For over six months the emigrants were cooped up on the Princess Rose, a three masted barque that had carried them from Liverpool to Canada. In Victoria they were transferred to The Beaver a steam powered side wheeler. They approach Colville, their new home.
“To be charitable, the settlement looked promising, if untidy, although Kate was astonished at how small it was. There were perhaps only twenty log cabins, of varying sizes, and two much larger buildings, whose functions were not immediately apparent, but Kate thought they might be community buildings. There was not even a church.
One building overlooking the harbour was very different from the others: Mr Wilson the mine manager who welcomed them, referred to it in his speech as ‘the bastion’. The three-tiered building was octagonal, with the top tier overhanging the bottom two so that it resembled a mushroom. There were square ports for cannon and narrow slits through which rifles could be pointed. It was possible to fire from each of the bastion’s sides, on two levels. Mr Wilson said it was spacious enough to hold all Colville’s inhabitants in the event of Indian attack. A use to which so far, he told them, it had never been tested.”
While the bastion has been renovated over the years many of its original timbers remain and it still stands in Nanaimo. In my book, set in 1854, I have used the name Colville since Nanaimo, the city’s Indian name, was not adopted until 1860. The image above is of the bastion on a sunny spring day.
Photograph credit: Benedek.