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Historic Victoria Businesses

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#1 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 06:53 AM

was not sure where else to put this.


but upon doing other research this morning i learned more than i previously knew about pemberton holmes (real estate).


This prospect must have caught the imagination of one Joseph Despard Pemberton because on December 9th, 1850, at the age of 29, he wrote to The Hudson’s Bay Company seeking employment as “a Surveyor and Engineer of thorough business habits and energy with reference the Colonization of Vancouver’s Island”.



of course we have streets here named despard joseph and pemberton all in the same area more or less.








By 1887 Victoria was a growing city. A paid fire department had replaced the volunteer brigade, electric street lighting had replaced gas, many people had acquired telephones, electric street cars provided urban transportation, while the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway offered rail service to up-Island points.

Such was Victoria when in 1887 Joseph Pemberton and his eldest son Frederick Bernard Pemberton (Fred) went into business by opening the firm of Pemberton & Son – Engineers, Surveyors, and Real Estate Agents.



In 1917 Cuthbert Holmes, whose family were also early Victoria settlers, married Phillippa Pemberton while he was on leave from active duty in France. In 1920 Cuthbert Holmes joined his father-in-law, Fred Pemberton, in Pemberton & Son. After assuming its presidency in 1933, he changed the firm’s name to Pemberton Holmes and today Pemberton Holmes is still thriving as a modern day business that is still conducted on those same “quiet and strict commercial principles” that Fred Pemberton wrote about so long ago.



this is an interesting little fact:


Pip stewarded the company through challenging and changing times and had the honour of being elected as President of the International Real Estate Federation in 1975 and 1976. Of interest is the fact that the firm’s telephone number may be one of the oldest in Canada, having started out in the first exchange as 8124 and later developing in its latest manifestation as 384-8124.





perhaps this map is a bit later?



Edited by Victoria Watcher, 14 October 2019 - 07:11 AM.

#2 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:29 AM

i'll add another one here.  i missed this article last year:



There’s a shop sitting on Government Street with gilded gold lettering and stylish colourful pea coats that hasn’t moved since it opened 156 years ago.


W&J Wilson’s Clothiers is the oldest operating business in Victoria to stay in its original location, and the oldest family-run clothing store in its original location in all of North America.


“It’s a little humbling because we’re a thing that isn’t around much anymore,” said owner Scott Thompson, whose family has run the shop for three generations after taking over from the Wilson family. “You want to do a good job, you want to live up to the legacy. It makes us listen a little more and change.”





Edited by Victoria Watcher, 14 October 2019 - 07:30 AM.

#3 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:31 AM

another one not nearly as old:





We are a family owned and operated business since 1937.

     Borden Mercantile was started during the Great Depression of the 1930's by Harry Borden. Harry was finding feed too expensive to buy so he started mixing his own in a barrel with his arm.  Harry began mixing extra feed to sell to support his family and continued to grow the business over the years by expanding into animal, garden, and bee supplies.  Harry's descendants continue on with his legacy and commitment to serving the people of Saanich and beyond.  


#4 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:35 AM

here is another old one.


History of Island Blue

Island Blue Print Co. Ltd. was founded July 4, 1912, when the assets of the Electric Blueprinting and Draughting Company were purchased by Joseph B. Davenport, a land surveyor. The acquisition coincided with a fire that destroyed the original map of Greater Victoria owned by “T.N. Hibbens Stationers”. Mr. Davenport was commissioned to replace the city map, marking the beginning of a new company to be known as Island Blue Print & Map Co. Ltd.




presume the davenport guy named here also had the davenport map company.

#5 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:36 AM




Over 60 Years and 3 Generations!

As the 3rd generation of Sawyers, Jarret Sawyer is carrying on the tradition that was established by Jarret's grandparents, Marion and David Sawyer in 1953.  This commitment has resulted in Sawyers growing to have the largest showroom, and largest selection of sewing machines, notions, and accessories on Vancouver Island. Today, with online sales and the Internet, Sawyers has become known and respected much further afield: customers in small communities can get the sales and support they need, no matter where they live.



#6 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:41 AM




This store at 570-572 Johnson Street was built in 1905 by architects Thomas Hooper and C. Elwood Watkins for Jeune Brothers, sailmakers and tent manufacturers. Jeune Brothers Tent & Awning have occupied this store since it was built in 1905.



