On December 11th, 1858, in the midst of a gold rush, a man with the improbable name Amor de Cosmos inked up an old hand press and launched a newspaper -- the British Colonist -- into the world. Published in Victoria, it became the leading paper in the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and was the paper for the province of British Columbia until the emergence of Vancouver and competitors in the 1890s.
“In every thing that concerns British Columbia we shall take a deep and permanent interest” said de Cosmos, the “Lover of the Universe”, and so the paper did. From the extraordinary discoveries of gold and outbreaks of war, to the mundane shipping news and advertisements for insomnia cures, so much of the history of British Columbia and its people, exists only in the pages of this remarkable publication.
This website contains all the issues of the British Colonist (also called The Daily British Colonist, the Daily Colonist, and other variants) from its first issue in 1858 to June of 1910. Once trapped between its crumbling covers, the chronicle of Victoria and British Columbia is now available at the click of a mouse.
You can browse by date or use the search feature to mine the contents of the paper. The search feature is, however, only as good as the 60 year old microfilm, so even the best software had a hard time reading this old paper. Searching any given term will certainly miss some instances and insert others, so you may also want to refer to the index to the paper on Victoria’s Victoria.
Learn more about the British Colonist, which still publishes today after a merger as the Victoria Times-Colonist or explore the early days of the news media in British Columbia or just sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy reading yesterday’s news.