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Alaska boundary question. Copy of a report of a committee of the Honourable the Executive Council of… British Columbia. Executive Council 1885

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Array Alaska Boundaey Question. 451
Copy of a Report of a Committee ofthe Honourable the Executive Council of British Columbia,
on the question ofthe Boundary between Canada and Alaska.
There are two points submitted for consideration:—
First—Whether it is desirable that steps should be taken to have the Boundary denned
between Canada and the United States Possessions in Alaska.
Second—A Requisition for Information in the possession of the Government of British
Columbia on the subject, or that can be obtained.
As to the first—
For many reasons, apart from the national object of avoiding grounds of dispute between
Canada and the United States, it is desirable, as affecting British Columbia particularly and
the Dominion incidentally, that the boundary line referred to should be settled as soon as
Alaska was purchased from Russia by the United States, on the 13th March, 1867, for
$7,200,000. At that time its present importance was not exactly .understood or appreciated.
Its lately discovered sources of wealth in the seal fur trade, deep sea and river fisheries, gold
and other mining, and great extent of internal navigation by means of the large rivers Yucon
and Porcupine, have added greatly to its importance, and are tending to increase, in a proportionate degree, the value and importance of the adjoining territory, belonging to British
Columbia and the Dominion.
The Stikine River, running into British Columbia, communicating with Dease Lake and
River, and ultimately with the Peace and Mackenzie Rivers and the surrounding North-West
Territory, has its outlet in American Territory. The navigation of the Stikine, for purposes
of commerce, was reserved to both countries by the Treaty of Washington, 1871.
In 1873, gold was discovered in the Cassiar District, about the upper waters of the
Stikine, Dease Lake and River, and the other streams in that vicinity. In 1874, trade rapidly
developed itself. A mining population flowed in, and supplies of valuable goods and merchant
dize were required. In 1876, the volume of trade amounted to about $350,000, and the duties
paid to the Dominion Revenue, at Victoria and Glenora, on goods consumed in the Cassiar
District, amounted to between $35,000 and $40,000.
Returns to 1880 show a somewhat fluctuating trade, as is common to all mining centres,
but the average taken annually is still of considerable amount, namely, from 1877 to 1880,
from $290,000 to $215,000, and from 1880 to 1884, diminishing on the Stikine, but so
increasing along the coast as to keep the average at the same point.
Thus, apart from all considerations as to the future value of this northern ^ portion of
British Columbia, when the advancing progress of settlement from the eastern sections of the
Dominion shall have reached it, we have at present an existing annual trade of upwards of
$300,000, yielding to the Dominion Revenue per annum $35,000 or $40,000.
This trade is seriously jeopardized by the unsettled nature of the question, that is the
uncertainty of the boundary line—not that there is the slightest uncertainty where it is to be
found, but that it has not been laid down territorially, and locally defined between the two
As illustrating this danger, a short statement of facts will be useful:—
The entrance to the Stikine River is within American territory. The American Port of
Entry at its mouth is Fort Wrangel. There all goods intended for the interior have to be
transshipped, or an American officer put on board the British vessel to see that they are not
landed in the American territory in transitu. Every merchant knows that this adds to the
expense and delay of transportation, which expense and delay would be entirely avoided if,
within the British line, a Port of Entry was established, to which sea-going vessels from either
British or foreign ports, with cargoes, could go direct, without breaking bulk, coming in no
way within the purview of tlie coasting trade objections. Within what is here claimed as
undoubted British territory—about 30 miles from the mouth of the river—facilities for establishing such a port exist. |lf Alaska. Boundary Question. 1885
Captain Irving, the present manager of the Canadian Pacific Steamboat and Navigation
Company, an experienced and able navigator on this coast, who navigated the Stikine for two
years when business commenced in that district in 1873-74, states that the depth of water from
the mouth of the river to Buck's, 30 miles up, is from 6 to 8 feet at low water, easily navigable
for steamers drawing less than six feet, thus affording,on the river an available British port,
to which goods from Victoria and the other ports of British Columbia could, be forwarded
without transshipment, and under the Treaty with free navigation for purposes of commerce,
avoiding all question of expense, delay, or irritation with the American authorities at Fort
Wrangel. Captain Irving was himself subjected to the most arbitrary and inexcusable imposition by the Custom House officers at Port Wrangel, resulting in the illegal seizure of his
steamer and the loss of several thousand dollars, for which he had ultimately to seek redress in
the Courts of the United. States.
At this place, called Buck's, 30 miles up the river, in 1876, a French Canadian, named
Choquette, carried on a very large trade with the Indians of the neighbourhood, who, from old
associations with the Hudson's Bav Cornpairv, preferred dealing in British goods. The extent
of Ghoquette's business may be estimated from the fact that from one firm alone in Victoria
his purchases amounted to $25,000 annually, and his sales several times in one day alone to a
single Indian would amount to $1,200 in blankets, by way of-barter—a blanket, from the old
Hudson's Bay Company's custom, being a unit of value.
It was the policy of the American authorities to divert this trade to the American markets,
and, in October, 1876, Choquette was served with an official notification from the Custom
House authorities in Alaska to remove from his place of business, or pay American duties on
his stock, giving him until the spring of 1877 to obey.
To see more immediately the application of this circumstance, it is to be mentioned that,
in 1875, to avoid difficulties likely to arise from this undefined boundary, it had been agreed
between the Custom House authorities of the United States at Alaska and the Dominion
authorites of British Columbia, but without any direction or sanction from the Dominion
Government, to establish, pending or until a final settlement, a conventional line, crossing the
river about two miles below "Buck's," which, up to that time,' had been recognized as admittedly within British territory; and in the vicinity, not far from Buck's, Mr. Hamley, the
Collector of Customs for British Columbia, had stationed a revenue officer, Mr. Hunter, to
collect the Dominion duties.
Finding, after a short time that, in so extremely isolated a position, it would not be safe
for a revenue officer with moneys collected to remain, or reasonably concluding so from the
reputation of the Indians and the dangerous characters resorting to the mines, Mr. Hamley
deemed it prudent to remove his officer to Glenora, the head of boat navigation on the river,
where a vigorous settlement had sprung up, and where the duties collected in the seasons of
1875 and 1876, extending from June to September, amounted to nearly $10,000.
