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Notes on north-western America Anderson, Alexander Caulfield, 1814-1884 1876

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('Formerly of the Hudson's Bay Company.)
Mitchew, Printers, 1&||St. Peter Stri^
1876.  y
By Alexander Caulfield Anderson, J. P.   (Formerly of the Hudson's
Bay Company.)
Watersheds.—The main continental watershed is of course
the general line of the Rocky Mountains (tinted red), which continue through Alaska to the extreme point, near Cape Lisburne.
There is, hoover, an exception to this general rule near the heads
of Peace River, where the main chain is disrupted, and the waters
originate in the Peak Range of Arrowsmith's Map, which range
here forms an extraordinary loop with the main line. Both
afterwards unite with the N.W. Coast Range, and continue as one,
nearly as far as the 60th parrallel, where a divergence again
takes place, and, the Southern Coast Range of .ilaska originates.
The Sierra Nevada, the chief range of California, separates near the frontier of Oregon ; the eastern branch, known
as the Blue Mountains, dividing the waters of the main Columbia River from those of its great tributary, the Snake ; the
western, under the name of the Cascade Range, continuing
north-westward into British Columbia, as far as the junction of
tbe Thompson with the Fraser in 50° 13', where it terminates.
The Cascade Range is disrupted at a point between Mounts
Hood and St. Helens; the Columbia River then breaking
through and forming a strong rapid known as the " Cascades,"
whence the name given to the range. This name, however,
originates not from any peculiarity in the rapid itself, but from
several lofty waterfalls, formed by streamlets pouring down the •
perpendicular face of the disrupted mountain in the immediate
vicinity. The height of the passes in this range varies from
3,000 to 5,000 feet; the peaks sometimes rising to an altitude
of 15,000. Mount Rainier, the most lofty of the northern portion, has an elevation of 12,360 feet. Most if not all of these
summits are volcanoes, either extinct or in partial eruption at
distant intervals. It may here be mentioned that the term
I Cascade Range," through a total misapprehension of the
leading features of the country, has of late years been extended
* Descriptive matter intended to accompany a " Skeleton Map of
North-West America," prepared by Mr. Anderson to send to the Philadelphia International Exhibition of 1876.
A so as to include also the North-West Coast Range, from which
the true Cascade Range is geographically quite distinct. Hence
much confusion has arisen. Against this perversion I have always
protested ; and now once more endeavour to restore the distinction before most properly made by the original explorers, and
established on their maps.
The North-West Coast Range (tinted yellow), just referred to,
originates opposite to Langley near the mouth of Fraser River,
and continues north-westward, nearly parallel with the coast, till
it is merged in the Rocky Mountains between 56° and 57Q—
thus forming the whole western watershed of Fraser River, as the
northern part of the Cascade Range, with its'offset connected
with the Rocky Mountain Columbian spur, does the eastern.
The contour of this range, especially on the coast-ward side, is
extremely broken and irregular ; its rugged spurs forming the
sub-divisions between the numerous arms with which the northwest coast is indented. As we advance northward, however,
the summit itself is not of a broken nature ; but exhibits a
vast plateau, yielding lichens and other congenial vegetation,
together with a stunted growth of pines in parts. This portion
of the range is the resort of innumerable Rein-deer of the
mountain variety, and abounds also with Ptarmigan. Its
elevation opposite to Bentinck Arm, between lat. 52° and 53°,
is 4,360 feet, and at the head of Bute Inlet Pass, where the characteristics are somewhat different, 3,117 feet ; but there are
other points where depressions occur, as for instance between
Stuart and Babine Lakes, where the altitude does not probably
mnch exceed 2,000 feet above the sea level. The highest summits rise in places to about 10,000 feet; but amid the general
ruggedness of contour there are no strikingly conspicuous peaks
as on the Cascade Range.
Diverging from the Rocky Mountains near the 49th parallel
is the ridge forming the Southern and Eastern Watershed of
Hudson's Bay.—Under the varying cognominations of Coteau
de la Missouri, Coteau des Prairies, &c, this watershed, passing
the heads of the Red River, continues beyond the area of the
map, forms the northern and western boundaries of the Provinces
of Ontario and Quebec, and, dividing Labrador, terminates at
Hudson's Strait, opposite to Southampton Island, shown on the
map. The average elevation of the Prairie portion of this ridge,
as given by Mr. G-. M. Dawson, is 2,000 feet.    The western and •northern portions of this vast watershed are the Rocky Mountains
as far as the head of the North Saskatchewan and the line as
■.shown.    From this portion of the watershed, in about lat. 64°,
the range forming the Arctic watershed diverges, terminating at
the mouth of the Mackenzie.
Alaska.—The Kwitchpak or Yukon is the principal stream
of this extensive region—a river of very considerable magnitude.
The Hudson's Bay Company have long had posts on the upper
waters of this stream, within the British territory ; but it is
chiefly from the reports of the party sent for exploration in connection with the projected telegraph through Siberia that our
knowledge of the lower portion is derived. Thence it appears
.-that the river is navigable for steamers for 1,000 miles or more ;
that the ice breaks up about the 23rd of May, and that navigation is practicable about the 25th. The length of the Yukon,
including its windings, I compute to be about 1,600 English
miles. The volume of water ejected by it, according to the
accounts received, is probably not less than that emitted by the
Mackenzie; but the area drained by it and its tributaries
(about 229,000 square miles) is very much smaller. Hence it
may be inferred that the snow-fall in the mountains of Alaska
is proportionately heavy, a result readily conceivable from its
geographical position—directly interceptive of the vapour-drift
from the Pacific. The upper portions of the Yukon and its tributaries, the Porcupine and other streams, are well wooded, and
abound with animals yielding furs of a quality peculiarly fine.
