Yip Sang (1845-1927)

Pioneer of Vancouver, Merchant, founder of Wing Sang Company

Yip Sang (his real name was Yip Chun Tien) played a pioneering role in British Columbia’s early history. He founded the Wing Sang Company, one of Vancouver’s most important import export businesses whose legacy still stands as the oldest building in Chinatown.

Yip Sang was born on September 6, 1845 in Guangdong (Canton), China. In 1864 at age 19, Yip sailed from China to California where he worked as a dishwasher and a cook. Seventeen years later, he came to Vancouver where he settled in Chinatown in 1881. In 1882, he was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Supply Company, where he worked as a bookkeeper, timekeeper, paymaster and then as the Chinese superintendent. Yip spoke fluent English and practiced plural marriage. On a trip back to China in 1885 he married and had two children, but his wife (Lee Shee) died. Over the years he married another three times (Dong Shee, Wong Shee, and Chin Shee) and had another 21 children. In 1901 he brought his three wives and all twenty-three children to Vancouver.

Yip Sang began his career in Vancouver selling coal door to door. On his return from China he founded the Wing Sang Company in 1888 and one year later built the first part of the historic Wing Sang building located at 51-67 East Pender Street. This company grew to become one of the region’s largest import export businesses. In addition to distributing canned goods and lumber throughout the Asia-Pacific region, it also supplied the Canadian Pacific Railway with a large contingent of its labour force. It was also an important point of contact for correspondence for workers who had family members in China.

Yip Sang figured prominently in Vancouver’s Chinese community. In addition to his successful business, he also helped to create the Vancouver branch of Chinese Benevolent Association; the Chinese Board of Trade and the Chinese Hospital. He was also appointed a life governor of Vancouver General Hospital. Yip Sang died in Vancouver on July 20, 1927 leaving a legacy of family, community service and business accomplishments.

Biography by Raymond Reitsma

Mr. Talmage Williams

Talmage Williams was born in New Brunswick on April 28, 1860 and died in Vancouver on April 15, 1894. The Daily World Newspaper on April 16 provided a little more information on Mr. Williams. He died at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening at Alexandra Hospital. About one week earlier, he had come down with a fever and as he had been slightly unwell for some months, it wasn’t long in running its fatal course. He was a native of St. John, N.B. where his mother still lived. He had lived in Vancouver for a number of years and had managed the Vancouver Mill until lately. At the time of his death, he was managing the cooperage jute department of the C. Cooperage and Jute Company.

His funeral was to take place at the Masonic Temple at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. He was a member of the Mount Hermon Lodge, the Royal Arch Chapter, and the Granville Lodge of the Knights of Phythias. He had held several positions in these lodges including scribe for the Royal Arch Chapter, past chancellor and keeper of records and seal of the Granville Lodge.

His epitaph is a verse quite popular at the time:
“Remember Brothers As You Pass By
Where You Are Now So Once Was I
Where I am Now So You Must Be
Prepare For Death And Follow Me”

Written by Lorraine Irving

Victoria Cross Winners

BEET, Harry C. VC              Abray -3 -5 -12  Victoria Cross recipient
KERR, John Chipman VC   Abray -5 -8 -12  Victoria Cross recipient
MacBEATH, Robert VC      Masonic 193 -6  Victoria Cross recipient
SHANKLAND, Robert        Cremation           Victoria Cross recipient

Robert McBEATH: (our records and his monument have the incorrect surname spelling of MacBeath.
The Vancouver Police have a great write up on their fallen heroes site.

John C. KERR: His cremated remains were interred in the same grave as Leslie Walter KERR [Abray, Block 5, Plot 6 Lot 9] Leslie died in 1942 at the age of 23. John died in 1963 at the age of 76. However, the marker for John C. KERR is placed on a different grave – Abray, Block 5, Plot 8, Lot 12. This lot was purchased in 1966 so that a marker could be placed for John Chipman KERR [cemetery rules at the time only permitted one marker per military grave]. In 1981, the cremated remains of Clarissa G. KERR were interred in this same grave where John C. KERR was commemorated.

