Information about Black women is difficult to find. Often Black women are not even mentioned by name, let alone having any other information given about them as individuals.  For example in Pilton’s (op. cit. pp. 208-214) Appendix “Partial list of Coloured immigrants to British Columbia 1858 – 1871″, the majority of female settlers are listed as “and wife”.  As well, books written about women or by women neglect women from minority groups.  This section is brief, indicative of the double bias of race and sex.   We want to especially note Maria Wallace, who at the age of ninety, learned to type so that so she could write the biography of her mother, Sylvia Stark. Brief biographies and sources of information for the following women are included in this section.

Nancy Alexander*Matilda Barnswell AlexanderMary Lowe BarnswellMatilda BoyntonRosemary Brown*Eleanor Collins*
Maria Alexander GibbsRebecca GibbsBarbara Howard*Sarah LesterSarah Jane Douglas MosesRuby Sneed*
Sylvia Estes Stark*Emma Stark*Maria Stark WallaceMyrtle Wallace HollomanJosephine SullivanMalinda Thorne

*Detailed stories about these women can also be viewed in our Learning Centre section – STORIES.



Although Nancy Alexander’s picture appears often, very little information is given about her personally in the sources cited.  She was born a free woman in 1834 in the United States.  She married Charles Alexander in Illinois in 1849 and they moved to Victoria in 1858.  The Alexanders moved to Saanich in 1861 where they lived for thirty-three years until they moved to Lake Hill.  Nancy Alexander was the mother of twelve children.  On December 25, 1899 the Alexanders celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary, an event attended by some of the oldest families – Black and white in the province.  In 1912 at the age of 78 Nancy Alexander died.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. . op.cit. , p. 105

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia. , op.cit. , p. 91.

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing. , op.cit. ,  1st edition pp. 150-151; 2nd edition


Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871. , op.cit. , pp. 65-67.


Colonist, December 15, 1899, p.7

There is a brief announcement about Charles and Nancy’s upcoming golden wedding anniversary on December 25, 1899.

Colonist, December 28, 1899 “Golden Wedding – An Unusual Celebration at Lake Hill on Christmas Day”

This article gives a detailed account of the  Golden Wedding anniversary celebration held at the Alexanders’ home in Lakehill including who attended, the gifts that were presented and the toasts and well wishes for Charles and Nancy.

Colonist, March 23, 1912

Times, March 23, 1912.

These are announcement of Nancy Alexander’s death at the age of 78.  It is noted that she was a “pioneer of this city” (Victoria) and that she was a charter member of the Lakehill Ladies Institute.  The names of her many surviving relatives are reported.

Colonist, December 23, 1962, p. 13.  Magazine Section. “Christmas Dinner for 50¢” by James K. Nesbitt.

In writing this article about past Christmas’, Nesbitt mentions the Alexander’s Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1899.  At that time seven of the twelve Alexander children were alive, and six of them and numerous grandchildren were present.  There is a list of some of the gifts given by the guests who included representatives of the following families: Higgins, Clanton, Spotts, Hayward, Pierre, Shakespeare, Barnswell, Tolmie and Helmcken.

Picture File

There is one picture of Charles and Nancy Alexander.  Information accompanying the picture describes Nancy Alexander as being a midwife.

There is one picture of Lucretia Alexander, daughter of Charles and Nancy.

BCBHAS Story – Charles and Nancy Alexander



Colonist, May 15, 1964, p. 24. “Pioneers’ Daughter Marks 90th Birthday”

It is reported that there was a family gathering to celebrate Mrs. Alexander’s birthday at the CNIB village where she resides.  She is one of the ten children of James and Mary Barnswell and brief information about her background and that of her parents is provided.  The names of her relatives are reported.

Colonist, January 16, 1965. “Daughter of Pioneer Dies Here at 90”.

Times, January 15, 1965, p. 30. “Pioneer’s Funeral on Saturday.”

These are announcements of the death of Matilda Alexander.  It is noted that although she had been blind for the last 35 years, she was the eldest active member of the CNIB at the time of her death.  The names of her surviving relatives are given.

