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