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Early Victoria lodge hall
[lodge hall]
The second masonic meeting hall at 1130-1140 Government St.
Two pioneer firms of old Victoria
By Edgar Fawcett.
c. December 10, 1918.
The pioneer of all business firms doing business in this pioneer city of Vancouver Island today is Hibben & Co., who established themselves under the firm name of Hibben & Carswell in the month of December, 1858, or 60 years ago. Mr. Thos. Napier Hibben was an American, and a man of means when he arrived in Victoria, the family is well known, his cousin today being principal of Princeton University. Mr. Carswell was an Englishman, and also a man of means.
ln Mailandaine's Directory of Victoria and Vancouver Island, issued in March 1860, appears the firm's advertisement on the first page. A cut of the firm's store also appears, and looks little different today as it stands on the S W corner of Yates and Langley streets. The latest fashions are shown in the cut, the ladies wearing bonnets, and crinoline with parasols and shawls. My mother wore the counterpart, at that time, and might well have been one of them. The firm started business in a wooden building, a little lower down the street until the completion of this brick building.
My first acquaintance with the firm dates back to 1860, and under these circumstances. At the midsummer examinations of the Colonial School (Burr's School) I was presented with a book prize, by Governor Douglas, and on reading the book, The Violet, I found some leaves were sewn in, out of place, and I had to stop reading, and went next day to Hibben's store, where it was procured to change it. It is many years since that day, and, many visits I have paid to Hibben's store since and the attraction of books will take me there I hope many more times. I think hardly ever go to town without calling, and always make myself at home, for which I am excused, I am told. The firm for some years has been composed of the widow of the founder and Mr. William H. Bone, the latter entering the firm as a youth and employee in the year 1871, later on buying an interest.
The founder of the firm arrived in Victoria in 1858, and was a native of Charleston, South Carolina, crossing the plains in 1849. Later on he established a book and stationery business in San Francisico but selling out to Bancroft the historian, who published later, his history of the Paciflc Coast. Having disposed of his business interests in San Francisco, Mr. Hibben turned his face toward Victoria, where he again entered the stationery business, in connection with James Carswell, this they carried on together until 1866 when Mr. Hibben bought out his partner, and for some time carried on the business alone. I admired Mr. Hibben very much and I think it was this, that took me to the store so often for he was ever ready to welcome me, and, we frequently conversed, and on many subjects. He was a strongly conscientious man, who was highly respected by all, for hls genial disposition, and business integrity.
I might say in passing, that the upper portion of the building on Yates and Langley streets was occupied by the well known photographer G. R. Fardon, also the society of Free Masons. When the Hibben's moved later on to Government street, opposite their present pretentious quarters, the Free Masons followed to the same building.
One thing more in conclusion. The site of the Hibben-Bone Building is the site of the northeast corner and Bastion of the Fort of 1846, and the Theatre Royal in 1862.
It is easy to see by the evolution the firm's business quarters, that they have prospered, which prosperity can be attributed to falr dealing business acumen.
In speaking of the Hudson's Bay Co. there is little I can say more than I have said in my past writings, for to write of Victoria in early days, was to write of the Company, for at one time they were the one and only business firm, and continued the principal business house for many years until they moved to Vancouver. I saw the building of the large brick structure on Wharf street in 1860, and many is the glass of old port I have had down in the celler, it being a practice I think in the wholesale trade with the Company, and (my father was a wholesale customer in carpets, and uphostery goods) to ask them downstairs at times to have a smile. The staff of the store, as I remember then, was W. T. Livock, J. M. Wark, J. P. Kennedy, David Work, and Donald McKay, and not forgetting Bond the cellerman, I think these will all be remembered.

Reprinted from an undated newspaper article written by Edgar Fawcett (1847-1923), author of Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria. Toronto : William Briggs, 1912, hc 294 pp.


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