Aural History Tape

Tape #1308-1: 1962 interview with Mrs. Matilda Alexander as she approaches her 88th birthday.

Matilda Alexander reminisces about growing up and living in Victoria.  She talks about her early years as one of ten children “all born on Johnson Street” to James and Mary Barnswell.  Later she married Charles Jacob Alexander.  She relates anecdotes about some of the social events of the Black community, for example, the annual July First “Coloured people’s picnic” and dances and dramas at Patfoot? Hall which was on Quadra Street.  She speaks about Judge M. B. Begbie’s drinking habits, the smallpox epidemic and events in the life of the Alexander family.  In summing up the attitude of whites towards Blacks in Victoria, she says some were “nice”, others were “snooty”.


Born in Puerto Rico in 1853, Mary Lowe was brought to Victoria as an orphan speaking only Spanish in the 1860’s. She married James Barnswell in 1871 and they had ten children.  She was widely known and respected for her common sense and integrity.  Businessmen and politicians, who valued her intelligence, sought her opinion.  She died in 1947 at the age of 93.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent.  , op.cit. , p. 108.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  , op.cit. , 1st edition pp. 149-150, 160; 2nd edition p. 126 – 128, 140.


Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871. , op.cit. , p. 68.


Colonist, January 5, 1945.“Nonagenarian is Well-Known Here”

This is an announcement of a family reunion at the time of Mrs. Barnwell’s 91st birthday.  A brief biography is including the names of her children, is given.

Colonist, February 1, 1947.  “Early Resident Dies Here at 93”

This is an announcement of the death of Mary Barnswell.  There is a brief biography of her remaining relatives.

Times, January 23, 1945.  “Honour Great-Grandmother at Party”

There is a picture of and a caption about the family gathering at which five generations are present.

Times, February 1, 1947. “Mrs. Mary Barnswell, Here 81 Years, Dies”

This announcement of Mrs. Barnwell’s death contains information similar to that given in the Colonist on February 1, 1947.

Picture File

There is one picture of Mary Barnswell.


Books and Articles

Brown, R.  The Negroes. , op.,cit. , p. 240.

The author mentions that Mrs, Boynton moved to Vancouver in 1919 and for many years had been a “wise and generous counsellor” of the Black community.


Kelowna Daily Courier, January 22, 1963, p.5. “Valentine’s Day she will be 105.

It is reported that Matilda Boynton who was born a slave in Tennessee, came to Vancouver in 1904.  She still drinks rum, smokes a cigar a day and takes an active interest in what goes on around her, including voting in the last federal election.

Province, January 29, 1963, p. 15. “A Cigar A Day for Matilda” by Aileen Campbell.

There is a large picture of Matilda Boynton and biographical information is supplied.

Province, October 27, 1965, p. 23.  “Oldest Citizen Dies”.

This is an announcement of the death of Matilda Boynton at the age of 107.  A brief biographical sketch and a picture is included.

Sun, April 27, 1964, p. 1. “She Beat the Weed at 106” by Al Sheehan.

In this article the author reports that Matilda Boynton has given up her 93 year old cigar a day habit.  He describes a visit she had with two other friends who are also over one hundred years old.

Times, February 8, 1965, p.3. “Former Tennessee slave 107 Years Old Saturday” by Ken Preston.

There is a large colour picture accompanied by biographical information.  The recent death of her second husband is mentioned.


The following information was derived from sources cited. Rosemary Brown, who was born and raised in Jamaica, came to Canada in 1950 at the age of nineteen.  She attended McGill University and the University of British Columbia.  Her work experience includes social work in Montreal and Vancouver, and university lecturing and counseling in Vancouver.  Ms. Brown, an active feminist, served as ombudsman on the B.C. Status of Women Council from 1970 – 1972.  She was also involved in the short-lived British Columbia Council of Black Women.  In 1972 Rosemary Brown was elected a New Democratic party MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, thus becoming the first Black woman to sit in the Legislature in Canada.  In this same year she was awarded a United Nations Human Rights Fellowship.  She has been active in the National Black Coalition and in 1973 was presented with a National Black Award.  In 1975 she ran as a candidate for the federal leadership of the NDP and came in second.  Ms. Brown is married to Dr. Bill Brown and they have three children. You can also view her story on this website.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Black Tiles in the Mosaic, op.cit.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , pp. 278, 300, 308, 309.

