In previous columns I have written about the history of early Fort Rupert, the Port Hardy Air Force base, and the Kwakiutl First Nation.
Today I thought I would pass on a bit of information about Storey’s Beach’s first residents, George and Frances Storey. The information for this article is taken from the North Island Gazette and the book “A Dream Come True: Port Hardy 1904 – 2004,” published by the Port Hardy Museum.
George (Paddy) Storey was a logger who had worked around the Coast, and while a patient in the Vancouver General Hospital had met his future wife Frances (Sannie) Lyon.
Paddy loved the Beaver Harbour area, and was excited when his application to log in the area was approved in 1941.
At the time there were no roads into the area, and so the Storeys’ logging camp was pulled up onto the North end of the beach, close to the creek outlet.
If you take a walk down to the beach today, the area of the camp was the location around Chatham Ave. The Storeys’ float home was pulled up on skids and is still there today, a simple white and brown house right on the beach.
The Storeys’ children were initially home-schooled. Sannie would walk the beach or row to visit with her nearest neighbours at Fort Rupert.
When the children started attending school they had to walk the beach from the logging camp to the current boat launch area by the pavilion to catch the bus. Not a difficult feat in the summer but much more challenging in the dark or the snow!
Water would be collected from Storey’s Creek, which ran behind the camp.
One popular story about Sannie was that she once tried to shoot a cougar she discovered in her chicken coop. She apparently shot a branch off of a nearby fruit tree, and blasted a hole in a dinghy, but didn’t kill the cougar!
It wasn’t until 1957 that the Storeys’ first neighbours moved onto the beach, Ned and Pru France.
A rough trail was cleared along the beach around this time which was navigable by jeep, but had to continually be cleared of debris after big storms.
Paddy died in 1968 of lingering illness related to a car accident some 20 years earlier.
Sannie started Port Hardy’s first trailer park when, during a housing shortage, she allowed people to put trailers on her property.
Sannie died in 2006 in the Port Hardy Hospital at the age of 97, only having been out of her home for 10 days.
You may notice that there are different spellings of Storey’s Beach. Initially the town’s maps erroneously spelled the street fronting the beach “Stories Beach Road.” In 2000 the town corrected its spelling of the street to “Storey’s Beach,” however provincial maps and google maps still show the spelling as “Stories Beach.”
Descendants of the Storey family still live on the beach.