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Nanaimo Historical Society Fonds

Series 2. Sound Recordings

Tape 28(a)

Joseph K. Kneen age 84, died November 5th, 1967 – arrived in Nanaimo August, 1907

Transcribed by Carol Hill, February 1st, 2008

By way of an introduction, this tape recording is a transcription in part of recordings spoken by Mr. Joseph Kneen in June 1967. The subject concerns Mr. Kneen’s youthful years in England, his arrival in Nanaimo in August, 1907. Also his activities and observations here over a long period of years. Mr. Kneen died in Nanaimo November 5th, 1967. This recording was made by William Barraclough and Allan Burdock on March 17th, [?1969].

“June, 1967. My name is Joe Kneen. I have been asked several times in recent years to give the story of my life and what I remember about Nanaimo 60 years ago. I am putting this on tape to pass along to my grandchildren and their children. My name is spelled Kneen pronounced “Neen” the “K” is silent. My father was a Manxman, born on the Isle of Man. My mother was English, born in England. I was born in the Lakes District of West Cumberland, England on the 20th day of November, 1883. We are the first generation of the Kneens to [?] with the means to come to Nanaimo.

I went to a little country school for a few short years. We had no frills at the school in those days and we had only to speak when we were spoken to. At the age of 15 ½, I left home to serve my apprenticeship as a wheelwright and cartwright. This is a trade which has died out. I would say that I am one of the few alive today who learned this trade. The rubber wheels have taken over.

I was No. 2  boy in this shop so I had all the chores to do. The wood we worked was hardwood – English Oak, Ash, [?] and Beech. They are seasoned for at least 7 years before using. By this time it was pretty tough.  My first job was to milk the cows and be in the shop at 6:30 a.m. We worked until 6:30 p.m.– 11 hours per day, 8 hours on Saturday – 63 hours a week. Our pay, a place to sleep and too little to eat and to bed by 10:00 p.m. If the boss and his wife went out of an evening they would lock the pantry door. I know because us boys tried it more than once. They never forgot to lock it.

Arriving in the shop at 6:30 a.m., my first morning after milking two cows, I was shown an oak plank 4 inches thick 14 feet long with a pencil mark the full length. I was given a hand [?adze] and was told to follow the line. One foot per hour was pretty good going and this was when my education really started.  We also made pitch pine coffins at this shop and if the distance was not too far for us, 2 boys would pack the box down the street on our shoulders and put the corpse in. We would do this after we quit at 6:30 p.m. A corpse was always measured in those days and the box made to suit. It may be hard for you to believe this but I was 14 ½ years old when I was sent out to measure my first corpse. Teenage problems weren’t heard of in those days. You were tired, hungry and glad to get to bed before the 10:00 p.m. time limit for you.

I spent 2 ½ years at this place and moved to a larger operation, quite a number of men and 3 boys. It was steam-powered equipment, a little quicker and easier than the last place. You see, I started at the very bottom. The same as the last place lots of good food, the pantry door had no lock on it and we worked 54 hours per work, 9 hours better than the last place. I finished my 7 years term here and was kept on as a journeyman, until I left to come to Canada. A journeyman’s pay in that part of England was 6 pence, ½ penny per hour, about 15 cents. Could you blame me for looking for a better home?

On the 17th of May 1907, I boarded the CP’s Empress of Britain at Liverpool, England and sailed for Canada. I did not notice where I was going but kept going West. Made a few short stops while crossing the country and arrived in Nanaimo about the middle of August 1907. The only work I knew anything about was woodworking and the only place there was any construction work going on was at the Western Fuel Company Mines. I saw the powers that be and was told to report for work the following Monday morning. This was my first and only time, I ever asked for a job.

