I have made this post without the consent or permission of those who have done the research, however I feel as part of the family I don’t feel that I’m hurting anybody by stating the fact. I remember one day when I was very young my father taking the family over to see Russell Island I remember digging for clams that sunny day. I now wished that I were old enough to appreciate the gravity of the day trip. It all just seem like a simple outing to me as a child. Now when I look at the pictures of my Great, Great Grandmother, I can see my Grandmother looking through the same eyes. Many times I had run to my Grandmother for safety, I always felt safe under my Grandmother wings… I had never met my Maria Mahoi, in my Grandmother I feel I know something about the character and the distinctive qualities of Maria Mahoi, a little something from my family past…
So here is a little something from my family past…
Maria(Mar-Rye-ah)Mahoi (Douglas,Fisher)1855-1936 Kanaka Matriarch
Maria Mahoi epitomizes the strength, independence, resilience and resourcefulness of the hard-working pioneer women of the Gulf Islands. Maria was born in 1855 to William Mahoya, a Kanaka (Hawaiian) and his first nation wife. William was contracted to the Hudson Bay Company during the fur trade.
Little is known about her early life until 1870 and her first relationship, with Captain Abel Douglas from Maine, an American of Scottish descent, who came up to BC via the California Gold Rush. Maria went on to have 13 children by two fathers, the first seven by Douglas and the second six by George Fisher. In 1890, Douglas disappeared out of her life. In 1900, she went on to marry the well-educated George, who was born on
nearby Piers Island. He was also of mixed race, his father English and his mother from the Cowichan tribe. Although illiterate, herself, Maria recognized the value and importance of an education for all of her children, including her girls.Maria was proud of her Hawaiian heritage. She worked hard to cope with prejudice on the island. Her children blended into island society— the girls by marriage and
the sons through their Douglas family ties.In1902, the Fishers moved to Russell Island, located just south of Fulford Harbour. Russell Island had originally been granted in 1886 to a Kanaka named William Haumea. An astute, tenacious and resourceful woman, Maria, with the help of family and neighbours in Fulford, successfully claimed her rights to the island as Haumea’s heir.
Her home on Russell Island became a focal point for the largely mixed community of Kanaka (Hawaiian) and aboriginal descendants. She lived there until her death in 1936. Russell Island is now part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Maria’s farmhouse is under the stewardship of Parks Canada.
For more information see the Kanaka collection of http:// saltspringarchives.com/ and also read:
Jean Barman, Maria Mahoi of the Islands. Charles Kahn, Salt Spring, The Story of an Island. Tom Koppel, Kanaka, The Untold Story of Hawaiian Pioneers in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
I make this post for you Grandma Jensen…
In loving memory your Grandson!