Author Archives: Lyle Litzenberger

Correction regarding Frenchmen’s Bay Brick Factory

Page 164 of Burke and Widgeon – A History (Volume One) had related that Elijah Fader had been involved in establishing the brick factory at Frenchmen’s Bay, located on the west shore of Pitt Lake, not far from Silver Valley, via Cougar Pass.  Recent research has cast serious doubt about his involvement in that brick factory.  Instead, he appears to have established a similar venture, during the time-frame noted on Page 164, on the east shore of Pitt Lake, at Williams Landing.  The background information about Fader, as outlined on Page 164, remains accurate, except for what was thought to be his role in the Frenchmen’s Bay brick factory.  George Taylor’s association with the latter brickworks also remains accurate.  Additional research has confirmed that Taylor was issued a land patent for that Frenchmen’s Bay property on March 21, 1912, and that he did operate a “large brick manufacturing plant” there, at least during 1912 and 1913 as outlined on Page 164 of the book.  How long that plant continued to operate is still not clear. It does appear, though, that by the late 1920s, the land that Taylor had once owned at Frenchmen’s Bay had reverted back to the government due to the non-payment of property taxes.  Now, a century later, conclusive details are sometimes hard to come by.  But, if additional info about this is surfaced, I’ll relate it here, in this blog.

Additional info surfaced about the opening of Silver Valley School

Two additional recently-surfaced newspaper articles, pertaining to the opening of the Silver Valley School, offer additional information and, in part, corroborates that already outlined in Volume One, particularly on 293:

August 24, 1914, Vancouver Sun, Pg.3:  “Mr. Ewen Martin, secretary, and Trustee Hawthorne, of the Coquitlam school board, visited and staked out the site for the new school at Silver Valley.  The contract has been let to Mr. Nicholson, contractor, New Westminster.”

September 25, 1914, Vancouver Sun, Pg.3:  “Coquitlam, Sept. 24 – The Coquitlam school board will open the new school at Silver Valley, at Pitt Lake, on October 2Miss Cockering has been appointed teacher.  Chairman George Alderson and Secretary E. Martin visited the almost finished school on Wednesday and subsequently visited the Glen School, taught by Miss Bolton.

In Volume One, I had indicated, on Pg.289, my view that, given the available evidence about the number of days the Silver Valley operated during its first season, it was likely that it would have opened sometime in early September 1914.  The September 25, 1914 Vancouver Sun article now definitively pinpoints the opening date as October 02.  Perhaps it opened then and the additional days were made up during – or at the end of – the school year.  In any event, this new information is certainly welcomed.


Update: Silver Valley Post Office and Silver Valley School

A recently uncovered Vancouver Sun newspaper article established some helpful corroboration of details documented in the Burke and Widgeon – A History (Volume One) narrative about the opening of the Silver Valley Post Office and the Silver Valley School (book pages 282 through 297).

This article confirms the book’s assertion that the Silver Valley Post Office opened on June 01, 1914.  It reported that on May 12, 1914, the local Member of Parliament had committed to the post office’s imminent opening as well as the unofficial announcement that its first postmaster would be Alvin B. Olmstead, who was reported to have had the contract for carrying the mail from the Pitt River Bridge up to the Silver Valley Post Office for further distribution.

Significantly, the article also stated that a schoolhouse was also to be built in Silver Valley that summer, on an acre of land donated by Olmsted, which definitively confirms the school’s location as outlined on Volume One’s page 289.  Nice to see this additional corroboration!


Innocuous leads sometimes net very positive results

Old land files have shown that in 1941, one Hazel E. Richardson became the owner of a 26-acre property located at the upper-most part of the current Riversprings’ residential sub-division, mostly just above David Avenue and straddling Shaughnessy Street.  My research had initially anticipated that the later ownership details of that parcel would be at least somewhat illuminated but, instead, ironically, while that particular parcel’s subsequent details remained shrouded, Hazel Richardson’s kin were able to add much more information relative to when Hazel Avenue, at the top of Coast Meridian Road, was built, by whom and, importantly, for whom that street was named.  For a period, from the late 1940s, the Richardson family lived on their 40-acre Burke Mountain farm.  In the early 1950s, Hazel’s husband, Ken Richardson, had sub-divided their farm, which was situated immediately north of the current Hazel Avenue, directly west of the line of Coast Meridian Road.  He was required by Coquitlam Council to establish an east-west access grade, one which we now know as Hazel Avenue.  He named this road after his wife, Hazel.

