Thomas Ellis Ladner is one of British Columbiaís most respected pioneers. He and his brother, William Henry Ladner, founded the village of Ladnerís Landing where a post office was opened on March 1, 1875. Today, Ladner is known for its historic town centre and its scenic waterfront location on the Fraser River Estuary.
Thomas was born in Trenant Park, Cornwall, England on September 8, 1836. He was one of six children born to Edward Ladner and Sarah (Ellis) Ladner. Thomas' older brother William brought Thomas to Wisconsin in 1851, and after the death of their father, the two travelled by wagon caravan to California in 1852. In 1858 the brothers left for British Columbia to join the Cariboo Gold Rush, establishing profitable packtrain businesses. In 1866 Thomas settled in New Westminster, running a feed store. He moved his family to Delta in 1870 to land that he had pre-empted in 1868 on the east side of Chilukthan Slough, opposite his brother William's holdings. The town of Ladner became established on William's property, and eventually grew to encompass Thomas original farm, which he named Trenant after his birthplace.
Thomas was involved in the building and operation of one of the first canneries on the lower Fraser River, the Delta Canning Company, at Ladner's Landing in 1878. Ladner, R.P. Rithet and associates later formed the Victoria Canning Company Ltd., the operations of which fell on Ladner as general manager. The company eventually controlled nine canneries, of which five were on the Fraser River: the Delta, Holly, Laidlaw, Harlock, and Wellington canneries. Ladner also served as the President of the British Columbia Salmon Canners Association, travelling to Ottawa to lobby on behalf of the canning industry. In 1902, suffering from ill health, Ladner retired from the Victoria Canning Co., and the business was sold to the British Columbia Packers' Association. After retiring from the cannery business, Ladner's health improved, and he concentrated on the development of his farming operation and real estate business.
Thomas married Edna Booth (1840-1883) on February 21, 1865 at St. Johnís Anglican Church in Victoria, BC. They had six children of which three survived to adulthood: Thomas Ellis (1871-1958) , Edward Booth (1869-1942), and May (1867-1941) who married Frank Lord. After Edney died in 1882, Thomas remarried in 1884. Minnie Elizabeth Parr (1867-1936) and Thomas had five children of which three survived: Leon Johnson (1884-1978), Alice Parr (1886-1972), and Violet Mary (1888-1955). They also adopted a child Pearl (1901-1976). Their large family home and acreage in Ladner was named Trenant Park, and stood on the property now occupied by Trenant Park Mall. Thomas Ellis Ladner died on April 24, 1922 after leaving a remarkable legacy for the people of British Columbia.