Pioneer Days in British Columbia
Reminiscences by Violet E. Sillitoe


THESE "Reminiscences of Pioneer Days in B. C.” are mostly of a personal nature. They have been jotted down at the request of relations and friends, partly from memory and partly from letters written at the time to my mother, which were returned to me after her death. They are not intended to be a record of church work nor of the official life of my husband, this having been dealt with in “Pioneer Church Work in British Columbia: A Memoir of Acton Windever Sillitoe, by the Rev. H. H. Gowen, and in “Early Days in B. C.,” published Christmas, 1922.

These “Reminiscences” deal more with the little daily happenings and journeyings in the semi-pioneer days covered by the duration of my husband’s episcopate from 1879 to 1894.

OUR tirst journey out to British Columbia in 1880 was by no means an uneventful one, and the latter part was distinctly uncomfortable.

The steamer on which we crossed the Atlantic, the Allan liner Sarmatian, was the last word in luxury, as it was accounted in those days. A suite of apartments on board had been arranged shortly before for carrying H. R. H. the Princess Louise and H. E. Lord Lorne, when he was appointed Governor-General of Canada.

Luxury in those days meant a very different thing to what it does now. The best of staterooms was exceedingly small, with the regulation upper and lower berths, a narrow sofa opposite, and a small washstand facing the door. The cabin was lighted by an oil lamp enclosed in a ground-glass case, shared between two staterooms, and the light was very dim.

Arrived in the Gulf of St. Lawrrence we were caught in a huge ice-field and could neither go forward nor backward. It was a wonderful scene, ice in every direction as far as the eye could reach, and innumerable vessels of all sorts and such were in the same uncomfortable plight as ourselves. Little fishing schooners and big ocean liners were caught fast in the ice. There wrere the Allan liners Polynesian and Moravian, the mail steamers that had left the week and fortnight ahead of us, and to whom we were able to send the latest news and also a supply of newspapers, etc. People were out on the ice amusing themselves. The ice was from 15 to 20 feet thick, but was getting rotten, so that we were able, after a delay of about twenty-four hours, to grind our way through, and we arrived in Quebec ahead of the other steamers.

The Union Pacific was the only transcontinental line, and though the trains were comfortable, there were no dining cars, and the meals provided at the stopping places during the latter part of the journey, to put it mildly, were not appetizing.

The voyage from San Francisco in the old Idaho was even worse, for the steamer was crowded to capacity with men engaged to work on the railway construction of the C. P. R.; which had just commenced on the Western Division, and at night all the floor space was covered with sleeping figures. These men were described elsewhere as the scum of the San Francisco market!

Arrived at Victoria we went to stay at Bishops’ Close with the Bishop and Mrs. Hills, and the kindness of our hosts and the cleanliness of the house and meals and the sweet scents of the flowers wafted in through the open windows, by very force of contrast, made it seem like a foretaste of Paradise. Mrs. Hills was a wonderful gardener, and the Bishops’ Close garden was one of the sights of Victoria, to which all visitors from other parts were taken as a matter of course.

When we arrived in New Westminster on June 18, 1880, there was no house ready for us, and Archdeacon and Mrs Woods received us most hospitably at the Rectory. We made our headquarters with them for nearly three weeks, the Bishop making trips of a day or two to Burrard Inlet, Ladner and the North Arm of the Fraser and other nearby places, I accompanying him.

Then a move was made to Yale, and we took up our abode for a while in the four-room Mission House, built many years before. It was here I began to wrestle with the difficulties of cooking and housekeeping.

The summer and autumn were occupied by the Bishop in getting to know the diocese and the people, and many short journeys and one long one were made.

We arrived back in New Westminster on October 26, and were much disappointed to find that work on the old Archdeaconry House at Sapperton (which was to be our home), and which was afterwards renamed S. Mary’s Mount, had progressed so slowly that it was not nearly ready for us. This time the Rev. C. Baskett came to our rescue and offered us a room in his house, a very ramshackle building roughly built of material from some abandoned sappers’ houses, for Sapperton was where the Royal Engineers were located when they were laying out the city of New Westminster. It is interesting to recall that it was Queen Victoria herself who gave New Westminster its name. Originally it was to be called Queenborough, but objections were raised, and affairs became so heated that the question was referred to England, and Her Majesty decided the matter by herself choosing the name, thereby conferring a singular honor on New Westminster.

At that time there were two Crown Colonies: Vancouver Island, with Victoria as the capital, and the mainland of British Columbia, with New Westminster as its capital.

Government House was built on the high ground of the ravine which runs through the Penitentiary grounds, and where the house of the governor of that institution now stands.

