DRIARD, SOSTHENES MAXIMILIAN, hotelier; b. 1819 at Chapelle-la-Reine (Department of Seine et Marne), France; d., probably a bachelor, on 15 Feb. 1873 at Victoria, B.C.
Sosthenes Maximilian Driard was one of those Frenchmen who, as a result of the revolution of 1848, the downfall of Louis-Philippe, and the ensuing economic depression in France, decided to emigrate to the “New World.” Driard is said to have settled initially in New Orleans but in 1853 he was certainly in San Francisco. At that time, in association with Jules Rueff and others, Driard founded a charitable organization called Maison d’Asile, designed to assist Frenchmen not eligible for help from the French Benevolent Society. Driard, and also Rueff (who later moved to Victoria, B.C.), were among its first directors.
Driard, according to his obituaries, was attracted to British Columbia in 1858 by news of the Fraser River gold rush; the first mention of his presence in Victoria is in 1859 when he advertised the Colonial Restaurant in the Victoria Gazette. Edgar Fawcett, a well-known pioneer, described the Colonial Hotel in the 1860s as “one of the swell places of that day” and its owner as “very corpulent and asthmatic.” In 1871 Driard purchased the St George Hotel on View Street. With two additional storeys, numerous alterations, and new furnishings, the hotel, renamed Driard House, was opened in May 1872, advertising accommodation for 100. Driard died nine months later at the age of 54; the hotel, luxurious and with a fine cuisine, was subsequently owned by his nephew Louis Lucas and a partner, Louis Redon, eventually passing to the Hartnagles.
Driard was a member of the French Benevolent Society of Victoria, formed early in 1860. The society founded a hospital in Victoria and initiated a system of medical benefits at a low monthly fee. There were no restrictions as to the nationality of its subscribers. Driard was also a member of Victoria Lodge, Free and Ancient Masons (an unusual proceeding for a Roman Catholic), probably drawn to freemasonry by his benevolent and charitable disposition. He was also one of the charter members and a director of the British Columbia Pioneer Society. In his will he remembered relatives (most of whom were in France), the sisters of St Ann, and the French Benevolent Society; if he died in B.C., four baskets of champagne were to be given to his brother masons. At his death he was described in one account as “intelligent and assiduous at his business,” in another as “much esteemed and respected for his charitable nature and many other good qualities.”
British Columbia Law Courts (Victoria), will of Sosthenes Driard (no.1804). PABC, letter of S. Driard to the governor, 27 Oct. . Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle, 10 Aug. 1870; 4 May 1872; 16, 17, 18 Feb. 1873. Victoria Daily Standard, 15, 17, 18 Feb. 1873. Victoria Gazette, 3 Sept. 1858, 29 Oct. 1859. Daniel Lévy, Les Français en Californie (San Francisco, Calif., 1884), 201. A. P. Nasatir, French activities in California, an archival calendar-guide (Stanford, Calif., London, ), 37. W. E. Ireland, “The French in British Columbia,” BCHQ, XIII (1949), 67–89.