Pioneer of British Columbia, Wife, Mother and Insurance Woman
Frances Mabel (Webb) Patterson’s legacies include Frances Avenue, named for her in Victoria, British Columbia, and Patterson House, the family home that today sits at 7106-18th Avenue, Burnaby, a designated heritage building.
Frances Mabel Webb was born in Cradley, England on December 5, 1872. She was the eldest of twelve children born to Joseph William Webb, and Frances Jane (Yapp) Webb of Ridgeway House. Frances was also the granddaughter of Thomas Webb, founder of world-renowned Thomas Webb Crystal. Her maternal great uncle, Richard Yapp, of the Halesend, was High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1859.
Frances crossed the Atlantic on the SS Lake Winnipeg with her family and arrived in Victoria in 1889. Her father had decided to move the family to Victoria so he could accept a landscape design position for Beacon Hill Park with architect John Blair.
On February 7, 1891, Frances Mabel Webb married Dugald Campbell Patterson at St. James Anglican Church, in Victoria, BC, joining two pioneer families. Frances and her husband moved to Burnaby in 1894 where she farmed the family property, looked after her blind mother-in-law, Margaret (Purdon) Patterson, and raised her seven children. In 1910, as her family continued to grow, she and her husband purchased fourteen acres of land along Edmonds Street at Kingsway and built a larger home with tennis courts and a gazebo. Here, Frances would hold church teas and host meetings for the women’s division of the Liberal Party.
In later years, with the experience she gained from working in her husband’s insurance business, Frances became an insurance agent for the Wawanesa Insurance Company (founded in 1896). She met her clients by using the lower mainland’s vast streetcar system as a means of transportation. This career not only gave Frances a significant feeling of independence, but also gave her an income which lasted well into her retirement years. Frances Mabel (Webb) Patterson died in New Westminster, BC on August 30, 1960.
Biography by Raymond Reitsma, historian.