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Alfred Carmichael fonds
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Alfred Carmichael business records

The series consists of correspondence, minutes, reports and agreements of the Saseenos Water, Light and Power Co., documents pertaining to the B.C. Oil and Coal Development Co., Cameron Lake Timber, the Fraser-Cariboo Gold Syndicate, Port Alberni Syndicate, Towner Park subdivision; coal mining on Vancouver Island, mining leases in the Horsefly River area and property in Victoria, B.C.

Alfred Carmichael business records

Business records of the Oak Bay Lands Ltd., including correspondence, minutes, indentures, agreements, conveyances, prospectus, balance sheets etc. 1923-1936; Port Alberni Syndicate Ltd. 1909-1928 and the Investors Syndicate Ltd. 1933-1936. Carmichael was either Managing Director or Chairman of these enterprises. Alfred Carmichael was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1874, the son of a flour mill owner, and was educated at the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast, Lymn Grammar School, Cheshire and Manchester Technical School. At the age of 16, some time after his father's death, he came to Canada to make his fortune and then return to Britain. He reached Victoria in October, 1890 and found the city suffering a depression. His cousin, Herbert Carmichael, had preceded him to Victoria and his brother Norman followed later. He tried for a job in the machine shop of Albion Iron Works, but found that 40 had applied ahead of him. So he obtained a job in the boiler shop as a rivet heater at 10 cents an hour. The following year he began work at the Aberdeen Salmon Cannery on the Skeena River, supervising the filling of salmon cans. Then, in September 1892, he went to work for Robert Woods, the contractor for the building of the first paper mill in British Columbia, on the Somass River, Alberni. He worked for the paper mill company, which his cousin had organized. However, the mill had a serious fault. It lacked machinery to make paper from wood pulp. Such machinery was expensive and it was hard to raise capital, so the mill made paper from such materials as rags and old rope. Eventually the mill shut down as it was losing money. Alfred Carmichael began operating the sawmill attached to the paper mill. Logs and lumber were cheap and so he was able to run the mill at a profit. A self taught surveyor, Alfred Carmichael surveyed British Columbia coast water power sites for Scottish interests and reported favorably on the Powell River. Later he crossed in a skiff from Texada Island to Powell River and staked out the power site for a Victoria syndicate which later sold to Brooks/Scanlon interests. In the early 1890s he went with missionary Melvin Swartout on journeys along the west coast of Vancouver Island and to Barclay Sound and collected material for “Indian Legends of Vancouver Island,” published by Musson Book Company in 1922. Another collection of unpublished legends, illustrated by J. Semeyn, Frank Beebe and Judith Morgan, is held in MS-2305. Disappointed at the outcome of the paper mill affair, he decided to take a new direction, going to Atlin in 1899, where he prospected and placer mined for eight years. He spent the winter of 1907-1908 copper prospecting, timber cruising and locating timber on the Queen Charlotte Islands. With a partner, Alfred Woodcroft, he staked 22 square miles of timber, which he sold for a moderate profit. In the autumn of 1908 he took a contract from the Canadian Pacific Railway to clear the last eight miles of right-of-way for the extension of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway into Port Alberni, taking Charles A. Moorhead (later Lieutenant-Colonel Moorhead) into partnership. He organized the firm of Carmichael and Moorhead Limited to handle real estate and insurance. This company placed the city of Port Alberni on the market. He also organized the Port Alberni Contract Company, which cleared the townsite and rough-graded the roads, and was the Managing Director of the Port Alberni Syndicate Limited. Carmichael married Kathleen Frances Withers on 7 April 1909. In 1911 and 1912 he visited England, and made reservations to return on the Titanic, but luckily because of some business in London he cancelled his passage and returned on the Cedric instead. From 1914 to 1923 Carmichael was Victoria manager of the Franco-Canadian Trust Company, Vancouver Island Fruit Lands Limited and Uplands Limited. He and associates had acquired 30,000 acres of Vancouver Island land which they sold at a profit of $3.00 an acre to the Franco-Canadian Company, but they had to accept part payment in Uplands shares. Then the company that sponsored that housing development folded and had to be taken over by the Franco-Canadian Trust Company, which had lent it shares. The firm of Carmichael and Company Limited was incorporated in 1923. In 1926 Carmichael formed a partnership with David Leeming (who later became mayor of Victoria) in organizing Oak Bay Lands Limited, Victoria Properties Limited and Exchange Building Limited. The Oak Bay Lands Limited bought 400 Oak Bay tax sale lots for $63,000 in 1926. Carmichael and Leeming sold $22,000 worth in two days by auction from a tent at the foot of Oak Bay Avenue, and paid over the money as part of the purchase price. Then came the 1929 slump and the lots lost their value. Oak Bay Municipality was taking possession of hundreds more lots and selling them in competition at lower prices. The company had to let its holdings go for taxes and the balance owing. Carmichael was the president of Victoria Rotary Club in 1929 and president of Victoria Real Estate Board in 1927, 1931 and 1932. In 1952, Carmichael retired because of a heart condition, leaving the real estate business of Alfred Carmichael and Company in the hands of his only surviving son, David. His eldest son, Brian, was lost while flying anti-submarine patrols in the Mediterranean during World War II, and his daughter was drowned in a yachting accident off Orcas Island in 1952. Mrs. Carmichael died in April 1953. Carmichael died on 30 January 1963 in Victoria at the age of 88. Records include the business records of Alfred Carmichael. The bulk of the unit consists of the records of the Oak Bay Lands Limited, including minutes of shareholders, Board of Directors and Annual General Meetings 1925-1936; a ledger listing various financial transactions 1925-1933; a deposit book 1925; Bank of Montreal payments 1925-1930; Land Registry Office notification of registration of titles 1925-1931; and sundry miscellaneous material such as indentures, correspondence, conveyances, prospectus, balance sheets, reports, bills, accounts, shareholders list, land titles etc. This unit also contains minutes of meetings 1909-1928, lists of directors 1909-1921, lists of shareholders 1909-1919, register of transfers 1909-1919 and a stock ledger 1909-1919 of the Port Alberni Syndicate Limited and deposit account books of the Investors Syndicate Limited 1933-1936. Related records in: MS-2305, which contains correspondence, manuscripts, articles, speeches, research notes, diaries, narratives, financial papers and newspaper clippings of Alfred Carmichael 1890-1961; MS-2306, which is the typed manuscript of “Indian Legends of Vancouver Island”; and MS-2307, which contains business records of various of Carmichael's companies 1914-1957.

Alfred Carmichael fonds

  • PR-1239
  • Fonds
  • 1890-1961

The fonds consists of correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, diaries, narratives, financial papers and ephemera, minutes, indentures, agreements, conveyances, paper samples, photographs, maps and drawings. Many of the records relate to Carmichael's entrepreneurial interests.

Carmichael, Alfred, 1874-1963

Alfred Carmichael papers

The series consists of correspondence; research notes for articles and books; diaries and narratives; financial papers; clippings of articles and reviews; and samples of paper produced by B.C. Paper Manufacturing Company, Alberni, 1894. A narrative of a journey from Ucluelet to Village Island, 1896, is also on microfilm.

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