Baron and Marquis James Canby Cyprian DeBiddle Cope

We first came across ‘Baron and Marquis James Canby Cyprian DeBiddle Cope’ in a post about the St Francis Hotel, that he developed in 1906 on West Cordova at Seymour. We’ve expanded the biography here, because the Marquis had an interesting story, and owned significant property holdings in the city.

Before the Italian titles and additional names, James Biddle Cope was born in Philadelphia. He was given his mother’s name, Biddle, as his middle name. The Biddle family traced their roots back to the earliest pioneer settlements in the 17th Century.

Canby was another family name, (his grandmother’s) that he added in 1876. (He later added the ‘De’ as well). His Cope family line stretched back in Pennsylvania to 1691, when his great great grandfather was born there to Rebecca Harland and Oliver Cope, who had been born in Avebury, Wiltshire, and travelled to join William Penn in the new colony in 1683, (possibly because they were Quakers).

Alfred, James’s father, was the wealthy owner of a Liverpool shipping line, and had three children by his first wife, who died following the birth of one of the last of their children. James was the only child of his marriage to his second wife, Rebecca Biddle. Strangely, although there are many images of James’s older half-brother, the paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope, we haven’t found any of James.

James was 20 when he married Mary Louise Saunders (who was also 20, from New Jersey) in Flushing, Queens, New York, in June 1873. They had six children over the next 16 years. He obtained a degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and was called to the bar of the State that same year.

The family travelled to England soon after their marriage. Their daughter Marie Louise was born in Oxford in 1875, Frances in Oxfordshire in 1877, Alfred Cope Biddle Cope in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1879, and John in Gloucestershire in 1881. Frances’s birth was recorded in Jackson’s Oxford Journal, and the family were residents at Plas Dol-y-serre, Oxford. James was attending Worcester College, Oxford, earning a B.A. in 1878 and an M.A. in 1881. A family biography says, “he had planned studies at Oxford with the idea of entering the priesthood of the Church of England. Upon the completion of these studies, he also for a time became an officer of militia at Aldershot, and it was thought he might find promotion in the Army. This service, however, was not for long, and he soon took up the life of an English country gentleman, first in the beautiful “Cotswold House,” in the Cotswold Hills.”

The 1881 census confirms that James was living on his 200 acre estate in Gloucestershire, bought in 1879. There were a dozen servants and estate workers in the household. The family must have visited Italy during this period; their son, Alfred, died in San Remo in Italy in 1883. James sold the estate in 1885. Gladys was born in Bournemouth in Hampshire in 1886, and the impressively named Anthony Prosper Cyprian Mary Biddle Cope was born in London in 1889.

James still had property in Philadelphia as well, but his adoption of an Italian title was not well received in his home city in 1886.

In 1887 the local Emporia, Kansas newspaper reported ‘Marquis Biddle-Cope now lives in Rome’. An Arkansas paper had a slightly longer note; “The Philadelphia Press announces that “the Marquis – and Marquise Biddle-Cope are ‘coming back’ from Rome to start a salon in Philadelphia. They will never succeed, unless they call themselves Schmidt and spell saloon with two o’s”.

In 1888 the Lyttleton Times had an advertisement by Simpson & Williams, booksellers, for ‘Mad’ by the Marquis Biddle Cope. A contemporary review in ‘The Tablet’ said the book was “not suited for indiscriminate circulation” adding “it deals with things that should not be named – or even known”. He wrote at least two other novels, including Grey of Greybury in 1884, (still available today in re-print, but described as ‘undistinguished’).

A 1920s biography explained the titles that James adopted; “his interest had turned to the Roman Catholic Church and to Italy, and he and his family were baptized in that church. He gave large sums to the cause of Catholic education in Rome, and naturally was regarded as a distinguished convert.” The pope named him a Marquis of the Holy See in 1883 and the king of Italy named him a Baron in the kingdom of Italy in 1886 (presumably for his pro-Catholic views). He immediately added the titles on his books and other transactions (when he was allowed to). He was given the spiritual name of Cyprian Cope, which he also used until he fell out with the Catholic Church some years later.

In 1888 the family were at a home in Bournemouth; the ‘Marchesa Biddle-Cope’ advertised for ‘a strong active Girl for the kitchen’ and an under-nurse, who had to be a good needlewoman, for their home ‘Mentana’, Manor Road, Bournemouth.

He acquired another estate in Shropshire in England, Knill Court, where he was living in 1891 where he was listed as “Giacomo Canby Ciprious De Biddle Cope” and his son John was shown as ‘Giovanni’. In 1892 the family visited Rhyl, with the newspaper listing the visitors as  “The Marquis de Biddle Cope, The Marchioness de Biddle Cope, family & maid, Aston-on-le-Clun”. He moved on to Broadward Hall in the same Welsh border area. In 1895 Kelly’s Directory of Shropshire said the house was owned by Cyprian Cope esq., (and he already had a house in Verona in Italy at the time). In 1896 his daughter Frances wrote a long letter from the Hall extoling the benefits of wearing ‘knickers’ (the English description of knickerbocker trousers), for ladies when cycling. James sold the estate in 1900, the year his daughter Gladys died.

He acquired a great deal of property in Vancouver, possibly as early as 1890, but the earliest reference we have here is from an 1896 Court of Appeal judgement (that he won). “The appellant, who resides in England, owns real estate in Vancouver which returns a gross rent of $3,400“. The court case established that is the net profit was under $1,500 then no income tax had to be paid. In 1896 the Marquis was only seeing a profit of $1,100, so he didn’t pay income tax in Canada.

In 1897 his daughter Marie Louise married Edward Smith (actually Edward Ernest Douglass-Smith) in Brighton. The family stayed in England, and lived in Clapham, London; in 1925 they visited Philadelphia, sailing on the Zeeland. Marie was 79 when she died in Surrey, England. She had two sons, Eric in 1902 and Aubrey in 1899.

In 1900 James won a court case against James Summers, and had a piece of land on Nelson Street in the West End auctioned off. An earlier 1896 court case was reported in Victoria. His son had arrived there in 1895, and may have lived there, although he is never identifiable as a resident in street directories. It’s possible that John was the reason for this notice which appeared in a Victoria newspaper in 1899.

In 1902 his daughter Frances married Alberto Calenda di Tavani. He was born in 1865, and had been a Captain in the Savoy Dragoons, and his father was also a Baron, from Nocera in Italy. They had two children, Irene in 1903 and Gladys in 1905, (who died in 1912).

At some point in 1905 he was supposedly living in Verona, and his son, John, was living in Vancouver. The Province reported in September 1905 ‘Marquis de Biddle Cope Hurrying to Son’s Bedside’. ‘Mr. J. Cope, who is In the hospital being treated for the effects of a gasoline explosion In his residence at 518 Alexander street, is making very satisfactory progress. Mr. Cope, who is a steamboatman, had only been married a few weeks before the accident occurred. His father, the Marquis de Biddle Cope, who is one of the largest foreign property-owners in Vancouver, is now hurrying to the city. He had intended to be here shortly anyhow, but is accelerating his trip on account of his son’s accident.’

In 1905 John Cope had been a deckhand living in the rear house at 224 Prior Street. A 1908 publication, ‘The Prominent Families of the United States of America’ says John Cope married Elizabeth (‘Bessie’) Moore in 1905, and they had two children, Alfred in 1907 and Gladys in 1906. (They had two more, in 1909 and 1911). His accident nearly cost him his life, and made the lead story in the Daily World. Apparently pouring gasoline from a half-gallon can onto a reluctant woodstove isn’t the best way to get dinner prepared.

In April 1906 James was in the city again: “The Marquis de Biddlecope, one of the heavy owners of Vancouver real estate, arrived In the city last night from England to look after his interests here. He will likely remain on the coast for some time.”

We know the marquis, a he styled himself at the time, developed the St Francis Hotel across from the CPR train station in 1906.

He also developed a building on Cordova Street on a site that he may have acquired as early as 1890.


He may have developed other buildings, as he’s described as a major investor in the city (and apparently had almost unlimited funds), but building permits have been lost for some of the early 1900s.

In 1908 James had been living in Reno, Nevada. In 1909 he also owned the Yale Hotel, on Granville, commissioning the $20,000 eastern annex.

His son, Anthony Biddle-Cope was killed in action in 1915. While we haven’t found an image of his father, there was a newspaper article at the time of his death that included a picture of Anthony. He died while saving the life of a friend at Ypres in April 1915. Anthony was educated at the Barnabite College, in Florence, Italy; and was afterwards a Cadet on H.M.S. Conway, where he received the King’s gold medal. He was in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, from 1910, and went to the Front with them on the outbreak of war as a 2nd Lieutenant.

