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BC Historical Books

British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Voyages, travels, & adventures Emmerson, John 1865

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Chapter I. —Passage from Liverpool to New York..      1
Chapter II. —Description of New York—Voyage to
AspinwaU       7
Chapter III.—Isthmus and City of Panama—Voyage
to San Francisco «     15
Chapter IV.—San Francisco—Voyage to Vancouver's
—Interview with, the Governor of the Island ..,,    30
Chapter   V. —Adventures and Sufferings     35
Chapter VI. —Eight Months' Life in Victoria    ....    79
Chapter VEE. —Mr.   Fraser and the  Cariboo  Gold
Mines c     92
Chapter VOT.—Vancouver Island,   and Victoria its
Capital ,     104
Chapter IX. —The Homeward Voyage v i  140>
Chapter  X. —Hints to   intending Emigrants,  and
other matters ,., ,.,....  148-  BRITISH COLUMBIA.
It is inherent in man's nature to desire the advancement of
his condition in life ; and to gain that object,his efforts are
constant and varied. It is true, that erring in judgment, his
efforts are frequently misdirected, but'nevertheless his object
is to secure a greater amount of happiness than he already
enjoys, and whatever his circumstances in life may be, he
always imagines the world as something better in store for
him than it has ever yet bestowed; and as the butterfly is
lured from flower to flower, so is man from object to object.
This is a necessary ingredient in the human compound, for
without it, he would sink into hopeless despair, his endeavours
would cease, and there would be an end to all human progress.
Had man not possessed the spirit of enterprise and ambition
we could not now have boasted of our steam engines, our
electric telegraph, our ships that plough the mighty ocean;
nay, not even the most simple apparatus connected with
domestic life. But this principle is carried to an extreme, and
therein lies the evil. The thirst for gold, will tempt men to
leave their wives, their children, their homes, and everything
that is" dear to them; encounter the dangers and difficulties of
a voyage to the other side of the world, and endure all the
hardships, privations, and sufferings, that must either more or
less attend such an undertaking.    Whether it be wisdom for
B men under any circumstances whatever to allow themselves-
to be led away by gold excitements is a question I will leave
others to settle, but certain it is that in a majority of cases,
the most bitter disappointment is the result.
This craving for gold, combined with a strong desire to
better the position of my family, backed by the. flattering accounts written by Mr. Fraser, the Victoria correspondent of
the London Times, induced me, along with some friends, to
leave old England for the far distant gold regions of British
Columbia. These friends were Mr. William Mark and his
two sons, Edward and Robert, of Stockton ; Mr. James
Marquis, of Hamstexley; and Mr. George Little, of Wolsing-
The gold fever was raging ; we caught the infection, and
resolved to "\rowe our hurdles in a hammock, an' owre the
On Wednesday, the 2nd of April, 1862, we sailed from
Liverpool in the steamship City of Baltimore, belonging to
the Liverpool, New York, and Philadelphia Steamship Company. About 250 took their passage to New York. To
witness the parting of friends on such an occasion is exceedingly touching. Locked in each other's arms, what shedding
of tears—what heaving of sighs—what long lingering looks
are exchanged—what prayers are offered up by brokenhearted wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, for
the safety of those who are as dear to them as their own
lives, and who are about to leave their homes, perhaps never,
never to return!
We steamed away about 1 p.m. amidst deafening hurrahs
and waving of handkerchiefs, and many an eye bedimmed
with tears watched us till out of sight.
We retire early, but the mind is too much agitated to allow
of sleep.
Thursday the 3rd—a beautiful morning—nothing of importance to relate, except sea sickness, which the sufferers
thought important enough. Arrived at Queenstown about
one o'clock in the afternoon, took in upwards of 800 more
passengers, of high and low degree. The stowing away of
those passengers with their baggage was quite a scene; such
a rushing, and tumbling, and crushing, and even lushing, for
not a few of the darling boys had provided themselves with a
** dhrop of the crather," " to cheer our hearts with sure. Be it said, to the credit of those Irish people, that one and
all conducted themselves with the greatest propriety during
the voyage across the Atlantic.
We left Queenstown about five in the evening, and were
soon out on the wide, wide sea. The whole of our party,
m}'self excepted, are sea sick. William Mark and his two
sons are showing unmistakeable signs of a severe attack.
James Marquis is likewise sick, but not to such an extent.
George Little is a little sick, but evidently does not intend to
be much affected.
We turn in about nine o'clock and are soon rocked to sleep.
Friday the 4th, I awoke about one in the morning, and for
some time paced the upper deck, contemplating the wonders
of the mighty deep. A delightful morning till the middle of
the forenoon, when the sky becomes overcast, the wind increases, with a heavy swell at sea ; we ship several seas, and
the vessel rolls so much, we find it difficult to keep our equilibrium. All this is alarming to many, but the danger is not
great, though the scene is sufficient to give an idea of a storm
at sea. Sea sickness is now the order of the day, and out of
the 600 souls on board scarcely 20 have escaped. What
haggard, ghastly, corpse-like countenances meet the view at
every turn, and strong, healthy, robust men form no exception ; and then substances in every direction greet the olfactory
nerve in a manner that is anything but agreeable. To witness
600 people suffering from, sea sickness is a scene difficult to
describe :
it must be seen to be  comprehended.
Little has quite recovered, the rest are
ill;   William
Mark is quite prostrate. As for myself I am evidently proof
against sea sickness ; I have never felt the least tendency ;
on the contrary, I seem to possess twice my usual amount
of energy and physical power. I enjoy this rather heavy sea
exceedingly well; I wish I could say the same regarding my
dinner to-day. Stinking salt fish, with lukewarm potatoes,
sad as fiver, form the repast, and certainly the most villainous
dinner I ever partook of. However, salt fish is allotted to us
only one day in the week, and what we are served with on
the other days is " pushdownable," providing one has a
ravenous appetite. As evening approaches the little storm
abates, the 'wind is hushed, the sea becomes comparatively
calm, and our trusty ship glides smoothly on. After we have
gulped down our milkless apology for tea, and butterless
p.2 fc*'-T#m i irW^''ii<M
hard biscuit, and while every stroke of the piston widens
the gap between us and our beloved homes, we sit down to
talk of those who are so dear to us, and whom we have left
far, far behind ; and at nine we retire to rest, and dream of
those we love.
Saturday the 5th.—A delightful morning ; calm sea, with
a pleasant breeze. A marked change has taken place in the
health of the passengers. Sea sickness not so prevalent.
The whole of our little band seem to be new men. The
afternoon turns hazy, with frequent heavy showers of rain,
but clears up towards evening. A most magnificent night—
the moon and stars shining in all their glory, and the ocean,
from the reflection of the Queen of night, appears to be as
one vast expanse of sparkling, dancing, liquid silver, and our
vessel majestically bounding o'er the waves as a thing of life.
The scene is enchanting—'tis truly sublime. We amuse ourselves for a considerable time with watching the thousands
of phosphorent lights which seem to emanate from the spray
by the side of the ship, said to be decomposed matter or
Meanwhile fiddling, dancing, and card playing are being
carried on with spirit in the steerage; but, not being interesting to us, we remain on deck till it is all over, and about ten
we seek our bunks : lie down on our hard straw mattress to
sleep if we can.
Sunday the 6th.—A glorious sunny morning, but a stiff
breeze right in our teeth: the sea tolerably calm. We observe a notice to the effect that Captain Jeffreys will distribute
tracts and Bibles at ten o'clock, and a second notice, *' to
Protestants only," intimating that divine service will take
place in the saloon at half-past ten.
We attend divine service, and at the same time Father
Skilly, a Roman Catholic priest, is preaching to the Irish
people in the steerage. In the afternoon the sky becomes
overcast, followed by pelting showers of rain. As evening
approaches the wind increases to half a hurricane, and the
rapidly swelling waves assume a threatening aspect, the sea
frequently washing the decks, and the ship rolling and pitching fearfully.
About nine o'clock a heavy sea strikes the vessel, which
makes her reel like a drunken man, and the next moment
she gives a lurch, which changes her decks from the hori- zontal to an almost perpendicular position. At the same
time a loud squall proceeds from below, while numbers
measure their length on the floor: men, women, and children
jumbled together in one confused mass; and various utensils,
such as carpet bags and clothes boxes, empty barrels, tin
plates and dishes, knives and forks, buckets and bottles,
dance jigs in all directions ; while sacks of flour and barrels
of biscuit break their tether, and rush across the decks with
marvellous velocity ; and to avoid fractured legs, it is necessary to make immediate arrangements for getting out of the
way. At this moment I happen to be holding hard by the
steerage door, and consequently escape the general confusion.
We retire about ten o'clock, and commit ourselves, not to the
mercy of the waves, but to the strength and capabilities of
the steamship, City of Baltimore.
Monday the 7th.—This morning, about half-past two, a
tremeidous sea strikes the ship, which, suddenly arouses us
from our slumbers, the water rushing over the decks in torrents. I venture out to view the scene, which is awfully
grand The night is dark as the grave—the wind bellowing
through the rigging with a deep melancholy moan resembling
distant thunder, and the ocean roaring like a thousand lions,
boiling and foaming and lashing the ship on all sides, seeming
to threaten instant destruction. For the first time a feeling
of insecurity creeps over me, and to use a sea phrase, " I
tremble from stem to stern." I am soon followed on deck
by a number of the sons of the emerald isle, "who have left
their beds in terror." I am accosted by one with " Masther,
sure an' that's awful: I thought we was all goin' to the
bottom o' the say."
As dawn approaches, the sea becomes comparatively calm,
and we go on our way rejoicing. The forenoon is sunny, but
the wind dead against us. Fine all day; at night a strong
breeze sets in. which causes the ship to roll very much. Sea
sickness has almost vanished, our party being all well and in
good spirits. Fiddling, dancing, and song make the evening's entertainment, but we take no part in it; and about ten
take a journey to the land of Nod, but are soon aroused from
our slumbers by a variety of articles making their nightly
perambulations around the decks, producing a combination
of sound not altogether favourable to sound sleeping.
Tuesday the 8th.—Fine frosty morning. To-night, if all's
■    A3 G
but  steaming
wind   not  so
we meet with
well, we shall be half way across the Atlantic, and consequently over 1,500 miles from old England.
Wednesday the  9th.—Strong head  wind,
pretty well.    Nothing worth relating.
Thursday the 10th.—Tolerable morning,
•violent, but quite contrary. In the afternoon
a steamer bound for Liverpool from New York. A most
delightful evening, scarcely a hatful of wind ; the sea smooth
as a mill pond ; bearing away to the south to avoid the icebergs off Newfoundland.
Friday the 11th.—Morning: .thick weather, with heavy
rain. Afternoon: strong wind, but fair and sunny; meet
with a large sailing vessel bound to England and speak with
her. Evening : strong wind and a little swell at sea ; witness
several silent discharges of the electric fluid, which produces
a grand effect. The ship rolls terribly all night, sq that we
have to hold on hard to prevent being pitched out of bed.
Sleep is out of the question, for every portable article is flying
round the decks like fury.
Saturday the 12th.—Blowing almost a hurricane, with
rather a rough sea.
Sunday the 13th.—The wind increases in violence, the sea
continually washing the decks, which creates anything but
pleasing reflections. The sailors call this calm weather, but
I rather differ with them. The Atlantic may be compared to
araveDOus angry wild beast, threatening every moment to fly
into a violent rage, and devour everything within its reach. \
Monday the 14th.—While we have been reposing in the
arms of Morpheous, what 'a change has come o'er the scene:
the wind is subdued to a gentle breeze ; the sea smooth as a
board, and the sun shining with splendour. At seven this
morning we pass the steamer Etna, bound to Liverpool,
salutes are fired, and signals exchanged. How cheering to
meet with a ship at sea, where there are fellow mortals sharing
with us the dangers of the deep. To meet a ship at sea, is
like meeting with an old friend—she is hailed with delight.
A beautiful day, but cold. We expect to get a glimpse of
the American Continent to-morrow.
This is a glorious moonlight night; the sea like a sheet
of ice ; the spirits of all run high. Nearly all the passengers on the. upper deck assembled in groups— some dancing,
some singing, and others conversing, each according to his own individual taste. As for ourselves we are earnestly
engaged talking of home, and those who lay so near our
hearts, remarking to each other " what an anxious time this
will be for our dear wives and children, who will, no doubt,
be deeply concerned for our safety." But here we are " not
on the land of the living," but on the briney ocean, and in
prospect of a speedy termination to our first voyage.
Tuesday the 15th.—A fine morning, but chilly; the pilot
taken on board at five o'clock a.m. Distant from New
York 150 miles. Afternoon, abreast of Long Island, which
is 120 miles in length, and 35 in width; we observe numbers of beautiful little villages as we glide. along. This
is a magnificent day, scarcely a ripple on the water; towards
evening American land is descried, and as we approach New
York, guns are fired, and rockets projected high in the air as
signals of our arrival. Everyone seems to be in-high glee,
congratulating themselves and each other on their safe"
arrival. About nine at night we cast anchor in New York
harbour, but must remain on board all night.
Wednesday the 16th.—About eleven o'clock this morning,
after no end of indescribable confusion, the living freight is
safely placed on terra firma, without a single accident during
our trip across the mighty Atlantic.
The Atlantic ocean contains an area of twenty-five million
square miles.
New York is a mighty city, containing a population of about
900,000, and owns one of the largest shipping ports in the
world ; it stands next to London, Liverpool being the largest.
The American 3hips are splendid specimens of naval archi*
tecture, but as they are built of softwood, they do not possess
the strength and durability of our English-made vessels.
The Central Park is a magnificent place, comprising several
hundred acres, and contains the botanical gardens, cricket
ground, skating pond, parade ground, a beautiful lake and reservoir.    The  park  is tastefully  laid  out  and beautified
with shrubs and flowers, fountains and statuary.
The Merchants' Exchange, the City Hall, the Custom
House, the Cooper Institute, the Trinity Church, and the
City Prison called the Tombs, are large and costly bu ild ings.
New York can boast of several splendid libraries. The
Astor Free Library contains 120,000 volumes ; the Mercantile, 64,000; the Society, 50,000; the Historical Society,
25,000 ; and the Apprentices', 19,000.
The hotels are on a vast scale, gorgeously fitted up. The
Croton Aqueduct is one of the most important of the public
works, which was-executed at a cost of twenty million dollars.
It brings a stream of pure soft water to the city a distance of
40 miles.
Broadway, the principal thoroughfare, is a noble street, and
stretches over five miles. Many of the structures are built of
granite, and some of. white polished marble.
This street from morning till night literally swarms with
pedestrians, and vehicles of every possible! description ; and
in this respect closely resembles the busy parts of London.
With the exception of Broadway, however, there is nothing
in the streets of New York particularly attractive. On the
contrary, we were utterly astonished to find many of the
streets in such a filthy condition ; cartloads of dirt and ashes
lying in all directions, and ugly looking holes in the streets,
some of them large enough to bury a man in.
Many parts of New York left the impression that it was a
grand city in decay, greatly requiring renovation.
A few hundred tons of paint would improve its appearance
very considerably.
The people of New York pay little attention to shop window displays. There is a wide difference in this respect
between New York and many of our large towns in England.
Nothing has a greater tendency to improve the appearance of
a street than neatly-decorated shop windows, and in that particular New York entirely fails.
Street railways are common in New York. The American
railway cars are considered quite superior to our English
railway carriages. They are about twice the length of ours,
and so constructed as to allow a person to walk along the
centre the whole length of the train. The seats are placed
transversely along each side of the car, each seat comfortably 9
accommodating two persons. The backs of the seats are
made to turn both ways, so that the passenger can sit with
his face to which end of the train he thinks proper. There
are no side doors, the means of ingress and egress being at
the ends of the cars. A string passes along the inside of the
roof of the cars, and is attached to an alarum placed near the
engine driver, to call attention in case of danger or accident.
Nearly every passenger being in view of each other, the perpetration of crime is impossible.
There is no first, second, or third class. The fare is one;
and as regards railway travelling, all are equal in America.
New York is situated at the mouth of the Hudson, 225
miles from Washington, 1,397 from New Orleans, 210 from
Boston, and 372 miles from Montreal.
The harbour has space and depth for whole fleets of vessels
of the largest size.
The steamer Champion was to sail on the 21st instant for
Aspinwall, and when we applied for our tickets at the Cali-
fornian Shipping Office, we found every berth in the ship
engaged, except a few in the second Cabin ; and so tremendous was the rush, that numbers were procuring tickets for
the next boat, which was to sail a fortnight afterwards. Our
only alternative was to wait that time, or take berths in the
second cabin. We resolved to adopt the latter plan, and
accordingly paid 150 dollars each for our passage through to
San Francisco. We each held three tickets : the first, for the
passage to Aspinwall; the second, for the Panama Railroad;
and the third,-for the passage from'Panama to San FrancisGO.
On Monday morning, the 21st, that part of the city in the
immediate neighbourhood of the docks presented an appearance of the most animated description; and as the hour of
departure drew near, a continuous stream of passengers, accompanied by their friends, was seen wending their way
towards the place of embarkation. Scores of waggons heavily
laden with huge boxes and carpet bags were disgorging their
contents by the side of the ship, and thousands of spectators
were present watching the busy scene; while those who had
an eye to business were recommending their wares at the
highest pitch of their voice, which produced a confusion of
language that might throw into the shade that at the building
of Babel.
One thousand human beings were  taken on board the 10
Champion ; and then was witnessed' another parting scene
that baffles description : wives clinging around the necks of
their husbands absolutely frantic with grief, which was heartrending to behold, for we could not avoid the conviction that
many an affectionate wedded pair were now gazing on each
other for the last time.
As the vessel moved from the dock the air was rent with
hurrahs from thousands of tongues, which was exciting in the
extreme ; and as we glided swiftly away, a perfect forest of
upturned faces kept intently gazing on the rapidly receding
vessel and her living freight, and thousands of handkerchiefs
fluttered in the breeze till we disappeared in the distance.
That vessel contained many a dear one, who was all the
world to some now left behind. That night many a bereaved
wife would return to her own fireside with a sorrowful heart,
for by the side of that fire stood a vacant chair. That night
would be a sleepless one for many a poor wife, mother, and
sister, and many a pillow that night would be deluged with
With us it was a gloomy, stormy night at sea.
" The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling show'rs rose on the blast."
And the sea ran high—the waves continually breaking over
the ship, which was rolling, and pitching, and straining fearfully; and the whole ten hundred people, with the exception
of very few, were completely prostrate with sea sickness; the
great majority being down below, and quite incapable of rendering themselves the least assistance. On the upper deck a
■scene was to be witnessed which we thought would have
melted the hardest heart that ever beat in a human bosom :—
upwards of 200 steerage passengers—men, women, and children—who had no place below whereon to lay their heads,
were huddled together on deck, at the fore part of the ship,
exposed to the dreadful cold wind which then prevailed, the
sea continually washing over them, till the poor creatures
were half drowned. Their case was most pitiable, and many
of us would have gladly given up our berths to the poor suffering women and children, 'but it was not allowed. One
man, however, succeeded in smuggling down a poor young
woman, more dead than alive—placed her in his berth, and
sat up all night himself.
The American steamboat owners cannot be too severely. 11
censured for taking
accommodate : but
on board more passengers than they can
with them the " almighty dollar" is the
only consideration. The boat which sailed previous to ours
contained, we were told, fifteen hundred souls !
Next morning we found old neptune in excellent humour,
and the remainder of the voyage to Aspinwall was everything
that could be desired, with nothing in the shape of sea storms
to break its monotony. Chess, draughts, dominoes, cards,
and books were had recourse to.; and the frequent appearance
of whales, sharks, dolphins, porpoises, the nautilus, and flying
fish, &c, &c, was a constant source of amusement.
Porpoises are seldom seen, except in flocks of from half-a-
dozen to fifty, and sometimes they congregate in numbers
amounting to several hundreds. We have more than once
seen them occupy a line at least a mile in length. They
have a peculiar method of tumbling about on the surface of
the water, and sometimes gambol about the bow of the ship.
They swim with surprising velocity; far outstripping the.
swiftest steamboat. Their appearance is believed to prognosticate stormy weather, and on that account the sailors .
detest them.
The porpoise measures from six to seven feet in length, is
very thick in the fore parts, and gradually tapering towards
the tail; its snout resembles that of a hog.
All sorts of small fish constitute their prey, but especially
herrings, mackerel, cod, and haddock. The porpoise not only
hunts for prey near the surface, but frequently descends to
the bottom in search of eels and sea worms, which it roots
out of the sand with its snout in the manner hogs harrow up
the ground : hence, it has obtained the name of sea-hog.
The porpoise yields a considerable quantity of oil: the lean
of the young ones is wholesome, and has nearly the flavour
of veal. In America the skin is tanned and dressed, which
makes excellent covering for carriages.
The dolphin strongly resembles the porpoise, but is about
3 feet longer; also its snout is longer and more pointed.
The flying fish is about the size of a herring, and an interesting little thing it is. In the tropics we saw myriads of
them, for almost every bound of the ship scared hundreds of
them from the water, frequently knocking each other down
in their haste to escape ; they, no doubt, imagine a ship to
be some monster fish about to devour them. They are exceed- 12
ingly timid, and as they are chased by the dolphin, porpoise,
and other large fish, they take to the air for safety; but all
animated nature seem combined against them, for the tropic
bird and the albatross are ever on the alert to seize them. The
wing of the flying fish is long, thin, and tapering, and they
appear to possess as perfect self-command in the air as in the
water, and fly with amazing speed. At a distance they so
1 closely resemble a flock of birds, that it requires a practiced
eye to detect the difference. They are capable of flying some
two or three hundred yards, when 'they suddenly drop into
the water, some of them, no doubt, to be instantly devoured;
for while they are skimming along about three feet above the
surface, it is said their voracious enemy is swiftly gliding
beneath in the same direction ready to seize upon them when
they return to their watery element.
The nautilus, or sailing fish, is a wonderful production of
nature. Amongst seamen it has obtained the name of " the
Portuguese Man-of-War," in consequence of its resemblance
to a ship under sail. The nautilus is a shell fish belonging
the sea-snail kind, and can quit and resume its snell at plea-
suie. When on the surface of the water its body presents
the appearance of an oblong air bubble, seven or eight inches
in length, which is fringed around by a crumpled fleshy sub -
stance; attached to which are several arms used as propelling paddles, and which are connected to each other by a
very thin transparent skin. This wonderful little animal is
likewise furnished with a half moon shaped membrane, about
eight inches in height, and same in width, which it can raise
as a sail to catch the breeze; and thus it glides along iiie
surface of the water. At a distance these sails resemble fine
tissue paper, many of which are as white as driven snow, but
some are red, some purple, and some blue, which colours are
all exceedingly rich.
When the nautilus is threatened with danger it instantly
gathers in its paddles, furls its sail, creeps into its shell, which
is exceedingly thin and light; absorbs a portion of water,
which renders it heavier than the surrounding element: and
it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. It is supposed that in
the early ages, the art of navigation owed its origin to the
management of this instinctive sailor.
About the West India Islands we witnessed some of those
splendid sunsets which no pen nor pencil can pourtray.    In 13
the golden tinted clouds the wrapt fancy sees hills and dales,
cliffs and craggs, fields and forests, rivers and lakes, gardens
and shrubberies, fountains and statuary, and a thousand other
things wild and enchanting.
We steamed close past the east end of Cuba, and on the
left we sighted Hayti. We did not, however, come within
sight of the Island of Jamaica.
The heat was now becoming oppressive, which compelled
us to quit our berths below, and sleep on the upper deck.
About 9 p.m., on the 30th of April, we arrived at Aspinwall, our voyage from New York having occupied nine days
and a half.
Unfortunately, I was suffering from a severe attack of
rheumatic gout in one of my feet, which prevented me in a
great measure from peering about, and noting the peculiarities of the place and its inhabitants. However, I ventured
out with some of our party, and crawled about as well as I
could. The place was dimly lighted with oil lamps, which
half reminded one of the song called " The light of other
What we witnessed was of an extraordinary character, ar.d
the first thing that attracted our attention was a number of
native women, in an almost perfect state of nudity, sitting in
the streets smoking cigars, with a t$ble before them laden
with goods, which they offered for 3ale to the passers by.
These goods consisted of beautiful native shells, worked into
baskets; ladies' work-boxes, and other devices ; fruits, consisting of bananas, pine-apples, cocoa-nuts, oranges, limes,
lemons, sugar-cane, &c, all of which were very cheap. A
very palatable beverage, composed of lemons, sugar, and iced
water, commanded an extensive sale at five cents, or two-pence
halfpenny per glass or half pint.
Gamblers were located in different parts of the streets with
crowds of people around them ; but, being lame, I could not
force my way through to make myself acquainted with their
method of gambling, nor had my companions any inclination
to inquire into the particulars of it.
The streets are paraded by native women of loose charater;
although they were the most ugly and repulsive specimens
of humanity that mortal eyes ever beheld, encased in a thin
loose white dress, fan in hand, with a janty air they swaggered
about as though they imagined themselves the greatest
beauties in existence,   They made no secret of their disreput- 14
able calling, but with indecent language accosted the white
men, and sometimes actually laid hands on them, who invariably turned away from them in disgust
These detestable women appeared to enjoy this sort of fun
amazingly—frequently indulging in boisterous laughter. They
seemed to be well aware that their overtures were exceedingly
obnoxious to the white men, and did it perhaps more to amuse
themselves and annoy the others than for any other object.
At a random guess the population of Aspinwall is perhaps
about 2,000. The houses are built principally of wood, more
than half of which are restaurants and billiard rooms ; meals
are charged one dollar each, and a bed the same for one
The atmosphere at Aspinwall is completely impregnated
with the scent of rich fruit.
The banana grows from five to nine inches in length, and
in shape resembles the cucumber. It is a soft, luscious fruit;
in flavour resembling a very ripe pear; the skin is perfectly
smooth, and when ripe, quite yellow, and easily peeled off.
As many as a hundred will grow on one stem, which is about
one and a-half inches in thickness, and very strong; and as
they grow closely packed all round the stem, they form a
bunch of immense size and weight, some of them almost as
much as a man can lift from the ground.
Next morning, by seven o'clock, the Champion had discharged her cargo, both animate and inanimate ; and as there
were two or three hours to dispose of before the train started
over the isthmus for Panama, these ten hundred people had
that time to kill by some means ; and those who were bent on
gratifying their curiosity perambulated the streets in a half
roasted condition, but the majority sought shelter, and were
busily engaged trying to keep themselves cool, a task by no
means easy of accomplishment, for the sun was pouring down
his rays to a degree overpowering. The temptation to bathe
was almost irresistible, but we were cautioned by the natives
against doing so. One of our passengers, nevertheless, had
the hardihood to venture into the water, and was immediately
stung in the foot by some venomous animal; he Was under
the care of the ship's doctor about a fortnight, and fortunately
By half-past ten we were all seated in the railway cars, and
when the signal was given, " amidst deafening shouts from the
natives," we rushed into the wild woods of Central America. 15
The Rev. Thomas Milner, in his Gallery of Geography, says,
" Central America, in the geographical sense, embraces the
whole of the narrow portion of the Continent between its two
main masses. But the political signification is restricted to
the space occupied by the States within its limits, which are
included between the northern Isthmus of Tehuantepec, belonging to Mexico, and the southern Isthmus of Panama, a
part of the Granadian Confederation. This territory is washed
on the eastern side by the Caribbean Sea, an arm of the
Atlantic, which deeply invades the shores, and by the waters
of the Pacific on the western, which have a comparatively
smooth coast-line. It has a length of about 900 miles from
north-west to south-east, by a very varying breadth, contracting from 300 miles to less than 80. miles ; and an area computed at nearly 190,000 square miles. High table lands,,
traversed by mountainous ridges and overtopped by volcanic-
cones, occupy a large proportion of the interior, where the
scenery is splendid, and the climate is rendered singularly
balmy by the elevation; while the fierce heat of the torrid
zone is experienced on the maritime lowlands.
" But the beautiful in the landscape is often seen in close-
alliance with memorials of a terrible agency; and the calm
of nature is frequently interrupted by physical convulsions.
" In many parts, sudden chasms, deep rents, and capricious,
twistings of the surface bear unmistakable evidence of having:
been caused by violent paroxysms of volcanic action; and few
regions at present are more subject to furious outbursts front
the constantly-smoking craters, with displays of the earthquake's dreadful power. Upon the achievement of independence from the Spanish monarchy, the five states which then*
formed themselves into a federation adopted for their national,
cognizance, in allusion to the natural peculiarities of the
country, the figure of five volcanoes on a plain, bordered on.
either side by the ocean.
" The indigenous vegetation is- very diversified, and rendered luxuriant by heavy seasonal rains in connection with
the hot climate.    It constitutes the main source of wealth,. aa.i
cedar, mahogany, and dye
, balsams, gums, and other
embracing magnificent trees of
woods, with sarsaparilla, vanilh
medicinal plants.
I The cultivated products include the cochineal plant,
digo, sugar, cotton, coffee, tobacco, cacao, and fruits.
" Some of the birds are of great beauty; as the quesal,
most frequently met with in Guatimala, remarkable for its
exquisite green plumage, spotted on the wings with brilliant
red and black, while the long feathers of the tail are of green,
powdered with gold. The population, upwards of 2,000,000,
consists of whites chiefly of Spanish descent, and a large
number of native Indians, with a mixed race called Ladinos,
and a few negroes. Though converts generally to Roman
Catholicism, and speaking the Spanish language, some of the
Indians in the secluded mountain districts adhere to ancestral
forms of idolatry, and retain their native dialect."
At Aspinwall, the English language is spoken correctly.
The Isthmus of Panama is a narrow neok of land, only 47
miles in breadth, which separates the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans. A railroad and telegraphic wire stretches across,
connecting Panama, on the Pacific side, with Aspinwall on
the Atlantic, by which means Cape Horn and the whole of
South America is cut off, thereby reducing the distance
between England and Vancouver Island from over 20,000
miles to 10,000 miles.
The isthmus is a dense romantic forest, rank with luxuriant tropical plants and fruit trees ; and after the sea voyage,
the trip by rail through this charming scenery was an agreeable change to the sea-worn eyesight, and greatly relished
by all.
The natives are existing in a very primitive state. In
crossing the isthmus, we observed several native villages
scattered along the route; many of their wigwams being
mere sheds of the rudest description, thickly thatched with
tropical leaves to protect them from the sun and rain. These
leaves are an enormous size, measuring 8 or 10 feet in length
and from 2 to 3 feet in width. The native men and women
are going about within a shade of being naked; the children
are perfectly so. It was amusing to see those little black
fellows standing, with their hands behind their backs,
watching the train as it passed, and looking as innocent as
possible.    It appears these children feed principally upon 17
fruit and vegetables, which may account for their " bellies"
being such an enormous size.
Close by the side of the railroad we observed two or three
extensive stone quarries, where a great number of natives
were employed working out the stone.    With the exception
i;of a Panama hat on their head, and a piece of thin calico
around their middle, they were working in their bare pelts,
the perspiration pouring from the pores of the skin to a degree
that threatened their speedy annihilation.    Attached to each
of these quarries is a machine driven by steam power for
crushing up the stone, which is done most effectually.    To
what use this stone is put we could not ascertain—perhaps
for ballasting the railroad.    ' {'he Panama Railway is a paying
concern, "allowing, it is said, 30 per cent, per annum.    A few
miles of the line from Aspinwall runs through a swamp ; the
rest lies through deep cuttings and over embankments, with
many very sharp curves and iron bridges.    At intervals of
four miles there are neat and elegant wooden buildings,
beautifully painted and ornamented, each with a sweetly pretty
flower garden attached.    These charming little places are for
the   double   purpose  of   stations,   and  residences  for   the
managers of the railway.    The managers, we were told, are
white men; and I may here observe that a few Europeans
are to be found in this part of the world conducting the work
that is going on; but I imagine they must receive liberal
wages indeed to induce them to live in such a country, for it
is one of the most unhealthy places on the face of the earth.
The sacrifice of human life which took place during the making of this railroad is fearful to contemplate.    Hands could
not be supplied fast enough, and the works were frequently
suspended, so terrible were the ravages of the yellow fever.
We were told that as many workmen fell victims to the
Panama fever as there are railway sleepers over the whole
length of the line—upwards of 82,000 ; but I am inclined to
think it an exaggeration.
The fare for this 47 miles railway journey is 25 dollars, or
five pounds, four shilhngs, and twopence. This exorbitant
charge may be accounted for by the railway having cost
twelve millions of dollars ; besides, there is no opposition.
A run of three hours through this enchanting scenery
brought us to the ancient city of Panama, which stands on
the Pacific coast. 18
Panama is the capital of the Isthmus, the site of which has
been once changed. According to the Encyclopaedia Bri-
tannica, " the old city stood about three miles east from the
present situation, and on the first arrival of the Spaniards in
1515 it was occupied by an Indian population, who were attracted to the spot on account of the vast abundance of fish
on the coast, and gave the name of Panama to their place of
residence, that word, in their language, signifying ' much
fish.' The natives, however, were speedily dispossessed by
their ruthless invaders; and as early as the year 1521 the
title and privileges of a city were conferred on the Spanish
town by the Emperor Charles V. In the year 1670 old
Panama was reduced to a heap of ruins by the pirate Morgan,
and it was after this catastrophe that the city was built on the
spot where it now stands. The harbour of Panama is protected
by a number of small islands lying at a little distance from
the main land, and highly cultivated. These spots upon the
sea, scattered around the Bay of Panama, are the gardens of
the town, and afford a plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables.
There is good anchorage under the lee of them all, and besides
the productions of the soil good water can be obtained from
nearly the whole of them. The plan of the city is somewhat
irregular. The buildings are of stone and generally most
substantial, and are constructed in the old Spanish style.
Amongst edifices of a public nature may be mentioned a
beautiful cathedral, four convents, now altogether deserted ;
a nunnery, a college, and also the walls of another, which
was begun on a magnificent scale, but was never finished,
and is now crumblingto ruins. Immediately around Panama
eastward along the coast, and north-westward from it, the
land is low and flat; but westward and north-eastward the
m,ountains approach it closely, and from a hill in the vicinity
about six hundred feet in height a view may be obtained of
the sea with its islands, and the country with its forest-mantled
mountains and its green savannas. The beach is fringed
with plantain and banana trees, growing amongst oranges,
figs, and limes, and numberless, rich shrubs shaded by the
tamarind, which crowns them all, except the cocoa-nut with
its feathery top and naked stem."
Panama is celebrated for its gold chains, in the manufac
ture  of which the natives   are remarkably expert.
Panama hat is a favourite bead dress in the country
it is 19
well adapted to the climate, being very light, its broad brim
protecting the neck and shoulders from the powerful rays pf
the sun. It costs from 2 to 20 dollars, ^according to quality.
The population of Panama, we were told, amounts to upwards of 20,000. We were joined here by 200 passengers
from Southampton, and the steamship St. Louis, which was
destined to convey those twelve hundred people to San Francisco, was lying off a few miles, to which vessel we were
taken in small steamers. The transhipment was a scene of
indescribable confusion, which I have good reason to remember, for I got the life half trampled out of me in the fray.
Having had to walk some two hundred yards from the train
to the wharf with my foot tied up in a handkerchief, the
lameness increased to a very inconvenient degree, and the
pain became excruciating. While passing along the gangway to go on board the St. Louis I broke down, 'and was
assisted on board by two or three sailors. I was placed in a
passage on one side of the vessel among hundreds of bundles,
bags, and boxes, and there left to my fate.
The passage in which I was laid was the one leading to
the steerage staircase, along which were rushing men and
women in wild confusion, the object of each being to obtain
a comfortable sleeping berth. There was not accommodation
of this sort for all, and each was anxious to secure a place for
himself. It was left to the passengers to choose their own
bunks ; and hence this fearful rushing, which lasted for hours.
During that time I lost sight of all our party, for they, like the
rest, were busily engaged.
My condition was anything but an enviable one, and in such
a crowd I could not render myself the least assistance, and
was kicked about in all directions.
