Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GREGORY FERNANDEZ of GASTOWN aka Portuguese Joe (No. 2)

(From, 1st issue (June 2003), by Manuel Azevedo)

Gregory Fernandez, also known as Portuguese Joe No. 2, came to B.C. during the Fraser River gold rush. He was from Madeira. He opened the first store in Vancouver in 1868 at foot of Abbot St., across the street from Joe Silvey’s establishment, the Hole in the Wall. The Indians living in Stanley Park supplied his store with fish and milk, which he traded for flour, powder and groceries. Prior to Vancouver, Fernandez operated a store in New Westminster, then capital of the mainland colony. In 1857 he operated a fruit and vegetable store in San Francisco.

Fernandez never married. He was described, by a child of the 1870’s, as a blackguard; “he had gold earrings.” He got mixed up in a drunken brawl, resulting in a bullet in his leg. He died, probably as a result of infection, after 1876, two years after his nephew Joseph Gonsalves (aka as Portuguese Joe)  arrived to help him. Vancouver was not yet born.

Early Vancouver 
Volume Five 
By: Major J.S. Matthews, V.D.
2011 Edition (Originally Published 1945)


Mr. Simson said: “I had fifteen minutes only with Joseph Gonsalves just while the boat was stopped, and he was busy, selling ice cream to tourists, etc., on the 26th. He tells me that Gregoris Fernandez of Gastown was his uncle, and owned Lot 16 in Block 6, O.G.T.” (northwest corner, Water and Abbott) “as well as Lot 1 in Block 5” (southwest corner, Water and Abbott) “and had a store on the bank on Lot 16 with a slip down to the inlet, but had a storehouse and kept chickens on Lot 1.
“According to Joe” (Gonsalves), “whom I knew quite well when he was in Gastown and I was storekeeper at the mill, Gregoris Fernandez was a Cariboo miner who came to Gastown and bought these lots; he never did any fishing.” (See Street Ends Case, evidence, Appeal Court, January 1905.) “He took ill and died, and Henry Saunders, grocery and liquor merchant, Victoria, wound up his debts.
“Joseph Silvey was a fisherman; Gregoris Fernandez was never a fisherman.”
“Joseph Gonsalves, long known to me as ‘Portuguese Joe’” (note: this makes three “Portuguese Joes”),
“says he came to Gastown in July 1874, and he remembers that the wreck on the beach beside the
Hastings Mill wharf, and in front of the store, was there when he came.” (Lawson photograph.) (Note: Mrs. Crakanthorp states it was there when she came in April 1873.) “Joe tells me that ‘The Deighton House came first; then Miller’s, then an American named Billy Jones, then Bill Blair’s, and at the very end, John Robertson’s “Hole in the Wall” saloon.’*

(The "Hole in the Wall saloon" is associated with Portuguese Joe Silvey's saloon, now the Dominion Hotel at the south-east corner of Water and Abott streets.)

by fernandocandido

Joe Fernandez was from the island of Madeira in Portugal. His real name was Gregorio. He lived in Stanley Park. He was living there in 1867 according to the testimony of an Indian named Thomas Fisher.

Historian Manuel Azevedo said he remained a bachelor the rest of his life. He also had a general store in Gastown near Jack Gassy. “ Among the other Gastown businesses was a general store that served both millworkers and Natives, who could land their canoes on the long float jutting out from the store and trade furs for other goods”.  He was a former Cariboo miner and he may have been one of the guys who jumped ship with the more famous Joe Silvey. But before we jump to this conclusion we need to remember that the Azores were far away from Madeira and the American whalers used to stop in the Azores to recruit sailors not Madeira but anything may be possible.

One of the persons who knew him well was the eldest daughter of Joe Silvey, Elizabeth. Both families lived near eachother in gastown and Joe Silvey owned a bar not very far. “Elizabeth referred affectionately to Fernandez, who also went by the nickname “Portuguese Joe,” as her uncle, although he was not a blood relative. Another of Joe Silvey’s children recalled that Fernandez “ had gold earrings; I saw them myself; it was an old custom with sailor men.”

