British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Apr 30, 1948

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APRIL,  1948 We
Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in cooperation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
Whxard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives, Victoria, B.C.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications should be addressed to the Editor.
Subscriptions should be sent to the Provincial Archives, Parliament
Buildings, Victoria, B.C. Price, 50c. the copy, or $2 the year. Members
of the British Columbia Historical Association in good standing receive the
Quarterly without further charge.
Neither the Provincial Archives nor the British Columbia Historical
Association assumes any responsibility for statements made by contributors
to the magazine.
The Quarterly is indexed in Faxon's Annual Magazine Subject-Index
and the Canadian Index. BRITISH COLUMBIA
" Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. XII Victoria, B.C., April, 1948. No. 2
The Early History of Hedley Camp.
By Harry D. Barnes  103
McCreight and the Law.
By Patricia M. Johnson  127
Federal Parties and Provincial Groups in British Columbia,
By Walter N. Sage  151
Notes and Comments:
British Columbia Historical Association  171
Kamloops Museum Association  174
Okanagan Historical Society  174
Sesquicentennial of the Death of Captain George Vancouver  175
Contributors to this Issue  175
The Northwest Bookshelf :
Robinson: Esquimalt—" Place of Shoaling Waters."
By W. Kaye Lamb  177
Abraham:   Romantic Vancouver Island;   Victoria, Yesterday and
By Madge Wolfenden '  178
McKelvie:  Fort Langley:  Outpost of Empire.
By Willard E. Ireland  178
The Letters of Letitia Hargrave.
By Walter N. Sage    180
Ballads of B.C.
By Dorothy Crighton  182
Prize Winning Essays.   Armitage Competition in Oregon Pioneer
History.    Reed College.
By Willard E. Ireland   183 EARLY HISTORY OF HEDLEY GAMP.
The little gold-mining town of Hedley, in the Similkameen
Valley of British Columbia, lies at an elevation of about 1,700
feet above sea-level and is situated at a point where Twenty Mile
Creek, after swinging around the western base of Nickel Plate
Mountain, emerges from its canyon and has cut a boulder-strewn
channel through the river-benches to flow into the Similkameen
River a short distance below the town. Nickel Plate Mountain
rises out of the Twenty Mile Creek in a series of bluffs with
nearly vertical faces, but its southern slope is less rugged and
is covered more or less with a scattered growth of Douglas fir.
Prospectors and others travelling over the Dewdney Trail would
notice the beds of limestone, quartzite, and other rocks outcropping on the slope above the river-valley. Looking up the Twenty
Mile Creek the iron-stained rocks of Red Mountain would attract
attention, as would also the folding of the stratified rock of
Stemwinder Mountain on the west side of the creek. All of these
together would indicate an area where conditions might be
favourable for ore deposition and would, at least, warrant
careful prospecting.
The first record of mineral claims having been staked on
what is now known as Nickel Plate Mountain was in 1894, when
James Riordan and C. Allison located three claims for the Hon.
Edgar Dewdney, and J. O. Coulthard, of Keremeos, had a claim
on what is now the Kingston Mineral Claim. These four claims
were recorded at Granite Creek, but were not considered worth
doing the annual assessment-work and were allowed to lapse.
In 1897 Peter Scott located the Rollo and about the same time
C. Johnson and Albert Jacobson, grub-staked by W. Y. Williams,
then manager of the Granby mines at Phoenix, staked the Mound
and Copper Cleft claims. In 1898 Peter Scott returned to do the
assessment-work on the Rollo and afterwards staked the Princeton, Warhorse, Kingston, and other claims. In August of that
year C. H. Arundel and F. Wollaston staked the Horsefly, Sunny-
side, Nickel Plate, Bulldog, and Copperfield, and still later
located other claims on the mountain.    It was the Nickel Plate
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 2.
103 104 Harry D. Barnes. April
which was to prove the bonanza claim and to become the first
producing lode mine of the Similkameen, as well as one of the
major gold mines of British Columbia.
It was about this time that Peter Scott and others agreed on
" Camp Hedley " as a fitting name for the new camp, in honour
of Robert R. Hedley, then manager of the Hall mines smelter at
Nelson, B.C., who, it was understood, had grub-staked Peter
Scott the summer before when the Rollo had been staked.1 The
prospectors of the new camp had to travel to Fairview to record
their claims and assessment-work, where C. A. R. Lamby was
the Mining Recorder and Gold Commissioner for the Osoyoos
Mining Division. As news of the then recent strikes began to
circulate around the Fairview camp, quite a number of the
prospectors came over to the new camp in the early fall of 1898.
Amongst the new arrivals to Camp Hedley were Harry Yates,
Fraser Campbell, and George Cahill. Duncan Woods, for whom
George Cahill staked the Mascot Fraction, did not come in until
the spring of 1899. Later in the camp's history it was the
Mascot Fraction which was to become famous, for although it
contains only 8 or 9 acres at depth it was to prove one of the
.camp's richest spots. Seldom in the history of lode mining in
British Columbia has so small an area produced so much wealth
in gold. During the spring of 1899 many more prospectors came
into Camp Hedley, and by the end of the year the surface of
Nickel Plate Mountain was almost entirely covered with mineral
Now to go back to the Nickel Plate and a brief description
of the discovery showing as it was when found by Wollaston and
Arundel. The red, rusty ore outcrop occupied a small clearing
on a fairly steep hillside, and in all probability the ore outcrop
exposed to sight was about 15 feet in width by 20 feet in length.
The ground both to the right and left, as well as below, the outcrop was covered by an overburden and thickly strewn with
jack-pine windfalls, amongst which a second growth of young
pines had already made a good start.    On the upper side of the
(1) An excellent resume of the discovery and early history of Hedley
Camp appeared in the first issue of the Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905.
Peter Scott is referred to as " the father of Camp Hedley " in the Princeton
Similkameen Star, April 14, 1900. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 105
ore outcrop a light-coloured hard igneous rock stood out boldly
several feet higher than the ore, with the contact between the
ore and igneous rock being sharply defined. As the development
proceeded, the igneous rock was found to be a sill which formed
the hanging wall of the ore-body. The igneous rock was later
classified by Dr. Charles Camsell as gabbro. The red dirt from
the outcrop panned gold very freely, and a gold-pan of the
material would often give twenty to thirty coarse colours about
the size of a pin-head and also a long thick stream of fine gold.
The results of their first panning must have given a thrill of
excitement to the two lucky prospectors who had made the find,
for few indeed are the prospectors of British Columbia who
have been fortunate enough to find a prospect of equal size and
so rich in gold from the grass-roots down, as was the discovery
showing of the Nickel Plate.
In the fall of 1898 Wollaston and Arundel took out some
samples of the surface ore of the Nickel Plate to the New Westminster Fair and exhibited them there. M. K. Rodgers, who
was more directly connected with the early history and development of the camp than any other person, first saw the ore there.
At that time he was travelling through the country in the
interests of Marcus Daly, of Butte, Montana, and he was so
impressed by the appearance of the ore samples that he immediately started on a trip to the Nickel Plate to make a close examination and obtain samples. The examination proved so satisfactory that in November Rodgers took a bond on the Nickel
Plate, Bulldog, Sunnyside, and Copperfield Mineral Claims, all
of which were owned by Wollaston and Arundel.
The construction of a camp and the packing-in of supplies
was at once commenced. The first supplies for the new camp at
Nickel Plate were obtained from Fairview. In November, 1898,
a pack-train of thirty-five horses laden with supplies left Fair-
view in the charge of George Cahill. Later, as things became
better organized, supplies were shipped from the Coast cities to
Penticton, then hauled by wagon to Keremeos, and from thence
packed by horses to the Nickel Plate by the Camp Rest Trail.2
(2) Even as late as March, 1900, the shortest route was reported by way
of Keremeos " thence by saddle horse over a first class trail, which will
shortly be converted into a wagon road.    ..."   Ibid., March 31, 1900. 106 Harry D. Barnes. April
Permanent work on the claim was commenced on January 12,
1899, and within a year the bond was taken up. The consideration paid to Wollaston and Arundel was reported to have been
$60,000,3 and a few years later the two partners sold other
claims to Rodgers, and it was said to have been for a similar
In the early years of the Nickel Plate mine M. K. Rodgers
obtained a British Columbia charter for the Yale Mining Company, and business was done through this company. Later on,
when it was decided to build a mill, it was found that the original
company's charter was not sufficiently broad to provide for the
building of tramways, power flumes, and the like, or for the
expropriation of land for rights-of-way. Consequently, a second
company, the Daly Reduction Company, Ltd., was formed, and a
charter obtained for it early in 1903, and from then on it became
the operating company for both the mine and the mill.
Gomer P. Jones, who was to be connected with the Nickel
Plate for so many years, was engaged by Rodgers as mine superintendent, and he arrived at the camp in August, 1900. Mrs.
Jones and their daughter Avonia came in a month or so later
and took up residence at the Nickel Plate. In the summer and
early fall of 1900 a road about 15 miles in length was built over
the mountains to the east of the mine to connect up with the
Penticton-Keremeos Road,4 and from then on supplies were
hauled direct from Penticton to the Nickel Plate.6 In the fall
of 1900 work was also commenced on the building of a road
between Keremeos and Princeton,6 and it was completed by midsummer of 1901.7 Before the building of this road only the old
Dewdney Trail had connected these two points.8
The following month J. P. McMahon took a four-horse team and a heavy
freight-wagon over this trail.   Ibid., April 7, 1900.
(3) Ibid., November 24, 1900, see also Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905.
(4) Plans for this road were announced in the Princeton Similkameen
Star, August 11, 1900, and the survey was completed several months later.
Ibid., October 6, 1900.
(5) Ibid., December 8, 1900.
(6) Ibid., October 27 and November 3, 1900.
(7) Ibid., June 15, 1901.
(8) For an account of the construction of this trail, see Harold Nation,
" The Dewdney Trail," Fourth Report and Proceedings of the British Columbia Historical Association, 1929, pp. 30—33. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 107
In the fall of 1899 Thomas Bradshaw came over from Greenwood and bought the newly built log hotel located near the mouth
of Fifteen Mile Creek from a man by the name of Johnson.
Shortly afterwards Mrs. Bradshaw and family came over to
make their home on Fifteen Mile Creek. Bradshaw's stopping-
place soon became well known to prospectors and others of Camp
Hedley as a place where they could always be assured of a warm
welcome, a good meal, and a comfortable bed. In course of time
the establishment was expanded9 and, in addition, the Brad-
shaws had a thriving young orchard and alfalfa growing on
' their place and had also acquired a small herd of dairy and range
cattle. All of the family has since passed on, with the exception
of their only daughter, Edith, and the old log hotel, so long a
landmark on the Keremeos-Hedley Road, has been torn down.
The land where the town of Hedley now stands was acquired
by the Hedley City Townsite Company, and in the summer and
fall of 1900 R. H. Parkinson, P.L.S., surveyed the townsite, and
almost immediately building was commenced, judging by the
Similkameen Star, which reported:—
This important townsite is situated half way between Princeton and
Keremeos on the banks of the now famous Twenty-mile creek. The new
wagon road to be built this fall runs through the centre of the town.
Hedley City will be the supply point for the rich district which surrounds
20 Mile creek and the Nickel Plate mine. The company owning the townsite
is composed of well-known mining men who are fully alive to the importance
of the mining district they will cater to and will loose [sic] no opportunity
of pushing the place ahead.
Dave Hackney has a force of men busy constructing a large hotel.
An assay office is also being built and will be occupied when completed by
Messrs. Oliver and Fetherstonhaugh. Several other buildings will be started
in the course of a few days, and as soon as the work on the road begins,
application will be made for a post office and mail service. Mr. R. H. Parkinson, P.L.S., will be manager for the townsite company and will be glad to
furnish information regarding prices of lots, etc.1'
That winter D. G. Hackney built the Hedley Hotel on Haynes
Street, a neat two-story hewed-log building which was opened
(9) " Lumber is arriving for Bradshaw's hotel, which is being remodelled and several bed-rooms added. A veranda is to be erected and the roof
reshingled. New outbuildings and stables are also being built, so that by
the time the ' boom ' strikes the Similkameen Mr. Bradshaw will be prepared
to accommodate all comers."    Princeton Similkameen Star, June 22, 1901.
(10) Ibid., October 6, 1900. 108 Harry D. Barnes. April
early in March, 1901.11 Messrs. Kirby and Hine also erected a
two-story log store building near the spot where later the Daly
Reduction Company's office building was erected, and opened
for business early the following spring under the management
of F. M. Gillespie.12 Two small log cabins were also built on the
townsite that same winter.13 During the summer of 1901 I. A.
Deardorf, of Fairview, built a livery-barn14 on the site now
occupied by the Hedley Garage, and C. E. Oliver put up a two-
story frame building for an assay office and residence.15 The
lumber for both of these buildings was hauled in from Penticton,
but later that summer Messrs. Tillman, McDonald, and McRae
hauled over their sawmill and planer from Phoenix and set it up
on the river-bank across from the mouth of Sterling Creek and
commenced cutting lumber.16 This mill was later to cut all the
lumber required in the construction of the Daly Reduction Company's mill, the Twenty Mile flume, and other buildings, as well
as the lumber needed in the town.
In 1901 F. M. Wells took a bond on the Kingston and Warhorse
claims owned by Peter Scott,17 and development of the Kingston
was commenced in the fall of the year. Later the Metropolitan
claim was also acquired by Wells. Development-work on the
group continued more or less intermittently for a number of
years until about 1936, when the Kelowna Exploration Company
acquired the Kingston group.
The winter of 1901-1902 was a very quiet one for the new
town, but in the summer of 1902 it was decided to build a mill
for the Nickel Plate, and Hedley was selected as its site.18    Pre-
(11) Ibid., March 2, 1901.
(12) Ibid.
(13) The first issue of the Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905, stated that
Hackney's hotel, the first in the town, was licensed as of January 1, 1901,
and that together with W. B. Hine's store, the first in the town, "with
Sproule's blacksmith shop and a few prospectors cabins, made the nucleus
of the town."
(14) Princeton Similkameen Star, June 15, 1901.
(15) Ibid., August 3, 1901.
(16) For a good account of this mill, see Hedley Gazette, October 26,
1905, and February 22, 1906.
(17) Princeton Similkameen Star, February 23, 1901.
(18) Ibid., July 19, 1902. " When installed this will be the first stamp
mill erected in the Similkameen district, the others nearest being at Camp 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 109
liminary surveys were then made for the tramways, the power
flume up Twenty .Mile Creek, and for the mill-site by Wesley
Rodgers, brother of M. K. Rodgers, and construction started that
fall.19 Surveys were also sufficiently advanced so that contracts
were let for the grading of the mill-site and for the building of
the stone walls for the foundations of the mill,20 and this work
was about completed by the spring of 1903.
In the late summer and fall of 1902 Messrs. McDermott and
Marks built the Grand Union Hotel, but sold it a few months
later to Robert Herron and Anton Winkler.21 A few years later
Herron sold out his interest to his partner, and under the management of Anton Winkler it was in continuous operation until it
was destroyed by fire on December 31, 1918. C. E. Oliver and
his associates in the fall of 1902 built the Commercial Hotel,22
and it was opened up in the late spring of the following year
under the management of Neil Huston and W. A. McLean.23
Within a few months McLean became the sole proprietor,24 and
the Commercial Hotel still stands.25 In August, 1902, James A.
Schubert, well known in the Okanagan, bought out the Kirby and
Hine store26 and moved it down into the town near the bridge,
and the log building thus vacated was later used by the Daly
Reduction Company for temporary offices in the early construction days at the mill. Later that year Charles Richter, of Keremeos, built a two-story building as a butcher's shop and residence,27 and he supplied the town with its meat until he sold out
McKinney and at the Stemwinder mine in Camp Fairview."   Ibid., October
25, 1902.
(19) The contract for building the dam on Twenty Mile Creek and the
flume from the dam to the mill-site was let to a Mr. Munson, of Grand
Forks.   Ibid., November 1, 1902.
(20) Ibid., January 24, 1903. At that time it was announced: "Electric
power will be used in operating the stamp mill, and the tram will be partly
run by electricity and partly by gravity."
(21) Ibid., April 25 and August 29, 1903.
(22) Ibid., April 25, 1903. The newspaper announced that Neil Huston
was then changing his block into the hotel.
(23) Ibid., June 6, 1903.
(24) Ibid., August 15, 1903.
(25) It was closed down for a number of years, but was reopened about
(26) Ibid., August 2, 1902.
(27) Ibid., November 22, 1902. 110 Harry D. Barnes. April
the business to Cawston and Edmond.28 Shortly after this, John
Mairhofer became associated with the business, first as store
manager and later as owner. His connection with the business
continued until 1931, when he sold out to Eugene Quaedvlieg.
In the fall of 1902 W. E. Welby commenced running a stage
line between Penticton and Hedley, and at first the stage left
and arrived on alternate days, but the following year a daily
service each way Went into effect, Sunday excepted. The trip
usually took about twelve hours, which included a stop at the old
town of Keremeos for dinner and a change of horses. Open
stages were used, which carried six to eight passengers, and the
mail and travellers had to take the weather as it came, be it sunshine, rain, or snow. Later Welby acquired a Concord covered-in
stage-coach, but this was reserved for special trips and occasions. Fred Revely, who had bought out Deardorf's livery-barn,
ran a daily stage to Princeton in conjunction with the Welby
stages, but travellers from or to upper valley points had to stop
over the night in Hedley.
Up to this time one of the principal complaints of the residents was the absence of mail service.29 However, in June, 1903,
this was remedied when F. M. Gillespie was appointed the town's
first postmaster. He combined these duties with those of manager of Schubert's general store, and at first the post-office was
in that store.30 A little later an annex was built on the east side
of the store building for the exclusive use of the post-office business, and boxes were installed for rental to the public. This
continued to be the town's post-office until 1908, when Gillespie
bought out Love's drug-store, and there it remained for the next
twenty-seven years. In the early part of 1903 L. W. Shatford
put up a one-story building on Scott Avenue and opened a general store with F. H. French as manager.31 Two or three years
later the store building was greatly enlarged and the firm's name
changed to Shatfords Limited. The old building still stands, and
is now occupied by Collen's Department Store. In 1903 Dr. F.
Rolls opened a drug-store and office.32
(28) Ibid., August 8, 1903.
(29) Ibid., February 14, 1903.
(30) Ibid., June 6, 1903.
(31) Ibid., February 14, 1903.
(32) Ibid., February 14 and 28, 1903. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. Ill
In the early spring of 1903 work was commenced simultaneously on the construction of the mill and the grading and building of the flume which was to furnish the power for the mill,33
and as soon as the snow had gone from the hills, the work of
clearing the right-of-way and grading for the tramways was
started. Four-horse freight teams loaded with machinery, steel
rails, and general supplies of all kinds now became a familiar
sight on the roads. About this time S. L. Smith resigned as
agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway at Penticton and accepted
the position of accountant for the Daly Reduction Company, a
position he held with this and the two succeeding companies until
about 1937. Hedley became his home for forty-one years. In
August, 1903, Dr. H. A. Whillans accepted the position of company doctor,34 and he and his family moved down from Princeton
to take up residence in Hedley. Later that year A. H. Brown,
of London, Ontario, was engaged as mill superintendent, and
shortly afterwards took charge of the mill. Mr. Brown was well
liked by the men serving under him and also was held in high
regard by the people of the town.
In September, 1903, Hedley held its first Labour Day celebration, which was rather a modest affair even although " some two
or three coach loads of merrymakers came from Loomis, Wash.,
to join in the festivities and fraternize with the good people of
Hedley."36 The main event was a baseball game between the
Hedley team and one from Nighthawk and, although the visiting
team was the better, due mainly to Wesley Rodger's pitching
Hedley won the game, on which a good deal of money had been
bet by the backers of the respective teams. In addition, there
was two days of horse-racing, and a grand ball marked the climax to the event, with the music furnished by " that famous
knight of the bow " Joseph Brent, of Okanagan Falls. Later
Labour Day celebrations were on a much larger scale. From a
thousand to twelve hundred dollars would be given in prize-
money, and rock-drilling contests, baseball, and horse-racing
were featured.    Rock-drilling teams would quite often come
(33) Ibid., February 28,1903. For a time work at the mine was stopped
in order to permit the men to concentrate on building the mill. Ibid., March
7, 1903.
(34) Ibid., August 29, 1903.
(35) Ibid., September 12, 1903. 112 Harry D. Barnes. April
from places as far away as Rossland to compete in these contests.
Many visitors would come to the celebrations from both upper
and lower valley points. The visitors would begin to arrive on
Sunday evening, and by Monday morning the town would be full
—and travel in those days was by democrat, buggy, or horseback. The big Labour Day dance was the outstanding social
event of the year for Hedley, and the best orchestra available
was secured for the occasion. Sports would be resumed on the
following Tuesday, but by early evening the visitors would have
all departed to their various homes, and by nightfall the town
had a tired, deserted look about it, with scarcely a soul to be seen
on the streets as Hedley retired early to bed.
By the late fall of 1903 the mill building was about completed,
and a good start had been made on the installation of the machinery.36 The tramways were all graded and most of the track laid,
and also good progress had been made in the building of the
Twenty Mile flume.37 It might be interesting to note that the
ore-crushers and stamp-batteries were made in Eastern Canada,
as was also the large air-compressor for the new power-house.
But the ore-conveyers, Frue vanners, water-wheels, pumps for
the cyanide plant, electric locomotives for the tramway, and
most of the electrical equipment came from the United States, as
did also the twenty large tanks for the cyanide plant. Twelve of
these tanks were 34 feet in diameter by 6 feet in depth, and the
remaining eight were 30 feet in diameter by 10 feet in depth.
All were made from California redwood, knocked down and
shipped from San Francisco by boat to Vancouver, thence by
Canadian Pacific Railway to Okanagan Landing. From there
they were transferred to the lake steamer and delivered at Penticton and hauled by freight teams the 50 miles to Hedley.
The first stamps of the new mill were dropped on May 4,
1904,38 and after a short period for making necessary adjust-
(36) For a good general description of the building of the mill, see
Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905.
(37) Princeton Similkameen Star, October 24, 1903. The flume, 2 miles
in length, was " by far the largest work of the kind in the Similkameen."
(38) "The stamp mill made a trial run last week—a battery of ten
stamps working nearly an hour. Some of the shoes came off and a stop
was necessary. The fully forty stamps will soon be dropping continuously
and then the gold bricks will be rolling out."   Ibid., May 14, 1904. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 113
ments all forty stamps commenced to drop,89 and the muffled roar
of the stamps became a familiar sound in the town. For the first
few years of the mill's operation a considerable proportion of the
values recovered was in the form of free gold caught on the
plates. Each month two gold bricks, one from the free gold off
the plates and the other from the gold recovered in the cyanide
plant, were taken out under special escort to Penticton, and from
there shipped by Dominion Express to the United States assay
office in Seattle. The concentrates from the twenty-four Frue
vanners, rich in gold, were pulled daily and dumped into the bin
below, and after a period allowed for drying, the concentrates
were then put into double sacks—a heavy cotton sack on the inside and a strong jute one on the outside—and the sacks well
sewn. The sacked concentrates, weighing around a hundred
pounds or better a sack, were hauled to Penticton, and from
there were shipped to the Tacoma smelter. The four-horse
teams which hauled in supplies also hauled out the sacked concentrates on their return trip to Penticton. Dougal Gillespie, of
Okanagan Falls, who then held the contract for hauling the company's freight, was paid $20 per ton on incoming freight and $9
per ton for the back-haul of concentrates. The round trip usually took about a week to complete.
During the years 1903-1905 the town grew rapidly and many
new buildings were erected.
Hedley City is the liveliest town of its size in the interior. Its hotels are
always full, and, as in the case of the Commercial, an annex has been found
hardly adequate for the demands upon this popular hostelry. There are two
excellent general stores, in one of which, Mr. Schubert's, is the post office.
There is a first class butcher shop conducted by Messrs. Edmonds & Cawston,
and a livery and feed stable run by Fred Revely; a drug store and all the
other businesses usually found in a bustling mining camp.
Good sidewalks have been laid and a lot of street improvements made by
the townsite company of which C Oliver is the energetic resident manager.
A fine hotel is now under construction at a cost of $15,000 and a large
residence for M. K. Rodgers has been completed.40
(39) "The full complement of 40 stamps are now in use." Ibid., July 9,
1904. Another trial run had been made in June, and it was reported that
M. K. Rodgers was encountering a number of obstacles. Ibid., June 11,
(40) Ibid., October 24, 1903. 114 Harry D. Barnes. April
In the summer of 1903 Grace Methodist Church was built.
This was the first, and for many years the only, permanent
church building in the town. It was built mostly by volunteer
labour under the enthusiastic direction of Rev. J. W. Hedley.41
For many years it played a prominent role in the life of the
community, serving as headquarters for the school, the Twentieth Century Club, and the library. Other early ministers were
the Revs. J. E. Fleming,42 C. E. Docksteader,43 L. Thomas,44
R. W. Hibbert,46 J. J. Jones,46 and George Kinney.47 As was to
be expected, Hedley was but one of the many churches served by
these ministers in connection with their work elsewhere in the
district. The Presbyterian church soon began to conduct services, at first with Rev. G. L. Mason48 in charge and later under
Revs. J. C. Stewart,49 A. J. Fowlie,60 E. Hardwick,61 D. F.
Smith,52 J. T. Conn,63 and A. H. Cameron.64 The latter, a pioneer of Western Canada at the time of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was probably one of the best remembered
of the early ministers. Presbyterian services were usually held
in Fraser's Hall (or Fraternity Hall, as it came to be called),
which after 1905 was shared on alternate Sundays with the
Anglican church.66 In May, 1905, the Archdeacon of Columbia,
Ven. Edwyn S. W. Pentreath, visited Hedley, and as a result the
congregation of St. Mary's was organized, complete with Ladies'
Guild.66 Rev. E. P. Flewelling became the first resident Anglican clergyman,67 and the following year he was succeeded by Rev.
(41) Ibid., July 18, 1903.
(42) Ibid., October 31, 1903.
(43) Hedley Gazette, February 23 and June 1, 1905.
(44) Ibid., May 18, 1905.
(45) Ibid., June 14, 1906, and June 6, 1907.
(46) Ibid., July 18, 1907.
(47) Ibid., September 23, 1909.
(48) Princeton Similkameen Star, May 30, 1903.
(49) Ibid., October 3, 1903.
(50) Hedley Gazette, February 11 and August 3, 1905.
(51) Ibid., January 19, 1905.
(52) Ibid., May 17 and September 20, 1906.
(53) Ibid., October 10, 1907.
(54) Ibid., September 23, 1909.
(55) Ibid., September 21, 1905.
(56) Ibid., May 11, 1905.
(57) Ibid., September 21, 1905. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 115
E. R. Bartlett.58 Rev. Henry Irwin—Father Pat—so well known
in Rossland in the early days of the camp and remembered for
his many kindly acts, was an occasional visitor to Hedley in the
early days of the town, and when here would conduct services in
one or other of the hotels' dining-rooms. An Anglican church,
however, was not built until the early years of World War I, and
to C. P. Dalton, then manager of the Bank of British North
America in Hedley, must go the greater amount of the credit for
the building of the church, although he was loyally assisted by
Arthur Clare and other members of the church. From the early
days of Hedley, Roman Catholic services had been conducted at
frequent intervals by visiting priests.
The first school for the children of the town was opened in
September, 1903, in a room at the rear of the Methodist church.59
Miss M. L. Whillans, a sister of Dr. H. A. Whillans, was Hedley's
first school-teacher.60 Under the terms -of the " Public Schools
Act " this was known as an " assisted school," and it was administered by a board consisting of S. L. Smith (secretary), W. A.
McLean, and J. Brass.61 When inspected on May 5, 1904, it was
reported that nineteen pupils had attended irregularly throughout the year but that good work had been done. Miss Whillans
resigned in June, 1904,62 and was replaced by Mrs. A. J. Colbeck,63 and in September of that year the Hedley School District
was created.64
(58) Ibid., May 3, 1906, and February 7, 1907.
(59) " It is expected the public school will begin about the 1st of September. The church building is kindly loaned for school purposes by M. K.
Rodgers until a building is erected." Princeton Similkameen Star, August
22, 1903.
(60) Miss Whillans had been the teacher at Princeton. " The resignation
of Miss Whillans, teacher, was also accepted and regret expressed at the
loss of one whose relations with the board were most cordial and whose
services are very satisfactory to all concerned. Miss Whillans has accepted
a similar position at Hedley.   ..."   Ibid., September 5, 1903.
(61) Thirty-third Annual Report of the Public Schools of the Province
of British Columbia, 1908-OU, Victoria, 1904, pp. 17 and li.
(62) Princeton Similkameen Star, June 11, 1904.
(63) Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Public Schools . . . 190U-05,
Victoria, 1905, p. liii. J. A. Schubert had by this time replaced J. Brass on
the Board.
(64) Princeton Similkameen Star, October 1, 1904. 116 Harry D. Barnes. April
From the outset the major problem facing the Board was that
of finding suitable accommodation for its school. For a time a
site on Ellis Street was occupied, then the Gazette Hall was used
for a few months in 1905, after which the Ellis Street property
again came into use.65 It is not to be wondered that the Inspector's report contained this comment: " The teacher is working
under difficulties — room too small and poorly equipped."66
When school reopened on August 21, 1905, Mrs. Colbeck had
been replaced by her daughter, Alice, and the house of W. A.
McLean had been leased as a school.67 Plans had, however, been
drawn for a new school-house, but the tenders received were too
high.68 The School Board, having secured a promise that the
Provincial Government would pay the rent until a proper building was built, soon embarked on a novel plan. Several businessmen in the town, S. L. Smith and G. B. Lyon amongst others,
were consulted and they " secured a lot, built a house on it and
moved the school into it before the last day of January, 1906,"
at a cost of $756.38.69 In the meantime Miss Marion D. Lamont
had become the teacher.70 In February, 1906, the plan to build
a two-room school was announced, but further delays ensued and
the school was not completed until July, 1907.71 Miss H. J.
Blake was the first teacher in this new school.72
In passing, it should also be noted that a school was started
at the Nickel Plate mine early in 1905 under Miss K. Johnson.73
Elected to the provisional School Board were G. P. Jones, Charles
Joyner, and E. Mills.74    Miss M. R. Ford taught at this school
(65) Hedley Gazette, April 27, 1905.
(66) Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Public Schools   .   .   .  1904-05,
Victoria, 1905, p. 47.
(67) Hedley Gazette, August 24, 1905.
(68) Ibid., August 31, 1905.
(69) Ibid., July 19, 1906.
(70) Ibid., December 28, 1905.
(71) Ibid., February 22 and September 13, 1906.
(72) Ibid., July 18, 1907.    It was located at the foot of the mountain in
the north-west corner of the townsite.
(73) Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Public Schools   .   .   .  1904-05,
Victoria, 1905, pp. 48 and lvi.
(74) Hedley Gazette, January 28, 1905. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 117
during the 1905-06 term, and thereafter the school was discontinued.75
In the summer of 1904 C. A. R. Lamby, Government Agent
at Fairview, held an auction sale of the lots held at Hedley by
the Government, and many of the lots were sold at good prices.76
About that time, too, M. K. Rodgers was successful in his negotiations with the Department of Indian Affairs at Ottawa for
the purchase of the flat on Indian Reserve No. 2, which adjoined
the company's mill-site. With the acquisition of this land the
company had ample room for buildings for its staff, and also for
sites for tailings-dam, lime-kiln, and lumber and wood yards.77
In the spring of 1904 the company announced its intention of
laying pipe-lines to supply water from their Twenty Mile flume
to the houses in the town,78 but evidently difficulties were
encountered, for in August it was announced:—
. . . the town now depends almost entirely upon two wells and a water
wagon for its supply of water. All the water in the creek is now diverted
for mill purposes. In the meantime until a permanent system is completed,
preparations are being made to give a temporary service through pipes laid
on the surface of the ground.79
This system was none too satisfactory and gave rise to the
peculiar statement in the Princeton paper: " Hedley can boast
of having the most unique water supply in B.C. It furnishes
warm water during the day and cold at night."80 In due
course pipes were laid underground and a normal service was
During this year, too, electric power became available. As
early as December, 1903, it was reported that " Electric light
was used at Hedley on Saturday night [December 5] last, the
dynamo being driven by steam power."82   Its use became more
(75) Ibid., June 23, 1906; Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Public
Schools   .   .   .  1905-06, Victoria, 1906, p. lviii.
(76) Princeton Similkameen Star, July 2, 1904. The sale was held on
June 27; the terms were 20 per cent, cash, balance in thirty days. Ibid.,
June 11, 1904.
(77) This acquisition had been mooted as early as January, 1903. Ibid.,
January 10, 1903.
(78) Ibid., April 9, 1904.
(79) Ibid., August 6, 1904.
(80) Ibid., August 20, 1904.
(81) Ibid., September 3, 1904.
(82) Ibid., December 12, 1903.
z 118 Harry D. Barnes. April
general the following spring, for in April the poles were in place,
ready to receive the wire, and that month electric lights were
used for the first time in the Methodist church.83 By the fall the
houses were being wired for electric light.84
In the summer of 1904 the Similkameen Hotel was built86
and opened for business in the fall. It was a modern, well-built,
and comfortable hotel and soon became a popular stopping-place
for travellers. Unfortunately for the town, it was burned down
in February, 1916. For some time, too, it had been rumoured
that a newspaper was to be published in the town.86 This
became a reality on January 19, 1905, with the appearance of
the first issue of the Hedley Gazette, with Ainsley Megraw,
formerly of the Vernon News and Midway Advance, as editor
and manager.87 The Gazette was, under his management, a
clean, well-printed, weekly paper. This newspaper suspended
publication on August 16, 1917, at which time James W. Grier,
a veteran newspaper-man of the Kootenay and Boundary country,
was owner and editor. Hedley had the distinction of having
the first bank in the Similkameen Valley, and for a short time
the only bank in the valley. On April 20, 1905, the Bank of
British Columbia opened a branch, with G. H. Winters as
manager and L. G. MacHaffie as teller.88 Mr. Winters was
shortly afterwards transferred elsewhere, and L. G. MacHaffie
was promoted to manager and J. J. Irwin became the new teller.89
It was also in the summer of 1905 that John Jackson built
the New Zealand Hotel90 on the site now occupied by the Shell
Oil Company's station, but this hotel was destroyed by fire in the
early morning hours of November 6, 1911. That fall G. H.
Sproule leased a building he owned to John Lind and the Peterson brothers which, when reconstructed by them, was opened in
1906 as the Great Northern Hotel.91   The old building, though
(83) Ibid., April 9 and April 16, 1904.
(84) Ibid., September 3, 1904.
(85) Ibid., July 23, 1904.
(86) Ibid., January 2 and April 2, 1904.
(87) Ibid., January 28, 1905;  Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905.
(88) Ibid., April 20, 1905.
(89) Ibid., June 8, 1905.
(90) Ibid., August 3, 1905.
(91) The first advertisement for this hotel appeared in ibid., April 12,
1906. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 119
with several additions, still stands and has been in continuous
operation. Hedley now had six hotels and for a few years there
was business for them all, and, as was common in mining towns
of the day, the hotel bars were kept open twenty-four hours a
day and seven days a week. In the summer of 1905 Finlay
Fraser built Fraternity Hall,92 thus giving to the town its first
hall for meetings, dances, and other social events. It was also
used as a lodge-room by the Masonic Lodge and other fraternal
organizations. When the hall was under construction, a freak
wind-squall struck with such force that the building was toppled
over and badly wrecked, but fortunately the men at work on it
escaped with only minor injuries. Business houses were also
increasing. John Love was now well established as the town's
druggist, and James Clarke cleaned and repaired the watches
and clocks for the camp. In September, 1905, Campbell and
Shier opened their " gents furnishing and clothing store."93 '
Hedley was very definitely growing up, as is indicated by the
number of community projects and organizations undertaken.
No sketch of the early days of the town would be complete without some mention of the Twentieth Century Club, which had its
birth on New Year's Eve, 1903, at a social evening held in the
Methodist church.94 It had as its aims: " (a) literary and social
improvement, (b) establishment and care of a circulating library
and reading room, (c) securing newspapers, magazines and
writing material for its members."96 During 1904 it held weekly
meetings in the Methodist church and reached a membership of
over 100. Its first officers were: President, J. A. Mclntyre;
vice-president, Mrs. Charles Joyner; secretary, Harvey Tingley;
treasurer, Mrs. James Brass.96 Its career was, unfortunately, a
short one, for it disbanded on September 7, 1906, at which time
the Gazette reported:
The Twentieth Century Club was organized on New Years Day, 1904,
that being the particular species of good resolution which moved the members thereof. Its motto, from Emerson, was " Culture, how indispensable."
Thus all that winter they imbibed culture in allapathic doses, the Fridays
(92) Ibid., July 13, 1905.
(93) Ibid., September 28, 1905.
(94) Princeton Similkameen Star, January 9, 1904.
(95) Hedley Gazette, January 19, 1905.
(96) Ibid. 120 Harry D. Barnes. April
upon which meetings were held being the one bright bonbon meted out to
members and visitors. The town that winter was chock full of talent,
musical and histronic, some really good entertainment being given. The
next summer it began to languish. Whether the lassitude was due to hay
fever or some other kind of sleeping sickness, is not known, but the end
came, and it is now in order to plant daisies.97
The library which the club purchased was " small but showed a
good selection of books," and later arrangements were made to
secure one of the travelling libraries made available by the Provincial Government.98 Even when the club was waning, at least
the reading-room in the rear of the Methodist church was kept
open, largely through the energy of Rev. R. W. Hibbert.99
By 1905, too, the Hedley Athletic Association was flourishing
under the presidency of Dr. H. A. Whillans, and plans were afoot
to establish a gymnasium.100 In August of that year the Hedley
Orchestra came into being, with H. A. Wright as conductor,101
and the following month the first concert was performed for the
public.102 Fraternal organizations were also not neglected.
Early in March, 1905, the first steps were taken towards the
organization of a Masonic Lodge. The moving spirits in this
effort were A. Megraw, Arthur Clare, Finlay Fraser, and A. H.
Brown.103 The probationary stage of the lodge's existence came
to an end in July, 1906, when full standing was granted to Hedley
Lodge, No. 43.104 A few years later an Orange Lodge was also
organized.105 One of the first campaigns undertaken by the
editor of the newly established Gazette was the organization of a
Board of Trade. Early in January, 1905, a preliminary meeting
was held, with A. Megraw as chairman and John Love as secretary,106 and formal organization was soon completed.107   While
(97) Ibid., September 13, 1906.
(98) Ibid., January 19, 1905.
(99) Ibid., August 16, 1906.
(100) Ibid., January 19, 1905.
(101) Ibid., August 17, 1905.
(102) Ibid., September 28, 1905.
(103) Ibid., January 11, 1906.
(104) Ibid., July 26, 1906.
(105) Ibid., December 23, 1909.    Its officers included John Jamieson,
A. J. King, F. Dallemore, and Norman Weir.
(106) Ibid., January 19, 1905.
(107) Ibid., February 2, 1905.    The officers were W. A. McLean, president; J. D. Brass, vice-president;  A. Megraw, secretary. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 121
there was temporarily much enthusiasm, the interest began to
wane, but later, in 1907, the organization was reorganized108 and
continued to function with greater success.
In September, 1905, a change was made in the management
of the Daly Reduction Company. M. K. Rodgers was succeeded
as manager by R. B. Lamb, A. H. Brown was succeeded as mill
superintendent by W. H. Brule, and Arthur Clare ceased to be
mill foreman. However, Gomer P. Jones continued on as mine
superintendent. Employees and residents of the camp alike
were sorry to have to say " good-bye " to Mr. Rodgers and the
members of his staff who were leaving with him. For the year
that R. B. Lamb was manager, the Nickel Plate was a steady
producer, and it might be noted that it was under his management that the present machine and carpentry shops were built
and equipped with all the necessary machines and tools for
making any needed repairs to the plant. In the fall of 1906
R. B. Lamb was replaced by F. A. Ross as manager and E. A.
Holbrook replaced W. H. Brule as mill superintendent, and a few
months later Arthur Clare returned to take up his former
position as mill foreman. During the three years that Mr. Ross
was manager, the mine continued to make steady shipments of
ore to the mill at Hedley, which was also supplemented by ore
from Sunnyside Nos. 2, 3, and 4, where important ore-bodies had
been developed while Rodgers was still manager. During the
early years of the mill's operation many were the visitors who
came from far and near to see the plant and to have explained
to them the various processes used to extract the gold and also,
if possible, to ride up the tramways to the mine. In the spring
of 1907 the Geological Survey of Canada sent in Charles Camsell
to make a survey of Hedley Camp, and the field-work was completed the following summer. Camsell's very comprehensive
report on the geology of the camp was printed by the Department of Mines at Ottawa in 1910.109
These changes in company management naturally affected
the town, which was almost entirely dependent upon the mine
(108) Ibid., June 6, 1907. The new officers were R. G. Shier, president;
John Love, vice-president;  L. G. MacHaffie, secretary.
