Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Railway and Chinese Immigration - STUDY THIS FOR THE EXAM!!!

Canadian Railroad Trilogy, ©1967 by Gordon Lightfoot  

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real 
But time has no beginnings and the history has no bounds
As to this verdant country they came from all around
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
Built the mines, mills and the factories for the good of us all
And when the young man's fancy was turnin' to the spring
The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring
Their minds were overflowing with the visions of their day
And many a fortune lost and won and many a debt to pay
For they looked in the future and what did they see
They saw an iron road running from the sea to the sea
Bringing the goods to a young growing land
All up from the seaports and into their hands
Look away said they across this mighty land
From the eastern shore to the western strand
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open her heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We're gonna lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open her heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow
Get on our way 'cause we're moving too slow
Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declining
The stars they come stealing at the close of the day
Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping
Beyond the dark ocean in a place far away 
We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun
Living on stew and drinking bad whiskey
Bending our backs til the long days are done
We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun
Laying down track and building the bridges
Bending our old backs til the railroad is done 
So over the mountains and over the plains
Into the muskeg and into the rain
Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
Swinging our hammers and drawing our pay
Layin' 'em in and tying them down
Away to the bunkhouse and into the town
A dollar a day and a place for my head
A drink to the living, a toast to the dead
Oh the song of the future has been sung
All the battles have been won
On the mountain tops we stand
All the world at our command
We have opened up her soil
With our teardrops and our toil 
For there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
And many are the dead men too silent to be real

Bridge over Mountain Creek, British Columbia, 1880s
The Railway to British Columbia

  • John A. Macdonald had promised British Columbians that he would extend the trans-continental railway to BC however he had no idea how much it would cost.
  • The BC interior had not been well explored or mapped so no one knew the best place to put the railway track.
  • By the early 1870s there were only two major population centres that were large enough to connect with a railway: lower VI and New Westminster.
  • In order to buy time to get financing to build the railway, the federal government sent out surveyors.
  • There was considerable political pressure from Vancouver Island and from New Westminster to follow differing routes.
  • Alexander Mackenzie, now prime minister, did not want to build the railway at all.
  • At one point, there were as many as 21 routes being considered.
  • Eventually the CPR crossed the Rockies at Kicking Horse Pass, travelled through Kamloops, Boston Bar, Yale, and to New Westminster.
  • Andrew Onderdonk, a New York engineer, was given the contract to build the portion of the railway from Port Moody to Eagle Pass, near Revelstoke, British Columbia.
  • The land in this area was mountainous, making the work difficult and dangerous.
  • The most dangerous part of the cross-Canada railway was the section in British Columbia. Mountains had to be crossed and wooden trestle bridges had to be built to span great rivers.
  • Stoney Creek Bridge, at 325 feet, was the highest single-span bridge on the Canadian Pacific Railway line. Originally made of timber in 1893, it was replaced by a steel structure in 1894.
  • "The Mountain Creek trestle looked so fragile that one engineer refused to drive his engine over it. Van Horne said that he would drive the engine across himself. The engineer said, 'If you ain't afraid of getting killed Mr. Van Horne, with all your money, I ain't afraid either.' Van Horne replied, 'We'll have a double funeral -- at my expense of course.' The engine passed safely over the bridge."
    Flashback Canada, by J. Bradley Cruxton. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, ©2000, p. 161
 The Chinese in British Columbia
Newspaper article, "No Chinese Wanted Here," from the Whitehorse Star, June 28, 1902
Caricature, "The Heathen Chinee in British Columbia" from the Canadian Illustrated News, April 26, 1879
  • The first Chinese immigrants to North America went to California for the gold rush in the 1850s.
  • A few years later, thousands came to BC for the Cariboo gold rush.
  • Chinese immigrants all over North America faced prejudice and discrimination because of their different dress, language, culture, religion, and race.
  • The Chinese took over mine claims that had been abandoned and worked them.  
  • By 1883 they made up 75% of gold miners and were instrumental in building the frontier economy.
  • They opened stores and restaurants in mining towns and started vegetable farms in and near the interior and coastal cities.
  • Once the construction of the railway began, Chinese immigrants came to work as "navvies".
  • Because the work was dangerous, the railway had a difficult time finding enough workers.
  • Between 1881 and 1884, as many as 17 000 Chinese men came to B.C. to work as labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • The Chinese workers worked for $1.00 a day, and from this $1.00 the workers had to still pay for their food and their camping and cooking gear.
  • White workers did not have to pay for these things even though they were paid more money ($1.50-$2.50 per day).
  • As well as being paid less, Chinese workers were given the most back-breaking and dangerous work to do - cleared and graded the railway's roadbed, blasted tunnels through the rock.
  • There were accidents, fires and disasters. Landslides and dynamite blasts killed many.
  • There was no proper medical care and many Chinese workers depended on herbal cures to help them.
  • The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. 
  • They mainly ate a diet of rice and dried salmon, washed down with tea.
  • With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). 
  • The camps were crowded, diet and living conditions were poor, in the winter it was very cold and the open fires were the only way of keeping warm. 
  • This caused a great deal of illnesses other than scurvy: colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, etc.
  • When they moved camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres.
  • Once the railway was finished, these men were left with no work and not enough money to return to China.
  • Some opened restaurants, laundries, or cafes, others got jobs working on ranches or as cooks.
  • No matter where they ended up, they faced discrimination.
  • Many towns did not want Chinese workers to settle there.

