Friday, March 6, 2015

The End of Giants

The pioneer life was one of hardship and creation. These were people  who cleared the land, lived with dangers we can only imagine and created communities that would eventually prosper. Yet, their life was destined for extinction.

After all, the pioneers created a society many of them weren't comfortable in. One of paved roads and progress. The arrival of Joe Mannion in Gastown signified a new era was dawning. The Age of the Pioneer was vanishing.

It was 1875 when Gassy Jack Deighton came off the river for the last time. It was a hot summer's day when he lay dying in New Westminster. Through the open window, he could hear a dog howling. He turned to his Indian wife, who watched over him during his last hours. Jack's thoughts were on his four-year-old son,

"Look after the boy..." Jack asked those who were near. Then he was quiet, only the labour of his breathing heard before he spoke again, "Damn that dog! I wish he'd shut up." With that, the founder of Gastown, a pioneer, died.

People came from all over to mourn and bury the First Citizen of Vancouver. His grave was left unmarked and his disinherited wife and child returned to her people.

The same year, Sewell Prescott Moody - founder of Moodyville and owner of the Moodyville Sawmill Company - boarded the SS Pacific in Victoria. He was going to visit San Francisco. 24 hours after the ship's departure, the bodies of men, women and children began to wash up on the Vancouver Island shore. How did the grossly overloaded ship sink in a calm sea and why did the nearby vessels apparently ignore her situation?

Two years later Sir James Douglas died in Victoria and Jerry Rogers passed on in Gastown.

These men were giants who through willpower and resolve had laid the foundation for this great city. Deighton, Moody, Stamp, Rogers and Douglas, the great ones of Vancouver's beginnings had all left this earth. Only the potter, Morton and Sam Brighouse remained, busy with his affairs in New Westminster and Lulu Island.

The era of pioneers had ended.

I would like to thank Alan Morley and  his book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

1 comment: