Colourful Characters in Historic Yale
Historic Yale Museum
Yale, British Columbia

09 - Merchants



The Merchants & Businesses of Yale

Front Street in Yale, British Columbia was the hub of energy and commerce. The businesses located there were divided in two sections, Yale's Chinatown and Yale proper. The merchants between the two 'towns' were known to assist one another if a common goal presented itself, such as the need to prevent the spread of fire. Customers in Yale would purchase supplies from both sides of town.

Yale between 1858 and 1888 was the birthplace of many an entrepeneurship, and nearly anything could be bought there. Businesses included express companies, saddleries, boot & shoemakers, post offices, bakeries, hotels & restaurants, saloons, banks, laundries, newspapers, pharmacies, tailors and milliners, blacksmiths, barbers, carpenters and furniture makers, butchers, florists, watchmakers, barristers, and just general merchants that sold groceries, clothing and everything else needed.

Many merchants moved on to Vancouver or New Westminster, such as Douglas & Deighton, and the Oppenheimer Brothers, one of whom became a mayor of Vancouver, and whose company still exists today.

Yale was a boomtown during two very rich periods of B.C. history, the Fraser River Gold Rush and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which stretched all the way across the country, from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Yale directory of 1882-83 lists no less than six hotels, five saloons, a private boarding house, and two restaurants. Aside from these, it also lists more than 50 shops or businesses, just in the one year in Yale.

The directory also lists people, their occupations, and their street or hotel of residence. We did not count all of the butchers, bakers, saddlers & such, as many of them likely worked for the Harper & Van Volkenburgh Meat Market, the French Bakery, and Douglas & Deighton, etc.

From the directory it also appears that every hotel was full, 21 tenants were listed as living in the Rail Road Hotel that year.

The list of businesses does not include the hospitals, doctors and medical people, who have their own storyline in this narrative. It also does not include those in the transportation business, as they also have their own storyline.


Hudson's Bay Company Store Chapman Family sitting on steps
Front Street, Yale


Hotel Borden on left, D.J. Creighton General Merchandise on right.
Douglas Street, Yale


Oppenheimer Rock Wall as it looks today Originally built as a fire break
Front Street, Yale


Oppenheimer Brothers
B.C. Merchants Who Opened the Very First General Store in Yale

The Oppenheimers not only had numerous stores throughout B.C., they were also instrumental in advancing the spirit of progress through the colony. Their first store was established on Yale's Front Street and operated as not only a general goods store but a meeting place for Yale's populace as well.

The five brothers were born in Bavaria, all of whom eventually immigrated to B.C. Their father was a wine merchant, so it is not surprising that the brothers pursued a career in the mercantile business, though of a different nature.

The family moved to America when the younger brothers were still in their teens. Europe around 1848 was in a state of great unrest causing a wave of German-Jewish immigration to North America.

The brothers were Meyer, Charles, Godfrey, David and Isaac. They stayed for a time in Sacramento, California where Meyer operated a successful business. In the town of Columbia, David and his wife also operated a hotel.

The decision to move to B.C. was influenced by the Fraser River Gold Rush in 1858. Charles was the first to arrive, and having assessed the miners' needs he started a family partnership known as "Charles Oppenheimer and Co." The company started as a trading business in Victoria and Point Roberts.

When the rest of the brothers joined Charles they moved along the Fraser and established their main store in Yale. Yale, at this time, was of central importance to the gold rush and had miners passing through the town on a daily basis. The store was a successful mercantile supplier and it served as a gathering place for miners and prospectors during the winter.

"The Oppenheimer brothers began in Yale one of the earliest businesses in what we now call British Columbia. David and Isaac Oppenheimer built their store on Front Street in 1858." 1 By 1859 the brothers had stores established in Fort Hope and Lytton. With the gold rush heading upriver the Oppenheimers followed the rush into Barkerville. The store in Barkerville soon became a centre of the town. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in 1868, costing the brothers $100,000. This setback did not deter them for they quickly rebuilt and the new store was on an even grander scale than the one they had lost.

The store in Yale, run by David and Isaac, suffered greatly as a result of fire in 1874 and in 1881. After the first fire they erected a brick warehouse as well as the fire wall, remnants of which can still be seen today. A fire engine from San Francisco was eventually brought in and Isaac was made captain of the fire brigade.

