R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

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had held office in 1875, in spite of all the opposition could do to dislodge
him. It is true, upon dissolution he was defeated, but he succumbed to the
demand of the country, not to that of an evenly divided legislature.

At last Mr. Elliott surrendered. A conference was arranged tetween
him and the leader of the opposition. The latter demanded, did not ask,
that the House should be dissolved on the opposition's terms. He offered
to permit certain money votes and a little necessary legislation to pass. When
tliat had been done there must l^e a dissolution and an appeal to the electo-
rate. The premier consented to the humiliating proposition, and an appeal
to the country resulted in the overthrow of the ministry. Their candidates
were mostly defeated. At Victoria, the premier and all his supporters were
beaten by decisive majorities. The other towns, and many of the country
districts, were equally pronounced in condemnation of the ministry and
when in September following the House was called together by the new
premier, Mr. Walkem, a mere handful of opponents, under the guidance of
Mr. Smithe, confronted him. Mr. Walkem had the wisdom to take Mr.
Humphreys into his cabinet and, strange to relate, that gentleman sat through
four sessions and scarcely uttered a word, nor did he introduce a single
measure. From a hard hitting, forcible debater he became silent as an oyster
and sat at his desk twirling his thumbs, or lounged through the lobby smok-
ing Havanas. The year 1878 is remarkable for the fact that during it two
sessions of the Legislature were held. The new House eagerly voted the
supplies and some needed legislation, and was prorogued after passing an
address to the Home Government calling attention to the continued failure
of the Dominion Government to carry out the terms of union.

The year 1878 also witnessed the return of the Liberal-Conservative


party to power at Ottawa, with Sir John Macclonald as Premier. Lord Duf-
ferin's term had expired and he had been succeeded by the Marquis of Lome,
now Duke of Argyle, whose wife is the Princess Louise, daughter of our
late Queen. One of the first official acts of the new Governor-General was
to acquaint himself with the nature of the grievances of the people of British
Columbia, and to set about devising a remedy. He found Sir John Macdon-
ald disposed to lend a willing ear to the complaints of the Columbians, but
the Premier was hampered by some of his colleagues, who feared to bring
down a measure providing for the payment of a large sum of money to
secure the fulfillment of the Carnarvon agreement. The petition of the
Walkem Government had been duly received at Ottawa; where it was pigeon-
holed by the Secretary of State. It reposed in its hiding place for more than
a year when, no answer or acknowledgment from the Imperial Government
having been received, an enquiry was set on foot and the precious document
was brought to light. Another petition was sent to the Governor-General
and was duly acknowledged. In the meanwhile the Fraser River route was
proclaimed as the chosen route for the railway, and in the spring of 1880
railway construction was commenced on the Mainland. The work was
vigorously prosecuted on the Pacific end; while the C. P. R. pushed ahead
on the other end. The heavy expenditure consequent upon railway con-
struction in the province pleased British Columbians generally, but a large
and influential party was still dissatisfied and pointed out that while the
Mainland had secured a railway the Island was still denied the section of
road promised by the Carnarvon terms. It is true that in 1876 Marcus
Smith had driven stakes near the naval hospital at Esquimalt. These stakes
he named the " terminal stakes of the transcontinental railway," which ,was
to have its terminal point there after traversing Yellowhead Pass and the
Bute Inlet country, but nothing further was done, although the people of
Victoria and Esquimalt were greatly elated by the stake-driving, which


seemed to be the beginning of the realization of their hopes. The stakes
remained where Smith drove them for many years and finally rotted away.

Lord Lorne and the Settlement Act.

