Alf Pilkington and family fled the San Francisco earthquake and great fire of April 8, 1906. By July 8, Alf has re-settled in Vancouver as the city accountant, and writes to his uncle in New Zealand, giving a picture of his life and work here.
This transcript has been made from a photocopy of the original document, which had been damaged.
Sixth Avenue East,
From A. J. Pilkington Vancouver, B.C.,
8th July 1906.
Dear Uncle James.
Since my last to you in which I described how we had been burnt
out or shaken out in San Francisco, I am sure you would be feeling
anxious to know how I have been getting on, so am writing to let you
know that I have settled down here. I just managed to catch last mail
with a letter to Ernest telling him that I had made a start here, but
I know you would sooner hear direct. The position I have secured is
that of Accountant to the “City of Vancouver” at what they would call
in Auckland the “City Council”. It is a good billet with a good salary,
and plenty of chances of advancement, especially as the City is growing
very fast. The population at present is between 50,000 and 60,000,
not quite as big as Auckland, but at present rate of progress there
should be 100,000 inhabitants in four or five years. I made a start
on the 17th May, seven weeks ago, and have got a solid grip of everything
now, and find the position first class. Office hours are 9 to 5, with
an hour and a quarter for lunch, 12 to 1:15, and as we are living within
10 minutes tram ride from the City Hall, I have plenty of time at home,
far more than in Sydney. Also I have a free pass on all the City tram
lines, so can get around without any trouble or expenses. We have
been fortunate enough to rent a nice little house of seven rooms, with
electric light, hot water fittings, etc., and a lawn for Frankie to
play in, so I reckon that we have been very lucky, considering that houses
are very scarce here for renting.
As far as I can see there is very little agriculture this side
of the Rocky Mountains, but I have not had any chances yet of getting
out of the town. Certainly there is no farming in sight of Vancouver,
and will not be until the heavy bush is cleared. When I learn the
country a little more I will write to you more fully about the country.
It is summer here now, and the weather is very much like Auckland summer
without any wind. In winter I am told it rains oceans, six months
without a stop – in fact the older residents are said to be web footed.
Got a severe nervous shock from the earthquake
and has not recovered yet, but Frankie and I are both first class. We are
expecting a letter from you soon, and I will then write again. We
hope everybody is well, and that Nelson is quite better. The photos
from Harold have not yet arrived – we are expecting them any time now.
Did I mention that your photo was in the Gladstone Bag that we saved
from the fire? Hoping to hear from you very soon.
I remain, with love to all,