D'Arcy Island
Taken from Island View Beach

Chinese Lepers on D'Arcy Island

  • D'Arcy Island is a small island to the southeast of James Island and Sidney Spit.
  • Today it is an uninhabited island little more than a kilometre in width.
  • It is also a provincial marine park, visited by the occasional kayaker or marine camper.
  • Campers who stay on D'Arcy Island are often unaware they tread on unmarked graves.. 
  • From 1891 to 1924, D'Arcy Island was western Canada's only leper colony. 
  • Spring of 1891, the City of Victoria discovered five Chinese men afflicted with leprosy living in a shack behind the Kwong Wo & Co. store on Fisgard Street. 
  • Victoria city council quietly applied to the provincial government for the acquisition of D'Arcy Island "for sanitary purposes." trying to hide the outbreak of leprosy.
  • The Daily Colonist reported on this saying "More repulsive looking human beings would be hard to imagine. Each was a total physical wreck, and their features were so distorted, disfigured and swollen as to be almost out of human semblance". 
  • The five men were terrified about being isolated from family and friends.
  • One of the men, Ng Chung, attempted to slit his throat with a large carving knife. 
  • On the island workers had built a one-storey dwelling it was divided into six individual rooms with sparse furnishings and linen. 
  • Fishing gear, gardening tools, and seeds were supplied.
  • A supply ship was to deliver food, clothing, coffins and occasionally opium to the island every three months, along with a visiting doctor.
  • Unfortunately, when weather was bad, the ship would miss its run and the inmates on the island would have to wait another three months for their supplies.
  • The men grew vegetables and raised ducks, geese and pigs in spite of their crippling disease.
  • Later when isolated cases of leprosy were found in Vancouver or in the interior, the patients were placed on D'Arcy Island.
  • One man, a Chinese miner from Kamloops, was reportedly boxed up in a crate and shipped from Vancouver - having already lost his toes, the man was referred to as "a shocking sight."
  • The federal government made no attempt to improve the lot of the lepers on D'Arcy Island even though the lepers in New Brunswick (Tracadia) were well cared for by the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph of Montreal.
  • April 1896, Dr. Smith wrote to Ottawa recommending that the patients at D'Arcy be transferred to the leper hospital at Tracadie where they would receive much better medical care at a substantially lower cost, but his suggestion was ignored. 
  • A Vancouver Province article suggested transferring the men to William Head Quarantine Station near Victoria, where they would feel more comfortable and less isolated from friends and family. 
  • Reports by medical officers described conditions on the island as deplorable, yet nothing was done.
  • A missionary woman named Mrs. Hansel offered to reside on the island and care for the lepers in the summer of 1894 was rejected by the attorney general's office in a letter stating, "the devoted services which Mrs. Hansel is prepared to render might be applied to a cause still more in the interests and for the benefit of mankind... they [the lepers] have been well attended and it would seem that the misery of their lot can hardly be alleviated by placing a guardian among them."
 Chandler, Ann (2001, October 01). Exile Island: the fear of leprosy was once so dreaded that its victims were cast out into separate colonies sustained.... Beaver, (5), 37, Retrieved from

    The Cariboo Gold Rush - STUDY THIS FOR YOUR EXAM!!!

    A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of dramatic discovery of gold. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Oceania, Brazil, Canada (especially the Yukon), South Africa, and the United States (especially Georgia, California, and western states), while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.

    On the west coast the first gold rush happened between 1848-1852 in California.  It was followed by a gold rush in the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo, and the Klondike in the Yukon Territories which ended in 1899.

    The growth of Barkerville was part of the Cariboo Gold Rush.  

    Divide a piece of paper into three sections.  Write these topics - one for each section:
    • Economic growth, 
    • Population growth, 
    • Development of Transportation

    Watch the following videos and take notes in each of the columns.