In making this removal, Mr. Hamley did it for the protection of the public funds and the
safety of the public officer. It is presumed, however, that the local American authorities
regarded it, or assumed to regard it, as an admission or abandonment, and immediately claimed
the boundary line to be 30 or 40 miles further up the river, or about 60 from its mouth, and
accordingly served Choquette with the notification above-mentioned.
It is proper here to observe that Choquette's case was, by letter dated the 16th October,
1876, communicated by Mr. Justice Gray, the Judge of the Supreme Court who.had been
holding the Assizes at Cassiar, to the Dominion Government, and an arrangement was made
between Canada and the United States by which the threatened action of the American
authorities at Alaska was stayed.
Thus we have the fact, not only that there is a good trade on the Stikine, but that there
are facilities for preserving and extending that trade within the power of the Dominion
Government, while there is danger of losing it by delay in effecting a settlement of the dispute
as to the boundary.
Other important considerations are also involved, which may have to form the subject of
negotiation, rather than the demand of right.
Under the Treaty of Washington, in 1871, it was questioned whether the right of navigation of the Stikine had not been narrowed.
By the Convention of 1825, between Russia and Great Britain, in force at the time of the
transfer to the United States, there was no express limitation as to the purpose for which the
navigation was to be used, 48 Vu;. Alaska Botndary Qukstim.v 4.").°,
By the Treaty of Washington, made since the transfer, it was expressly limited to coi
merce. This raised the question as to the right of the Dominion Government to transport
criminals arrested or convicted through that part of the Stikine undoubtedly within American
territory; and, after much correspondence and negotiation with Her Majesty's Government
and the United States, it was finally conceded the Dominion Government had no such right.
Practically, the absence of such right abolishes all but the death penalty in that north-eastern
portion of British Columbia.
The state of the country does not admit of the building and maintaining there penitentiaries or prisons, and the transport of convicted felons through 600 miles of unbroken
wilderness is practically almost an impossibility.
This leaves that district in a most unsatisfactory and anomalous position as to the
administration of justice.
In another respect also, in view of any ulterior extension of the Canadian Pacific Railway,
or its branches, to an ocean terminus at Port Simpson, the settlement of this boundary line is
important, both in a strategical point of view, as affecting the sea approaches to the port, and
in an economical point of view, as affecting the collection of revenue. These objections will
more clearly appear when the second or topographical branch of the case submitted is under
By delay, erroneous impressions also, as to the true terms of the Treaty, become engrained
in the public mind, which increase the difficulty of obtaining a settlement.
Already large numbers of the residents of Alaska, though only temporary, entirely ignore
one of the most marked elements governing the line, and convert a negative direction into an
affirmative right. For instance, when the line is directed to be along the summit of the coast
range of mountains, but in no case to exceed 10 marine leagues from the coast, the expression is
converted into an affirmative direction that it is to be everywhere 10 leagues from the coast,
though the summits of the coast range might not be more than 10 or 15 miles.
This idea, by degrees, is taken to be the Treaty, and has to be removed with much labour
before the public sanction would be given to any other line. How unjust this would be to
British Columbia will be shown hereafter.
These and many other reasons are conclusive that it is essential for the welfare of British
Columbia that the true boundary line, or some clear line of demarcation, should be at once
agreed upon or settled between the two countries,
Taking up the second branch of the case, as to where the boundary line should be, it may
be at once assumed, as an axiom, that unless by sanction of the contracting parties or their
representatives, it must be in accordance with the line laid down in the Convention between
Great Britain and Russia in 1825. There has been no agreement between Great Britain and
the United States relative thereto, and the latter succeeded only to what Russia had.
We have then first to see the terms and language used by the contracting parties in 1825.
2. The initial or starting point then agreed upon.
3. The course from that point directed to be followed.
4. The effect of following that course as to compliance or non-compliance with the topo
graphical features of the country pointed out in the Treaty as objects for guidance.
5. Whether the line claimed by British Columbia does not in every respect coincide with
the terms and language used by the contracting parties'?
6. Whether the line claimed or alleged to be claimed by the United States authorities is
not, in every essential particular, a departure from such terms and language?
The first point to be determined is—What were the exact terms and language used by
the Convention between Great Britain and Russia in 18251?
In McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary (edited by Henry Vethake, L. L. D., Professor of
the University of Pennsylvania, published at Philadelphia in 1852) will be found the full text
of the Convention, signed by Stratford Canning, Nesselrode, DePoleticas.
The line is there thus described:—
"3. The line of demarcation between the Possessions of the High Contracting Parties
" upon the coast of the continent and the islands of America to the north-west shall be drawn
" in the manner following:—
" Commencing from the southernmost point of the Island called Prince of Wales Island,
" which point lies in the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes North Latitude, and between the
% 131st and 133rd degrees of West Longitude (Meridian of Greenwich), the said line shall
" ascend to the north along the channel as far as the point of the continent where it strikes the 454 Alaska Boundary Question. 188;
" 56th degree of North Latitude; from the last mentioned point the line of demarcation shall
''''follow the summit of the mountains situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of inter-
I section of the 141st degree of West Longitude (of the same meridian); and finally from the
" said point of intersection of the said meridian line of the 141st degree in its prolongation as
u far as the Frozen Ocean, shall form the limit between the Russian and British Possessions
" on the Continent of America to the North-West."
In Hertslet's Collection of Treaties (volume 3) will also be found the text. It is identically the same, except that in the line "shall ascend to the north along the channel" it adds the
words "called the Portland Channel."
Wheaton—the American writer on International Law, 6th edition, edited by Wm. Beach
Lawrence, published at Boston in 1855—does not include these latter words as part of the
original instrument, but inserts them in his text and adds the words "Eastward to the Great
Inlet in the Continent called Portland Channel," which Hertslet does not use.
In giving his details of this Convention or Treaty as he calls it, at page 224, after stating
that it was signed at St. Petersburg, February 28th, 1825, and established "a permanent
' Boundary between the territories respectively claimed by them (e. g., Great Britain and
- Russia) on the Continent and Islands of North Western America," Wheaton says "By the
' 3rd and 4th Articles it was agreed that the line of demarcation between the Possessions of
1 the high contracting parties upon the Coast of the Continent and the Islands of America to
1 the Worth- West should be drawn from the southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island in
' Latitude 54° 40' Eastward to the great Inlet in the Continent called Portland Channel, and
' along the middle of that Inlet to 56° of Latitude, whence it should follow the summit of the
' mountains bordering the Coast within ten leagues North Westward to Mount St. Elias, and
, thence North in the course of the 141st meridian West'from Greenwich to the Frozen Ocean,
'which line shall form the limit between the Russian and the British Possessions in the
' Continent of America to the North-West."
In this summary given by Wheaton, there is a striking difference from both McCulloch
and Hertslet.     He not only leaves out the Longitude, but he interpolates the word Eastward.
At page 227, referring to this subject, he lays down a rule which will materially aid in
determining which of the three is right—viz., that "in the construction of an Instrument of
" whatever kind, it should be so construed, if possible, as that every part may stand."
Suffice it for the present to say, that under this rule, in the application of his delineation
to the geographical and topographical features of the country, it fails in almost every particular.
Yet the features of the country must have been known to the parties who framed the
Convention, or the language given by McCulloch as descriptive of it could not have been used.
Not the slightest inference is to be drawn, or any reflection upon the motives of the
writers thus differing.
At that time the dispute was between Great Britain and Russia. It was not until forty
years after that the United States became interested in the question. These very differences,
however, enable us to come to an accuracy of conclusion.
In this same Convention, there is another element of description which, though not
included in the above extract from McCulloch, will have to be referred to, and may to some
extent account for the mixed summary of Wheaton. It is as to the distance of the line from
the coast, and is here quoted:—
" Article 4. With reference to the line of demarcation laid down in the preceding Article,
"it is understood:—
"1. That the Island called Prince of Wales Island shall belong wholly to Russia.
" 2. That where ever the summit of the mountains which extend in a direction parallel to
"the Coast from the 56th degree of North Latitude to the point of intersection of the 141st
"degree of West Longitude shall prove to be at a distance of more than 10 marine leagues
" from the Ocean, the limit between the British possessions and the line of Coast which is to
" belong to Russia as above-mentioned shall be formed by a line parallel to the windings of the
" Coast, and which shall never exceed the distance of 10 marine leagues therefrom"
The original of this Convention must be found either in the archives at London or St.
Petersburg, and may yet have to be referred to. In the new edition of McCulloch, printed at
London in 1859, it is not set out in full, but is declared to be in force by the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Great Britain and Russia, signed at St. Petersburg, January
12th, 1859, the 19th section of which says: "In regard to Commerce and Navigation in the
" Russian possessions on the North-West Coast of America, the Convention concluded at St,
" Petersburg on the 16th February, 1825, shall continue in force." 48 Vic. Alaska Boundary Question. 455
It is a singular circumstance that, in all the negotiations and correspondence with the
United States and the directions by the Dominion Government to its own officers, it has been
assumed throughout that the original Treaty or Convention between Great Britain and Russia
did contain those words "called the Portland Channel," as appears by the Return made to the
Dominion House of Commons on the 23rd of April, 1878, to an Address dated 21st February,
1878, for information on the subject of the boundary line, as connected with the subject of the
escape of one—Martin; United States Customs notification to Choquette; and the contemplated
issuing of a Commission jointly with the United States to run the line, and published in extenso
in the Sessional Papers, pp. 23 to 146, Vol. XL, No. 2, 1878 (125).
The Government of British Columbia contends that this is entirely cm erroneous assumption without authority to sustain it; and that from all the information that Government can
obtain it has reason to believe that those words icitt not be found in the original, or if there, the
term has been misapplied—not as to where the Portland Channel really is, but as to its being
the channel contemplated by the Treaty.
In the earlier versions of the Treaty obtainable in British Columbia, they are not found.
They are not in JlcCuUoctis version, published at Philadelphia in 1852, already quoted.
They are not in the version of the Treaty in " Steel's Shipmasters Assistant." A new
edition published and corrected to the 1st of March, 1837 (just twelve years after the Treaty),
by J. Slikeman, Secretary to the East India and China Association, containing " Information
for Persons connected with Mercantile Affairs, Commercial Treaties, &c." and printed by
Longman & Co., Paternoster Row, London.
They are in Wheaton, published at Boston in 1855, and in the version in Hertslet's Collection of Commercial Treaties, published at London in 1856.
The Government of British Columbia further contends that those words are entirely
inconsistent with the description, terms, and conditions laid down in the Treaty itself as guides
for defining the boundarv. And further, that even if such words are found in the transfer of
the Alaska Territory from Russia to the United States, Great Britain was no party to that
transfer, and can not be affected or deprived of her territorial rights thereby.
Having exhausted the information that can be obtained in British Columbia relative to
the terms and language of the Convention, it becomes our duty to see which description, that
of McCulloch, Hertslet, or Wheaton's tallies most correctly with the geographical and topographical features of the country, and thereby, under Wheaton's rule of construction, carries
with it interned evidence of its being the language of the Convention used by the contracting
An undoubted test of the accuracy of a description relative to land, is its accord with the
territorial features found on the land, and the facility and certainty with which landmarks
may be found, recognized, and identified.
It may with equal correctness be stated that positive territorial landmarks capable of
identification, clearly defined, and existing within the limits and on the spot delineated, cannot
be overridden by the use of words of nomenclature inconsistent with such description and their
existence—words which may have been and perhaps were inadvertently used, or accidentally
misplaced; nor can such identification be superseded by the interpolation of terms, without
which the description requiring such terms would be so inaccurate as to be utterly inapplicable
and inadmissible.
Remembering these rules of construction, we turn to the language of the Convention and
the features of the country, as the latter are delineated on the Admiralty charts and other
maps herewith enclosed.
The initial or starting point is declared to be from the southernmost point of tlie Island
called Prince of Wales; which point lies in 54° 40' X., andbetioeen 131° ancll'S3° West Longitude.
We find that point at Cape de Chacon.
Thence to ascend northerly along the channel until it strikes the continent at 56° N.
Following that instruction we turn northerly from that point, ascend the channel, and
strike the continent at 56° on the N. AV. point of Burrough's Bay.
J- O «/
Thence the summit of the mountains parallel to the coast, at or within ten marine leagues
from the coast, as far as the intersection with 141° W. L.
