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History of the SS. "Beaver", being a graphic and vivid sketch of this noted pioneer steamer and her romantic… McCain, Charles Weslie, 1867-1933 1894

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Being a Graphic and Vivid Sketch of this Noted
Pioneer Steamer and her Romantic Cruise
for over Half a Century on the Placid
Island-Dotted Waters of
the North Pacific.

A Description of the Hudson's Bay Company from its formation
in 1670, down to the present time. Biography of Captain
McNeill. The Narrative of a Fraser River Prospector of
1859. Historical Momentoes of the Beaver's Copper Remains.
The sad ending of the Author's last trip in search of old**
time Naval Relics. Important Developments in Steam since
its introduction in 1769, Etc.


Vancouver, B.C., 1894. EVANS  &   HASTINGS,   PRINTERS,
Entered aecording to Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year
One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety-Four, by Charles W.
McCain, at the office of the Minister of Agriculture, at Ottawa.
/$7 D?(o
, i
FORSEEING the great interest which future generations
must naturally take in any history relative to the
pioneer steamer Beaver, which has played a most conspicuous part in the exploration, settlement and civilization of
the Pacific North-West, and realizing how quickly unrecorded
events drop out of existence, it has been deemed emin,-
ently essential to collect, as far as possible, all the facts
associated with this most interesting steamer, and thereby retain a record of the historic craft.
As a result of persistence and extended effort, I have
succeeded in arranging this concise work, after a careful comparison and research of leading histories and encyclopedias ; a
thorough investigation of dust-covered maps, documents and
manuscripts in the attic of the old peltry storehouse at the
Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters in Victoria, B. C, and
from much valuable information derived through personal
conversation with some of the oldest residents of that capital.
Particularly in this connection am I indebted to Mr.t R. J.
Horton, who, for many years, has been associated with the
great corporation above mentioned, and also to Captain
George Lewis, who came out to the Oregon Territory from
London in 1846 in the H. B. Company's bark "Cowlitz."
These gentlemen, as well as many others, have won my lasting gratitude for the patient manner in which they imparted
to me all the information they possessed regarding my subject
of inquiry, and the great interest which they manifested from
first   to   last  in  the   "Beaver's"   history.     Very  important - 4
knowledge has also been gained through correspondence with
reliable persons familiar with data concerning this steamship,
the most essential, perhaps, being letters from W. H. Darlington, manager for James Watt & Co. of Birmingham, England
(late Boulton & Watt), and also from H. Hozier, secretary
for the Messrs. Lloyds of London, as the result of a careful
investigation of their famous marine records.
With the assistance of all this authentic matter there is
little difficulty experienced in compiling this brief history independent of any statements not of the most reliable source
heretofore published, some of which have been very faulty in
their detail, and probably originated in some imaginative
brain, thereby being very misleading, contradictory, unsatisfactory, and consequently utterly worthless as historical
Although perfectly well aware that this little work does
not possess the classical finish which a learned writer would
have given it, still I hope, and am of the opinion that the statements herein contained harmonize with truth to a degree
which will not only make it valuable to historians, but also
worthy of a place among works of a more voluble nature.
The public will find this book to contain the most authentic
and complete history of the steamer " Beaver " yet published,
and therefore I feel assured that it will be welcomed by many
readers all over the land, especially on account of the large
number of souvenirs of this celebrated old craft that have
reached most, if not all, civilized countries since she met
her fate on the rocks at the picturesque entrance to Burrard
Inlet,  British Columbia.
C. W.  McC.
Vancouver, B. C, July 19, 1894. 5
The Governor and Company of Adventurers of
England, Trading into Hudson's Bay;
— OR THE —
(Incorporated 1670.)
BEFORE proceeding with the romantic career of this
staunch little steamer*, we shall dwell for a short time
on the formation and workings of the great corporation for which the Beaver was constructed. This corporation
was and is yet known as the Hudson's Bay Company. It was
erected in 1670, during the reign of King Charles II., and
consisted principally of the King's cousin, Prince Rupert, and
a few intimate friends. This Company was invested with the
absolute proprietorship, subordinate sovereignty and exclusive
traffic rights of Rupert's Land, which was the name then applied to all the region discovered or undiscovered lying within
the entrance of Hudson Bay. Rupert's Land was at that time
considered one of the most extensive dependencies under
English rule, and was supposed to embrace all the lands
drained by the Hudson Bay and its tributaries. Unmolested
for more than a century, these adventurers carried on an extensive traffic—that of fur-trading being their principal occupation. But civilization, already working west along the St.
Lawrence River and Great Lakes, as might be expected,
brought with it opposition. In 1783 a number of keen business men, who could not fail to see the enormous profits
derived by the H. B. Company, organized the Northwest
Company of Montreal. This company carried on the same
traffic as the former, to which it became a formidable opponent, thus creating stubborn competition which lasted until
1821, when by terms of agreement the two companies consolidated.
During this long period of rivalry these companies struggled with untiring zeal to supersede each other in securing 'd
territory, in fathoming the mysteries of an unknown country,
and in establishing their posts in the best fur-producing
regions. Their explorations were directed first in a northwesterly direction toward the Arctic Ocean, which they soon
reached by way of the. Coppermine and Mackenzie River
basins, thence southwest toward the Pacific.
At regular intervals along the streams and lakes throughout the North-West Territory, these companies erected their
forts or trading posts, in which were kept a supply of provisions, also guns and ammunition. To these forts came the
red man of the plains, bringing with him valuable packs of
furs, which he gladly exchanged" for muskets, blankets, beads,
tobacccCand trinkets of various sorts.
But these great corporations, which might well be termed
at that time the sovereigns of the western world, were not
content or destined to remain long within the limits of the
p Indian Territory." Nor were they discouraged by encountering so formidable *a barrier as the Rocky Mountains. Penetrating these through Nature's gateways, they descended the
Pacific Slope, carefully defining their course by planting forts,
each of which was left in charge of a Chief Trader, with
several servants, the same as through the Territories, until
they finally reached the Pacific Coast early in the present
Simon, Fraser, a hardy Scotchman who joined his fortunes
to the Northwest Company about the year 1792, appears to
have been the first white man to cross the Canadian Rockies
in charge of an expedition. He discovered the river that still
bears his name, and which he followed down to the Pacific
Coast in 1806-7. Several years previous to this, however,
Alexander Mackenzie had reached the coast by an overland
As soon as the seaboard was gained, work was prosecuted
with more systematic, energy. Fortifications were erected
along the water front, as well as in the interior, and the
foundation laid for the carrying on of an immense fur traffic
with the aborigines.
It seems almost incredible, but nevertheless true, that
provisions for stations in the Oregon Territory*—which name
in those days applied to all the region lying north of California
and west of the Ro©feies—were carried all the way from Mont- real, a distance of nearly 4,000 miles, over -the same trail by
which the fur companies first reached the Pacific. But this
mode of transportation was too costly to last long, consequently in a short time the supplies for the fur stations west of
the Rockies were brought in sailing ships direct from England
around Cape Horn, while those to the east of the mountains
were supplied from the original source.
A trade language, calfed the "Chinook jargon," was
speedily introduced among the natives. This language was a
mixture of Chinook, French-Canadian, English and Spanish
words, was quite simple and easily learned by both natives
and Europeans, and had the effect of greatty facilitating communication between the two distinct races.
It took some years to establish a foothold in these western
wilds, and as few incidents worthy of note transpired, we will
come to that period, 1821, when the two companies consolidated, hereafter to be known as the " Hudson's Bay Company." Opposition being thus overcome, the Company concentrated its efforts in the establishment of fur posts in localities
best calculated to suit its purpose.
Fort Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, was
then one of the oldest and the chief station on the North
Pacific Coast, having been erected by J. J. Astor in the year
1811. John Jacob Astor was born in Germany in 1763. At
the age of twenty he came to America, and shortly afterwards
founded the "American Fur Company." By industry and
economy he so increased his means that in a few years he succeeded in fitting out two expeditions to the Oregon Territory,
and it is very probable that here was laid the corner-stone of
the famous Astor fortunes. (See Washington Irving's
" Astoria."
John McLoughlin, Chief Factor and sole ruler of the
Northwest Coast, arrived at this post in 1824, having crossed
the mountains in charge of a small party of fur-traders, conspicuous among which was a lad named James Douglas,
destined twenty-seven years later to become the Governor of
England's most western colony. One of McLoughlin's first acts
on reaching the Coast was to move the headquarters of the
Company from Astoria to Fort Vancouver, some distance up
the Columbia, and in the vicinity of the now flourishing city
of Portland. — 8
The Company had by this time realized that the day must
come sooner or later when the great republic to the south
would ask for a dividing line between its possessions and those
of the Hudson's Bay Company. Might not the Columbia be
agreed upon as the national boundary ? Yes ; everything considered, it appeared more than likely that such would be the
case, at least so it seemed to the magnates of the Company.
Should this eventually be the case, the new headquarters
would still be in their own domain, as Fort Vancouver was
situated on the north bank of the river, while Fort Astoria
was on_the south, consequently, in the face of this, the move
was deemed advisable. Another advantage would be that
ocean boats could ascend the Columbia writh their cargoes as
far as Fort Vancouver, and thereby lessen the distance of
transportation to the Company's inland posts.
Besides these advantages, the new headquarters would
not, as formerly, be so easily attacked by pirates, which was
also a consideration, as these North Pacific waters were by
this time often frequented by sailing craft of various nations
under command of lawless crews, in search of plunder.
The line of communication between Montreal, Hudson
Bay and the Arctic Ocean, with its tributaries connecting with
the rivers and lakes to the Pacific, was now quite complete.
In selecting this transportation highway the Company chose
the most convenient streams having the greatest amount of
navigable waters, and in doing so were often obliged to go
considerably out of the direct route, but even this was preferable to land travel. Still in some localities long portages
were unavoidable, and on some of these the servants of the
Company were obliged to carry on their backs heavy packs for
miles at a stretch, while cayuses—wild horses—were employed
on the others. Twice every year over all these lines of transportation passed regular bands, or supply trains, carrying provisions and fort supplies to the most distant posts, then
returning to headquarters laden with rich packs of furs which
had been collected at the various subordinate stations along
the route. It must have been a welcome sight to the little
band of whites in charge of those lonely forts, hundreds of
miles from civilization, to see the brigades advancing, winding
their way around perpendicular rocks, through deep canyons,
up rugged trails, bringing to them the necessaries of life and
news from their homes across the sea. Sir George Simpson was Governor of the Hudson's Bay
Company's affairs at this time, and consequently was at the
head of all this great commercial enterprise in America. He
had no fixed residence, and most of his time was occupied in
travelling from one station to another. Part of his time was
spent in Lower Canada, part at Red River and Athabasca,
and the balance in Oregon, the Hawaiian Islands agency and
Whenever any changes of importance in the business
affairs of the Company were considered advisable, the matter
would be communicated by a Chief Trader—who was the one
in charge of a Fort—to Governor Simpson, who in turn would
bring it before the London management. The system employed in governing the workings of this great corporation
was most complete, in fact we might venture still further and
call it wonderful. Flere was a territory, nearly equal in area
to all Europe, being controlled by a company of adventurers,
who went where they pleased, erected forts and established
trade with some of the most daring a>nd bloodthirsty Indians
on the North American continent. Here was small picket
enclosures, far removed from civilization, guarded by a dozen
men in the midst of savage tribes that outnumbered them one
hundred to one. Yet so perfect was the whole affair managed,
everything considered, that history records but few incidents
of bloodshed on either side.
As a general rule the fur-traders were honorable men, and
when they made a promise to an Indian they usually kept it,
even if it was to give a plug of tobacco in exchange for a bear
skin. But what did the red man care, so long as the pale-face
did as he agreed ? The fur was of little or no use to him,
while the tobacco would make him happy during the long
winter nights.
We have many incidents of hostilities between the different tribes of these western wilds, terminating in horrible
butchery ; but even in .the midst of these the Indians usually
remained on friendly terms with the officers and servants of
the Hudson's Bay Company, Perhaps an illustration of a
little incident that happened at Beaver Harbor, in the fall of
1849, W1^ best serve to give the reader an insight into the
heartless character of these savages, and the dangers to which
the fur-traders were constantly exposed.
Beaver  Harbor,  situated  at   the   northern   extremity of f
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Vancouver Island, having been decided upon as a suitable
location for a fur post, the steamer Beaver, with William
McNeill as captain and George Blenkinsop as mate, was sent
thither, accompanied by about forty men, to erect a stockade,
together with the usual buildings characteristic of a fur-trader's
habitation. While this work was being vigorously prosecuted,
there arrived at Fort Rupert—which was the name assigned
the new establishment—a Scotchman by the name of Muir,
together with his wife and family.
Only a couple of days after the arrival of the Muirs, and
while yet these new-comers were seriously wondering how they
liked the "woolly west," there appeared in the harbor some
fifteen war canoes filled with unusually happy savaged, direct
from the battlefield of a conquered native tribe. Effecting a
landing, these barbarians at once planted a row of pickets,
corresponding with the number of boats, and on the top of
each of these was placed a human head, taken from the different canoes. Having learned that a white woman had landed
on their shores, they invited Mrs. Muir to this ghastly
spectacle and implored her to accept any two of these bloody
trophies. Although this was regarded by them as a mark of
high esteem, it must have left a very forcible impression upon
the mind of the European lady thus introduced into savagism.
It was just about this time that white women first made their
appearance in these western solitudes, and as a sequel to this
the old fashion of aboriginal wife-taking, which through lack
of choice had long prevailed among the fur-traders, was to a
great measure abolished.
A fur-trader's fort consisted of a small piece of ground
enclosed by a palisade about fifteen feet in height. These
poles were from eight to twelve inches in diameter, and were
driven into the ground close together. In the interior, some
distance from the base, was generally fixed a platform or gallery, and above this was a row of port-holes, which were used
to fire muskets from in case of an attack. On one or more
corners of this wooden wall was a tower of hewn logs, in
which was mounted several pieces of ordnance, usually-nine-
pounders. Within the palisade were the buildings, which consisted of the postoffice and store, a carpenter and blacksmith
shop, a storehouse for stowing combustibles in, besides three
or four small buildings used as dwellings by the. officers and
their attendants.      The entrance to the fort  consisted  of a — II —
small opening through the pickets, which was usually closed
after certain hours by means of a door from the inside. Al-
though these forts differed considerably in magnitude, according to the importance of their station, there "Was little difference
employed in their general construction.
According to " Forster's History of Voyages," the first of
these posts was called Fort Charles, and was built for the
English by Captain Gillam, in 1668, at the mouth of Rupert
River on Hudson Bay. This was the commencement of a
vast series of fur stations or forts, which rapidly spread from
the Atlantic to the Pacific over the whole upper portion of
North America, which vast tract of country now comprises the
Dominion of Canada ; also a number of the northern states.
And on the site of many of these fur posts now stand large
commercial cities and towns. As for instance, Pittsburgh,
Penn., is built on the site of old Fort Pitt; Detroit, Mich.,
on the site of old Fort Detroit; Chicago, 111., majestically towers
above the mouldering ruins of the old fur post of Fort Dearborn ;' Winnipeg, Man. (originally Fort Garry), was for years
the prairie haunt of many a roving redskin, over whose sombre
cyclopean features played a broad smile as he stacked with
pride his assorted furs, for barter, alongside the cold, fish-rodlike barrel of an old-time flint-lock. Of course, these musket
barrels were very expensive, probably cost twelve shillings a
yard, but then the honest fur-traders didn't begrudge the poor
Indian a few extra feet of steel tubing, especially when he so
willingly gave up the same number of feet in furs, which were
only worth in London not more than twenty times the amount
which the shrewd Indian had succeeded in disposing of them
for to the unsuspecting white man. This, however, is more
in accord with public opinion than with the Company's regular method of trade. Besides these flourishing trade centres,
there are various' others similaily situated, but which, through
lack of space, we prefer not to mention in these pages.
After the coalition of the Hudson's Bay Company and the
Northwest Company in 1821, parliament, in view of the fact
that the Company's territorial rights were without limit—
according to the original charter granted by Charles II.—empowered the crown to issue a new license. By this Act the
Hudson's Bay Company acquired absolute control of the
" Indian Territories," which lands were expressly declared to
be all that region  of British North America to the west of 12
Rupert's Land. But instead of this new license being perpetual,
as had the charter, it was Only issued for short periods of 21
years each. This gave the British crown the privilege of
allowing the license to expire without renewal, providing the
home government deemed it advisable at any time to throw
the country open to settlement.
Shortly after the renewal of the first license, the region
to the south of the Indian territory, through the liberal policy
of the United Stlates government toward settlers, became the
abode of many soil-tillers, and as there was no boundary
existing, these settlers very naturally crowded northward into
the Hudson's Bay Company's possessions. These encroachments on the part of home-seekers called for a dividing line,
which was finally settled by the "Oregon Treaty" of June
15th, 1846, which treaty established the 49th parallel as the
national partition between the United States and the British
American domains. The result of this was that the fur company was obliged to abandon its fur stations to the south of
this line and to confine operations within its now well-defined but still vast tract of country.
It now became apparent to the Hudson's Bay Company
that it would soon be impossible to keep settlers out of this
fertile region, and that its far-reaching game preserve was
doomed. But in order to stave off the evil day as long as
possible, the managers of the Company made a proposition to
the British government to the effect that they were willing to
undertake the colonization of Vancouver Island, providing
parliament would invest them with the necessary power.
