SBI (Saltspring Bureau of Investigation)


As most will know we have Naomi Hart, Rev. Wilson's great great granddaughter on the island right now researching her family.  We were chatting about the old house they had built and thought it would be nice if she could have a momento from it.  I went in search of just such a thing and found someone who had two window seat covers still in their shed.

What is of interest to me is that chalked on the bottom is the name Bittancourt.
Were they builders or did they have a sawmill?  Trying to figure out why their name would be on these windowseat covers.

Reid Bittancourt was a well-known builder on the islandc.1900. Chris

Len Bittancourt was a builder, turn of the century. Built lots of Island homes.

Oops! I meant Len's dad, Reid Bittancourt (Abraham Reid) - as Chris said.


I wouldn't assume that the windowseat covers were necessarily from one of Reid Bittancourt's houses. Reid lived up Ganges hill before he moved down to the bottom of the hill in the early 1900's.
 Estalon Bittancourt also lived on Salt Spring around the same time as Reid. (I presume he was a brother of Reid's, but I don't know for sure). Estalon built a store in Vesuvius back in the 1870s, at the head of the wharf. The Vesuvius Pub was built on the same site after the original building burned down.
 Estalon built what were referred to as "dowry" houses, along the head of Vesuvius Bay. The "Bittancourt House" museum on the Farmers' Institute property, was one of them. The seat covers could have come from one of those houses.


Bob's right - Reid was not the only Bittancourt builder.
What is now the Heritage House Museum was built ca.1886 by Estalon Bittancourt.
Estalon was Reid's uncle, who came to Salt Spring in 1863, with his brother, Reid's father Manuel Antoine Bittancourt.
According to the 1901 census, Estalon was born in early 1839, Reid was born in late 1867. Estalon died 1917 - Rev. Wilson retired 1911, and died 1915 aged 71.
So, as Bob says, they were around at the same time.

Reid was nearing 30, and his uncle Estalon in his later 50's, by the time the Rev. Wilson family would have been thinking of their need for windowseat covers (later 1890's).
But Reid was no rookie. And Rev. Wilson may have had more contact with Reid in the Central area, and the later beginnings of the Ganges area.

Although born on Salt Spring, Reid worked as a carpenter where he was trained, in Victoria. According to his son, Len (SSIA Tape 4) he was "well trained in the old way - planed out his own mouldings". He only returned to Salt Spring to settle back in with his family, after he suffered an injury. And he seems to have kept contact with Victoria's builders.

Harry Bullock chose Reid Bittancourt to build his beautiful place about 1897. Mr. Bullock was neighbour to Rev Wilson. Both Mr. Bullock and the Rev. Wilson were involved in the starting of the Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association, which got Central Hall built (everyone lending a volunteer hand), and in 1901 Mahon Hall was constructed with Reid Bittancourt as the person in charge. In 1904 Reid Bittancourt was awarded the contract to build the Creamery in Ganges (Embe Bakery) with Robert Mason of Victoria.

Charlie Beddis might be another contender for assistance in the building of Rev. Wilson's home (Charlie Beddis learned to build with his father, constructing with him the Beaver Point schoolhouse in 1885 at the tender age of 11 or so. I think he also worked with his father in building St. Marks church. Did he finish it for Wilson?) Charlie Beddis built the Stevens Boarding House, where Rev. Wilson stayed on first arriving on Salt Spring.

Charlie Beddis and his brothers, and Reid Bittancourt, were "the local builders" after the turn of the century - they built, or helped each other in the building, of a number of dwellings such as the Blackburn House 1911 (Salt Spring Centre of today). Reid also built for Edwin and Cecil Abbott - Beddis Road; and others my memory won't let me recall at the moment. Sue, did Reid Bittancourt assist in the building of the Tripp Road house for W.T. Mouat?



Someone should attempt entry to the Heritage House Museum - Sue? - to scout around for chalked-up Bittancourt signatures under windowseats, windowsills, what-have-you.

Photo links - I suggest the two Bittancourt stores. Compare and Contrast. Discuss.