(109) Charles Camsell, The Geology and Ore Deposits of Hedley Mining
District, British Columbia, Canada, Department of Mines, Geological Survey
Branch, Memoir No. 2, Ottawa, 1910, passim. 122 Harry D. Barnes. April
and the mill. An indication of this dependence is reflected in
the history of the Hedley hospital. In February, 1905, employees
of the Daly Reduction Company discussed the possibility of
establishing a hospital.110 Many meetings were held, and a public subscription raised which, together with a grant of $1,000
from the Provincial Government, assured the funds for the construction of the building. In September the General Hospital
Society was organized, with a provisional board comprising G. P.
Jones and John McKinnon from the mill, and Finlay Fraser,
F. H. French, and L. G. MacHaffie from the town. In addition,
deeds of two town lots were transferred to the society by Messrs.
Hedlund and Thomas.111 The following month a temporary hospital of two beds was opened in the building on Ellis Street
vacated by the school.112 The following year the hospital was
incorporated,118 and in the spring of 1907 the new building was
erected by Messrs. Boeing and Brass.
The building is a three storey structure 24 x 40 feet with a wing 16 x 26.
The lowest floor or basement contains kitchen and laundry and the main
floor, entrance to which from the outside is made from the hillside, comprises
the hallway, one large five-bed ward, two private wards, operating room and
bath-room. The third-storey is yet unfinished but could supply two comfortable bedrooms for nurses.114
However, the hospital was not opened until the early spring of
1910, at which time the Gazette made the following explanation
of the delay.
Although young in years it has experienced the rigors of adversity, and
that at a very early period of its existence, for the scheme was scarcely
launched until a staggering blow was administered to it by accession to
power of unsympathetic management of the leading industry of the place,
and without the active sympathetic interest and co-operation of that industry the institution could not drag out an existence. That blow was administered when Lamb became manager and the weight of it was not lifted
until his successor, F. A. Ross had taken his departure. But it is pleasing
to note that as it was the attitude of indifferent aloofness on the part of the
management of the D. R. Co. which left the institution practically stranded
and unable to open its doors when the building was completed, it was from
the same institution that succor came under the new ownership, for it was
(110) Hedley Gazette, February 23, 1905.
(111) Ibid., September 21, 1905.
(112) Ibid., October 5 and 26, 1905.
(113) Ibid., August 23, 1906.
(114) Ibid., March 17, 1910. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 123
the generous vote of $500.00 by the directors of the present company in
New York which put fresh life in the people here and encouraged others to
help until the $500 has grown to $1300 and a sufficient sum was in hand to
enable the institution to be opened for the reception of patients, while a
contribution of 50 cents per month from each employee is an important lift
for the board in providing funds for running expenses.116
The first operation was performed in the hospital on February
23, 1910.116 Dr. M. D. McEwen was the surgeon-in-chief, and
Miss Bond and Miss Fraser, both of Vancouver, were the first two
nurses. The hospital was closed down in the fall of 1930 and
never reopened, and finally in 1945 the affairs of the society were
wound up and it passed out of existence. During the twenty
years the hospital was in operation, it gave good service to the
community and district, but, like many other small hospitals,
receipts seldom, if ever, kept up with expenses, and at the end
of the year there was usually a deficit which had to be met in
order to keep the hospital in operation.
In the years 1906-08 building operations had slackened off
somewhat, although T. H. Rotheram built and opened his poolroom and store on Scott Avenue in the summer of 1907. Shortly
after his arrival, Rotheram organized a volunteer fire brigade,
which later gave valuable service to the community in fighting
the fires which occurred from time to time. As early as 1903
the possibility of telephone connection with other parts of the
Province had been discussed.117 However, two years were to
pass before the Dominion Government built a line from Kamloops to Penticton by way of Merritt, Princeton, Hedley, and
Keremeos. By February, 1905, the valley had direct wire connection with the outside world, for a telephone had been installed
in John Love's drug-store.118 Later an exchange was installed
at the rear of this store, and Love received the appointment as
agent.119 Originally the wires had been strung on trees, but by
July, 1907, it was announced that they had been put on poles
from Hedley to Vernon.120    Still further evidence of the town's
(115) Ibid.
(116) Ibid., March 3, 1910.
(117) Princeton Similkameen Star, November 21, 1903.
(118) Hedley Gazette, February 2 and 16, 1905.
(119) Ibid., September 7 and October 12, 1905.
(120) Ibid., July 4, 1907. 124 Harry D. Barnes. April
growth was the organization of the Hedley Golf Club in April,
1909, with the links laid out on Pinto Flat.121
The Daly Estate in 1909 gave an option on all its holdings
in the Hedley Camp to a New York syndicate headed by I. L.
Merrill. That spring the syndicate sent in a party of five or six
people to sample and make an examination of the mine. The
examination took a good part of the summer to make, and, when
completed, the decision was reached to take up the option. A new
company, the Hedley Gold Mining Company, Limited, now came
into being and took over the former company.122 In the reorganization which followed, Gomer P. Jones became general superintendent and Roscoe Wheeler, of Oakland, California, was engaged
as mill superintendent. B. W. Knowles, one of the original examining party, became the mine engineer and William Sampson,
who had been a shiftboss, was promoted to mine foreman. F. A.
Ross and E. A. Holbrook, after a residence of three years at
Hedley, left the camp, taking with them the good wishes of
employees and residents of the town.
For years one of the great needs of the valley had been proper
railroad connection with the outside. The agitation for such
a line was prolonged128 and, with the advent of rival proposals,
at times, heated. Principal contenders were the Vancouver,
Victoria and Eastern Railway and the Great Northern Railway.
In 1908 the latter company, having acquired the charter of its
rival, commenced the grading of their line from Keremeos to
Brookmere, and steel was laid during the following summer and
fall. Regular train service was commenced on December 23,
1909, and the first train from Oroville to Princeton arrived at
Hedley Station at 11 a.m.124
The station at Hedley has not yet been built, but a box car has been provided
on a siding with steps leading up to it, a stove placed therein and shelves
around the sides for parcels and luggage.^s
(121) Ibid., April 22, 1909.
(122) Ibid., September 16 and October 14, 1909.
(123) Princeton Similkameen Star, January 10, 1903; February 23 and
30, 1904.
(124) Hedley Gazette, December 23, 1909. Actually the first car to
reach Hedley over the line had come in on September 14 [ibid., September
16, 1909], and the first car to come through direct from Spokane to Hedley
was the superintendent's private car, bringing in I. L. Merrill, the president
of the new mine company.   Ibid., October 14, 1909.
(125) 76m?., December 23, 1909. 1948 The Early History of Hedley Camp. 125
With the coming of the railroad the four-horse freight teams
and stages disappeared from the roads, and a new era was
entered upon. Of all the many prospectors who once had climbed
the steep slopes of Nickel Plate Mountain and of near-by Apex,
Northey, and Riordon Mountains, and had there trenched, dug
open-cuts, sunk shafts, and driven tunnels in their search for
gold, how very few now remain. Some had left early for distant, green fields; others, with more faith, stayed on until no
longer able to do the assessment-work on their claims; many are
now dead. A few attained wealth, others made a smaller stake,
but the majority gained experience only as the recompense for
their labour. With their passing went much of the romance and
glamour of those early days of Camp Hedley, the memories of
which still linger on in the hearts of the few.
Harry D. Barnes.*
Hedley, B.C.
* The author wishes to express his thanks to Rev. John Goodfellow,
Princeton, B.C., for his interest in the writing of the history of Hedley, and
also to Mr. W. E. Ireland, Provincial Librarian and Archivist, for his
assistance in verifying many of the details mentioned in this account and
for numerous suggested additions to the text. McGREIGHT AND THE LAW.*
John Foster McCreight was born in Caledon, County Tyrone,
in Ulster, in 1827 and was baptized in the Caledon church.1 His
father, Rev. James McCreight, was curate of the church from
1825 to 1835, and a monument to him is to be found there. His
mother, Elizabeth Foster, was the daughter of the Rev. William
Foster, at one time Bishop of Clogher. Rev. William Foster's
brother was John Foster, famous as the last Speaker of the
Irish House of Commons.
McCreight's father came from County Armagh and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, receiving his Bachelor of Arts
degree in 1813 and his Master of Arts degree much later, in
1832. He spent most of his short life as a curate, at Seapatrick
in County Down, at Killeavy in County Armagh, and then at
Caledon in County Tyrone, where he passed ten years and was
apparently much loved and respected. In 1835 he became rector
and vicar at Keady, in County Armagh, only to die in the same
year at the age of 43. Of his relatives, little is known, although
Mr. J. D. McCreight, a resident of Metchosin, Vancouver Island,
writing to Dr. R. L. Reid in 1941 explained that his grandfather
was a cousin of John Foster McCreight and that his grandfather
had lived in County Down.2
Elizabeth Foster McCreight was one of a family of seven.
Her grandfather, Anthony Foster, was Lord Chief Baron of the
Exchequer in Ireland from 1766 to 1777 and was a Member of
Parliament for County Louth. Her uncle distinguished himself
in parliament as the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons,
while her father became a prominent churchman. Even here
the parliamentary connection was not broken, as for some time
the Rev. William Foster served as chaplain to the Irish House of
♦The second in a series of four articles dealing with aspects of the
career of John Foster McCreight.
(1) Information on the family and early life of McCreight was obtained
by P. Crossle, Esq., Librarian, Grand Lodge of A.F. and A.M. of Ireland,
Dublin, at the request of the late Dr. Robie L. Reid.
(2) J. D. McCreight to Robie L. Reid, July 5, 1940, and February 8,
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 2.
127 128 Patricia M. Johnson. April
Commons. He was consecrated a bishop in 1789, serving as
Bishop of Cork and Ross for a year, Bishop of Kilmore for six
years, and finally as Bishop of Clogher, in which office he died
in 1797.
Elizabeth Foster's brothers and sisters all seemed to marry
well, and they and their children occupied prominent positions.
Her eldest brother, the Right Hon. John Leslie Foster, carried
on the parliamentary tradition of the family as Member of Parliament for County Louth and Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland.
Her second brother, the Right Rev. William Henry Foster, entered the church and was subsequently consecrated bishop. Her
four sisters, Catherine, Anna, Henrietta, and Letitia, each married; Henrietta became the Countess de Salis and was famous
in court circles in England; Letitia became the wife of John
North, noted as being Member of Parliament for Trinity College,
Dublin. It is important to note that John Foster McCreight had
these connections with the Foster family. They set his background and his tradition. It is also important to find that four
of his cousins emigrated to Australia and achieved most of their
fame there.
John Foster McCreight's own family has been the subject of
some investigation. He was the oldest of the children, born eight
years before his father died. He had a sister, Letitia, who married Edward Jeffreys, and who survived him, as she was a beneficiary to the extent of £50 under his will. There was a younger
brother, William, born in 1832, recorded as having matriculated
in 1851 at the age of 19 in the Trinity College, Dublin, lists. No
previous record mentions another sister whose name appears in
McCreight's will. She was Anna Dorothea McCreight " who at
present [1909] resides at Nice, France," and she, too, was left
£50. In addition to this, probably because she was unmarried,
she was left an annuity of £72 a year. However, she did not
receive these benefits, for she predeceased her brother and her
legacies were removed from his will by a codicil dated May 2,
(3)  Last will and testament of John Foster McCreight, dated August
20, 1909;   probated at Lewes, England, December 5, 1913. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 129
Little is known of McCreight's early years. There is every
possibility that after his father's death his mother would receive
some assistance from her wealthier relations and that they assisted in the education of the children.
There has been some difficulty in discovering where McCreight
got his legal training. It was taken for granted that he was a
graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and had been called to the
Irish Bar. However, Trinity College reported no record of him
as a student and the Honorable Society of King's Inns, Dublin,
had no evidence of his call to the Bar. Here the matter seemed
to end in apparent contradiction, especially as the records of the
Roll of Barristers of the Supreme Court of the Colony of Victoria, Australia, stated: " Date of Call, King's Inns, Dublin,
November 9, 1852."4 Then there was McCreight's own application for admission to the Bar of Vancouver Island, which read:—
I John Foster McCreight do solemnly and sincerely declare that I am a
Barrister at Law duly authorized to practise in the Superior Courts of
Ireland and that I was called to the Bar by the Honorable Society of
Kings Inns in the Michaelmas Term in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and fifty two 1852 and that I am the person named in the
Certificate now produced.5
With this evidence further inquiries were made in Ireland.
The following letter seems to substantiate the original idea regarding his training and legal standing:
The Honorable Society of King's Inns,
Dear Madam,
On receipt this morning of yours of Oct. 10, I have looked up our
minutes, and find that on Nov. 9, 1852, John Foster McCreight was called
to the Irish Bar.
He entered King's Inns as a student in Michaelmas Term, 1848, being
at that time a student of Trinity College, Dublin.
There is no doubt that his claim to be a member of the Irish Bar was
entirely justified.
Yours faithfully,
Theodore C. Tobias    (signed)
(4) P. Mander Jones, Acting Mitchell Librarian, Sydney, Australia, in
a letter to the author, dated September 3, 1946.
(5) Unsigned and undated application, MS., Archives of B.C.
(6) Theodore C. Tobias in a letter to the author, dated October 15,
1946. 130 Patricia M. Johnson. April
There is every reason to believe that McCreight never practised as a barrister in Ireland. After his call to the Bar in
November, 1852, he must have left almost immediately for Australia, as he was admitted to the Bar in Melbourne, Victoria, on
September 29, 1853. His office was located in Temple Court,
It will be noticed that McCreight was 26 years of age when
he completed his training and set out to make a living. His
choice of Australia was almost certainly determined by the fact
that he had relations there connected with legal affairs. Both
John Vesey Fitzgerald Foster and William Stawell, his cousins,
had been in Victoria, Australia, since 18428 and both were becoming influential there. In addition, William John Foster was
engaged in legal work in New South Wales, and yet another
cousin, William Fane de Salis, was a member of the Legislative
Council of the same colony. A theory has been advanced that
some matrimonial entanglement or scandal caused the journey
to Australia, but this is difficult to prove or refute. It seems
quite obvious that McCreight had to make a living as a lawyer,
that good opportunities awaited him in Australia, and that his
relatives would urge him to join them.
In 1853 John Foster McCreight began the second stage of his
life as a barrister in Australia. It seems obvious that he went
there sure of a welcome and sure, too, of finding a place for himself in the legal profession. Very soon after his arrival in Melbourne he was admitted to the Bar of the Colony of Victoria.
He practised as a barrister for six years and at one time served
as Crown Prosecutor in the General Sessions. This is evidence
enough that he was not only an able lawyer, but was among
friends, otherwise no young lawyer, newly arrived in the colony,
would have held so important an official position.
There are few details available of his personal dealings with
his relatives in Australia, but as they obviously influenced his
career, it is important to know something of these men. The
most colourful of the group was John Vesey Fitzgerald Foster,
who arrived in Australia in 1841.    He was the son of Elizabeth
(7) Information supplied by P. Mander Jones.
(8) P. S. Cleary, Australia's Debt to Irish Nation-builders,  Sydney,
Australia, 1933, passim. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 131
Foster McCreight's oldest brother, and he is somewhat difficult
to trace as he later changed his name and became known as
Vesey Fitzgerald in order that he might inherit his mother's
property. He first engaged in farming in the Port Phillip
region, as Melbourne was then known. Victoria became a separate colony in 1851, and two years later he was appointed Colonial
Secretary. He was apparently somewhat arbitrary in his political views and ran counter to the prevailing sentiments of the
colony. In 1854 the famous " Eureka riots " occurred. Large
gold discoveries had been made at Golden Point, near Melbourne,
and miners flocked to the scene. The Governor of the colony,
Sir Charles Hotham, attempted to control the activities by putting in claims for the Government and charging a licence fee.
The miners resented this and made protests, but the Governor
reinforced his demands with troops, and violent outbreaks occurred. In the end, order was restored and the leading rebels
were brought to trial. They were defended so ably by a liberal-
minded lawyer, R. D. Ireland, that they were acquitted, and the
whole episode turned the political field over to the " rebels." In
fact, their leader, Peter Lalor, became the Member of Parliament'
for Ballarat, a position he held for forty years. Foster resigned
from the position of Colonial Secretary, taking the blame for the
affair. He remained in Melbourne for six years, but never again
achieved prominence, and later returned to Ireland.
It was claimed that actually he had become the scapegoat
also for his cousin, William Foster Stawell, the son of Elizabeth
Foster McCreight's sister, Anna. Although called to the Irish
Bar, he did not practise in Ireland. There seems to be a similarity here with McCreight's own career, though this happened
ten years earlier. Stawell arrived in Melbourne in 1842, at the
age of 27, and soon built up a large legal practice, as well as taking up farm land. He acted as Attorney-General for a short
time in the first Victorian ministry, and as such was partly responsible for the " Eureka riots." In this regard Cleary, perhaps unfairly, states:—
. . . [the governor's] . . . chief advisors were two ' ascendancy'
Irishmen, William Stawell and his cousin Vesey Fitzgerald Foster. Foster
took the obloquy which William Stawell earned.9
(9) Ibid., p. 107. 132 Patricia M. Johnson. April
Whatever the truth, Stawell did not suffer from the affair, for
in 1857 he was appointed Chief Justice of Victoria, and as " a
masterful and sound lawyer " he drafted the Victoria Constitution Act and several Judicature Acts.10 Once again there is a
similarity to McCreight and his later work in British Columbia.11
These two men, it may be safely assumed, were the ones with
whom McCreight would be associated in Melbourne. It is easy
to see that their relationship might prove a difficulty as well as
an advantage. Both had the reputation for autocracy in a free,
independent society. Both were regarded as somewhat prone
to use their influential connections to further their own ends.
Stawell especially was anti-Catholic, indeed, it was remarked
that anyone wishing a position in Victoria " while Mr. Stawell
holds office should add Orange theology to the indispensable
Under these circumstances it is quite possible that McCreight
would feel a little uneasy. He was undoubtedly an able lawyer,
but there were many splendid Irish barristers practising in the
colony. He was at a disadvantage while pleading before the
Chief Justice, his own cousin, whether their views coincided or
not. There is a feeling that McCreight would not be entirely in
sympathy with Stawell, although he had a somewhat autocratic
nature himself, but any hint of " family compact" would be
obnoxious to him. There had been enough of that in the Eureka
dealings with Vesey Foster—an incident which McCreight had
witnessed and in which he was almost certainly forced to side
with his cousins, an unpopular position for a young lawyer.
It seems probable that with the slackening of the gold fever
and its subsequent litigation, McCreight felt that a change would
be for the best. Emigrant Irishmen were too plentiful in Victoria, he would go farther afield. His destination was obvious;
many of the people attracted to Australia by the mines were
(10) Ibid., p. 116.
(11) Stawell was knighted in 1858. He served as Chief Justice for
twenty-nine years, at times acting as temporary Governor. On his retirement he was created a K.C.M.G. and the following year became Lieutenant-
Governor of Victoria. He died in Naples in March, 1889, while on a trip
to Europe. The fact that he was the first Chancellor of Melbourne University is an interesting side-light on his career.
(12) Cleary, op. cit, p. 130. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 133
following this trail to the West Coast of America. Here a small
settlement existed, possessing a solid British connection and in
need of lawyers. Thus McCreight came to Vancouver Island,
probably by way of San Francisco. He arrived in Victoria in
1860 and started his law practice.13
As most of McCreight's work was done in British Columbia,
it is only necessary at this point to give a brief outline of his life
there. From 1860 to 1880 he lived in Victoria, residing on
Michigan Street and having his law office on Government
Street.14 He acted as junior for a well-known barrister, D. Bab-
ington Ring, but did not seem to be in partnership as Ring's
office was located first at Fort and Douglas Streets and later on
Langley Street.    An 1862 subscription list to the Royal Hospital,
Victoria, included:  "McCreight, M. $5.00."16    From 1871
until 1875 McCreight was connected with political affairs, then
returned to his extensive law practice. In 1880 he was made a
Judge, and after that time he did not reside in Victoria for more
than brief periods of time. That he entered into the life of the
city during these years is shown not only in his legal and political
activities, but in his work for Christ Church Cathedral and for
the Masonic order. His period of political activity as Attorney-
General, as the first Premier of British Columbia, and as a
private member for Victoria has been detailed elsewhere,16 and
his Masonic affiliation has been thoroughly discussed,17 it remains
for his work as a barrister to be examined in detail.
