The Cancellations of British Columbia & Vancouver Island

Cancellation devices were sent to British Columbia & Vancouver Island in late 1859 or early 1860.  A total of 36 different were sent from England.

BC & VI Numeral cancels

Some examples of the numeral cancels sent to British Columbia and Vancouver Island in 1860; Victoria (35), New Westminster (1) and Fort Langley (26).

The locations of those where known used is as follows:

  • 1 – New Westminster (BC)
  • 2 – Douglas (BC) Later Port Douglas
  • 3 – Hope (BC)
  • 4 – Yale (BC)
  • 7 – Lytton (BC)
  • 8 – Clinton (BC)
  • 9 – Seymour (BC) Later Seymour Arm
  • 10 – William’s Creek (BC)
  • 12 – Ashcroft (BC)
  • 13 – Quesnel Mouth (BC) now called Quesnel
  • 14 – French Creek (VI)
  • 15 – Lillooet (BC)
  • 16 – Lac La Hache (BC)
  • 20 – Soda Creek (BC)
  • 22 – Van Winkle (BC)
  • 26 – Fort Langley (BC)
  • 27 – Spences Bridge (BC)
  • 28 – Burrard Inlet (BC) now Vancouver
  • 33 – Ladner’s Landing (BC)
  • 35 – Victoria (VI)
  • 36 – Nanaimo (VI)
British Columbia 25c stamp cancelled No. 35, Victoria, Vancouver island.

British Columbia 25c stamp cancelled No. 35, Victoria, Vancouver island.

According to an article in BNA topics, volume 15, No. 8 (Sept 1958), a post office was also opened in Antler (I think it is now Antler Creek), somewhere in the Cariboo Region of British Columbia. That may be one of the places with an unknown number.

So far the numbers with unknown locations are 5, 6, 11, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 34. That is 15 different unknown cancels.

There are  some interesting digital copies of old books and documents on the Vancouver Public Library website, www.vpl.ca. One is called A Statistical Account of British Columbia, dated 1867. Shown below is a capture of a paragraph called Postal Affairs. It lists the postal rates and post offices of the time.

Interestingly, several of the post offices listed are not in the list of the known numerical cancels. These are Fort Shepherd, Kootenay, Richfield, Savana’s Ferry, Chemainus, Comax, Cowichan, Esquimalt and Maple Bay. Of course some may have opened after the cancels arrived, and perhaps never assigned numeral cancels.

There appears to be a couple of errors, French Creek is listed on the mainland when it is on Vancouver Island, and Victoria is listed twice, including as being on the mainland (!).

Also, several are missing from the list, including the important trading post Fort Langley, Ladner’s Landing and Burrard inlet, all three having been assigned numbers as in the list above.

Wild Horse Creek was originally called Fisherville, but the post office was called Kootenay, as in the list below.

A postal depot was established in Barkerville in 1865, and was established as a Canadian federal office in 1872. It is unclear to me if Barkerville had a cancel before British Columbia joined Canada, or perhaps used the Williams Creek device.

A BC colonial post office was established in Fort Kamloops in 1870. Again, I have no idea if they received a cancel.

A Statistical Account of British Columbia

A Statistical Account of British Columbia, 1867, page 24 and 25

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