NANAIMO HISTORY - For Regular Folks
There has been an interest shown in our history.
But if we rely on the normal history books, it will
be a slanted history that highlights the life and times
of Nanaimo through the echoes of a select few
of politicians, the business elite, and the rich
If we cast our eyes to the everyday person's history
we will then understand the real history of
the city and its people.
A good source of information would be from a few of the more than 200 folks connected to the
"Nanaimo Family History Society" that started in 1981
by Joan Blair and Pat Mahoney.
If we wanted to look into the daring and tragedy of our Nanaimo folks that saw action during WW I
or WW II, the history books will focus on the Generals and Admirals and the select few that earned a medal or two.
Another source is to look ar the life and times
of the private soldier or the cabin boy of a ship of war or the regular sailor on a merchant ship.
We could search through the old files of the
Brechin United Church and try to recover details
of the post WW II recognition of the boys and girls
of the church that served. The ladies included
names such as Margaret Best, Rose Lewis, Kathie Young and Barbara Cottle. A select few of the lads incuded Akenclose, Lightfoot, McGregor, Johnson
and Sim, and others.
One of the select few of regular folks was the Brechin boy, Don Sim. Picture attached is Don visiting London, England in 1949 at Hampstead Heath Park.
Last edited by Zelley10; 09-01-2005 at 11:41 PM.
The Brechin Boy in Rome - WW II
Picture of: Private William J. Zelley of
the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
relaxing in Rome. The Seaforth's were part of the !st Division that saw action in Sicily, Italy and Holland.
One of the deadliest battles was in the town of Ortona
aka "Bloody Ortona".
In one action, William and a group were hunkered down close to a tree while the enemy were fiiring
shells. One shell hit the tree and killed three of
the five and seriously wounded one of the remaing two. Luckily with the part of the tree that stood
in the path of the incoming no longer exited, but at
the ultimate price for three.
John Barsby School
Another important source of the people's history would include
the data contained in various school annuals. For instance
Although the current school is a Senior High, that wasn't always the case.
Take the case of 1960/61 when Mr. H. K. Martin was the Principal
of this Grades 7 to 9 school for students on the south side of town,
There were a variety of talented teachers with names like
Bellamy, Devlin, Green & Gold etc.
Scanning the names of the students many have remained in the
old Home Town while others have moved near and far. Over the years while listening to the local radio, the name Bodecker might ring a bell.
Or other names such as Wells, Manns, Rickerby, Pridge, and Dugan.
What about the Junior High sports teams and undividuals:
Soccer: Bryce, Guzina, Swanson, Brown, Pile, Becia and Paugh,
Girl's Volleyball: Galloway, Armishaw, Higgins etc.
Track & Field: Porter, McGee, Ostle, Tibbals, Boyd,
....................Stolarchuk, Gow, and Bortolotto
Bowling: Robby King, Ron Findlay and Ian Wilsen
But let's not forget the "Rock & Mineral Club"
(No this was not a dance club with non-alcoholic beverages!).
Last edited by Zelley10; 09-02-2005 at 10:44 AM.
I was at Barsby 1958 to 1961-2. I remember all those names and which Armishaw goes with Volleyball?? I don't want to dig in the annuals!
Last edited by riverrat; 12-03-2006 at 11:20 AM.
1961 - 1962 Barsby school days in Nanaimo
Originally Posted by Cubby
1961 - 1962: John Barsby Junior High
Originally Posted by Zelley10
Slipping back in time to 1961 and 1962 is always worth the price of admission.
As I search and find the old faded copy of the 1961-2 Barsby Annual,
it sits an waits for for those faded memories to be refreshed.
For music followers, the name KRALL may be of interest and has become a slice of our history, But, if we focus on our school history, the name Krall is one of many appearing in the dusty pages of our Nanaimo school history.
The name Krall appears in the page featuring the Grade 9 class of
Division 3 along with various others such as Cowling, McDowall,
Rainbow, Van Horne and others.
Of interest, the Van Horne name is important in our Western History, but that is a story for another time and another thread.
I was in Division 5, and some of the other names:
Beaton, Bregani, Halkett, Mayes, Mercer, Reimer, Rutter,
Swanson and others.
It is interesting viewing the list and messages by the advertisers, but I wonder how many are gone. What ever happened to the old
Eagle Barber Shop on Bastion Street, or Johnsons Hardware
on Victoria Crescent and Calverleys Service Station on Bruce Avenue.
For those of us that were part of the 1961-2 term at Barsby, some have departed, some remain in the old home town, and some are scattered
near and far away. For those that remain, we each have our selective
stories. Sadly, so many of our stories will never be told,but lost through the passages of time.
Last edited by riverrat; 12-03-2006 at 11:19 AM.
GOLD! From the Cowichan.
Gatekeepers, Wellington & Northfield and the Billy Foster legend
So what was life like in Nanaimo and the various communities.
The Brechin kids would often be running or playing tag on the log booms.
That was okay, but sometimes a log would sink below the sea and the unfortunate Brechin boy would have "salty wet pants" or a bruised knee or ego!
But, at night for evening at the drive-in theatre at Wellington. Those
Long Lake swimmers and skaters would be the gatekeepers of the spots
where the young locals without the wheels or the cash could slip
through the bushes for a free trip into the theatre grounds. I'm sure the real gatekeepers must have turned a blind eye to the small groups of teenagers that sat on the grass by the unused machines, so they to could listen
to the voices on the big screen. and it can be guaranteed that not all of the young couples in their '57 Chevy Bel Airs and assorted other vehicles
would be watching the big screen throughout the night.
However, when it came to big wheels and fast cars, the Northfield
track was the place to go. But the unofficial gatekeepers of those nifty little spots where the young teens could crawl under for free was the turf
of the Northfield crew. So if you were from Brechin or Townsite, it would be cool to have a few Wellington & Northfield friends for the ringside seat
to spinning wheels of the stock cars or listening to the sounds of music
from the big outdoor screen.
Then we have the Nanaimo legends of motor sport with names like
Foster and Haslam. Sadly, the boy called Billy Foster didn't make
it completely round the track in California one deadly day, but
his name lives on today.
Last edited by Zelley10; 09-04-2005 at 01:36 AM.
Reason: house keeping
Broken Bodies of another lost teen - No Coming Home - just a lifeless empty room
Pro racers like Billy Foster died in organized auto racing, but the history
of unorganized racing or careless driving throughout the streets of Greater Nanaimo are scattered with the memories of yet another dead teenager or young person.
We have heard it in the music and the songs like "Last Kiss" and
"Tell Laura I love Her", but they are only songs that can be retold and replayed.
But, the "Last Goodbye" or "Final Farewell", for the young whose body
parts are broken and shattered or burned, will last forever.
Last edited by Zelley10; 09-04-2005 at 01:28 AM.
Zelley, you seem to have a great wealth of knowlege on Nanaimo History, any interst in becoming a contributing editor in an official sense on the forum (You are already a great contributor) This would mean I could create a whole forum dedicated to the posting and discussion of Nanaimo History, stories etc. Let me know as I'm sure we arent the only ones that enjoy the subject.