Henry (“Harry”) S. Van Buren

VPL 21209 North West Bldg, Nov 1921 Dominion Photo Co.

VPL 21209 North West Building (8-storey bldg.) and the site (as of 1939) of Western Manufacturers Salvage to the left at 525 Richards (roughly at the location where Albion Books is today; the building shown here is long gone). 1921. Dominion Photo Co.

Henry Samuel Van Buren (1885-1977) was a Vancouver business owner from the late ’20s until the late ’40s.  He seems to have had two principal businesses: VB Grocery (from 1926 until about 1935) and Western Merchandise Brokers (during the 1940s).

Henry Samuel Van Buren (often called “Harry” throughout his life) was born in 1884 in Morden, MB to Henry Cornelius Van Buren and Rosamond Law. He was the middle child of three; Abram and Hazel were his older and younger siblings, respectively. In 1905, Van Buren set out to homestead a piece of land in the area around Macleod, AB (today, Fort Macleod). A few years later, he moved to the Strathmore area (east of Calgary). What his occupation there was, isn’t clear.

Sometime between 1923 and 1925, Van Buren moved to Vancouver. He established his first business here, VB Grocery, at 1509 Commercial Drive. He packed it in as a grocer by 1935 and a couple of years later was proprietor of Western Merchandise Brokers, a salvage firm at 525 Richards (a couple doors south of Pender on the west side of Richards). By the late 1940s, he retired.

Henry Samuel married Clara Mabel Snell. The year they were married and the year of his wife’s death are not clear (one source shows her passing in 1935; another shows 1972). Henry and Mabel had one child, Henry Lloyd, who died in 2003. The Van Burens (at least as far back as H. S. Van Buren’s grandfather) had been Baptists.

Van Buren moved to Vancouver Island after retiring from the salvage business.* In his very late years, Van Buren returned to Vancouver, where he lived out his final days. He died at 92 at Pearson Hospital in 1977. Padre James Duncan (former Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Vancouver) led Van Buren’s memorial service.


*There is evidence of a Harry Van Buren living in Victoria from 1948. However, the Victoria Directory shows him living there with someone called “Enid”. Because I’ve found no other mention of an Enid in any Van Buren records, I’m inclined to treat this as being someone other than our Harry Van Buren.

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