The fonds consists of the business records of Pemberton Holmes Ltd. and its predecessor companies, including Pemberton & Son, Pemberton & Son Ltd. and Pemberton, Holmes Ltd. It also consists of records which relate to personal business activities and personal family matters. The records were created between 1859 and 1989, with the bulk of the material dating from the founding of Pemberton & Son in 1887 to approximately 1950. The records document the business and economic life of the province, and many aspects of social history. The geographic scope of the records includes the entire province of British Columbia, and to a lesser degree, parts of the Prairie Provinces and Washington State. Of particular significance are records for Victoria, Oak Bay, Port Alberni and southern Vancouver Island, Vancouver and the lower mainland of British Columbia.
The company records are evidence of a wide range of business and legal transactions, including the brokering of private mortgages, property sales and transfers, the renting of residences and small business premises, insurance purchases and servicing, estate management, and investments in industries such as mining. The parties to the business and legal transactions range from large companies and institutions to the average person wishing to rent or purchase a house, lot or farm. The records reflect that a major client of Pemberton & Son was the Anglican Synod of the Diocese of British Columbia, for whom the company served as financial agent.
The company remained a family enterprise, and it appears the principals of the company tended to maintain personal records intermingled with company records. Frederick B. Pemberton was principal trustee of the J.D. Pemberton estate, which included large land holdings in Oak Bay, which over time were sold and subdivided. The records reflect the fact that the management of the family estate was integrated with the activities of the company. Furthermore, just as his father had farmed in Oak Bay, Frederick operated a farm in Gordon Head and an 1100-acre farm at Cowichan Station; the records generated by these operations were closely interwoven with the company. Similarly, in the case of Brentwood College, the principals of Pemberton Holmes Ltd. had a personal involvement in its founding and management, and at the same time, their company had a business relationship with the school. Personal records include but are not limited to: tax returns, insurance policies, and records concerning purchase and sale of securities, goods and services. They also consist of family photographs, ephemera, and correspondence. The latter includes letters from J.D. Pemberton to his daughter, the artist, Sophie Pemberton.
The fonds includes approximately 2750 business files, originally in docket envelopes, which made up the main filing system of Pemberton & Son and its successor companies. Most of these files consist of client transaction records, including business and legal documents with accompanying correspondence. A majority of the files concern specific properties or lots, and relate to the sale, conveyance, mortgage, rent or lease of those properties. A smaller number relate to a person, estate, organization, company, or subject, but not to a specific property. The physical housing of these files was, in most cases, a string-bound, reinforced, docket envelope, which contained the folded documents. The fonds also consists of a large group of financial records, including 103 bound ledger books, journals and cash books. There originally were links between these financial records and the docket files, but it is often not possible now to establish those links, and significant gaps exist for both groups of records.
Other textual materials include correspondence, annual reports, minutes of directors and shareholder meetings, monthly and annual financial statements and reports, tax returns, legal documents including wills and other estate records, records for real estate sales particularly in the Greater Victoria area, and routine office records. Records of some clients (notably, relating to an estate) have been maintained as they were originally filed, in their own series. There is a smaller amount of ephemera, including newspapers, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, and collected published material including brochures and pamphlets.
The records include published and unpublished maps, fire insurance maps, subdivision plans, blueprints, architectural drawings, advertising display materials, and photographs of the Pemberton Holmes buildings and various buildings and locations in Victoria and the south Vancouver Island region.
The fonds also contains business and personal records of Frederick George Pennington (Fred) Maurice, who worked for the company for 52 years (ca. 1926-1977) and who became a director of the company. In the 1980s, in his retirement, Fred Maurice wrote an unpublished history, which is a part of the fonds. Largely anecdotal in nature, his manuscript covers Pemberton and Holmes family history (ca. 1850 to 1940) and company history (ca. 1887 to 1940). In the course of his research, it appears Maurice removed some records from their original locations. His handwritten annotations and bookmarks also appear on or with some of the records.
The Pemberton & Son office building at Fort and Broad Street, Victoria, BC, was destroyed by fire on March 23, 1909. In his history, Fred Maurice attributes "significant blanks" in the company's early records to this fire.
Pemberton Holmes Ltd.