Stevens and Manson family histories
Interviewee / Speaker
Stevens, Gib & Stella
Audio Recording
Nanaimo Historical Society Fonds

Series 2 Sound Recordings : Tape 57

Transcribed by Lois Park, June 2008

January 16, 1979 Gib and Stella Stevens (nee Manson)


Gib Stevens speaking:

Thank you very, very much for that very, very eloquent introduction, Mrs. Mar.

[Inaudible comment from audience]

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I say this, that Stella and I feel quite honored and somewhat very, very proud in as much as we have been approached to present ourselves before you and give you a little history of our family.

You know when Pamela first approached me in this regard I did say to her “well, Pamela, we are ordinary common people, we never lived on Nob Hill, there are no heroes in our families”. So I asked, so she told me, she said “Well, Gib, the trouble is that we have so much trouble bringing in out of town speakers during the winter” [chuckles from the audience] because we book them and then we find that the weather socks in they can’t appear and we find ourselves without a speaker. So we felt that we would approach you two because you live in this town and regardless of the weather you would be here. So in essence, we are better then nothing. [Laughter]

But you know, I have never had the opportunity, Ladies and Gentlemen, of speaking to such a, may I say, such a senior group. I look around and see the Stannards, I see the Norris’. You people are oozing in character, never mind us, I would certainly like to sit and listen to some of you.

But speaking to you puts me in mind of a story. You are not adverse to a little story are you?

What it had to do with is this man and woman were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They were a bit younger then I am but they were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. What they decided to do was this – they thought they would go back to the very hotel and if possible get the very hotel room that they spent their wedding night in. So they agreed to this and they did do this. So they retired for the evening, you know when you are celebrating your fiftieth I would imagine that is pretty well all you are going to do is retire. And the husband was ready to go to sleep and the wife, not her, she was sitting back propped up on the pillow and she was reminiscing somewhat.

The old man was sleeping, so the wife nudged the husband and said honey, he woke up and said yes dear, what is it?

Just imagine that it was fifty years ago tonight in this very hotel room that we spent our honeymoon, isn’t’ that lovely?

Yes dear he said, yes we enjoyed it and had a lot of fun but it was a long time ago.

Good night, so he started to go back to sleep again but she wasn’t going to have this so she nudged him and said Honey? Yes dear, what is it? Trying to be very patient.

Do you remember that night? Yes. Well that was the first night you bit me. Oh, he said, did I, did I, well I must have been a real tiger in those days, honey, but that was a long time ago. Good night, so he started to go back to sleep again but no - one more time.

Honey? Being very patient, yes, dear, what is it this time?

Bite me again. [Laughter]

So he paused and well all right - get my teeth off the mantle. [Laughter]

But anyway, may I say this, when we were preparing for this presentation to you people it sort of sparked a couple of confrontations with Stella and myself. I know you may have possibly all heard a lot about the Manson family and not too much about the Stevens family because we were a quiet folk, we never did anything out of line, and we kept to ourselves. [Chuckles from the audience]

But I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is so very, very nice, especially when you have a Society such as this that is interested enough to ask people such as us to come to speak to because you are going to listen. And I think you will agree that we are all pretty well proud of our heritage and what has gone on before us. I think with this fast day, and fast food and fast moving, it is wonderful that there are people such as your selves that do take the time to listen.

Now as far as my Grandfather is concerned, now I know that we have agreed that we are not going to have any issues at all. But there is the British Columbia biography of the famous British Columbians and Stella’s Grandfather is in there. There is no Stevens because I’ve looked. [Chuckles]

But anyway, as far Canada is concerned the Manson’s are sort of immigrants because my Grandfather was born in Winnipeg. Your Grandfather was born in the Shetland Islands.

But anyway, my Dad was born here and my Grandfather as you know, they use to own and operate what was known as a Temperance Hotel years ago right on the site of the Royal Bank Building and it was called the Temperance Hotel and it was the only Temperance Hotel at that time in Nanaimo. Because if you remember the mining town Nanaimo was, famous for its beer parlors and their pubs.

Along with that, my Grandfather operated the Stevens and Wrights Sawmill, he operated that in conjunction with his son-in-law, which was my uncle, and I think even today when you go hunting and you obtain these hunting guides they will still point out the southern most boundaries of your hunting the area is the old Stevens and Wright Sawmill site. Some of you may remember that.

