Georgetown, British Columbia, Canada

Georgetown / Georgetown Mill

Started by 3 men, ca 1874-1875
Original Investors- George Williscroft, Charles Thomas Frederick Morrison, and Thomas Elwyn
Original name- Williscroft & Co.
Mar 19, 1879 the partnership was disolved, and ownership was under George Williscroft's name only.
Various owners operated the mill until it was closed.

The Mill site burnt down in 1978. It was closed before that by many years.

Located in Big Bay, between Prince Rupert and Port Simpson
It was the First Sawmill on the North Coast per online source.
Water Wheel Powered Mill originally, later Steam Powered

It consisted of a School, Methodist Church (listed in 1910 Directory), Post Office (see below), Saw Mill,
Plus Housing for Various nationalities of workers, First Nation, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans, and Management housing.

George Williscroft's sawmill was at Georgetown, alt: Georgetown Mill
6 miles south of Port Simpson (see map above)
which was named after him.
(see link below)

Georgetown Lake in map above, named after him as well.

George Williscroft, Sawmill Owner, Box Factory, Steamboat owner
George Williscroft
b- June 9, 1837 Smith Falls, Lanark, Ontario, Canada
d- Nov 22, 1895 in Georgetown, from suspected suicide. (see below)
His executers were Charles Kent and R. H. Hall
Per his obituary he left his wife and 3 children in Ontario, and never corresponded with them, and they assumed he had died out west.
He resided at Paisley ON, before he moved to BC, about 30 years before his death.

father- George Williscroft (Sr) (1807-1895)
mother- Elizabeth Ann (Annie) Archer (1811-1901)
Both his parents were born in Ireland

1st marriage- Eliza Rusk, (1843-1925) June 6, 1860 Bruce, Ontario, Canada
3 children- Jemima Alma Williscroft (Apr 9, 1861-1943), George Wellington Williscroft (1863- ?), and John Edwin Williscroft (Oct 14, 1866-1946)
This family were abandoned in Ontario, and after a time Mrs Williscroft moved to the village of Southampton Ontario, where she started a bakery.
She married 2 times while George was thought to be dead. It wasn't until her 3rd marriage they found out he was alive.
George claimed he was divorced from his first wife, when he remarried in BC
2 months before he died, his daughter Jemima became a widow with a large family, so she wrote to George, her father, asking for assistance.
He became moody and downhearted per obit, and this they believed caused him to commit suicide.
Worried about this marriage problem getting out in the public.
His father had died the same year I noticed, so that would have caused some depression as well.
Plus his ship “The Nell” (see below) was held by the sherriff in a lawsuit dispute, so the combination of these things was too much for him in my opinion.
Some historians think he accidentally drank cabolic acid, while he had been possibly drinking heavily.
The lack of articles about his death in all the old newspapers, tells me it was suicide, but will let others make the final decision.

2nd marriage- Aneta (Anne) MacDonald (b-1854 at Port Simpson BC- d- Mar 11, 1890) married 1879? I think it was 1883 as shown below
her obit says she was the wife of George Williscroft when she died, with 2 small children? But if he remarried in 1883, how is that possible? Something wrong here.
Illegitiamte child possibly, before he remarried

They had 3 children, per birth cert of William Edward:
-daughter Mary Anne Williscroft b-ca 1882, Georgetown BC

-son Walter Henry Williscroft
b- Jan 24, 1883 (per death cert)(1880 in other sources) Georgetown BC (Port Simpson in death cert)
d- Feb 12, 1972 in Victoria BC age 89
Walter became a well known pioneer trader, millman, and miner of the North Coast. He became a supervisor of the Bulkley Valley and Telkwa Coal Company.
Walter married Beatrice Price, born June 9, 1891 in London England, d- Apr 29, 1946 in Terrace BC, she is buried in Kalum Pioneer Cemetery in Terrace

-son (Captain) William Edward Williscroft
b- Sept 28, 1886 at Port Simpson BC
d- Dec 6, 1965 Victoria, BC, age 79
his mother in the marriage cert to Edith Watkinson, is shown as Elizabeth Williscroft

1891 census shows George, age 54, son Walter age 11, daughter Mary Anne, age 9 and son William, age 3. all living in New Westminster BC
Mothers of the 3 children shown born in BC

3rd marriage?- Annie Williscroft, Apr 25, 1883 at Metlakatla BC
all records show a George Williscroft married Annie, I think this is the Anne above, and he only married the 2 times

Siblings of George:

William Williscroft
b- ca 1833, Montague, Ontario

Sarah Ann Williscroft
b- ca 1838, North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada

Mary Jane Williscroft
b- ca 1840, North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada

Elizabeth Williscroft
b- ca 1842, North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada
d- 1922

Benjamin Williscroft
b- Apr 6, 1846 in North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada
d- Mar 20, 1938 in Vancouver BC, age 91

Henry Williscroft
b- ca 1847 in North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada

Albert Williscroft
b- ca 1850 in North Elmsley Township, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada

