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authority records
Cortes Island Museum and Archives Person

Sherwood, Mae

  • Person
  • 1931 -

Mae Sherwood (b. Feb. 8, 1931), and her husband Alden, moved to Cortes Island in 1992. She was active in the Whaletown Community Club until moving off-island in 2016, serving as Secretary for seven years, and then as Social Convener. She started the Classical Music program in 1994 and initiated other projects such as the Salad Bar at Cortes Days and the Pie Table at Sand Castle Day.

Anderson, Elton

  • Person
  • 1908 -1975

Elton Anderson (1908 -1975) was a naturalist and conservationist. He was born in Victoria and lived for some years on Cortes Island. A former logger, Anderson became a leader in conservation work in BC. He served as president of the Federation of BC Naturalists, was an honorary life member of the Vancouver Natural History Society and the Victoria Natural History Society, and a member of the Canadian Nature Federation.

Slater, Ken

  • Person
  • 1905-1970

Ken Slater (1905-1970) was a long-time resident of Cortes Island, a commercial fisherman and boat builder who was also an accomplished carver and cartoonist. His boatworks was located on the site now occupied by the Whaletown Post Office. Ken built the "Sylva Jane", launched in 1946, for Reg and Sylvia Walsh. He also built a model of the ship, which is in the collection of the Cortes Museum. Ken moved to Cortes Bay in 1962. His cartoons, artwork and wood carvings were displayed and sold at many island affairs.

Sweeny, Sedley

  • Person
  • 1917-2013

Sedley Bell-Irving Sweeny (November 29, 1917 - December 19, 2013) was born in England. He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada with a commission in the Royal Engineers and went on to serve in World War II with the 8th Army from El Alamein onwards, then in Sicily, Italy and Greece; he was awarded Military Cross for valour at the Garigliano River crossing in Jan.'44.
He married Diana Game in 1941 and they had three daughters: Nicola, Terry and Robin. He retired from the army in 1957, bought a farm in Wales, and for the next thirty years devoted his energies to sustainable land management, self sufficiency and, increasingly, the welfare of marginalized people. With Diana, he managed an orphanage for Tibetan refugee children in Simla, India, on behalf of Save the Children Fund, subsequently founding The Society for Training in Rural Industries and Village Enterprises, through which he provided instruction and practical experience for Tibetan family groups on his farm.
Sedley returned to BC in 1985, divorced and single again. At age 71 he rowed to Cortes from Vancouver, where he met and married his second wife, Trude Albright, in 1989. Sedley was a Self Sufficiency advocate promoting a Cortes wide vision of cooperation and skill sharing. He and Trude were involved in many Cortes community initiatives including an emergency first aid and ambulance service; the Friends of Cortes Association; the Cortes Ecoforestry Society; the Cortes Earmark Book of islander skills; and The Cooperation For Cortes Self Sufficiency. Many of the associated activities happened at Trude's Café. A skilled boat-builder, he converted a fishing boat into a junk-rigged yacht, and he also instructed Cortes youth in boat-building and sailing.
Sedley died at home at the age of 96 and is buried in the Whaletown cemetery.

Pyner, Marguerite Flora

  • Person
  • 1914-2009

Marguerite (Peggy) Flora Pyner (1914-2009) grew up in a family of seven children on Valdes Island. In 1945, she and her husband Jim Pyner bought 62 hectares on Cortes Island (now Hollyhock Retreat Center) for $2,500, where they logged and farmed. Their children Nancy (Anderson) and Barb (Warman) were born in 1946 and 1949. She wrote a weekly column, "The Manson's Landing Mirror" for the Campbell River Courier.

