P00641The early European settlement days were characterized by a surplus of men. Whether they were Fort employees, sailors, or gold seekers, the new arrivals were generally men without women.

These men soon began to meet and marry native women whose families came to trade at the Fort. Some families had been “Christianized” through contact with missionaries and were familiar with European dress and gradually gained skills in English. They played a very important role in the early days of our community, providing domestic support for men working hard to clear land and build housing and they provided the first children to the settlement.

In later days, the newly formed government of the colony began to import English women — as nannies and housekeepers [at least that was what was claimed] — but it was more to help civilize this unruly group of men and provide them with proper English brides.

Many a man then fled to the bush with his “country” or native wife as English women were precisely what they had emigrated to escape. They represented custom, class, church, and manners that most of these menfolk had gleefully abandoned.