British Columbia: Road Trip

Oregon Territory

The Oregon Territory was both owned by the British and America, but the HBC had already began trading in the Oregon territory. As you can see the pictures show you the before (1824) and after (2008) of Fort Langley, the fort became HBC’s main trading post in the Oregon Territory. John McLoughlin, a French Canadian, was put in charge. He was directed to expand the fur trade along the Pacific coast. By the end of the 1830s, there was a strong American presence south of the Columbia River. Since the fur trade was going well, the HBC nor the British didn't pay attention to it. The HBC had competition with the Russians, who had a number of trading posts on the coast. By 1839, HBC and Russians agreed that Russians wouldn't operate south of 54 ̊40' N(Prince Rupert). In exchange, HBC will supply Russians with food from their farms in Fort Van

The rising population of Americans in the Oregon Territory eventually got

the attention of both George Simpson and the British government. Both

Britain and the United States now recognized that a permanent boundary

was necessary. However, if the 49th parallel was extended from the Rockies

to the Pacific, Fort Vancouver would be in American territory.

In 1843, Simpson ordered Fort Vancouver’s chief factor, James Douglas,

to build a new trading post on Vancouver Island, inside what would likely

become British territory. Douglas found a suitable site at the south end of

Vancouver Island and named it Fort Victoria.

Fort Vancouver

The Fort Vancouver, a HBC fur-trade post, was originally constructed in 1825 by Dr. John Mcloughlin about 150 km inland on the north bank of the Columbia River, 8 km above the mouth of the Willamette. In 1829, the site was shifted closer to the Columbia, about 2 km west of the old fort. The newer structure is Fort Vancouver, the remains of which were unearthed and are now a historic monument in Vancouver, Washington. Strategically located to protect British interests, it was the company's Columbia district headquarters, and all trading and shipping operations west of the Rockies were directed from it. The fort was enclosed by a large stockade and was self-supporting, with farming, fishing and sawmilling being developed adjacent to it. The Oregon Treaty of 1846, which placed the fort in American territory, forced the company to transfer its depot to Fort Victoria in 1849, eventually abandoning the fort in 1860.

Colony Of Vancouver

In 1848, the British government saw that a more official British presence on the Pacific coast was necessary. To solidify its claim on the region,

the government created the Crown colony of Vancouver Island. Britain

also gave a trade monopoly to the Hudson’s Bay Company, which could

sell land to Europeans or Americans who immigrated to the colony.

James Douglas was appointed governor. For 10 years, he was also chief

factor of Fort Victoria. James Douglas encouraged settlement on Vancouver Island, so he offered free land to colonist. The British Government decided to charge each acre for $5 but at a minimum purchase of 20 acres. in the 1850s the Vancouver Island colony started to grow rapidly, and coal was discovered in there mines near Nanaimo and Cumberland.  

The Royal Navy soon became important to the emerging social life of Fort Victoria, since the aristocratic naval officers were always in demand at social functions, such as balls. Douglas encouraged these activities, but he was not always impressed with the colony’s new upper class. Douglas and most of the HBC employees who had settled in the colony had Métis or First Nations wives. They were often shunned by the prejudiced and class conscious newcomers.

Fort Victoria

In 1842, James Douglas of the HBC selected the port of Camosack (the harbour where Victoria now stands) as a new fur trade post, eventually to replace Fort Vancouver as the HBC's Pacific headquarters and to strengthen the claim of Vancouver Island. First known as Fort Albert, the original intention was to name the site Fort Adelaide, but on 1843 it was officially blessed Fort Victoria after the Queen. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 effectively terminated Fort Vancouver as Columbia district headquarters, and in 1849 it was superseded by Fort Victoria. The crown colony of Vancouver Island was also established in 1849 and Richard Blanshard, who became its first governor in 1850, resided at Fort Victoria. Victoria townsite was surveyed adjacent to the fort in 1851-52 and during the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858 its population soared. Fort Victoria eventually became an anachronism and by 1864 its last remnants had disappeared.

Colony of British Columbia

In 1858, the colony of British Columbia was created on the mainland,

extending from the 49th parallel to 54 ̊ 40' N. Douglas was made governor,

and the Colonial Office sent a contingent of Royal Engineers. The

engineers, who arrived in 1859, were to provide a military presence, survey

the region, and assist in laying out new towns and roads. Matthew Begbie

was to be chief justice for the new colony. Begbie, known to be tough

but fair, was to ensure that the rule of law was upheld.