Ever and anon, some man or woman laden with bundles
and carpet bags, would tumble head over heels right over
me—my gouty foot never escaping a terrible squeeze. Sometimes three or four would tumble over me altogether, when I
actually thought I had to be killed and buried at a moment's
Those who have experienced an attack of gout in the big
toe will form some idea of what were my sufferings. Eventually, however, my painful condition attracted the attention
and aroused the sympathy of half-a-dozen Canadians, two of
whom forced a way through the crowd; while the other four, k     -rHiM-Tf
each having hold of a limb, conveyed me away with great
difficulty to the hurricane deck, where they laid me on my
back, and formed themselves in o a ring'around me, to protect
me from the crushing of the crowd. These kind-hearted
fellows remained with me until my friend's came and took me
under their care.
While all this was going on, the light-fingered gentry were
busily engaged in their nefarious work, and a considerable
amount of luggage property was stolen. One of our party,
George Little, lost a bundle containing a pair of excellent
blue blankets, and a pair of new Wellington boots, besides
an odd boot belonging to my gouty foot. Of course,
there was little chance of ever discovering the thief, or recovering the things; but, strange to say, a fortnight afterwards, when within three days' sail of San Francisco, my
boot turned up unexpectedly at the exact time it was wanted.
An acquaintance found it in a corner of one of the cowhouses,
and brought it to me. It appears the thief had thrown the
odd boot away as useless ; but he took particular care of the
property belonging to Little, for he never saw them afterwards.
So ended the adventure with the gout and the boot. At
eight o'clock p.m., all being in readiness, we weighed anchor
and commenced our Pacific voyage.
About 12 miles from Panama we passed a little town and
harbour, called Tabago, at which place there are some rather
extensive copper works where stills are manufactured for the
distillation of spirits.
There is a regular dockyard and steam foundry originally
placed there, with a view to steam communication with
Taking a survey of the heavens, we observed constellations
of stars in the southern hemisphere which are never visible
in Europe. One of these is exceedingly beautiful: it consists of four stars, and is known amongst astronomers as the
constellation of the cross. Stars in the southern hemisphere
shine with greater brilliancy than those stars of the first magnitude which are visible in Europe, owing, no doubt, to the
clearer st.te of the atmosphere in a tropical climate.
Humboldt refers to his first view of ithis constellation with
peculiar feeling. " We saw distinctly, for the first time," he
observes, *' the cross of the South, on the nights of the 4th 21
and 5th of July, in the sixteenth degree of latitude; it was
strongly inclined, and appeared from time to time between
the clouds, the centre of which, furrowed by uncondensed
lightnings, reflected a silver light. The pleasure felt on discovering the Southern Cross was warmly shared by such of
the crew as had lived in the colonies. In the solitude of the
seas we hail a star as a friend, from whom we have been long
separated. Among the Portuguese and the Spaniards peculiar
motives seem to increabe this feeling: a religious sentiment
attaches them to a constellation, the form of which recalls the
sign of the faith planted by their ancestors in the deserts of
the new world.
The two great stars which mark the summit and the foot
of the cross have nearly the same right as?ension ; it follows
that the constellation is almost perpendicular at the moment
it passes the meridian. This circumstance is known to every
nation that lives beyond the tropics, or in the southern
hemisphere. It is known at what hour of the night, in different seasons, the Southern Cross is erect or inclined: it is
a timepiece that advances very regularly nearly four minutes
a-day ; and no other group of stars exhibits to the naked eye
an observation of time so easily made.
How often have we heard our guides exclaim in the savannas of Venezuela, or in the deserts extending from Lima to
Truxillo, " Midnight is past: the cross begins to bend !"
How often these words reminded us of that affecting scene,
where Paul and Virginia, seated near the source of the river
of Lotaniers, conversed together for the last time ; and when
the old man, at the sight of the Southern Cross, warns them
that it is time to separate !"
Mrs. Hemans has entered into the feeling here described,
and sung of the Southern Cross in the spirit oi a settler in
the new^world from old Spain:—
" Bat to thee, as the lode-stars resplendently burn
In their clear depths of blue, with devotion I turn ;
Bright Cross of the South ! and beholding thee shine—
Scarce regret the loved land of the olive and vine.
Thou rccallest the age when first o'er the main
My fathers unfolded the ensign of Spain,
And planted their faith in the regions that see
Its unperishing symbol emblazoned in thee.
c3 ■MriMntuugufcxY'
Shine on—my own land in a far distant spot,
.And the stars of thy sphere can enlighten it not;
And the eyes that I love, though e'en now they may be
O'er the firmament wandering, can gaze not on thee!
But thou to my thoughts art a pure blazing shrine—
A fount of bright hopes and of visions divine;
And my soul, like an eagle exalting and free,
Soars high o'er the Andes to mingle with thee!"
The Rev. Thomas Milner, in his Gallery of Nature, says—
" Among the stars of the south, with which the stay-at-home
Europeans are only acquainted by report, the constellation of
the cross is described as pre-eminently the most interesting
object in the sky of that hemisphere, on account of the associations connected with it by a Christianised imagination. It
consists of four bright stars, to which the fancy readily gives
a cruciform shape, the upper and lower being the pointers to
the South Pole."
Night after night we sat for hours by the side of the vessel
contemplating with wonder and admiration the indescribable
glories of the starry panorama of the southern hemisphere,
which culminates in the cross, and could not wonder that the
simple devotee should look upon it as the mystic symbol of
his faith. But Mr. Milner errs when he gives a diagram of
the constellation in the exact form of the cross. The space
between the upper and lower stars is not elongated as he represents—all the four stars being at equal distances from
each other, except the lower one, which is a little inclined to
the left. To give a clear illustration, draw a vertical and a
horizontal line, equal in length, crossing each other precisely
at the centre; place a dot at each extremity, except at the
lowest one, where the dot must be placed not lower down
than the end of the line, but a little to the left hand side of
it.   This is the exact form of the constellation of the cross.
Casting our eyes northward we observed the North Pole
star all but sunk below the horizon. There is no perceptible
difference here ia. the length of the days. The sun rises at
six in the morning and sets at the same hour in the evening
all the year round. The atmosphere in the tropics is highly
charged with electricity, and consequently thunder storms of
the most violent description are of frequent occurrence. Every
night after sunset we beheld the lightning silently playing
between the small patches of clouds that thinly dotted the blue ethereal expanse above, producing a grand and imposing
We were inconveniently crowded on board the St. Louis.
As some one remarked, *' we were packed in like herrings in
a barrel." At all events, it was impossible for people to move
about with anything like comfort; and the intense heat rendered our condition anything but enviable. The decks of
course were covered in with canvas, but at times we were
unavoidably exposed to the direct rays of the sun, which soon
brought the skin off in large flakes. I began to think there
might be some truth in what I had previously considered the
sailor's romance, about frying beef-steaks in the sun. I am
almost inelined to believe that a plate of polished steel exposed to the rays of a tropical sun would cook rashers of bacon.
The water we had to drink was almost smoking hot. Iced
water was to be had at the bar for 25 cents., or one shilling
and a halfpenny per glass; but the majority of us adopted
the more economical plan of purchasing ice, the charge for
which was 25 cents, per lb., and one pound of ice would convert two quarts of water into a nice cool drink.
Loud were the complaints from the steerage passengers respecting the unwholesomeness of their provisions; and not
without reason, for they were frequently supplied with flesh
meat which was in a putrid state, and totally unfit for .>uman
food ; but there was no redress—they had to eat that or starve.
Several who possessed the means paid the extra fare at
Panama, and transplanted themselves from the steerage to
the second cabin to secure a little more comfort during the
remainder of the voyage.
But even the second cabin fare in the American vessels is
inferior to that of the steerage in the English vessels.
As regards the sleeping accommodation on board the
American steamers the arrangements are disgraceful in the
extreme, and call loudly for reform. For a limited number
of passengers all is right enough, the sleeping apartments
being arranged along each side the ship, the males occupying
one side, the females the other ; and for four or .five hundred
people the sleeping accommodation is ample, but for twelve
hundred persons it is totally inadequate.
Under such like circumstances, skeleton or temporary bunks
are fixed, three tier high, over the body of the ship 'tween
decks, leaving narrow passages at intervals. amu.
Hundreds of men, women, and children are thus unavoidably exposed to each other in the most indecent manner,
which is a disgrace to any civilized nation that allows it.
The consequence is that scenes of immorality and vice take
place, which is totally unfit for publication. Suffice it to say,
thatdadies made overtures to gentlemen, and gentlemen became
addicted to somnambulism; for, instead of proceeding direct to
their own sleeping apartments, as all wide-awake fellows would
do, they frequently found themselves in the apartments belonging to the opposite sex.
We had no lack of daily news, and the supply of gossipping
tittle-tattle was equal to the demand.
Numerous were the conjectures respecting certain mysterious couples. " Were they married, or were they not married," that was the question. " Were these elopements; had
they run away from their fathers and motaers, or from their
husbands and wives," with a thousand other surmises.
We had on board one very conspicuous pair—a lady and
gentleman—passengers in the first cabin, and who were the
observed of all observers. The lady was perhaps 35 years of
age, tolerably good-looking, but her manner too bold for her
sex. She was remarkably corpulent, her huge form appearing every day in elegant attire. The gentleman was about
the age of the lady; he was plain-looking, and constantly
carried about with him a sulky expression of countenance.
He was evidently ill at ease about something or other. They
were first looked upon as husband and wife, but their manner
towards each other soon belied that supposition; and somehow or other we could not persuade ourselves that they were
lovers, for he was always out of humour, and she was labouring from morning till night to get him into it. She was constantly fawning about him: gently and lovingly she would
pat his face with her hand; then smooth down his hair, and
arrange his necktie ; and sometimes in the presence of every
one, to the great amusement of some and disgust of others,
she would throw her arms around his necx and embrace him
most tenderly.
All these and a thousand other little attentions she daily
lavished upon him, but all her stratagems failed to produce
the desired effect, and he remained the picture of a miserable-
minded man.
We could not avoid coming to the conclusion that this was- somebody's wife who had run away with somebody's husband, and he was suffering the pangs of a guilty conscience.
One day he was overheard threatening to jump overboard and
drown himself. He rushed from her presence, and disappeared in the erowd, with the intention, she thought, of
committing the horrible deed. She instantly raised the
alarm—" A man overboard." The ship was immediately
stopped, life buoys thrown overboard, and the lifeboat
launched; but, after a minute search and considerable
delay, it was pronounced a false alarm. In the meantime,
the pretended suieide, instead of plunging into the depths of
the ocean, had dived into the bowels of the ship, where he
remained several hours, when he again put in an appearance
on deck, sound in wind and limb.
The most unfortunate part of this affair was r—While the
sailors were launching the lifeboat one of the poor fellows had
the misfortune to get one of his hands dreadfully crushed
with the tackle, which disabled him for the rest of the voyage.
A subscription was set on foot, and he was presented with a
good few dollars.
We had another couple on board, likewise ehief-cabin passengers, whose movements were closely watched, and whose
conduct was freely discussed.
In this case the gentleman was about 50 years of age, and
When we started from. New York
a steerage passenger;   but, in the
the girl only eighteen.
this young woman wal
course of a day or two, the said gentleman was observed to
pay frequent visits to the steerage part of the ship, and make
overtures to the girl.    In a short time he brought her out of
the steerage, paid her fare for the first cabin, and they lived
together on board as man and wife.
Now, this worthy was a married'man, and we happened to
witness the parting scene between him and his wife at New
York, which was a most affecting one. She was a fine lady-
looking woman, and at parting with her husband her mental
anguish was extreme ; and when the ship moved away from
the dock we thought the poor lady would have thrown herself
into the sea, so intense was her grief.
Often did we wonder, when we saw these two arm in arm>
parading the'deck, what the feelings of the poor wife would
have been had she been made acquainted with the infidelity
of her worthless husband.    Whether this girl knew that her 26
paramour was already married I know not, but she gave it
out that it was their intention to get married as soon as they
reached San Francisco.
As might be expected, some of our fellow-voyagers proved
themselves companions the most agreeable, and others quite
the reverse. The Canadians looked upon us Englishmen as
their own people, and treated us with the greatest kindness
and consideration; while the Americans looked down upon
us with supreme contempt, and sought for opportunity to
insult us, both nationally and individually. They were constantly humming songs expressive of sentiment far from being
complimentary to England. They promise us a severe whipping as soon as they get this little matter of their own settled.
" We will teach John Bull a lesson," they say, " which he
will never forget." They still tell us the Sam Slick story,
" that England can lick creation, and they can whip England."
Whatever the cause may be, it is clear that very many in
all classes of American society entertain a strong prejudice
against England. Amongst the lower classes this feeling
finds expression in the most vulgar and disgusting language,
and I believe that the ill-feeling of the middle and higher
classes is none the less for being expressed in milder terms.
Nevertheless, it is a curious fact, that as it regards England's
opinion of America, the Yankees are exceedingly sensitive.
Anything complimentary from England is much more flattering to them than were it from any other nation; and, on the
other hand, anything in the shape of slight from England is
much more hurtful to their feelings than the same would be
from any other quarter.
The Americans generally manifest a bullying, domineering,
overbearing manner, arising from the idea they entertain of
their superiority over all the world, which is very obnoxious
to the minds of Englishmen. Even at the dinner table, instead
of asking you in a respectful manner to oblige them with so
end so, they command you to do it with all the authority
imaginable ; of course, they address each other in the same
manner. Their habits are disgusting in the extreme ; and as
for swearing horrid oaths and chewing tobacco, " they beat
From morning till night hundreds of mouths were constantly discharging their   filthy contents—tobacco   slaver>
Aw. * ^^jtSi.-.^-.: ;.i*&± 27
" about the consistency of treacle," literally running over
the side of the vessel in a constant stream. Should you
chance to be looking over the side of the ship, every now
and then some filthy fellow, without giving the least warning,
would squirt out a terrific mouthful over the bulwark, which
the wind would instantly drive in your face, and in the twinkling of an eye both your eyes were absolutely glued up with
tobacco juice. All this sort of thing we had to put up with
as best we could.
The Canadians had cautioned us against saying anything
to offend the Yankees, who are dangerous fellows to quarrel
with. The Americans are very sullen tempered, and dreadfully suspicious. Nevertheless, they are shrewd, and clever
in their way ; but know it too well, and are continually boasting and making displays of what they consider their superior
I cuteness."
One very prominent feature in the character of the American is, his love of outwitting and cheating those with whom
he has dealings; but, instead of being denounced for his unprincipled trickery, he is lauded by his American friends and
counted a " smart fellow."
It was not to be expected that these twelve hundred passengers, representing nearly every European nation, were all
honest people. An extensive wholesale business was carried
on in the pilfering line. Pockets were picked of money ; gold
and silver watches abstracted ; carpet bags plundered of their
contents, and the bags thrown into the sea. There is reason
to believe that the ship's servants have a hand in this sort of
work—waiteresses and stewardesses not excepted.
An elderly lady, a first cabin passenger, while lying on her
death bed, was actually plundered of 40 dollars by a coloured
stewardess, whose duty it was to attend upon her during her
illness.. This poor old lady was on her voyage from New
York to San Francisco, where she had two sons, who had
sent for their mother to spend the remnant of her days with
them in that ci+y.
She died on the night of the 4th of May, and on the following morning we witnessed the mournful spectacle of a
funeral at sea. Contrary to the usual custom the ship was
stopped while the funeral ceremony took place. We had
two clergymen on board, who preached every Sunday morning and afternoon, itii&tie&'TVK
To those who are not conversant with the fittings of a
ship's interior it may be interesting to learn that on board
these large steamers there are bullock houses, pig stys, sheep
pens, poultry houses, cow byers, butchers' shops, and slaughter
houses; and even a barber's shop, where a person can get
scraped or pruned for the small charge of half a dollar. The
barber supplies ready-made clothiug to suit all climates.
It is not a small quantity of flesh meat that is required
daily to supply the wants of twelve hundred people ; and at
the commencement of the voyage, large numbers of oxen and
hundreds of fowls are placed on board and slaughtered as they
are required. V i?sp.^
There is an ice house at the bottom of the vessel, where
blocks of ice can be preserved, even in a tropical climate,
during a voyage of two or three weeks. The ice is used for
cooling ales, wines, spirits, water, butter, Sec.
There is a regular public-house bar on board, where every
description of spirits is supplied at one shilling and a half-
nenny per glass; " or drink," as it is termed, for it is not the
fashion on the other side of the Atlantic to measure out to the
customer a certain quantity: a bottle and glass is placed
before him, and the quantity he takes is left to his own discretion.
Our course lay along the Pacific Coast, within a few miles
of the shore, and the ever-changing scenery which was daily
presented to view was excee'dingly interesting and exciting.
It formed one unbroken chain of mountains of every possible
•shape and variety, some of which towered high above the
clouds. Many of these large mountains are evidently extinct
volcanoes, and farther inland some are yet in an active state.
On the ninth day, after leaving Panama, we reached Aca-
pulco, which lies about half way between Panama and San
Acapulco is a city in the province of Mexico. It stands in
the recess of a bay close to a chain of granite mountains, and
is the best Mexican port on the coast of the Pacific ocean.
The bay has two entrances formed by the island of Roquetta.
The western entrance is about 300 yards wide, and the great
entrance from the south is about a mile and a half wide, with
a depth of water from 150 to 210 feet. The port is capable
of containing 500 ships, and is deep enough to allow vessels
to lie close to the rocks. 29
Acapulco is but poorly built, and is a very unhealthy place.
Lying within the torrid zone and surrounded by mountains,
it is intensely hot, and the inhabitants, particularly new
comers, are liable to dangerous fevers.
We put in here for a fresh supply of coal, water, and live
stock. We cast anchor alongside a large platform or wharf,
which stood some distance from the shore. On this was placed
several hundred sacks of coal, and some fifty or sixty natives,
under the guidance of a white man, were awaiting our arrival.
The natives were all but naked. Some bore large flaming
torches to light up the scene of operations, while others were
busily engaged putting the coal into the vessel. Immediately
on our arrival, the ship was surrounded by scores of natives
with their canoes heavily laden with fruits, spirits, cigars,
shells, &c, and for some hours did a roaring trade. Two or
three interpreters came on board, each provided with a sort
of basket, attached to which was a long cord. The order
was given to the interpreters, the money placed in the basket
and lowered down to a canoe, and the required article hoisted
on board to the purchaser. All this presented a sc^ne of the
most animated description, and was an exceedingly interesting and exciting exhibition. The natives are expert swimmers and divers : it was said that a silver coin dropped into
the water could be caught by them before it reached the
At dawn next morning, all being in readiness, we steamed
Blowly out of the harbour, and recommenced our Pacific
voyage. The weather continued hot for a few days after we
left Acapulco, but when we reached the Gulf of California,
being out of the tropics, a perceptible change was felt in the
temperature of the atmosphere. We were now bearing rapidly
away in a north-westerly direction, and when we got within
two or three days' sail of San Francisco we felt the weather
intensely cold. Instead of lounging about in a half-roasted
condition, divested of coats, vests, and neck-ties, as was the
case a fev days previously, we went shivering about enveloped
in top-coats and mufflers.
The Gulf of California is about 700 miles in length, and its
breadth varies between 150 and 40 miles. While passing
through the gulf we lost sight of land a couple of days or
more. The spermaceti whale, the shark, the seal, the tortoise,
and the turtle are met with in the gulf. flF'
Our voyage continued a prosperous one, and about half-
past five o'clock on Sunday morning, the 18th of May, the
booming of the cannon announced to us that we were just
passing through the " golden gate," as the entrance to the
harbour of San Francisco is called.
It was a lovely radiant morning; a long sea voyage had
been accomplished in safety, and consequently the spirits of
all ran high.
At six we drew up to the wharf at San Francisco, and as
soon as the ship was made fast she began to disgorge her
contents, which poured forth from her side in two living
streams for the space of an hour.
Immediately on our arrival, we were literally besieged by
swarms of lodging-house keepers, or their representatives,
each one at the highest pitch of his voice recommending his
own place of business as the cheapest and most comfortable
in all San Francisco. The " What Cheer House"—a temperance hotel—appeared to get the lion's share of customers.
We took board and lodgings at' a temperance hotel called the
" Eagle"—kept by one Mr. Andrews, a very respectable man,
and a Quaker. We were comfortably quartered, and paid
twenty shillings a-week each.
A feather bed was now a luxury, for, with the exception of
a few nights at New York, we had not been undressed since
leaving Liverpool, besides lying on the bare deck during a
great portion of the voyage.
We often remarked to each other, " Can it be possible that
we are now standing on the soil of the far-famed gold country
of California, of which we have all heard and read so much."
The idea was novel and exciting.
Sacramento City is the State capital, but is an insignificant
place compared with San Francisco, the commercial metropolis and great shipping port of California.
The population of San Francisco amounts to over 100,000,
which is something wonderful, considering that fifteen years 31
ago it had little or no existence. Its noble buildings of brick
and stone would do credit to any city in Europe. More than
once it has been almost totally destroyed by fire, and conflagrations were still of frequent occurrence; but as the wooden
structures disappear, their places are soon occupied by those
of a more substantial character.
We were amused and interested with seeing people engaged
moving their wooden houses—some of them large ones—from
one place to another. Their construction admits of them being
lifted bodily from the ground with screw-jacks ; they are then
placed upon rollers, and drawn along the streets by a horse
working a sort of windlass, placed about a hundred yards in
advance of the building, and attached by a stout rope, the
operation being repeated until the house is placed on its new
There are three high hills in San Francisco built upon all
around to the very summit, which at a distance gives the
place a strikingly beautiful, romantic, and picturesque appearance. The markets, which are all covered, are spacious and
well adapted for the transaction of business. One great drawback to San Francisco is the thick clouds of small sand which
is driven about with the wind in some parts of the city not
yet macadamized.
It is built on a sand bed, the site having been chosen in
consequence of the excellent harbour for shipping, which has-
space enough to contain all the navies of the world, and depth
of water for the largest vessels.
Almost every part of the world is represented in San Francisco. The Chinese are very numerous, whole streets being
occupied by them.
The street railways form a complete net-work, and on one
line the cars are propelled by locomotive engines.
Gambling is carried on to a great extent; the people have
a constant craving for excitement, and the most fearful scenes
of debauchery constantly occur.
The theatres, as well as churches and chapels, are open on
Sunday evenings. We twice visited the Unitarian Chapel,,
and heard most excellent discourses delivered by the celebrated Unitarian minister, Starr King.
The places of worship in San Francisco offer great attractions in the shape of vocal and instrumental music.
Although the town appeared to be in a tolerable thriving.
m ^v^m^'WSi
condition, yet hundreds of men were seen walking about the
streets in great want.
The " What Cheer House," the temperance hotel before
alluded to, is a wonderful place of business. We were told
that no less than three thousand people daily took their meals
there, and from the crowds that visit the dining rooms all day
long, I am inclined to think that it was no exaggeration. A
person can live wfcll &b the " What Cheer House" for fifteen-
pence a-day, but their charge for beds is high-—half a dollar
each night. There is every accommodation for visitors, including a large and comfortable reading room, with a library
containing many hundred volumes, and newspapers from every
part of the world.
Provisions were cheap in San Francisco, especially butchers'
meat, which was from three to five cents, per lb., and considerably less than tha* at the slaughter houses.
The climate is exceedingly fine. Snow is almost entirely
unknown in San Francisco. During the summer season
there is a cloudless sky for months together, and although
the heat is much more intense than in England, it is not
particulaily oppressive, owing to a refreshing breeze, which
springs up about two o'clock every afternoon. After sunset
it grows chilly—not uncomfortably cold, however, but a
healthy bracing atmosphere. The winter season brings heavy
falls of rain ; in fact, it frequently pours down in torrents incessantly for several weeks at a stretch.
The Californian soil is fertile, and the markets are abundantly supplied with vegetables all the year round.
The day after our arrival in California our friend Little left
us, and went to Grass Valley, Nevada County, some few hundred miles from San Francisco, to transact business. I must
here explain that Mr. Little had been in California previously.
He, with his wife and young family, went there from England
in the year 1852, and realized a considerable sum with gold
digging and storekeeping. They returned to England in the
year 1860. Mr. Little still owned property in Grass Valley,
and to look after that property was now his object in going
there. It was his intention to accompany us to the gold
mines of British Columbia, but after waiting a fortnight we
received a letter from him to the effect that his business was
far from being done, and he could not possibly join us, but
might perhaps be able by and by to follow us to Cariboo. 33
We were, therefore, obliged to start without him—a circumstance we regretted exceedingly-1--because Mr. Little had had
considerable experience in gold digging, which we knew
would be of great service to us all. James Marquis had
sailed a week previously for Victoria, where he would await
our arrival.
During our stay in San Francisco the Californian newspapers teemed with unfavourable reports from Cariboo, which
deterred numbers from going farther ; but we resolved to play
out the game—win or lose.
On the 3rd of June we left San Francisco in the steamship
Brother Jonathan. Three days' roughish sailing brought us
to the mouth of the magnificent Columbia River, where stands
a small collection of wooden buildings, called " Astoria;" and
after a delay of two hours, we steamed up this beautiful river,
with its romantic scenery on each side, and arrived at Portland, in Oregon, on the 7th. Each alternate mail boat that
runs between San Francisco and Victoria puts(in at Portland
to land passengers and discharge cargo. The City of Portland is situated about 120 miles up the Columbia River, and
contains a population amounting to 5,000 inhabitants. It is
built exclusively of wood, and stands upon a pretty site;
With this drawback it is low and flat, and liable to be inundated from the river, which occasionally rises to a great height.
In some parts of the town we observed people boating in
the streets, and in some cases they had no other means of
leaving and returning to their houses.
Portland is surrounded by beautiful forests and mountain
scenery. We had a fine view of a snow-capped mountain;
called " Mount Hood," which we supposed might be about
five miles distant, but to our great surprise we were told that
its distance was nearly a hundred miles in a direct line.
Mount" Hood rises to an elevation of 17,000 feet, or about
three miles above the level of the sea.
We left Portland on the 9th, and landed at Esquimalt,.
Vancouver Island, on the day following.
We had now completed our sea voyage of 10,000 miles,
and found ourselves standing on the soil of an English colony,
which was not a little consolation.
We thought our greatest hardships and privations were
now at an end: the sequel will show whether or not we were
D 34
Esquimalt, a village or hamlet, prettily situated in one of
the numerous coves of the harbour, from which it takes its
name, derives its support from the presence of Her Majesty's
ships, and from the mail steamers whieh here land their mails
and passengers. Esquimalt and Victoria are connected by a
good new waggon-road.
Esquimalt harbour is a safe and excellent anchorage for
ships of any size, and may be entered at any time with great
facility; the holding ground is good—a tenacious blue clay,
The extent of this fine harbour is about three miles by two.
with an average depth of six to eight fathoms ; and round the
whole of its irregular circle numerous rocky promontories,
with outlying islands and gently sloping sandy bays, form the
chief feature of the scene.
Great natural advantages and facilities exist for the extension of townships and formation of docks, and it is thought
that this favoured spot will become the established headquarters of the Royal Naval Force in the Pacific. An hospital and storehouses for the service afloat, and a barracks for
the officers and men of the North American Boundary Commission, already give an official service-like character to the
A walk of four miles through a dense forest brought us to
Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island; and after partaking
of an humble meal, William Mark and I immediately sought
an interview with Governor Douglas. We wished to learn
which was the cheapest and best route to, Cariboo, with other
particulars. It was then past his business hours; but, nevertheless, when he learnt from his attendant that we were Englishmen and wished to leave next morning for the mines, he,
without hesitation, granted the desired interview. He gave
us a kind reception—answered our enquiries with evident
pleasure—told us he was glad to see us—wished us success
half-a-dozen times over; but he did not speak with that confidence of the gold mines we expected : said, if we were not
successful at the diggings, we could get work on the roads at
40 dollars a-month with board.
This statement about the road-making was not quite palatable to us under the circumstances; nevertheless, it was a
god-send to hundreds of disappointed Caribooites.
The Governor advised us to turn our attention to the cultivation of land, which he thought we would find eventually do
the most profitable, and requested us to bring out our wives
and families, and assist in populating the country. He then
gave us an invitation to view his orchard and gardens, and
ordered a military officer to show them to us ; they were
neatly laid out, and in a high state of cultivation When
we were about to take our leave, the Governor came to the
door, and again wished us success, and invited us into his
house to take refreshment.
The aforesaid officer took us into the kitchen, where w e had
a glass of excellent brandy and some sweet cake. We drank
the health and happiness of the Governor, his wife and family,
and then took our departure. We did not see the Governor's
wife. I understand she is a red river Indian, but not a woman
of much colour. Her daughters are fair in complexion. I
have seen one of them—a handsome young lady—well featured, with an exceedingly interesting countenance. There
are several daughters, and, I was told, one or two sons. Some
of the daughters are married.
The Governor, James Douglas, a Scotchman by birth, is a
little over sixty years of age—a free, noble-looking man—
stands about 6 feet 5 inches in height—straight as an arrow,
and cannot weigh less than 20 stones. He is an unassuming
and evidently a kind-hearted man, and treated us with much
We bought a canvas tent and other things useful for our
onward journey, and camped in the wood in the outskirts of
the town that night.
Next morning, about eleven o'clock, William Mark and his
two sons, James Marquis (who had again joined us), and
myself, took the steamer, Eliza Anderson, for New Westminster, which is about 80 miles from Victoria.
A few hours' sailing along the south-east coast of Vancouver brought us to the mouth of the mighty river, Fraser,
which empties itself into the Gulf of Georgia, which place
presents the appealance of an immense circular basin, and is
surrounded by mountain scenery of indescribable grandeur.
m 36
The Fraser River is 900 miles long, and is navigable for
steamers for 200 miles. We reached New Westminster, the
capital of British Columbia, about eight in the evening; but
another steamer being in readiness to convey us to Port
Douglas, a hundred more miles up the river, we had not the
opportunity of viewing the place.
Mr. Milner, in his Gallery of Geography, says, " New
Westminster, on the banks of the Fraser, about fifteen miles
above the mouth, is a town still in its infancy. It is incorporated, and has a representative council, with power to levy
rates for purposes of public improvement. It contains a courthouse, an assay-office, and several places of worship."
We pursued our course up the river that night, but made
little progress, in consequence of the great obstructions we.
met with in the shape of drift wood, with which, ever and
anon, the paddle wheel became entangled and brought the
machinery to a stand-still. On one occasion a delay of four
hours took place. The river steamers are constructed upon
the best principle possible for avoiding the drift wood; but,
nevertheless, the quantity met with at times is so great that
it is a matter of difficulty to work the vessel through it.
The steamer is furnished with one wheel only, which is
placed at her stern end; and the advantage of this plan over
the usual one of having, a wheel on each side of the vessel
will be apparent at a glance.
This drift wood consists of trees and logs of wood of
immense size, which, at the breaking up of the snow and ice
on the mountains, are driven down in thousands, rendering
the rivers both difficult and dangerous to navigate.
We arrived at Port Douglas on the 12th, about four o'clock
in the afternoon; and as we approached the city, we thought
it a most miserable and melancholy place.
Surrounded by immense mountains of the most wild and
awe-inspiring description are a few dozens of rackety wooden
buildings, the sight of which is sufficient to give a man the
horrors for the remainder of his life—and this is the City of
Douglas. There were a few good houses in the place. In
these parts every place is denominated a city; indeed, everywhere on the other side of the Atlantic, any village consisting
of half-a-dozen wooden structures, the size of dog-kennels, is
termed a city. About half of the three hundred inhabitants
which Douglas contained were Indians. There were but few white married couples in the place, and
with one exception the whole of the other white men who had
gone to Douglas unmarried had each taken unto themselves,
not a wife, but a woman in the shape of an ugly Indian
squaw; and a pretty mixture it was. The exception just
alluded to. was Mr. Pearman, an honest, kind-hearted Englishman, who was following the bread-baking business, and
doing a thriving trade ; but told us he was absolutely miserable for the want of a wife. But, says he, " As greatly as I
stand in need of a wife to assist me in my business, I will do
without for ever rather than have one of those ugly brown-
skinned devils : relish them I cannot."
Mr. Pearman anxiously inquired whether there was truth
in the report that a ship's load of English girls were coming
out to Victoria. We answered in the affirmative, and he replied " I will have one of them by hook or by crook."
There were no unmarried white women in Douglas.
The distance from Douglas to Cariboo is near 400 miles,
all of which has to be walked, with the exception of three
lakes 15 miles each, which are crossed with small steamers.
These lakes all lie between Douglas and Lillooet, which two
places are about 120 miles apart. The road to Lillooet was
tolerable; but above that place was as rough a country to
travel as white men ever planted foot upon.
British Columbia is a wild, romantic, mountainous country.
The scenery is grand and impressive; frequently we were
brought to a dead stand—struck with wonder and amazement on viewing those gigantic mountains, many of which
are from one to two miles in height. At the base there was
scorching summer, while at the summit there was freezing
winter, for the tops of these mountains are covered with perpetual snow. Some of them have quite the appearance of
extinct volcanoes, and there is little doubt but that the gold
has been thrown out of them in a liquid state. British
Columbia contains an area of about 250,000 square miles,
with numerous rivers, 'the principle of which is the Fraser,
before alluded to.
We did not find mueh cultivatable land on the road we
took through the country. When we met with prairie land
we observed that it retained but little moisture, and grew
nothing but small tufts of dead-looking grass. . There are
refreshment-houses on the road from ten to twenty miles
d3 38
apart, deep down in the ravines between the mountains,
where small patches of land is under cultivation, and grows
cereals and vegetables pretty well; but in many instances it
requires irrigation, the water being conveyed along wooden
troughs from the sides of the mountains, and made to flow
over the soil. Two or three of these places have swollen out
to good-sized farms, where cows are kept and milk sold to
travellers, the price ranging from 4s. 2d. to 6s. 3d. per gallon.
The southern part of British Columbia is heavily timbered—
principally with pine and firs. These trees are of the most
magnificent description, attaining an enormous height, and
measuring from three to six feet in diameter.
This is unquestionably rich land; but to clear it of those
immense-sized trees is a serious and expensive undertaking.
Describing the trees of British Columbia Mr. Milner, in his
Gallery of Geography, says—" Varieties of pine and firs attain
enormous dimensions in height and girth, from which the
noblest spars in the world may be taken;" and then goes on
to say that " a settler laid a wager that he would cut through a
single tree in three weeks' time with an axe, and lost his money."
This story, to say the least, is simply ridiculous. We have
seen scores of thousands of those large trees in British
Columbia, but never saw or heard of one that would take a
man three days, mueh less three weeks, to cut it down. The
trees are cut off three feet above the ground; and many of
those settlers being expert handlers of the axe, hew them
down with amazing rapidity, the wood being very soft. Perhaps when Mr. Milner wrote this, the gigantic oaks of California, some of which measure 90 feet in circumference, were
running in his mind. We found the trees more and more
diminutive as we proceeded northward.
As I have said before, we arrived at Douglas on the 12th
of June, and now began to leam that travelling to Cariboo
would prove an expensive undertaking, and would be doubly
expensive when we reached it; and in order to give ourselves
every chance of success, we resolved to use strict economy,
and true enough we did; many of our meals consisting of
hard biscuit and water. We took with us bread, biscuit,
rice, and treacle to serve to Lillooet. As a substitute for tea
we used a decoction of treacle and warm water. We carried
with us a canvas tent large enough to accommodate five per*
sons, and which weighed six lbs.; two picks, two shovels, a prospecting pan, a frying pan, a tin pan or " Billy," as it is
called, to boil water in; a drinking tin, a small axe, which was
exceedingly useful in erecting the tent at nights; and William
Mark's musket, which I carried with my carpet bag slung
over my shoulder.
Our burdens varied from 35 lbs. to 45 lbs. each. Mine
was the least, 35 lbs.; but as I weighed 15A- stones, my
bundle was quite as much as I could travel with. The gteat
weight that some men carried over these 400 miles of moun
tains was astounding, 50 and 60
reneral weight,
and some carried even more than that. One man we met with
going up had not less than eighty pounds' weight on his back
in the shape of provision, clothes, and a pair of blankets.
Before we left Douglas we sold to the Indians all the clothes
we could spare, in order to lighten our burdens and to raise
more money, but the weight named was exclusive of that. It
was amusing to see our friend, Mark, standing up in the street
selling the things. He drove some hard bargains with the
copper skins; they appeared to know the value of dollars as
well as any one else.
