Monday, August 10, 2015

Emma Cook in Vancouver Before the Great War

Emma Cook
Three years after the death of her husband, William Cook, the 1911 Canada Census shows my great great grandmother Emma living in Vancouver with five of her children, including Faith, my great grandmother, Faith's husband, Herbert Saunders, and their new baby, Clara. Emma’s other children living with her are Edward, Samuel, Mary Eliza, and Godfrey. The family has followed Emma's daughter Lily and her family to the west coast of Canada. Emma is operating a boarding house at 1296 Venables, and has eight men living there in addition to her family. The census began on June 1, 1911, and was completed by February 26, 1912, so we know that this was their living situation some time between those dates. The fact that baby Clara is listed as being two months old, and she was born April 8, 1911, indicates that Emma completed her enumeration in June 1911. In addition, she does not appear in the Vancouver city directories until this year, so she has likely come to Vancouver some time in 1910 or 1911.

An advertisement in The Vancouver Daily World from September 12, 1911 is very likely Emma’s, as it mentions “English cooking”, and we know from the city directory that in 1912 she operated her “English Home Bakery”. (I suppose at the time that “English cooking” would be a draw for some people).

Judging from city directories and from advertisements in the The Vancouver Daily World, Emma seems next to be operating both a bakery and a boarding house at 733 and 735 West Broadway from at least as early as November 1911  The following ad from April 23, 1912 shows that she was looking for both a dishwasher and a housekeeper:

I was delighted to see her name in this ad. (Interestingly, the newspaper headline for that day is "More Officers Testify at Titanic Probe: List of Bodies Recovered Increases"). Ten ads appear in for the 735 address from November 2, 1911 to April 23, 1912; and seven appear for the 733 address from July 15, 1912 to June 4, 1913. Oddly her address in the 1912 city directory  is “733”, and in the 1913 it is “735”, when one would expect the opposite based on the newpaper ads. I think we can safely assume that she may have held both addresses at the same time, although she doesn’t seem to be running the bakery in 1913. The majority of the ads are for a dishwasher, mostly at ten dollars per month with room and board, which later goes up to fifteen dollars. Five of the seventeen ads call for someone to help with the housework at twenty dollars per month, also “sleep in”. Curiously, no ads for room and board came up as they did in Winnipeg. Maybe she was doing better at finding tenants than at keeping a dishwasher! She may have needed extra help as her daughter Faith had two young daughters by November 1912 and had moved out with her husband, (but only two blocks away at 517 West Broadway). Son Samuel was also out of the house, living with Faith.  Only Mary Eliza, Edward, and likely Godfrey are now still with their mother. Mary Eliza’s occupation is “waitress”, and Edward is a “lather” as is Samuel. Edward marries Mabel Winnifred Mills on June 21, 1913 and lives in the Lower Mainland for the rest of his life.

The 1914 and 1915 Vancouver city directories show that Emma living at 877 Hornby Street. She is described only as a “widow”. Mary Eliza is listed with her in 1914, but not in 1915. She may already be married to William Foster at that time and living in Manitoba again. Godfrey is likely on his own, since from at least the age of sixteen he is a “salesman” and making more money than his adult relatives. I found this ad from November 29, 1913 for where Emma was living:

I next found this notice for an auction at her residence dated May 26, 1914. The owner at the time was selling off all the contents. Emma was still living there in 1915, so she likely was able to stay during the transition of ownership. It is an interesting look into the past as it describes the furniture and decorations, and that the boarding house had ten rooms. It helps us to visualize what her home was like in addition to being "warm" and costing $4.50 per week:

(In case you were wondering, a "sanitary couch" seems to be a kind of a folding day bed, which can be used for sitting or sleeping).

In 1916, Emma is back living in Winnipeg, closer to most of her family. She is now sixty-seven years old and living with Mary Eliza and her husband. I have found no further evidence that Emma ever operated another business. I checked on Google Maps, and none of places where she lived during these years still exist today.

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