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.
Seeing the name Tehuantepec in a newspaper
headline about the Vancouver Board of Trade was bound to excite
our curiosity. It proved to be the location of an early Mexican
railway, and was one of the subjects discussed at the January 4,
1910 regular monthly meeting of The Board. [This railway connected
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the narrowest part of Mexico;
the Panama isthmus is farther south, but in 1910 the Panama Canal
was still four years away.]
Were detailing the story at some length here
because the basic subjectfreight rateswas so crucial
to early Vancouver business; even a hundred years ago local merchants
felt we were being screwed.
The Mexican railway referred to in this story had
finally (after several abortive attempts) opened to traffic in January
Why was it being talked about at the Vancouver Board
of Trade in 1910?
It seems the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Pacific
railways were charging local (i.e., higher) rates from inland shipping
points to Montreal or Halifax on goods shipped to Vancouver via
the Tehuantepec route. The railways export rates were cheaper,
but Vancouver business men were not getting those rates. The Elder-Dempster
Steamship Co., which operated boats from eastern Canada to the eastern
terminus of the Tehuantepec line, which was on the Gulf of Mexico,
wanted the support of The Board in its application to the Railway
Commission for an easing of the rates.
The Board was happy to oblige.
Entitled to the Same Rates
The sentiments of the board crystallized,
wrote the Province of January 5, 1910 (Page 7) "in the following
resolution, submitted by Mr. W.H. Malkin: Whereas goods shipped
from eastern Canadian points destined for Mexico are carried to
Montreal in summer and to Halifax in winter at a special export
rate, it is the opinion of this board that the same rate should
be accorded to goods from such points when such goods are destined
for British Columbia via Mexico.
The steamship company, the Province
continued, pointed out that the discrimination against eastern
Canadian business men gave an unfair advantage to English and German
manufacturers. Mr. Malkin said the matter was an important one for
all western business men and threatened to destroy the advantages
so fondly anticipated by the establishment of the Mexican route.
He considered that they were as much entitled to the export rate
from inland eastern Canadian points as Mexican business men who
imported from the same points. The question was one which should
be referred to the Railway Commission.
Capt. Worsnop of the Canadian-Mexican Steamship
Company, (a Board member), also complained about the railways
fees, saying that the original understanding was that goods
shipped across Mexico to Vancouver were to enjoy the export rate.
He had a letter from the Elder-Dempster firm (cited above) that
explained that while the Intercolonial railwaythe Trans-Mexican
linewas willing to quote the export rate, the ratemaking
power on shipments to the seaboard was in the hands of the two leading
Canadian railway lines. [They would be the aforementioned
Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Pacific.]
Then member Mr. Morrison [these early stories frequently
leave out first names] of the British Columbia Nail Company spoke
There was another side to the story.
He pointed out that any further reductions
of rates on manufactured goods shipped from the east would not tend
to encourage the development of manufacturers on the coast. His
company had to face keener competition as a result of a sweeping
reduction in the rail rates on similar goods shipped from Eastern
Canada. To this argument, the paper reported, Malkin replied
that no doubt Mr. Morrison favored getting in his raw material
at the lowest terms, to which Morrison responded that his raw material
was imported via the Tehuantepec route and by the Blue Funnel boats.
[A parenthetical note: the Blue Funnel line was
a famous English firm, established in 1865. Elder-Dempster was even
older, being established in 1852 as the African Steam Ship Company.
Blue Funnel would later take over the older firm.]
The January 4th meeting also looked at an initiative
of the provincial government to remove the pilotage station from
Vancouver to Victoria. The Vancouver Shipmasters Association
had written to The Board, protesting the change and asking for support.
Member Charles Tisdall, MLA (and future mayor), said he would write
the minister of marine for details of the changes recommended
in the department by certain unknown individuals.
Tisdall also made a strong protest against
any movement that would result in making the Vancouver pilots establish
their homes in Victoria.
Capt. Worsnop said some change was needed. At
present they had to deal with no less than four pilotage authorities,
and it was not uncommon for his steamers to have two or three pilots
on board at once.
At every port visited, Victoria, Vancouver,
New Westminster, Comox or Ladysmith, new pilots had to be engaged.
On her last trip the Georgia paid over $500 in pilotage fees,
an amount equivalent to seven per cent of her gross earnings on
the trip, and in other instances the amounts had been even greater.