In like manner, following that course from Burrough's Bay,  we find the summit of the
© O J '
coast range within the distance specified,' and at 19 or 20 miles above the mouth of the Stikine.
Insert the words "Portland Channel" as found in Hertslet, and from the starting point
instead of northerly you have to go east, fully 16,66 marine leagues or 50 nautical miles, before
you turn north, 456 Alaska Boundary; Question. 1885
Again, you cannot ascend the Portland Channel until you strike the continent at 56°,
because the channel terminates before you reach 56°.
Thirdly, you could not from the head of Portland Channel—assuming these Admiralty
surveys are correct—strike the summits of mountains parallel to the coast, because there are
several intervening ranges, and the line would necessarily run far more than ten marine leagues
from the coast—in fact over twenty.
Then with Wheaton's definition you have to insert not only "Portland Channel," but his
word " Eastward," which is not found in either text of the Treaty; and to assume that the
summit of the range of mountains that would be found, where a line running north up the
Portland Channel would strike the continent at 56° would be within ten leagues of the coast,
whereas it is shown by actual measurement on the chart that it must necessarily be more than
twenty marine leagues off. The only possible solution that can Le found for the contention on
behalf of " Portland Channel' is, that in the entrance of this channel is an island called
" Wales Island," the southernmost point of which is in 54° 40' N. L., and from which point a
northerly course would ascend Portland Channel, but which island is not only not in the
longitude specified, but, as already stated, is 50 nautical miles to the east "of"that initial point.
Moreover, it may be observed, that Portland Channel, from its entrance to its head, is so
entirely w-ithin mi continent that by ascending it you could hardly be said to strike the continent.
Whereas the northerly course from the starting point to Burrough's Bay, actually passes
among islands, and does not strike the continent until you reach 56°.
Thus, with reference to McCulloch's version of the Treaty, you reconcile every, word and
term with the geographical and topographical features of the country directed to be your guide;
while to adopt the version of Hertslet or Wheaton, you have to-ignore all—nay, even to
reconcile themselves to themselves, you have to interpolate words which are nowhere to be
found, and which, while suiting one part, are utterly inconsistent with every other part.
As confirmatory of the construction in favour of McCulloch's version, the first subdivision
of the 4th Article of the Convention may also be cited. It there declares that the island called
Prince of Wales Island, shall belong wholly to Russia; a declaration unnecessary if the line was
to go up the Portland Channel.
A most striking illustration of the truth of these views is found in the position of the
coast range of mountains where it crosses the Stikine. That range rises not far from the.tide
waters, and the summit of that range is within 20 miles of the sea. This is proved by the fact
that in following up the valley of the Stikine, the axis of the range is passed at about 19 A
miles from the coast. Up to about this point the Stikine makes a somewhat easterly course
from the sea. Thence rounding ■ the range in question, it takes a more northerly course,
receiving four or five glaciers, which flow in an easterly direction from the summit of the range
into the valley of the Stikine.
Therefore there can be no difficulty in ascertaining the line contemplated by the Convention.
From the head of Portland Channel to reach a distance of even ten marine leagues from
the coast to find the coast range, would render necessary the crossing of at least two inter-
veiling mountain ranges, a circumstance wholly irreconcilable with the Treaty, the head of
that channel being where a protraction of it would strike the 56° parallel, over 20 marine
leagues from the coast.
The survey of Mr, Hunter, C. E., appointed by the Dominion Government to examine and
report, will be found at page 146 of the Sessional Papers 125 above referred to, and conclusively establishes the coast line range of mountains at the crossing of the Stikine to be about
20 miles from the sea, and within 10 marine leagues; and the Russian maps, tracings from which
are enclosed herewith, show, with equal certainty, that both above and below the Stikine the
coast range runs approximately at the same distance down to the 56th parallel, where the line
ascending northerly from the southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island, Cape de Chacon
would strike the continent—an impossibility if the Portland Channel be assumed to be the line.
On this latter point also, as to the position of the coast range below the Stikine down to
Cape Camano, Mr. McKay, an old Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, affords the most
direct personal observation, having on three several occasions coasted the whole distance in
canoes, and confirms, in the strongest manner, the position of tbe coast range as above stated,
and the correctness of the delineation on the Russian maps, and the language of the Treaty in
that particular.
His evidence is in such detail, and is so thoroughly reliable, from his standing and ex-
perience in the country, extending over 40 years, that it is given in full.
" The section of country which lies between the mouth of the Stikine and Cape Camano 48 Vic. Alaska Boundary Question. 457
" is very rugged, consisting of short ranges of mountains which folloio tlie general trend of the
I coast, and which are intersected by numerous deep precipitous gorges.
I These gorges are the outlets of series of more elevated and wider valleys following the
" general direction of the coast ranges and dividing these from the more compact ranges ofthe
" interior.
" The coast ranges rise abruptly from the sea.
O X        */
" The distances of their summits from the sea-shore, may be stated at from fifteen to twenty
" miles. Their general elevation above the level of the sea at from two thousand to four
"■thousand feet.
I The intersecting gorges are short.    The dividing valleys extend in some instances for
OOO O i/
" many miles, containing numerous lakes, discharging rivers of considerable magnitude. As
I dividing tlie coast ranges from those of the interior they form an important feature.
1 The summits or vxiter-sheds ofthe coast ranges can be clearly defined by tracing the fioio
" of the streams and glaciers towards the sea, and towards the dividing valleys above  described."
As further strengthening this position, both at the time of the Treaty and before, there
are a set of ancient French maps, the property of a gentleman in Victoria, in which the
dividing' line between the British and Russian possessions in the vicinity of Prince of Wales
Island, is clearly defined and shown by a coloured delineation, placing the whole of Portland
Channel, and all of the islands (including the large island of Re villa Gigido) up to the channel
leading northerly from the Cape de Chacon, the southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island,
in latitude 54° 40', and longitude 132° west, within the British possessions.
This map was published at Paris in 1815, just after the Restoration, and dedicated to
Monsieur the Comte D'Artois. Under the head of observations, printed thereon, is the
1 Indication des-Materiaux.
' " Amerique Russie (extremite du Nord Ouest), les cotes du Detroit cle Bhering, celle du
Nord du Grand Ocean, y'compris les Iles Aleutiennes, la presqxie 'lie cVAlaska—en a.liant vers
l'Est jusq'au 145° degre' cl a Longitude Occidental sont tires d'une carte en 4feuilles du Nord du
Grand Ocean, publid at St. Petersburg en 1802-r—Les noms des peuplades que se trouvent vers
cette extremite de L. Amerique sont places d'apres les rapports de L. Messrs. Demidoff,
Karschetiff, Bosanoff, &c.j de 1'expedition de Krusentern. Cotes Ouest, Nouveau Norfolk,
Conouailles, Nouvelle Hanover, Nouvelle Georgie, Nouvelle Albion, et Nouvelle Calefornie,
Toutes ces cotes sont tires des cartes des voyage de Vancouver." f
It is not only a presumption that the Russians in using the language they did thoroughly
understood the meaning they intended to convey, but it is a well-known tradition among those
O «/ J J o
who were acquainted with the country many years back, that the language did express the sole
and only object the Russians then had in view.
There had been a combination of the Indians extending all along the coast, from Sitka
down to Prince of Wales Island, by which Sitka in early years, after the Russian settlement,
had been taken and burnt.
After its recovery the Russians wished to be placed in a position by which they could
command this combination of the Indian tribes, and for this reason hi their division and
settlement with Great Britain, they secured the narrow belt alone/ the coast, culminating with
the summit of the Coast Range, beyond which the Maritime Indians were not wont to pass.
It was not land the Russians desired ud this Convention placed them in a position to
punish the Indians without any infraction of the rights of Great Britain.
Whether this tradition be true or not, at any rate, it was well calculated to accomplish
what it is alleged it was intended to do.
To some degree as corroborating this view, we find it mentioned by a traveller on the
Stikine in 1876, that as a general rule the sea-coast Indians do not" go into the interior. The
Taltan Indians, a fine river tribe—honest and  industrious and  priding themselves  on their
* Sources of Information.
Russian America (the extremity of the North West), the Ccasts of Behring's Straits, that of the north
of the Great Ocean and the Aleutian Islands comprised therein, the Peninsula of Alaska, as far East as the
145° of West Longitude, are drawn from a map, in four sheets, of the North of the Great Ocean, published
at St. Petersburg in 1802. The names of the tribes who inhabit this extreme end of America are taken
from the Reports of Messrs. Demidoff, Karscheloff, Bosanoff, &c, of the Expedition of Krusentern.
The West Coast, New Norfolk, New Cornwall, New Hanover, New Georgia, New Albion, and New
California.   All those Coasts ar j drawn from maps of the Voyage of Vancouver,
a. -j     o 458 Alaska Boundary Question. i88S
good name,—claim the lordship of the river, and refuse to permit the Naas or sea-coast Indians
to come into the interior.
Of course an Indian's permit depends upon his power to enforce what he forbids, and
there must have been occasions when the sea-coast Indians penetrated into the interior, but it
can well be understood that this known hostility of the inner and outer Indians would induce
the Russians to believe the narrow belt along the coast sufficient for their purpose.
Thus we have the language of the Treaty, as Mr. McCulloch gives it, coinciding not only
with the topographical features of the country, but accomplishing the object which tradition
assigns as the reason for its adoption.
The Government of British Columbia contends that any recognition of the words
" Portland Channel," as being in the Treaty, was a grave mistake, and most injurious to the
interests of British Columbia.
Apart from all future consideration, it is to be observed that between the two lines
contended for—that is a line running from the head of Portland Channel and a line from Cape
de Chacon northerly to the point of contact on Lynn Canal, where both must converge
to strike the 141st parallel—there are upwards of 5,000,000 acres of land, not of a frozen
waste, but of land abounding in excellent harbours, extensive fisheries, abundant timber and
valuable mines; and though not capable of any great agricultural development, yet capable of
producing good pasturage and fair vegetable crops.
The Government of British Columbia would observe that at the time of transfer by
Russia to the United States, in 1867, this land was within the territorial limits, and a part of
British Columbia, and when British Columbia went into the Confederation in July, 1871, was
taken with it as a part of that Province.
The question of the correct Boundary Line had never been raised up to. that time; nor
had it been examined into.
They regret, however, that notwithstanding the fact that this difference of construction of
the Treaty or Convention of 1825 was brought to the notice of the Dominion Government as
far back as 1877, yet that the map of the Dominion published in 1880, under and by authority
of the Dominion Government, contains this erroneous Boundary delineated thereon, giving it
in reality the strongest sanction it had yet received from any British authority. '
The Government of British Columbia deems it necessary to call the marked attention of
the Dominion Government to this circumstance, as they would find it difficult to defend to the
people of British Columbia the alienation of so large and valuable a portion of the Province
without great consideration and equivalent compensation.
It is not incumbent on the Government of British Columbia to explain how it is that,
as before observed, in the negotiations and directions to its own officers, it has been assumed
by the Dominion Government that the term " Portland Channel" was an integral part of the
Convention. An examination of the maps, of the Treaties, and of the features of the
country, show no sufficient authority; but it ought not to escape remark, that the public
documents laid before the Dominion Parliament are calculated to mislead.
By reference to the Sessional Papers No. 125, Vol. XL, No. 2, 1878, before cited on this
subject, it appears at page 33, that in compliance with a request from Captain Cameron, R. A.,
Her Majesty's Boundary Commissioner, addressed to the Minister of the Interior, dated 9th
April, 1874, for a copy of that portion of Vancouver's history of his voyages which described
the passage named " Portland Channel," the Surveyor-General, under date of 25th April, in
acknowledging his request for information " in connection with original records illustrating the
Portland Channel and country in the vicinity thereof, on the Alaska coast," transmits an
eatract from a French history of Vancouver's voyages, "embodying," as he alleges, " all the
remarks made by Vancouver respecting the Portland Channel."
v X O
On an examination of the extract it would appear to be one connected narrative, limited
to Portland Channel only, but by reference to Vancouver's own work, published by Stockdale,
in London, in 1801, this extract is found to be not one continued narrative, but a succession
of selected paragraphs from intervening passages; and between the 7th and 8th paragraphs,
—the former ending "miles in circuit," the latter commencing "our course"—there is an
entire ignoring of 'nearly fifty pages, in which Vancouver describes his personal navigation
round the large Island of Revilla Gigiclo; his discovery of Burrough's Bay, its exact position
on the 56th parallel; his reference to Cape Camanos; the course southerly down the channel
towards Cape de Chacon; his rounding Cape Northumberland, marking his distance from Cape
de Chacon as the west point of entrance into this arm of the sea, as at 8 or 9 leagues, thence
on to Cape Fox, 5 leagues further; his naming the Island of Revilla Gigido and Behm's Channel 48 Vic. Alaskv Boundary Question. 459
after distinguished Russian officers, whose courtesies he took that opportunity of acknowledging; and his subsequent course on to the entrance of the Channel, which he had before examined
as part of the continent, and which he then, for the first time, called " Portland Channel,"
in honour of the Bentinck family.