Now my father was an only son, Ladies and Gentlemen, and there were three sisters. There was my Auntie Bea, she was Bea [Cusworth?], married to the [Cusworth] who operated who operated Columbia shop in town. Then there was my Auntie Tillie, she married my Uncle Harry Wright and Auntie Edie who married [Alec Tombs?] This some of you remember all of those, they are all deceased now.

My grandfather, who my dad worked with, was really a very, very accomplished builder and evidence of that is when you go up Pine Street on the corner of Pine and Elizabeth you will see the old Stevens home and you can note it by the cement or concrete walls that are evidenced there. If you go down a bit further on Pine Street and there is a larger home and we called that the Wright home and you will still see the same brick walls standing just as good as it was when Grandpa put it up.

My father, I understand that he ran to war, he was the only son with three sisters but prior to the outbreak of the war my Auntie Bea happened to be in [Hattersfield?], England visiting. She got back all right but when Dad joined up and he was going overseas he had made a commitment [??????] he had met these people call [Beamounts?] and my father was to pay a visit when he got overseas to [Hattersfield?] and to make himself known that he was a son of Mr. Stevens. So he did this and this is where he met my mother. My mother was a [Beaumont?] And I think most of you that know my Mom, she was just a small little bit of a thing and we like to think a very gracious person and she sired eight of us and I think I am the smallest one! [Chuckles]

Anyway, my Mom, she was a war bride and this how my father met her in [Hattersfield?] and my mother’s mother and we always called her “granny in England”, we never ever met her but she did used to run and operate the swimming instructors school and my mother was a swimmer of note. In fact, my sister has a picture of when she was a young girl wearing this medal that she had received in championship swimming.

And I think Barbara would remember years ago when the Red Cross Society in Nanaimo use to operate these live musicals, remember [audience member comments “yes we do”], and my Mom was very active in there, this according to my sister. Now, the China Doll, the Swami of Baghdad, Mom was always in the chorus and one little side light was that when the family lived in Qualicum, they use to have silent movies in the what they called the “Barn” in Qualicum, they would be silent movies and my mother use to play the music for the silent movies and my oldest sister she got paid for turning the pages for my mother. [Laughter]

But you know then I think we all, fellows and Ladies and Gentlemen, remember the Depression and some of these things are evidenced and I think a lot of people come to me especially at the auction where you see these old irons and say “oh those were the good old days’. Well, not to me. I mean the depression wasn’t a bit funny for me because I was a kid and mind you we had a few sidelights, fewer sidelights now but at the time they weren’t very funny. And I had one lady who came in and said “oh look at those, I remember those. Those were the good old days”. She said “Hell no, not for me I hated those days, ever last bit of it”.

But I can remember these when we were kids and these irons, Ladies and Gentlemen, come in sets of three if you know. For those of you have used them, one, two and three iron and us Stevens being boys we use to fight quite a bit, you know, amongst ourselves so we could always fight amongst ourselves but don’t let anybody else interrupt a fight. Well, we use to fight over these things a lot you know because we would get them to keep ourselves warm at night, we’d wrap them up in a blanket, then we got stylish we got one we what they call pigs, you remember the old bed warmers [?] this is a bed warmer, it’s got my name on it. Then I had no further use for [?] [Laughter] in that part of it.

Now, then I can remember my Dad saying that they built the old North Ward School years ago. Grandpa and my father and they got five hundred dollars for it, for the old North Ward School. And Dad, if you remember, most of you do remember him, he was great on prospecting in the depression you see and he never made it, he never struck though. I also wondered, and I like to think, he was out the prospecting with the idea of hoping to hit it rich for his wife and family during the depression. And I often think too of the memories and thoughts that must have passed through these prospectors minds when they were sitting out at night all by themselves with nothing to do but read a few books, no radios or anything such as this.

But he was a good head, my dad, and this depression had one humorous sidelight and I smile to myself because I know Barbara’s father was great in the mines. But don’t ever tell anyone this but I can remember when we lived on Esplanade and you know there was no money for any fuel but we would have to go and pick coal up on where the, when the boys left the picking tables come and pick coal off the car before they took it out [?] and dumped it. And you know there were Chinamen and all nationalities digging for this coal.

