R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

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hered to the Presbyterian faith of their ancestors and were people of the
highest respectability. He died in the sixty-fifth year of his age, while his
wife survived him and departed this life in her seventy-fourth year. They
were the parents of ten children, of whom eight are living, while five are
residents of British Columbia, namely : William, who resides in Okan-
ogan, Canada, and the others are now in Vancouver and Westminster.

James Archibald McNair was educated in River Louison, Restigouche,
New Brunswick, and afterward learned the business of lumber under the
direction of his father. Subsequently he engaged in business on his own
account there in connection with his brother, prior to his removal to the
Pacific coast. He came to Vancouver in 1892, because of the better facili-
ties for the successful prosecution of the shingle and lumber business. He
was not disappointed in his hope of securing better opporturities here, and
is now conducting an extensive enterprise, his product finding a market from
the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. At this writing he is the president and
general manager of the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company, Limited,
having a shingle and planing mill in Vancouver and a sawmill at Moody-
ville, British Columbia, also four shingle mills in the state of Washington.
•The head ofiice is in Vancouver, and the officers of the company are F. M.
Britton, secretary and treasurer, and A. C. Flummerfelt, R. J. Kerr, A. B.
Erskine, R. McNair and J. A. McNair, directors. They manufacture all
kinds and shapes of cedar shingles, fir and cedar lumber, base, casings, mold-
ings, newels, banisters and veranda posts, and the daily capacity is twO' mil-
lion two hundred and fifty thousand shingles, with a dr}^- kiln capacity of
eighteen million five hundred thousand shingles and one hundred and fifty-
five thousand feet of lumber. The business was incorporated in 1901 by
Robert McNair and James Archibald McNair, and they have since associated
with them S. H. C. Miner, of Granby, Province of Quebec, and A. C. Flum-
merfelt, of Victoria, the latter being the chairman of the board of directors,
while Robert McNair is superintendent of the mills. The business had a
small beginning, the mill being of limited proportions, but gradually its
capacity has been increased, modern machinery has been added, and in fact
the enterprise has had a phenomenal growth, far exceeding the highest ex-
pectations of Mr. McNair, who is now regarded as the shingle king of the
northwest. This is an industry that has been one of the most important fac-
tors in promoting the wealth of British Columbia, and those who have de-


veloped the lumber trade have contributed in large measure to the growth
and improvement of this portion of the country. In his relations with his
employes Mr. McNair is always just and considerate, and they recognize
the fact that good service on their part means promotion as opportunity of-
fers. In his relations with his patrons he is known to be extremely reliable,
the place of the house being in conformity with the high standard of com-
mercial ethics. His success is undoubtedly due in large measure to the fact
that he has persisted in a line of business activity in which he embarked as a
young tradesman, and thus has gained a thorough and comprehensive knowl-
edge of the business, which combined with his unflagging enterprise and
keen discernment have made him one of the most successful controllers of
the great productive industries of British Columbia. He is also connected
with the grocery business in Vancouver, where is conducted a large retail

Mr. McNair was happily married in 1887 to Miss Minnie G. McKay,
who was born in Dalhousie, New Brunswick, and is a daughter of Alexander
McKay, also a representative of an old Scotch family. They have two children,
a son and daughter, the former, R. W. M. McNair, born in New Brunswick,
and the latter, E. L. McNair, in Vancouver. Mr. and Mrs. McNair are
members of the Knox Congregational church, in which he is serving as
deacon and also as chairman of the board of managers. He is likewise act-
ive in the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, and for the past
three years has been president of that worthy organization. His is a well
balanced mind, not so abnormally developed in any direction as tO' make him
a genius, but marked by steady growth along many lines he has won notable
success in business, and at the same time has given due attention to intellect-
ual and moral development, being the champion of many movements and
measures which have contributed in these ways to the growth and progress
of his adopted city.