Moose-deer are numerous along the rivers and in the lower eleva-
tions. In the more precipitous ridges of the mountains the Wild
Goat is found; on the sloping spurs the Mountain Sheep or Bighorn. Rein-deer are numerous ; the larger variety frequenting the
interior parts, the smaller, or Barren-ground Rein-deer the coast-
ward tracts. Fish of various kinds are numerous in the waters;
and among these, two varieties, at least, of Salmon periodically
ascend from the sea. The larger of these {Salmo dermatinus, of
Richardson) attains a weight of from forty to fifty pounds; the
-smaller (•S. consuetus) from twenty to twenty-five pounds. The
^natives of the interior of Alaska, distinguished as the Koochin
•tribes, are a branch of the great Dinnee (or ll Tinneh") family, the
general boundaries of which are indicated by aline (red and blue)
■ on the map. The Koochins have the character of being industrious,
and are in many respects a somewhat superior race.    They are divided into some twenty or more different septs, each bearing a
specific cognomen with the general affix " Koochin," meaning I
believe " people." Approaching the coast the country assumes the
generally desolate aspect of the Arctic Ocean confines, and the
Esquimaux occupy the immediate sea-board. It is probable that
with time mineral deposits of various kinds may be developed in
Alaska. So far copper is known to exist in parts; and during the
past summer some gold-seekers have been working upon streams
falling into Cook's Inlet, the daily yield of whose labours is reported to have been moderately productive, averaging from $4.00
to $5.00 per man. Fossil ivory, as on the Siberian shore, is
known to exist in the northern part of Alaska, adjoining
Behring's Strait.* The name Alaska I believe to be a modification of the term for this coast employed by the natives of
Kamtchatka; who,aecording to Benyowski(Voyages e*t Memoires,
&c. Paris 1791) distinguished the main shore of America as
Alacsina (or Alacsa), the termination being apparently an affix.
The Point | Le Grande Alacsina" mentioned at page 413 of
vol I, I identify with what is now known as Cape Prince of
Mackenzie River.—This river, with its-tributaries, drains
an area of about 520,000 square miles, or more than double that
drained by the Yukon. Its length from the mouth on the Arctic
Ocean to its remote beads in the Rocky Mountains, by the
line of Peace River, and including windings, is little, if at allr
short of 2,000 miles. Unlike the Yukon, there, are several
lakes of very large dimensions connected with it. The lower
part of the Mackenzie shares the generally barren and inhospitable nature of the Arctic coast; and there is little vegetation
beyond a few stunted willows, the cranberry, the widely distributed "Labrador Tea" (Ledum palustre) and other products
of a congenial class. Yet even amid this scene of desolation,
Mackenzie noticed, in July, tracts of luxuriant grasses mingled
with gay flowers, covering the ice-bound soil; just as navigators
have noticed the same seeming anomaly in Kotzebue Sound and
elsewhere along the Strait of Behring. Rein-deer are the only
species of the family found here; Foxes of several varieties, including the white (Vulpes Lagopus) occur; also the Marmot, the Bear,
* Kotzebue, in 1816, when landed on Chamissa Island in Kotzebue
Sound, discovered the remains of Elephas primigenius, apparently
portions of a large deposit, imbedded in the land ice. &c.   In addition to the many kinds of migratory water-fowl that
resort to these localities to breed, the white Grouse or Ptarmigan
(Lagopus albus) appears abundantly as a permanent resident,
as indeed along the whole Arctic watershed and the shores of
Hudson's Bay.    The White-fish   (Coregonus), several varieties
of Carp, Trout, and other fish, including the Inconnu (probably
grayling, Thymallus signifer, of Richardson ?), are common to
the stream and its tributaries.    The Pike also is found, but  no
Salmon ascend this river ; which in this respect forms probably
the solitary exception among all the larger streams from California upwards to this point.    For the deficiency of this valuable fish there is no apparent cause ; nor does there seem to exist
any reason why it should  not be artificially introduced at some
future day.    Higher up, as we approach the discharge of the
■Great Bear Lake, the evidences of an improving climate appear.
The Service-berry (Amelanchier), the Wild Gooseberry and other
fruits are common ; the country throughout is well timbered,
chiefly with varieties of fir and pine; and  a greater variety of
beasts of the chase, including the Moose, the Beaver, &c, appear.
Little has been ascertained of the mineral characteristics of the
lower  Mackenzie ; but Sir Alex.  Mackenzie,  whose   name  it
•bears, mentions a seam of coal (or lignite ?) which was on fire
when he passed in 1789 ; and which was noticed by Dr. Richardson, still in a state of ignition, as late as the year 1848.
Upon the heads of the Riviere aux Liards, an extensive tributary joining from the southward, productive gold-beds have been
wrought for the last three years ;  and here, within the limits of
British Columbia, under the name of " Cassiare," a settlement
has been formed in connexion  with this alluring, if precarious,
industry.    This river, it may be mentioned, derives its name
from the profusion along the banks of its lower portion, of the
Cotton-Wood Poplar  (Liard z=.Popidus balsamifera.)    It  is
needless to add that in the mouths of the many, the name has
.already been wonderfully transformed.
Peace River.—The lower portion of this tributary of the
Mackenzie, after its junction with the Athabasca, where it is
.-upwards of a mile in breadth, is known as the Slave River ; a
name originating with the Cree Indians, who applied the designation (Aw&h-can, or slave) in derision of the lower Chipewy-
.ans, who were formerly treated by them as enemies, and whom
.they had driven from their lands.    Towards the end of the last century a general pacification of the hitherto hostile tribes took.
place, a treaty of amity having been concluded at the spot since
known as Peace Point. Hence the name of La Riviere a la
Paix, now translated into " Peace River," given to the stream
by the first explorers. Its original name, however, is Unjigah,
the signification of which, if haply it have a signification, I
have never been able to ascertain. The whole extent of country
through which this noble river flows, from the point where it
breaks through the Rocky Mountains (vide supra) to its junction with the Athabasca, is very attractive, and a vast area for
future settlement is presented. The want of space will prevent
my dwelling on the charming features exhibited by this beauti.
