R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

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Laura Hostetter, a daughter of John Hostetter, late of Toronto, and they
have one child, Loftus.


Edgar Fawcett, a Victoria pioneer of 1859, is one of the best informed
men in the city concerning the history and material development of this
portion of the province, and he himself has taken no insignificant part in
affairs of a general public nature. He has furnished the papers of the city
with a number of well written and interesting articles containing valuable
reminiscences of early days in Victoria, and is a recognized authority along
these lines and takes much pride in preserving and publishing to the world
the records of this flourishing city of British Columbia.

Mr. Fawcett is a native of Australia, having been born during the few-
years of the family's residence in that country. He was born at Sydney,
February i, 1847, ^iid the ancestry on both sides is of substantial English
stock. His father, Thomas Lea Fawcett, was born in Kidderminster, Eng-
land, and during his adult career there was a carpet manufacturer. His
mother was born in Birmingham, and her father was a manufacturer. Mr.
Fawcett, Sr., was a cousin of Sir Rowland Hill, late P. M., of England,
They emigrated to Australia in 1838, and remained there until 1849, in
which year they emigrated to San Francisco, becoming pioneers of Cali-
fornia, arriving February, 1850. In that state his father invested in a vessel
v/hich he employed in freighting lumber from British Columbia to England,
but in 1857 this vessel was lost in the Fuca straits, causing him a severe
financial embarrassment. In 1858 the father preceded his family to Vic-
toria, where he hoped to recoup his losses, and where the remainder of the
family followed in 1859. He lived an honored citizen of this city for some
thirty years, having filled the office of government agent at Nanaimo for
three years. In 1889 he returned to England, and died there at the age of
seventy-six years. In Birmingham, England, in 1838, he had married Miss
Jane Wignall, and they l3ecame the parents of six children, two of whom
now reside in British Columbia, namely : Rowland W. and Edgar, and a
third son, Arthur, is in London, England.

Mr. Fawcett was a boy of twelve years when the family located at Vic-
toria, and in that early period of the city's history, when there was little
more than a village on the site of the old fort, he used his observing facili-


ties to good advantage and carries in his memory exact impressions of early
events and scenes as he saw them then. He received his education in this
city at the collegiate school and the Colonial school. He began his business
career in the upholstering business, which he continued with his brother
until 1882. In that year he entered the Dominion civil service, at first as
a clerk in the custom house, and for the past twenty-three years he has given
this branch of government work his undivided attention. He has been pro-
moted from time to time until he is now assistant appraiser and in charge
of the postal package office.

Mr. Fawcett served as sergeant in the old Victoria Rifle Volunteers,
which were lately merged in the Canada militia under Colonel Wolfinden.
He was also among the first to join the volunteer fire department, of the city.
He has been a member of the British Columbia Pioneer Society since its
organization, and is now the only remaining charter member. He was sec-
retary at the first meeting of this society when it was organized in Smith's
Hall, Government street, April 28, 1871. He is also a veteran member of
the Odd Fellows, having joined that order in 1868, and he has the honor
of being affiliated with the California Pioneers.

Mr. Fawcett was happily married in 1870 to Miss Myra Holden, who
was born in Mackelsfield, Yorkshire, England, and who has become the
mother of six children, all born in Victoria. The eldest, Thomas Douglas,
is now purser on the steamship " Princess Victoria ;" Edgar is an engineer
on the " Empress of China ;" and Myra Louise, Olive Annie, Victor Cecil
and Elizabeth Hazel are all at home. The family have a beautiful residence,
situated on Victoria arm, and which they have fitly called " Dingley Dell."
They are members of the Reformed Episcopal church, and he is a member of
the church committee, and was very active when this denomination was or-
ganized about thirty-one years ago.


Frederick Buscombe, whose intense and well directed business activity
has made him a leading- factor in the commercial circles of Vancouver, where
he is now conducting a large wholesale and retail china and glassware estab-
lishment, first visited the site of Vancouver in 1884, although the few little
buildings which then marked the city were not called by its present name.
In the same year he visited Victoria, and again in 1886 he came to Vancou-
ver, but did not take up his permanent residence here until 1891, since which
time he has figured prominently in its mercantile circles.

Frederick Buscombe, born in Bodmin, England, on the 2d of Septem-


ber, 1862, is of Cornish ancestry. His father, also a native of Bodmin,
was married there to Miss Isatella Oliver, a native of Liskeard, Coirnwall,
and in 1870 they sailed for Canada, locating' at Hamilton, Ontario, where
the father began contracting and building. He is still engaged in active
business there, although now in his seventy-second year. He is a worthy
member of the Church of England, and throughout his entire life he has
commanded the respect and gxDod will of his fellow citizens. Unto him and
his wife were born nine sons and a daughter, all of whom are living and
constitute a most highly respected family.

Frederick Buscombe and his brother George, who is associated with him
in business, are the only members of the family in British Columbia. The for-
mer was in his eighth year at the time of his parents' emigration to Hamilton,
Ontario, and there he acquired his education. He became familiar with the
china and glassware trade as an employe in the house of James A. Skinner
& Company, dealers in those lines of merchandise, and opening the business
in Vancouver for that house he remained a member of the firm until 1899,
when he purchased the interest of his partners. Under Mr. Buscombe's
management the business has grown to the largest wholesale and retail house
of the kind west of Toronto, occupying eleven floors, twenty by one hundred
and twenty feet, all filled with the choicest china and glassware and house
furnishings. They find a ready market for their goods throughout British
Columbia, the Northwest territory and the Yukon district. This is the only
wholesale china house in Vancouver and enjoys a large city trade in addi-
tion to the out of town shipments. Not only has Mr. Buscombe developed
a profitable and extensive business, but enjoys the fullest confidence of the
leading business men of the city as well, and has the respect and good will
of the purchasing public.

Mr. Buscombe has noted with interest the possibilities of the country
and its development and has co-operated in many measures for the general
good. He was formerly president of the Board of Trade, and is a member
of its council and the board of arbitration. He is far sighted and in mat-
ters of business policy and possibility his judgment is rarely, if ever, at fault.

On the 6th of May, 1886, Mr. Buscombe was united in marriage to
Miss Lydia Rebecca Mattice, a native of Ontario, and they have five chil-
dren, two sons and three daughters : Robert Frederick Edwin, Harold Ed-
win, Erie Stewart, Margery Gordon and Barnett. Mr. Buscombe and his
family are communicants of the Church of England, in the work of which
he takes an active and helpful part. He was one of the members promi-
nently engaged in the building of Christ church, one of the finest houses of


worship in the city. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and is a past
master of Cascade lodge, No. 12, A. F. & A. M., of Vancouver, while in
the Scottish rite he has attained the eighteenth degree. His business career
has been marked by consecutive progress along modern lines of merchandis-
ing, and the success of marked enterprise and honorable effort is today his.


James Leigh and Sons is a firm that has maintained a high reputation
ever since its founding in Victoria over fifteen years ago, and the extent and
high class of all its manufactured products and the integrity and business
ability of its individual members are estimated among the most valuable
assets of the prosperity and general advancement of this city. The firm
manufacture lumber and all kinds of building material, such as doors, sash
and blinds, mantles, and all wood finishings used for building purposes. Their
mills are located in Victoria, and their trade extends throughout the north-
west and is constantly being increased under the able and progressive man-
agement of the members of the firm.

