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Gentleman Emigrants

Patrick Dunnae

This tape is part of the Salt Spring Island Historical Society Collection and comprises an address to its members, entitled ‘Gentlemen Emigrants’.
Dr. Dunnae gives a detailed account of the origins, nature and role of the Gentlemen Emigrants to B.C. in the later 19th and early 20th Centuries. He uses Mr. Bullock to illustrate these points with regards to Salt Spring Island.

Accession Number Interviewer Salt Spring Island Historical Society address
Date September 9, 1986 Location
Media tape Audio CD mp3
ID 60 Topic




Unknown Speaker 0:03
Your ethnic group and to to regard the Genteel members of that group as comprising that particular class. Is there no. The English immigrants and British immigrants who were collectively known as gentleman immigrants and called themselves gentleman immigrants, he played a valuable role in British Columbians history, certainly up to the first rule of war and, and possibly beyond. There are group though that aren't generally considered in the history books. And I think it's largely because people have come to confuse gentleman emigrants with remittance men. And most remittance men were indeed gentleman emigrants, and many gentlemen emigrants were indeed remittance men, but the remittance now in fact is not always the remittance Nan of a fiction or folklore. The definition of a remittance man is as you probably know, someone who usually member of a good or aristocratic family, who is had somehow disgraced himself or his family and was paid, I paid a quarterly or annual remittance and allowance to stay away from your country. And the term starts coming into use in the 1880s. In fact, from my research is I find it it first surfaces in Australia, where the type was well known. And by the mid 1880s, the term remittance man is in common use in Western Canada. And gradually by the turn of the century, it spreads eastern Canada and the United States. Well, not all of the remittance and then we're we're escaped graces or cats or narrative wills. Not all of them. Moreover, were incompetent or intemperate is another great favorite images and mittens man isn't the drunken Nair do well, Englishman, who had, you know, collapsed in some Western bar with his old neurobion Tie stain from rye whiskey. Or the incompetent remittance man, there's so many anecdotes concerning remittance men in Western Canada. And one of my favorite, and women talk to her was the story of the English gentleman who was found dying of thirst beside a river. And when asked why he didn't drink the water at hand, he replied, Well, he didn't have a drinking tap, don't you know? Well, there were certainly some of those types. There were to a degree, some bourbon boosters and the incompetent English gentleman. There were undoubtedly a few black sheep out here. But most of those young men are the gentleman emigrants who came out here came over to here for, for reasons which I'll explain presently, they're quite honorable reasons. Now, I've been using this term gentleman, and the one thing that they all had in common was that they were gentleman, some were clergyman sons, some were younger sons, the aristocracy. Some were bankers, sons, some were retired civil servants, but they were half payer, pension, military officers. One thing they all had in common, was that they were gentleman. And the way the Victorians defined gentleman is not so much based on income or anything like that. But on education, it was assumed that if one had had the education of the gentleman, then that so back to the one was a gentleman, and the only place you could get that education was through a public school, or private, the paying Academy like Eton Harrow, and a great many of the newer public schools, which developed in 1850s, Wellington, Malta cram wave of the list goes on and on the great English public school. So they expanded considerably in the middle years, 19 century. And when the schools expanded, so too, did the pool a gentleman expand, because there are now more graduates of public schools and there are more gentlemen around allow us. Opportunities for gentleman didn't expand in the same way. In fact, they contract it because as Britain got more caught up with the industrial age And as the sometimes called the meritocracy took effect. Traditional, gentlemanly occupation such as the bar, medical profession, the army, they became a civil service, they became more and more difficult to enter. Prior to 1870, your father could put you down for a commission and a good English regiment, British regiment. And if you had sufficient fees and connections, he would get that commission. After 1870 competitive entrance exams are introduced for Commission's entrance exams are introduced for places in the civil service, the home civil service and Indian civil service. Even the Navy gets more difficult to enter, the bar becomes more difficult to enter medicine is tightened up to a substantial degree. And the only occupation that's still open for gentleman sons that the church that is it was attracting fewer and fewer young men is the 19th century progressed. So the situation was that the liberal professions and the army were more difficult to enter, they were much more great many more men wanting to enter them because they were gentlemen. Trade was still considered some of the older the new professions like architecture, engineering and the light. They weren't attracting as many public school boys as they might have. Because the public schools were preoccupied with a rather outmoded system curriculum. They were preoccupied with organized sports. And there are many tales about you know, young, young school boys, who come down from the top rank public school who devoted all their time and effort to playing cricket and demonstrating their prowess on the river on the cinder track or on the playing field. This belief that the Empire was one not only the Battle of Waterloo, but the whole empire was one on the playing fields V. When they came through to engineering an exam, he found the big couch in the cricket team didn't get very far. So what do you do? Well, this this question, what do you do with what the Victorians called the younger son question. If you read newspapers in major periodicals of 1870s and 1880s, you'll see it littered with articles with such titles as what shall I do with my son, when they're our boys? Where shall we send our voids? And these questions were debated in in, in church groups in educational societies. Great question. What do you do with a well educated class of young men? The Tom Brown types manly, muscular, Christian, energetic young men who were redundant or supernumerary gentlemen? Well, thank goodness, there was an impact that I could go out. And large numbers didn t go to the Empire, and large numbers of those who went to the Empire came to our part of the empire. And that sort of basically why how Germany and the Brits start coming out. Now, B. C, was always one of the most favored spots for the gentleman emigrant in the 1850s. The Times reporting that British Columbia to CIT founded was among the most favored among the educated classes is an area of resettlement. And indeed, the very first independent settler, in what becomes British Columbia on Vancouver Island Captain Walter Calhoun grant is a classic gentleman immigrant. He was 27 years old when he came out. He had been a an army officer. He retired at half pay when he found that his personal fortune couldn't pay the expenses with his nest. Does the regimental mess his financial affairs were in a bit of a mess. His father fortunately or his uncle was well connected with the Hudson's Bay Company and Captain Grant was able to come out in a small allowance and begin a new colonial career as a surveyor then Cooper Island, we had no training in surveying, and in fact, he and James Douglas quarrel bitterly over Captain gramps and competence.

