Harold Fairfax Prevost is associated with one landmark building in downtown Duncan. In 1923, architect Douglas James designed the commercial building at 45 Craig Street (now Just Jakes’s Restaurant) for Harold F. Prevost as a location for his stationery business.
Harold F. Prevost was also active in civic politics, serving on City Council from 1919-1921 and as Mayor of Duncan from 1929 to 1935. As Mayor of Duncan, he considered his major achievement in office to have been keeping the City of Duncan’s finances in good order through the early years of the Great Depression.
Harold Prevost was also a member of Temple Lodge, No.33 A.F.&A.M., serving as Master of the Masonic Lodge in 1918.
Here is a brief biographical sketch of Harold Fairfax Prevost taken from the local newspaper reports of his death and funeral:
Prevost — Mr Harold Fairfax Prevost- seven term mayor of Duncan, died at midnight on Thursday at Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, where he had been last September. He was 63 years old and had been in poor health for 12 years.
On both his father’s and mother’s sides Mr. Prevost came of a family with a long connection with B.C. His grandfather, Admiral James Charles Prevost, nephew of Sir George Prevost, Governor-General of Canada during the War of 1812, had charge of early surveys for the British navy on’ this coast and gave his name to Mount Prevost and other geographical features. Admiral Prevost also had a part in the San Juan boundary negotiations and took a lead in encouraging missionary work among the Indians of the north coast.
The admiral’s elder son, Mr. James Charles Prevost, came to British Columbia to live, and in 1873 married Anna Jane Pry, a member of a well- known pioneer family of this district. Their eldest son, Harold Fairfax, was born in Victoria on January 11, 1878, but spent part of his youth at Quamichan Lake, where the family then owned a great deal of property, living where the Stewart Williams do now.
He finished his schooling in Victoria and in those years and the few years following enjoyed a period of strenuous physical activity which gave him a share In some of the phases of British Columbia’s development and helped to set the tone of his whole life, though the later part of It was spent in a sedentary occupation.
His father operated one of the first salvage vessels on the coast and young Prevost sometimes enveloped himself in a diver’s suit and helmet and went down Into the depths to probe at wrecked hulls. He also was aboard when his father’s ship brought stone from Nelson Island for construction at the Parliament Buildings, and I later be worked on these buildings as a mason’s assistant.
With such an upbringing — and with an admiral for a grandfather and great-grand father — It was natural that Mr. Prevost should always have a passion for the sea. He was never happier than when on the water, whether In the Increasingly fine launches he owned throughout his life or gliding alone in a skiff with his spear poised for cod. When he was nearly 60 he hollowed out a dugout canoe and came down the river from Cowichan Lake to Duncan alone.
He saw a good deal of B.C. to his youth through working with survey parties, and when the St. Louis World’s Fair came alone he set out to see that, making his way by the then equivalent of hltch-hlklng and working en route at the building of i the San Pedro breakwater in California.
Mount Sicker’s mining boom found him there, living and working in the colourful village on the mountaintop and often walking down at night with other tireless young men to dance till dawn in Duncan and walk back just in time to go on shift again.
After this his life changed. He opened a stationery store and sporting goods store and settled down in Duncan, marrying Mary Powel in 1910 and building a home near the river at the end of McKinstry Road. Until his health began to fall about 1938, he carried on his business successfully, eventually erecting his own building, now rented to Powel’s Men’s Wear.
In this time he found his exercise in sport. He was a keen and expert fisherman and a good shot. In his younger days he played soccer on teams representing Duncan, tried nearly every forms of organized sport| and attained fair proficiency at tennis, especially at doubles. For years Duncan Lawn Tennls Club has given him honorary office. Golf was his favourite game, however, and for a long time he was one of Duncan’s leading players, winning the Bundock Cup five times.
When his health began to fall more a dozen years ago, Mr. Prevost sought recovery in a return as far as possible to the outdoor life of his youth. He spent two summers fishing in the neighbourhood of; Deep Bay.
Nevertheless he had to undergo a serious operation which forced him to give up his business. He rallied amazingly and until last summer managed to maintain fair health by turning to the sea for relaxation and recompense. He operated his 40-foot cruiser. Aquarius, for charter, particularly delighting in long trips up the coast.
During this latter period be found time to serve the city, too. He was elected mayor at the beginning of 1929 and retired voluntarily at the end of 1933, having held office for seven years continuously, most of the time without opposition. It was his pride that he guided Duncan through the difficult Depression years without any impairment of Its excellent financial position.
Until recent years Mr. Prevost was an active Mason, and for a time he was secretary of Temple Lodge.
Besides his wife, who has been with him in Victoria for the greater part of the last eight months, Mr. Prevost leaves two sons: Gerald in Duncan and Alan in Vancouver, and two granddaughters. He has two sisters living: Mrs. Hilda Lomas, Victoria, and Mrs. Freda Devitt, Port Albemi; and another sister died a few years ago. His younger brother, Wilfred, was killed overseas in 1917. Mrs. M. E. Mainguy, La Jolla, California, formerly of Westholme, is his aunt.
Friends from many parts of the district attended the funeral on Sunday afternoon at St. Peter’s Church.,Quamicban. Duncan City Council came in a body. The Rev. Canon T. M. Hughes officiated and Mr. B. W. Clements played the organ for two hymns: *Now the Labourer’s Task Is O’er” and “Abide With Me.’
Pallbearers were: Messrs R. C. Mainguy. H. Oray. W. B. Powel, K. F. Duncan, W. M. Dwyer and E.S. Fox.
Hayward’s B.C. Funeral Co.. Victoria, made arrangements.”
Source: Cowichan Leader, 29 May 1941