Cedarvale, British Columbia, Canada

Cedarvale - Meanskinisht

alt- Minskinish, Meanskineesht, “Holy City”, and July 30, 1907- “Little Heaven”
The “Holy City” and “Little Heaven” would have been nicknames given by those not from the area, but appear in old articles, so added here for reference purposes.

Correct spelling is above, Meanskinisht, which means “Beneath the Pines”

Original Name Gitlusec

Named Cedarvale by the CNR

Unincorporated Area
Cassiar Land District

located at:
Latitude- 55º 1' 10“ N
Longitude- 128º 19' 45” W

140 mi from Prince Rupert
36 miles from Hazelton

This is an old Postcard of Meanskineesht, sent to me by Rebecca Cardinal, Dec 2015, from her Great Grandmother's collection.
Taken before the Railroad came thru, since there is cord wood piled up on the bank for the sternwheelers that serviced this community.
Burton and Sutton houses in the background.
It is assumed to be taken from a riverboat in early 1900's.

The Holy City Caption they have listed for this photo
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Resources / Library and Archives Canada / PA-021443

Lies at the foot of the 7 Sisters Mountain Range in the Coast Range

The Reverend R. Tomlinson founded the Village in 1888
Originally on the west side of the Skeena River, a station on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Now the village is on the Highway 16 East side of the river.
(see Link below)

It was a stronghold of Lord's Day Observance, Nothing was done on Sunday, Steamboats were not allowed to drop freight here on Sundays
This was the reason for the nickname “Holy City” by some.
15 native families, and Rev Tomlinson and his family, started the little village, complete with sawmill.

Auldin “Al” Samuel Grey He was a pioneer rancher in the area. ca 1911, 1913, He was from Kootenay Lake.
1910 he was planting fruit trees on his pre-emption
In 1911 he got 70 bushels to an acre for spring wheat, and $200/acre for his potatoes, all on 90 acres of land.
He had a mining claim behind his ranch as well.

Steam Sawmill and Shingle Plant at Cedarvale

Dominion Government Telegraph Office, Anglican, Methodist, and Salvation Army Churches
Population of 100
James Henry Benson- Section foreman
M. Thurlock- Section foreman

Dennis Tulley Christopher

Reaction Cable Ferry

Years ago there used to be a Government Reaction Ferry across the Skeena River, at Cedarvale.
Same type of ferry that still operates at Usk. (2017)
High water and flooding, in 1975 I think it was, sent the ferry downstream, and destroyed it beyond repair.
Today May 9, 2018 a correction from Joanne came in that explains the Cedarvale Ferrys demise

My dad ran the Cedar vale ferry for years that's where I grew up!I noticed you said the ferry damaged taken out by high waters! IN Fact that was not the case!
Unfortunately I remember the day quite well! My dad loaded the ferry with a dump truck, loader and two cars, Which was to heavy and the huge cable snapped!
The two towers came crashing down and the cable was held by heavy winches! My brother paddy came down from the village tightened the cable!
My dad unloaded the ferry by dumping the truck loader and cars into the river! Thats what saved their lives that day!

The Ferry was never replaced.
The new bridge on Highway 37 into Kitwanga, from Highway 16, forced this ferry into extinction.
1913, Government Ferry Subsidy was $4500.00

Postcard shows south end (Highway 16)- photo taken by K. Buchanan
Seven Sisters Range in background
Postcard courtesy Grant Walker, CA

Photo taken ca 1975 by Elain Genser, donated June 9, 2020

see link below for another photo
Small store on right side of photo

Post Office History

Name of Office: Cedarvale
Federal Electoral District: Skeena (BC)
Office Opened- July 1, 1910
in Store after 1918

Sub Post Office- Terrace

Postmaster Information:

Name of Postmaster Date of Birth Date of Appointment Date of Vacancy Cause of Vacancy
Mrs Joseph W. Graham 1910-07-01 1918-03-21 Change of site
John Thompson 1883-07 1918-05-01 1942-04-08 Resignation
Miss Edith Mary Thompson 1942-05-01 Acting
Miss Edith Mary Thompson 1942-05-22 1952-12-31
Mrs Edith Mary Essex 1953-05-11

