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McBRIDE, Sir RICHARD, lawyer and politician; b. 15 Dec. 1870 in New Westminster, B.C.; m. there 23 Sept. 1896 Christine Margaret McGillivray, and they had six daughters; d. 6 Aug. 1917 in London, England.
Richard McBride was the third child of Irish natives, Mary D’Arcy and Arthur Hill McBride. His father was successively colonial and provincial jailer and first warden of the British Columbia Penitentiary. A prize-winning student in local schools, Dick enjoyed swimming, rowing, canoeing, and fishing and would continue to do so in his adult years. In September 1887 he entered Dalhousie law school in Halifax, the only university law school in the common law provinces. He did moderately well in a three-year curriculum and excelled in the mock parliament, where in his third year he served as premier. Between terms he returned to New Westminster and worked in a salmon cannery, tallying fish and keeping time for native people and Chinese. After being articled to Gordon Edward Corbould, the Conservative mp for the riding, he set up his own practice, which handled a variety of cases.
He made his political début in the 1896 federal election as the Liberal-Conservative candidate in New Westminster but could not overcome antipathy to the party. Two years later he ran provincially in the rural constituency of Westminster-Dewdney. As a supporter of Premier John Herbert Turner*’s program of “Progress and prosperity,” McBride won the seat. When Lieutenant Governor Thomas Robert McInnes called on Charles Augustus Semlin* to form a government, however, “Dewdney Dick” was on the opposition benches. Although in the legislature his sharp tongue got more attention than his ideas, he earned a reputation as an able debater. During the time the legislature did not sit he practised law, making one summer-long sojourn in Atlin, the centre of a mining boom in the province’s extreme northwest. He had plenty of remunerative work there sorting out mining claims and gained an appreciation of the mining industry.
During the 1900 session McBride helped defeat the Semlin government. A confused situation became chaotic when the lieutenant governor asked Joseph Martin*, who had no supporters, to form an administration. In the consequent general election McBride argued for the introduction of straight party lines. His main plank was opposition to Martin. After the election he joined 24 other members to support James Dunsmuir in order to pass the estimates and continue public works. When Dunsmuir formed a non-partisan cabinet in June 1900 he appointed McBride minister of mines.
Although coastal newspapers noted McBride’s ability, some editors in the mining regions thought him “miscast.” To learn more about the industry, he visited those regions and invited “experienced and reputable mining men” to submit opinions on the laws, which he promised to have investigated by a commission. Because of complaints about too much “tinkering,” he did little to change the laws, however, and abandoned plans for a commission.
The partisan McBride was elected president of the provincial Conservative organization in the fall of 1900, and his active support of Conservative candidates in the federal election of that year upset some of Dunsmuir’s friends. Then, in September 1901 Dunsmuir named John Cunningham Brown, an ally of Martin, to his cabinet. McBride immediately resigned on a point of principle, that Dunsmuir had violated a “pledge” to work against Martin. Before the legislature next met in February 1902, 18 opposition members, “the Dickey birds” as the Vancouver Daily Province called them, chose McBride to be opposition leader. As such, he once spoke from midnight to 9:00 a.m. attacking Dunsmuir’s alliance with Martin.
Obstructionist performances did not enhance McBride’s stock among Conservatives. Although he helped persuade the convention of September 1902 to endorse party lines in provincial politics, he was not re-elected president. Since the new incumbent did not have a seat in the assembly, McBride remained opposition leader. Party lines were still not defined. In a by-election of 26 Feb. 1903 caused by the reorganization of the cabinet after Dunsmuir retired, McBride campaigned alongside John Oliver*, a prominent Liberal, on behalf of Charles Augustus Semlin, now an opposition candidate. Semlin’s victory weakened the new administration, led by Edward Gawler Prior, which lost its majority after some scandals and was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Sir Henri-Gustave Joly* de Lotbinière. The same day, 1 June 1903, the lieutenant governor invited McBride to form a government. After conferring with supporters, McBride thanked Liberal colleagues for past support and announced his government would be “Conservative in character.” Liberals thought this move was “treachery,” but it established party lines, which were essential for political stability.
