North Coast/Cape Scott History

The area was first visited by Europeans in 1786 by Capts. Strange and Lowrie. They named the cape after the financial backer of the exploration, David Scott. Prior to that time, First Nations used the area principally for food gathering.
north coast trail

In the 1890s the British Columbia government was anxious to encourage settlement in the more remote areas of Vancouver Island. Encouraged by their visit to the Cape Scott area, settlers of Danish extraction from established settlements in Nebraska and Iowa, with promise of land leases and support from the government, located 90 settlers by 1899. Sadly the government did not live up to its promise to construct roads or to grant land leases. The colony continued to survive but, with the discontinuation of vessel services which suppled needs and the opening up of free land to the south in the San Josef/Holdberg areas in 1907, many left the colony.

cape scottIn the 1920s new settlers, mostly of British extraction, began to move into the Cape Scott area with a new promise of free land. The old problems however of isolation, harsh climate, and economic uncertainty doomed the promise of Cape Scott and by the 1930s many homesteads were abandoned. In 1958, Alfred Spenser, became the last to leave.

During World War II a small radar station was established in 1942, and remained in operation until 1945.

FURTHER CAPE SCOTT-NORTH COAST TRAIL FACTS

*The first baby born was Bende Dorthea Rasmussen, on July 8, 1898.

*The first teacher was Carl B. Christensen. To meet the minimum governmental standards to have a teacher and school, he adopted three boys. One of his adopted sons, William (born 1891), decided to make his father a present for his birthday in 1903. Keeping it a surprise he did the work in the shed outside. During the time he stepped on a rusty nail which was ignored by the boy. The wound became infected and on October 17th, the week after his father’s birthday, he died of lockjaw. Carl buried the lad in his yard and erected a very large gravestone, which still stands over the grave.

* Port Hardy, the largest community in the North Island region, was named for Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy who, as captain of the H.M.S. Victory, held the dying Lord Nelson in his arms at the end of the Battle of Trafalgar.

* Some believe the notorious Civil War guerrilla leader William Quantrill was murdered in the Cape Scott area. The story is a fascinating one.