Houghton, Captain Charles Frederick
b. 1839-04-26
d. 1898-08-13
Charles Frederick Houghton was born 26 April 1839 in County Kilkenny, in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland. Houghton joined the British army around age sixteen and rose to the rank of Captain by 1861. After a limited tour during the Crimean War, Houghton retired to capitalize on grants offered to military captains who were willing to settle in British Columbia. He emigrated with his friends, Forbes and Charles Vernon, in July 1863.1
Houghton left Britain with the expectation that all land purchases would come with a remission of £400 to £300. However, after his arrival, Houghton learned that Governor James Douglas reduced that remission by 4/5ths. Houghton felt the government owed him and pleaded his case to Douglas, who rejected the claim. Houghton then reached out to the Crown. British officials happily assisted Houghton, partially because they considered British Columbia a vulnerable colony and wanted more British officers to settle there. By May 1864, the Legislative Council passed a law which exempted military officers from Douglas's proclamation – as long as said officers emigrated before the official announcements in August 1863.
Houghton and the Vernon brothers settled in the Okanagan region, where Houghton ran a cattle ranch for many years.2 Houghton also assisted Arthur Birch and his man, Mr. Turner, explore the southern bend of the Columbia River and the Kootenay Region in late 1864.
In 1872, a last-minute election awarded Houghton with a seat in the House of Commons. After Confederation, British Columbia called for six representatives to send to Ottawa. Arthur T. Bushby, the Postmaster of Houghton's region, forgot to collect nominations and managed to gather a three-person assembly the night of the deadline. The assembly agreed to nominate Houghton. Houghton spent two terms in Ottawa before he abandoned his seat to join the Canadian military.3
Houghton married Marion Dunsmuir in 1879 while stationed in Victoria, despite his near decade-long marriage to Sophie N'Kwala.4 The daughter of an Okanagan band chief, N'Kwala had a son and daughter with Houghton before he left. When Marion died in 1892, Houghton called on his daughter from his previous marriage to live with him in Montreal.
After doctors diagnosed him with throat cancer, Houghton moved back to Victoria to stay with his old friend Charles Vernon. Houghton died there on 13 August 1898.5
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