Matt Hemmingsen: Chemainus; Fathering, Logging, Prospecting -1912


Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) and his dear wife, Maggie, concluded 1911 by moving down the Strait of Georgia through the Salish Sea, from the Comox Valley to the town of Chemainus. Lovely Gulf Islands would continue to bejewel their view. For now, Chemainus would be home while he logged at Cowichan Lake. This year, they would provide baby Margaret with her sister, Marie.

Matt shared the reason for the move.


1912 saw the commencement of logging at Cowichan Lake on one of the largest tracts of timber owned by the Company [Victoria Lumber & Manufacturing Co.], and situated 30 miles from the Mills.

The following two years the lumber markets were dormant, and the greater part of logging was done by contract. especially clearing up small areas.

The Memoirs of Mathias Hemmingsen – Victoria, B.C. 1956.


Matt reflected on his unrewarded “get rich schemes” and pinned their start to 1908. That made sense; it was after his devastating loss of Caroline Dybedal in Wisconsin, during his subsequent wanderings, which in turn came after his return to Canada to purge the Tsolum River of its logjam, but before the magic of Maggie – between 1906 and 1909. What could go wrong?

More on the schemes when the time comes, but obviously something had soured way up north, by 1913. The aforementioned slump in logging may have afforded him some time to resolve this issue. Yet, with Maggie in the family way, and he, with an increased supervisory role in the woods, probably did not revert to wanderings to do so. Some perspective was needed to ponder the question; did he for once “mail it in”, or did he pursue with vigor.


Matt’s last census had been 1911, when he was still conveniently found in British Columbia’s District 8; Comox-Atlin.1 This district covered a vast area that encompassed both of his pursuits. Very roughly, it described populace north of a line dissecting Vancouver Island under Qualicum, then to the mainland around Sechelt and north to the Yukon border, as deeply east to at least include Powell River, Babine Lake, Dease Lake and Cassiar, while taking all islands with it. In all, there were just 41,411 souls. The paucity of residents hints that the day of horse and hope of a trail was still upon them. He might not have “mailed it in” but likely mailed that complaint to The Prince Rupert Journal.

The southern limits of the Skeena Mining Division, Cassiar District were not determined, so exactly where the White River intersected with his mines, is mystery. Not to be confused with that of the Kootenays, this White River ( 24707522) begins in the Cambria Icefield and is tributary to the Nass River.

It is time to leave the family for a bit to let them get on with their full plate.

Please leave questions or comments in the Reply Box after Notes, Sources and Copyright.

Left: Hemmingsen Logging at Cowichan Lake B.C., ca. 1912. Matt emigrated from Norway in 1887, was logging in the Wisconsin woods at twelve and migrated to Vancouver Island in 1906. Our woods pioneer retired in 1946 after significant innovation. CLICK for our broader genealogy and Memoirs of Matt Hemmingsen (1867-1976).

Notes, Sources and Copyright

1 Library and Archives of Canada. Census 1911

Copyright © Marilee Wein and DoubleGenealogyTheAdoptionWitness 2018-2023, author and owner. All rights reserved.

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