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Item Fonds
Title Brett Family fonds
Catalog Number AM 0160
Fonds AM 0160
Date 1890 - 1959
Year Range from 1890
Year Range to 1959
Level of description Fonds
Scope & Content Accession consists of 39 b&w photograph prints showing a range of activities which the Brett family engaged in. Examples include logging, hunting, Chilliwack rodeo, Brett's Garage, a garage fire downtown, the Cherry Carnival parade, the Caroline Gold Mine, Earl Brett, Helen (Dandel) Brett, Doug Brett, day trips to Harrison lake, and Central School, etc. Accession also includes 2 cm of textual records, e.g, insurance, leasing and mortgage papers, bylaws and letters patent (copy) of Chilliwack Flying Club, and a flight map of Vancouver and Fraser Valley showing Slesse Beacon.

The fonds also consists of a collection of sheet music used by the Brett family and a program for a recital of the Brett family's musical activities.

1995 20 1 - Formal portrait of Doug Brett as he appeared in the 1940s, age 21 or 22.
1995 20 2 - Overhead view of Star Garage on fire, in downtown Chilliwack, ca. 1938 or 1939. Brett's Garage visible at left in image. The Peaks Restaurant visible at right in image.
1995 20 3 - Distant view of Caroline Gold Mine, which was the biggest gold mine in North America at the time. Brett family were major shareholders. [Information from label attached to photo]
1995 20 4 - Caterpillar pulling drag at Caroline Gold Mine.
1995 20 5 - Miner pushing ore car piled high with timbers, at entrance to mine shaft.
1995 20 6 - Group portrait of Frank Hall, ? , Earl Brett posing with bull moose and buck deer shot during hunting trip.
1995 20 7 - Portrait of Earl Brett at the age of 45 years.
1995 20 8 - Portrait of Helen (Dandel) Brett standing with 1926 or 1927 Buick.
1995 20 9 - Group portrait of five men standing behind twelve dead deer at Harrison Lake. L-R : Earl Brett, Victor Logan, ? , ? , ?. [Type written label attached to photo reads A weekend at Harrison Lake.]
1995 20 10 - Group portrait taken during day trip to Harrison Lake. Individuals identified from L-R : Edith Higginson, Alma Hardy, Helen (Dandel) Brett and Eleanor Nosworthy.
1995 20 11 - View of empty rodeo pens used for Chilliwack Rodeo [Description of photographs states that the Chilliwack Rodeo was later relocated to Cloverdale].
1995 20 12 - View of empty pens used for Chilliwack Rodeo
1995 20 13 - Portrait of Earl and Helen (Dandel) Brett during fishing trip, possibly Chilliwack Lake, ca. 1930s.
1995 20 14 - Group portrait of seven men standing in front of the Chilliwack Municipal Airport building. [Of the seven men, the three on the left are civilians, and three of the four on the right are Royal Canadian Air Force. The fellow third from the left has been identified by Gordon Mitchell, Thur. July 22, 1999 as Ginger Coote. Our museum curator Paul Ferguson observes that the fellow in the middle is RCAF but not an officer. The fellow third from right is an officer, likely below rank of group caption, and is a WWI veteran. Second from right is a senior officer, Air Commodore Russell Charles Gordon, CBE, CD, as well as a pilot - see operational wings above left breast pocket. The fellow on the far right is RCAF, and officer below Group Captain, and a pilot. Also, the three officers on the right in image are wearing black arm bands, signifying that they are in mourning.
1995 20 15 - Group portrait of members of curling team receiving trophy from Doug Brett. Doug Brett is on left in image. Fellow on far right has been identified as Len Stan Brook.
1995 20 16 - Art Graham, Sid Rowlands, Fred Fairey, and Martin Gobel sitting on diving board at edge of lake, mid 1920s. [Information taken from label attached to photo]
1995 20 17 - Group portrait showing seven men standing with 1939 Plymouth car in front of Brett's Ltd. Garage, Princeton location, 1939. L-R : ? , ? , Jimmy Cooper, Howard Barnard, Ivan Kerr, ? , ? . Individuals identified by Doug Brett July 27, 1999. Scope and Content - Was a Dodge dealership, was bought by Earl Brett who switched over to selling Chevrolet].