Accordingly, on January 13th, 1849, tne Crown granted
the said Island to the Hudson's Bay Company for the purpose
of settlement at a yearly rental of seven shillings, reserving
the right to recall the grant at the end of five years, or at the
end of ten years to buy it back, providing no colony had been
But as civilization is directly opposed and, consequently,
very destructive to the fur traffic, it is not surprising that during the ten years which followed, this great monopoly did not
use its utmost efforts in colonizing, for well it knew that sooner
or later it only meant the complete overthrow' of its own
profitable vocation. Consequently, parliament, now fully
satisfied that the colonization scheme in the hands of fur-
traders was a failure, purchased the Island from the Company — 13 —
at the expiration or the ten years' term, and at the same time
allowed the Company's license of exclusive right to trade with
the Indians to expire without renewal.
Small settlements, which seemed impossible to prevent,
were now rapidly springing up in different parts of its territory,
so rather than have trouble, the Hudson's Bay Company, in
1869, disposed of all its territorial claims to the British government, receiving £300,000 as indemnity, but reserving at
the same time all its forts, with ten acres of land around each,
besides numerous other small tracts.
The Hudson's Bay Company, although still in good
working order, is no longer the great monopoly that reigned
for two hundred years prior to July 1st, 1871, when the east
and the west joined hands, as it were, in the celebration of
their first union  "Dominion Day."
The fur business has not only rapidly decreased during
late years, but has also fallen largely into other hands, so that
the Hudson's Bay Company of to-day maintains but a few
forts, and depends more for profits on the sale of real estate
and general merchandise to Europeans than exclusively on
the fur trade with the aborigines, as in days past.
[P. S.—For more extended information we beg to refer
the reader to the following volumes : Fitzgerald's " Examination of the Charter and Proceedings of the Hudson's Bay
Company ;" Montgomery Martin's " Hudson's Bay Company's
Territories and Vancouver's Island ;" also Hubert H. Bancroft's " History of British Columbia," " History of Oregon,"
and " History of the Northwest Coast" contain much interesting descriptive matter relating to the Company's operations
on the Pacific Coast.]   k 15
ONE OF THE greatest events that transpired during
the career and reign of King William IV., and one
which marked the beginning of a new era in commercial enterprises, was the introduction of the steam engine.
With this, the same as with other great mechanical discoveries,
all manner of obstacles tending to place a damper on the
scheme were at once introduced by prejudiced persons, with
the result that for nearly half a century this most important of
all inventions made but little headway.. Still, in the very
nature of things, a motive power which was destined to
revolutionize the commerce of the world could not long remain undeveloped. And perhaps the most important period,
and the one. which will ever stand out in bold relief as having
accomplished the most essential achievements in furthering
steam power, is the fourth decade of the present century. It
was during this period that the shrill whistle of the "iron
horse " first awoke the echoes of the American forest, and during this period that long wasting lines arched the Atlantic,
connecting, as it were, the Old and the New World, as thick,
sooty clouds of smoke belched from the funnels of the first
transatlantic steamships. In those days freight steamers were
called " steam packets," and their build and equipment varied
so essentially from the system now generally employed, that
in the present advanced stage of naval architecture these old-
time packets would be considered a great curiosity.
It was an interesting day among shipbuilders, and the
English people generally, when the keel of their first transatlantic steamship was laid upon the slipway at Blackwall, a
suburban town of London. The Hudson's Bay Company, for
which this steam-packet was built, evidently intended from the
start that their craft should be "Al" in every respect, and
that only the best materials that money could procure should
be used in her construction. That they succeeded in producing such a craft is best instanced by the fact that for fifty-three n "v
.   - 16 -
years this staunch little steamer remained in actual service.
She was built by Messrs. Green, Nigrams & Greens, as appears
by a certificate under their own hand, dated May 7th, 1835.
The exact cost of her construction we have been unable to
ascertain, but judging from the class of material used, it must
have been something enormous for a craft of her dimensions.
The elm keel was of unusual size and strength, as was also
the British oak stem and stern-post. Along the keel were
placed the frames, or ribs, at about 2 feet centres. These
were of the best oak and greenheart, carefully dressed and of
large proportions. The spaces between the frames were filled
in solid? to a level above the water line, with curved timbers
of the same material and thickness. The outside planking
was of oak and African teak, especially thick at the wales,
and was securely fastened to the frames with copper bolts and
oak treenails. This was covered with a thick layer of tarred
paper, over which was placed a planking of fir, securely held
in position with spikes of a bronze composition. Then to preserve the woodwork from the ravages of the destructive teredo,
and also from the attacks of barnacles, a sheathing of copper
was tack-fastened all over the exterior of the hull, with the
exception of a narrow strip just below the gunwale. The inside
lining of the frame consisted also of oak and teak planking,
across which on either side ran diagonally heavy iron straps,
which were fastened to the frames with rivetted copper bolts.
The main keelson was a massive stick of greenheart, 12
inches square, extending the entire length of the keel, to
which it was securely bolted with stout copper bolts, which
passed entirely through both timbers. Parallel to this, on
either side, were the sister keelsons, of the same material, only
not quite so heavy ; these were also bolted in a substantial
manner on the floor planks, and through into the floor timbers.
Across the keelsons were fastened large greenheart timbers,
which formed the bed for the engines as wel^as the foundation
for the furnaces. The deck was supported by a series of stout
beams, mostly of greenheart, the remainder being African oak,
or, as it is more commonly called, African teak. These were
placed at frequent intervals across the hull, to which they
were fastened, their supports being oak knees and massive
angle irons. In addition to these were two oak beams, about
10 inches by 14, which crossed at the points where the two
spars penetrated the deck. — 17 —
Copper was usually employed for all fastenings, and where
this was the case we found, on working about the wreck, that
the wood around the bolts was almost as sound as the day the
bolts had been driven nearly sixty years previous. But where
iron had been used the wood about the bolts was badly decayed, and even the bolts themselves, in some cases an inch
in diameter, had almost entirely, been eaten away by the rust.
At the time this steamer was constructed, the Hudson's
Bay Company was in the prime of its existence, and being a
great power its movements were consequently watched with
nearly the same eagerness as national undertakings. Thus the
interest manifest at the laying of the vessel's keel rapidly increased as the work of construction advanced, until all London
was astir as the day dawned on which the little adventurer
should be entrusted to the care of the briny deep. Thousands
were focussed to the scene at the Blackwall shipyards, where
soon mingled a motley throng, in which aristocracy and
peasantry combined to witness an event long to be remembered in the history of marine navigation.
According to accounts published in several newspapers,
it appears that King William IV. then on the throne, together with several members of the Royal family, attended the
launching, while a lady, bearing the title of " Duchess," performed the christening ceremony. But there must have been
another christening going on behind some of the piles of timber about that same time, or else the reporter got too near
the bottle, and thereby had his sight affected by the fumes
from the vintage as it broke over the little vessel's prow, for
he goes on to say that 160,000 of the king's loyal subjects
graced the occasion. This seems to me like too many people,
and I am of the opinion that this portion of these accounts is
very much exaggerated.
As the little craft which had attracted so much attention
plunged into the mighty Thames, her banners were unfurled
to. the breeze, when through that vast assemblage echoed the
appropriate and long to be remembered name Beaver.
Next in order came the placing of the boiler ai?d machinery, which had been ordered about a year previous from the
old reliable establishment of Boulton & Watt, which firm was
the first that ever manufactured steam engines.
Mathew Boulton, the senior member of this firm, at the
death of his father,  undertook the business of a large steel — i8 —
manufactory, which his father had established at Birmingham,
Eng. This he greatly extended by the purchase, in 1762, of
a tract of land at Soho, situated a short distance beyond the
city, and to this he moved his entire plant, which at this writing is still in operation as one of the largest of its kind in the
country. In 1774 he formed a partnership with James Watt,
who by this time was fast coming to the front as the inventor
of the steam engine. To Boulton & Watt the world will ever
be indebted for numerous important inventions, the most
essential being improvements in steam engines, coining machinery and inlaying steel. The celebrated Watt gave up his
interest Th the extensive business to his two sons, and died a
few years afterward at Heathfield in his 84th year.
The Beaver's engines, when packed at the works for
shipment to London, weighed 63^2 tons. This included the
boiler and also the gearing for the paddle-wheels, the cost being £4,500 sterling (over $22,000), or nearly ten times the
weight and cost of engines of like power at the present day.
These engines, of which there were two of the same
design, were termed 35 nominal horse-power each, and were
of the side-lever type, which, in the earliest experiments of
steam marine navigation, was the style universally favored ;
but this has long since become obsolete.
The cylinders stood vertical and had a diameter of 42
inches, with a 36-inch stroke. The piston-rod projected
through the top of the cylinder to the centre of a sliding cross-
head, at the ends of which linked rods ran down on either
side of the cylinder to a pair of horizontal beams, or levers,
which oscillated on a fixed gudgeon at the middle of their
length. The opposite ends of these beams wrere joined by
means of a crosstail, from which connecting rods led up to the
crank shaft above. This shaft, six inches in diameter, was in
three sections, and was thus supplied with four cranks, each
of which was 18 inches in length. At each extremity of the
outer portions of this shaft was a paddle-wheel 13 feet in
diameter, made up of 11 radial arms 5 feet in width.
The low-pressure boiler, which rested on brick furnaces,
and from which steam was carried through large copper tubes
to the steam chests, was situated about midship, but still some
distance aft of the engines. This arrangement crowded the
paddle-wheels far forward, like the fins of a seal, thus giving
the little steamer a very unique appearance. — 19 —
As soon as the machinery was in position a trial trip was
made, when, according to Lloyd's records, the Beaver attained a speed of 9^ miles per hour, which must have been
exceedingly gratifying to her builders as well as to her owners,
for in those days this would be considered a very good rate of
During the time this steamer was under construction, the
Hudson's Bay Company was also having a bark built which
should accompany the Beaver across the seas to her destination. This bark was called the Columbia, and was of 310
tons burden, carried 6 pieces of artillery and 24 men.
The Beaver's dimensions we're : Length over all, ioij^
feet ; breadth, inside of paddle-boxes, 20 feet ; outside, 33
feet; depth, ii/^ feet; her register was 109^ tons burden;
she was armed with 5 guns—nine-pounders—and carried a
crew of 26 men.
Built and equipped at a period when the problem of steam
marine navigation was about to be solved, is it any wonder
that the little steamer, which was destined to traverse two
oceans—one of them scarcely known outside of books of travel
—should be an object of deep and engrossing interest from the
day that her keel was first laid until she passed out of sight on
her long voyage to the North Pacific sea?
It was on the 29th day of August, 1835, that the Beaver,
amid the encouraging cheers trom a throng of well-wishers,
the waving of banners and the boom of artillery, glided down
the Thames into the English Channel, and thence out into the
open trackless sea. Thus from the shores of Old England
passed forever a steamer which in after years should become
famous in the annals of the West.
The Beaver and her escort, the Columbia, proceeded
by way of Cape Horn, and after a very successful and rapid
run of fifteen weeks, put into Juan Fernandez on December
17th,   1835.
Juan Fernandez, or "Robinson Crusoe's Island," as it is
often termed, lies in the Southern Pacific, about 400 miles due
west of Valparaiso, the chief commercial city of Chili. This
island—mostly rocky—is about 18 miles in length, by 6 miles
in breadth, and is inhabited at the present time by a few
Chilians. It was here that Alexander Selkirk, a buccaneer,
whose native place was the Scotch fishing village of Largs,
lived in solitude between the years 1704 and  1708.    And it 20  —
was the story told of his experience on this island that is supposed to have originated the famous "Robinson Crusoe" of
De Foe.
I regret to state that we are unable to furnish more extended reminiscences of the Beaver's initial trip, owing to our
unsuccessful efforts to locate the log-book of this voyage.
This log-book, from which I hoped to glean much information of interest relative to this passage, appears to have
disappeared under very mysterious circumstances, the incidents
associated therewith, as related to me by an old pioneer settler, being quite romantic, but through his request I am
obliged To keep the matter a secret.
On account of this serious loss of valuable records, I am
unable to state what portion of this passage was made under
steam, or whether any of it was or not after the Beaver got
fairly at sea, as statements regarding this are too diverse to be
relied upon. Owing to the uncertainty felt in those days
regarding steam power, especially for so great a passage, the
Beaver was supplied with considerable canvas, and was therefore not entirely at the mercy of her engines. Nevertheless,
it is quite possible that she might have been under steam a
considerable portion of the way, and even possible that a
quantity of her fuel was carried in the Columbia, which ship
is registered as having accompanied her the entire passage.
Still I feel justified in saying that the Beaver did not
steam the entire distance owing to the evidence, and also to
recorded statements made by Dr. Lardner—an authority on
marine matters—shortly after the Great Western crossed the
Atlantic in 1838, and to which steamer he refers, places the
longest continuous steam passage up to that date at about
2,000 miles.    (See "Encyclopedia Britannica," p. 815.)
Nearly four months pass by, during which time the movements of the Beaver and her convoy are to us entirely unknown, as they traverse the great Southern seas, cruise under
the burning suns of the equator, and then speed onward
through the peaceful waters of the North Pacific to their far
distant haven.
It was not until April 4th, 1836, that the Beaver, together with her faithful companion, the Columbia (Capt.
Darby), arrived at the old historical fort of Astoria, at the
mouth of the Columbia river in Oregon. From thence the
Beaver proceeded some 115 miles up the great stream to Fort — 21  —
Vancouver, then the Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters
on the North Pacific coast. Here a warm reception greeted
her jolly crew by John McLoughlin, governor of Northwest
Coast affairs; Chief Factor D. Finlayson, James Douglas,
John Dunn and several others, who composed the little band
of whites then inhabiting these lonely regions. And as the
lordly savages gazed in wild bewilderment upon the "fire-spitting demon of the deep," cannons roared, congratulations
went their rounds, and festivities became the order of the day.
Capt. David Home was first officer in command of the
Beaver, and one can well imagine the feeling of pride with
which he bestrode the deck of his brave little steamer which
had so successfully made the perilous voyage around Cape
Horn, and thus attained the proud distinction of being the
first steamer to cross the Atlantic to America, the first to
round Cape Horn, and the first to ripple the waters of the
broad Pacific.
No doubt, many persons not familiar with the true facts
relating to early steam navigation, will be surprised to learn
this, for I must confess that I was. Nevertheless, it seems to
be founded on the best of authority, and after a careful research
of marine records, it has been shown that the Beaver is justly
entitled to the honor set forth in this claim.
Soon after the little black steamer arrived at Fort Vancouver, Capt. W. H. McNeill took command, while Capt.
Home retired to one of the Company's posts, and subsequently
perished in 1837 by the upsetting of a small boat while crossing the Columbia river, some say, at "Death Rapids," while
others state that the accident happened at Baker's Bay.
In those days Oregon included all the country north of
California, all the region drained by the twin rivers of the
West, and was, says Bancroft, the historian, "a mystic land,
a region of weird imagery and fable, without, in 1832, a single
United States settler in all the territory."
But now that a steamer had arrived, swift flowing rivers,
circuitous inlets, and intricate bays were to be navigated for
the first time by a craft other than the native " dug-out," and
consequently lhis vast and fertile region of the Pacific Northwest could not long be expected to remain uncivilized.
The principal northern settlement, or fur station, at this
time was Fort Simpson, while next in importance came Fort
McLoughlin, on Milbank Sound, and later Fort Tako, on the — 22  —
Tako river.    Besides these, there Were several others of minor
Still, the duties of the Beaver were not confined alone to
waiting on the Hudson's Bay Company's fur posts, for we
have abundant proof that during her early history she made
frequent trips to Sitka, Alaska.
Probably one of the most important events in the career
of this historic steamer, and one for which she will long be
remembered, was the part she bore in the first discovery of
the now famous coal-fields of Vancouver Island.
It^appears that just previous to the Beaver's arrival on
the Columbia river, a party of Indians, from the north end of
Vancouver Island, strolled into the blacksmith^ shop inside the
stockade at Fort McLoughlin.
In a very short time these savages became curiously interested in the movements of the smith, and finally their curiosity
led them to asking questions.
"What is that?" they queried, as the smith shoveled
fresh coals on the glowing fire.
"Stuff to make the fire burn," replied the man at the
"What do you call it?"
" Coal," was the answer.
"How is it made?"
"It is dug out of the ground."
"Where do you get it ?"
After the smith had answered this last question by telling
them that it was brought in ships many miles across the great
water, he left his work and called in W. F. Tolmie, together
with several other officers of the Fort. And to these gentlemen the redskins explained that in many places in their
country there was plenty of this same kind of stone.
Word was shortly afterward sent to Fort Vancouver, with
the result that about the month of July, 1836, Chief Factor
John McLoughlin issued orders for the Beaver to proceed to
the north end of Vancouver Island and ascertain if coal did
actually exist in this western region, as reported by the
As Mr. John Dunn was one of the party sent thither, I
will permit him to make his own report.    "Mr. Finlayson, — 23 —
with a part of the crew, went on shore, leaving me in the ship
to conduct the trade, and after some inquiries and a small
distribution of rewards, found from the natives that the
original account given at Fort McLoughlin was true. The
coal turned out to be of excellent quality, running in extensive
fields, and even in clumpy mounds, and most easily worked
all along that part of the country."
In honor of her captain, the small bay where the steamer,
first cast anchor was called McNeill Harbor,-but later Beaver
Harbor, after the little craft herself. (See Dunn's " History
of the Oregon Territory," published in London 1844 ; also
Bancroft's "History of British Columbia.")
Thus was the bituminous coal-fields of the North Pacific
coast made known to the world, and their worth first tested
in the Beaver's furnace. Indeed, there was no other use for
coal in these western confines at this time, except a small
quantity which the Hudson's Bay Company required for use
in the blacksmith shops at its various forts, arid even then it
was only partially used for fuel in the little steamer, as will be
seen by the following quoted paragraph from an entry made
by Mr. Dunn during the steamer's first voyage to Fort Simpson
in 1836. "At Fort McLoughlin we took on board about
twenty-six cords of wood for fuel, which was ready cut for us.