Thomas F. Neelands, one of the builders and pioneers of Vancouver,
has advanced its interests through various operations which have resulted
in not only personal benefit, but have been an important factor in the im-
provement of the city. He has also contributed to public progress through
his administration of the office of mayor, and has upheld its moral and com-
mercial development. Thus his efforts have contributed to the general good
along various lines, and Vancouver honors him as one of its representative


men. He has resided here continually since 1885, or prior to the city's in-

A native of Canada, Mr. Neelands was born in Ontario on the 8th of
March, 1862, and is of Irish lineage. His great-grandfather, Gregg Nee-
lands, his grandfather, John Neelands, and his father, William Neelands,
were all born in county Cavan, Ireland, and together they emigrated to the
new world, settling in Canada in 1832, upon a tract of land in the province of
Ontario. They became pioneer farmers there, active in reclaiming the wild
lands for purposes of civilization, and there their efforts contributed to the
substantial development and material upbuilding of the community. Gregg
Neelands lived to a very advanced age, having sometime passed the eightieth
milestone on life's journey ere called to his final rest. John Neelands, how-
ever, died at the age of fifty-nine years, while William Neelands passed away
at the age of sixty-six years. They were a family of Methodists, joining that
church in its infancy as followers of Wesley. Generations were represented
by pious men who became pillars of the church and were devoted to the
welfare of their fellow men. William Neelands married Miss Mary A.
Hicks, who was also born in county Cavan, Ireland, a daughter of John
Hicks, who in leaving the Emerald Isle took up his abode in Ontario. Six
sons and two daughters were born of this marriage, four sons and two
daughters of whom are still living.

Thomas F. Neelands was educated in the schools of Ottawa City, after
which he removed to Winnipeg, where he remained for three years and nine
months. The great west attracted him, how'ever, and he arrived in 1885 on
the present site of the city of Vancouver. Since that time he has been closely
identified with its business and municipal interests, and his enterprise has con-
tributed to the work of upbuilding in large and beneficial manner. He was
engaged in the commission and contracting business for a short time, meet-
ing with fair success, and then became connected w^ith the Pacific Loan &
Building Society. He has also been a dealer in real estate on his own ac-
count, erecting several of the buildings of the city and negotiating many
realty transfers.

In his political views and actions Mr. Neelands has maintained an inde-
pendent policy, desiring the greatest good for the greatest number. He was
elected alderman in 1897, 1898, 1900 and 1901, and that his official service
was satisfactory to the people and won their entire confidence is indicated by
the fact that he was chosen for the high office of mayor, acting in that capac-
ity in 1902 and 1903. It was during his administration that the City.Hospi-
tal was placed in the hands of a private board of control, a step that has


proved a wise and beneficial one, as acknowledged by all. Other progres-
sive and helpful measures were instituted by or received the support of Mr.
Xeelands. Several blocks of land in different parts of the city were secured
for park purposes, and also a portion of water frontage on English Bay was
secured by the city for bathing and recreation purposes, adding largely to
the beauty as well as the benefit of Vancouver. Mr. Neelands, although fig-
uring in political affairs, has never been a politician in the sense of office
seeking, and has declined on two occasions to become a candidate for the
local legislature.

On the 26th of April, 1888, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Nee-
lands and Miss Mary E. Macey, who was born in Markham, Ontario, and
is of English lineage. They are valued adherents of the Methodist church,
and Mr. Neelands had the honor of being a trustee of one of the first churches
built in the city after its incorporation. He belongs to the Masonic order,
and is also a member of all branches of the Independent Order of Odd Fel-
lows, and is now serving as grand master of the British Columbia jurisdic-
tion. He is likewise connected with the Knights of Pythias, and through
his fraternal relations has extended his acquaintance and won many warm
friendships. He stands as a high type of progressive citizenship. In politi-
cal thought and action he has ever been independent, carrying out his honest
convictions without fear or favor. No trust reposed in him has ever been
betrayed in the slightest degree, and the general public entertains for him the
highest respect, while those with whom he has been more intimately asso-
ciated give him warm friendship and unqualified regard.


