Talk:James Douglas (governor)

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New Pictures[edit]

Ok seems that this guy, Howcheng has screwed up the pictures on this article. However perhaps this is an opportunity to throw some more diverse pictures into this article. Keep your eyes peeled. Kilter 19:42, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

New edits[edit]

Got rid of some of the high-school simplifications and introduced some details/accuracy; this article/bio needs a lot of work yet, though.Skookum1 21:57, 18 July 2006 (UTC)


In case it is of use, an image of the person's tombstone at Ross Bay Cemetery is available at commons.wikimedia. KenWalker | Talk 16:18, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Scots Canadian cat? Barbadian cat? African-Canadian cat?[edit]

Never really liked using those cat names for people in pre-provincial BC history anyway; but I note that he hasn't been given an "ethnic sort" category of any kind. Should he even? Pretty much he defined what it was to be "British Columbian" (even before that term existed) and he's neither Caribbean nor Scots by culture; only by inheritance and part-upbringing. The country here is what made him what he was; can't really consider him a Scot, nor a West Indian, at least not in cultural/ethnic-identification terms, only by family line....interesting question re a lot of these early guys, in fact; even marking the Orcadians as Scots isn't quite right.Skookum1 02:45, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, I'm wondering that, myself. My inclination would be Scots-Canadian, given his paternity and extended education in Scotland. Strictly speaking, he was a British subject all his life. Fishhead64 06:42, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Bastardy, miscegenation and documention[edit]

I've deleted the unsourced claims that Douglas was illegitimate and that his mother was "free coloured". This is partly because that stuff was brought in from a merge with a fork article by the block-evading sock-puppet of a banned WP account (see here, here, and here), and thus is suspect and delete-worthy for that cause alone. Perhaps more importantly, though, these things cannot be stated as facts, for lack of the needful documentation -- unless something further has been found in recent years, of which I've not learned. Without a reference, these don't belong in the article as "facts". They might be mentioned as speculative possibilities, which to my understanding is what they are, but that, too, needs a reference.
-- Lonewolf BC 20:19, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Just an after-thought on the need for care in these matters: Formerly, claims that Douglas had African ancestry were liable to be made in an attempt to smear him (or just for sake of sensationalism). That might still be the case, in some circles, although plainly nowadays such talk simply does not blacken a man's name (ho-ho) the way that it did in Douglas' own lifetime, nor even 50 years ago. (Somewhat the same goes for claims that Douglas was a bastard -- a literal one, I mean -- although I had never met with any such claim before reading it in the older version of the article on him, here.) Of late, the danger is much more of an opposite kind: that claims of African descent will be made out of a socio-politically based wish to "lay claim" to this important and generally honoured historical figure, for purposes of "Black Pride". Either way, editors must beware of biased sources, and of letting such bias slip into the article.
-- Lonewolf BC 20:24, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

The definitive history written by University of Victoria lecturer John Adam in 2001 has settled this issue. Douglas was the illegitimate son of John Douglas and Martha Anne Telfer. Telfer was classified in the historical record as a "free coloured" woman from Barbados, who came to what is now Guyana in the 1790s, where she would eventually meet John Douglas, with whom she had several children. In the language of that time and place, "coloured" meant any combination of black and white ancestry.
-- User:Proteotopian —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.157.228.114 (talk) 06:16, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Good on you (and on Adams) for digging that out about his mother. So the addition to the text is fine (and I'm personally glad to learn it). Douglas still does not belong in the category "Black Canadians", though, because he was not "Black" unless one goes by the Dixieland, "it only takes one drop" standard.
-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 17:52, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I think it's best to remove the term "Creole" from the description of Douglas's mother. The term is highly confusing and inconsistent in its usages, and has probably led to this uncertainty about Douglas's ancestry in the first place. In Latin America, "Creole" specifically means an exclusively white person born in the New World, while in other places it means a mixture of black and white, and sometimes native. So I believe it would be best to simply refer to Telfer as "mixed-race," while mainting the references to European and African ancestry, which is the most current and objective term. I also think it is correct to classify Douglas as "Black Canadian". Douglas experienced racial discrimination in his life based on his black ancestry, and he has been claimed by other black Canadians in places such as Black History Month and at least one literary anthology that includes his writing as part of the "Black British Columbian" literary canon. I do not suggest this for the reasons you express concern about above -- neither "Black pride" nor any "one drop" rule -- but rather because "Black Canadian" is not a designation of skin colour, but a designation of ancestry, experience and culture. Admittedly, the clincher would be self-identification -- if Douglas somewhere referred to himself as black in his writing, which is not evident, as far as I know. Nevertheless, Douglas never denied his relationship to his mother and grandmother, both of whom are on the record as "free coloured" women, and he even named two of his daughters after both of them. It seems proper to name all three of Douglas's cultural experiences: Canadian, Scottish, and black.
-- User:Proteotopian
I disagree about ditching "Creole". Though I acknowledge that the term would be somewhat ambiguous if used by itself, I see no such problem given that we go on to say that Douglas' mother was of mixed European and African ancestry. Also, I've linked the term to the relevant section of the article on Creole peoples. As for positive reasons for keeping the term, I think it has just the right suggestion of a person born out in the West Indies who might be (and in this case was) of mixed ancestry. In any case, there is no use calling her "mixed-race", when we go on to say that she was of mixed race.

