Douglas Family
View from the bottom of Sir James Douglas' Garden of Victoria in 1857

"The Governor's House is one of the oldest in the place - I am not sure whether it dates from the First establishment of the HBC Fort, but it is 12 years old - stnding in a large old fashioned garden with borders of flowers enclosing squares of Fruit trees and vegetables too I think.  The houseis a substantial plain building, with very fair sized comfortable rooms.  Mrs. Douglas is not at all bad looking, with hardly as much of the Indian type in her face, as Mrs. Dallas, and she looks young to have a daughter so old as Mrs. Helmcken the eldest, who is 26.  Her figure is wholly without shape, as is already Mrs. Helmcken's we hear, and even Mrs. Dallas.  She has a gentle, simple and kindly manner which is quite pleasing, but she takes no lead whatsoever in her family, and the luncheon arrangements and conduct, rested only with Agnes and Mr. and Mrs. Young, in the absence of the Governor.  She remembers my Uncle (Admiral Franklin) at Fort Cumberland, and had told her daughters that one of his officers fell desperately in love with her! from what she said, the suscptible gentleman must have been Mr. Kendall."

-- 28 Feb 1861, Sophia Cracroft.

The majority of the following information comes from and the below links will take you to this suite of pages.

Sir James Douglas
James Douglas was born 1803 in Guiana, son of John Douglas and Marthe Ritchie.  At 16 he came to Canada as an apprentice of the North West (Fur) Company, and on April 27, 1828 he married Amelia Connolly at Fort St. James, in what is now British Columbia.

Of their 13 children, only 6 survived childhood:

name born married died
Cecilia1 1834 Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken7 in December 1852 1865
Jane2 1839 A.G. Dallas in March 1858 1909
Agnes3 1841 Arthur Thomas Bushby May 1862 1928
Alice4 1844 Charles Good in Canada August 31, 1861, and in the US just prior to August 31, 1861.  They later divorced and remarried 1928
James William5 1851 Mary Elliott in 1877 1883
Marthe6 1854 Dennis Harris in 1878 1933

The following comes from Sylvia Van Kirk's
Colonized Lives: The Native Wives and Daughters of Five Founding Families of Victoria

". . . Racism could indeed negate social aspiration.  Although the younger Ross daughters featured at the balls given by the officers of the British Navy in the 1850s, they never attained the status they desired.  According to Philip Hankin, they were very fine looking girls, but `they had a great deal of Indian blood in them and were supposed to be only on the edge of society'.  That race could trump class is seen in what is reported to have been an exchange between the governor's daughter Agnes and a young midshipman at one of these balls.  Miss Douglas demurred at his invitation to dance as being beneath her station, saying `What would Papa say if I were to dance with a middy'; whereupon he haughtily replied, `What would Mama say if I were to dance with a Squaw!'"

Agnes, Cecilia, and Alice Douglas
in 1858

" In actuality, Agnes Douglas's station was such that she was to lead the way in a new trend in marriage patterns whereby the younger daughters began to marry British gentlemen attached to the colonial service.  In 1862, she married a well-born recent arrival Arthur Bushby, who was clerk to Judge Begbie.  The weddings of the Douglas girls became increasingly elaborate affairs as did their education.  These changes were epitomized in the experience of Martha, the governor's youngest daughter.  Having been given the best education that the colony could afford, her father was gratified that: `She plays well, sings, has a taste for drawing, is well read, writes a good hand and a nice letter'.  But he sent her off to England in 1872 to `get rid of the cobwebs of colonial training and give her the proper finish' .

"A portrait taken of Martha and her married sister Jane Dallas in London, inscribed 'For dearest, darling Mother', illustrates how far the Douglas girls had come in both dress and deportment.
Jane and Marthe Douglas

" Yet social success in early Victoria did not come without a price.

" Although she had become Lady Douglas, Amelia had not forgotten her Cree heritage and pined for the old days.  A visitor in 1881 observed that she `often expresses a desire to see the Indian country before she dies' and in spite of the fancy dishes presented at her table, `she was more fond of bitter root, camas and buffalo tongue'.  Despite their marital and material success, the younger generation had the anxiety of living in an increasingly racist society- -there was no guarantee that the stigma of native blood could truly be transcended.  These attitudes were painfully underscored by the American historian Hubert Bancroft, who denounced miscegenation as `the Fur Traders' Curse' in his History of the Northwest Coast, published in 1886.  Imagine what the genteel families, who had entertained him so hospitably upon his visit to Victoria some years earlier, must have felt upon reading his denigration of their maternal ancestors:

"I could never understand how such men as John McLoughlin, James Douglas, Ogden, Finlayson, Work and Tolmie and the rest could endure the thought of having their name and honors descend to a degenerate posterity.  Surely they were possessed of sufficient intelligence to know that by giving their children Indian or half-breed mothers, their own old Scotch, Irish or English blood would in them be greatly debased, and hence they were doing all concerned a great wrong."

For the whole story, please see:


James William




Lady Amelia Douglas
Sir James Douglas
1803- 1877