Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


Canadian Wilderness Court House, Vancouver, 1800s

  • Object type: Painting
  • Formal Title: The First Court House of the Canadian Province of British ColumbiaOur First Court House
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: circa 1885
  • Origin: Vancouver, BC
  • Current Location: unknown

As European settlers - mostly British - made their way west, they were delighted to find the Pacific Coast and with weather ... what weather!

Slowly, from east to west, villages were founded including one which has become Vancouver, home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Where the British went so, too, went the law and their common law variety of justice, the first sparks of which flew in what were modest log-homes lost amongst the maple trees of a vast and wondrous frontier.

This drawing formed the back cover of an address to graduating law students given in Vancouver in 1952. Jonathan Miller (1834-1914) later became postmaster. The caption below the original read:

"The first Court House was a small dwelling which stood adjacent to the south west corner of Water and Carrall Streets. It faced the mountains; before was the muddy beach, behind a swamp with skunk cabbage, frogs and blackberry bramble. The forest stood as a serrated wall along our Hastings Street. The Squamish name of the location was was Luk-luk-kee; i.e. grove of beautiful maple trees.

"Here, upon this beach, one rainy afternoon in 1867, Captain John Deighton, alias Gassy Jack, his Indian wife, a yellow dog and two hens landed from their canoe and established Gastown. The crown colony of British Columbia built this cottage, the first public building on Burrard Inlet, called it the Customs House. Behind stood the jail, two log cells without locks. In 1870 a townsite was surveyed and called Granville.

"After confederation in 1871: the Province of British Columbia styled the building Court House. Here lived Jonathan Miller (1834-1914), the only constable, and when Vancouver became an incorporated city, April 6th, 1886, this was the sole polling booth at the first civic election. The dining room, about 10' by 14", served as Council Chamber wherein the first mayor and ten aldermen took oath of office, and held their inaugural Council meeting, May 10th, 1886."

This page has been viewed 9227 times.