Nanaimo was a small mining town. Population perhaps 3,500 – 4,000 just a guess. It was also a young man’s town--29 hotels, 2 boarding houses with anywhere from 16 to 20 boarders each. I should say that 75% of the homes were south of Albert Street, this is the old part of the Town, not changed very much. You can tell by the style of the houses. I was here only a short few months when I was put in charge of about 30 native sons – aged from about 25 to 60 years old. I was a wee bit scared of them at first but when I was able to call them by name, I found them quite friendly, and we got along just fine, no trouble at all. I think that generation has all passed on by now to their happy hunting grounds, I hope. Two months later, I took charge of all construction work of the Western Fuel Company and was put on a monthly salary. Two or three years passed and I was promoted again and put in charge of all surface operations. Quite a big job and it really kept me busy. I held this job until the fall of 1928.

At the peak of coal mining in Nanaimo, the Canadian Western Fuel Company had 1,800 men on their payroll with a payroll of about $280,000 per month. They had 50 miles of railway for locomotives--a large machine shop, bunker storage for 10,000 tons of coal, four loading berths, two for deep-sea ships, two for scow loading. They were situated along the waterfront north of the CPR Ferry 1967 to Denman Island which is at the north east of the CPR property and was an island. Board and lodging in the hotels and boarding houses $26 per month. I boarded in a private home coming home clean, $24 per month. I cannot tell you what the pay down the mine was there was such a variety of jobs - such as diggers, motor men, mule drivers, winch drivers, pump men, stable men, etc., Skinning? surface men - 33 1/3rd cents per hour. White labour - 25 cents per hour, boss chinamen – 15 cents per hour, pick and shovel – 12 ½ cents per hour. The chinamen all had long pig tails and wore two large straw hats to shed the rain. Their diet-pork and rice -they would not eat grain. There was a lot of chinamen here in those days. By 1910, the coal company started to expand their operation. The City was also beginning to grow up. Our sidewalks were all wood and very fortunate that the young ladies did not have spike heels in those days. By the end of 1911 or early 1912, they had been replaced by concrete. A little later came along the sewers, followed by the paving of Comox Road from the corner of Wallace Street to Front Street, Church Street, Commercial Street, Victoria Crescent, Winfield Crescent, Nicol Street to the corner of Prideaux Street, Wallace Street from Comox Street to Albert Street was also paved, one block on Machleary Street from Fitzwilliam Street to Franklyn Street.

With the growing up of the City and the Western Fuel Company expanding came a water problem. The only water supply at the time was Chase River and in a very dry summer there would not be enough to go around. Two small storage dams at the south west corner of Harewood Road were not now large enough. In 1910, the Western Fuel Company started to build a storage dam downstream below the City dam for their own use. I did not start this job but I finished and turned the water into the coal company’s line on the 1st day of May, 1911. The first gasoline cement mixer to come to town was for this job. Dam is now the swimming pool in the 5 acre lot park. This City went far afield about 16 miles to the South Fork of Nanaimo River put in a wood [?} line and threw a few logs across the river, just enough to fill the pipe. Still a shortage of water in the summer time. If my memory serves me right, I think it was 1932 that the City started to build a high concrete dam across the South Forks River, finished in 1933, and over a number of years replaced the wood [?stave] line by a steel line and concrete line. Quite a lot of folks here think our water supply comes from Nanaimo  Lakes or Nanaimo River this is not so. I mentioned before our water supply was Chase River and about a ¼ of a mile above the storage dam is a valley through which Chase River flows and there is quite a large farm in this valley. They have their milk [cargo?], horses, pig, sheep, etc. and they had full range of Chase River. We had no [chlorination?] or fluoridation in those days but quite a number of us were able to survive. Today, our source of water is one of the best in the country.

In 1910, the Western Fuel Company started on plans for a new mine south of Nanaimo River. I named it the Reserve Mine. It was partly on the Indian Reserve. This was quite a large and expensive undertaking. Three miles of railway to be built partly through rock then mostly on bridges and pilings. There were two heavy 150 foot [?paltos] spans to be built over Nanaimo River, two [shafts] to be sunk 10 feet by 30 by 1,000 feet deep, 750,000 feet of timber went into each [shirt}. Two 96 foot high head frames plus [?paper] building, screening plants, etc. Hundreds of piles to be driven to carry the concrete foundations for hoist engines, boilers, compressors, etc. A large sum of money was spent here with the expectation of it being a large operation. It was a great disappointment. I very much doubt if ever it paid for itself.

