Bertha Wolfe

Bertha Louise Mayer Wolfe

Birth: September 4, 1862 in San Francisco, California

Death: July 5, 1933 in San Francisco, California

Bertha’s date of birth as September 4. The year has been recorded either as 1852, 1860, or most often in 1862.

Her father Alexander (Alex) Mayer moved from Portland to Nanaimo in 1862. He is reported as Nanaimo’s first Jewish resident. The Hudson Bay Company (HBC) founded Nanaimo on the ancestral and traditional lands of the Snunéymuxw peoples. As an HBC port and coal mining outpost, the company had tight control over land use and business opportunities. Unable to acquire a shop when he first arrived, Alex began peddling on a street corner. His goods sold well. In 1863, he purchased a log cabin on a lot for $600. He painted the building red and under the firm Alexander Mayer & Co. he opened the Pioneer Store. Known as Pioneer Red House or just Red House, the business was immediately successful.

Alexander Mayer & Co. operated the Red House for thirty years. Son-in-law Marcus Wolfe became a partner until Alex sold the business in 1893. His other son-in-law Sam Levi was also associated with the firm. Alex’s success made the Mayer family a prominent part of Nanaimo society.

In 1881 Bertha married Marcus Wolfe (1850-1896) in Portland, Oregon. Bertha’s family had ties to Portland; and both of her parents are buried in Portland’s Beth Israel Cemetery. Shortly after their marriage she and her husband Marcus moved to Yale, B.C. Marcus returned to his job as a clerk in Isaac Oppenheimer’s store. Following the closure of the store Bertha and Marcus settle in Nanaimo where their daughter, Babette Ethel*, was born in Nanaimo on August 26, 1882. Their household also included her father Alex, her brother Adolph, and her niece Minnie.

Marcus left his father-in-law’s business and became an insurance agent and real estate broker in Nanaimo. Following his suicide in 1896, Bertha, daughter and niece moved to Vancouver. Bertha ran a boarding house. The 1901 Canadian census indicates that Bertha was a widow living near Robson and Bute. It lists her occupation as “Boarding Crowkeeper”. Her household included her daughter, Ethel, niece, Minnie, three Chinese domestic servants and eleven lodgers.

Bertha died in San Francisco in 1933. Her body was brought back to Victoria. Due to conditions in the cemetery for many years, records of her grave-site are missing. However, she was likely buried beside her husband.

*Babette Ethel Wolfe:
Babette was born on August 26, 1882 in Nanaimo, B.C. She grew up in a home with her parents, maternal grandfather, and some of her mother’s relatives. Following the suicide of her father, her mother moved Babette and her aunt to Vancouver. By 1901 her mother was running a boarding house near Bute and Robson. One of the lodgers was 26 year old Victoria born Alexander Rainer Green known as “Ray”.

Babette and Alexander marry in 1906.Their wedding announcement appeared in the Victoria Times on April 20, 1906 and reads:
“Rev. C.E. Owen, rector of Christ church, Vancouver, on Wednesday united in marriage Mr. Alexander Rainer Green, son of the late A.A. Green of Victoria, and Bebette Ethel, daughter of Mr. Marcus Wolfe of Vancouver. The happy couple are spending their honeymoon on the Sound.”

Their wedding was described in the Vancouver Province on April 19, 1906 as follows:
Christ Church was prettily decorated yesterday afternoon when Miss Ethel Babette, only daughter of Mrs. Marcus Wolfe, was married to Mr. Alexander Rainer, son of the late A.A. Green of Victoria, accountant of the local branch of the Imperial Bank. The bride wore a cream voile taffeta dress and picture hat, and was attended by Miss Grundy, who was attired in a grey tweed dress and carried pink roses. The groom was supported by Mr. Averill.”

The couple moved to Victoria in 1915 where Alexander became the manager of the Imperial Bank’s branch at the northeast corner of Government and Yates Streets.

Alexander set out for a trip to Toronto in the evening of Saturday, August 23, 1930. He took the Canadian National Railroad boat from Victoria to Vancouver. After staying the night in Vancouver, he boarded the 1:35 pm train from Vancouver to Toronto. He got off the train at 11 pm at the Kamloops stop. His hat and coat were later found on a coffer dam at the railroad bridge. His body was located in the Thompson River the next day. The coroner ruled death by drowning. He was buried in Ross Bay Cemetery.

In 1931 Babette married retired physician and widower, Dr.Lt. Col. William Harold Kerr Anderson. They settled in Qualicum Beach where Babette died on July 26, 1935. She was buried in the Qualicum Beach Cemetery in Nanaimo.

Gravesite Details: unknown but likely buried with or beside her husband, Marcus who is possibly buried in Row D – Plot 32

Babette Simon Mayer (born 1816)
Alexander Mayer (1813–1894)

Marcus Wolfe (1850-1896)

Babbette Ethel Wolfe Anderson (1882–1935)

Rosa Mayer Levi (1842–1919)
Marcus R. Mayer (1848–1934)
Frances Mayers (1848–1934)
Adolph Mayer (1850-)

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