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British Columbia general election, 1882

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British Columbia general election, 1882

This was the third election held after British Columbia became a province of Canada on July 20, 1871.

Political context

Issues and debates

Non-party system

There were to be no political parties in the new province. The designations "Government" and "Opposition" and "Independent" (and variations on these) functioned in place of parties, but they were very loose and do not represent formal coalitions, more alignments of support during the campaign. "Government" meant in support of the current Premier; "Opposition" meant campaigning against him, and often enough the Opposition would win and immediately become the Government. The Elections British Columbia notes for this election describe the designations as "Government (GOV.) candidates supported the administration of G.A.B. Walkem. Those opposed ran as Reform (REF.), Opposition (OPP.), Independent Reform (IND.REF.), or Independent Opposition (IND.OPP.) candidates. Those who ran as straight Independents (IND.) were sometimes described as Government supporters (IND./GOV.).

The Beaven and Smithe governments

The election was precipitated by the resignation of Robert Beaven, who managed to retain the reins of government though not with as much support as had been enjoyed by Walkem. His government lasted only about seven months, after which William Smithe became Premier due to shifting loyalties in the House, seeking and winning approval in the next election in May 1886.

Byelections not shown

Any changes due to byelections are shown below the main table showing the theoretical composition of the House after the election. A final table showing the composition of the House at the dissolution of the Legislature at the end of this Parliament can be found below the byelections. The main table represents the immediate results of the election only, not changes in governing coalitions or eventual changes due to byelections.

List of ridings

The original ridings were increased by one (Cassiar) and Cowichan was reduced to a one-member seat, although the total of 25 members remained. There were no political parties were not acceptable in the House by convention, though some members were openly partisan at the federal level (usually Conservative, although both Liberal and Labour allegiance were on display by some candidates).

These ridings were:

Polling conditions

Natives (First Nations) and Chinese were disallowed from voting, although naturalized Kanakas (Hawaiian colonists) and American and West Indian blacks and certain others participated. The requirement that knowledge of English be spoken for balloting was discussed but not applied.

Results by riding

Results of British Columbia general election, 1882
Government Opposition
Member Riding
& party
Riding
& party
Member
     Robert McLeese Cariboo
Government
          Cariboo
Independent
Opposition
George Cowan     
     William Munro Dingwall Comox
Government
          Charles Wilson     
     Hans Lars Helgesen Esquimalt
Government
          Cassiar
Opposition
John Grant     
     Robert Leslie Thomas Galbraith Kootenay
Government
          Cowichan
Opposition
William Smithe     
     William James Armstrong New Westminster City
Government
          Esquimalt
Opposition
Charles Edward Pooley     
     Robert Beaven 1 Victoria City
Government
          Lillooet
Opposition
Edward Allen     
     Alexander Edmund Batson Davie     
     Nanaimo
Opposition
Robert Dunsmuir     
     William Raybould     
     New Westminster
Opposition
James Orr     
     John Robson     
     New Westminster City
Opposition
William James Armstrong     
     Victoria
Opposition
Robert Franklin John     
     George Archibald McTavish     
     Victoria City
Opposition
Theodore Davie     
     Simeon Duck     
     Montague William Tyrwhitt-Drake     
     Yale
Opposition
Preston Bennett     
     John Andrew Mara     
1 Premier-Elect and Incumbent Premier      Charles Augustus Semlin     
Source: Elections BC 1882 Results

Byelections

As customary, byelections were held to confirm the appointment of various members to the Executive Council (cabinet).

Smithe's byelection acclamation confirmed him as Premier; Executive Council appointments were decided and made by the Lieutenant-Governor in this period, not by the Premier directly, but by the L-G in Consultation with the Premier (as still is the case, though only as a formal technicality, not in practice). The Premier's position itself was technically an appointment, as there were no political parties nor leaders, other than unofficial ones for each faction in the House to whom the Lieutenant-Governor would turn if their known caucus was sufficient to form a government.

Other byelections were held on the occasion of death, ill health, retirement and/or resignation for other reasons. These were won by:

  • James Cunningham, New Westminster City, April 21, 1884, byelection held upon J. Armstrong's appointment as Sherriff April 5, 1884
  • Yale, October 13, 1882, byelection held because of death of P. Bennett August 9, 1882

Composition of House at dissolution

Note: Government/Opposition status applies to candidate at time of election in 1882, not at time of dissolution in 1886.

Composition of 4th British Columbia Parliament at Dissolution, 1886
Government Opposition
Member Riding
& party
Riding
& party
Member
     Robert McLeese Cariboo
Government
          Cariboo
Independent
Opposition
George Cowan     
     William Munro Dingwall Comox
Government
          Charles Wilson     
     Hans Lars Helgesen Esquimalt
Government
          Cassiar
Opposition
John Grant     
     Robert Leslie Thomas Galbraith Kootenay
Government
          Cowichan
Opposition
William Smithe1     
     Ebenezer Brown New Westminster City
Government
          Esquimalt
Opposition
Charles Edward Pooley     
     Preston Bennett Yale
Government
          Lillooet
Opposition
Edward Allen     
     John Andrew Mara           Alexander Edmund Batson Davie     
     Forbes George Vernon           New Westminster
Opposition
James Orr     
     Robert Beaven Victoria City
Government
          John Robson     
     New Westminster City
Opposition
James Cunningham     
     Victoria
Opposition
Robert Franklin John     
     George Archibald McTavish     
     Victoria City
Opposition
Theodore Davie     
     Simeon Duck     
     Montague William Tyrwhitt-Drake     
     Yale
Opposition
George Bohun Martin     
     John Andrew Mara     
     Charles Augustus Semlin     
1Premier at Dissolution
Note: Government/Opposition/Independent Designations in this table are not indicative of house alignment at dissolution. This is because those who had been Opposition at the time of the election in 1882 may (or may not) have been part of the outgoing government bench at the time of dissolution.
Source: Elections BC

Further reading & references

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