Gold miners soon began working their way up the Fraser, searching

for the motherlode. By 1860, the leading edge of this northward move-

ment had reached the Quesnel River. Several miners discovered large

deposits of gold in the creeks flowing into the Quesnel, and the richness of

the deposits convinced them that the motherlode was nearby. The Cariboo Gold Rush was underway.

The Cariboo Wagon Road, was made due to the horrible routes going into the goldfields. Douglas hired the Royal Engineers to survey the land and make a road called "The Cariboo Wagon Road". The construction started in 1862 and it began on Yale, running north along the steep walls of the Fraser Canyon, then it went directly overland to Quesnel then eventually arriving to the main town of Barkerville. Almost 650 km long, the Cariboo Road took three years to build and cost the government $750,000. Ironically, by the time the road was finished in 1865, the gold rush had started to decline. Which then lead the colony in huge dept.


British Columbia joined Confederation on 20 July 1871, becoming Canada's sixth province in the wake of a gold rush and on the promise of a transcontinental railway link. Politician Amor De Cosmos, a newspaper publisher, led the Confederation movement along with John Robson and Arthur Kennedy. De Cosmos formed the Confederation League in 1868 to unite the colony with Canada and bring responsible government to BC. The movement grew in popularity. However, its greatest opponents were the powerful, unelected members of the colonial government who feared for their jobs and pensions if BC became a Canadian province with a fully elected, rather than a partially appointed, legislature.

One major obstacle to the union was removed in 1869 with the death of Governor Frederick Seymour, who opposed joining Canada, and his replacement Anthony Musgrave, who is pro confederation. The following year, Canada also purchased Rupert’s Land ($1.5mil, 3mil hectares) and the North-West Territories from the HBC. This gave Canada control over the territory between the Great Lakes and BC, clearing the way for a coast-to-coast country and, eventually, a transcontinental railroad.  

Amor De Cosmos

Amor de Cosmos (William Alexander Smith), newspaper editor, politician, premier of British Columbia 1872–74 (born 20 August 1825 in Windsor, NS; died 4 July 1897 in Victoria, BC). The leading proponent of Confederation in British Columbia, Amor de Cosmos played a strong role in bringing the province into Confederation. He served as British Columbia’s second premier and as a Member of Parliament. He is often cited as British Columbia’s Father of Confederation.
In an effort to stimulate economic growth in Victoria, de Cosmos obtained federal funding to develop a dry dock (a place where ships are built or repaired) at Esquimalt, which could create a thriving port to rival San Francisco. He did so by re-negotiating certain terms of union with the federal government, an agreement that also included the construction of the transcontinental railway’s terminus in Victoria.


In 1860, the future site of Vancouver appeared much as it had for thousands of years. But by 1865, the area had changed. Captain Edward Stamp built Hastings Mill on the south side of the inlet. On the north side of the inlet, American entrepreneur Sewell Moody also built a sawmill. The mill and its surrounding community were known as Moodyville. Both mills specialized in selectively logging “B.C. toothpicks”— timber from trees so large that logs measured 18 metres long and 1 metre in diameter. They were prized as masts for sailing ships and were exported around the world. Both Hastings Mill and Moodyville were officially dry until John “Gassy Jack” Deighton appeared in Burrard Inlet in 1867, with his family and a barrel of whisky. Gassy Jack’s saloon became a popular meeting place, especially after payday. Soon, other saloons and stores opened, and buildings appeared along the shores of Burrard Inlet. Officially known as Granville, the village was better known as Gastown, after Gassy Jack.