This reproduction is NOT represented as an official version of the materials reproduced, nor as having been made in affiliation with,
or with the endorsement of the National Archives of Canada. The source of this material is the National Archives of Canada

Mrs. Joseph Wilmot Graham, nee Tomlinson
Elizabeth “Lily” Graham, nee Tomlinson
b- May 1876 in Kincolith, BC
age 30 when she married in 1906
d- 1919
daughter of the founder, Robert Tomlinson, b- 1841- d-1913
and Alice Mary Woods

married Joseph Wilmot Graham,
May 31, 1906, 615 Hastings st. W, Vancouver BC
b- Nov 20, 1867 in Aurora ON
age 39 when he married, May 31, 1906
d- Mar 30, 1957, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Lytton, age 83 (widow)
Farmer at Cedarvale in 1911
Government Telegraph Operator May 31, 1906
son of George W. Graham

another daughter of Robert and Alice
Anna Lucretia “Annie” Thompson (1880-1969) married Walter Wishaw Moberly, Mar 11, 1933 in Cedarvale

From the Great Granddaughter of Robert and Alice Tomlinson, Susan Tomlinson Durban, sent me the correction on Annie above. she added this interesting tidbit.

“My grandfather, Robert Tomlinson, (son of Robert and Alice) built the house and sawmill across the river from Meanskinisht
which was later sold to Moxley, and then to Thompson, and used as the Store and Post Office, where Edith Essex was Postmistress.
The Grand Trunk Railway went through the sawmill.
Annie was on the Mount Royal the day it wrecked in Kitselas Canyon, and I have a letter from her to my grandparents telling her story of the experience.
She was one of three women on the Mount Royal, that day headed for Port Essington.
The other two were Mrs. Phillips, and the Captain's wife.
Annie continued on to Port Essington to catch the boat to Victoria. While in Victoria she attended the funeral of the steward
at Christ Church Cathedral, and went to see the mother of the purser.”

John Thompson
b- July 1883
d- bef 1950
1916- Secretary Upper Skeena Farmer's Institute at Cedarvale
1918- farming
married Edith Thompson, nee Marshall
b- May 1, 1884 in Liverpool, England
d- Feb 15, 1950 in Prince Rupert General Hospital, age 65 (widow)
buried in Cedarvale BC
immigrated 30 years before she died.
daughter of Joseph Marshall and Edith Purdy,
both b- Liverpool, England
Thompson family moved to this area in 1913

1928- Moxley & Thompson General Store
William Delmer Moxley & John Thompson
Wm. Moxley died Feb 2, 1937 in Prince Rupert

daughter- Lillian Thompson
married Mr. Hapala
she was married, living in Prince Rupert, in 1950

daughter- Doris M. Thompson
School Principal in Cedarvale 1931

daughter- Edith Mary Thompson

Edith Mary Thompson
b- June 2, 1906 in Liverpool England
d- Jan 19, 1996, in Wrinch Memorial Hospital, Hazelton BC, age 89
buried in Cedarvale Cemetery, North Side of the Skeena

Headstone Photo courtesy Lorna Jefferis

Edith worked for her father in his store, and helped in the Post Office, eventually becoming Post Mistress

Edith Essex Store- 2015
Photos courtesy Lorna Jefferis, via Ric Jefferis

Edith married William Harold “Bill” Essex, ca 1952
b- Apr 29, 1894 in Galasburg, Illinois, USA
d- July 12, 1969 in Smithers BC, age 75
son of George Washington Essex (1861-1943)
and Leona H. Hahn (1871-1960)
1910 he was living in Idaho USA
ca 1911-1912 came to Canada
Naturalized in 1932
brother- Evan C. Essex lived in Conrad Montana, USA in 1943
Bill was a retired CNR conductor in 1967
when Edith published a book of Verse “Old Love Letters and Other Poems” Edith only had 4 years of formal education.
She then published another book “Rhymes of a Country Postmistress”

More of her family info below

When I used to travel up the Nass, with BC Tel, we used to travel via the ferry, on the new road through the Cranberry. The new bridge wasn't in place at Kitwanga yet.
We used to stop at Mrs. Essex's store, which was at the west end of the ferry slip. (see links, pics below) It was an old store, and would have been a treasure for antique hunters, after the store closed. The old coke signs etc., tins from the 40's on the shelf. No power, no water, wood stove for heat !
She was a great old lady. She had an old black Lab dog, in the early 70's, that used to beg from the folks, lined up at the ferry. A happy memory!
I was sad in one article, to read she froze to death, on the floor of her home. But this proved to be partially untrue. She actually fell at her home, and was later found, when she was taken to Wrinch Memorial Hospital, where she died of Hypothermia.
She was a true Pioneer!

