The BC Adventure 26
Salt Spring Island
20 May, 1922
Dear Mums and Daddy,
Eric has decided he will go with Mark and work as a carpenter - as there is need for an office and more accommodation in Cedar Creek. He is very excited about it. He rowed over to Beryl's to say goodbye and said he thought she seemed sad that he was going. They do go out to various things together a lot.
Next week Beryl adn I are gong shopping, thinking of what I might need for joining Mark in the Cariboo. There is nothing suitable locally, so we will go into the bigger stores in Victoria.
I should tell you more about the Quire, he seems to make a go of things despite the depression and the weather. Mr. Bullock has only a half dozen registered Jerseys and it was he who started the creamery, but he has gone into all sorts of other things. He has 12 acres of orchard with several hundred fruit trees - apples, plums, pears and the cherries. He grows half an acre of asparagus for sale as well as other vegetables which he stores in his root cellar. He hired some Japanese to help with the garden work. Mr. Bullock also keeps bees, pigs, chickens and about 20 sheep. There is a smoke house
near the big house to smoke ham and fish.
The cooperative Creamery is the main industry. Virtually every farmer on the island
sells to the creamery. They chill the milk on the farm, separate the cream in a De Laval separator bought form Mouats Store and ship it twice a week to Ganges Creamery. There are some people employed to collect cream from the farther away farms. And cream comes in from the Outer Islands twice a week on the ferry.
At the Creamery the cream is sorted into three grades and put into large vats where
it is heated to 160 degrees for ten minutes. Once sterilized, the cream is churned in two large churns, one producing 1000 lbs of butter, the other 500 lbs. The buttermilk is pumped out into a big tank up the hill behind the creamery. Farmers came and get it free of charge to feed their pigs and chickens. The butter itself is wrapped in 1 lb. packages and then shipped off in 50 lb. boxes via the C.P.R. ferry to the Northwestern Creameries in Victoria, who sell it to the stores. Salt Spring butter is considered the best there is.
Another part of the economy is raising pigs, which is done on nearly every farm too,
but one farmer who makes it a specialty is W. E. Burkitt. He has a prize Jersey herd and sells cream to the creamery and keeps 10 crossbred ewes, though the latter often are found wandering up to the Anglican vicarage at Central where Reverend Popham appreciates them keeping the grass cut around the house. But Mr. Burkitt is most proud of his pedigree Berkshire pigs. He bought a champion boar at the Victoria Agricultural Show which he used to produce the pedigree boars he sold throughout B.C. and even into the Yukon.
Poultry for egg production is another popular source of income on the mixed farm. One family to mention for this are Daniel Ruckle and his family. They have a flock of 200-300 layers. The really big producers are Chaplin and Oswald who have thousands of birds.
The raising of small fruits such as raspberries and strawberries is also part of the
Salt Spring repertoire, but because of the problems of weather, they are just about done building the Salt Spring Island Jam Factory which should be in use very soon. It is a cooperative operating from a building on Hereford Avenue and has 107 shareholders (including us and Una and Dick) and a subscribed capital of $2,700. Shares cost 25 cents each.
I mentioned the seed factory before. This family business was started in 1915 on Parker Island by P.T. James, a trained horticulturalist from England, and three of his sons. Their mail order flower and vegetable seed business grew so rapidly that they sold Parker Island for $4,500 in 1917 and moved to Salt Spring. For four years they have been leasing Norman Wilson’s Barnesbury farm and now they are moving to the larger J.C. Lang farm at Fernwood which has the advantage of better soil and water.
Their fruit and vegetable seeds are sold world-wide and they also ship large quantities of corn, broccoli, potatoes, etc. to Vancouver markets. The elder Mr. James supervises the greenhouse work, his oldest son Fred, trained at Arnold Arboretum in Boston, is the geneticist. Jack is publicity and sales manager. The two younger brothers, Harry and Jim are in charge of cultivation, developing some specialized machinery such as a transplanting machine that can plant 800 cabbages an hour. The women of the family, including Jack’s wife, Dorothy, handle the seed packaging, shipping and office work.
There is a big mink farm, and a chinchilla rabbit farm near St. Mary's Lake.
There is a goat cheese factory too. One was that of Colonel and Dr. Bryant. They
keep a herd of goats and he makes the cheese each day and ages it in a cave on the property. With advice from Prof. Golding of U.B.C., Col. Bryant developed a Roquefort-type cheese that won a first prize in Vancouver. His cheese is shipped to Spencers in Victoria.
Frank Walter and Arnold Smith on Musgrave Mountain also produce goat’s milk cheese The Smith brothers are Oxford educated and they came here just after the war, a few months before we did.
Arnold and Walter, settled on down below the Laundry ranch. Frank loves to discuss math problems with Mark. Arnold helps in the cheese factory and developed their orchard. His hobby is painting water colours - self-portraits and copies of old masters. His wife ships of vast quantities of preserves to Victoria and in her spare time is school teacher for the local children. Walter, who tried his luck in New Zealand, joined his brothers recently and among other things operates the Musgrave Post Office.
I'll bet you wish you hadn't asked.