Our quarters (or perhaps I should say “quarter,” as we had only one room) in Mr. Baskett’s house were far from luxurious, although in a missionary magazine Mr. Baskett had been described as one of the city clergy “languishing in the lap of luxury” so different from the up-country missionaries, whose many hardships were feelingly described. In point of fact nothing could have been more misleading. Mr. Baskett led a most self-denying life, and in his home few luxuries found place. Even his bed was only a built-in bunk in a tiny place off the kitchen, and the house was so badly constructed that the four winds of heaven blew at their sweet will through it. The room given to us was the diningroom, and in a small alcove was the bed. It measured 2 ft. 6 ins. in width, and, having to accommodate two people, was widened by a wooden bench out of the church, on which for mattress was placed the original red cushion that adorned the gubernatorial pew in S. Mary’s Church and which was much worn by long usage. It was better, however, than the mattress proper, which was of flock, which had gathered into hard lumps like raw potatoes, and the solitary pillow was filled with the same material. However, extreme fatigue made sleep possible, or if not, there was the pleasure of contemplating the stars through the holes in the roof, or for change we could look down through the cracks and knotholes in the floor to see how three of the would-be clergy, who had arrived from England, were getting on, and who were housed in a kind of basement, possibly even more airy than the house. Mr. Sheldon, one of them, not having a sufficient supply of blankets, we noticed was sleeping under a violet funeral pall which he had annexed from the church.

Our stove was a very small sheet-iron one with a drum in the stovepipe for oven, and in which on the first day I baked a beeksteak pie. To my immense astonishment it turned out a success; I think a special providence watches over the efforts of the very ignorant, but how inhospitable I felt when I had cooked a joint or pie which I hoped might last at least for two meals and it was picked to the bone or the last scrap at the first one!

Fortunately for us the Bishop could turn his hand to anything, but this quality was by no means shared by the embryo clergy. One day the menu for dinner consisted of herrings. Now I could clean herrings when necessity called for it, but I could not eat them afterwards, and the Bishop was very quick to notice any loss of appetite on my patt. I asked all three of the young men if they would undertake this job for me, and all with one accord made some excuse or other, so I was just settling down to my work when the Bishop came along, sized up the situation, and took over the job himself. It was just the same with the wood chopping; if Mr. Baskett was not on hand to help, the Bishop did it. One good, kind engineer’s wife saved me a lot of work by baking the bread for us.

As it was I became ill with the strain, and in consequence we moved into our house when it was still far from complete, and shared it with the workmen. The move was made on the day before Advent Sunday, 1880, when we at long last acquired a home of our own, and never before or afterwards did anything seem such an acme of luxury, and though our friends prophesied all sorts of ills from damp walls, etc., nothing happened.

Soon after S. Mary’s Mount was completed and the workmen had left, the Bishop was called over to Granville on some business and was obliged to stay overnight, and for some reason or other I did not accompany him. By this time we had a Chinaman, and as Sapperton is some distance from New Westminster, he slept in the house. We also had two dogs, a collie and a black retriever, the latter a dog of great character, by no means good tempered, but very much attached to us. At about two in the morning on the night of the Bishop’s absence, I was awakened from my first sleep by the dogs barking most furiously, and slipping on my dressing gown I ran downstairs, calling to the Chinaman as I passed. The dogs were throwing themselves against the front door, and when I opened it they tore off in the direction of the gate. After some time and after hunting round the outside of the house, for I thought it might be a telegram from or about the Bishop, I returned and called the dogs in.

Our dogs, although allowed in the house, were never permitted to come upstairs. When I was returning to bed the black retriever started to follow me, and when he did not obey my first order to go down, I spoke to him sharply, and for the only time in his life he growled at me. That night he slept on the bare boards outside my door, and was there when I came out in the morning and begged his pardon. He knew his duty was to look after me in his master’s absence and intended to do it in spite of anything I said. The Chinaman never came out of his room at all, but told me that he had heard steps on the verandah, and in the morning there were footprints, showing that two men had been around and some tools left outside were missing. It was well for the burglars that I was not as quick as I might have been in waking and getting downstairs or they might have fared badly from the teeth of the dogs.

Another occasion, when I was even more frightened, had a most ludicrous ending. I was at this time quite alone, the Bishop was in New Westminster attending a meeting and the Chinaman was away also. I was sitting working when I was startled by a crash at the back of the house. There was no nearby house to flee to, and I knew that I must not allow my nerves to get the better of me, so with a beating heart and taking my courage in my hands, or rather hand, the other being occupied by the lamp which I carried, I made my way to the kitchen and there discovered the reason of the noise.

The Chinaman had left a bowl of batter on the table, and the cat in her peregrinations had pushed it off and it fell on the floor with a crash, which probably sounded about ten times as loud as it really was, and in falling had poured the contents into the Chinaman’s slippers, which stood handy. My relief was such that I laughed till I was almost hysterical.

