The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]
Canvastown is a small township on the main road between Havelock and the Rai Valley, about six miles from Havelock. It is the centre of the Wakamarina diggings, to which it owed its origin, and the name Canvastown was suggested by the fact that the township was at first composed almost entirely of the tents of the diggers. While the diggings held out, Canvastown was a busy place, but the industry has gradually decayed, and there is now (1905) but one dredge on the river, and a few prospectors, to remind one of its former vogue. Nevertheless, Canvastown is in a thriving page 415 condition. The land has gradually been acquired for farming, and sheep and cattle are kept, and dairying is carried on by the settlers. There are also two sawmills in the district, and these give employment to nearly twenty persons. The township has two churches, a public school, a hall, a large hotel, a number of private residences, and a post office. The Blenheim-Nelson mail coach provides a tri-weekly mail service.
The Canvastown Public School was established in the year 1885. It stands on a section of about four acres close to the township, and is a wooden building with one class room a porch, and a small library. The number on the roll is seventyeight, and the average attendance is sixty. A residence of five rooms adjoins the school ground.
Mr. Hollis Hill was appointed to the Canvastown Public School in October, 1904. He was born in June, 1878, at Brightwater, in Nelson, and is the fourth son of the late Mr. Jabez Hill, who was for many years a farmer at Brightwater. After attending school he farmed for a short time, but when eighteen years of age he resumed his studies. Subsequently he held various appointments under the Nelson Education Board. He also taught for a few months in the Taranaki district, and in the year 1903 was appointed headmaster of the Okaramio school. Mr. Hill holds a D3 certificate. He is a member of various athletic clubs in Canvastown.
Mr. H. Stratford.
The Pelorus Hotel , at Canvastown, is one of the largest and most comfortable hotels in Marlborough, and is situated on the main road at the Havelock end of the Pelorus bridge. It was first established at the outbreak of the Wakamarina diggings in 1888, and while the field flourished, the hotel did a large trade. In November, 1903, in order to keep pace with the increasing business, the old house was replaced by a handsome two-storied wooden building with a verandah and a balcony. It is excellently finished and furnished throughout, and contains a diningroom, with accommodation for about fifty people; four sitting rooms; a large commercial room; a spacious kitchen with accessories; nine bedrooms; and a large bath room, with hot and cold water laid on, and lavatories attached. The best liquors, wines, and cordials are stocked; an excellent table is kept; and the whole house is under the personal management of Mr. and Mrs Dillon. Close by Mr. Dillon has a public hall, with accommodation for about 300 persons; and the post and telegraph service is conducted in a small detached building, standing between the hotel and the hall. The Blenheim-Nelson mail coach passes each way on alternate days.
Pelorus Hotel (A. W. Dillon, Proprietor).
Macey, photo. Mr. A. W. Dillon.
The Mountain Camp Sawmill is situated in the Wakamarina Valley, about four miles from Canvastown, and was established by its present proprietor, Mr. F. A. Smart, in July, 1904. A fifteen horse-power traction engine drives the machinery, and about seven persons are constantly employed. The logs are drawn from the bush by a team of bullocks, and the prepared timber is sent to Blenheim on horse waggons. The monthly output of the mill is about 32,000 feet, and the timber consists chiefly of rimu, white pine, and matai.
Mr. Frederick Arthur Smart , Proprietor of the Mountain Camp Sawmill, was born on the 30th of May, 1876 at Onamalutu, and is a son of the late Mr. Charles Smart, who is further referred to as an old colonist. After leaving school, he worked at a flaxmill for a short time at Kaituna, and then, in conjunction with his brothers, established a mill on the Hawkesbury station, near Renwicktown. About three years later the firm entered the sawmilling business at Onamalutu, and subsequently conducted a flaxmill at Canvastown for about one year and six months. They then dissolved partnership, and Mr. F. A. Smart has since worked alternately at sawmilling and flaxmilling, on his own account. For some time he was employed at Messrs Smart and Lodge's sawmill; later on, he managed a flaxmill at Top Valley, and subsequently he spent a few months at flaxmilling in the North Island. Mr. Smart finally returned to Marlborough, and shortly afterwards established his present mill. He is a churchwarden in the local Anglican church.