According to Jean Barman it’s with the encouragement of Fernandez that Silvey opened a saloon nearby . From the Vancouver Voters List we learn the precise location of the store which was described as “ being in at the west end of the beach, on the north east* corner of Abbott and Water Streets.” The store probably operated around 1870. (should be north west)

Frank Miranda connected itself, in his early years in Canada, apparently with two well-known Portuguese families, which lived in Gas-Town before his arrival. One was Joe the Portuguese or Joseph Silvey (probably Silva), and the other Joseph Gonzalves and his uncle Gregorio Fernandez. In that pioneer epoch, besides those and other Europeans there were many indigenous people and some of Chinese background.

His uncle Gregorio Fernandez brought his nephew Joe to become his heir, for he was ill, and a year later he died.” There was a drunken brawl, or fight, and Fernandez got mixed up in it and somehow, and got a cut on the leg, and gangrene set in; he died. I was a little girl, but I can just remember it. I think he was put in jail at (new) Wesminster, and died there.” Elizabeth Silvey

“Portuguese Joe had shot another Portuguese and then hidden on Siwash Rock for a time until his hideout was discovered.” (Vancouver Voters Lists of 1886) This may be the brawl that she was talking about. He may have been in jail for that crime. It will be interesting to know who that Portuguese was and if he died of his injuries. There was a few Portuguese living in the Vancouver area at that time.

Later on his store was sold to Benjamin Henry Wilson a gentleman from Nova Scotia.

(Joe Fernandez, proprietor)

Early view of New Westminster, 1862-1866. - Record Detail

Early view of New Westminster, 1862-1866. - [between 1862 and 1866].

Part Of:Photo Collection  [Description]
Description LevelItem
Item No.IHP0618
Date Range[between 1862 and 1866]
Title SourceTitle based on content of image.
ResponsibilityClaudet, F.G.
Physical Description1 photograph : b&w ; 20 x 28 cm
Scope & ContentPhotograph shows an early view of New Westminster dating to 1862-1866. This photo was taken from Surrey and shows the Fraser River with a First Nations person in a canoe. The New Westminster Cracker and Coffee Manufactury (proprietor G. Fernandez) appears just to the left of the stern of the paddlewheeler.
Subject AccessCity Views | Transportation - Canoes | Communities - First Nations
Geographic LocationNew Westminster (B.C.) | Waterfront
Record ID17843
Comment on this

The British Colonist,  1860-1876, from (online version)

GREGORY FERNANDEZ, (sometimes Fernandes)

The British Colonist (online edition)

August 29, 1860, page 2


Gregory Fernandez
appeared in the Police Court yesterday
morning to make complaint of petty larceny
against a Hydah squaw, whom he said had
stolen $5 from his pantaloons pocket during
the night previous. In making his complaint,
Fernandez acknowledged having admitted
the woman to his house for improper purpose.
His honor immediately dismissed the
charge, and reprimanded the complainant
in scathing terms. The fellow, after the
lecture, slunk out of court and made off in
haste, evidently much ashamed of himself,
as indeed he well might be.

July 4, 1876, p.3

Shooting Affray at Granville

On the return of the steamer Cariboo-Fly from Granville,
on Sunday afternoon, news was quickly circulated that a shooting
affray occurred at that place last Saturday
evening which, it is feared, will be attended
with fatal results. From the somewhat
incomplete information gathered it appears that
a man named Juan Baptiste Jemore, who was
formerly a partner in the Omineca ( Omineea?) Saloon, Government Street,
in this city, left here to attend the Granville regatta,
and amongst other places he visited was the store of
one Joseph Fernandez, with whom he has previously had
pecuniary difficulties-- Fernandez being indebted to
Jemore. Jemore's particular business however seems to have
to have been to collect a bill for some fruit shipped by
a merchant of this city to Fernandez .
Jemore presented the bill and an altercation
relative to his personal claim against
Fernandez would seem to have ari en (sic). The
result of the wordy transaction was that
Fernandez consented to pay the account
for the fruit and turned to his till appar-
ently with the intention of counting out
the necessary money. Jemore not sus-
pecting Fernandez of treachery turned
his back to him, but the latter instead of
taking the money from the till
took a revolver from the drawer and, Jemore
states, deliberately shot him. As soon as
the shooting became known Fernandez was
arrested by constable Miller, and medical
aid (Dr . Mclnnes) was procured for the
wounded man from New Westminster
city. After an examination had been held
it was found that Jemore had been shot
about an inch and a half to the left of the
spine and that the bullet had probably
penetrated the left lung and passed into
his intestine. But faint hopes are enter-
tained of the wounded man's recovery and
although not dead when the steamer left
Granville he was apparently sinking
rapidly. The statement he made of the
occurrence is in substance the same as
above. Fernandez denies the shooting entirely.