ful region ; and I merely remark that its general characteristic is
that of extensive plains, stretching on either side clear up to the
foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains and their several spurs, and
amid which groups of aspens, &c, are picturesquely interspersed.-
With reference to the climate of this portion of the country, the
mere consideration of latitude would, if entertained, mislead the
uninformed enquirer very gravely. A glance at the isothermal,
lines will show that leaving the Atlantic coast they trend,
abruptly northward till they reach the vicinity of the Rocky
Mountains; and finally the actual difference of the mean term-
perature as between positions on the Atlantic and the Pacific,
may be stated in approximate terms as about ten degrees Fahrenheit in favour of the latter. Hence the denizens of the Peace
River country and the Saskatchewan enjoy a climate far more
genial than might be supposed. The confined space at my disposal prevents my entering upon any prolonged discussion oF
this interesting theme, to which, however, I may again incidentally refer. I content myself by remarking that the snow, in
most parts, seldom accumulates to a greater depth than eighteen
inches on the levels, the warm south-west winds, of frequent
recurrence during the winter, at once diminishing it, or at times
removing it almost entirely from all the lower land. The river
opens about the 25th of April, and is closed for navigation at the
beginning of November. I shall here, however, avail myself of'
the valuable notes of Professor J. C. Macoun, drawn from the
railway reports and other sources. At Fort Vermilion on.
the 6th of August (1875), lat 56°. 42', barley ripe and cut,
and on the 12th wheat and oats fit for reaping. At Fort
McMurray at the forks of the Athabasca, an excellent garden.
I containing many kinds of vegetables, including fine cucumbers.
At Isle a- la Crosse (English River) potatoes still in the ground
on the 22nd September, there not having been any frost up to
that date. Mr.. Selwyn, Director of the Canadian Geological
Survey, is reported to have brought down samples which will
doubtless appear at the Centennial Exhibition ; viz.: Spring
wheat from Fort Chipewyan (Athabasca Lake), lat. 58° 45',
weighing sixty-eight pounds to the bushel—sown May 22nd,
reaped in August. Barley from the same place weighing fifty-
eight pounds to the bushel ; and oats from Fort St. John on
the Peace River, on the verge of the Rocky Mountains. The
leading vegetable forms observed by Mr. Macoun in the Prairie
section around Dunvegan, are as under :—
Anemone Virginiana. Oxytropis splendens.
"        patens. Elaaagnus argentea (Silver-berry.)
Geum trifl'orum (Bennet.) Vicia Americana (Vetch).
Potentilla arguta. Artemisia frigida.
"        Pennsylvanica. "       discolor.
Amelanchier Canadensis, (Service   Bromus Kalmii.
berry.) Triticum repens, &c.
Achillea millefolium, (Yarrow or   Aira csespitosa.
Millefoil). Lathyrus ochroleucus.
Bosa blanda. Poa serotina.
Hedysarum boreale. Stipa Richardsonii.
Solidago (Golden Rod), two species.      "    membrancea.
Aster multifiorus. Trisetum subspicatum.
"   laevis. Calamagrostis Canadensis.
Orthocarpus luteus " stricta.
Troximon glaucum.
Mr. Macoun adds that every plant on this list grows also at
Edmonton, on the Saskatchewan, and all grow where wheat
will come to perfection. But nothing, perhaps, can more satisfactorily prove the true prairie character of the country than
the fact mentioned by Mr. Macoun, that at Dunvegan he found
growing the Disc-leaved Cactus (Opunita Missouriensis) which is
always indicative of a dry locality with a considerable degree of
mean annual heat. The whole of this region once abounded with
herds of Bison, as still do parts of the Saskatchewan ; but the
remnants are now found only in remote places on the outskirts
of the Rocky Mountains. Other beasts of the chase, such as
the Red-deer and the Moose, are still numerous; while in the
mountainous parts the Rein-deer, the Goat, the Mountain Sheep,
the ordinary varieties of the Bear (black, brown and grizzly),
&c, abound. 8
Athabasoa^River.—This is reached on crossing the divide
(indicated on the map) between it and Peace River. The summit
of this divide, composed of a swampy plateau with a vegetation
of corresponding nature, does not probably exceed 2,000 feet in
height—that of Lesser Slave Lake, on the one hand, and Dunvegan
on the other, being estimated, the former at 1,800, the latter at
1,000 feet above the sea-level. The banks of the Athabasca River
generally less inviting in appearance than those of the Peace.
The lower portions, however, present many attractive features ;
and the climate, as indicated by the extract given above, is encouraging for agriculture. The borders upwards, are for the most
part thickly wooded with the Spruce and Cyprus (Pinus Bank-
siana) interspersed with the Balsam Poplar, the White Birch, and
other deciduous trees. Animals of the various kinds mentioned
abound throughout in their fitting localities, while fish of the
finest description are yielded by the lakes. Athabasca Lake, it
may be here mentioned, is noted for the innumerable flocks of
water-fowl which resort thither as a favorite breeding place, and
which at the proper seasons yield store of food to the inhabitants. The mineral riches of the tract drained by these large
rivers are varied; at the head of the Peace, on the borders of the
Peak Range, there are extensive gold diggings, known as Omineca, which are moderately productive, though now partially
abandoned for richer fields. Coal, reported to be of good quality,
is found at several points upon the Athabasca; while favourable
indications appear upon the Peace. Bituminous pits exist in
several places along the lower Athabasca ; yielding an apparently inexhaustible supply of pure mineral tar. The product
of some of these, duly prepared by boiling, &c, has long been
used for pitching the boats employed for transport. Smoky
River, falling into the Peace above Dunvegan, has its name
from beds of coal or lignite, which were on fire when Europeans
first visited the country, if indeed yet extinct. . Mineral Salt
is found between Athabasca and Great Slave Lakes. Near the
mouth of the 1 Salt River" it appears in the form of a thick
incrustation on the borders of the springs, and requires merely
to be shovelled into bags. The salt thus procured has from the
first been the sole resource of the European residents, and is of
an excellent quality for all domestic purposes.