The difficulties of pilotage, Worsnop said, were
virtually over after reaching Point Grey. Pilotage fees into
Puget sound did not exceed $250, he said, as compared
with an average of $400 for every ship that came to Vancouver.
Member R.H. Alexander was, he told the others, in
a delicate situation: he was the chairman of the pilotage board.
Personally, the Province wrote, Mr. Alexander
did not favor making one pilotage board for all British Columbia.
A prior experiment in that direction had not proven satisfactory.
It would be necessary to maintain two staffs of pilots at Victoria
and Vancouver. Many vessels coming to Vancouver did not touch at
Victoria . . . While the tax for a pilot for each port seemed heavy,
it should be remembered that the [ships] owners got a good
service. Vancouver and New Westminster pilotage districts had been
separated, as it was found necessary to have independent pilots
for navigating the Fraser.
Worsnop told The Board that his companythe
Canadian-Mexican Steamship linehad practically made
bookings for wheat exports of 10,000 tons to be shipped from Vancouver
to Mexico between now and May. But then he had been advised
from Calgary that the shippers expressed their inability to
ship this way owing to the lack of permanent storage facilities
in Vancouver. The grain in question had since gone east via Fort
W.H. Malkin spoke up at this point. He had been
assured by E.H. Heaps, another Board member, that a new company
hoped to be able to provide these facilities in Vancouver to handle
next seasons crop. [In the event, Vancouver didnt
get a grain elevator until 1914. It would be financed by H.H. Stevens,
encouraged by the construction of the Panama Canal.]
The January 4 meeting dealt briefly with insurance:
The Board decided to send a wire to Ottawa protesting against the
insurance bill then before the Senate. The measure,
wrote the Province, tends to exclude non-board companies from
doing business in Canada. [The board in this case was
the board of fire insurance underwriters.] The bill has already
passed the house of commons. It provides that all unlicensed companies
must pay 15 per cent of their premiums to the government. Mr. H.G.
Ross defended the measure, which in turn met with the opposition
of Mr. Malkin, who declared himself in favor of the freest competition
in the insurance business.
[A note here on style: the newspapers then didnt
capitalize the words Senate or "House of Commons."]
A letter from Ottawa asked an expression of opinion
relative to a bill before the house providing for an eight-hour
day on all public works. No further details on that in this report.
And the Board secretary was instructed to tender
an invitation to the prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to be
the guest of The Board at a complimentary banquet. It seems the
PM had abandoned the idea of a trip abroad in favor of a visit to
the Pacific coast in the summer.
In the event, Laurier would make it to the coast
that summer. It was he, in fact, who presided at the official opening
August 16, 1910 of the first Vancouver Exhibition, what we now call
the Pacific National Exhibition, the PNE. [There had been a soft
opening the day before.] The PM drew big crowds. He had come all
the way from Ottawa to open the fair, and 5,000 of us showed up
to see him from a population about one-twelfth of what it is today.
Admission to the fair was 50 cents, fairly hefty at a time when
the average weekly wage for a Canadian production worker was about
There was a long and eloquent letter from members
of The Boards committee on freight rates published in the
Province of January 17, 1910 (Page 17).
There can be no question that we are anxious
to have another transcontinental railway through British Columbia,
and that no line would be more welcome than the Canadian Northern
as Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann have shown such energy and ability
as to deserve the admiration and encouragement of every loyal Canadian,
and their willingness to meet conditions by reducing rates is also
known and appreciated.
[A note of explanation: William Mackenzie and Donald
Mann, both Canadian born, had spent much of the late 1890s in buying
up small Manitoba railway lines, and had established the Canadian
Northern in 1899. Their intent was to provide competition with the
CPR, and they began by providing a link between the prairie provinces
and Fort William/Port ArthurThunder Bay todayon Lake
Superior. This line would permit the shipping of western grain to
European markets as well as the transport of eastern Canadian goods
to the West.]
Back to the letter.
The board of trade showed that to most points
it cost nearly 50 per cent more on the average to ship certain goods
eastward from Vancouver per mile, than it does to ship the same
goods from Montreal or other eastern centres westward . . . the
rates from the east westward are so much lower as to enable eastern
merchants to send goods two or three times the distance for the
It stands to reason that if the Canadian Northern
would agree to give us the same or nearly the same rates eastward
as westward they would create new business for the railway company
. . .
