You’ve heard of Show Biz. This is Biz Biz, the history
of business in Vancouver, told through the activities of The
Vancouver Board of Trade.
The Vancouver board of trade, reported the Province
of January 6, 1909 (Page 3), is leading in the movement to
divert the export of Alberta grain via this port. This was well
demonstrated by the enthusiasm with which the subject was discussed
at last nights monthly meeting.
The cooperation of the Calgary board would be sought without delay.
The Vancouver boards secretary, William Skene, provided statistics
that showed that Portland, which, like Vancouver, was unprovided
with grain elevators, is shipping nearly as much wheat as New York.
He informed the board that wheat was shipped from Calgary
to Liverpool, via Fort William [Thunder Bay today], at 40 cents
per 100 pounds, while wheat was being shipped through Vancouver
today for 45 cents. The railway rate from Calgary to Fort William
is 15 cents, and from Calgary to Vancouver 22 1/2 cents.
Member D. Von Cramer noted the backlog of cases in the local civil
courts (40 cases) and urged a resolution to be brought to the attention
of the provincial minister of justice. Approved.
Dissatisfaction was expressed at the reply of the commissioner
of Chinese immigration regarding the acceptance of a bond given
by vessel-owners instead of a cash deposit for Chinese members of
crews. Mr. OHara wrote that it would be difficult to recommend
changes in the existing regulations.
Our guess at the import of that reference is that there was fear
on the part of the Board that Chinese crew members might jump
ship while in Vancouver and stay here. The Province
report continued: Mr. Skene reported that the regulations
in force here were not being enforced at the port of St. John, where
vessel-owners were simply held responsible for the Chinese members
of crews. Mr. R.H. Alexander expressed the opinion that the discrimination
against this port was unjust and the subject will be again taken
up with the Dominion Government.
[We cant help remembering that during the first civic election
in Vancouver in 1886 the same R.H. Alexander was a candidate for
mayor, and (unsuccessfully) led a large group of his Chinese mill
workers to the polls to vote for him. They were turned back by an
even larger group of white voters.]
There was a civic election campaign going on in Vancouver at the
time, and one of the candidates for mayor was Board of Trade member
Professor E. Odlum. On the same page of the Province as the
details of the Boards January 5, 1909 meeting was an advertisement
urging a vote for Odlum. The winning candidate, however, would be
Charles Stanford Douglas, 56, who had arrived in Vancouver in 1889
from Madison, Wisconsin. Douglas had been a journalist in Wisconsin,
but he became a realtor here. He defeated four other candidates,
including Odlum. Douglas would officiate at the opening this year
of the second Granville Street Bridge, which lasted from 1909 to
This 1909 election, by the way, marked the emergence
into civic politics of newspaper publisher (Vancouver World) Louis
Denison Taylor, also unsuccessful in running against Douglas. But
L.D. would come back strong in 1910 (mayoral terms were
just one year long back then) and go on to become Vancouvers
most-elected mayor. See this
site for more details on Vancouvers mayors.
The Board made the front page of the Province January 9,
1909 with news that secretary William Skene had sent off, on behalf
of the Board, a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Laurier
on the subject of poaching operations carried on by American
fishermen engaged in the halibut fishing industry within the three-mile
limit around the Queen Charlotte islands. The letter also
urged the establishment of a more efficient protective patrol
service in the area.
The letter will draw attention to the fact that ten large
American steam vessels and at least 40 American schooners, each
equipped with from 10 to 14 fishing dories, are constantly violating
the law by fishing within Canadian territorial waters.
George Cowan, MP, was leaving on the 10th for Ottawa to attend
to his legislative duties, and the Board had furnished him with
all the relevant correspondence and a request to urge action from
Ready! Aim! Fire Insurance!
The board of fire insurance underwriters came under a strong attack
from the Board of Trade, as outlined in the Province of February
10, 1909 (Page 3). It seems the underwriters group (dominated,
the Board said, by foreign institutions, with 90 per
cent of the combined capital of the companies controlled from outside
Canada) was calling for legislation that would require all fire
insurance companies in British Columbia to make a large deposit
with the government and to submit annual financial statements.
Characterizing the measure as an attempt to maintain a monopoly
and prevent business men from placing their risks at lower rates,
the Board drafted a vigorous resolution. One of the speakers at
the regular monthly meeting the night before wanted the underwriters
board prosecuted under the criminal code. President Heaps and members
Fred Buscombe and Robert McLennan (the latter two themselves former
Board presidents) were appointed a deputation to visit Victoria
and ask the government to refuse the proposed legislation.
Members J.J. Banfield and T.J. Langlois defended the underwriters,
but their arguments failed to stay the passage of the . .
The effect of the resolution was that the underwriters constituted
a combine, intended to keep small companies out; that
the rates charged by the underwriters were excessive, and based
only on the principle of all the traffic will bear;
that the commissions charged for insurance renewal were excessive;
that companies outside the combine provided the same protection
at from 15 to 40 per cent less; that the small companies were cognizant
of the special features of British Columbia industry (lumber mills,
etc.) and shaped their policies accordingly, whereas the combine
companies dealt with their customers only in a general way, and
that the sentiment of the people and the spirit of their times
is against class legislation and the countenancing of combines.