Charles decided to take on a contract to build a section of the Cariboo Waggon Road with Walter Moberly. As a result he withdrew from the family firm, and the name was changed to Oppenheimer & Co. Charles later returned to San Francisco where he died in 1890.

Shortly after the second fire in 1881 the decision was made to close Yale's Oppenheimer Store after 23 years in operation.
Godfrey had passed away the previous year at age 51, and David and Isaac moved to Vancouver. In 1885 they established the first wholesale grocery business there. As they became large landholders it is not surprising that they increased the value of the land by promoting Vancouver as the Pacific terminus of the CPR. David and Isaac served on the 1887 city council, a year after Vancouver was incorporated.

Continuing his political interests David became Mayor of Vancouver between 1888-91. He is remembered by many as the father of Vancouver due to the fact that he established many institutions. David died of heart failure in 1897 at the age of 63. He is buried in the cemetery at Brooklyn, New York, near his wife.

Isaac left Vancouver in 1901, and died in 1922 in Spokane, Washington at age 88. The Oppenheimer store still operates in Vancouver, preserving the memory of its forefathers.

1- "Oppenheimer Bros. Store" The Gold Rush Town of Yale. Internet: May 19, 1999.


Oppenheimer Brothers Mercantile Store on Front Street in Yale, BC BC Archives Call Number E01924
Front Street, Yale


Chinese Vaults
3 March 2004
Front Street, Yale


Kwong Lee - "Expansive Profit"
also known as Lee Chong
Builder of Yale's Chinatown Vaults

For the town of Yale Lee Chong left one of the most enduring symbols of the past, and in the Chinatown section of Yale it is the only remaining sign of this booming area of town that played such a crucial role during the construction of the railway.

These structures are referred to as the stone vaults, built to store and protect valuables from fire. Aside from his own goods he likely would have charged a small fee for others to store their belongings within. The walls are made of mortared river stone and range anywhere between 12 inches to 2 feet thick. The original steel doors are still attached to the entrance of the vaults.

Although these structures are facing the ravages of time their imposing presence tells the story of a man who is rumored to have had the first chain of stores in British Columbia.

"By 1868, there were branches in Yale, Lillooet, Quesnelle Forks and Quesnel, perhaps making it the first chain store in British Columbia." 1 These stores had connections in San Francisco, Canton and Hong Kong. Kwong Lee followed the Gold Rush north, establishing stores in the communities that were most impacted by the traveling miners.

The merchant's real name was Lee Chong but he became known to all by his store name, Kwong Lee, which translates to 'Expansive Profit' in English! 2 Within the store a person would find anything he could possibly desire from shoes to opium; mining equipment, clothing, and general grocery items.

Kwong Lee, or Lee Chong was also among the first of the Chinese men to bring his wife from China to live in British Columbia; a more telling statement could not be said about his decision to prosper and stay in North America for an extended period of time. Many Chinese people came to North America with the intention of earning enough money to return home to their families as wealthy men.

The Kwong Lee stores were devastated by fires on numerous occasions in various localities. The 1868 fire in Barkerville cost Kwong Lee $40,000, in 1869 a fire in Quesnelmouth caused Kwong Lee the loss of ten employees, and an 1871 fire in Yale lost Kwong Lee his store. 3 It is little wonder that he had the vaults built to protect his valuables from fire in Yale.

Despite the surge in Yale's population during the 1880's with the building of the CPR through the Fraser Canyon it was not enough to support his extended business. The Kwong Lee chain in B.C. failed in 1885.

1- Kwong Lee Company Store. Barkerville Historic Town - History - Chinatown. Internet:
2- Kwong Lee Company Store. Barkerville Historic Town - History - Chinatown.
3- Hooper, Robin G. Gold, Stone Vaults and Railways. 1996. Yale & District Historical Society Archives


The On Lee House
1 January 1982
Douglas Street, Yale


The On Lee Family
Past Residents & Merchants of Yale

Father On Lee - 1831-1907
Mother Mary On Lee - 1865-1928
Thomas On Lee - 1886-1971
Connie On Lee 1888-
Ola On Lee - 1895-19682
Sophy On Lee - 1894-1918
May On Lee - 1899 -
Rose On Lee - 1913-1949
David On Lee
James On Lee 1891 -1961

They started out as another feature of Yale's Chinatown, general merchants during the construction days of the CPR, but to the town of Yale they would become so much more. They were a pioneer family, making Yale their home despite the fluctuations of time and economy of the town. Although their descendants are no longer residing amongst Yale's remaining inhabitants, their spirits are still here. Their stories are retold each year as museum staff uncover their tale, and impart this knowledge to the public when they pass through the historic hub of the town. Their ancestors rest quietly in a tiny family cemetery, a private stop for those that remain of the On Lee family.

