by Jack Bates

PART 1 — 1842 to 1886


Daily Colonist
February 20, 1862

Vancouver Island Colony


"Powder Magazine Act, 1860."

Office of Lands and Works
February 18th, 1862.

THE GOVERNOR HAVING APPROVED of Halkett Island, in the Portage Inlet, as a fit place for the erection of a Powder Magazine, all parties willing to greet the same are invited until the 30th of March next, to tender at the lands Office upon the terms herein specified:

Halkett Island will be reserved for the sole reception of the Powder Magazine, and no rent will be charged for it pending the term of ten years, during which period the exclusive privilege of storing gunpowder within three miles of Victoria and Esquimalt, will be granted.

The magazine must be fire proof and constructed of brick or stone with double wooden doors and copper hinged and fastened to the satisfaction of Governor General, and must be capable of holding 100 tons of powder.

The contractor must also build a commodious landing place. The maximum rate of storage allowed by the Act is twelve shillings and six pence per ton. Persons tending must specify the lowest rate of storage at which they will be prepared to erect and maintain the Magazine; the period in which they will be prepared to complete, and the days and hours during which they will attend at the Magazine for the reception and discharge of powder.

The conduct of the Island and of the Magazine and its keeper and all matters connected with the reception, storage and delivery of powder therein and therefrom, and of the mooring of vessels in the vicinity thereof, shall be under the superintendence and regulations of the Surveyor General and subject to such provisions as may be passed by the Legislature.

For further information apply to the Land Office and see the "Powder Magazine Act, 1860."

By order of the Governor

Surveyor General

February 20, 1862

The Lay of the Prize Essay
Air "Lucy Neal"

With weeping and with laughter
The story will be told
How two Doctors of the Topaze
Gain’d sixty pounds in gold.

The Gov’nor and his Council
By their town lots they swore
The Island called Vancouver
Should be unknown no more;
By their town lots they swore it,
And named a certain day
When any man – the tale thus ran
Might send in an essay.
With weeping, etc.

East and West and South and North,
This news flew very fast,
"Tt.' Exchequer of this Island
Had some spare cash at last;
Pounds fifty they do offer
To the best man this day
Who’ll write a song and sing it well,
And call it an essay."
With weeping, etc.

Much gold is there in Fraser, But more at cariboo -
High are the hills – some men it kills,
'Ere they do reach thereto
Beyond all things there’s nought that rings,
Or yields no sweet a sound,
As that bright dust – but work you must,
'Ere ever It is found.
With weeping, etc.

And "big licks" it requires
To drag it from its bed;
And few there are that care to work
For pork and beans and bread.
Far higher still must be the skill
With which to wield a pen;
And few there are who ever care
To do this like again.
With weeping, etc.

That Proclamation great consternation
The settlers made among;
For many men did clutch a pen
To try and sing that song.
With pen and ink they sit and think,
"I know not what to say;"
And of all the men there were but ten
Who brought forth an essay.
With weeping, etc.

There be chosen three great prophets –
The wisest of the land –
Who night and day did each essay
Attempt to understand,
Evening and morn these three wise men
Have turned the verses 'ore,
Yet no more knew each evening
Than many days before.
With weeping, etc.


Eight pounds six*, like so many bricks,
These ditties they did weigh;
You then might see those prophets three
Look glum at each essay'
Their heads they shook – large pipes they took
And smoked all night and day;
And a leetle beer, their souls to cheer
While reading each essay.
With weeping, etc.

Now, For-bes is a Scotchman,
And a Doctor good likewise;
So you may guess he’d do no less
Than win the biggest prize.
His Latin motto taken was
From Virgil, Book 2d -
"Insula, etc, Tenedos" –
A contrast “rich” was reckoned.
With weeping, etc.

The good Rattray – he whose essay
Was second best, I’m told –
I’ve sorry been he did not win
More than ten pounds in gold.
No "nom de plume" did Rattray place,
From the realms of classic song;
"Stern truth, not fiction," he’d embrace;
Was that where he was wrong?
With weeping, etc.

Great be the blame and huge the shame
On the Island of Vancouver;
No man was there but did his share
To silently reprove her.
And glory to the Topaze,
And to her Doctors two –
May they both live to sing the praise
And fame of Cariboo.
With weeping, etc.

If now I axes can the taxes
That sixty pounds will pay?
And you to this shall answer yes;
I'll shout Hip, hip, hurra.
For if they can, I'm not the man
To sink into dismay,
When lacking sense and wanting pence
I wrote a bad essay.
With weeping, etc.

But one word more I have to say –
The truth I will unfold -
I do regret I did not get
That fifty pounds in gold.
Of that bereft now nought is left
But away to Cariboo,
And dig and delve like niggers twelve
To see what I can do.

* 8 lbs 6 oz

A Rejected Essayist.

MACAULAY'S PLAINS      February 1862.

Macaulay's Plains being referenced in 1862 as a place of residence makes you wonder who the author was. Macaulay Plains was possibly used as a quarantine grounds during the 1862 small pox epidemic.

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