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Mountain and prairie; a journey from Victoria to Winnipeg, via Peace River Pass. With maps and illustrations Gordon, Daniel M. (Daniel Miner), 1845-1925 1880

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1880. Entered aocoreiing to Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year 18S0,
by Dawson Brothers, in tlie Office of the Minister of Agriculture.
In May, {879, the Canadian Parliament, having decided
that additional information should be obtained regarding
certain proposed routes for the Canadian Pacific Bailway,
resolved that a party be sent to examine the country from
Port Simpson, on the Pacific, across northern British
Columbia and through the Bocky Mountains by way of
Peace River and Pine Biver Passes to the prairies.
Copious information had already been procured regarding several other routes connecting the Prairie Begion
with the Pacific, but the final selection of a Pacific terminus was reserved until this northern route to Port
Simpson had been examined and fuller information had
been obtained regarding the general character, the
resources, and the engineering features of the country. The party appointed to make this examination consisted
of Messrs. H. J. Cambie and H. A. P. Macleod, of the
Canadian Pacific Bailway engineering staff, and Dr. G-.
M. Dawson, of the Geological Survey of Canada. The
writer accompanied them. They travelled together
from Victoria, V. I., to the mouth of the Skeena
thence across the northern part of the Province to Port
McLeod, where the party was divided,—Dr. Dawson
proceeding by Pine Biver Pass, the others by Peace
Biver Pass, to meet at Dunvegan. From Dunvegan
the writer came eastward in advance of the others.
The following chapters, consisting chiefly of notes
taken by the way, record his impressions of the country
traversed from the Pacific to Winnipeg, across the " sea
of mountains" and the more inviting sea of prairies.
The illustrations are from photographs by Dr. G. M.
Dawson, Mr. Selwyn, and Mr- Horetzky—the frontispiece being taken, by permission, from the Geological
Survey Beport for 1818-19. The maps are from the
most recent and most authentic in the Departments-
of the Canadian Pacific Bailway and of the Interior. Carlyle says that " some books are suited for immediate use and immediate oblivion." It is the writer's
hope that ere the accompanying record of his journey
across mountain and prairie passes into oblivion it may
be of use in acquainting somo of his fellow-countrymen,
in a slight degree, with the character and the resources
of that half of the Dominion that lies between "Winnipeg
and the "Western Sea.
The Manse,
Ottawa, May 1880.  CONTENTS.
vancouver island and the lower fraser.
Ottawa to San Franoisco.—Victoria.—Indian and Chinese Labourers.—
Resources of British Columbia.—San Juan.—The Lower Fraser.—New
Westminster.—Burrard Inlet.—Tale to Boston Bar     1
Along the Coast.—The Chain of Channels.—Nanaimo.—Bute Inlet and
the Route of the Canadian Pacific Railway.—Port Essington and the
Mouth of the Skeena.—Metlahkatlah.—Mission to the Indians.—Port
Simpson.—Work Inlet    32
Leave Port Essington.—Canoes, Crews, and Stores.—No Trout.—Tracking
and Poling.—Indian Watch-tower.—Catching and Curing Salmon.—
Carved Posts.—Burial Customs.—The Sweating-booth.—Height of
Steam Navigation.—Division of Coast und Cascade Range.—Indian
Villages.—Gold-washing.—Medicine Man.—The Forks of Skeena.—
Lip-ornaments and Nose-rings.—Mosejuitoes    56 VIII
Our Packers.—The Trail.—Up the Susqua.—Coal.—Women Packing and
Nursing.—Skilokiss Suspension Bridge.—The Ooatzanli.—The Matalt-
sul.—Cascade Range compared with Swiss Alps.—Indian Legends.—
Taim-Shin.—Scene on the Summit.—Approaoh Lake Babine.—
Engage Crews.—Offended Chief.—Babine Indians.—Neighbourhood of
Lake    8?
Up Lake Babine.—Fort Babine.—Indian Farming.—Indian Reserves in
British Columbia.—Reluctance in telling names.—Lake Stewart—
R. C. Missions.—Fort St. James.—Home-siok Indian.—Mule Train.—
Following Trail.—Fort McLeod.—Attractions of the H. B. Service.. • ■ US
Explorers of Peaoe River.—Division of Party.—Leave Fort McLeod.—
The Parsnip.—Fur Traders and Gold Hunters.—Mining.—The Nation
River.— Pete Toy and Nigger Dan.—Finlay River and Rapids.—The
Unchagah.—Peace River Pass.—Parle-pas Rapid.—Moose Hunting.—
Buffalo Traoks.—Terraces.—The Canon Coal.—Navigable Extent of
River.—Indian Hunters.—Charlie's Yarns IUi... 139
Hudson's hope to dunvegan.
The Prairie Region.—H. B. Company and the North-West Company,—
Hudson's Hope.—Moose.—The Climate.—Fertile Flats.—The Plateau.
—On the Raft.—Appearance of Country.—Fort St. John.—Massaore
at the Old Fort—Bear Hunting.—Dunvegan.—Highlanders Abroad.
Moostoos and his Fight with a Griazly—Missions to the Indians 168 CONTENTS.
Province of Unchagah.—Outfits of Exploring Parties.—Old Journals at
Dunvegan.—Records of Climate.—Beaver Indians.—Cree Music.—
Expedition to Battle River.—Character of Country.—Bear Hunting.—
Size and Character of Peace River Country.—The Climate.—Danger
of Summer Frosts.—Increased Sunlight.—Temperature.—Coal-beds.—
Facilities of Communication  • • • • • 196
Leave Dunvegan*—Farewell View of Peace River.—Cooking.—Lesser
Slave Lake.—Another Stage.—Postal Arrangements,—Indian Hospitality.—Athabasca River and Landing.—Gambling.—Road to Fort
Edmonton.—Telegraph Office.—Cree Camp.—Our Indian Policy.—
Farm Instructors,—Treaties.—Sioux.—Edmonton District.—Canadian
Pacific Railway 224
Steamers on Saskatchewan.—Prepare to cross the Prairie.—Trails.—
Prairie Travel-—Pemmican.—Victoria.—Half-breed Farmers.—Christian Missions in North-West.—Victoria to Fort Pitt.—Royal Mail.—
Dog-driving.—Fort Pitt,—The Trail again.—Treeless Prairies.—Tree
Culture.—Battleford.—Government of North-West.—Climate.—Character of Country.—Great Plain.—Homestead and Pre-emption Law.—
Prospect of Settlement    25S
Battleford to Carlton.—Duck Lake.—A Blizzard.—Fellow-travellers.—
Cross South Saskatchewan.—Delayed by Snow.—Humboldt.—Alkaline
Lakes.—Touchwood Hills.—Indian Farming.—Break-downs.—Prairie CONTENTS.
fires.—Qu'Appelle.—Fort Ellice.—Township Surveys.—Colonisation
Companies.—Prohibitory Liquor Law.—Shoal Lake.—Salt Lake.—
Little Saskatchewan.—Enter Manitoba.—Joe's Temptations.—Heavy
Roads.—Portage La Prairie.—Winnipeg.—Prospoots of Immigrants.—
Loyalty to tho Empire WE'	
Map showing part of the North-West Territories and
British Columbia    To faoe page
Map shewing the Canadian Pacific Coast	
Map shewing part of Northern British Columbia and of
Peace River District,—with author's route from
Port Essington to Fort Edmonton %        "
Map shewing Southern portion of the North-West Terri
tories,—with author's route from Fort Edmonton to
Winnipeg        I        *'
Indian Village, Queen Charlotte Islands    Fro:
Fraser River (IS miles above Yale)    To
Junction of Nation and Parsnip.. 	
Mount Selwyn	
Peace River (20 miles above the Canon).  *^^^H
Fort Edmonton	
Prairie Carts en route	
face page
,         ■■
•         "
.         ..
255  so
Ottawa to San Francisco.—Victoria.—Indian and Chinese Labourers.—Resources of British Columbia.—San Juan.—The Lower
Fraser.—New "Westminster.—Burrard Inlet.—Vale to Boston
From Ottawa to San Francisco by rail, thence by
steamer to Victoria, V. I., a journey in all of about four
thousand miles, was a requisite preliminary to our more
interesting journey from Victoria across Northern
British Columbia, through the Eocky Mountains, by
the Peace Eiver Pass, and over the prairies to Winnipeg.
The railway route across the Continent is so often
traversed, so familiarly known, and has been so frequently described, that we need not linger long upon it.
Ontario was just bursting into leaf, for the season had
been somewhat late, as we passed through on the 13th
May, 18T9. At Chicago we entered on the prairies of
Illinois; prairies which to one who had not yet seen the
Valley of the Saskatchewan or the farm lands of Mani-
toba, seemed rich beyond all rivals. The country is as-
fertile as it is flat, but it suffers from the biting north
wind that sweeps down from Lake Michigan; therefore
almost every homestead is guarded by a grove of Lom-
bardy poplars, or other quickly grown trees. At
Burlington we crossed the Mississippi and passed into
Iowa, which seems like a continuation of Illinois, save
that the soil is scarcely so rich, and occasional stretches"
of rolling country vary the monotony of the dead-level
prairie. At Council Bluffs we crossed the Missouri and
entered upon the plains of Nebraska, that look like a.
sea of grass, sometimes rimmed by low hills on the
distant horizon, sometimes stretching away an unbroken
level as far as the eye can reach, occasionally dotted with
the bleached bones of cattle, or the herds of the ranchers,,
or the caravans of new immigrants. One of its towns,
Sidney, the outlet of the Black Bills mining country, is
a centre for those incidents and anecdotes- that seem to-
British and New England ears characteristic of Western
life. Here, and at almost any point between this and
Ogden, you may hear stories of atrocities by Indians,
and of worse atrocities by white men; of train robberies,
murders, etc., by the ruffians who frequently gravitates
towards gold and silver mines. Three days before we
passed through, a murderer had been lynched, hung to
the telegraph post nearest to the station, and the incident caused little comment and no enquiry.   The mining VANOOXJTER ISLAND AND TBE LOWEB FRASER. d
districts, however, are gradually coming under law and
order; vigilance committees have already done good
work, as they did in the early days of San Francisco;
and as capital is being largely invested, business and
society are becoming more settled, so that life and
property may soon be as safe here as they have long been
in California and Montana.
We crossed the Eocky Mountains at a height of 8,000
feet above sea-level, more than 6,000 feethigher than where
we expect to re-cross them at the Peace Biver Pass, and
with no sign that we had reached such an altitude, save
the stunted vegetation around us, the snowy peaks
shimmering in the distance, and the more exact indications of railway-map and aneroid. We rattled along
through the Echo and Weber CaSons, where the frowning and precipitous rocks alternate with snatches of
scenery that remind one of some parts of Scotland,
especially of the uplands of Galloway, though here the
grass is not so rich and no sheep are seen grazing on
the hill-sides. Then came the plains of Utah, part of
the Great American Desert that lies between the Bocky
Mountains and the Sierras of Nevada, where nothing
grows without irrigation, but where, with this assistance, many dreary levels have been changed into
smiling fields. Wearisome, at times, even to the
traveller by rail, what must those alkali plains have
been to the traveller by stage in the old coaching days ? 4
or, still worse, to the earlier Mormons, many of whom
traversed them on foot? It was a relief to pass from
the Desert, over the snowy range of the Sierras, by
many an abandoned gold claim—abandoned by whites,
though now worked by Chinese—down to the smiling
valley of the Sacramento. They had been ploughing in
Ontario when we left a week ago; here in California
they were reaping. Touching the sea at Oakland, we
crossed, by a ferry of four miles, to San Francisco,
arriving at the very hour we had hoped to do when
leaving home seven days ago.
'Frisco—for life is too short, and business too pressing,
to allow Californians to use, in common conversation,
the full name San Francisco—was agitated about the
new constitution which the State of California had
recently adopted. Newspapers and people alike were
full of it. How far it might conflict with the Federal
authority, and how far it might fulfil the hopes of its
advocates, still remained to be seen, for though passed
it had not yet come into force. Its chief points are: the
taxation of all manner of property, stocks, bonds, mining
^shares, etc., as well as real estate; the restraint of some
huge monopolies, especially the Central Pacific Railroad;
and the fulfilment of the maxim, " the Chinese must go."
It was the boast of an American poet regarding his
country, that
" Her tree latch-string never was drawn in
Against the poorest child of Adam's kin *': VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TEE LOWER FRASER.
but apparently California is "orepared to repudiate this
honourable claim.
Time did not admit 01 our seeing tne City to aavan-
tage, though even a hurried visit to its chief business
streets, its markets, its Chinese quarter and its wharves,
give sufficient evidence that, though inferior to a number
of cities in the East, San Francisco has many attractions.
Its chief attraction, however, is its harbour. It is small
praise to call this the finest harbour on the Pacific, for
the North American Pacific is singularly destitute of
good harbours. The next best are those of British
Columbia, but they are scarcely worthy of mention in
comparison. This is one of the finest harbours in the
At mid-day on Tuesday, the 20tn May, we ..eft it, and
steamed out through the Golden Gate on to the blue
waters of the Pacific. The City of Chester, on which we
took passage for Victoria, was lightly laden, and seemed
capable of more motion in the wrong direction than any
other steamer afloat. The effect of this on the writer is
seen from the following extracts from a brief journal.
They are somewhat monotonous: " Tuesday evening,
sea-sick; Wednesday, 21st, do.; Thursday, 22nd, do."
To examine the life preservers, or the slats in the upper
berth; to hear the gong call others to dinner; to listen
day and night for the bell "that each half hour marks
off the time; to wonder if it would bo well to take the 6
medicine now that should have been taken last night;
to hear the grinding of the shaft, varied by an occasional
whirr as the screw rose out of the water; to leave unopened the books that were brought for reading by the
way; to abandon all desire for a trip around the world;
to feel thankful that the steamer is not bound for Yokohama or Honolulu; to question the boasted progress of
medical science that has not found any remedy for seasickness; and to long for the fulfilment ofthe prophecy:
"There shall be no more sea;" these were some of the
lighter occupations that engaged attention when not
engrossed with the more serious and painful duties of
the situation; nor did it greatly lessen one's discomfort
to know that others were similarly engaged.
It is about 150 miles from San Francisco to Victoria.
On Friday, the 23rd, we rounded Cape Flattery and
entered the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. We had some
sixty-five miles more to run, and when we awoke on
Saturday morning we found that we were safely moored
at the wharf in Victoria.
Before starting for the Skeena, where we purposed
leaving the coast on our journey eastward, we required to
spend a few days in the southern part of the Province,
which is, even yet, a comparative stranger to the sister
Provinces east of the Bocky Mountains. Although
Vancouver Island was constituted into a Crown colony in
1849, it really was little known outside of the ledgers of VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER FRASER.
"the Hudson's Bay Company and the official documents
■of Downing Street, until 1858, when the discovery of
gold on the Fraser attracted thousands to Victoria, and
when the mainland portion of what is now the Province of
British Columbia was first erected into a colony. The
"two colonies were united in 1866, the one giving the
name to the united colony—British Columbia, the other
giving the capital—Victoria. The old rivalry, however,
between the two capitals still exists, as New Westminster has not yet abandoned her claim to present and
prospective superiority to Victoria. On the 20th July,
18*71, the colony was united to the other Provinces of
the Dominion, and Canada was thus extended from the
Atlantic to the Pacific.
Victoria is British Columbia in much the same way
as Paris is France. Originally an Indian village gathered
Around a post of the Hudson's Bay Company, then a
small settlement of traders, etc., it sprang forward
rapidly under successive waves of excitement: first, on
-the discovery of gold on the lower Fraser; again, in
1860, when new and most profitable gold fields were
•opened in Cariboo; and, subsequently, on the discovery of gold in Cassiar in 1873. Its population
like its prosperity has fluctuated, at one time swelling
-to 12,000, but now shrunk to less than half that
number. Although some parts of it, especially those
•occupied by the Chinese and the Indians, have a worn- 8
out look, yet it is upon the whole a pretty little city,
with delightful drives, tasteful gardens, comfortable
homes, a charming public park, and views of the snowcapped Olympian range, the sight of which on a warm
day is as refreshing as a breeze from the hill tops.
The surroundings of the city are very attractive, the
foliage being rich and varied, the shrubs including
species seldom seen in the eastern Provinces, and not
grown there as here in the open air, such as holly, ivy,
arbutus, etc., while the yew and the scrub oak give
additional attraction to the scenery. It is somewhat
inconveniently situated for the capital of the Province,
as the harbour is only a small bay with very limited
accommodation, the true harbour being at Esquimault,
some four miles distant. Esquimault, which was
for a time supposed to be a suitable terminus for the
Canadian Pacific Bailway, is beautifully land-locked,
and easy of access, but the harbour is very small—too
small to allow a large vessel to enter under canvas and
come to anchor, unless she had most of the harbour to
herself. The road-stead outside of the harbour, however,
known as the Boyal Boads, is safe and commodious, and
the value set upon Esquimault by the Imperial and Dominion authorities is seen in the fact that it is the site of
a Government graving-dock now in course of completion.
Victoria is a focus for people from every land. Men of
almost all nationalities rub shoulders here.   There are VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWEB FRASER.
Indians, the old possessors of the soil, whose contact with,
city life has not yet greatly itnproved them; Spaniards,
whose former influence along this coast is notched in
many of the names of British Columbia, such as Quadra
(the old name of Vancouver Island), Texada, Valdes, etc.;
Chinese, who are rapidly becoming ubiquitous along
the Pacific; Frenchmen; Bussians; Americans; Jews;
and Britons from almost every quarter of the Empire.
Yet, though its population is thus mixed, there is a-
strong English tone in Victoria, and a deep attachment
to the Empire. Unfortunately there is not yet the same
strong attachment to the Dominion. The people hardly
regard their Province as an integral portion of Canada,
and still speak of Canadians as of a distant people,
severed from them in life and purpose. Yet the same
was the case in Nova Scotia for some years after -Confederation. Along the Atlantic coast, as here, the
communication was more frequent with the old country
than with the interior Provinces; many doubted the
wisdom of Confederation; some, even, of its Mends, considered it to be premature; some vehemently opposed
it; but none would now undo it, or bring back the
isolated life in which each of the Provinces formerly'
dwelt; and, naturally, as the intercourse of British
Columbia with other parts of the Domin ion becomes closer -
and more frequent, and as the construction of our Pacific
Bailway proceeds, loyalty to the Empire will develop- 10
loyalty to the commonweal of the Dominion, of which
this Province forms a part. Tbe people, however, thought
that they had a grievance against the Dominion. When
they entered Confederation, in 1871, it was agreed upon,
as one of the articles of the union, that the Government
of the Dominion should " undertake to secure the commencement, simultaneously, within two years of the date
•of union—of the construction of a railway from the
Pacific to the Bocky Mountains, and from such point as
may be selected, east of the Bocky Mountains, towards
the Pacific, to connect the seaboard of British Columbia
with the railway system of Canada.—and, further, to secure
the completion of such railway within ten years of the
date of union." Nearly nine years have passed and construction is only now commencing. True, there was far
more work involved than was at first anticipated, in the
location of the line. Nearly four millions of dollars.;
have been expended in the surveys, of which a large
portion has been disbursed in British Columbia. Many
routes had to be examined, amounting in the aggregate
to 46,000 miles, of which one-fourth was measured, yard
.by yard, through forest, mountain and prairie; but these
are facts of which an impatient people take little notice.
Since, however, construction has been commenced, it may
reasonably be expected that adverse criticism towards
the Canadian Government, on the part of the people of
British Columbia, will cease, and that they will recognise VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER FRASER.
the earnestness of the Dominion authorities in fulfilling,
as far as possible, the pledges given when British Columbia
entered Confederation. Certainly, the people can hardly
regard themselves as identified in interest with their
fellow-Canadians until greater facilities for intercourse
have been pi*ovided, and these can be most fully secured
by the construction of the Canadian Pacific Bailway.
Many causes have been at work to retard the progress
of Victoria—causes that have similarly affected the welfare of the whole Province. It suffers, and has suffered,
largely, from the fact that many of its temporary citizens
have been only birds of passage, coming with the intention of leaving as soon as they had made their " pile," and
therefore taking no interest in the settlement or development of the country. For this reason many, even of the
better educated British Columbians, take no active part in
the political or other public interests of the Province, and
some are confirmed in this course by the condition of the
franchise, which, being virtually that of manhood suffrage,
places a large amount of power in the hands of the floating
population. The mining excitement, too, has slackened.
Men do not now come in from the gold-fields as they once
did, so flush with money that they could throw a handful
of $20 gold pieces at a saloon-keeper's mirror, and ask the
proprietor to take the price of the shattered glass from
the coins on the floor. More capital and cheaper labour
are now required to work the gold-fields to advantage. ., MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE,
The extensive iron deposits of the Province are
lying undisturbed. The great coal-fields are worked
only in a very small degree, and mines that may yet give
employment to many thousands now employ only a
few hundreds. The agricultural capacity of many districts is but imperfectly known, and even the recognized
officials can hardly tell the new immigrant where to go
for the best unoccupied farm lands, for much fertile soil
is still covered, or hemmed in, by forests of large timber.
Although forty millions of dollars have been taken out
of the gold mines of British Columbia, there is very little
in the Province to-day to represent that amount. Many
have carried their money away; many others have left
the country "dead broke"; and while in Ontario, and
other Provinces, the fortunate remained on account of
their succoss, and the disappointed also remained, because
unable to get away; and while all thus settled, worked,
and developed the resources of those Provinces, many
who had been disappointed in British Columbia could easily
move elsewhere, and they left the Province rather the
worse for their having lived in it. It must be confessed,
too, that Victoria suffers from saloons more perhaps than
most of our cities, there being some sixty saloons for a
population of about 5,000,—" an intolerable deal of sack
to one half-penny worth of bread."
Copper currency is unknown, the smallest coin being a
" bit"—that is,  the English sixpence, whose nearest VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER FRASER.
equivalent is the ten-cent piece. The hotel clerk smiles
when you offer him three Canadian cents in payment of
a three cent stamp, and suggests that he does not keep a
museum of curiosities, while it is said that the presence
in church of Canadians from the older Provinces can be
sometimes detected by the discovery of copper coins in
the collection.
Labour is still dear, notwithstanding the presence of a
large Chinese element, against which the chief accusation
laid by the anti-Chinese agitators is that it keeps down
the price of labour, and so impoverishes white men.
labourers receive from §2 to $2.50 per day; mechanics,
■$4 to $5. Household servants receive from $15 to $30
per month, and ferm servants $20 to $40 per month,with
board and lodging, while other labour is paid in proportion, so that the country is a most expensive one for
those on salaries, whose incomes are measured by the
figures that prevail in other parts of Canada, or in England,—an attractive one for labourers who are willing to
-work, and for capitalists who have brains to guide their
investments in mining, lumbering and fishing,—and a
very paradise for domestic servants.
The two great classes of labourers, however, in Southern
British Columbia, are the Indians and the Chinese. Many
of the Indians work admirably on steamers, in saw-mills,
in salmon-canneries, &c. They are active, strong, good-
tempered, with very little self-restraint if liquor is within 14
reach, and with a great contempt for Chinamen; some of
them are excellent farmers, with very com for table cottages;
and a number of the Lillooet Indians along the Lower
Frasor, who bear a specially good name, raise cattle and
hay for market. White settlers find no trouble from
them. One white settler reports regarding those in his
neighbourhood: " The Indians go into farming; quite
quiet; keep cats." The keeping of cats is^a new test
of civilization, although perhaps not much more reliable
for that purpose than the use of suspenders.
It is not easy to map out, with accuracy, the different
Indian tribes, or dialects, to be met with in the Province.
The generic name is Siwash, a corruption, no doubt, of
" sauvage," but when you try to define all the species of
Siwash you are sure to run across some of the lines laid
down by one or other of the writers on this subject. On
Vancouver Island there are the Ahts, the Cowichans, the
Comox and others. On the mainland, we have the Koot-
anies, the Lillooets, the Shuswaps, the Chilcotins, the
Bellacoulas, theTsimpseans, the Babines, the Sicanies, and
others; and on Queen Charlotte Islands, the Haidahs. Their
languages differ in much the same degree as the dialects
of English from Cornwall to Caithness, although sometimes one might be tempted to include the varieties of
Gaelic as well as of English in this comparison. A
common medium of communication with most of them,
however—at least, with those near the coast—is found VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWEB FRASER.
in the Chinook jargon, which was originally the language
of the Chinook Imdians, near the mouth of the Columbia
Biver, but which has been enriched and altered by the
addition of words from the Spanish, French and other
languages. It is easily acquired; it cannot be said to
have any grammar; but it forms a most convenient means
of intercourse with the Indians, from the Fraser to Alaska,
being more profitable to the traveller in those regions
than all other modern languages.
The other chief labourer of British Columbia is tho
Chinaman. It is not merely within recent years that
men have come from the land of the Celestials, across the
Pacific, to our own western coast. There is ample
evidence that at some past period the blood of the Chinese,
or of the Japanese, was blended with the blood of our
Indians, for many of the Pacific Indians are of such a
marked Mongolian type of face that you can scarcely
tell them from the Chinamen except by the difference of
dress, or of language, or by the absence of the pig-tail,
which, however, the Chinaman often wears coiled up
under his cap. As lately, indeed, as 1834, Japanese junks
were found stranded on our western coast. Whether
the coming of the Asiatics was the result of accident, or
of set purpose, one consequence has been an infusion of
Asiatic blood amongst some of our Indian tribes. The
immigration, however, of Chinamen for trade and labour,
is a thing of recent date.    As yet their presence can 16
.hardly be said to have had any serious effect on the
labour market of the Province, or to provoke much hostility ; but as those who have already arrived may be only
the advanced guard pf a large army of workmen, it is
possible that British Columbia may yet witness a strife
between white and Chinese labour similar to that which
has seriously disturbed the peace of California.
The Chinamen, as a class, are sober, diligent, frugal
and trustworthy. They are objected to by the saloonkeeper, who gets no custom from them,—by the indolent,
whom they prevent from exacting exorbitant wages for
a minimum of work,—by agitators, who try to win the
favour of the white working-man, and by others who are
more or less influenced by those objectors. And yet
remove the Chinamen and you disturb every industry
in British Columbia; exclude their future immigration
and you increase the cost of working your future
factories. It is, of course, only fair that all citizens should
contribute a due share to the good of the commonwealth.
If, therefore, the Chinaman does not consume enough of
our produce, preferring his rice to our wheat, if his work
is not enough to entitle him to live among us, and if his
labour precludes the employment of those who seem to
have a prior claim upon the country, then regulations
may be framed to lay upon him a more equitable share of
, the general burdens. But if it is objected that the Chinese
come and work here only with the view of carrying their VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER FRASER.
earnings out of the country, it may be asked, for what
other purpose are hundreds of Britons now doing business
in China, and with what other object, indeed, have many
of the anti-Chinese agitators themselves gone to British
•Columbia ? Or, if it be objected that our civilization, as
well as our commerce, may suffer, that the Chinese lower
the general tone—then surely we have little faith in our
•civilization and in our Christianity if we cannot hope
rather to mould the Mongolian to a higher life. Even if
we would we could not, with any consistency, close one
of our ports against Chinese immigration, remembering
the way in which the ports of China were opened for the
•commerce of our empire; and before any serious wish
should be expressed, or serious attempt be made, to
exclude them, some more vigorous efforts for their improvement, than have yet been witnessed, are required of
us if we be a Christian people.
The development of the resources of British'Columbia,
however, may well call for the fullest possible supply of
•cheap labour from whatever quarter it may be derived,
for there can be no doubt about the vast extent of the
resources of this Province. Compared with Ontario,
Manitoba, and other agricultural Provinces, it is an inferior farming country, although parts of the valley of
the Fraser, and the valleys of some of its tributaries, as
well as other southern portions of the Province, are rich
in arable and in pasture lands, while, from the facilities
that they afford for wintering cattle, without housing or
home-feeding, many parts are specially adapted for stock-
But, while the agricultural capacities of the Province
are small, it is in other respects exceptionally wealthy.
Its bituminous coal is of the best quality, in quantities
that are practically inexhaustible, found close to tho
Water's edge. The estimated coal-producing area of the
Comox district alone is given in the Geological Survey
Beport for 1871-2 (page 80) as 300 square miles; where
the estimated quantity of coal underlying the surface, is,
on the same authority, set down as 25,000 tons per acre,
or sixteen million of tons per square mile; and yet, as if
this were not sufficient to warm the world for a while,
and to enrich Vancouver for ages, the Geological Survey Report assures us that the coal measures " run
" in a nari-ow trough, which may be said to extend to the
" vicinity of Cape Mudge on the north-west, and to
" approach within fifteen miles of Victoria on the south-
" east, with a length of about 130 miles."
Even these areas do not exhaust the coal measures of
the island. It was at Fort Bupert, near the northern
extremity of Vancouver, a trading post of the Hudson's
Bay Company, that coal was first found on the island, but
while the Company were making all necessary preparations for mining and shipping coal here, the mines at
Nanaimo were discovered, and being richer, more accessi- VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWEB FRASER.
ble, and more convenient for shipping, they have been
opened and worked, while the coal fields at Fort Eupert
have been allowed to lie idle. Coal from Nanaimo forces
its way into San Francisco, notwithstanding the high
duty against it. It is used on the Central Pacific Bail-
road, and it is regarded by the U. S. War Department
as being 20 per cent, better than the best ooal of the
Pacific States. From Fort Eupert there is said to be a
low flat country extending along the north-western portion of the island to Quatsino, another locality where
coal has been found. Possibly this flat land may over-lie
extensive beds of coal, and Quatsino being directly accessible from the Pacific, would be advantageously situated
for large shipments. Moreover, it is at least possible
that rich coal beds may yet be found underlying the timber lands, whose dense forests have hitherto prevented
any thorough examination of the interior of the island ;
and there are known to be extensive beds of anthracite
coal in Queen Charlotte Islands.
In addition to the rich coal measures of Vancouver,
there are abundant iron deposits. The whole island of
Texada, not far from the coal-fields of Nanaimo and Comox,
seems to be almost a mass of iron ore, easy of access
for mining and smelting, and with facilities in the immediate vicinity for producing unlimited charcoal. The ore
of Texada is reported, upon assay, to yield 80 per cent,
of pure iron of the best quality. 20
Silver and copper may be added to the list of mineral
resources, while the gold fields of the Province, though
ceasing to a-ttract the large numbers that they once did,
and being wrought at a great disadvantage, on account
of the high price of provisions and of labour, still yield
a large return, and may be expected to yield more when
improved machinery and cheaper living are introduced;
for even of Williams' Creek, one of the most paying in
the Cariboo district, which was supposed to have been
exhausted, Dr. G. M. Dawson, of the Geological Survey,
states that " it would not be extravagant to say that the
" quantity of gold still remaining in the bed of this creek,
" which has been worked over, is about as great as that
" which has already been obtained ;" and the same may
reasonably be supposed to be the case with other mines.
Its mineral resources, however, though so extensive,
are but a portion of the wealth of this Province. Its
fisheries are amongst the richest in the world. Salmon
swarm in its rivers, in almost incredible numbers, so that
the Indian, or any one else who may follow his- example,
can, in a few days, catch enough salmon to form his
chief article of food for the year. The coast is rich with
halibut, herring and cod. In the northern waters the
seal and the otter abound, while in the river Nasse, and
its neighbourhood, the Indians catch large numbers of
oolachan, or candle-fish. This fish, which is about
the   size   of the smelt,   and   considered   by   some   a mm.
great delicacy, is so fat that by simply inserting
a piece of pith, it serves as a candle, the pith
burning like the wick of a well-filled lamp. One
gets some idea of the abundance of the oolachan, and
also of the herring, from the manner in which they are
frequently caught. In a pole, about ten feet in length,
nails are inserted, which are set about an inch and a half
apart, like the teeth of a comb. When the fisherman in his
canoe comes upon a shoal of fish, he draws the pole
quickly through the water, and with a backward sweep
impales several upon the sharp teeth. In two or three
hours he may secure a boat load.
Added to its resources of the mine, and of the sea, this
Province boasts the largest of all Canadian timber,—vast
forests of Douglas pine. Excellent for ordinary use, this
wood is specially suited for such purposes as shipbuilding, the manufacture of spars, etc., where toughness,
lightness, and durability are essential qualities. Trees of
Douglas pine sometimes grow to a gigantic size, being
even 180 feet in length, and from nine to eleven feet in
diameter at the base. Near the northern coast there are
extensive forests of cedar and hemlock.
This enumeration of the chief resources of the Province
may to some appear tiresome as an exhibition catalogue,
but it is necessary in order to convey even a faint idea of
the country's wealth. Only in respect to farming does
British Columbia seem inferior to any of its sister Pro- MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
vinces. Its climate is much better than that along our
Atlantic coast, for it has no cold stream from the Arctic
flowing down upon it, and its shores are washed by a
warm oceanic current, that keeps its ports open at all
seasons, and that gives the southern parts ofthe Province a
climate not unlike that of the south of England, while
securing, even to the northern parts, at least near the sea,
a temperature as moderate as that enjoyed 10 degrees
further south on the Atlantic coast of America.
It would be unreasonable to question the future prosperity of such a Province. The tariffs of other countries
may for a time delay its development; they cannot permanently prevent it. Its time must come, when the
restless and speculative spirit created by the gold fever,
and still too palpably present, shall give place to steady
labour, when industry shall unfold the resources of which
as yet only the outskirts have been grasped, and when
possessions similar to those that secured the material
prosperity of the Mother Country, shall make British
Columbia one of the wealthiest Provinces of the
While waiting for some of our party to complete their
arrangements before starting for the Skeena, two of us
Visited the Fraser Biver. From Victoria we went by
steamer to New Westminster, seventy miles distant, near
the mouth of the Fraser, the capital of the old colony of
British Columbia before its union with Vancouver.   Our VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER FRASER.
course lay through the Straits of San Juan de Fuca, thence
across the Straits of Georgia into the broad and turbid
The sight of the island of San Juan can hardly fail to
arouse Canadians into indignation and regret at the way
in which our rights have usually suffered in any controversy with our neighbours regarding our boundary line.
A large portion of the State of Maine was lost through
the reckless ignorance, it would seem, of some of those
who were engaged in negotiating the Ashburton Treaty,
or Ashburton Capitulation, as it has sometimes been
called. Washington Territory and part of Oregon were
lost to us, it appears, because the then Premier of England considered the country not worth contending for,
basing his judgment on a report of his brother, who condemned it as useless because the salmon in the Columbia
Biver would not rise to the fly. And, surely, there must
have been serious carelessness in the wording of the
Treaty, or somo culpable deficiency in the evidence and
arguments submitted to the Emperor of Germany, when,
as arbitrator, he decided that the boundary line should
run down the Haro Straits, instead of following either
the Middle Channel or the Straits of Bosario, thus giving
to the "United States an island to which until recently
they laid no claim.
Not long ago there died in San Juan an aged servant
of the Hudson's Bay Company, a Scottish Highlander, 24
who, with a brother and sister, had come there when the
British title to the island was undisputed. It was the
dying wish of the old man, as well as the desire of his
only surviving relatives, that his remains should not lie
in a foreign land. With some difficulty and expense they
were removed to Victoria, where the brother and sister,
who spoke very little English, told their story to the
Bev. S. Macgregor, who could speak to them in their
native Gaelic. The little funeral procession of two,
accompanied by the clergyman, passed from the wharf
to the graveyard, and there they left the bones of the
old Loyalist beneath the protection of the flag he loved.
As it nears the sea, the Fraser flows, broad and slow,
between low alluvial banks or tide-flats. It starts on its
winding course some 800 miles above this, in the upper
slopes of the Bocky Mountains, cleaving its way through
many a wild canon, skirting rich gold bars and fertile
valleys, and receiving as its tributaries all the streams
which flow from the Bockies through the Cascade Bange
to the sea. Other rivers, such as the Bellacoula, the
Homathco, the Skeena, and the Nasse, rising in the interior
plateau, flow through the Cascades to the Western Sea;
others, again, both from the Cascades and the Bockies,
swell tho waters of the Peace in its northward flow to-
the Arctic Ocean; but the Fraser alone, rising in the
Bockies, cuts its course through the high broken plateau
that divides the Bocky Mountains from the Cascade or mm
Coast Bange, and, forcing its way through this latter,
finds rest at last in the Pacific.
Near the mouth of the Fraser is the little city of New
Westminster, which was shorn of some of its.pretensions
and prospects when Victoria was chosen as the capital of
the united colony, but which has now every chance of
soon surpassing its old rival, as the neighbouring harbour
of Burrard Inlet has been selected as the terminus of the
Canadian Pacific Bailway. Although the city can scarcely
bo said to have a harbour, it being little more than a
river bank approached by the winding Fraser, yet it
claims, as in some sense its own, the harbour of Burrard
Inlet, about nine miles north,—a claim, perhaps, as valid
as that on which Victoria prides itself on the possession,
of Esquimaul
Though smaller and less attractive than Victoria, with
somewhat more of a backwoods appearance, it has a pulse
of life and energy stronger in proportion to its population
than is found in its rival. It is the centre towards which
the lines of travel and of traffic from the interior converge.
The herds of cattle from the ranches of Kamloops, the
farm products of Sumas and Nicola, with similar returns
from other districts, are brought here as to a common
point of distribution.
Burrard Inlet is certa.iuy the most suitable harbour in
British Columbia for the terminus of our Pacific Bailway.
Only two others can be seriously compared with it,— 26
Port Simpson and Esquimault. Port Simpson, although
in some respects suitable, especially if the convenience of
the Asiatic trade were made a prominent consideration,
is too far north to serve the general interests of the Province ; while, at the same time, in approaching it from
the east it would be necessary to traverse a large tract
of eountry that, as far as known, is seriously deficient in
Esquimault is smaller than Burrard Inlet, and, even
with the roadstead of Boyal Boads, would not give as
much harbourage as Burrard with its roadstead, English
Bay; while the enormous cost and practical inutility of
a railway from Esquimault to Nanaimo, which would have
been a necessity if Esquimault had been chosen as a
terminus, as well as the great expense and other objections that might be urged against the Bute Inlet route,
render Burrard Inlet much more eligible as the Pacific
terminus of the line.
Objection has been taken against it on the ground that
any vessels bound from the Pacific for Burrard Inlet might,
in case of disturbance between Britain and the United
States, be stopped by the batteries of San Juan; but there is
little doubt that in the event of such disturbance the batteries of San Juan would soon be held by the British, or Vancouver be held by the States; that both islands, in short,
would, in the event of war, fall to the power that held
naval supremacy on the Pacific.   At the same time, if a VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TBE LOWER ERASER.
course north of that which runs by tho valley of the
Fraser to Burrard Inlet had been selected for our railway,
much of the traffic of the southern part of the Provinco
must inevitably have passed to any Northern Pacific
railway that may be constructed through United States
territory with a terminus in the neighbourhood of Puget
Burrard Inlet is already a busy place, for it is the
centre of the British Columbia timber trade,—the manufacture and export of the Douglas pine, which grows in
great excellence and abundance in this vicinity. Lumberers here work under great advantages as compared
with those of our Eastern Provinces. The climate is so
moderate, and the pine forests are so close to the water's
edge, that men are at work in the woods all the year
round felling trees and drawing them, by means of oxen,
to the water, so that they can be easily rafted to the
•mills; while other gangs of men are at work throughout
the whole year in the mills and on the docks, sawing and
piling lumber and loading vessels, which have easy access
to the mill-wharves at all seasons. The road from New
Westminster to Burrard Inlet passes through a forest of
Douglas pine, where on either side rise these giants,
straight, lofty and almost branchless, waiting for the axe.
From New Westminster we went by steamer 100 miles
to Yale, the head of navigation on the Fraser. There are
navigable reaches of the river above Yale, but all progress 28
by steamor from the sea beyond this point is prevented
by the character of the river—wild, broken and rapid—
and by the precipitous cafions through which it flows.
From Yale, the one great highway to the interior is
the waggon-road which was built by the Province at a very
large cost when the Cariboo gold-fever was impelling
thousands up the banks of the Fraser. It follows, for the
most part, the course of the river, though taking sometimes the easier valleys of tributary streams, running
northerly about 300 miles until it reaches Quesnel, and
then striking east to the Cariboo district, one of the
richest gold-mining fields ever known.
Anxious to see something of the canons of the Fraser,
we drove over this road as far as Boston Bar, a distance
of 25 miles. For wild and startling scenery this drive
has few equals. The road winds around high and precipitous hills, sometimes cut out of the rock, sometimes
built up on crib-work at an altitude of several hundred
feet above the river, while leaning over the side of the
waggon you look down on the Fraser, at the foot of the
sheer and rugged cliff, wild, masterful, turbulent, whirling and swirling in rapids and eddies that invariably
prove fatal to any who fall within their grasp. Frequently
one meets great ox-teams, dragging huge waggons, or
extensive pack-trains of mules, well laden, carrying their
cargoes to the interior. Only steady nerve and experience
could enable a man to guide a span of horses at a rattling From a Photo, by Dr. G. M .Dawson.
pace, sometimes at full speed, over such a road, near the
edge of those precipitous banks, and around corners where
you know not what mule-train or ox-waggon you may
meet; but the drivers on this line are men of nerve and
experience. We were in the hands of such a Jehu, and
although at times the driving was furious as that of the
son of Nimshi, yet we had every confidence in him.
What is life worth without faith in your fellow-man ?
Often along this lower part ofthe river we passed " bars"
that once attracted thousands—Emory Bar, Wellington
Bar, Boston Bar, &c,—for small grains of gold are commonly first detected at the head of a sand-bar, where the
current of the river leaves only the heavier sand and the
metallic particles that are borne down with it. Some of
these bars are still worked by Indians and Chinamen,
who make fair wages at them, but they do not yield
enough to attract the more restless or more ambitious
white man.
From the road one can see the old trail by which
hundreds of gold-hunters travelled, through hardship
and suffering, before the waggon-road was made, carrying,
in many instances, provisions, blankets, mining tools, &c,
'& burden of some 120 lbs. per man, for nearly 400 miles.
We hear of the handful of successful men, whooe good
fortune sends hundreds of others to the mines. Wo hear
nothing of the thousands of unfortunates, broken in
purse, broken in all sober industry that would fit them 30
for steady labour, often broken in health, but still unbroken in hope, still strong in the gaming spirit that
flings the past to the winds, and, with confident outlook,
says, " better luck next time."
A rough crowd those miners often were; and yet, our
knowledge of British Columbia to-day, small as it is,
would be much smaller but for them. They opened up
the country aDd made it known. The Indians could not,
and the Hudson's Bay Company's officials would not, let
the outside world learn from them about this land of
canon and of mountain. But the miner came, and he
laughed at difficulties that would have made other men
despair. He pierced the country from Kootenay to Cassiar. Bailway explorers. and surveyors followed, and
now almost every available pass and road and stretch of
farm land, at least in the southern portion of the Province,
is mapped out. Few of the miners made fortunes, yet
many helped to open the country for those who have
come after them. They may rest in unknown and
unhonoured graves, but their work, however different in
aim, was in result not unlike that of an advanced guard
in many an old conflict, who bridged the ditch with their
bodies that others might pass over them to victory.
Frequently along the Fraser society was wild as the
scenery, although, thanks to the prompt administration
of justice by Sir Matthew Begbie and Judge Beilley, life
and property were as safe in the mining districts as in VANCOUVER ISLAND AND TEE LOWER FRASER.
the best regulated parts of the country. But the language
was sometimes rough, very rough. A Canadian clergyman
on one occasion visited Cariboo, and hearing occasional
profanity, he attempted gently to remonstrate with the
offenders. The miners could stand a good lecture on
Sunday, but they did not relish reproofs of this kind
through the week for what, after all, appeared to them
little more than emphatic language; so they undertook
to astonish his reverence. By pre-arrangement some of
them, when within ear-shot of the Doctor, dropped into
conversation, and interlarded their talk with such profanity as even they themselves had never heard before.
No wonder that the good man was horrified and gave the
miners of Cariboo a bad name, although, had he been behind the scenes, he would hardly have taken this as a
specimen of their common conversation. CHAPTEE IL
Along the Coast.—The Chain of Channels.—Nanaimo.—Bute Inlet
and the Route of the Canadian Pacific Bailway.—Port Essington
and the Mouth of the Skeena.—Metlahkatlah.—Mission to the
Indians.—Port Simpson.—Work Inlet.
Having returned to Victoria, and having completed all
■our preparations for our journey northward and across
the mountains, we left there on Tuesday, the 3rd June,
for Port Essington, at the mouth of the Skeena, in the
commodious steamer Olympia, belonging to the Hudson's
Bay Company.
As the.Olympia was to go as far as Fort Wrangel, in
Alaska, where travellers for the Cassiar gold fields leave
the coast to ascend the Stickine, and was to call at Fort
Masset, and at other intervening ports, before returning,
and as she was incomparably more comfortable than the
ordinary steamers on this route, there was a goodly
number of passengers on board. We had a party of
ladies and gentlemen from Victoria, who availed themselves of this opportunity of seeing a portion of ■ our  ii VICTORIA TO TEE SKEENA.
Northern Pacifie, of which Victorians, in general, know
-very little, some traders and miners for Cassiar, a
staff of railway engineers, with assistants, axemen,
"voyageurs, etc., that were to be engaged during the summer in the upper part of the Province, and also a number
of Haidah Indians, returning to their homes on the Queen
•Charlotte Islands, after one of those visits to Victoria,
from which the morality, both of whites and Indians,
suffers considerably.
Our course lay eastward through the Haro-Straits, then
northward between Vancouver and the smaller islands
that stud the Straits of Georgia, until, leaving the northern
extremity of Vancouver, we passed through the chain of
channels that divide the mainland from the long succession of islands which fringe the coast, with scarcely any
interruptions, as far as Alaska.
