Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Sir Donald McQuilkan, (senior and junior) Baronets, 1830-24/6/1900; 1860-12/10/1947.

This story began as that of Mr (or Sir) Donald McQuilkan, who was a prominent character in the history of the Otago Tramping Club and the interesting inhabitant of a place which was close to the City of Dunedin and yet quite isolated.  Slight initial confusion came to a realisation that there were two men in the area of that name, father and son.  They are both worthy of discovering, especially as the son's local education at the school which opened around 1868 would seem to have been fueled by a general love of knowledge which must have come from his parents.

Donald McQuilkan senior was born in 1830 and came to New Zealand from Scotland, apparently via Tasmania, in 1862.  His son, Donald, is listed in the Dunedin City Council cemetery records as having been born in New Zealand, so that must have occured soon after the family's arrival, although the dates do not quite work.  Donald senior's wife, Isabella, died in 1918 and is recorded as having arrived in NZ in 1872 but, with her son being born in NZ in 1862, I would say that is a miscalculation.

Donald senior first appears in the results from "Papers Past" as applying for two blocks of land in 1862, totalling 227 acres (about 91ha).  

In 1878, part of that land in the Silverstream Valley was taken from him under the auspices of the Public Works Act for the construction of the Silverstream Water Race which took drinking water from the stream to Dunedin.

A letter was read from Mr Donald McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, objecting to a race or aqueduct going through his land, sections 46 and 47, block IV., Dunedin and East Taieri, on the ground that it cut up his land and rendered a part of it useless, besides depriving him of the water which he required. Referred to the Water Supply Committee.   -Otago Daily Times, 21/11/1877.

This story puts McQuilkan's farm - or, at least, part of it - in the area which I grew up knowing as Whare Flat - the small area bound by hills and with a couple of small farms still in pasture.  Sections 46 and 47 do not, however, straddle the creek bearing his name.  Sligo's (aka Cameron's, aka Kay's) Creek is the one whose water he claims to be deprived of.  The old intake weir can still be found there.
Not long after that notice, Mr Donald McQuilkan forwarded a claim against the Dunedin City Council for loss and damage to his property for L300 (about $52,000 now).

An 1880 advertisement, seeking a schoolmaster for the Whare Flat School, is signed by him as Secretary of the School Committee.  

In the latter half of the 1880s, Donald lost three daughters; Catherine who died in Dunedin Hospital in 1886, Johanna, who was married and moved to Tapanui in 1884 and Elizabeth who married in 1888.  His two sons, Donald jr. and Murdoch were left - although Murdoch left to work on the Tapanui farm.

Knowles—McQuilkan — On the 28th May, at the residence of the bride's father, Whare Flat, by the Rev. R. R. M. Sutherland, Kaikorai, Charles H. Knowles,Tapanui, to Elizabeth Johanna, eldest daughter of D. McQuilkan, Whare Flat.  -Mataura Ensign, 17/6/1884.

THE Friends of Mr Donald McQuilkan are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of his late daughter, Catherine, which will leave the Dunedin Hospital To-morrow (Sunday), the 27th inst, at 11 o'clock a.m., via the Halfway Bush road, passing the junction of Whare Flat road about 12.30 p.m., for the place of interment in the East Taieri Cemetery. 
A. AND T. INGLIS, Undertakers, George street, Dunedin.   -Evening Star, 26/6/1886.

Although Catherine died in the city of Dunedin, at the hospital, it was from her family home that the procession took her to the East Taieri Cemetery.

The location of that family home, as seen in the next newspaper story, is a place named as Springbank.  This is a clue as to the initial residence of the McQuilkan family.  The name occurs in references to a farm in North-East Valley, another on Saddle Hill and an inn in East Taieri, "halfway between Dunedin and Taieri Ferry."

"Springbank" in North-East Valley is noted in an 1868 advertisement as being owned by a Mr William Lindsay (possibly the man after whom the Creek is named) which would rule it out as McQuilkan's residence.  "Springbank" in East Taieri, also referred to as "Springbank View" seems likely but also seems to be ruled out as being owned by a Mr Callender in 1872.  There is only one reference to a "Springbank" in the Whare Flat area.  It is possible that the site of their home is close to the weir mentioned above - a visit to it reveals ivy still growing - a good indication of a house site.

McLeod—McQuilkan. — On the 30th November at the residence of the bride's parents, Springbank, Whare Flat, by the Rev. R. R. M. Sutherland, John McLeod to Johanna, second eldest daughter of Mr Donald McQuilkan.  -Otago Witness, 7/12/1888.

As a speaker of the Gaelic, Donald senior was a member of the local Society and was elected to the Council of the Gaelic Society in 1890.  In August 1894, the Society presented him with a "New Zealand grass tree walking stick...suitably inscribed" on the occasion of his leaving Dunedin to visit Scotland.  The grass tree would seem to be the dracophyllum, a very recognsable plant found above the treeline in the Dunedin hills.

The Society was read, the following month, a letter from him "giving a graphic description of scenes and incidents in the Ben Doran district."

On his return he was warmly welcomed by his friends.

The monthly meeting of this society was held on Wednesday night in the Oddfellows' Hall, Stuart street, there being a large attendance, over which Messrs D. C. McDonald and D. Munro, vice-presidents, presided, in the absence of Mr Dugald McLachlan. Mr Munro, in opening the meeting, among other things mentioned how pleased all present would be to see in their midst once more their old friend Mr D. McQuilkan, after a trip to the Home country. He was sure they would be very glad to hear from his own lips how he had fared since they had last seen him. Mr McQuilkan thereupon delivered a fluent speech in Gaelic. After thanking the society for the New Zealand walking stick they had presented him with on the eve of his departure, he mentioned that, with steam navigation, no one might be in the least frightened to take a trip to Scotland and back. No doubt his hearers would ask what changes he had observed in the Highlands after an absence of some two score years. He had noticed very great changes, some for the better and some for the worse. He noticed good houses erected where poor ones or none at all had stood in his young days. But, on the other hand, he noticed that where a number of families had existed in comparative comfort in the old days, clearances had been made and the ground converted into large holdings. The Crofters' Commission had done a deal of good in many places in obtaining for small tenants security of tenure, reduction of rents, and cancellation of arrears; but it was deplorable still to see so much of the country under sheep and deer. He had gone specially to see Duncan Ban's monument, at which he met an English tourist on the same errand bent. He had also visited Ben Doran, Fiunary (the birthplace of Dr Norman Macleod), and other places of interest, which he might describe more fully on some future occasion.   -Otago Daily Times, 8/12/1894.

The Gaelic Society (excerpt)

Mr James Muir delivered a short address, in the course of which he read a letter from the Rev. Mr Dixon, who had recently officiated in the First Church. Mr Dixon was of Celtic descent, and had hearty sympathy with the work carried on by the Burns Club and the Gaelic Society in keeping alive memories of the Old Land. Mr Muir afterwards gave a recitation, 'Scotch Words,' in excellent style. Mr Donald McQuilkan addressed the meeting in Gaelic on reminiscences of Clachan Glendernail, in which he communicated much interesting information.   -Evening Star, 5/9/1895.

In April of 1897, a "Miss McQuilkan" is reported as leaving the port of Dunedin in the SS Anglian for Sydney.  It would seem that she was bound for a further port:

MacPhail—McQuilkan — On the 7th July, at 262 Bath street, Glasgow, by the Rev. Wm. MacGregor, M.A., Renfield Free Church, Dugald A. W. MacPhail to Margaret McQuilkan, youngest daughter of Donald McQuilkan, Esq., Whare Flat, Otago, New Zealand.  -Otago Witness, 26/8/1897.

