Guyana Roots of first British Columbia governor celebrated

The fur trade, the gold rush, steel drums, and Caribbean food.

Those seemingly disparate ingredients will be merged for this year’s Douglas Day, which will have a special focus on the birthplace of the first governor of the colony of British Columbia, Matthew Claxton reports for Langley Advance.

James Douglas was born in what is now the independent nation of Guyana. Like much of Canada, it was then a British possession. Douglas’s father was a Scottish trader, his mother a local Creole woman.

Douglas would later make his mark as one of the top officials with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and then as a governor of both British Columbia and the separate colony of Vancouver Island.

It was on Nov. 19, 1858 that Douglas, standing in Fort Langley, read the proclamation that created British Columbia as a Crown colony. Just a few decades later it would join Canada as the westernmost province.

In honour of Douglas’s Guyanese roots, the Guyanese Canadian Cultural Association will be taking part in this year’s events on Nov. 19. at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

According to the Fort’s special events coordinator Gerry Borden, the original plan was to have a low-key ceremony this year, due to the municipal elections taking place on the same day.

But the Guyanese Canadian association was excited to take part and make it a big event.

“It’s turned into a big party,” said Borden.

The Fort even got a letter of thanks, through the association, from Guyanese Prime Minister Samuel A. Hinds.

This is not the first connection between the small South American nation and the Fort.

In 2005, local artist Lois Hannah created two matching bronze statues of Douglas, with one erected at the Fort and the other shipped to Guyana to his birthplace.

This year’s celebrations at the Fort will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will include food, a steel drum band, folk dancing, and a re-enactment of the original proclamation.

For the original report go to

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