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Vanderhoof to Peace River, British Columbia, Canada Pattullo, Thomas Dufferin, 1873-1956 1920

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Array Vanderhoof
to
Peace River V *fo'
•Caai
VANDERHOOF  TO
PEACE RIVER
British Columbia
Canada
DEPARTMENT OF  LANDS
HON. THOMAS DUFFERIN PATTULLO
Minister of Lands
.-i p Vanderhoof to Peace River
British Columbia, Canada
NORTH from Vanderhoof, on the Canadian National transcontinental
railway across Central British Columbia, which runs from Yellow-
head Pass to the seaboard at Prince Rupert, a wagon-road suitable for
motor traffic, 38 miles long, reaches to Fort St. James, on the southerly
shore of Stuart Lake. Beyond to the northward is a large territory with
many sections well suited to agricultural settlement and other economic
development at present lacking in lines of communication.
A railway across this district would afford transportation to many
sections suitable for settlement and mining and general development.
At present there are no transportation facilities and development waits
upon them. To-day only a scant population of pioneers are scattered in
a few places.
In 1920 a reconnaissance survey was made by V. H. Williams, C.E.,
for the Department of Railways across this portion of the Province. He
said :—
" The result of my reconnaissance is that it is quite practical to build
a standard-gauge railway through this section of British Columbia, and
in no case will any serious difficulties be encountered. Construction for
the most part will be extremely light; a gradient not exceeding 1 per cent.
can be obtained; very little solid rock exists; good crossings of all rivers
and streams were found; and an abundance of gravel for both ballast and
concrete-work is to be had practically throughout the entire line. Timber
for piling, culverts, and ties is for the most part, however, scarce.
" Leaving the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway at Vanderhoof, the
Nechako River is crossed about Mileage 1 to the mouth of Clear Creek.
Following Clear Creek for about a mile, the line would come out on a
large plateau which extends for about 10 miies and is quite flat. A range
of hills extends generally east and west at this point, separating the
Nechako and Stuart Valleys. The summit is reached in about 6 miles
on a maximum grade of 1 per cent., being 170 feet above the plateau.
From this summit to the crossing of the Stuart River there is a fall of
95 feet in a distance of 20 miles. Fort St. James lies about \y2 miles to
the north, being Mileage 30.5, elevation 2,225 *eet-
" Leaving Fort St. James, the line would run in a north-easterly
direction, passing the east of Mount Murray, crossing Ocock River at
Mile 49, elevation 2,425 feet. It would now continue in a northerly
direction and to the east of Lookout Mountain, crossing Tsilcoh River
at Mile 59, elevation 2,535 leet, anf' continuing northerly to Poison Creek,
Mile 67, elevation 2,530 feet.    From this point it would be necessary to follow Poison Creek to Horseshoe Lake, which is on the summit of the
Pacific-Arctic Divide. Summit, Mile 92, elevation 3,150 feet. Now
following along Horseshoe Lake and Sheshe Nadji Lake to Suschona
Creek and Suschona River to the Nation River, Mile 108, and crossing
the latter river at elevation 2,800 feet.
" The greatest difficulty to be encountered thus far lies in crossing
12-Mile Mountain and getting from the Nation to the Manson River
Valley. This is done by following the north shore of Nation River to a
point near the 124th meridian; thence northerly and north-westerly to the
head of Gaffney Creek, and following this creek down to Manson River.
Head of Gaffney Creek, Mile 128.5, elevation 3,400 feet; junction of
Gaffney Creek and Manson River, Mile 147.5, elevation 3,000 feet. From
this point the Manson River Valley is followed into the Parsnip River
Valley, and thence down to Finlay Forks, Mile 188, elevation 2,000 feet.
" The Parsnip River is crossed at this point, and two alternate
routes offer along Peace River to Rocky Mountain Canyon. By crossing
to the north side of the Peace advantage is taken of being on a southerly
slope, thus eliminating the necessity of protection against snow-slides;
however, two bridges across the Peace River would be required. By
following the south shore these bridges would be eliminated; several
snow-sheds would be required around Mount Selwyn and to the east,
but a series of benches, practically natural railway embankments, extend
the entire length of the river as far as the canyon. Canyon, Mile 273,
elevation 1,800 feet. Passing through the canyon fairly heavy rock-work
is encountered, and the main bench above the Peace River is reached
at Mile 296, elevation 2,400 feet, at Maurice Creek, opposite Hudson
Hope. From this point junction is made with the projected location of
the Pacific Great Eastern Railway on the Pine River by following
easterly by Sucker Lakes, crossing Moberly River to MacEwan Creek;
thence to Pine River, and following up Pine River to the above-mentioned
projected location, Mile 344, about 82 miles from Swan Lake.
" It will be noted that a very low gradient is obtained through the
Peace River Pass, which is really the Rocky Mountain Canyon, although
it lies considerably to the east of the Rocky Mountains. A most
peculiar feature will also be noted in connection with this pass—namely,
that the controlling point is lower than the country to either the east or
west. In other words, a descending grade is encountered in coming
from either direction."
Mileage and estimated cost of construction of the projection of the
Pacific Great Eastern Railway from Prince George via Pine Pass to
Swan Lake is 316 miles, cost $18,000,000. Estimate of cost and mileage
of this route would be:—
Vanderhoof to Hudson Hope, 296 rr
Hudson Hope to Pine River, 48 mi
Pine River to Swan Lake, 82 miles ;
Total, 426  miles   	
iles at $37,500..
es at $46,000...
t $57,000	
$11,100,000
2,208,000
4,674,000 " In route via Pine Pass there are no waterways that can be used
for the purpose of bringing in supplies or equipment. The route from
Prince George via the Parsnip River and Peace River follows navigable
waterways practically the entire distance, while the route from Vanderhoof via the Nation River has the advantage of both roads, which are
already built for a distance of about 65 miles, which could be extended at
a small cost, and river navigation used for balance of way.
" Two alternatives might be considered in connection with a line
running into the Peace River country. One from Prince George following the present projected location via Crooked River and Summit Lake;
thence down the Parsnip River to Finlay Forks. In connection with
this line, however, it would leave the Nechako Valley and the large areas
around Stuart River and Stuart Lake and Big Prairie to the north without
railway transportation, which is a larger and more fertile tract than that
around the Crooked River.
" The other alternative would be to continue down the Nation River
to the Parsnip; thence following the Parsnip to Finlay Forks instead of
turning north near the 124th meridian to Gaffney Creek and Manson
River. This route would be practically the same distance and construction about the same. In this connection, however, it would be necessary
to run trial lines over both routes before it would be possible to determine
the most advantageous one."
Present travel into this district from Fort St. James, to which motorcars run from the railway at Vanderhoof, is via the Manson Creek Trail,
which was made during the rush to the Omineca placer-diggings in the
early sixties, 117 miles long from Fort St. James to Manson Creek.
Little or no work was done on this trail for many years until surveyors
working in Nation Lake District put the southerly portion into good
condition in 1912 and 1913. Most of the bridges were gone, however,
and the trail was in poor shape and impassable at high water. During
the past two years considerable work has been done under direction of
W. Steele, of Manson Creek, to put this trail into better condition.
Until recent years travel into the Omineca and Manson Creek
District was via the trail westward from Hazelton to Takla Lake, and
thence via Tom Creek and Germansen Lakes to Manson Creek.
In 1871, when the Omineca placers were attracting considerable
attention, the stern-wheel steamer " Enterprise " was built at Soda Creek
and navigated the Fraser, Nechako, and Stuart Rivers, and thence via
Stuart Lake, Tachi River, Trembleur Lake, and Middle River to Takla
Lake; but expected travel via this route did not develop, and the steamer,
after its initial trip, was taken to Trembleur Lake and left on the lake-
shore, where the remains of the hull and what has been left by Indians
and others of the machinery still remains. Other than occasional trips
made by a number of launches taken into Stuart Lake and small boats,
this great connective waterway which offers a navigable route for about
200  miles  north  from  the  railway  has  not  been  used.    The  Chinlak
Five. Rapids in the lower 12 miles of Stuart River offer an obstruction,
though not an impassable one, and engineers who have made examinations say these rapids can be rendered easily navigable when the river
is open at comparatively small expense. A small outlay is also considered
necessary to improve the Tachi River. From Takla Landing on Takla
Lake distance by rail to Omineca River is about 40 miles and that river
can be travelled for 70 miles.
The railway route reconnoitred in 1920 follows to some extent the
country traversed by the Manson Creek Trail. A railway traversing this
portion of the Province would connect a number of sections in which
agricultural settlement would be made possible with communication.
The more important sections, going northward from Fort St. James,
which would be made accessible to settlement would be the area surveyed
in vicinity of Ocock and Tsilcoh River, where about 50,000 acres have
been platted; the Nation Lake Plateau in vicinity of Nation Lakes, where
surveyors consider at least 250,000 acres are eminently suited for agricultural settlement; and the Parsnip and Finlay Valleys, with upwards
of 600,000 acres suitable for agriculture. In Omineca Valley it is estimated that some 80,000 acres are suitable for agriculture; in Osilinka
Valley, 20,000 acres; and Mesilinka Valley, about 40,000 acres; in addition to the considerable acreage available in Peace River District.
It would also provide access to the Omineca Mining District and
Manson Creek mining regions, in which placer operations have been
carried on since 1864, and it is anticipated that with railway communication enabling the taking of modern mining machinery into the district
there would be a considerable revival of the mining industry. This
district was worked for three years from 1864 by placer-miners, who
then left it for the Cassiar fields. In 1871 it again attracted attention
and work continued to about 1887, and it has been worked intermittently
since. Since 1874 the returns that have been made by miners show
$603,790 in gold has been taken from this district. Since 1902 work has
been on a small scale, the district being handicapped by its remoteness
and inaccessibility, which made operations expensive.
At the mouth of the Ingenika River, which enters Finlay River about
65 miles above Finlay Forks, the Ingenika Gold Mining Company is
working a dredging proposition, but owing to lack of transportation little
progress has been made. Another gold-dredging outfit is at work at
Brennan's Flats on the north side of Peace River, about 7 miles below
Carbon Riber, but little progress has been made.
Galena and sulphide ore is found from the Peace south beyond Pine
Pass. Mica with large sheets and clear cleavage is found in various
places, especially near a low-grade ore-body at Mount Selwyn.
Platinum is reported to exist in tributaries of the Finlay, and Mr.
Williams, during his survey, was shown a small quantity said to be
worth $300 and which was said to have come from this district. EXTENSIVE  COALFIELDS.
With transportation valuable and extensive coal areas will be
opened, development of which would be of great importance not only
to settlement in this district, but to the Province at large. Coal-beds
are known to extend over a wide area. R. B. Dowling, of the Canadian
Geological Survey, estimated probable reserves within an area of 160
square miles in vicinity of Peace River, mainly near Hudson Hope and
Carbon River, at 1,400,000,000 tons; but exploration has been insufficient
to form any reasonably close estimate. Analysis of both bituminous and
anthracite samples from near Hudson Hope and Carbon River show that
this coal has very high heat units, and its high quality will enable it to
compete far afield for railway consumption, to say nothing of steam
navigation on the Peace, Athabaska, and other great rivers and lakes
of the Mackenzie basin, as well as for industrial and domestic uses
required by settlement. A short rail or tramway to the Peace River
would enable carriage by scow for 600 miles down-stream on Peace
River between Hudson Hope and Vermilion Chutes.
From a few miles west of the Carbon River to the east of Hudson
Hope the coalfields exist, and good measures are found at and near both
the Carbon River and the Rocky Mountain Canyon. This is for a
distance of over 40 miles in an east-and-west direction. Coal has been
known for many years to exist along the South Pine River, and it is
supposed that these are a continuation of the same deposits which are
found on the Peace River. This coal is equal to a high grade of steam-
coal from the Welsh fields, and compares favourably with the best West
Virginia coals, being altogether of an exceptional high quality for
Western America. The regularity of the measures and their freedom
from disturbance is remarkable, and the low ash content in the samples
taken as they were from outcrops shows the exceptionally clean nature
of the scams.
Extension of the coal-measures back from the river is undoubtedly
considerable both ways. Selwyn in 1875 reported coal on the South
Pine River and locations have been made from the Dominion Block to
Tine Pass. On the North Pine coal is also reported north of the
Block, so that if measures are continuous between these points the field
extends 75 miles north and south without the limit being established in
either direction. On the Peace River it extends from near Parle Pas
Rapids to near Hudson Hope, and whether this portion is continuous
with those north and south, it is reasonable to expect considerable
extension north-west and south-east.
Lignite-deposits were reported by Selwyn in 1875 on Parsnip River
near the mouth of Pack River. Pieces of drift found on the river-bank
were sufficiently large and compact to be fuel if found in thick seams.
The northern limit of the Parsnip lignite area is about 3 miles below
Nation River, where a rocky ridge crosses the Parsnip and the country
-■ rises on one side to the Rockies; on the other to the Omineca-Parsnip
Mountain watershed. F. W. Valleau in 1897 reported finding drift-
lignite on Omineca River, 10 miles up.
OIL   POSSIBILITIES.
That part of the Province lying east of the main range of the
Rocky Mountains and extending northward from about the 54th parallel
has for some years been looked upon as a promising field for the discovery
of commercial bodies of oil.
The Lower Cretaceous strata of Southern Alberta, in which are
found coal and some oil and oil-seepages, have their equivalent in the
rolling plains bordering the foot-hills in the Peace River region, and it
is to this region that, during the last two or three years, the Government
of the Province has been devoting attention by way of geological study
and latterly by diamond-drilling. The area in question, including 78,729
square miles, has been reserved from application and alienation while
the effort to locate and study the geological formations with a view of
determining the existence of suitable structure has been in progress.
Field examinations on behalf of the Department of Lands were made
in the summer of 1919 by the late J. C. Gwillim, Professor of Mining at
Queen's University, and in 1920 by John A. Dresser, Consulting Mining
Engineer, of Montreal, and Edmund M. Spieker, Geologist, of Baltimore,
Md.
Following the 1920 investigations, diamond-drill equipment was sent
to a selected part of the district covered and exploratory drilling has
since been carried on. Surface exposures of rock are infrequent over
considerable areas of the country, and their correlation is made easier
and more certain by the positive results of drilling, while the presence of
domes or anticlinal structures favourable to the retention of petroleum
may be determined.
Professor Gwillim expressed the opinion that there is possibility of
oil existing below some of the favourable structures—most likely beneath
the St. John shales, which are impervious enough to hold down oil. The
Bullhead sandstones lying below the shales are geologically more or less
contemporaneous with or equivalent to the oil-bearing Loon River
strata and the Athabaska tar-sands, occurring farther eastward. They
also resemble the Kootenay formation of Southern Alberta of much the
same horizon, which is believed to be the oil-carrier at Black Diamond
field. He considered the Bullhead sandstones as structurally favourable
and believed it to be possible, considering the activity of the Imperial
Oil Company, that somewhere within the great extent of these Alberta
and British Columbia foot-hills an oil discovery of commercial value
might be made.