The Barren Grounds may be defined as extending from the
watershed   immediately   north   of   Churchill   River   to   the Mackenzie, along the slopes towards Hudson's Bay and the
-Arctic Ocean. As shown in a previous note, referring to Isle k la
Crosse, the soil and climate along the upper portion of the former
stream are sufficiently favourable for agriculture; but lower down,
and proceeding northward and westward, the whole region is extremely desolate and inhospitable. This, as shown on the map,
is occupied by a portion of the great Chipewyan or Tinneh tribe,
who regard it as the cradle of their race, whence they claim to
have spread in other directions. Little description of this desolate
region is necessary, beyond that information which the general
reader will already have acquired from other sources. A few
stunted shrubs of the hardiest kinds—dwarf birch, willows and
the like—scantly clothe the more favoured spots along the watercourses ; while elsewhere various lichens, the peculiar food of
the Rein-deer, interspersed with stones and stagnant water-pools,
alone characterize the dreary scene. Yet amid these unattractive wilds the natives obtain an abundant, if at times precarious, subsistence, by fishing and the chase. Rein-deer (of the
smaller variety) are extremely numerous during the period of
their northern migration, commencing in March ; and the Musk-
Ox (Ooibos Moschatus) finds in these solitudes a congenial and
perennial field. On the immediate sea-frontier the Polar Bear
appears; but no other of the larger quadrupeds than those enumerated I believe is found. The Beaver, common to nearly every
portion of North America, shuns a scene where all its industry
would fail to procure its living ; and it is not till the hunters
reach the line of about the 65th parallel that they are able to
procure the fur of this animal for the purposes of barter. The
Ptarmigan is found in abundance, as also the White Fox ; with
Wolves, some of which are white, and in parts the Arctic Hare
(Lepus variabilis). Most of the lakes are well stocked with
White-fish and other kinds ; and probably Salmon,of some of the
numerous varieties, ascend all the larger rivers between the
Churchill and the Mackenzie, in ueither of which do they appear.
A variety called the | Copper Mine River Salmon" {Salmo
Hearnii of Richardson) is known to ascend the river of that name •
and the native name of the Back River—Thleu-e-chodezeth (or
tesse)—lead some to infer that that also is frequented either
by this or some other variety. (Thleu-e-cho, literally " big-fish,"
■ employed by the Tdh-cully of the upper Fraser to designate the
.sturgeon, is on the Mackenzie applied to the salmon of the 10
Yukon). Of the minerals in this quarter little can be said -
but from the name of one of the rivers before mentioned, and
irom report, we may be justified in believing that rich deposits
ot copper, at least, exist. The Esquimaux occupy the whole
sea-board, as indicated on the map.
The  Portage  &  la  Loche,   or Methy  Portage.   (Methy fit
Loche = Fresh Water Cod | Gadus barbatula ?) is on   the
dividing „dge between the waters flowing to Hudson's Bay by
the valley of the Missinipi, and those tributary to the Mackenzie through the Athabasca.   The summit of this portage, which.
}s elevated very considerably above the general level,  has an
alti ude above the sea, as given by 'Mr. C. M. Dawson on the-
authonty of Dr. Richardson, of 1566 feet ; but this estimate
strikes me as somewhat underrated.    The length of the portage
is thirteen miles, over a level sandy plateau, stony in parts, and
wooded with the Banksian Pine, the Spruce,  and other trees.
1 be northern side is a steep escarpment,  descending by eight
successive stages, all more or less precipitous, to the borders of
the Clear-water, which flows by a course of some eighty miles,
through a charming valley of ming]ed  pla.nand .b the'
Athabaska, the breadth of the united stream being about three-
tourths of a mile at the point of the union, called « The Forks "
It is by this route, and the Portage de la Traite on the opposite
bet ^T1^ Vdley' that the transP°rt •« Reeled
betwe n Athabasba and Lake Winnipeg via the Saskatchewan,
a his last portage has its name from the circumstance that Mr
Wen ?;??."* traderfrom Canada/here intercepted a
arge party of Indians on  their way to Churchill in 1774, and
SS£      11 By the Crees this P°rta^ *»» • oM
he £ t'lS:Td AthikesiP^9an Portage-I e. Portage of
he St etched Frog-Skin.    Hence, I presume, the name applied
known bvTreCentmapS   "Fr°SPo^ge"-butit  is better
Known by the name given above
JsrlT^Z^T^generdf6atUreS°fthetractGained by
this river and the other tributaries to Lake Winnipeg are so weU
total area so drained, and discharged through the Nelson River I
compute at 376,000 English square miles: the length indud^
w   dmgSj f      the mouth of fche Ndson tQ g h     eluding
katchewan, about 1,500 miles, as will be perceived by ZmaT
The descentfor a certain distance from Lake Winnipeg towtdZe 11
sea, by the series of lakes terminating in Split Lake, is necessarily
very gradual; thence, consequently, to its mouth the Nelson jushes
with great impetuosity.   It is owing to the series of rapids thus
formed that the navigation of the lower parts is avoided; and the
ordinary boat route from York Factory to Lake Winnipeg is
through Hayes' River and its connected waters, and over the
divide by portage, striking the waters of Lake Winnipeg below
Norway House.  Thence to Edmonton on the Saskatchewan there
are no impediments to the navigation of any moment, save the
Coles' Rapids, near the confluence of the north and south branches, some twelve miles in length, which are navigable with care
and skill, and the Grand Rapid near the mouth, where the river
bursts through the ridge of limestone which forms the northwestern   boundary   of   Lake  Winnipeg.    The   Saskatchewan
becomes free from ice about the same time as the Peace River j.
but the navigation from Edmonton is rarely attempted before-
the middle of May, when the waters have usually risen enough to
float the loaded bateaux over the frequent shoals.    Much of
what has been said of the Peace River might be repeated of
this region. The vegetation has the same general characteristics,,
and the climate is not dissimilar.    Of minerals it may be remarked that coal has been discovered in thick seams in the vicinity
of Edmonton ; and Mr. Selwyn is of opinion that, by boring,
the seams may be struck at a small depth at various points, at
least as low as Carlton near the confluence of the two branches,
I may  here incidentally mention that both at Edmonton and
at   Carlton   the development of  goitre   in   the   permanent
residents is not uncommon.     At the last mentioned post I
have seen a whole family thus afflicted—the children exhibiting
the marks of advanced cretinism. I am induced to think that the
constant use of the river water, which is extremely turbid for
the greater part of the year, without filtering or other preparation, is the proximate cause of this affliction, which does not
attack the roving population, who are not confined to the use of
the river water.    The digging of wells, in such case, suggests
the obvious remedy.    I may add that I arrive at the conclusion
stated the more readily, because that on Peace River, where the
evil is also manifested in less marked degree, I have known a
family who had partially contracted the disease during a long
residence at Fort Vemilion, to entirely recover after a comparatively short residence at McLeod's Lake, at the head of Peace 12
River, where the waters are pure and limpid. There may,
however, be deeper latent causes; but I suggest these which
appear to me the more obvious. Yet even under this view there
is a difficulty ; for on Fraser River, where a similar condition
of the water might be argued to produce a similar effect, no case
of the kind has ever appeared. The Saskatchewan, like the
Mackenzie, the Churchill, and I believe all the rivers falling
into. Hudson's Bay, is destitute of Salmon.