Smart and Lodge (Charles Smart and William Lodge) Sawmillers, Wakamarina Valley, near Canvastown. This firm was established in June, 1899, by Mr Charles Smart and Mr. William Lodge. The mill measures sixty-eight feet by forty feet, and the engine-shed, which is a detached building, measures twenty feet by sixteen feet; and these, with the timber yards and other buildings, cover an area of over an acre. The machinery is the most up-to-date and efficient for its purpose, and is driven by two eight horse-power portable engines. At first the logs were drawn from the bush by bullocks, and the timber conveyed to Blenheim by horses; but in the year 1902, a powerful traction engine was bought for the latter purpose, and a little later on a twelve horse-power steam log-hauler was procured for the removal of logs from the bush. This piece of machinery cost several hundreds of pounds, and there is only one other like it in the province. The firm has timber rights over 800 acres of heavy bush, consisting chiefly of rimu, and matai; and the weekly output is about 40,000 feet. The Wakamarina river, which separates the mill from the bush, is spanned by a substantial bridge, measuring 200 feet in length, and standing forty feet above the level of the river, and this bridge was built by the firm.
Mr. Charles Smart , Senior Partner in the firm of Messrs Smart and Lodge, was born in Blenheim on the 3rd of June 1861. He was brought up at Onamalutu, whence he walked as a boy for several yea's to the Kaituna public school, a distance of over five miles. Mr. Smart was afterwards employed for several years as a driver of one of his father's teams, and subsequently during a long period was variously engaged in New Zealand and Australia, but chiefly at general farm work, and at sawmilling. He then worked, in conjunction with his brothers, at sawmilling and flaxmilling alternately, until he entered into partnership with Mr. William Lodge. Mr. Smart was married in the year 1905 to Miss Stratford, of Blenheim.
Conrass Farm , Pelorus Valley, Canvastown. This farm consists of 700 acres of excellent grazing country situated on the south side of the main road, and the south side of the Pelorus Valley is the sunny side. “Conrass,” which is just midway between Blenheim and Nelson, fronts the beautiful Pelorus river, noted for its splendid salmon trout. It is one of the oldest farms in the district, the first section, consisting of 214 acres, having been taken up late in the fifties by Mr. John Brown. This portion was bought, in the year 1880, by Mr. Hughes, who subsequently in creased it to 700 acres, and gave it its present title. “Conrass” carries at present (1905) over 1000 sheep, a small herd of cattle, and a few horses.
Macey, photo. Mr. J. Hughes.
Forrest, Gavin Ross, Farmer, Canvastown. Mr. Forrest was born at Carluke, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, where he was educated, and learned engineering. He came to New Zealand in the year 1868, landed at Dunedin, and soon after went to Marlborough. Mr. Forrest was then engaged for a few years at sawmilling in the northern part of the province, but returned in 1875 to Otago, and spent a short time farming and sawmilling in different parts of the province, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Catlin's river. In 1876, he again went to Marlborough, and was engaged for about five years at sawmilling in the Sounds; but in 1881 he paid a visit to his native town in Scotland, where he lived for about three years. Mr. Forrest then returned to New Zealand, and was employed for four years at various sawmills in the Sounds. In 1888 he joined the staff of the Blackball sawmill at Havelock, where he worked until 1894, when he took up his present farm. The property consists of nearly 300 acres of good grazing land, the greater part of which is now (1905) freehold, and makes a first-class sheep and cattle farm. Mr. Forrest was a member of the Pelorus Road Board for about one year. He is married, and has one son.
The Wilderness Run , Canvastown. Part of this run was taken up by page 418 Mr. Charles Turner, and afterwards by Messrs Parson Brothers, who were succeeded by Messrs Brownlee and Company, who took it up for milling purposes. Later on, it was acquired by Messrs Dalton Brothers, who dissolved partnership in 1892, and since then Mr. J. T. Dalton has conducted it on his own account. The run consists of nearly 1400 acres on the north side of the Pelorus Valley, and about two miles from Canvastown, and includes a good deal of rugged virgin country. There are several hundred acres of good arable land, and the property makes an excellent sheep and cattle run. Over 2000 sheep and 150 cattle are depastured.
Macey, photo. Mr. J. T. Dalton.
Tyree, photo. Mr. J. Bown.