In 1882 it was announced that the Governor-General and his royal con-
sort would visit the Province. Great preparations were made to receive
the distinguished visitors, who arrived by the cruiser Comus and landed at
Esquimalt. They were received with royal salutes and beneath triumphal
arches were presented with addresses that breathed the loftiest spirit of
loyalty and regard on the part of the inhabitants. They were escorted to
Victoria by a number of gentlemen outriders and a large cavalcade of mounted
citizens, preceded by bands of music. Prominent among the instruments
were the Scottish bagpipes played upon by a Scotchman from the estate of
the Duke of Argyle. Government House had been prepared for the recep-
tion of the august pair and their suite. The Marquis and the Princess re-
mained in the province for nearly three months. They were feted at every
place where they visited. All classes vied in paying their respects to the
Queen's daughter and her distinguished husband. Balls, dinners and at
homes and riding and driving parties were of frequent occurrence and all
classes were charmed by the simple and unaffected manner of the visitors
and the cordial and unconventional way in which every one who approached
them was received and entertained. The Princess in conversation always
referred to the Queen as " My Mother," and to the Marquis as " My Hus-

His Excellency before leaving Ottawa had informed himself as to the
unhappy relations of the province with the Dominion and although railway
construction on the Mainland had begun under favorable auspices the Car-
narvon Terms had not been carried out, and the |x>pular discontent on the
Island, though deep, was not loud as on the previous occasion. During the
six years that had elapsed since the visit of Lord Dufferin, Hon. Mr. Rich-


ards had retired from Government House and had been succeeded by Sen-
ator Cornwall as Lieutenant Governor. To the local government, of which
Hon. Mr. Beaven was Premier, Mr. Walkem having been elevated to the
Supreme Court Bench, the Marquis of Lome expressed a desire to mediate
and, if possible, restore the pleasant relations that existed between the fed-
eral and provincial governments during the first few years after the entrance
of the Province into the Confederation. The presence of a Conservative
Government at Ottawa was believed to be a happy augury for the success of
the peace negotiations, which were immediately opened. The local govern-
ment was found to be well disposed towards an arrangement that would end
the warfare, and the Ottawa Government expressed a similar disposition.
The Marquis of Lome had met the Hon. Robt. Dunsmuir, then member
of the local house for Nanaimo, and was greatly impressed with his earnest-
ness and ability. Mr. Dunsmaiir, besides, was a man of great wealth, and
possessed a progressive nature. He had discovered and developed the Wel-
lington coal mines and was an ardent advocate of the Carnarvon Terms.
Preliminaries having been arranged, the Governor-General addressed him-
self to Mr. Dunsmuir as the one man in the province who might be willing
to take the contract for building the line to Nanaimo. Mr. Dunsmuir recog-
nized the stupendous character of the undertaking. In his earlier inter-
views with the Marquis, he absolutely refused to have anything to do with
the contract. He had made his fortune, he said, after many years of toil
and hardship, and why should he imperil it by entering upon an enterprise
which presented many obstacles to success? The Marquis persisted, how-
ever, and at last, Mr. Dunsmuir consented to undertake the task, but only
upon terms that would be acceptable to Messrs. Crocker and Huntington,
of the Central Pacific syndicate of capitalists. Those gentlemen consented
to take half interest in the scheme on conditions that have since been de-
nounced as onerous and unparalleled in the history of any country, though
similar terms had been rejected by other capitalists in the United States


and Great Britain. The principal features of the concession were: Free
gift of nearly two millions of acres of land on the Island, extending from
the Straits of Fnca to Crown Mountain in the Comox district. This land
was to be free from taxation forever or until alienated by the Company.
The syndicate also asked for a cash subsidy of $750,cxx) to be paid upon
the completion of the line, which would be some eighty miles in length. The
land grant carried with it all minerals, fossils and substances of whatsoever
nature in, on, or under the land. It was contended at the time that the
grant carried with it the precious as well as the base metals. This point was
subsequently submitted to the Privy Council, by whom it was dedided
that the deed that conveyed the land not having mentioned the precious
metals they had not passed with the land. An old decision of Lord Bacon's
was quoted by the Privy Council to show that the royal metals (gold and
silver) should have been particularized, and that the words " all minerals
and substances of whatever nature " did not include the royal metals. Is
it not strange that nearly a quarter of a century after the agreement was
made with the syndicate a controversy has arisen over the water rights con-
tained in the belt, and that the Privy Council may again be appealed to before
a satisfactory settlement can be reached?

