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Title: Pageant of B.C.: Glimpses into the romantic development of Canada's far western province.
Author: McKelvie, Bruce Alistair (1889-1960)
Date of first publication: 1955
Edition used as base for this ebook: [Toronto]: Thomas Nelson, undated
Date first posted: 30 January 2017
Date last updated: April 18, 2017
Faded Page ebook#20170459

This ebook was produced by: Al Haines

Publisher's Note: Because of copyright considerations, the illustrations by Frank Newfeld have been omitted from this etext.

As part of the conversion of the book to its new digital format, we have made certain minor adjustments in its layout.





Printed in Canada
in 11 point Baskerville type
by The Hunter Rose Co. Limited
Toronto, Ontario


By B. A. McKelvie

Tales of Conflict
Fort Langley, Outpost of Empire
Black Canyon
Maquinna the Magnificent
Pelts and Powder


The history of the Pacific Slope of Canada is not parochial. Its contacts have been with many lands and peoples.

The present work is composed of more than one hundred incidents and phases of that history, arranged chronologically. There has been no attempt to write a formal history, but rather to select a few of the thousands of colourful happenings which have contributed to the romantic story of British Columbia. It has been said that "the inspirational records of the past form the background of citizenship." It is in keeping with this truism that the "Pageant of B.C." is offered to the public.

These stories first appeared in serial form in The Vancouver Daily Province, between February 1953 and March 1955, and it is with the kind permission of the Publisher of that great newspaper that they now appear in book form.

Preparation of the different narratives has extended over a long period of time, and required careful research. In this work the assistance of many is gratefully acknowledged, and more especially Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist; Willard E. Ireland, B.C. Archivist and his capable staff; Mrs. J. H. Hamilton, nee Madge Wolfenden, former Assistant B.C. Archivist; Miss Margery Holmes, former Assistant Librarian, Provincial Library, Victoria, B.C.; deep appreciation is expressed of the unfailing courtesy of the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company for many favours, and especially for information relative to happenings at forts St. John, St. James, Fraser and George.

Similarly, thanks are tendered to the Massachusetts Historical Society which so kindly assisted me in respect to the voyages of the 'Columbia' to the West Coast in 1789-1792. The Society also put me in touch with Dr. Gray Twombley of New York, owner of the picture of Fort Defiance made on the scene by artist George Davidson. To Dr. Twombley I am indebted for permission to reproduce the sketch. To such fine pioneers as Matt Crawford, who personally assisted in the making of Canada's Pacific Province, and who made their experiences available for the record, I also want to pay tribute. Mr. Crawford, the last survivor of the little group present when the last spike on the C.P.R. was driven at Craigellachie, dictated his recollections of that day shortly before his passing.

There is one other acknowledgement that I wish to make, and with a grateful heart. It is to H. G. Grieve, M.D., eye specialist, whose God-given skill gave me the sight with which to write this book.

B. A. McKelvie,
Cobble Hill, B.C.



      1   Chapter     1   In the Beginning
      5   Chapter     2   Lure of the Orient
      7   Chapter     3   The Mythical Strait
    10   Chapter     4   Bering the Daring
    12   Chapter     5   Brave Men in Small Ships
    14   Chapter     6   Mystery in the Mist
    16   Chapter     7   Cook at Nootka
    19   Chapter     8   Music and Medicine
    21   Chapter     9   Strange Raises Flag
    23   Chapter   10   Fur Trading Honeymoon
    26   Chapter   11   Glory, Glitter and Saucepans
    29   Chapter   12   Meares Builds Schooner
    31   Chapter   13   Dons Seize Nootka
    34   Chapter   14   Song of Friendship
    36   Chapter   15   Spain Was Haughty
    39   Chapter   16   The Inland Sea
    41   Chapter   17   Supernatural Visitors
    43   Chapter   18   Merry Christmas
    45   Chapter   19   Kendrick Speculates
    48   Chapter   20   Vancouver Arrives
    50   Chapter   21   The Lions' Gateway
    52   Chapter   22   Vancouver Meets Dons
    55   Chapter   23   Dinners and Diplomacy
    57   Chapter   24   By Land from Canada
    60   Chapter   25   Britain & Spain Agree
    63   Chapter   26   Survivor Becomes Slave
    65   Chapter   27   Maquinna's Revenge
    68   Chapter   28   Freed from Slavery
    70   Chapter   29   Fraser Forms Posts
    73   Chapter   30   The Great River
    75   Chapter   31   Fort Beyond the Mountains
    78   Chapter   32   Race for an Empire
    80   Chapter   33   Death Laden Tonquin
    82   Chapter   34   Kamloops is Started
    85   Chapter   35   Sovereignty Fixed
    87   Chapter   36   Nations Claim New Lands
    90   Chapter   37   Find Mouth of Fraser
    93   Chapter   38   Treacherous Attacks
    96   Chapter   39   Fort Langley Rises
    98   Chapter   40   Quaw Spares Douglas
  101   Chapter   41   Joy & Tragedy
  103   Chapter   42   Moved Amid Danger
  106   Chapter   43   Fort McLoughlin
  108   Chapter   44   Steamer Splashes to Coast
  111   Chapter   45   Cold War at Dease Lake
  113   Chapter   46   Fort Victoria Built
  115   Chapter   47   Victim of Superstition
  118   Chapter   48   New Fur Brigade Route
  120   Chapter   49   U.S. Abandons Claim
  123   Chapter   50   Tzouhalem Attacks Victoria
  125   Chapter   51   Island Becomes Colony
  128   Chapter   52   Planned Gaelic Community
  130   Chapter   53   Douglas Brings Gold
  132   Chapter   54   Preaches, Farms & Teaches
  135   Chapter   55   Blanshard Proclaims Government
  137   Chapter   56   Colliers Go on Strike
  140   Chapter   57   Navy Attacks Natives
  142   Chapter   58   The Saving Vaccine
  145   Chapter   59   Gold Ore Sinks
  147   Chapter   60   Organized Farming Starts
  150   Chapter   61   Songhees Given Lesson
  152   Chapter   62   Indian Tells of Coal
  155   Chapter   63   Trial by Jury
  157   Chapter   64   Voltigeurs Protect Colony
  159   Chapter   65   Failure Put to Teaching
  162   Chapter   66   Court Started in Turmoil
  164   Chapter   67   Coal Centre Develops
  167   Chapter   68   Heroism of Douglas
  169   Chapter   69   Douglas Saved U.S. Towns
  172   Chapter   70   House Starts with Crisis
  174   Chapter   71   Wild Rush to Fraser
  177   Chapter   72   Miners Build Road
  179   Chapter   73   Engineers & Marines Help
  182   Chapter   74   New Colony Is Born
  184   Chapter   75   Rush Changes Island
  187   Chapter   76   Two Justices—No Peace
  189   Chapter   77   Moody Selects Site
  192   Chapter   78   San Juan Invasion
  194   Chapter   79   First Legislative Buildings
  197   Chapter   80   Helped to Start Alberni
  199   Chapter   81   Rock Creek Proved Rich
  202   Chapter   82   Law Comes to Cariboo
  204   Chapter   83   Gave Gold by Pound
  207   Chapter   84   Single Vote Election
  209   Chapter   85   Oratory Changes Road Route
  212   Chapter   86   Bride Ships Arrive
  214   Chapter   87   Douglas Retires as Governor
  217   Chapter   88   Klatsassin Starts War
  219   Chapter   89   Burrard Inlet Settled
  222   Chapter   90   Island Colony Ends
  224   Chapter   91   Kootenay Miners Were Tough
  227   Chapter   92   Fixing the Capital
  229   Chapter   93   Colony Joins Dominion
  232   Chapter   94   New Creeks Mined
  234   Chapter   95   Lord Carnarvon Changes Terms
  237   Chapter   96   Fenians Threaten Victoria
  239   Chapter   97   C.P.R. Completed
  242   Chapter   98   Granville Changes Name
  244   Chapter   99   Vancouver Destroyed
  247   Chapter 100   Vancouver Charter Suspended
  249   Chapter 101   Kootenay Trouble Spot
  252   Chapter 102   Fortune For Fees
  254   Chapter 103   Victoria Anchors Capital
  257   Chapter 104   Rush to Klondyke
  259   Chapter 105   Fire Damages Royal City
  261   Chapter 106   Development & Sacrifice

facing pages 88; 120; 184.


When and by whom British Columbia was first inhabited is unknown. It is believed that there were successive races in occupation of the Pacific Slope in prehistoric days, but their identity and the order of their coming and going have not been determined. Evidences that have come to light in ancient burial mounds, in the speech of native tribes, in customs and ceremonies, and in occasional discoveries of primitive artifacts have led scientific investigators to agree that Mongolian influences have been a strong factor in populating the country west of the Rocky Mountains. Some research students advance arguments in an effort to establish that these Asiatic migrations included definite groups of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Northern Mongolians, while other anthropologists contend that traces of the impact of Polynesian culture may also be discerned.

There are some definite facts that give support to several of these contentions. In 1882, miners in Cassiar uncovered a number of Chinese bronze coins while running a tunnel into a hill. The coins were threaded on to an iron rod that disintegrated when exposed to the air. The money was brought to Victoria where it was identified as coinage of China such as was circulated about 2,000 B.C. Several years later, the Chinese interpreter of the Supreme Court at Victoria encountered Indians near Telegraph Creek who had possession of several solid-silver Buddhist ceremonial dishes. They asserted that they had found them beneath the roots of a large tree. The natives would not part with the vessels, but did give the interpreter a large brass disc—some two and a half inches in diameter—one of several found in one of the dishes. The interpreter could not decipher the ideographic characters on the disc. Upon his return to Victoria he gave it to His Honour Judge Eli Harrison, who submitted it to experts in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington for study. They identified it as a Buddhist charm, of a type that had not been manufactured for more than 1,500 years. This disc is now in the possession of a collector in Oregon.

When the streets of Nanaimo were being laid out, the road foreman discovered, eleven feet underground, a Japanese sword. It was sheathed in a wooden scabbard that was protected by closely wound silvered copper wire. The handle was of shark skin. The blade had not deteriorated by rusting. A Japanese archaeologist who inspected it declared the weapon to be of great antiquity. It is still in possession of the family of the road foreman.

In different localities, and especially on the littoral of the Gulf of Georgia and up the Fraser River as far as Lytton, quaintly carved stone figures have been found. They range from one of about two inches in height to a recent discovery fourteen inches high. They evidence the workmanship of a highly artistic and skilled people. The majority of these figurines depict a man holding a bowl. The features are well modelled and portray people of determined character, with prominent noses and protruding large round eyes, and with ears—and some noses—pierced for ornaments. Distinctive head-dresses are also featured. That these receptacles were for some special purpose may be inferred from the evident care and patience expended in their manufacture.

According to Li yan tcheou, a Chinese historian of the early seventh century, a band of Buddhist priests crossed the Pacific and coasted south from Alaska, finally settling in the Kingdom of Fusang (believed by some to have been Mexico). They left China in the year 458 A.D.—about the time that the Romans were leaving Great Britain—and in 499 A.D. the last of the priests, Hoei shin by name, returned to China and his story was recorded. This written account would be roughly 1,000 years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

None of the puzzles of the past is more interesting than the possibility that Jews from China were at one time located on the Coast, and remained there long enough to leave the imprint of their culture upon that of the tribes whom they encountered.

It is an historical fact that Jews were once powerful in China.[*] The theory has been advanced that when Kublai Khan made his ill-starred expedition against Japan—towards the end of the thirteenth century—his fleet was dispersed by storm and was blown out into the Pacific Ocean, and junks bearing the Jewish contingent of his troops made the great drift and landed on the American coast—possibly in the vicinity of the Queen Charlotte Islands, or the Nass River.

[*] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, III, 156—"During the early years the Jews of China scrupulously avoided inter-marriage, kept the laws of Israel, enjoyed complete equality, reached high office, acquired considerable competence and were known to their neighbours as 'Tiao Ching Chiao', 'the sect that plucks out the sinew'. While there is evidence that they once had a flourishing religious and communal life and maintained numerous synagogues, little or nothing is known of the community but the one in Kai-fung-foo."

Some of the treasures of Torah scrolls, manuscripts and records of the Kai-fung-foo colony are now in the Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.

The late Father Jean Marie Le Jeune, probably the greatest linguist who worked among the British Columbia Indians, recorded that he had found Hebraic words in every native language west of the Rockies.

Coast Indian customs that are suggestive of Hebraic ceremonies and usages include: first fruit offerings, the ceremonials observed in taking the first salmon and oolichan (candle fish) of the season.

Purification Rites: the fastings, social constraint, and frequent bathing of hunters and warriors preparatory to an expedition.

Wearing of the fringes: the ceremonial dress of the Medicine Man or Chief of some Coast tribes is reminiscent of that of the Jewish Priest, with a mitred head-dress, a blanket with its totemistic design giving the effect of a breast-plate, and with its fringes.

Fasting from Sunset to Sunset: this was meticulously followed by hunters and warriors in spiritual and physical preparation for their undertakings.

Measurement of Time: the Indian system of division of seasons, months and days, was similar to that of the Jewish calendar.

Father Morice, the great historian of the Dene peoples, has noted in his examination of their habits that certain customs enforced upon female adolescents were similar to those of the Jews.

So it is, that numerous distinctive habits and ways of Coast Indians suggest that long ago Jews from China—the most likely place—visited the littoral of the North Pacific. There is no evidence for assuming that there is a biological relationship between the Jews and Indians—but rather the contrary, for a race that had preserved its insularity in China during centuries when that nation was far advanced in learning and culture, would not be expected to intermarry with the untutored barbarians of the Coast; but any customs observed and the speech used by the strangers would be copied by the savages. Thus, it is possible that a lasting imprint of a stay amidst the tribes would be made.


When Christopher Columbus returned to Spain to announce the discovery of new continents, Pope Alexander VI issued a Bull dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal. This generous act of the Holy See in 1493 almost plunged the civilized nations into a general war three centuries later for possession of what is now Canada's western seaboard. Spain, relying upon the validity of the Pope's gift of 1493, tried to close Pacific waters to Britain.

Spain, following the conquest of Mexico and the crossing of the Darien Isthmus by Balboa, entered upon the navigation of the Pacific. Gradually exploration was pushed northward from Mexican ports until examination had been made of the shores as far as Lower California. Then enterprise lapsed, there being little incentive at the time for extending exploration; ships were small and the seas, climate and the peoples of the more distant areas were unknown. There was sufficient scope for Spanish energy in repressing the natives of conquered lands and in superintending them in production of wealth for Spain.

It was an era of geographic discovery and the extension of trade and commerce. Queen Elizabeth was on the throne of England, and that nation was expanding in culture, industry and sea power. The navy, remodelled and revived by Henry VIII, was already proving its superiority over the armed forces of powerful Spain, and the might of British arms was winning new respect for the Queen and her subjects. Reports, first brought to Europe by Marco Polo, the Italian adventurer of the thirteenth century, of the fabulous land of China, and the explorations of the Portuguese and the Dutch created new interest in the possibilities of the Far East. In keeping with this spirit, Elizabeth sent two trade envoys to China to seek extension of English trade, and in doing so established a national policy that was to persist for centuries and was to have a powerful influence upon the history of Canada, and of British Columbia in particular.

Bold men in oaken ships, bearing the flag of Elizabeth's England, roamed the high seas plundering the heavily laden treasure ships of the King of Spain. It was suspected that they shared their loot with the Queen's treasury. Amongst the foremost of these daring freebooters was Sir Francis Drake.

In the late spring of 1579, Drake, in the 'Golden Hynde'—a stout little vessel crammed with riches—appeared in the North Pacific. He had come through the Strait of Magellan and had plundered his way up the western seaboard of the Americas. Piracy was not his only objective, for his plans included an examination of the trade potentialities of the Moluccas and of China, and the finding of a waterway from the Pacific to the North Atlantic that would give to England control of the rich trade of the Orient.

The tiny 'Golden Hynde' beat through storms and the chilly mists of unknown seas, and finally sighted land. Captain R. Bishop, British Columbia Land Surveyor, of Victoria, after long research, claimed that Drake reached the vicinity of Long Beach, Vancouver Island. According to records made on the voyage, the English sailors were chilled by the wet and cold of the northern latitudes. Drake, himself, was discouraged by the prevalence of sea mists that made it difficult, if not impossible, to find a passage to the Atlantic, if such existed. So the ship's bow was turned to the south, where a land of sunshine was encountered. Here, at or near Drake's Bay on the Californian coast, he took possession of the country for his sovereign and named it "New Albion."

In 1936 a brass plate was picked up near San Francisco Bay. It had been left by Drake. It was inscribed:

INE 17 1579



The waterway that Drake sought in expectation that it would permit him to sail from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean had long existed in the imagination of men. It was known as the Strait of Anian and was reputed to have been located by a Portuguese pilot named Gasper Cortereal, about 1500 A.D. It was named, according to tradition, for Cortereal's brother. The search for this short-cut between China and Europe was to continue for nearly three centuries, as a great lodestone to exploration.

Many fantastic claims were advanced from time to time by notoriety-seekers of discovery of this mythical channel. The result was that modern historians regarded with suspicion nearly all sixteenth- and seventeenth-century attempts—except that of Drake—to find a navigable channel between the two oceans.

There is one story, however, that should not be too lightly discarded. It was the narrative of a Greek pilot named Apostolos Valerianos, who allegedly related a strange story to Michael Lok, a British merchant whom he met in Italy. Lok was convinced of the truth of the tale and reported it to the English Government. It was in 1596 when Lok met the Greek, who said that for many years he had been in the service of Spain, sailing under the name of Juan de Fuca. It was in 1592, he asserted, that he had charge of an expedition to explore the unknown seas north of Mexico. He told how between latitudes 47° and 48° he had found a great strait leading to an island-studded sea that branched in different directions. He described in detail the appearance of the entrance to this sea, saying that there was a peculiarly formed pinnacle-rock standing apart from the main shore; and he told of meeting natives dressed in the skins of beasts. He had sailed for some twenty days in this inland sea, he declared, and had then emerged into the northern ocean again through a strait that had a very wide exit.

The fact that there was no available documentary proof from Spanish or English official sources, in later years, to substantiate the pilot's story caused historians to discredit it. It was known, however, that there was a pilot in Pacific waters at the time of Drake's voyage who was known as "John the Greek." But when, nearly two hundred years after de Fuca told of having found the strait, a similar channel was located in the approximate latitude, with a pinnacle-rock at its entrance and inhabited by natives wearing skins of animals, the waterway was named in honour of the Greek pilot "The Strait of Juan de Fuca."

Another colourful tale that differed little from that recorded by Michael Lok, in that it had neither documentary nor physical fact to support it, was the romance of Admiral Bartolemo de Fonte (or de Funtes) of having found a labyrinth of lakes and rivers that he and Captain Bernardo, commander of another vessel, explored in 1640. They were said to have sailed for great distances towards the east and north and were convinced that the passage led through to Baffin's Bay. Eminent geographers and cartographers of the period accepted de Fonte's story. They even believed his assertion that he encountered a ship from Boston in this waterway, where it was trading for furs with the natives. This was 150 years before the "Boston traders" became a factor in the pelt traffic along the Northwest Coast of America.

These early stories—fabulous or otherwise—served a purpose: they kept interest alive in geographical adventure and eventually led to the meticulous examination of the Pacific Coast by such celebrated navigators as Captains Cook and Vancouver.


The year 1724 and Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, were both dying: it was December, and only five weeks before the emperor's demise, when he instructed Vitus Bering, a Danish navigator in his service, to undertake a voyage of exploration. Earlier voyagers—and particularly Deschneff—had made reports that were suggestive of the existence of a channel between Asia and America. The great question of the day among learned men was as to the existence of such a strait. The subject interested the Czar, and so he ordered Bering to find the answer.

It was July, 1728, before Bering could complete construction of a vessel, named the 'Gabriel', and set sail from Kamchatka. It had been a terrific task to transport much of the material required across the desolate distances from Europe, and to find suitable timber and prepare it for boat construction. Frozen fish and fish oil constituted the main food supply of the expedition. The daring Dane followed the shoreline, going as high as 67° 18' north latitude, a sufficient distance to prove to him that the continents were separated. He returned to Kamchatka in September. The next year he made another trip, confirming his conclusions of the previous voyage. But arm-chair critics at the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) would not believe him, and Bering went there to support his findings.

Empress Anna Ivanovna was now on the throne. She was sympathetic and was anxious to advance Russian discoveries. As a result, orders were given for a grand expedition to be accompanied by men of science. This took a long time to assemble and transport to the Pacific shores; so it was not until 1740 that Bering and his lieutenant of the 'Gabriel', Alexei Chirikoff, founded Petropavlosk as a base. As soon as the two vessels, which were built at Okhotsk, were completed they were brought to the new settlement and were made ready for sea. They were named the 'St. Peter'—commanded by Bering—and the 'St. Paul', captained by Chirikoff. It was on June 4, 1741, that they set sail. Bering was suffering from ague, but insisted on carrying out his task. Sixteen days later the vessels were separated in a storm. They never again made contact.

The story of the subsequent travels of the two little ships—each but eighty feet in length by twenty beam—is a tale of intense human suffering, of misery and death. Bering sailed eastward and north-eastward, and finally saw the towering snow-topped peak of Mount St. Elias. He inspected the coast as best he could while his tiny craft was buffeted by contrary winds. Scurvy—the scourge of the sea—weakened his crew. It was decided to return home. A stop was made at an island; sick men were landed, but they were not benefited. The condition of Bering, who was among the stricken, and his ill companions became worse. There were not sufficient men unafflicted to man the ship. Finally the vessel came into a bay of an unrecognized island; some thought it was Kamchatka. Here they landed and built dug-out shelters to which the sick were removed—and there sixteen men, including Vitus Bering, died. The 'St. Peter' was driven ashore and through a terrible winter the survivors existed and suffered. In the spring a small craft was constructed, and in this way they managed to reach civilization.

The experience of Chirikoff and his crew on the St. Paul was similarly terrible. They had explored to the eastward and made the continental coast of America. Here sixteen men were lost in a sudden attack by the natives on a watering party. Chirikoff managed to bring the vessel back.

Stories told by the survivors of the wealth of furs to be found on the islands and mainland visited led to further expeditions, and to establishment of Russian authority over Alaska. This continued for over a century until the United States bought the territory.


Russian activities in the North Pacific, and the capture of Canada by the British caused such concern in Madrid that the Government of Spain ordered active measures to be taken to explore and occupy the northern coasts of Western America and thus preserve the title of sovereignty bestowed by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 upon Spain. So in 1774, a special organization known as the "Marine Department of San Blas" was created. Its purpose was to further exploration. In January, 1774, the little ship 'Santiago', commanded by Don Juan Perez, with Don Estevan Martinez as his pilot, set sail with instructions to penetrate the unknown waters as far north as latitude 65°. Bad weather buffeted the vessel and delayed her progress. It was not until July 18 that landfall was made. It was between latitudes 53° and 54°, and was the west coast of the Queen Charlotte group. Perez found that adverse winds and tides thwarted his efforts to round Cape North—its present name—which he called Santa Margarita. He determined to return to Mexico, although he was far short of his objective. He was in need of supplies, and the terrible scurvy was weakening his crew.

Perez was heading southward when, on August 5, he saw through the sea mists a mountainous shore. It was latitude 49° 50' according to his reckoning. He stood off again when darkness fell, and it was two days later before he could approach the land again. He was now able to discern a wide roadstead with two headlands, which he named "Estevan" and "San Clara." The former still bears that name. Indians watching from the shore were in great confusion. Some fled to the protection of the forest, while braver ones went out to the ship in their canoes, and were given gifts by Perez. Several of the amazed savages were induced to board the vessel and while there managed to steal some silver spoons. These Captain Cook was shown four years later. But Perez did not go ashore, threatening weather forcing him to leave hurriedly, and robbing him of the distinction of being the first white man to land on what became Vancouver Island.

The following year the 'Santiago' was again commissioned for a voyage of discovery; this time Don Bruno Heceta was in command, with Perez as pilot. The thirty-six foot schooner 'Sonora', under Don Juan Francisco de Bodega y Quadra, with Antonio Maurelle as second in command, was ordered to accompany the 'Santiago'.

Heceta was anxious to locate de Fuca's strait but failed to find it. He made a landing about latitude 47° 20', and with proper ceremony raised the flag of Spain and the Cross and took possession of the country. The few Indians encountered were friendly. This was near present-day Point Grenville. The 'Sonora' anchored a few miles to the northward, and there, after the Indians at first professed friendship, a watering party was attacked by several hundred armed natives who killed the Spaniards. Then hostile savages in canoes threatened to rush the 'Sonora', but when one canoe was blasted by a shot from the schooner, killing six braves, they withdrew and the vessel was able to make off to rendezvous with the 'Santiago'.

Towards the end of July the vessels were separated by storm. Heceta, unable to contact his consort, and being short of supplies, and many of his men being sick, decided to return to Monterey, the nearest port of New Spain. He arrived there on August 29.

Meanwhile, Quadra and his gallant crew, making land about latitude 57° 2', examined the coast to latitude 58°. They landed twice and took possession of the country for Spain. On September 8 he turned homeward, and reached Monterey on November 20.


It was March 29, 1778: two of His Britannic Majesty's ships, 'Resolution' and 'Discovery', emerged momentarily from the swirling mist to sight a rugged shore backed by high, snow-capped mountains. For some weeks the two vessels had been battered by heavy seas. Captain James Cook, the foremost navigator of his day, whose previous voyages to the South Seas had brought great honour to himself and advantage to his country, was in command of H.M.S. 'Resolution' and of the expedition of exploration to the Northwest Coast of America. Captain Charles Clerke had charge of H.M.S. 'Discovery'. They had come to prove, if possible, whether a feasible waterway existed for the development of sea commerce between Europe and the Far East.

Again the wet curtain lifted and Cook spied two headlands at the entrance to a great bay. Several weeks previously he had seen a prominent point, which he expected would provide shelter to refit his ships, but had been disappointed. He named the bluff "Cape Flattery." Now as the sweep between the capes gave assurance of safety, he called the indentation "Hope Bay."

As Cook and Clerke, from their ships, inspected the unknown coast, Chief Maquinna stood on rising ground above his village of Yuquot with his friend Nanaimis and scanned the heaving gray seas. They were looking for the blowing of whales. Suddenly they saw two apparitions appear from out of the mist. They gazed in astonishment as the things became more clearly defined. "It must be Qua-utz [a native deity]," Maquinna whispered; but his friend, after further inspection, doubted that it was the return of the mythical god. "No," he said, "it is Hai-et-lik the lightning snake, carrying islands on its back." Now others joined the watchers to express their wonder and fears. Then old Ha-hat-saik the witch cackled that she recognized the objects as enchanted salmon transformed by magic into stupendous canoes.

So it was that Ha-hat-saik offered to break the spell that held the fish: she donned her mystic robes and armed with her potent medicine rattle boldly embarked in a canoe and was paddled towards the approaching monsters. Bravely she stood in the bobbing little dug-out and called her charm-dispelling formula and shook her rattle; the gigantic things swept past her, past Yuquot and deep into the recesses of the sound beyond. Captain Cook had found shelter.

Maquinna and Nanaimis—now that Ha-hat-saik had failed—boldly paddled to where the ships had stopped. As the vessels had passed the village, creatures having human forms were seen on the decks. Now, as the chiefs approached, one of these supernatural beings appeared on a ladder down the side of the larger of the two canoes. He was dressed in blue, with shining discs on his coat. His face was pale, as one from the spirit world. But the chiefs—being watched by their tribesmen—went closer and closer. They sang songs of welcome, shook rattles and scattered bird-down and red earth on the waters as signs of amity.

The stranger in blue waved for them to come nearer. They did so. Maquinna held out a glossy sea-otter pelt. It was accepted. Nanaimis proffered a beaver skin. Then the pale-faced stranger loaded them with marvellous treasures: there were sheets of burnished copper, blankets of amazing softness and compelling colours, and trinkets such as had never been seen before by the astonished and happy recipients.

Maquinna, in a burst of grateful emotion, whipped the royal robe of otter skins from his shoulders and pressed it upon this beneficent being; and Captain Cook, understanding the great significance of such a gift, lifted his gold-laced hat from his head and placed it upon the brow of the chief. Complete friendship was established, as these mighty men among their respective races met.


Captain Cook had found a secure haven where he could refit the two vessels under his command, and named it "Resolution Cove." It was on an island he named for the master of his ship, 'Bligh', who later won notoriety as the embodiment of a maritime bully. It was a commodious waterway that he had found, and Cook at first christened it "St. George's Sound," but later, under the impression that it was known to the Indians as "Nootka," he so designated it.

This was Captain Cook's third voyage of discovery into the Pacific, and Captain Clerke, his second in command, had accompanied him on the two previous expeditions. James Cook was the son of a farm worker. He went to sea in the merchant service as a boy and later joined the navy. He had worked his way to an acknowledged position as foremost hydrographer of his day. He had contributed much to General Wolfe's capture of Quebec when he surveyed the St. Lawrence River below the Plains of Abraham in preparation for the landing of troops there. He had also surveyed the coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

It had been an exhausting voyage through wintry seas after leaving the enervating clime of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), which he had discovered. The ships had been mauled and beaten by heavy waves and terrific winds. It was to repair the damage inflicted by the elements that Cook was so anxious to find a secure haven. Now the 'Resolution' and 'Discovery' were moored close to shore in a sheltered bay; men were busily engaged in felling tall, straight-trunked trees and trimming them for spars, in replacing tackle and refilling water casks, and in other manifold tasks of refitting. As they worked Indians swarmed about the cove, watching in wonderment the strangers who had come in the mighty winged canoes.

Born traders, the natives brought many things to barter, ranging from barbaric relics of cannibalistic ceremonies to rich black sea-otter furs. In exchange they received metals and fabrics and trinkets. Once, owing to their thievish ways, a clash seemed likely, but when the crews responded to an alarm and took action stations, the Indians adopted a conciliatory attitude and the danger was dispelled.

"We remained here until April 26th," the log-book of the 'Discovery' recorded, "during which time the bulk of our employment was wooding, watering and brewing spruce beer, of which we made a very considerable quantity—and we also restowed our holds, overhauled our rigging and such other duties. We also sent our carpenters to assist at the 'Resolution''s fore-mast which was taken out and sent on shore to be repaired; also assisted in getting out a new miz [mizzen] mast—and the opportunity being fair got ourselves some spare spars. We also repaired our sails and recruited our stock of brooms."

Another journalist on the 'Discovery' added this pertinent comment: "When we left the harbour, we had more than 300 beaver [otter?] skins on board, besides less valuable skins of foxes, racoons, wolves, bears, deer and several wild animals, for dogs excepted, we saw no other domestic creatures about them."

Maquinna, the ruler of Nootka, who had entertained Cook at his village of Yuquot, parted from his new friend reluctantly, as, with his crews refreshed and ships refitted, the captain left to pursue his hunt for the mythical channel for commerce from Europe to China. He pushed on to the north until stopped by a wall of ice in Bering Sea. He turned back to winter at the Sandwich Islands. There he was murdered by the natives. Captain Clerke assumed direction of the expedition and bravely endeavoured to complete the work of his friend, but Clerke was suffering from tuberculosis and died off the Siberian coast.

When the ships, homeward bound, stopped at China, it was found that there was a great demand, at high prices, for the sea-otter skins that had cost so little at Nootka.


When the story of Cook's last voyage was published, it caused excitement in mercantile countries. It revealed that on the American side of the Pacific was an abundance of glossy sea-otter fur to be traded from the Indians, and on the opposite rim of the ocean, in China, existed a ready market for these furs. Soon adventurers from many nations were hurrying to share in such prospective profits.

Captain James Hanna was first to arrive, in a tiny brig of some sixty tons—the 'Sea Otter'—carrying thirty officers and men. He reached Nootka in August. The Indians tried to capture the vessel and in the ensuing fight a large number of the natives were killed by the destructive weapons of the whites. Barter was resumed and Hanna purchased a cargo of skins that brought him $20,600 on the Chinese market. Next to come were two snow-rigged vessels[*], the 'Captain Cook', commanded by Captain Laurie, and the 'Experiment', under Captain Guise. Direction of the expedition was given by James Strange, a partner in the enterprise. They had sailed from India, under licence of trade from the East India Company, which claimed a monopoly of British trade on the Northwest Coast. This monopolistic assertion was evaded by some British captains by placing their craft under foreign flags.

[*] Snow: a small sailing vessel resembling a brig formerly employed as a warship.

Scurvy was weakening the crews of the ships as they approached the rocky shores of the Coast. It was June 24, 1786, when land was sighted and Indian canoes put off to greet the arrivals. The Indians brought fish, and Strange recorded that nothing had given him greater pleasure than being able to feed this fresh food to his ailing crews. On entering Nootka Sound three days later, Strange took immediate steps to find a place on shore where the sick might be nursed back to health. He finally selected a big cedar-board house at Maquinna's village of Yuquot—or Friendly Cove, as Cook knew it—which he purchased, "for about the value of a shilling." He set men to work and make it tidy. They managed to clean it of everything but the odour of decayed fish. Three days later he had to move the invalids into tents away "from the influence of the corrupted air of the village." Here, on a diet that included berries, roots and greens, they quickly recovered. As the men gained strength, Strange had them dig up the ground and plant garden seeds, and so he won fame as the first agriculturist on the Pacific slope.

Strange threw himself into bartering for furs with vigour and enthusiasm. As he displayed his wares he picked up a pair of cymbals and struck them together. He started to sing, improvising a ditty as he hammered the brass. The Indians were entranced. They insisted that he repeat the song, but he had forgotten it. They gave him the air, and he had to repeat the concert. "I seldom after this period bought a skin without first being called upon to sing," he wrote in his journal.

Before quitting Nootka, Strange decided to leave an agent with the Indians who could learn the language and assist in keeping the furs of the Sound from other traders. Dr. John Mackay, a young Irish surgeon on the 'Experiment', volunteered to stay with the natives.

Mackay had cured Maquinna's son of a skin infection and the chief promised to protect him. He declared that "he should eat the choicest fish the Sound produced and that on my return I should find him as fat as a whale," said Strange. "I left with him a large quantity of garden seeds, and grain of various sorts, and before I sailed a considerable spot of ground was allotted to him for the culture of them, for which purpose he had every necessary implement given him."

At first Mackay enjoyed the savage life, but later the Indians robbed him and when, the next year, he was rescued by Captain C. W. Barkley, of the 'Imperial Eagle', he was in a filthy state, naked and half-starved. He was most happy to be once more in the company of Europeans.


Although Captain Cook stayed at Nootka for nearly a month, refreshing his crews and refitting his ships, there is no record of his having taken possession of the country for the British Crown. It remained for James Strange, the fur trader from India, to do so.

Strange was an interesting individual. He was quick to see an opportunity and act upon it. He was ready to reward a service and was loyal to his friends and his King. He was the first publicity agent for the resources of the Northwest. He took away with him from Nootka specimens of iron pyrites which he had fashioned into buttons for his black velvet court dress, drawing attention to the mineral wealth of the land.

It was after leaving Nootka that he took possession of the country for King George III. This he did on two occasions, first at a place he named "Oxenford Bay"—identified as the present Sea Otter Cove—near the northwestern end of Vancouver Island. Under date of August 2, 1786, he made entry: "I this morning ordered out the Long Boat, and went in her with an intention to explore an Inlet, which from Our station at Sea, then bore a favourable appearance, and which I conceived to be a Sound. I had not, however, proceeded above three miles up the Bay, before I determined the extent of it, which was little more than four miles from the entrance. On making however the Extreme end of it, I perceived a small inlet into another Bay, which I was anxious also to explore, and I accordingly entered it; its termination was very circumscribed indeed, being little more than three miles in circumference. Having landed on a very fine Sandy Beach, the first Object of my attention was to take possession of the Country and Bay in the Name of His Britannic Majesty, which I accordingly did with the usual Ceremonies of hoisting the Colours and turning a turf."

Continuing on his way, Strange anchored off Cape Scott, which he honoured with the name of David Scott of Bombay, his associate in the trading venture. He then decided to explore the vicinity for Indian villages where he might find furs. Embarking in a longboat on August 4, he headed down a long waterway—now known as Goletas Channel—and this he followed for some forty miles. It was the next day when, having started to return to the ships, he saw at a distance of a mile and a half what appeared to be a deserted village. It was the first sign he had seen of human inhabitants in the vicinity. Landing at the place he found the remains of several ancient habitations.

He climbed a mountain and from its top saw away below him a vast sound, which he named "Queen Charlotte Sound," and extending off to the eastward a considerable waterway which, he said, "strikes me that the inlet in question is very probably the Strait said to have been Discovered many years ago by Admiral De Fonte." Descending from the mountain, Strange took possession of the locality. He duly recorded it in his journal: "Before, however, leaving our present situation, I had the pleasure to Display the Flag, and to take Possession of the Inlet and Sound in the name of His Britannic Majesty, honouring it at the same time with the name of Queen Charlotte's Sound. From the transient View I had of this place, it surpasses far in appearance, both in Beauty and extent any other Sound as yet Discovered on this Coast... Before we quitted our present Station, I left many testimonies behind me of Our having Visited and taken possession of this part of the Coast. In the body of a large Tree, opposite to one of the Huts, I cut a deep hole, in which I deposited both copper, Iron and Beads; besides leaving the Names of our Ships and the Date of Discovery."

The original of Strange's journal came to light in India in 1928, and a small edition was published. In 1936, just 150 years after the event, the piece of copper that he left as a memento of British sovereignty was found where he left it. It was on Nigei Island, formerly known as Galiano Island. It is now in the B.C. Archives.


Because Dutch merchants doubled the price of pepper in 1599, a gallant English sea captain married a sweet young girl of seventeen at Ostend in 1786, and sailed away to honeymoon on the wild and unknown coast of the North Pacific. The Dutch had a monopoly of the pepper trade from the East Indies. Their increase in the price made British dealers angry. They held a meeting, organized a company, and secured a charter from Queen Elizabeth giving them a monopoly of British trade in the East Indies. Later this was extended as other chartered companies were absorbed, until now, following Cook's discovery of the sea-otter wealth of the North American littoral, the East India Company asserted its exclusive privileges of British trade in the Pacific Ocean.

Even servants of the big company were not averse to poaching in this new field. A number of them, including one or two directors, formed a syndicate, purchased the fine 400-ton vessel 'Loudoun', and placed her under command of youthful Captain Charles Barkley—not yet twenty-six. A splendid craft, well armed and with a uniformed and disciplined crew, she was a proud ship. She slipped down the Thames and across the channel to Ostend to load supplies and provisions, and to change both her flag and her home. Here the handsome young captain met romance in the person of Frances Hornby Trevor—not yet seventeen—daughter of the Rev. John Trevor. During the two months' delay, while the legal formalities of changing to Austrian colours and altering the name of the ship to the 'Imperial Eagle' were being completed, Barkley wooed the fair maid. They were married, October 27, 1786, her father conducting the service. A few days later the brave ship, with her newly painted name glistening from her bows and her white sails spread to the breeze, moved off on her honeymoon trip into uncharted seas.

It was June, 1787, when the 'Imperial Eagle' dropped anchor in Friendly Cove, off Chief Maquinna's village of Yuquot, and for the first time the natives of Nootka beheld a white woman. A small canoe approached the ship. In it was a dirty individual wearing a greasy sea-otter cloak. He came alongside and shouted greetings—not in the guttural tones of an Indian, but in the cultivated voice of an educated Irishman. He was John Mackay, the surgeon whom Strange had induced to go ashore and live with the natives as a commercial agent for Strange's vessels. He was filthy in his appearance. He had been robbed of his European garments and had been forced to conform to the habits and customs of the natives. But he had learned the language of the natives and had explored the adjacent territory, which had convinced him that Nootka Sound was not located on the mainland, but on an island.

Mrs. Barkley was disgusted at the sight of the doctor; in fact she was horrified when he came aboard. But once he was cleaned and was re-clothed in white men's fashion he was tolerable. The Captain had no qualms about accepting Mackay on board. He saw the value of a man acquainted with the natives, and immediately appointed him Indian trader. It was a happy arrangement, for the doctor's knowledge of the language and ways of the Indians was soon bringing the largest and best of Nootka's sea-otter pelts to the hold of the ship. Other traders, notably Captain James Colnett, in the 'Prince of Wales', and Captain Charles Duncan in the 'Princess Royal', found soon after that Barkley with Mackay's aid had cornered the market.

When trade lapsed at Nootka, the 'Imperial Eagle' cruised along the Coast, stopping at Clayoquot Sound, which Barkley named "Wicannanish" in honour of the chief who ruled there. Then the "honeymoon craft" continued her easy voyaging until, as the young bride set down in her diary, "we came to another large sound, to which Captain Barkley gave his own name." He affectionately bestowed her names, "Frances," "Hornby," and "Trevor," on other geographic features.

Leaving Barkley Sound, the ship was headed east by south, where it finally opened a wide waterway, some "four leagues in width." From the tallest mast no diminution of the size of this channel could be noted, nor could the termination of it be observed. It must be, the Captain exclaimed, the seaway that the old Greek pilot had reported to Michael Lok, nearly 200 years before: so young Captain Barkley, aboard the largest vessel that had yet adventured into the North Pacific, recalled the tale of long ago, and marked the channel "The Strait of Juan de Fuca" upon his chart. As such it has remained.


The snow 'Felice Adventurer', 230 tons, rounded the point of Hog Island and dropped anchor in Friendly Cove in front of Maquinna's village of Yuquot. It was May 13, 1788. From the deck of the ship which, in company with the 'Iphigenia Nubiana', had left China in January to trade on the Northwest Coast, an odd figure gazed at the assembled natives on the beach. He was Comekela, the younger brother of the mighty Maquinna. He was coming home. He had been given up for dead since that day when he had gone away on a trading ship. He had defied tradition and ignored the warnings of the wise men; he had adventured into the mists beyond the setting sun. He had been found in China—the land of the Yellow-faced People—by John Meares, captain of the 'Felice' and master mind of a new commercial merger of trading companies that aimed at controlling the trade in furs.

Meares had led a previous expedition to northern waters where he had wintered miserably, a large number of his crew dying from the ravages of scurvy, while the 'Sea Otter', Captain Tipping, his consort at the time, had vanished completely. The trip had been under British colours and with East India Company licence. Now, however, the new enterprise with which he was connected placed the 'Felice' and 'Iphigenia' under Portuguese registry, while other of its ships would fly the British ensign.

Comekela, the wretched and forlorn Nootkan, was taken on board the 'Felice' in the belief that his gratitude at being restored to his people would pay dividends in fur to the astute trader. The closer the snow came to Nootka, the more attentive was Meares to the comfort of his passenger. Now Comekela was anxiously scanning the throng on shore. He was looking for Maquinna and Callicum and other mighty men—for he was bursting with pride and pomposity and was eager to astonish them. There was ample reason to believe that he could amaze his friends with the spectacular manner of his home-coming, and Meares in telling of the matter explained why:

"Comekela was bedecked in a brilliant red military coat that was ablaze with flashing brass buttons and scintillating trinkets. He wore a big sheet of burnished copper about his neck, while his powdered hair was surmounted with a gorgeous hat with a gay cockade. From his ears copper ornaments were suspended, and he had contrived to hang from his hair,—which was dressed en queue,—so many handles of copper saucepans that his head was kept back by the weight of them, in such a stiff and upright position as very much to heighten the singularity of his appearance. For various articles of his present pride Comekela had been in a state of continuous hostility with the cook, from whom he had contrived to purloin them; but their last and principal struggle was for an enormous spit, which the American had seized as a spear to swell the circumstance of that magnificence with which he was on the moment dazzling the eyes of his countrymen."