The name of George H. Cowan, K. C, throughout British Columbia
stands sponsor for the claims of the Province upon the Dominion for better
terms, and it is as an advocate by speech and pen of provincial rights that
he is perhaps best known. Born at Warwick, Ontario, of Irish parentage,
William and Anne (King) Cowan, he no doubt inherited from his ancestry
something of his conservative leanings in politics and his Evangelical views
in church matters. He received his education in the Collegiate Institutes
of Strathroy and Brantford and in the University of Toronto, from which in
1884 he was graduated with the degree of B. A., and with first class honors
in Logic, in Mental and Moral Science and Civil Polity. He then pursued
the study of law in Toronto and in November, 1889, was called to the bar.
He began practice in London, Ontario, the firm being Cowan & Gunn, which
continued until the spring of 1893, when he came to Vancouver. Here he


formed the partnership of Cowan & Shaw and later Cowan, Kappele & Mc-
Evoy, which has since enjoyed a profitable share of the legal business of the
city and district. In 1896 Mr. Cowan was appointed Queen's counsel by
the Dominion Government, and in 1905 King's counsel by the British
Columbia government.

Besides being an able legal practitioner whose ability and achievements
have proved an ornament to his city and province, Mr. Cowan has done much
valuable research work in problems that affect the welfare of British Colum-
bia. His article in the Canadian Encyclopaedia on the " Chinese Question "
did much to prepare the minds of the East for the imposition of the present
Chinese head tax. The immigration law drafted by him, and year after
year enacted at Victoria and disallowed at Ottawa, has proven the only
effective check of the kind the province has ever had to undesirable immigra-

But it is his services in the cause of better terms for British Columbia
which find most grateful recognition. His written work on the subject had
no sooner issued from the press than it was looked upon as an important
state document, and some of the speeches in which he has expounded and
amplified his views lay down fundamental principles so broad and clear with
a display of knowledge so rich and accurate and an analysis of facts and
theories so keen and thorough that they stand unsurpassed in the political
history of the province.

In the Dominion elections of 1896 Mr. Cowan was the straight Conserv-
ative nominee in Vancouver, his opponents being the late George R. Max-
well, as an independent, and W. J. Bowser, as an independent Conservative.
Mr. Maxwell was elected over Mr. Cowan by a narrow majority.

Mr. Cowan married in 1897 Miss Josephine Irene Downie, a daughter of
the Rev. Canon Downie, of Watford, Ontario. They have four children
by the marriage, three daughters and one son. As a member of the Church
of England and in its synods, his sympathies are distinctly Evangelical. His
fraternal associations are with the Masonic order.


John W. Coburn, of Ladysmith, has been prominently and closely identi-
fied with the business and civic interests of this town, and was one of the fore-
most factors in making it the commercial and industrial center which it now
is, and he is still using his influence and efforts in every possible way to en-
large and promote its future possibilities and resources. His citizenship is
public-spirited and progressive in a high degree, and just such enterprise as he

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has manifested is the most valuable asset a growing town can have. Mr.
Coburn is a successful business man, and, beginning in the time of boyhood,
he has risen steadily, by diligence and application, through various grades of
responsibility to his present prosperous place among the men of affairs in Brit-
ish Columbia.

He was born near Frederickton, New Brunswick, August 30, 1859. His
father, Andrew W. Coburn, is now living at Harvey, New Brunswick, and his
mother, Elizabeth (Meeser) Coburn, is deceased. After a period of educa-
tion in the public schools of New Brunswick, he took up railroad work, and
that continued the principal line of his pursuit for many years. He moved to
Winnipeg in 1884, and for a year was employed in a wholesale clothing house
at that point. In 1885 he came to British Columbia, where he entered the
employ of the late Robert Dunsmuir, and was sent out as the first trainman on
the construction of the Esquimault and Nanaimo Railroad. He remained in
the employ of that road for sixteen years and three months, in various capaci-
ties, principally as railway conductor. He severed his connection with the rail-
road in September, 1901, and then formed the Ladysmith Lumber Company,
of which he is now managing director and largest stockholder. He also as-
sisted in the formation of " The Shawnigan Lake Lumber Company," of which
he is still a director. He has been successfully engaged in the lumber business
for the past three years, and has become a substantial and reliable factor in
the business circles of the district. He is president of " The Ladysmith Hard-
ware Company, Limited."