Unknown Speaker 9:50
Douglas is the governor Douglas is also upset when Captain Grant he arrived at what's know Dallas At COVID point, Beacon Hill Park and Victoria desk in 1849. And so in the dusk, what he assumed were a herd of wild buffalo turned out to be the Hudson's Bay company's dairy farm dairy herd, and he started taking, engaging what he called Wild sport. I take the shots in town to deer. And then he also brought with him accoutrements, which were rather inappropriate, including a complete set of cricket bats and wickets everything and pads for for Cricut 11. But since he was the only independent separate, he had to wait to the least 10 More people came in to form a team. Captain Grant comes in wait for it. It's in the early 50s, mid 50s Because we got caribou gold rush, and this attracts a great many gentleman immigrants to British Columbia, many of whom had been in the Crimean War, who after the Crimean War had retired on small pensions, but found that their small pensions couldn't support them and their orange families in a gentleman only worthy of life in the old country. Accordingly, they emigrated number came to British Columbia to Vancouver Island, where they hoped to find positions in the civil service and to the mainland would be hoped to find their make their fortunes gold rush. Well, some did, most didn't. And contemporary accounts of Ford reports like one from the FT fonio Secretary new EX minister in 1864, who reported that US Phase Two was overrun with decayed and broken down in gentleman. The Stoker on the riverboat, he said was a gentleman who had come down on the world. The boots that who clapped at the local hotel was a son of a Harley Street position, and clergyman son was chopping wood the governor steamboat. This was greatly upsetting to the those who encouraged genteel migration. Accordingly, the government did its best to accommodate these men give them clerical jobs that were more befitting their gentlemanly background. Realizing though, that, while we clerical jobs were especially exciting, some of these gentlemen went off on their own, and proved to be a fairly innovative crowd. And good examples come to mind, one to whom two young men Henry and Clement, Cornwall, Cornwall brothers, sons of Anglican clergyman had no inclination to enter the church. One had gone to Oxford one and gone to Cambridge, they found that the professions for which they aspired were overcrowded. So they came out to British Columbia, hoping to make their fortune in the caribou gold rush. They didn't find gold, but they realized there were great many people going through who were wanting to find gold, who needed a place to stay. So the Cornwall started, built a stopping house, which they named in rather grandiose fashion, Ashcroft Manor, have to deal with them in place in Gloucestershire and Ashcroft Manor grew by leaps and bounds is profits for those profits were invested in cattle industry. And the Cornwallis became to the nucleolus of the British Columbia cattle industry. People liked the Corn Laws, and there were many others retired Army officers enabled boxes, like Charles and Forbes Burnham, who settled up in that area too, and developed substantial cattle ranches. And I would say, parenthetically here, that cattle ranch was a favored occupation among gentleman agriculturalists. Later in 1880s, and 1890s, orange number of them went to Manitoba to grow wheat, but they found that we wasn't very exciting. Manitoba wasn't very exciting for them. And there was this notion that the aristocracy was traditionally a sort of an equestrian set. I can imagine Princess Anne's husband, Captain Mark Phillips, as a as a gentleman emigrant and probably their good rancher. So in any case, they came out to areas where they could Ranch, hence the the caribou Chilko. What distinguished this kind of Sacco was that they had capital to invest either through quarterly remittances or profits who would generate it themselves or some capital they brought with them also To keep from going native, they brought with them they what some people might call the cultural baggage but it was very good baggage. Many ways. They did indeed drinks or dinner. They hung curtains on the windows, they put rugs on the floors, they they tried to soften the harsh pioneer environment whenever possible, they tried to make order of an unformed frontier. And some in some ways they were criticized by others for doing so it's tough to be frivolous waste of time and money to put curtains on on a farmhouse which was 20 miles and then your neighbor, it was important for them to do that. Nevertheless, it's important for them to dress appropriately to order their day, so that their lives were generally ordered, because that's part of the training they receive to at school, to discipline yourself to keep them going native to maintain the old ways. And also part of this process of maintaining your ways and keeping the Step Up north and all was to bring in cultural institutions that they were interested in. Now the Duke of Beaufort sent the Cornwall brothers, a pack of hunting hounds, while they were no foxes around Kamloops to think there are still but there were coyotes and other quadrupeds that ran from dogs. So they Hunting. Hunting was a favorite institution. They introduce a formal form of balls on the Anglican Church cricket polo all these old country pastimes and institutions were firmly implanted on the frontier enricher guide gentleman Emirates six has been talking about now I mentioned them wrenching there the Cornwall's the Vernon's rose up in bite climbing Cornwall became a tenant governor of British Columbia and a Senator for British Columbia. The Vernon's became senior cabinet ministers one of them did at least built up substantial holdings which they sold to a new group of gentlemen immigrants who came and started coming in the 1890s when the economy is really booming immigrants and and sojourners such as the Governor General's word Aberdeen, who bought part of the burden property for the entire development called stream ranch. And that ranch, do not only cattle, as you probably know, but it was one of the leading orchards in in the country. And fruit growing was another favorite occupation of the gentleman emigrant, it was a fruit mania in British Columbia in the 1890s and early 1900s. And large numbers of these immigrants came out to try their hand at horticulture, and there are some naive people among them, but the prevailing notion was that you just had to stick a tree down and sit back for a few years live on your remittances and it was going to sprout apples and you save one plant some of those seeds and sell the rest of the apples and, and everything would be perfect. And their whole communities. Wallace sheen, the gentleman's calling in here can oops new stabbing was established in the 1900s. This theory notion, it collapses, did many of the orchards but it was a great inducement to bring more gentle throughout British Columbia. And indeed, there are certain areas in British Columbia that were most favored. I've mentioned around Ashcroft that wasn't too too favorite. Certainly the Okanagan was though. And if you read reports in 1890s and early 1900s, it seems that every sort of two miles when was media an old Etonian, an old Cantabria and old this major general compare tired Indian army officers that could live cheaply there was a wonderful climate. And of course, they were pursuing gentlemanly vocation. fruit growing.

