Mount Douglas
This 260-metre hill is located on southwest Vancouver Island. Originally known as “The Hill of Cedars”, or simply Cedar Hill, officials turned it into a Government Reserve in 1858, and later renamed it Mount Douglas, after Governor James Douglas, in 1910.1 In an 1850 despatch, Blanshard refers to a Hudson's Bay Company survey, delineating HBC lands as the area bounded by a line drawn nearly due North from the head of Victoria harbour to a hill marked on the charts as Cedar Hill, or Mount Douglas. Cedar Hill provided settlers with lumber to build the palisades surrounding Fort Victoria in the early 1840s.2
Human use of Mount Douglas goes back much further for WSANEC people. It began when XÁLS, the Creator, brought stones from Cordova Bay and stood on the hill, named PKOLS, creating mountains by placing stones on the land around him.3 In the SENĆOŦEN language, PKOLS means “White Head” or “White Rock”, which alludes to an oral history of the Coast Salish people that identify PKOLS as the place where glaciers last receded from Southern Vancouver Island.4
Tensions surrounding the re-naming of PKOLS to Mt. Doug stem from differing versions of Governor Douglas's meeting with the local First Nations at the top of PKOLS. In general, First Nations do not see this meeting as a land settlement, some having reported the agreement as one that would allow settlers to live and farm on their land in exchange for regular payments.5 This event and the treaties signed with Douglas is still debated today.6
Dispute over the hill and its name is ongoing; in 2013 Chief Eric Pelkey led a group of Coast Salish people and hundreds of local supporters up the mountain to place a hand-carved sign at its summit. First Nations reclaiming of Mount Douglas as PKOLS represents a small bit of decolonization on Vancouver Island.7
Mentions of this place in the documents
People in this document

Blanshard, Richard

Douglas, James

Places in this document

Cordova Bay

Vancouver Island