In one of my home letters I described the first meeting of the clergy at our house in February, 1881. These meetings became annual events during my husband’s episcopate. As far as I remember there were six guests to be housed at the 1881 gathering. The weather was bitterly cold and when I had distributed our none too liberal supply of blankets there remained only one very thin single one for ourselves. This we supplemented by the Bishop’s Inverness cape and my winter coat, but in spite of these we spent a very shivery night.

Next morning, just as we were assembling for breakfast, Mr. Whiteway, one of the visitors, came up to me and said: 'Mrs. Sillitoe, could you let me have another blanket? I was not quite warm enough last night.”

With a sinking heart but with hypocritically cheerful countenance, I said “Certainly,” and that night our one and only blanket was given up. But our sufferings had a very practical silver lining, for when reading of our difficulties in my letters home, my mother and two aunts were so sympathetic that they sent us out a goodly supply of blankets; so our shivering nights had not been in vain.

The following is a description of one of these meetings from another point of view, published in “Pioneer Work in B. C ”:

The whole staff of the Diocese was present. The Bishop, realizing most acutely the dangers that beset the clergy in their lives of comparative isolation in this extensive Diocese, knowing how much the spirituality of the work depends upon the maintenance of a high tone of piety and devotion in all to whom the care of souls is committed, and deeply alive to the importance of fostering a spirit of brotherly kindness between himself and his spiritual sons, “yea, rather, brethren beloved,” is aided by his wife at no little cost and trouble in the preparation he makes for affording a retreat whilst the examination of candidates proceeds.

At six a.m. the calling bell arouses all from slumber, and by seven the chapel is occupied by silent worshippers preparing for the Eucharist, celebrated by the Bishop himself every morning at 7.30.

It is needless to anyone acquainted with the Bishop’s regard for order and reverence to add that the administration of Holy Communion is invested with the solemnity and impressiveness that befit the Divine Mysteries.

At eight breakfast is partaken of in silence, whilst each in turn reads from some book of an edifying character. This season we read Milman’s “Love of the Atonement.”

At ten the examination of the candidates is conducted by the Archdeacon. Dinner is at 1 p.m., with reading in turn, as also at tea, which is at six it is with almost a feeling of reluctance that one returns to the custom of making such occasions periods of social relaxation and common talk.

Friday is passed in a still more marked manner, though it is generally termed a “quiet day.” Absolute silence is enjoined on all by the Bishop, himself not excluded, from the rising of the sun till breakfast on the day following. On the walls are posted the proceedings in which all are expected to take part; subjects for meditation suitable to the ministerial life, and earnest addresses by the Bishop and others are given in the chapel, concluding with a special service at 7.30, to which the parishioners are generally invited. So the day of separation from the world, of self-communing, and personal exhortation, passes away—but not so, we trust, the deeper insight into ourselves, the high resolve, the kindled desire and the chastened spirit.

DURING our sojourn at S. Mary’s Mount we had the honor of entertaining three governors-general. Princess Louise accompanied her husband, the Marquis of Lorne; Lord Lansdowne was only accompanied by his staff, while Lady Stanley of Preston came out with her husband. In each case our house, which was none too big, was taxed to the limit, and beyond.

The Marquis of Lorne was the first one to come, in the early autumn of 1882. His party consisted of H. R. H. the Princess Louise, with her two ladies-in-waiting, Miss McNeil and Miss Harvey; Col. de Winton, comptroller of the household; and two valets. Other members of the party we found room for in the old Government House and in town.

We had only twenty-four hours’ notice of the honor in store for us, and, as usual, it found us with every room in the house occupied; indeed I never remember the time when the house was not full. We had, therefore, not only to provide for the incoming guests, but to find quarters for the outgoing ones. Staying with us at the time were two of the Cowley Community, Fathers Hall and Shepherd, who had come out to spend the summer ministering to the men working on the Canadian Pacific Railway construction. Later Father Hall became (and still is) Bishop of Vermont, while lather Shepherd died in South Africa.

I was still very young at the time, and very shy, and stood in great awe of these two holy men, but when they asked if they could do anything to help, my need of assistance was so great that I promptly accepted, and giving them two big aprons, set them to work to clean the silver! Like everything else they undertook, the work was done to perfection! Miss Kendal, who at that time was in charge of Columbia College, the Church school for girls, was also most kind in helping me.

S. Mary’s Mount had three fair-sized bedrooms and two very small ones, and into these the party was packed, H. R. H. and the Governor-General having our bedroom and one of the small rooms as dressing-room, the two ladies-in-waiting sharing a room, and Colonel de Winton occupying the remaining large one. The Bishop and I and all our possessions were piled into the second small one, which was about six feet by ten or twelve, with no cupboard. I shudder when I think of the appearance of that room. The party arrived at about 1 o’clock and in great style, for there being no carriage on the mainland, other than the high, old-fashioned stages, a landeau had been imported for the time being from Victoria.

