Main Street Bridge
Vancouver before the fire from 10th Ave and
Quebec looking north

The talented Tomtu Huron Roberts came from humble beginnings. His family settled in Vancouver in 1883 from Toronto. His father, John Hugh Roberts was a tailor in Wales and throughout his life kept dairies. Tomhu lived with John and Anne Roberts throughout their lives so there is also a record of him. They granddaughter Winny also lived with them. The Roberts family was Ann, son Tomhu Huron Roberts (Tomtu), daughters Mississippi,daughter Sarah and granddaughters Winnie, Flossy & Flossy and grandson Charles & Charly.

Tomhu Huron Roberts (Tomtu) was trained in art in Toronto at Odell and Trout and apprenticed at Bridgman & Foster and did exquisite small sketches that were portraits and landscapes. He moved with is family to Vancouver and sketched all that surrounded him. His sketchbooks also had notes on how to do art.Tomhu arrived in Vancouver via San Francisco in 1884, homesteaded with his father buying and building on land at Quebec and 10th. He was one of the first listed Art Teacher in Vancouver. He is credited with helping found the first Art Gallery in Vancouver the Pioneer Art Gallery on Cordova 1886 or1887.

Tomhu fought with is father John Hugh Robers to save their home during the great fire of 1885. It is mentioned in the dairies that they often walked together through many familair places in Vancouver such as Kitsilano, Granville St. what is now False Creek. They lived at Quebec St. and 10th Ave. and later built a house in Point Grey.

Tomtu's sister Mississippi and William Steele had three children - one was born in 1886 in Vancouver - Charles Steele. This was Tomhus' nephew and all of Tomtu's painting and writing were left with him when Tomhu passed on.Charles Steele was the "First boy to be born registered in Vancouver after incorporation". His birth was in August and it was registered in New Westminister as there was not a office to do it in Vancouver at the time. He was friends with my mother Mary Bertrand and when he passed away at age 91 all his family drawings, writings photos and Tomhu's paintings were left to her and she passed them on to her son, Dale Bertrand. Some painting had previously been sold to the Museum by Charles Steele. With what was received by us we are able to share a little bit with you about this remarkable family and the life of Tomhu Huron Roberts. %

Roberts Heritage Foundation

Images of People and Places in Vancouver 1885