Nearly 400 miles of terrific road laid before us, and now
commenced the tug of war. About twenty of us started from
Douglas that night, and walked four miles by way of introduction to our arduous task. The method of camping is to pitch
the tents near a stream; rotten wood is plentiful, and being
provided with lucifer matches, in a few minutes blazing fires
glow all around, and cooking commences in earnest. When
our shirts and stockings got dirty we washed them in the
rivulets, and when no better opportunity was afforded us we
hung them over our backs to dry as we trudged along. Next
morning we started at four o'clock, and soon discovered that
climbing immense mountains and wading through bogs and
swamps was the only mode of travelling to Cariboo.
In one bog-hole we found a poor fellow with two laden
mules wallowing in the mire. He was trying hard to extricate his animals, but whether he succeeded I do not know,
for we had neither time nor strength to render him the least
assistance. Ha ng quite enough to do to look after our own
safety, we left thj man and his mules to their fate. When we
had travelled about ten miles we came to a place on the road
flooded with water, an I were obliged to scale the mountain
tide to
it, whicii was
a terrible undertaking ■».
All the others were on before. William Mark and me were
last.. We scrambled up higher and higher. When coming
to a place almost perpendicular, William, with a desperate
effort, struggled over it, and sank to the ground greatly
exhausted. I stood holding on by some underwood, and
thought it would be utterly impossible to follow alone. I
was more awkwardly situated with respect to my bundle than
the others were with theirs, for they had them strapped on to
their backs, which left both their hands at liberty; whereas
I had only one hand at liberty, the other being fully occupied
with the carpet bag and gun. The gun was through' the
handles of the bag slung over .my left shoulder, and the side
of the mountain being so excessively steep, the muzzle of the
gun was down among my feet, which very seriously interfered
with my progress; besides, the confounded thing was continually bobbing on to the ground, which threatened every
now and then to capsize me. Once it threw me back on to
so nice a balance that I thought half a hair's breadth more
would have sent me over. I recovered my equilibrium, however ; but the ground was crumbling beneath me : there
seemed to be thousands of almost perpendicular feet below, ;
and I expected every moment to be dashed to the bottom. I
wa's in a dreadful state with fear; and with the speed of
lightning a strange and unaccountable idea rushed into my
mind.and took possession of it. It was an ardent desire that a
rattle-snake would spring from the ground and devour me.
What in all the world could give birth to such an absurd
wish is beyond my power to explain. I was undoubtedly
past myself with fear; for any man in his right senses, I
imagine, would prefer being dashed over a precipice to that
of being swallowed by a rattle-snake. As soon as William
recovered his breath he urged me on with expressions of encouragement, and in sheer desperation I achieved the passage
in safety; but helpless, speechless, and almost insensible fell
to the ground. When our locomotive powers were sufficiently
restored we descended the mountain on the other side of the
swamp, where we found our companions awaiting our arrival.
On inquiries, we learnt that one had lost a boot, and several, with tumbling topsy-turvy, had their clothes torn into
shreds; but that being all the damage sustained, we could
afford to indulge in a hearty laugh at the adventure.
W§ walked twenty miles that day, which was too much at 41
the outset. Had we taken the advice of Governor Douglas
and done about ten miles a day for a time, it would have been
the wiser plan. It was a severe task, to me at least, being so
corpulent, to walk twenty miles every day over those terrific
mountains, with a weight of two and a-half stones on my back
under a scorching sun, or in the drenching rain, with scanty
provisions, blistered feet, and sprained legs, worried every
moment into madness with mosquitoes, and then to lie down
on the cold damp ground to be frequently kept awake all night
with those infernal plagues.
The sting of the mosquito had less effect upon me than
it had upon the others. William Mark especially suffered
greatly, his eyes being nearly swollen up, and his hands to
twice their usual size. At many places above Lillooet those
insects appeared in countless thousands, and we met with
some travellers who were actually driven back with them.
Those men had endured hunger, thirst, and privation unflinchingly, but were compelled to surrender under the attack
of the mosquito's proboscis. About twenty-five miles above
Port Douglas there is a hot spring, where the water is continually bubbling up in a heated condition. Baths have been
erected by a Yankee speculator, who recommends this water
as a specific for rheumatism—a complaint prevalent in those
parts, arising from want and exposure.
A few miles further on is the first lake, six miles of which
has to be rowed in a small boat to meet the steamer. James
Marquis and Edward Mark were a little in advance, and just
in time to catch the boat. She was too heavily laden, about
forty being in her. They met with a gale of wind, which
drove them against a large log of wood, and nearly upset her.
She took in a quantity of water, and barely escaped being
washed against the rocks. It was a narrow escape, indeed,
and they were greatly alarmed, but landed safe.
The rest of us took the next boat, crossed without danger,
and joined our friends at the steamer.
Between the first and second lakes is a portage of one and
a-half miles; between the second and third, one of thirty
miles; and from the last lake to Lillooet the distance is four
miles—all of which we got pretty well over, considering the
imperfect arrangements for crossing the lakes.
Meeting with unexpected delays our stock of provisions
became exhausted, in spite of our great economy, and when 42
we reached Lillooet, about ten o'clock One night, we were
weary and Worn out. After we had appeased the cravings of
hunger, we went to sleep on the floor of a German bread-
baker's shop, the baker having kindly offered us the privilege.
We slept soundly till five in the morning, and would have
slept longer had he not wanted us out of the way of his
Lillooet stands on a charming site—a spacious plain on the
banks of the Fraser, surrounded by magnificent mountain
scenery. The inhabitants, numbering about three hundred,
consist of English, Irish, Scotch, French, Germans, native
Indians, and a few Chinese—the Indians living in their usual
filthy style in the outskirts of the town, but constantly mixing
with the whites. The inhabitants make a living by supplying
the wants of travellers. Patches of land is under cultivation.
Cows are kept, and milk sold at sixpence a pint. There are
three or four blacksmiths' shops in the place, and something
considerable is done in the horse and mule-shoeing line during
the summer season. A good shoer is paid twenty shillings
a day with board. Every ounce of provision and material
used at the mines must be conveyed over the mountains on
the backs of animals, principally mules : they being more sure
footed than horses, are better adapted for mountain travelling.
These mules are brought from Oregon and California, and are
worth, we were told, from 150 to 300 dollars each in British
They travel from ten to fifteen miles a day, and carry about
300 lbs. weight each. They go in what is termed train's. A
train consists of from 25 to 30 mules. A bell is attached to
the neck of the foremost one, which leads the van, and all the
rest follow the sound of the instrument. A sort of wooden
saddle well padded inside is fixed upon the back of the animal, and the burden strapped on to it. It requires a man of
experience to manage this packing business, for unless the
burden be properly fixed, the animal is soon used up. Three
men are required to manage one of those mule trains—the
men's wages being (per month) 120, 80, and 50 dollars respectively. They are likewise found with provision and a
tent to sleep in. This packing business is a profitable one
for the owners of the mules. The price of flour in Victoria
is about twopence per lb., and when it reaches Cariboo is
worth from four to six shillings per lb.
^repsp5 43
The keep of the animals cost nothing, as sufficient grass
found in the ravines for their support-
The price of flour at Lillooet was half a dollar per lb. We
purchased a fresh supply of provision and resumed our journey.
A few minutes' walk brought us to the side of the Fraser,
which we had to cross in a small boat.
The bare idea of having to cross that furious stream in such
a fragile-looking thing made one's blood curdle in the veins.
The Fraser at Lillooet is perhaps not more than a quarter of
a mile in width, but is a mighty, rapid-running river, lashing,
and foaming, and boiling in its onward mad career.
It occasionally happens that one of those boats is capsized,
and its living contents swept away in a moment, and for ever
out of sight. We felt ourselves pitched and wheeled about
in a most alarming manner, and when we reached the opposite shore a sigh of relief burst from every bosom.
The ferry-boat fare was half a dollar.
All goods taken up to the mines on this route must cross
the Fraser. Horses and mules are swam across the river,
the halter being made fast to the stern of the boat.
The ferry-boat will carry about a dozen men with their luggage, exclusive of the rowers.
Before starting, the boat is hauled up the river side for a
considerable distance. All being in readiness, six men commence rowing with might and main, keeping the stem of the
boat pointing up the river diagonally. While she is making
her way across, she is at the same time drifting down the
stream with frightful rapidity, reaching the opposite side
many hundred yards below the starting point.
About twenty miles above Lillooet there is the choice of
two roads to Cariboo : one is termed the Brigade, the other
the River Trail, which runs by the side of the River Fraser.
The Brigade is a much better road, but fifty miles longer
distance. The majority of us took the River Trail, but we
learnt afterwards that had we taken the Brigade we would
have completed our journey in less time and with less labour.
The river route is a fearfully mountainous one, and winds
over the mountains in a zig-zag form. This track or " trail,"
as it is called, was not more than 18 inches in width—often
only the breadth of a person's foot—and some places which
was sand and gravel had slid away till no visible path remained.    We had then to clamber along the sides of the 44
mountains as best we could, which was frequently attended
with considerable difficulty and danger.
We were told of some who had fallen over those cliffs,
and were never more heard of.
We found this mountain travelling extremely fatiguing, the
mountains coming in rapid succession; and taking into account the winding, sloping, zig-zaging form of the track, the
distance over some of them was not less than six or seven
miles; and the road so steep, that in order to keep our equilibrium our bodies had to be bent forward till the face was i
within a foot of the ground, and we could not take more
than five or six inches at one step.
The descent was more difficult than the ascent, causing
great pain in the knee joints.
We generally met with an abundant supply of good water,
which came rushing down the ravines between the mountains. At times, however, we experienced considerable inconvenience through the want of it, and on one occasion
intense suffering.
On the 19th of June we came to an extraordinary place
known in the country as the " Big Slide," which is notorious
for the great danger that attends the passage over it. This
is a frightful precipice —many hundreds of feet in perpendicular height, along the edge of which runs the Trail. But
what constitutes the danger is this: On the top of the cliff is
lodged masses of small sand, which sometimes takes to sliding, and carries along with it both men and animals ;nto the
mighty chasm below. However, this place can be avoided
by walking round about ten miles in another direction; and
when such is the fact, it seems to be madness for men to risk
their lives rnerely for the sake of saving a few miles extra
walking. Nevertheless, some are foolhardy enough to venture the Big Slide.
But within those ten miles stands one of the most formidable mountains on the route. It is at least five miles over it,
and took us more than four hours to perform the task ; and
to give an idea of its steepness, in many places I need only
state that the ankle joint would not allow the foot sufficient
play to suit the incline, and it was with difficulty we could
drag our bodies forward. Frequently I sank to the ground
• in a perfect state of exhaustion.
The day was roasting hot, and for six or seven hours no. water was within our reach. All suffered from thirst, but
mine became intolerable. My tongue was swollen and hung
out of my mouth, and I lost my speech—my eyes rolling in
my head like those of a wild beast. Indeed, I was almost in
a state of madness, and like to give up the ghost,
and Edward Mark (who remained behind with me), encouraged me on, and used stratagem by telling me they were
certain they heard theroaring of water ahead of us. Edward
got me bark of trees to suck the sap, but it gave me no relief.
How acute was my hearing to catch the sound of water, and
when I heard its ripple in the ravine below I thought it the
most delightful music that ever fell on my ear. I staggered
up to the glorious stream, and found William with a can of
water ready for me. I seized it ravenously, but fearing I
would do myself a mischief, he was obliged to tear it from
me repeatedly, which I then thought was an act of cruelty.
For some length of time he allowed me to swallow only a
small quantity at intervals, but ultimately let me take my
fill; and, to speak within bounds, I drank at least a gallon
before I was satisfied. We then shook hands and congratulated each other.
Our friend Mark, who has since published an account of
his adventure, in describing this part of it, says :-*-" Never
shall I forget the emotion and pleasure we all experienced
when we in reality did hear the glorious sound of water ahead,
issued by the first there, and sent back as by electricity till
the last traveller on the mountain caught the news."
God knows, hunger is bad enough, but thirst is a thousand
times worse. The sensation of hunger eventually ceases J
the sufferer gradually becomes weaker, and dies by degrees.
But thirst is of a different nature : the suffering becomes
more intense every moment, and he dies raving mad.
There was one thing terribly annoying to us. We had
several deep and rapid-running waters to cross, with nothing
hut a small tree thrown over in the shape of a bridge, without anything whatever to hold on by.
One of those streams was at least 25 feet in width, and the
tree to walk along was not more than 12 inches at the thickest
end, and tapering to about half that thickness at the other ;.
and being quite round, there was, of course, not much bearing surface for the foot. During the passage the tree kept-
playing up and down, the water washing over it at every B.
vibration. It required one's courage to be screwed up to a
pitch of desperation to make the attempt; but it must be
done—there was no other alternative—and with clinched
hands and compressed lips we addressed ourselves to the
task, which was a regular Blondin performance. The first
three or four, after crossing, planted themselves at intervals
down the river side, so that they might attempt the rescue of
those who might have the misfortune to slip in. All, however, escaped a ducking, except one young man, who lost his
balance—made a spring, and dropped in up to the waist a
few feet from the shore. Catching hold of a projecting
branch with one hand, I seized him by the neck with the
ether, and hauled him out.
Robert Mark, I believe, was the last to cross, but he had
not proceeded more than a few feet when he was seized
with a nervous trembling fit, and stepped back again. His
brother Edward, who was watching him intently from the
other side, observed his dilemma, and immediately re-crossed
the river with the agility of a cat, seized Robert's burden, and
marched back with as great facility as though he had been
walking along a turnpike road. A few words of encouragement from Edward enabled Robert to follow without further
hesitation. *.
As it regards our friend Ned Mark, he is certainly one of
the most reckless and daring fellows the world ever saw, and
a perfect stranger to fear—a very essential quality for a Cariboo adventurer to possess.
One night, while camping, we remarked to each other that
somebody's horse had got loose—we heard such a snorting
about our tent. All passed off quietly, and we slept unconscious of danger; but next morning were made acquainted
with the character of our visitor. A bag containing some tin
cooking utensils was lying outside the adjoining tent; the
owner hearing an unusual noise, looked out, and saw a black
bear walking off with the bag. The man ran back for his revolver, but when he returned, bruin had dropped the tin
things and decamped.
Sometimes a number of Indians would pay us a visit—plant
tiiemselves around us while we were cooking, and watch
our proceedings with intense interest. We seemed to be
objects of curiosity to them. They would stand as motionless almost as marble statues, with their eyes rivetted upon 47
us; and often we observed a savage glare pass over their
After standing a while, they would commence gabbling to
each other in a vehement manner; then suddenly turn round,
and march off at a rapid pace. They are not particularly
hostile, so long as they are not interfered with ; but it is dangerous to meddle with them, either with good or bad intent;
because, being unacquainted with the manner of suiting their
ideas of things, there is great danger of unconsciously offending them. We made some mistakes in that respect, thereby
endangering onr lives. One day Edward Mark was examining his revolver while we were resting. An Indian came up
and planted himself in front of him, intently fixing his eyes on
the revolver, which seemed to interest him greatly. Edward
playfully raised the revolver and pointed it at him, professing
that he was about to shoot him. A savage expression immediately suffused the countenance of the Indian, which indicated clearly that he had not understood it to be a jest. We
saw the danger we had incurred ; for we had been told previously that the Indians could summon to their aid numbers
of their friends at any moment. William Mark reproved his
son for his incautiousness, and in order to convince the Indian
that it was only done in sport, we all instinctively and simultaneously burst into a loud laugh. This failed, however, to
establish his confidence : he looked sulky, savage, and suspicious, and slunk away from our presence sideways—crab
fashion—watching us from the corner of his eye till he got a
distance of some fifty yards, and then made a dead stand.
He immediately raised a peculiar shrill noise with his voicer
which rather resembled the crowing of a farm-yard cock.
This was evidently the signal for a gathering, for this crowing was instantly echoed back from three or four different"
quarters, and in less time than it takes me to narrate the
circumstance, twelve or fifteen savage-looking Indians had
assembled together, and from their vehement talking and
gesticulations, it was evident they were meditating an attack
upon us.
What our feelings were at that moment may be imagined,-
but cannot be described. We glanced at each other, but not
a sentence was uttered ; and what was the extent of the fears
of my friends I know not, but in my own imagination was
painted all the horrible details of being butchered and hacked. 48
to pieces with the Indian's hunting knife. After a while,
however, the savages- arrived at what we considered a very
rational conclusion; for, to our great relief, they darted off
into the forest, and left us unmolested, and we saw them no
Strange to say, this circumstance was never once alluded
. to amongst us, which I can only account for by supposing
that we all felt more alarmed than we afterwards thought the
circumstances of the  case warranted, and did  not wish to
betray to each other anything in the shape of cowardice.
James Marquis introduced the subject several months afterwards. We then confessed to each other how dreadfully
terrified we had been.
The Indians are copper-coloured, and both sexes are short,
thick set, and very muscular. The generality of them are
hideous in the extreme. They have a strange and cruel
practice of compressing the heads of their children.. Immediately after birth, pieces of wood are placed on the fore and
back part of the infant's head, and bound firmly together.
By this means the head is permanently flattened. Some bind
a handkerchief tightly round the head, which gives it a conical form. Those deformations the Indians consider marks of
beauty. The Indian squaw constructs a sort of small elongated wicker basket for her infant to sleep in, attached, to
which are a wonderful variety of appendages, consisting of
small shells, beads, toy brass bells, about the size of a thimble,
buttons, and any other description of trinkets she can obtain.
The mother when sitting on the ground places the tiny basket
with the infant on her knee, and when the little thing shows
signs of uneasiness she moves her knees from side to side, and
the gingling of the trinkets sooth it over to sleep again. When
travelling she slings it over her shoulder, reminding one of a
foreigner carrying a French fiddle. At the camping place
she suspends it from an overhanging branch in the open air.
with strings cut from the bark of frees, or from the skin of
wild animals, and swings it forwards and backwards for hours
The Indians manifest considerable affection for their offspring ; but, nevertheless, will sometimes sell one of their
children even for a few dollars. A Scotchman in the employ
of the Hudson's Bay Company in Victoria, bought an Indian
female child.    Its mother showed signs of grief at. parting 49
is. with it; but when she saw the man dandle it on his knee,
and manifest something like kindness to it, she became per-
I fectly reconciled ;   danced a few times around them in the
.   most ludicrous manner; then bounded into the woods, and
I saw her child  no more.    The  Scotchman brought up  the
child, and when she arrived at maturity he made her his wife.
I frequently saw her in Victoria.    She was better looking,
and bore a rather more intelligent expression of countenance
than the generality of Indians.    Civilization unquestionably
has this improving tendency.
A Yankee in Victoria, who was about fifty years of age,
took an Indian girl, about eighteen years of age, to live with
him. They occupied the adjoining shanty, and as there was
only a thin partition between us, I unavoidably overheard a
great deal of their conversation. He devoted a considerable
portion of his leisure time to teaching her the alphabet, and
English language ; and she made tolerable progress. At the
time [ speak of she was capable of making herself pretty well
understood. She had the character of being one of the most
clean and thoroughly domesticated squaws in Victoria. Her
little two-roomed shanty, which I sometimes glanced into
when passing the door, was scrupulously clean. Her linen,
which I frequently observed hanging out drying, was as white
as hands could make it. She was likewise remarkably clean
in her person, and tidy in her dress. She appeared to have
a great amount of affection for the Yankee, and was continually asking him if he loved her. It is said the Indian
women are very affectionate.
The Indians detest manual labour, and anything they may^
have to perform in the shape of work devolves upon the
squaw. We frequently met with natives migrating from one
place to another, and invariably the Clootchrnan* was carrying a heavy burden on her back—her lord and master walking leisurely by her side carrying nothing whatever. One
day we met with a party, the Clootchrnan having a tremendous sized bundle strapped on her back, and a child some
two years old in her arms, which she carried with its back
towards her—having her arms clasped around it, leaving its
legs dangling down before her—that being the Indian woman's
method of carrying her child- after it
erown too large for
the basket.    The poor creature was toiling at, extremity, the
♦Clootchrnan is another and more popular name for the Indian ■woman. 50
perspiration pouring down her face in streams. We urged
the Indian, through the medium of signs, to relieve her by
carrying the child. He eventually comprehended our meaning, and seemed greatly amused at the request; smiled significantly, as much as to say, " I have never done that yet, and
don't mean to begin now."
The Indians devote their time to hunting, shooting, and
fishing. Many of them have been supplied with muskets by
the Hudson's Bay Company, and are well versed in the use
of it. Their fish-hook is made of bone or hard wood. During the summer season they capture salmon, gather berries,
and collect certain roots, all of which they dry in the sun, and
preserve for winter use. In summer they sleep in tents made
of canvas, or branches of trees, and in winter live in holes
dug in the ground, which are covered over with branches,
their means of ingress and egress being through an aperture
in the top.
The Indians are remarkably dexterous in the management
of the canoe. Their ores or paddles are from three to four
feet in length, with a cross head similar to that of a spade,
and are diamond pointed, the broadest part of the blade being
about five inches in width. The paddle is dipped into the
water vertically, the rowers always sitting with their faces in
the direction they are going. One sits at the stern using a
paddle as a rudder to steer the canoe in the required direction. The canoe is cut out of a solid piece of wood, and the
inside scooped out with a gouged-shaped adze. Prior to the
Indians being furnished with this tool, the inside was burnt
out with red hot stones, which must necessarily have been a
very tedious operation. Their canoes are of various lengths,
ranging from ten to thirty feet, and from two to four feet in
It is a remarkable fact that the North American Indians
are beardless. Occasionally we saw an Indian with a sprinkling of hair on the tip of his chin, but that was an occurrence
as rare almost as to see a European woman with that appendage. With the exception of the head which bears a profusion, there is little hair on the body of the Indian. Both
sexes wear their hair roughly parted down the centre of the
forehead, and hanging in disorder about their shoulders. The
hair of the Indian is perfectly straight and flowing—always
coarse, and almost universally black.    Im some instances, 51
however, we observed it was of a brownish hue. The forehead is extremely low, the hair in many cases growing down
almost to the eyebrows. Their eyes, without exception, are
jet black. Their costume is primitive. Some are enveloped
in bear skins, some in a variety of skins strung together, and
some in blankets. The majority go barefooted, but some
wear the moccason—a sort of shoe made of wash leather, the
sole being only the same thickness as the upper father. As
there is no' distinction made in dress between male and female,
and as all are beardless, and have their hair parted in the
centre, it is often difficult to distinguish one sex from the
There are various tribes of Indians, which was evident to
us from the different classes of features we observed. There
is the broad flat face, with a vacant childish expression, and
the sharp-featured with a ferocious countenance, the forehead
of the latter receding till a straight line might be drawn irom
the tip of the nose to the back part of the head. Some paint
their hands and face red to prevent sunburning. Occasionally
we met with a naturally red-skinned Indian.
Some of the Indians bury their dead, some burn them, and
others place the bodies in rough wooden boxes and fasten
them up in trees : the higher the station of life has been the
higher they are placed in the tree.
Those who bury their dead build a pile of wood around the
graves. At the grave of a chief is a flagstaff, with a clean
neat flag of red and white; on the flagstaff is hung his
musket, hunting-jacket, belt, knife, and drinking tin. It is
said those graves are carefully watched from a distance by
the tillicums (friends) 6f the chief, and woe be to the man
who violates the grave of an Indian chief. Those who burn
their dead take the fat as it runs from the body ; mix it with
the ashes of the wood into a paste, and smear their faces with
it, making certain marks according to relationship.
We observed several Indian places of worship by the side
of the rivers and lakes. Several small flags were flying. They
had no building, except a sort of wooden shed for their gods
to stand in. Those images are cut out of wood and painted,
and are certainly the most droll and laughable things imaginable.
Phrenologically speaking, the development of the North
American Indian is of a low order, the animal propensities
e2 preponderating greatly over the intellectual faculties.    He is
crafty, thievish, and treacherous.
We kept plodding on from day to day, but heard most
woeful and discouraging accounts from disappointed men,
arid we could not avoid (he conviction that ere long, in alt
human probability, we likewise would be compelled to join
the returning wretched, starving throng. We met hundreds
upon hundreds coming down in a most pitiable plight: numbers had nothing to eat, and had no prospect of anything ;
many who had worn out their shoes had their bleeding feet
bound in clouts to protect them from the sharp cutting stones
and gravel, so frequently met with. Altogether, it was a
most direful and heartrending scene.
There'thev were, poor fellows, in a starving condition in a
wild outlandish country, almost entirely uninhabited, except
by half savage Indians and wild beasts—hundreds of miles
away from civilized society—their prospects blasted—their
circumstances ruined—their forms emaciated, and their
spirits broken.
Many had left their wives and children at home entirely
depending upon their success at the diggings; and now that
they were disappointed, and knew that their families would
soon be in want, the mental distress of many of those poor
fellows became terrible.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of many a stout-hearted man,
who could endure any amount of hunger and privation ; but
when he thought of his wife and children suffering at home,
and himself not able to return to them, it was more than he
could bear.
Hundreds of fine fellows belonging Canada had mortgaged
or sold their little farms at a great sacrifice, and gone out
there confident of success, believing in some flattering reports wrote by one Parson White, who belonged Canada
formerly, but who then resided in New Westminster, British
Columbia. They placed implicit confidence in the statements
of White, as we did in those of Donald Fraser, the Victoria
correspondent of the London Times. What curses did we
hear called down upon the heads of Fraser and White for
their misrepresentations.
Often would our recollections wander back to Old England.
leasing it had been to sit over the kitchen fire at home,
behind a long pipe, reading glowing accounts in the 2im$t 53
about the gold fields of British Columbia, with visions of gold
flitting through the brain, and imagining that were we but
there what wonders we would perform ! My God ! how terribly different was the reality. It seemed as if we had been
lured away from our happv homes by some tempting bait
and then caught in a horrible trap, from which there was no
possibility of escape. It seemed as if a whole lifetime of.
usual privation was being compressed into intense suffering,
and crowded into each dav.
We met with a vast number of exoerienced gold-diggers,
whd had been in Australia, New Zealand, and California.
Those men had roughed it for years ; but. strange to say,
they were the first, generallv speaking, to fall faint-hearted.
They said they had endured all sorts of privations in olher
gold fields, but the hardships of British Columbia was too
much for human nature to contend with. It was so much
worse than anything they had hitherto experienced that
numbers of them gave it up long ere they reached Cariboo,
and retraced their steps ; and many of those who Dersevered
to the end felt so thoroughly disheartened with the appearance of things that without even putting a spade into the
ground turned their backs upon the place, and returned
grumbling, and cursing the London Times and British
Columbia to all eternity. But if those men were unable to
endure the hardships of the country, it could scarcelv be expected that those who had all through life enjoyed everv
domestic comfort, without* ever sleeping off a feather bed,
would be equal to the task. But, nevertheless, it is wonderful to what an extent men can accommodate themselves to
circumstances. In the midst of all this miserv we could
sometimes for a few minutes forget our sorrows, and enjoy
the novelty and romance of our situation; and had we but
had the means of appeasing the cravings of hunger, and
making ourselves in the least degree comfortable, this trip
would have been to us a glorious affair. But continued
hunger and fatigue would, in spite of us, put an almost
effectual extinguisher upon every source of enjoyment. We
had the injustice to heap all the blame upon Mr. Fraser for
our troubles, and many a bitter tirade was indulged in at his
Our friend, William Mark, who is one of the most plucky
and determined fellows the world ever saw, remarked that
**»*?% 54
" if the mountains of Cariboo were one solid mass of gold, it
would not induce him to attempt this a second time; and
that if he did die on the road, he would like to have the
privilege, just before he expired, of blowing out the brains of
Mr. Fraser : it would give him infinite pleasure, and he could
then die happy."    This sally excited roars of laughter.
We had many melancholy proofs of the hardships of that
long trip. Many a new-made grave did we pass by the side
of that terrible path;—yes, many a noble fellow lies there
beneath the sod, with a pile of wood built around his grave
to prevent the wild beasts tearing his remains from the ground,
and a stick, with a piece dirty clout put in the shape of a flag,
to murk the spot.
One was a most extraordinary death. Three travellers
were sleeping together: a lump of rock fell from the mountain, rolled on to their tent, killed the middle mem, and those
on each side of him escaped uninjured.
We prospected a few times as we went along by the side
of the Fraser River and in the rivulets, and invariably found
small specs of gold, but not in sufficient quantities to pay
working. Numbers of Chinamen, however, make a living by
washing the gravel with rockers by the side of the Fraser;
but they live at a cheap rate, subsisting chiefly on rice.
We never met with anything in the shape of game on the
River Trail, except wild ducks on the lakes. We had several shots at them, and never hit but one, which James
Marquis shot; but being in deep water we could not recover
it, although Edward Mark waded in up to the waist. We consequently lost the anticipated pleasure of dining on roast duok.
We were told that on some of the other routes to Cariboo
there was an abundance of game.-
For days together we did not see a living thing, except
mosquitoes and grasshoppers, the ground in some places
being ^literally covered with the last-named insect. We
never heard the chirp of a bird, or even saw a bird of any
description, except a few crows* once in a while; and sometimes at dusk in the evening we heard the tapping of the
woodpecker. We frequently saw the foot-print of bears, but
the animals themselves were seldom seen. We saw one
wolf, and one small grey squirrel, which one of our party
shot at, but missed.
We never saw or heard of such a thiutr as a suake  in 55
British Columbia, although we bad read terrible accounts in
England about thousands of venomous reptiles being found
at Cariboo. This was a pure invention of somebody's prolific mischievous brain. Cariboo, which is buried deep in
snow for eight months ont of the twelve, is not a very suitable climate, I presume, for reptiles.
With the exception of mosquitoes, and some sort of nasty
I slimy animals, about half the size of a man's hand, which
sometimes took a fancy to crawl over our faces during the
night time, nothing disturbed our repose while, we slept in
the woods.
As a matter of course, the price of provisions advanced as
we progressed. We were now paying 2s. 9d. per lb. for
flour, and learnt that at the diggings the price ranged from
48. 2d. to 6s. 3d. per lb., and frequently was not to be had
even at the latter price. We began to make the very unpleasant discovery that we had not sufficient funds amongst
us to carry us through the campaign. As for myself, I had
not a cent, left, William Mark had previously advanced me
money, and I could not further draw upon him without
seriously embarrassing him, the idea of which was exceedingly hurtful to me. I, therefore, resolved to return. Marquis had plenty of money to take him to Cariboo, but he had
not sufficient to give him a chance of success, consequently
he determined to return with me.
Some days previously we had come to the conclusion that
if we had but sufficient money to take us to Cariboo, two or
three of us would engage to work for other miners, while
the rest went prospecting, and by that means be able, perhaps, to keep body and soul together until we met with a claim.
But even that last hope was scattered to the winds, for we
learnt from some of our former travelling companions who
had been up to the diggings, and were now returning, that
hundreds were offering to work for their grub, and some
actually for a single meal a-day, and could not get the privilege. Therefore, our only alternative was to " 'bout ship,"
and steer a backward course. There was something excessively galling in the idea of having commenced a journey of
ten thousand six hundred miles in order to gain a certain
object, and then compelled to abandon the undertaking after
ten thousand five hundred of those miles had been accomplished.    But there was no help for it. 56
It was the 24th of June, and we had now arrived at
William's Lake, a place 250 miles above Port Douglas. We
held a consultation, and it was ultimately decided that Robert
Mark would return with us, and accompany me to the road-
makers' camp, which was 130 miles further down the country.
where we would apply for work. James Marquis, who had
the prospect of employment at Victoria, would go on to that
pi ice. William and Edward would proceed to the diggings,
and if they were fortunate enough to obtain a paying claim, we
would all return the foil 6 win a season and work it. William
gave to his sou Robert and myself ten dollars each, and we
But the parting scene was a painful^one. We all felt it
keenly; but the parting between William and his son was
touching in the extreme. They were both broken-hearted :
tears rolled down their checks while they embraced each
other; but part they must, and they tore themselves asunder.
Mark, in his pamphlet, says—" We had shared the troubles
and dangers together for ten thousand miles; and here we
part, in a strange wild country, perhaps never to see each
other again.
After we had gone some distance, however, Edward ran
after us with a message from his father, to the effect that
whatever the consequence might be he could not part with
Robert; and they must sink or swim together. .The countenance of the young man brightened at this intimation, and he
returned to his father with a light heart.
The fact of William sending for his son was greatly annoying to Marquis, who reasoned correctly enough, that two men
were quite sufficient to prospect, and would be much easier
kept than three. It appeared to him to be throwing a chance
away. He accordingly went back to remonstrate with Mark
for being, as it appeared to him, chicken-hearted ; but when
he beheld the intense grief that was depicted in his countenance, it so completely softened the heart of Marquis that he
could not muster courage to breathe a single sentence of reproach, but turned away and left them.
When I learnt from Marquis his motive for seeking this
interview with Mark, I ventured to hint thit he had yet to
learn what were the feelings of a parent towards his off-spring, -
or he never would have dreamt of interfering with such noble
and sacred sentiments: 57
The Marks now took, the forward, and Marquis and me the
backward direction; but the prospect for us was anything
but cheering. We had neither tent nor cooking utensils, for
it was absolutely necessary for our friends (the Marks) to take
those things along with them.
As for myself, I had nothing in the shape of blankets
(which are indispensable in that country), except a very
small thin rug; and, as I have said before, all the money I
possessed was forty shillings. We bought five pounds of
flour, for which we paid fourteen shillings, and when we had
the opportunity borrowed a pan of a traveller to boil or bake
in. Jim conceived the idea of boiling the flour with water
into a sort of hasty pudding. This answered an excellent
purpose, for it seemed to appease our hunger for a greater
length of time than it did when made into cakes. Of course,
we had nothing in the shape of salt, but that was a thing
easily dispensed with.
The only fault this flour had, " there was too little of it."
■ One day we met with a traveller, who made us a present of a
little brown sugar, which we used to our hasty pudding—a
luxury we enjoyed exceedingly. The men who keep those
public-houses on the road allow their customers to sleep .on
the floor of their houses, or in their outbuildings, free of expense, so we smuggled ourselves amongst the customers, and
therefore did pretty well in that respect. At these houses
above Lillooet the charge is 6s. 3d. each meal, but below
that place 4s. 2d. They likewise profess to sell flour and
bread, but frequently will not confess with any, simply to
compel people to buy meals. Marquis indulged himself with
an occasional supper, but I could not afford it, and walked
many a day 25 miles with a small piece of bread and water.
Jim frequently urged me to deal a little more liberally with
my stomach : but my money was to be spun out to a fearful
distance, and I had such a dread of the almost certain prospect
of starvation that I determined not to spend a single cent,
more than absolute necessity compelled me to do.
Marquis took a different view of the subject—declared he
would have something to eat so long as his money lasted, and
let the morrow provide for itself. I had not the least doubt
that had I become destitute of money Jim would have shared
his last shilling with me; but I was well aware he had not
sufficient for his own purpose, therefore I resolved to make 58
the little I had serve me if possible. I accordingly struggled
on day after day living on a small portion of bread and water,
till with hunger and fatigue I was so much reduced in strength
that frequently when I sat down to rest, or to drink, it was with
difficulty I could regain my feet. Could I but have obtained
one good meal a day, I would not have taken the least harm.
I often thought what a fool I was to starve myself in that
manner when I had money in my pocket; bnt then all I had
would not have paid for four meals, and then what was to be
I was often amused at the struggle that took place in my
mind, arising from a ravenous appetite on the one hand, and
an inclination to save for future emergencies on the other.
Seeing other men go into the houses to eat, my hand would
involuntarily find its way into my trousers pocket—seize the
little money it contained—pull it half way out-—turn the coins
over and over—then drop them down again. Then I would
draw the money out with a fixed determination to buy food,
but somehow or other my resolution would suddenly forsake
me ; and after turning the few dollars over in my hand half-a-
dozen times, down they would go again to the bottom of my
pocket with a clash. Then the smell of the viands which
issued from the house would drive me ravenous. Seizing the
coins with a vice-like grip, which threatened to penetrate the
flesh of my hand, I felt determined not to loose my hold till
I placed some of them in the hand of the eating-house keeper
for a dinner—marched with a firm step up to the door, resolving to eat at all hazards—when suddenly I would imagine I
heard a voice say, " If you do, you will rue it—eat now if you
like, and starve afterwards." I would instantly wheel round,
and rush from the house; and thus for several days this
strange warfare went on in the mind, and I continued to five
on bread and water.
