Friday, June 7, 2013
Governor James Douglas had "absolute powers" and Robson, along with his New Westminster friends, complained that Douglas - who was governor of Vancouver Island as well - governed the mainland with his cronies from the island. Robson opposed the tariff policy, which forced "the entire commerce" of British Columbia to pass through Victoria. He called for improved navigation on the lower Fraser River, construction of roads, removal of tonnage duties on goods taken upriver and designation of New Westminster as a terminus of ocean transportation.
Gradually Robson moved from attacking Begbie to demanding a general reform of the judicial system. He also participated in local politics in New Wesminster, being elected to municipal counsel in 1863. He served as president there from 1866 to 1867 but local politics was never his main preoccupation.
Initially, Robson's complaints concerning the colony's affairs were directed at Governor Douglas. Robson had hope for the future when Douglas was replaced in 1864 with Frederick Seymour. Seymour had instructions to create a legislative council and a third of those members were to be elected. Robson was generally pleased with Seymour's 'able and liberal' administration. When Seymour was leaving to go to England in 1865, John publicly told him "We have still virtually to submit to the humiliation of 'Taxation without Representation'."
Robson believed that the colony of Vancouver Island had "rotten institutions", "a bankrupt exchequer", a "self traducing policy" and "tricky and unscrupulous politicians". He felt that the union between the mainland and the Island would be a mistake and could not admit that it was financially sensible because the population and the revenues of both colonies were diminishing while the expenses of servicing debts and maintaining large civil services remained high. The combined debt of the two areas reached $1,389,830 by 1865 and the population, excluding First Nations, was approximately 10,700. In 1866, Robson grudging accepted the union designed by Seymour because by it Vancouver Island became an integral part of British Columbia.
And there is so much more to tell you on John Robson. Which I will do on Monday and probably beyond. Thank you Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online for the information.
Have a great weekend and I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, John Robson, history, Premier, Judge Begbie British Columbia,Governor Douglas,New Westminster,Frederick Seymour