William H. Edwards


Sapper William H. Edwards was one of two Sapper William Edwards in the Columbia Detachment.  Therefore it is very likely that there will be some confusion about the following information in regards to whom it is pertaining to.

Edwards, who joined the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners in 1850, sailed with the Columbia Detachment on board the Thames City.  It is possible that Edwards was at this time assigned to Lt. Palmer as his orderly.  Edwards arrived in the Colony with the Detachment, on the 12th April 1859.

As a Sapper Edward's Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

As the Detachment began the process of building the Camp that Queenborough, Edwards joined Lt. Lempriere and Lt. Palmer's small exploration party.

29th Friday – ... In the afternoon I and Palmer started in a small canoe up the creek; we had Edwards with us and at the entrance of the creek we found logs right across and that it was quite impossible to get the canoe through; so we were obliged to stand on the logs and lift the canoe over the logs and trunks of the trees were only floating and very little above the water with intervals of 4 or 5 feet between them with deep water, so if one missed one’s footing down you could go and have a good dunking.  We paddled away about 5 miles up the creek through rapids and all sorts of places, in some places having to get into the water up to your knees and pull the boat along.  It was my first boat trip in a canoe, but I managed the paddling very well: one must be very careful in getting in or out, or else it is likely to upset: we took a fishing rod and gun with us, but did not have any sport –

-- From Lt. Lempriere's Journal

 Edwards travels with Palmer on many of his later Explorations and expeditions.

According to Frances Woodward, Edwards was appointed constable for the Alexandria District in July 1862 whilst still in the Detachment.

Edwards remained in the Colony when the Detachment disbanded in November of 1863 but it appears that he did not take his discharge but remained in the Royal Engineers until he received his formal discharge in  November 1866 having served 16 years, 5 mos.

Between 1865 and approximately 1877, Edwards was a constable and guard at New Westminster.

He received Crown Grant  for Lot 255, Group 1, New Westminster District, 150-acre military grant (date uncertain).

His daughter, Emily Jane Edwards, married C. H. DeBeck in 1879.

In 1924, Palmer's Widow, Mrs. Mary Jane Palmer nee Wright, wrote to one of the Sappers, Philip Jackman, asking about Edwards, her husband's orderly.


Enderby, BC, 4th Nov. 1924

Dear Mr. Jackman,

Remembering you in the past and having seen in the last Saturday's "Daily Province" with pleasure that you are still living in BC and thinking that you may not have forgotten an old friend -- my late husband then Lieut. H.S. Palmer RE, who came out with you all round "Cape Horn" in the Thames City.

I am remembering to write this letter hoping the address will find you no doubt you may also remember having known Archdeacon and Mrs. Wright's family who lived in Sapperton at the Rectory -- well the writer of this letter is the Miss Wright of old -- their eldest daughter -- who ever remembered the 7th of October 1863 when one and all of the dear RE's did their very best to make that happy wedding day the very brightest one for the Bride and her dear husband.  Which could be wished.

It would be a great pleasure to Mrs. Palmer to hear from Mr. Jackman.  She greatly enjoyed reading the account of his life.  Indeed a most interesting one she thought.

She only wishes she could have a chat with him one of these good old days in New Westminster.  The Rectory is still standing and she went over it when last in New Westminster and a short time of there were two old trees of olden days there!  Mrs. Palmer believes she is the only one living of the ex-officers and their wives!

She has been trying to get information of Mr. Edwards or his family but all she can hear of them is that Emily, his daughter, was school mistress for some time in the Royal City. 

Mrs. Bushby, Gov. Douglas' daughter is living in Cheltenham, England, doing good.  church work.

The Mails are now being called for Mrs. Palmer.

Much said this letter

With her best wishes.

Addressee would like from Mr. Jackman a reply.

--From Mrs. Palmer to Philip Jackman