The story begins in Canton, China about 1831 where On Lee was born. He moved to British Columbia in the late 1870's and made his way to Yale almost immediately upon arriving, purchasing a lot from the Oppenheimers for $800 in the spring of 1880. The lot had originally been granted to Dr. Max William Fifer but his tragic end saw the property pass through a number of owners.

Upon this Yale property he started an establishment that would be the basis of the On Lee's income throughout their residence in Yale, that of a general store and bakery. In a period when Yale was prosperous with the railway still two years away from completion and its workers a regular presence within the town, On Lee wed Mary Laye, about 34 years his junior.

His nineteen-year-old came over from China, probably for her forthcoming wedding, in 1884. On Lee and Mary Laye were married in fine style, with the ceremony officiated by the Grand Master of the Chee Rung Tong and a large feast served to guests, complete with music and firecrackers.

For On Lee, life must have seemed pretty good with a wife, children and a successful business that consisted of outbuildings and washhouses where he sold items ranging from lumber, hardware and feed. Within the main store sat a large wood stove, long counters and shelves featuring groceries, dried goods and probably clothing and accessories as well. The old stove "served as a gathering place for local Chinese who would come to listen to Chinese records played on the gramophone." 1

On Lee and Mary Laye had eight children together, and throughout it all they continued as essential merchants within Yale, remaining despite obvious signs that the town had fallen on hard times.

On Lee died on August 2, 1907 and was buried within a private plot dedicated to the On Lee's of Yale. Mary Laye and her sons continued to operate the store and saw it through the hard times of the First World War. Mary Laye passed away in 1928. Their headstones read 'Mother On Lee' and 'Father On Lee' in English, as well as in Chinese, the characters carved lovingly into the granite. Other graves are marked with the names of Rose, James, and David On Lee, while three more cannot be read; one is probably Sophy On Lee, who died in 1918 at age 24.

The death of Mary Laye led to a new period for the store. James On Lee, the second son, built a store, service station and hotel along the newly constructed Fraser Canyon Highway in Yale. The old store on Douglas Street was converted into his private residence. He operated the new store until his death in 1961.

With James' death the original On Lee property passed through the remaining children. The youngest On Lee child, Mrs. Kim Young, "sold it to the Provincial Government in 1983 with the hope that it could be preserved as a historic site." 2 Two years later the house was burned to the ground in a suspected arson fire. Yet all was not completely lost, the property had been examined and detailed notes and drawings made of the structure and acreage before it was destroyed. Although the physical semblance of their presence may be gone, the dream that it represented remains.

1- The Gold Rush Town of Yale. On Lee House - Documentary History. Internet: 19/05/99
2- The Gold Rush Town of Yale. On Lee House - Documentary History. Internet: 19/05/99


Cheng Foo
Yale B.C.


Cheng Foo
1858 - 1930
Chinese Pioneer of Yale

He travelled from a distant land to seek his fortune in the land of plenty. His story seems unremarkable; a tale told by many immigrants who came to North America; except, this is an account of perseverance despite the odds.

Cheng Foo, as he would become known, was of Chinese origin and he immigrated to a land that treated different nationalities as subordinates. Yet, it is to men like Cheng Foo that we owe so much to, including the building of the railway when numerous white labourers left their jobs in search of something more.

Cheng immigrated from Sun Wei in the Guangdong Province to Yale in 1881 as a railway worker. The work was far more dangerous, and the elements were harsher than many of the Chinese were prepared for. "There was great camaraderie among the workers. They looked out for each others' welfare and called each other brother. A society called the CHI KUNG TONG was formed (The Chinese Masonic Society) for the welfare of the Brotherhood." 1

Upon arriving in Yale they would have discovered that a section of the town was already designated as Chinatown, which dated back to the Gold Rush of the 1858-60's. When Cheng Foo lost his finger working for the railway he lost his job. "There was no compensation for workers injured. These men were simply discarded as unemployable." 2 The minor inconvenience of the loss of livelihood and an appendage did not deter Cheng Foo; upon establishing a laundry service he would soon become one of the prominent businessmen of Yale's Chinatown.