The founder of this large enterprise was Mr. James Leigh, deceased,
whose life of broad and useful activity is deserving of special notice. Born
in Herefordshire, Wales, in 1826, and married there to Miss Jane Jones, a
native of the same locality, he some time later, with their son Albert,
emigrated to the state of New York, locating in that state in 1848. He later
removed from New York state to Ontario, locating at Kingston. At Port
Hope and New Castle he was engaged in the manufacture of carriages, and
for a number of years had charge of the work of the Massey Company located
at New Castle. He then went to Ponto Pool, and was the builder of the
first circular sawmill in that county. He afterward moved to Orono and
established extensive machine works there, which works are still carried on
by the oldest son. Albert. Another enterprise of this active man was the
erection of a flouring mill in Bellville and also one at Penetanguishene, the
latter of which he conducted until he came out to this province, and in part-
nership with Mr. Synder, built a sawmill at Gold Stream in 1888. This was
conducted for two years, and in 1890-91 Mr. Leigh built the mill at Victoria
and began his connection with the manufacturing affairs of this city. This
is a steam mill and has a daily capacity, of ten hours' running, of twenty-five
thousand feet of lumber, and in connection is a shingle mill which turns out
every ten hours of operation fifty thousand shingles. The raw lumber ma-
terial for this extensive manufacture is at present purchased from other lum-
bermen, but the company has a heavily timbered tract four miles square, and

\' 1 1


this will be utilized in the near future. The excellent wood products of this
firm find ready sale in this part of the country, and are held in high repute
wherever used.

Mr. James Leigh died in 1898, aged seventy-three years, after a career of
continued activity and usefulness from his earliest until his last years. He
was a member of the Church of England, a man of known high character and
integrity, and made a fine record in every undertaking. His good wife sur-
vives him and is now seventy-seven years of age. The sons, John L. and Sidney
Minton, are the present owners of the Victoria business, and are still conduct-
ing it under the name by which it has become so well known to business circles.
John L. Leigh was born in Ponty Pool, Ontario, in 1861, and his brother S.
M. was born in Orono in 1867. Both were reared to the lumber manufactur-
ing business, and are practical and capable business men, endowed with all
the qualities that insure success. Mr. J. L. Leigh was married in 1894 to
Miss Laura E. LaPage, a native of Guernsey Island, England. Their three
children, all born in Victoria, are Victor, Edna and Byron. Mr. S. M. Leigh
married Miss Charlotte Mason, a native of Ireland, and their four children
are Nora, Albert, Ethel and Sidney Minton. Both families are Methodists
in religion, and enjoy the high esteem of a wide circle of friends and acquaint-


Few men can claim intimate knowledge of the history of New West-
minster through as long a period as can Mr. Major, who arrived here on
the 1st of June, 1859. Gold had been discovered on the Eraser river in
1858 and it was the hope of rapidly acquiring a fortune that brougnt him
to the west. He went through the usual experiences of the miner who
leaves the comforts and conveniences that form a part of life in the older
east and braves hardships, difficulties and dangers in his search for the
precious metal. It is such men, however, that lay the foundation for the
present progress and prosperity of the province, and as a pioneer settler Mr.
Major deserves the gratitude of the younger generation for what he did in
planning the city's present development.

Of English ancestry Charles George Major was born in Ontario,
Canada, in 1839. His father, Richard Major, was born in England, and
was married there to Miss A. M. Johnson, a native of that country. The
year 1830 witnessed their removal from the old world to the new, and they
located on land five miles from Sarnia. Mr. Major was a farmer and black-
smith who lived an industrious, useful and active life. Both he and his


wife were members of the Church of England. He died in the fiftieth year
of his age, while Mrs. Major lived to the advanced age of seventy-six years.
They were the parents of eight children, three of whom are living.

Charles G. Major of this review was educated in his native town, and
at an early age started out in life for himself, securing a clerkship in a dry
goods store, where he completed a three years' apprenticeship under the
direction of the late Hon. John Robson and his brother. The contract was
that he would be paid but forty dollars for the first year, sixty dollars for
the second year and one hundred dollars for the third year, in addition to
his board, but such was the value of his services to his employers that they
gave him a larger wage than was agreed upon and he continued in their
employ for a year following the completion of his apprenticeship, receiving
from them a larger salary than that of any other clerk. He has been con-
tinuously in business relations with them since that time.

