|Shades of 1858, complete with side
whiskers! Six lucky Sappers who are attending the British Columbia
From left to right:
Capt. G. R. Gathercole (25th Fd. Engr. Regt.), S.S.M. W. A. Foster
(25th Fd. Engr. Regt.), Sgt. D. G. Tucker (12 S.M.E. Regt.), Cpl. N.
E. Miller (17 Port Trg. Regt.), L/Cpl. M. G. King (Sch. Mil. Svy.),
Spr. K. G. Thomas (Works Service)
Photo: 'The Soldier'
When one realizes the amount of work accomplished by the Royal Engineers
in their four and a half years in British Columbia, one wonders how so few
could accomplish so much. Yet it was not a case of all work and no
play, for the detachment gathered each winter, from November until March,
in it camp at Sapperton, and their camp was then the centre of the social
life and activity of the community. They had a social club.
Their theatre was the scene of all kinds of dances and parties and balls,
and all that social life which tends, if properly guarded and looked
after, to the betterment of a community. The Engineers had a
theatrical troupe, and the men of the detachment played comedies and all
sorts of dramatics pieces.
|New Westminster, late 1859
Summarizing the work of the Engineers, it may be said that they made all
the important explorations of the country from the time they came there.
They surveyed practically all the towns and the country land; they located
and superintended all the trails. They built North Road, which was
originally a trail. They built the Douglas-Lilloet road. They
built the Hope-Similkameen road for twenty-five miles; and portions of the
Cariboo road. All the maps of that time they drew, lithographed and
printed in Sapperton. They formed the Lands and Works Office and
printed the first British Columbia Gazette. The inaugurated
the first Building Society on the mainland; the first social club on the
mainland, the first theatre and theatrical society on the mainland.
They designed the first school house. They designed and built the
first Protestant church on the mainland--the Church of St. John the
Devine, originally at Langley and now at Maple Ridge, and they designed
other churches, the original Holy Trinity, New Westminster, St. Mary's,
Sapperton, and probably those at Yale, Hope, and Douglas. They
designed the first coat of arms of the Colony. They designed the
first postage stamp. They established the first observatory where
they kept continuous scientific meteorological observations. Of
course Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver had earlier temporary
observatories, but the first permanent one was built by the Engineers with
it's position fixed as 49° 12'47" North latitude and 122° 53' 19" West
longitude. They had the first private hospital and the first private
library, both of which were later to benefit the citizens of New
Westminster. And indirectly they built the Parliament buildings, for
on 21st January 1864, the first Legislative Council of the Colony of
British Columbia opened in the then vacant barracks of the Royal Engineers
at Sapperton, New Westminster.
These are material things. But they were no an ordinary detachment
of the Royal Engineers; they were selected men and always took their share
in every good work. In everything that went to the building of the
community, as well as in performing their regular duty, Colonel Moody at
the head, followed by his officers and men, fully lived up to the motto of
the Corps, Ubique and Quo fas et gloria ducunt.
|Lieut.-Colonel Richard Clement Moody
THE DETACHMENT DISBANDS
In the summer of 1863 orders were received from England that he detachment
of Royal Engineers should be disbanded, and that officers and men should
be given their choice of remaining in the Colony as settlers or of
returning to England. Colonel Moody1 and the other officers along
with twenty of the men left for England in October, but the
remainder settled down in British Columbia, in civil life s plasterers,
plumbers, gardeners, masons, bricklayers, tanners, grocers, blacksmiths
architects, carpenters, photographers, tailors, shoemakers, undertakers,
surveyors, bookkeepers, hotel proprietors, in fact as men who were active
in every walk of life. IN 1863 there were 130 of them.
Thirty-five years later there were 34. In 1903 there were 25, and in
1909 (46 years later) there were 14. The last survivor, Philip Jackman, died in 1927.
THE ROYAL ENGINEERS PARTICIPATE
IN THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS
To mark the pioneers work done by the Royal Engineers during these days
which the province is now commemorating the Corps Committee has arranged ,
at the request of the British Columbia authorities, that one officer and
five O.R.s, uniformed and armed as for 1858, will participate in the
various centennial celebrations in conjunction with a similar party in
modern dress from the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers.
In addition the Corps is to present to the City of New Westminster an
enlarged replica of the Corps badge. This plaque will be hung at the
entrance to the City hall and will serve to remind all who pass of the
longstanding association between the 'Royal City' and the Royal Engineers.
Since the main events take place during the summer months, the party
arrived in B.C. early in May. They are stationed at the Royal
Canadian School of Military Engineering, located in the same Chilliwack
country surveyed almost 100 hundred years ago by Captain Parsons and his
small party. From there, joined by a similar detachment from
the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, but uniformed and armed for 1958,
to emphasize the continuing Sapper tradition, and accompanied by the band
of the Royal Canadian Engineers in pre-war scarlet, they sally forth to
take part in the province of British Columbia's Centennial.
By this joint effort it is intended not only to reflect the work of the
Royal Engineers in the early days, but to illustrate the fact that
although the Corps left the province some 50 years ago, its work has, and
is being perpetuated and carried forward by its offspring, the Corps of
Royal Canadian Engineers.
Colonel Moody, later Major-General Moody, died at Bournemouth on the 31st
March 1887, and now lies buried in St. Peter's churchyard there. He
was born 18th February 1813, the second so of Colonel Thomas Moody.
MCGIVERN, Captain J. S., The Royal Engineers in British Columbia, Chilliwack, May 1957.
SAGE, Walter, N., Sir James Douglas and British Columbia, Toronto, 1930
HOWAY, F. W., British Columbia, The Making of a Province, Toronto, 1928.
HOWAY, F. W., The Royal Engineers in British Columbia--1858-1863 an
address published in the Engineering Journal, Montreal, January 1937.