Thursday 17 January 2013

Comox Valley South - Royston & Union Bay

Post #6 - Royston & Union Bay - Comox Valley South

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A Pictorial View of the Comox Valley 

The Comox Valley - South
Royston and Union Bay 

A rural, seaside village directly across the bay from Comox in the Comox Valley. In the early 1900s, Royston was the major port for the Comox Valley logging industry. Logs were shipped here by rail, boomed in the harbour, then towed across to Fraser Mills on the B.C. mainland to be made into lumber.

Royston is located south of Comox, in the Comox Valley.

  William Roy and his family settled here in 1890, collaborating with a real estate promoter named Frederick Warren to lay out a townsite that they named Royston.
The settlement could have been named as "Roy's Town" but could also have been named after Warren's home town of Royston in Cambridgeshire - or both.

Royston Wrecks
  Just south of Courtenay in Royston, across the bay from Comox Harbour lies the rusting remains of 15 historic ships. To protect floating log booms for the Comox Logging and Railway Company, a breakwater was built from the sunken hulks of old Canadian warships and freighters - the hulks can still be seen in the harbour. Even though most of the ships have broken up and some have disappeared into the mud, they still represent a fascinating cross-section of West Coast maritime history.
Information from the Information Boards at Royston regarding the Wrecks (copied in Part)
The Ships
Most of the ships were beached here in the 1940s and 1950s. Time, weather and saltwater has taken their toll, and many lie buried in the mud. 
Three wartime frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), HMCS Prince Rupert, HMCS Dunver, and HMCS Eastview comprise part of the breakwater. 

The "Witch of the Waves" (copied in full)
The Melanope, probably one of the most famous of the ships here, was reputedly burdened with disasters after a disgruntled apple seller laid a curse on the ship after its 1876 launching in Liverpool.  Her last master, Captain N. K.Wills, dismissed the curse and prided Melanope for tis speen and clean lines.  the ship may hold the record for the fastest passage under sail, from Putget Sound, Washington to Cape Town, South Africa.  The iron clipper met final disaster in a 1906 storm.  After salvage Melanope became a CPR barge and was a familiar sight in Burrard Inlet, Carrying coal and bunkering the CPR's Empress liners.

The Laurel Whalen (copied in full) 
Very little remains of the Laurel Whalen today.  The 73-metre wooden sailing vessel was originally one of six five-masted auxiliary schooners built in 1917 by Cameron-Genoa Mills Shipbuilders Ltd., in Victoria to carry lumber overseas.  Following World War 1, the commercial sailing fleetwas unable to compete with steamships and lay idle in backwaters all along the west coast.  Francis Millerd, owner of a salmon canning business, bought the retired Laurel Whalen in the early 1920/s and converted the schooner into a floating fish cannery.  When its working life came to an end, the Laurel Whalen was towed to Royston and Grounded here on the Courtenay River flats.

The above are not the only ships comprising the breakwater, 
USS Tottnall, The Blue and the Black. The Salvage King, the ATR Rescue tug, CPR Steam Tugs, Nanoose, and the Qualicum 

A list of the ships comprising the break water are listed on this sign
Frigate - HMCS Prince Rupert
Barkertine -  Forest Friend
Steel Sailing ship - Riverside
Destroyer - HMCS Gatineau

Steam Salvage tug - Salvage King
Barque - Drotava (Formerly Comet)
Frigate - HMCS Denver
Iron Sailing Ship - Medanope
Steam tug - Oualicum
Steel Whaler - Blue
Frigate - HMCS Eastview
Wooden Schooner - Laurel Whalen
Steam tug - Nanoose

 Sign at Royston Wrecks
 View of some of the Royston Wrecks  

 Royston Wreck
 Royston Wreck

 Royston Wreck 
 Garage of waterfront home near the Royston Wrecks decorated with what is probably washed up floats

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort
4330 South Island highway
250 338-1323
Between Royston and Union Bay

View of the Kingfisher Resort from Baynes Sound

Fallen Alders Community Hall Sign
  Fallen Alders Hall  
 3595 Royston Rd, Cumberland
Phone: 250.336.8482
The Fallen Alders Community Hall was built in 1951 for the community. Located on 7 acres on Royston Rd. The Fallen Alders hall has tables and chairs to sit 100 people. Plates, cutlery are available. Handicap accessible washrooms and entrance.
 A beautiful hall with hardwood floors, vaulted ceiling, baseball field, tenis court and tons of parking. The Fallen Alders Hall is a great place to hold a wedding, party, a baseball tournament or a family reunion. 