Strange to say, when I came to the last shilling, which I
paid for a single cup of bad coffee, it seemed to give me tittle
concern. Once or twice when Marquis was taking supper he pocketed for me a piece of bread, which served tile
next day.
One night, after having nothing to eat all day, I paid 25
cents, for a pint of butter-milk, there being nothing else to
he had at that house, except a very indifferent supper for 6s.
■3d., which, of course, I did not partake of.    I always had a particular dislike to butter-milk, but on that occasion it was
particularly palatable.
Next morning I started with a light stomach and a heavy
heart, and lame as a dog, for I had blisters on my feet the
size of half-crown pieces.
At- a short distance from the house I observed a piece of
dry dirty bread, black as coal, lying on the ground—perhaps
thrown there by some filthy Indian; a dog would scarcely
have eaten it. No matter, I looked at it with a longing eye,
but was noticed by some men who were standing about, and
could not find an opportunity to pick it up, and I left it very
reluctantly. That same bread was picked up immediately
afterwards by a young Englishman and eaten.
Such is hunger. I may here remark that mine was not an
isolated case ; hundreds of cases were as bad and many worse
than mine.
When starting one morning I found myself in a dreadfully
broken-down condition; it was with great difficulty I could
set one foot before the other. I overheard one man say to
another about me, " That poor old man will never see the
next house." No doubt, my then present appearance would
warrant that assertion, for my back and belly were fast approaching each other, my back-bone forming a half circle,
and my knees at every step coming into violent contact. I
had, no doubt, the appearance of a very old man. However,
contrary to their expectations, I did see the next house and
all the houses on the road, but I had a hard struggle for it.
I could compare the sensation of extreme hunger to nothing
but this : a string through a hole in my back fastened to the
inside of my belly, and somebody behind lugging at it. It
was a curious fancy, but it seemed to convey that idea. At
last I was obliged to submit, and on two occasions pay 6s.
3d. for a meal.
Having tramped day after day with next to nothing to eat,
nature became completely exhausted. I could obtain neither
bread nor flour ; paid my dollar and a half and sat down to
eat, but having been so long without flesh meat, it turned me
quite sick, and I could not eat it. I put the beef and bread
into my pocket, which made me a rare feast the next day.
The next time 1 was necessitated to buy a meal, the enormous
quantity I ate made me ill for some days after. Marquis
could not take supper that night, having made himself ill 60
with feating huckle berries, which we sometimes met with on
the road: they are wholesome, but he ate too many. The
huckle berry is about the size of our black currant—a sort of
blaeberry, and grows on a bush six or eight feet in height.
One day we sat down in a ravine to drink water; an Indian
camp was hard by, and the place was densely studded with
those berries. It appeared the Indians claimed this place as
"their garden, but we were not aware of it at the time, and
•James Marquis quite innocently broke off a branch loaded
with berries, and sat down to eat them. He had no sooner
done so than the Indians came buzzing about us like bees
from a hive. We had only one travelling companion with us
at the time, and none of us were armed. This man had been
in the country a few years, and had a slight knowledge of the
■Chinook language. We learnt from him afterwards the meaning of some of the expressions the Indians made use of. It
was to the effect that they would sell us as many as we liked,
but we had no business to help ourselves ; and how would
the white man like the Indian to break into his garden and
steal his fruit; that the white man had no more right to steal
the Indian's fruit than the Indian had to steal the white man's
fruit. All this was sensible enough, and went to prove that
even those half savage Indians had some idea of right and
wrong. But the fact is, we were not aware that we were
stealing. Had the place been fenced around We would at
once have understood it to be some one's private property;
but as such was not the case, we of course had no other impression than that we were at perfect liberty to help ourselves.
The Indians, however, did not discern that-we were doing
this in ignorance ; they seemed astounded at the liberty taken,
and from their gestures, it was evident we had got into trouble.
The chief stood at a distance brandishing an immense club:
his manner was alarmingly vehement; he raved and frothed
at the mouth with rage, and frequently made use of the words,
.'* siwashmammerloose," which meant they (the Indians) would
murder us. James looked pale as death-r-his lips were like
marble; the other man trembled like an aspen leaf, and I was
almost petrified with fear. Marquis, however, daringly persisted in eating away at the berries, professing to give no heed
to the chief. I could see that serious mischief was brewing,
and urged Marquis to desist, for the rage of the chief increased
tenfold when he saw that Jim set him at defiance.    As luck 61
would have it, just at that moment eight or ten white man
came up, with whom we had been travelling a few days, but
who had now been lagging behind; some of those men were
armed with guns, and the others with revolvers, the appearance of which had the effect of cooling down the Indians, for
they immediately slunk away from our presence. Had some
one made us each a present of a ton weight of Cariboo gold
it would not have been a more agreeable sight to us than
were the faces of those white men at that moment; for had
they not come up at that time we, undoubtedly, would have
been mannnerloosed.
We learnt afterwards that a few hours previous to our adventure with the Indians, three white men had been plucking
huckle berries at the same place, which had greatly exasperated the savages, and the fact of us doing the same thing
immediately afterwards accounts for the warm reception we
met with. Some of the Indians armed with knives followed
those white men with the intention of mammerlonsing them,
but on their approach the whites wheeled round and confronted them.
One of the white men having a revolver levelled it at the
chief, threatening to bore a hole through him if they molested
them. The Indian cooly bared his breast and told him to-
fire. " Kill me," says he, " and then nica lillicums mammer—
hose," i.e., my friends will kill you. It seems, however, after-
all, that he had no particular fancy to have his brains blown-
out, for he allowed them to depart unmolested. It has been-,
previously stated that the Indians in those parts are not particularly hostile so long as they are not meddled with. Nevertheless, it is a fact that they will commit murder where there
is a prospect of plunder. We were told frequently that when
a favourable opportunity presents itself, the savages do not
scruple to draw a knife across the white man's throat, or dispatch him by battering in his skull, in order to pcssess themselves of his provisions, blankets, and dollars. Those statements have of late been confirmed by reports which have
reached this country, narrating some horrible butchering of
white men perpetrated by Indians in British Columbia, and
all for the sake of plunder.
We had now completed about a hundred miles of our return
journey, and soon reached the great mountain where we suffered so much from thirst; and here Marquis and I unfortu- 62
nately got separated, and saw no more of each other till we
met at New Westminster, some eight days afterwards. It
happened in this way. We sat down to drink before climbing the big mountain. Jim started again a short time before
I did, for the purpose of gathering huckle berries, and requested me to follow in a few minutes. He had taken the
right direction; but other two men and myself, as bad luck
would have it, took the wrong trail, which had been an Indian
one; got ten miles out of our way, and lost ourselves in a
dense forest. When at a stand-still, we luckily met with
some friendly Indians, who put us on to a track that led to
one of the Government Cariboo roads, which was in course of
making about ten miles farther ahead. I had nothing whatever to eat, but going over a large mountain I found half a
biscuit, and a little further on a whole one, which in all probability had been lost. This we considered providential, and
one of my companions having a very small piece of rancid
bacon, which we could not have eaten under ordinary circumstances—we made a fire (having plenty of lucifer matches
with us) and cooked the bacon, which he divided amongst
the three of us. I thought I never in all my life ate anything
so palatable; hunger had a wonderful charm in giving to the
meanest eatables a rich flavour. I was now without money
and without food, and I had lost my old friend Marquis,
which was the greatest want of all. While I had James
Marquis with me I had a genuine friend—always a mighty
consolation in times of trouble ; but now that he was gone,
my spirits failed me. It is true, I had two white men for
companions, but they were comparative strangers to me, and
in looking after themselves had quite enough to attend to. I
felt indescribably wretched; indeed, all the hunger, thirst,
and privation I had endured was as nothing in comparison to
what I suffered mentally.
I was constantly haunted with the dreadful presentiment
that I would die on the road, and my wife and children would
never know my fate, for who would take the trouble to write
to them. This silly over-sensitiveness caused nine-tenths of
my mental suffering. 1 was not the only one out there, however, who pined about those left behind; I met with numbers
quite as chicken-hearted as myself. He who possesses a
tender feeling for his wife and children possesses a sentiment
he need not be ashamed of; but, depend upon it, tender feel- 63
ings are not the right sort of goods to take out to British
Columbia, and if he cannot leave his tender feelings behind
he had much better stay at home with them. I believe the
more callous-hearted a man is the better he is adapted for an
adventure like this.
After the Indians had pointed us out the right direction we
recovered our spirits a little, for we had the cheering prospect
of employment at the road-making. At all events, we were
certain of something to eat. When we reached the road-
makers' camp (it being Sunday) the men were lounging in
their tents, and to my great astonishment I heard my name
called out in all directions, and before I had time to think I
was surrounded by a dozen hearty fellows, all struggling to
shake hands with me. I recognized in them some fellow-
passengers of ours, principally Canadians, with whom we had
sailed from New York. They were all disappointed Cari-
booites, and were now working on the roads. What a godsend was this road-making : it rescued scores from absolute
starvation. Meeting with those men was an agreeable surprise ; and when I beheld so many familiar faces, all my
troubles, both mental and physical, seemed for the time to
vanish. It was scarcely necessary to throw out a hint that
we needed food : our wants were immediately anticipated.
The foreman having been solicited, we were set down—on
the ground, of course—to partake of a splendid repast, consisting of bdiled bacon and beans, bread and coffee. The
camp had dined a short time previously, therefore the remainder was still warm and comfortable. What quantity we-
ate I cannot say, but it was something enormous, for lump*,
of boiled bacon did certainly, for a considerable time, disappear with marvellous rapidity. Our appetite satiated, we-
passed an agreeable hour, narrating to each other our misadventures. It was the old story over again: hairbreadth,
escapes, hunger, and intense suffering. We applied for work,,
but could not obtain it, owing to their want of tools. But
the foreman told us that seven or eight miles further on was
another gang of men at work; we were to mention his name
to the foreman there, and he was certain we would be set to>
work. We accordingly took leave of our friends, and when
we reached the other camp the mqn were at supper, and here
again we " put ourselves outside of an excellent meal."
All those men (sixty in number) were perfect strangers tc*
^Wftssl 64
us, but they gave us a hearty welcome. Two of us applied
for work and succeeded ; the other man went on, and I never
saw him afterwards. We engaged ourselves for two months
at 40 dollars per month and board. Now that I had got
work, I felt exceedingly thankful, for I was certain of plenty
to eat, and at the expiration of two months would have sixteen
pounds in my pocket.
I had no tent, but two young men (gentlemen's sons) from
London shared theirs with me, which they had made with
branches of trees. It was cold at nights, and I suffered for
want of blankets. The first night I slept uneasily, and had
an exciting dream. It was that I had returned home; and
when I entered the house, was greeted with exclamations of
surprise—my wife and children clinging around my neck
shedding tears of joy at my safe return. After the first burst
of feeling had subsided, I sat down on the squab by the
kitchen fire, and one of my little girls immediately sprang on
to my knee— threw her little arms around my neck, and kissed
me passionately. One of my other children wishing to occupy
her place, seized hold of her to drag her from me, when she
uttered a piercing scream, which aroused me from my sleep,
when lo ! and behold! instead of being at home with my wife
and children, I found myself lying on the ground in the Wild
woods of British Columbia, with nearly the whole thickness
of the world between us. What my feelings were at that
moment is beyond the power of language to describe. I had
been snatched from a perfect state of imaginary bliss to as
perfect a state of real misery and despair as the human mind
is capable of. The rebel angels hurled from the throne of
heaven to the regions of the damned could not have experienced a more terrible revulsion of feeling than I did at that
moment, and for some time I lay perfectly prostrate with
horror at the awful disappointment. " Oh, God, have mercy
upon me," were the first words that escaped my lips, followed
by a moan of as deep despair as ever found vent from a human
But how wonderful it is, with what earnestness men will
invoke Divine aid when in great distress, and how soon
forget to pray when delivered from their troubles. According to the ancient proverb—
" The devil was sick, and the devil a saint would be :
The devil got well, and the devil a saint was he !"   , 65
I commenced work on the following morning, but was extremely weak and ill. Having slept so long on the damp
ground, with but little to support nature, I felt as if it was
taking my life awpy inch by inch. The second night I had
a serious attack of a complaint similar to the croup, which
almost choked me. I thought it was going to be all over
with me.
My bed mates were wakened up in a fright with the loud
strange noise I made in trying to breathe ; however, I caught
my breath again, and retained it. Besides all this, having
had frequently to plodge through holes knee deep, and going
wet shod, gave me the gout again in my foot. This time,
fortunately, it was only a slight attack, and went off in a few
days. I worked a day and a-half in great pain, which the
foreman eventually observed ; and being a humane man, he
requested me to he awhile to see if I got better. I did so ;
but next morning brought me no relief; therefore, at my request, he paid me for the work I had done, and after stuffing
my pockets with bread and beef, I crawled away as best I
could. The distance to Lillooet was 23 miles, and how I got
over the ground is a mystery; but, sure enough, I reached
there that night more dead than alive, and I was fifteen hours
in performing the journey.
That was a dreadful day for me ; besides, the gout in my
foot, one of my heels was festered—the sinews of my legs
terribly sprained—every step I took gave me the most acute
pain—and altogether I was a pitiable object. I thought
death that day would have come to my relief, and welcome
it would have been. Indeed, on twenty previous occasions I
thought I could have gladly welcomed the grim monster; but,
still again, when I thought of my wife and children, it inspired
me with fresh courage, and I struggled on. I thought of the
dreadful state of suspense in which they would be, not knowing my fate. 1 wrote in my memorandum book my address,
with the following words—" Should death overtake me, will
some kind friend send the intelligence to my poor wife at
the above address.
However, contrary to my expectations, I survived it all.
It is impossible to calculate the amount of hardship a man
can endure until he is put to the test. Certain it is, he cannot
lie down and die just when he likes.
An amusing incident took place between two Englishmen, 66
with whom I was well acquainted—fellow-passengers of our
from Liverpool. The name of one was Knaptoh ; the other.
Smith. Those two men in returning from Cariboo, disappointed like hundreds of others, suffered considerable hard*
ship. Knapton was a short, thick-set, muscular fellow*
capable of great endurance; while Smith was considerably
deficient in physical stamina : both were young men.
One evening, after a hard day's tramp, with next to nothing
to eat, Smith found himself completely used up, and had
a decided impression that he was about to give up the
He came to a dead stand—sank down to the ground, and
called out to his friend, " Knapton, I am done: I cannot go
an inch further." " Nonsense,", says Knapton, " we have
got seven miles to walk yet to the next house, and if we
don't look sharp all the bread and flour will be worried up
by other travellers, and we must starve." " No use talking,"
says Smith, " nature is exhausted, and if I had the world for
doing it, I could not move another foot." " And what do you
propose to do ?" inquired Knapton. " Do," replied Smith ;
" I can do nothing but lie down under this tree and die."
Knapton, whose heart was in the right place, had, nevertheless, a rough method of showing his good feelings; and not
believing the case to be so desperate as all this, replied,
" Then you must die, and be d d : I must go and look
after something to eat." " What!" faltered Smith, " is it
possible you can thus leave me to my fate ?" " Why, what
in all the world am I to do," replied Knapton. " It appears
you have quite made up your mind to die, and if I remain
with you without food I will soon die too; and, as you are
well aware, I have a wife and family to live for—whereas,
you are a single man—therefore, it would not be half so
serious a matter you dying as it would me; besides, what's
the use of two men dying when one will do." Poor Smith
gave himself up to despair—cast a look upon Knapton that
would have melted a heart of stone, and ejaculated, " Oh,
God! here I must die, and not a friend to close my eyes in
death"—wrapped himself in his blanket—heaved a heavy
sigh, and commenced, he thought, the process of dying. Sure
enough, Knapton went on and left him, but quite satisfied in
his own mind that they would meet again. Knapton obtained
a supply of food at the next house, and after anxiously wait- ing a couple of-hours, and just when he was seriously contemplating the necessity of returning to seek him, to the unspeakable delight of Knapton, who should turn up but his old
friend, Smith, who staggered into the log-house, seemingly
quite astonished to find himself not dead.
Knapton narrated this incident to me afterwards in the
presence of his friend with great gusto, and many a jolly
laugh we had at the expense of poor Smith.
Going down towards Lillooet I met with an Irishman, and
we waddled on together. On one occasion, while resting,
about a dozen Indians came out of the wood and surrounded
us. They seemed disposed to subject us to a very close
scrutiny. One of them took my coat, which was hanging
over my arm, and examined it minutely both inside and out.
He then took my wide-awake hat off my head, and put it
through the same process; then turned the collar of my
waistcoat, and gave it a careful "inspection; and concluded
his manoeuvres with me by deliberately walking half-a-dozen
times around me, and examining me with as much curiosity
as though I had been an animal of rare species. Having
gratified his curiosity so far as I was concerned, he immediately turned his attention to my friend, the Irishman, who,
following my example, became quite passive in his hands, and
allowed the same liberties he had taken with me. He had
some bread tied up in a common red and white cotton handkerchief. The Indian took the bundle out of his hand-
deliberately untied it—possessed himself of the crumbs and
small pieces, and returned the largest piece to the Irishman.
They could speak a few words of broken English, and the
Indian expressed a wish to purchase the handkerchief. He
held it up, and made use of the word, " much ?" Half-a-
dollar said the Irishman. It was a bargain at once; the
Indian paid the money, and tied the handkerchief around his
head in great glee. It is said the Indians regard the English, but dislike the Americans They name the English
" King George men ;" the Americans, " Boston men." They
associate the word Boston with everything they dislike, or
that is useless. Should they possess a bad musket, a bad
fish hook, or a bad—no matter what—they term it a Boston
thing. When the purchase of the handkerchief was concluded one of them inquired of me as follows: " Boston
men ?"    I answered in the negative,  " King George men,
J0**i yes," I answered. They immediately, one and all, shook
hands with us, and one of them bid us good bye, and they
took their departure.
I found, by experience, that this was the proper way to
deal with the Indians, Had we resented those liberties, in
all probability it would have aroused their savage nature, and
they might have attacked us.
As already stated, I reached Lillooet in a miserable predicament. A bread baker (a man of colour) made me a cup
of coffee, with bread and butter, for a quarter dollar, and
gave me a piece of cold mutton into the bargain, and allowed
me to sleep on his shop floor. It appeared that there was
nothing very seriously the matter with my health more than
what something to eat and a night's rest would, in a measure,
repair ; for next morning I found my condition considerably
One of my feet being through to the ground, I employed a
shoemaker to cobble me a small piece on to the bottom of my
boot, the charge for which was a dollar; but I pleaded
poverty—he was an Englishman, and let me off for half-a-
dollar. I bought two pounds of bread, for which I paid a
half dollar.
My money was now nearly played-out. The word " played-
out" is extensively used among the Americans, and has a
peculiar significance.    Anything that is used up—finished	
come to an end—is " played-out." If a man has lost his
health, his constitution is " played-out;" if he is reduced in
circumstances, his means are " played-out;" if he has lost all
his money, his money is " played-out;" if he has got all the
gold out of his claim, his claim is " played-out;" if he has
been deceiving the public, and is detected, his tricks are
" played-out." England, in the estimation of the Yankees,
has lost her prestige. She is no longer a first-rate power :
she is going back in the world. England, they say, is
" played-out."
My money was about " played-out;" and I was distant
120 miles from Douglas—three lakes to cr^ss, at a dollar
each; and if I failed to gain employment, one pound more
in the steamers to Victoria. There was nothing for me but
to trust to the chapter of accidents, so off I set to the first
lake, four miles from Lillooet; and to make short a long
story, I succeeded in getting the privilege of working my 69
passage over all the three, in the shape of loading and unloading the cargo.
Two of those captains weie exceedingly kind—one of them
allowing me to sleep in the firehole of his steamer all night,
the other supplying me with bread and meat; but the heart
of the third was made of flint. I had gone to sleep in a- hay
• shed (the first comfortable bed I had found for some time), by
the side of a lake. The boat came in at one o'clock in the
morning. I immediately rose with a few other men to unload
the cargo for our passage over. We worked several hours at
extremity, and when we had finished, being very weak and
faint for want of meat and drink, we respectfully asked him
for a cup of coffee, but he refused. I think it no disgrace to
tell (for hundreds of men were compelled to do the same out
there), that several times in coming down I was obliged to
beg for a piece of bread, and twice I succeeded. But I found
myself a bad beggar—my voice faltered—I trembled every
limb, and altogether I made a bungling job of it. The first
time I tried on the begging business I met with a terrific
rebuff; it was at One of the roadside public-houses, kept by
a Yankee. When I entered his house, I found him busily
engaged with another man playing at cards on the counter.
I asked for assistance in few words, couched in terms as civil
and respectful as I knew how; but with a horrid oath he
ordered me out of his house. I thanked him for his courtesy,
and left him to his own reflections.
I will now relate what I consider a striking incident, and
which had a great deal to do with promoting my better luck
afterwards. In crossing the lakes, a gentleman happened to
be on board, who turned out to be Archdeacon Wright, of
Victoria He noticed my distressed appearance, and entered
into conversation. When he learnt that I belonged Wokingham, he manifested great kindness towards me.
Strange to say, he was, in former years, an intimate
acquaintance of Squire Wilkinson's, of Harpley Hall, near
Wolsingham, and had frequently been there on visits. He
was well acquainted with Bishop Auckland. I found the Archdeacon a free, communicative, and intelligent gentleman.
After we crossed the last lake, the Archdeacon put a
sovereign into my hand, saying it would give me present
relief, and I might give it him back when I got employment.
I thanked him with heartfelt gratitude, and when I returned
a iiu8&..
the sovereign a few weeks afterwards he told me if ever I
needed a friend I was to apply to him. The Archdeacon
advised me, now that I had the means, to get a good meal,
which he thought I stood in much need of. I was not long
in carrying his advice into effect, which put new life into me.
He acquainted me with his whereabout at Douglas, and
requested me to call upon him, and he would render me every
assistance in his power to obtain employment.
He then took the stage waggon, which was then running
between Douglas and the first lake.
I had now only thirty miles to walk to Douglas, and after
resting a few hours, I started from the lake about two o'clock
in the afternoon, in company with an Irishman and a Canadian, with whom I had recently become acquainted on the
road. We jogged on together fifteen miles to the half-Way
house, kept by a canny Scotchman. While I was occupied
kindling a fire by the side of a stream near the dwelling, my
two companions went to ask the Scotchman for a supply of
flour; but soon returned with lengthened visage, and the not
over-cheering news that he would no't grant the favour, although they offered to pay any price for it he thought proper
to charge, providing it was within our means. We were now
at a loss to know what to do, for although we had fasted only
about twelve hours, we were hungry and faint, and as night
was approaching, and being fifteen miles from Douglas, we
saw little prospect of reaching it that night. I proposed
going to the Scotchman myself to urge further the request,
but my two friends declared it would be perfectly useless, for
all their earnest appeals had failed to touch his callous heart.
It was clear the Scotchman had made a very unfavourable
impression on their minds; and they denounced him to me
in the most bitter terms. Indeed, the epithets they indulged
in were couched in language that, to say the least, was anything but creditable to themselves.
I said it could be no hanging matter to- make another attempt, and resolved to do so. When I entered the house, I
found him busily occupied with some papers, apparently invoices. I urged the request in as civil terms as I was capable
of, but received no reply. Indeed, he did not deign even to
raise his head; and I kept on repeating the request at intervals for at least half-a-dozen times, but still received no more
answer from him than had he been a marble statue. I was at a loss to know what opinion to form of him, for
lie certainly appeared to be a problem very difficult to solve.
I was perplexed, amused, annoyed, and interested with the
nan's manner, but having waited several minutes with no
better success, I was just thinking I would be compelled to
abandon the siege, and had come to the very rash conclusion
that the fellow was either a fool or a brute, when he actually
raised his head, and opened his mouth, and I heard the pleasing intimation, " Weel, weel, ye sal hae a bit flour." I
thanked him kindly, and he immediately weighed us 2 lbs.
of flour each, and charged us only 15 cents, per lb., the price
he had paid for it. He then lent us an old frying-pan, and a
lump of bacon skin to grease it with. Goodness knows how
many people had used this bacon before us, for if was black as
a coal. That, however, did n/)t in the least degree blunt our
appetite, and we lost no time in converting the dust into dough.
The method of baking in the woods is as follows:—The
' flour is mixed with water in the pan, and stirred about with
a stick—worked with the hands to the proper consistency,
and flattened out the size of the pan bottom, but allowed to
remain on the fire only till the dough is sufficiently set to
enable it to stand on edge. It is then placed against a stone
before the fire till done. The most difficult part of the operation for a hungry man to perform is to muster sufficient
patience to wait till the thing is cooked.
We sat with watering mouths watching the baking process^
and thinking the stuff would never take leave of its pasty
condition. When it was done, or thereabouts, we commenced
operations; and although our cake was without kneading, or
even a piece of salt, we ate it, and drank from the running
stream with a relish that no mortal man can form the least
idea of who has not experienced the cravings of extreme
I sometimes thought it was almost worth the while to get
well starved for the sake of the great pleasure one derived
from eating under such circumstances.
We had finished our repast, and were consulting with each
other about the necessity of applying to our host for the privilege of sleeping in his stable, when he sent his servant man
to say, " that as it was now dark we had better go no further,
but stay all night, and we were welcome to sleep in the house,
for he had several bunks unoccupied, and we could have one
r a 72
each free of expense. Of course, we gladly accepted the
offer ; went into the house and thanked him with feelings of
There were three Englishmen besides myself lodging there
that night, and we passed a pleasant evening discoursing
about happy Old England, and days gone by. Our worthy
host occasionally joined in the conversation; he was a man
of few words, but I saw enough of him to convince me he
was an honest, straightforward, well-meaning man. He was
one of those sort of men who are a great deal better than
they appear to be at first sight, and improve upon acquaintance. I learnt another lesson on this important subject, viz.,
the folly and injustice of condemning a person on the first
We rose about six next morning greatly refreshed with our
comfortable sleep ; and returning sincere thanks to our excellent friend for his hospitality, we took our departure.
After walking a few miles we sat down to rest, and were
overtaken by a waggoner with an empty waggon. We immediately recognized in him one of our English fellow-lodgers.
He was on his way to Douglas, and offered us a ride in his
waggon. Being very lame, I gladly accepted the offer ; but
my two friends declined on the grounds that the road being
so uneven, the shake of the waggon would do them more
harm than walking would. I went in the waggon, however,
and left them behind, but soon proved their fears to be well
founded. I certainly fell in for a jolting of the most genuine
description. What with deep cart-ruts and ugly stones I
thought the life would have been shaken out of me. Every
now and then down went one side of the waggon into a great
hole, and up went the other, which threatened to turn the
great caravan-looking machine upside down. Next moment
up went the down side, and down went the up side, which,
ever and anon, gave me a remarkable quick passage to the
opposite side of the vehicle, where I landed with a soss ; and
thus I was kept pitching and rolling about like a ship in a
storm. Somehow or other, I had no inclination to give up
the amusement. Unpleasant as it was, it was a change, at
all events ; and there was some thing-so exceedingly ludicrous
and laughable about the affair that I was quite fascinated
with the novelty of the thing, and determined to carry it out
to the end. 4M
But what surprised and amused me more than all the rest
was the cool and quiet manner in which the waggoner took
all this; for those terrible upheavings and convulsions seemed
to produce but little effect upon him, and was incapable of
knocking him off his perch. There he sat at the head of his
machine, rolling and wabbling about, but with an easy motion
that was quite astonishing. Constant practice had given him
the knack of accommodating himself to this peculiar motion,
the same as a sailor can suit himself to the motion of a ship.
About three o'clock in the afternoon I was set down at
Douglas safe and sound.
It was Sunday, the sixth of July. I had, therefore, accomplished that eventful 500 miles in 25 days.
I immediately repaired to the little domicile of our worthy
friend, John Pearman, the bread-baker; but I was so greatly
reduced in bulk that some time elapsed before he could bring
me to his recollection ; and when he recognized me, exclaimed,
" Good God, what in all the world has become of you, for you
seem to have almost entirely disappeared." " A considerable
portion of me evaporated," I answered, " in the shape of perspiration, while passing over the mountains ; another large
portion of me was devoured by the mosquitoes; and the remaining small portion now stands before you." Pearman
burst into a loud laugh, saying, " Well, I have seen many
serious and sudden changes in my time, but I declare I never
beheld anything like this."
I put myself into the scales, and was found wanting nearly
three and a-half stones. I likewise had the curiosity to
measure the slack in my trousers waistband, which was a
comfortable fit twenty-five days before.
I could scarcely credit my own vision ; for it now had an
overlap to the incredible number of fifteen inches. Not a
particle of my belly remained; there was simply a cavity it
had previously occupied.
My corpulent form having pined away to a considerable
distance from my clothes, they were left dangling about me
strangely—my breeches backside hanging in broad deep plaits
down to the calves of my legs, which gave me a most comical
and laughable aspect. Indeed, many a one had a good giggle
at my expense ; but I consoled myself with the old saw, " A
man will live after being laughed at."
To those who are suffering from that disease called obesity, 74
instead of applying to Mr. Banting for a specific, allow me to
recommend a single trip to Cariboo, which, I venture to affirm,
wiM prove an effectual cure.
After answering his earnest inquiries respecting the rest of
our party, Mr. Pearman said, " I have been confidently expecting your return daily. So many disappointed men have
come down, and I have heard such fearful accounts of suffering from them, that I made myself certain none of you would
ever reach Cariboo. As for yourself, I fully expected you a
fortnight ago. Being so stout, I did not think you would be
able to climb many of the mountains; and as you did not put
in an appearance, I began to think seriously you had kicked
the bucket."
As it was Sunday, I had no intention of seeking an interview with the Archdeacon till the following morning; but
going out in the evening, I accidentally met with him, in
company with the clergyman of the place. The Archdeacon
immediately proposed going to the blacksmiths' shops to
apply for me work; and although they both used their influence to the uttermost, it was of no avail. So many men
had previously returned from the mines that every vacancy
was filled up ; besides,.my broken-down appearance undoubtedly told heavily against me. I suppose I was more likely to
become a fit subject for the grave-digger than a wielder of
the blacksmith's hammer.
I must here explain that the blacksmiths' business being
so pressing during the summer season, they are necessitated
to work on the Sundays.
The Archdeacon requested me to call upon him next morning
and he would give me a letter of introduction to an intimate
friend of his—the manager for the Hudson's Bay Company at
Victoria, and expressed great confidence that I would be successful.
As Mr. Pearman had to work all night at his baking business, and his shop being confined to such narrow limits, he
could not possibly afford me sleeping accommodation, not
even an area of six feet by two on the floor. He was exceedingly sorry, but there was no help for it; therefore, I was
under the necessity of seeking lodgings elsewhere.
Not being in circumstances to pay a dollar for a bed, I
went out about eleven o'clock with the intention of seeking
the dwelling of one of the blacksmiths to beg leave to sleep 75
in his smiths' shop, when passing along the street I observed
a respectable-looking man standing at the door of a public-
house, of whom I began to make inquiries ; but he soon interrupted me by saying, " My good fellow, don't think of
such a thing; come into my house and I will give you a
better place to sleep in than a blacksmith's shop." The tone
of his voice strongly indicated kindness of heart, and when
we approached the house lamp, I perceived that he had an
open, pleasing, and benevolent expression of countenance,
'It struck me forcibly that, if there was any truth in the
science of physiognomy, that man possessed a disposition
which did great credit to humanity. This proved to be the
landlord of the house—a Scotchman—Macdonald by name.
He showed me upstairs to a room that contained a number
of sleeping berths, one of which I occupied, and where I
enjoyed a most refreshing sleep. Next morning, when returning thanks to Mr. Macdonald for his kindness, he cast a
searching glance upon me, and said, " Judging from your
present appearance. I think a little of something to eat would
do you no harm." I was then shown into a room where I
partook of an excellent breakfast. The kind-hearted fellow
would not listen to any expressions of gratitude; and from
his blithe countenance, it was evident it gave him great
pleasure to relieve the wants of his fellow-creatures.
He had never seen me before, and in all human probability
would never see me again; therefore, he could not be actuated
by any selfish motive; it was pure benevolence that prompted
him to the action.
What a happy world this would be did every man possess
the humane feeling of Mr. Macdonald.
It is a law of our constitution to dislike those who cause
us pain, and to love and admire those who give us pleasure ;
therefore, to the end of my life will I remember Mr. Macdonald with feelings of gratitude and pleasure.
Whenever this pleasing incident occurs to my mind, ihe
suggestion is accompanied by a most ridiculous and absurd
notion: It is a wish that at some future time I may meet
with Mr. Macdonald tn great 'distress, simply to gain the
pleasure of relieving his wants.
The steamer, Governor Douglas, was to sail at eleven o'clock
for New Westminster ; and after another fruitless attempt to
obtain employment, I sought an interview with the Arch- 76
deacon, who immediately applied to the pilot of the steamer,
and gained me the_privilege of working my passage down.
Armed with the Archdeacon's letter of introduction, I parted
with friend Pearman, and started in excellent spirits. We
reached New Westminster about seven in the evening, and
the moment I stept on shore I met with an agreeable surprise. There was my old friend, James Marquis, looking
thin, it is true, but, nevertheless, tolerable in health. It was
a glorious meeting between us.
The morning we lost each other Marquis kept sauntering
along gathering huckle berries, never doubting but that I
would follow him. An hour passed away, and he began to
think me long in coming. He sat down to wait, and made
inquiries of all the travellers that passed, but could hear no
tidings of me. He waited several hours—became quite
alarmed, and eventually gave me up as lost. He was apprehensive that I had either fallen over the cliffs and was killed,
or been murdered by the Indians ; and thus he was kept in
painful suspense for some days, when he chanced to meet
with the man who left me working on the road, and who informed him of my Safety.
Marquis had run out of money, but met with an acquaintance, who lent him a few dollars; therefore, he took little
harm. The steamer, Enterprise, belonging to the Hudson's
Bay Company, was waiting to convey us to Victoria. Marquis remained at New Westminster a few days longer, but I
sailed that evening, and arrived at Victoria about two o'clock
next morning. I laid down against the post-office until there
was sufficient daylight to enable me to read the list of names
(hanging outside) of those persons for whom there was letters.
To my unspeakable delight, I found my name on the list; and
when the office opened at nine o'clock I received the letter,
which was from n y wife.
With trembling hands, and a palpitating heart, I opened it
and read that all were well at home, which removed a heavy
weight from my heart.
I may here explain that letters are not delivered at the
dwellings; personal application must be made at the post-
office. The letters are arranged alphabetically, and passed
through the window to the applicant.
On the arrival of each mail; quite a scene is presented in
front of the post-office.    From 20 to 200 persons may be seen 77
standing in the street, one behind another, forming a line
sometimes a hundred yards in length, each waiting anxiously
his turn; and it is no uncommon thing to have to stand from .
one to three hours before his turn arrives; and should it "
chance to be raining, the undertaking is anything but a plea-
sant one.    Nevertheless, if the rain damp his skin, it fails to
damp his ardour, for great is his anxiety to receive intelligence
from home.    While some are going others are coming, and
the crowd continues sometimes three or four days at a stretch.
It may seem incredible that so much time is occupied in distributing a few hundred letters ; but the plan adopted involves
a long and tedious process, as a great number of letters have
tO be examined for each applicant.    For example, Smith applies for a letter—there may be a hundred letters bearing
addresses beginning with the letter S, and the whole of those
hundred letters must be looked over to ascertain if there be
one or more letters for Smith—and thus it is with all the rest.
Thousands of people apply for letters, and perhaps there is
not one for more than one person in ten, yet the whole have
to be gone through in the way described.
Letters not applied for at the time are kept at the post-
office till called for, a list of the owners' names being posted
I sent a letter to my wife with the next mail* which was
lost in the ill-fated steamer, Golden Gate—destroyed by fire
on her passage from San Francisco to Panama, when 199 men,
women, and children met with the most horrible of deaths.
In consequence of this, my friends at home were kept in painful suspense some weeks longer than they would have been
had the letter reached its intended destination. I likewise
wrote to Little in California, and in due time received a reply
to the effect that he had been to the post-office every day for
' a fortnight, but hearing no tidings, he was afraid that something serious had happened to us. Having read such fearful
accounts of suffering in our direction, he had totally abandoned the idea of paying a visit to the Cariboo mines—built
himself a house and store in Grass Valley, and recommenced
his former business. He then sent to England for his wife
and family, who have since gone out to him. <
Before resuming the thread of my narrative, if I may be
allowed the digression, I will relate two or three incidents
connected with the burning of the Golden Gate. 78
An English gentleman, who had resided in California a
number of years, and realized a considerable fortune, was re
turning to England with his wife and family, and all the goh;
he possessed. This gentleman was one of the saved, but was
conveyed back to San Francisco bereft of wife, children, and
everything he possessed in the world.