This land-locked strip of ocean that stretches almost
unbroken along our Pacific coast from San Juan to Port
Simpson, some 500 miles in length, is one of the most
singular water-ways in the world. On the western side
of Vancouver and of the line of islands lying to the
nO'rth, the waves of the ocean break in an unceasing roll
that, even in calm weather, strikes the shore as with the
shock of battle; but bere, inside of this breast-work of
islands,between it and the mainland, the sea is, commonly,
smooth as a canal. It is deep enough for the largest man-
of-war, even within a few yards of almost any part of the 34
shore, and yet the tiniest steam yacht runs no risk of
rough water. For pleasure sailing, this deep, smooth,.
safe, spacious, land-locked channel, or series of channels,,
is probably without a rival. Now it broadens to a width
of several miles, and again it narrows to the space of a
few hundred yards; the number of islands enabling one
to shape his course over calm water in almost any wind,
while on every hand one is girt by varied and attractive
scenery. For commercial purposes, when the mines
along the sea-board become more fully developed, its
forests more extensively utilized, and its coasting trade
increased, the value of such a highway, possessing all the
advantages of deep-sea navigation, yet protected by a
line of break-waters from all the dangers of the sea, can'
hardly be over-estimated.
Only in two places is it exposed to the gales and the
swell of the Pacific. First, from the north end of Vancouver Island, as you round Cape Caution, for a distance
of about thirty miles; and, again, fra less than ten miles,
on passing Milbank Sound. Here, with a strong westerly
wind, the sea runs high, but the surrounding land forms
a barrier against all except westerly winds. At two
places—Dodd's Narrows, near the entrance to Nanaimo,
and at Seymour Narrows, between Vancouver and Valdes
Islands,—there is, at certain conditions of the tide, a
strong current, which might cause a delay of two hours,
at the utmost, to an ordinary steamer, but the approaches VICTORIA TO TBESEEENA.
to these Narrows are so straight and wide that they
would offer no danger to navigation. For the rest, there
is no more difficulty or cause of delay than would be met
with in a deep, narrow lake.
The one discomfort, to which the traveller along this
coast is most likely to be subjected, is the moist climate,
which prevails when you pass beyond the protection of
the mountains of Vancouver. Until you approach the
northern extremity of that island, its lofty hills, some of
which are over 7,000 feet in height, intercept the showers
that drift landward from the Pacific, so that these fall
upon the western slopes of the island. Hence the eastern
coast, from Vancouver northward, enjoys a most delightful climate; but when you have passed Vancouver, the
islands to the north, being less lofty, no longer serve in
the same degree to intercept the clouds from the Pacific.
These roll inland until they strike the lofty summits of
the Coast Bange, which run close to the sea-board along
its whole length; and hence the northern part of the
coast enjoys, or rather endures, a much greater rain-fall
than either the east coast of Vancouver Island or the
southern part of the mainland. In this respect it is not
unlike some portions of the west of Scotland, where the
proverbial relief from the rain is that "whiles it snaws."
After leaving Victoria, our first place of call was
Departure Bay, a coaling station adjoining the extensive
Nanaimo coal-fields.   Nanaimo, however, is known in the 36
Eastern Provinces less by its coal-fields than by the much
disputed project of a railway to connect it with Esquimault. Had it been absolutely necessary at any cost to
build this railway, either as a separate line or as part of
the Canadian Pacific Bailway, there might have been some
propriety in the proposal; but, apart from the fact that
the country through which it would pass is one of the
most difficult of countries for railway construction, even
were it built and in working order, coal could be conveyed
more cheaply from Nanaimo to Victoria by large barges
than by rail. Fifty miles north of Nanaimo are the
coal-fields of Comox. In the various mines of these districts Indians and Chinamen are employed, as well as
white labourers. The wages of white men range from
$2 to $5 per day; the others receive from $1 to $1.50.
The day continued clear and beautiful. Sometimes we
passed close to the shore, and beneath the shadow of the
hills; sometimes by low lying islands, well timbered
with cedar; while on either hand rose a background of
snow-capped mountains,—on one side those of Vancouver'
Island, which, however, will lose their snow ere the
summer is ended, on the other hand the coast range of
the mainland, some of whose peaks remain white throughout the year.
On Tuesday night we passed through the Seymour
Narrows, that separate Valdes Island from Vancouver.
This locality, like a number of others in British Columbia, VICTORIA TO TBE SEEENA.
has attracted attention chiefly through its connection
with one of the proposed routes of the Pacific Bailway,
as any line by Bute Inlet would necessarily pass over, or
near, Valdes Island; over it if the straits were to be
bridged from the mainland to Vancouver, near it if a
ferry should be used connecting Bute Inlet with Vancouver.
Like the other fiords that cut into this rough, mountainous coast, Bute Inlet, which is about fifty miles in
length, is a narrow arm of the sea, hemmed in on either
side by lofty banks of rock, in many places precipitous,
in all places very steep, with no anchorage -except a few
chains at the head of the inlet, where the Biver Homathco
flows into it. This limited anchorage has been designated
Waddington Harbour. Near the mouth of the inlet is
Valdes Island, which, though regarded as an isolated
island until a thorough survey had been made, is really
a group of islands, separated from each other and from
the shores of the mainland and of Vancouver by wide
If an unbroken line of railway coming from the east to
Waddington Harbour were to pass over to Vancouver
and so down to Victoria, it must skirt the precipitous
side of Bute Inlet, cross by a succession of long-span
bridges to Vancouver, and run about one hundred and
seventy miles along the eastern coast of that island by
Comox and Nanaimo to Esquimault, the true harbour of wm
Viotoria. This line from Waddington to Vancouver
would involve the construction of works so stupendous as
to place it praotically out of the question; although not,
indeed, impossible to engineering science, the cost would
bo so enormous that it may well be regarded as financially
impossible, and may therefore be abandoned. The alternative is a ferry from Waddington Harbour to Vancouver,
forming a break of some seventy miles of steam navigation
as a link between the line on the mainland and the line that
would follow the coast of Vancouver to Esquimault, and
even the latter section would be so costly, owing to the
broken character of the country between Nanaimo and
Esquimault, that its construction could not be justified
unless this part of Vancouver were almost as thickly
settled as the mining districts of England, or unless there
were absolutely no other way of reaching a suitable harbour on the Pacific. A line from tho east to the excellent harbour at Burrard Inlet will be less expensive and
fifty miles shorter than one terminating at Waddington
Harbour, and as Burrard Inlet is but seventy miles
distant from Esquimault, while Waddington Harbour is
about two hundred and fifty miles, these considerations
amply justify the decision of the Government in selecting
Burrard Inlet as the terminus.
We passed through the Seymour Narrows by night,
so that we saw nothing of Valdes Island, nor of the
neighbourhood of Bute Inlet.    On  Wednesday morn- W******y.
ing we drew away from Vancouver Island, and, crossing
the entrance of Queen Charlotte Sound, we passed Cape
-Caution and entered Fitz-Hugh Sound, continuing our
■course through a succession of channels that render navigation here unusually safe and enjoyable. For a little we
felt the roll of the Pacific when passing Cape Caution,
but ere long we were in smooth water again, and even
those most sensitive to sea-sickness soon recovered their
■confidence. We found, however, as we had expected, that
when we left the shelter of the Vancouver Mountains the
■climate became much moister and a drizzling rain generally obscured our view. Sometimes, when the leaden
Tnist would lift, we could see the hills, now bare and precipitous, now wooded and gently sloping, now rugged and
snow-capped; sometimes presenting a wall of adamant,
as if defying the attacks of the ocean, and sometimes
•cleft by a deep narrow gorge, or fiord, whoso beetling
sides had opened thus far to the inroads of the sea, but
forbade any further advance.
The whole country appeared to be wrapped in silence;
no sign of life could be seen except some salmon-canning
-establishment, such as that at Cardena Bay (now called
Aberdoen), or an occasional Indian village that had
.grown up in some locality well favoured for shooting and
fishing, or had clustered around some post of the Hudson's
.Bay Company.
Thursday dawned heavy and dull as the day before, but 40
in the course of the morning the clouds lifted, the drizzling rain ceased, and as we passed through Grenville-
Channel we were favoured with wider views ofthe scenery,
which still continued to be most attractive. Sometimes-
the stretch of water broadened to several miles, its surface broken by wooded islands, whose foliage seems to be-
freshened and preserved by the moisture to which it is
exposed; sometimes it narrows to a few hundred yards,.
bound on either hand by hills, whose valleys and ravines
are channels for foaming torrents that are fed by the
snow fields above them.
About mid-day on Thursday we reached Port Essington
(formerly called Spucksute), at the mouth ofthe Skeena.
Port Essington has not many attractions. The village
consists of some fifteen or twenty houses, the best of
which is occupied by the solitary white trader of the
place, the others by Indians. The chief staple of trade,
which is also the chief article of food, is salmon, for here
as elsewhere along the coast, salmon is found in extraordinary abundance, and during the fishing season there is
a ready market for them at the small cannery, a little
north of this, known as Willaclach, called also Woodcock's
Landing, or Inverness. There is very little land in the
vicinity fit for cultivation, the country being for the most
part rugged and mountainous; but there are excellent
cedar forests close at hand, a fact that induced an enterprising firm to build a steamer here some years ago, as it «tl
was possible to bring the engines, etc., here more easily
than cedar could be conveyed to Victoria, but the price
of labour made the venture a costly and unprofitable one.
For some distance from the mouth of the river the clear
sea-water is discoloured by the dark waters of the Skeena;
indeed, the river seems to push back the sea rather than
to blend with it, for though there are the usual tidal
variations, exposing at low water a rough beach in front
of the village, yet the water near the shore is almost perfectly fresh, and is constantly used for cooking and other
domestic purposes. The large bay that receives the waters
ofthe river affords good anchorage, but it cannot be call ed a
good harbour, for not only is the access from the sea somewhat intricate, but during the winter season it is blocked
with ice brought down by the Skeena. Adjacent islands
prevent the waters of the Pacific from having much effect
upon the bay, except in the rise and fall of the tide, and
as it receives the waters of a large river that in winter
are ice-cold, and frequently blocked with ice floes, this
bay, unlike the great majority of the bays on the Pacific
coast, is ice-bound for a part of the year.
We were to leave the coast at Port Essington on om*
journey towards the Peace Biver district, but before doing,
so it was necessary for us to go as far as Port Simpson
and Work Inlet; so, having landed a party of engineers-
and their assistants, who were to work in this neighbourhood and up the river during the summer, we steamed 42
northward, arriving a little before sunset at Metlahkatlah,
where it was necessary for us to call in order to secure
Indians and canoes for our journey up the Skeena, and
where we were all anxious to visit Mr. Duncan and his
most interesting Mission-station.
Almost every one who takes any interest in Missions
to the Indians of British Columbia knows something
about Metlahkatlah; but, although we had heard and
expected much, our information and our expectations
alike fell short of the reality. There are active missions
to the Indians maintained by the Methodist Church .at
Victoria and at Port Simpson. There are missions of the
Anglican Church at Lytton and elsewhere There are
several missions maintained by the Boman Catholic
Church. But it is no injustice to these others to say that
-none of them have been so singularly successful as that
which is conducted by Mr. Duncan at Metlahkatlah.
It is in connection with the Anglican Church, in so far
as Mr. Duncan is a member of that communion and loyal
to her teaching; but, not being an ordained clergyman,
he is not subject to direct ecclesiastical authority in the
management of the mission, and is thus perfectly free to
exercise his own judgment and energy.
Though now a very active and thriving community,
Metlahkatlah must have presented a most uninviting
* ©
appearance when Mr. Duncan commenced his work there,
seventeen years ago.   Tho Tsimpseans, as the Indians of VICTOBIA TO TBE SKEENA. 43
this district are called, were at that time as fierce, turbulent, and unchaste as any of the other coast tribes, not
excepting the Haidahs. Everything had to be done, and
it was difficult to see where the work of reformation should
begin; and it required a man with strong faith in God,
and in the possibilities of human nature, to undertake
the work. Necessarily, Mr. Duncan set himself to acquire
the language of the people to whom he had come, and he
was himself the first to make Tsimpsean a written
language, or to translate into it any portion of the Scriptures ; but, while teaching them in their own tongue, he
endeavours also to secure that they all, and more particularly the young among them, shall learn English.
It has, from the first, been a leading object, with him to
draw in' the Indians from their scattered settlements
towards one or more centres, and this has been simplified
by the fact that they live largely upon fish, of which, at
any point along the coast, they can procure an abundant
supply. Hence, when the mission had been once established, the determinaticfn of any Indian to go and make
his home at Metlahkatlah was almost equivalent to a
profession of his conversion to Christianity, or at least of
his desire for Christian instruction.
One of the first reforms effected among them was in the
character of their dwellings, and the need of this is seen
from the fact that although the Indians in and around
Victoria were, when Mr. Duncan came to Metlahkatlah, 44
nominally Christian, yet, largely on account of the
slums in which they have been allowed to live, they have
made but little progress in cleanliness, and in some other
virtues that are closely allied to godliness. Indeed, one
does not need to go among Indians for illustrations of
this. Anyone who has been much among the lapsed
classes of our large cities must know that much of their
degradation is caused, or is at least increased, by their
surroundings; and it must be so with savages. Let
grown-up members of one or more families be huddled
together in the same sleeping apartments, and purity
becomes impossible. All the vices among the Indians
have not been introduced by the rough characters that
hang on the outskirts of civilization, although no doubt
many of their worst vices have been strengthened by
intercourse with whites.
To give them homes for huts was one of Mr. Duncan's
first objects, and it is surprising how much has been
effected in this respect. Not only have their original
huts given place to better houses, but these again, through
the educating influence of this improvement, have stimulated the people to take advantage of Mr. Duncan's plan
to provide still better dwellings. He desires, as far as
possible, to secure uniformity in the ■ character of the
houses, and many of the Indians, at his suggestion, havo
built comfortable dwellings on the following plan:—the
houses are built in pairs, which are connected by one com- VICTORIA TO TBE SKEENA.
mon room that serves as a guest-chamber for both
families, whei-e they may entertain their heathen friends
who have not yet fallen into their own ways. Each
house consists of two rooms on the ground floor and of
three bedrooms upstairs, one for the parents, one for the
sons, a third for the daughters. There is of course no
constraint put upon the people to make them build
houses of this kind, but they are educated into the desire
for comfortable homes, and when they have secured a
certain proportion of the cost, Mr. Duncan advances the
remainder, allowing them sawn cedar lumber at $7.00
per thousand feet. Already the result is a degree of
neatness, cleanliness and uniformity seldom found in any
of our eastern villages.
To have a busy, industrious and prosperous community
there must be men of different trades. Mi*. Duncan
found these Indians skilful in certain arts, such as weaving and carving. They weave mats from rushes or from
cedar bark, which is sometimes simply cut into strips or
sometimes passed through the'more elaborate process of
being soaked, beaten and twisted into threads. Out of
this matting they make baskets, floor-cloths, cargo-covers,
etc., for it is so closely woven that it is impervious to
water. They carve wood and silver with considerable
ingenuity, the former chiefly for door-posts and other
ornaments in connection with their houses, the latter
principally for bracelets, the favourite pattern being the
beaver, though they sometimes adopt the pattern of the
eagle from tho United States half-dollar piece. These
bracelets are frequently purchased and worn as curios by
white visitors.
While maintaining the arts and trades which he
found in existence among them, Mr. Duncan introduced
the ordinary trades of Anglo-Saxon communities, some
of which he learned in order that he might instruct the
Indians, while in others he has secured instruction for
his flock by sending some of their own number to Victoria
to be taught. For the greater convenience and better
training of these, a series of excellent workshops has
been erected, where the smiths, coopers, carpenters,
weavers, shoemakers, etc., ply their trades, and a good
saw-mill provides all the sawn lumber used by the
There is a large, commodious and well-arranged school-
house; a town hall, to which a reading-room is attached,
and in which justice is administered; a good jail, to-
which any offenders, their number being very small, are
taken and imprisoned by Indian policemen; while
prominent for situation as for influence is the church,
a building that can comfortably accommodate 1,000
people. The edifice is most tastefully constructed,
Gothic in architecture, plain and substantial, an enduring testimony to the skill and energy of the missionary,
who was architect, clerk of works, and chief builder.   In   VICTORIA TO TEE SKEENA.
the religious services there is an utter lack of outward
show,—none of those appeals to the senses which many
regard as essential to any effective mission work among
Indians. It is the reality and not the mere ritual of religion that the missionary tries to impress upon the people.
The service of the Church of England is used; the
most simple and popular hymns are sung; and evidence
of the genuine grasp which the people take of the
instruction imparted to them is found in their diligence
and trustworthiness, which cause them to be employed
in preference to any others by those who require men to
convey goods to the interior, in their careful observance
of the Sabbath, whether at home or in the country, and
in the ability with which the better educated among
them are able to conduct services in some of the Indian
settlements which Mr. Duncan is unable to visit.
Their chief source of food and of wealth is found in the
abundance of fish,—of salmon, halibut, whales, fur-seal,
sea-otter, etc.,—which are obtained around the coast.
These they exchange for goods or money at the store in
the village, or with traders from other parts of the
country. Formerly they used to go in large numbers to
Victoria to sell and buy, and these visits frequently
proved injurious to the virtue of both men and women.
It was necessary, if possible, to remove this temptation,
and therefore Mr. Duncan established a store at Metlahkatlah, where all that the community could require 48
might be purchased as reasonably as at Victoria. The
necessity for their annual visits to the temptations ofthe
capital has thus been removed, and, although some critics
have found fault with Mr. Duncan for engaging thus far
in mercantile pursuits, yet anyone who understands the
circumstances can see that the step was necessary in the
interests of his mission.
Other centres besides Metlahkatlah have been chosen
for similar mission work, and there are at present, in
connection with this mission, stations at Fort Eupert,
V.I., at Masset in Queen Charlotte Islands, and on the
Biver Nasse.
Considering the former state of affairs among the
Tsimpseans, as illustrated in what has until recently
prevailed, and even to a great degree still prevails
among the Haidahs, and contrasting with that their
present condition,—the chastity of the women, the
steady, honest industry of the men, the thrift and cleanliness of all,—it is not to be wondered at that tho people
are intensely attached to Mr. Duncan, or that every
visitor speaks with cordial praise of this indefatigable
missionary, and of the success with which God has
crowned his devoted and stout-hearted labours.
Around Metlahkatlah some attempts have been made
at gardening. Vegetables are grown with fair success,
especially potatoes, but, with the exception of a few
occasional patches of tolerable soil, the country in this VICTORIA TO TEE SKEENA.
neighbourhood is unfit for cultivation, and, beyond the
resources of the fisheries and of the cedar forests, offers
few inducements to settlers.
We had had rain for the two preceding days, but our
evening at Metlahkatlah was fair. Mr. Duncan kept a
weather record for one season, from October till April,
and found that for those seven months only an average
•of seven days per month were fair, and, after a residence
of seventeen years in this locality, he thinks that this is a
fail- average proportion of fine weather for that part of the
year, but that the proportion of wet weather during the
remaining months is not so large. Yet, although the rainfall is apparently heavy, the climate seems to be healthy,
if one may judge from the fresh and vigorous appearance
of the people, and those resident here say that the cold
is not more severe than in the southern parts of the
To Canadians along the Atlantic seaboard it may seem
strange that the climate on our Pacific Coast should be
so mild—that the harbour of Port Simpson, for instance,
in latitude 54° 30', is never frozen—and that it enjoys a
climate as mild as that of Halifax, although ten degrees
north of Halifax, that is, as much further north of Halifax as Halifax is of the lower part of North Carolina.
The climate of this whole coast, however, is made much
more temperate than that of the same latitude on the
Atlantic by reason of the Kuro-Siwa, or warm oceanic 50
I  II <
current, which, flowing northward along the coast of
Japan, washes the shores of the Aleutian Islands and
sends its influence as far as the coast of British Columbia;
while, at the same time, there is no Arctic current flowing down our Pacific seaboard as there is along our
Atlantic shores.
Before leaving Metlahkatlah we arranged for the employment of two canoes and two crews of Indians for
our trip up tho Skeena, Mr. Duncan's Indians, as they are
commonly called, being most reliable. At daybreak on*
Friday morning we continued our journey to Port Simpson, about twenty-five miles north of Metlahkatlah, which
we approached by Cunningham Passage, between Finlayson Island and the mainland, and entered through
Dodd's Channel.
Port Simpson is a small village that has gathered around
an old Hudson's Bay Company's post (from which it is
sometimes called Fort Simpson), occupied almost entirely
by Indians. Here, as at many points along the coast, the
Indians have become accustomed to cash payments in
trade, although in tho interior they generally adhere to the
old system of barter. At one time articles were valued
here according to the number of seals that they were
worth, or the number of them that a seal might be worth,
just as the Indians of the Peace Eiver district still
measure the value of an article by beaver skins. At a
later period the blanket was the chief currency, and 4fci
a canoe or seal skin was worth so many blankets or fractions of a blanket. Now, however, the Indians of the
coast, like the U. S. Government, have come down to
specie payment.
The harbour of Port Simpson is easy of access for
steam navigation from the south through the channel by
which we approached it, and easy of access to sailing
ships or steamers approaching it from the west through
Dixon's Straits, that separate the Queen Charlotte Islands
from Alaska; and it is as safe as it is accessible. Facing
the west it has two approaches: Dodd's Passage, between
the southern extremity of the harbour and a reef of rocks,
and Inskip Passage, which separates this reef of rocks
on its northern side from Birnie Island; while, between
Birnie Island and the northern extremity of the harbour
there is a choked passage, unfit for any navigation except
that of canoes or other light craft. The reef of rocks,
although hidden at high tide, is traceable at low water on
account of the kelp attached to it. It serves as a partial
breakwater for any sea that might roll in from the Pacific,
while Birnie Island further protects the harbour on the
western side. Its only exposure is in the direction ofthe
approach known as Inskip Passage, but no severe gales
ever visit it from that quarter. Finlayson Island and the
Dundas Islands protect it to the south-west and south,
while any gales from the north-east, east, or south-east,
(the prevailing quarters for high winds in this locality), 52
can scarcely have any influence upon it, as it is so well
defended on those sides by the high surrounding land.
The extent of the harbour may be set down at not less
than three miles in length, with an average breadth of
one mile. Its anchorage is reported to be excellent by
Captain Lewis of the Olympia, one of the most experienced navigators of those waters.
Port Simpson was, until the recent decision of the
Government, considered by some a possible terminus of
the Canadian Pacific Bailway. If trade with Asia were
the chief consideration in tbe selection of an ocean terminus, Port Simpson must unquestionably be preferred to
either Burrard Inlet or Esquimault, as it is easier of access
than Esquimault, as large as Burrard Inlet, if not larger,
and as safe as either of them; while, in point of latitude, it
is much to be preferred, as a vessel sailing from this port
could at once take advantage of the northern circle and
so shorten the distance very greatly in crossing to the
coast of Japan or China, and the same advantage would
be enjoyed by any vessel bound for this port from the
western coast of the Pacific. At the same time, the
chain of channels that stretches from Victoria to Port
Simpson affords remarkable facilities for coast navigation, and brings Port Simpson within comparatively
easy access of the southern parts of the Province. Indeed,
in view of the difficulties, amounting almost to impossibilities, that would have to be encountered in the con- VICTORIA TO TEE SKEENA.
struction of a line by Bute Inlet to Esquimault, Burrard
Inlet and Port Simpson may fairly be regarded as the
only two points worthy of serious consideration in the
selection of a Pacific terminus for our Canadian Pacific
Bailway. But, while probably fewer engineering difficulties would be experienced in reaching Port Simpson
from the east by way of Pine Biver Pass than must be
encountered in reaching Burrard Inlet by the Yellow
Head Pass, yet, as the resources of British Columbia are
confined almost entirely to the southern part of the Province, as the country between Pine Biver and Port
Simpson seems to be generally deficient in resources, as
the selection of Port Simpson would necessarily throw the
traffic of Southern British Columbia into the United States
railways, and as the interests of the country on the
eastern side of the Bocky Mountains will be better served
by a line running through Edmonton and the Yellow
Head Pass than by one through the Peace Biver district
(by either Pine Biver or Peace Biver Pass) to the Pacific,
the weight of argument is in favour of the decision
already arrived at by the Government in the selection of
Burrard Inlet as the Pacific terminus of the railway.
From Port Simpson we steamed around by Cape Mas-
kelyne into Work Channel, which runs in a south-easterly
direction nearly parallel to the Pacific for about thirty
miles, thus forming the Tsimpsean Peninsula. This
peninsula is about twelve miles in width from near the 54
mouth of the Skeena to Cape Maskelyne. Work Channel
has never been fully surveyed. It seems to be similar to
many others ofthe deep inlets that run into the mountains
along this coast, and that have often been likened to the
fiords of Norway. The banks are precipitous, although
along the south-westerly shore there runs for the most
part a ledge or bench, while, near Port Simpson, the land
dips, so that from the head of the inlet a road might be
constructed without extreme difficulty along the southwesterly shore of the inlet and through this valley to Port
Simpson. At the head, or south-eastern extremity of the
inlet, a stream enteis from the south, and up the valley of
this stream there is a pass at low altitude connecting by a
few miles Work Inlet with the river Skeena.
As we were returning to Port Simpson, the drizzling
rain, which had fallen more or less steadily since Wednesday morning, ceased; the clouds broke away; the sky
grew clear, and the day became bright and fair as an
EngHsh May day. Steaming around Cape Maskelyne,
we could see along the coast of Alaska for many miles,
and as wo turned south and passed Port Simpson, the
harbour and its surroundings appeared to great advantage.
The sea was calm; the rugged hills were purpled by the
light of the westering sun, as we ran down along the
coast past Metlahkatlah and Willaclach to Port Essington,
where we landed on the afternoon of Friday, the 6th June.
Before leaving the Olympia we wrote to our friends in VICTORIA TO TBE SKEENA.
-the east, thinking that this might be the last chance we
could have of sending word to them before reaching
the telegraph station at Edmonton, east of the Bocky
Mountains. The engineering party, who had landed at
Port Essington the day before, were already under canvas.
They asked us to share their camp, for they were " on
hospitable thoughts in-tent," and we gladly availed ourselves of the offer. Next day we were to commence our
journey up the Skeena. CHAPTER   UL
Leave Port Essington.—Canoes, Crews, and Stores.—No Trout.—
Tracking and Poling.—Indian Watch-tower.—Catching and
Curing Salmon.—Carved Posts.—Burial Customs.—The Sweating-booth.—Height of Steam Navigation.—Division of Coast
and Cascade Bange.—Indian Villages.—Gold-washing.—Medicine-man.—The Forks of Skeena.—Lip-ornaments and Noserings.—Mosquitoes.
We left Port Essington on Saturday, 7th June, eastward bound, our proposed route being up the Skeena,
to the village of Hazelton; thence on foot to Babine; up
Lake Babine; down Stewart's Lake to Fort St. James;
across country with a mule train to Fort McLeod; down
the Parsnip and Peace Bivers to Dunvegan ; thence on
to Edmonton, and across the prairies to Winnipeg.
We were not in search of adventure, and the work
in which we were engaged was not one that would
naturally involve us in thrilling episodes or hair-breadth
escapes, while we had large enough crews and sufficient
creature-comforts to spare us any real hardship. Yet
our journey had the attraction of novelty.   We would PHOTO.UTH BY THE BURLAND UTM CO MONTREAL  J7P TEE SKEENA. 57"
see the country; our engineers would examine its fitness
for railway construction; our geologist would take note
of its mineral and agricultural resources; and we would
learn something of the character and life of the inhabitants. Indeed, from the mouth of the Skeena to Fort
St. James the country was so little known that any
information we could obtain beforehand was most fragmentary, while of a large portion of it there was not
even a correct map to be had, the best, Trutch's, requiring considerable alteration so far as this northern part
of the Province is concerned.
Our first duty, preparatory to leaving the coast, was to
examine our canoes, make the acquaintance of the crews,
and see that all our stores were safely on board. The
boats are spoken of as canoes, but they are very
different from the birch-bark canoes of the eastern
Provinces, as they are made of wood, sound and firm,
capable of as rough usage as any wooden boat. They
are, however, neither carvel nor clinker-built, but simply
" dug-outs," each one being made of a cedar log. When
the log has been shaped and hollowed, it is filled with
water into which highly heated stones are dropped.
The wood is thus steamed, the steaming process being
sometimes assisted by a gentle fire beneath the boat;
the sides in this way become pliable and are extended;
the seats are forced in; and the thin, tough shell of cedar,
retaining the shape which it has thus received, serves as 58
an excellent boat. Sometimes these canoes are as much as
sixty feet long, and capable of carrying several tons of
freight, and .1.1-0 so safe that the Indians of Queen Charlotte
Islands use them in whale-fishing and in making long
journeys down the coast. They are usually modelled
with taste and skill. Before the Indians had iron tools
they used to make their canoes, carve their door-posts,
and do all their other work in wood with such rude instrument- as a chisel of flint or of elk-horn, fastened in a wooden
handle or held by a haft of twigs, a stone mallet, a
mussel-shell adze and a gimlet of bone; and yet, with
these and with the assistance of fire they produced
excellent work.
Wo had two canoes, twenty-five feet keel and of about
four feet eight inches beam, with five of a crew in each,
irrespective of our foreman and our cook. They were
capital fellows as indeed the Metlahkatlah Indians generally are. Somo of them had retained their old Indian
names, some had received " Boston " names, as English
words are commonly called by tho Coast Indians, probably
from the fact that the first vessels navigated by white
mon sailing to the Columbia Biver hailed from Boston.
In one boat were Yilmauksh, Matthias, Beuben, Theodore,
and Christopher; in the other Kamigham, Highsh,
Charles, Henry and Oswald.
Our most essential stores were flour, bacon, beans and
tea, which form the staple food of travelling parties OP TEE SKEENA. 59
throughout the interior of British Columbia Of these it
was necessary for us to take a goodly quantity, as we
could not expect to add to our supplies before reaching Fort St. James, which might possibly take five
or six weeks. Not only are extra stores valuable in
case of delay, but they are also of great use in dealing
with the Indians, a little flour, tea, or tobacco, being
more serviceable than money in purchasing salmon or
such other commodities as the Indians might have to
barter. Our crews, who would be fed from our stores,
took with them as delicacies a quantity of dried oola-
chans and of dried herring spawn with dulse,—delicacies
that we had no desire to share with them.
For several miles before it reaches the sea the Skeena
is nearly two miles in width. Its banks are lofty, the
hills on the north side sloping gently to the water,
which is so shallow that at low tide a great breadth of
beach is laid bare. In passing up we could see on either
side of Work Channel some of the hills that we had been
admiring the day before, as a narrow neck of land, not
more than three hundred feet in height divides the
Waters of the river from those of the inlet.
As we started up the river we had the tide in our
favour, for the tide makes itself felt for over twenty
miles above Port Essington, and as there was a light
breeze blowing up stream we set the small sprit-sails,
thus making   easily about   eighteen  miles   before  we 60
pitched camp for the night. When camp had been
pitched and supper ended, we observed that, in one
respect at least, our men were more luxurious than ourselves. They were all provided with feather pillows,
though for each of us a coat was a soft enough substitute.
Their tents gave but a partial protection against the
weather, being simply the two boat-sails spread liko an
awning, beneath which they slept five in a row; their
blankets were so short that their feet remained uncovered ; but of this one comfort they made sure, each head
with its mass of dense black hair was softly pillowed.
We camped near a stream that looked as if it might
be well stocked with trout, but an hour's careful fishing
failed to secure a single rise. Indeed this was the case
with every tributary of the Skeena on which we cast a
fly; tempting and likely as the stream might appear,
we could never find the slightest indication of fish. The
morning had been dull and overcast, but the afternoon
and evening were beautifully clear. The light of the
setting sun lingered on the snow-clad peaks; gradually
the tints of the clear sky changed; the stars appeared,
and after a long | confab" around the camp-fire,—the first
of many camp-fires around which the evening hours
were spent,—all was silent and still.
The next day, like all our Sundays, was a day of rest.
The Indians joined in our service, and, though unaccusr
tomed to converse in English, they united audibly in the UP TEE SKEENA.
Lord's Prayer, and sang a number of English hymns,
which they had been in the habit of singing at Metlahkatlah. Some of them had excellent voices, and they had been
trained to sing in parts. The bass was particularly
good; and as we listened to them, or joined with them,
we felt that it would be very difficult to find a congregation in our eastern Provinces from which we could
select, at random, ten such good singers as our canoe-
Next morning we found the proverbial difficulty,
-which many travelling parties have experienced, of
making an early start on the Monday, as if all were
anxious to enjoy a continuance of the Sabbath rest.
Our canoeing nours were from 7 a.m. till 4 p.m., with an
hour at mid-day for lunch, and as the Skeena, like all
the rivers along the Canadian Pacific coast, ie very
rapid, our ascent was slow, usually averaging about
eleven miles a day.
Various means, besides the ordinary use of the paddles, were necessary for propelling the canoes. Sometimes, when a favourable beach gave the opportunity, the
men " tracked"—that is, dragged the canoe by a
tow-rope, in the same way as is done with ordinary
canal boats,—but frequently, where the bank was too
precipitous, or the overhanging woods were too dense to
allow tracking, "poling" became necessary. Each man
is provided with a hemlock pole, from ten to fourteen 62
feet in length, some extra ones being kept on hand in
case of loss or breakage. A strong steering oar has
been lashed to the cross-bar at the stern, for in some
places a paddle for steering purposes would be as feeble
as a feather, and if the canoe were to sheer ft might
involve an upset. The men lay themselves to their
work, poling against the stream as if they were straining their strength to the utmost, and the poles seem to
grip the gravelly bottom, while the current makes them
quiver and rattle against the side of the canoe. Foot
after foot is gained, but the current grows stronger, for
we are nearing a rapid. With that powerful spurt for
which the Indian is remarkable, each man draws on his
reserve strength, and, as he bends to the gunwale, he
lays out every ounce of his force upon the pole, as if the
pole were a spear transfixing a dragon more formidable
than any that St. George ever encountered. Perhaps it
may be necessary for the men to spring out and seize
the canoe; this they do most nimbly, and then fairly
lift her up as they press forward, although themselves
nearly overborne by the rushing water. IS a strong
breeze be blowing in our favour, we hoist our sail; then,
at it we go,—sail, wind, and poles against the force of
the river. The wind scatters the spindrift from the
rough water around us, as it does in a storm at sea. The
mast and sails seem to be strained to the uttermost,
although, perhaps, these,  like their   owners,  have   a UP TBE SKEENA.
reserve supply of strength, which only a further necessity can disclose. Even the Indians appear excited,,
while to us the situation has at least the charm of
novelty. Up, up, we go, each moment expecting that
something will give way, until we have passed the
rapid. Then it may be necessary to cross the river.
The poles are dropped ; the paddles are snatched, and
flash out like sword-blades. For a few moments we
are borne backwards, but the calmer water which
•tempted us across is soon reached, and each man gives
a hearty " ho 1 ho! " and braces himself for another
pull, or to fight the next rapid that may be waiting for
us in this up-hill navigation.
For about eighty miles from the coast, the river is
dotted with islands that have been. formed by the rich
alluvial deposits borne down by the stream, and that are
now covered by a luxuriant growth of timber, chiefly
cotton-wood, spruce,—which sometimes measures six
feet in diameter,—aspen, willow, with occasional hemlock
and cedar. We frequently followed the narrow channels
between these islands, where the water is calmer than in
the open current, or, if swift, is more easily mastered
than the full force of the river The foliage on either
side, which sometimes almost met in an arch above
us, was rich and varied, and the sun-light streaming
through the trees burnished the leaves and east a network of Shade on the water that swept beneath them. <64
The banks were rich with crab-apple trees, currant,
cranberry and raspberry bushes, and strawberries in
blossom, etc., and vegetation appeared to be at least as far
advanced as it is at the same date in Ontario. The hills
on both sides become more precipitous as we ascend,
being generally covered to the snow line with spruce
and cedar, except where an avalanche of snow or a landslide has swept away all the timber, and exposed the
bare rocks. The river, from bank to bank, often
widening to a span of a mile, is fringed with well-
wooded flats, which, like the numerous islands, though
Apparently fertile, are liable to inundation every year.
If any object, such as the reclamation of land, or the
•construction of a road, were to be served by it, tho bed
■of the river might at many points be narrowed with no
gpreat difficulty by blocking up the channels between the
northern shore and the nearest islands, where the water
is usually very shallow.
About thirty-six miles from the sea stands a rocky
bluff, some eighty feet in height, in front of a precipitous
hill, to which our attention was directed by one of our men,
whose father had bidden him look for it, as historic
memories were connected with it. For years it had been
used as a watch-tower by the Indians of this district, from
which to see the approach of the Haidahs, who made
plundering visits to the mainland from their ocean homes
on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and who frequently ex-j
"tended their raids for some distance into the interior.
On a narrow level surface, at the top of the bluff, we
ibund a small hollow, or basin, perfectly circular, a foot
in diameter, and five inches in depth, which had been
liewn out of the rock, and had no doubt been used in
•olden times as a bowl in which to grind " wundah."
Wundah is a plant which the Indians use for chewing, as
anany use tobacco, and is much relished by the coast
"tribes. In many a house among the Tsimpseans, one
may find a curiously carved stone bowl, made specially
for this purpose, and each evening the Indian's wife, in
"token of her affection for, or subjection to, her lord, grinds
*ap and prepares his " quid " of wundah. Among the
•earth near the summit of the bluff we found some charcoal. This and the wundah-mortar were the only relics
of the people that may, from this rocky eminence, frequently have watched the approach of their foes, and met
"their onsets in days of yore.
Looking around from this height we seemed to be girt
about by an amphitheatre of hills, for we were already well
into the Coast Eange. Indeed, all along the Skeena the
views are very striking. Some of the summits are snowcapped, some are wooded, and some expose peaks of bare
gray rock. In the foreground are islands of rich and
varied foliage, and a broad strong river that now flows
gently by some quiet reach, and now rushes rapidly on
in a masterful current, while the birds fill the air with 66
melody such as one never hears in the woods of Ontario.-
One becomes so accustomed to these views that after a*
few days they almost lose their impressiveness, and yet
could any of the scenes through which we were passing
from day to day be transferred to our eastern Provinces,,
it would be the object of many a pilgrimage on the part
of tourists and of artists.
In our course we passed Indians engaged in fishing, for
the first run of salmon had already begun, and salmon
swarm in the Skeena, as in other rivers of British Columbia, in almost incredible numbers. Different families, or
rather, different settlements and villages, along the river,,
seem to have their separate fishing grounds, with which
others must not interfere, and in three or four weeks the
villagers may secure a sufficient supply of salmon to serve
as their chief article of food for the whole year. These
salmon may be speared, they may be caught with scoop-
net or with gill-net, but, unlike those on the Atlantic
coast, they cannot be persuaded to rise to the fly. Whether
from the turbid character of the rivers, or from some
peculiarity in the species, or from unguessed causes, the
salmon in these waters give no response to the angler, let
him cast his flies never so skilfully. In another respect
also they differ from the salmon in our eastern streams.
It seems that when they once return to the rivers to
spawn, they never go back to the ocean. Descending to
the sea when a year old they are full-grown before they UP TEE SKEENA.
return to the rivers, and they only return to spawn.
Having spawned once they die. This, at least, is the
commonly accepted theory among those that have most
carefully examined the subject; but it has not yet been
clearly proven that they do not descend to the sea under
the ice in winter, though it is manifest, from various
experiments and many observations, that they do not
return while the rivers are still free from ice.
The Indians preserve their salmon after they have
cleaned them simply by drying them in the sun, and as
the curing ground is usually near the beach, quantities of
sand are commonly blown over the fish while they are
being dried. One result of this is that the teeth of the
Indians are gradually ground down by the sand, which
has thus been incorporated with their food, so that you
can approximately tell the age of an Indian by " mark of
mouth," the teeth of the young being but slightly affected,
while those of the aged have in some cases disappeared
altogether, being worn down to the gums.
Occasionally we passed an Indian village on the banks of
the river, consisting of a few rude houses made of rough
cedar boards. Attached to some of these houses are small
potato patches, but the amount of cultivable soil here is
very limited. Each house accommodates two or more
families, and in the villages along the upper part of the
river, as in those of the Haidahs on the Queen Charlotte
Islands, almost every house is adorned .by a curiously 68
carved door-post. The figures ingeniously cut upon these
door-posts are supposed to be the heraldic bearings of
the family—the totem, as it is sometimes called, which is
occasionally tattooed upon the arm or chest of the Indian;
but as heraldry among the Indians is almost as complicated as among the nobility of England, it is difficult for
the uninitiated to understand all that is intended by these
figures. Frogs, bears, beavers, whales, seals, eagles, men,
sometimes men tapering off into fish, like the fabulous
merman, are the figures most frequently seen. Several
of these may be found on each post, the post being about
thirty feet high and two feet in diameter, the carving
being executed with remarkable skill, and wonderful expression being thrown into the faces. In some instances
the post is large enough to admit of a hole being made
through it sufficient to serve as the door-way of the house,
and this opening is usually, by a quaint conceit, the
mouth of one of the carved figures. In many cases more
labour is expended on this post than upon all the rest of
the house, and although it often serves a useful purpose as part of the dwelling, it is sometimes quite
distinct, standing in front of it like a flag-staff.
Not far from any of these villages may be seen the
little cemetery, with its carved and painted monuments.
Frequently, however,, the grave of the Indian is separate
from the graves of his kinsmen, and is commonly marked
by his canoe and his gun, or in the southern part ofthe Pro- DP TEE SKEENA.
vince by the hide of his horse, his own remains being
enclosed in a rough box, which is sometimes laid upon
the ground, and sometimes interred a few feet beneath
the surface. Among some of the Skeena Indians the
remains of the dead are cremated, the charred bones
and ashes being enclosed in a box which is left in the
ground near the outskirts of the village, or sometimes
attached to the carved door-posts. This practice of cremation, however, is now dying out, being more observed
among the Haidahs oi Queen Charlotte Islands than
among any others. With them^ it is said, the idea prevails
that if their enemies should secure the dead body of any
one of their tribe, they would make charms which would
render them irresistible in battle. They are^ therefore,
careful to prevent the possibility of their being conquered
by any charms or influences furnished by themselves, or
of meeting the fate of the eagle who has nursed the
pinion that impels the shaft now reddened with his life-
blood. Among the Indians ofthe Stickine tribe, near the
Alaska boundary, the obsequies have in some instances
assumed a more serious aspect. It is said that on the
occasion of a chief's death among them, not many years
ago, twelve slaves were executed in order that they might
accompany their master and serve him in the spirit world;
and the slaves submitted willingly, as they preferred
death, with the prospect of continuing in the service of
the old chief, to life with the prospect of serving his suo- 70
cessor. Where the Indians are becoming Christians,
however, the remains of the dead are interred in
ordinary graves.
Frequently, near the villages, and sometimes, too, in
solitary and secluded spots, we passed tho remains of a
" sweating-booth," the Indian's substitute for a vapour-
bath. A few branches are fastened together like a hencoop, giving space for a man to sit and turn round in;
these are covered with blankets; stones are heated and
placed inside this enclosure; the bather, in nature's
bathing costume, creeps in, taking with him a can of
water, which he pours upon the stones. If he has supplied
himself with a sufficient number of heated stones, and a
sufficient quantity of water, or if friends will supply
these for him while he continues his bath, he may remain
there, enjoying the steaming until he is'almost exhausted
by the process. The use of the sweating-booth prevails
amongst many of the North American Indians. This and
the I pot-latch," or grand feast, at which some generous
spend-thrift or some aspirant for the chiefship spends
his little all in banqueting his friends, are the supreme
luxuries of an Indian's life.
About seventy miles from the sea stands the little village
of Kitsumgallum, the highest point ever reached by
steamer on the Skeena. In 1866, the stern-wheel steamer
Mumford came up thus far with supplies for those engaged
in constructing the telegraph line which was projected UP TBE SKEENA. 7l
from the United States, through British Columbia and
Alaska, to the northern parts of Asia. In 1865 the
Western Union Telegz*aph Company of the United States,
probably the most powerful corporation of tho kind in
the world, commenced explorations with a view towards
.the construction of an overland telegraph, which, by way
of Behring Straits, was to unite the old and new worlds.
After the expenditure of three millions of dollars, the
scheme was abandoned, owing to the success ofthe Atlantic
cable. To construct and maintain this telegraph it was
necessary to clear a wide track on either side of the proposed line, which is now known as the " telegraph trail,"
running from Quesnel by Fort Fraser and the valley of
the Watsonquah, near the Forks of the Skeena, as far
north as Fort Stager, some forty miles beyond Hazelton.
Before the project was abandoned the line had been completed as far north as Quesnel, and this portion became
eventually the property of the Government of British
Columbia, and was by them transferred to the Dominion
Government; but beyond Quesnel the only remnant of
this expensive undertaking is the trail which was cut
in connection with the work of construction.
A little beyond the point where the Mumford was compelled to stop, we were able, from a hill some 250 feet in
height, to trace, for some distance, a valley which encloses
Lake Lakelse, to the south of the Skeena, and which
leads through from the Skeena to Kitimat, at the head of MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
Douglas Channel, an arm of Gardner Inlet. This pass-
would connect the waters of the Skeena at this point
with the tide-waters of the Pacific, by a much nearer
route than that which we had followed; but the harbour at
Kitimat is much inferior to that of Port Simpson, and its-
approach from the ocean is more difficult. Indeed, a>
general depression may be traced in a direction somewhat
similar to that of the coast line along the valley of the
upper waters of the Nasse Biver, and by the streams and
lakes which at Kitsumgallum connect it with the Skeena,
thence by the valley just mentioned to Kitimat, on the
northern arm of Gardner Inlet, down to the south arm of
that inlet, and from that point to the head of Dean Channel, and even to the southern extremity of Bentinck Arm.
This depression is not clearly indicated in the published
maps of British Columbia. It cannot properly be called
a valley, but if we may suppose the general level of the
land to be lowered by, say, 1,500 feet,—and the average
level of British Columbia, exclusive of any portion of the
Peace Biver district, is estimated at little short of 3,000
feet above the sea,—there would be traceable among the
remaining elevated ridges a valley or chain of valleys in
the direction indicated. This depression seems to mark
off the mountains between it and the coast as somewhat
distinct from those lying to the east of it, which are more
properly known as the Cascade Bange. A fuller examination than has yet been made, both geological and DP TEE SKEENA.
topographical, would, however, be required before this distinction could be decidedly drawn between the so-called
Coast and Cascade Banges. At the same time, it may be
noticed that in going up the Skeena the highest mountains
east of this line have a somewhat different appearance
from those west of it, the summits being loftier and more
peaked than those nearer the coast.
