Political Factions in Early Vancouver: Politics, Race, Labour, Elections, Mayor Campaigns

Political Factions in Early Vancouver: Politics, Race, Labour, Elections, Mayor Campaigns


Political Factions in British Columbia emerged around James Douglas and Amor De Cosmos. Douglas was part black, married to an Aboriginal woman and had governed British Columbia through the Hudson Bay Company State. Amor De Cosmos arrived from California during the gold rush and started a newspaper. The Douglas Conservatives were multicultural, Aboriginal and connected to the previous Hudson Bay Company Government. The De Cosmos Reformers were supported by white labour unions, religious and prohibition settler groups. The new Vancouver began as multicultural as the old. Richard Alexander was an admirer of James Douglas. He managed the diverse workforce of the largest employer, the Hastings Mill, where the working language was the Aboriginal Chinook Wawa. Alexander had worked in Victoria with the Hudson Bay Company and Jewish merchants like the Oppenheimer Brothers. He organized the petition to incorporate Vancouver. David Oppenheimer managed Alexander’s bid to become Vancouver’s first mayor. A.W Ross was a real estate speculator from Winnipeg who had narrowly escaped prosecution for defrauding Native people of their land. He convinced his newly arrived relative and employee Malcolm MacLean to run for mayor against Alexander. Railway workers arrived looking for work and Alexander hired them at the mill, they immediately went on strike, the first in Vancouver’s history. The US based Knights of Labor were linked to De Cosmos. They supported Malcolm MacLean and fraudulently signed up voters. They physically assaulted 60 Chinese people preventing them from voting. Under the slogan Winnipeggers do your duty Maclean’s coalition of Labor, real estate speculators and Americans won by just 17 votes. The new council argued about who would be on the city payroll and delayed purchasing fire equipment. David Oppenheimer sued to overturn the election results, but just before the hearing the entire city burned to the ground. Mayor Maclean initiated Vancouver’s first community outreach inviting the Knights of Labor to host anti-Chinese meetings at the new city hall. In Vancouver’s first direct democracy experience a unanimous vote to expel Chinese from the city sparked the first race riot. The BC Legislature now dominated by the Douglas Faction stripped Mayor MacLean of his judicial powers and sent special constables to defend the Chinese. The values of old Columbia and old Vancouver gave way as Cheechakos from the US and East, who Douglas called the California Canadian Clique, flooded into the new city.

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3 thoughts on “Political Factions in Early Vancouver: Politics, Race, Labour, Elections, Mayor Campaigns”

  • HELP I HAVE NO SKIN says:

    Got to love the selective dishonest history of liberals trying to paint Canada as always being multicultural. The fact is Canada was 97% white until 1971 and immigration into Canada was designed to keep the population homogeneous and thus restrictions were put in place to ensure the bulk of immigrants were compatible. Then Pierre Trudeau in 1971 bowing to corporate interests and greed made multiculturalism state policy without a vote, referendum or permission from Canadian people. Globalists have been trying to shove it down our throat ever since. Do not buy it.

  • Actually if you see some of my earlier videos, British Columbia was originally very multicultural. The Hudson Bay Company was the legal government and most of its people married aboriginal women. The working language was French while the language for trading and family life was Chinook Wawa, a hybrid native/non native. The original Vancouver(now WA) had 35 ethnic groups. James Douglas, our first Governor, was part black, born in South America and he invited hundreds of black people from the US here to escape racism. Their descendants still live in Victoria, Saltspring Island etc. Check out Deas Island and Joe Fortes. Vancouver already had many Kanakas/Hawaiians and Chinese before it incorporated.
    It wasn't until we got full democracy in 1871 that we got institutional racism; Chinese and natives lost the vote. After decades of rule by the 'California/Canadian Clique' many non-whites left. But 'multiculturalism' was what came before.

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