John Foster McCreight was admitted to the Bar of Vancouver
Island on June 26, 1860.    He was admitted to the Bar of British
(13) The first mention of McCreight in print occurred in the Victoria
Colonist, August 11, 1860. His name did not appear in Edward Mallandaine (ed.), First Victoria Directory, First Issue . . . 1860, Victoria,
1860, nor in F. P. Howard and George Barnett, The British Columbia and
Victoria Guide and Directory for 1863, Victoria, 1863,
(14) Edward Mallandaine (ed.), First Victoria Directory, Second
Issue    .    .    .   1868, Victoria, 1868, p. 39.
(15) Victoria Colonist, January 18, 1862.
(16) W. N. Sage, " John Foster McCreight, the First Premier of British
Columbia," Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, XXXIV (1940),
Section II, pp. 173-185.
(17) R. L. Reid, " R.W. Bro. John Foster McCreight," Proceedings of
the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge A.F. and A.M. of British Columbia, 70th
Annual Communication, Vancouver, 1941, pp. 173 ff. 134 Patricia M. Johnson. April
Columbia on November 30, 1862, but the next month his name
was removed from the roll of barristers at his own request. In
1867, after the union of the colonies, an Ordinance was passed
allowing barristers who had been practising in either colony the
right to practise in the united colony,18 thus McCreight's work
could again extend beyond Vancouver Island. On April 2, 1873,
McCreight was appointed a Queen's Counsel,19 and he continued
his law practice until November 26, 1880, when he was elevated
to the Bench.20
As a lawyer, McCreight showed himself at his best. Not only
had he the training for the profession, but he had the temperament also. The law and its intricacies appealed to his analytical
mind and stimulated all his powers. His knowledge of the subject was extensive, and frequent remarks showed that his legal
skill was recognized and admired by his contemporaries. The
cases in which he acted were many and varied, but all point to
his ability, his erudition, and his profound interest in the technicalities of the subject. The cases are important, too, in that
they show something of the life of the times and the problems
that confronted the early settlers.
The first case in which McCreight gained any notice from
the press was tried in the Court of Assize at Victoria on August
10, 1860. This was Regina v. R. Lewis, involving the shooting
of a Hydah Indian named Johnson. The Attorney-General,
G. H. Cary, prosecuted, while the counsels for the defendant were
D. Babington Ring and his junior, John Foster McCreight.21
Of the two, McCreight made the better showing. By his handling of the Indian witnesses he was able to show that the evidence
was insufficient to convict Lewis, and the defendant consequently
was found " not guilty."22
The next case to be reported took place before Chief Justice
David Cameron in the Supreme Court on November 13, 1860.
Here McCreight appeared on behalf of E. Hammond King on the
(18) "An Ordinance making provision for Barristers-at-Law, Attorneys, Notaries Public, and Articled Clerks, of the late Colony of Vancouver
Island," March 7, 1867.
(19) First reported in the Victoria Colonist, April 25, 1873.
(20) Ibid., December 1, 1880.
(21) Ibid., August 11, 1860.
(22) Ibid., August 14, 1860. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 135
return of a writ of habeas corpus. The prisoner, it was claimed,
had been held without warrant from November 6 until November 12, supposedly on a charge of contempt of Court, arising
from a charge of assault. In a lengthy speech McCreight supported his claim quoting " Burns Justices v. V. pp 1202 . . .
Dicken's Quarter Sessions, pp 99 . . . Bailey on Convictions, pp 81."
The learned counsel concluded by again cjfing his authorities, and said that
in the whole of the law books his lordship would not find a single instance
to warrant the Court of Petty Sessions imprisoning for a contempt of
Court; and he believed his lordship, if he remanded the prisoner to jail,
would have to decide as no English judge had ever before decided.23
Chief Justice Cameron had had little, if any, legal training and
doubtless it came as a surprise when his decision went against
McCreight's client:—
. . . I cannot hold that the commitment is so defective as to warrant
this court to discharge the prisoner. It is, no doubt, slovenly drawn, but
its defects are aided by the conviction, and I must, therefore, order the
prisoner to" be remanded, whence he came. It is not for this court to say
to the one below what is an adequate punishment for a contempt, and of
the nature described in the conviction.24
McCreight's cases in 1861 showed great variety. On January 29 Ring and McCreight successfully defended William Mill-
ington, charged with the murder of Robert Coombs, with
Attorney-General Cary and H. P. P. Crease acting for the
Crown.26 The next week found Ring and McCreight appearing
before a Coroner's inquest on behalf of Dr. William Rumsey, the
medical attendant of Edward Portnam who had died under
suspicious circumstances in the American Saloon.26 The inquest
dragged on until February 9, when a verdict of " death from
apoplexy" was returned.27. An interesting sidelight on McCreight's temperament, as well as his relationship with this
particular client, is provided by the following extract from the
Victoria Colonist:—
Rencounter.—Yesterday, about noon, a lawyer and a M.D., both well
known in this community, met at the corner of Fort and Government streets,
(23) Ibid., November 14, 1861.
(24) Ibid., November 15, 1860.
(25) Ibid., January 30, 1861.
(26) Ibid., February 5, 1861.
(27) Ibid., February 11, 1861. 136 Patricia M. Johnson. April
where some words of an unknown import passed between them, and the
doctor was felled to the ground by a blow from the lawyer. A friend of
the M.D. interfered, when he too was knocked down by the lawyer. A
fight ensued, and several severe blows were given by the legal gentleman
to his antagonists, who finally retired, leaving him master of the field. A
large crowd were drawn together by the affray. A warrant, we learn, will
be issued for the arrest of the victor.28
One can only surmise the motives impelling McCreight, and in
the subsequent Police Court action he pleaded guilty to the
assault charge and was fined £5 by the Magistrate.29
Later in February, Ring and McCreight temporarily parted
company. In the case of Cusson v. Little, before the Supreme
Court for the recovery of a sum of money, the plaintiff, represented by Ring, won the case while the defendant, represented
by McCreight, had to pay. This is one of the very few cases,
and a trivial one at that, in which McCreight lost.30 In April
the two were colleagues once more in two cases, Wasserman v.
Davis and Nicol v. Bell. The former involved a judgment sent
from California for collection, and the point argued by
McCreight was whether a judgment could be collected in Vancouver Island without due notice having been given.31 In the
end the Court pronounced judgment for McCreight's client.
Mute testimony to the efficacy of his argument is to be found
in the newspaper account: " After a lengthy argument, it
appeared that the law on both sides was fully exhausted."32
Then the next month " instructed by Mr. [George Edgar]
Dennes " Ring and McCreight represented the plaintiff in the
famous Church Reserve suit brought by Bishop Modeste Demers
of the Roman Catholic Church against Bishop George Hills of
the Anglican Church.38    The case was an involved one34 and
(28) Ibid., March 2, 1861.
(29) Ibid., March 4, 1861.
(30) Ibid., February 21, 1861.
(31) Ibid., April 20, 1861.
(32) Ibid., April 27, 1861.
(33) Ibid., May 4, 1861.
(34) " Piles and piles of law books were on the table before them. To
give our readers a faint idea of what an infliction is in store for the Chief
Justice, the jury, and others, we counted in front of the counsel for the
defendants 47 volumes, and in front of the counsel for the plaintiff, 26
volumes, making a total of 73 packages of legal knowledge bound in calf."
Ibid., May 7, 1861. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 137
occupied the Court for six days, and eventually ended in a
decision in favour of Bishop Demers, with damages of £5
assessed against Bishop Hills.35 The trial was marked by many
quarrels between the counsel, as is made clear by the newspaper
The quarrels of the counsel on either side occupied the time of the Court
and exhausted the patience of the judge, jury, and spectators. . . . The
special jury of eight, at the close of the day, seemed about as near used-up
as any body of men we have met for a long while, and if they survive the
fearful ordeal through which they have yet to pass, should be excused from
jury duty for all time to come.86
Shortly thereafter, McCreight, acting with H. P. P. Crease, took
part in an equally interesting case in the Police Court—the
Victoria Water Case—in which Leopold Loewenberg was
charged with trespassing on a Government reserve. McCreight
" quoted authorities to show that the case could be settled in the
Police Court," and Loewenberg was dismissed.37
Of even greater importance was McCreight's defence of the
Hudson's Bay Company against an application by the Attorney-
General of Vancouver Island for an injunction restraining the
Company from selling land in Victoria. The anomalous situation then existing had arisen from the fact that the Hudson's
Bay Company had been given proprietary rights at the time of
the establishment of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island in
1849. Following the parliamentary inquiry in 1857, the Colonial Office announced its intention of repurchasing Vancouver
Island when the Company's Exclusive Licence of Trade expired
on May 30, 1859. Great difficulty was encountered in drawing
up the indenture of reconveyance, and, indeed, the surrender was
not completed until April 3, 1867; consequently, in the interim,
confusion existed as to the validity of titles granted by the Company subsequent to the notice by the Crown of its intention to
resume Vancouver Island. As was to be expected, McCreight
" brought forward many authorities to prove that the injunction
could not issue "38 and the decision was rendered in his favour.89
(35) Ibid.,  May 11, 1861.
(36) Ibid.,  May 4, 1861.
(37) Ibid., May 15, 1861.
(38) Ibid., June 8, 1861.
(39) Ibid., June 19, 1861. 138 Patricia M. Johnson. April
A case in Equity in the Supreme Court brought in some well-
known local figures. In the suit of James Wilcox v. J. D. and
A. F. Pemberton, the plaintiff, represented by McCreight,
charged that the Pembertons had hurt his business by keeping a
bar across the Victoria bridge and asked for an injunction
restraining them from so doing. The defendants, represented
by H. P. P. Crease, for whom G. H. Cary appeared, declared
that the bridge was old and unsafe and urged that the authorities should destroy it. At first the case was reserved, but it was
later reviewed and a settlement effected.40
In October, 1861, there occurred a Police Court case which
attracted wide attention because of its bearing on the colour
question in the colony. On September 25 a " Grand Concert"
was arranged for the benefit of the Royal Hospital under the
patronage of the Governor and Capt. D. M. McKenzie of H.M.S.
Bacchante. During the performance flour was poured on two
negroes and they retaliated. " The fire-bell was rang [sic], the
engines rolled, and quite an excitement ensued."41 The two
negroes, Nathan Painter and Miften W. Gibbs, laid a charge of
assault against William L. Ryckman, who, as it turned out, was
an innocent bystander.42 But a more serious development followed, when, on the complaint of the Chief of Police, it was
charged that James A. McCrea and Edward Boyce had " conspired to create a riot at the theatre."42 In this action the prosecution was undertaken by Ring and Dennes and the defence by
McCreight and George Pearkes.
" The Theatre Rumpus," as it became known, grew out of the
alleged attempt of the defendants to bribe two of the performers
at the " Grand Concert "—Madame Ballagny and Felix Lesbonis
or Ledeirer—not to sing before negroes, a considerable number
of whom were in the audience—the first recorded attempt to
create a colour distinction in the colony. It was alleged that
when this failed and the performance began, the defendants disrupted matters by throwing onions at the artists and eventually
had had to be removed by force. McCreight sought to prove that
the affair had been much exaggerated.    In so far as McCrea was
(40) Ibid., August 15 and 23, 1861.
(41) Ibid., September 26, 1861.
(42) Ibid., October 11, 1861. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 139
concerned, he declared " there is no proof of conspiracy, and I
am sure he would be the last person to throw a missile at a
lady."43 It was his contention that McCrea had merely hissed
and told Ledeirer not to sing, certainly not a matter of conspiracy or riot. The case, however, was referred to the Assize
On November 13 McCreight made application in the Supreme
Court for a jury de metietate linguae,u the first such application
in the history of the colony. In this the Attorney-General concurred and, in consequence, when the case came to trial on
November 20, a jury comprising six British subjects and six
foreign subjects was empanelled.46 The plaintiff asked for a
postponement, as the star witness, George Little, had been
" carried away accidentally" on the mail steamer. It was
suggested that McCrea had arranged this, but no postponement
was granted. Felix Ledeirer, when asked whether McCrea had
offered him $50 if he would not sing before negroes, replied,
" Non." When asked further by McCreight: " Did you not
intend to take the $50 and not sing, but Mme Ballagny pushed
you up in a corner, and told you she would box your ears if you
did not go on the stage with her? " the singer, amid the laughter
of the Court, replied: " Non; I say to Mme Ballagny, ' I better
not sing'; and she say, ' Felix, you will sing,' and then I sing."
In this way McCreight reduced the whole affair to an absurdity.
In conclusion, the learned gentleman claimed that no riot had been proven,
and said that the only thing he regretted was that the Court and Jury had
been brought together to waste time in trying such a case, and that the
majesty of the law was very nearly made a farce of by the trial of such
a matter.4*
With this the jury agreed, for the defendants were found " not
At the end of the year an entirely different case attracted
considerable   attention.    McCreight,    along   with   Ring   and
(43) Ibid., October 15, 1861.
(44) Ibid., November 14, 1861.
(45) The jury empanelled comprised the following: British subjects—
Benjamin P. Griffin (Foreman), Albert Hicks, Richard A. Crowther, Archibald Matthieson, George H. Sanders, and Thomas Smith; foreign subjects—
William Zelner, Kady Gambitz, Charles Vereydhen, E. Grancini, Moses
Sporborg, and William H. Oliver.   Ibid., November 21, 1861.
(46) Ibid. 140 Patricia M. Johnson. April
Pearkes, acted as counsel for Capt. George T. Gordon, late
Treasurer of the Colony of Vancouver Island, charged in the
Police Court with Treasury defalcation.47 At that time the sum
of money involved was £140, and it was generally recognized
that the difficulty arose from a probable error on the Captain's
part, for after the evidence had been heard McCreight
In short, the amount of Captain Gordon's offence, so far as these two sums
are concerned, is in entering them on the 14th of Dec, and in setting down
a figure 1 instead of 4.48
Later he suggested: " I suppose any of the gentlemen at the head
of departments here, not being conversant with business, make
occasional errors in their accounts."
Gordon, however, was remanded for trial before the Assize
Court, and in the interim other defalcations were discovered.
When the trial opened on January 22, 1862, the charge covered
three counts, amounting in all to £465, and the Captain was
found guilty on two counts, with a strong recommendation for
mercy. As some of the evidence had been conflicting, Ring
asked the presiding Judge, Chief Justice David Cameron, for an
arrest of judgment, and on January 28 McCreight addressed the
Court in support of the motion, claiming " that according to law
the indictment should have stated that the prisoner had committed a larceny."49 On this technicality he tried his best to
gain a release for his client and drew great applause for a " perspicuous and able argument." As a result of this plea, the
prisoner was discharged, but was rearrested on the street soon
after leaving the Court.60
The new trial, this time for embezzlement of public funds,
came up in April. The jury, however, reached no conclusion, as
they continued to argue the motives of the prisoner rather than
the facts of the case, for the general public believed that the
money had not been taken with felonious intent, but by an
error.61   As no agreement was reached, Captain Gordon was
(47) Ibid., December 27, 1861.
(48) Ibid.
(49) Ibid., January 29, 1862.
(50) Ibid.,  February 1, 1862.
(51) Ibid., April 11, 1862. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 141
kept in prison under the terms of the Bankruptcy Act,62 and it
was some time before arrangements were made for his release.
Public excitement over the Gordon case had hardly subsided
when yet another defalcation was uncovered. Three gold bars
had been left with Aime Marchand, a Belgian assayer, by Messrs.
Sporborg & Goldstone for assay. Marchand in turn sold them
to Wells, Fargo Company for $1,326.45 and absconded with the
proceeds.63 He was subsequently recaptured and brought to
trial in the Police Court, with Ring acting for the defence and
McCreight holding a watching brief for Wells, Fargo Company.
The latter made application for the custody of the bars, but this
was opposed by the Attorney-General on the grounds that they
were the rightful property of Messrs. Sporborg & Goldstone.64
The case was remanded to the Assize Court, but the grand jury,
ignoring a bill for larceny, returned an indictment for " selling
goods deposited for a special purpose,"66 and Marchand was
found guilty and sentenced to one year in jail. At the conclusion
of the trial the Attorney-General moved for the return of the
gold bars to Messrs. Sporborg & Goldstone and was opposed by
McCreight, again acting for Wells, Fargo Company.66
The most spectacular trial in which McCreight participated
took place at the end of 1862. This was the famous case of
Cranford v. Wright at the assizes in New Westminster. The
case created widespread interest, as it dealt with the transportation of supplies from the Coast to the Cariboo and affected
men of all sorts from Victoria to Williams Creek. This case
brought out clearly another phase of McCreight as a lawyer.
On Vancouver Island he had been practising before the Chief
Justice, David Cameron, who had never been a barrister and who
would easily recognize that McCreight knew a great deal more
about the law than he did. Now that he had come to a case on
the Mainland, McCreight found himself before Matthew Baillie
Begbie, who not only had a competent legal education, but also
an overruling will and dictatorial manner.   It has been pointed
(52) Ibid., April 23, 1862.
(53) Ibid., April 9, 1862.
(54) Ibid., April 10, 1862.
(55) Ibid., April 17 and May 1, 1862.
(56) Ibid., April 18, 1862. 142 Patricia M. Johnson. April
out that although Begbie received his legal training in London,
he had had little experience and consequently no great knowledge
of the law.67 This, coupled with a tendency to use bullying
methods, was almost certain to lead to difficulties. McCreight
knew the law, Begbie was a law unto himself, and neither would
be willing to compromise—McCreight on principle, Begbie on
the grounds of authority and vanity.
The clash came in December, 1862, and throughout the
lengthy trial Begbie and McCreight were much in the limelight.
The fact that the fullest reports available appeared in the New
Westminster British Columbian, a paper whose editor, John
Robson, had his own private grudge against Begbie, probably
exaggerated the proceedings. But if this bias is taken into consideration, the proceedings well illustrate Begbie's summary
methods and McCreight's insistence on legal correctness and his
stress on the dignity of the Bar and all that pertained to it.
The case opened at the assizes on December 6, with Ring and
McCreight acting for the plaintiff, Cranford, and Cary and
Walker acting for the defendant, Wright. The newspapers in
announcing the approaching assizes had prophesied " a brilliant
display of legal talent on both sides."68 The details of the case
have been fully dealt with69 and, consequently, it is only necessary
here to give the briefest background for the trial. Robert C.
Cranford had arrived in Victoria from San Francisco in April,
1862, with a consignment of goods which he hoped to sell in the
gold-mining centre of Williams Creek. His brother, John F.
Cranford, followed him, but claimed that he was not associated
with him as a partner. Robert Cranford then negotiated with
G. B. (Gus) Wright, a well-known packer, to transport his goods
from Victoria to Lillooet, from whence another company, the
W. Haskell Company, would take them on to Williams Creek. A
satisfactory agreement as to rates of transport and terms of
credit seemed to have been reached. Robert Cranford then proceeded to Lillooet to await the goods, but they did not arrive on
(57) For a study of Begbie see a series of four articles by Sydney
Pettit in the British Columbia Historical Quarterly, XI (1947), pp. 1-14,
113-148, 187-205, 273-294.
(58) New Westminster British Columbian, November 26, 1862.
(59) Sydney Pettit, "The Tyrant Judge: Judge Begbie in Court,"
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, XI (1947), pp. 273-288. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 143
time, and after waiting two weeks the Haskell Company took
another load and left for Williams Creek. When Cranford's
goods finally did arrive, they were incomplete, besides being too
late to forward to Williams Creek in time for the season. On
this account Cranford refused to pay the charges, claiming that
Wright had been sending his own goods through in plenty of
time while delaying Cranford's. He argued that his bill for
damages and delayed goods would more than cover the costs of
the freight.
In September Wright pressed for payment and asked the
Magistrate at Lillooet, A. C. Elliott, if he could proceed against
the Cranford brothers for debt. This request was granted, and
Wright then asked for the arrest of the Cranfords on the grounds
that they owed him £1719:15:3 for goods sold and delivered to
them. Robert Cranford was arrested at Lillooet and John Cranford at Williams Creek, and the two were tried in the Supreme
Court at Lillooet before Begbie in October.60 In this trial,
Wright v. Cranford, the Cranfords based their defence on the
plea that John Cranford was not a partner and consequently not
liable for his brother's debt and that the memorandum of the
contract had been altered by Wright. They also claimed that
they now owed nothing to Wright, rather that he owed them
$2,000. The trial ended with a verdict for Wright and the
Cranford brothers were imprisoned for a debt of $9,500 owing
to Wright.
Many technicalities arose in connection with this trial, but
Begbie overrode them all. Several months later the Cranfords
began proceedings against Wright for breach of contract, and
this was the case that came before the New Westminster assizes.
