Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Colonies

Comox Harbour Authority Docks
We departed Discovery Harbour docks in Campbell River at 9am and had a slight push from the current.  The morning fog soon dissipated revealing the flat, calm seas in the Strait of Georgia.  As we got closer to Comox on Vancouver Island, the direction of the current shifted, slowing our speed to 7.4 knots.  The seas remained calm and we easily passed over the Comox bar, arriving at the Harbour Authority Docks around 2pm and settled into our slip.  
Comox on Vancouver Island
Comox is a cute retirement town with lots of pretty flowers and shrubs that line the streets.  Older folks are often seen cruising down the sidewalks in their “hover-rounds.”  

The Shoprider
It seems some of these folks have moved up to the modern mode of transportation, the “Shoprider,” an enclosed one-seat, motorized job with four wheels which looks like a miniature car, very cute.  After the morning rain shower passed, we walked into town, stopping at the local museum which also serves as an art gallery.  Beautiful watercolor paintings by local artists were on display and available for purchase.  The museum section, although small, is a nice resource for local and Provincial history, including notable people from the past who helped shape British Columbia.  These names are familiar to boaters, names like Douglas and Seymour which have been used to designate islands and various waterways.  James Douglas, born in 1803, is often called the Father of British Columbia.  After he completed his schooling in Scotland, he moved to Canada at the age of sixteen.  

Sir James Douglas
James apprenticed with the Northwest Co. which eventually merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company.  He was later stationed at Fort Vancouver, Washington where he became the HBC Chief Factor in 1839.  When it became apparent that everything below the 49th parallel would soon become American territory, he moved to Vancouver Island to relocate the Hudson Bay Co. Fort and later established the Capital of Fort Victoria.  From 1851 to 1864 James Douglas served as Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island and in 1858 he also became the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia.  The two colonies would later merge as a Province.  While in office Douglas developed his vision of a great highway of commerce down the centre of the mainland colony; he achieved this project in little more than two years.  A wagon road eighteen feet wide and 400 miles long connected the Cariboo to the coastal settlements.  Today, his name is recognized on nautical charts and land features including Douglas Channel, James Island, James Bay, and Douglas Peak to mention a few.  
Frederick Seymour
Another recognizable name is Frederick Seymour, born 1820, as in Seymour Narrows, Frederick Sound, and Mount Seymour among other sites named in his honor.  Frederick Seymour became the second Governor of the Colony of British Columbia in 1864 and continued building the wagon trails to the Cariboo and also helped stop a First Nation disturbance at Bute Inlet.  Seymour did not at first support combining the Colony of Vancouver Island and the Colony of British Columbia but eventually relented and the two colonies became one in 1866.  When Canada became a confederation in 1867, there was a strong desire for the B.C. colony to join as a Provence.  Seymour had managed to improve the economy and infrastructure of the colony, culminating with the construction of a graving dock (dry dock) at Esquimalt Harbour near Victoria.  Towards the end of his term, Seymour made a journey to Nass River located off of Portland Inlet to mediate a dispute between First Nations tribes.  On the return trip, he fell ill with dysentery and died at Bella Coola.  
Stakes from Fish Traps seen along Comox Bay
The Museum also includes information about the thousands of stakes seen on the mudflats all along Comox Bay.  The pilings or stakes are remnants of ancient fish traps of the K’omoks people who lived in the area long before the arrival of the Europeans.  Many of these traps were in the shape of a heart or chevron and could function independently or as part of a larger interconnected system.  
Designs and Fish Trap Structures
The complexity of these systems must have required skilled experts to design, build, and maintain the traps and other skilled workers to harvest and manage resources.  The magnitude of the fish harvest suggests that the Native population in the area was much larger than previously thought.  Leonard still prefers his mode of fishing - hold out some money and go troll along the docks.  
Leonard's Idea of Fishing
To our delight, we found a commercial fishing boat tied-up at Comox offering fresh fish for sale, including salmon, tuna, and smoked sockeye.  The Comox fishing boat is one of a few in B.C. where you can buy fresh fish directly off a boat licensed to sell to the general public.  Leonard’s early morning fishing trip in the rain proved successful, bringing home four nice salmon steaks.

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