3 Pictures below contributed by Jim Thorne, Kitimat, Nov 23, 2018
Credit -WCK-JST

Cedarvale Store 1978
The view inside this old General Store says it all. A little bit of everything you would need today!

View across Skeena River, showing Cedarvale Ferry, Part of Seven Sisters Mountains in background, Aug 20, 1977


James Cormear Sr.
b- ca 1876 in NB
- Clearing land on his Pre-Emption
wife- Marie Cormear,
b- ca 1899 in France
Immigrated in 1920 with her daughter
daughter- Cecilia Cormear,
b- ca 1919 in France
son- James Cormear Jr.,
b- 7 mo old, ca 1921, in BC

Stanley Bernard Peacock
b- July 16, 1899 in England
d- Sept 5, 1981, Oliver BC, age 92
- Farmer
Civil engineer in Rupert when he married
Immigrated in 1908
married a widow,Luella Mai Steake, nee Wheller, June 21, 1918 in Prince Rupert
b- ca 1888 in Pearson City. Wisconsin, USA
age 28 when she married
Immigrated in 1907
son- Louis Emanuel Peacock,
b- ca 1908, in USA
son- Robert Fourth Peacock,
b- ca 1910 in USA
daughter- Nettie Annie Peacock,
b- ca 1913 in AB
son- Bernard Sidney Peacock,
b- ca 1917 in BC
son- Stanley Bernard Peacock,
b- ca 1920 in BC

Leonard Robert Raby
b- ca 1901, in ON
- General Store Merchant
his Grandmother- Johanna Niemann
b- ca 1845 in Germany
She immigrated in 1885

John Thompson (see above)
b- July 1883 in England
- Farmer
Immigrated in 1913
wife- Edith Thompson, nee Marshall
b- ca 1884 in England
Immigrated in 1914, with 2 daughters
daughter- Edith Mary Thompson,
b- 1906 in England
(this is Edith above)
daughter- Lillian Thompson,
b- ca 1912 in England
son- William Thompson,
b- ca 1916 in England
Immigrated in 1917
son- Donald Thompson
b- b- Aug 13, 1925 in Hazelton BC
d- Jan 23, 1990 in Smithers BC
see headstone picture below

Frank Wnick?
b- ca 1888 in Serbia
- Clearing his own land
Immigrated in 1910

Sidney “Sid” Balaam
b- Feb 28, 1878 at Sapiston, Suffolk, England
d- Sept 26, 1960, Brampton ON, age 82
- Farmer
Immigrated Mar 26, 1900, on the Numidian, arriving in Halifax
with a 1 year older brother, Thomas “Tom” Balaam
1916 family in Saltcoats SK
Sidney shown as a soldier
Enlisted in the South African Boer War in 1900.
Never served overseas
Enlisted in WWI Apr 14, 1916 in Winnipeg MB
Name shown as Sydney here
Canadian Engineers
Occupation- Bridge construction
Served overseas
Lived near Invermay, SK
Moved to Cedarvale in 1920
Moved to Brampton ON after Cedarvale
married- Florence “Pearl” Balaam, nee Duffus, Dec 1911
b- ca 1889 in ON
d- 1922 of TB
5 children:
daughter- Ruth Balaam
b- ca 1911-13, in SK
d- 1914
daughter- Irene Levenia Balaam,
b- ca 1913 in SK
d- Aug 1946
son- Henry George Balaam,
b- ca 1914 in SK
son- Donald Walter Balaam,
b- ca 1917 in SK
d- 1966
daughter- Barbara Dot Balaam,
b- ca 1920 in SK

