In 2008, a statue was unveiled in Guyana and British Columbia celebrated its 150th birthday. What’s the connection?
The statue standing in a South American village is James Douglas, the “Father of British Columbia. The illegitimate son of a Scottish plantation owner and a mixed-race woman. Douglas was born in Guyana in 1803. After schooling in Scotland, he joined the fur trade as a lowly clerk.
He rose to become governor of the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia and even received a knighthood from Queen Victoria. Douglas’s life story weaves through the heart of Canadian and Pacific Northwest history when BC was a wild land containing a few hundred settlers and 30,000 First Nations peoples.
He established Victoria and from there secured the vast region for British interests, preventing land grabs by the Russian Empire to the north and the expansionist Americans to the south.
Autocratic and often accused of favouritism, James Douglas retired in 1864 when the first election for the Legislative Council in the Colony of BC took place. The Father of BC lived to see the colonies unite in 1866 and join Confederation in 1871.
When Vancouver did not exist and Victoria was a muddy village, Douglas’s vision and drive laid the foundation for Canada’s westernmost province. Discover how he achieved the enduring legacy we celebrate.