R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

. (page 24 of 79)
Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 24 of 79)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

conspicuous ability would doubtless have been recognized. Born in 1822,
twice married, made a Q. C. in 1863, always a leader at the bar, and a promi-
nent Provincial Bencher, he died within recent years. Other men with no
greater ability perhaps took a more prominent part in provincial life than he
did, but none have earned a higher place in the esteem of the people of
British Columbia as an able and honorable man.



Lieutenant-Governor Cornwall followed. The son of an English clergy-
man, he was born in 1839 at Ashcroft, Gloucestershire, England; was educated
in and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, as B. A. in 1856; called
to the bar in 1862; came to British Columbia in the same year; was admitted
to the bar here in 1865 ; was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1864-65,
and was a member of that body at the time the terms of Confederation were
agreed upon ; was made a senator in that year and continued to sit as a sup-
porter of Sir John Macdonald until his appointment as Lieutenant-Governor
in 1881; was appointed a judge of the County Court of Cariboo in 1889;
married in 1871 the daughter of Rev. A. G. Pemberton, rector of Kensal
Green, London, England. His term of office expired in 1886, just after the
C. P. R. had been completed to the coast and was in full operation;


Upon the retirement of Cornwall, another pioneer of the province came
to the front as Lieutenant-Governor in the person of the Hon. Hugh Nelson,
than whom as a pioneer none was better known or appreciated. He was the
son of a linen manufacturer, Robert Nelson, of Larne, County Antrim, Ire-
land, and was born in 1830; came to the province in 1858 by way of Cali-
fornia, whither he had gone in 1854. He settled in Yale as a merchant and
was also interested in the express business under the well known firm name
of Dietz & Nelson, running an express line from Victoria as far as Yale.
His business prospering, he engaged in many other enterprises, notable among
which was his successful venture as a partner in the lumbering firm of Moody,
Dietz & Nelson, Moody ville, now opposite the city of Vancouver, where a
large lumbering business was carried on for many years. As might be ex-
pected, he early took an interest in public affairs. He was a member of the
famous Yale Convention, called to further the interests of Confederation,
and of the last Legislative Assembly of the colony of British Columbia.


Immediately after Confederation he was elected to represent New West-
minster district in the House of Commons and continued to do so until the
year 1879, when he was appointed to the Senate. He retired from business
altogether in 1882, and was married in 1885 to Emily, daughter of J. B.
Stanton, of the civil service of Canada, who survived him.

Hon. E. Dewdney.

Mr. Nelson's successor was the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, C. E., another
prominent pioneer of the province, who came to British Columbia in 1859.
In the early days he was identified with various mining enterprises in Cariboo
and elsewhere, and built the well known Dewdney Trail, which penetrates
the province to its eastern boundary. He first sat for Kootenay in the Leg-
islative Assembly of British Columbia in 1868-69, ^"^ ^^ the House of Com-
mons from 1872-79, when he was appointed Indian Commissioner; and again
for East Assiniboia from September 12, 1888, until November, 1892. He
was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territory, 3rd Decem-
ber, 1 88 1, until 3rd July, 1888. He was a member of the Privy Council,
Minister of the Interior and ex-officio Superintendent-General of Indian
Affairs, 3rd August, 1888, to 2nd November, 1892, when he became Lieu-

Hon. T. R. McInnes.

In 1896 the defeat of the Liberal-Conservative administration resulted
in the appointment of a Liberal to the office of Lieutenant-Governor in the
person of the Hon. T. R. McInnes, M. D. This was followed soon after by
the general elections in the province. The events which grew out of the
appointment of Senator McInnes to office really form a sort of turning point
in the political history of British Columbia, and as they are recent, are within
the memory of almost every person in the province. Political development
had reached the point where there was a parting of the ways between new
and old conditions. Many new-comers, who had begun to take a prominent