We liked this clause: That newspaper reports state that this
legislation is sought by the underwriters for the protection of
the policy-holders, whilst this board of trade, as representing
a larger amount of insurance than any other institution in the province,
wish to assure the government that we have made no request of the
board of underwriters to make any such recommendations on our behalf.
And it ends: This board therefore prays that no legislation
be granted the boards of underwriters which would strengthen the
grip these underwriters have on the people, or which would prevent
the people of this province from purchasing their fire insurance
in the lowest market at the best rates obtainable.
Fred Buscombe said he understood that the draft bill put forth
by the underwriters provided that every fire insurance company
would be required to deposit $30,000 with the Provincial Government
before being permitted to do business in the province. He thought
the object was to prevent outside companies from offering lower
rates than the board companies, as well as to exclude special risks.
If the bill became law, Buscombe concluded, it would establish
a great monopoly. Later, he added, I know of an instance
where a commission of $3,000 was paid at a crack on a $15,000 premium.
Buscombe, the report went on, vigorously arraigned the [underwriters]
board for having failed to carry out the reductions in fire insurance
in this city promised three years ago on condition that the city
improve its fire-fighting apparatus. That had happened, he
said, while he was mayor of Vancouver. Today we have a dual
water supply system, new hydrants, new fire apparatus, a fire warden,
and yet the rates remain unchanged. The reductions were to have
ranged from 17 to 21 per cent.
Banfield strikes back!
Member J.J. Banfieldwho was in the fire insurance businessstruck
back strongly. Speaking directly to the Boards lumbermill
executives he said, You asked for a $2 protection on lumber
a few years ago to offset American competition, and yet you placed
the majority of your fire insurance in American companies after
talking loyalty to Canada.
[Go to the 1904 BizBiz file and read what Banfield had to say about
fire insurance rates at the June 7 meeting. He strongly defended
his industry back then, too.]
Banfield thought legislation was needed to prevent abuses of the
system. It is significant, he said, that certain
fire insurance companies do a big business in British Columbia and
yet do not write risks in the provinces where they were incorporated
because they did not comply with the requirements of the home laws.
The Globe Fire Insurance company placed $53,000 in risks at Fernie,
but it could not pay the fire losses, having only $1,500 on hand.
We have no government inspection here, and the strength of a company
is not known until after a fire.
Recently, Banfield continued, a survey of the
business houses from the Kelly-Douglas building to the McClary building
on Water street was made by the fire underwriters and sent east
for comparison with corresponding risks in Montreal and Toronto.
It developed that these Vancouver business men are paying from 25
to 75 per cent less for their insurance than their eastern competitors.
We have made no money out of your lumber business,
he said to the millmen. And what is more, we are willing to
go into the figures with you who talk patriotism and yet do business
with our American competitors.
We think this one can be described as a lively meeting.
Board president E. Heaps had returned from a fact-finding mission
to Calgary to report on the grain-shipping situation, and had good
news for local business people on the conference held there. I
predict that the grain will come this way. There is a surplus for
export this year of 13 million bushels, of which only six million
have been sent forward in competition with the wheat of other provinces.
The railway has been virtually forced to seek the route via Vancouver.
All that remains now is to provide facilities here for handling
the grain in bulk.
Heaps paid a special tribute to the Province for sending
a representative to the conference, and added that the reports
were models of correctness.
It is our duty, he told members at the February 9 meeting
(which had, the newspaper reported, an exceptionally large
attendance), to lose no time in securing the terminal
elevator facilities here. The possibilities of development it will
bring in its train are almost unlimited. There will probably, with
increased acreage under cultivation, be about 30 million bushels
for export via Vancouver next fall. It is difficult to realize the
magnitude of these figures. We are going to have competition from
New Westminster, and probably from Port Moody, but there promises
to be business for all. I foresee the establishment of a grain exchange
here. One is already planned at Calgary, for the design of the building
has been prepared.
[For a history of the Vancouver Grain Exchange, in 1909 still some
years in the future, see this site.
It was the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 that made the exchange
a viable idea.]
Board secretary William Skene had been in Calgary, too, as the
special representative of the BC provincial government. He
referred to the impression existing among the Alberta farmers that
they were being swindled by the Manitoba graindealers.
Skene enumerated the superior advantages of the short haul to Vancouver,
and its advantages in enabling the cars to make many trips in the
period occupied in the through haul to the Atlantic seaboard. He
also said the Vancouver route would enable English firms to buy
in advance and have the wheat shipped monthly from Vancouver, thus
saving large sums now paid out in storage charges.
Board member Major C. Gardiner Johnson, a major
shipping figure in Vancouver, in thanking Heaps and Skene, declared
that their report would stand on the records as the inception of
a trade movement which would last for ever and which would soon
assume enormous proportions. Johnson got that right: Vancouver
would eventually become a major grain-shipping port.
Our files have a note that the first export shipment
of grain was made out of Vancouver on January 7, 1909. Some 50,000
bushels of wheat from the prairies went to Australia. Unfortunately,
thats all the detail we have. And it doesnt jibe with
an article from the April 1936 issue of Economic Geography.
