Queen Victoria circa 1850sQueen Victoria had the last of her nine children, Beatrice in 1857 and her first grandchild two years later. Much of her official business focused on foreign affairs, with the coup d'etat of Louis Napoleon in France in 1851 and the Crimean War with Russia between 1854-56.

Steamship with other boatsThe war with Russia made Britain nervous about its Pacific interests, given Russia's ports in the North Pacific. The war prompted the Royal Navy to shift its Pacific Station north from Valparaiso, Chile to The CityEsquimalt harbour near Victoria. The presence of the navy was an economic and social boost to the sleepy colonial capital, the furthest outpost of empire. But Victoria awoke from its sleep, in May 1858 with the arrival of a shipload of gold seekers. Instantly a tent city grew up around the fort, and the village became a city as some 20,000 miners came and went through the summer and fall.

Her majesty declared the creation of a second colony which she named British Columbia in 1858 to formalize British governance over the gold fields on the mainland. She named the capital of the colony "New Westminster", after the British seat of governance.

Fort Victoria Journal 1846-50

1859 Vipond Panorama from Church Hill

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Research Pages

The First Newspapers on Canada's West Coast: 1858-1863

Created by Hugh Doherty.

Victoria had no fewer than nine newspapers between the summer of 1858 and 1863, all except the British Colonist, short-lived but lively all the same. This website gives a history of each of these newspapers and the colourful people behind them.