Thursday, 25 October 2018

Cowichan Valley – settling in the 1800s … part 1



The Europeans had arrived in the late 1700s on the west coast of continental America, including Vancouver Island, while slowly bullying their colonial European way of life …

Cowichan Valley

 The First Nations had been in these waters and on these lands since the last Ice Age and possibly earlier … they knew the area with its local riches … calling it ‘Quw’utsun’ – meaning Warm Lands.




A Robert Bateman painting of
a canoe made by Bill Reid -
a Haida Canadian artist



A surveying coaster, the Hecate, landed in the tiny sheltered waters of Cowichan Bay and thus began the settlement in the Valley … mining, forestry, shipping, fishing and agriculture being those early occupations – a way for Europeans to exist.








Cowichan Bay
 The Hecate, originally a 4-gun paddle sloop, was launched in 1839 from Chatham Dockyard, Kent.  She had a brief 25 years or so history.  Her first assignment was the Syrian War in 1840; the Mediterranean came next, followed by serving in the West Africa Squadron.



The Hecate aground in 1861

In the 1860s, after conversion to undertaking surveys, she worked the seas off Australia before being assigned to the Pacific to the ‘island infested’ waters off British Columbia and the Haida Gwaii ...



Showing some of the islands
at the southern
end of Vancouver Island

In 1865 she was paid off and sold for breaking.



What should have been a fresh-faced lad of 18 years, was a crusty mariner named William Shearing who, in 1862, had arrived by way of India …




Haida Gwaii islands - Hecate Strait
was called the Queen Charlotte Sound


… he and a few others disembarked at Cowichan Bay – the only stop the Hecate made on the island on her way north … that stop set the wheels in motion for settlement in the Duncan/Cobble Hill area on Vancouver Island.







Victoria looking north 'up island' - today
At this stage Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, separated on the east side by an impenetrable massif, could only be reached from the Valley with an overland slog, or via a sloop …



When the route over the Malahat was tolerable -
probably in the 1960s/70s


More on the Malahat as we open the valley up ... and an ice up ... interesting times ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

32 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Looking forward to learning more. The early settlers really didn't have an easy time of it. And didn't give the existing inhabitants an easy time either.

bazza said...

Some really interesting stuff here Hilary! I like the way the area was known as a 'Warm' land - although the climate is pleasant they must have been living in the arctic before that!
I only knew the name Hecate, (the Goddess of witches, from Macbeth) before now.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s novaturient Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hels said...

How amazing that the paddle sloop was launched from Kent, and then covered the world surviving the Syrian War, the Mediterranean, the West Africa Squadron and finally Australia before being assigned to the Pacific. Your image of the Hecate would not have made me want to be an ocean-going sailor :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Looks like a beautiful valley, Hilary! Have you been there?

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

In these days, when we can get to anywhere on earth in just a day or two and contact each other within a matter of seconds, it's almost impossible to imagine how isolated these early settlers were, and what hardships they would endure to get to these places. Most of us think we've had a difficult trip if we spend a few minutes extra in passport control and have a less than perfect in-flight meal!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
I know The Hecate from Aussie history and that she surveyed Botany Bay and others in 1863/4, having completed the BC survey prior to this. She was a mighty wee ship! Also know this name from the Uni of QLD Women's Studies department, who publish a high-end feminist journal (probs named for the minor Greek goddess rather than the ship which surveyed Moreton BAy!)

...sorry - the name shook up my little grey cells - I thoroughly enjoyed your introduction to this history and look forward to more! YAM xx

Deborah Barker said...

Another amazing tale of the past, Hilary. Thank you. that little ship, all the way from Kent and the 18 year old without his fresh face and youthful looks...oh my. X

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That ship accomplished a lot in her short years.

Chatty Crone said...

The Valley there - I guess carved out of the ice age - hard to believe all that has happened before us.

Elsie Amata said...

So, I know the topic of this post is the ship, but I have to admit, my eye was immediately drawn to your picture of Victoria. You know how much I love the water and this view is spectacular! Is this your view every day? If so, WOW!!! :)

Elsie

Jacqui Murray said...