A short time after the Scottish wedding of his youngest daughter, Donald McQuilkan senior moved to Broad Bay, on the Otago Peninsula.  Presumably he had retired from the hard life of farming and moved to a harbourside village, or perhaps a smaller, easier farm.


McQUILKAN.— On the 26th June, at his residence, Broad Bay, Donald McQuilkan; aged 70 years. Deeply regretted.  -Otago Witness, 28/6/1900.

The grave of Donald and Isabella (1842-1918) McQuilkan, Portobello Cemetery.  DCC photo.


...and just the other day we had to record the demise of one of the first and most faithful and esteemed friends of the society — Mr Donald McQuilkan, of Broad Bay, formerly of Whare Flat. From want of easy access to the city, we had not enjoyed so much of his company latterly as in former years, but his heart was always true to his Celtic traditions and not long before his decease he obtained from the Gaelic library, the reading of the "Book of the Dean of Lismore" for the purpose of studying the ancient specimens of Gaelic literature therein contained. He did not live to give the society the benefit of this study, but his memory will remain green as long as there are any of the older members alive.  -Otago Witness, 19/7/1900.

"want of easy access to the city" was a reality for Donald - compared to the familiar walk into town over the southern side of Flagstaff, travelling from Broad Bay would be a much longer walk or a ferry and/or a train to the city.

TO THE EDITOR. Sir, — I yesterday visited Whare Flat, and was amply rewarded by the sight of "the golden kowhai, prodigal of wealth," which native flowering tree may now, and for another week or so, be seen in all its pristine glory. The tuis have returned in thousands to suck the honey from the flowers of the kowhai tree, and Mr Donald McQuilkan, the society's ranger, wishes it to be known that they are protected by law, and that he is invested with ample powers, which he will not hesitate to use against all and sundry transgressors who may feel inclined to break the law by shooting or otherwise destroying these beautiful feathered songsters, the loveliest birds that still remain in our native forests.
— I am, etc., J. Wycliffe Baylie. Dunedin, September 15.  -Otago Witness, 19/7/1900.

The Rev. Baylie would probably have been visiting his nephew, Mr Benjamin Rudd, later to become the "hermit of Flagstaff."

McQUILKAN.—In loving memory of Donald, beloved husband of Isabella McQuilkan; died June 26, 1900, Broad Bay. 
God in His wisdom has recalled 
The boon His love had given, 
And though the body moulders here 
The soul is safe in Heaven.  -Otago Daily Times, 29/6/1901.

Donald junior took over the family farm.  As under his father's tenure, the pages of local papers include the dry figures of stock sales from the farm among the more interesting references.

The kowhai trees at Whare Flat attract many town residents to that Highland resort, situated about nine miles from Dunedin, in September and October each year, the ordinary season for their blooming. This year has however, been phenomenal in one respect. One of the trees, instead of waiting till September, has burst out in full bloom in the middle of June, and at the present time presents a perfect picture of bright yellow flowers. Mr McQuilkan, a local resident, who takes considerable interest in natural history, has brought us a branch of the bloom, and states that the tuis, mokis, and other native birds are busily engaged extracting the nectar from the open flowers. Our informant further states that the tuis are fast disappearing from the locality, the result, no doubt, of the depredations of the number of small boys who visit the district from the city on holidays, and in their spare time. For a couple of years past a tui, which has evidently escaped from captivity, has been noticeable in the district by his varied whistling accomplishments, great care evidently having been bestowed upon him by his quondam owners.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/6/1904.

In April of 1904, Donald lost all of his harvested oat crop and his nearby outbuildings, due apparently to a young boy smoking a cigarette on top of one of the stacks.

A few friends met at the home of the McQuilkan family at Whare Flat on Friday afternoon in order to mark in a practical way the sincere sympathy of their many friends in the loss they had sustained by the fire which destroyed all their corn stacks, outbuildings, etc., on Good Friday last. Mr McCurdy, on behalf of the subscribers, said he had a very pleasant duty to perform, and that was to hand over the result of their efforts in the form of a purse containing 58 sovereigns. They all knew that this would not by any means recoup their loss, but it was as a mark of good feeling offered in a practical form, which they hoped the receivers would appreciate. Mr Donald McQuilkan returned thanks for the unexpected kindness shown by their friends, and he assured all that their kindness would never be forgotten, and their handsome offering would be much appreciated. After a few songs had been rendered, concluding with "Auld lang syne," the company dispersed.  -Otago Witness, 15/6/1904.

Farming life in the Silverstream Valley was hard, as shown by the gradual loss of the original settler families over the years after the water race was built.  It is surmise on my part that the loss of his oats and stable was a heavy one for Donald and he could not afford to replace them.  His neighbours would also have little to spare - but spare it they did, knowing that bad luck could also strike them without warning.
Newspapers of this period make reference to the "Messrs McQuilkan" - it would seem that Donald's brother Murdoch, who had been working on their sister's farm at Tapanui, had returned to take the place of their father.
Donald, ever the lover of his surroundings, was enthusiastic over the glories of the kowhai when it came into flower each Spring.  His enthusiasm was infectious.

TO THE EDITOR. Sir, After reading your local in Tuesday's issue, my wife and I determined to take a day off and visit the kowhai at Whare Flat. On Wednesday, taking the Kaikorai tram at 10.30, we reached the terminus at 10.40, and were agreeably surprised at the celerity and smoothness with which the car travelled. Following the road, which leads straight up the hill in a direct line from the car terminus, we passed Ashburn Hall. A quarter of a mile beyond this we saw a notice board. "To Flagstaff," indicating a road to the right: but as we had instructions to "follow the road we were on straight ahead," we left that road severely alone, remarking that it was a thoughtful consideration to the stranger, as otherwise he might have turned off there. A mile further on we inquired of a farmer, and he told us we were right off the track, and going to the Taieri Plain — that we should have turned off where the notice board directed "To Flagstaff." Now Flagstaff is so very obvious that such a notice is hardly necesssary, and really should have read "To Whare Flat'' for when you reach the top of the hill a bridle track branches off to the right, leading up Flagstaff saddle. The view from this point, of the Taieri Plain to the south and of the Upper Harbour to the east, with Musselburgh, Anderson's Bay, and the ocean beyond, is exquisite. It was a warm, still day, and the haze which hangs over distant land and seascapes in such perfect weather produccd a series of enchanting pictures. As we continued our way down the winding road the scene was entirely changed. To the right rose the rugged boulder-strewn Flagstaff, and in front steep, rocky hills, with deep, narrow valleys, recalling memories of "Caledonia, stern and wild," or the scenery amongst our own West Coast fiords. The road winds around the sides of spurs and gullies, past the Nordrach Sanatorium, until a mile or so beyond a notice nailed to a gate on the left of the road informed us that "Persons with dogs or guns are not allowed to trespass on this property.'' My wife, with the intuitive perception peculiar to ladies, suggested that this was the entrance to the Kowhai domain; but I scoffed at the idea, having in my mind the word "flat" — a most suggestive word, — and, seeing no sort of resemblance to anything approaching level ground, said we must go on. A quarter of a mile further on, looking to the left, we saw several kowhai trees in full bloom on the banks of a stream. A local resident directed me to go right across the paddock the entrance to which was the very gate I had refused to admit could be the correct way. He also added: Go along the edge of the bush till you find a track leading to the stream; cross that, and find Mr McQuilkan's house on the other side — the best kowhai trees are there, and Mr McQuilkan, being an enthusiast on the subject, will be glad to show you where the best can be found." At this time it was just two hours since we had left the Kaikorai tram terminus, and, as I know from experience we walk at the rate of four miles per hour, I should say we had walked nearly eight miles over a road which is rather rough for a lady. We negotiated the wire fence and got into the bush, and, nature clamouring loudly for refreshment, we had our lunch under the shade of a kowhai in full bloom, wherein the beautiful tui birds, rasping with delight, were having a right royal feast of the honey in the flowers. We struck the track and crossed the stream, and found numbers of kowhais in full bloom and others in bud, with last year's seed pods hanging in quantity; and, wandering along the banks of the stream to which the bush is confined, we found all sorts and shapes of kowhais — some tall, with a gorgeous tuft of golden flowers; others like shrubs, with flowers hanging low down, but all with a charm of their own; and the beautiful trees, not being in groups, but scattered here and there amongst, the other trees, lighted up the bush with a glory to be seen, not described. But although I went exploring I failed to find any traces of Mr McQuilkan's house, so I suppose we only found one of the tracks which doubtless occur frequently along the course of the stream. Possibly we should have crossed the stream lower down, as, following up stream on our return we should have come across the house. We got out on to the road by the gate already referred to, and after a pleasant but rather hard walk back to the Kaikorai car we reached home at a quarter past 5. Whare Flat is a misnomer so far as the kowhai tree domain is concerned, though there may be a flat further on. My wife facetiously, if not wickedly, suggests that the name was complete without visible evidence of anything level - when I arrived! Mr McQuilkan in his contribution to your Tuesday's paper said the flowers would be at their best for another fortnight, and to those who possess time and inclination a visit will amply repay the trouble of the journey. Ladies should, however, not walk the whole way. The better plan is to go by vehicle to the top of the hill (Flagstaff Saddle), and walk the rest of the way. Apart altogether from the beauty of the kowhai trees, the scenery en route is comprehensive, diversified, and most beautiful. — I am, etc., D. C.  -Otago Daily Times, 15/9/1906.