A 1920s biography describes the Marquis’s later years: “Domestic difficulties, in which his friends could not at all sympathize with him, led to a somewhat wandering life on his part. He stayed for a time in Australia roughing it on remote ranches. He even acquired property in the Fiji Islands which he visited. More recently he had a beautiful home at Goritzia, near the Alps of the Austrian-Italian frontier. But the Great War swept over this territory and his home was almost totally destroyed. Meanwhile he had returned to America and lived for a time at Asheville, N. C. He also took a long voyage to the Fiji Islands, but has now (1924) returned to Europe.”

His son John, who would eventually receive the title of Baron, stayed near Vancouver. He entered Eastman’s Naval Academy in England at the age of nine. At the age of twelve he passed all the examinations for the Naval Training Ship “Britannia,” but poor eyesight disqualified him. He wanted to be a civil engineer, but his father wanted him to attend Oxford, so he somehow ran away to Victoria, in British Columbia. He worked for a time on a farm, and put himself through the Marine School at Vancouver. He was for several years captain of boats on the Gulf of Georgia and is said to have gained the reputation of being a skilled navigator.

On his death in Shaughnessy Hospital in 1955, John’s obituary noted that he had joined the Boer War from Victoria (where he had arrived as a seaman in 1895, when he was 14), one of around 7,000 volunteers who fought from 1900 to 1902 under British command. He applied for a land grant, which may have been his home in Wilson Creek on the Sunshine Coast. John and Elizabeth had four children; Gladys in 1906, Alfred in 1907, Beatrice in 1909 and Arthur in 1911.

Although the BC Directory doesn’t identify the family, or their address in the early years they were there, the Sechelt Museum has a photograph of the modest home that the family occupied. The four children attended the school in Porpoise Bay where they came by horse and wagon. The horse spent the day in a shed behind the school.

In 1914 John volunteered again, joining the Royal Canadian Navy. This was natural as he had progressed from a deckhand to master mariner. His wartime experience caused a threat to his eyesight, but he worked as fourth officer on the CPR’s Empress of Asia before losing the sight in one eye, and reduced in the other. He apparently retired to Wilson Creek in 1925.

Mary, The Marquis’s first wife, died in 1924. A Philadelphia newspaper said she had been visiting her parents there when she died. The reference to ‘domestic difficulties’ probably referenced his leaving his wife and children for a significantly younger woman, in Italy. Mary moved to Farnham, in Hampshire. Whether the couple ever divorced is unclear. She was buried in Northwood cemetery in Philadelphia as Marie Louise Cope, under a headstone that reads ‘In memory of our Beloved Mother’. There’s no mention of the Marquis.

In 1926 James published ‘Recollections of a non-conventional, changeful life’.

Despite his Roman Catholic title, the Baron had a second family, and an Italian wife. Initially we understood his five sons were all from his time living in Italy. His obituary in a US newspaper identified two sons, James in Washington and Thomas, a reporter on the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 1915 the SS Duca D’Aosta sailed from Genova to New York. We knew that Irene Tavani was on board, the 11-year-old daughter of Frances, James’s daughter. She was sailing to join her family who were in Philadelphia. We were surprised to see she was travelling with Giacomo Cope, who was aged 62, a real-estate owner from Philadelphia. He was with his wife, Emilia, who was 41, and four sons, Tomaso, James, Edward and Roderick, aged between 2 and 12.

In 1917 Rodolfo Maria Alfredo Palesini Cope was born in the United States. His father was listed as Giacoeus Canby-Biddle Cope, aged 64, of Asheville, North Carolina. He claimed that he had been married to Donna Emelia for 15 years, and Rodolfo was their fifth child. Amelia Stefania Polesini, Rodolpho’s mother, was shown as aged 37, from Salerno.

In 1924 James Owen Cope, son of Baron and Baroness James Canby Biddle Cope di Valromita married Florence Davenport in Greenville, South Carolina, and the newspaper report said the couple would be living in Asheville.

In 1927 Selim Thomas De Hausted Cope married in Philadelphia. He was born in 1903 in Italy, and his parents were recorded as James Cope and Emelia Polesini. A genealogical study of the Cope family identified her as Emilia Maria Madelena Stephania Polisini.

It’s clear that several of James’s children wemt on to successful careers. In 2009 the release of Irish historical records mentioned Eduardo, one of James’s younger children. Eduardo tried unsuccessfully to kill himself in 1938 and was told he must leave the country or face prosecution for attempted suicide. Archived documents from the Justice Department show a series of investigations into suicides, including that of Dr Eduardo Cope di Valromita, who was working as a professor of Italian literature at University College Cork. Dr Cope tried to take his own life three months after arriving in Ireland, having become depressed. Baron Rodolfo Cope di Valromita was both an author and composer in Italy.

When he died in 1929, the Baron was living in Rome and using his Italian title. The New York times reporting “James Canby Biddle Cope, Baron Di Valromita, died on Tuesday at his home in Rome”.

Dr Simon Tunstall

Born in Quebec in 1852, Simon Tunstall gained a degree from McGill in 1873, and his MD in 1875. He practiced initially in Papineauville, Quebec, then Montreal, before heading west in 1881. He was in Lytton, and then Kamloops where he often ministered to railway construction workers. His photograph (left) was taken when he was there in the second half of the 1880s. He married Marianne Innes, who was from England, in 1885, in Victoria, (her father was a naval officer in Esquimalt).

The family moved to Vancouver in 1892, creating what a 1914 biography described as ‘a distinctively representative and remunerative practice’. He was president of the Canadian Medical Association, and on the building committee of the Vancouver General Hospital. At home Dr. Tunstall was outnumbered; he fathered five daughters.

In 1902 a commercial building foundation costing $1,600 was approved for a site on the corner of Dunsmuir and Granville. Two months later another permit was approved for a $22,000 ‘stone and brick store’, designed by G W Grant, which was built by D Saul.  In 1909 Dr Tunstall spent a further $20,000 on adding to the building, Dissette and Dean carrying out the work and Grant again designing the building, by this time in partnership with Henderson. We think that may have been an addition along Dunsmuir Street.

Vancouver Archives identify the date of the image as between 1913 and 1920, but in 1912 an extra two floors were added at a cost of $42,000. The VPL image below from 1938 shows the completed building at five storeys.


In 1905 the family moved to a house on the corner of Bute and Robson that had been built around 1900, and was first occupied by Bertha Wolf, who ran it as a boarding house.

Dr Tunstall didn’t carry out any obvious alterations to the house, other than adding a garage for his car. Seven years later, when Dr. Tunstall retired, the house was sold and the family moved to West 2nd Avenue. The picture below dates to around this period. The private Bute Street Hospital opened here, run by Mrs. Mildred A Moran from 1913.

That year Marianne was living in the West End – although she took a year to travel to Europe with two of her daughters. The Tunstall’s apparently moved again to another house on West 2nd in 1914. Dr. Tunstall apparently suffering severe problems related to his alcoholism, subsequently entering a nursing home.

Dr. Tunstall was apparently a pillar of society; a prominent doctor, a church warden, and a Freemason. The biography said “He is a gentleman of broad culture and scholarly attainments and his companionship is an inspiration to deeper interest in the better things of life.”

Dr. Tunstall was aged 65 when he died in 1917 after what the newspaper described as “a lingering illness.”, which had necessitated a move to a nursing home. No doubt his family were keen to avoid any further detail of the nature of his illness, but that was not to be.

Originally, his will had left most of his estate – said to be worth $250,000, (but later assessed as $134,000) to members of his family. However, in 1916, he amended his will, creating an allowance of $100 a month to Emma Mary Goodwin Plater for the rest of her life; this allowance would carry on for Mrs. Plater’s son, Edward William Plater, if he were to survive Mrs. Plater.

Emma Colk was born in Aylsham, in Norfolk, in 1883, and was living in the village of Walsoken, near Wisbech, in 1901. In March 1902 she married William Plater in Wisbech, and in June her son was born. In 1905 her parents moved to British Columbia, with their grandson as part of their family. The entire family of 11 arrived in Quebec City on the liner ‘Bavarian’. They were in Savona, where George Colk, Emma’s father, was a labourer in 1910, and the census found them in Yale in 1911, where George  was working on the railway. By 1916 they had moved to Vancouver, and Emma Plater was also in the city, working as a nurse. George Colk, her father, was janitor of the Tunstall Block.

The Tunstall family alleged that Simon had made the codicil to support Emma and her son while he was the victim of alcoholic dementia, and that he had come under he ‘undue influence’. The court was ready to hear the trial of the dispute In April 1918, but the parties settled the action.

Emma moved south, and as Mary Plater married Hanford Brown in Whatcom, Washington on the last day of 1920. Hanford was quite a few years older, born in Pennsylvania in 1867. In 1930 they were living in Fairmont, Los Angeles, California, where Hanford farmed a vineyard, and had an eight-year-old daughter, Mary. In 1940 they were in Antelope Judicial Township, Los Angeles, California, and Hanford was still a farmer. He died in 1945, in Spokane, Washington. Mary Brown’s death was recorded in Everett, Snohomish, Washington in 1979, aged 95. Her father, George Colk, disappeared from the Vamcouver street directories, but his death was recorded in Vancouver in 1930, aged 81, and Emma, his widow in Burnaby in 1949 aged 91.

