Looking Back

Speech written by Guest of Honour Jean Bradley for presentation at the 2017 Fall Fair:

 

Fall Fair Speech – August 2017

Thank you to the Fall Fair Committee for giving me the opportunity to open the fair this year.  I can’t be there in person, but it’s an honour that I very much appreciate and will be thinking of all of you today.  

I first became really interested in taking part in the Fall Fair around the mid 60’s when I realized Pender Island would be my home forever, and I wanted to truly become part of the community.  To live in a community you need to take an interest in all aspects of it and what better introduction to Pender than the Fall Fair…  I simply phoned Mrs. Jaimie Scott, convener of the canning and baking and offered my services.  It was an area which truly interested me and my help was needed and accepted.  

In the 1960’s, the Fall Fair was held alternately between the Port Wash Hall and the Hope Bay Hall.  My first experience was at the Port Wash Hall.  Neither hall had hot water so the wood stove had to be lit and large containers of water heated on the stove – a very hot endeavor for sure.  Hot water was necessary to wash all of the lunch dishes for the Women’s Institute afternoon tea.  As well, there weren’t any indoor toilets which made for interesting times.  Port Washington Hall had a two seater for women and one for the men.  That was okay in summer as it was light enough to check for spiders and a clear path to follow.  The toilets were a great place to share a chat and a cigarette for many of us.  At the Hope Bay hall we used the facilities at Corbett’s Store – which were right over the rocks – draughty but functional as they stuck out over the sea.

When Port Wash held the fair, the livestock judging was held in fields of what is now Old Orchard Farm and when it was Hope Bay’s turn the livestock judging  was held in Laurie Auchterlonie’s fields.   As well, there were games of chance like tombola at Hope Bay but not at Port Wash.  Of course, all kinds of gambling was shut down eventually.  I suppose the powers that be were concerned that we would become addicted gamblers with our bets of 15 or 25 cents per game.  The fair moved from those two venues as the population grew.

About 1976 we moved the Fair to the Old School at what is now the James Auchterlonie Centre.  There was hot running water and flush toilets – hooray!  And much more needed space to display entrees properly. That year the fair was opened by the Pony Club, under the tutelage of Chris Wade and Ralph Sketch, leading a mini – parade.  Although the pony club was made up of mostly girls, my son John and nephew Randy led the parade and one of them drove Ralph’s pony and trap.  We were concerned that we would not be able to fill the new space but we did, especially once we heard the creaking of Victor Menzies wheelbarrow coming up the hill.  It was filled with his fruit and vegetables and Vivian’s baking and canning.

We were always concerned with keeping the crowds on site after viewing the entrees.  That year we had a number of the island men who had been loggers, including my husband Wally, create kid- sized chairs and other items to be auctioned off for a whopping $5.00.   We had a coconut shy and my husband was lucky enough to win a half crate of coconuts while I won a canary donated by Gordon and Muriel Wallace.  Our neighbours were happy with the win as coconuts were given away to all and sundry, and the bird found a new home at Maggie Mennie’s after being traumatized by our ferocious and apparently hungry cat.  

It was either in 1979 or 1980 that we moved to the new school where we were able to display our ever growing exhibits very nicely.  The gym looked wonderful with hooked rugs, quilts, photographs and paintings on display boards with space for people to truly appreciate those fine works.  That year we could have entries of butter and eggs as they could be refrigerated overnight too.  

The entries had grown so much that year that the judges began their evaluations the night before the fair.  Judges had to be found for all sections and conveners were responsible for finding overnight accommodation for their judges.  At that time judges were paid $25 and all of their duties had to be done quickly and on time.   This could be a long process as in baking and canning all entries were tasted except for fish and tomatoes.  

That year as I recall we first took entries of beer and wine.  Unfortunately, the judges and conveners, one of whom was my father, got carried away and didn’t spit out the beverages after they tasted them. The entrants were quite incensed to have so little of their exhibits returned to them.  My father went to bed for the afternoon.

We were always looking for something just a little unusual to spice up the baking and canning section.  We were able to get sponsors for different prizes – I enjoyed taking Norris Amies’ donation for the date and nut loaf.  As well, we held a contest for the best old time cake recipe – Grannie Taylor’s Victoria sponge won.

The new school provided much needed space and shade for livestock judging too – many of the exhibits came from Salt Spring and Mike Byron and his agriculture students.  It was ideal for other outside entertainments like a dunk tank – a great draw when the RCMP officers volunteered to be targets.  We had other attractions like the Naden Band and the Caravan Stage Company a travelling show whose wagons were pulled by wonderful Clydesdales.

When the school needed a new roof and other repairs, the Fall Fair was offered the use of Earle Hastings’ field at Pender Island international airport and helicopter pad.  We were there for two years.   The field provided a much needed stop - gap measure.  We moved to the Community Hall after two years where the fair has been held ever since.  

This year’s theme, A Simple Life, is one that I have thought of seriously.  When my father bought the farm in 1947 there was no electricity on the islands, and we didn’t have running water, so life was anything but simple – it was hard and simple tasks were time consuming.  We had 26 milking cows which needed milking twice a day.  The barn had to be mucked out, the cows washed and their output entered in a log book.   Milk buckets and the separator needed to be washed and sterilized.  All the necessary water had to be heated on the kitchen’s wood stove. Cream was shipped to Salt Spring Creamery once a week which made us $15 per month. 

Simple household tasks were anything but simple or easy.  Laundry days involved warming the water on the stove and then bucketing it into the washing machine and rinse tubs.  Our washing machine was powered by a gas engine equipped with a foot pedal to start and stop it.  Everything was either dried on the clothesline or on the rack above the stove.   All lamps had to have their chimneys cleaned daily and filled with oil for evening use.  Housecleaning was not easy either with no vacuum cleaner but we did have our Bissell carpet sweeper and plenty of elbow grease. 

The battery operated radio was our main source of entertainment.  Batteries could be recharged at Corbett’s store.  We three kids loved The Cisco Kid and The Lone Ranger the best.  The school had a battery-operated radio too and we listened on many afternoons to “Radio School on the Air.”   Mrs. Dorothy Grimmer wanted us to keep up on world events so we heard part of the royal wedding when Elizabeth and Phillip were married.  As well, we heard the broadcast when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. 

Another source of amusement for us was Boat Days.   The CPR boats, the Princess Mary and Norah brought in the mail and supplies four times a week and allowed us to ship our products off island.    These vessels were equipped with animal pens for livestock shipping: our sheep and pigs were herded onto the ship and then unloaded at Canada Packers in Vancouver.  

I guess that life was simpler in some respects, but in many respects a simple life isn’t so simple.  We had fewer distractions and we certainly appreciated any events which were fun especially the fair.  

After being involved with the fair for many years, I realize the work and dedication that goes into putting on such a worthwhile event, and I want to acknowledge all of the workers both past and present, especially my dear friend Doreen York.  We always had tremendous fun working to put on the best fair we could.

 I believe that to truly live in a community you have to take an interest in it, work for it and with the people who live in it.  Only then will you truly know your community, become part of it and develop a love for it.  So be a joiner, check the Pender Post and see where you will best fit in and what you might like to do.  This is a great community – enjoy it and help make it better with your ideas and energy as I have. 

Thank you once again to the Fall Fair committee for this honour, and I hope that each and every one of you enjoys the fair.

 

 

Selected archival notes pertaining to the Pender Islands:

 

Ten did not return by Alan Livingstone MacLeod, author of "Remembered in Bronze and Stone, Canada's Great War Memorial Statuary"


 

Sixty men of Pender Island -- from a population of just 200 -- "did their bit" in the Great War of 1914-18. Ten remained in the battlefields of Flanders and France for evermore.

 

Lists of the names of a community's fallen are always intriguing; the Pender Islands' list is no exception. It turns out that not one of the lost Pender Islanders was a native-born British Columbian. Only one had been born a Canadian. Most had begun life in 'the old country', England, Scotland or Wales. Curiously, most of the Islanders enlisted very early in the war, a majority of them in the first month or so. Four have no known grave: they are remembered on the Menin Gate monument at Ypres.

