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The Curious Passage of Richard Blanshard : First Governor of Vancouver Island

The Curious Passage of Richard Blanshard: First Governor of Vancouver Island

Barry Gough
$38.95


Celebrated historian Barry Gough brings a defining era of Pacific Northwest history into focus in this biography of Richard Blanshard, the first governor of Vancouver Island—illuminating with intriguing detail the genesis and early days of Canada’s westernmost province.

Early one wintry day in March 1850, after seven weary weeks out of sight of land, a well-dressed Londoner, a bachelor aged thirty-two, stood at the ship’s rail taking in the immensity of the unfolding scene. From Her Britannic Majesty’s paddlewheel sloop-of-war Driver, steadily thumping forth on Imperial purpose, all that Richard Blanshard could make out to port, in reflected purple light upon the northern side, was a forested, rock-clad island rising to considerable height. Vancouver’s Island they called it in those far-off days. This was his destination.

Richard Blanshard was governor of the young colony for three short, unhappy years—only one and a half of which were spent in the colony itself. From the very beginning he was at odds with the vastly influential Hudson’s Bay Company, run by its Chief Factor James Douglas, who succeeded Blanshard as governor of the colony of Vancouver Island and later became the first governor of the colony of British Columbia. While James Douglas is remembered, for better or worse, as a founding father of British Columbia, Richard Blanshard’s name is now largely forgotten, despite his vitally important role in warning London of American cross-border aggressions, including a planned takeover of Haida Gwaii. However, his failures highlight the fascinating struggles of the time—the supreme influence of commerce, the disparity between expectations and reality, and the bewildering collision of European and Pacific Northwest culture.


 

“In his biography of Richard Blanshard, the prolific historian Barry Gough builds on his definitive career-long work chronicling the agents—maritime navigators and terrestrial fur trade explorers--who effectuated Great Britain’s incorporation of the far northwestern quadrant of North America into its imperial realm. The 1849 appointment of the gentlemanly Londoner as the first governor of the colony of “Vancouver Island and its Dependencies” heralded the often difficult transition from Hudson’s Bay Company governance of the Northwest Coast into a province within what became a northern transcontinental dominion. In this respect, Blanshard’s tenure featured not only the halting internal evolution from corporate to civil authority but also the necessity of managing cross-border complications with what Gough calls the “fourth corner of the United States.” An increasingly militarized Oregon frontier (including Puget Sound, the heart of what became Washington Territory in 1853), was a concomitant aspect of a rising tide of American protectionism against British interests in the region. Blanshard, virtually a one-man administration, thus also had to cope with the seizure of British vessels in American waters because of customs disputes, American settlers, contrary to treaty provision, squatting on HBC land south of the border, and U. S. Army officials going to Victoria looking for deserters who had ventured there on HBC ships calling at Fort Nisqually with the gold fields of California fevering their minds. This is the first book emanating from either side of the 49th parallel that has looked at the emergent issues of the post-boundary settlement era (1846-1860) with any degree of thoroughness, and it is written with Gough’s characteristic verve and clarity.”


–David L. Nicandri, former director, Washington State Historical Society and author of Captain Cook Rediscovered: Voyaging to the Icy Latitudes and Lewis & Clark Reframed: Examining Ties to Cook, Vancouver and Mackenzie


Harbour Publishing
ISBN: 9781990776380
Hardback
6 in x 9 in - 344 pp
Publication Date: 25/11/2023
BISAC Subject(s):: HIS006010-HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation (to 1867),HIS006050-HISTORY / Canada / Provincial, Territorial & Local / British Columbia (BC) 
:

Description


Celebrated historian Barry Gough brings a defining era of Pacific Northwest history into focus in this biography of Richard Blanshard, the first governor of Vancouver Island—illuminating with intriguing detail the genesis and early days of Canada’s westernmost province.

Early one wintry day in March 1850, after seven weary weeks out of sight of land, a well-dressed Londoner, a bachelor aged thirty-two, stood at the ship’s rail taking in the immensity of the unfolding scene. From Her Britannic Majesty’s paddlewheel sloop-of-war Driver, steadily thumping forth on Imperial purpose, all that Richard Blanshard could make out to port, in reflected purple light upon the northern side, was a forested, rock-clad island rising to considerable height. Vancouver’s Island they called it in those far-off days. This was his destination.

Richard Blanshard was governor of the young colony for three short, unhappy years—only one and a half of which were spent in the colony itself. From the very beginning he was at odds with the vastly influential Hudson’s Bay Company, run by its Chief Factor James Douglas, who succeeded Blanshard as governor of the colony of Vancouver Island and later became the first governor of the colony of British Columbia. While James Douglas is remembered, for better or worse, as a founding father of British Columbia, Richard Blanshard’s name is now largely forgotten, despite his vitally important role in warning London of American cross-border aggressions, including a planned takeover of Haida Gwaii. However, his failures highlight the fascinating struggles of the time—the supreme influence of commerce, the disparity between expectations and reality, and the bewildering collision of European and Pacific Northwest culture.


 

“In his biography of Richard Blanshard, the prolific historian Barry Gough builds on his definitive career-long work chronicling the agents—maritime navigators and terrestrial fur trade explorers--who effectuated Great Britain’s incorporation of the far northwestern quadrant of North America into its imperial realm. The 1849 appointment of the gentlemanly Londoner as the first governor of the colony of “Vancouver Island and its Dependencies” heralded the often difficult transition from Hudson’s Bay Company governance of the Northwest Coast into a province within what became a northern transcontinental dominion. In this respect, Blanshard’s tenure featured not only the halting internal evolution from corporate to civil authority but also the necessity of managing cross-border complications with what Gough calls the “fourth corner of the United States.” An increasingly militarized Oregon frontier (including Puget Sound, the heart of what became Washington Territory in 1853), was a concomitant aspect of a rising tide of American protectionism against British interests in the region. Blanshard, virtually a one-man administration, thus also had to cope with the seizure of British vessels in American waters because of customs disputes, American settlers, contrary to treaty provision, squatting on HBC land south of the border, and U. S. Army officials going to Victoria looking for deserters who had ventured there on HBC ships calling at Fort Nisqually with the gold fields of California fevering their minds. This is the first book emanating from either side of the 49th parallel that has looked at the emergent issues of the post-boundary settlement era (1846-1860) with any degree of thoroughness, and it is written with Gough’s characteristic verve and clarity.”


–David L. Nicandri, former director, Washington State Historical Society and author of Captain Cook Rediscovered: Voyaging to the Icy Latitudes and Lewis & Clark Reframed: Examining Ties to Cook, Vancouver and Mackenzie

Details


Harbour Publishing
ISBN: 9781990776380
Hardback
6 in x 9 in - 344 pp
Publication Date: 25/11/2023
BISAC Subject(s):: HIS006010-HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation (to 1867),HIS006050-HISTORY / Canada / Provincial, Territorial & Local / British Columbia (BC) 
: