Units and Collections

The British Colonist

The British Colonist

Welcome to The British Colonist, an online archive of the historic British Columbia newspaper.


The archive spans over 50 years of The British Colonist, from its beginning in 1858 until 1910, when the paper changed its name to The Daily Colonist. The archive contains approximately 100,000 page images.


Click here to access to archive. You may also browse by date.

About The British Colonist

The British Colonist was one of the earliest newspapers published in British Columbia, founded in Victoria during the period of the Fraser River Gold Rush. It was first published on December 11, 1858, and has continued publication up to the present day, changing its name to The Daily Colonist and eventually merging with the Victoria Daily Times to form the Victoria Times Colonist, in 1980.


Its first publisher, Amor de Cosmos (born William Smith, 1825), founded the paper to promote political reform and to challenge the largely uncritical voice of the leading paper of the day, the Victoria Gazette. This resulted in a bitter rivalry between the two papers. Eventually the Colonist eclipsed the Gazette in popularity, and drove it out of business.


From the outset, the British Colonist was highly critical of Governor James Douglas, and at times called for his removal from office. Douglas retaliated by requiring the Colonist and other newspapers to pay a hefty bond, to secure payment of fines if convicted for libel. It is generally thought that this represented an attempt by the governor to shut down the fledgling newspaper, however if so, it was unsuccessful. A group of Victoria's citizens volunteered to pay the bond, and the paper continued as before.


De Cosmos sold his interest in The British Colonist in 1863 to D.W. Higgins, and subsequently went on to a political career that culminated in being elected second premier of BC in 1872. He was not as successful in office as he had been in opposition, however, and his term in office lasted only two years. He was also Member of Parliament in Ottawa from 1871 to 1882.

The British Colonist


The first issue of The British Colonist
December 11, 1858



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