On the first of June, 1859, Mr. Major arrived in New Westminster
and in 1862 he went to the Cariboo mines, remaining in that district during
the years 1862-3-4, during which time he worked for the express company,
taking the gold to the markets oil pack horses. In 1864 he returned to New
Westminster and began merchandising in connection with John C. Clute.
In 1870 the latter gentleman decided to go to Missouri and Mr. Major then
continued in the business alone until 1887, when he retired from merchandis-
ing and invested his capital in real estate. He then engaged in the real
estate business with good success, and before it was known that Vancouver
was to be the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Mr. Major invested
in property there, which has constantly increased in value, owing to the
rapid growth of the city. H'e still has much desirable real estate in Van-
couver and likewise valuable property in New Westminster. He also con-
ducts a large insurance business and is the government administrator for the
district of New Westminster, extending as far as North Bend. He pos-
sesses excellent ability as financier and is known as a man of unremitting
energy and close application, whose efforts have been so carefully and dis-
cerningly directed that he has gained a most gratifying success.

In 1867 Mr. Major was married to Miss Mary Elizabeth Clarkson, a
daughter of William Clarkson, who was one of the prominent early pioneers
of that province. She is a sister of Mrs. J. S. Clute and Mrs. John C.
Brown, all worthy pioneer women of British Columbia. This union has
been blessed with four children, as follows: Edith Eleanor, who is now the
wife of Thomas Robson Pearson; Mildred Jane, now the wife of John A.
Lee; Harry Clarkson, and Frank. Mr. Major holds membership in the


Methodist church, to which Mrs. Major also belonged, being for a long
period an active and highly valued representative of that denomination.
She died in the year 1903, and her loss was deeply deplored, for she was a
woman of lovable christian character, devoted to the welfare of her family
and friends, kind to the poor and sympathetic with the sorrowing, in fact
her many splendid qualities of heart and mind endeared her to all who knew
her. Mr. Major has been an active officer and working member of the
church for the past forty years and his influence has ever been on the side
of right, progress, reform and improvem.ent. He was one of the first pilot
commissioners appointed on the mainland, and he still holds that office. His
life record forms a connecting link between the primitive past and the pro-
gressive present, and he stands today as one of the honored pioneers of the
province, having ever been true to its best interests and to the principles of
an upright manhood.


John Stilwell Clute, inspector of customs at New Westminster, is a
British Columbia pioneer of 1862. He was born near Kingston, Ontario,
on the 15th of June, 1840. John S. Clute, father of John Stilwell Clute of
this review, was born in 1801, and spent the greater part of his life in
eastern Canada, but in his later years came to New Westminster, making
his home with his son. He died at the venerable age of ninety-five years.
He had served the government during the Mackenzie revolution of 1837,
and had also done government service as a civil officer, being a collector of
customs, and at the time of his death was the oldest civil servant in the
Superannuation list.

John Stilwell Clute is the only member of the family in British Colum-
bia. He was educated in Kingston, Ontario, until his tenth year, and then
removed to Picton with his father, who had been appointed a customs of-
ficer there. He then entered the schools of that place and after putting aside
his text books he accepted a position in a drug store with the intention of
later studying medicine. After a year, however, he abandoned that idea
and removed to Port Hope, where he entered the dry goods establishment
of his brother-in-law, being engaged for a time in selling goods. In i860
he made his way southward to Houston, Texas, and there filled the position
of secretary to the Texas Telegraph Company, the first company putting a
line in operation in that state.

The Civil war breaking out in April, 1861, Mr. Clute after a few months
decided to return to Ontario, where he remained until the spring of 1862,


when he started for British Columbia, landing at Esquimault on the 4th of
May of that year. He only remained for a short time at Victoria, and soon
started with others for the Cariboo country, but later decided to accept a
situation in New Westminster and sent his companions on with the provisions
they had procured for the expedition. Mr. Clute became a clerk in a general
merchandise store owned by J. A. Webster. He continued at this work
until the fall of 1863, when in connection with C. G. Major he formed a
partnership and embarked in general merchandising on his own account
under the firm style of Clute & Major, continuing in that business success-
fully until 1870, when he sold out his interest in the business. In that year
Mr. Clute removed to Sedalia, Missouri, where he embarked in business in
connection with James M. Clute, under the firm name of Clute Brothers.
For five years he conducted a successful mercantile enterprise there and then
sold his interests and returned to New Westminster.

