LETTER – A better understanding of B.C.’s history might negate the need for a name change

Dear editor,

In response to Ben Pires (Victoria) July 15 letter (Sincere reconciliation efforts would include changing our province’s ‘colonial’ name), I summarize the history of British Columbia with the hope all citizens might celebrate the Aug. 1 provincial holiday with more understanding of how it evolved.

Territorial disputes are as old as the Garden of Eden.

The BC colonial period was only eight years (1858-1866). Prior to that era, territorial disputes between Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S. for control of the Pacific Coast had continued for decades, characterized by commercial (not military) forts. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the British and the defeat of the Americans in the War of 1812 (Ontario area), British naval and commercial power along the Columbia River ascended. Russia sold its territory (now Alaska) to prevent the British from obtaining a stronghold.

In 1793, a private American seagoing trading vessel arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River, in what is now Oregon, six weeks before the overland journey of HBS surveyor David Thompson was concluded. The ship was named Columbia Rediviva and the river takes its name from that event.

It was an epic moment in American expansionist history, still celebrated at Disneyland and in the Apollo 11 spaceship.

The major issue in the 1844 U.S. election was the extension of the U.S. border to the 54:40 parallel. Eventually, the British ceded the mouth of the Columbia to the U.S. but insisted on keeping all of Vancouver Island (the southern tip of which is below the 49th Parallel).

Captain Courtenay was sent from the major Pacific naval base in Chile to establish a UK naval base on the Island. It became Esquimalt. And, yes, that is the person after whom the City of Courtenay is named. Kaiser Wilhelm (Germany) settled the final border dispute by declaring that it would be along the deepest channel within the San Juan Islands.

The name British Columbia refers to the part of the huge river highway that was retained by the Brits and which became the westernmost province of Canada. A new nation that extended “from sea to sea.” There is no way Indigenous Peoples could escape colonization, but perhaps many might agree that given the possibilities (Russian, Spanish, American) they got the best of a bad draw. Perhaps true reconciliation might be built upon a more fair analysis that includes the consequences of territorial disputes. And possibly we could celebrate Aug. 1 with love in our hearts for Canada and a determination to build a more inclusive future.

Betty Donaldson,

Courtenay

Letter to the Editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A photo of the missing mushroom pickers from the Lil’Wat Nation near Pemberton: River Leo (left) and dad Peter Oleski. Facebook photo/Sea to Sky Road Conditions page
Two Comox Valley-based search organizations assisting in missing Pemberton mushroom pickers

Two members from the Lil’Wat Nation were last seen Oct. 22

Students at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary kicked off the Everybody Deserves A Smile (EDAS) campaign in 2019. Scott Stanfield photo
Everybody Deserves a Smile campaign adapts to COVID-19 challenges

“We didn’t want to lose our heartfelt hands-on approach.”

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at HMCS Quadra in Comox

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

Courtenay residents will have a substantial schedule change for curbside trash collection beginning in January 2021. (Ben Lypka/Black Press file)
Courtenay moving to a zone system for curbside trash collection

New system means collection days will change with every statutory holiday

A jubilant Ronna-Rae Leonard salutes the crowd at her victory party at the Avalanche Bar & Grill. (photo by Scott Stanfield)
UPDATE: Leonard declared early winner for Courtenay-Comox

NDP incumbent held similar margin of lead throughout the evening

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read