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Michael King

1848 - 1910

From the Victoria Daily Colonist, December 20, 1910.

The Passing Of A Well-Known Figure

Michael King, Pioneer Timber Cruiser and Merchant passed away Sunday at Jubilee Hospital.

One of the most widely acquainted and generally respected of Victoria's pioneers, Michael King, passed away at the Jubilee Hospital on Sunday morning after an illness of several weeks.

A typical westerner, possessing a passion for the wilds, business acumen which enabled him to turn to commercial advantage the knowledge he secured in his travels and a heart as expansive as the territory he roamed "Mike" King was loved by his intimate friends and held in the highest esteem by his acquaintances.

Until the pain which Mr. King suffered in his later days made retirement to the hospital and medical treatment absolutely imperative he led his usual active life. The story of what brought about his fatal illness is strikingly characteristic of the man.

In the spring of this year he took the steamer Tees to Tatchu Point, near Nootka Sound, in order to supplement some coal measures which he owned at the time. Having looked after the work he found that the vessel on which he had taken passage out was unable to call for him on the return because of rough weather and rather than wait, he decided to walk across the island and catch a south bound steamer from the east.

The Fatal Accident
En route Mr. King slipped while walking across a moss-covered log and fell some thirty feet down a rocky cliff. He sustained serious injuries. His ankle was twisted and there was a pain in his side besides bruises. The woodsman brushed aside the incident as a mere trifle. Picking himself up, he limped over miles of the roughest kind of trail to Buttle Lake.

While attempting to construct a rude raft to cross the lake, Mr. King was found by "Lord" Bacon, a trapper who was operating in the vicinity. Mr. Bacon placed the injured man in his canoe and paddled to the lower end of the lake and then down the turbulent Upper Campbell River to a lodge occupied at times by trappers.

"He was in a sorry plight when he reached my cabin," said Bacon. "He was hungry, lame and ill, his clothes were torn his gun was bent and broken, and altogether presented a very melancholy appearance.

"I tried to get him to stay in my cabin a few days until I could get help to take him out. This he refused, saying that he was feeling fine and could easily do the remaining thirty miles to the settlement, so, packing a bit of lunch in his handkerchief and using his heavy, but useless rifle as a cane the poor old fellow hobbled out in the brush alone and made for home.

The man was certainly in no condition to be in the woods at all, and had it been anybody in the country except "Mike" King, whose strength, courage and woodcraft were so well known to me, I would never have trusted him outside the door."

In due course Mr. King got to Victoria. He told his family and friends of the occurrence, but made light of it and until August went about his business here as actively as ever. During the month mentioned he started for the east, visiting Montreal, New York and Chicago. While away he began to suffer and en route home endured much. On his arrival he was sent to hospital and never left alive.

The examination to which he was subjected showed that several ribs had been broken as a result of his accident months before and that these had knitted together in a haphazard fashion. But there were other internal hurts which through the want of attention became fatally serious. The physique which had been rendered impervious to hardships through constant outdoor life was laid low because of neglect of what had seemed but a trifling episode.

His Coming
Mr. King was sixty-two years of age and was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not much is known here of his earlier career except that it was spent in the woods for the most part, he occupying a position in connection with one of the prominent lumber concerns of that centre. Thirty-five years ago the lure of the West attracted and he came to British Columbia making his home in Victoria.

From that date this city was his head-quarters. He was fonder of the provincial capital than of any other community but the greater part of his time was spent abroad. Both his business and his inclinations called him away on trips of exploration. How many times he travelled through the valleys of Vancouver Island, climbed the loftiest of her mountains, and followed her rivers and streams from their outlet to their almost inaccessible sources it would be difficult to say, but of this there can be no contradiction - Mike King ranked among the most thoroughly posted men in the West with regard to the native resources of this section of British Columbia.

One of the earliest associations in this district was Mr. Lewis Casey, with whom he entered into partnership in the timber business soon after his arrival from the east. They secured timber limits in the Salmon and the Campbell Rivers [planned to take out 4,000,000 feet of timber in April 1888], at Comox and on Read Island [1200 acres], and for years took out logs which were sold to the Sayward and Chemainus mills. Later a firm comprising Messrs Walkley, King and Casey, made a tender and secured the contract from Victoria for the installation of otter beds at Elk Lake.