The Canadian Northern railway assures us that
they have secured a very low grade, passing through a country much
more favorable to railway building and maintenance than that of
the CPR, and that they will be enabled to haul three of four times
the weight per engine than the CPR can . . .
As an ordinary business proposition it would
appear wise policy on the railways part to grant this reduction
even without any consideration of government assistance, and it
does seem to us that the government, in guaranteeing bonds to the
extent of $21 million, should obtain the insertion of such a clause
as proposed and we do not doubt that having so ably protected the
interior of the province in the past they will do so in this instance
to the fullest extent possible.
There is still another reasonable view to
take, which is, that shippers on the Pacific coast are entitled
to the same rates eastward per mile to a half-way point over a transcontinental
line as it charged on the same line westward from the Atlantic ports
to the same point, and should the government arrive at a settlement
on such a basis as this they would at one masterly stroke have solved
the problem of years.
Second Telephone Company?
A short article in the Province for January 31,
1910 (Page 11) tells us that the Council of The Board had passed
a resolution opposing the granting of a second telephone franchise
in the city. The existing franchise was held by the British Columbia
Telephone Company, todays Telus. The resolution would be considered
at the regular meeting February 8th.
That meetingdescribed on Page 23 of the Province
for February 9thheard from Charles Woodworth, representing
that second company. Despite laying out what he presented as the
benefits of his proposal, he was unsuccessful, with The Board voting
15 for not granting the franchise and seven in favor of granting
it. Of course The Board didnt have the power to enforce that
ruling, but the meeting made it clear the chances for a second franchise
were slim to none.
An interesting excerpt from the newspapers
report: Woodworth said that the fees his company would charge would
be as low as those of the present company, and their system would
be modern in every respect. When they acquired branches in Vancouver
they proposed to extend their line to North Vancouver, New Westminster,
and other outlying places connecting with the system to the south.
[Presumably a reference to Seattle, which had a single company and
apparently leaned toward keeping it that way.] The result of their
installation would be that instead of patrons being able to talk
to six or seven thousand people, they would be able to talk to 13,000.
B.C. Telephones George Halsehe later
became president and then chairman of the companytold Woodworth,
who had hinted at inefficiencies in the present companys system,
that he was prepared to bet $100 with him that he could not
show a system which would equal that of his company in any city
of similar size.
To which Woodworth responded: I will take
Member W.A. Akurst spoke up, saying he knew personally
of persons who had been trying to get telephones in their houses
for nine months. If the present company was not enterprising
enough to anticipate the requirements of a growing city it was time
they had a company which would look after their requirements.
[Note: we have a hunch that the spelling should
be Akhurst. W.A. Akhurst established Akhurst Machinery
in Vancouver in 1938. We have a strong feeling there is a connection,
and were checking!]
H. Bell-Irving said he believed the telephone company
was doing the best it could. He thought The Board must recognize
that with the extraordinary extension going on in the city
it was exceedingly difficult for the company to keep up to the mark
Member Mr. Cotterell wanted to know, said the Provinces
report, what should be considered a reasonable time to instal
a telephone in the business district.
Mr. Halse: About eight hours.
Mr. Cotterell responded that he had made application
for a telephone on December 2, and it had not been installed until
February 3. If the present company could not instal business
telephones in less than two months, and residential phones in less
than nine months, he thought it was time they had another telephone
system here . . . It frequently occurred, he said, that telephones
were out of order for four or five days at a time and no allowance
was made therefor by the company.
Ewing Buchan weighed in, observing that the failure
to keep pace with the growth of the city was common to other enterprises.
The street car time table, Buchan said, in some
cases was just as slow as it was 10 years ago.
Bell-Irving and Buchan had a point: the population
of Vancouver city in 1901 had been 27,000. By 1911 it would be just
over 100,000. The population of the city was climbing by more than
7,000 a year! And that wasnt counting the growth in the suburbs,
also serviced by the telephone company: Burnabys population
in 1901 was 750; by 1911 it would be more than 13,000. New Westminster
went from 6,500 to 13,000, the North Shore from 365 to 8,000 and
so on. The citys 1901 suburban population was about 14,000.
By 1911 that would climb to more than 62,000.
Better than Seattle
Board President E.H. Heaps thought the Vancouver
telephone system was better than that of Toronto, and he was sure
that it was a great deal better than that of Seattle. While
it might not be all that they would like, still allowances should
be made for a company that had commenced when the city was young.
Trouble due to the rapid expansion of the city was being experienced
in many lines of business.