The initial query to the Richardson kin, while not surfacing much about that first parcel of land, was a bonanza of information, bringing to life many important community details, some great stories about an early Burke family and several neat photographs depicting life for a family on the mountain.  Not the first irony this research has encountered but sweet, all the same.   L


The interweaving of early Burke and Widgeon families

In Volume One, we learned how frequently family connections existed between the various homesteading families that settled here.  Apparently, in Volume Two, that trend may continue.  One of the earlier landowners in Meridian Heights (top of Coast Meridian area) (c.1930s – 1940s) was a father and son team, James de Pas Murray (father) and James Ivan Murray (son).  Their family history can be traced back to the early years of the grandfather, James Irving Murray, who was living in Alameda County, California.  Curiously, this was the same community from whence the Millard family had originated, prompting a closer look for any other overlaps between the stories of James de Pas Murray and Augustus Millard.  Although Augustus was roughly a half-generation older than James de Pas, the similarities in their individual stories were striking.  Both were born in Warm Springs, Alameda County, California: Augustus in 1869 and James De Pas in 1888.  Both appear to have immigrated to Canada in about 1890: Augustus in 1890 and James De Pas in either 1890 or 1892.  Both appear to have had an initial presence in the Mission-Matsqui areas of BC during the 1890s: Albert Stallard (Augustus’ son) had been born there in 1892 and James De Pas married there in 1909.  In fact, the 1891 Canada Census lists both families as living in Sub-Dist. 14, New Westminster Dist., BC: Millards as Family #43 and the Murrays as Family #84.   And, both later acquired land within relatively close proximity of the other on Burke Mountain: Augustus arriving in 1923 and James De Pas following in 1931.
Coincidence? Or, did the two families know one another?

“Little Norway”

My recent focus has been directed towards uncovering more information about the history of this long-time enclave of summer homes, situated along the west shoreline of the Pitt River.  Few remnants of these homes remain today.  During this process, I’ve gained a better appreciation of the fact that there were two distinct areas where cabins existed: one at Little Norway, itself, and the second along MacIntyre Creek, located a bit north of Little Norway.  There appears to have been no direct connection between the two.  The cabins near MacIntyre Creek were on land that, back as early as 1907, had once been the home of John William David McLeod while the adjoining “Little Norway” enclave, located directly to the south, was the one-time homestead of Eric Nystrom in the 1920s and beyond.

Another, very gratifying aspect of this research has been the opportunity it has provided for me to meet some fine people and learn, directly from them, more about the history of this scenic spot.  This will make for an interesting addition to Volume Two of “Burke and Widgeon – A History”.

Silver Valley Trout Farm

One of the lesser-known but very interesting tidbits about the Quarry Road area of Burke Mountain was the fact that from the period of 1957 through to 1965 the Silver Valley Trout Farm operated just a short distance to the east of Quarry Road, partway between Minnekhada Park and the Munro Lake Trailhead.  Back in 1957, Hans Otto Lehmann and his wife, Mimi, purchased a twenty-acre parcel located on the east side of Quarry Road, partway between what is now the northern boundary of Minnekhada Park (to the south) and the Munro Lake trailhead (to the north).  Taking advantage of one of the many creeks in this area, they soon opened up a trout farm from which they fostered trout populations, selling fresh trout to Vancouver restaurants and eventually expanding to run a local trout fishing spot for many Vancouver-area fishing enthusiasts.  This latter endeavour was so successful, it was eventually showcased in the popular, 1960s sportsman show, “Tides and Trails”.  By 1965, though, the Lehmanns had moved their trout farming operations from Quarry Road further east, to the Mission and Hatzic Lake areas.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to interview the two sons of Hans and Mimi: Bernie and Hans Jr.  Together, they provided many insights into their family operations on Quarry Road, including some great photos and even an opportunity to view the tape of the “Tides and Trails” program that highlighted their parents’ Quarry Road trout farm.

