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 venture didn’t work out for him and he went into debt. Jack went to the Fraser River thinking he’d find huge nuggets of gold lying on the sand bars, but left when he found out that was just a rumor.
Jack became 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. There he sold or traded staples such as flour, blankets and liquor in exchange 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 stories from various coastal nations. He owned the shop until his death in 1900 when Frederick Landsberg acquired it.
The Victoria Daily Colonist reported on Thursday October 11, 1900 (page 5):
Last rites-The funeral of the late John Hart from his residence 166 Yates street yesterday at 2:30. The services were conducted by Rabbi Klinkenstein. The pall-bearers were Measrs. H.E. Levy, H. Bornstein, A. Lewis, and C. Barnhardt
Gravesite Details: Row F – Plot 28
In Memory of
October 8 1900
Aged 65 years
Victoria Daily Colonist Thursday October 11, 1900