Nor was Comekela disappointed: his return from the Land of the Yellow-faced People was as spectacular and sensational as could be desired. As the boat from the ship into which he had to be lowered by reason of the weight and grandeur of his apparel—touched the shore and he was assisted to land, there was a gasp of startled wonder and incredulity. His friends stared at him in open-mouthed disbelief. At last an aged aunt staggered forward and threw her arms about him; others drew timorously nearer to inspect him, and even cautiously put forward fingers to touch his splendour and satisfy themselves that he was alive and real.

Despite the absence of his brother the great Maquinna and of Callicum and several other mighty men, who were visiting at Clayoquot with the lordly Wicannanish, immediate arrangements were made for a feast at which to welcome the prodigal home. Meares attended and noted in his journal that Comekela had evidently lost his relish for the rancid whale-oil and blubber delicacies of his people—and John Meares was pleased. He thought that Comekela's educated palate would require greater dependence upon him and the white man's cookery.

When Maquinna did return to give welcome to Meares and to Comekela, the crafty Captain used his influence to secure honours and position for his protégé. He induced the Lord of Nootka to place Comekela high up on the ladder of native nobility, to bestow upon him the hand of a rich and beautiful maiden, and lastly to appoint him treasurer of the royal riches. And this, the most cherished of all the benefits conferred, proved to be the most disappointing to John Meares. Comekela proved to be faithful to his trust and protected Maquinna's treasure from all—and particularly from Captain John Meares.


Captain John Meares was a man of large ideas. Whence effected a merger with other interests operating from China to the Northwest Coast with his own he planned to achieve a monopoly in the fur trade. He placed a part of his shipping under Portuguese colours, while several ships were continued under the British flag with licences from the East India Company, which claimed exclusive commercial rights under ancient charters.

While Meares himself was willing to masquerade under Portuguese registry, he was determined that a schooner that he planned to build at Nootka should have the protection of the British flag. He lost no time in starting work on this craft following his arrival in May, 1788. He intended the schooner to operate from a "fur factory" or base at Nootka where the pelts would be processed for marketing. In this way larger vessels would save much time in plying to and from Chinese ports with the cargoes offered and received in barter.

Meares took an early opportunity of purchasing land from Chief Maquinna. A "spot of ground" for the location of his shipyard and workshops he bought for a pair of pistols that the Chief coveted. A larger tract, including the whole of Friendly Cove, according to Robert Duffin, one of his officers aboard the 'Felice Adventurer', was secured for "eight pieces of copper and several other trifling articles." Upon this occasion, Duffin declared under oath, "The British Flag was displayed on shore at the same time and those formalities were used as is customary on such occasions."

Having won the esteem of Maquinna and some sort of indefinite title to the "spot of ground" required for shipbuilding, Meares set his men to work to build a combined dwelling and workshop. The friendship of the Nootkan chief extended to the appointment of Chief Callicum as the protector of the party ashore. He had "peremptory injunctions to prevent the natives from making any depredations."

"In the very expeditious accomplishment of this important work," Meares explained, "the natives afforded us all the assistance in their power, not only by bringing the timber from the woods, but by readily engaging in any and every service that was required of them."

In describing the undertaking Meares said: "On the ground floor was ample room for the coopers, sail-makers and other artisans to work in bad weather. A large room was also set apart for the stores and provisions, and the armourer's shop was attached to one end of the building and communicated with it. The upper story was divided into an eating room and chambers for the party." Around the house was thrown up a breastwork, while one small cannon was "placed in such a manner as to command the cove and village of Nootka." Outside of this defensive work the keel was laid "of a vessel of forty to fifty tons, which was now to be built agreeable to our former determination." Robert Funter, an officer on the 'Felice', was put in charge of the establishment. It was the first European-style house built in what is now British Columbia.

After seeing the work well started, Meares cruised along the Coast in search of furs. It was during this voyage that he called on Wicannanish, the Lord of Clayoquot, and made further land purchases, "in consequence of considerable presents"; and with the land went "a promise of a free and exclusive trade..." Similar transactions were claimed to have been made with Chief Tatootche, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

On September 29 the schooner was completed. Robert Haswell, mate on the Boston ship 'Columbia', reported seeing it launched, and noted that it was named the 'North West America', and that the occasion was one of considerable festivity.


Captain Meares was in China perfecting plans for a great fur factory to be constructed at Nootka. It was intended to employ a large number of Chinese in processing the furs for the Oriental markets. Captain James Colnett was to be put in charge of the operations on the Coast for the associated merchants who had merged their interests in the pelt trade. The 'Iphigenia', one of Meares' ships—Wm. Douglas, master—was riding uneasily under Portuguese colours, but the 'North West America', the schooner that had been launched at Nootka the preceding year, was nosing along the coast gathering sea-otter skins against the coming of Colnett and the establishment of the factory and settlement under the flag of Great Britain. It was the spring of 1789: Nootka was an active place.

In addition to Douglas, who was in charge until Colnett's arrival, and Captain Robert Funter, with the schooner, there were two vessels flying the flag of the new American republic. They were the 'Columbia' and the 'Lady Washington'. The former was ship-rigged, and was commanded by peppery Captain John Kendrick; the other was a sloop, with squint-eyed Captain Robert Gray in charge. They had come from Boston and were the first of a long line of "Boston traders," who were to ply up and down the Pacific seaboard. They had wintered at Nootka, and Kendrick had bought a site and built a house at Nawhinna, a cove deep in the recesses of the Sound.

While the great Maquinna was basking in the favours of the traders at Nootka, a Spanish naval squadron was visiting Alaskan waters. There the commodore, Don Estevan Martinez, heard incredible stories from the Russians of how British ships were trading out of Nootka, and how it was intended to form a British establishment there. The Spaniard was alarmed. He turned, at once, to carry this disquieting news to Mexico.

His Excellency Don Manuel Antonio Florez, Viceroy for His Most Catholic Majesty, was indignant. He ordered Martinez to refit his vessels, the 'Princessa' and the 'San Carlos', as rapidly as possible and go to Nootka to learn what was actually under way there.

It was on May 6, 1789, that Martinez, in the 'Princessa', dropped anchor in Friendly Cove. A week later the 'San Carlos', under Don Gonzalo Lopez de Haro, arrived. Martinez simulated friendship for Captain Douglas while awaiting the arrival of his consort. Suddenly he changed his attitude. He demanded the papers of the 'Iphigenia'. In vain Douglas argued that he was entitled to safety beneath the flag of Portugal, and pretended that Viana, the supercargo of the ship, was the real captain. Martinez arrested Douglas and seized the vessel. The act of aggression was followed by elaborate ceremonies of taking possession of the country for the King of Spain. Later Douglas was restored to his command, but only by his giving a pledge that if the 'Iphigenia' were condemned as a prize by the Spanish courts, it would be surrendered. As quickly as he could, Douglas headed for China to report to his owners how he had been treated by the Spanish navy.

Martinez was now prepared to go to any length. He seized the 'North West America', the 'Princess Royal'—recently from China—and the 'Argonaut', when that vessel bearing Colnett arrived. Colnett, his officers and British crew members were imprisoned, but the seventy Chinese he brought for the fur factory were detained to work for the Spaniards. They were put to mining.

While these harsh measures were taken against the British traders, Martinez was on friendliest terms with the Boston men. In fact, on July 4, he joined in commemorating the "Glorious Fourth" with several thirteen-gun salutes, and general participation in the American festivities of the day. Captain Kendrick spread a banquet on board the 'Columbia', to which Martinez went as a distinguished guest. Colnett was invited to attend this—the first Fourth-of-July celebration on the West Coast—but he declined to join in the celebration of "Liberty," while he was a prisoner!

But Martinez was not always in a gay mood. As he was leaving Nootka he deliberately killed Chief Callicum, an outstanding native prince and a friend and confidant of Maquinna. It was a brutal thing to do—but he was a brutal man.


Don Pedro Alberni, Captain of the Catalina Volunteers, was in disgrace. He had objected, with more vehemence than tact, to unwarranted delays in the payment of his men. His conduct was reported to the Viceroy at Mexico City and he was placed under arrest. Don Pedro was a persistent man. He did not humble himself and apologize for his conduct; instead, he sought to justify himself. The result was that he was ordered to proceed to Nootka to build an establishment and fortifications for Spain. In compliance with this virtual banishment he accompanied Don Francisco Eliza, the naval commander charged with exploring the coasts of the North, when he sailed from San Blas.

Friendly Cove was a cheerless place that spring of 1790. It was cold and misty. Only wet ashes and charcoal showed where Yuquot, the great village of Maquinna, had stood. The Lord of Nootka had set it on fire to blacken the earth following the murder of Chief Callicum by Martinez. He determined that the crime should not profit Spain.

Alberni was discouraged. Not a member of Maquinna's tribe would approach the Spanish camp. This meant that Alberni had to keep half of his force under arms at all times. He wanted Maquinna's friendship. A more violent man, such as Martinez, would have carried fire and sword to the Indian villages, but Alberni was a man of a different type. He wrote a song. From sailors who had been there the previous year, he learned a few words of the Nootkan tongue, and penned:

"Great is Maquinna;
Maquinna is a great chief.
Spain loves Maquinna..."

and so on, extolling the might and majesty of the native prince. He taught the verse to his company and paraded the men each day in front of the forest. Standing at attention, the bearded soldiers bellowed the praises of Maquinna. Next morning at the same hour and place, the concert was repeated; and again and again on each successive day.

When Maquinna learned of the song he hid himself in the underbrush to listen. "Yes, it was true!" His greatness was recognized. And each morning the chief was within the shades of the forest to hear. This was too good to be lost! He sent out Hesquit for a rival chief to attend and hear how these strangers esteemed him. Each day the song was repeated, and farther afield Maquinna sent for important persons to come and listen. Alberni was watching and waiting. At last, by the great ceremony of welcome at the Indian camp he knew that the mighty Wicannanish—the King of the Coast—had come from Clayoquot. This was to be Maquinna's supreme hour—when he was to be glorified in the presence of the one man he had to admit was his superior. The soldiers paraded as usual. They stood at attention, threw back their heads and roared, "Great..." Not another word: they stood like graven totems; five, ten, fifteen minutes passed in torturing silence. Wicannanish was beginning to sneer. Maquinna could stand it no longer. He broke from cover and rushed up to Alberni: "Sing it again," he begged.

The Captain had been waiting for just such a moment. He had rich gifts of copper and iron and blankets and trinkets—wonderful treasures—to heap upon the chief, but none was as precious to Maquinna as was the song. Then Alberni made a signal. The song was resumed and over and over again it was repeated, until even Maquinna was satisfied as the woods echoed and re-echoed with his praises.

Maquinna became the staunch friend of Alberni and Indians swarmed from their hiding-places to give friendly assistance in clearing land, chopping timber and the hundred-and-one tasks of building a settlement for Spain. And Don Francisco Eliza was able to leave Nootka and adventure into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He knew all would be well, for the Kingdom of Maquinna had been subdued—not by fire and sword—but by a song!


On January 4, 1790, Marquis del Campo, the pompous Spanish ambassador to the Court of St. James, made an official call upon the Duke of Leeds, Great Britain's Foreign Secretary. After the customary courteous greetings, the emissary of His Most Catholic Majesty King Carlos IV confirmed hitherto indefinite rumours that had reached London. These reported that Spanish ships of war had seized British shipping at a place named Nootka on the North Pacific seaboard.

Not only did the Marquis substantiate the rumours, but he presented a formal note from Madrid claiming that these seas were the property of Spain, which had sovereignty over all bordering lands. He went even further in his demands, for King George III and his government were not only told that they must keep British traders away from that place—which had been first visited by Captain Cook—but that those who had been arrested by Spain must be punished by the British Government.

The surprise of the noble Duke was only equalled by that of del Campo when he received the British reply. It was as blunt and as much to the point as could be imagined in the language of diplomacy. In effect, it told Spain that Great Britain did not recognize the Spanish pretensions; that by seizing the vessels, at a time when the two nations were at peace, an insult had been offered to the British flag and Crown; that Spain must apologize, release the ships and imprisoned crews, and pay indemnity. Spain haughtily refused and commenced secret preparations for war. Madrid was confident that despite the seething unrest in France that Louis XVI would be able to lead his country to the defence of her ally as provided by the terms of the Family Compact of 1761, which bound the Bourbon kings to give assistance to each other in time of war. Spain also had, as allies, Turkey and Genoa, and hoped to win over Russia. Relying upon these alliances, the Spanish Government was arrogant.

Great Britain informed her allies of the situation and asked what their attitudes would be if war should result. The Netherlands and Prussia were bound to Britain by treaties. They gave characteristic replies: Holland sent ten ships of the line to Portsmouth, with a promise of as many more as might be required; Prussia would help, if Britain would pledge future aid in an unprovoked attack on Russia. The promise was not made.

Prime Minister William Pitt negotiated with a South American patriot, Colonel Miranda, to start revolutions in Spain's colonies on that continent. Lord Dorchester, Governor in Canada, sent Major Beckwith to New York to feel out the United States' leaders as to how they would regard an armed force from Canada descending the Mississippi to attack Spanish possessions on the Gulf of Mexico. President Washington and Alexander Hamilton appeared to be sympathetic, but other members of the cabinet, headed by Jefferson, wished to temporize. The United States might gain greater advantage, Jefferson argued, and an agent for the Republic was instructed to intimate to Spain that if Florida and New Orleans were ceded to the United States, America would guarantee to protect Spanish colonies to the west of the Mississippi. With almost unbelievable dispatch, the British admiralty set about raising the most powerful fleet in its history. It appeared as if nothing could prevent a war that would involve the greater part of the civilized world.

Just in time Spain hesitated. The French Revolution was under way. The French King was a virtual prisoner and the National Assembly, instead of preparing actively to support Spain, became engaged in long academic arguments over the right of kings to declare war and make peace. Madrid realized that no longer was Paris dependable, and she changed her attitude completely. The terms demanded by London were accepted. The imprisoned sailors had already been freed; John Meares and his associates would be indemnified, and the "territories" from which they had been expelled would be returned to British sovereignty. The final act was to take place at Nootka, where the British flag was to be raised and saluted.

To carry out this ceremonial on the Northwest Coast of America, where Spain was to be officially humbled, Captain George Vancouver was to represent Great Britain.


Publication of the apocryphal voyage of Lorenzo Ferrer de Maldonado, reputed to have been made in 1588, and which, it was claimed, had revealed a Northwest passage between the oceans, excited the Spanish Government in 1790 when it was endorsed by a French scientist. It resulted in Madrid ordering further explorations in the North Pacific ocean. Don Francisco Eliza, commandant of the establishment at Nootka that was taking shape under the energetic Captain Pedro Alberni, sent Don Manuel Quimper, in the 'Princess Real'—one of the captured British vessels—to examine the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Quimper nosed along the northern shore of the Strait, discovering and naming Port San Juan, and Sooke Inlet, which he christened Revilla Gigedo, in honour of the Viceroy of Mexico. In the vicinity he took possession of the country for Spain, the ceremony being carried out on June 23, 1790. Seven days later he found a magnificent harbour which he called "Valdes"—now known as "Esquimalt." Not far distant he came into "a port of good shelter, water and wild seeds for which the Indians came in canoes from the other side of the strait." He named it "Cordova": it is the Victoria harbour of today.

The explorer pushed his way eastward until he entered Haro Strait, and turned to follow the southern shore of the Strait of de Fuca on his way back to Nootka. After landing at Neah Bay, where he once more claimed the country for his King, Quimper found it impossible to sail to Nootka, so he turned south and went to Mexico.

The following year Eliza headed another expedition to further the discoveries made by Quimper. He captained the snow 'Don Carlos', while [*]Piloto Jose Maria Narvaez was put in charge of the schooner 'Santa Saturnina', also known as the 'Horcasitas'. It had been planned to commence the season's work in the far North and examine the coast from Mount St. Elias southward, but tempestuous weather persuaded them to start in the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

[*] Pilot

Eliza anchored in the port of Cordova, from where he sent a boat under command of Second Pilot Jose Verdia to examine the Haro channel that Quimper had located the previous year. He was unable to carry out his instructions, returning after having had a clash with the Indians in which several natives were killed. They had surrounded his boat in their canoes and made such a demonstration that Verdia was forced to fire upon them.

Shortly after the departure of Verdia, Narvaez arrived at Cordova, having been detained by examination of Clayoquot Sound. Refitting the launch to accompany the 'Saturnina' and adding eight soldiers from Alberni's Catalina Volunteers to the complement of the expedition, Eliza ordered Narvaez to carry out the duty in which Verdia had failed.

During the course of this exploratory work Narvaez entered a small sheltered water which he named San Antonio, but which is modern Bedwell Harbour, Pender Island. From here he worked his way out into an inland sea, across which he could see snow-capped mountains rising high above the blue waters. It was a magnificent sight. In his delight he named the marine vista "Gran Canal de Nuestra Senora del Rosario" (The Grand Canal of Our Lady of the Rosary).

Eliza and Narvaez now commenced an examination of this wonderfully beautiful sea into which they had entered. Narvaez examined the eastern shore, locating many important bays and harbours: one he named "Boca Florida Blanca" has since been identified as Burrard Inlet. On the western side of the Grand Canal, the name of "Wenthuysen Inlet" was given to a sheltered waterway—now known as "Nanaimo Harbour."


It was the summer of 1791. Spaniards under Don Francisco Eliza and Don Jose Maria Narvaez had discovered the great Inland Sea—now the Gulf of Georgia—and were exploring it with wonder and delight.

Where the Squamish River poured its muddy waters into the head of Howe Sound, Indians had gathered at the principal village of the people who had given their name to the river. Suddenly from around a distant point came a small canoe propelled by a single, excited man. As he neared the village he called a warning. The people ran to the water's edge to hear him gasp an incredible tale. He said that (near present-day Britannia Beach) he had seen two floating islands from which grew trees devoid of foliage, but festooned with cobwebs.

Headed by the chiefs, the warriors pushed their canoes off, while the women and children were sent off to the woods. The fleet quickly travelled down the Inlet and rounded the point. It came to a dead stop, for the report was true! Slowly now the dugout armada approached: no, these were not islands; they were monstrous canoes!

The astonished Indians gazed at the vessels (probably the 'Santa Saturnina' and launch) and it was noticed that there was a "dead man" moving about on the larger canoe. They must be from the spirit world, the natives thought, as they saw several other spirits, for they wore clothing, and at such a warm period of the year only the dead wore garments. As they crept forward the Indians could make out the colour of the skins of the "dead men." They were pallid above dark beards.

Now the chief apparition descended a ladder on the side of the big canoe and motioned to the natives to approach. He held out his hand. This they interpreted as a challenge to play the game of pulling fingers, and the champion of that sport approached, but the stranger would not play. He made it apparent that he was inviting them to visit his craft. For a long time the natives sat motionless in their dug-outs pondering the matter; then the bravest of the warriors volunteered to go on board, if he were protected. So he followed the stranger up the ladder, while the other braves strung their bows and then, one after another, went up the boat's side.

On reaching deck they found other "dead men" sitting about, unseen from the canoes. Now the chief of the supernatural beings offered them biscuits, and he ate one, but the timorous aborigines believed them to be pieces of wood and refused. As if to show the purity of the flour from which the cakes were made, a bag filled with "snow" was produced. This, indeed, the gaping red men thought, proved that the strangers were from beyond the grave trees, for the hot sun did not melt the "snow," as it had to the tops of the highest mountains. The ghostly chief now showed them a small bag filled with shining objects, similar in appearance to the shining discs on his strange coat. He pointed to them and then extended his arms towards the shore and patted his chest. These "buttons" fascinated the Indians. They could understand their purpose, and accepted them. Having done so, they quitted the vessel and hurried off home as fast as they could paddle.

The head chief donned his finest cedar-bark and dog-wool blanket. He took two of the "buttons," extended his arms as had the "sky chief," patted his chest—and the buttons fell to the ground. Again and again he unsuccessfully tried to attach the bright metal to his costume. Then with reluctance he concluded that his medicine would not work: he would return the trinkets.

The following morning the canoes again went down the Sound, but when the point was turned there were no "floating islands" or big vessels there. They had vanished. Until quite recent times old Spanish coins could be found amongst the Squamish people, who had not realized that the ghosts were attempting to buy the country from them!


Christmas Day, 1791, was celebrated in grand style at Adventure Cove, Clayoquot Sound, by Captain Robert Gray and the personnel of the United States Ship 'Columbia'.

Gray had been home to Boston since that July day when the Americans held high revel at Nootka to mark the "Glorious Fourth" two years before, when Martinez, the Spaniard who had arrested Captain Colnett, was the guest of honour. Gray's vessel was the first to carry the Stars and Stripes around the world. He was later to gain additional renown by his discovery of the Great River of the West, which he named "Columbia" for his vessel.

Despite the consideration with which Martinez had treated him and Captain John Kendrick, the commander of their expedition, Gray did not care—on this second trip—to trust the Spaniards too far; so he decided to winter at Clayoquot. From that place he could learn of the manner in which the Spaniards were ruling at Nootka.

Selecting a small, sheltered cove inside of Meares' Island at Clayoquot, Gray prepared to spend the winter pleasantly and profitably. He had brought the frame of a sloop from Boston. This he was going to construct and enlarge. So, on September 22, his men—sailors and artisans—commenced the building of a stout log house of eighteen by thirty-six feet. "The lower storey is formed with logs piled horizontally with their ends let into each other and trunnelled together," one officer noted in his journal. "The seams were filled with mortar we made of clay and burnt shells. The upper storey is framed and covered with boards, which we procured from the natives for a trifling consideration in iron. In front of the house were two ports for cannon and loopholes on all sides for musketry. In the house was built a brick fire-place for the convenience of cooking."

With the completion of the fortified house, which was christened "Fort Defiance," Gray and his men—beneath the waving flag of the Stars and Stripes—started work on the schooner which was to be named 'Adventure'. In honour of their handiwork they named the site of the fort "Adventure Cove." By October 4 work had progressed to such an extent that it was recorded on that day: "Sent four cannon, forty muskets, several blunderbusses and pistols and a quantity of ammunition to the house ... to which Haswell was appointed to command with a party consisting of twenty men."

The weather was exceptionally mild and work proceeded rapidly. Gray was so pleased that he decided to give the men a real celebration on Christmas Day. To this event he invited Chief Wicannanish, the King of Clayoquot, and many of his royal court.

"The natives took a walk around the workshops on shore," an officer recounted in describing the occasion. "They were surprised at seeing three tier of wild fowl roasting at one of the houses—indeed we were a little surprised at the novelty of the sight ourselves, for at least there were twenty geese roasting at one immense fire." Nor could the Indians understand why the ship and "fort" were decorated with forest greenery and flags.

The central dish of the banquet was a huge "mulberry" (huckleberry) pudding. The fruit had been gathered the previous day, so open was the winter. So with great merriment the sailors feasted, and sang and laughed; and Wicannanish and retinue joined in the fun, stopping every now and then to send helpings from their plates to the squaws who had remained seated in the canoes. It was indeed a huge success, and it was officially reported everyone "spent the day with the greatest propriety, not in noisy mirth or drunken frolic."


Meares claimed to have purchased lands from the Indians about Nootka and Clayoquot, but he produced no deeds to substantiate his assertions. In any event it would appear that his investments were for the purpose of furthering the business of himself and associates as fur traders. It remained for John Kendrick, the New England Yankee, to envision the speculative potentialities of the real-estate business on a large scale on the Northwest Coast.

Kendrick had been instructed by his owners, when they provided him with two vessels, the 'Columbia' and 'Lady Washington', to conduct the first Boston trading venture to the Pacific, that he should be careful to extinguish the Indian title to any lands that he required for a fort or settlement. This, it was specifically ordered, was to be done in the name of the shipowners. Kendrick, however, had the unique instruments of conveyance made out to himself. In this he was at least consistent, for he made neither return nor accounting to the Boston merchants.

Later the shipowners sought to recoup themselves by marketing a gigantic realty subdivision, claiming the lands that John had bought as rightfully theirs. Just how much his purchases aggregated it would be difficult to estimate. The Boston merchants claimed 240 miles square—which would be 57,600 square miles! Attested copies of the "deeds" sent by Kendrick to Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Secretary of State, total 5,184 square miles. The first real estate "deal" was at Nootka Sound. In part the conveyance read:

"To all persons to whom these presents shall come: I, Macquinnah [sic] the chief, and with my other chiefs, do send greeting: Know ye, that I, Macquinnah, of Nootka Sound, on the north-west coast of America, for and in consideration of ten muskets, do grant and sell unto John Kendrick, of Boston, commonwealth of Massachusetts, in North America, a certain harbour in said Nootka Sound, called Chastacktoos, in which the brigantine 'Lady Washington' lay at anchor on the twentieth day of July, 1791, with all the land, rivers, creeks, harbours, islands, etc., within nine miles north, east, west and south of the said harbour, with all the produce of both sea and land appertaining thereto; only the said John Kendrick does grant and allow the said Macquinnah to live and fish on the said territory as usual. And by these presents does grant and sell to the said John Kendrick, his heirs, executors and administrators, all the above mentioned territory, known by the Indian name of Chastacktoos, but now by the name of Retreat Harbour ..."

To the lengthy and formidable document Maquinna and five other chiefs appended their marks and seals, while nine members of Kendrick's company signed as witnesses. Another sailor attested the copy to be a true one.

On August 5 Kendrick made two more bites into the mountainous terrain of the country. He purchased another block of eighteen miles square near the entrance to Esperanza Inlet, for which he paid "two muskets, a boat's sail and a quantity of powder." A second tract of similar size—324 square miles—cost him more, for he paid: "six muskets, a boat's sail, a quantity of powder and an American flag."

The following day the land-hungry Captain John added to his growing empire by purchasing a circular area having a diameter of eighteen miles, at the head of Tashis Inlet, Nootka Sound—the site of Maquinna's summer village—but this time drove a hard bargain: he paid only "two muskets and a quantity of powder!" The market had weakened, being down a boat sail and a Star-Spangled banner.

Some time later the Boston merchants issued a circular offering, in grandiloquent language, the sale of Kendrick's lands. Several attempts were made subsequently to have the United States set up a claim to sovereignty based upon the copies of the "deeds" given by the Indians. These also failed—and his early real-estate subdivision project on the Coast was a complete failure.


For eight months Captain George Vancouver in H.M.S. 'Discovery', commander of a two ship expedition to examine the coast of the North Pacific, had not seen a sail other than that of his consort, H.M.S. 'Chatham', captained by Lieutenant W. R. Broughton. Now, as the two British naval vessels approached the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a ship was sighted.

"This was a great novelty," Vancouver noted in his journal on April 29, 1792. "She proved to be the ship 'Columbia', commanded by Mr. Robert Gray, belonging to Boston, whence she had been absent nineteen months."

Vancouver was delighted, for prior to his leaving England the statement had been made by Captain Meares that Gray, in the 'Lady Washington', in 1789, had sailed into the Strait and had emerged far to the north.

"It is not possible to conceive any one to be more astonished than was Mr. Gray, on his being made acquainted, that his authority had been quoted, and the track pointed out that he had been said to have made in the sloop 'Washington'," Vancouver commented.

Captain George Vancouver was charged with a double duty: that of representing the British Crown at Nootka, where he was to meet Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, commandant of San Blas, and to receive the "territories" that Spain was to restore to Britain, which had been seized from British traders. This was in accordance with the terms of the Nootkan Convention of 1790. His second responsibility was to explore meticulously the shores of Northwestern America to determine finally if there was any basis whatever for hoping that a practical passage might exist between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Vancouver was no stranger to the rugged and little known coast, for he had been a midshipman with the great Captain Cook on his last voyage of discovery into the Pacific. Merit alone had won the appointment for him, when Captain Roberts, who was first selected, was unable to proceed with the commission. Vancouver had no high-placed friends, and those who might have assisted him—such as Sir Joseph Banks, a great patron of geographic explorations—were not encouraged by his manner. Despite this, however, Vancouver was a most capable navigator and careful explorer, was punctilious in matters of duty, and a strict disciplinarian.

Now he had arrived off the strait that the old Greek pilot claimed to have found to be the start of a passage-way to the other side of the continent, Vancouver was pleased indeed to obtain the information that Gray could provide. The Boston captain had sailed some little distance into the channel, but had returned to the open sea by the way he had entered. Gray was himself within a few days of making a discovery that was to be of utmost importance to his country, and was to assure him an imperishable place in history. This was the discovery of the Columbia River. Now, as Gray sailed to the southward and his magnificent achievement, the 'Discovery' and 'Chatham' entered the strait to prove that the vast area that now bears Captain Vancouver's name was indeed an island.

Vancouver and Broughton conducted their work with infinite care: the ships were sailed to some safe mooring ground, and then every bay, cove and inlet was examined by small boat parties under capable officers, and their notes were carefully checked and progressively extended. Each important geographic feature was assigned a name. These, for the most part, were in honour of men who had distinguished themselves in the naval service of Great Britain, such as Howe and Jervis and Nelson, or who were friends or shipmates of his own, such as Roberts and Gray and Atkinson. To the extensive and beautiful sound that stretched to the southward of the termination of the strait, the name of Lieutenant Peter Puget, who played such a part in the exploratory work, was given, while the inland sea to the north of the strait was called the Gulf of Georgia, in honour of His Majesty King George III.


The twin mountain peaks, so suggestive of couchant lions and of British sovereignty, looked down on a glorious scene of verdant forests, glimmering water and snow-white cumulus clouds lazily drifting against a background of summer skies. It was June 13, 1792, and two small boats, the pinnace and launch of H.M.S. 'Discovery', were crossing from Point Grey. Captain George Vancouver himself was in command of one craft, while Lieutenant Peter Puget was in charge of the second.

Nine days before, Captain Vancouver had landed at a place he called "Tulalip Bay," in Puget Sound, and had taken possession of the entire Coast from Latitude 39° 20' north, including both shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the great Inland Sea to which they opened. The country he christened "New Georgia," and the enclosed sea "The Gulf of Georgia," it being the birthday of King George III. And now the explorer was approaching the gateway to a sheltered port, guarded by lions that Time had sculptured from the mountain tops.

Vancouver, Puget and their boats' companies had stopped at a "low bluff point," to which he had given the name: "Captain George Grey of the navy." Continuing his recital he says: "From Point Grey we proceeded first up the eastern branch of the sound to the northward of an island (Stanley Park) which nearly terminated its extent, forming a passage from ten to seven fathoms deep, not more than a cable's length in width," and, having passed the Narrows: "Here we were met by some fifty Indians in their canoes, who conducted themselves with great decorum and civility, presenting us with several fish cooked, and undressed, of the sort already mentioned as resembling smelt... For the sake of the company of our new friends, we stood on under easy sail, which encouraged them to attend us some little distance up the arm." Gradually the natives dropped away, leaving only three or four canoes to accompany the boats.

"We landed for the night about half a league from the head of the Inlet and about three leagues from its entrance. Our visitors remained with us until by signs we gave them to understand we were going to rest, and after receiving some acceptable articles, they retired." These Indians, Vancouver related, were so curious of everything they saw, that he concluded that they had never before seen white men.

The night was spent uncomfortably! "The shores of this situation were formed by steep rocky cliffs, that afforded no convenient space for pitching our tent, which compelled us to sleep in the boats. Some of the young gentlemen, however, preferring the stony beach for their couch, without duly considering the line of high water mark, found themselves incommoded by the flood tide, of which they were not apprized until they were nearly afloat; and one of them slept so sound that I believe he might have been conveyed to some distance, had he not been awakened by his companions."

Early the following morning the explorers started to return down the inlet. There were few Indians about, but they noted the canoes on the beach where the Capilano enters. Two dug-outs did take off from the Stanley Park shore, but could not overtake the fast sailing boats. Vancouver wrote that he had named the "channel" after "Sir Harry Burrard of the navy."

The Captain described the site of the magnificent city that honours him and remembers June 13, 1792, as being "on a moderate height, and though rocky, well covered with trees of a large growth, principally of the pine tribe." That description no longer serves, for the forests have given way to structures of wood and of brick, of concrete and steel—but high on the mountain tops the twin lions look down impassively upon the changing scene.


Captain George Vancouver was disappointed. He had imagined that he was the first to explore the shores of the great inland sea since the time of the reputed voyage of Juan de Fuca. Confident that such was the case, the British navigator had taken possession of the country in the name of King George III. Then, leaving his ships at Birch Bay, he started off on a small-boat expedition that was to last for eleven days. He was in the pinnace of H.M.S. 'Discovery', while Second Lieutenant Peter Puget was in charge of the launch. They entered and named Burrard Inlet and then spent several days following the shoreline of Howe Sound, and so on up the Coast to Jervis Inlet, naming both these deep waterways.

The very day that he had discovered Burrard Inlet, his second in command of the expedition, Lieutenant Broughton, H.M.S. 'Chatham', had encountered two small ships of Spain, commanded by Captain Dionisio Galiano, aboard a small brig named 'Sutil', and Captain Cayetano Valdes in the schooner 'Mexicana'. They were completing the work started by Quimper, Eliza and Narvaez during the previous two years.

Captain Vancouver and Puget were now in one boat, as the other had become separated at a time when the Lieutenant was conferring with the Captain aboard the pinnace. It was the morning of June 22. They were crossing towards Point Grey where they planned to breakfast, when two vessels were seen riding at anchor in the shelter of the headland. (This spot has since been known as "Spanish Banks.") At first they thought that it might be their own ships, the H.M.S. 'Discovery' and H.M.S. 'Chatham', but quickly found that they were the little brig and the schooner that Broughton had met.

"I cannot avoid acknowledging that, on this occasion, I experienced no small degree of mortification in finding the external shores of the gulf had been visited, and already examined a few miles beyond where my researches during the excursion had extended," Vancouver wrote.

Galiano and Valdes were most courteous towards their distinguished guest. "Their conduct was replete with that politeness and friendship which Characterizes the Spanish nation," he gratefully recorded in his journal.

The Spanish Captains suggested "that circumstances might so concur as to admit our respective labours being carried on together." At first, Vancouver declined this proposal, as he did the offer to either convey him and his tired crews to their ships, or send for the 'Discovery' and 'Chatham' to move to the situation at Point Grey. But the Captain did partake of a bountiful breakfast. He was probably very hungry, for the boat expedition had been only supplied with food for six days when it had left the ship and had now been absent for eleven.

Describing the 'Sutil' and 'Mexicana', Vancouver said: "They were about each forty-five tons burthen, mounted two brass guns, and were navigated by twenty-four men, bearing one lieutenant, without a single inferior officer. Their apartments just allowed room for sleeping places on each side, with a table in the intermediate space, at which four persons, with some difficulty, could sit, and were, in all other respects, the most ill calculated and unfit vessels that could possibly be imagined for such an expedition."

Galiano, who spoke some English, showed his visitor Eliza's chart, and explained how the previous year he and Narvaez had explored Vancouver's Gulf of Georgia. Reciprocating this generous gesture, Vancouver explained, "I showed them the sketch I had made of our excursion, and pointed out the only spot which I conceived we had left unexamined, nearly at the head of Burrard's Channel: they seemed much surprised that we had not found a river said to exist in the region we had been exploring, and named by one of their officers Rio Blanche, in compliment to the then prime minister of Spain; which river these gentlemen had sought for thus far to no purpose. They took such notes as they chose from my sketch, and promised to examine the small opening in Burrard's channel, which, with every other information they could procure, would be at my service on our next meeting."

Later the Spaniards did join him and they explored in company.


Having circumnavigated the great island that he was later to name Quadra's and Vancouver's Island, in memory of a happy friendship, the navigator made for Nootka, which he had first seen when a midshipman with Captain Cook in 1778. Here Captain Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra was awaiting his arrival to complete the formalities of the Nootkan Convention of two years before.

It was August 28 when H.M.S. 'Discovery' and H.M.S. 'Chatham' nosed in from the sea to drop anchor off the Spanish settlement at Friendly Cove. A salute was fired to the flag that flew from the Castillo de San Miguel—as the fortified summit of the island at the cove's entrance was named. With due regard to protocol, the compliment was returned.

Quadra was a gracious and kindly man. He was considerate of all, even of the lowly natives. On his arrival at Nootka in April he was high in his praise of the work of Eliza and Alberni in establishing the settlement, "without ill-treating the crews and garrison or inconveniencing the natives, who look healthy and contented."

While he awaited the coming of Vancouver he prepared for that event. He ordered construction of a separate bakery for the use of the visitors; his blacksmith- and carpenter-shops were placed in condition to assist in any demands made on them by the British; and vegetable gardens and some of the black cows of Spain that were one of the glories of the place were set aside to supplement the stores of Vancouver's ships.

After entertaining Commandant Quadra at breakfast the next morning, Vancouver and some of his officers went ashore to lunch with the Spanish officer, "and," says Vancouver, "we were gratified with a repast we had lately been little accustomed to, or had the most distant idea of meeting with at this place. A dinner of five courses, consisting of a superfluity of the best provisions, was served with great elegance." This tasty spread was served on solid silver plate, a fact that astonished all the seafarers who participated in this bounty.

In their official discussions as commissioners of their respective Crowns the two could not agree. The wording of the convention was not precise in delineating the areas involved; Quadra proposed to transfer the small bit of land where John Meares had his house, but this Vancouver would not accept. Finally they decided to refer the whole matter back to their governments. Their public differences, however, did not interfere with their personal regard for each other. Quadra generously offered to turn over the settlement at Nootka to the English, pending a final settlement.

Now the thoughtful Quadra gave another proof of his generosity: it was an endeavour to cement the friendship of Maquinna, the Chief, with Vancouver. He suggested that they make a state visit to the native prince at his village of Tashis, deep in the labyrinth of the Sound. Vancouver was delighted. No such an embassy had ever taken place: two representatives of Britain and Spain making a formal visit to the cedar-plank hall of an Indian potentate.

It was a wonderful success. In gold braid and lace, the Captains and their attendants paid court to Maquinna, surrounded by his family and his warriors. There was entertainment when masked figures whirled and jumped and padded about in imitation of animals; and sailors danced jigs and hornpipes. Spanish cooks vied with Nootkan squaws in preparing such a feast as would be remembered for years by all who were privileged to attend, and where fine linen and silverware were utilized along with wooden troughs and ceremonial spoons of horn and shell. It was a wonderful success, and Maquinna accepted Vancouver into his confidence and friendship.

The next night, at Friendly Cove, the British captain celebrated with an exhibition of fireworks that made the very heavens testify to his regard for the mighty Maquinna.


Darkness had fallen on July 17, 1793, when a tired and ragged little party of sun-bronzed men stumbled down from the mountains in the Bella Coola valley, near present-day Burnt Bridge Creek, and staggered into the hospitable home of an Indian chief to receive a generous welcome.

The leader of the strangers was Alexander Mackenzie, partner in the mighty North West Company, who had crossed the Rocky Mountains from Fort Fork on the Peace River, to explore trade possibilities from the continental backbone to the Pacific Ocean. The Hudson's Bay Company's charter lands did not extend to the west of the mountain chain.

Mackenzie, with Alexander Mackay as his second in command, and eight men, left Fort Fork on May 9. It had been a difficult and most dangerous venture, which at times had frightened and discouraged the men, who would often have abandoned the trip had it not been for the encouragement of the two leaders. Reluctantly, day by day, the voyageurs were induced to continue. Turbulent river currents were encountered, while shallows tore the bottom of the deep-laden frail birch-bark canoe, and dark canyons filled with foaming waters compelled tiresome portages. But at last they had come to one of the upper reaches of the great river that was to bear the name of Fraser.

The broad stream was embarked upon, and swiftly it carried the adventurers to the west and south. Then the Fort George canyon had to be negotiated, and on and on went the party until near present day Fort Alexandria. It was learned from the Indians that there were greater dangers and obstacles ahead, so Mackenzie turned back to the mouth of a stream entering from the west—which he called West Road River—and after following it for a short way abandoned the canoe and continued on foot.

Now, two months later, after enduring fatigue and hunger and danger as their constant companions, the party had reached the banks of the river that flowed into "the stinking lake," as the Indians called the sea. "Friendly Village," Mackenzie named the abode of his kindly hosts. The natives provided two canoes with crews to take the explorers down the river. "I had imagined that the Canadians who accompanied me were the most expert canoe-men in the World, but they are very inferior to these people, and they themselves acknowledged, in conducting these vessels."

Another village—described as "The Great Village"—was reached. Here the Indians were threatening but soon assumed a more gracious attitude, though fearful when Mackenzie produced his astronomical instruments to take an observation. They thought the salmon in the river might become frightened.

Continuing the descent of the stream, Mackenzie came to still another village, close to the sea, where the propensities of the inhabitants were such that it has ever since been remembered by this name "Rascals' Village."

Mackenzie had achieved his great objective. He had at last reached the sea. But it was in a most matter-of-fact way that he noted the occurrence in his journal: "From these houses, I could perceive the termination of the river, and its discharge into a narrow arm of the sea." No flowery language, no boastings, not even a notation that he, Mackay, and their men were the first known men of the white race to cross the continent by land, north of Mexico.

The explorer was not content; he wanted to know just where he had come out to the ocean, so he decided to adventure down the arm to take better observations in a locality less enclosed by mountains. He went down North Bentinck Arm, past the entrance to Burke Channel, up Labouchere Channel and into Dean Channel, and turning to the other shore he passed the opening to Elcho Harbour. In the course of this trip Indians were encountered, who did not appear to be too friendly. This attitude was especially shown by one old man, whom Mackenzie described as "troublesome." He insisted that he had been fired upon by "Macubah." It was the first intimation that Mackenzie had that Captain Vancouver had been lately in the vicinity. Actually, they had missed each other by only a few weeks.

Anticipating hostile action, the party encamped on a great rock that was capable of being defended, and here was recorded in paint made of vermilion and grease: "Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, One thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-three."

The inscription has disappeared, but it was seen some forty years later when visited by a Hudson's Bay Company's vessel. Definitely located by Captain R. P. Bishop British Columbia Land Surveyor, the rock now bears a commemorative tablet.


The sun broke fitfully through the clouds on the morning of March 28, 1795, sprinkling with golden light the pebbled beach of the little cove where Captain John Meares had built the 'North West America', the vessel he had launched at Nootka to the wonderment of the natives. There was a ceremony in progress. The flags of Great Britain and of Spain were in evidence, the latter flapping from the top of an improvised staff. Several officers wearing the uniform of His Catholic Majesty the King of Spain approached the ceremonial base, where a few soldiers and sailors from the 'Active' and the 'San Carlos' formed a guard of honour. Then a solitary figure in the scarlet tunic of His Britannic Majesty's Marine Forces walked briskly forward.

He was Lieutenant Thomas Pearce. He represented His Majesty King George III. He saluted a man in the dress of a Brigadier-General of Spain. He was Jose Manuel Alava, appointed to represent the Crown of Spain. They were meeting by arrangement to settle finally the dispute that originated over that bit of Nootkan beach, when in 1789 British seamen had been arrested and their ships had been seized. War had threatened to divide the world because of that incident. This had been prevented when Spain acceded to the demand of Great Britain that the lands from which British subjects had been dispossessed should be restored, and the shipowners should be reimbursed. Captain Vancouver had come to Nootka to meet Quadra and accept return of the "territories," but they could not agree upon the size and precise location of the lands involved. The matter had been referred back to their respective Courts.