McCreight opened the case by claiming that Wright was
guilty of a breach of contract and grave misconduct. Begbie
interrupted to tell McCreight that it was disgraceful for him to
cast imputations on the defendant. McCreight unused to such a
tone, declared " that he did not require to be taught his duty,"61
and repeated that it was not a charge of larceny but imputed considerable and grave misconduct to Wright.   Begbie again inter-
(60) Cranford's account of the Lillooet trial appeared in the New Westminister British Columbian, December 27 and 31, 1862;   January 7, 1863.
(61) Ibid., December 13, 1862. 144 Patricia M. Johnson. April
rupted and asked that Ring withdraw the case from McCreight,
an action that Ring declined to take.
Mr. McCreight then proceeded by stating to the jury that whatever his
opinion of the learned Judge might be, he felt it his duty to state the facts,
and, moreover, to draw the attention of the jury to the inferences which
he considered any reasonable man would deduce from these facts.62
The case proceeded for eleven days, during which time Begbie
frequently lost his temper and showed himself impatient of the
constant quoting of authorities by the plaintiff's counsels. At
the end of the plaintiff's argument he indicated that he would
give a decision of nonsuit, which would be tantamount to awarding the case to Wright, but this was hotly contested by both Ring
and McCreight. At one time in the proceedings Begbie became
so aroused as to consider having Ring removed from the Court.
However, he thought better of it and began an apology to Ring,
who would not accept it unless it was tendered to McCreight as
well. Whereupon McCreight arose and, seemingly with all the
tradition of law and order behind him, declared:—
. . . that he had been most grossly insulted, that it was inexpressably
irksome to have anything to do in his Court, and that His Honor would not
dare to use the language outside the Court room that he had used in it.68
The case was resumed and all the evidence heard, but when
the time came for the charging of the jury, Begbie refused to
read over his notes on the case and gave only a brief charge
instead of a detailed summing-up. The jury was out for twenty-
eight hours and could not reach a unanimous decision. On their
return McCreight suggested that a majority verdict could be
adopted, citing the precedent of Linaker v. Ballou. This Begbie
refused to permit. Ring then suggested that with further assistance and advice from the Judge on any necessary point of law a
decision might be reached, but Begbie, agitated and angry, proceeded to discharge the jury. Then came the famous dramatic
scene. Ring, addressing the Registrar of the Court, said: " Mr.
Matthew, have you the book in Court which contains the names
of the barristers who practise in this Court?" To which Mr.
Matthew replied in the affirmative.   " Then please dash your pen
(62) Ibid.
(63) Ibid., January 21, 1863. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 145
across my name," was Ring's rejoinder. McCreight made a
similar request, and together the two counsels left the Court.64
McCreight and Ring became public heroes, and on the evening
of their,withdrawal from the Court were waited upon by a
deputation requesting them to attend a public meeting in their
honour in the Columbia Theatre. Here, with W. D. Ferris in
the chair, a " Complimentary Address " was delivered to them
" in view of the firm and manly ability " with which they had
repelled " the insults heaped upon them by the Court during the
Cranford suit and in order to mark public disapprobation of the
extraordinary course by the Judge throughout that trial." The
address read as follows:—
Gentlemen, the citizens of New Westminster having called a public
meeting for the purpose of discussing recent events vitally affecting the
administration of justice in this Colony, beg leave to offer their sincere
expressions of regret at the course which you have felt yourself bound in
honor to adopt upon the discharge of the jury in Cranford vs. Wright.
They would further state, that though they feel deeply pained by your
withdrawal frcm the Bar, and consequent loss of your professional services,
yet they cannot but express their gratitude for the bold and courageous,
yet, under the circumstances, respectful demeanor which throughout you
observed to the Bench.
They further sincerely trust that they may at no distant day be honored
by your presence, when a recurrence of such extraordinary scenes as were
lately witnessed will be impossible.
New Westminster, December 18, 1862.65
The whole affair did mark a stage in Judge Begbie's regime,
and he must have realized that he had gone too far. As time
passed he became much less autocratic in Court and paid more
careful attention to the technicalities of the law. The occasion
brought out very clearly certain of McCreight's characteristics.
He also was autocratic by nature, and this was shown not on
personal grounds, but on behalf of his position. He was a barrister, a learned counsel; he, too, represented the law.    To him
(64) Ibid., December 20, 1862. The Cranfords were sent back to prison
and prepared yet another suit, this time before the Supreme Court of Vancouver Island, apparently hoping for better treatment before Chief Justice
Cameron. However, the matter never reached the Court as an announcement in the newspaper stated that " the dispute had been amicably settled
to the satisfaction of friends of both parties." Victoria Colonist, April 15,
(65) New Westminster British Columbian, December 20, 1862. 146 PATRICIA M. JOHNSON. April
such a representation was almost sacred, certainly deserving of
respect and immune from rough language and unconventional
treatment. Order and dignity, tradition and precedent, were
part of his world. Personal animosity, undignified behaviour,
departure from legality of proceedings must not find their way
into the Court. He opposed Begbie, not because of his personal
behaviour, but because he had departed from correct Court procedure and because he tried to manipulate the law. It has been
said that Begbie was a law unto himself and this, to McCreight's
eyes, was a sacrilege. The law was the law, and as such it must
remain, McCreight would resist with all the forces at his disposal
any attempt to disenthrone it. He would use his own autocratic
bearing, his command of withering language, his knowledge of
legal precedent, and finally his great personal integrity in the
battle to preserve the law. When McCreight showed anger, it
was " righteous anger," directed less against Begbie as an individual, as against a person who dared to tamper with age-old
law and custom.
There is a feeling that McCreight despised Begbie for his
ignorance of the law and its methods. He despised too a Judge
who would permit so many irregularities. The Cranfords had
pleaded that their earlier arrest and trial in Lillooet had been
most unconventional. Robert Cranford was lodged in a jail that
would not lock and was himself forced to pay for a constable to
guard him. The Sheriff, looking for him, had lost his horse, and
Cranford had had to pay for one to replace it.66 Such incidents,
swept aside by the Judge as commonplace in a pioneer region,
must have irked McCreight with their unfairness and their lack
of legal authority. Legal technicality meant so much to McCreight, to Begbie it was a waste of time. Perhaps McCreight
was unadaptable, but with him these things were a matter of
principle. Law to him was a search for absolute truth, and in
all dignity and sincerity its ritual must be maintained.
Some time after the union of the colonies in November, 1866,
McCreight resumed the right to practise on the Mainland,67 but
"    (66) Ibid., January 7 ,1863.
(67) "J. F. McCreight, Esq., barrister, of Victoria, gives notice in the
Gazette that he will apply, at the next term of the Supreme Court, to be
enrolled as a barrister of the said court." Victoria Colonist, February 18,
1867. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 147
his cases there were not numerous. New Westminster was losing
its position in favour of Victoria—eventually even the British
Columbian came to be published in Victoria. Chief Jastice
David Cameron had been replaced on Vancouver Island by
Chief Justice Joseph Needham,68 while Begbie continued on the
A case which occurred in Victoria in 1869 before Chief
Justice Needham showed the type of work in which McCreight
delighted. The matter of legal technicalities was his great
interest, and the case of Regina v. Anderson gave full scope
for this. The Attorney-General prosecuted, while McCreight
defended the prisoner, William Anderson, charged with inciting
seamen to desert. McCreight's case rested upon a legal point
that the offence, if it had been committed, was punishable not
by indictment in the Assize Court, but by summary proceedings
before a Magistrate and, moreover, that it was not a common-
law offence, but one created by Statute which defined the penalty.
According to the newspaper " a great many authorities were
quoted pro and con by the learned counsel on both sides,"69 but in
the end the prisoner was discharged. In the Attorney-General,
H. P. P. Crease, it was felt that McCreight had a worthy opponent, as of all the other barristers in the colony he was probably
second only to McCreight in ability and legal knowledge.
In 1870 Crease became a Judge — the first Puisne Judge
appointed in the colony. Ten years later he presided at another
famous trial with which McCreight was associated—Regina v.
McLeans and Hare. By this time McCreight, having served as
Attorney-General and Premier, was the top-ranking lawyer of
the Province, and he acted as Queen's Counsel conducting the
prosecution. The trial was held at a special assize in New Westminster. The three McLean brothers, Allen, Archibald, and
Charles, and Alexander Hare were indicted for the murder of
John Ussher, of Kamloops. McCreight, whose speeches were
often subject to praise, apparently surpassed himself on this
occasion and the prisoners were found guilty.70
(68) Ibid., October 12, 1865.
(69) Victoria British Columbian, May 29, 1869.
(70) New Westminster Mainland  Guardian,  March  17,  20, and 24,
1880. 148 Patricia M. Johnson. April
The appeal did not come up for eight months, but in the
interim and arising directly from the trial a famous hearing was
held before the Supreme Court in Victoria in June, 1880, as to
whether commissions for Courts of Oyer, and Terminer were
necessary in the Province of British Columbia. McCreight
argued that the Lieutenant-Governor had no power to issue such
commissions and, indeed, had no prerogative powers. During
these hearings there were several sharp exchanges between McCreight and Chief Justice Sir Matthew Begbie, reminiscent of
older days. They arose from a statement by McCreight that
ninety-six assizes had been held in the Province without commissions. Begbie interrupted angrily that this was untrue and
was known to be untrue by the counsel. Angry words followed,
Begbie attempted to prevent McCreight from continuing his
argument and in the end, greatly agitated, demanded an apology
from McCreight and adjourned the Court. When sittings were
resumed the following day, tempers were still on edge. Begbie
again attempted to prevent McCreight from continuing until an
apology was given, and McCreight's reply is a masterly exposition of his concept of the position of a barrister in a Court of
I was told by your Lordship that I was making a statement that I knew
to be untrue, and under the circumstances I think I have a right to ask
you to apologize to me instead of my offering an apology to you. The
remarks you made would lead me to believe that I am in the habit of making
false statements. I am a practitioner of some 20 years' standing here, and
if I am to be told these things whilst I am engaged in argument it is
impossible for me to conduct a case properly or do justice to my client. I
submit I have a right to ask your Lordship as a gentleman to apologize.
The privileges of a counsel are as important as those of a judge and should
be observed. Barristers are supposed to be gentlemen and they do not like
such accusations as your Lordship made yesterday. I stand here now to
vindicate the rights of counsel and I must state that I cannot possibly
apologize for the language I made use of. I went as far as I could yesterday when I said your statement was incorrect instead of being untrue. I
can go no further now and I say that an apology is due to me.71
His fellow barristers supported McCreight in his stand.    The
Attorney-General, George A. Walkem, spoke feelingly:—
I have frequently had occasion to protest against the manner in which I
have been treated by the Chief Justice, and I will state now, openly and
(71) Victoria Colonist, June 10, 1880. 1948 McCreight and the Law. 149
without fear, that I would not be in politics to-day if I thought I could be
decently treated by the Chief Justice. His treatment of Mr. McCreight
yesterday was overbearing and tyrannical. No man of spirit can stand
such treatment without resentment. I have resented it before and I resent
it now.72
In the end, after Begbie's associates, Mr. Justice H. P. P. Crease
and Mr. Justice J. H. Gray, had intervened and pointed out that
McCreight had really meant there had been no legal commissions, the Chief Justice permitted McCreight to continue his
In November, 1880, the appeal of the McLean brothers and
Hare was heard in New Westminster. This was the same Court
in which McCreight eighteen years earlier had been so roundly
insulted by Begbie. Then McCreight was a junior counsel, but
he had made a striking plea on behalf of his clients. Now he
was the Crown's counsel, assisted by his own junior, Eli Harrison. But he was still the McCreight who knew the law, who
loved precedent, and who quoted " Russell, on Crime, pp 55," and
from " Grimsby on Confessions."73 The prisoners were again
found guilty and sentenced to be hung. The proceedings were
conventional and dignified—the law had come into its own in the
New Westminster Court-house. And to the New Westminster
Court-house within three years' time McCreight was to return
as resident Judge, for he was appointed Puisne Judge on
November 26, 1880.   The law was his to administer.
Patricia M. Johnson.
Ladner, B.C.
(72) Ibid.
(73) New Westminster Mainland Guardian, November 17, 1880. FEDERAL   PARTIES   AND   PROVINCIAL
COLUMBIA, 1871-1903.*
In British Columbia political party allegiance sits rather
more lightly on the voters than is the case in the Eastern
Provinces. This is partly due to the large floating population
on the Pacific Coast, but even more to the peculiar political conditions existing in British Columbia between the years 1871 and
1903. Although Federal elections usually produced a division
into Conservatives and Liberals, it was not always the case.
British Columbian M.P.'s tended to support the party in power
in Ottawa. From 1871 to 1873, whatever political labels they
might adopt, the members from the Pacific Coast supported Sir
John A. Macdonald. In the general election of 1872 Sir Francis
Hincks obtained a British Columbia seat and represented the
riding of Vancouver that included all of Vancouver Island, exclusive of the City of Victoria. But from 1874 to 1878 the
British Columbians in the Commons gave support to the Mackenzie administration, usually with the proviso that they would
withdraw this support if the Terms of Union were not strictly
carried out. In 1878 the return of the Conservatives under Sir
John A. Macdonald produced a change of heart in most of the
British Columbian M.P.'s. The Pacific Province was especially
proud because in 1878 Sir John A. himself won a seat in Victoria,
B.C., and for four years the Prime Minister represented the Far
West Coast.
British Columbians in the Commons continued to support the
Conservatives until the election of 1896, when four Liberals and
two Conservatives, both from Victoria, were returned. Of that
epoch-making election, R. E. Gosnell wrote in 1897:—
At this election general political dividing lines were for the first time
introduced into the contest throughout the Province. Heretofore, although
the representatives from British Columbia as a rule supported the Administration at Ottawa, local issues and personal considerations usually decided
*The substance of a paper read before Section II of the Royal Society
of Canada at the annual meeting held in Quebec City, May 26-28, 1947.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 2.
151 152 Walter N. Sage. April
the, results. Victoria was the only constituency in which strictly liberal
candidates stood, but the sentiment was, prior to the last election, strongly
In the Provincial arena, party lines were not drawn until
1903, when Richard McBride, afterwards Sir Richard, on assuming the premiership, announced that he would form a Conservative administration. From that date until 1941 Conservatives
and Liberals succeeded each other, usually at rather lengthy
intervals. In 1941, however, the growing strength of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, coupled with the determination of the Liberals to rid themselves of their former leader,
Hon. Thomas Duff Pattullo, led to the formation of a coalition
government under the premiership of Hon. John Hart, a Liberal.
This administration was triumphantly returned in the general
election of 1945.
Before 1903 Provincial politics in British Columbia was
largely a game of the In's and the Out's and a struggle between
the Mainland and the Island. The late Judge F. W. Howay has
dealt at length with the period, and Dr. Edith Dobie in her article
" Some Aspects of Party History in British Columbia, 1871-
1903," has blazed the political trail.2 Mention should also be
made of the work of R. E. Gosnell, especially in certain chapters
of the second part of British Columbia: Sixty Years of Progress,3 but the inter-relations of the Federal parties and the
political groups in the Province have never been fully and satisfactorily studied.4 Fortunately, considerable light may be
thrown on this rather obscure subject by a close study of the
information contained in the Canadian Parliamentary Companion and its successor, the Canadian Parliamentary Guide.
The political history of the Province of British Columbia
from 1871 to 1903 falls into certain definitely marked divisions.
(1) R. E. Gosnell (ed.), The Year Book of British Columbia, 1897,
Victoria, 1897, p. 133.
(2) Edith Dobie, " Some Aspects of Party History in British Columbia,
1871-1903," Pacific Historical Review, I (1932), pp. 235-251.
(3) E. O. S. Scholefield and R. E. Gosnell, British Columbia: Sixty
Years of Progress, Vancouver and Victoria, 1913, passim.
(4) Eleanor B. Mercer in her thesis Political Groups in British Columbia, 1883—1898 (submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an
M.A. degree at the University of British Columbia, 1937), has made a close
analysis of a portion of the period under consideration. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 153
For the sake of clarity it will be well to tabulate them, as
(1) 1871-1874: The period of beginnings; the administra
tions of McCreight and De Cosmos.
(2) 1874-1883: "Fight Ottawa";   British  Columbia and
secession; the Walkem, Elliott, and Beaven
(3) 1883-1898: Political calm;   Smithe makes terms with
Ottawa;   group government firmly established.
(4) 1898-1903: An era of confusion culminating in the in
troduction of party government by Richard
Previous to Confederation, British Columbia possessed representative but not responsible government.6 Lieutenant-Governor
Joseph William Trutch selected John Foster McCreight to head
the first responsible ministry in British Columbia. McCreight
was a leading barrister in the new Province, but he had taken
no previous part in local politics. His selection by Trutch as
first Premier of British Columbia caused considerable heart-
searching among the local politicians. Amor de Cosmos, editor
of the Victoria Daily Standard, and John Robson, editor of the
Victoria British Colonist, both doughty champions of responsible
government, felt themselves aggrieved at being passed over by
Trutch. Nor were matters much improved when George
Anthony Walkem, of Cariboo, was added to the McCreight
administration as Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works.6
(5) On the introduction of responsible government into British Columbia, see W. N. Sage, " From Colony to Province, the Introduction of
Responsible Government in British Columbia," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly, III (1939), pp. 1-14.
(6) See W. N. Sage, " The position of the Lieutenant-Governor in
British Columbia in the years following Confederation," in R. Flenley (ed.),
Essays in Canadian History, Toronto, 1939, pp. 178-203. Reference might
also be made to the following papers by the same author: " John Foster
McCreight, The First Premier of British Columbia," Transactions of the
Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, XXXIV (1940), Section II, pp.
173-185, and "Amor de Cosmos, Journalist and Politician," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VIII (1944), pp. 189-212. The thesis submitted
in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an M.A. degree at the Uni- 154 Walter N. Sage. April
McCreight survived his first session and passed much useful
legislation. But the rival editors managed to head an effective
opposition, and in December, 1872, turned out McCreight by a
close vote of 11 to 10. Thomas Basil Humphreys, well known in
British Columbian political history as a destroyer of ministries,
introduced the vote of want of confidence on December 19, 1872.
McCreight promptly resigned the next day, and the Lieutenant-
Governor at once called on Amor de Cosmos to form a new
De Cosmos was easily the most picturesque political figure in
the early history of British Columbia. Born as William Alexander Smith, in Windsor, Nova Scotia, on August 20, 1825, he
changed his name in 1854 by an Act of the Legislature of California. He came to Vancouver Island during the 1858 gold
excitement, and on December 11, 1858, issued the first number
of the British Colonist. It was, apparently, his first attempt at
journalism. In the editorial columns of his newspaper De Cosmos bitterly attacked Governor James Douglas and the Family-
Company-Compact, which, he claimed, was misgoverning Vancouver Island. There seems to be little or no doubt that in
Nova Scotia De Cosmos had been influenced by Joseph Howe and
that he found a political situation on the West Coast in British
territory that was in many ways similar to that which had raised
the ire and genius of the great Tribune of Nova Scotia. In
November, 1871, De Cosmos, now editing the Daily Standard,
appealed " to the Liberal Party of British Columbia " to support
him in his opposition to McCreight.
. . . it is the duty of the Liberal members to rally round their old
leaders—the men who have year after year fought their battles and have
in no instance deserted the popular cause. To take any other course is to
convict themselves of treason to manhood, treason to the Liberal party,
that year by year for fourteen years have urged Responsible Government,
Union of the Provinces, and Confederation with the Dominion. It is no
treason, no public wrong to ignore the nominees of Gov. Trutch.7
At first sight the above quotation appears as proof positive
that there was a Liberal party in British Columbia even before
Confederation.   Unfortunately, that party seems to have existed
versity of British Columbia, 1947, by Patricia Johnson on John Foster
McCreight, is also of great value on this point.
(7)  Victoria Daily Standard, November 21, 1871. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 155
chiefly in De Cosmos' vivid imagination. There was a group
that favoured responsible government, union of the two colonies
of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and federation with
Canada, but it was composed of diverse elements and certainly
cannot be claimed to have been a Liberal or reform party in the
same sense that the term is applied to the political groups headed
by Joseph Howe, Lemuel Allan Wilmot, or by Robert Baldwin
and Louis Lafontaine. If proof is needed, it may be found in
the following facts: George A. Walkem at once took office under
Amor de Cosmos as Attorney-General; John Robson and Thomas
Basil Humphreys not only did not take office under De Cosmos,
but led the opposition to him and were equally opposed to his
administration as they had been to that headed by McCreight.