Another gentleman divested himself of his clothing—placed
his money in his hat, which he tied round his neck, and swam
for the shore, reaching it in an exhausted condition. On recovering his breath, he looked up and beheld a female floundering in the waves near the shore. The sight inspired him
with giant strength—he sprang to his feet, tore the hat and
its contents from his neck, plunged into the foaming surge,
and rescued the poor woman from* a watery grave. The following incident is of thrilling interest—an act of humanity
and heroism, performed by one of the male passengers, which
entitles him to immortal praise, and which cannot be read
without feelings of deep emotion.
Being almost surrounded with the flames that were rushing
from the hold of the vessel, this man sprang from the side of
the ship and seized a spar, which he observed floating on the
surface of the water. Immediately afterwards, another poor
fellow, battleing with the watery element, came drifting in the
same direction, and likewise seized the spar just in time to
save himself. But the piece of timber not being sufficiently
large to sustain them both, began to sink. The eyes of the
two men met; they were comparative strangers to each other,
and no words were exchanged; but the brave-hearted fellow
who first owned the piece of wood, seeing that the second
comer could not possibly live without it, gave it up to him—
abandoned it altogether, and swam for the shore, but. lis
strength failed him, and he sank to rise no more. The man
to whom he gave up the spar was saved.
The next and last incident to which I will refer will be read
with feelings of a different nature.
After the fire had broken out, numbers of the passengers,
frantic with terror, threw their gold and valuables about in
all directions; indeed, the deck was literally covered with
gold dust and coin of every description. One of the ship s
crew, a " darkey"—a powerful fellow, and a good swimmer—
thinking it an excellent opportunity for enriching himself, collected an enormous quantity of gold, secured it about his per- 79
son, and struck out for the shore; but having miscalculated
the weight he was able to sustain, became exhausted with his
load, and the precious metal he had possessed himself of gave
him a speedy passage to the bottom of the sea ; therefore^ this
noble nigger died rich.
On the morning of our arrival in Victoria from British
Columbia I presented the Archdeacon's note of recommen-
dation to the manager for the Hudson's Bay Company, who,
without hesitation, gave me immediate employment in their
blacksmith's shop to finish spring-traps used for catching
Although the work was light, being weak and lame, I
worked in considerable pain; but in the course of a few
weeks nearly recovered my usual strength. I considered myself exceedingly fortunate in so easily gaining employment,
for hundreds of excellent mechanics were unable to get a
day's work, and were bordering on starvation. How they
managed to keep life in was^a mystery difficult to fathom.
James Marquis was fortunate enough to obtain a situation
under one Mr. Trutch, who had a government contract for
making one of the roads to Cariboo. Maarquis lived in the
house with his employer, and was pretty comfortable. His
duty was to work in the gardens, and attend upon the horses
and cows.
Passing along one of the streets on the first day of my
arrival from the upper country, I chanced to meet with a
former travelling companion—a Scotch Canadian—who sailed
with us from New York. This young man did not attempt
the diggings ; being a joiner, he soon found employment in
that line, and Eved quite alone in a wooden shanty. Feeling
lonely by himself he offered to share his little house with me,,
which offer I gladly accepted, for I knew him to be a kind-
hearted young man, and was certain we would get on well
enough together. Our rent was a dollar per week. The
dimensions of our cot measured 8 feet by 10. Two bunks, 6>
feet by 2, placed one above the other—shipboard fashion— 80
with a straw mattress to fit, were the places in which we
slept. In this diminutive place we performed all our domestic}
duties. Our household furniture consisted of a large clothes'
chest (which made an excellent seat), a small square table, a
portion of a broken looking-glass, and an arm chair minus a
leg. A small iron "stove, with two 6-inch diameter holes on
the top, upon which to place the pans, enabled us to cook our
victuals tolerably. My fellow-lodger put all his washing out,
which was expensive in Victoria; and as I was wishful txD act
on the principle of economy, I bought a wash-tub and did my
washing and mending at nights after I was done my day's
By using strict economy, I managed to live for 10s. 6d.
.a-week; whereas, had I lived at a boarding-house, it would
have cost 25s. per week, that being the lowest charge for
board and lodging alone.
This was a marvellously rough sort of life, and formed9a
strange contrast to what one had been accustomed to at home.
Coming in from work, hungry and tired—firewood to provide and prepare—the fire to make on—supper to cook—the
things to wash up—the floor to sweep—shirts, towels, stockings, &c, to wash and mend, and all the paraphernalia connected with housekeeping to attend to, there was not much
comfort belonging to it. Had I been brought to this state of
things direct from the comforts of home it would have been
perfectly intolerable; but the privations I had experienced
during the few previous weeks had prepared me for any sort
of an uncomfortable life, no matter how rough it might have
been; indeed, the hardest labour, and the most comfortless
home that can be imagined, would have been a life of luxury
compared to that we had experienced while passing over the
mountains of British Columbia.
I had by this time made a grand discovery. It was simply
this: " I had found out the real value of a good wife and home
How few of us can properly appreciate those blessings until
we are deprived of them.
Although a wooden shanty is not the most comfortable
place in the world to live in, yet the accommodation it affords
■is infinitely superior to that which numbers of poor fellows
had to put up with, their only home being a canvas tent
pitched in the woods in the outskirts of the city. The hunger 81
and distress that prevailed in Victoria was fearful to contemplate. Hundreds of men who had enjoyed a good position in
life at home had come out to British Columbia (some with a
considerable sum of money), to try their luck at the Cariboo
gold mines ; but disappointed, came down to Victoria reduced
to a state of absolute.want.
One party started for the diggings with several hundred
pounds in money, and a couple of mules laden with provisions.
A few months afterwards they returned to Victoria without a
cent in their pockets, or a shoe to their feet, and half dead
with hunger.
To give an idea of the absurd notions some men entertained
regarding gold digging, a party of six young gentlemen, attired in fashionable cloth coats, peg-top trousers, fancy waistcoats, and white kid gloves, made statements to the effect that
they would go up to Cariboo—secure a claim—work out a
few thousand pounds worth of gold—return to England in
the autumn to spend the winter with their friends—back again
to British Columbia in the spring to work their claim; and
after two years, return home about as rich, they thought, as
the Marquis of Westminster; and as a proof of their sincerity,
they actually took saddle bags with them to put the gold in.
By and by, those young gents told a different tale, when I
met with them in -Victoria in great distress.
I was made acquainted with several remarkable instances of
reversed fortune, some of which fell under my own observation.
A young man^—a waiter in one of the first-class club-houses
in London—having scraped together a little money, emigrated
to Vancouver's—took a public-house in Victoria, and was
doing well. One day a poor distressed, ragged, and hungry-
looking man entered the bar and begged for something to
eat, when, to the utter astonishment of the young publican,
he recognised in this poor man a gentleman who, twelve
months before, was a constant visitor at the club-house, in
which he (the young man) was waiter. When this recognition took place it was hard to tell which of the two men were
most surprised. It appears that formerly this
during his visits to the club-house had acted with
liberality towards this young man in the shape of gratuities,
in consideration of which the publican presented him with a
new suit of clothes, and gave him a situation under him as
aHflfei 82
A young man belonging London—a notary by profession—
left an income of £400 a-year, and went out to British
Columbia. He was unsuccessful, and returned to Victoria
penniless. He held letters of introduction from the Duke
of Newcastle to Governor Douglas, and to the manager
of the Hudson's Bay Company, and was set to work in the
blacksmiths' shop as a labourer, and occasionally into the
office to assist in book-keeping. He was an intelligent young
man and a c'ever penman. Although he had never before
seen the inside of a blacksmith's shop, he was wonderfully
quick in learning, and eventually became competent to screw
bolts, and do other work at the vice. This was a marvellous
Change for him; but, nevertheless, he submitted to it with
pretty good grace. His father, who was a respectable solicitor in London, sent him £50 to take him home; and the
day he received the money was certainly the most happy of
his life.
A foreman engineer, who had a salary of £200 a-year, with
a house and garden in Glasgow, gave up his situation—left
his wife and five children, and went to British Columbia.
While sleeping one night among strangers on the road to
Cariboo he was robbed of all his money, and had to find his
way back to Victoria as best he could. Meeting with some
of his former travelling companions, they took him with them
to the Stickeen River, a few hundred miles from Victoria, to
which place there was a great rush, caused by a gold excitement. It was a difficult and dangerous route—rapid-running
rivers were to navigate with canoes, where the Indians were
extremely hostile and treacherous. Several were drowned or
murdered, and this man was supposed to be among tho missing.
A foreman shipbuilder, belonging the neighbourhood of
Newcastle upon-Tyne, left his wife and family for the Cariboo
diggings; but failing in the undertaking, commenced packing
provisions on his back from the Forks of Quesnelle to the
mines a distance of 60 miles. He made two or three trips
under, a load of one hundred pounds' weight, by which means
he earned sufficient money to keep him during the season,
and bring him down to Victoria; but could not obtain em-
•ployment, and passed the whole winter in great distress.
t be filled with examples of this sort
of men who had given up situations of from one to five 83
hundred pounds a-year, and emigrated to British Columbia
confident of success. How terrible was their disappointment.
Although hundreds of good workmen could not meet with
a day's work, nevertheless a few of those, whose hands had
never before been soiled with that degrading: thing called
jp manual labour,' were taken pity of; but as they were incapable of performing skilled labour, the work given to them
was generally of the most menial description. Frequently I
have seen them employed carrying lumps of wood and sacks
of coal on their backs—working on the roads with hack an
shovel—splitting up firewood—cleaning out yards, pigsties,
and even places of a much more filthy description, and glad
they were of the opportunity.
This was a pretty state of things for those " aristocrats" (as
they were denominated), who had been in the habit of looking down with contempt upon the poor, honest, hard-working
man ; and although my heart ached when I beheld their fallen-
condition, I could not help thinking this would teach them a
lesson that would do them an immense deal of good. I often
thought if men would use the same amount of energy at home
in their respective callings that they are under the absolute
necessity of doing when thrown upon their own resources
abroad, few, indeed, need seek a home in a foreign land.
As I have previously stated, great distress prevailed in
Victoria; but the pangs of mental anguish which some of
the poor fellows suffered were much more terrible than those
which were the result of mere hunger. Giant despair laid
fast hold of them, and a few put an end to their sufferings by
suicide. A dead body was occasionally found in the woods
and in the water.
One morning we found a body floating in the bay by the
company's wharf, and its distressed appearance led us all to
the conclusion that it was a case of suicide. The body floated
about for several hours before the authorities gave themselves
the trouble to convey it away. Eventually, however, an inquest was held, and when the jury had sat an hour they
arrived at the wonderful conclusion, " that the man was found
drowned"—a fact we could have made them acquainted with
in less than half a minute had they applied to us at the blacksmith's shop. After remaining in the water all night it would
have been a marvellous thing, indeed, if he had been found
not drowned.
e2 84
A Scotchman settled the matter in another way. On his
arrival at Victoria he experienced a disappointment at the
appearance and prospect of things that gave him a remarkable liking for whisky; and judging from his manner, he
seemed bent on finishing the whole of his money by drinking
before he entered into any other speculation. However, if
such was his intention, he failed in the undertaking. Before
he quite finished his money he managed to finish himself, and
was found dead in his tent a short distance from the city.
The surprise to me was, that so few suicides took place,
for there were numbers sufficiently wretched to be driven to
that extremity; and it is my firm belief that not one of them
was an iota more miserable than I was myself; and I venture
to affirm that not one of them had less reason. Indeed, I had
not the shadow of a reason to be unhappy, for I had constant
work—was earning fifty shillings a-week, and saving four-
fifths of it; therefore, I had every prospect of having the
means to return home in the course of a few months—^a privilege that would have rendered hundreds out there perfectly
To speak the honest truth, I was downright home-sick, and
experienced such an ungovernable inclination to be at home
that I often thought I could not possibly exist another moment
longer without seeing my wife and children, and felt a strong
desire to rush into the sea. and swim across the ocean.
Such like notions convinced me that I was going crazy;
indeed, for some time previously I had experienced a strange
sensation in my head, which led me to think that my brain
was being turned.
All this took place within the first three months of my life
in Victoria. After that, I gradually recovered; but for the
first two months I meditated by day, and was kept awake at
nights with fretting till my health began to suffer seriously.
I applied to the doctor, who told me that my only complaint
was mental anxiety. " Have you no work, and can get
nothing to eat," he inquired, " that makes you fret so much ?"
" I have steady work, plenty to eat, and I am saving money
into the bargain," I replied. " Then, in the name of common
sense, what have you got to despond about ? Look around
and you will see hundreds of poor fellows walking the streets
in a starving condition. Were yon similarly situated, then
you might have reason to despair.   You are not right in your 85
head," he went on to say, " or you would express gratitude,
and be quite content." " I perfectly agree with all you say,
doctor," I answered; " and neither you nor any one else can
tell me better than I know the folly of such behaviour ; but
the simple fact of the matter is, I cannot help it." He gave
me a few words of encouragement, a bottle of physic to correct my stomach, and I left him.
That I could not avoid this despondency was fearfully true.
I endeavoured to reason myself out of it—a thousand times I
cursed my own folly, and my friend, James Marquis, paid me
frequent visits, and used every means in his power to rally
my spirits; but it was all of no avail. There was the monster
eternally knawing at my very heart's core, which threatened
to crush me physically and mentally.
At last, fear came to my aid, and did for me what reason
failed to do. I began to see that if I persisted in this fretting
business, instead of getting.home, I would find my way into
Victoria Cemetery.
But perhaps that was not altogether the cause of the favourable change that took place in my spirits. As time progressed, I became richer, and every pound I saved was
bringing me, I thought, nearer home ; and to scrape together
sufficient money for that purpose was my greatest ambition.
I, therefore, led the life of a miser, barely allowing myself
the commonest necessaries of life ; and that which cost the
least, I liked the best. But, strange to say, when I had accumulated sixty pounds, which was more than sufficient, I thought
less about home than I had ever done before, which seems to
argue that so far as intellectual enjoyment is concerned, we
enjoy the anticipation of a thing more than the realization
of it.
Days and weeks passed away, and every boat that arrived
from New Westminster brought crowds of disappointed Cari-
booites, but brought no tidings of our friends, the Marks,
which was a source of great anxiety to Marquis and me.
W e were harrassed daily with alternate hopes and fears-
hopes that they might be successful, and fears for their safety.
One night after I had been in Victoria'about seven weeks
my fellow-lodger and me were talking about them, as we were
in the habit of doing constantly, when who should walk into
our shanty but Edward and Robert Mark. My heart leapt
with joy when I beheld them, but was disappointed to learn
g3 86
that their father was still in British Columbia, more than 300
miles from Victoria. We now learnt the particulars of their
adventure from the day we parted with them. They said the
road we travelled over to Williams Lake was a beautiful
garden walk compared to the road they met with after We
eeparated. It was truly awful, not only with mountains, but
with mud likewise—a perfect slough of despond, the travellers f >rming excellent representatives of Bunyan's Christian,
for each carried a large bundle on his back. For miles together every step they took sank them to the knees in tenacious sludge, and it not unfrequently happened that when the
traveller had succeeded in extricating himself, he found that
one of his long top-boots was left behind, and considered it
fortunate that his leg was not left in it. In some cases he'
totally failed in recovering his boot, and lost sight of it for
ever, where it must remain for the antiquary of future generations to discover by what means the extraordinary deposit
had been made.
Besides all this, immense numbers of trees, which had been
blown down, lay thick across their path. Over them they
had to scramble the best way they could, frequently tumbling
topsy-turvy into a deep puddle-hole which lay on the other
side. While this was going on, they often expressed their
satisfaction at my absence, for they were certain I never would
have struggled through it. Perhaps it was fortunate for me
that I did return, because it is just possible I might have been
made a companion for the lost boots.
The young men related to me the following amusing, and
rather alarming, incident:—One night, while they were camping, Robert had occasion to leave the tent, which he did un- the others, who were fast asleep. When entering the tent on his return he accidentally placed his hand on
one of his father's feet, which instantly aroused him from his
slumber, and looking up, perceived something crawling into
the tent, which he believed was a bear. He raised his foot
and delivered a tremendous blow right in the face of poor
Bob, which sent him head over heels to the outside of the
tent; William at the same moment calling out in a most excited manner, " Ned, where's the revolver; here is a bear ;"
and seizing the deadly weapon, levelled it at his son. Robert,
just in time to prevent the accident, roared out at the highest
pitch of his voice—>" Hold on, father; it is only me."    " God 87
deliver us !" exclaimed William; if you had been a moment
longer in speaking you would have been a dead man."
On the fourth of July they reached the long-wished-for
Cariboo country ; but the account they gave of the place was
a tale of inconceivable misery.
They commenced operations in Antlers Creek, where they
prospected about a fortnight; but their strenuous efforts
proved abortive, and they, like the great majority, left the
place disheartened and disgusted, having suffered great hardships.
Mark, in his pamphlet, says—| Quite satisfied and sick of
the place, we packed up our trap-sticks and walked off on
the 20 th of July. The ground was white with hoar frost, and
the morning was cold as Christmas. I felt a glow of pleasure
when I got my back turned upon one of the most .disagreeable
and inhospitable places man ever lived in."
On their journey downwards William was taken ill, and
almost died on the road. Once they lost themselves in the
wood, and suffered greatly; altogether, they had. a wretched
time of it. At Pemberton Lake they met with an Englishman, with whom William commenced sawing wood, and he
remained some months making good wages. They could
have realized a considerable sum of money had they beon
able to find a market for their timber.
The two young men lived some weeks in Victoria before
they found employment, and in the meantime we managed to
stow them away in our little shanty, and they lived with us
about five weeks. At nights they rolled themselves in their
blankets and slept on the floor, that being the only sleeping
accommodation we had to give them.
From leaving San Francisco to the time they returned to
Victoria (four months), they never once had their clothes off.
Often did they wonder what would have been their mother's
feelings had she known the miserable life they were leading,
for at home they had every possible comfort. They were
both boiler-smiths by trade, and eventually Robert got an
occasional week's work at that business, and Edward obtained
constant employment in our blacksmith's shop. They then
rented a shanty and lived together.
In the early part of November, William Mark came down to
Victoria. I was most agreeably surprised with his appearance.    When we parted ou the 24th of June he was thin, OB
pale, and careworn : now he was looking healthy and cheerful. He remained with us about a fortnight, and then sailed
for San Francisco ; and as Robert had little work in Victoria,
he accompanied his father to San Francisco, and found employment in a boiler-builder's shop, where he continued for
some length of time. William sailed for Old England, and
reached home in safety on the 4th of February.
How strangely different things turn out to what we antici-
The day after that on which the Prince of Wales attained his majority was kept a universal holiday, and great
rejoicing took place in Victoria. His birth-day falling on the
Sunday, the event was commemorated on the following day,
A procession was formed, headed by a brass band, which had
sprung into existence a short time before. The Governor
gave a magnificent ball in the evening at one of the principal
hotels. Horse-racing and other amusements was had recourse
to. Altogether, it was a tidy affair; and those of Her Majesty's subjects who had the means enjoyed themselves
A circumstance occurred, however, which rather marred
the pleasure of the day. Some mischievous scamp, who possessed more money than prudence, gave a man of colour 40
dollars to allow him to fly a Confederate flag on the top of
his house. This gave great offence to many of the American
tradespeople. An urgent appeal was made to the Governor;
but his reply was, " that although he deeply regretted the
outrage had been committed, he had no power whatever to
interfere in the matter;" consequently, many of them refused
to take part in the procession.
I lived with my Canadian friend about four months, and
then went with three of my fellow-workmen into an old dilapidated wooden house belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, who allowed us to live in it rent free. My three friends
were the notary, before alluded to; a blacksmith from London,
and a coppersmith from Liverpool. They were all disappointed Caribooites, and jolly, agreeable companions all of
This old house of ours stood in the outskirts of the town
about 150 yards from the Governor's dwelling, in a rather
lonely situation some 30 yards off the main road. It was
built upon a rock, and consequently we gave it the name of 89
" Rock Villa." It consisted of two apartments, on the ground
floor, each measuring 18 feet square ; therefore, we were not
in the least degree inconvenienced for want of space. One of
those rooms was totally uninhabitable ; indeed, it was in such
a dilapidated condition that it was quite unmendable. We,
therefore, made a lumber room of it; in fact, it answered the
purpose of kitchen, pantry, wash-house, and bath-room. The
other room was in tolerable repair, and with a little cobbling
we managed to make it pretty comfortable. The roof, however, did not appear over flattering, but as yet there had been
no rain to test its real condition. The fireplace and chimney
were built of brick, but of a much more recent date than the
building, and presented quite a substantial appearance. The
fireplace was a very wide one, but had no grate in it. We
built the fire in it on the ground, and our pans when cooking
were suspended over the fire by sundry pieces of crooked iron,
which dangled from inside the chimney. Furniture we had
none, except a very small table, barely sufficient for the accommodation of my three friends, who messed together. I
never went in Co. with any one in the eating line, always
preferring to have only myself to consult about what was best
to eat. We each made ourselves a bunk to sleep upon,- which
were placed one in each corner of the room. At the end of
my bunk I erected a fixture table made of rough deal, which,
when it required cleaning, I swept with the broom, or scraped
with a knife. As it regards our sitting accommodation, one
of my friends used bis clothes chest as a seat, and the other
two a plank of wood, resting on a couple of old bottomless
nail casks. I made a sort of square stool out of huge lumps
of wood for my own use, which answered my purpose admirably. This stool possessed one very excellent quality : it was
not possible to upset it with anything like fairplay, for, to
speak within bounds, it could not weigh an ounce less than
half a hundred-weight. This was certainly a splendid specimen of joinering skill, and would have made an excellent
foundation for the Pcet Cowper to build his Sofa upon.
When my three friends thought proper to'pass an evening
in our own house (which was seldom), we generally contrived
to make a concert. Our friend, the notary, was an excellent
singer, and the rest of us possessed sufficient musical talent to
enable us to chime in not inharmoniously.
We each had acquaintances in Victoria, who occasionally
^<*>. paid us a visit, some of whom were remarkablv intelligent,
and then we spent the evening both agreeably and profitably.
The society of our friend, the blacksmith, was courted by
all who knew him; he was generous-hearted, and a natural
wit. The notary, who had a large development of the organ
of imitation, frequently amused us with displays of mimicry;
and thus in the midst of this strange life we sometimes contrived to enjoy ourselves.
We did no evil, and we feared none from any one, and
when we turned into our bunks at night did not even take
the trouble to bolt the door ; therefore, any one who thought
proper to pay us a midnight visit would meet with no resistance The fact is, we had very little for any one to steal;
therefore, we were under no apprehension of being robbed.
As I said before, my fellow-lodgers seldom spent the evening
in our own house, but frequented the billiard-rooms ; therefore, I was left entirely alone, except when I received an
occasional visit from James Marquis.
I retired to rest when it suited me, and left the door unlocked for my three friends to enter when they thought proper,
which was often among " the wee short hours ayont the twal."
Things went on in this way till a circumstance occurred,
which made us very particular about having the door locked
in future. It was nothing less than a little adventure with a
burglar. One Saturday night the blacksmith and coppersmith had gone out, but the notary being unwell, remained
in the house with me. We retired about ten o'clock, leaving
the door unfastened as usual. About two o'clock next morning as our two friends were entering the house, a great burly
fellow rushed out of it, and took to his heels. It was moonlight, and they gave immediate chose, but the legs of the
burglar soon carried his body out of harm's way. We were
aroused from a sound sleep with the tumult, and cries of
" police" and " stop thief," but could not divine the cause of
the alarm, until our friends, who soon returned in an excited
state, informed us that a man had been in the house, and inquired if we had been robbed of anything. We procured a
light, but nothing was missing, although the coat, trousers,
and waistcoat belonging to my other fellow-lodger were
bundled together and placed behind the door ready for removal The midnight-prowler had been disturbed* in the
middle of his work, and his designs frustrated.    Strange to 91
say, I never had more than two or three pounds in my possession at one time till that night, and I had twenty-seven
pounds in my pocket. I had allowed a portion of my wages
to remain in the hands of the company till it amounted to
130 dollars, which I had drawn that day with the intention
of placing in the bank; but being too late, I found it closed,
and was obliged to keep the money in my pocket till the
The fact of me having this amount by me was unknown to
any one, and when I went to bed, took the precaution to place
my trousers containing the money under my head.
However, our distinguished visitor did not do me the honour
of a visit to my side of the house. What he might have done
had he known that I possessed this money, I know not. Victoria was swarming with cut-throat fellows, who were starving,
and who were capable of committing the blackest of crimes.
Ever afterwards during the absence of my friends, after
carefully locking the door, and making all secure, I sat reading and smoking, with a very formidable weapon, in the shape
of a dagger, at my elbow. However, we were never molested
afterwards in any form, and things went on as before.
Nothing now appeared to disturb our tranquillity, except a
few dozens of intruders in the shape of rats and mice that
were in the habit of amusing themselves at nights with running races- over us. By and by, however, I found them
amusement of a different description. I constructed for their
special use a very peculiar and interesting-looking instrument,
which seemed to take their attention wonderfully. It was an
old-fashioned trap, known by the name of Samson's Post.
Depend upon it, Samson gave them a mauling, and soon
thinned their ranks, till there was scarcely one left to tell
the tale.
Those gentry disposed of, peace and harmony reigned
triumphantly throughout our dwelling, until the rainy season
set in, and then torrents of water rained triumphantly through
it. The roof of our house, which we had before suspected of
being no better than it should be, turned out much worse than
we had anticipated, for it offered very little resistance to the
heavy showers that were continually descending. We endeavoured to divert its course into other channels by sticking
sundry pieces of zink into the roof in all directions, but it persisted in being through in spite of us, and although we were 92
sitting rent free, we found we had got a bad bargain, and
regularly dropped upon. Frequently, while sitting eating our
supper, we did not merely get dropped upon, but the water
came down upon us in continuous streams— running down
the back of our necks—pattering into our plates, and making
a fearful mess of our bit humble meal, which was extremely
annoying; indeed, the patience of Job never could have withstood it.
But this was not the worst part of the affair. It so happened that that portion of the roof directly over my bunk was
by far the most leaky part of it; and it was no uncommon
occurrence to wake up in the middle of the night, and find
myself completely drenched; and was obliged to get up—•
make the fire on, and sit over it till my wearing apparel and
blankets were dried.
This was too much for human nature. It would have exhausted the patience of half-a-dozen Jobs ; and I saw clearly
that I would be obliged to flee for shelter, and, sure enough,
I was eventually compelled to take up my bed and walk.
Notwithstanding those drawbacks, there was a touch of the
Robinson Crusoe romance in this real life, which one could
sometimes enjoy exceedingly.
I next took up my abode with Robert Walker, a blacksmith, belonging Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was one of the
most honest and warm-hearted fellows in the world, and we
lived comfortably together during the remainder of my stay
in the colony.
When I first arrived in Victoria from British Columbia I
learnt, from newspaper report, that hundreds of men, furious
with disappointment, were anxiously inquiring for the whereabouts of Mr. Donald Fraser, the Victoria correspondent of
the London Times, whose misrepresentations had lured them
from their homes; and it was intimated that should those
men happen to meet with that worthy, they would lynch him
to a certainty. They considered themselves sold, and were
determined to wreak their vengeance on the author of their
misfortunes. But the bird had already flown. Mr. Fraser having got an
inkling of the true state of things, thought it prudent to make
himself scarce in Victoria, and transplanted himself to the
more genial soil of California, where he could vegitate in the
sunshine of his own agreeable reflections without let or hinder-
ance. I had not the pleasure of seeing Mr. Fraser; he was
absent during the whole of my stay in Victoria.
It is quite certain that these flattering articles of his, which
appeared in the Times from time to time, in the years 1861
and 1862, and which set all the world in an uproar, contained
a great amount of truth ; but the misfortune was, they did
not contain all the truth—any unfavourable statement was
carefully avoided. Mr. Fraser told us that in Cariboo there
was a fabulous quantity of gold, which I believe to be in a
great measure true; but, at the same time, he quite forgot
to tell us that, in the great majority of cases, every twenty
shillings worth of gold cost thirty shillings getting. He told
us that the voyage from England to Vancouver Island cost
only forty pounds; but he entirely neglected to inform us
that it would require five times that amount to take a man
from Victoria to the diggings, and give him a chance of success when he reached that distant locality
with those of British Columbia, made a statement to the
effect that the great drawback at the Australian diggings was
a scarcity of water with which to wash the gold, whereas in
British Columbia there was an abundant supply of that requisite, which gave the Cariboo miners an immense advantage
over those of Australia. All this was in accordance with the
truth; but he quite over-looked the important fact that in
Cariboo there was twenty times too much water, which of all
other drawbacks was the greatest.
Mr. Fraser not only left unsaid those things which he
ought to have said, but said those things which he ought not
to have said. He told us that the gold in Cariboo was found
at a depth of from one to six feet, and the diggings quite
dry. That statement was simply false from beginning to end.
Some were as much as 80 feet in depth ; but, generally speaking, the gold was found from 10 to 30 feet below the surface,,
and the shallowest diggings I heard of were 10 feet deep, and
not one of them dry.
He stated that Indians were collecting gold at the rate of
Fraser, when contrasting the Australian gold fields
jr*. one ounce per diem each man. Although I made frequent
inquiries, I never could hear of an Indian seeking gold at
at any time, or under any circumstances. I will never forget
how frequently we were laughed at by the Indians, during
our backward journey, for being such fools as to walk that-
immense distance, and expose ourselves to those great hardships for the sake of gold. I have reason to believe that at
the time Mr. Fraser wrote, the Indians in that remote part of
British Columbia had no knowledge of the value of gold.
An intimate acquaintance of mine in Victoria related to me
the following incident:—" I. with a party of twenty," said
he, " were travelling the Bentick Arm route to Cariboo.
One day, when very much fatigued with our journey, we
chanced to meet with a party of Indians, whom we endeavoured to persuade to render us some assistance. We showed
to them some half dollar pieces, which we promised to give
them if they would carry our .packs for us a certain distance.
The appearance of the coins (which the Indians evidently
thought were very pretty things), had the desired effect, and
they consented. When we reached the prescribed destination we offered them the money, but they refused it; at the
same time pointing with their fingers at the buttons on our
coats, signifying, that if we had no objections, they would
take the buttons in preference to the dollars. We immediately cut some off our coats and shirts and gave to them,
with which they appeared delighted, and went away perfectly
satisfied; and so did ice, for the transaction suited us exactly."
If I mistake not, Mr. Fraser insinuated that he had been to
the Cariboo mines, and wrote from actual experience and
personal observation. I made inquiries of at least twenty
diffeient individuals as to the truth of that statement, and
the replies, without exception, were, " that he never was at
Cariboo." I was told by a respectable tradesmen at Lillooet
that Fraser was never higher up the country than that place,
which is at least 250 miles below Cariboo. It was whispered
in Victoria that Mr. Fraser had certain motives, and some of
them sinister ones, for thus deceiving the public—which
motives the reader will be made acquainted with presently.
He is remarkably clever, and possesses a wonderful talent
for putting false constructions on things, and twisting them
into a shape suitable to his own interest and convenience.
One of my fellow-passengers of the homeward voyage had JU
been in Vancouver Island and British Columbia some four-
years, and had been to the Cariboo diggings two-successive
seasons. From him I learnt many particulars respecting Mr.
Fraser and the gold mines. This gentleman, who was well
acquainted with Fraser, had dined with him on several occasions, and had been engaged to make reports to him respecting the mines; and although his statements were written
impartially, he declared to me that after his reports had
passed through the hands of Fraser he could scarcely recognise them, so seriously had they been tampered with, and
made to bear a different construction to what had been intended.
Independent of the unenviable notoriety which he gained
by his unfair interference with the gold mines, Mr. Fraser
bore but a very indifferent character among the Victorians.
He was represented as being unprincipled, designing, and
selfish in the extreme—one who was capable of doing any
mean action for the sake of gain. He was designated a
clever villain, and had been more than once hissed in the
streets of Victoria. Whether he had merited such a wholesale denunciation I am not prepared to say.
With respect to Mr. Fraser's motives for misrepresenting
the gold mines, it was said he owned immense quantities of
land in and around Victoria, and thought to enhance the
value of his property by luring people away to Vancouver
Island. But did he not out-wit himself in this matter ?
Would it not have answered even his purpose better to have
spoken the honest truth—to have let the world know that in
Cariboo there was an abundance of gold, but men with money
were indispensable to ivork it?
This might have induced capitalists to go out and take with
them labouring men—then employers and employed might
all have done well. Instead of this, thousands of men were
induced to go out who had means barely sufficient to land
them in the country, and were consequently totally unable to
effect anything, and left to starve. Victoria gossip had it
that Mr. Fraser had another very powerful motive, and that
was to please the Governor. It might be inferred from this
that the Governor was implicated in the matter, but such was
not the case. The Governor is an honest man, and would
scorn the action ; but of course he is anxious to witness the
prosperity of the country, and would gladly listen to anything
~ 96
favourable to it. Mr. Fraser thought by this means to gain
favour with the Governor, and he had a motive in gaining
that favour.
He had taken a fancy to one of the Governor's daughters,
or to some of the Governor's money, and expressed a wish to
marry the girl. Possessing riches and' an oily tongue, he
contrived to wheedle the Governor out of his consent.
Fraser offered the young lady his hand (his heart being
out of the question), but the offer was indignantly rejected;
and she told her father she would decidedly prefer being laid
in Victoria Cemetery to being made the wife of old Fraser ;
and so ended the matter.'
I cannot vouch for the truth of this : it was the gossip of
the place, and must be taken for what it is worth.
Great injustice has been done to the gold fields of British
Columbia on both sides of the question. Interested parties
exaggerated in their favour, while disappointed, ruined men
exaggerated in the opposite direction. It was difficult to
arrive at the truth even from parties who had been to the
diggings, because those who were successful praised them to
an undue extent, while the disappointed ones denounced them
as a complete failure.
Land-owners, steamboat-proprietors, packers, storekeepers,
publicans, bread-bakers, &c, &c, constantly had their wits
at work to keep up the gold excitement, for so long as thousands of men rushed to the mines, they continued to pocket
thousands of dollars; indeed, those were the men who generally got hold of the money, and not the gold miners. It is
no uncommon thing for men to be supplied with quantities of
gold dust by interested parties, and engaged to exhibit it to
travellers on'the road.
Those men represent themselves to be owners of rich
claims—are extremely lavish in their praises of the mines—•
exhibiting, at the same time, large quantities of dust and
nuggets to the wondering eyes of the weary disheartened
traveller, who becomes fascinated with the sight of the
precious metal, and starts off again with renewed vigour for
the golden El Dorado.
About three miles above Lillooet, when on my return
journey, I was overtaken by two Canadians, who had been
up nearly to the mines, but returned quite disheartened.
When we reached Lillooet, we chanced to meet with a man 97
who had in his possession two large leather bags, well filled
with dust, besides several beautiful nuggets, one of which
weighed half-a-pound. This glittering exhibition had evidently affected the brain of one of those Canadians, for he
actually shouldered his pack and started back again over aM
those hundreds of miles to Cariboo.
The stratagems employed to deceive the public are wonderful. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold dust is
taken up to British Columbia from Victoria in steamboats
secretly, and brought down publicly. Next morning a flaming account appears in the papers of so many thousand
dollars in dust coming from the mines; and away goes the
story over all the world; whereas, the fact is, perhaps, not
one half of it has come direct from Cariboo, and sometimes
none of it.
An engineer in one of the river steamboats, with whom I
was well acquainted, let me into this secret. He had been
eye-witness to as much as fifty thousand dollars, worth going
up at one time.
A great amount of business is done in Cariboo in the buying
and selling of claims, and some of those transactions are mixed
up with a fearful amount of swindling.
