Lieu­tenant Joseph Wil­liam Hobbs (RCNVR) - En­tre­pre­neur and ‘Ex­porter’

RCN News - - Front Page - By John M. Mac­Far­lane

Joseph Wil­liam Hobbs was born in Newury UK in 1881. He was trained as an engi­neer and im­mi­grated to Canada be­fore World War One, set­tling in Al­berta where he un­der­took a ca­reer in ranch­ing be­fore mov­ing to Van­cou­ver. He was one of the most col­or­ful char­ac­ters to serve with the Royal Cana­dian Navy.

Hobbs joined the Royal Naval Air Ser­vice, and was ap­pointed as a Pro­ba­tion­ary Flight Sub-Lieu­tenant (Temp.) RNAS 1915, a Flight Sub-Lieu­tenant (Temp.) RNAS, and a Flight Sub–Lieu­tenant RNAS 1918. He was a mem­ber of the Bri­tish Naval Air Mis­sion, which su­per­vised the con­struc­tion of a naval air sta­tion at Syd­ney, N.S. He was de­mo­bi­lized at the end of the War and trans­ferred to the RCNVR.

Hobbs was ap­pointed as an A/Lieu­tenant RCNVR on April 15, 1924 and was ap­pointed as the Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of the Van­cou­ver Half Com­pany RCNVR serv­ing from 1924-1929.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, Hobbs was in­volved in the build­ing of the twenty–two storey Ma­rine Build­ing in Van­cou­ver, which opened in 1930. The build­ing cost $2.3 mil­lion to build – about $1.1 mil­lion over bud­get, and it was not a fi­nan­cial suc­cess. It was fin­ished in time to co­in­cide with the fi­nan­cial col­lapse that brought on the Great De­pres­sion. Hobbs lost much of his in­vest­ment when it was sold to the Guin­ness fam­ily of Ire­land for $900,000.

Af­ter that, Hobbs was an agent for the Dis­tillery Com­pany Ltd. in Canada. He also used his com­mer­cial con­cern, Hobbs Brothers Ltd. in Van­cou­ver, as a front for the own­er­ship of the ves­sels he em­ployed for smug­gling. Af­ter the start of Pro­hi­bi­tion, he bought a steamship called the He started run­ning whisky (mainly Teacher’s High­land Cream whisky) through the Panama

Hobbs was later ap­pointed as the Man­ager of the Cana­dian De­vel­op­ment Co. Ltd. He es­tab­lished the Great Glen Cat­tle Ranch in 1931 in the West High­lands of Scot­land, as well as seven Scotch whisky dis­til­leries. He re­turned to Scot­land and with the Glas­gow firm of Train &McIn­tyre he pur­chased seven dis­til­leries: Bruich­lad­dich, Glenury, Royal, Gle­nesk, Fet­ter­cairn, Glenorchy, Ben­ro­mach and Strathdee. Hobbs was in part­ner­ship with Ha­tim Attari & Alexan­der Tolmie with the Na­tional Distillers of Amer­ica (which owned As­so­ci­ated Scot­tish Distillers Ltd.).

Hobbs and his Amer­i­can back­ers ran the dis­til­leries

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