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Historic house of Ebenezer Brown lost

August 11, 2014

house at Brown's landing - 1888 viewA house destroyed by fire on this date in 1896 is reported to have been built by Ebenezer Brown around 1870 and afterwards occupied by Marshall Martin English of the salmon cannery.



In the first week of August of 1896 the Fraser River salmon run is so large that it has  "surprised the oldest fishermen" and the canneries are receiving "more fish than they can conveniently handle."  At New Westminster bush fires raging in the suburbs threaten to burn out residences in the West End of the city.

It was 11:15 in the morning of August 11th that the alarm came in from across the river. Chief Ackerman and the reserve squad not occupied fighting the bush fire boarded the ferry Surrey and crossed to the south side.
Due to the foresight of her builders, the Surrey was ably equipped as a fireboat and could direct five streams of water from the river to buildings on shore.
However, by the time the boat and crew reached the landing on the opposite side of the river the house of Donald Stewart, milk vendor, was "entirely consumed" by the flames.  The fire crew did manage to preserve the wharf and sheds at Brown’s landing.
The Vancouver Daily World reported that "The burned out premises are locally historical."

"The house was built by Ebenezer Brown a quarter of a century ago and was afterwards for several years the residence of MM English. The old freight sheds were once a salmon cannery, one of the three first salmon canning factories on the Fraser River and are now the property of James Punch."

We cannot confirm from other sources that this was indeed a house occupied by Ebenezer Brown although he was certainly the owner.
Brown owned the land on both sides of the road from 1861 until his death in 1883.
Around the time this house was said to have been built, the property was under lease to  Robert Johnson, who resided here with his family and operated a Hotel. 

Salmon Cannery - Fraser RiverIn 1877 MM English opened the famous English & Company Cannery in buildings constructed on the wharf and foreshore.  A new wharf for steamers was added in 1881.
Wharf, house and sheds can be seen in the header photo of this blog. 

It was typical of cannery sheds to be built out over the river and fish offal dropped directly into the stream.



That the English family resided locally is confirmed by the birth certificate of William Barclay English,  born at Brownsville BC, November 23, 1877.

After the death of Ebenezer Brown in 1883, the property was purchased by James Punch.

The identity of Donald Stewart,  the "milk vendor" reported to be occupying the house, is not known,  perhaps the same Donald Stewart who earlier pre-empted land at Mud Bay.

Related posts-

More about the cannery and wharf at The Wharf at Brown’s Landing.

About James Punch see Punch & Quible — Brownsville BC Pioneers.

About the Surrey ferry as a fire boat see  "The ferry ‘Surrey’ — River front fire engine” and “Surrey’s finest hour” –

“Her powerful fire pumps, 18x19x12, are capable of throwing five large streams, besides the killing torrent from the monitor or turret nozzle.”

More posts about the Fraser River ferry Surrey service as a fire boat found here.

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