Quatsino

Winter Harbor, Vancouver Island, BC
Winter Harbor, Vancouver Island, BC, Jobe’s trading post was located here. Photo by Bud Logan

Chris Nordstrom was living in North Dakota when in 1893 he attended the Chicago Exposition, while there he met a Mr. Jobe Leeson who was one of Quatsino Sound’s first settlers, Jobe had a trading post in Winter Harbor. He talked at length about the beauty of Quatsino sound with Jobe. After the Chicago Exposition ended, Chris took a trip up to Victoria BC and looked into settling Quatsino sound on the north island. He learned of a Colonel Baker who was offering free parcels of land for immigrants, if a group of 30 or more signed up, they would receive for free, 33 acres of land. He traveled back to North Dakota where he convinced 20 people to join him in immigrating to North Vancouver Island. Nordstrom, his son George and the other people headed to Victoria where they met up with Jobe Leeson.

Another trader Edouard Frigon, who was from the north island joined the group. They then chartered the schooner Mischief and headed up to Quatsino Sound. After looking over potential places to put down roots, they finally settled at Quatsino Narrows.

Early Homesteaders of Quatsino
Early Homesteaders of Quatsino, photo credit, Quatsino.Org

They cleared plots for gardens, build cabins, brought in livestock, and were on the way to homesteading a new community. A sawmill was put into operation and another trader arrived with a boatload of goods and build a waterfront store that soon expanded with a post office and a government wharf. By 1896 the population of Quatsino was pegged at 125.

The Quatsino schoolhouse was built that year, the first year saw 17 students enrolled. Over the next 34 years, this school was in use but by 1930 it had become too small. So in 1930, Mr. David Robertson is contracted to build a new school to accommodate the influx of students and families moving into Quatsino, the cost of the 2 acres for school ground was $1.00, the cost of the new schoolhouse was $8000.00. The new school is ready in January, There is an enrollment of 35. Two teachers are hired, and the students are split between the two classrooms.

 

Quatsinos Shoolhouse
Quatsino Schoolhouse, photo credit, The Times Colonist

In 1933, a fire breaks out at the Quatsino School that destroys the three-year-old building and most of the equipment and supplies. Classes are divided between the Social Club building and the old school for the rest of the year. The school is quickly rebuilt and ready for the opening of school in the following year.
The old school building that was constructed in 1896 was sold to the Anglican Church and given the name St. Olaf’s in honor of Quatsino’s Scandinavian pioneers. This church is still in service today and has become quite popular for weddings. The building has been in continuous use since it was first constructed.
In 1975, electrical power finally arrives in the community. This is great news for the families who live here, the first to get it wired is the Quatsino school and the church.

Quatsino Museum
Quatsino Museum, photo credit, Quatsino Museum

The population of Quatsino today is around 100, but most of these are here only for the summer. There is a very cool, small but wonderful museum located across from the government wharf where you can learn more about the history of Quatsino. It is open from 1 pm to 2 pm daily throughout the summer months. After you visit the museum, be sure to walk the 8 km road that runs from one end of town to the other, the views are incredible, and you get a true sense of the history of the area.

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