This generally lasted us when running on between three and
four days."
It would appear that the Fludson's Bay Company about
this time were anxious to establish a saw and grist mill in some
convenient locality on the North Pacific coast, and in consequence of this, we find the Beaver engaged during the following year in the very important work of discovery. Says the
Fort Simpson Journal, under date August 10th, 1837 : "On
his way to the southward, Capt. McNeill explored the south
end of Vancouver Island and found an excellent harbor and a
fine open country along the sea-shore, apparently well adapted
for both tillage and pasturage, but saw no river sufficiently
extensive for mills."
This clearly shows that the harbor of Esquimalt—now the
famous naval station where floats the formidable war-ships of
Her Majesty's North Pacific squadron—was first entered by
the Beaver fifty-seven years ago, as was also, at the same
time, Camosun Bay, now Victoria Harbor. — 24 —
As much of the information contained herein has been
gathered from Fort journals, it might be well to state that at
each of the Company's forts a journal was kept, after the
fashion of a minute-book, and from day to day any happenings
worthy of note were recorded. They thus furnish history
which can be relied upon as quite correct.
In May, 1840, James Douglas proceeded in the steamer
Beaver to Sitka, Alaska, where he counseled with Etholin, the
Russian governor, with the result that the Hudson's Bay
Company acquired the right to occupy certain southern portions of Alaska in exchange for cattle and provisions.
During this same voyage the Tako and Stakeen rivers
were explored and Fort Tako erected on the bank of the former, while Fort Stakeen, started some five years previous, was
completed by the assistance of the Beaver's crew.
It was also during this year that Fort Langley, on the
Fraser, was totally destroyed by fire, but at once rebuilt by
men landed from the little steamer.
Sir George Simpson, in his "Narrative of a Journey
Around the World During the Years 1841-2," speaks of a
cruise in the Beaver through the labyrinth of still,.sparkling
waters between Fort Nisqually, on Puget Sound, and Sitka,
Alaska, at which latter place he and James Douglas spent a
most enjoyable time—toward the end of September, 1841—
with Etholin, the governor, who visited the little vessel in full
uniform, and was loyally welcomed by a grand- salute from
the Beaver's guns.
The next important event in the career of this renowned
craft was the founding of Camosun, or Fort Victoria.
About the first of March, 1843, an expedition, consisting
of some^ fifteen men, left Fort Vancouver and crossed the
Cowlitz country to Fort Nisqually, situated at the head of
Puget Sound, near where now stands the city of Olympia.
It was not until the ninth of the month that they succeeded in reaching this place of embarkment, but as they found
the Beaver here awaiting them, it was not long before all
their utensils and provisions were carefully stowed on board.
Soon all arrangements for the voyage were complete, and
after a prolonged scream, the natives' sea phantom swung off
from her moorings and pointed her nose for the north. Away
she went, steadily buffeting her way through the merry ripple of Puget Sound and Admiralty Inlet, then across the more
turbulent waters of Juan de Fuca Strait, until about 4 o'clock
in the afternoon of March 14th, when, with a splash, an iron
claw sank into the sea ; this was followed by the rattle of
chains, then all was still, for the little steamer was gently riding at cable's length on the calm, peaceful bosom of Camosun
At the head of this enterprise was James Douglas ; still
John McLoughlin, Captain McNeill and several others are also
entitled to due recognition in the establishment of this most
important of all posts.
The expedition had been sent thither for the purpose of
erecting, on the south end of Vancouver Island, a substantial
fort, suitable for' the Company's headquarters, as the abandonment of Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia, had been determined.
At the discharge of a cannon from the deck of the Beaver,
savages in almost countless numbers swarmed upon the banks.
But as no serious encounter followed, it is quite evident that
these barbarous natives made up their minds then and there
to give these strange, bleached men and their thundering
water machine all the room they required without argument.
Next morning the little force of fort-builders was landed
opposite the Indian village of Camosun, and operations at
once commenced on the stockade, bastions and dwelling-
houses, which continued for several months. Meanwhile the
Beaver had been dispatched to the northern posts, calling at
Stakeen, Forts Tako and McLoughlin, from whence she
brought a number of men to assist the force at Camosun.
Subsequently, late in the season, Douglas.departed with
the Beaver to Fort Nisqually for a cargo of cattle, to be forwarded to the new establishment, in charge"of which, during
his absence, he had placed Mr. Charles Ross.
It is hardly likely that these fur-traders realized at that
time that they were laying the foundation of a new colonial
But such they were ; for on the site of old Fort Camosun
now stands the flourishing capital city of Victoria, and where,
just fifty years ago, there toiled in the midst of savage tribes a
few fort-builders, now may be seen the enlightened sons of
civilization busily engaged in the erection of Provincial Parliament buildings at the cost of nearly a million dollars. For several years after this event the Beaver was kept
constantly on the move, as the fur-stations had now become
quite numerous, besides extending over a vast territory. The
provisions and supplies for these stations were brought in ships
direct from England, around Cape Horn, to the Company's
Pacific headquarters, at first Fort Astoria, then Fort Vancouver, and later Fort Victoria. These cargoes consisted of
general provisions, clothing, muskets, ammunition, tobacco,
knives, beads and trinkets of various devices for trade with
the natives.
It then devolved upon the Beaver and the little schooner
Cadboro-to distribute these at the various stations along the
coast, and at the same time collect the furs accumulated at
these posts and carry them back to headquarters. From thence
these furs would be taken in the Company's sailing ships to
Where there were no forts erected, the Beaver would
steam up to the Indian villages and lay at anchor, while the
natives would paddle out with canoe-loads of valuable furs to
exchange for such notions as suited their peculiar fancy. And
thus it was that the Beaver was usually engaged during the
time that intervenes between the more important events,
which alone is all that is really necessary to mention in this
No man-of-war ever maintained stricter discipline along
the coast of civilization, much less of savagedom, than did this
little black steamer, which, manned by an ever-w atchful crew,
was never taken by surprise, as she plied her paddles through
the glistening wraters of cold, placid sea from the Columbia
river, around Vancouver Island, and far up to the northward,
watching,  distributing, gathering.
In 1849, just three years after the 49th parallel of latitude
had been established as the national boundary between the
United States and the Hudson's Bay Company's domains, the
Beaver was engaged in the removal of effects from Fort Vancouver to Fort Victoria, which henceforth became the Company's Pacific headquarters, and consequently the home port
of the steamer herself.
About the 1st of May, 1850, the little craft carried J. W.
McKay, together with a party of prospectors, from Fort Victoria to the native hamlet of Nanaimo. It seems that Mr.
McKay, while engaged in the Company's service at the for- mer place the previous autumn, was shown samples of coal by
a Nanaimo Indian, and hence the present expedition, which
had the good fortune to find coal in abundance, and thus to
discover the celebrated coal mines of Nanaimo.
It was the steamer Beaver that conveyed Governor
Douglas to Nanaimo, then only an Indian village, in January,
1853, when, after considerable parley, in which bloodshed
was narrowly averted, two Indians were surrendered by their
tribe for the murder of Peter Brown, an employee of the H.
B. Company, near Fort Victoria the month previous. These
savages wrere taken back to headquarters, given a trial,, and
then followed their execution, which appears to be the first recorded in the history of British Columbia, or rather of Vancouver Island, as the Province of British Columbia was then
Five years later, in 1858, came the famous " Fraser river
gold excitement," which shook with monetary ague the financial centres of the world, and caused thousands of men to rush
pell-mell over plain and mountain in a mad desire to search
for hidden treasure in the Fraser canyons.
It was during this period that the "little black steamer,"
as the Beaver was often termed, became widely known to the
travelling public ; and of the estimated 23,000 miners landed
at Victoria, B. C, in the early spring of '58, for passage up
the Fraser, no doubt many hundreds still remain, though
scattered in different parts of the world, whose minds will
wander back to times long since past as they recognize the
illustrations herein given. And perhaps, also, a few of the old
"Forty-niners" still survive who took passage in the Beaver
during the long-to-be-remembered California gold fever of
1849, and who wrill be carried back, as they recall to mind the
subject of this sketch, to the scenes of romantic incidents in
During these periods of wild excitement,
many a pound of the precious metal found place on the
Beaver's deck.
In 1859 the San Juan Island difficulty, which threatened
several times to involve the United States and Britain in open
hostilities, neared a crisis. And in this, the same as in most
every important event in the early history of Pacific Northwest
affairs, the little steamer figured quite conspicuously. J
— 28 —
The facts of the case'appear to be these : A United States
settler, by the name of L. A. Cutler, took up his abode on the
island, which at that time was somewhat in dispute between
the American authorities and the Hudson's Bay Company.
On the 15th of June, 1859, this man Cutler shot a pig,
which it seems was destroying his garden, and which was the
property- of the Hudson's Bay Company, then occupying a
considerable portion of the island. Mr. Cutler, as atonement
for his rash act, then offered the officer in charge of the island
post a -small sum as payment for the animal, but when informed that, owing to its superior make up, $100 was the
value placed on the rooter, he concluded to let the bill stand.
Word was quickly sent to Fort Victoria, and very soon the
Beaver, well armed, was puffing toward the scene of the disturbance.
On board the miniature war-steamer were several officers
of the colonial council, including A. G. Dallas, Tolmie and
Fraser, which gentlemen, on landing, declared the Island of
San Juan to be British soil.
It then seems that Cutler was given the choice of paying
for the hog, or in default be taken to Fort Victoria, where a
trial would be held and the matter thoroughly investigated.
But Mr. Cutler couldn't see it in this light, and, nervously
fingering his rifle, threatened to shoot the first man that should
lay forcible hands upon him.
This was the commencement of the famous San Juan
hostilities, and during the long, tedious litigation which followed, the steamer Beaver, on many occasions, came prominently before the public.
After dragging along for a number of years, the island
was finally ceded to the United States on October 21st, 1872,
by the award allowed by the arbitrator, Emperor William I.
of Germany.
For fifteen years subsequent to 1859, the Beaver continued to serve the various posts without anything unusual
transpiring, except that settlers were rapidly taking the place
of the native redskins, and consequently the huge cargoes of
furs, once so common, were each year growing lighter; while
at the same time steamships of modern design had arrived in
the field, and now the queen of the North Pacific must come
down from her exalted position and struggle along in the rear
ranks. — 29 —
The famous Hudson's Bay Company (organized in 1670),
to which she belonged, having been divested of its power by
the Imperial authorities in 1859, was now in its decline, and
therefore the services of the faithful little steamer were no
longer required in the fur business.
Accordingly, on October 13th, 1874, the Beaver was
sold, her purchasers being Messrs. Stafford, Saunders, Morton
& Co., of Victoria, B. C, who afterward utilized her as a
general freight and tow-boat, in which capacity she remained
until the last, with the exception of a short period in which
she was employed by the Imperial hydrographers in the preparation of charts of the North Pacific coast.
Although the Beaver was old-fashioned and out of date
when offered for sale by the H. B. Company, she was still
considered in perfect order, and it cost the new company just
$17,500 to gain possession of this pioneer craft.
In recent years the Company experienced much difficulty
in securing engineers who understood her engines, or who
were willing to handle them, owing to the many important
changes in marine engines which have taken place since her's
were built in 1834-5.
One would naturally suppose that these old engines would
be constantly needing repairs ; but such was not the case, and
although in use over half a century, they ran remarkably well
right up until the night when Dave Symmons pulled the
throttle which stopped them for Che last time. These engines
seemed to be composed almost solely of a complicated series
of jointed levers, and were constantly getting "on centre,"
which was their worst feature.
In conversation recently with one of her late engineers,
he remarked : "You should have seen us fellows jump when
we got the signals to go ahead. Why, at times our whole
force below were obliged to climb here and there over her engines, which we had to humor for an age, it seemed, before
they would condescend to strike out for themselves."
At about 10 o'clock on Thursday night, July 26th, 1888,
the poor old Beaver, in steaming out of Burrard Inlet—the
harbor of Vancouver, B. C.—with a small cargo of provisions
for a logging-camp on Thurlow Island, was carried upon the
rocks just under the lofty cliff at the right of the entrance.
Her crew at this time consisted of ten men, as follows :
George Merchant, captain ;  Charles Morris, mate ; Thomas rtl
— 30 —
Evans, deck-hand ; David Symmons, chief engineer ; William
Evans, assistant engineer; John Brownlee and Benjamin
Collis, firemen ; P. Clitto and Thomas Smith, coal-passers,
while "One Lung" was the somewhat common appellation
assigned the Chinese cook.
Owing to the several attempts which were then made to
float the. little steamer being unsuccessful, she was allowed to
remain upon the rock-bound shore for well-nigh four years,
attracting the curiosity of world-circling tourists and the
travelling public, who, filled with admiration and wonder,
honored her with their visits, while at the same time the journalist's pencil, the artist's brush and the poet's pen gladly paid
tribute to this pioneer of western seas.
But although several Pacific Coast papers, from time to
time, published articles setting forth the many good reasons
why the old Beaver should be secured and placed in some
public park as an historical relic, no very important move was
made in this direction until the early spring of 1892.
At this time a joint-stock company, composed principally
of San Francisco capitalists, was formed for the purpose of
sending this remnant of ancient marine architecture to the
World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago.
But while these negotiations were pending, the swell from
the side-wheel steamer Yosemite, in passing close to the
stranded vessel at low tide on June 26th, 1892, caused the
boiler to work loose, when with a crash it fell outward into
the channel carrying with it a large portion of the hull.
This was the death-blow to the famous old craft, and,
by a strange coincidence, happened just one hundred years
after the celebrated explorer, George Vancouver, passed the
same spot in the ship Discovery in June, 1792, at which time
he named the silent harbor " Burrard Inlet," after Sir Harry
Burrard of the British navy.
The news that the poor old Beaver was now an abandoned
wreck at Vancouver very quickly spread, and soon throughout
these western confines might often be heard the sentimental
remark, "What a pity." Then once more, after a lapse of
57 years, rushed a curious throng—a new generation—to the
scene ; but this time not to witness the staunch little steamer
plunge proudly into the briny deep, but to haggle to pieces the faithful old craft, as with stilled pulse and silent paddle
she lay wrapped in a sheet of troubled water, with head calmly
resting on a huge barnacle-clad boulder, crippled, helpless and
The anxiety became so great to secure relics of this ancient
vessel, that at certain low tides one's life was considerably endangered by the scores of axes which flew thick and fast in
every quarter of the ship, and at these times it was quite a
common occurrence to meet men there that had come long
distances expressly to get, as they said, " a relic of the old
Beaver." The preference then was almost entirely for the
woodwork, the most of which appeared to be nearly as sound
as the day on which it had been put together. Consequently,
her engines suffered but little damage while the woodwork
lasted, but finally some parties wanted the foundation timbers
on which they stood ; then a few shots pf dynamite lifted them,
in a broken mass, out of the bed in which they had rested for
nearly three-score years. Most of the cast-iron was then purchased by the local foundries and goon mingled with other
metal in building new machinery.
In the meantime I had been busily engaged in securing
the copper fastenings of the hull, and also the.brass and bronze
portions of her machinery, which to my mind were far more
valuable than the timber as lasting mementoes. But before
purchasing any of this metal, .1 had decided to manufacture it
into souvenir medals, as it was plainly to be seen that every
vestige of the old Beaver would soon pass into oblivion, unless
in some way identified. And it is but fair to expect that these
medals, relics of this famous steamer, will exist through ages
as historical souvenirs of this progressive steam era. As a
short chapter elsewhere in this work has been devoted to a
description of these medals, further allusion to them in this
connection is unnecessary.
The wood of the old boat has been worked up into numerous useful ornaments, such as walking-canes, jewelry
caskets, writing-desks, picture frames, vases, clock cases,
chairs, etc., and many of these have found a welcome place in
distant lands, as the various newspaper accounts go to prove.
A society of Foresters in this city (Vancouver) is named
"Court Beaver," after this pioneer vessel, and has its gavels,
ballot-box, chaiter frame, etc., made of wood of this veteran
steamer.    The dark variegated colors of this wood, caused by I
the action of the salt water coming in contact with the copper
fastenings, makes it extremely handsome, and besides it is
susceptible to a very high polish. The greenheart, which
formed a large bulk of this woodwork, was imported expressly
into England from British Guiana, where it grows to the
height of from 75 *° IO° feet. In color it resembles beech-
wood, but in texture is more like lignum vitse. It is extremely
valuable for shipbuilding, and is almost entirely free from the
attacks of the teredo, which fact we particularly noted while
working* about the old steamer's hull. This wood is also very
heavy, ""and unless thoroughly seasoned will readily sink in
The loss of the steamer Beaver seemed to elicit as much
sympathy from the two nations on the western slope of
America's great mountain chain as would the death of some
beloved statesman. But not until the old craft had disappeared
did they seem fully to realize or appreciate the valuable services rendered in days past by this nautical pioneer. I will
venture to say that there is not a city on the Pacific Coast today, scarcely one in America, and very few, if any, in the
civilized world but what would now readily give much more
than it would have cost to preserve this historic craft to have
her on exhibition in their public park or floating in their harbor, if perchance a seaport. But the chance of securing her is
now gone, departed, lost forever, and henceforth the steamer
Beaver shall live in name only. No other craft can ever have
the same record, no other the same interesting history.
Great changes have taken place since first the Beaver
kissed the waters of the stormy Atlantic. Large commercial
centres, then almost unknown, have since sprung into existence
on both sides of that mighty ocean, whose heaving crest is now
lashed into a constant foam by hundreds of floating palaces,
then hardly dreamed of. A network of steel, then scarcely
started, has since been woven from east to west, from north to
south, backward and forward in almost every conceivable
direction over Europe, over America, and now sings its ceaseless note as the oiled wheels of commerce glide with surprising
rapidity over its metallic strings.
