The Englewood wood and English sawmill as it appeared in Beaver Cove in 1926.

The Englewood wood and English sawmill as it appeared in Beaver Cove in 1926.

Englewood enjoyed a rich and varied history

History columnist Brenda McCorquodale looks back at the Wood & English sawmill.

Logging started in the Beaver Cove area, just South of Port McNeill, in about 1908.  A couple of early homesteaders had taken preemptions in the area, but eventually gave them up as logging moved from the beach area inland.

The first logging railways were built in the Nimpkish Valley around 1917. One railway ran through the upper Nimpkish watershed to the top of Nimpkish Lake, and another ran from the bottom of the lake to Beaver Cove. Historical articles seem to disagree whether the lower railway initially was routed to the mouth of the Nimpkish River or to Beaver Cove.

In any case, the logs had to be floated down Nimpkish Lake and then removed at the bottom of the lake. The Nimpkish Timber Company operated an early camp in the area.

A mill was operated for a few years (1917 to the early 1920s) at the mouth of the Kokish River in Beaver Cove by the Beaver Cove Lumber Company.

In 1925 the Wood & English company opened a new sawmill in the northern part of Beaver Cove.  This location provided a sheltered bay, access to deep water, and a stream which provided a source of power for the mill.  The Nimpkish logging railway was redirected to the new mill, and a town sprang up in this new location.

The new community was named Englewood, a play on the Wood & English mill name. Log cars were originally pulled along the railroad by steam engines.  The rail line became known as the Englewood Railway.

Englewood became a steamer port with a post office. A general store and community hall opened on the wharf.  Bunkhouses, mill offices, married quarters, a small Japanese village, and a school were all constructed or moved from other camps.

In the early days the mill was busy and sometimes operated three shifts per day. Most of the workers were able to live for free in the company housing.

Naturalist and fisherman Roderick Haig-Brown visited and photographed the mill in 1927.

The Wood & English operated until 1941.  After the mill was closed most of the company buildings were burned to the ground.

The nearby communities of Beaver Cove and Kokish grew after the closure of Englewood.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the upper and lower Nimpkish logging railroads were connected, eliminating the need for logs to be floated down Nimpkish Lake.

The offloading of logs from throughout the Nimpkish watershed and beyond was moved to the community of Beaver Cove, which existed at the mouth of the Kokish until the log sort was expanded in 1975.

In 1958 the Englewood post office closed and was moved to the community of Beaver Cove. In 1967 a report from the Forest Service said there was still a 10-person camp at Englewood. Its registration as a community was rescinded in 1985.

In the late 1990s a state-of-the-art fish processing facility was constructed on the site of the old mill, where the historic pilings were still visible.

Brenda McCorquodale is a Port Hardy resident and North Island history enthusiast. If you have any stories or local lore you’d like to share, email her at storeysbeach@gmail.com. A collection of her past articles is available on her blog at undiscoveredcoast.blogspot.ca/.

 

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