Sutherland was born in 1888 in Philipston, a coal-mining town in southern
Scotland. When Sutherland was twenty he made his first trip to Vancouver
Island with other Scottish miners who were coming over to Canada to work
as there were plenty of job opportunities. When he arrived in Cumberland
some of his friends were already here so it wasn't long before he got
a job in the coal mines. While there he made the acquaintance of two young
radicals, Joe Taylor and Ginger Goodwin, who lived in Whyte's Bay on nearby
Comox Lake. He spent many hours fishing with them and talking about the
terrible conditions in the mines and how to improve them.
In 1914 Sutherland
joined the services to go overseas to the Great War. He volunteered with
the Royal Scots Expeditionary Force and was finally called up in 1915.
He saw action at Paschendale and Vimy Ridge, spending nine months on the
front line without a break. Although the fighting was intense he never
sustained an injury that would take him out of the lines to a hospital,
except for one bullet wound to the leg. At the end of the war in 1918,
Sutherland returned to Philipston where he met a schoolteacher Mary Coubrough.
They were married in late 1920 and in early 1921 they made the long boat
journey from Scotland to Canada and back to Cumberland. Sutherland was
psychologically scarred because of the deprivation and the horrors of
the war and suffered from what was called "burned-out condition."
After visiting a specialist in Vancouver he became the first veteran in
Canada to receive a pension for this condition. This went on to affect
not only his ability to work but his family life. In the mean time, Sutherland
tried to work for the coal company again but found he had been blacklisted
because of his earlier connections with Taylor and Goodwin who were well-known
Sutherland decided to move the family (he now had two daughters) to Whyte's
Bay on Comox Lake where he started to build a house. He had various jobs
but none lasted very long including watchman at the Comox Logging log
dump, a watchman to keep the pumps going at the Number 4 mine after it
shut down and to watch over the Canadian Collieries property. Another
time he worked as a bridge builder near Campbell River. He also worked
as a packer for the surveyor Norman
Stewart who was surveying in and around Strathcona Park in
the mid 1930's. Sutherland worked with other local men from Courtenay/Cumberland
including Jack Horbury, Bill Bell, Jack Hames and George Colwell. In August
1934, Sutherland and Jack Horbury worked around the Aureole Snowfield
and left a note on the summit of Mount Celeste (Rees Ridge) recording
their visit. He was already familiar with the mountains to the west of
Comox Lake as in the summer of 1932 he had taken his wife Mary, daughters
Mavis and Marguerite, their dog Buster, and his old friend Harry Rees,
on a trip to the Comox
Glacier. Mavis later wrote about the trip:
planning was undertaken. Pack boards had to be made; two side boards
bound with canvas and straps which had to fit just right. A big one
for dad, a middle size one for mum and small ones for Marguerite and
me. I was 11 years old at the time. Marguerite was given the job of
carrying the pots and pans so she was nicknamed "wee pots and
pans". Mr. Rees said the clatter of pots and pans would scare
the bears away. A big item was food. It had to be reduced to what
was most filling; dried vegetables, dried milk, rice, flour for bannock,
hard tack, beans, prunes, raisins, oatmeal for porridge and sugar.
They carried guns and fishing gear. Fish would be caught on the way
and later grouse and deer would be hunted. Mother became more expert
at cooking over a campfire. At each night's camp spot, a fire was
made; a bed for the ashes and stones round the edge to hold the cooking
pots. Soon fish would be sizzling in the pan, a billy can boiling
for tea and a bubbling pot of rice made with dried milk and raisins.
It made the best dessert ever.
took the boat up to Quartz creek the first night, and then headed
out to Lobley's cabin the next morning where we left the boats. We
had to find the trailhead through the slashing. It was an awful mess
because of the logging. Old Harry started up the trail ahead blazing
the way with his axe; we followed very slowly. We didn't get very
far the first day. There was no trail to follow, only some blaze marks.
We were heading for the north arm of the Cruikshank River. It was
hard getting through the thickets and the Devil's Club was a nuisance.
We camped at the north fork by dark. At camp each night, a fire was
made, and branches cut and laid just so, feathered, to make a comfortable
bed. It was August and the weather was good. After a good meal, Old
Harry would play some old Welsh tunes on his flute. We girls dropped
off to sleep listening to the song of the river. We were snug under
our blankets. There was much discussion about how to climb out of
the valley. It would be steep with rocky slides making it difficult
to get a hold. But there were plenty of small trees to pull ourselves
up by. It was the hardest part of the trip but we did it. On top,
we found a nice valley with a little lake which we called "Emerald
Lake" because of its color. The Glacier was only about 200 yards
in front of us. It was impressive.
was to be our camping spot for the better part of a week Marguerite
and I were to collect wood for the fire. Old Harry used his axe to
make a table and log seats. A deer was shot and we had venison steaks
with liver and onion for breakfast. We dug into the snow and made
a meat store. We spent one day climbing on the Glacier and had to
watch out for crevasses. We saw the 'red snow', caused by algae growth
in the summer. Also we saw a white ptarmigan, a kind of grouse. One
day, we heard the sirens down in Cumberland. Later, we found out that
half of Cumberland had burned down.
was a nice camp by the lake. Heather bloomed all around; the trees
were stunted because of the altitude. There were lots of flowers;
kinnickkinick, moss campion, phlox, mountain daisy, gentian, Indian
paintbrush, monkey flower, arnica, yarrow. Tame whiskey jacks visited
our camp and an eagle was seen flying over. It was truly a holiday
one of the earliest recorded (if not the first) ascent by a woman and
young girls to the glacier and gives a wonderful view of camp life and
the associated rigors during that period. Hikers today would find it hard
to cope with the hardship they accepted as "normal" daily life
and Harry Rees built a cabin on Quartz Creek on the north side of Comox
Lake in the 1920's where family and friends would go for camping trips.
Eventually this cabin was taken apart and moved to Hornby Island because
of logging and the flooding of the lake. The family also made camping
trips to the Little Lakes, nowadays know as Willemar and Forbush Lakes.
Several trips were also made up the Puntledge River towards The
Red Pillar. Sutherland was a keen hunter and always took his
rifle with him as it was an important part of supplementing his family's
Sutherland was a natural athlete and enjoyed playing soccer in Cumberland.
There was also a story that during the war he ran against a world champion
runner and beat him. Sutherland could be considered a renaissance man
as he enjoyed playing the accordion and violin especially old Scottish
melodies. He was also fond of poems in the Romantic sense, particularly
those of Robbie Burns and Robert Service. He had high moral standards
and was firmly against the racist class system. He was friendly with the
local First Nations, the Chinese and the Japanese population, and believed
in equality for all. In the 1960's Jock and Mary moved from Whyte's Bay
back into Cumberland because of ill health. Jock Sutherland passed away
.1974 at the age of eighty-six.
Sproule, Gwyn. Whyte's Bay Days: The Memoirs of Mavis Wall. Courtenay,