Sir Douglas connection celebrated

Fort Langley and Fort St. James shared a
connection to the Caribbean in Sir Douglas

  • Tue Nov 29th, 2011 9:00am
  • News

The Caribbean came to Langley Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Fort Langley Historic Site.

There was a re-enactment of proclaiming British Columbia as a crown colony by the first governor, Sir James Douglas.

Douglas himself is the link to the Caribbean, where he was born in Demerara, British Guiana,  (which is now the independent nation of Guyana) in 1803.

Douglas’  father was a Scottish merchant who had trade interests in South America, and his mother was a Creole.

Douglas was educated in Scotland, and at age 16 he landed in Quebec, working for the North West Company at various trading posts in eastern and central Canada. In 1821, the NWC merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and four years later Douglas was transferred to Fort St. James to complete his apprenticeship.

In 1848, he was moved to Fort Victoria to head the company’s operation on the Pacific Coast and, three years later, Richard Blanchard, the governor of Victoria, appointed Douglas as governor of Vancouver Islands.

In 1858, as thousands of miners began arriving in Victoria at the beginning of the gold rush, it fell to Douglas to maintain law and order, and build roads, hospitals and schools as the population boomed.

On Nov. 19, 1858 in Fort Langley, he was sworn in as the first governor as the new crown colony of British Columbia was proclaimed.

 

Douglas, who was knighted in 1863, died in 1877 and is buried in Victoria’s Ross Bay Cemetery.