It’s been a while since any single family houses on Richards Street have been able to boast a waterfront view; (that’s False Creek in the background). The photograph is said to show Rev. J.H. Pedley on the balcony, and Mrs. Charlotte Ellen Reed Pedley on the porch. The Reverend was newly arrived in town, and the pastor of the newly built Congregational Church which was also on Richards Street just across the street. The church was designed by William Blackmore, so if an architect was involved in designing the house, it would probably be him.
The Reverend Pedley didn’t stay in Vancouver very long, but fortunately for us he was still here when the 1891 Census was collected, so we know he was English, but his wife was from Ontario. He was aged 34, his wife was four years younger, and the Census shows no other household members. There’s very little more that we’ve discovered about the pastor, who was the first Congregational Minister in the city, arriving in 1888 when the picture was taken. In 1889 the Daily World carried a piece from Winnipeg: “The Rev. J. Pedley, brother of the Rev. Mr. Pedley of this city, is gaining considerable fame in Vancouver as a preacher. His eloquent and stirring sermons are said to draw immense congregations. As a result of his work a good solid church building will be erected in Vancouver this year, the plan of it being similar to that of the Central Congregational church of Winnipeg.” Reverend Pedley’s name was James, and his brother’s Hugh; in 1890 they went on a camping expedition to Rat Portage (which made the newspaper – in what must have been a slow news week). In 1894 it was reported that he had travelled to Montreal, and was returning to Vancouver, but the house was occupied by James Macaulay of James and Macaulay, and the Pedley’s aren’t listed (but neither is a business called James and Macaulay). In 1895 Rev Pedley is back, (shown as Rev J W Pedley – which was his correct initials). In 1896 the pastor was Rev H C Mason, who lived in a different house on Richards Street, and there were four new residents of the house.
In 1912 Rev James Pedley played an important role in creating the United Church from the merger of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations in Canada. In 1915 he published a biography of Lord Strathcona; (Donald A. Smith, the Canadian Pacific director and politician). We know the Pedley’s had at least one son, as the Museum of Vancouver have a ceremonial trowel presented when the church foundation stone was laid in 1888 presented to the Archives by Rev. Pedley’s son, Lieut. Col. James Henry Pedley, in 1936. The 1911 Census shows him aged 18, born in 1892, living with his parents at 23 Harbord St in Toronto. The Times-Colonist reported the death of Rev Pedley in 1933, in Toronto.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P112