Fathers and Sons

Businessmen, Craftsmen, Entrepreneurs, Farmers, Soldiers, and Community Leaders. Here are brief accounts of six families; Alexander, Carter, Pierre, Smith, Spotts, and Wood.

Charles Alexander and three of his eight sons – Thomas, Charles, and Fred

Charles and Nancy Alexander arrived in the British Colony of Vancouver Island in July 1858 with 2 children. The family settled in the farming community of Saanich, building a profitable farming enterprise. Their family grew to 12, which included 8 sons, James, Thomas, Charles Jr., William, Fred, Henry, Edward, George, and John. Charles was also a skilled carpenter. He and Nancy rallied their community to build a school and church. Charles was one of the school trustees and a lay preacher at the church.

Sepia toned photo, man in senior years sitting in a chair with a cane leaning against his leg. In the background is a house and ivy hedge
Charles Alexander. Image M01016 Courtesy of City of Victoria Archives
B&W portrait, man in suit seated beside coffee table, legs crossed, holding his hat and walking stick
Thomas Alexander. Image A-09460 Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives

Thomas is the 2nd son, 4th child. He was born in Victoria in 1859. On February 2, 1887, at the age of 27 he married Corinthea Pierre, daughter of Thomas Whiting Pierre. His occupation at the time was Expressman.
Charles Jr, the third son, worked as a Teamster. On December 1, 1892 he married Ada Barnswell, a daughter of another noted and respected pioneering family.
Fred, the fifth son born in 1867, worked as a carpenter and as a tally-ho driver, one of the first in Victoria. He also worked as a hack driver at night. He too married a Barnswell daughter, Mary Louisa. In 1980, Alexander Park on Bay Street in Victoria was dedicated in honour of Fred and Mary Louisa.

Paris Carter and son George

Paris Carter was born in Kentucky on January 1, 1820.

When he came to Victoria he advertised as a rent and debt collector and also made a profitable livelihood as a real estate agent. He was also captain with the volunteer Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps. In Paris’s obituary in the Times Colonist, it says he was survived by three sons John William living in Seattle, George Paris and Anthony Oswald in Victoria.

Advertisement in Colonist by Paris Carter, General Agent, Collector of Rents and Debts

On April 11, 1930, p. 23, the Times Colonist published an article about George. “Coloured Pioneer is 70 Years of Age”. When George was born in 1860, the family home was on Fort Street. George had a varied career and ventured into a number of occupations including plasterer, shoemaker, and express driver. In 1902 George began work as a watchman for the Blue Funnel Line and the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line – “George is well known and esteemed along the waterfront.” In 1930, retired, his home was on St. Lawrence Street in James Bay. George died Feb 2, 1934 and is buried at the Royal Oak Cemetery. George was survived by two sons and a daughter.

senior man standing with arms at side in suit and hat
gray granite tablet military grave marker on base, set in grassy area with flowers blossoming

On Wednesday, November 11, 2020 a new grave marker for Captain Paris Carter [1820-1890], and his wife Mary was unveiled at the Ross Bay Cemetery. Image courtesy of BC Black History Awareness Society

Thomas Pierre and sons John, Joseph, and Samuel

One of the first business families in Victoria was the Pierre family. Thomas Whiting Pierre started the tailoring business in 1858 as T.W. Pierre, Taylor and Dyer. The business was on Yates Street.

B&W professional studio portrait of middle-aged man, seated, dark hair and trimmed dark beard, wearing formal suit.

His sons were born in Victoria, John Thomas on, April 16, 1865, Joseph Robert on September 16, 1869 and Samuel Deal on March 15, 1871.

In 1892 John is 27 and he posts a notice in the Times Colonist announcing the legal partnership between him and his father; operating the business as “JOHN T & T.W. PIERRE” at 100 Douglas Street. It’s John we see in the photo below.

Image: Thomas Whiting Pierre. M01021 Courtesy of City of Victoria Archives.

B&W photo, large shop with several tables with many folded bolts of fabric on them. There is a counter at the rear of the room with a man standing behind it, slightly stooped, working with fabric
Son, John Thomas in his tailor shop. Behind the partition are 2 workers that seem to be working at sewing machines. Image a-09462 Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives.

His two other sons, Joseph and Samuel (image on the left), also became tailors and had a business PIERRE BROS in Tacoma Washington. But it seems Joseph fell ill, died on March 27, 1894, age 24. He is buried in the family plot at Ross Bay Cemetery. 

