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This section is under constuction: All the articles are included, however links are only partially completed.

This section contains items, derived mainly from newspapers, relating to the social life of Blacks in the province from 1858 to 1978.  It encompasses social events and social problems throughout the years, in an attempt to provide a general picture of this aspect of life. 


Guide to Newspapers 

Cariboo Sentinel 1865-1867

Colonist 1859-1899

Colonist 1903-1930

Colonist 1954-1978

Chronicle 1863-1866

Highway-News Review 1966

Ladner Optimist 1969

Monday Magazine 1978-

News Herald 1945-1947

Old West 1976

Press 1861 

Province 1900-1978

Sun 1945-1978

Times 1911-1978

Vancouver 1941 - 1959

The World 1911 - Black Immigration from Oklahoma


Books and Articles

Flucke, A.F. Early Days on Saltspring Island, op. cit. pp. 193-194.

Flucke states that “Although racial antagonism as such did not flourish on the island, the needs of the coloured people were sometimes resented or brushed aside by the rest of the inhabitants.”  The author cites an incident involving a road needed by Louis Stark from his land to the school and boat landing.  Stark built two miles of the road himself and then asked the government to act in completing the last mile and a half of road since it crossed the claims of two other farmers.  The government agreed but during church service one Sunday, (it was expressly forbidden to carry out road work on Sunday) some settlers completed the road but diverted it to a barn of a settler who already had a road to his land, thus denying Louis Stark the access to the harbour he needed.

Foner, P.S.  The colored inhabitants of Vancouver Island.  op. cit.,  pp.29-33.

While giving his impressions of life on Vancouver Island in the early 1860’s, a Black traveller noted that “when they were organizing fire companies, Jacob Francis endeavored to have the colored inhabitants represented, but he was voted down.  In some places of public accommodation, such as barbershops, barrooms, restaurants and hotels, colored persons are denied the usual privileges.”

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit., 1st edition p. 163; 2nd edition pp.142-143.

Kilian notes the sympathetic newspaper coverage given in 1954 to the case of Dorothy Hewitt, the Jamaican bride of a white English teacher at Shawnigan Lake Boys School.  A week before classes began, the headmaster ordered her to leave the school “before the boys come and see a colored person here”.  Mrs. Hewitt returned to Jamaica.

In the 2nd edition Kilian notes that John Hewitt resigned and returned to Jamaica. The Jamaican government sent protests to Ottawa which prompted a ‘stream of sympathetic messages from Canadians”.   He goes on to say “While it’s encouraging to see that British Columbians were beginning to reject generations of prejudice, it’s also striking that Ms. Hewitt’s precise one-eight blackness was still, in 1954, considered a point worth mentioning” .

Macfie, M.  Vancouver Island and British Columbia.  op. cit., p. 391.

Macfie mentions that in the early 1860’s in Victoria, the members of a temperance union preferred to disband rather than admit Black members.  Later when a literary institute was being formed, when Blacks subscribed, the idea of establishing an institute was dropped.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op. cit., p, 287.

Winks reports here a letter written in 18?0 by a Black man to his friends in Ontario, stating that life in the West was better than in the South.

Newspapers

Cariboo Sentinel, June 12, July 1, 1865.

Isaac Dickson’s letters to the editor, which are written in dialect and signed “Dixie” from the “Shampooin ‘Stablishment”, appear in these issues.  These letters provide a social critique of life in the gold fields in what was considered dialect humour at the time.

Cariboo Sentinel, December 31, 1866, p. 3.

“The Colored Population”.

This is an announcement that the Blacks intend to celebrate Emancipation Day on January the first.

Cariboo Sentinel, January 15, 1867, p.2.

“Celebration”.

It was noted that the Black people held their Emancipation Day celebration at the Parlor Saloon on January first.

Colonist, February 5, 1859, p. 3.

“Colored Emigrants”.

This article by J.J. Moore (a Black minister from San Francisco) deals with the intended emigration of Blacks from California to British Columbia. Their reasons for wanting to migrate are stated.

Colonist, January 10, 1860, p. 3.

“Correspondence”.

In this letter Mr. Alfred Charles Bayley responds to a letter which appeared in the Victoria Gazette charging him with having said “not another colored man shall appear in my saloon”.

Colonist, January 14, 1860, p. 3.

“Meeting of colored people”.

The author gives an account of a meeting held in the Victoria Congregational Lecture room by the Blacks to discuss problems of Blacks in Virginia.

Colonist, July 26, 1860. 

“Grand Serenade”.

This report deals with the performance of music and speeches made by a group of Blacks in honour of Colonel Baker of Oregon.

Colonist, July 26, 1860.

“Cool Impudence”.

This is an account of a Black porter who, when sent with a message to the House of Assembly, did not stay outside the bar, but “opened the little gate and walked in among the members, (a privilege which is not allowed a white person)”.  However, he left when asked.

Colonist, July 31, 1860, p. 3.

“Rotten Egged”.

This is a short report of a Black man who was pelted wth rotten eggs as he entered the parquette of the Colonial Theatre.

Colonist, November 6, 1860.

“Riot at the Theatre”.

The author provides an account of the fights that ensued after two Blacks entered the parquette of the theatre.

Colonist, November 7, 1860, p. 2.

“The Colored Invasion”.

This is an article dealing with the public’s reaction to the “invasion of colored people into the parquette of the Colonial Theatre”.  The writer felt that if some Blacks “riot”, they will bring undue prejudice to all Blacks in Victoria.

Colonist, November 10, 1860.

“The Prospects Tonight”.

It is reported that a large police force would be guarding the theatre in the event that there was another riot. The police had observed “quite a few strange coloured men” about the town.

Colonist, December 15, 1860, p. 2.

The writer of this letter attacks an article written by J.E.W. in the December 1 Weekly Bulletin as an “exaggerated, garbled and biased account” of the disturbance which took place in the Colonial Theatre.  The writer feels that “J.E.W.” is trying to create more racial prejudice against the Blacks.

Colonist, January 11, 1861.

“The Negro Corner in England”.

This article discusses the resolution of the disagreement between Mr. Clarke and Mr. Macfie over the seating of Blacks in church.  The Colonial Missionary Society ruled that there was to be “freedom of access to every part of the church to all persons”.

Colonist, May 21, 1861.

This article reports that the three year old daughter of Mr. Waldron, a Black man, fell into a well and nearly drowned.

Colonist, May 21, 1861, p. 2.

“Colored Picnic”.

This short report states that a picnic attended by Blacks took place at Cadboro Bay, Victoria.  The author notes that everyone had a good time.

Colonist, September 26, 1861, p. 3.

“Row at the Theatre”.

It is noted that at the performance of a concert someone threw a packet of flour on two Black men who then bumped into an innocent bystander.  This started a general disturbance which police soon quelled.

Colonist, September 27, 1861, p. 2.

“Concert Difficulty”.

The writer reacts to the disturbance at the theatre on September 25.  The writer feels that the Black residents should be given equal privileges in places of amusement and those who oppose this should leave.

Colonist, September 27, 1861, p. 2.

“A Card – Emil Sutro”.

Sutro presents his interpretation of the September 25 theatre disturbance.  He states that he does not believe in “the amalgamation of colored people and whites … and colored people should not socially mix with whites”.  He feels that Blacks are not desired by a majority of the whites and therefore should not force themselves on white society.

Colonist, September 28, 1861, p. 3.

“Reply to Emil Sutro”.

A writer who signs herself “an offended English woman” responds to Emil Sutro’s letter.  She feels that the Blacks should have the same rights and privileges as anyone else in a British Colony.  She refutes Sutro’s statement that 1) “Colored people force themselves on a society where they are not desired”, and 2) “they are offensive to a majority of the residents in Victoria”.

Colonist, September 28, 1861, p. 3

“The Theatre Row – A Remedy”.

The author, signed “an English woman” comments on the theatre disturbance and offers her solution. She feels that it should be made clear on the tickets if Blacks are allowed admission.

Colonist, September 28, 1861.

“Letter from Assaultee”.

In this letter to the editor signed “B.W.L.”, the author accuses the editor of taking an ambivalent stance on the Colonial Theatre incident.

Colonist, February 15, 1862, p. 3.

“Another Insult”.

This is a letter from a Black man concerned with how the British officers constantly insulted the Blacks by putting on minstrel shows.

Colonist, February 18, 1862, p. 3.

“Colored Question”.

This letter signed by “Simon Pure” states that the “colored man” who wrote “Another Insult” is believed to be a white man intent on making the Englishman look “ignorant and presumptuous”.

Colonist, February 18, 1862, p. 3.

This is another letter responding to “Another Insult”. The writer feels that the letter was not written by a Black man but, whatever colour the writer was, the only purpose of the letter was “to place the Englishmen and the colored men in conflicting and antagonistic states”.

Colonist, June 26, 1862, p. 3.

“Wouldn’t Let Him Drink”.

It is mentioned that Jacob Francis, a Black man, had a summons served on Mr. Lovett who refused to serve him a drink at Lovett’s bar.

Colonist, June 28, 1862, p. 3.

“Shall a Black Man Drink at a white Man’s Bar?”.

This report concerns the complaints Jacob Francis filed when he was refused a drink at a local bar in Victoria.

Colonist, January 16, 1863.

This is an announcement of a Jubilee celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation at Beacon Hill by about 200 Black men.

Colonist, January 16, 1863.

“The Vexed question settled”.

This article deals with the questions, ‘Shall a Colored Man drink at a White Man’s Bar?”  It compares to the prejudice against the Blacks in saloons to the service they receive from other tradesmen.

Colonist, May 16, 1863, p. 3.

“Liberal Donation”.

This is an announcement of a donation made by Peter Lester and others to the Social, Civil and Statistical Association of Blacks in Pennsylvania.

Colonist, August 3, 1863, p. 3.

“Celebration of the 1st of August”.

It is reported that at Cadboro Bay in Victoria, the Blacks celebrated a proclamation giving liberty to Blacks in the West Indies.

Colonist, November 3, 1863.

Willis Bond is reported as being present at a public meeting for the upcoming elections and causing amusement due to his comments on the various candidates.

Colonist, December 29, 1863, p. 2.

Notice of the intended January 1, 1864 celebration by Blacks at the emancipation of slaves, is given.

Colonist, February 25, 1864, p. 3. 

“Victoria V.I. described by Colored Man”.

A Black visitor from San Francisco discusses the prejudice against Blacks in Victoria.

Colonist, March 19, 1864, p. 3.

“Exclusion at the Banquet”.

In a letter to the editor, J.C. Davie expresses his surprise over the refusal of tickets to the Governor’s Banquet to his “respectable neighbours”, Lester and Gibbs, “because they are men of color”.  Davis concludes that he himself will not be able to take a ticket as this would compromise his principles.

Colonist, March 11, 1864, p.1.

A Notice of Dissolution of Partnership as merchants and general traders is advertised for Peter Lester and M.W. Gibbs.

Colonist, March 12, 1864, p.3.

“Exclusion at the Banquet”.

In reply to Davie’s letter of March 10, another letter to the Editor signed by Joseph Arnoup describes Davie’s action in championing the cause of Blacks, who had been refused tickets and not taking a ticket himself, as “affectation of principles” being displayed publicly for “selfish purposes”.

Colonist, March 15, 1864, p.3.

“Exclusion”.

This letter to the Editor signed “Saxon” condemns Arnoup for his letter of attack on Davie.  He describes the exclusion of citizens of the calibre of Lester and Gibbs because of their color as an injustice, and states that this banquet is not being given by the citizens of Victoria but by a few “self- selected capitalists and their admirers”.

Colonist, March 17, 1864, p.3.

“Exclusion”. 

This letter from John Arnoup mentions that his name was incorrectly printed as Joseph in his letter of March 12.  Arnoup writes in reply to “Saxon” whom he states misinterpreted the intentions of his letter.  Arnoup quotes “a colored gentleman” as saying: “the white men will come to our parties, to our balls but they will not bring their wives and these (women) will not associate with our wives”.

Colonist, April 11, 1864, p.3.

This is a report of public meeting which passed a resolution that there should be a free Common School providing education to children of “all classes and creeds”.  When one person suggested the segregation of Blacks, he met strong opposition from those in the audience and from the Chairman of the meeting.

Colonist, May 24, 1864, p. 3.

“A Card”

A.H. Francis writes this letter concerning the refusal of Mr. Cruikshank to sell Black men tickets to a subscription ball commemorating the Queen’s birthday.  He felt that it was an insult to them since they were British subjects.

Colonist, October 6, 1864, p. 3.

“The Colored Question”.

It is reported that the Black citizens of Victoria approached Governor Kennedy concerning the public announcement excluding Blacks from portions of the theatre.  The Governor expressed sympathy, but did not offer any solution.

Colonist, October 11, 1864.

“Reply to B.W.I.”

The writer responds to a previous letter in the Times dated October9, signed “B.W.I.”, who stated that in older colonies there are social distinctions between Blacks and whites.  The writer of this letter gives examples from the West Indies to refute B.W.I.’s statements.

Colonist, January 4, 1865, p. 3.

“Emancipation Dinner”.

It is announced that the Blacks had a celebration on January 2, 1865 to commemorate Lincoln’s Emancipation Act.

Colonist, May 9, 1865, p. 3.

“Pioneer Rifle Company”.

This letter is written to the editor in reply to his inquiry “What has become of the Pioneer Rifle Corps which at one time promised to become a very efficient and soldier-like body?”  The reply included the explanation that the company had disbanded due to the “mean and scandalous manner” in which they were treated by Governor Kennedy.

Colonist, May 24, 1865.

This is an announcement that Willis Bond would lecture on various subjects in the Athenaeum Hall.

Colonist, July 29, 1865, p. 3.

“Colored Deputation to Mr. Colfax”.

On behalf of the Black residents of Victoria, A.H. Francis and M.W. Gibbs called on Hon. S. Colfax to express their appreciation of his stance on emancipation in the United States.

Colonist, August 2, 1865, p.3.

“Emancipation Day”.

It is reported that 200 – 300 Blacks residents of Victoria gave a picnic at Parson’s Bridge Hotel in commemoration of the 27th anniversary of West Indian emancipation.

Colonist, November 23, 1865.

John Dunlop writes this letter to the Editor concerning his being refused admission to the theatre because of the color of his skin.  He emphasizes that theatres and other places of entertainment are suffering financially “due to the direct insult of respectable colored people”.

Colonist, January 10, 1866.

M.W. Gibbs inserts a notice that during his absence from the colony all rents and debts are payable to his Power of Attorney, A.H. Francis.

Colonist, January 4, 1867, p. 3.

The editor apologizes for omitting to mention the Black people’s Emancipation Celebration on New Year’s Eve.

Colonist, February, 1867 p. 3.

“Letter from the Cariboo”.

It is mentioned that Blacks in the Cariboo celebrated the Emancipation Act.

Colonist, March 26, 1867.

“Peppering an Audience”

This article describes the melee caused by the stampeding of the audience when burning pepper caused sneezing and coughing during a speech by Willis Bond.

Colonist, July 6, 1867, p. 3.

It is reported that the Blacks celebrated the Fourth of July with a picnic at the Willows on Cadboro Bay.

Colonist, August 3, 1869, p. 3.

“Vancouver Bachelor’s Pic-Nic”.

This article reports the reunion of Blacks at Willows for a picnic.  A large group commemorated West Indian Emancipation with an evening of celebration.

Colonist, August 16, 1871.

It was noted that M.A. Phipps was appointed District Deputy Grand Master of the Black Masons of British Columbia.

Colonist, January 4, 1872.

“Celebration of Emancipation Day”.

A grand dinner and ball was given by Black residents to celebrate Emancipation Day.

Colonist, May 7, 1872, p. 3.

“Colored Men as Jurors”.

The article states that the House had been presented with a petition signed by a number of Black residents who complained that they were barred from serving as jurors.  The writer supports the petition since there is no law prohibiting Blacks from serving as jurors and suggests that the matter be take up at the next Assizes.

Colonist, March 21, 1872, p.3.

“Colored jurors”.

The report states that the House declined to pass a resolution that the Governor be asked to instruct the Sheriff to place the names of Blacks on the jury list.

Colonist, November 27, 1872, p.3.

There is a brief report that the first Black jurors had been empanelled.  The report ended with the remark. “Another blow at prejudice”.

Colonist, June 19, 1879, p.3.

“Mr. Wm. Lloyd Garrison in memory of the late William Lloyd Garrison”.

This article dealt with a meeting of Black residents of Victoria at the time of the death of William Lloyd Garrison.

Colonist, January 7, 1899, p. 7.

“Exclusion of Negroes”.

This is an article concerning the barbers in Victoria who refused to render their services to Blacks.

Colonist, September 19, 1903, p.7.

“’Black and White’ Victoria’s Miniature Race War”. By D.W. Higgins

This article describes in some detail the arrival of Blacks on Vancouver Island.  There is mention of some of the problems which occurred when the first Black police attempted to carry out their duties.  The author gives an account of the 1860 election in which Blacks, voting as a group, controlled the outcome of the election.  The theatre “riot” involving an attack on Gibbs and Pointer, and other race-related incidents are mentioned.

Colonist, March 29, 1930, p. 2. 

“Citizens of Colored Race make History”.

This article summarizes a report given to the B.C. Historical Society by its president.  He described the early arrival of Blacks in 1858 and 1859.  There is some mention of the difficulties they encountered with racism in the church, theatre and saloons.

Colonist, April 11, 1930, p.3.

“Colored Pioneer is 70 Years of Age”.