At time of writing, in winter, a visit to the area where Donald and Christina lived will not be full of the kowhai and tui.  As part of a wider exploration of the Whare Flat area and its history, I have found some of the big, beautiful kowhai that Donald loved.  I will be there with my camera when they flower this spring.

In the course of a conversation, Mr Donald McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, recently mentioned to a member of the Times staff that a steep hillside on a portion of his property was, about 20 years since, the home of what Mr McQuilkan said was then known locally as the laughing jackass. The birds frequented the hillside in question in great numbers, and their nests were like the burrows of rabbits. Like the bat they were hardly ever seen out until night approached, when the birds came out of their nests and made night hideous with their weird and disconcerting cries-so much so, Mr McQuilkan said, that strangers when visiting the district, had an uncanny feeling that they had got into the region of lost souls. The birds quickly succumbed to the ferrets and weasels that were liberated to encompass the destruction of rabbits, and it is many years since one was seen in the district. It may be mentioned that the so-called laughing jackass was an aquatic night bird, known to ornithology as the prion Banksii. Dr Benham informs us that in the trip made by a number of scientists to the islands south of New Zealand last year the prion was frequently heard at night by the members of the expedition.   -Otago Witness, 7/10/1908.

Taieri County Council

Mr D. McQuilkan, Whare Flat, wrote urging the necessity of a concrete water trough being erected on the top of Flagstaff in place of the existing wooden one. The road close by also needed repair. —Cr Gow undertook to report to the next meeting of the council on this matter, and the letter was received.    -Otago Daily Times, 28/2/1914.

While cycling over the Whare Flat road some years ago, and nearing the top of the hill and the car park known as the "Bull Ring" I found the concrete horse trough which no doubt was duly built. It is impossible now to see from a car these days.  On walking up the modern walking track known as the "Skyline Walk," you will pass through a small patch of bush and over a tiny creek, which supplies the trough before flowing down the side of the road.

In August, 1914, Donald's brother Murdoch is named on the roll of C Squadron of the Otago Mounted Rifles, then camped at Tahuna Park, Dunedin, and preparing to embark for the war in Europe.  He had three years' service with the local volunteer mounted unit known as the "Otago Hussars."

Donald stayed and worked the farm, his sister Christine became involved with the Otago Patriotic Fund.

BARTLETT. — On December 8, 1915, killed in action at the Dardanelles, Frederick Henry Bartlett, dearly beloved husband of Nellie Bartlett, and eldest son of Mr and Mrs H. J. Bartlett, of Nairn street, Kaikorai; aged 24 years. 
He gave his life for his country. 
McQUILKAN. — At Alexandria Hospital. Murdoch (12th Otago Mounted Rifles), youngest son of the late Donald McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, and late of Broad Bay. Deeply and truly mourned. 
When his Country's call came he did not hesitate.  -Otago Daily Times, 7/1/1916.

Trooper Murdoch's military record is one of the many available online through NZ Archives.  It shows he was a farmer, born in April, 1875, and so aged 30 when he died. He had served for three years in the Otago Hussars, which became part of the Otago Mounted Rifles with the beginning of the Great War.  He saw action at Gallipoli and was admitted to the hospital at Alexandria with severe frostbite on December 3rd, 1915. He died there of dysentery on the 16th.  

The frostbite diagnosis seems strange as a different page on his record shows him admitted to an earlier hospital with enteritis (2/12/1915) which progressed to dysentery with no mention on that page of frostbite.  The home newspapers, however, mention that condition several times.

Murdoch's service medals were sent to his next-of-kin, his brother Donald.  His name appears on the Cenotaph in Mosgeil.

Murdoch McQuilkan | New Zealand War Graves Project
Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery.  Photo courtesy of the NZ War Graves Project.

 At the North Taieri Church on Sunday, the Rev. J. Lymburn made feeling reference to the death of Trooper Murdoch McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, a member of the church, also to the death, by accident, at Brighton, of Ian Kinmont, son of the esteemed neighbouring minister, the Rev. A. W. Kinmont. A resolution of sympathy was passed by the congregation standing. The same resolution was passed at the Whare Flat service.  -Otago Daily Times, 29/12/1915.

A gloom was cast over Whare Flat and the surrounding district on Christmas Eve when news was received that Trooper Murdoch McQuilkan had died from dysentery in the Alexandria Hospital. He was born in Whare Flat, and lived there all his life, being well known and highly respccted for his many sterling qualities. He leaves a large number of friends to mourn his death, and much sympathy is expressed for the bereaved family.  -Otago Daily Times, 7/1/1916.

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The bridge over Cameron's Stream (also known as Kay's and now known as Sligo's) with Kay's house to the right. Donald and Christina McQuilkan lived there later. The poplars and macrocarpas are still there. -Photo: Otago Witness, 3/1/1917.

Just before the end of the war which claimed Murdoch McQuilkan, his and Donald's mother died at the home she had occupied with her husband at Broad Bay.

The Friends of the late ISABELLA McQUILKAN (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend her Funeral, which will leave her late Residence, Broad Bay, at 2 p.m., TO-MORROW (SATURDAY), the 16th inst., for the Portobello Cemetery, passing through Portobello at 2.45 p.m. HUGH GOURLEY, Undertaker.  -Otago Daily Times, 15/1/1918.

