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John Douglas – a future city centre

March 14, 2014

John Douglas (1883) – Section 27,  B5N R2W – Brownsville BC.

In December of 1883, John Douglas crossed over the Fraser River, passed by Punch’s hotel near the landing and carried on up the Yale Road to the very top of the hill, where he laid claim to Section 27.  He was 66 years old and had come to start a homestead.
John Douglas mapNeighboring his section to the south was the long-held claim of the Moodyville Sawmill company, a section of dense forest.
His nearest neighbor was James Wilson on the next section further out on the Yale road.
Although on the main trunk road, the area was still isolated.  It would be another few months before the public ferry K de K began service, crossing the Fraser River to New Westminster.
Within weeks Douglas had built a log house about 18 x 14 feet in size.
Over the next three years he cleared about 7 acres of his section and had partially cleared another 4 or 5 acres.
Douglas lived alone for the first few years, with no family present.
In addition to his house, Douglas had a barn, 27 x 20 feet with  two stables attached 20 x 12 feet, a hog pen 20 x 9, and a chicken house 12 x 8.
He raised crops of hay, potatoes and oats and from time to time kept hogs and chickens.  He had no cattle or horses.  In 1887 he took off about three tons of hay.
He had enclosed his fields with about a mile of fencing had done some ditching and had two wells.
His homestead on the Yale Road was sometimes referred to as “the Douglas ranch.”
Vouching for John Douglas were James Wilson, who predated him in this area, and Nils Hjorth, who arrived the following summer.

John Douglas was active in the community and an elected trustee of  the Brownsville School Board.
The census of 1901 notes Douglas’ occupation as “trader,” indicating he kept a store, likely on the Yale Road which passed through his property.

John Douglas was a popular choice as a reference for local settlers. Those he vouched for included Martin Nelson, James Wilson, Nils Hjorth, Edward Ingebrigtsen, James Prestidge, Nils Sandell and Joseph Rush Edwards.
John Douglas was recorded having been born May 23, 1832. So far we have seen no account of his demise.


After John Douglas:  Joseph Rush Edwards, George Troughton, George Holland

Intimately connected with John Douglas and residency on this section of land are the names Edwards, Holland and Troughton, all of whom acquired portions of Douglas’ Section 27.

Joseph Rush Edwards of Shropshire, England resided for some time  on  this section.  A widower, JR Edwards married the widow Caroline (Laurence) Holland, also born in Shropshire.

Caroline’s daughter Hannah Holland married Michael R Barry,  Irish-born bartender at the Brownsville Hotel, and after his death she married George Troughton.  Troughton, an Englishman, also lived on a lot in John Douglas’ Section 27.

Caroline’s son George Holland also acquired 19  acres of  the property.

Alice Holland and Holland Park

Holland Park and Central City are located in Section 27, the former homestead of John Douglas.

Central City from Holland ParkAfter the death of George Holland, his widow Maria and his daughter Emily Alice Holland made an arrangement with the municipality that allowed them to live on the property as long as they lived,  and then the  land would be deeded parkland.

Alice, a former pupil of Brownsville School,  “wished others to have the same opportunities that she herself had enjoyed  to wander through the woods.”

Emily Alice Holland (1902-1981).

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