History of Victoria, British Columbia: A City Possibly Cursed

Because I like to know the past of an area I enter into, I present the following:

In the spring of 1778, as a war was going on 2500 miles away, a little known explorer by the name of Captain James Cook set foot on an island just below the 49th parallel on the west coast of North America. The first European had set foot on what was to become Vancouver island. Cook later died of a stomach ailment a year or so later. Coincidence?

Fur traders created a small hub on the island that became on of the centralized ports to several other locations in the Pacific Northwest. The City of Victoria was founded by the Hudson’s Bay Company on March 14, 1843, as a trading post and fort at the location the native americans called “Camosack” (meaning “Rush of Water).” With the coming of the Oregon Treaty, which created the boundaries of the west between the British and Americans, the company moved their fort of from Vancouver on the Columbia River(The one just north of Portland Oregon) to the southern end of Vancouver Island.

And all of those involved with that move are now dead. Coincidence?

Victoria was incorporated as a City on August 2, 1862. Mr. Thomas Harris was elected (by acclamation) as Victoria’s first Mayor on August 16, 1862, and he presided at the City Council’s first meeting held on August 25, 1862.

Mr. Harris is now dead….Hmmmmm.

Life was tough for the city bustling with a population of over 425 people. There life would take a turn for the interering with the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland in 1858. Victoria became the port, supply base, and outfitting center for miners on their way to the Cariboo gold fields. The first ship bringing these modern argonauts, the “Commodore” – a wooden side-wheel American steamer, entered Victoria harbour on Sunday morning, April 25, 1858, just as the townspeople were returning homeward from church. With astonishment, they watched as 450 men disembarked – typical gold-seekers, complete with blankets, miner’s pans and spades and firearms; and it is estimated that within a few weeks, over 20,000 had landed. Overnight, as it were, a city of tents sprang up around the fort and quickly spread out over both sides of James Bay.

And where are these gold-rushers now? Gone, almost without a trace.


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