I think that Douglas does not belong in the category of "Black Canadians". He certainly was not "Black" to look at, nor is there any indication that he regarded himself as "Black", or was anything but Scottish by culture. I suppose he was aware that he was in some part African by ancestry, but that is not the same thing as considering himself "Black". He may even have experienced discrimination based on the rumour of such ancestry -- though I doubt anyone really knew anything for certain, or the fact would have been firmly known to historians of decades past -- but again, that does not make him "Black", nor even mean that someone else considered him "Black". It means that someone suspected he was not altogether White. That he has been "claimed" by some Black Canadians is exactly the problem I mentioned before. The claim is erroneous, and does not make itself true. Denial of his relationship with his mother and grandmother would be rather surprising, and lack of such denial is neither here nor there. This whole "Black" thing is anachronistic in relation to Douglas, anyhow.

Sundry slight points (refer to the diff of my edit):
"Martha" rather than "Telfer" to avoid repeating "Telfer" from the end of preceding sentence;
"James" rather than "Douglas" because the last "Douglas" mentioned was John, not James, so it is a bit clearer to make plain that the immediate topic has shifted back to young James himself;
"free coloured" is being used adjectivally, so it does not need "a" before it;
I don't know whether it should be "Martha Anne", as you wrote on the talkpage and I copied into the article, or "Martha Ann", as you afterward changed it to in the article. I left it as "Ann". It doesn't matter much, but if you have the source handy you might make sure which it should be.

-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 07:35, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the info on signing in/off -- I'll give it a shot here. You're right, I'm new to this. I appreciate your congeniality and patience.

I still disagree with the use of "Creole" to describe Martha Ann Telfer. The word is never used in John Adams' book, and it is misleading by nature. When you say that the word is used to describe a person "who might be" of mixed ancestry, that's just the problem -- it suggests a maybe. Why cling to an ambiguous term, especially when the historical record of this man is already plagued by ambiguity on just this matter? It seems unnecessary. The language of Telfer's own time seems to have counted her as "coloured" rather than "Creole", so I do not even think it is a word gathered from the period itself. Perhaps the sentence should be worded that she was a "free coloured" -- then go on to explain what that means in our contemporary sense.

I do personally think there is enough to list Douglas as a "Black Canadian". Whatever the case, it seems very misleading to list him only as "Scottish Canadian". And, frankly, it sounds like you have some political issues that you are expressing through your editing, rather than thinking specifically of the article's veracity. But in the interest of getting on with my life, I would meet you half way by categorizing him as both "Scottish Canadian" and "Guyanese Canadian".

I just double-checked and "Martha Ann Telfer" is the correct spelling, according to Adams. I think the correct style is to refer to individuals by their surnames throughout articles, unless they might be confused with another family member -- as you have rightly corrected with the James/John situation. It doesn't matter that the previous sentence used the name also. It's very off-tone to call a person by her given name in the context of an encyclopedic entry, which is formal.

"Free coloured" is a compound noun. It should not be used adjectivally. "Coloured" can certainly be used that way, but when you say "free coloured", you are creating a compound noun. It should also appear in quotation marks, because the term is an anachronism, not well known today, and it is a direct quote from Adams.