July 5, 1876, p.3

News from the Inlet

The steamer Etta White arrived here
last evening from Burrard Inlet with the
bark Antioch in tow, lumber laden for
Shanghai. She reports that Jemore, who
was shot on Dominion Day by a
Portuguese named Joe Fernandez,
is out of danger and that hopes are entertained
of his recovery. Fernandez, the would be assassin
has evaded the officer in charge of
him and has left the district,
and probably proceeded to the United States of America.

July 6, 1876, p. 3


Jemore, who was shot by
Fernandez at Granville on Saturday last,
is not dead-yet . It seems that the would
be homicide was not arrested at all, but
was simply kept under the surveillance of
a constable, which he managed to baffle.

July 6, 1876, p. 3

Referring to the shooting affray at
Granville and the subsequent escape of Fernandez
the Guardian says: “on the wounded man's
statement Mr. Fernandez was arrested, but he denied all
knowledge of the way in which Demore had been wounded.
He was allowed to proceed with his business, a special
constable being detailed to watch him meanwhile.
It would appear that everything went on very well until
Sunday morning last. When Fernandez went to the upper story
of the house on some pretex, and suddenly disappeared.
As it was very probable Demore will die, there is great likelihood
that an investigation will take place, as it appears extraordinary
that anyone supposed to be guilty of homocide should be
allowed to evade the law in any such manner. We only
judge of the circumstances as they have reached us, and must
wait further particulars before venturing on any conclusions.”
July 8, 1876, p.3


The Superintendent of Provincial Police left
here yesterday morning for Granville ,
Burrard Inlet, where he will investigate
the circumstances attending the escape of
Fernandez , accused of shooting Jemore
on Dominion Day.

July 9, 1876, p. 3


From latest advices in connection with
the shooting affray at Granville on Do-
minion Day, it seems that Fernandez,
who evaded the constable in charge and escap-
ed to neighbouring island has returned
and delivered himself up to the authorities
and is now lodged in New Westminister jail.
He attributes the shooting of Jemore
entirely to accident and asserts
that when the revolver was discharged he
was not certain whether he or his companion
had been shot. Fearing, however,
the result of an investigation, he acted on
the advice of his friends and left the
neighbourhood. The Herald says:--
“He went in a boat and the man who took him ,
after they had gone some distance, cried
out that they were pursued, and advised
Fernandez to get ashore and run for it.
He did so, leaving his hat and coat, with
purse, etc., in the pockets, in the boat.
He found himself on an island, without a
morsel of food or drop of water . At
first this caused him no uneasiness, as the
man who had the man who had taken him
there had promised to keep him well supplied.
When two days had passed away, however, with no
sign of the promised aid, Fernandez
thought it was time to do something .
Whatever might await him at Granville,
it was preferable to a lingering death by hunger and thirst.
He accordingly hailed a passing canoe, was conveyed
back to Granville, and gave himself up.
The man who took Fernandez to the inland was also
arrested and lodged in jail.”
Dr . Mclnnes has extradited the ball
from the wounded man who is now supposed
to be out of danger and on a fairway to recovery.
Thomas Bransfield charged with aiding Fernandez
to escape has had a hearing and is remanded till

July 13, p. 3


The prisoner Bransfield, the boatman who
conveyed Fernandez in his craft, was
again brought up, yesterday and after
the usual discussion among a full bench of Justices,
was again remanded until Friday.
Jemore, the man who was wounded-by
a pistol shot at Granville, is out of danger
and rapidly recovering.

