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British Columbia History

British Columbia History 52.4 | Winter 2019

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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.

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British Columbia Historical Federation
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4 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
letters from readers

New BCH App Hi Andrea I purchased the British Columbia History app from the Apple Store and really enjoy it. I do most of my reading on my iPad so it really works well for me. Regards Mike Yusko Via email Uplands Farm The remnants of “Uplands Farm” (Fall 2019 issue, p. 27) were definitely “magical” if they “slopped gently” into Haro Strait. When Joseph Despard Pemberton laid out the plot of land named “Uplands Farm” he was acting as the Hudson’s Bay Company’s surveyor, not “Surveyor General of Vancouver Island” although the Colonial Office had authorized him to survey the entire island. In the Victoria area, Uplands Farm was the first plot of formerly Songhees land that was allotted by the HBC in 1852. Respectfully, Jim McDowell Corrections Many thanks for publishing Mark Forsythe’s excellent article on…

2 min.

I grew up with many photos of my great-grandfather, Carl Grossman, standing proudly in his uniform. He enlisted on December 23, 1914 with the 104th Regiment Westminster Fusiliers of Canada. He was thirty-three years old. Battalions were recruited and formed from the 104th Regiment and sent overseas. Grossman was not part of the overseas contingent; instead he was sent to Nanaimo for “home defence.” By July 1915 he had been promoted to lieutenant and was the acting quarter-master of the Nanaimo Internment Camp. In 1916 he was transferred to the Vernon Internment Camp. It always puzzled me that Carl Grossman, born in Hamilton, Ontario, to immigrants — a German father and an English mother — would be in charge of guarding Germans and that he was part of this dark piece of…

8 min.

I love when research works. When you can focus the lens of time a little bit more, so looking back through the years and misty half-memories you can see more clearly, and find that one crisp moment that shines so brightly it lights up all the corners of the room. This focus came to me as a gift when I realized that I had been led astray by a famous artist on the path of researching my book, Talking with Grandmothers, about our family history and the origins of Vancouver. (In fairness, though, this artist passed on in 1945 and had no idea I was following her!). After three years of research, one special thing had continued to elude me, and that was the birth name of my third great-grandmother, Celestine,…

24 min.
identifying the enemy the tale of herman elmer

As a German-born coal miner, Herman Elmer was an exceptional member of local union 2334 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at Michel, British Columbia. In a community populated by British, Canadian, American, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian immigrants, his German national origin was remarkable because it was so rarely encountered in the years just before the First World War. He stood for vice-president of District 18 UMWA in July 1913 and polled impressively; in August he became secretary of the Michel local union and won immediate praise; in February 1914, he worked successfully for a dramatic change to the constitution of District 18. Yet in the autumn of 1914, Elmer was arrested for sedition and imprisoned without trial. In both his arrest and his imprisonment, he was also exceptional. Throughout…

1 min.
internment during the first world war

According to the Canadian War Museum, Canada interned 8,579 “enemy aliens” in twenty-four receiving stations and internment camps across Canada from 1914–1920. This number included 2,009 Germans, 5,954 Austro-Hungarians, 205 Turks, 99 Bulgarians, and 312 people classified as “miscellaneous,” 23,24 a category that included homeless people, conscientious objectors, and members of outlawed cultural and political associations. As well, 81 women and 156 children — the dependents of male internees — were voluntarily interned. Lieutenant General William Otter classified 3,138 people as prisoners of war, a number that included German officers and enlisted personnel who had been apprehended either in Canada, Newfoundland, or in the British West Indies. The other 5,441 people who were interned were civilians. The federal government employed internees on numerous mining and logging operations as well as massive labour…

8 min.
from private to patient one soldier’s story

Craigdarroch Military Hospital patient Private Ralph Forrester, Regimental No. 524673, came to my attention through an email from his grandson, Dr. Hugh Whitney, chief veterinary officer for Newfoundland and Labrador. Dr. Whitney’s mother, Mary Whitney, visited the Castle in 2004 and shared her father’s story. A few years later, Dr. Whitney shared his research on his grandfather Forrester. His research and his mother’s recollections inform the following paragraphs. Though born in Mexico, Ralph Forrester emigrated to Canada from Oldham, Lancashire in 1911. His wife, Violet, and young daughter, Edith joined him in New Westminster three months later. They moved to Qualicum Beach two years later, where Forrester pursued his trade as a master painter. Two more children had been born by the time the First World War started. Forrester joined the Canadian…