He was married and had four children. He was one of the foremost real estate auctioneers in the North-West, being particularly active in Winnipeg during the great real estate boom of 1880-1882. He was also prominently connected with public life as alderman, school trustee, and a director of the Winnipeg General Hospital. For twelve years he was Police Magistrate in Winnipeg.
The following biographical sketch of Wolfe comes from an article by Charles N. Bell in the Manitoba Sun newspaper of 23 April 1887:
Joseph Wolf was born in the town of Great Yarmouth, County of Norfolk, England, in the year 1832; and is a thoroughly self-made man, never having, as we have learned, had the advantage of any lengthened education, as he had to leave school and rustle around for himself after having attained the mature age of eleven years. In the course of his travels he has visited many parts of the world: the Australias (during the gold excitement), New Zealand, South America, Mexico, nearly every portion of the United States; has been a soldier in the American dragoon service; purser in the Australian Clipper Black Ball Line service; has rounded Cape Horn four times; was one of the active land boom auctioneers in Melbourne in 1862; was a mail driver between San Antonio, Texas, and Santa Fe, in New Mexico, and at last found himself, after much wandering, in the Bull’s Eye of the Dominion. This gentleman’s personal appearance is too well-known to our citizens to need any description, and Grip in the lamented Boom Days, made it familiar under the sobriquet of “The Golden Joseph.” Shortly after his arrival here, his push and talents rapidly brought him to the front in his profession, and to secure the services of Joe Wolf (as he was generally called) to conduct a sale of real estate was next thing to ensuring its success. He was known as the Father of Brandon, having been selected by the Canadian Pacific Railway to sell that town site when the“City of Brandon”was first put upon the market. Many of our citizens will remember the excitement occasioned by this first sale of C.P.R. town site lots. It was held in the building on old Post Office Street, known then as “The Pavilion.” Prices ruling at that sale were thought at the time to be phenomenally high, but for many a day thereafter buyers made large profits upon their investments. It would occupy too much space to detail the many large transactions in which the subject of our sketch was engaged, but we have it from undoubted authority that in commissions and deals during the principal four months of the boom he cleared $200,000. I have heard Mr. Wolf say that the largest auction commission he ever received for one evening’s selling, which occupied him for about two hours, was $2,763. This was the sale of Hudson’s Bay Company lots and other city property, made by the Scottish & Canadian Loan Company. In the rush of the boom days it was necessary, if any vendor wanted to secure the services of our friend Joe for any considerable sale, to go early, as it not unfrequently happened, so numerous were his engagements, that one had to wait a whole mouth before a date could be secured. We remember a three nights’ sale which he held in the old city hall for the C.P.R. company, where buyers had actually to fight their way through the crowd to get to the table at which the auctioneer’s clerks sat to receive the money due on sales, and at which hundreds were turned away, being unable to gain admission. But, like many others who rose to eminence and wealth in these stormy days, his faith was stronger than his works, for he pinned his faith to the real estatevalues in the city and country of his adoption, investing all that he had made in Winnipeg and Manitoba. The load was too heavy, and it swamped him. Yet, in spite of all this, he came up damaged but smiling, and is today as jolly and good-natured as ever, showing, so far as can outwardly be seen, no traces of the severe struggle he has passed through, while he is as ready and willing as ever to extend a helping hand to those who require assistance of any kind within his power to grant. Mr. Wolf, unlike the other auctioneers prominent at the time of the boom, has remained with us and stuck to his business, securing the esteem of his fellow townsmen.
Wolfe died at Victoria, British Columbia on 2 July 1900.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 November 2011