    Cariboo Gold Rush
    • The search for gold was a major force in opening British Columbia for settlement and in shaping our landscape, our government and laws. 
    • British Columbia had two big gold rushes, one in 1858 on the Fraser River and the other in 1862 in the Cariboo district.  
    • Everyone heard of the discovery of gold along the Fraser River in the Cariboo after the Hudson's Bay Company shipped 800 ounces of gold to the Federal Mint in San Francisco on the steamship Otter in February 1858. 
    • The gold was sent south because gold was of little use to gold-seekers in its raw state and the nearest mint was in San Francisco.   
    • Since the California gold rush had taken place only a few years earlier, San Francisco was very gold conscious and the Cariboo sounded like the next great "discovery". 
    • In 1858, word of the discovery of gold on the Fraser River reached the outside world. The small community of Fort Victoria on the south end of Vancouver's Island became the destination of goldseekers.  
    • The first major influx of people heading to the Cariboo region was on April 25th, 1858, when the steamer Commodore docked at Victoria with 450 men, 60 of whom where British and the remainder Americans, Germans, Italians, Chinese and a variety of other nationalities.
    • Doctor J.S. Helmcken recalls the events of April 25th, 1858:One sunday morning we were astonished to find a steamer entering the Harbour from San Francisco....(the miners)...built tents of grey cotton: hundreds of these tents dotted the land from Government Street almost as far as Spring Ridge.... The town thus grew and grew...Everyone wanted to get to Frazer's River." (BC Archives Add Mss 505 Helmcken Papers)
    • More than 30,000 prospectors sailed north during the summer of 1858, and most of these men reached the gold-fields via Victoria. 
    • The miners came first to Victoria to obtain a valid "mining license" which permitted them to prospect for gold. 
    • Almost overnight, the population in Victoria grew to over 20,000 people as miners camped while they purchased their mining licenses, and all the supplies - equipment, food, clothing, they would need for their journey to the gold-fields. 
    • The sand bars of the Fraser River were a disappointment to many miners. The miners who did not return to California in disgust, slowly worked their way up the Fraser River. 
    • By 1862 these prospectors had reached the Cariboo in the southern interior. 
    • There, on Williams Creek early in 1862, Billy Barker struck gold. 
    • Less than a year later Barkerville, which had grown around Barker's claim, had a population of 10,000 people.    

    Important Vocabulary
    • Placer Gold - These are deposits of sand or gravel which contain particles of gold or other valuable or heavy minerals.Gold was and still is, the most important mineral found in placers. This word was probably derived from a Spanish word meaning "sand bank". 
    • Cariboo Road - this was a wagon road built through difficult and treacherous terrain to take prospectors and traders to the mining areas in the Cariboo.  It was not until rich strikes were made on the upper Fraser River and in the Cariboo that better routes to the gold-fields became a priority. In May 1862, the Royal Engineers commenced construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The Royal Engineers completed the 365-mile long Cariboo Wagon Road in 1865. What had been a long hard trip to the Cariboo gold-fields was now relatively fast and easy. A passenger could now travel from Victoria to Yale by steamship, and from Yale to Barkerville by stagecoach.
    • Road Houses - These were small houses that were built along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers.  Roadhouses were generally built in areas where grass and water were plentiful and vegetables and crops could be grown. Those who were unsuccessful in mining often stayed in the Cariboo in the roadhouse business to become the first pioneers in the new agriculture and business communities. Many of the houses gained their names from mile posts along the Wagon Road.  The roadhouses took their names from mileage measured from Lillooet, which was the point of departure on the first Cariboo Road of 1859.  Some of these communities still exist today, i.e. 100 Mile House.
    • Cariboo - The name Cariboo, was first given to the region around Quesnel and Barkerville during the Gold Rush, and has since been extended to identify the region between Prince George and Cache Creek.  The spelling is traced to an 1861 dispatch from colonial governor Sir James Douglas where he mentions the popular term for the area which should, he said, be properly written "carboeuf."  Caribou, part of the reindeer family, were plentiful in the northern part of the region at the time and recieved that name from French interpretations of the Algonguin word "xalibu," for pawer or scratcher. 
    Cariboo Map
     Information on this page came primarily from the webpage The Cariboo Gold Rush.

      The Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia - STUDY THIS FOR THE EXAM!!!

      Colony of Vancouver Island 

      Flag for the Colony of Vancouver Island.
      • January 13, 1849, the British colonial office designated Vancouver Island as a crown colony . 
      • James Douglas was charged with encouraging British settlement. 
      • Richard Blanshard was named the colony's governor but as HBC chief officer, it was Douglas who held all practical authority in the territory. 
      • There was no civil service, no police, no militia, and virtually every British colonist was an employee of the HBC. 
      • Frustrated, Blanshard returned to England. 
      • In 1851 the colonial office appointed Douglas as governor. 
      • Douglas raised a domestic militia and worked hard at encouraging settlement.
      • Mid-1850s, the colony's non-aboriginal population was approaching 500
      • Sawmill and coal mining operations had been established at Fort Nanaimo and Fort Rupert (near present day Port Hardy). 
      • Douglas assisted the British government in establishing a naval base at present-day Esquimalt to check Russian and American expansionism.
      • Colonial officials in London kept land prices high in order to encourage the emigration of wealthier Britons, who were given incentives to bring out labourers with them to work the landholdings. 
      • Therefore emigration was slow
      • Landless labourers left VI to obtain free land grants in the United States, or work the newly-discovered goldfields of California. 
      • Because the immigrants were wealthy Britons, they maintained the British class system, resisting non-parochial (non-church run) education, land reform, and representative government - similar to the earlier situation in Upper Canada.
      • VI had a large First Nations population > 30,000. 
      • Douglas completed fourteen separate treaties with the various nations. 
      • Under the terms of these treaties, the Douglas Treaties, the nations were obliged to surrender title to all land within a designated area, with the exception of villages and cultivated areas, in perpetuity. 
      • They were also given permission to hunt and fish over unoccupied territories. 
      • For this, the nations were given a one-time cash payment of a few shillings each.
      • By 1857, Americans and British colonists were beginning to respond to rumours of gold in the Thompson River area. 
      • In 1858, 10,000-20,000 men moved into the interior of New Caledonia (mainland British Columbia), and Victoria was transformed into a tent-city of prospectors, merchants, land-agents, and speculators.
      • August 2, 1858 - to control the HBC and the influx of people, the British government converted New Caledonia into a crown colony and given the name British Columbia. 
      • Douglas was offered the governorship of BC
      To see a birds-eye-view of what Victoria looked like in the early days, click here.

