Monday, May 20, 2013

Robert Beaven

Friday I told you about our fourth premier, Andrew Elliot. The fifth man to hold that position was George Walkem who I have already written on so today I will be looking at B.C.'s sixth premier - Robert Beaven.

This photo of Beaven is from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon.

Robert was the son of a reverend. He was born in Leigh, Staffordshire England on January 28, 1836. Robert and his family moved to Upper Canada in 1843 because his father had an academic appointment in Toronto. The younger Beaven graduated from Upper Canada college before succumbing to the lure of the Cariboo gold of the 1860's and moving to British Columbia.

Not long after Beaven married, he and his bride settled in Victoria - Vancouver Island had just amalgamated with the mainland colony of British Columbia. After 1868, Victoria was not only the colony's largest commercial centre but also its capital.

Beaven had a variety of positions. He acquired real estate and insurance interests; was a commission agent; the local agent for the Florence Sewing Machine Company and a partner in a retail clothier and outfitter.

Beaven rose to prominence in British Columbia's politics at a time when there was a political struggle over our future. One of the reasons for amalgamating the colony of Vancouver Island with the mainland of British Columbia was to solve financial problems. Unfortunately, that didn't work and in addition, the colony was being ruled by an imperial government that wasn't prepared to subsidize its overseas productions.

In May of 1886, Amor De Cosmos and journalist John Robson formed a group of people in favour of uniting with the Dominion of Canada. Beaven served as the league's first secretary.

The Confederation League, as it was called, not only had the purpose of uniting with Canada but also to bring a democratic government to B.C. At this time in our history, the people of B.C. were not ruled by a elected government. Instead, politics and legislation were in the control of the British-born elite appointed by the governor.

Beaven summoned the Yale Convention, which in September adopted a program for the upcoming selection of the popular members in the Legislative Council.

The league suffered a major setback when De Cosmos was defeated in Victoria and the Legislative Council decided that confederation should not be pursued. However, pressure from the British government (exerted through Governor Anthony Musgrave) combined with extremely favourable conditions from Ottawa - including a transcontinental railway and graving dock - changed the Council's opinion.

On September 14, 1868, 26 delegates met in Yale, B.C.  for a convention of  the Confederation League. This convention did a lot to stimulate the public's interest and support for the idea of British Columbia becoming part of the Confederation of Canada.

I will write more on Robert Beaven on Wednesday and I will consult the Directory of Canadian Biography Online like I did today.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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