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Joanne Hammond @KamloopsArchaeo
, 13 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
160 years of rampant land speculation and untethered state-led profiteering has finally paid off!

COME BACK WITH ME to 1858, when the BC real estate crisis began... #BCHist #vanre #bcpoli 1/
Meet Edward Bulwer-Lytton, colonial secretary, and James Douglas, the first governor of colonial BC.

BC as a colony was about 5 minutes old when these two kicked off the Great Land Grab of 1858 That Never Really Stopped. 2/
In 1858 BC was broke af. Douglas’ rash proclamation of sovereignty over all the gold turned out to be unlawful even by colonial standards (oops) and forced the creation of the colony before any cash flow existed. 3/
The new colonial administration needed income & hoped land sales would “prove a prolific source of revenue” (Douglas 1858)

What land? Indigenous land, obvs. In the words of historian of the time HH Bancroft, the “wild, and thus far worthless, land, stolen from the savages” 4/
The minute that land was for sale, speculation started. But the government that hoped to get
rich
rich
rich
from selling stolen land then found settlers wanted the same. Leading by example, right? 5/
All kinds of measures were used to try to curb “mere land jobbing” (Lytton to Douglas 1858).

They tried residency laws (once you had your land you had to stay put), an upset (floor) price, caps on contiguous acreages...

Nothing really worked. 6/
In 1858 Lytton wrote to Douglas: “I cannot caution you too strongly against allowing it to be disposed of at too low a sum”. Then the bonanza really got going.

At the first public auction the upset price of $100/lot was wildly exceeded, selling as high as $725. In 1858! 7/
At this point gold-rushing Americans were flooding into BC in numbers large enough to threaten British rule.

And when the gold didn’t pan out (lolz) they looked to the land to make a fortune. 8/
While in 1858 Lytton & Douglas agreed “to attract to this territory all peaceful settlers, without regard to nation”, by 1859 they decided British was best, really:

“We are, therefore, especially desirous of placing before the English public the attraction of cheap land” 9/
Obvs, Indigenous peoples from whom the land was stolen weren’t allowed to claim or buy any, and Lytton repeatedly advised Douglas to keep Indian reserves as small as possible, “so as to avoid checking at a future day the progress of the white colonists” (1859) 10/
But not just anyone should gain. BC could build “a sounder state of society by not encouraging the premature conversion into petty and impoverished landowners of those who ought to be labourers” (Lytton 1859).

A little social engineering to go with your “free”market, lol. 11/
So while it’s fun to blame the former B.C. Liberal govt or newly arrived NDP or Vision Vancouver for the lack of affordable land and housing— this problem is so much bigger and older than all of them.

They’ve merely inherited the result of 160 years of profiteering. #vanre 12/
All the photos in this thread are from BC Archives. The primary docs are from BC LTSA. The Lytton & Douglas communications are from Cail’s 1974, below. 13/13
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