Excerpt: Biographical dictionary of well-known British Columbians : with a historical sketch
This section is from the year 1890, authored by J.B. Kerr and published by Kerr and Begg. It is no longer held under copyright.
Robson, Hon. John, HI. P. P., (Victoria), Premier of the Province of British Columbia, Provincial Secretary, Minister of
Mines and Minister of Education, was born on the 14th of March,
1824, at Perth, Ontario, of Scotch parents, who emigrated to Canada in the early part of the present century. He was educated
at his native place and in April, 1854, married Susan, daughter of the late Captain Longworth, of Goderich,. He was engaged in
commercial pursuits till 1859, when, in consequence of the discovery of large deposits of gold on the Fraser river, he came to British
After visiting the mining bars along the river he
settled at New Westminster, and early in 1861 established in that
city the British Columbian, the pioneer newspaper on the Mainland.
This journal, which was the leading newspaper of the colony,
Mr. Robson edited, and through its columns he foughc the battle
tor constitutional government, for which he was hounded, waylaid, and
unmercifully beaten and finally imprisoned by the minions of the
administration. Persecution, however, failed to break his spirit or
change his tone.
He sat in the Council of New Westminster during 1864-5, and during the last year occupied the position of presi-
dent of that body. In 1867 he was elected to represent the district
of New Westminster in the Legislative Council of British Columbia,
the Mainland and Vancouver's Island having by that time become
one colony. He continued to represent this constituency during
four sessions till 1870, in the last of which the terms of confederation with the Dominion of Canada were formulated and adopted by
the Legislature. Mr. Robson was one of the most active workers
for confederation, both withm and without the walls of Parliament, and recorded his protest when the executive council
attempted to burk the scheme of union. He was a member of the
Yale convention and one of the committee appointed to carry into
efiect the resolutions adopted at that convention.
He removed to Victoria in 1869 and was editor of the Colonist for nearly six years.
He was elected to represent Nanaimo in the Provincial Legislature
in 1871, and sat for that constituency till the spring of 1875, when
he accepted the federal appointment of paymaster and commissary
of the Canadian Pacific Railway surveys west of the Rocky Mountains, which position he continued to hold until it was abolished in
Mr. Robson returned to New Westminster in 1879 and resumed publication of the British Columbian, and at the general
election of 1882 was elected to represent the district of New Westminster in the Provincial Legislature. Upon the defeat of the
Beaven administration, on the 26th of January, 1883, and the
formation of the Smibhe administration, he was appointed Provin-
cial Secretary and Minister of Mines and Minister of Finance and
Upon the death of Premier Smithe in March, 1887,
Mr. Robson took a similar position in the Da vie cabinet, and upon
the death of Mr. Da vie in 1889 he was called upon to form the
cabinet of which he is now Premier. In the general election of
1886 he was re-elected for New Westminster district, and again in
1890. Mr. Robson is president of the Y. M. C. A., Victoria, and
is a prominent and uncompromising advocate of temperance and
moral reform. He is a justice of the peace for the Province and
holds a lieutenant's commission in the militia. He is a vigorous
and logical writer and a powerful speaker. His views on all public
questions are liberal, progressive and statesmanlike, and his name
stands prominently associated with the history of British Columbia.
His residence is at Birdcage Walk, James Bay, Victoria.