That article, Page 185 ff, by Leah Stevens, gives some good data
on the growth of the grain shipment trade in Vancouver. We cite
it here to add weight to Johnsons prediction.
Since the first commercial shipments of 500,000
bushels of grain in 1921, Stevens writes (note no reference
to 1909), the volume has increased to 95.4 million bushels
for 1928-1929 and 96.9 million bushels for the 1932-1933 crop year.
Grain made up 73 per cent of the total export tonnage of Vancouver
Vancouvers mayor Charles Douglas was present
at this meeting, and invited the Board to send a delegation to confer
with the city council in regard to harbor improvements. President
Heaps would name the delegation members.
A unique request came in to the Board from the Lumbermens
Association. They wanted an endorsement of their resolution in
favor of the simplification of the legal procedure and the reduction
of law costs.
The resolution of the lumbermen, reported the Province,
made a plea for the adoption of a method whereby arbitration
could be resorted to in settlement of disputes without jeopardizing
the financial standing of business men, and a system by
which every client could become his own lawyer.
The resolutions naive suggestions, the newspapers
report continued, aroused no little amusement, and were endorsed
by Mr. Heaps amidst laughter.
The Board had discussed in the past the need for a court of appeals
in Vancouver. Such a court was overdue. They got a letter from A.B.
Aylesworth, the federal minister of justice, and it was read out
for members at the February 9 meeting. Aylesworth blamed the delay
on the provincial government. It read in part: . . . until
the Provincial Government statutes by which the court is constituted
has been brought into force by the Provincial Government, then nothing
can be done in the matter by the Dominion Government.
The Province of February 18, 1909 reported that several routine
matters were dealt with speedily during a meeting of the Board the
night before. One of them was the naming of a delegation to Ottawa
to urge on the federal government the necessity for improving Vancouvers
harbor. Fred Buscombe and W.W.B. McLanes would go. It was also suggested
that a representative of the CPRs coast steamship service
could go along, and a note to the CPR asking this was approved.
(The first choice was Capt. Troup, the superintendent, if he was
willing and available.)
The Mountain Lumber Manufacturers Association, based in Nelson,
wrote asking for support of their resolution asking for protection
against American rough lumber being dumped into Canada. That
was quickly and unanimously endorsed. Fred Buscombe pointed out
that the lumber industry was the only unprotected one in the
Dominion, and this condition of affairs called for immediate alteration.
The Board had passed its own similar resolution in March of 1908.
Member H. Bell-Irving reported for the Boards
fisheries committee. It seems the federal government intended to
build one cruiser and rent another for the protection of British
Columbia fisheries. The letters also referenced that it was now
known that Hecate straits and Dixon entrance were Canadian waters.
In view of this the committee wired the department of marine asking
if Captain Newcomb of the Kestrel had instructions to clear
American poachers from these waters, and a reply is now awaited.
[A quick orthographical note: the style of newspapers in this era
was to write Hecate straits,Dixon entrance,Granville
street,and the like, rather than capitalize the second word.
Itll be interesting to see when the change comes.]
A letter was received from the secretary of a North Vancouver public
meeting asking the Board to endorse a resolution protesting
against any ferry monopoly being granted. The Board expressed
itself in favor of keeping the waters of Burrard Inlet open to all
Trade with China . . . and others
Member James Ramsay submitted a resolution asking that a trade
commissioner for China be appointed, and that he should have a knowledge
of BC industry. Ramsay pointed out that some big railroads
were under construction in China, and that since the death of Mr.
Maclean, Canada had no trade commissioner. His resolution
received hearty support.
[Thanks to a request to the Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade, were able to flesh that last
reference out. From a book they cite, Canadas Salesman
to the World: the Department of Trade and Commerce 1892-1939
by O. Mary Hill, we learn that Alexander MacLean, who had been Canadas
commercial agent in Japan since 1904, was transferred to China in
1908. He was more than 70 and died very soon after his appointment.
He was succeeded in 1909obviously later than the Boards
February meetingby J.B. Jackson, who was unsuccessful in the
post and in 1911 was let go. Jackson died in Vancouver on his way
back from Shanghai.]
The Port Hammond fruit growers association wrote asking the
Board to endorse their petition for a local train, such as the Agassiz
local. The fruit trade, they said, demanded a fast and efficient
service. The Board had already been agitating for just such a service,
and quickly endorsed the petition.
The Ladysmith board of trade wrote, saying a deputation was about
to visit Richard Marpole, the local CPR executive, asking for a
daily service between Ladysmith and Vancouver. They asked for someone
from the Vancouver Board to attend, and President Heaps was appointed.
There was a petition from a Similkameen group asking for a road
between Hope and Otter Flat, and seeking the Boards support.
They got it. The support, not the road. Today, Otter Flat is named
Tulameen, and as the map indicates they still dont have a
road to Hope.
