The Streets of Chilliwack – Part 2

As promised, here is part two – on the streets where we live!

Jonathan Reece was born in Ontario in 1831 and as a young man in his twenties headed west. Hearing word of a gold strike in California, he made California his first stop before landing in Victoria. There he purchased a dug-out canoe (with gold dust!) packed it with provisions and paddled through the waterways – the mouth of the Fraser River was his destination. From there Reece continued his journey up the river towards the Fraser canyon, where another gold discovery had been made.

During 1859 Jonathan opened a butcher shop in Fort Hope to supply the throngs of men who had flocked to the area searching for their fortune in gold. Being an entrepreneur, Reece purchased his own herd of cattle to supply fresh meat to the butcher shop. The fertile land of the Chilliwack area provided perfect grazing pasture for his cattle and in 1861 Jonathan Reece pre-empted 270 acres of provincial crown land in Chilliwack, the first pre-emption of crown land in B.C. For clarification, land pre-emption is described as the act of acquiring provincial crown land by claiming it for settlement and agricultural purposes. Pre-empted land was meant to be used for cultivating crops. This process of claiming land in B.C. occurred from the 1850’s until 1970.

Once steamboats were able to navigate the waters of the Fraser River all the way to Yale, Jonathan re-located his butcher shop to the Fraser Canyon town in 1862. Several years later in 1869, Mr. Reece sold his butcher shop in Yale and moved to Chilliwack.

P7 Johnathon Reese

Jonathan Reece has the distinction of several firsts. He was:

1. The first settler to pre-empt provincial crown land in the province.
2. The first president of the Agricultural Association in 1873 (originally held in his barn)
3. Together with his cousin Isaac Kipp, they were the first to register cattle brands in B.C. Cattle belonging to Reece were branded appropriately with “JR”.

Jonathan Reece passed away in 1904 at the age of 73.


Chainsaw Art Draws Visits to Hope

  Pete Ryan at work

Driving through the town of Hope recently I noticed a group of tourists (presumably) with their cameras pointed at one of the many chainsaw carvings scattered through this town of just over 6000 residents. Ranging from totem poles to life-like examples of local wildlife the carvings depict bears, cougars, mountain sheep, eagles and a fox family, to name just a few examples. Many of the art pieces are located in Memorial Park downtown but his 30 or so carvings have also migrated to other locations throughout the small, friendly town.

Hope is “on the map” so to speak, in terms of chainsaw art with resident carver Pete Ryan at the centre of this form of art. Pete has been perfecting his log carving craft for over thirty years. Formally educated at The Minneapolis School of Art, Pete makes his home in Hope, B.C. where he also has a retail gallery and is fortunate to make a living plying his woodcarving craft.

Hope is located in the most eastern part of the Fraser Valley, about 30 minutes by car from Chilliwack via Hwy 1, where the Fraser and Coquihalla rivers meet. Be sure to plan a stop in Hope, on your way to or from Chilliwack, to take in the stunning mountain vistas, rushing rivers, large stands of cedar trees and Pete Ryan’s chainsaw carvings.

If a trip to Hope is not in your immediate plans, this you-tube video of Hope’s chainsaw carvings will give you a peek into Pete’s work.


Antique Doorknobs at the Royal Hotel

Royal M 39.2013

antique door knobs grace many of our doors at the Royal Hotel Chilliwack

Door knobs have been in the news lately – yes doorknobs. The City of Vancouver – the only city in Canada with its own building code – has decided “universal design” will take precedent over aesthetics and starting in March 2014 has banned door knobs in all new construction in favor of lever-style handles. For clarification, the Centre for Universal Design defines universal design as “the design of products and environments to be useable by all people….without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

For a bit of background, Vancouver City Hall was designed by the architectural firm Townley and Matheson (they also designed many movie theatres; the Paramount Theatre in Chilliwack was one example) and built in 1936. The original brass monogramed door knobs were part of the overall design and aesthetics of the art-deco inspired building. These original knobs that adorned city hall doors for 77 years have already been removed.

To take a peek at the history of the door knob I consulted the Schlage website. The Schlage Company has been in the door knob and lock business since 1920 and according to their website wooden doors and handles first appeared approximately 5000 years ago. Here is a link to their website for a more in-depth look at door knobs.

I wonder how many phone calls the City of Vancouver has received from door knob collectors looking to add these unique art-deco era knobs to their collection? Perhaps the knobs will be displayed at the next convention of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America to be held in Austin Texas July 23 to 26, 2014. In the event you wish to learn more about the group – here is the link.

At the Royal Hotel in downtown Chilliwack, you will still find original door knobs installed over one hundred years ago when the hotel was built in 1908. In fact, some of the locks are still opened with original skeleton keys. If you are looking for a unique place to stay full of local history and architectural features (like doorknobs and claw-foot bath tubs) the Royal Hotel in historic downtown Chilliwack certainly fits the bill.

