Alden Wesley Huson (1832-1911), also known as West Huson, was a Vancouver Island entrepreneur, promoter, trader, and businessman with interests in a salmon saltery and cannery at Alert Bay, a coal mine at Suquash near Fort Rupert, and a quarry on Haddington Island.
A.H. Huson, also known as “West” Huson, was born in Oneonta, New York in 1832, the son of David Tomkin Huson and Sally Jackson. A.W. Huson arrived in British Columbia in 1858, and by 1867 he was living in Victoria and running the Adelphi Saloon. He established a close friendship with the photographer Stephen A. Spencer and opened a salmon saltery at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, with Spencer acting as his agent in Victoria. Huson had obtained a lease to the entire island around 1870 and established a cannery, but by 1880 his lease was reduced to 160 acres as a result of the allotment of most of the island as an Indian Reserve. He transferred his interest in the cannery to Spencer in 1884. Huson married Mary Lyons, a First Nations woman from Alaska, also known as Ekegat, in 1873, and adopted her son Charlie Lyons. They had at least 9 children together. Although his wife and most of his family lived at Alert Bay, Huson travelled to Victoria frequently in order to trade and negotiate business deals, and later to visit his granddaughter Stella. He eventually moved to Victoria permanently. In his later life, Huson attempted to sue various parties over his rights to the property on Haddington Island. He died in Alert Bay in 1911.
The records consist of correspondence, invoices, receipts, agreements, land and tax records, a genealogy of A.W. Huson’s ancestors, and one photograph of A.W. Huson’s stepson, Charlie Lyons Huson.
The correspondence is primarily inward correspondence to A.W. Huson from his father David T. Huson, his sister Elizabeth Huson, his wife Mary, children Charlie [aka Charley], Spencer, Alfred, David, and George, grand-daughter Stella, friends such as Stephen Spencer, and other business associates. Huson’s stepson Charley lived for a time with Stephen Spencer and his wife “Em” in Victoria while attending school.
The records document the business activities of an early entrepreneur on Vancouver Island, and the life of a significant historical figure on Vancouver Island.
Of particular note is an 1871 letter from Father Leon Fouquet of the Jesuit Mission on Harbledown Island offering to vaccinate Huson’s children against smallpox (File 1); four letters (1874-1878) from Stephen A. Spencer in File 2; 1895 and 1897 letters written by Alfred J. Huson while a student at the Coqualeetza Indian Institute (File 4), and letters from Stella Pamphlet in Files 7 and 8, written while she was a child. Stella was the daughter of Ada Elvina Huson and Frederick William Pamphlet. There are also letters from James McGrath, who ran a store in Alert Bay, Stephen Cook, and A. Mouat of Barkerville.
Barry McClung transcribed many of the letters, and the transcriptions are filed with the originals.