Gassy Jack Deighton’s letter home – June 28, 1870
Gassy Jack Deighton’s letter home – June 28, 1870

[caption id="attachment_2988" align="alignnone" width="860"] John "Gassy Jack" Deighton[/caption] This letter, written by "Gassy Jack" Deighton in June of 1870 to his brother Tom in England, was acquired by Vancouver businessman H. R. MacMillan and given to the City of Vancouver on December 23, 1948. A typewritten transcript and photocopy is found in the City of Vancouver Archives [COVA  AM648] ; the original is kept in a safe. This transcript was made in July of 2018 by Transcribimus volunteer Tegbir Kaur facebook | instagram copy of original document here Page 1. Granville, Burrard Inlet-B.C. June 28. 1870 Dear Brother You may imagine my surprise when I got your letter not having one so long. You see by the head of this letter where I live has got a name it has been laid out has a town site since I wrote home last. I was the first settler here three years ago I have purchased the largest and it proves by luck to be the best but I can assure you it was a loansome place when I came dhere first surrounded by Indians I dare not look out doors after dark there was a friend of mine about a mile distant found with his head cut in two the Indian was caught and hung this place is a lumber country we have two saw mills here but only one is running at present owing to the Lumber Market being low but both Mills will run shortly. I have done well since I came here, Tom, and I have seen hard times too. I find a man has few friends when he is sick and no means. I was three years and a half sick and most of the time on crutches and four months in my bed. I run in debt two thousand dollars and business in New Westminster fell off so I Could not make a living I started with all my traps and six dollars and me sick came to this place I was here one year and a half before anyone found out I was making money finally it was found out and then a rush. Hotels Saloons Stores etc. Everybody was going to make a pile and run me out but they did not succeed for I have done the most of the business all the time I have got a good house and garden plenty of chickens and have an Indian boy to cook. I paid all my debts do not owe a cent and have a little cash besides. Johnson wrote me and said he was surprised that Bill Maltby should owe me money. Why Tom,he is a useless thing he came to Cala broke and remained so all the time and I supposed he was man enough to pay me when he went home if he had me a prsent of something even the value of a dollar. But no he has never wrote me since he left here. Tom, I was sorry

Emily Patterson’s midnight canoe journey – autumn of 1883
Emily Patterson’s midnight canoe journey – autumn of 1883

Vancouver author Lisa Anne Smith suggested we ask the Transcribimus community to take on this four-page letter about Vancouver pioneer nurse Emily Patterson. The letter was written in 1935 by Emily's granddaughter, Mrs. Crackanthorpe, to Major Matthews, Vancouver's first archivist. Emily set out during a dangerous gale in the autumn 1883 to save the life of Mrs. Erwin, wife of the Point Atkinson lighthouse keeper. Lisa Anne discovered this letter while doing research for her latest book, Emily Patterson: the Heroic Life of a Milltown Nurse. original handwritten letter here Transcription made in March of 2018 by Transcribimus volunteer Mary Ann Capistrano and Cathy Harmer Nov. 23rd 1935 Dear Major Matthews, We received your letter this morning and will try to give you as much information as possible regarding my grandmother's trip to Point Atkinson. Mother does not remember the names of the Indians who took her down, but they were from the Indian Ranch at Moodyville then located where the elevator is now. I will tell you the story exactly as Mother and my uncle know it and you can condense it to suit yourself. They are both here now prompting me. Shortly after five o'clock on a stormy day in the late Fall of 1883, two Indians came to the door with a note from Mr. Walter -2- Erwin asking my Grandmother to come as soon as possible as Mrs. Erwin was dangerously ill and in great need of help. Grandmother rushed upstairs and got her things together and went down to the Indian ranch, (the Masters of Etta White and Leonora having refused to put out) and the Indians put her in a canoe with blankets and put out. Two Indians went with her. Some begged her not to go as by this time a regular gale was blowing but she knew nothing of fear. They made it as far as "Skunk Cove" now Caulfields, but couldn't reach Pt. Atkinson as the gale was now terrible just there so they had to tromp from there, the distance being about a mile, to the lighthouse, through thick forest and rough hills. There was a very small path but all this took place after dark and it was very black. One Indian went ahead of her and one behind -3- her and they made it to Pt Atkinson lighthouse after four hours from the time they left Moodyville now the worse for their trip. When she arrived, Mr. Erwin shouted, "I knew you'd come, I knee you'd come. Mrs. Erwin scarcely knew her. That is the story, Major Matthews absolutely correct. We think that the Indians who brought the note must have been coming in point Atkinson and Mr. Erwin hailed them. You see it would be much easier and the storm would not have been so hard or probably may not have even started. Another thing too, all of this took place after dark which made the trip more dangerous. Some did not believe that Mr. Erwin had