And I can remember we use to come home from the top of [Thomas Hodgson?] School at lunch time and we’d get over that hill I could hear this [he lets out a shrill whistle], I can still hear it, that was my father down there, way we’d have to take our school clothes off and go down and pack 100 pound sacks of coal. And I could pack a 100-pound sack of coal when I was about fourteen or fifteen.

But see, my two brothers Harry and Arnold, we thought “pretty tough work” so we devised a scheme because we hated it. Coal cars just chock a block full of coal laying just over the bank from we lived and we thought why should all the coal go unwanted when we needed it. You have heard of the commandos during the war, well I think Harry, Arnold and I were the first commandos.

What we did, we use to draw straws and the shortest one went first and his job was to go down the bank and we would always pick a dark night on to the top of the car and he use to throw the coal down. The second one had the sack and he filled the sack full of coal as it was thrown down, the third one, Harry, he would take the coal and carry it into the basement, empty that and bring some more sacks down. This is what we did.

This one night I drew the short straw, it wasn’t popular, get caught on top of that car and so I was on top, scared as heck throwing [?] big chunk of coal like this and it never hit the ground. I hear this ummm, ummm and I look over and here [?] I had hit him on the head with the coal and he was to0 afraid to cry [?]

We use to play with spears and I put a spear right through his neck, we were playing Bengal [?] and my poor brother he took it all.

And then, the Stevens', we always had a family tradition, the Stevens' up there, everybody would congregate at Grandma’s for Christmas. Why they always called it Grandma’s I don’t know, never Grandpa’s, but always Grandma’s house. We use to go there and there was one year, we had a big family, early one Christmas morning and there was a knock at the door and here is Mrs. Manson at the door. I think it was Auntie Bea that answered the door, and she said yes? Well look are any of you missing a little boy? And of course we looked at my mother, because she had them all [?] there were eight of us, she turned and said [?] are you missing anybody. My Mom says, no, no I don’t think so, here was my kid brother Arnold, she hadn’t missed him and here he was down the street. And Mrs. Manson saw me there and I was just a young kid, straight and good looking [laughter] and right then and there she had these eyes on me for her daughter. Anyhow, which eventually worked out and when I got married I thought when I married into the Manson store I was marrying into money [Laughter] that didn’t work out either.

Now, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself, if I may, [?]. I joined the navy and there were three of us, my two brothers joined the navy as well, both myself and Arnold got overseas. Arnold got killed over there but that’s a long time ago. And, Jessie, my eldest sister, she joined the Air Force, so of the Stevens family there were four represented between 1939 and 1945.

When we came back, we were always sports minded, both [?] and I and first thing I did when I got back from overseas was go up and see old Joe Sutton. I think with all of us boys when we left here we always had Joe Sutton’s vision in our minds sitting there with his whistle ready to blow, with his white coveralls and a big raft of tickets, always selling tickets. We got back, first thing I did was go up and see Joe and after we, Stella and I were childhood sweethearts and we met and we parted during the war. I had to go look for her, she was in the air force you see and then she came back in 1948 and we met and we got engaged and then we got married and we just, last December, celebrated our thirty-third wedding anniversary and just a week ago Sunday we very quietly celebrated my Mom’s eighty-fifth birthday out at my brother’s house.

If my father had been alive, they were married on December 31, had he been alive they would have been celebrating the 62nd wedding anniversary. But Mom, she is getting on, we think this could pretty well be her last birthday. She calls me Joe.

Then after we got married, Stella and I got very active in the service club, service work in and around town and in 1949 we joined the Kinsmen Club and we have gone through the chairs within the club and I, in 1968, was honored with a life membership into the Kinsmen Club of Nanaimo and I am chartered president of K-40, that’s when they rid of you after age 40, because in the Kin you can’t hold office after you reach age 40 so we formed the K-40 club to assist the Kinsmen.

Then from there I was past Commanding Officer of the Sea Cadet Corp [?] which you see a double standard as those [?] son, [?] he was one of our sea cadets. So that shows we are getting on.

And then, I in turn took over the Salvation Army Christmas Cheer drive. I conducted that Christmas Cheer drive for some eight or nine years.

