Category Archives: Arts and Culture

1858 to 2058 Predicting the Future of BC

In 2008 British Columbia celebrated its 150th birthday. In 2058 BC will celebrated its 200th birthday! What will the future of BC look like then? First looking back:

→ The British colonial office established the mainland as a crown colony on August 2, 1858, naming it the Colony of British Columbia.

→ British Columbia joined Confederation on July 20, 1871 and became a province.

In 1888 people feared Canada would be Annexed by the United States

1888 Map of Canada after Free Trade

“How the map of the United States would look with Canada Annexed” reads the political cartoon above. Interesting to note the names in the different regions.

The Canadian Manufacturers’ Association and the Canadian Pacific Railway opposed free trade with the United States arguing that the commercial union would lead to the United States taking over Canada. The beginning of annexation. Even today people are still talking about Canada joining the United States.

That same year in 1888 there were reports of native people starving in the Edmonton area. Approximately 3,000 First Nations people starved to death because they were forced off their traditional hunting lands and into reservations. Edgar Dewdney was the Lieutenant-governor of the North West Territories at the time, which included Alberta at the time.

→ Edgar Dewdney was the fifth Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia and the builder of the Dewdney Trail which is named after him.

The Church, The government and starving natives

This 1888 political cartoon reads: “Christian Statesmanship”
(Prime Minister) Sir John: Indians starving? Oh, well, they’re not “friends of Dewdney,” you know. I’ll see that you don’t come to want, though, Mr. Contractor.”

Meat contractors were paid by the government to provide food rations for the First Nation peoples. The meat that was provided was inadequate or tainted. Because the buffalo was virtually extinct, there were no hides to make clothing and therefore, many Natives were in rags and perished in the cold winter as well. This was all part of the government’s plan to ‘clear the land’ and make way for new immigrants.

Twenty years later in 1908 immigration was from Europe was in full swing. Land was being purchased by Europeans and farming communities were established.

In 1908 people feared an Asian Invasion

In January 1908 the federal government decide to retrict immigration from Asia.

1908 Asian Invasion

The government of the day required immigrants to come directly from their countries of origin by a continuous passage.  At the time there wasn’t a direct steamship which ran from India to Canada, so this law stopped immigration directly from India.

In agreement with Canada, at the time, Japan placed emigration restrictions on their citizens. Also, a tax was placed on all incoming Chinese immigrants.

This political cartoon of the day reads:

“We have here gentlemen positively the last specimen of a white man known to exist in BC. It was captured after great trouble and expense in the interior of the province. If you will listen gentlemen it will now sing a comic song…..Rule Britannia. The sign reads, Homo Albus (white man) at one time very numerous in this province – may still be found east of the Rocky Mountains.”

In 2016 fears of a slowing economy, homelessness and racism are still hot topics.  What does the next 42 years hold for British Columbia?

In 2058 people will have no fears!

By the time BC celebrates it’s 200th birthday will the government respect its people?

Why people don’t vote. 1891 vs 2015

voting 1891 why people didn't vote
political cartoon from 1891 – Property owner vs Labourer

“Fruits of the Franchise Act 1891
The Dominion election lists are now being revised under an act which discriminates against the poor and industrious and is in every respect iniquitous and tyrannical as well as monstrously expensive. Away
with it and give us manhood suffrage!”

Prior to 1918 only Caucasian men who were property owners had the right to vote.   Excluded were all women, First Nations and members of certain religious denominations. Qualification on the basis of property ownership benefited the Conservative party. So the concept of “one man, one vote” was a long way off.

Fast forward to 2015 and 40% of Canadians who are eligible to vote don’t. Why?

Flash Back Friday: Pacific Scandal 1873

1873 Pacific Scandal
1873 Pacific Scandal

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald: “I admit I took the money and bribed the electors with it, is there anything wrong about that?”

Comment from The Mail: “We in Canada seem to have lost all idea of justice, honor and integrity”

In 1872 members of the Conservative government accepted money from a Montreal businessman who wanted the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

When the Liberals made details of the bribes public, Prime Minister Macdonald attempted to delay the investigation of the ‘Pacific Scandal’ by proroguing parliament.

