Tag Archives: Cortes History

Tangible bones store intangible culture, memories and stories

Editor’s Opinion: Europe‘s written genealogies go back hundreds of years and we have traditions that appear to have risen out of events that took place thousands of years ago, yet many Canadian families appear to be divorced from their roots. They do not know who their ancestors were, how they lived and have only vague ideas (like ‘England,’ ‘Germany’ or Ireland etc) of where they came from. Traditions that were revered by generations past have long been dismissed as myths and fairy tales. Some Cortes families have a ‘sense of place’ that goes back for a few generations and many more have adopted this ‘magic island.’ Yet collectively, the question remains: how can a people who appear to have lost a sense of their own heritage, value the cultural depth of others?

By Sheri Narine, Windspeaker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Until federal politicians start “valuing people in their own homes”, intangible cultural heritage will remain misunderstood and underappreciated, said Agnieszka Pawlowska-Mainville, author of Stored in the Bones.

“They always assume that intangible cultural heritage has something to do with materials, museums, archives, when really sometimes it just means valuing people in their own homes. Like a grandmother teaching her grandson or granddaughter how to cook, a father using his own hands with his own niece, nephew to do some kind of carving or some kind of sewing. It’s that element that I think (there’s) a lot of misunderstanding about,” said Pawlowska-Mainville, an associate professor in First Nations Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia.

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Schools of Squirrel Cove

This is the first audio recording of the article below, and may have sufficient additional details to be called the most recent version. The text was originally published in the booklet Squirrel Cove (Cortes Island Museum & Archives Society)

At the beginning of the 1900s, Squirrel Cove on the east side of Cortes Island was a hub of activity for homesteaders, loggers, fishermen, miners and trappers. They came from all the surrounding islands for supplies, groceries, mail, repairs, radios and dances in the hall. There were two stores, a post office, church, hall, two machine shops, a boatworks, a marine ways, and a big dock where the Union Steamships stopped regularly. Jim Spilsbury also stopped frequently to install or repair his radios in boats and homes.

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New study shows how industrial development decimated fish populations near Vancouver

Editor’s note: To what extent is modern infrastructure responsible for the crash of fish populations? The book cited below explores how a 3,000 year-old fishery was destroyed when the city of Vancouver came into existence, but this is not a purely urban phenomenon. In a 2016 interview, Cortes Island streamkeeper Cec Robinson described how there is very little gravel left in Cortes Island streams because of early logging practises. This makes it more difficult for salmon to find places to spawn. When Provincial biologist Sean Wong installed a new culvert in Basil Creek, he told Cortes Currents there are 140,000 culverts in BC that are barriers to fish trying to migrate to their spawning grounds. Prior to the erection of the first dam in 1911, Powell River was a major spawning ground for Sockeye Salmon.

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, North Shore News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new study examining the historical decline of fish populations in Vancouver waters highlights the detrimental impacts urban development has had on the local environment, and way of life for First Nations communities.

The Rise of Vancouver and the Collapse of Forage Fish, published in December by Western Washington University, tracks the decrease in numbers of ocean forage fish like herring, smelt and eulachon between 1885 and 1920.

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How Whaletown got its name

Lynne Jordan, former President of the Cortes Island Museum, is writing a history of Whaletown. Her manuscript is already 300 pages long. In the first of a series of interviews about her research, Jordan describes the history behind Whaletown’s name.

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Memories of the old Whaletown Schoolhouse

After more than a decade of service, the Oyster Bay schoolhouse was barged over to Whaletown in 1950. There it opened its doors to the children of a new community.

Brigid Weiler started attending the Whaletown School in 1959. 

Her earliest memories are in that area.

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