Excitement ran high at Fort Victoria with the arrival on May 10th, 1851, of the Hudson's Bay Company's annual supply ship, the barque, Tory, Captain Duncan. Not only had she brought the long awaited letters, papers and goods of all kinds but also among her passengers were Captain E. E. Langford, his wife, one son and five daughters. The Langfords were the first white family to arrive at the Fort direct from England. The scene as they landed was a study in contrasts. Against the dark green forest background and the rough stockaded fort, Indians wrapped in red Hudson's Bay blankets or clad in their own copper coloured skins, squatted on the rocks or mingled with the inhabitants of the Fort. All gazed fascinated as the mother and five lovely daughters tripped daintily up from the landing place dressed in the latest London fashions of crinolines, tight little bodices, shoulder capes and flower-bedecked bonnets. A rude shock awaited them at the Fort.
The only accommodation provided for them were two log huts of a single room each, one for the family of eight, the other for the large number of farm helpers that Captain Langford had brought with him. Captain Langford's wrath at this inadequate preparation to receive his family, accustomed to comfort, even luxury, in their home in England, was no doubt one of the causes of his hostile attitude toward officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during his stay in the Colony. Mrs. Staines, the kindly wife of the Company's chaplain, the Rev. Robert J. Staines, came to their rescue with an invitation to share her larger quarters in the Fort. Captain Edward Edwards Langford, a retired officer of the 73rd Regiment (later the 2nd Battalion, Black Watch), born in Brighton and owner of an estate of ~ome two hundred acres in Sussex, had been appointed by London headquarters of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company to take charge of one of their farms in Esquimalt. Captain Langford was a distant connection of Governor Blanshard. When another son was born soon after their arrival at Fort Victoria, Governor Blanshard lent his house to Mrs. Langford for her confinement. The brief, unhappy regime of Vancouver Island's first governor was nearly over when the Langfords arrived. Esquimalt Farm, locally known as Colwood Farm, was placed under Captain Langford's management. It was on the far side of Esquimalt Harbor, the most isolated of the four farms and the farthest away from the Fort. It had the great advantage, however, of being near the saw and grist mills, established in 1848 and 1850 respectively, near the mouth of Mill Stream.
The six hundred acre farm was not a compact block but long and narrow with a corridor, half a mile wide, running up from Esquimalt Harbor. Its waterfrontage was from Paterson Point to the mouth of Mill Stream. The landing place was a short distance below the present Parson's Bridge. The farm's lower boundary ran from Paterson Point to the northeast corner of the old Hatley Park estate, now the grounds of the Royal Canadian Naval College, Royal Roads. Swinging slightly north, it continued westward to the far end of Colwood Lake, that picturesque ribbon of water enclosed in the Royal Colwood Golf Course, whose fairways were once a part of the old Colwood Farm. From the lake's end the boundary turned at right angles and ran in a straight line until it met Mill Stream. It followed the course of Mill Stream back toward the harbor.
Just before the grist and saw mills were reached, it swung away from the stream and ran in a southeasterly direction to the harbor. The mills were left on neutral ground to be used by all the farms. The first trees were felled on Esquimalt Farm soon after the arrival of the Langfords. Indians and Kanakas, who were excellent axe men, together with the farm hands who had come out with Captain Langford in the Tory, worked with a will under his direction. The walls of the Langfords' future home were soon rising. The glass for the windows and bricks for the chimneys were brought from England in the Tory. Some small cottages were built for the men and their families. By the end of 1854 there were twelve dwelling houses, according to the report of Governor Douglas, with a population on the farm of thirty, including six children under ten years of age. By the same report, at the end of three and a half years' work, 190 acres of the heavily timbered land had been cleared.
The stock on the farm consisted of 13 horses, 9 milk cows, 8 working oxen, 14 other cattle, 523 sheep, 97 swine and 80 poultry. The main crops were wheat, oats, peas and wool. The Langfords called their new home "Colwood" after their old home in Sussex. For some reason, Captain Langford chose to build at the extreme end of the farm lands. The peppery Captain may have decided to remove his bevy of beauty as far as possible from the Fort, one daughter, Mary, having already incurred his displeasure on the voyage by falling in love with Herbert George Lewis, a very junior officer of the Tory, in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. Or his choice of homesite may have ·been guided by the beauty at the time of that section. Today we can glimpse something of its old-world loveliness in the fairways of the Colwood Golf Course. "Colwood" stood just south of the present entrance to the Golf Course, across the Island Highway which today runs from end to end of the old Esquimalt Farm property.