Despite some dissent among Conservatives, McBride was well received on a provincial tour, and he decided to advance by several weeks the date of the election that had been called for 31 October. In what he hoped would be a “short, sharp and decisive” campaign, he toured the province from Atlin to Kootenay. Aid to railway construction and government control of railway rates, continued pressure on the federal government for “better terms” and a halt to Asian immigration, and consideration of any reforms suggested by working men became cornerstones of his policy. The results were less than decisive, with the Conservatives winning 22 of 42 seats.
The province’s most pressing problem was an empty treasury. The Canadian Bank of Commerce, its banker, publicly warned the government to retrench. Temporary workers were laid off and most public works projects stopped. The new legislature approved a million-dollar loan and increased taxes. Finance minister Robert Garnett Tatlow*’s firm control of the purse-strings and the return of prosperity resolved the situation. By 1904–5 the province had a slight surplus on its annual accounts, the first since 1882. In 1911 Price Ellison, Tatlow’s successor, reported the administration could “issue a check and pay off the whole bonded indebtedness of the province” if it were thought desirable.
The government also pursued the well-trodden course of asking the dominion for more financial assistance. By the time McBride went to the interprovincial conference at Ottawa in October 1906, he knew the call for better terms was popular in British Columbia. Indeed, Liberal leader James Alexander Macdonald* had seconded a resolution that the province was entitled to “distinct and separate relief.” The other provinces, however, rejected McBride’s request for an independent investigation and suggested a special grant of $100,000 per year for ten years. McBride left the conference. Liberals accused him of stirring up animosity against Ottawa and seeking an election cry; Conservatives hailed him as a hero.
Soon after returning to Victoria, McBride got a reluctant Lieutenant Governor Dunsmuir to give him a dissolution but he did not announce it until Christmas Eve, the day after his close personal friend Robert Francis Green left the cabinet under a lingering shadow. The opposition accused Green, the chief commissioner of lands and works, of letting speculators profit from a secret transfer of land on Kaien Island to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway for its terminus. A special investigation by a committee of the legislature called the arrangement “a good bargain” for the province but a minority report by Liberal leader Macdonald undermined Green’s credibility. As Conservatives campaigned, they made so much of the need for better terms that Liberals, who focused on scandals in the administration of lands and resources, accused the Conservatives of claiming to be “the only ones who desired to see Better Terms govern this province.” In the voting on 2 Feb. 1907 the Conservatives won 26 of the 42 seats.
When Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier asked the British parliament to make the new financial arrangements established at the interprovincial conference a “final and unalterable” amendment to the British North America Act, McBride went to London in 1907 to fight the “finality” clause. He was partially successful. Winston Churchill, the undersecretary of state for the colonies, dropped the phrase in the bill presented to the House of Commons, but the House of Lords accepted a schedule containing those words. Nevertheless, the trip was a personal victory. McBride developed friendships with prominent Britishers such as Churchill and Thomas Power O’Connor, a journalist and mp. He impressed some British politicians who in 1910 would offer him a safe parliamentary seat and a purse if he would come to Britain and assist Churchill and others in “building up a strong Imperial Party.” McBride spurned the flattering offer but less than two years later, in June 1912, the king’s birthday honours list named him a kcmg.
In eastern Canada, the press suggested in 1907 that McBride might replace Robert Laird Borden* as Conservative leader, an idea McBride did not totally discount. Speculation rose as Borden faced caucus crises, but McBride decided by 1911 that there was enough scope for his efforts in British Columbia. He had delivered six of the province’s seven federal seats to the Conservatives in 1908. A believer in the National Policy of Sir John A. Macdonald*, in 1911 he warned that commercial reciprocity with the United States, advocated by the Liberals, would inflict “serious injury” on the province’s agriculture and lumber industries and lead to annexation. British Columbians agreed and elected Conservatives in all seven constituencies. Borden invited him to join the cabinet. McBride declined but visited Ottawa to discuss provincial matters, including the creation of an impartial body to investigate claims for better terms. Despite Borden’s sympathy, difficulties in selecting a chairman and determining exact terms of reference delayed establishment of the commission, which would become a casualty of war.