The West Side op the Rooky Mountains.—This region
must be noticed very briefly. The lengths of the Fraser flowing
entirely, and of the Columbia partially, within the limits of
British Columbia, are respectively, including windings, the
former about 800, the latter 1,200 miles ; the approximate
areas of drainage being, by the Fraser 66,400, by the Columbia
215,900 square English miles. Immediately on crossing the
Rocky Mountains by the heads of the latter river, after the
autumn frosts have already invaded the eastern side, a great
improvement in the temperature is perceptible, while all the
external evidences of a warmer climate appear. Descending the
Grande C6te, within twenty miles of the summit, huge trees of
the I Red Cedar" (Thuja gigantea of Nuttall) are for the first
time seen; and lower down the timber and other vegetation are
also different. About ColviUe the Columbian Red Pine (Pinus
ponderosa) and the Larch (Larix occidentalis) of large dimensions are seen—the latter confined apparently to the vicinity of the
49th parallel, the former extending north-westward nearly to the
great divide beyond the Thompson, and westward to the head
of Anderson Lake near the Coast Range. About one hundred
miles below ColviUe the borders of the great Columbia Desert
are reached ; extending thence, with opeasional oases, as far as
the Dalles of the Wascopum ; and by the Snake River finally
meeting with the deserts of the Youtah. Artemisia, the Cactus,
and other congenial plants, characterise the whole of this arid
tract; while the more favoured spots, near the water-courses,
yield abundant pasture of rich Bunch-grass, and are extremely
fertile. At one point upon the Okinagan River, this arid waste
extends for a short distance into British Columbia; and I do
not question that, acting as a great reservoir of heat, the vast
expanse exercises a marked influence on the temperature of the
whole vicinity ; and to the extension of this influence, partly, in
•conjunction with the warm winds from the Pacific, I ascribe 13
the general mildness of the climate upon the Peace River, On
the lower Columbia, and through Oregon to California, the
country is too well known for its fertility and resources to
require comment.
British Columbia.—Tn British Columbia proper, the general features may be thus briefly summed up. Westward of the
North-West Coast Range the whole tract is excessively mountainous, and penetrated by numerous inlets of the ocean. Eastward of the Coast Range (besides the intervening portion of the
Cascade Mountains in the southern part), numerous ridges of
moderate elevation appear, between which are broad valleys of
great fertility, abounding with rich pasture, and partaking generally of the prairie character. The upper portion is more densely
wooded, with fertile openings at intervals. The lower portions,
along the line of the Fraser, with a generally dense growth of
gigantic timber, present openings in parts of great fertility. The
whole of the north-west coast, with a portion of Vancouver
Island, is richly clothed with valuable timber of stupendous
growth. In minerals the whole province is extremely rich.
Nearly all the eastern coast of Vancouver Island abounds with
coal; the most southern portion yet discovered being at Saanich
near Victoria, where there is an apparently rich seam. The
coal is esteemed of excellent quality, the chief export at present
being from Nanaimo and its vicinity ; and though some mines
are wrought upon the neighbouring mainland, bordering on
Puget Sound, the product does not command an equal price in
San Francisco, nor is it apparently in demand. Iron ore, of the
finest quality and easily accessible, with limestone for smelting
purposes in the vicinity, exists in inexhaustible quantity on
Texada Island near Nanaimo. Gold is found at the well known
** Caribou Mines" ; at the | Omineca"(i.e. " Mountain Whortleberry") diggings at the head of Peace River ; at the head of
the Dease tributary of the Riviere aux Liards, called •• Cassiare"
from the name of the reputed discoverer; on the upper waters
of the Columbia near the Big Bend ; on the Koutanais and
elsewhere both on the mainland and Vancouver Island* Silver,
not yet productively worked, exists in various parts of the Pro-
* The total yield of gold, however, from British Columbia in 1875
did not probably exceed three millions of dollars, of which about
five-sixths only passed directly through the Banks. 14
vince, and especially at Cherry Creek near the head of the Okin-
Sgan Lake,and at a point near Hope on the Lower Fraser. Copper
is generally distributed along the north-west coast, in some parts
very abundantly ; but so far has not been effectually wrought.
A very rich deposit of galena, yielding a moderate percentage of
silver, exists on the Flat-bow Lake (Koutanais). but the position is too remote and inaccessible for its profitable working.
The Islands of Queen Charlotte, from what is already known,
will probably'be found extremely rich in all the metals mentioned, iron perhaps excepted. A seam of Anthracite coal of
excellent quality was for a time worked there; but for some
reason has been abandoned.*
Prominent Vegetation in this Section.—(1.) Along the northwest coast:    Douglas Fir (.4. Douglassii, Lindl.) ; Spruce Fir
(A. Menziesii); Hemlock Fir (A. Canadensis or Mertensi
"Red Cedar" (Thuja gigantea, Nutt:) "Yellow Cedar" or
Cypress (Cupressus thyotdes, Doug.) &c, : all of gigantic growth.
Undergrowth : various shrubby Vaccinia ; the "Sallal" (Gual-
theria shallon) ; varieties of Rubus, Ribes, &c. In rare positions low specimens of Mountain Ash [Sorbus aucuparia) and
Service-berry (Amelanchier).
(2). Along the vicinity of the 49th parallel as far as the Rocky
Mountains. I here adopt the list of Dr. Lyall of the British
Boundary Commission, reported in the proceedings of the
Linnaean Society (Botany, vol. VII.) including my own occasional and purely unprofessional notes in brackets, thus f 1.
