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First Nations in the City
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This is a black and white photograph of the Songhees Reserve with the growing city of Victoria across the harbour in 1866.
View of the Songhees Reserve with the growing city of Victoria across the harbour, 1866. Frederick Dally, BC Archives HP09457, A-03440.

The Old Songhees Reserve, Victoria

Many First Nations people live and work in cities, while maintaining strong bonds with their home communities. The city of Victoria is the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, who throughout their history have extended hospitality to people from other nations.
The Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Victoria, originally called Fort Camosun, was built in 1843. The next year, many of the Songhees left their traditional villages and congregated around Victoria Harbour. The Songhees Reserve became the home of most local people and also a seasonal trading centre for thousands of aboriginal peoples in the region and from as far north as Alaska. Aboriginal people made up the majority of the local population for two decades after the establishment of Fort Victoria. The nineteenth-century economy of the growing city was dependent on First Nations trade, markets and labour.
First Nations canoes at a wharf in Victoria, early 1880s. Richard Maynard, RBCM PN 2571.
This is a black and white photograph of First Nations canoes at a wharf in Victoria.
First Nations from Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula visited Victoria on a regular basis to trade, spend their money, and attend and give potlatches. Early reports in the Victoria Post Journal (the official log of the fort) show that the area was a busy centre: on May 22, 1846, "Cape Flattery Indians . . . [brought] two small sea otter with 3 beavers and otters, other small furs and whale oil" to trade; on June 7, "a large party of Sinomish and Skagits from Puget Sound" arrived; on July 17, thirteen canoes from Cape Flattery came to trade "sea otter and oil." A large Clallam population from the Olympic Peninsula settled permanently on Vancouver Island during the 1840s and 1850s. Clallam people from the south side of the Juan de Fuca Strait were affiliated with the Songhees and had two villages on the shores of the Victoria Harbour.
Songhees people with a northern-style canoe at the head of James Bay, Victoria, 1875. BC Archives I-30804.
This is a black and white photograph of two Songhees paddlers in a northern-style canoe at James Bay, with Songhees people standing on shore.
In 1849 the British government granted the Hudson's Bay Company the new colony of Vancouver Island. The Songhees and other First Nations supplied food and building materials for the Hudson's Bay Company's operations. Women played an important role in the sale of goods such as potatoes, clams, fish, mats and baskets. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company, employed northerners at several Victoria-area farms and at its fisheries and farm on San Juan Island. The purchasing power of First Peoples became increasingly important to the economy of the colony.
First Nations in the City -