Considering that Captain Cameron's object was to get information that would guide him
in determining what was the Boundary under the Russian Convention of 1825 " between the
1 possessions upon the coast and the islands, of America to the north-west," the omission
of any reference to that navigation of Vancouver, which showed that a northerly course up
the Channel from Cape de Chacon to Burrough's Bay would pass and form a line between the
islands and strike the continent at 56° was, if accidental, certainly unfortunate.
He had navigated from that part of the continent which formed the entrance to what he
subsequently called Portland Channel; had gone northerly, reached and named Burrough's Bay;
had fixed its termination on the continent at 56° 1-J"; had thence descended, southerly, the
Channel, round the Island of Revilla Gigido, until he came down between Cape de Chacon and
Cape Northumberland—proving conclusively that the intervening lands between his point of
departure and Cape de Chacon were Islands, and that the features of the country were such as
to coincide exactly with the terms subsequently used in the Russian Convention of 1825, and
leaving no doubt that those terms were taken from and formed upon his narrative.
The whole of this narrative is found in Chap. 5, July and August, 1793, the same chapter
from which the extract is taken, and in which Vancouver shews the head of Portland Channel
terminates, " in low marshy ground, in latitude 55° 45'," and satisfies himself that it was within
the continent, as it undoubtedly is.
But beyond even this Chap. 5, and as if to remove any possible inference from the fact
that the small island in the entrance of Portland Channel, called Wales Island, could have
been meant by the expression " Prince of Wales Island," used in the Convention, we find that
in the early part of the next Chapter 6, a continuation of this same narrative of September,
1793, Vancouver assigns his reason for that name. He says:—" The west point of Observatory
" Inlet, I distinguish by calling it Point Wales, after my esteemed friend Mr. Wales, of
" Christ's Hospital," and in the subsequent Chap. 7, September, 1793, of the same narrative, after
naming the different straits and sounds after "members of the Royal Family, he says, speaking
of the Duke of Clarence Strait, which divides the Prince of Wales Island from Revilla Gigido
Island and the islands to the northward as far as Port Protection, and thence southerly and
westerly to Cape Decision, he says, it is bounded on the eastern side by the Duke of York's
Islands, part of the continent about Cape Cam anos and the Isles de Gravina. " Its western
" shore is an extensive tract of land which (though not visibly so to us) I have reason to believe
I is much broken and divided by water, forming as it were a distinct body in the Great Archi-
" pelago.    This I have honoured with the name of the Prince of Wales' Archipelago."
Thus, in the use of the term "southernmost point of Prince of Wales' Island," at the
time of the Convention, there could be no possible confusion of places in the minds of the
Russian diplomatists.
Bearing in mind that " Observatory Inlet" and " Wales Island" are integral parts of the
Portland Channel, it is inconceivable how a Public Dominion Officer, when asked for information relative to that channel, for a particular designated purpose, could have omitted all
reference to evidence so material.
The question that Captain Cameron had to solve was the location of the boundary under
the Convention—what features of the land and water would accord with the terms therein used.
It was not the question where Portland Channel was, or whether Vancouver had visited it.
That was not disputed. The selection from his narrative, as given and translated, in no way
tended to the solution of the difficulty, and as information to the House of Commons was, as
to the point to be covered, worthless, if not misleading.
It is this inaccuracy of information which has hitherto proved so disastrous to British
Columbia, which gave away San Juan Island, and placed the command of the capital of the
Province and the navigation of its interior waters within the power of a foreign country.
The Government of British Columbia therefore again urges, in the strongest manner, that
it be in no way—as it hitherto has been—assumed by the Dominion Government, that the
term "Portland Channel" forms any part of the original Convention of 1825, between Great
Britain and Russia.
To recapitulate—
1st. The words " Portland Channel" and " Eastward," in connection with the line of 460
Alaska Boundary7- Question
demarcation between the possessions of Great Britain and Russia, are not found in the earlier
versions of the Convention or Treaty of 1825.
2nd. That in the language found in those earlier versions there is nothing ambiguous, no
expression which has to be added to, or tortured from its ordinary and natural construction,
to convey a clear and definite meaning.
3rd. That in its application, the language of those earlier versions complies with the
geographical and topographical features of the country, as proved by the best charts and maps
existing at the time the Convention was made, and by the actual examination of the coast and
mountain ranges at the present time.
4th. That if the words " Portland Channel' be admitted into the language of the Treaty,
it is impossible to reconcile a line drawn from the initial point, as indicated by the latitude and
longitude and local definition specified in the Treaty, to and up the Portland Channel, with
a single one of the topographical features pointed out as guides to govern the line.
5th. That the word " Eastward," assumed by Wheaton to be therein, or necessary for
understanding it, is an entire departure, not only from the text, and the courses and mountain
ranges described, but is an admission, that, without the interpolation of that word, it is not
possible in any way, under the Terms of the Treaty, even to approach the Portland Channel.
6th. That the assumed line laid down on some of the modern maps and charts as passing
through Portland Channel, was not laid down, acquiesced in, or sanctioned, so far as can be
ascertained in British Columbia, by any competent authority, before the transfer of Alaska
to the United States, and has, from the first attempt of the United States to exercise any
authority, based upon the extension of that line within the territory claimed by British
Columbia, been disputed by the Dominion and by British Columbia.
