Walkem, George Anthony
b. 1834-11-15
d. 1908-01-13
Walkem was born in Northern Ireland on 15 November 1834 and emigrated with his family to Canada in 1847. Walkem went to McGill College to study law and in 1858 was called to the bar of Lower Canada and in 1861, Upper Canada. In 1862, during the Cariboo gold-rush, Walkem moved to British Columbia where he applied for admission to the bar under Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie. However, Begbie refused him because Walkem was not British educated.1 Walkem's father wrote a letter in protest, as mentioned in this despatch, which led to Douglas defending Walkem's request to practice law in British Columbia to Newcastle. In June 1863, the Legal Professions Act allowed colonial lawyers to plead in court, and on 21 November 1863, Walkem was admitted to practice law in the Supreme Court.2
In 1864, Walkem became the representative for the Cariboo East and Quesnel Forks District, and after the 1866 union between Vancouver Island and British Columbia, Walkem maintained his seat on the expanded legislative council.3
On 23 December 1872, Amor De Cosmos replaced John Foster McCreight as Premier of British Columbia and held that position until 1883. As a member of De Cosmos' administration in the position of attorney general, Walkem was placed in charge during the Premier's numerous absences, and after De Cosmos stepped down in 1874, Walkem replaced him, making Walkem the third premier of British Columbia until 1876. In 1875, Walkem was accused of putting British Columbia in debt as well as having done nothing to start the construction of the promised railway. Walkem's political career continued to decline, and in 1876, Walkem's administration lost by two votes and he resigned. Walkem's administration came into power again in 1878, also making him British Columbia's fifth premier until 1882.4
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