Several years passed before settlement was reached. The world was in a ferment as a result of the French Revolution. Old friendships and national alignments had altered, and now Great Britain and Spain were allied against the rising power of France. In this spirit of cordiality they at last got down to fashioning a new Nootkan agreement. Compensation was made to the shipowners whose vessels had been seized: two hundred and ten thousand hard silver dollars they received. This was followed by an understanding that no definite division should be made of the Island of Quadra and Vancouver. Both nations were to share alike.

After setting out that representatives of the two kings were to meet at Nootka and go through a formal ceremony, the new convention—the agreement framed in friendship provided that after declaration and counter-declaration had been exchanged at Nootka, the forces of both nations should withdraw, "but the subjects of the two Crowns shall be in future at liberty to resort to and construct there temporary buildings for their own use during their residence," but without its being allowable for either nation to make any permanent establishment or "claim any territorial sovereignty to the exclusion of the other." And finally, that in order mutually to secure to the respective subjects the liberty of frequenting the aforesaid Port, of carrying on their trade, and of residing there as occasion may require, "the two Powers shall unite against every other Nation which should in future attempt to establish there any pretention to dominion or Sovereignty."

This meant that the two countries were to have equal rights—though territories were undefined—on the big island.

The flag of Spain flew at the top of the flagstaff while the formal declaration and counter-declaration were read. The few Spanish soldiers and sailors, Chief Maquinna, the Lord of Nootka, with several other chiefs, and John Kendrick, the Yankee skipper, who had first carried the star-spangled emblem of the American republic to the western seas, looked and listened. Then, slowly, the gold and red banner of old Spain fluttered down, and the red, white and blue flag of Great Britain rose to replace it. Everyone saluted both. Then Brigadier Alava gave an order. The Spanish troops turned and marched down to the water's edge, where boats waited to carry them aboard the Spanish ships of war that were to take them away.

Lieutenant Pearce lingered for a few moments, to see the British ensign hauled down. He carefully folded it, and addressing Chief Maquinna, using Captain Kendrick as interpreter, he told the Chief that King George had heard much good about him, and because of that fact was going to entrust him with the keeping of his flag. He must display it, said Pearce, every time that a ship appeared in the offing. And Maquinna, who first saw the flag when Captain James Cook brought it, promised to be true to that trust. Pearce bade him good-bye and, turning, followed the Spaniards into the boats.


Daring sea captains continued to scour the coasts of the North Pacific for prime sea otter furs. The vicinity of Nootka, following the withdrawal of the Spanish garrison, was less attractive to traders, not because of the absence of the Dons but because the waters did not produce as abundantly as in former years. The Queen Charlotte Islands offered better markets for the white traders' wares.

The natives of the Queen Charlotte group were a bold, warlike, insolent lot. They made no attempt to conceal their contempt for the white men, and when opportunity offered would not hesitate to attack a vessel.

Captain Hugh Moore, of the 'Phoenix', found this to be the case when he went into Cumshewa Inlet in search of trade. He stopped in front of Skedans, the principal village of Chief Cumshewa, and one of his boats was attacked and a man killed. Moore warped his vessel close to shore and opened fire. To his surprise his cannonading was answered in kind and with such effect that he was glad to sail away.

The manner in which the natives of Cumshewa's tribe secured small arms and artillery came to light in the summer of 1795, when the fate of the Boston schooner 'Resolution', tender to the brig 'Jefferson', was learned.

This little vessel, under the command of a Captain Burling, and with Solomon Kendrick, son of the notable Captain John Kendrick, as mate, went to Skedans in July, 1794. The natives, led by Scatseye, Cumshewa's brother, rushed the schooner and butchered all they encountered. In rifling the cargo later, they found a sailor named Bears hiding in a cask. At first they were going to kill him, but one Indian, whose brother had been killed in the attack, claimed him as a slave.

The unfortunate sailor was stripped of his clothing, was beaten and abused, and was made to serve as a servant to the other slaves of his master. Whenever a trading ship appeared, he was dragged into the forest where he was chained to a tree.

It was months later that Kow, a chief at Kaigani (on modern Ball Island, Alaska), told Captain Charles Bishop, of the English brig 'Ruby', of the imprisonment of the white sailor. Bishop told other traders and the story soon became general knowledge.

Captain Thomas Burnett of the snow 'Mercury', with the aid of the brig 'Despatch', headed an expedition to Skedans to rescue the prisoner. A battle ensued, in which Burnett said the women fought with great ferocity. At last the whites captured Cumshewa's brother and his son, as well as other members of the chief's household. These were held as hostages until Bears was liberated and brought on board the 'Mercury'. The man was so numbed by abuse and suffering that it was several days before he was able to give a clear account to Captain Burnett of the torment of his enslavement.

"The winter, the only he had the unhappiness to spend amongst them," Captain Bishop set down in the log of the 'Ruby', "was remarkably favourable (but most severely cold); during this time he was forced to cut wood, make their fires, then was driven from the sight of it outside the hut, and not even allowed to approach the slaves' fire but to bring them what they wanted."

Four years later, the American brig 'Eliza', flying the British flag to deceive Cumshewa, arrived at Skedans. Scatseye was induced to come on board, and immediately sail was hoisted and the vessel was headed for Kaigani and the home of Scatseye's most deadly enemy. The brother of Cumshewa was turned over to the tender mercies of Kow by Captain Burling—for he was the brother of the young skipper of the 'Resolution', who had been killed by Scatseye's hand.


When both Great Britain and Spain withdrew all controls from Nootka they left the village at Yuquot, or Friendly Cove, to Chief Maquinna. He was at first highly pleased that the whites had withdrawn. But he soon found that things had changed. He had become accustomed to the white strangers and had enjoyed their compliments and their gifts.

Ever since he had seen Captain James Cook's ships emerge from the sea mists, he had been pampered and petted by traders for the most part, although in those earlier times there had been men like Captain Hanna and the Spaniard Martinez, whose memories he hated. But there were such wonderful friends as Quadra and Vancouver, and Pedro Alberni who had glorified him in song. These old friends were gone; even Captain John Kendrick, the Yankee skipper, had disappeared. Now but few vessels came to Nootka and they were captained by strangers who did not seem to appreciate the greatness of Maquinna. These instances of lack of deference and respect seared the soul and soured the disposition of the old potentate of Nootka Sound.

It was on March 12, 1803, that the ship 'Boston', a fine vessel from the port of the same name, dropped anchor in the Sound, about four miles from Friendly Cove. Maquinna went on board. He was received pleasantly, and for a time watched young John Rodger Jewitt, the armourer or blacksmith, at work at his forge. Maquinna always admired the arts of a smith, who could fashion daggers and knives and spear heads from iron.

The captain presented Maquinna with a double-barrelled gun. He was delighted and hastened ashore to try it. He brought it back next morning. He was angry and charged that the gun was "bad." Captain Salter was also ill-tempered. He flew into a rage, seized the weapon and threw it down the hatch to Jewitt to repair, calling Maquinna a liar. He probably forgot that the old Indian knew a good deal of English.

Maquinna clutched at his throat to keep his anger from choking him, he later explained. He went on shore, called his people together and told them what had happened. The warriors declared that such an insult to their chief could not be tolerated.

The next morning Maquinna returned to the 'Boston'. He was gay. He wore a mask and carried a whistle. He capered about the deck. He asked the Captain if he would not like some salmon before he left port. These he said could be obtained at Friendly Cove. Salter immediately sent off his first officer B. Delouisa and a strong party.

When they had departed, Maquinna blew his whistle. The Indians on board the 'Boston' drew their daggers and attacked the crew, while others boarded the ship to take part in the massacre. Captain Salter was stabbed and thrown over the side where the squaws beat him to death with their canoe paddles.

Maquinna had given orders that Jewitt, the armourer, should be spared. He was wounded slightly, and was taken and dragged before Maquinna, who made him identify his dead comrades. He noted that John Thompson, the sailmaker, was not among the victims of the massacre. Delouisa and his party were all killed at Friendly Cove. Maquinna told Jewitt that he would spare him if he would ply his trade for him. It was that or death.

The first thing that Jewitt had to do was to direct the making of sail and taking the 'Boston' to Friendly Cove, where she was beached. Here the Indians commenced to pillage the vessel, and discovered Thompson, hiding in the hold. He was dragged before Maquinna who would have ordered his death, had not Jewitt claimed him as his father. So the old sailmaker was also made a slave.

Other vessels were on the Coast, and the word was soon carried to them of what had happened to the 'Boston'. A few days later the brigs 'Juno' and 'Mary' boldly sailed into Friendly Harbour, squared away, and fired three broadsides in the direction of the village, without doing any harm. They then sailed away, leaving the two white men as slaves.


It was the summer of 1805: the American brig 'Lydia' was trading on the West Coast. One day Machee Ulatilla, an Indian chief, arrived in a canoe. He had come a long distance with a letter. Captain Samuel Hill was more than surprised to find it was signed by John R. Jewitt and John Thompson, members of the crew of the ship 'Boston', telling of their captivity, as sole survivors of the vessel, at Nootka. Hill had heard that the ship had been destroyed but this was the first news that there were any of her personnel alive.

Jewitt, the young armourer, and John Thompson, the sailmaker of the 'Boston', had sent off, by friendly visiting Indians, sixteen letters penned with a quill by Jewitt with a mixture of charcoal and berry juice.

It was the middle of July before Captain Hill was able to get to Nootka. Here he found that Friendly Cove was defended with a battery of six cannon taken from the 'Boston'.

There was no hostile gesture, however, when he entered the cove. The Indians were feeling the boycott that traders imposed following the taking of the 'Boston'. There were many things that they wanted. While much of the heavier material, such as cannon, powder, ball, running gears and anchors had been removed, the greater part of the cargo of the captured ship had been accidentally burned.

The Nootkans blamed Maquinna for their isolation, and even for the fact that there were few whales off shore. There were murmurings and plottings. Then the chief appointed the two white men as his bodyguard and they protected him as he had protected them. They were given considerable freedom and used to go regularly to a small lake where they held prayers for their freedom. Jewitt kept a journal, having found a blank book before the vessel was burned. He noted down the daily events of their captivity and the doings of the Indians.

Maquinna did not care much for Thompson, although he admired him as a warrior, having used him in battle with the Barkley Sound Indians, where he did great execution. But the old chief was really attached to Jewitt, who made him daggers and knives and spears. He had given Jewitt a wife, as an evidence of his favour, but the young white man had put her aside, for fear she might interfere with his plans for escape.

Maquinna was in two minds about going aboard the 'Lydia'. He asked Jewitt for his advice, for he was very fond of the young white man and treated him well. Jewitt assured him it would be quite safe for him to do so and offered to give him a letter saying he was a good chief. This Maquinna welcomed, but the letter asked that the bearer be held as a hostage for the deliverance of the captives. This was done.

Captain Sam Hill recorded that having secured Maquinna he demanded the production of the slaves. "When they were about to embark in a canoe to come aboard," he related, "a council was held on the beach, wherein several of the chiefs advised to kill them both and hazard the worst rather than suffer the particulars of their conduct, relative to the capture of the ship, to be known; but they were given to understand that if they did not immediately bring the two men on board, alive and unhurt, I would assuredly punish their chiefs and destroy the village. This had the desired effect and I was happy in recovering the men together with the guns and ammunition without entering into a quarrel." Maquinna was set free and left the vessel with many expressions of gratitude, but with real sorrow at the departure of Jewitt. He did not seem to mourn Thompson. John Jewitt wrote a book about his adventures. It was translated into several languages. He revised it, several years after his first story was printed, but the plain unvarnished story as he penned it in berry juices and charcoal is a most dramatic and enlightening tale.

And as for Maquinna: his act of treachery in attacking the 'Boston' wrote "Finis" to his relations with the whites. He was never again trusted.


It was in the spring of 1806 that the Indians at Lake Na'kal first encountered a white man. He was James McDougall, one of Simon Fraser's force from Rocky Mountain Portage establishment on the Peace River, not very far from the present-day Hudson's Hope. This place had been constructed by Fraser as a base from which he could carry out the instructions of his associates of the North West Company that the fur trade be carried to the Pacific side of the continental divide.

The North West Company had but recently been reinvigorated by fusion with the XY Company, another Canadian trading concern, and, having heard that President Thomas Jefferson, of the United States, had sent Captains Lewis and Clark on an exploratory trip to the western seaboard, felt some alarm. It was therefore decided, at the great council of the Company at Fort William, that Simon Fraser should make all haste across the Rockies to occupy potential fur fields, and extend the geographical knowledge of the country into which Sir Alexander Mackenzie had penetrated.

McDougall, with several men, was sent ahead. He camped on a lake, which he called Trout Lake. Here, following the arrival of Fraser later in the year, it was determined to establish a permanent post. It and the lake were honoured by Fraser with the name of his friend Archibald Norman McLeod. As Fort McLeod, the trading-post has continued, being the first white community established in British Columbia west of the Rockies.

The next spring (1806), McDougall discovered Lake Na'kal. During his brief stay among the Carrier Indians at that place he presented one, named Toeyen, with a piece of red cloth. The Indian valued it highly and regarded it with almost superstitious awe.

Now it was July 26 of the same year. The surface of the lake was ruffled by a brisk wind, and the canoes at Quaw's village were drawn up on the beach. Suddenly there was a cry of alarm: two very large canoes, filled with queerly dressed strangers, appeared around a point from the juncture of the lake and river. Surely this must be a warlike attack. The men were called to arms and the women and children were hurried to the protection of the forest. But Toeyen was not afraid. These strangers appeared to be similar to his friends who had given him the precious cloth. He hastened to where his treasures were stored, and appeared again with the red rag about his waist. Now he entered a canoe and went boldly to meet the newcomers. He was recognized and was taken into Fraser's canoe. At first his kinsmen thought he had been killed, but presently they heard him calling loudly that he was among friends.

So Fraser and his companions landed to receive a warm welcome by Quaw and his people. It was a wonderful scene, and recalled to Fraser stories his mother had told him of the lochs of old Scotland, with their rugged shores. John Stuart, his friend and lieutenant, corroborated the resemblance. So it was that the country was named New Caledonia, and in gallant compliment to his assistant Fraser called the lake "Stuart." Here, during the remaining summer months, a fort was constructed. At first it was known as "Nakazleh," but later it was rechristened "Fort St. James" and became the active centre of New Caledonia.

The Indians were friendly. They told of another fine lake, about forty miles to the southward. The salmon had not yet arrived in the annual tens of thousands at Stuart Lake. Food supplies were meagre; so Stuart with several men was sent to take a look at this other body of water. It was agreed that they would later meet at a designated spot on the Nechako River. Soon after Stuart took his departure the salmon arrived in abundance. There was a surfeit of fish.

When the friends met according to appointment, Stuart had such an enthusiastic story to tell of the wonders of the place he had visited that they decided to visit it in company. Here John Stuart returned the compliment of his chief. He named the beautiful sheet of water "Fraser Lake." Here also a trading-post was built. It was first known as "Natleh," but later as "Fort Fraser."

Thus it was that Fraser and Stuart and McDougall with a few half-starved men and a scarcity of trade goods founded establishments that were later to figure prominently in the development of the country.


Jules Maurice Quesnel and Hugh Faries brought a message to Simon Fraser in the fall of 1807 from the council of the North West Company instructing him to explore the "Great River" to the sea.

In preparation for this duty, Fraser established another post, at the junction of the Nechako and the big stream. This he named Fort George, and Faries was named its first commander. From this place, late in May, 1808, the exploring party consisting of Fraser, his tried and trusted lieutenant John Stuart, Quesnel, nineteen voyageurs, and two Indians, took its departure.

Fifteen miles below Fort George disaster threatened members of the party who undertook to run the dangerous canyon. Having escaped destruction here the party found it advisable to portage the supplies at the junction of the Cottonwood, and camped where another river entered. This was honoured with the name of Quesnel.

From that time on Fraser and his men encountered new difficulties each day. Not only were there physical obstacles to overcome, but the different Indian tribes had to be approached with caution, and be placated and left as friends. Finally it was found impossible to continue by canoe, and the party's craft were cached near Pavilion Creek, earlier near Kelly Creek. Fraser wrote in his journal: "the channel contracts to about forty yards, and is enclosed by two precipices of immense height, which, bending towards each other, make it narrower above than below. The water which rolls down this extraordinary passage in tumultuous waves and with great velocity, had a frightful appearance." This danger was negotiated, but it was decided not to try fortune again under similar circumstances.

Where present Lillooet is located, an Indian fort of one hundred feet by twenty-four was discovered. The palisades of this defensive work were eighteen feet in height. Continuing along the river, Fraser found the village of "Camchin." The principal town of the Hacamough tribe, it was situated at the forks where the clear waters of a large river entered the muddy stream of the one Fraser was following. Thinking that this must be the river that another noted North-West partner had reported having found, Fraser named it the "Thompson."

The dangers and difficulties already encountered were exceeded by those that followed after leaving Camchin. "Here we were obliged to carry on among the loose stones in the face of a steep hill between two precipices. Near the top, where the ascent was perfectly perpendicular, one of the Indians climbed to the summit and by means of a long rope drew us up one after another. This work took three hours, and then we continued our course up and down hills and along steep declivities of mountains where hanging rocks and projecting cliffs, at the edge of the bank of the river, made the passage so small as to render it, at times difficult even for one person to pass sideways." Such was Fraser's description of one place.

At Spuzzum, where they were well received, the explorers noted the influence of the coastal tribes. Soon they had emerged from the canyons, and in dug-out canoes, obtained from the Indians, were being carried on the gentle flow through the lush lowlands.

It was July 2 when, following the north arm of the river, Fraser stopped at the great village of Musqueam. This was fortified. "The fort," he said, "is fifteen hundred feet in length and ninety in breadth." The natives had evacuated the place when they saw the approach of the party, but one Indian who had come with them urged them to flee as the warriors would soon return. This was proved to be sound counsel, for soon Indians appeared and made such a warlike demonstration that Fraser and his men soon retreated up the river. According to Indian legend they were mistaken for enemies from Chawassin.

As a result, Fraser never actually debouched into the Gulf of Georgia but he saw the glint of the sea, and he knew that he had reached—not the mouth of the Columbia—but that of his own river, The Fraser.


When the mighty men of the North West Company told Simon Fraser to explore the river that Sir Alexander Mackenzie had discovered, they also issued instructions to David Thompson to occupy the country to the south of Fraser's forts, and west of the Rockies. They wished to forestall the Americans.

Thompson was admirably suited for the work. He was a trained surveyor and an experienced Indian trader, having served his apprenticeship in the barter for furs with the Hudson's Bay Company before he joined the Canadian organization. In 1806, when he received his orders to cross the Rocky Mountains, he was at Rocky Mountain House on the North Saskatchewan, near its junction with the Clearwater.

He had some previous acquaintance with the Kootenae Indians, a party of whom he had met. They had ventured through to the eastern foothills in hopes of establishing trade with the white men. Thompson had made them presents and advised them to return home, as the Piegans, their mortal enemies, were in the vicinity of the trading-post. The Piegans were a warlike tribe in the Blackfoot Confederacy, who often raided through the mountain passes to drive off the Kootenaes' horses. Ever since the establishment of trade depots, they had guarded those passes to keep the Kootenaes from contact with the whites.

Thompson had to make his preparations without arousing the suspicion of the Piegans. He sent Jacco Finlay ahead to explore the way through the Rockies. He succeeded in crossing to the Columbia River, where he built two canoes, and returned to report to his superior.

With Finan McDonald as his second in command, Thompson, accompanied by his wife and family and a party of company servants, followed the route of Finlay. They utilized the break now known as Howse Pass. They came upon a small stream, the waters of which flowed to the west, indicating that they had crossed the divide.

The explorer was delighted. He devoutly wrote in his journal: "May God in His mercy give me to see where its waters flow into the ocean and return in safety." This earnest prayer was eventually answered, but not until four years had passed.

The tiny stream was the source of the Blaeberry River. They followed it to its place of entry into the Columbia. It was here that Finlay had cached his two canoes. Unfortunately the larger craft was so damaged by weather that it was useless, but Thompson and his men set to work and built a boat out of the materials at hand. In this they started up the big river. It was a rough and dangerous trip, but eventually they could see a lake and near it a stream entering the river. It is now known as Toby Creek. Close to this Thompson commenced the construction of a fort, which he named "Kootenae House."

The party reached the place in a famished and weakened condition. They had depended upon game to sustain them, but there appeared to be little animal life, and their success at fishing had been poor. They had found coyotes eating a dead horse, and had driven the animals off and had consumed some of the flesh. It was tainted, and they were sick.

"At length, thank Heaven," the grateful Thompson wrote, "two Kootenae men arrived: they saw our famished looks and asking no questions gave every one of us a sufficiency to eat which was most gratefully accepted and then traded with me dried provisions enough for two days."

Now, to add to their misery, a band of Piegans arrived, in an effort to terrorize the Kootenaes and frighten the whites. They stayed about for several months, but all the time the strength of the fort was growing, and when the palisades were up and loop-holed, the visitors realized that it was beyond their ability to capture. They departed.

The first fort in the Southern Interior of British Columbia had been established.


John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant to the United States, had visions of establishing a great fur empire based upon a permanent depot at the mouth of the Columbia River. He suggested to the North West Company that it join him in the enterprise. The idea was scorned by that veteran organization of the wilds; the concern that had successfully challenged the power and authority of the Hudson's Bay Company was not interested in the dreams of an unknown German furrier.

Astor was not dismayed by the refusal. It was really the experience of the Nor'westers that he coveted: so he made overtures to some of the most experienced of the company's Indian traders. One of the first to join Astor's fur company was Alexander McKay, who had accompanied Sir Alexander Mackenzie on his great overland trip to the Pacific in 1793.

When in 1810 Astor had completed his plans and started two expeditions, one overland and the other on board the ship 'Tonquin', for the mouth of the Columbia, the proud and disdainful Nor'west traders took notice. David Thompson, who had already crossed the Rocky Mountains and had established several outposts there, was at Rainy River with furs. He was ordered to hasten back to Rocky Mountain House, where he was to organize a strong party for a dash across the continental backbone and down to the sea. He was to arrive at the mouth of the Columbia before the Americans, and to claim the country for King George III and the Company.

It was to be a race, a contest of speed and endurance, with an Empire as the prize.

Thompson hurried to Rocky Mountain House and prepared to speed through Howse Pass to Kootenae House, to follow the McGillivray's—now Kootenay—River to Salish House, and to go thence to the lower Columbia. He hoped to make the trip before the end of the year. But the Piegan Indians, with their confederates amongst the prairie tribes, decided otherwise. They determined to prevent Thompson again taking trading goods to their enemies, the Kootenaes. They blocked him in the use of the pass he had previously used, and much time was lost in going by way of Athabasca Pass. But of greater injury to him was the fear that their demonstration had caused amongst Thompson's party of more than twenty.

Reaching the Columbia, he proposed to go up the stream to its headquarters and Kootenae House, but his men refused to proceed and four of them deserted. He finally determined to winter where he was, and built a house for that purpose near the junction of the Wood River.

After a miserable winter, marked by the dissatisfaction of his men, and the desertion of more of them, he proposed to abandon his plan and to go down the Columbia. His men again objected; they feared the rapids and unknown dangers of the route. So Thompson had to go up to his Lake Windermere post, with the eight men who remained with him. From Kootenae House he crossed over to the McGillivray and down that stream to find Salish House abandoned. Finan McDonald and Jacco Finlay, whom he had left there, had moved to a new location, called Spokane House.

Hastening from this establishment to Kettle Falls and down the Columbia with five French Canadians, two Iroquois and two local Indians, he posted notices where he stopped to camp, claiming the country for the British Crown and his Company. It was at the Dalles that he first learned that white strangers were building at the mouth of the river.

When the 'Tonquin' reached the river in March, its men lost no time in building a fort. On July 15, 1811, Thompson reached this new establishment, over which flew the star-bespangled flag of the United States. The timidity and lack of courage of his men had lost Thompson the race ... and Great Britain the sovereignty over a great and rich territory.


It was the summer of 1811 and Astor's ship 'Tonquin' had come to the west coast of Vancouver's Island from the Pacific Fur Company's new establishment at the mouth of the Columbia to barter with the Indians for sea-otter furs. The vessel was commanded by Captain Jonathan Thorne, a former naval officer and a man of hasty temper. With him, in charge of Indian sales, was Alexander McKay, a partner in Astor's organization and former trader and explorer for the North West Company.

'Tonquin' nosed into Clayoquot Sound and encountered tragedy. Just who was to blame for arousing the enmity of the Indians has long been in doubt. Some allege that Captain Thorne was at fault. It was asserted that the Captain was doing the trading, and became exasperated by the insistence of an old Indian named Nookamis that he be given a bonus over the price agreed upon for an otter pelt. Thorne is said to have seized the fur and rubbed the face of the native with it. But the story as related in the lodges of the Clayoquots and about the fires of a winter night blames McKay, whose business it was to carry on barter.

He was dealing with Nookamis, who was pestering him for an addition to the payment, when McKay pushed the old man. A powerful war-chief named Maniwa saw the insult given. He threw his arms about the white man and uttered a war-whoop. Instantly knives flashed and the captain and other officers were attacked and killed. The crew members in the fore part of the vessel seemed to be paralysed by the sudden attack and were unable to offer assistance to their superiors or resistance to the natives.

All but two white men were killed in that first onslaught, the Indian story says. One of these was a man named James Lewis, and he was wounded. He hid himself below decks, and the Indians hesitated to follow him into the dark recesses of the ship. In the meantime more and more canoes were arriving from shore with natives eager to join in the work of plunder.

Suddenly, and without warning, there was a terrific explosion; the wooden ship burst asunder, the deck laden with exultant victors was blasted into the air in a sheet of flame. Scores were killed, while even more died in the canoes alongside from the shock of the explosion and from falling debris from the torn craft.

This ending of the 'Tonquin' is in agreement with the news brought back to Astoria by the Indian interpreter, who alone of the vessel's personnel survived. According to him Lewis had exploded the powder magazine. Four others, he said, had escaped the knives of the Indians on board the ship; they fled in the night in a small boat and were captured some miles away and were killed. Lewis had refused to go with them, being determined to exact revenge for the slaying of his shipmates.

Tent-a-coose, a Cowichan Indian who was a slave amongst the Clayoquots, witnessed the whole affair from the shore. Later he was liberated by the Hudson's Bay Company, and as an old man delighted in telling of the blowing up of the 'Tonquin'. He timed it as being the morning following the massacre. Lewis, he said, appeared on deck and waved to the Indians to come on board. They did so, and when the vessel was crowded, the magazine was exploded. Tent-a-coose estimated that more than two hundred Clayoquots lost their lives and many more were crippled by Lewis's awful revenge.

The loss of the 'Tonquin' was a serious blow to the little settlement at the mouth of the Columbia, which did not learn of the fate of the ship and her crew until months later when the interpreter made his way back to Astoria with the horrible story.


David Thompson lost his race for possession of the mouth of the Columbia, while his efforts to claim the territories through which he hurried on his way to the sea also resulted in failure.

In the summer of 1811 David Stuart and Alexander Ross headed a trading expedition from Astoria to the great interior country. It was at the junction of the Snake and Columbia rivers that they found a British flag flying above an Indian encampment. It was one of Thompson's bits of bunting, and with it he had confided to the custody of a chief a paper. Written on it was this, "Know hereby that this country is claimed by Great Britain as part of its Territories, and that the N.W. Company of Merchants from Canada, finding the Factory for this People inconvenient for them, do intend to erect a Factory in this place for the Country around."

The natives, who were proud of their flag and the trust reposed in them by Thompson, tried to dissuade Stuart and Ross from their purpose. This, however, made them only more determined to explore the unknown land to the north. They turned up a stream that flowed from that direction. It was the Okanogan[*] River, and they built a post upon its banks, a cabin of sixteen by twenty feet.

[*] The beautiful lake and river have different spellings. The lake, being in what is now British Columbia, is written "Okanagan," as is the river north of the boundary. In the United States the river and other place names such as the old fort site are spelled "Okanogan."

From this place that fall Stuart decided to continue his explorations for profitable fur fields. Taking a Canadian, Montigny, and two others with him, he left Ross and a small dog the only occupants of Okanogan. He travelled up the river to the great Lake Okanagan, and along the shores of that beautiful body of water. Crossing to the westward over a fine plateau he came to the "country of the She-waps [Shuswaps]" and made camp at the junction of two fine rivers—where Kamloops is located today.

It was mid-September when he started away from Okanogan, and according to his reckoning it was between 200 and 250 miles to the land of the "She-Waps." It was no wonder, therefore, that he was overtaken by winter. "The snow fell while we were here in the mountains, and precluded our immediate return," he wrote, "and after waiting for fine weather the snows got so deep that we considered it hopeless to attempt getting back, and therefore, passed our time with the She-Waps and other tribes of that quarter." He returned to his friend Ross, who had almost despaired of seeing him again, in the middle of March, 1812, after having been absent 188 days. But it had been a profitable trip, and he was able to take 2,500 beaver pelts, the result of his and Ross's trading, to Astoria in April.

It was now Ross's turn to visit the She-Waps. He left Okanogan on May 6 with several men and sixteen horses and reached the forks of the Thompson ten days later and "there encamped at a place called by the Indians 'Cumcloups', near the entrance of the north branch." He stayed for ten days and was overwhelmed with trade by the 2,000 natives forgathered there. "Not expecting to see so many," he said, "I had taken but a small quantity of goods with me, nevertheless, we loaded all our horses, so anxious they were to trade, and so fond of leaf tobacco at the rate of five leaves per skin, and at last, when I had but one yard of white cotton remaining, one of the chiefs gave me twenty prime beaver skins for it."

That same summer, Joseph Laroque arrived and built a North West Company post close by. Kamloops had been founded as a trading centre, having been first located by the United States fur interests. Stuart later replaced Ross, and at Christmas, 1812, Ross made the journey from Okanogan to spend Christmas with him. He returned to his own post by way of the Similkameen, thus pioneering in the white man's exploration of that country.


For ten days H.M.S. 'Raccoon', Captain William Black, lay in Baker's Bay, within the mouth of the Columbia River, while a storm raged outside. The warship had come around Cape Horn to capture the American trading-post of Astoria, war having broken out between Great Britain and the United States. The sloop-of-war, of twenty-six guns and with a complement of 120 officers and men, had arrived on November 30, 1813, expecting to make easy conquest of a rich prize. On the long voyage from the South Atlantic, Black and his men had speculated upon the riches that would result from the baled furs that they would seize with the taking of Astor's fort.

Now that the 'Raccoon' had arrived, Black was chagrined to learn that the star-spangled banner of the young Republic no longer fluttered from the masthead in front of the main gate, but that the flag of Great Britain waved there. The Astorians, anticipating the capture of the place when they learned that a war vessel had been ordered to the Columbia, had sold out to the North West Company, which was in possession when the 'Raccoon' crossed the bar.

Captain Black was not the man to be thwarted by such a circumstance. After thinking the matter over while his ship tossed about Baker's Bay, he landed on December 12, bringing a small force of seamen and marines with him. Then he armed members of the North West Company's personnel, and after having dined at the fort, he paraded the auxiliaries under the direction of the enlisted men in front of the flagpole, while Indians and Astorians looked on. He ordered that the United States flag be hoisted and then lowered; then the Union Jack replaced it and was hoisted to wave in the breeze. This having been done, Black and his armed men saluted the emblem of Empire, and the gallant Captain picked up a long-necked bottle of Madeira wine and, smashing it against the wooden pole, exclaimed that he took possession of the establishment and of the country, and that he rechristened Astoria, "Fort George."

It was an absurd and futile ceremony, and while it may have assuaged the injured vanity of the Captain, it resulted in placing the country definitely under the flag of the Republic that he sought to belittle.

When the Treaty of Ghent was signed, putting an end to the war between Great Britain and the United States, it was stipulated by the first article of that agreement that any place taken by one power from the other during hostilities should be returned. The United States immediately demanded the return of Astoria.

"But," countered British plenipotentiaries, "Fort George [Astoria] was not a prize of war, but changed hands as the result of a commercial transaction between two fur-trading companies."

"No," was the answer, "your Captain Black, of H.M.S. 'Raccoon', on April 12, 1813, lowered the flag of the United States, made formal declaration that he was taking possession in the name of His Britannic Majesty, and rechristened the post 'Fort George' in honour of his king."

Britain had to acknowledge that such had been the events on December 12 of that year on the banks of the Columbia.

The result was that there was another formal gathering held on October 6, 1818, in front of the fort gate and beneath the flag that fluttered on high. Captain F. Hickey, H.M.S. 'Blossom', and J. Keith of the North West Company officially represented Great Britain, and J. B. Prevost was accredited by the President of the United States.

Captain Hickey read from a document: "In obedience to the commands of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, signified in a dispatch from the Right Honourable the Earl of Bathurst, addressed to the partners or agents of the North West Co., bearing date, the 27th January, 1818, and in obedience to a subsequent order dated the 26th of July, from W. H. Sheriff, Esq., Captain of His Majesty's Ship 'Andromache', we the undersigned, do, in conformity to the first article of the Treaty of Ghent, restore to the Government of the United States, through its agent, J. P. Prevost, the settlement of Fort George on the Columbia River."

Then the Union Jack was lowered and the star-spangled banner was raised. The stupid action of Captain Black had definitely confirmed the sovereignty of the United States over the country.


The year 1821 was a vital one to the American West. The Hudson's Bay Company and its great rival, the North West Company, following a long period of bitter competition that resulted in bloodshed, amalgamated under the charter of the ancient organization that had been formed in the days of King Charles II.

The Hudson's Bay Company, in its operations, had not extended west of the Rocky Mountains, but now that the two concerns had merged, new attention was focused upon the potentialities of the great wild land that stretched from the crest of the continental divide to the Pacific Ocean.

Nor was Great Britain alone in viewing the great territory with increased interest. The United States and Russia were ready to lay claim to the western seaboard. Russia suddenly asserted sovereignty to all the territory washed by the Pacific down from its Alaskan littoral to a line of latitude 51 degrees north. The Czar issued a formal ukase declaring Russian territories to go to that point.

This claim was later abandoned and the United States was not quite so positive of its pretensions. It had a definite acknowledgement of sovereignty about Fort George or Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia, and this it desired to extend. The ownership of the Pacific Coast was frequently mentioned in Congress and a bill was introduced laying claim to the land and instructing the President to have a survey made of all harbours that the Republic might consider to be the property of the Republic. It also authorized the conveyance of 150 tons of cannon to the mouth of the Columbia in order to establish fortifications there.

In 1819 the United States had purchased Florida from Spain and with it obtained all Spanish territories, rights, claims and pretensions west of the Mississippi and north of latitude 42. By this, the United States became owner with Great Britain of equal rights in Vancouver's Island, and thereby confirmed in a second locality bordering the Pacific—but Washington did not realize the significance of what had been secured, a fact that was not recognized for years.

Having established peace in the fur fields of British America, and having one responsible organization with which it could work, the British Government consulted with Governor J. H. Pelly of the Hudson's Bay Company concerning the future state of the western world. It was suggested to the British ministry at Washington that nothing be done to provoke the United States in respect to the territory, unless Washington ordered some definite action. Then the Hudson's Bay Company was asked to consider moving its Pacific Headquarters from the mouth of the Columbia farther into the interior and to the north side of the great river.

When the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies united in 1821 George Simpson, a diminutive and dynamic individual, who had spent a short time in the frozen winter wastes of Athabasca, was chosen as governor of the Northern Department of the Hudson's Bay Company. Simpson was appointed because he had proved his ability and because he had created fewer personal animosities than had other fur-traders. In 1824 he was instructed to hasten across the continent to pay a visit of inspection to the Columbia department and to study on the spot the suggestions that the Company had discussed with the Government.

That trip across the continent, by the waterways and trails of the little known country, will long live in men's memories. He made the dash from Hudson Bay to Fort George in something like eighty days, clipping twenty days off the fastest trip ever recorded prior to that time.

With Simpson came Dr. John McLoughlin, who was to become a dominant figure in the West in the next thirty years—a giant of a man—and James McMillan, an experienced fur-trader.

Simpson, in his consideration of the problem of future sovereignty, determined that the lower reaches of the Fraser River should be explored and occupied. It was a matter of such moment that, although it would be winter by the time he reached the Coast, no time should be lost in sending an expedition north for that purpose. He decided that McMillan was a man qualified to head such an exploratory expedition, and he suggested it so adroitly that he led the old trader to volunteer for the service.

Artifact 1
Artifact 1

Artifacts 2, 3, 4
Artifacts 2, 3, 4

Artifact 5
Artifact 5

Artifact 6
Artifact 6

These artifacts, all showing Eastern influences, were found in British Columbia. They serve to illustrate the theories outlined in Chapter 1.

1 A graven image found near Victoria

2 Two views of a censer discovered near Yale. It probably was used in the worship of the Serpent God

3 The 'Hepburn Stone' was found near Nanaimo. Its size may be judged by the match-box

4 The Japanese sword and scabbard, reputed to be of great age, were also found at Nanaimo

5 This sculptured head was found in the sea off Nanaimo. It is known as the 'Mitchell Carving', after the name of a former owner

6 Rain-making powers have been attributed to the bearded Water God of Chinese origin. It was unearthed at Parksville, and is said to pre-date the coastal Indians


Governor Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company, wintering at Fort George on the Columbia, was pleased. Chief Trader James McMillan, a tried and capable leader, had started, November 18, 1824, with a large party to find the mouth of the Fraser River and examine its shores for a site for a trading post.

"We knew from Indian report," Simpson wrote in his diary, "that it [the Fraser] falls into the Strait that divides Vancouver's Island from the Mainland near about Burrard's Canal or 49° to 50° North Latitude. In order, however, to remove all doubts I despatched Chief Trader McMillan with a party of about forty (who would otherwise have been laying idle here all winter) a few days after my arrival at this place, although the Season was extremely unfavourable for such an enterprise and I entertain sanguine hopes that he will accomplish the object of his mission with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of all concerned by bringing a favourable report on the various points on which we require information and which is essential to carrying the present plan into effect. Taking such for granted, I would establish the principal Depot at the mouth of Fraser's River from whence a Vessel for China would sail annually with the returns, where the coasting craft would receive their outfits and deliver their returns and from whence all the posts of New Caledonia, Spokane, Nez Perces, Flat Head and Coutonais also Fort George if we are allowed to occupy a Post on the Columbia." Simpson was preparing for the future.

It was wet and cold, and December 11, 1824, was a boisterous day. McMillan, with John Work, François Noel Annance, Tom McKay and their men—including Jean B'tiste Proveau, who had accompanied Simon Fraser on his descent of the great river that was to honour him—were struggling across a shallow bay. There they had to await better weather before attempting to round the bluff headland named by Captain Vancouver "Point Roberts." On December 13 they decided to delay no longer. "The course," said John Work, the journalist of the expedition, "was therefore changed and the boats crossed the entrance of a little bay in which we were encamped, and continued along the main shore to another bay [Mud Bay] down which they proceeded to the entrance of a small river [Nicomekl] up which they continued about seven or eight miles, in a very winding course which was in general N. Easterly."

The next day they found "that the boats could proceed no farther up the river." They had to portage a distance of 7,910 yards. This was from the vicinity of present-day Langley Prairie. Then they came to a "crooked little river"—the Salmon. "This portage," John Work said, "lies through a little plain which with the mighty rain has become so soft and miry that in several places it resembles a swamp ... Elk have been very numerous here some time ago, but the hunters suppose that since the rainy season they have gone to the high grounds."

It was difficult and exhausting work, dragging the heavy boats, but at 1 o'clock, December 16, the boats, floating down the turning, twisting, shallow Salmon, emerged into the broad brown flood of the mighty river known to the whites as "the Fraser," but to the Indians as "Stahlo Prole." McMillan and his men were delighted, but none more than Jean B'tiste Proveau, who was making his second visit to Fraser's own river.

They proceeded up-stream, camped for the night, and the following morning proceeded to Hatzic Lake, where they encountered Indians with whom they conversed. Then, having continued still higher, where they met Indians who understood McMillan's speech in the Okanagan language, it was decided on the morning of December 19 to return to the Columbia. That night camp was pitched on a wooded point, on the south side of the river, opposite Annacis Island. Here the initials "H.B.Co." were carved into the trunk of a big tree, as an act of taking possession of the country. The spot became known as "H.B.Co. Tree Point" as a result of this mark.

On December 20, the mouth of the Fraser River was reached. It was the first known occasion upon which it had been visited by white men. Vancouver had missed it; Fraser had not reached it, but now, on a chill and miserable December day, some forty cold and weary men, under direction of James McMillan, drifted down to the open waters of the Gulf of Georgia. "The channel through which we came," Work wrote, "was sounded in several places towards its discharge and found to be from seven to three and a half fathoms about high water ... We saw a canoe with six Indians near the entrance to the River. On being called to by our Indians they approached to within a short distance of the boats, but could not be prevailed upon to come closer..."

The development of the Fraser River was about to start.


Union of the two great fur trading organizations was followed by a measure of uncertainty and disruption; new men, tightening of methods of trade, and rearrangement of establishments were reflected in some quarters by lessened respect on the part of the natives. Two incidents of the summer and fall of 1823 were eloquent of the dangers of such a changed attitude. One was the murder of two men at Fort George—now Prince George—and the other was a massacre at Fort St. John, on the Peace River.

It was in August, 1823, that J. Murray Yale, the officer in charge of the establishment of Fort George, decided to visit Fort St. James at Stuart Lake to borrow some building tools. Fort George had been enlarged and rebuilt since it was first thrown up by Simon Fraser. He took the interpreter, Joseph, with him on the long journey up the Nechako and Stuart Rivers, and left a French Canadian named Du Plante, with another French Canadian and two Carrier Indians, to continue the work during his absence. The Indians were named Tzill-na-o-lay and Un-la-yhin.

When Yale had departed the Indians became defiant of the authority of Du Plante, who threatened to report their conduct to Yale on his return. The Indians were permitted to sleep in the fort with the white men. During the night, after having been reprimanded, they stealthily entered the apartment occupied by the two white men and stabbed them to death. Then, taking some property from the fort, they fled. The Takulies, local Indians, were horrified, but they made no effort to follow the killers. They did not enter the fort, but guarded it against further rifling, while a messenger was sent to Fort Fraser with the news of the killings.

Upon his return, Yale stopped further work and abandoned the place for the time being, while from Fort St. James word was sent over the mountains and to other establishments to watch for the appearance of the murderers. Un-la-yhin escaped over the Rockies, but was later killed by the Cree Indians of the plains. The apprehension of Tzill-na-o-lay did not occur until four years later, and had a bearing upon the future history of British Columbia.

It was only about two months after the slaughter at Fort George that tragedy struck again, this time at Fort St. John, at the junction of the Peace and North Pine Rivers. Here Guy Hughes, officer in charge, was shot down, and a canoe crew was wiped out.

Reorganization plans called for the closing of Fort St. John, and the Indians were told they must do their trading at Fort Dunvegan. They objected to this. All the regular servants had withdrawn and Hughes remained to make arrangements for the establishment of food caches. The surly natives would not agree to assist him. At last one man said he would act as guide to the new food-stores. Hughes pleasantly patted him on the shoulder. That night the man died, and evil superstition ascribed his death to the white man's fatal touch.

It was November 1 when Hughes went down to the river bank to talk to a Beaver Indian and a Sekani youth. As he turned to re-enter the fort, the Sekani drew a pistol from beneath his blanket and shot the white trader. The Beaver followed by killing the wounded man. Indians at once commenced to loot the remaining stores in the place.

