SETTLING IN AT NANAIMO
Once they were ashore and back to varied and substantial meals instead of the skimpy monotonous rations of biscuits, rice and salt meat of the Princess Royal, the health of the immigrants improved rapidly. True, there was often a shortage of meat and potatoes at the Hudson's Bay Company's store, but with game plentiful in the surrounding woods and the sea and rivers teeming with fish, this was little more than a minor inconvenience. If a man had no time or inclination to hunt for himself, he could purchase a deer from an Indian for a handful of tobacco. We might also assume that as the months rolled by, at least some of the miners planted their own vegetable gardens, though we do not know how many took advantage of the Company's offer to rent to each miner one acre of land "as near as could be obtained to his dwelling" for one pound Sterling per annum.
Meanwhile, they set to work to build individual houses4 for their families, being advised and assisted by cabinetmaker Edwin Gough.
George Robinson lived in the Mine Agent's house near the Plaza, on a plot of ground now forming part of the garden of the St. Paul's Rectory. We have a picture of the house, in the "carte de visite" format which was popular in the 1880's. The picture shows a plain, unadorned building with four small windows in front, two on each side of the centrally‚placed front door, and two similar windows on the side of the house, with a smaller window opening from the attic above them. There is a narrow verandah the full length of the house, and a white picket fence encloses it. In the centre of the roof there is a squat, square chimney. On the back of the picture is a notation in sepia ink, "The House at Nanaimo in which my dear wife died. GR"