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Friday, October 28, 2011

(The Honouarble Peter Kent endorses decision)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Remarkable Adventures of "Portuguese Joe" Silvey: A True Story of British Columbia by Jean Barman

Preface by Manuel Azevedo

There is a Portuguese saying that God is everywhere, but the Portuguese were there first. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that Portuguese Joe Silvey was one of the earliest pioneers of what is now British Columbia. Joe Silvey was only one of many Portuguese who reached both the east and west coasts of Canada long before 1867, the year of Confederation (British Columbia joined in 1871). In fact, 2004 is the 300th anniversary of Canada’s first letter carrier, Pedro da Silva of New France, an occasion that has been honoured with the issue of a commemorative stamp by Canada Post.
Portuguese Joe Silvey sought his fortune in the gold rush of 1858 at a time when the non-aboriginal population of British Columbia exploded from about 1,000 to 20,000 or more in a matter of months. Victoria, a sleepy town of about 400 people, became a sprawling tent city overnight, filled with gold seekers from every corner of the world.
Although Joe was unlucky in his search for gold, he did find a beautiful wife in the unspoiled paradise that was Vancouver. In the first non-aboriginal marriage in Vancouver, he wed Khaltinaht, the granddaughter of the legendary chief, Kiapilano. The wedding took place at Musqueam, and the newlyweds set off in a canoe piled high with blankets to Point Roberts for their honeymoon. Later Joe returned to Gastown, where he opened a saloon at the corner of Abbott and Water streets, across the street from Gregorio Fernandez’s general store. He lived at Brockton Point, in what later became Stanley Park, with other pioneers: the legendary whaler Portuguese Pete (Peter Smith); Joe Gonsalves, aka Portuguese Joe No. 2; and Vancouver's first police officer, Tomkins Brew. All of them--except Fernandez, who remained a bachelor--married aboriginal women.
After the tragic death of his wife Khaltinaht, Joe Silvey found yet another beautiful wife, Kwahama Kwatleematt (Lucy) from Sechelt, and together they raised a dozen children on Reid Island off the northwest tip of Galiano Island. Joe worked hard to raise his family and protect them from the prejudices of the times. He fished for dogfish and herring, which he sold to loggers and visiting ships, he built boats and houses, he planted orchards, he operated a store, he established a school for his children and he entertained his family with the accordion and Portuguese dances. He never returned to his homeland, the island of Pico in the Azores, aka the Westerly Isles--Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, more than 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal on the same latitude as New York City.
Like his countrymen from the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde islands, Joe established deep roots in British Columbia. These men, like other pioneers from every corner of the world, contributed to the building of BC. Joe practically founded the fishing industry and obtained the first herring seine licence in the province. His Brockton Point neighbour, the legendary Portuguese Pete, started the whaling industry; Joe Gonsalves of Madeira built the first deep-sea docks on the Sunshine Coast with the help of the “black” Azorean, Joe Perry; John Silva of Cape Verde, later of Gabriola Island, planted what may have been the province's first apple orchard on Mayne Island; John Enos (Ignacio) of the island of Santa Maria in the Azores, the first European settler at Nanoose Bay, helped build the bridges of Nanaimo. In Victoria, Joseph Morais owned and operated a hotel, restaurant and miners’ exchange in 1861. The Bitancourt and Norton brothers, from Sao Miguel and Flores Islands (Azores), respectively, developed dairies, coal mines and quarries on Salt Spring Island.
Now, for the first time, the respected historian and professor Jean Barman gives us a very human glimpse of the life of one of these pioneer builders of British Columbia, Portuguese Joe Silvey. She traces his adventures, his fortunes and misfortunes through the stories told by his children and their descendants. In this very personal, heartwarming monograph, she brings one family to life, thereby providing us with a better understanding of the untold lives of hundreds of other early pioneers, whose contributions and sacrifices made British Columbia what it is today.
Vancouver, 2004-03-18