Petition to incorporate the City of Vancouver – February 15, 1886

In February of 1886, a number of residents of the town of Granville sent a petition to the B.C. Legislative Assembly to incorporate the City of Vancouver. In 1944, the Attorney-General of BC returned the original document to the City of Vancouver.  This copy was made from COVA reference number COV-S27. copy of original petition here This letter was transcribed in May and June of 2018 by Transcribimus volunteers Gent Ng and Gerald Soon Petition for Bill to Incorporate the “City of Vancouver” Presented 15/2/86 Robson [next page] To The Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia The Petition of the residents of Vancouver in the District of New Westminster Humbly Sheweth That the present village of Granville with its vicinity has been chosen by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as the terminus of their Railway, and in consequence thereof the said Village is now daily increasing, and is likely to increase very largely in population, in the immediate future That in view of the large increase in said population, it is necessary and expedient that the building of the roads, streets and bridges, and other improvements of a like nature should be provided for Your petitioners further shew that the said Railway Company are about setting the contract for constructing their line of Railway from Port Moody to said Village of Granville and are about constructing large wharves and other buildings and improvements in said Village of Granville and in the immediate vicinity which said construction and improvements will give employment to many hundreds of men, and for the reasons aforesaid, and for the better preservation of law and order your petitioners are desirous of obtaining a charter incorporating the said village of Granville and its immediate vicinity, a city under [next page] the name of “The City of Vancouver.” Your Petitioners therefore pray. . That your Honorable House may be pleased to pass an Act incorporating the said City of Vancouver in accordance with the desire of Your Petitioners. And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. Richard Alexander Chas A. Coldwell L. A. Hamilton Edward E. Rand Jos Mannion Thos F. McGuigan Alex Johnstone F. F. Kingdon J. Miller D A Ferguson A W King Frank. A. Nicholson S Brighouse J. W. Sullivan M. A. Mac Lean James Hamilton Walter J. Graveley Donald M Naughton J. J. Blake Robert Thomas Jno Leask D. L. Beckingsale John Boultbee Thos Haggart Jones Mc Allister Samuel Pearse T. C. Innes C Russell E. E. Barker J D Jarvis F. D. Boucher A K Coughtrey S. S. Tilley Colin Rankin J Rooney Pet. Larson John Hay G Blackstone Cy Arkell John M Haywood W. J. McGuigan M. D. Allan Mc Pherson C M Johnston [next page] Thomas Wilson R McDonald W. Irvine J G Nicolson J. Pitt T H Morris D. Caldon A. Wilson H. L. Freese J. Ross Hemsley Lewis L R Arthur W U Macdonald J. D. Kavanagh J. A. Livingston Robert Tassyeth G. Finney J.