The laundry eventually expanded into a general store. Unemployed railway workers owned many of the stores within Chinatown. "My father's store was named Fook Woo and all the children's names somehow became Woo also. Later our names were changed again. This happened to many of the pioneer families whose parents didn't speak English. The proper surname should have been Cheng, same as Cheng Foo." 3

While residing in Yale he took care of the Josh House, 4 a Chinese Temple where people would go to pray and seek guidance from the gods. During the summertime Cheng Foo and his children would find and chop wood to last them through the winter. The winters in Yale were very harsh, "the cold weather was so intense we finally moved to Vancouver for the winter seasons. It was also easier on Mother when we attended school in Vancouver. School in Yale was in a one-room building where grades one to eight shared the same teacher." 5

Cheng Foo married Leong Lin Heong, later known as Lena Long, around the turn of the century. "She claims she was kidnapped as a young girl and believed she came from Sin Kiang province. She remembers that they took her to a house where she couldn't understand what was being said. She was later given to another family who brought her to Victoria, B.C. She became the housemaid for the Leong family and thus acquiring the surname Leong…The Leongs put her to work in a tailor shop." 6 Cheng Foo was about 30 years senior to Lena. She bore him twelve children, two of which died at birth.

Cheng Foo rented an orchard from the Creighton family. The fruit would be shipped to Vancouver merchants in exchange for Chinese products. The gold miners would trade gold for rice and dried Chinese food. "He had acquired a lot of gold in his trading. During the Great Depression years Mother had to sell all this gold to feed the family. Mother had no other income and father had just died." 7 The orchard provided a great deal of income for the family, an income that everyone contributed towards:

"On our summer vacation from school, the whole family would be in Yale to help harvest the cherry crop. We would ship some of the crop to Vancouver and we would sell some to the passengers when the train stopped for water and fuel. Us children would each take a basket with dividers where we put cone shaped holders full of cherries which were ten cents each or three bags for twenty-five cents. The cherries were very popular with the passengers. Often we would be so busy selling we would forget to, and couldn't get off until the train stopped at the next town. The baskets were woven by local Indians and they wove dividers right into the baskets. The paper cones were made from Eaton's and Sears' catalogue rolled up and crimped at the bottom." 8

In the autumn of 1930 Cheng Foo made the decision to stay behind and harvest the fruit in Yale while his family went on ahead to their home in Vancouver. The weather that fall was quite cold and he fell sick. By the time he returned to Vancouver it was too late. Cheng Foo "died at the age of 72 from pneumonia in Mother's arms. It was a sad night October 1930. I was just eight years old." 9

Lena was left in a state of shock and trauma with the death of her husband, and being unable to read or write English, some people tended to take advantage of her vulnerability. Yet she persevered, taking in sewing and eking out a living for her and her children.

Cheng Foo would never become a Canadian citizen, but he was a naturalized British subject by 1903. Nonetheless his children would live on to become citizens of Canada. The eight-year-old boy at his father's death bed, Bevan Jangze, would go on to fight on behalf of Canada in the Second World War while remaining proud of the his beginnings, and that of his father's while building the Canadian Pacific Railway and setting up roots in the bustling town of Yale, B.C.

1 Jangze, Bevan. "Cheng Foo." Biography of his father. Yale & District Historical Society Archives
2 Ibid
3 Ibid
4 Also called a Joss House
5 Jangze, Bevan
6 Ibid
7 Ibid
8 Ibid
9 Ibid


Lena Jang Wife of Cheng Foo.
Yale B.C.


Benjamin Douglas
Front Street, Yale


Benjamin Douglas & Richard Deighton
1839-1900 ; 1821-1886
Douglas & Deighton Saddlery& Harness, and Post Office

Two men from very different backgrounds met in Yale and formed a business and friendship, the presence of which still lingers throughout the history of Yale.

Benjamin Douglas and Richard Deighton operated a saddle shop and post office on Front Street. The store was in existence prior to the certainty that Yale would soon reemerge as an essential link in B.C.'s transportation route with the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

Their presence within Yale during the quiet part of the 1870's was well remembered when Yale became prominent once again: In a July 1880 issue of the Inland Sentinel it reads that "the fine premises recently erected by Messrs. Douglas & Deighton, and now occupied by that enterprising firm. These gentlemen, like other pioneers, stood by Yale 'when times were dark and friends were few,' and now enjoy the tidal-wave of prosperity." 1

Benjamin Douglas was born near Huntingdon, Quebec, in 1839. 2 Attending the local public schools he left home at the age of 12 to make his own way from Kingston to New York and then San Francisco. In 1862, the same year he arrived in San Francisco, he followed the rumours of gold to the Cariboo, where he made his living primarily through mining.