It was on the recommendation of Professor Gwillim that the studies
of this area have been continued.
Mr. Dresser examined the area north of Peace River, west of the
Peace River Block, and south of Graham  River.    He also concluded from his investigation that the shales and sandstones of Cretaceous age
characteristic of that region are the geologic equivalent of formations
that in some parts of Western Canada are oil-bearing. He states that
" the character of the St. John shales strongly suggests that they are oil-
bearing, but accumulations of commercial value can only be expected in
the porous sandstone-beds within the shales or in the upper parts of the
Bullhead sandstones immediately beneath them."
Mr. Spieker's studies were directed to the large area south of the
Peace River, in which he examined the formations as disclosed by the
Moberly, Pine, Sukunka, and Murray Rivers. He found the same series
of sedimentary rocks ranging in age from Triassic to Upper Cretaceous,
and expressed the considered opinion that while the Triassic limestones
and sandstones offer a possibility of oil and the Pine River shales give
some promise, " the St. John shales offer the most nearly ideal conditions
that could exist in the absence of definite evidence of petroleum itself."
Speaking of the Boulder Creek dome near the south-westerly corner of
the Peace River Block, Mr. Spieker in his report observes that " the
possibility of oil-bearing horizons below the Bullhead Mountain formation, coupled with the dome-like shape of the structure, presents a
geologically attractive situation as far as oil and gas are concerned."
Mr. Spieker examined ten major anticlines in the area covered by
him and strongly recommended exploratory drilling. Up to this date
no drilling has been undertaken in the region south of the Peace River.
Six diamond-drill holes varying in depth from 1,027 to 2,525 feet
have to date been drilled in a small portion of the area suggested by Mr.
Dresser in the vicinity of Farrel and Lynx Creeks, some 20 miles northwest of Hudson Hope. The sixth hole, which is the deepest of the series,
was completed only last week. These holes have penetrated the St. John
shales to a depth of 2,000 feet and in Nos. 5 and 6 have gone into the
Bullhead sandstones.
Flows of gas, films of oil, numerous thin seams of coal varying in
thickness up to 20 inches, and much bituminous substance have been
found in the drill-holes and a vast thickness of shales has been determined
which field tests have shown gives oil on distillation throughout. In
relation to the extent of these St. John shales, Mr. Dresser says that they
extend over a very large area. The formation " is known for 250 miles
in an east-and-west direction and has a still greater extent northwards
and southwards. It probably underlies nearly all of British Columbia
east of the Rockies and a large area in the Province of Alberta."
No reservoirs of oil from wdiich a flow could be obtained have yet
been found. It must be remembered that there was no intention on the
part of the Government of actually boring for oil as is done with standard
drilling rigs. The primary object of the diamond-drilling is the determination of the depth, thickness, attitude, and character of the formations,
thus disclosing the geological information in a more precise and valuable
way than could be accomplished by exploration of field parties.
■-   ■ The Imperial Oil Company is drilling a standard hole east of Rolla
in the bed of Ponce Coupe River, 650 feet below the general plateau-level,
and in 1921 drillers struck gas which was reported to have flowed at the
rate of 11,000,000 feet a day and increased in volume to three times that
amount, when the well was capped. Since the capping there have been
strong evidences of gasolene, this substance oozing through the casing-
joints, and, though the company has maintained secrecy regarding operations, all reports indicate likelihood of oil being found here. Seepages
have been reported along the Pouce Coupe River, and in 1921 a homesteader discovered a place where, at intervals, oil in small quantities
gushed out of the shale, this oil, as so far examined, giving promise of
high gasolene content.
LAND  FOR   SETTLEMENT.
A railway route via Fort St. Tames northward would give access to
a number of localities in which are considerable areas suitable for
agricultural settlement. Vanderhoof, in Nechako Valley, is the centre
of a great connective agricultural tract now being rapidly settled and
developed. A creamery has been established and dairying is increasing.
The valley extends 15 miles north of Nechako River, where a range of
low hills covered with jack-pine forms a divide between the Nechako
and Stuart. From about 7 miles south of Stuart River excellent
agricultural land extends along the Stuart and Necoslie Valleys, north
to what is known as " Big Prairie." This section contains many
thousands of acres of good agricultural land with rich soil, with a large
percentage of it open or lightly timbered.
OCOCK  AND  TSILCOH  VALLEYS.
North from Fort St. James the route reaches Ocock River, altitude
2,425 feet, in 18^ miles. Ocock and Tsilcoh Rivers, about 2 miles apart,
drain a valley including about 45,000 acres of surveyed land adjoining
the block of surveys north-east from Fort St. James, and extending northwest to Pinchi Lake and north to Yatzootin Lake. The Manson Creek
Trail crosses the westerly part about 2 miles east of Pinchi Lake and the
Fort St. James-Fort McLeod Trail crosses the easterly part, reaching
Ocock River about 2 miles west of Carrier Lake.
F. A. Devereux, B.C.L.S., who surveyed this area in 1910, said the
valley has a fine silt soil resembling that of Nechako Valley. It is
timbered chiefly with pine, poplar, and spruce, mostly small and dense.
Where timber has been burned off, which occurs in many small patches,
the soil has appearance of being very productive, judging from the rank
growth of grasses, peavine, etc. Several fine wild-hay meadows occur.
Small fruits grow in abundance in localities.    The valley is well watered.
A. W. Harvey, B.C.L.S., in 1911 said: "The land at the eastern
end of Pinchi Lake is very good, Ocock River running through a large
meadow for several miles to its junction with the lake. There is also a
considerable amount of good surveyed land at the outlet." FORT  ST. JAMES  TO  FORT  McLEOD.
The trail north-easterly from Fort St. James to Fort McLeod is 82
miles long. Leaving Stuart Lake the ground rises gradually to a low
divide, about 2,600 feet in altitude. In the first few miles the trail passes
through some fine open meadows, with black loam soil, free from stones,
on which hay is cut by the Hudson's Bay Company. Between these
meadows are low sandy ridges covered with jack-pine and here and there
a few poplar. The soil is too dry for cultivation and too high above the
stream-levels to irrigate. Beyond and running to Carrier Lake the
country improves and is undulating. Soil is moist sandy loam, in most
places free from stones, and covered with poplar, small spruce, and
willow, between which is a luxuriant growth of peavine, fireweed, and
SCENE  FROM   A   HILL  TO  THE   XORTH-EAST  OK  TREMBLEUR  LAKE.
grasses. At the south of Carrier Lake the hills rising from the lake are
not very steep nor very high and are composed of a sandy loam soil on
a gravel subsoil. This grows good grass and peavine and affords good
agricultural land. Timber is chiefly poplar, with a few scattered spruce-
trees. To the north of the lake the hills are rolling and covered with
second growth of jack-pine and spruce, not of commercial size. For the
next 2 or 3 miles beyond Carrier Lake along the trail the country is fit
for agriculture, with light sandy loam soil easily cleared. Beyond is the
valley of Salmon River, the trail following over a sandy jack-pine flat,
with poor stony soil.    The valley, 60 feet below the flat, about a quarter
Eleven. of a mile wide, has moist sandy soil capable of cultivation. From Salmon
to Swamp River the country is broken, consisting of a series of stony
ridges growing stunted jack-pine. There are small swamps and bogs
between the ridges. Swamp River is in a valley about a quarter of a
mile wide, with many small meadows. Soil is not of sufficient depth for
cultivation, but will grow good grass. Between Swamp River and Carp
Lake the country is more or less level, with poor sandy soil. It forms
the Pacific-Arctic Divide, elevation being about 2,600 feet. Carp
Lake. 2,700 feet, lies among hills rising steeply, surrounding country
being unfit for cultivation. It drains to War Lake, with banks
rising 100 feet to the plateau, and McLeod River flows thence to
McLeod Lake, bordered with terraces with dry sandy soil free from
stones. McLeod Lake has steep densely wooded shores, rising steeply
on the west 400 to 500 feet to the plateau crossed by the trail from Fort
St. James. On the east the hills are higher, in places rising 1,000 feet,
then sloping down to Parsnip River, some 2 or 3 miles distant.
NORTH-WEST   FROM   FORT   ST.  JAMES.
Taking a triangular area with Manson Creek Trail, northward from
Fort St. James on the east, and the line of Stuart, Trembleur, and Takla
Lakes on the west, and the latitude of 55° 30' on the north, roughly
2,500 square miles, it is estimated that this area includes broadly 20 per
cent, mountains, 30 per cent, ridges and hills, 10 per cent, lakes, and 40
per cent, of undulating country, with elevation ranging between 2,200
and 2,600 feet, averaging about 2,500 feet, including about 250,000 acres
of good agricultural land as far as cruised by surveyors, balance of the
flat country being jack-pine flats more or less gravelly and crossed by
gravel moraine ridges. The area is broken by many isolated mountain
ranges, most important being that along east side of Takla Lake, with
peaks reaching over 6,000 feet. The Blanchet Range runs 15 miles
between North and West Arms of Takla Lake, with several peaks 6,500
feet high. A long flat-topped range runs along to the north of Nation
Lakes, merging into the Omineca Mountains. Mount Pope, 4,450 feet,
and high isolated mountains in vicinity of Pinchi, Tezzeron. and Inzana
Lakes comprise most of the remaining mountains.
The whole plateau country is well watered, there being a maze of
small lakes and connecting streams. Meadows and willow bottoms are
fairly numerous, but there is almost an entire absence of muskeg; the
meadows, though often wet, having hard bottom almost invariably. The
many lakes make this section of country of great scenic beauty, the water
being crystal clear and the larger lakes have mile after mile of fine pebbly
beach. About 300 square miles of this triangle carries the original heavy
timber, mostly spruce, with balsam predominating at the higher altitudes.
The flat country, once heavily timbered, has been burned over twice in
the past forty years, and much of the area is now encumbered with dead
and fallen timber and voting growth, while areas once burnt clean now carry a growth of jack-pine, the only trace of the original spruce forest
being a few burnt stumps and scattered clumps of timber along the watercourses.
Other than a block of 41/ square miles 7 miles north-westerly from
Fort St. James, from 1 to 3 miles south of the lake, the surveys near
Pinchi Lake are near the westerly end. The north-east shore of Stuart
Lake is unsurveyed from within a mile or two from Fort St. James to
vicinity of Pinchi Creek, a swift stream 6 miles long, with a direct fall
of 18 feet 4 miles up, which empties Pinchi Lake to Stuart Lake, which
lies at 100 feet lower altitude. An Indian village with a small Indian
store is located at the creek-mouth.
There are several small flats on Pinchi Lake, but these are limited
in extent. Except at the eastern end and outlet of Pinchi River, the lake
is surrounded by low rocky hills and there is not much land of value.
On the north side several small flats exist, limited in extent.
From Pinchi Creek a block of surveys extends to Kuzkwa River,
which drains Tezzeron Lake to Tachi River. The north-east shore of
Stuart Lake from Pinchi Village to Tachi River is mainly poplar country
and, excepting a few isolated buttcs and ridges, fairly flat country
running back about 15 miles, and thence extending north-westerly
between Inzana and Kazchek Lakes. F. A. Devereux, B.C.L.S., in 1910
said : " About 13,000 acres of very good land were laid out on the Tachi
River and about 1,500 on Trembleur Lake, most of which is densely
wooded with the usual growth of the country."
Directly north of Tezzeron Lake the country is broken and of little
value; but along Inzana Creek the land is exceptionally good, and it is
estimated that about 90,000 acres of good agricultural land, undulating,
burnt clean and reforesting with willow and poplar, can be found hereabout. Northward the country between here and Nation Lakes is
undulating, has numerous lakes, and from report contains some good
agricultural areas.
Middle River, which connects Trembleur and Takla Lakes, drains a
valley 2 to 6 miles wide, rolling country broken by rocky hills and ridges.
Soil is almost entirely light sand)' loam, growing small poplar, pine,
spruce, and willow. The valley is wide at the south end, narrowing
toward Takla Lake. Middle River is a sluggish stream with little
current, falling only a few feet between Takla and Trembleur Lakes.
The south side of the river has been swept by fire and is covered with
heavy windfalls and thick growth of small pine.
The country around the south end of Takla Lake is rough and rock}',
except for a tract of fairly flat land along the north-east shore, 7,000 to
8,000 acres; burnt over, with little timber, chiefly small poplar and pine,
with patches of thick willow. Soil is sandy loam, with occasional ridges
of gravel. The south-west shore is steep, with heavy growth of spruce
and balsam. Numerous small streams running into Middle River and
Takla Lake, nearlv all drv in the late summer.
Thirteen. OCOCK   RIVER   TO   NATION   RIVER.
In vicinity of Poison Creek, which the route follows northward over
the divide to Nation River, only isolated sections of agricultural land
are encountered. The country is largely timbered, rising to the Pacific-
Arctic drainage divide near the 55th parallel. Poison Creek drains
southward from Horeshoe Lake and sweeps westerly to Tezzeron Lake;
the summit, on the ridge between Horseshoe and Sheshenadji Lakes, is
at elevation of 3,150 feet. Where Manson Creek Trail and the railway
route crosses the country hereabout is too high for general agriculture,
but is considered to have possibilities for stock-raising. The ridge-slopes
are dotted with small lakes and drained by numerous streams, many
dammed by beavers, resulting in some fair meadows, some of considerable
extent on which hay could be cut for winter feed. Timber in general is
jack-pine. There are many muskegs and spruce bottoms. Soil in
general is light sandy loam, but where fire has burned over spruce
bottoms a heavy growth of red-top has resulted, and horses of surveyors
brought to work in poor condition rapidly fattened on this grass.
Along the Inzana Lake Trail, which branches north-westerly toward
Inzana Lake from the Manson Creek Trail and railway route in vicinity
of Poison Creek, 28 miles from Fort St. James, is an area of good
agricultural land, rolling, mostly brule, with young growth of poplar and
willow. Several meadows are over a couple of hundred acres in extent
and a large willow bottom covers 2 square miles. Soil is loam in the
lowlands and sandy loam on the ridges.
The vicinity of Poison Creek and eastward across the 124th meridian
is heavily timbered, spruce and balsam predominating, large in diameter,
up to 36 inches, and generally clear for a considerable height. Near
where the headwaters of Salmon River crosses the 124th meridian is a
burn about 3 miles wide covered with long, thick, coarse grass. This
grass is also found in patches high up on the hill covered by the burn.
Seen from a 4,600-foot hill this timber seems to cover the hills and valleys
eastward as far as could be seen, though it is probable that in the lower
altitudes, in vicinity of Salmon River, a large percentage is jack-pine.
