R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

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own manufacturing enterprise, in which he has met with remarkable success.
Forming a partnership with James Howard, the factory was opened in
1891. They are founders, pattern-makers, machinists and boiler manufac-
turers and theirs is the pioneer business of this kind on the mainland. They
had a small shop at first on Water street, but their patronage grew every
year and the business is now carried on in a building on Carroll street,
ninety-four by one hundred and forty feet. In addition to this they have
at the east end of the city a large manufacturing plant, covering two and a
half acres of ground and their output is in constant demand, being shipped
all over the northwest. Their principal product is sawmill machinery, and
for the past six years they have done the casting for the Canadian Pacific

Mr. Ross was happily married in England in 1864 to Miss Jessie Flem-
ing, who was born in Dundee, Scotland, in which country her ancestors had
long been found. This union has been blessed with ten children, of whom
seven are living. The eldest son, David John, is secretary and treasurer of
the Ross & Howard Company Foundry, Limited, and is one of Vancouver's
respected business men, also holding membership in the Board of Trade.
The eldest daughter, Jessie, married in England; Lizzie, is acting as her
father's housekeeper. Maggie S. is filling a position as bookkeeper, and
William is in Calgary. Mrs. Ross departed this life in 1891. She was a
most faithful and devoted wife and loving mother, possessed many amiable
traits of character and had a large circle of friends who held her in the
highest esteem and who felt the deepest regret over her death. The com-
panionship between Mr. and Mrs. Ross had been most congenial and her
loss therefore came with greatest force to him. The family home is a nice
residence in Vancouver, and the members of the houshold are occupying en-
viable social positions. Mr. Ross and his children are members of the
Mount Pleasant Presbyterian church. He has built a number of fine resi-
dences in. the city and has done his full share in the upbuilding and improve-
men of Vancouver during the fifteen years of his residence here. Faithful-
ness to duty and strict adherence to a fixed purpose in life will do more to
advance a man's interests than wealth or adventitious circumstances. The


successful men of the day are they who have planned their own advance-
ment and have accomplished it in spite of many obstacles and with a cer-
tainty that could have been attained only through their own efforts. This
class of men has a worthy representative in John F. Ross, who, coming to
the province in 1889. has since made for himself a leading position in busi-
ness circles, his life record proving that success and an honored name might
be won simultaneously.


Simon John Tunstall, M. D., has been successfully practicing his profes-
sion in British Columbia for over twenty years, and since 1892 has been per-
manently located in Vancouver. Born at St. Anne de Bellvue, province of
Quebec, in 1852, he was a son of Gabriel Christie and Jessie (Fraser) Tuns-
tall, who were both natives of Montreal, province of Quebec, and descended
from pioneers identified with the early history of that province. On his
father's side he was descended from the Rev. Mr. Tunstall, one of the first
rectors of Christ church, Montreal, and chaplain to the forces in Canada in
the early part of the nineteenth century; and from General Gabriel Christie,
whose daughter became the wife of Rev. Mr. Tunstall. Through General
Christie, Dr. Tunstall was a co-seigneur of the seigniory of Lacolle and de
Beaujeu. On his mother's side his great-grandfathers were Major Fraser,
who was at the taking of Quebec under Wolffe, and Donald McKay, one of
the United Empire Loyalists, he having left estates in Albany to follow the
flag in Canada. His grandfather, Simon Fraser, was one of the chief factors
of the Hon. Northwest Company, his brother, Thomas Fraser, was in the
Royals and acted as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Kent when in command of
the forces in Canada, and died as a major general in India.

Dr. Tunstall was educated at high school, Montreal, and prepared himself
for his profession at McGill University, Montreal, from which he was grad-
.uated first, in 1873, with the degree of B. A., and in 1875, with the degree of
M. D., C. M. During his scholastic career he gained numerous honors, hav-
ing won the Davidson gold medal at the high school, took the B. A. degree
with first rank honors, and during his medical course he received the prize
for his primary year and the Holmes gold medal was conferred upon him as
first of his year in the graduating class. After practicing four years at
Papineauville, province of Quebec, and one year in Montreal, Dr. Tunstall
came to British Columbia in 1881. Two years were spent in Lytton, and the
following nine years at Kamloops, where he was in charge of a large number
of men during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. He located


in Vancouver in 1892. and has since enjoyed a very representative and profit-
able practice in this phenomenal city of the great northwest.