Thompson, Doreen (Huck)

  • Person
  • 1944-2006

Doreen (Huck) Thompson, 1944-2006:
Doreen’s grandparents, William Edward Huck and Mabel Wells Huck, arrived on Cortes Island in 1915. Widowed in WWI, Mabel and her four children left Cortes for Vancouver in 1923. Her son Harry, Doreen’s father, returned to Cortes in the 1930s. He married Edith Launchbury in 1937 and they had two children, Doreen (b.1944) and Ed (b.1945, d.1993). Doreen and Ed were raised in Whaletown and attended school there and at Manson’s.
Doreen graduated from Vic High in Victoria before marrying Bob Thompson in 1962. From 1961 to 1963, Doreen lived in Teakerne Arm in a floathouse Bob had built on the shore of the Whaletown Lagoon and then moved to the shores of Heriot Bay on Quadra Island. Her children were born in 1964 (Janny) and 1965 (Debby). In 1970 the family and the house moved to Cortes Island where both daughters attended school to Grade 10.
Doreen spent a few years living in Alberta and Victoria in the early 1980s and then returned to Cortes Island. Doreen developed a deep knowledge of the history of the island and she devoted considerable time to preserving, gathering and sharing her own and others knowledge of the island through her volunteer work at the Cortes Island Museum and Archives.
Doreen was one of the founders of the Cortes Island Museum. She curated four exhibits at the Museum, including “Windows on Whaletown” in 1999, “Von Donop Inlet”, the commercial fishing portion of “Celebrating Wild Salmon”, and “Memories of Manson’s Landing”. She researched and created albums which combine photographs, reminiscences and clippings to document the history of various island areas, such as Green Valley and Whaletown. The Doreen Thompson Exhibit Gallery at the Museum commemorates her contributions.
Doreen was making a fourth cross-Canada road trip from Cortes to Newfoundland when she was killed in a car accident near Fort McLeod, Alberta on August 1, 2006.

Milne, Eleanor

  • Person

Eleanor (Christensen) Milne is a third generation Cortes Islander. Her parents are Mabel (Lowe) and Buster Christensen; her grandparents are Henry and Lydia (Heay) Hague. The Christensen/Hague/Milne family homes are in the Manson's Lagoon area.

Freeman, Wilfred

  • Person
  • 1917-2012

Wilfred (Wilf) Michael Freeman was born October 21, 1917 in Vancouver B.C. and died December 23, 2012. He was the son of William George Freeman and Robina Steel (Manson) Freeman and brother to Elizabeth Jane May (Freeman) Ellingsen (born March 13, 1914); his grandparents were Michael and Jane Manson. Wilf grew up on Hernando Island until 1926 when the family moved to Vancouver. One of his first jobs in the early 1930s was in Powell River where, among other things, he was hand digging basements under some of the original Powell River townsite homes.

He gravitated to the logging industry, working for Sigurd Ellingsen and Eric Flescher in Phillips Arm through the late ’30’s and into the 1950’s. He was an excellent worker; strong, resourceful, thoughtful, humorous and thorough, and, as well, he enjoying hunting and fishing.

Wilf and his wife, May (Spence, died 1970) moved down to Smelt Bay on Cortes in the early 1950’s from Phillips Arm. He logged with Bill Mathews between 1954 and 1965 in the Von Donop Creek areas. As well, they both crewed on the seine boat “Courtenay Maid” with Pat Andrews for a few summers.

When the ferry came to Cortes Island, both Wilf and Bill worked as deckhands, always cheerful and busy throughout the trips, often chipping and repainting rust spots on the ship.

Wilf was active in many community affairs over all the years living on Cortes: among them the Ratepayers Association, the 1958 Centennial Committee, the Cortes Grapevine Telephone Assoc. (a local telephone system, 1959 - 1966), Cortes Days summer celebrations, Cortes Island Firefighters Assoc., Cortes Rod and Gun Club.

Wilf and his second wife, Nora, lived on in Smelt Bay until they moved to Willow Point, South of Campbell River, in 2002. There they lived until, on December 23, 2102, he passed away while shoveling snow in their back yard.

Hurst, Yendor

  • Person
  • 1948-2005

Yendor (ca.1948-2005) moved to Cortes Island in 1973, after buying into Redlands Land Group, at the top of Robertson Rd. Gloria Jorg joined him in 1979. He was very involved in community activities, including the drama group, forestry committees, talent shows, drumming, oyster farming, Emergency First Aid Service, and the Whaletown Community Club. He served as webmaster for the Watershed Sentinel from 1995 to 2004.
Yendor made many trips to Ghana. He built djembe drums and had a gallery in his home featuring handmade drums, natural African products, and drum carving workshops. His import business of shea butter supported a women’s co-operative in Ghana, and helped preserve the trees.
Yendor died in an accident in 2005, when his safety belt broke as he was limbing branches high up in a tree.

