Peter O'Reilly Mapping Project

Peter O'Reilly was an important person back in his day. As magistrate, sheriff, gold commissioner, and Indian reserve commissioner, he wielded considerable power and helped shape British Columbia into what it is today. This website is about his work as Indian reserve commissioner, when he travelled all across the province by steamship, canoe, horse, and foot to established the boundaries of Indian reserves from 1880-1897.

Peter O'Reilly.

Photograph of Peter O'Reilly. BC Archives, 198311-009 box 6

Horse and carriage

Photo of horse-drawn carriage at Elk Lake, Victoria. BC Archives, 199305-0057006

Talking about O'Reilly's work creating reserves is difficult and complicated. As you will see, he undeniably caused harm to Indigenous peoples by upholding colonial government policies that resulted in the vast land dispossession. The process of reserve creation ignored many Indigenous voices, and government officials like O'Reilly acumulated considerable wealth for themselves at the expense of Indigenous. However, as with all difficult pasts, there are other perspectives that are also important aspects of this story, including O'Reilly's and the Canadian and BC governments's perspectives. This website explores these different perspectives.