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Jeremiah Rogers and Ebenezer Brown

May 10, 2016

Ebenezer Brown was a trusted friend of Jeremiah Rogers, the pioneer lumberman of “Jericho” at English Bay. Brown was instrumental in securing for Rogers ownership of his logging camp and homestead,  a parcel of land that was part of a Government Reserve. The two men ran against each other in an election, yet shared a common interest in promoting the welfare of the Mainland, lobbying for the Fraser Valley route for the national railway. Lastly, Brown was named an Executor of Rogers’ estate, selling off Rogers’ other properties to ensure an income for his young daughters.

A Google Map locates the properties described in this post.

Early Lumbering on Puget Sound, Vancouver Island and Burrard Inlet

Jeremiah Rogers was cutting spars on Puget Sound in 1859 when he was engaged by Edward Stamp to cruise for spar trees on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Captain Stamp was one of British Columbia’s earliest capitalists and promoters. He is remembered here for making the first application for crown land in the new Colony, having penned a letter to Colonel RC Moody in December 1858, before Moody had even set foot in BC, asking to preempt Hall’s Prairie on the Semiahmoo and Fort Langley trail, not for himself, mind — he was not the settler type — but for his sons.

Jericho - Burrard Inlet Map - 1925 -Archives CanadaWhen Stamp moved his mill from Alberni to Burrard Inlet a few years later, Rogers established a logging camp at a cove on the south shore of English Bay, east of Spanish Bank. There were steams of fresh water and an expanse of beaver meadow afforded an opening in the woods.

In June 1866, while HMS Sparrowhawk was anchored opposite the Camp at New Westminster, Captain EA Porcher was invited over to Burrard Inlet by Captain Stamp to see his new saw mill.  Later called the Hastings Mill,  Stamp’s Mill was the start of industry in what is now Vancouver.

“We then went on in the Canoe to English Bay, to see the Spars that have been felled for the French Government, which are on the average from 110 to 120 feet in length, and 36 to 39 inches in diameter. One very fine one we saw measured 111 feet and 38 inches in diameter, that had only one very small knot in its entire length. 35 were already on the beach, squared and ready for shipment, besides many more in the same state in the wood, and all generally clear of knots. The trees in this Inlet make better Spars than those growing in Vancouver Island, as they are better protected from the wind, and consequently straighter and not so tough,as those that are directly exposed to the strong Westerly winds the whole year round. A carpenter of the name of Rogers was superintending the work with 9 men, and seemed to get through their work very quick.”

More than a carpenter, Rogers was an able lumberman known for his innovative logging practices. Oxen and log slides were augmented by the conversion of road steamers into log haulers.

In August 1873 Rogers was reported to have finished a boat for towing logs across the Inlet. His eldest daughter proudly christened with a bottle of wine the steamer named after herself. The “Maggie” was reported at the time to be “the first vessel built at Burrard Inlet.”

Private Interests and Public Policy

Rogers entered politics in 1875, competing for one of two seats representing New Westminster District in the Provincial Legislature. He finished out of the running. Populist Ebenezer Brown topped the polls.

Letters written by Ebenezer Brown to Jerry Rogers in 1878, transcribed by Robert Watt and included in the article “My Dear Rogers” (BC Historical News, April 1976), indicate that Brown and Rogers were often political allies and close confidants.

Brown, more than anyone, was an effective proponent of the Fraser Valley route for the national railway, and he enlisted Rogers and “the people of Granville,” in support of the cause, which proved to be especially beneficial to the site of the future city of Vancouver. The interests of Granville residents were those of Rogers, as indicated by this news from 1875.

“A public meeting was held at Granville a few days ago, at which the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Moved by Mr Alexander, seconded by Mr McCrimmon,

That the increase of population at Granville and English Bay necessitates a more direct mode of communication than now exists.

Moved by Mr John Deighton, seconded by Mr J Rogers,

That a stage road by False Creek will be most beneficial, as it will meet the wants of Granville, form part of the proposed road to the North Arm of Fraser River, and can at any time be extended to English Bay—an extension which the importance of that part of the District even now demands.”

The old Douglas road to Brighton and extension to Granville was viewed by Granville interests as a roundabout route not in the best interest of their upstart town.

RH Alexander, Gassy Jack Deighton and Alex McCrimmon were all Granville lot-holders. Jeremiah Rogers, supplementary to his English Bay camp, purchased lots along the False Creek and North Arm roads.

The Jericho Land Claim

As Jeremiah Rogers was one of MLA Ebenezer Brown’s constituents, Brown represented to the government Rogers’ application for a grant of 160 acres at the site of his logging operation on English Bay.

February 18, 1878, Ebenezer Brown to Jeremiah Rogers:

“My dear Rogers: All that can be done I have endeavour (sic) to do in advocating your claim for the one hundred and sixty acres at English Bay — The Ministry have promised me that they have no objection granting your request which I will urge upon them the necessity of doing at once. I fully expect the Session will be over in two weeks that is the most important questions that are likely to come before the House.. .”

It was not an easy task,for the land was designated a Government Reserve, and besides, the Admiralty considered it had dibs on it as a Naval Reserve.

DL 448 - Jericho - from 1937 Map at Vancouver ArchivesRogers had made considerable improvements to the property, including houses and other buildings, fences, gardens, etc.  The government was inclined to grant him a trifling 10 acres, but agreed to enlarge the parcel, designated District Lot 448,  in order to encompass all Rogers assets. Thus it was:

“That out of the reserve on the south side of English Bay, 16 acres were conveyed by Crown grant to one Jeremiah Rogers, by authority of Orders of the Honourable Executive Council, approved on the 10th and 22nd June, 1878.”

The order was signed by one “Jno. Robson.” John Robson, no mean axe-man himself, had, in 1860, attempted to chop his way into ownership of a piece of property opposite New Westminster. His claim was denied by the government, which then sold on the property to. . . Ebenezer Brown.

For details of the wranglings over property on the left bank of the Fraser River opposite New Westminster, see the first post on this blog: “Not the Country for Serfdom: Land Settlement and Roadmaking Opposite the City of New Westminster, 1858 – 1879.”

It was a far cry from the 160 acres Rogers asked for — which was normal size of a homestead grant. Still, it was a victory to get any portion of a government reserve.

Compare the long struggle of the Herring family for a grant of a portion of a Government Reserve opposite the Camp on Fraser River: “Face-off at Herring’s Point.”

The Jeremiah Rogers Estate

Jeremiah Rogers died on October 23, 1879. In his Will he named his wife Sarah Rogers, James Cunningham and Ebenezer Brown as Executors of his Estate.

Roger’s only son, Captain Lincoln Rogers, was bequeathed the Jericho property where Rogers had first started logging on English Bay.

1880 06 10 Jeremiah Rogers lots for sale by E BrownEbenezer Brown was entrusted to sell off Rogers’ other properties to fund a trust for his daughters.

Accordingly, in June 1880 Brown advertised four properties, comprising 640 acres of land — an irregular-shaped square mile.

Although not so choice as the English Bay homestead — one of the finest pieces of real estate anywhere — the four lots lay on and between the two roads leading west from the city of New Westminster: the road to False Creek and Granville, and the North Arm road to Point Grey.

Jeremiah Rogers grave - Fraser Cemetery - 1879

The gravestone of Jeremiah Rogers in the Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster BC.

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