There is a picture accompanied by a brief description of Mr. G.P. Carter who was celebrating his 70th birthday.  Carter was reported as being Victoria’s “oldest colored pioneer”.

Colonist, January 31, 1954, p. 10.  Magazine Section.

“Old Homes and Families”, by Jim Nesbitt.

This article is devoted to describing the colorful life of Willis Bond in Victoria between 1859 and 1889.

Colonist, April 26, 1959, p. 16.  Magazine Section.

“Hot Time in the Old Town”. By James K. Nesbitt.

In an article about John Guest and his many brawls in the 1860’s, Nesbitt mentions that John Guest, Thomas Burnes, and William Baugh were charged with assault by a Black man, Stephen Farrington.  After hearing all the evidence Chief Justice Cameron dismissed the case against the three white men.

Colonist, February 15, 1962.

“Birth of a City”. By J.T. Jones.

The author quotes several newspapers to point out that it was very fashionable to make fun of the Blacks until they protested, then “the fun turns ugly”.

Colonist, April 23, 1962.  Magazine Section. p. 3.

“Christmas Dinner for 50¢” by James K. Nesbitt.

Nesbitt, in writing of the Christmas celebrations of the 1800’s, includes a report of the golden wedding anniversary of Charles and Nancy Alexander, 63 years previously on Christmas Day.  The report describes briefly the guests and the gifts given at the function.

Colonist, July 19, 1969, p. 19.

“Blacks Play Big Role in Victoria’s Founding” by Diane Janowski.

This article reports some of the information presented to a group at the University of Victoria by Robin Winks, an American historian writing a book about Blacks in Canada. Winks describes some of the contributions of the first Blacks in Victoria and briefly traces the history of Blacks in Canada mentioning “behavior seldom associated with Canadians and then usually hidden” such as segregation and the Ku Klux Klan in Canada.

Colonist, February 7, 1971.

“Puget Sounders Watch Victoria”. by James Nesbitt.

The article emphasizes the fact that prejudice existed even in Victoria which was considered “the most benevolent speck in her Brittanic Majesty’s possession in the Pacific”.  The Colonial Theatre incidents are described.

Colonist, July 6, 1971, p. 6.

“BC’s Blacks: One Third Found Prejudice”.

This article carries the report of some of the findings of a survey done by the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Colored People (BCAACP) in Vancouver in 1971.

Colonist, June 10, 1973, p. 4.

“In 1860 Racial Prejudice Created Riot in Victoria”. by T.W. Patterson.

There is a description of the events leading to the “riot” at the Colonial Theatre.  Blacks were allowed to attend as long as they sat in the “pit”. It mentions four accused Blacks were found ten pounds sterling and dismissed.

Colonist, July 11, 1973, p.4.

“Correcting a False Impression.  Going Back 113 Years”. By Peggy Cartwright (daughter of an original settler.) 

Ms. Cartwright writes a letter to refute the article “In 1860 Racial Prejudice Created Riot in Victoria”.  She argues that Amor de Cosmos was well known for his “racist attitudes and intemperance of expressions”.  She states that the article fails to mention that the Black men charged with creating a riot were found not guilty.

Colonist, April 23, 1978, p. 13.

“Blacks Pay Tribute to Pioneers”.

This article provides general information about the Victoria Black People’s Society.  It briefly outlines the reasons that Blacks first came to B.C. and mentions the dance sponsored by the Society to commemorate the occasion.

 

Return to Newspaper Guide

 

Chronicle, January 3, 1863.

“Donation Party”

The report deals with the New Year’s Eve benefit given by Black residents of Victoria for the “contrabands” (newly freed slaves) in the United States.

Chronicle, April 7, 1863.

“Coloured Bazaar”.

A bazaar held in aid of the “contrabands” in the eastern U.S. is reported as having taken place the previous night.

Chronicle, July 10, 1863.

It is noted that the “committee of colored ladies” of Victoria sent money to the Vice President of the United States for the benefit of the “contrabands” in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Chronicle, December 31, 1863.

“Emancipation Day”.

The author reports that on the first anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Black residents proposed to celebrate by firing a salute from Beacon Hill Park and had plans for a dinner and ball in the evening.  The author felt that they had great cause to celebrate.

Chronicle, December 31, 1863.

“Brutal”

The article mentions that a Black drayman violently destroyed his horse after being unable to extricate it from the mud.

Chronicle, December 31, 1863.

“The Anniversary Dinner”.

This is an announcement of the kind of entertainment to be provided at the dinner.  Mr. S Ringo, a Black man, was noted as the caterer.

Chronicle, January 14, 1865.

Willis Bond advertises that he has a room available at the rear of his bar.  This hall can be used for public meetings and gatherings.

Chronicle, January 14, 1865.

It is reported that Willis Bond had called a meeting to discuss the question of Free Trade for Victoria.

Chronicle, February 26, 1866.

This short insertion noted that Black residents, hoping to form a library, held an exhibition of art by Black children.

Highway News-Review, September 14, 1966, p.2 – Happy Valley File.

“Was it Bachelors Who Gave Happy Valley Its Name”, by Maurice Corbett

The author reports that it is commonly believed that Happy Valley (in Metchosin near Victoria) was given its name because in the early days Black bachelors who lived there would gather together at night to sing and laugh and enjoy themselves.

Lasdner Optimist, June 18, 1969. P. 15 – Deas J.S. File.

“Deas Island Settled Over 30 Years Ago”.

This report gives the information that Deas Island in the Fraser River was named after the first settler, John Deas, a Black man, who lived there in the early 1880’s.

Monday Magazine, July 3-9, 1978, pp.10-11.

“The Great Black Hope”, by D. McDonell. 

This article presents events in the history of B.C.’s Black pioneers as quoted from Crawford Kilian’s book Go Do Some Great Thing.  McDonell also notes the present day efforts of the Victoria Black People’s Society to raise awareness of the contributions of Blacks and mentions the upcoming Black People’s Day celebrations at the Victoria Folkfest.

Monday Magazine, August 28 – September 3, 1978, p. 4.

“Would a Rose by any other colour sing as sweet?” by D.M.

In this article the author outlines Louise Rose’s attempts to acquire landed immigrant status.  Ms. Rose was given temporary work visa but immigration authorities have delayed granting her landed immigrant status – she applied through the proper channels five months ago – which would enable her to accept a job offer of being the music director/youth counsellor at the racially mixed St. Giles United Church in Vancouver.  The author asks the reader to decide if Louise Rose’s situation is a result of a “plantation mentality towards potential Black immigrants to Vancouver”.

News-Herald, May 26, 1945.   

“First Canadian Agreement signed by Railway Porters”

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters signed a labour agreement contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway Co.  This agreement was described by the President of the Toronto Brothehood as the “most victorious ever afforded negroes in Canada”.

News-Herald, August 3, 1945.

“Porters’ Union Head Urges Equality for Jap Citizens”.

This article includes an observation by the Black New York leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, that greatly increased competition for jobs after the war would affect the weakest racial groups, and that in Canada, Blacks were included in these groups.

News-Herald, August 6, 1945.

“Negroes Seek Full Civil Rights.”

The aims of the new League for the Advancement of Colored People are reported.  The major objectives were outlined in Vancouver by the International President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.  These objectives included civil rights, fair employment and more extensive education for Black youth.

News-Herald, August 15, 1945, p. 4.

“Race Prejudice”.

This editorial article reports the refusal of accommodation to members of the Black cast of ‘Carmen Jones’ in Vancouver because of their color, forcing them to seek private accommodation.

News-Herald, August 20, 1945, p. 8.

“Union Probes ‘Hotel Race Discrimination’ Reports”. 

The Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union business agent is reported as having started an investigation to discover whether discrimination against the cast of ‘Carmen Jones’ had taken place.

News-Herald, October 7, 1947.

“Chinese, Negroes Swim Alone Tuesday Morning”.

The article reported the practice of segregation at the Crystal Pool (Vancouver) which only permitted the use of the pool by non-whites on Tuesday morning.

Old West, Spring 1976, p. 34. – Stark Family File.

“A Colour-Blind Island” by Ruth Herberg. 

The author of this article in recounting life on Saltspring Island and its inhabitants, mentions that the main road across the north end of the Island is known as Stark Road in honour of Louis Stark who “single-handedly slashed the road out of the wilderness”.

Press, November 19, 1861.

“History of the Coloured People in Vancouver Island”.

This article sent to the Press and signed “Monitor” deals with the arrival of the Blacks, their lifestyle and the way they were treated by other citizens.

Press, November 21, 1861.

This report is a continuation of the article sent to the Press by “Monitor”.  The author observed that Jacob Francis, a Black man, may rightfully be eligible to win the contested election seat.  This possibility caused a controversy which exposed many people’s feelings concerning racial equality.

Press, December 1, 1861.

“A Card”

A person signed “Justice” suggests the removal of signs on the street which state, “Coloured People will not be allowed in any part of this building”.

Province, August 21, 1900.

“Coloured Folks in Garment Gay Observe Emancipation Day”.

This article gives an account of the celebration of the Blacks in Vancouver at Moodyville.

Province, October 1, 1935, p. 5.

“Victoria Had Negro Troops 85 Years Ago”.

This article recalls the formation of the all-Black Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps in Victoria.

Province, April 15, 1948, p.1.

“Young Negro Couple Threatened with Death Unless They Move”

This report concerns the threatening letter signed Mrs. J.J. Jones, sent to Mr. and Mrs. D.G. Cromwell stating that they should move from their home in Vancouver as they were not wanted in the neighborhood.

Province, May 27, 1948, p.1.

“Woman Guilty of Jim Crow Threat Here”.

This article states that a woman had received a suspended sentence on posting a bond of $1000 to keep the peace for a year, for threatening a Black family.

Province, August 13, 1948.

“Hotels Refuse to Take Negroes”.

This report describes the necessity for the Black cast of ‘Carmen Jones’ to locate accommodation in the homes of Black residents since the cast was refused admission to Vancouver hotels.

Province, August 20, 1948.

“Union Clears City Hotels”.

On receiving a petition protesting hotel discrimination against the cast of ‘Carmen Jones’, the union officials at the Hotel and Restaurant Employees stated that they found no evidence of discrimination.

Province, April 16, 1948, p. 1.

“Neighbours rally behind threatened Negro Couple”

This article dealt with the support, given by neighbours and friends, to a Black couple who received a threatening letter.

Province, March 4, 1950.

“‘Shoeshine or Porter’ – only Situation Open”.

The writer reports that a business agent for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters stated that the only jobs open to a Vancouver Black after leaving high school is that of a shoeshine boy or sleeping car porter.

Province, July 15, 1959, p. 39.

“Deas Tunnel begun by Delta Petition in 1910”.

The article describes the long struggle to have a permanent Fraser River crossing in the Delta area.  There is mention here that the tunnel built was named Deas Tunnel after John Sullivan Deas, the Black man who lived on the island where the crossing is located.  The island is also called Deas Island.

Province August 6, 1963.

“Integration Lesson on B.C. Island”.

This article deals with the estimated twenty original Black families on Saltspring Island and how they were genuinely accepted in this community.  Intermarriages on the Island are also mentioned.

Province April 29, 1978, p. 15.

“On the Town – Black Festival”

The author describes the activities planned for the Black Cultural Festival being held at U.B.C. to commemorate the arrival of the first Black pioneers to B.C.

Sun, August 24, 1945, p.6.

“Race Antagonism”.

This is a letter to the editor discussing the prejudice and discrimination encountered by Blacks in Vancouver hotels.  It specifically protests the treatment accorded the Black cast of ‘Carmen Jones’ by city hotels.  This letter is signed by 89 persons.

Sun, October 29, 1947, p. 7.

“Negro Play here as social protest”.

There is an announcement that an original Vancouver all-Black play, entitled “Black Chronicle”, written by Fred Wilmot, will be produced early in 1948.

Sun, November 3, 1947, p. 15.

“Our Town”

In his column, Jack Scott mentions the Vancouver Blacks and notes that they are mainly employed as railway porters.  He concludes that “their number is not too large to produce a recognizable negro community and too small to encourage an easy tolerance by the whites.”

Sun, April 15, 1948, p. 1.

“” Jim Crowism’ Feared here as warning letter received”.

This article dealt with a Black Vancouver couple who were afraid to leave their house unattended after they had received several threatening letters stating they were not wanted in the neighborhood.  Mr. D.G. Cromwell, the threatened Black man, was the President of the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Colored People.

Sun, April 21, 1948, p.1.

“Negro threat notes laid to neighbour”

It is reported that the note threatening D.G. Cromwell was traced to a white women in the neighborhood.

Sun, May 29, 1948, p. 10.  Magazine Section.

“Arts Flourish at Negro Workshop”.

This article describes the development of a Black workshop that has been formed in Vancouver to provide recreational and creative outlets for young Black people in their teens and twenties.

Sun, July 12, 1952.

“More Than 5 Masons Coming”.

This article deals with the forty-ninth annual meeting of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, a Black organization meeting in Vancouver.  At that time the membership numbered 24 having grown from only five initial members.

Sun, July 19, 1952, p. 5.

“Negroes Live next door”.

The author discusses the fact that Vancouverites had 700 Black neighbours about whom they knew very little.

Sun, March 30, 1959, p. 3.

“Negro Bus Driver Race-Group Head” by Mac Reynolds.

Frank Collins is reported as becoming President of the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  Collins was noted as being critical of discrimination practices in the city of Vancouver.

Sun, September 21, 1962.

“Discrimination in Housing Charged”.

A University of British Columbia article is quoted here as charging homeowners in the Point Grey district of Vancouver with refusing accommodation to a Black person.

Sun, July 13, 1965.

“Negro Mason’s Fun Here Unshadowed by Prejudice”.

Concerning the large meeting of Black Masons held in Vancouver, one of the members was quoted as saying “the fun has gone on without even a shadow of prejudice”.

Negro Masons Unbiased”. 

It was noted that the Black Masonic Order of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge has four white members in its Victoria Lodge and a few whites in Seattle lodges.

Sun, August 28, 1965.

“Our Negroes the Fewer the Safer” by Nadine Assante.

The author of this article writes of the discrimination practices against Blacks.  She noted that the immigration policies restrict Blacks, and as a result the Blacks are here but are not noticed.

Sun, April 13, 1968, p. 10.

“Equality in B.C. Impresses Negroes”.

This report covered the visit of 33 low income teenage Black boys from Seattle who visited Vancouver.  They were impressed with the equal treatment and the lack of colour distinction accorded them by whites with whom they came in contact.

Sun, June 19, 1970, p. 12.

“Color Issue Denied in Dismissal”.

The report here states that the mayor of Surrey had denied that the Parks Director, a Black man, had been fired because of discrimination.  The article said that the ex-director would take the case to the Human Rights Commission.

Sun, February 16, 1971, p. 52.

“Coloured People Quizzed on Treatment in B.C.”.

The British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Colored People is reported in this article as beginning a province-wide survey of Blacks.  In this report there is information given by the president of the Association, Norman Alexander, that financial help was being given the group by the federal citizenship branch.

Sun, July 5, 1971, p. 28.

“Many Blacks Fear Government” by Lorraine Shore.

Shore writes that from the survey conducted by the BCAACP, it had been found by many Blacks that living in B.C. sometimes “wasn’t so beautiful”.

Sun, September 4, 1973, p. 41.

“Jack Wasserman” column.

The author commented on the manner in which the police in Vancouver attempted to crack down on Black pimps who were believed to have come from the States.  Wasserman states many Black male residents in the Vancouver area were being “hassled” by being stopped, questioned and searched in an unpleasant manner.

Sun, January 21, 1974, p. 17.

“Port Moody student chosen”

This article reports that Karen Taylor became the first Miss Black B.C.  The beauty contest was sponsored by the BCAACP which would also be staging a production of “A Raisin in the Sun”.

Sun, August 3, 1974, p. 39.

“Jack Wasserman” column.

In his column, Wasserman suggests that the proposed provincial park in the Gulf Islands should be named after Howard Estes.  He gives information about Estes and the Black pioneers who came to B.C. in 1858.

Sun, February 5, 1977, p. 5.

“So Non Whites Didn’t Help Build Nation”.

In this letter, G. Garraway, Vice-President of the BCAACP, states his opinion of Sheila Thandani’s remark that “the country and society of Canada was built without the help of non-whites”.  He goes on to give several examples of how the Blacks contributed to the building of the Canadian nation.

Sun, March 15, 1977, p. 25.

“Car burned in race-hate campaign”.

It is reported that the car of Bill Long, a Douglas College athletic instructor, was destroyed by arson.  Long and his family have received “several hundred’ threatening phone calls “all of a racist nature” over the past two years.  Other forms of harassment have included having his car broken into several times, letters and calls at work, and possible attempted kidnapping of Long’s son.  Police are investigating the arson.

Sun, April 21, 1978.

“Back to the Basics of Being Black” by Sarah Jane Growe.

Written at the time of the B.C. Black Cultural Festival in Vancouver, this article goes back in history to describe the Blacks leaving Canada due to being disillusioned.  She mentions Crawford Kilian’s book Go Do Some Great Thing and reports the opinion of several contemporary Blacks who feel that Blacks seem to be losing their connection with the Black culture and need to learn more about their history and culture.

Sun, June 2, 1978.

“Prejudice Enough” by Alan Morley.

This author gives a description of the current book on Black history in B.C. – Go Do Some Great Thing by Crawford Kilian.  In the author’s opinion the book fails to mention that the Blacks were well accepted socially in Vancouver.

