Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Cowichan Valley ... the settling and opening up: Railways, Roads, the local Ferry and the Ice ... part 5



Fog, Ice and Snow are very much a part of this area … we need transport to get around ... ships, trails, roads, rail and now air ...



Sorry - I've enlarged it ... so out of focus ...
... but you can see some of the ferry routes -
Mill Bay to Brentwood is bottom middle
(this is zone 1 map - see Wiki BC Ferries)
... the weather could be much more extreme … mostly it’s tolerable – occasionally it becomes severe, which can upset a few applecarts



Travel used to be by sloop, steamer, ox wagon, horse ride, or just two feet to get to and fro from the capital Victoria … 




Bringing struts across Kinsol Trestle for repairs
... the railway, that mixed blessing bastion, was built by Robert Dunsmuir – the coal baron – from Nanaimo to Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria in 1888 - before being sold after his death in 1905 … the service of which has been a hallmark of inconsistency … 



Repairs are needed ... but they're starting on the
northern section
It has just been announced, to be ratified next month, that repairs to the line will be made … and all things being equal the railway will re-open from Spring onwards … eventually reaching Victoria late next year.






Malahat - unmetalled road in 1917
But back to 1911 when the Malahat easterly crossing was built … the motor car arriving from Germany in 1899, or the USA in 1908 … ‘luxury transport’ was available for those who could afford it …



Main routes now from Victoria out to Cowichan Valley and
back; some ferry routes shown - but the Saanich
Peninsula is clearly shown.  The thickened blue line was the
old main route through along the coast - before the
Trans Canada Highway was built ...


Freighters supplied the coastal communities with grain, hay, fish, livestock … the SS Cascade was one of those - being built in 1906 – it plied its route for 13 years.








1928 SS Cascade coming into Brentwood Bay Dock


After WW1 it was sold and changed into a coal transporter travelling between Union Bay, Nanaimo and down to Seattle.  Occasionally also supplying





Very early steam ship

Two Royal Navy officers, after WW1, saw an opening for a ferry service, which began in 1924.   They adapted the SS Cascade … advertised the savings in mileage for intrepid road tourists …







The intention was to bring the railway to the Bute inlet -
it runs through Kamloops now, then south to Vancouver

The west coast of Canada, and Vancouver Islands – were new lands to explore and find out about … Victoria the capital was well known … but to promote the rest of the Island … potential investors, settlers, tourists … needed to see as much as they could …





Closer view of Bute inlet and the intricacies of the
British Columbian coastline adjacent to
Vancouver Island


… this place of beauty, the climate, ideal weather, wildlife to see, fishing, camping and hiking opportunities, let alone the tiny inlets and bays for the sailing fraternity …








The Sunken Garden

… new places too – Mr Butchart’s Garden, which I’ve yet to write up about, or the Observatory which has escaped my wanderings, the Saanich peninsula … 




... the airport, or any form of airfield, only arrived in 1939 … so the peninsula was another area to explore when motoring was becoming ubiquitous … using the ferry saved a second road journey over the Malahat … not tarmacked until 1940 …



The old advert shown today on the ferry
- dated 1930s
… thus taking the 3 mile ferry trip would save one of the Malahat trips – at times not pleasant even in this day and age (and the road has improved considerably!).


Most of the time all was well … but in 1926 … it was so cold there were mini ice floes around … the ferry continued to run – to get passengers over to the Valley … as the Malahat would have been impenetrable …





Tug boat pushing log raft off
Vancouver, 2012

The Bamberton tug pushed ahead of the ferry, which ploughed on through six inches of ice … but … a huge chunk must have struck the ship’s bow tearing a hole in her hull.






SS Cascade awaiting a refit 1933


Fortunately a man on watch discovered that water was coming up the ship’s well … the captain immediately turned back, safely disgorged his passengers and cars …





… but nothing could be done for the ferry – she sank alongside the wharf – was repaired and restored back into service …


Ferry Terminal in Victoria in the 1920s


… it’s a delightful journey … a maximum of 22 cars (no lorries) – depending on the size can be carried …   200 vehicles a day compared to the 25,000 vehicles that daily ply the Malahat in 2018.





