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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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‘Hanging Judge’ Matthew Begbie

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Described as a ‘swashbuckling judge’, Chief Justice Matthew Begbie profoundly shaped BC.  Sir Matthew Begbie and his friend BC governor Sir James Douglas have ‘larger-than-life’ statues at the BC Legislature entrance.  As founding fathers of BC, both Begbie and Douglas were Scots born in the tropics who became bilingual in French while studying in England.

As a child, I first heard of Begbie while on vacation at Barkerville.  Actors still pretend to be Judge Begbie, telling of life when Barkerville was the biggest town west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

After five years at Cambridge and fourteen years as a lawyer, Begbie was sent to BC at age 39 in response to the 1858 flood of 30,000 American miners from San Francisco.  BC was literally birthed through gold-diggers who panned $543,000 of Fraser River gold in one year.  Most miners stayed a year or less, never putting down roots in BC’s ‘boom or bust’ beginnings.  While a few struck it rich, most came up near empty, spending their gold on wine, women and song.

Without Judge Begbie establishing order on the BC frontier, all hell would have broken loose.  Leading American mining journals in 1863 were already referring to the Fraser River as ‘Our Territory’.  Begbie showed unusual strength and stamina in his work, often travelling by foot and sleeping in a tent so damp that his books mildewed.  Six feet four inches tall with a Van Dyke beard, a gaucho hat, and a long black cloak, Begbie was a commanding figure.

A deeply spiritual man and long-time church-choir member, he loved to read the Anglican Evening Prayer service by campfire, singing hymns before going to his tent.  Even when holding court on a stump under a tree, he wore formal robes.  For twelve years, Begbie was BC’s only judge, travelling two-thirds of the year, and sometimes doing double-duty as a postman!  Because of Begbie’s firm fairness, incidences of violence and highway robberies, all common below the border, were extremely rare in BC.

The ‘hanging judge’ expression was never applied to Begbie during his lifetime, but rather was an overstatement. As historian David Williams puts it, Begbie was ‘an extremely humane, literate, generous, humorous and fair-minded man’.  He abhorred the taking of life.  While vacationing, Begbie met an American former jurist.  The American said: ‘You certainly did some hanging, judge.’  Begbie memorably replied: ‘Excuse me, my good friend.  I never hanged any man.  I simply swore in good American citizens, like yourself, as jurymen, and it was you who hanged your fellow citizens.’  In the BC Place Names (1997) book, it states that Judge Begbie ‘by firmness, impartiality and sheer force of personality maintained British law and order…’  Angered by the acquittal of an armed robber, Begbie said to the prisoner: ‘The jurymen say you are not guilty, but with that I do not agree.  It is now my duty to set you free and I warn you not to pursue your evil ways, but if you ever again should be so inclined, I hope you select your victim from the men who acquitted you.’

Judge Begbie, conversant in four different aboriginal BC languages, had a real heart for the First Nations people whom he praised as ‘a race of laborious independent workers.’  Begbie also advocated for the Chinese miners who often suffered from racism.  He was concerned that legal justice be fair and speedy, regardless of race, colour, or wealth.  Begbie was known as ‘the salvation of the Cariboo and the terror of rowdies.’  Fellow pioneers agreed that Judge Begbie was ‘just the man for a new country’.  “My hair is white, but my hand is strong, and my heart is not weak.  If I punish only a little,” said Begbie, “it is not because I am weak, nor because I am afraid, but because I wish to change your hearts.”  “

When Judge Begbie died in 1894, his two favorite hymns were sung: ‘Just as I am’ and ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say’.  Since the death of Governor Douglas in 1877, Judge Begbie had indisputably become the first citizen of BC.  The size of the Victoria funeral procession was unprecedented with military bands and marching troops, but all that Sir Matthew Begbie wanted on his gravestone was ‘Lord be Merciful to Me a Sinner’.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Colonel Moody and The Port Next Door

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Have you ever given thanks for Colonel Richard Moody and the Royal Engineers who defended us in BC’s first war? Have you ever even heard of BC’s first war?

In 1858, Colonel Moody’s troops steamed north along the Fraser River to Yale on the Enterprise.  Ned McGowan had led a vigilante gang to falsely imprison the Yale Justice of the Peace, PB Whannel.  Ned McGowan had great influence with the vigilantes, as he was both a former Philadelphia Police superintendent implicated in a bank robbery and a former California judge acquitted on a murder charge.  Without Moody’s intervention, the fear was that BC would be quickly annexed to the USA by Ned McGowan’s gang.