Times, February 25, 1911.

“Some Colored Pioneers” by Edgar Fawcett.

The author gives examples of discrimination against Black pioneers in bars, churches and in organizations such as the fire department.

Times, February 5, 1938, p. 8.

“Victoria’s Negro Invasion”, by Reby Edmond.

This article briefly describes and summarizes the immigration to B.C. of Blacks from the U.S. in 1858 – 1859.

Times, April 15, 1948, p. 2.

“Racial Prejudice blamed for threat”.

A brief report of an incidence of racial prejudice in Vancouver where a Black couple reported that they had received menacing letters urging them to move out of their home.

Times, March 16, 1965, p. 3.

“City Negro Unmoved by Minstrel Shows”.

This article reports the controversy surrounding a minstrel show which was to be performed at the McPherson Playhouse.  There was considerable discussion at the question, “Do black-face minstrel shows degrade Negroes?”  Chester Alexander, a Black man born in Victoria, comments on this question.

Times, August 6, 1965, p. 2.

“Scores of Offers with Apartments”.

In this article Black B.C. Football players state that with the publicity concerning their being refused accommodation in Vancouver because of color, they now had many offers of accommodation.

Times, July 6, 1971, p.2.

“Black People Find Prejudice in B.C.”.

Statistics are given on the number of Blacks in B.C. who felt they had experienced racial discrimination and the types of prejudice encountered are outlined.

Times, August 15, 1978, p. 17.

There is an announcement that a bronze plaque to commemorate the arrival of the first Black settlers in 1858 will be unveiled on Friday, August 18, 1978 on the causeway in Victoria.

Vancouver Newspaper, April 10, 1941.

“Crystal Pool Controversy”.

This article stated that a member of the Parks Board would protest at a Board meeting of the “color ban” prohibiting Blacks from using the Crystal Pool.

Vancouver Newspaper, April 11, 1941.

“Park Board Members Silent on Pool ‘Color Line’ Issue”.

This report noted that the “Color Line” question was not discussed at the Board Meeting since the members refrained from dealing with the issue.

Vancouver Newspaper

“Color Bar Removed From Crystal Pool” – November 7, 1945.

“Pool Now Open to All Colors: - November 7, 1945.

“Race Discrimination and Swimming Pools” – November 8, 1945. 

These articles report the changes in policy at the Crystal Pool in Vancouver to open its facilities to the public regardless of race, color or creed.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 9, 1947.

“Negro Band Barred From Hotel Here”.

This article pointed out that a popular Black musician and his 17-man orchestra were refused admission to Vancouver hotels.  Accommodation was eventually offered after the orchestra had chartered a plane to fly to Victoria.

Vancouver Newspaper, February 1, 1948.

“Negro Finds Prejudice Becomes Less”.

A Black entertainer from the U.S. compared his present ability to obtain hotel accommodation in Vancouver, now that he was well-known, with the impossibility to do so seven years previously.

Vancouver Newspaper, April 15, 1948.

“Young Negro Couple Threatened with Death Unless They Move”.

This article dealt with a letter threatening the lives of a Black couple in Vancouver.  The letter was signed “Mrs. J.J. Jones”.

Vancouver Newspaper, May 21, 1948.

“Woman Guilty in Threat Case”.

This insertion announced that Mrs. Margaret Kent was found guilty of threatening a south Vancouver Black couple.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 30, 1948.

“Colour Bar Said Drawn in Local Pub”.

This article noted that the International representative of the Packinghouse Workers Union is bringing charges before the Vancouver Labour Council against a beer parlor concerning discrimination of Charles Ross, a Black shop steward in the Union.

Vancouver Newspaper, August 11, 1948.

“Unionists Hit Pub for Barring Negro”.

It is reported that the members of trade unions in Vancouver were urging the Vancouver Labour Council to have a beer parlor picketed for refusing to serve a Black unionist.

Vancouver Newspaper, August 23, 1948.

“Negro Raps Color Bar in Industry”

Black trade unionist, Charles Ross of Vancouver, is quoted in this article as saying, “the Negro hasn’t the same chance to keep his health, get a job or education”, because of racial discrimination.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 29, 1949.

“Few Occupations Open to Negroes, Group Told”.

This article deals with the observation made by the President of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Colored People, that Vancouver employers, due to little experience with racial minorities, tended to decide against them when hiring.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 28, 1951.

“’We Don’t Hire Niggers’, Said He”.  .

This letter written to the Editor is concerned with the constant abuse of the democratic rights of Canadian Blacks in employment and housing, and the lack of action taken by Parliament.

Vancouver Newspaper, August 8, 1951.

“Subtle City Racism Lashed by Porters”.

In this article, the International President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters compared the discrimination against Blacks in Canada with that in the U.S.  In his opinion, it was subtle in Canada whereas south of the border, it was “brutal”.

Vancouver Newspaper, August 12, 1959.

“Motel Picketers End Race Protest”

It was noted that the members of a “committee against racial discrimination” collected signatures for a petition.  They asked the Council to incorporate into licenses issued to motels and hotels, a ban on discrimination “on grounds of race, color, creed or faith”.  The report also stated that the members had withdrawn their pickets outside the “Downtowner Motel”.

The World, April 15, 1911, p. 1.

“Advance Guard of Blacks Arrives in B.C.”

This article reports that thirty Blacks were detained at Whiterock and then refused entry to Canada.  The group from Oklahoma, had sufficient funds to settle and stated that more Black people intended to immigrate to Canada.  The article concluded that “this advance party will probably mean an influx of Blacks into this country, already overrun with nations of colors and creeds”.

The World, April 17, 1911, p. 1.

“Immigration Order will be Suspended”.

Ten members of the group which “formed an advanced guard of what was to be an invading army of Blacks” were rejected by the New Westminster immigration authorities.  Since some family members were rejected the whole group planned to return to the United States.  The group had intended to settle in Alberta.

The World, April 17, 1911, p. 1.

“Will Bring 5,000 Negroes In.”

A former Kentucky colonel stated in this article that he would help to settle Blacks “on every quarter section of land he can buy in the prairies”.  He claimed to have no connection with the group detained in Whiterock and did not understand why “the government should turn down a Black man if the Black bore a good clean reputation and was self-supporting.”

The World, April 17, 1911, p. 5.

“Negroes Awaiting Action by Ottawa.”

The article reported that the group detained at the border was still awaiting a decision from the Dominion immigration officers as to whether they could enter Canada.  It was pointed out that, “All are well supplied with money, and if they pass health inspection they will, no doubt, be allowed to enter the country”.

The World, April 19, 1911, p. 1.

“Negroes Complain of Bad Treatment”.

The author states that all but two members of the detained group of thirty Blacks had returned to Oklahoma.  The superintendent of immigration stated that “they would have to conform strictly to the regulations, as they were not desirous of encouraging Negro immigration”.  He also pointed out that “negroes as a class did not do well in this country as they were not fitted to stand the climate”.

The World, April 22 1911, p. 5.

“Negro Influx was discussed”.

In discussing Black immigration, the New Westminster Board of Trade felt that “a few negroes with money were quite admissible, but when it came to large numbers coming in and taking up residence it was time to stop.”

Digital

Vancouver City Archives – Blacks in Canada

There is 1 image that is a group photo of the Negro Masonic Lodge [and members] - The M.W. United Grand Lodge R. & A.M. Washington & Jurisdiction 20th Anniversary that took place in Vancouver on July 9, 10 and 11 in 1923.

 

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This section contains information about the church which has traditionally been a focal point of the North American Black community.  It was the expressed desire of the first Blacks who came to B.C. not to establish a Black church but to worship with the total community in already established churches.  This idea was not supported by all members of early Victoria's church-going community and attempts were made to segregate Blacks in "Negro corners" in the church.  These attempts eventually failed adn for the most part Blacks and whites worshipped together in B.C.  A noted exception to this was the founding of the predominately Black African Methodist Episcopal Church in Vancouver in 1908.  Information about the religious life of Blacks, as a group as well as individually is also contained in this section.  


Table of Contents

Church Segregation 1858-1861

Church Segregation 1882

The African Methodist Episcopal Church

Religiious Life of Black Pioneers in Victoria

Religious Life of Black Pioneers on Saltspring Island

Religious Life of Individual Blacks


 

CHURCH SEGREGRATION: 1858 - 1861

Books and Articles

Fonerm, P. The Coloured Inhabitants of Vancouver Island.  op.cit. , pp. 29-33.

In this article, a Black American visiting Vancouver Island before 1864, noted that although the churches were integrated, it had been necessary for leading Blacks to fight to keep the churches free from segregation.  In the visitor's opinion, this integration had been "grudgingly and unwillingly awarded".

Hill, Douglas.  The Opening of the Canadian West.  Don Mills, Ontario: Longman Canada Ltd., 1973.  pp. 109-111. (PA)

Hill presents this short interpretation of the segregation issue and quotes the opinions of Reverend Clarke and Macfie.

Hills, George.  An Occassional Paper of the Columbia Mission.  op.cit. , p. 13.

George Hills was the Church of England Bishop of British Columnbia from 1859 - 1872.  During a vistit to Victoria he became aware of the controversy over seating in the Congregational Church.  Hills states that Macfie favoured the "unchristian narrowness" of those who desired segregated seating for Blacks.  Hills makes it clear by his remarks that he did not believe in segregated seating and that he supported Rev. Clarke who, "Nobly upheld the Christian and English sentiment."

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition pp.53-60.

Kilian provides some details of the seating controversy in Cridge's Church of England and the Congressional Church of Macfie and Clarke.  Kilian suggests that Clarke and his mission had been singled out as a political target, probably because of his anti-slavery reputation, for the Episcopalians and Methodists - who also integrated Black and white worshippers - had no trouble over the issue.

Macfie, M.  Vancouver Island and British Columbia.  op.cit. , pp.388-391.

Rev. Macfie, a Congregational minister, presents his views on the issue of Church segregation.  He notes that Blacks "were permitted on coming to Vancouver Island fee range of unoccupied pews in the only church then erected".  He reports that "the worthy parson", referring to Rev. Cridge) "took only the philanthroipic and religious ground" in dealing with the controversy which arose and gave a sermon on the equality of the races and said there was no segregated seating in his church.  In referring to the same kind of controversy which occurred in the Congregational Church, Macfie states that "a zealous Nonconformist fresh from the anti-slavery 'platform' of Canada (referring to Rev. Clarke) hastened to espouse the cause of the African" and announced that there would be no segregated seating in his church.  According to Macfie the Blacks soon outnumbered the whites in Clarke's church so they "gradually withdrew to the fashionable church where they could enjoy the satisfaction of mingling more largely with the superior race".  Macfie ws of the opinion that much of the controversy could have been avoided by "more prudent reticence" and "expedient neutrality of the part of the clergy".

Reid, Patricia H.  Segregation in British Columbia.  The Committee on Archives of the United Church of Canada.  The Bulletin.  Number 16, 1960 – 1963, pp. 1-15. (PA)

Reid used correspondence reprinted in the Canada Independent Magazine as a primary source, gives a very detailed account of the issue of segregated seating in the Congregational Church.  In 1858, Rev. William Clarke was sent to Victoria by the Colonial Missionary Society (the North American extension of the English Congregational Union).  Clarke held services and was approached about establishing a “negro corner” in his church.  Clarke found the Blacks “respectable and intelligent” had no intention doing so.  Then Rev. Matthew Macfie, another Congregational minister, arrived but he did not co-operate with Clarke “as the Society had planned and expected him to do”.  Macfie conducted separate services and supported the idea of segregated seating.  The number of whites attending Clarke’s church decreased and Blacks would not attend Macfie’s services.  Both ministers received contradictory and ambivalent support from the Colonial Missionary Society.  Clarke eventually resigned from the Society and left Victoria.  It was not until after Clarke had left that the Colonial Missionary Society passed a resolution of “freedom of access secured to every part of the building to all persons, without distinction of colour”.  Later Macfie was recalled because of the financial difficulties of the Missionary Society.

Smith, D.B. Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest.  op. cit. , pp, 10, 22, 26-28, 32.

In this work, Sophia Cracroft, in her diary notes the existence of the controversy over integrated seating in the church.  When she and her aunt, Lady Franklin attended a service at Christchurch (Cridge’s Church of England), they were “struck by the large proportion of coloured people”.  When Lady Franklin was visited by several members of the Black community, Captain Johnson, of the all Black Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, is reported to have stated that the Blacks may have left Victoria en masse if it had not been for the support of Bishop Hills and his clergy.

Wild, Roland.  Amor de Cosmos.  op. cit. , p. 99.

This is a very brief account of Reverend Macfie’s opinions concerning the issue of church segregation.  At a public meeting Blacks were of the opinion that “no one shall allow his family to go to Mr. Macfie’s church to be put in the niggers’ corner”.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op. cit. , pp. 280-282.

Using Reid’s work, Segregation in British Columbia, as a primary source, Winks gives an account of the issue of segregated seating in the Congregational Church.

The existence of controversy surrounding integrated seating in churches is very briefly mentioned in the following works:

Akrigg, G.V.P. & H.B. British Columbia Chronicle 1847-1871: Gold and Colonists Vancouver op. cit. , p. 108

Begg, Alexander, History of British Columbia.  op. cit. , p, 285.

Brown, Rosemary.  The Negroes.  op. cit. , p. 102

Fawcett, Edgar. Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria. op. cit. , p. 218.

Higgins, D.W. The Passing of a Race.  op. cit. , p. 176.

Mayne, Richard. Four Years in B.C. and Vancouver Island.   op. cit. , p. 351.

Manuscripts

Cridge, Diary, May 6, 1858. (PA)

Rev. Cridge writes that the Blacks “did not intend to establish a distinct Church organization at Victoria but join some Church already in existence here”.  Cridge invited them to attend his church.

Pilton, James W. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 - 1871.  op. cit. , pp. 40, 178-181.

Pilton gives a brief account of the controversy surrounding integrated seating in Cridge’s Church and describes the dispute between the Congregationalists, Rev. Clarke and Rev. Macfie.

Walden, Frederick E. The Social History of Victoria, British Columbia 1858 – 1871. op. cit. , pp. 22-24.

Walden states that the Church was a point of “contact and conflict”.  He briefly describes the fate of a “parson from Eastern Canada” who insisted on an integrated church and found his congregation split.  The number of whites decreased and the Blacks made up two-thirds of the congregation but since they didn’t want to be segregated they returned to the Church of England, “leaving the devoted friend of the negro faced with a church emptied of both Black and white”.

Newspapers

Colonist, October 21, 1859.

“Religious Feud”.

The article describes the breech between the two Congregational Missionary Society ministers over the issue of seating in the church.  Reverend Clarke did not want segregation seating while Reverend Macfie favoured a “negro’s corner” in his church.

Colonist, January 11, 1861.

“The Negro Corner in England”.

This article discusses the resolution of the disagreement between Rev. Clarke and Rev. Macfie over integrated seating in the church.  The Colonial Missionary Society ruled that there be “freedom of access to every part of the church to all persons”.

Colonist, September 30, 1861.

“The Negro Question – Sewing Circles and Churches”.

In this letter to the editor, the writer, signed “Episcopalian”, suggested that the “social equality” for the Blacks was only tolerated on the surface of for some gain on the part of the whites. “Episcopalian” pointed out that Blacks did not attend the church’s Sewing Circle and often sat in the back pews.  The writer felt that “Social equality” should include social integration.

Colonist, January 11, 1861.

“The Negro Corner in England”.

This article discusses the resolution of the disagreement between Rev. Clarke and Rev. Macfie over integrated seating in the church.  The Colonial Missionary Society ruled that there be “freedom of access to every part of the church to all persons”.

Colonist, October 3, 1861.

“Hypocrisy in the Church”. 

An account concerning the issue of seating at St. John’s Church is given by a writer signing himself or herself “An Occasional Worshipper”.

Colonist, October 5, 1861.

“Reply to An Occasional Worshipper”. 

Mr. R. J. Dundas (Rector) responds to the letter signed “An Occasional Worshipper”.

Gazette, August 24, 1858.

“An Ernest Appeal”.

“Henry Sharpstone” wrote this letter to Reverend Cridge requesting him to provide separate seating for the Blacks attending Cridge’s (the only) church since the writer and other Americans found integrated seating “repugnant”.  “Sharpstone” felt that as long as they had black skin, the Blacks would never be equal to whites.

Gazette August 25, 1858.

“An Answer to an Ernest Appeal”.

 “M.W.G. alias Blackstone” wrote a lengthy rebuttal to “Sharpstone’s” letter.  Following the letter an editor’s note stated that both parties had had their say and the matter must close, since “our space is not so extended as to permit giving much of it to questions of slight importance and minor interest”.

Gazette August 25, 1858.

“Letter from Rev. Cridge”.

In his letter to the editor, Cridge stated that he had no intention of pursuing the subject of the social relationship between Blacks and whites.  He preferred to devote his energy to building a stronger church.

Gazette November 10, 1859.

“Colorphobia in Churches”.

This is a letter to the editor from W.F. Clarke giving his opinions about the church controversy.  He states, “if the white race is superior, as they claim, they should show their superiority by helping the inferior race share their progress”.

 

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CHURCH SEGREGATION: 1882

Books and Articles

  

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit. , 1st edition pp. 153-154; 

The author notes that in 1882, Fortune Richard published a protest against some members of Victoria’s Baptist Church “which under the pretext of financial distress, was trying to get rid of Black members”.

Newspapers

Colonist, January 28, 1882.

