Wednesday, June 5, 2013

John Robson

John Robson, B.C.'s ninth premier, took over on August 2, 1889 - the day after Alexander Davie passed away. If you remember from Monday's entry, Robson had run the government while Davie was away attempting to recuperate from illness.

Here's a photo of John Robson that I got from Wikipedia.


Robson was born on March 14, 1824 in Perth, Upper Canada. He was the fifth of 16 children born to Scotland born John Robson and Euphemia Richardson. 

His formal education was received in common and grammar schools of Perth and after schooling, Robson began a career as a merchant in Perth. He moved later to Montreal then to Hamilton and to Brantford. In 1854, John and his brother, Robert, opened a large dry goods store in London. But business there was dull so the brothers moved to Bayfield.

On April 5, 1854, John married Susan Longworth in Goderich, Upper Canada. Five years later, the Robson brothers dissolved their partnership. By this time, John had two young children with Susan but he left them in Ontario to travel to B.C. (Susan and the children would join John in February of 1864.)


John Robson had a bad attack of gold fever. However, like many men who travelled to gold fields in North America, he didn't strike it rich. He spent two months panning unsuccessfully before going to work for his brother Ebenezer.

Ebenezer Robson was a Methodist clergyman who was building a church in New Westminster, then the capital of British Columbia. John earned his keep grading, grubbing, chopping wood, making shingles and cutting timber for the church. Up until the time that the church had a bell, John would call people to service by blowing on a large tin horn. This earned John the sobriquet 'Angel Gabriel'.

During this time, the colony's only newspaper was Leonard McClure's New Westminster Times. Robson bought the printing plant for the newspaper, bringing himself to the attention of a group of influential citizens.

These citizens disagreed with McClure's view on the political future of the colony. They established a new paper, the British Columbian, and made Robson editor. Robson's editorial for the first issue on February 13, 1861 set out his main objectives:
“Responsible Government, liberal institutions, the redress of all our grievances, and the moral and intellectual improvement of the people.”

After a year, the owners were so impressed with Robson's performance that they made him "sole and absolute proprietor as well as editor" of the paper.

On Friday, I will continue discussing John Robson and I will get the information from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online as I did today.

I hope you find the beauty around you.



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