But a still more remarkable change has taken place in
the silent wilderness of the Pacific Slope. From the Spanish
Mission of St. Francis, containing only a few Indians when the Beaver first rippled the waters of the broad Pacific, has
developed the busy metropolis of San Francisco, with its 325>"
ooo human ants.
Next in importance comes the city of Portland, Oregon,
with 70,000 of a population, on~the site of which the fur-
traders of the Hudson's Bay Company shot wild ducks and
geese for many years after the steamer Beaver first set in motion the waters of the Columbia. Then follow the Puget
Sound cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, besides numerous other thriving trade centres.
The densely wooded low-lands, where roamed in search
of prey the dusky children of the forest, have become, since
first the Beaver panted up their shaded streams, the productive
and celebrated valleys of the west.
The great chain of rugged mountains which echoed greetings to the Beaver, as with shrill voice ,she spoke the startled
savage, saying: "Begone! civilization is knocking at your
doors, and seeks to blot you out, together with your legends
and traditions," has since yielded up a hoard of precious
minerals to the extent of over two billions of dollars. And
since first the steamer Beaver commenced to devour the virgin
forests of this Pacific domain, the valuable States of California,
Oregon and Washington have been hewn out and added to
the great American Republic.
While from the then silent wilderness has been reared the
flourishing Province of British Columbia, from whence proceed
the ships of many nations laden with its metals, timber, coal
and salmon products. The commercial centres-of this fair,
new province include the cities of Victoria. Nanaimo, New
Westminster, Kamloops, and "last but not least," the busy
mart of Vancouver, at the gate of which city the Reaver chose
as her last resting place, a most beautiful and befitting spot.
The Hudson's Bay Company, which for 200 years reigned
resplendent over a large portion of North America as the
greatest monopoly in history, is now, comparatively speaking,
a figure in past events. That the steamer Beaver lived long
enough to witness all this great overturning of affairs seems
hard to believe, but it is true nevertheless. Surely the present
period can well be termed the " Progressive Steam Era," for
who at this enlightened age, and in the face of the many important mechanical discoveries now being made, would dare !  II
— 34 —
predict that before the elapse of the next century the steam
engine will not be entirely superseded by electric or other
motive power and be a thing of the past.
In all histories of the North Pacific States and of the
Province of British Columbia the name Beaver must ever
stand as a glittering jewel; indeed, they would be very incomplete if such was not the case, for in this steamer is wrapped
much early inseparable history of the North Pacific Slope.
What a striking comparison between this steamer and the
great ocean-racers of to-day, many of which are five and some
even six times the length of this pioneer of by-gone days.
m  I
CAPT. WM. H. McNEILL. 37 —
Biography of Capt. McNeill.
TO MR. AND MRS. JANE, of Savonas, B. C, I am
indebted for many favors in connection with this brief
biography of William McNeill. The photograph from
which the accompanying illustration was taken, was also
cheerfully furnished by Mrs. Jane, who is a daughter of the
late Captain.
W. H. McNeill, the subject of this sketch, was born in
Boston, Mass., in the year 1800. During his early boyhood
he attended the public schools, and, being naturally clever,
soon obtained a very fair education. But while yet a mere
lad a desire to follow the sea threw its fascinating arms about
the young Bostonian, who, after spending several years on the
waters of Massachusetts Bay, concluded to seek fame and
fortune in the wilds of the faraway Oregon Territory,
Accordingly, as the year 1830 was drawing to a close, he
bid farewell to his native home and stepped as commander •
aboard the brig Llama, then about to sail on a fur-trading
expedition to the North Pacific coast. This vessel was owned
by Bryant & Sturgis, a firm of Boston merchants, and her
cargo consisted of a varied assortment of cheap, highly-colored
trinkets, such as would attract the fancy of the unsuspecting
For many weeks the Llama traversed the great seas, and
it was not until twelve thousand miles of trackless passage lay
astern the little brig that she landed her captain and crew of
fortune-seekers safe upon the shores of the Oregon Territory,
then a wild region teeming with all the richest furs peculiar to
an undisturbed wilderness. The Llama, shortly after arriving
in these North Pacific waters, was purchased, together with
her contents, by the Hudson's Bay Company, who must have
seen something uncommonly clever in her commander, for he
was retained as captain of the vessel and at once admitted
into the Company's service, a somewhat unusual occurrence
for an American citizen.
Some three years later, in the spring of 1834, word
reached   Fort Vancouver  that   a Japanese junk   was   lying -38-
stranded off Cape Flattery and being pillaged by the natives.
Captain McNeill at once undertook the dangerous task of
rescuing the crew, and with this determination in view sailed
thither in the Lla7na. He had scarcely reached the wreck
when his vessel was boarded by the savages, but being
familiar with their tactics, he soon overpowered them and
took a number prisoners. These he held as hostages until the
survivors of the ill-fated craft were delivered' to him. There
proved to be but three remaining alive. These were taken
back tojfort Vancouver, and shortly afterward sent home in
one of the Company's ships by way of England.
Captain McNeill continued in the Lla7na until the arrival
of the steamer Beaver at Fort Vancouver in the spring of
1836, when he succeeded Captain Home, and thus gained the
distinction of being the second captain of the pioneer steamer,
which position he most judiciously filled for many years with
the exception of several brief intervals. In a short time Captain McNeill and his little black steamer became important
factors all along the North Pacific coast, so much so that their
names have become inseparably connected with the early
records of this vast region.
In 1851 Captain McNeill assumed command of the Company's ship Una, which later was burned by the Indians at
Neah Bay.    He was also for a time in command of the II. B.
Company's ship Nereid, during which time she made a voyage,
to London and return.
Ever ready for an opportunity to rise in the world, we
soon find Captain McNeill in charge of several northern posts,
and finally at the head of affairs at the important station of
Fort Simpson, which position he continued to fill until, after
a long and faithful association with the Hudson's Bay Company, he retired from active business life and severed his connection with the great monopoly in the year 1861. After leaving the Company's service he retired to his farm on Point
Jonzalo, Vancouver Island, where he built a fine residence
and passed the remainder of his days surrounded by his large
family and all the comforts which his life's work well merited.
Captain McNeill was a man of sterling qualities, just and
honorable in his dealings with his fellow man, and the absence
of that dominating spirit which so frequently characterizes
men in less prominent positions, made him a general favorite
not only among his inferiors, but also among men of higher — 39 —
station. He was a man of rather large stature, and was possessed of a very strong constitution, which carried him safely
through the many hardships with which the pioneer whites of
this western domain had to battle until 1875. Then after an
illness of only two days—the result of a severe cold—the old
pioneer captain was piloted across the dark river from whence
no voyager returns.    Bancroft, in his "History of the North-
■J      O * J
west Coast," speaks thus of the captain : "Besides being an
able seaman and a sharp trader, McNeill was a thoroughly
honest man, and he served the Company well and faithfully."
The people of the North Pacific coast, especially of British
Columbia, must ever be indebted to Captain McNeill for many
important events as the result of his long and useful life among
the fur-traders and Indians of the North Pacific Slope. Not
only is he associated with the first discovery of the North
Pacific coal-fields ; the disclosure of Victoria and Esquimalt
harbors ; the founding of British Columbia's capital, but also
with the first discovery of gold, which a few years later led to
the famous Fraser river excitement.
It is very probable that Captain McNeill headed the first
party of prospectors in search of gold in British Columbia, and
my belief in this is strengthened by the contents of two letters
written by the captain to James Douglas (later Sir James
Douglas, governor of British Columbia), which chanced to
come under my notice when engaged in collecting material for
this work, and from which the following extracts have been
copied. Although it has been generally understood that the
first discovery of gold was made at Queen Charlotte Island,
still the facts relating thereto have heretofore been very
meagre, but as these letters are the original manuscript they
can safely be relied upon as containing a correct account of
this earliest  discovery.
" Fort Simpson, 20th November, 1851.
"James Douglas, Esq.
"Sir—After leaving Victoria, I proceeded with the Una
to fulfill your instructions of 4th October, 1851. We had a
fair run of four days to Q. C. I., after which a gale of wind
came on and detained us off Cape Heniy eight days, consequently we did not anchor in Mitchell's Harbor until the 20th
Oct. On the second day after we arrived we commenced
blasting the rock at the old place.     We commenced in a vein I
—   40   —
of quartz and were very successful. The rock proved to be
rich with gold, as you will see by the specimens now forwarded
per Doctor Kennedy. We followed the seam or vein and
found it deeply impregnated with gold. The vein seems to
take a direction up the mountain, in fact our men went half
way to the top, say 300 feet above the water, and found quartz
rock. In my opinion, gold will be found in many places hereafter on the west side of the island, as quartz rock can be
found in every direction. We found it in four different places
in Mitchell's Harbor, but had no time to examine it.
" I am sorry to say that we had to leave off blasting and
quit the place for Fort Simpson, on account of annoyance we
experienced from the natives. They arrived in large numbers,
say 30 canoes, and were much pleased to see us on first arrival, but when they saw us blarting and turning out so much
gold they became excited and commenced depredations on us,
stealing the tools and taking at least one-half of the gold that
was thrown out by the blast. They would be concealed until
the report of the blast was heard and then make a rush for the
ore. A regular scramble between them and our men would
then take place ; they would take our men by the legs and
haul them away from the gold. Some blows were struck on
those occasions, and the Indians drew their knives on our men
often, who finally took fright and would not remain longer.
" The natives afterward brought a quantity of gold to me,
for which I traded, and now forward per the Una, together
with that obtained by ourselves through blasting.
" Your faithful servant,
"W. H. McNeill.-"
In the other letter, which is quite lengthy, but contains
little else of interest on this subject, he writes thus: "The
gold obtained by us at Q. C. I. through blasting weighed 59
pounds 10 oz. The men wished it to be valued at^Victoria by
you, as they were afraid if divided here that some of them
would get more than his own share of the rock."
Although nearly twenty years have passed since the hand
that wrote these lines extended a last farewell to earthly
friends ; and although one by one the pioneers of the Pacific
Coast have since passed away, so that now but few is left of
all his old companions, yet the name of Captain McNeill remains the same, securely locked in the pages of history.  1131
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(For the following interesting narrative I am exceedingly
grateful to Mr. Charles H. Woodard, a prominent citizen of Portland, Oregon, also senior member of the old established firm of
Woodard, Clark & Co., wholesale druggists, of that city. It was received from the writer in response to communications which I
directed to him, as to numerous others, when engaged in collecting
information for this history.)
What I Know About the ''Beaver"
The Narrative of a Fraser River Prospector
of 1859.
THE SPIRIT of adventure which had been inspired in
the American public by the discovery of gold in California had, at the period at which we write, subsided,
but was not wholly extinguished. Like the smouldering
ember, which it needs but a breath to fan into new life, so the
latent elements of restless desire for new fields to explore and
prospect needed but the least encouragement to supply the
motive force. That encouragement came in little less than a
decade, and though reports at first were but meagre, yet as
•'The hills are always green far away," so the scene of this
discovery, though yet farther remote than that of the earlier
Californian gold fields, was more alluring. Those subtle
agencies by which stories are magnified in proportion to the
distance of transmission, and the number of times repeated,
were a potent agency in inaugurating what became known as
the Fraser river excitement of 1857 and '58.
The location of this new El Dorado was upwards of 7,000
miles distant from the Atlantic seaboard by the most direct
route of travel at that time available. Such news as had been
received in the ".States" was of that character which interested transportation companies were desirous of disseminating;
and that the public pulse responded to the agencies employed
is best attested by the extent to which the Fraser river fever
extended, testing, as it did, the capacity of the transportation
companies to their utmost to accommodate the exodus of
fortune-hunters. 44
The price of tickets from New York to San Francisco rose
to $300 and $350 for first cabin ; $250 for second cabin, and
$150 for steerage. It was in the month of August, 1858, that
a party of four young and inexperienced boys—of which the
writer was one—under the guidance of a man of middle age,
arrived in New York en route to this faraway Fraser river.
The fifth and eldest of our party had been to California during
the palmy days of '49, and enjoyed the proud distinction of
being called an old California miner, which, to our youthful
mindspconstituted him high authority not only on all subjects
pertaining to gold mining, but nearly all other matters, and in
consequence our veneration for so much experience and wisdom was at the beginning well nigh supreme.
On arrival at New York we found the rush for tickets so
great as likely to involve standing in line a whole day waiting
our turn to be served. Many bogus offices were offering at
reduced rates tickets which might be good enough so far as
they went, but were liable to leave the purchaser stranded on
the Isthmus with insufficient means either to proceed upon
his journey or return. Pickpockets, bunco-steerers^ and all
sorts of methods to swindle the unsophisticated were abundant,
and being worked with an energy worthy a better cause. The
danger of bogus tickets being foisted upon the unwary brought
ticket-brokers into requisition, who, for a commission, would
negotiate purchases ; and all in all, tickets were on sale in so
many different offices that the poor boy from the country, unused to the mob and racket of a great city, often became so
bewildered that he knew not which way to turn nor whom to
avoid to escape robbery. In the face of such disparaging conditions, I suggested to our party that as I had letters to a
prominent gentleman in the city—this was Charles R. Tilton,
Esq., a merchant, resident agent, correspondent and partner
of the well-known banking house of Ladd & Tilton, Portland,
Oregon—who had very kindly offered to do anything he could
for me, that we should ask him to secure our tickets for us ;
but the old California miner declared himself equal to the
emergency, and would listen to no scheme which tended to
disparage his ability to cope with the myriad of sharpers that
abounded at every turn. The other members of our party
were awed into acquiescence, while I remained painfully in
the minority. This constituted my first act of insubordination
against the superior intelligence of the old Forty-niner. — 45 —
However, it was arranged that the two factions should
proceed independently, agreeing to meet in the evening at
French's hotel to compare notes, which we did. I confess
that my heart was heavy when the fact developed that while
my ticket was by the steamship Star of the West, sailing
direct for Aspinwall, their's were all by the Granada, to sail
on the same day, but to proceed via New Orleans and pick
up passengers there awaiting transportation, thence direct to
Aspinwall. There is said to be no loneliness equal to that of
a stranger in a great city, and I pictured my own isolation
among a throng of more than a thousand passengers, among
whom there would not be one solitary familiar face ; but as
there is said never to be any great loss without some slight
gain, so my loss in this instance was not without its compensating features, for, through the influence of Mr. Tilton's
agency, I had saved $25 in the price of my ticket, and with
even better accommodations, as I afterwards learned, than
furnished on the Granada. Twenty-five dollars saved to a
poor boy was a large sum, and to my practioal ideas, I computed it as equivalent to being paid about a dollar a day
wages for the voyage, which I regarded as rather a good omen
under which to begin the new life and experiences that were
opening out before me.
On the 20th of August, 1858, the two steamers sailed
from New York, ours having 1,100 passengers, the other 700,
after taking on the New Orleans complement. These were
exclusive of the respective crews—the statutes regulating cubic
air space, or limiting numbers, being alike inoperative and a
dead letter. At Aspinwall we awaited the Granada, and
then all proceeded by railway to Panama, where upon arrival,
to our consternation, we found but one steamer provided to
take the combined aggregation of passengers from the other
two. The problem of transportation became one fraught with
great danger, but as but few of us had means sufficient to
enable us to await the arrival at Panama of the next steamer
a month later, and if we had, even then there was no assurance that she too would not be loaded beyond her capacity,
there was no alternative but to proceed. The cupidity of the
steamship company saw in the rich harvest that would result,
if they could but land this vast cargo of human freight safely
at its destination, money enough to either compromise or pay
damages in any suit for violation of passenger laws, and they
decided to push us forward at all hazards. I
u 46 -
The Sonora was one of the old side-wheel steamers of
those days, and even at that date was regarded as belonging
to ^hat genus of aquatic architecture christened by the old
Forty-niners as a " traveling coffin." Altogether the auspices
under which that voyage was undertaken were not encouraging. It affords a striking illustration of the risks and dangers
to which men will expose themselves, more especially that
class of men who embarked in those days in the mad rush for
fortunes in the gold mines.
At- length we were all aboard. The order "heave
anchor4"' had been given, and as we moved slowly out of the
roadstead the gun was fired announcing our departure. A few
moments served to demonstrate the peril which threatened us
should we encounter a rough sea ; as the crowd of passengers
moved to the starboard side to view the receding shore, the
old steamer came nigh turning a somersault, a catastrophe
which was for the moment averted by the prompt action of
the officer of the deck, who, in stentorian tones, ordered us to
"trim ship," a process which was accomplished by directing us first to port and,then to starboard. This manoeuvre
became a necessary exercise during the daytime for the whole
of that voyage in order to maintain an even keel; in other
words, to avoid turning clear over. During the daytime the
ever varying position of such a vast deck-load presented a
problem in gravitation which employed the untiring vigilance
of the officer on deck.
There was seating capacity for but little more than half
the passengers, and baggage, boxes, and everything that would
serve the purpose was brought into requisition, while many
reclined at full length upon the deck. At night every available device seemed to be employed to supply sleeping places.
I Standee" berths were erected wherever a niche afforded
space, while on top and underneath the tables in the dining
saloon every foot of space was in demand as a bed. The
cabins were so oppressively hot at night that as many as could
were glad to spread their blankets and bunk on the upper
deck, where we lay like, candles in a box ; in fact, it was almost impossible to even cross the deck, except at the regular
alleyw:ays, which, for the convenience of the officers, had to
be maintained. During the quietude of night the vessel was
able to accomplish fair headway, owing to the fact that an
even keel allowed the wheels to do about equal work, while — 47 —
during the day, owing to the constant rolling motion, but one
was in the water at a time.
