2012 Celebration of 125th Anniversary of Pemberton HolmesRichard Holmes President of Pemberton and Son Ltd. and Michael Holmes President of Pemberton Holmes Ltd, the successor companies of the oldest family owned and operated real estate firm in North America announced last week the gift of all the archival material of the two companies to the Royal British Columbia Museum on the occasion of the companies 125th anniversary.
“We are very pleased to see the BC Museum take custody of this collection,” stated Richard Holmes, “we believe it is the right place and right time for these historical records to be cared for and organized archivally for future generations.”
Don Bourdon and Kathyrn Bridge of the museum who spearheaded the effort to acquire the collection were equally thrilled and commented that the collection was one of the most important business record collection in the museums possession casting light on the earliest days of Victoria’s development as the founding city of British Columbia.
Pemberton Holmes Ltd was founded originally in 1887 as Pemberton and Sons Ltd by J. D. Pemberton, B.C’s first surveyor general. Pemberton arrived by canoe from Seattle in 1851 when Victoria was first settled and over the course of the next decades acquired significant land holdings and business connections.
The firm has continued through 6 generations of ownership to the present day and recently re-emerged as a significant owner of restored heritage properties in Victoria as well as the largest real estate brokerage on Vancouver Island.
I. Joseph Despard Pemberton
Final instructions were issued to him on February 15, 1851 to proceed by Royal Mail Steam Packet leaving South Hampton on the 17th – only two days later – to Chargres, and from there to cross the Ithmus of Panama, and take the first available ship to San Francisco. From San Francisco he was to “proceed either by the monthly mail steamer or by an occasional sailing vessel” to the Columbia River where he would probably arrive at Astoria, and thence find his way “either by mail boat or by canoe” to Fort Vancouver. The Officer in Charge there would provide the means of conveyance to Fort Victoria on Vancouver’s Island. On arrival at Fort Victoria he was to report to “Mr. Chief Factor Douglas”.
II. Pemberton & Son
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.
III. Pemberton Holmes
2. HBC Archives A6/120 Fo. 12-17
IV. Century of public service for Pemberton Holmes
To Phillip Despard Pemberton Holmes, his grandfathers efforts in getting the now world renowned park established best symbolizes the activist role Pemberton Holmes Ltd has played in community affairs since its inception 100 years ago.
I see no reason why Vancouver Island couldn’t be another Switzerland a pleasant place but also busy with high employment, good income and green fields, he said. But you’ve got to farm it right.