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British Columbia. Legislative Assembly Victoria (B.C.)
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Election records from Victoria

  • GR-1667
  • Series
  • 1871-1872

This series consists of poll-books, voters' lists, and correspondence relating to two landmark elections in British Columbia: the election of 1871 of representatives to the provincial legislature, and the election of 1872, called to elect provincial members to the Dominion House of Commons - respectively the first provincial election and the first federal election held in B.C. These records document B.C.'s last "open voting" elections (i.e. a secret ballot was not used). Compiled by A.F. Pemberton, Chief Returning Officer for Victoria, the records pertain to Victoria City, Victoria District, Esquimalt and Metchosin.

The election of 1871 was held in various parts of the province between October and December. It was conducted in accordance with the Colonial Election Regulation Act [34 Vic., No. 13, a statute which affirmed the practice of open voting (as opposed to the secret ballot). Thus, the poll books in this collection show the names of electors and the candidates for whom each elector voted. Voter's qualifications were determined by the colonial Qualification and Registration of Voters' Act [34 Vic., No. 156]. To qualify for the franchise, a voter had to be male, a loyal British subject, over twenty-one years of age, literate (at least able to write his name), and a resident in B.C. for no less than six months. In addition, qualified electors had to meet one of the following criteria: occupy premises with an annual rent of $40 or more; own freehold property having an assessed value of at least $250; have a pre-emption claim of 100 acres or more; possess a free-miners' license.

The Dominion election of 1872 was held under the authority of two federal statutes: the Interim Parliamentary Election Act of 1871 [34 Vic., c.20] and the Act to Re-adjust the Representation in the House of Commons, 1872 [35 Vic., c.13]. The first statute made provisions for holding a federal election in B.C.; the second confirmed the number of MPs to be elected from B.C. [6] and established federal electoral boundaries. 2 MPs were elected from the district of Victoria; 1 MP from the district of Vancouver (i.e. Vancouver Island north of Victoria and adjacent to the Gulf Islands); 1 MP for each of the districts of New Westminster, Yale, and Cariboo. Section 5 of the Interim Parliamentary Elections Act declared that the laws already in force in B.C. would apply to the election of 1872. Accordingly, polling for the province's first federal election was carried out under colonial legislation noted above. The Dominion election was also carried out in accordance with B.C.'s Corrupt Practices Prevention Act [34 Vic., No. 158], a colonial statute which stipulated that candidates had to declare all expenses incurred during their campaign. Hence the documents in Box 1, files 6 & 7 of this collection.

The records in GR-1667 relate solely to the Victoria electoral district. For elections to the provincial legislature, the riding included areas within the city's limits. Federally, however, the electoral district of Victoria embraced the City of Victoria and adjacent areas of Saanich (Victoria District), Esquimalt and Metchosin. A.F. Pemberton was the district's chief Returning Officer in both elections. In the provincial election -- held on 16 October 1871 -- Pemberton established the district polling station at the Police Barracks in Bastion Square. In the Dominion election -- held on 2 September 1872 -- he established six polling stations. The polls were open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Three candidates contested the two Victoria seats: Amor DeCosmos, Henry Nathan and Robert Beavan. DeCosmos, and Nathan were elected. The results of the election, and returns from each of the polling stations, were published in the Victoria Daily Colonist (3 Sep 1872).

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary


The item is a petition from the City of Victoria to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia requesting legislation to authorize alteration of the "City of Victoria Official Map Act 1880."

15th Parliament, First Session

Group photo of MLAs on steps of Parliament Buildings. First row, l to r: ?, [John Hart]. ?, J.W. de B. Farris, Premier John Oliver, A.M. Manson [Speaker]. W.J. Bowser, ?, W.R. Ross, ?, [John Keen]. Mary Ellen Smith, first woman MLA in BC, standing behind Oliver and Manson.

Members of the Legislative Assembly, [15th Parliament, First Session]

Members on the steps of the Parliament Buildings. In the front row are John Hart (2nd from the left), John Wallace de Beque Farris (4th from the left), Premier John Oliver, the Speaker of the House [probably Alexander Malcolm Manson], William John Bowser (Leader of the Opposition], and 9th from the left, William R. Ross. Mary Ellen Smith (first elected in January 2018) is in the second row, behind Oliver and Manson.

Scenes around the Parliament Buildings of British Columbia

The item is a reel of b&w documentary film from 1929. "Opening ceremony of the Seventeenth Parliament of British Columbia. Shot of War Memorial and Empress Hotel from west wing. Highlanders march past, band, soldiers in front of buildings. Dignitaries arriving. Lieutenant-Governor [R.R. Bruce] inspects Guard of Honour. Group of Cabinet Ministers in top hats. The Premier, Dr. S. F. Tolmie. Minister of Agriculture, Hon. William Atkinson. Children celebrate 24th of May at Parliament Buildings. Parliament Buildings greenhouse. Head gardener checking plants in greenhouse. Plants in cold frames. Bedding summer plants. Grooming beds. Sprinklers on lawns. Mowing back lawns of Parliament Buildings. Correct way of packing tulips for market demonstrated." (Colin Browne)

Members of the BC Legislative Assembly or the BC Liberal Party

Item consists of a mount of one photograph on card of one unidentified woman [Mary Ellen Smith?] and numerous men posed on the front steps of the B.C. Parliament Buildings.

Smith was a Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly from 1918-1928 and President of the B.C. Liberal Party from 1928 until her death in 1933. Her likely inclusion within the photograph dates the image from the late 1920s to 1933.

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