Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


The Diefenbunker!

Beth at the Diefenbunker

The last time I was in Ottawa, Sarah and Dave’s attempt to bring me to the Diefenbunker was thwarted by holiday closure of said bunker. On this trip, to make it up to me, Ottawa gave Sarah & me free admission! More specifically, the Ottawa Public Library offered free admission and Sarah, a regular at said Library, picked up said free passes so that she and I could enjoy all the awesomeness of Canada’s Cold War Museum for free, free, free! Poor Dave couldn’t join us as he had to work, like a sucker!

Sarah at the DiefenbunkerThe Diefenbunker, which operated from 1959 to 1994 as previously alluded to, is Canada’s Cold War Museum. More specifically, it is a bunker that was built, under the government of Prime Minister Diefenbaker – who you may remember from my Prime Ministerial series as the blog posting guest written by the aforementioned Sarah – as a place that prominent Canada politicians – along with all the gold in the Bank of Canada – could go in the event that Ottawa got nuked with an atomic bomb. Back in those days, everyone was sure that it was pretty much inevitable that such a thing would happen, so a series of bunkers were built across the country, with the biggest and most elaborate one being the Diefenbunker, locate 30 km west of Ottawa and intended for the Prime Minister, the Governor General, various federal Ministers and military big wigs. The idea was that they wanted to ensure that Canada could be re-built and governed after a nuclear attack and so they needed the people with the power to do that to be kept safe in this bunker. Plus they needed the money to do it – hence the giant vault built to house all the gold from the Bank of Canada1.

Of course, such a bunker system was only useful in the event that there was enough forewarning of a nuke on its way that all these important people could be brought to the bunker before the bomb hit. Which was true when they started building the bunker – the delivery of bombs via plane from Russia at that time would have been slow and there would have been several hours warning of such a bomb on its way. By the time it was finished, that wasn’t really true anymore, but that didn’t stop the bunker from being staffed for many years after it was built! In fact, it was operated until 1994.

After decommissioning, the bunker was turned into a museum and much to the surprise of even the people running it as a museum, people were clamouring to see it! I mean, how often do you get to see the inside of a previously secret government facility like that? If you ever find yourself in Ottawa, I highly recommend you check it out. It feels like walking onto the set of a movie about the Cold War2 and I had to keep reminding myself, “no, this is the real deal!”

Also, in a move that I can only imagine coming from a guy like him, Dief never once set foot in the Diefenbunker. At some point, he was told that should he need to go to the bunker, he would not be allowed to bring his wife with him. The bunker was built to accommodate the government officials and bureaucrats deemed necessary, along with the support staff needed to run the bunker3, plus two CBC radio personalities who could broadcast messages in familiar and comforting voices to those left up on the ground – around 500 people in total – and stocked with enough food to sustain those people for 30 days (at which point it was felt that it would be safe to go back outside). If all those people were allowed to bring spouses (and not even their kids), it would need to be twice as big and stocked with twice as many supplies – and that just wasn’t feasible. And it was decided that if everyone else in the bunker was leaving their spouse behind, how could the Prime Minister not do the same? Dief decided that he wouldn’t leave his wife behind to get nuked and so he boycotted the facility, refusing to ever step foot into it.

Another interesting story that the tour guide told us was what happened to all the other bunkers around the country. When the bunkers were decommissioned, the government had to figure out what to do with them. After all, they couldn’t all be museums – and truly it’s just the Ottawa one that was really big and decked out – so what do you do with a series of underground bunkers designed to withstand a nuclear bomb? At first, they figured they could sell them to recoup some of the costs of building them all, and they sold one of the bunkers to a farmer. A farmer who proceeded to sell the bunker to some Hell’s Angels, who used it as a clubhouse! Realizing that they didn’t want the bunkers to fall into the hands of just anybody and that they could control what happened to them once they sold them off, they bought the bunker back from the HA and proceeded to fill them all up with concrete!

The next time you find yourself in Ottawa, I highly recommend a trip to the Diefenbunker!  They have guided tours as well as self-guide audio tours – we did the guided tour, which was cool because you can ask their tour guide questions and find out things that might not be on the audio version, and then after your guided tour you are free to roam around and check out the different exhibits!