Mrs. Langford was a beautiful woman and a gracious hostess. Her five daughters, three of whom were grownup, were equally lovely, bright and vivacious. "Colwood" naturally became a center for the happy, carefree social life of the day. Naval officers from the ships anchored in Esquimalt Harbor, H.M.S. Thetis, H.M.S. Satellite, H.M.S. Plumper and others, thought nothing of the distance from the landing place to "Colwood." Picnics, riding parties and dances either at "Colwood" or aboard ship were the order of the day. A sister of Captain Langford came out to join them. She had been trained as a teacher in England and her brother had a school building put up for her near the house. Miss .Langford's school became a very popular "Academy for Young Ladies." A number of the daughters of Company officials, and two of Governor Douglas's daughters, Agnes and Alice, later Mrs. Arthur T. Bushby and Mrs. Charles Good, attended the school.
Mrs. Langford's sister, Miss Ellen Phillips, also joined the family at "Colwood" and became the wife of Dr. Alfred Robson Benson, one of the first physicians in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. Two of the Langford daughters married naval officers, Louisa Ellen or Louie, the eldest, married Captain John J . S. Josling in England in 1857. They had met in Esquimalt when Captain Josling was 2nd Lieutenant of H.M.S. Thetis, which was on this station from 1851 to 1853, in command of Captain Augustus L. Kuper, C.B. Emma, the third sister, married John Augustus Bull, R.N., Master of H.M. survey ship Plumper, and senior assistant surveyor under Captain George Henry Richards from 1857 to 1860. They were married at "Colwood" on February 7th, 1860. Their romance was short-lived for Captain Bull died suddenly at Esquimalt on November 14th of the same year at the age of twenty-seven. He was buried in the old Quadra Street cemetery in Victoria.
Captain Langford took a very active part in the public affairs of the young colony. He constituted himself an unofficial "leader of the opposition." He was always "aggravating the government" and deluged the Office of the Secretary of State for the Colonies with indictments of the Hudson's Bay Company and the Colonial government. He was among those who strongly opposed and circulated a petition, sent to the Colonial Secretary, against the appointment in 1854 of Mr. David Cameron. a brother-in-law of Governor Douglas, as Judge of the Supreme Court of Civil Justice of Vancouver Island. Captain Langford refused to admit that there was no suitable person with the legal training, which Mr. Cameron lacked, in the Colony at the time. The Colonial Secretary confirmed the appointment of Judge Cameron and also his appointment, two years later, to the Chief Justiceship, a position he upheld with dignity and rare commonsense. Captain Langford was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Esquimalt District in 1854. When representative government was introduced for the first time on Vancouver Island in 1856, he was nominated and elected as one of the members for Victoria. Lack of the necessary property qualifications-ownership of freehold property to the value of £300-prevented him from taking his seat in the first Legislative Assembly. He blamed Company officials for forestalling his application to purchase property on Dallas Bank, Esquimalt Harbor. Captain W. Colquhoun Grant, our first independent settler, who had arrived at Fort Victoria in 1849, was a frequent visitor at "Colwood." He was a dashing, young· cavalry officer, late of the Royal Scots Greys.
He too had a grievance against the Hudson's Bay Company. He had found all lands within a reasonable distance of the Fort reserved for the Company or its servants and was forced to take up land at Sooke. Captain Grant had much 111 common with Captain Langford and it was he who surveyed and named Langford Lake and Langford Plains after his friend. Another friend, Captain Richards of H.M.S. Plumper, while charting this coast from 1857 to 1863, gave the names of some of the Langford family to places in Nootka Sound. Port Langford in Nuchatlitz Inlet, Nootka Sound, he named after the Captain. In the same neighborhood, he named Louie Creek after the eldest daughter; Mary Basin after the second daughter; Sophia Range after Sophia Elizabeth, the fourth, and Florence Point after Florence Isabella, the fifth daughter. On January 12th, 1861, Captain Langford and his family returned to England. Mary Langford had remained true to her first love and was still unmarried when they left "Colwood." Twenty years after he first met Mary, George Lewis, by this time Captain Lewis, followed her to England and married her there. They returned to spend many happy years in Victoria.
Nothing of "Colwood" is left standing today. Slowly disintegrating from neglect and decay, it was finally pulled down. The masonry walls of the old dairy still stand without roof, door or windows, the only memento of the past. To early pioneers of Captain Langford's character, sterling and upright though unadaptable, this colony was indebted for the championing of certain democratic principles. To his wife and daughters we owe a great debt. They brought to the life of this crude, young fur-trading post a grace and daintiness of living. The women of the Langford family, the first complete family to arrive direct from England, reproduced in this new land the way of life in their English home, the lovely flower garden, the homelike surroundings, the dainty, fashionable costumes and the good manners to which they were accustomed. They planted on this southern tip of Vancouver Island "a little bit of Old England."