The divide to the eastward is more mountainous, and where the
124th meridian crosses and thence eastward toward for many miles south
of Nation River a mountain extends, the higher peaks reaching to 4,690
feet.
The route, crossing the divide at 3,150 feet, follows down Suschona
Creek and Suschona River, in the easterly part of a large tract of surveyed
land south of Nation River, connecting with the large area surveyed in
the Nation Lakes basin. Altitude at junction of Suschona and Nation
Rivers is 2,800 feet.
THE   NATION   LAKES   BASIN.
The Nation Lakes basin has approximately 250,000 acres of surveyed
land considered suitable for agricultural development and 150,000 acres
Pout MM
or more of unsurveyed land which can be cultivated. The route
reconnoitred by Mr. Williams for a railroad would reach Nation River
about 5 miles below the outlet of the lower lake in a wide area of arable
land drained by Nation River and its tributaries, Suschona River and
Weffsicka Creek. Nation River heads in the Kwanika Mountains, and
fed by Tsayta Lake, which drains from the mountains near the eastern
landing on Takla Lake, it widens into Indata Lake, and flows through
two lakes lying east and west—Tchentlo Lake, altitude 2,415 feet, and
Chuchi Lake, 2,413 feet. Thence the winding river has a general northeasterly course to Parsnip River, which it enters at latitude 550 35' N. at
elevation of 2,100 feet. The river varies in width from 150 to 350 feet,
is swift, and carries a considerable volume.    Leaving the lower lake it
THE   NATION    RIVER   VALLEY.
has a series of boulder-strewn rapids for a few miles and then becomes
a large stream, 350 feet wide at the 124th meridian, with rapid current,
and at high water has considerable volume. The flow is variable. The
river has been found fordable by horses in September where they had
to swim in July. It is navigable from the rapids below the lake to a
canyon about 15 miles above the confluence with Parsnip River. The
valley narrows after crossing the 124th meridian.
Tchentlo Lake, 22 miles long, and Chuchi Lake, 18 miles long, with
the connective river I1/ miles long, drain a wide plateau area north and
south with a large area suitable for agriculture. J. M. Milligan. B.C.L.S.,
in 1913 said:    "The main valley of the Nation Lakes extends directly east and west about 60 miles, and with its tributary areas comprises,
roughly, 300,000 acres, 85 per cent, of which is available for the various
purposes of farming. In considering the possible waste areas, the same
conditions prevail here as elsewhere, that when three or four adjoining
quarter-sections may carry a high percentage of waste land, other and
surrounding quarters will be entirely free. The width of the valley
varies considerably, and is narrowest along the lakes, where the land at
points is more or less rough, and even rugged where the hills approach
the lakes. Speaking of the lands as a whole, and particularly where there
are considerable areas, the surface of the ground is of an even character
and is broken here and there by the cuts of the larger creeks. Indications
tend to show that the whole district has been, until a comparatively short
time ago, heavily timbered. Large areas have been deforested, leaving
strips of the orginal coniferous growth, principally along lake-shores and
on surrounding mountains and hills. The most valuable and predominating tree is spruce, 8 to 30 inches in diameter. A generous proportion
of pine, with more or less balsam, is also included. An appreciable
percentage of this timber has matured and now shows signs of decay.
Ample supplies of good timber, however, exist to more than supply the
requirements of ordinary purposes.
" The major portions of the valley have been swept at different times
by fire. Windfalls are only encountered in portions that have escaped
the main sweep of the flames, and do not prevail, as a rule, to any extent.
The areas lying west and south of the second lake and south of and along
the Nation River carry a very open growth of small pine, poplar, and
willow thickets, which renders clearing possible at minimum cost, and
almost any particular piece of land readily accessible.
" The fact that excellent and evenly distributed water-supplies are
to be found practically anywhere is in itself a very attractive feature of
the country. Almost every quarter-section in the surveyed area is amply
supplied by one or more of the numerous creeks, or borders on the shores
of a lake. On the larger plateaus, where dry areas may be expected to
exist, the network of smaller lakes with their connecting creeks provide
an ample supply within easy reach.
" In summing up the merits of a new country, the question of soil
is necessarily one of importance. The soil may be characterized generally
as a sandy loam; only along the lower levels of the lakes and river is
clay noticed to any extent. Along the undulating areas immediately
surrounding the lakes, where, as stated before, most of the timber is
found, the soil is a loose, light brown loam. This gives way in places to
soil of a gravelly nature, containing varying quantities of loose rock, or
' free stone,' on the higher ground. On the bench lands or plateaus,
where the main blocks lie, the prevailing soil is a finely divided, dark-
brown or reddish-sandy loam. This is of considerable depth in certain
areas, as is evidenced by the cuts along the creeks and main river. Large
deposits of a whitish silt, probably glacial in origin, are encountered
mainly along the  Nation River, where cut-banks  of 50 to   100 feet  in height have been noted. Other sections carry a soil that is more or less
gravelly in parts and contains small loose boulders. Broadly speaking, it
may be said that the soils are of a very desirable nature, and the gravelly
or rocky areas, where met with, are in the minority, and are so distributed
as to result in no depreciation to any particular section of land. As to
what agricultural purposes these soils may be best adapted would be
determined as a result of more or less experiment in the future. On
every hand is evidence that the loams are very fertile. A vigorous
growth of grasses, shrubs, and weeds spring up where the fire has opened
the country and seed has found its way. Special mention must be made
of the smaller wild fruits, which, where found, grow most luxuriantly
and bear heavily. Among these is included black and red currants,
raspberries, gooseberries, etc.
" Tn taking up the topographical map of the surveyed areas, and
with particular reference to the main block, lying south of and along the
Nation River, considerable and disconnected areas of wet swamp or
muskeg lands will be noted. Inasmuch as this block comprises about
50,000 acres and includes some of the most promising lands as yet
surveyed, a few remarks as to the nature of these swamps may not be
out of order.
" As a general rule, these wet lands either carry a growth of small
willow and swamp-grasses, or the pure grass without willow, and may
perhaps with more truth, in many cases, be called wet meadows rather
than swamps. Fewer in number, but generally more extensive in area,
are the spruce swamps or muskegs, some of which are covered with a
growth of spruce with willow thickets; while others are more open with
deep moss, such as are found in almost any part of the Northern Interior.
" As may be seen, these wet lands or swamps are not individually
extensive, and except in the cases of small strips of boggy lands along
the shores of the smaller lakes, have apparently been formed because
of insufficient outlet to the surface waters, as a result of the blocking-up
of the outlet. This is effected by natural causes where the flow of water
is small, but in the majority of cases, where there are well-defined creeks,
it is evident that the water has been dammed back by beavers, as extensive
workings, some very old and others new, are to be found anywhere. As
a rule the contour of the ground is such as to permit of natural drainage,
and, being shallow and of firm bottom, these wet lands lend themselves
with little labour to complete drainage.
" These areas must be drained before they are available for the best
purposes of farming, and as this may be accomplished in the majority
of cases both expeditiously and inexpensively, and considering also the
advantages of good soil, easily cleared or already open land, it is
reasonable to suppose that these wet lands will, as a rule, prove attractive
to intending settlers.
" Perhaps in speaking of the agricultural possibilities of the country
generally, and to what kinds or purposes of farming it is best suited,
more or less caution should be used in view of the fact that the country
Sei'e)iteen. has been under observation for such a short time and only during the
warm season ; although it is generally conceded that the country as a
whole is most advantageous to the comparatively small farmer of the
future, and lends itself readily to the various purposes of mixed farming.
The following remarks, in addition to the foregoing, may help to form
an opinion in the matter.
" The altitude of the main plateaus is about 2,500 feet, or, roughly,
100 feet above the level of the lakes, and compares favourably with that
of other valleys where successful farming is being carried on. The same
remarks may be made of the latitude, which averages 55° 10' N.
Generally speaking, it could not be said of the country in its present
state that it is well adapted for stock-raising. A good percentage of
the surrounding hillsides are open and carry a growth of weeds and
grass. The winter season would perhaps be a little long. It is
suggested, however, that the prevailing open nature of the main areas
with the many scattered meadows would amply fill the needs of the small
farmer.
" Actual records of climatic conditions are meagre, but weather
experienced by surveyors during the two summers spent there was
excellent. There was apparent absence of summer frosts. Further
records would, of course, be necessary to verify this, but the prevailing
impression so far is that summer frosts are light. The presence of the
large bodies of lake-waters, the open nature of the burnt areas, and the
heat-retaining powers of the sandy loams, also the fact that there are
light breezes or winds, would bear out this impression. Mention might
also be made of the general absence of overhanging mountains, and also
that there are no glaciers which might have a tendency to encourage
frosts. Winds in this country seem to be more continuous than is the
rule elsewhere, and almost invariably blow from the west in summer and
until mid-September, when they change to the south-east at times.
Heavy thunder-storms were experienced by surveyors during the first
part of September. Although flurries of snow fell about mid-October,
the winter snows fall to stay about the end of that month or later, average
depth of snow in winter being about 3 to 4 feet on lower levels, and it is
all gone by May 1st. Where the growth is of such an open character
as to allow free access to the sun's rays, the snow has been known to pass
off about April 1st.
" The scenery along the lakes especially is beautiful, and the wide
shelving stretches of beach, with their many-coloured sands, will prove
an ever-desirable attraction. In the rivers and lakes and their surrounding hills and mountains ample scope is afforded for the fisherman and
hunter. At the intake of the Nation River is a particularly favourable
spot for fly or bait fishing. Hundreds of rainbow trout, including some
Arctic or silver trout, have been caught here in a few hours. In the
lakes are the larger lake-trout and Doll)' Varden, whitefish and ling.
Black bear are fairly common anywhere in the valley, and brown bear and grizzlies are to be hunted on the higher hills. Moose-tracks are seen
toward easterly limits. Caribou herd on the higher plateaus. Opportunities for the trapper are many. At present only a few Indians reap
good profit by trapping numerous species of fur-bearers, including beaver,
mink, marten, otter, weasel, lynx, and large numbers of musk-rats. Many
ground-hogs—a species of marmot—are taken every fall from the open
mountain-sides. Although their fur is more or less valuable, they are
taken by the Indians chiefly for their fatty meats, which, being dried and
smoked, provide food during the trapping season later on. The various
species of grouse were plentiful while surveyors were on the ground,
and good shooting is afforded each fall when the ducks or geese pass
along on their way south.
" The presence of hot springs at the west end of the second lake will
no doubt prove of future value.
" The country was prospected for gold-bearing gravels years ago,
but no information is at hand to show that any quantity of the precious
metal was ever taken out. At present colours may be found in most
of the larger creeks, and especially on the bars of Nation River, where
work was carried on until comparatively recent years. All of which
would tend to bear out the opinion that further prospecting might be
attended with some results.
" In contemplating the foregoing remarks regarding the Nation Lake
country, one can confidently anticipate what the future offers to the
pioneer. Richly endowed by nature, with soil that seemingly can be
rendered highly productive at a moderate initial cost, and with conditions
generally that are particularly suitable to mixed farming, settlement must
be rapid as the various advantages of the country become known and
transportation facilities secured."
F. C. Swannell, B.C.L.S., in 1912 said: " There is still much land in
addition to that surveyed in the Nation Lakes District, especially to the
southward. The soil is mostly loam, but where the country escaped the
fire the stand of timber is often too heavy for classification as agricultural
land. Nation River occupies a wide trough-like valley composed of jack-
pine benches. While considerable of these are gravelly and sandy, yet
this is by no means the rule. A cruise from the extreme easterly end of
Nation Lake across to the foot of the swift water on the river was
through a new growth of jack-pine, but the soil was loam or sandy
loam everywhere except on the ridges, which were gravelly. A large
area of these jack-pine bench lands lies south-east of here, and if the
soil holds as good as the portion cruised, six or seven townships are
obtainable—approximately 150,000 acres.
" A large valley draining into Upper Nation Lake parallels Indata
Lake on the west and runs nearly through to Tsayta Lake, the northwestern lake of the Nation Lakes. Twenty square miles of good land
lie here, with much open meadow country. The meadows, however,
are generally wet and need draining.    Between Upper Nation Lake—
Nineteen. Tchentlo Lake—and Indata Lake, the river, which is very tortuous,
traverses excellent bottom land, in most cases burnt clear. Six or eight
square miles could be obtained here, augmented by a strip a mile wide
along the west shore of Indata Lake. Some five or six sections are
obtained at the lower end of Tsayta Lake, as well as a big valley timbered
with jack-pine, but in which the soil is sandy to gravelly. The Manson
Creek Trail southward from Nation River traverses much undulating to
rolling jack-pine country, about 20 per cent, of which has fair soil, the
balance being sandy and intersected by gravelly ridges."
With the unsurveyed area of known good land and that included in
the surveyed area near Nation Lakes, the extent of arable land in this
vicinity will be, conservatively estimated, upwards of 400,000 acres.
NATION   RIVER   TO   MANSON   RIVER.
The railway route reaches Nation River at the mouth of Suschona
River, about 5 miles below the Lower Nation Lake, 108 miles from
Vanderhoof, altitude 2,800 feet, and follows down the northern bank to
vicinity of the 124th meridian, where it turns north to cross the mountain
divide between Nation and Manson Rivers. The country traversed by
Nation River toward the Parsnip is generally rough and broken, the
river being in a narrow valley with rock canyons and numerous rapids.
Agricultural land is limited to a few scattered flats. Numerous indications of coal have been noted along the river. From Nation River northward to Manson River the main difficulty of this route is encountered
in crossing 12-Mile Mountain. Leaving Nation River near the 124th
meridian, the route rises north and north-west to 3,400 feet at the head
of Gaffney Creek, 20 miles from Nation River; thence it follows down
Gaffney Creek, 19 miles, to Manson River, altitude 3,000 feet, and follows
down that stream en route to Finlay Forks.
The topography near the route from Nation River to Gaffney Creek
is hilly, with many small lakes and muskegs and meadows, too high for
agriculture. About 26 miles north of the 55th parallel is a high broken
mountain range, through which Gaffney and Munro Creeks drain to
Manson River. This range, reaching east to Parsnip River, has many
bare rocky peaks, many over 6,000 feet in altitude. Little timber is
found above 4,500 feet. On summits of the lower hills in many places
are open spaces covered with moss or light grass and studded with a
great variety of flowers. Indians say the range is a splendid hunting-
ground for caribou. Considerable quartz is seen on this range and nearly
all the rivers carry quartz, some of which is gold-bearing. Evidences of
prospecting can be found on nearly all the creeks. There is quite an
area of timber in this range, spruce, balsam, and jack-pine predominating.
Some of it could not readily be worked, but a great deal of it is easily
accessible to Manson River.
On the Manson Creek Trail, between 12-Mile Creek and about
15 miles from Manson Creek, is a large area of fine grazing land, the meadows being numerous and large. The general elevation, however—
3,000 to 3,500 feet—precludes the possibility of using this land for any
other than stock- or hay-raising purposes.
