Vancouver Island Leased

12 Jan
English: Hudson's Bay Company on Cordova Stree...

Hudson’s Bay Company on Cordova Street. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday‘s post 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 defence 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 earlier settlers were quickly disenchanted. The first governor, Richard Blanchard, 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 tourists over one hundred years later, who often arrive in Canada in July bringing skis and winter clothing.


Posted by on January 12, 2013 in On This Day


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3 responses to “Vancouver Island Leased

  1. alesiablogs

    January 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I do not live too far from Vancouver Island. I have friends that love “camping” there! Now I know why they “camp!” haha


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