Walter Archer Williscroft
b- Feb 10, 1854, Smith Falls ON
d- Oct 20, 1917 from an accident at the plant of the Foundation Company Ltd. in Victoria, head hit by a large beam. age 63
He was a carpenter by trade. Employed at the plant for only 5 days, arriving from Telkwa.
He was Government Road Supervisor for 10 years prior to moving to Victoria.
At one time he was Superintendent of the Georgetown Sawmill.
Walter married Christina McKenzie
they had a son George Murdoch Williscroft
b- Apr 26, 1893, Georgetown BC
d- Dec 8, 1973, at Kootenay Lake Dist Hospital, Nelson BC, age 80

George's Uncle James Williscroft was one of the victims of the Frog Lake Massacre during the Northwest Rebellion in 1885.
b- 1821 Shankill, Lurgen, Armagh, Ireland
d- Apr 2, 1885 Frog Lake, Alberta, Canada, age 64
He was married with a large family as well.

From Rootsweb this comment-
“In Elderslie Township, Bruce County, the hamlet of Williscroft is mentioned. It is situated on Lot 9, Concession 12, and Lots 8 & 9, Concession 13.
George Williscroft (Sr.) is mentioned as the 1st settler. Later on in the history, George is mentioned as the first postmaster in the post office bearing his name.
His brother, James Williscroft, wife and a family of 7, came from Smith Falls, Ont.”

Per Canada Post Archives the Post Office for the Hamlet of Williscroft Ontario, was established Mar 1, 1856, in Elderslie Township, Bruce County, Ontario,
and it closed May 31, 1880 when George Williscroft resigned and left the place.

See also Port Simpson page

Charles Thomas Frederick Morrison
b- Mar 29, 1844 at St Marylebone, Middlesex, England
d- Mar 19, 1933 at Prince Rupert, BC, Canada
son of George Morrison and Olive Ann Powell
All his children went by Morison with one r

Thomas L. Elwyn
b- ca 1837 in Ireland
d- September 11, 1888 at his Residence, Quebec St., Victoria BC
He was a British soldier, police officer, Pioneer Magistrate, and gold commissioner in colonial British Columbia. He served in the Crimean War.
Deputy Provincial Secretary of BC when he died
son of Lieutenant General Thomas Elwyn, Royal Artillery, and Anne Ryan

Post Office History

Office Name: Georgetown Mills
Electoral District: Skeena (British Columbia)
Established- Apr 1,1910
Closing- Apr 15,1928

Name of Postmaster, Date of Appointment, Date of Vacancy, Cause of Vacancy

Haliburton Peck, Apr 1,1910, Oct 18,1919, Resignation
George McAfee, Nov 29,1919, Apr 15,1928, Closed

source- Library and Archives Canada
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.

Haliburton Peck
b- June 13, 1864 at Hopewell, New Brunswick, Canada
d- Oct 13, 1923 at Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, age 60
accidentally shot by his own shot gun, while going Pheasant hunting.
buried in Fraser Cemetery
He became owner of the mill at this time
son of Wesley Peck (1827-1920) and Mary Susan Rogers (1840-1928)
brother- Col Cyrus W. Peck, VC, attended his funeral from Victoria
Haliburton was a member of the Masonic Order
survived by wife Mabel Sophronia Peck, nee Kendall, 2 daughters, and 2 sons
Manager of the cannery at Namu, later involved in Saw Mill here. Retired in 1919, Post Office date above I bet

George Moses McAfee
b- Dec 1, 1869, Aylwin, Quebec, Canada
d- Apr 27, 1932, His rook at the Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver BC, age 62
buried family plot, Ocean View Burial Park.
shown Manager of Big Bay Lumber Co. at Georgetown, in 1921
son of Robert McAfee (b-1837 in Ireland-1917) and Ann Jane Nelson (1838-1907)
George came to Vancouver 30 years before he died, and was instrumental in forming the McLaren Lumber Company Mill, at Barnet.
Later he built the first mill at Port Alberni BC. and after this became manager of the Canadian Pacific Lumber Company at Port Moody.
1918 he went to the QC Islands, to cut spruce for the Dominion Munitions Board.
Then he Constructed the Big Bay Lumber Co. Mill at Georgetown.
When he died, he had just built a new house in Ladner BC. He was survived by a wife and 3 daughters and a son, Weldon R. McAfee, b- Mar 8, 1898 in Quebec
His son was manager of the Big Bay mill in 1932
George was married to Jessie Rebecca Reid, Aug 19, 1895 at home of James Reid, in Ottawa, ON, She was b- ca 1870 in Quebec
When he was married George was bookkeeper for the Estate of the late James MacLaren & Co.