Douglas, Gilean

  • Person
  • 1900-1993

Gilean Douglas (christened Gillian Joan Coldham Douglas) was born in Toronto, Ont. In 1900. Orphaned at the age of 16, she began to work as a free-lance writer and photographer. Over her lifetime her work appeared in more than 200 publications, often published under pseudonyms (Grant Madison, Armoral Kent and Jill MacLean). Douglas published eight books of poetry and three books of non-fiction, and, from 1961 to 1992, wrote a regular column, "Nature Rambles", for the Victoria Colonist (later Times-Colonist). In 1939, following the collapse of her third marriage, Douglas moved from Ontario to an isolated cabin in the mountains near Hope, B.C. Her first two books of nature writing (one published under the name Grant Madison) document her life there. Her cabin was destroyed by fire in 1947 and two years later she moved to a 138-acre waterfront homestead on Cortes Island with her fourth husband, Philip Douglas, (ne Major). Her marriage ended in 1953 but she remained there until her death in 1993. Her home, Channel Rock, had no road access and no electricity. Douglas had a large garden and supplemented her writing income by selling produce and plants. Douglas took a leading role in community affairs and local politics. She held office in several community organizations and acted as a school trustee. As a member of the Women's Institute, she held local, district, provincial and national office, edited a book on its history, and was awarded a Life Membership in 1989. Douglas was a member of the first Cortes Island Advisory Planning Commission and represented Cortes on the Regional Board of Comox-Strathcona as Alternate Director from 1968 to 1973 and as Director from 1973 until 1977. List of Book Publications: 1952, Now the Green Word (Wings Press, Mill Valley, Ca.); 1953, Poetic Plush (The Story Book Press, Dallas, Texas); 1953, River For My Sidewalk by "Grant Madison"; J. M. Dent & Sons, Toronto, Ont.); 1954, The Pattern Set (Quality Press, Montreal, Quebec); 1959, Modern Pioneers (a history of the Women's Institute, ed. by Douglas; Evergreen Press); 1967, Seascape With Figures (Prairie Press, Iowa City, Iowa); 1973, Now In This Night (Harlo Press, Detroit, Mi.); 1978, Silence Is My Homeland (Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa.); 1979, The Protected Place (Grays Publishing, Sidney, B.C.); 1982, Prodigal (Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, B.C.); 1984, River For My Sidewalk (by Gilean Douglas; Sono Nis Press); 1985, Kodachromes at Midday (Sono Nis Press); 1992, Seascape With Figures - Poems Selected and New (Sono Nis Press).

Nursall, Ralph

  • Person
  • 1925

(John) Ralph Nursall was born in 1925. He joined the University of Alberta in 1953 as a lecturer in marine zoology and was granted full professorship in 1964. Nursall chaired the Department of Zoology for three terms, retiring in 1988. A specialist in freshwater biology and the anatomy of fish, he was president of the Edmonton Zoological Society and Chair of the panel on hazardous waste for the Environmental Council of Alberta. Material relating to his professional career may be found in the John Ralph Nursall fonds in the University of Alberta Archives.
Ralph and Mary (Stewart) Nursall (1924-2017) married in 1953. They lived in Edmonton for thirty-five years, both working at the University of Alberta, and moved to Cortes Island in 1989.
Nursall was elected Regional Director of Electoral Area I (Cortes Island) for the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona (RDCS) in November of 1990. He served two terms as Director: 1990-1993, and 1993-1996. From 1995 to 1997 the BC government undertook a comprehensive review of salmon aquaculture; continuing after the end of his term, Nursall represented the RDCS on a Salmon Aquaculture Review Committee. He was involved in the BC First Nations treaty process from 1996 to 2002 as chair of the Cortes Island Local Advisory Committee (CILAC).