  1. When we were talking about our trip to the Diefenbunker later at Sarah’s parents house, Sarah’s dad said his favourite part of this is that if the bunker ever needed to be used, it would take hundreds of people to get all the gold from the Bank of Canada in Ottawa onto a train, ship it to the bunker, and then load it all into the vault in the bunker. And then those men would be sent back on that train to Ottawa to wait to get nuked! []
  2. and, in fact, it as used as a set for The Sum of All Fears, because where else are you going to find a nuclear bunker that you can film your movie in? []
  3. think cooks, doctors, nurses, mechanics, etc. []


BC Premier #28: Rita Johnston

The 28th Premier of the Province of British Columbia and the first female one ever!

insert pic Name Rita Margaret Johnston
Born: April 22, 1935 in Melville, Saskatchewan
Died: hasn’t
Party: Social Credit
Held Office: April 2, 1991 – November 5, 1991
  • the first – and so far, only – female premier of BC
  • before getting into politics – and I’m not making this up – she ran a Surrey trailer park.  Actually, according to Wikipedia she ran a “successful trailer park.”  I’m curious as to what criteria are used to judge whether or not a trailer park is “successful”
  • 1969: elected to Surrey city council where she served under then-mayor (and future premier) Bill Vander Zalm
  • 1975: lost election for Surrey mayorship by fewer than 100 votes
  • 1983: elected as the MLA for Surrey
  • 1986: served in cabinet, yet again under the Zalm, in the following positions:
    • 1986: Minister of Municipal Affairs
    • 1986-88: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Transit
    • 1987-88: Minister of State for the Kootenay Region
    • 1988-89: Minister of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture
    • 1989-91: Minister of Transportation and Highways
  • 1990: appointed deputy premier by the Vander Slam
  • April 2, 1991: upon Billy VZ‘s resignation, she was named acting leader of the SoCreds – and thus acting premier of BC, making her not only the first female premier in BC history, but the first *Canadian* premier.  In 1991.  Seriously.
  • July 1991: elected leader of SoCred at the party convention, beating Grace McCarthy, who was expected to win
  • Oct 1991: the SoCreds lost the election to the NDP and Johnston lost her own seat; this loss was attributed to Vander Zalm‘s scandals and the split within the party due to the leadership race (with insufficient time to repair this between the party convention in July and the provincial election in October)
  • Jan 1992: she resigned as party leader on my birthday in 1992, retired from politics, keeps a low profile

In summary, I can’t believe there had never been a female premier in Canada before 1991!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions
Library and Archives Canada.


BC Premier #26: Bill Bennett

Name William (a.k.a. Bill) Richards Bennett
Born: August 18, 1932 – or possible 14th, depending on if you believe Wikipedia or the CBC Digital Archives –  in Kelowna, BC
Died: hasn’t
Party: Social Credit Party
Held Office: December 22, 1975 – August 6, 1986
  • Bill is the son of Wacky.  So it’s sort of the like the George Bush Sr. and Jr. thing except, as far as I know, the Bennett’s never invaded any other countries. As far as I know.
  • was a businessman and real estate investor
  • Sept 1973: elected as the MLA for the South Okanagan riding
  • Nov 1973: elected as leader of the SoCreds
  • 1975: became premier when the SoCreds knocked the NDP out of power (Bennett had refused to engage in a TV debate with Barrett during this election); re-elected in 1979 and 1983.
  • he “slashed social services  and gutted labour laws”, and ran TV ads that called people who disagreed with him “Bad British Columbians.” (Wikipedia)
  • he spent a shit-ton of money, however, building the Coquihalla highway and bringing Expo ’86 to Vancouver
  • 1996: convicted of insider trader.
  • 2007: received the Order of BC.

In summary, being convicted of insider trading does not preclude one from being awarded the Order of BC.  You know, in case you were planning on doing both of those things.

Image credits: There don’t appear to be any freely available photos of BB anywhere on the world wide interwebs! b00-urns!



BC Premier #22 – John Hart

So, yeah, remember like a million years ago when I was writing a series of postings on BC Premiers – one posting every Sunday – as an excuse to learn a bit about BC history?  And then I kind of just didn’t do it for the last eight months?  Well, I’ve decided to start doing it again.  And I’m really going to stick to it this time! No, really.  Anyway, here goes!

