HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE ON THIS DAY IN CANADA
Vancouver Island Leased
Yesterday's story mentioned that Britain and France sometimes entrusted the development of Canada to private enterprise rather
than doing it themselves. An example of such enterprise was the company called "The Merchant Adventurers of England trading
into Hudson's Bay", formed in 1670.
The Hudson's Bay Company concluded a big deal on January 13, 1849 when it leased Vancouver Island from the British Government for seven shillings a year. In those days, seven shillings was worth about $1.75!
The reason the Hudson's Bay Company made such a bargain was that Britain was in the throes of a depression, including a famine in Ireland. In addition, the United States had in the year before bought California from
Mexico and now controlled the Pacific to the 49th parallel. Britain needed a naval base on the Pacific coast, and Vancouver Island was the logical place for it.
The Hudson's Bay Company had exclusive trading rights on the island, but in return agreed to pay for the cost of defense and to bring in settlers. The agreement was supposed to last until 1859, but was kept in effect until 1866 when Vancouver Island was united with the mainland, and the whole area became British Columbia.
Some of the early settlers were quickly disenchanted. The first governor, Richard Blan
shard, was sent out by the British Government. He agreed to serve without pay because he hoped the post would be the first step in a diplomatic career. However, he also expected that he would have a mansion and an estate of extensive lawns as in England. Not finding them, he lasted only a few months before asking to be recalled.
Other settlers arrived with coaches and horses, only to find that there were no roads. Some brought equipment for playing cricket, but, alas, it takes a long time to convert a forest into a cricket pitch! Still, they were no more badly informed than American tourists almost one hundred years later, who often arrived in Canada in July bringing skis and winter clothing.
OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS ON THIS DAY IN CANADIAN HISTORY
-1825 The legislative session opened in Upper Canada; amongst other measures, it set the price of bread.
-1837 Fire destroyed a large part of Saint John, N.B.
-1838 W. L. Mackenzie abandoned the base on Navy Island from which he had proclaimed a provisional government of Canada.
-1865 Joseph Howe began daily attacks on Confederation in a Halifax paper.
-1947 The British Privy Council agreed that the Supreme Court of Canada was to be the court of final appeal.
-1951 The first group of Royal Air Force air crew trainees arrived at Dorval, Quebec.