For example, a party owns a claim; but finding it is not a
paying concern, consider it their business to get rid of it as
speedily and at as high a price as possible; and as a gold
claim, like every other thing, sells according to its supposed
worth, they consider themselves justifiable in giving it a fictitious value, and try to catch a flat. In order to accomplish
that object, they have recourse to the following artifice :—
They take all the gold their claim has produced for perhaps
several weeks, and to swell out their pile, borrow dust of their
friends if they can. This large quantity of gold is placed in
the sluice boxes every day, and is taken out every night in
the presence- of spectators, who are always on the alert to
witness the gold panned out of rich claims, and who have the
impression that it is the produce of one days work. By this
means their claim acquires a rich character—speculators come
up and purchase it for a large amount, thinking they have
nade a splendid bargain. But by and by, after they have
jegun to work it, they find to their sorrow that they themselves have been sold, as well as the claim, and are mined
.ten.    An old trick, practised in Australia and California,
H 98
was revived at the Cariboo  diggings.    Gold dust is fired
from a musket into the claim in all directions.
The intended purchaser, in order to satisfy himself that it
is a genuine affair, washes several pans of dirt, and finds that
every panful contains a quantity of the precious metal. A
bargain is struck, and the new owner commences operations,.
but soon finds that his claim is played-out, and he is taken in.
and done for.
But a gold commissioner is appointed to inspect the mines
personally, and report the real state of things to the Government.
All the world would suppose that through this official the
truth would be arrived at. Nothing of the kind ; we shall see
how the screw is worked with the gold commissioner.
During his stay at the diggings he, of course, lodges at one
of the boarding-houses, which is a regular store and grog-shop
combined.   As a matter of course, the storekeeper is intensely-
interested in keeping up the gold excitement.    The commis-
sioner, thinking him a likely person to give him correct information, makes numberless inquiries ^ and there is no mistake
about him getting stuffed to his heart's content.    The storekeeper owns a share in a claim, and has four or five partners
working it; they are all tarred with the same brush, and it is
decidedly their intention to deceive the gold commissioner.
Having buried several distinct heaps of gold in the claim about
twelve inches below the surface, the trap is set, and they are
quite prepared to receive the Government official.    When that
important personage arrives, the following conversation takes
place:—" Well, my boys, what are you doing 2"    " Taking
out 300 ounces per day, sir," is the reply.    " Bully for you,"
is the officiaFs rejoinder;  " but," continues he, " are you
quite sure you are doing that amount f"    " You bet we are,"
chime in one and all.    " But," says he, " I must prove this
beyond the possibility of a doubt—I must dig and wash it.
with my own hands."    " You are quite welcome, sir," is the
reply.     "Well, where must I begin?"     "Amywhere  you
like, sir, cannot go wrong—that corner, good as any place"
(directing his attention to a place where  a heap is concealed.)    Off goes the commissioner's coat—in goes the spade
—out comes the gold, which is quite satisfactory—away goes
the report to the   Government,  from the  Government to
the newspapers, from the newspapers to the whole world, and 99
that is an official account which no one at home dreams of
It may be supposed that the commissioner will sometimes
detect the trick, and so he does, but what of that? This
government-appointed has not the least objection to have
dust thrown in his eyes, providing it be gold dust, and so is
the business squared.
Some men are interested in keeping the quantity they are
taking out a secret, and are doing more than they will confess
to. ♦
It is quite true that there is a great amount of gold in
Cariboo; but, as the reader will now perceive, not so much
as has been represented.
Gold-mining in any part of the world is a precarious business, but especially so in British Columbia. The gold is more
" spotted," as it is termed—that is, it is found in places ; and
when a person is fortunate enough to strike the lead he gene,
rally finds something considerable ; but striking it is the difficulty. The lead, I was told, is a narrow streak of gold some
six or seven inches in width, and takes a very irregular course.
Sometimes it will be found in a straight line for a short distance, and then suddenly turn off at right angles. Sometimes
it assumes the form of a zig-zag, then a half circle; in other
places it is found to wind about in a serpentine form ; indeed,
the deposit does not seem to have been made according to
any fixed rule, but as chance or some unknown law has
The lead in some places contains an immense quantity of
gold, in .others a mere sprinkling. Sometimes it breaks off
suddenly—is completely lost, and is to be found nobody knows
where. Sometimes it will merely touch the corner of one
claim—go direct through another, and then again break off
close by one side of the next claim, and strike in again on the
opposite side, missing that one altogether. One party may
be taking out largely, while the claim adjoining contains no
gold whatever. Fifty parties may dig fifty holes each, and
not find gold in paying quantities ; while another party will
drop upon a rich place the first attempt—therefore, gold-
hunting is a perfect lottery. The lead may be designated the
nucleus of the gold deposit, the dust being found more or less
on all sides of it. The coarse gold is found on the bed rock,
which is often very uneven in its surface.    Sometimes the
h2 100
rock is found to rise within twelve feet of the surface of the
earth, then to dip down to a considerable depth, and then rise
again, resembling the waves of the sea. Where the bed rock
is flat and smooth gold is seldom or never found, but where
it is ragged and uneven there the precious metal is found
lodged in the cracks and crevices. In some places the ground
above the bed rock contains a considerable quantity of fine
gold : this is called " pay dirt," which signifies that it will
pay to wash it over.
The ground allowed for each claim is one hundred feet
square, containing an area of ten thousand square feet. No
one is allowed to hold more than one claim at one time. The
claim-owner acquires his right to dig from the miners' certificate, supplied by the gold commissioner. Its cost is twenty
shillings, and is available for twelve months. Those who are
working for hire do not require a certificate. All claim-
owners ought to procure a certificate. Some, however, neglect
to use that precaution, whichjs foolish and dangerous, for then
they have no protection. For instance, if an owner go on
digging without a certificate, any person who holds one can
turn him out of his claim, and take possession of it, and he
has no redress, except physical force.
Should he happen to strike it rich, ten to one but an attempt
is made to eject him; then the matter becomes serious, and
often ends in bloodshed, for he will sooner die on the spot
than give up his rich claim; and as there are five or six men
on each side, perhaps more than one life is sacrificed in the
There is a magistrate at the diggings every season to settle
disputes, but under those circumstances the revolver and not
the magistrate is consulted, and that settles the business
between them. There is a law in existence amongst the
miners to compel every one who owns a claim to commence
working at the beginning of the season not later than a certain
day which is specified. Should he neglect to take possession
at the appointed time, he forfeits his claim, and it can be
" j imped"—that is, any other person is at liberty to take
possession of it.
The opening out and working of gold claims is attended
with a serious amount of labour and expense. Generally
speaking, the gold is found in the ravines between the mountains, and down those  ravines  frequently pour torrents of
E^Ega 101
water. Large flumes have to be constructed to divert the
water from its usual course, then in many cases deep shafts
have to be sunk to reach the bed rock—a water wheel to construct, which is placed in the flume, and pumps to fix to keep
the shaft clear of water. Those, however, who have not the
means to erect a water wheel must work the pumps by hand.
A windlass is to fix for drawing up the dirt—sluice boxes to
make for the washing process, and who knows what to do
besides. All this is done at an expense of several hundred
pounds, and then perhaps the claim does not contain half
sufficient gold to pay expenses, and they find themselves
ruined men. There is nothing on the surface to indicate the
whereabouts of the gold below; therefore, it is all chance
work. Sometimes a party of men will have completed the
apparatus described, and gol it into good working condition ;
when some night, while they are all fast asleep, a heavy fall
of rain will take place, and down comes a pei feet sea of water,
which carries away in a moment the whole of their machinery ;
and next morning, when the poor fellows look out, they find
not a vestige of their handy-work left behind.
Those are a few of the obstacles which stand in the way of
the gold miners' progress.
The surface or open diggings are those which are carried
bodily down to the bed rock ; and enormcus quantities of earth
have frequently to be removed before the gold is reached.
A party of five or six are fortunate, indeed, if they complete their preliminary work the first season, and get on with
collecting gold the second one
There are different descriptions of gold-washing apparatus,
but the sluice is by far the best adapted for the purpose, where
there is an abundant supply of water. It is simple ir. its construction, and effectual in its operation. It consists of a series
of wooden troughs, eight inches in width, and the same in
depth, placed end to end, one resting upon another, till they
reach at least a hundred feet in length ; and placed to form
an incline to allow the water to pass freely along them.
Several pieces of wood about an inch in height are fixed in
the troughs at intervals, which are termed " riffles," to catch
the gold The dirt is thrown into the sluice boxes, and all is
carried away by the water, except the gold, which is left in
the riffles. The prospecting pan is a broad shallow dish, made
of galvanized iron or zinc.    The prospector places a shovelful
h3 102
of dirt in the pan, and mixes it thoroughly with water. He
then imparts to it a peculiar motion, not unlike that given to a
sieve when sifting corn, which causes the gold to fall to the
bottom. During this shaking process, he continues, at short
intervals, to dip the edge of the pan into the water, taking in
a fresh supply; and each time he gently tilts up one side of
the pan to allow the water to run out again, which carries
with it at each operation a portion of the dirt, till eventually
nothing remains but the pure gold.
By this means the prospector is qualified to judge from
the quantity whether or not the ground he is prospecting will
pay working.
There are a few claims in Cariboo which yield enormous
quantities of gold. Three men, named respectively Steel,
Abbot, and Cunningham, each owned a claim, which yielded
from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds worth of gold daily.
It is said that British Columbia is as rich as was California
in its palmiest days. But the misfortune is, the great expenses
in Cariboo swallow up the takings till, in the majority of
cases, the gold is rendered valueless. Numbers of claims,
yielding forty shillings a-day to each man, were abandoned,
that amount not being sufficient to pay expenses. One party
of men owned a claim which produced one thousand pounds
worth of gold weekly, but it did not pay. The Press, one of
the Victoria dailies, once said—" There is, we believe, an
abundance of gold in Cariboo, but how to get it is a problem
thousands are trying to solve."
Some years ago, a London gentleman, hearing that the
coalowners in the North of England realized large fortunes,
thought he would speculate in the coal trade. He accordingly purchased a colliery, which employed some 300 men.
Finding, in a short time, however, that it was not a paying
concern—and hundreds of pounds disappearing in the shape
of wages—he gave it up in despair, saying, " he .believed his
colliery would have paid very well had it not been for the
confounded pitmen who ran away with all the profit.
Those confounded expenses in Cariboo runs away with all
the profit. In the summer of 1862 the price of flour ranged
from 48. 2d. to 68. 3d. per lb. Beans and bacon about the
same. In the provision line flour, beans, and bacon are
the staple commodities. Tea and coffee from 12s. 6d. to 16s.
8d.; sugar from 4s. 2d. to 5s. 3d. per lb.   Beef, 2s. per lb. 103
"(the oxen are driven up and slaughtered on the spot.) A
small box of lucifer matches, 2s. Id.; candles, Is. each; salt
seldom to be got at any price ; a glass of spirits, 2s. Id.; and
nails were worth twenty-five shillings per lb., and frequently
not to be had even at .that price.
A man walked 35 miles (up to the knees in mud at every
step), to obtain a few nails which had been left in some old
sluice boxes. The supply of provisions frequently ran short,
which caused great inconvenience, and sometimes actual suffering ; and more than once, according to the newspaper accounts, numbers were compelled to rush from the place to
avoid death by starvation. One man told me he walked four
successive days from one place to another in Cariboo in search
'of flour, but could not get an ounce.
The wages .paid to experienced miners were forty shillings
a-day, but that was little more than sufficient to find a man
with provision. Hundreds offered to work for their board,
but could not get the privilege. One party of men actually
offered to work for their victuals, and give a dollai a-day each
man into the bargain, but their offer was refused.
Their object was to husband their money till the water subsided sufficiently to allow them to prospect.
In the spring of 1862 several hundreds of men made a most
fatal mistake in rushing to the mines too early in the season—
before the snow was off the ground, and before provision had
been got to the place. The consequence was, the little supply they carried on their backs was exhausted in a few days,
and they were compelled to beat a precipitate retreat, several
dying of absolute hunger and exposure. One of the survivors
told me that when they reached Cariboo there were seven feet
of level snow on the ground; at nights they spread their
blankets and slept on the snow. The heat of the body having
thawed it, the next morning they found themselves settled
down to the ground. One great drawback to the gold mines
of British Columbia is the shortness of the' season: not more
than three working months can be calculated upon, the snow
lying on the ground seven or eight months in the year to the
depth of 12 or 15 feet. It may appear strange, but is nevertheless true, that a few men pass the winter at Cariboo. But
to winter in Cariboo is a fearful undertaking. Incarcerated
in a log hut, living on beans and bacon for eight successive
months, they suffer greatly from scurvy; besides, the cold is 104
unbearable. I was in company with a man in Victoria, who
had passed the previous winter in Cariboo. He told me that
all the gold in the place would not tempt him to do it a second
time. Although he kept on a large wood fire all night long,
and slept under a perfect mountain of wool consisting of five-
pairs of thick blankets, it was with the greatest difficulty
imaginable he could keep up the heat of the system, so fearfully intense was the cold.
In the month of October Cariboo is generally buried deep
in snow ; and during that month, in the year 1862, the mule
trains, it was said, were caught by the snow, and a great
number of men with seventeen hundred pack animals perished
in the storm.
Not a few pages might be occupied with narratives of the
hardships and sufferings of the Cariboo adventurer. Even
the successful are exposed to greater danger in some respects
than are the unsuccessful. The lucky gold-digger is watched
and dodged continually by the prowling cut-throat villain who
always follows in the wake for the purpose of plunder—ever
on the alert to pounce upon his prey at the first opportunity.
During my stay in the country several horrible murders and
robberies were perpetrated at the Cariboo gold mines.
In the year 1862 a prize essay was .published on Vancouver
Island—its resources and capabilities as a colony—by Charles
Forbes, Esq., M.D., M.R.C.S. Eng. Surgeon, Royal Navy.
To this author I am indebted for many valuable facts connected with the colony—contained in the following chapter,
and given in his own words.
" Vancouver Island is separated from British Columbia on
the east by the Gulf of Georgia, and from the territory of the
United States on the south by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. By
these two narrow channels its insulation is complete.
*' The island is of an elongated oblong form, extending 300
miles from north-west to south-east, andhasan average breadth
of 50 miles, with an area of 15,000 square miles. The Rev.
Thomas Milner, in his Gallery of Geography, says—" It possesses no navigable rivers, but is penetrated deeply by seveial 105
arms of the sea, which form excellent harbours. The surface
is finely timbered; the valleys have fertile soil;. and the
natural resources are varied and valuable."
" Captain Cook passed along the west coast under the impression that it belonged to the main-land. He entered the
bay, which received from him the name of ' Nootka Sound,'
from an Indian village at the spot.
" Captain Vancouver, who had been one of his midshipmen,
first threaded the separating channels; and the island is, therefore, properly called after him.
" ' The early history of this important region,' says Charles
Forbes, Esq., ' can be nowhere better studied than in the
voyages of Cook and Vancouver.' i&iM
" Brought into special notice about 83 years ago, Vancouver
Island was the cause of a dispute, a political rupture, and
very nearly of a wax between Great Britain and Spain.
"■ In 1788, certain individuals, subjects of Great Britain,
agents of a mercantile house in Canton, purchased from the
natives the land about Friendly Cove, in Nootka Sound, the
latter, at the same time, according to their customs, conferring
sovereignty on Mr. Meares, the purchaser, by doing homage
to him.
" Dwelling-houses, warehouses, &c, were erected, and on
the English leaving for a season, these were left in charge of
the Chief Maquinna, Mr. Meares intending to return in the
following year. In the meantime, a Spanish officer arrived
with two ships of war, and took formal possession of the place,
claiming sovereignty over the whole. The dispute was referred to the respective Governments of Great Britain and of
Spain, and on the latter attempting to justify the measure, a
fleet was promptly fitted out by the former, and a declaration
of war was imminent.
" This prompt measure brought Spain to terms, and Nootka
was eventually given up, Captain George Vancouver, of the
Royal Navy, being sent out on the part of England to receive
the transfer, and at the same time survey the coast and prosecute a voyage of maritime discovery.
" From this period onwards the country was visited only
by fur traders, and it was not until 1843 that any settlement
was formed on the island. In that year the Hon. Hudson's
Bay Company started a trading fort in the harbour, and on
the land which now forms the site of the City of Victoria. b*~
" In 1849, the island was granted by charter to the com-,
■pany on certain conditions, but in a few years it was formed
into a regular colony.
"In 1858, the existence of gold in the banks and on the
bars of Fraser River was made public, and a great rush took
place to the new ' Dorado Gold Mines,' capitalists and land
speculators flocking to the scene of speculation, enterprise,
and adventure.
" Since that time the progress of the colony has been rapid,
the City of Victoria springing into existence as if at the touch
of a magician's wand.
| Charles Forbes, Esq., in describing the surrounding
scenery, says—f Before the observer stretches an undulating
park-like country, backed by wooded hills of moderate height
—the sea face formed of a succession of lowr, rounded, rocky
promontories, with outlying reefs and islands. From Fish-
gard Light, which guards the entrance to the harbour of
Esquimalt, past Victoria Harbour, Beacon Hill, and sweeping
on by Cadborough Bay, this same character of country obtains,
•its sloping pastures, studded with oak and maple, giving from
the general appearance the idea of a country long occupied by
civilized man, and covered with flocks and herds.'
" To the north, outlying groups of islands, some low and
undulating, others bold and picturesque, stud and spring from
the glassy sea; and in the east the horizon is bounded by the
American Continent, grandly outlined and denned by the
noble proportions of Mount Baker, towering in its mantle of
perpetual snow, from the giant shoulder of which stretches in
a south-easterly direction the serrated snow-clad range of the
■" More than eighty years ago, Vancouver, in his voyage,
thus wrote—' To describe the beauties of this region will on
some future occasion be a grateful task to the pen of the skilful panegyrist. The serenity of the climate, the innumerable
pleasing landscapes, and the abundant fertility that unassisted
nature puts forth, require only to be enriched by the industry
of man, with villages, mansions, cottages, and other buildings,
to render it the most lovely country that can be imagined;
whilst the labour of the inhabitants'would be amply rewarded
in the bounties which nature seems ready to bestow on cultivation.'
" Sir Bulwer Lytton says—• Already on the Pacific Van- Mm
couver Island has been added to the soeial communities of
mankind. Already on the large territory west of the Rocky
Mountains, from the .American frontier up to the Russian
domains, we are laying the foundations of what may become
hereafter a magnificent abode for the human race.' "
Forbes states—" Situated between the parallels of 48° 20"
and 51° N. lat., in from 123o to 128° W. long., Vancouver
Island, from its insular position, enjoys a climate much less
rigorous and more equable than the corresponding area on the
Continent off the shores of which it lies.
" The climate of Vancouver in the succession of its seasons,
and general thermal conditions, approximates closely to that
of Great Britain, modified by special circumstances connected
with its physical geography.
" Situated close to a continent, the mountain ranges of
which are clothed or capped with perpetual snow, surrounded
by an ocean remarkable for its extremely low temperature,
. eertain local peculiarities present themselves to the observation of the climatologist, and these are well and specially
marked in the S.E. end of the island, owing to its proximity
to the Olympian range of mountains in Washington territory.
" This range running east and west presents its northern
aspect to Vancouver Island, and since On this aspect the snow
remains on the mountain peaks all the year round, the winds
which blow from this direction are occasionally cold and
chilling, The balmy breezes of the south, laden with moisture
which would materially modify the arid heat of the later summer, are intercepted by this range—their moisture condensed
and heat obstructed; if they do blow home, they come not like
the genial south-breathing incense, and bringing fertility, but
more like an easterly wind in Europe—dry, chill, and cold.
" On a clear summer day, when the direct rays of the sun
are scorching, and labour or exercise on the dry and heated
surface of the earth is overpowering, a gentle southerly breeze
may be blowing, so gentle as not to make itself felt in the
open, yet so cold as to make the heated traveller long for an
extra covering if he seeks the shade. In like manner, to the
hot day succeeds a cold night. The heat obtained from the
caloric rays of the sun during the day is quickly radiated from
the surface of the earth, and down from the mountain peaks
comes creeping the heavy cold air to spread itself over the
surface of sea and land. 108
nut the middle of November, the rains are
frequent until April, the weather in general taking the follow-
" Setting in 3
After the gales with rain, which generally mark the period
of the equinox, fine clear weather sets in, and continues until
about the middle of November; at this period rain begins to
fall continuously for days, and gales of wind are. frequent on
the coast. The barometer ranges from 29-50 to 30-10, and
falls rapidly on the approach of a southerly gale. Rising gradually to 30-20 and 30*50, a northerly wind springs up, and
three days of fine clear weather, with hoar frost, generally
" After the third day the barometer slowly falls, and again
the gale springs up, and the rains come down, to be succeeded
after a few days by a rising glass ; and frosty weather, which
as the season advances becomes more intense, and is accompanied by hail and snow. The latter seldom lies for any length
of time. There have been known, however, a few remarkably
severe exceptions.
" These exceptional seasons occur in all climates, and here
only prove the rule, that an open wet winter characterizes
Vancouver Island.
" During this period the appearance of the landscape is
gloomy; the sombre dark green foliage of the pine throws a
heavy shadow on the bare . rocks ; the warm brown carpet of
fern has, in a great measure, disappeared; the bramble has
died down ; the thickets of rose, of raspberry, and of sweet
brier are but naked skeletons, and nothing is left to gladden
the eye but the graceful clusters of the wax-like snowberry,
contrasting with the beautiful green of the young and springing pines..
" In the month of March winter begins to disappear, and
bui sting from the teeming earth with the first warmth of
spring and early summer, numerous bulbous plants raise their
beauteous heads, arrayed in the loveliest colours, to welcome
the coming season.
" The delicate lilac petals of the kamass; the beautiful
blue collinsia with its starry eye, bringing to remembrance
the " Foreet-me-Not" of the old home; the graceful trilium
in its glossy setting of dark green leaf; and amongst the broken
rocks and gnarled roots of trees, springing lightly on its delicate stem, the graceful drooping erythronium, or dog-tooth 109
violet. The wild ribes, with its scarlet blossom, gives early
evidence of life, and amongst the dead leaves of a bygone year,
smdes a bright encouragement and welcome to the opening
buds. The spring grass and young shoots of the fern give a
covering of tender green to the earth, over which, during the
dark months of winter, the solemn pine has been brooding.
The oak unfolds its leaf, the maple gently opens unto day,
the willow, alder, and aspen fill the hollows with their yellow
green light: the gooseberry and the currant, the raspberry
and the rose, in their native thickets, burst into leaf and into
" Numberless minute but lovely flowers spring through the
grassy carpet, or in groups of rich and gorgeous colouring,
irregularly scattered by nature's hand, clothe the but now
dead and naked rock with a bright mantle. The surface of
the earth is teeming with life, the air is redolent of the odours
of a thousand blossoms, and the face of the whole country,
sweeping on in graceful undulations, is literally a garden of
roses. In the months of June and July vegetation attains its
most vigorous growth, and its progress is most remarkable.
'• In A.ugust and September the want of rain begins to be
felt, the summer heats parching the ground and scorching the
pastures After the break of the season the fine weather of
the later autumn (the Indian summer) sets in, and the mellow
tints on leaf and spray give the chief charm of the year to the
lovely landscape, while they proclaim that its beauty is for a
time about to pass away.
" The prevailing winds during the summer months are from
S.W. to N.W., blowing freshly during the day—the nights
tranquil and clear.
"Northerly winds occasionally prevail, and for such a latitude as Vancouver, are quite exceptional in their character,
being hot and dry. Blowing gently from the north, they sweep
over the land, heated by the rays of the summer sun; and
gathering fragrance in the pine woods as they pass, they fill
the air with a transparent haze, and give an almost tropical
appearance to the landscape.
" The absence of thunder storms is a remarkable fact.
Distant thunder is heard at times, but very rarely • does the
electrical discharge take place over Vancouver.*
•The Indians say they never had any thunder till the white man took it. 110
" Such is a brief outline of the nature and succession of the
seasons in Vancouver Island.
" The chief and most striking differences between Great
Britain and Vancouver Island appear to be, that in Vancouver
the spring is somewhat later and colder—the summer drier,
the sun more scorching, though the average mean temperature is the same.
" The autumn of the American climate is finer than that of
the European, and the fine weather (the Indian summer) extends further into the year. The winter months in ordinary
seasons are much the same as in the West of England in the-
severe and exceptional, like the Midland Counties and East
Coast of Scotland.
" Such also are a few of the objects of beauty and interest
which present themselves to the observer and admirer of the
varied charms of nature on his first approach to, and landing
on, the Island of Vancouver.      *
" The whole area of the island comprises about ten million
acres, the greater proportion of which is mountain and barren
rock. There are probably about 250,000 acres of valuable
farming land in the districts of Victoria, Saanich, Cowitchan,
and Nanaimo ; in Comax, an unexplored district, about
300,000, and with other outlying portions, in all about one
million acres available land.
" Heavy timber now covers many fine districts, which, as
they become cleared, will be available for cultivation.
" The price of clearing varies in different localities, averaging
from £6 to £14 per acre.
" The richer alluvial soils, bearing willow, alder, poplar,
&c, are readily and cheaply cleared by fire; the sandy soils,
bearing heavy timber, are more expensive and difficult to
clear, owing to the great size of the roots of the pine trees.
Near to towns and settlements the cost of clearing is becoming
less, owing to the increased value of firewood.
" In the agricultural districts, however, there is enough
open prairie land for farming purposes, into which the settler
can put his plough, and at once raise his crops, the clearing
of the timber from the land keeping pace with the wants of
a farm for outbuildings, fencing, &c, &c.
" The upset price of land is one dollar, or four shillings and
twopence per acre.    Payment is made by instalments spread Ill
over three years. Land may be pre-empted on a system which,
enables a man at once to settle himself on a given number of
acres proportionate to his condition, whether married or single.
The former having a wife resident in the colony can pre-empt
200 acres, and for every child under eighteen years of age,
also resident, ten acres in addition.
" After two years' occupation of the land, on its being
shown that improvement to the extent of ten shillings per
acre has been made, a certificate of improvement is granted,
which gives full and absolute right to the holder to sell, lease,
or mortgage all the rights, in fact, of proprietorship. An
individual, therefore, having a wife .and six children, may preempt and settle at once upon a farm of 260 acres. Abundant
material for building rough temporary dwellings and outhouses are around him, and under has foot he has a rich and
virgin soil.
" The price of some of the more important agricultural implements and produce is as follows :—American ploughs, £4
waggons, £40 ; good horses, £30; yoke of oxen, £24'
heep, from £1 to £1 12s.; pigs, twopence halfpenny
live weight;   hay, £5 per ton;  wheat, 6s.  3d. per
to £5;
to £40
per lb
1 The soils of Vancouver Island may be thus distinguished
and described:—
1st. A poor gravelly soils, with a thin coating of vegetable
mould, bearing large timber of superior quality, coarse grass,,
and little underwood.
2nd. A calcareous sandy loam, of good quality, producing,
excellent crops of vegetables, and very suitable for clover and
other lime plants.
3rd. The rich dark brownish black soil, humus, resulting;
from the decay of vegetable matter, mixed in some localities-
with alluvium of variable depth and resting on the clay subsoil, which itself overlies trap and concretionary limestone.
" The poverty of the soil first described is due to its inability
to retain moisture. The winter rains and the more congenial)
showers of spring alike percolate the mass, and drain off into
lagoons, leaving the hot sun of dry summers to desiccate the
The second soil or sandy loam is always ready for culti
vation, and the
and by far the richest, only wants sub-- 112
soil drainage to carry the heaviest crops of wheat and other
" The land already taken up and occupied is held by companies and private individuals, the chief holders being the
Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Companies.
" It is distributed in larger and smaller portions, the above
companies holding respectively 7,000 and 2,000 to 3,000
acres. These companies and individuals hold by purchase,
originally at the rate of £1 per acre; but this, however, has
been since reduced to an upset price of one dollar, or four
shillings and twopence an acre. There are holdings of land
from one hundred to four hundred acres : a few amount to
upwards of one thousand acres. There are also many farms,
of from forty to one hundred acres, enclosed and under cultivated grasses and rotation crops.
" Lands occupied by tenants are generally held by agreement from year to year, and rents are paid in money. In all
farming operations the same tools and implements are made
use of as in Great Britain.
" In preparing the land, the following'measures are necessary, and generally adopted :—
1st. Boulder and other loose surface stones .are carefully
2nd. It is necessary to clear the land, with pickaxes, of
bedded boulders, the presence of which would not be known
until the plough came in contact with them. Ditching and
draining are the next steps, and the land is then broken up by
the plough with a yoke of bullocks, which are much preferred
to the horses of this country on account of their- steadier
" The land is now left as a summer fallow until the early
part of October, when the grain is put into the ground.
The crops generally raised are—wheat, barley, oats, and
peas. The green crops are—turnips (Swedes), mangel-wurzel,
vetches, potatoes, and all kinds of vegetables—cabbages and
pumpkins attaining a very great -size.*
" Of the cereals wheat does the best; of the leguminous
plants peas are the most profitable.
Nowhere does the potato flourish more, or attain a better
*My friend Marquis had seen a cabbage 381bs. in weight, I have heard
of them attaining the enormous weight of oOlbs. 1*8
flavour ; it is grown in great quantities by the natives on
parts of the coast.*
" The rotation of crops in virgin soil is—wheat after fallow,
then a crop of peas; wheat again or oats, and then a fallow is
made for turnips, and by this time the land will be pretty clean.
" After turnips, a crop of barley or oats (spring sown) is
raised and followed by potatoes, the land being well manured
and thus mended. After this, farming operations are conducted on the same rotation (four course system) as in Great
" The average production of wheat is twenty-five to thirty
bushels per acre, 641bs. to the bushel; of oats, forty bushels
per acre, weight 36 to 46lbs.
" Potatoes two hundred bushels per acre, and of very superior quality. The following are the usual quantities of seed
sown per acre :—of wheat, one and a-half bushels; barley,
two and a-half; oats, two and a-half to three bushels ; peas,
two to two and a-half bushels; vetches, two and a-half. The
yield of barley varies according to the cultivation of the land
from 24 up to 40 bushels per acre."
All fruit trees bear profusely, and the fruit is of the finest
quality. Farm and garden produce find a ready market, and
bring high prices.
" The animals employed in the field and farm-yard are
horses, oxen, and mules, the latter being of great and special
value.    Pigs are easily reared, and poultry also.
" Sheep generally do well, the Southdown especially, which
do best, the merino sheep being too loose in the wool to suit
the wet winter climate. Fleeces are light, the quality of the
wool good. The meat is excellent, of the finest and most
delicate flavour—fit to kill at two years old. Lambs are
dropped about the beginning of April—a favourable season—
and little loss is experienced, except from the occasional
attacks of native dogs or wild animals. Some of the finest
Southdown rams have been imported at a great expense by
the Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Companies.
•The Indians have a novel, but very effectual method of cooking potatoes. A hole is made in the ground, and a Quantity of pebble stones pat
into it. A fire is then built, and the stones heated to a red heat. The
potatoes are placed on the stones, a quantity of water thrown in, and the
whole instantly covered up with tuif to confine the steam. In about fifteen
or twenty minutes the potatoes are taken out beautifully cooked. The.
Indian name for potatoes is Wapatoos.
I w
" An agricultural and horticultural society has been formed,,
and was very successfully inaugurated in the autumn of 1861.
The first exhibition was held in October, prizes being awarded
to the exhibitors of the best horned cattle, sheep, stallions,
and brood mares (thorough bred and for farming purposes),
and also for pigs. Amongst the cereals—for wheat, barley;
and oats, and amongst the leguminous plants, for field peas,
of the root and leaf plants—for Swedish and bullock turnips,
parsnips, mangel-wurzel, carrots, beets and potatoes, cabbages,
squashes, celery and tomatoes.
" Among the settlements on the island the Cowitchan
Valley, some fifty miles from Victoria, is one of the most
important, and has already attracted a considerable number
of settlers. -It is about fifteen miles wide upon the sea coast,
narrowing rapidly in a westerly direction to the width of about
six miles. The soil is usually from two to three feet in depth,
resting on a sufficiently retentive subsoil of blue clay or gravel,
'• The earths, chiefly light, very porous, and composed of
due proportions of clay, sand, carbonate of lime, and humus,
are well constituted for absorbing and retaining moisture, and
the general colour from brown to black, with the entire absence
of chalky or white earths, would likewise indicate a favourable soil for receiving and retaining heat. The soil is rich,
as may be seen from the abundant crops of potatoes, one of
the most exhausting of plants, raised by the natives on the
same patches of land for a series of years."
I witnessed the departure of the first settlers; they num--
bered 150, and sailed from Victoria in one of the Government
gunboats, accompanied by the Governor and suite. The
Governor's object in going to Cowitchan was to purchase the
land off the Indians, who then occupied it. The price he
offered to them was a pair of blankets each. (The Indians
have a particular liking for blankets.) The offer was immediately accepted, and the white men at once took possession.
The Indians were quite delighted with their bargain, and
expressed great satisfaction at having the whites brought
amongst them.
" The species and varieties of plants growing in this rich
and fertile district are exceedingly numerous. Growing on
the meadow lands are the following :—
White pea, (five to six seeded) wild bean,, ground nut, a.
RiBbU) 1U
species of white clover, reed meadow grass, bent spear grass,
wild oat, wild timothy, sweet grass, cowslip, crowsfoot, winter
cress, partridge berry, wild sun flower, marigold, wild lettuce,
nettles, wild angelica, wild lily, brown-leaved rush.
■ ' The fern attains the enormous height of from six to eight
feet, and the grasses have all a most vigorous growth.
" The chief economical woods are the oak and pine, and the
following fist comprises a general summary of the trees and
shrubs met with :—Oak, red or swamp maple, elder, trailing
arbutus, crab apple, hazel, red elder, willow, balsam poplar,
various species of pine, balsam fir, cedar, barberry, wild red
cherry, wild blackberry, swamp gooseberry, several kinds of
currants, bear berries, red elder, mooseberry, snowberry, blueberry, bilberry, cranberry, whortleberry, red and white mulberry, yellow plum, choke cherry, black and red raspberry,
white raspberry, prickly purple raspberry, prickly gooseberry.
" The Comax Valley is another fine agricultural district,
containing about 300,000 acres of arable land, and in its
general characters it closely resembles the Cowitchan Valley.
" Barclay Sound, situated close to the entrance of the
Straits of Fuca, has a very important geographical position—
a somewhat open sound, studded with numerous islands. At
the upper end of the sound a very remarkable cleft in the
mountain range, known as the Alberni Canal, leads after a
course of 25 miles to a level country of considerable extent,
heavily timbered with the finest specimens of pine and other
woods perhaps anywhere to be seen.
" Bears, racoons, mink, hair and fur seals are numerous;
deer of two kinds in large herds. From this locality was sent
the magnificent spar, erected in Kew Gardens as a flag-staff.
" Besides the above-named trees and shrubs found in Cowitchan, and other districts on the east, on the west along the
whole coast are found white fir, spruce fir, balsam fir, white
pine, yellow pine, cedar, alder, vine-leaved maple, broad-
leaved maple, willow, dogwood, yew, a tree resembling the
Scottish larch, yellow-cypress, crab-apple, cottonwood. hemlock oak, aspen, arbutus, service tree, &c, &c.
"The Douglas pine, or yellow fir, called sometimes by
woodmen the " Oregon Red Pine," is the most important of
all these trees above designated by their popular names. It
grows to an enormous size, and is one of the best woods for
large spars known.
12 116
" It can be obtained of one hundred and fifty feet in length*
and has squared forty-five inches for ninety feet—makes admirable lumber, and may be procured in any quantity. This
is the tree of the colony, and is probably worth all the others
put together; it is the commonest tree on the north-west
coast, ranging from the Columbia River to far north of Vancouver Island. This wood is sawn into lumber, shipped to
San Francisco, the Sandwich Islands, down the South American Coast, and in large quantities to Australia; and this is the
wood which, since the diminution of the supply of Riga spars,
has been so prized in Europe for masts.
" The French, Spanish, Sardinian, and Dutch Governments
have been supplied with masts and spars by a company who
have established saw mills, &c, at the head of the Alberni
Canal in Barclay Sound.