A party of bluejackets formed the escort. As the luggage was to follow later, the Princess asked if she might borrow one or two articles from me, and happily amongst the wilderness piled up I was able to find what she needed. Amongst other things, put in at the last minute, was our little dog, who was apt to bark at strangers.

When the Princess came downstairs she said to me: “I hope I have not done wrong, but when returning your belongings I let out your little dog!”

Just imagine my feelings at H. R. H. having seen that awful room! The Princess told me to be sure to make use of the valets—these two men having been accommodated with tents pitched in the field at the back.

If I had been awed at the thought of entertaining royalty, I was simply terrified at the valets, but again extreme need came to my aid. Our domestic staff consisted of one Chinaman, who had to look after the horses, milk the cow, attend to the vegetable garden, besides cooking, baking and washing for the family, and help, therefore, was urgently needed, so I had the head valet in, giving him directions as to the setting of and waiting at table, etc.

I explained that I made the coffee myself in the drawingroom, of which he quite approved, saying that H. R. H. did the same at Government House, but when I further explained that after returning from viewing the torchlight procession and illuminations on the river, I wanted him to bring in the tea tray, which I would have all ready, there his approval ceased— “We don’t have tea at Government House, madam!”

Feeling that I must assert myself, I said: “I think I would like you to bring it in,” and he then thought he probably had been a little too officious, for he added rather apologetically: “You see, madam, our gentlemen don’t drink enough to require it!” His enlightening of my unsophisticated mind on the reason of tea and coffee after dinner was so deliciously funny that I had to go into the drawing-room to repeat the conversation, which caused much amusement.

Princess Louise was an ideal guest, so simple and unassuming, as were the ladies-in-waiting. Miss Harvey was a first-rate musician. Miss McNeil afterwards married, as his second or third wife, the old Duke of Argyle, and so became step-mother-in-law to Princess Louise.

The Princess made several sketches from our field and these appeared later in the London Graphic. As it was still too early for fires, she went into the kitchen herself to dry her sketches, catching the Bishop at the back of the house in his shirt sleeves doing some necessary chores. Between tea and dinner we spent the time with music, the Princess and I singing duets, she taking the alto and I the soprano.

Next morning there was a great gathering of Indians to see the “Queen’s Papoose” and also to make speeches to the Governor-General. Just before leaving, Colonel de Winton came in to tell the Princess what arrangements had been made, for she was to return to H. M. S. “Comus” that day en route for Victoria, and the whole party, ourselves included, were to go with her to Port Mood. The Marquis was to return with us, as he was going on up country next day. The arrangements were that the Governor-General, the Princess and the two ladies-in-waiting should drive in the landeau, the Bishop and I in the buckboard, and the rest in all sorts and conditions of buggies and stages.

“Oh, no,” said the Princess, “that won’t do. I am going to drive in the buckboard with the Bishop,” and no amount of persuasion or expostulation would turn her from her purpose.

This was the first the Bishop had heard of the honor in store for him, and he hastily slipped out to the stable to have a look at the harness and see to the harnessing of the horse. The buckboard had seen service, hard service, and indeed very little of its original coating of paint remained, while the harness had been second-hand when we bought it and had since then grown perceptibly shabbier, and although not held together (as much B. C. harness was) by cord and telegraph wire, still it was only a few degrees better.

“Punch,” my beautiful horse, given to me on my first birthday in British Columbia by the Bishop, had blue blood in him. He was bred for a racer but had ignominiously failed in his first race, and the Bishop, therefore, was able to acquire him for the price of an ordinary horse. But even “Punch” did not appear at his best. His coat was shaggy and none too well groomed; in fact, the whole turnout, to say the least, was appallingly shabby. It headed the procession, passing through the decorated grounds to the playing of the bands, the waving of flags and the cheering of the crowds.

Next came the landeau with the Governor-General and myself, and the two ladies-in-waiting opposite. The honor thrust upon me was not at all appreciated, and I sighed for the buckboard and the company of my husband. We all lunched on the “Comus,” returning in the afternoon, and next day, after bidding adieu to the Marquis of Lorne, we returned to our ordinary “daily round.”

I have very little recollection of the Marquis of Lome’s visit on his return from the upper country.

Lord Lansdowne’s visit was a most delightful one. Of all the guests we had—and they were many—he and Sir John Macdonald were perhaps the most charming. Lord Lansdowne was accompanied by two aides and, I think, a secretary. When they arrived, one of the aides said to the Bishop: “Do you remember, My Lord, when we last met?”

The Bishop did not recollect, and small wonder, when the aide said:

“Don’t you remember bailing me out of the police court at Darmstadt in 78?”