At two places in our ascent of the river it was necessary for us to make a portage—first, at the Tsipkeagh
Falls, or Bapids, a little above Kitsumgallum, and again
at Kitsilas, some miles further on. At Tsipkeagh we
required not only to carry our cargo, but also to drag our
canoes overland some thirty or forty yards to the calmer
water above. The river as it passes over these falls is
not more than 500 yards wide, hemmed in by a ledge of
rock on either shores and with wooded islands in the
broad reaches above and below. On the southern ledge,
as at the upper end of almost every island that is exposed
to the main current of the river, there are huge piles of
worn and shattered trees, the accumulated drift of years,
borne down by freshets and left stranded by the receding
At Kitsilas, when the water is high, a portage of nearly
a quarter of a mile is necessary, but in moderate water
such as we experienced, the portage can be taken in two
instalments of twenty or thirty yards each, connected by
a bay of the river.   Here there is a small Indian village,. ■74
and as we approached it we saw several persons catching
salmon with scoop-nets. We bought three twenty-five
pounders, paying seventy-five cents each for them, an
exorbitant price, but even here the first of the season
sell at fancy figures. Two or three days later, a small
piece of tobacco would be sufficient to buy the largest
salmon on the Skeena. But prices vary, depending not
so much on the supply or the demand as on the Indian's
need of what you offer in exchange, or on the prico that
he received from his last customer. Unless he happens
to want what you offer it makes little difference to him
whether he sells or not, and if any traveller going before
you has paid high prices, whether for salmon or for the
hire of men or of canoes, you need not expect to pay
On a nameless stream near Kitsilas some gold miners
had been prospecting shortly before we passed. They
found little more than the " colour " of gold—that is, the
small sand-like particles which, though of no great value
in themselves, indicate the presence of gold, in greater
or less quantities, in the rocfc from which these particles
have been washed down. Gold " colour " may be obtained
in almost any rive-* of British Columbia by washing the
dark sand to be seen at the upper extremities of the sandbars, the darkest sand being that of the magnetic iron
ore which has been borne down from some of the rocky
beds, or sides, of the river.  When any quantity of earth DP TEE SKEENA.
is washed in a pan exposed to the current, this dark
sand, being heavy, sinks to the bottom of the pan, and
all else can be gradually separated from it, while, if there
is any gold dust, it will sink in the washing and be found
in the dark sand, where it may be readily detected.
Should this " colour " be plentiful, it may lead to further
exploring, and perhaps to successful mining. No success,
however, has hitherto attended the efforts of miners on
the Skeena.
Above this the river becomes narrower, for the most
part not more than from 300 to 500 yards in width. The
banks are still fringed by flats, but there are fewer islands
dotting the surface of the river, so that the landscape
loses, to some degree, the attraction of the rich groves
of cotton-wood with which for a few days we had been
familiar. Sometimes these flats, or plateaux, which are
several hundred yards in width, and which are here
exposed to inundation, are heavily timbered, and their
number and extent increase as we ascend the river, the
timber including spruce, hemiock, cedar, aspen, and, less
frequently, Douglas pine, birch and mountain ash.
Nearer the river-banks, where tho soil has probably
been cleared of its timber through fire set hy the Indians
in order to secure a larger growth of berries, the flats are
usually rich with pea-vine, strawberries, raspberries,
gooseberries, and with a great variety of wild flowers,
such as the rose, columbine, linnea, violet, anemone, etc 76
Some of these flats appear well fitted for cultivation.
They are of light loam, covering a sandy soil about two or
three feet in depth upon a gravel bed, and wherever
cultivated, as at the scattered Indian villages along the
river side, they yield good crops of potatoes, nothing else'
apparently being attempted.
We passed through the narrows known as Quotsalix
Cafion on the afternoon of Wednesday, 18th June. As we
approached the canon, our attention was attracted by a
glacier which we saw up the course of a tributary stream
that flows in on the north bank. It was too far away,
however, to admit of close examination. There are several scattered houses at this narrow part of the river, and
rocky ledges running down to the water's edge give it the
character of a cafion, though only on a small scale. Above
these, the nearer hills are, for the most part, rounded,
with gentle slopes towards the flats that fringe the river,
while the remoter hills are lofty, with rugged, serrated,
snow-capped peaks. One of these summits, named Ish-
ganisht, which approaches the river bank more closely
than the others, is the grandest we saw in our course up
the Skeena. It terminates in a cluster of snow-clad peaks,
whose valleys, forming a semi-circle, enclose a glacier.
Beyond this are some distinctly marked benches, or terraces, while, further up, the country appears more open,
until on reaching Kitwongah we found a wide stretch
on either side, apparently suitable for cultivation. UP TBE SKEENA.
Kitwongah, about forty miles above Kitsilas, is a little
Indian village containing about twenty houses, each
house representing several families, and distinguished
chiefly for its numerous and curiously carved door-posts.
Attached to one of these posts we saw a rude box, about
the size of an ordi"Sry tool-chest, said to contain the
cremated remains of an old Indian, and outside of the
-village several such boxes may be seen left on the ground
and exposed to the weather. From Kitwongah there is
a trail running northerly to the Nasse Biver, which meets
one running in from Kitsigeuchlah, and, further on, one
running in from Kispy-ox. NeaaPthe junction of these
trails the Bev. Mr. Tomlinson is establishing a mission
connected with the mission at MetlahSalah. The place
is well suited for such a purpose, as there is a great deal
of traffic along these trails, and many others besides the
residents in these localities might thus come under th©
missionary's influence; while, at the same time, the
neighbourhood is said to be better suited for farming
"than any other locality in this district.
Camping on the plateau opposite Kitwongah we heard
at night, when retiring, a tum-tumming as if on some
sort of tambourine, accompanied by a chanting sound,
as of the human voice. We thought that the natives
might be having a dance, but on hearing the same
sounds next morning, from the time we rose until we left
camp, we fancied that even Indian dissipation would not 78
keep up such revelry all night. We found on enquiry
that it was the work of the medicine-man, who was
practising on some sick person according to the usual
method of the native doctors. They do not prescribe any
medicine; they simply rattle sticks upon a small drum,
or tambourine, and howl in a most melancholy manner,
thinking that by such means they can banish the evil
spirit by whom they suppose the disease to have been
caused. After the medicine-man leaves, some old woman
may administer a preparation of herbs, which has possibly a healing effect, but if the patient recovers it is not
the nurse, but the medicine-man, who receives the credit,
whereas if the patient dies the medicine-man is praised
for his bravery in attacking so formidable a spirit. In
either case it is for him a game in which he may win, but
cannot lose, while the sufferer might well pray for death
to release him from the torment of such an attendant.
The next village reached by us was Kitsigeuchlah.
Approaching it we had an exceedingly tough stretch of
tracking for a mile and a half, and then crossed the river
just below the village where it is about 150 yards wide
and where the water is very wild and the current strong,
rolling like the sea in a storm. In such a place a false
move on the part of i the steersman would speedily send
each man struggling with the stream on his own account;
but wo were in the hands of skilful canoemen. Seven
years ago Kitsigeuchlah was burnt down, the fire having DP TEE SKEENA.
spread from a mining camp in the neighbourhood at a
time when the Indians were away salmon-fishing. They
suffered severely for a season through this disaster, but
the Government allowed them some $500 damages, and
the village has recently been rebuilt. Just beyond the
village is the river of the same name that flows in from •
the south, and above its entrance, on both banks of the
Skeena, there is a vein of carbonaceous slate, with sandstone, iron-stone and clay. We found a small quantity
of inferior coal cropping out of the surface, but further
examination would be requisite to ascertain if there is
any large deposit in this vicinity.
From Kitwongah to the Forks, on the north side of
the river, a distance of about twenty miles, there is an
almost continuous stretch of plateau, broken only by
occasional ridges, while apparently a valley runs in a
direct line between these two points, some distance back
from the winding valley of the river. The district
enclosed between these two valleys, with the exception
of a hill rising out of the centre of it, seems to be suitable for cultivation. Possibly this upper part of the
Skeena may compare favourably in point of agricultural
resources with some of the restricted cultivable southern
portions of the Province, but as yet there has been
scarcely anything done here by white men in the way of
farming, and the small potato-patches of the Indians do
not supply sufficient data to warrant any decided opinion. 80
Working up the river above Kitsigeuchlah, and passing
several rich flats, similar to those we had already seen,
we reached tho Forks of the Skeena on the afternoon of
Saturday the 21st June. The village stands at the
junction of the Skeena and Watsonquah; hence its name
• of " the Forks." Its Indian name is Kitunmax; its more
recent namo Hazelton. In front of it flows the strong
rapid river; immediately adjoining it is a stretch of
excellent land, which, where cultivated, yields abundant
crops, especially of roots and oats, though as yet no
"wheat has been tried; and, where left uncultivated, the
land is covered by luxuriant herbage. In rear of the
village, and surrounding this rich, flat, low land, as well
as on the opposite, or northern, bank of the river, there
are plateaux of light soil partly wooded, which give
■every promise of good returns if cultivated; and in the
•distance in several directions, beyond the lower wooded
hills, there are snow-clad peaks and ranges.
At a little distance back from the village stands a
■cluster of peaks which the Indians call Nilkiawdah,
known commonly by the name Boche-Deboule', a name
which more correctly belongs to a broken mass of rock
at its base, in the canon of the Watsonquah. It is the
most striking feature of the surrounding landscape,
standing 5,955 feet above the level of the village, that
is, about 6,600 feet above the level of the sea.
The population of the village consists of about 250 UP TEE SKEENA.
individuals, with three white families, the only whites
found on the river with the exception of one family at
Port Essington. The Indians here consider themselves
quite distinct from the Coast Indians; indeed, each village
along the river is the centre, if not of a separate tribe, at
least of a separate division of a tribe, sufficiently important
to regard itself as distinct from others, with tribal rights
on land and water. It is not easy to ascertain with any
accuracy the population along the valley of the river,
but it may approximately be set down at about two
thousand, including in that number some settlements
adjacent to the Skeena.
For a time the " Forks " was looked on as a promising
village, it being the point from which a large proportion
of the supplies was portaged to the mining district of
Omenica, 200 miles east of this. Had the mines turned
out as well as was at first expected, the promised growth
and importance of the village might have been realised,
but as the Cassiar gold-fields drew away the miners, the
glory departed from Omenica, and though there are still
some fifty white men, and a smaller number of Chinamen
there, yet they are meeting with so little success that the
mines will probably ere long be abandoned.
The Indians here live in low houses, several families
in one dwelling, most of them, like the majority of those
on the Skeena, being still Pagan, though an increasing
number are Christians.   There was for a time a teacher MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
among them nominally Christian, and during his residence here many professed Christianity; but the teacher
abandoned his work, became careless, left for the mines,
and thereupon many of the Indians went back to their
old ways, and the Chief brought his Bible to one of
the white residents, saying that he did not want it any
longer if it taught men to act as the teacher had done.
H a mission station be established, as proposed, somewhere in this vicinity, it is to be hoped that the success
which has placed Metlahkatlah foremost among the missions to the Indians of North America, may be repeated
among the Indians of the interior. It is manifestly
necessary not only to instruct these men in the truths of
Christianity, but to train them in trades, in agriculture,
and in habits of settled industry. For the most part
they are peaceable and well disposed, although they are
apt to take advantage of an employer if they find him at
all in their power,—perhaps to desert him in an emergency
if he will not accede to their demands. The Achwilgates,
for instance, on the Watsonquah, sometimes ask exorbitant
charges for the privilege of crossing the river, giving the
use of their canoes as an excuse for levying heavy toll;
and their neighbours, the Kispyox Indians, imposed such
tolls ou those passing through their territory as to stop
for a time the cattle traffic which had been carried on
extensively for some years, by drovers taking cattle from
the Fraser Biyer District, by way of Watsonquah and DP TBE SKEENA.
the Upper Skeena, to the mines of Cassiar. Physically
these Indians of the interior are as active as the Coast
Indians, not apparently as strong, yet capable of carrying heavier burdens. Mentally they seem quite equal to
them, and it may reasonably be hoped that, if similar
privileges of instruction be given them, they may soon
equal the Indians of Metlahkatlah in industry and in
general good eonduct.
The climate of the Skeena valley is by no means as
pleasant as that of the southern part of the Province,
though much better than its latitude and the physical
characteristics of the country might lead one to expect.
During our course from Port Essington to the Forks,—
that is, from the 7th until the 21st June,—we had most
enjoyable weather; on four days we had slight rain; for
the remainder, though the sky was frequently overcast,
the weather was fine. The proportion of rain diminishes
towards the interior, and the snow-fall, which in some
seasons is seven or eight feet near the coast, does not
exceed three feet at the Forks. Horses have been wintered out here, though it was necessary to shovel away
a quantity of snow in order that they might be able to
feed on the grass beneath. The cold of winter is severe,
the thermometer falling frequently to 30° below zero
for several consecutive days, and sometimes as low as
45°, while it rises in summer to 90° in tho shade, and
sometimes higher, a variation very much greater than u
that of the southern part of the Province. At the same
time the climate of the Forks is said by the white residents to be very healthy, and the number of thriving
children to be met with seems to confirm this. The most
frequent complaint is ophthalmia, which prevails in
almost every Indian village, caused no doubt, or, at any
rate, increased, by the smoke of the camp-fire and of
their houses.
After our tents had been pitched, near the river's edge,
a large proportion of the inhabitants came to inspect our
premises, watching with special curiosity the labours of
the cook, as if they all expected an invitation to a grand
pot-latch. Among our visitors were some women who
wore a kind of lip ornament, which used to be much
more common among them than it now is. It consists
of a piece of wood passed through the lower lip. At first
the hole is made in the lip with a needle, and a proportionately small piece of wood, about half an inch in
length, is inserted and left there. Gradually this hole is
made larger, and, while the length of the " ornament"
remains about the same, its diameter is increased, the
desire ot the wearer being apparently to make it as large
as possible. Others of our visitors had adorned themselves with nose-rings, a favourite ornament with savages.
One of our party, who had been a great deal among
the Indians of British Columbia, showed a looking-glass,
on one occasion, to some young women who had adorned UP TBE SKEENA
themselves with nose-rings. Apparently, though familiar
with the sight of nose-rings on each other, none of them
realized until then what they looked like on themselves,
and the effect of this disclosure was that very soon afterwards they appeared without thorn. These intended
ornaments are, as may be imagined, a serious disfigurement, though, as with some absurd decorations worn by
their civilized sisters, the Indians usually regard them
as things of beauty.
Among others who came to interview us was the son
of the chief of the Achwilgatejifcibe. He was not dressed
in the traditional picturesque attire of an Indian chief;
one sees little of that phase of Indian life outside of
Cooper's novels; nor had he come to question our right
of way through the country. He was anxious simply to
hire as one of those who should " pack " for us—that is,
carry our impedimenta, consisting of tents, blankets,
baggage, provisions, etc., across to Lake Babine. We
left the management, however, of this, as of most details
of a similar nature, to our excellent foreman, McNeill,
who had long been familiar with the Indians of this part
of the Province, and who had spent two years at Fort
Stager, some distance north of this, in charge of the
supplies left there by the Western Union Telegraph
Company before they finally abandoned their project of
a great overland line between America and Europe.
We spent a Sunday at the Forks, and had service in 86
the school-house with some of the villagers, as well as
with our own crews. Throughout the day we were more
troubled with mosquitoes than during any other part of
our journey. It is a common belief among the people
of Victoria that there are no mosquitoes in the Province.
We found them, however, as active and powerful as we
had ever known them in Ontario. If, as is said, it is the
female mosquito that stings, this is the only instance in
which there appears to be a superabundance of female
labour in British Columbia CHAPTEE IV.
Our Packers.—The Trail.—Up the Susqua.—Coal.—Women Packing
and Nursing.—Skilokiss Suspension Bridge.—The Ooatzanli.—
The Nataltsnl.—Cascade Eange compared with Swiss Alps.—
Indian Legends. — Taim-Shin. — Scene on thSf'Snmmit. —
Approach Lake Babine.—Engage Crews.—Offended Chief.—
Babine Indians.—Neighbourhood of Lake
On the 23rd June we left the Forks for Lake Babine.
Early that morning we paid off our crews, and aUkr them
start for home. Theff? would go down in two and a-half
days the distance that it had taken us thirteen working
days to ascend. We had found them capital fellows,—
active, industrious and thoroughly reliable. We gave
them a cheer as they left, which was heartily returned
by them, and we then began acquainting ourselves with
our new hands. We required a considerable number to
portage our stores, etc., acroiil to Babine, for although
the trail is sufficiently good for mules, yet there iipis only
one mule in the village.
Having collected those who had engaged to go, it was
no easy matter to appofjjllon their packs, as each one 88
seemed to think he had the heaviest, and to regard
himself as the most ill-used labourer in the company.
Among our packers was the Achwilgate prince, as we
called him,—tho son and heir-apparent of the chief of
the tribe,—with his wife, who, like many of the native
women of the district, can carry a very heavy pack
without a murmur, and whom none of us was gallant
enough to relieve of her burden. We had also the
medicine-man, a strapping, sinewy fellow, with his
wife, and a number of others. Nowadays each of the
Indians of this neighbourhood restricts himself to the
possession of one wife, but formerly polygamy was common among them ; yet with them, as with the Mormons
and Turks, the number of their wives depended pretty
much upon their wealth. If a man was able to support
more than one, his ideas of propriety did not prevent
him from having several dear ones; hut, as a rule, his
means were not sufficient to meet such increase of responsibilities. Polygamy seems to have been more
common among the Coast Indians, who, from the varied
and abundant supply of fish at their doors, were more
amply furnished with tho means of supporting a family
than the less favoured tribes of the interior.
The trail which we followed is a portion of the route
which leads from the Skeena, by Babine, the Frying-pan
Pass and Lake Tatla, to the Omenica district, 200 miles
from the Forks; and, as the only rival route to Omenica FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
from the coast is the more expensive one of the waggon
road along the Fraser Biver, and the trail .from Quesnel,
this trail from the Skeena has been for some years the
highway for a good deal of traffic. Following it we
ascended at once to the plateau in rear of the village,,
from which we had extensive views of the surrounding
country, and specially fine views of the Boche-deboule'.
About two and a half miles from the Forks we struck
the old telegraph trail which runs through the valley of
the Watsonquah to Fort Stager, about forty miles beyond
this, and after following it for a mile we turned up the
valley of the Susquah, a tributary of the Watsonquah,
passing over low rolling hills that are separated by
narrow valleys, the channels of wild and precipitous
streams. On the banks of one of these streams we found
a vein of carbonaceous shale, in which a small quantity
of true coal could be detected,—another indication ofthe
possibility of finding coal measures in this part of the
country. Here and there we saw small patches that
might be cultivated, and the hill slopes, where clear of
timber, abound in pea-vine and wild grass, which afford
excellent pasture. The valley of the Susquah, however,
is not as rich as the valley of the Watsonquah. There
the grass is particularly good, but with the exception of
that, and of the land around the Forks, there seems to be
very little throughout this district that is fit for cultivation, while even of this one cannot speak with much con- ■90
fidence on account of the limited efforts hitherto made in
farming, and the probable climatic difficulties. The
wood with which hill and valley are timbered is chiefly
poplar and small-sized spruce.
We pitched camp about six miles from the Forks,
after half a day's march, it being slow work for the
packers, each with his burden of at least 100 lbs. One
of our packers was the owner of the only mule kept at
the Forks, so he took the mule to carry his burden, while
he himself walked at ease like a gentleman, the object of
general envy. Some of the other packers used their
dogs to assist them, the dog trotting along gaily with
his balanced burden on either side. Their day's work
did not prevent these dogs from barking as vigorously
as two others, idler and more indulged, that accompanied
us, and judging by the muzzles that were put on them
before the provision boxes were opened, their reputation
for honesty was of a low order.
Most ofthe men who packed for us belong to the Achwil-
gate tribe, and are accustomed to attend the services ofthe
Eoman Catholic Mission which has for some time been
established among them. It was gratifying to notice
that they had prayers each evening, one of their own
number leading their service. It is surprising how these
men pack as well as they do, and more surprising how
their wives endure such toil. They do not look very
robust, though they must be sinewy to stand it at all. POSES OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE. 91
Some of them were well up in years, having been long
accustomed to such labour • and it is quite common to see
an Indian woman carry her young child on the top of a
heavy pack, while, after climbing a hiSthat prostrates
'others for a little with fatigue, the first thing she may
have to do is to nurse her infant.i||Indeed they require
to nurse their children much longer than is necessary in
civilized communities on account of the scarcity of
suitable food for the young, their chief article of diet
being dried salmon. Their capacity for carrying heavy
burdens lies in their ability to preserve an accurate
balance rather than in any great muscular strength.
The pack rests on the back, chiefly between the shoulders, supported by a tump-line which passes in a broad
band across the forehead, and secured by the ends of
the line being tied across the chest. Sometimes the
packer may have difficulty in raising his pack, or rather
in raising himself with his pack from the sitting posture
in which it is fastened on, but once erect he moves off
nimbly with it. His ability for this kind of work is
developed from childhood, for even the little ones are
trained to carry some of the family goods and chattels
almost as soon as they can walk by themselves.
Although the walk was tiresome to the burden-bearers,
to us it was very enjoyable, our only discomfort being
caused by occasional rain, when one-was forced to recognize the strides that civilization has made in mastering 92
the difficulties which climate and temperature may cast
across the path of the traveller. Foot-travel, buck-board,
covered coach, and railway-car mark stages of progress
in the conquest of such difficulties.
■ On our second day from the Forks our cook, a Lillooet
Indian from the Lower Fraser, who had been with us all
the way from Port Essington, returned to the Forks,
partly in order to join another party there, but partly
also because he felt somewhat afraid to accompany us
further with the prospect of returning alone among the
Kispyox Indians, through whose territory we were
travelling; for there is still among the Indians of one
tribe a lingering jealousy, if not a positive enmity,
towards those of another, often preventing them, unless
when under the protection of white men, from crossing
into each other's territory. In view of the necessity of
his leaving us we had secured another at the Forks, a
good-humoured, active fellow; and indeed he required
to be active, for he had a large family to cook for, as the
Indians received food from us in addition to wages, and
they are as capable as most men for discharging the
duties of the table.
About seventeen miles from the Forks we crossed the
Skilokiss by an Indian suspension bridge ingeniously
made. Four large cotton-wood trees had been felled
and trimmed, two on each side of the stream. These
projected from the banks until they met and overlapped. FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
They were then lashed together midway across the
stream, the lower portions, lying on the bank, having been
heavily weighted with logs and stones to prevent the
bridge from sagging; a rail and platform were added, and
the whole structure completed without a nail or spike, the
fastenings being of roots and of tough inner bark. This
is a common Indian method of constructing bridges,
although sometimes tho trees that form the main supports instead of being placed level are set at an angle
from the banks so as to form an arch from which girders
are suspended that serve as supports for a level platform.
After following for some distance the valley of tho
Susquah the trail leads up the valley of a tributary
stream, the Ooatzanli, running along the face of a low
range of hills. Ascending we found that the views,
looking westwards along the course we had traversed,
grew more and more attractive. On the opposite side
of the river stands the Nataltsul, a cluster of peaks, the
loftiest of which cannot be less than seven or eight
thousand feet in height, enclosing a small glacier in
a shell-shaped valley that receives the snow and rivulets
from their scarped and rugged sides.
From this westward there is a range of snow-capped
peaks and serrated ridges along the line of the Susquah,
while the view is closed by the Boche-deboule' that
stands massive, compact, well-defined, the sentinel of the
Skeena.   Sometimes the scenery becomes almost Alpine 94
in character, although it has not the sustained grandeur
of the heights of Switzerland. Anyone who has looked
from the Eighi-Kulm, upon the cloud-raked, snow-capped
summits of the Oberland Alps, or from the Gorner-Grat
on the Matterhorn, Monte Bosa, and other peaks that
encircle Zermatt, will seek in vain for similar effects
among our Canadian Alps. And yet it is not so much
great height that they lack, for beyond a certain point
the eye does not readily detect additional height; and,
besides, the contour and surroundings of a mountain may
be such as to make it more jmpressive than some loftier
summit, as the Matterhorn is more impressive than Mont
Blanc. They seem to lose in comparison with their
European rivals rather in the distance that divides
their loftier peaks and clusters, for these are not massed
as closeiy as are the heights of Switzerland. As you look
upon them you think that you can grasp their details,
and this impression weakens their effect upon you. They
lose still more in this comparison, by the fact that tho>
low ranges of intervening hills are commonly covered by
burnt and branchless trees—rampikes, as they are called,
—which have, in part, been strewn by the wind, but
which, for the most part, stand, weathering the storm,
blackened by the flames, or else bleached by sun and
rain, a picture of desolation without sublimity, and of
barrenness without relief.
Each day's march usually began for us about 8.30 a.m., FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
our pack-train having started an hour earlier. To us
the walk, or rather the leisurely stroll, was very enjoyable, as it did not need much exertion for us to keep up
with our pack-bearers, who required the relief of a frequent halt, and we would gain nothing by going away
in advance of tents and provisions. Indeed our daily
walk was little over ten miles, broken by numerous stoppages to sketch, botanize, geologize, philosophize, and
get-up-to-our-eyes in admiration of the valley that was
gradually stretching behind us.
While thus enjoying the scenery one could not help
speculating as to the possible thoughts that might flit
through the minds of our Indian fellow-travellers, marching over the country of their fathers with the burdens
ofthe white man. The scientist sees everywhere something to remind him of the laws of nature, and of prehistoric changes on the surface ofthe earth;—the pietist
may pass through the study of these same laws to Him
who first appointed them;—the poet can find, even in
the meanest flower that blows, " thoughts that do often
lie too deep for tears." Is the Indian never awakened
to reflection by the hills and streams and forests, or is
he thinking only of the weight of his pack, and of the
supper in store for him when the burden of the day shall
drop from his weary shoulders ? He knows little about
the laws of nature, little at least that would serve him
in a competitive examination, that favorite modern test 96
of knowledge, although he may know much that might
enable him, in certain cases, to distance his examiners.
His poetry and his religion are of a vague, indefinite
character, not easily ascertained except where he has
received the teaching of the white man. And yet he
retains some of the traditional beliefs of his forefathers,
which he may possibly tell you if your acquaintance with,
him is sufficiently long and intimate.
You may get from him, for instance, some of the
legends about Taim-Shin. He may tell you how this
supernatural being made the branches of the spruce
trees. Taim-Shin can assume what disguise he .chooses.
On one occasion he appeared as a little boy, in the hut
of an old woman, and asked her to let him eat and rest.
She gave him food and shelter on condition that he would
not look at what she did. His curiosity was awakened
by this demand, and, though he pretended to be asleep,
he watched her. When she thought herself unobserved
she went out to a little spring not far from her hut,
walked around it once or twice, crooning an old song.
Then, from the clear water of the spring there arose, in
the form of white Strips or ribbons, something that she
ate with evident relish. She did this several times, each
time securing a new supply of food, and then returned
to her hut. Taim-Shin had followed her unseen, and
when she was returning homeward he ran ahead of her,
and lay down, so that when she came in she thought that FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
lis sleep had been unbroken. Then she slept, and he
went out to the spring. He tried to repeat her incantations, and in response, the white substance rose from the
water, but when he attempted to eat it he found it hard
as wood. Again and again he tried, but with the same
result. Then, seizing some of the white strips, he flung
them in his disappointment at a spruce tree,—which,
like all spruce trees up to that time, had been as bare of
twig or foliage as a hewn log,—saying that they were fit
only for the woods. The ribbons hung on the trees and
became branches, and, ever since, the spruce tree has been
as it is now.
If a thunder-shower is passing the Indian's thoughts
may turn to the thunder-bird, the belief in which appears
to be common to all the Indians of the northern part of
the Province, especially to the coast tribes. The general
idea seems to be that there is a supernatural being residing among the mountains who sometimes sallies forth in
search of food, covering himself with wings and feathers
as one puts on a coat. His body is so large that it
darkens the heavens, and the rustling of his wings produces thunder. Sometimes he seizes small fish, as an eagle
would, by suddenly darting down to the sea, then he
hides them under his feathers, and, in catching a whale, he
darts one of these captured fish down with great velocity,
and thus produces the lightning.
If he hears the dismal cry of the loon, he has for that 98
also a legend. The story is that two Indians were out
fishing; the success of one provoked the jealousy of the
other to such a degree that the unsuccessful fisherman
stunned his companion, stole his fish, and then cut out
his tongue, that he might tell no tales. In answer to
any questions the mutilated man could only give a low
wail. The supernatural being who is concerned in
human affairs, known by some of the coast Indians as
Quawteaht, and by others as Taim-Shin, changed the
injured man into a loon, his assailant being changed into
a crow; and hence the dreary cry of the loon, as if it
were the wail of the tongueless.*
Perhaps some legends like these, which are common
among the Indians, may flit through their minds as they
traverse the woods and the hill sides. It is questionable
whether, apart from their Christian teaching, they had
any higher conception of a Supreme Being than that
which these legends illustrate, although, as their burial
rites and customs prove, they have always had a strong
belief in a future life. They have also a strong belief in
ghosts, and especially in the deep interest taken by
departed friends, such as husband or wife, in the affairs
of those left behind. But it is really difficult to ascertain, with any clearness or accuracy, the ideas of the
* For this legend I am indebted to Mr. G. M. Sproat's interesting
book, " Scenes and Studies of Savage Life." There seem to be several versions of the legend of the thunder-bird. FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
Indians in regard to the supernatural, partly because
theii* conceptions on these subjects are at best vague
and shadowy, and partly because they are very reticent
in speaking about them to those outside of their own
Moving along the trail at much the same pace with
ourselves was another pack-train, consisting apparently
of two native families on their way "fepfcrade with some
of the Indians of the interior in dulse and other commodities of the coast, which they might exchange either for
money or for furs. Money is much more current now
among the Indians here than it was some years ago,
numbers of them having earned considerable sums by
packing supplies for the miners and others to Omenica,
so that now, whatever they are being paid for, whether
labour, furs or other marketable commodity, they generally like to receive their pay in coin
Frequently we met parties of Indians on their return
trip, and observed that most of the women had their
faces smeared with black grease, as a precaution against
mosquitoes and black-flies, perhaps also as a beautifying
cosmetic. Whatever its value for defensive purposes, it
was not a success as ah ornament; but the mosquitoes
and black-flies along some parts of this trail were troublesome enough to justify almost any expedient that might
render them harmless.
We did not reach the summit between the Skeena and 100
Babine, until the afternoon of Thursday, the 26th. On
the way we observed a profusion of wild flowers,—lupin,
violet, forget-me-not, etc.—and on the opposite side of
the Ooatzanli we saw some small grassy meadows. The
highest point crossed by the trail is about 4,500 feet
above sea-level, or 3,850 feet above the Forks. But about
750 feet below this there is a small lake from which flow
the waters of the Ooatzanli westwards, and also those of
a small stream that flows eastwards into Lake Babine;
the level of this lake, which is about 3,100 feet above the
Forks, and about 1,550 feet above Lake Babine, is the
lowest altitude of the pass.
Each evening after camp had been pitched and the
vigorous appetite of the whole party had been appeased,
the scene was usually one of life and animation for a
little while ; and it was especially so on the evening on
which we reached the summit, as our up-hill tramp of
forty miles from the Forks was over, and from that
point to Babine, a distance of about ten miles, was all
down grade; so that on this evening in particular all
seemed in good humour. I£ any member of our party
happened to take an observation with a sextant, or if
some were comparing their aneroids, the men would
ci'owd around as if hungering and thirsting after knowledge ; and, although accustomed to conceal their feelings,
they could not help expressing their surprise when any
explanation was given of the use of the instruments. One FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
of the men, Yessen, who continued in our employ as far
as Dunvegan, succeeded so well in noting with accuracy
the readings of the aneroid, that he was frequently afterwards spoken-of as " the astronomer." In addition to the
pursuit of knowledge, the men employed the leisure of
the evening in drying their clothes, which had been
drenched with perspiration, and cooling themselves off
after their day's work. The cooling process was conducted in much the same way as it is with a race-horse
when bridle and saddle are taken oft, and a blanket is
thrown over him. Commonly the Indian has no change
of suit, but he has a blanket, and that serves the same
purpose. At these evening halts there was usually some
repairing to be done; moccasins required mending;
rents had been made in nether garments ; some of the
packs had caused blisters, so that even backs required
repairs; while, if there was nothing else to attract attention, all could find an unfailing source of interest, if not
of information, in watching the cook baking bread for
the next day's use. Gradually, however, these details
are completed; the long northern twilight and a comfortable camp fire tempt one to linger yet awhile under
the clear sky, but the blankets, spread on the spruce
boughs have strong attractions after a day in the open
air. The Christian Indians have had prayers, conducted
by one of themselves in their own language, for they
have no knowledge of ours.   We too have joined in a safij
similar service; and soon all are sleeping as soundly as
if death reigned in the camp.
Having spent a night at the summit we left next
morning with the prospect of an easy forenoon's work;
and after the dogs had ended their morning fight,—in
which "they usually indulged in the interval between the
removal of their muzzles and the adjustment of their
packs,—our train started down-hill to Lake Babine. Our
cook, Charley, whom we had hired at the Forks, a jovial
fat fellow, was the last of the train to leave. The-morning start had each day been for him a busy time, as he
felt himself possessed of a petty brief authority, which
he was careful to exercise to the utmost, and he fairly
bristled with business until all were on the move. The
personal habits of an Indian cook are not such as to prepossess one in favour of his cooking, but fresh air and
hunger destroy many seruples, and we were in hopes
that Charley might have a bath at Lake Babine, even
though it could have no retroactive influence.
We were struck with tho absence of life on the hills
that we had been traversing; with the exception of
insect life, which was painfully abundant, a few small
birds and an occasional partridge were the-only creatures that disturbed the otherwise unbroken silence,
though later on in the season bears or cariboo might be
found here. It may be, however, that game is more frequently found in this vicinity than our own experience FOBKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
-would lead us to suppose; and it is manifest from the
frequent remains of old camp fires that the trail is often
Soon after leaving the summit we caught, through
the burnt timber, glimpses of Lake Babine stretching
away below us, for the one redeeming feature of ram-
pikes is that you can see further through them than
-through leafy woods. Near the end of the hill we crossed
a stream which flows into Lake Babine from the little
lake that at its western extremity supplies the Ooatzanli,
and on the bank of this stream we found some coal.
From this stream to the edge of the lake there is a
meadow more than half a mile in length, slightly wooded
with groves of poplar and spruce, and rich with wild
hay, vetches, etc. If the climate permitted, a good farm
or at least good grazing-land might be made of this
meadow, but as we had frost two nights between the
Skeena and Lake Babine, it would seem that the climate
is too severe for farming, while the long winter, during
which cattle would require to be housed and fed, would
render stock-raising unprofitable.
Nearing the lake, on the afternoon of the 27th, we
heard from the little Indian village at the head of it the
barking of dogs, a sound frequent in every Indian village,
but notoriously frequent here. Babine has quite a reputation in this respect. We knew the locality by sound,
before we could detect it by sight.    Ask any Skeena In- 104
dian for information about Babine, and the first item he-
will mention, the one of which he feels absolutely certain,,
is—"Many dogs there I"
We had no desire to visit the village, which is situated
near the lower end of the lake on its eastern bank, and.
preferred camping on the western side, as the village and
its inhabitants are such as to remind one of the answer
given by a British resident in India, when asked for
information regarding the manners and customs of the
people around him:—"Manners none, customs nasty."
Before our tents were pitched, however, we had a host of
visitors from the village, and among others the chief,
whom we unfortunately failed to recognize. The curiosity
of each of them seemed limitless. They would stand or
sit at the door of each tent in turns, scrutinizing the
proprietor and his baggage, and watching all his movements. Even a heavy thunder-shower that swept over us
failed to damp the ardour of their investigations.
Having paid off the men that came with us from the
Skeena with the exception of two, Yessen and Jim, who
had proved themselves specially useful, we proceeded to
engage others to accompany us up the lake, and across
from Babine to Stewart Lake. Babine Lake discharges
its waters, into the Skeena by Babine Biver, which is
seventy miles in length, flowing for the most part between
precipitous banks, with an elevated plateau along the
southern side, and joining the Skeena near Fort Stager. FOBKS OF bKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
The lower end of the Lake and Babine Biver abound in
salmon: indeed the fishery here is known as one of the
best in the northern part of the Province.
The work of engaging crews to take us to the upper-
end of the lake, and to pack for us across the eight
mile portage that connects Lake Babine with Lake
Stewart, was not as easy as we had at first expected*
The chief, whose dignity may have been offended by our
failure to recognize him, but whose appearance was a
valid excuse for our oversight, had returned to tho village,
while' we deferentially smiled at and nodded to one of
his men, who wore a coat of many buttons. We soon
discovered that we had been bowing to the wrong man,
for, when we tried to make terms for two crews and their
canoes, we found that the chief had issued an edict that
none were to go with us except at an exorbitant figure
on which he had decided. To accede to his terms would
not only be a serious matter for ourselves, but it would
also be a serious matter for a surveying party that was
expected soon to visit this lake, as well as for any subsequent visitors, for the prices we paid would regulate the
price for the rest of the season. Bather therefore than
agree to their demand we would make canoes, paddle
down the lake twenty-five miles to the H. B. Company's
post at Fort Babine, and try to secure men there. However, before deciding on our further course, we determined
to interview the chief.    A deputation went over to the 106
village, and ventured through the accumulation of sickening odours to his house, where he received them with
the dignity of one who feels that his rights have been
overlooked and that now his turn has come; but by a
little gentleness and flatterv, applied through the aid of
a friendly interpreter, and by the offer of a special rate
for the use of his own canoe, the chief was soon brought
to terms, amicable-relations were resumed, and the utmost
cordiality marked the rest of our intercourse with him.
Later on in the evening he paid us a second visit, told
us that he had been sick, and, with child-like confidence,
put himself into our hands lor treatment. A consultation was held, medical stores were examined, and a liberal allowance of pills, accompanied with some tobacco,
was dealt out to him, it is to be hoped with good effect.
The Indians very frequently ask travellers for medicine,
and 6eem grateful for the smallest favours in this line, so
far as any of them will allow themselves to show their
When mention is made of the chief of an Indian tribe it
must not be supposed that the chief is by any means the
influential person that the ordinary imagination pictures.
He has not the absolute authority with which he is credited. Indeed he has very little authority; his proposals are
loyally followed by tho men when approved by them, as
was the case when tho Babine villagers were told to insist
upon our paying them an exorbitant rate, but they are ^1
rigidly ignored when not in harmony with their own
wishes. Sometimes to English, and even to Canadian
ears, it sounds well when a settler reports his marriage
to the daughter of an Indian chief. A young Englishman, well-connected at home, who has been for some
years a resident in the wilds of British Columbia, wrote
to his friends that he had formed such an alliance. His
mother, thinking that his marriage was somewhat similar to that of Smith with the daughter of Pocahontas,
and regarding her daughter-m-law as a native princess,
sent out to her a beautiful satin dress as a wedding
present. The poor squaw could hardly understand its use,
and had no conception of its value. A pair of blankets
would really have been a more appropriate gift.
The Indians of Babine, though nominally Christian,
have the poorest reputation for honesty of any of the
British Columbian tribes. It is a cardinal article of an
Indian's creed and practice not to tamper with anything
entrusted to his care. Such a charge he considers sacred;
but, in regard to this doctrine, the chief of the Babines
and some of his men have, on more than one occasion,
been guilty of heresy, having taken serious liberties with
provisions of which they had somewhat imprudently
been appointed guardians; and, in their general dealings
with us, they were more ready to prove exorbitant, wayward, and unreliable than any others whom we employed.
The H. B. Company's agent at Fort Babine says of them, 108
that " they won't take what they can't reach, but that
they can reach very far;" while they seem idle enough
to realize the miner's description of an indolent acquaintance, who "had been born tired, and was unable to do
any work between meals."
Some years ago, before the present Eoman Catholic
Mission was established here, after the brief visit of a
Christian Brother to the village, one of the Babine
Indians constituted himself priest for the tribe, manufactured his own vestments, baptised the people, pretended to receive revelations from heaven, and aoquired for a
time great influence over the others. He used to feign
that he was dead, and that he came to life again, saying
that during the interval he had passed into the spirit
world. After one such experience, he said he had been
at the gate of heaven, and being asked why he did not
go in, he replied, that St. Peter, of whom he had heard
the Christian Brother speak, was away at the salmon-
fishing, and that the gate was shut. At another time he
declared that he had been dead, and had passed right
into heaven, but had come back to teach the tribe. They
asked him what heaven was like: " Oh very like one of
the Company's Forts," he said, " and the men were launching the boats to go and set their nets."
Even after the old chief had relaxed his terms, we
found some difficulty in getting trustworthy crews. One
man, Jacimo, who had been previously out with a party FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE.
of surveyors, was anxious to go with us in any capacity.
He told us he had been through the Peace and Pine
Biver country, and as we were going in that direction,
we agreed to take him. He then thought himself indispensable, and so at once demanded that his pay should
be increased, and his work diminished. " Well, what
can you do? Cook?" "No." "Cut trail?" "No;" he
" was not good with an axe." " Pack.^j "No;" he had
" hurt his back some time ago and it was not quite well.1'
I Paddle ?" " No;" his back was too " stiff for paddling."
Apparently Jacimo wished to go as " guido, philosopher
and friend," but as we did not require him in that
capacity, we allowed him to remain. Then he would
have come gladly at any wages, but of course had we
taken him he would have been ready to desert us, or
to demand exorbitant wages, on the first emergency.
Even after our crews had been secured we were delayed
for a day by strong wind, which made the lake so rough
as to be unsafe for the cotton-wood canoes. These canoes,
or dug-outs, are much narrower than the cedar canoes of
the coast, or the birch-bark canoes of the east. They
look like elongated horse-troughs pointed at each end;
yet they are very much safer and swifter than their appearance would lead one to suppose. They are made in
the same manner as the cedar canoes which we had used
coming up the Skeena, but with much less taste, and on
account of the small size of the cotton-wood as compared 110
with the cedar, they are very much smaller than the
coast canoes.
A day's detention in the midst of Babine Indians is not
pleasant, but in travelling through a country where facilities of conveyance are still ofthe most primitive character, one is exposed to delays and disappointments. We
had to accept this detention with all available grace as
one of the enforced pauses of life, and utilized our delay
to examine some parts of the neighbourhood. Near the
village starts the trail to Lake Tatla, which leads over
low rolling hills eastward, by the Frying Pan, or Firepan
Pass, through snow-clad ranges, towards Omenica, 150
miles from Babine. Following tms trail for a short distance as it gently ascends a low ridge that skirts the Lake,
we had an extensive view of the country east and west,—
of the Cascade Bange through which we had come, and of
lofty snow-capped peaks and ranges that lie between this
and the Omenica district. But although, both east and
west, there are high mountains in the distance, the nearer
country is gently rolling, and seems as if it might be
easily traversed in almost any direction.
This district, like many other parts of British Columbia,
was almost unknown, except to Indians and H. B. Company's officials, until it was explored by miners in search
of gold. Gold was discovered in Omenica in 1872, and
for a time the new mines attracted a good deal of attention.
A gold commissioner was stationed there by the British FORKS OF SKEENA TO LAKE BABINE
Columbia Government; men crowded in under the excitement that is always aroused by the discovery of new
diggings; supplies were required; Indians were employed as porters, and times were brisk about Babine.
But the glory has to a great extent departed; the mines
have not realized the expectations formed of them; only
a few of the eager crowd are left there now; capitalists
have not thought it worth while to begin quartz-crushing,
and the whole district seems to be falling back into the
silence and stillness of former years.
Although, however, gold-mining has slackened, it seems
probable that something may yet be realized out of the
argentiferous galena which is known to exist in this
district As yet the region has not been examined by
any of the Geologic? Survey staff, but valuable specimens of this galena have been found, and although, under
the present difficulties of access to Omenica, the production of silver and lead would not be remunerative, yet, if
the facilities for communication were increased there
might perhaps be a profitable industry established here.
Occasional indications, too, of coal, or at least of lignite,
have been discovered in this northern part of the Province in rock formations which are Said to be somewhat
similar to those in which the coal-fields of Vancouver
Island are found.
This can never be a good farming country, for, although
potatoes and barley may be cultivated  in. some mea- MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
sure around Babine, and although there are small pasture lands near the borders of the lake, yet the climate is
too severe, and the summer too short for farming. It is true
that at this elevation, in some portions of the interior
plateau of the southern part of the Province between the
Bocky Mountains and the Cascade Bange, arable farming
and stock-raising are successfully carried on, but, on account of the difference of latitude, and the small proportion
of land fit either for the plough or for pasture, farming
cannot be as successfully carried on in these northern
districts. Indeed, unless some valuable mineral resources
e developed here, in sufficient quantity to be remunerative notwithstanding the difficulty of access and cost of
labour, this portion of the Province must continue for
some time to come, as in the past, valuable chiefly for its
fur-bearing animals. CHAPTEE V.
Up Lake Babine.—Fort Babine.—Indian Farming.—Indian Beserves
in British Columbia.—Reluctance to mention names.—Lake
Stewart.—B. C. Missions.—Fort jS James.—Home-sick Indian.
—Mule train.—Following Trail.—Fort McLeod.—Attractions
of the H. B. C. Service.
We left the lower end of Lake Babine on the evening
of the 30th, a number of villagers having gathered to see
us off, perhaps attracted to om* camp by the prospect of
a possible breakfast. Our crews were much inferior to
the Metlahkatlah men, and were ready to slacken their
feeble efforts on the least provocation. If we spoke to one
of them he immediately ceased paddling, as if to do
justice to the subject of enquiry, and the others stopped
out of sympathy. Sometimes they used English expressions which they had picked up at random from the
miners, by whom they had been employed, and such
phrases as " Go ahead," " All right," " You bet your life,"
etc., were made to do duty ou many occasions without
the least regard for the fitness of things.
The lake from the village to Fort Babine, some twenty-
3 114
five miles, has an average width of about a mile. The
banks rise very gently, with a good deal of low-lying
land fringing the lake. There is no timber along its
sides except small poplar and spruce, and the lightly
wooded slopes, backed by undulating hills, give place
occasionally to tracts of excellent pasture. Were it not
for the lofty summits that here and there stretch up in
the back ground, one would have little idea that he was
m a country that has, for the most ■ part, been fitly
described as a "sea of mountains."