interest in public affairs had created an atmosphere wholly different from
that of the past. That element was assisted and materially strengthened by
the members of the party that had been opposed to the administration of the
Hon. J. H. Turner, and several other administrations of which his was the
logical successor. There was also the feeling of the Mainland as against
the Island of Vancouver, which had long protested against what was alleged
to be the undue political influence and ascendancy of the Island in considera-
tion of its limited area and population, as compared with those of the Main-
land. It is not possible in limited space to go fully into all the circumstances
of the situation at that time, which was peculiarly of a transitionary char-
acter. Mr. Joseph Martin, only recently come to the province from Mani-
toba, where he had been a prominent figure and a political factor of more
than ordinary force, stepped into his natural position of the leader of the
new and disturbing forces, and gave expression in a forcible and rather ex-
plosive way to their views. The history of the remarkable episodes which
followed is given impartially here. Briefly, after the general election of
1898 the result was very much in doubt, with Cassiar to hear from. In the
ordinary way the Premier of the day would have been permitted to meet
the Legislature and determine his strength on the floor of the House. Lieu-
tenant-Governor Mclnnes took the extraordinary course of dismissing the
Turner Ministry on the grounds that it had ceased to possess his confidence.
He, however, did a more remarkable thing still, in calling upon Mr. Robert
Beaven, who was not in the Legislature, and had been a defeated candidate
at the general election, to form a government. In fact, at that time Mr.
Beaven, though a skilful parliamentarian and a man of long political experi-
ence, had no political status so far as an existing party was concerned, and
had no following. He was not even allied with the existing recognized op-
position, of which Mr. C. A. Semlin was the acknowledged leader. Mr.
Beaven very naturally failed to get a ministry together and then the Lieu-
tenant-Governor turned to Mr. Semlin. The latter selected, among others,


Mr. MArtin, who has been described as the " stormy petrel " of Canadian
poh'tics, as his Attorney-General, and Mr. F. C. Cotton, editor of the News-
Advertiser, Vancouver, as his Finance Minister, two of the ablest public men
of the province, but temperamentally and in their methods very unlike. It
was not long before they were at cross purposes and in strong antagonism to
each other. It was simply a question of time as to which of the two should
remain in the cabinet to the exclusion of the other, and the rashness and
open indiscretion of the Attorney-General furnished the opportunity for Mr.
Cotton to demand his resignation. As a result of a party caucus, Mr. Martin
stepped out and went into active and effective opposition to the Government.
With a small majority to start with, the Government, at the following meet-
ing of the Legislature, found itself practically in power by the vote of the
Speaker. It struggled along for a time, but, through the defection of Mr.
Prentice, who afterwards became Finance Minister in the Dunsmuir Govern-
ment, Mr. Semi in was defeated upon a vote of want of confidence, by which
a crisis was brought about. Subsequently, however, a compromise was ef-
fected by the Premier with some members of the opposition for their sup-
port, and he was enabled to advise his Honor that he could command the
support of a majority of the members of the House. Contrary to Consti-
tutional precedent, the Lieutenant-Governor refused to be further advised by
the Semlin Ministry, whose dismissal followed immediately. A second time
the Governor did a remarkable thing. He called in Mr. Martin, who stood
absolutely alone in the House, as Premier. Prorogation under unusual and
somewhat boisterous circumstances, took place, and the Premier proceeded to
form his ministry, which he did by selecting four men as colleagues who
were not in politics, had never had a seat in the Legislature, and were prac-
tically unknown outside of their respective places of abode. As was re-
marked on more than one occasion, the procedure followed was making a
travesty of constitutional government. As soon as the voter's list could be
made in readiness, general elections were held. There was a general uncer-


tainty as to the political lines upon which many of the members returned, but
Mr. Martin could not count more than seven out of the number. His Honor,
having acted upon his own responsibility in dismissing the Semlin Govern-
ment and calling into existence a Government to succeed it, and not having
been sustained by the country in the course pursued, his own retirement was
inevitable. In other words, in departing from well understood constitutional
methods, he took his official life in his hand. His dismissal came almost
immediately from Ottawa, whereupon he became once more plain Dr. Mc-
Innes, being neither Lieutenant-Governor nor Senator. He lived in retire-
ment afterwards in Vancouver, and died four years later.