At Acapulco we took aboard, in addition to our regular
requirements, 150 tons of coal for ballast, which for a day or
two served somewhat to steady us, but as consumption gradually reduced this weight we again took on our rolling motion,
which was never overcome until we were finally moored to the
dock in San Francisco. Fortunately for all parties, the
weather was fine and the sea smooth, otherwise no one might
have been left to tell the story of/that voyage, which, in other
respects, was uneventful but for two incidents, one of which
being that we brought to California the first news of the successful working of the Atlantic cable, which, two weeks later,
was made the occasion for the greatest public demonstration in
San Francisco which up to that time had occurred in her
history. The other was that ours was the largest single shipload of passengers ever landed on the Pacific shore of North
America. There were over 1,800 souls, exclusive of crew, and
for many years " shipmates" upon that voyage were to be met
frequently and in nearly every section of the Coast, no matter
how remote.
We landed at 'Frisco September 16, 1858. About 250 of
the passengers immediately instituted damage suits against the
steamship company for violation of passenger laws, which,
after dragging along for months, were finally compromised,
some getting their full fare returned, others a small amount. I
think mine netted me $25. Here we learned the first disparaging reports from the Fraser river mines. However, as
we had come so far and were then so near our objective point,
it was decided by the old Forty-niner, captain of our party, to
accept the statements of no one, but to proceed and make our
own investigations. I was to remain in San Francisco to await
advices from the other four. Another purpose of my remaining was that in event of disaster to the miners, I might be able
to contribute funds to relieve them. . In a few days they embarked by steamer for Victoria, from whence they went as far
as Hill's Bar, two miles below Fort Yale, where they decided
to go to mining. I received occasional letters from them, but
as the expressage, if my memory serves me correctly, was then
fifty cents to a dollar on each letter, as opportunity offered for
its transmission, and the mining operations of my friends not
very remunerative, letters were few, and such as reached me - 48 -
not very encouraging. They had resolved to winter on Hill's
Bar and in the spring move on to the Thompson river, a long
way by the tedious methods of travel, further up the Fraser.
I was to come on in the spring and join them.
In the spring of 1859 I had formed the acquaintance of
three old California miners who had come down from Amador
county on their way to the same region. Of this party was
one Charley Posey—I never knew his correct name, but learned
this was a nickname given him in the mines by reason of his
having hailed from Posey county, Indiana, which appellation
ever after followed him—another was Frank Vincent, and the
third Charles Spaights. The latter was a man of small stature, of middle age, mild mannered, and much given during
his leisure moments to literary reading and the science of
assaying. His mild manner, coupled with the fact that he
neither indulged in profanity, whisky nor tobacco, inspired in
me sentiments of respect which ripened into regard and finally
culminated in my joining his party to the mines. We were
detained some time in 'Frisco waiting for the season to open
on the Fraser river, and finally in the month of March we
sailed for Victoria on the steamer Northerner—since wrecked
in the vicinity of Mendicino. Upon reaching that port later
news from the Fraser river was that it was yet too early to enter the mines, so we remained some days at Victoria, and at
length took passage on the old Hudson's Bay Company's
steamer Beaver for Fort Langley, a trading post some forty
miles from the mouth of the Fraser, and an intermediate base
of supplies between Victoria and Fort Yale.
The Beaver was one of the earliest experiments in marine
steamship architecture, constructed apparently more with a
view to carrying freight than passengers. At all events, if
there were any comfortable cabin accommodations, none of
my party were fortunate enough to gain access, much less
to occupy them. We stood huddled together for mutual
warmth on the afterdeck like cattle, and indeed with less provision for our comfort than is nowadays provided for cattle.
A small awning covered but half the deck passengers, and
afforded but little protection against a heavy driving storm of
sleet and snow which followed us from start to finish, while
those unable to get positions under it had no protection.
Fortunately the only redeeming feature of the trip was its
brevity, but it was long enough to impress a lasting memory — 49 —
of its discomforts, and it stands unrivalled as the smallest voyage with the largest amount of discomfort in all rrly experience
on salt water. However, the little steamer possessed the
merit of staunchness, and she certainly proved as industrious
as her patronymic, for she kept steadily buffeting head winds
and a heavy sea until she landed us, drenched, cold and
hungry, but withal thankful, at Fort Langley.
latere we found, as at Victoria, large numbers of miners
waiting for the season to open up ; but though too early, we
decided to push on as soon as we could procure a suitable Indian canoe and pilot. I was especially anxious to proceed lest
my friends should leave Hill's Bar before our arrival, so, after
some days' delay at Langley, we secured a large dug-out and
an Indian pilot, and added such other things to our outfit as
had not been procured at Victoria. We had a tent, flour,
bacon, beans, sugar, a case of books belonging to Spaights,
and a keg of whisky.
Our party had here been augmented by four persons besides the pilot, which, with all our outfit, required a very large
canoe. This secured, the process of loading engrossed about
as much attention as a stevedore usually bestows on a clipper
ship. At length everything was in readiness, and a large
crowd of idle men had assembled on the bank to witness our
departure. We were ranged four on either side, each with an
Indian paddle, while the pilot took his position at the helm
with another paddle as a rudder.    At the word we pushed off.
Providence has wisely ordained that we cannot look into
the future. Were it otherwise, many of our joys and much of
our unhappiness and misery would be anticipated. If on that
inclement March morning we could have " crossed the bridge
before we came to it," I am certain that the number of prospectors in that canoe would have been diminished at least to
the extent of one.
Hence it was undoubtedly better that we could not then
realize that the many previous discomforts encountered since
leaving home were but mere child's play in comparison to the
real hardships which were yet in store for us. Whether any
of the others had an intuition of this I cannot say, but if there
had been any exuberance of feeling it must in a great measure
have been dispelled by the parting salutations from the idle
crowd that had assembled on the bank to witness our departure. They seemed one and all to predict the wreck of our
craft ere we should proceed many days on our journey.    Sev- I
— 50 —
eral of them went so far as to designate this or that article of
the cargo to which he would lay claim when the wreckage
should come drifting down the stream. The preference seemed
largely for the keg of whisky, which was a notable index to
the character of the crowd. But there was one, apparently of
a higher scale of intellect, who singled out the library as theI
object "of his special quest.
The setting out, taken as a whole, was not of a character
calculated to inspire us with particularly bright hopes.
Whether others of our party had any misgivings I know not ;
to me, however, the laws of compensation brought some relief
in the thought that in encountering new dangers which might
be in store for us, we were leaving behind others which might
be lurking in that promiscuous crowd. We had hardly proceeded a dozen boat-lengths ere we came near capsizing, a
catastrophe which was only prevented by the utmost vigilance
and dexterity of our Indian pilot, and as soon as we reached a
favorable landing, beyond the range of vision of that jeering
crowd, we beached our canoe and began the process of discharging and re-stowage of cargo. We had stowed all our
plunder amidships and too high above the gunwales, in order
to give ample room and more comfort to each man with his
paddle. This rendered our craft cranky or top heavy, and it
became necessary, in order to avoid capsizing, to stow all our
heavier goods well along the bottom of the canoe. In so doing we discovered to our dismay a check or split extending
along the grain of the wood of the canoe, well below the water
line, which became a menace to such goods as would be ruined
by getting wet. Caulking would only serve to distend the
check and increase the difficulty, and as we had no means at
hand for patching, we must either return to Langley for
another canoe or proceed as best we could, bailing the water
out whenever it should encroach too far upon our cargo. One
horn of the dilemma thus involved our personal safety ; the
other the loss of the goods. After due deliberation, we determined to relieve the overburdened craft by taking alternate
turns of walking along the river bank, so that, for instance,
four should walk while four should remain aboard ; but as the
very swift current made it necessary to cross and recross the
river frequently, in order to avail ourselves of the numerous
eddies, this must at such crossings make the embarkation of
the entire party absolutely imperative. Finally all was rearranged, and we proceeded on our way until approaching night- — 5i —
fall, when we pitched our tent and came to camp on a projecting point of land amid the heaviest snowstorm which I have
ever experienced. The snow of the previous winter was yet
remaining to the depth of two feet. Upon this we piled up fir
boughs, upon which we spread our blankets, which, by the
way, were so saturated that it became necessary to wring the
water out of them before turning in. Such was camp life on
the Fraser, and this my first night's experience in that nomadic
style of life, the thoughts of which, after the lapse of nearly
two score years, are far from being cheerful.
To the balance of our party—all old. miners inured to
hardships—this phase of life was not, perhaps, quite so trying.
At any rate they had the advantage(?) of Spaights and myself,
for they sought consolation in the contents of "that keg,"
while we relied upon the recuperative powers of nature. The
following day, stiff and aching in every joint, we resumed our
weary journey. The river was low and the current so rapid
that in places where it was necessary to cross to the opposite
shore we would take our places, head for some point far above
and across the stream, and then strike out, every man bending
to the task with a strength born of desperation, often landing
half a mile below and opposite our starting point. At others,
where the current was so strong that we could make no headway against it with our paddles, all except the Indian would
man the tow-line, which, being several hundred feet in length,
admitted of our clambering along far in advance,'sometimes
wading in the cold snow water from the mountain peaks which
ascended abruptly from the river on either side to great height,
again scaling projecting points of rock, climbing over rocks
and fallen trees, at others over bars that were covered with
boulders worn so smooth and round that we were continually
slipping and falling. In this manner we would make a few
miles, when weary and almost famished we would camp for
the night.
Some days of this sort of life finally brought us to Hill's
Bar, only to find that my companions had been gone some
ten days on their pilgrimage to the Thompson river—ioo miles
farther up the Fraser. I thanked God, however, that I had
reached a human habitation where I could at least recuperate
from the bruises and lameness occasioned by that trip.
There were probably a hundred or two of miners on Hill's
Bar, among them many old friends of our party, which was
now divided and parceled out among a number of miners as
_ 52 —
cabins. I was assigned to that of Captain Bowen, who had a
very comfortable log hut in which he was living by himself.
Pie had in former days been a sea captain, and true to the
instincts of a sailor, was a whole-souled generous man. He
made me quite welcome and comfortable. It was yet. too
early to do prospecting, as the snow was too deep. Some old
established mines that were well opened were able to work
two or three hours at midday. After recovery from the hardships of the trip, I tried my hand at prospecting, but as all the
goodjriining ground had already been located, there was little
•to be gained in this direction, and the old captain, who seemed
to have taken quite a fancy to me, not only generously permitted me to work his ground, but also loaned me a rocker
and instructed me in its use. But I could make but poor pay,
and, after a few weeks with but indifferent results, was glad
enough to join my party, who had returned discouraged from
the upper country. So, bidding adieu to the good captain,
Mr. Spaights and the others, we embarked in another canoe
voyage, retracing the course of the former. The downward
voyage was as full o£pleasure as the other had been of misery,
and we were sorry when it was so soon over.
This proved to be the extent of my mining operations and
prospecting. The only souvenir that I retain of that experience is one solitary gold finger ring of my own mining, and,
perhaps, a few twinges of rheumatic pains. More recently I
have received from Messrs. McCain & Menzies, Vancouver,
B. C, a medal made from the copper of the old Beaver; and
this recalls me to my subject. Of the old Beaver others may
be in a position to supply more extended reminiscences of her
life and history. For me and thousands of others, who ever
grateful to the "bridge that carries us safely o'er," she will
always have a green place in our memories. Peace to her
C. H. Woodard.  View Looking Northeast, Showing the Entrance to Burrard
Inlet, British Columbia.      Lying in the foreground,
stranded upon the rocks beneath Observation
Point, is the Steamer "Beaver."
Photograph taken in 1891. 55
(Lest the reader, after perusing this chapter, might question
the propriety of its insertion, it is but fair to say, in justice to myself as well as regard for the reader's feelings, that it has very little
connection with the rest of this work, and perhaps, therefore, will
be found interesting to such persons only as are already concerned,
or who may become concerned, in the subject of which it treats.)
I    Historical Mementoes   -
-   OF THE   -
"Beaver's" Copper Remains,
THIS IDEA of making medals of metal of the steamer
Beaver is entirely original, and it is my belief that
nothing of the kind has existed heretofore. We have
no record or knowledge of any medals in time past being
stamped out of metal having historical connections, which fact
of itself tends greatly to enhance the value of these Beaver
A relic such as this, whose worth, on account of its historical relations, increases- with age, is of little or no value
unless its identity is assured ; and in order to accomplish this
it must be marked and an authentic record also preserved. In
the British and other leading museums of the world there are
relics from nearly every quarter of the globe, upon some of
which has been placed an almost priceless value simply because
their identity has been satisfactorily proven. Therefore, I
fully realized from the start that in order to gain, or even hope
to gain, the confidence of the public in respect to these
souvenir medals, it would be necessary to give some proof that
they were genuine. But how was this best to be accomplished,
was a subject for earnest thought, in order to answer the
perfectly justifiable questions : '' How do we know that these
medals are made of copper of the steamer Beaver?" " What
guarantee have we got that they are genuine?" After seriously considering this matter, it seemed the only course to - 56 -
pursue was to produce all the evidence in my power that would
tend to prove that these medals were as represented. In
the first place, as a protection to myself as well as to the interested public, it was necessary that the manufacture of them
should be controlled, and for this purpose patent and copyrights were secured and the.designs also registered. In addition to this, it seemed most essential that my name should be
stamped on the face of each medal, as persons securing them
would very naturally wish to know who was responsible for
the statements made thereon. Another commendable feature,
and one which no doubt will be met with favor, is the fact
that each medal has a private number of its own stamped upon
its edge in sunken figures.
For the manufacture of these medals a heavy screw press
was constructed, and with this I am enabled to do the stamping myself, or have it done under my own instructions, and
can therefore conscientiously warrant these medals as real
relics of the steamer Beaver. As no process has yet been discovered by which copper can be perfectly cast, the method of
turning out these medals is similar to that employed at mints
in making coins. First the metal is cast into flat bars, after
which it is placed between hardened steel rollers and rolled
out. As the metal passes between these rollers it becomes
hard and brittle, and requires annealing several times before it
is finally rolled down to the desired thickness. These sheets
of metal are then placed under a punch, which cuts them up
into circular pieces as near the size of the medals as possible.
These blank medals, or coins, so to speak, are then placed
singly between highly tempered steel dies, which are set under
the press, and a pressure of about ioo tons or upwards per
square inch of surface is required to force the cold metal into
the recesses of the finely engraved steel which transfers the
impression and completes the medal. Steel dies of the nature
of these are very costly, and no doubt to the great majority of
persons their cost would seem most excessive. They are engraved by practical die-sinkers, special skill being required in
tempering them, especially for these medals, which is owing to
the unusual hardness of the metal, caused by mixing the brass
or bronze portions of the machinery with the copper fastenings.
This blending not only places a quantity of both metals in
these souvenirs, but imparts to the medals themselves a hardness which will preserve the impressions much longer than if
made solely of the copper. 57
The first of these medal relics of the Beaver issued measured I 11-16 inches in diameter and weighed about \%
ounces each. While these were being stamped an accident
was met with in which the dies were spoiled, and owing to the
belief that smaller ones would give equal, if not better satisfaction, it was decided to not make any more this size, as the
saving of metal was an important consideration. These large
medals contain an illustration of the wrecked steamer Beaver,
also appropriate wording around the periphery on the one
side, while on the other is a telling inscription. These were
numbered from 1 to 12 consecutively, then the figures 3, 6
and 9 were left out entirely, after which the numbering continued thus : 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 40, 41,
etc., the last one bearing No. 548. As there wrere only 226
medals in this issue they sold very quickly, first at $1 each,
then at $1.25, and it seems that some of them have since
changed hands at prices ranging from $1.50 to $5 each.
The second and next size measured 1^ inches in diameter
and weighed three-quarters of an ounce each. Besides being
relics c*f the steamer Beaver, these were intended as souvenirs
commemorative of America's four hundredth anniversary. On
the reverse side from the one showing the wrecked steamer is
a reproduction of the Santa Maria, Columbus' ship of 1492,
signifying the first famous sailing vessel to America and the
first steamer. In addition to the illustrations, both sides of
this medal contains a suitable inscription, and it is scarcely
necessary to say that in all probability these will command a
high price in the near future ; for of all the different styles of
World's Fair souvenirs that were issued during the years 1892
and 1893—and I feel sure many will agree with me in this—
none can compare with these from an historical point of view,
which fact, in the very nature of things, must sooner or later,
place a hige premium on this special design. These, after being minted, are stamped consecutively from No. 1 upwards.
The selling price for the present is fixed at 75 cents each.
It will always be found very gratifying to those securing
these souvenirs to be able to tell at a glance just how many of
them have been stamped before the one which they have
gained possession of. A record of the numbers is kept as the
medals are stamped, and never are two of the same design
issued with corresponding numbers. Perhaps the most important question relating to these relics, and one which is
repeatedly asked, is:   "How many of these medals are you - 58-
going to manufacture?" As this will depend on the demand
for the present issue, as well as on the demand for the next
anticipated issue of smaller dimensions, it is impossible to state
at this writing the exact number. Still it may be pleasing to
the interested public to know that the output is limited to
1,050 pounds. When this amount of metal has been worked
up, or otherwise disposed of, it is my intention to notify the
public of the fact through the press, stating at the same time
the exact number of medals in each separate issue.
The total amount of copper and composition metal of the
Hudson-'s Bay Company's steamer Beaver which I secured
weighed just about 1,085 pounds, and consisted of a vast
assortment of copper bolts, which formed her fastenings ; several sets of main shaft bearings, which weigh about 45 pounds
per pair; various other sets or smaller dimensions, a variety
of copper tubing, several brass plungers, a number of valves
and numerous small devices belonging to the ship's machinery,
besides two large bronze condenser valves, which are exceptionally fine curiosities of old-time marine engines. Of this
1,085 pounds it is very probable that some of the pieces may
be disposed of as they are, which of course would reduce the
number of medals accordingly. But in the event of the entire
lot being used for the medals there will be, as above stated,
not more than 1,050 pounds of these relics, as the amount of
waste in recasting and manufacturing will be considerable.