Manson River, which heads in Bald Mountain, the rolling summit
of which is crossed by the Manson Creek Trail, which runs north-westerly
from the east end of Lower Nation Lake to Manson Creek, drains a
generally mountainous area in a narrow timbered valley at altitude of
about 3,000 feet, and agricultural land is confined to the lower part, where
it merges into Parsnip River Valley. To the north the Wolverine Range
extends between it and Omineca River. Manson Creek, which during
the early days, when some 2,000 placer-miners were engaged in the
region, was a mining centre with the usual stores, sawmills, and other
requirements of a mining centre, is now a small settlement with an
average population of about twenty people, including a postmaster'and
sub-mining recorder.
THE   OMINECA   DISTRICT.
Omineca River, which came into prominence in the sixties, when
gold was found on one of the tributaries and about 2,000 miners flocked
in, drains through a complex mountain region in its upper part. It
joins Finlay River about 15 miles above Finlay Forks, being by far its
largest tributary. From the mouth to Black Canyon, about 5 miles, the
river is shallow and current swift, the slope of the stream exceeding 10
feet per mile. Numerous gravel-bars and islands, covered in places by
huge drift-piles, obstruct the course and divide the stream into many
channels. Black Canyon, il/2 miles long, 100 to 200 feet wide, has usually
vertical walls, in places over 150 feet high. It is navigable by canoe at
low water, but impassable ai flood. From Black Canyon to Little
Canyon, about 30 miles, the river has grade of about 12 feet per mile.
From the head of rapid water to Germansen Landing, 12 miles, with
exception of a few small ripples, the current is easy, 2 to 3 miles an hour,
and navigable water extends thence to New Ilogem, 23 miles—considerably more by following the tortuous channel. At New Hogem a
granitic mountain area is reached, extending far into the mountain
country, which covers a large region to the westward and north and for
some distance southward.
F. C. Swannell, who made a reconnaissance survey of Omineca in
1913, estimated that Omineca Valley held 80,000 acres suitable for
agriculture, and its main tributaries, Oslinka and Mesilinka Valleys,
20,000 and 40,000 acres respectively. A. M. O. Gold, who made a forest
reconnaissance of the district, exploring 4.075 square miles from the
Nation Lakes Plateau on the south to Mesilinka River and the Police
Trail, thence to Fort Grahame on the north, westward from Finlay and
Parsnip Valleys to the waterway between Stuart Lake and Driftwood
River, estimated that 521,950 acres in this area may be classed as farming
land—not  including  the   Nation   Lakes  basin  or   Finlay  and   Parsnip
Twenty-one. Valleys. The trail from Takla Lake to Manson Creek was crossed by
Mr. Swannell, but no good land was found, excepting large meadows on
the summit between Takla Lake and Tom Creek and along the head of
Kwanika Creek, which, though too high for general agriculture, about
3,900 feet, might be useful for grazing or raising hay. On the old trail
from Takla Lake via Fall River to Old Hogem, on Omineca River, are
some small areas of good land and one large meadow on the Takla
slope. The lower part of Fall River traverses some good land, now
largely flooded by beaver-dams backing up small tributary streams.
Old Hogem, now only a name on the map, was a mining camp of
the sixties. Germansen, discoverer of the Germansen Creek placers, was
known as Old Hogem, because he charged $45 for a sack of flour ground
at Williams Lake from frozen wheat and for other goods in proportion.
When Germansen left a new storekeeper established himself at New
Hogem, and the camp shifted there, farther down-stream near Duck
Creek. From Old Hogem to about 10 miles below Germansen Landing
the valley of the Omineca is wide and flat, soil excellent, and numerous
meadow-like expanses occur, approximately 80,000 acres being available
here for agricultural settlement. The river is navigable and in the early
seventies boats carried supplies on this part of the river to Germansen
Landing, at the mouth of Germansen River, which drains from
Germansen Lake, westward to about 5 miles from Manson Creek, thence
north to Omineca River. The site of the old mining town of Germansen
is about 3 miles up from the Omineca. A sawmill was operated at
the canyon about 3 miles below Germansen Lake. There were also sawmills near Manson Creek.
Placer-mining began on Vital Creek, a tributary of Silver Creek,
by miners who went overland from Cariboo and by the trail from
Hazelton. When R. G. McConnell, Canadian Geological Survey,
explored Omineca and Finlay River Districts in 1893, Mr. Vital and a
couple of men were still at work there. Little prospecting was done in
the beginning and three years elapsed before a Hazelton Indian found
gold on Tom Creek. About $100,000 was taken from it. During the
next few years Germansen, Manson, Slate, and Lost Creek diggings were
found and became scenes of busy mining camps. Flolloway's Bar on
Germansen Creek, the Golden Hill, and other claims are still pointed out
as large producers. On Manson, Discovery, and Mosquito Bars the
Kenny and Brown claims paid big dividends. Lost and Slate Creeks
had three rich claims and about 2,000 miners were scattered about the
creeks. Germansen and Manson Creek were the " towns," with barrooms, gambling-saloons, dance-houses, etc., stores and sawmills in the
vicinity, and one winter Manson Creek had a theatrical troupe, despite
the isolation. A large number wintered in the district, drifting, getting
out timbers, trapping, etc. Pack-trains brought in supplies in the fall,
and for a time pack-trains connected at Old Hogem with boats which
ran down Omineca River to Germansen Landing. The work was carried
on busily for three years, and one March an Indian appeared at a saloon door at Manson Creek with a letter which told of rich finds in Cassiar.
In a day or two Omineca was deserted. Until 1879 Vital and other
creeks were given over to Chinese. Successive companies made what
they considered fortunes and returned to China. In 1879 there was a
revival, and in 1887 the miners were again attracted to other fields. Only
a few old-timers remained, and in 1895 the whole population consisted of
three or four prospecting parties, a few Indians, and twenty Chinese.
Since then work has been done on comparatively small scale. Some
efforts have been made by companies to get in machinery, but the transportation difficulties have, as yet, proved too great.
The following" table shows the placer returns for this district from
1874 to 1913 :—
Year. Amount.
1898       $15,000
1899          8,600
1900     12,527
1901     19,100
1902    40,000
1903     28,000
1904    11,600
1905     10,000
1906     10,000
1907     10,000
1908     20,000
1909     15.000
1910    .'     15,000
1911        10,000
Year.
1874 	
Amount.
  $38,000
1875 	
  32,040
1876
1877 	
 No returns.
1878 	
1879 	
. 36,000
1880 	
  45,800
1881 	
  39,300
1882 	
  25,330
1883 	
21.000
1884 	
  12.000
1885 	
16,500
1886 	
  17,600
1887 	
13,000
1888
1889 	
 No returns.
1890 	
1891    „
1892 	
1893 	
1894  ,
1895 	
1896 	
1897 	
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
8,000
6,000
6,000
12.000
17,000
12.000
8.000
8,000
3,000
3,000
This shows that since 1902 the industry has fallen away and is now
not very important. The district has always been handicapped by its
remoteness and inaccessibility, which made it very expensive to operate.
Much ground throughout this district is known to be auriferous, but
will remain unworked until transportation facilities are provided. At
present it is very difficult to get in supplies or machinery, every pound
having to be taken in by pack-horse or toboggan. With a railway
prospectors consider there would be a considerable development in lode-
mining. The rocks exposed at the Black Canyon consist of gneiss, mica,
schists, quartzites, and limestones. Resting on these, but apparently
confined to the valley, are soft conglomerates, shales, and sandstones,
holding plant remains, cither Cretaceous or Tertiary. Farther up hard
unfossiliferous limestones occur. These are succeeded by gneisses and
mica-schists followed by shales, quartzites, and conglomerates, evidently
Lower Cambrian; then by limestones again. Above the limestones and
exposed all along the river from Germansen Landing to New Hogem is
a   great  series   of   green   rocks,   distinctly foliated in places, but often
Twenty-thr
-	 passing gradually into a massive eruptive-looking variety. Interbedded
with it are bands of dark shales, limestone, serpentines, and in one place
a red magnesite; at New Hogem granites come in, exposed to Old
Hogem, and a couple of miles along the trail to Vital Creek they are
replaced again by the green and dark schists, which are exposed until the
valley of Takla Lake is reached, when Cretaceous conglomerates and
sandstones again occur. The green and dark shales constitute the gold-
bearing rocks of the district. Indications of coal have been found in
various places and lignite reported from the upper part of Duck Creek.
In 1909 the Kildare Company, which held fourteen hydraulic leases
on Slate Creek, worked twenty men and cleaned up about v$io,ooo. In
1913 this company took in machinery by pack-train and in 1914 located
a pay-streak, the portions passed through the sluice-boxes yielding $30
a cubic yard. The Omineca Gold Mines, Limited, took up fourteen
leases o,n Quartz and Vital Creeks in 1913, and G. H. Knowlton and
associates, of Vancouver, twenty-one leases on Silver Creek and Omineca
River, and began a road from Takla Lake to Old Hogem to facilitate
taking in dredging machinery. Value of. the ground tested by drills was
reported better than 60 cents a yard. Work was suspended during the
war and has not since been resumed on any scale.
The report of the Resident Engineer of the Department of Mines for
1921 said: "Another placer-field which attracted considerable attention
at one time is what is known as the Omineca; this consists of the Manson
and Ingenika sections of Omineca Mining Division. Certain rich creeks
in these sections were worked many years ago and intermittent mining
was carried on until recent years. With the decline of gold-mining
during the war years and the lack of prospectors in the hills, the district
was virtually abandoned and now there is but a small production from it.
" There is in this part of Omineca Mining Division a very large area
to be thoroughly prospected for placer gold. The country lying at the
headwaters of the Skeena, Stikinc, and Finlay Rivers should yet yield
some rich placer-gold creeks, and it would not be surprising if the next
great placer stampede was to this section. Around the old placer-
workings of the Manson and Ingenika sections there is undoubtedly much
low-grade ground which would pay to work by modern methods, but the
handicap of lack of transportation has so far prevented much development of this nature. At the present time the means of access to these
sections is by pack-trail from Hazelton or Fort St. James, and distance
from the railway is over 200 miles. It is obvious that only the richest
of placer-gravels could be worked with any chance of success. The
field, however, is a promising one for testing the possibilities for large-
scale hydraulicking and dredging, as, if sufficient pay-ground was found,
the transportation could be materially improved by the construction of a
wagon-road."
To the present prospecting has been almost entirely confined to
placer gold.    Leads of copper ores and galena have been discovered close to Manson Creek and would be worked were transportation facilities
bettered. On the Police Trail from the site of Fort Connolly via
Mesilinka River are conical mounds or " kettles." The Big Kettle, close
to the upper part of Omineca River, a conical mound 15 feet high and
25 feet in diameter, has a vent or fumarole 6 feet in diameter filled to
5 feet of the rim with soft earth resembling haematite, emitting gas
intermittently which suffocates birds and mice. About an acre or more
nearly   is   built   up   of   a   spring-deposited rock resembling travertive.
THE  BIG   KETTLE,  0M1I
Many mineralized springs seep out, forming stagnant pools and oozy
patches of reddish and yellow mud.
F. A. Valleau, for many years Gold Commissioner, who prospected
the district considerably, said: " Although it must rightly be classed
as mountainous, there are along its many rivers beautiful valleys opening
out in places to thousands of acres of the richest ground, heavily timbered
in parts, and again patches of open prairie are found." Agriculture has
been so far confined to small garden-patches where miners on Manson, Germansen, and Tom Creeks grew cabbage, turnips, lettuce, onions, etc.,
with good results. With transportation it is anticipated that not only
an area large in the aggregate could be formed, but the companies who
expended considerable money to develop claims, but were forced to
abandon work by the great expense and difficulty of getting in supplies,
would resume. Mr. Valleau said: "All that the district needs is communication to make it one of the best of districts either for mining or as
a place for home-seekers. The Omineca, with its rich deposits of gold,
coal, timber, rich lands, water-powers, magnificent scenery, and good
hunting and fishing, would not long remain the terra incognita it is
to-day with advent of a railway."
OSILINKA AND  MESILINKA RIVERS.
The Osilinka and Mesilinka Rivers are the main affluents of the
Omineca River. The Osilinka gains about 25 miles up and is separated
from the Omineca by a high unexplored mountain area. Mr. Swannell,
B.C.L.S., estimated that the valley, which is well timbered, holds about
20,000 acres which could be cultivated. The Mesilinka, which joins about
5 miles lower down, and averages about 100 feet in width and 7 feet in
depth and running about 5 miles an hour, has about 40,000 acres of
agricultural land in its valley. The river has numerous rapids, but only
one canyon, about a mile from the mouth. Between Osilinka and
Mesilinka Rivers are mountains reaching 5,000 to 6,000 feet. The
Mesilinka River often splits into several channels and has many bars
covered with piles of driftwood.
The Police Trail crosses from the Upper Omineca by a mountain
pass to Tutizzi Lake and Tutizika River, a tributary, and thence follows
down the Mesilinka to a point about 24 miles from Fort Grahame, when
the river sweeps south-eastward to the Omineca and the trail crosses
north-eastward via Factor Ross Creek to Fort Grahame. The pass from
Omineca River to Tutizzi Lake, 4,000 feet, is choked with huge boulders
alternative with patches of muskeg, and on either side are high broken
glacier-bearing mountains 7,000 feet high. At the head of Tutizzi Lake
is a small area of meadow and bottom, but no land of value is found
along the lake. In Mesilinka Valley the land, excepting a narrow strip
of river-bottom, is sandy to gravelly. To the south the country rises in
benches mostly burnt clean. The valley narrows after turning southward, the easterly limit being a high rounded range dividing it from the
Finlay Valley. Here and there are patches of good bottom and some
large benches, but no compact area of good land.    There are no meadows.
Throughout the Omineca region surveyors and explorers agree that
summer frosts are absent until late in September in the river-valleys of
average altitude of 2,200 feet. The fertility of the soil is vouched for by
a luxuriant natural growth, especially noticeable in the sub-irrigated
cottonwood river-bottoms. Climate does not vary much over the whole
region.    Winter is severe, but weather generally bright and bracing. Extreme  hot  weather  i
average being about 560.
seldom   encountered in summer, the summei
Rainfall is about 35 inches.
FINLAY  FORKS.
