11 March

Presentation of commission to Blanshard ar Fort Victoria, 1850

Blanshard Arrives to Govern Vancouver Island

Blanshard is the name of an important street in Victoria. It commemorates Richard Blanshard, the first Governor of Vancouver Island which was made a British colony in 1849. Previously it had been governed by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Richard Blanshard must have been one of the most disappointed men who ever came to Canada. He was a London merchant who had spent some time in the West Indies and India, and became ambitious to make a name for himself in the British diplomatic service. When Vancouver Island became a colony, he applied for the job of governor, even though it meant serving without pay. There was some talk in London, though, that he would be given a beautiful mansion and an estate of 1,000 acres with beautiful lawns and gardens.

His chagrin can be imagined when he stepped on shore from H.M.S. Driver on March 11, 1850, and read the proclamation establishing the new colony with himself as governor. It was a dreary day, mixed with rain and snow. The only estate available for Blanshard was 1,000 acres of uncleared land which he was expected to develop at his own expense. There wasn't a place for him to live on shore, let alone a mansion and he had to go back to the ship.

In one of his first letters to the Colonial1 Office he complained that there were only three other settlers on the island. One of them, Captain Colquhon Grant, had arrived the previous year with coaches and carriages, only to learn that there were no roads. He also brought equipment for playing cricket, which requires a smoother surface than a baseball diamond!

Blanshard only lasted until November when he resigned. James Douglas, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, was appointed governor in his place. It was a good thing, because Douglas had seen the United States take over Oregon and knew the steps that had to be taken to preserve British Columbia from annexation.


11 March

-1848    The second Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry took office.

-1855    Joseph Howe was in Georgetown, Virginia, on a "cloak and dagger" mission to recruit Americans for the British army in the Crimean War.

-1885    Inspector Crozier of the Northwest Mounted Police gave warning that rebellion was imminent in what is now Saskatchewan.