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Black B.C. : How American Freemen Protected BC From the US

Emma Stark 1856-1890, First Black Teacher on Vancouver island, BC

You didn’t know...I didn’t know. Black people have history in BC. We are about to learn about this together.

Alright, so it looks like our establishment here began in the late Victorian era - roughly the 1840's.


Ok, so a bit of context. British Columbia was established by the British and largely promoted and thrived due to the Hudson’s Bay Company (google it) who used the river, lakes and mountains for resources and trade routes. Now bear with me, Canadian history is dry like unbuttered toast but there is often a pay off.

Okay, the Brits had a sort of trade agreement the US allowing the natural flow of trade goods without much consideration of a ‘border’, the American’s took advantage and created an Oregon Territory in effort to encroach on British land. So the Brits built a fort in the hopes of stopping the Americans. These Americans want some BC land. It doesn’t help that gold is discovered in the Fraser River and Charlotte Island. Things look bleak when a bunch of Californian miners join the fray.

The Brits need immigrants loyal to the Crown - or at least loyal to BC. Around this time Blacks in California are fed up with the situation there (anti-Black racism of the 19th century variety). As fortune would have it,a fellow by the name Jerimiah Nagle ran a steamboat travelling between San Francisco and Victoria. Well badda bing badda boom! The freemen and women of California just figured out a new place to live. Among some of the early settlers were Fortune Richard, Wellington Moses, Archy Lee and Mifflin Gibbs whose descendants are well known remain in BC today.

They, and others, established business and schools many becoming the first teacher, doctor, lawyer. But most importantly because of their move to BC and establishment they prevented the US from further encroaching on the British Colony! Thanks Black Californians for keeping the US’s big fat mitts off our Province! Yay BC.


For further dates and details: http://bcblackhistory.ca/index.php/learning-centre/stories/8-stories/42-why-blacks-came-to-british-columbia

We’ll delve a little more into BC later on, this shit is fascinating.

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