Frederick and Jack Nunns were born in Ireland on January 30, 1858, and before he had turned twenty, Frederick had set off to travel the world. He traveled alone to London and then to Morocco, where Jack joined him, together, the twin brothers ventured to Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Town, South Africa where Fred was a Mounted Police Man. The brothers emigrated to Canada and settled in the Campbell River area in 1887. They had plans to start a farm. They pre-empted several hundred acres just up from the estuary on the Campbell River. It was tough to work the land but they cleared a large portion and did indeed build a farm.
Over the years many relatives of Fred and Jack would arrive in the area, some staying only briefly, and others remaining for many years. We know this because Frederick Nunns kept a detailed journal of his life in the Campbell River area. His entries were most often short and mostly talked about the weather, occasionally, he would add details about other settlers or exciting things that happened on the farm. Some of the families that he knew and had interacted with quite often were mentioned in the journal. One of the families Nunns had contact with the Quocksister family who were a well-known First Nation family in the area. Another family he mentioned quite often was another settler who had arrived in 1890, Edward B. Hill, Mr. Hill had 160 acres south of Fred’s place, in what is now the downtown business core. We know a lot about the early years in Campbell River and about the lives of the first settlers because of Fred’s Journal. There are copies available that you can read at the Museum’s Archives Research Centre.
Fred’s life was tough as it was for the other settlers but through hard work, they created a life here for themselves. One of the recurring themes here was the fact that they could all rely upon each other in times of need. They would offer a hot meal and a place to sleep to travel-weary visitors without hesitation and help with any construction that was being done by a neighbor in need.
Fred Nunns was no exception to this rule and was known for his kindness, but he was also known as a bit of a recluse. He was an eccentric old gentleman that spoke little but always with intelligence. According to Mr. Campbell, the first school teacher in the community. Mr. Campbell had boarded with Fred for several months. He said that Fred had some strange rituals in the morning. No matter the time of year, Fred would get up, light the stove, and while still wearing his pajamas would walk down to the river, wade into his waist, and proceed to wash up. Then he would walk back to his cabin, remove his pajamas, and hang them behind the stove, where they would dry before bedtime.
In 1923 Fred had been to visit a dentist to have six abscessed and painful teeth removed, they had used Novocaine during the removal, he collapsed after the treatment and died, they suspect that it was an overdose from the Novocaine. Fred has left a legacy though and his name lives on, The Nunns Creek Park is one of the places that keeps his name alive, it’s a wonderful park where there are several ballparks and a loggers sports area that has some of the best loggers from the Pacific Northwest compete for the honor of being labeled the best. The park has many trails that let one wonder about the wetlands, the birdlife here is just incredible.
When the Campbell River Museum created the Puppet Theatre, the first two plays were about Fred. Over the years since then, many more stories about this early settler were made into puppet plays. Children of all ages love stories like Fred Nunns