As this bailing out of the police court of the many young Englishmen who were learning German, preparatory to going into the army, was a constant occurrence, it is hardly to be wondered that the Bishop did not remember the circumstance. The numerous German notices of “verboten” or “streng verboten” were irresistible incentives to the English youths to do what was “forbidden” or “strictly forbidden” by the German police. Many of these youths whom we knew in Germany turned up in B. C. to renew the acquaintance.

Our house was often called Hotel Sillitoe, because all sorts and conditions of people, both invited and uninvited, came to stay with us. It was a holiday home for any of the workers in the Diocese, and when people were ill they came to be nursed and to recuperate; some of our guests were indeed angels that we entertained unawares, and owing to conditions and difficulties of travel, they would turn up quite unexpectedly. On one occasion at four o’clock one morning in summer time, the Bishop, hearing steps on the verandah, put his head out of the window and called, “Who is there?” A meek voice from below replied: “Me, my Lord.” “Me” was the Rev. R. Small, later Archdeacon of Yale, and his colleague, the Rev. H. Edwardes, who had just arrived from Lytton. I was getting up to make beds ready for them, when I was ordered to remain where I was. I had been ill and was only just recovering. For the remainder of the night the two men had to sleep between blankets, to the great distress of my housewifely soul.

In travelling about B. C., as we did every year, we met with the most wonderful hospitality. We could turn up quite unexpectedly at the most busy season of the year, or probably at other times equally inconvenient, but always the same smiling welcome was accorded; only once in all those years do I remember being turned away, probably for some good reason. I have no recollection now of what it was, but I do remember the sinking of heart I experienced, for it was late in the afternoon, the next stopping place being fifteen miles further on—a long stretch for tired horses, to say nothing of ourselves. By the time we reached our second destination it was quite dark. Our host came out to welcome us and then went with the Bishop to unharness and see after the comfort of our horses. This was a job my husband always attended to himself, and he did not leave until the horses were rubbed down and comfortably stabled; always the first thing in the morning he was out again at the stables scraping the collars, greasing the axles and generally over-hauling the harness.

This particular stopping place boasted of no women kind. I had been ushered into a large barroom, or at least what appeared to be one, with ten or twelve men lounging about. I was very tired, and, making for the nearest chair, felt a great inclination to weep. The real dangers of the road, so long as my husband was with me, were as nothing, but to be left unprotected in the company of so many unknown men was terrifying. It soon became evident that if I were frightened of the men they were equally so of me, for one by one they made their way out, and I was left absolutely alone. When our host returned, he asked if he could show me to my cabin, and at first I thought he must have been a seafaring man, but no; following the light of the lantern he carried, he ushered us into a one-room cabin with mud floor and just two beds, not another thing, and our host made many apologies to me for the absence of a looking-glass! After supper the men again gathered together, and the Bishop held a short service, and then, after I had retired, he stayed on awhile to have a smoke and talk with them. Next morning he managed to get a pail of water in which I could perform my ablutions. Although our baggage had to be very limited—just a small Gladstone bag shared between us—I always carried soap, towels, a pair of sheets and pillowcases; such things as clean sheets or sheets of any kind were by no means the invariable rule. We borrowed a newspaper to pin over the window as a shade. Another time, when not even a pail could be found in a bachelor establishment, the Bishop commandeered the bread-pan, which no doubt served many other uses, besides being a receptacle for the mixing of the dough.

The most striking case of hospitality occurred on one of our visits to the Nicola Valley. It was late in October and the weather had turned very cold. Towards the middle of one afternoon, when we pulled up at our destination, we found only the shell of a house; the side walls were in place, but no roof, no filling between the logs, and, of course, no doors and windows. We were beginning to figure out the distance to the next house when a young couple came out to greet us, the wife looking like a charming picture out of a Kate Greenaway book.

O, yes, they could certainly take us in, and, going through the shell of a house, we were shown into a large room — kitchen, sitting-room and bedroom all in one, with a bed in one corner. I could see no other room, so, after the horses were housed, we decided to take a walk and give our hosts an opportunity of making any preparations necessary. It was so cold that, instead of going farther than about half-a-mile, we gathered a lot of fir cones, made a fire and sat down on a log to enjoy the warmth. On our return, things were, to all outward appearances, just as when we left. After supper the Bishop held evening prayers, and about 9 o’clock our host and hostess got up, and, saying good-night, left us in possession; we supposed there must be some other accommodation of which he knew nothing. It was not until next morning that we learned they had slept in blankets on the floor of the unfinished building, and the thermometer when we got up in the morning stood at 2 below zero!

The Bishop was, I think, the hardest worker I ever knew; he was never very strong, and even before coming out to British Columbia he had had a good deal of trouble with his throat, and this was a source of difficulty during the winter months especially, as the constant preaching and speaking was a great strain on the vocal cords. Five services on a Sunday, with some three or four sermons, was very usual. One winter, during the absence in England of Archdeacon Woods, the Bishop had entire charge of Holy Trinity, New Westminster, and S. Mary’s, Sapperton, with only intermit-tant help from a deacon.

