The Hudson’s Bay Company Building is a large one-and-a-half storey log building constructed in 1866 ideally situated on the southeast corner of Carson Avenue and Front Street in Downtown Quesnel, BC. In 1985, this building became an official Municipal Historic Site. The historic place includes the building and the parcel of land it occupies.
The Hudson’s Bay Company Building is located in Downtown Quesnel which is the commercial and administrative center of the city. While not in its original form, the building is a physical reminder of the people and businesses that shaped the development of Quesnel.
The original Hudson’s Bay Company Building was built and owned by Gustavus Blin Wright in 1863. Gustavus was a local pioneer and road builder who constructed many roads in the area. In 1862 he was awarded the contract to build a road from Lillooet to Alexandria. He also built stables to make a terminal for his winter freight sleighs that ran between Quesnel and Cottonwood, which at the time was a small settlement. He owned the first steamship, ‘The Enterprise’, which transported goods to Quesnel from Soda Creek. The boiler of ‘The Enterprise’ is on display at Ceal Tingley Memorial Park-Heritage Corner across the street from this building. Gustavus wanted to have the quickest transportation business in the area by water and land. He was an enterprising businessman who owned a lumber mill at the mouth of the Quesnel River with Jerome Harper. Gustavus operated the General Merchant and Fur Trading Depot in this building until 1866 when it was purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Wright family is recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with a street named in their honour.
The building is named for the Hudson’s Bay Company who owned this building for fifty-four years. Before purchasing this building in 1866, the company rented several buildings in Quesnel. The building was renovated in 1882 with the addition of a frost free cellar, and in 1909 the exterior logs were covered with dressed lumber. The Hudson’s Bay Company also had an outlet in Barkerville but after the devastating fire of 1868 that destroyed the town, the store was closed and all the salvaged stock was moved to Quesnel. The decline of the Hudson’s Bay Company in Quesnel began when wholesalers, such as James Reid Estate General Merchants and Marion’s Store competed for the Hudson’s Bay Company’s business. In 1918, the Hudson’s Bay Company officially closed at this location and later sold the building to Charles Allison in 1920.
For many years, Charles Henry Allison had operated his drug store next door to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Charles and Frances (Cane) Allison came to Quesnel from Ontario. The couple was very community minded and involved in many organizations. Charles was on the Board of Commissioners at the time of Quesnel’s incorporation. As well, he was the president of the Board of Trade and a Councillor of the Pharmaceutical Association of BC District 7. Charles was a Freemason and the first master of the Quesnel Masonic Lodge and then he went on to be the District Deputy of Grand Lodge of BC. Charles organized the Fire Fighting Committee and he was the first president of the Quesnel Curling Club. Frances Allison was also involved in community activities. She was on the Hospital Women’s Auxiliary and was involved in the formation of the Quesnel Library.
Charles operated his drug store in Quesnel and at Soda Creek. The drug store in Quesnel also included an ice cream parlour, book store and post office. The post office moved from the store in 1944 when the new post office was built on Reid Street. The Quesnel Telephone Company switchboard was located in Allison’s drug store. The Allison family is recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with a street named in their honour.
In 1948, Charles retired and left the company to his assistant James R. Kelly. James and his wife Sally leased the building and operated a drug store until 1955. The Hudson’s Bay Company Building was later sold to G. A. Forster who operated an automotive parts supply store.
In 1964, Aveline (Moffat) Hill purchased the Hudson’s Bay Company Building and did a complete restoration of this historic landmark in Downtown Quesnel. She was married to Lynn Hill who was the son of pioneers, Frank and Mabel Hill. Aveline was the daughter of pioneers, Harry and Jeanie Moffat. The Moffat Bridge built in 1971 is named for Aveline’s family. Aveline was born at Lansdowne Farm in 1898 and attended school in Quesnel. Once she finished her education, Aveline worked as Charles Allison’s assistant in the post office when it was located in this building. Together, Lynn and Aveline ran Hill’s Meat Market on Front Street for forty years. They also had a branch outlet in Wells from 1937 to 1969. The local radio channel CKCQ aired Aveline’s editorial show ‘A Line from Aveline’ where she was outspoken on current affairs and politics. Lynn and Aveline retired from their meat shop business in the 1970s. The Moffat and Hill families are recognized for their contribution to the development of the community with streets named in their honour.
The character-defining elements of the Hudson’s Bay Company Building include:
- building was constructed in 1866, alterations and outside improvements in the early 1900s, and sympathetic restorations in 1964;
- log cabin design has logs running the full length of the wall with dove-tail corners;
- a spacious attic for storage;
- two windows on the west end of the building and one on the north side of the building adjacent to the doorway which was originally another window;
- a veranda of post and beam on the west and north side of the building;
- logs flattened on top and bottom;
- mud chinking;
- angled wood strips;
- hand sawn corner joints;
- thirteen rounds high;
- log ceiling joists and rafters;
- four-over-four windows in roof peak on west side;
- false front balcony on upper half on west side added after 1914.