This section contains items, derived mainly from newspapers, relating to the social life of Blacks in the province from 1858 to 1978. It encompasses human rights issues, social issues, and events throughout the years, in an attempt to provide a general picture of this aspect of life.
Books and Articles
Flucke, A.F. Early Days on Salt Spring 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.
January 16, 1863.
This is an announcement of a Jubilee celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation at Beacon Hill by about 200 Black men.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 29, 1863, p. 2.
Notice of the intended January 1, 1864 celebration by Blacks at the emancipation of slaves, is given.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 24, 1865.
This is an announcement that Willis Bond would lecture on various subjects in the Athenaeum Hall.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
January 4, 1867, p. 3.
The editor apologizes for omitting to mention the Black people’s Emancipation Celebration on New Year’s Eve.
February, 1867 p. 3. “Letter from the Cariboo”.
It is mentioned that Blacks in the Cariboo celebrated the Emancipation Act.
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.
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.
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.
August 16, 1871.
It was noted that M.A. Phipps was appointed District Deputy Grand Master of the Black Masons of British Columbia.
January 4, 1872. “Celebration of Emancipation Day”.
A grand dinner and ball was given by Black residents to celebrate Emancipation Day.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 11, 1930, p.23 “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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ladner 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 Salt Spring 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.
“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.”
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.