Deadmans Island, off Stanley Park, was back on the Boards
docket for its March 9, 1909 meeting. They had recently sent a telegram
to Vancouver MP G.H. Cowan in Ottawa, reading: The newspapers
report that Mr. J.W. Weart has gone to Ottawa to get industrial
concessions for Deadmans island. This board considers that
no such concessions should be granted without very careful consideration
and consultation with the civic authorities.
To which, the paper reported, Cowan replied: Minister promises
not to act until you have considered the proposals.
Member H. Bell-Irving promptly moved this resolution: Whereas
a strong resolution was passed by this board of trade on February
20, 1899 against the leasing of Deadmans island for a sawmill
or any other purposes, and whereas strong indignation was aroused
among the citizens of that time against any such lease, now therefore
this board strongly endorses this previous resolution and protests
against any transfer of the lease then granted to any other than
the civic authorities and requests the government to make such arrangement
for such transfer as soon as possible.
[The name of Theodore Ludgate appears in this 1909
story, and it might be well to explain who he was. The detail emerges
in the brief bio of Vancouver mayor James Garden (1898-1900) on
Garden was literally a leader, in 1899 heading a march of
citizens to Deadman's Island to stop Theodore Ludgate from logging
it. The so-called Ludgate Affair began when Mayor Garden read the
riot act, defying Ludgate to chop that tree. He did,
and was promptly arrested. Years of litigation followed, and eventually
Ludgate's 25-year lease from the federal government was cancelled,
it being determined the property was part of the federal agreement
granting Stanley Park to the city in perpetuity.]
Bell-Irving followed up his resolution with a resume of the history
of the case. It makes for interesting reading.
A delegate from the board of trade went to Ottawa,
Bell-Irving said, before the lease was granted, and yet in
spite of his urgent representation and that of the city the lease
was granted, which led to a long and acrimonious dispute between
the city and Mr. Ludgate. There was no doubt as to the general feeling
in the city at that time, but nothing was done regarding it. Later
when the minister came here he viewed the ground and stated that
had the authorities known the facts the lease never would have been
granted. Those who were against the lease had been stigmatized as
the opponents of the legitimate expansion of Vancouver. That was
utterly false. If there were no other sites available, it might
be a different matter, but with miles of waterfrontage far better
adapted for the purpose that argument would not stand. The use of
the island for industrial purposes could only be characterized as
unwarrantable vandalism . . . We are all keenly alive to the future
development of Vancouver, but was that any reason for deliberately
destroying the unrivaled artistic beauties of the city? . . . If
the city makes its views known in strenuous fashion, they will not
be ignored. We are wealthy enough to preserve such a spot from such
disfacement. [Disfacement is an interesting word; its
not in our dictionaries, including even the OED, but its meaning
Thoroughly in Sympathy
Board president E.H. Heaps said that as far as he
was aware the lease contained no condition against industrial uses
on the island. But, if this were done it must involve the
building of a bridge, and that would entail the building of a channel
for small craft from Coal harbor into English Bay. I am thoroughly
in sympathy with the general feeling among the citizens on this
matter. This is a scheme merely to benefit the purse of pocket of
a few private individuals. It is not a question of getting a new
industry at all.
Member R.H. Alexander, one of Stanley Parks first trustees,
weighed in. He said, said the Province, when the ground
had been gone over originally, there was not the slightest doubt
in the minds of any of them that the island was supposed to be included
in the boundaries of the park. The original idea was that the squatters
should be cleared off the island and a space in the centre cleaned
up so that a bandstand could be put there, and a bridge connecting
the island with the mainland constructed.
The members got an unpleasant surprise. E.W. McLean informed them
that the lease was to run for 25 years, and at the end of that term
it was to run for another 25 years at a rent to be determined.
[The lease holder was getting it for $500 a year.] In fact,
said McLean, it is a perpetual lease.
Member C. Gardiner Johnson confirmed McLeans statement, and
added that he had tried to find Mr. Ludgate, who he believed to
be in the city, but had been unable to. He suggested that from
the purely business point of view the city must bargain with Mr.
Ludgate . . . Mr. Ludgate feels perfectly sure of his lease. There
is only one man that can cancel it, and that is the minister, if
he wants the land for military purposes.
Well, as you read above Ludgate lost that battle, and the feds
cancelled the lease. And, sure enough, Deadmans Island is
today used for military purposes, viz: HMCS Discovery.
This March 9 meeting marked the 22nd anniversary of the Board,
and the outgoing president, E.H. Heaps, recounted a long list of
matters that had arisen during his year in office: the new coasting
regulations, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exhibition, a suggested Vancouver
exhibition, fast cruisers for the fishery trade, lumber tariffs,
transportation matters and harbor improvements, a bridge over the
Second Narrows, a grain conference and the establishment of a grain
exchange. Before concluding, Heaps eulogized Secretary William Skenes
work and its importance, and suggested an increase in his salary.
The Board had a balance in the bank of $2,258.56 and reported an
income of $3,143.95.
New President H.A. Stone
The new Board president was H.A. Stone. Were not sure, but
we think this is the same H.A. Stone who was the manager of the
Hudsons Bay store here. The reason were not positive
is that there are references in the mid-1930s to manager H.A. Stone,
and we wonder if he held that post for more than 20 years. Well
keep our antennae quivering for confirmation. We do know that the
HBCs Stone was the first president (1931) of the Vancouver
Art Gallery Association.
