Update, Oct. 21: Since this story was originally published, Roft has learned that Bert Coles had a son named Walter Richard Coles. He died in 2003, but his obituary says that he had a son named Ray Coles. Roft is now hopeful he’ll be able to get in touch with him.
History buffs and sleuths, don your detective caps. A United Kingdom man is on the hunt for family memories and he wants Victoria residents’ help.
While researching his family tree, Birmingham, U.K. resident Derek Roft discovered that a great uncle of his emigrated to Canada in 1912 and ended up living in Victoria for several decades.
His great uncle, Frederick Lee, originally settled in Regina, Saskatchewan where he married Eva Lillian Baker and farmed until the 1930s when they decided to move to Victoria.
Once here, Roft knows that Lee and Baker lived at at least two Victoria addresses — one on Rudlin Street and another on Government Street.
Roft believes that Lee and Lee’s brother-in-law, Albert Edward Coles (“Bert Coles”), took over a newspaper shop on Yates Street in the 1930s called the Grand Spot News.
When Lee died in 1956, his obituary mentioned he had been “associated with the Grand Spot News for many years.”
Baker died several decades later in 1982. They were buried separately at Colwood Burial Park — now Hatley Memorial Gardens — without headstones.
Because Lee and Baker didn’t have any children, Roft knows that finding any living relatives is likely a long shot. But, he’s hoping that someone living in Victoria can offer memories of his great uncle and aunt or of the Grand Spot News.
“There might be a chance of a living person sharing memories of Eva or remembering her talking about her husband,” Roft said.
Anyone with any information about Roft’s relatives or the Grand Spot News can reach out to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.