Misspellings of My Surname . . . Let Me Count the Ways!

Peter A Awrey Cropped from CVA LGN 484. 1889.

Aurey, Aury, Owrey, and Awray. I have found all of these mis-spellings of the surname of Peter Alpaugh Awrey (1824-1906). (Oddly, his middle name — which seems to me more challenging — was never misspelled in official documents!) The good folks at the B.C. Vital Statistics branch even managed to get one spelling for Peter (Aurey) and a different one for his wife, Rachel (Awrey)!

Awrey was, before coming to B.C., a farmer in Ontario and later (1880-1886) in Emerson, Manitoba. He and his wife, Rachel, came to Vancouver the year after civic incorporation (1886) to put up their heels after a lifetime of sowing and harvesting to enjoy their retirement. Why Vancouver? Well, it seems that they had a daughter living here: Martha (David) Evans. Perhaps that fact in addition to the more moderate climate of Vancouver served as motives.

Peter didn’t completely relax, though. He was a deacon at First Baptist Church, and later was named the first “life deacon”. He was also on the board of the Alexandra Orphanage.

LP 103.3 – Birds eye view looking down on 522 Homer Street from vantage of Holy Rosary Catholic Church. The home set back on the lot is likely 522; their yard is where the Homer Parking lot would be by 1974. Albert Langlois photo. 1900.
Crop of CVA 778-197 – The Homer Parking lot (shown in between the garage at right and the Victoria block at left) would have been 522 Homer. 1974.

The Awreys lived for most of their years in Vancouver at 522 Homer Street in the long-forgotten days when there were residences all along that street, before there was a wee parking lot on their former lot, and long before BC Hydro dominated the block.

For the last couple years of Peter’s life, the Awreys lived with daughter and son-in-law, Martha and David Evans, at their home at 724 Robson (the south side of Robson near Granville). Shortly after Christmas in 1905, Peter was out for a walk in their neighbourhood when he spotted a construction site and moved in for a closer view of it. In that period, streets did not have concrete sidewalks, but instead wooden boardwalks. The local newspaper attributed Peter’s accidental fall to his “failing eyesight”, but it could just as easily have been unsteadiness due to his age. But, in any case, he stumbled and fell into the excavated construction pit. When he was discovered some time later, he was unconscious, and was moved to the Evans’ home. He never regained consciousness and died nearly 48 hours later (Province, 2 January 1906). He was 83.

Str P229 – This is the south side of Robson between Granville and Howe. David and Martha Evans’ home (and David’s tailor business) would have been two doors to the right of the frame of this photo; just west of the barber shop shown here. Note the wooden boardwalk. Imagine how precarious it would have been to be standing on the edge of a wooden walk when trying to see a (presumably un-fenced) excavation of an undeveloped lot. ca1900.

Rachel passed in 1913 at age 85. David Evans (who formed the first Vancouver brass band) died in 1916 at age 65. Martha in 1948 at age 87.

The Awreys had one surviving grandchild from David and Martha: Joy Evans. The Awreys were predeceased by their grandson, Caradoc Evans, who died in 1887 (at age 10 months), who was the first person to be buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.

Port N173.6 – Mrs. David Evans at her son’s grave (Caradoc Evans) in Mountain View Cemetery. 1939.
Excerpt from 1st Baptist (Vancouver) Minute Book From Its Organization March 16th, 1887 to January 5th 1898. This shows the coming into membership of the Awreys at First Baptist Church on June 28, 1887. (Note: The church clerk of the time misspelled the Awreys’ name, too!), Page 5. Courtesy: First Baptist Church Archives.

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4 Responses to Misspellings of My Surname . . . Let Me Count the Ways!

  1. Tim Woodland says:

    Historians have had a tough time spelling a few local people and places…Sol/Saul Reamy/Ramey early important logging boss for Hastings Mill comes to mind. Often wonder if we know less about the misspelled ones due to researcher apathy or confusion. Waiting to see if Lisa Anne Smith had any more luck/perseverance in her forthcoming book this month.

    Tim W.

  2. UBC Archives says:

    Presumably no relation to pro hockey player Don Awrey? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Awrey

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