    Early Salt Spring home builders
    By Morton Stratton

    Four very young Portugese youth 
    (two sets of brothers) were among the earliest settlers on Salt Spring Island, 
    arriving about 1860 just after Willis and Sylvia Stark, the Jones brothers and 
    other pioneer families. Estalon and Manuel Bittancourt established claims on the 
    shores of Vesuvius Bay and the fertile land to the cast; John and Delarvo Norton 
    (the family name was adopted from the captain of the ship bringing them from 
    Portugal) took up their claims on the gently rolling uplands between the present 
    golf course and Lady Minto Hospital. Manuel and Delarvo disappear from the 
    record; but Estalon Bittancourt, Manuel's son, Reid and John Norton put their 
    roots down on the island, raised their huge families here, and erected some of 
    the substantial homes which graced central Salt Spring Island at the turn of the 
    century. It is particularly unfortunate that three of the finest homes built by 
    the Bittancourts no longer exist (One demolished and two destroyed by fire) and 
    hence cannot be represented in the photographic exhibit of old homes scheduled 
    by the Canadian Arts Council for June 20 in Mahon Hall. But happily, several 
    others are still well preserved, as are two houses built by John 


    Estalon Bittancourt had a particularly romantic and interesting career. Born in the Azores about 1845 he developed a roving disposition and a longing to go to sea. At the age of about 15 or 16 he swam out to a sailing ship bound for the goldfields of Australia. 
    Soon after, the lure of the sea brought him to Vancouver Island. Refused shore 
    leave by his captain he waited until nightfall and swam ashore at Royal Roads. 
    Purchasing a sloop, he did a good business for several months carrying sawdust 
    from Mill Bay to Victoria. Then disaster struck; a driving gale piled his frail 
    craft on the rocks at ten mile point just north of Cordova Bay; but fortunately 
    his ability as a swimmer saved him after a hard struggle with the swift running 
    current. Perhaps tiring of his adventures on the sea he took the advice of his 
    fellow countryman, John Norton, who already knew something of Salt Spring, and 
    established his land claims behind Vesuvius Bay. 


    For a full generation, from the 
    1860's until death in 1917, the story of Vesuvius is in a real way the story of 
    the Estalon married, raised a large family of nine children, became a 
    substantial businessman and farmer and developed the agreeable habit of building 
    substantial homes for himself and his family. The earliest and the finest, his 
    own home above the docks at Vesuvius, existed in its later days as the Vesuvius 
    Bay (An annex was built in 1886 for son, Fred, and wife, Annie). This big house 
    was the centre of Estalon's enterprise. Hero he ran a general store (supplied by 
    a sloop with which he delivered goods to and from Victoria) and a friendly 
    little neighborhood pub (a decent enough establishment, but still off limits to 
    the strict Methodists at Central Settlement.) Later he developed the store into 
    the Vesuvius Bay Hotel. A major source of income for the growing Bittancourt 
    family came from the operation of the sandstone quarries at Vesuvius, originally 
    developed in 1860-61 by five partners who took of for the goldfields of the 
    Cariboo in 1861.
    In the 1880's the sandstone quarry 
    was running at full strength and the family operated three sloops carrying stone 
    to Victoria and Esquimalt. The Esquimalt dry dock, the original causeway in 
    front of the Empress Hotel and several churches in Victoria were constructed of 
    Vesuvius sandstone. Coal was also mined at the Bittancourt place; especially at 
    nearby Dock (now corrupted to Duck) Bay. Bea Hamilton tells us this coal 
    retailed for 25 cents a bag! Since the Vesuvius docks were the principal window 
    on the world for settlers north of the Divide, the Bittancourts were often the 
    first to welcome newcomers to the island. One of the early priests working this 
    mission field, Father Kremera, was once flung from his canoe into the waters at 
    Sansum Narrows. He made it to shore and staggered through the bush where he was 
    found by Bittancourt. Years later (1894) it was Bittancourt who greeted the Rev. 
    E.F. Wilson upon his first arrival at Salt Spring on a cold February morning and 
    directed him on his way to Mrs. Stevens; Boarding House. Meanwhile, over the 
    years the Bittancourt land holdings were expanding (some of the acreage farmed 
    with the help of his son, Charlie) until at the time of Estalon's death in 1917 
    at the age of 74 there were 437 acres registered in his name. 
    The family home - turned hotel was 
    destroyed by fire on 1975 but five houses still attest to the prosperity of this 
    enterprising pioneer. Best known are the three "dowry houses" that ringed 
    Vesuvius Bay (photo in Toynbee's Snapshots), built by Bittancourt for three of 
    his married daughters (one house has since been moved to the top of the hill 
    where the road descends to the bay). A house built across the road from the 
    wharf for his son, Fred, about 1892 was recently moved to the Farmer's Institute 
    property on Rainbow Road and will serve the community as Salt Spring Island's 
    first museum after remodeling is "The Ark" the jewel of them all. The 
    Bittancourt family was Catholic and had originally installed a chaplin in the 
    attic of the old family home where once a month a Catholic priest attended to 
    celebrate mass. Later, Estalon built a small chapel up the road from son Fred's 
    home. This pretty little building, now a residence, still stands with a bell in 
    the gable, a fitting testimonial to the devout Catholic family whose legacy 
    lives on at Vesuvius Bay.

