IN THE BEGINING:-     An accommodation house was started by Wilson in 1859. He came to the Pelorus Valley in 1857 where he claimed to be the first white settler to take up land. The Electoral Roll of 1861 mentions Robert Jones as having the leasehold of the Pelorus Hotel. Wilson was one of the early discoverers of the goldfields. On 2ndSept.1874 tenders were called for the erection of an hotel for John Wilson by the architect William Douslin. When completed the Hotel was sledged up from it's site on section29 and placed between the new building and the Wakamarina road beside the river. Wilson's experience of the flood of 1873 where the water rose to 3 feet in the lower storey demanded that he seek a different site and since he owned this other section (section 60) which was not flooded at this point he decided to move there. The first person to discover gold in Canvastown was Mrs Pope while rinsing clothes in the Wakamarina River in 1860 where the Canvastown factory stood. Mrs Pope was the wife of George Pope who with his brothers Robert, Roger and John Pope, opened a sawmill in the Wakamarina in 1860 and erected their huts where the Canvastown Hotel is now.                                                                                                                                            


An old photograph of Canvastown in the 1890s showing the Pelorus Hotel and stables and St Pauls Church.  On the left is the school and teachers residents. The new school was built to the left of the road leading towards the bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1880 and washed away in 1904.

The Pelorus Hotel at Canvastown (now the Trout Hotel) on the right and Douslin's structure behind the coach and Brownlee's chaff shed on the left. It was owned by Fred Thomas, between 1894 and 1898. The old hotel was demolished in 1898. In June 1903 Dillon sold his coaching business to Jack Owen of Havelock,using the money towards constructing a new large two storied hotel on the site of the original hotel. The new hotel opened for business late in the year. It had hot and cold running water to all bedrooms and all its 20 rooms were lit by acetylene gas.

In the photograph the coach driver is Archier Kitching and the gentleman on the right is Fred Thomas and the lady in the middle is Mrs Falconer. Magi Gossi is on the top. Jim Murphy is standing by horses. Others are local Canvastown residents.

Looking towards the church 

The village about 1920

Hotel built 1903 remodelled 1962-64 The name was changed from Pelorus to Trout in 1961 by "Uncle" Bill Davies

Ball's store built in 1927

W Reeves (Pegleg) Hotelkeeper,deep Creek,with his mail and passenger express outside Canvastown Post office.

The first St. Pauls Church at Canvastown

Looking from the Wakamarina Bridge towards the School and Debating Hall. The third and present Canvastown school on the site of the second school.

Realignment of the road in front of the villag

A couple of good books to read on the history of Canvastown and the Wakamarina Valley are :-

GOLD IN A TIN DISH   volume  1  by Mike Johnson  (can be ordered through the  Gold n Store  at

  69 Main Road Havelock Marlborough) 

CANVAS & GOLD   by Norman Brayshaw  

An Extract from Canvas & Gold regarding the building of the Canvastown School.

In the report of the Marlborough  Council dated June 16th 1874 reported in the Marlborough Express of 17th June 1874 is as follows.

Mr Douslin moved that His Honour the Superintendent be respectfully requested to place on the Estimates the sum of  120 pounds  for building a school house at Canvastown.They were anxious to have a school at Canvastown, but had not the means to erect one, but they thought that if they had a school they  (the settlers) would be able to raise 80 pounds a year for its support. There were many children  on the diggings and in the immediate neighbourhood of Canvastown. There were  at least 25 but there was no possibility of attending a school at Havelock and he (Douslin)hoped that the  Government would see its way to support this vote.  Mr Mills  seconded the motion, believing that the money would be beneficially laid out, as there were 25 to 30 children in the district, and a school would be a great public convenience. His Honour said he regretted that he was unable to agree to the motion. He was aware of the need for schools in many places but the council was fully committed that year. In future sessions they might be able to do more but at present they were obliged to consider those that were most needed. Mr Ward said he did not like to vote against the motion without saying that they had not the money. The principal point made by the mover was that other places had had assistance and Mr Ward suggested that the Pelorus County do something toward the motion.Mr Douslin said it was the intention to provide a small building at Canvastown where children at a distance from Canvastown  could reside. There were some children who had lived there for 8 years and had no means whatever  of getting education. The question had be frequently been before the County Board but they were unable to do anything without Government help.  The motion was defeated 9 votes to 7.

The above picture is a Christmas card sent by Charles and Margaret Mills in 1900. Mills was a strong advocate of mining and from 1890 to 1908  was a member of parliament. From 1909 to 1916 he sat on the Legislative Council. The recipient of the card was William Bond, one of the proprietors of the Nelson Colonist. 

The first incumbent of this new Waimea-Sounds seat was Arthur Seymour(1887-90) followed by Charles Mills (1890-960. Both men were strong advocates of mining and invested in a number of companies and claims.With the abolition of the Waimea-Sounds seat in 1896 the Havelock and Pelorus settlers found themselves,much to their disgust,in the Nelson City electorate. As a consequence Mills was forced to contest the Wairau seat, defeating T. Lindsay Buick, the sitting member and later author of Old Marlborough,by a mere 53 votes, while John Graham, was re-elected for Nelson City and its unwilling addition of the Pelorus. Both Mills and Graham were government members, thereby ensuring that their electorates were well to the front when it came to obtaining finance for public works. To be closer to his constituents Mills, who was to retain the Wairau seat until 1908, moved from Havelock  early in 1897 but continued to take active interest in his old electorate. For the 1902 and subsequent elections Havelock was back in the Wairau electorate but most of the Pelorus remained in Nelson. At the 1908 election Graham was unsuccessfully challenged by an up-and -coming politician of independent mind,Harry Atmore. It was perhaps this attribute which resulted in Atmore getting his greatest support in the Pelorus at Deep Creek. Mills did not stand at this election and was succeeded by John Duncan. 


Our Connection to Canvastown:-     Charles Houghton Mills was my wife's Great grandfather. My wife's maiden name is Eily Lillian Boyce (always called Anne) and her mothers maiden name was Phyllis Constance Mills. Her father was Claude Houghton Mills the son of Charles and Margaret Mills. Hence our connection to the Wakamarina Valley Canvastown.



Margaret Mills nursing her great grand son John Morrison Boyce.  Margaret's maiden name was Morrison and Margaret was always known as Granny Mills by her grand children.