“The Coloured Question is the Baptist Church Victoria”.

The article dealt with a meeting of Rev. Baker with the Baptist Church’s six committee members, three of whom were Black.  Reverend Baker delivered a speech which is reprinted.

THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The authors cited note the existence of the Fountain Chapel Episcopal Church on Jackson Street in Vancouver.  The Church founded in 1908 was a focus for the Black community until the 1940s although for several years it suffered from a decreasing congregation and a rapid succession of ministers, most of whom were American.

Books and Articles

Davis, C.  The Vancouver Book.  op. cit. , p, 106.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit. , 1st edition p. 159.

Manuscripts

Walhouse, F. The Influence of Minority Ethnic Groups on the Cultural Geography of Vancouver.  Op. cit. , p. 317.

Newspapers

Province, January 17, 1944.

“Life Too Easy Here Says Negro Pastor”.

In this article Rev. Jones, the Black pastor at the African Methodist Church gives his opinion of the causes of the Blacks’ disinterest in religion and invites more Blacks to come to church.

Vancouver Newspaper, November 3, 1945.

“African Methodist Pastor to speak in Unitarian Church”.

It is announced that Rev. Johnson of the Fountain African Methodist Episcopal Church would address the East and West Association in the Unitarian Church on the topic of “What Does the American Negro Have to which to Look Forward”.

Vancouver Newspaper, February 9, 1946.

“Negro Church Celebrates Founder’s Day”.

It is noted that a celebration is planned at the African Methodist Episcopal Church to commemorate the 159th anniversary of the church’s founding in Philadelphia, by a slave, Richard Allen.

Vancouver Newspaper, September 18, 1952.

“City Council Grants $150 to Church”.

This article deals with a grant of $150 given to the AME Church by the city in lieu of a tax exemption.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 27, 1957.

“African Church Unused”.

The author points out that the AME church has not had any services for over a year since Rev. J.I. Moore returned to the United States and the congregation became scattered.

Vancouver Newspaper, January 23, 1960.

“African Methodists Open Church Sunday”.

This is an announcement of the approaching reopening of the AME Church with Rev. Malinda Thorne conducting the first service.

Vancouver Newspaper, September 6, 1969.

“Historic Negro Church Reopens”.

An historical account of the background of the AME Church is given and its approaching reopening is announced.  The new minister is Re. J.M. McElrod, the only white minister of the AME Church in Canada or the United States.

 

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RELIGIOUS LIFE OF BLACK PIONEERS IN VICTORIA

Books and Articles

Glover, G. History of the United Church of Canada.  op. cit. , p. 3.

Glover describes the six hundred to eight hundred Blacks who arrived in the colony in 1858 as being a “humble, honest, industrious and deeply religious group”.

Hills, George.  An Occasional Paper on the Columbia Mission. op. cit. , p. 13.

Bishop Hills described the Black pioneers as being “steady communicants” who were always willing to contribute to the Church or other worthy causes

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit. , 1st edition p. 36, 53, 60.

Kilian states that most of the early pioneers were “deeply religious” and that the church was an important part of their lives.  He mentions that the first group of Blacks who came on the ‘Commodore’ held a service of worship soon after their arrival and later attended Cridge’s church at Cridge’s invitation.  Kilian reports that “though they (the Blacks) made up only a fifth or sixth of Victoria’s population, they accounted for no less than half of all churchgoing colonists and showed themselves eager to work for the Church”.

Smith, Dorothy B. (Ed.) Lady Franklin Visits the Pacific Northwest.  Op. cit., p. 32.

While visiting Victoria in 1861, Lady Franklin and her niece reported being surprised by the large proportion of Blacks attending Cridge’s church.

Manuscripts

Cridge, Diary, May 6, 1858.

Cridge wrote that he learned that the 35 Blacks who arrived on the ‘Commodore’ held a service of worship soon after their arrival.  Cridge visited them and after learning about some of their experiences in California, invited them to attend his church.

Cridge, Diary, May 26, 1858. (PA)

Cridge wrote that he held a prayer meeting with fifteen present “including 2 or 3 men of colour”.

Cridge to the Colonial and Continental Church Society, July 5, 1858. (PA)

In this letter Cridge described the Blacks as being “industrious, sober and religious”.  He reported that they were “chiefly Methodist” and that a minister of their own was coming to Victoria but they did not wish to establish a separate church.

Cridge, Record Book. Rev. J.J. Moore to Cridge, September 4, 1858.  (PA).

This is a letter of introduction of fourteen Blacks, who wished to worship, sent to Cridge by Rev. Moore, a Black minister in California.

Hayward, Charles. Diary.  May 11, 1862. (PA)

Hayward wrote that he was appointed by Mr. Cridge to teach one “Sabbath School” class made up of “… 6 or 8 very intelligent boys, three of them natives of Africa …”

Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 - 1871.  op. cit. , pp. 39, 40, 44, 52, 53, 187.

Pilton reports that the newly arrived Blacks held a service of worship soon after landing.  The next day they were visited by Cridge who invited them to attend his church after he learned that the Blacks did not wish to establish a separate Black church.  Pilton also notes that some of the Blacks would not attend the theatre because they were church members. Many Blacks brought letters of introduction from their California ministers and Black children went to Cridge’s Sunday School.  Pilton notes that half of the church-attending population were Black.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

RELIGIOUS LIFE OF BLACK PIONEERS ON SALTSRPING ISLAND

From the information given in the sources cited, it would appear that in contrast to Victoria, Blacks and whites on Saltspring worshipped together without any suggestion of segregation.  One exception to this was noted by Re. Robinson who mentions a woman who did not wish to attend services with Blacks.  The spiritual needs of early Saltspring Island settlers were taken care of by several visiting ministers – Rev. Ebenezer Robson, Rev. Thomas Crosby, Rev. Edward White and Rev. W.S. Reece.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit. , 1st edition p. 103.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 - 1871.  op. cit. , pp. 136, 204.

Robson, E. Diaries, February 21, 1861.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

RELIGIOUS LIFE OF INDIVIDUAL BLACKS

CHARLES ALEXANDER

The sources cited note that Charles Alexander helped to organize and build the interracial Methodist church in Shady Creek in Saanich and that he also acted as a local preacher in this church.

Books and Articles

Glover, George. History of the United Church: North and South Saanich Archives.  op. cit. , p. 4.

 Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit.  1st edition p. 150-151; 2nd edition p. 128.

Virgin, V. History of North and South Saanich Pioneers and District.  op. cit. , pp. 46, 56.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op. cit. , p.. 277

Newspapers

Colonist, May 13, 1973, p. 4.

“The Alexander Story” by Margaret Belford.

HAROLD EDWARD ALEXANDER

MARY LOUUSE ALEXANDER

Newspapers

Colonist, May 13, 1973, p. 4.

“The Alexander Story” by Margaret Belford

This article reports that Harold Alexander, son of Frederick Alexander, attended the Metropolitan United Church, where his mother, Mary Louise Alexander, sang in the choir.  They are both described as being deeply religious and musical.

JACOB ALEXANDER

Newspapers

Sun, October 21, 1972.

It is noted that Jacob Alexander, son of Charles Alexander, was a “self-styled missionary” and founded the Methodist Metropolitan Church in Victoria.

CHARLIE BAKER

Burgon Bickersteth, an Anglican clergyman, described Baker as being “possessed of a highly developed religious vein”.  Baker wanted to start a Bible class so Bickersteth brought him some Bibles and Bible study papers when he visited Baker in Tete Jaune Cache in 1912.

Books and Articles

Bickersteth, B.  The Land of the Open Doors: Being Letters from Western Canada.  Toronto: The Musson Book Co. Ltd., 1914, pp. 188-189. (PA)

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op. cit., p. 277.

 

TONY PARKES

Newspapers

Colonist, June 24, 1978, p. 17.

“Local Mormons to ordain Black”

This article announces that Tony Parkes will become the first Black ordained to the Mormon priesthood in Victoria on Sunday (June 25, 1978).  Mr. Parkes has been actively involved in the church in Victoria for eight years. It is also noted that although Blacks could be members of the church, until June 9, 1978, they were excluded from the priesthood in the Mormon faith.

 

WILLIAM ROBINSON

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit.  1st edition p. 109; 2nd edition p. 92.

Kilian notes that William Robinson began to teach Sunday school on Saltspring Island in 1861.

 

SYLVIA STARK

Several authors mention Sylvia Stark’s strong religious faith which helped her to endure the loneliness and hardships of pioneer life on Saltspring Island and in Nanaimo.

Books and Articles

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia. op.cit, , p. 67-72.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op. cit. 1st edition p. 108;  2nd edition p. 91.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871, op. cit. , p. 146.

Pilton provides biographical information about Sylvia Stark and the Stark family’s life on Saltspring.

Robson, E.  Diaries. December 21, 1861.  

Wallace, Maria A.  Sylvia Stark’s Story, op. cit. p. 21.

 

JOSEPHINE SULLIVAN

Josephine Sullivan was an active member of the Methodist Church and was known as “Gastown’s First Methodist”.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 155.

Morley, A.  Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis.  op.cit. , pp. 49. ,

 

MALINDA THORNE

The articles cited describe some of the activities of Malinda Thone, an ordained African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church elder, who has resided in Vancouver since 1957.  She runs God’s Rescue Mission and Miracle Centre where clients can obtain food and clothing as well as counselling from Rev. Thorne.  She is frequently a guest preacher at United and Baptist churches on the Lower Mainland and has been described as “part preacher, part social worker, part counsellor”.

Newspapers

Province, August 7, 1972.

“Malinda heading uptown but only for a short stand.”

Province, June 30, 1973, p. 12.

“Malinda Sounds Uptown”.

Sun, September 26, 1970, p. 16.

“Tiny Mission run by a woman with a large heart”.

Sun, September 25, 1971, p. 13.

Picture and brief caption

Sun, March 11, 1978, p. B5

“Malinda tosses a lifeline to any soul in need”.

 

Return to Table of Contents

In the early 1860's, Blacks in Victoria were involved in politics as a group and were a recognized political force.  By voting as a unified group, Blacks occupied a position of political power.  This period lasted only a few years because the Black population decreased in size, their interest in politics waned and Black political unity became fragmented.  Since then Blacks are involved in politics on a more individual basis, representing their specific constituents; several have served or are serving as elected political representatives. 

The individual poiticians included in this section are Emery Barnes, John Braithwaite, Rosemary Brown, Mifflin Gibbs, John Craven Jones, Henry Robinson, and John Freemont Smith.

 

Table of Contents

Legislative Assembly Elections in Victoria 1860-1864

Saltspring Island Municipal Council 1873-1883

Political Organizations

Politicians


 

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS IN VICTORIA 1860 - 1864

iN 1856 James Douglas formed the first Legislative Assembly which were in power until January 1860 when an election was held for a new fifteen member Assembly.  Blacks played a significant role in the outcome of this election.

The two seats available for Victoria representatives were contested by four candidates - Attorney General George Cary, Selim Franklin, Amor de Cosmos and Edward Langford.  Cary and Franklin were supporters of James Douglas, while de Cosmos and Langford were opposed to James Douglas and considered themselves 'reformers'.  Langford later withdrew leaving de Cosmos to run against Cary and Franklin.

Only British subjects were eligible to vote in the election and at that time there were no naturalization laws in the colonu so no one could become naturalized British subjects there.  This excluded the majority of Blacks wjo were neither British subjects, nor had become naturalized in another British colony.  In 1859, aware of a sizeable Black community, Cary and Franklin approached the Blacks with the suggestion that Blacks could vote simply by swearing an oath of allegiance.  This advice was based on the Dred Scott decision of the United States Supreme Court whicn among other things upheld the Blacks were not U.S. citizens.  To become a naturalized British subject it was necessaary to renounce previous citizenship and swear an oath of allegiance.  Since, by virtue of the Dred Scott decision, Blacks in effect had no citizenship to renounce, Cary and Franklin reasoned that swearing an oath of allegiance should be sufficient to become naturalized.  This suggestion, coming from the Attorney General himself, was favoured by the Blacks who desired the equality of franchise.

De Cosmos in a November 1859 editorial warned the Blacks that the Cary-Franklin suggestion was merely an attempt to secure their votes, but later when the Blacks swore the oath of allegiance and registered to vote, he did not object.  The result of the voting (which was public rather than by secret ballot), was Cary - 137, Franklin - 106 and de Cosmos - 91.  All eighteen Blacks who had voted, supported Cary and Franklin.

Immediately after the election, de Cosmos, the editor of the 'Colonist', began to write articles criticizing the participation of the Blacks in the election and the Blacks as a group.  He also attempted to initiate proceedings to have he voter's list examined but this was delayed and postponed by government design, until eventually after continuous public objections, a Court of Revisions was established in March 1861.  This Court made the decision that 24 out of the 26 Blacks who were on the registered list were not qualified and were struck from the list.

This event, however, did serve to make evident the need for naturalization law and in May 1861 Cary announced he would introduce such a bill in the Assembly and that year the 'Alien Act' was passed.

1861 was also the year of a by-election in Victoria for two vacant seats in the Legislative Assembly.  Jacob Francis, a Black saloon keeper, announced his intention to run in this election adn was duly nominated.  Joseph Trutch who was not in the colony at the time, was also nominated.  An objection to his nomination was raised on the grounds that he was not present to swear the oath of allegiance required of all candidates.  Nevertheless, his nomination was accepted.  There were four candidates for the two vacant seats and the results of the voting were: Trimble - 38, Trutch - 36, Francis - 11, and Young - 4.  There was public debate and support for Francis' claim to the seat, but Trimble and Trutch were sworm into office.  Jacob Francis hired a lawyer and prepared a petition concerning the legality of Trutch's election.  The committee, established by the Assembly to investigate Francis' claim, rejected his petition on a technicality - the petition had "erasures and interlineations".  Francis was advised to submit a new petition but in the meantime the deadline for submitting a petition expired and Francis was not given an extension.  Trutch's questionable election stood.

A new House of Assembly was to be elected in 1863.  The Alien Act of 1861 had enabled Blacks to become naturalized British subjects and having met the property requirements, 52 Blacks were placed on the voter’s list.  Amor de Cosmos was again a candidate. He attempted to secure the votes of the Blacks but for the most part these overtures were unsuccessful.  A few Blacks did vote for de Cosmos and some did not vote at all.  In this election, the voting of Blacks was not a significant factor as de Cosmos gained his seat with a healthy majority.

In an 1864 by-election three candidates – Searby, Franklin and Welch – ran for one available seat.  One of the key issues of this election was the proposed Alien Bill which would give all naturalized subjects the rights of British subjects, including the right to run for legislative office.  At that time there existed a law that only British subjects by birth and not by naturalization could take a seat in the Assembly.  This law effectively excluded the majority of Blacks including Mifflin Gibbs, an acknowledged leader of the Black community.

In an effort to gain the votes of Blacks, Searby promised to support the Alien Bill despite the fact that years before he had espoused segregation in the churches and had stated publicly that he would not sit on the same Board with a Black man.  Franklin, on the other hand, would not commit his support to the Alien Bill.  Eventually the majority of Blacks made a pledge to back Searby, except for some Jamaicans, who were already British-born and would not benefit from the Bill.  Many Blacks did not vote at all but the Jamaicans and three Black Americans voted for Franklin who defeated Searby by a seven vote margin.

This election marked an end to a period of Black political unity and power derived from that unity.  As well, Blacks were already beginning to return to the United States and their interest in Victoria politics diminished.

Books and Articles

Foner, F.  The Colored Inhabitants of Vancouver Island.  op.cit. , pp. 29-33.

Higgins, D.W.  The Passing of a Race and More Tales of Western Life.  op.cit. , pp.166-168.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition pp.64-74, 129-131; 2nd edition Chapter 6 (pp. 51-60), 59, 96, 109.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , pp. 282-285.

Wild, R.  Amor de Cosmos.  op.cit. , pp.45-46, 97-98.

Woodcock, G.  Amor de Cosmos: journalist and reformer.  op.cit. , pp. 49-50.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia – 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp.89-111, 186.

Walden, F.E.  The Social History of Victoria, British Columbia.  op.cit. , pp.22-24.

Newspapers

Colonist, November 21, 1859. p.2.

“A Trap”.

Amor de Cosmos gives his opinion on the upcoming Victoria election and is particularly concerned about the Blacks voting before the passage of a naturalization bill which would permit them to become British subjects.  He warns “the foreign portion” that they are being trapped into voting illegally.

Colonist, January 10, 1860.

“The Late Election”.

In this editorial Amor de Cosmos comments on the Victoria election which he lost to Cary and Franklin who won with the support of the Blacks.  He blames Attorney General Cary who encouraged the Blacks to take an oath of allegiance to vote.  He asks why “colored men” who had come straight from slavery should have the right to vote in only four months.

Colonist, January 10, 1860, p.2.

“Cary-Franklin Jollification”.

This article describes the victory celebration held by the Black residents of the community and the two winning candidates.  The speeches of George Cary and Jacob Francis, a Black man, are reported.

Colonist, January 12, 1860.

“The Election and the Colored People”.

In this long letter signed “Shears”, the writer states that the Blacks voted on the basis of “who is most friendly to the ‘nigger’ or who will promise the most to the colored men”.  The writer goes on to suggest that Blacks “always want a little more liberty than white men … acting upon the mistaken notion that freedom is without limits, they succeed in making themselves hated wherever they go”.

Colonist, January 14, 1860.

“The Election and the Colored People”.