The soldier patients from the various city hospitals spent a very pleasant afternoon on Saturday at Whare Flat as the guests of Mr Donald McQuilkan.
The Otago Motor Club provided cars for all who were able to participate in the outing. The men were taken to their destinations via Wakari and as the roads were in splendid order the run proved a most enjoyable one. The drivers of the cars deserve credit for the careful manner in which the cars were driven, as they apparently fully realised that invalid soldiers do not benefit by high speeds. The men were met at Whare Flat by Mr McQuilkan, and escorted to his grounds. The rendezvous was a field nicely sheltered by a belt of kowhai, and as the trees were in full bloom the site was ideal and picturesque. Nothing had been left undone to provide enjoyment for the guests, who were delighted with the arrangements made. Afternoon tea was handed around in generous style and was enjoyed whilst Piper McKillop, of Mosgiel, provided the "orchestra."
At the close of the function Mr G. H. Topp, of Woodside Convalescent Home, in a very neat speech, heartily thanked Mr McQuilkan for his kind thoughtfulness, and on behalf of his comrades expressed their appreciation of the outing given to them. The motor club also received sincere thanks for its share in the day's enjoyment. Mr McQuilkan replied in a characteristically short speech, which was as follows:— "I am glad to have you all here, and the reason" — pointing to a Union Jack flying from a masthead — "There it is." As the men left for home they were each presented with a fern leaf, one and all expressing in grateful terms their thanks for a happy day. Hearty cheers were given by the men for Mr and Miss McQuilkan.   -Otago Daily Times, 11/10/1920.

City Council

This committee recommended: That authority be granted to invite tenders for the erection of a concrete refuse bin and entrance roadway as per plans prepared by the city engineer at an estimated cost of L750, the bin to be located on the site adjacent to the overbridge and abutting on Wharf street, recently secured from Messrs John Mill and Company. 

That the offer from the residents of Oaklands district, Anderson Bay, to contribute the sum of £60 towards the cost of purchasing the land required for extending Duckworth street through to Stirling street, on condition that the council finds the balance of the purchase money amounting to £l20, be accepted, and authority granted to complete the purchase with the owner concerned (Mrs Wilson) at the total price of £120. 

That the offer from Mr Donald McQuilkan to accept the sum of £11 per acre for an area of 151 acres of his land at Whare Flat, on the understanding that £1,000 of the purchase money will not be payable by the council until six months after date of purchase, the vendor receiving interest on such sum in the meantime at the rate of 6 1/2 per cent, per annum, be accepted. The purchase of this property would enable the council to prevent much of the pollution of McQuilkan's Creek, the waters of which it had been found necessary to take in during the summer season. Cr Scott took exception to the suggestion to pay 6 1/2 per cent. interest when the council itself was paying only 6 per cent. He moved as an amendment that the rate be altered to 6 per cent. Cr Hayward seconded the amendment. Cr Taverner pointed out that the loan was for a very short period, and as much as 10 per cent, had been paid elsewhere for a loan covering four months. Cr Wilson said that the land had been got for much less than its value because of the owner's love for the native bush and his desire that it be preserved. The rate of interest was the result of negotiations by the town clerk. The amendment was lost, and the report adopted.  -Evening Star, 18/8/1921.

