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Lectures 7 and 8

Course Code
Ian Radforth

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Lecture 7: Colonizing the west Coast
Towards a Colonial Society
-exploration and the fur trade
-The Hudsons Bay Company and colonial beginnings on Vancouver Island
Governor James Douglas
Abo pop decline: 100, 000 – 200 000 – 27 000 (1730-1880)
Nanaimo: coal mining – Scottish, local, and Kanaka labour
Gold Rush
1858: Fraser River: Fort Hope, Yale, Lytton: 30 000 instantly
Victoria transformed
Early 1860s: Cariboo county: Barkerville
Few immigrants to west coast
Indig pop larger here - Presence newcomers were aware of and had to adjust to>
In earliest years (colonial era) in BC was fragile colonial experimentfragile bc of Indig pop.,
few white women – difficult to see family life develop
We see people from Asia arriving
Today’s focus is COLONIAL ERA (1849 – 1871 in BC)
Fragility of colonial experiment, difficulties
Indig: Larger pop on West than East – 100 000 to 200 000
1880s – 27 000 pop – diseases kill them off
Began in 18th c., first by Russians who came across pacific in 1728-9
then Spanish round South American tip in 1774
1776 British arrived - James Cook
Fur trade opened in 18th c. and first half 19thc. – Indig + Euros
Sea otter pelts, also land based pelts to Asia and Europe
By 1846, modern boundary of BCUSA established
In this period, Hudson’s Bay Co. important, had extended westward, up pacific coast, by sea and
over land, exploited fur resources of BC

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1849 – ownership of Vancouver – 10 year deal with Brit Gov’twould develop natural
resources and make settlement, mainly agriculture based
First governor or HBC on W. Coast was James DouglasEstablished first colony (1849)
Under HBCTried to develop coal deposits at Nanaimo – Indig ppl pointed it out
HBC tried to import Scot coal miners, some came with Families to Nanaimo
Relied on local labourIndig above ground, and Indig from Hawaii (Kanaka)
Established agri settlementsstrategy was to attract well to do farmers who purchase land from
company and develop estate farms – bring capital to region, and farm owners would sponsor farm
labourers to actually do work. Some set up near VictoriaFort Victoria
These farms didn’t work outLabour that Brit farmers brought in (at high expense) quickly lost
interest in farming there, went to California –esp bc of Gold Rush in Cali (1849)
Vancouver Island was a sleepy place, not developing as much as hoped
1958, gold discovered on mainland BC, mid-provinceRUSH! Into mainland
From few hundred pop., bloomed to 30 000 overnight, MEN
Most first arrivals came from California
Cheap to travel up coast, $15 for steamer ticket from San Fran to Victoria
Victoria was transformed overnightJames Douglas specified that all wanted to participate in
Gold, had to stop at Victoria to get license = boom town
People who came in were diversewhite Americans (who moved west to cali, then north to BC),
free blacks, Jews, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Chinese, ETC
Gold Rush began up-country on Fraser River, Mining towns happened there
In early 1860s, second rush to Caribou Country, a little further up – Barkerville became overnight
town – 80 000
Barkervillethere were attractionsThe Hurdy Gurdy girls came to entertain and pick their
When gold discovered on Mainland, it was not colonial territory, but claimed as British. Only
Vancouver island was a colony in 1858 - Douglas independently extended his authority over
mainland to regulate/police mining activities
Brit authorities learned of this long after the fact, but confirmed his measure and formally
established “colony of BC (did not include Vancouver Island)
In 1866, Vancouver and BC amalgamated, called BC

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BC joined confederation in 1871, deal with Ottawa and Victoria
Female newcomers quite small, but large indig pop. – Pop of newcomers overwhelmingly male
Men attracted to Gold – Could travel most easily – Single men looking for adventure and wealth
Some were married
Problem was local commentators, esp well-to-do, and people in Brit interested in Colonial
matters, were troubled by BC colony – didn’t think it was proper imperial projecttoo few
British peopleToo many Indig – how can we see colonial future here with Male pop?
Unusual world these men set up, shacks out in the bush, lived near other men, on a frontier in
backwoods, diverse backgrounds, and Indig
Different from other colonies in Eastern Canada, and life back home
Men had to establish own households in order to prosper and live securely – advice books and
pamphlets telling them how to proceed on frontier – you should make up a household with a
group of men (6, the best)could share choresif you spend all your time doing chores, no time
to pan for gold – can have specialists that are compensated
Mutual supportmen on frontier lived dangerous lifeDEATH, injury, especially at diggings
where dynamite. By forming a group, look out for one another
Homosocial culture on the Frontier
Letters: range of reactions to this world: some men felt lonely and isolated, missed families:
Some thrived – Hardy life! MANLY rawr!!!Liked being away from tensions of home, no
mother, no courting, call your own shots: described life inside householdsrivalriesMen
traded recipescompeted to make the best meals
Competitions: Flapjacksflipping contests
Developed great friendships, drinking buddies, spent money, got booooooze
Developed friendships because of mutual dependence – newspapers start, deaths, notices posted
by friends of deaths, want them remembered, I was at his side when he passed”
Caribou Cameron wrote a poem about his departed buddy in Caribou Country – In newspaper
VIOLENCE Douglas concerned about policing, but not easy – Police records/newspapers that
fighting was commonplace, nearly constant – drunk men, away from authority, heavy gambling –
got into fights
Homosexual activities? We know nothing. Cant find any evidence.. simply don’t know about
their sexual practicessome have speculated bc of absence of evidence, that people slept with
each other bc no women – it was ok where no women – also been suggested that white men may
have slept together bc alternative was worseAboriginal women :o but so prettyyyyy
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