The Kanakas a Hawaiian community settled in Salt Spring Island. In the 19th century 500 Kanakas came to work in the fur trade, they worked at farms that were owned by the HBC that were from Oregon to Alaska, they worked in ships. Kanakas became 30-60% of HBC's workforce. They settled outside of Fort Vancouver and Fort Langley, they settled in Maple Ridge (Kanaka Creek), downtown Vancouver (Coal Harbour), North Van (Lonsdale) and in downtown Victoria Salt Spring Island. The Rolands and their Hawaiian ancestors had been hosting luaus for over a century. The Rolands are descended from William Naukana, one of some 500 Hawaiian men who came to the Northwest Coast in the 19th century to work as contract labourers in the fur trade. The Hawaiian families grew fruit and vegetables, they fished and hunted, and they made coke from the local coal. This they sold to Hastings Mill, located near Gastown. The children trekked daily along a shore path to school at the Mill. And the gold rush came to the newspapers the hawaiians gained "Gold Fever"


Salt Springs had one of the first higher class learning areas for black people and for women. Salt Springs was made up of a black community who were building their town for themselves without the need of help from anyone else. Many blacks had left the states because of the fugitive slave act where any black man or woman could be captured in a free state from slavery and be brought back to the plantations. People would often leave the states for the British colony because the laws in the colony protected them from slave hunters. John Thomas Pierre was a cert successful black tailor who opened his shop in Victoria. His shop was one of many of the small businesses that helped turn the small settlement in a thriving city. Newspapers flooding cities about the gold rush helped bring the most prosperous black merchants to BC from San Francisco and all over the Oregon area. Mifflin Gibbs had the great idea to rather than go out and hunt gold himself, he set up a prospectors supplies shop in Victoria selling everything from bacon and flour to shovels and blankets. This new community in Victoria wasn’t entirely welcomed. Gibbs had joined the town council to try and make change for how they were treated. When blacks would volunteer as firefighters, whites would disband. The black community started their own Militia called the Pioneer Rifle Corps but when they were refused authority to march in a major parade, they disbanded. Having been fed up with the way they were treated, most packed their things and left, leaving BC much poorer in culture and fund.


Jewish settlers arriving from the late 1850s through the 1890s were seeking opportunities to develop territories of British Empire. Most Jews came from California. When New Westminster was established in 1858, several Jewish merchants opened businesses there. Jews were drawn to B.C. when they heard of gold in the Fraser River and Cariboo Regions.
The Jews came to Victoria in hopes in a share of the Gold Rush. More than 100 Jewish Merchants came to Victoria in 1858. Most came originally from Britain and Western Europe however they came directly to the Gold Rush from San Francisco. They set up shops and sold things that supported the Gold Rush along with miners and gold transportation businesses.


The first people from India to migrate to British Columbia were Sikhs from Northern India (mainly from Punjab) they settled in Vancouver, Port Moody and New West. These men were actually on an official trip as part of the Hong Kong army regiments who were travelling through Canada in commemoration of the Queen Victoria of England’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.Almost all the men who arrived in British Columbia worked in such labour industries including: forestry, fishing and railway. And because the Canadian government was preoccupied with restricting Chinese and Japanese immigration at the time, these South Asians were quite easily able to find such work. On average, these men earned from $1 to $1.25 a day, which was less than the pay received by Caucasian workers. Some workers however, did pay their South Asian workers up to $1.50 to $2.00 a day. Because wages were so low for them, most South Asian men lived together and there were often between twenty to fifty men living under the same roof.


The beginning of Chinatown was very dense. The Chinese workers were promised jobs on building the CPR which seemed quite promising. The low wages that they would ask for and their willingness to do dangerous work made them the perfect workers for such a difficult job. The Chinese were very willing to come here to Canada because of their poor living conditions, the poor land and the overpopulation becoming a large issue in China. There were many issues of prostitution, opium smoking and gambling throughout Chinatown. With Chinatown growing and many new tenement buildings being made, other businesses went like tailors, grocery stores and restaurants went up in the area. On 7, September 1907, members of the Asiatic Exclusion League marched to Chinatown where they beat up dozens of Chinese, wrecked stores and smashed windows. Order was not restored for several days. Despite these attacks, Chinatown continued to grow. By the end of the first decade of the 1900s, Chinatown covered about four city blocks bounded by Canton Alley to the west, Hastings Street to the north, Keefer Street to the south, and Westminster Avenue to the east. In 1896, six prominent merchants founded the Chinese Benevolent Association, and erected a building in 1910 to serve as its office as well as a Chinese Hospital. The association functioned as spokesman for the Chinese community in Vancouver. There was a head tax put on immigrants for $500 a person making it much harder to immigrate to Canada and not much attention was paid to the tension built between the Asian community and others


