Friday, February 15, 2013

Captain Edward Stamp

This home on Woodland Drive was built in 1912. 

Today I am going to tell you about the third legendary lumberman - a stuffy Englishman with a general disdain for the 'colonials' of the inlet by the name of Captain Edward Stamp.

Edward Stamp was born in Alnwick, Northumberland, England on November 5, 1814. Stamp obtained his master's certificate in 1851. During the Crimean War, in 1854, Stamp was captain of the steam transport Emeu. There was a great storm off Balaklava in November of that year and Stamp managed to bring the Emeu into shore undamaged. 18 ships were lost in the storm and 12 others were dismasted.

Stamp first visited the north Pacific coast in 1857 when he came to the Puget Sound to load lumber to take to Australia.
This building at 1007 Odlum Drive appeared in 1912.

Stamp returned to these shores in order to purchase spars, ship timbers and lumber for two London Firms. Captain Stamp could see the possibilities in this new country.

In 1858, when the Fraser Gold Rush began, Stamp established a commission and importing business in Victoria. He also made substantial land purchases in Vancouver Island, Victoria and Langley.

The Captain was interested in a variety of enterprises. While in England during 1859, Stamp tried to secure a contract for a steamer service to run between Victoria and San Francisco. He got close but a change in government thwarted his efforts. Negotiations were delayed so Stamp was forced to return to Victoria without that set up. He did however manage to form a syndicate to establish an export lumber mill on either Puget Sound or Vancouver Island.

After negotiations with Governor James Douglas in Victoria, Captain Stamp built a mill on Alberni Canal (now called Alberni Inlet). The mill was completed in 1861 with an initial export shipment to Peru. Stamp was apparently a somewhat difficult character to deal with and he resigned from management of the mill in January of 1863. There was a wealth of timber in the area but the mill was failing. The difficulty lay in that the equipment available at the time was not capable of processing the large trees that grew in the region and soon the mill ran out of logs. The mill shut down at the end of 1864 after producing 35,000,000 board feet of lumber.

Stamp tried his hand at mining and prospecting for copper in the Alberni Inlet and on Tzartus and other islands in Barkley Sound. But he soon returned to lumbering.

  In 1865, Stamp was instrumental in forming the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber and Saw Mill Company. The company had 100,00 pounds to buy timber limits and establish a mill on the Burrard Inlet.

The first site chosen for the new mill was on what is now Stanley Park but the currents were too strong, making it hazardous to dock sailing ships. Therefore, the mill was built a little way east, on the south side of the inlet.

Machinery for the mill was shipped from Glasgow but one box was left behind. This delayed the start of operations until June of 1867. Stamp kept busy in the meantime, exporting spars to places such as San Francisco, Australia, Peru, Mexico and China. It all seemed to be going so well until once again Stamp once again had problems with his principals and he resigned as manager on January 2, 1869.

Stamp was somewhat of a politician. He served as a member of the Legislative Council of British Columbia in 1867 and 1868. He had a lot going on. He built an office building in Victoria, had a ship-chandlery there and became interested in the fish curing business. He was convinced that fish packing was the wave of the future and began a journey to England to raise money for this enterprise. It was on that mission when he died of a sudden heart attack.

That little mill that Stamp started in Burrard Inlet? It went into liquidation and in February of 1870 was sold for a fraction of its value. Under the new ownership, it rose like a phoenix from the flames and became the famous Hastings Mill and the centre of where the city of Vancouver grew from during the 1880s.

The information on Captain Stamp was derived from the website Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online and the data of the buildings from Bob_2006 at

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Very interesting article.

    1. Thank you not only for reading this entry but also for taking the time to comment. I am so glad you enjoyed it.