Our bowman, in one of those periods of loquacity with
which he relieved the monotony of paddling, informed
us that there was a " large town " at the Fort. We found
it to bo an ordinary Indian village, built like the one at
Babine, a few yards from the lake shore, while between
the dwellings and the water's edge stand a row of fish
caches, or small huts supported, by poles, six feet in
height, in which the year's supply of dried salmon is
6tored. This, with potatoes that can easily be raised
around the village, forms the staple article of food.
Should the salmon fail great destitution and distress are
the result. Instances have been known in which
through this cause many Indian families were forced to
subsist for weeks upon bark and berries, when even the
dogs lived by browsing. Only such dogs as were absolutely necessary had been spared, for some must be
kept  as hauling dogs for the winter; all   others had BABINE TO FOBT McLEOD. 115
been eaten. When provision is plentiful dogs are sometimes fattened for food, and when the stores are reduced
the dogs grow thin, and then at the touch of the knife
they fill the platters that they once had licked. One
Indian, who, with his dog, had been reduced to extreme
hunger, cut off the dog's tail, cooked itj dined off it, and
then gave the bone to its original owner.
As we landed near the Fort, or rather immediately after
we were first sighted, and as we approached the land, the
host of unemployed men and boys about the village
rushed down to see and to scrutinize. Their curiosity
on such occasions is intense. You may fix on them a
reproving stare as steady as the head-light of a locomotive,
but they will meet you with a gaze as calm and unflinching as your own. You long in vain for privacy however,
as no unki ndness is intended it would be foolish to take
Following a trail that leaves the lake-side near tho Fort,
Messrs. Cambie and Macleod examined the country for
some distance east of Babine to ascertain its fitness for
railway construction. Were it necessary to locate a line
across this northern part of the Province more than one
favourable route might be found connecting Port Simpson
with the Pine Biver Pass. Probably the best of them
would be that by the valleys of the Skeena and the
Watsonquah and Lakes Fraser, Stewart and McLeod.
Any northern route, howevor, whether by way of Pine 116
Biver or of Peace Biver, must touch the sea at Port
Simpson, and there are conclusive reasons against making
that the Pacific terminus of our transcontinental road.
Soon after leaving the bay on which Fort Babine is
situated, we had an almost unbroken view to the head
of the lake, or rather, to an horizon where no land was
visible, while on either side the low purple hills slope
gently down, ridge after ridge, to the water's edge. The
banks in some places are more precipitous than those
near the lower end of the lake, but, for the most part,
the scenery is similar in character, though with more
numerous islands fringing the shores. About twenty
miles from its upper extremity the lake bends suddenly
eastward, and here the banks on the north shore become
precipitous and rocky, while granite and marble bluffs
and basaltic columns are visible at some points, the hills
on either side being higher than those near Babine
village. There is no good timber near the lake shore,
but some timber of fair size is found between the lake
and the Watsonquah Valley.
We did not reach the head of the lake, which is about
a hundred miles in length, until the forenoon of Thursday, 3rd July, and owing to a thunder-storm and to the
great unwillingness and delay of our canoemen in portaging our tents, baggage, etc., we did not reach Lake
Stewart till the next day, although the portage is only
about eight miles in  length.    A waggon-road, fit for BABINE TO FORT McLEOD.
ox-carts, connects the two lakes, and the country on
either side affords good pasture. We were surprised to
find, at the head of Stewart Lake, a well-stocked farm,
owned and worked by the Indian "tyhee," or chief, who
raises excellent cattle, as well as good crops of hay and
vegetables, lives in a cottage, and wears an air of
There are frequent stretches of undulating country
and of plateau fringing the numerous lakes, from which
arable farms might on a small scale be formed, and which
already afford abundance of rich pasture. In the valley
of the Nechaco and along the borders of Fraser and
Francois Lakes, a little south of Lake Stewart, there are
considerable areas well fitted for stock-raising, and some
that would be suited for the growth of hardy cereals and
roots. With few exceptions, however, an elevation of
2,000 feet above the sea-level may be regarded as the
maximum altitude of cultivable land in British Columbia,
whereas Babine and Stewart Lakes are 2,200 feet above
the sea. The backward seasons incidental to such an
elevation in this latitude, the long winter during which
cattle require to be housed and fed, and the summer
frosts which prevent the cultivation of wheat, although
admitting the successful growth of barley and roots,
render these northern districts much less inviting than
some of the southern parts of the Province. At the
same time, if the Indians here were as good farmers as mm
the Lillooets in the valley of the Fraser, or if the country were more easily accessible and facilities of intercourse more abundant, so that a market might be
supplied for farm produce, this northern plateau, if it
may be so called, between the Cascade Bange and the
Bocky Mountains could sustain a considerable population.
The limited extent of farm-lands- throughout British
Columbia has led to a different policy, in the allotment
of Indian reserves, from that which has prevailed in
the other Provinces. In the North-West Territories,
for instance, where, of late years, treaties have been
made with large tribes of natives, the Government recognized from the first the Indian title to the whole territory,
and did not offer a single acre for settlement until that
title had been extinguished hy treaty. In British Columbia, however the Indian title to the soil has never
been so fully recognized. In all negotiations with the
Indians the Government allowed them whatever reserves
they asked for, but proceeded on the principle that the
Indians had no right to any land beyond what was
necessary for their- maintenance, a principle in which the
natives themselves seem'always to have acquiesced.
These reserves were by no means as large as those
allowed in the other Provinces, nor was it practicable that
they should be; for had they been extended to eighty
acres per family, as the Dominion Government desired BABINE TO FORT McLEOD. US
that they should, the result would have been, in many
cases, the sacrifice of large tracts of land to Indians
who would not utilize them and the exclusion of many
white settlers. Besides, the reserves could not equitably
be of uniform size, for somo parts of the Province being
well suited for farming admitted of larger reserves of
arable and of grazing lands than others; while, at the
same time those tribes that lived chiefly by fishing did
not require large reserves of land, and could be more
appropriately assisted or compensated by the whites in
other ways, such as by instruction in trades or by the
supply of increased facilities for traffic.
Through their intercourse with the whites, especially
in the southern parts of the Province, the Indians have
already very materially advanced. When labour was
scarce, in the early days of gold-mining, many of them
were employed by the miners, and many also by farmers
and others who soon followed on the trafck of the miners.
They enjoyed almost equal rights with the white settlers;
they were, for the most part, industrious and trustworthy ; and so they became boatmen, porters, herders,
and in a number of cases independent farmers and stock-
raisers. Whether from superior natural ability, or from
their intimate contact and partial competition with the
whites, or from the Government policy that regarded
them not as minors in a state of tutelage but as responsible citizens, it is manifest that the Indians of British' 120
Columbia are as a rule in a better, more self-reliant, and
more hopeful condition than those of the other Provinces,
and more clearly destined to blend with the whites in the
ordinary avocations of civilized communities. Some of
them have been a little irritated on learning, through the
representations of designing men, that the Indians ofthe
other Provinces had been more liberally dealt with than
they had themselves been, but there is reasonable ground
for expecting that the Indian Commissioner of the Province with his official assistants will allot the reserves
on an equitable and satisfactory basis, so that although
the policy pursued in the other Provinces has not been,
and cannot now be, adopted in British Columbia, yet the
true object of the Government in dealing with the
Indians,—their material, intellectual and moral elevation,—will probably be as fully realized here as in any
other part of the Dominion.  .
At the head of Stewart Lake we paid off the crews
who had como with us from Babine, with the exception
of two, Jim and Yessen, who had accompanied us from
the Forks and had been faithful among the faithless.
When the others, who were anxious to be re-engaged,
found their offers of service refused, they tried hard to
dissuade these two from coming with us, as much from
jealousy towards them as from the desire to inconvenience
us. They have little union among themselves, and will
seldom make common cause with each other.   Perhaps BABINE TO FORT McLBOD.
it is this lack of unity, combined with a dread of the
indefinite power of the whites, that has prevented them
from giving much trouble to travellers or settlers. We,
at least, had no more difficulty with them than we might
have expected with white labourers if similarly situated,
though we found them inclined to be more indolent if
treated with special kindness and leniency.
When paying off the men we had occasion to notice
what we had observed on previous occasions, a great
reluctance on their part to tell their names, a reluctance
amounting almost to a superstitious dread. When asked
their names they usually request some companion to
reply for them; and even in referring to each other, they
will often use a roundabout description rather than the
appropriate, name. A woman in speaking of her husband
will sometimes point to her son and refer to her husband
as " that boy's father," rather than mention his name.
One of om* men, Jim, was so called by us because we
could not ascertain his correct name, and we required
some way by which to distinguish him from the others.
Is not this reluctance to utter names a common characteristic of primitive people ? May it not be traced to
the idea that a man's name should be something more
than a mere word-of-call by which to distinguish him
from his fellows; that it should be, in some sense, expressive of his character or of his influence, and that,
therefore, to tell one's name would be to disclose the 122
secret of his power ? Among the Scandinavians of old
it was commonly thought that to utter aloud the name
of a fighting warrior would infallibly strip him of his
strength, and probably it is to this that we must attribute
the practice still prevalent in the British and Canadian
Parliaments of referring to members not by name but
by their constituencies, while, if any member is guilty of
a breach of discipline, the Speaker of the House threatens
to " name " him. At any rate, whatever be the origin of
this reluctance to disclose the name, or whatever be its
connection with the practice of people elsewhere, it seems
to prevail generally among the Indians.
Our camp was pitched near the lake, by the bank of a
little stream called the Yekootchee, which rises near the
streams that flow through Lake Babine and the Skeena
to the sea, and flows through Lake Stewart and the Fraser
to the Pacific, nearly five hundred miles from the Skeena.
A little to the north of this there is a chain, or rather, a network of lakes, some of which discharge their waters
through the Peace to the Arctic Sea, others through the
Skeena or the Fraser to the Pacific, while one small lake
near Fort Connolly drains both ways, at one end into a
tributary of "the Skeena, at the other into a tributary of the
We expected to meet, somewhere on Stewart Lake,
probably at Fort St James, Mr. G. Major, who had left
Victoria shortly before we had, intending to come by the BABINE TO FORT McLEOD. 123
road along the Fraser Valley, with mule-train and
supplies for our journey eastward from Fort St. James.
Great was our joy on the night after we reached Lake
Stewart to be roused up by his arripd, and to find that he
had brought a large sail-boat from the Fort which would
save us the necessity of paddling down the lake. Next
morning the camp was early astir, and we were soon
under sail, gladly discarding the canoes that we had conditionally engaged, which were smaller and more cranky
even than those on Lake Babine.
On our way we met Pere Lejacques, the missionary of
this district, whose charge embraces the whole territory
between the Fork9 of Skeena and Fort McLeod, east
and west, and between Fort Connolly and Fort St. George,
north and south. After leaving the valley of the Skeena
and of the Nasse all the Christian Indians of the interior
throughout this northern district are Boman Catholic.
The mission is under the direction of the Oblate Fathers,
and the missionaries, if all are like the devoted P6re
Lejacques, are " in joumeyings often and in labours
Lake Stewart is forty miles in length, ranging from
one to six miles in width ; the scenery is bolder than that
of Lake Babine. If the latter might be compared to
Loch Lomond, Lake Stewart might be not unfitly regarded as the Loch Katrine of British Columbia.
As om- progress down the Lake was interrupted for a 124
time by head wind, it took us the whole day to make
the distance, but we reached Fort St. James that evening,
5th July, the very day on which, when leaving Victoria,
we thought we might possibly arrive there if we were
favoured by the weather and by absence of unforeseen
accidents. The distance travelled had not been great, yet
as one is exposed to many delays and disappointments in
such a country, where the means of communication are
of a very primitive kind and where, as far as travel is
concerned, almost everything is uncertain except the
flight of time, we felt peculiarly thankful that this stage
of our journey had been brought so successfully and
pleasantly to a close.
The day after our arrival was one of rest, a Sabbath
for which, all felt thankful. The men who had accompanied our pack-train from Yale, as well as some H. B. C.
officials, with ourselves, formed a goodly congregation
at om* service, which In the morning was conducted in
the open air, and in the evening, in a large room of the
Fort. After evening service we enjoyed an hour or two
of sacred music, for here, nearly 400 miles from the
nearest town, we found that Mr. Alexander, the factor,
had an excellent organ, which he played with much taste
and ability. Ye&rs of life in these wilds had failed to rob
him of his love of music, or of his ax*tistic touch of the
keys. The evening was very beautiful, passing as it
seemed that such a day should do, not into darkness, but BABINE TO FORT McLBOD.
into the calm radiance of a northern midsummer night.
Fort St. James, the centre ofthe H. B. Company's posts
of northern British Columbia is beautifully situated on a
broad flat about twenty feet above the beach, with a commanding outlook, and with views of scenery that remind
one greatly ofthe Scottish Highlands. There are no snowcapped summits visible from the Fort, but look in any
direction you may, there is a back-ground of hills which
in some parts border the lake, and jin others are separated from it by wooded plateaux or hy gently undulating
slopes, while, under the prevailing westerly winds, the
waters of the lake break upon the beach with the musical
monotone of the sea.
Like many of the H. B. Company's posts, the Fort
consists of a few subtantial wooden buildings, surrounded
by a stockade. The houses are ranged in shape nearly
resembling the letter H, with the factor's dwelling as the
cross-bar ofthe letter. It is one of the oldest trading posts
of the country, and is the central dep6t for a large district
which includes Forts Babine, Connolly, McLeod, George
and Fraser, a district formerly known as New Caledonia,
and no doubt so named by-the Scottish officers of the old
North-West Company on account of its general resemblance to some parts of Scotland. About a mile above
the Fort there is an Indian village possessing a pretty
little church, and houses which have an air of neatness and
Cleanliness not always found among the Indians, while 126
between the Fort and the village there is an excellent
saw-mill, and immediately adjoining the Fort is a large
garden, in which onions, carrots, lettuce and other
vegetables are successfully grown.
From Fort St. James the trail leads to Omenica, and
during the first years of the mining excitement there,
many came up by the waggon route from Yale to
Quesnel, which is the great arterial highway of British
Columbia, and by the trail from Quesnel, so that for
several seasons there was considerable traffic at this
place. During the influx of the miners there was a
tavern close to the Fort, but that establishment, which
is often regarded as a sort of avant courier of western
civilization, has been closed, probably from want of
patronage rather than from pressure of principle, as few
now go by this route to Omenica.
Monday was devoted to the examination of our stores
and to writing letters to friends in the east, which would
go by way of Victoria, this being the last chance we
would have of sending them any word until reaching the
telegraph station at Edmonton, in the valley of the Saskatchewan. We were to travel with a mule-train as far
as Fort McLeod, about seventy miles from Fort St. James,
intending there to divide our party, some to go with the
mule-train through Pine Biver Pass, others by boat down
the Parsnip and Peace Biver, through the Eocky Mountains to Dunvegan. BABINE TO F0BT MoLEOD. 127"
In making preparations for such a journey, it was
necessary to select men suitable, not only for accompanying the packers, who had the management of the mule-
train, but some also that would be sfeed for the trip
down Peace Eiver. Our old friends, Jim and Yessen,
who had come all the way from the Skeena, were re-engaged, at their own request, to accompany us to Dunvegan.
At first they seemed happy at the prospect of visiting
an unknown land, but after a little Jim's heart failed
him. He grew terribly home-sick. He had already
come to the most distant place that he knew, and when
the men spoke to him about the world beyond Fort St.
James, he lost faith in the possibility of his return if he
should venture further. Suddenly he remembered that
his wife and children had no food, that they could not
fish, that they would starve if he remained away. What
was the white man's gold when weighed in the balance
against the tender, clinging affection of squaw and
papooses, and the unspeakable charms of home ? Yessen
might remain if he would, but not Jim. Stolidly he
stood the chaffing of all around, and very soon after we
left Stewart Lake he would be in the bosom of his
family, with strange tales to tell of all the wonders he
had seen, and of the offers of gain that he had resisted.
This may seem singular in people so little given to express their feelings, but it is quite a common thing for an
Indian to treat his employer as Jim treated us. MOUNTAIN AND PRAIBIE.
Yessen, whom by way of honourable distinction we
called the "astronomer," clung to us and proved himself
diligent and trustworthy. He had probably never seen
a horse until this trip. Once when he was offered the
chance of relieving a heavy day's march by an hour in
the saddle, and was asked if he could ride, he answered
" Perhaps." He made the attempt, but having forgotten,
or rather having never learned, to tighten the girth, he
soon rolled off, and for some weeks afterwards preferred
going on foot. The other men whom we required, in
addition to our foreman, McNeill, and those who had to
take charge of tile pack-train, we had no difficulty in
procuring at Fort St. James.
On Tuesday, the 8th July, we left Fort St. James for
Fort McLeod, seventy miles distant, where our journey
down Peace Biver would begin. This portion of the
country, with the exception of the gold-mining district
of Omenica, a little to the north, is probably in much the
same condition as it was when these fur-trading posts
were established. The trails may be a little better and
more frequently traversed; land has been cleared here
and there by forest fires; but the habitations of white
men are still confined almost exclusively to the Hudson's
Bay Company's forts. The Indians shift their wigwams as
frequently as ever, not growing, it would seem, nor declining, in numbers; the foliage comes and goes unobserved;
the silence of hill and forest is little more disturbed than BABINE TO FOBT McLBOD. 129
• if the voice of man had never broken in upon their
primeval repose. Even yet the facilities of communication are few, though somewhat improved of recent years.
A gentleman still living in Victoria, who was clerk at
one of these northern posts in the days of Napoleon, did
not hear of the battle of Waterloo until two years after
it had been fought; but although the only white man in
the district, he took down his old flint-lock and fired a
The only route connecting Fort St. James and Fort
McLeod is a bridle-path which leads sometimes over low
hills, or by the margin of small lakes, sometimes
through thick woods, or over treacherous swamps, where
we were frequently delayed by the necessity of " brushing" the trail, that is, of laying large branches cross>
wise upon the path, to afford sure footing for the mules
that carried our supplies, and for the horses that carried
As there are many parts of British Columbia to which
goods can be transported only by means of mule-trains,
this mode of conveyance is very frequently adopted.
The best breeds of mules have been brought to the Province from the Pacific States, and the Mexicans, who
first introduced them from Europe, are the most experienced mule-drivers and packers. To one who sees it
for the first "time the packing of a mule-train is interesting as well as novel.   Very early in the morning, per-
10 130
haps by throe o'clock, the men start ont to fetch the
mules from tho pasture where they have been feeding
over night, and as they are very gregarious, Following
tho bell-mare as closely as a flock of sheep follow the
bell-wether, a protracted search for the mules is seldom
nocossm-y when once tho bell-mare has been found. Before
five o'clock all arc collected, and the work of packing
begins. The apparaho, or pack-saddle, which is made of
strips of wood, leather and padding, as carefully as an
ordinary riding-saddle, is first secured by a broad, firm
girth, which is bound or" sinchod," as tightly as two men
cm pull, each pressing his knee or foot against the
animal's side to gain increased leverage, a blinder having
boon previously placed across the mule's eyes, to prevent
nil movement on his part, as this temporary sightlessness secures perfect stillness. Then the packers pile up
the load, which has been already arranged in two large
bund los. Those are placed one on each side of the
apparaho, and are Wind on or sinchod as securely as
possible, the rope being fastened in a manner peculiar to
this process. Tho blinder is then removed, and the
mule is turned free to reconcile itself to its burden of two
or three hundred pounds, and the process is repeated
until the whole train is prepared to start. While the
train is in motion somo of the packers are continually
passing to and fro, to sec that each mule's pack is quite
secure.   Should it begin to loosen, and be allowed to jolt BABINE TO FORT McLEOD. 131
and sway, it would soon cause trouble, and when the
slightest indication of this is detected the pack is at once
sinched up afresh. Heavily laden mules seldom go at
any other pace than a walk, and as they cannot bear the
burden of their packs very long, fifteen miles a day is
considered on the average good travelling for a mule-
Being well mounted on horses we greatly enjoyed our
ride to Fort McLeod, even though our daily progress was
slow, and though the woods were sometimes so thick that
both hands were required for pressing aside the branches
that would otherwise strike against the face. The fresh
morning air, the peeps through thetimber,theprofusionof
wild flowers, the broad views, when, from some rising
ground which the fire had cleared we could see a wide
sweep of country, the glimpses of stream or lakelet,
partly flashing in the sun and partly shaded by the overhanging trees, an occasional snatch of song, trolled out
by some of the company, the procession of riders moving
Indian file, now slowly and carefully over bog, or rock,
or wind-fall, now breaking into a canter where the trail
permits this freedom, now halting to examine somo
curious rock formation, or peculiar plant, or some trace
of a far past glacial period,—these and similar elements
were sufficient to render our morning rides pleasant in
the extreme. For the sake of our mules we usually
camped soon after mid-day. 132
The country presents few features of interest. It seems
here to be utterly unfit for agriculture, both from the
character of the soil and from its altitude, which ranges
from 2,200 feet to 2,700 feet above sea level. The timber
where it has been spared by fire, is of a poor quality, and
there are few signs of mineral resources. There is still,
however, a considerable annual yield of furs, bear and
beaver being the most abundant. Indeed often along this
trail that we were traversing we saw traces of beaver
in the stubs of trees, that had been cut by their teeth
as well as they could have been cut by the axe, in the
regularly-built barriers or dams, and in their cunningly
contrived houses, which rise like small islands near the
shore of pond or lake, arched above with no visible outlet,
the entrance being from beneath.
Passing from Carp Lake to Long Lake, the two chief
sheets of water between Fort St. James and Fort McLeod,
we crossed the " divide " that separates the waters flowing into the Pacific from those that flow through the
Peace Biver into the Arctic Sea. From Long Lake an
excellent trout stream, known as Long Lake Biver, flows
into McLeod Lake. Its descent is very rapid, and in
its course there is a water-fall of great beauty, estimated
at 130 feet in height. A little further on is Iroquois
Creek, near which there is abundance of pasture, and a
few miles further, in the course of which the trail passes
over a ridge about  150  feet above McLeod Lake, we BABINE TO FORT McLEOD. 133
reach Fort McLeod. Having rested near Iroquois Creek
on the 13th, we did not reach Fort McLeod until Monday
the 14th,—seventy miles in seven days.
Fort McLeod is beautifully situated at the lower end
of McLeod Lake, whose waters are emptied by the Pack
Biver into the Peace. There is abundance of excellent
pasture on the plateau around it, and it boasts a small
garden that seems capable of raising anything that can
withstand occasional summer frosts. Indeed there is sufficient good land in this immediate neighbourhood for a
large farm, if the climate were only suitable.
Some have supposed that wherever an abundance of
the service-berry is to be found it indicates a climate fit
for the growth of grain, but this seems to be as great a
mistake as to imagine that the presence of the hummingbird argues an equable and genial climate ; for the
humming-bird may be seen around the banks of Babine
Lake, and as far north as the Sticlrine, while the service-
berry grows in abundance near Fort McLeod; yet Babine,
Stickine, and McLeod are all unfit localities for the
growth of grain.
The snow-fall here is heavier than at Fort St. James,
averaging about five feet, and gardening is about three
weeks later. The lake usually freezes about the middle
of November, and opens about the middle of May. All
the traffic between Peace Eiver and Fraser Eiver passes
this way, as the route from the Parsnip (as the southern 134
branch of the Peace is called) by the Pack Eiver, Lake
McLeod, Summit Lake, and the Giscombe Portage
to the Fraser, is much shorter than the route by the
head-waters of the Parsnip and the head-waters of the
Near the Fort there is a plain little church used by the
B. C. Mission, and a small grave-yard, kept with
great neatness. The graves are in almost every case
covered by small houses of squared timber, although the
bodies have been interred at the usual depth of six feet.
In the church we saw a large heavy whip, which is used
for punishing those whom the priest condemns, one
man being specially set apart to administer the lash. At
the time of our visit no Indians were to be seen around
the Fort, but in the early part of June, and of October,
they swarm in for a few days to sell their furs, and to
procure another season's supplies, dividing their leisure
time between listening to tbe priest and rattling their
gambling-sticks, for all Indians seem to be born gamblers.
They appear to be throughout this district quiet, trustworthy and industrious. The only act of violence
recorded against any of them in this neighbourhood was
the murder of a clerk of the Company many years ago,
under somewhat peculiar provocation. The clerk had
been irritated by the Indian, and said to him by way of
intimidation, " Your wife and child will be dead before
your next visit to this Fort."    By a strange coincidence BABINE TO FORT McLEOD.
the poor man's wife and child died that winter in
the woods. He at once attributed their death to the
■secret influence of the clerk, whose random words
had been remembered and regarded as a threat of coming
doom. Soon after, he appeared at the Fort, and deliberately shot the clerk, supposing him to be the murderer
of his family. In old days it was thought expedient to
keep not less than three white men at even the smallest
trading post in New Caledonia, but of late years this has
been found unnecessary, partly because the Indians are
so quiet, and partly because one or two Indians, or half-
breeds, are found to be quite as serviceable as white men
for all ordinary purposes around the Fort.
The name "Fort" applied to these posts ofthe H. B.
Company is frequently imposing in more ways than one.
It naturally suggests walls, bastions, loop-holes, formidable
gateways, a fortified residence, palisades, etc; but frequently, as in the case of Fort McLeod, the reality is very
different from the vision. A small single-storied dwelling
made of hewn logs, little better than the rude farm-house of
a Canadian backwoodsman, a trading-store as plain as the
dwelling, a smoke-house for curing and storing fish and
meat, and a stable constitute the whole establishment.
This Fort is said to have had its days of greatness, when
it was surrounded by a palisade, and had other visible
signs of importance, but it is now one of the smallest
posts in British Columbia. The manager, a young English 136
gentleman, who has whiled away some of his lonely
hours by sketching for the Graphic, has named it
"Fort Misery," a name indicative of many a dreary day.
Indeed it is difficult to discover what attractions many
ofthe agents ofthe Hudson's Bay Company find in their
secluded and lonely life. Familiar in many instances in
earlier days with comfortable and even luxurious homes,
and able to procure positions in civilised life where a
competence, if not a fortune, was assured, they have
chosen instead a life that in many cases cuts them off
for a large portion of the year from any intercourse with
the outer world or any companionship worthy of the
. name, and from all or almost all that we are accustomed
to regard as the advantages of civilization. When sickness comes they are dependent upon themselves, or on
their Indian neighbours. When their children grow up
they must send them away to school, often at an expense
which their incomes cannot well afford. Their promotion comes slowly at the best, for it is a service in which
men live long, and promotion may mean the charge of a
post further away from civilization, while the prospect
of becoming a chief-factor, or of being able to retire with a
competence, is distant and shadowy. Missionaries will
undergo all this, and more than this, but they are
animated by a clear and lofty purpose, that nerves them
for exile and hardship if they can but fulfil their aim.
Gold-hunterB will undergo much, but they too have a BABINE TO FORT McLEOD. 13T
definite object before them; but the spell of the H. B. C..
service seems as vague, though it be as powerful, as that
which binds the sailor to his sea-faring life, which he may
often abuse, but which he cannot abandon.
Its agents may be attracted by the utter freedom which-
it gives them from the conventionalities and artificial
restraints of society, by the authority which they enjoy
over Indians and half-breeds, or by the scope for adventure and the opportunity for sport which most of them
delight in. Ask them what fascination they find in it,
and they can hardly tell you. Listen to them when
several of them are together "talking muskrat," (to use
their own term for discussing the business of the Company,) and they have scarcely a good word for the service;
only when an outsider finds fault with it, will they speak
in its defence; and yet let them leave it for a time and
they long to come back to it. One of them, a young
Irish gentleman who had spent years in the service on
the Upper Ottawa and had returned to Ireland, informed
some of his Canadian friends that he "found Dublin
awfully dull after Temisoamingue." But withal, among
the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company you find many
men of education and refinement, competent to fill places
of importance in society had they chosen the more settled
walks of life. Of late their prospects have been considerably reduced, as the fur-trade of the Company has,
since  1871, been entirely   separated from its   landed MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
estates, the profits of the latter going entirely to the
English shareholders, while all the officers, engaged in
trading, are paid exclusively from the proceeds of the
fur sales. Two-fifths of the profits of the fur-trade are
divided, according to rank, among the commissioned
officers, who are known as junior chief traders, chief
traders, factors and chief factors. As, however, the land
held by the company must be its great and increasing
source of wealth in the future, whereas the prospects of
the fur trade must naturally diminish with the advance
of civilization and of settlement, the Service is even less
attractive than it once was. CHAPTEE VI.
Explorers of Peace Biver.—Division of Party.—Leave Fort McLeod.
—The Parsnip.—Fur Traders and Gold Hunters.—Mining.—
The Nation Biver.—Pete Toy and Nigger Dan.—Finlay Biver
and Bapids.—The Unchagah.—Peace Biver Pass.—Parle-pas
Bapid Moose Hunting. — Buffalo Tracks Terraces.— Tbe
Canon Coal. — Navigable Extent of Biver.—Indian Hunters.—
Charlie's Yarns.
Tn 1793 Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the intrepid explorer
who was the first to cross this northern part of the continent, having made a previous journey from Montreal to
the mouth of the great river since known by his name,
that flows into the Arctic Sea, passed through the Kocky
Mountains by way of Peace Eiver to the Pacific. Ho
touched the western ocean at Dean Inlet, where he left
upon the rock the inscription, " Alexander Mackenzie,
from Canada, by land, 22nd July, 1793.' There by a
strange coincidence he almost met another daring traveller, Capt. Vancouver, who was then cruising along the
coast, and who had passed Dean Inlet but a short time
before his arrival. After spending a night within sound
of the sea, he retraced his course by the Valley of the 140
Peace. His purpose was partly to explore the country
. and partly to extend the fur trade of the North West
Company, with which he was connected and which was
subsequently amalgamated with the Hudson's Bay Company ; and, through his influence, fur-trading posts were,
planted, ere the close of the century, in this remote land
west of the mountains, Fort St. James being then, as
noWj the central dep6t of the district. Mr. Mackenzie's
narrative of his journey contains the earliest account we
have of any portion of that country, on which we were
now entering, that is unwatered by the Peace; for, though
the so-called Peace Biver country lies east of the Bocky
Mountains, yet at Fort McLeod we stepped into the boat
in which we were to be borne by tributary streams to the
Peace and by it through the Mountain Eange. Others,
whose journeys have been recorded for us, have since
traversed the same country. Sir George Simpson, then
Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, passed by this
route to the Pacific in 1828, taking his canoe from York
Factory, on Hudson's Bay, to the mouth of the
Fraser Eiver.* But, of recent accounts, the most detailed and interesting is that given in the Eeport of the
Geological Survey of Canada for 1875-76, which contains
the record of a journey by Messrs. Selwyn and Macoun
in the interests   of  the Geological Survey   in   1875.
* Butler's WUd North Land and Horetzky's Canada on the Pacific,
containing narratives of ourneys by way of Peace Biver to the
western sea, are familiarly known to many readers. TERO UGE TEE MO UNTAINS BY BOAT. 141
Indeed very much is due to the staff of the Geological
Survey and to the engineers of the Canadian Pacific Bail-
way for the knowledge that we possess of British Columbia and of the Bocky Mountains, as well as of our vast
Prairie Begion. Exposed, in many instances, to hardship, cut off for months at a time from inter course with
any whites except those of their own party, pursuing
unweariedly their examination of the country to ascertain its physical features, the character and extent of its
resources, and its facilities for railway construction, they
have acquired a mass of information which is to a large
degree stored up in blue-books, but which forms the basis
of many a grave decision and important undertaking of
Government as well as of many a venture of private
At Fort McLeod our party was divided, some, under the
direction of Dr. Dawson, proceeding through the Bocky
Mountains by way of Pine Biver Pass, accompanied
by the mule-train with supplies for continued explorations east of the mountains, while Messrs. Cambie,
McLeod, Major and I with four of a crew descended Peace
Biver by boat, all expecting to rendezvous at Dunvegsn,
the central H. B. C. Dep6tof the Peace Biver District east
ofthe Bockies. We were fortunate enough to procure at
Fort McLeod a capacious boat, forty feet keel, nine feet
beam, which, although old and well-worn, was by a few
repairs and by frequent pumping fit for om* purpose. 142
Our departure from the Fort was somewhat delayed by
the work of trail-making, as all the available men had to
assist in clearing the trail for the mule-train, from Fort
McLeod to the crossing of the Parsnip, at the mouth of
the Misinchinca. At that point those who were to proceed
by Pine Eiver Pass had the benefit of the boat in crossing the Parsnip ere we continued our course down
stream. The same trail had been followed some years
before by an exploring party, but a good deal of labour
Was necessary in cutting a course through the accumulated windfalls of several seasons. One of our Indians,
an excellent fellow whom we had engaged for the trip
flown the Peace Biver, while employed in trail-making
cut his right ankle so badly that he had to be carried
back to Fort McLeod. He at once gave up hope, not
only of being able to accompany us, but also of ever
recovering from the effects of the accident, for it is
characteristic of Indians under any sickness or accident
to grow despondent, and to take a most hopeless view of
the situation. Although enduring pain without a murmur, they very quickly despair of all recovery. Perhaps
they have good reason for this habitual despondency in
sickness, as the sick and wounded are very readily left
behind by the others, and from lack of care a slight
accident or illness may in many cases prove most
Passing from Lake McLeod down Pack Biver, which TEROUOE TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOA T. 143
is about seventeen miles in length, we entered the
Parsnip, the great southern tributary of the Peace, whose
sources lie near the upper waters of the Fraser on the
western slopes of the mountains. It was by way of this
river that McKenzie's course lay when, after reaching
its head waters, he carried his canoe, as Simpson did half
a century later, to the great northern bend ofthe Fraser,
a route much more circuitous than that which connects
the two rivers by way of Lake McLeod, Summit Lake
and the Giscombe Portage.
The Parsnip, so called from the abundance of cow-
parsnip that grows near its banks, maintains pretty
evenly a width of about five hundred feet, and a current
of about three or four miles an hour. It is dotted by
numerous islands, at the upper end of which it sometimes
divides so evenly that it is difficult to distinguish the
main channel, while at the same time there are many
sloughs, or " slews" so-called, wh'ere part of the river
flows by some devious and half-hidden course, that
might, when they blend again with the main current, be
mistaken for tributary streams. The banks are sometimes bare and steep, with exposures of sand, clay and
gravel, and with occasional croppings of sandstone and of
limestone; sometimes they are pleasantly varied by
levels of pasture land, or by low wooded hills.
The voyageurs observe changes in the river, from year
to year.   The soil being light and sandy is easily washed
M 144
down by the current in the spring, when the river rises
fifteen or twenty feet above its lowest summer level; the
shores are cast into new curves; bars of sand and gravel
are removed from one locality, and built up in another;
the islands are worn away above, and increased by deposits
further down; and the slopes and bushes along the banks
have, in some places, been stripped by fire of much of
their foliage, while in others they have been covered by
new growths of bush or tree.
Borne steadily and pleasantly along by the current
we met some fur-traders, struggling up stream with
their cargoes en route to Victoria, engaged in the precarious task of competing with the Hudson's Bay Company. Such competition is no safe nor easy work unless
one can bring large capital into it, and conduct business
at many different stations, for the Company may gain
largely at some of its posts although losing at others,
and can thus average a fair rate of profit, whereas "free
traders," as their rivals are called, if dependent only on
one or two posts, may be ruined in a single season.
Besides, the Company have usually to pay less for their
furs than others do, as the Indians are not readily
seduced from a service which has always been faithfully
and honestly conducted, and which has witnessed the
rise and fall of many rivals, while it still remains a
strong, successful and useful corporation.
We met also straggling miners engaged in prospect- ms&,
ing; in one case, a solitary Frenchman, in another,
three Scotchmen. Many a time the miner will start off
alone to prospect new districts, trusting to his own
brain, bone and sinew, taking some small supplies to
stand between him and starvation if he should find no
game nor human habitation in his wandering. Onward
he goes, washing a pan-full of sand from this stream, and
•then passing on to the next, until he finds sufficient gold
to tempt him to prolong his search at some particular
point. Smiling at dangers that would make less resolute
men despair, restless in his rambling as the wandering
Jew, broken perhaps in fortune, sometimes broken in
health, but never broken in hope, the miner has pierced
almost every part of the country, opening the gates to
let in the outer world, toiling with a degree of patience
and of energy that would soon have enriched him if he
could have practised the same virtues in some of the
more settled walks of life. Weeks may be spent by him
upon some promising "bar," where the stream has
deposited the precious particles far from the vein that
once held them; or he may trace the gold to the alluvial
deposits of some older water-courses, and may find rich
"pay-dirt" on levels far above the present rivers. Or,
to vary the excitement, he may seek for the channel of
some ancient stream far below the depth of the present
water-course, and may find there the deposits of past
ages.   This latter, which is called "deep-digging," has
11 146
in British Columbia as in California, frequently proved
most profitable. By regular mining operations the
course of the older stream is followed, at a depth perhaps
of from thirty to a hundred feet below the surface, the
buried channel being traceable by the rocks and gravel
of its bed. Tunnels are formed; timbers are introduced
to support the sides and roof; and the miner, standing,
ankle-deep in wet sand and gravel, beneath the continuous dripping that precolates through from above,
carries on his laborious search. What cares he for
cramps, discomfort, rheumatism, or other ills that flesh
is heir to, when sudden wealth seems always close at
Quartz-mining has as yet received little attention in
British Columbia, tho alluvial deposits whether on the
surface or along the buried channels,—known generally
as placer-mining,—having hitherto absorbed the energy
of miners. These deposits, however, must in course of
time become exhausted, while an important source of
wealth may remain to be developed in the gold-bearing
rocks from which at some period, recent or more remote,
the alluvial gold has been borne down by the current.
Quartz-crushing may require more capital and cheaper
labour than are at present available, but when developed
it is likely to prove a much mere valuable and more
■permanent industry than placer-mining. Many more
have lost than have gained by gold-mining, and yet w zasmmassi  rirr-mH
1 f- ■
although field after field may prove unprofitable there
are thousands along the Pacific for whom the mines have
all the fascination that the dice have for the gambler,
and who are ready with one accord to rush towards the
newest " diggings " Let the solitary Frenchman or the
three Scots whom we met on the Parsnip find a rich
gold-field and make it known, and the news would
spread like wild-fire; men would gather from every
centre of population between Cassiar and San Francisco;
and these unpeopled solitudes would soon become familiar to many thousands.
The Nation Biver joins the Parsnip from the west
about thirty-two miles below the mouth of Pack Biver,
after receiving the waters of numerous lakes that lie to
the south of the Omenica district, between Lake Babine
and the Parsnip, a region not yet surveyed, hardly even
explored, and little known except to the Indians. From
tbe mouth of the Misinchinca, twelve miles above
Pack Eiver, to the mouth of the Nation, traces of
lignite have been found, regarding which Mr. Selwyn
says,—" Some of the blocks found along the shores of
the Parsnip were of large size, and sufficiently pure and
compact to be of value as fuel if found in thick seams."
Landing nearly opposite the mouth of the Nation we
found the soil good, the ground undulating, covered with
a rich crop of wild hay and pea-vine, from which it may
reasonably be inferred that many of the flats and slopes 148
along the river, and perhaps also the upper plateaux,
would afford excellent and abundant pasturage.
Between the Nation and the Finlay we passed bars
where gold has been found year after year, though not
in very large quantities, probably borne down from
the rocks in the neighbourhood of Omenica On this
part of tho river there lived at some distance from each
other, for several years, two men familiar by name, if not
in person, to every traveller throughout this region, and
whom the readers of Butler's Wild North Land will
remember,—Pete Toy and Nigger Dan. Both gave
attention to trapping and mining. In winter they
searched for game, and in summer for gold. The neighbouring woods and hills supplied them with moose, bear,
beaver and marten,—provisions and furs,—while the
sand-bars gladdened and enriched them with gold. Over
and over, year after year, they washed the silt brought
down by the river at the spring flood and deposited
along the margin of some particular bar, finding at each
returning summer that from the territory drained by its
western tributaries the river had rolled along new particles of gold, to leave them where it had left a similar
precious burden the preceding year. They knew the river
with all its swirls and rapids, its ice-jams and freshets, as
well as they know their own cabins. Each kept his own
territory and held on his own course as if utterly independent of the outside world, although the desire for its TEROUBB TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT. 149
luxuries may first have incited. them to search for gold
in this voluntary exile.
Pete would face almost any current, would dare the
waters in any condition of day or night, of frost or flood
but he launched his frail dug-out once too often. Though
frequently upset, and seemingly like the beaver formed
to live on land or water, the river at last received him
that he rose no more. For some years he had an old
chum, Joe Dates, that lived with him; and both bore a.
good name for honesty and hospitality. Joe was said to
have made a goodly " pile," which he kept hid in some
spot known only to himself, but death called him away,
as he had called Pete, and as he calls most men, unexpectedly; and the place'that contains the hidden treasure is now a sealed secret, to be sought for, perhaps, at
some future day, with as much eagerness, and as little
success, as the reported treasures of Captain Kidd, near
the shores of the Bay of Fundy. Nigger Dan, who
came to British Columbia as cook for Captain Palliser,
still lives, but he has exchanged the freedom of the
woods and mountains for the confinement of a police-
station. He has been known for years as Nigger Dan.
Negro he is, or at least mulatto, and his name is Daniel
Williams, but miners and trappers are seldom called by
their surnames. Enquire at any diggings for John
McDonald, a man whose lithe form was familiar in many
of the mining districts, and no one seems to have ever MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
heard of him; but ask for Cariboo Jack, and you find
that almost every miner from Kootenay to Cassiar knows
him;—and so with Grey John, Dancing Bill, Yankee
Jim, and the rest of the wild, roving "boys," who have
sought their fortunes amongst the crowd, from the lower
bends of the Fraser to the banks of the Stickine, and
beyond the mountains of Alaska.
Nigger Dan had but a poor reputation. Bumours
dark as his own skin were current regarding him. The
distinction between "mine" and "thine" was too subtle
for him, or if he knew it, it was only to ignore it. He
moved down from the banks of the Parsnip to the neighbourhood of Fort St. John, near Dunvegan. There he
waged war like a son of Ishmael instead of a descendant
of Ham, the outer world being represented by the H. B.
Company, while Dan's hand was against the Company
and the Company's against him. He had a garden which
was unfenced, and, because the Company's horses, cattle,
and dogs made a free pasture and highway of his open
garden, he treated them to poison and lead. All know
the value of horses and cattle, and some set a fancy price
on a favourite dog, but in this region good dogs have a
recognized, market value on account of the extensive
use made of them in winter in hauling toboggans. Sometimes four moose-skins, worth $40, have been given for
one dog. And not only did this hermit distinguish himself by general acts of slaughter;—he had threatened TEROUOE TBE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT. 151
the life of one or two men, and rumour gave him the
credit of having executed years ago a similar threat;—
and he had set fire to a store of the H. B. Company, so
that the time had come when something must be done.
The Company are not given to lynching, but yet law
must be administered even on the remote banks of the
Peace Eiver, so by a skilful piece of strategy Dan was
seized, a warrant having been issued for his apprehension, and was taken off to Edmonton to be tried; but it
is now ascertained that the trial must be conducted at
Victoria, as Fort St. John is in British Columbia, not in
iihe North-West Territories. In a country where the
inhabitants are few, and where crime is but little known,
one man may acquire considerable importance and give
great annoyance, and so during 1879 Peace Biver district
was more concerned about this one individual than it
could be over the rise and fall of Governments or the fate
of empires.
On approaching the "Forks" where the Finlay and
Parsnip meet, some seventy-seven miles below Pack
Biver, we caught to the north-east the first glimpse,
high up among the hill tops, of the gap between the
mountains through which the Peace Biver carves its
way. The hills are here rugged and densely massed,
with occasional snow-peaks glistening amongst them.
The Finlay, so named from its first white explorer,
drains a great portion of Omenica by one branch, while >   -jimr
by another it receives tho waters of an unexplored region
to the north of Omenica.   For fully 300 miles before it.
joins the Parsnip it has twisted and coiled itself by many
a rugged mountain range, and through many a rocky
cafion, receiving, as its tributaries, streams whose sands
glitter with gold.    Here its flow is gentle, but thirty-
miles off we could see Wd snow-capped mountains that •
tell of the character of the country through which it-
carves its way.   And the Parsnip, ere the two rivers-
blend, has flowed nearly as far as the Finlay, by many a
curve from the uplands where its sources lie near the >
head-waters of the Fraser.   As they meet, their waters-
broaden into a small smooth lake, and then rush down
in a rough and stormy current, nearly half a mile in.
length and some two hundred and fifty yards in width,.
known as the Finlay Bapids.    Here the names Parsnip-
and Finlay are dropped, and from this onward until it-
meets   near Fort Chipewyan   the waters that empty
Lake Athabasca, a thousand miles away, the united river-
is known as the Peace.   The Sicanies of northern British.
Columbia call it the Tsetaikah,—"the river that goes
into the mountain."   The Beavers, who live east of the-
Bocky Mountains, call it the Unchagah,—that is, " the-
Peace "—for on its banks was settled once for all a feud-
that had long been waged between them and the Crees..
About a mile below the rapids the river, with its forces -
now united from the south and west, turns suddenly  •z TEROUGB TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
eastward. At this bend it is fringed on both banks
by gentle slopes and irregular benches, beyond which
rise the hills, at first not more than 2,000 to 2,500 feet
in height, some scarped by ravines, some castellated
with regular strata of rock, but for the most part lightly
wooded. This is the beginning of the Peace Biver Pass.
Om* progress was delayed for a little by a heavy
thunder-shower, and being anxious to see this part of
the river to advantage, we waited under shelter until
the rain had ceased. The storm soon spent itself, the
sun came out with splendour, and large white billowy
clouds, floating across the sky, made the deep blue
beyond seem further away than ever. Almost immediately below the entrance to the Pass, Mount Selwyn
rises to the right, 4,570 feet above the river, 6,220 feet
above the sea. It is a massive pyramid, flanked by a
ridge of rock on either side, its lower slopes formed by
the detritus washed down from side and summit, partly
covered by burnt timber, and tinted by frequent patches
of grass; its upper slopes in part moss-covered, in part
bare as polished granite, broken and irregular as if
shattered by fire and frost; its sides now shelving, now
precipitous, grooved and seamed by torrent and by
avalanche; its edge ragged and serrated, until it terminates in a solitary snow-clad peak. Along the northern
bank of the river the hills are grouped in endless variety
of form, the irregular masses looking as if they had been 154
flung there at some terrible convulsion of nature, to show
into how many different shapes mountains can be cast.
