Now Where Was I … ?

Governor Frederick Seymour and pet cat.
Governor Frederick Seymour and pet cat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most incredible stories from the early days of the provinces tells how Victoria was chosen to be the capital of British Columbia on April 2, 1868.

Vancouver Island and the mainland, which had been separate British colonies, were united as the single colony of British Columbia in November 1866. Governor Kennedy, who had been unpopular, was recalled to London and Frederick Seymour appointed in his place. There is an interesting sidelight on Governor Kennedy’s departure. Dr. Margaret Ormsby, in her book British Columbia: A History, recounts that an official wrote: “The Governor’s family departed in a shower of tears. ‘Twas most affecting – entre nous, only an Irish family could have got up such a scene. One would have thought they had been beloved and revered all the time.

On April 2, 1868, the legislative council of British Columbia had to vote on whether Victoria or New Westminster should be the new capital. Captain Franklyn, the magistrate of Nanaimo, was supposed to make a strong speech in favour of New Westminster because there was great jealously between Nanaimo and Victoria. Before the Council opened its meeting, franklyn spent some time in a bar and wasn’t thinking clearly when the time came for his speech. Gold Commissioner Cox, who was in favour of Victoria, reshuffled the pages of Franklyn’s speech so that he read the introduction three times. When Franklyn laid his spectacles on the table, Cox pressed the glass from their frames and Franklyn was not able to read at all.

The chairman called a recess for half an hour, but when Franklyn rose to resume his speech, there was an objection. It was that he had already made his speech and could not be heard again. The objection was put to a vote and upheld. Victoria was then chosen to be the new capital.

Gold Commissioner Cox and Magistrate Franklyn were both dismissed by Governor Seymour shortly after.

To read more about this debate, I suggest clicking your way to Island Times Magazine


  1. Hmm.. drinking on the job. I wonder if the rest of the people who voted for Victoria were sober. Mind you, Victoria is a great place for politicians. I’m too close to the border of New Westminster. Yikes.


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