The Marquis of Lome and the Princess remained in the Province until
December, 1882, a period of about three months. They were delighted with
the climate, the people, the resources and the scenery. The Princess passed
much time in sketching the grand views that can be seen from Government
House and vicinity, while the Marquis visited the Interior and afterwards
took a spin on the Government steamer along the coasts of the Island and
the Mainland. The visitors opened agricultural fairs at Victoria, New
Westminster, and Kamloops and were prominent at several private func-
tions. They held a reception in the Parliament Buildings and gave many
dinner parties, winding up a season of gaiety with a ball at Government
House. It is worthy of remark that during the stay of the Marquis and the


Princess there was neither wind nor rain. Regular Queen's weather set in
with their coming and continued until after their departure, a happy augury
of a peaceful outcome of negotiations with both governments.

Upon returning to Ottawa the Marquis laid before the Government a
draft of the treaty of peace which he had provisionally arranged at Victoria.
His Excellency found the Ottawa Government anxious for a settlement, and
willing to do all in their power to close the breach; but they could not see
how the cash gift of $750,000 could be explained to the satisfaction of their
followers. The Smithe Government had in the meanwhile come into power
at Victoria, and after long negotiations an arrangement was made which
it was believed could be carried through both Parliaments. It was agreed
that in consideration of a gift of $750,000 the Province should cede to the
Dominion Government two million acres of land on the Island, and in addi-
tion convey three million five hundred thousand acres in rectangular blocks
in the Peace River country in the northeast corner of the Province and
adjacent to the Northwest territory. The tract was valued then at 22 cents
per acre, the Dominion Government, in return for these concessions, to se-
cure the construction of the Island railway, and with Imperial assistance to
complete the dry-dock at Esquimalt. This dry-dock, it must be stated, had
been commenced as a provincial undertaking in 1874, but work had been
suspended for want of funds. The late Sir Alexander Campbell, the Min-
ister of Justice of the Dominion cabinet, came to Victoria and had many
interviews with Mr. Smithe and his colleagues. The Settlement Act was
framed at last on the basis above stated. At their succeeding sessions the
respective parliaments ratified the agreements and both railway and dry-
dock were completed in due course.

It would be interesting to know at what figure the Dominion Govern-
ment now would hold the three million five hundred thousand acres of land
that were conveyed to them under the Settlement Act and which in 1884
were deemed to be of so little importance that 22 cents an acre were consid-


ered an extreme value. The opposition at Ottawa, when discussing the Act,
declared that the lands were perfectly valueless, being part of the " sea of
mountains " which Mr. Blake had eloquently but incorrectly named in his
speech, when arguing against the admission of British Columbia on the
original terms. In the British Columbia Legislature, the opposition pro-
tested against the grant on the ground that they were of immense prospective
value. If the land is arable its present value to-day is $5 , per acre, or
$17,500,000 for the whole tract, a sum sufficient to pay the debt of the
Province and leave a handsome surplus for public improvements.

The Settlement Act having been finally passed by the Ottawa and Vic-
toria Parliaments both governments proceeded to carry out its provisions in
good faith. The island railway was built by Mr. Dunsmuir and his asso-
ciates within the time set for its completion. The contract for the comple-
tion of the Esquimau dry-dock was awarded in 1885 to Larkin & Connolly,
and the work was finished in 1888, in a very satisfactory manner, the Im-
perial Government sharing the cost of the construction with the Dominion
Government in consideration of Her Majesty's ships being docked free of
charge. The building of these works inspired the people of the island with
confidence in the future of the capital city. Population poured in, business
advanced, and real estate increased in value, and numerous buildings of an
important character were undertaken. The period from 1886 to 1892 was
one of unexampled prosperity for the inhabitants in and about Victoria, and
generally on Vancouver Island and throughout the province. In 1889 a land
boom set in, and lasted for about three years. Property continued to rise,
and many sales were effected that gratified buyers and sellers. Business of
the ports as indicated by the customs house was doubled and every branch
of industry showed a vast improvement over previous years. The outlook
was favorable everywhere, and the construction of a system of electric tram-
ways through the streets of Vancouver and Victoria, with connecting lines
to the naval station at-Esquimalt and New Westminster contributed largely


to the general prosperity and added to the value of realty, increasing public
confidence in the stability and permanency of the towns and cities.

Advent of the C. P. R.

In 1886 the C. P. R. reached Port Moody and a considerable town
sprang up at that place which proved, however, to be only a temporary ter-
minus. In July, 1886, the townsite of Vancouver was swept as clean as
the back of a man's hand by a fierce fire which totally destroyed nearly every
building there. In two hours the flourishing young town was reduced to a
pile of hot ashes and glowing embers. But the pluck of the people was un-
daunted. Fire might destroy their town, but it could not burn out their
faith in its destiny. Before the ruins had cooled — at daylight next morn-
ing, in fact — two new buildings were in course of erection, and before night-
fall lots for the accommodation of half a dozen other buildings were being
cleared of ruins. So the work of reconstruction went on, till in the course
of a few weeks there was scarcely a scar caused by the late conflagration

In the local legislature during the session of 1887 the provincial gov-
ernment introduced a bill to authorize the subsidizing of the C. P. R. with
6,000 acres of crown lands in consideration of their extending their line to
Vancouver and making that city the final termius of the road. The proposi-
tion was vigorously combated. It was argued that the company in its own
interests must bring the road to Vancouver without a subsidy. The contest
was long and bitter, but the Government triumphed with the modest majority
of three, and the bill was passed. The acres conveyed to the company by
the bill are now estimated to be worth several millions of dollars. Besides
the government concession the railway company demanded and received one-
third of the land owned by the syndicate of Victorians who had bought much
of the_ townsite at bottom prices and were holding the lots for an enormous
advance on cost price in anticipation of railway extension. The company


lost no time in earning their subsidies and in May, 1887, the scream of a
locomotive whistle announced the arrival of the first through train from
Montreal. The rejoicing of the Vancouverians was great, and the popular
demonstrations at the Terminal city were such as befitted the great occasion.
But while Vancouver rejoiced the people of Port Moody mourned in sack-
cloth and ashes over the destruction of their hopes and the certain decay of
their little town, which had just begun to grow, when it was decided to carry
the line eleven miles further down the inlet.

Later Politics.

The political changes since the passing of the Settlement Act have been
many. Mr. Smithe held office from 1883 to 1887, when he died, just after
carrying the country at the general elections. A. E. B. Davie succeeded him
as Premier, and he died two years and three months later. John Robson
came after A. E. B. Davie as Premier, in 1889, and he died in London, Eng-
land, in 1892. Theodore Davie was the next Premier. In March, 1895,
he resigned, having been appointed Chief Justice of British Q)lumbia in place
of Sir Matthew Baillie Beghie, who had died a short time before. Dur-
ing the administration of Hon. Theodore Davie, and while Hon. Edgar
Dewdney was Lieutenant Governor the magnificent buildings at James Bay
were begun, and during the administration of Hon. Mr. Turner, who suc-
ceeded Mr. Davie as Premier, the beautiful pile was completed and opened
with great pomp and ceremony by Lieutenant Governor Mclnnes. Mr.
Davie did not long enjoy his judicial honors, for he died in 1898 after an
illness of a few months' duration.

In the fall of 1898 a remiarkable political event startled the province and
the Dominion. Lieutenant Governor Mclnnes dismissed the Turner Gov-
ernment while the result of the general elections was still in doubt, and while
two seats remained to be heard from. Then he called on the former Premier,
Mr. Beaven, to form a government; but after a week of industrious effort,