      Colony of British Columbia
      The Seymour Artillery Regiment in New Westminster, 1866

      • British Columbia was given the capital of New Westminster but Douglas governed from Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island.
      • Because of the Cariboo Gold Rush, there was a huge influx of people into the new colony 
      • This required Douglas to draw up regulations and creating infrastructure (basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society, i.e. roads, courts, government offices, etc.).  
      • Magistrates and constables were hired including "the Hanging Judge" - Matthew Baillie Begbie.
      • Mining regulations drawn up, 
      • Townsites surveyed at Yale, Hope and Fort Langley to discourage squatting on crown land. 
      • Roads were constructed into the areas of greatest mining exploration around Lillooet and Lytton.
      • A more stable population of British colonists settled in the region, establishing businesses, opening sawmills, and engaging in fishing and agriculture.

        Development of Responsible Government in the Colonies 

        •  Douglas was both Chief Factor for Fort Victoria and Governor of Vancouver Island.  
        • Because most of the new settlers were upper class Britons, a "Family Compact" type situation was developing
        • The prejudice and class conscious new settlers looked down on the ex-HBC employees and the bi-racial governor and his Metis wife.
        • Many of the ex-HBC employees complained about the situation to London
        • As a result, Douglas formed a Legislative Assembly (responsible government) in 1856.
        • Douglas was not in favor of the Assembly and made the requirement for voting to be a male landowner of 20 or more acres.
        • This made the voting population on VI very small.
        • Douglas appointed men to the government who were in favour of his agenda: Dr. John Helmcken (his son-in-law), Joseph Pemberton, Joseph MacKay, John Muir (all ex-employees of Douglas).
        • Newspaper editor, Amor De Cosmos and Leonard McClure were liberal reformers that did not like the way Douglas governed and challenged him at every turn.
        • In 1864 Douglas was voted out of the Legislature.
        • BC's settlers also objected to the colony's lack of responsible government 
        • this was led by the editor of the New Westminster newspaper, The British Columbian and future premier, John Robson. 
        • A series of petitions requesting an assembly were ignored by Douglas and the colonial office until Douglas was eased out of office in 1864. 
        • Douglas's successor as BC governor was Frederick Seymour
        • April, 1864 the new governor and the Legislative Assembly were instated in BC
        • Amor De Cosmos, John Robson (premier of BC) and Robert Beaven (member of the BC Legislative Assembly) pushed for the joining of the two colonies when the BNA Act was signed.
        • They saw this as a way to develop economic health of the colonies and also to increase democratic reform.
        • August 6 1866, under pressure from London, Vancouver Island and British Columbia were joined into one colony with the capital in Victoria.
        • John A MacDonald pushed for the inclusion of BC in Confederation.
        • Canada agreed to take on the huge debt that BC had incurred by building infrastructure needed with the rapid increase in population.
        • Canada would also connect BC to the transcontinental railway.
        • 1871 BC joined Confederation.

        Oregon Territory - STUDY THIS FOR THE EXAM!!!