Unknown Speaker 19:37
The Okanagan was a favorite area, the couch and Dally was greatly favored to around Duncan, the smaller places around Duncan, some nose couch and station, Arrington for the grant to Shane Estelle in our couch and valley Schnittstelle greatly favored among gentlemen emigrants, partly because Is this a general climate, partly because the land was relatively inexpensive. And three, it was very much like we were used to in England. The other great favored area and this brings us here to solid spring was the Gulf Islands. That got Gulf Islands were one of the three principal havens for emigrant gentle quote, the A team, or guests beginning in the 1880s, right through to the early 1900s. And some islands would be more favored than others, for reasons which are usually one download would come and they'd be joined by another one. But Galliano and South Pender Saltspring in aterna, as far as I can tell, were the most genteel of the Gulf Islands. And indeed, in the early 1900s, they're often referred to as the English settlement islands or the Gulf Islands. Kellyanne was so tender so students aterna. And I guess you're familiar with many of the individuals who pioneered on those islands probably more familiar than if money the gentle folk, though were the pain family on Saturna Island, and their great friend and former public school boy and adventure Warburton pipe, or hiking as he is known to his friends and deeds. Another thing most of my airmen gentlemen have little nicknames. Paepcke or volunteer, Reggie. Monty whatever. Paepcke Warburton pipe is a good example of the gentleman emigrant comm adventure comm farmer comm and dent investor. He came out initially in search of wild sport, big game hunting. That was his thing. Anyway, to celebrate a big game hunter and a celebrated traveler and its discovery in Muscat up north and his overland journeys were made him a celebrity in his time he was an intimate with some of the big game hunters of the world, Frederick salutes and South Africa Teddy Roosevelt can states intimate Roland he came to Victoria though and Victoria and later Saturna Island, which is the springboard for for him from which he could go hunting. And on these hunting expeditions, inevitably they would keep an eye on the threat and financial opportunities and some of the remote areas of the province they discovered important mines important timber resources which they developed and interested in brought in more British investment and if they made a profit or they were able to live much more comfortably at their base camps either in salt subterminal Galliano or their base base camp union pub in Victoria to have memberships there. Were Potter over to Victoria Paepcke scandalized union caught by invading a needed Indian woman and with him and that is not done. And he taught off that to sit turn in when he felt itchy feet off you go into the wilds with his contemporaries men like Bailey Grohmann Phillips Warby, so many of them had double barreled names as well as double barreled shotguns when they went out in the wild. Well, they must have been quite friendly with the most celebrated gentleman emigrant for Mossad. Henry right bork, because, boy, it was down in it as a member of the union called very early 1896. He joins the union club, and he to use that as a springboard. And he too, is representative in a good way of a type of gentleman emigrant who is attracted to British Columbia and attracted to the island, Salzburg in particular, from what I've been able to find Henry rate book. He was born in October 1868. And so in the south of England is instead of an Anglican clergyman with his father who was relatively outward that didn't have private living, and was able to educate his son privately in Poland, I don't think very bored and very candid as public school and search, but he went on to St. John's College Oxford, and after that, studied engineering and I'm not quite sure where he studied engineering. I've never I've not been able to find that. But me acquired some engineering into the training as an engineer, he decided to opportunities were limited to them. And with a sizable amount of capital, he made his way to British Columbia. And it appears almost directly to Saltspring. Island in 1890 to 94. That's a conflict that would have made him go 2426 years of age, let's say 23. The young Englishman is is his famous beard hadn't yet grown to the full length of this. Half correct. This idea is 25 years old. Independently comfortable is in terms of finance, and Fancy Free booze. And what a wonderful Ireland to be 25 Pretty have a good remittance from home. The first three years he seems too late to about not done too much to join the union club in Victoria, but he's scouting around for opportunities on the island. And then just before the turn of the century, he purchased 300 acres from the Eric Nels Nelsen and had built for him a large and by all accounts, some sumptuous and furnished home.

