William Josiah Hartley Holmes
1871 - 1954
William Josiah Hartley Holmes was born on May 28, 1871, in St. Catherines, Ontario. Holmes moved out to Victoria with his family where he was educated and then he attended the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario where he graduated with honours in 1891. Holmes was following in the footsteps of his father Colonel Josiah Greenwood Holmes. Returning to British Columbia the same year, he assisted with surveys on the coast under Dominion Land Surveyors R.E. Palmer and J.H. McGregor. He also worked as assistant engineers on the Victoria and Sidney railway location and construction under J.H. Gray (C.E. and P.L.S.). He articled to C.E. Perry and received his British Columbia Land Surveyors commission in April 1893. He continued working on the coast and Vancouver Island till 1896 then moved to the Kootenays where he engaged in mining and railway surveys till 1908. In 1898 he took on the role of treasurer/secretary for the Association of Provincial Land Surveyors of British Columbia. As well as working as a Civil Engineer and Surveyor, between 1902 to 1908, Holmes led #4 Company Rocky Mountain Rangers and then for the next four years (1908 to 1912) he was their Commanding Officer. The years 1909 - 1914 inclusive covered activities mostly on Vancouver Island including a number of government consignments. One of these was the survey of Strathcona Provincial Park. Before returning to Vancouver Island, Holmes had a promising young surveyor, William DeVoe, articled to him while working on the surveys of the Arrow Lakes and Skeena River. DeVoe then came out to the Island with Holmes and worked on the survey of Strathcona Park with him. DeVoe received his British Columbia Land Surveyors commission in the spring of 1913, however, while crossing the Campbell River later in the season he came to a tragic end when he drowned.
Colonel Holmes went overseas in 1915 in command of the 48th Battalion which he had mobilized and trained and which later converted to the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Corps under his command. At the end of the war he was in command of the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp at Etaples, France. He was invested with the D.S.O. and was mentioned in dispatches of General Haig. After the war he renewed field surveys of the British Columbia government until 1930 mainly on triangulation control surveys on the coast. An interlude of road location surveys in China for the Cantonese government occurred in 1922. For several years prior to retiring in 1943, Holmes looked after the Air Photo Library of the provincial Surveys Branch. He was a prominent Mason and took an interest in Veteran's activities.
Colonel William Homes passed away at the age of eighty-three in the Veterans' Hospital in Victoria, on July 10, 1954. H.D. Parizeau, of the Hydrographic Service Department was responsible for naming Holmes Inlet on the coast of British Columbia after Colonel Holmes in 1934.
British Columbia Archives and Records Service. A manuscript of a letter to F.V. Longstaff, #677, V. 405, #317.