Number One Mine in town had been sunk in the late 1870’s or the early 80’s and was later referred to as the Grand Old Mine of BC. It was sunk on the waterfront between Farquhar Street and Dickson Street, might be named Milton Street now. Milton stopped at Victoria Road and Dickson from there to the Esplanade. Two round shafts were sunk here. The main shaft was 16 feet in diameter the air shaft 12 feet in diameter, 620 feet deep. It was the largest single producer in British Columbia. Closed down in 1938.

You could go down Number One shaft, walk under the harbour to a shaft on Protection Point from there, turn north and walk under Protection Island , then under Newcastle Island and climb out to daylight on the east side of Newcastle Island near Kanaka Bay. In the early days before oil took over, thousands of tons of coal were [?searched] here in Nanaimo every spring for shipping to Alaska in the summer time. The Western Fuel Company also had control of the Seattle and ‘Frisco market. There are two 6,000 ton steam ships [The Fork? and The Titania] and one 3,000 ton hulk [The Acapulco?] which done nothing but ply between here and Frisco. The Seattle market was delivered by [scow?], quite a large tonnage between the two places.

Until 1913, Nanaimo was the best mining town and the most law abiding City in the North American Continent and someone across the border to us did not like the idea of Nanaimo having the Seattle and Frisco business so they sent a few tough boys up from the South and right out of the blue came the 1913 strike, plus the loss of these markets. Seattle market gradually came back. The Frisco market was lost for keeps. As I mentioned earlier, this was a law abiding City and all we had was one policeman. The story you might read on page 28 of Nanaimo Scenes from the Past published [in] 1966 does not give you the whole true story. I know, I was here. There was several old workings closed down before my time. Number 5 shaft, Cedar, the slope at Southfield, a shaft in the depression at the south end of Victoria Road, Extension, a shaft on the second or third lot south of Finlayson Street and the west side of Nicol Street, a shaft under the Malaspina Hotel, a slope at Harewood opened up again 1918 operated about 6 years, there were 2 shafts behind the high school on Five Acres which was sunk about 1916-17. I had charge of sinking of these shafts. The Dunsmuirs never had control of this block at Nanaimo. Number 1 owners [were] the Hudson’s Bay Company, British capital. Number two owners, the New Vancouver Coal Company – British capital. Number three owners, the Western Fuel Company 1904-17, US capital. Number four, the Canadian Western Fuel Company 1917-28, US capital. Number five, the Canadian Collieries, British capital. This was the beginning of the end of coal mining on Vancouver Island. These mines mostly closed down about 1940.

In fact, 1938, the Grand Old Mine of B.C. closed down and the CPR bought the waterfront as you see it today from the Canadian Collieries. The CPR was not in the coal mining business. The Dunsmuir’s names bring back memories. This is why my story is a little mixed up. Coal was discovered at Extension in the late 1890’s. [This property was in the E & N belt?] granted to Dunsmuir when he built the E & N railway his shopping point for the North Wellington Mines were in the northwest corner of Departure Bay so he started to build a railway from his railway about where he crosses the Townsite Road to Department Bay. He was getting on quite well with his grade when Mr. Robins, the manager of the New Vancouver Coal Company caught up with him and told him to stop, he would not allow him to put a railway through New Vancouver Coal Company property. A short piece of the grade can still be seen in 1967 across the road from the Tideview Motel. Now, the only way Dunsmuir could look was to the south and he found this harbour where Ladysmith is today. The Boer War was on at this time and Ladysmith, South Africa was being besieged and that is how Ladysmith, Vancouver Island got its name and you would find similar streets called after the generals of the South African War. The only one I can recall just now is Buller Street after General Buller.  The manager of the first company I worked for, the Western Fuel Coal Company, was an American named T.R. Stockett. Stockett.  Junction on the E & N Railway was named after him. That is just beyond Chase River and he was always referred to as TR. The Bowen Brothers GW and Jim came here in 1917.

