Matthew B. Wellburn (1871-1969) was a member and Past Master of Victoria-Columbia Lodge No. 1 in Victoria. He founded and operated Wellburn’s, a successful grocery business which has been in business in Victoria since it was started by Matthew Wellburn in 1912. His family home is still standing at 1331 Grant Street, Victoria.
Matthew Wellburn operated his Wellburn’s Grocery in a landmark Victoria building at 1050-1058 Pandora Avenue / 1508-1516 Cook Street. The building was built in 1912 for David Russell Ker (also a member of Victoria-Columbia Lodge No. 1) by architect William Ridgway Wilson.
Matthew Wellburn’s family home is still standing at 1331 Grant Street in Victoria.
Here are some Victoria newspaper stories about Matthew Wellburn:
New Year Baby In 90th Year
Oldest New Year Baby in Victoria is Matthew Wellburn, who at 12:05 this morning celebrated his 89th birthday and his 90th New Year.
He was born in Scarborough, Yorks in 1871 as the bells were ringing in the New Year and yesterday he spent all day delivering groceries for Wellburn’s Grocery, 1058 Pandora, which he started in a nearby Pandora Avenue location 48 years ago [in 1912].
Yesterday he pointed to a 1913 City Directory and noted that his was the only grocery listed that is still in operation.
“When I opened out here people said you are neither in nor out of the city. They said I wouldn’t be here long.”, he laughed.
The store is now operated by his son George, but father is still active. he has a son Gerald, a well known stamp collector in Duncan, and another son, Tommy, in the lumber business in Victoria.
Three daughters, Mrs. Mary Foxall, Mrs. Grace Knight and Mrs. Kathleen Richardson, are all in Victoria.
Mr. Wellburn first came to Victoria in 1910, returned to England, and came to settle in 1912.
His proudest possession of a Royal Humane Society medal he won in 1890 for life saving, and a photograph pf himself as a water polo captain of a championship team in Scarborough.
Mr. Wellburn says he is not a teetotaller but seldom takes a drink now.
“I am about the oldest driver in Victoria now. If I got picked up for taking a drink while driving it would finish me for driving,” he laughed.
He has no particular advice for the younger generation. “They are doing all right on their own,” he said.
(Source: Daily Colonist, 1 January 1960, page 13)
Here are some Victoria newspaper reports of Matthew Wellburn’s death and funeral:
“Funeral Here Monday For Long-Active Grocer
Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday in St. John’s Church for Matthew Bertington Wellburn, who died Tuesday night at 98.
Perhaps best known for his grocery store at the corner of Pandora and Cook, Mr. Wellburn served there until only three months ago. His father began a grocery store in [illegible] in England and he began his own store shortly after coming to Victoria in 1911.
His first visit to Vancouver Island was at Duncan in 1910. The next year he returned to England for his family and came back to stay. His son, George, has managed the store in recent years but Mr. Wellburn continued working in the store and delivering groceries.
Mr. Wellburn once did a stint of reporting and, when a young man, travelled to Russia, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the U.S. before 1900.
As a boy he was an enthusiastic water sportsman and was awarded a Royal Humane Society medal and diploma for saving several persons from drowning near his home at Scarborough, Yorkshire.
Mr. Wellburn drove a car until he voluntarily surrendered his drivers license at 93, but still travelled all over Vancouver Island with his daughter, Grace.
He was a generous supporter of St. John’s [Anglican Church] and attended services regularly.
Mr. Wellburn is survived by three sons, Gerald at Duncan, Thomas and George of Victoria; three daughters, Mrs. Molly Foxall, Mrs. Grace Knight and Mrs. Kathleen Richardson, all of Victoria; 16 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson.
Canon Graham Baker and Canon George Biddle will conduct the funeral services and burial will be at Royal Oak.”
(Source: Daily Colonist, 29 May 1969, page 32)
“WELLBURN – In Victoria on May 27, 1969, Mr. Matthew B. Wellburn, in his 99th year, of 1331 Grant Street; born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England and a pioneer resident of Victoria since 1911., being founder of Wellburn’s Super Market on Pandora Avenue. He is survived by three sons and three daughters: Gerald E. of Duncan, Thomas V. and George M. of Victoria; Mrs. Molly B. (Molly) Foxall, Mrs. Grace H. Knight and Mrs. Kathleen M. Richardson, all of Victoria; 16 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson, nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held in St. John’s Church, Quadra Street, on Monday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m. Rev. Canon Graham Baker and Rev. Canon George Biddle presiding. Interment at Royal Oak Burial Park (Flowers gratefully declined). McCall Brothers Funeral Directors in charge of arrangements.
(Source: Daily Colonist, 30 May 1969, page 36)
We will get a photo of Matthew Wellburn’s grove in the near future.
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