Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sore Losers

Ever since its beginnings, British Columbia had been tormented by the bitter feud going on between the official clique and its supporters - more British than the British - and the growing Canadian element. For two decades, the battlegrounds were New Westminster and Victoria. After all, Burrard Inlet was too insignificant to be bothered with. And in its first election, Vancouver made its choice - the city is Canadian.

When R.H. Alexander taunted the newcomers as being "North American Chinese" then tried to oppose them at the polls with the real Chinese, it was the last showdown between the old vendetta and new wave. As we know, the old guard was defeated.

The old timers didn't accept the defeat gracefully. They started a petition to have the election voided and unseat newly elected mayor, MacLean. There were threats of violence, which didn't amount to anything.

The new city council held its first meeting on May 10, 1886. In addition to the mayor, there were 10 aldemen: Joseph Griffiths, Robert Balfour, Thomas Dunn, Charles A. Coldwell, E.P. Hamilton, Joesph Northcott, L.A. Hamilton, Peter Cordiner, Harry Hemlow and Joseph Humphries. The meeting was held at 2:30 pm in Jonathan Miller's house.

The city archivist recreated the scene:

"Mrs. Miller cleared the dining-room table. Some laid their hats upon it, others got more chairs out of the three or four jail cells (the jail was behind the house), an oil lamp swung above, the tiny room was crowded, the audience, such as could, peered through the open door.

"The poll clerk, the late Gardner Johnson, swore in the mayor-elect, and then the mayor swore in the ten alderman. A bystander... went round the corner and came back with a pad of paper, a pen and a bottle of ink and wrote "City of Vancouver" across the top of the first sheet."

The main business of the meeting was appointment of officials. J. Huntley was appointed city clerk pro-term at $75 a month; John Boultbee was appointed the police magistrate with no salary; J.P. Lawson assessment clerk and city engineer at $75 a month.

"As for city treasurer," said MacLean "I do not see any particular hurry for this appointment, having no cash to deposit in his hands."

The first communication dealt with was an offer from Silsby Manufacturing Co. of a second-hand fire engine on reasonable terms.

Thanks to Alan Morley and his book Vancouver From Milltown to Metropolis for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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