While this assassination was taking place, two heavily laden canoes from Rocky Mountain Portage were nearing Fort St. John on their way to Fort Dunvegan. Old Antoine, a grizzled veteran of the service, was in charge of the larger craft, while three younger French Canadians, Morin, Montoin and Toin, were with him. The smaller canoe was in charge of another experienced riverman, Marando, with Miette and Gregori as his crew.

Antoine Rivet and his men approached St. John singing an old boating-song. They ran in to the landing-place and stepped out to be met by a volley of bullets. Old Rivet, as he fell, shouted in defiance: "Fire, you dogs, but you will never make me afraid."

Having killed the crew the Indians pillaged the cargo. As they were engaged in this, lighting their thievish work with flaming torches, Marando and his men approached. They had been forced to delay to repair their canoe. Horrified by what they saw, as the figures of the killers moved about in the dancing light, the whites paddled up the river to the cover of darkness.

Marando landed and made his way to the home of a trustworthy Indian and together they reconnoitred the fort and ascertained what had been done. Then he and his companions started overland. It was a terrible journey, but they eventually reached Fort Dunvegan to report the massacre.

The murderers fled to the mountains. All intercourse with the Indians of the vicinity was stopped, and every effort was made without avail to hunt down the murderers.


After vainly trying to enter the Fraser for several days, the Hudson's Bay Company's schooner 'Cadboro' managed to get under way up-stream on July 23, 1827. She had come with a strong party under command of Chief Factor James McMillan to construct a Hudson's Bay Company fort and occupy the verdant valley of the mighty river for that organization and Great Britain. McMillan had explored the lower reaches of the river in the mud and cold of December, 1824, and found it good. For that service he had been elevated to a chief factorship. Now, with François Noel Annance, a daring half-breed clerk, who delighted in studying the classics and who had been with him on the previous voyage, and Donald Manson and George Barnston, young clerks who had proven themselves to be wise in the wiles of Indian trade and the ways of the natives, he was coming to exploit his discoveries.

It was three days later before the 'Cadboro' succeeded in getting abreast of the little river by which McMillan had entered the Fraser—or "Stahlo," as the Indians called it. Further on, a more desirable site for a fort was found, but it was unavailable, for the 'Cadboro' was unable to come within 300 yards of it. So the schooner dropped back to her former position, and on Monday, July 30, 1827, it was noted in the journal:

"The schooner was brought close to the shore and the horses landed by slinging them off to the bank. The poor animals appeared to rejoice heartily in their liberation. Our men at noon were all busily employed clearing the ground for the establishment. In the evening all came on board to sleep, a precaution considered necessary until we are better assured of the friendly disposition of the natives."

The Indians were not all friendly. Shoshia, a powerful chief of the great Cowichan confederacy, warned McMillan that he might expect trouble. The Indians seemed fearful of an open attack, but they set the woods on fire, and it was with great difficulty that the white men kept at their tasks of clearing land, felling and squaring timber.

By August 13 one of the bastions was finished, except for a roof of bark. It gave the men some assurance of protection. A week later enough timber had been cut to permit erecting palisades. Men were working tremendously; they exhausted themselves, and so, when wet weather came early in September, they became ill. McMillan blamed it on the continual diet of fish that had been theirs since they landed. Sick and weak though they might be, however, they worked if at all able. They needed no spur; the evidences of savagery on all sides were sufficient.

At last, on September 8, they could breathe more easily, for on that day it was recorded: "Picketting of the fort was completed and the gates hung. The rectangle inside is forty yards by forty-five; the two bastions twelve feet square each, built of eight-inch logs and having a lower and upper flooring, the latter of which is to be occupied by our artillery. The tout ensemble must have a formidable appearance to the eyes of the Indians, especially those here who have seen nothing of the kind before."

The 'Cadboro' now left the little garrison at Fort Langley as an outpost of civilization, surrounded by untamed savages. The vessel circled the Gulf of Georgia to notify the Indians that they could find trade on the Fraser. A watering-party was attacked near Comox, one sailor being killed and another wounded.

It was on November 26 that the fort was formally christened in honour of Thomas Langley, a Company director. Mr. Annance, the learned, officiated. The event was duly set down in the journal: "This morning a Flag Staff was cut and prepared, and in the afternoon erected in the South East corner of the Fort. The usual forms were gone through. Mr. Annance officiated in baptising the Establishment, and the men were regaled in celebration of the event. Our two hunters came at night having been alarmed at the firing which took place." Settlement on the Coast had commenced.


In the autumn of 1825 a youthful clerk crossed the mountains to serve in New Caledonia. His name was James Douglas. A serious-minded young man of gigantic proportions, he gave implicit obedience to the precepts of the Bible and the orders of his superiors. This grave, punctilious lad of twenty-two was destined to play a stellar role in the unfolding drama of Empire on the Pacific Coast during the next forty years.

He was by nature shy and retiring but, by the circumstances of environment, was forced to adopt a mask of cold personal isolation and austerity. This was entirely foreign to his deeply religious and sympathetic nature, but he carried the pose so long that it became accepted as his character. Devoted to learning, he stored a receptive and discriminating mind with useful information. His courage matched his towering stature; his weakness was in his aroused anger, but this he made conscious efforts to control.

William Connolly, chief factor in charge of New Caledonia, with headquarters at Fort St. James, appreciated the worth of his assistant, and gradually placed more and more responsibility upon him. He was a happy man when Douglas, early in 1828, married his beautiful daughter, Amelia. It was a marriage that was to endure for nearly half a century.

It was shortly after his wedding that Douglas was temporarily in charge of Fort St. James. He learned that the fugitive Tzill-na-o-lay, one of those guilty of the murders at Fort George in 1823, was hiding in the nearby Indian village. With several men Douglas started a search of the natives' dwellings and at last the wanted man was uncovered. He tried to stab Douglas with an arrow and a desperate struggle followed. It was ended when one of the fort retainers felled the Indian.

On returning to his village, Quaw, the Carrier chief, was indignant, for Tzill-na-o-lay had been his guest, and as such, he contended, should not have been molested. He felt that because of the death of the murderer in his village he had lost face. He determined to recover it. He laid careful plans, and by a sudden movement gained possession of the fort. Douglas was overpowered by Indians and was forced back on a table-top where he was held by several powerful braves, while another poised the great dagger of Quaw above his heart, awaiting the word of the chief to strike. Quaw hesitated. Then Mrs. Douglas and other women of the fort started to throw goods to the warriors. This was considered as reparation, and was accepted as such. Quaw's honour was satisfied and the clerk was released.

It was believed that the Indians held no further animosity, until in December when Douglas and two companions were on their way to Fort Fraser. As they left the village of Natleh, 120 armed Indians rushed into the place calling that they had come to kill Douglas. He had reached the other shore, and could easily have covered the intervening distance to the fort. If he ran, he reasoned, the Indians would have followed and been drawn up against the fort pickets; it was probable that a major clash would ensue. So James Douglas stood still. He waited until the 120 braves had crossed. They, too, stood still. They could not comprehend why he did not run. Not a word was spoken by Douglas. He just gazed steadily at the warriors. They did not like it. One by one they turned and recrossed the river. Finally none remained, and Douglas proceeded in a leisurely fashion to the fort. In the meantime some friendly Indians had arrived; they too were astonished at the iron nerve of the young white man.

The incident of a bloodless victory exerted a very great influence upon the future of the Pacific Slope, for it demonstrated that the Indians were still vengeful and the life of Douglas could not be considered safe. Connolly suggested to Governor Simpson that the clerk be moved to the Columbia. This suggestion was adopted and James Douglas was moved to Fort Vancouver to serve under his old boss of the North West Company, Chief Factor John McLoughlin, as accountant.


As Christmas of 1827 neared, the Fraser River froze over and the country was blanketed by snow. The garrison at Fort Langley felt a sense of utter isolation in a chill world of white. It was a desolate picture that shivering guards viewed over the palisades, and to them there was no beauty in the winter scene. Thoughts of the holidays brought them no comfort. There would be sufficient to eat: dried salmon and—thanks to Pierre Charles, the hunter—a bit of venison, and of course the usual dram of rum permitted upon gala occasions. But the real joy of the Yuletide and New Year seasons was not so much in the feasts as in the friendships and the welcoming of visitors. Hundreds of white, frozen miles separated Fort Langley from its nearest neighbouring fur-post.

Sunday, December 23, the keeper of the fort journal made dejected entry: "Weather still the same. Nothing stirring."

But there was a Christmas present on the way to Fort Langley, in the person of Chief Trader Alexander McKenzie, who was hurrying to reach the fort with mail and greetings before the holiday. He and his little party of four met with difficulties on the way. The journal of Christmas Eve explains:

"In the morning two Indians from the Misquim Camp near the Quoitle River, arrived with a note from Mr. A. McKenzie, the purport of which was that he was disagreeably situated with only four men amongst a formidable band of Indians, and requested our assistance in case he might not be able to extricate himself. Messrs. Manson and Annance with nine men went off immediately to his relief, but they had not proceeded far before they met him and his party all uninjured ... Mr. Mc. is a welcome visitor; he is the bearer of letters, and home news from Fort Vancouver."

McKenzie brought more: he brought good cheer and dispelled the sense of dreary isolation that had gripped the fort personnel. It was a wonderful Christmas!

McKenzie stayed until after the New Year was celebrated. Then he left with his party on the long trip to the Columbia. Some weeks later disquieting news came to the fort, through native channels, to the effect that McKenzie and his entire party had been killed as they camped on the shores of Puget Sound. At first the story was doubted, but further reports confirmed it. The Clallam Indians were the murderers.

The terrible happening emboldened other tribesmen to display contempt for the white men. Fort Langley again felt its lone position and increased its vigilance. At Fort Vancouver stern Dr. John McLoughlin, Chief Factor in charge of Hudson's Bay Company operations west of the Rockies, determined that the Indians must be taught a lesson, or there would be more murders. In June, when the fur brigades assembled at Fort Vancouver, he organized a punitive expedition. Sixty men were placed under command of Chief Trader A. R. McLeod, assisted by Clerks Thomas Dears, Frank Ermatinger and J. M. Yale, to proceed overland to Puget Sound where they were to be picked up by the schooner 'Cadboro'.

Securing canoes upon arrival at the Sound, McLeod's party made for the point of rendezvous with the 'Cadboro'. En route they came upon a party of Clallams; there was a fight and eight of the natives were killed. Then the expedition joined the schooner and headed for Port Townsend, but it had been vacated. They proceeded to New Dungeness, to which place the Port Townsend Indians had gone. Negotiations were started for the surrender of the murderers, but these failed. The schooner was warped broadside to the large village and a terrific bombardment was commenced. The big cedar community-houses were smashed and splintered by the hail of shot. Then a shore party was landed, and set fire to the debris and smaller huts, while forty canoes on the beach were smashed. Seventeen Indians had been killed. It was an awful lesson, but was thought necessary to prevent further murders and to make travel safe in the West.


Governor George Simpson—"the little Emperor" of the fur trade—had made a difficult descent of the Fraser River in the fall of 1828. He was greatly disappointed to find that it was impractical as a brigade route from New Caledonia. Consequently he became interested in the possibility of the northern coast offering a better way into the Interior, in the event of the Hudson's Bay Company "being excluded from the Columbia."

"Boston traders" and Russians from Alaska divided the traffic with the natives on this part of the Coast. The Company determined to drive the Americans away by erection of additional establishments north of Fort Langley, and by utilizing shipping between Fort Vancouver and these isolated posts. Captain Aemilius Simpson, a former naval lieutenant, was appointed as Marine Superintendent, to further this plan.

Simpson built a fort at the mouth of the Nass River in the summer of 1831. Hardly had it become habitable when he was stricken by illness and died. He was buried at the establishment, which was then christened "Fort Simpson" in his honour. Several years later it was decided to move the post, and a new location, a few miles to the south, was selected. Here the Indian trade of both the Nass and the Skeena Rivers could be served. It was a transfer that was not made without danger and difficulty, for the Nass Indians objected to it.

Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, who was present, left a vivid description of the scene. He said, in part, relative to Saturday, August 30, 1834:

"The Indians became drunken and from noon till sunset, when we embarked, all were under arms and in momentary expectation of having to fight our way aboard [the brig 'Dryad'] or being butchered on the spot. They attempted frequently to beat down the slight barricade raised on the site of the bastions, but were deterred on seeing us ready with firearms to send a volley among the intruders. About a dozen or twenty Indians with muskets were posted on a hill immediately behind, from whence they could fire into the Fort at any part.

"Outside the pickets they were numerous and armed with guns, boarding pikes and knives and endeavouring by their savage whoops and yells to intimidate us. Remained quiet in this state for some time, but owing to a temporary lull in the clamour outside, ventured to send a few articles to the boats.... One or two had passed down with wooden utensils unmolested, no Indians appearing in sight. Another man was proceeding with a barrel full of miscellaneous articles and unheeded, when at once several armed villains rushed out from amongst the bushes, and one, more inebriated and therefore more daring than the rest, seized the barrel and with drawn dagger drove the man from his charge ... I went out, but meeting the savage advancing with his knife aloft in a menacing manner, I stepped slowly to the gate and procured a cutlass from the doorkeeper. Thus armed I walked towards the Indian, who was surrounded by his friends persuading him to desist ... The barrel was rolled to the beach in the meantime without molestation."

At last the personnel of the fort were transferred to the brig without suffering any casualties, and the Indians rushed into the deserted post to see what remained for looting. "All night," said Tolmie, "constant hammering was kept up in the deserted fort and dawn revealed several gaps in the pickets, made by those who were so intent on procuring the iron spikes which attached the pickets to the bars."

With the coming of daylight, the 'Dryad' sailed, leaving the sorry skeleton of the first Fort Simpson, arriving later in the day at the new location which was to become of immense importance as the lone outpost of white civilization on the northern coast for many years.

Despite the difficulties of abandonment of the original establishment, the remains of Governor Simpson were lifted reverently and were removed to be re-interred at the new one.


While the Hudson's Bay Company's new establishments at Fort Langley, on the Fraser River, and Fort Simpson, on the Nass, were effective in checking American competition in the coastal fur-trade, these posts were separated by six hundred miles. There must be another trading centre situated between the others to command the traffic of numerous tribes, if the "Boston men" were to be driven from the North Pacific.

In consequence of this determination, in the spring of 1833, materials and supplies for a new post arrived at Millbank Sound. A site was selected on Campbell Island and work was at once commenced. All summer the men toiled at clearing ground and constructing defensive works, houses, and stores. Donald Manson, determined and experienced, who had served at Fort Langley, was in command. His chief assistant was an intelligent and courageous young clerk named Alexander Caulfield Anderson, who recorded some of the incidents of the first year of the establishment, named "Fort McLoughlin."

"Our operation progressed rapidly," he recounted, "and by the month of October, the area of the fort was well picketed in, bastions constructed at the corners and several substantial houses within."

Up until this time the Indians had been peaceable. There was no hint of trouble. Then a French Canadian, named Richard, disappeared. It was thought that he was held prisoner—actually, it was learned years later, he had been stoned to death by some native children. In an effort to recover the man Chief Tyest was held as a hostage. He appeared to be satisfied, and there was no appearance of excitement amongst the tribesmen. Then, one Sunday evening, some of the men—six in number—obtained permission to go outside the fort. Anderson followed them.

"I advanced to the edge of the bank," he said, "and was looking around, when suddenly, within a few yards of me, I saw, darting through the bushes, a host of armed Indians. I turned at once and gave the alarm, and retreating to the fort was speedily prepared to defend the entrance. After having seized my arms, and on my way back to the gate, I perceived our hostage highly excited, and evidently bent on endeavouring to make his escape. As I ran I called to the guards to tie him, which they did."

"The Indians were checked," Anderson stated. "One by one our men made their way towards the gate, and through the narrow wicket. And as they came in, repaired to the bastion and gallery and commenced to fire, Mr. Manson having meanwhile appeared on the gallery and directed their actions. Thus repelled, our assailants retreated speedily, and the gates were closed.

"On mustering our men, we found that one only had been wounded, by a severe axe blow on the shoulder, but one was missing and we supposed him dead. Of course, watch was kept during the whole night, all hands remaining on watch, and about nine o'clock, from amid the dense darkness, we heard a voice—the voice of our missing man—calling out to Mr. Manson; in return we asked, 'Who are you'? He responded with his name and said he was a prisoner with the Indians, tied in a canoe, and unless they were assured that their chief, our hostage, was safe, his life would be sacrificed. We summoned the chief to the bastion and made him speak to his children, deferring the interview until the following morning. The result of the whole was that, at that time, our man was restored to us, we surrendering the chief in exchange, but exacting two hostages of inferior standing—slaves probably. Our man was produced clad by the Indians in an entirely new suit of broadcloth and we clothed our hostage with a blanket and some other articles of clothing."

Just how many casualties were suffered by the Indians in the attack was never definitely known, but at least one native was killed and several were wounded.


Transportation methods on the seven seas were undergoing change. Steam was threatening sail. At first James Watt's tea-kettle experiments resulted in stationary engines being built, and then harnessed steam-power was applied to small vessels. By the mid-thirties of the nineteenth century, naval architects were envisioning the eventual abandonment of sails as commercial carriers. But there were those who were reluctant to accept such a theory, contending that the lack of fuelling bases bordering the remote seaways of the world would limit the use of steamers to short voyages from established points of supply.

On the Pacific Northwest Coast the Hudson's Bay Company had many problems connected with its trading operations to the north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca: the foremost one was the difficulty of maintaining regular contact with the newly established trading-posts on the Fraser River, Millbank Sound and near the Nass River, owing to the delays and dangers confronting sailing craft. Several vessels had been wrecked, and others were often delayed for days and weeks by stress of weather. Wise men in the Company service suggested that here was a chance to utilize a steamer to good advantage. The shores were well wooded and Indians could be induced to collect and cut wood for the use of a power-driven craft. Besides, a vessel that was not dependent upon the constantly changing winds could maintain an approximate schedule, and could penetrate into the deep sounds and inlets of the serried coastline in search of new sources of trade.

The result of the recommendations to try steam was that on May 2, 1835, a stout vessel was launched from the yards of Green, Wigram and Green, into the Thames. She was christened 'Beaver', and was specially designed for service on rocky coasts remote from repair yards. She was solidly ribbed with heavy timbers of English oak and green-heart, and copper-sheathed below the waterline. Teakwood was also generously used in her construction. Her power-plant, provided by Boulton & Watt (James Watt's old firm) rated seventy horsepower, and drove her, on her trials, at nine and a half knots. The 'Beaver' had an over-all length of 101 feet with a breadth across the paddle boxes of thirty-three feet. She had a hold depth of eleven and a half feet and was of 109 tons.

The 'Beaver' left England in August, 1835, and dropped anchor off Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia, in April. She was under command of Captain David Home, and made the passage under sail, fitted as a brig. Home retired and Captain W. H. McNeill of the Company's service, who was well acquainted with the Coast, replaced him. In June she left the Columbia to take up her more than half a century of useful work on the Coast now known as British Columbia. She was wrecked on the rocks of Prospect Point at the entrance to the new and greater Vancouver, in 1888.

Fort McLoughlin was a port of call, and there Dr. W. F. Tolmie, with other officers of the establishment, boarded her for a run across Queen Charlotte Sound to look for a seam of coal in the summer of 1836. An Indian visiting the fort the previous year had told the doctor that near his home, towards the northern end of Vancouver's Island, "black stone that burned" could be found in abundance. This was very important, not only as a potential steam-fuel for the 'Beaver', but for Imperial use. The navies of the world were already designing steam-driven warships. If these were to be used in such remote quarters of the world as the Pacific Ocean, the obtaining of coal was a vital necessity. Already coal was being carried in sailing vessels to build up stock-piles in foreign lands.

It was found that the Indian had told the truth; an outcropping of coal was found and samples were taken to be examined and tested in the boilers of the 'Beaver', and to be sent to Fort Vancouver and London. In England, the Admiralty was advised, but no public announcement was made of the discovery. The boundary line between the United States and British territory had not been settled.


Despite the fact that Russia had recognized the rights of British traders in the interior of the country behind what is now known as the "Panhandle of Alaska," an attempt of the Hudson's Bay Company to locate a trading post on the Stikine River was prevented by Russia, which had built a fort at the entrance of the stream. A ship of war, carrying the Czar's flag, also patrolled the locality, while Russians had also incited the Indians to kill any British traders who attempted to go up the Stikine.

Coincidently with an attempt of Peter Skene Ogden in the 'Dryad' to overcome the blockade in 1834, J. McLeod pushed westward from Fort Simpson, on the Mackenzie River, and discovered Dease Lake. He also found a river which he named the Pelly, but which proved to be the upper reaches of the Stikine. In 1836 a party was sent to locate a post on the lake, but, fearful of the "Russian Indians," the men were seized with panic and fled.

Robert Campbell, a youthful postmaster, volunteered to carry out the dangerous work. He was promoted to a clerkship and was given command of a party for that duty. It was 1838 before Campbell reached Dease Lake.

Leaving the major part of his force there to build a house, Campbell and three of his followers journeyed to the Stikine River. There, at a place called by him "Terror Bridge," because of a structure of Indian manufacture that spanned a deep chasm, he encountered a small party of Nahanny Indians. From them he learned that there was a great concourse of tribes some thirteen miles distant. At that point thousands of natives gathered each year to trade with Chief Shakes and the "Russian Indians" from the coast. This powerful chief was much favoured by the Russians, who supplied him with goods for these annual trading expeditions.

Campbell determined to visit the Indians, but was warned by his new friends that Shakes would kill him, having orders to murder any whites that might appear from the East. Despite this, however, the young clerk went to the place. There were thousands of Indians encamped beside the river. He was invited to Shakes's tent. Suddenly the tent was lifted from the ground by the Nahannies, calling out that if the white man was killed "plenty blood will be spilled."

Eventually Campbell got away from the place. The Nahannies were ruled by a remarkable woman, whom he described as being more like a white woman than any Indian he had ever seen. She it was who had saved his life; and she befriended him later, when starvation faced the party at Dease Lake, by bringing a small stock of food for the traders. Game seemed to desert the country, Campbell recorded. Hunters could find no animals, and the fish in the lakes and streams were difficult to take. Then too, encouraged by Shakes and the Russians, the Indians in roaming bands appeared from time to time to rob and alarm the little garrison. There was no palisade about the place, and in order to keep alive the party had to be split up in an effort to obtain more food. The cold was intense.

On one occasion, Campbell reported, a band of Indians approached across the frozen lake, shooting at the house. They declared that the white men, by their presence, "made the country stink" so that game had deserted it. "The truth of the matter," he said, "was that they had been taught by Shakes ... to regard us as enemies."

At last the winter was over, and the weak and emaciated men prepared to retrace their way. "As we were now ready to start and our snowshoes were of no further use to us, we removed all the netting off them, and that, along with our parchment windows, was boiled down to the consistency of glue: the savoury dish thus prepared," Campbell said, "formed the 'menu' of our last meal before leaving Dease Lake, on 8, May 1839."


Fort Vancouver, the main depot of the Hudson's Bay Company in the West, was inconveniently situated for maritime trade. Several vessels were lost on the dangerous bar at the mouth of the Columbia River, but of even greater concern was the fact that immigration from the United States was moving into Oregon and the settlers were agitating for the Republic to take over the country. It was apparent that joint occupancy of the vast territory west of the Rocky Mountains must soon be terminated by the establishment of a boundary line.

There was doubt in official circles in London if the line of the Columbia River could be held. It was determined, however, if at all possible, to hold the whole of Vancouver's Island, thus providing an open corridor, via the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the second great river of the West, the Fraser.

As early as 1836 the idea of settling Vancouver's Island was considered. In 1837 Captain W. H. McNeill, of the Hudson's Bay Company's steamer 'Beaver', inspected the southern tip of the Island and spent some time in the harbour of Camosack—also called Camosun—and found it to have many attractions. The locality was known to the Indians as "Ku-sing-a-las," meaning "the place of strong fibres." Much of the land composing a part of present-day Victoria's business section was covered with willow bushes. It was the inner bark of this willow tree that produced the tough fibres for the natives' nets.

Dr. John McLoughlin, who had superintended the affairs for the Company in the West from 1824, was opposed to moving the headquarters from Fort Vancouver, but Governor George Simpson favoured this. Chief Factor James Douglas, in 1842, was sent to make a more detailed inspection of the southern end of the Island for the purpose of selecting a site for a large fort. He was enthusiastic, and in writing to a friend told of his delight in finding such a pleasant land: "The place itself appears a perfect 'Eden', in the midst of the dreary wilderness of the Northwest Coast, and so different is its general aspect from the wooded, rugged regions around, that one might be pardoned for supposing it had dropped from the clouds into its present position."

In earlier plans for the construction of a new establishment, it was tentatively named "Fort Adelaide" in compliment to the consort of King William IV, but, when he was succeeded on the throne by his niece, before it was constructed the new headquarters was named "Fort Victoria" for the young sovereign. Located on the harbour of Camosack, or Camosun, it was erroneously referred to as "Fort Camosun," and by some as "Fort Albert"—but it was never officially anything but Fort Victoria.

It was on March 13, 1843, that the 'Beaver' arrived, bearing Chief Factor Douglas and a small crew of men to make a start at laying out the post. He landed next day. After a stay of a few days Douglas sailed north, to dismantle Forts Taku and McLoughlin and remove men and materials to the site of Fort Victoria.

Indians brought pickets from the woods, and these were erected to enclose a space of 350 by 300 feet. The establishment was designed to include eight commodious buildings, while the defences consisted of the palisades, eighteen feet in height, and strong bastions at the southwest and northeast corners. These mounted several cannon, all nine pounders.

Having seen the work well under way, Mr. Douglas placed Chief Trader Charles Ross in charge, with Roderick Finlayson, a sturdy and capable young man, as his second in command. By the middle of September, Ross reported, the place was enclosed and several of the buildings were finished.

By Christmas the major part of the fort was completed, and Fort Victoria celebrated its first Yuletide. The occasion was graced by the presence of the Company's vessels 'Beaver' and 'Cadboro', and Captain Scarborough of the 'Cadboro' gave a display of fireworks.


It was a bitterly cold day in early February, 1841. There was a cutting wind that added to the bitterness of the low temperature. An Indian shivered as he huddled close to the pickets of Fort Kamloops. Chief Factor Samuel Black noticed him and motioned him to enter the big hall of the establishment where a bright fire crackled and blazed on the hearth. Samuel Black had been in charge of the post at the forks of the Thompson Rivers for several years. He was rounding out a career as a fur trader and explorer. He had begun with the North West Company, but when the great trading organizations merged he became outstandingly loyal to the Hudson's Bay Company. He was said to have challenged David Douglas, the distinguished botanist who gave his name to the fir-tree, to a duel when that scientist, on a visit to Kamloops, made a slighting remark about the Company.

The kindly big man had recognized, in the shivering native, the youthful nephew of his friend Chief Tranquille, who had recently died. Black liked the old chief, and it was with regret that he recollected that they had disagreed not long before, but he remembered with gladness that Tranquille had sent him a message of affection with almost his last breath.

He did not suspect, of course, that Tranquille's widow attributed the passing of the chief to Black's agency. Nor was he aware that she had been inciting the young man, who was now warming himself beside the fort's hearth, to exact vengeance for the evil imaginings of her distorted mind.

Black had passed the Indian, crouched in the shadow of the fireplace, and had stopped to speak a word or two to him. Now, towards evening, he crossed the big room to enter his own apartment. He was just about to turn the door handle, when the Indian rose in the darkening shadow, levelled the musket that he had kept hidden beneath his blanket, and fired. Samuel Black pitched forward to die at the feet of his wife and family.

The assassin rushed from the building and out of the fort gate before he could be stopped. He disappeared into the gathering night.

Laprade, a servant, sent off word to John Tod, officer at Fort Alexandria, 300 miles distant, and to Fort Okanagan, also a long way removed; then Laprade and his men withdrew, leaving Lolo St. Paul, an Indian adherent of the Hudson's Bay Company, to keep watch.

John Tod found Lolo guarding the place and the unburied remains of the Chief Factor when he reached Fort Kamloops.

Some little time later Tod took charge of Kamloops. He was determined to bring the murderer to an accounting. Parties were sent out to track and arrest him. They kept constantly upon the trail of the wanted man, who fled from place to place. At last he was captured. In crossing the Thompson on his way to the fort, the fugitive upset the canoe. He was fired upon and drowned. The Indians agreed that he deserved to lose his life because of his treacherous deed.

Tod decided to reconstruct Fort Kamloops, and chose as a site a location across the North Thompson, near its junction with the main stream. Here corrals for stock and gardens were arranged. The centre was already of importance on the fur trail from New Caledonia, and was to become even more so. Here hundreds of horses were kept for use by the brigades laden with trade goods on their way in to the northern establishments and on their return with the argosies of the fur-fields.


Fort Victoria could not supplant Fort Vancouver as headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company's organization on the Pacific Slope if a feasible fur-brigade trail could not be located leading into the Interior. This fact became more distressingly apparent as negotiations between Great Britain and the United States indicated that the boundary line would, in all probability, follow the 49th parallel.

Alexander C. Anderson, the enterprising young clerk who had aided in the establishment of Fort McLoughlin, and who was now in charge of Fort Alexandria, early in 1845 volunteered to seek such a route. His offer was accepted, and the following spring he started explorations for a means of travel between Forts Kamloops and Langley.

Leaving Fort Kamloops on May 15, with a party of five men, Anderson went by way of Kamloops Lake, Thompson and Bonaparte Rivers to Hat Creek, by way of Pavilion Creek to the Indian village of Pavilion, and then via the Fraser to Cayoosh Creek, and by Seton Creek to the big lake, now called by that name. Portaging via the Birkenhead and traversing another lake, now named Anderson in his honour, he eventually reached Harrison Lake by Lillooet River. From Harrison he passed into the Fraser and on to Fort Langley, which he reached on May 24. He estimated the distance as 229.5 miles.

Anderson and his party rested only four days at Fort Langley, during which time he slept in his tent rather than within doors. On May 28 he started on his return journey. This time he planned to find the trail by which Okanogon Indians were reputed to come to the Fraser.

He went up the Fraser, and by way of the Coquihalla to Nicolum River, by that stream to Sumallo Creek, then he went by the Skagit and Snass Rivers to the East Fork of the Snass, which was followed to the divide; then over to the Tulameen and to Otter Creek. Here he encountered "Blackeye," a friendly Indian, who showed him a comparatively easy way to Kamloops via Nicola Lake. He reached the fort on June 9.

Anderson's next effort was to find a way, if possible, by the banks of the Fraser. No practical route offered from the Fraser Forks; so he made Nicola Lake a starting-point, following the Nicola and Colwater Rivers and branches of Spius and Uztlius Creeks to a branch of the Anderson River, reaching the Fraser at the Indian village of Kequeloose. It was a trying trip, but even greater ordeals faced the party in the swirling waters of the gorges of the Fraser.

Chief Factor James Douglas came to take a look at this route. He said that the waters were too dangerous for boats to essay transportation from Spuzzum down, and personally laid out a route from the site of Yale, a post that was ordered to be constructed. It was essential that a new road be opened, for Indian warfare had broken out between the Cayuse and the Americans.

An effort was made to utilize this route, but one man committed suicide rather than face a return journey over the trail, while some twenty-seven horses with their packs were lost. In the meantime Henry N. Peers was following the route pioneered by Anderson by way of the Coquihalla. He laid out a passable road by way of the Coquihalla to Peers Creek, up that stream and over Manson Mountain to Sowaqua Creek, over the height of land to Podunk Creek, passing Campement de Chevreiul, and continuing to the Tulameen River, and on to follow Black-eye's route.

By 1850 this new brigade trail was in full operation, and for the next dozen years served to supply the Company's posts. It was later superseded by the Cariboo Road.

Anderson Lake and Anderson River recall the contribution that A. C. Anderson made to highway exploring in this country, while Seton Lake was later named for his cousin, Colonel Seton, who was in command of the soldiers on the troopship 'Birkenhead', which was lost off the African coast, the troops giving a wonderful display of heroism and self-sacrifice.

James Bay, Victoria; teams of oxen
James Bay, Victoria; teams of oxen

This photograph of about 1864, shows James Bay, Victoria, from the Legislative Buildings. The bay beyond the bridge was later filled in as the site for the Empress Hotel

During the middle of the nineteenth century, great teams of oxen hauled logs cut on the site of what is now the city of Vancouver to the booming grounds

Fort Defiance, Clayoquot Sound, was built by Captain Robert Gray of the 'Columbia' in 1791.  George Davidson, an artist on the ship, drew this sketch
Fort Defiance, Clayoquot Sound, was built by Captain Robert Gray of the 'Columbia' in 1791.
George Davidson, an artist on the ship, drew this sketch (left half of photograph)

Fort Defiance, Clayoquot Sound, was built by Captain Robert Gray of the 'Columbia' in 1791.  George Davidson, an artist on the ship, drew this sketch
Fort Defiance, Clayoquot Sound, was built by Captain Robert Gray of the 'Columbia' in 1791.
George Davidson, an artist on the ship, drew this sketch (right half of photograph)

Camels, Coal-Tyee
Camels, Coal-Tyee

In 1862, camels were used as freight carriers on the Cariboo Road. However, they frightened the horses, and this novel form of transportation was discarded

The Coal-Tyee, the Indian who, in 1849 told a Hudson's Bay blacksmith of the "blackstone" at Nanaimo


During the whole period of Joint-Occupancy, following the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, United States politicians were more or less agitated about the Sovereignty of the Republic over what was generally and indefinitely known as the "Oregon Country." On the other hand Great Britain did not make any specific claims.

Spain had recognized rights of the British Crown over areas purchased from the natives by traders by a convention implemented at Nootka in 1795. But this instrument did not define the medes and bounds of such lands. Instead British and Spanish Commissioners met at Nootka on March 28, 1795, and formally restored the building sites of British subjects, taken from them in 1789, and then proclaimed that His Britannic Majesty and His Most Catholic Majesty of Spain "have farther agreed that it shall be free for the Subjects of both Nations to frequent occasionally the aforesaid Port and to construct there temporary Buildings for their Accommodation ...: But that Neither the One nor the Other of the Two Parties shall make any permanent Establishment in the said Port, or claim there any Right of Sovereignty or territorial Dominion to the Exclusion of the other."

The foregoing meant that Vancouver's Island had been equally divided, as to sovereign interests between Spain and Great Britain.

In 1819, the United States purchased all Spanish rights, titles, claims and pretensions north of latitude 42°. By this purchase she shared equally with Great Britain in the possession of Vancouver's Island.

Conclusion of the Ashburton-Webster treaty in 1842, defining the boundaries of Eastern Canada and west to the Rocky Mountains, was followed by demands that a settlement be effected west of the Rockies to the sea. Little progress was made during the Tyler administration, but the presidential election of 1844 saw the matter become a major issue, with James K. Polk being carried to office on a cry of "54-40, or Fight." This meant a definite claim to all the territory north to the southern boundary of the Russian Alaskan possessions.

Protracted negotiations, at times somewhat acrimonious, were conducted, with James Buchanan, the Secretary of State, acting for the Republic, and Sir Richard Pakenham being designated as plenipotentiary for Great Britain.

The British case was largely predicated upon the first Nootkan Convention of 1790, which was never carried into effect. Nothing was said about the replacing convention that Thomas Pearce and General Alava had proclaimed at Nootka five years later. The United States evidently did not know of the existence of this treaty and was ignorant that the Republic had inherited the Spanish rights, titles and interest in Vancouver's Island.

Washington Irving, author of "Rip Van Winkle," had been told to search the Spanish archives for matters of interest pertaining to the question of sovereignty. He was the American Minister at Madrid, but the author of the classic on sleep did not find the document.

Eventually Lord Aberdeen, British Foreign Minister, wrote a treaty which Pakenham was authorized to submit. At the same time it was made known to the United States that this offer was more or less in the nature of an ultimatum. Aberdeen, according to a report made by Louis McLane, U.S. Minister in London, said he would "feel it his duty to withdraw the opposition he had hitherto uniformly made to the adoption of measures, founded upon the contingency of war with United States, if the final proposal was rejected."

President Polk laid the draft treaty before the Senate, and that body immediately authorized its acceptance. The possibility of war was averted, and the vexed question of sovereignty was settled. The boundary, offered and accepted, was a continuation of the 49th parallel to the coast and then by way of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the open ocean.

Nineteen years later the United States discovered that Washington Irving had failed to find the document that might have meant much to his country during the period of negotiations.


Tzouhalem was a Cowichan chief of evil reputation and great daring. He heard of the whites having built a fort near Ku-sing-a-las, and decided to visit the place and inspect it. He was interested in fortifications, for he had his own stronghold perched on a rock at Cowichan Bay.

Tsil-al-thach, whom the traders had named "King Freezy," was chief of the Songhees who had built a new village a few yards north of Fort Victoria, where a gully dipped to the sea (where Johnson Street abuts upon the Esquimalt and Nanaimo terminal). He had no quarrel with his white neighbours and had been sorry when, a few weeks before, on June 27, 1844, Charles Ross, chief trader in command of the post, had suddenly died. He also liked Roderick Finlayson, the twenty-six-year-old clerk who succeeded Ross, and whom he called "the young fair-haired chief."

Tsil-al-thach was away for a day or so when Tzouhalem and his braves arrived. This did not disappoint the Cowichan, who made himself at home and issued orders to suit his own purposes. He went to look at the fort at close range and was not greatly impressed. He was interested, however, by the sight of horned cattle and horses, and felt that these large animals would make good food. He ordered several to be killed.

Finlayson left a written account of what followed: "I then suspended trade or any dealings with them until this matter had been settled; where upon they sent word to some of the neighbouring tribes to come to their assistance as they intended to attack the fort. I kept all hands at their arms and set watches night and day to prevent surprise."

Tsil-al-thach returned to find tribesmen from many villages converging on his camp for the purpose of following Tzouhalem in his attack on Fort Victoria.

"They fired upon the fort, riddling the stockades and the roofs of the houses with their musket balls," Finlayson explained. "It was with the greatest difficulty that I could prevail upon our men not to return the fire but to wait my orders.

"After close firing for half an hour I spoke to the principal chief, informing him that I was fully prepared to carry on the battle, but did not like to kill any of them without explaining to them that they were wrong and giving them another chance to make restitution. A parley ensued among them, during which I sent our Indian interpreter out to speak to them, telling him to make it appear that he escaped without orders and to point out to them the lodge that I was determined to fire on, and for the inmates to clear out. This they did.

"Seeing that there was no sign of them coming to terms, I pointed one of nine-pounder carronades, loaded with grapeshot, at the lodge, which was a large one built of cedar boards, and fired! The effect was that it was completely demolished, the splinters of the cedar boards flying in fragments in the air. After this there was an immense howling among them, from which I supposed that a number were killed, but my plan, I was happy to find, had the desired effect. I was aware that those Indians had never seen the effect of grapeshot fired from a cannon. No person was killed. They had all left the building."

Following this demonstration of destruction, Tsil-al-thach sued for peace. Terms were arranged, which required payment in furs for the slaughtered beasts and indemnity for the attack on the fort.

Tzouhalem was not satisfied. He was not certain that some trickery had not been practised; so Finlayson was asked to give another exhibition of the power of the big guns. He agreed, and an old canoe was set adrift in the harbour as a target. This time the gun was loaded with ball. The shot hit the frail cedar dug-out, blasting it out of the water in an explosion of splinters. This was sufficient proof for even the suspicious Tzouhalem, who departed with his warriors, leaving Tsil-al-thach to try to regain the confidence and respect of the fair-haired young chief of Fort Victoria.


On September 7, 1846, Sir John Felly, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in London, wrote Colonial Secretary Earl Grey, and started discussions that resulted in the establishment of the Crown Colony of Vancouver's Island.

Sir John reminded His Lordship that the Company held an exclusive (British) trading licence in the territory recently held jointly by Great Britain and the United States. This licence would not expire until 1859. Now that the boundary line had been settled, however, the Company was anxious to be secured in the lands it had been using for forts and farms. "I now address your Lordship," he said, "with the view of ascertaining the intention of Her Majesty's Government as to the acquisition of lands for the formation of settlements, to the north of latitude 49°."

In subsequent talks between Sir John and Earl Grey it became evident that the Imperial Government was very interested in hastening the establishment of coal-mines on Vancouver's Island, where Dr. W. F. Tolmie had located seams in 1836. Operation of collieries would require the setting up of some form of governmental control, particularly for foreign trade.

On February 28, 1848, the Colonial Office crystallized the situation by suggesting that the Company submit a scheme of government for the Island, which, while limited in scope, would "embrace a plan for the colonization and government of Vancouver's Island." The letter further pointed out: "Assuming that in any negotiation that may take place on the subject, the value of coal at Vancouver's Island will necessarily form a material consideration on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company."

The Colonial Office had in mind the collection of royalty on the coal mined, but Sir John Pelly was opposed to this. He would have no part in any such proposal to exact contributions from the new colony for the Home Treasury. The Company, said Sir John, was willing to give every assistance possible in setting up a colony, adding, "I have only to observe that the Company expect no pecuniary advantage from colonizing the territory in question." Continuing, after pointing out that the Company was not seeking profit, he emphasized: "All monies received from land or minerals would be applied to purposes connected with the improvement of the country, and, therefore, if the grant is to be clogged with any payment to the Mother country, the company would be under the necessity of declining it."

This bold step effectively blocked the start of a system that might have been difficult to discard in later years.

The outcome of the discussions was the adoption of an experiment in colonial government. Although the plan was bitterly opposed in Parliament, a colonial government for Vancouver's Island was authorized. The Crown was to be represented by a Governor and Council, but the actual administrative work of the Island was placed in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company, which provided finances, carried out the different public services, and provided protection, on a cost-plus basis, subject to the right of the Crown to repossess all functions at a later date.

The Company was asked to recommend an individual for Governor and suggested Chief Factor James Douglas. Approval was at first expressed but later it was thought that appointment of a man so closely connected with the Company on the Pacific Coast might cause political criticism, and another nominee was requested. This time, as evidenced by a minute of the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company, June 13, 1849:

"Resolved that Richard Blanshard, Esq., be recommended to Earl Grey, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, to be appointed Govr. of Vancouver's Island."

So to Richard Blanshard went the distinction of being the first Chief Executive of a British colony on the Pacific Coast. But he accepted the office without any stipulated pay, or allowances.


Under terms of the agreement by which the management of the Colony of Vancouver's Island was vested in the Hudson's Bay Company, that concern was to encourage settlement. It was also to operate coal-mines.

Settlement became difficult, one reason being that the lands were to be sold to raise revenue for the Colony. An upset price of one pound sterling per acre was set, while across the Strait of Juan de Fuca American settlers could obtain public lands without payment. It was also stipulated that purchasers of lands must be prepared to bring one farm labourer to the Colony for each twenty acres acquired.

The first settler to arrive was Captain W. Colquhoun Grant, late of the Scots' Greys. He was a man of delightful personality, but entirely impractical. He brought out eight labourers on board the brig 'Harpooner', which landed in the early summer of 1849. Grant, descendant of a long line of Highland chieftains, was a most patriotic Scot, and had dreams of establishing a Gaelic-speaking community in the new colony. To that end he brought out a Highland dominie, who sickened and died on the voyage. But the Captain left as evidence of his Celtic ambitions the golden gorse and broom that adorn the sides of Beacon Hill and other slopes on southern Vancouver Island, for he is credited with bringing the seed and throwing it broadcast, so that the terrain about his new home should blossom like that of his native land.

