BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Vancouver Island. Exploration. 1864 Brown, Robert, 1842-1895 1865

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0222144.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0222144-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0222144-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0222144-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0222144-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0222144-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0222144-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Printed by authority ofthe Government, by Harries and Company. 
Victoria, Vancouver Island.  
The Vancouver Island Exploration Committee, in presenting
to the public a Report of their proceedings, beg to give expression
to their deep sense of the obligation under which the Colony is placed
to His Excellency Governor Kennedy, as the originator of the
Exploring Expedition, and to the subscribers and donors who have
generously aided the Committee in the prosecution of the work confided to their management.
From the first settlement of the Colony, the desirability of a
thorough knowledge of'its resources has been felt, and various suggestions have from time to time been made and discussed, as to the
best means for its acquirement, some of which never took any practical form. Some valuable information had been obtained through the
unwearying zeal of Captain Richards, now Hydrographer of the
Royal Navy, and of his laborious and talented subordinates, who in
addition to the survey of the coast line, of such importance to our
future commerce, furnished the geographical details of more than one
line of land travel across the Island.
A premium of Fifty Pounds had been offered by the late Governor, Sir James Douglas, for an Essay " which should set forth in
the clearest and most. comprehensive manner the capabilities, resources and advantages of  Vancouver Island, as a  Colony for ii exploring expedition.
settlement," and awarded, in 1861, to Charles Forbes, Esquire, M.D.-
and Surgeon in the Royal Navy ; but no subsequent measures seem
to have been adopted to utilize the information thus obtained, beyond
its being printed and circulated.
A reward of One Thousand Pounds had been offered by Proclamation for the discovery of paying gold fields, but in consequence-
of the unavoidable cost and toil involved in the search, if undertaken, little had been done even under the stimulant thus offered :
and on the arrival of His Excellency Governor Kennedy, there-
existed a wide-spread conviction that some practicable scheme for the
development of the resources of the country was essential to its
prosperity and progress. The correctness of this conviction was
fully and promptly recognized by His Excellency, who without loss
of time suggested the advantages which would doubtless result from
a systematic and combined effort of the Government and the people,,
and generously proposed to contribute from funds at his disposal
I two dollars, for every one furnished by the people," and to leave
the entire outcarrying of such plans as might be devised, to a
committee, to be popularly chosen.
In accordance with these suggestions and proposals, a public
meeting was held on the 29th of April,  1864, and a Committee
appointed, consisting of the following gentlemen, viz :
Selim Franklin, Esq., M. L. A., Chairman.
George Cruickshank, Esq., Secretary.
Commander Verney, R.  N.,    Major J. Downie,   Reverend   E.
Evans, D. D., James Dickson, M. D., John Ash, M. D., Thomas
Trounce, J. J. Cochrane, William Fisher,  C. B. Young, J. T.
Pidwell, and A. D. Bell, Esquires, and W. H. Franklyn, Esquire,
of Nanaimo.
An exploring party was selected, engaged, and suitably
equipped, consisting of Dr. Brown, the Commander and Government Agent; Peter John Leech, Lieutenant and Astronomer -
Frederick Whymper, Artist • John Buttle, Naturalist; Alexander S. Barnston ; John Meade ; Ranald Macdonald j John
M. Foley, (detached 26th July); Thomas Henry Lewis and Richard
Drew, and William Hooper, (joined 6th August) ; Pioneers and
Miners; Toma Antoine, and Lazare Le Buscay, Hunters • who took
their departure from the Hudson Bay Company's wharf on the 7th
June, 1864, in Her'Majesty's steamer Grappler, Commander Verney,
after an eloquent address from Governor Kennedy, amid the cheera
of the crowd assembled, and with the prayers of the friends of the
-Expedition, which must now be allowed to tell its own tale in the
following Report of the Commander of the Exploring party : Victoria, Vancouver Island,
November 6th, 1864.
Gentlemen :
Though I shall have the honor of presenting to you at no
very distant period a full and systematic report, of the whole proceedings, discoveries and results of the Vancouver Island Exploring
Expedition, which you despatched • under my command, yet in
accordance with your desires I beg to submit a short outline forming
with the detached notices and despatches which have already
appeared in the local prints, a connected narrative of our labours.
On the 7th of June we left Victoria on board Her Majesty's
Gunboat Grappler, nine in all. The same afternoon we arrived in
Cowichan Harbour and the weather being very wet, we did not
disembark until the next day, when we encamped on the opposite
side of the river from the Indian Village of Gomiaken.
On the morning of the 9 th I despatched the stores in charge
of one of th© party and two Indians, by canoe, to the highest village
on the river Samena, while with the rest of the party I travelled
over the trail on foot. This same evening on all being met
together, I engaged Kakalatm, a chief of the tribe, and an Indian boy,
to accompany us to the great Lake ; at the same time I engaged
a half-breed Iroquois and Chinook, Toma Antoine, as hunter and
Cowichan interpreter to the expedition, a choice on which I have
since had good reason to congratulate myself. For the first three
weeks of the expedition I took him on sufferance, and finally on his
good conduct being put to the test, I engaged his services for the
whole period of the exploration.
Next morning ve commenced our travels in earnest. I placed
the whole of the provisions in the canoe with the two Indians, and
two of our party, while the rest carrying their own effects, travelled
by land, meeting the canoe at nights at appointed places, for which
purpose we took Toma along with the land party, he having hunted
along the banks previously. Occasionally we met to assist in making
portages, or otherwise to aid each other ; most frequently, the river 2 exploring expedition.
being very rough, the land party arrived before the canoe party,
but where the river was at all easily navigable so difficult was the
bush travelling that the water party had the advantage; by this
means we secured a survey of the river and banks, besides conveying the stores more easily. The land party, by occasionally
striking for a few miles back from the river, secured a retrospect
of the adjoining country. In this way we travelled to the great
Cowichan Lake, which we reached on the 15th of June, and encamped
near the eastern extremity.
The Cowichan River is about 40 miles in length, and is a most
torturous stream; a straight line from the mouth to the lake would
not probably be more than 29 miles ; it is exceedingly rapid, there
being hardly any smooth water with the exception of short distances
in the canon, and about two miles at the height ofthe river before
joining the lake.   Its banks, some distance from the sea where the
sea breezes do not affect them, covered with magnificent forests of
the finest description of spars, and numerous natural knees, are
found everywhere.    Were the   river cleared of obstructions and
deepened in the shallowest parts, they might be floated down in
" cribs."   The winter time would be the best for rafting when the
water is high.   The total fall may be 700 feet.   There are few bars, the
banks running perpendicularly and covered with trees to the water's
edge.   In many places the river divides into channels ; its breadth
varies from 40 to 20 feet.   Below the falls (Squitz) the river bed
is composed of round we.ll worn stones.   The color of Gold we
found everywhere, and in one or two places from £ eent to  1| cents
to the pan was reported to me, in other sufficient pay dirt to last
for a long period.   I may call to the recollection of the committee
that white men have since then been reported as making as much as
$5 per diem on this same river.   Coal crops out in one place on the
creek.   The surrounding country is in most places flat, with here
and there open tracts.   The whole of the spar lands are excellent
soil, and it would abundantly pay to clear them for the value of the
timber alone.   Deer abound all along the track and salmon ascend
the River to the lakes.   The Indians inhabiting its banks are as
follows: 1.  Gomiaken, (the " Indians by the sea,")  2D Quamichan,
(the | hump-backs " from the nature of the country,)   3. Samena,
(the " upper river " Indians.)   The latter tribe only frequent the
npper waters of the River, and one or two families hunt on the great
Lake in the autumn.   A trail is here and there found along the banks
with occasional fishing lodges, and camping ground such as (above
Samena)  Tsaam, (the "torn up place,") Saatlaam, (the place of
" green leaves," Klal-amath, (two log houses,)   Qualis, (the " warm
place," Latitude 48 degrees 45 minutes 37 seconds North,) Kuch- exploring expedition. 3 »
saess, (the " common cement of the rapids") Quatchas, (the canon)
Squitz, (the " end of the swift place,") a most picturesque series of
rapids with Indian lodges of which we secured a sketch, and so on
until we came to Swcem-kum, an Island where the Indian deposits
the poles by which he has hitherto propelled his canoe up the
rapid stream, for now we have come into Squakum, the still
waters, the commencement of the Lake, where the current is no
longer perceptible. Every bend has a name, every hill a story,
every dark pool a tradition, and often on the summer evenings did
we listen to the strange story of Kakalatza, the lord of these
dominions, as he called up the storied chronicles of the past.
At Squitz commenced the first tangable evidence of the
existance of the inland tribe, whose history was previously a fabled
romance, and is now become a fact of history. At the proper place
I will notice this at greater length.