Dr. Mclnnes, like his predecessors, was a pioneer in the province, having
moved from Dresden, Ontario, in 1874, where he practiced medicine. While
continuing in medicine, he began to take an interest in public affairs almost
immediately after his arrival. He was Mayor of New Westminster from
1876-78, and elected for the district for the House of Commons in 1878 as
a supporter of Sir John Macdonald. He was called to the Senate in 1881,
in which body he was prominent in debate in all matters pertaining to British
Columbia. He married in 1865, the relict of the late George M. Webster,
Dresden, Ontario, who still survives him. He is succeeded in public life by
his eldest son, Hon. W. W. B. Mclnnes, Commissioner of Yukon, who has
occupied a seat in the Dominion House of Commons, also in the local Leg-
islature and was for a time a member of the Prior administration.

Sir Henri Joly de Lotbiniere.

By a somewhat peculiar coincidence, the Hon. Sir Henri Gustave Joly
de Lotbiniere, who had been called upon to form an administration in Quebec
at the time Lieutenant-Governor Letellier had dismissed the De Boucherville

Government in 1878, succeeded Governor Mclnnes in somewhat similar cir-
cumstances. As a statesman to whose career and personality attaches special


interest, I beg to reproduce here a sketch of Sir Henri's Hfe which appears
in Morgan's " Canadian Men and Women of the Time,"

" Hon. Sir Henri Gustave Joly de Lotbiniere, statesman, is the eldest
son of the late Gaspard Pierre Gustave Joly, a Huguenot native of France,
who became Seigneur de Lotbiniere by his marriage with Julie Christine
Chartier de Lotbiniere, granddaughter of the last Marquis de Lotbiniere,
engineer-in-chief of New France. Born in France, December 5, 1829, he
was educated at the Keller School, Paris, in company with the late Mr. Wad-
dington, the French Minister. Coming to Canada, he devoted himself to
the study of law and was called to the Quebec bar, 1855. He practiced his
profession in the city and district of Quebec, and was created a Q. C. 1878.
A Liberal politically, he was returned in tliat interest to the Canadian Assem-
bly, general election, 1861, as the representative of the county of Lotbiniere.
He took a prominent part in the debates on the Confederation of the provinces,
1865-66, joining Messrs. Dorion; Holton, Huntington and other Liberal
leaders from Lower Canada, in opposition to that measure. In the first
election for the United Provinces, 1867, he was returned to the House of
Commons and to the Provincial Assembly. He remained a member of both
these bodies until 1874, when at the abolition of dual representation he elected
to remain in the local Legislature. He led the opposition in the assembly
against the De Boucher ville Government until March, 1878, when, on the
dismissal of his ministers by Lieutenant-Governor Letellier, he (Mr. Joly)
was called to the Premiership. While at the head of the Government, he
initiated and carried out a vigorous policy of retrenchment, as well as of
political purity. The salaries of the ministers and the indemnity of members
of the Legislature were reduced. An effort was made to abolish the Legis-
lative Council and all unnecessary outlays were cut off. Defeated in the
House, 1879, he resigned, and from that time up to 1883, was again the leader
of the opposition. In 1885, he retired from public life in consequence of his
disapproval of the course of the Liberal party and on the Riel question. He


re-appeared on the surface, June, 1893, as a delegate to the Reform Con-
vention at Ottawa, and was then elected vice-chairman of that important
gathering. Later, in February, 1894, he undertook a mission of peace and
good-will to the Province of Ontario, to dispel the prejudice existing there
against the people of the Province of Quebec, and to bring about a better
feeling between the two provinces. In February, 1895, 'i" response to a
general call from his party, he agreed to return to public life, and from that
time took an active part in the agitation which led to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's
success at the polls at the general election, 1896. During the contest he was
returned to the House of Commons for Portneuf. On the formation of the
new administration at Ottawa, he was offered and accepted the office of Con-
troller of Inland Revenue. He became a Privy Councillor with the title of
Minister of Inland Revenue, June 30, 1897. He is an Honorary D. C. L. of
Lennoxville University (1887), an LL. D. of Queen's University (1894),
and in acknowledgment of his public services received the K. C. M. G. from
Her Majesty, May, 1895. He declined a seat in the Senate in 1874, and
again in 1877. In the latter year he also declined a seat, with the office of
Minister of Agriculture, in the Mackenzie administration. Sir Henri is
known all over the continent for his interest in agriculture, horticulture and
forestry, having written and spoken frequently on these subjects.

