BELL, Henry Wesley born Douglas, Isle of Man & died 1920 Vancouver, B.C.
Henry Wesley BELL – Great Grandfather
Henry Wesley Bell was born at 3 Tynwald Street, Douglas, Parish of Onchan, Isle of Man on the 28th August, 1885. When Henry was just 14 years of age his mother died. His father was very ill at that time and was not capable of caring for Henry, who was then cared for by his father’s sister, Annie Amelia and her husband Eli Barnett, residing at 10 Fairfield Terrace, Tynwald Street, Douglas. While living there, he was recorded as being a "Wood Carver Apprentice". In 1902,when he had just turned 17 years old his father died, leaving him and his sister (Doris Mamie) orphans.
On the 16th of July 1903 onboard the vessel “Runic” Henry travelled to the Cape,South Africa. According to family rumour, Henry attempted to get work with the DeBeers Consolidated Mining Co., however, this has not been determined.
Henry met his future wife, Violet Steven, in South Africa and the couple were married at Krugersdorp in the District of Witwatersand, Gauteng in South Africa, on the 24th September 1906. At the time of their marriage Henry was employed with the Robinson Gold Mining Company in Randfontein (about 35 km from Krugersdorp), and living in the company’s housing estates. Henry stayed in South Africa for some 4 ½ years, travelling back to the UK on the 23rd December 1907, arriving at Plymouth. Only 3 months later Henry travelled to Canada, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia onboard the vessel "Dominion" on the 23rd March, 1908, and then travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia where he gained employment at the "Art
Emporium" for a short time. His earnings for the year 1910 were reported to be $l,080.00 (Canadian). He then opened his own photography and art store on West Georgia Street in Vancouver, called Bell's Art Store. He and his wife also ran a boarding house in their home on Dundas Street (now known as Powell Street). He operated Bell’s Art Store up until the time of his death in December 1920.
Henry's two daughters were born in Douglas on the Isle of Man in 1907 and 1908 respectively, and later joined Henry in Vancouver in 1910.
Henry was a talented singer and artist. He sang at the P.N.E. grounds during WWI. for the soldiers who were getting ready to be shipped overseas, and also performed on stage at various opera houses in Vancouver. He attended Art School in the Isle of Man but was never
accredited, however the sketches the family have are a testimony to his artistic talent.
Henry attended Tynwald Street School in his younger years on the Isle of Man and at the age of 14 years one of his textbooks, dated 1899, includes a practice letter he wrote to the postmaster in Douglas, I.O.M. applying for a position upon leaving school. He has written this
letter in calligraphy; another sign of his artistic prowess.
Henry died of lombar pneumonia and the effects of a brain tumour on the 1st December 1920 at his home on Powell Street, at the very young age of 35 years. He is buried in the Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, B.C.