Alice Robertson, her husband David and children Allen, Meg and Rankin moved to Cortes Island in late 1905. Alice, the daughter of a Welsh missionary, was living in India when she met her husband, a Scottish soldier. They made their home in Vancouver for several years before moving to Cortes where Alice's brothers had settled some time before. Another son, Duncan, was born during their first year on Cortes Island.
For many years, Alice Robertson kept a meticulous record of her busy life. Copies of her journals are held in the Archives of the Museum at Campbell River.
The following extracts were written in the fall of the family's first year on Cortes Island. "D" is Alice's husband David, "A" is her son Allen (age 8). Daughter Meg was 7 years old and son Rankin about four.
Cortes Island, 1906
Oct. 1. The deer have eaten nearly all the apples off lower branches of trees, broken the little cherry tree and eaten half the branches of the little plum (Abundance). D. has been sitting out several nights but cannot get a shot - light too poor. Raining again tonight.
Oct. 3. D. & A. got 3 dog salmon. D fired at a deer in pasture.
Oct. 4 Could not find any trace of a deer or blood. Wet all day again. Butter churned yesterday was 1 lb. 13 oz. (I spilled about 1/3 of the cream). Baked a piece of the salmon (dog) - very tasteless. Went to see the 2 little apple trees we put in and found the deer have stripped half the bark off them.
Oct. 12 A. is able to manage the milking by himself now - a great help!
Oct. 13 D. & A. buried over 100 dog salmon under the trees.
Oct. 24 D. got up about 4 am but boat came only about 9 am so he will not be in town till late.
Oct. 25 Duncan sat up in my lap quite without support today.
Oct. 27 Showery in mng. clear in late aftn. Meg scalded her hand at supper time. Some wind this evening. but now (11:30 pm) clear calm moonlight.
Oct. 28 Rankin injured 2 fingers - smashed them with one of his own blocks.
Oct. 29 Papered w. wall of kitchen. R's hand seems well, but Meg's has some blisters on it still. Duncan begins to pull himself forward and sit upright in buggy or my lap. I have begun to harden him, as advised in the Fam. Herald, by dabbing cold water on chest after bath.
Nov. 5 Kept pigs shut up all day as water is very high and a number of dog salmon in creek. Towser again after hens.
Nov. 8 Had severe neuralgia last night and today. Not much rain in the day, but steady downpour tonight.
Nov. 9 A. begs to make a raft for himself. Strong sou'easter. Towser very uneasy and noisy tonight.
Nov. 11 A. found a large owl in No.3 yard this morning., followed it into the bush and shot it. From remains around we think 3 chickens have been eaten. R. not at all well today. J. came to supper and I felt a bit cheered up.
Nov. 13 A wet depressing day. This is the date last year when I finished all business in town (as I thought) and returned home to find D in such pain that I had to send for Dr. C.
Nov. 17 Duncan is 4 months old today. He clutched a plate and nearly had it off the table.
Nov. 22 A. saw and heard Bossie sucking her own milk this morning.
Nov. 23 A went over to W's and brought back stock book (for device to prevent sucking).
Nov. 25 A most beautiful day. The 3 children were out on the lagoon for a while this afternoon.
Nov. 26 I took 3 pails of potatoes out of the pit, and transplanted into 9 holes the 2 clumps of rhubarb nearest the verandah, also divided the primroses and put wire on No.1 house window and wired the No.4 yard gate. A. says Bossie charged him more than once lately.
Nov. 27 J. made a fixed prickly halter on Bossie.
Nov. 30 Bossie managed to get her halter partly off, so A. took it off. This is the day when we expected to arrive here a year ago, but were left behind by the "Comox". There was a good deal of snow and severe cold then which had gone before we arrived, the following week.