On the 17th, I removed our camp to a more central position—
seven miles above the lake, to the mouth of Foley's creek—and here
I despatched parties as follows :
1. To examine the creek for gold.
2. To survey the lake, and ascertain the existence of gold and
other minerals, as well as the situation of the native tribes, if any.
3. A last party, of which I took charge of, into the mountains
round the lake ; while two remained in camp, and a third hunted to
supply the larder.
On the 22d of June we had completed our explorations of the
lake and surrounding country, with the following results, as perfectly
as time and the nature of my instructions would allow of.
1. The lake is from 20 to 22 miles in length aud from 1£ to
3-4ths in breadth. It is surrounded by two distinct ranges of
mountains from 2000 to 3000 feet in height. The northern range
we'named the Kennedy, the southern the Seymour range, respectively after their Excellencies the Governors of Vancouver Island
and British Columbia. It is fed by several large streams, of which
Foley's Creek, the Thew-een-kut. and the Amackan Rivers are the
largest. It is emptied alone by the Cowichan River or Sina-wow-
staloio, (the main river). The Cowichan name is Kaatza, (" the
lake,") and every promontory has like the River some characteristic
name e. g. a curious peninsula is called Kanatze " the island in tow,"
&c. Patches of good land are found here and there. On the
border of Foley's Creek, there is much rich land thinly covered with
maple. Timber excellent, with some white pine. Latitude of
Foley's Creek, latitude 48 degrees 51 minutes, 56 seconds, North.
The lake, presents much pleasing scenery but like most of the lake 4 EXPLORING expedition.
scenery of Vancouver Island is of rather a monotonous character.
Close on its borders is an Alkaline spring, (vid. also sub. report
No. 1. No. 3. Journal Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition pp. 1
7. Fol. iii.)
2. Gold was found on Poley's Creek, one prospect gave
4 cents to the pan, but the diggings are not very extensive.
Chinamen would no doubt gladly avail themselves of such diggings.
3. Copper is found in various places around the lake and in
one place in the mountains in immense quantities, and very rich.
The seam extends over a breadth of nearly 20 feet in width.
4. Iron stone is found close at hand (specimens of all these I
sent to Victoria)'.
5. When at Comiaken I had heard vague rumours of an
Inland tribe living on the great Lake, but the rumour was so semi-
fabulous as to excite little attention. Then at Samena it became
more tangible, and we heard that the name of the tribe was Masole-
much, and that they spoke a different language from the Cowichans ;
and on our way upwards we heard pleasant bits of gossip about the
manners and customs of the Masokmuchs, until, as we stood on the
13th of June, looking at the Falls of the river at Squitz, Kakalatza
pointed out, choked up with nettles and -hemlocks on the opposite
bank of the river, some old lodge frames, as the former village of the
.Masplemuchs in the halcyon days long ago, when they were prosperous, and the lodges of their people were many ; but that now they
did not come there. Finally, on arriving at the Lake, I gained the
full particulars of their history, which may be summarily stated as
follows :
1. They are not a distinct tribe, but a sub-tribe of the Nittinahts
on the seaboard, who visit this lake for fishing and hunting. They
have three camps on the lake ; one was burnt down last winter, and
they lost a great quantity of dried elk's meat.
2. Ghe-hunuk, a noted chief of theirs, died last winter, and is
buried on an island in the lake. They manufacture many of the
finest canoes here. They come to the lake in the fall with their
women and children, stay generally all winter, or until they can
procure a sufficiency of salmon and dried deer's meat, generally elk,
which inhabit the borders in great herds.
3. They speak a dialect of what may be called the AM language,
i. e. the language spoken from Port, San Juan to Woody Point,
( " Pachena" and " Nespod"). They are, however, good friends with
the Samenas, with whom they intermarry occasionally. At one time
they used to come down to the Samena village to plant potatoes,
undistinguished by the whites from the home Indians.   We have EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 5
gathered much information regarding their mode of life, history, and
general character.
On the 23d of June, in order the more efficiently to explore a
larger extent of country than it would have been possible to accomplish united, I resolved to divide the expedition into two parties, and
as the Indians wished to return to their families, the distance to our
depot at Port San Juan could barely be gone over in a week, for a
greater length of time than which it was impossible for us to carry
the baggage. The first division I took charge of to reach the sea at
Whyack, the fortified "village of the warlike Nittinahts ; the second
I put in charge of Lieutenant Leech, with orders to meet me at Port
San Juan by the 30th of June. The distance to Port San Juan was
in a straight line about eighteen miles, and was marked as level
plains on the old Admiralty chart. As will be shown, Leech found
it anything but level plains.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 23d of June we divided the
stores, and sent Leech and party to near the east end of the lake, with
written orders (orders No. 2) regarding the conduct of the party.
On the return of the canoe I proceeded with the remainder to the
further extremity of the lake, paid off the Indians, despatched letters
(No. 2) and specimens to the Committee, and struck in a general
course south-west about nine miles, through a tolerably fiat, well
timbered and well watered country, until on the 24th June we struck
a river flowing in a westerly direction, which I concluded to be the
Nittinat river.
Next day we prospected the rivers and neighboring creeks,
(found the color of gold,) and built a raft on which to descend to the •
sea. We accomplished all in safety for four miles, until the roar of
a canon warned us to leave the raft, and finding any further progress
impracticable by that mode of conveyance, we took to land, found an
Indian trail, and that same night found, at the foot of the canon, a
deserted Indian lodge and old canoe.
Next morning, Barnston and I descended the river in this tiny
canoe, which leaked like a basket, hoping to find Indians at no great
distance. The rest had orders to follow on a raft, if we did not
return by the evening. All day long did we sweep down the swift
river, shooting the rapids and darting through the overhanging
branches of trees, past many Indian villages and salmon weirs, all
deserted, until, as the sun was setting, we found the downward
current stemmed by an upward one, and the river debouching in a
large lake or inlet of the sea. On the most recent survey, that of
• Captain Richards, a lake is marked as supposed to exist behind
" False Nittinaht," whick was our destination.
 ——— = *-•
That same evening, Whymper and McDonald descended the river
on a raft which they had constructed out of the boards of the Indian
lodge, bound together with the ropes of their blankets—the holes
pierced by pistol bullets. The banks of the river are in general fiat,
the soil in many places dark loam thinly covered with maple, (Acer
Macrophyllum). In other places the ground is thickly wooded with
spruce, (Abies Menziesii), cedar, &c, of gigantic size. We measured a
spruce thirty-eight feet in circumference and cedars of like proportions.
The river in all its winding from where we struck it may be probably
twenty miles in length, and below the canon its banks are thickly
studded with fishing lodges of the Nittinahts. Around each lodge
is a quantity of good open land.
Next day Barnston and I left camp in our leaky canoe, to
search for Indians, to convey our party from this position, and to
relieve Buttle and Lewis, who were still left up river. On rounding", a point we were startled to see a large substantially built
Indian village, but not inhabited ; where we were glad to find a
tolerably good canoe, which we pressed into the service of the
Expedition in the name of Her most gracious Majesty Queen
Victoria, and Her faithful Deputy His Excellency Arthur Edward
Kennedy. We immediately returned to camp and despatched
Barnston and McDonald to bring- down the remainder of the party
while Whymper and I set ourselves to work to caulk up the leaks
in our new acquisition with flour bags and pine resin. That same
afternoon Buttle and Lewis returned, and our whole party being
now collected we made preparation to reach the Pacific to-morrow.
I was now convinced that wo were on no Lake, but an Inlet of the
Sea, known in the west of Scotland as a | Loch".
Started at three o'clock A. M. to catch the favorable morning
breeze. We set sail (a blanket officiating for that purpose,) along
the inlet, and with an occasionall halt, sometimes against the wind,
we sailed and paddled all day. The inlet, &c, is shut in by mountains,
and in the quiet bays are three Indian villages, with the ■ remains
of stockades in front, and several salmon weirs on the streams
flowing through them. They are without exception, specimens of
very tastefuly situated dwellings. We noticed large eliffs of bluish
primative limestone, in the inlet, and subsequently heard from the
Indians, of Coal and Metals. Tracings of Copper were everywhere
apparent. Towards evening the Inlet after running for upwards of
eighteen miles, began to narrow. »An Indian was seen cutting firewood ; he made all haste for his village, which we now noticed smoking on a cliff, and the roaring of the sea being heard without, we
followed him, and drew our canoes up in a quiet bay, a little distance
from the village.   We were soon surrounded by troops of wild looking EXPLORING  EXPEDITION. 7
fellows, and though the head chief Mo-koo-la, a famous warrior,
was from home, his viceroy showed us much kindness, and insisted
that I should camp in the square of his village ; and, nolens volens, I
was forced to comply with apparent good grace. Then commenced
a scene of barter and trade, impossible to describe, and as night
closed in I was forced in prudence to post sentries, for though
apparently friendly, these savages bear a most infamous reputation,
and the best way to keep honesjt is not to put it in their power to
be dishonest. As it was they managed to abstract an augur, and
two tomahawks, the ample folds of their blankets affording admirable
facility for thieving. Why-ack is a large fortified village protected
by pickets from the sea dashing in breakers on the beach,
or rushing through the narrow entrance of the inlet; so difficult
is it to land, that the Nittenahts carry it with a high hand over
the neighbouring tribes, and the wars of the Elhwhaats and Scllams
of the opposite shores, with these athletic warriors form an important portion of the floating aboriginal history of these coasts.
