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General News · 31st July 2014
Bob Katzko
Whaletown Wharf Centennial 1914 - 2014 - ‘Moments’
- reprinted with the permission of Cortes Island Museum & Archives

“Those were the days.... back when we travelled at a snale pace.” R.M. Boas

Before Hydro and the Ferry, a sign at the store regarding the need of a medical clinic for Cortes made me realize that many people here might like to know that life was like before hydro and the ferry.

Boats were our only means of transportation off the island. So, if you think the pace is slow to-day, it was much slower yesterday.

The Union Steamships and a coastal freighter brought passengers, mail and goods to Cortes. For Whaletown, Friday - anytime between 4am and 4pm, the Lacy Cynthia would tie up at the wharf and discharge passengers and freight before loading ongoing cargo. No, they did not touch in at Campbell River, Vancouver was their home port.

The only alternative to mail was the government telegraph located at the store. We became adapt at writing 10 and 100 word telegraphs and doing it right to the word. I wonder if Harold Hansen recalls wiring Ken from Vancouver, when he knew that frost was forecasted, it read: “Drain the Cat!” Harold.

It was common to see a telegram pinned to the notice board for someone and also to see someone twisting the telephone handle in an attempt to raise Rose MaKay in Campbell River. The line went from pole to pole over to Manson’s and though the underwater cable that left from that part of the island.

Before the roads were pushed though to Manson’s via Gorge Harbour and Squirrel Cove, boats were the only means of transport between island communities. All of this did something to various parts of Cortes, it created a strong identity within the settlements of the island. Evidences of this are the three churches and the two community halls.

As for the coming of the hydro: there is only one memory to recall. . . . the day before it happened here in Whaletown. Gary’s diesel, Alan’s, Harry’s and the mission house engines... all of them chugged away as usual. But let it be known that all the oldtimers on the island took every step along the way, from kerosene lamp to Coleman, from 6 and 12 volt battery systems to 110V gasoline. And finally to the big old Diesel. . . one or two lunger Listers. Those with electric refrigeration had them generators running day and night. If the women went to sleep with one ear open to be able to hear the kids, the men did the same as far as lighting plants were concerned!

Such is part of the story of "before Hydro and the Ferry”. R. M. Boas

If you have a story you’d like to share please contact Bob Katzko - 6728 or Denise Elo - 6446. The Whaletown Wharf Centennial celebration is Sat. Aug. 16th from 11am to 2pm.