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Bealby Point’s namesake wrote fruit ranching classic
Fourteenth in a (more-or-less) alphabetical series on West Kootenay-Boundary place names
Bealby Point, a community just outside Nelson on the south shore of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm, is named for John Thomas Bealby (1858-1944), a prolific author and fruit rancher.
Born in England and educated at Cambridge, Bealby came to this area in 1907 and two years later published the classic Fruit Ranching in British Columbia, part memoir and part manual for prospective immigrants.
Amongst many other works, Bealby contributed to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (collaborating on some items with noted anarchist Peter Kropotkin), edited the Scottish Geographical Magazine, and translated works on diverse subjects.
Upon arriving in Canada, he settled at Bonnington, but later bought the property near Nelson that now bears his name. The ranch was originally called Florence Park after the children of owners William and Luella Roberts — daughter Florence and son Park.
In addition to raising chickens and cows, the Roberts opened a hotel in 1899 even though it was out of the way. In an ad they promised “A pleasant place to spend afternoons, evenings and enjoy delicacies that cannot be obtained in hotels or restaurants at Nelson. Good stabling. Open day and night. Can be reached by either road or water.”
Within a few months they had a potential deal to sell the hotel to J.L. Stocks, but it fell through. The entire 143-acre property — of which 35 acres had been cultivated and 580 fruit trees planted — was listed for sale the following year without any takers.
Also in 1900, a rumour circulated that Nelson’s street railway would be extended as far as Florence Park (the company denied it) and Mrs. Roberts sued the Canadian Pacific Railway and Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway for $4,000 over 12 acres expropriated in the middle of their land. It’s not clear how the case was resolved.
The Roberts continued to run their hotel at least through 1904. Bealby later used it as his ranch house, and in his book, described the property thusly: “[T]his place, to which we have given the name of Welland Ranch, is one of the most beautiful anywhere on the lake … The house is large and rambling. The original building has been added to at various times, and there are evidences of the internal arrangements having been materially modified. For some time it was used as a lake-side summer hotel, to which the people of Nelson resorted, especially on Sundays, for snug little dinners.”
J.T. Bealby continued to live and ranch there with his family until 1940 when he retired to Vancouver. Signs denoting Bealby Road and Bealby Point perpetuate his memory.
The Roberts left the area and are long forgotten. As of 1939 they ran the Riviera Apartment Hotel in San Diego.
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