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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

25 June 2014

❖ History and Romance of the San Juan Islands ❖ 1930

Shaw Island Ferry Landing, 1936.
  Photo courtesy of "Bert" Birtwistle, Victoria, BC.
Bottom photo, Shaw Islanders c. 1920.
On the opposite side of the island, the Fowler, Crawford,  

 Bruns, Lee, Mathisen, Shaw, Start, Stitt, families,
enjoying a Point Pleasant picnic before they helped
establish the Shaw Island Park 
in 1927, 

located not far west, along the beach.

"Come, let us make a visit to Shaw Island, the fourth in size of the San Juan group. It is easy to do, since they built the new ferry slip and the ferries are making regular calls every day.
      One of the interesting things about these islands is their individuality. Getting acquainted with another one is like making a voyage of discovery into a new country. You never have any idea what you are going to find; or if you do have an idea, it is sure to be rearranged.
      However, the neighboring islands know considerable about each other. Perhaps I should say, the people on the neighboring islands know. Invariably, when I have said that I am going to some other place, the hearers will say, "Well, you'll find it thus and so." And I have learned by this, that lands, as well as people, have personality.
      Occasionally we find that there is a difference of opinion, too, which proves that lands have a dual personality. 
      For instance, when I decided to make the acquaintance of Lopez Island, friends said: "Lopez Island people are like one big family. They call each other by their first names, or nicknames, and they are very good to each other." This was the consensus of opinion. Dissentlng vote was like it, only different. It said, "Lopez people are clannish, you will find it hard to get in with them. They are too religious, too."
      Now it can be seen that both sayings amount to the same thing, but one was the opinion of a grouch, so Lopez has a clear cut personality.
      Orcas has variations as can be expected in one so rugged and rambling.
      But we are talking about Shaw now. People said; "you will find that Shaw Island people always pull together, and what they pull for, they get."
      I proceeded to find out what they were pulling for. One of these things is a brand new ferry slip, that, of course, is the first thing to be seen as we leave the ferry. There was some surprise when we learned that Shaw was getting a ferry. From outside the island looks almost uninhabited. Who travels and what can they have for shipping? Well, during the past year and without ferry service, they have shipped hundreds of cases of eggs. They ship cream and apples, as well as logs and piling. Besides, their people import a lot of things.
      I want to tell about some more of the things the people "pulled" for. Probably the most important in years past was their telephone. No telephone company could afford to build a line for the business they would get, so the residents went into their own pockets, as always. They also found the poles and put them up, and for ten years one of their neighbors has kept the central office in her dining room without charge. She jumps up from her meals and out of her bed to make the connections. This is really community spirit, and her neighbors show their appreciation by not disturbing her late at night except for emergency calls. This is one of the things they do to help each other.
San Juan County Pioneer Picnic, June 1929.
At the Shaw Island County Park, Indian Cove, WA.
Courtesy of Ellen Bruns Madan.

      But here is one they have done for others. Ever since the military reserves of the state were created, several hundred acres of Shaw Island belonged to the government. Forty years ago [1890], the residents began agitating for a park. In 1925, when the federal government had the land on the auction block, they went into their pockets again, this time to buy land for the county. Sixty acres of ideal park site on Indian Cove were purchased and deeded to the county. Their hands went into their pockets twice before the required amount was forthcoming, and, not satisfied with this, the residents went together several times and cleared a picnic ground; they put up tables, benches, a rustic grandstand, and a kitchen with a stove. The men got out their trusty saws and axes, and the women followed later with a big feed––thereby making a holiday out of it.
      This is the spirit that permeates all these islands and makes them so ideal for visits and vacations."
Above words by Sophie Walsh
History and Romance of the San Juan Islands, 1930.
Publisher unknown.

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