From Yates to Fort Street by


On Wharf Street, from the corner of Fort, looking north to the corner of Yates, the buildings looked pretty much the same as now, being all built of brick, with the exception of the wooden one to the south of Sutro's wholesale tobacco warehouse on the corner of Yates and Wharf. This wooden building was a saloon, kept by one who formerly had been a prominent man politically, that is prior to 1859. I think this building can be identified with the Ship Inn. The two-story brick block to the south, erected and owned by Senator Macdonald, was occupied by John Wilkie, one of the earliest of our wholesale merchants. The next corner was Edgar Marvin's hardware store. Mr. Marvin and his son Eddie, who came from the States in 1864, will be well and favorably remembered by old-timers. He resided on Marvin's Hill, at the back of St. Ann's Convent. Next comes the building occupied by Henry Nathan, who was afterwards one of the early members in the Commons to represent Victoria City. He was an English Hebrew, and he and his father were prominent men and large property-holders in the city, and I have no doubt are so still. He is standing in the front of his office in the photo. I can well remember the day that Henry Nathan and the balance of the Victoria contingent left for Ottawa for the first time.

They left on the steamer Prince Alfred from Broderick's Wharf, in the inner harbor, and there was hardly a square foot of room on the wharf to spare, the crowd was so great. In fact, half of the town went to see them off, many locking up their business places to do so. In the front of the next store may be seen Thomas Lett Stahlschmidt, who represented the English wholesale firm of Henderson & Burnaby. Next to Mr. Stahlschmidt is James D. Robinson, who was bookkeeper for J. Robertson Stewart & Co., and who is a resident of this city to-day, just died. Skipping the next two buildings, we come to the auction rooms of a well-remembered business man, P. M. Backus, one of the two prominent auctioneers of that time; the other being James A. McCrea, spoken of by my friend, Mr. Higgins, in one of his intensely interesting stories of early days in Victoria. Both he and Mr. Backus were Americans, as were so many of our business men of that day. Next to Mr. Backus is Mr. J. R. Stewart, just mentioned, and on the corner is Mr. Joseph Boscowitz. They stand in front of the building occupied by Thomas C. Nuttall & Co. Mr. Nuttall I remember as the agent of the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company, and he did a large business in the city. Mr. Nuttall is still a resident, although confined to the house through illness. His was a familiar face on the street in those days, being a very energetic business man. (Since died).

Upstairs in the building was the Oddfellows' Hall, where I was initiated into the mysteries of Oddfellow-ship in 1868. Among the prominent brothers present that evening were John Weiler, James S. Drummond, James D. Robinson, Hinton Guild, James Gillon (manager Bank of British North America), Joshua Davies, Judah P. Davies, Richard Roberts, Joseph York, and Thomas Golden.

All these prominent Oddfellows, with the exception of James D. Robinson and Joseph York, have gone to their rest. The waterfront side of Wharf Street, from the Hudson's Bay Company's store south, is a blank until you reach the old cooperage, next to the late custom house. There is an historic oak tree alongside the cooperage, which is said to have been used to tie up the Hudson's Bay Company's vessels in the earliest times when wharves were few and far between. Beyond the old customs house was Sayward's wharf and lumber yard, the lumber being brought by schooner and scow from the mill to Victoria. The business had not then attained the proportions that it has to-day under Joseph Sayward, son of the founder of the business, who now lives in San Francisco.

From Edgar Fawcett, Reminiscences of Old Victoria, (Toronto: William Briggs, 1912) Chapter 5, pp. 57-59.