        Oregon Territory

        • As Canada expanded west, the US-Canada border west of Lake of the Woods was firm at the 49th parallel.  This boundary ended at the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
        • Russia had claimed the west coast as far south as Northern Vancouver Island.
        • The Americans claimed the Oregon Territory on the western side of the Rocky Mountains as far north as Fort Simpson and the Queen Charlotte Islands.
        • The Hudson's Bay Company saw this land as an extension of Rupert's Land.
        • HBC did not want to encourage settlement of the area as it might interfere with the fur trade or undermine the HBC's trade monopoly.
        • The American population was growing rapidly and it seemed that the US would control all of North America.  This was an idea promoted by Manifest Destiny.
        Manifest Destiny: The 19th-century political and philosophical belief that it was America's divinely assigned mission to expand westward across the North American continent and to establish democratic and Protestant ideals.
        Manifest Destiny - the long held belief that white Americans had a God-given right to occupy the entire North American continent.
        • Americans had an aggressive policy set on control of the Oregon Territory in which settlers were strongly encouraged to move into the area.
        • Two British employees of the HBC were crucial in maintaining British Columbia as British territory.
        • George Simpson was named governor of the expanded HBC in 1826.
        • Simpson toured British Columbia and then created Fort Vancouver close to where Portland, Oregon is today.
        • He also established Fort Langley which still exists today as the city of Langley.
        • Fort Vancouver was placed under the direction of Chief Factor John McLoughlin.
        • Simpson and McLoughlin differed on how to deal with the American settlers - Simpson wanted them to be treated harshly however McLoughlin encouraged Americans to go south of the Columbia by offering money and supplies.
        • HBC also struggled with the Russians in the north who had established fur-trading posts in Alaska.
        • In 1939 HBC and the Russians agreed that the Russians would stop operating south of 54 40' N and the HBC would supply the Russian posts in Alaska with food.
        • HBC provided a steamship, the SS Beaver, in 1835 to provide service to the Russian posts and to trade with the Northwest Coast peoples.
        • In 1841 Simpson decided to close all the west coast forts with the exception of Fort Simpson as the fur trade was not growing as he had hoped.
        • McLoughlin was furious as he saw all his hard work go down the drain.  Also, when his son was killed at Fort Stikine and Simpson recommended the charge of "justifiable homicide" McLoughlin developed an all out hatred for Simpson.
        • Simpson was alarmed and fearful that the HBC would lose control of the territory.
        • He ordered James Douglas to establish Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
        • In the mid-1840s the US wanted to expand their western territory.
        • In 1844, James Polk, a Democratic candidate for president, ran on the platform "54 40' or fight".  This meant the US would claim the Oregon Territory up to the parallel 54 40'N.
        • Polk won the presidency but did not really want to enter into a war with the British.
        • When the British refused to give up on the territory, the border on the 49th parallel was extended to the west coast with the exception of Vancouver Island.
        • In 1848 the British government established the Crown colony of Vancouver Island and gave the HBC a trading monopoly there.
        • James Douglas was named first governor.
        James Douglas leaving Fort Langley

        SS Beaver

        Fort Victoria - 1855

          Tuesday, January 11, 2011

          Important People To Know In BC History - STUDY THIS FOR YOUR EXAM!!!

          Captain James Cook
          Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer, ultimately rising to the rank of Captain in the Royal Navy.  On his third and final voyage, he went northeast to explore the west coast of North America. He unknowingly sailed past the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and soon after entered Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. He anchored near the First Nations village of Yuquot. Cook's two ships spent about a month in Nootka Sound, from 29 March to 26 April 1778, in what Cook called Ship Cove, now Resolution Cove, at the south end of Bligh Island, about 5 miles east across Nootka Sound from Yuquot, a Nuu-chah-nulth village (whose chief Cook did not identify but may have been Maquinna). Relations between Cook's crew and the people of Yuquot were cordial if sometimes strained.

          Chief Maquinna
          Chief Maquinna was the chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Nootka Sound, during the heyday of the maritime fur trade in the 1780s and 1790s on the Pacific Northwest Coast. His people are today known as the Mowachaht and reside today with their kin, the Muchalaht, at Gold River.  His summer coastal village, Yuquot, became the first important anchorage in the European jockeying for power and commerce as the era of the maritime fur trade began. Yuquot became known as Friendly Cove, and after the British explorer Captain James Cook visited in 1778.

          Captain George Vancouver

          Captain George Vancouver was an officer in the British Royal Navy, best known for his Vancouver Expedition maritime exploration of the North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.  Vancouver entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and the Washington state mainland on 29 April 1792. His orders included a survey of every inlet and outlet on the west coast of the mainland, all the way north to Alaska.

          Sir Alexander Mackenzie

          Sir Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish explorer. He was the first person to cross the continent north of Mexico.  His 6400 km trek to the Pacific on behalf of the North West Company revealed the promise of the Canadian Northwest and much of the geography of western North America. Mackenzie’s journey linked the Northwest with Canada, rather than letting it come under the sway of the United States.

          Simon Fraser

          Simon Fraser was an American explorer, born in New York State, near the Vermont border. 
          In the meantime, discovering a trade route to the Pacific had became a priority for the North West Company. Its officials gave Fraser the task of exploring a river believed to be the Columbia to its ocean outlet. It is ironic that this river which he so successfully navigated turned out not to be the Columbia, but rather an unknown river which fellow Nor'wester David Thompson would later name the Fraser River. It is to this voyage that Simon Fraser owes his fame.  On May 28, 1808, Fraser and a company of 23 men set out from Fort George to follow the river to the Pacific. Their harrowing journey, 520 miles in length and 36 days long, revealed both the ruggedness of the British Columbia interior and the courage of those who traversed it. Their expedition culminated in Fraser's discovery of the mouth of the river at Musqueam.