Cowichan Bay November 2018 - which can be frozen over ...
salt water does not freeze so quickly ... there's a lot of fresh
water here - hence the salmon boats.

As was advertised back in the 1920s … two lovely scenic drives of the Island are linked together … so the same road need not be travelled twice in order to see Victoria and its hinterland – returning home in time for supper or dinner.






At times the weather defeats us all … Cowichan Bay can get frozen … with farm vehicles taking the ice across to Genoa Bay avoiding the road home …





Fog, snow and ice prevail to make life very difficult – that any alternative help is much appreciated … ie not taking the Malahat – which now has a ‘by-law’ recommending that winter tyres are used, and that vehicles should carry chains …








I’m not quite sure where this series is taking me – there will be one more … as I want to note a few things of interest that interact with this series and correct a few minor inconsistencies …




Cowichan Valley looking south


It’s not the easiest place to explain how it worked, might have worked, or did work … or how it all happened to be the wonderful place we know today …








So for now … what will winter this year hold in store for present day Islanders ... but I will continue to enjoy its seafood!



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


36 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Thanks Hilary. I have loved learning more about an area about which I am woefully ignorant, both historially speaking and today. And any day when I learn things is a good one.

Jz said...

ooh, liked scenic drives to run the circuit! Sounds lovely.
Have you done the loop yet?

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
The determination to settle there is quite something... but this is true of all pioneers in all lands. Surmounting the odds, laying a path... Have really enjoyed your series, Hilary! YAM xx

Joanne said...

the challenging weather kept out all but the hardy. But ever intrepid, man kept conquering the territory. Very interesting and so lovely today.
And now we begin our Thanksgiving weekend. I'm thankful for our neighbors to the north!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've taken the ferry ride between the mainland and Vancouver Island. I'm glad we didn't hit ice.

mail4rosey said...

It IS interesting to learn about the history of transportation. It's an area that has certainly evolved in so many different ways. As for the repairs on the track, I say close it down and repair. Nobody wants to be on anything that even resembles 'broken' if they're that high in the air!!

troutbirder said...

We love this island and over a 40 year period traveled there five times from Minnesota to the island. The last visit much changed the touristy effect grew and beaches became more difficult to access et. Overall though many many fond memories....:)

Jacqui Murray said...

Love the quick history, Hilary. Traveling through such cold lands certainly must have been a challenge. You've chronologued it well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - it's been interesting to me ... as the history is living around the area - descendants, the same acreage ... differently farmed etc ... so glad it's interested you ...

@ Jz - the scenic drive is beautiful with lots more stops to make. Believe it or not ... I've been up and down the Malahat plenty, and in and out of Saanich and on the ferry ... but the westerly loop I've never made ...

@ Yam - you're right about all pioneers ... they've got to leave their homeland and then set out and work out what comes next - as you say laying the path for others to follow ...

@ Joanne - the weather here is more 'extreme' for fewer weeks - but can be horrendous - and clambering around, or getting around forest covered moraine land has brought to life how difficult it must have been. The Canadians are great neighbours/friends to have ... I agree with you there ...

@ Diane - today I'm sure all the technology comes into play ... every boat seems to have up to date knowledge about the seas, rock reefs etc.

The longer routes across the various channels have reasonable crossings ... but some like the Hecate Strait have turbid waters and rip currents as the tides race in and out and waters meet ...

@ Rosey - I realised I needed to add in brief notations about the various forms of transport - even if it is very roughly put down - it gets us to remember those not so far off days.

The train stopped running at various times ... and the length of the track has not been used in its entirety for some years. Again - one of those inconsistent bits of knowledge that is difficult to put across ... as it stopped and started ... but the track has to be repaired and have full safety measures in place ... before customers can be allowed back - let alone safety crossings ...

@ Troutbirder - it is a lovely place to visit for whatever reason ... with some stunning opportunities - so can understand you travelling up from Minnesota five times ...

Much is changing now ... and is very visible to me - so must be to islanders ...