(a). In the vicinity of Victoria and Esquimault, Vancouver
Island :—Pinus contorta, Doug.; Taxus baccata [brevifolia,
Doug.] ; Abies Douglasii, Lindl.; A. Menziesii, Lamb ; Thuja
gigantea, Nutt. ; Cerasus mollis, Doug. ; Arbutus Menziesii,
Pursh [laurifolia, Doug ?]; Quercus Garryana, Doug, fin
a pamphlet recently sent to me by Dr. Robert Brown (Campster),
of Edinburgh, he describes a second variety of Oak nearly
allied to that mentioned, which, after Sir James Douglas, K.C.B.,
the late Governor, he calls Q. Jacobi. I may here mention
that the oak, which is common in the north-east parts of Van-
* To the vast mineral riches of certain Territories south of the
Boundary Line, I make no allusion, regarding these as entirely
•beyond my ken. 15
■couver and the adjacent Islands, is not found in any part of the
mainland of British Columbia.* The Oak (Q. Garryana.) is
common on the lower parts of the Columbia River somewhat remote from the ocean; ceasing abruptly at the Dalles of the Was-
copum, above which there are none]. Species of Acer, Betula,
Alnus and Salix are plentiful. Among the common shrubs are
Mahonia, Ceanothus, Nuttalia, Spirosa, Rosa, Ribes, Vaccinium,
Salix, Gaultheria, &e. Among the most conspicuous flowering
plants in the early part of the season are several species of
Ranunculus, of Claytonia, of Potentilla, and Saxifraga;
Plectritis congesta, Collonia gracilis, Gollirisia violacea, Dode-
catheon Meadia, species of Fritillaria and Trillium, Camassia
esculenta (Scilla esculenta, of Douglas). &c.
(b.) Along the lower Fraser : the several firs mentioned as
found on the north-west coast, with also Thuja gigantea [but
not Cupressus thyoides, which is peculiar to the coast vicinity,
north of 49°, extending far into Alaska.] The circumference of
a Douglas fir measured by Dr. Lyall was nearly thirty feet at
five feet from the ground, and the length of a fallen tree measured, 250 feet, but neither an extraordinary specimen. [The
height frequently exceeds 300 feet.] Circumference of a
Thuja measured 26 feet 9 inches, at six feet from the ground ;
estimated height 250 feet [frequently exceeds this]. Interspersed among the trees mentioned are specimens of Acer macro-
phyllum, Pursh \_Platanus acerifolia, of Douglas ?] sometimes
attaining a height estimated at 150 feet—circumference of one
measured twenty feet. Along with these the Vine-leaved Maple,
Acer circinatum, Pursh ; Dog wood (Cornus Nuttalii) ; Alnus
viridis, &c. ; Betula occidental-is, Hooker, and Populus balsami-
fera of large size. [To these I may add that the White Pine
(P. strobus), of magnificent dimensions, is common towards
the summits of the southern portion of the Coast Range, and
is found also, but of smaller size and more rarely, in the mountains of Vancouver Island. I have also noticed it in abundance and of fine size on the Cascade Range, about the skirts of
Mount Rainier].    The under-shrubs consist chiefly of the fol-
* I noticed about a score of small trees in the portages above Yale
on the Fraser River, as far back as 1847 ; but it is questionable if
any one of these now remains.
J 16
lowing : Mahonia, two species; Acer glabrum; Spirosa,.
several species; " Sallal" (Gaultheria shallon, of Pursh);.
Rubus and Ribes, several species ; Lonicera, two species;
Viburnum opulus ; Vaccinium, several species; Panax horridus.
[By this last I conceive to be meant the Sots piquant, or
" Prickly ash," a species of Aralia (?) Common in the damp
vallies of the north-west coast, and re-appearing near the heads
of Peace River and elsewhere along the verge of the Rocky
(a). On tbe Cascade Range: Abies amabilis, Doug, [also
found on the lower lands] ; A. grandis ■ Picea nobilis, Don.
[balsamea, Doug. ?], &c. [In this section are alse noticeable a
fine red-flowering Rhododendron (macrophyllum of Don.) ; two
varieties of Menziesia (often mistaken for Heath) ; and among
the numerous cyperaceous plants and Equisetas the American
Hellebore (Veratrum viride) is very common.]
(d.) [Approaching the Columbia River : As the valleys
assume the Prairie character Pinusponderosa and Larix occiden-
talis become common, as already mentioned (Supra). Dr. Lyall
remarks : | The vegetation here is of a very different character
| from that on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, and
" bears indications of much drier climate. A good many of the
| plants found in this region are strictly local in their distribu-
•• tion. Some of the orders such as Ranunculaceo?, Vacciniaceai,
" Liliacem, &c, of which species are so plentiful in the first
•■ region, have here comparatively few representatives ; whilst
" others, such as Leguminosoz, Onagraceos, Polemoniaceos, &c.
I are more common in this district and give a character to the
" vegetation."
I may mention cursorily that the Dwarf Sunflower (Helian-
thus petriolaris, Nutt.), here very common and characteristic,
extends into British Columbia, as far nearly as Alexandria, the
natives gathering its seed, and also preparing its root for food.
The Flat-leaved Cactus, (Opuntia Missouriensis) too, extends to
a point some miles above Alexandria, and downwards along the
Fraser as far back as the Forks of the Thompson. It is also
found in small patches on dry knolls on certain islands in the
Gulf of Georgia ; but not elsewhere in the northern section
except, as before mentioned, on Peace River, near Dunvegan,
where it was noticed by Mr. Macoun.] 17
Distribution of the more prominent Quadrupeds, dec!;
—Bison (Bos Americanus) :   plains of the Missouri, and  of
the Saskatchewan as low down as Carlton.    Formerly abounded
on the Peace River plains, but now rare and confined to the outskirts.    Not found in British Columbia, save perhaps casually
in parts of the Rocky Mountain frontier, nor on the Columbia
River.    Formerly used to descend the Snake River as far as
Boisde  River, and sometimes even lower.    Will soon be all destroyed I fear.    Caribou or Rein-deer (Cervus tarandus); the
larger variety or  " Rocky Mountain Rein-deer" ; found in all
the mountainous parts of the interior down to a certain latitude.
Along the Rocky Mountains this limit I judge to be about lat;
49° ; on the North-West Coast  Range probably  about  51°.