          Sir James Douglas

          Sir James Douglas was a company fur-trader and a British colonial governor on Vancouver Island in northwestern North America, particularly in what is now British Columbia. Douglas worked for the North West Company, and later for the Hudson's Bay Company becoming a high-ranking company officer. From 1851 to 1864, he was Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1858 he also became the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, in order to assert British authority during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, which had the potential to turn the B.C. Mainland into an American state. He remained governor of both Vancouver Island and British Columbia until his retirement in 1864. He is often credited as "The Father of British Columbia".   James Douglas was born in Guyana to John Douglas, a Scottish planter, and Martha Ann Tefler, a Creole. Telfer was free coloured, which in her time and place meant a free person of mixed European and African ancestry. The couple had a number of children together, but were not formally married. In 1812 James was sent to Scotland to be schooled. At the age of sixteen Douglas left Britain to enter the fur trade in the employ of the North West Company.  On April 27, 1828, Douglas married the daughter of New Caledonia's Chief Factor William Connolly, Amelia Connolly. Amelia's mother had been Cree. 
          As Governor, Douglas faced a number of significant challenges, not least of which was the expansionist pressure of the neighbouring United States of America. Using his meagre resources, Douglas created the Victoria Voltigeurs, Vancouver Island's first militia, using money from the Company and composed of Metis and French-Canadians in the company's service. He also used the sparse presence of the Royal Navy for protection.
          In 1859, Douglas also found his colony embroiled in a dispute with Washington Territory over sovereignty in the San Juan Islands. The protracted, twelve-year standoff came to be known as the Pig War. Douglas pressed Britain to exert sovereignty over all islands in the archipelago dividing the Strait of Georgia from Puget Sound. Named for the largest island of the group, the San Juans Islands are immediately adjacent to Victoria and so were of great strategic interest and worry. While opposing troops remained garrisoned on San Juan Island, the dispute was eventually settled by arbitration in favour of the USA.
          Douglas' largest problem in the mid- and late-1850s concerned relations with the majority First Nations population - numbered at around 30,000 local Songhees, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Nuu-chah-nulth, including raiding Haida from the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Euclataws Kwakiutl of northern Georgia Strait and the Sechelt, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Sto:lo peoples of the Lower Mainland. In contrast, Europeans in the Colony numbered under 1000. Meanwhile, in neighbouring Oregon and Washington Territory the Cayuse and Yakima Wars and other conflicts between Americans and indigenous peoples were raging. Douglas' relations towards First Nations peoples were mixed. On the one hand, Douglas' wife was Cree, he had established many close business and personal relationships with indigenous peoples as a fur trader, and he sought to conclude treaties (the Douglas Treaties) with First Nations on southern Vancouver Island. On the other hand, Douglas supplied Washington Territory's Governor Isaac Stephens with arms and other supplies to assist the American government in its conflict with Native American tribes, and the treaties he concluded were later criticized as having provided woefully inadequate compensation in return for large swaths of territory (in most cases, a few blankets or a few shillings). The treaties, concluded between 1850 and 1854, acquired fourteen parcels of land for the Crown from the native peoples, totalling 570 km2. The treaty-making was halted after the Colony ran out of money to pursue its expansion policy.
          Other actions during Douglas' time as governor include the creation of public elementary schools, attempts to control alcohol and the construction of the Victoria District Church (forerunner to the Christ Church Cathedral). In 1856, as ordered by the British Government, Douglas reluctantly established an elected Legislative Assembly. This was a turning point for Douglas, who was accustomed to administering the colony with absolute authority. The council was opposed to Douglas on many issues, and consistently criticized him for having a conflict of interests between the Company and the colony.

          Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken

          John Sebastian Helmcken was a British Columbia physician who played a prominent role in bringing the province into Canadian Confederation. He was hired aboard the Hudson's Bay Company's Prince Rupert as a ship's surgeon on its 1847 voyage to York Factory, Rupert's Land. After completing his certification at Guy's Hospital, he travelled to India and China. He had intended to join the Navy, but was persuaded instead to join the HBC in 1849 as a physician and clerk on to be stationed on Vancouver Island. On the long voyage, smallpox broke out aboard ship, but Helmcken handled the situation ably, and only a single life was lost. 
          Helmcken arrived on Vancouver Island in March 1850 and was posted first to Fort Rupert, where he was soon made a magistrate and tasked with resolving a dispute between the company and the coal-miners there, who wanted to join the California Gold Rush. Six months later, Chief Factor James Douglas called Helmcken to Fort Victoria to attend the ailing Governor Richard Blanshard, and he settled there permanently. On December 27, 1852, he married Douglas' daughter Cecilia. Douglas was by that time the governor of the colony, and Helmcken had effectively joined what newspaperman Amor de Cosmos called disparagingly the "family-company compact".
          In 1856, he was elected to the first Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island to represent Esquimalt. He served as its speaker until that colony merged with British Columbia in 1866. He continued on as Speaker of the Legislative Council of the new colony until Confederation in 1871. By 1863 he had risen to the rank of chief trader within the HBC, and in 1870 Governor Musgrave appointed him to his executive council. 
          Helmcken was in favour of British Columbia joining Canadian Confederation for a while in 1866, but by the time the issue was being seriously debated in 1870 he had dismissed it as impractical, and against the financial interests of the colony. He was sometimes accused of supporting annexation to the US, and while he denied that, he did state that "it cannot be regarded as improbable that ultimately, not only this Colony, but the whole of the Dominion of Canada will be absorbed by the United States." Helmcken later summed up his real objection to joining Canada as purely utilitarian: "this Colony had no love for Canada; the bargain for love could not be; it can only be the advancement of material interest which will lead to union."
          Despite his opposition to the idea, Helmcken was sent along with Joseph Trutch and Robert Carrall to Ottawa to negotiate terms of confederation with the Canadian government. The terms they negotiated were very favourable to BC; In particular, BC was promised a railway connection with the rest of Canada within ten years and the federal government agreed to assume the colony's sizable debt. Few British Columbians could deny the value of the deal as negotiated by Helmcken, Carrall and Trutch, and British Columbia became a Canadian province on July 20, 1871. After Confederation, Helmcken retired from politics.

          Amor De Cosmos

          Amor De Cosmos was a Canadian journalist, publisher and politician. He served as the second Premier of British Columbia. As the child of American refugees, who had himself lived six years in the United States, De Cosmos developed a sharpened sense of nationalism. He believed that the colonies of British North America needed to be self-supporting, develop a distinct identity, and form a political and economic union. From such policies, emerged the two great causes of his later career: the union of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and the merged Colony of British Columbia’s entry into Confederation. To advance the first cause, De Cosmos left journalism and entered politics, becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island from 1863 until its union with the Colony of British Columbia in 1866. He advanced the second cause through his position as a member of the assembly of the merged, larger British Columbia from 1867-68 and 1870-71, and as the leading force behind the colony's Confederation League. Through the instrumental role De Cosmos played in realizing these two goals, he earned for himself his reputation as British Columbia's Father of Confederation and became the second premier of British Columbia.

          Matthew Baillie Begbie

          Matthew Baillie Begbie was the first judge in British Columbia and later became known as "The Hanging Judge".  Begbie spent the first thirty-nine years of his life in Great Britain. He received his first degree from Cambridge University where he studied mathematics and the classics. After Cambridge Begbie went on to study law at Lincoln's Inn. He established a successful law practice in London before heading to British Columbia.
          Sent from England in 1858 to be the first judge of the new colony of British Columbia, he quickly established his reputation as a resolute, but fair, upholder of British law and order in the scattered mining camps of the colony, the white population of which was largely American. His efforts and those of Governor James Douglas ensured that the colony remained British, to become part of Canada.
          During his years on the bench, Begbie traveled throughout British Columbia, on foot and later on horseback administering justice in sometimes informal circumstances but he is said to have always worn his judicial robes and wig when court was in session. During his early years, he played a role in government including drafting legislation. He spoke several languages and is said to have been able to conduct trials in several aboriginal languages without the use of an interpreter.
          Upon BC entering Confederation in 1871, Begbie became its first chief justice. He guided the judicial system of the province to an era of considerable sophistication, displaying characteristics unexpected of a Victorian judge: espousal of the rights of Chinese and native people; a lifelong interest in progressive law reforms and a tendency to take the side of the "little man." In later years he was the social lion of the genteel society of Victoria, where he lived in bachelor comfort.

          Timeline of BC History - STUDY THIS FOR YOUR EXAM!!!

          Simon Fraser - Explorer
          Fort Victoria viewed from Wharf Street
          The layout of Fort Victoria
          Sir James Douglas - First Governor of British Columbia
          Oregon Territory
          Fraser Gold Rush
          Camels were brought as pack animals for the Cariboo Gold Rush.  Unfortunately they did not do well in the BC climate.
          Cariboo Road
          Alexander Mackenzie - Explorer
          Captain George Vancouver
          Nootka Leaders Meet Captain James Cook