The resolution not to approve of a second
telephone company was put and carried.
Those were the (mail) days!
Member H.A. Stone told The Board at the February
8th meeting that the postmaster had advised him that it was the
intention of the postal department to inaugurate an improved
delivery service in the city so that the need for using boxes might
be eliminated as much as possible. He understood that deliveries
were to be made at 8 and 10 oclock, and that there would be
two deliveries in the afternoon . . . Mr. W. Dalton said that a
system of letter boxes on the street cars had proved most advantageous
to business people in the old country and might perhaps be introduced
Mr. Stone said he would take it up with the
[This system of using the streetcar to carry the
mails was new to usbut only to us! And the "old country"
wasnt the only location. A check of the Internet showed that
it was happening in Chicago in 1874, and had been used in Philadelphia
streetcars from 1865 to 1867, and found a great public convenience;
but it appears that the conductors considered them an annoyance,
while the companies did not find any profit in them, so this good
institution did not spread. We have no doubt that when the New York
post-office is completed, the proper authorities will see the advantage
of placing letter-boxes on all the lines which have their terminus
at the new post-office. If we take into consideration that about
a dozen lines have their terminus there, it is evident that no better
means could be devised for a rapid expedition of letters from all
parts of the city . . . Indeed, the convenience for the dwellers
along these lines would be very great if they could drop their letters
into the cars passing there every few minutes. (Manufacturer
and Builder, March 1874.)
H. Bell-Irving proposed a resolution at the February
8 meeting that Canada should authorize the immediate construction
of one or more Dreadnoughts as an assistance to the mother country
against the German peril. He claimed that the general opinion of
Canada was in favor of such assistance being given, and that that
assistance should be substantial and not a sham.
[Dreadnoughts were named for the first of the class,
defined this way: a type of battleship that derived its name
from the British warship Dreadnought, launched in 1906. This
ship, which marked a new era in naval construction and made obsolete
every battleship afloat, bettered its predecessors in displacement,
speed, armor and firepower. It had a displacement of 17,900 tons,
a speed of 21.6 knots, a cruising radius of 5,800 sea miles, and
was protected by armor eleven inches thick. It was the first battleship
to be driven by turbines. Its main battery consisted of ten twelve-inch
guns, making it the first all-big gun ship in the world. After its
launching and until the First World War, every battleship built
with a main armament entirely of big guns all of one caliber was
considered to be in the Dreadnought class. Source here.]
There was too much opposition to the resolution,
mainly on the grounds it was too political. The Commons itself was
split on the question. The matter was now in the hands of
the government, said Charles Woodward (who had voted against
a similar resolution when it appeared before The Board on a previous
occasion), and they had better facilities for getting knowledge
as to what was necessary than the board of trade could hope to possess.
Other objections arose and with Bell-Irvings
consent the resolution was allowed to die. Still, the March 9, 1910
Province, in coverage of outgoing President E.H. Heaps year
in office, had this: At a special meeting held 24th March
last, the board put itself on record by telegraphing Sir Wilfrid
Laurier the opinion that the Dominion of Canada should at
once offer to the Imperial authorities a sufficient sum to build
a modern Dreadnought of the strongest type.
Annual Meeting, March 8
At the annual meeting of The Board on March 8, 1910
Ewing Buchan became president, succeeding E.H. Heaps.
And a resolution was approved and forwarded to the
city council advocating that the city should retain control of the
bed of False Creek, and that if the riparian rights have to be acquired
that these should be expropriated by the city. [Riparian right:
a right (as access to or use of the shore, bed, and water) of one
owning riparian landland on the bank of a river, lake or tidewater.]
A review of the previous years activities
showed that the CPRs Agassiz train had been reinstated, and
that regular Great Northern service had been established on the
south bank of the Fraser. The Board had lobbied persistently for
both results. They were pleased, too, that a daily CPR train had
been established between Vancouver and Revelstoke. The Board had
also argued for more cruisers for the more adequate protection
of our most important deep sea fisheries, and it was gratifying
to know that that had also occurred.
Highway to Alberta . . . and mail to France
The Board sent a resolution to the provincial minister
of public works saying that steps should be taken to connect
the various sections of roads in the province so as to form a continuous
highway from the coast to Alberta.
A petition had arrived from La Chambre de commerce
du Montréal urging the establishment of two-cent postage
between Canada and France . . . as a further step towards the introduction
of universal penny postage. The Board endorsed the petition.
