Jun 24, 2012

James Douglas, the Father of British Columbia

Guyanese Canadian Cultural Association of BC

James Douglas and Black Emigration to British Columbia

Black settlers from San Francisco came to Victoria, British Colombia in 1858 at the specific invitation of the Governor, Sir James Douglas.
Blacks had first gone to California from throughout the United States to seek their fortunes mining gold. They then gathered in San Francisco to organise an emigration society to more north to Canada, "a land where they would be free". There were 600 in all in the party including wives and children. A delegation representing the group went to Victoria to meet with Douglas. He guaranteed the miners that they would be given the rights and protection of all other citizens.  On arrival in Vancouver Island, the Black organization was disbanded and everyone went on his own.  This was largely because Douglas suggested that the group not remain intact as a community or colony but scatter throughout the province.  He stated that for the best interests of everyone it would be better not to have black curches, schools, associations, and public meetings.
Many of the miners settled in or near Victoria, at that time a small village.  In fact, Victoria's first policemen were a half dozen Black miners from California.  Hardship of living conditions prompted many of the Blacks to return to the United States after the Civil War.

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