that gentleman announced his inability to form a cabinet, and Mr. C. A.
Semlin, leader of the opposition in the previous house, was asked to try
his hand at cabinet making. Mr. Semlin succeeded in forming a govern-
ment, and the house met the following winter, with Mr. Joseph Martin hold-
ing the portfolio of Attorney General. In July, 1899, Mr. Martin resigned
from the cabinet at the request of the Premier, and the next session he went
into opposition. The Semlin government was defeated by a majority of
one in the session of 1900, and the Governor just before prorogation re-
quested Mr. Martin to form a ministry. Mr. Martin consented, although
he had no following in the House. When the Lieutenant Governor entered
the chamber to prorogue it, every member with the exception of Mr. Martin
rose and left the hall and the speech from the throne was read to empty
benches, Mr. Martin alone remaining. The scene was unequalled in a Brit-
ish legislature. It was an extreme measure, but it was deemed necessary to
mark popular disapprobation of the course of the Lieutenant Governor in
calling upon a gentleman with not one political friend in the House. After
prorogation Mr. Martin formed a government of five, only one of whom had
had any political experience and that in another province. An appeal to
the country followed a few months later, and jyir. Martin was hopelessly
defeated. Mr. James Dunsmuir was then requested to form a government.
He succeeded in getting a ministry together and with a large majority of
the elected members, signed a round robin addressed to the Governor General
asking him to remove Mr. Mclnnes from office in consequence of his un-
constitutional act in calling upon Mr. Martin to form a government. The
Lieutenant Governor was dismissed from office on the 21st of June, 1900.
He was succeeded by Sir Henri Joly de Lotbiniere. After the session of
1902, Mr. Dunsmuir resigned and the Lieutenant Governor called upon Col.
Prior, who, meanwhile, had resigned from the Dominion House of Com-
mons, to form a government. Col. Prior having been elected to fill a vacancy
in the Victoria city representation caused by the retirement of Mr. Turner.


He succeeded in forming a ministry, but after a turbulent session he was
dismissed from office by the Lieutenant Governor. Hon. R. McBride was
next asked to form a government. By this time party Hnes had been de-
cided upon for the first time in provincial politics. Mr. McBride formed a
Gjnservative Government, and was returned to the house with a working
majority. He and his ministers are still in power.



The history of the Mainland of British Columbia began with the dis-
covery of gold in 1857. Prior to that it was part of the Indian Territory
of British North America, an area of uncertain metes and bounds over which
the Hudson's Bay Company had exclusive trading rights, which had been
exercised by that corporation in what is now the province of British Colum-
bia since the year 1821, the date of the union of the rival fur companies.
Shortly after this the company surrendered the grant of 1821 to the Imperial
Crown, and obtained a new crown grant on the 30th of May, 1838, of the
exclusive trade with the Indians of all those parts of North America to the
northward of the lands and territories belonging to the United States of
America, not forming part of any British provinces or of any lands or terri-
tories belonging to the United States or to any European government or
power, but subject to certain provisions. These provisions referred to the
protection of the Indians — ^the regulation of the liquor traffic and the moral
and religious improvement of the natives, to certain regulations as to trade
monopoly by the company, to the right of the Crown to the establishment of
colonies or provinces, or the annexation of any part of the territory to exist-
ing provinces or colonies, or for the erection of any form of civil government
that the Crown might deem necessary 6r desirable ; and also the power of
the Crown to revoke the whole or any part of the Hudson's Bay Company
grant within the territory designated.

In accordance with the rights under the charter in question the com-
pany had established forts or trading posts at a number of points in the in-
terior and on the coast of the mainland. Among these were: Alexandria


and Chilcotin in 1821, Babine in 1822, Langley in 1827, (old) Fort Simp-
son in 1831, Simpson in 1834, Dease in 1838, Stickine about the same time,
Hope in 1847 ^"^ Yale in 1848. Kamloops and a number of other posts
had been established prior to that by the Northwest Company, which were
acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company by the terms of the union in 1821.
Through all this vast territory the Company had exercised practical and un-
disputed sovereignty, and established a wonderful system of communication,
whereby the product of the chase in furs obtained by purchase from the In-
dians were conveyed to the company's depots for final export to Lx)ndon by
ships, and the necessary supplies for trading purposes and the use of the
servants of the company were returned. With the discovery of gold and the
subsequent rush of the miners from all parts of the world the sovereignty of
the Hudson's Bay Company came suddenly to an end, and the crown exer-
cised its power to revoke the charter of rights to the company, and to estab-
lish colonies, and erect civil government throughout their extent. In 1849,
the Crown had erected Vancouver Island into a colony, with provision for at
least a semblance of government, although the grant of the island to the com-

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 13 of 79)