Legal Issues

The legal issues reported in this section are divided into two 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/are not reported and/or not documented.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.

In the petition to Douglas “signed on behalf of two hundred and sixty coloured residents …Douglas was reminded of their investment in real estate of about £50,000.00, the taxes they paid and the promises he had made in 1858 ‘coming to this colony to found our homes, and rear our families, we did so advisedly, assured by those in authority that we should meet with no disabilities political or conventional on the ground of color’ “. Crawford Killian, “Go Do Some Great Thing”, 3rd edition pg. 162.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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 and 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.


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.


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 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 a 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.


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”.



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.


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



April 3, 1862. “Police Court”.

 March 6, 1863. “Housebreaking”.

March 18, 1863. “The Housemover again in trouble”.

March 19, 21, 1863. “The housemover’s troubles”.

September 11, 1863. “Police Court”.

March 16, 1864. “On the Fence”.

March 17, 1864. “Wages Suit”.

March 29, 1864. “The Fence Case”.

Feb 18, 24, 1865. “Mayor’s Court”.

September 19, 1865. “Arrears of license money”.

January 19, 1866. “Mayor’s Court”.

January 31, 1866. “Street Fight”.

November 21, 29, 1867 “Bankruptcy Court”.

January 7, 1868 “Willis Bond”.

January 23 and February 7, 1868 “Bankruptcy Court”.

Colonist, January 31, 1954, p. 10. “Old Homes and Families” by Jim Nesbitt.

This article is devoted to the life of Willis Bond and includes not only these arrests but also Bond as general contractor, saloon-keeper and several public speeches by Bond.

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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


Colonist, September 20, 1860. “Rumpus among the Negroes”.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


In 1868 two Black men were murdered on Salt Spring 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 Salt Spring 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.  Salt Spring Saga.  op.cit. , pp. 52-55.

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


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

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


Colonist, March 24, 1868.

This is a report of the murder of William Robinson on Salt Spring 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 Salt Spring Island was believed to have been committed by Indians.

Colonist, June 5, 1869. “The Salt Spring 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.


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.”


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.


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. “Salt Spring 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.