1995 20 18 - School portrait showing students and staff standing in front of Chilliwack Public School, ca. 1890s. [The school was located at the corner of Yale Rd. and Hodgins, where the Southgate Shopping Centre is today. The white building visible in the background in image, was the first school in Chilliwack.]
1995 20 19 - Portrait of 700 pound dead moose, which was shot by Russell Coote and Earl Brett. [The photograph shows the head of the dead moose hanging out the back of the truck. A young boy, is seen sitting at the base of two glass topped Imperial Gas pumps. There is a newspaper clipping describing details of the hunt taped to back of photograph].
1995 20 20 - Group portrait showing Chilliwack United Church Choir, ca. 1955.
1995 20 21 - Side and back view of Brett's Garage float heading to the Cherry Carnival parade
1995 20 22 - Side view of Brett's Garage float for Cherry Carnival parade.
1995 20 23 - Side view of Chilliwack Jersey Club float for Cherry Carnival parade. Her majesty the Jersey Queen is seated on the back of the float. [Empress Hotel visible in background].
1995 20 24 - Black bear cub chained to leash outside Brett's Garage, ca. 1940s. [Side of Westminster / Hart building visible in background].
1995 20 25 - Interior view of service department at Brett's Garage in 1913. [Type written label attached to photo reads Complete mechanical and front end staff in 1913. Earl Brett and Fred Hart.]
1995 20 26 - Interior view of early camper trailer manufacturing plant in Vancouver. [Lettering on trailer at back of room reads : Touralo, Built and equipped in British Columbia by the Touralo Coach Co. Ltd. 2379 4th Ave. W., Vancouver, B.C.]
1995 20 27 - Photograph showing early logging truck loaded with three huge Douglas Fir logs. The truck shown here is a 4 tonne GMC, powered by a 3 cylinder diesel motor. According to Doug Brett, his dad Earl Brett was one of the first truck loggers in B.C., and a one point was President of the B.C. Truck Loggers Association.
1995 20 28 - Sid Hurling driving the cat at Brett's logging camp at 10 mile bay, Harrison Lake.
1995 20 29 - Earl Brett, Ed Toews, and ? , inspecting overturned run-away truck.
1995 20 30 - Log dump at Brett's logging camp, Ten Mile bay, Harrison Lake.
1995 20 31 - Portrait of mechanic Rod Sweet standing with dismantled caterpillar.
1995 20 32 - Sid Hurling, cat operator, standing with dismantled caterpillar at Brett's logging camp, 10 Mile Bay, Harrison Lake.
1995 20 33 - Exterior view of Brett's Garage as it appeared in the late 1920's. [Sign on front of building reads : Brett and Elg_ _ Ford Dealers Old Empress Hotel visible in background. Copy of Chilliwack Telephone Directory attached to envelope for reference]
1995 20 34 - Exterior view of Brett's Garage under construction, ca. 1942-1943. [Scaffolding covers exterior of building, wheel barrows visible in foreground]
1995 20 35 - Exterior view of Brett's Garage under construction, ca. 1942-1943. [Scaffolding covers exterior of building. Empress Hotel visible in background].
1995 20 36 - Unidentified man standing in front of truck loaded with cedar shakes outside Brett's Garage.
1995 20 37 - Truck loaded with cedar shakes in front of gas pumps at Brett's Garage. [ Home Gas sign and gas pumps visible at right in foreground. Westminster / Hart building, The Peaks Restaurant and the Empress Hotel, visible from L-R in background.]
1995 20 38 - Exterior view of front breezeway area of Brett's Garage.
1995 20 39 - Exterior view of front of Brett's Garage, ca. 1950s. [Roof and sign of Empress Hotel visible in background. Photo by Norm Williams of Norman Studios].