Dr. Tunstall, besides giving close attention to his practice, has partici-
pated actively in a wide range of professional and public affairs. He is a past
president of the Caledonian and St. Andrews societies and is president of the
Veterans Association of Vancouver. He is a former president of the College
of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and is a past president of
the Canadian Medical Association. He is one of the prominent Masons of
the province, having been identified with the order a number of years and
passed the chairs. Dr. Tunstall is a member of the Church of England, and
at different times served as church warden and lay delegate to the synod.

In 1885 Dr. Tunstall married Miss Marianne Lawson Innes, whose
father, James H. Innes, was for many years a crown navy officer, located at
Esquimault. Five daughters have been born unto Dr. and Mrs. Tunstall,
whose names are : Janet Marianne, Marjorie Katharine. Dorothy Ella.
Gwendoline Louise and Ruth Elizabeth Eraser.


John Sebastian Helmcken, who has long held a prominent place in the
history of Victoria, and has also stood deservedly high in the medical pro-
fession, was born in London, England, on the 5th of June, 1825, and is of
pure German ancestry, his father being a native of Bremerlee; his mother's
father, who was born in Misskirch, served as a soldier in Napoleon's army.

John S. Helmcken received his early education in his native city, dur-
ing which time he also' took private instruction from a Lutheran clergyman,
under whom he studied and completed his literary branches. His father
having died, it happened that Dr. Graves, of Trinity Square, Tower Hill,
took a liking to the youngster, who became attached to the doctor's office,
and intended to educate him for a druggist. In process of time he was
taken gratis as an apprentice for four years (such being then the custom),
during which he had to put up all the prescriptions, make pills and so forth,
keep the surgery in order and attend to minor cases outside, including sur-
gical cases. Before the expiration of the apprenticeship he became a stu-
dent at Guys Hospital (six hundred beds), London, and at the end of the
legal requirement, namely, four years, he obtained a diploma from the Royal
College of Surgeons, England, and likewise a license from the Apothecaries
Company. During this time his health became impaired, and Mr. Harri-
son, a wonderfully liberal supporter of the hospital, a very benevolent man
and treasurer of the same institution, offered him, as a reward of merit (he


had captured several prizes), an appointment to the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany's ship Prince Rupert, on its voyage to the York Factory on Hudson's
Bay and return. The voyage consumed about five months, and among his
fellow passengers were Chief Factor Hargrave and his wife, and a num-
ber of men belonging to the expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, the
Arctic explorer. Mr. Helmcken returned from this journey (with Dr. Rae
of the Hudson's Bay Company, the celebrated explorer, who was a passenger
on the ship) restored in health, and he then spent another year in study,
graduating at the expiration of that period from the Royal College of Sur-
geons. He was then detailed to enter the British navy, but was dissuaded
from that course and soon afterward received the appointment of surgeon to
the passenger ship Malacca, Captain Conset, bound for Bombay (not Suez
Canal then). This vessel was owned by Messrs. Wigram and Greeks,
who built the pioneer Pacific steamer Beaver for the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany. For a year and a half they sailed the Indian seas, and returning to
London the doctor received appointment as clerk and colonial surgeon to
the Hudson's Bay Company at Vancouver Island.