Among the supplies that were unloaded from the 'Harpooner' that June for the Captain were carts and carriages with driving harness. There were no roads in the Colony. He also brought sets of cricket equipment, which later he donated to the first boarding-school, and for which the gallant Scot has become known as the father of that English sport in British Columbia.

Captain Grant could not find a desirable site for his settlement closer to Victoria than Sooke. This offered him a suitable location not only for developing a farm, but also for a sawmill. He had brought machinery for a water powered mill with him. He did not get this into operation, and it soon became evident that the Captain could not make a success of farming.

At the outset the Indians were bothersome, but when it came to warfare the soldier was in his element. He had a small cannon mounted near his house. On one occasion, it is recounted, the natives approached his home threateningly. Grant mounted his horse and flourishing his big army sword rode up to them and asked if they wished to fight. They were not sure. "That will be excellent," he exclaimed gleefully. "I have not had a fight for some time, and of course I will kill you all, for I will make the big gun go 'Boom'!" Turning, he galloped towards the little redoubt where the tiny garrison had grouped about the cannon. The Indians went in the other direction. There was no fight.

Chief Factor James Douglas tried to help Grant, and engaged him as a surveyor to map the coastline immediately about the southern end of the Island, and to lay out lands. Although he started the work with great enthusiasm, the Captain did not complete a single survey, Douglas reluctantly reported to London.

He went off to earn money to carry out his original intentions and rented his farm to one of his men. Later it was acquired by the Muir family which had also come on the 'Harpooner' to work in the coal-mines. The Captain went to the gold-diggings of California, where he had some interesting experiences, including organizing a defence force for the miners.

He suddenly determined to go back to England, and on his return there he enlisted for service in the Crimean War, and for a time he was in command of a Turkish cavalry unit. He went to India when the Mutiny broke out, and was about to go to Vancouver's Island when he sickened and died. But as long as the bloom of the gorse and broom gilds the forelands of the Island each spring, he will not be forgotten.


May 23, 1849, was wet, and the little party travelling through the dripping woods over the Cowlitz Portage towards Fort Nisqually near the head of Puget Sound was chilled and miserable. All morning the five rough carts, heavily laden with humanity and goods, had groaned and creaked forward. Now, in early afternoon, the foremost rider of the caravan, a veritable giant of a man, followed by three girls on horseback, spurred ahead to be welcomed by Dr. William Tolmie, the officer in charge of Nisqually.

But let that big man, Chief Factor James Douglas, tell of the trip, largely through the wilds, from Fort Vancouver. Here is the way he related it to a friend shortly after, writing from Fort Victoria:

"I removed my household-goods and penates to Fort Victoria in May last. Travelling by the Cowlitz Portage, my staff was composed of one Sandwich Islander and an invalid sailor who, instead of helping me, required to be waited on; and with that immense and respectable train I had to guard our collected treasures of the previous Winter and Spring, say 636 lbs. of Gold Dust and twenty pack Otters, worth all together about 30,000 pounds, a noble prize for a gang of thieves."

The gold-dust was mostly collected at Fort Vancouver by the Hudson's Bay Company for supplies to the newly started gold-stampede to California. Fort Nisqually meant safety, for the worst part of transporting such treasure was on the overland journey; the balance of the trip was by boat to Vancouver Island. This transfer was of great importance, for it meant that the headquarters of the Company of the Pacific Slope was being moved to the establishment prepared in advance for just such a contingency if the boundary line were shifted from the Columbia River.

Fort Victoria had been recently enlarged. It was now a busy place as Californian trade was also coming there. Roderick Finlayson, the fair-haired Scot who was in command of the place, has left a record of his surprise when the goldminers came to purchase supplies. He was suspicious when a low, black, untidy-looking schooner hove to off the fort. He thought that the bearded men who manned it might be pirates, and collected his men to repel an attack.

The visitors, however, informed him of the gold-strike and of their need for provisions and other supplies, which they offered to buy for gold. Finlayson had never seen raw gold and he was still suspicious, but he had read that gold was malleable; so he took a nugget that was offered and had the blacksmith test it by pounding it on his anvil. Then he supplied the miners with all they could pay for at the rate of ten dollars an ounce.

Finlayson was a very careful man. He had manufactured ploughs and harrows from wood, had constructed buildings without using iron—in fact it has been said that no iron was used in erecting Fort Victoria, timber being dowelled together with pegs—and milled flour with a handmill. He had enlarged clearings and planted more crops. Sir John H. Pelly, the Governor of the Company, in a letter to the Colonial Office in August, 1848, had boasted of the ability and industry of Finlayson. He pointed out that the latest harvest at Victoria had yielded 800 bushels of wheat, 400 bushels pease, 300 bushels of oats and 2,100 bushels of potatoes.

There was further important industrial progress. It was the establishment of a sawmill. It was located on a creek, since known as "Millstream," that flows into the head of Esquimalt Harbour. Powered by the flow of the stream, it went into production in the fall of 1848, the first lumber cut being used to make a threshing-floor at North Dairy Farm. In April, 1849, a shipment of 8,238 feet was made to Fort Langley. It was in October, 1849, that the first cargo of export lumber left these shores. It was a cargo of 42,270 feet, consigned to San Francisco, aboard the American brig 'Coloney'.


Hudson's Bay Company officers serving west of the Rockies had long been interested in establishing schools to which their children could be sent. Teachers had been employed at Fort Vancouver, and now that the boundary line was established, the Governor and Committee in London took steps to assist in providing a boarding-school at Fort Victoria.

Robert J. Staines, a capable teacher, was employed. The company informed him that if he were ordained he could have an additional stipend by acting as chaplain at the fort. He consequently took Holy Orders. Mrs. Staines was a highly educated and resourceful woman.

It was in May, 1849, that the Staineses arrived. They disliked the fort at first sight. It was contrary to expectations. Staines was not averse to pomp and ceremony, and this was lacking, as were the comforts of a more cultured society. Staines, it is said, brought a liveried manservant from England. En route, the vessel on which they travelled put in at Honolulu, where the King of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) invited them to his palace. As they approached, the King spied them, and rushing to meet them embraced the footman, thinking that the man in the gaudy dress must be the master.

Mr. Staines started his new school in one of the two large fort buildings that flanked the main gateway. The site is on the corner of Fort and Government Streets of today, and is occupied by the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Church services were held in the mess-hall on the opposite side of the gateway, where the offices of the C.P.R. are now located. This site was consecrated by special commission from the Bishop of London.

Mr. Staines was a man of uncertain temper. He did not hide his disappointment at the crudeness of the fur-trade fort. He seemed to blame Douglas, as representative of the Company, for all his ills. He and the big Chief Factor later quarrelled bitterly, when Staines published the banns of a man and an immigrant woman, whom Douglas believed to be married to another man.

In addition to operating the boarding-school and attending to his clerical duties, Staines went in for farming. He purchased acreage near Mount Tolmie, where he specialized in raising pigs. He also cultivated a garden just outside of the fort pickets, near the corner of present-day Government and Broughton Streets. In this work he had the assistance of the boy pupils of the school, who did most of the weeding. Here he raised succulent vegetables, and with them he gave salad suppers, such as many of his guests had not tasted for years. To these he invited those with grievances against the Company, and as a result he became a leader in "a political party," which crystallized opposition to the rule of the Company.

One of the first pupils at the Staines establishment, the late James R. Anderson, in after life recalled his sojourn at the school. "And what beds!" he exclaimed in his memoirs. "The hard boards, an Indian mat, a Hudson's Bay blanket and over ourselves another blanket. We were hardy young beggars and did not mind it. The garret we occupied was not lined, simply the bare logs; the interstices where the roof joined the wall, was a veritable runway for numerous rats which infested the building and through which the fresh air had unimpeded access even in the coldest weather." Despite many unpleasant memories of Staines's disciplinary rule, Mr. Anderson gave praise to the worth of both the reverend gentleman and Mrs. Staines as capable teachers.

Poor Staines came to an untimely end. He undertook to carry a memorial containing complaints of the settlers to the foot of the Throne. He was on his way to board the boat sailing from the fort when his pigs broke bounds, and he stopped to secure them. He missed the boat, hastened to Sooke, from where an American schooner was sailing to San Francisco, and unfortunately boarded it. The vessel went down off Cape Flattery, and Mr. Staines and all others on board were lost.


It was a chill, grey day, with a foot of snow covering the ground and roof-tops of Fort Victoria. It was March 11, 1850. Outside of the water-gate of the post a crowd had collected, while officers, sailors and marines from H.M.S. 'Driver', Captain Charles Johnson, R.N., anchored in James Bay, stood stiffly at attention. In front of the honour guard, facing a motley gathering of fur traders, settlers and Indians—and more particularly the giant form of Chief Factor James Douglas—a thin, tall, young man read from a parchment that bore the enormous waxen seal of Her Majesty the Queen.

The formally attired young stranger was Richard Blanshard, named to be Governor of Vancouver's Island in place of Douglas who had first been suggested for the office. He was reading the commission inaugurating the government of the Colony, and his own authority to preside over it.

Blanshard had but little understanding of the situation in which he would find himself. He had not even asked if he would receive a salary—and found that there was none for him; nor was he given an expense account—he had been appointed to govern a British colony at his own expense! Something had been mentioned before he left England about a 1,000-acre estate, but he did not understand this properly. He was to find that this tract of land, which he doubtless envisioned as being subdivided into comfortable little farms all yielding him revenues, was not for him personally, and if he wanted it cleared he would have to pay for that as well.

There were no quarters for him, and he had to remain on board H.M.S. 'Driver' while she remained in these waters. In the meantime a small house was being built for him. Nothing seemed to be as he had pictured, and he even found Victoria was hard pressed for food. Such was the necessity that Captain Johnson was induced to take H.M.S. 'Driver' to Fort Nisqually for a load of cattle and sheep. Here R. Blanshard met Dr. W. F. Tolmie, who set down in the post journal:

"He is a tall, thin person, with a pale intellectual countenance—is a great smoker, a great sportsman, a protectionist in politics and a latitudinarian in religious matters. His manner is quiet, and rather abstracted and tho' free from hauteur, or pomposity, he does not converse much."

Blanshard was coldly polite in his dealings with Douglas, who in turn was correctly formal to the lonely young governor. This attitude of aloofness was not improved when Blanshard summonsed the Chief Factor for having usurped his authority by signing the register of a boat—something that Douglas had been doing for years. But, despite his wounded dignity, there was nothing the Governor could do. Douglas had all the power: Blanshard had the honour of office.

Disliking Douglas and believing that he had been tricked by the Hudson's Bay Company, Blanshard gave a ready ear to all those who had complaints to voice against either, perhaps if his health had been better his views would not have been so discoloured. He even went the length of reporting malicious and unfounded rumours to London. Possibly the realization that he had been unfair was one of the reasons why, on November 18, 1850, he penned his resignation. It was nine months before he received word from London of its acceptance.

Before leaving the Colony, where he had endured great misery, Richard Blanshard, under authority of his commission, set up a Legislative Council, of three, to carry on government until the appointment of a new governor. The council was composed of Douglas, as senior member, and John Tod, a retired fur-trader, and James Cooper, mariner and settler. Douglas was later appointed to succeed Blanshard.

Although there was but little scope for officialdom, and Blanshard's incumbency had been an unhappy one, it was of vast importance, for it was the first step in Government and public administration taken in this western half of Canada.


Fort Rupert was built facing a snug harbour close to the coal outcrop Dr. W. M. Tolmie had located from the information given by Indians. It was to serve a dual purpose: as a fur-trading post for Queen Charlotte Sound and vicinity, and as a means of protection for the mines that were to be established.

In order to exploit the coal measures the Hudson's Bay Company enlisted a small group of expert miners. They were old John Muir and his husky and capable sons, Andrew, Robert, John Jr., and a boy Michael; his nephew, Archie; and John McGregor and John Smith. Proud, sensitive men were these Scots, with very definite ideas about their rights, and with the courage and determination to maintain them. They landed at Victoria on June 1, 1849, aboard the brig 'Harpooner'.

Andrew Muir, appreciating the value of a written record in the event of "a case at law," kept a careful diary. From the neatly penned pages of this old book, now in the B.C. Archives, some idea of the troubled attempt to mine coal at Fort Rupert may be gained.

The party was detained at Fort Victoria until the end of August, when they left on board the brig 'Mary Dare'. It was a long, tedious voyage that lasted until September 24.

It was not until October 26 that work was commenced at sinking a pit at a spot where it was expected to find a good seam of coal. Andrew Muir regarded this as the work of labourers. Skilled miners should be engaged only in mining operations after a bed of coal had been located.

"Now we are in Vancouver," he complained, "and we are put to the sinking of a pit to look for coal, a thing we never agreed to, and to do all manner of work, and I consider the Company has broken our agreement, as we were only to work as labourers in the event of the Coal not succeeding." Officials at the fort, however, felt that the miners would like to be freed from their contract and go off to the California gold-rush.

Every little inconvenience now became an unbearable irritation. Andrew noted that the Company would not build palisades about the mine, that the men were not given the armed protection that they desired when working below the surface, and which the skulking presence of natives from time to time seemed to justify. He and his companions had no illusions as to the peaceable inclinations of the armed warriors. He told of having seen Indian braves go out and "in five minutes return with two of their neighbours' heads in their hands." He reasoned that if the Indians would do this to their own kind they would not hesitate to decapitate whites.

The annoyances from the Indians, the lack of supplies of clay, and the fancied indignities of having to do the tasks that they regarded as being beneath them resulted in the miners going on strike and refusing to continue sinking the shaft. The fort officials told them that they would have to work inside the fort at sinking a well and digging drains. This was met by Andrew Muir and McGregor demanding that such orders should be put in writing and should be accompanied by an acknowledgement that if they were to do labouring work they would not be called upon to do further mining. According to Andy Muir, they were then threatened by George Blinkinsop, clerk in charge during the absence of Captain W. McNeill, commander of the establishment, who flourished a sword and pistol. The clerk, said Muir who was always looking for justification for litigious action, blamed him and McGregor for agitating a sit-down strike. Andrew thought the accusation might warrant a suit for defamation of character.

On May 8, 1850, Andrew Muir and John McGregor were jailed by order of Captain McNeill. "The last word he said to us two going out was we would remain in irons and on bread and water for two years," said Andrew, adding that McNeill had declared that the others were to finish digging the well and then share a similar fate. The irons were removed after six days, and later they were allowed to return to their homes.

A barque named 'England' was loading coal for California. The male Muirs, except old John and Michael, boarded it secretly and went off to the gold-fields. They did not like the life there, and soon returned to Fort Victoria, and demanded payment of their wages for all the time they had been away.

In the meantime more miners were engaged in Great Britain for Fort Rupert mines.


The lure of California gold-fields caused three sailors to desert from the ship 'Norman Morison' upon arrival at Fort Victoria, early in 1850. They secreted themselves in the barque 'England', en route to Fort Rupert. Soon after the arrival of the England at the coal-port, the Hudson's Bay steamer 'Beaver' appeared. The deserters feared she had come in search of them. They fled ashore and hid in the woods.

When the steamer continued her voyage to the north, Dr. J. S. Helmcken, fort surgeon and Justice of the Peace, sent word to the men to return to the barque; it was unsafe for them to stay in the forest. The suspicious men thought this good advice was but a trap to catch them. They refused.

Three Nahwitti braves and a boy, paddling near Shushartie, saw the three whites on shore, and in a friendly spirit paddled towards them to warn them that the fierce Haidas were lurking in the vicinity. Not understanding the purpose of the natives, one of the sailors menaced them with an axe, while another threw a stone at the oncoming canoe, These actions incensed the warriors, who pursued the men into the woods and killed them.

When word of this reached the fort, the coal-miners refused to join in the defence of the place, if attacked. They demanded that it be abandoned, and then withdrew in a body to Shushartie, from where they were taken aboard the 'England' en route for California. This weakening of the garrison emboldened the natives, who became impudent, and were about to attack, when the Hudson's Bay Company's brig, 'Mary Dare', providentially arrived with reinforcements. Several days later the H.M.S. 'Daedalus', Captain Wellesley, carrying Governor Richard Blanshard dropped anchor.

Dr. Helmcken, accompanied by a brave Canadien, Basil Battineau, and an interpreter, went by canoe to the home of the Nahwitti tribe and demanded the surrender of the three wanted men. It was a daring thing to do, and they were threatened, but stayed all night. Old Chief Nancy admitted the guilt of his men, and offered reparation in the ancient manner of the Coast. This was refused.

Captain Wellesley decided to take action. He ordered Lieutenant Burton to take boats to attack the village. The party arrived near the Nahwitti headquarters after dark—and lighted fires! The result was that when the flotilla dashed for the beach at the village at daybreak, the men found the place deserted. Burton set fire to the big cedar-houses and broke the canoes drawn up on the shingle.

Wellesley could waste no more time; he was getting short of supplies; so he dropped Blanshard at Fort Rupert and sailed around the north end of Vancouver's Island, for the south. In doing so he stopped to question a canoe filled with Bella Bella natives. A clash ensued, and an officer and two sailors were wounded. The natives escaped.

It was July of 1851 before another warship, H.M.S. 'Daphnae', arrived to continue the endeavour to bring the murderers to justice. Captain Fanshawe ordered a lieutenant to lead a boat expedition against the new and strongly fortified home of the Nahwitti tribe on an island in Bull Harbour.

Chief Factor James Douglas, in reporting to the Company office in London, remarked, "They [the Nahwitti] have been rather severely handled by a boat party of sixty men and officers from the 'Daphnae'." He said that the surprise had been complete and had been carried by assault, despite a severe fire from the natives. Two sailors had been slightly wounded. "The native position was very strong, and protected with stockades, which they thought impregnable, and were consequently rather surprised when they saw it carried by a body of white faces." Five or six Indians were killed or wounded, he said, adding that old Nancy, the chief, was slain.

The Indians sued for peace. They delivered three bodies at the fort gates, declaring them to be those of the fugitives, whom they had to kill in order to hand them over. It was never fully established whether they were the real culprits, or the remains of slaves. In any event both whites and natives were happy to be able to re-establish friendly relations.


While government was being established on the Coast and settlement was commencing, life at the fur-posts of the Interior went on in much the same manner as it had for years: there was a perpetual sense of unexpected and undefined danger to be met. Incidents testing the courage and resource of officers in charge of the different establishments were not unusual. One such happening may be used to illustrate the need for constant vigilance.

It was in 1846. John Tod was in charge at Fort Kamloops. The productive resources of the locality had not yet been fully utilized. The main source of food supplies, for both men and dogs, was the silver salmon. Each year when the fish were running, men would be sent overland with horses to the Fraser River where some 10,000, or more, dried salmon would be traded from the natives. These would be packed away at the fort for winter use.

The brigade from the Columbia River to New Caledonia had but recently passed on its way, and amongst the supplies left with Tod was a part of the first consignment of vaccine brought to the country. Tod was examining this little package, as he sat alone in the fort, for all his men had gone with the salmon train. Suddenly the door opened and an Indian retainer named Jean Baptiste Lolo St. Paul—commonly known as Lolo—entered. Tod was surprised, for he believed Lolo to be with the others, but he waited for him to speak. At last the Indian did. He told of how he had learned from a friendly native that Indian warriors were lying in wait in a narrow defile to murder the men from the fort.

Tod jumped up, and, telling Lolo to mind the fort, he shoved the parcel of vaccine that he held in his hand into his coat-pocket, and picking up his short sword and pistol he hastened outside to saddle his big snow-white horse. On this he sped away in pursuit of his men. He overtook them as they were about to enter the ravine where the ambush had been placed.

He ordered the men to halt until they saw what befell him. If he was killed, they were then to ride back to the fort and hold it until help could be obtained from Forts Okanogon or Alexandria; but if they saw that he had control of the Indians, they were to pass on to the river and get the salmon. He then spurred his horse forward, and made it rear and dance from side to side, as he pulled off his hat and threw it into the air, followed by his sword and pistol. Soon the amazed and curious Indians bobbed up from behind rocks and logs to watch the strange gyrations of the white chief. With a touch of his spur he made the animal bound forward, and then brought it to a stop in the midst of the natives. He called out in feigned delight how happy he was to find them; he said he had come to save them. This was indeed a surprise to the men who had plotted his death.

"What did he mean?" they questioned. "It's the smallpox," he almost hissed, chilling the very vitals of the Indians who feared the dread disease. "An Okanogon has brought it from Walla Walla." The natives were terrified. All thought of killing the trader and his men vanished and they called loudly upon him to protect them.

In order to satisfy himself that he had them in hand, and to give his men a chance to pass, he pointed to sturdy jack pine and ordered that it be cut down. The Indians attacked it with their axes and soon hacked it down. "Now," said Tod, "cut it in lengths and pile it." When this was done, Tod sat on the heap, and drawing out the packet of vaccine and a tobacco-stained pocket-knife, he started to vaccine the warriors—all on the right arm. He then made them go around for an hour holding the treated member in the air. The serum was effective, and when the men returned in a few days with the salmon, there was not a warrior in the vicinity who could lift his arm to shoulder a musket or string a bow.

The ingenuity and resource of Tod had saved the fort, and won him renewed friendship from those who had plotted his destruction.


Hudson's Bay officers at Fort Simpson had learned from Indians of the existence of deposits of gold-laden quartz on the west side of the Queen Charlotte group. A visit to the place justified the report.

In October, 1851, Captain McNeill had gone north on the little brigantine 'Una', Captain "Wullie" Mitchell, to open mines for the Company. The vessel anchored in a harbour named for Mitchell, and the men commenced work. A vein—described by Governor James Douglas as being twenty-five per cent pure gold—was found. Drilling and blasting were started on this glittering outcrop.

For a day or two everything went well. The miners, under John McGregor, an expert collier who had agreed to work on shares, were pleased. Then came the Indians—and trouble. The natives would rush forward as soon as a blast was set off, and would jostle and scramble with the whites for the gold-specked bits of rock. As time went on the Indians became more impudent and daring, and after a few days Captain McNeill concluded that it would be dangerous to continue trying to mine. All the gold that the miners had been able to secure had been put on board the 'Una'. With this precious ore the boat sailed for Fort Simpson, where McNeill lined the miners up and offered to weigh the quartz, estimate its value and divide it according to agreement. The miners refused, preferring to have the division made by Governor Douglas.

The little vessel with her golden cargo was headed south, the genial "Wullie" agreeing to try to reach Fort Victoria by Christmas. It was the day before the great Feast Day that the sturdy little craft, bucking a gale, tried to nudge into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the set of the tide and a strong current, combining with the wind, drove her towards the American shore. Presently Neah Bay opened up, offering some shelter in which to wait for a few hours for better weather. The 'Una' was scudding towards this haven when, with a grinding crash and a terrific thud, she struck on an uncharted reef. She heeled over dangerously, but remained fast.

Indians gathered on the beach, and before long were bobbing about the wreck in their canoes. With daylight they boarded her, and then started to plunder. There were fights between them and the sailors as the thieves broke open sea-chests and tore clothing from the men. The situation was becoming critical, when the U.S. schooner, 'Susan Sturgis', under Matthew Rooney, en route to the Queen Charlotte gold-field, arrived. He rescued the sailors and miners from the 'Una' and took them to Fort Victoria. As they left Neah Bay, flames broke out from the wreck. An Indian had set it on fire. The boat burned to the water's edge and then slipped off the reef, carrying her gold to the bottom of the bay.

James Douglas, recently appointed Governor of the Colony, felt that it was necessary to punish the perpetrators of this outrage, despite the fact that Neah was in the United States. He ordered Captain Charles Dodd to take on more hands on board the schooner 'Cadboro' and hasten to the scene.

It was the 'Cadboro' that had blasted the Indian villages at Port Townsend and New Dungeness some years before, in retaliation for the murder of Alex. McKenzie and his men. The Indians remembered that fact, and the Neah Bay chief did not care to have another demonstration of the guns of the vessel. He lined up his tribesmen and ten of them were identified as having taken prominent parts in the looting of the vessel. The chief ordered them to be shot. Further investigation led to discovery of the man who had set fire to the wreck. But the chief thought that shooting was too merciful a death for him. He was buried alive.

"Those barbarous acts," Douglas reported to the Colonial Office, "were however, neither demanded nor approved by us, and were the result of their own uninfluenced deliberations. This affair which might have proved troublesome and expensive had been therefore quietly settled by a simple demonstration without any direct act of hostility on the part of this government."


Settlement of the 49th parallel as the international boundary was followed by persistent agitation in the United States to have both the Hudson's Bay Company and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company—a companion organization—surrender their possessory rights. These included farms operated by the Puget Sound Company at Nisqually and Cowlitz, as well as trading-posts and tilled fields and pasture lands held by the fur company.

This situation resulted in the determination to start farms for the Puget Sound Company on Vancouver's Island and enlarge the agricultural operations of the Hudson's Bay Company as well. The latter concern broadened its operations at the North Dairy Farm and on other farms closer to Fort Victoria, and commenced the Uplands Farm facing Cadboro Bay. The Puget Sound Company's plans contemplated three large farms: the Constance Cove farm, at Esquimalt; the Craigflower Farm, opposite Maple Point on Victoria's upper harbour and extending to Esquimalt Harbour and the Constance Cove holding; and the Colwood Farm, which lay between the head of Esquimalt Harbour and the little lake later named Langford Lake.

This acreage—for which the Company paid at the rate of one pound an acre—involved more than £2,500 as the purchase price, and was to be worked by trained labourers from the United Kingdom, who were to receive seventeen to twenty-five pounds per annum according to their respective skills. If they gave no cause for complaint during five years' service they would receive twenty-five acres for labourers and fifty acres for artisans.

Kenneth McKenzie, a well-educated and energetic, though somewhat visionary man, the son of a doctor who lived at Renton Hall, Haddingtonshire, Scotland, was the senior of the three bailiffs appointed to manage the farms. He was to act as a general supervisor. The other bailiffs were T. J. Skinner, who had control of Constance Cove, a quiet man, who was not able to achieve as much as he desired with the disgruntled help at his command, and E. E. Langford, a Kentish gentleman-farmer and erstwhile military officer. Langford, with his wife and five charming daughters, was the first to arrive. He came in 1851 aboard the Company's ship 'Tory', bringing a number of farm hands with him. Poor Langford was disappointed from the moment of his arrival, when he discovered that no preparations had been made for his coming. He and his family, and the piano—the first instrument of its kind in the Colony—had to crowd into a single-roomed log-house, while his retainers had to jam into another one. Here they had to stay until some sort of shelter could be erected at Colwood. The comfortable and commodious cottage that was constructed there in time became a social centre, with young officers from the men o' war and eligible company clerks and settlers being invited to the dances, picnics, routs and other entertainments possible in a home with five charming daughters.

Kenneth McKenzie had an even more difficult task, for to him the Company headquarters in England looked for success by all of the farms. He too found no preparations had been made before his arrival on the barque 'Norman Morison', in January, 1853. Until temporary shelters were erected, he and his workmen had to travel between the fort and their work by boat, occasionally having trouble negotiating the angry waters of the Gorge.

McKenzie's men became discouraged and disgruntled. They complained of the lack of proper accommodation, of poor food, and of the fact that across the Strait on the American side men were being paid two dollars or two dollars and fifty cents a day, while they were receiving, roughly, a little less than a shilling a day. Occasionally one or more would stop work, or desert to try to cross to the other side. Then severe discipline would be meted out, the usual punishment being a month's confinement in the Bastion jail at the fort. Ill feeling developed.

Despite his vexations and difficulties, McKenzie did his best. He had brought out a small portable mill-engine. With this he cut lumber for his buildings, and then converted it to grind grain. With the flour thus procured, he entered into a contract with the Navy to supply the ships at Esquimalt with hardtack and bread. He found lime rock and burned lime, and made bricks from clay on the place. Despite his efforts, though, the Puget Sound Company's affairs did not prosper.


Governor James Douglas knew that it was imperative that any interference on the part of the natives with the settlers be dealt with promptly. Failure to do so might imperil the lives of all whites and prevent settlement. In 1844 the natives, encouraged by Chief Tzouhalem the Wicked, from Cowichan, had killed cattle and then attacked Fort Victoria. Now, in 1852, two Songhees had killed a settler's cow. One Indian was apprehended and lodged in the Bastion, but the other had fled to the village across the harbour, and his people would not give him up.

Dr. J. S. Helmcken has left a record of what happened from the standpoint of a participator in the affair. He said that ten men—new arrivals—were armed and were ordered to support the constable. J. W. Mackay, a clerk, was given charge of one boat, while the doctor commanded the other.

"The shores were lined with Indians," said the doctor, "some blackened, all yelling, having muskets, axes, knives and what not. But the nastiest things were long poles [herring fishing-poles] with sharp spears at the end, pointed towards our stomachs, which the men could not stand." The natives waded into the water and seized the boats, scuffling with the men for possession of their muskets. They captured two guns, a boat and the doctor's hat.

Describing his return to the Fort, Helmcken went on: "Douglas was not pleased and looked grim, but said nothing to me anyhow. He had given orders to take care and not kill any one, but only to seize the culprit... After this I walked along Wharf street alongside of Mr. Douglas—and the bullets were whistling from across the water. We walked along there with slow deliberate step, as much as to say, 'we are not afraid' ... No one had covered himself with glory; no killed, no wounded; the trophies remained with the natives."

Governor Douglas, in reporting the incident to the Colonial Office, explained that he had demanded the return of the property taken by the Indians; they refused to restore it, unless the man arrested earlier was released.

"I could not allow Her Majesty's authority to be thus treated with contempt," he said, "and the law set at open defiance, without a neglect of duty and incurring greater evils than those which it was sought to avert.

"Before resorting to coercive measures I however resolved to try the effect of a demonstration, and with that view, ordered out a few guns and directed the Hudson's Bay Company's Steam Vessel 'Beaver' to be anchored abreast the village, in a position from whence it could be attacked to advantage and in the course of two hours our preparations were completed.

"In the meantime, there was much excitement and alarm among the Indians, the women and children were flying in all directions while the men appeared to look unmoved upon the scene of danger, but they had also had time for reflection on the consequences of pushing the matter further, and to my great relief sent a messenger to beg that proceedings might be stayed, as they had resolved to end the dispute by restoring the boat and muskets, which were immediately given up.

"It being then late in the evening, nothing further could be done; and the following morning the Songhees chief, a well disposed Indian, made proffers of compensation for the cattle that had been slaughtered by his people, which were accepted and quiet was restored."

Helmcken adds that he recovered his hat. He said that when the natives brought back the guns, which were discarded American army muskets, they contemptuously asked, "Of what use are these guns; the locks are rusted and they won't go off." This was true, the doctor admitted—-"and the greenhorns had loaded them improperly, too; powder last, ball first," he chuckled.

It was a fortunate outcome; it might have been serious, but probably King Freezy and his people remembered that day, eight years before, when the big guns of the fort spoke answer to Chief Tzouhalem and his cattle-killing Cowichans.


An Indian brought his broken gun to the blacksmith shop at Fort Victoria to be repaired one December day in 1849. As he watched the smith at work he noticed him put some coal on the forge fire. He asked where the "blackstone" had been obtained. He was told that it had come from far away over the ocean. The old native laughed, and when asked the cause of his amusement, he replied that he had always been told that the whites were clever, but they could not be so, or instead of bringing coal from far away they would get it where he lived, for there was an abundance there.

The blacksmith called J. W. Mackay, a clerk, who questioned the Indian, and told him that if he would go home and get a canoe-load of "blackstones" and return to the fort with it, his gun would be repaired at no charge and he would be otherwise rewarded. The old man disappeared.

Months passed before the Indian re-appeared, his canoe laden with fine specimens of coal. The old man had been delayed by sickness. He said he was a "Snenymo" and lived at Wentuhuysen Inlet. He received his reward and a new name, that of "Coal-tyee." Chief Factor and Governor James Douglas was informed. He ordered Mackay to investigate. He went to the place and found that the Indian had told the truth. There was a good outcrop of coal just above high water on the beach.

During the summer of 1850, however, mines were being opened close to Fort Rupert, a new post to the north of Vancouver's Island. Great hopes were held out for them; so not much attention was given to Mackay's discovery. But by 1852 prospects were not bright. No deep-seated deposit had been found; trouble had developed with the first batch of miners brought from England, and now another party, under the direction of Boyd Gilmour, was drilling at Suquash, without much encouragement. Douglas was disappointed and worried. Then he remembered Mackay's coal. Once more the clerk was sent to the locality, and reported further evidence of a substantial field.

Douglas decided to take a look at the outcrops. He made a leisurely canoe trip to Wentuhuysen Inlet, stopping to take a look at Cowichan and examine the coastline. What he saw electrified him and he hastened back to Fort Victoria, to hurry a despatch off to the Company's head office in London. Rarely had the staid, dignified Douglas ever penned such a jubilant letter. "In the course of the excursion we discovered three Beds of Coal," he exulted, "the first and upper bed measuring three inches; a second immediately under it measuring twenty inches, and at a distance about three-quarters of a mile nearly due west, a third bed measuring fifty seven and a quarter inches in depth of clean coal, from which, with the assistance of the natives, we procured about fifty tons in a single day at a total cost of £11 paid in goods. The discovery has afforded me more satisfaction than I can express," he glowed.

Now the Chief Factor and Governor, who had known of the coal-deposit since Mackay visited the place in 1850, was alarmed lest some other interests—especially American—should stake it. He hurried Mackay off in a canoe, bearing formal notices of occupation, to take possession of the deposits, and to warn off any marauders. John Muir, several of his sons, John McGregor, and Hudson's Bay workmen were to be sent by schooner.

So it was that Mackay took possession of the coal-field—which the Company purchased from the Crown when it was surveyed—and started the construction of an establishment. Douglas, remembering the clash between the fur trade officials and miners at Fort Rupert, gave Mackay definite instructions that old John Muir was to have full control of the mining. With such a recognized division of responsibilities, the enterprising clerk began the construction of log-houses roofed with bark, loading facilities for vessels, a store for trading and other necessary works, including a bastion. This was completed in the summer of 1853, and has stood ever since as a memento to the faith, courage and determination of Mackay and his associates in the founding of Nanaimo.


Peter Brown was foully murdered. He was a shepherd, employed by the Hudson's Bay Company at their Christmas Hill sheep-station in Saanich. It was November 5, 1852. Brown and his fellow Orkneyman, James Skea, had breakfast and Skea drove the sheep to pasture that morning. When he returned at noon, it was to find Brown sprawled in front of the cabin—dead. He had been shot. Search revealed evidence that the killers were Indians.

Governor James Douglas started an investigation, and found that Sque-is, a Cowichan, and Siam-a-sit, son of Tche-whe-tum, a powerful Nanaimo chief, were suspected of the killing. Demands were made upon their tribes to surrender them, but were refused.

H.M.S. 'Thetis' reached Esquimalt about this time and Douglas asked Captain A. L. Kuper to support the civil power by providing an armed party. This was done, and Lieutenants Arthur Sansum and John Moresby, with 130 sailors and marines, were placed at his disposal as commander-in-chief of the Colony. He also had a small party of Victorian Voltigeurs as scouts.

It was January 6, 1853, when the steamer 'Beaver', with the brigantine 'Recovery' in tow, dropped anchor in Cowichan Bay, and messages were sent to the tribal chiefs to meet the Governor. They replied they would attend him at an appointed place the next day. The following morning the troops were landed. Douglas took a camp-stool some distance in advance of the forces, and seating himself on it calmly proceeded to light a pipe. Presently the sound of drums was heard and a flotilla of war-canoes, carrying several hundred armed and painted natives, swept around a river bend. The warriors, waving their spears and guns, jumped ashore and dashed up the incline, directly at Douglas. It was with difficulty the officers could restrain their men, but the iron-nerved Governor did not deign to notice the excited braves. The result was that when they were almost upon him they came to a dead stop. Then Douglas started to talk to them, and after two hours of negotiations Sque-is was surrendered. He was placed on board the 'Beaver', and the expedition continued to Nanaimo.

Several days were spent in useless endeavour to have Siam-a-sit given up by his tribe; then a force was landed at the mouth of the Nanaimo River, and marched rapidly through the woods to attack a stockaded native village. When they reached the place, muskets bristled from every loop-hole. The naval officers were for immediate assault, but this Douglas would not permit. He ordered up the pinnace and launch that had been left at the river-mouth. These each carried a small brass cannon. When the guns were loaded and trained on the fort, the big door slid up in token of capitulation. The night was spent there, and the following morning another village was taken. Here it was learned that Siam-a-sit had fled to the banks of a small stream to the west.

Basil Battineau, sergeant of the Voltigeurs, with six of his scouts and some sailors went in pursuit. That evening the fugitive, hidden under a pile of driftwood, attempted to shoot Battineau, but his gun only flashed. He was captured and taken on board the 'Beaver'. The creek was given the name of "Chase River," which it still bears.

The final act of this tragedy, as described by Governor Douglas in his despatch to the Colonial Office, was as follows: "The two Indians now being in custody, they were brought to trial, and found guilty of wilful murder, by a Jury composed of the officers present. They were sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead, and the execution took place in the presence of the whole Nanaimo tribe, the same appearing to make a deep impression on their minds."

This was a most historic trial, for it marked the abandonment of the old retaliatory system of haphazard administration of justice, and introduced the jury system, a foundation-stone of democracy. It was a most significant result of the establishment of Crown Colony government.


Vancouver Island had an active armed militia, which under the name "Victoria Voltigeurs" played an important part in the protection of the Colony from Indian attack. It was organized about 1850 when Governor Richard Blanshard was enduring his unhappy tenure as first chief executive. In the absence of other authority he wanted an army to command.

Chief Factor James Douglas, in answering some complaints made by Blanshard to London, writing on March 21, 1851, said: "The Governor, for instance, was ... in favour of having a military force in the Colony for the protection of the inhabitants ... It was with the object of meeting Governor Blanshard's views ... that I took the liberty of recommending the formation of a rural police, to be effected by granting a certain number of twenty-acre lots on the Fur Trade reserve to the company's retiring servants."

In 1859 when Douglas was retiring from the Hudson's Bay Company, he recalled that there were three members of the Voltigeurs who had not been given their twenty-acre allotments, and ordered Colonial Surveyor J. Pemberton to issue deeds to them. In writing Pemberton, he said that "before '51 a Canadian village for defence against Indians was established on the Portage Inlet." The fortunate three were Nicholas Auger, J. B. Jollibois, and John Lemon.

The Voltigeurs won high praise for their service in the field, and especially in two expeditions to Cowichan. The first was on the hunt for the Indians, Sque-is and Siam-a-sit, slayers of Peter Brown. From old records, some idea may be obtained of the dress of the Voltigeurs. On the occasion of the first Cowichan campaign they were issued with new uniforms. Each man was given a pair of stout boots as well as a pair of moccasins for scouting wear, long worsted stockings, buckskin trousers, a shirt, blue capot, blue cap, gaily decorated with tinsel braid and ribbons, and a broad red belt and bullet-pouch. They received a dollar a day. Sergeant Battineau and Interpreter Tomo Omtany were paid a dollar and a half.

The Voltigeurs were well fed, as were all ranks on the first Cowichan expedition. The officers particularly did not suffer, for a list of their rations shows that they had bread and cakes and flour; prunes, raisins and currants; brown and white sugar, two kinds of tea and coffee; salt beef, home-cured hams, butter, potatoes, mutton and live sheep.

Douglas was lavish in his praise of the naval forces in his despatches, and proudly added: "I am happy to say that our little corps of Colonial Voltigeurs imitated their noble example." So also he had praise for the unit when it next accompanied him to Cowichan in 1856.

The Voltigeurs had to be ready to answer an alarm at any time. An illustration of the constant dangers of the times was an incident of 1853, when trouble took place at Uplands Farm.

Several hundred angry northern Indians—from Alaska—were on their way home. They were angry as the result of a clash with Americans in Puget Sound. They swarmed ashore at Cadboro Bay and started to steal and pillage. Two labourers, almost exhausted from their long run, burst into Fort Victoria at noon on May 26 crying that the farm had been taken by the Indians. Instantly the alarm sounded, and while a larger force was being armed, Douglas with six mounted men galloped over the trail to Uplands. Here it was found that "they [the Indians] had not entered the premises, but had attacked Mr. Baillie [Bayley] near the Coast, while he was looking for some stray cattle, in company with Grenham and Hilliard, two of his labourers, who ran away on the appearance of the Indians," as Douglas wrote in his report to London. Bayley fought stoutly and knocked two of them down, before they seized his gun and felled him with a blow on the head.


Because Charles Bayley was fairly well educated, and had neither ability nor wish to become a labourer, a school for boys, children of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, was started at Fort Victoria. Young Bayley had arrived with his father who came out on the 'Tory' in 1851 to manage the Company's new Uplands Farm at Cadboro Bay. Soon after their arrival, Governor Douglas notified London:

"Mr. Charles Bailey [Bayley] the young man who acted as schoolmaster for the Emigrants during the outward voyage of the 'Tory' having conducted himself with great propriety since his arrival here and not being particularly useful as a mere labourer, I have opened a day school for boys, the children of the Company's labouring servants at this place, who are now growing up in ignorance of their duties as men and Christians." Young Bayley conducted the school with credit to himself.

In January, 1853, when the 'Norman Morison' reached Fort Victoria, with Kenneth McKenzie and the personnel for Craigflower Farm, Robert Barr and his wife came with him, to start a school. They had been at Leeds Industrial School, but when the school managers objected to the headmaster and matron marrying, they resigned and took the Vancouver Island appointment. Here was a type of teacher that Douglas desired; so he sent young Bayley to open a school at Nanaimo for the children of the coal-miners, and installed Barr in the Fort School.

McKenzie was indignant: he wrote to Sir Andrew Colvile, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company and of the Puget Sound Company, complaining bitterly of the detention of his school teacher at Victoria. "I do not think that it is expedient to instruct Mr. Douglas to change the arrangement which he had made, tho' I have expressed to him my regret," Colvile replied. "However," he added, "some other good schoolmaster will be sent by the first opportunity." Sir Andrew started a search for such a man. It was more difficult than he had expected, but at last he found a man named "Mr. Silver," whom he thought highly qualified for the post. The new teacher would be out on the next boat. But when the vessel arrived, there was no Mr. Silver on board. Instead there was a letter from Sir Andrew, who said that fortunately he had found, before it was too late, that Mr. Silver was a member of the "Free Kirk." Sir Andrew was doubtless a staunch supporter of the old form of Presbyterian faith.

So the children at Craigflower had to wait until Mr. Charles Clark was sent out. A fine school and dwelling were erected at Maple Point, and a bridge was constructed across Victoria Arm at that point. The school was highly regarded, as may be judged from John Work's letter of July 30, 1855, to Dr. William Tolmie:

"On Saturday last, McKenzie's Schoolmaster Clark had an examination of his pupils, to which Circulars inviting attendance had been sent out to every one about. I did not go ... but Mr. Douglas was there with Mr. and Mrs. Cameron and some of the Officers and many others. Craigflower had triumphal arches erected at both ends of the bridge leading to the School and an elegant device put up with VR in the middle of it, and to finish, at the hour of meeting, a Salute of twenty-one Guns fired. (Whoever before heard of a salute being fired at the examination of a school?) But it seems to suit Craigflower's views. He also finished off with a repast to the Company of wine, cakes and other dainties. The examination is said to have gone off well and the children to have acquitted themselves creditably."