I spent the evening trading dried halibut, and visiting the
lodges of the different chiefs, seeing and being seen, for our visit was
a subject for many a days gossip, and returned late that night
thoroughly tired with much talk.
Next morning I was glad to be able to strike a stiff bargain for
a war canoe, and with no very fond regrets, bade farewell to the
" Chivalry of Why-ack," who had assembled, men, women, and
children, on the beach, to at once bid us good bye, to steal, to
bargain, and to beg. That afternoon we scudded along the coast
of the straits of De Fuca, past Kloos, Quamadoa, (the Carmanah of
the chart,) Echwatess, Karleit, (the eastern boundary of the Nittin-
ahts ; when entered in a westerly direction to Klootis, the Pachena
Bay, (of Richard's chart,) and right over the island to the Cowichan
River, the most extensive boundary of any tribe in the Island,
(and Wawa-liadis, a village of the Pachenahts, * (Port San Juan)
* Perhaps the correct othography of the western Indian tribes name, would be this,
all end in aht, though the terminal syllable is variously written by the naval surveyors,
as "at," "it," " art," (though the letter r occurs in no Indian name,) "et," "not,"
&c, and means house, being after the Indian custom contracted from mahte, or_mah-us
a house, so that it would be uo great stretch of imagination to translate,) Ahous-aht,
the "seal house." Klah-o-quaht, (vulgo, Clay-o quot, ) "other or strange house."
Nuch-an-laht, (.from Noochee a " mountain,") the " mountain house." Mow-ih-ahts,
(in Nootka sound,) from mouch, a "deer," (corresponding to the chinook language or
jargon word mowitch,) the "deer house." Cape " Classet," is " Clah-us-aht, ( "other
men's houses.") Perhaps by this derivation, kloos is claims; the aht only being applied to the tribe, not to the country, t. e. Pachena, the country of the Pachen-ahts.
Sesha, of the Ses-ahts, and so on. The Nittinahts speak the same wide spread aht
language with the patois of substituting b, for m, and d, for n, and e, g, Dittida, (Nittina,)
(Bonch,) (Moonch,) &c.
. For this suggestion, I am indebted to the Rev. Christopher Knipe, and G. M. Sproat,
Esq., of Alberni. 8 EXPLORING   EXPEDITION.
reaching in the afternoon without mnch incident, Port San Juan,
(Latitude 48 degrees, 33 minutes, 33 seconds, North. Longitude,
124 degrees, 22 minutes, 10 seconds, West, which I had pitched
upon as the rendezvous for our parties, where we were glad to find,
Mr. Thos. Laughton, who received us with all the hospitality of an
Indian Trader, and as we half starved Explorers, to whom for some
time past a dried halibut was a luxury to be remembered, and a
double allowance of bread an unheard of piece of extravagance,
sat at his plentiful table, we verily believed we had got into Utopia,
and Laughton, the good Sir. Thos. Moore who had created it.
Late that night we sat around his fire hearing the news of the last
month, and as it was too late to pitch our tents, selecting each man
a soft plank on the floor.
On the 3d July a sloop beat into the Bay and anchored in a
cove, Mr. Laughton and I boarded her and found her to be the
" Random" of Victoria, with stores for us. A plunger had been sent
previously and turned back again, when within five miles of the
harbour, and even this sloop had put back twice to Sooke. As the
master was afraid to put into Cooper's Inlet, I removed the stores
into Quisto the chief of Pachena's canoes.
That same day the whole of Leech's party arrived, (Mr. Foley
had arrived the evening before.) and reported to me regarding their
route, (sub-reports, Nos. 2 and 3). On the whole he found the coun,
try through which he passed very rough, travelling over mountains-
some precipitous and covered with fallen timber, others rocky,
especially along the scource of the San Juan river, which they
followed, but which is not navigable for any distance, owing to
numerous bad canons. If they could have travelled from the Cowichan Lake to Port San Juan, it will be seen by the chart that they
could have had only eighteen miles to travel. They could not pursue
all the route in that direction, but had to keep the only available
route, viz., the course of tli^piver in an easterly direction about east
south east, south west, and south south west; in fact, some days they
did not make south of the previous day's latitude. " Thus was our
distance increased; and at a rough estimate we walked forty miles to
gain eighteen. This shows the fallacy of people talking about crossing the island in so many days by measuring lineally on the map.
Independently of the course being continually delayed by prospecting
and surveying work, nearly everything depends on the country and
the loads to be carried. The country travelled over is totally unfit
for agricultural settlement, but it presents rich metallurgical indications at the heads of the creeks, which we passed over, respectively
named Saint John's creek, Coffee creek, &c. Specimens of plumbago,
an argentiferous looking rock, &c, we brought along with us; these,
with a map of the district, we beg to present for your satisfaction. EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 9
In most of the creeks we found more or less gold, crystalized quartz,
slate, Ac, but if these do not turn out to be good it is no certain
criterion, for we found it a matter of much difficulty, owing to the
character of the country, to devote sufficient time to give these creeks
a thorough prospecting." The district around Port San Juan, (the
" Pachena" of the Indians,) for two or three miles, is flat from the
margin of the river to the base of the hills, and though a few good
patches of meadow land occur, the party were of opinion that the
country sines leaving Cowichan lake might be described in general
terms as " mountain, pine and cedar everywhere, barren of grass and
soil: a home for the deer and herds of noble elk, but fit for nothing
else." This country has since then been farther prospected by one
of our party, who reports his early predelictions in favor of it as a
gold field to be fulfilled, and that paying gold diggings exist on all
the bars of the river for many miles, though probably its length is
somewhat over-estimated. Gold was found there many years ago,
and I have recently heard rumors of men having made wages. I
trust that by next summer it Mnay be a busy gold field. In talking
with the Indians, I learned of the existence of coal near the creek and
village known as EckwaUss. I despatched a party on the morning
of the 5th, in charge of Foley, (order No. 3) to search for it. Meanwhile we devoted our time to exploring the neighboriug country,
ascending the Gordon and San Juan rivers, assorting the stores,
drawing maps, &c, &c.
On the evening of the 7th, Foley and party returned, and
reported (Sub. report No. 4.) that he was so unfortunate as to be
forestalled by a party of miners from Victoria, who heard through
some Indians about it, and had just arrived. The coal is however,
a mere thin seam, dipping into the sea, at no place exceeding an
inch or two. The sea dashes furiously on the beach, and it
is difficult for strangers to land, and almost impossible for ships to
load, even were the mine of any consequence. On the way back
they found coal at various points near Port San Juan, but in quantity
and quality not superior to the former.
It was the intention of the committee originally, that we should
strike through the unexplored sections of the Island, carefully
examine that tract as a specimen, and thus form a skeleton to be
filled up afterwards, and as circumstances will show this plan has
wrought admirably, so far as the Southern section has gone.
Accordingly I resolved that the next place where we should strike
in should be Sooke Harbor, and thence across to Cowichan Harbor,
on the East coast; the reasons which tempted me to this, will
On July 9th, I engaged a party of Indians and their canoes to '10 EXPLORING   EXPEDITION.
convey us to   the   point mentioned.    Most   were   gone to  their
halibut fishery, or a " Potlach," at Chowitzen,  (Beechy bay,)  but
after a muster through the camp, I succeded in raising a heteorogenous
crew, as'follows ; two old men, one old woman, (hideous,) one young
woman, her husband, and a slave, and that as usual, after hard
bargaining.   These Indians are not like the Indians round Victoria.