Marianne Tunstall stayed in Vancouver after her husband’s death, and all five daughters married. Her second daughter’s husband, John Browne, died in 1920, and Marjorie and her three young children moved in with Mrs. Tunstall. Marianne died in 1935 aged 73.

Harry Jones

Henry Albert Jones was almost certainly born in Liverpool in 1851. Unlike many Vancouver pioneers he seems to have stuck to the same year of birth in all the records we’ve looked at. His father, James was Welsh, and one census identifies Harry Jones as Welsh as well, but all other records say he was English.

We don’t know when he left England, but we know he went to the USA because he was married to Jennie (sometimes recorded as Jane) Richards in Franklin, Ohio in 1875 and had three children, Edith in 1878 in Columbus, Walter (who died as a child), born in 1879 when the family were in Shawnee, Perry County Ohio and Eleanor, sometimes known as Nellie, in 1880 in Cincinnati Ohio.

J W Horne treeh-a-jonesWe know Harry Jones arrived in the town of Granville before the fire and the change of name to the City of Vancouver, so some time before mid 1886. He’s listed as having an office on Carroll Street (sic) in the 1887 publication “City of Vancouver, Terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway”  We can find his office on Cordova Street in an 1888 Street Directory. In 1890 he was one of the founders of the Vancouver Loan Trust Savings and Guarantee with at least three other partners; H T Ceperley, J W Horne and R G Tatlow. He was also identified by Mr. H.P. McCraney, ‘a very early pioneer’, in conversation with Major Matthews as being in this noted Vancouver image, supposedly taken by Harry Devine in 1886 on Granville Street soon after the fire.

In 1891 the family of real estate agent Henry A Jones, Jennie, his wife, and daughters Edith (13) and Nellie (11) are shown in the census living in Victoria, and his home is shown on Cook Street in the BC Directory.

There was also real estate agent, Henry A Jones, Clara, his wife, her mother and their domestic Laura Drake shown living in Vancouver. Henry was listed in the BC Directory that year as a notary public in Vancouver, as well as agent for Atlas Fire Insurance at his offices on Cordova Street, and his home address was on Georgia (at Bute).  He was listed as having $20,000 worth of property in 1889, doubling to $40,000 only two years later.

We know that Henry and Clara married in Columbus Ohio in 1889, so perhaps for the sake of appearances, or to protect the children, H A Jones led a double life; presumably unintentionally he increased the population count of the Province at the same time.

100-e-hastingsThe first building that is definitively identified with Harry is 100 East Hastings, built in 1893. His name is on the water hook-up for the building, now one of the oldest wood-frame structures in the city.

In 1890 The Jones Block was developed on West Cordova, and as Harry had his office in the building, he was almost certainly the developer. The building, (seen here in 1919) was designed by N S Hoffar, and was built simultaneously with the identical next door neighbour, developed by Gilbert McConnell.

In 1898 Harry chartered the small steam tug On Time, creating the Vancouver Tugboat Co. Jones retired in 1919 and for a while the company was inactive. It was re-established in 1924 by Harry’s children, Harold and Ruth. During the 1930s the company built up its scow and barge operations, especially the barging of sawmill waste to pulp mills. In addition to being the largest tug and barge operation on the lower coast, Vancouver Tug also owned Vancouver Shipyards; in 1970 it merged with another tugboat company to become Seaspan, today part of the Washington Group.

beaconIn 1899 Harry almost certainly developed this West Hastings building, now known as the Beacon Hotel. His name is in the 1900 Street Directory as occupying the West Hastings Street building, and he’s still paying for repairs as owner in 1922. The design isn’t so different from the Jones Block, and so might also be by Hoffar.

As well as his business activities, Harry had a busy time with family events. His daughters from his first marriage were both married. In 1898 Edith Jones was married in New Westminster to James Lusier. In 1899 Eleanor Jones married Arthur Wellesley Gray in New Westminster. Edith’s first marriage didn’t last long; in 1901 she was living in New Westminster with her mother (listed as Mary Jones) and her two-year-old daughter, also called Edith, and was divorced. By 1906 Edith was married again, to William Greenlees, owner of a wharf and bridge construction equipment company. They had four daughters, and Edith died, aged 70, in 1948. Eleanor’s marriage lasted until 1912, the year she died. Her widower was elected as mayor of New Westminster a year after her death, and then entered provincial politics, becoming Minister of Lands from 1933 to his death in 1944. (Wells Grey Park is named after him).

In the 1901 census he was called Henry, born in England and as well as Clara there were two children, Ruth, aged 8 and Harold aged 6 and Laura Drake, their domestic. Both children had been born in the US, although there’s no sign that the family weren’t living in Canada for any extended period. In 1911 he was living with Edith and his son-in-law William, and was shown as being called Harry and born in Wales.


The third building that Harry Jones built was known as the Laursen Building. The building permit dates from 1920, although it doesn’t tell us who the architect was. It was built at a cost of $15,000 by Baynes and Horie. Harry Jones ran his real estate agency from the building (addressed as 592 Seymour) in 1922; His son, Harold Jones, also worked from here as a manufacturer’s agent selling wire rope.

h-a-jones-1922In 1922 Harold lived on Trimble Street, but a year earlier in the 1921 Directory he was living at 590 Seymour, where Harry is shown living in the 1921 census, having moved from Cordova the year before. In the 1921 Census he was shown married to Madge, 20 years younger, and born in Norway. They had married in Santa Ana in California in 1913, where he was described as divorced with 2 previous marriages, and she was a widow who had also been married twice before.

We have a picture of Harry in 1922, because he attended the Pioneer’s Picnic on Bowen Island that year. He didn’t occupy his offices here for very long, as he died in Capitola, California in 1923.

Dr E N Drier

E N DrierDr. Ezra Newton Drier was born in Woodstock, New Brunswick somewhere between 1870 and 1872. In the 1891 Census, when he was still living at home in New Brunswick he was shown to be born in 1871, although the 1901 entry says it was 1870. His second marriage in 1909 recorded his birth date as 1872, and his death certificate also said 1870.

He arrived in Vancouver, as best we can tell from Street Directories, in 1901. He practiced very successfully as a doctor, with offices on Pender Street and a home initially in the West End. Dr. Drier and his wife, Hope (also from New Brunswick) obviously also enjoyed travel. In 1902 he took over as the surgeon on an Australian liner, (owned by the Oceanic Steamship Company) the SS Moana, for a two month period. He hired W T Whiteway to design his house at 1101 Burnaby Street.

430 W PenderDr. Drier was a man with many interests; in 1905 he patented an arm splint, and in 1906 he hired Grant & Henderson to design a commercial block at 432 West Pender Street. His own offices had moved to the Fairfield Building on Granville Street, although by 1912 he was in the block he developed, and also lived there. Also in 1906 he conducted the installation of new officers of the Elks lodge; he was described as the “past exalted ruler, an officer of the supreme lodge of Canada

In 1907 it was reported in the Vancouver World that “Dr. E. N. Drier, of Vancouver, lately purchased a very beautiful site on the Capilano river overlooking the last canyon in D. L. 593. This block of land and adjoining tracts is believed to be the choicest on the river for scenery and location, and also being a most suitable situation for a hotel or sanitarium.” We’re not aware whether he actually developed anything on this site.

A year later, in June, it was reported that Hope Drier had died; “The deceased lady had been ill for some time. She was native of Richmond, N. B., to which place the remains will be sent on this afternoon’s train, accompanied by her husband and mother”

Early in 1909 Dr. Drier remarried, to Jessie Townsend Reid. Jessie was the daughter of a Scot, John Reid, and Alice Cockayne, and was born in Port Townsend although by 1901 the family were resident in Vancouver. The family had a daughter, Francelle, in 1910, and a son, Newton died at birth in 1911. After his marriage he took an extended trip to Europe with his new wife, but took up his medical practice again in his return.

Hampton Court 1243 Thrlow 1975 CVA 780-421In 1911 Dr. Drier (wrongly identified as Dr. Driver in the Contracts Journal) was involved in the establishment of a company called Western Securities, who had Grant and Henderson design Hampton Court, a six storey apartment building built by J J Dissette at a cost of $100,000 (seen here in a 1975 Vancouver Archives picture). The 1243 Thurlow Street address is actually the same as 1101 Burnaby Street – so Dr. Drier demolished his nine year old home to develop the apartments.

In 1916 he relocated to New Zealand, where he quickly gained a reputation of some importance. He was quoted in newspapers soon after his arrival: as a Canadian Dr Drier did not see many points in favour of a nationalised medical service (a proposal being debated in New Zealand at the time). In 1919 he was in Auckland, commenting on the Spanish influenza (which was, in his opinion, a separate illness and not really influenza).