By O.B. (presumably Oscar Balk, later a founding member of the Otago Tramping Club)
It was a merry party with swags on their backs on one of the fine spring mornings, of recent experience, to enjoy a day or; the hills — the hills which give Dunedin such romantic beauty! To those who make a habit of roaming over them it is over a source of wonder and regret that so few of the dwellers in this city avail themselves of the opportunity of drawing upon this inexhaustible store of health and pleasure, which Nature has placed within such easy reach. With many it is just a want of initiative; they don’t go because they don’t know, and nobody has suggested it to them. If they were invited to join a party they would probably do so, and enjoy the outing to the full. Most of our party had tramped the hills many a time and oft, and were keen to go again as the hills always look a bit different and invariably present fresh aspects of beauty. 
We started from Maori Hill. I promised a visitor from the City of the Plains that I would take him a walk, which for variety of scenery and an entire absence of dull and uninteresting stretches would be hard to match anywhere in New Zealand, or beyond. What could give us a better start than the picturesque golf links, with their velvety tread? Even short-legged “Scotty,” the pet of the party, showed his delight by racing round and barking like a liberated imp. It was here that we left the hard roads, and said good-bye to dust churned up by motors — those servants of modern restlessness and masters of physical deterioration. Down we dipped into a bush-clad gully, till recently and for many years the home of a nature-loving “hermit," and crossed School Creek at its junction with Ross’s Creek. A few minutes’ climb brought us to the reservoir, nestling like a miniature lake among the hills. It is gratifying to notice the improvements which have been made here, and which render it an ideal picnic resort, so close to the city, and yet so far removed from it. 
Following the road for a short distance we strike a by road, which is still covered with green sward, bringing us to the bottom of the bush, right alongside of Ross's Creek, which tempts us to a long, cool drink. Now we have a fairly strenuous climb of 20 minutes up the bush track, rising about 600 feet, but no matter how hot the sun’s rays may be, we are well sheltered from them here. For the botanically inclined there is an endless variety of bush plants and ferns on this track, and further up the hardier species of mountain plants are in evidence. As soon as we emerge from the bush a fine view opens out, but we hold back our admiration till we have circled round to the right, and reached our beloved Pineapple Point. Here is spread before us what is undoubtedly one of the loveliest views in the vicinity of Dunedin. Looking over a foreground of bush we see nearly the whole of the City of Dunedin lying at our feet, with the wide, blue ocean framing the only part of the picture which the green hills leave bare. Now the glasses are brought out, as there is much of interest to see, whether it be the traffic along the winding Leith road up to Sullivan Dam, the reflections in the deep blue water of the reservoir, the shipping at the wharves, prominent buildings round the city (such as the new hospital at Wakari), or the coastline stretching far away to the south past Taieri Island to the Nuggets, nearly 60 miles away. Meanwhile one of the rucksacks has been broached, and a tin of pineapples has been opened. Never did pineapple have a better flavour is the unanimous verdict! Thoroughly refreshed we follow the track along the fence leading up to the saddle, having on our right the wild gully known as Nichol’s, and harbouring in its deep recesses some five or more picturesque waterfalls. While we all feel grateful for the forethought of the early settlers which reserved for all time the Town Belt, and other reserves, we feel that here is a locality which should never have been allowed to pass into private hknds to be so ruthlessly despoiled of its native bush. 
A steady pull brings us ere long to the saddle from which we obtain the first view of the dark and rugged Silver Peaks, and of the snow-clad Rock-and-Pillar range beyond, and the “new-chums” of the party feel that now they see something quite apart from everyday scenes! At this point we also strike the historic old trail running over the hills to Waikouaiti — the first “road” which connected the Otago settlement with the older settlement of whalers at Waikouaiti. It was never used for vehicular traffic, only as a pack and bridletrack, and for bringing cattle over to the New Settlement. “Johnny” Jones would come that way on horseback, when he spied a ship bound for Dunedin with a likely cargo of flour. He had a store in Jetty street, and would address his storeman with. “Martin, how is flour selling to-day?” “At 20s just now, sir,” “Make it 14.” “Very good, sir.” Then there was cheap flour in Dunedin for a few days. When the skipper to his disgust found a poor market in Dunedin and had departed, Jones would tell his storeman to make the price 20s again! There was the commercial instinct, even in those primitive and unsophisticated days! 
Following the old trail towards Flagstaff “trig,” we are presently attracted by a curious pile of broken rocks running in a dead straight line alongside the track for three or four chains, looking for all the world as if they had been built up at one time by masons working with a line, and yet having no apparent object whatever. Many a time we puzzled whether these rocks had been piled up by nature, or the hand of man, and we had discussed many theories regarding their origin. At last some two years ago we had in our party one who had made a study of geology as a practical miner, and who was greatly interested when we took him to these rocks. Without any hesitation he assured us that the hand of man had nothing to do with these rocks, that they were a geological "lode" or “dyke," and that this particular one was well-known among geologists al1 the world over, and that he had more than once looked for it, but had so far been unable to locate it. We were naturally much interested in this explanation, and accepted it implicitly.
Once more we inspected this ancient dyke, and again marvelled at its astonishing straightness. Then we took a new track which crossed it and ran over the hill in the direction of Whare Flat. This track has recently been roughly formed by our old friend, “Ben” Rudd, and leads to his new abode. Some 18 months ago “ Ben” sold out of the property he held for so long and was given an easy billet with comfortable quarters and good food by a resident of Maori Hill, but after a while the Call of the Wild was too strong for him, so he bought a fresh ranch, of rather more than 100 acres, and is now busy putting up a new “home” among rocks and scrub, on one of the sunniest and most picturesque spots on the mountain side. With much toil he has formed the long track, and carried all the material for his hut on his back over the mountain. Now his great concern is again to keep trespassers off his ground, and he lets you know, without a trace of a shadow of a doubt, that nobody has his permission to come on his property, and that he prefers to be entirely left alone. Having been on good terms with him for many years I took my party to his hiding place, and, after expressing our admiration of his garden plot, I asked him, “Ben, you know that dyke running at the top of the hill here? How did it get there?” “Oh, that was built there about 40 year ago by a man named Ross. An old Irishman who lives in the Kaikorai Valley worked on it.” Here was interesting information. I made it my business later on to look up this old Irishman, and heard from him that Ross had the wall built for the boundary of his property, but got tired of it soon after starting. So here evaporated the scientific explanation of the wonderful lode! 
Just on this part of the mountain are some very rough and striking moraines, four of which, at fairly even distances, pointing nearly straight down the mountain side, give Flagstaff such a distinctive appearance among surrounding hills, as a zebra would have among a mob of horses. These “stripes” are quite a feature as you look towards Flagstaff on the walk from Mount Allan to Silver Peak. 
We now make a rapid descent towards the old sanatorium, now part of the water reserves. From this point several tracks may be taken towards Whare Flat, all of them very picturesque. The old coal-pit track past the Craig Lowan waterfall has a wild beauty of its own, and affords some wonderfully pretty peeps of the “Flat” when it comes in view. We decided, however, to sweep round to the right along the road and descend to Kaye’s Creek some chains below the bridge. To see this creek at its best you should go through the gate above the bridge, and keep on the high bank of the creek. Here is an ideal spot for boiling the billy, right under the branches of century-old kowhai trees in full bloom. The conditions are so idyllic that it is difficult to tear oneself away from such an enchanting spot. Whare Flat abounds, however, with beauty spots, and we have a good way to go yet. A little further along towards the house where the owner of this little bit of Heaven resides, we are attracted by a strong manuka growing out of a rock, which it has split and pushed asunder with surprising force. At this stage we are almost sure to fall in with the genial Mr Donald M'Quilkan, who, so far from chasing visitors off' his property, bids them welcome as long as they do no harm to the trees he loves so well. It would be hard to find a greater lover of Nature, or one who appreciates more the extraordinary beauty of the hills and glens among which he has spent his whole life, though frugal be the fare which they provide. From Whare Flat an endless number of trips can be made into the gullies of Silver Stream, Powder Creek, etc., or up the spurs to the top of the Chalkies. Wild pigs are not far to seek, and afford exciting sport in the dense bush. But the kowhai trees are the glory of Whare Flat in the spring, and we linger some time under the rich bloom, and watch the bees busy gathering in the honey. Then we start on the return over Bell’s Hill, from which, as we rapidly rise we obtain fresh and striking views as the declining sun throws long shadows over the dark bush-clad gullies, on the other side of the great valley.
A fairly strenuous climb brings us to a height of 1800 ft (a good 1000 ft over the flat we have just left), and we now approach the “Trough,” where the Expansion League’s comfortable seats invite us to a well-earned spell, and incidentally often afford the best possible view of a glorious sunset.
From here the road is practically all down hill, and taking a short cut across the paddocks and the golf links, we are not long before we reach home.   -Otago Daily Times, 8/10/1921.

A very pleasant evening was spent at Whare Flat on Monday, when the local residents gathered together to bid farewell to Miss and Mr McQuilkan, who have disposed of their property and are leaving the district. A fully representative gathering was there, and advantage was taken to present the guests with a small token of the esteem in which they are held, this taking the form of a travelling rug for Miss McQuilkan and a Morris chair for Mr McQuilkan. The chairman, Mr Wise, one of the oldest residents, in making the presentation, dwelt on the many excellent dualities of Mr McQuilkan and his sister. The recipients suitably responded. An enjoyable musical programme was carried out, and a dance followed.  -Otago Daily Times, 5/1/1922.

The McQuilkans, however, did not leave the district.  They might have intended to do so, and here lies a small mystery.  They eventually occupied the house now known by their name but earlier associated with a Mr Robert Kay, a stone mason, who died at Roslyn in 1905. His wife, Agnes, followed him to the Northern Cemetery the following year.  The stream, bridge and cliffs nearby have all borne the name of Kay.  His skill as a stonemason may be seen in the surviving photos of the house, which show stones laid in courses - layers laid flat in succession as the wall grows - a technique which can be seen in a couple of buildings on the Otago Peninsula but which is relatively rare locally.

Robert Kay is mentioned as being on the Whare Flat School Committee in 1875 and featuring in a dispute over a neighbour's fence in 1896.  On his death he was 68 years old - it is quite possible he had retired to his High St address, as often seems to be the case.  His 120 acre farm and house were for sale in 1882 and then in 1899:

FOR SALE, a GRAZING FARM, 120 Acres, in Whare Flat, 
With substantial stone House and other Buildings. 
The land is all fenced, well sheltered, plenty of firewood, and a never-failing water supply. 

Apply R KAY, High street, Roslyn; 
Or at Whare Flat.    -Otago Daily Times, 3/5/1899.

The water section of the Works Committee reports that the transfer to the council of the property at Whare Flat, purchased from Mr McQuilkan, has now been completed, and the city engineer has been instructed to proceed with the erection of fencing along the boundaries of the creek to keep cattle away from the water. The estimated coat is £137. It is proposed to invite tenders for the grazing lease of the balance of Mr McQuilkan’s land, together with the area adjoining known as McLeod’s, and to let the cottage to a selected tenant. The week-end cribs at present standing by the creek are being taken down and removed.  -Otago Daily Times, 30/1/1922.

The week-end cribs were not the only things removed.  Over the years the Works Committee has made a practice of demolishing structures it has acquired in its cathment area, presumably to prevent contamination of its water by campers and squatters. Donald's last residence did not long survive his death.

