Two Authors Tell Differing Tales of Duel in Victoria

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So, should we believe a learned judge turned historian or a former Speaker of the B.C. legislature with imaginative writing style when it comes to colourful B.C. history?

Both Judge F.W. Howay and a former Speaker D.W. Higgins tell the story of Victoria's only documented duel resulting in death on an 1858 afternoon, but with different gunmen in the lead roles -- and different backdrops to the event.

Howay, in his scholarly history British Columbia, tells the story of the shootout between Vancouver Street and Kanaka Row (now Penwell Street) in less than a dozen paragraphs.

He writes about two men -- John Collins and "Tip the Boatman" William Morris -- who "had a misunderstanding at the cricket ground at Beacon Hill."

Words led to blows, Morris punched Collins, a challenge to a duel followed, and the pair met later armed with six-shooters and ready to fight. Friends tried to persuade them to shake hands and go home but to no avail.

Howay tells us "three shots were fired ... at the third Collins fell mortally wounded."

Morris fled town, crossed the Juan de Fuca Strait to Port Townsend and made his way to San Francisco, where he was later arrested for complicity in a Nevada Stage Coach murder...

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