When Amor De Cosmos replaced McCreight as premier in December of 1872, Beaven became chief commissioner of lands and works.
This was a very important position. Unlike Manitoba and the North West territories, B.C. retained control over its land and other resources when the colony became a province of Canada.
Robert pushed ahead with land surveys but he was criticized for not opening up land for settlement fast enough. He was also taken to task for mishandling the First Nation's policy, which required more land set aside not less.
Gilbert Malcom Sprout, Indian Reserve Commissioner, called Beaven a 'narrow, stubborn man' who was intent on reducing the size of Indian reserves. In fact, Beaven and Premier Walkem were accused of interfering with the publication of government documents dealing with the Indian land question, which the legislature had requested in 1875.
When Walkem travelled to Ottawa and London during 1874-75, dealing with the issue of the long delayed transcontinental railway, Beaven was likely the man in charge. On June 26, 1878, Beaven was given the critical post of finance and agriculture. He had the honour - if you want to call it that - of seconding the motion that B.C. had the right to withdraw from the confederation.
The finance portfolio was a difficult one when Beaven took it over. Since 1871, the federal subsidies the province was receiving were not substantial enough for the development programs contemplated and British Columbia's financial record made borrowing nearly impossible. Provinces had to fund public works out of current revenues and B.C.'s cash cows - cash from crown lands used for mining, forestry and settlement - had fluctuating revenues.
I hope you are enjoying this look at the politicians who helped shape our province because Beaven is number six and there are 35 people to cover.
I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, Robert Beaven, history, Premier, confederation British Columbia,Victoria,politics