Old John Work was fearful that the proceedings at Craigflower would establish a precedent and complained that already Robert Barr had announced that he would hold an examination, and he noted that the school was being whitewashed, and the window-frames and doors painted, "which was never thought of before."


Governor James Douglas found upon taking office that in his capacity as chief executive he was expected to be a dispenser of law. Governor Blanshard, who was a lawyer, had attended to all matters judicial. He had appointed Dr. J. S. Helmcken as a justice of the peace with jurisdiction in the vicinity of Fort Rupert, but the doctor soon resigned. Douglas was a very busy man and did not have the time to attend to all the petty squabbles and misdemeanours of the Colony. He therefore appointed four justices of the peace. They formed a "Justices' Court," where once a week they boldly adjudicated on matters far beyond their powers.

The Justices soon gave the Governor cause for worry, and he wrote to the Colonial Office explaining: "In consequence of a suit which was decided in the Justices' Court, wherein damages to the amount of 2,213 dollars with costs, were awarded the Plaintiff, a crafty adventurer named Webster, the defendants being the sons of John Muir, a poor and industrious Freeholder belonging to the colony. The defendants were refused the right of appeal, and the damages were immediately levied by order of the court."

The records of the court were so poorly kept that it was most difficult to gain anything resembling a clear understanding of the case from them.

The high-handed manner in which the Justices of the Peace had acted, in refusing the unfortunate Muir brothers a right to appeal, was in the opinion of Douglas bad enough, but his indignation was increased when one of the magistrates issued an order detaining two vessels at Sooke, in connection with the same case. These boats were loading cargoes of lumber cut by the Muirs. The Governor had to apologize to the captains and assure them that a justice of the peace in Vancouver's Island did not have the power and responsibility of an Admiralty Court.

While Governor Douglas was still vexed over the Webster-vs.-Muir case, the case of Parson R. J. Staines's pigs exploded. The fort chaplain and schoolmaster was also a farmer and swine-fancier. One day he suspected that one or two of his pet pigs had been rounded up by Emanuel Douliet, a French-Canadian settler who was also raising pigs. Without saying anything to Douliet, Staines visited one of the justices of the peace, who gave him an imposing court-order, authorizing him to swear in special constables and raid the premises of Douliet.

Douliet came running to the Governor, shouting that the preacher had stolen his pigs. Douglas asked him why he had come to him, instead of going to the proper authority and having Mr. Staines arrested.

"But no one she mak' arrest of the preach!" Douliet exclaimed.

The Governor replied that there was one justice of the peace who would take any information. He was David Cameron, who had been appointed that day. To him the indignant French Canadian hurried; and Staines was duly arrested for stealing Douliet's pigs. It was the signal for a great outburst of indignation on the part of the settlers, especially those who were opposed to Hudson's Bay Company rule.

Realizing that if the matter had been handled differently there would have been no trouble, Governor Douglas declared that something must be done to curb the assumed jurisdiction of the magistrates. He drafted a measure, which was approved by the Council and proclaimed. It established a Supreme Court for the Colony.

David Cameron, the junior Justice of the Peace, his brother-in-law, was named by Douglas as the Chief Justice pro tem. Cameron had no legal training, but the Governor had great reliance on his common sense and impartiality.

The Home Government approved the appointment, and the first case called before him was that of the Rev. R. J. Staines, accused of pig-stealing. The Grand Jury threw it out.

There was great public criticism of the appointment, and the settlers formulated a petition, which Mr. Staines was to take to London, protesting Cameron's appointment. Unfortunately poor Mr. Staines lost his life en route to England.


Under the active leadership of Joseph W. Mackay, the Hudson's Bay Company's clerk in charge, the establishment at Nanaimo made rapid progress. Log shelters for the miners and labourers were constructed as quickly as possible. The structures were rude, roofed with cedar-bark purchased from the natives, and were later replaced by better—though still rough—houses. Old John Muir and his band of miners worked hard and soon proved that the field was an extensive one of high-grade coal.

It was September 6, 1853, when Muir and his men started work, but already Indians were raising surface coal, and with this the first commercial cargo was made up. Joseph Mackay, on September 9, 1853, said: "The greater part of the 'Cadboro's' cargo was purchased with small trade. A few of the chiefs have retained their tickets until they can afford to purchase blankets.... An able man can earn at the rate of one shirt per diem."

Subsequent reports told of discovery of new coal-seams, of drilling and sinking of test pits, and, in the summer of 1853, of the completion of the Bastion—the octagonal blockhouse that was to protect the community—and of the building of a water-powered sawmill on Millstone River, close at hand. Salt was also found in brine springs on the banks of the same creek. During the next ten years it was produced there for salting fish.

The men at Nanaimo worked under constant difficulties and dangers. The Indians found employment about the mines, including winding the windlasses. The miners did not like this, not because they were fearful of hostile action but because the natives had the habit of dropping whatever they might be doing at the moment when they saw a strange canoe passing. Mackay, in asking for two more men to do the hoisting, said, "Indians are not to be trusted as they might endanger the lives of the men below."

There were frequent intertribal fights and killings, often within close proximity to the white men's houses. In May, 1853, Mackay commented: "I was under the necessity of chasing the belligerent parties away from the place and warned the Nanaimoes to refrain for the future from carrying on their murderous practices near the dwellings of the whitemen."

Securing sufficient food supplies was always a vexing problem. In October, 1853, Mackay reported that he had managed to get twenty barrels of salmon, but was short of potatoes, and he added: "The Nanaimoes do not appear to have a large stock of that vegetable. We have had little or no venison since the last fracas with the Cowichans." He asked for help from Fort Victoria, but was refused.

In the early summer of 1853 the miners, under Boyd Gilmour, were moved from Fort Rupert. He replaced Muir as overseer. It was in the following year that the 'Princess Royal' arrived at Fort Victoria with a large party of expert coal-miners with their wives and children, destined for Nanaimo. They reached the coal-camp in November, and the event has been celebrated for many years, for these fine people and their descendants helped to build a happy and prosperous community. They had to endure much, but they did so cheerfully and courageously. The late Mark Bate, Sr., who arrived in 1857, in speaking of these pioneers of '54 said:

"They told me how roughly the houses were constructed; of the dreary look outside, and cramped space inside; how the chinks between the logs and poles, through which the wind would blow with a shriek of triumph, were plastered up with clay or stuffed with moss; of the interior equipage, benches, boards and bunk-like bedsteads; of the Dutch ovens for baking and cooking; of the drugget rush mats and rugs made in part of dogs' hair by Indians, used as floor coverings."

The previous summer, when Gilmour and his men arrived, there were, as the make-up of Coviletown (the original name, but hardly ever used), four dwellings twenty-six by fifteen feet, and three thirty by twenty, habitable, and filling pieces raised for three more thirty by twenty. The armament of the Bastion consisted of two six-pound carronades, which were sufficiently powerful to overawe the natives, and were useful for firing salutes.


Chief Tath-la-sut of the Somenos branch of the Cowichans was a proud young warrior, who lived by the ancient code of his people. When an Indian was wronged by a white man, custom demanded that he revenge himself on a man of that colour; it mattered not that he might be innocent of that injury. That is what happened: the chief decided that Thomas Williams, a settler living near Quamichan, must die.

Williams, who by all accounts was a decent sort of chap, was shot without warning. The musket-ball tore through the upper part of his right arm and lodged in his body. It was a grievous wound.

Word of the shooting was sent to Governor James Douglas at Fort Victoria. It was a time when the whole of Washington Territory was being torn by warfare between whites and Indians. To show any weakness, Douglas knew, would be to invite the horrors of similar hostilities on Vancouver's Island. H.M.S. 'Monarch', bearing the flag of Admiral W. H. Bruce, and H.M.S. 'Trincomalee', Captain Wallace Houston, were anchored at Esquimalt. Douglas asked the Admiral to support the civil authority, with the result that four hundred men from the two ships were placed at his disposal. In addition, the Victoria Voltigeurs supplied eighteen scouts, and Douglas, as commander-in-chief, had a personal staff of two.

The force was landed at Cowichan Bay and marched several miles up the valley before making contact with the Indians, who had fielded about four hundred warriors. At first it looked as if a major battle would be fought, for the surrender of Tath-la-sut was refused. This was avoided by the personal courage of the Governor, who seemed to possess a strange power over hostile natives. He could hold them almost motionless while he talked to them. He had demonstrated this years before at Fort Fraser. Now he walked directly towards the wanted man. Tath-la-sut had intended to shoot the Governor at the start of general hostilities, but the chief appeared to be transfixed by the voice of the towering man approaching. Then, when Douglas was only five or six paces away, Tath-la-sut seemed to shake off the spell, and threw up his gun to shoot. Now two Indians, who did not wish to see their white friend die, seized the musket. A struggle ensued, in which Captain Houston was knocked down, another officer was cut with a knife, and one or two men bowled over. But his own people handed over Tath-la-sut, who had tried to kill Douglas.

It was characteristic of Douglas that he did not boast of his part in the affair in reporting to the Colonial Office, September 6, 1856: "We were successful after much trouble in securing the person of the Indian who lately attempted to take the life of Thomas Williams, the natives themselves having been prevailed upon to seize and deliver him into our hands. He was tried before a special court convened on the spot and was found guilty of maiming with intent to murder. He was accordingly sentenced to be hanged and the sentence was carried into effect near the spot where the crime was committed, in the presence of his Tribe."

In further description of the affair, Douglas remarked: "In marching through the thickets of the Cowegin [sic] valley the Victoria Voltigeurs were with my own personal staff, thrown well in advance of the Seamen and marines formed in single file to scour the woods and guard against surprise as I could not fail to bear in mind the repeated disasters which last winter befell the American Army while marching through the jungle against an enemy inferior in point of numbers and spirit to the Tribes we had to encounter."

So it was that young Chief Tath-la-sut paid the penalty by the white man's code, for having followed the ancient custom of the Coast. He was hanged to an oak tree still standing at the junction of the Old Trunk Road and the Old Road to Maple Bay.


Besides his titles of Governor of Vancouver's Island, Lieutenant-Governor of Queen Charlotte Islands, and directing head of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Coast, James Douglas might also be called "Protector of Puget Sound." He stood on continual guard to prevent northern tribes, especially the fierce Vikings from Alaskan waters, attacking the American settlements. He also dipped deeply into his personal funds to provide arms, munitions and supplies for the defence of such places as Seattle, Bellingham and Port Townsend.

Indian warfare had blazed in Washington Territory almost since the withdrawal of Hudson's Bay Company authority after the settlement of the boundary line. Authorities there feared that if northern tribes made cause with those of the Territory, it would be impossible to resist them without awful sacrifices. So Douglas was asked to keep watch for any movement of the Northerners. He replied to Governor Isaac Stevens of Washington, in January, 1855: "I will consider it a sacred duty to inform you of any hostile movement against your settlement among the Northern Indians."

It was in November of the same year that Acting Governor James Tilton wrote an appeal for arms and munitions with which to defend the country. Replying, Governor Douglas said: "It is a cause of sincere regret, on my part, that our means of rendering you assistance come infinitely short of our wishes. We are, I confess, with sorrow, badly prepared for the exigencies of a state of warfare; there being at this moment, only One Hundred stand of arms in this Colony; and those are in the stores of the Hudson's Bay Company. I have made a purchase of fifty of these, all that can be spared, for your service, and now forward them by Capt. Hunt, under consignment to Dr. Tolmie, who will arrange about their delivery. I have also secured ten barrels of gunpowder and a supply of ball, a part of which will also now be forwarded by the steamer 'Traveller'." In addition to this substantial aid, he sent the steamer 'Otter' to patrol in front of the settlements to demonstrate to "the Native Tribes that our warmest sympathies are enlisted in your favour."

In 1856 he sent several warning messages to Olympia; one suggested that a wrong done a Northern Indian by a settler near Bellingham be righted, or it might be a cause of trouble. The following year there was a murderous attack on Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, a prominent figure in the territory. It was in revenge for the killing of an Indian chief near Port Gamble, of which Ebey was innocent. He was killed and decapitated. Douglas sent Captain Charles Dodd in search of the head, and for two years he prosecuted the quest until he was successful.

The long attack made by the Indians on Seattle in 1856, which was repelled only with the aid of a U.S. ship-of-war, after a fight of some nine hours, emboldened the natives. They planned a massed attack on Seattle, Bellingham and Port Townsend to drive the whites into the sea. Governor Stevens had an empty treasury. He had to arm new units to protect these places. Failing to buy his requirements with territorial script, he sent an officer to see James Douglas. It was not in vain, for again the Governor of Vancouver's Island dug deeply into his pocket, and provided blankets, and coffee, and gun-powder and shot, and other things that Stevens's Commissary Officer wanted.

Previously he had provided aid to American settlers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The strain was becoming heavy. He was now more than $7,000 out of pocket. Months went by and there was no suggestion of repayment. He wrote to London about it, telling Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton: "This is not, however, the first instance in which I have suffered in consequence of relieving the distress of United States citizens."

It was not until the British Government, through the ministry at Washington, took the matter up with President Buchanan, that Douglas was repaid. Even then he said that settlement had not been made in full.


The Right Honourable Henry Labouchere, Colonial Secretary, on February 28, 1856, instructed Governor James Douglas, of Vancouver's Island, to set up an elective House of Assembly. He emphasized that settlers must have a voice in government. "It has been doubted," he said, "by authorities conversant in the principles of colonial law, whether the Crown can legally convey authority to make laws in a settlement founded by Englishmen, even for a temporary and special purpose, to any legislature not elected wholly, or in part, by the settlers themselves."

Governor Douglas was startled. He was not sufficiently informed upon the fundamental principles required in setting in operation the evolutionary processes of democratic institutions, he believed. He expressed his temerity in a letter to Labouchere, May 22: "It is, I confess, not without a feeling of dismay that I contemplate the nature and amount of labour and responsibility which will be imposed upon me, in the process of carrying out the instructions conveyed in your despatch."

Douglas and the Legislative Council after careful study finally announced, by proclamation, a form of government that was considered to be suitable to the Colony. Despite the fact that there were only about forty electors—qualifying by ownership of land worth twenty pounds sterling—it was decided to retain the appointed Council as an Upper Chamber and create an Assembly composed of seven members, who must each possess property qualifications valued at £300. Distribution of seats was: Sooke District, one; Victoria District, three; Esquimalt District, two; and Nanaimo District, one. Writs were to be returned on August 4.

The first election, which was hotly contested in Victoria and Esquimalt, resulted in the selection of: Sooke, John Muir; Esquimalt, Dr. J. S. Helmcken and Thomas Skinner; Victoria District, J. D. Pemberton, James Yates and E. E. Langford; Nanaimo, Dr. J. F. Kennedy. The House commenced its active life with a political crisis. Douglas wrote to London, telling about it:

"The House immediately proceeded to business, and elected J. S. Helmcken as speaker but their further proceedings were arrested at that stage, in consequence of petitions which were sent in, against the validity of the election of one member, and the property qualification of two other members, so that the Speaker with three members, were alone at liberty to act, and that number was insufficient to form a Committee of enquiry, the House was therefore adjourned until measures could be taken to remove the difficulty."

Governor Douglas would not interfere, leaving it to the House to work itself out of the constitutional tangle in which it found itself.

"After repeated adjournments, and much loss of time, the Speaker ultimately succeeded, without my aid, in adjusting party differences, and forming a committee which immediately proceeded to enquire into the qualifications, and declared the return of E. E. Langford, null and void, in consequence of his not having sufficient property to constitute a legal qualification. An adjournment then took place to the 24th day of October.

"A fresh writ was in consequence issued and Joseph William McKay was returned as member, for the district of Victoria, in place of Edward E. Langford."

Douglas was not displeased at the political mixup: he thought it would be beneficial to the members. He explained why, in the letter (December 16, to the Company). He said: "These delays were not without their use as the members had time to prepare for the proper discharge of the responsible duties they have to perform, and their minds were disabused of many false notions which were commonly entertained here concerning the acts of the Hudson's Bay Company, as well as the powers and jurisdiction of the House of Assembly."

The House of Assembly passed a budget of £130, and during the first session discussed topics that are still on the agenda—liquor and roads.


Discovery of gold near the mouth of the Pend d'Oreille River, on the British side of the border, in March of 1856 started a search for the precious metal elsewhere on the mainland of what is now British Columbia. Prospectors, facing the dangers of an unknown country, and the uncertainty of native hostility, managed to get to Fort Kamloops, and working from that place found pay dirt on Tranquille Creek, and on other streams entering Thompson River. Governor James Douglas, of Vancouver's Island, always fearful of exciting a general Indian war, reported the situation to Henry Labouchere, Colonial Secretary, under date of July 15, 1857:

"It is however certain that gold has been found in many places by washing the soil of the river beds and also of the mountain sides.... A new element of difficulty in exploring the gold country has been interposed through the opposition of the native Indian tribes of Thompson's River, who have lately taken the high-handed, though probably not unwise course, of expelling all the parties of gold diggers, composed chiefly of persons from the American territories, who have forced an entrance into their country." Douglas added that the Indians were not only actuated by a desire to work the gold-bearing bars themselves, but by a fear that the whites would alarm the salmon, the staple food of the Indians.

Douglas forbade Hudson's Bay Company employees to engage in gold-digging without the "full approbation and consent" of the natives. But he could not prevent the American adventurers from spreading the word of profitable fields in the interior of the British domain amongst their friends. Washington and Oregon communities responded to these rumours, and when gold was located on the lower Fraser a wild stampede took form.

On December 29, 1857, Douglas reported to the Imperial Government: "The reputed wealth of the Couteau mines is causing much excitement among the population of the United States territories of Washington and Oregon, and I have no doubt that a great number of people from those territories will be attracted thither with the return of fine weather in spring." About the same time he sent several hundred ounces of gold, which the Hudson's Bay Company had traded with the natives and miners, to San Francisco.

Douglas—without authority, for the gold-strikes were outside his jurisdiction as Governor of Vancouver's Island issued a proclamation declaring the gold to be the property of the Crown, to be worked only by permission. He also published regulations, and the manner of licensing miners.

The resulting stampede was greater than Douglas feared. The news, supplemented by his formal proclamation, took California by storm. Old steamers and ships, rotting at their mooring since the heyday of the rush to the Golden State nearly ten years before, were patched and repaired and outfitted to carry gold-mad adventurers to the new Eldorado. Along Puget Sound men were quitting their farms and their mills to make their way across the border as best they could. Whatcom and Sehome, on Bellingham Bay, and Port Townsend became outfitting centres; everyone was excited. But in Victoria, life went on prosaically until April 25, 1858, when the steamer 'Commodore' arrived with four hundred and fifty passengers bound for the placer-workings. Victorians rubbed their eyes, as ship after ship followed. The fields about the fort were dotted with tents and bark shelters. In four months it was estimated that more than 20,000 individuals landed at Victoria, which had but three or four hundred inhabitants when the rush started. An additional 13,000 entered British territory from Puget Sound and by other routes.

They were a motley lot. Men of all creeds and classes and conditions of society crowded together, among them parasitical types who came to prey on the honest miners and merchants and the decent, hard-working men, who formed the bulk of the invaders, who had plunged headlong into an unknown wilderness at the sound of the magic word—"Gold!"


The flood of miners rolled up the Fraser Valley. They travelled in all manner of craft, canoes, rafts, row-boats—anything that would float—or struggled overland from Washington Territory. Many lost their lives through hardships or storm or fell victim to the cupidity of merciless savages in the early weeks of the Gold Rush Year of 1858.

Governor James Douglas, of Vancouver's Island, was alarmed. He remembered that Americans had flocked to old Oregon and had then set up an independent form of government to be turned over to Washington; he recalled how he had frustrated a plot, of a similar character, to take the Queen Charlotte Islands, and how he had made every miner there acknowledge British sovereignty by buying a licence in the name of the Queen. He wished to make everyone who went up the Fraser River pay tribute to the British Crown in a similar manner; so he demanded that a licence to mine be purchased by every person. But it might be argued that he had no authority on the Mainland to act for the Crown. If this was true, he could achieve the same end by making the immigrants pay a head-tax to the Hudson's Bay Company, as proprietors of the trade of the country by Royal licence. So Douglas proceeded to have the two imposts collected, and placed guard vessels at the Sandheads to enforce payment.

The bearded, red-shirted miners, having passed the taxation barrier at the river mouth, stopped at Fort Langley to seek information and get what supplies they could obtain from the store; then they went on, hurrying, toiling at oars or canoes to get higher and higher up the stream. They stopped where river-bars had been formed, to pan for gold, and having tested the sands pursued their way, confident that tiny specks of yellow metal there would indicate coarser grains higher up the river. In this they were right. Treasure in workable quantity was encountered below Fort Hope, and on bars up to Fort Yale—dangerous, eddying, swirling waters. At Hill's Bar, opposite and below Fort Yale, "rich pay" was discovered. They milled about Fort Yale, waiting for the river to go down, and then pushed up through the canyons, where the river tossed and foamed between rock walls, working every bar and flat. The Indians objected; there was a short, sharp, vicious war fought between white and red men along that turbulent stretch of the river between Fort Yale and the Forks, where the Fraser and Thompson met. Many died—how many will never be known. But the trouble was soon settled, and on and on the adventurous men pushed.

Douglas was worried. He knew that if these daring men who had penetrated so far inland were caught by winter, they would starve to death. They must be saved! He had no authority to act for the Crown, nor had he funds with which to build roads. But he took charge and adopted a bold stratagem. He enlisted 500 men to work without pay in building a freight road from the head of Harrison Lake to Lillooet. He induced them each to deposit twenty-five dollars to ensure good conduct while working without remuneration. This money was to be returned when the work was completed—in supplies. In the meantime the deposits provided the funds for the work.

The road-builders started in July, and by November 14 freight was being unloaded at Lillooet on the Fraser. In that time 108 miles of road had been built, more than one hundred bridges and culverts had been constructed, and three water-portages had been established on Lillooet, Anderson, and Seaton Lakes. Incidently, by means of a toll on freight, the entire cost was liquidated by the following spring.

Steamboats now began to operate on the Fraser, some to Fort Hope, and then to Fort Yale, while other trips were made into the Harrison and to Port Douglas, at the head of Harrison Lake, from which the road started. With the opening of navigation to Yale, a mule trail was projected through the canyons. By fall, however, many decided to go south, rather than face the winter; others were disappointed at ill success, and gradually the mining population declined. But in six months the bars of the Fraser produced $750,000 in gold, which was more than California yielded in the first half-year of that field.


The unrestrained influx of thousands of gold-seekers to the Fraser River in the spring of 1858 so alarmed Governor Douglas that he wrote to Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, then Colonial Secretary: "If the country be thrown open to indiscriminate immigration the interests of the Empire may suffer from the introduction of a foreign population, whose sympathies may be decidedly anti-British." Continuing, he said he "would recommend that a small naval or military force should be placed at the disposal of this Government, to enable us to maintain peace, and to enforce obedience to the laws."

In asking such a force for Vancouver's Island, Douglas was contemplating administration of the Mainland from there. He did not know that plans were formulating in London for a new colony.

But his request for a peace-enforcing body was responded to by Lytton's message of July 1 that the Admiralty had instructed that "the officers commanding Her Majesty's Vessels at Vancouver's Island will be directed to give you all the support in their power, and to render their crews, and more especially the Marines, serviceable, as far as circumstances will allow, if the Civil Government should require a force to maintain order among the adventurers resorting to the Gold Fields."

A month later (July 30) Sir Edward supplemented this promise of aid with a letter saying, "Her Majesty's Government propose sending to British Columbia, by earliest opportunity, an officer of Royal Engineers (probably a Field Officer), with two or three subalterns, and a company of Sappers and Miners, made up of 150 men, non-commissioned officers and men." But this was not the only force ordered to the Pacific Coast, for the Admiralty commanded H.M.S. 'Tribune' to pick up 160 supernumerary marines at Hong Kong and take them to Esquimalt. They arrived on February 13, 1859.

The Imperial Government, recognizing the urgency of the situation, decided that a separate colonial government was necessary for the Mainland and introduced legislation authorizing a new Crown Colony. Queen Victoria, personally, named it "British Columbia."

In launching government, under the circumstances incidental to a wild gold-stampede in a country inhabited by untamed and warlike natives, it was necessary to have an outstanding and fearless man. Such was at hand, in the person of James Douglas, and no other was considered. Lytton wrote offering him the post, and allowing him to retain the governorship of the Island, but insisting that he must sever all connection with the Hudson's Bay Company. So it was that the boy of fifteen who had come out to the Canadian wilds forty years before rose to a place of double confidence under the Crown.

Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton busied himself in setting up the framework for the new government. He announced that Colonel R. C. Moody would be Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, in addition to commanding the Royal Engineers; Matthew Baillie Begbie, a lawyer, was appointed Supreme Court Justice; Wymond O. Hamley was to be in charge of customs; and a police force was to be formed under Chartres Brew, as Inspector.

In addition to Colonel Moody, the Engineers were officered by Captain J. M. Grant, noted for his constructive ability; Captain R. M. Parsons, recognized for his mastery over scientific phases of engineering; Captain H. R. Luard, to handle strictly military functions, and Lieutenants A. R. Lemprière and H. S. Palmer, with J. V. Seddall as surgeon.

The Royal Engineers came in three sections; the first, under Captain Parsons, with twenty men, arrived via Panama on October 29; the second, commanded by Captain Grant, of twelve men arrived November 8; the main party, via the clipper ship 'Thames City', under Captain Luard, reached Esquimalt on April 12, 1859. Colonel Moody arrived at Victoria in time for Christmas dinner, on December 25, 1858. He also had come via Panama.


James Douglas, while waiting for the arrival of his commission as Governor of British Columbia, was active. He planned to advance the organization of public affairs as far as possible: to have everything in readiness for the great inaugural ceremony. He appointed several minor officials and instructed that townsites be laid out at Forts Yale, Hope and Langley. He gave particular thought to the last-named: a site was there where civilization on the Coast had started and where he hoped to see a great commercial city arise.

Some enterprising speculators in Victoria held a similar view. They squatted on the land and had it surveyed, announcing that the "city" would be called "Derby." Douglas was wrathful: he vented his anger in a very practical way. He seized the property and the survey for the Crown. Here work was started, building barracks for the Engineers, a court house, jail, and other public buildings. Captain Grant, of the Royal Engineers, did not like the location, and so declared in a report prior to the arrival of his superior, Colonel Moody, who confirmed Grant's view later and selected the site of New Westminster as a colonial capital. Douglas's idea was that Derby would make a good business community.

The towering, black-bearded young lawyer, Begbie, arrived at Victoria on November 15, to be told that he must leave the next day with Douglas, Admiral Baynes, Vancouver's Island's Chief Justice Cameron, and others, to participate in the inauguration of the Colony at Fort Langley four days later.

November 19 was a cold, wet, miserable day. Rain dripped from leaden skies; the "HBCo"-marked Red Ensign hung soddenly from the flagpole; puddles formed in the fort square, and footsteps were marked in deep mud. It had been intended a gala affair would be held in front of the log buildings of Fort Langley, with fluttering flags, and fanfares, and uniformed Royal Engineers acting as a guard of honour. But the chill and wet of the day drove all within doors. There, in the great room of "the Big House"—as the officers' quarters were called—as many as possible crowded together to witness the birth of British Columbia.

Governor Douglas, in his capacity as Queen's representative on Vancouver's Island, administered the oath of office to Begbie. The commission appointing Douglas as Governor of the Crown Colony of British Columbia, created in conformity with Act of Parliament, was read, and then, as the first official act of "Mr. Justice Begbie," the head of British Columbia's courts swore in James Douglas as Governor. There were one or two other officials installed in office. Then three proclamations were read: one of them indemnified those who had been conducting affairs prior to that day on the Mainland; British Law was proclaimed as the law of the Colony; and the other ended all special privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company.

It was a most important day. That ceremony in the close, steaming room, in the old log-building behind the pickets of Fort Langley, saw the rule of the old fur-company give way to that of the Crown, and all the time-tested laws of Great Britain to that very moment become the right and heritage of those who then resided or who would in future come to the Colony. It was fitting, too, that these rights and liberties should be announced at Fort Langley, for it was in the first post of that name in 1827 that civilization had gained permanent foothold in the savage wilderness of the Pacific Coast.

On the river, in front of the fort, the old pioneer steamer 'Beaver' greeted the birth of the Colony with her guns. It was in her engine-room that day that a mace was cut from thin metal, when it was found that no emblem of authority for Government had been provided. With a pair of tin shears an engineer clipped out an arrow-shaped "mace" about a foot in length, and it served as effectively as an ornate and costly symbol.


While British Columbia was emerging as a Crown Colony, as a result of the gold rush to the Fraser River, Vancouver's Island—and especially Victoria and vicinity—was being transformed. The sleepy little community that clustered about the fort pickets had become a bustling, noisy town of several thousands.

The spring and summer of 1858 had witnessed muddy trails take shape as equally muddy streets, lined with shacks, and wooden stores, and wood and brick hotels with their saloons. Towne & Company brought a press and type from San Francisco and started a well-edited paper, the Victoria Gazette. A French-language paper, Le Courier, appeared briefly. It was later in the year that the British Colonist was started by an eccentric Nova Scotian named Smith, who had had his name changed by legislative action in the United States to Amor de Cosmos. He was a demagogue, who was to write a large part of the country's history in the next thirty-five years.

Traders of all kinds bartered their wares; speculators talked and urged investment and purchase in all sorts of schemes and commodities; and builders found plenty to do in pushing up the boom-town, despite the jump in lumber prices from fifteen dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars per thousand feet.

"Land speculation is going on at a great rate at Victoria," R. C. Mayne of H.M.S. 'Plumper' wrote in his journal. "The number of diggers, emigrants and land speculators that have arrived since we left in March is wonderful and indeed the change which has come over the face of the Island is quite surprising." He wrote on June 19, "The five acre lots here [Esquimalt] which were bought for £5 are now worth nearly as many hundreds. Crittle, a labourer here, got £63 for one acre of his the other day, and yesterday McDonald sold sixteen acres for which he had paid £16 for $2,000 or about £416.13."

Mayne, who later wrote a book about the colonies, described the arrival of the British party that was to engage in a joint survey of the demarcation of the international boundary. They reached Esquimalt on July 12, the party including "Major Hawkins, R.E.; Capt. Haig, R.A. (astronomer); Lieut. Darrah, R.E. (Assist. Astronomer); Lieut. Wilson, R.E. (Secretary and in charge of troops); Mr. Lord (naturalist) and Mr. Bannerman (geologist), and fifty-five sappers and miners." The sailor was astounded at the amount of baggage carried by these military men. He noted that they had, in their medical stores, eight pounds of quinine, and he exclaimed, "this ship's allowance for five years being two ounces!"

A police force was formed under A. F. Pemberton, as commissioner, and had to handle a hard set of men, some of whom were wanted by the Vigilantes of California. Robberies, fights and even murders occurred. On one occasion it was necessary to call for naval aid to support the police. Mayne tells of it in his journal:

"July 29, 1858—We had a false alarm this evening which ended gloriously in a bottle and supper barring the bottle. About half past seven, Bedwell came riding down from the Fort to say there was a row and that the Governor wanted an armed force: we immediately got steam up, took the sappers on board and went round. When we got there and landed we found all quiet and the Governor just going to bed. He was however 'unearthed' and we took one unfortunate wretch prisoner and then had supper in the Fort, Mr. Douglas presiding. The next morning the ship was brought inside the harbour and moored to the HBC wharf to show the rowdies that we were ready for them."

Rowdyism was encouraged by the Honourable John Nugent, special representative of President Buchanan, who came to report on the two Colonies. He demanded full ambassadorial privileges, and when Douglas, courteously, but firmly, refused to enter into personal correspondence with him, Nugent became extremely insulting. He issued a proclamation to Americans residing in the Colonies promising them the protection of the United States against the "injustices" that Douglas was heaping upon them. One such injustice was a refusal to permit American lawyers to practise in colonial courts.

Sir James Douglas
Sir James Douglas

"He was the servant of the Crown, holding office to administer the Colony in its best interest and to establish law and order and Queen's justice in an unruly realm. He lived the part, and retired respected and honoured by the community. It is not given to many to achieve as much."

A. S. Morton,
History of the Canadian West.

Yates Street, 1860; The Parliament Buildings, 1898
Yates Street, 1860; The Parliament Buildings, 1898

1 Yates Street, Victoria, about 1860. On this block was the famous tobacco store of G. Sutro and Macdonald's Bank. The Bank's failure following a robbery in 1864, contributed to a depression which led to the union of the two colonies

2 The Parliament Buildings at Victoria, about 1898. The original Buildings built by James Douglas in 1859, appear in the foreground of this picture. They were later torn down

Amor de Cosmos, John Muir
Amor de Cosmos, John Muir

Amor de Cosmos was the editor of the 'British Colonist' and an ardent supporter of union with Canada. He became Premier of the Province in 1872

John Muir became in 1849, the first superintendent of the coal-mines at Nanaimo. He later settled on the estate of the unfortunate Captain Grant


"Captain" P. B. Whannell, magistrate at Yale, assumed his rank and an exaggerated idea of his importance; George Perrier, corresponding official at Hill's Bar, was just as conscious of his dignity and power as was "his brother of the bench" at Yale. When these two judicial popinjays disputed their respective jurisdictions, the army was called out, and the Colony of British Columbia was almost bankrupted.

Following a Christmas Day fight, Whannell issued a general warrant for two men who had beaten a negro named Dixon, and locked up Dixon as a material witness. The two men, Burns and Farrell, were arrested a day or two later at Hill's Bar and were brought before Magistrate Perrier. It was just before the New Year of 1859 and cold, but Perrier was anxious to keep the wheels of justice moving. He sent his constable, Hickson, to ask "Judge" Whannell to release Dixon so that he could proceed with the case.

Instead of agreeing to Perrier's request, Whannell put Hickson the constable in jail on a charge of contempt of the Yale court, and of its Magnificent Magistrate. When proud Perrier heard of this he was angry. He swore in a dozen special police, headed by Ned McGowan—a notorious character from California who had at one time been the object of search by the Vigilante Committee of that State—and sent them to Yale with instructions to release Hickson and arrest Whannell for insulting the Hill's Bar temple of justice. The objectives were effected by Ned and his men, and Whannell was fined twenty-five dollars to teach him manners.

Considerable excitement followed and letters were sent off telling of the events that had happened. The most lurid letter, naturally, went from Magistrate Whannell to Captain Grant of the Royal Engineers, at Derby, calling for military protection.

It was early January, several days after Grant had received the call, when the steamer 'Beaver' arrived with Colonel R. C. Moody, R.E., and Mr. Justice Begbie. The Supreme Court judge later wrote:

"The reputation of Edward McGowan, a citizen of United States named in such letter as a leader of the alleged outrages, being very notorious I agreed with the Lieut. Gov. [Moody] that as a military commander thus summoned by a magistrate ... there could be but one course to follow, viz., to proceed to the scene of action."

Having obtained the best legal advice available, Colonel Moody, with twenty-four Royal Engineers, a force of special police under Inspector Chartres Brew, and the Judge, boarded the steamer 'Enterprise' and started up the river. In the meantime, Governor Douglas, at Victoria, had heard of the "war" started by McGowan (who got all the blame in public reports) and requisitioned aid from the navy. One hundred bluejackets and marines from H.M.S. 'Satellite' were placed on H.M.S. 'Plumper' under Lieutenant Gooch. The 'Plumper' hurried as fast she could across the Gulf and up the river, but was unable to travel up-stream rapidly. Gooch sent Lieutenant Mayne ahead by canoe. In the meantime the 'Enterprise' had been stuck for some time in the ice, above Harrison River, but at last managed to get as far as Fort Hope. Here, upon learning that all seemed to be quiet at Yale, the soldiers were left; Colonel Moody and Judge Begbie went on ahead.

It was Sunday when they were at Yale, having arrived the previous night, and Moody held divine service there, which some forty miners attended. The next day, an investigation was made. Judge Begbie concluded that neither magistrate was fitted for his office, and he suspended Perrier. McGowan—who in his variegated past had once been on the bench—defended himself with ability. He had but carried out the orders of the court.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Gooch and his naval reinforcements had reached Hope. When Ned McGowan again caused a disturbance by assaulting a man, the Engineers and Marine were ordered to Yale. Their presence demonstrated that the authorities meant to maintain law and order. McGowan was fined for the assault.

The cost of the affair, Douglas complained, had almost ruined the Colony's finances.


Colonel R. C. Moody, supporting the opinion previously given to Governor Douglas by Captain J. M. Grant of the unsuitability of Derby as the place for the principal town of British Columbia, declared that from a military standpoint it was indefensible against attack, especially from the United States. Moody selected the high ground on the opposite side of the river, where the Fraser divided into the main river and North Arm. With this choice, though not without reluctance, Douglas agreed.

It was a most difficult terrain to clear for a town, being covered with a tangle of small growth over heavy windfalls, vines and big trees. Here, however, work was started, and a camp for the sappers and miners was constructed, giving to the location the name of "Sapperton." When the streets had been surveyed and mapped a sale of town lots was advertised. This was held by auction and realized £18,877. Persons who had bought Derby lots were permitted to transfer their investment. This resulted in the utter collapse of Douglas's dream city.

Selim Franklin, the auctioneer, announced at the sale that the proceeds would be used to clear and grade the streets, and he added, on information from Colonel Moody, that this would be done without loss of time. It was not possible to fulfil this promise, perhaps because of the American seizure of San Juan Island, which reduced his effective working force by about half, as the Royal Marines attached to his Royal Engineers were withdrawn to be ready if a clash ensued.

Not much credit has been given to the 139 Royal Marines who worked at New Westminster for about five months. Admiral R. L. Baynes, however, in a letter to the Admiralty, championing them, said:

"To make the subject clear ... I beg to state that on the detachment arriving on the 13th February at Esquimalt, Vancouver's Island, in the 'Tribune', 139 officers and men were sent to British Columbia and placed under Colonel Moody, Royal Engineers, and twenty-five officers and men remained at Esquimalt and Victoria.

"The former party were in British Columbia until the beginning of August of that year, when the Governor previously to my arrival, ordered them down to San Juan. During that time the men were employed under Colonel Moody in clearing the site for New Westminster, making roads and in heavy and laborious work."

At first Moody intended to name the Colonial Capital "Queen's Borough," but Victorians thought that this would detract from the pride that was theirs as being the only place named for the Queen. It was suggested that "Queensborough"—honouring all queens—would be preferable. The argument was finally settled by Queen Victoria herself, who named it "New Westminster": hence it is often designated as "The Royal City" in remembrance of her gracious attention.

There were more lots to be sold. Selim Franklin arranged for a new auction in the spring of 1860, but he could not proceed. An indignant crowd blamed him for the streets not having been cleared. On May 2, however, they permitted Edgar Dewdney to hold a successful sale, when he disposed of land to the value of £5,350.

Shortly after this, Governor Douglas, who lived on the Island, visited New Westminster. The residents approached him with the request that the community be incorporated. This suited the Governor, for it meant that they would plan and pay for their own improvements. So, on July 16, 1860, New Westminster was granted self-government, becoming the senior municipality of the Colony, although there was a temporary town council at Yale a month before the New Westminster council.

Strange as it may seem, Colonel Moody wanted to run for the council, but was reproved by Douglas who pointed out that it would not be compatible with his office of Commissioner of Lands and Works, or with his appointment as Lieutenant-Governor, to seek election.


Various reasons have been advanced from time to time for the invasion in 1859 of the Island of San Juan by a force commanded by Captain George Pickett, Ninth Infantry, U.S. Army, on orders from Brigadier-General W. S. Harney, of the Oregon Military District. A popular story is that the incident of the shooting of Charlie Griffin's pig, by Lyman Cutler, an American settler, led to a difference over judicial jurisdiction, terminating in the seizure of the Island. Another story is that both Harney and Pickett were Southerners, and sought to embroil the Republic in a war with Canada to head off the impending Civil War. Pickett later achieved fame as a general for the South in that internecine conflict. Whatever the cause at that time, there is no doubt that it came perilously close to war.

The boundary treaty of 1846 had stated that the boundary should consist of the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to tidewater. It was then to follow the main channel to the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from where it was to continue to the sea. The treaty did not stipulate which of three channels was intended. By one interpretation San Juan and other desirable islands were in British territory, and by another, in the United States. As early as 1853 United States authorities sought to claim them, and in 1855 Sheriff Elias Barnes of Whatcom County seized thirty-four sheep belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, in lieu of Washington territorial taxes. There had been groundwork of suspicion and distrust laid for the subsequent flare-up.

General Harney paid a visit to Victoria early in July, 1859. It so happened that fourteen U.S. nationals on the Island celebrated the "Glorious Fourth," and left the Stars and Stripes flying at the top of a tall staff they had erected for the occasion. General Harney, returning to Olympia, saw the flag and landed. The patriotic settlers told him that they were afraid of raids by northern Indians, and also that they wished protection from British impositions. The story of the pig was told with all possible ornamentation.

General Harney mulled over this information for some time. He ordered Captain Pickett with Company D to land and give protection to United States citizens. The landing was made on July 27. When word of it reached Victoria, Governor Douglas prepared to repel the Americans; he ordered H.M.S. 'Tribune', Captain G. P. Hornby, to make a landing, and ordered H.M.S. 'Satellite' to bring up the Royal Marines quartered at New Westminster. Hornby was a cool-headed and cautious man, who did not wish to start a major war. He anchored off San Juan, but made no landing.

Victoria was in a fever of excitement; the House of Assembly rattled the sabre and demanded action, but Douglas was cooling down as a result of Captain Hornby's quiet attitude. Then, luckily for peace, Admiral R. L. Baynes, a wise and careful Scot, arrived on his flagship. He ridiculed the idea of two great powers fighting over a small island.

Washington was much aghast at the news of Harney's conquest. The Secretary of State hastened to assure Lord Lyons, British Minister, that the General's despatch had been read by the President, both with surprise and regret. General Winfield Scott, commander-in-chief, hastened to Puget Sound He opened talks with Governor Douglas and suggested joint occupancy. Douglas replied that he had no instructions from England.

After a period of friendly discussions, it was at last arranged that both nations would keep token forces on San Juan until the matter of the sovereignty of the Island was decided by the Governments concerned. Pickett was withdrawn, and a more temperate officer, Captain Hunt, replaced him. A force of eighty marines and officers, under Captain George Bazalgette, landed to establish the British camp on March 20, 1860. The marines remained there until November 25, 1872, when the German Emperor, as arbiter of the dispute over the boundary, gave the island to the United States.


When the Imperial Government reviewed the first ten years of the management of Vancouver's Island by the Hudson's Bay Company, it was decided that the Crown should repossess the Colony, as provided in the experimental arrangement between the Government and Company in 1849. The rule of the Company ended in 1859, but it took some years to settle financial matters between them and to determine land holdings.

There had been popular outcry, since the beginning of the colony—and usually without cause—against the dominant position of the Company. Now it was expected that a Utopian state would result from the administrative change. As months passed without the land-title situation being amended, Amor de Cosmos penned vitriolic editorials in the British Colonist laying the blame for the delay at the doorstep of Governor Douglas. He charged that Douglas was the head of a "Family Compact" that was running the Colony for its own purposes.

Douglas, despite the abuse heaped upon him, never deigned to answer the accusations. Later de Cosmos was to find that all the time he had been blasting the Governor for allegedly favouring the Company, Douglas had been battling to obtain as much as possible for the public.

