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The Keats Island Story  (Cont'd)

For the following twenty-seven years, until a fine May day in 1886, it seemed that the Admirals Island would remain forgotten and uninhabited. It was then that the ex-naval lieutenant George Gibson, dropped anchor off the beach at Keats. He and his sons were on the way home from Vancouver Island to the Fraser River. He had no intention at first of settling in the vicinity of Keats but he saw the quiet little bay across the channel and decided to explore further.

He and his sons rowed across to the mainland and George Gibson decided at once that this was the place he wanted. A year later he returned to the little bay and founded the town of Gibsons. The following year brought John Hooper and Lehannah Konderoy to become the first settlers on Keats Island. Then came Harry White to homestead on the east coast of the island. It was the beginning of an exciting future for the Admiral's Island.

When Roy Brown arrived to claim 440 acres early in this century, the islanders had built a small sawmill and cutting floats for fishing nets. There was an abundance of timber so it wasn't long before a lumber company came to the island, marking it with the cat roads. Today these roads are overgrown with small alder samplings and hedged with berry bushes. They are the favorite feeding stations of the deer and make interesting trails for hikers to follow.

Roy Brown's acreage included the southern section of the island. He brought in Japanese laborers and set them to work clearing the land. He built a large barn and a house, surrounding them with vegetable gardens, orchards and flowering shrubs. The Japanese cleared huge piles of rocks from the fields and built a series of small walls. These walls are standing to this day. High on the bluff overlooking the meadow, the walls served as a reservoir, for the water supply was limited in the dry season. Today the wall is crumbling. In the early spring it is covered with a soft carpet of green moss and tiny wild flowers.

It seemed that Roy Brown had found the ideal place for an estate. But in 1920 an unfortunate fire destroyed his home and the project ended. Six years later the abandoned property was sold to an association of Baptist businessmen. They formed the Keats Island Summer Home Company. Lots were sold on a 99 year lease with 12 acres set aside for a camp. The property needed a caretaker so in 1926 Will Read came to the island. Mr Read found the remains of the large vegetable gardens. Soon he had replanted them and was supplying the other islander with food. He built himself a sturdy home, complete with flower gardens and rose trellises. The house, called Readhurst, had a superb view of the sound. Many years later Mr. Read sold this home to the BaptistCamp. It is now used as a "hotel" for visitors and campers.

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