It’s back! I has been 3 years since I published my last Local History Advent Calendar! So much has happened since that last time—including the publication of my first book, Mount Pleasant Stories—that I figured it was about time to dust off the Local History Advent Calendar once again. Similar to a regular advent calendar but instead of chocolate treats, each day you “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder– 24 facts or stories about local history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.
East of Watson Street, at that time called Howard Street, beside the Brewery Creek ravine, once stood the family home of Joseph Benjamin Wallace (1868-1953) and Marie Alba Stark Wallace (1870-1966). Marie was the second youngest daughter of Sylvia Estes Stark and Louis Stark, early Black pioneers who settled on Salt Spring Island in 1860. Marie Stark married Kentucky-born Joseph Benjamin (J.B.) Wallace in 1897. The couple settled in Mount Pleasant around 1908.
J.B. Wallace owned a successful janitorial contractor business and was a leader in Vancouver’s early Black community. The Wallaces were active members of the Fountain Chapel A.M.E. Church. Marie was part of a group of women that canvassed for funds in 1921 to raise money toward the purchase of the church building at 823 Jackson Avenue. J.B. Wallace became its Sunday School Superintendent in 1932.
J.B. and Marie resided at 230 East 10th with their five children, save for a few years around World War I when they lived at 404 West 16th. By 1921 the Wallace’s returned to the house on East 10th. According to the Canada Census of that year, their oldest daughter Ethel had married Sidney Kibble Claibourne in 1919 and the young couple was living with the Wallaces at 230 East 10th, along with their baby daughter, Naidine. The Wallaces lived in Mount Pleasant until around 1944 when they relocated to Salt Spring Island. By the late 1940s the house had been subdivided into suites and furnished sleeping rooms. The site is now the location of Claude Douglas Place managed by Vancouver Native Housing Society.
You can find more about the Wallace/Stark family and other Mount Pleasant stories in my walking tour book, Mount Pleasant Stories. Copies are available for purchase in Mount Pleasant at Pulpfiction Books – 2422 Main Street and in Chinatown at Massy Books – 229 E Georgia St. It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favourite local history buff!