When Douglas retired as Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, he was succeeded in control of the Company's affairs on the Pacific Coast by A. G. Dallas, a young and capable Scot, sent out from London. He had not been long in the country when he married one of Douglas's charming daughters but this relationship did not give an advantage to either man in business dealings. Douglas sought to obtain all he could for the Colony; Dallas, to protect the interests of the Hudson's Bay Company.

When Victoria jumped overnight from a humdrum fur-trading post to a hustling, bustling, gold-rush centre, government offices were largely housed within the fort. The Governor realized that administrative requirements demanded proper accommodation. The first Governor, Blanshard, had occupied land now covered by the modern post office at Yates and Government Streets. This had been reserved for governmental use. Douglas had plans prepared for legislative buildings on the site, but further study convinced him that the area was too restricted to permit expansion in the future.

The Government owned ten acres on the south shore of James Bay. This Douglas thought would be an ideal site, for which he had new plans prepared for the legislative and administrative offices required. The buildings were of brick and wood design, with pagoda-like roofs, and became vulgarly known in after years as "The Birdcages." With these plans completed, he decided to raise finances for construction by selling the Government Street lands. They were surveyed into lots and were advertised for sale by auction.

At this juncture Dallas informed the Governor that he could not sell the property, for he could not deliver title. While it was true, he admitted, that the Government itself could continue to occupy them, no conveyance had been made by the Hudson's Bay Company. Douglas answered that the sale must go on: it had been advertised and the honour of the Crown was pledged to carry it out. He argued that the Company could not dispose of the land as it was reserved for use by the Government. He finally offered to quitclaim the Government right if the Company would issue proper conveyance to the purchasers. Dallas thought he had cornered the older man.

The auction went off as advertised. It brought in roughly $27,500. With this money Douglas started to build. First he constructed a bridge joining Government Street and Birdcage Walk, then the public buildings. They were nearly completed, when one day Dallas asked the Governor when the Company might expect payment of the money for the up-town lots. "Never," was the reply, and Douglas went on to explain that by giving the quitclaim to the area, the Government considered it had liquidated all liability. So it was that the first, ornate legislative buildings cost the Colony nothing in cash.


William E. Banfield was a very early settler on the coast. He first came to Vancouver's Island as a member of the crew of H.M.S. 'Constance' in 1846, and took his discharge there three years later to start trading with the natives on the West Coast. He learned their languages and came to know their customs. He was subsequently named Indian Agent by Governor Douglas. Today he is so far forgotten that his name has been corrupted to "Bamfield" where it was originally applied out of respect for him.

Always willing to aid in the development of the Coast, he was of great assistance in establishing the first industrial settlement at Alberni. Captain Edward Stamp, who had engaged in shipping spars from Puget Sound to England for British interests, in 1860 procured a large grant at the head of Alberni Canal for lumbering. He and his English backers planned a large sawmill.

Banfield, in reporting the arrival of the first group of nine men, wrote the Colonial Secretary from his home at Ohiat, July 3, 1860: "I accompanied the party up the Canal to make everything go as smooth as possible between them and the natives." For their guidance he wrote out a set of rules in their dealings with the Indians. "The natives have also promised not to annoy them, but Sir, I shall visit them at short intervals and use my influence with either party should any dispute take place."

His code of conduct included: interdiction on the sale of intoxicants; avoidance of "any foolish sky-larking"; strict respect for native customs, and "no indiscreet use of firearms." Any real or fancied annoyances, he insisted, should be reported to him.

Less than a week elapsed before there was such a report. The settlers were alarmed at the presence of Indians, and asked him to come to protect them. He found that the Indians were in good humour, but inquisitive. The whites, not understanding the native curiosity, were preparing to leave.

"I entreated them to stop," he told the Government: "that there was no danger, and that I would leave my place at Ohiat and remain with them, consequently I have judged it best to remove to Somass.... I feel that it is of vital importance that the first settlement in these localities shall be rendered as little objectionable as possible until the people get accustomed to such wild modes of life."

On September 6 he was able to report that Stamp and Gilbert Malcolm Sproat had landed five days before with "twelve mechanics, oxen and merchandise ... and on the following day proceeded to make a treaty with the natives—Sheshat Tribe.... The land selected for a mill site and buildings was quietly ceded to him after some slight hesitation.... Captain Stamp made them a present of some fifty blankets, muskets, molasses and food, trinkets, etc. I explained to the chiefs the nature of Capt. Stamp's settling among them, which they thoroughly comprehended, and all present profess entire satisfaction."

Such was the manner in which the natives sold the site for the first sawmill on the West Coast. There a fine mill went into operation, and farms were cultivated. Alberni flourished for the next three or four years. But Banfield, who had contributed so much to its success, saw only a portion of its period of brief prosperity, for he was foully murdered in October of 1862 by Indians, who escaped punishment—and Banfield was forgotten.

Sproat succeeded Stamp in the year of Banfield's death, and on November 1, 1864, he wrote the Colonial Secretary announcing that the mill must close, "for there is no wood in the district sufficient to supply the wants of a large mill."

To those who know modern Alberni and its companion city, Port Alberni, and the great output of lumber, plywood and pulp for the mighty mills there, such a reason seems absurd. But in those pioneer days, logs had to be felled almost directly into the water where they could be towed to the mill.


Gold was found in the Similkameen River in the fall of 1859 by men attached to the North West Boundary Commission surveying the line of latitude 49° and establishing the international border. Early the next spring there was a rush of men from the United States to the area. This worried Governor Douglas, who feared that all the trade from the diggings would go out of the country.

Douglas advised the miners at Hope to send men into the Interior border country, and in order to assist in opening the country ordered a trail to be made. In the summer of 1860 he learned of even greater excitement at Rock Creek. He went there himself. He had heard that the miners were a wild unruly lot. Reporting to the British Government on his trip, he said: "We arrived at the town known as Rock Creek situated at the junction of that stream and Colvile River. The town contains fifteen houses, and several more in progress, chiefly shops and buildings intended for the supply and entertainment of miners. Nearly 500 miners are congregated about Rock Creek and another tributary of the Colvile, about ten miles below that point.

"The Rock Creek diggings were discovered last October by Mr. Adam Beam, a native of Canada, as he was travelling from Colvile to Shilkomeen [sic]; he again visited the spot in December, but did not begin to work till the 7th of May." Continuing, the Governor said that Beam recovered $271 in the first seven days of his mining, and $977 in the first six weeks. He quoted other successes as indicating the wealth of the locality.

Douglas addressed the miners. At first they were reluctant to hear him, but eventually they assembled, and gave him a courteous hearing. He told them that he had come there because of the stories he had heard of their lawlessness. "And I assured them I was agreeably surprised to find that those reports were unfounded." He then explained the mining and pre-emption laws, assured them of the protection of British laws, and at the same time insisted upon full respect for the laws. He told them that they must pay duties on all imported goods, and appointed Captain William Cox Assistant Gold Commissioner and Stipendiary Magistrate.

Cox was a sport-loving Irishman, a former officer in the army. He was somewhat of a nonconformist in matters judicial: on one occasion he settled a dispute over claim staking by having the disputants run a foot-race. A typical excerpt from one of his letters shows the casual character of the man:

"A young Englishman was lately convicted of robbing sluices on Rock Creek.... He candidly confessed his guilt and was permitted five minutes to prepare and ten minutes to quit the town. We all assisted in the ceremony of drumming out, the miners in the first place compelling him to liquidate his debt."

The report is eloquent in what it does not say: how did the thief quit the camp? It would also be interesting to know whether he was tried by legal process, or by mob law. That there was a mob is certain and the magistrate frankly admits he helped in the "drumming out."

Then on another occasion Cox wrote the Colonial Secretary reporting that a French miner had been murdered by an Indian. The killer he said had escaped across the border and gone to the Okanogon Valley in American territory. Fifty miners, Cox explained, had mounted horses and followed him. American Indians handed him over, and the avengers had hanged him to a pine-tree. The magistrate said he had not witnessed the lynching of the Indian—but he did not deny that he was there.

Rock Creek settled down to the ordinary life of a mining-camp, producing moderately, but every mining rumour of a new strike drew miners from it. Then when the fabulous discoveries of Cariboo became known, Rock Creek declined, and eventually Magistrate Cox was moved to Cariboo.


In the summer of 1859 rumours drifted down the Fraser that coarse gold had been found above distant Fort Alexandria. Assistant Gold Commissioner T. Elwyn, at Cayoosh (Lillooet), did not know whether to believe the stories: he decided to make a hasty trip there to establish the veracity or falsity of the tales. On his return, he wrote to the Colonial Secretary that there was undoubtedly gold along the Fraser between Fort Alexandria and the Quesnel River, where men were making from eight dollars to ten dollars per day. What was of greater interest was that "some of the gold taken out of Quesnel River has not the appearance of having washed any distance." It was coarse—and gave credence to the predictions that the wealth of the lower river had been washed down, being the lighter metal flakes.

Governor Douglas was both grateful and angry. He was glad to get official confirmation of the richness of Quesnel River, but indignant that Elwyn should have quitted his post without permission.

Miners working the bars between Yale and Bridge River also heard the tempting stories, which oft repeated grew more attractive: they deserted their diggings and started north tramping with what supplies they could carry on their backs, to intersect the old fur brigade trail and follow it to Fort Alexandria. Soon every bar north of that to the Quesnel was occupied; all yielded something, and Ferguson Bar gave abundantly at shallow depth. It was soon populated by hundreds of men and among them an element of wild toughs who sought to dominate the camp and prey on the more peaceful miners.

The lawlessness of Ferguson Bar was reported to Philip H. Nind, newly made Assistant Gold Commissioner and Magistrate with headquarters at Williams Lake. Accompanied by his sole constable, Pinchbeck by name, he hurried up the River. When he reached the Bar, it was to learn of the murder of an Indian for the amusement of two gunmen, of robberies and knifings that had brought a reign of terror to the place. Pinchbeck did not lose a minute; he arrested one of the worst of the offenders, and started after others, but they fled: two men clothed with the authority of the Queen's Justice had frightened the bullies away. Ferguson Bar became one of the quietest communities in the country, after Nind had brought Law to Cariboo.

Prospectors fanned out from Quesnel River and found Cariboo Lake. "Doc" Keithley and companions examined a creek flowing into the lake. It panned well, and responded handsomely to rocker tests. Keithley Creek, the first of the famous "big pay streams" of Cariboo, had been located.

It was in the fall of 1860 that John Rose and a party, including Keithley, found a new creek, some twenty-five miles away. It was so rich that the four men in the party could not believe their senses. It was reported that the first pan of gravel gave twenty-five dollars in gold, and another went as high as seventy-five dollars. Discovery was followed by a spectacular, mad stampede in dead winter to the place. Men staked claims in six feet of snow, and burrowed holes in the thick white covering in which to sleep.

It was from Antler Creek that Snowshoe and Cunningham and other creeks came to notice, but of them all—and they all paid—none could compare with the stream that Bill Deitz and his party came across. They started to pan at different places on the stream and met to compare the results in the evening. Deitz had found gravels that yielded as high as a dollar twenty-five to the pan. He had found the rich spot above the canyon on the Creek; below, though there were attractive values, not one could compare with Bill's find. Chatting about their camp-fire they speculated on a name. Deitz laughingly suggested that it be named for him. The others agreed, provided that he purchased the first bottle of champagne that came into the locality, with which to christen it—and so "William's Creek"—now spelled without the apostrophe—was named. Later, when it appeared to be disappointing, it was sarcastically called "Hum-bug Creek." But when it was found that beneath the hard blue clay there was a glittering layer of gold, "William's Creek" became world famous.


Victoria had settled down to easy-going prosaic ways after the first wild stampede to the Fraser River: now it was thrown once more into feverish activity by the news from Cariboo. Men quit their jobs to join the rush; stores ordered new stocks; express and forwarding companies were organized, and experienced men scoured the country for horses and mules for pack-trains. Later an attempt was made to cover the long trail to the mines with camel carriers, but the exotic beasts so frightened other brutes of burden they met on the road that they had to be withdrawn from service.

As steamers arrived at Victoria from the Mainland, men crowded to the waterfront to welcome them and pester the passengers for the latest word from Cariboo. Every scrap of information was seized upon, and when miners staggered ashore weighted with gold, they were followed to Wells, Fargo & Co. or the bank of their choice, where the treasure was placed for safe keeping. Then when the lucky owner emerged he would be surrounded for questioning.

No person was more anxious for details about the mines than was Governor Douglas, whose dignity would not permit him to join in a vulgar scramble for data. Each titbit of information he forwarded to London. His despatch to the Duke of Newcastle, June 4, 1861, was characteristic: "We are daily receiving the most extraordinary accounts of the almost fabulous wealth of the Antler Creek and Cariboo diggings. Mr. Palmer, a respectable merchant, who arrived the other day from that part of the country with nearly fifty pounds weight of gold, which he kindly allowed me to examine, assured me that these accounts are by no means exaggerated.... Mr. Barnston, another respectable traveller from Cariboo, corroborated Mr. Palmer's testimony."

In September he wrote: "Some idea may be formed of the large sums realized from the fact that 195 ounces of gold were taken in one day out of a single mining claim, while ordinary claims yield as much as forty and fifty dollars a day to the man."

Douglas could hardly keep up with the good news: Laurent Bijou, a Frenchman, had made $4,500 in a month; the Patterson brothers from Maine collected $6,000 and verified the story of the 195 ounces as gold found on the Abbott and Jordan claim; Richard Willoughby discovered Lowhee Creek, named after a secret society, and returned to Yale with $12,000. Brown, one of the original discoverers of Williams Creek, told the Governor that Ned Campbell had started mining on a new creek called "Lightning" which went two ounces to the pan in prospecting, and as high as 1,100 ounces in a day!

Though Douglas might question this story, he could not doubt the amazing evidence given by Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie, writing from Cariboo on September 25, 1861: "I have no doubt that there is little short of a ton lying at the different creeks. I hear that Abbott's and Steele's claims are working better than ever—thirty to forty pounds a day each; they reckon rich claims as often by pounds as ounces now; it must be a poor claim that is measured in dollars." The Judge added, "On many claims the gold is a perfect nuisance, as they have to carry it from their cabins to their claims every morning, and watch it while they work, and carry it back again (sometimes as much as two men can lift) to their cabins at night, and watch it while they sleep."

Any doubts that Douglas may have had about the remarkable production of Ned Campbell's claim on Lightning were dissipated by official returns that gave "1st day, 900 ounces, 2nd day, 500 ounces; 3rd day, 300 ounces, and other days proportionally rich."

Old California miners told him that they had never seen such concentrated wealth on any creek—and the Governor was satisfied.


Vancouver Island had plenty of political excitement, as it was bound to have with an Assembly full of its own importance, and a demagogue of the type of Amor de Cosmos to keep the pot of public opinion agitated. Members of the House were not paid, but there were always candidates in plenty except at Nanaimo. There the trouble was to get anyone to accept office.

Dr. John Kennedy, "elected" in 1856 for Nanaimo, did not sit in the Assembly. He died in 1859, and an election was authorized for his successor. Dr. Alfred Benson, the returning officer, called upon the citizens to assemble in front of the Bastion on May 20 to nominate and elect a member. But he forgot to say at what hour the gathering was to be held. The result was that Captain C. E. Stuart, representative at Nanaimo for the HBC, was the only man to attend. He nominated George Barnston and voted for him. There was no other vote cast. Barnston was declared elected. The citizens made protest at the "hole-in-a-corner" poll. So Benson declared it all off, and held another meeting, which was largely attended, but once more only Captain Stuart voted and Barnston was again elected.

"Independent" members of the Assembly, though not objecting to Barnston personally, announced they would not sit in the Chamber with the product of such proceedings. So Barnston refused to take the seat. Nanaimo once more was not represented. So the third "election" was held on June 23. This time Stuart nominated Captain John Swanson, of the HBC steamer 'Labouchere', and the single vote was once more given to the man of his choice. No other person had the necessary twenty pounds' worth of property as a voter. But when the gallant Swanson heard of his elevation to the Chamber he was not complimented, and indignantly resigned. Nanaimo was still unrepresented. This time there was a little canvassing in preparation. A. R. Green of Victoria was willing to accept office; so Benson and Stuart repeated their well rehearsed ceremony and Green was seated.

The following year there was another election, which probably brought joy to the dignified Douglas, for it discomfited his arch-enemy, Amor de Cosmos. There was a chance, Amor thought of beating George Tomline Gordon in Esquimalt, and de Cosmos was very anxious to become a member. The editor of the British Colonist, having changed his name in California, was not sure that British law would recognize the right of the state legislature to make the alteration. So the crafty "lover of the world" proposed to take no chances; he had himself nominated as "William Alexander Smith, commonly known as Amor De Cosmos."

It was before the day of secret balloting. The contest was a keen one, and with only a few minutes before the polls closed the vote stood: George Tomline Gordon, 10; William Alexander Smith, commonly known as Amor De Cosmos, 10. Tension ran high; minutes passed, and then, while Sheriff Naylor, the returning officer, eyed his watch, two men half dragged an elderly and almost exhausted man to the voting-table. He gasped out his name; it was checked, and he was questioned: "For whom do you vote?" "For ... for ... for Amor de Cosmos," he panted, as the poll closed and de Cosmos threw out his chest, and prepared to make a speech.

Sheriff Naylor called for silence, and then: "I find that ten votes have been cast for George Tomline Gordon, and ten votes have been cast for William Alexander Smith, commonly known as Amor De Cosmos; and one vote has been cast for Amor De Cosmos, but as he is not a candidate, there is a tie between Mr. Gordon and Mr. William Alexander Smith, commonly known as Amor De Cosmos. It is my duty as returning officer to break the tie, so I cast my vote for George Tomline Gordon, whom I declare to be elected as member for this district."

So it was that the fire-eating editor was sunk by the weight and grandeur of his own name. And Governor Douglas wrote happily to London that the new House had been purged of members of "the Cosmos clique."


Governor Douglas was greatly concerned about improving transportation facilities to the interior gold-fields: he had already bettered trails through the Fraser Canyon and over the mountains to the Similkameen. Now he envisioned a great highway, extending from the sea to Cariboo and eventually going across the continent to distant Canada. There were two routes that might be taken to build the road up the Fraser: one by way of a trail that had been located through valleys removed somewhat from the river on the east side, as far as Boston Bar; the other starting from Yale up the west bank, and crossing the Fraser at some narrow point.

The Governor rather favoured the direct route. He had come to Hope to discuss the idea with its citizens. Having been advised of his coming, the residents appointed a committee of three to speak for them. They did. When Douglas suggested a toll of one-half cent a pound on freight over the proposed road, the committee protested vehemently: they told him that as roads were for the general good, payment should be made for their building from general revenue. They distinguished themselves. They did not notice the arrival of a delegation of three from Yale. These men, having heard the discussion, hurried away home. When Douglas the next day spoke to a meeting at Yale, and tentatively suggested a half-cent toll, there were cries, "Not enough; make it a cent."

The Cariboo Road, when built, started from Yale; the Hope-Boston Bar road was not constructed.

Colonel Moody's Royal Engineers set to work to survey a route through the rugged canyons. When the plans were completed, contracts were let. The Royal Engineers—a most capable force—constructed a road around the bluffs above Yale, where they blasted their way through solid rock for most of the way. The Royal Engineers also found a crossing for a bridge near Chapman's Bar, above Spuzzum.

It was a tremendous task that the infant Colony had undertaken, but a necessary one; for if mines were to develop, then supplies must be made available, and it was by the sale of supplies that New Westminster and Victoria were maintained. No time was lost, and 1862 saw all available men at work.

Thomas Spence was given the contract from Spuzzum to Chapman Bar; from there to Boston Bar, twelve miles, went to Joseph W. Trutch; and from that place to Lytton, Spence was again favoured. Oppenheimer, Moberly and Lewis took the contract from Lytton to Cook's Ferry on the Thompson, but ran into difficulty in keeping men from stampeding off to Cariboo. The result was that the Government took this work over, with Walter Moberly in charge. Spence was chartered to build a bridge to replace the ferry, and Trutch established the toll-bridge across the Fraser at the site selected by the Royal Engineers.

While this road was being rapidly pushed ahead, the pioneer route, which had been greatly improved in 1861 from Port Douglas on Harrison Lake to Lillooet, was extended. A contract was given to Gustavus Blin Wright to construct 224 miles of road from Lillooet to Fort Alexandria. He set to work with vigour and by July, 1863, had it completed as far as Soda Creek, and later in the year completed it to Fort Alexandria.

The road from Cook's Ferry was pushed through to intersect Wright's road at Clinton, and soon Cariboo had a double-headed exit. As soon as wheeled vehicles were put into service, freighting charges fell substantially. Express wagons, carrying passengers as well as parcels and mail, were put into service and drove at a fast rate, from mile-house to mile-house, as the wayside inns were designated by their distance from Lillooet. Camels failed when tested as carriers; and in the "seventies" steam-tractors were tried, but the puffing, smoking monsters, trailing loaded wagons, also frightened horses off the road. They, too, were abandoned.

The Cariboo Road was eventually built in to Barkerville. It has served British Columbia ever since it was constructed, and is still regarded as a great engineering achievement.


The year 1862 was a notable one for Victoria. The city was incorporated; there was a real-estate boom, business was good—and above all it was the year of femininity, when ships brought cargoes of marriageable females to gladden the homes and hearts of lonely bachelors.

It was no wonder, with such gracious importations, that the Legislative Assembly should become slightly mixed, and incorporate the terrain and not the residents of Victoria, the staid seniors of the Upper House discovered the absurdity and returned the bill to the red-faced Lower Chamber, which had to enact another and more suitable measure.

Thomas Harris, a weighty butcher, was elected mayor, and John Copland, James M. Reid, Richard Lewis, W. M. Searby, Michael Stronach and N. M. Hicks were chosen councillors. The first meeting was on August 25, and one of the first acts of the council was to seek to discover what help, financially and otherwise, might be expected from the Legislature. The same question has been propounded by successive councils ever since. In order to raise revenue for the city a licence bylaw was framed: it put imposts ranging from one pound to sixteen upon 536 businesses and callings divided into 124 categories. It was proposed to levy land taxes, but assessment rolls could not be made ready by the end of the first year; so the calling of an election was deferred. The Legislature extended the term of the first council until November 6. Doubts arose, however, as to the legality of acts performed and business transacted by the mayor and council between August, when the year ended, and November 6, and another bill was passed in the Assembly, indemnifying the Council.

Victoria was busy and prosperous during 1862 as a result of the discoveries in golden Cariboo. There was a real estate boom that sent prices sky-rocketing with each new bit of spectacular news from the mines. Lots that were sold for fifty dollars in 1858 now changed hands for thousands, while lots on business streets were leased at from two dollars to six dollars a front foot per month.

This happy, prosperous condition in both colonies was lacking in one thing: there were few unmarried females, and many lonely bachelors. Miss Angela Burdett Coutts, a most philanthropic heiress, and others in England took pity upon the men of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia. They provided funds, and a church committee was organized to send out desirable females as domestics. It was felt that, if this was done, Romance would complete Destiny. A committee, under the Rev. Edward Cridge, was set up in Victoria, to find suitable homes for the girls until they could locate husbands or permanent employment.

While these committees were at work, 'The Seaman's Bride', a sailing ship, set sail from Australia with a dozen adventurous young females. But the vessel put in to San Francisco, and the young gallants of the Golden Gate rushed down and married off the entire passenger list! Not so with the steamer 'Tynemouth', from England. There were some sixty girls on board, and a matron to watch over them. They were all young women of good reputation. The 'Tynemouth put into Esquimalt, and the fair ones were transferred to Victoria aboard H.M.S. 'Forward'. They were landed at James Bay and were marched to the accommodation provided for their temporary stay until they could be transferred to the homes that had arranged to take them in.

The 'Tynemouth' was followed by the 'Robert Lowe', which brought another consignment of "brides."

The first marriage is reported to have resulted from the boldness of a Romeo from Sooke, who, watching the parade from the landing-place of the 'Tynemouth''s cargo, stepped forward and gently took hold of the arm of one girl and asked her to become his wife. She consented—and the marriage turned out to be a very happy one. So it was with the majority of the girls who came on the "Bride Ships": they found worthy husbands and happiness in this new land, and founded fine families.


It was March 14, 1864—just twenty-one years from the day that he landed at Clover Point to begin the construction of Fort Victoria—and Sir James Douglas was laying down his duties as Governor of Vancouver's Island and was leaving for a brief sojourn in New Westminster. Crowds accompanied him through flag-decked streets to the dock, and cheered him as the steamer pulled away. Band music followed him out of the harbour. A month later he ended his term as Governor of British Columbia, and, as a private citizen, returned to Victoria to prepare for the first trip to Europe that he had taken since he left his Scottish homeland as a boy of fifteen to enter the fur trade in the wilds of North America.

Now that the "grand old governor," as he came to be known, was leaving, citizens of both colonies recollected how much they were indebted to him in the formative periods of their development. But throughout the years that had passed since he took office on the Island (in 1851) and on the Mainland (in 1858) he had been subjected to criticism, to false accusations and to slanderous attacks. Conscious of his own integrity, he made no public answer—and in this he was not fair, either to himself, or to the public at large.

Petitions had been circulated asking that he be recalled. On the Mainland he was accused of favouring the Island, where he resided, and where senior officials of British Columbia were also resident. At Victoria, led by the vociferous Amor de Cosmos, he was accused, charged with "playing favourites" to the advantage of the Hudson's Bay Company; but in London, that great trading concern was making bitter complaint to the Imperial Government that Douglas was unfair to the Company when its interests conflicted with those of the Colony.

It was no wonder that, when the time came to review the status of the Colonies, he expressed a wish to be relieved of his duties and to be permitted to retire. This request was granted, and in recognition of his great services Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, conferred upon him the honour of knighthood as Knight Commander of the Bath—a highly coveted order. Later she added a pension of £500 annually for life.

The citizens had given him a great banquet; he had been showered with compliments, and was now on his way to the Royal City, to complete the last of his official acts, before the arrival of his successors—for there were to be separate governors for the two Colonies. Arthur E. Kennedy, a former military man, who had considerable experience as a colonial administrator, was to be governor of Vancouver's Island, while Frederick Seymour, who had occupied various public offices in the West Indies and Honduras, was to be the chief executive of British Columbia.

Douglas had ruled the Mainland Colony, since its inception, as a benevolent dictator, but now, on instructions from England, he had instituted a Legislative Council of fifteen members, five of whom held their seats as elected representatives of the people.

His old associate in Government on the Mainland, Colonel R. C. Moody, and his Royal Engineers were no longer at New Westminster. The corps had been disbanded. Coolness had developed between the two men, largely as a result of the Governor's criticism of the manner in which Moody, as Commissioner of Lands and Works, had handled pre-emption lands. The Royal Engineers had performed notable services for British Columbia since their coming and the majority of the non-commissioned officers and men, with their families, chose to take their discharge and remain in the Colony rather than return to England.

In the few days that remained of his tenure as governor, Douglas was again banqueted, and was presented with a testimonial bearing 900 signatures. This really touched him, as evidencing the fact that his efforts on behalf of the Colony had been honest and impartial.

Before he left, he gave a grand midday rout in honour of the birth of a son to the Prince of Wales.

Three days later Sir James Douglas, K.C.B., sailed down the Fraser, amid the good wishes of the residents of the Royal City, into retirement.


It was April 30, 1864, and the men employed by Alfred Waddington to construct a road from Bute Inlet to Cariboo were asleep in their work-camps. They had no sentries on guard, nor had they any firearms with which to defend themselves. They trusted the Indians implicitly. The previous year Chilcotins had come from the interior and had professed great friendship. These protestations were believed. Now the Chilcotins, led by Chief Klatsassin, had come again, secretly and silently.

There were twenty-one braves in the war-party that crept undetected into the tents of the sleeping workers. Then, at a signal, the guy ropes were cut down. The Indians shot and stabbed through sagging canvas. It was butchery. Three men escaped alive, and two of them were badly wounded. Fourteen died in that unprovoked attack.

British Columbia and Vancouver Island were horrified. Governor Seymour sent a strong police force under command of Police Superintendent Chartres Brew to the scene. There they found the bodies and the looted camps. Brew found the trail by which the murderers had come from the Chilcotin Plains was too difficult for travel with a large force. He returned to New Westminster and suggested that an expeditionary force reach the homeland of Klatsassin and his people via Bella Coola and the Palmer trail. This plan was adopted, and at the same time Governor Frederick Seymour instructed William G. Cox, Gold Commissioner for Cariboo, to recruit a force there and hasten to effect a junction with Brew's men. Cox headed sixty-eight volunteers, while the coastal column consisted of thirty-eight volunteers, largely former Royal Engineers, to which were later added friendly Bella Coola Indians. Governor Seymour, accompanied by Lieutenant Cooper, Royal Marines, joined the party.

Meanwhile Klatsassin and his mounted braves were carrying death and destruction over the Chilcotin plains. A lone settler at Puntzi Lake, W. Manning, was shot down in cold blood. An attack was made on a pack-train. McDonald, the operator, and his seven helpers were well armed and put up a desperate defence. McDonald and two of the men were killed and three others wounded. Then the band raced down into the Bella Coola Valley in an effort to kill a settler named Hamilton. He managed to escape.

Cox's band missed an opportunity of wiping out the Indian killers near Puntzi Lake, when they carelessly gave warning of their presence, and permitted Klatsassin to escape. After this Cox built a log fort on a hillock, and here Brew's men found his company "besieged by an invisible foe."

Donald McLean, a former Hudson's Bay Company officer, and second in command to Cox, was killed when Seymour ordered the Cariboo men to pursue Klatsassin into the hills about Chilco Lake. They dropped the pursuit and fell back to Puntzi. Brew took up the chase, and using Indian tactics beat the Indians at their own style of fighting, until the Indian band with Klatsassin, now reduced to eight all told, surrendered.

The Governor sent for the powerful Chief Alexis to come to meet him. This the Chilcotin leader did with a mounted guard. They dashed up to the Governor, "and," said Seymour in a despatch, "at once approached me. He was dressed in a French uniform, such as one sees in pictures of Montcalm." It had taken a century for that uniform to cross the continent.

Though he had referred to the "successive acts of violence as isolated massacres," the Governor wrote, "there is no objection to our now avowing that an Indian insurrection existed."

Klatsassin and four of his followers were hanged, following their conviction.


While engaged in making a survey of Burrard Inlet in 1859, Captain G. H. Richards, H.M.S. 'Plumper', learned of the existence of a seam of coal on the southern shore. He had Chief Engineer Francis Brockton and Dr. C. B. Wood, the ship's surgeon, examine it. They reported favourably, but the sudden outbreak of the San Juan trouble took the warship away before further investigation could be done. Captain Richards named the place "Coal Harbour."

Walter Moberly, a young engineer, and Robert Burnaby, sometime secretary to Richard C. Moody, R.E., being told of the deposit spent some time prospecting the outcrop and vicinity, but abandoned the idea of developing the coal measures. It was this coal, however, that brought about the first settlement in what later became Vancouver. John Morton, a young Englishman, and his friend and distant relative, Sam Brighouse, failing to make good in Cariboo returned to New Westminster. There Morton heard of the coal measures. He was a potter by trade, and knew that clay was usually associated with coal. With an Indian guide he went to Burrard Inlet. He found the coal and the clay. He was delighted, as well, with the great harbour, the timbered terrain and the land itself.

Morton returned with Brighouse and a friend named W. Hailstone. They decided to take up land, and settled upon what is now District Lot 185, west of Burrard Street. They built a log hut on the eastern side of a deep ravine, in 1863. There they cleared and planted, and also utilized the clay for the manufacture of bricks.

It was also in 1862 that T. W. Graham, of New Westminster, conceived the idea of building a sawmill on the north shore of the Inlet. He secured 480 acres of splendidly timbered land, and formed a company—The Pioneer Mills—to utilize it. Graham's Mill, a water-powered plant capable of cutting 40,000 board feet of lumber daily, and the first industrial building on Burrard's Inlet, went into operation in June, 1863. He cut for the New Westminster market but faced many unexpected difficulties. In December he offered the plant, with 1,000,000 board feet of felled logs, for sale by auction. John Oscar Smith, a grocer, bought the assets of the company for $8,000, and changed the name to the "Burrard Inlet Mills."

Smith was an enterprising man. He started shipping lumber to Victoria and Nanaimo, and also sought off-shore trade. He made the first export shipment from the World Port of Vancouver, when he sent a cargo of lumber to Australia on board the barque 'Ellen Lewis', under Hellon. He might have made a success of his venture, had he had working capital, but after one year the mortgagees foreclosed and the mill was again put up at auction.

Sewell P. Moody, an enterprising and experienced business man, who knew sawmilling, purchased the plant. By wise management he developed and expanded it into a great industry that shipped lumber to all parts of the world. The town of Moodyville—now absorbed by North Vancouver—grew up about the mill.

In 1865, Captain Ed Stamp, who had established a big mill at the head of Alberni Canal for British associates, raised more money in Great Britain for another mill. He selected Burrard Inlet as the best site for the enterprise. He sought permission to locate his mill in what is now Stanley Park, extending across the peninsula from booming grounds near Deadman's Island, to the Narrows, where he planned wharves. Clearing was commenced—where the Athletic Grounds were later developed—but it was found impossible to berth ships at docks in the tidal race of the Narrows. So Stamp gained permission from Governor Frederick Seymour to change the location of his mill to the south-eastern extremity of Coal Harbour.

Here, on a point, the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber and Sawmill Company—for such was the unwieldy name of Stamp's concern—erected a mill. It went into operation in 1867, and became known as "Hastings Mill." Stamp retired, and the concern was reorganized, but for upwards of half a century it continued operations. About it grew up a mill camp, which was later named Granville—and then Vancouver.


Citizens of Victoria gave a warm welcome to A. E. Kennedy, who succeeded Sir James Douglas as Governor of Vancouver's Island, but within six months they were lamenting the change in administration. They had made little or no contribution towards the maintenance of Douglas, and were shocked when the Legislative Assembly members were told by the British Government that they must provide a civil list that included £3,000 salary for the Governor and £600 salary for the Colonial Secretary, as well as lesser amounts for other high-ranking officials. Such a list was refused by the House. The handing over of control of Crown Lands was conditional upon passing such a list.

The House declared that it could not afford such salaries, that conditions would not justify such expenditures. Governor Kennedy was instructed from England to issue warrants for legitimate requirements and amongst these was a place of residence for himself. He and his family were housed in a hotel for the first year of his stay. Finally he bought a pretentious dwelling, known locally as "Gary Castle," which with repairs cost roughly $40,000.

There had been a slackening in trade in 1864 and a depression had set in at Victoria, due to the falling-off of realty values and to over-speculation, to reduction of the output from "poor man's diggings" at the gold-fields, and to the failure of Macdonald's Bank, which had about $100,000 of its own currency in circulation.

To meet the situation—and possibly to embarrass the Governor—Amor de Cosmos introduced a series of resolutions in the Assembly aimed at bringing about a union of the Colonies, upon any conditions that the Imperial Government might favour. The debate was keen and acrimonious. Opposition was based upon the possibility of such action depriving Victoria of her free port. It was significant that during the course of the argument Dr. William Tolmie spoke in favour of the motions, not only as a logical union for the two colonies, but as a step towards eventual federation with the Canadian provinces, then taking shape.

Governor Kennedy endorsed the idea fully. He may have envisioned the self-destruction of the Assembly by union. Governor Frederick Seymour of the Mainland colony was bitterly opposed to it, and he also sent long despatches to Downing Street giving his views. British Columbia, generally, was against linking up with the Island, which it accused of living by the industry of British Columbia miners.

In Victoria there were hot arguments. The business interests feared losing the free port. If its retention were assured them, they would not object to the economies that might be expected to follow a reduction of the civil service. De Cosmos and C. B. Young, another member, after a heated argument, challenged each other to submit the question to the electors. Both represented Victoria City. They resigned, and in the subsequent election Young was defeated, the voters favouring union.

When it was learned that a bill was being prepared for submission to Parliament, authorizing union, the Assembly became alarmed, and would have temporized on the "unconditional terms" as suggested in the previous resolution. But it was now too late.

The British Government was also having political troubles. As a result, the measure was hastily drafted and was forced through as the final measure of a collapsing administration. All advantages went to British Columbia, and the free port was abolished—but whether this was legally done has been a matter of argument ever since. The House of Assembly and Executive Council of Vancouver's Island[*] were abolished—and representative government was greatly reduced.

[*] The name of the Island was changed to "Vancouver Island" after the union of the colonies.

It was on November 19, 1866, that the Act of Union was proclaimed, and old former governor Sir James Douglas, in retirement, penned: "The Union of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia was proclaimed today; the ships of war in the harbour fired a salute. It would have been more fitting if they had fired minute guns and held funeral services on the occasion of this sad, melancholy event."

Governor Kennedy gladly retired from Victoria, and Governor Seymour ruled from his capital of New Westminster.


Early in 1863 the Findlay brothers, sons of Jacco Findlay, a noted pioneer in the Western fur trade, found gold in a small stream that now carries the family name. Later in the year, one of the brothers paid a visit to a small settlement of French Canadians near present-day Missoula, Idaho. "Frenchtown" was crowded with a motley collection of men—many of dubious character—who were wintering there.

Learning from Findlay of the discovery of gold, a large number of them engaged him to guide them to the scene. They started off—some sixty of them—early in March, 1864, following the Kootenay River towards its headwaters. It was a hard trip, and the horses became jaded. When a flat was found with feed for the animals, near the present Fort Steele, it was decided to leave most of the horses there to recruit. Four or five men were left to guard the horses, while the others went on the forty miles to Findlay's creek.

While the tired horses grazed, the men prospected. One of them—said to be Bob Dore, after whom the pioneer mining company was named—struck rich pay above the canyon. It was coarse, heavy gold, and the Dore Company ultimately took out $500,000 from the ground that they staked.

The gravels at Findlay Creek, though yielding some values, proved disappointing, and so most of the men who had gone there came back, and took up ground along the stream that was ultimately named "Wild Horse." The miners framed their own regulations and permitted the staking of one hundred feet across the creek to a claim. Ultimately there were stakings for four and a half miles. Startling stories of the wealth of the new strike were circulated across the line, and from Walla Walla, Colville and other places, miners and merchants poured into the locality.

Government officials at New Westminster realized that unless an adequate artery for transportation was provided, none of the benefits of the Kootenay mines would come to the Coast. Extension of the Dewdney trail, of 1860-61, to the Similkameen was decided upon, and Edgar Dewdney was instructed to push it through rapidly. He did so. Gold Commissioner and Magistrate John Carmichael Haynes was instructed to hurry in to the camp at Wild Horse to establish governmental authority.

Accompanied by W. Young, his constable, "Judge" Haynes made a fast trip to Kootenay, and arrived at a dramatic moment. Wild Horse Creek was an armed and potentially explosive camp. In a fight that followed a Fourth-of-July celebration, one man was shot dead, and three were wounded by bullet, knife and club in drinking brawls. Friends of the dead man were preparing to lynch "Yeast Powder Bill" and another tough named "Overland Bob." A "law and order" organization was formed, and those two worthies were put in a temporary lockup. It needed only a careless word to start real trouble.

Into this seething cauldron, where every man carried a gun, rode Haynes and Young. The law and order boys were planning to administer the law, and had appointed a "judge" to try the two men. "But," said D. M. Drumheller, who was present, in his memoirs, "one little English constable with knee breeches, red cap, cane in hand, riding a jockey saddle and mounted on a bob-tailed horse, quelled that mob in fifteen minutes." The organized guardians of law and order—numbering some hundreds—disbanded in favour of a quiet, determined Magistrate and one courageous policeman. The two men in jail were tried and liberated, but were advised to leave the Creek. They did so, hurriedly, as did others who felt that they would not be comfortable where the Queen's law had to be respected.

Wild Horse Creek diggings were shallow and amazingly rich. Much of the gold was in the form of nuggets. One piece went to thirty-seven ounces, worth $666. Later, deeper depths were explored profitably with machinery. It has been conservatively estimated that $6,000,000 was produced on the Creek.

From Wild Horse prospectors fanned out over the country, eventually finding values along the Big Bend of the Columbia, and starting another but short-lived rush to that section.


There were only nine elected members in the Legislative Council of twenty-three that convened at New Westminster early in 1867. The other fourteen were appointed by Governor Frederick Seymour, who ruled over the united colonies. Island members were, with a single exception (the Nanaimo Magistrate, Captain William Hales Franklyn), anxious to have Victoria declared the Capital.

Dr. J. S. Helmcken, who with Amor de Cosmos had been elected to represent Victoria, prepared a resolution authorizing the change. The preference of the Governor for New Westminster was well known, and the change was regarded by the Island members as a forlorn hope. They planned a careful campaign, and succeeded in winning over some of the magistrates from the Upper Country who had ex-officio seats on the Council. On March 29, Helmcken submitted his resolution, and in the debate that followed made much of the alleged dangers and difficulties of navigating the Fraser River to the Royal City.

Supporters of New Westminster knew that this was a serious point, and must be met. Captain Franklyn—nicknamed "The British Lion," a bluff old sea-dog—was selected to meet the charge. He prepared a long speech, writing it out carefully. Helmcken and his friends decided to prepare the Captain for the occasion. They entertained him all morning, and when he rose to speak he was, as Helmcken later explained, "a bit shaky."

The jovial, fun-loving Captain W. G. Cox, Magistrate at Barkerville, threw his lot in with the Islanders, another magisterial sympathizer at his left.

The British Lion intended to explain that the Hoogley River in India had formerly been worse than the Fraser, but had been improved and made into a safe waterway. He picked up the first page of his notes that he had placed beside him. "Mr. President," he commenced, "when I first went up the Hoogley River...," and so on.

Finishing the page, he looked about the chamber to note the effect that he was making, and put the sheet face downward beside the pile of other notes. Quick as a flash, Cox picked it up and placed it on top of the other pages. The British Lion reached down, picked it up again, and once more "Mr. President, when I first went up the Hoogley River..." Again he placed the story of that initial voyage down on the table; once more Cox placed the notes about it on the top of the heap.

When for the third time the bold British Lion sailed up that great Indian river, the Chamber rocked with merriment. The gallant Captain could not understand it—there was no humour in his speech. He stopped and glared about him. Then he took off his spectacles and placed them beside his notes, having better long-range vision without them.

No sooner had he straightened up and looked about him again, than Captain Cox picked them up, and with a quick pressure of his thumbs forced the lens from the frame.

Having satisfied himself, the British Lion picked up the frame, adjusted it on his nose, lifted up the story of the Hoogley again—but this time, according to the account of the incident left by Dr. Helmcken in his memoirs, Franklyn could not even see the muddy waters of the Hoogley.

The other members were almost having hysterics. Dr. Helmcken jumped up and moved a recess for half an hour. The motion was carried and the members rushed out to the "annex of Noah's Ark," as the old barracks of the Royal Engineers, where the Council met, was called. There, after several had treated the British Lion, complimented him on his speech and assured him that the laughter was caused by something else, the House reconvened.

The British Lion got up to resume his defence of the Fraser: up jumped Helmcken to call attention to the fact that the Captain had already spoken. The objection was upheld, and the House was never told about what advantages a capital on a river could develop.

The resolution carried, and after it was approved by the Colonial Office in London, the Capital was formally proclaimed, on May 25, 1868, to be Victoria.


Canadian confederation, achieved in 1867, was the realization of many years of planning in London and colonial capitals. Its extension to the Pacific was essential to Imperial policies of world trade. The union of Vancouver's Island and British Columbia in 1866 was regarded by many as an advanced step towards that objective.

