Grades: 5-12

  • British Columbia History
  • Canadian History
  • British North American Colonial History
  • Aboriginal History in British Columbia
Key Topics
  • James Douglas “Father of British Columbia”
  • Important events in the historical development of British Columbia
  • Analysis of primary and secondary sources

Author: Lindsay Gibson
Editors: Roland Case, John Lutz and Jenny Clayton
Historical Researcher: Jenny Clayton, PhD, Department of History, University of Victoria
Developed by: The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2)

Did Governor James Douglas Deserve to be Knighted?

Step 1: Introduce Douglas’ historical legacy

Explain to students that celebrated historical figures such as Sir James Douglas, the so-called “Father of British Columbia,” are rarely as perfect as many of the biographies and histories written about them would have us believe. In considering Douglas’ historical legacy it is important to examine both the positive and negative aspects of his life.

Use the ideas described above in the Introduction to explain to students the focus of the lesson and outline the activities they will undertake.

As an opening activity, invite students, individually or in pairs, to identify three positive aspects and three negative aspects of Douglas’ life based on their reading of a short biography of him. You may want to use the account found in the Canadian Encyclopedia. Direct students to consider Douglas’ actions in the Pacific Northwest as both an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company (1821-1858) and as Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island (1851-1864) and of the Colony of British Columbia (1858-1864).

Upon completion, invite several students to share their findings. You may want to draw students’ attention to the positive and negative aspects listed in #1 Sample: Positive and Negative Aspects of Douglas’ Life.

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Suggested Activities