    Equally well known to the next 
    generation on Salt Spring, including many now living were Estalon Bittancourt's 
    nephews, Reid and Arthur Bittancourt. After he moved here in the 1880's Reid's 
    life was intimately related to the development of the Ganges area. Arthur, on 
    the other hand, made his name in Alaska but he is remembered locally for the 
    meticulous care with which he dismantled the Methodist chapel at Central board 
    by board and window by window and reassembled it on Hereford Avenue. Here the 
    structure now stands as the street side portion of the Legion Hall. Complete 
    with a new roof, the operation cost $300. Arthur also did some exceptional 
    carpentry work in the early 20's in the home of Dick Toynee on Churchill Road. 
    Abraham Reid Bittancourt was an outstanding carpenter and builder. (See Valerie 
    Richards comment on his craftsmanship in a recent Driftwood). He apparently 
    developed his skills before moving to the island. In 1890 he worked with Mr. 
    Herd of Somenoa in the construction of the T. W. Mouat house which still stands 
    on the ridge west of St. Mary Lake. 


    Certainly the biggest commission 
    was building the impressive Henry Bullock mansion in 1892 for a contract price 
    of $2,000. Subsequently, he erected several houses in the village of Ganges; for 
    example, the home at the corner of Rainbow Road and Lower Ganges Road across 
    from the health office. But better known was the splendid home and store put up 
    in 1904 at the foot of Ganges Hill, known more recently as the Dr. Francis 
    nursing home (demolished in 1967). Reid's career as a storekeeper boat operator 
    and patrol officer for Canada Customs are beyond the scope of this article. In 
    concluding these comments on the Portugese pioneers, mention must be made of 
    John Norton (born Delavera). Like Reid Bittancourt, he raised a fine family on 
    Salt Spring. His children were contemporaries and playmates of some of Salt 
    Spring's older living residents (see Toynbee's school snapshots). John Norton 
    was a prosperous farmer in the area west and north of the present Valcourt 

    Here he constructed for his second 
    wife the family home which stands on the left up Norton Road and is now 
    surrounded by so many lovely flowers and overgrown shrubs. Incidentally, this 
    house, owned by a granddaughter of John Norton, is the only house in the 
    Heritage House Committee's survey which is still in the hands of a descendant of 
    the builder. John Norton also built a house for A.J. Smith about 1903 which 
    stands on the left of Blain Road above Greenwoods, commanding a panoramic view 
    of Ganges Harbour. The Nortons and the Bittancourts, only recently so well known 
    on the island are gone now. But the houses they built stand as a tribute to the 
    contribution they made to the growth and diversity of our fascinating island. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Joseph Lewis, the truly first Portuguese Joe No. 1

(Do Not) “Hang and draw,
And set in judgement after. "
(Henry Crease*, Lewis' lawyer)

The British Colonist, June 3, 1859, p.2

BARBAROUS MURDER-On or about Wednesday night, Johnston Cochrane, one of
the police was barbarously murdered on the road to Craig Flower, where the body
was discovered lying, having received two shots, one through the head and another,
in the mouth. A colored man is suspected, whom the deceased was in search of, for
having stolen some pigs. Yesterday he was arrested some seven miles from this
town, towards Saanitch. His name is Joseph Lewis, alias Portuguese Joe, a native
of the Cape de Verde Islands. He will be examined this morning.
On application of Sheriff Heaton, His Excellency, Gov. Douglas, has offered 100 (pounds)
for the arrest and conviction of the murderer. We sincerely hope, that no effort or
expense will be spared in bringing the perpetrator of this awful crime to speedy justice.
During the past year several murders have been committed, supposed to have been done by whitemen, but no conviction has resulted.

June 6, 1859, p. 2

The officers of justice have not yet succeeded
in obtaining necessary evidence of the complicity of
the colored man, “ Portuguese Joe”
in this crime . He is still in prison and
we hear that every effort is being made to
arrest the perpetrator of the foul deed.