De Cosmos was not only Premier of British Columbia, but he
was also a Member of Parliament for Victoria City. In 1872,
before he was Premier, and in 1873 as Premier, he left Victoria
for Ottawa before the sittings of the Legislative Assembly had
terminated. In 1873 George A. Walkem acted as head of the
administration during De Cosmos' absence. After the Federal
elections of January, 1874, De Cosmos and Arthur Bunster, who
had been returned to the House of Commons, resigned their seats
in the local Legislature.8 Walkem then became Premier and
asked the other members of the administration to continue in
The resignation of Amor de Cosmos as Premier brought to
an end the first phase of the political history of the Province.
Federal party lines had not been drawn in local politics. Two
governments had held office. Both had been faced by active
opposition. Local antagonisms, especially that between De Cosmos and John Robson, had dominated the Provincial political
arena. McCreight, after he had ceased to be Premier, had
played a minor role. He was chiefly interested in constructive
legislation and was prepared to place his extensive legal knowledge at the disposal of his successor. When Walkem was criticized for taking office under De Cosmos, McCreight generously
stated that he approved of Walkem's course of action.
(8)  February 13, 1874, Journal of the Legislative Assembly of British
Columbia, Session, 1873-74, Victoria, 1874, p. 39. 156 Walter N. Sage. April
The second period, 1874-83, was one of storm and stress.
The downfall of Sir John A. Macdonald's administration in
1873 as a result of the Pacific Scandal had great repercussions
in British Columbia. In opposition Alexander Mackenzie had
denounced the Terms of Union with the Province. Edward
Blake was known to be utterly opposed to the building of the
Canadian Pacific Railway on the conditions proposed by the
Macdonald government. In 1874 Mackenzie sent out J. D. Edgar
on a special mission to British Columbia to discuss with Premier
Walkem and other prominent British Columbians certain proposed changes in the Terms of Union. The Edgar mission was
a fiasco, much of the blame for which must be placed squarely on
the shoulders of George A. Walkem.9 Lord Carnavon's attempt
to offer satisfactory terms was also unsuccessful. The Esquimalt
and Nanaimo Railway Bill, carrying out a portion of the Carnarvon Terms, passed the House of Commons on March 29, 1875,
but was defeated in the Senate two weeks later. Walkem was
furious because the island railway was essential to his plans.
Mackenzie later made a new offer to British Columbia, but made
it clear that the proposed cash payment of $750,000 was to be
given " for any delays which may take place in the construction
of the Pacific Railway" and also that the Esquimalt and Nanaimo
Railway was not to be considered a portion of the main line of
the Canadian Pacific Railway. On January 4, 1876, the Executive Council of British Columbia went on record as of opinion
that this offer meant that further delays in railway construction
were being planned and that the money was intended " as a
(9) It is quite impossible to discuss these and subsequent negotiations
in detail. The following references will be found useful: E. 0. S. Scholefield and F. W. Howay, British Columbia, from the earliest times to the
present, Vancouver, 1914, vol. II, pp. 327-415; E. O. S. Scholefield and R.
E. Gosnell, op. cit, pp. 43-93, 125-129; J. A. Maxwell, "Lord Dufferin
and the Difficulties with British Columbia, 1874-7," Canadian Historical
Review, XII (1931), pp. 364-89; Margaret A. Ormsby, "Prime Minister
Mackenzie, The Liberal Party, and the Bargain with British Columbia,"
Canadian Historical Review, XXVI (1945), pp. 148-173; W. R. Graham,
" Liberal Nationalism in the Eighteen-seventies," Annual Report of the
Canadian Historical Association, 1946, pp. 101-119. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 157
proposed indemnity for a contemplated indefinite postponement
of the construction of the work."10
The Walkem administration in the meantime was in financial
difficulties and was attempting to borrow from Ottawa by
pledging the annual subsidies due to British Columbia from the
Federal Government. T. B. Humphreys, now in opposition,
moved a vote of want of confidence in the local administration
on January 25, 1876. The Walkem government was defeated
and promptly resigned, and Lieutenant-Governor Trutch called
on A. C. Elliott to form a new administration.
Elliott's policy toward Ottawa was much more conciliatory
than Walkem's had been, but he was, none the less, unable to
find a solution for the vexed problem. Lord Dufferin's visit in
the summer of 1876 to a large extent soothed the ruffled feelings
of the British Columbians, who were, however, taking their stand
upon the Carnarvon Terms. Elliott, as a politician, was no
match for Walkem. In order to strengthen his position, Elliott
in 1877 appointed A. E. B. Davie, one of the members from
Cariboo, as Provincial Secretary. But Walkem was strong in
Cariboo, and rallying his cohorts he secured Davie's defeat in
the by-election. Early in 1878 Walkem moved a vote of want
of confidence in the Elliott administration and, although unable
to secure a majority for it in the House, he succeeded in producing a deadlock which was only broken by the utter defeat of
the Elliott government at the polls in May, 1878.
Walkem returned triumphantly to power. One of his first
actions was to introduce a secession resolution, which was carried
by a vote of 14 to 9. The resolution was forwarded to Ottawa,
but did not reach London until January 24, 1879. In the meantime Sir John A. Macdonald had won the federal elections of
1878 and had taken his seat as member for Victoria, B.C.
Walkem, consequently, became more conciliatory. There was
no mention of secession in the Lieutenant-Governor's speech at
the opening of the House in 1879. Railway construction contracts on the Mainland were let in 1880. The formal contract
between the Federal Government and the newly formed Canadian
(10) " Papers relating to certain proposed alterations by the Dominion
Government in existing Railway agreements, 10 January, 1876," in British
Columbia Sessional Papers, 1876, Victoria, 1876, p. 570. 158 Walter N. Sage. April
.Pacific Railway Company was signed in Ottawa on October 21
of that year. But Walkem had not yet given up his struggle
for the island railway. De Cosmos was appointed as special
agent to confer with the Federal Government, but Sir John A.
Macdonald was adamant, and even an appeal to London was of
no avail.
In May, 1882, Walkem was appointed a Judge of the Supreme
Court of British Columbia. Robert Beaven succeeded him as
Premier. In the elections of July, 1882, the Beaven government
was defeated, but the new Premier determined to carry on until
the meeting of the Legislature in January, 1883. It has been
suggested that the visit of Princess Louise and the Marquis of
Lome in the autumn of 1882 may have influenced Beaven's
decision. In January, 1883, the Legislative Assembly of British
Columbia promptly voted want of confidence in Beaven's administration, and Lieutenant-Governor Clement F. Cornwall called
upon William Smithe to form a government. The long and
hectic period of " Fight Ottawa " was now drawing to a close.
From 1883 to 1898 British Columbia politics were comparatively calm. Smithe came to terms with Ottawa in the so-called
Settlement Act of 1883-84. The Walkem faction was now discredited. Smithe, although not brilliant, was competent and
" brought to his position the essential qualities of prudence and
sound experience which were needed to guide the legislature
back onto the right road."11 The strongest man in the Government was John Robson, Provincial Secretary and Minister of
Finance and Agriculture. A. E. B. Davie, the Attorney-General,
was an able lawyer; and Robert Dunsmuir, the "coal king of
Vancouver Island " and later promoter of the Esquimalt and
Nanaimo Railway, was a strong supporter of the Government.
Robert Beaven, as Leader of the Opposition, was more effective
than he had been as Premier, but Smithe had a secure majority.
After Smithe's death in 1887, A. E. B. Davie carried on for
two years until his untimely death in 1889. John Robson succeeded him, but he too died in office in 1892. Theodore Davie,
brother of A. E. B. Davie, became Premier and remained at the
helm until 1895, when he resigned.    J. H. Turner then took over
(11)  Mercer, op. cit, pp. 10-11. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 159
until August, 1898. His ministry was summarily dismissed by
Lieutenant-Governor T. R. McInnes. During this period, 1883
to 1898, local political issues were well to the fore. The great
increase of population on the Mainland and especially the rapid
development of the Kootenays put an end to the squabble
between Mainland and Island. Theodore Davie was responsible
for the construction of the new Parliament Buildings at Victoria, but that rising seaport on the Mainland, Vancouver, was
already challenging the Island city's supremacy. The Klondike
gold-rush took place in the year of the downfall of the Turner
The final period, from 1898 to 1903, was one of confusion.
There were five administrations in as many years. C. A. Semlin
held office as Premier from August 12, 1898, to February 27,
1900, when his ministry was dismissed by the Lieutenant-Governor. " Fighting Joe" Martin, of Manitoba fame, tried to
carry on an administration from March to June, but was utterly
defeated in the Provincial election of 1900. One result of
Martin's debacle was the dismissal by the Laurier government of
Lieutenant-Governor McInnes. James Dunsmuir became Premier on June 15,1900, and remained in office until November, 1902,
when he was followed by W. G. Prior, whose ministry was dismissed on June 1, 1903. Party lines were now being drawn, and
Richard McBride formed a Conservative administration. Group
government in British Columbia had come to an end.
From the above summary it is quite obvious that the Provincial politics of British Columbia in no way conformed to the
Federal party pattern. None the less, they were not chaotic.
The political group possessed a considerable amount of cohesion.
It was, it is true, comparatively easy to " cross the floor," but in
the main two political groups dominated the situation. They
may be termed the De Cosmos-Walkem-Beaven group and the
Smithe-Robson-Davie-Turner group. Neither of them was confined to the Mainland nor to Vancouver Island. Walkem's
stronghold was Cariboo, and Robson had a large following on the
Lower Mainland. Smithe was strongest on Vancouver Island,
as were the Davies, but the Walkem-Beaven combination also 160 Walter N. Sage. April
held seats on the Island. Kootenay's one member in 1882,
R. L. T. Galbraith, supported Beaven.12
R. E. Gosnell, a thoughtful historian of British Columbia
politics, writing just before the First World War, came to the
conclusion that the differences between the groups were largely
There were no party lines then drawn. It is difficult at this distance of
time to understand just what issues did divide the government and opposition forces. Sectional interests had some influence; also pro-English versus
pro-Canadian sentiment; also conservatism as opposed to radicalism; but
neither of these nor both combined sufficed to bring out the difference of
the parties. It was more a matter of personal inclination and allegiance,,
a fact that has to explain the somewhat shifting politics of the next few
In his discussion of the extremely complicated political situation of 1874, Gosnell pointed out that newspaper rivalries played
a great part in producing a state of confusion.
In a sense it was a Newspaper War—a battle of the Standard and of the
Colonist waving on the forces of the Government and the Opposition respectively, while on the mainland the Herald and the Guardian supported and
opposed the Government at Ottawa, with regard to the proposed modifications in the Terms of Union. Later on . . . the position was practically reversed, although it is very difficult to define accurately a situation
of extreme complexity. The Colonist, after being a thorough-going Conservative paper, became virtually the mouthpiece of the Mackenzie Government—a fact emphasized by the appointment of its editor, John Robson, to
the important position of Comptroller in connection with the C.P.R. surveys
in the Province. The local Government on the other hand, which at first
was regarded as being in sympathy with the administration at Ottawa, went
into violent opposition.14
During the " Fight Ottawa " period De Cosmos and Walkem
were usually able to command a majority in the local House.
(12) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1883, Ottawa, 1883, p. 318.
Galbraith is listed as "A Liberal Conservative and opposed to the present
(13) Scholefield and Gosnell, op. cit, part ii, p. 19. In the above
passage, Gosnell- seems either to have lumped together two of the three
factors mentioned in opposition to the other, or else his diction is at fault
and " neither " should read " none " and " both " read " all."
(14) Ibid., p. 43. The Victoria Standard consistently supported De
Cosmos and Walkem. The Victoria Colonist, although founded by De
Cosmos, was bitterly opposed to him and to Walkem. The New Westminster newspapers, the Herald and the Guardian, also were bitterly partisan;  Robson was usually severely criticized by the latter. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 161.
The exception was, of course, the period of the Elliott administration, 1876-78. They were faced usually by a strong opposition headed by Robson, Humphreys, J. A. Mara, W. F. Tolmie,
and Smithe. Gosnell noted that " De Cosmos, Walkem, Beaven,
Armstrong, Booth and others on their side, were Canadians, and
the dividing line between Canadians and the English at that
time was marked."16 Robson, although Canadian born, was
allied to the so-called " English group." A close perusal of the
Canadian Parliamentary Companion shows that Gosnell's statement, although true on the whole, tends perhaps to be an oversimplification. J. A. Mara, for example, was a Canadian;16 C.
A. Semlin, also prominent on the Opposition, was also born in
Ontario and came of United Empire Loyalist stock.17 Smithe,
Humphreys, A. E. B. and Theodore Davie, on the other hand,
were all born in the British Isles.
The simplest explanation is probably the best. If we omit
the McCreight administration entirely as a period of beginnings,
it is clear that from 1872 to 1882 the De Cosmos-Walkem group
was dominant. When Walkem retired from active politics,
Beaven was left at the head of a discredited administration.
Defeated in the elections of 1882, Beaven refused to resign and
ensured the political collapse of his group. In 1883 William
Smithe took over, and his group retained office until 1898, when
an era of confusion began. It is tempting to conclude, and there
is evidence to prove it, that the personal animosities of De
Cosmos and Robson played quite a large part in the group alignment. But it is only a partial explanation. Robson consistently
opposed both De Cosmos and Walkem, but it should be remembered that he was not a member of the Legislative Assembly
from 1875 to 1882.
So far no attempt had been made to connect these local groups
with the Federal parties. Is it possible to claim that there ever
was any connection? In the sense that neither one of these
groups ever made a definite alliance with the Conservatives or
the Liberals, the answer must be negative. None the less, Fed-
US)  Scholefield and Gosnell, op. cit, part ii, p. 46.
(16) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1878, p. 481. The entry in
the Companion, 1876, p. 607, states that he was born and educated in
(17) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1883, p. 321. 162 Walter N. Sage. April
eral politics did influence the British Columbian groups. During
the "Fight Ottawa" period, 1874 to 1883, Walkem and his
associates were definitely opposed to the Federal Government
and especially to the Mackenzie administration. The Opposition,
although less hostile and more ready to compromise, was also
critical of Ottawa. But, as we have seen, the turning-point came
in 1878, and the elimination of Walkem in 1882 prepared the
way for the settlement of 1883-84. After that Federal politics
played a very small part in the Provincial field.
It is significant that the Canadian Parliamentary Companions
from 1873 to 1879 contain little information regarding the Federal party affiliations of the members of the Legislative Assembly
of British Columbia. In 1874 William Archibald Robertson,
elected in a by-election to replace Arthur Bunster, who had
resigned along with De Cosmos when dual representation ceased,
is listed as a Liberal.18 Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, who replaced
De Cosmos, is also listed as a Liberal.19 In 1877 Robert Dickinson, of New Westminster City—there was also a New Westminster District—put himself down as a Liberal. James W. Douglas,
of the City of Victoria, son of Sir James Douglas, and a supporter
of the Elliott administration, was classed as an Independent.
John Evans, of Cariboo, added the following enlightening
explanation: " While in England identified with advanced Liberals, but in Canada is thoroughly independent."20 Edwin Pim-
bury, of Cowichan, also appeared as a Liberal. In the Canadian
Parliamentary Companion for 1879 James Atkinson Abrams, of
Nanaimo, was listed as a Conservative and James Thomas
Mcllmoyl, of Victoria District, as a Liberal Conservative.21
Both of these gentlemen were returned for the first time to the
Legislative Assembly in the Provincial elections of 1878. Dr.
Tolmie had not been re-elected in Victoria District, but Pimbury
retained the Cowichan seat and continued his designation as a
(18) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1874, V- 504.
(19) Ibid., p. 505. A later statement by Dr. Tolmie reads: " Will support any Government in an honest endeavor to have the Carnarvon modifications of the Railway terms faithfully carried out." Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1876, p. 608.
(20) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1877, p. 377.
(21) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1879, pp. 375, 378.
(22) Ibid., p. 378. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 163
The full effects of the 1878 elections, Provincial and Federal,
are evident in the statistics recorded in the Canadian Parliamentary Companion for 1880. The following members were
listed as Conservative or Liberal Conservative: J. H. Abrams
(Nanaimo), William M. Brown (Lillooet), James Drummond
(Victoria City), George Ferguson (Cariboo), R. L. T. Galbraith
(Kootenay), Hans Helgeson (Esquimalt), T. B. Humphreys
(Victoria District), J. T. Mcllmoyl (Victoria District), William Saul (Lillooet), F. W. Williams (Esquimalt), and William
Wilson (Victoria City). Edwin Pimbury (Cowichan) alone
upheld the Liberal standard in the Legislative Assembly of
British Columbia.23 Most of these Conservatives had been
elected for the first time to the Provincial House in 1878, only
William Brown, T. B. Humphreys, William Saul, and F. W.
Williams having had previous experience in the Legislature. It
is noteworthy that the old war-horses—Dr. John Ash, Robert
Beaven, J. A. Mara, William Smithe, F. G. Vernon, and G. A.
Walkem—did not see fit to list their Federal party affiliations.
The Canadian Parliamentary Companion for 1883, issued
after the advent of the Smithe administration, listed the members
of the Legislature as supporters or opponents of the new Government. It also, in nearly every case, gave the Federal party to
which the members belonged. Thus we are able to obtain, for
the first time, a fairly clear picture of the political situation, both
Provincial and Federal, as it was affected by the British Columbia elections of 1882. Of the twenty-five members of the Legislative Assembly, no less than twenty-three were listed as Conservatives or Liberal Conservatives. There was one Independent
—James Orr, of New Westminster District—and only Simeon
Duck, of Victoria City, a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, failed
to list a Federal political affiliation. Even that doughty old
Liberal, John Robson, of New Westminster District, appeared
as a Conservative. The Liberal Party in British Columbia had
apparently reached its nadir.
But when the local political field is examined, the picture
changes. Of the twenty-five members, sixteen were supporters
of the Smithe administration, eight were opposed, and James Orr
(23)  Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1880, pp. 393-398. 164 Walter N. Sage. April
voted as an Independent. Smithe's supporters included A. E. B.
Davie, John Robson, Theodore Davie, and C. A. Semlin, all of:
whom were subsequently to become Premiers of the Province.
Beaven's supporters were as follows: George Cowan (Cariboo),
Simeon Duck (Victoria), John Grant (Cassiar), Robert McLeese
(Cariboo), R. L. T. Galbraith (Kootenay), Hans Helgesen
(Esquimalt), and W. J. Armstrong (New Westminster District).
Although Beaven himself sat for Victoria City, it will be seen
that the Walkem-Beaven group still drew its strength from the
Mainland constituencies. The Smithe group, on the other hand,
was composed of members from both Island and Mainland and,
in fact, represented practically all portions of the Province.24
So far attention has been focused on the Provincial stage, to
the almost entire neglect of the problem of the political party
affiliations of the British Columbians in the Federal Parliament.
As has been noted above, during the long regime of Sir John A.
Macdonald and his successors British Columbia on the whole
supported the Conservative Party. The one exception was, of
course, the Liberal interlude under Alexander Mackenzie. But
a close examination of the Canadian Parliamentary Companion
shows that this support for the Conservatives varied somewhat
from time to time. In 1873 all of the six members of the House
of Commons were listed as " Liberals," including Sir Francis
Hincks, but it is evident that they were supporters of Sir John
A. Macdonald.26 In 1874, after the victory of the Mackenzie
government at the polls, the British Columbians in Ottawa continued to be listed as Liberals, but they were working in harmony
with Alexander Mackenzie. Their position is well summed up
in the following phrase, quoted from the statement regarding
Joshua Spencer Thompson, M.P. for Cariboo:—
A Liberal; and " considers that in any case the first duty of every British
Columbia member should be to ignore parties and prejudices, and give a
fair trial to the new Administration, with a cordial support, so long as they
carry out the terms of Union in their integrity."26
(24) These statistics are compiled from information in the Canadian
Parliamentary Companion, 1883, pp. 315-321.
(25) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1873, pp. 161, 162, 183-186,
223-224, 253.
(26) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1874, p. 263. This phras'e-'
is repeated in subsequent issues of the Companion, 1875-78; but in that for
1879 Thompson was listed as a Liberal Conservative. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 165
By 1877 the allegiance of the British Columbians to Mackenzie was evidently wavering. Arthur Bunster, after stating that
he was a Liberal, added this saving clause " and will support the
party that builds the railway and carries out strictly the terms of
Union with B.C."27 Edgar Dewdney, M.P. for Yale, and later a
Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories and of British
Columbia, put forward a lengthy statement of his position.
Claiming to be a Liberal " perfectly untrammelled, having
neither received nor solicited any personal favor from either
party," he announced that he would " support that Government
that will complete the pledges made to B.C. in the terms of
Union; but should the electors direct him to assent to a modification of those terms he will do so."28 E. S. Roscoe, M.P. for
Victoria, announced himself as a Liberal who " at the present
time considers it the more expedient course for members from
B.C. to keep from party entanglements, and to render a fair and
independent support to the existing government on the condition
of its promptly and fairly carrying out the terms of Union, particularly the early commencement and vigorous prosecution of
the Pacific Railway, and generally giving attention to the interests of the Province."29
The elections of 1878 brought the British Columbians back
into the Conservative or Liberal Conservative fold. In 1879 two
of the Senators, Hon. R. W. W. Carrall and Hon. Clement F.