Directory and Time Line Information

1891 Residents

Fnu McLean- builder and contractor
George Williams- blacksmith
George Williscroft- saw mill
Henry Williscroft- sawyer
Walter Williscroft- surveyor

1894 Residents

known as Georgetown-
Nearest Post Office at Fort Simpson, 7 miles away.
Communication fortnightly by steamer from Victoria

Rev Thomas Crosby, Methodist Minister
Captain William Madden
James McInnis, engineer
William Moody, sawyer
George Williscroft- mill owner
James Williscroft- mill hand
Walter williscroft- mill hand

1910 Residents

Georgetown Sawmill Co. Ltd
sawmill capacity 30,000 bd ft.
General Store
Methodist Church
Donald Mackenzie Moore- President (Captain in WWI) b- Mar 19, 1877, Hopewell, Albert Co., NB Canada, d- May 22, 1915 killed in action
Cyrus (Cy) Wesley Peck (VC, DSO and Bar in WWI)- Secretary (Prince Rupert) (1871-1956)
Gaine LaForest Peck- Manager
Galus L. Peck- Labourer

Cyrus W. Peck and Donald M. Moore invested and built the Cassiar Cannery in 1903, and then bought this sawmill 4 years later, per memorial for Cy Peck in Prince Rupert

July 7, 1910

H. Peck, Secretary Trustees, took out an add looking for a Teacher for their school. Post Office address- Big Bay BC via Port Simpson

1916 Residents

shown as Big Bay in Directory
S. Dorian- planerman
Charles Vernon Evitt- accountant
F. Jacklin- yardman (Frederick Jacklin died at Prince Rupert July 10, 1920)
M. Miller- yardman
D. McPherson- shipper
William Henry Rudland- storekeeper
Walter Henry Williscroft- foreman
Albert Woodhouse- sawyer

Apr 1923

Mill was closed down to make additions and repairs, 2 new water wheels, and a new band resaw

Apr 4, 1926

Work was started on their new mill at Prince Rupert, where an older mill had burnt down.

Oct 1928

Moved plant to Prince Rupert. Produced 50,000 bd ft per 8 hr shift

Dec 1929

Plant was extended during the year at Prince Rupert, cutting 60,000 ft of lumber per day, operating a planning mill, and box factory,
and turning out a large quantity of airplane grade spruce through the year.

1930 Residents

Big Bay Lumber Co. Ltd
Mill not working
residents shown as 100, guess that was when it was working?
John E. Moraes- caretaker
b- Sept 27, 1868 in Victoria, BC
d- Oct 29, 1946 in Port Simpson,
father Joseph Moraes born in England,
mother- Anna Belmore, born in South Africa

Mar 23, 1931

M. A. Marley manager of the Big Bay Lumber Company's sawmill at Prince Rupert
Murray Alexander Marley
b- Jan 20, 1909, Leavenworth, WA, USA
d- Oct 12, 1989 North Vancouver BC

June 10, 1933

Newspapers reported the Big Bay Lumber Co. Ltd. Mill, under H. R. MacMillan, was closing down in Prince Rupert, located at Seal Cove.
It had operated at Big Bay (Georgetown) until 1929, when it's equipment was moved to Rupert
The box factory works were being carried on by a new company, the Georgetown Lumber & Box Company,
operated by the present mill manager, Weldon R. McAfee, and the Superintendent, S. E. Sunbury.
They purchased the site of the mill at Big Bay at this time, and were moving the equipment back there.

Selah Ellsworth Sunbury
b- Oct 10, 1889 in Quebec Canada
d- Mar 19, 1947, in Hospital in Prince Rupert BC
He was living at Georgetown, shown as Manager of the Georgetown Lumber & Box Company at that time


Georgetown Mills
no residents shown

Nov 30, 1949

James Donaldson, Manager of the Brown's Mill on the Ecstall River, near Port Essington on the Skeena River,
bought the Georgetown Mill at Big Bay from Georgetown Lumber and Box Co. Ltd.
It was closed for 1 year prior to this.
He was planning on opening the mill Jan 10, 1950, specializing in Box Lumber.

The SS Nell

George Williscroft owned and built the Steamer “Nell” which was built at Georgetown under his supervision.
It was 100 ft long, 23 ft beam, and 7ft 10“ depth of hold.
It would carry 200 tons or 100,000 ft of lumber from his sawmill.
It was built of yellow cedar and spruce, all locally obtained.
It was towed to Victoria, where the Albion Iron Works installed the Engine.
In 1898 it is in records as a Mission Boat, operating in Kitamaat area.
1887 Captain Madden was in charge heading north with Naas River natives on board.
Jan 4, 1906 with Captain Oliver at the helm, it's propellor was fouled by a cable pulling fishing boats at that time.
It was pushed up on a reef at Metlakatla and was feared lost.
It was still owned by the Georgetown Sawmill Company, and was valued at $25,000, with no insurance.
It had just survived a large fire, Oct 10, 1904, at the outer mill wharf, after loading wood at the inner wharf,
Captain Oliver knowing the ship was being destroyed, ordered horses on board to be shot.
The steamer, cargo, wharf and Lumber stacks were all destroyed or damaged.
Loss was reported to be $25,000, covered by $2,000 insurance.
The Nell was partially rebuilt, making it even larger than it was originally.
Jan 30, 1906 it broke apart in pieces on the rocks. There was no loss of life in the accident.

External Links Note- NOT my sites, links may or may not work in the future

The best history page for Georgetown is here
and no need for me to make one of my own. http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/MCR/article/view/17087/22916


  • Last modified: 2019/04/21 10:16
  • by dlgent