A trader of his time

David Oppenheimer was one of the largest traders in the province in the early 20th century. He is also a perfect example of a trader who managed to build an empire from scratch.

With the arrival of all these immigrants, British Columbia was facing a growing demand for goods. Along with his brothers, Oppenheimer came from Germany via California. They followed the gold prospectors. They first set up shops along the immigration routes and in growing cities. They knew how to sniff out bargains and supplied adventurers with the food and equipment they needed.

When the Gold Rush ended, the Oppenheimers moved to Vancouver because they believed the city had lots of potential. They rightly guessed that the arrival of the train would transform it into an important commercial centre. So they bought land and invested in Vancouver’s streetcar and electric companies.

Large traders such as David Oppenheimer were private developers and promoted the city. Large investors were attracted with cash bonuses and tax cuts.

Small traders

Since the province was still young, anyone who worked hard and persevered could successfully start a business. As a result, all kinds of businesses were being opened: stores, restaurants, theatres and even saloons. Chinese immigrants also owned several businesses such as laundries and coffee shops, because these establishments required little investment and did not require them to speak English.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social

French (If available)