Creator Brett Family
Admin/Biographical History Brett family ran Brett's garage etc. Also, see Add.MSS. 616

Richard Brett and Emma Brett (Trethewey) arrived in Chilliwack in 1899. Mr. Brett was a farmer on a 320 acre farm on Prairie Central Road and operated a mill at East Chilliwack. They had six children. One of their sons was Earl Brett who was a man of many talents, loves and interests. He was born in Mission, B.C. on April 4, 1896, the second of four children born to Richard and Emma (Trethewey) Brett. In 1899, at the age of three Earl moved with his parents to East Chilliwack, where his father Richard had purchased the Elk Creek Saw and Grist mill from his father-in-law James Trethewey. One of the first of many interests for Earl was music. Earl took violin lessons for about 7 years, and in addition to the violin learned to play the trumpet, saxophone and flute. When he was 11 years old, he played violin as part of the pit orchestra for the musical Pirates of Penzance, which was put on in the Chilliwack Opera House by Fred Hart, and had a cast of 35 or 40 people. In 1912 Earl joined the newly formed Chilliwack Band, playing trumpet with this group for nearly 40 years. This love of music touched many areas of Earl's life. At home, Earl and his wife Helen's love of music carried over to their family, with all four of their children playing 1 or 2 instruments. At their church, Chilliwack United, Helen sang in the choir and Earl played his violin during worship services. The music tradition also became part of Brett's garage, where Earl's hiring policy dictated that if a fellow got a job on the front end, he had to be musical. Earl went on to form a concert band, made up of employees at the garage. Another passion for Earl was flying. In 1927 Earl and his brother Roy took flying lessons from Ginger Coote. According to the Progress for August 24, 1988, this trio then set about actively promoting a local air service, flying club and airport. In 1938, Les Bryce joined Ginger Coote, and the two Brett brothers, in helping to form the British Columbia Aviation Council. These four men were also instrumental in establishing the Chilliwack Municipal Airport in 1945. Probably the one thing that Earl Brett is best known for, however, is his involvement in the automotive industry. Around the same time that Earl joined the Chilliwack Band in 1912, he bought a half interest in Fred Hart's bicycle shop and garage. That early interest in all things mechanical flourished over the years, and around 1923 Earl and partner Albert L. Elgie, bought the Ford dealership from A.S. Goard Motors. They called the new firm Brett and Elgie, Ford Dealers, and operated the dealership near the present site of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at the corner of Princess and Young. They began their business with a staff of 4 and, by 1929, had expanded to include 3 branches and a staff of 40. In their first year of operation they sold 50 Ford cars. By 1928, with the new Model A Ford just out, they sold 168 cars. By 1929 Brett's Ltd. completed construction of a new garage on Yale Road, giving Chilliwack it's largest and most ultra-modern garage building. Apparently Earl had gathered ideas for the construction of the garage during a trip to southern California, and incorporated those ideas into the construction of the downtown Chilliwack location. The new garage, which covered most of the North end of where Salish Plaza is today, had glass frontage on Yale road of 176 feet, and a cement floor space of 16,000 square feet. Brett's Limited switched from selling Fords to General Motors / Chevrolet in 1930, and their new garage had all the latest features, including a spacious show room, office space, an up-to-date auto laundry, hydraulic lifts, and a complete parts department. One of the unique features of the garage was the massive stone fireplace, which burned brightly during the winter months to give the garage a homey feel. Brett's Limited continued as a family owned and operated business under sons Enos and Doug. Doug bought out his brother in 1973, and moved the dealership to its present location on Young Road in 1979. He continued to run the business until 1985, when the business was sold to Fred Meyerink Sr. The dealership is now owned and operated by Fred Meyerink Jr. In April of 1976 Chilliwack acknowledged the many contributions of Earl Brett to the community by appointing him the Citizen-to-be-recognized. Through his leadership and concern for his community, his love for music and for flying, Earl Brett earned his spot as one of the builders of Chilliwack.
Extent of Description 39 photograph prints : b&w
2 cm of textual records.
1 map.
Finding Aids Inventory is available.