Richard Chapple (also spelled Chappel and Chapelle), was born in England in 1824, and came to Canada in 1848, at the age of 24. He is first mentioned in the 1871 directory, as a farmer in the Nanaimo district.
In 1862, a child, Margaret Sutton, was baptized and took the Chapple surname. A year later, Richard was married to Mary, (a woman of the Tongass people of southern Alaska). The couple had three sons and a daughter, two of whom died in 1873. Mary died a year later, when she fell from the gangplank of a steamer in Nanaimo harbour on November 28, 1874, and drowned. “A little boy”, her son, is mentioned as accompanying her in the press reports of the time.
We get glimpses of Richard’s life from contemporary newspaper accounts. He complained of his taxes (23/12/76), and they were adjusted. He built the wharf in False Narrows (19/9/83)–three years later (29/9/86) it was falling down, and he repaired it, helped by Thomas McGuffie. He opened a market in Nanaimo, where he sold suckling pigs for Christmas in 1883 — but the market closed the following year (10/9/84). He was appointed foreman of roads at “the lower end” of the island in 1887. He was struck on the head by a colt in 1889, but recovered. He planted 20 acres of oats in 1892 (26/2), and, in July of 1893, took to Nanaimo “a quantity of Rose potatoes, the largest and finest brought to the city this season” according to the Free Press.
We know that he was charitable (he donated $2.50 to the widows and orphans of the Nanaimo mine disaster in 1887), a good dancer (he “astounds all the company with his dancing skill” at the Shaw’s silver wedding anniversary in 1886), and a good friend (he served as pall-bearer at the funeral of Magnus Edgar in 1894). There is also reason to suspect that he was firm in his beliefs. In 1894, he and H Petersen, disagreeing about the results of the election of school trustees, rowed to Victoria together to interview the superintendent of education there about the rights of the matter. (Unfortunately, we do not know the outcome of their consultation.)
Both sons attended the Gabriola North School, where they did moderately well. Joseph, the younger, was apparently a bit wild–his name appears a number of times in the Free Press, his brother William’s, never. He appeared before the magistrate in 1883, charged with breaking into William Hoggan’s house and stealing apples. The case was dismissed with a warning. Three years later, when Joseph was 15, his father posted a notice in the newspaper that he would not be responsible for his son’s debts. A year later, Joseph was swimming with others in Rocky Bay when one of his companions–Charles Le Boeuf–drowned. Shortly after that (September 7, 1887), Joseph assisted in rescuing three men thrown from a small boat when halfway to Gabriola. In 1894, he “shot a monster panther on his farm… [It] measured 8 feet 7 inches and was quite… old….
Joseph was gone from Gabriola by the time of the 1901 census, leaving Richard and William to run the farm. Joseph lived on Saltspring for a time, but for him, Gabriola was always home, and by 1920, after his father’s death, he came back. Neither brother ever married, but their adopted sister, Margaret, married a James R Shephard of Nanaimo in 1876, when she was sixteen. A daughter, Isabella Silvia Gertrude Shephard, was born on Gabriola ten months later, and a child of Isabella’s second marriage — Mr. J. Shouldice — provided details for the death registration of William Chapple in 1948, identifying himself as a “nephew-in-law”.