Culture & Literature
British Columbia History

British Columbia History 52.2 | Summer 2019

British Columbia History chronicles British Columbia’s unique story through the words and images of community writers, archivists, museum professionals, academic historians and more. Fresh, engaging, personal and relevant, every issue is packed with articles, photographs, maps, illustrations, book reviews and insights into local archives and historic sites.

British Columbia Historical Federation
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4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
letters from readers

First Woman Mayor Iona Campagnolo’s article about women accessing public office [52.1, Spring 2019] raised an interesting question about the first woman elected mayor in BC. Stella Gummow of Peachland holds the title. She served as reeve in 1943–44, following the death of her husband, who previously filled that role. In 1946, Prince Rupert’s Nora Arnold, then a sitting alderman and manager of a real estate company, opposed incumbent mayor Harry Daggett. The key plank of her election platform was reducing the mayor’s salary from $2,000 to $1,200 per year. She won by four votes, 541 to 537. At the same time, Emilie Popoff was acclaimed as mayor of Slocan City. Gummow, Arnold, and Popoff would have been well acquainted with each other through their involvement in the provincial Women’s Institute. They were not, however, the…

2 min.

Fear is a powerful motivator. The fear of difference. The fear of loss of power, money, influence. And fear coupled with greed is even more destructive. But, as I was reminded so eloquently by Laura Saimoto at her Vancouver Heritage Foundation talk on the history of Vancouver’s Japanese Canadian community, its internment, and its restoration of the beloved Japanese Language Hall on Alexander Street, “difference and fear may look different today” but they are still fundamentally the same. As Saimoto pointed out, the vacuum that was created in the Powell Street neighbourhood known as Japantown in 1942 when the federal government seized all properties owned by Japanese-Canadians, is, in part, what led to the current challenges of the downtown Eastside. Difference can be rooted in religion, as is explored in the…

19 min.
conflicts with the law mennonites, hutterites, and doukhobors

Mennonites, Hutterites, and Doukhobors who emigrated to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries faced challenges with federal and provincial laws that sometimes conflicted with their desire to practice communal living, educate their children in their own schools, and remain true to their nonviolent beliefs by avoiding military service. Mennonites and Hutterites, with origins in Switzerland and Italy at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s, and Doukhobors, originating in Russia about 1700, have much in common, including pacificism, a strong belief in the Bible, preference for communal living (Mennonites less so than the other two groups) and a long history of persecution that forced them to migrate many times. Russian Connection Another commonality is their long residence in Russia, a country many families from these three groups moved to…

1 min.
sons of freedom

The story of the Doukhobors is complicated by a breakaway group, the Freedomites (later known as the Sons of Freedom). In the early 1900s, British Columbian newspapers started reporting stories of naked protests in other parts of Canada. Towards the end of the First World War, reports of nude protests in BC started to appear in the newspapers. The June 24, 1921 Vancouver Sun ran a story from Nelson titled “In Adam and Eve Attire Doukobors Fight Mounties. The actions of the Freedomites escalated in the 1920s. They burned their own homes and the homes of other Doukhobors to protest materialism. In 1932 almost 600 men and women were arrested for nude parading, made illegal in 1931, with a mandatory 3-year sentence, but the authorities had nowhere to put them. A…

9 min.
the origins of a highway the malahat

To the thousands of drivers who move north and south on Vancouver Island the Malahat is just another busy and dangerous route jammed with traffic. It is relatively easy now, traffic jams aside, but more than a hundred years ago it was very difficult to travel north up Vancouver Island from Victoria. In the early 1900s, it took Major James Francis Lenox MacFarlane almost three days by horse-drawn wagon to reach Victoria from his farm at Cobble Hill. The wagon road wandered in a grueling route through the giant trees of Goldstream, turning toward Sooke Lake, emerging at the shore near Mill Bay. The road, consisting of a single set of wagon tracks, was often rutted and slow going with stretches of switch-back negotiating the hills. The only alternative at the…

17 min.
the adventures of captain jemmy jones

Born in Wales in about 1830, James “Jemmy” or “Jimmy” Jones was “one of British Columbia’s most noted characters whose celebrity extended down to Washington, San Francisco, and Mexico.”1 He left Wales at an early age to search for his father who he located working in a coal mine in Pennsylvania. His adventurous spirit led him overland to Salt Lake with a group of Mormons. From there he went to California in 1849, part of their great gold rush. After a few years he ended up at Bellingham working in a coal mine. Eventually he earned enough money to purchase his first vessel, the schooner Emily Parker.2 With this vessel he entered the trading business between Puget Sound and Vancouver Island. This venture was short lived. In 1856 this schooner caught…