Sir Joseph William Trutch
Joseph Trutch, c. June 1870
|1st Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia|
July 5, 1871 – June 27, 1876
The Lord Lisgar|
The Earl of Dufferin
John Foster McCreight|
Amor De Cosmos
George Anthony Walkem
Andrew Charles Elliott
|Preceded by||Anthony Musgrave|
|Succeeded by||Albert Norton Richards|
January 18, 1826|
March 4, 1904 (aged 78)|
Julia Elizabeth Hyde (m. 1855)
Early life and career
Born in Ashcott, England, Trutch's early childhood was spent largely in Jamaica, although his family returned to England in 1834, where he attended grammar school in Devon. Following an apprenticeship to civil engineer Sir John Rennie, he travelled to California after hearing news of the California Gold Rush of 1849. He arrived in British Columbia in 1859, following the Fraser River gold rush of 1858.
He found employment by working various government contracts as a surveyor, and in 1862 was contracted to construct a portion of the Cariboo Road between Chapmans Bar and Boston Bar along the canyon of the Fraser River. Tolls collected from a suspension bridge along the road, along with prudent land acquisitions, made Trutch a wealthy man.
Beginning in the 1860s, Trutch became involved in colonial politics, serving as the Chief Commissioner of Land and Works, and became a well-known resident of Victoria. As the Chief Commissioner of Land and Works, he was a member of the Legislative Council of British Columbia in the colony. Throughout his political career, Trutch was noted for his hostility to land claims by First Nations people, and demonstrated contempt for their concerns. In a letter to his mother, Charlotte, regarding the Indians of the Oregon Territory he wrote, "I think they are the ugliest and laziest creatures I ever saw and we should as soon think of being afraid of our dogs as of them." (23 June 1850, Joseph Trutch Papers, UBCL, folder A1.b.) And in a letter to the Secretary of State, "I have not yet met with a single Indian whom I consider to have attained even the most glimmering perception of the Christian creed." (26 September 1871, BC Papers Connected with the Indian Land, p. 101) In 1867 Trutch refused to recognize the legitimacy of the reserves established by former Lieutenant-Governor James Douglas and had them re-surveyed, reducing their size by 91%.
His memorandum of 1870 denied the existence of aboriginal title, setting the stage for the colonial assembly to prohibit aboriginal people from pre-empting unoccupied, unsurveyed, or unreserved land without special permission; this decision effectively established a 10-acre (40,000 m2) maximum and denied natives the right to acquire lands held by non-natives (A Sto:lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas, page 164). These policies have had lasting repercussions in modern British Columbia politics with respect to the ongoing process of resolving native land claims.
Province of British Columbia
In 1870, Trutch's brother John married the sister of the colonial governor Anthony Musgrave. Trutch and Musgrave became close. Following the establishment of the Canadian Confederation in 1867 they worked together to negotiate British Columbia's entry, which occurred in 1871 after they secured a promise for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
Trutch was the first Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia following Confederation, a position he retained from 1871–1876. Following his tenure as lieutenant governor, Trutch was appointed a "Dominion agent for British Columbia", and helped to oversee the construction of the CPR in the province.
- Fisher, Robin (1971). "Joseph Trutch and Indian Land Policy". BC Studies. 12: 3–33.
- Lynch, Hollis R. (August 1961). "Sir Joseph William Trutch, A British-American Pioneer on the Pacific Coast". Pacific Historical Review. 30 (3): 243–255. doi:10.2307/3636921.
- "Trutch". BC Geographical Names.
- Wilson, Deborah (16 January 2018). "Change urged to Victoria street named for 'racist' figure". CBC. Retrieved 20 January 2018.