Newsham, Peggy

  • Person
  • 1907-1999

Peggy Newsham (1907-1999) was born in Belfast, Ireland. At the age of 16, she emigrated to Vancouver, Canada. In 1937, Peggy met Doll (Jeffery) Hansen and together they traveled on the Union Steamship to Cortes Island. She worked for Alice Robertson at Burnside in Whaletown, helping with the gardening, livestock and household chores. Peggy moved to Manson's Landing in the late 1960s, where she was active in the Community Club and took part in many social activities. She was crowned "Queen of Cortes" by acclamation at Cortes Day in 1979. There is a memorial to Peggy in the garden of the Cortes Island Museum.

Carkener, Michael

  • Person
  • 1949-

Michael Carkener (b.1949) has lived at 757 Sutil Point Rd., Manson's Landing on Cortes Island since ca. 1978. The house at that address was originally built by the Froud family in 1914. Frederick Froud donated a portion of his land for Manson's Landing Community Hall and St. James Church in the 1920s.

Ellingsen, Elmer

  • Person
  • 1913-2002

Elmer Ellingsen (1913-2002) was born in North Vancouver to Sigurd and Gladys Ellingsen. After graduating from high school, he took a short course in business at Sprott Shaw College. In the early 1930s Elmer worked in logging and became a strong supporter of the trade union movement. He also had classical piano training in school, later turning to popular music; he played for many dances and parties until well into his eighties.
Elmer married May Freeman on August 1, 1936. They built a float house and spent the next ten years in the Loughborough Inlet/Phillips Arm area where Elmer worked in his father's logging operations. While there, their children Shirley (1939), Bruce (1940) and Andy (1941) were born. In 1946 they moved to Von Donop Creek, where Elmer formed a logging partnership with Mike Herrewig and Scotty McKenzie. In 1950, he formed a new partnership with Erne Anderson for logging in the Whaletown area, and moved the floathouse to Manson's Landing lagoon. Two years later their floathouse was moved to its present location on Hague Lake.
After traveling from home to various logging operations, Elmer retired from logging. He bought a D8 Caterpillar tractor, backhoe and gravel truck and worked for the next forty years excavating, delivering gravel and moving things. He often worked with BC Hydro and BC Tel on pole installation, repair and maintenance.
Both Elmer and May were very active in community life. They sponsored weekly movie nights through the 1950s and square dancing in the sixties. Elmer was a leading promoter of bringing ferry and hydro service to the island; he helped renovate Manson's Hall in the late 1970s, lobbied for road paving and helped initiate the Cortes Island Firefighters Assoc. in the 1980s. Both were founding members of the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society.

Olson, Jalmar

  • Person
  • 1869-1964

Jalmar Olson (Apr 30, 1869-Feb 29, 1964) was born in Sweden. He emigrated to Canada in 1906 and moved to Cortes in the 1930s. He had a house and garden in Gorge Harbour (509 Whaletown Road). He was a Weather Observer for Transport Canada until 1949, when he moved off-island for health reasons.

Sullivan, Margaret

  • Person
  • 1934-2017

Margaret (Marg) Sullivan (1934-2017) was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba. She married Clarence “Sully” Sullivan in 1955, and they moved to Cortes Island in the early 1980s, taking an active part in community affairs. Marg was a stained-glass artist, and she created the windows for St. Saviour-By-The-Sea Church overlooking Cortes Bay. Each personalized window commemorates a long-time Cortes resident and there is a fascinating story behind the creation of each window. Marg also custom designed the circular stained glass window above the entrance door of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in the Klahoose village of Tork in Squirrel Cove. This window is imbued with symbolism meaningful to the Klahoose First Nation and tells a story all its own. The Band Administrator in 1998 arranged for Marg to meet with Klahoose elders and artists to consider design elements the Band wished to have her incorporate in the window. She made research trips to the First Nations Museum at Alert Bay and to the Klahoose traditional lands in Toba Inlet before designing the window. Marg’s personal stories about each of these windows were recorded for preservation in the Museum’s Archives at a tea in 2015.