The 22nd Premier of the Province of British Columbia – John Hart.  Not to be mistaken for John Hart, John Hart, Johnny Hart, John Hart, or any of the other fourteen John Harts that are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages written about them.

Name John Hart
Born: March 31, 1879 in Mohill, County Leitrim, Ireland
Died: April 7, 1957 in Victoria, British Columbia
Party: Liberal
Held Office: December 9, 1941 – December 29, 1947
  • 1916 – elected as MLA for Victoria City
  • 1917-1924 and  1933-1947 – served as Minister of Finance
  • 1941 – the Liberals failed to win a majority government and then leader Thomas Dufferin Patullo refused to for a coaltion government, so he was ousted and Hart, who was willing to form a coaltion, became the premier.  He lead the government through the WWII years and couldn’t really do much in terms of government projects, which were postponed because of the lack of money due to the war
  • 1945 –  re-elected as the leader of the Liberal-Conservative parties, which ran under the same banner for the first time.  Making up for those postponed government, Hart embarked on ambituous projects, like “rural electrification, hydroelectric and highway construction.”
  • He established the BC Power Commission, the predecessor to the current BC Hydro
  • Dec 1947 – retired from politics and returned to the business world from whence he came
  • Things named after Hart:
    • the John Hart Highway between Prince George and Dawson Creek
    • the Hart Highlands neighbourhood of Prince George, BC
    • the John Hart Dam in Campbell River, BC

In summary, John Hart was one of the few BC premiers who didn’t leave office in either defeat or disgrace. Which probably explains why the only information I can find about him online is a Wikipedia page with no references.

Image credits: From Wikipedia. In the public domizzle. w00t!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions


BC Premier #20 – Simon Fraser Tolmie

The 20th Premier of the Province of British Columbia was Simon Fraser Tolmie. I have no idea if he was related to the explorer Simon Fraser after whom the University, the river and a billion other things in BC were named. He doesn’t appear to have been a direct descendant, as Simon Fraser the Explorer immigrated to Canada from Scotland, settling in Quebec, in the 1780s, while Simon Fraser Tolmie’s father was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada, arriving at Fort Vancouver, in 1833.  I’m sure there’s a very good chance they are related, but (a) there seemed to have been tonnes of people named “Simon Fraser,” including the lion’s share of the line of “Lord Lovats.” At this point in my research1 my head hurts, so we’ll just leave this issue as “currently unresolved)).  And now, onto the useless fact-listing!

File:Simon Fraser Tolmie.png Name Simon Fraser Tolmie
Born: January 25, 1867 in Victoria, BC
Died: October 13, 1937 in Victoria, BC
Party: Conservative
Held Office: August 21, 1928 – November 15, 1933
  • he had a “pioneer lineage” on both sides of his family:
    • his father: “Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, a prominent figure in the Hudson’s Bay Company and a member of both the colonial assembly of Colony of Vancouver Island and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia”2
    • his mother: Jane Work, “daughter of John Work, a prominent Victoria resident, Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor, and member of the former colony’s assembly”3
  • 1891: graduated from vet school at the Ontario Veterinary College4
  • 1917: entered federal politics as an MP for Victoria City in the Unionist Party; served in this role until 1928, although under the Conservative banner after his first Parliament
  • 1919-1921 and 1926: federal Minister of Agriculture
  • 1926: elected leader of BC Conservative Party (although stayed as a federal MP until the next provincial election in 1928)
  • 1928: elected as a provincial MLA in Saanich and, as his party won the most seats (32 of 48), he became the Premier and Minister of Railways
  • his party had a “commitment to applying “business principles to the business of government””5, which really didn’t work so well when the Great Depression hit
  • the whole Conservative Party fell into chaos after this, with a Royal Commission that Tolmie established (at the request of the business community) suggesting drastic cuts to social programs to fix the dire finances of the province – and people freaking out over this suggestion. The party was in such disarray, in fact, that they didn’t run *any* candidate in the 1933 election
  • 1933: some former Tories ran as independents or “independent Conservatives” or Unionists (if they supported Tolmie) or “Non-Partisans” (if they supported former Premier Bowser); not surprisingly, with all the vote splitting, the Liberals won a majority government and the NDP-forerunner party, the Coopeartive Commonwealth Federation, became the Official Opposition.  Tolmie lost his seat.
  • holds the dubious distinction of being the last Premier of BC for the Conservative Party6
  • 1936: won a federal by-election in his old riding of Victoria
  • 1937: died