@ Jacqui - it is 'chop-chop' history isn't it - still it gives an idea. Down here it's not so cold - but at times can obviously be appalling ... and I know I just wouldn't manage up north ...! Love to visit - but would want to escape pretty quickly ...

Thanks so much for giving me lovely comments to reply to - cheers from a wet Vancouver Island ... Hilary



Lisa said...

I love hearing about this area and wish I could come and visit! Maybe someday soon!

Rhodesia said...

As always another interesting post of which I have learnt so much. I am just dreading the next few months, I will never get used to winters in the Northern hemisphere!! Take care and keep warm, Diane

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

I found this a really good and interesting read, thank you

Out on the prairie said...

Such lovely area. I was amazed how one can travel all over in different ferries. I went my first time after seeing a show on Burtchardt Gardens and had to see the land.

mark koopmans said...

Hilary,

You have my utmost respect for living in Victoria, I swear the three words that strike fear in my heart are Fog, Ice and Snow!!

Hels said...

Butchart Gardens are stunning, as you will show in your next post. But no thanks to "Mr" Butchart who left the quarry looking like a dump. Go Jennie!

Inger said...

It's so beautiful there. I've only been on the American side, exploring the islands of the Puget sound.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary - I LOVE this series and am learning so much about the island that I call 'home'. Fingers crossed that you continue with these posts.
BTW - This is what the Farmers' Almanac has to say about the upcoming year of Island weather:

"Winter will have near-normal temperatures, on average, with above-normal precipitation and snowfall. The coldest periods will be in late December, early January, and late February, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-January and late February. April and May will have below-normal temperatures with above-normal precipitation. Summer will be slightly cooler and drier than normal, with the hottest periods in mid- to late July and early to mid-August. September and October will be warmer and drier than normal"

I like the idea of the warmer and drier September and October. The rest of the prediction sounds like "Island standard" to me.

Liz A. said...

It sure took a lot of commitment to get people moving there. But well worth it, I imagine.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lisa - it's a stunning area ... so I sure hope you can get up in the next few years ....

@ Diane - it's been interesting being around ... as the history is here and 'touchable' ... ie records were kept and updated or can be found. I know challenging winter conditions ... I'm not happy with either ... good luck with yours ...

@ Jo-Anne - pleasure ...

@ Steve - it's such an interesting area ... and I for one didn't realise the sea/land was so fractured with islands and 'fjords' ... Butchart Gardens are stunning and to think where they came from ...

@ Mark - Victoria is just beautiful ... and probably there - the weather is slightly kinder - being surrounded by ocean ... but I too am not a fan of Fog, Ice or Snow ... or any mix thereof ...

@ Hels - Butchart Gardens will be written about sometime soon. Yes it was his wife who had the vision of a garden ... and what a great job she's done too - as have their heirs ...

@ Inger - the islands around Seattle, Olympic Park and in the Puget Sound look to me from the Canadian side to be amazing ... great sailing area ...

@ Donna - thanks ... so glad you're enjoying learning a bit more about this area (just south from you) ... re continuation - time will tell.

The Farmer's Almanac ... the snow came earlier than expected last year - mid December ... and January - Feb ... always seem to be colder (even in England). Last year April and May were hotter than normal, I think ... but we shall see ... I hope the weather is kind to us ... thanks for the thumbs up re the postings ...

@ Liz - yes there had to be a determination to leave Europe and travel here ... still applied after WW1 and WW2 ... now everyone seems happy to be in Canada ...

Thanks so much for visiting - remembering your visits, or commenting on the posts ... I always enjoy your interaction ... cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

We take transport for granted these days forgetting what people had to endure in the past. Now we complain of leaves on the line!

Pat Hatt said...

Transportation had to be such a pain back then, we sure don't know how good we have it sometimes. Snow and all that crap can sure still slow things down though. Ugg to the white stuff. Great he got back to the dock before it sunk.

Patsy said...