Estalon probably built his own home/store (Vesuvius ferry terminal area)
Reid probably built his own home/store (foot of Ganges Hill)

Estalon's home/store:

Reid's home/store:

Estalon p.11 of Snapshots of Early Salt Spring Island (that is, Toynbee Collection) - Bittancourt Collection would have a portrait shot?
Reid p.18 of Snapshots of Early Salt Spring Island (that is, Toynbee Collection)

Gardening help supposed to be here already - will hunt down later the portrait URL's if they exist.
Frank, get out the secret fingerprint files, and I'll bring out my trusty array of magnifying glasses...



Hi Barb,
Again, I've been away all day, and won't have time until at least tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon to elaborate on the thread of today's exchange of messages. Meanwhile:
1) I'm indebted to Usha for sorting out the Bittancourt relationships.
2) I've viewed the photo of the writing on the seat covers that Frank posted on the web site. I'm curious about the word that follows the name "Bittancourt". Would it be "Bros."?
3) Since the thread of this "conversation" started out with Naomi Hart and her great grandmother (a daughter of Reverend Wilson, and who married Fritz Walter), and although the conversation has developed into information about the Bittancourts, there WAS an indirect relationship between the two.
A "Wilson" bought the Vesuvius store that Estalon Bittancourt built. I believe it was "Keith" Wilson, a grandson of Rev. Wilson's, but I need to do some research before I can contribute definitive information.
More later.


Yes - it is Bros. - Bittancourt Bros.


I will go hunt down the Bittancourt Bros of various kinds!
(I might start doing a graphology investigation of the nature of the writer - however, do we know that the writer would be a Bittancourt Bro? Could be a lackey, or )Rev. Wilson

Meanwhile, here's another pic of Estalon's home/store



I think that it was written on the pc. of wood by someone who was sending it to the jobsite for the Bittancourt Bros. Note there is a number on there as well. Perhaps an invoice number????


Thanks, Barb, for confirming that the second word was "Bros.". Unless Usha advises otherwise from the census records she has, I will assume that Reid did not have any brothers. (I remember Reid from when he built the service station where Shell now is, and lived in the back with his wife and son Bert. But I don't remember any other Bittancourts of Reid's vintage living on Salt Spring in the 1930's). Proceeding on the assumption that Reid didn't have any brothers, the "Bros." would logically be Reid's father, Manuel Antoine Bittancourt, and Antoine's brother Estalon.
Re the numbers "28661" on the seat cover, I agree it could be an invoice (or shipping) number, but that's an awfully high number for those pioneer years of settlement in B.C.


Ah, Bob, do you know if Antoine was around on the island steadily enough to be a working Bro?
He seems to have missed census visits.


Further to item 3 of Wednesday's message, I've now been able to track down the indirect relationship between Naomi's Reverend Wilson and Estalon Bittancourt.
1) As already "discussed" in this thread of e-mail messages, Estalon Bittancourt built and operated a store in Vesuvius going back to the 1870's.
2) Reverend Wilson's second son, Daniel Keith Wilson, purchased the Vesuvius Lodge in 1940 or '41. (I don't know who from, but there were probably several intermediate owners between Estalon and the Wilsons).
3) My recollection is that the Vesuvius Lodge (and ancillary operations) were operated by Keith's son (Doug?) through into at least the late 1940's. (I could elaborate on that, but it's not pertinent to the thread of this current "discussion").
P.S. Hello Naomi, I've copied you with this in case of interest. (I'll e-mail you separately to follow-up our previous exchange of e-mails. I'm curious to learn what you found out about your great-grandfather Fritz Walter while here)


Dear Everyone,

Fritz remains elusive, though I am with another cousin and she has dug out hundreds of photos which I hope I have scanned and will send to Frank soon. Also spoken to Dick Thuillier (grandson of Winnie and Fritz) who says there was another house on the old Esquimalt Rd called 'Winfrith' and we have found undated photos of starting construction of SSI Winfrith and completed ones only around 1930s. Was the SSI one only built this late in fact? Does this change info on the brothers?

Am about to hop on a plane tomorrow. I'll be in touch. Thank you all for your time and generosity.