Sir James Douglas
N 48° 24.679 W 123° 20.436
10U E 474795 N 5362074
Quick Description: Grave of Sir James Douglas in the Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/28/2008 9:22:12 PM
Waymark Code: WM4TQ2
Sir James Douglas is considered the father of British Columbia
Sir James Douglas is best remembered as the founder of settlement, trade and industry for British Columbia and in particular Vancouver Island - The Father of BC. Douglas also helped the Hudson's Bay Company become a trading monopoly in the North Pacific.
James Douglas was born in Demerara, British Guiana (presently known as Guyana) in 1803. He has been described as "Scotch West Indian" the son of Scottish Merchant and a free coloured woman. At the age of twelve, he was taken to Lanark for schooling and at age 16 he was apprenticed to the North West Company and entered the Hudson's Bay Company's (HBC) employ on the merger of the two companies in 1821. Four years later, while attached to Fort St. James in the New Caledonia district, Douglas accompanied Chief Factor William Connolly on the first annual fur brigade to Fort Vancouver. There he met Amelia, Connolly's part-Indian daughter, and on April 27,1828 the couple was married.
George Simpson, governor of Rupert's Land who met Douglas at Fort St. James in 1828 described him as "stout powerful active man of good conduct and respectable abilities," but one who became "furiously violent when aroused". This tendency brought Douglas into conflict with the Carrier Indians and caused Connolly to obtain Douglas' transfer to Fort Vancouver to serve under John McLouglin in 1830. There Douglas became Chief Trader in 1835 and Chief Factor in 1839.
In 1843, Douglas began constructing Fort Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island to replace the existing northern coastal forts. Anticipating the eventual withdrawal of the HBC from Fort Vancouver after the British accepted the forty-ninth parallel as theboundary between the United States and Canada in 1846, he also had a new brigade trail blazed on British territory from New Caledonia to Fort Langley on the lower Fraser River. Fort Victoria became the main pacific depot in 1849 for furs being transshipped from the interior. The fear of American expansion northward caused Britain, January 13, 1849 to lease Vancouver Island to the HBC for ten years. Douglas the supervisor of the fur trade since 1845 was appointed HBC agent on the island.
Douglas was appointed Governor of Vancouver Island, October 30, 1851.
This appointment inevitably led to conflicts. It was difficult for Douglas to reconcile the interests of governor and company official. The only revenue available for public buildings, schools, churches and a road was from liquor licenses. Qualified and educated men were in such short supply that Douglas appointed his own brother-in-law as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And in 1856, Douglas was instructed to establish an Assembly for the island. He was opposed to universal suffrage and believed that people really wanted "the ruling classes" to make their decisions. Based on this belief, property qualifications for the franchise and for membership in the Assembly were set so high that only a few landowners could qualify.
Then gold was discovered in the Fraser Valley in 1857. This event brought on an onslaught of American miners searching for a "stake". These American miners also had strong American sympathies and could easily bring about the annexation of British Columbia. Due to this immigration and due in part to the shortage of qualified men, Douglas extended an invitation to California Blacks to settle in British Columbia, specifically Fort Victoria. Both the miners and first black settlers arrived on Sunday, April 25, 1858.
During his term as British Columbia's governor, it appeared Douglas was chiefly concerned with the welfare of the miners. For example, he relied on his gold commissioners to lay out reserves for the Indians and thus eliminate the threat of warfare; to record mining and land claims; and to adjudicate mining disputes. For the gold colony he devised a land policy which included mineral and pre-emption rights. His water legislation met the needs of the miners who employed rocke
Date of birth: 08/15/1803
Date of death: 08/02/1877
Area of notoriety: Politics
Marker Type: Headstone
Visiting Hours/Restrictions: Closed one hour after dusk until dawn
Fee required?: No
Web site: [Web Link]
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