Christchurch’s First Christmas ~ 1848

On the 27th March 1848, the day the Canterbury Association was founded, the dream that was to become Christchurch was born.  Although at the time, the Port Cooper (Canterbury) Plains was just one of the options, by the month of December, it was almost a certainty. All throughout 1848, Canterbury Association surveyors began to replace …

Douglas Graham (1818 – 1872)

The news of finding coal at Homebush had been pretty exciting for the Deans and all concerned. James McIlraith – Jane Deans’ half brother and manager of Homebush – and Julius van Haast – the founder of the Canterbury Museum – had made the discovery in the late 1870’s. Just two years later, a coal …

Christchurch’s First Court Case

As the citizens of Christchurch went about their business at the Land Office (which is now a part of the Canterbury Provincial Chambers), upstairs, in a very small room sat four of our founding fathers, squished in side by side behind a small table. They were John Robert Godley (founder of Canterbury), Mark Stoddart (first …

The Avon River (Ōtākaro)

I can’t begin to fathom how surreal the afternoon/evening of the 16th December 1850 would have been for the Deans brothers. Especially as they may have stood in the doorway of the Deans Cottage while the shrieks and shouts of two stripped down male settlers splashed about in the Avon River – their echoes adding …

Jane Deans (1823 – 1911)

It wasn’t love at first sight for either John or Jane Deans…unbelievable concerning the history they made together. Jane was born at Auchenflower Farm, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 21st April 1823. She was eldest child of farmer/gentleman James McIlraith and his first wife Agnes. When her mother died, Jane became the mother hen of her …

The Deans Cottage Gets Built – 1843

For the oldest dwelling on the Canterbury Plains, there is very little written about the intimate details of the Deans Cottage build – not even the actual date was thought important enough to be recorded.  All we know – is that it was constructed sometime in the latter half of 1843 from Kahikatea and Matai …