 

One name that leaps off the page is John Schloesser. Schloesser (or Schlosser as the name is sometimes written) is a German name. For obvious reasons very few Schloessers/Schlossers -- just four -- are included among the more than six hundred thousand men who volunteered for service in the 1914-18 war against Germany. None of the Schloessers who enlisted was a John. Only one Canada Corps Schloesser died in the war: Albert Schloesser, a Philadelphia native who enlisted very early, 23 September 1914, at Valcartier. Private Schloesser was 25 years of age when he was listed as missing in action in the 16th Battalion's 23 April 1915 attack at St. Julien. His body was never recovered and identified: Pte. Schloesser is among the 6,928 soldiers of the Canada Corps without a known grave who are commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

 

When war erupted in 1914 Lewis Henry Shapter returned to England and joined the Suffolk Regiment's 3rd Battalion. Captain Shapter was killed early in the war, 31 January 1915. He is buried Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois Grenier.

 

Born in Chatham, Ontario, William Ross Brackett worked as a teamster at Pender when war broke out in August 1914. Gunner Brackett died of wounds (poison gas) 19 August 1917, one among many Canadian casualties of the Battle for Hill 70. He is buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, 6 km west of Bethune. 

 

Claud Proctor, a native of Knebworth, Hertfordshire, England was a 24-year-old carpenter when he enlisted at Victoria in October 1915. Pte. Proctor died of shrapnel wounds 10 August 1917 while fighting in the 102nd (Northern British Columbia) Battalion. He is buried at Bruay Communal Cemetry Extension, 6 km SW of Bethune.

 

Hugh Glynn Baker died fighting in the 7th Battalion at Second Ypres 24 April 1915. Another Englander, born at Batcombe, Somerset, Baker was a 34-year-old farmer when he enlisted only days after the guns began firing in Belgium. Pte. Baker is another of the 6,928 soldiers of the Canada Corps who died in Belgium and have no known grave.

 

Another Islander who enlisted very early in the war, William Uniacke Perry Powell was born at Exeter, Devonshire. Second Lieutenant Powell was serving in the Royal Flying Corps when he died at age 26, 20 November 1916. He is buried at Colwall (St. James the Great) Churchyard, Hertforshire.

 

A labourer and native of Thurso, Scotland, James Hunter enlisted in the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion in November 1914. Pte. Hunter was 45 years old when he was killed 19 April 1916. Without a known grave, he too is remembered on the Menin Gate.

 

Richard Evans was a Welshman, born at Caernarfonshire, working as a miner and living at Port Washington, North Pender Island, when the broke out in 1914. Another Islander who enlisted early, Pte. Evans died 21 July 1918 while serving in the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. He is buried at Wailly Orchard British Cemetery, a short distance from the city of Arras.

 

Born at Isle Abbott, Somerset, Harry Hayward Symes was a 34-year-old Vancouver police constable when war erupted in 1914. Like so many other Pender Islanders, Symes enlisted early, 23 September 1914 at Valcartier. Lance-Corporal Symes lies in a war grave, albeit one far removed from the Western Front: at Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery. Symes died 25 July 1920, presumably a victim of war wounds or disease.

 

Godfrey William Walker, a towboat operator, was yet another early enlistee in the war. Born at Bromley, greater London, he had been educated at Rugby School. He too went to Valcartier, Quebec, to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 23 September 1914. Pte. Walker was also an early casualty of war: he died at Second Ypres, 22 April 1915. Like so many others the good soldier Walker has no known grave. He is remembered on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

 

 

 

Submission to the Pender Post, April 1989, 28 years ago

 

PENDER ISLAND MUSEUM SOCIETY:

 

It has been a while since the Society has given an account of itself! We were sorry to have to postpone the Annual Meeting and Pot Luck Supper due to the freezing weather. When you are reading this, the Annual Meeting will have taken place and the Society will be on its way towards another push at exciting your interest.

 

There comes a time in the affairs of any society when certain events will cause the group to re-think its situation. This happened in January when one of the museum board members resigned and formed another group, The Port Washington Village Heritage Society. On the same day, but for entirely different reasons, our President, Doreen York, retired before the end of her term. Peter Campbell was appointed Acting-President.

