A Progression of Judges: A History of the Supreme Court of British Columbia

By David R. Verchere | Go to book overview

NINE
The Old Order Changes

In 1890, British Columbians could look back on an exciting decade: the population of their province, now approaching the one hundred thousand mark, had nearly doubled in the last ten years, and the vigour that had been injected into its life in 1880 with the dynamite blast at Yale that signalled the start of construction on the stretch of the transcontinental railway leading to the sea continued to make itself felt. In November 1885, the legendary "last spike" was driven at Craigellachie, and on 4 July 1886, the first passenger train from Montreal reached Port Moody. But the hopes of land speculators at the head of Burrard Inlet had already been dashed. The directors of the railway company had decided to make their railroad part of a major trade route to the Orient, and a port was needed with better accommodation for sea-going ships than Port Moody offered. Coal Harbour, renamed Vancouver, was their choice, and the high hopes engendered by it soon brought about incorporation of a city with that name by a special charter on 6 April 1886.

Legal proceedings delayed the twelve-mile extension of track needed to take the railway to its new terminus. Several landowners went to court in the summer of 1886 and obtained an injunction from the chief justice restraining work on their land by the railway company on the ground that it had no power to construct its railway west of Port Moody. 1 At about the same time, the C.P.R. applied for a warrant directing the sheriff to give it possession of other similar lands and Gray, by an opposite construction of the C.P.R. Act 1881, so ordered. 2 Begbie's case speedily went on to the

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