Arthur Thomas Bushby

Arthur Thomas Bushby. Amateur musician, civil servant, b London 2 Mar 1835, d New Westminster, BC, 18 May 1875. Bushby's 1856 diary shows that he played violin and sang in musical societies in London. He spent the summer of 1856 in Italy, studying voice, piano, and Italian.

Bushby, Arthur Thomas

Arthur Thomas Bushby. Amateur musician, civil servant, b London 2 Mar 1835, d New Westminster, BC, 18 May 1875. Bushby's 1856 diary shows that he played violin and sang in musical societies in London. He spent the summer of 1856 in Italy, studying voice, piano, and Italian. On Christmas Day 1858 he arrived via Panama in Victoria (colony of Vancouver Island), and two months later, on 8 Feb 1859, he entered the civil service in New Westminster (capital of the mainland colony of British Columbia), where he became registrar-general, postmaster-general, and county court judge.

This versatile and public-spirited young Englishman did much to foster music in the two colonies. He was a founding member on 26 Jan 1859 of the Victoria Philharmonic Society, the first amateur musical organization in what is now British Columbia. As honorary secretary he organized the society's first concert, 6 May 1859. Even after his headquarters were in New Westminster, he continued to sing at the society's charity concerts. According to Mrs Israel Wood Powell, a contemporary amateur musician, Bushby 'possessed a tenor voice of beautiful quality and his solos and duets were rendered with true artistic skill' (N. de Bertrand Lugrin, The Pioneer Women of Vancouver Island, 1843-1866, Victoria 1927). In New Westminster Bushby played violin, piano, cornet, and drum at dances in support of worthy causes, and he trained the choir of Holy Trinity Church. In the Cariboo he took part in the concerts of the miners and on one occasion 'favored the audience with an original composition containing many local hits' (Barkerville Cariboo Sentinel, 15 Feb 1873). The manuscripts of a dozen or so of Bushby's occasional pieces 1856-74 are held by the Provincial Archives of BC. One of these, the British Columbia March, 1874, is reproduced in The Canadian Music Journal (Summer 1958). A list of Bushby's works is given in History of Music in BC.


Further Reading

  • Provincial Archives of BC. Bushby Journals (1856, 1858-9, 1860, 1864, 1872-4); music (1856-74)

    Smith, Dorothy Blakey, ed. 'The journal of Arthur Thomas Bushby, 1858-59,' BC Hist Q, vol 21, Jan-Oct 1957-58

    - 'Music in the furthest west a hundred years ago,' CMJ, vol 2, Summer 1958

    DCB, vol 10