Debating History

The Festival of Volunteers took place this past Saturday at Royal City Centre and the anachronistic thrills my co-author Briana referred to here did not disappoint. 

There is something about bagpipe music that just makes me smile -I have no idea what it is. So when I finished my shift at the booth I was volunteering for, it was perfect timing to grab a cup of chai from the Beverage Station in the centre court of the mall and grab a seat and listen to a procession being piped in by a member of the Delta Police Pipe Band. It was quite the sight to see Mayor Wayne Wright in all his finest office accoutrements along with Sir James Douglas, Councillor Jaimie McEvoy, John Irving – all were bedecked in appropriate debating garb. I have to apologize for the quality of these photos – my camera died and these were taken using my cell phone. 

Debate participants are introduced by John Irving
Debate participants are introduced by John Irving

The debate did not disappoint. True to misogynistic form,  Sir James Douglas downplayed his decision to build parliament in Victoria and steal away the capital city moniker from New Westminster, by suggesting that it was simply to restore the declining city of Victoria. He resisted the idea that it had something to do with nepotism and displayed shock when Mayor Wright reminded him of a few of his shadier deals. Both McEvoy and Mayor Wright were well informed and the spluttering James Douglas certainly lost the debate. The assembled crowd snickered and laughed a few times throughout the debate – it was entertaining to see such great pieces of our collective history come alive. 

 

Councillor McEvoy and Mayor Wright look incredulous at Douglas' assertions
Councillor McEvoy and Mayor Wright look incredulous at Douglas' assertions

There was a pretty decent sized crowd assembled, including many members of council:

 

Members of Council look on as the debate occurs
Members of Council look on as the debate occurs

Mayor Wright also took advantage of this debate to remind citizens that New Westminster has big plans for the future of our Fraser River waterfront, and the crowd responded with cheers – I’m anxious to see plans.

Kudos goes to the actors who portrayed the famous Canadians so well and to the city staff and volunteers who organized such a unique mock debate.

 

 

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Anachronistic thrills at Festival of Volunteers

I have had the rare pleasure of having a local newspaper delivered to my door (seriously, our paperboy must be stockpiling them for a Piñata-making party), and after reading through the agenda in the two-page ad for the Festival of Volunteers, I see now that they’ve buried the lede.

My co-author Jen has already covered the altruistic reasons to head out to Royal City Centre this Saturday for the Festival of Volunteers. But even if you have zero interest in volunteering, it will be worth it to come out to see Mayor Wayne Wright take Gov. James Douglas (d. 1877) to task for allowing cheeky Victoria to steal away our birthright as capital city of British Columbia.

Up until 1868, New Westminster was the capital city of British Columbia, before that honour was snatched away by Victoria. Find out how such a historic injustice could have occurred! Join Mayor Wayne Wright for a spirited discussion with Governor James Douglas (first Governor of B.C.) on the merits of restoring the Royal City of New Westminster as B.C.’s rightful capital.

Source: Festival of Volunteers ad, page B2 & B3 of The Record

Actors from The Royal City Engineers Living History Group will play Sir James Douglas, Lady Amelia Douglas, riverboat captain John Irving, New Westminster’s first Sheriff Chartres Brew and a Royal Engineer. It gets better: Colin Barrett of the Delta Police Pipe Band (warning: autoloading audio files if you follow the link) will play a period bagpiper, skirling away! 

The historical re-enactment portion of the Festival of Volunteers is from 11am to noon. The actors will be available for photos by donation, with proceeds going to support The Royal City Volunteers. 

Other events include: 

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