De Cosmos Enigma, The
The De Cosmos Enigma
In this biography of British Columbia’s second premier, Gordon Hawkins delves into the mysteries surrounding the life of Amor De Cosmos, who exerted enormous influence on Canadian history but who is today hardly remembered. Born in Nova Scotia in 1825, William Alexander Smith left Halifax as a young man for the goldfields of California. Here he changed his name to the most unusual Amor De Cosmos, projecting, he said, what he valued most: “order, beauty, the world, the universe.” The news of the gold strike on the Fraser in 1858 lured him north, and he emerged in Victoria as the founder of the colony’s most widely read newspaper, the British Colonist. In his highly spirited editorials, he attacked the “family-company-compact” led by James Douglas, becoming the principal voice demanding responsible government. As a politician, De Cosmos was the leading figure in the struggle for the union of the Crown colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. More important still, he became the prime mover to bring B.C. into Confederation. He went on to serve for a decade as Victoria’s Member of Parliament in Ottawa. So how is it that De Cosmos is not remembered as a fighter for responsible government and social justice? That is the enigma Gordon Hawkins sets out to unravel in this most unusual life story.
Reviews & Awards
“This sympathetic and serious portrait amply succeeds in restoring to Amor De Cosmos the respect that he deserves.” —Joan Givern, BC BookLook
“A valuable resource.” —Times Colonist editor-in-chief David Obee
“Hawkins has produced a comprehensive, readable biography of a neglected builder of Canada. De Cosmos may remain an enigma, but this book offers the most complete portrait of a man who deserves to be remembered for more than his quirks and personal shortcomings.” —Dean Jobb