In summary, he killed the BC Conservative Party7.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions

  1. i.e., goofing around on Wikipedia []
  2. Wikipedia []
  3. Wikipedia []
  4. which is now at the U of Guelph (go Guelph!), but at the time was at U of T []
  5. Wikipedia []
  6. there have certainly been other conservative premiers, including the current one, but they’ve used other names, like SoCreds and the current BC so-called “Liberal” party, but none using the Conservative Party name []
  7. in name anyway. Their pro-business agenda lives on in Gordon Campbell and his ilk []


BC Premier #19 – John Duncan MacLean

Today’s entry in my BC Premier Series is going to be short, as apparently John Duncan MacLean was the least memorable person in history. There’s a teeny tiny entry on him in Wikipedia and there isn’t even an entry on him in the Canadian Biography Online and you know as well as I do that I’m way too lazy to go beyond those two sites to find out more1.

File:Happy face ball.jpg
A visual approximation of John Duncan MacLean2
Name John Duncan MacLean
Born: December 8, 1873 in Culloden, Prince Edward Island
Died: March 28, 1948 in Ottawa, Ontario
Party: Liberal
Held Office: August 17, 1927 to August 21, 1928
  • practised medicine (presumably he went to medical school for this, but I have no idea when or where. According to Wikipedia, John Duncan MacLean and his medical practice sprung fully formed from the sea in 1916. The Mason’s website indicates he traveled west in 1892 and was a school principal before he became a doctor)
  • 1916: was elected to provincial legislature
  • Minister of Education and Provincial Secretary under both Brewster & Oliver
  • 1924: Minister of Finance under Oliver
  • 1927: was designated Premier when Oliver died. The Liberal Party wasn’t doing so hot then and MacLean didn’t, or couldn’t, do anything to fix the situation.
  • 1928: defeated in the election; the Conservatives took over as government
  • 1928: ran in a federal by-election as a Liberal candidate; lost by fewer than 100 votes
  • became the Chairman of the Canadian Farm Loan Board.
  • 1946: received the title “Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.)
  • 1948: died in Ottawa

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. GNU Free Documentation License.

Wikipedia, the reference of champions
Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon

  1. OK, I did go to the Mason’s website. But beyond that – I’m just too lazy []
  2. I couldn’t find any freely avaiable pics []