Although financial matters were at the heart of the call for better terms, McBride believed in the principle of provincial rights. In 1896 he had opposed Conservative policy on the Manitoba school question [see Thomas Greenway*]. He quarrelled with the Laurier government over fisheries management, federal lands in the Railway Belt and Peace River district, and the construction plans of the federally subsidized Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Through his control of lands that the company needed for a terminal, he successfully pressed for the simultaneous beginning of construction on the Pacific coast and in the east and against the employment of Asians.
Disputes over Indian lands and Asian immigration suited anti-Ottawa campaigns and, like the agitation for better terms, transcended intraprovincial rivalries. They also reveal that the premier shared the racial ideas of British Columbia voters. McBride’s approach to Indian peoples, whom he had known from his boyhood and legal practice and with whom he could converse in Chinook Jargon, was paternalistic. As a young lawyer he got a charge of murder reduced to manslaughter because his drunken client “was an Indian.” He believed the Indians had “been treated fairly and equitably,” and thought they “should play a very important part in the material advancement and welfare of the community.”
Although only a small portion of British Columbia was set aside as Indian reserves, some of those tracts were close to growing cities or in areas with mineral prospects. McBride, like his contemporaries, maintained that if the native peoples were not using reserve lands, Ottawa should turn them over to the province. He contended the province had a “reversionary right” to lands which ceased to be Indian reserves and encouraged negotiations whereby the Songhees in Victoria and the “Kitsilano” Squamish in Vancouver sold their reserves for development as industrial sites. His dealings with the Songhees were so smooth, they made him an honorary chief when they turned over their land at a 1911 ceremony. McBride, however, had no sympathy for those chiefs who in 1911 told him that “the Indian Tribes still hold the aboriginal title to the unsurrendered lands of the Province.” His response that there was “no question to submit to the courts” did not please the chiefs, who were beginning to take political action. Under pressure from the new Borden government, McBride agreed with James Andrew Joseph McKenna, Ottawa’s special commissioner, to have a royal commission adjust the size of reserves. Although it was known as the McKenna–McBride commission, McBride was not a member, and by the time it reported in 1916 he had retired from the premiership.
McBride claimed to stand “for all the people of British Columbia irrespective of creed or occupation”; as his views on Indian lands suggest, that stand was not irrespective of race. He shared the widespread belief in “a white B.C.,” called for “Mongolian exclusion,” and sought to shut out the “Asiatic hordes.” His particular concern was “cheap” Japanese labour competing in the fisheries and in “everything the white man has been used to call his own.” He endorsed anti-Asian measures in order to bring the “Asian problem” to the attention of eastern Canadians, and he employed the federal government’s repeated disallowance of the province’s legislation on the matter, notably the so-called Natal Acts which imposed a language test on prospective immigrants, in his “Fight Ottawa” crusade. After the Conservatives formed the federal government in 1911, he urged Borden to honour a promise to legislate against immigration from Asia. By then McBride also perceived a Japanese military threat.
Neither Indians nor Asians could vote. White working men, if they were British subjects, could. McBride realized that “unless due regard in the way of legislation was paid to the workingmen of the Province, the consequences might be disastrous for the country.” In his first term he could not rely on all Conservatives and depended on James Hurst Hawthornthwaite*, a member of the Socialist Party of Canada, to such an extent that the opposition called Hawthornthwaite “British Columbia’s premier-in-fact.” McBride did not adopt every Socialist or Labour proposal, but his government made changes those parties wanted such as prison reform and higher taxes on corporations and property. Although he did not have to rely on Socialist and Labour support after the 1907 election, in the 1909 campaign he cited the introduction of free school-books and the inclusion of fair-wage clauses in railway contracts as examples of his government’s attention to the needs of labouring men. He stressed that his policy was “not for the workingman alone nor for the capitalist exclusively. It was for the people of the province.” To investigate a variety of labour problems he announced the formation of a royal commission on labour late in 1912. McBride said the commission had nothing to do with strikes, but it was appointed shortly after Vancouver Island coalminers began a major strike. That work stoppage, according to some critics, was partly the result of McBride’s failure – he had been minister of mines since 5 Nov. 1903 – to investigate alleged discrimination against men who reported gas in the mines. Although willing to mediate, McBride played only a small role in the dispute which ended in August 1914. Despite the importance of resources in the provincial economy, the mines ministry was a secondary interest.
