The Norgang brothers (left), Fred Brand, Bill Brand and an unidentified boy pose in front of the boiler at Brand’s Sawmill in Cherry Creek in 1910. The mill, which was built on Fred Cowley’s property, was almost destroyed by fire in May 1917, but was restored and continued operation until 1930. This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PN00127 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

The Norgang brothers (left), Fred Brand, Bill Brand and an unidentified boy pose in front of the boiler at Brand’s Sawmill in Cherry Creek in 1910. The mill, which was built on Fred Cowley’s property, was almost destroyed by fire in May 1917, but was restored and continued operation until 1930. This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PN00127 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

LOOK BACK: Fred Brand, Brand’s Sawmill

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum

The Norgang brothers, left, Fred Brand and Bill Brand stand with an unnamed boy at Brand’s Sawmill, located on Fred Cowley’s property in Cherry Creek in 1910.

The mill, which was likely the Brand Shingle Mill, was built largely of brick. The unnamed boy, on the right in the photo, can be seen sitting in front of a boiler.

A biography of Frederick Brand accompanies photo number PN07001 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s online collection:

Frederick Brand was born in Switzerland on March 28, 1870. He left Switzerland in 1883 for North Dakota, then moving around Montana and San Francisco, before working in a sawmill in Seattle for two years. He came to Alberni with Dr. Pybus in 1892. The pair were dumped off at Kildonan and paddled to Alberni from there.

Fred Brand lived and travelled in the Tofino and Barkley Sound areas, spending time with (Indigenous) people. In 1898-99, he spent the winter in Alaska (this is, according to his daughter, when he first got the camera). In 1900, he was again in Alberni Valley, working at Halpenny’s mill. He became a naturalized Canadian in 1902, and received his Steam Engineers Certificate 4th Class in 1904.

He worked at Halpenny’s Mill (where the Tidebrook Hotel used to be located, on Gertrude Street across from Rogers Creek Park) until he started his own sawmill on Fred Cowley’s place in Cherry Creek in 1907. That same year he married Miss Gertrude Johnston who had come to Alberni in 1906 to teach at the Alberni Indian Residential School. They lived on the corner of Southgate and Victoria Quay. (Brand’s Hall was nearby their home). They spent the winters in Alberni, but the rest of the year they lived at the Mill.

In 1910, they moved to the mill completely, continuing sawmilling until 1930, having been burnt out once during that time (in May 1917, Jan Peterson writes in The Albernis: 1860–1922). In 1903 the Brands retired to 119 Burke Rd., Port Alberni. Mr. Brand died in 1950 and Mrs. Brand in 1956. They had eight children: William, Frank, Dorothy (who donated Fred Brand’s glass slides to the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection), John, Fern, Daniel, Kate, and Mabel. More information is available at the Alberni District Historical Society.

This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com/ Many of the history books cited in the Look Back series are available for purchase at the AV Museum. Call 250-720-2863 for more information.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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