He accordingly sailed with eighty pioneer emigrants on the ship Nor-
man Morrison, Captain VVishart, and in this voyage was successful in quell-
ing an epidemic of small pox, enabling him to report but two deaths at the
end of the trip. The ship arrived in Victoria in March, 1850, but before
this the passengers were placed in quarantine in Esquimault harbor for two
or three weeks, although the ship had been long free from the disease. A
couple of months after his arrival at Victoria Mr. Helmcken was transferred
to Fort Rupert, proceeding on the historic steamer Beaver, this being the
time the coal mines were opened at that place. After a few months' resi-
dence here, during which a munity of the employes, with a tragedy occa-
sioned by the California gold fever occurred, he was suddenly recalled to
Victoria, returning in a canoe, paddled by Indians, a wild lot in those days,
running the gauntlet through coast enemies for three hundred miles with con-
siderable danger, and only escaped because the savages had a great respect
for Hudson's Bay Company men, "King George's white men/' carrying
papers, arriving at Victoria at the end of December to attend Governor
Blanchard, who of course had by this time recovered from his illness. Since
that time, from the building of the first house to the last, he has maintained
his residence in this lovely city.

Dr. Helmcken has, of course, occupied several public positions in the
political life of his community, and in 1855 was honored by being elected to
the first legislative assembly of Vancouver Island. He was elected speaker.


and filled that position with ability and distinction for many years. Al-
though a great opponent of confederation, he, when overpowered, endeavored
to help to make it a success, and was one of the three sent to Ottawa to
secure in the confederation terms favorable to British Columbia, the other
members of the committee being Mr. Trutch, the chief (afterwards Sir
Joseph, since deceased), and Dr. Carroll. In this mission they met with
satisfactory success, the transcontinental railroad being made a condition of
the union. Immediately after the completion of this mission Dr. Helm-
cken was offered a senatorship, but declined the honor in order to give more
especial attention to his children and large medical practice. He is an hon-
ored member of the Pioneer Society, and in his political affiliation has al-
ways been a moderate Conservative. After confederation he voluntarily
retired from political life.

The marriage of Dr. Helmcken and Miss Cecelia Douglas occurred on
the 27th of December, 1852, she being the daughter of Sir James Douglas,
the governor of the colony. Mrs. Helmcken, who was a most devoted
wife and mother, has preceded him to the home beyond, and of their seven
children four are now living, namely : Amelia, the wife of G. A. McTavish ;
James Douglas, a prominent member of the medical fraternity in Victoria,
the city of his birth; Harry Dallas, an ex-member of parliament and now
a prominent king's counselor, practicing his profession in Victoria; and
Edith Louisa Higgins, who is a widow and resides with her father, to whom
she is greatly devoted. Dr. Helmcken has property interests in this city and
on the island, and throughout the community he is recognized as a valued,
respected citizen.


Only a comparatively few years have passed since British Columbia
was practically cut off from communication with the east by high mountain
ranges and almost impenetrable forests, but the pioneer ventured into the
unsettled districts and the railroad builder made travel over the mountains
and through the forests possible. Then the world came to know of the
splendid natural resources of British Columbia which before had been reached
by means of navigation only along the Pacific coast. Men came from the
east to claim the riches of the region and to convert their labor into a market-
able product through utilizing the means which nature had placed at their
disposal. One of the most important industries which has sprung up in this
section of the country^ is the manufacture of lumber, and it is of this great
field of activity that Robert Jardine is a representative. He is classed with


the prominent business men of New Westminster, being manager of the
Royal City Mills, owned by the British Columbia Mills, Timber & Trading

Mr. Jardine has been a resident of the province since i88q. He was
born in Campbleton, New Brunswick, on the 28th of January, 1864, and is
of Scotch ancestry. His grandfather. Robert Jardine, was born in Scotland
and was married there to a Miss Fair. In 1832 they crossed the' Atlantic to
New Brunswick, where John Jardine, father of Robert Jardine, was lx)rn.
Having reached man's estate he married Miss Catharine McNair, and they
became parents of eight children. Both were Presbyterians in their re-
ligious belief, and Mr. Jardine died in his forty- fourth year, while his wife
passed away in her fifty-fourth year, their remains being interred in their
native town of Campbleton, New Brunswick.

Robert Jardine was educated in the public schools of that place and
entered upon his business career in the railroad service, as freight agent with
the Intercolonial Railway, acting in that capacity for eight years in Camp-
bleton, after which he was engaged in general merchandising for two years.
He then came to New Westminster, accepting a position in the office of the
British Columbia Mills, Timber & Trading Company. In i8q2 he was
promoted to the position of manager of the Royal City Mills, and since that
time has given close and unremitting attention to the business.