Richard Deighton was born in 1821 3 in Scotland, although he was of English origin. He arrived in Victoria around 1860 and followed the lure of gold to Yale and up into the Cariboo region where he also engaged in mining. While mining at Harvey Creek Deighton achieved the position of Justice of the Peace and in 1874 he was appointed as magistrate as well.

Perhaps these two formed their friendship while mining in the Cariboo, or through Deighton's position as a magistrate. Either way the year 1876 saw them engaged in a new business enterprise in Yale, which was Douglas & Deighton Saddlery and Harness. A description of the business as it existed was "Their harness and saddle trade extends to the far interior, and secures orders wherever once introduced." The article goes on to describe the fine job that Douglas continues to do as postmaster and then resumes describing the business. "At present one side of the new building is conveniently fitted up for the post-office, the remainder of the first floor devoted to their store for harness, saddles, whips, etc., while the upper floor is occupied by their workmen as workshops. Thus the whole building is utilized to advantage." 4

The two business partners made a number of investments in real estate, both individually and co-operatively. Aside from their saddlery shop the partners held a lot of outside responsibilities, some of which they shared. They both served as justices of the peace and held active positions in the Cascade Lodge No. 10 A.F. & A. M. Richard was also Treasurer and Trustee of the Yale Fire Department in 1882 and 1883.

In 1884 Douglas moved to New Westminster, leaving Deighton to run the shop, although he was still listed as co-owner of the business. Richard remained in Yale until 1885, about which time the business also moved. What brought about his decision to leave Yale is not known, perhaps he felt that Yale as town of central importance would soon be over, or he may have been feeling poorly and so moved to New Westminster in order to be closer to his friend. What we do know is that Richard Deighton died in 1886 in New Westminster, B.C. at the age of 64. 5

Benjamin Douglas sustained the business in New Westminster and continued to invest in property while promoting the idea of an electric railway in New Westminster. Douglas became president of both the New Westminster Electric Railway & Light Company and the Westminster & Southern Railway Company. Douglas while not active in politics was elected a member of the city council less than a year after he made New Westminster his home.

The loss of his friend and business partner did not slow down Douglas' career, but it did impact his life. Benjamin Douglas erected a tombstone in Richard Deighton's memory. Deighton, in his will, bequeathed items to the children of Benjamin Douglas.

Douglas married Julia Insley in 1871, sister of the renowned Captain Asbury Insley. Their other brother, John, would go on to operate a hotel in Yale during CPR construction.

Julia would have only recently arrived to New Westminster, having followed her parents out in 1870 when the family decided to join the eldest son and sibling, Asbury, in B.C. Julia and Benjamin went on to have six children, one of which Douglas named Richard Deighton after his friend and business partner.

The shop is gone, the namesakes deceased but the memory lingers on in the Front Street of Yale. In the memoirs of W.H. Holmes he recalls, "Then came a saddler's shop run by two gentlemen, Messrs. Douglas and Dayton. You could get anything in the horse-equipment line; and repair work - which was in great demand at that time for harness, pack saddles, etc." 6

1- Island Sentinel, "Yale." July, 1880
2- May 6, 1839
3- June 6, 1821
4- Island Sentinel, "Yale." July, 1880
5- March 11, 1886
6- "Memoirs of W. H. Holmes in 1936." Building of the railway. Yale Archives


Douglas and Deighton Saddlery Store Newspaper Advertisement
1 January 1881
Front Street, Yale


Jessie Revsbech, with Madeline and Mabel Philput. The card was Jessie's business card.
1 June 1894
Yale B.C.


Jessie Revsbech
Yale Hotel Keeper, Business Woman

Jessie was a woman who could survive in a man's world. Undaunted by societal limitations she operated two successful hotels out of Yale, a town that by the time she established her businesses was no longer a popular destination.

Despite this obstacle that saw the population dwindle "from six thousand to some twenty souls" 1 she persevered where other business owners fled. More than just persevering, she succeeded, making her hotel amongst "the leading hotels of this section of the Interior and was particularly popular because of its comfortable furnishings which had been imported from an hotel in the Southern States."2

Jessie was a woman who took things in stride and overcame obstacles with a straightforward attitude that was exemplary for any businessperson at that time. Her first hotel, the Railroad Hotel, which she set up in the 1890's burned to the ground around 1911. She did not allow this upset to deter her, establishing the Borden Hotel in 1912.

Advertising her new hotel as 'entirely modern,' her rates were anywhere from $2.50 and up. Standing at the beginning of Douglas Street it saw events of great significance, including being pictured with the first automobile to penetrate Yale from Vancouver, a significant feat considering much of the original road had been intersected by the CPR train tracks.

"Journey's end was a big rambling frame building known as Hotel Borden - since destroyed by fire - and a small enthusiastic crowd gathered on the hotel steps shortly before midnight as the long low-built touring car spluttered to a halt outside...the motorists were given a champagne welcome by Mrs. Revsbech, then owner of Hotel Borden. 'She was very pleased with our trip,' Fred Sterling said, 'because it proved to the Provincial government that Yale was accessible to through road traffic from the coast.'" 3

"Yale, April 26 - The Hotel Borden, leading Hostelry of this picturesque old mining town, was burned to the ground today, with a total loss of more than $40,000." 4 Jessie, with her usual perseverance, tried to carry on and filed a suit against the CPR for damages worth $34,000. Revsbech's claim was that her hotel caught fire as a result of sparks from a passing freight train.

Jessie remained in the town she called home until her death in 1931 at the age of 75. The family had come to Yale from Nova Scotia and while some of them would follow the gold to Barkerville, Jessie stayed put in Yale, the former town of such glory. Family members would later return to Yale and Jessie was there to welcome them home. 5

1- Clare, Dorothy. "Yale Pioneer Called to Rest." Ashcroft Journals and Lillooet District News. July 21, 1938. No. 14
2- "Hotel at Yale is Burned to Ground: Well-known Hostelry is Destroyed in Morning Blaze." Yale and District Historical Society Archives, 1925
3- "First Car Penetrated Cariboo Area Just Thirty Years Ago." Vancouver Province, May 22, 1943.
4- "Hotel at Yale is Burned to Ground"
5- Clare, Dorothy. "Yale Mourns the Passing of 'Joe' Mackenzie, Pioneer." Ashcroft Journals and Lillooet District News. July 21, 1938. No. 14


William Henry 'Johnny' Ward Teamster, Hotelier
Yale B.C.


William Henry Ward
Teamster, Hotelier

William Henry "Johnny" Ward came from Digby, Nova Scotia to Yale during the gold rush. He didn't prospect for long, becoming a teamster, driving wagons for his own freighting business. He made trips from Yale to Barkerville for many years, and was a familiar sight on the Cariboo Waggon Road.

When the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway put him out of the freight business, he went into the hotel business instead. One of his hotels was situated right across the tracks from the church, and his house was just past that, up the hill from the BC Express Company (formerly Barnard's Express).

At the age of 63, Johnny married his common-law-wife and mother of his children; 33-year old Alice Squalabia, a Tait woman of Yale. They had six children;

Their daughter Mary Alice married David James Creighton, and they lived in the Creighton/Castle house, which is now the Historic Yale Museum.

Mary Alice and David Creighton's son Frances Henry married Margaret Castle, thereby joining the families of Ward/Creighton/Castle for all time. Margaret was later the victim of a murder/suicide, her story is elsewhere in this storyline.

When Johnny Ward grew too old to care for himself, he moved in with his daughter Louise Sturdevant's family, where he passed away in 1915.


Rail Road Hotel
Douglas Street, Yale


Douglas Street in Yale
Douglas Street, Yale


Hotel Borden on left, D.J. Creighton General Merchandise on right.
Douglas Street, Yale


The Creighton Family
Merchants and Landowners

This family's history in the area began with David James Creighton, who came to Yale from Ireland. He was the son of a farmer, and held great value for land. He bought as much of it as he could, and owned an orchard in Yale as well as a hotel, restaurant and store.

He worked as an expressman and teamster on Front Street, and was partnered with John McKinnon in ownership of the Oriental Hotel. He also rented his orchard out to Cheng Foo.

He was already a hotel & store keeper by the time he married Mary Alice Ward in 1885. They had four children, Moses Dundas, Francis Henry, Alice MJ, and Amy Lillian. Amy died at birth.

Francis Henry Creighton, would eventually marry Margaret Castle, later the victim of a murder/suicide, told elsewhere in this exhibit.

The Creighton house is the building which is now the Historic Yale Museum. It was passed down from DJ Creighton to his son Francis, who then in turn gave it to his father-in-law August Castle to house his large family. Francis and his wife Margaret were then living in his grandfather Johnny Ward's house, which is also still standing and is part of the Historic Yale Site.

David Creighton passed away in 1930, and his son Francis lived to be 76, dying in 1967.


Yale Businesses 1882-83


California Hotel; McGirr & Davis
Cascade Hotel; John E. Insley
Oriental Hotel; McCoskery & Salter
Rail Road Hotel; Revsbech & Struters
Travellers's Rest Hotel; Alex MacDonald
Yale Creek House; William John Taylor
Mrs. Gowdy's private boarding house

Chapman's Bar Hotel, Chapman's; E. Cannell & Co.
American Hotel, Emory Creek
Emory Hotel, Emory Creek

Magnolia Restaurant; JR Nickesson, TH Forister & Co.
Yuen Chong Restaurant

Cosmopolitan Saloon; Hemmenover & Desormier
Branch Saloon; Doyle; Elliot & Co.
Gem Saloon; McPhale & McMillan
Sample Room Saloon; John McCartney
Miner's Saloon; Bossi & Valatti

Food & General

James Beer, General Merchandise
George Bosley, Butcher
Francis Chapperon, French Bakery
Pierre Clair, Groceries & Bakery
Foo Yuen, Grocer
Patrick Gannon, Butcher
Samuel Gray, Merchant
Harper & Van Volkenburgh, Meat Market
He Tie, General Merchandise
Samuel Jackson, Butcher
Kai Kee, General Merchandise
Kwong Lee & Co, General Merchandise
Lun Sang, Grocer
William E. McCartney, Druggist
N McPhee, Provision Dealer
John Q. Romano, Liquors & Merchandise
John A Salter, Druggist
James Stott, General Trader
GB Suitto, Fruit & Candies
Clothing, Grooming & Such

Miss E. Alexander, Milliner
Daniel MacQuarrie, Custom Shoe Maker
Gilmore & Clark Clothing Store
William C. Loye, Shoemaker
Albert Baker, Barber
James Fraser, Sr. & Jr., Watch & Clockmakers
Charles Hentzi, Barber
Hong Lee, Shoemaker
Sam Sing, Washing & Ironing
Mrs. Sebastian, Dress Maker
Yale Barber Shop; George Nickesson
Yeu Kee, Washing & Ironing
Ye Hop, Washing & Ironing
Yuen Wo, Laundry


Alex Atkius, Blacksmith
GF Baskett, Carpenter
BC Express Co., Stephen Tingley
Frank Budlong, Upholsterer
Joseph Burr, Saddler
Canadian Pacific Railway, employing hundreds in all capacities
Clifford Channell, Wagon Maker
DJ Creighton, Expressman
Emile Derdinger, Blacksmith
William Dodd, BC Express Co. & Notary Public
Dominion Powder Works
Douglas & Deighton, Harness and Saddlery
Ellison Mining Co.
Phil Gorman, Telephone Constructor
WW Gibbs, Attorney
William Harrison, Stationary & Books, etc.
Benjamin A Hill, Dairyman
Demont Hoar, Saddler
Hudson's Bay Co.
James Hutchinson, Painter
Inland Sentinel, newspaper
Frank Jarvis, Accident Insurance Co.
Kimball & Gladwin, Commission Merchants
Andrew Leamy, Barrister
James & Thomas McBride, Stoves & Tinware
Andrew Onderdonk, Contractor & General Manager, CPR
Pioneer Line of Steamers; agent, FW Vincent (Frances Barnard owner)
AH Scovill, Cabinet Maker
Albert Smithers, Book Keeper
Steamboat Exchange; F&N McLennan
WC Stratton, Florist
Henry F. Thrift, Bricklayer
Howard Tilton, General Freight Agent, CPR
Uriah Nelson



Upon completion of the CPR Yale settled into a quiet state; she would never regain her previous importance despite a brief resurgence during the Canadian National Railroad construction in 1911-12. The buildings that had once lined the thriving Front Street gradually gave way to rot and disrepair; the majority of these buildings disappeared between 1920 and 1950.
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