BC Premier #18 – The Premier Who Is Not On the Daily Show With John Stewart

Name John Oliver
Born: July 31, 1856 in Hartington, England
Died: August 17, 1927 in Victoria, BC
Party: Liberal
Held Office: March 6, 1918 to August 17, 1927
  • from a farming family that immigrated to Maryborough Township, Ontario, Canada in 1870
  • his mother died from rheumatic fever in 1875
  • moved west at age 20 and found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway, where he worked for a summer to save enough money to buy a farm in Surrey, BC
  • while building his farm, he also became involved in community affairs (e.g., establishing a rural school, becoming municipal clerk and tax collector), then sold his land and bought a farm in Delta, where he also became involved in community affairs (e.g., as a school trustee and later as a reeve on municipal council)
  • ran for the seat in Westminster-Delta in the June 1900 provincial election – was one of only 6 people from the Joseph Martin faction to be elected
  • the snooty politicians liked to make fun of his “unsophisticated clothes, heavy boots, and often crude use of the English language”1 – but he was determined to show them that a regular person could be part of the political process, so he studied parliamentary procedures
  • when the party system came to provincial politics, Oliver ran as a Liberal – he was “an anti-establishment figure, yet his own brand of liberalism was shaped by his rural conservative roots”2
  • 3 Oct 1903 – re-elected in Delta, served in the Liberal opposition
  • 2 Feb 1907 – re-elected again in Delta, again as part of the Liberal opposition
  • he reluctantly became the Liberal leader in autumn 1909 when the then-leader, James Alexander MacDonald3 was appointed to the bench, leaving Oliver with not much time to prepare for the upcoming election against a popular Conservative party
  • 25 Nov 1909 – lost his seat in Delta, as well as the seat in Victoria for which he also ran
  • he went back to the farm, but couldn’t stay out of politics for long – he was soon elected to school board, then served as a reeve again, followed by running in – and losing – in the 1911 federal election and the 1912 provincial election
  • 14 Sept. 1916 – the Conservative party, suffering from a worldview recession at the start of WWII as well as charges of corruption,  lost the government to the Liberal party, with Oliver winning the seat in Dewdney and being appointed to cabinet in two positions: agriculture and railways4
  • wrote the “Land Settlement [and Development] Act,” which provided soldiers returning from war the opportunity to own their own rural farms, when he was inspired in the middle of the night – it was dubbed the “nightshirt act” because he wrote it in his nightshirt
  • 6 March 1918 – was elected Liberal Party leader and became Premier after Premier Brewster died on 1 March 1918
  • his government introduced “social legislation that limited work to an eight-hour day in certain industries, improved working conditions, […] minimum wage for women, mothers’ pensions […], maintenance for deserted wives, and improve[ments in] both health and educational services […] All of these initiatives were based on the belief that direct government intervention was the best way to deal with the problems that beset the province.”5
  • some turmoil arose during this time, including farmers forming their own party (the aptly named “United Farmers of BC”), workers striking in sympathy with the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 and complaints that he should have immediately called an election upon becoming Premier to let the voters decide if they really wanted him as their leader.  He eventually called for an election on Dec 1, 1920 and this would be the first election in which women could vote.  “Women would be casting ballots for the first time in British Columbia and Oliver had been advised that an earlier date in the autumn would be inconvenient for them because it coincided with church fairs and the making of preserves.”6.  The Conservatives came out for a big fight and Oliver and his Liberals barely held onto power.  Oliver would find opposition from both the young people within his own party and the business-y types who supported the Conservatives
  • 20 Oct 1920:  referendum on Prohibition was defeated, with a preference for the government-controlled sale of alcohol; the government stores that were allowed to sell booze became known as “John Oliver’s drug stores”
  • 20 June 1924 – leaders of all the provincial parties, including Oliver, lost their seats in the provincial election; the Liberals held on to the government with a very slim minority government and Oliver won a seat Nelson in a by-election on Aug 23 , 1924; the economy got better, however, and Oliver and his Liberals held on for a while
  • passed Old-Age Pension, which he considered one of the most important things he did, on March 7, 1927
  • July 1927: tearfully resigned, having found out that he had incurable cancer; his colleagues refused to accept his resignation, and so he stayed on as Premier until his death, with “J. D. MacLean, his long-time lieutenant, […] named premier designate”7
  • Stuff that’s named after him:
    • John Oliver Secondary School (Vancouver)
    • Mount John Oliver8 in the Cariboo Mountains
    • Oliver, BC (a town in the Okanagan)

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

  1. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography online []
  2. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography online []
  3. not to be confused with John Alexander MacDonald []
  4. agricultural, presumably, due to his farming background and railways because he’d been a big opponent of the Conservative government’s railway policy []
  5. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography online []
  6. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography online []
  7. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography online []
  8. which kind of sounds like an instruction: Hey, you, mount John Oliver already []


BC Premier #16 – William John Bowser

There is very, very little information available online about the 16th Premier of the Province of British Columbia – William John Bowser!  And I’m too lazy to go to the library and read actual books, so today’s entry is a short one!

Name William John Bowser
Born: December 3, 1867 in Rexton, New Brunswick
Died: October 25, 1933 in Vancouver, BC
Party: Conservative
Held Office: December 15, 1915 to November 23, 1916
  • 1890: called to the bar after studying law at Dalhousie
  • 1901: moved to Vancouver to practice law
  • 1903: first elected to the provincial legislature as a Conservative
  • 1904-1905: Grand Master of the provincial Masons
  • 1907-1915: served as Attorney General in the McBride administration
  • 1916: lost the election to Harlan Carey Brewster’s Liberal party.  Bowser inherited a very unpopular Conservative party from McBride, suffering from accusations of corruption and their ignored the public’s demands for women’s suffrage and prohibition didn’t help either.
  • 1916-1924: served as the leader of the opposition
  • 1924: lost his seat in the legislature
  • 1933: his attempt to return to the provincial legislature leading a non-partisan group was hampered by his dying during the election campaign

In summary, no one appears to care much about this guy.  The end.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!


