God is everywhere, but the Portuguese were there first

«British Columbia is known for the colourful pioneers who helped build and shape the character of this weird but wonderful province. And few were as colourful as Portuguese Joe Silvey – a saloon keeper, whaler and pioneer of seine fishing in British Columbia. Born on Pico Island, of Portugal’s Azores Islands, sometime between 1830 and 1840, Joseph Silvey began whaling when he was just 12 years old. In 1860, when Silvey came to the BC coast on a whaling schooner, he decided to jump ship to try his hand at gold-mining.

From harpooning whales in small open rowboats, to serving up liquor to rambunctious millworkers, to being the first man to have a seine license in BC, Silvey was the Renaissance man of his generation. His friends were many, and included saloon keeper Gassy Jack Deighton for whom Vancouver’s Gastown is named, his prestigious grandfather-in-law Chief Kiapilano (of the Capilano Nation) and a remittance man who liked to wear either his wife’s clothes or none at all.»

Although Joe was unlucky in his search for gold, he did find a beautiful wife in the unspoiled paradise that was Vancouver. In the first non-aboriginal marriage in Vancouver, he wed Khaltinaht, the granddaughter of the legendary chief, Kiapilano. The wedding took place at Musqueam, and the newlyweds set off in a canoe piled high with blankets to Point Roberts for their honeymoon.


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