The BAPCO plant on Laurel Point. Image courtesy of Victoria History
In 1879, William Pendray established Victoria’s first soap-works at Humboldt and Douglas streets, on the northern edge of the James Bay mudflats. By 1883 his White Swan soap plant was using 3000 pounds of tallow per week to provide the growing community of Victoria with 10,000 pounds of different types of cleansers.
The original Pendray soap works on Humboldt Street Courtesy of BC Archives
In 1906 Pendray sold the Humboldt site to the Canadian Pacific Railroad to make way for Francis Rattenbury’s plan to locate the new Canadian Pacific Railroad’s Empress Hotel on land claimed from James Bay.
Pendray commissioned Moore & Whittington of Fernwood to construct a new factory on Laurel Point, two blocks from the family home. The new buildings housed both his soap works and his recently acquired British Columbia franchise of the Canada Paint Company, a company that had been selling ready-mixed paint since 1893.
His soap enterprise, White Swan, was advertised as a soap that could be used as a hard worker in the kitchen, as a hand soap, or in the bathroom to bathe baby’s delicate skin. Swan, like Ivory, was a floating soap. Pendray sold the soap business to Lever Brothers in 1913 to concentrate on the paint business.
Pendray renamed the paint company the British American Paint Company or BAPCO, which manufactured paints, shellacs, and varnishes. At its peak BAPCO employed 150 workers and was doing over $1,000,000 in business annually. BAPCO’s paints, stains and varnishes were famous across western Canada and for some years was the largest paint manufacturer west of Toronto and north of San Francisco.
The Pendray home currently know as Gatsby House. Photo by Kelly Manning
He built BAPCO was the largest coatings manufacturer west of Toronto and North of San Francisco. On January 1, 1966 the Pendray family sold BAPCO to Canadian Industries Limited (CIL) then moved operations to the Surrey on the mainland in 1974.