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October 12th Lecture
Lecture 7: Colonizing the West Coast
• Towards a Colonial Society
-British had difficulty early colonizing West
-very difficult long route, travel all way around South America
- Indigenous population was very large
- BC was a very fragile colony
- difficult to develop family life, lack of women
o Exploration and the fur trade
o The Hudson’s Bay Company and colonial beginnings on Vancouver
Governor James Douglas
- first governor of BC, and of the Hudson’s Bay company
- Nanaimo: coal mining was what the HBC looked to prosper in during the 1850s, hired:
Scottish, local and Kanaka (indigenous peoples from Hawaii) labourers
- also established agricultural settlements. Strategy was to get well-to-do farmers who
would establish great farms. Would bring capital to the region and it was hoped
that the farm owners would also sponser the arrival of farm labourers who would
also do work on their farms
- farms didn’t work out, labourers that the English brought in quickly lost interest in
farming there and moved on to California. That was particularly true due to the
gold rush in California, which had become in 1849. People were flocking there
from around the globe and these British immigrant farm labourers were among
- Vancouver island was a ‘sleepy place’
- this all changed when gold was discovered up in the main land.
• Gold Rush, 1858
- from a pop of a few hundred white immigrants working in coal, fur trade, farming, the
population ballooned to 30k, men searching to find their fortune.
Fraser River: Port Hope, Yale, Lytton: 30k instant population
!Victoria transformed overnight
- nowhere near the gold fields in the country, but governor James Douglas
specified that all who wanted to to go the gold fields had ot first come to Victoria
to get a license and to mine.
- boom town atmosphere in Victoria; purchased items in shops there, arranged
transportation there, etc. transition from small post to a major centre for the gold
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- Freed blacks moved into BC, also jews, germans, Italians, Spaniards, Chinese.
Multicultural aspect in Vancouver island and the mainland due to the gold rush.
Early 1860s a second rush was made to the Cariboo country in Barkerville
-1849-1871: colonial era
-1849: colony of Vancouver island established
- formally established in 1858 the colony of BC (mainland)
- in 1866: amalgamation under name BC
-1871: joined confederation with Canada: province of BC
• A Homosocial Culture on the Frontier
- population was mostly male, single young men from California but also from Britain
and other places.
- large indigenous population
- worried of the success of the colony, as there were few women to produce families
- men had to establish their own households if they were going to live well on the
-advice books and pamphlets telling them how they should proceed on this frontier. They
said you should make up a household with a group of men you meet on the
frontier, 6 should live together. In a shack, out of the materials at hand.
- spread the household work so that everyone could have their turn at making money with
the gold. Or specialists, one guy cooked as he was the best at it.
- men on the frontier lived a dangerous life, collapse at th digging sites, working with
- if you lived together you could be nursed by others in your household
- men drank heavily, often fought, sorted out their differences on the frontier by fighting.
Toughest guy, the winner, took charge.
- heavy gambling culture
- white men did sleep together on the frontier because there were no white women
- also been suggested that white men may have slept together on the frontier because the
alternative seemed much worse: sleep with aboriginal women. Racial barrier was
so great that they couldn’t imagine sleeping with aboriginal women.
-Amelia Douglas 1865, tried to pose as a British woman because she thought she would
be better accepted. Married to the governor, did not want to admit to her
-these marriages were not sanctified by the church, nor were they licensed.
- some where temporary, you lived with one woman for a period of time, and then they
moved on in their own directions.
-some were lifetime, the patterns vary.
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