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Royal Engineer to Reeve: The Life and Times of Philip Jackman

Philip Jackman’s life is the story of a pioneering spirit. The man went from humble beginnings as a farm labourer in Devon, England in the mid-19th century to a pillar of the community in Langley, BC before the turn of the century. Jackman was one of the Royal Engineers of the Columbia Detachment who decided to stay in British Columbia when it disbanded in 1863.

Jackman engaged in many ventures in the almost 70 years he spent in British Columbia. He sought fortune in the Cariboo gold rush, worked at the province’s first psychiatric institution, was a night watchman in New Westminster, mutinied while under the employ of the Canadian Pacific Railway, acted as a Fisheries Officer on the Fraser River, farmed and owned a general store in Aldergrove, served as Reeve of the Township of Langley, and outlived all other members of the Columbia Detachment of Royal Engineers.

This close inspection of Philip Jackman’s experiences provides insight into the backgrounds, motivations, and circumstances of those who volunteered to come to British Columbia. Additionally, his story reflects the experience of many who immigrated and settled in 19th and 20th century British Columbia.

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The Langley Centennial Museum wishes to thank the following people and organizations for their assistance and support for this project:

Dr. Virginia Cooke
Anne Duranceau, translator
Louise & Edwin Fossen
John Jackman
Keith Jackman
Terry Jackson
Anna Philpott
Barbara Pope
Sarah Sewell
Bill Swift
Valerie Switzer
Alder Grove Heritage Society
Anglican Diocese of British Columbia Archives
Valemount Museum & Archives
New Westminster Museum & Archives
New Westminster Public Library
Royal Engineer Museum, Library & Archives
City of Vancouver Archives