The family returned to Vancouver in 1932. There’s a substantial collection of items donated by Dr. and Mrs. E Newton Drier in the Museum of Vancouver, showing they spent some time collecting in South Africa and New Zealand. In the year he returned Dr Drier donated his collection of 750,000 shells to the museum, and there are other important ethnological items in the collection from the Driers. He took on the role of honorary curator of the items.

Ezra Newton Drier died, aged 70, in Vancouver in 1941.

George Byrnes

George Byrnes has very little written about him, but he is important for having developed one of the first buildings after the 1886 fire – and it’s still standing.  Census records and newspaper reports from here suggest he was born in Sydney, New South Wales in 1840 or 1841, but we’ve recently heard from family members in Australia that he was born in 1839 in Dungog, about 200 kilometers north of Sydney near Newcastle, and then we found this Sydney Mail piece from 1897 which seems more specific, but is actually just confusing, as Dungog (where his birth was registered) and Tamworth (in the newspaper below) are some 250 kilometers apart. (Thanks to Dennis Donovan and Edward L’Estrange, who also added some of the information that follows).

His parents were Thomas and Frances (Fanny) A Byrnes and they had been married in Sydney, also in 1839. He was reportedly in the stationery business and then sheep-raising, before coming to Victoria “to join his mother, whose husband Mr. Byrnes stepfather was the proprietor of the Bee Hive and afterwards the St. Nicholas hotels, when they were the chief hotels of the city“. (obituary notice, Times Colonist). A photograph of Mrs Byrnes refers to her as becoming Mrs Lee, although she certainly seems to have been known as Mrs Byrnes at the Bee Hive.

George nearly didn’t make it to meet his mother; he was one of only three saved from the shipwreck of the Coya sailing from Sydney to San Francisco in 1867 – two were ship’s crew and he was the only passenger to survive. On the day she hit the rocks, Coya carried 29 passengers and crew. Among the travelers were six women, including the captain’s wife and daughter. Most were below deck enjoying tea.

The sea kept lifting her from rock to rock, crushing in the bottom,” recalled George Byrnes, a passenger. “With the sea breaking over us, nothing could be seen but a mass of hissing foam.”

George Byrnes, City of New Westminster archives

He went from Victoria to the Cariboo gold fields in the same year that he arrived, although he obviously maintained connections with Victoria as he was elected to Masonic Office there in 1870. He was appointed tax collector in 1873 and also Sheriff in Cariboo District at $500 a year.

George got married in Barkerville to Maria Neate (ne Halley) who was born 21 May 1849 in Dublin and had been married to William Collyer Neate, an Oregon pharmacist. Anecdotal evidence is that Maria lived in Portland, Oregon and then moved to British Columbia. She was divorced in 1874 and custody of the two children Albert and Lily Mabel were granted to Maria and she married George Byrnes in the same year. She died in Victoria B.C. June 29 1900 of a heart ailment after several months in hospital. Albert Neate died in a horse riding accident (in California) in about 1903 and after George and Maria died, Lily married James Sharp the manager of the Hudson Bay Company in Port Simpson where her daughter Hilda was born in 1906. James and Lily eventually left Canada and finally settled in Brisbane Australia.

Mrs Maria Byrnes & Miss Lily Byrnes, BC Archives

George was appointed Notary Public in Cariboo in 1876, and Commissioner in 1877. He was Involved with two different gold mining claims in Barkerville in 1878, one also involving P C Dunlevy and F J Barnard (of Barnard’s Stagecoach line).

In the 1881 census George was living in Richfield & Barkerville & Lightning, Cariboo, BC, aged 40 with Marie (ten years younger) born in Ireland, and Lillie Mabel (sic), aged 12, born in the USA. With them appear to be Elizabeth, George and Margaret Pinkerton, aged 5, 4 and 1. Two Pinkerton’s were partners with George in one of his Barkerville mines, and both were living alone in Barkerville in 1881.

George was paid to be the returning officer in Cariboo for the Federal election in 1882 – one of 5 in BC. He advertised a Portable Sawmill for sale in Barkerville in 1883, for Mr Robert Tatlow of Victoria (Tatlow was a real estate and insurance businessman who had been private secretary to the Lieutenant Governor, Richards, and who later moved to Vancouver).

August 24 1884, “The Card of Mr George Byrnes, late Sheriff of Cariboo, and now a valued resident of Victoria appears in this issue. Mr Byrnes, who is a gentleman of experience and ability, has leased the commodious building on the northwest , corner of Fort and Langley streets” (Times Colonist). By October he was selling lots in Hastings Townsite. His arrival in Victoria is noted in March 1886 on the Louise, from the mainland.

When Vancouver was in its infancy Mr Byrnes purchased a considerable amount of property In what is now one of the principal sections of the town , and which a couple of years ago became very valuable” (obituary notice, Times Colonist). One parcel was the site of the burned out Deighton House – where Jack Deighton had moved his hotel before he died. George erected the Alhambra Hotel, although it also carried his name as ‘The Byrnes Block’. The new building was designed by Elmer Fisher, but apparently not (initially) for George. The initial tenders for the stonework were handled by Rand Bros, a well-known firm of land agents; and the architect was still based in Victoria.

Once the project was underway, in April of 1887, George was identified as the client, and a publication in 1887 refers to ‘The Byrnes Block’ as being constructed.

The block has lasted extraordinarily well, and a recent restoration has returned it to close to its original appearance.

We know that George didn’t conduct his business by long distance from Victoria. He came to town, and ended up in a famous early image of Maple Tree Square, taken just before the 1886 fire. A 1929 Vancouver Sun interview with Harry Devine, the photographer of the 1886 image below identified the two men standing in the centre of the picture. “The man with his back to the camera is J M Spinks, pioneer realty man, and brother of the late Judge Spinks of Vernon. The bearded gentlemen with the derby hat, light coat and leather leggings is George Byrnes, Vancouver’s first auctioneer”.

In the 1891 census George, Maria and Lily were living in Victoria – George is now noted as aged 48, a two year difference from his 1881 entry, and four years younger than he really was.

He auctioned racehorses in 1894, owned land that was given up for construction of the new railway on Vancouver Island in 1895, was a Hospital Trustee in 1896 and was still advertising as an auctioneer in Victoria (one of several) in the Daily Colonist of 1898. His death, from a heart attack, was reported on the 13th of March 1899.

Baynes and Horie

Edgar George Baynes and William McLeod Horie were partners in a construction business they started in 1893, and were responsible for constructing over a hundred of the city’s building. They weren’t just content to build other people’s projects; E G Baynes in particular developed a series of commercial projects and houses. They invariably built their earlier buildings without the involvement of an architect, so appear as developer, architect and builder on many Building Permits.

Baynes has a significantly higher public profile, although Horie was the older of the two. Horie’s name suggests he was of Scottish extraction – and several generations back this is true – his grandfather was born on Orkney in about 1794. His grandparents moved initially to Nova Scotia with their first child, Mary (born in Scotland), to River Philip where they had five more children including William’s father Joseph. They then moved to Port Daniel in Quebec where two more children were born and their family grew up. Joseph married Melinda Ramier, a Port Daniel native in her home town in August 1857. Over a period of 23 years they had ten children, including William – the oldest, born either in 1857 (family records) or in 1858, a year after his parents married (his birth date in the 1891 census) – or a year after that (1901 census)

We know from family records that William Horie came to British Columbia in May 1889. He was a carpenter, and had married Mary Lawrence in October 1887. His son Roy is shown as being born in August 1889 in Quebec, so perhaps Mary joined him a little later and daughter Edna in British Columbia in December 1890. From their arrival in Vancouver the family continued to grow, Alfred was born in 1891, Harold in 1893, Frank in 1895, Maxwell in 1898, Gordon in 1901, Ivan in 1903 and Dorothy in 1906.

Edgar Baynes was born in September 1870 in Bocking, Essex. His family were farmers – and pretty successful ones if his parents subsequent move to Broxted Hall in Dunmow is any indication. He was the oldest of at least six children (from the 1881 UK census) and left school ‘early’ to join his uncle’s building and contracting firm. How early isn’t clear – but he arrived in BC in 1889 with his uncle, J A Franklin, having learned his trade as a builder. A 1914 biography of Edgar says they worked together for a couple of years, then he moved to the Squamish valley as a rancher (which probably explains his absence from the 1891 Census) before returning to Vancouver in about 1893 where he returned to being a builder, and teamed up with William Horie. Family records say it was actually a homestead up the Cheakamus River, upstream from Squamish, and that he rowed there from Coal Harbour to establish his claim.

He married an Ontario native, Margaret McAlpine in April 1899 when he was 28 and she was 25. They had four children, Doris Lillian born in 1903, Jean Hetty in 1904, George Edgar in 1907 and Margaret Anderson in 1908.

