Friday, April 27, 2012

Adventures of a Haberdasher

He was born in Lanarkshire Scotland in the 1845 and his first job was as a grocery clerk. However, Robert Clark wanted more out of life and 1871 the twenty five year old left Scotland for Canada. Clark was going to work for a Captain Dick in Fort Frances.

Once in Fort Frances, Clark and others decided to travel to Lake Manitoba. It was on this journey that Clark and his companions contributed to Manitoba history.

Clark and a few other men walked for many days through the Lake of the Woods area until the moccasins were falling off Clark's feet. The group was starving and, in desperation, they caught a few muskrats for nourishment. However before the group could partake of their wild feast they stumbled on a lumber camp. The occupants of the camp fed and sheltered the men before they continued on their journey.

No longer in bare feet Clark was now outfitted with high heel boots. These weren't easy to walk in though and the skin on Clark's feet was soon rubbed off. He faced a dilemma. He couldn't keep up with his party with such sore feet so he discarded the boots and walked barefoot through the snow and brush.

The party of adventurers did stop for one night at Point Lachine where the men slept on a floor wrapped in blankets. Then they proceeded to walk the thirty-six miles to Winnipeg.

Robert Clark was lame, quite lame actually, but he soon began active work and built the first steamer that sailed on Lake Manitoba.

But what, you may ask, does this have to do with the fine city of Vancouver BC?

Clark moved to the United States and worked in various cities there. After that he moved to Victoria in 1875. In 1880, he opened a men's store in Nanaimo, which he moved to Yale a year later. That store burned down and Robert Clark decided to give a brand new city a try. In 1886 he moved to the newly incorporated Vancouver.

Here he opened our city's first men's clothing store on Hastings street. As well, on September 22, 1887 Clark chaired a meeting of local businessmen. Out of that meeting the Vancouver Board of Trade was born.
If you would like see a photo of Clark and Vancouver's first men's wear store then visit this page at the History of Metropolitan Vancouver website. There is also more information on this interesting fellow.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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