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E Brown, Wine & Spirit Merchant, and his successors LF Bonson and A Matheson.

October 15, 2013

1871 03 18 E Brown Wine & Spirit 1st ad MGThe first ad for “E. Brown – Wine & Spirit Merchant” appeared in the Mainland Guardian on March 18, 1871. The next week it took up its prominent position on the front page of that newspaper where it ran without forbid. After Ebenezer Brown died suddenly on June 5, 1883, it was reported that:

“Mr Bonson has been put in charge of the late Ebenezer Brown’s business until the arrival of his son-in-law from Paris.”

Lewis Francis BonsonLewis Francis Bonson, 53, was a former Royal Engineer, having had a long-standing business relationship with Brown.
On the arrival of Brown’s son-in-law, JS Knevett de Knevett,  he  arranged for Bonson to take over the wine and spirit business.

James Punch, proprietor at the Brownsville Hotel, bought that property and a city hotel owned by Brown, the Merchant’s Exchange.

The advertisement for “E. Brown” continued to run without alteration by Bonson.

In May of 1892 it was reported that:

“Mr A. Matheson, late of the Cosmopolitan Hotel is now negotiating the wholesale and retail wine business in the Dupont block lately purchased from Mr. L. F. Bonson. Everyone in the Province knows Alex Matheson for one of the best fellows in British Columbia.”


Alex Matheson - Liverpool Arms SaloonAlexander Matheson hailed from Cape Breton and came to New Westminster in 1883, same year as the Captain Angus Grant.  The Grant family followed in 1884, and Matheson later married  one of Captain Grant’s daughters.

(Captain Grant built the ferry “K de K,”  said to be named for Knevett de Knevett.)


Dupont Block - Front Street - New WestminsterThe Dupont Block,  in which the Liverpool Arms Saloon was housed,  was a large 3-storey building occupying the corner of Columbia Street and McKenzie Street, extending down to Front street.  The length of the frontage on Columbia street covered 1 1/2  full size lots, or 99 feet.

As described by the Globe newspaper,
“The block covers a larger area than any business block in the Province and is built of solid granite and brick and fitted with the most modern appliances in the way of elevator, hot-water heating and electric lighting. . . ”

It is not easy to see where the Liverpool Arms was located in the building — a great many businesses shared the block. The entrance to the saloon was possibly on the west side of the block’s Columbia street frontage,  next to the Holbrook block, or on Front Street.

The building, as did others at the time, exhibited as much confidence in its riverside frontage as it did its Columbia Street address.

This Dupont Block was lost in the fire of 1898 and within a year was being rebuilt, although somewhat scaled-down in ambition.

“Dupont Block — Two-storey brick and stone, 99 x 132.”

The businesses to occupy the block were:

“Dominion Resident Engineer’s, and other offices, above;  occupied, below, by H.T. Kirk, hardware; Liverpool Arms, saloon; Wintemute Furniture Factory; R.F. Anderson & Co., hardware; M. Ross, fruit; Coulthard & Adamson, game; owner, Major T. C. Dupont; architect, G.W. Grant; cost, $35,000.”

As with the former building, the exact location of the saloon is not clear.  Nor does a description in the Columbian, profiling Matheson,  clarify the matter.

“Though he has thrice been burned out he is still doing business at or near the old stand in the Holbrook Block, Columbia street, where he has one of the best appointed saloons in the country, one of the two in this city.”

Not to claim too much for the old home town.

Below left is a photo of the Dupont Block, second version, from about 1900.

The modern view, at right, including the movie theatre facade,  is said to be the same building. Click on the picture at right to open Google Streetview.Dupont Block New Westminster google street viewDupont Block - Liverpool Arms - Columbia Street - New Westminster

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