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Maud Sherman Diary – an excerpt

savaryheritage

7 min read

Jun 17

16

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The Cheakamus/Cheslakee



     Mr. Grey came home one evening in a very amiable humour. He took off his hat, lit his pipe, and sinking into an armchair, put his feet on the mantelpiece. Mrs. Grey looked horrified and indignant at this outrage. But Mr. Grey did not notice. He pulled a large, thin book from his pocket. "Savary," said he, "how would you you like to take a trip to that new summer resort, Savary Island?" Mrs. Grey looked dubious. "For how long?" she asked. "Oh, about two weeks — I've engaged a stateroom and the boat sails tomorrow, two o’clock — great trip." Here Mrs. Grey got up and executed a war dance that made the dishes rattle on the sideboard. Mrs. Grey had been examining the catalogue. "I wonder if it is really as nice as they say?" she said reflectively. "Oh bother" cried Mr. Grey, "come and pack up.” Then for the first time Mrs. Grey remembered the boat. She hated boats. "What boat do we take?" she demanded. Mr. Grey picked a timetable up from the floor which had fallen from the book. "S.S. Cheakamus" Saturday, two o’clock p.m.,” he read. Mrs. Grey frowned. "Isn't that the boat that sank last winter?" she asked. "The Cheslakee her name was then." Mr. Grey looked uncomfortable. He knew his wife’s weakness. But he could not contradict her. So he had to admit that the Cheakamus and the Cheslakee were one. "But," he said, "she has been made over. They have strengthened her, and taken the heavy top off. It was the heavy top that sunk her. She is perfectly safe now." Mrs. Grey was not by any means so sure, but she went on packing.

     Next morning she wished she had never consented to go. If she had to go, she would rather go by aeroplane. She did not believe that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Mr. Grey, however, was in high spirits. He teased Mrs. Grey, worried the cat, stepped on the dog's tail, put things in inaccessible places and made himself a general nuisance. At last the time came to go. Mr. Grey staggered down the front steps, loaded with baskets, bundles, coats, shawls, etc. When they got out of the car, Mr. Grey was undecided whether to go down Carrall Street or Columbia Street. He chose Columbia, being more familiar with it, though they would have to go through the C.P.R. railway yards to get there. Of course the eastbound train was just pulling out, and a freight train came in just as the gates were about to be opened again. Of all the places in Vancouver, the C.P.R. railway yards try the patience more than any other. Finally they got through. 

     The wharf  was easily identified by the red funnels sticking up around it. But the difficulty was to find the right boat. There were big boats, little boats, and middle-sized boats, and all had red funnels and black hulls. Mr. Grey went off to find out, while Mrs. Grey fervently wished the S.S. Cheakamus/Cheslakee at the bottom of the Gulf of Georgia. But when Mr. Grey came back and led the way to a good-sized, handsome-looking, long, low steamer, that looked sturdy enough for anything, Mrs. Grey felt better. The Cheakamus certainly was a different boat from the short top-heavy, ugly Cheslakee. Presently the cables were cast loose, the water boiled, the engines throbbed, and the Cheakamus was sailing along the sparkling water of the big harbour. She moved swiftly but easily — she was an oil burner, and no smoke marred the scene. The harbour was beautiful. On one side the mountains rise, and with their snow-capped peaks, shelter the great harbour from the north winds. Below, North Vancouver lay peacefully sleeping, at least it appeared to be. On the other side, the tall, white buildings of the city rose with the residential sections spread out on all sides, each one like a large separate town. Mr. Grey, after finding Mrs. Grey a chair on the upper deck, went below to look after their stateroom, leaving Mrs. Grey sitting in her chair. Suddenly a thunderous whistle sung out ahead, and at the same time the Cheakamus whistle blew. Mrs. Grey covered her ears, and went to the rail. Ahead of them, and coming at a great pace, was a big ocean liner. As she passed, Mrs. Grey could read her name — Saxonia* — a  Hambourg Amerika liner. Then the Cheakamus got the Saxonia's swells. Mrs. Grey clutched the rail as the steamer rose over the wave, and then staggered to her chair. The other passengers were standing, looking after the liner. Mrs. Grey wondered how they managed to stand up. Mr. Grey was having his troubles too. He had secured the stateroom, and was coming back. Just as he came to the stairs leading him to the saloon, the first swell struck the steamer. Mr. Grey grabbed the railing, missed it, and rolled down, knocking over a waiter with a tray of dishes. Dinner was not ready, so no one but a couple of waiters saw. Mr. Grey got up first, and without waiting to see what damage he had done, he scudded up the saloon stairs, and out on deck. But Mrs. Grey was on the deck above, so up he went, and sank into a deck chair beside his wife. They got further away from the smoking city. 