As there is a great probability that the demand for these
medals will be enormous, and wishing to extend the metal as
far as possible, I intend to issue another size, which will only
weigh about one-quarter of an ounce each and be, in diameter,
somewhat smaller than a twenty-five cent silver coin. In
general design these will be somewhat similar to the first issue,
but in addition to these being interesting relics, they wrill be
found exceedingly well adapted for brooches, bracelet bangles,
watch-guard charms, cuff buttons, and various other useful
ornaments of apparel, and owing to this special pains will be
exercised in their manufacture. It is quite likely that two
styles of this size will be issued. Should this be the case, and
no others introduced, which is most probable, the output of
these medals will thus include the three different sizes above
described, and these will contain four slightly varied designs.
In all likelihood the lovers of curiosities—and they are
legion—have never before had such a splendid opportunity of
acquiring so valuable a relic at so small a cost, and that they 1»
are not slow in perceiving this is shown by the fact that these
medals—although their existence is as yet scarcely known to
the public—have already found their way into China, Japan,
Australia, the United States of America and various parts of
Canada. Many thrilling and romantic associations hang
round these historic medals, which no doubt will always prove
a source of interesting pleasure to their possessors, wfio,
through generations to come, will treasure with a strange fascinating interest these mementoes made of copper of the first
steamship to cross the Atlantic to America, the first to round
Cape Horn, and the first to ruffle the waters of the great
Pacific. Perhaps, also, many will prize them highly owing to
the fact that the metal of which they are made has been to
that lonely isle in the far Southern Pacific famous the world
over as "Robinson Crusoe's Island." In addition to these
interesting connections, these medals have other special
charms, for they contain metal of machinery made by the first
firm that ever manufactured practical steam engines, and are
therefore inseparably connected with the celebrated name of
Watt. Their relation also to the famous Hudson's Bay Company makes them valuable souvenirs of lasting historical interest. But as this chapter is not intended altogether as an
advertisement, but rather as a method of describing as nearly
and clearly as possible all particulars relating to the manufacture, etc., of these medals, I shall conclude this article by saying that my earnest hope is that every person who may secure
one or more of these mementoes will regard them as true relics
of the steamer Beaver, and be as sanguine that such is the
case as if they had gone to the wreck, secured the copper and
made the medals themselves. All that I can say is that these
medals are genuine, and that to the best of my ability they
have been honestly represented, which statement, it is most
gratifying to know, has already been received by many as a
truthful assertion. And as an example of this, following is a
copy of the first order for these medals which we had the
pleasure to receive, and which, coming as it did from the
highest institution in the Dominion of Canada, cannot fail to
give some idea of the valuable manner in which these historical medals are prized. A long list of orders since received
from various quarters, also letters expressive of gratitude from
persons who deem themselves fortunate in acquiring so fine a
relic, could also be published, but such" a move would be entirely too commonplace in this connection. — 6o —
Although it is scarcely probable that it would pay anyone
to go to the expense and risk of counterfeiting these medals,
still before purchasing it will be well to see that the author's
name (C. W. McCain) is stamped on the face of each one,
otherwise you will be perfectly justified in regarding them as
false imitations. Therefore beware of any medals not bearing
this imprint, but claiming that the metal is of the steamer
Beaver. The above name, in the case of the two first sizes,
appears quite conspicuously in raised letters near the periphery
of the medals, but in the case of the small ones it will be found
embossed in very fine lettering upon that portion of the medal
representing the rocky cliff.
(This copy of an order, heretofore mentioned, from the
Library Department of the Houpe of Commons, requires a word of
explanation owing to the address. I may state that the address is
that of my father, who, by the way, has not only kindly assisted in
bringing forward these medals, but also in collecting some important information for this history; and the Librarian, as will be seen,
having'previously learned that he might secure these souvenirs
through him directed the communication thither.)
Library of Parliament,)
Dominion of Canada,   j"
Ottawa, 31st Dec , 1892.
D. W. McCain, Esq.,
Port Colborne, Ont.
My Dear Sir—I have received your address from Mr.
J. J. Murphy, of Toronto, and herewith enclose to you a
money order for ($5.00) five dollars, for which you will please
send to me five copies or specimens of your medal {Beaver)
by Canadian express.
tVhen you have your pamphlet on the medal ready for
issue please send two (2) copies of it to this Library, with invoice of same in duplicate.
I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely,
L. J. Casault, pro. — 6i —
(Shortly after the " Beaver " collapsed in 1892, the city of Vancouver purchased her mast, which has since been erected as a flagstaff and memorial at the entrance to Stanley Park. But deeming
the city's collection of office curiosities very incomplete without a
metal relic of the historic vessel, I presented the Council with one
of the medals soon after they were issued, and in reply received this
letter of thanks.)
City of Vancouver,       )
British Columbia, Canada.)
City Clerk's Office,
Vancouver, Feb. 18th, 1893.
C. W. McCain, Esq.,
Vancouver, B. C.
Dear Sir—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your
souvenir medal made of copper of the SS. Beaver, and have
presented same to Council as per your request.
I have been instructed to thank you on their behalf for
the handsome donation, and they trust that you will be successful in your business venture.
Yours truly,
Thos. F. McGuigan,
City Clerk.    — os
The Sad Ending of the Author's Last Trip
in Search of 01d=Time Naval Relics.
HERE IS ALWAYS  somethini
strangely impressive
about  the  closing hours of each  year, a something
JJL which seems to penetrate to the very soul, imbuing
man with a seriousness seldom experienced at any other time.
To me these hours will ever have a double significance, as the
result of my last unfortunate trip to the scene of the wrecked
steamer Beaver.
The hands of the little nickle clock on the stand indicated the hour of seven on the evening of December 31st,
1892, as the office door suddenly opened and a laughing voice
exclaimed :
" Hello ! not ready yet ?"
Looking up, I beheld my old friend E. A. Brown standing in the doorway with his arms filled with parcels. The
yellow, webbed feet protruding from one of these bespoke
its contents, revealing the fact that the family festive board
would be amply provided for on New Year's Day. Little did
the poor fellow realize that never again in this life should he
look upon the faces of his dear one.^. Little did he realize
that he was now leaving behind a few holiday gifts as the last
token of a father's love, and that before another sun should
blot out the old year his spirit would be with its Maker.
Laying his parcels on a table, he stood talking for a few
minutes and then left the room, saying, " I've forgotten the
children's candy."
After a lapse of probably fifteen minutes he again reappeared, and by this time everything was in readiness for the
start. Our kit consisted of a lantern, two axes, a saw, two
crowbars,  a piece of rope,  a sledge-hammer and a  wedge.
Throwing these over our shoulders, we starteci
on oui
\J* 66 —
A few minutes' walk down a side avenue brought us to
Linton's boat house, at the foot of Carrall street. Here everything was silent as the grave, save the dull, ceaseless ripple of
the sea in the chinks of the log-float on which the boat-house
is constructed. We found the place entirely deserted by the
boatman and his attendants, but as we had engaged a boat for
this occasion on our return from the wreck the previous evening, we decided to select one for ourselves from the large number that was lying on the float. Our mutual choice was the
Alice, a. four-oared cedar skiff, sharp at both ends, but with
ample-seating accommodation for at least three persons. Our
reason for selecting this boat in preference to a larger one
which we had been in the habit of using on similar occasions
was that it was much lighter, and therefore we would be able
to make better headway, as we wished to return before midnight, on account of this being Saturday evening.
Launching the skiff, we stowed our luggage carefully below the seats, and then went in search of the necessary complement of oars. This proved a more laborious task than had
the finding of a boat, as the apartments in which the oars
were kept were all locked, and in consequence of this we were
obliged to resort to a large pile of culled oars and paddles at a
corner of the boat-house. However, after sorting and re-sorting this pile, we managed to get four oars, which, although
slivered and Cracked and otherwise imperfect, we concluded
would answer our purpose.
Returning to the boat, we tied each of the rowlocks with
a cord to the gunwale so as to prevent their loss in case they
should happen to jump out of place. This accomplished, we
took our positions in the boat, Mr. Brown as stroke, while I
manned the forward oars. As we pushed from the dock the
musical strains of a brass band floated over the waters, lending
apparently new zeal to the oars as they cut the water with
quickening stroke, sending phosphoric, glowing eddies whirling in rapid succession along the sides of our little craft.
The night air was clear and cold, yet we plied our oars
with a vengeance that soon sent the hot blood coursing
through our veins, and that made our frail skiff seem like a
thing of life as it bounded out into the darkness. One by one
the dim lights of the city faded from our view, until we
rounded Brockton Point, when suddenly the entire undulating
island of glittering arc-lights vanished from our view. - 67 -
A description of Vancouver's harbor and adjacent waters
at this juncture will best serve—unless already familiar with
the place—to give the reader a clearer understanding of the
course we took, and of our perilous situation on the occasion
of which I write.
Opening off the Gulf of Georgia, five miles north of the
Fraser's mouth, is a large, squarely-formed sheet of water
known as English Bay. The southern boundary of this bay is
formed by a wooded promontory of the mainland projecting
out into the gulf a distance of some seven miles, where it suddenly terminates in a rounded bluff called Point Grey. The
northern boundary—slightly concave—runs parallel to the
southern, which in appearance it closely resembles, except that
the land rapidly ascends from the water-line, until, only a few
miles back, it terminates in snow-capped peaks 4,700 feet
above the sea. The square face of the peninsula, on which
stands the city of Vancouver, extends nearly across the bay at
right angles to its sides, thus supplying its eastern boundary
and forming a bay five miles by seven in extent.
At the southeast corner of this bay the waters creep
through a narrow channel to the east a distance of some three
miles, forming a beautiful lagoon known as False Creek, while
at the northeast corner lies the entrance to the magnificent
land-locked harbor of Burrard Inlet. This harbor, or sound,
extends twelve miles eastward with an average breadth of
about two miles, while eight miles from its mouth, along the
north shore, a channel a mile in width runs four leagues to the
northward among jutting rocks and steep mountains, which in
places plunge almost perpendicularly into ninety-five fathoms
of cold, calm sea, remarkable for its transparency and mirrorlike surface.
The principal bays of the Inlet are situated on the south
shore, as the main channel and currents follow along the north
bank, rendering the coast line on that side comparatively
The waters enter Burrard Inlet through a narrow pass
scarcely a quarter of a mile in breadth, which gradually increases until Brockton Point is reached, half a league beyond.
Here the narrow neck of water suddenly becomes a spacious
bay, reaching nearly through the land to the south, and almost
unites with the waters of False Creek, thus forming the peninsula   on   which   the   city proper  is   erected.    Just   inside   of — 68
Brockton Point lies Dead Man's Island, while beyond this a
slender arm of the Inlet, known as Coal Harbor, forces its
way west toward English Bay, almost severing the triangular
point from the mainland. This small pear-shaped peninsula
comprises the famous Stanley Park, covering in extent some
nine hundred and fifty acres ; also the Brockton Point athletic
grounds, situated at its eastern extremity, and which on state
occasions are connected with the city by means of a steam
The waters of Burrard Inlet, including the North Arm,
cover an area, of about thirty-five square miles, and being tidewater, aTe raised and lowerea twice each day through the nar-
row channel that opens from English Bay. During the
shortest days of the year the tides are exceedingly low about
midnight ; then again during midsummer, when the days are
the longest, the tide reaches its lowest mark about noonday.
At these two periods af the year the rise and fall of the tide in
this harbor is close to fourteen feet, which causes the water as
it nears low mark to rush through the gateway with terrific
force for a couple of hours at each long tide. But during the
remainder of the twelve months, the variation being" consider-
ably less, the current is much reduced.
During the low tides in the midsummer of 1892, the hull
of the old Beaver rapidly disappeared as relic-seekers from far
and near visited the wreck, eager
ossess a souvenir of the
pioneer steamer. Also, during the month of December, when
on many nights James Menzies, Edward Brown and myself
rowed to the wreck and succeeded in getting almost everything which then remained worth carrying away, even to the
walking-beams, or oscillating levers. So that by the end of
the year nothing could be seen of the historic steamer Beaver
save at very low tide, as the hull had all been cut away except
a section of the bottom, on which rested a few chunks of iron
and a promiscuous pile of old furnace brick.
Included among these pieces of iron was the centre portion of the main shaft, a piece of forging about seven and a
half feet in length by six inches in diameter, with an 18-inch
crank at each end.    This shaft my companion, Mr. Brown,
regarded as one of the finest and
st valuable relics in the-
whole craft, and he desired very much to secure it as an interesting ornament to place on the lawn in front of his fine new
residence on Mount Pleasant, a suburb of the city. It'
69 —
Consequently, it was arranged that we should go out on
J. J * o o
New Year's eve and free this piece from the rest of the wreckage and get it in shape to fasten under a large boat, which we
intended to take out on the Monday night following. All
pieces of iron that were too heavy to put aboard the boat we
would fasten underneath by means of ropes passed around over
the top of the gunwale. Then as the tide would raise the
boat, the iron below would be floated, after which we could
row to the city, carrying in this way, with comparative ease,
pieces weighing many hundreds of pounds.    We had also de
cide,! to totally
there would then
fter, espe-
Iways accompanied
wreck after Monday night
J o
be very little left worth
dally at midnight, when the trios were a
by more or less hardship.
Strange to say, we never realized that our lives were in
danger, or at least I never did, although we had worked about
the wreck scores of times, when at certain stages of the tide
the waters would rush past us with awful force, then at other
times they would appear almost motionless.
The spot where the Beaver was wrecked is at the northwest corner of Stanley Park, just at the point where the
waters of English Bay enter Burrard Inlet, and where the
channel at very, low tide is scarcely more than two hundred
yards in width, while at its eastern extremity, opposite Brockton Point, it is neanly a mile across. This water pass is called
Lion Gate, or the First Narrows.
If you can picture the effect of thirty-five square miles of
water, fourteen feet in thickness, flowing through this channel
in six hours, then you will be able to grasp in a slight degree
the force of the current—especially opposite the point where
the remains of the Beaver lay—in which we struggled on the
night in question.
As we rounded Brockton Point and entered the Narrows,
our boat at each stroke of the oars seemed to fairly rise from
the water as it glided along in the strong tide. Despite the
fact that the night was dark, the centre of the channel appeared quite light when compared with the inky blackness on
either side, which was occasioned by the heavy, dark foliage
of the overhanging trees along the park side of the stream casting a lurid reflection over the channel, which completely
destroyed the water-line. This being obliterated, we were
unable to determine our rate of speed, as objects on the shore
V 'O
were undiscernible j had it been otherwise, it is very probable
that we would have seen our danger and ran the boat ashore,
where, by waiting until about the turn of the tide, we could
have continued our voyage with comparative safety.
A fine shell-Daved driveway follows on the brow of the
bank around Coal Harbor to Brockton Point ; thence west
along the Narrows to its mouth ; thence south along the shore
of English Bay back to the city. As it skirts the Narrows
many little ravines have been filled and small knolls leveled,
giving a graceful ascent to this magnificent road, as it grad-
ually-dses from the coiling waters, until, at an elevation of
two hundred and sixteen feet, directly above the spot where
the Beaver met her fate, Observation Point is gained. The
vertical rocky face of this sheer precipice forms a most befitting
monument in the background of the many photographs which
have been produced of this faithful old steamer—©nee the
pride of the great Hudson's Bay Company—as she quietly reposed in her last resting place. •
As our boat shot down the stream, the gently rising
ground on our right made it appear almost as though we were
sliding down a bank of water. Suddenly there was an opening in the trees, in the midst of which stood a small frame
building. This, although scarcely discernible, we at once
recognized as the storehouse at the south end of the submerged
city water pipe lines. As we swept past this clearing, which
at once gave us our bearings, and revealed the fact that only
a few hundred yards of the channel yet remained, a feeling of
uneasiness stole over me as I now fully realized that we were
in the clutch of a most terrific current.
Never before had we visited the wreck with lighter hearts.
" Like the swan that singeth before its death," my companion
had on this occasion seemed unusually cheerful and happy.
But the dawn of the transformation scene was already visible,
and as the curtain gradually lifted, a sense of seriousness
rapidly dispelled all merriment. "Our conversation, which
during most of the trip had been about the World's Columbian
Fair and the pleasant times we would spend together among
our friends and relatives in the East during the coming summer, was brought to a speedy termination as a rushing mass
of encircling foam struck the side of our little craft and
whirled it clear around before we were able to again head it
down the channel.
'his was the  first time that our Alice had been untrue to the oars, and, although no words were
spoken, I believe the sense of our perilous situation became
mutually apparent as we plunged on through the maddened
Just ahead was the Gateway, and on our right, like a
giant's keep, the dark, frowning cliff of Observation Point
towered far above the object of our quest, while out beyond
and away to the westward glittered the spray-decked waters
of the Gulf, as an indication that the moon had at last pierced
the heavy storm clouds that banked high the eastern horizon.
As we neared the fatal point, a gust of chilling sea-breeze
swept around the rocky bluff and lingered on our burning
cheeks. Turning my head slightly I cast an anxious glance
across the port bow in the direction of the wrecked steamer,
but it was only for an instant. I grasped the oars with a
firmer hand as I noticed a snowy wall of hissing foam—the
dreaded tide-rip—suddenly rise from the turbulent deep, as
though some unseen hand had, at a single sweep, gathered in
all the angry waves, and with these erected a formidable living
The boat gave a sudden lurch to starboard, and as I
turned round I was startled to see my companion lying on his
back against the gunwale, struggling to free himself from his
left oar, which had been accidentally caught in the whirling
tide, forcing the handle against his breast and thus holding
him in an almost helpless condition. Quick as thought I
jumped to the opposite side, in order to right the craft, but
without avail.
