tiskʷat / Townsite
tiskʷat or tik̓ʊk̓t (Teeskwat or Teekukt)
Meaning: Big river, Tikʷut-fish are struggling to get up the river on the falls, kʷʊk̓t-fish going up the river
The following information comes from Colin Osmond's research with the University of Saskatchewan. His findings can be read in the Nehmotl Newsletters by the Tla'amin Nation, in the February & March 2018 Issues.
tiskʷat (currently where the mill site is located) was inhabited by the Tla'amin people long before European contact. Spring salmon, coho, and red snapper could all be caught from the bluffs to the middle of where the hulks used to be.
In 1873, the Government of BC sold a vast portion of the Tla’amin traditional territory to a man named Robert Paterson “R.P.” Rithet. This land, was labelled Lot 450 and encompassed the village of tiskʷat; it was a much-coveted piece of timberland. Following this sale, Tla’amin chiefs made several trips to Victoria to protest the sale with Indian Agents and government officials. Indian Land Commissioned Gilbert Malcom Sproat, who had a sympathetic ear to the Tla’amin First Nations, requested that the government cease selling or leasing land in the region until a survey could be completed.
In 1878, Sproat wrote to the BC Chief Commissioner reporting about a disturbance in Sliammon. The First Nations were concerned with white settlers and loggers cutting trees too close to their villages and were requesting a survey of their lands. Sproat reported their concerns on multiple occasions to Israel Powell (Superintendent of Indian Affairs), but their requests were ignored. Tla’amin took the matter into their own hands – they seized all the logs cut by white loggers in the vicinity of their villages.
Sproat himself wrote many letters between 1876 and 1879 reporting Tla’amin’s complaints about settlers appropriating parts of their territory, as more and more white settlers arrived in the area. In 1879, he wrote an 8-page letter to Israel Powell shaming the provincial government for ignoring the Tla’amin Nation.
Sproat congregated the Tla’amin, Holmaco, and Klahoose leaders in Sliammon, and listened to each presented opinion and demands. He left, promising them that he would do his best to convince the government to send a survey party to lay claim to their land. Unfortunately, Sproat was forced into retirement in 1880.
The government stalled their efforts to survey the Tla’amin reserves due to the large quantity of valuable timber in the region, and the discovery of iron ore, copper, and gold on Texada Island. It isn’t until 1888 that the new Indian Land Commissioner, Peter O’Reilly, met with Tla’amin to survey and define sections of their territory into reserves. The Tla’amin Nation was excited that they would finally be able to protect their lands from pre-emptions, white loggers and settlers.
Chief Timothy spent much time with O’Reilly aboard the SS Sir James Douglas, pointing out villages and islands that he wanted surveyed as part of the Tla’amin lands. He pushed for Savary Island and for the repatriation of tiskʷat. But government officials ignored his requests saying they did not need that much land.
In the end, surveyors allotted six reserves for the Tla’amin People: Sliammon IR 1, Hardwood Island IR 2, Paukeanum IR 3, Toquana IR 4, Tokenatch IR 5, and Kahkaykay IR 6. Within a few years of their lands being surveyed, the Tla’amin pursued the government to survey more land for their exclusive use. They claimed that surveyors had missed important Tla’amin places like Texada Island. Several letters were written to their Indian Agent but by 1895, the Indian Land Commission reported that they had exhausted their funds and were unable to continue the surveying of Indigenous lands. This left all Tla’amin lands outside the 6 reserves legally open to settlement and resource extraction.
Click here for more information on the mill site and the continuing story of Lot 450 as land leased by the Powell River Company.
The following information was provided by the Townsite Heritage Society
The Powell River Townsite is a unique coastal community in British Columbia, Canada that was designated as a National Historic District of Canada in 1995 (one of only seven in Canada at the time, and the only one in Western Canada). A very prestigious designation, it confirms that the Powell River Townsite, remarkably intact with over 400 original buildings contained within the borders of the 1910 town plan, is a historical asset to the entire country.
The prime mover behind the town's development was the Powell River Company, the founder of western Canada's first pulp and paper mill, and responsible for the planning, construction and provision of most of the community's needs. The Company was founded by Dr. Dwight D. Brooks, Anson Brooks, and Michael J. Scanlon and incorporated in 1909. That same year, construction began on the mill and the hydro-electric dam across the river. The town of Powell River itself was platted and preplanned on blueprints as early as 1909. The construction proceeded methodically, block-by-block, with up to ten homes being built simultaneously. The progress of the town's construction also depended on the economic conditions of the Company in any given year. The year 1930 marked its completion, with the exception of housing for returning World War II veterans.
The town was modelled after the Garden City Movement from the late 19th century, which addressed the problems associated with industrialization at the time. The proponents of the movement felt that preplanning an entire town on principles which enhanced the livability for its residents, the opportunity for a fuller life would be possible, thus encouraging intellectual, moral, and physical development. In Powell River, our planners drew from this philosophy in the creation of the town: it was preplanned, complete with public gardens and tree-lined streets. The Powell River Company took on the role of patriarch, providing: homes, schools, playing fields, recreational and commercial amenities, and contributed to religious buildings as well.
Another movement that influenced the development of the Townsite and which remains visible today, is the Arts and Craft Movement. This architectural style emphasized the skills of craftsmanship, which was threatened by mass production and industrialization. Some characteristics include: bellcast roof lines, verandahs, porches, dormer windows, the use of natural materials, exposed beams, fireplaces with large chimneys, shingle siding, hand crafted built in cabinetry, double hung windows, etc. The movement itself promoted the principle that happy and healthy head, hands, and heart (i.e. opportunities for intellectual, cultural, and recreational stimulation made available in their community) would produce healthy and productive employees. This premise is very closely aligned to the underlying principles embodied by the Garden City Movement.
This Company town flourished until 1955 when the Company passed out of the hands of the founding families and into the ownership of MacMillan Bloedel. As this company had no intentions of assuming the responsibilities of a landlord, employees were allowed to purchase the houses, and the municipal Corporation District of Powell River was formed, incorporating Powell River (now identified as the Townsite), and the surrounding communities of Cranberry Lake, Wildwood Heights, and Westview. Since then, buildings have been privately owned and the maintenance of the public gardens and boulevards has been done by the Townsite Heritage Society since the early 1990's.
The Powell River Company
The Patricia Theatre
The SIng Lee Building
Townsite Maps (showing old and current street addresses)