Decks and Garden
Margery Fish’s tangled garden,
planted in 1932, survives and blooms to this day. It
was Margery who planted the Copper Beech tree that today
dwarfs the Copper Beech House on the side facing the
Margery also planted bulbs, an oak
and chestnut tree, hawthorns, laburnum, rhododendron,
mock orange and lilac, that all riot together in the
gardens surrounding the house. In early spring the English
garden transforms into a wonderland of blooms and flowering
objet d’art, comfy couches for curling up on
and watching the eagles, or the boats in the harbour.
Turkish rugs, Haida art, African carvings (David’s
collection), drums, masks, a hundred-year old ling
cod’s head…a room, as a recent guest put
it, “dripping with character”.
of the House
We go back to 1914:
a little house, which opened up into a surprising number
of rooms once you entered the front door, was built
by a Swedish carpenter for a cannery manager living
at George Point in Naden Harbour, on the north coast
of what had then come to be called the Queen Charlotte
The cannery closed
in 1921 and the house was floated, on logs that had been
strapped together, eastward and south through Dixon Entrance,
and then down Masset Sound, until it came to rest on
the Watun River.
Eleven years later,
Arthur Robinson bought the house and it set sail again – this
time up to Masset Inlet. Two oxen named Olaf and Buster
and a stump puller (whose name has been lost, alas) winched
the building up off the beach and onto its present footing
today, by the government docks in New Masset.
Margery Fish, arrived from England in 1932, to reside
in what had become the most unique building in town,
with an interior redone with plywood (considered very
chic at the time), a convenient in-house well, and a
windmill for electricity.
The next family to
own the house was Dr. Charlie Smith and his wife, Alice
(née Harling), who had retired from the Cape St.
James Lighthouse. When David Phillips arrived in
1971 he found the Smiths’ gentle son, Sydney Harling
Smith living alone and in need of care; David moved in,
re-installed plumbing and electricity, strengthened the
foundation, closed the well (which by that time “was
just a hole in the floor”) replaced the roof, and
added a floor at garden level. The structure and finish
of the rest of the house, David carefully preserved at
circa early ‘30s.
In 1986 the house
entered into its most recent incarnation as the Copper
Beech House. The rest, as they say, is history.
(Compiled from a story
by April Johnson, published in The Observer, September