Now Stella and I are very active in the Legion. And we are both past presidents of the Legion and currently are going through the chairs again, I am acting this year as 2nd Vice President and I was very proud of being a good long time blood donor with the Red Cross as well.

Stella and I have three daughters and one son. Remember in the old days, when you fellows speak of the old days, it use to be that what was good enough for my father to do was good enough for me but this has pretty well gone by the boards. But we are very, very proud to say that our son thought well what was good enough for his father by way of auction was good enough for me and David today is operating the Comox Valley Auctions up in Cumberland and he is doing extremely well and they have two children. Wendy, our eldest daughter, has two children and our other two daughters do not. So we are very proud of that.

Now, I brought a few things that I think you might be interested in. Now if I am boring you, don’t be afraid to let, or tell me and I’ll sit down and let Stella take over.

But this here, Ladies and Gentlemen, see that [?] Nanaimo’s Free Press, this is the second edition dated October 21, 1874 and I kept with the Free Press and this is their second edition. Nanaimo Free Press published Wednesday and Saturday by George Norris, Office on Commercial Street. And you know, even in those days, these people had quite a sense of humor and I thought if would I would just like to read a few to you.

“A beautiful young lady doctor is practicing in Boston. There are a good many cases of heart disease in her circuit.” Isn’t that cute! Now it says here “From what port is a man bound during courtship – bound to have her”. “A contemporary defines the waltz as a hugging set to music. The definition is new, the idea is not.”

And one very very, there are all kinds, it is quite interesting, I would pass it around if you would like to have a look at the printing, I think it is beautiful and I notice you have all these advertisements are people from Victoria, until you get to the inside you don’t see anybody from Nanaimo, they are in here.

News here about the boats coming, [?] tons of this and tons of that. And then another thing I am sure you will remember, girls, remember this? Sunlight soap. Did anyone every have their mouth washed out with it? I did. It was a greatest thing for a stocking stuffer but Mom use to do that with us.

Now then this here, of course, now this did come from Manson’s store, Joe [?] use to go upstairs and [?].

Now is there anyone here that can tell me what this is? Anybody have a guess [murmuring from audience]. This also came from Stella’s Dads store, now what this is, is a cheese tester. In the old days, they would push that through a big barrel of cheese and pull it out and they would tell you the make and how old it is and this type of thing. Stella’s Dad could almost do that, but that is what that is – a cheese tester.

How about this? [Murmuring from audience] It is called a clump. Now these of course were used to deliver milk or bread by horse and buggy, the man would put this out so the horse would wonder up the street and it is called a clump.

Now I think this is one of the sad irons, this is before they came out with the wooden handles and you used these for doorstops now. I don’t know the exact date on this but the printing is right inside it, this is before. Now we do have a 20-pound iron, it is a laundry iron and it came from [Bo Kees?] Laundry. Do you remember [Bo Kees?] Laundry up on the hill and it came from there and it, I think Pam has seen it, it is a great big heavy one, of course, they didn’t lift it in those days, use to have it on a piece of coiled spring and it would literally bounce, you could slide it from the stove right on to a great big table.

And these, I can remember my mother pushing these into the coals in the fire [audience noise] and getting these, one thing about these, I can always remember my Mom she use to have great big, not big but long beautiful black hair and it was always a joy for us and it was good for her too, she would be sitting there by the fire doing this and she would always let us brush it. I can remember this [?] but I can always remember these.

Now this one is a little bit of a gem. Now my sister remembers these irons, now this is damper here in the old days we use to have two pieces of metal the same shape cut in half of steel in here and they were down on the stove and get it red hot put it in there and put this together and then do your ironing. And Jessie was saying that she could always remember Mom when she was ironing, those things would hit together and they would have such a rhythmic sound. And then of course, we got, this is where the draft went on and this is the peg. That’s Stella’s.

Now I am going to mention this because I am allowed to mention this but this here is the biography, yeah, biographic dictionary of famous British Columbians and just prior to your journey I heard you mention Mark Bates, well there is quite a nice article in here about Mark Bates in the famous British Columbians and also Stella’s Grandfather. She has it marked; I think so, so I guess I won’t be able to say anything about it.

So that completes my presentation, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope it hasn’t been too boring, I know it hasn’t been very exciting but as they say on TV “you asked for it”.