Both men were active trade unionists and served on the executive of the carpenters’ union in the 1890s. They could tackle building both framed and masonry buildings. They later added poured in place concrete construction to the methods they adopted – some of the earliest in the city. Two of the earlier buildings they built that are still standing are the 1902 $7,000 brick and stone store designed by Thomas Parr for T McWhinnie, and the adjacent $12,000 buildings built in the same year for Borland and Brown and designed by Parr and Fee.

The building on the left was for T McWhinnie, the two on the right for Borland and Brown, both 1902. The last company in the buildings was BC Collateral.

307 Main Street, built in 1902

In that same year they built a small brick store building on Main Street for $2,500 for themselves. They were also already picking up contracts from some important clients – BC Electric Railway Co had them build a wood and iron building on Barnard Street, and further larger contracts followed in later years. They picked up other important public clients like the Park Commission and the School Board, and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1905 the built another larger building for their own investment purposes on the corner of Howe and West Pender Streets.

Their contracting work expanded dramatically, in 1909 they had over $200,000 worth of contracts, and in 1912 11 projects worth over $475,000.

The company were involved in public works – in particular they erected the arch into Stanley Park. Edgar Baynes would become an active Parks Commissioner in later years.

As well as the projects developed by Baynes and Horie for themselves, Edgar Baynes increasingly invested in real estate on his own account. We’re assuming the projects recorded as being for for Edmund Baynes and Edward Baynes are his too – it’s fairly certain he was known as ‘Ed’ Baynes (and Mr Horie as ‘Will’) from conversations recorded by Major Matthews in the early Vancouver Archives, and there were no Edward or Edmund Baynes in Vancouver. In 1910 Baynes and Horie built this W F Jones designed building for E Baynes on the corner of Broadway and Alberta

In 1912 Ed Baynes built a $150,000 building on Howe Street, the Grosvenor Hotel.

Although that hotel no longer exists, in the same year he also built a $45,000 commercial building on Powell Street, which he designed and built.

William Horie was also developing in 1912; he built a 4-storey warehouse on Howe Street that year which cost $50,000, and was built by the partners. It was only demolished in the 2010s to make way for Vancouver House, the condo tower that leans over Granville Bridge.

A couple of years later Ed Baynes had Sharp and Thompson design a number of houses which he built on West 42nd Avenue, two of which are still standing.

In the mid 1920s Ed built Vancouver’s first parking garage on Water Street, leased to Nagle Brothers. In 2009 it was restored and had 3 extra storeys added, but the original poured concrete structure looked like this before that significant change to the building’s appearance.

In 1926 they developed the Harbour Block on Alexander Street.

Ed Baynes had been the president of Vancouver Builder’s Exchange from 1908 to 1912, and a member of the Vancouver Park Commission from 1924 to 1939. He was Parks Board Commissioner from 1924 to 1928 and had a term as chairman of property and sites committee, during which time he took part in acquiring park areas. As chairman he was involved in a plan to bring Brockton Point Oval up to International Track and Field Standards and installed the organ in Stanley Park Pavillion on October 27, 1946.

Edgar was elected Vice-President of the Vancouver Horticultural Society and Farmer’s Association in 1938. In December 1938 he was voted the Hotel Industry’s “Man of the Month”.

Will Horie died in 1940, but Ed Baynes continued to have a very active presence in the city. In 1942 he revived the road project of Squamish to Vancouver Highway as director of BC Automobile Association.

From 1938, he was a member of Kiwanis Club. He served as the director of the Canadian Club. He was also an honourary member of Vanderhoof Board of Trade and executive member of BC Manufacturers Association. He was also a member of the BC Hotel Association, Vancouver Entertainment Association, Canadian Town Planning Association, and Vancouver Property Owner’s Association. He served as chairman of building and property committee of Vancouver Preventorium for 15 years and also 10 years in the same capacity for the Alexandra Orphanage. He was a member of council of the Board of Trade, warden of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and President of the Vancouver Historical Society. For 15 years he served on the executive of the Vancouver branch of Canadian Forestry Association. He was also a member of the Terminal Club, Sons of England, Marine Golf and Country Club, and the Vancouver Bowling Club.

Edgar donated an organ to the Pavilion Ballroom in Stanley Park on October 27, 1946. His name was released as the donor in October 1948. He died in 1956.

The Lightheart Brothers

Advertisement in a 1924 Evening Sun

Emery Barnes Park in the Downtown South area, is a new park that has been developed over a number of years. To the north of the block there is a 1910 building which these days is called Brookland Court. It was built by two brothers, who are referred to in the architectural history books as ‘the Lightheart Brothers’, and in the 1920s it was known as The Lightheart Block. The brothers were builders who designed their own developments and previously had been owners of a factory on the site before they built the apartment building. Two other brothers are mentioned in passing as well. What hasn’t been noted until now is that there were in fact six different Lightheart brothers, all of whom ended up living in Vancouver and all of them involved in construction and development. None of the brothers are mentioned in any contemporary biographies of worthy citizens, despite their significant development activities.

In the 1881 Census 32 year old Joseph Lightheart was living in Nottawasaga, Simcoe in Ontario, (on Lake Huron); a farmer who had been born in Ontario into a family originally recorded as being of German origin (although family members had been born in Nottawasaga at least back to 1800, and most seem to be of Scottish decent). In 1861 he was living in a large family headed by William Lightheart who was a shingle weaver.

Joseph’s wife Alice, born in England, was also aged 32, their daughter Mary was 6, and sons William and Joseph were 5 and 3. There was another brother – a 2 year old also (confusingly) recorded as William, but also called James. Ten years later Joseph and Alice’s family has grown – (although their daughter, Mary, died in 1887). There were now six sons, and Joseph senior was recorded as a labourer. William #2 was missing, but another son, Thomas, was recorded.

Two others had been born and christened between George and Oliver; Alice and Robert, twins, who, like Mary, may not have survived. A final child, a daughter, Emma, was born in 1893.

Family history says William (known as Will) and Joseph arrived in 1898. Joseph worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Crows Nest for two years – the railway offered free passage for two years work. The brothers had very little education; they were self taught. Their first job in Vancouver was stacking wood, then they worked as carpenters. Joseph briefly went to San Francisco, and fell in love with the architecture, and Will went to Alaska to check out the gold rush, but both returned to Vancouver.

1899 Lightheart family. [Pat Crawford]

In 1899 the family (without William and Joseph), sat for a studio portrait. This image shows Tom (Thomas), George, and Jack (Jacob) behind Alice and Joseph Lightheart, with Oliver and Emma in front.

William Lightheart, 1908 [Pat Crawford]

 The 1901 Census William and Joseph both lodged with James A Johnston and his family. 25 year old William was working as a builder and his 23 year old brother Joseph as a carpenter. They appear in the 1901 City Directory at 604 Hamilton Street, which presumably was their works yard. That same year T J Lightheart applied for a permit to build a house at 1111 Richards. In 1901 William built a house on Burrard Street and in 1902 he built a house for George Whatmore on 8th Avenue. He’s seen here in a studio portrait dated 1902. Joseph developed a a substantial house costing $2,200 in the same year on Burrard Street. They built the Sash & Door factory on Seymour Street because they couldn’t get supplies for the houses they were building in Vancouver.

The rest of the family were living in Winnipeg in 1901; in fact, the entire family were shown there, including Joseph and William. Joseph senior, and all the older children were listed as carpenters. The family name was recorded as Lighthart, but all the names and birthdates were recorded accurately. Clearly the family didn’t stay long, but it fits with the information in his death notice that George Lightheart arrived in the city in 1902.

Sash & Door Factory, 1904. [Pat Crawford]

This might explain why, in 1902, the entire family are missing from the directory records, but in 1903 there were six Lighthearts in town, five of them (George, Jacob, Captain Joseph, Thomas and William) all living at 1111 Richards Street, and Joseph R at 1262 Burrard. Captain Joseph was the brothers’ father. In 1904 the five brothers were listed living at 1111 Richards, the year in which Lightheart, W A and Bros were shown having a factory at the corner of Seymour and Helmcken.

Over the next few years they became increasingly ambitious in their projects. In 1904 they were builders (but not developers) of a number of houses, in 1905 Jacob developed two houses on 9th Avenue as a speculative development, and a year later teamed up with George to develop at least eight houses costing over $23,000 to develop. Comprehensive records are lost in this period, so these are just what can be gleaned from newspaper coverage. The same brothers, (George and Jacob) teamed up in 1907 to build four houses on Cardero between Nelson and Barclay. Remarkably all four houses, which each cost $4,000 to build, are still standing today. Thomas Lightheart was also building houses on Robson Street and on Comox Street.

954-78 Cardero Lightheart

Joseph Lightheart, 1908 [Pat Crawford]

In 1908 Joseph and William were living at 1262 Burrard, and the other three brothers George, Jacob and Thomas were living at 1111 Richards with Joseph senior. Oliver, the sixth brother, was now living with them. Joseph had his picture taken that year.

