Lawson Harbour, Lewis Island

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Lawson Harbour, Lewis Island

by | Jan 31, 2021

Lawson Harbour is a community on Lewis Island at the mouth of the Skeena River, about 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Terrace and 20 miles (32 km) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Lawson Harbour was one of several small fishing and logging communities started by settlers after World War I including Oona River, Hunts Bay, and Osland. The population of Lawson Harbour peaked at about 40, mostly in large families that acquired the land through pre-emption.

Communities on the North Coast of British Columbia include the prehistorical and historical First Nations villages that existed long before Euro-Canadian settlers arrived, and communities that were started in the early twentieth century largely by Scandinavian settlers who were encouraged by the government to take up land through homesteading. Homesteading, or pre-emption, was a measure instituted by the British Columbia Colonial Government, through the Land Ordinance of 1870, to accommodate the pressure exerted by incoming settlers to obtain title to land for settlement and ownership. British Columbia homesteading was eliminated in 1970 and many of these communities have now vanished into the rainforest. 

Wooden boatbuilding was a natural part of living and working in the small fishing villages of the North Coast. The fishing boat was essential for work, but also it was the main form of transportation to get from a remote coastal community to the big cities of Port Essington in its day, or Prince Rupert. Many people in the coastal communities built their own boats. After fishing during the summer, several small family boatyards kept busy by building and repairing boats. One shop in Lawson Harbour built at least 11 boats, including 3 halibut boats and 8 salmon trollers. These boats were generally built with yellow cedar frames and red cedar planking, all cut by hand with a whipsaw. Some of the planks were cut from logs salvaged on local beaches. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lawson Harbour here:

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