British Columbia Emigration Society
The British Columbia Emigration Society, also known as the BC Female Emigration Society and the Female Middle-Class Emigration Society (FMCES), was an operation dedicated to bringing women to the colony.1
It is unclear who first initiated the society. It seems that in the late 1850s, an Anglican minister, Robert C. Brown of Lillooet, began the Columbia Emigration Society to arrange for young women from England to be sent to Cariboo as potential brides for miners.2 Although Brown may have initiated the first-known reports of the society, it was, particularly, Miss Maria Rye who successfully helped female emigrants enter the country byway of the steamships Tynemouth and Robert Lowe.3
The society in conjunction with the Female Immigration Committee was one of the early schemes to fill the servant void and to increase the population in BC, as seen with the arrival of the Tynemouth. Victoria's Daily Press wrote that the society intended to facilitate the emigration of industrious women […] to the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.4 Maria Rye worked closely with the society in 1862, although she had disregard [for] the FMCES' mission of recruiting only middle-class women. Instead, Rye recruited working-class women due to the labour market in British Columbia. During this time, the FMCES focused on robust workers and potential brides, although not all the female emigrants aided were young and single.5
The society's first emigration effort took place in 1862, in which 60 girls and women sailed from Dartmouth to Victoria, BC on the Tynemouth. The Daily Press reported that 50 of the emigrants had obtained free passage from the society.6 Upon their arrival in the Victoria harbour in September 1862, many newspapers reported on the large crowd of anxious suitors and hopeful employers gathered to greet and inspect the women. Due to the society's goal to bring about ‘potential brides and workers,' brought men to the harbour who awaited their arrival, they were described by The British Colonist as breeches-wearing bipeds assembled to see the women disembark.7
Mentions of this organization in the documents
People in this document

Rye, Maria Susan

Vessels in this document

Robert Lowe


Places in this document

British Columbia

Cariboo Region


Vancouver Island


Victoria Harbour