BC Black History Timeline

BC Black History Timeline

June 26

William Allen Jones is the 1st licensed dentist in B.C.

William Allen Jones - The Barkerville Dentist
William Alan Jones was granted a licence on June 26, 1886 under the British Columbia Dental Act. William Allen was the oldest of three brothers who came with the other pioneers in 1858. William received his degree at Oberlin College in 1857. After the American Civil War (1861-1865) William returned to Oberlin College to complete his dental studies and then returned to Barkerville. “Painless Jones: The Barkerville Dentist” *Image is a pencil sketch by Gene Grooms, local artist (1994); BC Black History Awareness Society Collection
November 1

Giscome and McDame begin their northern B.C. exploration

Giscome Portage Trail sign hanging from timber arch

John Robert Giscome and Henry McDame begin their trek of more than a year to explore northern BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

13 months later, on December 14, 1863 the Daily Colonist publishes a detailed account from Giscome of his explorations with Henry McDame in the Peace River watershed in north-eastern B.C, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Giscome and McDame left the mouth of the Quesnelle in November 1862 and proceeded up the Fraser in a canoe. The trek took more than a year and was more than 330 miles, crossing lakes, rivers and mountainous terrain.

The article mentions the following areas: Fort George, Salmon River, Summit Lake, McLeod’s Lake, Fort McLeod, Fort Dunvegan (Alberta – Peace River Valley), Smoky River, Red Deer River, Saskatchewan, Quesnelle River, Salmon River. McDame Creek was named for Henry McDame and the Giscome Portage Trail was designated an official Heritage Site July 17th, 1997. BC Parks took over management of the trail when it was designated a Protected Area in the year 2000.

Image courtesy of Kevin Creamore, Prince George.

September 25

On British Soil He was Free

Charles Mitchell, enslaved since boyhood, on September 1860 was a stowaway aboard the SS Eliza Anderson sailing from Olympia Washington to Victoria. When the steamer arrived in Victoria word soon spread that a slave was being detained on board. “As many as 700 people gathered dockside on September 25th, 1860 calling for his release.” Royal BC Museum and Archives. The case was taken immediately to the BC Supreme Court; who declared Charles Mitchell a free man because he was on British soil. Watch the video produced by the Royal BC Museum in a series “This Week in History: Charles Mitchell, from slavery to freedom.

April 25

The Pioneer Committee from San Francisco arrives in Victoria

bronze plaque inlaid on top of concrete causeway wall

On April 25th,1858 the Steamship Commodore sailed into Victoria harbour from San Francisco. On board – 450 gold seekers; and 35 Black people, the Pioneer Committee to meet with Governor Douglas.
It all started on the evening of April 14,1858 at the Zion Church. The Black community were celebrating the release of fugitive slave Archy Lee.
In the midst of these celebrations Jeremiah Nagle, captain of the steamship Commodore which sailed regularly between San Francisco and Victoria, arrived at the meeting. It is said that Nagle came well-prepared to the meeting with maps of Vancouver Island and a letter from “a gentleman in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company of undoubted veracity” giving details about the colony and inviting the Blacks community to come to the Colony of Vancouver Island. The letter has not survived but it is understood that because of the implications of the information provided by Nagle, the invitation could only have come from Governor James Douglas.

January 8

Black Voting Rights

The Abolition of Slavery Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1833, came into force on August 1, 1834. With Emancipation, black men were entitled to the rights, freedoms and privileges as British subjects, including the right to vote – however, racial discrimination including violence did at times impede Black Canadians’ right to vote. Black men had the right to vote provided they were naturalized subjects and owned taxable property. Until 1920, most colonies or provinces required eligible voters to own property or have a taxable net worth — a practice that excluded poor people, the working class and many racialized minorities.  For Black women, the federal government granted limited war-time suffrage to some women in 1917, and followed with full suffrage in 1918. By the close of 1922, all the Canadian provinces, except Quebec, had granted full suffrage to White and Black women. Newfoundland, at that time a separate dominion, granted women suffrage in 1925. Women in Quebec did not receive full suffrage until 1940.