Nearly opposite Mount Selwyn the Wicked Biver, a
stream clear as crystal and noisy as a cascade, falls in
on the left bank through a gorge between the hills. To
the right and left, alternately, sweep the broad curves of
the main river, which is here from 200 to 250 yards in
width, while the ridges, between which it winds, appear
to be dove-tailed as you look down the Pass. The view
changes with each bend of the current. Here a rugged
shoulder bare and hard as adamant, butting upward for
recognition, there a frowning precipice, with no trace of
vegetation, or a wooded knoll, solid beneath but with a
fair green surface, here a wild ravine, there a great shell-
shaped valley, while stretching far up are the peaks that
form a resting place for the eagle and the cloud.
The day being fine there was a perpetual play of light
and shade on river and hill, and so as we were swept on
by the current, cloud, mountain and river, peak, bluff,
and wooded banks were woven into countless and ever-
changing combinations. Sketches, photographs' and
words alike fail to give an adequate picture of this part
of om* journey. Even could one thus convey any clear
conception of separate parts of the Pass, yet it is impossible to reproduce that sequence and blending of views
that was wrougnt by our own motion down the river as
it ceaselessly shifted the scenes. B-B
There was little snow to be seen even on the highest
3>eaks, much less than we had expected. Indeed, in this
respect tho Eocky Mountains are less Alpine in appearance than the Cascade Eange through which we came
when ascending the Skeena; but here the Bockies are
much lower than they are further south, while the peaks
are clustered much more closely than on the Skeena.
Gradually, as we were borne onward, we found the
■character of the hills changing. Instead of being bold
and peaked and serrated, they are covered with woods to
the summit. The valley begins to widen. To the right
rises Mount Garnet Wolseley, so named by Butler, the
last of the range that seem 'with sharp edges to cleave the
sky. Though the width of the river continues much the
same, yet the plateaux on either side broaden until the
hills are set about two miles apart, from north to south,
summit from summit. We recognise that we have
pierced, from west to east, the Eange of the Eocky
Mountains, through a pass about twenty-two miles in
length, borne pleasantly along in a large boat upon the
waters of the great TJnchagah.
Passing the Clearwater and other small tributaries,
whose crystal purity is in marked contrast with the
turbid, grayish colour of the Peace, we ran with safety
the Parle-pas rapid, so called because it is not heard far
up the river, and may be closely approached before it is
recognised as a strong rough rapid, although it speaks 156
loudly enough when you are once in its grasp and cannot
retrace your- course. Om- pilot, Charlie Favel, who had
gone forward to examine it before venturing to run it
held the long " sweep " that was lashed astern to serve as
the steering oar, for an ordinary rudder would be useless
here; the four oars were vigorously manned, and then into
the boiling current we went. We had taken the first plunge,
when mid-way we were caught by an eddy; the bow
swung around a little; had it swung much further we
must have been swamped, for the waves were angry as
in a storm at sea; the men bent themselves to their oars;
the helmsman let out some of his reserve strength ; it
Was only the work of an instant; the boat swung back,
into its true course, and the next moment we were in
calm water, wishing we had another rapid to run.
We passed a number of small streams, but below the
mouth of the Finlay the tributary streams are not as
large nor as frequent as one would expect in a land of
mountains. Indeed, until it receives the Pine Paver the
united waters of the streams on the eastern slopes scarcely
make any perceptible difference in the volume of the
main river. This may perhaps be due to the reduced
rain-fall on the eastern, as compared with that on the
western side of the mountains.
We were being borne pleasantly along by the strong
and steady current when, hush 1—" there's a moose," said
Charlie, and no one dared to distrust the old man's keen TEROUGE TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
vision. The splashing oars are silenced; all eyes are
turned away from stream, and hill, and wood, and are
focussed in one direction. Sure enough, there it is at
some distance down the river's bank, close by the water's
edge. Eager hands grasp the rifles, for we have been
hoping for a chance like this. The boat drops quietly
down the cm-rent, each head is bent low, we draw nearer
and nearer, we will soon be within safe and easy range.
No! surely, it cannot bo ! Yes, it is,—a great brown rock I
A growl of disappointment, then a general roar, and a
proposal to present the too blind, and too blindly trusted,
■Charlie with a pair of spectacles, — and om- solitary
moose-hunt is over.
Continuing down stream we find flats and benches in
almost unbroken succession, stretching between the river
and the now receding hills, some of them half a mile in
width, and less than thirty feet above the water's edge,
"with rich soil and luxuriant pasture. The banks,
"where not broken by tiie water that in places has exposed
the sand, clay, or gravel bed, are green with grass,
kinnikinnick, juniper, low red cedar, vetches, and the
beautiful silverbeny plant. Along both sides of the
river there are terraces, in tier upon tier, some with their
edges as clearly cut as if they had been meant for fortresses, others distinctly marked, but wooded; indeed
these terraces continue for many miles, a striking and
beautiful feature of the landscape, giving it an appear- 158
ance of cultivation. Those on the right bank are almost
uniformly timbered, those on the north bank are grassy
and smooth. Their sides are occasionally seamed by old
buffalo trails, for though the buffalo has not been seen
on the banks of the Peace for many years, this was once
the pasture land for large herds that found here their
western limit. Thoy wandered over a vast expanse of
country " in herds upon an endless plain." Prairie and
hill-side furnished them with unlimited supplies of food,.
for even in winter hy pawing away the light snow
they could always find plenty of grass upon the plains.
The bow and spear and rifle of the Indian long made
little inroad upon their numbers, while the reduction
thus caused would in the course of nature be soon repaired;
and it required but a small proportion of them to enable
the Indian to supply his own wants. The buffalo fed
him, clothed him, housed him, for his flesh was the
Indian's food, and -his hide gave him clothes and tent.
But the trader came wanting buffalo robes. The skill of
the Indian soon thinned out the herds, and the French
half-breeds carried on a still more successful war of
extermination against them. Fabulous numbers were
slain annually until, by degrees, the vast herds were
reduced, and now their number is so rapidly diminishing
that on all the Canadian plains the buffalo will soon be
Gradually the valley widens, sometimes from bank to TEROUGB TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
bank the river is not more than 500 feet, though it
usually spreads out its waters to twice that width. The
flats are frequently covered with aspens that seem here
to take, in part at least, the place which the cotton-wood
holds on the flats and islands of the Skeena and of the
Parsnip, indicating it is said a drier soil, if not also a
drier climate. Along the hill sides, on the northern
bank, the stratification of the rock can be very clearly
seen, traceable even below the grass, tho lines running
in various directions, though never much crumpled nor
abruptly broken. Throughout the Bocky Mountains, indeed, the strata of the rocks, which are chiefly limestone
and sand-stone, are easily discernible, while in the Cascade
Bange, composed of rocks of an earlier formation, scarcely
any sign of stratification can be detected.
The general appearance of the country upon either
side between the river and the now receding hills, and
particularly on the north side, is that of a pastoral district. Some of the flats and lower slopes might furnish
arable farms; others, at least in the summer season,
appear suited for stock raising, while the low grassy
hills resemble some of the sheep-farming portions of
Scotland. Mile after mile extend the terraces, sometimes as regular as if cut by square and rule, now smooth
as a lawn, now lightly wooded, cleft here and there by
Have the Indians no legends  connected with these s^fis
terraces ? They remind one somewhat of the " parallel
roads " of Glen Boy, but are as much greater in extent
as our Canadian North-West is more extensive than
Scotland. The Scottish Highlander has his legend, or
as he regards it, his true history of these parallel roads.
Tell him about the glacial period, when the whole land
was rasped by icebergs, or about ancient water-levels that
once stood high up along the slopes of Ben-Nevis, and he
smiles at your foolish fancies. Does he not know, for
did not his father tell him, that Fingal made those parallel
roads that he might hunt down the red-deer, when, with
the dogs, of whose prowess Ossian has sung, he coursed
the antlered game along the hill side ? Has the Indian
no legends, no traditions of paths cleft by the heroes of
old for the chase of moose, buffalo or grizzly ? Is
there nothing in the beliefs and byegone history of the
Indians of this northern land worthy of some antiquary's
time and study,—worthy even of some small place in our
English literature ?
Were it necessary to find a course for a railway as far
north as the Peace Biver Pass, a comparatively easy
route through the mountains is offered in this direction,
for even at the wildest and most rugged parts of the
Pass the mountains are almost invariably fringed by flats,
or by gentle slopes of varying width. One or two avalanche courses, a few ravines and occasional projections of-
rock would form the chief difficulties, which are appa-
rently much less serious than many obstacles that have
been overcome on other Canadian railways. At its
higher, or western, extremity the Pass is not more than
1650 feet above the sea level, and the current of the river,
which is very equable, is about four or five miles an hour
where it cuts through the mountain range. East of the
Pass, for fifty miles, until the Canon is reached, the engineering difficulties would probably be not much greater
than those presented by an open prairie, but the chief
difficulty on this route would be found at the Canon,
where the river sweeps around the base of a solitary,
massive hill known as the Mountain of Bocks, or Portage
Mountain, just above Hudson's Hope. Yet even here,
though the work would be heavy, the difficulties would
not be insuperable. For any railway line, however, that
would pass by a northern route through the Bocky
Mountains to the Pacific, the Pine Eiver Pass, a little to
the south of this, which is known to be practicable, would
be preferable to the route by way of Peace Eiver.
The Canon of the Peace Biver, which at its upper
extremity is about fifty miles east of the Bocky Mountains, is about twenty-five miles in length, and the river is
here a wild broken torrent, some 200 feet in width, which,
so far as known, has never been navigated except by the
dauntless Iroquois crew that accompanied Sir George
Simpson on his expedition to the Pacific, in 1828. Its
rocky sides have been rent and peeled by the current,
12 162
here scooped into great pot-holes, there seamed with
broad fissures, now broken into j agged edges, now worn
into smooth curves. The cliffs have in some places been
levelled into terraces, in others they rise sheer and precipitous over 250 feet. Clambering along the face of the
cliff where a foothold was possible we found a narrow seam
of coal, about 150 feet above the river. A weather-worn
piece, which was the best specimen that the situation
allowed us to procure, when tested at the camp-fire
burned with a bright flame but with a large proportion
of ash. Another seam was observed, about two feet
thick where exposed, and also a seam of lignite. The
course of the river here is always curved as it dashes
alternately to the right and left, while from end to end
the Canon forms one great curve around the base of Portage Mountain.
This Canon is the only obstruction to the navigation
of the river for several hundreds of miles. From the
head of the Cafion to the mouth of Pack Biver, that
empties the waters of Lake McLeod, that is, about 150
miles, or even further up the Parsnip, the river is navigable, except at low water, for steamers of light draught.
The Parle-pas and Finlay Bapids are the only rapids of
any importance. These can be run with ease and safety,
and could be surmounted without much difficulty by
warping the steamer against the current, as is done on
the heavier and more tortuous rapids of the Fraser and TEROUGB TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
the Columbia. From Hudson's Hope, at the lower end of
the Cafion, it flows full-fed and strong with no hindrance
to (-team navigation for nearly five hundred miles when
it leaps over the Vermilion Falls. Another break, requiring a few miles of land communication occurs at
the Five Portages, on Slave Biver. Beyond that there
is no further obstacle; the river is open to large steamers
down to the Arctic Ocean. There would thus be but
three breaks in the connection of continuous steam navigation from the mouth of Pack Biver down the Parsnip,
the Peace, the Slave and the Mackenzie,—different names
for one continuous water-course,—that is, from Northern
British Columbia, through the Eocky Mountains, by the
fertile Peace District, to the Northern Sea, a distance in all, by water, of not less than 2500 miles.
We were forced to abandon our boat at the head of the
Canon, but were fortunate enough to procure the horses
of some Indian hunters from Hudson's Hope to convey
om* supplies, baggage, etc., across the twelve mile Portage
to the foot of the Canon. At the Hope as elsewhere
throughout these northern districts the agent employs
two hunters to supply the Post with provisions. These
men, accompanied by their families and by two grown
lads who go with them to bring home the game, are
employed during most of the year in hunting. They
confine their attention almost entirely to moose and
bear, and scorn such small game as ducks and prairie- 164
chicken, however abundant. Each hunter gets ten dollars
worth of ammunition in spring, and the same in autumn,
a pound of tea, of sugar and of tobacco each month,
and he is paid from five to ten " skins " for each moose,
according to size, the "skin" being the chief currency
of the district, equivalent here to about $1.50. We
fortunately met the hunters of the Hope near the
Canon, and were thus spared the dreary toil of portaging our tents, supplies, etc., twelve miles. As their
horses were employed to convey the slaughtered game
to the trading-post their harness was of the rudest
kind, especially when compared with the well made, well
kept apparahoes of the mule-train. One outfit consisted
of a small pack-saddle, shaped something like a diminutive saw-horse, partly covered with patches of leather
and blanket, and girt with a broad belt of shaganappi.
The second horse carried two large bags, made of moose-
hide, that hung like panniers, one on either side. Another was equipped with what appeared to be either the
rudiments of a riding-saddle brought into use before it
had been finished, or the remains of a saddle in an
advanced stage of decay;—and so with the rest. We were
not, however, in a humour to criticize severely, but, thankful for such an unexpected conveyance, we were ready
to adopt what is called the Hudson's Bay fashion,—that
is, to use any thing you can get which will serve your
turn, and let the next man forage for himself. TEROUGB TBE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
The trail leads up to a broad terrace which skirts the
base of a hill known as the Buffalo's Head. The hill
takes this name from a favourite camping ground close
by, which has, for many years, been marked by the head
of the last buffalo that was shot in this part of the Peace
District. From its summit a wide sweeping view may
be had of the valley of the river westward to the giant
peaks that girt the Pass, and eastward towards Dunvegan
where it flows through fertile plains. We had hoped to
ascend this summit while delayed near the head of the
Cafion, but a dense haze like that of a day in the Indian
summer, only heavier, hung over the mountains, obscuring the view. The trail passes over rolling country,
partly open pasture land, partly wooded with aspen,
poplar, spruce, black pine and tamarac. On the north
side rises the Buffalo's Head, a bare and rugged bluff, its
sides covered with grass,—and facing it to the south of
the trail, some five or six miles from top to top, stands
the Portage Mountain, called formerly the Mountain of
Bocks, raising its huge shoulder above all around, and
flanked by a cluster of smaller hills that seem to lean
against its sides, converging towards the summit. These
may be regarded as spurs or foot-hills of the Bocky
Mountains, although fifty miles east of the main range.
It was late in the afternoon when we left the head of the
Cafion, and a thunder storm, which had been threatening
us for some hours, broke over us while on the trail.    As 166
we trudged along however, Charlie, our old pilot, who
knows the country from Bed Eiver to Victoria, whiled .
away the time with .rtories of the old mining days in
Omenica; how he had been among the first to " strike "
a paying bar on the Omenica, how Joe Evans, Bill
Boberts, Twelve-foot Davies and he had gone in as the
advanced guard of a rushing multitude; how flour sold
at a dollar a pound, and other provisions in proportion;
how Charlie himself turned his attention to the provision
market, and made twenty-five dollars a day by catching
and selling fish, while his klootchman, or Indian wife,
made five dollars a day by washing; and how, when the
Cassiar mines were opened, and Omenica was " played
out," he turned back to Fort St. James, having no wish
to wander as far as the banks of the Stickine. He
recalled, with evident satisfaction, the fact that he
had never known any case of assault among the miners
except one, in which he was himself the victim, when,
at an evening party, at which in his capacity of fiddler
he refused to play some particular tune, he was attacked
by an inebriated Irishman. He had never known a case
of theft among the miners, and, although for a time he
carried the express for Bufus Sylvester, Major Butler's
old travelling companion, and was known to be often the
solitary bearer of large sums of gold, yet none ever
attempted in the least degree to rob, molest or annoy him.
He attributed this excellent order in Omenica, as also TEROUGE TEE MOUNTAINS BY BOAT.
elsewhere throughout our British Columbia Mines, to
the efforts and reputation chiefly of Sir Matthew Begbie,
for whom the miners have a profound esteem ever since
his memorable caution to them at Kootenay:—" Boys I if
there is any shooting at Kootenay, there will be hanging
at Kootenay."
The rain was falling heavily, and the lightning playing
about us, as we pitched camp at the lower end of the Portage, on a plateau about ninety feet above the river. On
the opposite side, down near the water's edge, we saw a
■solitary light glimmering in the small log-house that is
known as Hudson's Hope. We had passed the Mountains,
and had entered on the vast Prairie Begion. CHAPTEE VIL
Hudson's hope to dunvegan.
Th<" Prairie Begion.—H. B. Company and the North-West Company.—Hudson's Hope.—Moose.—The Climate.—Fertile Flats-..
—The Plateau.—On the Baft.—Appearance of Country.—Fort>
St. John.—Massacre at the Old Fort.—Bear Hunting.—Dunvegan.—Highlanders Abroad.—Peace Biver Indians.—Moostoos,.
and his fight with a Grizzly.—Missions to the Indians.
During the past century mucb>has been done to explore
the extreme north of what is now the Dominion of
Canada; for, although the Hudson's Bay Company received their charter in 1670 few travellers ventured
beyond the shores of Hudson's Bay until about 1770,.
when Stearne discovered Great Slave Lake and traced
the Coppermine Biver to its mouth. Subsequent
explorers, some of whom were inspired by the hope of
discovering a north-west passage by sea from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, acquired much information-
regarding that lonely north-land, and mapped out the-
country that borders the Arctic Ocean. But, while the-
labours of Franklin, Back, Dease, Simpson, Eae, Eich-
ardson, MoClintook and others were making the world. BUDSON'S BOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
familial- with the shores of the Northern Sea, a vast
territory was lying between that remote north-land and
the western United States which was almost entirely
unknown to any except the Hudson's Bay Company
officials and Indians until 1857, when Captain Palliser
made an expedition from Lake Superior to the Eocky
Mountains. The lonely regions of the north may long
continue to be, as they have been for ages, the home of
the musk-ox, the summer resort of the elk, the hunting
ground of the Indian, and the preserve of the fur-trader,
unless indeed their minerals should prove of sufficient
value to attract capital and population; but this more
southern and mpre central territory, about which the
outer world was long kept in ignorance while those who
held it on lease retained it for buffalo and beaver and
other fur-bearing animals, is one of the most fertile parts
of our empire, and may soon become one of the chief
granaries of the world.
This district which is sometimes called the Prairie
Begion of Canada, and which includes the best portion
ofthe North-West Territories, may be roughly described
as a great triangle, one side stretching for nearly one
thousand miles- along the international boundary line—
the 49th parallel; another extending from the boundary
northward, in part along the foot of the Bocky Mountains, for about eight or nine hundred miles; while the
base of the triangle is formed in a broken and irregular 170
way by the chain of lakes that stretch from the Lake
of the Woods, a little east of Manitoba, north-westward
to Great Slave Lake.
The estimated area of this prairie region is not less
than three hundred millions of acres, that is, about ten
times the size of England. Manitoba, covering nine
millions of acres in the south-east corner of this vast
triangle, is as compared with the whole territory little
more than one square on the chess-board. It is unwater-
ed by a great system of rivers that flow into the chain of
lakes which bound it along the north-east, and these
lakes, in turn, are emptied by another river-system that
flows through the remoter north land into the Arctic
Ocean and Hudson's Bay. The Peace and the Athabasca cut across the northern portion of this territory;
the Saskatchewan cleaves its way for a thousand miles
through the rich central districts; while through the
south-eastern portions flow tbe Assiniboine and the Bed
Biver, which unite their waters at Winnipeg, the capital
of Manitoba and present gateway of the North-West.
This immense territory, as well as that lying to the
north, was, for two centuries, held by the Hudson's Bay
Company. For a time their exclusive right to it was disputed by a rival fur-trading corporation, the North-West
Company, which was formed in 1783, consisting chiefly
of French and Scottish residents in the old Province of
Lower Canada.    This Company following the track of BUDSON'S EOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
Verandaye, who had travelled from the St. Lawrence to
the Saskatchewan, pushed the fur-trade with great vigour,
extending their operations even to the Pacific. They
soon came into collision with the older corporation, and
not content with the peaceful rivalry of commerce, the
servants of the two companies had many a bloody conflict, until the antagonism that was proving fatal alike to
the lives of the traders, the profits of the traffic, and the
peace of the natives was ended by the amalgamation of
the two companies in 1821, under the title of the older
Thus reinforced, the Hudson's Bay Company secured
increased privileges and extended their sway over all
except our older Provinces from ocean to ocean, and from
the mouth of the McKenzie to the borders of- California,
for there was no doubt nor dispute at that time about the
rightful ownership of Oregon. Subsequently their territory was diminished, first by the sacrifice of Oregon to
the demands of the United States, and later, when Vancouver Island and British Columbia were erected into
Crown Colonies, but it was not until 1870, on the transfer
of the North-West Territories to Canada, that the Hudson's Bay Company, the last of the great monopolies that
have figured so largely in the colonial and commercial
annals of England, gave up their exclusive right to the
vast country that they had so long possessed.
During their tenure of the land, it had been the policy mrauMOBBs
of the Company to retain it as a great fur-preserve, and
therefore, they kept the outer world as far as possible in
ignorance of its resources and its capabilities, of its illimitable fertile prairies and its inexhaustible stores of coal,
of its capacity to support a population perhaps twenty
times as large as the present population of Canada. But
the time had come when the gates must be unbarred,
when, through the efforts of successive travellers the
character of the country was becoming known, while
competent men declared that the greater portion of the
wheat-lands of the continent were contained within this
territory that had so long been sacred to the fur-trade.
The settlement of the country could be delayed no
longer, and the Company, recognizing the necessity that
had been thrust upon them, and unable to secure the continuance of all their chartered privileges, transferred to
Canada their right and title to the whole tesritory ; and,
although on the Prairie Eegion the diminished yield of
furs, the increase of competition, and the progress of
settlement must reduce their traffic, yet, in the remoter
north-land competition will be powerless for many
years to come, and both soil and climate will protect
them-from the inroads of colonisation.
The Company, consisting originally of Prince Bupert
and seventeen others, acquired their right and title
as " the Governor and Company of adventurers trading
with   Hudson's   Bay,"   under   charter   from   Charles EUDSON'S BOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
the Second on the easy terms that two- elks and two
black beavers should be paid to the king whenever
he might come into the country. They received in
-extinction of their claim the payment of one and a half
millions of dollars, the grant of fifty thousand acres
selected in the vicinity of their forts or trading-posts,
.and the reserve of one-twentieth of the so-called "fertile
belt," that is, of the portion of the prairie region lying
south of the north branch of the Saskatchewan.
When we reached Hudson's Hope we had completely
passed the Mountains, even such outlying 6purs as the
Portage Mountain and the Buffalo's Head; and here,
still following the Peace, we entered on the great Prairie
Begion, for the river carves its way through the upper
portion of this vast fertile triangle in its course to the
Northern Sea
The Hope is an outpost of the Hudson's Bay Company
.station at Fort St. John, forty-three miles further down
the river, and is the most western post of the Dunvegan
-district. The agent, Charlotte Dumas, an active, sinewy,
kind and trustworthy half-breed, with a guest of his,
Bob Armstrong, gave us a cordial welcome when we
"visited them soon after our arrival. Bob is a specimen
of character more frequently met in British Columbia
than elsewhere in Canada, an educated, intelligent
rambler, gold-hunter and trapper by turn, captivated by
"the wandering life for which this country affords abundant 174
scope, and now grown so accustomed to it that a city
would seem to him like a prison He had just returned
from Moberley's Lake where he had been " fishing for
the dogs,' as he expressed it that is, catching fisb to-
feed the dogs, for dogs must be fed summer and winter,
in order to be ready for their winter's work. While
feeding the dogs, Bob had also been doing something
towards the provision supply of the post, but this responsibility rests mainly upon the Indian hunters, while
Dumas himself attends to fur-trading, As the hunters
usually devote themselves to one kind of game at a time,
the people at the Hope, as at the other smallei trading-
posts, have not much variety of food; when they have
moose they have little else than moose, and when they
have fish or bear it is, as Armstrong said, " fish or bear
Throughout the Peace Biver country the moose is to
the Indian almost everything that the buffalo is to the
hunter of the plains, for this is the best moose country
in Canada. The flesh is his chief article of food; the
skin, when tanned, is the great material for dress, at least
for winter costume, while untanned it is used for countless purposes, among others, as the covering for his tent
or tepee; and cut into strips, in which form it is known
as " shaganappi," it serves in almost every manufacture,
and for all kinds of z-epairs When moose are plentiful
traders and Indians live well, for moose moufiie and EUDSONS BOPB TO DUNVEGAN
tongue is a dish for kings to dine upon. Sometimes,
however, when the hunters are unsuccessful for several
weeks, the people at some of the posts may be reduced
to the verge of starvation. Two years ago Dumas was
compelled to Mil one of his horses for food, and last
spring he and his family had to eat some of the parchments which had served as window panes, and only
regretted that they had not enough of them.
Yet, while dependent for food on the precarious supply
of the chase, they might at this trading-post, as at every
other throughout the Dunvegan district, raise abundance
of stock and excellent crops with very little difficulty.
The soil of the broad river flat on which the house is situated is of the richest loam, and in the little garden
attached to it wheat and vegetables grow to perfection.
On the elevated plateaux, far above the river level, the
grass is so abundant that horses and cattle can feed in large
numbers. The horses can winter out, and sufficient wild
hay could, with no great labour, be cut for winter-feeding
a large number of cattle. Dumas informed us that sometimes frost occurs late in the spring, although potatoes
are usually planted by the first week in May. It had
occurred, for instance, on the 15th May preceding our visit,
but they rarely have any frost from that time until September, the river being usually open until the beginning
of December.
Indeed, we had already observed the marked change that there is between the climate on the east, and that
on the west side of the Bocky Mountains, that on the
east being drier and much warmer. This is probably due
in part at least, to the fact that the prevailing westerly
winds blowing from the Pacific have, by the time they
come so far inland, been relieved of much of their moisture,—first by the Cascade Eange, and then by the
Eocky Mountains,—and becoming drier they become
warmer, while at the same time the general level of the
country here is lower than that of northern British
Columbia, But the temperate climate is, no doubt, caused
also in part by the warm current of air, the Gulf Stream
ofthe atmosphere, that flows from the south along the central part of the continent. From the Gulf of Mexico, a
great plain occupies nearly all the central portion of North
America as far as the Arctic Sea. Along this region of
plain and prairie the heated air of the tropics must move
northwards,* and probably to this, as much as to the
winds from the Pacific, we owe the moderate climate of
om* North-West. One naturally forms an impression of
the climate of this country from the latitude, an impression that in the minds of many has been confirmed by
reading Butler's Wild North Land, a record of a winter
trip when the lakes and rivers were ice-bound and the
country was covered with snow. But one might as correctly form his Impressions of the climate of Ontario
by   the wintry photographs that English visitors in EUDSON'S EOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
Canada so frequently send to their friends at home.
Here, at Hudson's Hope, for instance, the climate is as
conducive to life and comfort as it is in Ontario, ten
degrees further south, while, throughout the North-West
Territory, with its dry air, its bright sunshine, and its
cool summer nights, fevers and bronchial affections are
almost unknown, and the conditions for health and labour
are peculiarly favourable.
At Hudson's Hope the fertile part of the Peace Biver
district may be said to commence, for above the Cafion
the land suitable for farming is very limited. As yet,
indeed, the only places occupied by the white man,
throughout this vast northern country, are the Hudson's
Bay Company posts, a few mission stations, and two or
-three " free-traders'" establishments, and these are uniformly found on the fertile flats near the river's edge.
On these flats the soil is usually of the richest character;
the garden at the Hope, for instance, though but poorly
cultivated, yields as good vegetables as are found in any
of our eastern markets, with excellent wheat and barley,
though these are grown in quantities so small as simply
to serve as samples of what the district might produce.
•On a similar flat at Fort St. John, wheat, barley, and a
.great variety of vegetables, are successfully cultivated,
while a still greater variety, including cucumbers, are
grown at Dunvegan, ninety-seven miles below Fort St.
John.   It is the same at all the Hudson's Bay Company
13 '•irriuM
posts along the valley of the Peace. Wheat is grown as
far north as Fort Simpson in lat: .62° ; while wheat and
barley grown at the Chipewyan Mission, on Lake Atha-
baska, in lat: 58° 42", fully 600 miles north of Winnipeg,
took a medal at the Centennial exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.
By the Peace Biver district, however, we do not mean
merely the fertile flats that skirt the river, but the vast
plateau that, with few interruptions, extends in unbroken level for many miles on either side, at an altitude,
in this western part, of about nine hundred feet above
the river level, an altitude that gradually diminishes to
about fifty feet below Vermilion, five hundred miles
further down the river. This plateau, through which
the Peace winds with a gentle current and almost as
uniformly as a canal, is narrow near Hudson's Hope, but
widens as it stretches eastward. Along the north bank,
for a width varying from twenty-five to seventy miles, the
land is known to be very fertile, partly well timbered,
partly covered with light poplar, partly prairie, with
rich herbage, luxuriant wild hay and pea-vine, at least
as far as the Salt Springs on Slave Biver; while on the
south side it embraces one of the most fertile and promising tracts of the North-West, known as La Grande
Prairie, and, pursuing a south-easterly direction across
the Athabasca to Edmonton, the greater portion of the
land is fit for cultivation. HUDSON'S HOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
For our journey down the river below the Cafion we
could not procure a boat, nor could we even obtain
canoes; we were therefore compelled to make a raft, on
which we drifted slowly down to Dunvegan, one hundred
and forty miles, the- current of the river being here somewhat slacker than it is nearer the mountains. Sometimes the river is not more than eight hundred feet in
width, but frequently it broadens to half a mile, encircling islands in its flow. These islands are very beautiful,
some being thickly wooded, and gracefully arched, rising
like domes from the water's level—others, such as Les
Isles des Pierres, about five miles below Hudson's Hope,
being rocky, with flat lightly-wooded tops and precipitous sides, along which the sandstone strata are
clearly marked, looking at a little distance as regular as
masonry. The benches or terraces, continue, but not in
so marked a manner, nor in so great a number as above
the Canon. Occasionally we ascended the plateau and
found the soil uniformly fertile,—in some parts heavily
•timbered, in others lightly wooded with poplar copse,—
with occasional stretches of open prairie that increased
in number and extent as we moved eastward.
Drifting down a large and gentle river on a raft is not
very exciting; it had, however, in our case at least, the
one advantage of allowing us leisure to observe the
scenery, which, though here not wild nor mountainous, is
by no means monotonous.    The river flows in long, sweep- 180
ing curves, with easy equable current. Borne onward by
its flow one fails to recognise the even level of the upper
plateau, as the lofty banks are so varied by valley and
ravine, by slope and terrace. Sometimes they are steep,
almost precipitous, walls of shale, sandstone or indurated
clay,—sometimes they are fringed by wooded flat or
shelving beach, with here a land-slide exposing a hank
of clay, there a deep gorge, its sides peeled to the bare
sand-stone or clothed with foliage. Now the valley
broadens, so that the expanded waters flow more gently,
again it narrows as if to impede the river, which is thus
forced into a stronger current. Each afternoon, for it
was now the last week of July, a heavy haze, deepening
as the day wore on, hung over the river, and, looking be*
hind us, it seemed to take a warm golden tinge from the
light of the westering sun. It was not fog nor smoke;
it reminded us of pictures of tropical scenery in which
form and colour alike grow indistinct as river and bank
and island are shrouded in dimness caused by the vapour
and the heat.
In a wide bend on the northern bank of the river
where the Valley broadens to nearly a mile, backed by
grassy and lightly wooded slopes, nestles the little post
of Fort St. John. An older building than the present
one stood, some years ago, on the opposite bank, where
the garden of the Fort is now; and a still older Fort St.
John once stood about fifteen miles below this, at the SUDS0N8 HOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
mouth of the North Pine Biver The present Fort is of
the usual pattern of the smaller Hudson's Bay posts,—a
very plain building of squared logs, with store and outhouses attached; while nearer the beach stands the log
cabin recently occupied by the notorious Nigger Dan.
We ascended the plateau and walked back about a
mile. The soil is surprisingly rich and the vegetation
very luxuriant. Mr. Selwyn, who rode about seven
miles from the river over the table-land or plateau,
describes it as "a fine level or slightly undulating country, covered with the richest herbage of astonishing
luxuriance," and he adds-. " I have seen nothing in the
Saskatchewan region that at all equals it; both the soil
and the climate here are better."* Nigger Dan, however,
who is an experienced gardener, and to whom ,we are
indebted for some of the most recent records of climate
at Fort St. John, where he lived for several years, differs
from Mr. Selwyn in this comparison of the valleys of
the Saskatchewan and the Peace. Having spent, unwillingly, the summer of 1879 at Fort Saskatchewan, he says
that he considers the Edmonton District superior to the
Peace Biver country both in regard to soil and climate.
The day being very clear and cool with a strong wind
from the west, we could see the Bocky Mountains, some
seventy miles away there being apparently nothing but
prairie between us and them.   To the south of the Peace
•Report of Progress, Geol. Survey of Canada, 1875-76, p. 51. tuiaamn
the country seemed to be about the same level as that ca
which we stood, that is, about nine hundred feet above
the river, at least as far back as the valley of the Pine
Eiver, which joins the Peace about five miles below Fort
St. John Beyond the Pine Eiver we could see low rolling hills, but between the two valleys, away up as far as
Hudson's Hope, there was unbroken plateau.
It was now indeed, for the first time, that we began to
realize the character of the country on which we had
entered. Thus far we had only seen the western end of
this fertile plateau, where it narrows towards the mountains. To the east it stretches for many leagues, in
almost unbroken level, as far as Lesser Slave Lake;—to
the north we know not accurately how far, as exploration has hitherto been confined to the vicinity of the
river valley. To the south-east, after you have passed
the foot-hills of the Eocky Mountains, the plateau extends, with few interruptions, to the valley of the Saskatchewan
Some parts of this plateau are indented with valleys,
or broken by low ranges of hills, some are wooded
densely or lightly, and others are covered with the
richest grass. Turn up the soil and almost everywhere
you find it rich with promise of the most bountiful returns for any thai will till it. Follow the course of the
broad Peace Eiver as it winds in long sweeping curves
through this vast fertile country, and though you find its BUDSONS EOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
eides, now grooved by landslips or carved and rolled into
terraces, now covered with trees or grassy as a lawn, yet,
above and beyond all the windings of the river and the
varied contour of its banks, stretches the prairie in
miles of superior soil, vast, rich and silent, traversed
only by the few Indians that disturb the solitude. Becords'
of the climate kept at Fort St. John shew that the first
snow-fall usually occurs towards the end of October; the
average date for the first appearance of ice on the river
is about the 7th November, and for the opening of the
river about the 20th April, while planting begins early
in May, and potato digging about the third week in
September. The average depth of snow does not exceed
two and a half to three feet; and here, as throughout
the district, the horses winter out, finding abundant grass
on the neighbouring slopes and plateaux, Major Butler
states that when he passed here he encountered the
first mosquito of the year on the 20th April, an incident
that to many in Ontario may be expressive of the early
opening of the season.
We left Fort St. John at noon on the 30th July. Five
miles below the Fort we passed the mouth of Pine Eiver
which flows in from the south, a river that has become
well-known to many, at least by name, in connection
with one of the proposed routes of the Canadian Pacific
Bailway, as the valley of the Pine Eiver offers perhaps
the easiest and most practicable Pass through the Bocky :^jmg
Mountains. Were it desirable to select a Pacific terminus
for om- trans-continental road as far north as Port Simpson, there would be no serious engineering difficulties in
constructing a line from the prairie region, by way of
Pine Biver Pass and the neighbourhood of Babine, down
the valley of the Skeena to the coast, Below the mouth
of the Pine the Peace is dotted with numerous islands,
which have apparently been produced by land slides or
by alluvial deposits washed down by the current, as they
show evidence of good soil similar to that on the flats
along the river banks.
Later in the afternoon we passed the mouth of North
Pine Biver, which joins the Peace about ten miles below
the mouth of the stream of the same name that flows in
from the south. Here stood the old Fort St. John which
was in 1823 the scene of a horrible massacre. Hughes,
the only White man then at the fort, had in some way
aroused the anger of an Indian, who, entering the store
soon after with some companions, threatened to take his
life, and before any defence was possible shot him dead.
At the time a party of H. B. Company voyageurs were
coming down the river from Hudson's Hope, and were
approaching the Fort immediately after the murder,
when an old woman shouted to them to keep away, as
the Indians had already killed the agent. Either not
Understanding or not believing her they landed, but as
they did  so the whole crew, four in number, were shot. Shortly after another crew coming down the river towards
the Fort, were hailed and warned by the old Indian woman.
The interpreter, Charlette Lafleur, who was in the canoe,
believing the woman's story, told the rest ofthe crew, and
they at once took the other side of the river and passed
down to Dunvegan. A few days later a solitary Indian,
who is still living at Fort Vermilion, was coming down
the river with letters from Hudson's Hope. Landing at
Fort St. John, he found the place utterly abandoned, except by dogs that held carnival over the unburied remains of the dead, As soon as word was brought to Dunvegan Mr. McLeod, the agent then in charge, sent men in
pursuit ofthe murderers, but the whole band, who were not
Beaver Indians but Sieanies, had vanished, some crossing
the Bocky Mountains, others fleeing in the direction of
the Lower Mackenzie, all escaping beyond capture.
Even the Beaver Indians fled for a time from the country, so that the whole district was abandoned. Dunvegan had to be deserted, as there were no longer any to
trade with. Subsequently the Beavers returned to their
old hunting grounds, and asked the Company to re-open
their post at Dunvegan, which they did in 1828; but
forty years passed before a station was re-opened in the
neighbourhood of old Fort St. John, and then it was not
at the scene of the massacre, but at a spot above it on
the opposite side of the river, from which it was afterwards removed to the present site. 186
Our life on the raft was varied by the excitement of
looking for bears along the grassy slopes of the north
bank, as there is here a great profusion of saskatum, or
service-berry bushes, and the bears, being exceedingly
fond of these berries, come out upon the high sloping
banks to enjoy them. Sometimes we saw ten or twelve in
a day, although in almost every instance they were beyond
range of our rifles, and we could not spare time for hunting. The ds*y after we left Fort St. John, however, we
saw one so near that McLeod, Major and I were induced
to go ashore for a chase. Snubbing the raft to a tree, up we
went through the thicket and along the flat, and then over
the low grassy hills, one of the young Indians leading at
a rapid pace. We had tried to arrange a plan of action
so that the rifles would be stationed to the best advan
tage before we closed in upon our game, but Peter the
Indian was so eager that he simply gave chase like a
sleuth-hound, while we three followed to the best of our
ability, hurrying' to such points as we thought the bear
might probably pass if escaping the nearest rifle. We
soon heard the crack of the Indian's gun, and saw a
huge black bear rolling heels over head down the hill in
a direct line for Major, who fired at him, and then
stepped quickly and gracefully aside to give him the
road, tkinking that he must be already in the throes of
death. None of us, except the Indian who could not
speak English, knew that a bear, in hurrying down hill, ff&
frequently prefers to roll heels over head, as he makes
more speed in this way than by running, his fore legs
being so much shorter than his hind legs. What was
Major's surprise to find that the bear, after rolling to
the foot of the hill, instead of resting in eternal stillness
hurried off into the bushes. We gave chase, tracking
him, as best we could, by the blood which stained the
grass and bushes, but we frequently got off the scent for
a time and so made slow progress. We had a dog, the
property of our foreman, McNeill, but whistle and call
alike failed to wile him from the provision stores on the
raft, so, after following the blood-stained trail for about
a mile, we gave up the chase, and returned to the raft,
finding the remaining members of the party in a state
of eager expectation, which was soon changed into bitter
disappointment as our failure dispelled the vision of
bear-steak that had risen before their minds. In the
afternoon of the same day we had another bear hunt;
this time it was a grizzly. We thought we had him as
an easy prey, for he was swimming across the river, and
though at some distance above us seemed to be carried towards us by the current; but the same current was hurrying us on also, and a raft is rather unwieldy in a strong
stream. Bang I hang I went rifle and shot gun, but,
though a shower of lead fell around him, he seemed to
have a charmed life, or something was seriously wrong
with our rifles,—we shall not say with om* riflemen.   In <&fmim
the evening around the camp-fire there was a general
feeling of self-condemnation that we had to make our
supper off the old stand-by of bacon and beans, instead
of having a toothsome slice of fresh bear.
Several times in our course down the river, when we
ascended the plateau, we were unable, on account of the
clumps of wood, to obtain any very extensive view. The
trail by which Messrs. Macoun and Horetzky travelled, in
1872, runs below Fort St. John, on the south side of the
Peace. Ofthe country along the southern bank, at a little
distance from the rough and thickly wooded part that
borders the river between Dunvegan and Fort St. John,
Mr. Horetzky writes:— " The whole- country passed over
" during these few days was varied in appearance, the trail
" passing through wood and prairie, principally the
" former, and for the last two days through a rough coun-
" try covered with dense forest. A good many large
" creeks were crossed, and they invariably flowed through
" deep depressions cut out by themselves, to a depth of
" three and four hundred feet where we passed over them.
" Some very beautiful prairie land was also seen, but we
" always kept to the north of La Grande Prairie, which
"unfortunately we had not time to visit. Still the
" favourable appearance of the country we had passed
" through argued greatly in favour of the more southern
" section about which we had heard so much."*
* Canada ou the Paoifio: -p 47. EUDSONS BOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
Gently but steadily we were swept onward towards
Dunvegan, the central H. B. Company's post of the
Peace Biver district, reaching it on the 1st August.
Since leaving Fort St. James, at Stewart's Lake (the
central dep6t of New Caledonia), this was the point
towards which our thoughts were turned, for here we
would rendezvous for a short time, here would begin for
some of us the homeward journey, and here, though still
more than twelve hundred miles from Winnipeg, we would
at least seem to be nearing home.
The name Dunvegan recalled a scene very different
from any to be met with on the banks of the Peace.
Far away on the north coast of Skye, on a rocky steep
washed by the wild Atlantic, stands Dunvegan the Castle
of McLeod. To the west can be seen the lonely Island
of Lewis, but for the rest that western view is one of sea
and sky,—the ocean in calm and in storm,—the sky in
dull grey or deep blue, its clouds torn and broken in the
tempest or resting motionless in purple and gold near
the setting sun. To the south rise the grim hills of
Coolin; to the east the mountains of the main land.
From that country of beauty and romance, of wild scenery,
weird legend and thrilling memories, came one of the
McLeods, many years ago, with fond recollections of his
northern home, and, as lie planted this fur-trading post
in the distant west, he named it after the chief castle of
his clan. 190
How fondly and frequently the thoughts of the Scottish
Highlander turn to the home of his childhood. He recalls
the outline of each hill as if it were some dear familiar
face; he sees the well-known loch, now mirroring the
sky, and now whipped into foam by a squall from some
neighbouring glen; he treads again, as in boyhood, the
winding path to the church, joins in the service with
lowly and simple worshippers, and lingers in the Mrk-
yard where the dust of his fathers is laid. He may pass
from that early home through the impulse, it may be, of"
an honourable ambition, or perhaps forced through the
selfishness of the lords of the soil. Let him revisit the
land of his fathers, he may find many of the glens now
silent save for the bleating of the sheep, the old church
perhaps closed for very lack of worshippers, monuments in the kirk-yard to the memory of those who have
now no living representative in the land that once knew
them, while in some little church-yard in Glengarry or
Pictou, or other parts of Canada that were settled by
Scottish Highlanders, may be found tombstones bearing
the same names, and, close by, the living heirs of the
men that once peopled those Highland glens. Yet meet
him where you may you will find that, so long at least
as he is true to the habits and the memories of his early
years, the Highlander is strong in courage and fidelity,
strong in self-reliance and in simplicity of life, and, as a
tender tribute to the memory of the old land, he transfers
*JM mtit
at least the names of her lochs and hills and castles to the
land of his adoption.
Very unlike the original Dunvegan is this H. B. Company's post that bears that Highland name. It stands
on a broad low flat in a large bend, on the northern bank
of the river, some thirty feet above the water level.
Behind it rises an abrupt ridge, broken by grassy slopes
and knolls, and leading to the rich pasture land of the
plateau that spreads its vast expanse eight hundred feet
above the fort. A new residence has recently been built,
and a new store is in course of completion, but with these
oxceptions the buildings have a neglected, outworn look,
as if in the prospect of the new the old had not been
protected against decay.
At the time of om- visit the Indians from the surrounding country had gathered near Dunvegan, to collect
service-berries for spicing their moose pemmican,
and to procure supplies for their autumn hunt.
As they came in on the Sabbath morning to the
Boman Catholic mission in the neighbourhood of the
Fort, they inspected us and our tents with the liveliest
curiosity, many of them lingering around the fire where
the cook was at work in evident anticipation of some
show of hospitality on our part. They presented every
variety of Indian dress and fashion, except the war
paint; some wore the old Hudson s Bay capote of navy-
blue  cloth with brass buttons; some wore skin  coats r-F-^rJiiM
I  *"
richly tasselated; others were gorgeous in embroidered
leggings, or in hats trimmed with feathers and gay
ribbons; while the women were dressed simply in
tartans, bright patterns being evidently preferred, as
if Scottish taste prevailed in the selection of imported
goods as well as in the naming of the forts. And
Scottish influence does largely prevail,—for almost every
H. B. Company's agent from Dunvegan to the mouth of
the Mackenzie is a Scotchman by birth or by descent, and
it is a common saying there, as in other parts of the
North-West, that the success of the Hudson's Bay Company is due to Scotchmen and shaganappi.
Ons of these Indians, Moostoos by name, was worth
seeing, for he had passed through the rare experience of
fighting a grizzly bear and living to tell it. The black
bear is a common enough foe for these men to face, but
few men survive a hand-to-hand encounter with a grizzly.