7th. That the map of the Dominion, published by authority of the Dominion Government
in 1880, on which the line through Portland Channel is laid down, can have no legal effect in
depriving the Province of British Columbia of the large extent of territory, lying between the
true line defined by the Convention and the said assumed line, the said last named line having
been placed thereon through inadvertence, and being of no validity, as without sanction or
authority from the Treaty-making powers—Great Britain and the United States,—without
whose'action no such international boundary could be agreed upon.
8th. That the delineation on the Frencn map
ve referred to, is conclusive -that, among
the most civilized nations of Europe, Portland Channel and the islands to the westward thereof,
as far as a line ascending northerly up the channel from Cape de Chacon would strike the con
tinent at the 56° of latitude, were, upon the strength of Russian authorities, recognized as
within the possessions of Great Britain in 1815, and is in singular accord with the definition
in the Convention of 1825 by Russia, as to where the line of demarcation would be found.
9th. That if such words are found in the transfer from Russia to the United States, Great
Britain, not having been a party thereto, is in no way bound thereby, and the Dominion of
Canada and the Province of British Columbia cannot be legally deprived of their territory by
such act;
10th. That there has been no lapse of time, no user, or acquiescence by any of the parties
to the Convention of 1825, or their representatives, that can in any way justify a forced
departure from the line of demarcation defined by the Convention.
llth. That British Columbia is unwilling to assent to any such departure without the
gravest considerations.
The following are the charts and tracings referred to in the foregoing observations:--
No. 1. Chart.—South-west Coast of Alaska and Alexander Bay: from British Admiralty
Charts, 1865, corrected by officers of United States ships " Saginaw" and "Jamestown," 1869
and 1880, with the two lines delineated thereon in red.
IvTo. 2.—Admiralty Chart—Port Simpson to Cross Sound—with the two lines delineated
thereon in red.
]^fo. 3.—Tracing from Russian Chart of 1849, shewing the coast range of mountains, with
letters in red A, B, C, D,—A B indicating Cape de Chacon and Burroughs Bay, C to D
Portland Channel, with the two lines thereon in red.
No. 4.—Tracing from French Map of 1815, dedicated to Monsieur le Comte D'Artois,
shewing, by coloured delineations, the dividing line at that time between the Russian and
British possessions on the North-west Coast of America! 48 Vic.
Correspondence—Marble Canyon Hoad.
To an Order of the House for copies of all telegrams, correspondence, and other
papers in connection with the construction of a sleigh road through the Marble
Provincial Secretary's Office,
llth February, 1885,
Fr ovine i c ii Secretary.
Victoria, B. C,
llth October, 1883.
Sir,—I have the honour to instruct you to make an instrumental survey of a route for a
waggon road to connect the Lillooet-Clinton R,oad with the Main Trunk Road, via Marble
Canyon. You will mark salient points with large stakes, numbered consecutively, and make
full notes of the necessary grading, bridging, &c, <fec, required for the proper construction of
a waggon road between said stakes; also give an estimate of the probable cost of constructing
a road, with light gradients, having a carriage-way eighteen feet wide, based up'on local prices.
I have, <ke.,
Wm. Allan, C E., (Signed)        W. S. Gore,
Clinton, B. C. Stcrveyor-General.
Victoria, B. C,
23rd August, 1884.
Sir,—By direction, I have the honour to enclose herewith a copy of an advertisement
inviting tenders for the construction of a sleigh road, vid Marble Canyon and Hat Creek, for
your information.
I have, &c,
F. Soues, Esq., Government Agent, (Signed)        S. Phipps.
Clinton, B. C.
To Robert Carson,
Attorney-General's Office,
Victoria, 18th August, 1884.
Construction Marble Canyon waggon road impracticable at present.
Propose constructing sleigh road, which, with frozen lakes, can be used during winter
months, and be eventually made waggon read.
Consult neighbours concerning feasibility of scheme, and wire me suggestions'Government
Give copy O'Halloran, (Signed)       A. E. B. Davie. 462
Correspondence—Marble Canyon Roal\
To A. E. B. Davie, Victoria.
Clinton, B. C,
27th August, 1884.
Have seen neighbours about road, all wish to have waggon road built, but consider it too
late to do the work. Was surprised to learn last-night that tenders were called for construction
of sleigh road. Letter by mail explaining views of settlers. Sleigh road would benefit me
very much if built in proper place, but if built where surveyed will benefit no one except
(Signed)        R. Carson.
Pavilion, 25th August, 1884.
Sir,—In reply to your telegram respecting road through Marble Canyon, we, the undersigned settlers of Pavilion and vicinity, are agreed that the waggon road is what we want, but
in the meantime if a sleigh road was opened out on the line for the waggon road, it might be
a benefit to some of us this winter, but as the season is now well advanced, there is scarcely
time to make a sleigh road to be of use this coming winter, it is, therefore, the wish of all
that the waggon road be constructed, and that the work be commenced as soon as possible, and,
furthermore, that it be done by contract. There is a portion of the surveyed route which is
not where it ought to be. We wish that the line for road leave the last crossing of Hat Creek
(at the Rancherie) and go through Morgan's flat, and coming in junction with the Trunk
Road two miles below Cargyle's, instead of as at present surveyed to Cargyle's. This change
will shorten the distance to Cache Creek two miles at least, and will give a better grade and
good sleighing in winter; whereas by taking it the other way it will run through open country
where there will be little or no snow. By making this change the cost of making that portion
will not be more than half what it will cost to make the same distance towards Cargyle's.
The enclosed sketch will give you a fair idea of the unreasonableness of the line as at present
As the opening of this road is intended principally for the settlers of this vicinity, the
Government therefore are deserving of censure in not notifying us of their intention of sending
a surveyor to survey the route. We ought certainly to have had notice, in order that one of
our number could have gone with Mr. Allan, the Surveyor, and selected the best route. We
can see no reason why the line was located to Cargyle's, unless it was through the influence of
our junior representative, Mr. Edward Allen.
A. E. B. Davie, Esq.,
C. O'Halloran,
A. McDonald,
John Currie,
T. J. Cole,
G. R. Tinker,
P. Garrigan,
R. Carson,
Clinton, B. C,
September 2nd, 1884.
To W. S. Gore, Esq.,
Surveyor- Genera I.
