From the Daily Colonist September 25, 1913.
Exploits on Island Mountain Means Big Boom in District Mining.
Sir James Sivewright Suspended Over Precipice - Lady Marjorie Feilding First Woman to Conquer Peak.
Yet another small chapter in the history of Vancouver Island was closed yesterday with the return of the Earl of Denbigh and party from the Ptarmigan Mine property on Bear Mountain [Big Interior Mountain], which is located up Bear Creek [Bedwell River] from Clayoquot Sound. Every member of the party returned fit and well, but the memory of the trip will live long with most of them, for, to say the least, it proved the toughest proposition, probably of their lives.
Sir James Sivewright, a colleague of Cecil Rhodes, in the upbuilding of South Africa, nearly meet his death, and is now enjoying the rare privilege of life after being suspended in mid air over a precipice of over two hundred feet. Lady Majorie Feilding, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of the Earl, placed a new peak on the physical feature map of the Island by christening one of the minor spires of the Great Interior dome by the name of "Marjorie's Load," and would have given still more trouble to the King's Printer along this line but for the fact that the champagne, with which the ceremonies were to be performed, could not be pledged from the vessel on account of the blizzard they encountered. However, Lady Marjorie enjoys the glory of being the first woman to climb the Great Interior Mountain, and it is not likely that her feat will be duplicated in a hurry, as all the members of the party declare that while the view from the top was incomparable the travail of getting there is terrible.
Major Frank Johnson, another South African who is interested in the Ptarmigan proposition, states that he never enjoyed himself so much, never worked so hard, and never felt better. Speaking to The Colonist last night on the subject of the trip to the mountain, he said that the feature of it was the great performance in climbing of Sir James Sivewright. "Just think of it," he said, "he is seventy-seven if he is a day, and yet was first at the top, some six thousand odd feet in the air. And he was very nearly lost to us, too. Climbing the mountain at this season of the year is a tremendous task, and how he and Lady Marjorie managed it I do not know, but there they both were at the finish, fresh and smiling, and ready to do anything to help the others. In making one nasty turn on the rope Sir James was swung from his footing over a sheer precipice, and was dangling there for what seemed an interminable time. I was below him, and I saw him swing against the rock with a bang, and I thought it was all over with him. When he gained the landing below some thirty minutes later I was amazed to see the old gentleman away ahead again as blithely as ever."
Sir James, while making little of the accident, admitted that his ribs and legs suffered from the impact against the rocks. He was all praise, however, for Lady Marjorie, and speedily forgot his own ills in admiration of her exploits.
The Earl of Denbigh, in common with the others, expressed his entire satisfaction with the mining property and they all expect to demonstrate the validity of their faith during next year. The aerial gear is now on the ground, and the work of erecting it will be undertaken this winter. In the event of the weather being not too hard it is expected to have it completed by the spring, when the other plant for the mine operations will be installed. In connection with the aerial gear it is interesting to note that an arrangement is being made whereby the brake power of the aerial apparatus will be used to generate motive power for the air compressors to be used in the mine.
The Earl, Lady Marjorie and Major Johnson leave today for the easy and home. They expect, however, to return to British Columbia in the spring of next year to visit the mine when production commences.
J.G.C. Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, who accompanied the Earl of Denbigh and his party to Bear Mountain to inspect the Ptarmigan Mine Property is of the opinion that the interest of the earl and his friends in the West Coast of Vancouver Island, as exemplified in the mining proposition, is a good thing for the Island, and for the whole Province.
Mr. Wood stated that he was personally satisfied that the mine property would work out excellently. "And if it does," he proceeded, "it will be a great thing for the West Coast. At this present time, when things are somewhat dull, the operation of a mineral mine on Vancouver Island will enliven interest in this part of the country, and at the same time contribute largely to the prosperity of the people. The Ptarmigan Mine has been purchased by the Earl of Denbigh and his friends without public subscription of any kind, and its success-which I am taking for granted-is bound to result in similar propositions in the future.
"Once the mine is operating, which will be some time next year, the smelter at Ladysmith will resume operations, and it is quite possible that another smelter will have to be constructed to cope with the product of the mine. The earl and his friends are interested in the Tyee smelter at Ladysmith, and are of course depending upon it in connection with their proposition. The material taken from the mine will be shipped direct to Ladysmith, and the product handled there for shipment outside."
Speaking more generally of the visitors to the West Coast, Mr. Wood expressed the opinion that nothing better could have been conceived to advertise the resources of the Island. "Not unnaturally, it has resulted in one or two pleasant side issues. For instance, the name Bear River is going to be changed to that of Denbigh, in honor of the earl and his mining scheme, and one or two of the minor mountain peaks have been christened in commemoration of the trip."