Finlay Forks is a small settlement situated at a strategic point where
the Parsnip River from the south-eastward and Finlay from the northwestward, draining part of the great intermontane trench west of the
Rockies, meet to form the Peace River, which flows eastward to join the
Mackenzie basin. The Parsnip-Finlay Valleys lie in general direction
of about 30° west of north. The Rocky Mountains, which cross Peace
River farther east, swing north-westward to the north and cross the 124th
meridian about 6 miles north of the 56th parallel. There is now a small
settlement at Finlay Forks and vicinity. A store is operated at Finlay
Forks and one a short distance to the westward. A sub-mining recorder
is located here. F. Tnpper, B.C.L.S., who surveyed a number of lots
near here in 1916, said: " In my opinion there is room for a large settlement." The lots then surveyed cover 8,573 acres in immediate vicinity
of Finlay Forks. Lots 7459 to 7468, near Pete Toy's Bar, are exceptionally good, lightly timbered with poplar and willow, with considerable
open places luxuriantly vegetated; Lots 7469 to 7475 are thickly covered
with spruce and cottonwood, not over 2 feet in diameter, fairly dense and
difficult to clear, but the soil is good, a dark loam with clay subsoil;
Lots 7468 to 7476 front on Parsnip River, elevated benches covered with
dead stumps; other lots are similar to the group in Lots 7469 to 7475.
Soil is goo'd throughout.
F. Tupper, B.C.L.S., said: "I think the land around Finlay Forks
is very suitable for agricultural purposes. There is a large tract of really
good land there besides the area surveyed, room for a large settlement.
The largest stretch extends westward to foot-hills of the Wolverine
Mountains, 15 to 20 miles. It is timbered with spruce, cottonwood,
poplar, etc. Where spruce occurs clearing is somewhat heavy, but there
are stretches where only poplar and willow occur, with open patches of
peavine and other growth, where clearing would be very light. The
country is well watered, apart from the main river, by Manson River and
tributaries and several small lakes. Good stock-water can be obtained
in numerous sloughs and swamps, while in localities away from creeks a
good supply should be obtained in wells at shallow depth.
" At Finlay Forks, on many of the pre-emptions, vegetables, such
as potatoes, turnips, onions, lettuce, rhubarb, etc., of very fine quality
are being successfully grown; but as most of the settlers have only been
there about three or four years, cultivation up to date has been on a very
small scale. As there is no market available at the present time, the
settlers are only growing sufficient for their own use. As far as the soil
is concerned, I am convinced that the country is eminently adapted for
the growth of all kinds of root-crops, and I think oats and barley would
probably do well. Hogs, stock-raising, and dairying should also in time
be very profitable. s
" Although the country round Finlay Forks is, in my opinion, so
suitable for settlement, cultivation on a large scale is not likely to be
attempted without railway communication. At the present time the
district is most inaccessible. The only way in which the settlers can get
in supplies is by boat or canoe from Giscome Portage down the Crooked,
Pack, and Parsnip, a distance of about 200 miles, or else from Hudson
Hope, which means poling or lining boats against a strong current and
several portages round rapids, etc., for about 100 miles. Without railway
transportation, I am afraid farming will not prove a profitable industry in
these parts."
The settlers all speak very highly of the climate, but no records have
been kept. Average rainfall is said to be about 15 inches. The summer
season is short, but the days are long and warm. Summer frosts occur,
but probably will to large extent disappear, as elsewhere, with settlement. Timber around Finlay Forks and along Peace River is spruce,
poplar, cottonwood, and a little pine in places; spruce would only be
suitable for building cabins, fences, etc., and supply is plentiful, while
there is abundant supply of other varieties for fuel.
Placer-miners worked in this vicinity to some extent in early days,
notably at Pete Toy's Bar, and sporadic work on a small scale has been
carried on in recent vears.
FINLAY   AND   PARSNIP   VALLEYS.
The Finlay and Parsnip Valleys, in these lower portions, have a large
area of land suitable for agriculture. F. C. Swannell, B.C.L.S., who said
he had no hesitation in predicting a great future for them, estimated
that between the mouth of the Nation River in Parsnip Valley and
Ingenika in Finlay River Valley, upon a conservative basis, at least
500,000 acres are available.
From about 17 miles below Nation River north to the Omineca is
a very large stretch of generally level rolling country lightly timbered
with spruce, pine, poplar, and birch, bounded on the east by the Parsnip
and Finlay Rivers and on the west by a high mountain range. Average
width of this tract is about 15 miles. Soil is chiefly a light sandy loam.
Southward the valley narrows. Near the mouth of Pack River there is
a low flat about a mile wide between benches 150 feet high, the river
wending from side to side, broken by sloughs and islands; these and
the river-flat are generally heavily timbered, the benches lightly covered,
portions being swept by fire. Between the Pack and Nation the east side
is rough and broken. Excepting the river-flat and a few small benches,
it is unfit for agriculture. North from Nation River the country is rough
and broken on both sides. On the west a range of hills, rough and
heavily timbered, 700 to 800 feet high, extends 16 miles. To the west of
these hills is a wide valley extending to the main range forming the
western boundary of the Parsnip-Finlay Valley. It is rough and well
timbered, excepting a large wet swamp, 10 or 12 miles long, commencing at a small lake about i)/2 miles from Nation River and following the
course of a stream which enters Parsnip River 17 miles below Nation
River. Below this the valley widens into a broad comparatively level
tract and holds considerable arable land.
The Parsnip joins the Finlay close to the 56th parallel and about 7
miles east of the 124th meridian. Near their junction the Finlay is somewhat larger than the Parsnip. Manson River enters the Finlay about a
mile west of the confluence. At all stages of water both main rivers
are good for small boats and could be navigated for considerable distance.
On account of almost entire absence of rock along the banks the thread
of the stream shifts from year to year, forming numerous islands,
sloughs, and sand-bars. In places cut-banks up to 150 feet high occur
along the rivers.
T. A. McElhanney, B.C.L.S., said: " In vicinity of the junction the
valley extends from the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the east to the
Wolverine Mountains on the west, a distance of about 20 miles. From
the Omineca to about 15 miles up the Parsnip the valley maintains this
width, when it narrows to width of 2 to 5 miles. All of this may not be
considered agricultural land for immediate settlement. It does, however,
represent closely the area which might eventually be brought under
cultivation on improvement of transportation facilities and building of
roads to give access to the waterways. Reports from different sources
agree that there is agricultural land along the Finlay for distance of 100
miles above the Omineca, and that the valley averages 6 miles in width.
A more detailed survey will probably show in the two valleys an area
suitable for agriculture of between 500,000 and 600,000 acres, the greater
portion of which is within 5 miles of either river. Settlement will be
continuous, as there is probably no place in about 140 miles of waterway
where settlement on one side of the river is not practicable."
Nature of soil varies, though practically the whole extent has one
common feature—absence of rock in place or large boulders. This
renders cultivation easy when the timber and brush is cleared. On the
western side, in the area most directly affected by detritus from the
Wolverine Range, soil contains a large percentage of fine mica sand. It
was noticed that when fire had run in this district the soil was pretty
well burned and rendered almost barren. In near vicinities of the rivers
there is a much greater depth of sandy loam and humus. In a great
many places where fire had run, the soil, though burned considerably,
was not stuffed, evidence of which was found in the abundant growth
of grass, peavine, and vetch.
Generally speaking, there is not much meadow. Reports agree that
there is a greater percentage of open meadow farther up the Finlay,
affording splendid opportunities for stock-raising. A settler in this area
could readily find a location where a fair percentage of his land could be
easily cleared and made to produce. Potatoes and other vegetables of
good quality have been grown at Finlay Forks, and oats ripened without mSSm
injury by frost. Wild fruits grow abundantly, cranberries, gooseberries,
red and black currants, blackberries, and raspberries.
On the northern slope of the hill range between Manson and Parsnip
Rivers is considerable valuable timber, principally spruce, balsam, and
pine. Much runs as high as 30 inches in diameter and is of good quality
and height. It could be easily logged to Manson River, which has
sufficient water for a few months at high water to float timber to the
junction. Besides saw-timber there is a great deal suitable for ties and
poles. There is also quite an extent of land west of Manson River and
south of Finlay and Omineca Rivers which would classify as timber
lands. The timber is not large or of as good quality as the hill timber,
but is easily accessible to the rivers as the country lends itself to road-
building. Poplar, birch, and cottonwood are scattered through the area,
principally in river-bottoms.
A small pioneer settlement has been maintained for the past ten
years in immediate vicinity of Finlay Forks. With a railway this point,
situated as it is at the junction of the rivers, similarly as Prince George
is situated at the junction of the Nechako and Fraser, will doubtless
become a townsite, and with navigable waterways for considerable
distance on both Finlay and Parsnip a large area could be brought into
contact with the railway by steamship services. Such transportation
services would not only serve settlement, but would enable mining
development on a much larger scale on the Ingenika River and elsewhere
where mining operations are now being carried on at considerable
expense due to present remoteness.
MINING   RESOURCES   OF   FINLAY   DISTRICT.
With railroad transportation it is anticipated that this district would
be the scene of considerable mining activity. ]. D. Galloway, Resident
Mining Engineer, in 1921 said: "For many years it has been known
that the sands and gravels of the Peace, Finlay, Ingenika, and other
rivers in the district are gold-bearing. This gold is, as a rule, fine, and
some at least may be classified as flour gold. As would be expected, gold
content of the gravels varies greatly, and only at certain places along
these rivers is the ground rich enough to be considered workable. There
are, however, believed to be many areas in which the gold content is
probably sufficient to make the gravels desirable dredging-ground. In
some places natural concentrations, as on bars, etc., have been worked
on a small scale with rockers by individuals, but no large production has
been made. During the past few years, however, a number of companies
have been testing certain areas with a view to installing dredges for
working the ground, and it is expected that some of these prospects will
before long reach the production stage.
" The Tanisto Mining and Development Company, Limited, commenced testing a number of placer leases on Ingenika River in 1920 with
a drilling outfit.    Results were reported satisfactory and further work 1
was carried on in 1921. The Peace River Gold Dredging Company has
a number of leases on Peace River, and following satisfactory tests in
the past two years are considering putting a dredge on the property.
Several large blocks of leases on Peace River are held by W. A. Aubin
and preparations for testing the ground are under way.
" Along Peace River and some tributaries surface croppings of coal-
seams and coal formation indicate a considerable coalfield. A report,
1912, by C. F. J. Galloway shows that cropping out along the Peace are
a number of seams of bituminous coal of excellent quality. The seams
described in the report vary in width from 2 to 4 feet, but larger seams
are known to occur in the field. Practically no development has been
done, as up to the present there has been no inducement to do so.
Without railway transportation there is, of course, no market, and
development must wait until at least railway-construction is definitely
assured. The field is, however, a valuable potential asset and will
probably be developed in the near future." The writer also refers to the
indications of possible oilfields.
There was some excitement in 1907 and 1908 over gold finds on
McConnell Creek and Ingenika River, and McConnell Creek was then
staked from end to end, but the following year there was little work
done, and since one or two miners have worked there with satisfactory
results each season. In 1917 the attention of dredging companies was
attracted to the Ingenika and also to Peace River, and since work of
testing with drills has been carried on. J. D. Galloway, Resident Mining
Engineer, in 1921 said it would not surprise him if the next great placer
stampede was to this section.
R. G. McConnell, Canadian Geological Survey, said the geological
section afforded by the Finlay for the first 150 miles follows the strike
of neighbouring mountains and shows occasional sections of the gneisses
and mica-schists of which they are built. Numerous sections of conglomerate and plant-bearing shales and sandstone similar to those found
on the Omineca above the Black Canyon are also exposed along this part
of the river. After bearing to the west the Finlay cuts through green
schists, then in apparently conformable descending section through limestones and calc-schists, quartzose shales and conglomerates, and gneisses
and mica-schists, probably archsean. The latter rest on and dip away
from coarse-grained granite and diorites, the eastern boundary of which
follows the western shore of Thutade Lake. The green schists are
probably a continuation of the gold-bearing schists of the Omineca, but
if so the band becomes narrower toward the north.
He said: " Gold was found along the Finlay and on all streams
coming in from the west, in some places in quantities to deserve attention
of the prospector. No gold was found on streams flowing from the
Rockies above Little Canyon. The section drained by the Finlay.has
never been prospected to any extent owing to the difficulty and expense
of access, and the same may be said of the greater part of the Omineca country also. I have little doubt, judging from the gold indications met
with in the hurried explorations, that if easier and cheaper communication was opened up paying gold districts would be discovered."
UPPER   FINLAY   VALLEY.
Fort Grahame, a Hudson's Bay Company's post, is located on Finlay
River about 65 miles above Finlay Forks. In 1914 F. C. Swannell
started from here on an exploration of the Finlay and Ingenika Valleys,
and cruised an area of about 5,000 square miles between latitudes 560 30'
and 570 45' westward from the Rockies to longitude 1260 30'. The region
is mountainous, about 400 square miles being considered agricultural
land. Average elevation of main river-valleys is between 2,200 and 3,000
feet, mountains rising 3,000 feet higher, and higher ranges with glacier-
bearing peaks exceeding 10,000 feet. He found in this 5,000-mile area
a scant population of a dozen prospectors and a couple of small nomadic
LOOKING   UP   MOBERLY   PASS,   PEACE  RIVER  DISTRICT.
bands of Sikanni Indians. No attempt at agriculture had been made,
except a little desultory gardening at Fort Grahame. The Finlay Valley,
however, as far north as 57° 30' contains probably the largest compact area
of excellent land remaining unexploited in British Columbia, and both
soil and climate render it particularly desirable for settlement. Its
present remoteness and consequent difficulty and expense of obtaining
supplies is the chief drawback. A railway touching Peace River and a
steamboat on the Upper Peace, Parsnip, and Finlay would make the
whole of the Finlay-Parsnip Valley readily accessible. Steamers now
run on Peace River in summer to Hudson Hope, near where the canyon,
25 miles long, bars navigation. From the canyon to Finlay Forks the
Peace River is good, excepting two short rapids, the Parle Pas and
Finlay. On Finlay River there is no obstruction for 170 miles, excepting
Deserters Canyon, 35 miles above Fort Grahame and 100 miles from
Finlay Forks. Mr. Swannell said: " Excluding Finlay Valley above Prairie
Mountain as being at too high an altitude for such areas of good land
as exist to be of value economically, there remains between Grahame
and this point 300 square miles of good land. Ninety square miles of
this is river-bottom, excellent soil, but generally too heavily timbered
with spruce and cottonwood to be classified as farming land. Besides,
this bottom land is continually being eroded, the river often shifting half
a mile in a season. These bottom lands are also much cut up by sloughs.
This leaves 210 square miles of bench lands, mostly in the first 50 miles
above Grahame. There are 75 square miles of good land in the first 40
miles up the Ingenika, excluding 10 miles of fine spruce timber. Climate
is rather less severe in winter than in Nechako Valley and snowfall in
the Lower Finlay light. Rainfall is abundant. There is almost entire
absence of summer frosts in the main Finlay Valley."
The Finlay is exceedingly crooked, cut into many channels, with
numerous drift-piled bars, and erosion during high water is rapid.