In this lengthy letter, Mifflin Gibbs writes a rebuttal to “Shears” criticism of Blacks in connection with the election.

Colonist, January 14, 1860.

This letter written by “Shears” criticizes the editor of the ‘Gazette’ for defending the Blacks’ voting in the recent Victoria election.

Colonist, February 14, 1860.

“Getting Paid”.

The writer of the article states that Blacks who had voted for Cary and Franklin had been placed on the jury lists.

Colonist, February 16, 1860.

“Bargain and Sale”.

This is a letter signed “Anglo-African” who criticized the Blacks who voted for Cary and Franklin.  The writer felt that they only voted in order to secure free concert tickets and be placed on the jury lists.

Colonist, March 12, 1861.

“Court of Revision”.

There is a reprint of the testimony given during the hearing to decide on objections to the 1859-1861 registered lists of voters.  The names of the Blacks who were allowed to remain on the list are given.

Colonist, March 13, 1861.

“Court of Revision”.

This is a continuation of the testimony given during the hearing.  Mifflin Gibbs’ name was retained on the voters list and Peter Lester gave testimony.

Colonist, March 23, 1861.

“Court of Revision”.

This is an account of the Revising Barrister, M.W.T. Drake’s ruling that this court did not agree with a previous decision that any persons who are not citizens of any other country, could become British subjects immediately upon their arrival on British soil.  He therefore was striking off the list, names of numerous Black people including Peter Lester.

Colonist, March 23, 1861.

“How the Obstructives Treat Their Colored Voters”.

In this editorial, de Cosmos comments on the deceit of the Blacks by the same men who after using them, remove the names of Blacks from the voters list.

Colonist, May 21, 1861.

It is reported that at a public meeting Cary announced his intention to put forward in the Assembly, naturalization law – an Alien Act.  The issue of Blacks voting in previous elections was again brought up and Gibbs defended their right to vote.  At this meeting Gibbs and Cary disagreed over the intent of Cary’s suggestion prior to the 1860 election, that Blacks could become eligible to vote by swearing an oath of allegiance.

Colonist, November 16, 1861.

“Nomination Day”.

Jacob Francis is nominated by James Thorne and J.D. Carroll as a candidate in the upcoming Victoria election.

Colonist, November 16, 1861.

“Election Day”.

This article deals with the Victoria election in which Trimble, Trutch, Francis and Young were the candidates.

Colonist, November 18, 1861.

“Trutch Considered to have been Elected Illegally in Victoria District”.

This article supports Jacob Francis’ claim to the seat in the Victoria election because the writer considered the election of Trutch illegal.

Colonist, November 27, 1861.

“The Colored Question”.

This letter signed “West Indian” comments on the public debate over the possible election of a Black man to the House of Assembly.

Colonist, December 10, 1861.

This article describes how Trutch was sworn in despite Francis’ petition which was rejected because of “erasures and interlineations”.  It was necessary for Francis to submit a new petition but the time by which he should do this had already expired, and no extension would be granted.

Colonist, January 19, 1864.

There is a reprint of a letter written by Mifflin Gibbs to Searby to determine Searby’s stand on the Alien Bill.

Colonist, January 19, 1864.

In his reply to Mifflin Gibb’s letter, Searby states that he would support Mr. Ridge’s bill for the naturalization of aliens when it was introduced to the House.

Colonist, January 20, 1864.

There is a description of a political meeting in which Mifflin Gibbs is noted as the leader of the Blacks who attended and pledged to support Searby who favoured an Alien Bill.

Colonist, January 27, 1864.

“The Colored Vote”.

The writer comments on the result of the recent election and discusses the consequences of the Blacks voting in the 1860 election.

Chronicle, July 18, 1863.

The article reports the opinions of Mifflin Gibbs and Willis Bond concerning the approaching election.  The men gave reasons that they could not support de Cosmos’ candidacy until they “saw how he behaved himself.”

Chronicle, July 18, 1863.

It is reported that the Black voters number fifty-two and that their vote would determine the outcome of the election.

Evening Express, January 22, 1864.

In this letter to the editor signed “J. Cathcart alias Jamaica” the writer expressed his reasons for opposing the Alien Bill.

Evening Express, January 25, 1864.

The article suggests that the Alien Bill would only enable Lester and Gibbs to enter the Legislative Assembly and that all the other “aliens did not wish to give up their citizenship.  Only Blacks wanted to “meddle” and enter the House.

Evening Express, February 25, 1864.

This article suggests that Blacks had been given too many privileges and proposed that the period of residence required for naturalization be extended.

Gazette, January 9, 1860.

In this article the editor asks why the right of the Blacks to vote had not been challenged at the time of voter registration and also asks if de Cosmos had hoped to secure the votes of the Blacks himself.

Gazette, January 9, 1860.

“Political Meeting”.

The writer gives an account of the meeting to celebrate the victory of Cary and Franklin in the Victoria election.

Gazette, January 9, 1860.

A person signing “H.P.” points out incidents of discrimination against members of the Black community who had voted for Cary and Franklin in the recent election.

Gazette, January 11, 1860.

“Facts”.

The Victoria election and the participation of the Blacks in the election is discussed.

Gazette, July 23, 25, 1860.

These articles deal with complaints about illegal voting in the 1860 election.  The election committee refused to open the registration lists because they had already been closed by the revising barrister.

Press, March 23, 1861.

The decision to remove the names of the majority of Blacks from the voters list is reported.

Press, November 12, 1861.

Jacob Francis announces his intention to run as an independent candidate for the vacant seat in the Legislative Assembly.

Press, November 20, 1861.

It is reported that Jacob Francis had retained a lawyer to investigate the legality of the election of Joseph Trutch.

Press, November 21, 1861.

The editor supports Jacob Francis’ legal right to the disputed seat in the recent election.

Sun, January 11, 1977, p. 27.

“We Like to Pretend” by James K. Nesbitt.

This article deals with prejudice in B.C. past and present.  Sections quoted from Philip S. Foner’s article on the political position of Blacks in Victoria during the 1860’s, comprise a large portion of this report.

^Table of Contents^

THE SALTSPRING ISLAND MUNICIPAL COUNCIL 1873 – 1883.

In 1873, Letters of Patent were issued to establish the Municipality and Township of Saltspring Island and seven Town Councillors were elected.  Two of the councillors were Black -  John C Jones and Henry W. Robinson who also served as Municipal Clerk.

Throughout the ten year existence of the Municipality, there was controversy surrounding its activities.  Some Saltspring residents were more self-sufficient pioneers who preferred to remain independent of any political organization.  Other residents felt that the Council could hasten the process of development of the Island.  (These divisions do not appear to have been related to race.)  There were often charges of election malpractice, financial mismanagement and other irregularities.

In 1881, settlers brought charges against three men, including Henry W. Robinson, for election malpractices which resulted in the election being declared void.  Eventually in May 1863, the Provincial Legislature passed an Act to annul the Letters of Patent establishing Saltspring as a Municipality and this period of political activity on Saltspring Island came to an end. 

Books and Articles

Flucke, A.F.  Early Days on Saltspring Island.  op.cit. , pp. 194-199.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , p, 114.

Roberts, E.  Saltspring Saga.  op.cit. , pp. 61-63.

Winks, R. The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 278.

Manuscripts

Irby, C.  Black Settlers on Saltspring Island in the Nineteenth Century.  op.cit. , p. 10.

Newspapers

Colonist, January 16, 1873.

“Saltspring Municipal Election”.

Colonist, April 22, 1882.

“Saltspring Island Election Case”.

POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

INDEPENDENT COLOURED POLITICAL ASSOCIATION

Books and Articles

 Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p, 160; 2nd edition p. 140.

The author notes that in Vancouver in 1914 Jay Mack McAdow, known as “Johnny Mack” organized the Independent Colored Political Association (ICPO) to encourage Blacks to become naturalized and to educate themselves politically.  The ICPO existed for 5 years under the leadership of McAdow.   In the 2nd edition Kilian notes that the organization encouraged young Blacks to become teachers and nurses.

Newspapers

Province, November 30, 1940. P. 14.

“British Columbians of the Week”.

This article provides a brief history of the Blacks in B.C. and focuses on the formation of the Independent Colored Political Organization in 1914.

^Table of Contents^

POLITICIANS

EMERY OAKLAND BARNES

Since 1972 Emery Barnes has been a New Democratic Party member of the Provincial Legislature representing Vancouver Centre.  During the NDP’s years in power, he acted as Party Whip and was one of the few New Democratic Party MLA’s to survive the Social Credit landslide in the 1975 provincial election.

He was elected four consecutive times, serving until 1996; during that time, in 1994, he was elected Speaker of the Legislature. 

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Black Tiles in the Mosaic, op.cit.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , p. 310.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing. , op.cit. , 1st edition p. 167, 169; 2nd edition p. 145-146.

Newspapers

Newspaper Index

As stated in the 1st edition of this catalogue: There were 48 cards (each with an average of 6 entries) listing articles pertaining to Emery Barnes, which have appeared in Vancouver or Victoria newspapers from December 1959 to June 1978.

Aural History Tapes

Tape #2687: 3 side 2

Emery Barnes speaks briefly on national unity in 1977.

JOHN BRAITHWAITE

When elected in 1972, John Braithwaite topped the polls and served as a North Vancouver alderman until 1976.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , p. 277.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing. , op.cit. , 1st edition pp. 167, 169; 2ND edition pp 145.

Newspapers

Newspaper Index.

As stated in the 1st edition of this catalogue:  There are eight cards (each with an average of six entries) listing several articles pertaining to John Braithwaite which have appeared in Vancouver and Victoria newspapers from June 1958 to October 1977.

ROSEMARY BROWN

In 1972 Rosemary Brown began serving as a New Democratic Party member of the provincial Legislative Assembly representing Vancouver-Burrard.  In 1975 she ran for the federal leadership of the New Democratic Party and came in second.  She was re-elected as a provincial MLA in 1975 even though the NDP was defeated in that election.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Black Tiles in the Mosaic, op.cit.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , pp. 278, 300, 308, 309.

Fotheringham, C.  The Pure Left Politics of Rosemary Brown. , op.cit.

Gould, C.  Women of British Columbia. , op.cit. , pp. 200-203

Hobbs, L.  Why is Rosemary Running?  , op.cit.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing. , op.cit. , 1st edition p. 167, 169-171; 2nd edition p. 145.

Newspapers

Newspaper Index

As stated in the 1st edition of this catalogue: There were 139 cards (each with an average of six entries) listing articles pertaining to Rosemary Brown, which have appeared in the Vancouver and Victoria newspapers from February 1971 to August 1978.

Aural History Tapes

Tape #1010 – 1.  February 1, 1977.

Ms. Brown is interviewed after returning from the World Conference of Blacks held in Nigeria.  She comments that most people who attended were surprised to learn that there was a Black population in Canada and that she could be a political representative elected by a predominately white community.

Tape #1010-2.  February 28, 1977.

Recorded on this tape is a speech given by Rosemary Brown to a group of handicapped people who came to Victoria to address Human Resources Minister, Bill Vanderzalm, who refused to meet with the group.

Side 2.  March 4, 1977.

Ms. Brown criticizes the new rates announced for handicapped people by Human Resources Minister, Bill Vanderzalm.

Tape #1010-3 – Side 1.  March 14, 1977.

Rosemary Brown presents her critique of the philosophy of the Ministry of Human Resources and discusses the problems of welfare recipients in B.C.

Side 2. June 22, 1977.

Ms. Brown criticizes the decision of Mr. Vanderzalm to eliminate the Vancouver Resources Board.

Tape #1209-3.  March 24, 1977. – Side Two.

Rosemary Brown discusses the Pharmacare program and notes the lack of programs available to the sick and elderly.

Digital

For Jackson: A Time Capsule from His Two Grandmothers. , Leila Sujir (Writer and Director). Leila Sujir (LRS Producer). Germaine Ying Gee Wong. (NFB Producer). Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2003

This 1-hour documentary features the late politician and activist Rosemary Brown. 
This moving portrait incorporates interviews, family footage and archival materials to recount history through two grandmothers, Rosemary Brown (1930-2003) and Ruth Horricks-Sujir (born 1925). The documentary is intended as a time capsule for Jackson, their 7-year-old grandson.

Works by Rosemary Brown

A New Kind of Power.  Women in the Canadian Mosaic. Edited by Gwen Matheson.  Toronto: P. Martin Associates, 1976.  Pp. 289-298. (PA).

Feminism and Socialism.  Herstory and Policy.  NDP Women’s Committee.  British Columbia NDP, 1971., pp. 1-9. (LL).

The Negroes. , op.cit. ,  pp. 237-242.

MIFFLIN WISTAR GIBBS

Mifflin Gibbs is one of the recognized leaders and spokesman of the pioneer Black community.  He was a candidate for City Councillor in the August 1862 Victoria municipal election and was defeated by only four votes.  Gibbs felt that there had been some irregularities in the election procedure but later withdrew his protest.  In November 1866 he again ran for City Council and was elected in the James Bay Ward.  He was Chairman of the Finance Committee and even served briefly as acting Mayor.  In 1868 the settlers of Saltspring Island elected Gibbs as their representative to the Yale Convention to define the terms of B.C.’s entry into Confederation.  He was re-elected to the Victoria City Cpuncil in 1868 and in January 1869 he took a three month leave of absence in order to build a wharf and tramway for the Queen Charlotte Coal Company.  Having outstayed his leave of absence, Gibbs lost his seat in July 1869. 

He returned to the United States and in 1873 he became the first Black Judge.  He was elected to this position in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He later was appointed U.S. Consul for Madagascar from 1897 to 1901.  In 1907 he visited Victoria and in 1915 he died in Little Rock.

Books and Articles

Beasley, Delilah L.  The Negro Trailblazer of California, Los Angeles, 1919, pp. 110-113 (PA)

Bertley, L.  Black Tiles in the Mosaic, op.cit.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent. , op.cit. , p. 303. 

Brown, T. The Negroes. , op.cit. ,  pp. 237-238.

Gould, C.  Women of British Columbia. , op.cit. , p. 91. 

Higgins, D.W. The Passing of a Race and More Tales of Western Life. , op.cit.  p. 174.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  , op.cit, 1st edition pp. 127-128, 140-146; 2nd edition p. 11-13, 55-56, 58, 107-109, 117-124.

Pethick, D.  Men of British Columbia., op.cit. , pp. 80-83.

Gibbs is mentioned as a delegate to the Yale Convention in the following works:

Akrigg, G.F.V. & H.B.  British Columbia Chronicle, 1847 – 1871.  Gold and colonists.  , op.cit. , p. 360.

Begg, A.  History of British Columbia. , op.cit. , pp. 285, 383.

Smith, D. B. (Ed.) The Reminiscences of Doctor John Sebastion Hamilton. , op.cit. , pp. 246-247.

Woodcock, G.  Amor de Cosmos. , op.cit. , p. 114.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.  , op.cit. , pp. 82-89, 107-110, 138, 183.

Newspapers

Colonist, January 8, 1867

“Mifflin Gibbs”.

Colonist, March 23, 1869.

“Victoria House”.

Colonist, August 31, 1907.

“Pioneer Victorian Spends Day in City”.

Colonist, February 9, 1958.

“It was the Negroes Seeking Freedom Who Formed First Victoria Militia” by A.J. Arnold.

Colonist, July 28, 1974.

“One Man’s Crusade” by Ruth Herberg.

Colonist, February 17, 2017

“Black pioneer Mifflin Wistar Gibbs honoured with plaque”.

The article states that Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, a Victoria pioneer and the first black person to hold elected office in B.C., will be honoured with a bronze plaque being unveiled on Sunday as part of B.C. Black History and Heritage Day.  The article includes a brief biography of Gibbs.

Evening Bulletin, June 23, 1858 – Gibbs, M.W. File.

Letter written by Gibbs from Victoria to friend “L” in California dated June 16, 1858.

Montreal Star, April 12, 1962 – Gibbs, M.W. File.

“The Negro Judge of Little Rock, Gibbs, Unique U.S. – Canadian Figure Hundred Years Ago”  by A.J. Arnold.

Press, August 11, 1862.

M.W. Gibbs offers himself as candidate for City Councillor.

Press, August 12, 1862.

There is a report of a public meeting involving Gibbs.

Times, May 23, 1962.

“Mifflin Gibbs Became Consul”.

Victorian, December 3, 1970.

“Mifflin Gibbs man to Remember” by Tom Peterson.

 

Works by Mifflin Gibbs

Shadow and Light: an Autobiography.  Washington D.C. 1902 pp. 61-62 (PA)

 

JOHN CRAVEN JONES

HENRY WILKINSON ROBINSON

It is noted in several works that John C. Jones and Henry W. Robinson were elected to the first seven man Municipal Council on Saltspring Island in 1873.

Books and Articles

Flucke, A.F. Early Days on Saltspring Island. , op.cit. , pp. 194-199.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition p. 114 

Roberts, E. Saltspring Saga.  op.cit.  pp. 61-63.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit.  p. 278.

Manuscripts

Irby. C.  Black Settlers on Saltspring Island in the Nineteenth Century.  op.cit.  p. 10.

 

JOHN FREEMONT SMITH

J.F. Smith was an alderman in Kamloops from 1902 to 1908.  

Books and Articles

Balf. M.  Kamloops: A History of the District to 1914.   Op.cit. pp.80, 109, 116, 120.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition p. 154, 2nd edition p. 134.

