Morrison Creek Walk

Marguerite: We had a rope in one of the maple trees and we used to swing over to the other side. There was no water in there.

Is that how you got back and forth over the…

Marguerite: Yeah, it was just fun. That’s why the neighbour across the road called us The Morrison Monkeys, climbing and everything.

Did you ever figure out how long the actual flume would have been?  Kilometers-wise.

Jim: We could find out on Google Earth, probably the easiest way to do it.   Here’s a trail along that way, and I’ll just follow along this here.

Marguerite: Okay, let’s go that trail and see where we meet him.

Jim: I’ll follow the flume.… So at this point, the flume would have had to cross this little mini-valley on another trestle to get across this dip here.  Getting towards the intake now.

Can you explain a little bit what you’re holding onto there.

Maureen: This is an old fir tree, probably cut down in the late century and this hemlock tree has grown right through the stump.

Jim:  In some of the trees you’ll find the old cut-in, springboard notch.  The person cutting the tree down, they’d have a plank stuck into a notch so they could stand way up off the ground and cut the tree above the part where it’s flared at the bottom there.

Are you’re saying that this whole area would have been, already, second growth?

Maureen: Third maybe. Our grandfather logged. My father logged. My husband logged it and then I know that, I think in 1949 my husband and my dad were out here logging too, so who knows.

Were any of your family involved in the first round of logging?

Maureen: Just our grandfather.

Marguerite:  But, the maple trees, you can see some of those are original. Look at that one way up there, because they didn’t cut them down. It was what you would call selective logging.  And you can tell the ones they didn’t want because they’ve got branches out and they’re misshapen, or they’re fir or they’re balsam, don’t want it, but you look at the maple trees and that tells a lot.

Maureen: Something I’ve noticed going through here,  I don’t see the devil’s club now.

Jim: It’s too dry for it now.

Maureen: And the other thing, the ferns that have grown here, just massive.  We used to pick a lot of Oregon Grape for making jelly, and there’s just not the growth of  Oregon Grapes where they were before. It’s the ferns that are coming in.

Jim: It’s darker in here now.

Marguerite: Our grandmother told me when I got married and had my first child, she says now you want to get lots of vitamin C, get those  Oregon Grapes and make a jelly of them or a juice and always put some in the soups and stews that you make, for the vitamin C.   It would be interesting to have somebody come here that knows the wild and the medicinal plants – you would learn an awful lot.

Q: That’s next week. You can come too.

Maureen: If you’re not packing water, the new growth from the Oregon Grape,  just chew that and it helps your thirst.

Marguerite: Or later, the berry. Just bite into a berry.

Maureen: That will really get lots of water flowing in your mouth. We used to have licorice, out of the Maple tree, the roots.

Marguerite: It just doesn’t taste like what you get in a store.

There’s a lot of trees down this year, quite a lot of limbs down all over.

Maureen: You really don’t want to walk through here when it’s windy.

Marguerite: So the city has management of the park under strict conditions. It’s to be left natural, as it is, for everybody, in memory of our McQuillan side of the family, and the Pentlatch people.  The Chief, Joe Nim Nim, he was the last of the Pentlatch people.  And they intermarried, and all the regalia went to the Komoks band and so they have all of that. At the start of the park on Arden Road,  there’s a rock with a plaque on it that gives that history.

Do you know where their village site was?

Maureen: On the other side, just past Condensory Road, where the campground is, in that area.

You were saying the city doesn’t own this, it’s a trust, is that your family trust?

Maureen: It’s a nature trust.

Marguerite: Often when people give land as a park, like in the city, a lady gave the land across from what used to be the elementary schools where the grocery and courthouse is, that was for a playground for the kids.  And the city in its wisdom thought, we need this courthouse here.  And so they exchanged all that land for a little piece up by Cumberland Road, so we didn’t want that to be happening.

Jim: Standard Park. The city was going to put the new fire hall there as well.

Marguerite: And maybe you remember, certainly your parents remember, at the park where the fair goes on, Lewis Park was given.  And not long ago they wanted to build Simms Park, an exchange sort of idea but people knew the history so they said “no, you’re not going to do that”. So that does remain, even if it gets flooded every year.  So that’s why we tried to keep the original gift to continue and that’s a nature park of BC.

Q: That’s the classic story, isn’t it.  This whole area has seen development and the owners, they create jobs and do good things, but then they leave the mess for others to deal with.  We’ve seen that time and time again, and I think that’s why people now have concerns about the coal mine, because we’re still dealing with the historical issues.

Who would commit to maintain this for a hundred years? No lumber company would agree to do it.  But they get the rights and leave the problem for the rest of us.

Maureen: And then they sell it for development into houses anyway.

Dan: The underground still all belongs to…

Marguerite: Nature!

Dan: Dunsmuir!

Jim: E and N Railway, yeah.

In B.C. the right to make a mineral claim for a mine is absolutely anywhere. Somebody could come and start a mine under your house and you have no rights. 

Q: Our property up in Cumberland is, the mining rights are Wellington Collieries.

Jim: Do they have a legal life going on still?

Q: Yes, they do.

(the group walks further)

Jim: Over that way, the water that’s diverted flows through that wetland and enters Morrison Creek just upstream from where we crossed.  It’s mostly built for juvenile Coho that spend a whole year in fresh water after they hatch out, and they need wetlands and tiny, tiny little streams to spend their fresh water residency in.  They live in some of the tiniest little ditches, as long as there’s some decent overhanging vegetation and cool oxygenated water that’s not too skuzzy…an intake like this takes a lot of maintenance under the best of conditions.

Maureen: This is actually the location of the dam, right here. This is exactly where it started, but we’re looking at a pipe intake there, that is flowing through into the ditch.

Marguerite: That’s where they routed the water to come from Morrison Creek, to come this way. The Fisheries did.

Jim: Which was just made into a pipe intake in the last five to ten years. It was an open channel before that.

Maureen: And the fish would divert themselves and get stuck down further and build up.  And then they tried to get back up  – we didn’t help them because they were too stinky – out of that pond to get back up into here. It was unreal.

Is that the beginning of the flume?

Maureen: The flume is right behind you, the ditch.

Jim: And this is the same original channel,  behind you here. This pipe is what was upgraded recently.