While reported incidents of discrimination in Victoria’s theatres date back to 1860, the most noted incident happened on September 25, 1861 when Mifflin and Maria Gibbs, family friend Nathan Pointer and Pointer’s daughter attended a hospital benefit at the Victoria Theatre. Both families were seated in the dress circle.
At the start of the concert one of the performers, Emil Sutro, refused to go on stage unless the Black patrons were removed from the dress circle. Gibbs refused to move, Sutro left, and the concert went ahead. Then, at the end of the performance the Gibbs and Pointers were doused with flour from the balcony.
A melee broke out and charges were filed against all involved. At the trial the judge acquitted the four white persons charged in the incident. Gibbs admitted assaulting one man and was fined five pounds. The charge of assault against Nathan Pointer was dropped for lack of evidence.
Theatres began publicly stating Black patrons could only be seated in the gallery. The newspapers received numerous letters both supporting and condemning the Black community. Black residents petitioned both Douglas and his successor on Vancouver Island, Arthur Kennedy to end the discrimination, but no remedy was made.