Unidentified Lady: Before Stella starts her little, her talk, Gib, while the Stevens boys were playing commando and throwing the coal off the cars in front of the Stevens house there are several very well known local business personalities who were playing commando up on the other end of the track. I would love to mention their names but they did the same thing you did while the track foreman was...

Gib: Well, if the truth be known during the depression,

Unidentified Lady: Who put the lights out?

Gib: and the foreman would walk up there and he would see that fresh coal off that car, they knew and a matter of fact the fellow in the picking tables, there was an article, they would deliberately throw, their job was to pick the rocks from the coal but they would literally through some coal up because they knew there was about forty or fifty guys and kids up there wanting to get some coal. But, as I say, it wasn’t very funny at the time.

Unidentified Lady: No, it was cooperation on everybody’s part but I do remember some little Steven’s kids that use to throw rocks at lights and …[audience noise]

Gib: I have insulators too.

Stella: Now I understand you have all heard the tape. I am not going to carry on with further accolades to this group because I know how hard you all work and Gib has already done that part for both of us, we agreed on that.

So in order to start you off with our family I have done some personal searching in the past between the Northern tip of Scotland and two trips back to Shetland where we originated. Through the kindness of Gilbert who took me to see my ancestral ground, but I am going to take back to just before 1600 where times were very exciting.

Not for the Manson’s exactly but in the beginning, the islands off Norway were a possession of Norway and the Norwegians use to come from Norway on to this group of islands and on to deal with Northern Scotland. So in order to keep good relationships they decided, these earlier people, that perhaps they should have a marriage of convenience between Norway and Scotland, so royalty of Norway chose a fair young maiden and the higher uppers of Northern Scotland chose a very likeable young chap and they said this is it.

This marriage never came about because there was a message that came from Norway to say that due to the audacity of our neighbors to the south we must pay them a large sum of money so I am sorry I cannot give my daughter and a large, large dowry I have intended to do. But in order to keep everybody happy we would like to give you some land, so they gave Scotland the Shetland Islands, the Orkneys, the Outer and Hebrides and this is where my ancestral grounds are seated but before that, now we have this straighten out, we must hear about Gerald Gun the dastardly Viking who ran in a ship like this one from Norway onto Shetland and left a few kith and kin and then scattered around the top end of Scotland and began to immediately pillage and ravish the land. And he took castle after castle until he was exhausted and he finally had to take one more and he was killed. So they trundled him off to some island off the North coast, North West coast of Scotland and buried him. That was in the middle sixteen hundreds and in between there, this is my own research, in between there, I have lost a hundred and fifty years somewhere, where we became the gentle shepherds and the nice people who farmed the land. No more Viking bloodthirsty and I think perhaps I think perhaps I could have been enjoying that part of it [chuckles] only I didn’t get to be.

So anyway, I must now skip to the very early 1800s where the father of my grandfather was born in, close to [Sandway?] in the early the early 1800s and his name was John Manson who had many sons. Like Lawrence, and Willie and John and Michael and so on and so forth.

On the other side of the family who were the Duncan’s who originally were in Leith in Northern Scotland and they eventually moved over to Shetland and I saw the homestead of my Great- Grandfather on my Grandmother’s side. His name was John Sinclair Duncan.

This is my infinite treasure “here in lies the whole story of not only the Manson’s and the Duncan’s but of many, many Nanaimo people and close by spread out from here to Comox Valley up into the Yukon to the mainland and he mentions that it is a story told as in a diary and mentioning many, many names of which I couldn’t possibly go through all.

But I have used this book as my bases and it has served me well. So that he was now a widower and living on Shetland Island, I saw my Grandfather’s home where he was born, now in rubble.

But this author’s house was a little inland and it still stands in good condition fairly well.

Start of Side 2.

..and the cows and [?] all leaning toward Norway. You don’t hear bagpipes and you don’t see the clans running around [?] all over the place. But I have seen our ancestral land where my father was the Laird and has been handed down to where my brother Bill is now the Laird of this land. It is a piece of grass and a little bit of white granite.

Gib: It’s like Mudge Island. [Laughter]

Stella: The grass is very green tho’. So anyway, the Manson’s then started to migrate and the first one was my Great Uncle Mike and I am going to go over this very quickly because I understand you like a question period and the Manson’s in Nanaimo were of recent history, which I could perhaps tell a tale or two about if you wish.

