Frederick Sidney Williams
1908 - 1991
Frederick Sidney Williams was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, on October 14, 1908. He moved to the Comox Valley with his family in 1921 and his teacher at the time, Bill Stubbs, got Williams interested in acting and later went on to direct Sid's first play.
As a businessman Williams co-owned the Ski-Tak Hut when it first opened on Forbidden Plateau and he also owned Searle's Shoes for a time on 5th Street in downtown Courtenay. He served as a Courtenay Alderman from 1942 to 1964 and also served on the board of the Courtenay Recreation Association (CRA) and was involved with many community projects. However, it was Williams ability to make people laugh and his incredible contribution to the theatre in the Comox Valley that he will be best remembered for, although, most people probably remember "Sid" as an actor. Throughout his life he performed countless roles, including guest appearances on the television program The Beachcombers. Undoubtedly, Sid William's most famous character was that of Century Sam, an old prospector who came back to life in 1958 and toured the province to celebrate British Columbia's centenary. Williams took Century Sam (and other characters) on tour with the Barkerville Players for fourteen seasons. In 1967 he did a nationwide tour for Canada's centennial celebrations.
Among his many accolades, the most notable are being made Freeman of the City of Courtenay in 1968; the Eric Hamber award in 1963 for his outstanding contribution in the field on theatre and the Order of Canada for his irrepressible humour and service to others in 1984.
However, Williams also loved the outdoors and made many trips into the mountains surrounding Courtenay and into Strathcona Provincial Park. In the summer of 1935 he attempted an ascent of the Roosters Comb (Golden Hinde) with another local mountaineer W. A. [Adrian] B. Paul. At the time it was believed that the Roosters Comb was unclimbed. Although they got close, they unfortunately ran out of time. With knowledge of the route Williams again decided to make another attempt in July 1936 with Geoffrey Capes and the young teenager Roger Schjelderup. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the base camp for the Roosters Comb they found that the surveyor Norman Stewart and his assistant Dan Harris had made the ascent that day, however, neither parties realized that Einar Anderson had assisted W. W. Urquhart and W. R. Kent to the summit while they surveyed and photographed the park during the summers of 1913 and 1914. Williams, Capes and Schjelderup believed they had made the second ascent but history now records theirs as the third.
Another of Williams' passions was the lure of precious metals. In the summer of 1946, Sid Williams and Jimmy Aston searched for the telltale signs of colour in the rocks of the Forbidden Plateau. Near Strata Mountain they found a favourable gold vein and the next year built a cabin (Sid's Cabin) as their base for further investigations. Unfortunately, it never made them rich but the cabin is still there for hikers and climbers to use today.
Sid Williams passed away in Courtenay on September 26, 1991, at the age of ninety-two. To further honour Sid Williams, Courtenay's Civic Theatre was named after him in 1991, while in the mountains of Strathcona Provincial Park near the Comox Glacier is Century Sam Lake.
Hagen, Judy. "More to Sid Williams than Acting." Comox Valley Echo. [Courtenay, B.C.] (March 13, 2007) p. A9.
"Castle Mountain is Picturesque." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (August 2, 1928) p. 1 & 4.
Hughes, Ben. "Exploring Centre of Island." Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (September 13, 1934)