Outgoing President Heaps ran through a list of the
subjects that had received the attention of The Board in the year
of his tenure:
- Reduction of freight rates to the Yukon
- United States lumber duties
- Day Light Saving Bill
- Coinage of Canadian gold coins, silver dollars and nickels
- Suggestion to appropriate 500 acres of Point Grey reserve as
part of university appropriation fund [A note: We believe the
reference here is to revenues to be received as a result of selling
or leasing parcels of the Point Grey lands, said revenues to be
stored up to help finance the proposed university. Point Grey
as the actual site of the university was not yet decided upon.]
- Suppression of professional gambling on race tracks
- The necessity for a new city hall
- Opposition to a second telephone system in the city
- Support for a bridge over the Second Narrows. [There was a note
of hopefulness on this issue in 1910, but such a bridge was still
many years in the future: 15, to be exact.]
Heaps recalled with pleasure visits by several distinguished
guests. Lord Strathcona, for example, had visited in August of 1909
and had been the guest of honor at a banquet in the Hotel Vancouver
on August 31. The Board also had the pleasure of entertaining
Sir Charles Rivers Wilson, President [Charles] Hays and other leading
officials of that company [the paper doesnt name the company!
It was the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway] as their guests while passing
through the city, and received from them the assurance that after
the completion of their main line to Prince Rupert a branch from
some convenient point will be built to Vancouver.
[The Grand Trunks plans didnt pan out.
Prince Rupert was to have been a great metropolis, a rival to Vancouver,
that Charles Hays planned to build at the western terminus of his
railway. His plans included a fine hotel, 14 stories high, decked
out in all the best chateau-style trappings of the day, and designed
by Francis Rattenbury. Rattenbury is the famous architect who gave
us Victorias Empress Hotel and the provincial legislative
buildings, as well as Vancouvers courthouse, now Vancouver
Art Gallery. Allan Wilson, Prince Ruperts chief librarian,
found and purchased a complete copy of Rattenburys drawings
for the hotel, and says it could be built today. Had it been
built, Wilson says on this website,
it would have rivaled the Empress, Toronto's Royal York and
Ottawa's Chateau Laurier in the pantheon of great Canadian railroad
hotels. Unfortunately, Hays, the driving force behind it and most
of the rest of Prince Rupert in those early days, made the fatal
mistake of booking space on the Titanic on his way back from England
in 1912. Over the years, the story circulated that the plans for
the hotel went down with him, which wasn't true.]
Heaps also cited the pleasure of a special interview
with Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, president of the CPR, on September
22, 1909, at which the principal subjects discussed were the
building of elevators or other provision for the storage and shipment
of grain at Vancouver; the desire of better freight rates from this
coast, particularly to the Boundary country and Alberta; and the
question of assisting immigration to this province by the granting
of more favorable transcontinental rates for immigrants, all of
which the [Boards] council was assured would receive careful
consideration . . .
He briefly reviewed the mining industry, which had
reached a production of $24 million in 1909, an increase of about
10 per cent over the previous year, but below the average of the
years from 1906 to 1908. "There was a considerable reduction
in the market value of copper produced, which was more than made
up in coal and zinc."
The forest industry was coming along famously. The
lumber produced in 1909, Heaps reported, is estimated
at $12 million, which is equal to the best year in the history of
the industry, and the outlook for 1910 is so bright that a considerable
increase may be anticipated in all its many branches . . .
Still, mill owners were complaining there had been little or no
margin of profit for them, but that the retailer gets the lions
share. In the interests of this important industry,
Heaps advised, it is desirable that, without increasing prices,
a reasonable proportion of profits should be received by all engaging
[Its interesting that mining made twice as
much in 1909 as the forest industry.]
Fisheries did not tell the same story of success.
The Fraser River pack of salmon was 567,203 cases, the Province
reported (March 9, 1910), compared with 877,136 cases in 1905 and
900,252 in 1901. Causes: adverse weather, disappointing conditions,
regulations and a closed period of 42 hours, which was observed.
That was in contrast with a 36-hour closure to Washington States
fishermen, a closure that was not observed. The Puget
Sound catch was greater than in 1905.
The Skeena River pack was down to an even greater
extent, with 140,739 cases in 1909, compared with 209,177 the year
before. Federal regulations are blamed for this small pack
. . .
