falls was small and antiquated compared to the brand new facilities at Campbell River, and once Elk Falls started producing its own pulp, it was destined for expansion, whereas the mill at Ocean Falls was destined for eventual closure.

Families coming from Ocean Falls had enjoyed living in a mill town where there were good facilities like an indoor swimming pool. However, Ocean Falls had few roads and most were constructed of boardwalks. Newcomers from Ocean Falls were quite taken with the opportunity to drive for miles in any direction.

Workers and families also came from the Prairies and mills in other provinces. Chuck Saults, who started at the mill construction site in 1951, had come from Calgary. When mill construction was completed, Chuck was offered a job and eventually worked his way up to foreman of Paper machine #5.  Chuck remembers that there was a combination of very experienced employees—those who had come from other mills, and very novice workers.  The Mill employed about 220 workers in 1952 and by 1958, after the addition of the Kraft Mill and another paper machine, the number had grown to about 500 employees.

Skip McDonald recalls the buoyancy of Campbell River citizens in the 1950’s and 1960’s and feels it was the busiest time in the history of Campbell River in terms of growth and prosperity.  Local business people profited from the continual expansion of the mill and from the presence of contractors and guests of the mill.  These short term employees stayed at places like Painter’s Lodge and went fishing while they were here. The town of Campbell River also benefited when the municipal boundaries were extended to include Elk Falls mill in 1964, (previously the boundaries had gone just to the bridge at Hwy19) as taxes from the mill provided a new and vital source of revenue to the town.

Some developments in Campbell River in the 1950’s include:

  • First grocery franchise (Overwaitea) 1951
  • United Church 1952
  • A new Community Hall 1954
  • Willow Point School and Campbellton School 1954
  • Village offices moved into larger quarters (old Lourdes Hospital)
  • Campbell River & District Hospital opened in 1957
  • Campbell River Museum established, 1958

The Campbell River Museum archives house a wealth of information about early Campbell River, including a library, archival photos and newspaper clippings.  Come visit us soon!  Archive hours are Tuesday – Friday, 1pm – 4pm or by appointment – 250-287-3103.

Bill Henderson – Master Carver

Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum Band of Campbell River is one of the most successful master carvers of his time,  and has established an international reputation with collectors of First Nation’s art.  He has been commissioned to carve several traditional totem poles to commemorate important Kwakwaka’wakw people and events, and creates dancing masks, paddles, bowls and plaques.  In 1983, he presented the town of Ishikari, Japan with one of his totem poles as a gift from its sister city, Campbell River.

Henderson began carving with his father, the late Sam Henderson, when he was seven years old.  Sam Henderson was not only an eminent Nak’waxda’xw carver, but also a devoted protector of ancient cultural traditions.  May Quocksistala Henderson,  Bill’s mother, was a high ranking woman of the Campbell River Band.  He also credits the great Kwakwaka’wakw master carvers Mungo Martin and Henry Hunt as major influences on his own work.  He distinctively carries on the Henderson legacy and passes on his knowledge and skills graciously to many of his nephews.

Henderson says that “the woods and waters of the [Kwakwaka’wakw] homeland are rich in animals and I have worked to capture the natural and supernatural figures in many of my masks”.  Pictured here is his Owl Mask, and the vibrant colours and strong lines speak clearly of Henderson’s skill and interpretation.

The Shop at the Campbell River Museum specializes in First Nations Art and carvings like the work of Bill Henderson.  Come in for a visit!

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Connect with us here:

Campbell River Museum on Facebook
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The Campbell River Museum maintains collections and archives from Campbell River’s wide and diverse history, culture and community.  For more information about your local Campbell River Museum, call 250-287-3103 or visit www.crmuseum.ca