Sir, — I read Mr J. Drummond’s “Nature Notes” in the Daily Times with great interest. In the issue of July 25 he has a note on Scottish heather in the Taupo district, and states that it was introduced there about 1891. Shortly after settling in Dunedin, in the 80s, I had occasion to visit Mr McQuilkan at Whare Flat. He directed my attention to some heather growing in the garden of a neighbouring farmer. His story was that Whare Flat had originally been settled by Highlanders in the sixties, and that some of their relatives coming to join those already here brought with them several tufts of rooted heather, and the patch in his neighbour’s garden was the result. His son, Mr Donald McQuilkan, who now holds land there, tells me the heather still exists, but has been sadly depleted by specimen hunters.   -Otago Daily Times, 1/2/1922.

Taieri County Council
W (?) McQuilkan, Whare Flat, notified a bad break in a culvert about two chains below Kays’ bridge. In the meantime he had put a temporary protection around it. — Letter received, Mr McQuilkan to be thanked for his attention to various breaks on the district road.   -Otago Daily Times, 26/5/1923.

The members of the Otago Tramping Club have taken full advantage of the holidays so far, and had some fine outings together. On Saturday afternoon two parties totalling 12 ladies and gentlemen tramped over Flagstaff to Whare Flat, where they were hospitably received by Mr and Miss McQuilkan. On the way they were pleased to note that good progress had been made with the track which Mr Rudd is cutting through the scrub on the slopes of Flagstaff.   -Otago Daily Times, 29/12/1923.

The various property owners on Signal Hill and the St. Clair hills have been interviewed and their permission obtained to facilitate the crossing of fences by the erection of stiles, and the committee hopes to proceed with this work during the coming season. The thanks of the club are due to the property owners in these and other localities for their courtesy in this matter, and for permitting the members of the club to go through their properties without restraint; especially to Mr Donald McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, and the brothers Gilmore, of Kilmog; Mr Jopp and Mr Graham, of Mount Allan; Mr David Malloch, of Waikouaiti; Mr Olsen, of Cecil Peak; and Mr Stewart, of Waipori Falls. As the preservation of all forms of wild life and the conservation of scenery are some of the main objects of the club, all the members of committee were appointed honorary rangers by the City Council.   -Evening Star, 11/10/1924.

At this meeting, Mr Donald McQuilkan was made an honorary Life Member of the Club.
It was during this era that Dunedin-born painter Peter McIntyre, whose mother was born in the Valley, would walk in to explore.  He describes Donald, then living with his sister "Teenie," as "the last of the Scottish settlers who attempted to farm Whare Flat in the old days, and Donald strode about his farm, chin high and bowler on his head, carrying a grubber which he seldom used." ('The Painted Years')  
Young Peter loved to roll rocks down a local cliff and, one fine day, "I had just rolled my first boulder on Saturday when, to my horror, Donald appeared on the flat below, chin high, bowler tilted forward, and grubber on shoulder. The boulder hit a bump on the lower slopes of the cliff, bounded in a tremendous arc through the air and seemed about to obliterate Donald, when he heard my shout. He stood stock still, watched the boulder soar past, then raised his bowler, mopped his brow, and went on his way.
"I went miles around to get to the trout stream without passing his house, but as I sat under the bridge eating my sandwiches there was Donald, gazing at the distant peaks. 'Tis no me ye have to mind, 'tis the cattle.' he said to the wind and the sky, and away he stamped."

TO THE EDITOR. Sir, —Mr W. Wright certainly had the interest of the travelling public at heart when advocating the reconstruction of Kay’s bridge. Living in the vicinity of this bridge I am in a position to know that a great number of motorists have used this road during the summer, and they speak in praise of this round drive. It would be a small matter to put the road in reasonably good order. It is for the different bodies that are interested to carry this necessary work to a satisfactory finish. —I am, etc., D. McQuilkan.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/2/1928.

McQUILKAN.—On May 30th, 1930, at Dunedin, Christina, beloved fourth daughter of the late Donald McQuilkan, of Whare Flat, and sister of Donald McQuilkan, jun., Mrs E. Knowles, Mrs J. McLeod (of Dunedin), and Mrs M. McPhail. (Glasgow). “ With Christ, which is far better.” — The Funeral will leave our premises, 219 George street, on Monday; June 2nd, at 2 p.m., for the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery. Friends, please accept this (the only) invitation. —R. McLean and Son, undertakers.   -Evening Star, 31/5/1930.


There passed away at Dunedin last Friday Miss McQuilkan, a descendant of one of the few original settlers of Whare Flat, the late Mr Donald McQuilkan, sen., a stalwart Highlander of the old school. Miss McQuilkan was born in the district and had resided there practically all her life, covering a period of half a century. She endeared herself not only to her neighbours but to many of our town folk, both old and young, who visit that romantic place on their trampings over our beauty spots or camp in the valley during holiday times. Born with a warm heart, a sympathetic nature, and a simple hospitality, she will he greatly missed by those who knew her. Her remains were laid to rest in the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery yesterday.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/6/1930.

It was around this time that the valley of the Silverstream began to take on its current look - rolling hills whose contours are softened by the dark green of the Monterey Pine, or pinus radiata.  Experimental plantings of this and other trees can still be seen in the Flagstaff area and the trees were planted in bulk to provide erosion control, shade for the water race and future income for the city.  And also to provide work for the unemployed in the Depression years.

Sir, — It appears that there is a movement on foot to have a part of the scenic reserve on Mount Flagstaff planted under trees. It seems surprising that anyone taking an interest in the beautiful city of Dunedin should consider for a moment the planting of any part of this reserve. Since Dunedin became a city, Flagstaff has given pleasure to the public as a holiday resort. Visitors from other centres of New Zealand and from overseas have been charmed with the glorious panoramic view of city, ocean, plain, and mountain. In the near future the city will have a good motor road over Flagstaff to the Taieri Plain, and from the highest part of this road about 20 minutes’ easy climbing will take the traveller to the trig station, the highest point. 
This reserve is certainly a great asset to the city, and the public should, if possible, see that it is preserved as an open space for all time.
— I am, etc., Donald McQuilkan. Whare Flat, April 14.  -Otago Daily Times, 15/4/1931.

The last week-end saw a small company of club trampers with well-filled rucksacks wending their way up from Kaikorai Valley, through the plantation reserve, and round the newly formed motor car road into the scenic beauty spot of Whare Flat. 
The weather was all that could be desired. The sky was clear and blue, visibility good, the atmosphere cool and inviting. Coming into view of Whare Flat, the whole scene partook of the freshness of spring greenery that was delightful, while in the distance the snow still lay in large quantities on the mountains. The sun now came out in glad radiance, and completed the scene of loveliness. 
Arriving at the rendezvous, it was time for the mid-day meal, which, taking the form of a banquet, was prepared at the residence of Mr Donald McQuilkan. This was accomplished by all hands doing their quota towards its preparation, and the meal when partaken of was declared absolutely first class. 
The meal over, opportunity was taken to present to one of the party, Mr S. Angel, who is leaving Dunedin shortly for Hobart, a souvenir of a novel nature. This consisted of a piece of the heart of kowhai which grows on Whare Flat, which had been made into a small folding book form, containing on the inside the signatures of his companions, who have on so many of their tramps been associated with Mr Angel. The outside was decorated with a spray of coloured kowhai from the brush of Mrs P. L. Ritchie. The work was designed and made by Mr James Knox, who deserves great praise for the skill shown in this example of his craftsmanship. The inscription reads: “To Sid Angel from ramblers among the kowhai, on his leaving Dunedin, New Zealand... It is signed by Messrs G. D. Wright, O. Balk, P. L. Ritchie, Donald McQuilkan, and James Knox."
The presentation was made by Mr James Knox. In a few appropriate words, Mr Knox conveyed to Mr Angel the regret felt by the party on his leaving, and expressed the hope that the emblem would remind him of his sojourn in Dunedin. Messrs McQuilkan, Wright, Balk and Ritchie also spoke. 
Mr Angel, in reply, said he was completely taken by surprise. The beauty of the work and the kindly thoughts expressed by his close companions concerning himself had touched him deeply. He thanked them heartily, and promised that he would cherish the gift exceedingly. 
The sojourn in the valley, by the running streamlets and on the grassy slopes filled the remainder of the day. After negotiating Bell’s Hill the return to the city was made, and the day’s outing was completed.   -Otago Daily Times, 7/10/1931.

Donald's protests agains the planting of trees might have carried some weight.  Planting was done in the Silverstream Valley as part of a Council project for unemployment relief during the Depression years.  Single men under canvas planted the pines whose successors still cover the area.

With the opening of a new concrete structure on Saturday, the old wooden bridge known as Kay's Bridge, on the Flagstaff-Whare Flat road, which has served for many years, ended its period of usefulness. The ceremony in connection with the opening of the new bridge was attended by 70 people, who assembled at Mr D. M'Quilkan's residence, the gathering being a very representative one. The Dunedin City Council was represented by Crs Marlow and Begg, the city engineer (Mr J. G. Alexander), and the works engineer (Mr Williams); the Public Works Department by Mr T. M. Ball and Mr W. B. Taverner (ex-Minister of Public Works); the Otago Motor Club by Messrs Williams, Wright and Sutton; the Roslyn Ratepayers', Association by Messrs P. L. Ritchie and Knox; the Taieri County Council by Crs Findlay, Stevenson and Kirk. 
In 1923 the old structure received a very bad shaking as the result of a severe flood in the stream, the foundations being weakened and the bridge made unsafe for heavy loads. The county had a pound for pound grant up to £600 voted by the Government, but it did not feel disposed to erect a new bridge owing to the cost and the fact that settlement in the district was on the wane, and ultimately the road was closed to all traffic. This action by the county caused Mr McQuilkan to redouble his efforts, and he approached the Government with the request that something should be done in the matter. His representations were favourably received by the then Minister of Public Works (Mr W. B. Taverner), with the result that arrangements were concluded by the parties interested, whereby the road from Ashburn Hall to the Whare Flat School was reconstructed, and a new bridge was erected. This should prove of great benefit to the settlers in the district, as well as providing a better means of access to a beauty spot in the vicinity of Dunedin. 
Cr Findlay extended a welcome to those present: He said they were assembled that day to mark the passing of an old landmark and to celebrate the opening of a new and up-to-date concrete arched bridge. That they were in this happy position was largely due to their friend, Mr McQuilkan, who had for a long time directed his energies towards having a new structure erected. The finished work reflected great credit on the district engineer of the Public Works Department and his staff. They had also to express thanks to Mr Taverner for initiating the scheme of reconstruction, and it would be Taieri's effort to keep the road, with the Dunedin City Corporation's assistance, in good surface. He then formally declared the bridge open for traffic. 
Cr Findlay announced that some climbing roses would be planted to celebrate the opening of the bridge and to beautify the spot. 
These were later on planted by Messrs C. Findlay, W. B. Taverner, T. M. Ball, M. Stevenson, Wright, Leishman and McQuilkan. 
Afternoon tea was served, and brief addresses were given by Messrs Taverner, Begg, Ball, Marlow, McQuilkan and Stevenson.  -Otago Daily Times, 1/9/1932.

Over 80 people gathered in the Where Flat School on Tuesday evening on the occasion of the annual visit of the North Taieri Presbyterian Choir. This event is keenly appreciated by the Whare Flat people, who are somewhat isolated from any form of entertainment, and they were not disappointed in the fare provided on this occasion. The choir, under the baton of Mr N. F. Sansom, rendered its anthems in an efficient manner, and the various soloists and elocutionists acquitted themselves well.
A feature of this year’s social was the presence of the young men of the No. 3 relief camp at Whare Flat. Several of the campers provided excellent items, and not the least among them was Mr. Wise, the “father” of the camp, who sang and recited. 
At the conclusion of the gathering Mr Donald McQuilkan, on behalf of the Whare Flat residents, and Mr Wise, on behalf of the relief men, thanked the choir for the entertainment. Mr Sansom replied on behalf of the choir. The programme consisted of anthems by the choir; Bible class song; songs — Mrs Williamson, Miss Wright, and Mr Sansom; duets — Mesdames Williamson and Smellie, Miss Findlay and Mr Sansom; male quartet; elocution, Mrs Sansom; and a playette.  -Otago Daily Times, 2/11/1933.

Three enthusiasts of Whare Flat and its glorious kowhai (from the standpoint of its beautiful flowers, its leaves, and its timber), including Mr Donald McQuilkan, had a table ornament made from a piece of the heart of kowhai (considered over 100 years old, as it was cut over 70 years ago for supports to the old “Kay” bridge there, now superseded by a concrete structure). It took the shape of a circular tray with cup shaped vase as centrepiece, inlaid with 20 pieces, polished, showing the many beautiful variations of our New Zealand native, with two paper knives to match. It was thought fitting, knowing the enthusiastic opinions expressed by his Excellency Lord Bledisloe while here, on many subjects appertaining to forestry, that their Excellencies would cherish such a goodwill offering from these enthusiasts. The articles were accordingly sent to Lord Bledisloe’s address at Home, and now an acknowledgment is to hand, conveying their Excellencies grateful thanks for these kind gifts which are particularly acceptable, as they are both fond of the kowhai. The design was executed by Mr James Knox, of York place, and the gifts were forwarded by Mr P. Leith Ritchie, Roslyn, the other two enthusaists.  -Evening Star, 22/8/1935.

A pleasant little ceremony was enacted last Sunday when an elderly tramping party, consisting of Messrs J. J. Marlow, O. Balk, S. Lawn, G. Wright, J. Knox, and P. L. Ritchie journeyed to Whare Flat to the residence of Mr Donald McQuilkan. The occasion honoured was the imminent departure of Mr Wright for England, and as a memento the presentation was made of a paperknife shaped and designed by Mr Knox from one of the kowhai supports of the “Kay” bridge near Mr McQuilkan’s residence. After several toasts had been honoured the party returned to town by car.   -Evening Star, 13/5/1938.
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Donald McQuilkan's house, built by stonemason Robert Kay.  The house was demolished by the Council shortly after Donald's death.  Photo courtesy of the Otago Tramping Club.

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A similar view of Donald's house, with the road behind.  Photo courtesy of the Otago Tramping Club.

Mr Donald McQuilkan, a Whare Flat resident who is well known to many trampers for his ready hospitality, gave an interesting address at a meeting of the Otago Native Bush Protection Society last night on the native bush in the vicinity of Whare Flat. Mr McQuilkan spoke of the native bush when in its primitive state before white men started to cut and burn it. It then covered Flagstaff and descended to the Harbour’s edge. He referred to trees of great age in the valleys near Whare Flat and made special mention of the kowhai, which, he said, should be New Zealand’s national flower. It was beautiful in bloom, in seeding and when it was old.
In answer to a question concerning the native birds still found at Whare Flat, Mr McQuilkan said that bellbirds and tuis were plentiful, but that there were no native parakeets. 
Beauty Spot Polluted
It was brought before the notice of the meeting that School Creek, which runs behind the Ross Creek reservoir through beautiful native bush, had been polluted, and that the stench from the creek had turned away many people who formerly camped on its banks. It was alleged that refuse was finding its way into the creek, thus causing the pollution. This state of affairs had arisen once before, it was stated, and the trouble had recurred.
It was decided to bring the matter before the notice of the City Council.  -Otago Daily Times, 27/3/1941.