June 13, 1859, p. 3

SATURDAY, June 11th
The Murdered Policeman, Cochrane--

A half-breed, Jollibeau, who resides
with his father on the farm of the late Dr. Kenedy,
was very closely interrogated by justice
Pemberton, to learn if he had any connection
with Joe Lewis, the party in prison.
It appeared that he had been engaged in
the early part of the year, with two colored
men, in shooting game for the market. A double barreled
gun with one rifle, and one smooth bore, together with a revolver and,
fowling-piece were produced in court ;
he swore that they had not been out of his possession on
the supposed day of the murder, and also that he had very little knowledge of the accused. His sister, who seemed to know very little of the rules of court, and gave the Judge considerable trouble, failed to connect, in any way, the parties, but distinctly swore that she had never seen Lewis. Jollibeau was set at liberty. As yet there is no evidence to implicate any party. The officers are still in pursuit of the murderers. Lewis will be brought up again on Thursday.

June 17, 1859, p.3

WEDNESDAY, 15th June.

ACQUITTAL: Joseph Lewis, charged with
being concerned in the murder of Policeman
Cochrane, was called up for final examination.
The Crown Solicitor asked to remand him; but the prisoner's
counsel, Mr. Crease, objected. Officer Smith, being
sworn, testified that there was no prospect
of further evidence to show that the prisoner was
concerned in the murder. The court suggested
that the prisoner make a voluntary statement,
warning him not to confess anything to convict himself.
Lewis then stated that he had slept at Victoria
Brewery, the night previous to the murder;
that he started early to go to Porter's farm;
Porter considered it too late to hunt up
cattle, so he returned to the Brewery; slept
there that night with a man named Wallace.
He had no firearms; was by trade
a butcher; did not know the deceased; had
no idea of a warrant being out for his arrest
on a charge of stealing pigs; lived on
Johnson street .
Two witnesses were called, Mr. Wallace
and Mr. Steinberg; who corroborated his
Mr. Crease asked for his immediate
The Court questioned Lewis very closely
as to his mode of life; stated that he was
suspected of killing cattle and pigs,--and
warned him if he came before him, bonds
would be required for his good behavior.
Mr. Crease hoped his Worship would not
“Hang and draw,
And set in judgement after. "
Lewis was then discharged.

ON SUSPICION--Francoise Presse
was arraigned on the charge of being concerned
in the murder of Johnson Cochrane; but
after a short examination, was remanded
till tomorrow.

In 1858 Henry Crease was the first barrister qualified to practice as a Barrister of Her Majesty's Court of Civil Justice for Vancouver Island.  He was later appointed Attorney General.
Sir Henry Pering Pellew Crease
Henry Pering Pellew Crease
Supreme Court of British Columbia
In office
May 13, 1870 – January 20, 1896
Appointed byAnthony Musgrave
Attorney General of British Columbia
In office
October 15, 1861 – May 13, 1870
Appointed byJames Douglas

Sunday, August 28, 2011

 Portuguese Pioneers of B. C. (PJ Silvey)
(adapted from, November 2003)

 PART I - Who was Portuguese Joe Silvey? An Introduction
Manuel Azevedo

(Gastown, circa 1870. Water street between Carral and Abbott.

PORTUGUESE CORNER (Water and Abbott streets)
 Bottom right, at the north west corner of Water and Abott streets  ( the building on stilt)s is Gregorio Fernandez's store.  Gregory also owned the building directly cross the street, at the south-west corner, where he kept chickens and supplies.
     Kitty corner from Fernandez's store, at the south-east corner was  Portuguese Joe Silvey's  saloon, later known as the "Hole in the wall", today's Lamplighter pub  at the Dominion hotel. Gassy Jack's saloon was at the othere end of the block, at Carral and Water street, at the far left. vancouver was one block long. (image courtesy Rocky Sampson)

Joe Silvey is the best known of the handful of Portuguese founding pioneers to arrive in British Columbia prior to confederation (1867 – British Columbia joined Canada in 1871). He is about to become better known. Howard White, editor of the Raincoast Chronicles published by Harbour Publishing of Madeira Park, B.C., announced that the 20th Anniversary issue will be Professor Jean Barman’s, The Remarkable Adventures of “Portuguese Joe” Silvey: A True Story of B.C., written for the Silvey family reunion held in Ladysmith, April 3, 1999. (It since has become a best seller-ed)

Who was Joe Silvey and where did he come from? According to family lore, Joe and five other Portuguese crewmembers of a whaling ship jumped ship to join the Cariboo Gold Rush of British Columbia in 1858. Although some descendants believe he jumped ship in 1849 in California or 1852 in Victoria, census records indicate he was in B.C. by 1860. Evidence at the Stanley Park settlers trial in 1923 suggests he was present for the gold rush of 1858.