 

^Table of Contents^

The legal issues reported in this section are divided into two main categories. The first category is civil or human rights issues involving discriminatory actions against Blacks. The second is criminal cases involving crimes committed by Blacks and  crimes committed against Black People.  There is also information specific to the Cariboo Region. The majority of the incidents included in this section occurred during colonial times.  This does not indicate that these kinds of events occur less frequently today.  It should also be considered that then and now there are incidents that were not reported and/or not documented.   There are numerous cases presented in this section, the Table of Contents will guide you to the most famous/infamous cases.

Table of Contents - Most Infamous Cases

Jury Duty

Access to Drinking Establishments

Theatre Segregation

The Aurora Company and Davis Company Case

The Charles Mitchell Case

The Val Romily Case

Criminal Cases - Victoria

Willis Bond

Criminal Cases - Cariboo

Ned McGowan's War

The Charles Blessing Murder Case

The Robinson and Curtis Murders

The Death of Louis Stark


CIVIL/HUMAN RIGHTS

JURY DUTY

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 138.

Kilian notes that Blacks were barred from jury duty between 1860 and 1872.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.  op.cit. , pp. 202-203.

Pilton states that a Black man served on a jury in 1860 but prejudice prevented Blacks from any jury duty until 1872 when a resolution was presented in the House requesting that the names of Blacks be placed on the jury lists.  This resolution did not pass but Blacks were called as jurors eight months later.

Newspapers

Colonist, February 18, 1860.

“A negro on the jury list”

It is noted that Mr. Peter Lester, a Black grocer, was the first juror called in the Butts case.  Butts objected to him at first, but Lester was allowed to take his seat with the jury.

Colonist, March 7, 1872.

“Colored men as Jurors”.

This article states that the House had been presented with a petition signed by a number of Black residents who complained that they were barred from serving as jurors.  The writer supports the petition since there was no law prohibiting Blacks from serving as jurors and suggests that the matter be taken up at the next Assizes.

Colonist, March 21, 1872.

“Colored jurors”.

The report states that the House declined to pass a resolution that the Governor be asked to instruct the Sheriff to place the names of Blacks on the jury list.

Colonist, November 27, 1872.

This article noted that Blacks who had not set on juries since 1860 were placed on jury lists on November 26, 1872.  

New Westminster Times, February 18, 1860.

“Have Them Right”.

The author states that the attitude of the American in British Columbia towards the Blacks gets worse when Blacks are placed on the jury.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

ACCESS TO DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTS

The sources listed provide accounts of incidents leading to court cases when William Bastion and Jacob Francis were refused service or given questionable service in drinking establishments during colonial times.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 126-127

Fawcett, E.  Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria.  op.cit. , p. 218.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 284.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.  op.cit. , pp. 202-203.

Walden, F.E. The Social History of Victoria, British Columbia.  op.cit. , p. 23.

Newspapers

Colonist, January 14, 1860.

“Social Equality”

This is a comment on the court case which arose from J.D. Carroll’s selling ale for 50¢ to a Black man, William Bastion.  Bastion charged Carroll with extortion, but the case was dismissed.

Colonist, June 26, 1862.

“Wouldn’t Let Him Drink”.

Notice is given that Jacob Francis had a summons served on the proprietor of the Bank Exchange, Mr. Lovett, who refused to give Francis a drink in his saloon.

Colonist, June 28, 1862.

“Shall a Black Man Drink at a White Man’s Bar”.

This is a report of the arguments and evidence presented in the court case involving Lovett’s refusal to serve Jacob Francis a drink.  The case was dismissed to a later date.

Colonist, July 5, 1862.

“Shall a Colored Man Drink at a White Man’s Bar”

In the case involving Jacob Francis and Lovett, the magistrate ruled that any barkeeper refusing service to Black men would not be given a license or would be find five pounds sterling and their license would not be renewed.

Colonist, June 28, 1962. p. 11.

“Saloon Sit-in Ends Color Bar”.

This is a contemporary report on the case involving Francis and Lovett in which Magistrate Pemberton ruled that he would not issue a license to anyone refusing to serve Blacks.

Gazette, April 23, 1860.

“Refusing Drinks to Colored Men – Jacob Francis vs. Milotich”.

In this case involving the refusal of Milotich to serve Jacob Francis a drink, Judge Cameron classified the saloon as an inn and ruled that since Mr. Francis was not a guest, he was not entitled to be served.  Therefore, “no injuries were sustained” by Francis nor could “damages be given”.

 As stated in the 1978 edition of this document: There are reports of similar cases in more recent times.

Books and Articles

Davis, M. & Krauter, J.  The Negroes.  op.cit. p. 48.

The authors report that in the case of Rodgers vs. Clarence Hotel, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the right of a beer parlour owner to refuse service to a Black Person.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 161; 2nd edition p. 141.

Kilian relates the case of Ed Rodgers, a Vancouver shoemaker who was refused service in a downtown beer parlour in 1938.  Rodgers took the case to court but was not awarded damages until two years later.

Newspapers

Vancouver Newspaper, February 23, 1950.

“Negro Given Damages because the City Hotel Refused to Serve Him Beer”.

This report on the outcome of the court case involving Ed Rodgers who was refused service in a Vancouver beer parlour.

Vancouver Newspaper, February 25, 1940.

“Tribute to Colored Race Appreciated”.

In this article Ed Rodgers reported his reasons for bringing his case to court.  He wanted it established that Blacks have the same rights and privileges as other British subjects.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 30, 1948.

“Colour Bar Said Drawn in Local Pub”.

This article noted that the international representative of the Packinghouse Workers Union is bringing charges before the Vancouver Labour Council against a beer parlour concerning discrimination encountered by Charles Ross, a Black shop steward in the union.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

THEATRE SEGREGATION

Theatre Incident – July 30, 1860.

The sources indicated mention that a Black man who “forced his way into the ‘parquette’ of the Colonial Theatre” was rotten-egged. It seems that no court action resulted from this incident.  (At that time it appears that integrated seating in the less expensive gallery seats was deemed acceptable but not in the more expensive ‘parquette’ seats.)

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 116.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 188.

Newspapers

Colonist, July 31, 1860.

“Rotten Egged”

This is a short report on a Black man who was pelted with rotten eggs when he entered the ‘parquette’ of the theatre.

Theatre Incident – November 3, 1860.

The sources cited provide an account of the events which occurred when two Black men attempted to enter the ‘parquette’ of the Colonial Theatre.  A general melee erupted and after the police arrived upon this scene, which was later described as a ‘riot’, the police arrested seven men, five of whom were Black.  Judge Pemberton dismissed the case against the two white men and one of the Black men, but three Black men, Stephen Anderson, Adolph Richards and George Washington, were ordered to stand trial.  At the trial on November 12, 1860, the three men were acquitted of the charge of conspiring to cause a riot.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 117 - 119.

Winks, R. The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 283, 284.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 189-191.

Newspapers

Colonist, November 8, 1860

“The Theatre Rioters” .

This is an account of the examination by the police of those men involved with the Colonial Theatre riot.  A description of the scene was given by the white members of the company, the doorkeeper, the treasurer and members of the audience.

Colonist, November 10, 1860.

“The Prospects Tonight”.

It is reported that a large police force would be guarding the theatre in the event that there was another riot. The police had observed “quite a few strange coloured men” about the town.

Colonist, November 13, 1860.

“Court of Assizes – The Theatre Rioters”.

This is a complete transcript of the trial of Stephen Anderson, Adolph Richards and George Washington.  The case against the three men was dismissed for lack of evidence but the three were advised not to go near the theatre.

Colonist, June 10, 1973, p. 4.

“Racial Prejudice Created Riot in Victoria” by T.W. Paterson.

The author presents his account of the “riot” and “invasion” of the Colonial Theatre and its aftermath in November 1860.

Colonist, July 11, 1973, p.4.

“Correcting a False Impression.  Going Back 113 Years”. By Peggy Cartwright (daughter of an original settler.) 

Ms. Cartwright writes a letter to refute the article “In 1860 Racial Prejudice Created Riot in Victoria”.  She argues that Amor de Cosmos was well known for his “racist attitudes and intemperance of expressions”.  She states that the article fails to mention that the Black men charged with creating a riot were found not guilty.

Theatre Incident – September 25, 1861.

Mifflin and Maria Gibbs, Nathan Pointer and his daughter went to a hospital benefit concert at the Colonial Theatre where they had seats in the dress circle.  Before the performance one of the entertainers, Emil Sutro, asked the Blacks to leave the dress circle.  The Blacks refused, Sutro decided not to perform and the concert began.  Near the end of the concert, a newspaper package of flour was tossed at the Blacks.  This led to a general “row” which was quelled by the police and resulted in charges against all involved.  Pointer and Gibbs accused a white man, William L. Ryckman, of throwing the flour.  Judge Pemberton acquitted Ruckman of this charge.  Gibbs pleaded guilty to assaulting Ryckman and was fined five pounds sterling.  The charge against Pointer was dropped.  The white men, James a McCrea and Edward F. Boyce were charged with conspiring to create a riot, but they too were eventually acquitted. 

One of the consequences of these cases was that theatres, on their handbills and posters, began to state that Blacks were permitted in the gallery seats only.  The response of the Blacks to this was to form a committee to petition James Douglas to guarantee the rights of Blacks.  No action was taken by James Douglas.

Books and Articles

Johnson, Patricia M. McCreight and the Law.  British Columbia Historical Quarterly.  Volume XII, January 1948, pp. 138-139.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition pp. 119-124.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 284.

Higgins, D.W.  The Passing of a Race and More Tales of Western Life.  op.cit. , p. 175.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 191-197.

Walden, F.E. The Social History of Victoria.  op.cit. , p. 23.

Newspapers

Colonist, September 26, 1861.

“Row at the Theatre”.

This article briefly describes the theatre disturbance which occurred the previous evening.  It is noted that warrants would be issued for the arrest of the participants.

Colonist, September 27, 1861.

“The Theatre Rumpus:”.

It is reported that two summons were issued by the police magistrate on September 26, 1861, against the “parties alleged to have been concerned in the theatre rumpus”.

Colonist, October 1, 1861.

“The Assault with Flour on Two Coloured Men”.

This is a long, detailed account of the court case in which M.WE. Gibbs and N. Pointer charged W.L. Ryckman with assault and the counter charge preferred by W.L. Ryckman against Mr. M. Gibbs and N. Pointer.  The testimony of all the witnesses is reprinted.

Colonist, October 11, 1861.

“The Theatre Rumpus”.

This is a continuation of the testimony of witnesses involved in the assault cases resulting from the theatre disturbance of September 25.  The case against Ryckman was dismissed and Gibbs was fined for the assault of Ryckman.  The conspiracy charges against McCrea and Ryckman were introduced.

Colonist, October 15, 1861.

“The Theatre Rumpus”.

In this article the author states that McCrea and Boyce were ordered to pay two sureties of fifty pounds sterling and one hundred pounds sterling each to insure their next court appearance.   

Colonist, November 19, 2017

“1861 Theatre Ruckus Sparked Racism Debate” by Dave Obee, Editor.

On the day that the City of Victoria declared today to be Mifflin Wistar Gibbs Day, in honour of Gibbs becoming the first black elected official in Canada on Nov. 19, 1866, 150 years ago; the  Times Colonist ran an article recalling the events and mentioning that the ‘theatre ruckus’ dominated the headlines for several days.  The author goes on to say the newspaper’s position at the time was clear. “It matters not whether a man carried a black skin or a white one under his shirt,” said the editorial, which was probably written by Amor De Cosmos, the newspaper’s owner at the time. “If he has lawfully purchased a privilege to attend a concert no one should interfere with his enjoyment.”

Press, October 11, 1861.

“The Theatre Assault Case”.

The testimony of the witnesses involved in the theatre row of September 25, 1861 is reprinted.

Colonial Correspondence

Petition to James Douglas from W.D. Moses, Jacob Francis, F. Richard, Wm. Brown, Richard H. Johnson.

This updated petition reports the grievances of the Black community concerning the theatre segregation and requests that James Douglas to make recommendations to guarantee the rights of Blacks.  It is signed “on behalf of Two Hundred and Sixty colored residents”.

Theatre Incident – December 10, 1863.

The sources cited note that Al McCarthy, a Black man, was arrested after a disturbance when he was unable to take the seat for which he had a ticket, in the dress circle.  In the ensuing court case, it was argued that McCarthy had a right to sit in the seat for which he had a ticket.  The charge against him for creating a disturbance was dismissed, but he was fined $250 for resisting arrest.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition pp. 124-125.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 198.

Newspapers

Chronicle, December 11, 1863.

“Arrest”.

This article reports the arrest of Al McCarthy.

Chronicle, December 12, 1863.

“The Disturbance at the Theatre”.

It is reported that the charge against McCarthy was dismissed but he was fined for resisting arrest.

Theatre Incident – December 16?, 1863.

The authors cited note that three Black men, Adolph Richards, Fortune Richards and James Fountain, were refused Colonial Theatre seats for which they had tickets.  The three brought a suit of $500 each against the manager but lost their case.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition pp. 125.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 198.

Newspapers

Chronicle, December 19, 1863.

It is reported that three Black men commenced a suits for the sum of $500 each in damages against a theatre manager who refused them entrance to a particular section of the theatre.

Theatre Incident – November, 1865.

In 1864, after the Victoria Theatre manager circulated handbills advising patrons that Blacks would not be permitted in the Dress Circle or Orchestra Seats, Blacks petitioned Governor Kennedy to act on their behalf.   The government’s reply was sympathetic, but no action was taken.  The authors also report in November 1865, John Dunlop was barred from the Victoria Theatre but he was probably the last Black to be accorded this discriminatory treatment in Victoria during colonial times.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit.  1st edition pp. 125-126.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 199-200.

Newspapers

Colonist, November 23, 1865.

John Dunlop, a Black man, writes a letter to the editor concerning his being refused admission to the theatre.

Colonial Correspondence

Petition to Governor Kennedy from J. Francis, E.B. Talloch, Thomas P. Freeman, Wm. Brown, and Harry Plumber, and Henry Wakeford’s reply, October 5, 1864.

A Victoria Theatre Playbill, noting restrictions on seating available to Blacks, is enclosed with the October 5, 1864 petition.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

THE AURORA COMPANY AND DAVIS COMPANY CASE

This brief outline of the Aurora and Davis case is derived from the sources cited.  This is a very complex case involving a William’s Creek mining claim dispute from 1862 to 1866.  The dispute was between the Aurora Company, composed entirely of white miners, and the Davis Company, formed through a merger of the all Black Harvey-Dixon Company and the all-white Davis Company.  In June 1866, a jury reached a verdict that the claim would be divided equally between the Aurora and Davis Companies.  Dissatisfied with the decision of the jury, Chief Justice Matthew Baillie Begbie suggested that he act as arbitrator and this was agreed to by both parties.  Then, disregarding the colony’s mining regulations, Judge Begbie re-interpreted the case and awarded the bulk of the claim to the Aurora Company and ruled that the Blacks were not entitled to a share of what little went to the Davis Company.  This decision caused a quite a controversy among all the miners who generally supported the Davis Company and who were convinced about their mining rights as well.  In any event, Judge Begbie’s decision stood.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition pp. 95-99; 2nd edition 81-82.

Also briefly mentioned in:

Brown, R. The Negroes.  op.cit. , p. 239.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent.  op.cit. , p, 109.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 154-160.

Newspapers

Columbian, July 18, 1866.

“The Miners and the Judiciary”

This is an editorial comment about the establishment of a Court of Appeal which was requested by a delegation of Cariboo miners who were dissatisfied with Judge Begbie.

Cariboo Sentinel, May 31, 1866.

“Decisive Stand Taken by Judge Cox”

This article describes an attempt made by the Aurora Company to get an injunction to cease work against the Davis Company.  Judge Begbie who was out of the district ordered Judge Cox to issue the injunction but Cox refused to do so on the grounds that he had no authority to act in this matter.

Cariboo Sentinel, June 18, 1866.

  This is an editorial supporting the validity of the verdict reached by the jury in the case of the Davis Company and the Aurora Company mining claim dispute.

Cariboo Sentinel, June 21, 1866.

“Davis Co. vs. Aurora Co.”

The editor comments on the verdict of the jury and Judge Begbie’s interpretation of the verdict.

Cariboo Sentinel, June 25, 1866.

“Mass Meeting”.

This article reported that about 500 – 600 miners met in orderly protest over Judge Begbie’s “partial, dictatorial and arbitrary” administration of the Mining Laws.  They passed several resolutions including a demand for the immediate removal of Judge Begbie.  Frank Laumeister, one of the Davis Company miners, when referring to his Black partners stated that “if there is only a dollar comes out, they (Black miners) shall have their pro-rata share”.

Cariboo Sentinel, June 25, 1866.

This letter to the editor signed by a “Colored Miner” asks, in regard to Judge Begbie’s decision, whether Blacks have any rights in common with the whites.  The writer relates the details of his own financial losses and the needs of the family of one of the Black miners.  At the end of this letter, the editor responds sympathetically but suggests that there is no recourse but to accept “the one-sided” decision given by a Supreme Court Judge”.

Cariboo Sentinel, July 2, 1866.

“A Card”

In this letter signed by “D.I.” the writer states the opinion that there is no racial prejudice where “English Justice” is concerned.  In reference to the question of equal rights for Blacks and whites raised in the letter of “Colored Miner”, the writer feels that there is no need for inquiry since all men are equal in British Columbia.