" During the existence of the Imperial Federation League, he gave the
scheme his entire support, and he is now as warmly inclined towards the
British Empire League. He is also connected with the United Empire Loy-
alist Association. In religious belief he is a member of the Church of Eng-
land, and has served as a delegate to the diocesan and provincial synods of
the Church. In 1888 he was authorized by the Quebec Legislature to add
de Lotbiniere, his mother's name, to that of Joly. He married in 1856, Mar-
garette Josepha, daughter of the late Hammond Gowen, of Quebec. Their
eldest son, Edmund, adopted the legal profession. His two other sons are


in the British Army, and are now and have been for some time, employed as
officers in India."

Sir Henri, during the term of his office, now coming to a close, has
endeared himself to all classes, and won the respect and esteem of those with
whom he has come into contact. He has taken a keen interest in everything
pertaining to the welfare of the province.




The future of British Columbia, more than that of any other province
of Canada, is based upon its material resources. The first, best known and
the greatest of these is undoubtedly that of mining. In preceding chapters
details have been given of the discovery of placer gold, and the rush of popu-
lation which accompanied it. How recent, however, is the knowledge of
mineral wealth existing on the Northwest coast, may be judged from the fact
that Robert Greenhow, who in 1844 published a book dealing with the his-
torical basis of the Oregon Boundary dispute, not then settled, wrote as fol-
lows : " Oregon, indeed, contains land in small detached portions which may
afford to the industrious cultivator the means of subsistence, and, also per-
haps, in time, of procuring some foreign luxuries ; but it produces no precious
metals, no opium, no cotton, no rice, no sugar, no coffee ; nor is it, like India,
inhabited by a numerous population, who may be easily forced to labor for
the benefit of the few. With regard to commerce, it offers no great advan-
tages, present or immediately prospective. It contains no harbor in which
articles of merchandise from other countries will probably at any future period
be deposited for re-exportation; while the extreme irregularity of its surface
and the obstruction to the navigation of its rivers, the removal of which is
hopeless, forbid all expectation that the productions of China, or any other
country bordering on the Pacific, will ever be transported across Oregon to
the Atlantic regions of the continent."

Oregon, as it was then known, was of indefinite extent, including the
whole of the Pacific coast, north of California, as far as Alaska; containing
within its limits what are now the states of Oregon and Washington and


the Province of British Columbia, exclusive of New Caledonia, which lay at
the northeast corner, and was indisputably British territory.

Greenhow was then, probably, the best informed man on the subject in
America, and was arguing that possession of this vast country, except for po-
litical reasons, was of no particular advantage to either the United States or
Great Britain. This was the opinion expressed by the majority of writers
on the subject of the Oregon territory, and was undoubtedly based on the
best information available.

At that time the Hudson's Bay , Company, although their officials had
prospected the whole of the territory for furs, had not observed mineral indi-
cations sufficient to justify any other conclusions. How greatly mistaken
Greenhow was in the statement that there were " no precious metals " it is
not necessary to comment upon, at the time, since the whole of the former
Oregon territory has been demonstrated to be richly mineralized, and is, and
has been producing a vast amount of mineral wealth.

David Douglas, the gifted scientist, who botanized the country in the
early twenties, discovered a deposit of lead-silver, in what is now known as
the Blue-Bell mine, on Kootenay Lake, from which it is alleged the Indians
used to get a supply of lead with which to make bullets.

Early History of Mining.

Just how and where gold was first discovered in British Columbia is not
easy to state with precision. The early discoveries of gold in small quanti-
ties range between the years 1850 and 1857. In 1850 specimens came from
Vancouver Island and Queen Charlotte Islands. An incipient mining boom
took place at Queen Charlotte Islands in 185 1 and 1852. Dr. Dawson says
that from one little pocket or seam of gold in Gold Harbor, Moresby Island,
between $20,000 and $75,000 were taken, or were reported to have been taken.
It is also stated by others that more was lost in the harbor in the operation
of mining than was recovered. However much or little, the " find " ended


there. About the same time Indians from up the Skeena River brought
pieces of gold to the Hudson's Bay Company's fort, but the several expedi-
tions to find it in place met with failure.

