Raincoast Chronicles 17

Raincoast Chronicles 17

by Howard White (Editor)




Founder/Editor Howard White predicts that Raincoast Chronicles 17 will come to be known as the "bad medicine" issue. From the queasy feeling that pioneer medicine inspires in Margaret McKirdy's "The Doctor Book" to Robin Ward's profile of Francis Rattenbury - British Columbia's favourite architect - whose chequered career ended in a classic "Agatha Christie" murder, to epidemiologist Douglas Hamilton's "The Great Pox," which casts a horrifying perspective on the small pox epidemics that decimated BC's native peoples, this Raincoast Chronicles treads lightly the thin line between life and death.

But 17's lighter side is just as strong. It "rushes into history" the bygone days of Opportunities For Youth grants, as Mark Bostwick recalls guiding hikers onto the newly-christened West Coast Trail in the summer of '72. Petra Watson celebrates Victoria's ground-breaking photographer Hannah Maynard, whose portraits of BC life from 1862 to 1912 have become invaluable artifacts of provincial history. Howard White takes us to the early days of the Sechelt Nation, when the great wooden city Kalpalin gave Pender Harbour a bigger population than it has today. Native history and legend are recalled in Gilbert Joe's tale of the last battle between the Kwakiutl and the Sechelt, and in Dick Hammond's eerie true story of two hunters pitted against "the-deer-that-is-not-a-deer." Along with Lynn Ove Mortensen on August Schnarr, Jack Springs' poignant tale of unrequited love on a fishboat, Paul Lawson's poem "The Rock Bandits" and Arthur Mayse's don't-try-this-at-home recipe for "Donkey Boiler Coffee," Raincoast Chronicles 17 is truly an issue to remember.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550171426
Publisher: Harbour Publishing Company, Limited
Publication date: 01/01/1996
Series: Raincoast Chronicles Series , #17
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.24(d)

About the Author

Howard White was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC. He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens'), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria. In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon.

Table of Contents

Introduction Howard White
"Ratz": Francis Mawson Rattenbury, Architect Robin Ward
Opportunities for Youth, 1972, and the West Coast Trail Mark Bostwick
Hannah Maynard: Pioneer British Columbia Photographer Petra Watson
Donkey Boiler Coffee Arthur "Bill" Mayse
The Great Pox Douglas Hamilton
The August Schnarr Family of Bute Inlet Lynn Ove Mortensen
The Rock Bandits Paul Lawson
The Deer??? Dick Hammond
Kalpalin - an Aboriginal Metropolis Howard White
The Story of Ukahl Gilbert Joe
Please Do Not Touch the Gardenias Jack Springs
The Doctor Book Margaret McKirdy


When Raincoast Chronicles started courtesy of a federal youth grant in 1972, we raised eyebrows by treating the 1950s as history, long before they had acquired a sufficiently sepia-toned air of antiquity in many peoples minds. In this issue we rush another period into history - that capricious paisley-trimmed decade of our own beginnings. On page 10 Mark Bostwick recalls an unforgettable summer spent rediscovering Vancouver Islands West Coast Trail in 1972, courtesy of a federal government grant from the notorious Opportunities For Youth program. His humorous and nostalgic account looks with fresh wonder at a period when leaders could respond to the challenge of displaced youth, not by increasing jail space, but by paying the kids to go out and create their own jobs. Plenty of that seed money fell on fallow ground - but as booming recreational use of the West Coast Trail and a greying Raincoast Chronicles attest - some of it took hold.

As architect of the Parliament Buildings, the Vancouver Courthouse-cum-Art Gallery, the Empress Hotel and other turnof-the-century BC landmarks, Francis Rattenbury has a claim to being BC's favourite architect. On page 5, Robin Ward -one of BC's favourite writers on architecture - critiques one of Rattenbury's less-known works, his own family home in Oak Bay, and in so doing provides a delightfully irreverent commentary on Rattenbury's brilliant and scandalous career.

In trying to record pioneer experiences, something which has bedeviled us from the first is the invisibility of women. We know they were there standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their men, but when it came time to record the scene for posterity, often as not they were left out of the picture. One glorious exception is Hannah Maynard, who solved the problem of being left out of the picture by taking her own. The tag "Maynard photograph" is stamped all over BC's historical face, but what of the woman behind the tens? On page 20 curator Petra Watson gives a rare glimpse of this self-taught pioneer photographer, whose busy Victoria studio recorded every facet of BC life for four crucial decades from 1862 to 1912.

Among the primary factors which shaped BC are the smallpox epidemics which reduced aboriginal populations to insignificance - normally viewed as an unavoidable natural occurrence. Were the plagues really a pioneering form of biological warfare manipulated by colonial administrators to guarantee BC would come out of the colonial period white? On page 29 epidemiologist Douglas Hamilton takes a closer look at this growing controversy.