In 1909 there were some changes in where the family were living. Jacob was in partnership with George and shown living at 748 Bidwell, although George was still at 1111 Richards, as was Joseph senior, Thomas and Oliver. Joseph R was now at 1123 Richards, while William was still on Burrard Street. ‘Jacques’ Lightheart, capitalist, was listed living on Cardero Street, which we think might be a reference to Jacob, who was called Jack in the family.

Brookland Court, the most altered of the Lightheart Brothers buildings (including an added floor) and these days non-market housing

The first apartment to be built was the Seymour Street building that William and Joseph built at a cost of $120,000 in 1909 on the company factory site. There was a more modest frame apartment built that year by Thomas and Oliver Lightheart at a cost of $15,000 on Nelson Street these days called the Clifton Apartments. Jacob, probably with his brother George, built an apartment building on the corner of Bidwell and Barclay Streets that is no longer standing. The family sash and door business wasn’t abandoned, the factory was located in Marpole in south Vancouver.

Clifton Apartments 1909 and Nicola Apartments 1910

In 1910 Jacob was living at 1686 Bidwell, although he had built a $9,000 house in West Point Grey the year before. The rest of the family were in the same homes as the year before. By 1911 Emma had arrived in the city, and was living at 2941 Burns St (these days it’s called Prince Albert St) in a house built by George in 1910, and he was living there as well with Joseph, Oliver and Thomas. Jacob was at 1686 Barclay and William was still living on Burrard Street.

1911 was the census year – and how reliable the census data is can be see in the numbers of Lighthearts identified that year – (It’s not as many as we know were actually resident in the city). William and his wife Winnifred and children William and V. (no name was listed) were at Burrard St with their English born domestic, Edith Ponsford. Jacob and his Scottish wife Christina, their 2-year-old son (also Jacob) and two of her relatives, John and Isabella Mowatt were at the Barclay St address (along with an English family who were lodging; Alexander and Elizabeth Mustard and their son, also Alexander). No other Lighthearts were recorded by the census, and Joseph senior was also missing from the street directories – although he may have been in hospital as he died in March 1912.

In 1912, Thomas built another apartment building adjacent to the Nelson Street building on the remaining half lot on Nicola Street, and planned a much more substantial $250,000 building on Bute Street, called Strathmore Lodge which the permit says he partnered in developing with his brother Jacob. However, he died that year, and the press notice said that it was Oliver who had originally partnered with him, and following his death would be developing on his own. We don’t know if the permit, or the newspaper were wrong.

The Royal Alexandra Apartments, these days called Strathmore Lodge

In 1912 William proposed another apartment building on Fir Street at a cost of $140,000. (We think it was never developed, and the Granville Bridge off-ramp sits on the site.) A year later in 1913 another Bute Street lot was proposed by Oliver with a $200,000 apartment building, but the ambitious project was also dropped.

That year Joseph had moved to Alberta Street, and in 1913 Jacob was in real estate and living at 1086 Bute (Strathmore Lodge, that he had recently developed). From this point on a number of other people called Lightheart were living in the city making it more difficult to follow the family fortunes.

In 1921 Joseph’s widow Alice was still at Burns St, George was managing the Bute St building but living in Shaughnessy Heights, Jacob was living on Comox Street, Joseph on West 14th Avenue and Oliver on West 12th Avenue. William remained at Burrard Street.

The 1921 Census shows all five remaining brothers, and their families. William’s wife, Winifred Maud was from Manitoba and they had four children aged 14 to 8; Cecil, William, Frederick, and a daughter listed as Murfred. Joseph’s family were his wife, Jessie, born in the US, and a daughter, Marine, who was 3. Joseph was shown aged 62 (actually he was 43), and Jessie 38. Oliver was married to Margaret from PEI, and they had a one-year-old son, Lloyd, and a domestic servant, Louise Bestwick. George’s wife, Mabel was also from PEI, and they had two children, Margaret and Ralph, as well as sharing their home with Margaret Scott, an aunt, Winnifred Cairns, George’s sister-in-law and Hildem Johnson, their Swedish servant. Jacob’s wife, Christine, was Scottish, and they had two children, Jack and Clarence, and Christine’s brother, John Mowatt living with them. (There were still Lighthearts – presumably relatives – living in Nottawasaga in Ontario.)

In 1923 there were six apartment buildings proposed by the brothers, with three being built, two dropped, and one delayed. The Fairmont Apartments were built by Jacob and George on Spruce Street, Oliver built the Berkeley on his Bute Street lot, planned for a bigger building a decade earlier, and George developed Laurelhurst on Hemlock at 12th Avenue. Nearly a century later all three buildings are still standing.

The Berkeley

Laurelhurst [Pat Crawford]

Fairmont Apartments

In 1927 Emma was a dressmaker, living at 2570 Spruce (in a building developed and designed by George and Jacob in 1923) and Jacob was now listed as owner of Renfrew Lodge, built in 1925 at 2570 Hemlock Street. In 1923 he had designed a $50,000 building for the site – one of seven in the same neighbourhood that various Lightheart brothers had proposed to build that year. While several of the others were built, this site was delayed for an H H Simmonds design for a $90,000 building. Oliver was living on Cypress Street.

Renfrew Lodge, these days known as Hemlock Place

Oliver owned the Marlborough Apartments, on Jervis Street, built in 1928 and lived in West Point Grey

Marlborough Apartments 1928 [City of Vancouver Archives Bu N263]

By 1931 Alice had moved to Stanley Park Manor on Haro Street, built that year, where Cecil Lightheart (almost certainly William’s son) was manager and William was the owner and developer of the $200,000 building, although there was a registered architectural firm designing the building, Hodgson and Simmonds).

Stanley Park Manor

Both Cecil and William had homes in Shaughnessy, and Louise, George’s widow lived there too. Jacob was now listed as proprietor of the Cambridge Apartments, and was living on Bidwell Street, and Joseph owned and managed Vallejo Court, on West 10th Avenue but lived on West 14th Avenue. This was built in 1927, and had originally been submitted as a 1923 project by George Lightheart.

Vallejo Court

We’re not aware of any further projects developed by any of the family, although further permits may still come to light. It’s remarkable how many of the buildings developed by the brothers still stand today.

The Lighthearts: Children of Joseph Lightheart, born Orangeville, Dufferin, Ontario, 6 June 1848, died 7 March 1912, aged 63 and Alice Maud, born 24 June 1848, died November 1923.

(Mary Lightheart, born 1875, died 1887).

William Akitt Lightheart, born 29 October 1875, died 19 December 1966 aged 91. Married Winnifred Maud Vickers, (born 1881, died 1953).

A notice in The Province said “William Lightheart, owner of Boulder Island in Indian Arm, has died at the age of 91. A world traveller and apartment builder, who in his 80s made a habit of taking the first flight on new airplane runs, Lightheart last made headlines in August when the boulder his island was named for dis appeared. The 20-ton granite rock, which measured eight by 13 feet, was broken when the North Star Marine Salvage Co. tried to moor a barge to it. The rock toppled into the water and broke in two. Lightheart, owner of the island for more than 70 years once built a home there but it was destroyed by vandals. Since then he visited it regularly on Sunday outings.”

Joseph Robert Lightheart, born 6 Sept 1877, married Jessie Martell then later Annie Hendry of Alberta (born 1909), died 9 April 1971 aged 93.

Thomas James Lightheart, born Jan 1 1879, died April 1912 aged 33.

Jacob Valdone Lightheart, born 11 April 1881, died 9 September 1955 aged 75. Married Christina Mowatt, born 1881.

George Edward, born 10 Aug 1883, died 1930, aged 47. Married Mable Louise Cairns of PEI 1915, born 1889, died 1954.

(Alice and Robert Lightheart, born 1886).

Oliver Richard Lightheart, born 30 Aug 1888, married Margaret Macgregor of PEI, 20 March 1918, died N Van 20 Sept 1971 aged 83.

Emma Lightheart, born 27 Jan 1893, married Grant Nicol Murchie, died 15 July 1962 aged 69.

The buildings:

W A (William) Lightheart; Burrard Street – $1,500 frame dwelling.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; 1111 Richards Street – $1,400 frame dwelling.

J R (Joseph) Lightheart; Burrard Street – $2,200 frame dwelling.

(several projects where Lightheart brothers were builders, but not owner of the site).

J V (Jacob) Lightheart; 9th Ave – $3,400 2 dwelling houses.

J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Comox St – $6,000 2 handsome frame dwellings.
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Pendrell St – $7,000 2 frame dwellings.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; Robson St – $3,000 frame dwelling.
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Pendrell St – $7,000 2 frame dwellings.
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Nelson St – $3,500 2 frame dwellings.

T J (Thomas) Lightheart; Robson St – $6,000 2 frame dwellings.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; Comox St – $3,500 frame dwelling.
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Nelson St – $8,000 2 frame dwellings.
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; Nelson St – $16,000 4 frame dwellings.