GW was the president of the Canadian Western Fuel Company so I referred to him as GW. The head office of the Hudson’s Bay Company and also the New Vancouver Coal Company were from London, England. The Western Fuel Company’s head office, San Francisco. The Canadian Western Fuel Company head office right here in Nanaimo which seemed to bring things close to home. You could get an answer yes or no to your problems right here instead of having to go 6,000 or 1,200 miles away and wait weeks for an answer. Early in 1918 Mr. Bowen called me to his office. I will refer to him now as GW and to myself as JK. GW: I am looking for information. Perhaps you could help me as you know the Canadian Western Fuel Company bought out the Western Fuel Company a few months ago, 1917, and on our books are certain parcels of land claimed by the City, can you tell me what you know about this?
JK: When I came here in 1907, I boarded in a private home in the name of [Ed Gibson]? who had worked under Mr. Robins, the manager of the New Vancouver Coal Company in the late 80’s and 90’s and always referred to him as old man Robins. He said he was a very friendly gentleman and this is one story I still remember. The City Fathers would ask Mr. Robins to meet with them to discuss some of the problems of the City at this time and at one of these meeting they asked him if he would donate certain parcels of land to the City for parks, playgrounds, schools, etc. He said yes, my boys, [you have?] he never gave them the title to it nor did he write it on the New Vancouver Coal Company’s books so it has just been passed down from one company to another and this fight has been going on for 11 years I know and quite a few years before that. I have a map made in 1891 and it shows these parcels put out from the surrounding [?]. One is Deverill Square on Haliburton Street, one is Milford Crescent on the corner of Selby and Robarts and Hecate Street. And another park is on the south side of Comox Road between Wallace Street and Prideaux Street.

As I mentioned earlier, the head office of the New Vancouver Coal Company was 6,000 miles away, a long way from home in those days. Now you take over and it is on your books with this difference we are right home here, president and head office in Nanaimo.

GW: Just what difference should that make having the head office in Nanaimo? What would you suggest we do about it?

JK: GW you called me in to give you some information. Now you ask me what we should do about it. We don’t have to go to 6,000 miles away for an answer, the City have spent a little money on these places, they have been the owners. It is not of great value to the Canadian Western Fuel Company and you, the president, living right here among our people. I think it would be a very nice gesture on your part if you gave it to the City. [Please?] counsel to that effect. And if another company should come in here in the meantime [?put it on the books]. Now what else do we want to give away?

JK: Could you take time off and go for a short drive and look over just what you have given away. He phoned for his car, an old 7 passenger Packard, Bob [Humphries?] was his driver. I told Bob where we wanted to go – Deverill Square, Milford Crescent and the playground on the south side of Comox Road between Wallace and Prideaux Streets. Bob says “where now?” “Just keep on Bob and stop at the cemetery”.  GW was a tall man and he was kind of lounging in the back seat facing the cemetery.

GW: Why are we stopping here?

JK: GW turn and look over to your right. There is a piece of property bounded by the Millstone River on the north, the Comox Road on the south and it reaches from E & N Railway to the Quarterway.

GW: You want to give this away do you? I think it will be a very valuable piece of property someday. How many acres did you say?

JK: About 100 acres and don’t you think, GW, it would make a nice park for Nanaimo some day. I said to Bob our driver “We better bring this back to the office”. GW did not speak until he was out of his car and all he said then was “come and see me before you go home”.
I thought he was going to fire me. I called in his office later in the afternoon. He pointed to a chair across
his desk and I sat down facing him. He gave me a pretty hard look for a few minutes before he spoke.

GW: I am going to give that parcel of land to the City of Nanaimo as a park with one reservation; it must never be used for commercial purposes.

JK: Thank you GW, I am sure that someday the City will appreciate this gift from you. Now you will understand what I meant by having the head office {?} in Nanaimo instead of 1,200 or 6,000 miles away.

GW: Now I think we better look to our own business. You see those wheels over there, they are not moving and don’t think of anything else to give away. The wheels were on Number 1 pithead so I thought I better look around and see what was the trouble.

