Documents reveal Sidney’s growth through real estate

They survived the winter of 1996 and now a small collection of Sidney and Saanich Peninsula real estate documents dating back to 1914 will be protected for years to come.

Recently, Don Sparling of Sparling Real Estate in Sidney, signed over the documents into the care of Brad Morrison of the Sidney Archives. The collection includes a map of the Peninsula — highlighting the Bradley-Dyne area in a real estate offering in 1914. That area is now known as the Ardmore Subdivision in the District of North Saanich — which didn’t exist as a municipality at that time.

Other documents include photos of the original Sidney Hotel, Sidney Wharf and the business card of early real estate agent H.A. McKillean. One of the items is a list of Sidney-area property prices when the region was being populated in its early history. A typical property might have cost you $125 back then.

Morrison said the documents are significant in the history of Sidney and the Peninsula, as they show how the area grew through real estate sales.

“It helps create a picture of how the community grew,” he said, adding the items are also useful to people who are researching the area’s history.

The items nearly were lost back in 1996, said Sparling, whose dad Tom and grandfather Don, spearheaded Sidney’s early real estate community. His granddad was a realtor, notary and insurance broker back in 1925, when Sparling Real Estate was started. Still, business was such that he had to take work at the local customs office as well.

In the winter of ‘96, Sparling continued, a shed in the back of the real estate office collapsed under the weight of the snow. The damage and water destroyed some items stored there, but many documents, photos and maps survived and were kept in the office ever since.

“We just didn’t realize how significant this material was,” Sparling said. “And Brad even found out a lot of things about my granddad that even I didn’t know.”

Morrison said he plans to make the documents available to researchers, to protect it and hopefully to have it part of a Sidney historical display in the local museum.