Sapper Bruce was born in
1832 in England.
Joining the Royal Sappers and
Miners, Bruce's trade was listed as carpenter. In 1854, he found himself
in the Crimea during the siege work at the Russian fortress of
Henry Bruce's Crimea War Medal
Volunteering for service in British
Columbia, Bruce traveled with Captain Grant's party, arriving in the
Colony November 8th of 1858.
Bruce remained in the Colony when the
Detachment was disbanded in November of 1863.
During the dry Spring of 1864,
disaster struck Bruce.
1st June 1864 - The British Columbian
A Conflagration - Owing to the extreme dryness of the
weather and the high winds which prevailed during yesterday the
fire spread at a fearful rate amongst the lying timber in the rear
of this city, and the town was at one period considered in
imminent danger. Several unimportant buildings in the suburban
plot, together with fences and gardenstuffs, were destroyed, and
the two mills immediately below the city were saved with much
difficulty. But the chief damage was done at Sapperton, the
north-eastern suburbs, where, we regret to say, four dwellings
were consumed, viz., Mr. Bruce's, Mr. Franklin's, Mr.
Gilchrist's and Mr. Edwards'. Many other buildings in that
locality were in great danger, but were saved through the most
praiseworthy exertions of the redoubtable Hyacks, assisted by
valuable volunteer aid. This fire must have destroyed a
considerable amount of property and shows the necessity of having
all the lying timber adjacent to the city burned off as soon as
possible. The Hyacks had a hard day of it. They were at work at
Webster and Co.'s mill when the summons came for them to go to the
Camp. We have, unhappily, of late had two striking illustrations
of the efficiency and value of the Fire Department, and we trust
that in future every reasonable facility will afforded them in
order to keep up an organization so indispensable to the safety of
28 January 1910.
Saturday 4th June 1864 - The British Colonist
Having been personally engaged up to a late hour on Tuesday in
repelling the advance of the flames upon the property in the
rear of the city, we were unable to give anything beyond the
very meagre notice which appeared in our last issue of
Wednesday. In that notice we gave the names of four who were
burned out at Sapperton. We are happy to learn subsequently
that only three of the four were really victims, viz., Franklin,
who lost his house and a great part of his effects; Bruce,
who lost every article he possessed in the world; Gilchrist, who
lost his house and a portion of his effects. This last case was
rendered perhaps more distressing from the circumstances of
Gilchrist having been absent upon the Bute Inlet Expedition,
from which he only returned to find a heap of smouldering ashes
where he left a comfortable house and happy family. There were
instances of heroic bravery, too, which ought to be noticed in
connection with the Sapperton fire. We learn that almost
superhuman exertions were made in order to check the fire, and
no better evidence of this is needed than the fact that
Colston's house is now standing. The Hon. Colonial Secretary,
Mr. J.T. Scott, Mr. C. Good, Mr. Howse, Mr. Deasy, Mr. Argyle,
Mr. Green and Mr. Ede, have all been mentioned to us as having
exerted themselves in the most praiseworthy and sometimes daring
manner in order to save both life and property. The damage done
to fences and garden stuffs must be very considerable, as we are
informed that every piece of fencing in Sapperton was either
burned or torn down to save it from being burned. The roads in
that neighbourhood also suffered more or less injury. On the
Pitt river road 234 feet of the roadway which was constructed of
cedar logs covered with earth and gravel, was burned, while on
the North or Burrard road, three of the bridges are more or less
injured. In the rear of the city the house of Mr. Benney was
destroyed, and back about 2 miles on the Douglas street road Mr.
Bennet was burned out, while some three miles down the river Mr.
Martin's buildings were destroyed together with most of the
the north-western suburbs considerable damage has been done in
the destruction of fencing and garden stuff. There is an old
saying that nothing is so bad but it might be worse; and
notwithstanding all these losses and misfortunes a general
feeling of thankfulness ought to pervade the community on
account of the smallness of the aggregate loss; and that feeling
should find practical expression in assisting as far as our
circumstances will allow, the few who have lost their all.
According to Frances Woodward, Bruce received Crown Grant, 29th
April 1870, for Lot 49, Group 2, New Westminster District, 150 acres.
Bruce died the