John Jacob “J.J.” Hart

Birth: 1835 in England

Death: October 8, 1900 (age 64)

John Jacob Hart, better known as Jack. He was an adventurer, opportunist and early Jewish Coastal trader. Born in England he made his way to San Francisco. He came to Victoria in the 1840’s because he heard that great fortunes could be made in real estate speculation. But this didn’t work out for him and he went into debt. He went to the Fraser River thinking he’d find huge nuggets of gold just lying on the sand bars, but left when he found out that was just a rumor.

Next Jack Hart was involved in a number of spurious business deals some resulted in law suits. He made a lot of money as a notorious whisky dealer supplying miners and First Nations peoples during the Gold Rushes. After a number of other business partnerships all ended questionably Jack Hart moved to Comox, then the northernmost frontier of the Colony of Vancouver Island where he sold or traded staples such as flour, blankets and some booze for furs and arts. The suicide of his business partner prompted him to return to Victoria.

In 1882 Jack Hart opened a business selling furs, guns, ammunition, fishing tackle and Indian Curios. Eventually locating his store at what is now 565 Johnson Street, and known as The Indian Bazaar, he began selling First Nations Artifacts. He had dealings with the Indigenous peoples who lived from Victoria to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska. He engaged in conversations about their art and culture and thus considered himself an Indian Ethnographer. Jack Hart supplied important artifacts for the 1893 World Colombian Expo in Chicago, the precursor to the World’s Fair. He also published small pamphlets containing legends and stories from various coastal nations. He owned the shop until his death in 1900 when Frederick Landsberg acquired it.

Gravesite Details: Row F – Plot 28

In Memory of
John Hart
October 8 1900
Aged 65 years

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