III. FORT VANCOUVER: TRANSITION, 1847-1860
This historic period encompasses a time of political, economic, social, and physical transition at Fort Vancouver. During this period, the vast holdings of the Company at Vancouver were dismantled, as, in the wake of the treaty of 1846, increasing numbers of American settlers laid claims to its fields and buildings. The arrival of the United States Army in 1849 had the most significant effect on the Company depot, as the settlement of the Company's claims dragged on in Washington D.C. and London, and the originally cordial relationship between the U.S. military--which established a reservation on the Fort Vancouver site--and the Fort's managers disintegrated. The headquarters for the Columbia Department were split, with the principal administrative tasks moved from Fort Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island in May-June of 1849, almost concurrent with the arrival of the U.S. military. Many employees deserted in the late '40s, heading for the gold fields of California, reducing the number of hands available for farming. The fort, so long under the administration of one dominant individual, experienced many changes in administrators throughout this politically uneasy period. The herds of livestock were moved further north; those remaining were rounded up or slaughtered by the new settlers. Cultivated fields and associated farm structures were appropriated by settlers claiming them under the donation land claim act. Towards the end of this period, Fort Vancouver farm reported losses, rather than profits. Finally, in May and June of 1860, all remaining stores and movable equipment were loaded on the steamer Otter, and shipped to Victoria, and the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver was abandoned to the Americans.
Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003