 

Return to Table of Contents

 

THE CHARLES MITCHELL CASE

The sources cited relate the story of Charles Mitchell, a fugitive slave, who in 1860 stowed away on the “Eliza Anderson”, a boat leaving Olympia for Vancouver Island.  Captain John Fleming discovered Mitchell en route and locked him up.  While the steamer was anchored in the Victoria harbour, Black residents became aware of Mitchell’s presence an informed British authorities.  This eventually brought about Mitchell’s removal from the boat despite the efforts of Captain Fleming to keep him on board.  In the court case which ensued, Attorney General Cary ruled that Charles Mitchell was automatically a free man once he touched British soil.

Books and Articles

Akrigg, G.P.V. and H.B.  British Columbia Chronicle 1847-1871.  op.cit. , p. 198.

Killian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition pp.80-82; 2nd edition 66, 107.

Reid, Robie L.  How One Slave Became Free.  British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Volume 6, 1942, pp.251-256.

Wild, Roland.  Amor de Cosmos. op.cit. , pp.45-46.

Woodcock, G.  Amor de Cosmos: Journalist and Reformer.  op.cit. , p. 39.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. , p. 154-160.

John R. Fleming, statement sworn before George Pearkes, Notary Public on September 26, 1860.

This is an affidavit from John Fleming, captain of the ‘Eliza Anderson’, protesting the whole procedure by which Charles Mitchell, a fugitive slave, was removed from his ship and given his freedom.

Newspapers

Gazette, September 29, 1860.

It is reported that a fugitive slave, Charles Mitchell, having stowed away on a vessel now in Victoria, was set free by the Attorney General.  The captain’s protest was overruled.

THE VAL ROMILY CASE

The sources cited provide an account of the events in this case.  In January 1975, Val Romily, a Smithers lawyer was stopped on the street and detained by three Vancouver city policeman.  The police claimed that Romily was suspect wanted for questioning.  They based this claim on the fact that the suspect, like Romily, was Black.  After being taken to the police station, Romily was not released even after the police realized that they had made a mistake about his identity.  Instead he was questioned further and police even phoned immigration authorities to make enquiries about him.  Romily was finally released but not returned to the place where he had been picked up as requested.  Romily sued the police for false arrest and was later awarded $300 damages plus court costs.

Newspapers

Province, May 9, 1974, p. 34.

“Police apology might have averted lawsuit”

Province, May 31, 1975, p. 25.

“Damages awarded to lawyer”.

Sun, January 11, 1975, p. 39.

Jack Wasserman’s column.

Sun, January 15, 1975, p. 3.

“Lawyer sues officers after mall incident”.

Sun, May 8, 1975, p. 6.

“Lawyer author of his own misfortune”.

Sun, May 9, 1975, p. 13.

“Police action ‘troubles judge in arrest case’”.

Sun, July 22, 1975, p. 13.

“City policemen get warning”.

 

Return to Table of Contents

CRIMINAL CASES

PUNISHABLE CRIMES COMMITTED BY BLACKS IN VICTORIA 1858-1871.

When discussing offenses committed by Blacks, Pilton (op.cit. p. 45) states that “… their criminal record was no worse than that of the white population” and that cases involving Blacks were “not excessive in number and many were minor in nature”.  Pilton includes in an Appendix, a “Table of Punishable Offences by Negroes in Victoria 1858-1871”.  These offences include assault, theft, selling whiskey to Indians, running houses of prostitution and three suspected murders.  The following is a sample of some of these offences of varying degrees of seriousness.  A section on Willis Bond has been included because of the number of offences.

Willis Bond

Willis Bond, described by Kilian as being “a solid middle-class entrepreneur” and who was also well known as an orator, had numerous encounters with the courts.  In 1859 charges against him of selling unwholesome food and counterfeiting flour brands were dismissed.  In 1862 he was ordered to pay wages and court costs resulting from a charge of non-payment of wages to a worker.  In 1863 he was charged with fighting in the street.  He was fined for wilful damage to a neighbour’s fence in 1864.  In 1865 he was fined for obstructing Government Street for three days with a building he was moving and for excavating without permission from the city.  That year he also appeared in court as counsel for his son, John Bond, who was charged with stealing a horse.  In 1866 he was fighting on the street again and in 1868 charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest – he was released after apologizing to the officer.  Later in 1867 and 1868 Bond appeared in bankruptcy court.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 84, 2nd edition 69, 71.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 – 1871.   op.cit. 

Newspapers

Colonist, April 3, 1862.

“Police Court”.

Colonist, March 6, 1863.

“Housebreaking”.

Colonist, March 18, 1863.

“The Housemover again in trouble”.

Colonist, March 19, 21, 1863.

“The housemover’s troubles”.

Colonist, September 11, 1863.

“Police Court”.

Colonist, March 16, 1864.

“On the Fence”.

Colonist, March 17, 1864.

“Wages Suit”.

Colonist, March 29, 1864.

“The Fence Case”.

Colonist, Feb 18, 24, 1865.

“Mayor’s Court”.

Colonist, September 19, 1865.

“Arrears of license money”.

Colonist, January 19, 1866.

“Mayor’s Court”.

Colonist, January 31, 1866.

“Street Fight”.

Colonist, November 21, 29, 1867

“Bankruptcy Court”.

Colonist, January 7, 1868

“Willis Bond”.

Colonist, January 23 and February 7, 1868

“Bankruptcy Court”.

Colonist, January 31, 1954, p. 10.

“Old Homes and Families” by Jim Nesbitt.

Chronicle, March 19, 1863.

“The Row”.

Chronicle, March 16, 1864.

“Wilful Damage”.

Chronicle, March 21, 1864.

“Another Chance”. 

Chronicle, June 23, 1865.

“Charge of Stealing Horse”.

Gazette, June 8, 1859.

“Court of Sessions”

John Costello, Willis Bond and William Brown

It is reported that these three Black men were charged with disturbing the peace by firing cannons during the Emancipation Day Celebrations held by 200 Blacks on January 14, 1863.  Judge Pemberton released them on payment of costs and commented that no further punishment was necessary since Blacks were generally well behaved.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp.55-56.

Newspapers

Colonist, January 16, 1863.

“The Late Jubilee”.

Joseph Lewis alias Portuguese Joe

Joseph Lewis was suspected of killing a police constable who was on his way to arrest Lewis on a pig stealing charge.  The murder charge was never proven and he was released.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , p. 220.

Newspapers

Gazette, September 8, 1860.

Timothy Roberts

The sources cited provide the details of a court case involving Timothy Roberts, a Black drayman.  Roberts was charged with “using disgusting language” towards Elizabeth Leonard, a Black woman, after he wrung the necks of some of Elizabeth Leonard’s chickens who had escaped to Robert’s yard.  Roberts explained his actions as resulting from the verbal abuse of his white Irish wife by Elizabeth Leonard.  Roberts was ordered to pay a fine or face one month in prison.

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 82-83, 2nd edition 68.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp 45-46.

Newspapers

Colonist, September 20, 1860.

 “Rumpus among the Negroes”.

 

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CRIMES COMMITTED IN THE CARIBOO

Assault – Two Black Men

It is noted that there was a fight between a Black customer and a Black waiter in a restaurant.  Feeling that he had been insulted by the waiter, the customer drew a knife and attempted to stab the waiter.  Fortunately, he did not wound the waiter severely and in the ensuing court case, Judge Begbie sentenced the customer to three years in custody.

 Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 90, 2nd edition 75.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , p. 162.

Colonial Correspondence

Chief Justice M.B. Begbie to W.A.G. Young, Richfield, September 20, 1863.

In this letter Begbie writes: “… one nigger was so insulted … that he drew a knife and made two or three desperate stabs at the waiter (also a nigger) … The jury might very well have found a felonious intent which would have given him 10 to 15 years.  They took a lighter view of the matter however – so I gave him three years.”

               

Assault – Dickson and Rosario

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , p. 162.

Pilton makes brief mention of the fight between Dickson and Rosario which resulted in the Court finding them both guilty of creating a disturbance.

Newspapers

Cariboo Sentinel, October 14, 1865.

“Cariboo Police Court – A Stop to Rowdyism”

This article gives and account of the court proceedings of a case involving Alexander Dickson, a Black man, and Rosario, a Spanish person.  Both were charged with and found guilty of creating a disturbance.  Dickson was fined by $50 because he had used a knife and had appeared previously in court.  Rosario was fined $25 for this, his first offence.

Ned McGowan’s War”

This condensed account of “Ned McGowan’s War” and Isaac Dickson’s minor role in it, is derived from the sources listed below.  On Christmas Day in 1858, a drunk American miner, named Farrell, assaulted Isaac Dickson, a Black barber in Yale.  Dickson lodged a complaint with the Yale magistrate who issued a warrant for the arrest of Farrell who had gone to Hill’s Bar after the assault.  The Hill’s Bar magistrate, jealous of this intrusion into his territory, in turn, issued a warrant for Dickson’s arrest.  Ned McGowan, a dangerous, rowdy American, taking advantage of this conflict attempted to set himself up as the ‘real’ authority in this rough, lawless mining are.  Upon receiving news of the trouble, James Douglas sent a party consisting of Colonel Moody, his company of Royal Engineers, 100 sailors, Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie and a small cannon to restore law and order.  Confronted with this show of force, Ned McGowan backed down and his war came to a swift and peaceful end.

Books and Articles

Akrigg, G.V.P. & H.B.  British Columbia Chronicle 1847-1871.  op.cit. , p. 146.

Hutchinson, B.  The Fraser.  op.cit. , pp. 60-61.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 87-88, 2nd edition 72-74.

Reid, J.H.S.  Mountains, Men and Rivers.  Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1954, pp. 193-194.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , p. 163.

 

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The Charles Blessing Murder Case

The sources listed below provide more detailed accounts, from which this brief outline of the Blessing murder is derived.  In the spring of 1866, William Delaney Moses, a Black barber, and Charles Blessing, a young white man from Boston, became travelling companions on the way to Barkerville.  They were joined by another traveller, James Barry.  Since Moses had business to attend to along the way, it was decided that Blessing and Barry would continue on together without him.  When Moses reached Barkerville, he saw Barry but not Blessing.  Moses questioned Barry concerning Blessing’s whereabouts but could not get any information from Barry.  Later Moses noticed one of his customers with an unusual gold nugget tiepin which had been a possession of Blessing.  This customer informed Moses that he received this tiepin from Barry.  This increased Moses’ alarm and suspicions, and he went to the authorities.  It was just at this time that the body of Blessing, who had been shot once through the head was discovered.  Moses’ information and later his testimony in court contributed to the arrest and conviction of James Barry for the murder of Charles Blessing.

Books and Articles

Clark, Cecil.  Tales of British Columbia Provincial Police.  Sidney: Gray’s publishing Limited.  1871, pp.11-18. (PA)

Higgins, D.W. The Passing of a Race and More Tales of Western Life.  op.cit., , pp. 198-208.

This is a fictionalized account of the Blessing murder case.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 91, 2nd edition 76-77.

Skelton, Robin.  The Cariboo Gold Rush Murder: The Blessing-Barry Case.  op.cit. , pp.28-31

Also briefly mentioned in:

Akrigg, G.V.P. & H.B.  British Columbia Chronicles 1847-1871.  op.cit. , p. 338.

Ramsay, Bruce. Barkerville: A Guide to the Fabulous Gold Camp. op.cit. , pp. 24, 53-54

Manuscripts

Begbie, M.B.  Notes on Evidence of Memorandum to Accompany Notes, Ra. v.  Barry Trial for the murder of Charles Morgan Blessing, at Richfield, 1 July, 1867. (PA)

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp 166-168.

Newspapers

Cariboo Sentinel, October 18, 1866.

 “The Blessing Murder Case”.

This article reprints some of the actual testimony of the witnesses, including that of W.D. Moses, involved in the case.

Cariboo Sentinel, October 18, 1866.

There is a notice from W.D. Moses stating that the remains of Charles Blessing were buried and a headstone purchased with the money which had been collected.

Colonist, May 30, 1965.

“Nugget Tiepin Was Murder Clue”. By Cecil Clark. 

This article outlines the details surrounding the Blessing murder and the part played by Moses in the case.

Kamloops Sentinel, May 21, 1929.

 “The Black Barber of Barkerville”.

There is brief mention of Moses’ part in the murder trial of James Barry.

ALLEGED ASSAULT OF STEPHEN FARRINGTON

Books and Articles

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 83, 2nd edition 68-69.

Kilian mentions that a Black teamster, Stephen Farrington charged three whites with assaulting him.  After listening to the testimony of several witnesses, the Judge dismissed the case.

Newspapers

Colonist, April 26, 1959, p. 16, Magazine Section.

“Hot Time in the Old Town.” By James Nesbitt. 

In an article about John Guest, a white man, and his many fights in the 1860’s, Nesbitt mentions that John Guest, Thomas Burnes and William Baugh were charged with assault by a Black man, Stephen Farrington.  After hearing all the evidence, Chief Justice Cameron dismissed the charge against the three white men.

 

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The ROBINSON-CURTIS MURDERS

In 1868 two Black men were murdered on Saltspring Island.  In March, William Robinson was shot in the back while eating dinner alone in his cabin. A few months later Giles Curtis was found with a bullet in his head and his throat slashed.  Indians were suspected to be the perpetrators of both murders.  Giles Curtis’ killer was never found out but in April 1869, because of information provided by a fellow Chemainus Indian, Tschaunhusset was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Robinson.  In a hasty trial, Tschaunhusset was convicted of Robinson’s murder and despite public suggestions of his possible innocence, he was hanged.

Books and Articles

Flucke, A.F. Early Days on Saltspring Island.  op.cit., p. 185.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 112 edition 95-96.

In the 2nd edition Kilian writes “In April Tschuanhusset was arrested.  He confessed and was hanged in July.”

Lyons, C.P. Milestones on Vancouver Island.  op.cit. , pp.86-87.

Roberts, E.  Saltspring Saga.  op.cit. , pp. 52-55.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 27.

Manuscripts

Irby, Charles.  Black Settlers on Saltspring Island in the Nineteenth Century. op.cit. , pp. 8-10.

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp. 140-142.

Newspapers

Colonist, March 24, 1868.

This is a report of the murder of William Robinson on Saltspring Island.  It was also noted that Black residents there felt threatened and that men were afraid to leave their families alone.

Colonist, December 21, 1868.

 It is mentioned in this article that the “horrible murder” of Giles Curtis on Saltspring Island was believed to have been committed by Indians. 

Colonist, June 5, 1869.

“The Saltspring Island Murder”.

In this letter to the editor written by “W. Smithea”, he suggests that the judge and jury were not familiar with the Indian way of life and that they may have convicted the defendant too hastily.  The writer asks that he be given a less severe sentence than hanging.

Colonist, June 7, 1869.

“The Condemned Indian”.

In his second letter to the editor, “W. Smithea” suggests several reasons why of the defendant had been a white man, he would not have been convicted of murder.

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The DEATH OF LOUIS STARK

Books and Articles

Gould, J.  Women of British Columbia. op.cit., p. 72.

The author reports that a court case produced no evidence of foul play in the death of Louis Stark.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit., 1st edition p. 154; 2nd edition 133.

Kilian states that when coal was found on Louis Stark’s land, he received “urgent offers” to buy his land.  Stark was even threatened when he refused to sell and was later found dead at the bottom of a cliff.  Kilian reports an account that suggests that John Stark, Louis’ son, was threatened and shot at when he attempted to investigate Louis’s death.

Lyons, C.P. Milestones on Vancouver Island.  op.cit. , pp.152.

Lyons mentions the discovery of coal on Louis Stark’s land and the unsolved “murder” of Stark.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , p. 278.

Winks states “ … Louis was killed by being pushed from a cliff, allegedly by an Indian.”

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , p. 147.

Pilton states that there were rumours that Louis Stark was murdered but it was possible that he died from falling off a cliff.  Pilton notes that the descendants of Louis Stark believe that he was murdered.

Newspapers

Colonist, March 1, 1895.

“Nanaimo February 28”.

This article announces the death of Louis Stark, aged 79, “a mulatto rancher” in Cranberry district.  It is reported that his death was caused by a fall from a cliff and that there was a possibility of foul play.

Colonist, April 30, 1961, p. 8.

“Saltspring knew the Curse of the Penalakut” by Cecil Clark.

 This article reports that Louis Stark’s neighbour, Ed Hodgson was charged with Stark’s murder but the charge never got past a Nanaimo grand jury.

Colonist, October 27, 1968.

“Murder Followed the Starks” by Brenda Sharp. 

In this article, Sharp mentions the discovery of a coal vein on Stark’s property in Extension. Stark received many offers to buy his land, but he refused and was threatened.  Shortly afterwards his body was found at the bottom of the cliff.

Stark, Louis – File

The following summaries of two articles which appear in Louis Stark’s vertical file.  There is no author, date or source given for either article.

Article 1.

This article reports that the Coroner’s Jury found that Stark had died by falling over a cliff near his home on February 28, 1895.  No blame was attached to anyone.

Article 2.

According to this article, on August 12, 1896, Ephram Hodgson, a close friend of Stark’s who had originally found Stark’s body on February 28, 1895, was arrested for the murder of Louis Stark.  It was implied that Hodgson, who had first discovered the coal seam on Stark’s Extension property, had an economic motive for killing Stark.  On November 25, 1896, the Grand Jury returned a “No Bill” verdict and the case was dismissed.

