CVABUP2N51 | Big House

Big House
1887, 19th century
12 x 17 cm
This artefact belongs to : © City of Vancouver Archives
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Keys to History

The Big House, a colonial home with a widow's walk on top, was home to Hugh Nelson (1830-93) and subsequent mill managers. The architectural style had been developed in British India, with lots of verandas for ventilation. This type of home was only constructed in the British colonies, and an architectural pattern book may have inspired this version. To bring another hint of high society to the backwoods, manager Benjamin Springer created Burrard Inlet's first croquet lawn and tennis court on the grounds. The estate was, essentially, a symbol of Moodyville's prosperity during the late 1800s. The Colonist newspaper described it in 1881: "On the summit of a beautiful grassy knoll, surrounded by neatly laid out lawns and flower pots, stands Invermere, the elegant home of Senator Nelson, the resident partner of the Moodyville Sawmill Company."

  • What

    This is Invermere, a fancy colonnaded residence nicknamed the Big House, which was built for mill manager Hugh Nelson.

  • Where

    The house was surrounded by lawns and located on the grandly named Knob Hill overlooking the community.

  • When

    The house was built in 1879. This picture was taken in 1888, when the Springer family was living in it.

  • Who

    Benjamin Springer initially found work as a tallyman at the Moodyville mill, then became the bookkeeper and later the manager.