Some of Joe’s friends such as Gregorio Fernandez of Gastown ( Vancouver's first store owner and coffee roaster), Peter Smith aka Portuguese Pete or Pete the Whaler, (the "half legendary" founder of the short lived whaling industry in B.C) also of Gastown, John Enos (Ignacio) of Nanoose Bay (the first European settler on the Nanoose peninsula - Enos creek is named after him), and Enos’ neighbour, John Suza (Souza),  appear to have participated in the Fraser river gold rush of 1858-1860.

Other Portuguese pioneers such as the enterprising Bittancourt and Norton brothers of Saltspring Island, (after whom Bittancourt Road and Norton Road are named) John Silva of Victoria, later Mayne and Gabriola Island (after whom Silva Bay on Gabriola Island is named), also appear in British Columbia around 1860. Joe Gonsalves from Madeira, after whom Madeira Park is named, came to Gastown later, in 1874, to look after his ailing uncle, Gregorio Fernandez. Perhaps only Joseph Montero of Cape Verde arrived in the early 1850’s prior to the Gold Rush.

Although Portuguese began fishing for cod off Newfoundland’s Grand Banks in the fifteenth century, it was not until the nineteenth century that they reached the pacific coast, with some exceptions. American whaling ships headquartered in New New Bedford, Massachusetts had exhausted the Atlantic ocean by the mid nineteenth century, and began hunting whales in the Pacific ocean.
The sperm whaling industry in the USA was established in part by Aaron Lopez (Duarte Lopez), a New Christian born in 1752 in Lisbon who fled the inquisition to America. He is one of the founding fathers of the Touro synagogue of Newport Rhode island, the oldest extant synagogue in the USA. He had 30 ships in his fleet, which he crewed with men from the Azores. These whalers were the first documented Azorean settlers in the United States. US immigration statistics indicate that 1,605 Portuguese officially immigrated between 1820 and 1860. A small number worked in the Pacific whaling fleet.

When gold was discovered in California in 1849 many whaling ships were deserted by their crews, stricken by gold rush fever.  San Francisco harbour once contained  900 abandoned ships at the height of the gold rush. Joe Silvey, who may have left the Azores in 1846 may have been one of those whalers who jumped ship. Perhaps the river boat pilot J.S. Silvey listed in the 1850 San Francisco City Directory at Clark's Point (at Montgomery and Sacramento streets) was Portuguese Joe Silvey. Silvey’s descendants recall visits to British Columbia by cousins from California and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Also, Joe Gonzalves, Gregorio Fernandez’ nephew from Madeira arrived in Gastown in 1874 via San Francisco where his uncle was listed in 1857 as a fruit dealer. By 1858, the year of B.C.’s Gold Rush, he was no longer listed in the San francisco directory.

British Columbia
According to British Columbia government records of Joe’s second  marriage to (Lucy) Kwat-lee-matt in 1872, Joe was 38 years old and born on Piepika Island, Portugal. His parents were John Silvy and Francisca Hyacinthia. Joe’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, born in Stanley Park by Joe’s first wife, Khaal-tin-aht (Maryanne), granddaughter of the notable Chief  Ki-ap-i-la-no, told the city archivist, Major Matthews, that her father was from “Pekapika, Azores Islands.”
Joe may also have had an unknown Scottish grandfather. According to some, Joe’s grandfather was a Scottish seaman who helped the Portuguese expel the French Invaders during the Peninsular War of 1808. This, Joe’s descendants said, explained the reddish beards and blue eyes of the Silvey men. Major Matthews certainly gave credence to the story; he gave Joe a Scottish surname, Simmonds, perhaps a variation of Joseph Silvia Seamens, the name Joe gave on a formal document pre-empting land in 1872.

