From Small Hamlet to Provincial Capital
Today I would like to talk about the history of Victoria, British Columbia, my home town, which is featured in my novel Providence (Book One in the McBride Chronicles), recently released by Hancock House Publishers in Vancouver.
On March 13, 1843, James Douglas (a Chief Factor with the Hudson’s Bay Company) and Father J.B.Z. Bolduc, a Roman Catholic Missionary, anchored the Beaver off Clover Point. Douglas was very impressed with the area and considered it “a perfect Eden” for a trading post. The next day he selected the exact site for Fort Victoria (named for the Queen) and the building began.
The trading post was situated on land where the Legwunken Indigenous people had lived, farmed and fished for hundreds of years. They called it Camosack meaning Rush of Water.
By mid-summer Douglas was in residence at the Fort. This was the beginning of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island and on March 11, 1850, Richard Blanshard arrived to become Governor of the Colony, the first to be established in British territory west of the Great Lakes and north of the 49th parallel.
By 1854 the little community around the Fort consisted of approximately 230 men, women and children, but in 1858 things changed radically when gold was discovered on the Fraser River. The small population, still less than 500, increased virtually overnight and within a few weeks had reached 2,000. The quiet, pastoral life at the Fort was shattered.
It was at this time that my fictitious hero, Gideon McBride, entered Victoria. He was a young Scotsman, son of a poor fisherman and had escaped the life he was expected to embrace by joining the Hudson’s Bay Company as a cabin boy aboard the Jonathan. After many adventures along the way as a trader, gambler, riverboat captain and finally a prosperous business man, he wanted to settle down and find happiness.
In 1862, Jane Hopkins arrived on the bride ship S.S. Tynemouth and Gideon fell in love with her. Her strength, determination and independence intrigue him. Jane’s story began back in England as an abandoned orphan who was abused in a Home for unwanted children, followed by working for the gentry below stairs where she was violated, and then suffering an horrendous three-month trip at sea to flee to the New World. That same year, Victoria was incorporated as a town and Thomas Harris became the first Mayor of the small city.
PROVIDENCE (Book one in The McBride Chronicles) tells Jane and Gideon’s story until 1871, the year of Confederation when British Columbia became the sixth province to join the Dominion of Canada. Victoria was proclaimed the Capital City of the Province. After many trials in their lives, the year 1871 was also the year their daughter Sarah was born. It will be her story that continues in Book Two (Destiny) soon to be released.
It is my firm belief that history is best told through the voices of those who lived it, and even though my characters in these novels are all fictitious, their stories explain the hardships of early settlers, as well as the evils of colonialism.
With a backdrop of British Columbia’s exciting history, I sincerely hope you will become hooked on the McBride story as the family continues to grow with future generations. I feel I know this family well as I have lived with all their idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and strengths for so long. I hope you will feel the same way. I strongly feel it is very important to take a look at our history from every angle and explore the past both in fact and fiction,
If you enjoy the first book, please leave a short review on Amazon, with the publisher Hancock House at email@example.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.