The Pacific Coast catch, Heaps reported, is
estimated at five million cases. It seems conclusive that our canners
are not securing a reasonably fair proportion of the fish that should
come into our waters.
[Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a page of recent
statistics on the BC fishery here]
There had been a bad frost and that had hurt the
fruit farms of the province, but as great headway has been
made in new plantings the future prospects of this growing industry
are most promising. The proposition to hold a Canadian National
Apple Show in Vancouver this fall is deserving of every encouragement
. . . Tobacco is now being grown with reported good results in the
The federal government, Heaps said, had estimated
the value of the provinces manufacturing industries for 1909
at $30 million. New companies chartered during that year had authorized
capital aggregating $48 million, not including extra-provincial
companies, and after making liberal allowance for unlikely schemes
this shows an active interest in industrials.
Then he made a suggestion thats interesting
for its foresight: It seems, he said, at this
stage of the citys progress desirable that a special branch
of the Tourist Association, or a new Industrial Development Association
should be formed, to carry on the special work of encouraging industries.
That, of course, is what the Vancouver Economic Development Commission
does today. Youll find their website here.
President Heaps noted that Winnipeg city council
was preparing to announce special low rates for electric power
to manufacturers, there being under construction a municipal plant
for that purpose. Vancouver cannot afford to be behind in such matters.
Suggestion: A Department of Agriculture
On the subject of the preparation of agricultural
lands for settlement, Heaps thought steps should be taken
to organize a Department of Agriculture and Immigration. I
think it is a matter of regret, he said, that no action
has yet been taken by the government in the direction suggested.
Since last May the imports of agricultural produce has increased
from 7 to 11 millions. [We assume hes referring to dollars.]
I purposely make this subject my last word to you as it was also
my first as your president, and again to remind you how as a province
we are chiefly dependent on our three great natural industries of
lumbering, mining and fisheries . . . It is true $4 million is to
be devoted to public works, $117,000 for agriculture, and a liberal
allowance for surveys, but in the details of these no suggestion
is made of even endeavoring to find some practical means of encouraging
settlement by clearing lands, either owned or which could be sold
to settlers, or by any other means . . .
There was a committee considering an improvement
in The Boards quarters. They hoped to put before you
a proposal that we trust will meet our requirements for many years
to come. At its May 17 meeting The Board learned from President
Ewing Buchan that arrangements had been completed for a ten
years lease of the entire top flat of the Molsons Bank building
at a rental of $150 a month. [That building was at the northeast
corner of Seymour and Hastings, where Harbour Centre sits today.]
Membership on the roll for March, 1909 was 163.
There had been 73 new members during the year, two members had died
and four retired, leaving a present membership of 230. There had
been a total of 15 Board meetings with an average attendance of
30. Number of Council meetings: 15. Average attendance at these:
New Companies Act
For those of you thirsting to know the provisions
of the new Companies Act of 1910, youll find a summaryprepared
by William Skene, the Secretary of The Vancouver Board of Tradeon
Page 7 of the Province for May 9, 1910. They were largely concerned
with extra-provincial companies, which would now need
a licence to do business in the province, and set out a standard
of licence fees for such companies.
The May 17 meeting of The Board (cited on Page 7
of the Province for May 18) led to a warm discussion about the Act,
with some members saying they were unfamiliar with the bill and
mildly intimated that it should have been given greater advertisement
before it was passed in the legislature.
Member Charles Tisdall, who was a Vancouver MLA,
informed the meeting that the Act had been fully discussed in the
newspapers and also in the House before it was passed. I do
not think that it is right for some of the members to profess ignorance
about it, Tisdall said.
Objection was taken to the Act, the
newspaper reported, on the ground that it would prevent a
free interchange of trade between British Columbia and other provinces
of the Dominion and also with the Old Country and the continent
More below in coverage of the June 7 meeting.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King
The regular meeting of The Board for May 10, 1910
was adjourned with no business conducted out of respect for the
memory of King Edward VII, who had died May 6 at age 68 after a
series of heart attacks. He had reigned since 1901 when his mother,
Queen Victoria, died. Edward was succeeded by his second son, who
became George V. (Georges older brother Albert had died in
1892.) The president of The Board, Ewing Buchan, gave the tribute
and concluded: Although we mourn the death of the illustrious
father, we are especially favored by Providence in having his son
George V to reign over usa sovereign whose intimate acquaintance
with all parts of the Empire has made it possible for him to follow
in his footsteps. May he live to see the realization of his fathers
ideal of unity of Empire, universal peace and the amelioration of
The subject of freight rates and other transportation
matters was deemed so important to the prosperity of the city and
the province that at its May 17, 1910 meeting The Board approved
the inauguration of a Transportation Bureau in connection
with the Board of Trade to be constituted as a permanent department
in charge of a special paid secretary.
