JOHN ENOS of NANOOSE BAY
(From Luistania.ca, June 2003, by M. Azevedo)
John Enos (Joao Ignacio) was born in 1834 in the parish of Sao Pedro, Santa Maria, Azores. He was the first European settler in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island, settling in 1862. Local historians describe him as the “most colourful pioneer of all.”
Enos went to sea when he was 14 years old. By 1852 he was in Boston working as a servant for John Richard. He probably worked his way to the USA on an American whaling ship, as was the custom in those days. From Boston he headed to the California gold fields, sailing around the Cape.
In 1858 he joined the exodus from California to the Fraser River gold rush in B.C. In 1859 he almost drowned at Fort Yale when his raft overturned. He returned to Vancouver Island where he worked as a seaman carrying coal from Nanaimo to the naval base at Esquimalt. He then worked squaring timbers for the Hudson Bay Company in Nanaimo. He built Nanaimo’s first bridge.
In 1862 he went to the Cariboo in search of gold but returned shortly to settle on Notch Hill Ranch on the Nanoose peninsula. There he cleared and farmed the land. He raised cattle, pigs, and bulls. He also planted a large orchard and fished with a sloop he built.
Misfortune struck Enos in 1870 when one of his bulls gored him. He was forced to rely on others, especially his friend John Suza (Sousa). Shortly after, his wife, Teresa Elisia of the Songhees nation died. In 1890 he sold his farm and returned to the Azores to marry but was spurned by his widowed childhood sweetheart. In 1892 he returned to Nanaimo to live with his family whom he had left in his house.
Enos was a canny and litigious entrepreneur. He purchased various properties in anticipation of the coming of the transcontinental train promised by the Federal government when B.C. joined confederation in 1871. He was involved in lengthy litigation with the Hudson Bay Company over property he owned in Nanaimo.
He retired in 1894 to the men’s ward at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria. He negotiated a shrewd contract with the Sisters of St. Ann to look after him and voluntarily paid more money as a result of his longevity. He died in 1921 at the age of 87. He was a familiar face in Victoria, riding his woman’s bicycle (he was short) till he was 85. He sang and played the guitar for the nuns and guests. He also read music. Enos lake and Enos creek in the Nanoose area are named after him.
We often lunch on the rocks in Mellstrom's Cove where Spanish and British sea captains repaired their sailing ships. We gaze up at Notch Hill and think of the peaceful life of Nanoose's first settler, John Enos who raised sheep and cattle on these slopes, and the far more tumultuous life of the Giant Powder Company who later would build there a gunpowder production plant and a townsite, wharf and railway to support it.
He was from the Island of Santa Maria and helped build the bridges of Nanaimo ( Manuel Azevedo)
Joao Inacio, who simplified his name to John Enos, also came from the Azores. Like the others he had gone to sea in his early teens. He jumped ship at Boston in 1852 and worked his way west to California, hoping to get rich from gold. He found all the good claims staked, and he made his way north to British Columbia as soon as he got news of the gold rush there. He tells a story of being scared away by Native people from Yale that it is so similar to Portuguese’s Joe (Silvey) account, it’s very possible that they made the trip together. John Enos got work near Nanaimo, took up land a bit farther north at Nanoose Bay in 1863, and married a Songhees woman whom he named Teresa Elisia. Just as the Bittancourts and Norton had done, Enos acquired a reputation as a successful farmer. When Portuguese Joe and his family traveled on the Morning S.