Although actual distance from Grahame to the Ingenika is 14 miles, by
river it is fully 20 miles. Three-quarters of a mile below the Ingenika
the first rock-exposure is noted, a jutting reef on the right bank which
at high water forms a whirlpool. The alluvial bottom land, mostly
timbered with spruce and cottonwood, varies from i/2 to 2 miles wide,
and the valley averages 6 miles in width, rising on the east in a succession
of benches, the highest 250 feet above river-level. The land is uniformly
good, loam or clay loam, and very seldom sandy. Timber is mostly jack-
pine and poplar. A pack-trail runs along the east side, keeping to the
benches to avoid the heavily timbered and slough-cut bottom lands.
Excepting a creek 50 feet wide, 2 feet deep, 8 miles from Grahame, and
three smaller creeks, the bench lands are without water other than an
occasional swamp. Nine miles above Grahame are several large swampy
meadows surrounded by excellent bottom land, but without draining
they appear of little value. For 10 miles above Ingenika River the Finlay
retains the same characteristics as below—tortuous, badly cut by bars
and sloughs. Five miles below Deserters Canyon, however, it gathers
into one channel 250 yards wide and northward reaches the mountain-
slope on the east. On the west the mountains are 8 miles back, but good
land extends only 2 miles from the river and then changes to undulating
burnt country full of small lakes and pot-holes and much broken by gravel
Deserters Canyon, the only bar to navigation in 175 miles, is a gorge
\y2 miles long, with cliff walls of varying height to 130 feet. It is 160
feet wide at the head, but broken in midstream by huge rock fragments.
At low water it can be run safely by canoe, but two riffles being at all
bad. At high water, however, navigation is impossible for anything but
large boats on account of heavy swells, swirls, eddies, and whirlpool. A
good portage-trail exists on the west side, where the Klondikers built
windlass and skids in 1898. Above Deserters Canyon the river maintains
width of 250 feet, making several large bends westward, with high cut- banks at the bends. A few miles from where Akie River enters is a
network of islands, bars, and channels; in one place the river-bed being
half a mile wide. Twenty miles above the canyon the stream again
gathers in one channel, islands being occasional to Russel Creek, ^2
miles above Grahame. Thence for 13 miles to Paul Creek the river has
several large loops. The valley narrows to 3 miles. Above Paul Creek
the stream skirts the mountains on the east side. Kwadacha River enters
96 miles from Grahame and Fox River 3 miles beyond, a small stream
which occupies the north-westerly trend of the main valley; the Finlay
here abruptly leaving this valley and coming from the west in a narrow
gap between mountains until after passing the foot of Prairie Mountain,
where the river is in a wide valley paralleling its original course. At 115
miles from Grahame the mountains close together at Long Canyon, 5 miles
in length, in two places in which the river is cut into narrower channels
30 and 60 feet wide. Bad water occurs for half a mile and canoes are
lined up at low water, and at high water a portage is necessary. There
is no portage-trail. For 5 miles above the canyon the river is swift,
shallow, and broken by riffles. It has average width of 150 yards. At
125 miles from Grahame the stream turns abruptly from the north, in
Cascade Canyon, the main valley continuing westward and meeting the
Finlay again above the canyon, which is full of shallow rocky rapids
and 2 miles up has a 25-foot drop in a series of wild cascades. Above
the gorge-like canyon the valley is again wide, with an eastern continuation across to Fox River, in places having width of 3 miles, but excepting
a couple of square miles of meadow and bottom north-east of Cascade
Canyon and small bottoms in loops the land is not of value, being stony
and gravelly and denuded of soil by forest fires which have swept the
whole upper valley. From Porcupine Creek the river is a succession of
shallow, boulder-strewn rapids. Above Thudaka River, a mountain
torrent, the river comes from the south-east, and after a couple of small
cascades falls through Reef Canyon, 2.V2 miles long, into vertical walls.
Above Reef Canyon the rough country through which the river has
cut its way changes to alluvial flats occupying an ancient lake-basin;
the river, widened to 300 yards, having sluggish flow and the bed is
reed-choked and shores muddy. On either hand are large flats thickly
covered with willows and full of beaver meadows and ponds for a mile
from the river. This lake-like expanse is about 5 miles long and lies
north and south. At the head the current again becomes perceptible and
the river is soon a swift-flowing stream full of gravel-bars and islands
between high mountains. Twelve miles above Reef Canyon Thudegade
River enters from the west and 2 miles farther Delta Creek from the east.
A horse-trail from Lake Thutade leaves the Finlay here, follows up Delta
Creek, crosses the summit and down Bower Creek, reaching the Finlay
again a mile below Long Canyon. At Delta Creek the Finlay is 125
feet, running swiftly over a gravel bottom. It continues swift and full
of bars and islands until in latitude 57°  17', 165 miles from Grahame,
Thirty-foi the valley narrows and swings in between the mountains from the southwest.
Above Delta Creek for about 12 miles are some fairly level benches
with small grass-bordered lakes, but the whole country is destitute of
soil, and thence to the source in Thutade Lake bordering country is
rough, intervening area to the mountains being covered with benches or
ridges of washed boulders and gravel, evidently remains of a great glacial
talus which filled the valley. There is little soil on the hills, boulders
and a small quantity of decayed vegetable matter and moss, with poor,
scarce timber, chiefly spruce. The river, which leaves Thutade Lake in
a canyon 4 miles long with a fall 60 feet high at the end, with swift water
above and below, is 100 feet wide below the falls, 6 to 8 feet deep, with
current of about 10 miles an hour. For some distance below the falls
the banks are sloping and there is a little bottom land. Then the banks
become precipitous and the trail leaves the river and crosses benches 300
feet above; thence for 9 miles traverses rough country to Canyon Creek,
after crossing which some bottom land occurs with some beaver meadows,
and after a few miles over boulder-strewn country runs over the bench
lands to Delta Creek.
Between Thutade Lake and McConnell Creek, a branch of Ingenika
River, on which in 1908 some placer-mining excitement occurred, and
where occasional mining has since been carried on in a small way, is a
low flat summit with some small lakes, some draining to Thutade Lake,
others to McConnell Creek.
INGENIKA  RIVER.
Ingenika River, the main affluent of the Finlay, enters about 14 miles
by air-line above Grahame, 29 miles by river. It is crooked, full of
sloughs, about 120 yards wide at the mouth, with clear water and swift
current. The valley, fairly straight, runs a little north of west for 55
miles. To the foot of the first canyon, 80 miles up-stream, there is a
fall of about 500 feet, 375 feet in the upper 35 miles, and it is difficult to
pole canoes up owing to " sweepers " and overhanging bushes preventing
lining.
A characteristic of the Lower Ingenika Valley is the continuous line
of grassy and scarped terraces bounding the valley-bottom proper on
the north. Arable lands which extend to about 50 miles up aggregate
about 50,000 acres. The river is tortuous, wending from side to side of
the valley-bottom and forming many sloughs and islands. The bottoms
are excellent land, lightly timbered with poplar, alder, and pine and
patches of spruce bottom. The higher benches are mostly covered with
pine, the loam soil here inclining to sandy. Twenty miles up Swannell
River enters from the south. This stream bends sharply to the west
about 4 miles up and forks about 5 miles farther on. Between it and the
Ingenika a large area of bench land is included, only broken by an
occasional rocky ridge. Several lakes, meadows, and muskegs occur.
The bench land is generally sandy, however, and westward runs up into
Thirty-five a large plateau covered with jack-pine thickets and, against the mountains
to the south, open spruce-swamps. At Pelly Creek, 40 miles up, a long-
mountain parallels the river on the south for 30 miles, being only cut
through once by a transverse valley. To the north Mount Pelly rises,
the range continuing westward without a break to the North Fork.
Above Pelly Creek the river is very crooked, looping through heavily
timbered spruce bottoms. About 10 miles of timber occur here, with
much willow and alder bottom and large open spruce-swamps. About
41 miles up the valley has been denuded by fire and the river blocked
with fallen timber, resulting in a shifting bed and new channels, the
whole width of the river being blocked 56 miles up. From here the river
fast becomes a series of riffles, shallow rapids, and drift-piles, the whole
valley being fire-swept, and the mountains on each side become more
rugged and close in. At 70 miles up the river-grade becomes 46 feet in
a mile, and 5 miles beyond is a canyon ending in a chute with a drop of
15 feet through a gap 25 feet wide. Above, the river improves for a few
miles, but bordering country is rough.
Swannell River is 80 feet wide and swift. The South Fork heads
in a wide valley paralleling the Finlay and running through to the
Omineca, containing Mesilinka River for the larger part of its course.
At the divide between the Ingenika and Omineca waters several long
lakes occur. Pelly Creek, the largest affluent of the Ingenika, occupies
a deep mountain-bordered valley. Tucka Valley has considerable areas
of meadow and bottom, but the amount is too limited and altitude too
high for the land to be of value agriculturally. Wrede Creek has practically no land, the only large flat, at 2,900 feet, at the first forks, being a
stony barren. The North Fork has a comparatively wide valley with
large meadows continuing northward for 20 miles. The Ingenika sweeps
in from the south-west beyond this fork, following the foot of a long-
unbroken mountain.
Russel Creek, the first tributary of the Finlay of size on the right
north of Ingenika River, occupies a valley which, continuing- beyond
the head of the creek, becomes the valley pirated by the Finlay after
breaking through at Long Canyon.
Akie River, which joins the Finlay from the east, 12 miles above
Deserters Canyon, has no agricultural possibilities, nor has Paul Creek.
There is no agricultural land on Kwadacha River, excepting- at its mouth
and between it and Fox River, which drains a valley above 5 miles wide.
Ten square miles at the mouth are burned clean; the soil, however, is
sandy and farther up becomes gravelly.
TIMBER QUANTITIES.
Parsnip River drainage-basin, 4,492 square miles, with 23 per cent,
above timber-line, carries 7,382,500,000 board-feet of saw-timber, including 36,912,000 feet of Douglas fir, 1,476,500,000 feet of balsam, 5,536,875,000
feet of spruce, and 332,213,000 feet of lodge-pole pine. Stands exceeding
10,000 feet per acre cover 21 square miles and 5,000 to 10,000 feet per
^^ acre   1,001   square   miles.    It   is   estimated   that   175   square   miles   are
suitable for agriculture.
Finlay basin covers 18,861 square miles, with 67 per cent, above
timber-line. The timber stand is computed at 3,518,400.000 board-feet,
of which 2,638,800,000 feet is spruce. Of the forest area, a stand of 5,000
to 10,000 feet per acre occurs on 263 square miles. The arable area is
estimated at 356 square miles.
FINLAY   FORKS   TO   HUDSON   HOPE.
Hudson Hope is a Hudson's Bay post on the north side of Peace
River at the western border of the Peace River Block. Below Hudson
Hope Peace River widens out and flows with uniform current through
a valley cut deep across the surrounding plains. Distance from Finlay
Forks to Hudson Hope is 92 miles, 72 miles to the head of Rocky
Mountain Canyon, which bars navigation, and thence 20 miles to Hudson
Hope; Fort St. John is 51 miles lower down and Dunvegan, Alberta, 117
miles beyond; thence to Peace River 61 miles, this point being linked
with Edmonton by the Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway. At McLennan this railway branches westward to Spirit River,
from where it branches south to Grande Prairie, and a westerly extension
has been located, but not built, from Spirit River to Pouce Coupe, in
the Peace River Block, connecting with the original proposed projection
of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, which runs north-east from Fort
McLeod via Misinchinka River and Pine Pass and Pine River to Murray
River; thence eastward to Pouce Coupe and south to Swan Lake. The
route surveyed by Mr. Williams northward from Vanderhoof to Finlay
Forks follows down Peace River to Fludson Hope, 48 miles from the
Pacific Great Eastern projection at Pine River, the distance thence to
Swan Lake being 82 miles. Steamers run during summer to Hudson
Hope.
Finlay Forks is at Mile 188 from Vanderhoof and there are alternate
routes on either side of the Peace. By crossing to the north side
advantage could be taken of a southerly exposure, eliminating necessity
of protection against snow-slides; however, two bridges across the Peace
would be required. By following the south shore the bridges would not
be needed, but several snow-sheds would be required around Mount
Selwyn and to the east. On this side a series of benches, natural railway
embankments, extend to the canyon, Mile 273, in which some fairly
heavy rock-work would be necessary. The main bench above the Peace,
altitude 2,400 feet, is reached at Maurice Creek, opposite Hudson Hope,
Mile 296. The Williams route from here crosses eastward across
Moberly River to MacEwan Creek and Pine River, and southward up
that stream to Mile 344 of the original projection, at a point 82 miles
from Swan Lake.
Mr. Williams in his report said: " Following down Peace River to
Fludson Hope, agricultural possibilities are rather limited on account of
the narrowness of the bench on either side.    Only four settlers were
:J encountered, but results which these had obtained would come up to the
expectations of the most optimistic. At Beattie's ranch on the north
side, 20 miles above Rocky Mountain Portage, tomatoes were ripened on
vines out-of-doors from seed sown outside. Vegetables and fruits grown
at Hudson Hope would compare most favourably with those grown on
Vancouver Island.
" From the upper bench at Hudson Hope on the north side of the
Peace, at elevation of about 2,400 feet, practically all the land in a northeasterly direction to Vermilion Chutes is good land for mixed farming.
" Following in a south and easterly direction from Hudson Hope
via Moberly Lake to South Pine River, very few have as yet come in,
and practically all those who filed on homesteads have since left, claiming
that farming in this district was unsuccessful on account of summer
frosts. This section contains large stretches of commercial timber, being
the only section which has escaped being burnt. No timber of consequence is found between Finlay Forks and Hudson Hope."
Peace River, leaving Finlay Forks, flows northerly for about 8 miles
through what is practically the valley of the Finlay, and then bends
eastward, cutting through the main range of the Rockies in a narrow
valley for 40 miles with little bordering land. Leaving the mountains
the valley widens gradually, and small flats and benches lightly covered
with poplar and pine occur along the river. The mountains bounding
the valley decrease rapidly in height and slopes are open and grass-
covered. Reaching Rocky Mountain Canyon, about 80 miles from the
forks, the river bends sharply south, leaving the main valley, which
continues easterly into width of about 2 miles, and returning to it at
Hudson Hope, about 12 miles from the head of the canyon. The river
between Finlay Forks and the canyon is navigable for steamers at every
stage of water, the only obstacles being Finlay and Parle Pas Rapids.
The former could be improved greatly by removing the rocks which
obstruct the stream ; the latter present little difficulty to navigation.
F. Tupper in 1916 surveyed a number of pre-emptions between
Finlay Forks and Hudson Hope; one at mouth of Carbon River, eight
at a point known as Branham's Flat, one at 20-Mile Creek, four at 12-Mile
Creek, altogether 2,395 acres. Fie said: " There is very little good land
along this part of Peace River, which is the passage of the river through
the Rocky Mountains. These lots consist of areas of flat land along the
river, held by trappers who ply their calling along the river and tributaries in winter, and in spring and summer grow sufficient vegetables,
etc., for their own use. There is not sufficient good land at any point
to make anything in the way of a settlement worthy of the name."
