Galbraith Bay, south of Grafton Bay, has been home to a little community called Mount Gardner Park. Early settlers in this area included the Cockney brothers Isaac and William Dolby who preempted land in 1889. History says that they were preceded by a Colonel Whyte who had bought from a Mr. Ring. However, an early influence here was Edward Galbraith.
Galbraith, originally from Ontario, moved his grocery business to Vancouver. When his doctor advised an outdoor life, he was recommended to Bowen Island by Dewitt Becker who lived at Rosebank.
So, in 1899, he pre-empted 55 acres and went to work. He built a house for his family and one for his mother-in-law, Kate Moore. He planted fruit trees and berry bushes. He hired Japanese workers to cut shingle bolts. He cleared land and planted fodder for a horse and several cows. A large flock of chickens made it possible to sell 30 dozen eggs at a time to Woodwards. The profit from this gave Galbraith the credit to buy supplies.
After ten years, he sold his property to the Bowen Island Copper Company and moved away. Two copper mines, established in 1907, operated for a few years until the price for copper dropped severely. However, two of the partners in one mine, James Gibson and his brother-in-law Alf Wells, stayed in the area and created a modest summer community.
The Mount Gardner Park had a store, a lodge called Dew Drop Inn, a tearoom and cottages including Reverie, Ivy Green, Brentwood, Ocean View and Braeside. The only way to reach the area was to get a taxi from Snug Cove via Percy Dorman’s old touring car.
Mount Gardner life, from 1925 to 1945 is lovingly described in the book, ‘The Dusty Road from Perth’, by James Morton. The four or five families who were summer regulars quite happily went without electricity or radio. Eventually Alf became the owner-in-residence, living there year round and always interested in news or gossip about the Davies, Dormans or Woods.
Scholarly Dr Mack Eastman and his wife Antonia visited Mount Gardner Park in 1916 and when Dr. Eastman came back from WWI, the family bought a piece of land from Gibson and Wells. This site has become a much loved family refuge for several generations of the Eastman-McNeill family.
Just north of Galbraith Bay, Dr. R.E. McKechnie owned 150 acres complete with a small cabin. Around 1940, he sold the property to a medical foursome– the Wilsons and the Grahams. Eventually, the Grahams sold to the Wilsons who enjoyed Bowen life. When health problems interfered, the Wilsons gave the parcel to the UBC for faculty use.
When UBC decided to sell the property, a covenant on the property provided that in the event of a sale, first option went to Buchan McIntosh who had loved the property as a kid. The McIntosh family did acquire the site and it’s been an island treasure ever since.
The Mount Gardner history has had many other family contributors. Among them would be the Hornes, Greens, Graftons, Smiths, Linklaters, Collins, Woods, Billingtons and many more. Their stories would fill another Bowen Island book. (and the Community Archive is always pleased to receive new stories.)