Fotheringham, C.  The Pure Left Politics of Rosemary Brown. , op.cit.

Gould, C.  Women of British Columbia. , op.cit. , pp. 200-203

Hobbs, L.  Why is Rosemary Running?  , op.cit.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing. , op.cit. , 1st edition p. 167, 169-171; 2nd edition p. 145.


Newspaper Index

As of 1978: There are 139 cards (each with an average of six entries) listing articles pertaining to Rosemary Brown, which have appeared in the Vancouver and Victoria newspapers from February 1971 to August 1978.

Vancouver Sun, March 3, 2011 “B.C. Heroes: Rosemary Brown”, by Gerry Bellett

Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2017, by Stephen Hume  “Canada 150: Rosemary Brown, an outspoken pioneer for women of colour”

Aural History Tapes

Tape #1010 – 1.  February 1, 1977.

Ms. Brown is interviewed after returning from the World Conference of Blacks held in Nigeria.  She comments that most people who attended were surprised to learn that there was a Black population in Canada and that she could be a political representative elected by a predominately white community.

Tape #1010-2.  February 28, 1977.

Recorded on this tape is a speech given by Rosemary Brown to a group of handicapped people who came to Victoria to address Human Resources Minister, Bill Vanderzalm, who refused to meet with the group.

Side 2.  March 4, 1977.

Ms. Brown criticizes the new rates announced for handicapped people by Human Resources Minister, Bill Vanderzalm.

Tape #1010-3.  March 14, 1977.

Rosemary Brown presents her critique of the philosophy of the Ministry of Human Resources and discusses the problems of welfare recipients in B.C.

Side 2. June 22, 1977.

Ms. Brown criticizes the decision of Mr. Vanderzalm to eliminate the Vancouver Resources Board.

Tape #1209-3.  March 24, 1977. – Side Two.

Rosemary Brown discusses the Pharmacare program and notes the lack of programs available to the sick and elderly.


For Jackson: A Time Capsule from His Two Grandmothers. , Leila Sujir (Writer and Director). Leila Sujir (LRS Producer). Germaine Ying Gee Wong. (NFB Producer). Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2003

This 1-hour documentary features the late politician and activist Rosemary Brown.
This film incorporates interviews, family footage and archival materials to recount history through two grandmothers, Rosemary Brown (1930-2003) and Ruth Horricks-Sujir (born 1925). The documentary is intended as a time capsule for Jackson, their 7-year-old grandson.

Works by Rosemary Brown

A New Kind of Power.  Women in the Canadian Mosaic. Edited by Gwen Matheson.  Toronto: P. Martin Associates, 1976.  Pp. 289-298. (PA).

Feminism and Socialism.  Herstory and Policy.  NDP Women’s Committee.  British Columbia NDP, 1971., pp. 1-9. (LL).

The Negroes. , op.cit. , pp. 237-242.

BCBHAS Story – Rosemary Brown



Colonist, November. 17, 1968, p. 48  “Canada’s Swingingest Grandmother Even Sews”

This article provides information about her singing career and there is a brief mention of some of the racial problems that Ms. Collins has had to confront.

Columbian, January 29, 1966  “Her career is enriching the lives of others and her own”. By Mildred Jeffery.

This interview with Eleanor Collins, in her Burnaby home, highlights her family and home life as well as her career.

Province, August 16, 1973, p. 34. “The Best of Both Worlds” by Nicole Stickland.

The author notes that Eleanor Collins now sings professionally only when she wishes and is giving more attention to her home life and her six grandchildren.  Ms. Collins discusses her desire to go to Africa, childhood racial incidents and the possibility of overcoming prejudice in Canada.

