The
Camp

Photograph courtesy of BC Archives Number A-05920

"The summer of 1859 was spent in clearing the site of their camp, building the barracks for the single soldier's, the married quarters, offices, store-houses, and other necessary buildings.  Included in this group were a small church - convertible into a school - a court-house, a jail, a custom's house, offices of the Lands and Works , a treasurer's office and finally the Government House - the residence for the Lieutenant Governor.  Even the flower beds and kitchen gardens were planted that first summer.  The list of requisitions included flower seeds of 'the choicest quality'.

--Mrs. Frances Herring, describes the camp
 

The married people's quarters stood in groups of three: each contained two rooms, and in one of them was the luxury of a brick open hearth, with an unlimited supply of wood for the fetching.  A house had been built for the Colonel and his numerous family, one smaller one for the married officer, a school was also used for church, likewise a chaplin's residence."

--"Colonel Moody and the RE in BC"
by Lilian Cope.
UBC 1940

"The Officer's Quarters are begun so we hope soon to have the house to ourselves, we really require more rooms as we sleep 5 in our bedroom.  It is a large house but when you come to pack 20 people as we do now, there is not much spare room, as you may fancy." 

-- 12 March 1860, Mary S. Moody

Parsons' House
Taken from the larger Early view of New Westminster, courtesy of BC Archives
Call
Number A-05920
 

...Captain Parsons was there with the engineer's boat in which we were quickly stowed with our luggage, and in some 20 minutes, reached The Camp whch is also beautifully placed upon a sloping ground once covered with pines.  We were struck with appearance of order in the arrangement of the building in the "Camp".  Every house was of course of wood, but the designs shewed all the taste and skill which might be looked for from a party of engineers.  Colonel Moody's house especially is designed and stands prominantly as the Commanding Officr's should.

-- 5th March 1861, Sophia Cracroft

 
Photograph courtesy of the New Westminster Museum Archives

"Before starting in the boat for N. Westminster, we walked about the Camp, admiring the Taste and order which reigns throughout it.  All the buildings are different and in throughly good taste.  The paths are neat and straight, and of course the people (being soldiers) look less rough than the usual population....Amongst the other buildings, a store house used as a theatre was shewn us.  It is of course exclusively for the Engineers - officers and men, and we hear the acting is admirable." 

-- 6 march 1861, Sophia Cracroft

"There is a smooth and well raised path upon the (Fraser) river front of the Camp from Colonel Moody's house (which stands at the end of the buildings), passing the offices, storehouses, theatre, barracks, etc, etc, and running off (past the very pretty little house of captain and Mrs. Grant) into a trail, or road which the Engineers have made to the Burrard Inlet about 5 miles off (North Road)." 

-- 6 march 1861, Sophia Cracroft

Presented below, with his most generous permission, is a reproduction of the Map of the Royal Engineers Camp in New Westminster by Mr.  J. D. Spittle, along with an inventory of camp buildings.  Says Mr. Spittle, "I came across the original MS plan in the Provincial Archives some 25 years ago. It accompanied an inventory of camp buildings made by the acting Surveyor General, C. Brew, to show their use and occupancy in April 1864 shortly after the Columbia Detachment had been disbanded. No such large scale plan appears to have been prepared before this time. It was undoubtedly draughted by an ex-RE who remained in the colony."

Please click >here< for the 1570 X 1820 pixel .jpg version of the Camp Map. Please click >here< for the .pdf version of the Camp Map (we recommend this image due to its superior clarity).
And if you should desire a copy of the free Adobe Acrobat reader, necessary for viewing the .pdf version of the Camp Map, please click >here<
To return to this page, please click the back button on your browser.
Return of Buildings at the Camp, New Westminster used as Public Offices, Stores and Dwelling Houses.  29th April, 1864.
Description

No. on Sketch

By Whom Occupied

In What Capacity

PUBLIC OFFICES

1

Colonial Secretary

 

2

Messenger

 

3

Chief Clerk

 

4

Clerks

 

5

Printers

 

6

Surveyor General

 

7

Clerk

 

8

Clerk

 

9

Surveyors & Draftsmen

 

10

Auditor

 

STORES

11

Survey Store

 

12

North Store

 

13

South Store

 

WORKSHOPS 14

Blacksmiths

 

15

Carpenters

 

16

Boathouse

 

17

Boat shed

 

GOVt PIER

18

Pier

 

R.E. CLUB & LIB.

