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Ebbs & Flows

Trails of my Ancestors

My great grandmother Emma (Purser) Douglas and her husband George Douglas moved to Lasqueti Island in 1911 and resided there until their deaths in 1952 and 1954. Both were buried in the Lasqueti cemetery. Recently we honoured them by placing stone markers on their graves.  Emma was born on July 20, 1870 at Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island; George was born on August 1, 1871 in Victoria. 

George was a logger on the Cowichan River in Cowichan Bay. Due to rheumatism, he was advised that a coastal life near salt water could help. Apparently, Harry Higgins mentioned Lasqueti Island to the couple and offered them his empty house at Boat Cove. Emma’s sister and husband, George Volkweis, also lived on Lasqueti. She was the Post Mistress.


Emma was known as the island “doctor” delivering many babies. She used her herbal knowledge to cure illnesses. In her early years, she rode all over the Island on horseback to reach her patients. She also walked long distances, using a lantern at night. Her mother, Annie Kollectonat-Sichemon, a member of the Cowichan Tribes, passed down her knowledge to Emma. Annie was the herb doctor for the Cowichan Reserve.


Emma and George lived in a house on the flat above Richardson Bay. Emma had recorded all her herbal cures in a brown book which was lost when the house caught fire and burned down.


In 1915 Emma and George established the “Old Douglas Farm” planting many apple trees and operating a commercial apple orchard. More than a century later, many of those original trees are still producing wonderful fruit. 


Emma could cook, can, sew, knit, card sheep wool, garden, and help in the fields. She did whatever needed doing, always cheerfully and tirelessly. The Douglas’s always had people around. Their house was full most Sundays. There was always storytelling. 


My parents Wilfred and Lillian Kitchen (Emma’s granddaughter) with my two eldest siblings lived with Emma and George at the Douglas Farm in 1931 for a couple of years before moving to Salt Spring Island. Mom would bake pies and Dad would row the boat to the fishermen to sell the pies.

We are pleased that the Old Douglas Farm is well maintained and operating as a Cidery using apples from the original trees planted by the Douglas’s.


We have visited Lasqueti twice this past year and enjoyed its simplicity and the lovely people on it. - Dorothy Hamer

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