Upon arriving in Yale, Colonel Moody and his Sappers from Sapperton were unexpectedly received with ‘vociferous cheering and every sign of respect and loyalty’.  No shots were even fired!  Matthew Begbie the so-called ‘Hanging Judge’, in his first-ever BC Court case, fined McGowan a small amount of £5 for assault, after which he sold his gold-rush stake and promptly returned to California.  BC Premier Armor de Cosmos said of ‘Ned McGowan’s War’  that BC had ‘her first war- so cheap- all for nothing…BC must feel pleased with herself.’

Born on Feb 13 1803 in Barbados, Colonel Moody became the second-most important leader in the formation of BC.  Like our first BC Governor James Douglas who was born in British Guyana, Moody brought Caribbean ingenuity and vision to the frontiers of Western Canada.

Moody had entered the army at an early age.  Moody’s father Thomas was also a Colonel in the Royal Engineers. A graduate of the Royal Academy at Woolich, Moody joined the Royal Engineers in 1830 and served in Ireland and the West Indies, as well as a professor in Woolich.  After Moody had been sick twice from yellow fever, he drew plans submitted to Queen Victoria for restoring Edinburgh Castle.

In 1841 he went to the Falkland Islands as Lieutenant Governor, later Governor where he stayed until 1849.  In 1858 Moody was appointed Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and Lieutenant Governor of the new colony of BC.  Moody was soon sworn in as Deputy to Douglas on the mainland and empowered to take his place, if anything should happen to the Governor.

Moody’s role in the colony was two-fold: to provide military support and to carry out major building projects with the Government considered necessary to keep up with a sudden growth in population and commerce.

Moody’s Sappers were specially trained in surveying, reconnaissance, and constructing roads, bridges, and fortifications.  They represented many trades such as printers, draughtsmen, photographers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and masons.

Colonel Moody and his sappers were sent to BC because of the 1858 BC Goldrush.  On April 25th 1858, 495 gold-rush miners arrived in Victoria.  Governor James Douglas commented that ‘they are represented as being with some exceptions a specimen of the worst of the population of San Francisco – the very dregs in fact of society.’  By the middle of July 1858, the number of American miners exceeded 30,000.  Rev. Lundin Brown held that ‘never in the migration of men had there been seen such a rush, so sudden and so vast.’

Colonel Moody personally chose BC’s first Capital New Westminster, established the Cariboo Wagon Road, and gave us the incalculable gift of Stanley Park.  Moody also named Burnaby Lake (of Burnaby City) after his private secretary Robert Burnaby, and named Port Coquitlam’s 400-foot ‘Mary Hill’ after his dear wife ‘Mary’.

Thanks to Captain George H. Richards who thoroughly surveyed the BC Coast, Colonel Moody’s name has been immortalized in BC history with the city of Port Moody.  The city was established from the end of a trail cut by the Royal Engineers, now known as North Road to connect New Westminster with Burrard Inlet.  Port Moody was developed to defend New Westminster from potential attack from the USA. The town grew rapidly after 1859, following land grants to Moody’s Royal Engineers who then settled there.  All of the officers returned to England, but most of the sappers and their families chose to remain, accepting 150-acre land grants as compensation.  Port Moody was the Canadian Pacific Railway’s original western terminus.

In 1863 Colonel Moody planned to cut a trail from New Westminster to Jericho Beach due west, but Lieutenant Governor Douglas was very much in opposition.  Of this venture, the matter was taken to the Colonial House, London, England, and permission was granted for Colonel Moody to proceed with the trail.  Unfortunately he ran out of money before completion and the trail ended at Burrard Inlet.

Moody’s Royal Engineer detachment was disbanded by Governor James Douglas in 1863.  Only 15 men accompanied Colonel Moody back to England, with the remainder settling in the new colony. These men formed the nucleus of the volunteer soldiers that led to the formation of the BC Regiment twenty years later.

Colonel Moody left his mark not only in the physical but also in the spiritual.  At the conclusion of BC’s ‘Ned McGowan War’, as it was Sunday morning, Colonel Moody invited forty miners to join him at the courthouse for worship.  As no clergy was present, Colonel Moody himself led worship from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

“It was the first time in British Columbia that the Liturgy of our Church was read,” wrote Moody.  “To me God in his mercy granted this privilege.  The room was crowded with Hill’s Bar men…old grey-bearded men, young eager-eyed men, stern middle-aged men of all nations knelt with me before the throne of Grace…”  My prayer for those reading this article is that like Colonel Moody, each of us may leave a lasting impact not only in the physical but also the spiritual.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

 -Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca