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James Wilson of Toy Cottage, Brownsville

March 14, 2014

James Wilson (1883) Section 35, B5N R2W – Brownsville BC

James Wilson moved onto Section 35 in August of 1883 at the age of 67.  Born in Ireland, he had emigrated to Canada while still a youth.
James Wilson mapThe section Wilson took up was bisected by the New Westminster and Yale Road, three miles above Brown’s Landing on Fraser River.  The district was densely forested: to the west lay the timber holdings of the Moodyville Sawmill Company and to the east the tract later known as the Green Timbers.
A half-mile to the north lay a large bog, a reliable source of berries and game.
As isolated as he was–the only other settler was Martin Nelson a mile west–Wilson would have steady contact with travellers passing by on the trunk road.
A widower, Wilson had a son living in Windsor, Ontario. Early on a second son lived with him from time to time, sharing the work of developing a homestead. At the time of the 1891 census, a John Wilson lived with him.
James Wilson lived in a rather modest house,  12 by 14 feet in size.
According to HT Thrift, Wilson’s  homestead went by the name  “Toy Cottage, Brownsville.”
It is evident he put his energy into developing his farm.
By 1887 he had “5 acres cleared, ploughed and cultivated.” Two acres of this was a stoutly fenced orchard with 150 trees, the rest partly fenced.
During his first year on the land Wilson could keep no livestock,  “for want of feed and pasture.”  Four years later, he had a cow and a calf, 13 sheep, 12 turkeys, 15 ducks,  and 30 chickens.
According to Nils Hjorth, Wilson sometimes had more cattle.
Outbuildings included a cattle shed, hog pen and chicken house.
There was also log house 18 x 14 feet in size.
Wilson had dug four wells for water and had trenched  “considerable ditching also.”
Vouching for James Wilson’s application were John Douglas and Nils Hjorth, both of whom declared that Wilson settled here before them.
James Wilson was one of many old men in BC who had no one to tell their story.  He is believed to be the James Wilson, born May 7, 1816 in Ireland, who died August 29, 1904 at the Provincial Home for Old Men at Kamloops.   The Provincial Home was established to care for the many pioneer miners and settlers of this Colony and Province who had no family to care for them in their old age.
The obituary read:

“James Wilson died at the Provincial Home last night, aged 86 years, and was buried this morning, Rev. Dr. Osterhout conducting the service. The deceased was a native of Ireland and was admitted to the home in 1901, coming here with several others from the Columbian Hospital, New Westminster.”

After Wilson’s death section 35 was broken up.
A portion was held by Aage Buck, forest ranger and first postmaster of the Timberland Post Office.
The King George Skytrain Station stands on James Wilson’s old Brownsville homestead, and the Fraser Highway intersects with the King George Boulevard.

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