Blanshard, Richard

Blanshard was born in 1817 in London, England. He studied law at Cambridge and was called to the bar in 1844 but chose to travel rather than practice law. When, in 1849, colonization became a condition of Hudson's Bay Company's tenure on Vancouver Island the need for a resident Governor to represent the British Government in the colony became apparent. Blanshard's appointment is believed to have been the result of a family connection with Sir John Pelly, London Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Blanshard, though appointed in July of 1849, didn't arrive at Fort Victoria until March of 1850 and was forced to live aboard H.M.S. Driver while a residence was prepared for him. As the first governor, Blanshard represented, what the Colonial Office hoped would be profound change in the Colony of Vancouver Island. His appointment was intended to mark the beginning of a shift in authority away from the Hudson's Bay Company – a shift not enthusiastically endorsed by the well-established company hierarchy and consequently the inexperienced Blanshard found himself in an untenable position. James Douglas, it seems, did little to ameliorate the tension between the two forces – his assessment of Blanshard was that he was "out of sorts with the world at large and a bitter satirist of men and things in general". In addition, Blanshard's rudimentary accommodation increased his sense of isolation and exacerbated his delicate health and following a chaotic chain of events at Fort Rupert which included a miner's strike, several desertions and an ill-advised interaction with native groups that resulted in the burning a Newitty village he tendered his resignation after nine months in the Colony. He returned to England in 1851 and was replaced by James Douglas as Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island.


  • Bowsfield, Hartwell, ed. Fort Victoria Letters (1846-1851). Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Record Society, 1979.
  • Francis, Daniel, ed. The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing, 2000.
  • Hendrickson, James E. "Blanshard, Richard." Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
Graham Brazier