 

Also in January the "Pender Lender" library decided not to wait for any action that may be forth-coming from the Pender Island Hall Society concerning the Andrusiak Report regarding the need for more community multi-purpose space. They decided to go ahead with their own plans for a new library. By now, you should have been well-informed about those plans, thanks to the abundance of paper circulating these islands!

 

These various plans may in themselves be commendable but the Museum Society feels that it would be far better for the three or four groups who need more community space to join together for the purpose of fund-raising. DO THINK about that!

 

Although the Museum does not have a building, we do have a project planned that can involve EVERYONE at very minimum expense. Through the combined efforts of our "Native People" committee, the Islands Trust and the Capital Regional District the property along the western edge of the canal, north and south of the canal bridge, will be retained under the jurisdiction of the Heritage Properties Branch of the British Columbia government. A letter from John Adams, Assistant Director, South Coast Region, Heritage Properties Branch confirms this. His branch will be pleased to co-operate with the museum in its effort to erect a suitable display marking the site of the "Pender Dig".

 

Our Society has been accepted for membership in the B.C. Museums Association. One of their officers visited us recently and imparted valued information for keeping us on the right track!

 

We wish here to give a very generous VOTE OF THANKS to all those Directors who are now retiring from the Board. As well as Doreen York, who has been our President since the founding of this Society in 1986, we acknowledge our efficient Treasurer Joan Bannister. Ora Symes and Bunty England have been appreciated too, for their good advice. Our thanks have already been extended to June Frache for her enthusiasm and imagination. 

 

Next month we will welcome new members to the Board. Won't YOU join us by taking or renewing a 1989 membership? May we have your "GRASS ROOT" support? INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIPS are $2.00, FAMILY MEMBERSHIPS are $3.00 - Elizabeth Campbell 
 

Submissions to the Pender Post, November 1989

 

Museum Society

 

Although there is little to report on progress in locating a permanent home for the museum some more artifacts have been added to the Museum’s growing collection during the past month. Glen Grimmer has donated three pieces of shale that he uncovered while excavating roadways on various parts of our island. Clearly defined in the shale are several petrified sea shells which predate the upthrusting of the seabed which formed our island over 25,000 years ago.  Thank you Glenn.

 

One of our valued enlarged photographs shows the Auchterlonie children, circa 1912, going off to school. Each is clutching a large pail containing their lunch. The museum has obtained an early large pail of the exact type shown in photograph. This particular lard pail was produced by David Spenser Ltd. - an early department store chain in B.C. which was subsequently purchased by T. Eaton in the late 1940s. -  Elizabeth Campbell

 

Port Washington Village Heritage Society

 

(Present day note:  This was a fairly short-lived society with the goal of saving the Port Washington Store and re-purposing it as a community theatre, gallery, museum and coffee shop.  The society's dissolution was brought about through not being able to aquire an acceptable septic disposal system for a public use of the building. Donations were refunded and the initiative shelved.)

 

This month we would like to say thanks to the people who keep us going and to those who keep us on the right track. We appreciate greatly the efforts of those who have supported us so faithfully. A special thanks has to go to those brave people who took to the telephones in a last-minute blitz to reach our objectives. I like Gerry Woods's comment “I wouldn't want to do this for a living but it is a pleasure to do it for a good cause”. 

 

We appreciate too, many calls we received when we were about to do the wrong thing about the proposed sewage disposal at Port Washington. We accepted to readily the advice of the Provincial Waste Management Department when they suggested a 48 hour septic tank (without outfall to the ocean) instead of the Oxygen Treatment Plant we wanted. They said that the treatment plant would not work because the Theater/Gallery complex would not produce enough sewage. Please be assured that we are back on track and we'll continue our search for a treatment plant small enough to meet our needs and not hurt the environment. 

 

For those inquiring about the tax-deductible receipts it maybe another couple of weeks before success is assured and the receipts can be mailed. Interim receipts for issued initially in case donations had to be refunded. - J. Frache