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Amor de Cosmos, B.C.‘s second premier

The Story

Amor De Cosmos is an undeniably odd figure in British Columbian history, but in this 1977 episode of Morningside, author Abe Arnold argues De Cosmos should be remembered for more than just his eccentricities. Born William Alexander Smith, De Cosmos became a fiery critic of government policies and played a vital role in B.C.'s entry into Confederation and its development as a province. Listen in for a fascinating biography of B.C.'s second premier Amor De Cosmos, one of Canada's more unusual politicians.

Medium: Radio
Program: Don Harron's Morningside
Broadcast Date: Sept. 6, 1978
Guest(s): Abe Arnold
Host: Don Harron
Duration: 12:20

Did You know?

• William Alexander Smith changed his name to Amor de Cosmos at age 29 while living in California. One prevailing theory about the motive for the name change is that there were many William Smiths in California at the time, so his mail often went to the wrong person. • While he was a leading pro-Confederation figure, Amor De Cosmos still harbored some doubts about how B.C. would fare. He once famously remarked that he "would not object to a little revolution now and again in British Columbia, after Confederation, if we were treated unfairly."


• De Cosmos's newspaper The British Colonist survives today as the Victoria Times-Colonist. That's excellent longevity for a project De Cosmos once claimed he "started for amusement during the winter months."


• Amor De Cosmos was notorious for his violent verbal outbursts, where he would often break into tears and viciously insult his rivals, but he could offer more than just fighting words. De Cosmos was also quick with his fists and ever-present walking stick, sometimes getting into fights on the streets of Victoria.


• His unusual behaviour included a fear of electricity; he refused to have his house wired for electricity and he would not ride electric streetcars.


• As he grew older, Amor De Cosmos became increasingly drunk and pugnacious, wandering the streets of Victoria, fighting and speaking incoherently. He was eventually declared "of unsound mind" and died in 1897.




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