          • 1774 - Spanish Explorer Juan Perez Hernandez was probably the first European to see the coast of B.C.
          • 1778 - Captain James Cook took his two ships into Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  With in a few years British traders came by sea and developed a flourishing fur trade with the Indigenous people of the west coast.
          • 1792 - ships under Captain George Vancouver carried out a careful 3-year mapping of the coast from Oregon to Alaska. Vancouver named many of the bays, inlets and coastal landform features. In this period of worldwide European colonialism, there was no concern among European governments and businessmen that this area was already occupied by native peoples.
          • 1793 - the first European report about the interior of BC was made by the Northwest Company fur trader, Alexander Mackenzie. He entered the region from the East via the Peace and Upper Fraser rivers, exploring westward across the Chilcotin Plateau and through the Coast Mountains to the long inlet at Bella Coola.
          • 1808 - Simon Fraser reached the mouth of the Fraser River after exploring the length and extent of the river.
          • 1811 - David Thompson found the mouth of the Columbia River, after exploring the river routes of southeastern BC.
          • First half of the 19th century -  the British-owned Hudson's Bay Company controlled the western fur trade, including the area of present-day Washington and Oregon. As American settlers moved into the southern part of this region in the 1830s, they refused to recognize the authority of the British company.
          • 1843 - Hudson's Bay Company moved it's western headquarters to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
          • 1846 - Oregon Treaty established the border of BC on the 49th parallel, except for Vancouver Island.
          • 1849 - British government granted Vancouver Island to the Hudson's Bay Company for colonization.
          • 1851 - Sir James Douglas is named the first governor of Vancouver Island.
          • 1852 - Doctor John Helmcken arrives at Fort Victoria - the first European doctor.
          • 1856 - Douglas establishes a legislative assembly.  Dr. Helmcken is named the first Speaker of the House.
          • Mid 1800s - the only non-native settlements in what was to become British Columbia were fur trade posts on the coast, such as Victoria, Nanaimo and Fort Langley, and in the interior, such as Kamloops, Fort (later Prince) George and Fort St. James.
          • 1858 - Gold discovered in the lower Fraser River. Thousands of fortune hunters, mainly from the California goldfields, but also from other parts of the world, came by boat from San Francisco, crowding into inadequate facilities in Victoria to buy supplies and receive permits. The town of Yale was established as a transshipping centre at the south end of Fraser Canyon and the eastern end of water transport from the Fraser River mouth. Gold seekers walked the tributaries of the Fraser River and major finds were made east of Quesnel.
          • 1858 - In order to establish government and maintain law and order around the goldfields, the British established the mainland colony of British Columbia under the authority of James Douglas, who remained governor of Vancouver Island.
          • 1859 - New Westminister was named the capital of the new colony.  New Westminister controlled river traffic on the Fraser River en route to the interior.
          • Early 1860's - The amazing feat of building the Cariboo Road along the walls of the Fraser Canyon was accomplished in order to move supplies to interior settlements.
          • Early 1860s - The boomtown of Barkerville arose at the western edge of the Cariboo Mountains as the chief service town for the Cariboo goldfields. At its peak Barkerville probably held a fluctuating population of about 10,000, making it the largest settlement in western Canada.
          • 1866 - The gold rush was waning so the British government combined the two colonies - Vancouver Island and British Columbia - to reduce administrative costs.
          • 1867 - The debate began amongst the 12,000 non-Aboriginal residents of British Columbia on whether the colony should join in Confederation.
          • 1871 - British Columbia joins Confederation and becomes part of Canada.

          Friday, January 7, 2011

          Traditional WSANEC Territory

          Much of the information on this page comes from Saltwater People as told by Dave Elliott Sr. (citation below).

          Have any of you wondered where the name Saanich comes from?  If you tell someone who isn't local that you live in Saanich, they often want to know how it is spelled, or if they see it written, they can't guess how to pronounce it.  In fact, the word Saanich is an anglicized version of the SENCOTEN word WSANEC which means "emerging people" and is the traditional name for this territory and the indigenous people who live here.

          Most of us live in traditional WSANEC territory.

          You probably could find Sidney, Pat Bay, Sidney Spit, or Butchart Gardens on a map.  But could you find KELSET, SKTAMEN, CUAN, or XEOLXELEK?

          The ancestors of the WSANEC people have lived here since time beyond memory.  They are part of the Salish peoples - the biggest group of its kind in BC.  The Salish peoples can be found up Vancouver Island, down into Washington and up to the southern border of the Chilcotin country and to the Alberta border in the east.  Not all Salish people speak SENCOTEN but the WSANEC people and the people of the Cowichan Valley or the KHOWUTZUN people speak similar and related languages.  If you are interested in learning SENCOTEN a good place to start is on the First Voices website.

          The WSANEC people passed their history down in an oral tradition by telling stories in families and in the long house.  By telling these stories, their children learned important lessons about who they were as a people, what they valued, and how they were expected to live their lives.

          Think of a story that is passed down in your own family.  Why is it told over and over?  What purpose does this story hold for your family?  Is it funny?  Does it honour someone in your family?  Does it express an important part of your history?  Does it teach a lesson?

          Elliott, D. (1990). Saltwater people. Sasnichton, BC: School District #63.

          Interesting Places in Canada

          Every country has its share of interesting places and Canada is no exception.  Here are a few:

          Bay of Fundy - found between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

          Magnetic Hill, Moncton, New Brunswick

          Hoodoos in Drumheller, Alberta.

          Dinosaur Digs on the Prairies

          Royal Tyrrell Paleontology Museum in Alberta

          Niagara Falls

          Columbia Icefield, Rockie Mountains


          Polar Bears in Churchill Manitoba

          Aurora Borealis