"I would not object to a little revolution now and again in British Columbia, after Confederation, if we were treated unfairly; for I am one of those who believe that political hatreds attest the vitality of a State." -- Amor de Cosmos, March 10, 1870.

Born  in Nova Scotia in 1825 as William Alexander Smith, he worked as a photographer in California where changed his named to Amor de Cosmos ("Lover of the Universe") before he came north and founded the British Colonist newspaper in Victoria. He became an outspoken critic of Governor James Douglas in the early 1860s while advocating union with the rest of Canada. Following Confederation in 1972, he served fourteen months as Premier in 1872-1873. Later as a federal MP, he introduced a resolution calling for B.C. to secede, eventually losing his seat in 1872. A notorious racial bigot, his eccentric and intemperate character led a court to declare him incapable of managing his own affairs in 1895. His brother became his legal guardian. He died in Victoria in 1897. The Times-Colonist newspaper is his best known-legacy.

As the second premier of British Columbia, he is the subject of two biographies:

Amor de Cosmos (Ryserson Press, 1958). By Roland Wild.

Amor de Cosmos: Journalist and Reformer  (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1975) by George Woodcock.

As well, he is a prominent character in two novels about Texada Island published by Dean Unger.

[Alan Twigg / 2020]