Hugh Curran
b- April, 1863 in Ireland
- Clearing his own land
Immigrated in 1911 per 1921 census,
1907 per 1911 census
1911 living in Prince Rupert on First Ave.
shown age 48, Railroad labourer.
shown leaving Canada to Tacoma, Oct 24, 1913
shown living in Cedarvale at that time, age 50.
Closest Relative- brother P. Curran,
Camigliano, Prov Lucca, Italy

Thomas Bolton
b- ca 1872 in ON
- Prospector
shown widowed, age 49

John Borduk?
b- ca 1883 in Russia
CNR Section Foreman
Immigrated in 1910
wife- Annie Borduk?,
b- ca 1898 in SK
son- Peter Borduk?,
b- ca 1919 in BC

Walter Wishaw Moberly
b- June 30, 1876, in Waterways AB
d- Jan 18, 1956 Cedarvale enroute to Smithers, age 80
Ferryman, Fur trader
son of Henry John Moberly and Francis LeFleur
married Anna Lucretia Tomlinson, Mar 11, 1933

Thomas Richard Tomlinson
b- ca 1878 in BC
- Farmer Clearing own land
wife- Alice Glover Wells/Parr
b- 1884 in England
Immigrated in 1914
daughter- Agnes Kathleen Tomlinson,
b- ca 1919 in BC
son- Walter Richard Tomlinson,
b- 1921 in BC (4 mo old at census time)

Archibald Stephen Tordiffe
b- Dec 30, 1881 in St. Albans, Hants, England
d- Mar 25, 1964 in Cottage Private Hospital, Matsqui, BC, age 82
- Farmer
1926 he was taking exams for Assistant Forest Ranger
death cert says son of Cyril Tordiffe, and Beatrice ?
marriage cert says parents were Edward and Pauline Tordiffe
married- Alice Tordiffe, nee Tomlinson, June 15, 1905, St. Johns Church, Victoria BC
b- 1872 in Metlakatla, BC
d- Nov 18, 1938 in Cedarvale, age 66
daughter of Robert and Alice Tomlinson
son- Edward Sterling Tordiffe,
b- Apr 2, 1906 in Port Essington, BC
d- June 28, 1953 in Cedarvale, age 47
daughter- Pauline Alice Tordiffe,
b- ca 1907 in BC
son- Stafford Robert Tordiffe,
b- Oct 16, 1910 in Alert Bay, BC
d- Dec 4, 1989 in Kelowna general Hospital

Dennis Tulley Christopher
b- May 9, 1881 in Malahide Township, ON
d- Sept 2, 1972, Prince George, BC, age 91
- Clearing own land
Al Grey and D. Christopher had a mineral claim
about 2 miles NW of Cedarvale.
Father- Charles Frederick Augustus Christopher
Mother- Harriet Bethiah Nunn

Aulden Samuel Gray (see above)
b- ca 1849 in NS
- Experimental Fruit Farmer

Cedarvale Cemetery Headstones
2 photos courtesy Lorna Jefferis

Donald Thompson
b- Aug 13, 1925 in Hazelton BC
d- Jan 23, 1990 in Smithers BC
son of John Thompson (see above)
and Edith Marshall

Maurice Dahlquist
b- July 12, 1884 Sundsvaal, Sweden (alt sp= Sundasvaal, Lunsvall?)
d- June 28, 1951 in Smithers BC
Came to Canada 45 years, before he died, ca 1906
Logging contractor
son of Sven Dahlquist and Marie Olivia Dahlquist
married Aug 1, 1910 in Nakusp BC, to Jenny Sorensen
they had 5 children

May or may not work in the future
May or may not contain true information, as I do not control the links


Cedarvale History

1928 Directory

Cedarvale ferry

Edith Essex Bio


George Tomlinson, son of Robert, wrote the book “Challenge the Wilderness” which tells the Tomlinson story and includes pictures of the area.

More family info here from Kathie Ross, nee Degerness, Feb 13, 2022
links to Robert Tomlinson and others in the family, people could start here: \\https://www.diggerross.ca/histories/thomas-richard-tomlinson-1878-1954/robert-tomlinson-1842-1913/ which is my history page on Robert (sourced), or here https://diggerross.ca/TNGdiggerross%20files/getperson.php?personID=I44&tree=diggerross which is the genealogy page on Robert. Kathie


  • Last modified: 2022/02/13 15:27
  • by dlgent