His Honor Judge Frederick William Howay (1867–1943)British Columbia Marine Historian

by John M. MacFarlane 2011

Judge William Frederick Howay

Judge William Frederick Howay

Today the name of Frederick W. Howay means little to British Columbians who are unaware of the huge contribution he made to the study of British Columbia’s history – particularly its nautical history. He was born in London Ontario on 25/11/1867. His father moved to BC in 1869 and was joined by his wife and children in 1870. Howay attended school in New Westminster BC. He passed the Provincial Teacher's examinations and in December 1884 he was appointed as a school teacher.He then taught at Canoe Pass and Boundary Bay schools in what is now Delta BC.

Three years later he entered Dalhousie University graduating in 1890. While in Halifax, Howay wrote articles on law, politics, temperance, and B.C. personalities, which were published in various B.C. papers. He entered the British Columbia Bar in 1891, practicing law in New Westminster.Howie was narrowly defeated in a 1906 election as a Liberal candidate in the provincial election. He was appointed as a Judge of the County Court of New Westminster on 14/10/1907 (as F.W. Howie) and served until 1937. He changed the spelling of his name from Howie to Howay.He retired from the Bench on 30/11/1937.

He served on the New Westminster School Board and later as an Alderman of the City of New Westminster. He was the President of the Art, Historical and Scientific Society 1910–1915. He was President for many terms of the New Westminster Fellowship on the Arts. He was a member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada 1923-45. He served as a Senator of the University of British Columbia 1915-42.

In 1933, he was awarded the Royal Society of Canada’s J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society. In 1932, he was elected to the American Antiquarian Society.[3] From 1941 to 1942, he was president of the Royal Society of Canada. He also served as a member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, briefly serving as its interim chairman. In 1933, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of British Columbia.

Mount Judge Howay, north of Stave Lake (BC) and Howay Island (BC) was named for him and a Fisheries Protection Vessel (F.P.V. Howay) was named in his honour as is the F.W. Howay Community School (where the plaque honouring him as a nationally significant person is located. He died at New Westminster BC on 04/10/1943.

Judge William Frederick Howay

He was a productive writer and published a large body of work, including:

  • – British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 1 with Ethelbert Olaf Stuart Scholefield (S.J. Clarke, 1913)
  • – British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 2 with Ethelbert Olaf Stuart Scholefield (S.J. Clarke, 1913)
  • – British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 3 (Biographical) with Ethelbert Olaf Stuart Scholefield (S.J. Clarke, 1913)
  • – British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 4 (Biographical) with Ethelbert Olaf Stuart Scholefield (S.J. Clarke, 1913)
  • – The Early History of the Fraser River Mines (C.F. Banfield, 1926)
  • – British Columbia: The Making of a Province (The Ryerson press, 1928)
  • – Builders of the West: A Book of Heroes (The Ryerson Press, 1929)
  • – The Hawaiian Islands with Frank Alfred Golder and George Verne Blue (Captain Cook Sesquicentennial Commission, 1930)
  • – The Voyage of the New Hazard to the Northwest Coast, Hawaii and China, 1810-1813 with Stephen Reynolds (Peabody museum, 1938)
  • – British Columbia and the United States with Henry Forbes Angus and Walter Noble Sage(The Ryerson Press, 1942)
  • – The Journal of Captain James Colnett aboard the Argonaut from April 26, 1789 to November 3, 1791 (The Champlain Society, 1940)
  • – The Dixon-Meares Controversy (De Capo Press, New York, N.Y. 1969)
  • – Early Shipping in Burrard Inlet, 1863–1870 (s.n., s.l. 1937)

His collections of maps and charts were donated to the University of British Columbia. The Frederic William Howay Map Collection (68 plans) consists of maps relating to the discovery and exploration of the Pacific Northwest, in various scales and formats including glass slides, photostats, and published maps, some of which are annotated. For more information the Howay-Reid collection, please go to http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/howayreidmaps.html

He became a serious historian and author of books and papers on the history of British Columbia in the 1890s. The four volume work was the standard text for British Columbia well into the 1950s and is still regularly cited by researchers. His publications, articles and lectures helped to popularize interest in British Columbia's marine heritage and he could be fairly characterized as the "father of the study of British Columbia's nautical history".


To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2011) His Honor Judge Frederick William Howay (1867–1943) - British Columbia Marine Historian Nauticapedia.ca 2012. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Judge_Howay.php

New Nauticapedia Book Just Published!

Volume Four in series

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia's Floating Heritage Volume Four

Book — British Columbia's Floating Heritage
For more information …

Site News: November 13th, 2017

Databases have been updated and are now holding 50,543 vessel histories (with 4,571 images) and 57,599 mariner biographies (with 3,482 images).


© 2002-2017