     The scenery became grander and more rugged. The steamer crept quietly along the coast through lovely scenery. But the finest was at Pender Harbour. First a narrow passage dotted with tiny, very tree-covered islands, where the vessel came so close to the rocks it seemed as if she were running aground. But the passengers forgot the rocks as the boat steamed into the little harbour. Mountains rose in picturesque confusion all around. Some dome-shaped, some like cathedral spires, and others in weird and rugged shapes that suggested all kinds of things. The shore was lined with trees and rocky cliffs. The shiny-leaved, red-barked arbutus trees showed prettily against the sombre evergreens. An island rather larger than the others was roughly (?) and an Indian village stood up front. On the shore, boats lay drawn up on the pebbly beach, and back of that, houses. It was a lovely view with the sunset just beginning to flame in the northwest. The Cheakamus engines stopped throbbing, and she glided gently in. Another red-funnelled steamer lay there, and being rather heavily laden, the Cheakamus stopped awhile to transfer some of her cargo. 

     Then the engines throbbed and the propeller churned the flaccid water, while the beautiful little harbour passed from view. Soon after leaving Pender Harbour the waves began to rise. Mrs. Grey was afraid of being seasick. But as the boat slid smoothly and steadily over the waves she was not. As the sunset faded and the night with its stars began to close over them, Mr. Grey made her go to the stateroom. Mrs. Grey lay down on the lower berth, but could not go to sleep for thinking of the rock-covered coast  where so many vessels had gone down. After a while she dozed off, but was awakened by the screaming of the steam whistle. She wondered were they were, and also why Mr. Grey had not come in. They stayed a long time there, and daylight had come before they moved on. 

     It was fairly light when Mr. Grey came in and told her Savary Island was on the port bow. Mrs. Grey did not know starboard from port. Neither did Mr. Grey for that matter, and it was just luck that he got it right. Mrs. Grey went to the bow with her husband. Just ahead of them loomed a long island with white cliffs and a fringe of forest on top of them. "Savary Island," Mr. Grey informed her. "What?” cried Mrs. Grey. “How can we climb up and down those cliffs every time we want to go to the beach?" "You just wait," was all the answer she got. The boat steamed around a high rocky point and turned into a great crescent-shaped bay. It was very different from the south shore. The island was very long and narrow and shaped like a rough crescent. Along the shore in front of them the white sandy shore sloped gently down to the water. Back of that was forest with red-roofed, wide verandahed, fairy-like cottages underneath the trees. Several launches lay anchored close to shore and quite a fleet of rowboats moored about in the bay. The boat ran into a big wharf, and Mr. and Mrs. Grey, together with a big crowd of people, got off. After seeing their luggage trundled down the wharf, they went to see about their room at the Inn, as the hotel was called. They got a room — tiny, but pretty and clean with windows looking to the west where the snow-capped mountains of Vancouver Island showed mistily. Next morning they had breakfast at the hotel, then walked around admiring the beautiful island with its dark forests and gleaming white sands. Mr. Grey suggested that they hire a boat and go for a sail. The only boat to be found was moored a distance from shore so they had to take out a dinghy to reach her. Mr. Grey thought he knew how to sail a boat. But he was not, by any means, an excellent oarsman. So he afforded some amusement for the other boats, as well as the people on shore. He circled around and around the float but could not land the boat. Finally a little boy about twelve years old rowed out and took his painter and towed him to the sailboat. The boat was small and sailed easily. So Mr. Grey began to enjoy himself immensely. He steered around the last point of the island and out between Savary and another island lying in the distance. They were about a mile away when Mr. Grey noticed a dark line of water, tipped with white, rapidly approaching. It was so close and approaching him so rapidly, that there was no time to do much thinking. Forgetting that Mrs. Grey didn't know a thing about boats, he called "Haul on that main sheet quick." Mrs. Grey did not know what a sheet on a boat was — the nearest thing that looked like a sheet was the sail. This she took hold of and pulled, and of course it nearly upset the boat. Mr. Grey stopped steering and did it himself. The waves were now dancing gaily around them. So was the boat. She had a splendid breeze behind her and she was going towards home at a beautiful rate, dipping and flying like a swallow. Mr. Grey enjoyed the sensation, but Mrs. Grey did not. She was feeling decidedly "green" and was glad to step on the firm white sandy beach.


 * (Editor's note: The Saxonia was actually a Cunard liner, a competitor to the Hambourg Amerika Line, and did not apparently ever sail into Vancouver harbour.



    

Maud Sherman





The Cheakamus




savaryheritage

7 min read

Jun 17

16

0

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