Silvey Bay, Reid island, off the tip of Galiano island where Portuguese Joe and his seconf wife raised 10 children. Joe Silvey and his eldest son Domingos are buried here. (photo courtesy Rocky Sampson)

The Azores
There is no Pekapika island in the Azores, but Pico Island, named after the highest mountain in Portugal at 2,351 meters high (a sometimes grumbling volcano) is one of nine islands of the Azores, located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, 760 nautical miles from Lisbon and 2,111 from New York. These previously uninhabited islands of volcanic origin are sometimes referred to as the remains of the legendary Atlantis. Today's stock of Azoreans, spilled throughout the world, are descendants  of Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, English, Flemish, French Scots, Germans, Slaves, Jews, Muslims and Christians.
The exact date of their discovery by Portuguese sailors is unknown but is generally attributed to Diogo de Silves in 1427 although the islands do appear in some fourteenth century maps. The Azores have played an important part in Portuguese history, serving as a strategic naval and military center. They served as a stop over for ships coming from India and later for ships from the Philippines during Spanish domination of Portugal between 1580 and 1640. They were often victims of pirate raids such as Sir Francis Drake.

Pico Island
Pico was populated after the initial settlements on the Islands of Santa Maria (where Columbus stopped on his return from the Americas) and São Miguel in 1439. It is believed that the first settler and his dog disembarked on the southern end of the Island in 1460. Lajes became its first town and today the municipality of Lajes encompasses the village of Calheta de Nesquim, located at the tip of the elongated island. Calheta is one of the oldest ports on Pico and was the first base for hunting sperm whales (1876). Today, with a population of approximately 15,000 people, Pico is experiencing an economic boom fueled by Portugal’s entry into the European Community although whale hunting was prohibited in 1986.
During Joe’s time, life on Pico was a constant struggle for survival, if not with the sea, then with the dark volcanic stone. Although Pico’s famous wine," verdelho", the product of herculean work on lava beds, had reached international fame all the way to the table of the Czars of Russia, an odium attack in the middle of the nineteenth century destroyed the vines. A stint on an American whaling ship looking for hard working crew members became a ticket to the promised land.

Portuguese Joe Silvey's Birth

On April 23, 1828 in the village of Calheta de Nesquim, in the municipality of Lajes, on the island of Pico, in the archipelago of the Azores, Portugal, a child was born,  Jose, the  legitimate son of John Jose de Simas and his wife Francisca Jacinta, paternal grandson of “pay incognito” (unknown father) and Maria do Espirito Santo, maternal grandson of Antonio Silveira Quaresma and his wife Maria Jacinta.
 Jose was baptized on April 28, 1828; the grandparents were, Father Jose Homem da Silveira, treasurer of the church, “Our Lady of Piedade” and godmother, Rosa Maria, daughter of Manuel Goncalves de Simas, all of Calheta de Nesquim.
 On the baptismal certificate, the date 1846 appears on the bottom, perhaps the date of Jose’s emigration at the age of 18.
That child was most certainly Portuguese Joe Silvey of British Columbia. The names of the parents match the records of his marriage to Lucy in 1872. Like many other Europeans who married young Aboriginal women, Joe fudged his age when he married 14 year old "Lucy", he was not 37 but 44!
The surname “Seamens” in a 1872-preemption land application by joe  must be a transliteration of “Simas.” And the romantic story of a Scottish grandfather resonates with grandson of “pay incognito.”
Jose came from a large family. His four sisters Maria Jacinta, Francisca Jacinta, Rosa Jacinta and Joaquina Inacia all died in Pico. However the place of death of his four brothers, Manuel, João, Antonio and Domingos (the name of Joe's eldest son and one of the founders' of the fishers union in B.C.) are unknown; perhaps they too left never to return to their native land.

Este registo pertence ao Livro nº4 - Nascimentos, da Freguesia da Calheta de Nesquim - Baptismos - 3-1-1825 a 14-5-1848, propriedade da Biblioteca Pública e Arquivo Regional da Horta, Rua D. Pedro IV nº 25, 9901-825 Horta.

Birth Certficate of Jose, courtesy of the Regional Archives of Horta-Thank you to Fernando Goulart, native of Calheta de Nesquim, Pico who appears in  Portuguese Jose  Omni TV documentary produced by Bill Moniz of Toronto, also a native of Pico).

