Andrew James McMurtrie (1861-1935) was a member of Ashlar Lodge No. 3 who became one of the Charter Members of St. John’s Lodge No. 21 in Wellington 1892.
He became the owner of the Abbotsford Hotel in Wellington. In 1900 he disassembled the Abbotsford Hotel in 1900 and moved it from Wellington to Ladysmith on the E & N Railway.
Here is a brief biography of Andrew James McMurtrie from Greg Bertrand, one of his descendants:
“Andrew James McMurtrie
Andrew James McMurtrie, Born April 26, 1861, Dailly, Ayrshire, Scotland. Son of coal miner James McMurtrie and Margaret Neill McMurtrie nee Bryden. As a teenager in 1876 he started his first career in horticulture as an apprentice gardener. The 1881 census of Scotland, when he was 19 has him living in the town of Dumbarton, Dunbarton County as a lodger, occupation gardener (domestic servant). Dumbarton is possibly where he came up with the name of the Abbotsford Hotel. There was an Abbotsford Hotel in Dumbarton when he lived there and still is today. His gardens at The Abbotsford Hotel in Wellington and Ladysmith were quite a wonder, in particular his Rose Gardens.
In 1882 he left for North America. I have only been able to find one reference of Andrew McMurtrie in passenger lists. 1883 arriving in Illinois, USA. He travelled across the US working as a coal miner and railroading. In 1886 he arrived in Wellington BC, Canada. He came to Wellington to visit his uncle John Bryden. John Bryden was a good friend, son-in law and mine manager for Robert Dunsmuir.
In 1888 A.J. McMurtrie married Edna Wall, born April 26,1867 in Nanaimo BC, daughter of Thomas Wall and Hosannah Harris. Thomas Wall was a respected businessman and owner of the Wellington Hotel. A.J. McMurtrie and Edna Wall had 4 children, 2 of which lived to adulthood.
He was a member of Ashlar Lodge, No.3, A.F. & A.M. in 1892 as a Master Mason. A Charter Member of St. John’s Lodge No. 21 in Wellington BC and a member when it moved to Ladysmith in 1901.
Andrew James McMurtrie worked in the Wellingon coal mines until 1892 when he opened up a haberdashery (men’s clothing store) until 1895. With the help of investors he built the Abbotsford Hotel in Wellington in 1894.
At sometime during his life in Wellington A.J. McMurtrie was acting Fire Chief and had purchased a fire fighting apparatus, the locals dubbed it The McMurtrie. I can’t seem to find my records of this.
A.J. McMurtrie was the Mayor of Wellington during 1898 and 1899.
He was very active in the sporting scene. A member of the Crescent Cycling Club of Wellington. Active hunter and fisherman. He owned 140 acres of Qualicum Beach along the Little Qualicum River down to the waterfront. This property he would use for taking businessmen that were guests of The Abbotsford Hotel hunting and fishing.
Excert from The Wellington Enterprize, Wellington’s local newspaper at the time.
“ Last Sunday four members of the Crescent Cycling Club of Wellington made the run from Wellington to Victoria, covering the entire distance in 12 hrs and 20 minutes.The next day they put their cycles and themselves on the train and came on back home. The four enthusiastic wheelmen were Andrew Bryden, manager of the Wellington Mines and nephew of Mr. Dunsmuir; John Mathews, T.F. Haggert and A.J. McMurtrie, manager of the Abottsford Hotel. The quartet left Wellington at 5 a.m. and reached Duncan in time for Breakfast. Just after passing Shawnigan Lake, a series of mishaps occurred, such as broken chains and cranks, and this delayed the riders. Wellington is justifiably proud of it’s athletes and we have a fair share of them.”
In 1900 when Wellington Mines were depleted A.J. McMurtrie along with 6 other hotel owners and several of the townspeople tore down their hotels, houses, businesses and livelihoods and moved them via the E&N railway to Oyster Harbour (Ladysmith) and rebuilt. Here they thrived in the booming shipping port of Ladysmith until the strike of 1912.
In 1904 A.J. McMurtrie sued the Town of Ladysmith. This was the town’s first lawsuit. All the town’s rain water coming down Gatacre St. were flooding the Abbotsford Hotel’s basement and storage area.
Andrew James McMurtrie lived in Ladysmith until his death on Jan. 4th 1935. He is buried in Nanaimo Cemetery on Bowen Rd.”
We will get a photo of Andrew James McMurtrie’s grave in Bowen Road Cemetery and post them below.
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