Forty-fourth in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
An earlier installment in this series told the story of the Nelson suburb of Bealby Point, formerly known as Florence Park.
It stated William and Luella Roberts named their ranch after daughter Florence and son Park, and that they later ran an apartment hotel in San Diego.
Well, not quite.
The Roberts did have a daughter Florence, but there was no son and they didn’t move to San Diego — this was confusion with another couple named Webster and Luella Roberts.
What actually happened is still a bit murky, but William appears to have died around 1905. Luella sold the Florence Park ranch to J.T. Bealby, who included a photo of the property’s hotel/farmhouse in his classic 1909 book Fruit Ranching in British Columbia.
Luella and Florence then ran Nelson’s Royal Hotel (a different one than the present Baker Street venue). In March 1911, J.S. Barratt bought the hotel and the Roberts moved to Vancouver where they ran a restaurant at 2274 4th Ave.
In 1916, Florence, then 19, married Joseph Blackmun, who was listed in the civic directory as a driver for the West End Liquor Co. and later became a manager with the Hudson’s Bay Co. They had at least one son, Joseph James.
The following year Luella married Fred Truslove, a painter, but their time together was short, for in 1918 Luella suffered a spinal cord hemorrhage and died.
Luella was also afflicted with some sort of Benjamin Button syndrome, or at least a remarkable ability to slow her aging: on the 1901 census, she reported her birth year as 1868 and her age as 32. But on the 1911 census, she claimed to have been born in 1876 and therefore was only 34. On her marriage registration in 1916, she listed her age as 36 — instead of the 49 or 41 she should have been based on the earlier census returns. Her death registration also maintained the ruse, stating she was born in 1881 and therefore only 37 when she passed away.
Presumably her second husband, 36 at the time of their marriage, was none the wiser.
Florence Blackmun died in Penticton in 1985 at age 89, predeceased by her husband but survived by her son, who didn’t appear to know much about his maternal grandparents, as he was unable to provide their names on his mother’s death registration. By then probably no one remembered or realized she was the namesake of Florence Park.
Previous installments in this series