The summer travelling, hard though it was in many ways, always found us in better health at the end than at the start. In connection with loss of voice, a most curious entry was made in the Yale service book, unnoticed at the time, but discovered within the record of some service was being looked up. The Rev. Darrell Horlock was in charge of the Church, and on a certain Sunday, in place of the usual entry of the services, which included the text of the sermon, it read: “No services, Rector ill, voice gone.” The next Sunday he was somewhat better, and the entry appeared, “Eight o’clock Celebration, eleven Mattins, no sermon, Rector’s voice still gone,” and on the third Sunday the usual services were entered, and the following was the sermon text: “And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass.”

All Saints’ Day, the date of the Bishop’s consecration in 1879, and consequently the birthday of the Diocese, was a day much observed, and we always had to be back from our travels before that date. A service at Holy Trinity, New Westminster, with special music on the eve of the festival, always attracted a very large congregation, and latterly the choir was augmented by the choirs of some of the Vancouver churches. At eight o’clock in the morning of All Saints’ Day there would be a Communion service, fully choral, the music being most beautifully rendered by the choir, which had been trained by the Bishop himself. His great relaxation was music, of which he was passionately fond, and when, during his last illness, the reading of ordinary books tired him, the reading of music scores was generally possible He organized, soon after our arrival, the New Westminster Choral Union, which once a week, during the winter months, brought all the musical people together, and was himself the trainer and conductor; several concerts were given each season, one always being a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Such tramps we used to have in those early days into New Westminster, through deep mud, lighting ourselves on our way with a lantern ! The sidewalk, which was built later to the outskirts of New Westminster, was done by private subscriptions, gotten up by the Bishop, the Brunette Saw Mill giving all, or at least part, of the lumber. This made the night journeys into town much easier. After the Bishop’s death I gave his music scores to the Library in New Westminster, and also a file of the concert programmes. A concert by some members of the Choral Union was given at Granville, in the winter of 1884, before anybody thought it would be the terminus of the C. P. R., though the Bishop always prophesied that Burrard Inlet would some day rival San Francisco as a seaport, and was laughed at for his optimism. Those taking part in the concert made the 12-mile journey over the Douglas road by sleigh, the snow making-travelling much easier, for during the rest of the year the road was more or less a combination of corduroy and mud-holes.

We had two sleighs, which greatly helped in the transportation of the performers. One of the sleighs was a necessity, the other a luxury, and, as we did not indulge in many luxuries, I had better explain this exception to the rule.

Our original sleigh was just a rough box upon runners, with boards nailed across for seats, the whole thing built at the least possible cost. We were driving over to Granville one winter’s day, and stopped to speak to Mr. Black, mine host of the Road End Hotel, and some of his friends. They remarked upon our sleigh in not very complimentary terms, and the Bishop explained that it was strong and serviceable, and the best he could afford. A few days later there was brought to S. Mary’s Mount a beautiful little two-seated cutter, a present to me from these generous-hearted men.

On our travels in the out-of-the-way places, services had to be held in all sorts of places. On our first visit to the Coldstream Ranch, near what is now Vernon, the services were held in a big barn, and in “Early Days in B. C.” I told f the comical interference with the sermon by a proud hen which had just laid an egg. On our next visit to Coldstream different arrangements were made for the services. A new dining-room had just been added, but the floor boards had been left loose so as to allow of their shrinking before being nailed down. The service proceeded uneventfully until the first lesson, when the chairs on which we were seated began to jerk up and down in a most curious way, giving the whole scene a most ludicrous appearance. The explanation was that a party of pigs had got in underneath the room, and finding the unusual resistance of the boards provided delightful scratching for their backs, had a delightful time. A little later our gravity was again sorely tried. An old mother pig, surrounded by a large and growing family, had inserted her head into a receptacle where the Chinaman threw the refuse from the kitchen, and, while the meal proceeded, all went well; but, when she tried to withdraw her head, she could not do it, and, growing frightened, rushed around with the tin still on her head, terrifying her poor offspring, who scattered with loud squeals in all directions at the unwonted appearance of their parent, and all this was in full view of the room. I hope that the service was edifying—certainly it was not dull.

REMINISCENCES of Pioneer Days in B. C.” would indeed be incomplete without mention of Father Pat, one of the best-known and best-loved men in the Diocese of New Westminster. The Rev. H. Irwin came out in 1885, and was stationed at Kamloops as assistant to the Rev. Darrell Horlock. The parish, or rather Missionary District, was a most extensive one, and soon Father Pat was riding-here, there and everywhere, holding services in all sorts of places and making friends wherever he went. A little Memoir, written by Mrs. Mercier, tells how a friend of his at Oxford had given him this name, which stuck to him all his life, and was used by everyone who knew him, in the new world as well as the old.

