Category Archives: History

When fishing was an industry in Whaletown

A great many fisherfolk once worked out of Whaletown. The Cortes Island Museum’s list goes back to the 1930s, at which point there were 7 men and a woman. Three of them used rowboats. 

“There used to be a huge fleet rafted out, both six and seven abreast all along  both sides of the dock, in Whaletown.  In the last 10 years or so, there’s only been three or four boats in there, fishing. The main one  that I know of in the last little while is the ‘C-Fin,’ but he goes outside of the Vancouver Island area and fishes tuna. When he comes back he doesn’t sell it to a fisheries, he sells it from the dock, and the same with his prawns.  So he’s not using a middle man to sell his products, which I suppose is one of the few ways you could make a little bit of money now,“ said Lynne Jordan, former President of the Cortes Island Museum, in the latest instalment of her history of Whaletown.

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The Quadra Project: An Island of Refugees

Islands are not convenient places to live, so why do people choose to settle on them? No single answer will suffice, but some insight can be gleaned from the fact that they are surrounded by water. This separation from elsewhere gives the impression that they are places of refuge for people who are at odds with the world, or when the world is at odds with people.

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How telephones came to Cortes Island 

According to Lynne Jordan,  former president of the Cortes Island Museum, there have been telephones on Cortes Island for more than 110 years. They arrived in 1910, along with telegraphs, but only in the stores.

“Telegrams were really cheap. They were so much for 10 words and so much for 100 words.  People got really good at confining their messages to 10 words. Telegraphs that came in for people were just put in an envelope and then pinned on the bulletin board at the store.  Then they either had to check themselves or a friend would tell them that there was a message there for them,” she said.

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Farewell To Trude’s Café

(From the Archives: March 14, 2022)

It was a beautiful time; you know, there’s these blips in history and you don’t realize that when it’s happening, how special it is.
— Lovena Harvey

On February 9th 2022, Whaletown neighbours near the Robertson/Whaletown intersection were alarmed by an unusual sight: the old “Trude’s Café” building was on fire.

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Behind Every Great Timber Fortune…?

[From the Archives: Feb 22, 2022]

“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” — Honoré de Balzac

On the 21st of January 2022, a notice appeared in Cortes Tideline, from Mosaic (a “forest management corporation” which handles logistics for TimberWest and Island Timberlands). The gist of it was captured in one sentence: “As we have now been able to spend some time becoming familiar with our private managed forest lands on Cortes Island, we would like to share details of our draft three-year plan with those interested from communities on Cortes Island.”

Mosaic was careful to include the important word “private” in their announcement — a reminder that some 9 percent of Cortes forest land is still owned by private timber companies (not Crown land), and that (since 2003 at least) “privately managed forest lands” are a different kettle of fish.

Most coastal residents are aware, on some level, that vast tracts of BC are privately owned by timber companies, whereas other tracts of land are “Crown land” where logging takes place under licence. Few, however, are aware of how that situation — and the inconsistent policies and rules governing the two different land types — came about.

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