Moostoos had come unexpectedly upon one that he found
gorging himself on the remains of a black bear, and the
grizzly at once turned on him. The Indian kept his
ground, and as the bear rose on his hind legs to
attack him he aimed at his breast, drew the trigger, but
the old flint-lock missed fire. Immediately the grizzly
sprang forward, and as he did so the Indian drew his
knife, but with one blow the bear struck it from him
and then felled him to the ground utterly defenceless,    His only possible chance now was to feign death, EUDSON'B BOPE TO DUNVEGAN. 193
for many a wild animal, if not hungry, will leave a man
as soon as he seems to be dead. With tooth and claw
the bear tore his flesh, at one stroke taking away his
scalp, carrying the right ear with it, at another stripping
a large piece from his shoulder, at another rending a
piece from his side. Through all this torture poor
Moostoos remained conscious, but was motionless as a
corpse till the grizzly, apparently thinking that he was
dead, moved off, and then the lacerated man dragged
himself to the camp. He has never wholly recovered,
though it is four years since this happened, but he still
hunts with much energy and success. It is hardly
possible for him, however, to go nearer to the jaws of
death without finding them close on him for ever than
he did in his fight with the grizzly.
There is a Eoman Catholic Mission near Dunvegan
conducted by Pere Tessier, one of the Oblate Fathers,
who was sufficiently liberal in spirit to join with us in
om- service on the evening of the Sunday that we spent
here.* The Pei-e told us that he had observed some
improvement among the Indians of later years, which
he ascribes to the influence of the Mission, especially in
their increasing regard for the marriage tie, and their
•The form of service used by us, on this as on almost every other
Sunday was one of those which, prepared by three clergymen of the
Anglican, Boman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches, have been
published under the title of Short Sunday Services for Traveller^ by
Dawson Brothers, Montreal.
14 Jt^um
carefulness in observing the Sabbath—things not only
good in themselves, but probable indications of improvement in other respects. It used to be common enough for
husband and wife to desert each other according to th©
attractions offered by some third party, as weD as for
the husband to take to his wigwam more than one wife,
his practice of polygamy depending chiefly upon the
amount of his worldly property and on his ability to
keep his lodge supplied with game. Gradually however
they are improving in this respect, as they are also in
keeping the Sabbath. As yet their chief way of observing it is by abstaining from travelling or hunting,
though sometimes, like their better educated white
brethren, they try to bring conscience and desire into1
harmony by starting on a journey on Saturday and
pleading the necessity of continuing it on Sunday. Yet
some of them regard this, as one of themselves expressed
it, as "trying to dodge the devil around the stump."
Mission work, however, must make very slow progress
among them, if for no other reason, on account of their
wandering life, as they are hunting during a great portion of the year, and while hunting they are generally
separated, or banded perhaps in groups of not more
than two or three families. There is thus little or no
opportunity of educating their children, or of acquainting
either old or young with more than the outward forms
and requirements of Christianity.    Several missions are EUDSONSEOPE TO DUNVEGAN.
maintained in this remote part of the North-West by the
Oblate Fathers, the only Protestant missions throughout
the district being those of the Church of England under
the direction of Bishop Bompus, the Bishop of Athabasca,
whose head-quarters are at Fort Chipewyan. In addition
to the bishop there are four clergymen scattered throughout this vast diocese, one at Vermilion, two on the Mackenzie, and one on the Yucon. They labour unweariedly
among their widely scattered flocks, the bishop himself,
as well as the others, very frequently visiting the Indians
on their hunting expeditions. They have to face many
discouragements, not only from the difficulties of travel
but from the slow and small results that they can witness
from their labours, as the wandering life of the people
precludes anything like the success that has attended
some of the missions to the Indians of British Columbia,
notably that established by Mr. Duncan at Metlahkatlah.
Efforts are being made to secure the education of the
children, and if possible to induce some of the Indians
to cultivate the soil, but where game is so abundant it
cannot be expected that the Indians will take to farming
for many years to come. CHAPTEE Vm.
Province of Unchagah Outfits of exploring parties.—Old journals
at Dunvegan.—Becords of climate.—Beaver Indians.—Cree
music.—Expedition to Battle Biver.—Character of country.—
Bear-hunting.—Size and character of Peace Biver Country.—
The climate.—Danger of summer frosts.—Increased sunlight.
—Temperature.—Coal-beds.—Facilities of communication.
The Peace Biver country, which is destined to become
an important province,—the Province of Unchagah, let
us call it,—may be said, so far as agricultural resources
are concerned, to begin near Hudson's Hope. West of
that the areas of fertile land are confined to tbe river
flats and to some restricted benches, and even for some
distance eastward till you approach Fort St. John the
arable land is very limited. From Fort St John it
stretches southward and southeastward along the foothills of the Eocky Mountains to the banks of the Athabasca, eastward to Lesser Slave Lake and the hilly country
that lies between it and the Athabasca Biver, northeastward as far as Lake Athabasca. The great river that
unwaters   it and that gives it its name, entering; this PEACE RIVER COUNTRY. 197
fertile tract at the Canon, flows for nearly two hundred
and fifty miles in an easterly course, till fifty miles below
Dunvegan, after receiving from the south-west its chief
tributary, the Smoky Biver, it turns suddenly northward.
Then, after flowing in many curves and with gentle current for about three hundred miles it bends again, near
Fort Vermilion, to continue its winding course eastward
for two hundred miles more till it meets the waters that
empty Lake Athabasca. Here it drops the name that it
has borne from its entrance into the Bocky Mountains,
to be known as the Slave, and lower down as the Mackenzie, as it rolls towards the Northern Sea.
We spent the month of August in this district of the
great Unchagah, traversing the lower portion of it in
different directions, om* explorations extending northward seventy miles from Dunvegan, eastward as far as
Lesser Slave Lake, and, including some subsequent
examinations made by Messrs. Dawson and McLeod,
southward to the banks of the Athabasca.
Dunvegan was our head-quarters, and though we deeply
regretted the absence of the factor, Mr. Macdougall, we
were greatly assisted by his clerk, Mr. Kennedy, in
making all necessary arrangements. Of course we were
dependent on " the Company " for the supply of horses,
as the mule-train from Pine Biver could not reach
Dunvegan before the middle of August; and we were
also dependent upon their agent to secure some Indian MOUNTAIN AND PRAIRIE.
guides. The horses, however, were running wild upon
the plateau, and the " horse-guards" moved slowly in
search of them, so that we could only procure enough to
carry tents, provisions, etc., for two small exploring
parties. Even after the horses had been secured, pack
saddles required repairs, large supplies of shaganappi
had to be provided, and a number of etceteras collected, as
varied as the outfit of a small family on a holiday trip to
the seaside. When other arrangements had been completed there would invariably be some delay in concluding terms with the Indian guides. The Indian is
never in a hurry, except when running down game. In
the ordinary concerns of life he endorses the saying that
" hours were made for slaves;" as for himself, being
a freeman, he can take time in large allowance and deal
with it liberally. Try to secure him as your guide, and
up to the last moment he will hesitate, like a gun that
hangs fire. However attractive your offer may be, and
however much he may really desire to go with you, an
Indian will seldom show any anxiety to accept your offer,
especially if he thinks that you are at all eager to engage
him. He may be wooed; but he will not be deprived of
his rights of courtship. Even after he begins to yield,
having determined from the first to go, he will picture
all sorts of difficulties, either by way of testing your
courage and determination or by way of showing his
own extraordinary self-denial.   And after all is arranged, PEACE RIVER COUNTRY. 199
and you have stipulated how many skins' worth of goods
he will get for his services, he will loiter around the
camp, and until he sees you active and in earnest he will
not bridle a horse; but when he is fairly started, though
often lazy he is always trustworthy.
Messrs. Cambie and McLeod having secured the necessary conveyance and outfit, started on exploring trips in
different directions through the southern country. I
was anxious to go north as far as Battle Biver, but could
not for lack of horses. During this enforced delay, I
had the opportunity of examining the old journals of
Dunvegan, and of growing somewhat familiar with life
at an H. B. Company's Fort. The oldest of these records
is of date 11th May, 1828, when the post was re-opened
after it had been abandoned for five years on account of
the massacre at Fort St. John. The entries of that date
tell that the buildings were found in a very dilapidated
condition,—that numerous tracks of buffalo, moose, etc.,
were noticed all around the Fort,—and add, " the men
" commenced to get a plough and harrow ready to sow
" and plant wheat, barley and potatoes, having brought
" up a quarter keg wheat, one keg barley and ten kegs
"potatoes." A little later, there is the following
reference to the visit of Sir George Simpson, who passed
Dunvegan on his tour to the Pacific:—" Wednesday, 21th
" August, 1828. In the afternoon was agreeably surprised
" by the arrival of two canoes, being Governor Simpson, 200
" and suite, consisting of the following members—
" namely—A. Macdonald, (Chief Factor), Dr. Hamelyn,
" William McGillivray, clerk, and nineteen men, two
" women and one child. They are on their way, around
" by New Caledonia, to Columbia. Thursday 28th August-
" Busy making up pemmican, etc., for the strangers. The
" Governor had some conversation with the Indians, and
" his speech to them was much to the purpose. The
'• sounding of the bugle, the piper dressed in Highland
" dress playing the bag-pipes, and every appearance,
" made the Indians stare and wonder."
Judging by these old records, life at Dunvegan has
not been very exciting for the past fifty years. There
are horses to be sent in one direction or another, hunters
to be fitted out for a fresh start, repairs and improvements to be made about the establishment, occasional
fresh arrivals of Indians requiring attention, the
crops or the garden in need of care, inventories to be
made of goods received or despatched, parcels to be
forwarded when occasion offers, trips to be made in different directions, on foot, on horseback, in canoe, or
with dog-train, according to the country to be traversed
and the season of the year. Matters of this kind seem
trivial enough to the readers of newspapers, but they are
the subjects around which, for the most part, the
thoughts and actions of the white man in this northern
land have centred ever since white men were seen here. PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
Sometimes the entries in these old journals indicate the
extreme loneliness of the situation. The entry for
December 15th, 1874, is: " What a glorious country for
" a convict settlement; the last news from the civilized
'' world was in the beginning of June "; while that of
April llth, 1878, is: "Cry of starvation all over the
country." Indeed, the want of food seems to prevail
among the Indians more or less every spring, as at that
season the hunters have often very little success. On
the fly-leaf of one or more of the journals, as in those
of many other H. B. C. posts, may be found the familiar
verse, attributed to Alexander Selkirk, calling in question the charms of solitude.
Sometimes these records convey important information about the climate. They show, for instance, that,
for the past six years, the average date for the departure
of ice from the river opposite Dunvegan has been the
18th April; a fact worthy of note in regard to the Peace
Biver, in any comparison of this district with Ontario,
since April 30th was, from 1832 to 1870, the average
date for the opening of the Ottawa Eiver at Ottawa.
While ice usually begins to form at Fort St. John
about the 7th November, the river does not close opposite
Dunvegan until the first week in December. Potatoes
are usually planted here about the 4th May, and are
gathered about the 23rd September, the yield being
sometimes in the proportion of forty to one, twenty-five :202
kegs having yielded one thousand kegs in a field
adjoining Dunvegan.
The Beaver Indians are lords of the soil throughout
-the district from Hudson's Hope to Vermilion, where
the territory of the Cbipewyans begins; but they have
intermarried of late years with some Crees who came
here from the Saskatchewan to escape the ravages of
small-pox in 1870, and with some Iroquois who formerly
lived near Jasper House, where a number of them had
settled in the old days of the North-West Company.
They are not a strong tribe, probably not more than five
hundred in all, including the hundred and fifty Crees and
Loquois that are now united with them. With the
exception of a small Cree settlement at Sturgeon Lake,
none of them engage in farming ; their only occupation
is hunting, and, while indolent at every thing else, they
hunt with the energy and determination of weasels.
The Beavers appear to be mentally inferior to the
Crees, and many of them become the ready dupes of the
Cree medicine-men. One of them, for instance, named
Alec, who lives near Dunvegan, has been for some years
unwell. His sickness was originally caused by a fall,
but he persists in attributing it to an Indian at Lesser
Slave Lake who has, he imagines, cast a charm over him,
and who sends invisible pieces of bone, wood and iron
through the air, that enter his body and produce racking
pains.    Though Alec is nominally a member of Pere PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
Tessier's flock, yet he puts himself into the hands of
the Cree medicine-men. They go through certain
incantations and then profess to extract from his arm,
chest, or shoulders some pieces of wood, bone, or iron,
and the enraptured Alec, seeing his own views confirmed, and imagining himself greatly improved, becomes
moro completely than ever the victim of the medicineman's imposture.
As yet no treaty has been made with the Indians of
this district as has been done with the tribes on our
southern prairies, so that the Government are not in a
position to offer for settlement any of the country north
of the Athabasca, that being the present boundary, in
this direction, of the territory emBraced by the Indian
treaties. The natives, however, would offer no opposition to any settlers, as they are of a harmless and very
friendly disposition; but they may possibly ere long be
impressed with a sense of their own importance by being
called to conclude a treaty with the Government. Yet
even if reserves were set apart for them and provision
made for their instruction in farming, it can hardly be
expected that as large a proportion of them as of the
Crees, Blackfeet, Saulteaux, and others will cultivate the
soil, or adopt the habits ofthe whites, as their country is
still plentifully supplied with large game. It is the
gradual extinction of the buffalo that is forcing the
Indians ofthe southern prairies to take to farming. 204
One evening while delayed at Dunvegan I had a specimen of-Indian music from Chan tre, the chief Cree singer
and drummer of the district. His song, if such it could be
called, was a wild dirge-like chant, with no rhythm nor
any perceptible air. His performance on the drum, whieh
he kept beating with a small stick, seemed to have no
connection whatever with the song except to add to the
volume of sound, the drum being a rude form of tambourine. The effect was as confusing as that produced
upon the uninitiated in listening to selections from
Wagner's Lohengrin. In lack of melody, if in no other
respect, the Indian music of the past agrees with the
German music ofthe future.
On the afternoon of the 16th August, the party
from Pine Biver under the direction of Dr. G. M.
Dawson, accompanied by the mule train, arrived
opposite the Fort. We had left them on the banks of
the Parsnip, at the mouth of the Misinchinca, on the
19th July, and they had been travelling as steadily
as possible since that date, coming up the valley of the
Misinchinca and down the valley of Pine Eiver until
they reached the prairie country, across which they
travelled to Dunvegan. By the arrival ofthe mule train
with saddle-horses and pack-mules we were enabled to
make our projected trip northwards. On the following Monday, Mr. McConneJ, (Dr. Dawson's assistant)
and I started for Battle Eiver, accompanied by Chamois, PEACE BIVER COUNTRY. 205
the packer, Nato, an Indian guide, and Tom, a half-breed
cook and interpreter, while Dr. Dawson started on an
exploring expedition across La Grande Prairie, to return
by way of Elk and Smoky Eivers. We took the trail
leading almost due north from Dunvegan, over the
plateau that stretches its broad expanse about 800 feet
above the level of the river. For about forty miles we
traversed open prairie that was dotted by occasional
clumps of aspen, and that was covered with luxuriant
grass, and with a great abundance and variety of wild
flowers. The soil is uniformly a dark loam of the richest
character, and the abundant pasture is cropped only by
the horses, belonging to the Company, the priest and
the Indians, that roam unfettered over it summer and
"winter. There are no badger-holes here, as there are on
the prairies of the Saskatchewan, making small pit-falls
for the horse; we could ride at full gallop, without fear
of a cropper, in any direction that the willow and
poplar groves would allow, sometimes over several miles
of unbroken open prairie.
Occasionally we passed lakelets that abound with duck,
but these are left almost entirely undisturbed, for such
small game is unworthy of an Indian's regard. The large
mallards, however, with the prairie chicken which are
very numerous through this part of the country, formed
a welcome variation from the orthodox bacon and beans.
Forty miles north of Dunvegan we crossed a ridge 206
that rises about 550 feet above the plateau, closely
wooded with poplar and spruce. This ridge, or low range
of hills, runs westward as far as Hudson's Hope, where it
comes within about twenty miles of the Peace, and in
some parts it rises to a height of 1200 feet. Beyond this,
after traversing about a mile of mossy swamp, we came
upon a country as rich and fertile as that which lay
south of the ridge. In some parts it is closely timbered
with poplar, Cottonwood, and occasional black pine, but
the soil is almost uniformly excellent even as far as
Battle Biver, one part of it known as White Mud Prairie
being particularly attractive. Between this ridge and Battle Eiver we had fourteen degrees of frost on the night of
the 20th August: we found afterwards that there had been
a very widespread frost that night throughout the
Peace Eiver Country, but it was more severe in this
northern portion than.on the prairies to the south of
Nato, our guide, was a fair specimen of the Beaver
Indian,—lazy and indolent except when engaged in eating
or in hunting, the two occupations that called forth his
energy. Every day gave us opportunities of witnessing
his vigour at table, or rather at meal-time, for it is needless to say that there was no table; and one afternoon
we had a special opportunity of seeing his enthusiasm
in hunting. We were about to pitch camp when we saw
three bears at some little distance.    As a considerable' HK-i
stream lay between us and them we hesitated about
giving chase, whereupon Nato flung himself on the
ground in passionate disgust, as if life had been
robbed of every attraction. I offered him my rifle;
with a. sudden outburst of energy he sprang up,
snatched it eagerly, and started in pursuit like a
blood-hound, running for a few minutes at a speed
which his former laziness would have led us to think
was utterly impossible for him. He was soon close to
his game, and within half an hour he returned to camp,
having succeeded in killing two of the three. That night
he revelled over a supper of bear's meat, and having
gorged himself apparently to the limits of safety, he
roasted two of the paws as a special tit-bit; then he
stretched himself before the camp-fire thoroughly sated,
and next day he relapsed into his natural laziness.
Among the various theories that have been proposed
to account for the original settlement of Indians in this
country, it is a wonder that none have argued for their
origin from some son of Nimrod, or other mighty hunter,
who may be supposed to have followed game across Asia,
and around by an easterly course to our North-West.
Hunting is the one work in which, apparently, the white
man cannot excel them. With a keenness of the senses,
in a great degree inherited and largely sharpened by
necessity, they lay their grasp on all kinds of game, so
that the strength or the cunning,, the speed, vision, or •208
hearing of moose, bear, or beaver fail as a defence against
"them. Sometimes they may have days or weeks of
hunger, and their life, as a whole, is far more toilsome than
what would be required of a farmer in this fertile country.
But their wild, wandering habits, their intense love of
the chase, their sense of power and of conquest in bringing down their game, their manner of life developed and
•confirmed through long generations, render it extremely
•difficult for the hunting tribes of Indians to take up the
eccupations of civilised communities. In this remoter
land, where such game as moose, bear, and beaver are
still very abundant, many years may elapse before necessity compels them to adopt more settled habits ; yet in
•course of time the herds of moose must meet the same
fate of gradual extinction as has already overtaken the
herds of buffalo on om* southern prairies; and it would
be well for the Indians of the Peace if, ere that day
comes upon them, they could be induced to take to farming as some of the Indians of other tribes are already
On our way north we passed a number of Indians who
had started from Dunvegan a short time before us with
a band of horses that they were driving to Vermilion for
the H. B. Company. Their families accompanied them,
and, as they required to hunt for their living, and as most
of them journeyed on foot, their progress was slow. The
men hunted and looked after the horses, the women did PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
all the work of pitching camp, gathering wood, cooking,
etc., each child that was old enough to walk being required to help about the camp, while even the hungry,
cadaverous dogs were compelled to render unwilling assistance in the way of carrying packs. They took little
provision with them except tea, and their baggage consisted chiefly of the skins that formed their tepees, the
forest always furnishing them "with lodge-poles. Sometimes the hunters ride, but the women and children are
compelled to walk, for wife, horse and dog share much
the same treatment at the hands of the red man.
Battle Eiver, which is about seventy miles north of
Dunvegan, is a beautiful stream, twenty yards in width,
with an average depth of about two feet, the water being
very clear, of a slightly brown or amber hue, very different in appearance from the turbid streams that flow from
the Bocky Mountains, and probably fed from the low
range of hills that lie between it and Dunvegan. Tho
scenery along the river is very pleasing; the banks for
the most part slope gently, though sometimes there is a
precipitous side, exposing a rich loamy soil on a bed of sand
or clay. We rode for some distance along the trail that
skirts the northern bank of the river, and found the soil
and foliage very much the same as that on the southern
side; and although in the river-bed there are many
pieces of limestone,  yet we saw no rock along either
bank. Indeed from Dunvegan to Battle Eiver we scarcely
15 aufll
saw a solitary stone, and, so far as we could judge, the
same is the case with the country lying immediately to
the north of this, a country that, from all we could learn,
has not yet been traversed by white men. The whole
tract over which we travelled is well-watered, and has
abundance of good pasture, so that we had no difficulty
in finding good camping ground each evening. Whatever may be its value for the growth of cereals, it is
already evident that it possesses very great advantages-
for stock-raising.
We returned to Dunvegan on Thursday, 28th August,
Between that date and Monday, 1st September, the other
members of om* party had completed their exploratory
trips east, west and south; we therefore met to compare-
notes and to form some estimate of the country that we
had been traversing.* This southern portion of the Peace
Biver District, to which om* attention had been confined,
embraced from north to south between Battle Biver and
the Athabasca, covers an area of not less than 30,000
square miles, a territory about the size of Scotland.
With few exceptions the country is one of extraordinary
fertility, a large part being open prairie covered with
luxuriant grass, while other portions are wooded more or
less densely. It is well-watered, some of the streams,
such as Smoky Biver and its chief affluents, being rivers
•In this description of the country I take the liberty of drawing freely
upon the reports presented by my fellow-travellers, which are published in
the Report ofthe Engineer-in-Ohief ofthe Canadian Pacific Bailway for 1SS0. ' PEACE BIVER COUNTRY.
of considerable size. All its waters flow into the Peace,
except a few small tributaries of the Athabasca that
drain the southern portion of the district. These rivers
are, at their upper waters, near the prairie level, but
their channels constantly increase in depth till they
reach the level of the main river. Their valleys are frequently wooded, sometimes with patches of the original
forest, but usually with second-growth timber such as is
commonly found on the prairie. Although much of the
prairie is now open, it must all at one time have been
densely forest-clad. Some of our southern prairies appear to have been always treeless, if we may judge by
the absence of all remains of forest or of drift-wood in
their alluvial soil; but it has evidently been otherwise
with the prairies of the Peace Biver Country; these
must all have been wooded at one time, and they have,
no doubt, been cleared by fire. Although at present the
woodlands may be less attractive to the farmer than the
open prairie, yet, where the soil is fertile they must ultimately be as valuable as those parts that are now ready
for the plough. ■
Along the southern borders of the district near the
Athabasca, is found the largest tract of poor land which
it contains. Here the country, which is for the most
part closely wooded, is elevated considerably above the
adjoining prairie, and is ridgy and sandy, with occasional patches of swamp.   Along part of the  eastern 212
borders, also, there are mossy swamps that render much
of the land unfit for agriculture, while, between Smoky
Biver and Lesser Slave Lake much of the country is at
present covered by swamps and beaver-dams, though parts
of it might ultimately be converted into good farm-land.
Making ample allowance, however, for the inferior
and useless land we may with confidence estimate
three-fourths of this southern portion of the Peace
Biver Country, or about 23,000 square miles, to be
well suited, to agriculture, while many sections of it
possess exceptional fertility.
But there are also large tracts of fertile land to the north
of that which we traversed, areas that, being un watered
by the Peace, may be properly included in our so-called
Province of Unchagah. Those familiar with that northern portion assured us that from the confluence of the
Peace and Smoky Bivers, as far as Lake Athabasca, there
is a belt of fertile soil bordering the river for a width
varying from fifteen to fifty miles. East of the Peace,
however, though drained by its tributaries, and lying
between Lesser Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca there is
an area of about 25,000 square miles that is broken by
hills, lakes, streams, and marshes, which render it unfit
for farming. This is the best hunting-ground for beaver
known to the H. B. Company, 8000 beaver-skins having
been received in one year from this district at the single
post of Lesser Slave Lake. PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
In 1875 Professor Macoun passed down the river from
Dunvegan to Fort Chipewyan, the " capital of the north,"
on Lake Athabasca. On that occasion he had opportunities of seeing some of the northern portions of the
country, and wherever he examined the soil he found it
excellent, and in some places astonishingly rich. Ofthe
country near Vermilion he says: " The whole country
" around this post is a plain not elevated at its highest
" point more than one hundred feet above the river, but
" the greater portion of it is less than fifty feet. From
" the highest point I reached, the view across the river
" extended to the Cariboo Mountains, distant about forty
" miles. The intervening country seemed to be perfectly
" level or else to slope gradually upwards towards the
" mountains. The soil examined is of the very best
" description."* When somewhat more than half-way
between Vermilion and Chipewyan he spent a day at the
H. B. Company's post at Bed Biver, regarding which he
writes: "'The vegetation indicated that Bed Biver was
" even warmer than Vermilion, and all garden vegeta-
" bles are much more advanced."! Of this northern
portion of the district we may safely estimate an area of
from 20,000 to 25,000 square miles to be fertile, possibly a
much larger area; so that within the District of Un-
* Report of Progress of Geological Survey of Canada for 1875-76, pp.
f Report Geol. Survey 1875-76, p. 161. itfta^ilila
chagah,—exclusive of its great beaver-ground,—we may
confidently expect to find fertile territory almost equal
in extent to the united area of England and Wales.
But what about the climate, for fertile soil is of little
use without favourable climate ? Will it admit of the
cultivation of wheat throughout this large district, for
this is the crucial test now applied to climate in our
North-West Territories ? Let us gather up some of the
facts that may enable us to answer this question, at
least to give such a partial answer as our limited data
will allow.
So far as actual experiment is concerned wheat
has not been cultivated on the prairie level,—that is, on
the general level of the country exclusive of the river
valleys,—except at Lesser Slave Lake, where it thrives
admirably. All other attempts at wheat culture
throughout the district have been on the flats that fringe
the river, which at Dunvegan is about 800 feet lower
than the plateau; but this difference of level between
prairie and river decreases further down the stream till
at Vermilion it is not more than from fifty to a hundred
feet. Should this difference of altitude lead us to expect
a less favourable climate on the prairie than has been
found on the river-flats ? Probably not. Professor
Macoun, speaking of the vicinity of Fort St. John, says:
" Notwithstanding the difference of altitude the berries
" on the plateau ripened only a week later than those PEACE BIVER COUNTRY.
*" near the river, and Nigger Dan stated that there was
" about the same difference in the time the snow disap-
" peared in the spring on the plateau and in the valley."*
In October, 1872, Mr. Horetzky when traversing the
prairie south of Dunvegan, found that, " curiously
" enough, the vegetation upon these uplands did not
" appear to have suffered so much from the effects of
" frost, this being probably due to the fact of the air in
" these upper regions being constantly in motion, while
" in the deep and capacious valley of the river the winds
" have often no effect."f Dr. Dawson, writes J "In my
" diary, under date September 5th, I find the following
" entry:—Aspens and berry bushes about the Peace
" Biver Valley now looking quite autumnal. On the
" plateau 800 or 900 feet higher, not nearly so much so.
" Slight tinge of yellow only on some aspen groves."
And again, " We found some rude attempt at cultivation
" also at the ' Cree Settlement,' which consists of a few
" loghouses built by Indians on the border of Sturgeon
" Lake, about seventy miles south-west of the west end
" ofLesser Slave Lake, and is at the average level of the
" country, 'with an elevation of about 2,100 feet. Here,
" on September 14th, the potato plants were slightly
" affected by frost, but not more so than observed with
-' Beport of Geol. Survey, 1875-76, p : 155.
*- Canada on the Pacific, p. 11.
» Report of Engineer-in-ohief of C P. Railway, 1880, pp.: 116,117. 216
" those at Dunvegan two weeks before." At Dunvegan
I was informed that although the growth in early summer is usually more advanced in the valley than on the
plateau, yet, as the moisture lingers longer on the upper
level, the growth there seems to make more steady progress when it has once begun, while very little difference
has been observed between the upper and lower levels, in
regard to the time of the ripening, fading, and falling of
the leaves. We may, therefore, regard the climate of
the prairies as probably not less favourable than that of
the river-flats.
Now the ordinary experience at such places as Hudson's Hope, Fort St. John and Dunvegan is that wheat
thrives well. The season is long enough and warm
enough, the only danger being from summer frosts.
When Messrs. Selwyn and Macoun visited Peace Biver
in 1875, they had no frost until September, and were
assured that frost rarely occurs in July or August. At
Vermilion on the 12th August, Mr. Macoun found barley
standing in shocks in the field, which had been sown on
the 8th May, and reaped on the 6th August, having been
in the ground just ninety days, while he found some ears
of wheat fully ripe at the date of his visit, and was
assured that often a whole season passes without any
frost occurring from early in May until late in October.
In less than a day he observed 151 species of plants
which seemed to him to show conclusively that the cli- PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
mate at Vermilion was much warmer than at Dunvegan.
Between Hudson's Hope and Fort Chipewyan he collected
591 species of flowering plants and ferns of which 434
are found on the western plains, 411 in Ontario and 402
m Quebec, from which he concludes that the temperature of the growing season throughout this district is
much like that of the southern prairies and of central
Om- own experience, however, was not quite so favourable. Each of our small parties had frost on several
occasions in August, at places widely separated, and
although on some of these it may -have been local, on
others, especially on the 20th the frost was widespread.
There was sufficient frost at Dunvegan on the 20th and
25th to injure beans and cucumbers, and although some
of the wheat had ripened before the 20th August, the
frost of that night affected the rest to such an extent
that on our return on the 28th it did not appear to be
any farther advanced than it had been a fortnight previously. It was similar with the wheat at the Mission,
adjoining Dunvegan, and with a small patch at Hudson's
Hope: in both instances it was hopelessly injured by the
frost. This injury, however, had been sustained after
some of the wheat at Dunvegan had fully ripened; and it
is not improbable that if more attention had been paid to
the selection of seed and to the time of sowing, all injury
* Report Geol. Survey 1875-76, pp.: 159,167. •218
and loss by frost might have been avoided. Besides, it
may be remembered that the summer of 1879 was a
somewhat exceptional one, the weather of the early
months being cold and wet throughout much of the
Returning home by way of Edmonton I found that
there had been no frost .there during August, that the
wheat had ripened to perfection and that a large crop
had been harvested. So far, then, as present information
extends, it seems that the one danger to wheat crops in
the Peace Biver Country is from early frost, that the
seasons when such frosts occur must be regarded as
exceptional, that care in the selection of seed and in
early sowing may obviate even this exceptional danger,
and that the Peace Biver prairies are more liable to this
than the prairies of the Saskatchewan.
Every wheat-growing country, however, seems to be
exposed to some influence by which occasional crops
may be more or less injured. There are seasons when
much of the grain of Britain remains unharvested on
account of the excessive rainfall. Parts of the Western
States and Territories will probably be always subject
to periodical invasions.of locusts, such as have devastated
large areas as recently as 1874. Neither of these injurious influences threatens wheat-culture in the Edmonton
district or in the Peace. Eiver Country, for the rain-fall
though adequate seems never to be excessive, and the PEACE RIVER COUNTBT.
northward course of the locust seems, according to Dr.
Dawson, to be " limited by the line of the coniferous
forest which approximately follows the North Saskatchewan Eiver." *
It must be noted, too, that the increased proportion of
sunlight in these northern districts must very largely
promote the rapid and vigorous growth of plants. At
Dunvegan, for instance, the duration of sunlight on the
21st June is one hour and a quarter greater than it
is at Winnipeg, while it is nearly two hours and a
quarter greater than "it is at Toronto, a difference
which of course decreases to zero at the 21st March
and 21st September, while it is reversed during the
winter months. The average daily duration of sunlight from the 15th May to the 15th August,—the wheat-
growing period,—is at least an hour and a half greater
at Dunvegan than at Toronto. This must largely
enhance the value of the northern prairies for agricultural purposes, and it may in some measure account for
what climatologists have often observed, that the quality
of wheat improves the more closely you approach the
northern limit of wheat-growing lands. While the
wheatcrbpof the Peace Biver district may possibly suffer
occasional injury from early frosts, barley, rye, and all the
ordinary varieties of roots may be regarded as a sure
crop, and these with the abundant and luxuriant pasture
* Geology ofthe 49th Parallel, p. 305. 220
would render this country peculiarly well adapted for
stock-raising. The winter is severe but apparently not
more so than that of the Edmonton district. The snowfall, which averages from one-and-a-half to two feet, is
not sufficient to prevent horses wintering out, while, at
Dunvegan, cattle are usually home-fed only from the
latter part of November till about the middle of March.
Here, as throughout all om- Canadian North-West, the
cold of winter is much less severely felt than those living
near the sea-board would, from the indications of the
thermometer, he led to suppose, as the climate is dry and
steady, and the temperature seldom so extreme as to
prevent travelling, although travelling any distance
involves camping out at night.
The average summer temperature is as high as that
usually enjoyed ten degrees further south in Ontario and
Quebec, without the discomfort of oppressively warm
nights. Indeed, there*is a very great difference between
the temperature of the day and that of the night. During the first fortnight of August, 1879, the average midday temperature at Fort Dunvegan was 77° above zero
in the shade, while the average minimum at night was
42°, a fair example of the difference ordinarily observed
as between the day and night temperature of summer,
although sometimes the variation is much greater. This
depression of temperature, to whatever cause it is to
bo ascribed, produces a very heavy dew-fall, which pro- PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
bably assists very greatly in promoting vegetation, and
the change after a warm day is almost as refreshing as a
hreeze from the sea.
In addition to its great agricultural resources the
Peace Eiver district possesses not only extensive
timber lands, large portions of which are within
easy access of the Peace or its tributaries, but it
is also rich in coal. Although no seams .of great thickness have yet been discovered, the area throughout
which coal or lignite has been found is so large that
there can be little doubt that valuable seams will yet be
■developed. These coal-beds that underlie the Peace
Eiver district extend, it seems, in increasing thickness
to the south-eastward. Dr. Dawson says that " one of
" these reported to be eight feet thick, occurs near the
*? projected railway-crossing of the North Pembina
•" Biver, while between Fort Edmonton and the mouth of!
" the Brazeau Eiver, on the Saskatchewan, a seam of
"" coal fifteen to twenty feet in thickness was discovered
-*« by Mr. Selwyn in 1873;" and he adds:—"While
" neither of these can be classed as true bituminous
" coals, they are fuels of great value, and compare closely
*" with those brown coals used extensively on the line of
" the Union Pacific Eailway in the Eocky Mountain
u region."* It has been estimated that " the total area
■" ofthe western part of the prairie region between the.
* Report of Engineer-in-Chief Can. Pacific Railway, 1880, p. 130. 222
" forty-ninth and fifty-fourth parallels, now known by
" more or less connected lines of observation to be under-
" laid by the lignite and coal-bearing formations, does
" not fall short of 80,000 square miles; and should future
" investigation result in affixing some of the fuels to the
" Lower Cretaceous, it must be very much greater." *
It has been established by the explorations of 1879 that
coal does exist well down in the Cretaceous formation.
The localities, says Dr. Dawsonf in which coal is known
to occur in the lower or certainly Cretaceous zone are:
Table Mountain, which is on the south bank of Pine
Biver, Goal Brook a tributary of the south branch of
Pine Eiver, Portage Mountain at the Canon of Peace
Bivfer, and on the lower part of Smoky Eiver This is a
fact or considerable importance, for not only has the
coal-bearing area been thus proved to extend northward
to the fifty-sixth parallel, and thereby increased from
80,000 to probably 100,000 square miles, but it seems to
confirm the supposition that the former estimate is much
too small for the coal-fields between the Athabasca and
the international boundary line. The value of these
coal-fields in a country which, like our North-West, is in
some large areas very destitute of wood, can scarcely be
In any development of the resources, whether of the
farm-lands, the forests or the mines of Peace Biver Dis-
* Dawson; Geology of 49th parallel, p. 180,
t Beport of Engmeer-in-Chief Can. Pacific Railway, 1880, p. 128. PEACE RIVER COUNTRY.
trict, the great extent of navigable water presented by
the Peace and by several of its tributaries will furnish
facilities for communication throughout a large portion
of the country. Although our Canadian Pacific line will
not pass through it, and although it may not for many
years be found necessary to embrace it in our system of
railways, yet it is known that a branch line would be
perfectly feasible and for the most part easy of construction, extending from the vicinity of Edmonton to Pine
Eiver or to Dunvegan. The district must naturally be
peopled by immigrants coming from the east, and therefore not until large portions of the country between
Manitoba and Edmonton have been cultivated need we
look for many settlers on the banks of the Peace; -but
none who traverse it can doubt that the Province of
Unchagah must in due'time prove to be a moBt valuablo
portion of what'is, as yet, the undeveloped interior of-
om* Dominion. CHAPTEE IX.
Leave Dunvegan. — Farewell view of Peace River.—Cooking.—_
Lesser Slave Lake.—Another Stage.—Postal Arrangements.—
Indian Hospitality .—Athabasca River and Landing.—Gambling.— Road to Fort Edmonton.—Telegraph Office. — Cree
Camp. — Our Indian Policy. — Farm Instructors.—Treaties.—
Sioux.—Edmonton District.—Canadian Pacific Railway.
Our party separated at Dunvegan, some to return by
way of Pine Biver Pass to Vancouver Island, others to
examine the country bordering the Athabasca and the
fhcilities for railway connection between the Peace Biver
District and the Saskatchewan, while I came by way of
Lesser Slave Lake towards Edmonton.
On Tuesday, the 2nd September, I left Dunvegan on
a small raft, my only companion being the half-breed
Tom, who had accompanied me to Battle Biver; and,
borne along by the gentle current of the Peace, we
reached next afternoon the Hudson's Bay post near the
mouth of Smoky Biver. The Peace had fallen greatly
since our arrival at Dunvegan on the 1st August, and the
water, which was then turbid, had become clear, though
still possessing that greyish tinge which seems to be an DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
ordinary characteristic of the streams from the Eocky
Mountains. The country through which the river winds
is similar to that above Dunvegan, but here the banks
slope more gently from the water, and the plateau
seems to be somewhat lower. Gravel beaches frequently
fringe the banks on either side, and a number of well-
wooded islands dot the river.
At Smoky Biver dep6t Nigger Dan, the notorious,
when on his way to be tried at Edmonton, had left a
protest in the form of an inscription on the door of the
storehouse: " Daniel Williams, prisner of Her Majesty.
under fals pretenses." Public opinion in the Peace
Eiver country had centred more on him than on any
other subject during the summer of 1879. We had heard
of him beyond the mountains. We found him to be the
one unfailing topic of conversation at each of the H. B.
Company's posts that we had passed. At Lesser Slave
Lake and at Edmonton he continued to attract a lively
interest, and even at Battleford one of tho first points
in regard to our explorations in the Peace Biver country, about which the civil and military authorities of the
North-West made enquiries, was the accurate longitude
of Fort St. John, so that they might know whether it
was in the N. W. Territories or in British Columbia,
and thus decide whether Nigger Dan should be tried at
Edmonton or at Victoria.,
•   At Smoky Eiver depot I was again thrown upon the,
16 226
help of the Company's agents, through whose kindness
I was supplied with a prairie-cart, two horses and an
Indian guide, while an Indian boy accompanied us on
horse-back. Indeed the traveller in the North-West, at
least in the remoter districts, is almost entirely dependent on the H. B. Company for conveyance. On the
more frequented prairie trails you may meet, during the
summer, long bands of carts belonging to independent
freighters, or you may at some points find that the
"free traders" can forward you more quickly and more
comfortably than the Company; yet the assistance of
the Company's officials, who are almost invariably energetic, hospitable and courteous, is of essential importance
in traversing the remoter north, while even on the more
familiar prairies they are the chief forwarders as well as
fur-traders. At nearly every post the Company keep a
large number of horses, for this costs nothing except the
hire of a few men to herd them, as the horses find abundant pasture, both summer and winter; and if the agent
at any post has no horses under his charge he can
usually make arrangements with Indians, half-breeds,
or, in some cases, with white settlers to provide them;
and thus the traveller is forwarded by stages from the
Eocky Mountains to Winnipeg.
The road from Smoky Eiver dep6t to Lesser Slave
Lake, about sixty-three miles in length, is a tolerably
good waggon-road, although grooved occasionally into DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON
deep ruts by the heavy traffic upon it, for the supplies of
the Peace Biver district are forwarded from Edmonton
to Lesser Slave Lake, and by this route to Dunvegan.
Leaving the depSt the road passes at once to the plateau
about six hundred feet above the river, and as it nears
the upper level the view, looking back upon the Peace,
as seen on a fair September evening
loveliest in the North-West. The plateau stretches away
on either hand an almost unbroken level of fertile, virgin
soil; the slopes leading from it to the rivers, which here
blend their strength, are broken into all varieties of terrace and knoll, now grass-covered, now rich "with groves
that were already tinted with the mottled glory of
autumn; the well-wooded islands break the smooth and
steady current into ripples; the mighty river winds its
slow northward course; and over all, from an unclouded
sky, stream the rays of the setting sun. From such a
scene one turns unwillingly away. More than a month's
acquaintance had made us familiar with the great Unchagah. We had followed it from away beyond the
junction of the Parsnip and the Finlay, where it first
assumes the name of Jihe Peace Eiver. We had been
borne by it through the range of the Eocky Mountains
along many a league, where, it winds in graceful curves
between banks of ever changing loveliness. We had
dreamed dreams of the time when this broad belt of tne
silent north-land which it unwaters would smile with 228
happy homesteads, when the music of the reaper and of
the mill-wheel would be heard here, and when it would
bear upon its breast some portion of the commerce of a
thriving people. But henceforward its scenes of grandeur
and of beauty were to be enjoyed by us only in memory,
as we left it on our eastward journey.
After leaving the river the road passes for the most
part through a beautiful tract of country, rolling prairie
alternating with woodland, the soil being excellent, while
the vegetation becomes richer and the pasture more
luxuriant on approaching Lesser Slave Lake. This part
of the journey afforded some new experience. Throughout the various changes of conveyance and of attendance,
since leaving the Pacific, we had always enjoyed the
services of a cook, and one of the recommendations of
the Indian guide, whom I took from Smoky Biver depSt,
was that he could do any such plain cooking as I might
require. I soon found, however, that his knowledge of
"plain cooking" was confined to the boiling of a kettle,
and dropping into it anything he had, whether bacon,
fresh meat, or pemmican; and, to make matters worse,"
I was unable to converse with him. I had been told that
the boy who accompanied us could speak French, and I
thought that he might act as interpreter, but after a few
futile efforts to make myself intelligible to him, I concluded that we had learned French from different masters, and so, during the two days of our journey, all our DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON
communication was by silent gesture, a simple but not
always very definite method of intercourse. Attempting
to improve upon the cooking of my guide, I became for
the first time initiated into the mysteries of frying
bacon, of boiling rice, of making oatmeal porridge, and
of preparing the few other stores that I had brought with
me from Dunvegan. For some time the result of these
efforts was a very dismal kind of success; but hunger is
a good sauce, and necessity soon developes ability. Considerable anxiety and effort, too, were expended upon
one of the cart-wheels. The cart was of the ordinary
prairie-cart pattern, with the addition of iron tires. One
of these tires had become loose. I afterwards found that
I might have left it behind, as a prairie cart will run as
well without one; but, in my ignorance, I bound and
re-bound it with rope and shaganappi, until, from its
numerous bandages, the wheel looked as if it had been
fractured at every joint. The road is so free from stone
that the rope and shaganappi were scarcely at all worn,
and in no case cut through, by the time I reached Lesser
Slave Lake.
Approaching the lake the road leads over a broad
marsh, which yields abundance of excellent hay. With
such an ample supply of fodder the H. B. Company's
agent at this post raises a goodly number of cattle; and
the hay-stacks piled upon the marsh, with the cattle
feeding on the rich pasture or standing knee-deep in the 230
shallow water by the margin of the lake, gave to the
vicinity of the Fort a more cultivated, pastoral appearance than that of any place we had seen since leaving
The Fort at Lesser Slave Lake consists of shop, storehouses and dwellings of the Company's servants, ranged
in a quadrangle, and surrounded by a palisade, while at
a few yards distance is the agent's residence, recently
erected. A hundred yards off is the dwelling of the
Boman Catholic priest, and a little further the establishment ofthe free-traders, where Stobart, Eden & Co., have
a branch, while, in another direction, there are a few
small log-houses and Indian lodges. A number of Indians,
—" free-men," that is, men not in the regular service of
the Company,—live in the neighbourhood, being employed by the Company as occasion may require, and
able to support their families with very little labour by
fishing and shooting. The lake abounds with delicious
white-fish, rivalling those of the lakes of Ontario, and in
autumn with countless ducks, wavies and wild geese.
The Indians make no attempt at agriculture beyond
the cultivation of some small potato-patches. They
scarcely regard flour, potatoes or other vegetable diet as
any substitute for animal food. They want their rations
of meat, particularly of buffalo pemmican, which has
until recently been the staple provision from Peace
Eiver to Winnipeg.   While such large game as moose, DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
hear and beaver continue, and while the lakes abound in
fish, they cannot see any use in farming, unless perhaps
it might be in stock-raising, since the richest crops would
not lessen their demand for animal food. Some vegetarian missionaries might be of service among them.
There is not much land in the vicinity of the lake fit for
cultivation, for, although wheat is grown here with
marked success, yet the flats near the water's edge are
valuable chiefly for their marsh-hay and for the facilities
they afford in this respect for cattle-feeding. Beyond
these flats the country is broken by hills and ridges
varying in height from 150 to 800 feet above the level of.
the lake, while to the north of the Fort a large extent of
territory is covered by muskeg, swamp, lakelet and
The lake, which is about seventy miles in length, is
emptied by Lesser Slave Biver into the Athabasca, which,
near Fort Chipewyan, meets the Peace in its northward
flow. The -Athabasca, after receiving the waters of
Lesser Slave Biver, flows for about fifty miles in a southerly direction; then turning sharply it resumes its
former course. At this bend or elbow there is a freighting station of the H. B. Company, known as the
Athabasca Landing, for the Company have taken advantage of this part of the river for the transport of their
stores, furs etc., as the route by Lesser Slave Lake and
Eiver and by this part of the Athabasca is a very direct 232
one, and, in connection with the waggon-road by which
we came from Smoky Eiver dep5t and* a waggon road
from the Landing to Edmonton, forms the most favourable route from the Peace to the Saskatchewan.