McKay, Florence Manson

  • Person
  • 1900-1995

Florence Manson McKay was born Jan. 21, 1900 to Michael and Jane Manson. Michael Manson was the first person to pre-empt land on Cortes Island, a quarter section on Gunflint Lake (present-day Linnaea Farm). Florence married Ervin McKay in 1918. They moved to Hernando Island in 1921 and Ervin worked with extended family members logging there and on Cortes Island. Florence and Ervin had two children: Etta (b. 1918) and Hazel (b. 1920). In 1929 the McKays took over Michael Manson's original pre-emption on Gunflint Lake, where they farmed until retiring in 1950. They moved to Courtenay, turning the farm over to daughter Hazel and her husband Ken Hansen. Florence was widowed in 1978 and returned to Cortes to live with Ken and Hazel, who had sold the farm but kept 16 acres to live on. Florence passed away in 1995.

Layton, James George

  • Person
  • 1897-1990

James (Jimmy) George Layton (1897-1990) was born in Camberwell, England. He fought in World War I, was severely wounded when he flung himself on a grenade which had landed in his foxhole, and received a medal for his bravery. In 1920, Layton emigrated to Canada, where he found work in coastal logging camps. Other members of the family, including his parents and seven of his ten siblings, also moved to Canada. At the time of his father's death in 1939, Layton, his parents and three of his brothers were living on Thurlow Island. In the 1940s he moved to the head of Von Donop Inlet on Cortes Island. His float house was drawn up on the beach next to a little islet that was joined to the shore at high tide, where he cultivated a garden and orchard. Layton found work logging and caretaking for local camps active in Von Donop, and helping his brother on his oyster lease. He moved to Powell River in 1973, where he passed away at the age of 92.

Whalley, Dorothy Mary Huck

  • Person
  • 1904-1983

Dorothy Mary Huck Whalley (June 30, 1904 - November 17, 1983) was the oldest of five children born to Mabel Wells Huck and William Edward Huck. Her siblings were Wilfred Harold (Harry), John Edward (Jack), Margaret Ethel and William Frances (Billie). Shortly after the Huck family arrived on Cortes in 1915 William E. Huck enlisted in the Army. He was killed in France in 1916, leaving Mabel with five children to bring up on her own. Her brother, Harold John (Jack) Wells was invalided home from World War I in 1917 and moved to Cortes, where he boarded with Mabel.

The Huck homestead, referred to as Hell's Half Acre or Billy Goat Hill, was in the NE 1/4 of Section 40, in Green Valley, the area around what is now known as Blue Jay Lake. Neighbours included the Barrett, Middleton, Tait and Tiber families. Dorothy was sent to Vancouver for schooling, and then returned to Cortes to attend the new Squirrel Cove school in 1916. In 1920 the Huck family moved to the Robertson property, Burnside, in Whaletown. Dorothy, having outgrown the local school system, went to Moose Jaw, Sk. where she finished high school and then attended a secretarial school run by her aunt and uncle. She married Joe Whalley and lived in Saskatchewan for many years before returning to live in Vancouver and White Rock. Dorothy died in White Rock on November 17, 1983.

Ellingsen, May

  • Person
  • 1914-2012

May Ellingsen was born on March 13, 1914 to George and Robina Freeman. Her maternal grandfather, Michael Manson, was the first person to pre-empt land on Cortes Island, claiming a quarter section on Gunflint Lake in 1886. May spent her childhood on Hernando Island, where her family homesteaded and logged, and on Cortes Island, where she attended the log school at Manson's Landing.
In 1936 May married Elmer Ellingsen. They spent the next ten years in the Loughborough Inlet/Phillips Arm area while Elmer worked for his father's logging operations. During those years their children, Shirley, Bruce and Andy, were born. In 1946 the family moved to Von Donop Creek, where Elmer was logging. In 1950 they moved their float house, built at the time of their marriage, to Manson's Landing Lagoon and two years later, to its present permanent location on Hague Lake.
May and Elmer devoted much time and energy to building their community. Amongst her many community activities, May ran the library at Manson's Hall. She had a strong interest in local history, researching the history of land pre-emptions on the island, collecting and annotating photographs from pioneer families and recording interviews with old timers. She was a founder of the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society; the archives reading room is named in her honor. Historical materials and artifacts gathered by May formed the kernel of the museum's collections and archives.