Mining has always been a very large contributor to British Columbia resource based economy. In the later 1800s, mining began in the Cassiar and Omineca goldfields in the northwest corner of the province, and mining of copper, zinc, and lead started in the Kootenay region of the southeast. British Columbia’s mining industry is highly reliant on export sales. Most of the minerals exported are unprocessed and the value depends on shifting world prices and demand. The average lifespan of a mine is 25 years and quite often when the mine gets shut down, the mining community around the mine gets shut down as well. Some examples of shut down communities are Barkerville and Britannia Beach. A large issue that many mines face is open pit mining which basically creates a very large crater in the ground from the process of searching for minerals. Acid rock drainage occurs when sulphuric minerals in rock are exposed to air or water, resulting in the formation of acid. Although this process occurs in nature, it is accelerated by mining activity, which exposes more rock. As water comes into contact with mine waste and re-enters streams, lakes, and rivers. It can have a significant impact on water quality and damage aquatic ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Environment, none of the province’s coal mines and only six of the metal mines generate acid rock drainage, and those mines are taking steps to eliminate it. Coal was the biggest industry in the early days before the gold rush in British Columbia. Before 1859 around 25,000 tonnes of coal had been shipped from Vancouver Island to mainly San Francisco. The coal mining industry was huge in started the settlements on Vancouver Island and was the main resource to gain from Nanaimo. Coal was the mineral that ran out the slowest of all other minerals and quite often, old shut down mines now turn into museums.


Although only 1% of British Columbia’s land area is considered prime arable and about 15 percent is potentially arable, agriculture has continued here since the Hudson’s Bay Company encouraged farming on Vancouver Island. The province’s geography and climate have allowed for a broad range of agricultural activities. The hot, dry climate of the Okanagan is ideal for orchards and vineyards. The range lands of the central interior are used for cattle ranching, and the Peace River valley for

grain farming.

The fertile Fraser Valley is suited to the intensive farming

of vegetables, poultry, and dairy cattle. Farming was traditionally a small-scale family business in British Columbia, but by the 1990s, agriculture became much more of a big business. The hot-house industry has become a major producer of tomatoes and cucumbers for the expanding urban markets of the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Recently the emphasis on organic foods and local produce has revitalized many family farms in the province.


The expansion of Canada’s railway benefited the lumber industry in British Columbia, and settlement of the Prairies provided new markets for lumber as British Columbia’s trade shifted east-west after Confederation.Investment in the forest industry in 1900 was about $2 million.Only 10 years later, it had grown to $65 million. During these years of expansion,uncontrolled cutting and wasteful logging practices went unmanaged by the provincial government.Public pressure forced the government to establish a Royal Commission on Timber and Forestry.This led to the 1912 Forest Act,which established a forest service to enforce new regulations. The province is littered with old growth forests, with some trees being from 125-250 years old. Forestry companies argue that the restriction on cutting down old growth trees will heavily drop the economy. A 2008 study by Simon Fraser University suggests that old growth forests play a complex role in the environment,and that leaving oldgrowth forests standing may make more economic sense than cutting them down.In this case,conservation may win out over logging when forests are valued for their role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, protecting species, and providing jobs in recreation. Other than forestry companies, the forests recently had face a different enemy. The mountain pine beetle threatens dramatic environmental, economic, and social upheaval. The pine beetle infestation began around the year 2000.The infestation grew rapidly for several reasons. Warmer winters meant that the beetle could survive in areas that had previously been inhospitable. Forest management geared to limiting forest fires resulted in large stands of mature lodge pole pines, the ideal food supply for the beetles. As well, fewer natural forest fires meant that infestations would not be destroyed. This also allowed for fewer opportunities for new pine to grow. Sawmills would quite often be the foundation for a new settlement to start. They would clear the land of trees around an area and provide lumber for buildings to be made, ultimately starting little towns to eventually turn into cities. A very good example of this is the Hastings Mill that used to be in Vancouver. The only town around was quite simply a company town for the families of the sawmill workers. The town gradually grew larger and then exploded with population due to Vancouver being chosen as the CPR terminus. The mill was shut down in the 1920’s and the only piece of it still around is the general store that now makes up that Hastings museum in Vancouver.

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BC History Road Trip

by jedbyap


Public - 6/14/16, 4:03 PM