FRASER HARRY LANTZ - FOUNDER OR BOUNDER?
Fraser Harry Lantz was a Canadian mine promoter, living in Seattle who headed up a group of mostly U.S. investors who re-financed Grant’s Mine in 1919. There are two stories about how the community took his name. One was that the Canadian Post Office needed a name change because there was already a “Grants” B.C. and Lantz’s name was put forward by the investor group. The other is that F.H. Lantz, who is reputed to have had a healthy ego, attached the re-naming to the re-financing. By 1926 when the Mine missed a payroll and closed, Lantz was long gone from the consortium.
Lantz never spent a night in Lantzville. According to old-timers, he visited from Seattle on a number of occasions. He stayed at the Wellington Hotel and rented a large black horse to tour the district and visit the mine workings. George Copley encountered him several times and reported that Lantz was always dressed in a black suit, complete with bowler hat. He was always smoking a cigar. Copley said that if he or other locals greeted Lantz or waved to him, Lantz would raise his chin, turn away and never respond. “Like a country squire” said Copley who had encountered the real thing in the Old Country and may have been prejudiced. Why Lantz rented a horse in the 1920s and did not come by car, we don’t know. Perhaps it was the condition of the roads.
The other information we have about Lantz is quite interesting. Fraser Harry Dimmell, not Lantz, was born in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia in 1868. Joseph Dimmell, the father registered on Fraser’s birth certificate, had been dead for two years when the boy was born. His mother, Sophia, later married a man named Lantz and the boy took this man’s name.
Young Lantz went to the Yukon in search of gold and is reported on one occasion to have encouraged his companions to keep moving on a dangerously cold overnight trek by threatening to shoot them.
Fraser’s mother, who had been a housemaid, withdrew contact after Fraser innocently mentioned in a letter to her that the “maid” was outside picking flowers. He did stay in contact with his sister Queenie.
Fraser Harry Lantz experienced several reversals of fortune during his life. After his Yukon experiences he turned up in Merrit B.C. where he managed the Nicola Valley Coal and Coke Company. After Merrit, he started a mining promotion business from an office on Hastings St in Vancouver where he also sold insurance. In 1916 his properties, including his house in the West End, four lots in Strathcona, fourteen lots in Hastings Townsite and 12 acres on the North Shore were foreclosed upon. A newspaper clipping indicates that he had defaulted on payments on an owed sum of $18,700. These properties, previously worth close to $80,000, had slumped to $40,000 in a real estate decline. He relocated to Seattle and resumed his mining promotion interests with new partners.
In 1900 his first wife, Joanna Noble, gave birth to a daughter, Florence. The following year in Victoria, Joanna became one of B.C.’s first automobile fatalities in an accident while learning to drive. Fraser married Mabel Cripps in 1905. They had a son, Claude. Mabel died of tuberculosis. All that we know about his third wife is that she too was named Mabel and that she also predeceased him. Fraser Harry Lantz was laid to rest in Vancouver’s Fraserview cemetery next to all three of his wives.
B Blood and L Reeve, Lantzville Historical Society
Captain Allan Cabot of Lantzville
It is not surprising that a young man born in Wallasey, across the Mersey from Liverpool in 1908, would become a seafaring man. In the 101 years since his birth, Captain Allan Cabot has seen much of the world from the bridge of Blue Funnel Line ships.
Captain Cabot went to sea on a merchant ship at the age of 15 as an apprentice seaman. He spent his 16th birthday in the Indian Ocean on a return trip from China and Japan. He qualified for his 2nd Mate ticket in 1924 and received his Master’s papers in 1934. Blue Funnel operated a prestigious training facility in Birkenhead, adjacent to Wallasey. Before modern radar and GPS, navigation relied on celestial observation with manual instruments and Blue Funnel ships’ officers “shot the sun” manually at noon every day. Before WW2 Cabot made many trips from the UK to the Orient and Australia.
During WW2 the Admiralty assumed control of the British merchant fleets and Captain Cabot made six convoy crossings of the Atlantic. None of the ships he commanded were torpedoed but several ships nearby were sunk and his crew were involved in rescues.
Nearing the end of the war the British Admiralty had the former Blue Funnel ship Menethseus, which had been requisitioned for war service, converted at a shipyard in Vancouver to serve in the Far East as an “amenity” ship for Navy personnel stationed there. It didn’t sail until ’46 when the war was over. Captain Cabot was asked to serve as 1st officer. Indian independence and postwar demobilization curtailed the mission after 18 months but that short service is fondly remembered by the Captain. The Menethseus had a crew of 100 merchantmen and 180 Royal Navy personnel. It contained a 400 seat concert hall, a marine band and its own brewery. In its short service the Menethseus entertained 48,000 servicemen in locations that included Shanghai, Hong Kong, Trincomalee, Tokyo Bay and Kure, the closest serviceable port to Hiroshima which the Captain visited.
In 1948 Captain Cabot returned to merchant ships, sailing out of Vancouver for five years. He met and married Pat in Vancouver and they raised their two daughters in West Van and tended 18 acres at FortLangley. In 1953 the Captain came ashore to work for the next 20 years managing the docks for Canadian Stevedoring from an office at Lapointe Pier. His crackdown on lawlessness helped clean up the docks but gained him some enmity from the legendary miscreants on the waterfront. He led a sea cadet corps and was a founding member of the Master Mariners Association of Canada during his years in Vancouver
After Pat died Captain Cabot retired to his present home in Lantzville where he has enjoyed a long retirement and where he celebrated his 100th birthday last October. The event was attended by family, old friends and colleagues from all over the world including his “sea cadets” now in their 60s. Everyone connected with Captain Allan Cabot describes him as an honorable and ethical man who has always stood up for what was right.
A further interesting fact about Captain Cabot is his direct male-line descent from the 15th Century explorer Giovanni Caboto known as John Cabot in English. The Genoese born Venetian citizen sailed for Henry VII of England and discovered Newfoundland in 1497. The French pronunciation of Cabot (silent t) used by the English and Canadian descendents of Giovanni derives from the residence of his widow on the then French speaking Island of Jersey after the death of the explorer on his second voyage to the New World.
Note: Captain Cabot died in 2010, several months after these interviews were done. The last interview was conducted at his bedside in Nanaimo Hospital.
Lantzville Historical Society
Traffic Fatality in Pleasant Valley
April 27 1912
Thomas Blood of Broughton Farm, Wellington District was killed on the Comox Road in Pleasant Valley at the Dunbar Farm gate when an automobile driven by Thomas Hooper spooked Blood’s horse causing him to be pitched forward from the two-wheeled horsecart and crushed under a wheel. The cart was loaded with cedar shakes Blood was taking into Nanaimo for sale. Automobiles were rare in the district in 1912 and drivers were sensitive to their impact on horse traffic. The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act required drivers to stop their vehicles on any public road and shut off their engines if asked to do so by any person in control of a horse. Hooper had pulled over to the side of the road to let the horse cart pass and when the animal became frightened he got out and grasped the bridle in an attempt to control it. When the horse lunged, Hooper was thrown into the ditch as Blood was being thrown forward off the cart. The passengers in the automobile, R.F. Taylor, H.A. Ross and A.S. Buchart also attempted to help but were too late. Hooper turned his vehicle around in the Dunbar Driveway and took Thomas Blood to Nanaimo Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. The inquest returned a verdict of accidental death.
B Blood (information provided by John Cass and the Blood family)