The affairs of his home town have always held Mr. Coburn's attention,
and he has been a leader in developing Ladysmith. He served as alderman
of Wellington for one year, and in 1900 was elected mayor of that munici-
pality and served as such until the town was disincorporated. He was one of
the prime movers in securing the incorporation of Ladysmith, and was elected
mayor of the town by acclamation in 1904, and also in 1905. He is a staunch
(Conservative in politics, and the family religion is Presbyterianism. His
fraternal affiliations are with St. John's Lodge, No. 19, A. F. & A. M., and
with the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Mr. Coburn was first married on December 13, 1892, to Miss Ellen C.
Little, a daughter of David Little, of Harvey, New Brunswick. By this
union there are two children, Leila Maud and Dora Pauline, whose mother
died at Nanaimo on November 6, 1895. On February 2, 1899, Mr. Coburn
married Miss Ellen Cowie, a daughter of Alexander Cowie, of Fannie Bay,
British Columbia. The two children of this marriage are Wallace Andrew
and Gordon Hastings.



Hon. Thomas Robert Mclnnes, late lieutenant-governor of the province
of- British Columbia, was born at Lake Ainslie, Nova Scotia, on the 5th of
November, 1840, and w^as of Highland Scotch ancestry. His father, John
Mclnnes, was born in Inverness, Scotland, and married Miss Mary Hamil-
ton, a daughter of Captain Edward Hamilton, of Paisley, Scotland. De-
sirous of seeking a home in the new world and of enjoying its business ad-
vantages, John Mclnnes left the land of hills and heather and located at Lake
Ainslie, Nova Scotia, in 1825. Prior to this time he had been a sea cap-
tain, but in the new world he turned his attention to farming, owning lands

Governor Mclnnes was educated in the normal school at Truro, Nova
Scotia, and then matriculated in Harvard University at Boston, Massachu-
setts, where he took a medical course. With broad general knowledge to
serve as the foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of professional
learning he then began preparation for the practice of medicine and was
graduated from Rush Medical College of Chicago, Illinois. During the
latter part of the Civil war in the United States he offered his services to the
south as a sifrgeon and acted in that capacity until the close of hostilities.
Subsequent to the close of the war he established his home in Dresden, Kent
county, Ontario, and was there happily married in 1866 to Mrs. Martha E.
Webster, of that place, the widow of George Webster, of Dresden.

Governor Mclnnes had not long been a resident of Dresden until his
abilities were recognized in a public way by his election to the office of reeve
(mayor) of the town. His loyalty and fidelity to duty stood as unquestioned
facts in his career and in 1874 he was nominated for the Ontario legislature.
This honor, however, he declined, for he had decided to remove to New
W^estminster, British Columbia, and in the spring of 1874 he came tO' the
province and entered upon the practice of his profession, his efforts being at-
tended with marked success. Again he was called to public office by those
who recognized his fitness for leadership and his devotion to the general
good, being chosen mayor of the city. He thus controlled its municipal
affairs during the years 1877 ^^^ 1878. He also continued in the active
practice of his profession and was appointed surgeon of the Royal Colum-
bia Hospital and superintendent of the British Columbia Insane Asylum.
Further honors of a partly political nature were conferred upon him when
in 1879 he was elected to the house of commons at a by-election as an inde-
pendent candidate, defeating the Conservative candidate. At the general


