A Connection To Nanaimo, V.I.

In June 1902, the Vancouver City authorities published a long list of the lots on which property taxes had not been paid (see, for example, “Vancouver Daily World,” June 11, p.18).  This list included the names of the last-known owner of each lot, making it a highly useful set of dta for the GV Database.

While working on this list, I noticed that one company — McBain & Hardy — were listed for a significant number of the lots (more than 50). I decided to map the M & H lots to see if there was any pattern to their purchases. I also looked up the company, without much success in Vancouver. However, I did notice that George A. McBain took trips to an from Vancouver Island and so I started looking there, eventually finding them in Nanaimo.

I had also noticed that John D. Foreman was the next most prolific owner in the lists and, sure enough, he too was based in Nanaimo. More research revealed at least another half dozen listings for Nanaimo-based owners.

1902 Nanaimo Connection

Two other matters come to mind. First, virtually all of these Nanaimo-based purchases are contained within Blocks 146, 147, and 148, from Commercial Drive to Garden Drive and from Third to Sixth Avenue (McBain & Hardy also owned a half-dozen lots in Block 136 from the Copp estate). Moreover agents George McBain, Charles Hardy and John D. Foreman all flourished in the early years of the 1890s and essentially disappear thereafter.

My preliminary conclusion therefore is that, during the 1891-1892 speculation period [see Birth of a Community, Part 2), Vancouver land interests sent these blocks to a Nanaimo broker (possibly McBain and Hardy) who then sold them on locally. There was, as we know, no land rush for settlement and these lots were left idle until the accumulated property taxes became too burdensome.