Billy Goat SmithRobert ‘Billie Goat’ Smith,” was one of Powell Rivers most colourful characters. Billie Goat Smith came to Powell Lake around 1906 and built his cabin near to Jim Brown Creek at the head of the lake. ‘Billie Goat’ Smith raised goats, hence his name.
“Billie Goat” lived almost purely off the land. He got all his meat from hunting, he made his own flour and he drank goats milk. He had one of the finest gardens around.
“Billie Goat” hated strangers on his land. If anyone came anywhere near his property, he would be out there with a .22 aimed at them. Although he sounds hostile, the few people that actually knew him, say he was pretty gentle and that he had a sense of humour.
“Billie Goat” Smith only went as far as the Shingle Mill and was known to go to a few ‘Drinking Parties’. He moved freely around the lake until his boat was destroyed in 1931. After that he rarely left his property. Other than a few friends bringing him supplies, Billie Goat Smith shut out the real world.
No one really knows why he went into hiding, but there are a few theories. The first is that he was in the U.S. Navy and he jumped ship at Portland and went into hiding at Powell Lake. This theory is the story he told to one of his friends, but when it was mentioned that he go home and see his family, he was petrified. This is why people think there is something more. It is also thought that he was part of a big murder in New York. Or that he was involved in a bank robbery.
Whoever he was, 'Billie Goat' Smith was a real character. (Jack Wilson interview by the Powell River News)