In 1866 Mr. Clute married Miss Jennie Clarkson, second daughter of
Mr. William Clarkson, of New Westminster, a British Columbia pioneer
of 1858. To Mr. and Mrs. Clute have been born nine children, eight of
whom are yet living. The family are members of the Episcopal church,
Mr. Clute being a church officer of the parish of St. Barnabas, New West-

Mr. Clute was appointed to the Customs Service as collector at the
port of New Westminster in 1878, and in 1889 he had added to his duties
as collector the office of inspector, he holding the dual positions until 1896,
when he was at his own request relieved of the office of collector and assumed
the office of inspector of ports for British Columbia. Before becoming a
civil servant he took a very active interest in city affairs, doing every-
thing in his power to promote its well being, and was an active worker for
confederation. He served as a member of the city council for a number of
years, and was elected president of the council in 1868, this position being
the equivalent of mayor. He also served on the school board, and was al-
ways found in the front rank in supporting every measure which he deemed
would prove of public benefit.

Mr. Clute has likewise been prominent in Masonic circles and has
thoroughly informed himself concerning the tenets and teachings of the
order. He belongs to Union lodge. No. 9, A. F. & A. M., of New West-
minster, which received its charter in 1861. He attained the sublime degree
of a Master Mason therein in 1863 and soon became one of its prominent
and most efficient members, filling all of its positions and being now the
oldest past master. He has the honor of being past grand master of the


grand lodge of Masons of the province of British Columbia, and he is now
the only active surviving member of Union lodge, that was identified there-
with when he took his degrees in 1863. He has the entire confidence of
his brethren of the fraternity and is a worthy exemplar of this craft, which
has for its basic element kindness, helpfulness and charity.

Mr. Clute has a delightful home in this city, in which he has spent the
greater part of his life, he has seen many changes, and the country today
bears scarcely a resemblance to the district to which he made his way in
1862. The natural resources of the country had then scarcely been touched,
but the years have brought population, and men of enterprise and business
capacity have improved the splendid opportunities offered, and have de-
veloped here cities of phenomenal growth, having every evidence of ad-
vanced and cultivated civilization. Mr. Clute has borne his full share in
this work of public progress, and his name should be inscribed high on the
roll of sturdy and honored pioneers.


John F. Ross, president of the Ross & Howard Foundry Company,
Limited, thus figures prominently in business circles in Vancouver, and his
intense and well directed energy have enabled him to advance from a humble
financial position to one of affluence. He is a native of Scotland, his birth
having occurred in Perth, on the 12th of September, 1841, and in that coun-
try his ancestors had resided through many generations. His father, David
Ross, was born in Scotland and married Miss Betsey Ferrier, who was also
born in Scotland. He followed the trade of a mason and builder and other
construction work, in this way providing for his family, and was also
actively identified with the improvement of the locality in which he made
his home. He and his wife enjoyed the warm regard of many friends be-
cause of their excellent traits of heart and mind. They hold membership
in the Presbyterian church, and their entire lives were permeated by their
Christian faith, they endeavoring to follow closely the teachings of the de-
nomination. Mr. Ross attained the venerable age of eighty years, while
his wife lived to be seventy-seven years of age. They were the parents
of six children, but John F. Ross is the only one who has left Scotland.

Having acquired his education in the schools of Perth, John F. Ross
learned the joiner's and cabinet-maker's trade, serving a four years' ap-
prenticeship, being paid two shillings and six pence a week, and afterward
learned the pattern-maker's trade in Dundee. At the end of his term of in-
denture, however, he was receiving four shillings and six pence per week.


He then went to England in 1864 and for twenty-four years was actively
engaged in business in Manchester and other leading manufacturing centers
of England. He came direct from Manchester to Vancouver, arriving in
British Columbia in 1889. There were then but six thousand inhabitants in
the city, and he engaged in making patterns in the Vancouver City Foundry
and Machine Works, Limited, for four years, after which he established his

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 67 of 79)