Royal M 34.2013

The Streets of Chilliwack

Ever stopped to think of the origin of street names in Chilliwack? I pondered this recently as I gave directions to a hotel guest. Sure, every city or town has a Main Street or streets named for indigenous trees like Maple Street or their proximity to water such as Ocean or Lakeshore Drive. But what can be said about “Kipp” or “Reece” Avenue or “Ashwell” Road? Lots, actually.

This is the first in a series of where did that name come from? A brief history on street names in Chilliwack and why they matter.

Kipp Avenue was named after a prominent pioneer family led by Isaac Kipp. Isaac was born in Ontario on November 1, 1839 and with the lure of gold, headed west in 1858. First stop for Isaac was California, where thousands of men overwhelmed the area searching for their fortune. Hearing word of a gold discovery north of the US border, Isaac packed up his belongings and headed north to the wilds of Yale, joining his cousin, Jonathon Reece in the quest for gold. Jonathon Reece ran a butcher shop in Yale but kept his cattle in the Chilliwack area. Isaac acquired land and settled in Chilliwack in 1862. His wife to be, Mary Ann Nelmes, arrived from Ontario in 1865. Isaac and Mary Ann were married March 22, 1865 in New Westminster and would have ten children. Mary Ann was the first white woman in Chilliwack and also served as nurse and midwife for many years. Isaac Kipp died May 17, 1921. Mary Ann passed away in 1931.

2002.37.22 Isaac Kipp Isaac Kipp

2002.37.100 Kipp Home

Kipp retirement home on Wellington (still standing) near corner of Wellington and Corbould


P720 Isaac/ Mary Anne Kipp Hse

Kipp family home on Hodgins (now home to the Chilliwack Hospice Society)

Lasting Legacy of BC Architect in Chilliwack

P736 John Henry Ashwell House

In Chilliwack we are fortunate to have a lasting legacy of the architect Samuel Maclure in the Ashwell House, located at 46029 Victoria Avenue. Designed by Maclure and Richard Sharpe, his architectural partner at the time, the residence was designed and completed in 1891/1892 for John Henry Ashwell, former Sardis postmaster and mayor of Chilliwack from 1917-1922. But who was Samuel Maclure?

Although there remains some dispute, Samuel Maclure was often referred to as the first white male child born in New Westminster on April 11, 1860. His parents, John and Martha had arrived separately from England via sailing ships, with John arriving a month before his wife. John Maclure was a surveyor and member of the Royal Engineers who were tasked with the job of creating infrastructures and keeping law and order in the colony. The area was inundated with around 30,000 gold-seeking men descending upon what would become British Columbia.

The Maclure family would end up settling in Matsqui in 1868 where John would become a telegraph operator. While the entire Maclure family would work at the telegraph office, Samuel did not see a future in this profession and after a stint working as an operator in Vancouver and New Westminster gave up his position to attend art school in Philadelphia. There he studied not only art but engineering, plumbing and wood and metal work. It was at art school where he honed his mechanical and architectural drawing skills.

After Samuel’s marriage in 1889 and his honeymoon spent canoeing in the Chilliwack area, Samuel set up his architect practice in New Westminster then Victoria and embarked on a long, prolific career – often partnering with others architects. His firm was commissioned to design mainly homes and cottages- Maclure designed very few public buildings comparatively speaking.

According to Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson (in the forward of Janet Bingham’s 1985 book, Samuel Maclure Architect) Samuel Maclure “was probably the most gifted of early B.C.’s architects”. If you are not familiar with the work of the architect, you need not look afar.
His work was prolific in Vancouver and Victoria (where he moved with his family in 1892) and is noted for the craftsmanship often incorporated into his designs such as stained glass windows, built-in-china cabinets, bookcases and window seats and detailed woodwork and stonework. In addition, Samuel Maclure’s abilities included landscape design, a skill he utilized in some of his commissions. He provided landscape advice to the Butchart family in Victoria as the family developed a former lime quarry into the fantastic gardens they are today. According to the research completed by Janet Bingham in her book about the architect, no two home designs were alike. Maclure also took great care to ensure each home was situated to take in the views and attributes of the property and surrounding environs.

Here are just a few examples of Maclure’s work in Vancouver, Victoria and Burnaby.

Hatley Castle – Victoria. Now home to Royal Roads University.

Miraloma – Sydney. Built for a former Lt. Governor (1920-1926) this beautiful home is now home to the Latch Inn & Restaurant.

Gabriola – Vancouver. Located on Davie Street and built for the Rogers Sugar family, the stately home has seen several incarnations from the Hy’s Mansion to the Macaroni Grill. Currently unoccupied with an unknown future.Gabriola

Cecil Green House at UBC – Originally called “Kanakla”, native for “House on the Hill” the grand mansion was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Green in 1967 and generously donated to the University of British Columbia, along with funds for restoration.

Overlynn – McGill Street, Burnaby. The mansion is part of Seton Villa, a seniors centre complex.

If you are interested in learning more about the architect, I recommend the book written by Janet Bingham titled “Samuel Maclure, Architect”, written in 1985.
The University of Victoria also has many of Maclure’s drawings and architectural plans on file. The inventory is online here: