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Daily paper called the Colonist for a reason

Sep 06 2012

Saanich-born historian John Bosher will detail Vancouver Island's history as a British imperial outpost during a talk Sunday at the Royal B.C. Museum.

The retired university professor will discuss his recently published book, Vancouver Island in the Empire. The 543-page tome details the experiences of British expatriates who settled on or visited the Island during what Bosher calls the "Imperial Century," the period spanning from the mid-1800s to the end of the Second World War.

"There are about 100 books of people who came from England and visited and had something to say," says the 83-year-old historian, who now resides in Ottawa. "It's almost uniformly favourable. They're all excited. They come over here and say, 'Wow, this is just like home.' "

Bosher says he hopes to impart the extent to which British culture dominated Island life until the end of the Imperial Century.

"Historians write as though these English people - were commenting on the host society as if it was Canadian. My point is that, if you study the history carefully, you'll find that it wasn't. The host society was not Canadian; it was British."

He says this conclusion is a controversial one among Canadian scholars. "They're good, patriotic Canadians and they don't want to listen to all this imperial stuff. But if you follow the history carefully, which I have done, you'll find that this was a British colony and when Canadians came here, they were outsiders."

"The legacy is almost a quiet quarrel between the [historians] who see the thing from one point of view and those who see the thing from the other.

"What I'm trying to say is, it's all history now and it's time we treated it as history and not as current politics."

The lecture will take place at 2 p.m. in the museum's Newcombe Auditorium. Admission is $5, free for members of the Friends of the B.C. Archives.

For more information, call Ron Greene at 250-598-1835 or go to calendar.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca. cruf@timescolonist.com

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