Unknown Speaker 26:32
1980 99 1900 he also then seems to have become very, very interested in local development. And you didn't stay all accounts a very innovative man, especially as a younger man, he put his orange home in charge of mishandling his first housekeeper. And then he went on to develop his orchards, which again, by all accounts, and I wasn't there at the time, but they seem to he was well regarded and well respected in agricultural circles, and the farmers Institute and other agricultural societies. You don't know what you thought about moving up housed in the Soviets. He became very active, the Gulf Islands Trading Company which exported his no fruit to Victoria. He became very active in a number of other local communities and local activities, the Anglican Church, which is supported developing, but also local industries such as establishing dairy farms, modern creameries, Honey Farms, his photography studies and photography studio, he built apparently, models to their kind. He had, I believe, in the first on the island to have his own electrical generating plant and I assume this comes from his training as an engineer. And his love of mechanical things also seems to be expressed in his love of motorcars. Nike can purchases for touring car, which I believe is the first on the island. And years new subsequently, as the islands thirst occurs. Always motorized, here's all of this has been 40 years ago, 35 years of age, so he's using his remittances wisely, and he's investing and peace, a model ever been gentlemen of the kind? He doesn't seem to have been triggered eccentric then there go 1906. He asked his housekeeper who had gone to work in a constant orphanage, if she would look after his place for a time and she'd be welcome to bring one of the boys from the orphanage with her and she might, and I have not met Jesse Thomas fine, but I've read a lot of reports, no papers, and I believe he was the first to come over. And Henry read a book that developed a great attachment to him, and says going help Jesse Thomas, born to step set up his own farm. And according to reports, this book also brought out a young man from the old country from the Blue Coat school in London, which is a prestigious public school but originally founded for orphans, and he gave them also started, despite his love for children, remains about short to the end of his days. And it may be just as well because according to the stories that have found the children who did go to a club to entertain grand dinner parties, and this young man would stand with a decanter of Sherry And Sherry into the guests cards. To me, just made a tasty constantly. And there's a report in the archives of him teaching young men to swim with inflatable water wings and he'd be in his rowboat with a hole tied on the rope tied off to the boys direct and around stories which abound and and I hope some of you here will be able to clarify that whenever Henry appears here