Beyond boasting of the province’s “practically illimitable” timber wealth, McBride left forest policy largely to his ministers of lands. His administration tried several experiments and in 1912 drew up a Forest Act based on the recommendations of a royal commission on timber and forestry. The act introduced innovative plans for forest conservation but McBride was no more successful than his predecessors in devising regulations to provide maximum government revenue while preventing speculation. Liberals repeatedly referred to a “prolonged potlatch” in the forests; McBride weakly replied there was no “speculation in timber, or at least any more than every ordinary man was a speculator.”
The opposition also charged that the government let timber speculators hold agricultural land and generally did little to assist genuine settlers. McBride defended his land sales policy by explaining the need for revenue but his government set aside more land for pre-emptors. To pacify unhappy farmers, McBride appointed a royal commission on agriculture in 1912. Unfortunately, the collapse of the real estate boom meant speculators could not pay taxes and the government could not afford to introduce the commission’s main recommendation, a rural credit program.
McBride often noted how railways were opening areas to settlement. Whether they introduced new rail service or competed with the Canadian Pacific or American lines, they were popular. Because of opposition to land subsidies, provincial aid was in the form of cash or of bond guarantees. Initially, McBride could promise only to “secure railways, but not . . . cumber the statute books with useless railway legislation.” In 1905–6 provincial financial resources were limited, Tatlow exercised a restraining hand, and according to the Pinkerton detectives McBride hired, his caucus favoured help for a railway from the coast to the Kootenay district but was split between supporters of the Great Northern Railroad and the CPR. Thus, McBride introduced no railway plans but happily observed that railways were under construction anyway.
By 1909 the province was almost debt free. McBride began talking of “the need of more railways, especially more transcontinental railways,” and of negotiations with the Canadian Northern Railway, which had an extensive network on the prairies. To no one’s great surprise, on 19 Oct. 1909 he announced that his government would guarantee interest on bonds issued by the Canadian Northern to build from Yellowhead Pass to Vancouver with connections via fast ferry to a line from Victoria to Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast. For the southern interior, McBride announced a subsidy to the Kettle River Valley Railway. For the rest of the province, he promised that the Canadian Northern was merely the forerunner of a progressive railway policy. Two cabinet ministers, Tatlow and Frederick John Fulton, resigned in protest. The voters, however, liked railways and gave the Conservatives all but 4 of the legislature’s 42 seats in the election of 25 November.
By 1911, with the Grand Trunk Pacific building in the north, British Columbians became increasingly interested in the resources of the Peace River district. On 20 Feb. 1912 McBride presented “the second instalment” of his railway policy. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway, with the help of government-guaranteed bonds, would link the lower mainland with the north and the province would provide aid to complete the Kettle Valley line, Canadian Northern branches in the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island, and some CPR lines in the southern interior. A few days later he called a general election for 28 March. Although he mentioned progress on perennial issues such as better terms and Asian immigration, the campaign was chiefly about railways. The Conservatives won all but two seats. Despite a tightening of the London money-markets, an optimistic McBride corresponded with the governor of Alaska and the American secretary of state about extending the Pacific Great Eastern to Alaska.