It constantly amazes me how early settlers embraced adversity and problems as part of the journey. I'm enjoying these posts, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - I thought a little early history would be interesting ...there are a couple of tales to tell - and yes, you're right the early native inhabitants definitely didn't have an easy time ...

@ Bazza - yes and certainly it is very fertile here and must have been throughout known history - so WarmLands is very appropriate. Like everywhere - the land has been exceedingly cold, yet warmer too - seen in the geology ...
Like you I know of Hecate as a Greek goddess with all the history and myths that surround her ... and from Macbeth ...

@ Hels - I was surprised to see where the Hecate had travelled ... so felt it was worth adding in - just shows life hasn't really changed that much (yes, technically it has). I definitely wouldn't want to be a sailor even today! Rough life ...

@ Sue - it's where I'm living at the moment ... it's a gorgeous area ...

@ John - yes comparisons from just 150 - 170 years ago ... and how people travelled and relied on their companions, many probably unknown to each other, does put our life in perspective ... just waiting longer than necessary in the supermarket queue, or for a bus that takes its time to arrive ... frustrates most of us as you mention ...

@ Yam - I gather HMS Hecate was pretty instrumental in surveying Botany Bay ... she seemed to be really well equipped for the time, with good navigators, sailors and surveyors aboard her. As you say she was a mighty wee ship ...

Interesting to know about your feminist journal ... which I'm sure would have been named after the Greek goddess, rather than the ship. She worked her way down the east coast of Australia.

Very glad the post brought back some memories for you ... and that you enjoyed this brief introduction ...

@ Deborah - I know I couldn't resist writing about her from the dockyards of Chatham around the world to here ... and the 18 year old, to whom I've given a weathered look ... after that sort of journey I'm sure he must have been weather worn ...

@ Alex - yes I liked her (little ship!) story and her journeys ...

@ Sandie - yes the lands round here were carved out by the glaciers and moraine in front of them being pushed down ... and well before our time ...

@ Elsie - the post covered all sorts of things didn't it - history always amazes me how much we learn even from a snippet like this. No I don't go up in plane everyday ... but this image showed Victoria and the mountains beyond ... while the Malahat granite block shows what was necessary to be routed through to get from Victoria in the south, to the Valley just over the Malahat ...

@ Jacqui - me too ... that's why I need to remind us how the present life we live in was originally found ... and only 150 - 170 years ago ... not so long ...

Thanks everyone - so pleased you enjoyed this snippet of history ... I always need reminding that the rail road hadn't arrived in this part of the world til the late 1800s ... cheers Hilary

Out on the prairie said...

We often forget the cities we invaded and rapidly change the way of life for many.In Iowa they divided the state only allowing the lower quarter for settlement until tribes were offered low moneys for their land. One tribe was moved from IL across the MS River and soon had the Blackhawk War to express their distaste of moving almost 10,000 People.

Lisa said...

I LOVE calling them the "First Nations". What a beautiful way to acknowledge their place in the history of this continent. I'd gathered from the last post that you were on "our" side of the planet, now I know for sure! How wonderful that you get a visit. Loving the history and geography lessons! I finally am following you and getting emails when you post. Yay!!! No more missing!

Anabel Marsh said...

Beautiful valley and bay. We Europeans have a lot to answer for!

Liz A. said...

Have you noticed how much of the history that we hear about is about the east coast? It's nice to hear how the west coast stuff happened, too. Well, sort of. I just want to slap those European settlers for being so short-sighted.

Fil said...

Hi Hilary - it’s so interesting to read about that part of the world. The original inhabitants had a terrible time of it. Looking forward to reading the next instalment. Fil

Rhodesia said...

Another interesting post. Sorry I have not been around, my hard drive crashed completely and they could save nothing from it. Thankfully I back up quite often or it could have been much worse. I am still trying to get back to where I was before!!! Take care Diane

Michael Di Gesu said...