In the interior, gold was found in the Natchez Pass and Similkameen as
early as 1852, and in 1854 Colville Indians were known to have had nuggets
in their possession. It is stated in Bancroft that Chief Trader McLean pro-
cured gold dust from Indians near Kamloops in 1852. Various authorities
place the first finds at various places. However, between 1855 and 1857,
discoveries were made on the Thompson, on the Fraser, on the Columbia and
at Colville, and the news of these discoveries, together with the despatches of
Governor Douglas soon attracted attention to British Columbia as a possible
gold field. Exploiting for gold was stimulated by the California excite-
ment, and the discovery of any new field was sure to produce a rush. Sev-
eral parties prospected and worked on the Fraser and Thompson Rivers in
1857 with good success, and the news caused the Fraser River excitement,
many of the participants in which are still living.

The story has already been told of the rush of 1858 to the Fraser
River, and the subsequent discovery of immensely rich placers in the Cariboo
country. It was the discovery and exploitation of this gold that gave popu-
lation and permanency to the Colony of British Columbia, and converted
it from a fur-bearing preserve for the Hudson's Bay Company, to a regularly
constituted and politically organized British domain.

Up to 1866, the principal operations were confined to Caribooj but
there were in the meantime, several lesser excitements, notably the discovery
of rich placer deposits in Similkameen, at Rock Creek, Boundary Creek and
on Wild Horse Creek in the Kootenay district, in the extreme southeast-
ern part of the province. Then the Leech River excitement in 1864, in the
southern part of Vancouver Island. And again the Big Bend excitement of
1865. The dqDOsits of the last named place were found to be rich, but
the inaccessibility of the region, the total lack of facilities for bringing in


provisions, and the great hardships consequent upon prospecting and mining
in this district, proved too great for continued success, and the excitement
quickly subsided. It is quite probable, however, that the Big Bend country
will soon again excite the interest of miners and prove a rich field for them.

Shortly after the discovery of Cariboo gold mines, the restless pros-
pector began pushing his investigations further North, and in 1869, the
Omineca Country was reached, where an excitement of not inconsiderable
dimensions took place and numbers rushed in. These mines were fairly
remunerative for a time, and have been more or less operated ever
since, but in 1872 the rich northern mines of the Cassiar district, at the
head waters of the Dease, were brought to light, and the second most notable
mining epoch was effected. Out of this district, some five or six millions of
dollars in gold were taken. True to his instinct, after the first richness
of the Cassiar creeks was exhausted, the prospector pushed further and
further North, until finally in 1880 gold was found in paying quantities in
the tributaries of the Yukon.

In 1897, rich discoveries of gold having been made in the tributaries
of the Yukon, in .the vicinity of where Dawson City now is, another memor-^
abh rush took place, and one which m.ust, in historical importance, rank
next to the Cariboo excitement. The Yukon has been a rich fteld, and has
yielded up annually large quantities of. gold ever since.

Attention having been directed to the Northern country, it was exten-
sively prospected, an,d other mining camps were .opened ; up^ with more
or less success. One of these was just within the Northern boundaries of
British Colun;ibia, in Atlin District, which has yielded from $500,000 to
$1,000,000 a year since 18^..

In 1885, Granite Creek, a tributary of l^he ,Sirnilkameen, afforded evi-
dence of rich placers, and a small -''rush " occurred, and although not so
rich as was reported at fi,rst, it has ever since occnipied the attention of pros-
pectors. , , ,;


Coal, still the predominant wealth producer in minerals in this province,
was known to exist at a much earlier period than was gold. It was dis-
covered at Fort Rupert in 1835, '^"^ ^^^^ "^^^' ^" small quantities. The
Indians are credited with making its existence known to the whites, the cir-
cumstances being ascribed to an accident. Some development work was done
at Fort Rupert by the Hudson's Bay Company, but the mines there were
abandoned in 185 1 for those at Nanaimo, which were discovered in a man-
ner somewhat similar to those at Fort Rupert. The Indians had observed
a blacksmith using coal, and had informed him that there was plenty of such
black stone at Nanaimo, which, upon investigation, proved to be true. The

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 24 of 79)