"' In the English Merchant Service they have been largely
used, and have given great satisfaction, being universally considered the finest masts ever imported,
" The extraordinary size, straightness, and uniform thickness of the trees, their strength and flexibilitv, the regularity
and beauty of the grain, their durability, freeness from knots
and sapwood, place them almost beyond competition in point
of quality, and especially fit them for the masting of large
I The oak found in the southern part of the island is small
in size, but admirably adapted for ships' knees, &c.
" Yellow cypress yields a fragrant wood, close grained, and
eapable of a good polish ; from the bark is manufactured, by
the natives, many articles of wearing apparel, caps, hats, &c,
and baskets, large and small.
" It is also woven into rope, which is strong and durable,
used for fishing lines, short whale, and spear lines, and canoe
purposes generally From the root, plank can be obtained,
which is very handsomely veined, and bears a light polish, all-
fitted for ornamental work.
Hemp nettle (urtica cannabinaj grows wild around Indian
lodges, and is used by the natives to make a capital twine,
which is manufactured into nets, &c.
| In her coalfields the colony of Vancouver possesses almost
inexhaustible wealth.
" This valuable carboniferous deposit, which extends round 117
the whole of the northern part of the island, is at present only
worked at Nanaimo. At this place there are three mines at
work, namely, Newcastle Island, No. 3 Pit, and Parkhead
Level and Slope.
*' The area of land belonging to the company which work
this coal is about 6,000 acres, of which probably more than
one-half are coal beds.
" The area of coalfield explored by bores is nine hundred
thousand square yards. In these new explorations a seam 4
feet 6 inches in thickness, with a dip of 4 in 21, or nearly 2
in 5, has been found and proved a good clean Hard coal. It
is inferior to our best English coal, but, nevertheless, by far
the best found on the Pacific.
if The outcrops of two other seams, apparently underlying
the one proved, have been found—one measuring six feet in
thickness, the other three feet six inches."
The miners work seven hours a-day, and earn twelve shillings and sixpence in that time; artizans, eight and fourpence
to ten shillings; labourers, six and threepence to seven and
twopence; and, in addition, all receive medical attendance,
house, and allowance of fuel, gratis. The price of coal in
Victoria was generally ten dollars per ton, sometimes as much
as twelve dollars. The price at the pits' mouth averaged six
to seven dollars, or from twenty-five to twenty-nine shillings
per ton.    Coal was discovered here in the year 1850.
" The specific gravity of the coal is 1'24; its chemical composition—carbon, 6693; hydrogen, 5*32; nitrogen, 102;
sulphur, 2*20; oxygen, 870; ash, Liv83 ; thus closely resembling much of the Chili coal, and some of Borneo—the
chief approximation being in the relative proportions of
" The whole deposit has undergone much disturbance from
the action of volcanic forces in the neighbourhood; faults are
very numerous; and the members of the sedimentary stratified
rocks of this coalfield are disturbed and twisted about in a very
remarkable manner.
" Nanaimo is situated about seventy miles north of Victoria
on the east coast, and at present has only communication by
sea. Measures are being taken to open a road direct to Victoria, which, when effected, will prove of the greatest value
to both places. Owing to the great range of tide, which is
iS 118
sometimes as much as sixteen feet, the harbour of Nanaimo
presents peculiar facilities for the construction of docks.
" Large quantities of this coal is shipped to California.
There is an Episcopal Church and Wesleyan Chapel at
Nanaimo.    Its population is about 300.
" The Vancouver fisheries are inexhaustible. Salmon, in
millions of many species, abound in all the seas, lakes and
streams of the island, and neighbouring continent. Great
quantities are annually caught by the Indians, and a considerable export trade is carried on by the Hudson's Bay Company.
" Trout, some of them from four to six lbs. in weight, are
found in all the streams and lakes on both sides of the island.
" Eulachon—a very delicious fish, of the size of a large
sprat or small herring, classed by naturalists among the salmon
family. It visits the north coast of the 'sland annually in large
shoals, and every spring ascends the rivers of the continent as
far south as the Columbia, for the purpose of spawning.
" Immense quantities are taken by the Indians, who manufacture from it an oil much esteemed by inland tribes, and it
forms an article of trade between them. The oil is obtained
by immersing the fish in a small quantity of water and applying heat; it is then skimmed off, and when properly filtered,
is a very fine pellucid oil of a delicate pale yellow colour;
" Some of the northern natives allow the fish to become
half putrid, and then express the oil by pressure upon boards.
" There is every promise of most valuable deep sea fisheries.
Cod, the true " Gadus," is found on the west side of the
island The fish averages about two feet and a-half in length,
with a girth round the shoulders of eighteen inches; it is well
flavoured, and good eating.
" Halibut is found in great abundance round the whole
coast. Their size is often enormous, and the quantity in
which they are found may be estimated by a statement of an
official of the Hudson's Bay Company, that in forty-eight
hours' fishing, a vessel of six hundred tons might be laden
with them. At certain seasons this fish is very delicate, far
excelling in tenderness and flavour its congener of the Atlantic
" Sturgeon is plentiful off the mouth of the Fraser River,
and runs to an immense size. Isinglass, made from this fish,
is exported by the Hudson's Bay Company.
" Herrings are in countless thousands. Not so full flavoured
L^l 119
a fish as the 'herring of the European seas, it is less suited for
salting, but makes a most excellent bloater, equal to anything
exported from Europe.*
" The smelt, a very delicate fish, is captured by boat loads.
The haddock and the whiting are found, and the pilchard
is said to have been seen in the Gulf of Georgia.
The dogfish is taken in incredible quantities by the natives
of the various sounds on the west coast. As much as two
thousand gallons of oil have been obtained from this fish in a
season by one tribe of Indians, and that a very small one.
Considerable quantities are exported annually by the Hudson's
Bay Company.
*' Several varieties of' rock fish and of deep sea perch are '
found.    One species of the latter, very plentiful, often reaches
61bs. to 81bs. in weight.
Great quantities of small fish are caught and dried by Chinamen, who export them to British Columbia.
" Salmon and halibut are both put up and well preserved
in hermetrically sealed tins by parties in Victoria.
" Seal oil is obtained in considerable quantities, and sent to
" The list of birds shows Vancouver Island to be a resting
place for many migratory species, ij Insect life is too limited
to keep the feathered tribes stationary.
" In Vancouver the sportsman will find abundant use for
both rod and gun, and as a hunter he may distinguish himself
in the forest, the puma, the bear, and the wolf being worthy
of his prowess." In the summer of 1862 two or three panthers
were shot in the immediate neighbourhood of Victoria.
" Deer-stalking, may be enjoyed to any extent, if the term
be admissable in a country so thickly wooded.
" Great numbers are shot annually, and the great red deer,
or " elk," as he is properly called, is, indeed, a prize any
sportsman may be proud of.
" Two species of grouse are found on the island, the blue
and the ruffled grouse. The latter only is stationary; the
former in the spring to breed, and is popularly known
as the drum partridge, from the drumming noise made by the
male bird. In the early part of May the hen bird is hatching,
'the nests generally having from ten to eleven eggs.
" In September these birds disappear, and it is not known
* At the shops »bout thirty of these herrings are bought for sixpence.
*S* 120
where they go to, as they are never seen again till the follow*
ing spring, when unfortunately they fall a prey to the prowling
Indian. A law, in some degree protective, is in force, inflicting a penalty for dealing in game after and before a certain
date ; but nothing will ever stop the poaching propensities of
the natives, nor is it natural that it should.
" Grouse shooting begins on the 12th of August, but the
sport is very different from that enjoyed on the breezy moors
of Yorkshire, or of Scotland, and more resembles pheasant
shooting. The cover is very thick, and the birds quick on
the wing; he must fag hard, and have a ready eye and finger,
who would make a bag. One or two couple of well broken
active spaniels are best for the thick underwood—pointers or
setters are in a measure lost, and there is no fur to distract
the spaniel and draw him from feather. Down amongst the
thick fern and tangled thickets of rose and sweet briar, where
along a gentle hollow ripples a tiny stream, is the place to
find " Tetras." With a rush and a whirr he is on the wing,
and a good snap shot must he be that stops and bags the noble
bird ere he shoots amongst the branches of yonder pine.
A good retriever is invaluable; and perhaps the best dog
of all, a well broken Irish spaniel, an animal with strength and
dash, and yet obedient to command, will give most sport in
this country.
" The birds when sprung take to tree, where they may
readily be bagged by any poacher.
" In the early winter, snipe and wild duck afford good sport:
the former has some specific difference—the eye sees at once
that it is not the same, the ugh very like the snipe of Great
Britain—its flight is s traigh ter. and the bill is slightly turned up.
" Excellent trout fishing may be had on every stream, and in
all the arms of the sea into which fresh water runs. In the
former, the yellow burn trout, and in the latter sea trout rise
readily to the fly; the red and brown hackle, and a fly with a
purple body, and a drake's wing, being very killing. Trolling
with minnow and spawn are also effectual, and are the only
means by which salmon can be caught, these lordly gentlemen
refusing to show a fin to any fly either in Vancouver or on
the Continent.
" Close to his own door every man who loves the rod and
gun may enjoy good sport in a fine climate nearly all the year
round. 121
| List.op Animals poundin Vancouver Island as adopted
xn Vol. VIII.    Pacific Railroad Report.
American Panther or Cougar
Wild Cat
Grey Cat
Dusky Wolf
Red Fox
Fisher, Black Cat
Mink or Minz
American Sable or Pine Marten
Racoon, Black-footed
Black Bear
Brown Bear
List op Bibds found on Vancouveb  Island.   Names
adopted fbom Vol.  IX.    Pacific Railroad Report.
Cumraon Otter
Red or Pine Squirrel
Red Deer, " Elk"
Black-tailed Deer
Musquash, or Musk Rat
Sea Lion
Hair and Fur Seals
Sea Otter
Mountain Goat
Pigeon Hawk
Sparrow Hawk
60s Hawk
Sharp Shin Hawk
Western Red Tail Hawk
White-headed Eagle
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Saw Whet Owl
Pigmy Owl
Harris's Woodpecker
Gairdner's Woodpecker
Red-breasted Woodpecker
Pileatpd Woodpecker, or Log Cock
Red-shafted Flicker
Red-backed Humming Bird
Night Hawk
Belted Kingfisher
Olive-sided Fly Catcher
American Robin, or Thrush
Varied Thrush, or Painted Robin
Western Blue Bird
Ruby-crowned Wren
Golden-crested Wren
American Titlark
Macgillivray's Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Audubon's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Louisiana Tanager
Barn Swallow
White-bellied Swallow
Violet Green Swallow
Warbling Flycatcher
Blue-headed Do.
Winter Wren
Rock Wren
Slender-bill Nuthatch
Chestnut-backed Tit
Western Purple Finch
Pine Finch
Western White crowned Sparrow
Golden crowned Do.
Oregon Snow Bird
Chipping Sparrow
Western Song Sparrow
Townsend's Fox Sparrow
Black-headed Grosbeak
Oregon Ground Robin
Western Meadow Lark
Brewer's Blackbird
Redwing     Do.
American Raren
North-Western Fish Crow
Steller's Jay
Band-tailed Pigeon
Blue Grouse
Ruffled Oregon Grouse, or Partridge
Sandhill Crane
Great Blue Heron
Surf Bird
Backman's Oyster Catcher
Black Turnstone
Wilson's Snipe
Telltale Tattler 122
List op Bird'
American Coot or Mud Hen
The Swan
Canada Goose
White- cheeked Goose
Hntchin's Goose
Snow Goose
Millard, or Stock Duck
Green-winged Teal
Baldpate, or American Widgeon
Big Blackhead, or Scaup Dnck
Canvas-back Duck
Golden Eye, or Whistle-wing
Bufflehead Dnck
Harlequin Duck
The Long-tailed Dnck, or South-
" List op Teees and Shrubs,
in Vancouv
The Douglas Pine, or Oregon Red
Spruce Fir
Yellow Fir
Balsam Fir
Hemlock Spruce
Wild Cherry
White Pine, or Weymouth Pino
Yellow Pine
Cedar-r-the Oregon Cedar
Yellow Cypress
Arbor Vitce
Velvet Duck
Surf Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Hooded Merganser
Yiolet Green Cormorant
Short-tailed Albatross
Glaucous-winged Gull
Suckley's Gull
Great Northern Diver
Black-throated Diver
Red-throated Diver
Red-necked Grebe
Western Grebe
Hornea Grebe
Western Guillemot
Marbled Ank
op Economic Value, pound
ee Island.
The Oak
The   White,   or   Broad-leaved
Vine Maple
The Oregon Alder
Oregon Dogwood
American Aspen
Oregon Crab Apple
The Willow
Shrubbebt under Gbowth.
The Hazel
Red Cornel, or Willow
Holly-leaved Barberry, or Oregon
Mock Orange, or Seringa
Red, White, and Black Raspberry
Three kinds of Gooseberry
Blackberry (Rubus)
Oregon Buckthorn
Fly Blossom, or Bearberry
Wild Rose
Geasses, Leguminous Plants, &c, &c.
White Clover
Reed Meadow-Grass
Bent Spear Grass
Sweet Grass
Wild Timothy, or Herd's Grass
Wild Oat
Broad-leaved Rush
Cowslip 123
Gold was found at various parts of the island, but the quantity was too small to he remunerative.
In the summer of 1862 was issued the following
" Vancouver Island. 8th August, 1862.
" The Governor, with the advice of the council, directs it
to be notified
" That, to any person or persons who shall first discover a
profitable gold field within the colony of Vancouver Island,
- and make known and describe to the Colonial Government
the site and limits of the tract of land comprised in his or
their discovery, there shall be paid the sum of one thousand
pounds sterling (£1,000), provided the monies received for
licenses issued for working the said tract of land be equal to
that amount; and provided always that there shall have been
proved, to the satisfaction of the Local Government, that there
has been bona fide raised and produced from the said tract of
field, within six months of the issue of the said licenses, an
amount of gold equal in value to not less than ten thousand
pounds (£10,000).
" By His Excellency's command,
" William A. G. Young."
An exploring expedition set out, but returned unsuccessful.
Subsequently, however, intelligence has reached England to
the effect that gold has been found in paying quantities within
twenty-five miles of Victoria.
" Physical Geography.—The great chain of rocky mountains from the N.W. to S.E. form the axis of elevation of the
western coast of North America; and the physical geography
of British Columbia and of Vancouver Island is due primarily
to this mountain range, and secondarily to the eruptive eleva-
tory forces of that great line of volcanic action of which Mount
Baker, Mount Ranier, and Mount Helen are the vents.
" The range of the rocky mountains is. composed generally
of igneous hypogenic rocks, having, resting on and flanking
them silurian deposits, associated with gold-bearing rocks.
" It has been recently ascertained, however, by Mr. Baner-
man, of the North American Boundry Commission, that in the
vicinity of the 49 th Parallel, this range is mainly composed of
contorted, false-bedded, stratified rocks—very full of ripple
mark, with some iuterstratified basaltic traps. A flKSLr/»l
it These beds rest on a gneiss-granitic mass, which is exposed at Pend Orielle Lake, about half way between the
Columbia and Kootaine Rivers.
" This granite is the central geological axis of the country,
and it divides the unaltered rocks of the Eastern Slope from
those of the western side, which are principally black slates
and limestones, contemporaneous with the lower beds of the
rocky mountains; but they are very much altered and disturbed both by granatic and greenstone rocks. It is remarkable that only one greenstone dyke is exposed to the eastward
of Pend Orielle Lake, in the Valley of the Kootaine River;
while the amount of metamorphism in the rocks increases as
we pass westward from the Columbia to the Pacific, or Valley
of the Fraser River.
" This great range, then, runs in a N.W. and S.E. direction,
at an average distance of from 350 to 400 miles from the coast.
" Parallel to this, running in the same general direction is
the Coast Range, which sends down westerly numerous rugged
mountain spurs to meet the sea, and to form deep inlets.
" This range, composed of plutonic, metamorphic, and trap-
pean rocks, permeated throughout by a system of metalliferous
quartzose veins, and trappean dykes, sends off a branch known
as the Lillooet Spur, to terminate at the Fraser River, west of
Hope. Between the range and the spur is enclosed a chain
el lakes, which, with their portages, are of great importance
as a means of transit to the upper country. A succession of
elevated plateaux of the tertiary age, stretch westerly from
the base of the rockv mountains and their flanking ridges to
this Lillooet Spur of the Coast Range, and, cutting its way
through the friable materials of this deposit, bursting through
the mountain passes at Yale and Hope, the Fraser River, with
its golden waters, flows onwards to the sea, bringing down, in
its spring and summer torrents, those lighter particles of gold
which, accumulated on its banks and bars, have been the means
of directing attention to, and developing the wealth of, the
rugged upper country, whence the noble stream derives its
springs of life.
" Sweeping on past Yale and Hope, the river"leaves its
rocky barriers behind; and, rolling on in graceful sweeps,
passes the rising city of New Westminster to empty its flood
into the Gulf of Georgia. During the latter part of its course
it flows a tranquil, steady stream, through tertiary and allu- 125
vial deposits, carrying with it sedimentary matter to be deposited as banks and shoals, the nuclei of future ' green fields
and pastures new.'
" The colony of British Columbia, which thus extends its
western borders to the sea, has a noble barrier for the protection of its shores. An outlying ridge, another parallel chain
of mountains, cut off. however, by the sea from the Continent,
with which, in its physical geography, it is connected, forms
an archipelago of islands, the chief of which is the sister colony
of Vancouver.
'■ The whole northern and western sea face of British
Columbia, as far south as Howe Sound, is a rugged mass of
plutonic, trappean, and quartzose rocks, with associated semi-
crystalline liinestones. Cut up by numerous inlets and arms
of the sea, it needs no protection against the winds and waves,
but semis out its adamantine promontories to meet them.
" Far different, however, is the coast line from Howe Sound,
or Burrard's Inlet southwards. Stretching in a semi-circle, the
convexity of which touches.the foot range of mountain above
Langley on the Fraser, and reaching south past Bellingham
Bav into United States territory is a deposit of loose friable
sandstones and alluvium, the same through which the Fraser
River cuts its way. These sandstones at Burrard's Inlet and
at Bellingham Bay contain seams of lignite, the associated
friable sandstones when hardened and partially metamorphosed
showing impressions of a dicotyledonous plant allied to the
'* All geological evidence tends to prove that the last upheaval of this Continent and outlying islands was slow and
gradual, occurring in the post pleistocene, or most recent
tertiary epoch. And the existence of this belt of sandstone
and alluvium, which is of such vast importance to British
Columbia, is due, in the first place, to such upheaval and
deposition of alluvial matter; in the second place, to the protection of the outlying insular barriers, Vancouver and its
" The great importance (physically speaking) to British
I Columbia of this barrier group of islands will be at once
apparent to any one who takes into consideration the powerful
effects of the violent storms which rage on this coast in the
later autumnal and early spring months, together with the
sweeping currents,   which,   rushing irregularly in all direc-
■m 126
tions, carry everything but the hardest rocks along with them.
Without such protection, as is thus afforded, the loose friable
materials of the district indicated must have been long since
swept away.
Geology.—" The special physical geography of Vancouver,
in so far as regards its form and feature, has - been already
briefly given : it now remains to say a few words on its
" The geological structure of a country like Vancouver,
owing to practical difficulties, can only be arrived at by deductions from partial observations, such as are afforded by
sections on the coast, by ravines, water courses, and mountain
summits. Covered by a thick vegetation, it is impossible in
the summer months to penetrate the valleys to any good purpose, and in the winter months the task is too arduous, if not
impracticable. Enough, however, is apparent and known to
show the general geological character of the island.
" An axis of metamorphic gneissose rock is found in the
south-western extremity of the island, having, resting thereon,
clay slates and silurian deposits, or, at all events, rocks of the
Paloeozoic age. A black bituminous-looking slate is brought
from that locality, as also from Queen Charlotte's Island ;* but
no observer has yet seen it in situ, and no true or definite
account of it can be obtained. A great deposit of clay slate
has existed along the whole south and west; but, shattered
and broken up by intruded trappean rocks, it has been almost
entirely removed by the subsequent glacial action which
grooved and furrowed the dense crystalline felspathic traps.
Masses of lenticular or concretionary limestone are interspersed
throughout this formation, and afford good lime for economic
purposes. Along with the traps, other rocks of igneous origin
have been erupted, and at the Race Rocks a remarkably beautiful dark green hornblendic rock is found massive, studded
with large and perfectly formed crystals of quartz.
" The sedimentary rocks are—carboniferous sandstones and
grit, limestones and shales, of both the cretaceous and tertiary
ages. These, in patches, fringe the whole coast from the
extreme north, round by the Straits of Fuca to Nootka Sound,
* Queen Charlotte's Island is situated some two or three hundred miles
higher up the Pacific. It is inhabited by a superior race of Indians, who
cultivate potatoes and hold potato fairs. and enter largely into the formation of the numerous outlying
islands in the Gulf of Georgia.
" As shown by the associated fossils, the coal field of
Nanaimo is of cretaceous age—the whole deposit has undergone many changes of level, numerous extensive faults existing.
I The sandstones, with lignitic beds, at Burrard's Inlet and
at Bellingham Bay on the mainland, are, on the contrary,
almost horizontal; in general, loose and friable in their structure ; in some cases, slightly metamorphosed by the intrusion
and contact of heated rock, and containing, as fossil testimony
of age, impressions of the leaves of a maple-like tree.
Upheaval, subsidence, and denudation had all done their
work on the dense crystalline rocks of the axis of the island,
and on the cretaceous beds of Nanaimo, long before the tertiary sandstones and lignites were elevated by the slow upheaval of the post glacial period.
" Associated with this coal field, and scattered over the
neighbouring islands, are numerous nodules of ' Septaria,' a
calcareous clay charged with iron, of as great value as hydraulic
" Copper pyrites and peroxide of iron are found in various-
localities giving promise of mineral. In Queen Charlotte's
Island, to the north, a very good peacock copper ore has been
obtained in considerable quantities, and at Barclay Sound on
the S.W. Coast, in the metamorphosed rocks of that locality,,
another pyritic ore of copper has been found, as also at Cowitchan on the east coast. Traces of gold are to be found in the
clay slates and permeating quartz veins, disseminated in fine
particles throughout the mass, and also as auriferous iron
" In the neighbourhood of the coal measures are saltspringsr
from which a supply of salt may be readily obtained. These
occur at Admiral or Salt Spring Island, and at Nanaimo.
" The general lithological character of the whole island is
as follows :—Amongst the metamorphic and erupted rocks are
—gneisso (gneisso granitic) killas, or clay slate, permeated by
quartz veins, quartz and hornblende rocks, compact bituminous
slates, serpentine, highly crystalline felspathic traps (bedded and
jointed), semi-crystalline concretionary limestone. Amongst
the sedimentary are sandstones and stratified limestones (crystallized by intruded igneous rocks), carboniferous sandstones, fine and coarse grits, conglomerates, and fossiliferous limestones, shales, &c, &c, associated with the seams of coal.
" The most remarkable feature in the geology of the southeastern end of the island is the scooping, grooving, and scratching of the rocks by ice action. The dense felspathic trap
already spoken of is ploughed into furrows six to eight inches
deep, and from six to eighteen inches wide.
'? The sharp peaks of the erupted, intruded rocks have been
broken off, and the surface smoothed and polished, as well as
grooved and furrowed, by the ice action and sinking land,
giving to the numerous promontories, and outlying islands
which here stud the coast, the appearance of rbunded bosses,
between which the soil is found to be composed of sedimentary
alluvial deposit, containing the debris of tertiary and recent
shelly beaches, which have, after a period of depression, been
again elevated to form dry land, and to give the present aspect
to the physical geography of Vancouver Island.
" As might be looked for in a country so marked by glacial
phenomena, the whole surface of the land is strewn with erratic
boulders. Great masses, of many tons weight, are to be found
of various igneous and crystalline, as well as of sedimentary
rocks, sufficiently hard to bear transportation and attrition.
" Granites and granitoid rocks of various descriptions are to
be met with, trappean rocks of every kind of whmstone through
the whole serie s; mica schist, with garnets ; breccias and conglomerates.
" From these granitic boulders, and from the sandstones of
the outlying islands, valuable building material is obtained.
" Some of the grey granite equalling in beauty and closeness of crystalline texture the best granite of Aberdeen or
" Although the last upheaval of the land, which took place
at a geologically recent period, failed to connect Vancouver
Island with the North American Continent, it, at all events,
was sufficient to effect, to a great extent, the junction of
numerous insular ridges, and thus to form a connected whole
of what was, and might have continued only to be, an arcm>.
pelago of scattered islets. The upheaving force elevated and
connected those, and brought to the surface the great clay,
gravel, and sand deposits of the northern drift, which had
swept over, and been deposited on, the submerged land.
These sands, gravels, and clays, were now to form the surface
soil of land, prepared for the habitation of man. 129
Victoeia, the capital of Vancouver Island, contains 6,000
inhabitants, with a floating population of about two more
" ' The native or Indian population,' sayf - Forbes, ' of the
whole island is estimated at 18,000, and is generally in a very
degraded state; efforts are being made by missionary clergymen of various churches to bring them into something like
civilization; and, no doubt, in time, on the plastic minds of
the young, such efforts will bear fruit, but from the adult
much cannot be expected.'
" Occasionally industrious, trustworthy individuals are to be
met with amongst them, but as a body their labour cannot be
depended on, and with one or two slight exceptions, at present
forms no point of consideration in the labour market. Like
all uncivilized races, they have an invincible dislike to hard
and continued manual labour, but they show in their rude
carvings and imitative jewellery an aptitude for handicraft,
and their acuteness in barter is remarkable.
" The dialects of the various tribes are derived from the five
great divisions of language spoken on the mainland.
Deep gutterals characterize them all, and from the constant
repetition of sounds that can only be expressed by the letters
X T L in conjunction, give an idea to the hearer of what the
ancient Mexican language must have been. A jargon, called
Chinook, is the medium of communication with the white
races : it is composed of the mutilated words of the English,
French, and Spanish languages, with a mixture of the native
dialects—the words strung together without the slightest
attempt at grammatical construction.
" The energies of this people are at present only called forth
and directed to the pursuit of the chase and of revenge; degraded, they do not scruple to live by the prostitution of their
women, and under the influence of \ fire-water' commit great
crimes. On the whole, their behaviour is wonderfully good,
and the settler need fear no injury or molestation so long as
he keeps the natives at a proper distance—manifests no want
of confidence, and avoids giving to, or taking with them, intoxicating drink.
,"They are quarrelsome, however, among themselves," says
Mr. Milner, " and at one period raised the war-whoop in the
streets of Victoria." I have heard from report, on one occasion being greatly disaffected about something or other, they 2 il nfianlfc' ■ r'
assembled in large numbers around the Governor's dwelling,
assuming a most threatening attitude; great danger was apprehended from them. The Governor, who knows well how to
control the savages, ordered them to be liberally supplied with
bread and treacle. . This stratagem had the desired effect; they
were quite delighted, and went away perfectly reconciled.
It is the opinion of some that eventually the Indians will
die off before the white man. In 1862 small-pox swept off
hundreds of them in British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
In the outskirts of Victoria whole families of Indians were
found dead lying one upon another.
The City of Victoria stands upon a very pretty site, forming
a gentle slope, and situate on the east side of the harbour,
which is formed by an inlet of the sea; the sea itself, however, is hid from view by an intervening ridge which runs
long the shore, clothed with trees and underwood.
w Victoria Harbour," says Mr. Forbes, " is a little more
than two miles eastward of Esquimalt. The entrance is shoal,
narrow, and intricate, and with S.W. or S.E. gales, a heavy
rolling swell sets on the coast, which renders the anchorage
outside unsafe, while vessels of burthen cannot run in for
shelter unless at or near high water. Vessels drawing fourteen or fifteen feet water may, under ordinary circumstances,
enter at such times of tide, and ships drawing seventeen feet
have entered, though only on the top of spring tides.
'" The . channel is buoyed, and every means has been taken
to make the entrance a3 safe as possible, and doubtless the
harbour is susceptible of improvement by artificial means.
I Originally selected by the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company
as the depot of their establishments, in consequence of the
quantity of good clear land in the immediate neighbourhood,
and the harbour being sufficiently spacious for the few small
vessels in their employ, was as a site in these respects admirably chosen, but it has been a fatal mistake at a later date not
to have adopted Esquimalt as the commercial port.
" The inlet of the sea* which forms the Harbour of Victoria,
runs northerly for some miles, with an average breadth of a
few hundred yards, and at one point is separated by but a
very narrow neck of land from Esquimalt Harbour.
" Through this it was proposed to cut a canal, and so connect the two harbours." The plan was not carried out, but
before I left the countiy a railway between Victoria and 131
Esquimalt was in contemplation; the company was formed,
the prospectuses issued, and the money subscribed, and there
is little doubt by this time the work will have been completed,
which will be of immense advantage to the colony.
The town.of Victoria has sprung into existence during the
last five years. " Originally the site of a depdt and trading
establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company, it has, under
the 'influence of the neighbouring gold regions, become a
place of considerable importance."
" Being a free port, it puts no restraint on commerce, but
admits without duty, and burthened with but few charges, all
the necessaries of life. As has been previously stated, the
site is an admirable one, the only drawback being the com
parative inadequacy of the harbour. A sweep of level land
broken by a few ravines rises gently to a moderate elevation
from the rocks which bound the harbour.
" The soil is partly clay and partly gravel: the objections
to the former can be readily obviated by drainage, for which
the sloping declivities on every side afford great facilities.
Starting from the corner of Fort and Government Streets as a
centre, with a radius of three-quarters of a mile, the plan of
the town describes two-thirds of a circle stretching round the
harbour. The streets, which have boarded footpaths on each
side, are sixty feet in width, and conveniently laid off, crossing
each other at right angles."
The bulk of the buildings is of wood, but the good substantial brick buildings cannot count less than a hundred, including the Hudson's Bay Company's stores, which are very commodious, and a hotel of gigantic proportions, built during the
summer of 1862—a building that would do credit to the best
town in England.
The Bank of British North America is built of grey granite,
which is found on the island.
A few speculating persons realize a considerable income by
small wooden shanties, which they had built and let to labouring men at from four to six dollars per month—money in advance. They are put up at a very light expense, one year's
rent amounting to double the original cost.
A Frenchman in Victoria owned 60 of these shanties, each
,of which he let at six dollars, or twenty-five shillings
month.    His  income  from this source
hundred pounds a-year.
k2 The stores, the shopa* the hotels, and restaurants weuld
many xff them grace a town of fifty instead of five years/
There were 64 public-houses in Victoria, some of which
were rented at £300 a-year.
" There are numerous churches and school-houses belonging to Christians of nearly all denominations, and are thus
represented in Vancouver Island, viz,, Church of England,
Church of Rome, Wesleyan, Congregational, Presbyterian,
and Hebrew. The Episcopalian Churches are each under the
superintendence of a Bishop, with efficient staffs of parochial
and missionary clergy.
The Hebrew community has many members.
"A collegiate school for boys and a ladies* college have
been established in Victoria—the former conducted by eletgy*
men, men of high scholastic attainments, the latter by ladies*
devoted to their important duties.
f The Roman Catholic Church has, under the direction of
the Bishop, a very efficient system of schools.
" A girls' school, presided over by sisters of charity* was
established in 1858, and a hoys' school was opened ips the
following year. Sunday schools are conducted by ladies and
teachers members of the different churches,
| The literary productions of the colony were limited to two
daily newspapers, which have each & weekly as well as a daily
issue. The prices charged are—for the daily £2* for the
weekly £1 4s. per annum.
h There is an hospital for the relief of the sick, and a
charitable institution supported by the French residents.
" An hospital, originating in the benevolent exertions of
the chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company and the police
magistrate of Victoria, was established temporarily ift a small
building in the town of Victoria in the year 1858. In the
summer of the following year a building, capable of providing
accommodation for twenty patients, was erected by His Excellency the Governor, at an expense of between £4QQ and
ft The institution thus established is supported by subscriptions and donations, and is under the management of a committee elected annually by the subscribers, the medical care
and supervision being vested in one or other of the resident 1M
practitioners in Victoria, who alternately ta%e monthly charge.
" A hook and ladder company has been formed to stay the
scourge of fire. A small but very efficient police force has
been established," and in the winter of 1862 I had the pleasure
of witnessing the introduction of gas into the town. One great
drawback to Victoria was the want of good water on the spot:
there were a few draw-wells in the place, but the water from
them was brakish. The principal supply was brought from a
distance in carts at a considerable expense. It was confidently
hoped, however, that this great defect would soon be removed,
as a water company was in course of formation, and an abundant supply <af pure spring water could be obtained within
three miles -of the city, which it was proposed to convey
through wooden pipes.
*" Several shipbuilding yards have been established in the
harbour, and many small river steamers bave been launched.
!** A foundry also supplies the wants of the community, and
affords means of repair to the machinery of coast and ocean
*' Among the public places of amusement may be mentioned
a neat tittle theatre and lyceum. A library, associated with a
literary institute, was spoken of,
- *T4ie athletee have a gymnasium, and the admirers of horse-
racing enjoy their favourite sport on a beautiful race-course
wftriefe runs round Beacon Hill, a promontory overlooking the
sea, about a mile from the town.
" The Government buildings—structures of brick in a frame,
work of wood—ere situated on the south side of J ames' Bay,
near the Governor's residence. They comprise a central
building, with treasury and land office, court-house, and
register office appended.
**"Tbe only other edifices are the jail and police offices, built
of seKd stone work.
*H/he Government of Vancouver Island is vested in a
Governor appointed by the Queen in a Legislative Council
and House of Assembly.
"The Legislative Council is composed of five members
nominated by the Governor.
*4 The House of Assembly, at the time I speak of, consisted
of thirteen members, elected by registered voters.
The following list will show the areas in square miles of the
x8 134
towns and districts returning members, with the number ot
voters in each :—•
No. of
Victoria Town    3 square miles    331          2
District   12
Esquimalt Town     1
„        District  21
Nanaimo  80
Lake District   25
Saanich     37
Snooke      25
t Spring Island  95
I The House of Assembly, presided over by a speaker, is
elected triennially. A colonial secretary and a colonial treasurer preside over special departments. An attorney-general,
a registrar-general, and clerk of the writs complete the staff.
" The Judiciary of the colony dates from an order in council
of 4th of April, 1856, when Her Majesty did constitute a
Supreme Court of Civil Justice of the Colony of Vancouver
Island, with a Chief Justice of said Court, a Registrar of said
Court, and a Sheriff of Vancouver Island/' And Her Majesty
did further authorise and empower the said Supreme Court to
approve and admit Barristers and Solicitors, the former to be
members of the Inns of Court of England and Ireland, or advocates in the Quarter Sessions of Scotland, &c, &c.
" By patent from the Governor, the functions of the Chief
Justice are extended to criminal matters.
" The common law of England is in force, as were also the
statutary laws, up to the time a Legislative Council and Assembly were given.
" There are two branches of the Supreme Court, viz., the
Supreme Court and the Summary or Inferior Court: the former
has original jurisdiction in all matters involving the recovery
of a'sum exceeding fifty pounds, with an appellate jurisdiction from its inferior branch to an amount of £50; the inferior
branch has an original jurisdiction in all matters up to £50. i
The Chief Justice also acts under patent from the Governor
as Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court of Vancouver Island.
" There is a police magistrate, with an efficient constabulary force. Four or five persons hold commissions as Justices
of the Peace, whose duties are confined to Victoria and Esquimalt. There is also one for Nanaimo, and one for Barclay
Sound. 135
There are three practising barristers, and four practisin
" Taking into consideration the nature of the population of
Vancouver, varying as it does through every degree of civilization from savage life upwards, and amongst representatives of
nearly every nationality under the sun, it would not be a matter
of surprise if the statistics of crime in a colony so situated
were found to be large in their relative proportions. But
these statistics show a smaller amount of crime than might
have been anticipated.
The charges before the police magistrate resolve themselves
into the following categories, viz., misdemeanours, common
assaults, assault with weapons, larceny, desertion, recovery of
wages, selling spirits to the Indians.* " In the year 185&
the charges under these heads were 1,048 ; of these, 832 were
convicted, 216 acquitted. In the year 1860 charges were 758,
convictions 548, acquittals 210. In 1861 up to June there
were 399 charges, 306 convictions, and 93 acquittals.
An examination of the calendar shows that the crimes
brought for trial to the assizes were murder, larceny, perjury,
burglary, and obtaining goods on false pretences.
