Cowichan has had its own share of land disputes

The recent momentous Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing First Nations title to a specific tract of land has been termed one of the most significant decisions the

Supreme Court has ever rendered in an aboriginal rights case.

Land title conflicts in Canada go back almost to the arrival of the first

Europeans and the Cowichan Valley was no exception.

In June 1865, the issue was brought to the boil by, of all things, settlers’ pigs which, allowed to roam freely, ravaged their Cowichan neighbours’ crops.

"The old story of the settlers’ pigs destroying the Indians’ potato crops has again come up," reported the British Colonist, "and His Excellency [Gov. A.E. Kennedy] is anxious that a difficulty which may lead to something more serious should be adjusted while there is yet time…

"But what is to be done? His Excellency prescribes fencing in the pigs. Some of the members of the House [of Assembly] say-fence in the land… All things…considered, the latter course approaches nearer what is required.

"To fence in the pigs would be virtually to put a stop to hog raising, one of the most profitable occupations of the settler in the outlying districts. It was shown clearly yesterday in the House that so long as pigs could roam over waste or unfenced land there was no great outlay to keep them; but let them be confined within a fence, and the owner would have to go to the expense and trouble of raising feed for their sustenance.

"On the other hand, it was contended that if no steps were taken to keep the hogs from molesting the potatoes, serious disturbances would arise. Well, we can neither afford to discourage the settler nor precipitate a war with the Indians. While, therefore, allowing the pigs in the outlying districts to roam about untrammelled, the Executive should see that the native crops are not interfered with…

"The House has really no business with enclosing Crown or Indian lands; yet this is what must be done if the hogs are to be kept away…"

The newspaper adamantly opposed spending public funds: "… We do not expect to witness the Executive pay fencing in of the Indian lands; but we do desire that every aid consistent with the responsibilities of human beings should be given to the native tribes. Let them be impressed with the necessity of enclosing their cultivated patches in the same manner as the white man’s. [The settlers fenced their own gardens!-TWP] Let every instruction and advice be rendered them; but let not the Government show a disposition to assume any of their duties or responsibilities. The Indian if

he is ever to do himself or the country any good, must be made self-reliant, and the sooner this policy is inaugurated the better.

"Let him be taught that it is his duty to fence in his own land, and that as [fencing] will be rather a novelty to him, the Government will grant him every aid, so far as advice or instruction goes. But on no account let him feel that he is both helpless and neglected."

William Smithe, a Somenos settler who’d go on to become premier, wrote the Colonist: "…To attempt to fence the numerous private patches, scattered as they are at present over the whole valley would be absurd."

He suggested that the Colony allocate six 100-acre plots for the Cowichans to garden as these could be fenced in-by them and at their cost, estimated at $2,000.

"Unless something of this sort be done, I think it best to adopt [a] let them alone system, or if something must be one, let someone in authority order the Indians to fence their potato patches; they stand sufficiently in awe of the powers that be to obey if they fancy those powers are serious and mean what they say."

Three weeks later, the Colonist reported that Nature had joined the fray, having learned from "a settler" that Cowichan crops were looking very well but "suffering very much from the ravages of caterpillars and grubs".

Just Posted

Cowichan District Hospital. (File photo)
Guest column: The story of a surgery in Cowichan

In homage to the Cowichan District Hospital and its surgical team

Motorcyclists in the hundreds depart from Duncan on a South Island ride in honour of the Kamloops 215. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Ride for the Kamloops 215 takes over Trans-Canada Highway

“My family was in residential schools for three generations. On the day… Continue reading

(The winning Lady of the Lake candidates demonstrate their talents during the annual Opportunity Night, Wednesday, June 8. Mary Batyi, left, does a Highland Dance routine, accompanied by a bagpiper; Jorden Matson, centre, shows people her artwork while telling the crowd what her inspirations are; Amber Bell tells people about competitive swimming, before providing a virtual demonstration.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 15, 2011)
Flashback: Water meters, ‘Porky’, and Lady of the Lake

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read