The Triangle – Noxious Exhalations, a Precocious Wastrel and a Special Earthquake

“William Wilson was formerly a cabbage dealer in Canterbury; but fourteen years ago he was poor, whereas now he is rich, a circumstance attributable to a lucky speculation in a piece of land called the Triangles, at Christchurch, which was offered to more than one, previously to being bought for £200 by Wilson, who, unlike the others, had sufficient foresight not to refuse it which now, in rental, brings him in £900 per annum.” [1]

A Bit of Old Christchurch

Extracts from “A Bit of Old Christchurch.” [2]

I think it must have been about 1857, on the section… at the junction of High and Cashel streets, that an unusual event occurred. A circus planted itself on the vacant block, it may be the first that ever visited the city. The proprietor and manager was Mr Foley, who at that time was well known throughout the Colonies, and met with some ups and downs.

That section remained unbuilt on, and was used for some time by Mr Barnard, the horse auctioneer, as a saleyard, and upon the rails of that block he posted himself on Saturdays, knocking down horses and other necessaries. It was a busy scene in a rough way.

So the section remained until about the time of the Otago rush, when, having passed into the hands of Mr W. Wilson, it was by him leased, at the rate, it was then said, of from a pound to twenty-five shillings a foot frontage. It was soon covered with buildings, and those have disappeared to make room for modern ones. In one of the original buildings was after wards published for some time a lively little evening paper, The Mail.

One of the original shops was occupied by Mr James Wood, the saddler, and in his windows he used to pillory, in caricature fashion, a rival tradesman who some years after disappeared and also, one of his pet aversions, Mr John Birdsey, once of the British Hotel, Geelong, who came to Canterbury about 1861 and revolutionised the catering trade.

The next section working northwards was, I think, the property of a Mr Bradley, and occupied for some time as a schoolroom. About the year 1859, the Wesleyan Chapel was built upon it, later on sold, when that denomination built their new church in Durham street. It was said that the land had been given by the owner for the purpose. The chapel when sold was converted into a hall and used for many purposes, and is now replaced by a drapery establishment.

The houses from there to Fisher’s corner were unpretentious buildings. In one Mr Prebble carried on one of the first hair dressing enterprises in Christchurch, later on developed into Professor Ayers’ establishment and baths.

At the corner for many years Mr Fisher carried on a grocery business. Such is a short outline of the appearance at that time of the busy footpath from Cashel street to the Bank of New Zealand. Ah, had people only known, wouldn’t they have secured a few feet. But in those years, as in later years, even now, there were any amount of gloomy forebodings, and Christchurch and Canterbury, there is no doubt, have been doomed many times.

High Street-27477-577958
High Street 1869, decorated for the first Royal visit, that of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh. [3]
High Street 1869, decorated for the first Royal visit, that of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh. Mundy Album, no 2. page no. 75. Auckland War Memorial Museum. Slide No: 558. Number: C7352
Looking down High Street 1869, from Colombo street during the Royal visit. [4]

Part 2: John Jauncey Buchanan and His Valuable Allotment
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