Billheads are illustrated receipts which were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some engravings on these old receipts are quite lavish and occasionally in colour. This billhead, dated Aug. 31, 1891 features a wonderful drawing of a ladies boot.
The purchaser was Robert Lettice, a British-born builder and painter who emigrated to the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1860. By 1891 he employed 20 men in a “paint, oils, glass and wall paper” business based at 40 Fort St. He lived with his wife and six children at 58 Kane Street which was located on what is now the north side of Broughton Street between Blanshard and Quadra. Robert had five daughters aged between 10 and 23 and so it isn’t surprising that he was in need of the ladies boots and shoes listed on this billhead. Robert Lettice died on Aug. 18, 1917, aged 86, and is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery.
Henry Mansell was born in London but by 1860 he had established the first boot and shoe manufacturing business in what was to become the Province of British Columbia. In 1863 his bootmaking shop was located at 87 Government Street but by the mid 1880’s he was at 95 Government Street, near the corner with Yates Street (note: Victoria’s street numbering system changed in the early 1900’s). This advertisement in an 1882 issue of the British Colonist does not include a street number at all. Henry Mansell retired in 1902 and died on Nov. 13, 1910. He’s buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, a stones throw away from Robert Lettice.