Wharf Street 1881




Historical Background of Victoria

City Description

General Progress on Wharf Street

List of Wharf Street Businesses

Profiles of Business Owners

Building Profiles and Architecture





General Progress 1881-82

A section title General Progress was also included as part of the city directory of 1882-83 and provides notes on local businesses, commercial activity, as well as recently constructed buildings and improvements to the city. According to the 1881 census, the population of Victoria was recorded at 7,000 people, exclusive of the Aboriginal inhabitants.15 Furthermore, the population in the winter months increased by approximately an additional 1,000 people as a result of returning miners, fishery workers, and public works men. The numbers are double those recorded in the last directory in 1877.16

The directory noted that there were marked improvements in the city during the years of 1881 and 1882, including enhanced telegraph and telephone communication and upgrading of the streets. Commercial activities such as the seal fur trade, salmon canning, fishing, and the lumber industry had expanded significantly and both the Esquimalt and Victoria harbours were busy with unprecedented levels of activity. The beautiful climate, picturesque scenery, and reasonable accommodations served to attract increasing numbers of visitors to the city. Several attractive stores with wharf frontages had been build on Wharf Street and signs of significant progress could be observed throughout the entire city.17

The following are some of the changes and progress noted on Wharf Street during this period:

o The proprietor of the Occidental Hotel, Mr. W Jensen purchased land at the foot of Johnson Street which at the time was comprised of old wooden huts. On this site he built two new brick buildings.18

o Mr. Roderick Finlayson constructed a sizeable warehouse next to the Hudson’s Bay Company store.19

o Mr. Yates’ building was completed on Wharf Street, and was now in use by Turner, Beeton & Co. The building is three stories on the front side, with significant storage on the harbour side.20

o The only steamer of the Pioneer Line running from Victoria to Yale was the R.P. Rithet, under the command of Captain John Irving. The boat was described as handsome, with elegant accommodations and electrical lights. The office of this line is located at the Hudson’s Bay Company wharf.21

o The Pacific Coast Steamship Co. had steamers transporting mail and passengers between Victoria and San Francisco three times a month. The agents for this company were local Wharf Street businessmen Welch, Rithet & Co.22


Wharf Street - 1860s


Looking South Down Wharf Street from Yates Street - 1880


J. Heaney Cartage Wagon on Wharf Street -1890s