Part 2: Joseph K. Kneen Story: June, 1967. [?]

We will just take a little walk around town. Mostly of the South of Nanaimo is the old part of the town and, as I mentioned before has not changed very much with the exception of the waterfront. I arrived in Nanaimo in the middle of August, 1907 aboard the small CPR SS Joan, tied up at the wharf  down below the old Post Office, now a parking lot for the new Post Office. This wharf had been built by a man by the name of Warden, I don’t know the date but it is in the old map of mine of 1891. Then owned by A.R. Johnston [?]. Later the CPR bought it. I think about 1910. CPR did not have no wharf until this time. We walk up a very steep hill to Front Street and on the left old jail with white washed fence around it. On the right. the old Post Office, now a parking lot for the new Post Office. Going north on our left a rock bluff then a small brick building north of the bluff three old Hudson’s Bay Houses [?] on top of it. Then the Provincial Court House, next the Globe Hotel. On our right stretching from the old Post Office north about 800 feet a vacant lot [military?] Western Fuel Company While the other bandstand on several benches which was where you would meet your friends on a fine summer evening if they were not beer drinkers and watch the Indians paddling and racing their canoes back and forth.

In 1911, there was a little real estate boom in town and before the coal companies put this on the market, they offered it to the City for $10,000. The City turned it down. Now we turn onto Comox Road and go west. On our right a foundry, now a machine shop. On our left, the new [Newcastle?] Hotel and one old house. Now we turn north on [?] Street and to our right, a small saw mill, on our left, the gas works. Now we are on the wood bridge of the Millstone River. Looking west up the river, the old electric light plant. Now we are on Stewart Avenue still going north we come to First Street now [?} Street. We must not pass without turning to our right and knocking on door 60, one of the oldest houses on Townsite, and shaking hands with an old friend and gentleman William Lewis. When I first came here, William Lewis was 44 years, I was 24 years old – that was 60 years ago. I visited him a few days ago and he is just as bright and witty
as when I met him 60 years ago. When I was leaving him, we shook hands and he said “Joe we will meet again on 17th of July”. I said “We sure will”. He will be 104 years and lived in the same house 76 years. Back on Stewart Avenue again still going north on Block Number 5, on our left a building in the center of the block, a large house named the Eldovilla

built by a man called Bill Sloan, left Nanaimo in the Gold Rush days and was one of the first to come out of  the Klondike with a full poke. There is an iron gate on part of the stone fence along Stewart Avenue side still standing. Two blocks north we pass out of the old City Limits on our right stood the old Provincial Penitentiary, now the Shell Oil Company Plant.

One or two blocks north on our left was the old Chinese Cemetery. In the old days at a funeral, the Chinese would take a roasted pig with them and leave it on the grave to feed him on his merry way. When the Chinamen were out of sight the natives would go and pick up the pig and have a potlatch. By and by, the Chinamen got wise to what the natives were doing and after the burial they would take the pig back home with them.

Still going north we come to Pimbury Point, better known today as Brechin Point, where [Evans?] and Evans Ready Mix Plant is situated was quite a large mine closed down when the Western Fuel Company lost the Frisco market in 1913. Looking on the Bay in the south west corner was a powder manufacturing plant closed down 1925 [note to James Island off Victoria]. Look to the northwest corner of the Bay, Dunsmuir’s wharf and shipping point for the North Wellington Mines, out of use and falling down when I came here. A little to the east, the Federal Biological Station was just in the building stage, 1907, and still being extended today. Looking out to the hump is Page’s Lagoon, known now as Piper’s Lagoon, was a whaling station opened up, you could smell it quite a distance away, closed down after two years operation

Coming back to town, I’m turning west of Comox Road, on our left Nanaimo’s First Cemetery. Going west and looking north down to [Mill?] Street is a large brick building [?] Brewery now a soft drink bottling plant, still going west of the E & N to Kennedy Street left to more breweries. One on each side of Kennedy Street. [Hayes & Pratt’s] on one side and Weigle’s on the other. Just the foundations left when I came here on the site where now stands the City Hall was the Union Brewery operated a number of years after I came here. Closed down in the late teens. I dismantled the old building in 1944.