Three tenders for Marble  Canyon Road—Thirteen thousand seven hundred and forty
dollars; eight thousand dollars; six thousand four hundred dollars.      Particulars by mail to
(Signed)       F, Soues, 	
48 Vic Correspondence—Marble Canyon Road. 463
Clinton, B. C,
September 2nd, 1884.
Sir,—I have the honour to enclose herewith three tenders received by me to-day for the
construction of a sleigh road through Marble Canyon.
In the event of one being accepted by the Government, I would suggest that the following
be put in the contract, the matter fully explained and understood by the contractor:—" That
all timber used in the construction of bridges, culverts, and cribbing, must be peeled, and the
dimensions of stringers, &c, given."
To the best of my recollection available timber on the line of road is yellow pine, which
commences to decay as soon as it touches ground, with the bark on. In the event of none of
these tenders being accepted, I would suggest that before moving in the matter again, the
outcome of the road at Hat Creek should be gone over again by survey. Perfectly uninterested
parties have assured me that it could be brought out to join Section 3, Main Trunk Road,
about 1-| miles below Hat Creek, cm. a better grade, and at a much less cost in construction.
I have, &c,
W. S. Gore, Esq., (Signed)        F. Soues,
Surveyor-General, Victoria, B. C. Government Agent.
Memo.—The tenders enclosed were as follows:—
Philip Park $ 6,400
Uriah Nelson    13,740
T. C. Clark      8,000
Victoria, B. 0.,
10th September, 1884.
Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 2nd
instant, forwarding tenders received by you for the construction of a sleigh road, vid Marble
Canyon and Hat Creek.
In consequence of views expressed- by a number of the settlers it has been decided not to
proceed with the work this season.
I have, &c,
Fredk. Souesf Esq., (Signed)        W. S. Gore,
Government Agent, Clinton, B. G. Surveyor-General. 464 Correspondent»•: -Acts of 1883-84. 1885
Respecting the Acts passed bj the Legislature of the Province of British Columbia,
during the Session of 1884.
By Command.
Provincial Secretary's Office, JNO. ROBSON,
i, 1885, Provincial Secretary.
The Secretary of State for Canada to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.
Ottawa, 8th April, 1885.
Sir,—I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of your Government, that
the Governor-General has had under consideration in Council the Acts passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia in the Session commencing on the 3rd
day of December, 1883, and ending on the 18th of February, 1884, numbered 1 to 35, inclusively, and that His Excellency has been advised that the power of disallowance be not
exercised with respect to any of the said Acts.
I have at the same time to request that you may be pleased to invite the attention of your
Government to the following:—
Chapter 3, intituled "An Act to Prevent the Immigration of Chinese," was disallowed .by
Order in Council on the 8th day of April last.
The Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, referring to the disallowance of this Act in a despatch to His Excellency dated the 31st of May last, states that Her
Majesty has not been advised to disallow Acts passed in the Australian Colonies restricting
by very severe provisions the immigration or introduction of Chinese, and that Her Majesty's
Government have not held that the relations of the United Kingdom with China require them
to interfere with the Australian legislation on international grounds, and it has been treated as
o o *
a matter of internal administration with which a responsible Government is competent to deal.
Chapter 2, intituled " An Act to Prevent Chinese from Acquiring Crown Lands," makes
it unlawful for the Commissioners of Crown Lands, or any other person, to issue a pre-emption
record of any Crown Lands, or sell any portion thereof, to any Chinese, or to grant authority
under the "Land Act, 1884 " (B. C), to any Chinese to retard or divert any water from the
natural channel of any stream, lake or river in the Province.
Chapter 4, "An Act to regulate the Chinese Population of British Columbia," imposes a
tax of ten dollars on every Chinese over the age of fourteen years, and makes other stringent
and special provisions for the regulation of the Chinese population of the Province.
His Excellency is advised that no question arises under chapter 2 with respect to the
relative authority of the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of British Columbia. A
question may arise as to whether or not the Acts, applying only to a portion and not to the
whole of the population of the Province, are constitutional; but that is a question which, if it
arises, can be most conveniently dealt with by the Courts. A further question will probably
be raised, as to whether or not the Legislature, in the exercise of its powers to impose a direct
tax, can so impose it as to limit or restrict that intercourse among people of different nations
which constitutes one of the elements of commerce; but that question is also one which, His
Excellency is advised, can best be considered and dealt with by a' judicial tribunal, as happened in the case of an Act of the Legislature of British Columbia passed in 1878, for the
better collection of taxes from' Chinese, which was held unconstitutional and the collection of
taxes thereunder restrained by the Courts ; and for these reasons His Excellency is advised to
leave the Acts to their operation.
Chapter 10, "An Act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to gold and other
minerals excepting coal." This Act does not contain the provisions respecting the appointment and jurisdiction of the Gold Commissioners which were contained in 45 Vic, cap. 8, and
on account of which that Act was disallowed, and there is therefore, His Excellency is advised,
no objection to leaving the Act to its operation. I have, <fec,
(Signed)        J. A. Chapleau,
Secretary of State, —
48 Vii
TUH.\   0J?  Rl.\l \ IJE.   K.UOTKNA V   DI STRICT
'o an Order of the House, showing the amoui
Revenue in the Kootenay District, from 1
./ rovmcioL oecretary s Uffice,
2nd March, 1885.
; collected under the several heads of
ie 1st January, 1884, to 31st December,
Pr ovine ia I foecrBtcin./.
Revenue, Kootenay District, during the Year 1884.
Land Sales $ 1,251 75
Land Revenue  45 00
Free Miners' Certificates  710 00
Mining Receipts General  668 50
Licences  1,427 50
Law Stamps  5 00
Registry Fees  6 00
Ferry Rents. _  100 00
Sale of (• overnment Property  65 00
Provincial Revenue Tax  13,563 00
$17,841 75 466 Return of Votes cast for School Trustees, Victoria City.      1885
To an Order of the House, showing the total number of votes cast by males, and the
total number of votes cast by females, at the last election for School Trustees in
the City of Victoria.
.       . JNO. ROBSON,    M
Provincial Secretary.
Provincial Secretary's Office,
16th February, 1885.
Election op School Trustees, Victoria City, June 16th, 1884.
Total number of votes cast by males «..*•-.•.     763
I „ „     females || a .     269
Education Office.
l^th February, 1885.
S. D. Pope,
Superintendent of Education.


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