  • Wikipedia, the reference of that only had a stub entry about Bowser.  So, I added some stuff – specifically, I added the box on the right hand side that has a summary of birth date, death date, etc. Because I’m awesome like that.  Although I had trouble with adding the photo, so if anyone out there is a Wikipedia editing superstar, let me know if you can figure out how to fix it!
  • Canadian Encyclopedia
  • Masons – Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon

Note: there were a few other websites that showed up in my Google search for W.J.B., but all of them were just plagairized from Wikipedia.


BC Premier #15 – The Premier Who Liked To Party Party

Sir Richard McBride, the 15th Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

File:Richard McBride.jpg Name Sir Richard McBride, KCMG
Born: December 15, 1870 in New Westminster, BC
Died: August 6, 1917) in London, UK
Party: BC Conservative
Held Office: June 1, 1903 – December 15, 1915
  • considered the founder of the (now pretty much defunct1) BC Conservative Party
  • September 1887: went to Dalhousie Law School. While there, he did really well in the mock Parliament and, in a bit of foreshadowing that my grade 9 English teacher would have loved, he was the mock Parliament Premier in his third year
  • 1896: ran in the federal election for the oddly named Liberal-Conservative party (no idea who their opponents were), but lost
  • 1898: elected to the provincial legislature in the Westminster-Dewdney riding; given the nickname “Dewdney Dick”
  • 1900: appointed to Dunsmuir’s cabinet as the Minister of Mines, having done a bunch of legal work sorting out mining claims in the mining boom in the northwest part of the province during recess between legislative sittings;
  • fall 1900: elected president of the BC consverative organization (not Party, ‘cuz they didn’t quite have provincial parties yet)
  • September 1901: he resigned from Dunsmuir’s cabinet when Dunsmuir appointed a Joseph Martin ally to his cabinet, as Dunsmuir had said he was going to work against Martin
  • Feb 1902: chosen to be the leader of the Opposition
  • Sept 1902: not re-elected as the president of the provincial Conservative organization, but since the guy who was elected didn’t have a seat in Legislature, he remained the leader of the Opposition.  This led to…
  • June 1, 1903: appointed Premier by the Lieutanent Governor. He felt that the no-party system was lame, so he declared his administration to be a Conservative Party one (which seems slightly odd, given that he was specifically not elected as the leader of the Conservatives, but so it was) and that he’d fight the fall election as the Conservative Party
  • October 3, 1903: won the first partied2 Government with a two seat majority (22 of 42 seats).  This party tried “to stablize the economy by cutting spending and raising new taxes”5 and implemented “progressive reforms of the province’s labour law”5– you know how Conservatives love labour and higher taxes3.  Also, like many politicians of the time I’m discovering as I write this series of blog postings, he was a big fat racist who called for “a halt to Asian immigration”6

    “He shared the widespread belief in “a white B.C.,” called for “Mongolian exclusion,” and sought to shut out the “Asiatic hordes.” His particular concern was “cheap” Japanese labour competing in the fisheries and in “everything the white man has been used to call his own.” He endorsed anti-Asian measures in order to bring the “Asian problem” to the attention of eastern Canadians, and he employed the federal government’s repeated disallowance of the province’s legislation on the matter, notably the so-called Natal Acts which imposed a language test on prospective immigrants, in his “Fight Ottawa” crusade. After the Conservatives formed the federal government in 1911, he urged Borden to honour a promise to legislate against immigration from Asia. By then McBride also perceived a Japanese military threat.”6

    On the other major racial issue that seems to come up in this period of BC history:

    “McBride’s approach to Indian peoples, whom he had known from his boyhood and legal practice and with whom he could converse in Chinook Jargon, was paternalistic. As a young lawyer he got a charge of murder reduced to manslaughter because his drunken client “was an Indian.” He believed the Indians had “been treated fairly and equitably,” and thought they “should play a very important part in the material advancement and welfare of the community.””6

