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I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Story of a Miner and His Son: The Two John Mochars, Nanaimo BC, circa 1896



Little Johnny Mochar was photographed sometime around 1896 by John Wallace Sampson at Sampson's Diamond City Studio in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC.  According to David Mattison's Camera Workers website, which has an inventory of early BC photographers, John Wallace Sampson purchased his studio from E. L. Boyden in 1886 and was in business for approximately six years (or perhaps closer to ten years as this photograph appears to have been taken in 1896).  The photograph is identified, "Johnny Mochar" on the reverse. 

There is an entry in the BC Marriage Index, 1872-1935 on Ancestry.com, that shows John Mochar married Christina Tausche in Nanaimo on the 24 November 1894.

In the 1901 Canada Census, the spelling of John's surname is Mocher.  The family is living in Nanaimo South:
John Mocher, 42, b. Dec. 15, 1868, Austria, imm., 1888., occupation: coal miner
Christina Mocher, 38, b. Nov. 30, 1872, Austria, imm., 1893
John Mocher, 16, b. May 14, 1895, BC
Frank Mocher, 9, b. Apr. 12 1900, BC

Sadly, Frank Joseph Mochar, died at age 3, on May 3rd, 1903 (British Columbia, Canada, Death Index, 1872-1990. Ancestry.com)

It's very rare to locate documents that let us "hear" the voice of the people we research. In my search for information on the Mochar family I discovered that John Mochar, Sr. was called to provide testimony in the "Report of the Royal Commission on Industrial Disputes in the Province of British Columbia," issued by the Department of Labour, Canada in 1903.  Coal miners at the Extension mine had voted to unionize, and the Wellington Colliery Co. Ltd, owned by Mr. Dunsmuir, was now under investigation for their treatment of the workers.  While a bit too lengthy to include in the body of this post, I have provided a link to that testimony, taken at Extension, BC on May 8, 1903, here.  It's interesting to note that Mochar is testifying only five days after the death of his son, Frank Joseph.  I discovered a fascinating book at my public library that takes a detailed look at the coal industry in Nanaimo and Ladysmith, BC as well as the business practices of the Dunsmuirs.  If you are interested in this subject, I highly recommend John R. Hinde's When Coal Was King.

I'm not sure what John Mochar, Sr. did for employment immediately after leaving his mining job, but on the front page of the December 2nd, 1905 issue of the Victoria newspaper, The Daily Colonist, a report on Nanaimo businesses states, "The Nanaimo Hotel property of Robert Evans, who for thirty years has successfully conducted it, was sold tonight to John Mochar."  The 1909 & 1910 city directory listings for Nanaimo show John Mochar as the proprietor of the Nanaimo Hotel.

There would soon be more changes for the Mochar family.  In the 1911 Canada Census I found the family on the mainland at 1035 Pender Street in Vancouver, BC, where John Mochar operated a "lodging home."  He had 15 tenants at that location.  The Mochar's Argyll Rooms Lodging Home has been gone for quite a while now, replaced by high rises and business towers.  John Mochar, Jr. has two more siblings on that census:

John Mochar, 42, b. Dec. 1868, Austria, imm., 1888.
Christina Mochar, 38, b. Nov. 1872, Austria, imm., 1893
John, 16, b. May 1895, BC
Johanna, 9, b. Aug. 1901, BC
Joseph, 5, b. Oct. 1905, BC

John, Sr. moves the family to 3510 Sophia in 1915, and then to 475 Broadway, where the family will reside until at least 1940.  In the 1920 Vancouver directory, John, Sr. is operating a grocery at 479 Broadway. 

John Mochar, Jr. headed to the US for work sometime between 1915 and 1917 because he registered (as an alien) for the World War I Draft in Washington State.  According to his draft registration card, he is living on South Mission, in Wenatchee and is working as a farm hand for Bart Svetko.  The birth information on the card matches the information shown above.  John, Jr. doesn't stay there long, and is back in BC by at least 1920.

In the early 20's he appears to be employed at his father's grocery, and then becomes an insurance agent for New York Life.  In 1930 John Mochar, Jr. gets a clerk job with Vancouver City Parks, a job he holds for many years.

In May 1934 John, Jr. marries (Laura) Mary Owens.   John, Sr. died on the 24th of April 1945 at the age of 76 in Vancouver.   Christina Tausche Mochar passed away in 1936.  John, Jr., died on the 18th of December 1972, in Vancouver.  He, too,  was 76 years old.

John Mochar, Jr. and his wife Laura Mary (d.1978), are buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

1 comment:

  1. Such an adorable photo! I hope it finds "its way home"!

    ReplyDelete