Local History Advent Calendar 2018 – Day 24 – Mandarin oranges

When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day.  These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits.  I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Day 24: Mandarin oranges have been a seasonal tradition in BC for 130 years…

Easy to peel, no seeds, and super sweet… who can resist? Photo: C.Hagemoen

For the most part of the 20th Century, the arrival of the first shipment of Japanese Oranges in Vancouver unofficially marked the start of the holiday season. It was a much-heralded occasion. Sometime in the third week of November news would appear in the local media announcing the arrival of the first shipment of Japanese Oranges to the port of Vancouver, signalling that Christmas would soon be here.

The earliest account I could find of Japanese oranges arriving in BC for the Christmas season was from the December 5, 1888 issue of the Nanaimo Daily News, announcing that they had arrived for sale at George Calvasky’s Fruit Store on Victoria Crescent in Nanaimo.

It is believed that the Oppenheimer Bros. and Company (founded 1858) were the first importers of Japanese Oranges to British Columbia for the general market. According to their website, it was was in 1891 that the company sold their first Japanese mandarin oranges.  This date does not match up with the one from the Nanaimo Daily News, so perhaps the Oppenheimer Brothers weren’t the first importers, but they were certainly the largest. Nonetheless, we have been enjoying mandarin oranges in this part of the world for over 125 years.

I recently wrote an in-depth post about Christmas oranges which you can read here.

Seasons Greetings to you all! I hope you have enjoyed my Local History Advent Calendar, I have enjoyed the challenge of bringing it to you.


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