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THE ENGLISH IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

 

Hewitt Bostock, cattle rancher, fruit grower, newspaper proprietor

and politician with his family c. 1895 at Monte Creek, British Columbia.

Born in Surrey in England, he founded the Province, a weekly Victoria newspaper

and served as the Member of Parliament from 1896 to 1904.

 

  • Unlike the Prairie Provinces, which attracted large numbers of settlers from the United States and Europe, British Columbia’s main influx during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came from Britain, with the English accounting for sixty percent of the total British arrivals. By 1911 people with English ancestry accounted for one third of the entire population and ten years later they represented 42 % of it.
  • British Columbia’s gold and coal deposits brought many English miners to its industrial regions. The Hudson’s Bay Company began mining operations at Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in 1852, employing some Staffordshire miners. Joining them were Cornishmen and their families who were said later to be present in substantial numbers.

 

  

George Baker, a Staffordshire miner.

He became the owner of the Dew Drop

Inn in Nanaimo, British Columbia

 

  • The fruit farming potential of the Okanagan Valley attracted large numbers of genteel English. They were generally retired professionals, businessmen and military officers, who came, not only to make their fortune, but to enjoy the limitless opportunities for hunting, shooting and fishing in a congenial environment.
  • The wealthy English who came to live in the province formed a distinct social set and thought themselves superior to mere colonials. As late as 1926 a British visitor to the Okanagan Valley met “English people who cannot remember that they are not still in England, who never fail to apologize for the climate, the silver and the lack of servants, and end by asking you to tea next Thursday.”
  • By 1911 people with English ancestry accounted for fifty percent of Victoria’s population who, through their numbers and influence, created an aura of Englishness which pervaded the general society.

For further details see Chapter 5  of  Ignored but not Forgotten; Canada’s English Immigrants