CRYER, Beryl




Author Tags: 1900-1950, First Nations, Kidlit & Young Adult

Raised in the Shawnigan area of Vancouver Island, at Chemainus, by her very English parents Mr. and Mrs. Richmond Beauchamp Halhed, Beryl Mildred Cryer was born Beryl Mildred Halhed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1889. Having arrived at Shawnigan Lake in 1892, she later maintained the area received its name from a hybrid word commemorating two early Anglo settlers, Shaw and Finnegan. She married local businessman William Claude Cryer and they had one child. During the Depression, at the request of the managing editor of the Daily Colonist newspaper in Victoria, she collected Coast Salish stories from Hul'q'umi'num elders, mainly her next door neighbour Mary Rice from Kuper Island, as well as Joe and Jennie Wyse, for a series of 60 articles that appeared in the Sunday Magazine supplement. In the 1930s she also co-wrote an article with Jennie Wyse (Tstass-Aya) for the Daily Colonist about a battle between the Snunéymuxw of Gabriola Island and the Lekwiltok from a century before. In addition, she recorded memories of the Douglas Treaty from Joe Wyse [Quen-Es-Then), as interpreted by his wife Jennie Wyse, and published his account in the Victoria Colonist. Although she was not trained as a journalist or anthropologist, Cryer was careful to keep track of the sources of the narratives, enabling ethnographers who came afterwards to trace their origins and better understand their meanings. Her associations with the Coast Salish led to the publication of her book slanted towards children called The Flying Canoe: Legends of the Cowichans (Victoria: J. Parker Buckle Printing, 1949). She died in Welland, Ontario, in 1980. Cryer's contributions to coastal ethnology were subsequently edited by Chris Arnett for Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'qumi'num' Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island (Talonbooks 2007).

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'q'umi'num Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island


BOOKS:

Cryer, B.M. The Flying Canoe: Legends of the Cowichans (Victoria: J. Parker Buckle Printing, 1949).

Beryl Mildred Cryer. Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'qumi'num' Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island (Talonbooks 2007). Edited by Chris Arnett. 978-0-88922-555-8 $24.95

Book cover: Illustration by Betty Campbell Newton

[BCBW 2007] "Kidlit" "First Nations" "1900-1950"

Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand
Publisher's Promo (2007)



A vital collection of writings about First Nations people and culture as it existed on the island coasts of the Depression-era Pacific Northwest and originally published in the pages of Victoria’s oldest newspaper, The Daily Colonist, the 70 stories included here are the result of a unique collaboration between a middle-aged woman, Beryl Cryer, of upper-class British ancestry, and well-known Hul’q'umi’num’-speaking cultural elders, keenly aware of the punitive anti-land claims legislation passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1927, and therefore eager to have their stories told and published.

Mary Rice from Kuper Island, who lived next door to the Cryer family home in Chemainus, BC, is well remembered even today for her storytelling abilities; she taught Beryl Cryer, with whom she became close friends, countless aspects of indigenous culture, particularly as experienced by women. An elder in a thriving native culture, she introduced Cryer to the many other authorities from whom these stories were gathered for the newspaper.

Although she was not a trained anthropologist, Beryl Cryer was an honest observer and careful recorder. She embellished the material she collected with minor anecdotal introductions that give the reader a vivid sense of the person telling the story. The accounts themselves are valuable documents of Coast Salish oral traditions dealing with a wide range of subject matter from known sources, almost all of whom were well-versed in English.

Two Houses-Half Buried in Sand
Article



Raised in the Shawnigan area of Vancouver Island, at Chemainus, by her very English parents Mr. and Mrs. Richmond Beauchamp Halhed, Beryl Mildred Cryer was born Beryl Mildred Halhed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1889.

Having arrived at Shawnigan Lake in 1892, she later maintained the area received its name from a hybrid word commemorating two early Anglo settlers, Shaw and Finnegan. She married local businessman William Claude Cryer and they had one child.

During the Depression, at the request of the managing editor of the Daily Colonist newspaper in Victoria, she collected Coast Salish stories from Hul’q’umi’num’ elders, mainly her next door neighbour Mary Rice from Kuper Island, as well as Joe and Jennie Wyse, for a series of 60 articles that appeared in the Sunday Magazine supplement.

For instance, also co-wrote an article with Jennie Wyse (Tstass-Aya) for the Daily Colonist about a battle between the Snunéymuxw of Gabriola Island and the Lekwiltok from a century before.

Although she was not trained as a journalist or anthropologist, Cryer was careful to keep track of the sources of the narratives, enabling ethnographers who came afterwards to trace their origins and better understand their meanings.
Her associations with the Coast Salish led to the publication of her book slanted towards children called The Flying Canoe: Legends of the Cowichans (Victoria: J. Parker Buckle Printing, 1949). She died in Welland, Ontario, in 1980.

Cryer’s contributions to coastal ethnology were subsequently edited by Chris Arnett for Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul’q’umi’num’ Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island (Talonbooks $24.95).

978-0-88922-555-8

[BCBW 2008]