When the discovery of gold in the Klondyke occurred, Mr. King's adventurous spirit would not permit him to keep entirely out of the excitement. Shrewdly calculating that his lumberman's knowledge might be turned to some account in the the north in supplying the needs of the thousands who were flocking through this city on their way to the gold fields, Mr. King went to the centre of things to investigate. The result of the trip was the establishment on Lake Bennett of a sawmill which turned out scows for the use of the people en route down the Yukon and which, incidentally, was probably one of the best paying propositions in that country at that time, with the possible exception of a few of the best placer mines.

His Life in Mexico
Returning to Victoria, as he invariably did after a period of wandering, he went south to Mexico. For five years he remained in that turbulent republic, investing in mines, in lands and other propositions that recommended themselves to him. The result was that he accumulated considerable "legal tender." Before coming north he took what he had made in the country and put it all back in a ranch, six hundred thousand acres in extent, several of his friends joining him in the enterprise. This immense tract of land Mr. King often used to refer to as something particularly choice. The agricultural sections he said had native grass as high and thick enough to completely hide the Mexican mule. There were one hundred thousand acres of splendid timber.

Once more Mr. King took passage for his British Columbia home and he hadn't been here long before he was the centre of activities. He owned property at Campbell River and realizing that the time would soon arrive when the power which might easily be generated by the falls of that stream would be useful, he formed a company for the exploration of that asset. He didn't live to see his scheme perfected. He also owned timber limits and coal measures, to the development of all which he was giving his personal attention, the trip on which he met with his fatal accident being, as stated, in connection with one of these enterprises.

Besides being an indefatigable worker, a shrewd though generous business man, and one of the most expert timber cruisers in the northwest, Mr. King was a prince of entertainers. He was fond of stories of personal experiences, many of which were demonstrations of the truth of the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Naturally, in his wanderings in British Columbia, he had come in personal touch with the Indians, was able to discourse fluently in their Patois, and his intimate knowledge of their character enabled him to pilot himself safely through many a tight corner. His favorite exclamation: "By the Lovely Dove" is passport to the good fellowship of foresters from Mexico to Alaska.

Mr. King leaves to mourn his loses a widow and two children, a daughter and son.

The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon from the residence, Caledonia Avenue.

On January 10, 1988, Mike King married Mary Cowie of Fanny Bay (originally from Ontario). Nellie Cowie was bridesmaid and Lewis Casey bestman.

1898 - Manager of the Victoria and Yukon Trading Co. in Bennett Lake.

Taylor, Jeanette. The River City: The History of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands. Madeira Park, B.C. Harbour Publishing. 1999.

Mitchell, Helen. Diamonds in the Rough. Campbel River

"Drowning at Comox. King and Casey employee." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (February 8, 1885) p.3.

"King and Casey open new logging in Duncan Bay." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (April 17, 1887) p.1.

Marriage notice of Mike King. Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (January 11, 1888) p.4.

Notice of contract for Jack Hart Point wharf piles. Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (March 4, 1888) p.4.

"Mike King and Bride arrive back from Seattle." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (January 15, 1888) p.1.

"Lot of logs." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 26, 1890) p.8.

"A Busy Season Looked For." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (March 12, 1892) p.5.

"The Survivor's story." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 25, 1892) p.3.

"Down From Comox." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (September 18, 1892) p.2.

"The Northern Mail." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (October 13, 1898) p.4.

"The View of a Veteran: Mike King Describes the Atlin Country as a Poor Miner's Paradise." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (November 8, 1898) p.5.

"Attempted Hold-up: Mike King Stopped on the Trail Between Bennett Lake and Skagway." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (April 15, 1899) p.6.

"Train to Skagway to Attend Meeting." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (July 25, 1899) p.2.

"Popular Manager: 'Mike' King of the Victoria-Yukon Company Tendered a Ball and Banquet." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (May 9, 1900) p.3.

"Prospecting on the Skeena River." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (November 23, 1903) p.8.

Letter from Mike King to Premier McBride. Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 4, 1904) p.8.

"Sawmill of Upper Yukon Consolidation Co. destroyed. Built by King." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (October 24, 1905) p..

Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (January 16, 1906) p.12.

"Wild Man Safe." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (January 18, 1906) p.6.

"Mike King off to Mexico." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (January 26, 1906) p..

"Mike King's Wild Man." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (September 6, 1906) p.1.

"The Negative Side." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (September 11, 1906) p.4.

Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (May 3, 1908) p.11.

"Tees Returns from West Coast." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (May 29, 1910) p.24.

"Tees Returns from West Coast." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 7, 1910) p.15.

"Queen City Back." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 14, 1910) p.14.

"Walking Across Island." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (June 19, 1910) p.20.

"The Passing Of A Well-Known Figure." Victoria Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (December 20, 1910) p.11.

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