They have plenty of food, and unless a bribe sufficiently heavy is
held out to them to throw off their lethargy, it is almost impossible to get them to work.   Having been cheated by some white
men, many years   ago,   they are   naturally suspicious,   and this
combined with their natural avarice, render a bargain a matter of
many words, and strong language.    I have more than once been
compelled to show the money before they would agree to accompany
me, and a promissory note is frequently demanded, certainly a very
simple way of reassurance, seeing that if the writer chooses, it may
be somewhat informal!   The first part of the coast on the route
from Port San Juan to Sooke, has in general low cliffs, with dead
or scrubby timber, and a thick undergrowth of Sal-al, (Gaultheria
shallon,) and  which always increases as you approach the  coast,
and from the interior.   Towards Vietoria the coast gets greener,
with a back ground of bald rolling hill country,  and slopy park-like
openings, stretching down to the water's edge.    About one  hundred
yards to the east of Sheringham Point nearly concealed  by foliage,
we found a seam of Coal, thickness from six inches to« a foot, dip.
35 degrees, in the country behind, apparently a continuation of the
Clallam Bay seams.    The wind blowing too hard to  round  Otter
Head,  camped on a grassy meadow where a creek flows in.    On
this  Creek and all around here we found indications of Coal.
Previous to this we had passed  the Sombrio, and Jordan Rivers,
the Cockless, and Dittida, of the Indians ; the former forming the
Eastern Boundary line of the Pachenahts.   In both of these rivers,
Gold was found, and a party of men to the number of sixteen have
just started, containing some of the discharged  men from  the Expedition to  remain   there until  Christmas.   The whole   country
between Sooke and Port San Juan has also been passed over by
Goldseekers.   Next afternoon the whole Expedition arrived and
camped up Sooke River, or as the Indians pronounced it, and as of
course it ought to be written. " Soak."   Gold has been found on
various parts of the Island, previously, but being in general, in
non-paying quantities, excited little attention.   I was aware that
Gold had been got on the lower part of Sooke River,  and though
not in any quantity, from the evidence then presented, I was certain that it would be found in quantities to pay on the unknown head
waters or inflowing tributaries: hitherto nothing had been known of
Sooke River beyond a mile or two. Though the extent of country as
far as any geographical information was concerned, was unimportant, I
determined to despatch a party in that direction. Hitherto, I had not
found it necessary to the better conduct and interest of the party
to leave it, as I more than suspected I would before starting, but
various circumstances occured which showed me much against my
inclination that to perform my duty to the party under my charge,
it would be necessary to either send a messenger to Victoria, or to
go there myself. Discontent and grumbling, which I saw would
soon ripen into open mutiny, were commencing in the camp, in
regard to the discoveries of the Expedition, and it coming to my
ears that in case of any very valuable discoveries being made,
we having heard of no "reserve being placed upon them as yet, though
this had been promised before starting, some of the party were
inclined to leave, for one reason or another, and take advantage
of their discoveries. Some of the party having told me plainly
that unless I took means to secure their discoveries until the close
of the Expedition, when they who performed the work on little pay
and could have an equal chance with others, they did not consider they
were breaking faith if they found it convenient to leave. Such a
contingency I know was more than likely, and of course one or
two leaving was paramount to the breaking up of the party, and
the defeating of the whole object of the Expedition. I also found
that as always happens, some things had been omitted in our hurried
preparations, instruments had been broken or lost, and must be
replaced, the men were badly in want of a dozen things, and my
plan as then decided upon, (though the results which eventually
followed altered these,) would not allow of us replacing these until we
reached Nanaimo, and then only partially. Finally I received letters
in regard to my English mission, and the dispatch of a box of
specimens in Victoria, which I had not considered necessary to be
sent until my return, and other matters which rendered my presence
in Victoria imperative for a day or two, otherwise I must resign
my appointment under you. To resign the command at that period
I knew would result in the immediate breaking up of the Expedition
and I determined that as the least of two evils, to visit Victoria,
theret ransact my business, and meet my party at the rendezvous
mentioned, with canoes, provisions, &c.
I accordingly procured packers and guides for the party, gave
Leech detailed written instructions regarding the whole conduct of
the expedition in every respect, directed him to finish prospecting
and exploring the course of the river and its tributaries to the lake
in which the Indians told me it headed, (though very few of them ■
had ever visited it) and then despatch another party to our old f~
astronomical camp of Qualis, on the Kowichan, and with this proceed through to Kowichan, making the rendezvous for the party the
Indian village of Samena. I particularly insisted upon this to keep
the men away from the settlements ; and it was a source of regret to
me that circumstances rendered it impracticable to adopt it, or send
a party to Qualis, though he most satisfactorily accounted to me for
ibis deviation from his orders. I at the same time gave him cash for
a week's expenses, which time I told him I expected he would take.
Accordingly, my presence being no longer necessary, except as an
ordinary member of the party, I took one of the party to assist me
in obtaining the articles required and to receive medical advice, (and
I may mention that medicines was one of the articles required for
the party) and returned to Victoria, where I reported myself to the
Committee, gave an account of our proceedings, and obtained what
we wanted; which kept me so busy from morning to night, and often
all night writing, that I had bo time to supplement my oral
report by an extended written one.
Our business being transacted, by the first opportunity I proceeded to Kowichan, and as the party had not yet arrived I travelled
to the different Indian villages on the river, charging the chiefs to
look out for my men, and to give them every assistance they required
and I would see them paid. They did so, and frequent were the
false alarms which they gave me, during the two days which elapsed
before their arrival., until, on the 26th July, the whole party arrived,
having, as I expected, found gold on a tributary of Sooke river, which
we named Leech river, and which no white man, probably very few
Indians, had previously reached ; they had also found it in minor
quantity in Sooke river, as intimated by Leech to me in a letter
addressed to Victoria. The whole account of this discovery is now
historical, and to narrate at any length what was so extensively
published at the time, would only be a repetition of what is now very
familiar to every one. The original account is contained in my
Despatches Nos. 4, 5 and 6, and it is with pardonable satisfaction
that I point to the gold mines of Leech river, <fcc, and the several
towns in embryo in Sooke district as the result.
For the sake, however, of connection, I submit the following
resume of the trip from Sooke (So-ak) river to Clem-clem-alats Indian
village on Cowichan harbor :
(a) On the afternoon of the 13th, the party reached the canon
of Sooke river (Quotongass, " the jumping over place,") where good
prospects of gold were obtained on the right bank of the river • the
lowest yield, according to the miners, being three cents, and the EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 13
highest twenty-five cents to the pan. * The altitude of a mountain
ascended here was 1,850 feet above the level of the sea. From Camp
16, (Brule's ranch, three-fourths of a mile up Sooke river,) for about
two and a half miles up stream, the country is level or slightly undulating, soil good. The country lying to the westward consists of
conical hills, covered with pines—very little level land. To the
eastward it is very rugged, consisting of rocky eminences, very
thinly timbered. The lake—the scource of the river—lies north of
this point about six or eight miles; the country between is very
mountainous. From Camp 17, (Quotongass) the So-ak village bears
about south south west. A range of four distant mountains, running
north north west, are called by the natives (who speak a dialect of
the Thsongeisth, or Victoria language,) Senatoa, or the " two packers." The next range is called by them Patsasnawitch, and at the
. base is a small lake. A range running west south west and east
north east, its eastern extremity bounding Sooke lake north by,
west, is called Kokonaioitch ; a high peak Nasiachin, which the party
dedicated to the commander, bears west north west. The lake out of
which the river rises is also known by the generic name of Kokona-
witch. The great Kowichan lake bears about west north west, and
Sooke lake north by west. This camp by my small arieroid barome-
• ter was one hundred and twenty'feet above the level of the sea. Coal
is said to be found in the vicinity of the river. Sooke lake was
reached on the afternoon of the sixteenth. About six miles above
the canon the river forks, one fork flowing from the north west
the other coming from the lake, t the latter stream is the smallest
ofthe two; to the former however, for the sake of distinction, was
applied the name of Leech Biver, from the Lieutenant of the Expedition, whilst the later continued to bear the name of Sooke, for
convenience sake, as arising out of the lake, though in reality the
former is the main river. Here a parcel of the \3ooke gold was sent
with returning Indian packers to Victoria.
On the 17th July, finding that the gold decreased since
passing, the forks of Leech and Sooke, a party was sent back
to the former stream, and returned four days afterwards with the
gold prospects which have been fortunate enough to attract so
many adventurers to this stream. X   They varied from three cent:
* On Sooke River parties of Chinese, debarred from the more extensive placers of
Leech River, mined all the summer of 1864. At present there are about 300 employed
there, and their agents inform me that they expect upwards of 1,000 to be so employed
during the ensuing summer.   [March 23,
f You ean almost invariably distinguish whether a stream rises in a lake or
otherwise by its warmth, if the former is its scource as frequently happens in Vancouver Island.
