O'Reilly, Peter
b. 1827-03-27
d. 1905-09-03
Peter O'Reilly was born on 27 March 1827 in Ince, England, but raised in Ireland. After serving in the Irish civil service, he was appointed a lieutenant in the revenue police, he was honourably discharged in 1857. O'Reilly left Ireland for British Columbia on 5 February 1858 and arrived in Victoria via Panama in April. Upon his arrival, O'Reilly was appointed as stipendiary magistrate for Langley District, but soon transferred to Hope in 1859. In November of that year he became high sheriff of the colony, holding this position until 1866.1
In 1864 he was appointed chief gold commissioner.2 And in 1866, O'Reilly was sent to the Columbia River, near present day Revelstoke where a large portion of gold was discovered, here he was tasked with enforcement of the mining laws. Later, due to the union of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, O'Reilly's position as stipendiary magistrate changed, and in 1867 he was appointed as a county court judge.3 Throughout these changes in his career, O'Reilly had continuously sat in the British Columbia Legislative Council from 1863 until the colony joined Confederation in 1871.4 In 1880, O'Reilly served as Indian Reserve Commissioner; however, the reserves that he laid down in Metlakatla in 1882 were heavily and reasonably disputed by the Indigenous population. He served in this position for 18 years until his retirement at the age of 71 in 1898. In his “declining years,” O'Reilly spent his time in his garden, visiting friends, and attending church until his death from heart failure on 3 September 1905.5
  • 1. David Ricardo Williams, O'Reilly, Peter, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 2. J. B. Kerr, Biographical Dictionary of Well-Known British Columbians, (Kerr and Begg: Vancouver, 1890), 266.
  • 3. Williams, O'Reilly, Peter.
  • 4. Kerr, Biographical Dictionary, 266.
  • 5. Williams, O'Reilly, Peter.
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