David Maas: Vancouver Island History Comes to Life

Our September speaker, David Maas, originally from Ontario, moved to Vancouver Island over 20 years ago.  With a natural curiosity and interest in everything, his readings and research have resulted in a deep understanding and love of Vancouver Island history which he shared with us. Who knew, for example, that geology shows Vancouver Island came from another totally different area including rock from Cuba.

David explored several themes: isolation from British colonialism, then fear of American aggression in the 1800’s resulting in the British bringing immigrants to farm and to occupy the land. Because of the foreboding mountains, most people lived on plateaus and the eastern coastland. Railroads built in 1910-20 were instrumental in opening up the island; roads were to come later. Port Alberni was very isolated. Eventually, roads overtook trains as a means of transportation. Several areas didn’t develop until coal was discovered.

Nanaimo was a key area for mines and one of the few harbours that could service ships, but coal was only found on the island’s west coast.  Eventually, ships were converted from coal to diesel damaging the coal industry which survived until the 1960’s. Then timber took over primarily with BC fir until the 1980’s. Since then, the retirement and service industries have predominated here.

For the past 18 years David has done historical bus tours from Sooke to Port Hardy. He has guided more than a thousand Newcomer’s from the Parksville/Qualicum Newcomers Association on tours of the Island.



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