"History isn’t a myth-making discipline, it’s a myth-busting discipline ..."

Sir Richard Evans FBA

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Black Family

The Black family settled in Whonnock in 1910. John Stuart Black (sitting centre) had retired from the HBCo. His wife Kate (Catherine Augusta Cormack) to the left with sons Charles (at the rear) and Farris (front). Next to Charles is daughter Helen and the younger daughter Jean is sitting on the right. The gentleman behind her (the photographer) has not yet been identified. (Photo courtesy Shirley Ryan, Helen's daughter)
Kate was a founding member of the Ladies Club that built the old community hall (the Ladies Hall) in Whonnock. She was very active in the community and the United Church. Both Helen and Jean were employed at the Whonnock post office at some time. The Black family suffered a serious financial setback by the collapse of Dominion Trust just before the First World War but kept their land and home in Whonnock. Charles served overseas in that war. John Stuart Black is buried at the Whonnock Cemetery. After his death in 1932 the family moved away from Whonnock.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Turgoose (Sanichton)

It is not commonly known that after the collapse of the co-operative Ruskin Mills in 1899 and its surrender to Heaps some members regrouped into another co-op incorporated in Ruskin in 1899 under the name The Industrial Union; one that focussed on agriculture. The charter members of The Industrial Union were: Selby-Hele + wife), Kinraide, Morrow, Charlton, Haycock, (Ms) Donnelly, Boissevain + wife. They tried to establish a permanent farm on the Fraser in the Boundary Bay area but could not get the land they wanted at an acceptable price. It seems that the co-op then moved its operation to Vancouver Island. Under Turgoose the 1900-1901 Henderson Directory listed the Industrial Union (Selby-Hele president, Kinraide vice-president, Charlton secretary) as well as the names of Boisevain, Kinraide and Morrow (these three perhaps doing farm work). Also listed at Turgoose was Charles Whetham (JP). Whetham’s close association with the co-op movement in Ruskin is well-known but his presence in Turgoose is a surprise. Further information wanted.

Whonnock Failure

We know that the old Whonnock general store burned down in March 1916 when Mr. Methot was the store keeper. Click here to refresh your memory. I always wondered if Methot had purchased or leased the store from Whiting. A few days ago I came across a little note in the Coquitlam Star of 8 August 1914 under the heading "Whonnock Failure"
Mr. R.S. Whiting, a leading merchant and storekeeper of Whonnock, last week made an assignment of his business for the benefit of his creditors. The Westminster Trust Company are the assignees.
Mr. Methot, it appears, was also the owner of the store and Postmaster Whiting would have moved the post office from the store to its present site a year before the fire and not after the fire.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The second home of the Godwins

Recently Paul Godwin, son of Eric Godwin seen running on this picture, visited Whonnock to see where his dad made his first steps and where his grandparents, George Godwin and Dorothy Purdon had lived. George Godwin was the author of the book The Eternal Forest despised by the Whonnock residents. Click here to read the Whonnock Notes discussing the book.

The old-timers knew that the Godwins lived on 268th Street where today the Carlsons have their home but not that they later moved to another place in Whonnock. The assessment records tell us that they only paid the taxes on that property on 1913 and 1914 but not before 1916 did they return to England--George to fight in France. Where did they live between 1914 and their departure in 1916? Paul’s visit made me look again at the assessment records and I discovered that they moved to 9352 Spilsbury Street. That is where the house on the photograph stood and where that young Eric was running. Eric and the house are now gone but there is still a Douglas fir growth behind the new house. It certainly was a more convenient place—a larger house and close to the railroad station and an easier walk to the general store and the post office.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Assessment records show that in 1910 Edward Watson purchased the Spilsbury home and 70 acres of land of the SE part of  DL 326. Ashton W. Spilsbury kept the western part of 34 acres. The 70 acres were repossessed by Spilsbury in 1922 and were sold by creditors. The house must have been adjacent to River Road.  We  don't know when the house was demolished. Jim Spilsbury puts the focus for the monetary troubles of his father on the Watsons who had stopped paying for the 70 acres they bought (war-time moratorium of debt). But Spilsbury also had to pay municipal taxes on property he still owned in Whonnock beginning with the 34 acres left of DL 326. In addition  Spilsbury owned  the SW 1/4 of Section 1,  Township 12. In 1912 he subdivided the northern half of the 160 acres into four 5-acre lots (numbered from 1 to 4) and six 10-acre lots (numbers 5 to 10) obviously trying to sell. Beginning in 1911 he also owned three lots in DL 329, sub div F:  Lot 1 (4.46 acres) Lot 5 (7.83 acres) and Lot 6 (.28 acres).  DL 329 was subdivided in 1910 and it seems that AWS took his share of the land when it became available. It seemed a good investment at that time but unfortunately after a boom, the economy of British Columbia took a sharp downturn. Many went bankrupt in that pre-war recession and AWS survived barely.   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


It is generally believed that in 1891 Major-General John Twigg (correctly Twigge) together with his brother Samuel Knox Twigge purchased District Lot 438, a parcel of around 150 acres at the point where Stave River meets the Fraser.
It is also believed that it was Major-General John Twigge who allowed the Canadian Co-operative Society to build and operate the Ruskin Mill on a few acres of their property. It may well be, however, that Samuel Knox Twigge was the the one to do so, because the assessment and collection records of the period only show his name until 1905 when he sold the DL 438 to E. H. Heaps & Co. The S.K. Twigge and family did not live in Ruskin but in Vancouver where he also had property.
Samuel Knox Twigge died in January 1906 leaving behind his wife Frances (née Vance) who may have returned to the United Kingdom after her husband's death (?).
Samuel and Frances Twigge had a daughter named Sidney Ann Jane.  The part of the road from Ruskin to Stave Falls through the Twigge property was named "Sidney Road" (now part of 287th Street) after her. In August 1910 Sidney Twigge married Lieutenant John Gibson Kenworthy and moved to a 17,000 acre ranch in the Chilcoten. In 1914 Kenworthy (see photo) left his wife and a young son behind on the ranch to fight in the war in Europe. He died in April 1915 and his wife eventually sold the ranch. She left for the UK around 1923.
Another daughter of S.K. Twigge was Mary Mabel Twigge who married Charles E.W. Johnson in 1896. She died at Alkali Lake in 1934.