I had proposed going by canoe to the Landing, about
165 miles, and, in lack of easier conveyance, walking
from there to Edmonton, if I could secure Indians to
carry my tent, baggage and~provisions; but tho agent,.
Mr. Voung, assured me that the Company's boat would
bo going to the Landing in a few days, and would there-
be met by carts that would at" once return to Edmonton.
A heavy storm, which continued for three days, made it
impossible to proceed by canoe; so I waited for-the
speedier and more comfortable York boat. The delay
was irksome, for the season was getting well advanced,
but it was relieved by the hospitality of the Fort and by
the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Macdougall, of
Dunvegan, homeward-bound from Edmonton. Mr. Macdougall spent several years on the Vucon, and regards
his present post as in the very centre of civilisation,
when compared with the remoter north-land that borders
Behring's Straits.
We left the Fort with a fair breeze which soon freshened almost to a gale: the shallow waters of the lake
were whipped into foam, and, in the absence of projecting promontory or sheltering island to form a harbour,
we ran under close-reefed lug-sail almost from end to DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
end without halting, covering the distance in about nine-
hours. When we had once entered the river we were
largely dependent on our oars, for the stream winds by
many a curve and with very gentle flow. It maintains
throughout most of its course of forty-five miles a width
of about twenty yards, being regular and monotonous as
a canal, until nearing the Athabasca it passes over a,
series of small rapids where it broadens to a span of
about fifty yards. Its banks are low, fringed for the
most part with willows, while on either side there is a
fertile plateau covered with luxuriant vegetation and
abounding in wild-cherry trees, whose ripe fruit frequently detained the Indian crew that accompanied me.
The Athabasca where it receives the Lesser Slave
Eiver is nearly two hundred yards wide. For a short
distance after their waters meet the two streams may be
recognized by their colour, that of the Slave Biver being
brown, while the Athabasca has the gray colour characteristic of the streams that flow from the Eocky Mountains. Very soon, however, they are blended beyond all
At the junction ofthe two rivers I set up a post office
and left a mail bag. The office consisted of a tree well
blazed; the bag, a fragment of a flour sack which was
tied to the tree, enclosed a letter for Dr. G-. M. Dawson, " to
be left till called for." It was his intention to come down
the Athabasca from a point some distance west of this, *m
and my letter was to inform him that he would find certain
provisions cached for him in a small house at Athabasca
Landing. Any stores thus left for a traveller in these
regions though placed, as in this case, in an unlocked
hut, or even though fastened to the branches of a tree, are
as safe from all disturbance by the hand of man as though
they were guarded by a regiment. The wolverine may
sometimes help himself to them,, and it requires
thoughtful arrangement to secure them against his cunning, but every Indian, or other traveller, holds it a
matter of sacred faith to leave them untouched, and passes
them as if they were not. The letter and provisions
were both in due time found in perfect safety by Dr.
After I had completed these postal arrangements my
boatmen were attracted by the sight of an Indian lodge
near the river, and, recognizing some friends, they went
ashore. After they had been gone for some time I
found them comfortably engaged at tea in the lodge, and
on my appearance the Indian woman at once asked me
to join them. As the tepee was hung round with dried
moose and beaver-tails, I ventured, with the assistance
of one of the men who acted as interpreter, to express
admiration of this abundant store of provisions. The
Indian at once took down some moose-meat and some
beaver-tails, and presented them to me. It is customary
among the Indians that if one expresses fervent admir- DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
ation of some article belonging to another, the possessor
at once gives up the coveted article to the admirer of it,
although he probabably takes an early opportunity of
repaying himself by admiring some of his friend's possessions. It is told of a surveyor, Gore by name, who
was engaged in laying off the H. B. Company's lands
near Lesser Slave Lake, that, when seated with his men
one evening around the camp-fire, he expressed frequent
and fervent admiration of a new pipe which one of the *
Indians was smoking. The owner handed it to him
bidding him take it. The others assured the surveyor
that it would give great offence if he refused, so he
reluctantly accepted it. Next evening the Indian was
loud in praise of a very fine otter-skin cap which Gore
was wearing. All turned towards him; he knew what
was expected; and taking off the cap he passed it most
unwillingly to the Indian, who thanked him and immediately threw him his own old well-worn one in return.
The surveyor restrained all further expression of admiration for the property of the Indians.
Accepting the proffered gift of our Indian acquaintance,
we reciprocated his hospitality by a gift of flour and
tobacco, and continued our journey down stream. The
current of the Athabasca, though swift nearer the mountains, is here probably not more than two miles an hour.
Its banks, which are generally bordered by a beach of
sand or clay, slope rapidly up from the water's edge to a 236
height of from one to two hundred feet. Where broken
they expose a light, loamy soil on a bed of sand and clay;
but they are, for the most part, closely wooded, chiefly
with poplar and spruce. Nearer the Landing, however,
the banks become more varied, sometimes abrupt, with
here and there a land-slide, sometimes low and flat,
although at a short distance from the water's edge the land
seems to maintain a pretty uniform level. The weather
was beautifully fine, the woods were rich with many-
tinted foliage, the shores graveUy, grass-grown, and
sandy by turns. No sign of life was visible except an
occasional beaver on the beach. The Indians, knowing
that they would be in ample time to-meet the carts from
Edmonton, simply allowed the boat to be borne onward
by the current, while, coiling themselves in their blankets, they passed hour after hour in sleep, for they have
an unlimited capacity for doing nothing when they are
not spurred into action by necessity.
Between the Landing and Lake Athabasca the river
passes over two falls, where somewhat heavy portages
would be required, and on that account freight for Fort
Chippewyan and tho northern districts, instead of passing along this portion of the river, goes from Fort Carlton
along the old route by way of Lacrosse, Bortage La
Loche, and the Clearwater, one of the best known and
most frequently travelled routes of the north. On both
sides of the Athabasca, as it flows northward from the DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
Landing, the general altitude ofthe country decreases, as
it does along the course of the Peaco Biver. Indeed, this
northward dip commences near the boundary line, for
the 49th parallel, though arbitrarily chosen as the international boundary, marks approximately the watershed
of this portion of the continent, where the southern
tributaries of the Saskatchewan rise near the northern
tributaries of the Missouri. From that, northward, the
general level falls towards the Arctic Sea.
We reached the Landing on the evening of Wednesday,
the 17th September. The conveyances from Edmonton
which we expected to meet there, did not arrive until
Friday morning. During this delay, and fearing that
there might be some unforeseen detention, I proposed to
the Indian boatmen that they should pack for me to
Edmonton. As only one of the four could talk English,
and as my proposals to the others were necessarily made
.through him, he being himself disinclined to accept,
probably modified my offers. At any rate the Indians
would not agree to go. Fortunately, however, the
arrival of the conveyances on Friday removed all further
difficulty. When the freight train from Edmonton had
come, the Indians from tho lake and those in charge of
the carts spent the evening in the red man's favourite
recreation, gambling. The stakes were small, usually a
fig of tobacco, but the excitement was as lively as it used
to be at Baden-Baden.   They play in much the same 238
way as boys play " odds or evens," holding something in
one hand, folding their arms akimbo, jerking the body,,
and droning a so-called song, that they may give as little
indication as possible to the rival players as to which
hand contains the treasure. While play continues a
drum, or some appropriate substitute such as a tin pan,
is beaten, noise of some kind being apparently a necessary accompaniment.
On Saturday morning the boats were loaded, and the
carts started on their return trip, while I had the advantage of a buck-board which had been sent out with Mrs.
Young, whom we met on her way to Slave Lake. The
road from the Landing to Edmonton, which is an
excellent waggon-road, ninely-six miles in length, was
made by the Company to avoid the necessity of freighting goods for the north by the old and difficult trail
which passed by way of Fort Assineboine to Lesser Slave
Lake. After leaving the river it leads very quickly to-
the plateau which is here about 350 feet -above the level
of the Athabasca. The country for several miles south
of the Landing is broken into ridges, the soil being at first
rather poor, but it gradually becomes undulating prairie-
Sometimes the road passes over sandy soil through
groves of pine, while here and there the landscape is
dotted with clumps of spruce; but twenty miles from the
Athabasca the country becomes more beautiful, rich with
luxuriant  grass   and  pea-vine,   watered   by  frequent
streams and lakelets, with loamy soil, occasionally dotted
with aspen copse. Nearing Sturgeon Biver, which the
road crosses about twenty-five miles north of Edmonton,
the country becomes peculiarly attractive, there being
already upon this river, about two miles above our crossing, a thriving settlement with grist-mill and other
appliances of an agricultural community. Between
Sturgeon Biver and Edmonton the country is of the
richest undulating prairie character; the soil is excellent,
and the road leads for miles by luxuriant hay meadows
and through gently rolling land of great fertility. Much
of the hay had recently been cut and stacked, and the
large stacks gave a cultivated appearance to the country.
As we approached Edmonton we passed many wheat-
fields where the grain, already cut, was being garnered,
the hearts of the settlers having being gladdened by an
abundant harvest. We came unexpectedly on a little
clump of houses on the plateau overlooking the river,
and then a little further, and somewhat lower down, on
a slope leading to the river, we entered Fort Edmonton,
the most important H. B. Company's Post in the North
West Territories. The shops, store-houses, offices, servants' dwellings, etc., are enclosed by a palisade, while at
a short distance, and a little higher up the bank, outside
of the palisade, stands the factor's house, where, after this
stage of the journey eastward, the large-hearted hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Hardisty was peculiarly welcome. irTr-lrmirn
The telegraph line has been recently extended to Fort
Edmonton, but, in the summer of 1879, the nearest telegraph station was at Hay Lakes, a point on the located
line of the C. P. Bailway, about thirty-five miles distant
from the Fort. Being anxious to send messages east-
Ward, I hurried, by an excellent road, to Hay Lakes.
The country traversed by this road that runs southward
from Edmonton, is even superior to that lying north of
the Saskatchewan. It is rich_in the extreme, consisting
chiefly of gently rolling prairie, dotted with groves of
aspen, poplar, etc., and covered with luxuriant herbage.
The telegraph office was a very rude shanty, but to one
who had for months been cut off from tidings of friends
and of the world it seemed like a temple of science, as
it enshrined a battery and instrument that made it possible to communicate with any point along the world's
four million miles of wire. Messages were soon sent to
Battleford, Winnipeg and Ottawa, and the hours passed
slowly until the click announced the coming reply.
The day was fine, and the ducks on the neighbouring
lakes temptingly abundant, but we did not care to leave
the house lest we might lose the earliest opportunity of
continuing our correspondence.
A large number of Crees had pitched camp in the
neighbourhood, waiting for some reliable report regarding the approach of the buffalo across the border, and
meanwhile living on ducks and prairie chicken, of which
"they daily killed several hundreds. Even the fattest and
largest mallard ducks were regarded by them as inferior
food. Until recently they would not have wasted powder
upon them, but the gradual extinction of the buffalo is
enhancing the value of small game. As far back as
memory or tradition can reach, the Indian of the prairies
has relied upon the buffalo for supplying food, clothing,
"tent,—almost everything requisite for his maintenance.
The herds that annually visited the northern plains and
prairies seemed practically unlimited; year after year
thousands fell before the rifle of the Indian and of the
. naif-breed, while the fur-trade furnished continual inducement to procure an increasing annual supply of robes;
but the work of destruction, carried on upon both sides of
the'boundary, has gradually thinned off the herds to such
a degree, that already on om- Canadian prairies the
buffalo has become almost extinct.
This change has of necessity forced the Indians into
new lines of life, while at the same time it has laid upon
our Government increased responsibility in its treatment of the prairie Indians. Food must be ftirnished
for many, who, from long habits of dependence upon the
buffalo, would starve if no aid were given them. Some
of the Indians indeed, especially among the Blackfeet,
take their stand upon the argument: " We had plenty
of food until the white man came; now if, as you tell us,
the great mother sends her white children h§re, then,
17 242
since the buffalo are failing, the great mother must
supply us with food." Their creed has at least the
merit of simplicity, and, as they have been trained only
to hunt, and are as yet incapable of maintaining themselves by farming, it is absolutely necessary .that the
Government should assist in feeding them until they are
educated into more settled ways of life. Looked at even
as a matter of policy, it is cheaper to feed than to fight
them, and the latter alternative might be forced upon us
if the former were not accepted, while, at the same time,
this humaner policy would be only in accord with the
considerate treatment that has always been shewn by
the British and Canadian Governments towards the old
possessors of the soil. Much relief however would annually he required, if the Indians were not trained into
self-help, and therefore, to reduce this burden, as well as
to educate the Indians, as far as possible, into diligent
and useful citizens, the Government has appointed farm
instructors to teach them practical farming on the reserves that had previously been allotted to them.
Thirteen such farm-instructors have been appointed,
stationed on different Indian reserves between Manitoba
and tbe base of the Eocky Mountains.* It is as yet too
early to pronounce  upon  the results of this system,
* The locations at which the various instructors in farming have been
stationed are : Qu'Appelle, Touchwood Hills, Fort Pelly, Prince Albert,
Duck Lake near Carlton, Battleford, Fort Pitt, Saddle Lake near Victoria,
Edmonton, Blackfoot Crossing, Fort Calgarry, Fort McLeod and Fort Walsh.
but there is every likelihood of its ultimate success.
Already a number of Indians, following the example of
their chiefs, are taking to farming, and in this they seem
to be much more influenced by the example of the half-
breeds than by that of the whites, as the half-breeds are
hunters like themselves, and were for many years
almost as dependent upon the buffalo. Yet, even if this
attempt to make the Indians self-supporting should prove
. a failure, the establishment of government farms on which
large quantities of root crops can be raised will greatly
reduce the expense of feeding them.
There is no reasonable ground for any apprehension
of danger from the Indians, nor any likelihood of trouble
arising between them and the settlers. From the first the
Government have carefully respected their claims; they
have extinguished, by treaty, the Indian title to the
land, before offering an acre for settlement; and the
Indians know that the Government will keep faith with
them. This is the open secret of Canada's success in
dealing with her Indians. In all, seven treaties have
been made with the tribes of the North-West, covering
the entire territory from the boundary line northwards
to the Athabasca, the Beaver and the Nelson Bivers, and
from the Bocky Mountains eastward to Ontario.
These treaties guarantee, on the part of the Indians,
the entire surrender of the territory, with the exception
of certain reserves, it being understood that they con- 244
tinue at liberty to hunt and fish without restriction over
all unoccupied lands; and, on the part of the Canadian
Government, the payment of a certain annuity to each
family of the tribe, the yearly distribution of a fixed
amount of ammunition, the establishment and maintenance of schools, the gift of cattle, agricultural implements, etc., with some other less important provisions.
The only Indians in the southern portion of the Territories, not yet under treaty arrangement with the Government, are the Sioux, who crossed from the United
States under Sitting Bull in 1876, and who are camped
near Wood Mountains. Beserves had been allotted them
by the U. S. Government in the Black Hill country, not
far from the boundary. It was afterwards found that
the reserves contained rich mining-lands, and the Sioux
were therefore asked to move to other reserves without any
compensation for the sacrifices demanded of them. They
declined; and the Government resorted to the powder
argument, which was too strong for the natives, who
then sought refuge on Canadian soil, where they havo since
remained on sufferance. Their chief contends that his
men aro British subjects, that they never legally became
wards of the U. S. Government, that the territory in
which they dwelt belonged by right to Britain, and
should never have been ceded to the United States, that
therefore he and his men were improperly transferred to
a foreign government,—an opinion in which Sitting Bull DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
shows a pretty clear knowledge of .the history of our
boundary negotiations. Another band of Sioux, however, who crossed into Canada immediately after the
Minnesota massacre, in 1862, are settled near Prince
Albert and on Bird Tail Creek, where they have had
reserve's allotted them by the Government, but receive
no further relief.
The Sioux under Sitting Bull have, in some degree,
cut off the supply of buffalo that would otherwise have
helped to sustain our own Crees and Blackfeet, but that
is the only injury inflicted by them. It is most improbable that they will show any hostility to the Government
or people of Canada; indeed they are clear-sighted
enough to see that, since the gradual extinction of the
buffalo, their chief prospect of sustenance lies in the
. friendship of the Canadian Government, and that they
would forfeit this by any injury inflicted upon the
settlers. At the same time the Crees, Blackfeet and
Sioux have too much dislike, distrust and jealousy towards each other to form any union for aggressive purposes against the whites. In travelling from Edmonton
to Winnipeg we occasionally mot sensational rumours
"vegarding alleged acts of violence on the part of the
Indians, but further inquiry always proved these rumours
to be baseless. Even when sorely pressed by hunger,
and when pained by the sight of friends suffering from
starvation they displayed the utmost patience and endur-' I'lMII'lTlTtaj
ance, and made no attempt to procure relief by violence.
Throughout the whole country the white settlers are undisturbed by any anxiety about them; and the natural
course of events must tend to make the whites every
year more and more secure against any likelihood of
trouble from this quarter.
The district around Edmonton is one of exceptional
fertility and promise, the most promising indeed of all
the North-West Territories. Nowhere do settlers reap
larger crops "off the sod," that is, the first season that
the soil is ploughed. In some parts of the North-West
the land yields little or nothing the first summer, so that
the settler can only plough it up that the grass roots
may rot and that the soil may be ready for seed the following spring. In most parts of the Saskatchewan
valley, however, good crops may be raised on newly,
broken land. Not only do the horses winter out, but
frequently tho cattle also, for, even when the snow
averages three feet In depth, as it sometimes does, it is
so light, and the meadow hay and pea-vine are so tall,
that cattle have little difficulty in foraging for themselves,
at least in the neighbourhood of Hay Lakes.
This Edmonton district, as I saw it for thirty miles
south of the Fort, for more than twice that distance to
the north, and for any distance less than 200 miles eastward, to which the name can be properly applied,—and,
as reported by other travellers, for a considerable dis- DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
tance westward,—possesses not only the richest soil, but
is for the most part well-wooded, being indeed heavily
timbered along the upper waters of the Saskatchewan.
It is well Bupplied with coal, which is now used for
domestic pnirposes at Fort Edmonton. Gold-washing on
the sand-bars of the Saskatchewan yields from $1 to $Q
a day. The country is well watered; it is connected by
a line of steamers with Winnipeg; its climate is enjoyable in the extreme; its fitness for wheat culture equal
to that of any part of the country west of the Eed Eiver
valley. Out of such a district a prosperous Province
must- ere long be formed.
It is natural that the Government should regard
Edmonton as an essential point to be traversed by the
Canadian Pacific Eailway. Not only is it destined to be
the centre of an important district, it is also most favourably situated as a distributing point for the country to
the north and south. To the north and north-west lies
the fertile Peace Eiver district. To the south-west lies
the rich Bow Biver country, which is already recognized
as perhaps the best grazing district in Canada, including
a territory of about 20,000 square miles, running, that is,
from the boundary line about 200 miles northward, and
from the base of the Bocky Mountains about 100 miles
eastward. Owing-to the " Chenook " winds, as they are
called, which apparently come from the Pacific across
the country once held by the Chenook Indians,  near 248
the Columbia Biver, this district enjoys an exceptionally
mild climate that renders it comparatively free from
snow even in mid-winter, so that cattle are enabled
throughout the whole year to graze upon its rich well-
watered plains. If our trans-continental railway were-
to pass by the northern route through the Peace Biver
country to the Pacific, the traffic of this great grazing
district to the south of Edmonton would necessarily bo
thrown into tho United States railways, whereas it can
easily be drawn towards our own line, if that line should
pass not further north than Edmonton. At the same
time the Peace Eiver country, as soon as circumstances
may require, can without much difficulty be connected
with the trunk line by a branch from the neighbourhood
of Edmonton.
How soon will the railway reach Edmonton ? If the
North-West is to be rapidly peopled,—and on its settlement must depend much of Canada's future prosperity
—facilities of communication must be provided, and the
railway, as a great colonisation road, must precede or
at least accompany settlement. And while the peopling
of the North-West requires tho construction of the railway to the foot of the Eocky Mountains, other reasons,
such as the interests of British Columbia, the closer
union ofthe Provinces by lines of traffic, and the development of commerce with Asia, demand railway extension to the western seaboard. DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
The line from Lake Superior to the Pacific consists of
the following sections:—
1. Fort William to Selkirk  406
2. Selkirk w'AEdmonton to Jasper Valley  1000
3. Jasper Valley to Kamloops  335
4. Kamloops to Vale  125
5. Vale to Burrard Inlet  90
Total from Lake Superior to the Pacific 1,956
On section 1, the rails are laid 136 miles west of Fort'
William and 90 miles east of Selkirk, and the remaining
180 miles will be completed by July 1882. On section 2,
200 miles are already under contract from Selkirk westwards. Section 4 is under contract. On sections 3 and
5 nothing has yet been done beyond the location of the
route. There are thus, (exclusive of the Pembina
Branch, 85 miles in length, from Emerson to Selkirk,),
226 miles in running order and 505 miles under contract.
With the strong tide of immigration that may at once
bo expected to pour into the North-West, and tne facilities for railway construction from Selkirk to Jasper
Valley, ten years are surely an outside estimate of the
time required to extend the line across the prairies to the
Eocky Mountains. According to the terms of the contract, it is contemplated that the section from Kamloops
to Yale will be completed in five years. Is it extravagant
to expect that with the work of construction proceeding 250
on both sides of the Mountains, we shall, by the
close of the present decade, have om- through line
complete I The claims of the prairie section for speedy
completion are more urgent than those of the British
•Columbia line; and the sale of lands and the increasing
traffic to be secured by it, as well as the cheaper cost of
construction, must make itthe best paying portion of the
whole line. At the same time the completion of the line
to the western coast may be regarded as a political
necessity, and, as it will develope the resources of BritisE
Columbia, as it will give a seaport on the Pacific by
which the produce of oui* plains can be distributed westwards, and as it will afford a route from Europe to' "China
for through traffic about 700 miles shorter than any other,
sit is,of manifest importance that the part west of the
Mountains'be constructed as speedily as the finances of
the country will allow.
But will the finances of the country allow its construction at all ? Begarding the line from Lake Superior to
the Bocky Mountains leading statesmen, on both sides of
politics, and other competent authorities seem to be of
■one mind. On the smallest reasonable allowance for the
increase of population in the North-West this portion of
the line will not only prove directly a good commercial
enterprise, but indirectly a source of large increase to the
revenues of the country. For the remainder, the same
cannot with as great confidence be expected.   The cost of DUNVEGAN TO EDMONTON.
the line from Jasper Valley to Burrard Inlet is estimated
at from thirty to thirty-five millions of dollars. If
nono of this- wore defrayed by the sale of lands in the
North-West, it Would entail an annual expenditure of
nearly a million and a half of dollars of interest on cost
of construction, on the part of the Dominion, and it
might be questioned, whether, for a country with so
limited a revenue as Canada, this outlay would be compensated for by the advantages that it would secure.
But even the least sanguine can hardly suppose that the
completion of the line would lay this burden upon the
revenues of the country, for there can be little • doubt
that the sale of lands in the North-West will pay for the
entire construction of the railway. At the same time,
the country cannot afford to peril too much on mere expectations, however well grounded, and therefore, until
a large immigration and extensive sales of public lands
be secured in the North-West, it would be well to " make
haste slowly " with the British Columbia section of the
But our Pacific railway may well be regarded as a
work of Imperial as well as of Canadian importance. It
concerns the welfare of the empire both as a colonisation
road and as part of a trans-continental highway. The
settlement of our North-West must very soon and very
seriously affect the wheat supply of the mother country.
At present that supply is drawn largely from the United 252
States and from Eussia, and as these countries, being
foreign, might become unfriendly, the receipt of bread-
stuffs from these sources might any season be irirperilled;
whereas, if our own vast prairies were developed the
policy of foreign countries could not seriously disturb
the wheat market of Britain. Besides, the. welfare
of the empire is concerned in the extension of this
line of railway to the western seaboard, as it would
not only provide speedy communication through British
territory with British possessions on the Pacific, but
would supply the great missing link in a rapid route-
from England to Eastern Asia that would be safe against
foreign interference. *v*.M.' . -. '
i*   .*
JCnn***m*|^'N    j
'.«.   7    i3'
Steamers on Saskatchewan.—Prepare to cross the prairie.—Trails
—Prairie travel.— Pemmican Victoria.—Half-breed farmers
Christian Missions in North-West.—Victoria to Fort Pitt.—
Eoyal mail.—Dog-driving.—Fort Pitt.—The trail again.—
Treeless prairies.—Tree Culture.—Battleford.—Government of
North-West.—Climate.—Character of country.—Great Plain
—Homestead and pre-emption law.—Prospect of settlement.
I left Fort Edmonton for Battleford on Friday, 26th
■September. Earlier in the season I might have gone
down the Saskatchewan by steamer, for during the summer, a line of steamers belonging to the H. B. Company
plies between Edmonton and Bed Eiver. The " Lily," a
hoat of light draught runs from Edmonton to Fort Carlton, a distance of about five hundred miles; and, as the
river becomes deeper below Carlton, a larger boat, the
" Northcote " runs from that point to the head of the
Grand Eapids at the mouth of the Saskatchewan, a distance of about four hundred miles. These rapids, forming a complete barrier to navigation, necessitate a
portage of three miles, which is traversed by a tramway,
connecting the steamers on the river with those on Lake jSjS
Winnipeg.   Another steamer, much more strongly built
than the river boats to stand the rough waters of the
lake, runs from the mouth of the Saskatchewan, two
hundred and eighty miles to the mouth of Eed Eiver,
and when the water is high, thirty miles up the latter
river to the Stone lort, within twenty miles of Winnipeg.
The navigation of the Saskatchewan is much impeded at
some places during low water by rocks and sand-bars,
but these could be removed and the river rendered navigable throughout all the open season at an estimated
outlay of $50,000.   Were these increased facilities for
navigation supplied, the cost of living in many parts of
the North-West would be greatly reduced.   At present
the average rate of freight by cart across the prairies is
$1.00 per cwt. for every hundred miles- from Winnipeg,
that is, $5.00 per cwt to Prince Albert, $8.00 per cwt. to
Battleford, $10.00 per cwt to Fort Edmonton, rates that
seriously affect the prices of imported goods.   Besides, it
requires from fifty to seventy days, according to the
weather and to the state of the roads, to carry freight
from Winnipeg to Edmonton, and nearly as long to make
the return trip, whereas, if the necessary improvements
were made on the Saskatchewan, the round trip, from
Winnipeg to Edmonton and back, could be made in about
twenty-five days.
Unable, however, to proceed by steamer down the
Saskatchewan, and unwilling t6 go by canoe, I made pre- jjy .OB EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
parations for crossing the prairies. Through the kindness of Mr. Hardisty I secured the services of an English
half-breed, Fred. Bowland, who, though sometimes a little
lazy in the morning, was faithful, cleanly, and intelligent
Our waggon, which was single-seated, but with space
enough to hold provisions, baggage, tent, etc., piled up
in the rear, was drawn by two horses, while two others
ran loose, to take their turn in harness or under the
saddle with which I occasionally relieved the tedium of
the drive. The only care that these horses require is
that at least one of them, the bell-mare, be hobbled at
might, so that they may readily be found in the morning;
they can easily find food and water, and they can travel
thirty-five or forty miles a day without difficulty. A
prairie journey is now little more of a novelty than a trip
across the Atlantic; yet, like an ocean voyage, jt is full of
interest to one who makes it for the first time.' The
primitive prairie cart is the conveyance most frequently
employed, but it is well, if possible, to have saddle-horses
for the sake of comfort, and to leave the carts for tents,
camp outfit, baggage, etc. In many instances, however,
the cart has been abandoned for more pretentious vehicles. The light waggon, covered with a cotton awning
that gives it the name of "prairie-schooner," from its
fancied resemblance to a sail-boat, the two-horse spring-
waggon similar to the ordinary " democrat" waggon of
Ontario, and the double buck-board are the greatest 256
favourites. Of these the buck-board is the best, because
least liable to injury, an important advantage, for, when
you are on the prairie there is no blacksmith's shop
round the comer at which to repair a spring or to replace
a bolt.
The chief trails across the prairies are so distinctly
.grooved and worn that there is no danger of losing the
way, unless at some fork or cross-road where a fingerpost has not yet been erected. Sometimes the trail winds
over gently rolling country, or by aspen copse, so that
the track can be seen only a short distance ahead; at others
it stretches over a dead level plain, like .an invitation
into boundless space, the numerous parallel grooves that
have been cut and worn by carts year after year being
regular as railway lines, while near any centre, such as
a farming settlement or a. trading-post, the converging
trails remind one of the lines near a railway depot
Occasionally one meets immigrants or freighters, with
their bands of prairie carts, at first almost as rarely as a
ship on mid-ocean but more frequently on moving eastwards, like tho increasing number of vessels that are seen
when nearing port.
Each day you pass places that have evidently been the
camping-ground of others. The square of sod, dug out
by the careful freighter to form a fire-place that shall
not endanger the prairie grass, the lodge-poles left lying
on the ground, the ashes of recent camp-fires, the little EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
enclosure, some ten feet square, fenced in to contain the
extensive "smudge" of grass and leafy boughs, around
which the horses gather on summer evenings to secure
in the smoke a respite from the mosquitoes,—these
mementos of previous travellers are frequently seen and
are unfailing objects of interest.
One need have little difficulty in keeping the pot well
supplied with game, especially if accompanied by a
retriever, for abundance of ducks can be found in the
numerous lakelets that border the trail, and prairie
chickens are plentiful in all except the more settled districts. As day after day passes one becomes more and
more m love with the climate as well as with the country,
and can understand how it should be noted for its peculiar healthfulness, and especially for its freedom from
fevers and from diseases of the throat and lungs.
Though one day 60 closely resembles another in its
ordinary routine, yet there is a continual freshness and
interest in the journey, and if one has pleasant travelling
companions, and is favoured with fine weather, a trip
across the piairies, particularly after the mosquito season
is over, may be like a prolonged pic-nic.
On leaving Edmonton the larder contained some fresh
meat and fresh butter,—luxuries unknown for months,
as well as the ordinary substantials of bacon, pemmican,
etc.   Buffalo pemmican will soon be a matter only of
tradition and memory upon the prairies.   It is not the
18 258
most enjoyable variety of food ; indeed, the first day that
a man has to live on pemmican he finds that he is not
very hungry; and yet white men as well as half-breeds
and Indians find it a peculiarly nburishing diet, while it
has the advantage of comprising a great deal of food in
very small bulk, and of keeping fresh for an indefinite
period. The appetite of both whites and Indians around
Fort Edmonton for buffalo meat must have been keen ih
the days when buffalo were abundant. Capt Palliser
gives the daily ration of fresh meat served out at the
Fort in 1858, as 406 pounds to ninety-four persons. How
the Indians must long for the " good old times," when
they mourn over the extinction of the buffalo.
We took the trail along the north bank of the Saskatchewan, it being in some respects preferable to that
which passes by Fort Saskatchewan along the southern
bank of the river. Already the autumn was upon us ;
the trees were rapidly losing their leaves ; the cart-ruts-
and the small streams were filled with fallen foliage; the
numerous plants scattered among the grass began Jo-
wear a withered look, although still presenting almost as
much variety of colour as the foliage-plants in our
gardens, in mid-summer. The days were warm and clear,
the nights cool, sometimes frosty. It was impossible for
us to keep long hours of travelling, as day-light is necessary both for pitching and for moving camp, at least if it. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFOBD.
is to be done in any comfort, and so our average daily
drive was from thirty-five to forty miles.
Two days brought us to Victoria, seventy-three miles
from Edmonton, the trail throughout this distance leading
through a country of almost unvarying excellence. There
is a post of the H. B. Company at Victoria, connected with
"that at Edmonton, and about a mile from it there is a
settlement composed almost exclusively of English half-
breeds, who came here some fifteen years ago, or, as they
themselves usually express it, five years before" the
transfer," dating this and other incidents from the transfer of the Hudson's Bay Territory to the Canadian
government, in 1870.
Unlike the French half-breeds the Scotch and English
half-breeds take readily to farming. When the French
voyageurs, who came from Lower Canada in the old days
of the North-West Company, intermarried with the
natives, the children seemed more Indian than French;
but, when the Scotch servants of the H. B. Company
married Indian women, the children showed few Indian
characteristics. If the Scotchman did not raise his wife
to his own level, he at least succeeded as a general rule
in uplifting his children, whereas the Frenchman seemed
almost at once to be drawn down to the level of the
Indian. The half-breeds, however, even at best are
inferior farmers, for, having sown their seed they spend
much of the summer in hunting or in freighting for the 260
H. B. Company. At Victoria their farming is conducted
on a very small scale, but, as their land is a beautiful
black loam, which has yielded excellent returns of wheat
year after year without any manure since they have settled upon it> they might evidently farm to great advantage, or at least their lands might be cultivated to great
advantage if they were in the hands of capable farmers.
There is a grist-mill about a mile from the settlement,
and good prices can be secured for flour and grain as the
Government, the Company and the new settlers must all
be large purchasers. The Government will, for several
years, require considerable quantities of flour for Indian
supplies. The Company purchase largely to supply t heir
own men, as they give scarcely any attention to farming.
Even at those posts, such as Edmonton, where farming
was attempted, it was often in an expensive way with
hired labour and by men who were not practical farmers,
wbile the conduct of the Indians, who sometimes used
the fence-rails for camp-fires and let loose their horses in
a field of young grain, was adverse to tho success of such
experiments. And new settlers coming, as they must
ere long do in large numbers, to the Edmonton district
will require both food and seed, so that the half-breeds
of Victoria will find ready market for their produce.
Bettor farmers than the half-breeds, however, are
required to disclose and to develop the wheat-growing
capabilities of the North-West EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
There was a large Cree camp at Victoria not long ago,
and an important Mission, in connection with the
Methodist Church, was established here by the late Bev.
G Macdougall about the time that the half-breed settlement was formed. At present there is no resident.
missionary among them, but they receive an occasional
visit from the Anglican and Methodist clergymen at
Edmonton. On the Sunday that we spent in this neighbourhood we had the pleasure of uniting with them in
Divine Service.
Until recently the Christian Missions of the North-
West were necessarily confined to the native tribes, the
servants of the Company, and the French and English
half-breeds, for as yet " the settler " was unknown. The
first Christian Missions were those ofthe Eoman Catholic
Church. The early French explorers, such as M. de la
Verandaye, were usually accompanied by a priest, and as
trading-posts were planted Missions were established,
the first being in 1818 at St. Boniface where it has ever
since been v-igorously maintained, and where now stands
an imposing range of ecclesiastical buildings familiar to
every visitor to Winnipeg. From that centre the work
was extended westwards, so that not only the early
French traders and the numerous French half-breeds, or
Metis, but also many of the Indian tribes adhered to the
communion of the Bomish Church, and now the diocese,
presided over by Archbishop Tache, includes Missions in *m
the ecclesiastical provinces of St. Boniface, St. Albert
(on the Saskatchewan), Athabasca, Mackenzie and
British Columbia.
The first Protestant Mission was that of the Church, of
England, which from a small beginning on the banks of
the Eed Biver in 1820 has, under the fostering care of
the Church Missionary Society aided by private benefactions, extended to Hudson's Bay, to the Mackenzie, and to
the far distant Yucon. In connection with this Mission
the North-West has been divided into four dioceses:—
Eupert's Land, with head-quarters at Winnipeg,
Moosinee, with head-quarters at York Factory on
Hudson's Bay, Saskatchewan, with its bishop's residence at Prince Albert, and Athabasca, where the
bishop travels far and wide among the Indians but
makes his home at Fort Chipewyan. The Methodists
have also been very active in mission-work among the
Indians, their pioneer, the late Mr. Maedougall, one
of the most earnest and useful missionaries ever known
in the North-West, being distinguished for his influence
among the Indians from Winnipeg to the Bocky Mountains. They report six missionaries at present labouring
among the Indians, and twelve among the white settlers.
The Presbyterian Church, although later in commencing
mission-work among the Indians, has now thirty missionaries in the North-West, three of whom are specially
designated to missions among the natives. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
Of recent years, however, Christian Missions in the
North-West have presented new features and have
assumed new proportions. A new element of population
has entered, one which will ere long overshadow all previous tenants of the soil, the white settlers, who came not
to serve the fur-traders but to unfold the vast resources of
the land. It will tax the energies of the Canadian
Churches, even with such aid as they may receive from
the mother-country, to meet the demands laid on them
by this increase of their home-mission fields.
Having spent a Sunday at Victoria we left next morning, and on the following Wednesday evening, 1st October, we reached Fort Pitt, two hundred and five miles from
Edmonton. We were occasionally delayed at some of the
creeks or gullies, which, being too narrow and too deep
for fording, had been bridged, but the bridges had fallen
into decay.. Apparently the process of decay goes on
until some freighters or other travellers find the bridge,
impassable and so repair it for their own and the public
good. All these creeks have Indian names, and many of
the names might as well be left untranslated by om- map-
makers. Nameepee, for instance, is a more musical
name for a stream than " Sucker," and Ahtimsegun is
decidedly better than its English equivalent " Dog's-
rump." The trail is good, the soil almost uniformly
excellent, the land well-watered by numerous streams
and   generally well-wooded,  chiefly  with willow and tSB&tm
poplar, though occasionally with small groves of pine.
Only in the neighbourhood of Saddle Lake and again in
the immediate neighbourhood of Fort Pitt did there seem
to be any scarcity of wood. Near Saddle Lake, where
we camped on the first evening after leaving Victoria,
we had to continue driving after sunset on account ofthe
difficulty of finding a combination of wood, water and
grass, the three requisites for a good camping-ground.
We spent Tuesday night near Moose Creek, about forty
miles from Saddle Lake, at one of the best and most frequented camping-grounds on the trail, where the numerous lodge-poles and the ashes of old camp-fires gave
evidence of previous travellers. Next day the trail led by
numerous lakelets, some, such as Stone Lake and Simpson
Lake, being of large size and very beautiful, and all
abounding with duck. These, with the extent of timber
and the number of the streams in the vicinity, combined
with the general excellence of the .soil, must in due time
render this district as attractive to the settler as it is
pleasing to the eye of the traveller.
The afternoon being wet and cold with threatenings of
a stormy night, we pushed on towards Fort Pitt. About
sun-set. we met the mail, the driver having already
camped for the night. He drove a very humble, unpretending conveyance, a common prairie cart, very unlike
the dashing mail-gig, or the imposing stage-coach, which -
association connects with the words "royal mail." How- EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
ever, it is a stride forwards, as well as an indication of
general progress, to find the mail running every three
weeks between Winnipeg and Edmonton, and kept up
with remarkable regularity summer and "winter.
At first the winter mail was carried by dog-trains, but
now, in winter as in summer, it is run with horses. For
winter travel dogs have hitherto been largely used,
as with light loads they are much swifter than horses.
To drive a team of dogs it is said that one must be able
to swear in English, French, or Cree, while to be a first-
rate dog-driver requires a fluent command of profanity
in the three ■ languages; yet there are some excellent
dog-drivers in the North-West. Some years ago a well-
known Winnipeg ecclesiastic was making an extended
winter trip; the dogs, though frequently whipped, made
little progress, so the bishop remonstrated with the
driver. That functionary replied that he could not make
them go unless he swore at them. Absolution was given
him for the trip, and the dogs, hearing the familiar
expletives, trotted along gaily. Dog-driving, however,
is passing out of use in the North-West, as it is becoming
much more expensive to keep dogs than to keep horses.
While buffalo were abundant, and every post and wigwam could have unlimited pemmican, it was easy for any
man to keep a kennel, but as the buffalo are rapidly
disappearing, and as the horses can forage for themselves-
at all seasons, whereas dogs must be fed throughout the *266
whole year inorder to be on hand for their winter work,
horses are being used almost entirely on the prairies
except in the more northern districts, where game and
fish are still very abundant.
We reached Fort Pitt late in the evening, and the
storm which had already overtaken us made the comforts of this hospitable house all the more enjoyable.
Next morning, having inspected some wonderful wheat
and potatoes grown at the Fort, and having experienced
the proverbial difficulty in making an early start from a
post of the H. B. Company, we crossed the Saskatchewan
and took the trail for Battleford. The Fort is a comfortable two-story dwelling, with' the usual accompaniments
of store and outbuildings, partially surrounded by a low
palisade. It stands about' twenty feet above the river,
and has, like many others, a number of Indian lodges,
or tepees, in the neighbourhood, at which, even when
most of the men with their families are off hunting, the
lame and the sick remain, expecting to be kept in life
and in some measure of comfort by the officers of the
We left the south bank soon after mid-day, and, after
rising about fifty feet from the water's edge, we crossed
a plain of several miles, where the soil is Hght, but the
pasture excellent and then passed over rolling prairie,
of good soil and rich grass, with -clumps of willow,
already brown and well-nigh leafless.    We found plenty EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
of wood and water, and no scarcity of good camping-
grounds, but on account of our late start we did not
make more than sixteen miles. Next day the solitude
of our journey was relieved by our meeting a clergyman,
who was on his way to Fort Pitt, expecting to reside
there as missionary among the Indians of this district.
The country traversed was rolling prairie and grassy
plain, partly good for the growth of grain, and partly for
pasturage, the soil being sometimes light, sometimes
rich loam, but generally lighter than that along the
north bank of the Saskatchewan. Hour after hour wore
on, and mile after mile was traversed, without om- see-,
ing any living creature except the ducks that still
lingered on the lakelets, an occasional gopher or prairie
squirrel, or a badger, popping up his grey head to watch us
as we passed the little mound which he had scooped out of
the earth, when making a hole for himself and a small pitfall for the horses. At night the last sound heard in the
stillness was the call of the wild geese winging their way
southward, the harsher cry of the land crane, or the
rustle of the aspen leaves, now dry and ready to drop.
On Saturday we passed over rolling prairie country
generally of light soil, scantily wooded, and soon after midday we reached Battleford, ninety-three miles from Fort
Pitt. We had accomplished the first stage of the journey
from Edmonton to Winnipeg; we had traversed a country
of almost uniformly good soil, sometimes of surpassing
>JJfIUJU^/*&Xd2Z. 268
richness, and were assured that we would have found it
similar had we followed either of the maiD trails south
of the Saskatchewan.   In a few places there is a great
scarcity of wood, a want that is felt in the vicinity of
Battleford, though not as severely as in some other parts
of the prairies.   Before reaching Winnipeg, however, the
traveller from the west becomes sufficiently familiar with
treeless tracts.    Probably on some of the plains no trees
have grown for many centuries, as no roots nor any trace
of decayed trees can be detected in the soil.   For the
most part, however, they have manifestly been denuded
by fire, sometimes the result of accident but frequently
set by the Indians as their mode of signalling each other.
To quote Capt Palliser: " The most trivial signal of one
Indian to another has' often lost hundreds of acres of
forest trees which might have brought wealth and comfort to the future settler, while it has brought starvation
and misery to the Indian tribes themselves, by spoiling
their hunting-grounds.   The  Indians, however, never
taught by experience, still use ' signal-fires' to the same
extent as in former years." But, in justice to the Indian,
he adds, when nearer the mountains: " Here I observed
a very satisfactory proof that lightning in the mountains
must very frequently be the cause of fires, and that all
forests are not destroyed by the hand of man."*    One
* Explorations of Brit. North America, p.p. 89, 93. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
result of this destruction of trees, one which is quickly
and keenly felt, is the scarcity of firewood, for in crossing the prairies one suffers more frequently from the
■want of wood than from the want of water; -and fresh
water can usually be found by digging for it. This
scarcity of wood can, of course, be remedied by
increased tree culture; and the growth of trees would
also secure partial if not complete defence against the
ravages of the locust, from which for several years
Manitoba and the North-West suffered severely, and by
a "recurrence of which they might again be seriously
injured. No barrier is so effectual against them as belts
and groves of trees.
But a result even more serious than the lack of fuel
■or occasional ravages of grasshoppers, that may be attributed to this widespread treelessness, is the gradual
reduction of the rainfall. It is known, from long-continued observations, that the moisture of the climate
has on the treeless portions of the prairies been diminished, as is manifest for instance, from the fact that
many of the lakelets are slowly drying up; so that, if
nothing were done to counteract this process, there
might, in a few' generations, be seen on our prairies
results similar to those already seen in Palestine and in
parts of Northern Africa, where from the destruction of
the woods and the consequent reduction of the rainfall,
lands that were once fertile have become utterly unpro- rw
ductive. And conversely, where groves and forests are
multiplied the moisture is increased, for not only do the
trees, by the shade which they afford prevent rapid
evaporation and so preserve the streams and rivulets,
but probably the foliage reduces the temperature near
the earth and so contributes to the formation of clouds.
Already in portions of the Western States the cultivation
of trees has had a marked effect upon the climate.
" When the Mormons first settled in Utah, they found
the district barren. Water had to be-brought almost
incredible distances, in wooden pipes. Trees were carefully planted, and nourished with the water so brought,
and now the district may be termed the garden of the
world, and is not dependent on -water brought from a
distance, but enjoys a steady rainfall."* Even in 1867
it was noticed that " the settlement of the country and
the increase of the timber have already changed for the
better the climate of that portion of Nebraska lying
along the Missouri, so that within the last twelve or fourteen years, the rain has gradually increased in quantity,
and is much more equally distributed throughout the
year." f And the. work of tree-culture is neither slow
nor difficult; not difficult, for the chief requisite is to
break up the land, and to sow seeds or to plant cuttings;
•Quoted hy Dr. Dawson, Geol. of 49th Parallel, p. 318.
f V. S. Geol. Surv. Ten-it quoted by Dr. Dawson, op. cit., p. 318. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFOBD.
and not slow, for soft maple will attain a height of fifteen
feet with diameter of seven inches in seven years, increasing in three years more to ten inches, so that in ten or
fifteen years a plantation may be raised even from the
seed, and much more speedily from cuttings. As long
as the supply of our woodland is adequate to the requirements of the country, and until the well-timbered tracts
of fertile soil are occupied, the need of tree-culture may
not be severely felt; but even for such general reasons as
providing barriers against the grasshoppers and for improvement of the climate, as well as for the increase of fuel
and of building material, the cultivation of trees should be
liberally encouraged by the Government Not long ago
an excellent act was passed, entitling settlers to | tree-
claims " not exceeding 160 acres, for which patents
would bo issued at the end of eight years, provided that
a certain area had been planted in trees, tree-seeds or
cuttings, and that there were a certain number of living
and thrifty trees to each acre. One fatal restriction,
however, has been laid-on this law. It does not apply
to the railway belt, the belt of one hundred and ten miles
on each side of the located line of the Canadian Pacific
Eailway; and, as the southern margin of that belt approaches the international boundary, while on the north
it includes large tracts of timber-land, the law, in its
present form, is useless.
