Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hardy Pioneers

If you go into Friday Harbor’s Town Hall you will see this photograph hanging in the reception area. The hardy pioneer in the middle is Charles McKay, one of the first Americans to settle on San Juan Island. McKay and his friend D.W. Oakes were 49ers who after unsuccessful prospecting for gold in California took a schooner out of San Francisco to Astoria, Oregon. From there, they bought a large Indian canoe and paddled the rest of the way up the coast, around the cape and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca against formidable winds and currents, north and up the Frazer River. As I mentioned, these were hardy pioneers! Both men farmed on San Juan Island where they married native women and raised families.
Powder-Keg Island, Jo Baily & Al Cummings, p 30-31

Friday Harbor Founding Fathers
Edward Warbass, Charles McKay and Stephen Boyce

W. D. Oakes and I, returning from the Frazer River mining excitement, arrived in Victoria, B.C. on our way back to California. There we got acquainted with some hunters and they told us about San Juan Island. They told us what a fine Island it was, full of game. So we went there to see it. There appeared to be a lodestone on the island, for we got stuck there at once. We found the Hudson Bay Company had a station on the island. They had more than 2,000 head of sheep and cattle and horses. There was also an American Customs Inspector by the name of Hubbs. We took up farms and soon there came a number of other American citizens to the island. All took up farms, and among them there was a man by the name of Cutlar who took a farm.

Charles McKay 1908
source: Powder-Keg Island, Jo Baily & Al Cummings

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