While he wanted to develop relations with the United States, McBride enthusiastically supported Canada’s “proud position” in the British empire. He favoured closer unity within the empire, even the creation of an imperial assembly to deal with defence and foreign affairs. “Every man who calls himself a Canadian is British as well,” he explained. As a British Columbian he linked support for an imperial navy with a call in 1911 for the creation of a Canadian fleet unit, a naval base, and shipyards – all on Canada’s Pacific coast. When the naval race with Germany accelerated, he became less convinced of the practicality of forming a Canadian navy and enthusiastically endorsed Borden’s proposal to make a cash contribution to the imperial one. After the Senate rejected Borden’s Naval Aid Bill in 1913, McBride suggested Senate reform and a Canadian birthday gift to the king of three Dreadnoughts.
On the outbreak of the European war in August 1914, he acted quickly. If rumours of German ships in the North Pacific were true, the coast would be vulnerable. On his own initiative he advanced $1,150,000 of provincial funds to buy two submarines from a shipyard in Seattle, Wash. The vessels were quickly transferred at cost price to the federal government, although early in 1915 William Pugsley*, a former minister in Laurier’s cabinet, insinuated that some money had found its way into Conservative party funds. A federal royal commission eventually determined that the whole transaction was “of blameless character,” but vindication came after McBride had retired from the premiership.
The submarine affair was one nuisance; another was increasing pressure for progressive reforms such as women’s suffrage and prohibition. McBride never believed in the former and tried to evade the latter by resorting to non-binding plebiscites. There were also problems with the cabinet. In May 1914 the ever-optimistic McBride said that Dominion Trust was “a most responsible company”; in October its manager shot himself and the company was facing liquidation. Unfortunately the Vancouver law firm of William John Bowser* had served as solicitors for it while Attorney General Bowser, who was acting premier during McBride’s more frequent and longer absences from Victoria, was responsible for trust companies. Disgruntled depositors criticized the conflict of interest. Bowser, however, persuaded the legislature that his department acted as soon as it suspected trouble. The minister of finance and agriculture, Price Ellison, was less successful. He bought some cattle and horses from the Colony Farm of the Provincial Mental Hospital but could not convince the public that he had paid a fair price for them. McBride was concerned about the public image of his administration; Ellison resigned.
Although these were serious distractions, the real problem was a rapidly deteriorating economy. Government revenues had begun falling in 1913 and many payments for land purchases were in arrears. The Canadian Northern and Pacific Great Eastern railways had grave difficulties raising funds to continue construction. Even though some supporters questioned the wisdom of taking on additional liabilities, McBride was anxious to aid railway construction in order to ease unemployment. The desperate situation of the Canadian Northern across Canada forced the federal government to relieve its creditors of a potentially enormous liability but the Pacific Great Eastern was strictly a provincial problem. To keep its crews at work, McBride forwarded funds even though the railway had not met its contractual obligations to earn them.
Just after the prorogation of the 1915 session, McBride announced the legislature would be dissolved for a general election on 10 April. Expecting “a good fight,” he asked voters to consider his record especially relating to provincial development and the new Agricultural Act that provided for government loans to homesteaders. Two days later he postponed the election indefinitely. The excuse was unexpected difficulty in revising the voters’ lists and getting ballot boxes to remote areas; the real reason was a caucus divided over further aid to the Pacific Great Eastern.
The government was increasingly vulnerable. Shortly after cancelling the election McBride embarked on a three-month sojourn in Ottawa, New York, and London. Since 1911, when he represented the province at the coronation of George V, he had spent at least several weeks each year in London ostensibly on provincial government business, notably seeking investment, but also enjoying the companionship of imperially minded British politicians, country weekends, and dinner parties. In 1915 he was ill part of the time but he visited Canadian troops, promoted sales of lumber and fish, and got a “cool reception” from financiers. For over a year, rumours had circulated that he would leave the premiership and go to London, either as Canada’s high commissioner or as British Columbia’s agent general. Early in November, in a handwritten note McBride informed Borden of his plan to go as agent general to “follow conditions . . . closely” and secure medical treatment. If his health improved, he hoped to run as a Conservative candidate in the next federal election, a prospect which Borden welcomed though he offered McBride a Senate seat.
