a little history on-line

For a little week-end change of pace, I offer you an historical artifact recently established and placed on-line for all to peruse.

That would be the archives of the British Colonist, forerunner to our local newspaper, Victoria’s Times-Colonist.

The British Colonist was founded in 1858 by a man formerly known as William Smith, but better known as Amor de Cosmos. That’s right … ‘lover of the universe’. British Columbia has always been a place for eccentrics.

I fit right in.

You can read a little about the history of the British Colonist here, it is the oldest paper in Western Canada.

The new web-site is a project of the Times-Colonist and the University of Victoria. It contains pdf copies of every edition of the paper from its beginning as a weekly three weeks after the colony of British Columbia was founded. That would be those folks back east, on the other side of the ferry. The colony of Vancouver Island, headed by Fort Victoria, was about eleven years old at this point. James Douglas, the governor for the Hudson’s Bay Company, saw the handwriting on the wall and moved out of Fort Vancouver at the mouth of the Columbia, anticipating correctly the loss of the Oregon territory to the aggressive Americans.

So the archives available begin in 1858 and go through to 1910. They are interesting to browse and are searchable on any term you like. A treasure trove of trivia awaits! (And the temptation to waste a lot of time.)

In these pages you will discover the wild and wacky characters of British Columbia, including the afore mentioned De Cosmos. He sold his paper to his employees in 1860. Thirteen years later, the merged colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia became the province of British Columbia in the new nation of Canada. And Amor De Cosmos became our second premier.

Only in Canada, eh? And only in BC, too.

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