When first he arrived in Kamloops, some of the boys, looking upon the new parson as a tenderfoot, and therefore fair game, thought they would have some fun with him, and asked if he could ride; when Father Pat said that he could, they offered him a mount, not, however, mentioning that the horse was a buck-jumper. Mr. Irwin was an excellent horseman, and in his Irish home could ride any horse bare-backed or otherwise, but a buck-jumper was a new experience. He soon realized that a trick had been played upon him, but this only put his back up, and, after he had been twice thrown, the boys were heartily ashamed of themselves and apologized, but Father Pat had established a character, and this incident was published far and wide and was a most helpful introduction for him.

The following letter I wrote to Mrs. Mercier in answer to her request that I would tell her something about Mr. and Mrs. Irwin’s married life. On January 8th, 1890, he was married to Miss Frances Stuart Innes, daughter of Mr. J. H. Innes, head of H. M. Naval Establishment at Esquimalt. My letter, published in “Father Pat,” is as follows:—

“You ask me to tell you what I can about Mr. Irwin’s short married life, and the time afterwards that he spent at the See House as the Bishop’s Secretary and Chaplain.

“Being away from all my papers, it is impossible for me to remember exact dates, but I think it was about the New Year, 1890, that Mr. Irwin brought his bride to New Westminster, to a little house not far from the Church.

“Father Pat and his wife were like two children in the delight they took in everything, in the pride they took in each other and their cosy little home; and, although it was given to them to spend so short a time together here below, that time was one of unclouded happiness. This I say from observation and from what Mr. Irwin has since told me, for he loved to talk to me of his wife and of their happiness, telling me all sorts of anecdotes of their life.

“At the choral evensong on All Saints’ eve, 1890, the hymn ‘For all the Saints who from their labours rest’ was sung for the first time. Mrs. Irwin was not feeling well enough to attend the service, but walked over to the Cathedral to listen from outside. She thought she had never heard anything more beautiful than this hymn, the beauty of which lifts one for a while above the small worries and harassments of earth, the last triumphant verses carrying one almost into the Divine presence. ‘And to think,’ as Mr. Irwin said to me, ‘that so soon afterwards it should have been sung for her.’

“The little baby, whose advent was to fill up the cup of happiness already so full, was not permitted to see the light of this world; and on the evening of a Sunday in November, on which so many prayers had been offered for the safety of mother and child, the little one was laid at rest in a corner of the beautiful cemetery overlooking the Fraser River and the snowclad mountains beyond. The grave is now marked by a tiny stone on which is a touching inscription.

“Three days later Mrs. Irwin died, the shock being all the more crushing, as she was supposed to be recovering. On the evening of the funeral Mr. Irwin took up his residence at the See House, and here he stayed until early in 1894, when he was called to Ireland, a few months before the Bishop’s death, on account of his father’s severe illness.

“Of his work during these three years there is not much to be recorded. It consisted of humdrum every-day drudgery, the writing and copying of letters, interviews, parochial work (for he was curate of the Cathedral), and numberless other things too insignificant to mention.

“The office, a large room in the See House, used for meetings and the transaction of business, was where he was usually to be found, although he had a private sitting-room. In the evenings he was usually surrounded by a number of young fellows, for the most part either strangers or those down on their luck.

“Our Sunday evening suppers at the See House were always motley gatherings of all sorts and conditions of men; frugal meals they were, as indeed was all our fare; but happy and restful after the day’s work was over. It was a great amusement to Father Pat to tell us afterwards of the remarks that were made, the great simplicity was so different from what was supposed to be en regie in an episcopal household.

“Mr. Irwin’s sunny disposition made him a charming member of the family, and the love between him and the Bishop was more that of a father and son, and in all these years I never remember any friction dimming its brightness.

“Mr. Irwin always believed the best of everyone, and his character was to strangers a misleading one: he was so sweet-tempered, so anxious to think others right and to yield his own way, that people were inclined to think that he could be easily led and influenced; it was only when they were brought up against his principles that they found themselves face to face before a solid wall round which there was no way of getting.

When he felt a thing to be right, there was no shadow of yielding. He was from the first one of my truest and dearest friends; but though I knew he was out of health, I had no idea that the end, for which he so much longed, was so near. The sorrow for my personal loss could not but be very great, and yet there was happiness in knowing that his many and arduous labours were over, and that in the rest of Paradise he was re-united to those loved ones gone before.

