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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

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Colonel Moody and his Port

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 North Shore

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

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

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If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our 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.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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 etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-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 

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

-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

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.