Anyway, Great Uncle Mike came out and he started the confectionary store before it was a general store and that would be in 1875. He wrote, he wrote to my Grandfather in Shetland and he said “Lawrence, you should come out here, you wouldn’t believe it is just beautiful, you can have meat everyday if you like.” So my Grandfather married my Grandmother and packed her up and out he came. Followed by many others.

And when he first came to Nanaimo, my Grandmother worked in the confectionary store while my Grandfather worked for the mine and was a straw boss, narrowly escaping with his life in both mine disasters. And in the meantime, Uncle Willie went to a place called Hatzic, there was another one who settled around English Bay, two who went to Cortes Island and had Middle Match on it as well. Another branch of the family went to the Yukon, one went to Alaska, and another went to the Comox Valley.

And all of these are in this book and very interesting stories but too much in detail to tell you. So the one that we are concerned about is Lawrence, of course. Lawrence never tended or leaned toward politics but many of the Manson’s did. They were Liberals and they were Conservatives. This blended finally into the [?] family at Salt Spring Island and oh who else was there? The Smiths, all kinds of them were derivates of the Manson’s. And at one time, W. G. Manson was MPP for several terms of office and also Mayor of Nanaimo, around 1900 he was the acting mayor and I think that shortly after that he was the Mayor. And in fact, beat out Mayor Bate for it at one time right.

So, anyway when my Grandfather took over the store, he then set his brother Michael free. Now, Michael didn’t really like the store, he was for the sea, he ran a little boat between Gabriola, Nanaimo and Vancouver with the very famous Gabriola Land Fruit and Vegetables as his stuff that he merchandised. And in connection with this and our connection with the Indian group in Nanaimo he was going to Gabriola one day, on a very, very rough day and he heard these cries for help and when he looked across he saw and Indian who’s dugout had overturned, so he went to give the Indian aid and in fact I suppose saved his life and the Indian having no white man’s name took the Manson’s name and became his devoted follower and to this day there is still a Manson family on the local Indian reserve and in fact, one day a lady knocked on my mother’s door and she said “Mrs. Manson would you like to buy some fish?” And my mother said, well I don’t really think so we usually just get these things through the store. But she said my name is Mrs. Manson. Oh well, and after she recovered she found herself buying several fish and Mrs. Manson from the reserve was very happy.

As the store developed, they took over the sole agency for Buckerfields and this was one of the areas in which they enlarged and this came in by railroad car and was sealed and not able to be opened until the Manson’s went through it. He also, Grandpa Manson also mixed his own tea, three different teas were put into this potpourri, which he climbed all the way up and came down [?]. But it was sold as Light Manson’s Tea that was it.

Trade by barter was a big thing. I tried that when I had a corner store and I just about got my license lifted, you don’t do that these days. But we did a great deal of it then.

And so,

Gib: [tell them about ?]

Stella: You want to hear a story about you, Gib?

Okay, every Christmas the family who took care of the Indian books and managed their money affairs also made an official visit to the store and the sons, two oldest sons would come with the Chief and they would come to the store and line it all up, and say okay, I’d hustle out and get my father and knock on the door and poke in and say Mr. Manson my father the Chief is now ready to see you. This was their annual Christmas visit. And we as clerks would be all lined up, all brushed, spit and polish looking very sharp and in would come the two chief’s sons with the chief and he would sit down and after we were introduced the chief would nod his head and that we knew, we were rehearsed, that would mean disappear, it would leave Grandpa and my Dad talking to them in Salish. And they would speak for a while and an nod a little bit later from the Chief, they would say my father the chief is ready to go now and we’d all be whistled back in position and say ‘good bye very nice to see you’.

This ritual went on for years and in the meantime the store people looked after the accounts for the Indians and kept their books straight and also did the correspondence for people who were immigrants from other countries and my dad did legal work for them, would write the letters that they dictated and send them off to middle Europe, Hungary or where ever they came from while they were busy at the store with this branch.