Cornwall, were listed as Conservatives, but Hon. William J. Macdonald was still a Liberal.30 Of the six Members of Parliament,
Arthur Bunster was a Liberal, but with the proviso that he
would " support the party that builds railway and carries out
strictly the terms of Union with B.C." Amor de Cosmos omitted
all reference to party affiliation, and Dr. T. R. McInnes claimed
to be " thoroughly independent in politics " but favoured " compulsory voting, equitable reciprocity with the U.S. and consolidation of the Dominion by the immediate construction of the
(27) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1877, p. 125.
(28) Ibid., pp. 141-142. In 1879 Dewdney appeared as a " Liberal
Conservative and supporter of Sir John A. Macdonald." Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1879, p. 163.
(29) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1877, p. 186.
(30) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1879, pp. 112, 114, 124.
Macdonald was later listed as a Liberal Conservative. 166 Walter N. Sage. April
Canadian Pacific Railway."31 Edgar Dewdney and J. S. Thompson were listed as Liberal Conservatives. Sir John A. Macdonald
was careful not to make any reference to his party connections—
none was necessary!
During the 1880's British Columbia continued to be loyal to
Sir John. Probably it was between 1883 and 1885 that this
loyalty was strongest, since by 1887 a Liberal Association was
organized in Victoria " for the purpose of advancing the Liberal
cause in this electoral district."32 But the Pacific Province was
still faithful to Sir John, for in the Federal elections of 1891 six
Conservatives were returned, and it was not until 1896 that the
Conservative hold on British Columbia was broken in the Federal
field. Included in the Liberal landslide of that year were four
supporters of Laurier from British Columbia; two Conservatives
were returned, both from Victoria. From 1896 to 1903 the
Liberals possessed a majority among the Federal representatives
from the Province. In 1903 there were four Liberals, one Conservative, and one Independent Labour, Ralph Smith, of Nanaimo, who gave his support to the Laurier government.88
To return once more to the Provincial political arena, during
the 1880's and early 1890's there was little change in the political
allegiance of the members of the Legislative Assembly. John
Robson was listed as a Liberal in 1885, 1887, and 1889, but in
1891 he acknowledged no Federal party connection. He was at
that time Premier of the Province. An analysis of the party
affiliation in 1891 gives the following figures:—
Conservatives     17
Liberals     6
Independents       2
No political affiliation listed    8
Total    3384
Unfortunately it is not possible to divide the members at all
accurately into " ministerialists " and " opposition," since few of
the M.L.A.'s in 1891 recorded their Provincial political loyalties.
(31) Ibid., pp. 148, 161-162, 199.
(32) Victoria Daily Standard, February 14, 1887.
(33) Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1903, p. 127, listed Smith as a
' Liberal, but elected as Independent Labor."
(34) Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1891, pp. 368-376. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 167
The downfall of the Turner administration in 1898 brought
to an end the long period of comparative calm and ushered in a
time of trouble which was to last until 1903. The Parliamentary
Guide for 1898-99 fortunately provides sufficient information to
permit an evaluation of the interrelation of the Federal parties
and Provincial political groups in that rather hectic year. In
the Eighth Legislative Assembly elected on July 9, 1898, there
were thirty-seven members. Their Federal party affiliations
were as follows: Liberals, 13; Conservatives, 12; Independents,
2; no party connection stated, 10. In the Provincial field the
results showed: Turnerites, 13; Semlinites, 13; no information
given, 11. An interesting cross-check combining Federal party
affiliation and local group connection reveals the following
Liberals supporting Semlin  5
Liberals supporting Turner    2
Conservatives supporting Semlin     3
Conservatives supporting Turner    6
Non-partisans supporting Semlin  5
Non-partisans supporting Turner  5
Conservatives listing no provincial group connection  3
Liberals listing no provincial group connection   6
Independents listing no provincial group connection   2
From 1901 to 1903 it was evident that group government was
breaking down in British Columbia. An analysis of the statistics
given in the Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1901, clearly shows
this to be the case. Of the thirty-seven members in the Ninth
Legislature of the Province elected in July, 1900, the party distribution was as follows: Conservatives, 16; Liberals, 12; no
party affiliation given, 7; Liberal-Labour, 1; and Independent,
l.36 By 1903 there had been little change in party alignments.
Hon. John Patton Booth, Speaker of the House, a Conservative,
died in 1902, and his seat was taken by a Liberal, Thomas W.
Paterson. The number of members had been increased to thirty-
eight, and the Hon. Edward G. Prior, who had been appointed
(35) The above statistics have been compiled from information in the
Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1898—99, pp. 242-246.
(36) Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1901, pp. 400—407, 168 Walter N. Sage. April
Minister of Mines in the Dunsmuir administration, was elected
for Victoria City as a Conservative in March, 1902. Prior
succeeded Dunsmuir as Premier in November, 1902, but was
unable to form a strong administration. The turning-point had
come in September, 1901, when Richard McBride resigned from
the Dunsmuir Cabinet in protest against the appointment of
J. C. Brown as Provincial Secretary. Brown was defeated in a
by-election, and on February 26, 1902, Dunsmuir appointed
E. G. Prior to the portfolio relinquished by McBride. In 1902
McBride was elected president of the Liberal-Conservative Union
of British Columbia and took his seat with the Opposition.
Prior struggled on for some months but was faced by a
strong and determined Opposition. On May 27, 1903, the Hon.
W. W. B. McInnes, Provincial Secretary, resigned in " order," as
he explained, " to facilitate an appeal to the country on party
lines."37 Prior was accused in the House of having been
involved in the granting of certain contracts to a firm with which
he was associated. On May 28 he asked the House to vote supplies necessary until a new Legislature could be elected. This
request was refused by a vote of 19 to 16, and on June 1, 1903,
the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Henri Joly de Lotbiniere, dismissed
the Prior ministry and called upon Richard McBride to form a
new administration. A new day had dawned in. British
From this long and intricate story of Federal parties and
group government in British Columbia certain facts would seem
to emerge. The first is obvious. There is no clear relationship
between the Federal parties and the political groups between
1871 and 1903, but the Federal parties were not without their
influence in the local politics of the Pacific Province. The tendency was for the British Columbian M.P.'s in Ottawa to support
the party in power, and since the Conservatives were in power
from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1896, British Columbia
usually returned Conservatives to Ottawa. From 1874 to 1876
the British Columbian M.P.'s gave a more or less grudging support to the Liberals, but from 1876 to 1878 were adversely
influenced by the policy of the Mackenzie administration regarding the carrying-out of the Terms of Union.    After 1896 there
(37) Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1903, p. 369. 1948 Federal Parties and Provincial Groups. 169
was a Liberal majority from British Columbia supporting
Laurier. Neither of the important political groups in British
Columbia—the De Cosmos-Walkem-Beaven group or the Smithe-
Robson-Davie-Turner group—ever made a definite alliance with
any Federal party, although in the 1880's and early 1890's the
large majority of the members of the local Legislature was
Dr. Edith Dobie has noted " an aristocratic conservative
tendency " in the political life of British Columbia. She connects this with the strength of Anglicanism, which increased
from 1881 to 1901 from about one-sixth to one-fourth of the
population. But the number of Presbyterians had grown during
that period from one-twelfth to one-fifth of the population.88
No study has yet been made of the connection between politics
and religion in British Columbia. Unfortunately the Canadian
Parliamentary Companion did not usually list the religious
affiliations of the members of the Legislatures of British Columbia. Religion was no doubt a factor, but as yet we do not know
how great a factor.
Probably the reason why Federal parties affected local
politics in British Columbia so little between 1871 and 1903 was
the isolation of the Province from the rest of Canada. It was a
little world of its own beyond the Rockies. Ottawa was far
away and, as has been pointed out before, British Columbia only
slowly became Canadian. Victoria was the political centre, and
the local legislators who met there were much more interested
in their small political arena than they were in Federal politics.
The balance of political power in Canada remained in Ontario
and Quebec. British Columbians had much to do in their own
Province and, with certain notable exceptions, they preferred
the local to the Federal field.
Walter N. Sage.
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.
(38)  Edith Dobie, loc. cit, p. 236.
Victoria Section.
Mr. G. H. Blanchet was the speaker at the February meeting of the
Section, held in the Provincial Library on Thursday, February 26, with over
fifty members present. For many years Mr. Blanchet served with the
Dominion Topographical Surveys, particularly in the Northwest Territories
and latterly was engaged in the location of the route for the Canol project.
He was consequently eminently suited for the task of speaking on Exploration and Pioneering in Canada's Northland.
At the outset Mr. Blanchet pointed out that the historic approach to the
North has been from the east and by water, and the consequence has been a
tendency to ignore the possibility of a western outlet. The earlier explorers,
such as Peter Pond, were mentioned in passing, but the speaker's attention
was centred on events since the Klondike rush, for the discovery of gold in
the Yukon in 1897 was the first occasion on which other resources of the
Far North than fur came into prominence. The decade 1898-1908 witnessed
the era of prairie settlement and railroad construction, and as a result the
old Churchill brigade gave way to the Athabasca brigade. It also marked
the end of man-powered transportation—thereafter the voyageur played an
insignificant role. The decade of 1908-18 found prairie settlement reaching
a peak, and gradually settlers sought out the prairie patches in the forest
belt of the North, as, for example, the Peace River District. Plans for
development were impeded by the outbreak of World War I.
The boom decade, 1918-28, witnessed great mining activity. Two legacies
of the war — the aeroplane and the tractor — gave promise of improved
transport, but fell short of expectations. Particular attention was paid to
the McAlpine rescue expeditions, which proved that aeroplanes could go
almost anywhere in the North. In the decade of depression, 1928-38, the
North made material contributions to the Canadian economy, for many
important discoveries were made, including gold and copper, as well as
Gilbert Labine's discovery of pitchblende on Great Bear Lake. The last
decade saw still further progress. The legacies of World War II—improved
aeroplanes and the bulldozer—proved to be of undoubted worth. The North
became a vital part of Canadian and American defence plans, and future
development was greatly enhanced by the establishment of regular air-
flight routes. In addition to the lecture, Mr. Blanchet showed a series of
slides depicting conditions in the North. The appreciation of the meeting
was tendered the speaker by Mr. H. C Gilliland.
The annual commemoration of Blanshard Day, March 11, took the form
of " open house " in the Provincial Archives.    A programme of unusual
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 2.
171 172 Notes and Comments. April
interest and variety was presented to over 100 members and guests. The
chairman, Mr. G. H. Stevens, called upon the Provincial Librarian and
Archivist, Mr. Willard E. Ireland, who read a short paper on the career of
Richard Blanshard, the first governor of a British colony in the Pacific
Northwest, stressing the significance of the short and somewhat turbulent
governorship, as well as giving an insight into the character of the Governor.
This was followed by a series of slides depicting scenes on Vancouver Island
at the time of Governor Blanshard's arrival and subsequent developments
down to the 1880's. Miss Madge Wolfenden, Assistant Archivist, provided
the running commentary, and Mr. David Holden operated the projector.
At the conclusion of the slides, there followed a display of period gowns
of the 1870's and 1880's from the collection in the Provincial Archives.
These presented a most effective scene as the models, members of the staff
of the Provincial Library and Archives, swept across the main rotunda of
the Provincial Library to curtsey before the assembled audience. The
opportunity was then afforded to visit the Provincial Archives, where special
exhibits had been arranged. Not only were recent acquisitions featured,
but an effort was made to demonstrate the uses to which the material in the
Provincial Archives is put. Even a cursory examination of the display
made it obvious that the Provincial Archives is not merely a repository of
historical relics and documents, but rather that it is the source from which
many valuable and interesting studies have been produced.
Vancouver Section.
The first meeting of the 1948 season was held on Tuesday, January 20,
in the Hotel Grosvenor, when Mr. George B. White, immediate Past President, read a paper on The Development of the Eastern Fraser Valley. As
few members of the Section had had the opportunity of hearing this paper
as presented to the annual meeting of the association in Victoria, its repetition was most welcome. Mr. White has an intimate knowledge of the
development of this part of British Columbia, as was evidenced by the
address which will appear in a forthcoming issue of this Quarterly.
The Development of the Okanagan was the subject of an address before
this Section by Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, of the Department of History,
University of British Columbia, on Tuesday, February 24, in the Hotel
Grosvenor. Although David Thompson, in 1811, referred to the wooded
hills of the Okanagan, it was not until 1859, with the coming of the Oblates
under Father Pandosy, that white settlers began to filter into the valley.
Until then it had served merely as a route for the fur-traders, and as there
were no fur-bearing animals, no posts or forts had been built. With Father
Pandosy came French settlers, some from Quebec and others from France.
The Oblates, to whom goes the credit of discovering the potentialities of the
valley, established on Mission Creek the first church and the first school in
the Okanagan.
In 1860 minor gold-rushes on Rock Creek and later on Mission and
Cherry Creeks attracted adventurers, who, disappointed in mining, turned
to farming.    Thus mining was only important as a magnet that attracted 1948 Notes and Comments. 173
some hundreds of persons who in many cases became permanent settlers.
The failure of the Americans to supply adequately the Cariboo beef market
during the gold-rush led to the development of the great stock-raising
industry which flourished in the Okanagan until 1890. These were the
thirty most colourful years in the history of the valley. The large stock-
raisers—such as Thomas Ellis, an Irishman who came to the valley in 1863;
George Simpson, who settled near the present site of Kelowna in 1869;
Judge J. C. Haynes; and Cornelius O'Keefe, to mention only four—possessed
vast ranches with thousands of head of cattle. These they drove as far as
the Kootenay mines and later down to New Westminster.
Flourishing contemporaneously with the cattle-ranches were the wheat-
farm lands. Alexander Fortune, who had journeyed overland in 1862, was
the first to grow wheat on his land, 3 miles north of Enderby. His namesake had the first grist-mill in Kamloops, and later the mill established at
Enderby did a big business and was an early experiment in co-operation.
After 1892, prairie competition made wheat-growing unprofitable—the heyday for stock-raising and wheat-growing was over and a new era opened
for the Okanagan. More settlers were coming in, and the large ranches
were rather reluctantly subdivided by their owners into orchard-plots of
20 to 40 acres. Land companies flourished; prominent among them was
the Okanagan Land and Development Co., Ltd. Towns were incorporated—
Vernon in 1892, Kelowna in the same year. Lord Aberdeen bought the
famous Coldstream Ranch, persuaded into this venture by the enthusiasm
of a fellow Scot, G. G. Mackay, the founder of the Vernon News.
The turn of the century witnessed the arrival of a unique type of settler
from the Old Country that opened a new phase in community life that was
to last until the First World War. This new settler had come to the
Okanagan, not to make a living, but to enjoy life. He brought comfortable
wealth and social standing; frequently he was a retired military officer.
He desired to lead the life of an English country gentleman, and he imported
workers and material from the homeland to build his well-appointed home.
He had his country club, the elaborate parties, his class distinctions. This
era ended in 1914, and after 1918 came soldier settlers.
About 1925 the picture changed again with the coming of the Ukrainians.
Their cheap frame houses, the Greek architecture of their churches, their
Russian dances, indeed, all phases of their community life are in striking
contrast with all that the British settlers had introduced. Other racial
groups came on the scene, conspicuously the Japanese. Religious bodies
such as the Seventh-day Adventists formed their communities. The hitherto
almost completely homogeneous Okanagan became a medley of races and
In closing, Dr. Ormsby paid tribute to Dr. F. W. Andrew, the author of
The History of Summerland, and to the late Leonard Norris, founder of the
Okanagan Historical Society. The latter came to the valley in 1882, and in
1925 began to collect the historical data of the valley. Future historians of
the Okanagan will always be indebted to the industry with which he pursued
his natural, albeit untutored, flair for historical research. 174 Notes and Comments. April
The annual meeting of the Kamloops Museum Association was held on
Friday, January 16, with the President, Mr. Burt R. Campbell, in the chair.
Reports on the year's activity were received and indicated continued interest
in the work of the Association. The museum is now open two evenings a
week—Wednesday and Saturday—and during 1947 more than 1,200 visitors
signed the register. Further progress has been made in cataloguing the
picture collection, and the first volume of the index has now been typed.
Much credit for this undertaking is due to the untiring efforts of Mr.
Campbell. The reprinting of the photographic collection by the Provincial
Archives is continuing; to date nearly 850 photographs have been reproduced. During the year a collection of 500 negatives was presented to the
museum by Mr. J. A. S. Carment, of Vancouver. Civic interest in the work
of the association was again recognized in tangible form by a grant of $350
from the City Council. At the moment the most pressing need is additional
accommodation for the growing collection. Larger and more permanent
quarters are required, but in the meantime reallocation of exhibits is to be
undertaken and new displays in the natural history branch are to be opened
in the spring.    The following officers were elected for the year:—
President   -------    Burt R. Campbell.
Vice-President -       -       -       -       -       -    J. J. Morse.
Secretary-Treasurer   -----   Miss Melva Dwyer.
Executive Committee—
T. S. Keyes. M. L. Wade.
R. B. A. Cragg. J. E. Fitzwater.
Alderman W. J. Moffatt.
Plans are well advanced for the reorganization of the Okanagan Historical Society on a regional basis. Heretofore it has acted as a single body,
holding annual meetings in the spring. Now, in an effort to secure the more
effective co-operation from the various sections of the valley, branches have
been organized.
The Penticton Branch was organized at a meeting held on February 19
at the home of Capt. J. B. Weeks.    The following executive was elected:—
President Mrs. R. B. White.
Secretary R. J. McDougall.
H. Cochrane. R. G. Duncan.
W. T. Leslie.
The Kelowna Branch was organized at a meeting held in the Royal Anne
Hotel on February 26, when the following executive was elected:—
President F. M. Buckland.
Vice-President J. B. Knowles.
Secretary-Treasurer L. L. Kerry. 1948 Notes and Comments. 175
W. R. Powley. E. M. Carruthers.
H. C. S. Collett. Mrs. D. Gellatly.
It is hoped that branches will shortly be organized elsewhere in the
valley. The parent organization will co-ordinate the work of the branches
and will hold its annual meeting in May. It is hoped that a system of yearly
membership fees will permit the establishment of a printing fund. The
Twelfth Report is in preparation, with Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, of the
Department of History of the University of British Columbia, as editor-in-
The following extract from the letter of R. S. Mills, vicar of Petersham
Church, as published in Petersham Leaflet, January, 1948, will be of interest
to members of the British Columbia Historical Association:—
" To begin the first issue of the Leaflet for 1948 I have a pleasant piece
of news to record. Some of our good friends in British Columbia have
heard of our efforts to restore our Parish Church and as a mark of their
sympathy the Historical Association of British Columbia has sent me a
donation of £20 towards the Restoration Fund. I thought that an appropriate recognition of this kindly act would be to dispatch in return a copy of
the late Mr. C. D. Warren's History of our Church, and this I have done—
as I reminded you lately on May 18th of this year falls the 150th anniversary
of Captain Vancouver's burial in our churchyard. I have recently been in
correspondence with the Hon. W. A. McAdam, the Agent-General of British
Columbia, about the celebrations which are to mark this anniversary."
Harry D. Barnes is a pioneer resident of Hedley, B.C. He came to this
Province in 1890, and after a number of years spent in prospecting in the
Boundary country, he settled in the Similkameen in 1900. For over twenty-
five years he was engaged in various capacities with the Daly Reduction
Company and later the Hedley Gold Mining Company.
Patricia M. Johnson, M.A., is a teacher at the Ladner Junior-Senior High
School, Ladner, B.C.
Walter N. Sage, Ph.D., is head of the Department of History, University
of British Columbia, and a frequent contributor to this and other historical
W. Kaye Lamb, Ph.D., formerly Provincial Librarian and Archivist, is
now librarian of file University of British Columbia.
Madge Wolfenden is a Past President of the British Columbia Historical
Association and the Assistant Provincial Archivist.
Dorothy Crighton is a member of the staff of the Public Library
Commission, Victoria, B.C. THE NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF.
Esquimalt—" Place of Shoaling Waters."   By Leigh Burpee Robinson, with
sketches by B. Digby Robinson. Victoria: Quality Press, 1947. Pp. 128.
111.    $1.50.