From November, 1860, to November, 1861, the cases tried
of all classes numbered 51; of these, 18 were convicted,
sentence of death being in no case carried into execution
during that period—the severest sentences being 18 months'
and two years' imprisonment, with hard labour; 33 cases were
discharged either through acquittal or no prosecution.
" Capital commands a high rate of interest: 18 to 25 per
cent, per annum can be obtained on the best securities.
" The great want of capital is shown by the fact that, on
one occasion, Government requiring money, even on such
security, it could only be obtained at the rate of 24 per cent.
per annum for four months.
" The interest of money and increased value of investments
in property have, since 1858, realized from 15 to 30 per cent.
per annum.
" Both English and American coin is current in Vancouver
Island and British Columbia. Public feeling is strongly in
favour of a decimal currency.    Accounts are kept in dollars
*A heavy penalty is inflicted on publicans for supplying Indians xith
spirits, and on white men for procuring it for them. 136
and cents, by wholesale, as well as retail dealers, Government
alone keeping accounts in £ s. d."
The matter was under consideration when I left Victoria,
and in all probability the Government has since adopted the
decimal system. There is no copper coin in circulation in
these parts, and the smallest silver coin is a Bit, as the dime
is denominated, which is ten cents, or fivepence. The English
sixpence is likewise termed a " Bit." A shilling represents a
quarter dollar.
" Cariboo coarse dust is sold in Victoria at from fifteen
dollars and a-half to seventeen dollars and a-half per ounce.
" The finest of all has been found in Lightning and Nelson
Creeks, averaging eighteen dollars and a-half in the bar.
" Discounting is not in fashion with the bankers of Victoria. The exchange business is chiefly with San Francisco.
Drafts on Portland Oregon (U.S.), are also frequently in
demand. United States drafts are frequently in the market,
and can be bought at a discount of 2 to 5 per cent. Government and navy bills are sold at from 1 per cent, discount to 1
per cent, premium, and remitted to England. They form the
basis of nearly all the exchange required. Coin is wanted for
both these descriptions of exchange ; it is scarce, as it can
generally be better employed in buying gold dust. Drafts on
Portland and San Francisco.
" The Bank of British North America receives deposits, for
which a charge is made of one-fourth per cent, per month.
"It draws on the principal commercial places in Canada
and in Europe, issues notes of exchange, and discounts a
little, but does not buy gold dust or bars.
" There is one other banking establishment—M'Donald
and Co.—doing business in much the same way, but purchasing gold dust and bars, drawing on San Francisco and
The House of Wells, Fargo, and Co., in Victoria, do a
banking and exchange business. They buy and sell exchanges, and gold in bars, drawing on San Francisco, and
other principal places."
The rates of wages were high, but the great influx of emigrants  was giving them a downward tendency.    Shoeing"
smiths, joiners, and house-carpenters  were in greatest de~
rhand; their wages were from  12s. 6d. to  16s. 8d. a-day
•The Bank of British Columbia was established subsequently. 137
Shipwrights and stone-cutters, 20s. a-day; labourers' wages,
4s. 2d. to 6s. 3d. a-day. The cost of shoeing a horse is twelve
shillings and sixpence
The price of provisions in Victoria, in the year 1862, was,
as near as I can remember, as follows :—Beef, from 8d. to Is.
per lb.; mutton, Is.; pork, Is.; veal, Is.; potatoes (in the
shops), 1^-d. per lb.; of the Indians, about 14 lbs. for a
quarter dollar, or one shilling and a halfpenny ;* onions, 7-^-d.
per lb.; flour, 2£d. per lb.; oatmeal (American), 6d. per lb.;
venison, 4d. per lb. Sometimes a whole deer can be bought
of the Indians for 4s. 2d.
Flesh meat was higher than in the preceding year, owing
to the previous unusual hard winter, which effected the wholesale destruction of the cattle. They were found dead in the
woods in all directions, and were devoured (many of them in
a putrid state) by the Indians, who said they never lived so
well in all their lives, and went about shouting " Hi -you,
Muck-a-Muck." The word Hi-you means plenty—abundance—great quantity. Muck-a-Muck means something to
Groceries, &c.—Tea, 2s. 6d. per lb. ; coffee, Is. 6d. ;
sugar, hard, 9d.; moist, 4d. and 5d. per lb.; butter (Califor-
nian), 2s. Id. per lb.; butter raised on the island, 4s. 2d. per
lb.; cheese, Is. 6d. to 2s.; eggs in summer, 3s. per dozen;
in winter, 6s. per dozen ; milk in summer, 3d. per pint; in
winter, 6d, per pint; bacon (American), 9d. to Is. per lb.;
English, Is. 6d. per lb ; pearl barley, 4d. ; rice, 5d. per lb.;
bermetrically-scaled tins of preserved beef, mutton, fowl, &c,
containing 2 lbs. each, Is. 6d. ; pickles, Is. 6d. per bottle ;
molasses (treacle), 6d. per pint. Fish of excellent quality
can always be procured at a cheap rate, and oysters in abundance are found in the creeks in the immediate neighbour-
The Indians capture the salmon, and hawk them in the
streets. A salmon, from 6 to 8 lbs. weight, can be bought
for 6d.; and when the supply is extra good one 20 lbs.
weight can be purchased for a quarter dollar. The market is
usually well supplied with wine, beer, and spirits, which are
sold at moderate rates. Publicans realize large profits, each
of the above-named articles being sixpence per glass.
♦The Indians refuse all coin tfhat does not bear the impress of the
American Eagle. £K
There are two small ale breweries in Victoria.
" Materials for housebuilding are  plentiful  and   cheap;
lumber costs £3 to £3 10s. per 1,000 feel?; bricks, from £l
10s. to £1 15s. a thousand.    Lime and sand in abundance:
the former costs 2s. a bushel.
A convenient comfortable house to accommodate six persons
can be built for from £100 to £150. Of course, for a smaller
family proportionate fractional sums. Six-roomed houses or
neat cottages, with all convenient out-houses, built of wood
and plastered, cost, according to style, from £200 to £400.
Of sandstone and brick, at an increased expense of one-fourth;
of brick alone, one-third more.
" House rents are high, 18 to 24 per cent, per annum being
the usual rate of interest for brick buildings; 40 to 50 per
cent, for wooden structures."
The Hudson's Bay Company carry on an, extensive wholesale and retail business in Victoria. Their merchandise
consists, of ales, wines, spirits, draperies, groceries, crockery,
hardware, cutlery, firearms; every variety of gentlemen's
wearing apparel, mechanics' tools of every description; indeed, it would be difficult to mention any. article in common
use they do not deal in. But the most profitable branch of
their traffic is with the Indians in the fur trade; from this
source has sprung the immense wealth of the Hudson's Bay
The following paragraph, taken from an article which appeared in one of the Victoria papers, will give an idea of the
immense profits derived from these skins supplied by the
Indians :—
I Three martin-skins are obtained for a coarse knife, the
utmost value of which, including the* expense of conveying it
to those distant regions, cannot be estimated at more than
sixpence, and three of these skins were sold last January in
London for five guineas. With the more expensive furs, such
as the black fox or sea-otter, the profit is more than tripled;
and but a few years ago a single skin of the former species was
sold for fifty guineas, while the native obtained in exchange
the value of two shillings."
One of the company's vessels, The Princess Royal, a fine
craft of five or six hundred tons burthen, is constantly engaged
conveying skins from Victoria to London, returning with a
general cargo. 139
A ptfddle steamer, belonging the company, is nayigated
along the coast and on the rivers of the Continent, for the
; purpose of collecting these skins, and the crew of the vessel
■ is frequently exposed to great danger from the Indians.
On one occasion, during the summer of 1862, the captain
and his men had an adventure with the savages, which was
narrated to me as follows:—" While they were at anchor in
one of the rivers a large number of hostile Indians came down
', upon them, threatening instant destruction to them, and to
accomplish their design conceived the bright idea of turning
the steamer upside down to drown the white men.    .Tliey accordingly arranged themselves in their canoes on one side of the
• vessel, and seizing the paddle wheel, or any part where they
| could secure hand-hold, applied their united strength, the only
| result being a very narrow escape to several of them from
'drowning in their futile attempts to capsize her.    The engineer
regretted that he had no steam or he would, he said, have set
bis nick-nacks a-going and. spang-hewed the red-skin'i devils."
Thev had great difficultvin ridding themselves of the savages.
The want of female domestic servants was greatly felt in
[Victoria, Chinamen* and other men acting in the capacity of
house servants.    However, in the autumn of 1862, this inconvenience wai relieved to some extent; three or four vessels
from England, which sailed round by Cape Horn, landed on
the shores of Vancouver a considerable number of females.
One of these vessels, sent out by the London Emigration
Society, brought 63 young women, whose ages ranged from
s 20 to 35.
An old building, belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company,
was fitted up for their reception as a temporary residence, and
they were made as comfortable as circumstances would permit.
The arrival of those girls was anticipated several months, and
formed the main topic of conversation; and on the first inti-
| mation of the approach of the vessel with its fair freight the
inhabitants were at once on the tip-toe of expectation, and
turned out en masse to witness the disembarkation. This
was quite an event to the Victorians.
■ 'Numbers of Chinamen occupy themselves with washing and ironing
and make an excellent living. Nearly all the washing is done in Victoria
by Chinamen; thay appear to be an exceedingly industrious race of men.
The cost of washing a shirt is a shilling; a pair of socks, an under flannel,
a collar, a handkerchief, or any such like little thing, cost sixpence each
washing. tx^awSSM'SJuMm
The. whole of these young women were clean and tidy;
many of them were good-looking, and all presented quite a
"respectable appearance, and in the majority of cases their
future conduct did not belie that supposition. There were,
however, a few black sheep in the flock, whom, I am sorry to
• say, entered upon a disreputable course of life.
In the course of a few days after their arrival the majority •
of these young women obtained good situations. A few had
offers of marriage, and entered upon the matrimonial state,
which, I believe with one exception, proved happy .unions..
A publican in Victoria took unto himself one of them for a
wife, when three weeks >after their marriage, to his utter
astonishment and dismay, his spouse presented him with a
fine healthy hoy.
Besides the 63 females, this ship brought a numbei of male
passengers, one of whom I became well acquainted with.
He told me that the excellent regulations of the vessel were
carried out to the very letter. Unlike the Yankee ships,
abominable arrangements, the male passengers were made to
occupy one part of the vessel, and the females the other ; and
under no circumstances whatever were the two sexes allowed
to associate, or even speak to each other.
The Archdeacon more than -once intimated to me that he was
positive I would do wetiia Victoria if my wife and family were
settled out there, and urged me to send for them. He was
connected with the London Emigration Society, and through
bis influence I could have brought them out for fifty pounds.
But they would have had to sail round Cape Horn—a six
months* voyage of 20,000 miles—which would have been a
serious undertaking for a woman with several young children.
Had I been with them the case would have been different.
But to expose them to suck a serious amount of privation unprotected was a thing I could not agree to ; and I. therefore,
came to the conclusion, that as " the mountain could not go
to Mahomet, Mahomet would go to the mountain." Accordingly, on the 6th of March, 1863, I parted with all my friend* —bid adieu to Vancouver Island and British Columbia, in alt
human probability for ever, and sailed in the steamship Pacific-
for San Frar cisco.
When I turned my back upon the country, it was with a
strange mixture of .feelings which I cannot describe. That
was certainly a stage on which I had witnessed some mar-v
vellous performances, and the few preceding months was a
period of my life replete with incidents which will ever stand
out in my memory in bold relief.
We had a rough but quick passage, occupying only between
three and four days. In consequence of an opposition line of
boats having commenced running between San Francisco and
New York, the fare was reduced to fifty dollars.
The opposition steamers were the Moses Taylor for the
Pacific side, and the American for the Atlantic side.
They took the Nicaragua route, where the Isthmus is crossed
St few hundred miles higher up the Pacific than Panama.
There is no railway, but several hundred mules are in readiness to convey the passengers across the Isthmus. The
Amerwm, while on her passage to New York, encountered a
severe gale off Cape Hatteras, and barely escaped shipwreck,
the details of which will be entered into in due course. Like
many others, I felt disposed to patronise the opposition; but
not being in good health, the fear of delay which would take
place on the Isthmus deterred me-—besides, the fare was the
same in both. I, therefore, took my passage in the steamship
Sonora, belonging to the Old (Vanderbilt) Line, which sailed
on the 12th of March. The opposition boat sailed on the day
previous. We had on board the Sanora 400 passengers, only
about half-a-dozen of whom were Englishmen. Amongst
these few Englishmen I recognised one William Anthony, of
Clay Cross, Derbyshire, with whom I became acquainted on
board the Brother Jonathan, while on our outward voyage
between San Francisco and Vancouver Island. From the
first moment we met a great amount of sympathy appeared to
exist between as.
Anthony bad left a wife and seven children, and I had left
a wife and the same number of children. He regretted leaving his family, and I regretted leaving mine, which subject
formed the main topic of our conversation, and which may
account for the reciprocal feeling.
Often when we were discoursing about our wives and chil- 142
dren, I observed a tear glisten in his eye, which betrayed a
sentiment I greatly admire, and which gave me an involuntary
liking for him. After landing on Vancouver Island I saw no
more of him until we met on board the Sonora at San Francisco. He was unsuccessful in the gold-digging speculation,
and had worked in the Nanaimo coal mines until he accumulated sufficient money to pay his passage home. Another of
the Englishmen was Mr. Cotton, an elderly gentleman, a resident of Leicester. Although he was 74 years of age, he looked
many years younger—was hale, hearty, and weighed seventeen
stones. He was the picture of good health, and we often remarked that he had every appearance of living to be a hundred
years old. He was of an exceedingly cheerful disposition—an
agreeable companion, and was, consequently, a great favourite
with all the passengers.
He had been out in the United States, and at the Califor-
nian gold mines for 22 years, and was now returning to spend
the remainder of his days with his friends at home. Bat the
sequel will show how uncertain are all human anticipations.
Passing down the Pacific Coast, we noticed, with melancholy
interest, the spot where the ill-fated steamer Golden Gale was
destroyed by fire, and so many lives sacrificed.
We found that the Mexican fortifications at Acapulca had
been destroyed by the French war ships, and that a great portion of Aspinwall had been destroyed by fire.
The steamer Northern Light was in readiness at Aspinwall
to convey us to New York. Our homeward voyage was rather
barren of events. One or two incidents, however, took place,
which may not be without interest.
I had almost forgotten to notice a popular error that exists
respecting the twilight in the tropics.
It has been frequently asserted by travellers that about the
West India Islands there is no twilight—that darkness prevails immediately after sunset. This is fallacious, and ought
to be rectified. Probably the twilight in the tropics is of
shorter duration than it is in northern latitudes ; but the
difference is not such as to attract particular notice.
All went smoothly on for a few days after leaving Aspinwall, and no fears were entertained, except from the danger
of falling in with the Alabama, whioh was known to be cruising about.
Every piece of canvas that appeared above the horizon was 143
deemed to be certainly the Alabama, and great excitement
prevailed among the passengers.
It was whispered that our captain had special reasons for
fearing an encounter with the Alabama.
The Confederates owed him a debt, he was no way anxious
to see them discharge. It was said that some ten months
previous he had captured and destroyed a Confederate trading vessel—a fact the captain of the Alabama was cognizant
of, and promised to hang him on the yard arm the first time
they met. I cannot vouch for the truth of this story; but
certain it is that our captain betrayed considerable anxiety.
He carried no lights during the night time, and took us
round the west coast of Cuba, which was several hundred
miles out of the usual course. Day and night he sat on the
hurricane deck, carefully scanning the horizon until we neared
the blockade squadron, which seemed to greatly relieve his
anxiety. We. did not all participate in the alarm of the
captain, knowing from report that Captain Semmes never
interfered with the passengers or their property. Our only
apprehension was, that we might have been placed on some
of the West India Islands, and there left to find our way home
as best we could, which would have been extremely annoying
to those of us whose means were almost exhausted. However, we never came in contact with the Alabama, a circumstance we did not regret. When off Cape Hatteras, on the
east coast of North Carolina, we encountered a gale of unusual severity. During forty-eight hours the sea ran mountains high, presenting the appearance of a vast caldron of
boiling soap-suds, our vessel playing at pitch and toss with a
vengeance. No one could live on deck during a considerable
portion of the storm, so terrific was the wind, and all passengers were kept below. It is difficult to convey to the mind of
others an adequate conception of a storm at sea—it must be
seen to be comprehended.
Ever and anon, the ship is struck by a mighty wave, with
the force of a thousand sledge hammers, driving the water in
tons together over her decks, and sending her reeling, and
creeking, and groaning, as though she was about to suffer
'nstant annihilation. The clanking of chains—the thundering
noise of loose articles flying about the decks in all directions
—the wind bellowing—the sea roaring—women screaming—
children crying—some   praying—the   captain   bolloahing— 144
sailors cursing and swearing—produce altogether a seen*
of indescribable and dire confusion.
One of the most amusing things in the world (providing
you are not at dinner yourself), is to watch other people eating
on board ship during rough weather. If the vessel were going
to the bottom of the sea next minute, one could scarcely avoid
laughing to see them dodging their dinner plates—trying in
vain to catch them, as sometimes for several minutes they
effectually evade every attempt to seize them, by slipping
about on the table in all directions with amazing velocity, and
are only prevented from flying off into space by a high ledge
that runs round the edge of the table. Every now and then,
while everybody is busily occupied in trying to keep himself
right end up, and having succeeded in capturing his or her
runaway dinner, is endeavouring to find the way to his or her
mouth with a piece of meat on the end of a fork, the ship
gives a sudden lurch, and the whole of the plates, with their
contents, dart bodily off the table, performing all manners of
antics on the deck, leaving the perplexed and disappointed
owners staring at them with astonishment. Immediately
afterwards she gives a worse lurch still, and away go beef
and pudding, pea-soup and biscuits, pepper, mustard, and
salt, men, women, and children .(thoroughly mixed together),
to the opposite side of the vessel.
On board these emigrant vessels there is always a considerable amount of business done in the drinking line; and rough
weather affords the tippler a rare opportunity to indulge over
his cup to any extent, without fear of detection; for the rolling
and pitching of the ship causes everybody to stagger about,
so that it is utterly impossible for any one to tell who is drunk,
or who is sober. In this respect, a stormy sea hides a molttr
tude of sins.
Our ship braved the storm splendidly. Captain, officers,
and men all did their duty "in the most praiseworthy manner.
The captain, who was a Dutchman and a trustworthy man,
never left his post during the severity of the storm.
We came out unscathed, and landed at New York on the
4th of April. Being a few hours too late for the Liverpool
steamer, we were obliged to remain in New York till the following Saturday. The passengers of the opposition boat
having the advantage of a twenty-four hours' start, and seven
hundred miles shorter route, ought to have reached New York 145
three days before us; but they did not arrive till the following
Wednesday, when the American put in an appearance in a
very disabled condition ; wheel-house, pantries, galley, water-
closets, ^and bulwarks had been swept off the deck, and she
bad three feet of water in her hold. She had been some two
hundred miles in our rear, exposed to the most furious part of
the storm, and had had a miraculous escape.
We sailed for Liverpool on the 11th, in the screw-steamer
City of Washington, and soon discovered that we had on
board several passengers who had been in the American.
One of them was a gentleman named Scott, and from him I
learnt the particulars of the proceedings on board the American
while the storm was raging. The following is given in his
own words :—Mr, Scott said, " I have been a seafaring man
and a captain for 22 years, and been thrice shipwrecked, but
never saw death so clearly staring me in the face. There
were three ship captains on board, besides myself, as passengers. We held a consultation, and came to the conclusion
that it was utterly impossible for the vessel to survive the
storm. The scene was truly heartrending, parents and children clinging around each other, expecting every moment to
go down. Horror was depicted on almost every countenance ;
some were wringing their hands in despair; others were calling
in a loud voice upon the Almighty to save them. A few took
what they considered a philosophical view of the matter—
saying that, if they were to be drowned, they might as well
take it quietly, and stretched themselves on their bunks to
await events.
One young woman had the foolhardiness to commence
dancing, remarking that as people could only die once, it
might as well take place now as at any other time."
Mr. Scott went on to say—" We had a French gentleman
on board, 72 years of age, who, in the early part of his life,
had been an officer in the French Army, and was second in
oqmmand with the Old Emperor Napoleon. He was covered
with scars, and had evidently seen some active service. He
owned a Banch (Farm) in California, which he purchased for
thirty thousand pounds, and was now on his way to New York
to visit some friends. Expecting every moment to go down,
the French gentleman addressed me in the following terms :
' Scott, you perceive that I carry about with me proofs of hard
fighting.    I was in* the thickest of it at the battle of Waterloo, jjasfc-IW
where balls were showered upon us as thick as hail, and men
falling by scores every minute. I have been in many a severe
engagement besides that at Waterloo, and having survived
them all, I must now be drowned in this old tub. Is it not
provoking?' He then deliberately drew from his pock«t a
loaded revolver, and cocked it. ' What are you going to do
with the revolver ?' I inquired. ' Blow my brains out,' coolly
replied the Frenchman, ' the moment I see the ship is going
down.' * For God's sake, sir, don't do that—it would be
suicide.' ' Not a bit of it,' said he. * Of course, I will not do
it until I see clearly she is going, but as I feel no inclination
to have my sufferings prolonged for a quarter of an hour by
floundering in the sea, I most decidedly mean to settle the
matter in this way'—and he grasped the pistol firmly in his
hand with a fixed determination.
We distinctly saw the mighty mountain of a wave swiftly
approaching, which we were certain would engulf us; but
miracle of miracles, the old water-logged craft scrambled over
it, and we were saved."
When Mr. Scott narrated to me this stirring incident, his
voice faltered with deep emotion.
One calm afternoon, while crossing the banks of Newfoundland, we experienced a sudden change in the temperature of
,the atmosphere. I inquired of a sailor how he accounted for
the weather becoming so suddenly cold? "Ah, you smell
him," said he. " Smell him," I said; " Smell who ?" " That
gentleman over the way," he replied"—at the same time directing my attention towards the northern horizon. I looked up
and perceived an immense iceberg about twelve miles distant.
It presented a front of more than a mile in extent, and an elevation of about 20 feet above the surface; therefore, its total
thickness would be about 60 feet.
The sun was shining upon it at the time, and it formed an
imposing spectacle.
One morning when we were about in the middle of the
Atlantic out old friend, Mr. Cotton, while lying in his bunk
called William Anthony and me to him and told us he had
taken a trembling fit, and felt very ill indeed. We each took
one of our blankets and wrapped him well up—procured for
him some hot coffee, and used every means in our power to
induce perspiration, but failed. . We then applied to the
doctor, who immediately waited upon him and administered
medicinej and everything was done that medical skill could 147
devise, but his efforts were of no avail. The poor old gentleman gradually sank, and expired about noon on the 20th of
April, within four days' sail of England. His death cast a
deep gloom over all the ship. Contrary to the usual custom
(which is to sew the body up in canvas) the captain ordered a.
strong coffin to be made; a quantity of old metal was placed
inside with the corpse,
several auger holes made through
the coffin to facilitate its- sinking.
ALfter the body was screwed down, it was placed in the
carpenter's shop, with the ensign flag thrown over it, and the
Union Jack fluttered half-mast high.
At seven in the evening the dead bell tolled—a procession
was formed, and the coffin carried by the seamen on their
shoulders from the stem to the stern of the vessel, and was
placed on the bulwark ready for buriil. In presence of the
ship's company the captain read the funeral service in a solemn
and impressive manner, and the body was committed to the
Casting our eyes astern of the vessel, we perceived the
coffin, which we were rapidly leaving behind, in a perpendicular position, bounding up and down in the waves—sinking
a little lower at every plunge till eventually the restless billows
closed over it; and the remains of poor Mr, Cotton were fcr
ever hidden from mortal view.
Many an eye was bedimmed with tears, for it seemed hard
indeed, after an absenee of so many years, and after having
travelled so many thousand miles, to be swept off the stage of
life and buried in the sea so near to his home. Such is life,
and such is death*
We put in at Queenstown to land passengers, and after a
short delay resumed our voyage.
Never shall I forget the pleasurable emotions many of us
experienced when we first dimly beheld the English cliffs on
the distant horizon.
At two o'clock on Friday morning, the 24th of April, we
drew up to the wharf at the Liverpool docks, and on the day
following I reached my home with the evening train, and will
not attempt to describe the meeting with my family. Suffice
it to say, that more tears were shed than at parting ; and when
I took a retrospective view of my gold-hunting adventure I
felt in all its force the truth of the old adage—
Aeteb having witnessed so great an amount of disappointment
and suffering, I cannot conscientiously recommend any one to
emigrate to British Columbia for the purpose of gold-digging;
and especially I would urge those who have not been accustomed to hard manual labour not to entertain the notion for a
Among the crowds of disappointed men who thronged the
streets of Victoria were seen sons of independent gentlemen,
attorneys and   bankers'   clerks,  doctors,   chemists,  drapers,
grocers, notaries, lawyers, magistrates, officers of the army!
and navy, and many others of the same stamp.
Of all the different classes of men who emigrate to British'
Columbia those just enumerated are by far the greatest sufferers, because after their money has vanished, being incompetent to perform skilled labour, they are left in a state of
wretchedness no language can describe.
The most fatal mistake this class of men can make is to go
gold-hunting. They are not only incapable of doing hard
work, but have been by far too delicately reared to bear the
privations and hardships consequent upon a gold-digger's life.
It is utterlj7, useless for men of weak constitution or feeble
powers of endurance to attempt the expedition to the Cariboo
Some few of the hardships which are inseparably connected;
with it, in addition to struggling over the four hundred miles
of mountain travel, and doing the hardest labour that mortal-
man ever engaged in, are these, viz., to go without food sometimes for two or three days at a stretch, as it not unfrequently
happens that provisions run out, and cannot be had at any
price—to work all day standing up to the knees in snow water
cold as ice itself, and drenched through with the constant dripping of water from the rocks above—to sleep in your wet
clothes with mother earth for your only pillow, and the blue
vault of heaven for your only blanket; or if you have the
privilege of undressing to sleep in your tent, next morning
when you rise, instead of having your trousers dry and comfortable, you rear them' on end, and find they will stand erect 149
without assistance, simply because they are frozen as stiff as
though they had been made of cast metal; and of course you
must encase yourself in them in that condition. This (and
such is this) is the Cariboo daily bill of fare.
I venture to assert that if people had the least conception of
the extreme hardships and difficulties that must be encountered, combined with so small a chance of success, few, indeed,
would risk a trip to Cariboo.
But as it is characteristic of the Englishman never to be
happy except when he is miserable, some, no doubt, will
persist in going there; and to them the few following hints
may be of service :—
We would recommend intending emigrants not to encumber
themselves with more extra wearing apparel than can be conveniently stowed away in a moderately-sized carpet bag ; and
let it be confined to under-clothing, except a good top-coat,
which will be found exceedingly useful during some portions
of the voyage.
All luggage above 30 lbs. weight is charged fivepence per
lb. transit across the Isthmus of Panama; and clothing can
be purchased in Victoria nearly as cheap as in England.
The New York and Panama route is preferable to the
Southampton and Panama route. A regular line of steamers
is established between New York and San Francisco, thus
causing no delay, which is an important consideration, seeing
that the Isthmus of Panama is almost, without exception, the
most unhealthy part of the world; besides, the fare is considerably less by the New York route, The steamers on the
Southampton line terminate their voyage at Aspinwall; consequently, the passengers are left on the Isthmus until they
arc taken up by one of the boats connected with the New York
line, after a delay of from one to nine days, whieh is attended
with serious risk to health. Besides, it is expensive; each
meal costs a dollar, and a bed the same for each night. The
want of a regular steamboat communication between England
and Vancouver Island has long been felt. The establishment
of that line has been for some time in agitation, and should it
be effected, the Southampton route will then be preferred by
all Englishmen, as the accommodation on board the American
vessels is so extremely poor.
Delicious fruit being exceedingly plentiful and cheap at
Aspinwall and Panama, the temptation to partake of it is
£3 ■uaKA' V
But the eating of fruit should be carefully avoided, as there
is great danger of its creating bowel complaints, which bring
on the Panama fever—a most fatal disease. Intoxicating
drinks should be used very sparingly, or what is better,
entirely dispensed with. To live temperately both as regards
meat and drink, during a sea voyage in a tropical climate, is
a matter of the utmost importance.
When the emigrant reaches Vancouver Island it is advisable, whether he possesses money or not, to accept the first
offer that may present itself for employment, and give himself
time to look around and see what is best to be done.
It is a fatal mistake for a person to rush into any business
speculation, immediately on his arrival in a new country,
before he has had the opportunity of ascertaining the real
state of things. I would recommend him, after he has been
in the colony a few months, should he possess a little money,
to turn his attention to the cultivation of land, or enter into
some business he may consider the most suitable, which will
afford him a much better chance of success than precarious
But should he persist in trying his luck at the mines, then
I would tender the following advice :—
Form a company, say of six, and have, if possible, at least
one in the company who has already a knowledge of gold
mining. It is a mistake to suppose that because no one
knows where the gold is deposited, an inexperienced man has
an equal chance of success with the experienced gold-digger.
In prospecting, for instance, the novice, while washing a pan
of dirt, will, in all probability, throw away half the gold it
contains unconsciously, and pronounce the claim useless;
whereas, an experienced panner will save every particle of the
precious metal, and see at once that the claim will pay.
Besides, in constructing and fixing the apparatus, '.and working the claim, the experienced man must in the very nature of
things have an immense advantage over the inexperienced one.
If the company possess sufficient funds, I would recommend
it by all means to purchase two or three mules, and load them
with provision up to the mines.
The advantage of this plan will be at once apparent.
Flour can be bought in Victoria for 2d. per lb., and at the
mines it is worth from 4s. to 6s. per lb. Sufficient grass is
found on the route for the mules, and at Cariboo the animals 161
can be sold for as much as they cost; therefore, instead of
paying 5s. or 6s. per lb., it costs only twopence.
If the party have not the means to purchase'mules, nor
money sufficient to take them all to Cariboo, I would strongly
recommend them to adopt the following plan :—
Let three of the strongest and most active'of the'party be
selected to go up to the mines to prospect, and let the other
three remain below, and procure employment if possible—live
carefully, and save all the money they can. If the three
prospectors ore successful, then the whole party can go up
the following season and work the claim. If the contrary,
then, when they return to Victoria, they find that their friends
have money, and something for them to eat, and consequently
they suffer no inconvenience. But should they all'go to the
mines together and be unsuccessful, they return starving and
.paupers, and terrible may Be their condition—the chance of
employment being much less in winter than in summer.
In preparing the outfit for Cariboo, I would 6trongly advise
them to confine their wardrobe to very small dimensions ; and
especially if what they take has to be carried on their backs,
every ounce of weight is then a consideration.
In addition to the wearing apparel they have in use/the
following articles will be quite sufficient, viz., one pair, of
thick, coloured blankets, one pair of stout trousers, two
woollen shirts, three pairs of worsted stockings, one pair of
strong laced- up navvy boots, and a canvas tent to accommodate six persons, which will weigh seven pounds, and cost
about twenty shillings. A knowledge of the necessary cooking apparatus to take is easily arrived at in Victoria.
Nothing in the shape of work-tools should be taken, except
a prospecting pan; it is light of carriage, and exceedingly
useful for making dough in, and forms an excellent dish for
beans and bacon. Work tools may always be had of disappointed men at the diggings at a cheap rate.
A person may travel from Victoria to Cariboo (providing
he walks all the distance from Douglas) for £15 pretty comfortably. We did it for a quarter of that amount, but then
we hall starved ourselves.
Care should be taken not to walk too great a distance in one
day. This is an error the great majority fall into; being under
the influence of the golden magnet, they rush away at a terrific
pace until they out-do their physical capabilities, and the con-
* 152
sequences are, that some die on the road; hundreds break
down, and never see Cariboo; and many of those who reach
their destination are so much reduced in physical strength
that they are quite incapable of doing justice to the mines,
and consequently their object is defeated.
Do not exceed fifteen miles a-day for the first few days,
then gradually increase the distance to not more than.twenty-
five miles. Go about it coolly, quietly, and calmly—take
every care of yourselves, and husband your strength, for
depend upon it, you will require all you can muster at the
Cariboo gold diggings.
It is true that the trip to Cariboo is not such an arduous
undertaking now as it was at the time we travelled to it, there
now being a good firm road 18 feet wide the whole distance ;
but, nevertheless, the ground is to be traversed, and many
immense mountains to be surmounted—a task quite sufficient
to tax a person's strength to the utmost.
The party on reaching Cariboo, should they possess less
than a hundred pounds each, will find their chance of success
small, indeed; they ought to have at least three times that
If there be one thing more important than another which
emigrants ought to attend to, in whatever part of the world
they may be, it is that of making a practice to write home
frequently to their friends. This is a duty neglected by many,,
arising in a great measure from a silly notion that they cannot
make up their minds to write unless they are successful, and
able to send home a favourable account. Can anything be
more foolish and cruel ? Whether they be lucky or the reverse they are in duty bound to write, if it be but a single line,
to prove they are alive, which will prevent many a sleepless
n|ght and aching heart.
In concluding these few hints to intending emigrants, I beg
to suggest, that unless a person owns a little independency, it
is almost useless to emigrate to the gold fields of British
Columbia ; and if he does possess it, why, then, he had better
stay at home and enjoy it.
Edward Mark, who resolved to risk the mines a second time,
continued in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company till a
few weeks after I left the colony, exercising every economy
all the while, and then proceeded to Cariboo; but before he
commenced operations, engaged himself to pack provisions on
SE3»»S«ut 15S
his back from the Forks of Quesnelle to the mines, a distance
of sixty miles, for hire. By this means he realized several
pounds, with which, and the money he had saved in Victoria,
he once more tried his fortune at gold-digging, but was unsuccessful, and reached Victoria again almost penniless. He
then contrived to get down to San Francisco, where he joined
his Brother Robert, and they worked together as boilersmiths
until they accumulated sufficient money to pay their passage
to New York, where they commenced work immediately on
their arrival.
But shortly afterwards, Edward, by some means, found his
way into the Northern Army, and was sent to the Potomac.
He soon made his escape, however, and after travelling 200
miles through the woods among the snow—sailing down the
rivers many miles on rafts during the night time, and experiencing endless hardships and hairbreadth escapes—he
reached New York again in safety; but to his surprise and
sorrow found that his Brother Robert had disappeared, and
he utterly failed to discover his whereabouts.
He then sailed for England, and arrived in due time.
Weeks and months passed away, but brought no tidings of
Robert, which occasioned much painful anxiety amongst his
friends at home, until one day very recently, to their pleasure
and regret (pleasure that he was still in the land of the living,
and i egret that he was so dangerously circumstanced) his
father received a letter from him stating that he was now a
corporal in the Federal Army.
James Marquis remains in and about British Columbia, and
has been to some extent successful.
He saved money in Victoria ; and subsequent intelligence
from him intimates that he purchased an interest in a claim
belonging to a company of Englishmen, and joined them. At
the end of the first season he came down to Victoria with three
hundred pounds' worth of gold dust as his share. Last summer
he was not so fortunate. He went to the mines, and remained
during the season, but was unable to work in consequence of
ill health, and was obliged to hire e man to do it for him, at
a wage of forty-five shillings per day. They expended the
greater portion of their money in erecting machinery for the
working of their claim, and it is their intention to give it a
thorough trial this summer. When Marquis returned to Victoria last autumn his health was seriously impaired, and his 164
medical adviser recommended change of air. He accordingly
sailed down to San Francisco, where he remained during the
winter, and letters from him of a recent date intimate that he
had recovered his usual state of health, and was about to start
for the mines. When he returns to Victoi'ia this fall, he will
then have walked eight different times over the mountains of
British Columbia, making altogether a distance of three thousand
two hundred miles, exclusive of sixteen hundred miles of river
May his indomitable perseverance be crowned with success.
In round numbers, the distance from England to New York
is 3,000 miles; from New York to the Isthmus of Panama,
2,000 miles; from Panama to San Franciseo, 4,000 miles;
from San Francisco to Vancouver Island,-1,00') miles ; and
from thence to Cariboo, 600 miles.
"W. Ainsley, Steam Machine Printer, &c., 74, Sadler Street, Durham.


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