£ Upwards of $100,000 are said to have been taken out of this stream since Augns
last Several hundred of white men are employed there. A number of embryo towns
have sprung up in the district, with stores, hotels, and all the other concomitants of
rising "cities."   March 23d. 14 EXPLORING   EXPEDITION.
to one dollar to the pan, the average being twelve and a half cents.
Sooke lake is about ten miles long, and about two hundred and
fifty feet above the level of the sea. It is full of splendid salmon
trout. Latitude of southern end, forty five degrees, sixty minutes,
forty nine seconds, North. A small stream flows into the lake
through a valley which bears north west from its mouth on the
lake. This valley seem to contain good soil. The opening extends
for about one mile along the margin of the lake, with ournt timber
"Cedar," (Thujagigantea Nutt.) Silver pine, (Piceagrandis Dougl.)
hemlock, (Abies Bridget') (Kellog in Proc. San Francisco Academy
Vol. II.) and on the hills, Arbutustomentosa, often mistaken for
the Manzanetta of California, &o.
(c) The party were forced to shift their camp to an Island
on the lake, which was christened Exploration island, the woods
having caught fire, On the twenty second of July a raft was constructed ashore, to take the party to the head of the lake. That
night Mr. Leech was so unfortunate as to meet with an accident:
a prospect pan full of fire was standing at the door of his tent for
the purpose of keeping off the musquitoes, and as he was coming
out of the tent after dusk, trod on the edge of the pan and capsized
the fire, to the serious detriment of his foot, and certain "portable
property" belonging to him.
On the 23d they reached head of the lake at 5 p. m. Struck
through a valley, crossed Shawnigan lake, (distant from Sooke
lake south west six miles.) and crossed the Victoria-Cowichan trail
at the twenty-four mile post on the 25th, and on the 26th, reached
Cowichan harbor.
I considered the news of such importance that I despatched
Buttle as a special messenger to Victoria, and Leech having
burnt his foot it was necessary to stop until it was well. Here I
ought to mention that some of the men struck for pay, which
I had no power to give them, but after some trouble I continued
to keep them together, though for reasons which I communicated
to your secretary at the time I found it expedient to discharge one
of the party. Without this I do not believe we should have had
a single unpleasantness in the whole party. Cowichan district
abound in minerals, marble, coal, copper, &c, and gold has since
been found by Mr. Wm. Coldwell and party on the Koksaila river,
though I find that another individual has presumed to claim the
merit of this discovery.
On the 31st Buttle returned, and though Leech's foot was not
yet fully well, I determined to make a start. I accordingly despatched Leech and a portion of the party in a canoe, with written
orders regarding his proceedings on the way, and in Nanaimo, es- EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 15-
pecially charging him to call at an island in the De Courcy group,
where I had received information from an Indian regarding: the exis-
tance of coal. With the rest I took the road to Nanaimo, called in
at Chemainos, (the "bad smelling promontory" of the Indians,) to>
search for coal, as intimated to me by a Chemainos Indian, who has
since been sen-tenced to death for murder. We failed to find any,
hough as intimated at the time to the Secretary, (despatch No. 8.)
there seems little doubt that the district is coal bearing ; it is a
pretty and rich agricultural valley. Here I obtained a piece of sulphate of copper from an Indian hunter, which had been found on
the head waners of the river, Selwacuth Stalow. He promised to
show me the mine on my return, and failing in our object of visiting this district I made all haste and reached Nanaimo on the 6th
of August, and reported myself to Mr. Franklyn, Chairman of the
Branch committee of Exploration. My proceedings here I will
place in diary form.
August 7th, Sunday.
August 8th, writing to the committee. Met the sub-committee
here. Gave them a resume of my plans and course, and asked as
a matter of courtesy their opinion of the next best course. They
agreed with me as to the Nanaimo river being a suitable point to
start from, but determined to leave the whole matter to myself.
August 9th. To-day I obtained and secured the stores. Got
the papers of the two new men, Hooper and Drew, who had just
reported themselves, signed in the presence of the Magistrate, and
tried to obtain some Indian packers, but found it almost impossible,
the gold excitement having spread, and every Indian being engaged
at work at the coal mines.
August 10th. To-day the Indians refused to give an answer,
and as every day's news of the result of our discoveries arrived,
I was in great fear of the consequence.
August llth. To-day I went to the Indian village with no better
results than yesterday, all being gone, but old men, women, and
children. I applied in my dilemma to Mr. Nicol, through whose assistance one of the chiefs promised to use his influence, but at the same
time he held out little hope, his young men being very excited, our
work being hard, and pay no better than what they could get here.
Besides they said soon all the men will be going to the mines and
the " Gold chief," as they called me, " will be glad to give us anything ".   Finally succeded in obtaining three that evening.
August 13th. All ready this morning for a start, but could not
yet obtain our full complement. Finally that evening I obtained
the full number, and signed the articles in presence of Mr. Franklyn.
The agreement I transmitted to you.  (Despatch No. 8.) 16 EXPLORING  EXPEDITION.
Sunday August 14th. Hitherto, when even at all practicable, I
kept the Sunday as a day of rest, but I was acquainted with the
■disposition of the Indians too well not to know that every day is
precious, as they soon change their minds, and accordingly I had
everything ready to start to-day, when the Indians refused to travel,
and it was not until next day that I got Leech's party underweigh.
His instructions I have transmitted to you. (Order, No. 7.)
Next day, (August 16th,) I started for Comox with the
rest in a canoe, and having head winds we had a long passage, and
did not arrive in Port Augusta until the 20 th. That same day
I ascended the Courtenay river, to the head of navigation, (two
miles,) and there formed a central camp until the 31st, during which
time parties were despatched to explore the country in every direction, the result of which may be summed up as follows:
1. The country lying between the settled district and the sea,
is wooded, and if there are prairies, they are of very limited extent.
The woods, however, are very open, with numerous clear spots, and
would over the whole extent, form good cattle runs, and in many
places could be cleared with the utmost ease. As I formerly -hinted,
it is probable that prairies extend for a considerable distance in a
westerly or north-westerly direction, but are shut in by deep belts
of woodland. Indeed it is known that there is a prairie capable of
affording farms to ten or twenty settlers, about five miles in a
westerly direction.
2. It must however be noted, that prairies or open lands', in
general, as far as Vancouver Island goes, follow the course of rivers.
Though the woods in most cases grow thicker, and the timber
" scrubbier," as you approach the coast, yet in some instances you
find beautiful flats stretching along the shore, and dotted with clumps
of trees, and intersected by sloughs of the sea, so as to be partially
overflowed.during high tides, but as often elevated flats or downs, or
what are known in the north of Scotland as " links." I may especially note the beautiful tract extending from the Rio de Grallas of the
Spaniards, as more or less, to past Quall-e-hum River, and capable of
affording good pasturage for thousands of cattle. These meadows, in
almost every instance, are well watered by creeks flowing through
them on their way to the sea. The very worst of them are as good
as the famed Essex flats on the Thames. When men are crying out
for pasture land, and hay at ruinous prices, it cannot but be a matter
of surprise that these splendid stretches covered with rich pasture
grasses, have not been pre-empted, when they must have been frequently observed.
3. The country between the main river, or Ony-makg-tam, and
the Tsa'-lum river, (which can scarcely be called a river, as it is a EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 17
continuation of the Courtenay,) is for the most part similar to the .
tract between the Tsalum and the sea, covered in many places along
the banks of creeks or marshy places with almost impenetrable
thickets of crab apple, (rivularis,) and salmon berries, (Rubus
Nutkanus). The woods spruce, (A. Menziesii,) Douglas pine, (A.
Douglasii,) silver pine, Picea grandis Doug,)—a very poor pine for
lumber, very fair for log houses—hemlock, (Abies Bridgei Kell.)
very little cedar, (Thuja gigantea,) a loss to the settlers, as wood for
shingles is difficult to be had. Maple, (Acer Macropyllum,) <fec, with
an undergrowth of huckleberry, (Vaccinum) and other smaller shrubs.
The woods, however, except in the localities noticed, are mostly free
of undergrowth, fallen timber, and other such like impedimenta of
4. The Puntledge (after the ancient tribe who lived on its
banks,) falls into the Courtenay about two miles from the mouth, and
takes a south south west course.
About five miles up a considerable river debouches into the
Puntledge, flowing from the west. On this river I am fortunate
enough to be able to report the existence of one of the finest seams
of coal hitherto discovered, at least.as far as the outcrop may form
a criterion, on the Pacific coast.
About 3^ miles up the river is the most important seam of coal.