Coming back to the waterfront, we walk south on Front Street, Wharf Street, Commercial Street, Victoria Crescent, Winfield Crescent and the Esplanade to the Indian Reserve Boundary. The high water mark was along the street boundary line, some places beyond the boundary line. That is why to a stranger it looks like such a crooked mess. When I arrived here, it looked to me that the downtown part of Nanaimo had been made up off the islands and in talking with the old [?] of the Indians whom I had charge of when I first came here, some of them born in the 1850’s told me they used to paddle their canoes around these three islands. At high tide, a great amount of this was under water when I came here before they filled in what they called Long Bridge on Commercial Street, I would say it must have been about 4,000 feet long across what is now Terminal Avenue There was quite a large strong arch built across Commercial Street somewhere between Fletcher’s and Nash’s store to let the tides flow back and forth. There were no stores there then. The arch is still there, you cannot see it. Believe it or not what things begin to pass through this old brain of mine, I can hardly believe it myself.

The saloons had no set time for opening or closing. They just kept open. You had two handmade cigar factories in town if we might call them factories. I think they employed about 8 men between them. One was the Enterprise by Al Davis and one [?] by Joe Booth [?Cuban Blossom] closed out a great many years ago. Al Davis carried on until the late 1930’s. I used to visit Al in his little work shop up Skinner Street, he was all alone at this time. I was always very much interested in watching him cut the outside leaf, it was a peculiar shape. He would always make me a special cigar and I had to stay and keep him company until I smoked it. We would shake hands and he would say “come and see me tomorrow”. You know, I miss those days gone by and my old friends.

We had two passenger trains a day between North Wellington and Victoria. The railway ended at North Wellington in those days and started to go north, Courtney, Alberni about 1911 or 1912. We had two daily newspapers, the Herald in the morning, Free Press in the evening and we certainly got all the local goings on in those days. We also had more daily papers delivered in Nanaimo than any city in Canada, 7 all told. Two of our own, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria papers coming into town. Some of them, two come in the same day. Our own hospital, which was a timber construction, was a nurse’s training school. The matron, the staff, the head nurse, six to eight students. I think the last class was somewhere 1916-1919, somewhere just about the 20’s anyhow.

We had no [?] here. I can’t remember when the cent arrived. Five cent was our lowest coin. I think the Imperial Oil Company was the first oil company to open up in Nanaimo alongside the railway at the corner of Campbell and Prideaux in the south west corner, 1908.

The first garage and it was the first building on the property I mentioned earlier was offered to the City for $10,000, it was built by a local boy Bill Sampson about 1912. He had the Ford Agency. You could buy a new Ford for $750. A four-gallon can of gas can thrown in, $1.00. I bought my first car in 1914. An old car I paid $175 for it. My first driver’s license was for life. When the new system came in, I was foolish enough to throw it away. I drove on the left hand side of road for 6 ½ years. I think we changed over to the right at 6:00 am on the 1st of January, 1922. I won’t tell you about the cranking and changing of tires in those days, it just would not be fit for print. We could buy anti-rattlers to put around the doors, fenders or any old place you could find room for one. No windshield wipers, gravity feed from your tank under the front seat. If you came to a steep hill and your tank was not pretty full, you just turned around and backed down.