Okay, that's it. I'll try to execute a proper sign-off here. Thanks again for your patience and efforts at getting this thing right.
-- Proteotopian (talk) 10:15, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm going to split my response into parts, each to begin a thread if they go further, so as to keep separate issues from getting tangled up, and posts from becoming overly long. First, "Creole": This is a term to indicate that Martha was a product of the West Indies -- a "local girl", more or less. This is, to my mind, the most essential thing about her, and for a long time (so I understand) was about as much as anyone really knew about her. She was also Free Coloured -- as was commonly true of Creoles of the British Caribbean. This had long been suspected about her, based on the fact that she was a Creole of the British West Indies, and is now known for a fact, itself (assuming Adams has the right of it). "Creole" is not ambiguous in context, here, and in particular there can be no issue of its leaving her ancestry indefinite when we explicitly and separately say what that ancestry was. I think that it betters the article, and should be kept. If you are absolutely dead set against it, we could instead say "West Indian", though I think "Creole" is better.
-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 02:08, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I still think it's a mistake to use "Creole." Perhaps my problem comes from my first encounters with the term, in Caribbean literary studies, in particular in reference to Jean Rhys, where it is used specifically to illustrate a white person who was born in the English-speaking Caribbean. The argument that it is necessary in order to point out that she is local doesn't seem important, when she is also said to be "from Barbados" and later Guyana. There's no real confusion about where she's from without the word "Creole" in there.
Proteotopian (talk) 00:55, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Categories: I've swapped in "Canadians of Scottish descent", "Canadians of Caribbean descent" and "Canadians of Black African descent", instead of "Scottish Canadians" and "Guyanese Canadians". I think those three cover it. "Scottish Canadians" is for full-blood Scots, while "...of Scottish descent" is for part-Scots. "Guyanese Canadians" does not really fit, partly because Guyana, as such, did not yet exist, and partly because although he was born in Demerara and raised there till his mid teens, both of Douglas' parents were outlanders there, and he left it in his youth, never to return. "Canadians of Black African descent" is, by the note at the top of the category, just the right one for Douglas in relation to that part of his heritage.
-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 03:11, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Perfect. That seems the most exact expression, to me.
Proteotopian (talk) 00:55, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Names: "Ann" as against "Anne" is settled, then. I realise, of course, that surnames are generally preferred in formal writing, but that is not a rigid rule. Thus, as we agree, there is good reason to make an exception by using "James" in that one place. I also think that avoidance of "...Telfer. Telfer..." would be a good enough reason to use "Martha", but whereas the sentences can be ordered to otherwise avoid the problem, that can stay a moot point.
-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 04:16, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Done.
Proteotopian (talk) 00:55, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
"Free coloured": This can be a compound adjective as well as a compound noun, and it is odd that you would insist it must not be used adjectivally given that you used it so in "...a "free coloured" woman...". This is like "West Indian": One may rightly say "Smith is a West Indian" or just as rightly say "Smith is West Indian".
Usual style is to italicise terms with which a reader is likely to be unfamiliar at their first occurrence, thus free coloured. Quotation marks not the usual style, nor are they needed for such a short quotation which is only a use of a particular two-word term.
-- Lonewolf BC (talk) 04:16, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
"'Free coloured' woman" is also a compound noun. (The Wikipedia site on compound nouns gives us a few three-word compound nouns, like "Girl Scout troop" and "city council member.") It seems to me that "free coloured" was a caste rather than a description, and so I tend to read it as a noun. Re: italics, we are using different style guides, I suppose. If you are using Wikipedia's, then that would be correct. Does Wikipedia have a style guide? Since the term is potentially controversial, I thought it right to note that it is a quotation from the historical record, rather than ours or Adams' personal description of her.
Proteotopian (talk) 00:55, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

"...born in Demerara (now part of Guyana)..."[edit]

I changed the wording for Douglas' birthplace to the above because Demerara was a separate colony at the time. Not till 1814 was it joined into "Demerara-Essequibo", and not till 1815 was Berbice added to create "British Guiana", the immediate colonial forerunner of Guyana.
-- Lonewolf BC 20:40, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
P.S.: Besides, the original colonies retained their separate identities considerably, even after their administrative mergers. To my understanding, these identities survive to some degree even today.
-- Lonewolf BC 20:29, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Canadiana.org citation invalid and POV[edit]

I looked up the ref accompanying this quote:

The treaty-making was halted after the Colony ran out of money to pursue its expansion policy.[1]

partly because that's a "pat" explanation for why the treaty-making process wasn't continued; more to the facts, Douglas' relatively generous treatment and political support of the First Nations was one of the reasons he got turfed from office; www.canadiana.org is a poorly-written site, and only pullls on goevrnment sources and the extremely-poorly-written/researched Canadian Encyclopedia Online (whose gold rush material was so bad I had to send them off a lengthy criticism of all their many errors earlier tonoight). Also, the transformation of even the www.canadiana.org content somehow got changed from "The Aboriginals gave up nearly 570 square kilometers of land in exchange for cash, clothing and blankets. They were able to retain existing village lands and fields for their use, and also were allowed to hunt and fish on the surrendered lands." to "some blankets and a few shillings" in an obviously POV pastiche-rendering all too reminiscent of the cliches about the sale of Manhattan. In actuality, the Peninsula and Cowichan-area chiefs were, like Maquinna before them, very astute businessmen and wouldn't have settled for a cheap buyout; nor, given Douglas' long and continuing business relationship with them, he can't afford to have been seen (by them) as swindling them; they got what THEY saw as far barter at the time; and if it was only a few shillings that they got, how was it the Colony ran out of money? I can't remember the dollar, or rather sterling, figures at the moment but they weren't cheap; and farther up-island the Kwakiutl were in no mood to negotiate.... I'd have expected these numbers to be present at canadiana.org, since they are used as the cite. Knee-jerk cliches like this are rife in a lot of BC historical writing; but they should always be examined especially when they turn up in government-funded/backed sites, or in eastern-written sites like the Canadian Encyclopedia. I actually stopped by here to see what this article had on the Douglas Treaties, but since there's only what's been culled from Canadiana.org, which itself is a cut-and-paste from other sites, it looks like I'm on my own and will have to dig into the Akriggs and whatever else I have around here; Hauka's great, the Square Toes book was a crashing boor and way too p.c., and the other one I haven't read.....Skookum1 06:59, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The "few shillings" note was referenced in Bob Reid's article in British Columbia: A Brief History in Colony of Vancouver Island. I'll let you be the judge of the accuracy of his claim and the appropriateness of the citation tag. Fishhead64 01:38, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Tried to look for it, but it's gone.Skookum1 11:39, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
By the way, the Akriggs quote one of the Douglas Treaties, which as you can tell by the redlnk doesn't have an article yet. I'm wondering if the full text of such a treaty should go in the article, or if I should put it in Wikisource as it's a source document? Thoughts? Similarly there's Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe, which I created a long time ago but now realize probably should have been put in Wikisource.Skookum1 11:41, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Sir James Douglas (disambiguation)[edit]

