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 Board began in 1887 (details
here »), and for all those 120 years has been
promoting the economic interests of the city, sponsoring charitable
events, presenting notable speakers (recent examples include the
minister of national defence, the head of Canada Post, the chief
executive of the Port of Vancouver, many many more), commissioning
studies of a broad range of topics (like the provision of affordable
housing, or the growth in rates of property crime), bringing business
people together to form new networks, advising small business, promoting
Vancouver abroad . . . the plate is always full.
Come back often as this file grows!
The Daily News-Advertiser in its July 15, 1888 issue, reported
that The Council of the Vancouver Board of Trade had had an interview
with the visiting William Van Horne, president of the CP, on the
afternoon of the 14th. There was a good attendance of the
members headed by the Mayor, who is also the President of the Board.
[That would be David Oppenheimer.]
The report bears quoting verbatim: The subjects discussed
were of great importance to the city, comprising, as they did, the
subject of the carriage of exhibits to the Toronto exhibition, which
Mr. Van Horne promised the CPR would make no charge for; arrangements
whereby tourists can get their tickets certified here instead of
being obliged to go over to Victoria; a site for an emigration shed;
better steamship communication between Vancouver and San Francisco
and between this city and Nanaimo; the establishment of a quarantine
station here, especially important now that steamers are running
to China from here at frequent intervals; the question of Vancouver
having railway communication by way of Westminster with Seattle
and the other Sound ports, and False Creek bridge. Mr. Van Horne
discussed the whole of these matters at considerable length with
the Council and assured his listeners that the people of Vancouver
would always find the company anxious to cooperate with them in
any matter affecting the prosperity of the city.
In a column called The City (on local daily doings) on the same
page as the above report, the News-Advertiser reported that
Mr. W.C. Van Horne, accompanied by Mr. H. Abbott, went over
to Westminster by a special train yesterday afternoon on business
connected with the Westminster Southern Railway and returned last
evening. And in yet another reference in that column to Van
Horne, it reported that he was leaving for Montreal that day, his
car being attached to the regular Atlantic Express.
Van Horne is well known here; it might be interesting at this point
to pop in a short bio of Henry Abbott, important in Vancouvers
history, from the Hall of Fame pages here.
Henry Braithwaite Abbott CPR executive b. June 14,
1829, Abbotsford, Que.; d. Sept. 13, 1915, Vancouver. Studied civil
engineering at McGill. Throughout his career, he held important
positions in eastern Canadian railway systems, before appointment
as CPR superintendent. Present at laying of the last spike Nov.
8, 1885 at Craigellachie; rode the first train from Montreal to
Port Moody with Lord Strathcona and CPR president Sir William Van
Horne. In March 1886, let the contract for the clearing of the townsite
of Vancouver (pop. 500). A mountain in the Selkirks and Vancouver's
Abbott St. are named for him.
Big Sticks and Big Water
In that same The City column this appeared: Amongst the deck
load of the barque Uttock [not sure of the spelling, the print is
obscure], which is being loaded with lumber at the Hastings Saw
Mill, are 8 pieces of timber, 100 feet long and 12 by 14 inches
in thickness. It is probable that the Australians will be considerably
astonished when they see these sticks and learn from Captain Brown
that British Columbia mills could easily furnish a whole cargo of
them if a ship could stow them handily and there was a demand for
Theres a reference in the column, too, to
the citys water system moving ahead with laying of pipes across
the Narrows. For the interesting, complicated, frequently rancorous
and occasionally even funny story of how the city got
its water see the 1889 file here.
Back in 1888 the Board met only quarterly. At its December 4, 1888
meeting, according to the News-Advertiser, The Board met in
its rooms on Carrall Street. The main topic was a communication
from the New Westminster Board of Trade calling attention to the
peculiar position in which the other boards of trade in the
Province were placed by the style under which the Victoria Board
was known, viz: The British Columbia Board of Trade. The New
Westminster Board wanted its Vancouver counterpart to back it in
suggesting courteously to the Victoria group that it
consider a name change.
Tannery and Haberdashery
That December 5 News-Advertiser also reported that The Board
had received a letter from a large tanning firm in Glasgow,
Scotland (unnamed) as to the prospects for a tannery in Vancouver
and asking for details as to hides, bark, etc. The Boards
secretary (unnamed) would gather the data and pass it along to the
Council at its next meeting.
We can see why The Board would eventually move to monthly meetings.
Getting together every three months would not have been quite fast
enough for inquiries of this kind!
There was a reference in that same newspaper to the haberdashers
Page Ponsford, opening a second shop on Cordova. One of the clerks
in this prosperous firm was a young fellow named Edward Chapman.
What else was
happening locally in 1888?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1889 »