Born in British Columbia in 1870 to Irish parents, Richard McBride was well acquainted with his province. A lawyer by profession, he practiced law until he made the leap into politics and became elected as a member of the provincial legislature in 1898.

In the legislature, McBride attracted lots of attention for his ideas and impressive debating skills. To make money quickly, he invested in mines. His knowledge of the mining industry earned him the title of Minister of Mines in 1900. In 1903, he was elected Premier of British Columbia.

As premier, he defended the economic and social interests of his province with the federal government. He also defended the rights of workers, but only those of the “white race” … He strongly opposed Asian immigration because in his view, these low-wage workers were stealing jobs. He was more understanding towards Native people, though, and even spoke their language. However, unexploited lands on reserves would become a divisive issue because McBride wanted to use them for the province’s industrial development.

Railways were McBride’s passion and he often stressed the importance of the railway in helping to populate the region. The people of his time spoke of him as someone who was intimately knowledgeable about the province and its needs. He successfully promoted its development and its riches.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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