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

Sir Richard Evans FBA

Sunday, December 4, 2016

School Bus 1946


Riding down to Haney
We ride the Whonnock “Flier,”
No running boards, no headlights,
No motor and no tires;
No motor and no spark
Still less co-operation.
The bus won’t use good gas and oil
It runs on reputation.
We have to ride this relic
Five days in every week.
We can have a seat but prefer to stand,
It’s safer so to speak.
The seats of lath and slivers,
Are frightful to behold;
The chick-wire windows let in drafts
And boy! It’s really cold.
Long may its rust spots glitter
Long may its motor cease
Long may it run the “Junk Heap Trail”
Then forever rest in peace.

Vera Hodson 1946

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Robbery at Ruskin

It is generally believed that in 1904 Billy Miner robbed the CPR train at Silverdale and that this happened right in front of the Donatelli house at the end of today’s Donatelli Avenue. According to one story, Mrs. Donatelli  pushed the children away from the windows because she saw that the men had guns. A more exotic version tells us that she pushed the children to the floor when shots rang out. 

A newly discovered interview with Nat Scott, the train engineer of the ill-fated train, contradicts that story. Since the engineer was right there when it happened and the interview was held immediately after the train arrived in Vancouver that night the article must surely be given more credence that any other accounts of the incident. The engineer was told to stop the train first at a place out of sight of the Donatelli home, There they left the passenger cars. Then the train moved on to Ruskin where the actual robbery took place. 

Click here to read a transcript of the article about the interview published in Daily Colonist of 13 September 1904. 

Click here for the story as published on The Ormsby Review. 

Below is a copy of a map shown in the book Interred with Their Bones, Bill Miner in Canada, by the late Peter Grauer, self-published in 2006. (1) Silver Creek, shown on the map as the place where the passenger coaches were left, is actually named Jamieson Creek. The bridge across Jamieson Creek would have been where today McLean Street crosses the rail tracks. Silver Creek was the original name of today’s Silverdale Creek close to Mission and far from Silverdale. (2) The actual looting took place near Heaps mill in Ruskin. (3) From Ruskin, without any wagons attached, the engine sped away to Whonnock. Bill Miner and his friends were dropped off at “the creek just this side of Whonnock siding.” That was at Cook Creek, right at the Whonnock wharf. There they “borrowed” a rowboat to cross the Fraser and vanished in the night.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ruskin Hall opened in the fall of 1924 -- not 1922

That the year 1922 shown on the front of the Ruskin Hall should in fact be 1924 is already evident from contemporary newspapers.
Now the minutes of the Regular Maple Ridge Council Meeting of October 4th 1924 show that again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Whonnock Notes No. 23: Letters from Mahonia Ranche

Mahonia Ranche, 1889. City of Burnaby Archives, Photo ID 477-896
Murdoch, Hannah, and Agnes Kirby settled in Whonnock in 1911.
The record collection of the Langley Centennial Museum in Fort Langley holds about thirty letters written between 1888 and 1895 by Murdoch and Hannah Kirby to sister Agnes, who then still lived with their parents in England.
BC Booklook writes: "The homesteading letters of Hannah Kirby and her brother Murdoch reveal the delights and drudgery of Fraser Valley pioneering at “Mahonia Ranche.” 
Click HERE to download and read transcriptions of the letters in Whonnock Notes No. 23. Or pick up a printed version at the Whonnock post office (Only $5.00). The link to the BC Booklook article is HERE

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Whonnock Notes No 22 - In memory of Those who Fell

This plaque, dedicated in Whonnock in 1921, showing the names of  soldiers who fell in the war of 1914-1918 was once attached above the main entrance of the Whonnock Memorial Hall. Whonnock Notes No. 22 contains documents relating to the ten men named on this memorial plaque 

Messrs. Fletcher, Garner, Hackney, Harris and Sorenson are known to be residents of Whonnock at one time. Unfortunately that is not the case with Messrs. Davin, Hanna(h), Fraser, Snelling and Wilson. Any additional information about their connection with Whonnock would be welcome. 
Click HERE to download and read this issue of Whonnock Notes. Printed copy at Sue's: $5.00.