The British Columbia Mills, Timber & Trading Company has its head-
quarters in Vancouver. John Hendry is the president and Richard H. Alex-
ander the secretary and treasurer. Theirs is by far the largest lumbering
manufacturing enterprise in the province or in Canada. The Royal City
Mills, located at New Westminster, were established in 1878. Later the
firm of Hendry, McNair & Company became owners and built the Royal
City Planing Mills. A more extended history of this company and its ex-
tensive operations is given in connection with the sketch of Mr. Hendry on
another page of this work. The mills in New Westminster have a capacity
of sixty thousand feet of lumber every ten hours, and one hundred and
twenty-five thousand shingles in the same time, while the sash and door
factory has a capacity of from three to five hundred doors. They manu-
facture all kinds of house finishings and also boxes. Two of the company's
steamers are used in transporting for this branch of business, their own tugs
are used to bring the logs to the mill, and about two hundred and ninety
men are here employed, so that the supervision of the business demands
marked energy and capability — qualities with which Mr. Jardine is well
equipped. He has the entire confidence of those whom he represents, for


he has so managed the mills at this point as to make them a gratifying
source of profit to the stockholders of the company.

Mr. Jardine takes an active interest in the affairs of the town in which
he resides and in the politics of the country, and adheres to the Liberal party.
He is an active member of the Board of Trade of New Westminster and
he belongs to Union Lodge No. 9, A. F. & A. M., also Westminster Chapter,
R. A. M.

In 1890 Mr. Jardine was united in marriage to Miss A. C. Campbell,
a native of Maria, Quebec. After several years of happy married life the
wife was called from her home by death, passing away in 1897. She left
two daughters, Jean and Katie. A wide circle of friends held her in high
esteem, for in her life she portrayed many sterling qualities of heart and
mind. Mr. Jardine and his family occupied a nice home in Westminster, and
he sustains a very enviable reputation as a reliable and capable business


Samuel M. Brydges, who has been a resident of Nelson during the past
eight years, came to this city from Brandon, Manitoba, and is now num-
bered among its prominent business men. Here he is largely interested in
the real estate business and mining, and although he started upon his busi-
ness career without capital he has accumulated good real estate and built up
an extensive insurance business here. He has also been instrumental in
interesting outside capital, principally in Nelson- realty, and is secretary of
the Nelson Board of Trade. He is a young man of thirty-one years, but he
possesses laudable ambition and is making for himself a name and position
in the business world.


Thomas L. Briggs, of New Westminster, is numbered among the pio-
neers of British Columbia of 1862. Great have been the changes that have
occurred in that time, in fact, the growth of the country and its improvement
have been so marvelous as to partake almost of the magical. Deserving of
much credit for his co-operation in the work of development and upbuilding,
Mr. Briggs certainly deserves representation among the pioneer citizens and
representatl v^e men of the province. He figured prominently in business af-
fairs and gave tangible support to every measure that fostered public improve-

A native of Kingston, Canada, Mr. Briggs was born on the 29th of
March, 1839. His grandfather, Thomas Briggs, was a native of England,

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in which country he spent the days of his boyhood and youth and following
his marriage he crossed the ocean to Canada in 1829. Thomas Briggs, Jr.,
father of Thomas L. Briggs, was born in England and accompanied his par-
ents on their emigration to the new world, the family becoming pioneer resi-
dents of Ontario, Canada. Having arrived at years of maturity Thomas
Briggs, Jr., married Miss Cynthia Lasher, also a native of England. For
many years he was actively associated with business interests in Kingston and
he died in the ninetieth year of his age, while his wife passed away at the
age of sixty years, their remains being interred in the Kingston cemetery.
They were members of the Church of England ami were people of the highest
respectability. In their family were six sons, three of them being in Brit-
ish Columbia, Albert and Alfred being residents of Victoria.