Not a necessity, but has to do with James Douglas disambugiation page; see Talk:James DouglasSkookum1 08:33, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Character vignette[edit]

Found this whiel reading up on another topic, in Alexander Begg's British Columbia: From the Earliest Times to the Present, pp 141-142.

A NOBLK ACT. An incident occurred, as the party were fording

the Nisqually River, which was then swollen (April, 1840). It is narrated by Bancroft, and illustrates the character of Douglas. He introduces the occurrence by the remark: "There is something sub- lime in that quality inherent in noble natures which cannot overlook a duty, even though its performance leads to death." It appears that Lassertes, the man foremost in crossing the river, was by some mishap swept from his horse, and carried some distance down the river. Just before reaching a drift of logs and debris, under and through which the furious water was surging, threatening instant destruction to any on whom it might once lay its grasp, he caught the end of a fallen tree and held to it as his only hope of life. Even to those accustomed to daily dangers, and to prompt, unflinching action whenever a comrade needed help, the position of Lassertes was so perilous, the destruction of whomsoever should attempt his rescue so probable, that the bravest of these brave men drew back appalled. The air and water were so icy cold that the limbs would be quickly benumbed, and prob- ably render effort powerless. " Fear fell upon the company," says Douglas in his journal " Lassertes was every moment growing weaker- He was apparently a doomed man. The contagion weighed upon my own mind, and I confess with shame that I felt not that cheerful alacrity in rushing to the rescue as at other times." Douglas saw that if he did not make the attempt no one would. It were easy enough to hold back ; to dally ; to seek for means less venturesome than such extreme personal peril; that man's life was not worth half as much as his own ; no blame could by any possibility ever be attached to him let him go.

DOUGLAS RESCUES LASSERTES. Douglas could not do it. His nature was not formed that way. " Even then," he writes in his journal, "I could not allow a fellow-creature to perish without an effort to save him, while the inactivity of all present was an additional incentive to redouble my own exertions. With a sensation of dread, and almost hopeless of success, I pushed my horse with spur and whip nearly across the river, sprung into the water, and rushed towards the spot where the nearly exhausted sufferer was clinging, with his head above water, to a tree that had fallen into the river. Upon its trunk I dragged myself out on all fours, and great was our mutual joy when I seized him firmly by the collar, and with the aid of a canoe that arrived soon after, landed him safely on the bank, where a blazing tire soon restored, warmth to both. And to my latest breath may I cherish the remembrance of Lassertes' providential rescue from a watery grave, as I could never otherwise have enjoyed tranquillity of mind "

Seems to great to not try to fit in the article, if in condensed form; this was during Vancouver's northward journey to establish Ft Victoria, then from there proceeding to found Fort Taku....Skookum1 (talk) 23:41, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Knighthood[edit]

I'm just moving a comment by an anon misplaced on its own page The term Sir James Douglas was not knighted by Saint James Court in Great Britain, this is propaganda, for the Queen could be the only one to acquire the lands of the Province and was to legitimize these treaties. The proclamation of 1763 states that the Queen could only acquire Indian land.this hasn't been done.154.20.123.98 (talk) 04:27, 5 March 2011 (UTC)Saint James Court Documentation DGG ( talk ) 18:25, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Not sure what the request is about as the statement above is not clear, one thing for sure James Douglas Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over Vancouver's Island and the colony of British Columbia was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 11 August 1863 by Queen Victoria. (London Gazette 22762). So from 1863 he was Sir James Douglas KCB. MilborneOne (talk) 00:11, 6 March 2011 (UTC)