July 16, p. 3


The boatman Bransfield was again
brought up yesterday, on the charge of
aiding the prisoner, Fernandez to escape
from custody, and after the evidence had
been heard was discharged.

October 26, 1876 p. 3 (report of the trial-note the spelling Fernandes, usually spelled with a z )

Mainland Assizes

Before [ Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie*, C. J. (Chief Justice)

NEW WESTMINSTER , Oct. 21st , 1875 (sic)

The only criminal case was that of Regina vs. Gregorio Fernandes.
Mr . E . Johnson conducted the case for the Crown. Mr. Robertson , instructed
by Mr. Morrison, appeared for the prisoner.
There were two counts in the indictment, first for shooting with intent to murder, second,
shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The Grand Jury ignored the first count,
and the prisoner was consequently arraigned on the second. Mr. Johnson, in opening the case
stated that on 1st July last, the prisoner was at his store in Granville, when a man
named John Baptist DeAmor came to him to collect an account for some fruit which
he had brought from Victoria for the accused.
Fernandes desired him to call again for the money, and to return to the store about ten o'clock the same evening; he was waiting , supposing the prisoner was looking for the money--- resting his arm on the counter with his back towards the prisoner, when he heard the report of a pistol shot, and immediately discovered he was shot. He fell to the ground, but regained his feet, ran out, and was conducted to a hotel by some persons he met, when he was at once placed under medical treatment.
There were reasons adduced showing that prisoner had a spite against DeAmor. It appears that some time ago DeAmor deposited $250 with the prisoner, whom he was compelled to sue in order to have the money returned. A witness also, was produced, who swore that Fernandes had stated his intention to shoot DeAmor if ever he got a chance to do so. The contradictory statements of the prisoner after the shooting were also held to be good evidence of his guilt.
The defence was very ably conducted by Mr. Robertson, showing that the pistol was discharged accidentally, and the Jury taking that view of the circumstances, acquitted the prisoner, in which the Chief Justice concurred.

July 30, 1876, p. 2 (repeated August 1, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, and 16, 1876)

Re G . Fernandes , Granville , An Insolvent

Stock and Fixtures
of the store known as

Is offered for Sale by TENDER

Stock has been taken at Cost , and will
be sold at a discount therefrom.

The Lot and Buildings,
including a good House and Store, will
also be sold by tender, either with the
stock or separately .
The Stock and Stock-Book can be examined on the premises daily, from 8a.m.
till 6 p.m .
One-third cash, one-third in
sixty days , and one-third in four months ,
approved endorsed notes.
Sealed Tenders, endorsed, “ Tender
G . Fernandes' Stock ," &Co. , will be received
by the undersigned up to 12 o'clock,
noon, of Wednesday , August 16th .
The highest or any tender not necessarily accepted.
Official Assignee .
July 28th , 1876

*Matthew Baillie Begbie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie
Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie (9 May 1819 – 11 June 1894) was born on the island of Mauritius[1], thereafter raised and educated in the United Kingdom. In 1858, Begbie became the first Chief Justice of the Crown Colony of British Columbia in colonial times and in the first decades after confederation of Canada.
Begbie served as the first Judge of the Supreme Court, Colony of British Columbia 1858 to 1866 and then, in the same capacity in the Supreme Court, the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia from 1866 to 1870. He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Colonies from 1870 to 1871 and, following British Columbia joining confederation in 1871, he served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the new Province of British Columbiauntil his death on June 11, 1894.
In the years after his death, Begbie came to be known as the Hanging Judge. However, it appears that he does not deserve this reputation. The death penalty was mandatory in murder cases in those days unless the government approved a judge's recommendation for clemency. Indeed, Begbie successfully argued for clemency in several cases.

No comments: