Carl Konstantin Walkeapää

Carl Whitehead
Carl Whitehead

Allow me to introduce the designer and builder of Hammond Forever House and four more houses on our block. Carl Konstantin Walkeapää was born in Finland in 1889 and bought 5 lots on our block in 1922 with his first wife Lempi.

Carl’s name changed twice. His daughter Julie (Leanne’s Mom) writes:

My father, Carl Whitehead, was known as C.K. Olson when he first immigrated to Canada at the age of 18.  The immigration officials saw his father’s name was Ollie Walkeapää and gave him the name of Olson (Ollie’s son) instead of Walkeapää.

Carl worked in Powell River on the pulp mill there before moving to Chase and working there for 8 years.  Carl married a Finnish widow, Lempi, who had two daughters, Ethel and Ellen, from her first marriage.   Carl moved the family to Hammond and started to work at the Hammond Cedar Mill.  He purchased a small house and property from a Swedish bachelor whose last name was Dahlberg. Mr Dahlberg made wooden benches and fern stands and I have some samples of his work.  Carl rented a box car and brought a second hand dining set from owners of an ice cream parlour in Chase. Beds and 2 cows also came to Hammond in that box car.   Carl had a small farm on the property which he purchased April 18, 1922.  He built a larger home [Hammond Forever House] on the same property  just south of the original home in 1923.

Carl’s son Jim, Julie’s elder brother, remembers this:

I know dad had been given the name Charlie Olson by the border agent when he entered Canada from the USA shortly after the San Francisco earthquake (1907). I assume he had been living in the SF area. The nickname “Charlie”  comes from Charlie Olson: Dad did not like be called Charlie, as his name was Carl Konstantine.

I teach English to new immigrants and many of them struggle with the decision whether or not to change their name. Some of their names are quite difficult for native English speakers to pronounce, but often it is simply difficult for us to remember a name we are unfamiliar with.

It was common practice 100 years ago for Canadian immigration officials to change immigrants’ names unilaterally. In my father’s family tree the Norweigian surname Rogne was changed to Rodney.

With this in mind, I advise my students that changing the name they inherited from their ancestors is a personal choice and they should not feel obligated to do it just because people they meet here have trouble with it. But I digress…

Julie, my mother-in-law, told me it was her mother, Carl’s second wife Anna (Leanne’s grandmother), who suggested he change his surname to a literal translation of Walkeapää: Whitehead. He followed her advice and the following announcement appeared in the local Gazette:

Nov. 15, 1928
C.K. Olson, of Port Hammond, wishes to change his name to “Carl Whitehead” (same address). He so made application on September 24, 1928, in the B.C. Gazette.

The house is now commonly referred to as The Whitehead Residence.

The Hammond Cedar Mill is still the largest cedar mill in the world. Carl died in 1969, a few years after he retired from his job there as a sawyer.

Carl Whitehead retires from the mill
Carl Whitehead retires from the mill

Postscript: One of my neighbours read this post and knew who the man shaking Carl’s hand was! It was the mill manager of the day, Frank Pendleton.


Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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