Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From the Cannery to the Legislature

A photo of B.C.'s 18th Premier, Harlan Carey Brewster. I found this on Wikipedia and they got it from the B.C. archives.
On November 10, 1870, in Harvey, Albert County, N.B., Gilbert Brewster and Amelia Wells Brewster had a son they named Harlan Carey.

Harlan first learned the 'sailor's craft' in his father's shipyard. He went on to work as a printer's apprentice with the Harvey Weekly Observer in the 1880s. He also spent three years working at the Boston Herald. Unfortunately, eye trouble forced Brewster out of the printing business and he moved to Victoria, B.C.

In 1899, Brewster was purser on a coastal steamer. Later he managed Thomas Earle's trading posts and even, for a short time, a Skeena River salmon cannery. He moved to Clayoquot on Meares Island and became postmaster and keeper of the general store, which belonged to the Clayoquot Fishing and Trading Company Limited. In 1902, he joined with others to organize Clayoquot Sound Canning Company Limited. Brewster became the manager and part owner.
Harlan Brewster was well known and well respected on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In February 1907, he was elected as MLA for Alberni (Liberal) and in 1909 was the only "straight Liberal" to return. (I am going to assume by 'straight Liberal' they are referring to his politics.) While he was a new MLA, Brewster focused on constituency concerns but as "leader of the Liberal party of one" , he was active in most legislative debates. 

In March of 1912, Brewster was unanimously selected as Liberal party president and leader.  However, in the general election a few weeks later, Richard McBride's Conservative party overwhelmed the Liberals, including Brewster. A year later though a Liberal convention confirmed his leadership and Harlan Brewster went to the people of the province. In his tours, Brewster attacked the Conservatives' administration and called for reforms such as the nationalization of the railways, encouraged agriculture, promised a halt to Japanese immigration, an end to the squandering of provincial resources and a land policy that favoured settlers rather than speculators.
A by-election, caused by McBride's resignation,  was held on March 4, 1916 and Brewster campaigned successfully. He promised more reforms. He had his ear to what the people wanted like improved worker's compensation and labour laws, women's suffrage, and direct legislation. Brewster also promised to abandon machine politics and civil service patronage.

In the assembly, Brewster was on fire. He attacked the Conservatives for such things as unauthorized payments to the contractors of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway and for keeping the legislature in session after its term had expired. He did embarrass himself though. He sought a judicial inquiry into the legality of acts passed after March 14, 1916. He cast doubt on the legality of a legislature that he continued to sit in and on the validity of laws, which as it later turned out, he would have to administer. Oh well, we all make mistakes. Perhaps his zeal to prove the competition wrong just got the best of him.

Thanks goes to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website for the information on Harlan Carey Brewster.

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 I hope you find the beauty around you.

These next four photos were sent to me by my mother. Enjoy.

Ever wondered what the Wright Brother's Glider in flight looked like? Now you know! This was taken in 1911.
Picture taken in 1927

Survivors of the Titanic on their way to the rescue ship, the Carpathia in 1912.
A horse team on the Overland Trail. 

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  1. Well if your going to make a mistake it might as well be out there for everyone to see and might as well be note worthy. That seems to be the best kind and the kindest.

    1. It's almost as if he didn't think that one through. But he survived! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Interesting post. I stumbled across this while looking for more information about the Clayoquot Sound Cannery. My great-grandfather's brother, J.L. Beckwith, co-owned the cannery with H. Brewster and continued involvement with the cannery until his death in 1934. He was mayor of Victoria in 1913 and I believe the two men did business together for much of their lives.

    1. How interesting Ian! Thank you for reading and commenting.