Stone said that he would be pushing the necessity, during his term,
for a definite program for the settlement of lands. And he also
proposed that an inclined railway be built to the top of Crown Mountain.
The mountain, he said, was 3,200 feet high, which was 800
feet higher than any mountain in Great Britain. It would be an immense
attraction to tourists, as well as to the citizens, and the view
afforded from the top would be not only an advertisement, but also
educative of the immense resources in the neighborhood of the city.
Crown Mountain, according to this
website is actually 4,934 feet (1,504 m) high. The site
has a photo of the peak.
A complex story was told in the March 10, 1909 Province
(Page 3) report on the Boards meeting regarding a Port Townsend
firm, Sims, Levy & Evans, alleged to be engaged in hanky-panky
having to do with providing crews for local sailing vessels. It
takes the paper more than 500 words to describe it. The gist of
the scheme seemed to be that the company was stepping in ahead of
long-established institutions that supplied crews (the Loggers
and Sailors Institute is cited in the Province story)
and providing the menin return for their first months
pay. Board member R.H. Alexander said it was a difficult subject
to tackle. There were wheels within wheels. For researchers
interested in the subject, check the newspaper, date and page number
shown at the head of this item.
Another story about the same time refers to this practice as crimping,
which we found defined as to procure (sailors or soldiers)
by trickery or coercion.
The subject came up again at the Boards May 4 session, reported
on by the Province on May 5, Page 2. And again in that newspaper
on May 11, Page 20, when a letter came to the Board from eight sailors
who claimed that after having been engaged by the captain
of the ship Procyon, they had been abandoned in favor of men obtained
at a foreign port through the agency of Sims, Levi & Co.
Board member Captain Worsnop stated that to him the letter had the
appearance of having been concocted and written by an interested
party. [Note that the company name is slightly different in
this later report; our guess is that that was due to a careless
The Penticton board of trade wrote, said the Province of
May 5, pointing out that the freight rate on canned fruit
from Ontario was only $1, and from Penticton 71 cents. In view of
the nearness of Penticton to the coast this charge is thought excessive,
and cooperation with a view of obtaining relief was sought.
The Boards freight rates committee would deal with the matter.
The Daylight Saving bill came under discussion, and member W.H.
Malkin moved that the board endorse it. That was seconded and carried,
but not before Mr. R.H. Alexander opposed it, remarking that
instead of workingmen and others whom the bill was supposed to affect
getting more leisure time in the evenings, it would simply lead
to men working more overtime.
[This 1909 date seems to refer to a bill being discussed in Britain.
In the event, Daylight Saving Time wasnt legislated in BC
until 1919, and came into effect March 30th of that year.]
Bits n Pieces
The Alberni Board of Trade asked the Vancouver Board to press Ottawa
to move on a proposed railroad extension. Secretary
Skene would write.
Some Australian journalists were in town, and the Board planned
to drive them around town and to visit local mills.
The Deadmans Island committee presented its report: they
had sought legal counsel, which had determined that the lease on
the island which had been given to Theodore Ludgate in 1899 and
amended in 1900 was given in error. Furthermore, the federal government
retained the right to expropriation of the island. Whatever
the result of the legal opinion might be, the city council was urged,
as guardians of the public interest, to make strong representations
to the government to secure cancellation of the lease, or to transfer
it to the representatives of the city, to be held by them for public
purposes . . .
Winnipeg Exposition looms
Winnipeg was planning a Canada-wide exposition in 1912 and the
citys mayor, W. Sanford Evans, spoke to the Board, asking
for its cooperation and support. We want men and capital in
this country, Evans said, and to get them we have got
to put before them some striking evidence of our resources. If we
can impress the imagination of the world with the desirability of
Canada as a whole then you can with some success persuade them why
they should settle in Vancouver, or whatever district you are interested
Other representatives from the prairie provinces were there. One
of them, C.W. Bowley of Calgary, as reported in the Province
(May 11, 1909, Page 20), said if present indications were
fulfilled, Vancouver Harbor would be lined with elevators by the
time the exposition was opened. The natural outlet for western wheat
was through Vancouver . . .
Another speaker, T. Mayne Daly, was quoted extensively in the paper.
One of the most marked things of our tour, he said,
is the strong western spirit which prevails. In every city
or town we have visited we have met scores of men who believe that
their town and their district is the best. That is the spirit that
has made the west . . . A man who does not believe that his town
is the best is a knocker, and in this connection I would like to
mention a conversation I had with a man on this present tour in
a district where their chief industry was raising hogs.
That man was an enthusiast and he had the Canadian spirit.
He said that if all the hogs they raised were rolled into one hog
it would dig out the Panama Canal in three roots, and its squeals
would shake the coconuts off all the palm trees in the canal zone.
The future of Canada was bo'und up in the west, he continued, and
this exposition would give the world an opportunity of seeing the
resources of a great land.
Your land, my land, our home land! he concluded, and
hearty applause showed that his words had gone home.
