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History Pre-confederation (to 1867)

The Terror of the Coast

Land Alienation and Colonial War on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, 1849-1863

by (author) Chris Arnett

Initial publish date
Jan 2016
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), British Columbia (BC), Native American
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1999
    List Price

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On April 20, 1863, the British naval gunboat Forward attacked a Native village on Kuper Island. The naval officers believed that the village harboured individuals involved in two recent assaults against European transients in the Gulf Islands. The gunboat fired on the village and was repulsed with casualties after a fierce battle with a handful of warriors. Following this defeat, the colonial government responded with one of the largest military operations in the history of British Columbia, which took place on the east coast of Vancouver Island and extended throughout the waters and islands of Active Pass, Trincomalee Channel and Stuart Channel, from Saturna Island north to Comox.

Previously ignored or misunderstood by historians, the war between the Hwulmuhw or “People of the Land” and the colonial government of British Columbia remains of utmost significance in today’s world of unsettled First Nations land claims. Chris Arnett reconstructs the fascinating account of the events of 1863 using newspaper editorials, letters and articles; government and police correspondence; naval ship logs; and “Letters of Proceedings.” He demonstrates how the first treaty process initiated by the colonial government ended in military action. After the war of 1863, Aboriginal land continued to be alienated and Native jurisdiction eroded throughout British Columbia—leaving an inequity that remains unresolved almost a century and a half later.

About the author

Chris Arnett
Author and carver Chris Arnett is a fourth-generation British Columbian on his mother’s side and a member of the Ngai Tahu, a New Zealand Maori tribe, on his father’s side. With a lifelong interest in the prehistory and history of British Columbia and New Zealand, he has researched the archeology of the Stein River Valley for the “Nlaka’pamux Nation Development Corporation and has worked for the Sooke Region Museum and Archives on a historical survey of logging on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast, which was published in 1989.

Beryl Mildred Cryer
In addition to many newspaper articles on aboriginal myths and history, Beryl Mildred Cryer published one small book, Legends of the Cowichans, in 1949. She died in Welland, Ontario, in 1980.

Chris Arnett's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The Terror of the Coast is an excellent example of the sort of penetrating research and analysis now being published outside the university press community. It will become a valued reference for Northwest Coast scholars as well as an engaging textbook for … students.”
—Canadian Historical Review

“A lengthy and well-referenced book that adds an important chapter to B.C. history … Convincingly show[s] the ‘Colonial War’ of 1863 was one more disgraceful event in the still-evolving colonization of what was later to become British Columbia.”
—BC Bookworld

“This meticulously researched book is a scholarly yet compelling account of a neglected and shameful chapter in British Columbia’s history.”— Canadian Book Review Annual

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