San Francisco City Directory 1850
Silvey, J. S., pilot Sac and San Joaquin rivers, S. T. Saloon, Clark’s Point 
    For the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers — W. A. Fauntleroy, W. Neal, H. Van Ness, W. Burges, L. Gamage, J. S. Silvey, H. Van Pelt, W. Sandezniss, E. Palmer, P. Howard, W. H. Joliff.  Office under Hutton and Timmerman's, Clark's Point.
    Pilots for the Outer Bar — On board Pilot Boat Rialto — G. Simpson, R. Leitch, L. Coxelta, C. J. Wright, Chas. Richardson.  On board Pilot Boat Relief — E. B. Jenkins, M. McDonald, Jas. Urie, C. J. Campbell, Robt. Sing, J. Ludlow.  W. S. Burnside and James Nelson, Agents, office California b. Mont. and Sansome.
    Harbor Master — James Hagan, office, Commerical whf. Clark's Point.  J. Carngan, secretary, Pilot Commissioner's office, Clark's Point.
    Harbor Pilots — John Delevean, John Ingram, Wm. Rogers, Mr. Hanson.  Office at the Harbor Master's office.
    Custom House — corner of Cal. & Montgomery.  James Collier, Collector.  Open from 9 A. M. till 2 P. M. 

1852/53 City Directory
Silvy A. 123 Montgomery 

Joe's brother Antonio?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

JOHN SILVA of Mayne and Gabriola Island

(Adapted from, June 2003, by M. Azevedo)

Silva Bay, Gabriola island

John Silva was born in Cape Verde (or the  Azores) around 1837 (although the 1901 census indicates 1845). He died on Gabriola Island B.C. in 1929. The death certificate records his age as 92 years old, having been in Canada for 70 years.

In 1863 Silva was operating a fruit and vegetable store in Victoria. There he met a daughter of an Indian Chief from Cowichan whom he christened “Louise.” He married her in 1873. She was just 15. That year Silva purchased 237 acres on Mayne Island and moved there in the spring of 1874. “Louise” was apprehensive about marriage but Silva, “was kind and gentle and he took her to his log cabin … it was a dirt floor … he made the fire and Louise baked the bread.”

Louise learned to make the dishes her husband liked. They built a house, cleared the land and planted the first apple orchard in the Gulf Islands. They had ten children but tragedy struck while still on Mayne Island. Two of their children drowned when their canoe overturned in Active Pass, “they got drowned … grandpa dove down six or seven times, … mum was on the shore on a little ledge with my uncle holding her … and my grandfather said to her, I feel so badly, I should be down there myself … but my grandmother … a very practical, wonderful women said … now you listen here, you have two children over there on the ledge, they need you … so he decided not to drown himself.”

The Silva’s sold out in 1883. They tried fishing at Lulu Island on the mouth of the Fraser River before settling down on Gabriola Island the following year. They purchased 133 acres of abandoned homestead land on what is now known as Silva Bay. It was paid in four years.

In addition to farming, Silva built the “Corliss Queen” to fish. He also raised sheep and planted orchards.

In 1914, three of the Silva boys left to serve in the First World War. One was killed, another badly wounded.

In 1920 the Silva’s donated land and helped build a Catholic church. They also donated land to build a public school.

A grand daughter recalls, “ he just spoke broken English, my grandfather spoke Portuguese and very broken English … he was speaking Portuguese to my aunty, that was my mother’s brother’s wife, she would translate … my grandpa … he was a good man.”

Gabriola Island Memorial Cairn
A Special War Memorial Video *
(Requires RealPlayer 4.0)
Gabriola Island, British Columbia

                        Roll Of Honour

World War I 

Edward Silva
Frank Silva
Louis Silva

World War II

Henry Silva

John Silva 
by Fernando Candido

We learn some details about this Portuguese from Cape Verde  from the historian Manuel Azevedo in the book of Jean Barman “ The Remarkable Adventures of Portuguese Joe Silvey”. He said that Silva of Gabriola Island, planted what may have been the province’s first apple orchard on Mayne Island.”

Had been born about the same time than as Portuguese Joe. According to Silva’s descendants, the two men jumped ship together. Silva worked for a time on coastal steamers, and by 1863 was operating a fruit and vegetable store in Victoria. He wanted more, and in 1873 he took up land on Mayne Island. Shortly thereafter he married Louisa, the 15- year-old daughter of Cowichan chief. The story that has been passed down in the family has John Silva giving his future in-laws “two horses hitched and ready for working-two horses and about three sacks of spuds.” This arrangement, like other cross-cultural unions, was difficult at first, as described by Louisa’s granddaughter Margaret.” She was really frightened of marriage, you know, how it would be, so she was given part of the boat and she was crying away.