Sun, July 16, 1955, p. 2 Magazine Section. “Meet Vancouver’s Eleanor Collins” by Norma Rudolf.

This article focuses on the growth of the singer’s career from radio to TV, her nomination for an Actra award, and her own weekly half-hour show on national TV.  Some biographical data is presented including her childhood and family in Edmonton and a brief look at her present lifestyle as a career person and a parent of four children.

BCBHAS Story – Eleanor Collins


This brief biographical sketch is derived from the sources cited.  In 1859 Mifflin W. Gibbs made a trip from Victoria to Oberlin, Ohio where he met and married Maria Alexander, an Oberlin graduate.  She studied at Oberlin College from 1852 to 1854. Little else is known about Maria Gibbs.  She bore five children. She was pregnant in the fall of 1861 when she and her husband had flour thrown over them in the dress circle of the Colonial Theatre in Victoria.  In 1867 Maria and the four Gibb’s children returned to Oberlin.  Kilian suggest that one of the reasons she left may have been a dislike of Victoria since “… she was one of the best educated women in the city, but her social life must have been limited since white women did not mix with Blacks.”  In 1871 she and her husband were reunited for a while in Little Rock, Arkansas and she died some time (circa 1901) before Mifflin Gibb’s death in 1915.

Books and Articles

Gibbs, M.W.  Shadow and Light: an autobiography, op.cit. , p. 64.

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing, op.cit. , 1st edition pp. 75, 120, 145, 146; 2nd edition pp. 61 Image of Maria Gibbs, 101-102, 118, 122, 123.


Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871, op.cit. , p. 81


Rebecca Gibbs established a laundry in Barkerville circa 1868 and published poems in the Cariboo Sentinel.  Her most memorable poem is “The Old Red Shirt” that is engraved on her grave marker in the Ross Bay Cemetery.  The grave marker, erected by the VBPS and the Old Cemeteries Society says she was born in Philadelphia, USA about 1808, lived in Barkerville for many years and died in Victoria, B.C. in 1873.   Her occupations include Laundress, Poet and Nurse.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing, op.cit. , 1st edition pp. 95; 2nd edition pp. 79-80.

Kilian states that Rebecca Gibbs, a relative of Mifflin Gibbs, lost some of her property in the September 1868 Barkerville fire.  There is a reprint of the poem, which was published in the “Cariboo Sentinel” which was written by Rebecca about the Barkerville fire.

In the 2nd edition, the author notes that her poem about the Barkerville fire was published in the Cariboo Sentinel and later reprinted in The Elevator.  The poems about the fire and The Old Red Shirt are printed in this 2nd edition.


Born and raised in Vancouver at 10th and Nanaimo. During the late 1930s, the Vancouver-born Howard was one of the fastest female sprinters in the British Empire. She represented Canada at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, Australia. Howard later graduated from UBC in 1959 attaining a B.Ed. and was the first member of a visible minority hired by the Vancouver School Board. She worked as a Vancouver school teacher until 1984. In her later years, she remained active in the community volunteering as a peer counsellor. She was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.


Sun, February 25, 2017. “Barbara Howard – Obituary”.

Globe and Mail, March 7, 2017 “Barbara Howard – Obituary”.

These obituaries provide biographical details about her life, accomplishments and family.  These articles were published after her death on January 26, 2017.


Vancouver City Archives: Black Canadians.

There is 1 image of Barbara Howard holding a koala bear which was gift she received when she represented Canada at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, Australia.

UBC News, March 8, 2017.“Remembering Barbara Howard”.

BCBHAS Story – Barbara Howard


It is noted that Sarah Lester, daughter of Peter Lester, gave piano lessons in Victoria. In 1858, while still living in San Francisco, she was 15 years old and became part of a local uproar when the pro-slavery San Francisco Herald printed an anonymous letter demanding her removal from an otherwise all-white school.  This was one more catalyst for her father to join the exodus from San Francisco to B.C.  Lady Franklin’s niece describes her as possessing “nice ladylike manners & appearance”.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L. Black Tiles in the Mosaic. , op.cit.

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia. op.cit,, p. 91.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. 1st edition p. 18

Smith, D.S. Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest. , op.cit. , pp. 27, 38.


Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871, op.cit. , p. 43.


Gazette, December 23, 1859. This is an advertisement for music instruction on the piano given by S.A. Lester at her residence on Vancouver Street in Victoria.


The sources listed provide very little information about Mrs. Moses.  She and her husband, W.D. Moses, ran a boarding house in Victoria.  Lady Franklin and her niece stayed there while visiting Victoria in 1861.  Lady Franklin’s niece, Sophia Cracroft, described Mrs. Moses’ physical appearance and her ability as a housekeeper.  In 1862, Mrs. Moses attempted suicide because she believed that her husband had eloped with another woman.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. 1st edition p. 79, 90; 2nd p. 65-66.

Smith, D.S. Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest. , op.cit. , pp. 6.


Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871, op.cit. , p. 164


Colonist, September 23, 1862.

This article describes how Mrs. Moses attempted suicide twice by plunging into the water of James Bay but was saved by police and was escorted to the Barracks.


The information is based on her biography written by Theresa Lewis, Ruby’s daughter. Ruby Sneed (1917-1976) born April 30, 1917, Ruby Evelyn Proctor became a renowned classical pianist and music educator.


Lewis, Theresa.   Ruby Sneed Biography.  Written in 2010.


Daily Province, March 14, 1940, p.9. “Dream Come True “Negro Girl Plays Before Famed Singer”.

This is an account of Ruby Proctor as a teenager giving a recital for the famed American contralto Marian Anderson in a private room at the Hotel Vancouver.   The recital had been arranged by Ruby’s music teacher, Jean Coulthard

Vancouver News-Herald, November 6, 1943

“Re-union of well-known Vancouver musicians and their babies”. Ruby is seated in the centre with her 5-month old daughter Brenda.

BCBHAS Story – Ruby Sneed


This information about Sylvia is derived from the sources listed.  Sylivia Estes was born a slave in Clay County, Missouri.  Her father, Howard Estes, was able to purchase his family’s freedom and they attempted to farm in Missouri but were harassed by the KKK.  The family journeyed across the United States b wagon train and reached California in 1851.  There Sylvia married Louis Stark.  They lived in California until 1861 when the Estes family, Sylvia. Louis and their two small children migrated to B.C.  The Starks lived on Salt Spring Island for fourteen years.  Sylvia worked on the farm, took care of her family and acted as a volunteer nurse and midwife.  In 1875 the Starks moved to the Nanaimo district where Sylvia remained until her husband’s death in 1895.  She returned to live with her son, Willis, on Salt Spring where she was quite active, hardworking and alert almost until the time of her death at the age of 106 in 1944.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L. Canada and Its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , p. 105.

Pires, B. Salt Spring: A Sense of Freedom. , op.cit. , pp. 38-44

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia. op.cit, , p. 67-72.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. 1st edition pp. 102, 104-108, 111-113, 157; 2nd edition


Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871, op.cit. , p. 142-147.

Pilton provides biographical information about Sylvia Stark and the Stark family’s life on Salt Spring.

Robson, Ebenezer.  Diaries, December 21, 1861. (PA)

Rev. Robson, who visited Salt Spring to conduct services, stayed with the Starks on occasion ad described Sylvia Stark as being “religious”.

Wallace, Maria A.  Sylvia Stark’s Story, op.cit.


Colonist, August 19, 1934. “Salt Spring Calling” by F.M. Kelly.

This is an account of Sylvia Stark’s life based on information supplied by her son Willis.

Colonist, December 2, 1973, p. 4. “Pioneers Who Made Salt Spring the Paradise it is Today”, by Lillian Horsdal.

Desmond J. Crofton, a Salt Spring resident of British descent, reminiscences about the Island.  He mentions Sylvia Stark and her son Willis.

Nanaimo Daily Free Press, June 29, 1974. “Braved Untold Dangers to Build Home in Wilds”

This is a story of Sylvia Stark and her descendants.  Life on Salt Spring Island is described, and Marie Stark Wallace’s book about the life of her mother, Sylvia, is mentioned.

Province, January 16, 1941. “Woman Who Was Born Slave Now Matriarch of Gulf Islands”.

It is noted that Mrs. Stark is celebrating her 100th birthday.  The article contains some biographical data on her life in the United States and her move to British Columbia from California.

Saanich Peninsula & Gulf Islands Review, November 15, 1944 – Stark Family Life.

This is an announcement and a description of the funeral service held for Sylvia Stark on November 7, 1944.  There is also a brief account of the Stark’s background.

Sun.  November 14, 1944.

This article announces the death, at age 106, of Mrs. Sylvia Stark, one of the original Salt Spring settlers.  Her surviving daughters, Mrs. Wallace Stark of Ganges and Mrs. Young of New Jersey are mentioned.

Sun.  May 6, 1974. “Former Slave’s Story Tells of Islands Early Days” by Marian Bruce.

Bruce gives an account of Salt Spring Island’s early days as recalled through Marie Stark Wallace’s reminiscences.  The hardships, fears and murders that plagued the Starks and other Black settlers are retold.

Tacoma News Tribune and Sunday Ledger, February 15, 1978, p. 4. Stark Family File.

“Who Said Freedom was cheap?” by Ruth Herberg. This article describes the journey of the Estes family from Missouri to California and the journey of the Estes and Starks to British Columbia.  There is also an account of their life on Salt Spring Island.

Times, April 21, 1928, p.5. “Salt Spring – Isle of Enchantment!”

The author mentions Mrs. Stark’s terror of Indian attacks during her early days on the Island.

Times, May 27, 1966, p. 39. “Elizabeth Forbes’ column”.

A proposal to erect a plaque in Centennial Square in memory of Victoria’s Black pioneers prompted Ms. Forbes to write about Sylvia Stark.  She includes an account of the Estes and other Blacks who came to Victoria.  There is a description of life on Salt Spring Island and the death of Sylvia’s son, Willis, at the age of 86 is mentioned.

Aural History Tape

Tape #100:1 – Interview on August 23, 1972 at Ganges, with Mr. Desmond J. Crofton, retired manager of the Harbour House Hotel.  Mr. Crofton is of British descent.

At the beginning of the first tape, Crofton tells a story of taking an optometrist to see Sylvia Stark at her home.

Picture File.

There is one picture of Sylvia Stark.

BCBHAS Story – Sylvia Stark


Emma Stark is the eldest daughter of Sylvia Stark and the 1st Black teacher on Vancouver Island.

Books and Articles

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia.  op.cit. , p. 107

There is a picture of Emma Stark and the author notes that she taught in a one-room school log cabin in North Cedar District near Nanaimo beginning in 1874.

Killian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 2nd edition p. 132,133


Nanaimo Free Press, August 1874

The article reports that Cranberry-Cedar School, situated near the Nanaimo River Bridge will be opened next Monday with Miss Stark as teacher.

BCBHAS Story – Emma Stark


Maria Stark is the 3rd of 4 daughters of Sylvia Stark.


Colonist.  January 4, 1958, p. 15. “This was Freedom” by Tony Eberts.

This article cites incidents of life on Salt Spring Island as told by Mrs. Wallace through her memories of her mother’s stories.

Colonist, June 22, 1966, p. 2 “Salt Spring Pioneer Maria Wallace Dies”.

This announcement of the death of Mrs. Wallace includes a brief biographical sketch and a list of her remaining relatives.

Province, August 6, 1963, p. 4. “Integration Lesson on B.C. Island” by Tom Hazlitt.

This article describes the Blacks living on Salt Spring Island.  Mrs. Wallace is mentioned as the last direct link with the Estes and the original pioneers living on the island.

Saanich Peninsula and Gulf Islands Review, July 6, 1966, p.6. – Wallace, M. File.

“Death Severs Link with Slavery on Continent”.This is an announcement of Mrs. Wallace’s death.

Times, August 5, 1965, p. 14. “She was Born with Canada”.