19

R.E. Club Room

 

20

Library

 

VACANT BUILDINGS

21

Temporary Club

 

22

Temporary Barracks

 

23

Cook & Wash house

 

24

Hospital

 

25

Cook House

 

26

Insane Ward

 

27

Dead House

 

POWDER MAGAZINE

27a

Powder Magazine

 

DWELLING HOUSES

28

Charles Good esq1

Chief Clerk

29

J.J. Young

Clerk

30

A.K. House

Clerk

LATE
OFFICERS' QRS.
MESS ROOM &c

31

Vacant2

 

32 & 33

Macnamara

Clerk

34

Leg. Council

Members

35

Leg. Council

Clerk of Council

36

J. Connell

Clerk

37

T.R. Holmes

Clerk

38

Jas. Keary

discharged R.E.

DWELLING HOUSES

39

R. Wolfenden3

Head Printer

40

D. Deasy

Messenger

41

J. Murray

discharged R.E.

BLOCKS OF DWELLING ROOMS5

 

42

Vacant

 

43

G. Williams

Printer

44

C. Venebles4

 

45

J. Morey

discharged R.E.

46 & 47

R.M. Rylatt

discharged R.E.

48

J.C. White

"

49

Vacant

 

50

Chas. Ede

"

51

M. Hall

"

52

Vacant

 

53

J. Dickson

"

54

J. Linn

"

55

Vacant

 

56

T. Price

"

57

J. Hall

"

58

Vacant

 

59

R. Hume

"

60 & 61

Mrs. Morseby6

Schoolmistress

62

W. Haynes

discharged R.E.

63

D. Richards

"

64

P. Grant

"

65

J. Holland

Messenger

66

Vacant

 

67

W. McColl

discharged R.E.

DWELLING HOUSES

68

W. McColl

discharged R.E.

CANTEEN

69

R. Dalziel

Tenant

IRON HOUSE

70

Vacant

 

1 Sir Jas. Douglas permitted Mr. Good to occupy No. 28 & directed him to place the other clerks in the quarters they now occupy.
2 Sir Jas. Douglas desired Captain Luard's quarters No. 31 to be reserved for the Colonial Secretary
3 Mr House & Mr Wolfenden have Col. Moody's special authority to occupy Nos. 30 & 39
4 Mr Good permitted Capt. Venables to occupy No. 44
5 At Col. Moody's request, Sir James Douglas permitted the men of the Royal Engineers who remained in the Colony, to occupy the quarters in which they resided before their discharge from the Corps.
6 By authority of Sir Jas. Douglas.

=Thank you, J.D. Spittle=

"Col. Moody took us to the printing press, where the work is being done to perfection, the Printer being a very able man and keeper also of all the Camp accounts. Then we went into the offices where all the map making goes on. The Engineers survey the country and make the maps from their observations, plotting, it is called, and most beautiful is their work, entirely done by hand, with the finest pen. They also make plans, and archetectual drawings. One man has charge of certain instruments with which he has stated observations and works out the results. The core is one of picked men, who are continually adding to their aquirements, by the work they are employed in, and by the use of their opportunities." 

-- 6 March 1861, Sophia Cracroft

THREE INDIANS were arrested at the RE Camp last week for being drunk and fighting. They were brought down by a military guard, and handed over to Captain Pritchard. The very reprehensible practice of either selling or giving intoxicating liquors to these savages, should be promptly and severely punished.

- 18th July, 1861 - The British Columbian

The main body of the Royal Engineers are expected to return to their winter quarters by the next steamer from Hope.

- 24th October 1861 - The British Columbian

THE STEAMER COLONEL MOODY arrived from Hope on Sunday last with Captain Grant and his party of 80 Sappers. Also about 20 other passengers.

7th November, 1861 - The British Columbian

THE ARCHDEACON'S RESIDENCE is being built on the lot adjoining Captain Grant's quarters. Manson and White are the contractors.

- 3rd December, 1861 - The British Colonist

Royal Engineer Camp, New Westminster

The BC Archives identifies this as having been taken circa 1875; we think this photograph may have been taken before the May 1864 fire.

Photograph courtesy BC Archives Call Number A-03371

Saturday 28 May 1864 - The British Columbian

Fire at the Camp - Shortly after noon on Wednesday a fire broke out in the Theatre, or in a building adjoining it, which, does not very clearly appear.  So rapid was the progress of the flames that Mr. Deasy, who resided in the building adjacent to the Theatre, with considerable difficulty succeeded in saving his wife and children.  The dress worn by the former was on fire when she was taken out.  Every article of household property including a considerable amount of paper money, was destroyed, so that poor Deasy is turned out on the street to begin the world again, with a large family on his hands.

    From the Theatre the valuable library alone was saved, a circumstance mainly attributable to the praiseworthy efforts of several Government clerks, ably assisted by Mr. Deasy, who pitched in like a Trojan when he found that all his own property was gone.

