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Flag Foist

February 8, 2015

US flag at New Westminster 1865The Stars and Stripes flying high atop the mast of the Columbia Hotel at New Westminster in 1865 must have given some of the first pioneers pause for thought and remains an incongruous sight even to this day.  After all, Colonel Moody had chosen the location of the city in large part to defend against a possible invasion of American forces.

It would not be the last time foreign flags have been hoisted in this district.

First flown flag

On the day British Columbia united with Canada flags of every type and description were unfurled at New Westminster, but no flag of Canada. That was July 20, 1871.

The following year,  the Queen’s Birthday celebration at New Westminster, traditionally held May 24th, was postponed until  June 6th, 1872  to accommodate the arrival of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Red Ensign of Canada - from WikipediaIt is reported that the first Dominion Flag at New Westminster was brought over from Granville (early Vancouver) on that date, graciously loaned by Mr. John Deighton (Gassy Jack).

This early version of the Red Ensign was raised on the flagpole of Lewis Bonson’s London Arms saloon, with an appreciative crowd of spectators cheering as it "unfolded in the breeze."

Union Jack - from WikipediaThe explanation for the lack of any government offices flying this flag must be because it had no status as an official flag of Canada — that was still the Union Jack, of which there were plenty around.

French flag festivities

1878 Colonial Hotel - New Westminster - Vancouver Archives photoIn January 1880, to celebrate the election of Mayor Dickinson, Pons Arnaud ran up his "tri-color" on the mast atop his Colonial Hotel. 

As shown (faintly) in the photo, M. Arnaud took other opportunities to honor his heritage.

By 1883, John E Insley had taken over the Colonial Hotel from Arnaud.  

Foists foreign flag

In 1905, Sam Herring’s son Tilman Herring, was fighting to remain on the piece of ground where he had resided since 1860. At issue was the boom in land values resulting from the opening of the Fraser River Bridge. 

JE Insley — the same of the Colonial Hotel —  had gotten a sweet deal on a large piece of government land which he sold on to TW Paterson.  The government next sold Herring’s property out from under him to the same TW Paterson.  Of course, this was a repeat of what happened to first nations at this location and everywhere else.

United States flag - from WikipediaYou can count on the Herrings for a good story, and this is one is vintage.

"’À bas, Canada.’

With these words, or with words to this effect, Mr. Tillman Herring hoisted the Stars & Stripes over his house on the banks of the mighty Fraser which is built on the south side of the great Westminster bridge.

It is understood that Mr. Herring’s loyalty has been transferred to the United States, not because he loves that country more, but because he loves the Dominion less."


For complete story of the property fight see "Face-Off at Herring’s Point."

Here’s a  new Google Map to accompany that post (because the classic map might not display on some devices.)

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