It is noted that Mrs. Wallace, daughter of Louis and Sylvia Stark, granddaughter of Howard Estes, is celebrating her ninety-eighth birthday at the home of her daughter, Myrtle Holloman, on Salt Spring Island.  The author mentions that Mrs. Wallace began writing a family biography at the age of ninety.


Myrtle Wallace Holloman is a granddaughter of Sylvia Stark.


Colonist, June 26, 1974, p. 31. “Story recalls tough life of Island Black pioneers”.

Times, June 25, 1974, p. 17. “Black Pioneers Had Rough Go on Salt Spring”.

These articles note that Mrs. Holloman donated her mother’s manuscript, Sylvia Starks’ Story, to the Provincial Archives.  Some of the highlights of this manuscript are reprinted.

Province, September 3, 1971. “Salt Spring Island” by Kay Alsoop.

This article includes an interview with Mrs. Holloman, great granddaughter of Howard Estes.  The author notes that Mrs. Holloman has recently presented Sylvia Stark’s Story to the Provincial Archives.  Mr. and Mrs. Holloman returned to Salt Spring in 1953. Mrs. Holloman stated that there had been no racial tension in the island until recent incidents involving newly arrived Americans.

Seattle Times, October 8, 1961. “Negro” File  “Black Miners Settled in B.C. Island near Victoria”.

In this article Mrs. Holloman explains the reasons that Blacks moved to British Columbia in 1858 and she also outlines the history of her family and life on Salt Spring Island.


Books and Articles

Gould, J. Women of British Columbia. op.cit. , p. 89.

The author notes that Josephine Sullivan and her husband cooked for the workers at Moody’s Mill.  Later she opened a restaurant in Gastown.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 155; 2nd edition p. 134.

In the 1st edition Kilian mentions Mrs. Sullivan’s work and her involvement in the Methodist Church. In the 2nd edition mentions that the Sullivan’s were perhaps the first black residents of what was to become North Vancouver.

Morley, A.  Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis.  op.cit. , pp. 49,79.

Morley writes that Josephine Sullivan was known as “Gastown’s First Methodist” because Rev. James Turner, a Methodist missionary held his first services in her kitchen.  She and her son, Arthur, had a restaurant and a store and were the proprietors of Gold’s Hotel on Water Street before the great 1886 Vancouver fire.

Pethick, D.  Vancouver Revisited.  op.cit. , p. 43.

There is a picture of Josephine Sullivan which is accompanied by a brief biographical caption.



Province, August 7, 1972. “Malinda heading uptown but only for short stand”.

This article announces that Malinda Thorne will be sponsoring an evangelical crusade in the First Baptist Church.  It describes her usual work at God’s Rescue Mission where she counsels and helps to supply food and clothing to those in need.  There is a brief mention of some of her many activities at the Downtown Community Health Society, the Salvation Army and elsewhere.

Province, June 30, 1973, p. 12. “Malinda Sounds Uptown”

The article describes the participants expected at a crusade sponsored by Rev. Thorne at the St. Andrews Wesley Church.

Sun, September 26, 1970, p. 16. “Tiny Mission run by a woman with a large heart”.

The author describes Thorne’s mission work with a predominately white clientele.  Rev. Thorne states that Blacks give her support, “but it’s mostly silent”.  A recent service held to mark an anniversary of the mission was attended by clergy of various denominations.

Sun, September 25, 1971, p. 13.

There is a picture of Rev. Thorne with two other ministers at a luncheon for friends who aid her in her work at God’s Rescue Mission which has been in existence for eleven years.

Sun, March 11, 1978, p. B-5. “Malinda tosses a lifeline to any soul in need” by Alan Daniels.

Daniel’s article focuses on the work of Malinda Thorne, an ordained African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church elder, who came to Vancouver in 1957.  The author outlines some of her activities as pastor of God’s Rescue Mission and Miracle Centre in Vancouver “Skid Row” area and notes that Rev. Thorne is frequently a guest preacher at United and Baptist churches all over the lower Mainland.  She is described as “…part preacher, part social worker, part counsellor …”