The Cowichan Lake of a century ago

Who were they, why were they here, and when did they leave?
We’ll never know for sure, but one thing is certain; there were 85 individuals listed as living here in the Cowichan Lake District 100 years ago.

Once the trail to Cowichan Lake was established

Once the trail to Cowichan Lake was established

Who were they, why were they here, and when did they leave?

We’ll never know for sure, but one thing is certain; there were 85 individuals listed as living here in the Cowichan Lake District 100 years ago.

According to the 1911 census, 66 males and 19 females, including children – eight girls and seven boys between the ages of two months and fifteen years.

With a bit of additional research, a few facts were uncovered on some of the residents who lived here one hundred years ago.

One of the names on the census evoked a curiosity for further research based solely on his unusual name.

English born Frederick W. Knewstubb, was listed as age 36, single and head of the household in which he lived. There were three other men, all in their 20s, listed as lodgers in Knewstubb’s dwelling.

A hydraulic engineer employed by the Water Works Branch of the BC provincial government, Knewstubb led exploration parties for power development in various regions of the Coast Mountains in the 1920s and other areas prior to that time. His stay here was most likely connected to his work, which may have required the inspection of local lakes and rivers.

It was during the 1930s that he discovered one of the world’s greatest hydroelectric sites on the Nechako River.

In later years a lake, a mountain, and glacier in the Central BC Interior were all named after him. He died in Saanich in 1937 at age 63, and was buried at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria.

One of the few families listed on the census were the Frank Green family.

Green arrived here in 1885, staying just a short while before venturing off to Australia via sailing vessel. Two years later, he returned to Cowichan Lake where he homesteaded, preempting 164 acres of land  (from the CPR) a few miles from the Riverside Inn.

Born in Wales in 1906, Louisa Spencer, age 33, left her home in Wales for Canada ending up in Victoria, where she had family.

By 1911, she was married to Frank Green and had a nine-month-old son, Brian. The Greens occupied a small log home on the vast homestead, which came to be known as Greendale. Their second son, Trevor, was born in 1912.

Over the years, the family farmed and later operated a summer camp for guests while Louisa taught music lessons to help augment the family income.

The senior Greens remained at Greendale for the rest of their lives until illness and age caused them to be hospitalized.

In 1947 at the age of 85 the old pioneer Francis (Frank) Jacob Green died in Duncan hospital.

He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, North Cowichan. Louisa continued to live at Greendale until 1963, when she moved to Cherry Point Lodge rest home near Mill Bay. She died there January 1965 at age 92. Their sons died many years later. A grandson and great granddaughter live in the area.

To be continued with next week’s column.