We might have a lot to say about our weather in the UK, and at times envy those with different climates, but I think we do pretty well really. We rarely have it so bad we can't drive don to the shops or whatever – and when we have a spell of good weather it's rarely so hot we can't go out and enjoy it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - we do take transport too easily ... we're very lucky to be living in this age. Leaves on the line ... they may have that problem here when the trains are re-introduced ...

@ Pat - of course any new development would have been good news for them ... and they seemed to be happy to try most things, which then took off quite quickly. We are lucky. Snow and ice - that white stuff is not my favourite ... mind you the wet season has appeared here. Wasn't it fortunate the captain got the ferry to the dock before the cars and passengers went down too ...

@ Patsy - yes that's one thing about the weather here ... it is similar to that in England ... but more extreme and with perhaps not so obvious extremes - as they fluctuate in and out quite quickly ... and it can get unbearably hot ... that's what I found about the summer or hot spell earlier in the year - too hot!

It's life isn't it - the weather gets to us ... thanks for visiting ... cheers from a very wet Cowichan Valley ... Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It seems to me that you've rather fallen in love with the area, perhaps because you're a lovely flower that manages to "bloom wherever it's planted." I'm glad you're enjoying learning about your adopted land, and even more glad that you're sharing it with us. It would have to take a very hearty pioneer to tackle and survive the cold, semi-inhospitable land as it was back then. (I'm not even sure I could tackle it now!)

Have a super weekend!

Rhonda Albom said...

Oh, that sounds quite cold. How difficult to get around depending on the time of year and the terrain.

M. Denise C. said...

Those trains looked a bit treacherous. But the seafood looks superb! Cheers, D

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - yes ... well it's very interesting - as one can 'see the history' - it's all available as the Brits have always been good recorders of life ... once the printing press came in and the Industrial Revolution came along. So here they've been able to piece together history ... which is just brilliant. So I am enjoying that side of life ... as too the friendly opportunities that are around - farmer's markets, small farms, innovative ideas in restaurants - as well as maintaining life as it was.

Delighted that you're enjoying the various posts about life here - then and now ... as I am finding out about the area. Though I am glad I arrived in this century and not in the 19th or early 20th centuries ... like you I'd have not coped back then.

@ Rhonda - those early pioneers must have really struggled ... it's a rugged, ragged coastline ... and in winter - perfectly awful ... until skis came along, I guess ...

@ Denise - the trestle bridge was the standard way of building bridges in the 1800s ... as they've lasted the test of time ... I guess they're considered safe!?! They are amazing to see close up. The seafood is excellent - love it ...

Thanks for visiting - cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating. Can you imagine traversing from one point to another back in the day?

Sherry Ellis said...

Vancouver is an interesting place. My favorite part of it is Butchart Gardens. So beautiful!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - I certainly couldn't walk to Victoria from here ... I might manage Duncan - 5 miles ... but then I'd need a lift back! The thought horrifies me ... but thank goodness people were pioneers ...

@ Sherry - Vancouver Island is beautiful ... and so is Butchart Gardens - but they are packed!!! I have to do my write up on the Gardens sometime ...

Thanks to you both - good to see you - but walking now or seeing Gardens would not be on - it's been bucketing for two days solid!! Cheers Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

I would enjoy this route but only in the comforts of today. I need my heater and air conditioner! Thank you continuing to share this area with us. It's so beautiful!

Elsie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elsie - oh I agree ... I'm very happy with my 21st century creature comforts ... but it's a stunning area - cheers Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

Travel is always such an interesting subject and you certainly do it justice Hilary. I like the bit about the man on watch who saw the water rising. He probably saved a great many lives.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Juliet - being able to piece together some of the history has been a fascinating addition to being able to travel around here ... it's something I've really relished. Yes - thank goodness for the 'watchman' in this case - those waters would have been freezing and deadly ... cheers Hilary

DMS said...

The seafood looks delicious! I am realizing how little I know about the area you are living in. I am learning so much from you. The ferry sounds like a pleasant way to get around- amazing how far things have come over the past hundred+ years. :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jess- yes I'm aleady missing the seafood and vino ... but it was necessary I came back to little old UK ... and I'll continue with moreabout the settling of the area. Cheers for now - Hilary