Peers, Henry Newsham
b. 1821-03-17
d. 1864-03-27
Henry Newsham Peers was born at Lymington, Hampshire, England on March 17, 1821 to father Captain H. Peers. He became an apprentice clerk in the Montreal Department of the Hudson's Bay Company in January of 1841, though from 1841-1843, he worked at Lachine, Canada East. Then in 1843, Peers worked as an apprentice clerk in the Columbia District and as a clerk until March 1848 for Fort Vancouver under Richard Lane and Thomas Lowe. Following the Oregon Treaty in June of 1846, which established the border between the US and the British territories, Peers became port agent of the HBC at Baker's Bay in an attempt to maintain the HBC's Columbia trade.1
In the autumn of 1846, Peers was elected to represent Vancouver County in the second regular session of the assembly established by the provisional government of Oregon. As representative, Peers prepared the Oregon petition of December 19, 1846 which was important because it urged the United States Congress to confirm land titles, adopt measures for education, and establish navigational facilities on the Columbia River. Then in the summer of 1848, Peers was asked to relocate Anderson's 1846 route to the Fraser. This he did by finding a route from Kamloops to the Coquihalla River. This new route was important because of American customs duties on goods landed at Fort Vancouver.2
Furthermore, in October of 1848, Peers established Fort Hope on the Fraser River in order to open up his new passage to Peers Creek, the Sowaqua River, Similkameen Valley, Kamloops, and Otter Lake where the new route would rejoin Anderson's track of 1846. This new road…provided a viable all-British route from the interior…[and] was ready to use by both outbound and inbound brigades in the summer of 1850.3
In 1851, Peers married Eliza Yale at Fort Langley, where he worked as a clerk. In September of 1851, Peers left his position to move to Cowlitz Farm, where he was in charge until 1857. On March 30, 1853, Peers was commissioned a chief trader. In addition, for three months during the Indian Wars of 1855-1856, Peers was captain of the 1st Regiment of the Cowlitz Rangers. On June 1st, 1859, Peers officially retired from the HBC and moved to Colquitz Farm, near Victoria, on Vancouver Island. On his farm, he constructed a saw and grist mill and spent the remainder of his retirement farming his land until his death on March 27, 1864.4
  • 1. William R. Sampson, Peers, Henry Newsham, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
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