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.