The city boundaries of Nanaimo from an old map 1891. Not much change until 1952. Starting at the foot of Robins Street and the west boundary of the Indian Reserve going west of the north side of Robins Street for three blocks then [?] north west to the east side of the E & N Railway to Pine Street, along the east side of Pine Street to the north side of Comox Road now Bowen Road, east about 100 feet of the E & N Railway, then north along the Millstone River to Union Avenue, now Terminal Avenue, Canadian Highway 19 along the east side of Highway 19 to the south side of Townsite Road then east on the south side of Townsite Road to high water mark. Following high water mark south to Commercial Inlet, now parkade, where it seems to have got lost here then came to life again at the north end of the Esplanade about 100 yards north of the bridge entrance to the assembly wharf. Going south along the high water mark to the north boundary of the Indian Reserve then west to the foot of Sabiston Street then south along the east boundary of the west boundary of the Indian Reserve to the foot of Robins Street. The east side of Commercial Street and Victoria Crescent was a surveyor’s headache for years. From Wharf Street to the foot of Nichol Street, the lots are frontage on the street and the buildings were mostly standing on piles or posts beyond the high water mark, which was federal property.

The property from Commercial Inlet to the Indian Reserve on the east side of the Esplanade was taxed by the Federal Government until 1920-22 when the Canadian Western Fuel Company, the Federal Government, the City of Nanaimo got together and made an arrangement so that the Coal Company could pay their taxes to the City which went through and they paid a [blanket/] to the City. I have seen the high water mark creeping out from the Esplanade to Commercial Street, Victoria Crescent to where it is today, that is the reason you don’t see any large unsightly mine refuse dumps around here.

One day, a long time ago, a navy boat drifted into the inlet, the surveyors and his helpers took out transit [box?] etc. and came over to me and said Mr., I feel lost around here. Anywhere I have landed from here south to the mine the last survey map looks as if the island was growing east and pushing the high water mark along with it, what can you tell me about it. I did quite a little to do with pushing the high water mark about when I was with the Coal Company so I thought I better act just a little bit stupid and tell him I didn’t know anything about it and said goodbye.

In 1922, two Aldermen came to see me, one was Alderman Dave Jenkins, an old friend of mine. I can’t remember the name of the other alderman. They told me they were in trouble with the Bastion Street Bridge which was a wood structure at the time. The City were paying a gentleman a retaining fee for advice and he had [?] in Bastion Street Bridge to beat the traffic. Would I examine it and see if it could have some repairs done to it and be opened up again. It had been closed for two years by this time. It was a very high bridge or should I say low, it went down a long way in what was known as the ravine and all I could say to them was I am working for the Company and I cannot do anything like that and also the man who condemned it was a very good friend of mine with a few letters behind his name.

Two days later, GW called me into his office and told me two alderman had been in to see him and told him what they had asked me to do and I had said no. GW told me to take all the time I wanted and give the City any help I possibly could. I climbed over this structure for about three days and told the City Fathers what I would do if it was on Company property. Spending about $1,800 and put on a 5 ton load in it, it would be good for 6 years. They took my advice and spent $1,600 on it. It lasted for 12 years.

Now getting back to this ravine which made that part of the City practically an island. It was a garbage dump for anyone about that part of town and did it stink. The Coal Company had a right of way through this ravine down to Departure Bay and when Commercial Street was paved in the early teens, the Coal Company, to protect this right of way, lay their rails right across Commercial Street before the paving was done. Well this gave me an idea. I talked with the Aldermen who got me involved in this mess and asked them if they would like this stink hole [?][. Alderman Jenkins took me by the hand and said, Joe if you can get that hole filled in, the City should give you a medal. Now I had to face G.W. Bowen again. I told him I had found a good place to dump mine refuse for two or three years.
GW: Where is this place?

JK: It is on the north side of Commercial Street.

GW: We have lots of room for our mine refuse without crossing Commercial Street with our equipment. You must realize the situation the Company would be in if there should be an accident and I must say no.

Well, I kept on talking between the City Fathers and GW and I finally won out. I spent a lot of very anxious hours while this stink hole was being filled in the early morning and late of nights. Hours that our City Fathers knew nothing about and it was the middle of the 1920’s when this job was done and not in 1911 or 12 as mentioned on page 23 in the book entitled “Nanaimo Scenes from the Past” published 1966. In the right hand corner of that picture, it shows two men walking north. I am one of those men. Did the City give me a medal? Not even a cigar. Not even a thank you. I did not want anything. I just thought I was doing a good job for the City of Nanaimo.

END OF TAPE