On his 45th birthday, 15 Dec. 1915, McBride announced his resignation and was replaced as premier by Bowser. The opposition press complained that “the late pilot has not guided his vessel to an untroubled anchorage”; Conservative papers declared he “typified the progressive, democratic spirit of this new land” while admitting he was not “without some blemishes.” Friends and foes agreed he had “a thorough knowledge of this province, . . . an attractive personality, is uniformly courteous and has an enviable gift for making friends.” Indeed, affability was a key to Richard McBride’s political successes. His tall, well-built frame, topped by a curly head of hair that was sprinkled with grey when he first took office but soon turned pure white, led one writer to suggest “no man could be as wise as McBride looked.” Though he appeared robust, his health often failed him after strenuous activities such as election campaigns.
Early in January 1916 McBride left Victoria for London where he oversaw the completion and leasing of office space in British Columbia House, promoted sales of lumber and fish, attempted to arrange shipping for lumber, entertained Canadian soldiers, and supervised the overseas soldiers’ vote in the 1916 provincial election, which included a plebiscite on prohibition. Whether caused by McBride’s illness, partisanship, ineptitude, or all three, the irregularities in this plebiscite so marred it that the new Liberal government of Harlan Carey Brewster disregarded most of it.
During the spring of 1917, the nephritis and diabetes from which McBride had suffered for several years worsened and he lost his sight. On 15 May 1917 he resigned; less than three months later he was dead. His family returned to Victoria, where McBride was tendered a public funeral from St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. He bequeathed an insolvent estate to his family. No doubt he had had opportunities to make a personal fortune. But even a political enemy, the Victoria Daily Times, correctly observed that the premier’s salary was relatively small and the cost of “living up to the requirements of the position” high. It noted that McBride had had no money when he entered politics and because he was an honest man was unlikely to become a rich one. The Times was correct. When he became premier he was already getting dunning letters from bankers. As premier, he had to donate to many charitable causes and to party funds, he made some unwise property investments, and he co-signed notes for many “who called themselves friends” but unloaded their financial burdens on his shoulders.
McBride’s personal insolvency reflected his endless faith in people and his confidence in the future of British Columbia. A journalist friend reported that he was “always looking to the future, and his optimism is so great that nothing is too big for the Province.” He was not alone in his railway mania. Although the opposition alleged corruption in McBride’s dealing with the railways, this accusation was never thoroughly examined in the case of the Canadian Northern. After the Liberals formed the government in 1916, a legislative committee investigated the Pacific Great Eastern. It concluded that the agreement between the province and the railway and its contractors was improper and illegal, that the government paid out money for work undone, and, despite McBride’s specific denial, that some money went to Conservative campaign funds. There was, however, evidence of Bowser and others making McBride a scapegoat.
In devising railway policies that promised something for most sections of the province and in referring the choice of a university site to an independent commission composed of highly reputable educationists from outside the province, McBride displayed his skill in dealing with intraprovincial rivalries. Though he deprecated sectionalism, and complained of “little Islanders” fomenting anti-mainland feeling, his many tours of the province and the repeated requests he received for favours and appropriations from all parts of British Columbia constantly reminded him of it. Yet he tried to rise above it. Although he was the mla for Victoria after 1907, he refused the city a provincial grant for beautifying its harbour, explaining that parts of the province still lacked roads and schools. He could occasionally afford to deny favours because the adoption of party lines and a judicious distribution of patronage had established a relatively stable government. He did not, however, leave the Conservative party in good shape. The Bowser administration lost all but nine seats to Brewster’s Liberals in the September 1916 election.
McBride was not an original thinker. Given large-scale British immigration, his imperialism found much sympathy. He also shared popular attitudes about native peoples and Asians. In his optimism he was a man of his times. Friends recognized that he had the “imagination and tact” to grasp “the opportunity of which others failed to take advantage.” Unfortunately, when the economy declined and opportunities were wanting, he lacked the creativity and physical stamina to adapt to new circumstances or to adopt popular ideas such as prohibition and women’s suffrage.
