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 5: Analyze the assigned documents

Distribute copies of activity sheet, #10 Evidence of Douglas’ Behaviour, to each student. Ask students to identify pro and con evidence from their assigned documents for each of the three criteria discussed earlier (loyalty to the Crown, effective leadership, and fair manner). Model for students how to complete the assignment by working through several documents with the class. Encourage students to look for evidence both to support and to shed doubts about Douglas’ worthiness for the knighthood. Ask students to indicate the document number associated with each piece of evidence they find. If students are struggling, display the information on #11 Sample: Evidence of Douglas’ Behaviour that has been compiled from Documents #1-3 of the murder of Peter Brown.

Inform students that when gathering evidence and making judgements about Douglas they should be careful about using modern-day values and expectations to judge events that took place in the past. Instead, encourage students to try to understand the common beliefs and practices of the time before judging the merits of the actions. For example, it was not uncommon in the Colony of Vancouver Island to make an arrest, hold the trial and announce the sentence in one day; whereas nowadays such a speedy process would be criticized for being unfair to the accused.

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