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This section contains information on the involvement of B.C. Blacks in military activities.  The province's first militia company was formed in Victoria in 1860 and was composed of Black men.  Blacks have also fought in the two World Wars in spite of "the colour line" within the military establishment.  Information on the limited participation of Blacks in the police force from 1858 to more contemporary times is also provided in this section.

Table of Contents

Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps

Armed Forces

Early Armed Forces Personnel

Early Black Policemen

Contemporary Policemen (up to 1978)


VICTORIA PIONEER RIFLE CORPS

One of the societal problems that Blacks encountered in Victoria in the 1860's was, that a "color line" was drawn when they tried to enter various civic bodies.  Wanting to express their loyality and citizenship, they appealed to Governor Douglas for permission to form a military company.  The result was the formation in 1860 of the Victoria Pioneeer Rifle Corps nicknamed the "African Rifles".  They were officially sworn in on July 4, 1861.  Many felt that the formation of this all-Black military unit was due to the fact that they had been denied membership to the Victoria Fire Brigade. 

Consisting of one captain, three officers and forty-four privates, the VRPC drilled twice a week in an old drill hall on View Street.  Sometimes, it is noted, they paraded on the "commons", a ten acre piece of land on Church Hill.   The company is said to have had the first military band on Vancouver Island.  It consisted of nine instruments and was led by a white bandmaster who was hired to teach them music.

Many comments are made about the splendor of their uniforms.  Their dress uniforms, which included a shako for a headdress, were blue with white facings and pipe-clayed trappings.  The Hudson's Bay Company supplied these uniforms where were made in England, and some articles state that they were made from Hudson's Bay blankets.  Their drill uniforms were green with orange facings.

Their arms were also supplied by the Hudson's Bay Company and consisted of flintlocks and a few more modern guns which were fitted with bayonets and loaded with black powder and lead ball.

Through its existence the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps ws in need of financial support.  For the most part the Blacks raised funds through subscriptions of other projects from within the Black community itself.  Financial support from the government was minimal and at times requests for monetary assistance went unheeded.

The Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps paraded regularly until 1864 when, at the welcoming of the new Governor, Arthur Kennedy, they were denied permission by the civic authorities to participate in his reception.  It is sid that the Black men held their own parade in the drill hall and later retired to a restaurant, owned by a Black man, where they had a feast.  The following day, the company was received by Governor Kennedy in front of the Legislative Buildings.  It is noted that they paraded in full strength for the new Governor who received them.

Kennedy then told the Company, he regretted that he was compelled to refuse them official recognition as there was no authority for their existence since the Hudson's Bay Company administrative power was at an end.  He advised them to disband.  The Company is said to have saluted and marched to Beacon Hill Park where they engaged in war games before returning to headquarters.  Later it is mentioned, they surrendered their arms to the Hudson's Bay Company and passed out of existence.

Books and Articles

Bertley, L. Canada and its People of African Descent. op.cit. , pp.102-103.

Brown, R. The Negroes.  op.cit. , pp.239-240.

Fawcett, E.  Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria. op.cit. , p. 219.

Gregson, H.  A History of Victoria.  op.cit. , p.83.

Jackman, S.W.  The Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, 1860 - 1866. Journal of the Society for Arms Historical Research.  Volume XXXLV #157, March 1961, pp.41-43. (PA)

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. 1st edition: pp.76-79, 131-135; 2nd edition: 62-64, 83, 111-113.

Matthews, Major James S.  "B.C.'s First Troops Were Black". 14th Annual Convention of the Army and Navy Veteran's in Canada.  Souvenir Number, Sept. 1934, pp. 62-65. (PA)

Wild, R.  Amor de Cosmos, op.cit. , p.38.

Winks, R.  The Blacks in Canada.  op.cit. , pp.278-280.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858-1871.  op.cit. , pp. 111-126.

Walden, F.E.  The Social History of Victoria, British Columbia.  op.cit.  , pp. 96-97, 100-101.

Newspapers

Colonist:

July 4, 1861. “The Colored Rifles Will be Sworn In”.

September 20, 1861. “African Rifles”.

January 2, 1862. “Pioneer Rifles”.

April 6, 1864. “Pioneer Rifle Corps”.

May 8, 1865. “Volunteer Rifles”.

May 9, 1865. “Pioneer Rifle Company”.

April 5, 1948. “First Victoria Regiment”.

May 21, 1961, Magazine Section p. 11. “They Were The First”.

Chronicle:

January 28, 1863. “Victoria City Brass Band”.

September 11, 1863. “Victoria Rifle Corps”.

February 26, 1864. “Reception of the Governor”.

February 28, 1864. “Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps”.

March 2, 1864. “Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps”.

March 5, 1864. “Governor’s Reception and Rifle Corps”.

March 6, 1864. “Reply to Briton. The Pioneer Rifle Company and Ball Cartridge”.

March 8, 1864. “Reception of Governor Kennedy.  What is Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander”.

March 15, 1864. “Presentation of Colours to the Pioneer Rifle Corps”.

March 25, 1864. “Question for the Proposed Rifle Corps”.

March 27, 1864. “A World to ‘Nicholas’”.

March 31, 1864. “Presentation of Addresses to His Excellency Governor Kennedy.”

Gazette:

May 28, 1860. “Rifle Mania”.

May 30, 1860. “New Rifle Corps”.

Juan de Fuca News Review, June 17, 1970, p. 8.

“Areas First Voluntary Army Group All Negroes”.

Press:

September 21, 1861. “Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps”.

October 9, 1861. “Volunteer Movement”.

July 3, 1861. “Rifle Volunteers”.

July 14, 1861. “Pioneer Rifle Company”.

May 2, 1862. “Arms for the Rifle Corps”.

Province:

October 1, 1935. “Victoria Had Negro Troops 85 Years Ago”.

September 20, 1952. “Negro Company Claimed Pioneer Force of Province”.

Sun.  March 17, 1951. 

“B.C.’s Negro Army”.

Colonial Correspondence

Fortune Richard to Colonial Secretary, December 9, 1861.

This letter is a request for funds for the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps from 250 pounds sterling available for different volunteer corps in the colony.  A reply from Governor Douglas on the same day, authorizes 45 pounds sterling for the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps.

Fortune Richard and William Brown to Governor Douglas, July 31, 1862.

This letter requests $700 from the Governor to carry out alterations on the VRPC’s armoury.  A Memorial and Financial Statement showing the income and expenses of the Corps from its formation until July 31, 1862 is included.

William Brown to Governor Douglas, August 5, 1862.

Brown supplies Governor Douglas with information on the date of establishment of the VRPC, the number of men in the company and lists their drill activities.

E.A. Booth and R. Johnson to Governor Douglas, March 3, 1863.

This letter is a request for financial help for the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Company.

R.H. Johnson and E.A. Booth, June 19, 1863.

The men ask for financial assistance for the Pioneer Rifle Hall.

Richard Johnson. P. Foreman, N. Pointer and P. Lester to the Hon. W.A.C. Young, Colonial Secretary, March 3, 1864.

This letter states that the men would take responsibility for 30 rifles to be used by the VRPC on the arrival of Hon. Capt. Kennedy.  In a reply, on the same day, Young states that the rifles would be forthcoming immediately.

W.A.G. Young to Messrs. Lester, Johnson, Freeman and Pointer, June 11, 1866.

In this letter Young, the Colonial Secretary, requests the return of the rifles which the VRPC borrowed two years previously at the time of Governor Kennedy’s reception.

P. Lester, P. Freeman, N. Pointer to W.A.G. Young, June 12, 1866.

The men inform Young that they would call the VRPC for a meeting and put the arms in order so that they could be returned.  They also state that the Company has not disbanded but would meet the request to turn in the arms.

Lt. R. Caesar to W.A.G. Young, June 13, 1866.

Caesar replies to Young’s request for the VRPC’s arms “now that they had disbanded”.  Caesar states that they had not disbanded but, due to a lack of support by the government and reduction in number due to death and migration from the colony, they simply were not meeting for drills or other activities.  Caesar agreed to deliver the arms to the person named by Young.

Picture File

There is one picture of the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps.

Table of Contents

 

ARMED FORCES

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent.  op.cit.  , p. 71.

There is a reprint of the Ottawa Superintendent of Immigration’s October 28, 1916 memorandum of Malcolm R.J. Reid’s request from Vancouver to admit Black recruits for a construction battalion.  The Superintendent replies that “… there is no great difficulty in securing recruits for forestry and construction battalions, and I think it would be unwise to allow a lot of coloured men to get a foothold in Canada, even under the guise of enlistment in such a battalion”.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , pp.159, 161.

In the 1st edition Kilian points out that “Though World War I made enormous demands on Canada’s manpower, Ottawa did not feel democracy quite threatened enough to warrant recruiting Blacks for combat duty”.  Blacks who volunteered were rejected or else, for the most part, assigned to construction or forestry units.  However, at least one B.C. unit accepted Blacks for oversees duty, for Leo Smith, son of John Freemont Smith, was killed in action in 1918.  By World War II “Colour lines still existed in the armed forces, though they were drawn less firmly”.  Kilian relates the example of Earl Barnswell who was rejected by the Navy “solely on the grounds of his race” but was accepted by the Army.  Other Black pioneer descendants who served included Rod Alexander, Charles Winchester, Bob Whims, and Tommy Woods.

In the 2nd edition re World War I “The government followed contradictory policies in the first years of the war: while no official barriers stood in the way of Black volunteers, local commanders could reject them if they wished.  Most did.”

Newspapers

Colonist, March 22, 1953, p. 6.

Times, March 23, 1953, p. 5.

These articles announce the death of Roderick S. Alexander at the age of 55.  It is reported that he was a veteran of World War I and that he was the only Black member of the 114th Veteran Guard during the Second World War.

News Herald, March 20, 1943.

“Navy Lifts Color Restrictions”.

This article reports that the color restrictions against those who wished to serve Canada in the naval forces had been lifted.  It points out that although the bar was lifted on March 12, the local Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer headquarters had still not heard the news on March 16.  The writer goes on to give evidence of how the new order got delayed.

News Herald, December 29, 1943.

“Color Line in Call-ups by Army in British Columbia”.

It is stated in this article that unlike Manitoba, Blacks are called up for service in B.C.  It goes on to point out that there is only one Black in Canada’s navy and a few enlisted men in the active army.  Lt. Col. E.D. MacPherson of Manitoba reports that on the request of the department, he has not called the Black men.  The existence of this request is denied by National Selective Service Officials.

Vancouver Newspaper, July 18, 1940.

The article shows a picture of Abe Mortimer being shown in as the first Black to join the army in Vancouver.

Vancouver Newspaper, December 30, 1943.

In this article it is stated that there are 100 Blacks in the province of B.C. who are subject to army draft call just the same as the whites.  It also mentions that one Negro enlisted since the “colour line” was withdrawn early that year.

Aural History Tape

Tape #796:1 Interview in 1965 with Mrs. B. Weatherell, born in 1899, a Saltspring resident of British descent.

Mrs. Weatherell mentions that the Woods family was well-liked and that Harry Woods went off to the war (she doesn’t say which war) and came back lame.

 

Table of Contents

EARLY BLACK ARMED FORCES PERSONNEL

Canadian Officers Training Corp

Vancouver City Archives: Blacks – Canada

There is a photograph of the Canadian Officers Training Corps. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Jan. 1918.  The information states “Photograph shows one black man among many white men”.  

 

PTE. ROBERT BURT GILBERT

Newspapers

Colonist, May 30, 1917, p. 5.

“Prisoner Gives His Captor Iron Cross” - “Captured German Officer Decorates Pte. R. Gilbert, a Victoria Soldier, Who Took Him and Twenty-Four Men.”

This article recounts information from Mr. Charles Alexander of 1943 Mason Street who writes” yesterday I received an Iron Cross. It came by letter from Pte. R. Gilbert, one of Victoria’s colored soldiers who went away with the 103rd Battalion, Vancouver Island Timber Wolves, and has been on the firing line several months.” 

Colonist, September 7, 1917, p. 9

“Victoria Tells How He Won Iron Cross” – “Pte. R Gilbert, Colored Soldier at Vimy Ridge Brought Out Forty Prisoners – Captive Officer Decorated Him”

This is an extensive article written by Gilbert describing how he went into an enemy tunnel after the Canadian charge at Vimy Ridge and single-handed, captured some forty Germans, how the captive officer recognized his bravery and gave him his Iron Cross, and other details of the exploit, in which he was armed with a revolver, a pair of wire-cutters and some bombs, are described by Pte. R. Gilbert, a Victoria colored soldier, who went away with the 103rd Battalion, in a letter just received by Mr. Lorenzo E. Jones, 920 Caledonia Avenue. With the letter Pte. Gilbert sends the Iron Cross given him by the German officer.  It is suspended from a red and black striped ribbon.

Colonist, June 30, 1918, p. 5.

Photo of Pte. R. Gilbert.

The caption below the photo reads:   Pte. Robert Gilbert went oversees with the 2nd C.M.R. and some time ago returned to the city disabled after seeing much active service oversees.  He is now at the Willows Camp.  One of the boys in France, writing a few weeks ago to a friend here said: “I was glad to hear of Gilbert again.  Everyone in France who came in contact with him couldn’t help but like him, and if it were not for his colour I believe he would have had the Victoria Cross for his work on Vimy Ridge a year ago today (April 9).  The colour business is an awful drawback at times, but we all know he is the whitest black man that ever.

 

Table of Contents

EARLY BLACK POLICEMAN

Books and Articles

Bertley, L.  Black Tiles in the Mosaic.  op.cit.

Bertley records the first police force in B.C. history as being formed in 1858 and Blacks were included in this force.

Bertley, L.  Canada and its People of African Descent.  op.cit. , p. 102.

The author mentions that the colonial government finally gave in to threats of violence and “mobocracy” and had to withdraw the Black police officers after they served only a few weeks.

Cornwallis, K.  The New El Dorado: or British Columbia.  op.cit. , p. 284.

Cornwallis notes that “The newly appointed police of the place were negroes and consequently heartily despised by the Americans.”

Higgins, D.W.  The Passing of a Race and More Tales of Western Life.  op.cit. , pp. 164-165.

Higgins reports that Blacks were sworn in as constables in 1858 and were paid a salary of $70 a month.  He relates an incident which occurred when a Black policeman attempted to arrest a white miner.  The thief, who was caught in the act, refused to go with the constable and was supported by the other miners present including the man who was robbed.  This incident and several similar ones caused the government to withdraw the Black constables after two months service.

Kilian, C.  Go Do Some Great Thing.  op.cit. , 1st edition p. 151; 2nd edition p.38,130.

Kilian describes Loren Lewis as being a veteran of Victoria’s first police force.  Lewis also served for several years as a district constable on the Songhees Reserve near Victoria and later became a member of the Provincial Police.

Scholefield, E.O.S. & Howay, F.W.  British Columbia from the earliest times to the present.  op.cit. , Volume IV p. 97.

The authors state that Judge Pemberton appointed Blacks to the first police force but the miners would not accept their authority.  They relate an incident in which the Judge himself, had to save a Black constable from being thrown into the harbour by rioting miners.

Manuscripts

Pilton, J.  Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 - 1871.  op.cit. , p.49.

Pilton notes that during the early summer of 1858 Blacks were appointed police in Victoria but “did not long remain for the white population would not tolerate them and they had to be withdrawn”.

Newspapers

Colonist, February 2, 1958.

“Among the Builders, The Negro Pioneers”.

The article points out that a few Blacks were appointed to the police force in Victoria (in 1858) but had to resign as the Whites could not accept Blacks as law enforcement agents.

Provincial Archives Documents

Excerpt from letter to the Archivist from Thomas Deasy, September 1, 1934.

Deasy comments on an article extracted from “Old Timer’s diary which was reprinted in the “Victoria Daily Times” in 1934.  Deasy states that he knew “Old Timer” well and the following information contained in his diary is correct, “The Victoria Police Force was composed of Jamaca (author’s spelling) colored men, with blue coats, red sashes and high hats, but they had such a hard time with the rough miners that old Jimmy Douglas took them off.”

Excerpt from letters to the Archivist from William Daniel Anderson, September 7 and 10, 1934.

Anderson wrote to say that the information about the first troop in B.C. being Afro-Americans is correct.  He documents this with clippings his mother had and goes on to say that only one man, Lorne Lewis, remained as a policeman for some time.

LOREN LEWIS


Books and Articles

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing. op.cit. , p. 151.

Kilian describes Lorne Lewis as being a veteran of Victoria’s first police force. Lewis also served for several years as a district constable on the Songhees Reserve near Victoria and later became a member of the Provincial Police.

Provincial Archives Documents

Excerpt from letters to the Archivist from William Daniel Anderson, September 7 and 10, 1934.
Anderson wrote to say that the information about the first troop in B.C. being Afro-Americans is correct. He documents this with clippings his mother had and goes on to say that only one man, Lorne Lewis, remained as a policeman for some time.

 

 

Table of Contents

CONTEMPORARY POLICEMEN (up to 1978)

BRUCE CLARKE

Newspapers

Sun, July 30, 1969, p. 49.

“First Negro Joins City Police Force”

The article noted that Clarke made B.C. history when he became the first Black person to join the Vancouver City Police.  He was reported as being a native of Halifax who had moved to Vancouver.  In this article it was also mentioned that “police officials said that in the past they had received a number of applications from persons of ‘Negro extraction’ but they never fully met all the standards required.”

Sun, January 24, 1970, p. 20.

“City Gets First Black Policeman”.

This is a brief article announcing Bruce Clarke as Vancouver’s first Black policeman.  Clarke describes his feelings about his work.

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