Battleford has for three years been the capital of the 272
North-West Territories. It is situated on the south bank
of the Battle Eiver, near its confluence with the Saskatchewan, and in addition to a number of good dwellings,
the chief of which is Government House, it boasts a
printing office, where the Saskatchewan Herald is published, an H. B. C. Post, a few shops, etc., while at a
short distance, on the opposite side of Battle Eiver, are
the quarters of the North-West Mounted Police, as a
detachment of the force is always stationed here.
The present arrangements for the "government of the -
North-West are simple but seemingly effective, for law
and order are admirably maintained. For the administration of justice the Territories are divided into three
-Judicial Districts, each large enough for an empire.
The Saskatchewan District is bounded on the south by
Bed Deer Biver, the south branch of. the Saskatchewan,
and the Saskatchewan Eiver, on the west by British
Columbia, on the east by Keewatin, .on the north by'
the Arctic Sea The remaining portion between the
Saskatchewan district and the U. S. Boundary line on
the north and south, and the Bocky Mountains and
Manitoba on the west and east is divided into two districts by the 108th meridian of west longitude, the
western one being named the Bow Eiver District, the
other the Qu'appelle District In each of these three
districts justice is administered by a Stipendiary Magistrate, who seems to possess the power and to perform EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
the functions of the combined courts of any of the
older Provinces.
For the general affairs of government there is a
Council, of which the Stipendiary Magistrates are ex
officio members, presided over by the Lieutenant-
Governor. Every district, not exceeding 1,000 square
miles, that contains a population of not less- than 1,000
adult inhabitants, exclusive of aliens or unenfranchised
Indians, may elect one member of Council. When the
number of members increases to twenty-one, the Council
shall cease, and a Legislative Assembly be formed, but,
meanwhile, the Council possesses powers similar to those
of the Legislative Assemblies of the other Provinces.
They have no direct control over Indian affairs, these
being administered through the Department. of the
Interior and the Indian Commissioner, but the interests
of the Indians are often of necessity matters of consideration for the Council, just as the administration of justice
to the Indians as well as to the whites is a duty of the
Stipendiary Magistrates.*
The Government are enabled, through the North-West
Mounted Police, to enforce their  laws promptly and
* The North-West Council at present consists of Lieut-Governor:
Laird; Lieut-Col. Bichardson, Btipendary Magistrate of the Saskatchewan District; M. Eyan, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate of the,
Qu'Appelle District; Lieut.-Col. Macleod, C.M.G., Commissioner of
N. W. M. Police, and Stipendiary Magistrate of the Bow Eiver
District; and Pascal Breland, Esq. 274
efficiently, the services of the police being specially
required in carrying out the prohibition of the liquor
traffic, in conveyance of certain criminals to Winnipeg,
as no penitentiary has yet been provided for the Territories, and in similar offices where the argument of
physical force is. necessary.
The wisdom of selecting Battleford as the capital of
the North-West Territories has been as much questioned
as the propriety of making Ottawa the capital of the
Dominion. Its opponents say that there is no abundance
of good soil in the neighbourhood, that there is a great
scarcity of wood, that settlers are not being attracted
there, and that Prince Albert, near the junction of the
North and South Saskatchewan, would be much more
suitable; while its advocates maintain that its situation
is central, that to move it eastward would be a mistake
and an injustice to the western districts, all the more so
as the western limit of Manitoba may, if Manitobans get
what they want, be moved some distance westward.
The arguments on both sides are good and true; meanwhile, Battleford has possession of Government House,
and the argument of possession is a very strong one.
The season here, as throughout a large portion of the
North-West Territories, is earlier than in the Eastern
Provinces. From records that have been kept at Battleford, for instance, since its selection as the seat of Gov*
eminent it is found that in 1878 ploughing commenced EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
on the 19th March, the soil being dry almost as soon as
the snow had disappeared. On account of frost in April,
however, wheat was not sown that year until the 4th of
May. In 1879 wheat was sown on the 12th April,
ploughing having been begun on the 10th April; potatoes were planted on the 12th April and used on tho
1st July, while wheat was cut on the llth August, the
crops being excellent. The end of May and the month .
of June are usually wet, but the remainder of the summer is almost invariably dry and warm, with only sufficient rain to secure good harvests and. with invariably
cooi nights.
The Saskatchewan, at Battleford, opens'about the 10th
April, and, although winter commences at the beginning
of November, nearly a month earlier than in Ontario,
yet spring opens about a month earlier. The average
temperature at Battleford, from April to August,—that
is during the wheat-growing months,—is higher than it
is at Toronto, so that even although the average for the
year is, on account of the colder winter, lower than in
Western Ontario, yet the temperature is more favourable to the growth of grain. And the climate is much
the same all along the Valley of the Saskatchewan. From
numerous observations, Dr. Dawson says: "Enough is
known to prove the remarkably uniform progress of the
spring along the so-called 'fertile belt,' which, passing
north-westward from the Eed Eiver Valley, nearly fol- 276
lows the Saskatchewan to the Eocky Mountains, and will
be the first region occupied by the settler. From the
data now at command, I believe that the difference in
advance of the spring between any of the above stations^
(that is, Dufferin in Bed Eiver Valley, Cumberland
House, Fort Carlton and Fort Edmonton) is not so great
as that obtaining at the same season between the vicinity
of Montreal and that of Quebec." *
And while the climate is thus favourable, these southern prairies even in the least attractive districts are
much more suitable for settlement than has till recently
been supposed. For years the wonderful fertility and
excellence of such districts as Edmonton, Prince Albert,
Touchwood Hills, Little Saskatchewan and others have
been familiar to many, hut the country to the south
of Battleford from the Hand Hills to the valley of the
Qu'Appelle has hitherto been known as the Great Plain,
and has been regarded as sterile, barren and useless.
Last year, however, Professor Macoun traversed those
plains from east to west, and although he found some
parts unfit for settlement he found in many others rich
loamy soil and abundance of grass. In a region adjoining
Eed Deer Lake, where Palliser twenty-two years ago,
•found numerous species of large animals and the grass
eaten so low that he could not get food for his horses.
* Geology of 49th Parallel, p. 283. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
Mr. Macoun found the grass knee-high, the wild animals
all gone and the poor Indians perishing from famine.*
The close cropping of the grass by herds of buffalo,
accompanied by the general treelessness caused by
fire, may in some measure account for the unfavourable
report hitherto given of those more southern prairies.
Summing up his experience of this district, Mr. Macoun
says: " After seeing the ' Great Plain,' I can state distinctly that the rainfall throughout the whole region is
suffioient for the growth of cereals, coming as it does, in
June and July, when the crops actually need it, and
ceasing when ripening commences. Wherever the soil
was suitable for the growth of grasses, there they were."
And, after referring to the arid clays and uncultivable
parts, he adds: " A more minute examination of the
country will locate these apparently unproductive soils,
and show that they are a very small percentage of
the whole. After seeing the country at its worst,
when it was suffering from intense heat and dry winds,
I wrote: 'Wherever there was drift without these
clays there was good grass, but wherever this soil prevailed, aridity showed itself at once.' Many of the hilltops were dry and burnt up, but, had they been ploughed
in the spring, would have yielded a good crop, as the
summer rains, which undoubtedly fall over the whole
country, Would have passed into the soil, instead of run-
* Report of Bngineer-in-ohief of Can. Pae. Railway'for 1880. p. 197.
88BMB- 278
ning off or passing in a few hours into the air, as they
do under the present condition of things." * We may
reasonably suppose that a similarly favourable opinion
may yet be justified regarding much of the southern
plains that have hitherto been considered as unfit for
It may as yet be premature to attempt to estimate,
even approximately, the extent of cultivable land in
the North-West; but, in the light of the most recent
information, and making large allowance for arid and
useless land, it has been set down at one hundred and
fifty millions of acres. Mr. Taylor, the U. S. Consul at
Winnipeg, *' Saskatchewan Taylor," as he was called
years ago from his familiarity with the country, contends that " four-fifths of the wheat producing belt of
North America will be found north of the international
boundary." These estimates may be excessive, and yet
each year, with'its ampler examination of the country by
surveyors and its increasing testimony from settlers,
tends rather to confirm than to refute these figures." This
vast area, the largest unoccupied tract of farm-lands in
the world, has been opened for settlement on the most
liberal terms. The land is laid off into townships of six
miles square, each of the thirty-six square miles being
called a section.   Within a belt of one hundred and ten
Eeport Ensinccr-in-chief, C.P.K. 1SS0, p. 200. EDMONTON TO BATTLEFORD.
miles on each side of the proposed line of the Canadian
Pacific Eailway every alternate section is reserved for
railway lands and is offered for sale at prices varying
from one dollar to five dollars per acre, according to the
proximity of the land to the railway. The remaining
lands in this belt are open for homestead and pre-emption.
Any person who is the head of a family, or who has
attained the age of eighteen years, is entitled to be
entered on these unappropriated lands for a homestead
of a quarter-section, that is one hundred and sixty acres,
and, on his compliance with certain requirements in the
way of settlement and cultivation of the soil, he receives,
at the end of three years, a Crown patent confirming him
in absolute proprietorship. In addition to this free
homestead the settler may acquire another block of one
hundred and sixty acres by pre-emption; that is, he has
the right of purchasing the quarter-section adjoining his
homestead, so that he may thus become proprietor of a
farm of three hundred and twenty acres, the price of the
pre-empted land varying from one dollar to two dollars
and a half per acre, according to its proximity to the line
of railway. The value of this vast tract of unoccupied
land where a free homestead is offered to the settler,
come whence he may, is greatly enhanced by the admission, on the part of competent authorities in the
United States, that nearly all the free agricultural lands
in that country have been taken up, those that are not
■Jf-HBBBB 280
held by settlers or speculators being to a great extent in
the hands of railway companies.
Already the current of immigration seems to have set
in towards those fertile prairies. Last year, 1879, the
Government lands sold in the North-West were considerably more than those of 1877 and 1878 combined,
amounting to 1,154,072 acres; and the receipts (one-
tenth of the total value, since the price of these lands
is paid in ten equal annual instalments,) were $218,409,
exclusive of $42,910 received for homestead and preemption fees; and this notwithstanding the unfavourable land regulations then in force which restricted tho
homestead claim to eighty acres. With the increased
homestead and pre-emption claims, with the favourable
reports of tenant-farmers and others who came last year
to spy out the land and to see the size of the grapes in
our Canadian Eshcol, with the recent unfavourable harvests in Britain that have led many to think of founding
new homes in this part of the empire, and with the
wider spread of information regarding the resources and
the attractions of the country, a large and increasing
influx of population to the North-West may soon be
expected.   The immigration already witnessed is only
- The first low wash of waves, where soon
Shall roll a human sea." CHAPTEE XI.
Battleford to Winnipeg.
Battleford to Carlton.—Duck Lake.— A blizzard.—Fellow-travellers.—South Saskatchewan.—Delayed by snow.—Humboldt.—
Alkaline lakes.—Touchwood Bills.—Indian farming.—Breakdowns.— Prairie-fires..— Qu'Appelle.— Fort Ellice Township
surveys.—Colonisation Companies.—Prohibitory Liquor Law.
— Shoal Lake. — Salt Lake. — Little Saskatchewan. — Enter
Manitoba. — Joe's temptations.—Heavy roads. — Portage La
Prairie.—Winnipeg.—Prospects of immigrants.
After sharing, as an old acquaintance, the hospitality
which Governor Laird is ready to extend to State officials,
to familiar friends, to unknown travellers and to Indians,
I left Battleford at noon on Monday, 6th October, and
reached Fort Carlton, a hundred and eleven miles distant,
on the Wednesday following, being passed along through
the kindness of Major Walker of the N. W. Mounted
Police, who was sending one of his men with a double
.buck-board to Duck Lake. The trail runs for the most
part near the south bank of the Saskatchewan. The
country is very level, the soil being generally light,
but improving as you approach Carlton. With the
exception of the river valley, it is almost destitute of •282
wood, and, at the time when I saw it, looked peculiarly
uninviting, having been desolated and blackened by
recent prairie-fires. Om* first night was spent about
thirty miles from Battleford at a place which my driver
assured me was an excellent camping-ground, but as
darkness, accompanied by a storm of wind and rain,
had overtaken us before we reached it, so that it was
■very difficult to pitch a tent and impossible to make a
fire, I had to be satisfied with his assurance* of its good
character. Next night we camped at the Elbow, (for
almost every river in the North-West has an " elbow,")
a favourite and excellent halting-plaoe with delicious
water, supplied by springs in the river bank, and with
abundance of wood and grass.
Knowing that Carlton is one of the most important of
aU the posts of the H. B. Company, I had hoped to pro-
•cure horses there for my journey as far as Touchwood
Hills, but was disappointed, as neither the Company nor
the " freemen," living near the Fort, could forward me.
I therefore drove on that same evening, fourteen miles
further, to Duck Lake, where Stobart, Eden and Co., the
chief rivals of tho H. B. Company in the fur-trade of the
North-West, have an extensive post; and through the
kindness of their agent, Mr. Hughes, I was supplied with
a light, strong prairie cart two horses and a half-breed
•driver. Next morning, however, further progress was
entirely stopped by a snow storm.   I had been told to BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
expect snow in the early part of October, and was most
fortunate and thankful that the storm had not overtaken
me on the open prairie. Though the weather was not
cold, yet for a day the storm raged as wildly as any
winter " blizzard," meeting the requirements of the
stage-driver's description of a blizzard when he defined
it as " one o' them 'ere mountain storms as gets up on its
hind legs and howls."
A number of travellers were storm-stayed at Duck
Lake; among others Colonel Osborne Smith and Mr.
Acton Burrows, of Winnipeg, who were travelling eastward together, equipped With two spring waggons, and
accompanied by a half-breed and an Indian. We joined
forces; and as I had travelled for the most part alone
from Dunvegan, save only as attended by half-breeds or
Indians, it was most pleasant to have these gentlemen as
fellow-travellers from Duck Lake to Winnipeg.
Colonel Smith had been organizing four companies of
militia, for the purpose Of allaying any alarm that the
settlers of this and the neighbouring districts might feel
on account of a recent influx of Sioux from the south.
These Sioux had come from Sitting Bull's camp, perhaps
in the hope of acquiring reserves, or else expecting to be
better fed, either by the Government or by the settlers,
than they could be if they remained with the rest of the
tribe. They were almost invariably well-armed, and,
when they entered the homes of the settlers asking for 284
food, their excellent repeating rifles and their belts well
filled -with ball cartridge gave them such a persuasive
appearance that their request was usually as effective
as a royal command. Yet there was really little cause
for anxiety, for the Indian is nothing in his own eyes if
not armed; his rifle is to him a badge of manhood
rather than a threat against the peace of the community,
and, so far as intent is concerned, inoffensive as a walking-stick. The enrolment of 160 militiamen had, however, the beneficial effect of allaying all trace of alarm.
The snow-storm prevented our seeing this part of the
country to advantage, but from Duck Lake to the junction of the north and south branches of the Saskatchewan, about fifty miles below this, the country is
peculiarly rich and fertile. Prince Albert Settlement,
which forms part of this district,- is already well known
as one of the most prosperous and promising in the
North-West. With easy communication east and west by
the river, and with advantages of churches, schools, mills,
etc., its population is rapidly increasing; its free homesteads have all been taken up, and land is annually rising
in value. A little further down the Saskatchewan, near
the borders of the Carrot or Boot Eiver there is an
excellent tract of country which, during last summer,
was attracting a large number of settlers.
During the enforced pause at Duck Lake we were able
to make the necessary ai-rangements for the next stage BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
of om- journey, a hundred and fifty miles to the H. B.
Company's trading-post at Touchwood Hills. After a
day's detention we started, but the recent snow-fall had
made the roads so heavy that a day's travel brought us
only to the South Saskatchewan, twelve miles from
Duck Lake. We crossed the river at a point known as
-Gabriel's Crossing, so called because the ferry is kept by
Gabriel Dumond. Another trail from Carlton to Touchwood, running a little north of the one we followed,
crosses the river five miles lower down, at Batosche's
Hitherto the South Branch of the Saskatchewan has
"been navigated only by canoe; yet the only part of it for
several hundred miles unsuited to large craft seems to be
a short reach near its junction with the North Branch.
Mr. Macoun who crossed it at the Elbow in July 1879,
says: " Shoals and sandbars were numerous, with
occasional islands, but nothing to indicate that the river
at this point was unsuited for navigation;" and he
adds : —" Why the South Branch should be thought
unfit for navigation, I cannot understand. Mr. Hind,
•who passed down it in August, 1858, never speaks of its
depth as being less than seven and a half feet, and the
current as never more than three miles an hour, except
when close to the North Branch. Palliser, who crossed
the river about twenty miles above me, on 28th Sep-
tember, 1857, states that the water in the middle of the
psaa 286
channel, where they lost their waggon, was twenty feet
deep. While on the plains, I never heard of the river
being ford able below the mouth of the Bed Deer Biver.
Palliser crossed it on a raft, 22nd July, 1859, about sixty
miles above that point where the river was 250 yards
wide, and from five to eight feet deep. When at the
Blackfoot Crossing of the Bow Biver, a branch of the
South Saskatchewan, 27th August, 1879,1 found that it
was with the utmost difficulty that horses could cross
without swimming. No person ever mentions a rapid
being anywhere in the river below this, so that I have
come to the conclusion that there is nothing to prevent
all the supplies wanted for the south-west being sent up
the South Saskatchewan Coal is abundant in the river
banks at the Blackfoot Crossing, and farther eastward, so
that there will be no difficulty as to fuel for steamers.
Should an attempt be made to navigate the river, it will
be found to have better water for -a longer period of the-
year than the North Saskatchewan, as its head waters
drain a greater extent of the mountains."* -
Wo camped on the east bank, near Dumond's, a large
number of freighters, some heavily-laden, others returning eastward with empty carts, being camped near us.
Next morning, Saturday, we found the crust on the snow
so strong that we could walk upon it, and although as
the day grew warmer wo tried to proceed, our horses
* Report of Engineer-in-Chief of C. P. Railway, for 1880, p. 196. BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
became so fagged after we.had gone three miles that we
were forced to halt On Sunday we remained in camp
all day, being unable to travel, had we desired to do so,
our freighting neighbours being forced into similar
inactivity. That night there came a thaw, and with the
warmer weather the snow began to disappear, so that
although for some distance the road continued heavy, we
were able to make from twenty to thirty miles a day.
We passed over undulating prairie, wooded with
occasional aspen and willow copse, and well-watered.
The numerous badger-holes gave us easy opportunity
for examining the soil, which we found to be in some parts
loamy and good,- but generally light and sandy. This is
the prevailing characteristic of the country, as seen from
the trail, for the greater part of the distance from the
Saskatchewan to the Touchwood Hills; but, though most
of it is seemingly poor wheat-land, it may be well suited
for grazing and stock-raising. OccasionaUy the trail
skirted small lakes, some of which were alkaline. In
the neighbourhood of the fresh water lakelets, and
especially near the picturesque Morris Lake, which is
thirty-five miles from the Saskatchewan, good camping-
ground may be found; but a few miles east of Morris
Lake there is a treeless plain, in crossing which, late in
the day, as we did, it is well to carry wood lest it may
be necessary to pitch camp ere the plain be passed.
On Wednesday morning we halted for a little at the 288
Humboldt Telegraph Station, some fifty-six miles from
the Saskatchewan. We found that the telegraph line
was down, that it had been down for a fortnight, and so
here, as at Battleford, the only other station that we
passed between Edmonton and Winnipeg, we were
unable to send any messages eastward. Although a
subsidy of $12,000 a year is given by Government to the
contractors, communication is very frequently interrupted ; and while there may be difficulty in keeping so
long a line in repair through such a sparsely peopled and
lightly wooded country, yet in view of the subsidy, and
ofthe excessive rates charged by the contractors, better
provision for the transmission of messages might be expected. Leaving telegrams to be forwarded as soon as
the line would be in working order, we again took the
Thirty miles from Humboldt we entered on a salt plain,
known as Quill Lake plain, named after the largest of the
salt lakes in the vicinity. The plain is about twenty-three
miles in width where crossed by the trail, and although
the grass looks rich, yet it is hard and wiry, and so
heavily impregnated with alkali that the horses do not
care for it. The shores of these alkaline lakes, as well as
the soil in their vicinity, when bare of herbage, are generally encrusted with a thin coating of salt. Sometimes
quite near them there are fresh-water lakelets, but on
the salt plain there is a great scarcity of fresh water, as BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
as well as of wood, so that we were compelled to carry
both for some miles for cooking purposes.
The formation of these alkaline lakes has been a frequent subject of speculation. It has been observed that
"they have no visible outlet, and it is supposed that alkali,
left on the soil by the extensive prairie fires, is washed
by the rain into these alkaline basins. Other lakelets
may receive similar deposits, but, as they are emptied
by running streams, the supply of alkali is-carried off
-and the water in them is thus kept fresh. It seems
probable that when, under careful administration, prairie
fires become less frequent, when tree-culture is practised
throughout a large portion of the North-West and when
the present rapid evaporation of the rainfall shall thus
bo reduced, the alkali will disappear from these lakes,
and the soil in their neighbourhood, which in other
respects is generally of good quality, will be thoroughly
adapted for cultivation.
Yery soon after crossing Quill Lake Plain we entered
the Touchwood Hill district, one of the choice parts of
the North-West Territories. The country here is very'
beautiful, more varied in scenery than any other which
we had passed, with excellent soil and abundance of
wood and water. This is the character of the country
for about sixty miles east and west as crossed by the
trail, and it is said to be similar for at least the same
extent north and south.    Indeed, a province could be
20 290
formed out of this Touchwood Hill country, most of
which would embrace land of special excellence for farming, while outside of the arable lands excellent grazing
districts might be found.
For a time it was supposed that the whole of the so
called " fertile belt," that is, of the part of the North-
West Territories lying south of the North Branch of the
Saskatchewan, was suitable for cultivation. Then came
a reaction of sentiment, and it was supposed that very
little was cultivable, whereas the fertile tract was
thought to be further north. Fuller enquiry, however,
is shewing that the good land is in districts rather than
in one continuous belt, interspersed with tracts of less
value. Only the advanced guard of immigration have as
yet reached the Touchwood Hills, although many have
settled further west at Prince Albert and Edmonton.
The chief disadvantage of the district, as compared with
those bordering the Saskatchewan, is that it is cut off from
all communication by water east or west, and until the
C. P. Eailway passes, as it is expected to do, within easy
access of it, it must be dependent for freight upon
prairie-carts or other wheeled conveyance.
The name Touchwood Hills conveys an exaggerated
idea of the character of the country. It is by no means
mountainous; it can hardly be called hilly; it is simply
rolling country, well wooded, with numerous gently
swelling knolls, and dotted by many beautiful lakelets; BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
it is hilly only in comparison with the dead-level
prairie. Soon after we had entered this fertile district,
we crossed one of the Indian reserves, passing by the farm
of Mr. Scott, the Indian farm-instructor. A number of
the Indians were busily engaged in farm labour, while
others, under Mr. Scott's directions, were building
barns. As the chief, Day-Star by name, seems fully
determined to adopt a settled life, and gives promise of
becoming a tolerable farmer, his band will probably
follow his example; and as the soil on their reserve is
excellent they will have little difficulty in raising all
necessary supplies.
On Friday, the 17th, we reached the H. B. Company's
trading-post at Touchwood Hills, eighty-one miles from
Humboldt, one hundred and sixty-three miles from Fort
Carlton, having, through actual stoppage and short
days' travelling, lost about four days by the storm.
This post, which is one of several stations connected
with" Fort Ellice, is in the very heart ofthe Touchwood
Hill country, and cannot fail to become ere long the
centre of a rich farming district. They had only a little
snow here on the day of our snow-storm at Duck Lake,
and before noon next day it had entirely disappeared.
In the immediate neighbourhood of the H. B. Company's
post we found many strawberry blossoms, the wild vines
having already yielded a large supply of berries, and
now blossoming a second time. 292
Here we required to procure fresh horses, and I had
to provide myself with a substitute for the cart that had
come from Duck Lake, my fellow-travellers having
brought their waggons from Winnipeg. The H. B.
Company's agent furnished us with horses, and secured
for me a spring cart from one of the settlers, and the
services of an Indian driver. I was imprudent enough
to advance the Indian a large part of his wages in the
form of a blanket; and after he had been with me a day
he feigned sickness so successfully that I was forced to
allow him return. The spring-cart was as great a failure
as the Indian. After driving twenty miles the axle
broke beyond repair, and my only resource was to buy a
prairie cart from a passing freighter, who fortunately
was able to spare one. When the last and only cart
breaks down the usual resource is to make a " travail."
Two poles, longer than ordinary shafts, are fastened like
shafts to the horse, while the ends trail on the ground a
few feet behind him, kept apart by several cross-bars on
which the load is bound. Those who are much accustomed to prairie life soon become experienced carriage-
menders. A half-breed, Joe Bourrassa, who had
accompanied Colonel Smith from Winnipeg, was
invaluable in this as well as in many other respects.
When a break-down occurred, whether from a lost bolt,
a broken whipple-tree, or other cause, Joe would have
the necessary repairs completed before an ordinary car- BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
riage-maker could have decided what should be done.
He appeared to have an inexhaustible reserve of expedients; failing one, he would try another; and his ready
resources were frequently of great service to us. By
the time that our journey was over we thought, as no
doubt many others do after similar experience, that we
could have planned the best kind of conveyance for
crossing the prairies, but our new and improved buck-
board is still a thing of the future.
For about fifty-five miles from the H. B. Company's
Post at Touchwood Hills the country is pleasingly varied
with rich soil, luxuriant herbage, and abundance of water
and of wood, the poplars here being sometimes eighteen
inches in diameter. East of this, there is a treeless plain
or "traverse," as such tracts are called, probably because
when once entered they must be crossed ere good camping-ground can be reached. It is not always easy, however, to measure your distance and to time your day's
journey so closely as to cross a traverse without camping,
especially in such a case as this where it was thirty miles
in width. Being forced to spend a night upon it we had
to carry wood several miles for our camp-fire.
For three or four days the weather was very beautiful,
realizing the promise held out by many regarding the
Indian summer that would follow the first snow-fall.-
Even mosquitos appeared, although their hum had lost
the business-like tone of July.   Prairie fires were visible
rmmmmmmmmrm. 294
for several nights in succession; and a large expanse of
country traversed by us had already been burnt over,
while day after day the smoke hung heavily along the
horizon. One favourable result produced by the surrounding fires was that a great abundance of game,—
chiefly prairie-chicken,—was driven in upon the unburnt
portion oi the prairie over which we passed.
The distance from the trading-post at Touchwood Tfill«
to Fort Ellice is one hundred and fifty-two miles, and although the soil in many parts after leaving the fertile
district seemed light and poor, and had been rendered
less attractive by the prevailing fires/yet some portions
appeared rich and cultivable. We did not reach Ellice
until mid-day on the 23rd. The Indian summer had
passed; tho nights had become cold, the thermometer
one morning indicating seventeen degrees of frost; and
the raw keen winds made us anxious to reach Winnipeg.
Early on the 23rd we crossed the sandy valley of the
Qu'Appelle, the main tributary of the Assineboine. The
river probably derives its namo from the very distinct
echo that is heard at several places along the valley.
Voyageurs, finding that sounds came to them from the
banks, might often have asked " Qu'appelle ?" " Who
calls?" and hence the name; although some, as might
be expected, attribute it to a haunting spirit that
occasionally disturbs the solitude and silence, leading the
traveller to ask, in some anxiety, " Who calls ?" BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPBG.
The valley of the Qu'Appelle is said to be well suited
for sheep-farming, being better fitted for grazing than for
grain-growing. It has evidently been at one time the
bed of a much larger stream than that which now flows
through it; and it has been generally supposed that the
South Saskatchewan, instead of turning northward at
the Elbow to join the North Branch near Prince Albert,
formerly flowed eastward along the valley of the
Qu'Appelle and of the Assineboine to join the Bed Biver
at Winnipeg. Mr. Macoun, however, has recently
weakened the plausibility of this theory. He says: *
"It having been supposed, and even stated as a fact
during my stay in Winnipeg, that the waters of the
South Saskatchewan could be easily let into the
Qu'Appelle Biver, I considered it of so much importance
to ascertain the correctness of this, that my assistant, an
engineer, levelled back fifteen miles from the Elbow, and
found that at that point the water surface of the
Qu'Appelle was seventy-three feet higher than the
Saskatchewan, on July 16th, 1879."
Soon after crossing the Qu'Appelle Yalley we reached
Fort Ellice, the central H. B. Company's dep6t of an
extensive district. The division of the country adopted
'hy the H. B. Company in the formation of their districts
suggests itself as a possible one for the formation of
future provinces.   Thus we might have the provinces of
* Report of Engineer-in-Chief, C. P. Railway, for 1880, p. 196.
mm 296
Ellice, Carlton, Edmonton, Athabasca, Dunvegan (or
Unchagah), Mackenzie, etc., each with territorial limits
larger than some of our organised Provinces, while such
a one as that which might be formed out of the Edmonton district if it were settled according to its resources,
would probably be not inferior to any province of the
Fort Ellice stands near the confluence of Beaver Creek,
the Qu'Appelle and the Assineboine, with a commanding
view of the broad and fertile valley of the Assineboine,
through which the river flows in serpentine windings at
a level of about two hundred feet below the Fort. An
older fort at one time stood some distance above EUice on
the banks of Beaver Creek, and the present one used to he
surrounded by a palisade in the days when traffic with
the Indians was conducted through port-holes, and when
they had to give up their knives before receiving their
rum. The soil around the Fort is too sandy and gravelly
to be fit for cultivation, but the valley ofthe Assineboine
is exceedingly rich and admirably suited for the growth
of wheat, while it is large enough to afford farms for many
thousands, and the neighbouring prairie to the north
is an excellent grazing country. The river is navigable
for steamers from Winnipeg to Ellice. We had to procure a fresh relay of horses at Ellice, as well as some
fresh supplies, our next stage being from this to Portage
La Prairie.   As the corral was eighteen miles distant,
there was a day's delay in fetching the horses.    Having
completed our preparations, we left on Friday the 24th,.
and after crossing the valley of the Assineboine we
followed the trail eastward, reaching Shoal Lake that'
evening, a distance of thirty-three miles.
From Ellice to Winnipeg we saw every day the houses
of new settlers, the country to this extent having already been surveyed into townships ; but as yet the
township surveys have not been completed west of this,,
except at some special localities. The township is six
miles square, and each of the thirty-six square miles
constitutes a section. Two sections in each township are
reserved for the Hudson's Bay Company, and two others
for the benefit of public schools. Of the remaining thirty- -
two, sixteen are reserved for railway lands, oight for
free homesteads, and eight for pre-emption. The system
is simple, its chief drawback being that the settlers are
necessarily so widely separated from each other. Each;
settler, it may be supposed, will endeavour to secure at ■
least half a section, 160 acres of free homestead, and 160
acres by pre-emption. Let an entire township be settled
at this rate, and even if the railway lands be occupied,.
there will only be sixty-four families in the township of
thirty-six square miles, while the number may be much
smaller, and th ese so scattered as to be of little mutual
service in the support of Churches, schools, etc. The
Mennonites, who have received special permission from..
asraa 598
the Government to settle their townships according to
their own plan, form a "dorf" or village in the centre, and,
while thus living near each other for mutual benefit, they
cultivate their separate farms in different parts of the.
township. Our Anglo-Saxon settlers, however, even
were liberty given them by the Government, would
probably decline to adopt the Mennonite system; yet
until population becomes numerous, sections become
sub-divided, and villages spring up in each township,
they cannot take much concerted action in matters of
religion, of education, or of other general interest.
Twelve miles from Ellice we crossed Bird-Tail Creek,
on which, at some distance north of the trail, a tract of
two townships has been secured by the Hamilton Colonisation Company, with a view to settlement. Colonisation Companies may serve for the North-West the
same purpose, as immigration agents, that has been
served by Eailway Companies in the Western States.
Such companies, spurred into activity by the prospect of
profitable land sales, will probably be more zealous than
■Government immigration agents and will naturally
strive to secure the speedy settlement of at least a
portion of their lands. At any rate they may be useful
fellow-labourers with the Government in promoting
At Shoal Lake there is a station of the N. W. Mounted
Bolice, and as it is the first station west of Manitoba, and BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
on the great highway of prairie traffic, all freighters and
other travellers westward bound are examined here, and
are compelled to give up all spirituous liquors, unless
they carry them by special permit ofthe Lieut-Governor,
as the prohibitory liquor law of the Territories is rigidly
Ten miles from Shoal Lake we passed Salt Lake, so
called from the character of the water, which is so
impregnated with alkali that cattle will not drink it;
indeed, for some distance in the neighbourhood of Salt
Lake the soil appears to be largely affected by alkali.
But, although it looked unfavourable for settlement, as
seen from the trail, two days after we had passed it we
overtook some Ontario farmers, who had been "land-
hunting " and had selected homesteads a little north of
Salt Lake. The land seen from the trail must frequently
be poorer than that a little distance off, as ridges and
gravelly soil, wherever such can be found, have naturally
been selected for the trail, on the principle that good
soil makes bad roads.
Nine miles from Salt Lake the trail forks into two,
one of which crosses the Little Saskatchewan at Bapid
City, the other, a little farther north, crossing it at Prairie
City. Taking the latter, which passes by Badger Hill,
we travelled for many miles through a beautiful country,
well watered, with excellent soil, and crossed, near sunset, the fertile valley of the Little Saskatchewan, seven- 300
ty-two miles from Fort Ellice. This valley, like many of
those which we had crossed before, seems very large in
proportion to the size of the stream that flows through
it, but the absence of rock has allowed these creeks and
rivers, as they coursed through the rich prairie soil, to
carve out large channels for themselves. These valleys,
or coulies as they are sometimes called, form the chief
engineering difficulty in railway construction across the
Here, as at Shoal Lake and elsewhere, speculation was
rife regarding the probable location of the C. P. Eailway.
All seemed glad that the line by the Narrows of Lake
Manitoba had been abandoned for the more southern
route, and settlers were anxious to ascertain where the
Little Saskatchewan would be crossed and what route
would be adopted further west
This httle Saskatchewan district is already well-known
and justly esteemed both for its beauty and for its fertility ; almost every part of it is fit for settlement and the
lands that are unsuited for wheat are admirably adapted
for grazing. Encamped one evening near its banks we
were visited by two Scotchmen, recent arrivals, one of
whom had lived for some years in Ontario. After discussing the present and prospective merits of the
country, I asked him how long it was since he had left
Scotland. "Hoo did ye ken that I cam' frae Scotland ?"
he replied in the broadest Doric, imagining that he had BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
lost his Scottish accent in Ontario; but the Scotchman
is becoming ubiquitous in the North-West Like other
settlers with whom we conversed, these men gave us
glowing reports of the soil, crops and prospects of the
country. Much of the land in their neighbourhood had
already been taken up, some of it in much larger blocks
than the ordinary homestead. We were told, for instance,
that Lord Elphinstone, has secured 12,000 acres of arable
and grazing land, which he evidently intends to settle
and cultivate.
Continuing om* course eastward, we passed over
similar country, rich and attractive, waiting to be tilled,
and already in many parts taken up. Having crossed
Snake Creek, about twenty-two miles from the Little
Saskatchewan, we traversed the Beautiful Plain, as it is
called, a stretch of the most luxuriant pasture-land we
had ever seen, and, about forty miles east of Prairie City,
we entered the Province of Manitoba. The country
continued as fertile as any that we had come over,
perhaps more so, but Manitoba is so very flat as compared with such districts as Little Saskatchewan, Touchwood Hills, or Edmonton, that it appeared somewhat
monotonous. A level sameness of extremely rich farm
land, however, affords rather a pleasing monotony.
Only to the traveller in search of the picturesque does
the country seem uninviting, many leagues being so
level that a wheat-stack may be seen for miles, while a 302
farm-steading is as distinct an object on the horizon as a
hill is in Scotland.
Having entered Manitoba, and having crossed and
re-crossed the White Mud Biver, first at Gladstone, a
thriving border village, then at Woodside, and again at
Westbourne, we camped near Westbourne. That first
night in Manitoba was rather serious in its effects upon
our half-breed driver, Joe Bourrassa, as he was once
again within reach of liquor. For several weeks he had
been practising enforced abstinence, but at last, like a
sailor after a long voyage, he threw off the unwelcome
restraint. Next morning poor Joe was rather unfit for
his work. On each subsequent occasion on which we came
within range of a public-house, it was necessary to watch
him very closely, and as we approached Winnipeg, or
'■' Garry," as all the half-breeds call it from the old Fort
around which the city has clustered, his face beamed
with delight at the vision of unrestricted whiskey.
Within two hours after om* arrival, Joe, dull of eye and
incoherent of speech, came to ask for his wages, and on
being told that he could only get them when he became
sober, he begged for one dollar " to finish drunk."
Soon after leaving Westbourne we found the roads
heavy through recent rain, and we were able in some
measure to appreciate the difficulties of immigrants
arriving in the wet season of early summer, and traversing Manitoba in May and early June.   The roads through
these extremely rich wheat-lands become almost impassable for some weeks after heavy rain, while walking
is carried on under such conditions as to make every
pedestrian appreciate the oft-repeated joke that "if
you don't stick to the land, the land will stick to you."
So far as travellers going west of Manitoba are concerned,
this and kindred difficulties will be overcome on the
completion, during the present year, of the first hundred
"miles of railway now in course of construction west of
Winnipeg, but until that section is completed, we cannot expect a large influx of immigrants into the North-
West. Although they may be told that om- wheat-lands
yield on an average from fifty to a hundred per cent
more that the best wheat-lands of the United States, a
larger yield per acre, of better quality, and of greater
weight per bushel, although they may be familiar with
reports of settlers, of British deputations, of immigration
agents, and of Cabinet ministers, and although they may
know that a free homestead can be had north of the
international boundary line while farms worth having
in Dakotah or Minnesota will cost at least from $2.50 to
$6.00 per acre, yet the facilities of access and of traffic
furnished by the railway system of the United States
must induce many to remain south of the boundary till
at least a portion of om* Pacific road west of Winnipeg
be completed.
At hoon, on Tuesday the 28th, we reached Portage
SSKJ 304
La Prairie, more commonly called " the Portage," the
largest prairie town west of Winnipeg. Situated on
the banks of the Assineboine, with steam communication
by river to Winnipeg, and with a tri-weekly stage, that
will soon give place to several daily railway trains, in the
centre of a magnificent farming district this border town
is rapidly becoming a place of considerable importance.
The road to Winnipeg, about sixty-two miles, traverses
a very level country of the richest soil, nearly all of
which is under cultivation. As we passed, the farmers
were threshing their wheat, and, being unable to use up
their wheat straw, were in many instances burning it,"
simply to put it out of the way. Surely some means
can be devised by which they may utilize their straw as
fuel; if so, it would be a great saving to Manitoba,
farmers, for firewood generally is scarce and dear.
We met train after train of prairie carts, which would
continue to move westward until the winter stopped the
season's traffic. Already the roads were frozen hard,
and, having been much cut up during the autumn, were
now very rough. Following the main road we were frequently within sight of the Assineboine, which, unlike
many of the rivers ofthe North-West, is wooded on'both
sides, most of the streams being wooded chiefly upon the
southern banks, the northern banks being more exposed
to fires from the prairies, driven along" by the prevailing
north-westerly winds. BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
We reached Winnipeg on the 29th of October, just
before the cold weather fell upon us, and found here, as
at every village and shanty that we had passed since
leaving Edmonton, a pulse of life and hope. Every one
appeared to anticipate a bright future for the country,
and an especially bright one for himself. The city,
which was a small hamlet seven years ago, now boasts a
population of about 10,000, and as it is the natural gateway of the North-West it must continue rapidly to
We had crossed the prairies; we had seen the country
in that uncultivated condition in which it is difficult for
any but the experienced farmer to gauge its productive
powers; we had traversed it, for the most part, after the
flush and luxuriance of summer had passed, when the
leafless woods and the withered grass made much of it
appear uninviting, and when a still more desolate
appearance had been given to large tracts by recent
prairie-fires. We had seen it thus with but scant ability
to estimate its resources, and under circumstances by no
means the most favourable, but day after day the impression of its wonderful fertility and of its vast and varied
attractions deepened upon us, while day after day the
vision of its future became more glowing, as we seemed to
hear the tread of advancing settlers and the blended
sounds of coming industries.
We had reached Winnipeg from the west.    How fares
21 306
it with the immigrant approaching it from the east ?
His passage from Liverpool, by way of Quebec, Sarnia,
and Duluth, has taken about fifteen days, and has cost
him from £9 to £28 sterling, according to the accommodation he has chosen by steamer and rail. From
previous information he knows where to settle, and at
once procures his " location " from the Dominion land
agent; or, perhaps, he can afford a little time to look
about him. If he has arrived eai-ly enough in the year,
and has settled on land that yields a good return off the
sod, he may be able to raise a crop his first season. If
not, he must content himself with breaking up his land,
to have it ready for the following spring, and with building his "shanty" and barn, providing himself with
stock, and laying in winter supplies. He has availed
himself of the liberal homestead law, and has pre-empted
an adjoining quarter-section, so that he is now the
possessor of a farm of 320 acres, having brought out his
family, procured his land, and started with sufficient
stock and implements for a new settler, at a total outlay
of less than a single year's rental for a wheat-farm of a
similar size in the mother-country. He will find an
abundant market for all that he can raise, whether it be
stock or cereals. • New settlers will require food and
seed; and the Hudson's Bay Company and the Government will probably be large purchasers, the former for
their widely scattered posts, the latter on behalf of the BATTLEFORD TO WINNIPEG.
Indians. Indeed, there is every prospect that, for
several years, the bulk of the grain raised in the North-
West will be required for local consumption; and by the
time that settlers are ready to export grain, the means of
communication will be so much increased, and the cost
of freight so much reduced, that they will be able to
compete on most favourable terms for the supply of the'
British market. Competent authorities estimate that
within two years, as soon as the railway is completed
from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior, grain
can be taken from Manitoba to Liverpool at a total outside cost of 45 cents per bushel. Wheat is grown in
Manitoba at a cost that does not exceed, if it reaches, 40
cents per bushel; so that it will be grown in Manitoba
and delivered in Liverpool at a cost to the producer,
including all charges for transport, of 85 cents (equal to
3s. 6d. sterling) per bushel, or $6.80 (equal to £1. 8s. 4d.)
per quarter. As the average price of wheat in England
for the thirty years, from 1849 to 1878, was $12.72 per
quarter—the lowest in that period being, in 1851, $9.50
per quarter—a sufficiently broad margin is left for the
Canadian wheat-grower. *
And if such facilities for transport be not sufficient to
secure for our   North-West,  where land  yields from
* These figures are from a pamphlet entitled " Manitoba and the
North-West," issued by C. J. Brydges Esq., Land Commissioner of
the H. B. Company. 308
twenty to sixty bushels of wheat per acre, the chief
supply of the British market, other and shorter lines of
transport may yet be opened. Already a new route is
projected, and a company is being formed to construct a
•railway, about three hundred miles in length, from the
northern extremity of Lake Winnipeg down the valley of
the Nelson Eiver to Port Nelson on Hudson's Bay. This
port is twenty-one miles nearer Liverpool than New
York is. It appears that the valley of the Nelson offers
a practicable route for a railway, although the river is
too broken to be navigable, and the navigation of
Hudson's Bay and Hudson's Straits can be relied on for
at least three months in the year, probably for a longer
period. This would allow tho shipment of a very large
amount of grain from the Canadian North-West and also
from the north-western portions of the United States by
this route. Even if the year's crop could not be shipped
during the same season that it was harvested, yet the
difference in cost of transport would probably make it
worth while to hold much of it over until the following
summer rather than send it by the more expensive
southern routes. But whether the grain of our North-
West reaches the Atlantic by way of the St Lawrence
or by way of Hudson's Straits, it seems almost inevitable
that it must in the course of time become a powerful,
and perhaps a controlling, factor in regulating the wheat
markets of the world. BATTLEFORD TO WDHNLPEG.
While those rich prairies, that must yet be carved into
a cluster of loyal provinces extending from Bed Biver
to the Eocky Mountains, offer homes to men of all
nationalities, they offer special attractions to immigrants
from the mother-country, for there the shield of the
Empire will still be around them, and one scarcely
knows how much he loves the old flag till he sees it float
over some far-away trading-post in that lonely north-land.
There was a time when those coming from Britain to
Canada looked on the national life at home as something
from which they had been severed, while their sorrow at
that separation seemed almost beyond the solace of song.
That time is gone; Canada is now something more than
a Crown Colony; she must be regarded as an integral
part of the Empire. No British statesman would now
say to Canada " Take up your freedom," nor would any
statesman of Canada counsel the Dominion to drift off
into independence. One chief argument for independence has been based on the analogy of the family, and it
has been urged that, as the children cannot always be
gathered under the old roof-tree but should be so
trained by their, parents as in time to become self-
supporting, independent heads of families, so colonies
should be fostered into independent states. But the
analogy does not hold; for, while there is a necessity for
the extension, continuance and independence of families,
since only in this way can the race survive the inroads 310
of death, there is no similar necessity for a continuous
succession of nations. It does not seem requisite for the
world's welfare that the parts of a great empire should,
as theirv strength increases, be lopped off, and be left to
work out a separate life and destiny. We Canadians at
least need recognise for ourselves no such necessity.
We may regret the scant attention that colonial interests
have commonly received at the hands of British
statesmen; we may regard our present relations with
the mother-country as capable of improvement; we may
discuss theories of Imperial Federation that shall admit
us to higher national duties and responsibilities as our
powers increase; but we shall proudly and hopefully
continue to share the life and destiny of the Empire.        


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