A. W. Harvey, B.C.L.S., said that between where it enters the
Rockies and the canyon there are not over 25,000 acres of agricultural
land bordering Peace River, about half covered by coal licences.
W. Wright, B.C.L.S., 1916, said that in the area between Finlay
Forks and the Rocky Mountains the country was similar to the Lower Finlay-Parsnip Valley, level benches with second-growth timber, sandy
loam soil, clayey in places. From about 6 miles from the head of Peace
River to Ottertail River, 38 miles, there is practically no agricultural
land, mountains rising abruptly. There are small patches at mouths of
Wicked and Barnard Rivers and good spruce scattered along mountainsides and near Clearwater and Ottertail Rivers. Below Ottertail River
the valley widens and there are strips of good land on either side.
PEACE   RIVER   DISTRICT.
Summarizing the agricultural areas outside the Peace River Block,
in which the chief settlement is located, notably in the Pouce Coupe
District at the south-east, where over 2,000 are located, Professor J. C.
Gwillim in 1919 said: " Concerning agricultural land, there are within
the limits of British Columbia, north and south of Hudson Hope, a few
partly wooded prairies and some steep, grassy hillsides on the north
RIVER,   PEACE  RIVER   DISTRICT.
banks of the rivers. The main country is thickly wooded with small
timber, chiefly spruce, jack-pine, and poplar.
" The most desirable flats or wintering-places for stock and feed are
already partly taken up by squatters, as at Halfway River, Hudson Hope,
Moberly Lake, Pine River, and its south and east branches, Lone Prairie
between the latter, and Flat Creek, farthest south of all.
" These places are all valley lands or deep depressions, mostly less
than 2,000 feet above sea-level. Lone Prairie, one of the most elevated
(2,400 feet), is a considerable tract of partly wooded flats nearly
surrounded by mountains, an area of about 30 square miles, in which
are half a dozen settlers. There are also extensive tracts of easily cleared
land on the South Branch of Halfway River, 44 miles north of Hudson
Hope, and on the western side of Kiskatinaw or Cutbank River, southwest of Pouce Coupe.
" The greater part of this country, if cleared of its forest-growth,
which is useless as timber, would afford good grazing land, while the valley-flats would furnish hay and wintering-places, especially those
which are visited by Chinook winds.
" On Lone Prairie, Mr. Wartenby, one of the settlers, told me he fed
his cattle for only ten days during the winter of 1918-19. This place used
to be a favourite wintering-place for Indian horses.
" The present situation of this area as regards agriculture now is:
Some stockmen on Halfway River; settlers who produce little or nothing
about Hudson Hope, having little market; and a few trapper settlers,
squatters, and absentees on Peace River above Hudson Flope, near
Moberly Lake, and at Sukunka River, Murray River, on Lone Prairie,
at Flat Creek, and along the western side of Kiskatinaw River. These
people cannot sell produce, nor have they much stock, excepting- one case
on Halfway River. The country has only Indian trails; hence those
who hold the land must risk a living by trapping or other occupations.
" The main highway of the country is the Peace River. This avenue
of approach from the eastern railway connections and from the west by
way of Fort George and the Parsnip River has a considerable traffic of
a frontier character, placer-miners, prospectors, trappers, and other
adventurers, or exploration parties."
In the south-east portion of the Block there is considerable settlement and two towns, Pouce Coupe and Rolla—over 2,000 people being-
stated to be in this part. Smaller settlement exists near Fort St. John.
Beyond the Alberta boundary are many rapidly settling districts with
considerable population, and Grande Prairie, Pouce Coupe, Spirit River,
Fort Vermilion, and Lake Saskatoon have become renowned for their
productive capabilities, and the large region from White Mud River to
Dunvegan Crossing westward to Hudson Hope offers a vast area for
settlement. Last year lands tributary to the two railways produced
about 3,000,000 bushels. Recently considerable fishing industry was
inaugurated in the Mackenzie River basin, a cannery being established
on Lake Athabaska, employing- 100 men. There are from 25,000 to
30,000 cattle in the district, 7,000 horses, 6,000 sheep, and 12,000 hogs.
During 1920, in Peace River Land District, homestead entries, soldier
grants, and sales totalled 1,395.
That a considerable coal-mining industry would be developed with
transportation facilities is consensus of opinion of all experts who have
examined the large coalfield near Hudson Hope and Carbon River, and
geologists consider chances of oil production are good. Placer leases are
held at several points along Peace River and dredging companies are
operating, ground having been tested by drills in the past two years and
one company is arranging to take in a dredge. The district has not
been prospected to large extent and few occurrences of mineral in place
are known, but it is considered possible that in addition to the known
deposits of placer gold and coal, and probably petroleum, important ore-
bodies may be discovered in the Rockies. About 1900 a number of low-
grade quartz claims were located on Mount Selwyn and some prospect- work was done for a couple of seasons, when, owing to distance from
transportation, work was abandoned. With exception of the westerly
part of this district, formations likely to produce metals are deeply
covered with Cretaceous shales and sandstones, and these in many
places by still younger formations.
Charles Camsell, Canadian Geological Survey, said springs of natural
gas and tar rising at several points in Peace River Valley suggest reservoirs of both substances at depth in the rocks below. Drilling has been
undertaken and in a well near Peace River a heavy flow of gas was struck
at a little over 1,000 feet. Beds of gypsum 10 to 50 feet thick are exposed
near Peace Point on both banks of Peace River, and it is estimated
217,000,000 tons are favourably situated for mining. Salt is associated
with the gypsum north of Peace Point and hopes are entertained for
finding of potash in association with the salt and gypsum as in certain
parts of the world.
LOOKING   UP   HALFWAY   RIVER.
" While all the mineral deposits are still in undeveloped state, it has
been fairly satisfactorily proved that there is a large amount of coal, gas,
and gypsum, and settlers can be assured of adequate supply of coal and
gas for fuel and power and of gypsum for building purposes as soon as
there is sufficient demand to warrant development."
Hudson Hope may be roughly taken as the eastern boundary of the
foot-hills and eastward the country is physiographically part of the great
plains, cut by the river-valleys, which are at varying depths below the
plateau. The Peace is 800 to 1,000 feet below a plateau at 2,200 to 2.400
feet elevation, and tributaries heading largely in marshes on the plateau
are in valleys which become more defined and deepen as they descend
to the main stream. East from Hudson Hope to the Alberta boundary,
extending some 36 miles north and south of the Peace, is the Peace River
Block, a rectangular area of 3.500,000 acres which was conveyed to the
Dominion,   and   lands   within   it   are   administered bv the Dominion Surveyed areas outside the Block are north from Peace River 14 miles,
adjoining the western boundary of the Block; near Halfway and Cameron
Rivers at the north-west of the Block; near junction of Blueberry and
North Pine River at the northern boundary; near Moberly River at the
western boundary; on South Pine and Pouce Coupe Rivers at the southeast near the Alberta boundary.
PEACE RIVER BLOCK.
Peace River Block lies north and south of Peace River, which divides
it roughly in equal portions. North Pine and Halfway Rivers are main
tributaries from the north and Moberly, South Pine, and Kiskatinaw from
the south, all having their headwaters beyond the Block. Many settlers
have taken up lands in the Block during the past few years, and in some
districts, notably near Rolla, in Pouce Coupe District, there is considerable settlement. Mr. Doucet, of the Dominion Forestry Branch,
estimates that 1,160,000 acres are available for agriculture. The timber
stand is estimated at 4,545,000,000 board-feet, of which 1,921,000,000 feet
is in stands of over 10,000 feet per acre on 259 square miles, and
1,762,000,000 feet on 410 square miles in stand of 5,000 to 10,000 feet per
acre.
Pouce Coupe, at the south-east of the Block, is a town of 300 to 400
people, with banks, hotels, telegraph, land offices, etc., and directories
credit its vicinity with population of 1,500. It has two sawmills, good
stores, churches, school, etc. The nearest railway communication is at
Spirit River, 65 miles distant. Rolla, 15 miles north, has about 600
people in its vicinity, farming and stock-raising, and oil explorations are
being carried on in the vicinity by the Imperial Oil Company. It has
two banks, two general stores, hardware and other stores, lumber-yard,
etc. The wagon-road from Grande Prairie runs north from Pouce Coupe
via Rolla to a steamer-landing on Peace River, and several steamers
which ply between Peace River Crossing and Hudson liope in summer
land supplies at this landing.
The Pouce Coupe District comprises several townships of gently
rolling prairies and a number with scattered bluffs and light woods.
Extent of the choice area is about 25 by 40 miles. It is an excellent
ranching district; an elevated plateau about 2,400 feet in elevation
immediately east of the Rocky Mountains and foot-hills. Soil is very
rich and wild hay and peavine grow abundantly. Influence of the warm
" Chinook " winds is marked. They sweep through the mountain passes
throughout the district from time to time during winter, sometimes
removing the snow and giving pleasant respite from the cold. Wheat
and all ordinary grains, grasses, and vegetables yield abundantly.
Fort St. John, on a small flat at foot of rugged banks 800 feet high
on the north bank of the Peace, established decades ago as a fur-trading
post, is centre of a small but growing settlement on the plateau to the
north, fairly level land, largely open or lightly wooded, with good soil
and luxuriant wild vegetation.    North Pine River enters 20 miles east in a deep valley, and its tributaries, with deep ravines, break up much of
the country and make it too rough for grain-growing. Those valleys and
hillsides afford good grazing. Dominion surveyors say that taken as
a whole this district is well adapted to mixed farming and ranching. In
1914 G. B. Milligan. B.C.L.S., reported about sixty settlers hereabout,
and the number is now said to be about 100.
VICINITY   OF   HUDSON   HOPE.
In vicinity of Hudson Hope, adjoining- the westerly boundary of the
Peace River Block and extending 14 miles north from Peace River, about
45,000 acres, drained by Lynx and Portage Creeks, were surveyed by
G. B. Milligan, B.C.L.S., in 1912. He said this area is well watered by
the forks of Lynx Creek and their branches, excellent mountain streams.
There are also numerous swamp meadows carrying water for the greater
part of the season.    Chinaman's Lake is in a slight depression about a
PEACE   RIVER   DISTRICT.
mile from the foot-hills, surrounding country being mostly covered with
small willow, poplar, and alder, with a few spruce. Forest fires have
devastated this country. The larger timber, excepting isolated clumps,
has disappeared, and under present conditions of brule and light windfall,
with second growth of poplar and willow, clearing is light. Large areas
have been almost entirely cleared by the fire, and grasses of wild varieties,
peavine, bluejoint, etc., have taken root, and as it cures standing, affords
considerable winter feed.
The two stores at Hudson Hope, which hitherto were merely trading-
outposts for Indian trade, have increased stocks to meet expanding
demands of travellers and settlers, about forty of whom have taken homesteads in the immediate vicinity during the past summer (1912).
This area lies on a nearly level plateau about 500 feet above Peace
River and includes practically all the available land between the Peace
River Block and the foot-hills to the west. Top soil varies, being mostly
a few inches of black loam and in places sandy loam with clay subsoil.
^' mmm
SOUTH OF PEACE RIVER BLOCK.
To the south, adjoining the western boundary of the Block, about
6,000 acres are surveyed near Moberly River and a large area extending"
westerly up the South Pine. This river heads in Pine Pass. The
mountains, lowering as the river is descended, are generally close to the
river, but leave some fertile flats in the bends. At intervals the
mountains are 2 or 3 miles distant, leaving room for valleys of larger
extent, on which natural hay meadows alternate with patches of timber.
Agricultural lands in the valley, including that part within the Block,
are computed at 130,000 acres. Mean elevation is about 2,400 feet.
General character of the soil is black leaf-mould with sandy loam or clay
subsoil, appearing to be well adapted for garden produce and oats, and
the rich wild hay in the meadows and grass on the hill-slopes would
allow cattle-raising on a moderate scale. Surveyed land outside the
Block is largely in the area known as the Burns Block at the south-west
corner.
There is no settlement on Sukunka River. On Murray River,
another tributary of the South Pine, there are small settlements at Cowic
and Wolverine Creeks, the former 72 miles and the latter 80 miles from
Pouce Coupe, the nearest town. Apart from fanning, the only industry
is trapping. On open area up the creeks, as among the scattered poplars
and willows, soil is black loam with sandy clay subsoil. Wheat ripens
and oats are a sure crop, but as no threshing is possible with present
means of transport, the wheat is used chiefly for chicken-feed and oats
for green food to cattle and horses. Excellent potatoes are grown, but
judicious location is necessary to ensure them against frost. All ordinary
garden vegetables do well in the short but hot summer. The open
spaces afford good wild hay and where meadows can be irrigated they
can be cut year after year. Settlement areas being small and transportation lacking, profitable wheat-raising cannot be expected, and, as cattle
must be fed in winter, mixed farming is considered the most likely
industry.    Range cattle will feed through all but the hardest winters.
Kiskatinaw River heads in some marshes and is comparatively
sluggish. Like other streams, its valley deepens into descent, also those
of the tributaries. Ascending the creeks areas of open land with excellent
soil are found, but nowhere is there room for settlement of over 100
to 200 people without clearing off the timber. Excluding these fertile
areas up the creeks and flats at their mouths, with occasional strips in
the valleys, the country is mountainous. About 86 square miles have
been surveyed near Kiskatinaw River, south of the Block.
To the eastward 165 square miles have been surveyed, extending 14
miles west from the Alberta boundary north and south of Swan Lake,
including considerable good lands in the southern extension of the Pouce
Coupe Prairie.
The country in vicinity of Swan Lake is rolling, with long even
slopes.    From Swan Lake, in southerly part of Township 26, a long gentle slope rises to the south boundary of the township. This elevation holds,
generally, through Township 27, in a gently sloping rolling series of low
hills, practically all of which could be put under cutivation. A few small
creeks with good water probably run throughout the year. Soil is rich
loam over clay and sandy clay. In burnt-over areas the surface soil has
been burned to the clay, but with heavy growth of grasses, peavine, etc.,
it is evident that such places are resuming their original fertility. It is
primarily a dairying district. Cattle require feeding in midwinter
months, 2 tons of hay per head being considered sufficient. Garden
produce of excellent quality can be grown. While not much has yet been
done with grains in the immediate vicinity, there is no doubt that wheat
and oats can be successfully raised. The Pouce Coupe District, which
has practically the same climatic conditions, is fast becoming- famed knits grain. The greater part of this district is covered by small poplar
and willow-brush, more or less dense. Considerable open stretches occur.