The boat shot broadside under the foaming bank, and
probably not more than a minute elapsed from the time it
listed until we had sunk completely beneath the tide, barely
giving me time to exclaim, " Hang on to the boat!" I shall
never, never forget the chilling, indescribable sensation that
passed over me as the stinging, breath-stealing water engulfed
us on that cold  December night.
. The brain at such times must indeed be very active. A
thousand different things appeared to rush through it at almost
the same time ; but despite all this confusion, something kept
telling me to hold on to the boat, and this I at once determined to do at all hazard.
In an instant the unbroken panorama of childhood scenes
was floating across my vision.    As a boy I had often listened
! ••>
\% with deep interest to my father—a man experienced in boating
and sailing—relate stories of how different men had lost their
lives in the many lake disasters through attempting to swim
ashore, instead of clinging to the floating wreck. The most
striking of these which I now recall to mind was in connection
with the loss of the schooner Mary Ann Rankin, which was
wrecked on Sugar Loaf reef, Lake Erie, about a league west
of Port Colborne light, on October 31st, 1870.
It was a stormy day, he used to tell us, and the wind
fairly screamed in the rigging of the fleet of storm-bound ships
that huddled together in the little harbor. Many a mariner's
glass scanned cautiously the foaming lake, and many a fervent
prayer, no doubt, was borne away by the chilling gusts, as
they swept through the little village. But soon intense excitement prevailed ; villagers and seamen alike faced the sand-
driving storm and hurried westward along the surf-ridden
shore. There on the reef in the offing, a prey to the wind and
the waves, lay a helpless ship, with here and there about the
spray-wrapped hulk the clinging form of a seaman. We
couldn't see the poor boys perish out there without an attempt
to save them, so though the sea ran wild and high, I called
for volunteers to man the lifeboat, said my father, and at once
four trusty-looking chaps stepped to the front. These were
John Cooke, Walter Evans, John Stanhouse and Alexander
Plow anxiously every movement of the boat was watched
as we beat our way through the cold surf toward the fated
ship. But it was all to no purpose, and after making the
second attempt we gave up in despair, for, do our best, we
couldn't force the swamped boat against the broken sea which
swept over us. Soon, however, the lifeboat was again seen
to leave the shore and plunge wildly through the foaming billows, but this time it was manned by a fresh crew, Alexander
McGregor alone excepted. Right into the teeth of the freezing gale they forced the little craft, but the wreck they never
reached. And as the southwest storm at length tossed the
upturned boat upon the shore, about a mile to leeward, it
brought back but one of its crew—he alone had stuck by it
and was saved. Of the vessel's crew all except the woman
cook, who had been washed overboard before the vessel struck
the reef, were rescued, for they bravely clung to their stranded
ship until she went to pieces,  then they sought refuge on a — 73 —
portion of the hull, which finally drifted over the rocks into
the bay, where, the sea being less boisterous, they were soon
reached with a yawl.
Just west of the quaint old village of Port Colborne, upon
a little mound of sand, protected from the storms by a cluster
of scraggy cedars and spreading shrubs of juniper, stands, or
did when the writer used to bat ball round the old stone
schoolhouse, a neatly carved slab of marble, erected by grateful people to the memory of E. H. Samuelson, Alexander
McGregor and another whose name I've forgotten—three
heroic lads who gave their lives for their fellows.
At such times a man who can swim is apt to take chances
and to place too much confidence in his ability as a swimmer,
and this is probably the greatest reason why so many good
swimmers lose their lives by drowning. So although I had
learned to swim when a mere child and was always considered
a fair swimmer by the boys at the port where I was reared, I
now regarded my situation as fatal should. I even attempt it.
To let go of the boat meant that I could not hope to again
catch it, as the eddies were almost sure to take it in one direction while I would be forced in another.
The boat sank very rapidly and seemed to be forced by a
down current, and although it turned upside down, which allowed all the luggage to fall out, with the exception of a crowbar, which was afterwards found sticking under the seats, it
was some time before it rose to the surface. As we neared
the top I could just make out that my friend was standing upright on the bottom of the boat. Like myself, no doubt, the
poor fellow thought that we were being carried along in the
under-current, and that possibly by standing on the boat he
might be able to reach his head above water and "thus find relief. Fully realizing that this was a most dangerous position,
and that at any time he was apt to be swept away by the
rushing waters, I endeavored to catc"h hold of him, but before
I could crawl along the keel to where he stood the boat came
to the surface. As it did Mr. Brown dropped down and
caught hold of it. There was no time to speak, scarcely to
gasp, then we were a second time submerged beneath the roaring torrent. By the transparency and feel of the water I
fancied that this time we were being forced up stream by a
back current at no great distance below the surface.
****** '4
In my boyhood days I used to practice diving a great
deal, and often had my playmates time me to see how long I
could remain under the water without breathing, little dreaming that the time was coming when my life would depend upon
it. Perhaps an explanation of how, in my estimation, this is
best accomplished might be the means of saving some one's
life, although I trust the reader may never have occasion to
practically require this advice. Should you fall into the water,
draw in all the air your lungs are capable of holding, then
close your mouth, and as you sink below the surface be as
sparing of your breath as possible, allowing it to escape
through tjae nose by degrees only as necessity compels. Keep
the lips tightly compressed so as not to admit any water, and
work your throat as though in the act of swallowing. When
the lungs are inflated, or even partly so, it is comparatively an
easy matter to rise to the surface, and this in most instan ces
may be accomplished by simply pawing with the hands and
treading with the feet, then gasp a fresh breath and you are
prepared for the next struggle. My opinion is that a person,
although unable to swim, might exist some time in the water
by carrying out this plan, and much longer than under ordinary circumstances.
It was on"* this particular point that the celebrated English
swimmer, Captain James Webb, placed so much reliance in
his bold attempt to pass through the Niagara whirlpool rapids
in the summer of 1883. In conversation with a gentleman
just before he started, he is claimed to have said : " If I can
only manage to come to the surface at intervals of not more
than five minutes, I think I shall have no difficulty in getting
through." If Captain Webb could remain under the water
five minutes without breathing, he must have been an extraordinary man, as the great' majority of people, according to my
experience, would find three minutes quite sufficient. Still,
we are told that such a thing is possible, as some of the pearl-
fishers have accomplished it. However, whether the great
swimmer overrated his staying qualities, or was dashed to
death against sunken rocks, no person can truthfully say, yet
the fact remains that some time later his lifeless body was
rescued from the river below. ,
I might also say, before resuming my narrative, that many
persons are of the opinion that a boat will sink as soon as it
fills with water. But this is a mistake, as a wooden boat will
not sink unless it is forced down by an eddy or something of o
the like, and even then it will rise to the surface sooner or
later. Of course, should the boat contain a cargo, ballast, or
machinery of a sinkable nature, it would undoubtedly go to
the bottom unless it should happen to turn over and dump its
burden. .If a small boat containing two persons should capsize, in most cases it would be safest for its occupants to crawl
to the opposite ends, as there they would have better control
and not be so apt to lose their hold by the boat rolling over.
They should also, in most instances, endeavor to keep the
boat upside down, as a certain amount of air nearly always
remains under a craft when in this position, which serves materially to counteract their own weight when resting on the
boat's bottom.
It seemed  as
Still, although my
T-iru-iv    ha(}
* * * *
though  our little skiff would never rise.
breath was about exhausted and I thought
my last hour had come, I resolved to drown clinging to the
boat, as holding to this seemed my only possible chance of
escape. But, to my intense relief, the boat at last rose to the
surface, when to my utter disappointment I discovered that
my friend was missing. Sweeping a longing glance in every
direction, my sight was suddenly arrested by the struggles of
my companion in an eddy a short distance away, only still
nearer the centre of the wild flood. There was something so
heartrending, so intensely sad about the ghastly pale face as it
struggled for life in the midst of that awful current that for
many months after it haunted me in my dreams.
He seemed to realize that I was powerless to assist him
and to prefer spending his last moments in silent supplication,
rather than waste them in shouting for aid ; for no doubt he
well realized that his moments in this life were rapidly drawing
to a close, and that it would be madness to expect human help
to reach him in that secluded spot before the spark of life had
No beseeching cry for help escaped his lips, only the
simple question : " Have you got the boat?" This I answered
in the affirmative, and endeavored to cheer him up as best I
could by offering encouraging words, while at the same time I
did all in my power to take the upturned boat to him by laying flat down and using my hands as paddles. He then
seemed to put forth an almost superhuman effort to reach it,
but with little effect, as the effort only appeared to kindle the 76
anger of the elements in their fiendish purpose. The breeze
now blowing against the whirling tide lashed it into a foam,
in.which, without assistance, no ordinary man, much less one
little accustomed to the sea, could long expect to survive, especially when he had on a long pair of heavy rubber boots and
unusually heavy clothing.
As the heartless waters forced him back an exclamation
of utter hopelessness broke in trembling, choking accents from
his lips. My very blood seemed to freeze and reason itself to
almost depart, as this last despairing cry, " Oh my ! oh my !"
piercecQhe night and awoke the echoes of that dismal place.
Then the merciless sea swallowed up my dear friend, to never
again be seen in life, nor yet scarcely in death ; for a strange
mystery lurks about the deep, ever-changing waters of this
channel, which suggests the sad thought to ever prey upon
the minds of the bereaved friends that, in all likelihood, the
remains of the lost and loved one must ever wander in its
watery shroud, tossed and restless in the cradle of the deep,
until that great day when the sea and the earth shall give up
their dead. Seldom, very seldom, is the body of an unfortunate who sinks into the cold embrace of these waters, to meet
death at ebb tide ever recovered. And within the memory of
the oldest white inhabitant on these shores a number of
Europeans have lost their lives here, while many a poor Indian
has been snatched by the coiling waters from his chiseled
canoe and hurried away to the " happy hunting ground."
'Tis hard to see one's friend perishing almost within reach
and be powerless to help him ; and I think now how truthfully
I speak when I say that reason almost forsook me, because
several times I was on the very verge of leaving that which I
realized as my only safety, if even such it was, and swimming
to the assistance of my struggling friend. And once when I
noticed how fruitless my attempts to reach him were, I raised
partly up on the boat and stretched out my hands to make the
plunge, and had my friend at that moment called to me for
help I believe that I would no longer have listened to reason,
but have gone to his aid, in which case the world, in all probability, would never have known the true story of our fate.
Was it to relieve me from the terrible scene that an eddy
at this moment seized the boat and dragged me beneath the
surface, restoring to no small degree the sense of my own
perilous   situation ?    I  was now  left  alone  to  battle single- 77 —
handed with the cruel waves, which, as I once more rose to
the surface, seemed to laughingly congregate and dance with
heartless glee about the spot where my companion had succumbed. Several times after this the boat was forced down,
but I always managed to retain my hold until it again came to
the top.
Although probably not more than a hundred feet off the
land and wrecked steamer when the boat first swamped, I had
at once been swept out into the bay, where soon the eddies
ceased to be. Then, as I lay there astride the upturned boat,
gazing longingly at the fast receding shore, my situation, I
assure you, was far from pleasant and one not easily pictured.
Little fleecy clouds scudded across the grey distant moon
as it looked down in pity upon the desolate scene. Above the
roar of the waters the only sounds that at first reached my
ear were the mocking echoes of my own frantic cries for help ;
but presently these were joined by the low pitiful wail of a
foxhound on the mountain side. Gradually the sounds
weakened until they were finally lost in the murmuring surf.
I knew that it would be several hours before I could hope to
be driven ashore by the return tide, and as my blood had already become chilled, I fully realized that unless assistance
came I must soon perish in the torturing icy waves which ever
and anon broke over me.
Just as the last hope was dying in my heart, a surging
breaker swept past, and as I struggled to retain my numbing
grasp on the boat it was turned over, when, to my great surprise, I discovered an oar still hanging in one of the loose rowlocks. How it was that I did not notice this when the boat
was right side up before, and how that forked piece of iron
managed to retain its slender hold on the oar until then is a
mystery which to me will possibly never be satisfactorily explained. As I thankfully seized the oar and climbed inside
the boat it sank until the gunwale was some little distance below the surface, but by standing a trifle past the centre the
bow rose above the water and served as a helm. Thus with
the water to my waist, and using the welcome oar for a paddle,
which also served to keep my blood in circulation, I headed
for the nearest land, and if ever a fellow worked to save his
life I did.
As the joyful sound of the keel grating on the rocks at
length reached my ear I bounded into the water and dragged
±2 - 78 -
the boat after me until I reached the shore. My legs had become deadened with the cold, and as I staggered out on the
bank it was with the greatest difficulty that I at first managed
to stand. But as long as there is hope there seems to be
strength, so, determined on not- giving up, I groped my way
over rough boulders and driftwood until the home of John
Thomas, a rancher on the north shore of English Bay, was
finally reached. As I approached the gate the savage bark of
a watch-dog aroused the family, and as the door opened a
cheerful gleam of warm light pierced the gloomy darkness.
Reeling through the doorway, the most welcome I had
ever seen, I fell exhausted into a large arm chair, just as the
unspoken word "safe" buzzed in my ear. All through
the remainder of that long night I laid in a semi-conscious
condition, with cold drops of perspiration creeping over my
feverish body, ready to start at the sea-gull's momentary
scream, which at intervals rang out above the ceaseless moaning surf; and often as those unearthly yells would sound on
the still night I would partly awake only to find myself upon
a couch, in a half-sitting posture, staring wildly into the darkness, and not until I had looked for some length into the grate
of smouldering embers by my side, and around at the dim
walls of the cozy apartment, could I be convinced that I had
not heard my friend's beseeching cry.
As the first sun of the New Year shed its gladdening
radiance across the jewel-crowned Cascades, flooding with
grandeur the opulent valleys of the West, I bade the kind
people adieu with a grateful heart, and embarked once more
in the Alice, which had been brought up to the landing and
provided with an additional oar. It was now flood tide, and
as I rowed along the shore, telling those I chanced to meet of
the sad accident and requesting a search for the body, everything seemed transformed ; the flurried bay was now a calm
expanse of sparkling sea, while the tempestuous gorge had
become a tranquil strait, beautiful beyond compare. Yet a
shudder stole over me as I passed through the deceitful,
treacherous waters into the harbor.
The chiming church bells pealed forth their pathetic note
of welcome just as I delivered to the city and my lost companion's bereaved and crushed family the sad missive which
sent with lightning flash across the continent a fatality
to head the press casualty column for 1893.   Yes, a message to — 79 —
tick into the little way station of Hewitt, Ont., then enter an
old farm homestead by the Chippawa, there to hush the merriment of the festive season and cause the eyes of an aged
mother to grow heavy beneath the weight of unshed tears.
' In the drowning of poor Ed. Brown I lost one of the best
friends I ever had, a brother except by kin, and only death itself can erase the memories of that true mutual friendship.
We were born and reared only a few miles apart, almost within roar of old Niagara, and since meeting in the West had,
quite naturally, become fast friends.
I still keep as a treasure the faithful old oar which so
mysteriously appeared to rescue my life on that memorable
New Year's eve, and as I write this true narrative it is looking
down from the wall as a witness to my experience on that fatal
night.    - 83 -
Important Developments in Steam  Since  its
Introduction in   1769.
(Carefully Compiled from Various Authentic Records.)
T IS NOW universally acknowledged that the history of
the practical steam engine dates from James Watt's im-.
provements and inventions in  1769.     There are, however, many instances of experiments with steam prior to this
date, but for these the world is little wiser.
Perhaps the first event in this connection worthy of note
took place on October 14th, 1788, when Messrs. Miller &
Taylor exhibited a small double boat, with a paddle-wheel in
the interspace, on a lake on Miller's estate in Scotland. The
boat, it appears, was driven by a steam engine with 4-inch
brass cylinders. This experiment demonstrated the fact that
steam as a motive power might be successfully employed in
large craft.
In 1803 Mr. Symington built a steam-tug called the
Charlotte Dundas, which he intended to use as a tow-boat
on the Forth and Clyde canal, but the agitation of the water
caused by the large paddle-wheels was so injurious to the clay
banks that the vessel was tied up and the scheme designated
as a failure. There seems to be a difference of opinion regarding this vessel. Some authorities claim that she had a large
stern-wheel; still the preponderance of evidence would seem
to indicate that she was propelled by side paddle-wheels.
In 1804 Richard Trevethick exhibited a steam carriage
on the Mertyr-Tydvil tramway in Wales. The wheels of this
locomotive were provided with a^ cogged rim to work on a
corresponding track along the rails, and with this contrivance
he managed to haul some ten tons of bar-iron loaded in wagons
at the rate of about five miles per hour. Trevethick's locomotive carriage appears to be the first of which there is any
record, and although the experiment seems to have been quite
successful, there was but little accomplished in steam railroading until 1829.
^j - 84-
Robert Fulton, an American citizen, and a man of splendid practical ideas, while on a tour abroad visited the unfortunate Charlotte Dundas, it seems, and obtained drawings
of her machinery. Pie shortly afterwards returned home with
a 20-horse power engine, made by the English firm of Boulton
& Watt, and, with the assistance of Robert Livingstone, constructed a vessel at New York called the Clermont.
In 1807 this steamer made a passage up the Pludson
river from New York to Albany, which is regarded as the first
successful voyage by steamer, and as a result the name of
RoberFFulton has been immortalized.
In 1812 Robert Bell, a Scotchman, ran a small steamer
called the Comet as a pleasure boat between Glasgow and
Greenock, on the Clyde. This side-wheel steamer was propelled by a lever engine of 4-horse power, and attained a speed
of about six miles an hour. Bell is thus looked upon as the
father of steam navigation in Britain.