This seam is about five feet thick on the outcrop, and about 100 feet
is exposed. It dips into the river. Four smaller seams are
exposed lower down the river, and vary from two to five feet in
thickness, but I have no doubt but that they are all continuations
of one seam. In some parts of the large seam the coal is eight feet
thick, but taking the mean depth I think it may be stated at five
feet. On the opposite bank of the river from the end of the large
seam is a seam ninety feet long and eight feet thick, of pure good
coal. The coal (very suitable for eoke) can be traced all the way down
in seams of various thickness, in some places about the canon of this
riyer from four to six feet in thickness. The country is well adapted
for a railway, while Port Augusta, (Comox Harbor,) would form an
excellent depot, backed by the splendid farming lands of the Comox
/Valley. The lands on each bank of the river are flat, and it is proba-
able that there are but few faults. The distance to navigable water is
not more than five miles in a straight line. Too much praise cannot be
given to the Indian hunter Toma Antoine, for the share he took in
this splendid discovery, nor to Meade and McDonald for the energy
with which they followed it up. The party insisted on naming the
river after me, and though I am as a matter of principle opposed to
have anything named after the commander, and though I am perfectly
well aware that this is quite common (as witness Palliser's expe-
—- ■
dition,) and that the strict laws of scientific nomenclatures allow
of no name to be cancelled when it has the priority of publication. I
I have more than once changed the names of parts of the country
discovered by us when the detached parties had named them after
myself. I hope you will not accuse me of egotism, if at the earnest
solicitation of the expedition, I allow the seat of this rich coal
field to bear the name of Brown's River.
On Thursday, the 1st September, I left the settlement of Com-
oucs, (Latitude forty-nine degrees, thirty-six minutes, twenty-seven
seconds, North. Longitude, one hundred, and twenty four degrees,
fifty-one minutes, eighteen seconds, west,) behind, having failed to
persuade any natives to accompany us, the fear of the vengeance of
the Scshahts and Opechesahts being too great and the attractions
of the salmon fishery now commencing too strong for them.
Accordingly, fearful of such another delay as before, I determined
to make an attempt to ascend the Puntledge without their assistance. In this desire I met the cordial co-operation of the party as
luckily the first portion of the route which I had selected lay on
the course of the river—a roaring torrent, but up which it is
possible to drag a canoe. That same evening we arrived at the
debouchmeut of Brown's river, after having hauled the canoe this
far by ropes, the party up to their middles in the current, and the
next two days were occupied in examining the extensive coal
fields which we had previously discovered on its banks. I here
made a two days' portage over the worst rapids,7 (#&t-ejr>, "the laughing waters."
On the 7th September, we arrived at a lake eight miles long
which we ascended to its head. Here I formed a central camp
and explored the neighboring country.
On the 16th. I struck in a south-east course through a valley,
all hands carrying heavy loads. That same night we came to a
small lake.
On the 17th, we crossed it on a raft.
On the 18th, travelled in a southerly course, we crossed a
range of mountains at the foot of which lay another lake four miles
On the 19th, I struck east by south through a valley about six
miles long, arrived that same evening at another lake fed by a
large river and surrounded by extensive swamps, at present nearly
dry. The first lake I named the Puntledge Lake, and the principal
feeder of it—Cruickshank Rive—after the estimable Secretary of
the Exploration Committee, George Cruickshank, Esq. The second
lake was dedicated with emptying stream to Mr. C. B. Toung. A
large ereek feeding it was named Monitor Greek.   A prominent EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 19
range of hills round the Puntledge Lake I named BeU's Hills. The
third lake I named Ash Lake, and to the fourth was attached the
name of Dr. Dickson. A considerable river feeding it and flowing
smoothly along from the mountains was named Fisher's River, while
a prominent snow peak, over 4,000 feet in height, was dedicated to
the Rev. Dr. Evans—
" While round its base the elouds in circles spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head."
Another lake, just before reaching the Central Lake, and emptied by
a creek flowing into the latter, I named Trounce Lake.
On the 20th we travelled due south, and camped on the side of
a range of mountains 2,000 feet high.
On the 21st we struck due south through the heavy fog overhanging the mountains. Here I plotted our course, and found that
we were distant but a few miles from the central lake., and the fog
clearing away a little from the height we discovered that dreary
expanse of water eighteen miles long—much smaller than previously
supposed—stretching about east and west.
On the 22d we reached this long looked for point, and constructed a raft on which we sailed in an easterly course seven miles.
We here left it, and struck through the woods in a south-east course ;
Indian signs and white men's blazes becoming frequent until dark.
On the following morning we reached another large lake,
(Sproat's or Kleecoot Lake,) which I had explored last year, and
travelled round its borders, until with glad hearts we threw down
our loads, (now considerably lightened since we left the Strait of
Georgia,) in front of the Opischesaht Indian village at the Falls of
the Somass. The Indians were all from home, but before long we
were surrounded by a party of woodmen who lived in a camp close
at hand. They had been expecting us for the last fortnight, and we
were no way reluctant to accept their hospitality, as* we had been
living for some days on bread and water, game having entirely disappeared from our track, That evening—Saturday, the 24th of
September—we descended the Somass or Kleeeoot river in a canoe,
amid the congratulations of the Indians, who recognized me again,
and a warm welcome we received that night at Alberni from Captain
Raymur and Mr. Johnston, J. P.
On this trip we passed over much timber land fit to be brought
into cultivation, and a new and easy route for a wagon road connecting the east and west coasts. We discovered large scales of gold in
Cruickshank River, although at the time the means at our disposal
and the shortness of food would not admit of our prospecting it as
we wished, yet we are of opinion that good diggings will be found
there.   We are of opinion that it would repay a party of regularly 20 EXPLORING   EXPEDITION'. '
equipped miners to prospect it thoroughly to its head in the course of
the summer, and that its banks and the base of Mount Evans will yet
be busy with miners, it is of much the same nature as Leech Biver.
Qold was also found in the Puntledge, but in little greater quantity
than the " color."
On arriving I learnt of the arrival of the party which I had
despatched from Nanaimo town, to Barclay Sound. Leech returned
on the 27th, and presented the following report ;
Alberni, September 20th,  1864.
In accordance with instructions received from Dr. Brown, I
proceeded with my party up the Nanaimo river  to a point where
it forks, one fork coming from  the south west, and the other, which
is the principal stream, from the west j having its source in a small
lake which is connected with another by a small stream about a
mile and a half in length.   The second lake is fed by a stream
flowing from the westward through a wide open valley not very
heavily timbered,  but   consisting  of cedar, Douglas  pine,  maple,
with an underbrush of berry bushes.   There seems  to be some very
good land in this valley.   The  timber on the shores of the lake
is excellent.   Returning to the forks I proceeded up the south-west
branch to its source which is in  latitude 49 degrees, 1  minute,
North; longitude,  124   degrees, 23   minutes,  West, and   at   an
altitude of about 4000 feet above sea level.   From this altitude we
had a magnificent view of the surrounding  country ; the portion
lying westward   presented a succession of   mountain   peaks  and
ranges, many of them bald and rocky with patches of snow   still on
them.   To the eastward between the Nanaimo and  Chemainos or
Sel-wac-uth rivers there is an extensive plain heavily timbered.    I
should     have examined this   valley,    but the   shortness   of   my
provisions at the time would not justify me in separating  my party
as intended by Dr. Brown ; however I have no doubt but there is good
agricultural land in this plain.    Continuing our journey in a southwesterly direction we struck the head waters of the river Amuchin,
which we followed to its mouth near the west end of Kowichan lake.
There is some excellent timber, white pine (Pinus strobus) and hemlock, on this river, but it is diffiicult of access.   From the west end of
Kowichan Lake we proceeded due west to Barclay Sound, which we
struck at the mouth of Sarita river in Nu-mu-ku-mis Bay, having
crossed four distinct ranges of mountains varying in  altitude from
two to three thousand feet.    We also crossed the Nittinaht river,
which here flows  through  an  open valley, heavily timbered with
spruce—underbrush of berry-bushes—and two other   good   sized
streams flowing through very fine valleys, in which I believe there
are considerable patches of good land.   The Sarita river  has its EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 21
source in a small lake, about three miles in length, and three-quarters of a mile wide, which is fed by a stream flowing from the east
north east. Where this stream enters the lake a delta of about
(1000) one thousand acres is formed ; it could be very easily cleared,
and made available for agriculture, as would also the valley
through which the Sarita river flows.
We left Nanaimo on Monday, the 15th August, and arrived
in Na-mu-kan-mis Bay on Wednesday, the 7th instant. Our pro-
• visions got so low on the 28th August, that we were obliged to put
ourselves on short rations. On the morning of Sunday, the 4th
instant, we were on our last bit of bread, at a place which we have
called Hungry Creek.
On Monday morning we cached our tent, the sextant, and most
of our personal effects, finding ourselves too weak to carry them.
