In 1887 when Joseph Pemberton embarked on his new real estate business, he would never have guessed that his earnest business philosophy would inspire four additional generations to carry on in his foot steps and build one of the largest independently owned and operated real estate firms on Vancouver Island. Pemberton Holmes’ contributions to the development of British Columbia are of great importance, coming 2nd to the Hudson’s Bay Company. What’s really neat is that the firm’s telephone number may be one of the oldest in Canada, having started out in the first exchange as 8124 and later developing in its latest manifestation of 250-384-8124.
By 1887 Victoria was a growing city. A paid fire department had replaced the volunteer brigade, electric street lighting had replaced gas, many people had acquired telephones, electric street cars provided urban transportation, while the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway offered rail service to up-Island points.
Such was Victoria when in 1887 Joseph Pemberton and his eldest son Frederick Bernard Pemberton (Fred) went into business by opening the firm of Pemberton & Son – Engineers, Surveyors, and Real Estate Agents.
For the first year father-and-son concentrated mainly on the engineering and surveying. They worked mainly from home but on the 29th of November, 1888, they opened their office on Fort Street. The property was located at the south-west corner of Broad Street that Joseph had bought many years earlier, as he needed a stable for his horse.
Part of a two page memorandum written by Fred Pemberton reads: “A rustling office like—would not in the long run pay us as well as one conducted on quiet & strict commercial principles”. Right from the start the firm was engaged in both the mortgage business and the property management business, which was then known as the Rentals business. In 1893 an insurance agency was arranged with the Sun Insurance Office, but later that year Joseph Pemberton died, leaving his son Fred in full charge of the business at the age of 28.
In 1917 Cuthbert Holmes – whose family were also early Victoria settlers – married Phillippa Pemberton while he was on leave from active duty in France. In 1920 Cuthbert Holmes joined Pemberton & Son with his father-in-law, Fred Pemberton. After assuming its presidency in 1933 he changed the firm’s name to Pemberton Holmes. Today Pemberton Holmes is still thriving as a modern day business that is still conducted on those same “quiet and strict commercial principles” that Fred Pemberton wrote about so long ago.
Today – using technology that Joseph would never have dreamed of – Pemberton Holmes is connected to homebuyers, sellers, and agents all over the world. Through its association with HomeLife Realty – one of the worlds leading real estate franchisors – Pemberton Holmes agents are able to connect their clients from countries as diverse as Canada, The United States, Portugal and China.
Strong local roots and vast local market knowledge have attracted realtors, buyers, and sellers making Pemberton Holmes one of the largest real estate forces on the island.