Petition for a Provincial Museum

Date:
1886
Record:
GR-0444; Box 52, folder 1, file 6/86

The impetus for what is now the Royal BC Museum, this petition was signed and presented by 30 prominent BC citizens to Lieutenant-Governor Clement F. Cornwall on January 16, 1886. It asked that steps be taken to establish a museum “to preserve specimens of the natural products and Indian antiquities and manufactures of the Province and to classify and exhibit the same for the information of the public.” Included with the petition is Cornwall’s letter of transmittal to the Executive Council.

Petitioners were concerned that “objects connected with the ethnology of the country are being yearly taken away in great numbers to the enrichment of other museums and private collections while no adequate means are provided for their retention in the province.” Signatories included Chief Justice Matthew Baillie Begbie, BC Superintendent of Indian Affairs Israel Wood Powell, businessman and former mayor of Victoria, R.P. Rithet, judges Henry P. Crease and George Walkem, journalist and publisher J.W. Higgins, Yale MLA Charles Semlin and MP Noah Shakespeare.

The petition and the lieutenant-governor’s supporting letter are not only significant as the founding document of the Royal BC Museum, but are part of the records of the Executive Council of British Columbia, which are historically important in their own right.

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