On Tuesday, about noon, we struck the Lake at the head of
Sarita river, where we caught five small trout, of which we made
some delicious soup, travelled round the northern shore of the
Lake, and camped at nightfall, where it discharges into the Sarita
Next day (Wednesday,) after a good breakfast of trout, we
proceeded down the river by a good trail, came upon an Indian
lodge, about half a mile from the Lake ; an old Indian and his
squaw were the only inhabitants. I bargained with the old man
to take the party in a canoe to the sea for six dollars. About two
miles further down the river we came to another lodge, where there
were about six men with their squaws and children, belonging to
the Ohiahts. They received us very kindly and gave us plenty of
boiled fresh salmon. Here I bargained for a canoe to take us to
Alberni, were we arrived on Tuesday, the 8th instant.
On Tuesday last I took Buttle and two Indians, and went back
to the place where I made the cache, and found everything safe.
Returned to Alberni yesterday at 6 p. m. Prospected for gold in
every stream ; merely found the color in the Nanaimo river, and
Hungry creek, but did not find even that anywhere else. Although
the country abounded with deer and elk, and our hunter is a good
shot and had been hitherto very successful, yet we were so unfortunate as not to be able to kill a single deer from the time we left
Nanaimo river.
Your obedient servant,
The objects of geographical interest on this route were named
in honor of some members of the Expedition, of the Committee of 22 EXPLORING  EXPEDITION.
Exploration, Ac, e.g. Mount Wakeford,* (4,200) Mount Pidwell,t
(3,700) Mount Forbes^ (4,000) Mount Dennes,§ (3,800) Mount Franklyn,! (5,100) Mount Begbie,1F Mount Wood,** (5,500) Mount Lan-
dale.tt (4,250) Mount DeCosmos,^ Cone Mountain, (3,000) Mount
Good,§§ (4,600) Verney's River,! a tributary of the Nanaimo or Swoe-
lum River, Franklin's River,1TT flowing into the Alberni Canal, Fol*
linsbee's River,*** debouching into the same inlet, Mount Knipe,tt+
(4,350) &c. The names of the members of the Expedition are commemorated in McDonald's River, a tributary of the Nittinaht, Barn-
ston's River and Lake, Mount Buttle, (5,250) Mount Drew, (4,700)
Mount Hooper, (5,100) Mount Whymper, (5,200) whilst Hungry Creek,
Cache River, (flowing into Pachena Bay,) Delivery Creek, &c, are
named in memory of incidents which happened on their banks. Meade
has a river flowing into the Mahoilh or Stamp's River from the North.
The weather was very wet for some days, but as soon as the
rain abated, and the men had recruited a little, I commenced exploring the vicinity of Alberni canal, until the 13th October, when the
news of the Ah-ous-aht disturbances reached me in an official form,
and with it, the order to return to winter quarters, on account of
the disturbed condition of the Indian tribes of the west coast. It
had been my intention to have done so previously having received
intimation through native scources of the bombardment of the
Ahousatht village, consequent on the.murder of the " Kingfisher's"
crew, and warned not to endanger our lives, in the attempt to pass
along the coast on our way to Nootka Sound, (in some of the Rivers
of which there is said to be gold in paying quantities.) from whence
it had been my intention as intimated to you in my despatch No. 8,
to have crossed the Island by a chain of lakes and rivers, to Fort
Rupert on the east coast.
The results of our explorations in the vicinity of the Alberni
canal, and Barclay,  (or as it ought to be Berkley) Sound, may be
shortly summed up as follows :
1. The discoverv of gold in Franklin's river flowing into the
Alberni canal, below Copper mountain, and taking its rise near the
Nanaimo lakes, in quantities which as far as our Exploration permitted us to judge, from one dollar and a half to three per diem,
* In honour of the Honorable Henry Wakeford, Colonial Secretary; f J. T. Pid-
well, Esq., Member of the Exploration Committee ; j Dr. Forbes, R. N. the Author of
a very carefully complied Prize Essay on Vancouver Island; § G. E. Dennes, Esq., M.
L. A.; || W. H. Franklyn, Esq., J. P., Chairman of Branch Committee of Exploration,
at Nanaimo ; IT His Honor Chief Justice Begbie, of British Columbia ; ** The Honorable T. L. Wood, Attorney General of Vaacouver Island ; +f J. J. Landale, Esq., C E.
Engineer of Harewood Railway; %t Amor DeCosmos, Esq., M. L. A. §§ The Rev. J.
B. Good, B. A. Nanaimo; |||| Lieutenant Commanding E. H. Verney, R.N"., H.M.S.
" Grappler," Chairman of Sub. Committee of Exploration; 1HT Selim Franklin, Esq.,
M. L. A. Chairman Exploration Committee; *** Mr. James Follinsbee, a famous woodman of Alberni; ttf The Rev. Christopher Knipe, M. A., Aloe
with the rocker, with the promise of greater results in a more
extended prospecting. The River is full of canons, but there is "pay
dirt" for a reasonable number of men. In our opinion, the river is
worthy of another prospecting.
2. The exploration of the Nah-mint river flowing into Nah-mint
bay of the charts, to its scource in a lake about eight miles long.
The River is claimed by a tribe living in Ukl-ul-uaht arm, and we
found them camping there. The soil along the banks of the River
is good, but difficult to clear of fallen timber. After leaving the
falls, the timber is principally maple, (Acer Macrophylum Dougl.) no
indications of gold were found ; but favorable indications of copper
and ironstone. Buttle, to whom this duty was instructed, in his
report to me observes : The Lake we named the Nah-mint Lake,
it is between eight and nine miles long, with an average width of
one mile ; it lies north and south for about four miles and then it
turns to the west and north-west, for the remainder. It lies between two large mountains, about three thousand feet above the
level of the Lake. I took bearings of several high mountains to
north and west. One group I named the "Ten Spies" (in memory
of the Expedition, the original number of which was ten,) on
account of the small rocky peaks. Below the peaks we saw large
glacier banks of ice and snow, and the portion of a Lake bearing
south-west. About two miles up the River at the head of canoe
navigation, was found a vein of copper, which looked favorable.
The same party subsequently found out-eroppings of copper below
Copper Mountain.
3. The discovery of inland water communication for ten miles
only a quarter of a mile from the salt water, at the head of Ouch-e-
clous-hht Harbor, not far from the Indian village. This Lake I named
Henderson Lake, after my friend Captain John Henderson, who first
communicated to me the supposed existance of this body of water,
which may probably yet be of considerable value for inland communication, as the little outlet could be easily suited for the entrance of
vessels at a comparatively small expense. The Lake is fed by Henderson River and is surrounded by steep barren mountains, on this
side of which were found indications of copper. In neither Henderson River, nor a smaller one flowing in at the head of the harbor,
(Whymper River,) was there found the slightest indications of gold.
4. In a river known by the Indians as the At-laht, nearly opposite the mouth of Ouch-e-clous-aht Harbor, were found some indications of gold, and a copper ledge two feet in breadth—the indications
promising. On a tributary of the Ah-laht, flowing into it about four
miles up, and at right angle, the course of the Ahlaht being south- i
east, and that of the tributary north-east, about three miles up were
discovered three copper ledges but no gold.
5. We also completely explored the Central Lake, which we found
to be only from eighteen to twenty-two miles in length, nearly shut in
by mountains, abounding in deer, fed by Johnston * and Raymur's t
Rivers, and emptied by Stamp's % or the Mah-oilh River, which joins
the Kleecoot or Somass about five miles from its mouth. The latter
river flows into Stamp's Harbor at the head of the Alberni Canal,
and is the emptier of Sproat's II or Kleecoot Lake, a many armed sheet
of water, about sixteen miles long in its longest axis, and fed by
Taylor's River from the mountains,! round which you can see the
waters of Klay-o-quaht Sound. The latter lake is bordered in many
places with open lands, suitable for pasture, and fine timber. From
the mountains round the north arm of this lake I am in possession of
a piece of silver ore; but from the scource whence I received it, its
existence, as Sir Thomas Brown would have said, " though not
beyond the boundaries of possibility yet does not admit of a reasonable solution." Several small prairies border the Kleecoot River,
two of which are being brought under cultivation by Messrs. Anderson & Co., the proprietors ofthe Alberni Sawmills.