John Thomas operates his tailoring business in Victoria until about 1900 and then moves to Nelson, where he opens and operates another business until the end of 1936. He returned to Victoria because of failing health – he died in April 1938.

Samuel died on November 21, 1940, age 69 and is buried Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, USA.

Image: Samuel Deal Pierre M01019 Courtesy of City of Victoria Archives.

B&W photo, man with moustache, seated, wearing fedora-style white hat and formal white suit, tie

Moses Rowe Smith and sons Hamilton and Garrett

The Smith family operated businesses in Victoria for an estimated 7 to 8 decades. While the majority of the first Black incomers were from the US, the Smith family were from Ontario. Moses Rowe Smith arrived in BC in 1859 and headed to the Cariboo gold fields, then settled in Victoria. His wife Sarah Anne and daughter Selina Frances arrived in 1866. In Victoria, they had 2 more children, sons, Hamilton born on February 22, 1867 and Garrett born on September 25, 1869.

sepia-toned photo of storefront, three men in suits in the foreground, middle man has a dog on a leash.

Smith started with a biscuit factory on Niagara Street in James Bay, Victoria. He proclaimed it was the largest north of Portland. He had contracts to supply the navy; as well, he was listed as a bread, biscuit and fancy cake maker in the 1869 edition of the First Victoria Directory.

The first bakery sales business was near Waddington Alley, then on Yates Street.

In about 1870 he is at this location at 57 Fort Street. Moses is pictured far right in front of his “Victoria Bakery”. This photo is in a file “Hamilton Smith Photographs – M.R. Smith employees”. Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives

Tragedy struck the business in September 1909 when the Niagara Street biscuit factory was destroyed by fire. Following this, the sons wound up the M.R. Smith & Co., Limited but carried on their own businesses. A Victoria Historical Society Publication, Number 28, Summer 2011 explains – Garrett acted as the liquidator and then opened the Garrett Smith Candy company. Hamilton incorporated the H. Smith Biscuit Co. Ltd., in January 1910, with Garrett as a partner and company secretary.

Fielding Spotts and son Fielding William

Fielding initially pre-empted land on Salt Spring Island, then settled in Saanich, a rural community north of Victoria. In 1860 Fielding was joined by his wife Julia, their oldest child Charles and 2-year-old Fielding William Jr. The family acquired 98 acres of land sometime before 1865. In 1883 he pre-empted 50 acres immediately west of his main holding. He was a cooper and farmer. He served as a school trustee. He is perhaps the first recognized Baptist to arrive in Western Canada.

Image F-00651 Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives

senior man seated facing camera holding what is likely a bible with two hands at his lap

B&W portrait, middle-aged man wearing casual suit, buttoned-up shirt, western-style straw hat
Fielding William Jr. Image A-02475 Courtesy of Royal BC Museum and Archives
Black History Month Commemorative Stamp
In 1902, Fielding William Jr. moved to Vancouver and owned a business in Hogan’s Alley until his death in 1937 at age 79. 

On January 30, 2014 Canada Post issued the Canadian Black Heritage Stamp, honouring the Hogan’s Alley Community. 

Pictured with Fielding William Jr. is Nora Hendrix.  In 1918 she was tenacious enough to spur the community to raise funds to purchase a building that would become the African Episcopal Fountain Chapel; and yes she is the grandmother of famed musician Jimi Hendrix.

Robert Wood and sons James and Robert

Robert Wood was born on Salt Spring Island in 1893. He is the 4th generation of the Gwynne family who were originally from Missouri. He married Emily Whims on December 28, 1913. They had 6 children, the 4th and 5th children were sons, James (“Jim”) Robert born on April 27,1921 and Robert (“Bob Jr.”) Arthur born on February 3,1926. Robert Sr. managed a farm for the Mouat’s Trading Co. on Tripp Road for many years. When WWII started, Robert was too old to enlist, so he wore the uniform of the Gulf Island Rangers/Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, formed to guard the Pacific coast. James did enlist for World War II, but unfortunately became ill with tuberculosis while training in Victoria and ended up being hospitalized in Esquimalt. James returned to SSI and continued to help his father at the farm; then he and his brother Robert owned and operated Wood Brothers Trucking.

b&w middle aged man standing in military uniform
Robert Wood. Image 2004032034 Courtesy of Salt Spring Island Archives
b&w young man standing hands behind back in military uniform
James “Jim” Wood. Image 2004032033 Courtesy of Salt Spring Island Archives

Links to their full stories:
Charles Alexander
George Carter
The Smith Family
Fielding Spotts