Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beaven 's Battles

On July 20, 1871, B.C. united with Canada and that brought a new form of government. Now there was an elected assembly of 25 members and Robert Beaven was one of four men voted in to represent Victoria City.

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.
Beaven's term as chief commissioner was controversial, as was most of his career. The opposition accused the commissioner of corruption and incompetence in such matters as tenders and pre-emptions. Beaven was investigated by a royal commission and these charges were never proved.

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.
The government faced the electorate that fall and lost its majority. However, the Executive Council carried on until the legislature met so Beaven remained in his position until January 27, 1876. He was an active member of the opposition during Elliot's interregnum administration. Beaven was also re-elected in May of 1878, along with many Walkem supporters.

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.

Wow! I sure get a lot more information when I consult sites such as The Directory of Canadian Biography Online. I haven't even got to Robert Beaven's time as premier yet so more on Friday.

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.

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  1. Much has been done by white society to our Native Americans here as stealing lands, mass murder, in order to eliminate the entire race. I think it is terrible what people will do to each other for power and greed.

    1. Correct. However, the past is over. The First Nations - or Native Americans - are a conquered people. It is time to quit griping about what one set of ancestors did to another and start building on what we have.

      My ancestors are Irish and we were starved out of our homeland and immigrated to countries where we were considered inferior to everyone. People can be cruel - EVERY race.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.