On the 14th we commenced our journey homewards, by crossing
the island from the mouth of the Somass or Kleecoot River, (navigable at high water for two miles by stern-wheel steamers, as is also the
Courtenay River at Comox,) to Quall-e-hum, on the Strait of Georgia,
where, after an easy march, we arrived on the 18th. The first portion
of our route for six miles was through a very open thinly wooded
fern f covered country, well adapted for grazing. It is the principal
hunting ground of the Opechesaaht Indians ; the trail is tolerably
well-marked. From here the route takes over a steepish ridge, 600
feet in height, from whence you descend to Home's Lake, seven miles
long. Keeping along by the borders of the lake until the end, we
struck for the sea through an open thinly timbered track, gently
sloping to the sea, and offering no impediment to travelling, with the
exception of about half a mile of burnt and fallen timber, two miles
from the coast. A five foot trail; fifteen miles in length, connecting
the east and west coasts, could be easily constructed here at an
average expense of seventy-five dollars per mile, and though the steep
ridge mentioned might offer some obstacles to a wagon road, as
* Matthew Johnston, Esq., J, P., Alberni; t Captain James Raymur; J Edward
Stamp, Esq.;  || Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, Esq.
§ I explored this river in June, 1863, and distinguished the snow peaks belting it by
the names of Sir William Gibson Craig, Bart., Lord Clerk Register of Scotland, I, Andor-
son Henry, Esquire, George Patton, Esquire, &c, prominent member* of the Botanical
Society, under whose auspices I pursued my researches.
% The cosmopolitan Pteris aquilina. EXPLORING   EXPEDITION. 25
Captain Richards, R. N., considered, yet I think this could be surmounted ; but still for a pack trail this would be immaterial. The
route along the banks of the Quall-e-hum River is very bad. Captain
Mayne, S. N., crossed the island to the south of our present track
and north of our route from Nanaimo to Barclay Sound, and considered that a route was practicable in that direction ; but I question
whether the advantage arising from avoiding the ridge would counterbalance the disadvantages of the much greater extent of
road, and the more wooded character of the country. The trail from
Victoria to Comox crosses the Quall-e-hum River close to the coast,
and an extension of this would form a transinsular road connecting
the civilization of the east with the barbarism of the west coast; the
coal miners of Nanaimo and the farmers of Comox with the wild
savage of Nootka, Klay-o-quaht and Barclay Sounds. As it.is. it. is
frequently crossed by millmen from Alberni in a day and a half to
Quall-e-hum, from whence, by the G-overnment trail to Nanaimo, the
distance is between thirty and thirty-five miles.
We found two camps of the warlike Euc-lat-aws camped on the
Quall-e-hum, and it was with difficulty that we rescued from their
hands an Opichesaht hunter, who had accompanied us as guide.
This territory, at one time belonging to the Qualle-hums, who are now
extinct as a separate tribe, and their lands divided between the
Euclataws and the Coraoucs, (or Sath-luths) whom we found camped
further down the coast, on the site of their old village of Saa-tlaam
or Saat-lelp, (" the place of the green leaves"). I hired a large canoe
from the Chief of the Euclataws to take "us to Nanaimo, where we
arrived on the 19th, and reported myself to W. H. Franklyn, Esq.,
J. P., Chairman of the Branch Committee.
On the 20th, we left on board Her Majesty's Gunboat " G-rap-
pler,".and arrived in Victoria on the 21st of October, 1864.
At the same time, I beg to present for your satisfaction the
detailed accounts of the Expedition, and of the funds intrusted to me
from the commencement to the close of the Expedition, with maps
and sketches of the whole route, and objects of interest. The great
difficulty of conveying anything prevented us to our deep regret
making a large collection of minerals, or other objects of Natural
History, but such as we have been able to preserve, I beg to lay
before you.
Such, gentlemen, is a short, and I fear a somewhat imperfect
account of the labours of the Expedition. The short period since
our arrival, and the almost constant engagement of my time, must
be my excuse for not, at this period, presenting to you a less concise
document, but I trust that you will allow me when I have had time
to systematise and revise and extend my notes, to lay before you 26 EXPLORING   EXPEDITION.
(if not personally, yet through another s. ource,) for more permanent
use, a lengthened account, when I will detail:
(1.) A complete topographical and geographical account of the
whole country passed over by us, with an account of all the
information which we possess regarding the less known portions
of Vancouver Island.
(2.) Astronomical observations.
(3.) Natural History.
(4.) Timber, and timber trees.
(5.) Agricultural.
(6.) Geology and mines.
(7.) A report upon the present state of th'e Indian tribes of
the Island, socially and statistically, with vccabularies of the
languages spoken by them, and the whole sumariced into a new
and detailed map of the colony, when you have decided upon
the necessary scale, and other arrangements. Mr. Frederick
Whymper, the artist of the Expedition, proposes exhibiting his
numerous drawings at present, to the public in one of the rooms
of the Government House, and afterwards, in conjunction with me
publishing them in a work on this coast, or otherwise, as you may
finally determine.
In conclusion I have to thank you for the trouble you have taken
in this matter, and your patience on every occasion ; and though on
the Commander always lies a load of difficulties and anxieties such
as none who have not shared in similar enterprises in the same
capacity can well appreciate, yet I would be wrong not to speak
gratefully of the assistance ready and constant almost to a man of
the subordinates of the Expedition ; and you will pardon me if I
express a hope that their labors will not go unrewarded by you.
Another Expedition would be comparatively easy. To you and to
us fell all the "pioneer" work of organizing and carrying it into
effect, amid difficulties, jealousies, and other obstacles. Though I
fear that it cannot be my lot to personally join in another Expedition,
yet I trust that you will see fit to send out another in early spring,
and I think that we could perhaps furnish advice and information
which might enable you to steer clear of difficulties which seriously
but unavoidably incommoded us.
Finally I have to thank you for the honor vou did me in placing
me at the head of the Expedition, and my satisfaction at the favorable results which have followed its labors.   I trust that I have in
some degree merited your confidence, and that any errors I may have
committed will be attributed to head and not to heart.
I have the honor to be,
Your very obedient servant,
Commander and Government Agent of the Vancouver Island
Exploring Expedition.
Vancouver Island Exploration Committee.
The Report has afforded the Committee much gratification, and
they are persuaded that its publication, which has kindly been
undertaken by the Government, will do much to stimulate future
enterprise, to attract capital to the Colony, and to promote its
settlement. The gold fields^of Sooke and Leech Rivers, now being
successfully worked, furnish broad grounds for the belief that in the
interior there exist deposits which will give remunerative employment
to great numbers of industrious men, and supply the means of fostering extensive commercial, manufacturing and agricultural interests.
The Commander, and the Officers and men under his direction
have prosecuted the arduous task assigned to them in a highly
praiseworthy manner ; and the Committee trust that it will be in
the power of the Executive of the Colony to confer upon them some
appropriate manifestation of appreciation of the zeal and perseverance by which difficulties of no ordinary, magnitude, inseparable
from such an undertaking, have been met and surmounted.
s The assistance from time to time rendered by the Admirals and
other Officers of Her Majesty's Navy has been of great advantage
to the Expedition. It has been the means of economizing the funds
placed at the disposal of the Committee, and entitles the gentlemen
connected with that branch of the service to the warm thanks of
the inhabitants of the Colony.
In conclusion, the Committee contemplate with satisfaction and
encouragement the successful results of the researches of the
Expedition in the limited section of the Island to which they were
confined by the shortness of the season. They hope that His
Excellency and the inhabitants of the Colony will deem inadvisable
to resume the work of exploration at the early opening of the spring
and to extend it over the entire Island, with the warranted expectation that its mineral and other valuable resources will fully
reach the warmest anticipations of the friends of progress.
Subjoined will be found an abstract of the Receipts and Dis-
bursments of the Committee, all which is respectfully submitted.
Chairman ofthe Vancouver Island Exploration Committee,
Victoria, Vancouver Island, April Zrd, 1865.
1. Robert Brown, Commander and Government Agent;
2. Peter John Leech, Lieutenant and Astronomer.
3. Frederick Whymper, Artist.
4. John Buttle, Asistant Naturalist, &c.
5. Alexander S. Barnston, Pioneer and Miner.
6. John Meade. "
7. Ranald McDonald,
8. John M.Foley,
9. Thomas Henry Lewis, " "
10. Richard Drew,
11. William Hooper, "
12. Toma Antoine,       Hunter.
detached July 26.
joined August 6.
Lazare La Buscav,
joined July 6th, left September 7.
Indians—Comiaken tribe, 3 ; Quamichan tribe, 1 ; Samena tribe,
3 ; Nittinaht tribe, 3 ; Pachenaht tribe, 8; Soake tribe, 4: Che-
mainus tribe, 4 ; Nanaimo tribe, 6 ; Comoucs tribe, 1; Puntledge
tribe, 1; Opichesaht tribe, 4; Seshaaht tribe, 2 ; Ohiaht tribe., 4 j
Ouchuklousaht tribe, 2; Ucluluaht tribe, 1.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items