Always something new to be learned by you, Hilary. Can't wait to read more!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve - yes I think we all think our ancestors have been on the lands for centuries - yet it's only (in this part of the world a maximum of 220 years). Lots of dispersals ...

@ Lisa - I hope that First Nations is the terminology they accept. Yes I've been over here for nearly a year now - it's great to be able to visit some of the local places ... as you know I do history and geography ... as well as general posts of interest ...

@ Anabel - we Europeans do have a lot to answer for ...

@ Liz - yes - you're right most of the history starts over my shoulder doesn't it ... I'll do a few posts here on the opening up of this area.

It's interesting about our short-sightedness (or the earlier settlers) as there's not much difference - greed seems to be pervasive in the human species ... I will do a note on it ...

@ Fil - I've learnt a lot since I've been here re history and geography - though am still piecing it together ... and will forever continue to do so ...

@ Diane - oh gosh ... that is mega serious re your hard drive crash - sorry they couldn't save anything ... so frustrating ... yet at least you have some of it: as you say thankfully ... see you soon I hope ...

@ Michael - good to see you ... and to know you're looking forward to more - thank you ...


Cheers to everyone - it's amazing how much I've learnt about this side of the world - and how much the west coast here links across to Russia, China, Japan, India and the rest of Asia ... next instalment coming up ... take care and have a good weekend ... Hilary

Joanne said...

I'm learning more about Canada from you than I ever did in school. As so many have said, the old settlers were a tough group. We have no idea about living in hardscrabble times. I look forward to part 2. Thanks!

Debby Gies said...

Fascinating tale Hilary. I'm getting my history in good from you. Thank you! <3

Janie Junebug said...

The treatment of the First Nations people was appalling, as was that of the American Indian.

Love,
Janie

Juliet Batten said...

How interesting to read this history. Hilary. Thank you.

Vallypee said...

I often wonder what the world would have been like if we Europeans hadn’t decided the it was our own personal oyster and that its pearls were all ours too. Interesting history, Hilary! That shiptravelled far in its short life!

Keith's Ramblings said...

I've learned something from your piece that I've never really given any thought to. Thank you, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne - that's great ... I, as you can imagine, am also learning loads. It was a tough life - just arriving, let alone once here ... it really was hand to mouth ...

@ Debby - it is a tale and a short piece - but gives a flavour of how things were ...

@ Janie - the treatment of aboriginal peoples has never been good anywhere ...

@ Juliet - glad you enjoyed the snippet ...

@ Val - well you'd know about the distance HMS Hecate travelled - being the waterway wanderer you are. Yes you're right I often think about what the world would have been like if we and the other European nations hadn't been such good explorers and then settlers, or transporter of convicts ...

@ Keith - well I'm delighted you learnt something - there's always things that suddenly strike us ... I'm amazed when I suddenly realise something so obvious, that I hadn't considered it ...

Cheers and thanks for visiting ... I now keep thinking about this part of the world in the 1800s ... Hilary

Sherry Ellis said...

A very interesting bit of history here. Never knew about the Hecate.

Rhonda Albom said...

Thanks for the interesting tales on the European origins of Vancouver Island. I liked the path that the Hecate led during its use.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sherry - there are plenty of ships of 'note' that came here - but HMS Hecate is very relevant to the Cowichan Bay area ...

@ Rhonda - it's interesting to think this side of continental north America was settled via sea ... and not overland - before the railways came ...

The Hecate's journey just summarises that little bit of colonial history ... to get us thinking of those times ...

Cheers to you both - Hilary

DMS said...

I learned a lot! I had very little knowledge of the history you shared- almost all of it was new to me. Colonists had a hard time back then- and it always makes me sad how hard they made it for the people who were already on the land. Double hardships! Fascinating facts! Can't wait to hear more.
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Jess - I'm learning as I write this up ... trying to keep it simple, yet interesting about the times. Yes, we weren't very kind ... yet of course we just thought others would like to be like us ... difficult to comprehend: sadly it's still happening today.

So delighted to read you enjoyed the post and basic information ... and there will be more - cheers Hilary