Judge Begbie's chair


This judicial chair was used by Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie when he presided over itinerant courts held in barrooms, hotels, and work camps during the gold rush. His sense of theatre and his respect for the Crown are well shown in this, his judicial chair. Simple, almost stark in design, it is over 1.6 m tall and was intended to impress the courtroom with its exaggerated size.

In 1858 the mainland colony of British Columbia was established by an Act of the British Parliament. In that same year, Begbie arrived from England to become the first Chief Justice of the colony, and he was quick to establish his legal authority. In fact, the relative social orderliness during the gold rush in the British Columbia interior were most probably the result of Begbie's rigid, but fair, enforcement of the law.

Date Range 
Place of Use 
Fraser River valley and canyon
166cm high, 61 cm wide, 52 cm deep
Museum Location 
Early Years preview gallery
Catalog Number 
City of Vancouver Archives