Thomas L. Briggs, now well known in Westminster and indeed in other
parts of the province, was a student in Queens College and completed his
course in a Church of England grammar school. He served an apprentice-
ship of five years in London to the hardware business and the excitement
caused by the discovery of gold on the Eraser river brought him to British
Columbia in 1862. He made his way direct to New Westminster and went
to the Cariboo mines, walking there and teck with a heavy pick upon his
shoulders, thus covering a distance of six hundred miles. Prices at that time
were very high, flour bringing a dollar and half per pound, while other things
sold at a proportionate rate. On reaching his destination Mr. Briggs tried
mining, but did not rapidly realize the fortune that he hoped to gain and ac-
cordingly returned to Westminster. There he entered the services of Bar-
nard's Express, conveying express fiT)m Douglas to Lillooet, a distance of one
hundred and fifty miles by stage. He was engaged in that business for about
a month and then returned to Westminster, after which he secured employ-
ment in the forwarding house of Smith & Company, becoming actively en-
gaged in forwarding goods and collecting freight. This continued until the
spring of 1864, when he went to Cariboo to close out a branch business that
the company had established there. At Cariboo he entered the employ of
Scott Packer, a forwarder, and when the business was closed out he purchased
the balance of the stock and continued in the trade, carrying on the enterprise
on his own account for about six years, during which time he met with a fair
measure of success. He was also agent for the wholesale business of Greeley
& Fitierre and handled large consignments for them. He also became largely
interested in mining operations, becoming one of the owners of the Forest
Rise and other claims on Williams creek, the Red Gulch, Victoria and Lohee
creek. He likewise had an interest in still other claims, which yielded a good


return. He was thus closely associated with the early development of the
country, aiding in reclaiming the wild districts for the purposes of civiHza-
tion of its natural resources for the benefit of man.

In 1872 Mr. Briggs returned to Kingston to visit his relatives', from
whom he had been separated for ten years. In 1873 he went to Chicago and
on learning of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad to the Pacific
coast he returned to Victoria, anticipating the great development and growth
of this section of the country. In Victoria he engaged in business with D.
Curtz, who afterward went to the Cariboo district, Mr. Briggs forwarding
him stock from Victoria. "They conducted the business for two years and
then sold out. In 1874 Mr. Briggs took a stock of goods to the Cassiar mines,
but decided not to go into business there, so sold his stock at a good advantage
and returned to Victoria. In 1875 in Victoria he embarked in the wholesale
dry goods business under the firm style of Strass, Briggs, Curtz & Company.
This relationship was maintained for four years. The railroad, however,
had not yet been built and Mr. Briggs sold his interest to his partners and en-
gaged in steam-boating in connection with Captain John Irving. They oper-
ated the pioneer line on the Fraser river, going- as far up the stream as Yale.
After two years they united their interests with the Hudson's Bay Company.
The Canadian Pacific Navigation Company operated from Victoria to Yale,
using seven boats on the line, and Mr. Briggs became the agent for the com-
pany at New Westrninster. In 1900 they sold out to the Canadian Pacific
Railroad Company and Mr. Briggs has since been retired from active business.
Under his management the business continually grew and was eminently suc-
cessful. He likewise made judicious investment in lands in Alberta, which
also proved a profitable source of income and he still has several thousand
acres there and is also a prominent property holder in New Westminster.

In 1874 Mr. Briggs was married to Miss Mary Irving, a daughter of
Captain John Irving and a sister of Captain John Irving, Jr. Mrs. Briggs
is a native of the state of Oregon and by her marriage she has become the
mother of nine children, all of whom were born in British Columbia and are
still residing there. Their children are William Irving, Henry C, Beryl D.,
John A., Stanley K., Manuella, Naomi, Octavia and Errol. The family are
Presbyterians in religious belief and they have a delightful home in this city and
are among its most highly esteemed residents. To give in detail the history of
Mr. Briggs and his varied experiences would be to present a complete picture
of British Columbia in pioneer times and to indicate much of the progress
of its development. He has gained through the varied experiences which come


to the early settlers, has kept in touch with the business growth and substan-
tial improvement of the progress and at all times has endorsed those measures
and movements which he believed would contribute to general prosperity.

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 68 of 79)