  • 1907: won another election, this time with 26 of the 42 seats
  • 1908: decided that the province should have its own provincial university (UBC, which opened in 1915), because Conservatives love higher education3, and promised more railway lines
  • 1909 & 1912: kicked serious ass in these elections, which 38 of 42 seats and 40 of 42 seats, respectively.
  • was BFFs with Robert Borden’s federal Tories
  • during WWI: in response to rumours of German ships in the North Pacific, he bought two submarines from Seattle and then sold them to the federal government at the same price for which he bought them. He was accused of making some coin on the transaction, but a Royal Commission “determined that the whole transaction was “of blameless character””6
  • in addition to his racism, he was also sexist and “never believed”6 in women’s suffrage
  • 1915: called an election for April 10, then three days later postponed it indefinitely under the dubious explanation of “unexpected difficulty in revising the voters’ lists and getting ballot boxes to remote areas””6
  • 1915: UBC opened
  • as seems to be the downfall of many early BC politicians, the railway did McBride in. An economic downturn along with “mounting railway debts”5 caused the people to like his government a lot less, so he resigned as Premier on December 15, 1915 and became BC’s rep in London, UK.
  • 1917: having suffered from nephritis and diabetes for several years, McBride went blind (presumably from the diabetes, not the nephritis)
  • 1917: died in London, less than three months after resigning. His body was returned to Victoria, BC for burial.
  • things that are named after him: the town of McBride, BC; the McBride River in Northern BC; Sir Richard McBride Elementary School in Vancouver4.

In summary, a racist and a sexist (though both of those seemed to be quite common at the time), McBride did very well in politics when times were good, but didn’t seem to have the skills to pay the bills when times went bad.  Also, I suppose I have him to thank for the creation of one of my alma maters, UBC.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

1It’s not totally defunct, as you do see candidate running on the Conservative banner in elections, but I don’t I’ve seen a Conservative party candidate win an election in the entire time I’ve lived in BC. And really the conservatives MLAs are all hiding over in the BC so-called-Liberal Party.
2Is *too* a word.
3I wish there were an “I’m joking” font…
4This is where I’ve heard of him. I used to run a science outreach program that put volunteers into elementary schools to teach science to the kids, so I know the names of most of the schools in Vancouver.

5Wikipedia, the reference of that also likes to party party.
6Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online


BC Premier #14 – Mr. Conflict-of-Interest McElection-Rules-Violations

The 14th Premier of the Province of British Columbia, Mr. Conflict-of-Interest McElection-Rules-Violations.

File:Edward Gawler Prior.jpg Name Edward Gawler Prior
Born: Dallowgill, England on May 21, 1853
Died: December 12, 1920 in Victoria, BC
Party: none
Held Office: November 21, 1902 to June 1, 1903
  • came to BC after practising as a mining engineer until 1873
  • 1886: won a seat in the BC provincial legislature
  • 1888-1896: won a seat in the Canadian House of Commons (MP for Victoria)
  • December 1895 – July 1896 and 1897: Controller of Inland Revenue (federal)
  • 1901: lost his federal seat for “violations of election rules”3
  • 1901: apparently his election rule violating at the federal level didn’t prevent his from being elected at the provincial level and he rejoined provincial legislature
  • 1902: became the Premier – the last one to lead a government in the non-party system
  • 1903: kicked out of the Premiership by the Lieutenant Governor because he gave his own hardware company a really important contract (hello conflict of interest1)
  • 1904: lost his seat in the provincial election; also lost an attempt to return to the Canadian House of Commons – apparently the voters finally realized that this guy was a wee bit on the immoral side
  • however, it appears that people have a short memory, as despite the fact that he was fired from being the Premier by the Lieutenant Governor, in 1919 he was appointed as… the Lieutenant Governor.  Then he died.
  • he was a Mason
  • he holds the dubious distinctions of being the last Premier to be dismissed by a Lieutenant Governor and the only BC Lieutenant Governor to die in office

In summary, despite being kicked out of positions at both the provincial and federal levels for his shady behaviour, he somehow became the Lieutant Governor. Awesome.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

1Unless you read the Masons’ website, in which he was dismissed for “non-confidence.”

2Library of Parliament
3Wikipedia, the reference of that has very little to say about Prior
4Lieutant Governor of BC website
5viHistory (University of Victoria)