And my grandfather was kind and gentle and he took her to his log cabin on Mayne Island and mother said it was a dirt floor-a log cabin- And mother said that Grandpa said, “well the first thing you have to do, Louisa, is to make a batch of bread because we do not have any bread,” so he got the fire going [and when] she was making the bread she was crying into the dough.”

John Silva fished and Louisa bore the children, 10 of them. Like his friend Portuguese Joe, John Silva soon decided that there was no turning back. On June 27, 1876, he took his oath as British subject, which entitled him to own outright the land on which they lived.

A few years later, in the early 1880’s, the Silva family moved to from Mayne to Gabriola Island because of persistent native raiding parties on their sheep. According to the granddaughter Margaret, ”The Haida Indians kept coming through the passageway and they’d hoot and they’d holler and away they would come and they were a pretty fearful bunch and my grandfather kept sheep and he had goats and he had geese and stuff and these Indians would come through and they’d take half of his stuff to feed their families- I guess they did not like to live on fish all the time!-and anyway my grandmother decided,” I am not living here,” so she said to my grandfather, “I want to get out of here,” and so she talked him into moving to Gabriola Island.”

In the Western Canadians 1600-1900

John Silva is mentioned a couple of times but it his hard to know who are his children because some of the children of another Portuguese Joseph Silva (Silvey) are also mentioned. Silva, John, born circa 1846 in Portugal or Azores Islands, (BC41-FN187) Silva, John, farmer living in 1901 on Gabriola Island (BC2-280) Silva, Louisa, (Native Indian), born circa 1856 in British Columbia (BC41-FN198) Silva, Louisa, homemaker/wife, living in1881 in Cowichan and Salt Spring Islands (BC41-FN198) (I am not sure which ones are his children).

(from fernandocandido)

John Norton was born in the Azores on the 4 Aug 1823. He settled the area north of the hospital in Salt Spring Islands. He had a farm there. (Salt Spring archives). He was married to Annie a black lady from San Francisco. Norton when he was 44, he was listed as a widow we may assume that his previous wife had died and he married Annie when she was only 18. See the list of his family members below.

H1/05/01 Norton, John, m, h, m, 4 Aug 1823, 77, POR, to Can: 1859, RC, Farmer. ……Rems: MR: John Norton, 44, r.SSI, b.Azores Is., wid, farmer, RC, s.o.Antonie & Marie mar Annie Robinson, 18, r.SSI, b.San Francisco, CA, USA, WM, d.o.Henry W. & Margaret, 8 Dec 1873, Cowichan District.
H1/05/02 Norton, Annie, f, wife, m, 24 Jul 1836, 64, USA, to Can: 1858, RC.
H1/05/03 Norton, John J., m, son, s, 23 Sep 1871, 29, BC, RC, Farmer.
H1/05/04 Norton, Dorothy, f, dau, s, 7 May 1879, 21, BC, RC.
H1/05/05 Norton, Walter N., m, son, s, 23 Sep 1880, 20, BC, RC.
H1/05/06 Norton, Albert A., m, son, s, 30 Apr 1882, 18, BC, RC.
H1/05/07 Norton, Elsie M., f, dau, s, 23 Sep 1886, 14, BC, RC.
H1/05/08 Norton, Robert P., m, son, s, 10 Jan 1889, 12, BC, RC.
H1/05/09 Norton, Maud B., f, dau, s, 26 May 1891, 9, BC, RC.
H1/05/10 Norton, Pearl V., f, dau, s, 27 Jun 1893, 7, BC, RC.
H1/05/11 Norton, Grace, f, dau, s, 17 Nov 1896, 4, BC, RC.
H1/05/12 Norton, Joseph, m, son, s, 3 Jul 1899, 1, BC, RC.

Victoria Cencus 1901 (source
Jan 13, Salt Spring Island, of consumption, Louisa, wife of John NORTON. She leaves a family of 3 small children. (from The Victoria Daily Standard, 1873, Death Notices) source We may assume this was a wife of Jonh Norton the Portuguese men.

John Norton was also in court for the death of William Robinson. There was a book written about this case of an African American killed on the island. The book has been examined in detail. An Indian as convicted for the murder. A convicton widely debated and controversial. Some may seem to be pointing to John Norton as the potential murderer. (source