The Board strongly endorsed the idea of the exposition, and we
learned in their resolution it was to celebrate the centennial of
the arrival of Lord Selkirk, and his loyal band of settlers,
on the banks of the Red River in 1812.
We Googled T. Mayne Dalys name to discover he was a very
distinguished gentleman, indeed: a former mayor of Brandon, a federal
cabinet minister, a judge and more. There is a funny story here,
in a long and interesting article on Daly, which tells of his strong
physical resemblance to a well-known Calgary lawyer, Paddy Nolan,
and how they once played a prank on each other based on that resemblance.
A Department of Agriculture
At its meeting of May 10, 1909 the Board decided that the growth
of the province warranted establishing departments of agriculture
and immigration. The provinces finance department handled
those two issues at present. President H.A. Stone recommended a
meeting and lunch with the premier [Richard McBride]. That idea
was enthusiastically endorsed.
The Province of July 14 (Page One) reported that Premier
McBride had agreed to meet with a Board delegation the next day.
The deputation will strongly urge the government to redouble
its efforts to colonize the unsettled agricultural areas of the
province by immigration from the older provinces and the British
Isles. The government will also be asked to expedite the work of
surveying all agricultural lands. The deputation included
Stone, and members Ewing Buchan, Fred Buscombe, E.H. Heaps, W.H.
Malkin and Professor E. Odlum. For the government, there was Premier
McBride and cabinet ministers Francis Carter-Cotton and R.G. Tatlow,
and J.D. Taylor, the MP for New Westminster.
On July 16 the same newspaper (Page 2) reported on the meeting.
Emphasis [by the delegation] was laid on the fact that the
province was still importing seven million dollars worth of
farm produce yearly, and this was suggestive of the great field
for the development of the agricultural industry in British Columbia,
and the value of local production in keeping down prices, thus benefiting
manufacturing and all industrial interests. The deputation urged
that the necessity was great for energetic and practical work, combined
with a strong provincial railway policy, to encourage settlement
and interior development.
The premier . . . assured the members of the deputation that
their suggestions would have the ministrys earnest consideration.
President Stone and his associates returned by this mornings
boat from the capital.
The subject of the Agassiz train came up again (as it had in 1907
and 1908). The discontinuation of this train was causing hardship.
A Vancouver company called Hood Bros. wrote to say it was interested
in land around about Whonnock. It was pointed out in the letter
that the discontinuation of the train made it hard to get to and
from the localities along the north bank of the Fraser River, and
thereby retarded settlement. A letter to the same effect was received
from the Pitt Meadows Settlers Association.
A gentlemen named P.D. Roe spoke for farmers along the CPR line.
The trains discontinuation, he said, made travel into Vancouver
and shipment of goods there difficult. It was decided to leave the
matter in the hands of the Boards railway and navigation committee,
who would act as a delegation to the CPRs Vancouver office.
President Stone said local railway officials were in favor of continuing
the train, but that the opposition came from Winnipeg.
He recommended that if the representations of the board to the railway
company had no effect, that the matter be placed before the Railway
And speaking of that Commission, the eternal subject of freight
rates was discussed again, with the committee charged with studying
the subject saying they needed more time.
A Mr. C.F. Sprott of Burnaby wrote, drawing the attention of the
Board to the dangerous condition of the road crossing the
CPR tracks near Hastings. Several members of the board testified
to their own narrow escapes from sudden death at this point and
it was decided to appeal to the city council to improve the crossing
by running the road at this point through the park, thus doing away
with the curve which shuts off the view of the tracks until the
wayfarer is right upon them. [The story didnt specify
more clearly where this was, and which park was referred to. Its
probable the Hastings referred to is not the street,
but the townsite, which wouldnt join Vancouver until 1911.]
New members (and old)
The applications of eight men wishing to join the Board were received
at this May 10, 1909 meeting. One of them, who had allowed his membership
to lapse and was applying for readmission, was listed in the paper
as George E. Trodey.Were willing to bet that should
be Trorey. George Trorey ran a well-known jewelry shop
at the northeast corner of Hastings and Granville (where the Royal
Bank sits today), and in February, 1907 sold the shop to Henry Birks
& Sons, who kept him on as manager. The famed Trorey Clock
on the sidewalk in front of the store became the Birks Clock, which
ticks away today on the southeast corner of Hastings and Granville.
No reports were retrievable for the period from
June to September 1909.
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition
Because of the lack of reports from June 1909 to
September we dont have the Boards reaction to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific
Exposition held in Seattle. This was Seattles first worlds
fair. The exposition opened June 1, 1909 and 79,976 visitors attended
on the first day. The fair closed October 16, with more than three
million visitors. The agricultural and manufacturing exhibits were
mostly from North America, though large buildings were also raised
for European and Pacific Rim Exhibits. We know that the Vancouver
World newspaper had space there, and there would have been other
Canadian representation, but, alas, we dont have the details.
There is a fascinating slide show on this unique exposition here.
Gambling? Were shocked! Shocked!
Board members were unhappy at the October 5, 1909 meeting of the
Board with racetrack betting at Richmonds Minoru Park. When
almost every member had roundly condemned the racetrack entertainment
at Minoru park, the Province reported on October 6
(Page 3), as an undesirable business, and anything
but British sport, President Stone, who presided for the first
time since his return from England, smiled. We always like
to hear both sides of a question, he said. Is there
any one who will say a word in favor of it?
The silence was heavy, but not unduly prolonged.
Then followed support of the protest by the Ministerial association,
and its request to the attorney-general for a law for the
suppression of the imported evil, as the board viewed
The reservation of 500 acres of Point Grey lands as a financial
aid to the provincial university, wrote the Province,
was approved at the suggestion of Mr. R.P. McLennan, who added:
This will not affect the location of the university, for wherever
the Provincial Government may select the site, these lands would
be reserved for it.
McLennan said the lands granted to the University of Washington,
now valuable by reason of the growth of Seattle, had
suggested the idea.
The Board went on record as favoring the minting of gold and silver
coins at Ottawa, including silver dollars and nickels. [Were
vaguely puzzled by this entry. The Ottawa mint was already active;
it had started in 1908. Prior to that, Canadas currency was
produced in Great Britain. Theres a very interesting Wikipedia
site on our mint here.
The question of freight rates east of Calgary, said
the Province, and on the White Pass & Yukon route
will be brought before the meeting of the railway commissioners
at their session in Vancouver on October 27, when the board will
also support the resolution of the Surrey board of trade for a better
service by the Great Northern railway south of the Fraser.
The Surrey boards resolution was accompanied by an angry
letter from Henry Thrift of Hazelmere. I am directed to point
out to your board, Thrift wrote, that your city is losing
trade every day the present order of things continues. The apology
for a service now operated between Vancouver and Cloverdale is a
disgrace to any company which would impose such a thing upon the
public. The resolutionwhich detailed the unsatisfactory
service and want of station facilitieshad already been
sent to the railway commissioners.
In its November 9, 1909 issue the Province said the Board
may adopt a resolution calling on the Provincial Government
to insert in its projected agreement with the Canadian Northern
Railway company a clause which shall provide that freight rates
in British Columbia shall in no case exceed by more than four or
five per cent those rates which prevail in other provinces.
Make it law
Sure enough, at its November 9 session the Board did adopt such
a resolution, and called on Premier McBride to make it law. A copy
of the resolution was sent to all candidates seeking election in
the city of Vancouver and to all other boards of trade in BC asking
their cooperation and assistance. Member E.H. Heaps, one of the
members of the deputation that had visited Premier McBride on this
question, said the premier had told him that D.D. Mann, vice-president
of the Canadian Northern, would not agree to the five per cent clause,
because with such a provision he would be unable to float
his bonds in London. The difficulty appears to be that though the
Canadian Northern trusts the present government, it might not be
able to trust a government of the future. Cries of Hear,
Hear from the members greeted this remark.
The premier, Heaps continued, suggested that
five per cent might be too little, and he mentioned 10 per cent.
I have been informed that the increased cost of the operation of
railways in British Columbia is about five per cent more than the
cost on the prairies. We suggest that the company be permitted to
charge five per cent higher rates than it charges on the prairies
or in Eastern Canada.
[The Canadian Northern Railway was incorporated in 1899, but was
ultimately financially unsuccessful. In 1918 it became part of a
new entity financed by the federal government called the Canadian
National Railway. There is an interesting article on the Canadian
Northern and the early CNR here.
At its October 5 meeting the Board strongly endorsed the idea of
a transprovincial highway recently broached by the minister of public
works, Thomas Taylor. It would connect existing roads from the coast
to the Kootenays and east to Alberta.
The Reverend J. Knox Wright, representing the Lords Day Alliance,
asked the Board on their behalf that a resolution be passed
asking the postmaster-general to order the closing of the lobby
of the Vancouver postoffice during certain hours on Sundays. The
board divided on this question, and a resolution along the lines
asked for by the alliance was defeated.
The Rev. Mr. Wright suggested that, because the Lords Day
act provided that mail would be attended to on Sundays, that work
at the post office [style of the day was to make that one word:
postoffice] be restricted to two to three hours on that day.
R.G. Macpherson, the Vancouver postmaster, explained that many
businessmen got their mail on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings,
and in this mail they perhaps receive orders to ship goods
on Monday mornings. The work done in the postoffice on Sundays has
been reduced to the lowest possible amount. I am a strict believer
in the observance of Sunday, but I do not see that the closing of
the lobby would in any way reduce the amount of work done in the
postoffice on that day. He said that if the board passed a
resolution in favor of partial closing, the post office would likely
go along with it.
E.H. Heaps suggested that matters should be left as they are. And
they were. The motion to close was defeated.
Winnipegs getting a good deal!
Member Robert McLennan presented some interesting statistics showing
what the CPR charged for freight for roughly comparable distances
on the prairies and in BC. For example, for the 225 miles between
Vancouver and Nicola the CPRs rate was 51 cents. For the 221
miles between Winnipeg and Russell the rate was 29 cents. The percentage
in favor of Winnipeg: 76 per cent.
The rate for the 426 miles between Vancouver and Rogers Pass was
73 cents. For the 423 miles between Winnipeg and Port Arthur it
was 40 cents. Percentage in favor of Winnipeg: 83 per cent.
And so on.
E.H. Heaps commented: It is a matter of importance that we
have equal freight rates with the cities of the east. There is discrimination
in grain rates against us, and that will have to be removed before
we can bring grain to the coast. If we are going to make Vancouver
grow, we must make it a cheap place to live in.
Fred Buscombe chaired a committee looking into the question of
establishing a harbor commission for Vancouver. He reported that
he did not see how such a commission could be a success owing
to the fact that it could not secure control of all the harbor,
some of which was held by the CPR. That owned by the CPR could not
be expropriated, even the Federal Government having no right to
oust the railway company.
Thats all the Province had on the subject in its November
10, 1909 story (Page 8). What action, if any, the Board took was
not reported. One interesting sidelight: this was the first instance
we noted where the phrase Federal Government was used.
Heretofore it had been the Dominion Government.
In a December 3 story (Page 14) the Province reported that
the Board had determined that the establishment of a harbor commission
was premature and inadvisable. Much of this 97-year
old story was illegible because of the condition of the page, but
we could read a pungent quote from Fred Buscombe. He said that fully
90 per cent of the trade into Vancouver was controlled by the CPR,
and where would the harbor commissioners get their revenue
if not allowed to expropriate the railways waterfront?
The notion of a harbor commission was dropped.
President Stone announced at the November 9 meeting that a proposal
had been made to the Board that it lease a portion of the
ground floor and basement of the proposed new building of the Terminal
City club on Hastings street, next to the premises of the Vancouver
club. The premises offered the board could be obtained for $200
per month, and would afford excellent offices, and the board could
also rent some of the rooms. The matter was referred to the [Boards]
council to see what arrangements could be made.
Eleven new members were elected to the Board November 9, making
the total membership 225.
Board of Control
The last 1909 meeting of the Board was held December 7, and a major
topic of discussion was the Boards opinion that a board of
control should be established for the administration of the city.
Former alderman James Ramsay told other members the city had had
that option added to its charter privileges in 1907, and I
am surprised that it has not yet adopted it. Another former
alderman, member Walter Hepburn, said that the electors of Vancouver
had expressed themselves in favor of the idea by plebiscite.
Ramsay, in speaking to his resolution, said: I do not come
here tonight to make an onslaught upon the present city council,
but I do not hesitate to say that there is room for improvement.
The ward system is the cause of much conflict, while it must be
admitted that the aldermen have not the necessary time to devote
to the management of the citys affairs. Not can it be expected
of them under the present system. Vancouver has outgrown it.
Ramsay reviewed the proposed system, in which the board would be
composed of the mayor and three controllers to be elected
by the city at large, the one receiving the highest number of votes
to remain in office three years, the second highest two years, and
the third, one. There would, therefore, be an annual election to
More business men
If we had a board of control, Ramsay continued, we would
have more business men in our council. I would abolish the salaries
now given to the aldermen and include these in the salaries, and
large salaries they would have to be, for the controllers. The system
would free the heads of departments from the fear of offending aldermen
. . .
Said Board vice-president Buchan: The business of the city
is perhaps more important than any business in it. Why then should
we not have it managed by trained men, paying them well for their
services? Member Jonathan Rogers favored five instead of three
years as the term for the controller receiving the highest number
of votes. I do not think you will get the most capable men
to accept service for so short a period, he said, adding that
he would also abolish aldermanic salaries.
The Boards resolution, said the Province, asks the city council
to submit a bylaw to the electorate in the approaching elections.
It would require a 60 per cent majority. The Provinces story
is very extensive, and readers who want to learn more about the
subject can check the Province for December 8, 1909 (Page 7).
This subject was also cited in the Boards April 2, 1907 meeting,
described in that years chapter.
City Hall site
There was discussion about the site for a proposed new city hall.
It was agreed a new hall was needed. Said James Ramsay: I
am ashamed to take any visitor to the city hall as we have it today.
Wrote the paper: The courthouse site, the Central school grounds
and the present situation were all favored, but no action was taken
in regard to location.
The courthouse site is where Victory Square is today,
the Central school grounds were adjacent to the south
of the courthouse and the present situation refers to
a location immediately south of the Carnegie Centre on Main Street.
[It appears as if the building that so embarrassed former alderman
Ramsay would continue to serve until 1929 when city hall moved to
the Holden Building at 11 East Hastings, where it would serve until
1936 when the present hall opened.]
Back from Oz
Member R.H. Alexander was back from a visit to Sydney, Australia,
where he was a delegate from the Board to a congress of chambers
of commerce of the British Empire. He said there had been an almost
unanimous vote for preferential trade within the empire.
Then he held up two cans of herring packed in tomato sauce.
These English goods, I observed, were being sold in many
of the cities as a substitute for salmon, owing to the high prices
of the latter. It occurred to me that as the herring are plentiful
on our own coast, that salmon canneries and other fishing industries
might turn their attention to this product with considerable profit,
for we can grow tomatoes, too.
What else was happening
locally in 1909?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1910 »