Unknown Speaker 30:51
Top Hats and jackets, which you will find the little boys and gadgets to wear. In any case, I've read somewhere that you would pay them 10 cents, if they would really even jackets and talk to church on Sunday. Well, again, perhaps he can clarify some of these stories. But as he went on in life, Harry Wright, comes to be known as squire appears to become more and more eccentric, but at the same time, local newspaper accounts he appears to become more and more better, better light. And by the time his death in 1946, the the headline in the Vancouver province, beloved square, Salzburg passes away and it's a warm reception all the local papers not simply here to determine Thank you Westminster its interior papers on the beloved square spring. And the Vancouver Romans said that you will be best remembered for his philanthropy and for his order, progressive agricultural, scientific agriculture, exporting agricultural products, etc. I think everyone generally like to get in deep optimist these contributions to the community, there are some encouraging developments in positive ways. Now, before I wind up here, any questions you might have, I should point out other pockets in Arabic gentlefolk flow to notice in German Thetis Island was doing to stop she is a high and genteel activity largely because of the owner distances in virtually all the rituals established. A training center for foreign pupils and visitors really a farm pupil system is a system whereby you tap out from England and pay a farmer 70 $100 a year to teach them to fire. And this is a system that is used care of the position of young men understand at several $100 for a course and the fault gets shut in the water the pupils from the desirable environment subsequently established themselves and then began occupations.

Unknown Speaker 33:43
The second the First World War, I am mindful gentleman in 1942, because the First World War the great work of civilization had a devastating effect on this class again for the older immigrants like Warburton pike and supplied Phillips, who would come out in the teenagers who were was devastated because they had been raised at a time when the martial spirit was very high. And most of them had also one point and that observed. In the Navy, we are forever getting ready for the big show. But when the big show Vironment came, they were too old to invest that word to pay for that take the time to do this. And the letters we had in the archives were very poignant. He said, I traveled to North America. And one of the best shots in the empire is accepting this notice. And luckily, we had 50 odd years and some of the best lessons today Suicide just in the early days of the war, felt Scotland is threatening, contemporary, slipping in time. And of course, for residents, some of us have done Philip slowly to being the regimental boxing champion was also turned out he was too old. And it was terribly affected by that

Unknown Speaker 35:25
when they sent your son to 18 and 20. Of course, he said, Phil, it was Holly's son's first Canadian, Canadian young officers in Canada to be killed in the Royal Navy naval action for school in

Unknown Speaker 35:46
September of 1914. So this is terribly depressing to senior classes. And I don't think they ever recovered and established for the younger demographic gentlemen. Many of them are important out state for retirement. And others, they of course, were in their early 20s and listed and as young can make it

Unknown Speaker 36:12
for many of them just about the casual start. It's an unofficial thesis of mine and others that weren't listening from communities that had a high proportion of immigrant agenda, disproportionately higher than it was elsewhere. And accordingly, you go to places in the Okanagan, where

Unknown Speaker 36:43
it's terribly depressing to see how many names because it's gonna break working. This whole class just rushed to the colors responded to the menus and said didn't come back. Many. They didn't come back. Those communities never thrive to the same extent. We had for the What about the lasting contributions of this class? Local Community power, so yes, the church and come church and other churches we pretend to be church, primarily for society's artistic, athletic associations, all of these are legacies of English British gentleman who came out and there's also something behind an attitude, a soft frontier type of thinking that eventually pervaded through the communities where they reside, that made those communities less harsh than some other kinds of communities. May Canadians suddenly different, considerably different from American genteel and our end the street celebrated tour of 1907 came out to Canada to Canada and was surprised to find how unpopular everyone jumped on the words, places specifically. And Kipling was tagged in a story with the Englishman out there, it's beside the river because we have a car and Kipling I can just see it with this little round glasses China said every country means for 1% of this population to die of thirst.

Unknown Speaker 39:08
Thank you