 Scene from logging station near Royston
 Royston Community Hall 
3902 Island Highway South
Royston, BC

Eaglesview Bed & Breakfast

Eaglesview, Royston House Bed & Breakfast
Hosts, Ross & Nancy Munro
Warren Ave. Royston, Vancouver Island, BC


Union Bay
The small seaside community of Union Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island was formerly a major shipping port (1888 to 1960) for the Union Coal Company mines at nearby Cumberland (previously called Union). Huge docks were constructed at Union Bay to accommodate both the rumbling coal trains and the seagoing freighters.
Today, only a raised rail bed and a few old pilings remain to remind us of those once busy wharves, and Union Bay's economy is now dependent upon by oysters, and mighty tasty ones too!

Population: 1,200

Location: Union Bay is located in the Comox Valley on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 9 miles (15 km) south of Courtenay and 56 miles (90 km) north of Nanaimo.
The following two stories are on the sign next to the propeller at Union Bay. For more information on local history visit the Union Bay Museum in Union Bay.
History of the Union Bay Propeller
Throughout both world wars the port was alive with the industry of providing coal to allied Navy and merchant ships.  At some point during the second world war a propeller was dropped overboard and lost, but not forgotten, on the bottom of the bay.  Old-timers remembered the prop and occasional local divers encountered it through the years.  It was rediscovered in 1997 when Vel Wilson and Steve Gray were doing a survey of the bay. The 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment (Dive Section) CFB Petawawa, with input from Pacific Divers Scuba Club and Wayne Shield, attempted to raise the prop during a training exercise.  The regiment used salvage equipment to raise the propeller up from the coal-sludge bottom and then brought the artifact ashore.  The prop was donated to the Union Bay Historical Society and, thanks to the efforts of Bill Hamilton, it was cleaned,sanded, painted and mounted.  Dedicated on October 24, 1000, the propeller serves as a reminder of Union Bay's colourful past. 

Union Wharf

 Union Wharf
Union Wharf founded in 1888 by the Union Coal Company, was on of the busiest ports on the Pacific Coast.  In its heyday the community, renamed Union Bay, bustled with activity.  Coastal ferries, tugs with barges, sailing ships, steamships, and freighters from all corners of the world called for cargo and bunker coal.  Huge locomotives delivered long trains of coal cars from the mines near Cumberland to the shipping wharf.  A 600tn capacity washer screened and separated the coal.
Large bunkers at the north end of town stored the coal.  In addition, two hundred beehive ovens burned continuously to produce coke for copper smelters along the coast.  Smaller steam engines shunted coal cars between the washer, the bunkers, and the dock twenty four hours a day.  The largest ships of the day could be loaded from the 60ft tall, 560 ft long wharf.  When coal prices dropped and production slowed the port was shut down. In 1961 the wharf was dismantled and pilings were reused in other projects.

Views of Union Bay

 Sign on Union Bay Museum 
 Union Bay Museum & Garden 
The Provincial Gaolhouse was constructed in 1901 and served Union Bay until the 1950s. Today it is the Union Bay museum   .,_British_Columbia
Y2000 - The Harry Westaway Memorial Garden is dedicated by Union Bay Historical Society to the memory of Constable Westaway who was shot and killed in 1913 by the Flying Dutchman during a robbery at Fraser & Bishop's store.
 Plaque on post office building
 Union Bay Post Office and Library  
Union Bay Heritage Post Office Plaque
Built in 1913 it provided postal service to the citizens of the former Coal Shipping Port.  It also contained the Telegraph & Telephone offices and Custom House.  It was and still is a meeting place where information and gossip are exchanged In 1995 the building was bought and restored by the Union Bay Historical Society with financial support from many donors and British Columbia Heritage Trust.
The old wooden Post Office was constructed in 1913 and was a twin of another Post Office built in Comox (which was torn down). The Union Bay Post Office is one of only two wooden post offices left in Canada,_British_Columbia

 Former Union Bay Elementry School 
The schoolhouse was built in 1915, but has seen many renovations to retrofit it for the seismically-active west coast.,_British_Columbia

 Union Bay Community  Church  

The Union Bay United Church was constructed in 1905 or 1906 and is still the site of Sunday services.,_British_Columbia

 Close up of  plaque on monument

Union Bay War Memorial
Private Joh Mills Glover 1898-1917 Canadian Army
Able Seaman George Shillito 1923-1942 Royal Canadian Navy
flying Officer John Robert Plllock 1924-1944 Royal Canadian Air Force
In Memory of Those who paid the Supreme Sacrifice

 Union Bay Community Hall
The member owned and operated Union Bay Community Club and Recreation Association has provided Union Bay a social hub for over sixty years. The community hall and its grounds are used for public and personal gatherings, community events, community activities, and group meetings.

 View looking out over Baynes Sound from Union Bay


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1 comment:

  1. contact information - my new e-mail is