Monday, May 27, 2013

William Smithe

Here is a photo of the man I am writing on today, William Smithe. I found this photo on Wikipedia.
William Smithe, B.C.'s seventh premier, was born on June 30, 1842 in Matfen, Northumberland, England. He came to British Columbia in 1862 and established residence in the Cowichan District on Vancouver Island.

Except for a few short exceptions - Smithe lived in San Francisco for a little while in 1866 and tried his hand at mining for several months in 1868 at Grouse Creek in the Cariboo - William lived on Vancouver Island.

1865 was the year that William Smithe began his political career when he was appointed road commissioner for Cowichan.
This tribute to a volunteer who was killed by a punch while trying to stop a fight was erected a few months ago. I walked by the post on Saturday and am happy to report that fresh flowers are still being placed there.

By 1871, Smithe had a growing reputation as a community leader in the growing farming district in Somenos, the most promising agricultural area on Vancouver Island. His reputation won him one of two seats for the first assembly following British Columbia's entry into the confederation. (What an exciting time that must have been. All these changes and the future must have looked so promising.)

During his first term, Smithe maintained his independent stance. He refused to support our first premier, John Foster McCreight, nor his successors even though Smithe was an admirer of Amor De Cosmos. 

In 1875, Smithe and his friend and neighbour, John Drinkwater, ran a campaign that capitalized on the failure of the Walkem government to begin construction on a road from Victoria to Cowichan even though appropriation had been made. The two men won the Cowichan seats.
William Smithe was tall - over six feet - and stood erect. He was a handsome man and one who possessed intelligence. Although Smithe was halting of speech, he was known to be an incisive and witty debater. In 1873, William further secured his attachment and prominence in the Cowichan district by marrying Martha Kier. Martha was the daughter of a well-known farmer and Methodist of Somenos, Archibald Renfrew Kier.

I have to thank the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online for the above information. I will write more on William Smithe on Wednesday.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Thanks Karen for another enlightening day of Canadian history. It is interesting how many of those leaders tried their luck in the USA. It also seems like a much easier time of life if you could be voted in over a road. Wow, how complicated life gets as time goes on.

    1. But think of how complicated it was to get a road built then and how important it was. Dense forests had to be cleared, usually by hand. We have to try to set our thoughts back to what society was like then. It isn't easy.

      Thank you for being such a faithful reader. And commenter.