T J (Thomas) Lightheart; Pendrell St – $7,000 frame dwelling.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; 13th Ave – $3,500 frame dwelling.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; Pendrell St – $2,500 frame dwelling.

W A (William) & J R (Joseph) Lightheart; 1102 Seymour St (Lightheart Block, now Brookland Court) – $120,000 apartment.
T J (Thomas) & O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 1460 Nelson St (Clifton Apartments) – $15,000 frame 3-storey apartment house.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; 1642-1648-1656-1662 Robson Street – $13,000 4 dwelling houses.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; 1141 Comox – $2,500 dwelling house
J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; 1670-1676 Alberni Street – $13,000 6 dwelling houses.
J V (Jacob) & E (?) Lightheart; 944-958 Bidwell Street (Cambridge Apartments) – $30,000 frame apartment (redeveloped 1991).

J V (Jacob) & T E (?) Lightheart; 1086 Bute (Strathmore Lodge) – $250,000 brick apartment building.
T J (Thomas) Lightheart; 1020 Nicola St (Nicola Apartments) – $25,000 brick apartment building.
G E (George) Lightheart; 2941 Burns St – $2,000 frame building.

J R (Joseph) Lightheart; 1835 W 14th Ave – $3,000 dwelling house.
W A (William) Lightheart; 2236 Fir St – $140,000 6-storey apartment building (unbuilt).

O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 1146 Pendrell – $1,000 dwelling.
O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 990 Bute St – $200,000 apartment building (unbuilt).

J V (Jacob) Lightheart; 1591 W29th Ave – $8,000 dwelling.
G E (George) Lightheart; 4850 Connaught Drive – $8,000 dwelling.

O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 1146 Pendrell – $1,000 dwelling.
O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 1343 W33rd Ave – $7,500 dwelling.

J V (Jacob) & G E (George) Lightheart; 2570 Spruce (Fairmont Apartments) – $40,000 apartment.
G E (George) Lightheart; 2671 Spruce – $50,000 apartment (unbuilt).
G E (George) Lightheart; 2830 Hemlock (Laurelhurst Apartments) – $50,000 apartment.
G E (George) Lightheart; 2670 Spruce – $50,000 apartment (unbuilt).
O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 970 Bute (Berkeley Apartments) – $45,000 3-storey brick apartment.

G E (George) Lightheart; 2570 Hemlock (Renfrew Lodge) – H H Simmonds architect – $90,000 apartment.

G E (George) Lightheart; 2571 Oak – $50,000 apartment (1923) – developed by J V (Jacob) Lightheart; 1009 W10th Avenue, (Vallejo Court).

O R (Oliver) Lightheart; 970 Bute (Marlborough Apartments) – $45,000 3-storey brick apartment.

W A (William) Lightheart; 1915 Haro, (Stanley Park Manor) – architects; Hodgson & Simmonds $200,000 apartment.

James M Pattullo

J M Pattulo only built one investment property in Vancouver, in 1911. It’s still there, looking solid and impressive a century later, and Mr Pattullo’s story has connections to a number of other early investors in the city.

James McGregor Pattullo was born in Alton in Ontario on December 29th 1869. His mother’s family had emigrated from Scotland in 1833 to Caledon; (Alton is a very small farming community close to Caledon). His father, one of 14 children, was also born in Caledon into a farming family who had emigrated from Musselburgh in Scotland some time not long before 1830.

James was successful at school, and went to technical school (although we don’t know what he studied), supporting himself by working at the same time. Around 1887 he went to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a bill clerk in Owen Sound. In 1889 he went work as a cashier in Toronto and two years later to St Paul, Minnesota where he worked in the audit office of the Northern Pacific Railway Company. His next work was very different, in a woollen mill (probably owned by Reuben Smith) in Creemore, Ontario (a small rural town with, for no immediately apparent reason, a significant link to early Vancouver). His parents had moved there in 1884. He spent two years there, then went back to the railway company in St Paul for another two years. In 1899 he made the move westwards, working for five years as secretary of the YMCA, initially in Spokane and then for four years in Tacoma. He married Caroline Harrold (born in Georgetown, Ontario) in Spokane in 1899, and two daughters were born there; Mary in 1901 and Ruth in 1902. Caroline’s parents are described as “well known pioneer settlers of Fargo, North Dakota” where they ran stock on several thousand acres.

His final move was to Vancouver in 1905, where he is initially recorded as the manager of the Pacific Box Factory, living at 1066 Nelson Street. In 1906 he was a signatory on a petition protesting the threatened loss of company lands on False Creek. Between 1907 and 1908 his status changed from manager to proprietor of the company, and in 1908 a third daughter, Winifred was born.

1911 was clearly a big year for the family. They moved to a new address, 1230 Comox (indeed, to a new house as it was built in 1910). James was now listed as ‘retired’ – not bad for a 41 year old man with three small children. (Actually, he joined the Northwest Trust Company, Limited in that year, and subsequently became Vice President).The architect for his new house was J P Matheson, who lived next door at 1242 Comox in a house he designed that was also completed in 1911. Across the street at 1205 Comox was R V Winch. The family had Caroline’s mother, 80-year old Mary Harrold living with them, and a servant, Ada. It is likely that the family fortunes changed after Caroline’s father died, aged 80, in 1909.

A year later Matheson’s design for a substantial seven storey apartment building was completed. Built by the Dominion Construction Company, ‘Caroline Court’ costs $150,000 to build, and is presumably named after Caroline Pattullo.

The family stay at the Comox address until 1916, when they’re shown as resident in suite 70 of Caroline Court. By 1920 another James Pattullo had moved into the building to suite 50. James Burleigh Pattullo was a barrister who had practiced in Vancouver for a number of years, and came from the same Ontario family as JM (their grandfathers were brothers). James B Pattullo’s younger brother, Thomas Dufferin Pattullo had also moved west, living in Prince Rupert, from where he was later elected to the Provincial Legislature and in 1933 became Liberal Premier of British Columbia.

James and Caroline lived for many years in Vancouver. Two of their three daughters married, Mary, in 1924, (and she may have had her own adventures as it seems likely she went to Bolivia in the year she married, as a missionary). She died aged 30 in Vancouver. Winifred, who also married, died in 1970.

Caroline Pattullo died, aged 77, on 21 January 1942. James died six days later, aged 72.

John J Dissette

J J Dissette built several houses as investments in Vancouver, none of which appear to survive today, although the house he built for himself in Shaughnessy is still standing. He earns his place here because he was responsible for a number of significant building contracts when Vancouver saw a huge boom in construction around 1911 – over $660,000 worth of construction permits in that year alone.

We know Mr Dissette was born in Simcoe County, Ontario (a fact shared with a disproportionate number of early Vancouver residents). His birth date moves almost randomly between 1854 and 1864, depending on whether it’s a Census, his wedding or his death where the date is recorded. His father was called John and his mother Mary (or Bridget). In some records, and later in his life the first ‘J’ in his name was for Joseph rather than John – which makes tracing him even more difficult.

There were two John Dissettes recorded in the 1871 Canada Census, both Irish born, both living in Simcoe, but only one family was Catholic. The Ramara Township history website has a family of 11 children, including John J who it is suggested was born in 1854 (at number 10). Richard Dissette is a brother, born in 1848 (whose son later moved to Vancouver and died in WWI). If this is the correct identification, J J was born in West Gwillimbury along with his ten brothers and sisters. There is nobody else with the initials J J called Dissette in any records, so if this is the same J J Dissette who moved to Vancouver he might have been somewhat older than later records suggest. (The death record for J J Dissette in 1938 suggests 1854 is correct).

J J Dissette, a contractor, was living in Minneapolis in the US for the 1895 Minnesota State Census (where he had been for 5 years) and the 1900 US Census, where both parents are recorded as being born in France. This wasn’t particularly accurate, as J J Dissette, a contractor was listed in the Minneapolis street directory quite a bit earlier in the 1880s. In 1881 there was a listings for J J Dissette, a moulder, living at the same address in Minneapolis as Edward Dissette, a carpenter. (A Minnie Higgins is also listed in the city, working for Segelbaum Bros). The 1900 US Census record says he arrived in the US in 1881, although a profile published in 1913 says it was 1884 when he moved to Minnesota (contradicted by the 1895 Minnesota Census and the Minneapolis street directory).

Despite the French-sounding name, all other documents (and a lot of other Simcoe based relatives) suggest that the family’s origins were in Ireland. Irish-French families called Dissette had been residents of Ontario from at least the turn of the 19th Century.

While in Minneapolis J J Dissette got married to Mary J Higgins – later recorded as Minnie Higgins – in 1887. Two years later they had a son, Louis, who died in his first year, and Mary herself died not long after in 1890.