As early as 1865, Dr. William Tolmie, speaking in the Legislative Assembly at Victoria, had envisioned the enlargement of Confederation—then taking shape in the older colonies on the eastern side of British America—to include the coastal possessions of the Crown.

Union of British Columbia and Vancouver's Island satisfied no one—except possibly Governor Frederick Seymour. It was not surprising, therefore, that out of that dissatisfaction grew an active demand for inclusion of the Colony in the grand scheme of Confederation. On May 18, 1867, a motion by Amor de Cosmos in the Legislative Council was carried, asking the Governor to take steps to include British Columbia in the new Dominion. Characteristically, Seymour did nothing. This led to formation of the Confederation League which met in convention at Yale in the following year. This gathering, attended by many prominent men, pledged unceasing work for the accomplishment of its objective.

The United States viewed with dismay the prospect of British Columbia joining a consolidation of British communities from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It had long sought to keep Great Britain from forming a trade corridor across America. Earlier, Russia and the United States had toyed with the idea of forming an entente cordiale that would give those two nations control of the Pacific Ocean. To aid such a purpose the Czar had once offered Alaska to the Republic if it would seize the coastline north of latitude 49. Now that Confederation was an active reality, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russians, in order to show British Columbia it was hemmed in by American territory, and it would be to the advantage of the Colony to join the United States. The annexation movement was largely confined to Victoria, but it lacked strength.

The argument for entry into the Dominion was waged in the legislative halls, in public meetings, on street corners, and wherever men gathered. Correspondence was maintained with high officials in the East. Sir John A. Macdonald finally suggested to the Imperial Government that it would be beneficial if Seymour were recalled, and Anthony Musgrave, a former governor of Newfoundland, and a staunch confederationist, were appointed to succeed him.

Seymour was not recalled: he died suddenly. He had gone to the North Coast to intervene personally to stop an Indian war. He succeeded. He left a sick-bed to make the trip. On the way back home, he died. London was immediately notified by cable. The next day a new governor was appointed—Anthony Musgrave.

The diplomatic Musgrave came charged with the task of bringing the Colony into Confederation. He drafted terms of union, suggesting a wagon-road to Canada as an essential condition and otherwise following the pattern of de Cosmos's terms. Three delegates, J. W. Trutch, Dr. J. S. Helmcken and Dr. W. W. Carroll, were sent East to negotiate with the Canadian Government. When the talks opened, the Committee of the Federal Cabinet made it known that, instead of a road, a railway would be built.

On July 7, 1870, the correspondent of The Victoria Colonist wired to his paper: "Terms agreed upon. The delegates are satisfied. Canada is favourable to immediate union and guarantees the railway."

On July 21, 1871, the Crown Colony ceased to exist, and British Columbia started to function as a province of the Dominion of Canada.

In the meantime an election had been held, and responsible government was introduced under the premiership of the Honourable J. F. McCreight.


Fire destroyed Barkerville, the gold capital of Cariboo, in 1868. The days of shallow diggings and spectacular values had passed. In hopes of finding new ground of equal richness, men spread over the country. Michael Burns and Vital La Force went some 250 miles northwest of Quesnel and struck good pay. They wintered there and in 1869 returned to Barkerville. They were accompanied back by some twenty men, from whom they could not hide their secret. The rush to Omineca resulted.

News of the new field—exaggerated as all such stories are—reached Victoria and New Westminster, and sent excited men up the Coast to the Skeena in all manner of craft. They followed that turbulent river to the Forks—where Hazleton now stands—and then over to Babine Lake, and on to the Omineca.

Many creeks were worked, and values were realized to some extent from Vital Creek, Black Jack Gulch, and Arctic, Slate, Skeleton, Quartz, Lost, Burns, Germansen and Manson Creeks, the latter being best. Germansen Creek in a single week of August, 1871, produced $10,000. Packers were busy pushing supplies into the country. Gus B. Wright brought the steamer 'Enterprise' from Quesnel up the Fraser, Nechako and Stuart Rivers to Fort St. James. He proposed to operate from the Fort to Tatla Landing, but made a single trip, for Edgar Dewdney—the famous trail-builder—constructed a trail from Fort St. James to the diggings.

In 1871 there were 1,200 men operating claims in the district. In a short season they took out $400,000—which meant slim wages for the majority. With the distance from established communities so great, transportation difficult, and continuance of supplies dubious, there was a general exodus from Omineca that winter. But some returned and others accompanied them, and once again the creeks were active, particularly Germansen and Manson Creeks. Even today optimistic miners continue to work the old ground over again and seek new deposits.

Disappointments and moderate successes seem to have the same effect on gold-hunters: they seem to spur them on to new endeavours. This is what happened in Omineca, for the hunters went into even less known wilds, and soon were on the banks of the Stikine, and about Dease Lake. Here an American named Thibert, who had come from the East by way of the Liard, made a rich strike on a stream entering the Dease River near the lake. Among the earliest on the scene was Vital La Force, the co-discoverer of Omineca.

Soon about twenty miners had joined Thibert on the stream that was honoured with his name. Some high values in heavy gold came from that stream and from Dease and McDame Creeks, subsequent locations. In 1874 it was estimated that there were 1,600 men working in Cassiar—as the district was known. They mined about one million dollars. The mines on Thibert and Dease particularly gave good returns in shallow ground to the early locators, some realizing as high as eight ounces per day to the man.

With the approach of winter the district was practically abandoned, only a few caring to stay through the sub-zero cold of the white months. They returned with the opening of navigation in the late spring—but heavy freshets prolonged the period of mining inactivity. McDame Creek was being worked by wing-damming, but it was difficult to control the water, which often swept away the obstructions that had been built to divert the flow of the stream. Production for 1875 was $800,000. There were about 1,300 men. The rush reached its peak in 1876 when more than 2,000 men were reported to have entered the country, and the gold output fell to $556,474.

From that time the interest in the Cassiar waned, but there and in Omineca there have always been cheerful hopeful men who have continued to go over the old ground and prospect new terrain.


The terms of union by which British Columbia entered Confederation were in the nature of a treaty, between the Colony, the Dominion and the Imperial Government. This instrument, by Article 11, stipulated that the Federal Government would undertake to "secure the commencement simultaneously, within two years from the date of Union" of a transcontinental railroad. It was to be completed in ten years.

There had been bitter opposition voiced in the House of Commons to the acceptance of the terms that pledged the building of a railway "through a sea of mountains." When, therefore, actual construction had not started within the stated time, British Columbia's government became fearful that Canada was not anxious to implement her pledge. Angry protest was made to Ottawa.

Seeking to mollify Victoria, where the criticism centred, announcement was made in June, 1873, that Esquimalt would be the terminus. This was supported by an Order-in-Council reiterating the choice of Esquimalt and promising the construction of a railroad from that place to Seymour Narrows. This would indicate that the main line would reach the sea at Bute Inlet. At the same time Ottawa asked for the transfer of a twenty-mile strip of land on the east coast of Vancouver Island between the designated points. The Province hesitated, saying that surveys had not been made nor had construction started. To this Ottawa answered by ordering its engineers to "commence a survey at Esquimalt and break ground." "This disreputable farce," as Amor de Cosmos called it, lasted only a day or two and was then abandoned.

The Government of Sir John A. Macdonald was defeated as a result of the "Pacific Scandal." Alexander Mackenzie, who succeeded him, had been a bitter opponent of the railway terms. When he did not immediately prosecute the work, British Columbia became suspicious that he did not intend to build the line.

Great wrangling between the two governments followed, leading, in the summer of 1874, to a complaint to the third signatory of the treaty. Colonial Secretary Lord Carnarvon offered to arbitrate the dispute if both governments would pledge in advance the acceptance of his award. They did this. G. A. Walkem, Premier and Attorney General, went to London to argue the matter.

Carnarvon's decision became, in fact, a substitution for the Eleventh Article of the Terms of Union. He decided that the Island railway should be constructed from Esquimalt to Nanaimo by the Dominion; that surveys for the main line were to be vigorously prosecuted; that a wagon-road was to be built by Canada paralleling the rail route from the eastern B.C. border to the sea; that a minimum annual expenditure of two million dollars on construction of the railway should follow completion of surveys, and that the time for the finishing of the transcontinental should be advanced to December 30, 1890.

Mackenzie's government had a bill authorizing the building of the Esquimalt-Nanaimo line passed the Commons, but the defeat of the bill in the Senate caused suspicion in British Columbia that it had been a political manoeuvre to save face. There was much bad feeling engendered. In order to pacify the angry British Columbians, who were now intent on withdrawal from Confederation, the Governor General, Lord Dufferin, visited the Coast. An arch bearing in bold letters "Carnarvon Terms or Separation" straddled a street at Victoria, but His Excellency refused to ride beneath it. By his ready good humour, tact and diplomacy he succeeded in dissipating the suspicion that Prime Minister Mackenzie deliberately had the bill killed in the Senate.

The return of Sir John A. Macdonald to power and his election as a member for Victoria City brought action. He arranged for private interests to build the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, and for the Canadian Pacific Railway syndicate to build the main line. The work was so rapidly pushed that it was completed five years ahead of the date stipulated by Lord Carnarvon.


The first few months of British Columbia as a Province saw considerable excitement, both without and within the Legislature: a threat of an invasion by Fenians, and a "strike" of members in the Assembly.

It was New Year's Day, 1872. Lieutenant-Governor J. W. Trutch was reading his mail, when he came across a warning that the Irish revolutionary society, the Fenians, intended to raid British Columbia. "General" O'Neill, who had lately caused some excitement along the Manitoba border, had been seen in San Francisco, embarking his "army" on several ships. Vancouver Island must, it was thought, be his warlike objective.

Trutch was not a timid man, but, remembering how the Fenians had invaded the Niagara peninsula and captured Fort Erie, he decided to take no chances. There had already been trouble with the "wild Irish" in the Kootenays. So word was sent to Captain Ralph P. Cator, senior officer in command at Esquimalt, asking the help of the navy in protecting the country against attack.

Captain Cator immediately ordered H.M.S. 'Boxer' around to Victoria Harbour, where marines could be landed to occupy the Government buildings, if necessary. H.M.S. 'Sparrowhawk' was instructed to take up a station off the entrance to the city's main harbour, and to examine every vessel entering or leaving the port. Only vessels recognized as being innocent carriers of commerce could escape scrutiny. It was a tight naval blockade of British Columbia's capital.

Guards on top of the Legislative Buildings, by day and night, kept in touch with Race Rocks where other sentries watched the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the approach of suspicious shipping. All kinds of wild rumours were spread, resulting in the maintenance of the blockade. Three weeks after it was sent to guard the port entrance, the 'Sparrowhawk' was still on duty. Not long after, however, it was moved and the blockade was over.

Whether or not it was "danger bonus" pay that the Members of the Legislature wanted to justify by the "Fenian threat" has not been recorded: but they wanted more money—and that before they had finished a single session of "Responsible Government." The demand, for years, had been for responsible government, and now the House was starting off in direct opposition to the basic principles of democratic government.

It was on March 8—less than a month after the session started—that W. J. Armstrong moved that a committee be set up to study increasing the sessional payment to ten dollars a day, with twenty-five cents per mile for travelling. The question had not been endorsed by the Ministry that must approve of all expenditures. The members, however, despite being informed of the unconstitutionality of such a move, passed the resolution. Premier J. F. McCreight tried to reason with them. He could get the backing of only four in the House.

The committee approved of an increase to eight dollars per diem, with $500 for the session, and the increased mileage. This was reported to the House, but McCreight would have nothing to do with it; so the revolting members went over his head and petitioned the Lieutenant-Governor.

The Honourable J. Trutch snubbed the unruly members by telling them that he could not consider anything that his advisers had not recommended.

When this was reported in the Assembly, McCreight chastised the members, telling them that it was "a very delicate matter for the House to use its powers of legislation for the purpose of voting increased indemnity." The voters throughout the country had not asked for their representatives to be paid higher indemnities and travelling expenses, he reminded the red-faced and grumbling men, adding that if there was a public demand for it, the government would give the matter proper consideration.

This reminder that the taxpayers might not approve of their attitude, and the protests of the press, brought "the strike" to an end. But the members had their revenge. They waited until the next session—that same fall—and voted McCreight out of office on a want-of-confidence motion.


The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was a stupendous work that won the admiration of the world. The Government of the Dominion had defied those who had said that it was an impossible task for a young country, and the courageous financiers and builders who formed the syndicate that later became the Canadian Pacific Railway Company accepted the challenge of distance and geography and won. Victory had not come easily; there had been unforeseen difficulties, both physical and financial, to overcome. There had also been rebellion on the Prairies to face; but there had been no slackening of enterprise or industry, particularly after the final decision had been made as to the route of the line through the Rockies.

Originally the easy Yellowhead Pass had been determined upon, the line coming down to the vicinity of Kamloops, where it was to meet the western sections, from Port Moody on Burrard Inlet, to Savona, which the Dominion Government undertook to construct and turn over to the Company. This included some of the most difficult railroad construction on the continent, particularly through the canyons between Yale and Lytton.

It was in September, 1882, that President George Stephen of the C.P.R. telegraphed to Prime Minister John A. Macdonald: "The route through the Rocky Mountains is by the Kicking Horse Pass. This has been adopted, and Major Rogers reports having found the looked for pass through the Selkirk Range, thus making the connection with Kamloops by the shortest possible line. The grades for twenty miles on either side of the summit, though heavy, are easier than any of the American lines. No tunnel necessary. Hope to be within 250 miles of Kamloops by this time next year. Expect to have the whole line from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean open by January 1, 1887."

Major A. B. Rogers, C.E., was over-optimistic. The last four miles of the pass that now bears his name proved to have such heavy gradients that it became necessary some years later to construct one of the longest mountain-tunnels in the world.

It was November 7, 1885, when the rails from the East met those from the West, at a point between Sicamous and Revelstoke—known as Craigellachie. A special train bearing Vice-President W. C. Van Horne and other officials of the Company had come from Montreal to witness the completion of the "iron road across the continent." It was a raw day, with just a powdering of snow. As the last rails were laid on the ties, the official party crowded close. A hammer was given to Donald Alexander Smith (later Lord Strathcona), and he hammered home a spike. There were no flags flying, no bands blaring; there were no oratorical outpourings, just a cheer from the crowd of grade workers, and a remark by Van Horne that the work was well done. But this rather matter-of-fact proceeding was the culmination of the dreams of British statesmen for centuries: it was the realization of the all-red route, and it had bound Canada together with bands of steel.

As soon as the visitors had clambered back on the train and it had continued to the Coast, a track-layer picked up a spike, exclaiming, "I'm going to drive the last spike," and drove it into the same tie. "No, I will," shouted another man as he pounded a third spike into the wood. Another and another followed suit and, as Harry Hardy, who witnessed the happening, said, "Before that competition ended there was no room for another 'last spike' in that tie."

The next day the train steamed into Port Moody, to the cheers and welcoming speeches of the populace. The little town that had sprung up at the head of the Inlet was "the official terminus" of the line. A townsite had been surveyed and there was a scramble for lots, at boom prices; investors had swarmed into the tide-water town; professional men and artisans had settled there, and business men had opened stores and shops. Now that the first train had made a transcontinental crossing, there was real rejoicing—but the town was doomed to disappointment. The road was to move on to a new terminus.


In 1882 Engineer J. Ross came to the Coast to make a study of Burrard Inlet for the C.P.R. The great harbour impressed him, as did Coal Harbour where he found plenty of water for docks and land for railway yards. He reported that the terminal of the line should be pushed down the Inlet from Port Moody, where there were poor facilities for developing a volume of deep-sea shipping, to Coal Harbour and English Bay.

Premier W. Smithe of British Columbia was in Montreal in the spring of 1884 and discussed with Vice-President W. C. Van Horne of the railway company the abandonment of Port Moody as a terminal. Van Horne asked for large subsidies in land for making the change. Under the terms of union the Province had to convey to the Dominion, in trust, a strip twenty miles on each side of the main-line right-of-way. When, however, Port Moody was announced as the terminal, the Federal Government released the lands west of that place from the reserve. Smithe, at the interview, told Van Horne he would withhold the lands from being put on the market until the railway executive could reach the Coast.

Van Horne did not come when expected; so, on May 23, the Premier wrote to him emphasizing the necessity for an early visit and settlement of the land question. To this the Vice-President replied: "The Company will undertake to make the Pacific terminus at Coal Harbour and English Bay, if the reserved lands referred to in your letter of May 23 as having been relinquished by the Dominion Government may be secured to the Company, and if we are able to make reasonable arrangements with private holders of lands in that vicinity."

The lands involved included Crown holdings in what is now Burnaby, Vancouver South, and Point Grey, at Granville, and in what is now the West End of Vancouver. The private holdings to which Van Horne made reference indicated a demand that owners surrender one-third of their property to the Company, particularly in respect to townsite lots.

Mr. Van Horne came to the Coast later in the year. He was delighted with Coal Harbour, but said that there was another condition that was imperative. It was that the name of the terminus must be "Vancouver." This suggestion raised a storm of protest from Victoria, but that did not bother the railway executive, who bluntly said that no person knew where "Granville" was, but that "Vancouver" was a name indelibly associated with British Columbia—and he insisted on making the change.

After completing arrangements with the Government about the public lands to be given for the extension of the few miles from Port Moody, lots were drawn for the Company's share in the private holdings.

When Van Horne was satisfied and it became a certainty that the terminus would be moved to Coal Harbour, there was a tremendous boom in the old sawmill camp about the Hastings Mill that was to become a great city. Wooden business blocks, houses, shacks and other structures went up on all sides; businesses and small industries opened, and workmen poured in looking for the work that was waiting for them. But Port Moody was in torment. Hundreds had purchased lots there speculating in realty on the strength of the announcement that the town would be the end of steel. Citizens delayed extension temporarily by going to the courts for an injunction to stop the change. This did not succeed.

It was early in 1886 that a petition was circulated asking the Legislature to incorporate the City of Vancouver—not under the provisions of the Municipal Act, but by special charter. This was granted and the special legislation requested was passed, and Vancouver came into corporate existence on April 6, 1886. It had between sixty and seventy business establishments two months later, including a dozen hotels, three restaurants, five groceries, four boots- and shoes-shops, and—of course—ten real-estate offices.

Malcolm MacLean was chosen mayor. Aldermen were: Robt. Balfour, C. A. Caldwell, Peter Cordiner, Thos. Dunn, Joseph Griffith, J. Humphries, Henry Hemlow, E. P. Hamilton, L. A. Hamilton and Joseph Northcott. The election was held on May 3.


Sunday, June 13, 1886, was another warm day, but the fresh breeze from the West carried clouds of acrid smoke from C.P.R. land-clearing operations towards the wooden city of Vancouver. As the morning wore on the wind strengthened and people returning from church services coughed and spluttered, but they made no complaint: it was an annoyance that was inseparable from pioneering progress, something that must be endured to assist in the building of a great seaport and railway terminal.

In the inlet that summer Sunday the old barque 'Robert Kerr' swung at anchor in the harbour, while several small sail-boats carried pleasure parties over the waters of the Inlet; some had gone to picnic on the North Shore, and some to a funeral at New Westminster. No person was fearful of that wind and the fire, which the smoke indicated was pointed at the little city.

About two o'clock the wind increased to gale proportions. A small girl, holding the hand of her little brother, was on her way to Sunday School. A man ran past her, then stopped to tell her to go home, that fire was coming—and resumed his flight. The children continued to church, where the minister dismissed them and told them to hurry home. Before they could reach home the bell of St. James's Church was clanging out a warning. The little ones and their parents were saved, finding shelter on the Hastings Mill Company's wharf, and later in the old 'Robert Kerr'.

Within an hour, Vancouver—the busiest, most energetic, fastest growing community in the Province—was a smoking waste. How many died in that holocaust will never be known, but searchers amid the smouldering ruins found seven dead.

"Never was there such a fire before," declared the Vancouver Advertiser when publication was resumed in the city, June 29. "No one ever saw anything more frantically rapid or terribly complete. The startled populace barely heard the cry of 'fire' when they were compelled to flee for their lives with what small traps they could conveniently carry. Hastily packed trunks were barely moved away from the burning buildings a hundred feet, and those who lingered to save a few valuables barely escaped with their lives. Two thirds of the people of Vancouver the day after the fire, could not boast of more than the clothes they stood in.... There was not time for consideration of ways and means. Crazed by excitement and terror, our people fled hither and thither, seeking any avenue of escape from the relentless flames that rapidly choked up every outlet from the furious fire that raged on every hand. People became bewildered and fled in all directions and to control in the smallest degree the raging element was beyond human genius and human power."

Vancouver was physically obliterated except for the Hastings Mill, the vacant oil-plant, and a few small buildings, mostly near False Creek, the ruin was complete. But the courage of the people, their faith, and their industry would not admit defeat. Speaking proudly, the Advertiser in the same issue boasted:

"At 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the 13th of June, the city was completely destroyed by fire; at 3 o'clock on Monday morning teams were delivering lumber upon the site of the smouldering city; before the sun had gone down on that day several buildings had been erected and were being occupied. In less than three days a dozen firms were doing business in hastily finished frame structures, and at this date [June 29] we have a stirring, active community, the nucleus of a considerable city in as many hours as it usually takes days."

The tragedy of June 13 proved how quickly and generously people respond to human need: from communities near and far there came contributions and offers of help. Such kindness inspired the citizens of Vancouver to restore and rebuild their city on a larger and grander scale.


Less than a year after Vancouver was so proudly incorporated, the city's charter was suspended and Provincial Police under Superintendent H. B. Roycroft took Vancouver into "protective custody."

It was February 24, 1887: the C.P.R. grade was being constructed from Port Moody, and contractors proposed to use Chinese labour. Already citizens had demonstrated their hostility to the employment of Orientals, who worked for lower wages than whites would accept. A number of Chinese had come from Victoria, only to be met at the dock by determined men who forced them to return to the Capital City. Now an excited man hurried through the streets of the business section, bearing a large placard. It read: "The Chinese have come: Mass Meeting in the City Hall, tonight."

That evening a crowd estimated at 300 persons jammed into the City Hall. They listened to inflammatory speeches and shouted approval of several resolutions. Then the chairman quitted his chair. He had no sooner done so than an unidentified voice called, "Those in favour of turning out the Chinese tonight say 'aye'." There was a thunderous assent, and the meeting broke up, with men shouting, "Tonight! Tonight!", as they would a battle-cry, while they stumbled out into the winter night.

Chinese had reached the city and were placed in temporary quarters in some shacks about a mile west of the town. By the flickering light of one or two lanterns, the angry men hurried over the trail that wound through a maze of stumps, and over rough and uneven ground.

"On arriving at the Chinese camp," the Daily News reported the next day, "the mob immediately surrounded the shanties and amidst howls and yells commenced the work of seizing the Chinamen. A number got away in spite of their efforts to surround them. Those who were caught in some instances were badly kicked by some of the crowd, then ordered to pack and leave, in which they were assisted in no gentle manner."

It was at this juncture that a whistle was heard, and the gigantic form of City Police Chief J. Stewart, followed by Superintendent Roycroft of the Provincial Force, emerged from the blackness of the night into the dim circle of light cast by the lanterns. Shouting to the mob, which had been stilled by the piercing note of the whistle, to stop molesting the Chinese, the two brave officers stepped between the frightened Orientals and the whites. The Chinese were herded into one of the tumbledown shacks, and Stewart and Roycroft took a position in front of the door. No one attempted to get past that pair.

Gradually the crowd dispersed. Then from Chinatown, in the heart of the city, flames fingered up into the night air. A white man had set fire to a Chinese shack. The flames spread, and soon there were two or three structures burning. The sight of the wall of fire chilled the hearts of those who had so recently witnessed the destruction of the town. Animosity was forgotten and some who had just returned from the raid on the Orientals now rushed to help the fire department battle the flames. For a time it looked as if Vancouver might easily be destroyed a second time.

Official Victoria was shocked when the happenings of that wild February night were reported. The Cabinet met and authorized the raising of a force of some thirty-five special police. These were despatched to Vancouver to be under the orders of Superintendent Roycroft, who was to suspend the City's charter and take charge until all prospects of a repetition of unruliness had disappeared. So Roycroft duly presented himself at the City Hall and assumed control.

The C.P.R. extension from Port Moody was completed in the late spring. It was on May 23—on the eve of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who was celebrating the Golden Jubilee of her reign—that gaily decorated Engine No. 374 steamed in to the terminal at Coal Harbour, to be tumultuously greeted by the citizens, once more in possession of their charter.


When Chief Isadore and a score of his armed Kootenay braves raided the lockup at Wild Horse Creek and liberated a tribesman named Kapla, a murder suspect, both the Provincial and Federal Governments were alarmed. It was in the spring of 1887, only two years after Louis Riel had lighted the flames of rebellion on the plains, and it was feared that another Indian insurrection might be in the making. Kapla had been arrested by Harry Anderson, the lone agent of government south of the C.P.R. line, and F. W. Aylmer, a surveyor, who acted as a special constable. Isadore demanded that Anderson and Aylmer quit the country. The frightened white settlers—there was but a handful—recommended to the two representatives of the law that they leave the vicinity for the time being, for fear of inciting the Indians to further violence.

Word of the high-handed action of Isadore was carried to Donald, on the C.P.R., by R. T. Galbraith, of Galbraith's Ferry. The news was telegraphed to Victoria, where the Government immediately wired Ottawa asking for a division of the famous North West Mounted Police to be sent to Kootenay.

Before the arrival of the Mounties, a commission composed of Dr. I. W. Powell (Superintendent of Indian Affairs), Assistant Commissioner L. W. Herchmer of the N.W.M.P., and Magistrate A. W. Vowell went to Wild Horse and held an inquiry. Isadore was impressed and agreed to the return of the two white men, and the surrender of Kapla. He said that his young men were getting hard to handle; they were fearful that the advance of the white man was going to rob them of their hereditary lands.

It was June when Division B—seventy-five men—under the redoubtable Major Sam Steele arrived at Golden. With considerable difficulty they made their way up to the headwaters of the Columbia, and from there to Bummers' Flat near Wild Horse. Ten acres of land were purchased from Galbraith and there a post named "Fort Steele" was constructed.

In reporting on the circumstances of the trouble, Major Steele was critical of the delay in trying to solve the murder of two prospectors, Kemp and Hylton, three years before between Wild Horse and Kicking Horse Pass. Steele thought that the crime might have been committed by some of the "bad characters either making for the railway," then under construction, "or escaping from justice in Canada."

"The action of Isadore showed the whites," Steele commented, "that although the Indians had up to that time abstained from any hostility they did not do so through any fear of consequences. It was evident to all that the whites had been there on sufferance. A meeting of the white settlers was held, the situation discussed and the decision arrived at that Commissioner Anderson and the Hon. F. W. Aylmer were to leave the country temporarily."

The Kootenays were suspicious and un-cooperative when the police arrived. Major Steele sent for Isadore, who hesitatingly agreed to the meeting, but he complied with the demand of the Inspector that Kapla be brought in as well as another suspect. This was done and they were brought before Steele for a hearing. He could find no evidence to sustain a charge of murder, and liberated the two men. This deeply impressed the Indians with the fact that the police were fair. Steele felt that the killing had probably been done by white ruffians.

Experienced in the ways of natives, Major Steele learned to respect the Kootenays, and commented that during the year he was amongst them he had never had complaint of a single theft. Isadore and his people also came to admire the red-coated officers and constables. When orders came, the following year, recalling the division, Chief Isadore made a speech at parting, in which he said that the conduct of the force had changed the attitude of his people towards the whites, and that if difficulties arose in the future he would cross the mountains and discuss his troubles with his red-coated friends at Fort Macleod.

The quick action of the two Governments and the fine conduct, the impartiality and the discipline of the North West Mounted Police had prevented what might have been a serious conflict with a brave and well-armed people.


Joe Moris and Joe Bourgeois stood outside the assayer's office in Nelson dejectedly studying the analyses of a number of samples that they had brought to be tested. They had been prospecting on Red Mountain, near the head of Trail Creek, and had staked four claims and put in protecting posts on a fifth, the "Le Wise," just to keep the ground open. They were permitted to have only four claims: these they had marked out as the War Eagle, Centre Star, Idaho and Virginia. They had gathered samples and had taken them to the fast-growing town on Kootenay Lake that came into existence after the Hall brothers had found the Silver King on Toad Mountain.

The assay returns were disappointing: the best was three dollars and twenty-five cents, while six of the samples showed no values. Bourgeois was disgusted and said that he would not bother with the claims any more, but Moris was more optimistic, arguing that better values might be found in a more intensive examination. His partner agreed, but insisted that he could not see any sense in paying two dollars and fifty cents a claim for recording fees. After a moment of silence, Bourgeois had an inspiration. "I know that fellow Topping, the deputy recorder," he said. "He will take a chance: suppose we offer him that Le Wise claim if he will pay the fees for the other four?" "Sure!" exclaimed Moris. Topping was willing. He was a sportsman, and readily agreed to put up the money necessary for recording fees. But he insisted he would have to go to Red Mountain and personally stake the ground they offered him.

It was July 20, 1890, when he left Nelson to follow the others to see the property. He examined it carefully, and then, addressing Bourgeois and Moris, he said, "I'll keep it, and will call it 'Le Roi', instead of 'Le Wise', and next month I'll go to Spokane and raise money to work it."

And that is how Eugene Sayre Topping, sailor, writer, trapper, miner and all-round adventurer, became possessed of one of the world's spectacular gold-mines—for twelve dollars and fifty cents! He did not get to Spokane before he financed it. Having met Colonel R. W. Ridpath, a financier, and George Forester, a lawyer, on the train, he showed them the samples he was carrying. They too were ready to take a chance. The result was that they organized a syndicate to take over a sixteen-thirtieth of the claim for $16,000 and guaranteed to spend $3,000 in development work before June, 1891.

When it became known that American capital was interested in Red Mountain, there was a regular stampede of prospectors to the area. One of the early men on the scene was Ross Thompson, a young fellow with imagination. He pre-empted 160 acres near the mines, and laid out a townsite. It was named "Rossland" in his honour.

As the Le Roi and the War Eagle and the Centre Star and other noted mines went into production, Rossland became a busy, noisy, rough-and-tumble mining-camp. Men—and women—of all kinds hurried there to share in the wealth that was being produced. This production was slow at first, but eventually it was almost fabulous. Then when a large body of ore was uncovered in 1893, according to Lance H. Whittaker, editor of The Golden City, "merchants, hotel-keepers, doctors, lawyers, gamblers, painted women and all the rag-tag and bob-tail of civilization gravitated to this new strike. 'Boomers' of every description were seen coming down the hills and up the valleys. Tents mushroomed and the scent of whip-sawn tamarac and fir was everywhere as the Trail Creek has become a seething locality."

Then came one of the most colourful figures of the North American mining world, F. Augustus Heinze, a young speculator who had challenged the great manipulators of the American West. He negotiated contracts for ore supplies from Rossland mines and constructed a smelter where Trail Creek emptied into the Columbia, and laid the foundations of the great Trail metallurgical works of today.

Heinze built a railroad from Trail to Rossland to handle the ore, and on this narrow-gauge line he used equipment that he purchased in Utah; and men and women trundled up and down the steep grade in a passenger car that had once been the private coach of Brigham Young. It was in keeping with the times, as was the dinner given in Rossland's Allen Hotel, where the napkins were one-hundred-dollar bank-notes.


Vancouver was regarded with grave suspicion by Victoria; the ambitious Terminal City was jealous and contemptuous of the leisurely Capital. This mutual dislike had been growing ever since Granville had changed its name to Vancouver, an action that Victoria regarded as a direct injury. In 1890-91 the bitterness had been increased over the prospective site for a University.

The administration of Premier John Robson carried an act through the Legislature creating the University of British Columbia. A regular convocation was held, attended by some 125 university graduates, and a senate had been named. Dr. I. W. Powell of Victoria was Chancellor, and R. P. Cooke, of Vancouver, Vice-Chancellor. The legislation set the time and place for the Senate to meet. It was Victoria; Mainland Senators would not attend. There was no provision in the Act for such a contingency and without a Senate there could be no University.

The sacrifice of the University on the altar of intercity enmity is credited with being one of the activating causes in "anchoring" the Capital on the Island. With the growing importance of Vancouver there were suggestions that the seat of government should be moved to the Mainland. Victoria business interests suggested to Premier Theodore Davie that he should take steps to fix the capital permanently at Victoria by constructing new and costly legislative buildings there.

There is no doubt that there was need for more accommodation. The five pagoda-like buildings, off Birdcage Walk—as the present extension of Government Street through the James Bay District was known—had been constructed in 1859 for the official purposes of a small colony, but were insufficient for an active and growing province of Canada. Theodore Davie submitted a bill to the House in 1893 for the borrowing of $600,000 for new legislative and business offices. The bill carried, despite bitter opposition from some sections of the Mainland.

The buildings were completed in 1897, and were opened for the early session in the following year. The occasion, February 10, 1898, was one of great magnificence, the Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable T. R. McInnes, officiating. F. M. Rattenbury was the architect. His design contemplated a massive building in general Renaissance style, with a noble central dome, but taking much of its inspiration from the palace of an Indian prince. Supported by two smaller buildings connected by colonnades on either side, its proportions gave harmony and balance to the whole. Construction was largely carried out with native materials. The grey stone from Haddington Island, with which the main buildings are faced, has a peculiar property of reflecting the shades of the sky; the Assembly committee-rooms are finished in woods from B.C. forests. The Legislative Hall was enriched by Italian marble. The entire cost of the main buildings was approximately $981,000.

It was an immense sum for its time, but the Government had not been extravagant in all things. It was necessary to have a new mace for the opening of the House in such ornate surroundings. The old wooden one that had served for years was to be replaced. So a second-hand "symbol of authority" was purchased—along with some ink-well tops—in a job lot in Chicago, left-overs from the World's Fair in that city. That mace was used for every sitting of the Legislature from February 10, 1898, to February 16, 1954.

It was a commodious building. One minister, on moving into his spacious offices, complained that he could not get anyone to answer his bell. He would dash out into the corridor, and jump up and down, exclaiming that "they'll never fill this great barn in five hundred years." Additional space for Government has required the construction of many buildings in and about Victoria since that time.

Theodore Davie succeeded in "anchoring the capital" when he constructed the Parliament Buildings, but the University, when it was again made the subject of public consideration by Richard McBride, in 1910, went to Vancouver—and both cities were satisfied.


In keeping with other parts of the North American continent British Columbia was hard hit by the depression of the early "nineties." Dependent as the Province was on capital from outside, the financial stringency brought unemployment. Building stopped; idle men walked the streets; some churches opened soup-kitchens; vacant houses were to be found in nearly every block in Vancouver. The one bright spot was the activity in mining, as the result of interest engendered by the Rossland discoveries. The slack period had one good effect, however: it turned men's attention to land settlement. But even land development required money.

Then in 1897 there came whispers, quickly changing into joyous shouts, "Gold! Gold! Gold!!!", as almost unbelievable stories of treasure-paved creeks of the frozen Yukon circulated. A new strike had been made in the streams draining into the Klondyke. Little had been heard of the discovery until word of the clean-up of 1896-97 came down in the spring of '97—$2,000,000! Soon the world was on the move towards the unknown land of such fabulous richness.

Vancouver and Victoria were slow to realize the trade opportunities of the rush. Seattle, much more alert, reached out for business. Vessels of all sorts, steamers that had been rotting in the backwaters of every Pacific port, were hastily recommissioned, to sail north with every inch of space crowded with passengers and supplies. At last the British Columbia towns became busy; vacant stores were rented to traders specializing in mining outfits; shipyards started building stern-wheeled river-boats for northern streams and lakes; rooming-houses bulged with tenants, and cafés and lunch-counters started in every convenient corner of the business sections.

Vancouver, particularly, became active. Thousands tumbled in from every train: youngsters who had no idea of what lay before them; robust men totally inexperienced; old men who possessed courage and understanding but were weakened in physique—and women too, the painted brazens that participated in every rush; faithful wives and sturdy mothers who would not let their sons go unaccompanied—all were there. They came with piles of "supplies" that they could not transport beyond Vancouver, or if they did, would find of little use; or they came empty-handed hoping to pick up the bare necessities before boarding ship—any ship. And all wanted dogs. Never had such ignorance of canines been exhibited; never had such prices been paid for mongrels. Dogs were reputed to be the best means of transporting freighted sleighs over the frozen terrain—therefore dogs must be secured. The streets of Vancouver and Victoria witnessed ill-matched thoroughbreds and curs harnessed to laden sleighs being trained in the mud of the thoroughfares, with fur-coated, parka-clad, perspiring men shouting and cracking whips, urging recent lap-dogs and hounds to "mush on."

Never had there been such an "army of innocents" on the march, and with them, naturally, went many of the dregs of the underworld, thieves, gamblers, bullies, not to work in the frozen ground, but to prey upon those who did. And amid that motley throng were scarlet-tunicked, stetson-hatted men of the North West Mounted—a handful only, but representing the majesty of the Queen's laws, and justice—to win a new reputation for themselves and for Canada.

Hardly had the rush to the Klondyke creeks got under way before the heavy gold from the Atlin country, in British Columbia's northwest corner, drew thousands there in a second rush.

Gold, there was—for some; failure for the majority, but the gold from the Yukon and from Atlin gave new impetus to Vancouver and also brought a measure of prosperity to Victoria—and to lesser degrees the whole of British Columbia shared in it.


New Westminster was in a happy mood that Saturday night of September 10, 1898. Arrangements were being completed for the "biggest and best" exhibition ever held in the old city, on October 3. Business had been good that summer; crops had been abundant, and that very day 1,750 cases of canned salmon had been shipped to London, as an initial order. People were on their way home, and stores were being locked up, when about 11.45 p.m. there was an alarm of fire.

Horse-drawn equipment, under Acting Chief Watson, came thundering down Columbia Street, towards the flames on the river front that shot high against the dark background of the night. A spark from a passing steamer had ignited a great stock of hay piled on Brackman & Ker's wharf. Tinder dry, the hay whipped across Front Street to set the Lytton Hotel, the Webster and the Lee Tung Buildings alight.

Firemen, aided by the willing citizens, fought desperately. They might have won, had not two river-boats, the 'Gladys' and the 'Edgar', moored at the B & K dock, taken fire. Soon each was a mass of roaring flames; the cables burned through and these fire-boats were carried by the stream along the wharves, bumping from one to another—and setting fire wherever they touched. The 'Bon Accord' was set on fire and soon joined the other blazing vessels in their destructive course.

Valiantly the firemen fought, but were gradually forced back, and some hose was lost. Then Chief Watson ran to a telephone and asked Chief J. H. Carlisle, in Vancouver, for the loan of additional fire-hose. In a matter of minutes one thousand feet were on their way, and the chief was arranging for a second thousand to be sent. He detailed nine men to accompany the hose. Then he started for the scene himself in his light rig, and is reported to have reached the fire, twelve miles away, in approximately one hour.

When Chief Carlisle arrived the whole of Columbia Street's fine business section was a cauldron of flames; Chinatown was a furnace, and sparks and whirling embers carried by the high wind were raining down on the parched roofs of the residential areas. Men, women and children fought the spread of the fire and worked to salvage valuables. There was neither panic nor wailing, only desperate purpose.

Chief Carlisle, his men and the hose were welcomed by Chief Watson, who asked Carlisle to take charge of the eastern section of the city, where he rendered efficient service.

Nun Lee, a Chinese merchant, died in trying to save something from his burning office. Two firemen were severely injured, while many persons suffered lesser cuts and burns. All told, there were sixty blackened blocks when daylight came and the conflagration was finally stayed. The loss was estimated to be $2,500,000—or nearly twice that of Vancouver, suffered twelve years before. It was some hours later before Victoria learned of the burning of her old rival, the old capital city's telephone and telegraph lines having all been broken.

The Government took prompt action. The Federal authorities and the mayor were also informed, and by one o'clock a special train, laden with army and civilian tents, blankets and other supplies, was on its way to Nanaimo, seventy-five miles distant. It made a record run of ninety minutes, and by five o'clock the steamer 'Joan' was on her way with the relief stores for the stricken city. Vancouver and other nearby communities poured aid into the smoking town, while more distant centres wired funds and offers of additional help.

Within twenty-four hours New Westminster started rebuilding. The wonderful spirit of the people was exemplified when it was announced that "the exhibition will be held as arranged."


The Twentieth Century arrived to find the Empire at war and in that terrible conflict on the parched fields of South Africa Canada played a notable part. Among the finest of the Dominion troops in the Boer War were those from British Columbia. It was on February 27, 1900—the anniversary of a British defeat, some years before, at Majuba Hill—that Canadians helped to storm Cronje's position at Paardeburg and forced the "old fox" of the Boer army to surrender.

As troop-trains carried the laughing, cheering recruits off to the East, British Columbia flocked to the railway stations and crowded the right-of-way to wave adieu and shout good wishes. There were still sturdy, silver-haired old men who had seen the mad rush of gold-seekers to the Fraser and Cariboo in that throng; men who had stampeded to Cariboo and who had faced the dangers of savage wilds when the colonies were young. They had come to encourage by their presence the brave men who were off to protect the Empire. It was the end of an era; and here, too, the Pageant of B.C. should end.

It was indeed the end of one age, and the commencement of a new: the expansion and activities of new ways and new industries. And in the second year of the century the Great Queen—Victoria the Good—closed her eyes. She had mothered an Empire for more than three score years. She was on the throne ten years after Fort Langley was started, and six years before Douglas had laid out the plan for the fort that was named in her honour. Elderly people could scarce realize a world without her dominating personality.

Twice more in the next half-century were gallant young men from British Columbia destined to follow the war-trail in defence of the freedoms that the Empire represented; in their tens of thousands they went, and in every corner of the vast Province cenotaphs and plaques bespeak the reverence and gratitude of their fellow citizens for the great sacrifices made for King and Country.

The new century saw tremendous and varied development. Expansion of world trade followed close upon the end of the Boer War. Business delegations from the Mother Country came to see the land that had sent its fine fighting men to defend the Empire. They were astounded at the size, quality and quantity of the forest growth of British Columbia, and new orders for lumber were received—the start of the great trade that was to develop.

Mining, too, flourished, and on the Coast several smelters were constructed, while, in addition to the small plants at interior points, the furnaces that Heinze had built on the flat above Trail Creek grew and continued to grow until they became recognized as the foremost metallurgical works of its kind in the world.

Land settlement extended, and in the cities real-estate boomsters for a time ran riot, but the era of speculation that they initiated brought thousands of new citizens to the Province. Along with the realty madness of the cities, there developed a wild period of railway-building. The Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern (both now merged in the Canadian National system), the Kettle Valley line, consolidating various charters, and the Pacific Great Eastern gave employment to thousands of workers. Scores of villages, towns and cities sprang up along these lines.

Manufacturing followed population, and in turn demanded electric power beyond the possibility of production by steam-plants: this meant the tumbling rivers of the country must be harnessed. Today there are great mills and pulp-plants and industries utilizing the hydro-electric energy of mighty power-developments—and even larger ones are in contemplation. Burrard Inlet, the natural harbour, overlooked by the twin lions that Nature herself sculptured from mountain tops, is one of the great ports of the world. Her environs spread across to the north shore and up the steep slopes; and the city itself extends to the Fraser. And Victoria is still the Capital, and is even more admired by reason of its beauty and gracious living. There are scores of other cities—each with its own charm and character—and all playing their several parts in the Pageant of British Columbia.

[End of Pageant of B.C., by B. A. McKelvie]