Lady Amelia Douglas was one of the founding mothers of British Columbia. Daughter of an Irish-French Canadian fur trader named William Connolly and Miyo Nipiy, a Cree woman, Amelia was born in Fort St. James. She married Sir James Douglas, known as the “Father of British Columbia.” Born in British Guiana (presently known as Guyana), Douglas called himself a “Scotch West Indian.” His father was a Scottish merchant and his mother a “free coloured woman”.
In 1851, James Douglas was appointed governor of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. However, he did not leave the Hudson’s Bay Company until 1858, when he was also appointed governor of the Mainland Colony of British Columbia.
In the photo, Lady Douglas wears a black bonnet and dress typical of the Victorian era. This black outfit, like many of her fashions, was inspired by the style of Queen Victoria. Although black was traditionally associated with mourning, black dresses became fashionable for most occasions. Most fashionable women in British Columbia at this time wore imported dresses from Eastern Canada, the United States, and Europe. Some work designs made in British Columbia used imported textiles.
This rectangular brooch of Cariboo white quartz stone with gold veining is edged with twisted Cariboo gold cord. The brooch fastens at the back with a pin. D. Fraser, a reporter for the Victoria Times, presented the brooch to Lady Amelia Douglas. Fraser was reporter for the Victoria Times, “D. Fraser to his esteemed friend Lady Douglas” is engraved on the back of the brooch. The brooch was probably made and engraved by a local jeweller during the gold rush.