No First Nation was more severely affected by smallpox than the Sechelt Nation, whose aboriginal metropolis at Kalpalin (Pender Harbour) made them one of the great powers of the northwest coast. On page 57 Howard White, a long-time resident of Pender Harbour, ponders the ruins of Kalpalin and fills in some gaps in the history of this littlestudied group.

Some issues of Raincoast Chronicles have been planned around themes - logging, fishing, early Vancouver, forgotten villages - while for others unplanned themes have emerged after the fact in the form of nicknames - the soft logging issue (No. 6), the E.J. Hughes issue (No. 10), etc. Maybe this one will become known as the bad medicine issue. Two of the articles deal with aboriginal health issues, while a third, "Tbe Doctor Book" by Margaret McKirdy (page 74), revisits the day when "felons" - painful infections under the fingernail - had to be treated at home with the advice of The Doctor Book: "Call the patients attention to something at the other side of the room and while he is looking away press down hard with the knife ... he will jerk and thus make the cut long enough. . . " McKirdy goes on to explore not just the vastly changed world of family health care since pioneer times, but also the changed role of family values in this beautifully written piece.

Raincoast Chronicles 17 is rounded out with Lynn Ove Mortensen's biography of August Schnarr, the legendary Knight Inlet trapper (page 41), Paul Lawsor's poem "The Rock Bandits," a "recipe" for donkey boiler coffee by the late Arthur Mayse, and two short amusing stories by Jack Springs and Dick Hammond.

It was good coffee. A man with big feet could walk on it. It was the best coffee I ever tasted in my life, even if you did have to fish bits of burnt twig and charcoal out of it every now and then. But it had a taste, I think maybe from the quick, really savage boil in the white hot steam, that no other coffee anywhere else ever got, so we loved it.

Around about eleven o'clock in the morning when you were all tired out, ready for your break, you began to think about your lunch and, even more than your lunch, you thought about your coffee. Loggers' coffee in those days wasn't made on a stove at all and wasn't put in a thermos. They made it in the firebox of the donkey engine. The firebox is where they would have a roaring fire to keep steam in the boiler, because everything ran by steam in those years.

The loggers would be waiting and waiting and waiting, and then 11:30 finally came and the engineer would blow his whistle; he would go woooo woo - one long and one short - and that meant lunch time. So everybody would drop their gloves and head to the donkey engine.

As soon as that whistle blew the fireman, whose job it was to stoke the fires, would start making the coffee. On the donkey engine deck he would have an old soup box or a big milk container. In it he'd store a big bag of coffee and a lot of half-pound tobacco tins for the loggers to drink their coffee from, we didn't have cups.

He would take a great big lard pail, one of the great big storage pails that holds two or three gallons of water, off a hook and he'd reach for what he called his injector hose. This is one of the hoses that had hot, hot steam from the donkey boiler. He'd
put some spring water in his bucket first and he'd take the injector hose and woosh, he'd send a big jet of hot steam into it and it would bring it right from cold to boiling in nothing flat.

Then the important thing, he'd take about two pounds of coffee, which is quite a lot of coffee, and he'd dump it into this furiously boiling water. Then he'd take what they called the slice bar, one of the steel pokers that they used for poking up the fire in the firebox, and he'd hang his pail with his coffee makings on one end of the slice bar and he'd ram it right into the white hot donkey boiler.

In a second it would be blowing steam all over the place, it boiled so quickly. He'd hold it there for a while and let it have a good bubble, good boil. The heat was terrible, his face would be all screwed up from the heat. Then he'd set the pail on the donkey deck and he'd grab another of these bags of cold water, drinking water, and he'd pour about two quarts into the coffee; that was to settle it down. And then the coffee was ready for drinking.

The fellows would all swarm on the donkey engine and grab the empty tobacco cans and they'd take a dip into the big steaming bucket of coffee and get a half-pound can of coffee, which is quite a lot. And there'd be canned milk, "canned cow" we called it, and sugar in bags and we'd fix our coffee the way we wanted it. I liked mine quite sweet without very much milk in it.

Then we'd all sit with our lunches - we brought our lunches from camp if we were working out on a job. We called them "nose bags" because they were a brown paper bag with, oh, about four sandwiches in it, four big heavy sandwiches made of some meat or other, whatever was going in camp. And there'd be a great big piece of pie, about a quarter of an apple pie. That would be your dessert and a couple of jam sandwiches and some cookies. That made a pretty hefty lunch but we were hungry.

We'd been working hard all morning so we were ready to eat. We'd open our lunch bags and start in on our sandwiches and then we'd reach for our coffee and nothing tasted as good as that first drink of what we called donkey boiler coffee after a hard mornings work.

While we were eating, the big ravens that come around every logging operation in the woods, would come looking for food and wed throw them scraps of our sandwiches. Everyone was quite relaxed and happy. And we'd have maybe a refill of coffee and some fellows would even have two refills of coffee. Id give a lot for a can of it right now.

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