#7 G-Man


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Posted 14 October 2019 - 08:05 AM

There are so many great stories. Thanks for sharing!

Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 


It has a whole new look!


#8 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 08:11 AM

The Butler Brothers Family

A part of the rich heritage of the Saanich Peninsula and continuing to play a key role in the development of Vancouver Island Communities.


Although Butler Brothers Supplies Ltd. was incorporated in 1954, the Butler family has been a part of the History of the Saanich Peninsula since Captain George Stephen Butler began farming here in 1868.


The "Butler Brothers" of the company name were Claude, Wally, Tom and Eric, all grandchildren of the Captain. Claude Butler, who was president of the company for quite a few years, passed away in 1986. Wally, the second brother, passed away in 1992. The company is now under the leadership of the Captain's great-grandson, Brian Butler.


The brothers were doing business of the island before the Second World War, when they were engaged in logging and the sale of gravel. In the late 1940s they built a small store to handle the sale of a limited selection of building materials. Following this, in the early 1950s, they became involved in the manufacture and sale of ready-mix concrete.


Today, Butler Brothers Supplies Ltd. has three gravel pits in operation - Keating Cross Road, Sooke and Duncan - and sells ready-mix concrete from Keating Cross Road, Bay Street in Victoria and Sooke.


Butler Brothers Supplies Ltd. continues to grow to meet the needs of Island consumers and to carry on the tradition of quality, integrity and service to Vancouver Island communities.









Central Saanich’s Butler Brothers: A concrete business plan

Butler Bros. employees between 78 and 100 people, with an annual payroll of approximately $3.8 to $4.5 million.



Edited by Victoria Watcher, 14 October 2019 - 08:13 AM.

#9 Mike K.

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 08:16 AM

The Butler family is also a big player in the Sooke real-estate game, with quite a bit of land in the town and beyond the town (in the Sooke Hills) owned by them.

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#10 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:39 PM

It all began in 1947, with a single tractor and the hard working dedication of one man, our grandfather, Don Mann. Today, we celebrate over 70 years of success, safety and growth into a large team of employees who respond to a broad scope of municipal, residential and commercial projects.




Our company is built on a foundation of trust and integrity; the same commitment and values Don founded the company on, handed down over three generations. We understand that you look for the same things we look for as consumers: good service and money well spent. We intend to deliver on that expectation.



Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 October 2019 - 05:40 PM.

#11 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:46 PM

brown bros.:



Founded in 1918 by brothers Herbert and George Brown, we bring over a century of experience to property management.


With a dedication to customer service and satisfaction, we are known as the local leaders in property rentals and management. We’ll help you spend less time sifting through listings and property management service providers and more time living your life in comfort and confidence.


We serve Victoria, British Columbia, from Sidney by the Sea to the Cowichan Valley, offering one convenient, trusted stop to find a home or the support you need to manage your properties. From apartments to single-detached houses, we manage over 6,500 residential, strata and commercial units on the Island.



Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 October 2019 - 05:46 PM.

#12 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:48 PM

A distinctive shopping experience in the heart of downtown Victoria, the Irish Linen Stores is renowned for its superior merchandise and commitment to customer service.


Our premium collection features Irish linens of exceptional quality, one-of-a-kind sweaters of the finest wool, and an array of handkerchiefs (our most popular item!), many of them hand-embroidered in the Madeira Islands.


Irish Linen Stores was first established in 1910. In 1917 it moved to our present location at 1019 Government Street, an attractive 1884 heritage building of Italianate design where there are still the original lamp fixtures and glass cases. This year, along with Canada’s celebration of 150 years of Confederation, we are enormously proud to be celebrating 100 years at the same address on historic Government Street.


How has this locally-owned business remained a Victoria success for over a century? Little has changed over the years in our dedication to quality and customer service. Owner Maura FitzGerald Lamb, born in County Galway, returns annually to Ireland to source merchandise, bringing together the finest linens from the best producers in the world – traditional pieces from Ireland, the Madeiras and Italy as well as contemporary pieces from France and Sweden that add vibrant colour to our collection while maintaining our exceptional standards for quality.


Irish Linen is a Victoria treasure, but it also attracts returning customers from around the world who shop in-store or call our toll-free number to order from our exclusive collection.


Visit us in store or online today. We look forward to sharing with you our passion for Irish Linen!




Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 October 2019 - 05:48 PM.

