In the late 1800s, the Parliaments of British Columbia and Canada voted in racist laws against the Chinese minority. One institution that stood against them was the Canadian Senate. In the late 1800s, the Parliaments of British Columbia and Canada voted in racist laws against the Chinese minority. One institution that stood against them was the Canadian Senate. Few elected politicians at that time were willing to oppose the racist views of the white majority. When British Columbia was governed by the Honorable Hudson Bay Company, institutional racism was not tolerated. But in 1871 British Columbia became a full democracy in which the majority could make the rules for the minority. In the very first Parliament, the BC Legislature made it illegal for Chinese and native people to vote. When the Canadian Parliament passed the Chinese Head Tax the Canadian Senate revolted. Senator William Macdonald, former Hudson Bay Company man, called it ‘a diabolical Bill with not a shadow of justice or right on its side’. Senator Willliam Almon said, ‘how will we say there is a dividing line between Canada and the United States? Can we any longer point with pride to our flag and say that under that emblem all men… are equally free?’ When the legislation was sent to the Senate, Robert Haythorne said ‘it is difficult to amend a Bill based on a wrong principle, and the principle is a bad and cruel one.’ Senator James Dever contrasted Canada with the United States and said he could not understand how Canada could ‘prohibit strangers from our hospitable shore because they are a different colour and have a different language’. Senator Richard Scott said ‘it is so repugnant… one can hardly discuss it in a proper frame of mind’. The Parliaments ultimately… Read More »First Nations Architecture, Building, & Culture

First Nations Architecture, Building, & Culture

Chinook Wawa is linked with the history of British Columbia. Chinook Wawa is linked with the history of British Columbia. We might even call one form of it British Columbian. James Cook and his midshipman George Vancouver sojourned at Nootka Sound. Their Nuuchahnulth word lists became a Nootka Jargon that spread through the Maritime Fur Trade. Supported by Chief Concomly and the Chinook Nation, Fort George became the Canadian depot for Columbia furs. French-speaking traders married into Chinook families and learned a Broken Chinook. Proto-British Columbia Britain granted governmental powers to the Hudson Bay Company, although First Nations remained sovereign. Vancouver became the capital of Columbia, or proto British Columbia. Governor John McLoughlin’s son married the daughter of Chief Concomly. It may have been after the move to Vancouver that Broken Chinook, Nootka Jargon, French and other languages combined to form Chinook Wawa. No one had described or named the new language at Fort George. The first record of Wawa was among the mixed race families of Vancouver. Their schoolteacher made the earliest wordlist; Sunday School was conducted in Wawa. The Governor, his officers and workers used it among the thirty-five ethnic groups in multicultural Vancouver. Priests reached Vancouver and compiled the first dictionary. They noted the fathers spoke French, but mothers and children spoke only Wawa. And people who came to Vancouver for trade spread it widely. Aboriginal eyewitnesses confirmed the language arose from the Hudson Bay Company milieu. The 1849 Border Treaty shocked all; it gave away Columbia to the United States. Governor James Douglas led a caravan to his new capital, Victoria The US waged a dozen wars against native people, annulled their mixed marriages and banned black and Hawaiian people. Many went north and established a new Vancouver and a new… Read More »Can You Speak British Columbian?

Can You Speak British Columbian?

British Columbia has two systems of government – parliamentary and municipal Parliamentary is rooted in law making, Municipal in law keeping. Legislative versus Judicial. These forms are used around the world but descend from the Kingdom of Wessex, of Alfred the Great who unified England. Wessex was divided into Shires governed by a Shire Reeve or Sheriff, which retains its law and order connotation. Each Shire was divided into ‘Hundreds’; an area of one hundred households. Each Hundred had a Court of property owners that met monthly. Each Hundred Court had a Reeve to implement the Court’s decisions. Two Knights of each Hundred were called by the Sheriff annually to set the ‘Farm’, or food rent, from which our word comes. As population grew and towns evolved, so did the governance model. Our municipal governments come from the Hundred Court – a Reeve with a Council of property owners. Many British Columbian Mayors were called Reeves. And the requirement for Council Members to own property only ended in 1973. The French invaded England and William the Conqueror laid siege to London, but his first legislative act granted it a Charter of Liberties in return for loyalty. Between his son King Henry First and Henry Third, they raised money and weakened Shire landowners by granting hundreds of towns Royal Charters, making them Boroughs. Borough: a town with a wall, a charter, and no feudal overlord Towns might have fences but Borough meant ‘settlement with a wall’. Borough Charters granted self government, but most importantly, access to the Royal Courts, the heavy volume leading to our Common Law. A resident of a Borough, called a Burgess, was a freeman, with no feudal overlord. Boroughs had Councillors, Aldermen and a Reeve who Kept the King’s Peace. Our city… Read More »Roots of Government

Roots of Government

This video is about the formative time before we were officially named British Columbia. Columbia, or Proto British Columbia, was the direct precursor of our province and its tragic story haunted the important figures of our early history. Its story contains important lessons and inspiration for our future. The North West Company established the first long-term presence on the West Coast. It created two administrative districts called New Caledonia in the north, run from Fort St. James and Columbia in the south, run from Fort George (now called Astoria). When the North West Company was taken over by the Honorable Hudson Bay Company these territories were amalgamated into one called Columbia. Because the HBC was given the powers of government it created its new capital in Vancouver (now in Washington State). This form of government is called a Company State, exactly like the East India Company that governed India. For over two decades the HBC created a multicultural society living in peace with First Peoples. Its working languages were French and Chinook Wawa, a hybrid language made originally mostly from Chinook and French. Columbia was the original area that is sometimes called Cascadia, which comes from the French word used for the mountains ‘Les Cascades’. After the 1846 Border Treaty (also called the Oregon Treaty) was implemented in 1849, many of the people from Columbia went north to the new Columbia, British Columbia — especially since the new US regime did not allow black people or Hawaiians to live in their newly acquired territory. In the north, political governance was from Victoria, Langley and New Westminster, although many settled in what is now Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, Coquitlam and some around Burrard Inlet and False Creek. You can learn how more about how ‘British’ Columbia lost… Read More »Columbia: the Forgotten History of British Columbia

Columbia: the Forgotten History of British Columbia