The smaller variety, classed by Richardson as the Rein-deer of
the Barren Grounds, is confined to the Arctic watershed during
its northward migration (March to the beginning of November) *
frequenting the country around Hudson's Bay, &c, during the
remainder of the year.    The Moose or Elk (C. dices) is found
generally throughout the northern parts of the country, except
the Barren Grounds, and the immediate sea-board of Hudson's
Bay, &c. ;   on the Pacific watershed  along the verge of the
Rocky   Mountains    as   low   as  about   49° ;   on   the  upper
Fraser, and as low down sometimes, but very rarely, as Fort
George.    The Chevreuil or Virginian deer is found along the
Saskatchewan, but  not in the mountainous parts, nor on the
north-west coast, where the " Black Tail,"  (G. macrotis) is
abundant.    The last is not found on the Fraser higher than
Fort George.    The Red-deer or Biche (generally, but of course
erroneously called " the Elk") is found in large herds over a
wide extent of country.    A large variety of C. Elaphus, it is
classed as C. Canadensis, or the Wapiti.    It is common along
the Saskatchewan, Peace River, &c, and was so formerly upon the
middle Fraser, but is now rarely, if ever, seen there.   On Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland very numerous.    It is questionable whether there be any specific difference between these
and those of the prairies.    Bears, Black and Brown,  (Ursus
Americanus) ;   generally  throughout the   country,  except the
immediate Arctic shores, where the Polar Bear appears.   Grizzly
Bear (TJ.ferox) ; plains of the Saskatchewan, &c., southwards;
along the Rocky Mountains and in most parts of British Columbia, except Vancouver Island, and the north-west coast.    Musk
B 18
Ox (Ovibos Moschatvs) ; barren grounds of the Arctic Ocean.
Probably frequents a portion of the Arctic slope of Alaska.
Not found elsewhere. Lynx of two varieties, the spotted and
the grey; the former confined to the lower country, the latter to
the interior. Racoon (Procyon lotor) ; east of the Rocky
Mountains, as far north as Manitoba ; west-coast as high up as
about 51Q. Mountain Goat (Aplocerus montanus); Precipitous parts of the Rocky Mountains, coast jange, &c; and northwest coast; not found east of the Mackenzie.* Mountain Sheep
or Big-horn (Ovis Montana); along the slopes of the Rocky
Mountains and their offsets. Marmot (Arctomys) ; several
species, including the Rocky Mountain variety or " Siffleur"
(A. pruinosus, Rich'n.) found in the Rocky Mountains, the
Cascade Range and North-West Coast Range. A- black variety
appears to be found about the heads of the Riviere aux Liards,
which I have not noticed elsewhere. Foxes, Red, Black, Cross,
&c, are very generally found except on the north-west coast,
which, owing probably to the humidity of the climate, they do not
appear to frequent. The Arctic or White Fox (Vulpes lagopus)
is confined to the Arctic regions and the shores of Hudson's Bay.
[The Arctic Hare (Lepus variabilis) appears throughout the
interior of the mainland, north of 49°, in moderately elevated
positions; periodically in excessive numbers. A large variety,
more resembling the European Hare, frequents the arid plains
of the Columbia, &c] The Marten (Mustela martes, Rich'n.),
the Pekan or Fisher, and others of the same family, throughout
the woodland regions. The Common Beaver (Fiber Americanus)
and the Musquash (Fiber zibethicus, Rich'n) generally distal-,
buted, except in the Barren Grounds and other similar Arctic
positions. The Carcajou or Wolverine, (Gulo luscus, Cuv.) :
very generally north of 49°. Wolves of divers varieties, Grey,
Black, &c, generally throughout; a pure white variety being
found on the " Barren Grounds." The Common Otter (Lutra
Canadensis) throughout. The Sea Otter (Enhydra marina) is
found only on the Pacific Coast, from California up to the
Kodiak, &c., in which tract the Hair Seal and a large variety
of other Phocidce, are also common ; especially in Alaska, where
the chase of the Fur-Seal has long been systematically regulated.
* These are the animals described to Mackenzie by the Indians as
« White Buffaloes." 19
Birds.-—Exclusively of innumerable migratory birds, from
the Swan and the Eagle down to the Humming Bird (the last
confined to the Pacific slope, where it is found as high, at least,
as 54° 26', and doubtless beyond), the following permanent residents of utility may be noticed: Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus,
Linn.) ; almost everywhere near streams, &c. Dusky Grouse
(Tetras obscurus, Say), dry stony ridges, Vancouver Island, and
mainland inferior north of about 49° on western slope, as high
as the vicinity of Alexandria. Spotted Grouse or " Spruce Partridge" (T. Canadensis, Linn.) ; dry uplands within certain
limits on both sides of the Rocky Mountains. White Grouse
or Ptarmigan (Lagopus albus) ; mountainous parts, Vancouver
Island and northern mainland ; very numerous throughout the
Arctic slopes and Hudson's Bay. Sharp-tailed Grouse (Pedioe-
cetes phasianellus, Linn.) ; throughout the great Prairies ; in
the prairie-valleys of British Columbia, as high as the vicinity of
Alexandria ; and on the Plains of Peace River. Cock of the
Plains or "Sage-Cock," (Centrocercus urophasianus, Bon.);
borders of the Columbia River, from above Okin&gan to the
Dalles of Wasco, and throughout the Wormwood deserts.
