Diary offers glimpse of life on the islands 100 years ago

  • Jul. 8, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Exactly 100 years ago today, on July 9, 1909, Harriet Pallant arrived at Skidegate aboard the Amur to visit her son Cecil Pallant, who had settled on the islands. Harriet Pallant and her husband Arthur stayed in Sandspit for the next seven months, helping Cecil get established there (he had originally settled in Tlell), and she kept a diary during this time. The Sandspit property that the Pallants ended up purchasing is where the airport is now. Cecil Pallant raised his family of six children there, staying for 50 years. Last year, Mrs. Pallant’s diary turned up, brought from England to a Pallant family reunion in Sandspit. Shannon Pallant Mark of Prince Rupert thought some of the diary entries from July 1909 might be of interest to Observer readers, and sent them along. Here are some excerpts: July 9, 1909: Left the hotel at midnight and boarded the Amur, had rather a bad crossing across to Skidegate. Neither Arthur nor Cecil to meet me. A Mr. Smith who seems to look after everyone took me in and furnished a room for me in a house he has just taken. He has two nice lady helpers who work for him, Miss Menzies and Cooley. I went for a walk with them through the virgin forest. Giant trees and beautiful undergrowth, a wonderful sight was the long moss hanging from the dead tree. July 12, 1909: I hired a motor boat to go round the coast to Cecil’s ranch – we left at 9 am and reached there about 3 pm, rather a rough place to land – met Mr. Ray who came out in a rowing boat at Miller’s Creek. He joined us, and said he thought it would be more comfortable for us all to return to Sand Spit. It was too wet and the time too short for me to go to Cecil’s cabin, but I looked across from Mrs. Hodges. A river runs (Tie-el) beside his ranch which makes it very picturesque. It reminded me of a backwater on the Thames – the drawback seems the great distance from any other settlement. July 13, 1909: We, Arthur, Mr. Ray, Cecil and myself, reached Sand Spit at 9 pm. Mr. Stevens who lives at the house, had expected we might arrive any time, so we were able to get supper and beds. It is the picked spot on the islands. The place was cleared and the house, wharf etc built for a Mr. Code who, after spending much money never lived in it and gave it to Mr. Stevens, who cannot afford to keep it up. July 14, 1909: Arthur and Mr. Ray, after looking over the estate thoroughly, have agreed to purchase it in equal shares – the price including all farm implements, the house, land and part of furniture, 14 head of cattle, is 8,500 dollars. It is arranged that Cecil sells his land and comes here to live, dividing the half profits with his father. Mr. Ray drew up an agreement, the deposit was paid and all signed. It is a great joy to Cecil that Arthur has promised to stay most of the winter with him and help stand the place with cattle

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