British Columbia (Colony). Governor (1858-1964 : Douglas)

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

British Columbia (Colony). Governor (1858-1964 : Douglas)

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Other form(s) of name

  • Governor

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Description area

Dates of existence



The first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, James Douglas, was appointed in 1858 by royal commission (22 Vict., 2 September 1858). Prior to that, the territories known as New Caledonia were under grant to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The establishment of the Colony of British Columbia resulted from two events: the termination the Crown grant with the Hudson’s Bay Company and, at the same time, an influx of population into the area resulting from the Fraser River gold rush.

The Government of British Columbia Act provided for a legislature with a council and an assembly, but from 1858 to 1864 absolute power and authority for the colony was invested by the Crown in the Governor. He was responsible for making and proclaiming laws and ordinances to establish "peace, order and good government" in the Colony. During this time, James Douglas was also the Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island.

In 1863, the Colonial Office in England instituted constitutional changes for the Colony of British Columbia, parallel to those for the Colony of Vancouver Island, by establishing an Executive Council and a Legislative Council. The Governor was still the officer administering the government.

Douglas retired in 1864 and Frederick Seymour was appointed Governor of the Colony of British Columbia. At the same time, Edward Kennedy was appointed Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island. When the two colonies united in 1866, the government administration for the Colony of Vancouver Island ceased to exist and the island came under the governance of the Colony of British Columbia.

Seymour remained as Governor of the united Colony of British Columbia and it was under his administration that the capital of the colony was moved from New Westminster to Victoria in 1868.

Seymour died in 1869 and he was succeeded as Governor by Anthony Musgrave. Musgrave was the Governor for the next two years, strongly supporting the Colony’s bid to join confederation as a province of the Dominion of Canada, which it did in 1871. Most of the colonial officials remained in their positions, under the authority of Lieutenant-Governor Joseph Trutch, until an election was held a few months after confederation. The first Premier of the province of British Columbia was John McCreight who served from 1871 to 1872.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Responsible for making and proclaiming laws and ordinances to establish peace, order and good government in the Colony.

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A Government Name

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Relationships area

Related entity

British Columbia (Colony). Governor (1858-1871)

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Related entity

Douglas, James, Sir, 1803-1877 (1803-1877)

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Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Michael Carter 2008-07-28




Central Name Authority File

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