Mr. Irwin’s thoughtfulness for others was wonderful. On my first visit to England after the Bishop’s death, he made a special journey over from Ireland, so that there should be somebody to meet me at Liverpool. During my stay in England he told me he did not intend to return to British Columbia, that he could not face the work there without the Bishop. I objected to this, saying that it would not be fair to the new Bishop who was not then appointed; also I felt sure that this would be contrary to the wishes of my husband, who always placed the welfare of the Church before any private feelings. In the end, Mr. Irwin decided to return, taking up work in the Kootenays, remaining there until his death in 1902. The end was very sad in its loneliness. He was on his way to Ireland very much out of health, nervously and physically, and he alighted from the train just before reaching Montreal, probably craving for the exercise to which he was so much accustomed. He was picked up by a farmer with both feet badly frozen, taken to the Notre Dame Hospital, but from the first his case was hopeless. In spite of great suffering, he was most considerate and cheerful. The Sisters had notified the Rev. Canon Wood of S. John’s, Montreal, when they found that their mysterious patient (who refused to give his real name) belonged to the Church of England, and during the last three days Canon Wood was often with him. He lost consciousness only a few hours before death. Dr. D. A. Kingston, who attended him, wrote: “For my own part, I have never seen so much strength and so much gentleness combined.”

“In a corner of the beautiful little cemetery at Sapperton is a semi-circular headstone, very low and small. In its centre is a sacred symbol, the Cross enclosed in a circle. It is the grave of the nameless little one who never saw the light; and beneath the symbol are these touching lines:

‘No name had I, O Christ, to offer Thee,
Nor from Thy font received the sacred sign;
Yet in Thy Book of Life remember me,
I plead my Saviour’s Name instead of mine.’
‘Child of H. and F. S. Irwin.’

“Not far off lie the parents in one grave, with two white marble crosses at head and foot.”

ON one of our journeys up country, whither we were going to attend a gathering of Indians, we took with us as our travelling companion Miss Woods, the eldest daughter of the Archdeacon of Columbia. There were trains running irregularly on part of the western section of the C. P. R., but the cantelever bridge where the line crosses the Fraser River had not then been built. Crossing the river was made in a sort of basket slung on wire ropes. Only two persons, we were told, were allowed to cross at one time. Miss Woods, however, absolutely refused to go without either the Bishop or me, and I would not permit him to go without me, saying that if anything happened we would at least die together. The situation was a difficult one, for we could not possibly leave Miss Woods behind. The authorities finally allowed the three of us to crowd into the basket, and we reached the further shore safely. We spent the night in Lytton in the little one-room cottage, the Bishop and I sleeping on the bare boards with our Gladstone for a pillow. There were no blankets, these having been sent on ahead of us to the camp.

Another time, soon after the completion of the C. P. R., we were journeying to fill an engagement at Chilliwack, and, while in the Pullman car talking to friends, the car began to roll about in a very curious fashion. Happily for all concerned, a quick-witted newsboy pulled the cord connecting with the engine, causing the engineer to stop the train, without, however, being able to see what was wrong. By that time our car was on its side, having gone off the track. Prompt action probably saved many lives, for, had we gone a few hundred yards further, we should have been landed, or rather submerged, in the Fraser River. As it was, it all happened so quickly and quietly that we were hardly frightened, and were able to climb out of the car safely. It was impossible for us to reach Chilliwack in time for our engagement, and our only alternative was to tramp back over the tracks to Westminster Junction.

In concluding his book, “Church Work in British Columbia,” Doctor Gowen says: “With such a Bishop’s grave amongst us, the Diocese can never be poor; as we gaze upon it under the shadow of the mighty trees of the western fore t, it speaks to us of the continuity of a cause which marches in victoriously, though every standard-bearer fall in the light. We know that while God has given rest to His ser-wmts> their work is not done, nor can their graves be cold.”

Now, thirty years later, more of the standard-bearers have fallen. Six months after my husband’s death Archdeacon Woods was called to his rest, and was later followed by the Rev. Richard Small, Archdeacon of Yale, a Missionary to the Indians; by the Rev. H. Irwin, the Rev. Charles Croucher, and the Rev. H. G. Fiennes-Clinton, whose name will always be associated with S. James’, the mother Church of Vancouver, and who was identified with everything that made for the well-being of the Church and of the City of Vancouver.

All these men, of whose friendship I must ever feel proud, have died out here. Archdeacon Woods, “Father Pat” and Mr. Croucher are buried not far from my husband in the Sapperton cemetery, while Archdeacon Small’s body lies underneath the spot where stood the altar of the first S. Paul’s Church at Lytton. Father Clinton’s body rests in Vancouver’s beautiful Mountain View cemetery. The second Bishop of New Westminster, the Right Rev. John Dart, is also buried in the Sapperton Cemetery. These graves, too, testify to the continuity of the cause for which they lived and died.

These are a few of the reminiscences, interesting most of all to myself, inasmuch as through them I live over again in memory, those happy bygone days, but if, through them, a desire is awakened in others to learn more about our Church’s work in British Columbia, the object will indeed have been accomplished.


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