Rose Aaronson

Rose Vandersluin Aaronson

L. 08762 Rose Aaronson at home

Birth: February 27, 1864 in England

Death: September 16, 1918 (aged 54) in Victoria, B.C.


Rose Vandersluys (Vandersluin or Vandersluis) was born in Chelsea, England to an British mother and Dutch father. In 1886 she met Andrew Alfred Aaronson; “AA” who had returned to England as an exhibitor of “Indian curios” in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. They married and their eldest child, Hannah, was born in London in 1887. The family returned to Victoria in 1888 where they established the Victorian Indian Curio Bazaar. Their inventory included: wood and stone totems, pipes, cared horn, silver spoons, rattles as well as old English brass candlesticks, buckles, hat pins, broaches, jewellery and color post cards.

The Aaronsons were one of the more important curio dealers in Victoria. Rose was instrumental in building the business and an active partner in running the shop. It was first established in a space within the Hawyard Funeral Parlor on Government Street, (near Broughton Street). The Aaronson’s moved the location of the Victorian Indian Curio Bazaar to a number of different addresses on Government Street including beside: Dixi Ross & Co. dry goods store, The New England Hotel, and the Columbia Theatre. The shop ended up in the Bridgman Building, (now 1007 Government Street). Although their store catered mostly to tourists, AA was also an agent for major buyers. Rose was asked to supply pieces of original First Nations work to National Gallery in Ottawa.

When AA died in January 1912, Rose continued to run the pawn-broking/curio business with her younger son Harry.

The Daily Colonist, reported the following on November 17, 1912 (page 5)
Cleaver Thief Gets Diamond
It was a wily Celestial whose cleaver manipulation directly under the gaze of Mrs. Aaronson, proprietor of Aaronson Pawnbroking establishment changed a large sized glass “diamond” for the real article last night shortly after 8 o’clock. The change was made and the Chinaman had departed before Mrs. Aaronson noticed that the counterfeit was reposing where the real article had been. The Chinaman asked to see some diamond rings, a tray containing a number being placed before him. He took one rind, a diamond solitaire, valued at $75 and while examining it evidently substituted the worthless circlet. Returning the latter with the explanation that he saw nothing which suited his fancy, the Chinaman left the store. Barely was he outside before the theft was noticed. The police were notified but as Mrs. Aaronson was unable to give any definite description of him his capture was but a very remote possibility.

A nostalgic recollection of Victoria by Ainslie J. Helmcken was published in The Daily Colonist on Sunday March 26, 1967 (page 11). In it was said:
“Next door was the most interesting Indian Curio Shop operated by Mrs. Aaronson, the mother of Bert Aaronson of whom you have already heard, and Mrs. Hannah Knowles. In this store once could find the most beautiful baskets. Mrs. Aaronson had a native Indian woman by the name of Maggie who sat in the doorway weaving baskets. Mrs. Knowles tells me that Maggie made one basket which took her 3 months to complete at $1 per day and that Mr. Boscowitz purchased it on completion for $90. This woman could make baskets to any pattern you desired and this little store received orders from many other cities for Maggie’s baskets.”

Soon after Rose retired, circa 1918, the Aaronson collection was purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum. Purchases were also made by a collector who donated almost 600 carvings to the University of Florida.”

Rose was an charter member and the first Banker of Ladies Circle of Woodmen of the World. Formed in Victoria in 1902, Columbia Circle No. 1, was the first WOW Ladies Circle in Canada. Membership allowed their male relative to purchase an insurance policy on the women for $1000.00 and guaranteed a grave stone valued at $100.00.

In an effort to attract members to WOW, the Ladies Circle was responsible for serving refreshments at the meetings, organizing excursions, and entertainment including talent shows featuring members’ children.

In 1906 Rose was part of the Arrangements Committee which organized a successful fundraising dance held at the newly renovated Victoria Hall (formerly the Hebrew Ladies Hall) beside the synagogue building. Rose sold tickets to Ladies Circle events at her store.

The Ladies Circle was active until circa 1910.

Roses’ son, Albert was a long-time druggist on Fort Street, and grandson George was also a pharmacist at that location.

Plot: Row G – Plot 14


The grave includes the logo of the Woodmen of the World.
The Woodmen of the World (WOW). Started in the 1880’s, WOW was a fraternal organization which provided life and burial insurance for it’s members. Until the 1920’s members qualified for the monument program which entitled the widow of a WOW member to receive $100.00 to help defray the cost of gravestones. Including the WOW logo on the gravestone was required. The tree stump, symbolizes that the the life of the breadwinner of the family was cut short. The olive branches represents harmony and neighbourly cooperation. These letters “C” and “O” stand for Canadian Order. The Latin phrase, Dum tacet clamat translates as “Though silent, he speaks”; meaning that the person buried there lead a worthy life.

Andrew Alfred Aaronson 1856-1912

Hannah Aaronson Knowles 1887-1978
Albert “Bert” Aaronson 1889-1968
Henry “Harry” Aaronson 1890/1-1972
Irene Aaronson 1895-1967

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