    Although the Fire Company did not arrive till the buildings were far gone yet the quickness of their movements was none the less creditable to them.  Precisely 10 minutes from the time the first peel of the bell was heard a stream of water from the "Fire King" was playing upon the flames!  When it is remembered that the engine had to be drawn about a mile, and much of the way up a steep grade, this was wonderfully quick.

     Of course the Hyaks were much indebted to volunteer aid for this result, a large number of Indians having rendered good service upon the ropes.  There was one case which the captain and lieutenant of the company have called to our attention to as deserving special notice.  Mr. Wm. Woodman, a gentleman who has very nearly completed his "three score years and 10" was one of the first on the ground and never ceased to work at the breaks for one hour and a half, although during that time many a young man gave out.

     His Excellency Governor Seymour and Captain Holmes RA, were upon the ground, the former actively directing operations up to the time the Fire Company arrived and the latter, with the most praiseworthy energy and bravery, working amidst the smoke and fire.

     We understand His Excellency complimented Captain Scott upon the efficiency of his company, and expressed his surprise at the alacrity with which they reached the scene of the conflagration.

Wednesday 1st June 1864 - The British Columbian

A Conflagration - Owing to the extreme dryness of the weather and the high winds which prevailed during yesterday the fire spread at a fearful rate amongst the lying timber in the rear of this city, and the town was at one period considered in imminent danger.  Several unimportant buildings in the suburban plot, together with fences and gardenstuffs, were destroyed, and the two mills immediately below the city were saved with much difficulty.  But the chief damage was done at Sapperton, the north-eastern suburbs, where, we regret to say, four dwellings were consumed, viz., Mr. Bruce's, Mr. Franklin's, Mr. Gilchrist's and Mr. Edwards'.  Many other buildings in that locality were in great danger, but were saved through the most praiseworthy exertions of the redoubtable Hyacks, assisted by valuable volunteer aid.  This fire must have destroyed a considerable amount of property and shows the necessity of having all the lying timber adjacent to the city burned off as soon as possible.  The Hyacks had a hard day of it.  They were at work at Webster and Co.'s mill when the summons came for them to go to the Camp.  We have, unhappily, of late had two striking illustrations of the efficiency and value of the Fire Department, and we trust that in future every reasonable facility will afforded them in order to keep up an organization so indispensible to the safety of property.

Saturday 4th June 1864 - The British Colonist

Having been personally engaged up to a late hour on Tuesday in repelling the advance of the flames upon the property in the rear of the city, we were unable to give anything beyond the very meagre notice which appeared in our last issue of Wednesday.  In that notice we gave the names of four who were burned out at Sapperton.  We are happy to learn subsequently that only three of the four were really victims, viz., Franklin, who lost his house and a great part of his effects; Bruce, who lost every article he possessed in the world; Gilchrist, who lost his house and a portion of his effects.  This last case was rendered perhaps more distressing from the circumstances of Gilchrist having been absent upon the Bute Inlet Expedition, from which he only returned to find a heap of smouldering ashes where he left a comfortable house and happy family.  There were instances of heroic bravery, too, which ought to be noticed in connection with the Sapperton fire.  We learn that almost superhuman exertions were made in order to check the fire, and no better evidence of this is needed than the fact that Colston's house is now standing.  The Hon. Colonial Secretary, Mr. J.T. Scott, Mr. C. Good, Mr. Howse. Mr. Deasy, Mr. Argyle, Mr. Green and Mr. Ede, have all been mentioned to us as having exerted themselves in the most praiseworthy and sometimes daring manner in order to save both life and property.  The damage done to fences and garden stuffs must be very considerable, as we are informed that every piece of fencing in Sapperton was either burned or torn down to save it from being burned.  The roads in that neighbourhood also suffered more or less injury.  On the Pitt river road 234 feet of the roadway which was constructed of cedar logs covered with earth and gravel, was burned, while on the North or Burrard road, three of the bridges are more or less injured.  In the rear of the city the house of Mr. Benney was destroyed, and back about 2 miles on the Douglas street road Mr. Bennet was burned out, while some three miles down the river Mr. Martin's buildings were destroyed together with most of the household stuff.

    In the north-western suburbs considerable damage has been done in the destruction of fencing and garden stuff.  There is an old saying that nothing is so bad but it might be worse; and notwithstanding all these losses and misfortunes a general feeling of thankfulness ought to pervade the community on account of the smallness of the aggregate loss; and that feeling should find practical expression in assisting as far as our circumstances will allow, the few who have lost their all.