Rev. H.G. Fiennes-Clinton’s letter home – April 3, 1886
Rev. H.G. Fiennes-Clinton’s letter home – April 3, 1886

Rev. H.G. Fiennes-Clinton was one of the first clergy of St. James' Church in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.  On April 3, 1886, he wrote a letter to his sister-in-law "Lucilla", otherwise Mrs. Clement Fiennes-Clinton, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, England, telling her about his life in "Vancouver," as it was soon to be called. Vancouver author Lisa Anne Smith first suggested we ask the Transcribimus community to transcribe Father Clinton's letter. Lisa Anne discovered it while doing research for her latest book, Emily Patterson: the Heroic Life of a Milltown Nurse. Transcribimus volunteers Anonymous and Brenda Chapman have transcribed this letter below. original handwritten document here CITY ARCHIVES VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA Add. MSS. No. 192 1. Vancouver City British Columbia April 3, 1886 My dear Lucilla I got your letter all right yesterday, thank you for it. I left New Westminster about the middle of December to take up my abode among the people of Granville, whom I have been working all along, but used to come over for the Sundays. Lately we have changed our name from the pleasing one of Granville, for the bombastic swaggering title of Vancouver_ It is called this because it is to be the terminus of the great Canadian Pacific Railway and the C.P.R. are so fond of high sounding names, that Granville did not suit them & so they changed it to another which will create much confusion as there is besides Vancouver Island, two other places in the States, one quite near, also called Vancouver. However all the swagger in the world will 2. not build houses, and if they don't mend soon they will have the place a city of shanties, without water, roads or drains_ Drains there are none whatever that does not matter as no one ever gets ill here, so the 4 poor M doctors say._ The roads are quite impassable from the mud holes till this week when a bit of glorious weather has improved matters, though still leaving some awful mudholes, so bad that even a short legged man on horseback can hardly keep his feet out of the mud._ Some new ways they have been making are worse as they cross boggy land and therefore there is no bottom at all to the ways, and if you can once get fairly stuck you might reckon on taking forthwith a journey to the centre of the earth._The water here that folk drink (when they do drink water) is all surface water, in other words drainage, but still the 3. doctors all four of them are in despair & in bitter disappointment cry out in chorus "no typhoid yet." There are however 2 good wells in the place and I know where to find one of them: & make a daily pilgrimage with a bucket & rope._ I live in a little house all to myself, and generally get my meals out, though lately I have been boiling my own coffee for breakfast and am my own

Mrs. B.T. Rogers reminiscences – 1885-1886
Belle Rogers as a young girl, City of Vancouver Archives AM1592-1-S2-F08-: 2011-092.3801

In the City of Vancouver Archives we found these reminiscences, written by Mrs. B.T. Rogers (born Mary Isabelle Angus) at age 85. She shares her memories of Vancouver seventy years prior, when she visited as a sixteen year old girl.  She saw Vancouver not long before the Great Fire of June 1886, was a passenger on the first CPR train to arrive in Vancouver, and much more. These pages were transcribed by Transcribimus volunteers Siobhan Devlin and Jenn Ashton in 2018. original handwritten pages here Reminiscences Reading about the early discoveries made me think of my first visit to Burrard Inlet, when in February 1886 we came from Victoria to see the site of the proposed Pacific Terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There was no Vancouver then on the Inlet, only a little settlement round the Hastings Saw Mill, a few shacks, considerable clearing, and on the North Shore of the Inlet, the Moodyville Saw Mill. My father, mother, and I had reached Victoria only a few weeks earlier. We had left England in July, 1885 crossed the Atlantic in the Allan liner Peruvian, stayed in Montreal with Uncle Richard's family while my father visited several places before deciding where to settle. He finally crossed the continent, part of the trip being on horse back, riding in company with Mr. A. W. Ross M.P. of Winnipeg, through the Kicking Horse Pass, over the uncompleted railway track through the Rockies. He decided on Victoria -2- for our future home, & returned to Montreal for my mother & me. Then we set out by C.P.R. as far as Winnipeg, from where we went to the States to spend Christmas with the Rennys on their Minnesota farm, & to visit Uncle Sandy & family in Fergus Falls. Then on to Chicago, & by Union Pacific to San Fransisco, where we boarded the Steamer Umatilla for Victoria; we stayed first at the Driard Hotel, then took a small house off Menzies Street, on Simcoe St. We lost no time in making the journey to the mainland to see the proposed townsite. It was an overnight trip to Burrard Inlet, so we slept comfortably on the S.S. “Princess Louise”. Spent the day exploring the site which was covered with huge felled trees; there was no means of transport, so all this fine timber was burned where it lay on the ground, & the air was thick with its smoke. We clambered over fallen logs, in company with JW. Thos. Sorby, the architect, to the where the C.P.R. was planning to build their hotel. -3- After a tiring smoky day, we returned to Victoria again, sleeping all night on the boat. I remember well the fight in the Legislature over the change of name, when Sir Wm van Horne insisted on Granville becoming Vancouver, against the strenuous objections of Vancouver Island. That was in April 1886, & on June 13th 1886 came the fire. On July 4th, 1886, we again visited the Inlet, this time

Vancouver Chinese Merchants’ Exchange letter to Thomas Tracy – 1896
Vancouver Chinese Merchants’ Exchange letter to Thomas Tracy – 1896

On September 14, 1896, Imperial Statesman Li Hung Chung visited Vancouver. The Vancouver Chinese Merchants' Exchange asked the City Engineer, Col. Thomas Tracy to design a triumphal arch for the occasion, and sent him this letter of thanks for his design [Vancouver City Archives Reference Code: AM960]. One page of the letter was in Chinese, one page was in English.  You can read our volunteers' transcriptions of these letters (and comments on the Chinese writing) below the original images. original handwritten letters here English page: transcribed by Gent Ng, L. Ellema, and Chris Stepehenson To Col. Tracy, Dear Sir: Will you be pleased to accept the accompanying pair of flower vases as an expression of our gratitude to you for the excellent manner in which you so kindly designed our arch on the occasion of the visit of His Excellency Li Hung Chang. Very respectfully presented By The Chinese Merchants Exchange Chinese page: transcribed, translated, and with commentary by Anonymous Translator's note: The original Chinese text is written by one that was equivalent to a semi-literate individual, lacking formal education as reflected by the socio-economic conditions of the Chinese migrants of the times. The use of certain Chinese words and/or grammar of the times was incorrect. Transcription: 迎李中堂大人衆蒙Col. Tracy地利仕大人繪龍門一座畫得十分流麗故聊贈與花蹲一對仰祈笑納 上 地利仕大人 喜納 中華會館敬送 --English direct transliteration to follow-- (To) welcome (His Excellency) Chung-tong Li, Official, our request to (Col.) Tracy, Official, to draft a Dragon's Gate was very fluently received; and (which we) would like to gift a pair of flower vases in hopes of (Col. Tracy's) satisfaction. offered (For) Official Tracy's joyful satisfaction Chinese Hall (present day Chinese Benevolent Association) respectfully sends The finished arch was built on the CPR wharf to welcome His Excellency Li Hung Chung. Here is a picture of the finished arch (Vancouver Archives reference code AM54-S4-: SGN 1081)

Alf Pilkington’s letter to New Zealand – July 8, 1906
Alf Pilkington, City of Vancouver Archives AM54-S4-: Port P668

City Hall, 425 Westminster Ave. COVA reference no AM54-S4- City P47 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. A. J. Pilkington letter (photocopy)see or download Sixth Avenue East, Mount Pleasant, From A. J. Pilkington Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 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

A Vancouver child’s letter to grandma – October 18, 1909
A Vancouver child’s letter to grandma – October 18, 1909

This Vancouver child of 1909's letter is kept in the City of Vancouver Archives, [Reference AM336-S2] indexed as "letter from unidentified child". Assigned to write a letter during school hours, the child apparently took a break mid-sentence from writing to grandma and turned over the page to draw "robers and cowboys." This letter was transcribed by Transcribimus volunteers Leesa and L. Ellema.  Their transcription is below the original handwriting and drawing. original handwritten minutes here Dear Grandma :- I received your welcome letter. Glad to hear that you are well, I am going to school and in the third Reader, we are all well, I am writing this letter in school. This is a fine city I only wish you were here we have street cars running all over the city. It is all lit up at night there is a bit light on every corner, some of the biggest ships come here from all parts of the world, we have a building here 16 stories high, we got a lot of chicken's and we get 5 eggs a day. I am working at a grocery store.