Robert Colston volunteered
for service in British Columbia with the Columbia Detachment in 1858.
He traveled on board the
Thames City with the main body of the Detachment, arriving in the Colony
the 12th April 1859.
|As a Sapper, Colston's
Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem
Was nearly buried in a
rockslide on 8 Sept 1860 while working on the Yale-Spuzzum Road and
suffered a mangled hand and a probable finger amputation.
Having recovered from his
injury, Colston contributed to the Cultural aspects of the Colony by
performing in the RE Dramatic Club.
At this institution on Friday evening the 8th Inst., the
Dramatic club of the Royal Engineers gave one of their theatrical
entertainments. The house was filled both with civilians and
soldiers . The performances commenced by the presentation of the
romantic drama in two acts entitled "Ben Bolt". The principal
characters in this piece were Ben Bolt, Ivan Ironlink and Reuben
Rags, sustained respectively by Messrs. Osment, Rylatt and
Woodcock. The latter gentleman as Reuben Rags was highly amusing
, and received from the audience his due need of applause. He adds
to his other accomplishments that of comic singer, and is quite a
favorite with the audience generally, frequently setting them in a
broad grin by his ludicrous representations. The former gentlemen
played their roles very successfully, showing that considerable
attention and study had been bestowed on the parts. Between the
pieces a number of songs and glees were sung by several of the
members of the Glee club, followed by a dance, by Mr. Colston.
The evening's amusements closed with the laughable farce of "Box and
Cox". Captain Luard in the character of Box and lt. palmer in that
of Cox, were decidedly entertaining and played with a good deal of
spirit throughout the piece, giving the impression on the minds of
the audience of their possessing a very fair conception of the play.
Doctor Seddall as Mrs. Bouncer was rather in the background, having
very little room for displaying himself to advantage. He however,
acquitted himself in the character assigned to him very well. It is
hoped he will have something more prominent where he will in fact
have more room to spread himself. We cannot close these remarks
without expressing our thanks to the club for not having forgotten
us in issuing the invitations.
-13th February, 1861 - The British Columbian
In March 1861 Lady
Franklin and her niece Miss Cracroft visited the Royal Engineer's camp at
New Westminster. During their visit the acting contingent of the Royal
Engineers put on two plays, "Ben Bolt and "Sent to the Tower".
Royal Engineer's Dramatic Club
This popular Club gave a special entertainment on Saturday night
in honor of Lady Franklin. The Theatre was crowded, and the
performance went off well. We have not room to criticise the different
parts, but would mention the names of Woodcock, Turnbull, Colston,
Rylatt and Franklin, as having aquitted themselves with great credit.
-21st March, 1861 - The British Columbian
Royal Engineers Theatre
On Wednesday evening the members of the Royal Engineers' Club
gave a dramatic performance for the benefit of the Royal Columbian
Hospital Fund, on which occasion the pieces performed were Douglas
Jerrold's Domestic Drama of "The Rent Day" and Poole's amusing farce
"Deaf as a Post".
The Rent Day is too well known to need much description. It
may suffice to recall its features to those not present if we say
that the interest centres in the endeavours of Martin Reywood (W.
Deas) to keep the farm of his forefathers from the grip of the
unjust steward, Old Crumbs (W. Harvey) of his absentee landlord. There are various complications introduced, owing to the discovery
made by two highwaymen that the steward is an "ex-minion of the
moon" for whose apprehension there is a reward of 50 Pounds. Owing
to the power they consequently possess over Crumbs, they obtain
permission to enter the Squire's house, where they propose to rob a
guest. The guest is saved from their attempt on his property by the
courage and devotion of Rachel Heywood, Martin's wife (R.M. Rylatt)
and proves to be the absentee landlord himself, Squire Grantley. Of
course, with so powerful a Deus ex machina, everything is easy. Martin keeps his farm, the unjust steward is dismissed, the
highwaymen punished, and, as the old fairy tales conclude, everybody
lives happy ever afterwards. We would particularly notice the acting
of R.M. Rylatt as Rachel, W. Deas, W. Harvey, and H. Dransfield,
whose drolleries in the character of Bullfrog, an appraiser and
creature of Old Crumbs, were very amusing and well rendered.
The plot of the farce is very simple. Tristram Sappy (J.
Woodcock) is engaged to be married to Miss Sophy Walton. This young
lady, as is not uncommon to young ladies, we believe, prefers a
lover of her own choosing. Captain Templeton (J. Turnbull) to the
husband of her father's selection. Thus favored the captain
introduces himself at the inn where Sappy is entertaining at supper
his future wife and her father, and by pretending to be "deaf as a
post" induces an amusing series of mistakes, the ill consequences of
which fall on the head of the ill-fated Sappy. He effects a
compromise with the author of the mischief, and resigns his fiancee
to the fortunate Captain. Sally Mags (R.M. Rylatt) chambermaid at
the inn, delivered her sneers at Sappy and his meanness in the
matter of fees to chambermaids, with great relish and effect. The
appearance of R. Colston in the interlude, dressed as a
ballet girl, created perhaps more laughter than anything else in the
evening. There is so much caricature in the mere fact of a man being
dressed in the short gauzy skirts of a fille be ballet, that the
real excellencies of his dancing may not have been quite
--21st March, 1863
From The British Colonist.
Colston remained in the
Colony when the Detachment disbanded in November 1863.
According to Woodward,
Colston received Crown Grant Nov 30 1870, for Lot 61A, Group 2, New
Westminster District, 150-acres military grant. He may have farmed there
or on Mayne Island.
In 1887 R. C. Colston was a
moulder at Albion Iron Works, Victoria, and Robert G. was a farmer on Mayne
Robert Christie Colston, lived 60 years on Pender Island, dying at
Victoria 1953, aged 92, survived by several nephews and a niece.