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 regular monthly meeting of the Board on February
3rd was mainly concerned with the new Provincial Mining Association
(PMA) of British Columbia, recently launched into activity
at Victoria by a number of prominent mining men. A.C. Hirschfield
of Atlin explained that the movement was not for the purpose of
obtaining special legislation for the new associations members,
but to attract prospectors to come and to stay. Frequently quoted
was the new groups president, J.B. Hobson, who couldnt
be present as he was touring the Kootenays in the associations
interests. Hobson had said that while the provincial governments
laws had succeeded in preventing the country being locked up in
the hands of speculators, it had also shut out prospectors. The
laws were too stringent, and as a result mining money was being
invested in California rather than the Cariboo.
As an indication of its desire to involve the whole province, the
PMA would hold its 1904 convention in Vancouver.
Member Charles Wilson, KC, commented that the hydraulic
miners . . . appeared to think they should be placed on the same
basis as the rock miners, namely, that they should obtain security
of title to the land. It was well known, the Province article
of February 4th said, quoting Wilson, that many had refused to put
capital in hydraulic mining properties held under BC law, because
a title could not be shown. If the association, he said,
could only devise a scheme by which security of title could
be obtained, and yet not lock up the land in unproductiveness, so
soon would the difficulties in the way of inducing capital to come
in be removed.
Mining was without doubt the most important
industry of British Columbia, and the opening up of placer mining
districts would contribute largely to the prosperity of this city.
A resolution was passed expressing the support of the Board for
the aims of the PMA.
The Navy League
H.F. Wyatt, a local representative of the Navy League, an English
organization that trained seamen for the British Navy, said he was
pleased that Canada was about to establish a naval militia. He urged
that members of that militia be trained on our naval reserve ships,
rather than on vessels expressly built for them. There would be
great savings. A vote of thanks to Mr. Wyatt was moved and unanimously
carried . . . and some members of the Board joined the League on
AGM heavily attended
The Boards March 3, 1903 AGM was held in the
board rooms of the Molsons Bank building at the northeast
corner of Hastings and Seymour, and attendance was unusually
The Board had struck a committee to approach the
CPR with a request to lower its freight rates between Vancouver
and Calgary, and that committee had come back with a comment that
the railways response was unsatisfactory, even unfair. The
only argument put forward by the railway, the committee reported,
being that to disturb the existing state of things would meet
strong objections from the merchants of Winnipeg.
The Boards present membership of 125 was not
as large as it should be. The population of our city is increasing,
new business houses are starting in our midst, and the membership,
instead of decreasing, should be on the increase. Matters of
great commercial importance are continually cropping up, and there
never was a time in our civic history when it was so necessary for
businessmen to engage actively in all matters affecting the commercial
interests of our community as at the present. (Emphasis
The 1901 federal census had shown that the population of Vancouver
then was 27,000.
Malkins Parting Shot
President Malkin, in his final address in that office,
said We should at the least have a membership of 250. With
the present membership, it is impossible to get our finances into
the satisfactory shape they should be. The regular issuance of the
annual report, which reaches every civilized country in the world,
is most important, and we ought now to be creating a reserve fund
which, in time, might be applied to the erection of a building of
Vancouver, Malkin said, was rapidly becoming the
great distribution centre, not only for British Columbia and the
Yukon Territory, but also for the country, extending as far east
as Calgary and Lethbridge. A few years ago the merchants of
the Kootenay and the Crows Nest looked to the East to supply
most of their requirements, but a large proportion of these are
now being purchased from Vancouver. That trade could be increased
with better freight rates, but the CPR was not cooperating. I
hope the time will soon be here when the grain raised in the Northwest
[hes referring here to Alberta and Saskatchewan, not yet provinces]
will be brought to Vancouver and shipped hence by sea to various
parts of the world.
Malkin was succeeded as Board president by H.T. Lockyer, local
manager of the Hudsons Bay Co.
The Board at its May 5 meeting protested against the grant of False
Creek tide flats by the Dominion Government to Messrs. Robert Kelly
and Frank Burnett. A copy of the resolution was sent to Prime Minister
Laurier and others. Vancouver mayor Thomas Neelands had agreed on
the telephone that the citys own protest against the decision
would be greatly strengthened by the support of the Board of Trade.
Member Francis Carter-Cotton recalled that some
years earlier the Board had gone on record as supporting a
general scheme of reclamation and wharfage on False Creek, and had
gone on record against any scheme whereby private individuals might
secure the foreshores. The resolution to endorse the citys
protest was passed unanimously.
Trade and Other Imperial Matters
The June 18 meeting passed, among other matters, two important
resolutions: one was in favor of assisting, as far as possible,
Britains trade with China in face of rising competition from
other European nations, and the other was to show its support for
preferential duties and other measures to increase trade between
the member colonies of the Empire.
The Boards August 3rd session was told of
a resolution passed by the Toronto Board of Trade to be discussed
at the upcoming convention of the Associated Chambers of Commerce
of the Empire. That meeting was to be held in Montreal August 17
to 20with Board member H. Bell-Irving as Vancouvers
delegate. The resolution was that the laws respecting the
naturalization of aliens in the different constituent parts of the
British Empire should be amended and assimilated, so that citizenship
conferred in any part of the Empire shall be recognized as valid
throughout the Empire.
And the Board was also told there would be a representative
at the Montreal convention of the Canadian Manufacturers Assn.,
who would move that in the opinion of this Congress, in all
contracts for imperial public works, the preference should be given,
as far as possible, to British subjects.
Another resolution that would be discussed was that
Newfoundland should be included as a constituent part of the
Dominion of Canada. (That event would take 46 more years!)
Still another resolution, this one from the London Chamber of Commerce,
would call for wireless telegraphy to be installed in all Canadas
lighthouses and lightships. Were assuming this is the London
in England, since the Ontario city has so few lighthouses!
On September 1 member H-O Bell-Irving reported on
the Montreal convention cited above. He said, reported the September
2 Province, there were no fewer than 500 delegates
present, from every quarter of the Empire, including South Africa,
India, the West Indies, Ceylon and the Antipodes. (In this
case, Antipodes refers to Australia, New Zealand and other colonial
outposts in the South Pacific.)
A great proportion of the individual members
were in favor of preferential trade, Bell-Irving reported,
but their hands were tied more or less by instructions from
their respective chambers against definite committal to that policy.
Most of the report centered on the social aspects of the convention.
Everybody seemed to have a good time and one of the dinners, attended
by 500, was addressed by both Governor General Lord Minto and Prime
Minister Laurier. (Lord Minto, by the way, had in 1901 donated the
Minto Cup which, until 1934, would be awarded annually to Canadas
senior lacrosse champions. After 1934 it went to the junior champions.)
A digression: there is an interesting biography
of Lord Minto here,
written by John Buchan, a future Governor General. It seems Minto
visited Vancouver as far back as 1885.
More on Freight Rates
A committee that had been struck to question the
CPR as to its unequal freight rates (Winnipegs merchants paid
much lower rates than did Vancouvers) reported that, as a
result of their presentations, the rates had been lowered slightly,
but that there was still an imbalance . . . and rumor had it that
Winnipegs rates had been lowered, too, so that the imbalance
continued. We did not ask for a cut rate, the committee
said, but simply that Vancouver pay no more than Winnipeg.
The Board made its displeasure with the railway known. While
the reduction is appreciated, it is not sufficient by any means
to satisfy the merchants here.
Sympathy was extended to the family of former Board
president (1901) Frederick Burns, who had recently died.
What else was
happening locally in 1903?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1904 »