Friday, May 10, 2013

Amor De Cosmos

This house at 1860 Grant Street is an example of a prefabricated home supplied by B.C. Mills Timber and Trading Company. However, the current style is not reflected in any of the company's catalogues.

Wednesday we talked about B.C.'s first premier, John Foster McCreight who served in that position from November 14, 1871 to December 23, 1872. He was replaced by Amor De Cosmos.

Our second premier was an interesting fellow. Born William Alexander Smith in Windsor, Nova Scotia on August 20, 1825, Smith's parents were United Empire Loyalists. He did a stint at King's College in Windsor then went on to become a mercantile clerk in Halifax.

While in Halifax, William joined the Dalhousie University Debating Club. It was there that he came under the influence of Nova Scotia politician and reformer, Joseph Howe.

Edward Farraday Odlum erected this house in 1906. It is a block east from his father's home at 1774 Grant, a house I have written on recently. The elder Odlum is credited with naming the district.

In 1845, Smith joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1852, he emigrated to Kanesville, Iowa and established a daguerreotype studio. However, as with many young men, the lure of the California Gold Rush called to him the following year so it was off to Placerville, California. In Placerville, Smith and his brother set up a new studio and prospered taking photos of miners and their operations.

The pair later moved northwest to Oroville, California where the two were successful in various entrepreneurial endeavours. In 1854, Smith petitioned the California State Assembly to change his name to Amor De Cosmos. (It is inaccurately translated to "Lover of the Universe"). He said the name change was to pay tribute"to what I love most...Love of order, beauty, the world, the universal."

This photo of Amor De Cosmos comes from the BC Archives

In 1858, De Cosmos and his brother moved again. This time to British North America where they would once again live under the British Flag. They saw an opportunity in the city of Victoria.

Since 1843, the capital of Vancouver Island was a quiet village of about perhaps 300 people. An economic boom started the spring of 1858 though as Victoria became the jumping off point for miners headed to New Caledonia (now mainland British Columbia) and on to make their fortunes in the Fraser Gold Rush.

De Cosmos founded a newspaper, The Daily British Colonist, still in operation today as the Victoria Times-Colonist.
Monday I will talk more about De Cosmos's career as a journalist as well as his entry into politics.

Thank you the Government of BC for the listing of premiers and Wikipedia for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. You did it again Karen. I found two more reasons to like Canada. My family of Smiths founded Massachusetts colony. They were blacksmiths, silversmiths, newspaper owners, furniture and carpenters as the earliest settlers. They were the entrepreneur's of the East and then finally made their way west. Love your history. Lana Lee

  2. Remember to visit Monday when I have the second part of my write up on Amor De Cosmos. It is interesting.

    Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great weekend.