The other branch previous to this had gone to Cortes Island and had gained about 160 acres of land. Mike was at one end and John was up the way a bit and they had Middle Match Island where they use to raise their cattle and sheep. So one day this one, John Sinclair Duncan came to visit at the age of 81, he came out, he spent three years in this area writing all of these things. He went with them and eventually found himself at Middle Match Island where they ran their herds of cattle and sheep. Well, the Indians use to paddle across and take sea gull eggs because this was beautiful rookery and they didn’t mind but it was that the white people started to steal, it became so prevalent that they finally gave up this island and eventually gave it to the government and it is now an under sea thing where they teach you to snorkel and they show you through an undersea path where you can see all different fishes and watch the birds nesting and that is what became of that piece of land there also as you all probably know Manson’s Landing at Cortes Island .

And during the writing of this book there is one thing here that rather astounded me because I always thought the Indians had no writings but John Sinclair Duncan has come up with something in Chinook and it is the Lord’s prayer and it is here written in Chinook and if any of you would care to read it, it has a few English words in it, anybody here would care to read it that would be just marvelous.

Later on in the book the one other thing I wanted to tell you about was in his investigation of all people local he spoke to a man called Fraser who was also a Shetland person and who was out on the five acres. So he went to have a look at this five acres and he said it was a most wondrous thing, all the crops were in and coming along splendidly and he spotted a great big hole and it was covered like a great big drainage hole but it was dry and it was covered. And he said, Mr. Fraser I might make inquiries as to what is in there? He said, well, when the seas get high there is a stream that runs through there and the salmon will spawn and I have caught fish in that hole. Now bear in mind that this is right in the middle of acreage and my Great Grandfather said “Well, that sounds very interesting, is it true? Two feet long these fish and he said I may tell this, one time I was bed and somebody told me there is a salmon in the hole so he jumped up almost in the nude which is a very hard thing for my Great Grandfather to prove and he grabbed a pitchfork and he ran out and speared that salmon and had it for dinner and this is apparently a true fact written right here.

The other thing that very much amazes and astonishes him was when use to go a lot back and forth the Gulf of Georgia and climb to the top of Mount Benson and surely my Dad’s tape holds that story.

He said that he saw people walking along English Bay where his son had property and they were most wondrously dressed but in the water there were people bathing, not only bathing but they were bathing in mixed groups – men and women together [chuckles from the audience] and the men were putting hands on the ladies to show them how to swim. But mind you they were suitable clothed. [Laughter] That was probably a very good idea to learn to swim just in case your boat should get knocked over some day.

So, to show you a little of the Shetland part of heritage, my Dad gave me this book many, many years ago and I just love it. In here is a letter from a man who if he is still living and we saw him in 1975 would be in his middle 90’s and his name is Matt Henderson and he kept an eye on the property. Now his report, which I have now is 1966 receipt for expenditure for the land at [Extension?] [Cunningsburgh?] Shetland owned by Mr. William R. Manson, Nanaimo BC for the above year – rent $4.00 less owner's rates, this is for the year. A four pounds ten paid by the tenant and the postage is a pence here and there, so the balance and the total profit for this great ownership of land which my Dad was a Laird was a grand sum three pounds fourteen and two. The above sum deposited with the National Bank of Scotland on the tenth of January 1967 for transfer.

[Murmur from the audience] Yeah, every time there was a letter sent, my Dad was very active with a mission to lepers among other things, always cut the stamp out because they paid by the pound you see. He had his little church in Chase River doing the same thing, he talked me into taking up farm work and teaching a choir out there and my Uncle Doug was playing either on the xylophone, [?] and chimes and my Uncle Ernie at the organ, my Dad on violin and there I would be [loud clapping] Singing Out in the Garden and whatever else.

Until I smarten up a little bit, I always wanted to drive and one day we were going out to this church at South Five Acres and he said “you’ve always wanted to drive haven’t you?”. And I guess I was fifteen and I said, “Yes, I have.” And he said okay this is it, he got out, I got in, I crashed two or three gears and I have been driving ever since.

And in connection with Gib’s family, there was a time where I was a very sickly little tadpole, you see and at one time I was eleven years old I believe when I came down with whooping cough and pneumonia. My nurse was Mrs. Rogers, you remember Mrs. Rogers? A very kindly person, my Doctor was Doctor [Eman?] I had a night nurse and a day nurse.

When, I am not wanting to give you my sad story, you can put your hankies away it’s not that bad, as the crisis of the whooping cough came along Mrs. Rogers said we need some brandy or some whiskey or something. Well, the Manson house, nary a drop passed over that threshold so Mrs. Rogers said to my Mother, there must be some body in the neighborhood. And my mother said there are some people who live on the corner and I think they might have some spirits in their house. So away Mrs. Rogers went and sure enough Mrs. Stevens sent over this little bit of brandy and the precise moment I am either choking or I am okay, she shoved this stuff down my throat and I lived, as you see.

Gib: And [?] ever since. [Laughter]

Stella: And in order to pay Mrs. Rogers, my mother couldn’t thing of a thing and so in her later life I suppose around fifty, she took up oil painting and did a very beautiful oil portrait and gave it to her as thanks for saving my life.

So that pretty well brings me up to date, I was also in the service as was three brothers and we have four Nanaimo born generations now, our granddaughters is eight, hopefully we will maybe live to see another generation then there will be five Nanaimo’s and am very proud of it.

Thank you very much.


Stella: Oh, I brought these pictures of the store, some of you may remember [?] Butcher who put these together, his facts are not just exactly all straight but it is pretty close.

Gib: I would like to read this to you being a historical society:

“Mr. Lawrence Manson opened his general store at 46 Haliburton Street back in 1875. Behind the opposite counter is one of his sons, Ernest. When the grand old man passed away in 1944, his sons carried on the business until 1956. Back in 1889, the store was modernized by open gas jets flame [?] Coal Gas Company. Regrettable the City of Nanaimo did not find storage space to store such treasures as mahogany counters, [?], big hand cranked coffee grinders, large brass weighing scales, etc. for the 1967 Barkerville centennial became the lucky owners of such treasures gratis.”

Stella: This is also the sort of thing came as ballast in the ships of England and when they docked down here, this was all chucked out you see, so my Dad as a very young boy went down and I have two of these, he got those and carried them treasures to his mother. So I brought this one to show you.

We all know these are [you hear something rolling] oops!

Gib: [?] Not you Pam!

[There is a lot of discussion of this item that is inaudible]

Audience: The Fraser you mentioned would he be the one that lived on Bruce Avenue just below where SuperValu is now? Going towards...

Stella: This would be very likely because in the book.

Audience: Mr. And Mrs. Fraser lived in that house and they were from those islands.

Stella: It says here, you see, on the 12th of June 1909 I visited a district and Vancouver Island named the Five Acre Lots and by invitation called upon Mr. Alexander Fraser.

Audience: I think that would him, because [inaudible]

Stella: Oh, I see, yes

Audience: What is the name of your apartment house?

2ndAudience: [inaudible]

Stella: No, it is with an S.

[Inaudible discussion between audience members]

Audience: May I ask the name of the books that are on the table?

Stella: Oh, it is written by John Sinclair Duncan and it is called “From Shetland to BC”. And for this purpose, he wrote this book as money making project and that is why it is absolutely loaded with many, many names.

Audience: [inaudible]

Stella: Yes, Yes

Audience: Where was it published, Stella?

Stella: [?] Commercial Street in 1911

Gib: [inaudible]

Audience: Who published it? I will look at it after the [?], never mind.

Stella: Yes, yes, that’s fine

Audience: I will get in touch with you again about it and

Audience: What did you like reading we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Audience: I speak on behalf of everyone at the Nanaimo Historical Society – Thank you very much indeed for coming. There is an old saying in Britain that the Scots always went south of the border for their cattle and their wives but I think in this instance a mother from [Hattersfield?] and the family from Scotland obviously with two delightful mothers with very strong will the arrangement having been made before [?]. [Laughter]

But you do indeed have a most gracious mother and I have enjoyed many long chats with her about all sorts of wonderful things. It was a splendid potpourri of everything, Pam always very good at potpourri, always come out extremely knowledgeable and a bargain with a sense of humor is also very much appreciated. I have listened to the Manson tape and I am not sure if there is another one but we loved what you told us this evening that is certainly not on there and one of the things that I don’t think was said in there but there were so many Manson’s in the legislature. And even before the time [?] more Manson’s in the legislature then there were members on the opposition benches.

Thank you both very much indeed, with thoroughly enjoyed you coming and maybe we will see you again some time.

Gib: Thank you very much.


Mrs. Paterson has just called to my attention that the ballast that is mentioned in the talk is a shell and that is about all I can tell you about it.
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