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Benjamin John Cornish, 1862-1946, discovery of a pioneer

Benjamin Cornish.jpg

Historical Research


I'm writing an article on this early pioneer, who migrated to Canada from England in 1887 and played a pivotal role in the settlement of the north shore of Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. Cornish was a skilled craftsman and builder, responsible for making the grand spiral staircase in Vancouver's Carnegie Library (1903), and building Fernie's court house, which was completed in the spring of 1908, but unfortunately burnt down in the great fire of August of that year. Cornish, together with his friend William Keene, were two of the earliest settlers on the upper slopes of what is now North Vancouver, and Cornish House, built in 1911 in a Tudor revival style remains as a testament to his legacy.

Carnegie Library 1903.jpg

Vancouver's Carnegie Library, which opened in 1903. Opposite is a recent photograph of the spiral staircase.

Spiral staircase Carnegie Vancouver.jpg
Cornish family tree.jpg

Cornish's family were from Taunton, Somerset, England and can be traced back to the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, an attempt by James Scott, First Duke of Monmouth (the illegitimate son of protestant king, Charles II), to overthrown the newly crowned James II, a catholic – a campaign that failed at the Battle of Sedgemoor. This family tree, compiled by Benjamin Cornish, remains in the possession of his granddaughter, Penelope.

Benjamin Cornish and Daisy Rischmann.jpg

Benjamin Cornish and his wife, Daisy Clara Rischmann, who married in 1899.

Lonsdale Avenue 1910 Resized.jpg

An early photograph of Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, taken in 1910. Passage from the waterfront up the hill had been enhanced by the construction of a dirt road replacing the original skid track used for logging, together with, in 1906, the installation of an electric tram service. 

Benjamin John Cornish and Daisy Clara Rischmann marriage certificate 29 April 1899 2.jpg

Benjamin John Cornish and Daisy Clara Rischmann's marriage certificate dated 29th April 1899

House Front.jpg

Present day photographs of Cornish House

Hall Stairs.jpg
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