Fish.—Trout of many different kinds ; varieties of Carp and
other Cyprinidce ; the Methy or Loche; and many others,
including that Prince of fresh-water fishes the White-fish (Coregonus), are general distributed. The last named (peculiarly a
northern fish) appears to be almost universal in the boreal
regions, even the lakes of the dreary " Barren Grounds" having
their share. Westward of the Rocky Mountains, they are
found as low, at least, as lat. 52^; and probably even somewhat
south of that limit. Two varieties of Sturgeon are found, one
(Acipenser Sturio ?) in the waters of Lake Winnipeg, the other
(A.transmon tanus of Richards) a fish of enormous dimensions,
in the Columbia and the Fraser. Salmon, chiefly of large size,
and of many varieties, ascend all the principal streams between the
Sacramento and Yukon, including both those rivers ; and probably several of the streams discharging into the Arctic Ocean ;
but as before remarked they do not frequent either the Mackenzie
or the Saskatchewan ; nor indeed any of the rivers communicating
with the Hudson's Bay. The Pike (Esox lucius), common to
the eastern waters, is unknown on the western watershed. To
the afyove list may be added, as frequenting the waters of
Manitoba, the Cat-Fish, the Sun-fish, and divers others, some of
which are found elsewhere. 20
Indians.—The Chipewyan race, who for convenience sake
are now classed as the "Dinnee " or ■■ Tinneh" tribes, occupy as
will be seen a very extensive tract.    They have evidently been
great wanderers ; for to them the isolated sept of the Sarcees of
the Saskatchewan owes its *origin;   and a  similar offset, the
Klatskanai (now extinct), not very long ago inhabited the highlands beyond the mouth of the Columbia River, while traces of
the language appear even farther south.    Dinnee means literally
a man, but is sometimes.applied in the plural sense, as Abahto-
dinnee, the Mountain-men, &c. ; and Sir A Mackenzie's interpreters, who were from Peace River, so applied it, calling Nascud-
dinnee those whom we now know as the Nasc-otin, i. e. People
of the Nas-accdh (Mackenzie's " West-road River.")   Generally,
however, the term is pluralized by changing it, eastward of the
Rocky Mountains, into hdnie, westward into otin, as Sik-hanie
(or rather Tsack-hdnie) People of the stones or rocks, &c   Nasc-
otin (as above) :  Chilo-otin, People of the Chitaccoh (River),
&o.    In the Alaska section this affix is changed into Koochin,
having the same obvious  signification.    The TSh-Cully-(otin)
Branch, i. e. " People of the deep" (waters being probably understood)  inhabit   the upper   waters of the Fraser, bounded
southward by the Shewhapmuch (ch guttural) or Sacliss connexion   (Atnah  or  "chin" of Mackenzie).    Eastward of the
Rocky Mountains the Chipewyans are bounded on the east by
the Crees, who pass round the south end of Lake Winnipeg, and
continue round the circuit of Hudson's Bay and through Labrador, to Hudson's  Strait.    Adjoining the Crees, and  following
along the upper Lakes and down the Ottawa River, &c., are the
Algonquins  or Sauteux, called also  Ojibways or Chippeways.
These are merely a branch of the Crees, and talk a dialect of the
same language.    The Assineboines are a branch of the Nadowa-
sis or Sioux, and bound the Crees on the south along the course
of the upper north Saskatchewan ; succeeded on the west by the
Sarcees, the small isolated tribe already noticed.    A few families of Assineboines, abandoning the Prairie habit of the rest,
frequent the heads of the Athabasca, among the "strong woods"
(whence their distinctive appellation) and are now intercepted
by the neighbouring tribes from the remainder of their race.
The Black-feet, divided into several septs,  as Gros Ventres,
Blood Indians, &c., inhabit the prairie tract along the heads of
the Saskatchewan and Missouri towards the border of the Sioux. 21
Opposite to them, west of the Rocky Mountains, in a small
angle at the heads of the branch of the Columbia, are the Kou-
tananais, a small tribe, numbering in 1848 in all 829 souls.
These are isolated from all the surrounding races, and I have
never been able to trace their connexion. Adjoining them are
the Sacliss (called by the Black-feet " Flatheads") who with
their congeners the Shewhapmuch extend nearly to Alexandria,
meeting the TSh-Cully branch of the Tinneh race as already
mentioned. To the Shewhapmuch the Tah-Cully apply the
same name of " Atnah" (= Stranger Race) ; to their neighbors
wesward Atnah-yore. Mackenzie who descended the Fraser
no lower than the Tah-Cully frontier, and had with him no
interpreters through whom to communicate freely with the few
men of the lower nation whom he there met. He was thus led
to adopt the term " Atnah" as the true name of the tribe—
adding, however, the alternative " Chin" which has in reality
no existence. The late Mr. Geo. Gibbs, shortly before his
death, wrote to enquire the origin of the latter name. To
this enquiry I had no opportunity of replying ; and may now
state that I believe it to have arisen from misapprehension of
the meaning of the Indians while referring to the principal village, or at least that in the most prominent position, at the confluence of the Thompson with the Fraser. This is called
Thlik-um cheen (or-chin), the first two syllables very rapidly pronounced, and the last strongly dwelt upon. To this village the
natives, both above and below, are fond of referring, apparently
with some pride, as the chief seat of their section of the general tribe : and the conspicuous syllable dwelling on the ear of
Mackenzie, led him, I imagine, to suppose it was the name
given by themselves to their nation. I notice that the late
Mr. Simon Fraser, who with Mr. John Stuart first descended the river, now named after the former, in 1808, and a M.S.
copy of whose Journal is now before me, was partially misled
in the same probable way. He gives the name of the village
(but not as of the people) as Cwm-chin. The whole ordinary
nomenclature of Indian tribes, however, such connexion invariably giving a different, and der-sive name, originating in some
imputed or imagined characteristic (e. g. Blackfoot, Flathead,
Slave, &c.), requires to be received with much caution. For
this reason, and to avoid the endless confusion of names, I have
along the north-west coast reduced them in the map ag much as 22
possible to classes, on the principle of the " Tinneh." Thus
along Paget Sound,&c, I comprise the numerous homish, amish,
and wdmish, all modifications of the same general affix, under
one head as the dmish tribes ; and along the west coast of Vancouver's Island, and the adjacent coast southward, the dht tribes,
this being the general affix, Nootk-dht, Clayoqu-dht, &c Northward of these the Hdi-dah occupy Queen Charlotte's Islands and
the Prince of Wales portion of the Archipelago. On the mainland north of Vancouver's Island and in the Islands of Milbank
Sound and connected waters, is the Hailtza connexion; succeeded
northward by the Chimseyan tribes, who occupy as far as
Observatory Inlet, near the southern line of Alaska Territory.
Thence the Thlinkitt connexion to beyond the Tali-Co River,
who are succeeded by the tribe called by the Russians " Kaliu-
ches" ; and finally, beyond Cook's Inlet, the Esquimaux.    


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