Put that Damned Old Mattock Away
Excerpts from David J Spalding’s writing

Early Years On the Farm

Goods were brought in (to South Pender Island) by small boat or scow, unloaded onto the bank just above the rocky high-water line, re-loaded onto a sled or wagon and then hauled to the farm by a team of oxen.  This is how,
for example, all the material for the Spalding home was brought into the valley in the spring of 1889.  As land was purchased and homes built on the south side of South Pender, the old landing at the foot of the Landin Mountain was abandoned, replaced in the mid-1890s by first a trail and then a rough wagon road down to the beach at Bedwell Harbour.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Arthur and Lilias’s farm was beginning to show a certain degree of permanence as the following sketch shows.  The new barn can be seen, up against the mountain, with the Peak in the background directly behind and above the barn.

Spaulding 1

Fenced fields and one large barn, with the forest still dominating.

The Peak has a very special meaning for the Spalding family and will be referred to several times in this history.  It is a relatively small, rocky outcrop on the ridge behind (north of) the farm and the family home; as Helen, Elizabeth, Beatrice and Herbert grew older, the Peak became increasingly important as a destination when out for a hike.  From the valley floor, the Peak is quite inconspicuous, but from its summit looking south, one gets a unique view of the valley farm, Camp Bay and the American islands to the south and east, with Bedwell Harbour and lower Vancouver Island to the west; and looking north, there are Saturna and Mayne Islands, the Strait of Georgia and the mainland in the distance.

As the decades have passed, several generations of Spaldings have, by frequent visits, emphasized the importance of the Peak to our family.  It is still, for me, the place to go, perhaps for just a hike, or to find the first ladyslippers in the spring, or to look for a rare Sharptailed Snake; or, to contemplate the long history of my family on South Pender Island.

Spaulding 2

A 1955 photo showing three generations of Spaldings at the Dog Holes.
Herbert and Winifred, son David, & grandson Jonathan.

On the very top of the Peak are two small indentations, usually full of water, called the “Dog Holes”, and all dogs, when on a hike with their masters, invariably rush to these small pools of water for a drink. Family tradition has decreed that on one’s first visit to the Peak, one must have a drink from the “Dog Holes’’.  In truth, it is most unusual for anyone to drink this very dirty and brackish water, but some hardy first visitor will sometimes rub a bit of water on his or her face, feeling that sense of gratification in the knowledge they have kept the tradition alive.  In the above photograph, my eldest son Jonathan did not drink the water (luckily!) but was quite happy to puddle in it.

Put that Damned Old Mattock Away is available at the Pender Island Public Library

Begun September 17  2014