Some spruce and tamarack of good size grow north of Swan Lake. To
the south, through Township 27, the growth becomes more dense. The
road to Pouce Coupe and via Rolla to Peace River from Grande Prairie,
on the Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway, passes through
the district, distance from the railway being about 72 miles. There is a
weekly mail service to Pouce Coupe, the nearest post-office.
HALFWAY   RIVER  AND   VICINITY.
At the north-west of the Peace River Block, in the valley of Halfway
River and tributaries and vicinity, 57,000 acres were surveyed by G. B.
Milligan, B.C.L.S., in 1912. Lots 1407-1313 in Halfway Valley lie about
5 miles south of Halfway River and on the south side of the valley of
Kobes Creek, the general slope being north to Kobes Creek. The first
bench from Kobes Creek rises about 60 feet, and from this bench the
ground rises gradually for about half a mile to a ridge forming the south
boundary of the watershed of Halfway River. In places the soil is
covered with moss with appearances of muskeg, but when digging down
the soil under the moss is found rich black loam, in places 18 inches deep,
with clay subsoil. Growth throughout is principally second-growth
poplar, willow, and alder, with patches of spruce and pine. The land
is drained by small streams originally from seepage-water along low hills
to the south. Lots 1440-1442 along Kobes Creek have excellent meadow
along lower flats for most part open. Growth is light poplar and willow.
Upper benches are covered with heavier jack-pine, poplar, willow, and
spruce. Soil is all sandy loam. Lots 1430-1437 are chiefly high land on
either side of the ridge between Halfway River and Kobes Creek. The
top of the ridge is covered with dense jack-pine, alder, and willow, and
soil is light and gravelly. The south slopes toward Kobes Creek are
gradual; growth is mostly scattered clumps of poplar, alder, and willow,
and there is also excellent growth of peavine and grass. Slopes to
Graham River have dense alder, willow, and windfall and light and
gravelly soil.    Good bottom land is found on Lots 1431 and 1433. .
The land surveyed between Halfway and Graham Rivers is mostly
level bench and contains some excellent land, the strip along Graham
River being mostly open meadow with clumps of small willow and
poplar, with peavine and grass.    Soil is black loam with clay subsoil.
North from Halfway River benches slope up to undulating plateau
country broken by the valleys of a number of small creeks draining
south-easterly to the Halfway. Some settlers engage in stock-raising
in vicinity of the river. A low rolling plateau extends northward to the
headwaters of Cameron River. This stream, flowing south-easterly to
Halfway River, and a number of tributary creeks draining in the same
direction, are in valleys well below the general surface. The country
rises in benches, mostly narrow, to undulating plateau, broken in places
by low hills. Part is lightly wooded with poplar, aspen, and willow, with
patches of heavier timber, mostly spruce. A large portion is open, or
partly open, growing rank peavine. Soil is mostly clay loam on clay
subsoil, with mossy top in places, notably on a number of small dry
muskegs.
At the junction of Cypress Creek and Halfway River, about 45
miles up from where Flalfway River enters the Block, about 12,000 acres
have been surveyed on benches rising from Flalfway River and Cypress
Creek. A large proportion of the surveyed area is flat, partly marshy
bench land with mossy surface, but can be easily drained. Soil is sandy
to clay loam. Part of the area is covered with poplar and willow, part
with spruce. A flat strip adjoins Flalfway River for some distance. The
Police Trail from Fort St. John via Halfway River to Fort Grahame
follows up Cypress Creek and crosses the Rockies by way of Laurier
Pass.
NORTH   OF  PEACE  RIVER  BLOCK.
In 1913 and 1914 G. T>. Milligan, B.C.L.S., made a reconnaissance
survey north of the Peace River Block to the northerly limits of the
Province. About 18,000 square miles were explored, north to 590 17'
between the Alberta boundary and foot-hills of the Rockies. Mr.
Milligan said an outstanding- feature was uniformity of surface. There
is absence of prominent hills and mountains, and although it is more or
less undulating, the whole region may be spoken of as a huge plateau.
The country rises gradually from the bench north of the Peace at 2,100
feet to the watershed between the Peace and Nelson River drainages at
3,500 to 3,700 feet, their summit lying east to west about 570 30' N.
Viewed from the summit looking north and east, the country gradually
subsides from its rough and broken character at the summit to that of
low rounded ridges which merge into the general level of the vast plateau.
Until the latitude of Kotcho Lake is reached the country rises in no place
to what may be called a hill, although the general slope to the north is
gently undulating. North from Kyklo River the country rises again
gradually to hills which, extending north-westerly, form the height of
land between Fort Nelson and Black River; the westerly boundary of
the plateau region is formed by a line of broken flat-topped hills extending north-westerly between Prophet and Nelson Rivers. These hills are
sharply defined and rise abruptly 1,000 feet above the plateau.
A feature of this area is that, with exception of along river-valleys,
the region is covered with moss from a few inches to 6 feet deep. When
the moss has been burned off grass 2 to 4 feet high grows. When drained
and the moss removed the greater proportion will be found cultivable.
Taking the total area explored at 18,000 square miles, about a quarter
lies south of the summit and is drained by North Pine River and to small
extent by a stream flowing easterly to Alberta. The main stream draining the northerly slope is the Fort Nelson River, following north-west to
the Liard; Hay River, flowing north-east to Great Slave Lake, also drains
a portion of the area to the east.
North Pine River, leaving the broken country in foot-hills of the
Rockies, turns southerly and flows across the Block to Peace River, about
40 miles below Fort St. John. The valley becomes more defined as it
flows through the plateau, the banks being half a mile apart and 500 feet
high where it enters the Block, and tributary streams similarly head in
swamps on the plateau surface, the valleys becoming narrow and deep
as they approach the North Pine. The river-bottom is roughly three-
quarters of a mile wide and contains some good land with alluvial loam
soil. Blueberry River, the largest tributary, joins a few miles north of
the Block.
The only areas surveyed north of the Block are several townships
near the junction of the Blueberry and North Pine, and some stretches
of excellent agricultural land are found here. Surveys cover about
36,000 acres. East of the North Pine is considerable extent of plateau
containing land suitable for agricultural purposes, and roughly 250,000
acres could be brought under cultivation with little labour. North of this
area the country rises north gradually to the summit and becomes less
attractive as farming land, there being numerous marshes and bogs
permanently unsuitable for agricultural purposes.
FORT   NELSON   PLATEAU.
Fort Nelson River is the drainage of a prairie area east of the Rockies
physiographically similar to the prairie land of the Great Canadian Plain,
of which it is a western extension, elevation varying from 2,500 to 3,000
feet at the south at the divide between the Peace and Liard drainages to
1,600 to 1,800 feet at the north. The region has large areas of open grass
lands. A considerable portion is now badly drained. Some of the
stream-banks are a few feet above the general level and there are wide
stretches of muskegs and swamps. Early explorers' descriptions of
Northern Albertan areas now growing grain were similar to those given
by surveyors who have made reconnaissance surveys of this area, and it
is considered that when settlement reaches it the land will be drained
and brought under cultivation. Experiments in these latitudes and
farther north leave no doubt that the growing season has sufficient length
and warmth to ripen wheat, oats, barley, and all ordinary root-crops and mm
vegetables. These have been successfully grown for many seasons at
Fort Liard, latitude 60° 10' N. At present the area is remote from
transportation. The only settlement is at Fort Nelson, a Hudson's Bay
post near the mouth of Muskwa River. Garden produce is grown on a
small scale on a near-by clearing and Indians grow potatoes. Freight
charges now on supplies are 22 cents a pound. A few trappers and
Indian bands are the only residents. The Fort Nelson River is navigable
and also the Liard.
North of 59° 15' to the northern boundary of the Province is an
extensive area drained by Black River, flowing westward to the Liard.
This area is not explored, but Indians report it similar in character to
the area farther south, a region of swampy flat country, much of the
surface covered with moss, with strips of hay meadows along Black
River.
Along Fort Nelson River and considerable distance up the Fontas
and Sikanni some good spruce and cottonwood fringe the riverways in
patches seldom over half a mile wide. There is a marked absence of
rock-exposures and little is known regarding minerals. Trappers report
seeing coal-seams on the Upper Sikanni. Samples of gypsum have been
picked up on the southern part of the plateau. Where rock-exposures
occur along the main rivers rock is usually dark clay shale, occasionally
showing signs of clay ironstone. There is considerable game. Moose
are fairly well distributed. In parts of the plateau they range in herds.
Wood-buffalo, once plentiful, are seen near headwaters of Hay River
and are reported by Indians in Black River vicinity. Fort Nelson is
considered an important fur-trading post.
MISCELLANEOUS  STATISTICS.
Table of Distances.
(Williams Railway Survey.) Mlles
Vanderhoof to Fort St. James       30.5
Ocock River       49.0
Tsilcoh River       59.0
,, Poison Creek        67.0
„ Summit, near Horseshoe Lake      92.0
„ Manson   River       147.5
Finlay  Forks       188.0
„ Rocky Mountain Canyon    273.0
Hudson Hope   296.0
Peace River. Mileg
Head  (Finlay Forks') to head of Rocky Mountain Canyon  71
Head   of   Rocky   Mountain   Canyon   to   Hudson   Hope   (foot   of
Canyon)      20
Hudson Hope to Fort St. John   51
Fort St. John to Dunvegan   117
Dunvegan to Peace River  (Crossing)     61
Peace River (Crossing) to mouth of Notikewin (Battle River).. 96
Mouth of Notikewin to Carcajou Point    59
Carcajou Point to Fort Vermilion    93
Fort Vermilion to Vermilion Chutes   50
Vermilion Chutes to mouth   (Slave River)     188
Total     807 Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway.
Miles.
Edmonton to Smith   130.8
Smith to High Prairie    103.5
High Prairie to McLennan   27.9
McLennan  to  Smoky     32.0
Smoky to Spirit River    63.0
Spirit River to Grande Prairie   49.8
Central Canada Railway.
Miles.
McLennan to Reno       23.8
Reno to Peace River     24.7
Total Distances.
Miles.
Edmonton to McLennan    262.2
Peace  River    310.7
Spirit River    357.2
Grande  Prairie     407.0
Hudson Hope    540.0
Canoe Route.
Prince George to Hudson Hope.
Mill
Prince George to Summit Lake (overland)    32
Summit Lake     4
Summit Lake to Fort McLeod via Crooked River and McLeod
Lake    65
Fort McLeod to Finlay via Pack and Parsnip Rivers    115
Finlay to Rocky Mountain Portage via Peace River  72
Rocky Mountain Portage to Hudson Hope    14
Total
.  302
R.N.IV.M. Police Trail.
Miles.
Fort St. John to Cypress River      97
Laurier  Pass      114
Devil's Canyon     154
Ospika  River      172
Herchmer  Pass      180
Fort Grahame  208
Fort   Conolly     324
Junction with Telegraph Trail   377
Boats on the Peace River.
The principal boats plying on the river are shown in the  following
table.    These provide practically a weekly service during the summer.
Description.
" D. A. Thomas "..
" Northland _ Call'
" Athabasca " ....
" Lady Macworth '
Peace River Development Corporation—Transport Department
Ditto 	
Hudson's Bay Company 	
Peace River Development Corporation—Transport Department
Peace River Navigation Co., Ltd.
Stern-wheel   steamer;   capacity
250 passengers, 300 tons freight
item-wheel steamer,
item-wheel steamer.
Twin-screw gasolene-launch.
Gasolene i
r-boat. Settlement and Development Statistics, 1920.
N
of    Dominion    lands    surveyed
ion   lands  disposed  of
o.    quarter-sect
(approx.)	
No.  quarter-sections  of  D01
(approx.)	
No. homesteads recorded during year of 1916
1917
1 good standing .
1 good standing .
No. grazing leases i
Area in acres .....
No. timber berths i:
Area in acres ....
No. petroleum and natural-gas leases i
Area in acres	
No. coal claims in good standing	
Area in acres 	
good standing
77,382
1,464
305,807
900
533
98,737
22
6,003
66,000
10,000
1,330
1,467
900
1,626
163
122,404
20
176,119
1,486
311,810
*Crop of 1919, Peace River District.
Section.
Oats.
Wheat,
Barley, Rye,
Total.
Bu,
1,316,250
370,500
1,950,000
130.000
72,150
Bu.
315,000
94,500
525,000
70,000
22,050
Bu.
1,631,250
465,000
2.47S 000
200,000
Pouce Coupe   	
94,200
Totals   	
3,838,900
1,026,550
4,865,450
* Department of .
, Edmonton.
Grain-elevators.
Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Raihvay Company.
Station.
Owner.
Bushel Capacity.
E-30,000
Farmers' Co-op. Elevator Co	
United Grain-growers, Ltd	
E-33.000
E-35,000
E-30,000
E-30,000
E-30,000
Alberta Pacific Grain Co	
Gillespie Elevator Co	
E-35,000
E-30,000
E-35,000
E-35,000
{ E-30.000
N. Bawlf Grain Co	
E-20.000
United Grain-growers, Ltd	
Gillespie Elevator Co	
E-35,000
E-30,000
E-20.000
United  Grain-growers, Ltd	
E-35,000
Central Canada Raihvay.
..Gillespie Elevator Co	
Total  	 Timber by Drainage-basins.
(Commission of Conservation Report.)
Drainage-basin.
.,„.
Timber.
Id.iinn  Feet          Acre.
Stuart, Nation, and Salmon ..
Finlay   	
South Pine	
Peace River Block  	
North Pine and Halfway ....
Fort  Nelson   	
Totals   	
Sq. Miles.
10,761
4,492
18.861
8,761
5,487
6,090
38,938
93,390
Board-feet.
6,959,600,000
7,382,500,000
3,518,400,000
6,625,200,000
4,545,000,000
134,400,000
778,400,000
Sq. Miles.
692
1,001
263
943
410
28
158
Sq. Miles.
122
21
259
29,943,500,000
3,495
402
Species.
Drainage-basin.                      Douglas Fir.          Balsam.      !      Spruce.
Lodge-pole
Stuart, Nation, and Salmon...
Parsnip   	
Finlay   	
1       M. Bd. Ft.
804,360,000
36,912
M. Bd. Ft.         M. Bd. Ft.
695,960   |    4,697,540
1,476,500   !     5,536,875
70,368   i    2,638,800
331,260   I     4,637.640
         3,269,000
            134,400
            700,560
M. Bd. Ft.
761.740
332,213
1,656,300
1,276,000
Cottonwood.
77,840
Peace River Block	
North Pine and Halfway   ....
Area a
(Commis
Drainage-basin.
Stuart, Nation, and Sa
Parsnip   	
Finlay   	
South Pine  	
Peace River Block ...
North Pine and Halfw
Fort Nelson  	
Total  	
VAILABLE FOR AGRICULTURE.
sion of Conservation Report.)
Sq
Miles.
1,022
175
356
220
1,817
600
4,190
Fifty-one
M^—a————wp»—""/.                                HHI^HI 500^000/^77/4,;
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