He married again in 1901 to Mary L Holtz (or Mackenzie – her previously married name). Although both he and his bride were Catholic, his wife was a divorcee ten years younger than him, with a four year old daughter. Her first husband was 23 years older than her, which might explain the divorce. John knocked several years off his age when he married (and even if there was really a 17 year difference rather than the 10 years official records suggest, her new husband might still not have seemed that old!) She was from a Swedish background, but born in Minnesota. Various other family members worked with J J Dissette in Minneapolis, including Edward, Michael and Philip Dissette. J J Dissette was described as a carpenter, then builder, then contractor, as he presumably became an increasingly successful Minneapolis builder.

The family are said to have moved to Vancouver the same year that he married (in 1901), and he was building houses a year later. He only shows up in Vancouver street directories in 1904, and Mary appears as well, running her own real estate business as  M L Dissette & Co. In 1907 he developed a tenement on Nelson Street, and in 1908 he hired Henry B Watson to design an apartment building on West Georgia, on the corner of Broughton Street, overlooking Burrard Inlet; they would be named the Majestic Apartments.

By 1911 J J Dissette was a well known and successful contractor in Vancouver. The Census that year records John James aged 49 (May 1862) and wife Mary L aged 39 living at 1398 Georgia with Myrtle MacKenzie, Mary’s 14 year old daughter (she obviously gave the census clerk a definition problem as she is recorded as lodger/daughter). They have a 30 year old domestic living with them, Beatrice Ward-Weford.

In 1912 alone JJ Dissette & Co built the Lester Dancing Academy on Davie Street, got a $100,000 contract for West Point Grey’s school designed by McClure and Fox and started building a wool pullery at Yukon Street (no, we have no idea!) designed by Parr and Fee.

The company also built a workshop on Beach Avenue and a factory on Hornby Street designed by W T Whiteway. He built several of the Parr and Fee designed Granville Street blocks, including the one developed by Charles Fee, and could also build significant wood-frame buildings as well as the brick ones, being the contractor for H B Watson’s frame design for St Patrick Church on 12th Avenue. He also built apartment buildings, including one for the same architect on Georgia Street. On Water Street he had the contract for the Taylor Block.

In 1912 the company incorporated, adding ‘Limited’ to its title. There were four partners, including both John and Richard Dissette. There is a Richard Dissette who appears in records operating the Crosby Hall Hotel on Simcoe Street in Toronto from as early as 1878 (when he would have been 29 years old). It’s likely that he was John’s older brother. He died in 1924, and his son, Arthur died as a First World War aviator, and was reported to have been educated in Toronto, but relocated to Vancouver where he was in the automobile business. In 1914 the Dissette Motor Co Ltd was at 1254 Hornby, which was also Arthur’s home address. He was agent for Lozier and Oakland Motor Cars – Loziers were expensive luxury cars, built in Detroit, while Oakland were a little more modest General Motors factory.

By 1913 J J Dissette’s success has translated to a house in Shaughnessy Heights on Matthews Avenue. There is no record of who the architect was, but we can guess who built it. That year his recreations were listed as fishing, boating and horse racing.

It’s just possible that a little more of Mr Dissette’s construction work is still standing. He built two houses side by side on Seymour Street in 1904. These days they’re the site of the Penthouse Club, the facade of which is a 1930s structure. But inside it isn’t clear if existing structures were incorporated and expanded, or whether the whole building was new built in the 1930s.

In 1915 John is shown as the treasurer of the Dissette MacConnell Lumber Co, living at 1859 Napier (possibly an error, as he is at the Matthews address before and after this date). He appears to have merged with or bought into the MacConnell Lumber Co a year or so earlier. In 1916 he is still associated with the lumber company and is living at 1437 Matthews. It seems that he moved around 1916 (or perhaps joined up, although he would have been over 60 years old). In 1917 and 1918 Mrs Mary L Dissette is living at 1437 Matthews, and in 1919 there is a Mrs Dissette living at 1058 Nelson Street. No records show any Dissettes living in Vancouver after this date.

It seems that between 1919 & 1937 he may have used the name of Joseph J Dissette. In 1924 it appears (from his older brother’s obituary) that he was living in Detroit and from 1926 in Tampa, Florida, where he was involved in real estate and formed a loan company in 1930. In 1937, records show that Joseph Dissette was living in Mobile, Alabama, where he died on January 29, 1938. At this point his birth was listed as having been in 1854, in Canada (and while John is listed as father, his mother was Bridget O’Donnell). He was a widower, but the name of his deceased spouse wasn’t Mary, but rather his first wife, Minnie Higgins.

Parr and Fee

John Parr and Thomas Fee were architects – in terms of the number of buildings erected at the turn of the 20th Century they were the architects in town. They were responsible for designing over a hundred buildings, getting commissions in both the more established parts of town, (with many buildings on East Hastings Street) and on the newly emerging Granville Street. They designed the Hotel Europe, the Dunsmuir Hotel and the Vancouver Block among many other buildings.

In the 1891 Census John Parr was an architect, resident in Victoria, while Thomas Fee was married and living in Vancouver, where the street directory somewhat surprisingly says he was a grocer in Yaletown. Both Thomas and his wife were born in Quebec. Donald Luxton says Fee had arrived in Vancouver with no money on the first train to arrive in Port Moody, walked to Vancouver and worked as a contractor and then studied architecture in Minneapolis for a year in 1889.

John Parr, who was born in Islington in London into an architectural family, arrived in America in 1889 and moved to Vancouver in 1895, immediately designing several commercial buildings. He was briefly in partnership as McLure and Parr, but in 1898 Parr and Fee became a business and turned out designs for buildings like the Ralph Block on Hastings Street as well as many houses.

In 1901 Thomas Fee, aged 38, was living with his wife Francis (3 years younger than him), his six year old daughter Olga, four year old son Blakley and his wife’s mother, Jane Paton aged 73. They were living on Burrard Street that year, but not long after moved to the Broughton Street home that Parr and Fee designed in 1903 that still stands today (although relocated on the site in a 1994 restoration). Curiously, John Parr appears to have evaded the 1901 census takers. (The 1913 publication ‘Northern Who’s Who’ makes up for this by including a profile of Parr but ignoring Fee).

The first Fee House on Pendrell Street, and the adjacent Broughton Street 1904 house

Even when he was building his family home Thomas Fee was looking to add investment value. The permit for the corner of Broughton and Pendrell was for two frame dwellings, so almost certainly the house next to the Fee family home was Thomas’s investment property (also designed by Parr and Fee, and lost in a fire in 2019).

By the early 1900s the partnership were amazingly successful. Many buildings on Granville Street were being constructed simultaneously.

Granville Street in the early 1900s. City of Vancouver Archives

By 1911 the Fee family had moved to a new house at 1025 Gilford Street (demolished in the 1960s), Frances has her name spelled correctly, Olga is listed with her full name, Olga Merle, Blakely’s name is recorded correctly as Blakely Fowler and Grace Helen aged nine is part of the household. Jane Paton is still alive, given her full name, Lucretia Jane, aged 83, and Frances’s sister Helen Elizabeth is also living in the house, along with Charles Fee, Thomas’s brother.

Meanwhile in 1911 Thomas Parr was living at 1064 Cardero (a house designed and built by C D Rand, a very active speculative builder, a year earlier), he was aged 55 and now living with his 48 year old wife Leila who was also a Londoner, and whom he had married earlier that year.

John Parr and Thomas Fee as illustrated in 1911

Thomas Fee owned 558 Seymour Street (possibly still standing although incorporated into the much altered club at 560 Seymour where A&B Sounds used to operate), and in 1910 added to a building he owned at 670 Smithe (on the corner of Granville Street – the building was redeveloped in 1983). He also owned 633-635 Smithe Street – now replaced by the Orpheum Theatre’s Westcoast Hall. Another building owned by TA Fee is now the 570 Granville Street office building built in 2000.

A number of T A Fee’s properties were shown as being designed not by him, but by the builders involved including 898 Granville, listed as being designed and built by Baynes & Horie in 1912. That building is one of very few associated with Thomas Fee still standing today, and looks very much like a Parr and Fee building – although not in terms of decoration.

Mr Fee also owned 70 Hastings Street (these days a vacant site), where he hired W T Whiteway in 1909 to design $3,000 of alterations.and 535 Granville Street where he designed and built the development – also now demolished.

In stark contrast to TA Fee’s extensive property development activity, none of the Building Permit data currently available shows John Parr as the owner.

While still receiving numerous commissions, the partnership split up in 1912 (although a few buildings were not completed until the next year). John Parr went into partnership with John Mackenzie and John Day and designed many more buildings over the next six years, until Day withdrew in 1918, Parr’s last know project was an apartment building on Beach Avenue completed in 1923, the year he died.

Thomas Fee also continued to practice, often designing improvements to his property portfolio. He was against Canada’s involvement in the Great War, and spent much of 1920-25 in Seattle. He was working through the 1920’s, and died in 1929.