This attractive and readable little book devotes a few introductory pages
to the Spaniards who discovered Esquimalt Harbour but did nothing beyond
paying it a few visits in 1790-92, and then leaps on half a century to the
more eventful days of the fur-traders and the Crown Colony of Vancouver
Island. Most of it is devoted to the years between 1842 and 1870—a period
of twenty-eight years that witnessed a transformation that, even in retrospect, still seems well nigh incredible. For in 1842 Esquimalt was still in
the midst of a complete wilderness, and James Douglas spent the summer
exploring the vicinity in search of a site for the trading-post that he decided
finally should be built on the shores of what is now Victoria Harbour. In
1870, by contrast, Victoria was a substantial city, British Columbia was
within a year of becoming a full-fledged Province of the new Dominion of
Canada, and the Royal Navy's celebrated Flying Squadron found a firmly
established naval base awaiting it at Esquimalt when it dropped anchor
Mrs. Robinson has contrived to make her narrative reasonably complete
without loading it down with overly familiar material, and it reads with a
freshness that is most welcome. Particular interest attaches to her account
of the farms established in Esquimalt by the Puget Sound Agricultural
Company in the early fifties. Of these, only Craigflower is now at all well
remembered, and the present description is much the best available in print.
The chapters on naval history include notes on such little-known subjects
as the history of St. Paul's Church and the adventures of the midget-sized
gunboats that were stationed at Esquimalt from time to time.
Esquimalt has enjoyed such a brisk sale that a second edition is already
in prospect, and a number of small errors should be corrected before the
book is reissued. Fort Nisqually was situated some distance from Tacoma,
and not on the site of that city, as a reference on page 26 implies; the word
gift should be substituted for potlach on page 33; the name of the barque
Norman Morison is wrongly spelled on pages 67 and 68; the Puget Sound
Agricultural Company did not cease to exist in the fifties, as stated on page
73; the steamer Eliza Anderson was never owned by the Hudson's Bay
Company (p. 93); and strikes had occurred in British Columbia long before
1877 (p. 114). The miners at Fort Rupert gave trouble in the fall of 1849,
and actually downed tools more than once in the spring of 1850.
One further suggestion. A map would be a most valuable addition to
the book. Indeed, two maps could be added to advantage, placed on opposite
pages for purposes of comparison. One of these should indicate the boundaries of the farms of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, and perhaps
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 2.
• 177 178 The Northwest Bookshelf. April
the early naval properties;  the other should show the Esquimalt of to-day
in outline.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Vancouver, B.C.
Romantic Vancouver Island;   Victoria, Yesterday and Today.    By Dorothy
Abraham.    Victoria:   Acme Press, 1947.    Pp. 118.    111.    $1.
Mrs. Abraham's attractive booklet will be read with interest by lovers
of Vancouver Island and visitors who wish to learn something of the historical background and development of British Columbia's largest island. In
reading the booklet, it is evident that the author, who is comparatively a
newcomer to the locality, loves Vancouver Island as her adopted home. She
has fallen under the spell of the late David W. Higgins, some of whose
romantic stories she reproduces, and she has also drawn largely on Edgar
Fawcett's Reminiscences of Old Victoria for much of her information
relating to the pioneer period.
Her outline sketches of the history of Victoria and the Island will serve
as an invitation to a further pursuit of historic fact and episode, and should
encourage her readers to delve deeper into British Columbia history and to
interest themselves in the history of their own particular district. Mrs.
Abraham's descriptions of Victoria and the countryside are all vivid enough
to make the tourist wish to investigate the scenic points of interest up and
down Vancouver Island, and she has succeeded in telling just enough of the
history and local attractions to make each place stand out from its neighbour.
Romantic Vancouver Island is well provided with good illustrations, and
the arresting red cover of the booklet with its totem design, drawn by Bettie
Dunnell, is a very pleasing feature. To the tourist, for whom it is primarily
written, it should have a strong appeal and at the same time serve as a
lasting reminder of a sojourn in these parts. From a purely critical point
of view it is regrettable that Mrs. Abraham has confused old Fort Rupert
with modern Prince Rupert; misspelled a number of proper names such as
Mackenzie, Thomson, Heywood, Lugrin, Galiano, to mention but a few; and
allowed a number of typographical errors to pass, which, however, can be
rectified when a new issue is being prepared.
The fact of being able to find regional histories such as Romantic Vancouver Island available in our book-stores is an indication that an intelligent
interest is being taken in British Columbia history, and the wish of this
reviewer is that Mrs. Abraham's effort may serve as an inspiration to others
to write about their own particular localities.
Madge Wolfenden.
Victoria, B.C.
Fort Langley:   Outpost of Empire.    By B. A. McKelvie.    The Vancouver
Daily Province, 1947.    Pp. ix, 98.    111.    [Printed for private distribu1-
Once again the Vancouver Daily Province is to be congratulated on its
publication of yet another volume dealing with the early history of British 1948 The Northwest Bookshelf. 179
Columbia. It is, however, regrettable that the distribution of Fort Langley
will necessarily be restricted, for a book of this calibre should be more
widely available. Indeed, it should be in the library of every school in the
Mr. McKelvie has been for years an enthusiastic exponent of local history
and, in many ways, this is his finest contribution. It is obvious that he
has enjoyed telling the story of Fort Langley—the first Hudson's Bay
Company's post to be established on the lower mainland of what eventually
became British Columbia. It is a story well worth telling, for the origins
of much of the subsequent economic and political development of this
Province can be traced to the old post established on the Fraser River in
The events leading to the establishment of Fort Langley are well chronicled. Mr. McKelvie has drawn together much of the Indian lore relating
to the delta of the Fraser River and has done a great service in the identification of old Indian place-names. To some readers, perhaps, it will be odd
that the story of Fort Langley has its beginning on the Columbia River, but
such is the case, and in a lucid manner the rivalry between the Nor'Westers
and the Astorians is clearly set forth. The disaster to the Tonquin and the
eventful visit of Capt. William Black in H.M.S. Racoon have their place in
the narrative, as does the statesmanship of George Simpson in his prolonged
search for a new headquarters for the Hudson's Bay Company in the Pacific
Whenever possible the author has let the participants in events speak for
themselves through their diaries and letters. This is particularly well done
in the account of the exploratory expedition undertaken by Chief Factor
James McMillan in 1824, as well as in the actual building of the post in 1827
and the subsequent administration of James Murray Yale. The visit of the
Cadboro in 1827 was of unusual significance, for it marked the completion
of the work of discovery commenced in 1808 by Simon Fraser.
Company men lived dangerously in those days, for inter-tribal quarrels
were numerous and a constant threat. Stern measures, like those meted out
to the Clallams and Yucultas, were unfortunately necessary. Ample factual
information is given regarding the increasing activity at Fort Langley.
The beginnings of agriculture and salmon-curing are recorded. The removal
to a new site in 1839 and the disastrous fire the following year complicated
the life of the Company's servants in this " outpost of empire." In later
years James Murray Yale was the guiding spirit, and the account of his
administration adds greatly to our appreciation of this pioneer. As other
posts were developed, one can sense his growing jealousy of the position his
post should occupy.
The advent of the gold-seekers, and with them the replacement of Company by Colonial rule, gave Fort Langley its last brief moment of glory, for
it was here on November 19, 1858, that the mainland colony of British
Columbia was born amidst all the pomp that the limited facilities could
afford. The town of Derby, on the site of the original fort, envisaged for
itself a bright future, but events decreed otherwise and before long New
Westminster had put an end to its hopes. 180 The Northwest Bookshelf. April
A beautiful coloured frontispiece, the work of George H. Southwell,
and two excellent maps add greatly to the appeal of this book, which is,
throughout, an admirable production. Typographical errors are few; it is
unfortunate that the date on the caption of the frontispiece reads 1885
instead of 1858 and that on page 55 1849 is given as the date of Yale's letter
instead of 1840. A series of notes and an excellent bibliography increase
the usefulness of this volume. Fort Langley contains a great mass of
factual information, but it is, at all times, a thoroughly readable publication.
Willard E. Ireland.
Victoria, B.C.
The Letters of Letitia Hargrave. Edited, with introduction and notes, by
Margaret Arnett MacLeod. Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1947.
Pp. cliv, 310.    111.
Mrs. MacLeod, of Winnipeg, a member of the Council of the Champlain
Society, has edited with great care The Letters of Letitia Hargrave. Her
long introduction to the volume throws a flood of light on life in the fur
trade, and especially on life at York Factory, during the greatest days of
the Hudson's Bay Company.
James Hargrave, a Scot from Hawick, Roxburghshire, at the age of 22,
entered the service of the North West Company in 1820. The next year,
with the other Nor'Westers, he found himself a Hudson's Bay man. In 1833
he became a chief trader and was placed in charge of York Factory, the
depot on Hudson Bay. By this time Hargrave had made one firm resolve:
he would marry a white woman. He had seen too much of the so-called
" country marriages." One of his friends was William Mactavish, from
Kilchrist House, near Campbeltown, Argyllshire. When Hargrave returned
to Scotland, he visited Kilchrist House and promptly fell in love with
Letitia Mactavish, the eldest daughter of Sheriff Dugald Mactavish and his
wife, nee Letitia Lockhart. An unforseen change of plans due to an unex-.
pected order to return to York Factory earlier than he had anticipated
prevented a formal engagement. Letters were, however, exchanged between
Hargrave and the Mactavishes, and arrangements were made for the young
people to be married when Hargrave got his next furlough. This came in
1839 and the marriage took place at Kilchrist House on January 8,1840. In
June the bride and groom sailed on the Prince Rupert, the Hudson's Bay
Company's ship, and arrived at York Factory in August.
York Factory was to be Letitia's home from 1840 to 1851. There her
children were born, and she enjoyed the comforts and endured the inconveniences of fur-trading life. York Factory has never been a beautiful
place, nor is its climate particularly salubrious, not even to a Scot from
Argyllshire. But it was one of the great centres of the fur trade, and in
the busy summer, especially when the boat was there, all sorts of notables
came and went. Sir George and Lady Simpson and the Duncan Finlaysons
were close friends of the Hargraves. But Letitia was not quite so certain at
first of Mrs. Gladman, who was " country born," although her husband was
a commissioned officer of the Company.   Young Robert Ballantyne arrived 1948 The Northwest Bookshelf. 181
in 1841. He soon proved himself to be a greater success as an author than
as a fur-trader. Dr. W. F. Tolmie, " a young man from the Columbia," was
also at York Factory in 1841 en route to England. Letitia Hargrave praised
him for his fine character and his devotion to duty. Dr. J. S. Helmcken was
surgeon on the Prince Rupert in 1847 when the Hargraves were returning
from a furlough in Scotland. Helmcken was not impressed with York
Factory: " It was and is a miserable place, apparently worthless." There
are also references in Letitia Hargrave's letters to Dr. John McLoughlin
and to James Douglas, the " Dombey" of the fur-trade. From certain
references to Douglas in the letters it seems very possible that he was, after
all, born in the British West Indies, perhaps in British Guiana.
Letitia's letters are what the Romans would have termed "familiar,"
addressed to members of the family. Most of them are to her parents and
her sisters. Since they are family letters, not intended for publication,
they are extremely frank. From them one learns much of the actual day-
by-day life in the fur trade. There are many enlightening passages and
not a little gossip. Lady Simpson was a close friend of Letitia's, but
Letitia stood rather in awe of Sir George. The curious will find in the
letters some interesting details regarding Sir George's life. Lady Simpson's
lot does not seem to have been particularly happy.
From the letters we glean considerable fur-trading information. At first
Letitia failed to understand the difference between the regular income of a
chief trader and the dividends which he received as the furs were sold.
These dividends amounted to £20 or £25, but the average annual income was
from £400 to £450. Letitia suspected that the lower figure was more accurate (p. 115). She also contrasts the rations at Norway House, which were
" all fish," with those at York Factory, where each man had " a pound of
flour a day, pease, oatmeal, pork, pemmican, salt goose or plover, fresh
partridges in winter or 9 months a year besides Vz a pint of rum a week."
There is also much interesting information regarding the missionaries,
and especially Rev. James and Mrs. Evans. The Hargraves were staunch
Presbyterians, and although they at times disapproved of the Evanses, who
were Methodists, they liked the Anglicans still less. The Roman Catholic
priests were more successful, because, apparently, they did not attempt to
take part in the politics of the fur trade. An interesting sidelight on the
religious life of the period was the outbreak of emotionalism among the
Indians. In 1842 and 1843 a sort of religious frenzy occurred. A certain
Indian, named Abbis Shabbish, in 1843 caused trouble at York Factory, but
Hargrave took a strong stand and preserved order.
In 1851 Chief Factor Hargrave was transferred to Sault Ste. Marie.
His health was bad, and Letitia and the family greatly needed a change.
Lady Simpson died in 1853, and Letitia felt the loss very deeply. In 1854
Letitia was stricken with cholera and died on September 18, after a few
days' illness. Her husband, who remarried in 1856, retired from the fur
trade in 1859 and settled in Brockville, Ontario. His death, at the age of
67, occurred on May 16, 1865. Letitia's brother, William Mactavish, of
Red River, was also in very poor health, a fact which was to assume a 182 The Northwest Bookshelf. April
certain historical importance in the stirring times of 1869-70 when the
Hudson's Bay Company's territories were being transferred to Canada.
It is well that it was a woman who has edited these letters of a fur-
trader's wife. Mrs. MacLeod has done her work well. There is a feminine
touch throughout the whole volume. The concluding paragraph of the
introduction illustrates this so clearly that it deserves to be quoted:—
The house in which Letitia had lived at York, with her sitting-room,
the mess, and the nursery, the place she had made an oasis in that crude
country, remained much as she left it, and was used as the chief officer's
residence until 1934, when it was demolished. One of the pines that Letitia
and the children had treasured in the garden grew until it towered high
above the big depot, when, after a long life, it died. Letitia's descendants
still cherish a few mementos of her; the little New Testament that lay on
her table, and the rocking-chair in which she died.
„ „ Walter N. Sage.
Vancouver, B.C.
Ballads of B.C. Words by Dr. John Murray Gibbon, music arrangements
by Sir Ernest MacMillan. Toronto: Gordon V. Thompson, Limited,
1947.   75 cents.
Carrying out the modern trend of educational leaders for the integration
of music and poetry with such subjects as history and geography, Dr.
Gibbon, an authority on the folk-songs of Canada, has written nine ballads
to well-known tunes. The piano accompaniments are arranged by Sir
Ernest MacMillan.
Dr. Gibbon is happiest in his ballads set to the Irish air " The Lame
Yellow Beggar," which he has entitled " Song of the Columbia River," and
the " Song of the Okanagan " set to the Scottish "Afton Water." " Down
Vancouver Way" to the tune " Kennst du das Land?" is already fairly
well known, as it appeared in an earlier collection by these collaborators,
Northland Songs, No. 2. As a resident of Vancouver Island, may this
reviewer point out that skylarks do not " sing down Vancouver way " but
only on Vancouver Island, or does poetic licence entitle a bird to fly wherever
the ballad-writer sees fit?
At a lecture-recital of his work with folk-ballads some time ago, Dr.
Gibbon expressed his opinion that the German language would be for many
years in disrepute owing to the behaviour of that country. Music, on the
other hand, is a universal language and it is only fitting that the lieder of
Schubert, for instance, should have English words in order that the English-
speaking world might better understand and take greater pleasure in the
music. " Song of Victoria " to Schubert's " Des Mullers Blumen " is an
illustration of this point of view.
All nine ballads deal with simple things and range geographically from
Vancouver Island to the Columbia River and from the Cariboo goldfields to
the Yoho Valley.    This collection is of considerable interest and the folio
is illustrated with good reproductions of line drawing depicting the scenery
of the ballad's locale.
„ „ Dorothy Crighton.
Victoria, B.C. 1948 The Northwest Bookshelf. 183
Prize Winning Essays. Armitage Competition in Oregon Pioneer History.
Reed College. [Reprinted from Reed College Bulletin, Portland, Oregon,
In 1941 a competition for " essays based on the study of pioneer history
in the Oregon country " was inaugurated at Reed College, Portland, Oregon,
through the kindness of Mr. S. C. Armitage. Subsequently provision was
made for the publication of the prize-winning essays in both undergraduate
and graduate divisions. Now the essays for the period 1942-46 have been
gathered together in a single volume. In general it can be said that the
essays are a credit to Reed College and give ample evidence of the high
scholastic standards maintained at that institution. The great variety of
the subjects dealt with gives some idea of the complex conditions existing in
Oregon even in pioneer days.
Three essays of the competition for 1941-42 were printed. Miss Helen
Bowers, drawing largely from the John McLoughlin Vancouver Letterbook,
1829-32, owned by Reed College, has an excellent study on the " Trade and
Administrative Policies and Practices of McLoughlin." The subsequent
publication of the series of McLoughlin Fort Vancouver Letters, 1825-46,
by the Hudson's Bay Records Society does not invalidate many of the
assumptions made in this essay. Two Oregon pioneers are the subject of
the remaining two essays: " Jesse Applegate, His Attitude Toward the
Oregon Indians," and " Philip Foster, Pioneer Oregon Entrepreneur." The
latter is particularly interesting for the light it sheds on early business
An evaluation of the political contribution of Jesse Applegate is
attempted in the first of the two essays printed for the competition of
1942—43, and much interesting new material on one of the first " boosters "
of the Pacific Northwest is to be found in "Asa Shinn Mercer, Northwest
Publicity Agent."
" Nativism in Oregon " is a detailed examination of the extension into
Oregon of the " No-Popery Crusade" which swept the Eastern United
States in the late 1830's. Protestant missionaries in Oregon looked askance
at the influence their Roman Catholic confreres exercised over the Indian
population, and the Whitman massacre marked the crisis in the growing
conflict. The effect of John McLoughlin's conversion to Catholicism upon
the Oregon City land controversy is also examined. The second essay in the
1943-44 series, entitled " The Myth of Pioneer Hardships on the Oregon
Trail," is a re-examination of the immigrant diaries of 1836-53 to discover
" whether or not the rigors of this journey across the plains " were as severe
as later orators were wont to maintain. As early as 1881, Harvey Scott,
editor of the Portland Morning Oregonian, had warned that the tendency
towards " mythological narration " was such that the pioneer stories and
traditions should " be brought under the sober judgment of history." The
conclusion reached by Miss Jean Webster is that Scott's warning was well
Miss Marie Lazenby's essay " Down-Easters Out West" is one of the
most ambitious of the series, for it is an attempt to show " that much of 184 The Northwest Bookshelf.
the pioneer history of Oregon was shaped by the militancy of New England's
ministers and the acquisitiveness of her merchants "—that, in effect, Turner's frontier thesis breaks down in Oregon. That the New Englanders
were numerically strong is readily demonstrable, and by using W. S. Ladd,
S. H. Marsh, and Rev. Thomas L. Eliot as prototypes, Miss Lazenby builds
a convincing case. Of almost equal importance is "A Study of the Underlying Causes of the Depression of 1854 " which undertakes to evaluate the
implications of the discoveries of gold in Southern Oregon in 1851 upon the
economy of the territory. The resulting overimportation of staple commodities in anticipation of large-scale immigration to the newly discovered
goldfields and the general dependence of the economy of Oregon on conditions in neighbouring California are put forward as the principal causes
of the depression. This is an excellent study in economic history, and it is
to be hoped that similar studies for other parts of the Northwest will be
undertaken. The last essay in the series is a suggested revision of the part
played by William Gilpin in the political history of Oregon.
Further publications in this series will be looked forward to with considerable interest by students of Pacific Northwest history.
Willard E. Ireland.
Victoria, B.C.
Printed by Don McDiahmid, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
650-248-8878 We
Organized October 31st, 1922.
His Honour Charles A. Banks, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Hon. W. T. Straith     ...       - Honorary President.
Willard E. Ireland - President.
George B. White ----- Past President.
Margaret Ormsby    - 1st Vice-President.
G. H. Stevens     ----- 2nd Vice-President.
Madge Wolfenden   ---       - Honorary Secretary.
J. K. Nesbitt       ----- Honorary Treasurer.
Helen R. Boutilier.        Burt R. Campbell. Mubdxl R. Cree.
John Goodfellow. W. Kaye Lamb. B. A. McKelvie.
W. N. Sage.
Willard E. Ireland G. H. Stevens L. S. Grant
(Editor, Quarterly). (Victoria Section). (Vancouver Section).
To encourage historical research and stimulate public interest in history;
to promote the preservation and marking of historic sites, buildings, relics,
natural features, and other objects and places of historical interest, and to
publish historical sketches, studies, and documents.
Ordinary members pay a fee of $2 annually in advance. The fiscal year
commences on the first day of January. All members in good standing
receive the British Columbia Historical Quarterly without further charge.
Correspondence and fees may be addressed to the Provincial Archives,
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.


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