Some scholars share Stephen Gray’s view that McBride’s government was the “embodiment of Old Corruption,” but a more balanced assessment is Margaret A. Ormsby’s pithy observation that, “more than anyone else,” McBride “typified the spirit of the age: the optimism which verged on recklessness.” In the short run McBride succeeded because he understood his native province, its electors, and their aspirations; in the longer term he was too much a British Columbian of his era for his own good or that of the province.
[The papers relating to McBride in the premiers’ papers at BCARS, GR 441, are voluminous but largely routine. His own papers at BCARS, Add. mss 347, include a confidential letter-book and some private material in a small collection of correspondence and papers belonging to his secretary, Lottie Mabel Bowron. Letters relating to McBride may also be found in the NA in the papers of other politicians, notably those of Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (MG 27, II, C2; mfm. of originals held at the Arch. Seigneuriales de Lotbinière, Leclerville, Qué.), Sir Robert Borden (MG 26, H), and Sir Wilfrid Laurier (MG 26, G).
Newspapers are an essential source. There was no provincial Hansard but the major Victoria and Vancouver dailies covered the legislature. Most had strong political biases. Throughout most of McBride’s political career, the Victoria Daily Colonist and the Vancouver Daily News-Advertiser were Conservative; the Victoria Daily Times, the Vancouver Daily World, and the Morning Sun and its successor the Vancouver Daily Sun were Liberal. The least partisan of the dailies, the Vancouver Daily Province originally favoured the Liberals, but moved towards the Conservatives. For McBride’s early life, the New Westminster British Columbian is indispensable. By the time he became premier it was firmly in the Conservative camp. The hinterland dailies and weeklies are especially useful for covering matters of particular interest to their region and elections. They vary greatly in their coverage of routine provincial events.
The best secondary source on McBride is the relevant chapters in M. A. Ormsby, British Columbia: a history ([Toronto], 1958; [rev. ed.], 1971). One of Ormsby’s research assistants, Brian R. D. Smith, is the author of “Sir Richard McBride; a study in the Conservative party of British Columbia, 1903–1916” (ma thesis, Queen’s Univ., Kingston, Ont., 1960). Another useful thesis is P. R. Hunt, “The political career of Sir Richard McBride” (ma thesis, Univ. of B.C., Vancouver, 1953).
As well as these overviews, several books and articles touch on aspects of McBride’s premiership. R. E. Cail, Land, man and the law: the disposal of crown lands in British Columbia, 1871–1913 (Vancouver, 1974), introduces the land and resource policies of the province, but it is not likely to be the last word on the subject. In “The government’s timber business: forest policy and administration in British Columbia, 1912–1928,” BC Studies, no.81 (spring 1989): 24–49, Stephen Gray sketches the policy. The chapter on British Columbia in R. P. Gillis and T. R. Roach, Lost initiatives: Canada’s forest industries, forest policy and forest conservation (Westport, Conn., 1986), has a detailed account of problems of forest policy.
There is a considerable amount of material on Indian lands in E. B. Titley, A narrow vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the administration of Indian Affairs in Canada (Vancouver, 1986), and in Paul Tennant, Aboriginal peoples and politics: the Indian land question in British Columbia, 1849–1989 (Vancouver, 1990). Information about the policies of McBride’s government towards Chinese and Japanese appears in several chapters of P. E. Roy, A white man’s province: British Columbia politicians and Chinese and Japanese immigrants, 1858–1914 (Vancouver, 1989).
McBride’s railway policies are examined in P. E. Roy, “Progress, prosperity and politics: the railway policies of Richard McBride,” BC Studies, no.47 (autumn 1980): 3–28. His skill in dealing with sectional rivalries in the case of the university site emerges from a reading of R. C. Harris, “Locating the University of British Columbia,” BC Studies, no.32 (winter 1976–77): 106–25.
The introductory chapter of Jean Barman, Growing up British in British Columbia: boys in private school, 1900–1950 (Vancouver, 1984), describes the “Britishness” of McBride’s British Columbia. The fullest account of McBride’s submarines is found in G. N. Tucker, The naval service of Canada; its official history (2v., Ottawa, 1952), 1. p.e.r.]