Port Lyttelton – ‘a mean, insignificant little place’

This land-locked port of Lyttelton – called occasionally Port Cooper and sometimes Port Victoria – is the main, or rather the only, entrance to the Province of Canterbury. The surrounding hills, which are entirely volcanic, vary in height from 2000 ft, to 6000 ft, and bear, on close inspection, very palpable marks of calcination. The…

The Glenmark – Tragedy and a Fortune in Colonial Gold

“The tale of a shipwreck has for most readers a fascination unequalled by any other of the many forms of tragedy which from time to time sweep some unlucky band or section of humanity into eternity, and during last century [19th Century] shipping disasters were all too frequent around our rugged and then little-known coast….

A Visit to the Suburbs and a Parting Nor’ Wester

Notes on a Christchurch Trip By Fabian Bell Part V: A Visit to Some of the Suburbs and a Parting Nor’ Wester The room in which Bishop Julius was entertained at luncheon the other day is a particularly striking one. It is in the building which was formerly (when each province had its separate Government)…

Captain Lorraine’s Final Fatal Balloon Ascent

Captain Lorriane Loses his Life The Balloon Carried out to Sea A Terrible Fall. The Aeronaut Drowned, Fruitless Search for his Body. Star, Issue 6633, 3 November 1899, Page 4 Not one of the thousand spectators who gathered at Lancaster Park yesterday afternoon to witness the balloon ascent of Captain Lorraine would willingly pass through…

“Letter From New Zealand” …or Provincial Propoganda?

Dear Father and Mother, l arrived here all safe on the 23rd of September, after a splendid voyage of 94 days without a single storm. I enjoyed the voyage very much and was kindly treated by everybody, plenty to do and plenty of friends. I have nothing to say against the Government, for they looked…

“The Sick, Faint Feeling of Violent Shakes,” Jane Deans

For one of our city’s most famous early women settlers, poor health had marred not only her voyage to New Zealand but also her arrival to her new home at Riccarton. From the moment Jane Deans boarded the sailing ship at Plymouth for Canterbury in November of 1853, she suffered from motion sickness. As the voyage progressed, her sea…

Rudyard Kipling’s Flying Visit to Christchurch

By Our Special Reporter Yesterday morning I was at the Christchurch railway station with the intention of going to Port by the five minutes to eight train, in order to meet Mr Rudyard Kipling, who was a passenger on the Talune. I found that the steamer had arrived early in the morning, and that some…

The Mystery of the Severed Hand

“When the Clerk of the Court, in his quiet, matter-of-fact way, called Arthur Robert Howard, there was a hush of the murmured conversation among the crowd, and everyone looked towards the door by which prisoners enter the Court…” The Severed Hand or Severed Hand Mystery, Page 15-16, Published by Capper Press Eight miles from Christchurch…

Christchurch’s first phone call

In 1877, the world was abuzz with the news of Professor Bell’s invention – the telephone. The Steinway Hall,  in New York, was packed to capacity on the 2nd of April, 1877 with the first exhibition in a series in that city of ‘that marvellous discovery’ the telephone. Speculation was rife that it would supplant…

Christchurch’s Countess – Léontine, Countess de la Pasture

To the inhabitants of colonial Nelson, Léontine, Countess de la Pasture was the epitome of Victorian refinement and manners. To her husband – Gerard Gustavus Ducarel, the fourth Marquis de la Pasture – she was his beloved Lily, a virtuous and noble woman, who not only possessed great strength but generously opened her hand and her heart to the needy.

The Old Sumner Road Cave Dweller

A Pitiable Case As a man was walking around Sumner road, in October 1901, a lady passed by and drew his attention to a small cave in the side of the hill where she said an old lady and her husband were living. He was rather taken back, even more so when he went inside…

Loners, Vagrants and Deserters – The Port Hills Cave Dwellers

Since early European settlement, the caves that honeycombed the Port Hills, from Sumner to Lyttelton, have been used by all manner of loners, vagrants and deserters as places of escape or retreat One Sunday in July 1863, a party of men employed in the tunnel, while on an excursion to Godley Head, discovered an old…