Ernest Augustus Muling, French Chef

Update

Vancouver Tourism Guide 1905 Ad
Ad in Tourists’ Guide of Vancouver, BC. 1905. This illustration of Muling is the closest thing I could find to a photographic portrait.

Ernest Augustus Muling (1861-1949) was a Frenchman by birth (in Blumenau), an Englishman by nationality, and a chef by profession.

He came to Vancouver from Brisbane, Australia where he seems to have spent his twenties and early thirties and where his first two children were born (May and Madeleine, also known as Madge); Ernest’s wife, Annie (1868-1942) was born in England.

His career in Vancouver was on-again-off-again. He would work for a year or more at a hotel or hotel restaurant, and then he would be described for a year or two subsequently (in the Vancouver directory) as a “caterer” — restaurant lingo, I presume, for “self-employed”.

His first experience of the restaurant business in Vancouver was at the Strand Hotel‘s King Edward Silver Grill (ca1905-06). The Strand was mid-way down the south side of the 600 block of West Hastings. He was catering (and traveling in Europe for a few months in 1907) during the 1907-11 period. (A June 1912 clipping noted that Ernest Muling had recently “assumed charge of the Wigwam Inn” (World, 17 June 1912); however, this seems to be the only claim in the local press of this and so I’m assuming it was either a very short-lived appointment or was a press error).

In 1912, Ernest was the proprietor of the Trocadero Grill. The Trocadero was on the south side of the 100 block of West Hastings (at 156 W. Hastings). He catered in 1913.

He was the proprietor of the Langham Hotel at 1115 Nelson Street in 1914. The Langham was what we’d call today a “boutique” hotel. Located just west of Thurlow on Nelson, the charming little hotel building (and its single family dwelling neighbours) is no longer there; in its place today is a concrete multi-residential behemoth.

Starting in 1915, Ernest had moved on to the Grosvenor Hotel Cafe. The Grosvenor was at the SE corner of Howe at Robson. He remained there until 1917/18.While he was working at the Grosvenor, the Mulings lived there. In 1919, he catered again.

CVA 780-415 - [Buildings along Nelson Street at] Thurlow [Street]1966-2
CVA 780-415 – Buildings along Nelson Street at Thurlow Street, including the Langham Hotel (the three-storey brick building in foreground). 1966.

In 1920, Ernest was a chef with the Canadian Pacific Railway. What precisely this meant is opaque to me. Whether it meant he was cooking for the staff of the CPR, working in one of the CPR’s public eating establishments, or cooking on a train, isn’t clear.

The CPR job seems to have been his final one in Vancouver. There is no further record in the city of Ernest, Annie, May (or the two boys who came later: Edward, who apprenticed with BC Electric Railway for a couple of years and who seems to have gone to California, dying in San Francisco; and Richard, who took up work as an electrician while in Vancouver).

Mrs. Muling, for at least a couple of their early years in Vancouver (1908-09), seems to have been the first manager of the Gresham rooming house at SW corner of Granville and Smithe. The rooming house was built in 1907-08 and began operation in late 1908 (Province, 12 December 1908). The Gresham is still known by that name and is at that location, today.

While living here, the Mulings participated in dog shows with their dachshund, “Tackle”, on at least one occasion winning best in show for that breed (Sun, 11 Oct 1912).

By 1921, the Muling family seems to have pulled up stakes.* They ended up in Australia again. Whether they went there directly or took a more circuitous route, isn’t clear to me. But most of the family, including Ernest, appear to have died in Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne, today).

vpl-7601-grosvenor-hotel-at-howe-robson-streets-1915-pt-timms-photo-2
VPL 7601 – Grosvenor Hotel at Howe & Robson Streets. 1915. P. T. Timms photo.

Notes

*Madeleine (aka Madge) married Charles Simpson Scott in Vancouver. She seems to have been the one Muling to have “stuck” here. She died at the ripe age of 93 in 1989 in North Vancouver.

This entry was posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, hotels/motels/inns, stuart thomson, timms, yesterday & today and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ernest Augustus Muling, French Chef

  1. I’m curious about the name of the Langham Hotel. There is a hotel in London, England still called the Langham Hotel – that once famously (or perhaps not so famously) was a place that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde once met for dinner.

    • mdm says:

      I don’t know the answer to your question, I’m afraid. It may be that in those heady post-colonial days, it was named after the London hotel. Or it may have been named after one of the six or so Langhams who lived in Vancouver around that time (although none of their occupations make me instantly think “property owner”). Or it may have had another, possibly quite obscure, source. I’ll keep my eyes open as I look through sources for other info, but I’m not hugely optimistic. Sorry.

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