Alexander Mackenzie, the Liberal leader (standing on the left) used the ‘Pacific Scandal’ to help defeat Macdonald in the next election.

Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada from 1867–1873.  Macdonald lost the 1873 election to Mackenzie. Then he was re-elected in 1878 and remained an elected official until 1891.

Macdonald had a political career which spanned 24 years. Macdonald served 19 years as  Prime Minister of Canada; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer – 22 years.

Is there a similar scandal that could bring down the current prime minister?

Flashback Friday: 1972 minimum wage $1.50 goes up

1972 Minimum wage $1.50 to go up to $2.00
1972 Minimum wage was $1.50…. to go up to $2.00

Here is an old Norris cartoon from The Vancouver Sun back in 1972. It was a big year because the minimum wage was to go up from $1.50 to $2 in BC.

Prior to 1972 there were different minimum wage rates for men and women. In 1972 the minimum wage in BC was $1.50 for men and $1.20 for women.

It wasn’t until around 1974 that both men and women received the same minimum wage of $1.80 to $2.00 depending on which province you lived.

Experimenting with chocolate in a Nanaimo kitchen

Everyone enjoys a good story and a sweet treat.  Here is the famous Nanaimo Bar story:

After World War II, recipes for sweet unbaked desserts such as refrigerator squares became widespread when butter and sugar were once more available.

By 1950, ingredients such as marshmallows, sweetened condensed milk, and crumbled cookies became well-used. This era also saw confections made with brands such as Bird’s custard powder, Baker’s chocolate, Fry’s cocoa, and Tropic coconut.

The bottom layer was inspired by two recipes: ‘Chocolate Quickie Square’ submitted on April 18, 1947 by Mrs. Lois Light of Vancouver,  and a 1948 recipe ‘Unbaked Chocolate Cake’ submitted by Jean Haines of Wildwood (north of Powell River). This recipe was reproduced in the 12th Edith Adams Prize cookbook.

Nanaimo Bars

As the recipes were shared and tested, a new dessert began to emerge. The women of the Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary invented a new frosting, and capped the dessert with chocolate.

The first known recipe for Nanaimo Bars was submitted by Mrs. E. MacDougall for the 1952 Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary cookbook. She called it ‘Chocolate Slice’.

The recipe for Nanaimo Bars appeared later that year in the 14th Edith Adams Cookbook. Read more about the Nanaimo Bar Story and follow the Nanaimo Bar trail.

Who will play the Vancouver Island Waltz?

On Saturday April 5th, Vancouver Island Symphony will play musical pieces chosen by the audience in an evening titled, ‘Nanaimo Home’. Wouldn’t it be great to hear the Vancouver Island Waltz?

William K. Horne composed the “Vancouver Island Waltz” in 1860; probably the first music of its type composed locally. It is preserved at the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, but it has never been played by an orchestra in recent times.

HMS Ganges
HMS Ganges – where the Vancouver Island Waltz was composed

Horne was Assistant Paymaster of HMS Ganges, the flagship of Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes. Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island is named after the ship.  Fulford Harbour is named after Captain John Fulford, the master of the HMS Ganges. Originally, Saltspring was to be named Admiral Island in honour of Admiral Baynes, instead, he is remembered in Baynes Peak at the top of Mt. Maxwell.

The British Royal Navy was based in Esquimalt, which was known as the Pacific Station; its headquarters on the west coast.  Previously, the Royal Navy had been based at Valparaiso, Chile, but after the Crimean war, Britain became concerned with Russia’s ports in the north Pacific and Esquimalt had a deep harbour well-suited to sailing ships.

Between 1857 and 1863, the Royal Navy surveyed and charted not only the border region between the Gulf Islands and the San Juans, but the entire coastline of Vancouver Island, the Strait of Georgia, and parts of Haida Gwaii and the mainland coast, including Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, Jervis Inlet, Bute Inlet, and the Fraser River as far as Fort Langley.

As a result, there are many place names of crew members and their ships including Browning, Bedwell, Blunden and Gowlland Harbours; Campbell River, Mayne Island, Brockton Point, Pender Island, Plumper Sound, and Hecate Strait.

The presence of the Royal Navy was an economic and social boost to the town of Victoria. Many of the members played musical instruments and took part in theatre productions, and they were always present at government dances.