#13 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:51 PM

If the founder of Greggs Furniture walked into the company’s manufacturing area today, he’d be able to settle into work right away building sofas and chairs.


“We are very much still completely handmade from the ground up,” said owner David Screech. The View Royal councillor began working in Greggs’ warehouse when he was 23, later moving into management and eventual ownership in 2000.


Greggs Furniture dates back more than half a century. Its first listing in the Victoria telephone directory was in 1958 at 2101 Government St.


Many original patterns created by founder Gregg Low are still being used.


Victoria’s Murray Scott bought the company in the mid-1960s, and the business was at the corner of Douglas Street and Queens Avenue for many years, even after a massive fire in 1982 destroyed two manufacturing buildings. The Scott family sold the furniture and upholstery operation, now at 2333 Government St., to Screech.




Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 October 2019 - 05:51 PM.

#14 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:53 PM

The Beacon Drive In is a restaurant in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Founded and built in 1958 by Bill Pistol and Bob McMillan, it has become known as a "Victoria institution" for its soft-serve ice cream, friendly service, and local clientele. Located at 126 Douglas Street, the Beacon Drive In is directly across from the 75-hectare Beacon Hill Park, which does not allow food to be sold within the park grounds — making the fast-food restaurant a destination for picnickers and park-goers. The most popular item on the menu is the ice cream, which comes in a variety of dips and flavours, as it is known locally as Victoria's soft ice cream headquarters.




#15 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:54 PM

Historic JAMES BAY INN is the third oldest hotel in Victoria, preceded only by the Dominion Hotel and the Empress, 1908. Opened in 1911 it has operated continuously as a hotel with only a brief interlude during the war years.



#16 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 05:57 PM

One of the best known and most picturesque landmarks of its day in Victoria, Four Mile Roadhouse is the fourth oldest house in Victoria’s history. The three others at Helmcken House, Todd Manor and Craigflower Manor (now more than 130 years old). A young Peter Calvert left the heathered hills of Scotland behind him in 1849, and sailed to Victoria by way of Cape Horn in the immigrant ship the Norman Morrison.
He came as an indentured servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In return for a free passage he was required to work for the Company for a period of five years. He then married a young woman, Miss Elizabeth Montgomery, with whom he had fallen in love on the voyage from Britain. They moved up the hill and bought a six-acre parcel of land through which the original Island Highway ran. Calvert built himself a small four-room cottage and as the family increased the cottage grew.
At that early time, the Victoria stage coaches struggled up the tough Four Mile Hill on the way to Sooke and up island places. Calvert opened a roadhouse and started a staging service offering a breather for the horses and a chance for dusty travellers to quench their thirst.


Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 October 2019 - 05:58 PM.

#17 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 06:01 PM

Capital Iron stands in one of the oldest buildings of Victoria, British Columbia, with a long and rich history on the Inner Harbour. Founder Morris L. Greene opened our first location in 1934 as a scrap business. He had a considerable knowledge of ships, which combined with the company’s waterfront location, enabled his successful ship dismantling business. Between 1934 and 1971 the company dismantled nearly 100 ships of various sizes.


During the Second World War when industry was busy supplying goods for the war effort and little for civilians, Capital Iron was a popular spot to pick up salvaged or surplus items. Following the war, Capital Iron took on a major challenge and bought fourteen frigates and a minesweeper for scrapping. Salvage from these ships provided hard to find items for years.


As demand grew beyond surplus, Morris started carrying regular hardware lines. By 1971, the scrap business was at an end as our retail success grew. At that time, Morris was succeeded by his son, Ronald Greene.



#18 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 06:03 PM

The Dutch Bakery was founded in 1956 by Kees Schaddelee, who moved here with his family from the Netherlands. Many of his original recipes are still on the menu.




#19 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 06:05 PM

Proudly serving Victoria and the surrounding area since 1912, Sands Funeral Chapel Victoria will help you customize your arrangements, while respecting your faith, taste and budget. You can feel confident putting your trust in our compassionate professionals.




#20 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 06:07 PM

Established in 1960 by the Jawl family, Home Lumber and Building Supplies is one of Vancouver Island's oldest suppliers of lumber and building materials. A family owned and operated business, Home Lumber is dedicated to providing superior quality materials, outstanding service and competitive prices. We pride ourselves on being a conveniently located, fully stocked lumber yard. 



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