Jim English behind the bar at the Quinsam Hotel. The Campbell River Museum website says

On the trail of Jim English

Genealogist tracks down legendary Campbell River hotel owner at request of family

Laurel Lahay/Special to the Mirror


I read the query by Mari English Rose from the U.K. in the Campbell River Mirror on Feb. 8 regarding her search for the family of James (Jim) Albert English (owner of the Quinsam Hotel) and his wife, Margaret Marshall who used to reside in Campbell River.  She also mentioned two children: Robert and E.C. Higgins.

I’m a member of the Campbell River Genealogy Society. While I was not able to help her find her living Canadian relatives, I was able to provide her with some useful information about this family along with the applicable websites.

I decided to send my reply to the Mirror in order that this information may assist others with their family history research and to let others know about the resources offered online as well as through the Campbell River Genealogy Society.  There are many B.C. online databases that are free to access.

Many images of B.C. death registrations are now online for the years 1872 to 1991 at B.C. Archives ( http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy/BasicSearch).

I located the death registration for James Albert English. As Mari stated, he died in 1961 in Campbell River, and when I viewed his death registration, I discovered that he had been divorced. His occupation was given as “hotel operator,” and although he died in Campbell River, he was cremated and then buried in Victoria at the Royal Oak Burial Park.  The informant on his death registration was listed as his son, R. English.

The B.C. Archives website has many online images of marriage registrations from 1872 to 1936. I found the marriage registration of James Albert English to Margaret Marshall. At the time of their marriage in 1921, the occupation of James was listed as a pool room operator in Cumberland, B.C. Margaret’s place of birth was given as Scotland.

There was also a death registration for Elmer C. Higgins from Campbell River.  He died on Jan. 24, 1966 and his wife’s name was given as Margaret English and she was the informant at his death.

According to the death registration of James A. English, his birthdate was recorded as Feb. 3, 1884, in Durham, England. On a whim, I checked the Library and Archives Canada – Soldiers of the First World War database but could not find an attestation paper for James Albert English (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/001042-100.01-e.php).

The Campbell River Museum website has a photo of Jim English working behind the bar at the Quinsam Hotel and a few other related photos.

The date of the Quinsam Hotel photo was given as circa 1963.  Since Jim English died in 1961, the photo would have actually been taken in 1961 or earlier.

When searching for people currently living in Canada, Google: Canada411 – Advanced Search (http://www.canada411.ca/search/advanced.html).

B.C. directories are available online through the Vancouver Public Library from 1860 to 1952 (http://www.vpl.ca/bccd/index.php).

Listed in the 1952 directory for Campbell River, James A. English appears at the Quinsam Hotel as well as his son, Robert English as a lodger.  Elmer C. Higgins, truck driver is listed in Campbell River in 1952.

B.C. Voter’s lists are available at www.Ancestry.com which is a pay-to-view website.  I checked the 1935 B.C. Voter’s list for James Albert English and he appears as ‘hotel keeper’ in Campbell River. In 1949, Robert English, is listed on the B.C. Voter’s list in Campbell River with his wife Gabrielle. His occupation is given as: logger.  J.A. English is listed as ‘hotel owner.’ Elmer C. Higgins and his wife both appear on the Campbell River voter’s list in 1962.

To locate a family on the 1911 Canadian census, search the following website: http://automatedgenealogy.com/census11/.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ website (https://familysearch.org/search) has been revamped with thousands of new records. It’s a great resource.

Jim English is mentioned on pages 115-117 of the book, River City – A History of Campbell River and Discovery Islands by Jeanette Taylor. There is a good photo of him on page 117.

He appears to have been a very colourful character and before buying the Quinsam Hotel, he had previously been the owner of the store and Fisherman’s Lodge at Oyster River.

Taylor includes this caption under the photo of Jim in her book: “He was a charming and forceful community leader who is said to have made a stake by bootlegging from his tavern on the Oyster River during the prohibition era.”

For local residents and visitors interested in family history, the Campbell River Genealogy Society  library is situated at the Maritime Heritage Centre and is available for public use at no cost, however, only society members can take out books.

Ancestry.com is available free of charge on the society library computers and volunteer librarians are ready and willing to assist the public with how to go about their research.  The library is open on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Enter through the lighthouse door or phone the library at 250-286-8042 for more information. Check out the society’s website which has been created by Christol James: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bccrgc/  and discover the obit database and many other interesting projects.

Added note:  After sending a reply to Mari English Rose in the UK, she responded saying that she received an overwhelming response from local residents to her query in the Mirror newspaper.  Local resident and genealogist, Pat Masters, knew the English and Higgins families personally and was also able to send her vivid recollections to Mari.