election of that year he was again chosen for the position. In 1881 he was
appointed senator by Lord Lome and took a very active part in shaping the
political policy of the province at that time. Desirous of promoting the
general welfare and laboring for the greatest good to the greatest number
he championed many measures, the value and benefit of which are now widely
acknowledged. He took great interest in establishing a Canada mint, and
was the first to advocate such an enterprise. He studied closely cjuestions of
national and international importance, and was the first to advocate a board
of reciprocity with the United States, but because of the attitude of the
United States concerning the tariff question this was not carried into effect,
and Governor Mclnnes subsequently became an imperial federationist. In
1898 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the province. The politics of
the country was then in a transition state, which resulted in the establish-
ment of federal party lines. During his term of office he dismissed the Tur-
ner ministry in July, 1898, and this occasion caused much ix)litical turmoil,
but he was sustained therein by the legislature. In 1900 the Semlin gov-
ernment which had dismissed the Hon. Joseph Martin from its cabinet was
in turn dismissed by the governor. On being defeated in the legislature the
Hon. Joseph Martin was then called upon to form a government and this
movement, because of the bitter opposition to Mr. Martin by leading members
of both parties, resulted in official antagonism at Ottawa against the gov-
ernor, and Mr. Martin v;as defeated at a general election, and the governor
was called upon to resign. This he refused to do on the grounds that his
action had been constitutional, but it was overruled by the government of
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and in June, 1900, he was dismissed. There has never
been any doubt, however, that he was ever true to his honest convictions and
his course was sustained by many eminent men of the province.

Retiring from politics Governor Mclnnes came to Vancouver to make
his home. In 1901 he traveled through Australia and New Zealand and
made a close study of the political measures and noticed particularly the
government ownership of the railroads, for of such a course he had always
been a strong advocate. While on this tour he was the guest of the various
premiers of the Australian states and New Zealand, and was given every
opportunity of observing the workings of their governments. In 1903 he
was made an independent candidate by the house of commons in a by-elec-
tion held in Vancouver, but was defeated. He departed this life on the
19th of March, 1904.

Governor Mclnnes had been an enthusiastic rifleman and he served as
president of the Senate Rifle Club of Ottawa and also of Vancouver Rifle


Association, and he advised proficiency with the rifle rather than attention
to drill or parade, and advocated that all boys over fourteen years of age in
the schools should be instructed in the use of the rifles. Governor Mclnnes
was reared in the Presbyterian faith, which had been that of his ancestors,
and his life was at all times actuated by honorable principles and manly pur-
poses. As the result of his professional skill and business capacity he at one
time became the owner of fine property, but he also had other mining specu-
lations. He was a skilled physician and surgeon, was an honest man and
possessing strong convictions had the courage to stand by them.

Governor Mclnnes and his wife had two sons. The younger, W. W.
B. Mclnnes, was born in Dresden, Ontario, on the 8th of April, 1871, and
pursued his education in the New Westminster high school and Toronto
University, being graduated from the latter institution with the degree of
Bachelor of Arts in 1889. In 1893 he was called to the bar of British
Columbia and began his practice in Nanaimo. In 1896 he was elected as
an independent Liberal tO' the house of commons, defeating Andrew Haslam,
who had filled the seat during the previous teiTn. While in the house he
was the youngest member and was assigned the honor of making the speech
in reply to the address from the throne under the Liberal regime of Sir Wil-
frid Luarier. From the beginning of his political career his brilliant oratory
attracted attention throughout the Dominion. In 1900 he resigned his seat
and in the provincial campaign was a staunch supporter of the Hon. Joseph
Martin, and was elected to the local legislature. In 1903 he was chosen at
a by-election as provincial secretary in the government of the Hon. Colonel
E. G. Prior, and in 1903 at the general election he was re-elected a member
of the provincial house. He resides in Nanaimo, where he is practicing his

The elder son, T. R. E. Mclnnes, was born in Dresden, Ontario, on
the 29th of October, 1867, and was educated at Ne\A^ Westminster, attending
the high school there, and was also a student in Trinity College school, of
Port Hope, and in the Toronto University, being graduated from the last
named in the class of 1889 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He was
then called to the bar of British Columbia in 1893 and practiced in connec-
tion with his brother in Nanaimo until April, 1896, in which year he was
made secretary to the Canadian commissioner of the Behring sea claims
commission. In 1897 he went to Skagv^^ay with a force of police and cus-
toms official. This was at the time of the Klondike rush. He was his
father's private scretary during Governor Mclnnes' administration and was
afterward secretary of the British Columbia commission. Since that time


he became a member of the law firm of Cane & Mclnnes, his partner being
G. Filmore Cane.

On the 20th of December, 1889, Mr. Mclnnes was married to Miss

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 66 of 79)