Robert Shankland: His death certificate (typical with many other examples the Cemetery have encountered) references final disposition as “cremation” with “Mountain View Cemetery” identified as the cemetery. However, this only refers to him being cremated at the crematorium located within Mountain View cemetery. There is no information in their records, nor the cemetery’s, indicating that his remains were ever interred here. It is most likely that his cremated remains were returned to the family and taken elsewhere – quite possibly scattered as was common at the time.

R.H Trueman

From: Camera Workers: British Columbia, Alaska & Yukon, 1858-1950

[Trueman] began as a tinsmith in Brampton, but had purchased a photo studio by 1886 and called it the Popular Photograph Parlor. He sold the studio in 1888 and moved to Brandon, Manitoba, to homestead with his wife Minnie (d. 1893). Trueman returned to Ontario and there met and formed a partnership with young Norman Caple from England. The two are supposed to have met in Toronto.

Trueman & Caple travelled the Canadian Pacific Railway line for about a year and then set up headquarters in Vancouver. After the partnership was dissolved, Trueman remained in Vancouver but is not listed in the directories of 1895-1897. He was, however, travelling through the Prairies and appears to have spent most of the time in Medicine Hat between 1894-99. The newspaper references stated he was from Vancouver. He continued to travel extensively and up until two months before his death was managing his Revelstoke branch studio.

He was widowed on January 9, 1893 when his wife died of heart disease at age 31. Trueman was a superb landscape photographer and was one of few West Coast photographers to print his negatives on platinum paper. The first modern public exhibit of his work was produced by the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation, Banff, in 1981. Trueman and his wife are buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver.

Charles Edward Tisdall

[b. Apr. 9, 1866, Birmingham, England; arrived Vancouver, April 1888;
d. (in office as alderman) Mar. 17, 1936.]

When Mayor Tisdall stepped into the mayor’s chair he became the only mayor selected under the system of proportional representation, in which the candidate for city council getting the most votes became mayor. As an earlier MLA (Conservative), a Park Board member for 15 years, and an alderman, Tisdall’s popularity and familiarity among the electorate no doubt helped him achieve the highest civic office. These were the early years of the rise in prosperity since the end of the war, a phenomenon that helped fuel the drive for more schools, parks, and the expansion of port facilities in Vancouver.

Steven Tingley

Steven Tingley’s career began as a stagecoach driver with Barnard’s Express at the start of the Gold Rush. Steven Tingley became its owner and renamed it the B.C. Express locally known as the BX. In 1894 he bought Hat Creek Ranch and the hotel and made numerous improvements.

Many Cariboo towns have street names commemorating Tingley’s career.

Thomas Ellis Ladner (1836-1922)

Pioneer, Founder of Ladner, British Columbia

Thomas Ellis Ladner is one of British Columbia’s most respected pioneers. He and his brother, William Henry Ladner, founded the village of Ladner’s Landing where a post office was opened on March 1, 1875. Today, Ladner is known for its historic town centre and its scenic waterfront location on the Fraser River Estuary.

Thomas Ellis Ladner was born in Trenant Park, Cornwall, England on September 8, 1836. He was one of six children born to Edward Ladner and Sarah (Ellis) Ladner. Thomas traveled from England to the United States with his brother William in 1851. Once gold was discovered in the Fraser River, they moved to BC in 1858. By 1868 Thomas and William had acquired twelve hundred acres in the lower Fraser River delta and began farming. They were the first permanent European settlers in the region.

In 1887 Thomas Ladner founded the Delta Canning Company in Ladner Village. The cannery later became part of the Victoria Canning Company where Thomas was appointed general manager. He also became part owner of the Wellington Packing Company at Canoe Pass across from Westham Island. These canneries later merged to form the BC Packers Association.

Thomas Ellis Ladner married Edna Booth on February 21, 1865 at St. John’s Anglican Church in Victoria, BC. They had seven children. After Edna died in 1882, he married Minnie Parr two years later and had six more children including an adopted daughter. Their large family home and acreage in Ladner was named Trenant Park, and stood on the property now occupied by Trenant Park Mall. Thomas Ellis Ladner died on April 24, 1922 after leaving a remarkable legacy for the people of British Columbia.

Biography by Raymond Reitsma, historian.