The provincial government had agreed to financially
assist The Board. They were as anxious as The Board to see equal
rates charged eastward and westward on the transcontinental railway
lines. The government had actually brought suit against the CPR,
but later dropped the suit because it had been unable at the time
to prove discrimination on the part of the railway.
The Board had asked the railway for comparative
expenses and figures, and had been rebuffed, and were now applying
in Ottawa for a formal order from the railway commission.
Seattle had such a bureau within the citys
Chamber of Commerce, headed by a man named W.A. Mearswho had
been brought up to Vancouver and interviewed by The Boards
freight rates committeeand it was the suggestion of the freight
rates committee that Mears be engaged and that he be assisted by
an advisory expert, Vancouver lawyer W.A. Macdonald, KC.
South Vancouver denied support
At the May 17 meeting The Boards committee
on railways and navigation advised against endorsing an application
of the South Vancouver Board of Trade to the federal minister of
public works to undertake dredging operations on the north arm of
the Fraser River. [A fast reminder: South Vancouver was a separate
municipality in 1910, would not become part of Vancouver until 1929.]
It was pointed out, the Province reported, that
it would be ill advised for the Vancouver board to support such
a project while the necessity of dredging the First Narrows was
such a pressing one. The committees report was adopted.
(By the June 7 meeting The Board had received a
letter from the minister of public works, William Pugsley, stating
that the government had called for tenders for construction of a
dredge to work at the First Narrows.)
More on the Companies Act
The June 7 meeting of The Board spent most of its
time on the question of the Companies Act. A petition had been received
from a number of manufacturers agents protesting against the
actwhich required that companies from outside BC would need
a licence to operate here, and would pay fees associated with that
licenceand it was moved that their petition be endorsed. A
member, Mr. Ramsay, thought the Act equalized matters and gave local
manufacturers a fair chance with outside firms. Before The Board
passed on the petition, he said, the other side should be heard.
Member George Campbell, arguing strongly against
the Act, claimed that 75 per cent of the goods sold in British Columbia
were manufactured outside the province. Other provinces had similar
acts on their statutes, he said, but they did not enforce them.
H.A. Stone said that if the act worked any hardship it was
on the smaller companies who would be called upon to pay the same
amount as the large companies.
Summed up, reported the Province (June
8, 1910, Page 4), the views of the opposition people were
that the private individual could do business without paying a licence
while a limited company was liable. In this, the Act was discriminatory
and prevented merchants buying in the cheapest market.
A Bad Reputation
Member R.H. Alexander, a former president of The
Board, said This will strike at the interchange of commodities
and give British Columbia a bad reputation. I can not see the object
of harassing the business people who sell goods here. One of the
most serious points is that a firm which is not registered has no
protection in the courts.
There was so much discussion, said the Province,
that it was decided to refer the whole matter to the committee of
trades and commerce to bring in a report before July 1.
Messrs. Ladner and Fisher, the newspaper
said, came as a deputation from the Ladner Board of Trade
asking the Vancouver board to support a petition to the British
Columbia Electric Railway Company for a direct line from Ladner
to Vancouver. The delegates pointed out the possibilities and resources
of their district in glowing colors. Ladner was only 13 miles from
Vancouver in a direct line, but 40 miles on the present route.
The route suggested in the petition is along
Number Five road, across Lulu Island to the north bank of the south
arm of the Fraser at Woodwards, thence by a bridge or ferry
to the nearest point on the south bank, and then to the village
of Ladner and on through the centre of the district.
In speaking on behalf of the petition Mr.
Ladner said a direct line would enable Ladner district to supply
Vancouver with fresh produce and would do wonders for the country.
The value of the produce of the district last year was: grain $250,000;
hay $240,000; milk $90,000; eggs $18,000 and fruit $20,000.
Their petition was heartily endorsed.
[Regrettably, that BCER line to Ladner was never
built. The little Delta community would be served by the Great Northern
More on 1910
More on The Boards 1910 activities is expected
What else was happening
locally in 1910?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1926 »