About a month ago, I was able to walk around and explore that one-time Silver Valley Trout Farm.  As expected, with the passage of a half-dozen decades, I found it to be very much overgrown.  With careful inspection, though, there were still some telltale clues that remained to tell of the story that had once unfolded there: a depression in the earth where a one-time pond had existed, some water piping and a water trench complete with a concrete-framed gate.  Other than that, what remained were only a few boards from a one-time building, long since collapsed, and an assortment of metal items.  The forest, as always, has a way of reclaiming what man has made.

The Silver Valley Trout Farm will make for an interesting addition to Volume Two’s narrative, including some great photographs contributed by the Lehmann brothers.

Logging in the Widgeon by the Swiss

Recently, I had the privilege of driving a one-time Widgeon logger on a trip down his own memory lane.  Ab Harvey, now 91 years of age, had logged that specific area from the late-1940s to about 1960.  In that latter year, a Swiss company had been contracted to facilitate the logging of the high mountain benchland on the northeast side of Burke Mountain.  Ab’s job was to gradually make his way up the mountainside- a strenuous effort in itself – to a level area where a significant stand of large fir had been located.  Once there, Ab felled those trees, the cut logs from which were then ‘skylined’ down to the valley floor by the ingenious Swiss high-skyline rigging and dumped in very close proximity to Quarry Road.

Currently, though, while on the valley floor, Ab initially struggled with the placement of the location of that one-time Swiss high-skyline log dumping ground.  The growth of standing trees during the subsequent six decades had dramatically deteriorated the visibility of the nearby mountains, to the point where he initially had difficulty confirming the Swiss high-crane log piling area.  However, Ab’s careful recollections of his early observations paid off in the end, with his establishing that location with a fair degree of certainty.  Quarry Road traverses a level stretch, immediately south of the E-W creek that flows down to Widgeon Creek, below the current Widgeon Campground.  It was on that stretch of Quarry Road, just south of that creek, that the Swiss high skyline rigging had dumped the logs that had been cut much higher up on Burke Mountain’s slopes.

Once again, a local resident was able to add an additional patch to our history quilt.


Additional information about the family of John Louis and Isabel Klein (Cline)

Kin from the United States has recently learned through additional research that it appears that John Klein was previously married to a Caroline Detlofson in Duwamish, King County, WA.  Their marriage occurred on August 13, 1899, and they had a son, Walter Louis Klein, born in Seattle.  John Louis and Caroline apparently continued to live in Duwamish, WA – at least in 1900 – but at some point between 1900 and 1906, their marriage dissolved with the son remaining with Caroline.  The only living son,  Verne, recalls being told that his dad (John Louis Klein) had, at one time, owned a dairy farm in Bellingham, WA but had lost the farm and his herd of cattle during a severe flood.

As noted in Volume One, John Louis Klein married Isabel Sharpe in 1907.  Their kin has now confirmed that John Louis and Isabel had four children who were born in British Columbia, during the general time-frame when they would have been homesteading in Silver Valley: Robert Louis (who was born in New Westminster), William Theodore, Josephine (who died young) and Hazel Dawn.  After the couple moved to the United States, several more children were born to them: Isabelle (born in Washington State) and then Norma, Patricia, John, Priscilla and twins, Verne and Verna, all born in Oregon.  As for John Louis and Isabel, they remained married until their eventual deaths, in Oregon.

Wedding Photo of Louis and Isabel Klein (Cline)

Photograph of Isabel and Louis Klein (Cline) (both seated) on their wedding day, June 25, 1907. The lady standing was Cathleen (Cate) Hazel Sharpe, Isabel’s sister.  Photograph courtesy of Verne Cline, last remaining child of Isabel and Louis Cline.

The missing pieces to their story now have finally been found, as a result of the additional invaluable assistance of Cindy Raymond and Inez.  Thank you!                 Lyle