Mr Donald McQuilkan, a farmer, of Whare Flat, well known to Dunedin trampers, died on Sunday at the age of 86 after a short illness. His health had been remarkably good for his advanced years, and until about 18 months ago he walked from his farm to the city every Friday. Mr McQuilkan’s parents emigrated from Scotland, first to Tasmania, where he was born, and then to New Zealand, where they lived in a house at Whare Flat, near the Silverstream. He later moved to Maori Hill, and then in the 1920’s bought one of the pioneer farms in Whare Flat, where he lived until his death.
He spoke Gaelic fluently, and was also interested in the Church, politics, tramping and botany. Mr McQuilkan was not married.   -Otago Daily Times, 15/10/1947.

McQUILKAN.—The relatives of the late Donald McQuilkan wish to Thank their many friends for the kind expressions of sympathy and beautiful floral tributes received during their recent bereavement. Please accept this as a personal acknowledgment.   -Otago Daily Times, 18/10/1947.

With the death of Mr Donald McQuilkan recently, many people of Dunedin felt that they had lost a real friend. His little home at Whare Flat was assuredly one of the best-known landmarks for miles around, and at it many of his friends and acquaintances were wont to foregather. But one did not need to be even an acquaintance to be sure of a warm welcome at that hospitable fireside, where a love of the out-of-doors was sufficient common bond. Even the complete stranger, arriving wet, muddy and bedraggled from the Silver Peaks track or beyond, would be cordially greeted and made at home. 
Once inside there was no mistaking the character of the home or its proud owner. A big open fireplace, a roaring log fire, an iron kettle singing on the hearth; the walls a mass of relics, photos and mementos, mostly with a tang of old Scotland about them, and testifying to the goodwill of many an absent friend. The host himself was a mine of information on a wide variety of subjects. Was it history, or war, or politics, or religion or sport, he had read them all, and was more up to date than most of his town visitors, and on all he could discourse intelligently. One of his treasured possessions was his Visitors' Book, and typical of many entries was that of one well-known citizen, “Enjoyed a cup of tea with one of Nature's gentlemen," a tribute as sincere as it was appropriate. 
Every Friday he would don his bowler hat and tramp six miles to Kaikorai for a few hours in town, where his figure, trim and erect, was well known and might have been the envy of many a man 30 years his junior. Every third Sunday, as long as church services were held at Whare Flat, he took his place. He loved hard work — only last year, at the age Of 85, he cleared an area of heavy broom and planted what proved an excellent crop of potatoes — and his healthy respect for an honest worker was equalled only by his scorn for loafers and idlers. His hospitality was a household word, but so was his respect for property, and as an honorary ranger he was always on the lookout for destruction and vandalism. 
Many years ago Mr McQuilkan was elected a life member of the Otago Tramping Club, for whose members his home was always a happy rendezvous. His happiness and his thoughts were mostly bound up with his home and its picturesque setting — “ Who would live in a smoky city when there is all this lovely fresh air going to waste?” was his cry, and in that was symbolised his philosophy of clean living, good health, and goodwill to his fellow-men. W. S. G.  -Otago Daily Times, 8/11/1947.

I still have early memories of "W.S.G." - Scott Gilkison, keen tramper, author, early member of the Club and a friend of my father.  I hope that at least some of the "mass of relics, photos and mementos" - or at least his visitors' book - survive, perhaps in the home of a descendant.

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Donald McQuilkan jr, in his later years.  Photo courtesy of Otago Tramping Club.

Sir Donald McQuilkan was gone but not forgotten.  He survived in the memories of those early trampers who explored Flagstaff and the Silverstream Valley.

Still A Place Of Many Interests
History Of Flagstaff
In contrast to Ben Rudd was another well-known figure who lived below Flagstaff, in the upper Whare Flat district, Donald McQuilkan, a delightful personality, who for 25 years occupied the old grey stone house built many years before by Robert Kay. His friendly welcome and open door were a constant joy to trampers and visitors. Stranger and friend were made equally welcome at his hearth and table, and his walls, decorated with cards and calendars from all over the world, bore witness to the friendships he had made by his hospitality and generosity. 
We remember the first time we met him. Our visit was expected, and he was waiting for us at the gate. As we approached he doffed his tam-o-shanter, broke a pink rosebud from his hedge and presented it with a courtly bow. Until he was 85 years of age, his sprightly figure could be seen making his weekly trip to town on foot over the hill. As recently as 1947 he died, and as the community is the poorer for his passing, so we believe is the countryside for the loss of his picturesque home which it was apparently thought necessary to have demolished. 
Trampers’ Resort Flagstaff today still has a significance for the city dweller, though he no longer does his northward travel over its ridges, except high above in a modern plane. The hill is a playground for the tramper in summer, and the winter sports enthusiast in season. In the “Big Snow” of 1939, which is still an annual topic of conversation in Dunedin, it surely rivalled St. Moritz. Quite convinced of the returning Ice Ace, Otago ski-ers spent many a heavy week-end clearing the hillside of stumps and boulders to form a mighty ski run. “Tell it not in mournful numbers’’ — the snow never came back! 
The Otago Tramping Club have put up a fine little hut on the site of Ben Rudd’s old home. Its windows command a lovely view of the Chalkies and Silver Peaks. High above the Whare Flat road the Alpine Club have a rendezvous at the “Bivvy Rock.” Here the novice can be initiated into the technique of rock climbing and the thrills of double roping. One morning, a few years back, residents of the hill suburbs were puzzled by the appearance of a large silver object on the shoulder of Flagstaff. The mail plane, turning back in thick mist, had come down, fortunately without injury to its passengers. 
Native Orchids Orchid is a word that rouses interest in most of us. How many, we wonder, know that around Dunedin as many as 13 different varieties of native orchids are to be found, and most of these are flowering somewhere on Flagstaff between November and March. W. Martin, who wrote “Plants of the Dunedin District,” says he doubts whether any other area in New Zealand has such a wealth of ground orchids as Flagstaff and Maungatua. Though they are minute compared with the exotic blooms of the Amazon jungle, or even your local hothouse, yet their varying colours, green, yellow, blue, red and white, and interesting flowers are a delight to the finder, and due reward for the effort of the climb. 
And speaking of the climb, we know no other hill which offers such a variety of approaches. From the city side there are three main routes — the Pineapple or Fern track from the Leith Valley road; the Davies track, a much neglected but very delightful approach by pine plantation and native bush; and the road up from the Wakari substation. From the other side there is the half-mile track, some distance past the Wakari sanatorium, and the direct route to the trig station from the cross roads above Whare Flat; to say nothing of all the other unorthodox routes which the tramper generally finds less simple than he expected. 
The view, or rather the views, from the top are really fine, embracing the whole of the Taieri Plain as far as Waihola, down the coast to Taieri Mouth; to the west the Rock and Pillar Range, and inland to the snowy tops of Mounts Ida and St. Bathans. Of the city and harbour one has indeed the equivalent of an aerial view without the plane fare, which should gladden the heart of every Scotsman in Dunedin. For real enjoyment, plus economy, may we recommend a night out in the tussocks on the top of Flagstaff, to watch the dawn come up. There’s nothing finer! (Concluded)  -Otago Daily Times, 5/12/1950.