Gary Pearson kneels by artifacts with Port Renfrew significance at the Sooke Region Museum on March 9.

Gary Pearson kneels by artifacts with Port Renfrew significance at the Sooke Region Museum on March 9.

Decrepit cabin y ields piece of Port Renfrew history

Donated artifacts will be housed at the Sooke Region Museum

Port Renfrew historian believes he has made a connection between two of the region’s first settlers, never discovered before.

In 2001, Gary Pearson, 60, a retired naval officer, historian and artifact excavator, was working on an unrelated project on Edinburgh Mountain, north of Port Renfrew, when a decrepit cabin took the notice of his co-workers.

After investigating, Pearson learned the cabin, the items inside, and the mineshaft belonged to Lt. Col. Richard Temple Godman, a Port Renfrew pioneer and British army officer. The relics found included an old stove, crockery bottles and hand steels, dating back to 1898.

Pearson, who has collected artifacts for museums across Canada, considers the items to be some of the few remaining artifacts belonging to the prominent Godman family in Port Renfrew, other than an old, memorial monument in a school yard.

According to Pearson, Godman and his sons constructed some of the first buildings in Port Renfrew. The Godman canneries, hotel, general store and post office have since been burnt down and destroyed.

Upon further research, Pearson discovered Godman was one of the first recipients of the Victoria Cross for his valour during the Crimean war in 1854.

Another recipient of the cross was Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant, a British army officer and one of the first settlers on Vancouver Island in 1849. The area would later be declared Sooke.

“In 120 years, nobody has ever said this,” Pearson said, adding he has never read any research that connected the two men during the Crimean War.

“All of the people who have written history… and everything they’ve written there’s no mention of this stuff.”

Pearson was given permission from the chief gold commissioner to rescue the artifacts. He donated them to the Sooke Region Museum on March 9.

“We hope that we’ll be able to help present the story of Port Renfrew to the community,” said Lee Boyko, Sooke Region Museum executive director. “We certainly have some material from that part of our district — anything from that early on is very important to tell us more about the history of the area.”

Museum historian, Elida Peers, agreed.

“It’s fascinating, this is early stages, and I’m looking forward to learning more,” she said. “We have always been really interested about learning more about Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant.”

Pearson and his wife, Karen, published a book in 1988 called What Gives You the Authority? The artifacts will be featured in Pearson’s second book on the recovery of artifacts and their significance to Vancouver Island history.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

The report could not confirm allegations of coordinated alcohol-blood level guessing game

BC Hydro is reporting several outages in Sooke Monday morning. (BC Hydro/Facebook)
Victoria police issued tickets to two Victoria party hosts Saturday night, according to VicPD Chief Del Manak. (Unsplash)
Victoria partiers hid in closets, bedrooms in an attempt to avoid fines

Police gave out COVID-19 tickets to two separate parties

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Monday morning. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong wind whips Greater Victoria

Winds predicted to subside by Monday afternoon

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism widespread

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
Fifth COVID-19 exposure reported on flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

Most Read