In 1814 John Walter, proprietor of the London Tunes
newspaper, concluded to try steam printing. Two presses,
that could be worked by steam, were consequently placed on
the premises adjoining the main press-rooms. These presses
were capable of turning out some 1,100 impressions per hour,
instead of 250 as formerly, and were the invention of Frederick
Koenig, a German. The trial was successful, and accordingly,
on November 28th, 1814, the public were informed that the
Times of that date was the first newspaper ever printed by
steam-propelled machinery.
In 1820, it seems,? a service of steam packets was established for the first time between Holyhead and Dublin.
In 1829 George Stephenson ran  his famous "Rocket'
locomotive  over  a  line   of railway just   completed   between
Liverpool and Manchester.    This event marked the beginning
of great achievements for the steam engine.
In 1833 a line of railway was constructed in America, between Charleston and Hamburg, South Carolina, when over
this road, it seems, the United States mail was for the first
time transmitted by steam. At the end of this same year some
380 miles of steam railroad had been constructed in the
United States, where some of the earliest experiments to
utilize steam instead of animal power on short railroads were
made. -85
On August 29th, 1835, the Hudson's Bay Company's
steam packet Beaver left London for the Columbia river, on
the west coast of America. This vessel, equipped with two
lever engines of 35 horse-power each, was under command
of Captain David Plome, and was accompanied by the bark
Columbia, which also belonged to the same Company. Proceeding by way of Cape liorn, they put into Juan Fernandez
on December 17th of the same year, and then headed for the
North Pacific, arriving together safely at their destination on
April 4th,   1836.     (See Lloyd's Records for 1835-6.)
On July 23rd, 1836, the Champlain & St. Lawrence Railway—the first in Canada—was formally opened by Earl Gos-
ford. The line extended from St. Johns to La Prairie, a distance of some fourteen miles, over which the first train passed
on July 24th of the same year.
On April 4th, 1838, the Sirius sailed from Cork, and on
the 8th of the same month the steamship Great Western left
Bristol. Both vessels were bound for the American seaport of
New York, where they arrived at nearly the same time on
April 23rd. The year 1838 is thus .a notable one, as from it
dates the history proper of the Atlantic steam ferry, of which
the side-wheel steamers Sirius and Great Western are gen-
erally regarded as the pioneers, and to the latter apparently is
due the honor of being the first to~make nearly, if not quite,
the entire transatlantic passage under steam.
In 1841-3 the Rattler was constructed for the British
Admiralty, and was the first ship-of-war equipped with a screw
propeller. This ship was constructed under the superintend-
dency of Sir I. K. Brunei, who was at the same time overseeing the construction of the Great Britain^ the first vessel of
serviceable dimensions built of iron, and also one of the first
to be fitted with a screw propeller. The screw propeller seems
to have been first introduced in 1837, when Captain Ericsson,
with a sriiall steam vessel propelled by a screw of his own invention, towed the Admiralty barge Toronto from Somerset
House to Blackwall on the Thames.
In 1843 Mr. Nasmyth, proprietor of the Bridgewater
Foundry, near Manchester, England, built a steam hammer,
as the result of an increasing demand for heavy forgings for
use in steamships, then fast taking the place of sailing vessels.
After testing this new invention, it was found that a contriv-
yv — 86 -
ance other than the ordinary slide-valve and lever was required,
in order to secure complete command over the power of the
blow. Mr. Nasmyth, after making several unsuccessful attempts to overcome this difficulty, was about to abandon the
hammer scheme when Mr. Robert Wilson, his engineering
manager, came to his relief with a beautiful mechanical motion. This invention was attached to the hammer and found
to work admirably, as every variety of blow could be given
without further difficulty. In developing the great resources
of thejron trade, the steam hammer as an invention has doubtless contributed more than any other of modern times.
On May ioth, 1853, the Genova, of 350 tons burden,
from Liverpool, steamed up the wk Lawrence river and entered the port of Montreal, Canada. This vessel was the
property of the Canadian Steam Navigation Company, which
was the first company to run a line of ocean steamships into
On January 31st, 1858, the Great Eastern slid down the
ways into the Thames river. This vessel was built for the
Eastern Steam Navigation Company, to be used as a passenger and freight steamer between England and Australia, and
was constructed with a view to carrying 2,000 passengers,
5,000 tons of merchandise and 15,000 tons of coal for fuel.
The ship was planned by Sir I. K. Brunei and built by Mr.
Scott Russell, her dimensions being as follows : Length, 680
feet between perpendiculars, 'or 692 feet over all ; breadth, 83
feet, or 118 over paddle-boxes ; height of hull, 60 feet, or 70
to top of bulwarks. This massive steamship was provided
with side paddle-wheels 56 feet in diameter, while at the end
of a shaft 160 feet in length, by 24 inches in thickness, was a
screw propeller with a swing of 24 feet. The paddle engines,
four in number, had cylinders of 14 feet stroke and 74 inches
diameter, while the four screw engines (Boulton & Watt's
make) had cylinders of 4 feet stroke and 84 inches in diameter.
Four funnels, 100 feet in height, penetrated her decks from
the ten boilers below, while the masts, six in number, carried
about 7,000 yards of canvas as auxiliary to the steam power.
Pier directors concluded to send her across the Atlantic on a
trial trip, and accordingly, on September 8th, 1859, this great
leviathan moved seaward from the Thames. But before proceeding far an explosion of steam-pipes took place in which
seven persons were killed, and thus ended the first trip.   After -87-
remaining in port several months receiving extensive repairs,
a second attempt was made. Leaving Southampton on June
17th, i860, the Great Eastern again pointed her nose westward, and, after eleven days' steaming, reached New York in
safety on the 28th. The only bright spot in the history of the
Great Eastern was the laying of the first really serviceable
Atlantic cable between Valentia Bay and Newfoundland,
which she successfully accomplished on July 27th, 1866.
In 1873 the screw steamer City of Richmond, of 4,780
tons register, was constructed : length, 440 feet; breadth, 43
feet, with engines of 700 nominal horse-power. This steamship cut the Atlantic passage down to a little less than eight
days, which at that time was considered quite phenomenal.
Since then the growth of the Atlantic ferry has been marvellous. Year after year the arrival of some new steamship would
be reported as having clipped a few hours off the record of any
previous passage, until the press of September 1st, 1894, announced to the world that the big ocean greyhound Lucania
had arrived in New York from Oueenstown, having made the
run between the two points, Daunt's Rock and Sandy Hook,
in 5 days, 8 hours and 38 minutes, thus breaking the record of
any previous voyage.
Perhaps the first attempt to navigate the outside waters
of the Atlantic with a vessel propelled by steam was made in
1818 or 1819, when the American ship Savannah sailed from
New York to Savannah, or possibly New Orleans. Apparently, the vessel was a three-masted full-rigged sailing ship of
about 350 tons burden, and was constructed at New York in
1818 to be used as a sailing packet between that city and
Havre, France. But through the influence of her commander,
it seems, a firm of Southern merchants were induced to purchase the ship and to place an engine on board, together with
a pair of small detachable paddle-wheels, which might be put
out and used to advantage in case of light or head winds.
The vessel then made a cruise south along the American seaboard, during which it is quite evident the engine was used to
some extent as a means of propulsion, and owing to this it
would seem the Savannah has by some been called a steamship—a somewhat comprehensive term for a craft of her type.
Soon afterwards the vessel made a passage from Savannah to
England and return,  during  which the  paddle-wheels  may
■-& — 88 —
possibly have been used on one or more occasions to assist the
sails, although there seems to be no authentic records to substantiate this.
That this attempt to utilize steam as an auxiliary motive
power on board ocean sailing ships was only an experiment,
and that the experiment was a failure, is quite apparent, as it
seems the steam apparatus was taken ashore and applied to
other purposes after being aboard the vessel but a short time.
The Savannah then continued to run as a sailing packet between New York and southern American ports until wrecked
some three years later. Doubtless the fact that this attempt
to employ steam in such a temporary manner was at that time
not considered an event of much importance accounts for their
not now being in existence, so far as known, any reliable
drawings or descriptions of the craft But some patriotic enthusiasts have recently endeavored to supply this deficiency by
having an illustration of a steamship engraved to correspond
with their idea of what the Savannah was, or at least should
have been. And it is to be regretted that anyone who attempts
to write for public enlightenment should perform the task
so poorly and with so little regard for the truth, as has been
exhibited of late in accounts pertaining to this vessel. One of
these articles, accompanied by an imaginary steamship,
recently published in several newspapers, shows clearly the
object for which it was written, namely, to claim for the
United States the honor of being the first country to inaugurate
a transatlantic steamship line. The Savannah did not cross
the Atlantic under steam from New York. But that the
American people as a nation do not regard the Savannah's
history as of any special interest, or, quite probably, do not
regard her as a steamship at all, especially in connection with
the transatlantic passage, and have, therefore, no wish to claim
any such honor, is quite obvious, as it seems no record of the
event or of the vessel's history has been preserved in the
national archives.
Following this experiment, some twelve years later, in
1830-1, the Royal William, a three-masted schooner, was
built at the city of Quebec, Canada. This vessel, after being
equipped some time later with engines and paddle-wheels at
the port of Montreal, made a voyage in 1833 across the Atlantic to Europe, where she ever after remained. It would
seem that the steam was applied as a means of propulsion for 8q
a portion of the ocean trip, a
chinery, when
nd until a break-down in the ma-
only a short time at sea, necessitated, in all
probability, the entire use of the sails for the remainder of
the voyage. After her arrival in Europe she underwent some
important changes, which, when completed, sent her afloat
as a steamer of war.
In searching through a journal, entitled The B eoftle's
Magazine, which had its branch publishing house in Quebec
at the time the Royal William left, we find that no reference
whatever is made to this vessel in any of its numbers—a full
set of which we have from February of that year, 1833. This
would seem to indicate that the Royal William's steam-gearing was only regarded as auxiliary when she sailed from Quebec
for England, as otherwise more importance would have been
attached to such an event as the Atlantic being crossed for the
first time by a steamship, and the occurrence should undoubtedly, and I think would have been, noted in this journal, as
much information of a like nature is to be found in its pages.
But as the engines and paddle-wheels of the Royal William
appear to have been of a somewhat permanent character, and
to have served the vessel as a means of propulsion after her
arrival in Europe, she is undoubtedly entitled to some degree
of recognition in connection with the Atlantic passage.
After an elapse of two more years we find another ship
navigating Atlantic waters with, apparently, steam as an
auxiliary. This ship was called the Caj)e Breton, and it seems
she sailed from Sydney, Cape Breton, and arrived at Plymouth
on August 2nd, 1835, according to Lloyd's list of entries for
that year.
Just here I wish to say that at the time the .first Beaver
medals were issued the evidence then possessed concerning
early ocean voyages of vessels classified as steamships was of
such a reliable character as seemingly to justify the claim made
thereon, that \' the Beaver was the first steamer to cross the
Atlantic." But previous to getting out the next design,
information had been collected relative to the Royal William,
which, although meagre, was of such a nature that it was
deemed best to state only the date on which the Beaver
crossed—preferring to be on the safe side—and to issue the
medals in this way until full authentic data concerning the
Royal William could be procured.
Shortly afterwards the Canadian authorities and historical
"5 — 90 —
societies took steps in the matter, which finally resulted in the
placing of a brass tablet in the corridor leading from the House
of Commons reading-room to the Library. This commemorative tablet was formally unveiled on June 28th, 1894, just at
the close of the first day's session of the great Intercolonial
Conference, which was held at the city of Ottawa at that time.
As the large assemblage was about to disperse, His Excellency
the Governor-General read the following letter, which he had
receivecLfrom the secretary of the Royal Society :
"Ottawa, Ont., June 26th, 1894.
"To His Excellency the Governor-General ;
" My Lord—The two houses of the Canadian Parliament
have ordered that a brass tablet should be placed in the wall
of the corridor leading to the library of Parliament, with a
suitable inscription, f commemorating the departure of the
Royal William from the port of Quebec in 1833—the first
vessel to cross the ocean by means of steam.'
"Your Excellency is already familiar with the leading
circumstances connected with this interesting historical fact.
The brass plate ordered by Parliament is now ready to be put
in place, and it is felt that no more fitting time could be chosen
than at the close of the opening meeting of the colonial conference. On behalf of the Royal Society and associated societies—who were the first to move in doing honor to the
builders and navigators of the Royal William—I express the
hope that your Excellency will be pleased to place the commemorative plate in its permanent position. If it be agreeable
to your Excellency, I enclose the list of gentlemen who it is
thought desirable should witness the proceedings :
"The delegates to the conference, the speakers of the
Senate and Commons, Cabinet ministers, Mr. Gustavus Wick-
steed, who saw the Royal William launched 63 years ago
and took passage in her during the trial trip ; Mr. Horace
Wicksteed, who boarded the Royal William on her arrival
in England and dined with the captain ; representatives of the
Royal Society and associated societies.  I have the honor to be,
" Your Excellency's most faithful servant,
"   . G. Bourinot."
This concluded, the National Anthem was sung, after
which the gathering dispersed, the invited guests immediately 9i —
repairing to the corridor, where His Excellency Lord Aberdeen, Governor-General of Canada, performed the ceremony.
Before unveiling the tablet His Excellency remarked that he
hoped the colonial visitors would not begrudge Canadians a
little self-gratification to-day. It was a matter of pride to
Canadians that the first ocean steamship was built in Canada.
The occasion was all the more memorable through the presence with them of Mr. G. Wicksteed, who was present at the
launching of the Royal Willia?n and was on board of her on
the trial trip. Mr. Wicksteed was born in the closing years of the
last century, and he might safely be called " the man of the century." He hoped Mr. Wicksteed might live until the twentieth
century. His brother, Major Wicksteed, was in England at
the time the Royal William arrived there, and was acquainted
with the captain and officers. It was a great pleasure to him
to greet these gentlemen and ask them to address the gathering.
Mr. G. Wicksteed then briefly spoke, recalling pleasant
reminiscences connected with the launch of the vessel. As he
concluded his remarks, three hearty cheers for the Queen
brought the meeting to a close.
Concerning the Royal William's history, I have to thank
Dr. Bourinot, C. M. G., D. C. L., Clerk of the House of
Commons, for favoring me with the following extract copied
from the report of the Library Committee, which report was
presented to the Canadian House of Parliament in June, 1894.
1. "The first steamship to cross the Atlantic was built
bv a ioint stock company at the yard of Campbell & Black, in
a joint stocis.
Quebec, in the year 1830-]
2.     "The designer of
the ship and superintendent of its
ames Goudie,  born in Quebec 1809,
construction was Mr
and who died 1892.
3. "This ship was launched in the spring of 1831 with
more than ordinary ceremony. The governor of the Province,
Lord Aylmer, was present with his staff, the military authori
ties and the band of the 32nd Regiment,
"he  event was
further honored by the presence of Lady Aylmer, who, in the
customary manner, gave the vessel the name of the Royal
William, after King William IV.-, then on the throne.
4. "The ship was towed to Montreal to receive her machinery, and on being fitted for sea her first voyage was to
Halifax.    Before setting out for England she traded between 92
"Ten days after her arrival in London she was char-
Quebec,   Halifax   and   Boston.      She   was  the  first   British"
steamer to arrive at the latter port.
5. " In the list of owners appear the names of the three
brothers, Joseph, Henry and Samuel Cunard of Halifax.
6. "Her dimensions were: Length, 160 feet; hold, 17
feet 9 inches ; breadth outside, 44 feet ; breadth between pad-
i die-boxes, 28 feet. She had three masts, schooner-rigged ;
builder's measurement, 1,370 tons, with accommodation for
60 passengers.
7. "She left Quebec for London August 5th, 1833,
called at Pictou, Nova Scotia, to receive coal and overhaul
machinery. She re-started from Pictou August 18th with
seven passengers, 254 chaldrons of coal and a light cargo. She
encountered a terrific gale on the banks of Newfoundland
Wihich disabled one of her engines. The passage from Pictou
to London occupied 25 days.
tered by the Portuguese government to enter the service of
Dom Pedro as a troopship.
9. " In 1834 she was sold to the Spanish government,
was converted into a war steamer, and under the new name of
Isabel Secunda was employed against Dom Carlos. A letter
from the well-known Alexander Somerville, who, as he tells
us, joined the British Legion and became a color-sergeant,
appeared in the Toronto Globa May 15th, 1876. This letter
describes an incident which came under his own observation
May 5th, 1836, off St. Sebastian, Bay of Biscay. Mr. Somerville remarks that the Canadian-built ship Isabel Secunda (originally the Royal William) 'was the first steamer-of-war in
the history of nations to deliver a hostile shot.'
10. " After an eventful service for some years, she was'
sent to Bordeaux for repairs, when her timbers were found to
be somewhat decayed. The engines, however, were in serviceable condition, and were transferred, to anew vessel, a
second Isabel Secunda, to form part of the Spanish navy.
What was left of the original Royal William remained a hulk
in the French port."
Thus it seems the Royal William crossed the Atlantic
nearly two years previous to the Beaver's departure from
England. Still the question as to whether or not she was
classed as a steamship at that time seems to be a point for
argument.    But as stated heretofore, I have no wish to claim — 93 —
anything more for the Beaver than is justly due her, and as
this technical point is and perhaps always will remain in dispute, rather than appear prejudiced, I prefer to add to the
claim that "the Beaver was the first steamer to cross the Atlantic" the words, " to America," which will perhaps be more
satisfactory to all concerned, as the claim will then be beyond
question. From the following clippings from a couple of
recent newspapers it would seem that Europeans, or at least
some of them, maintain that the Beaver was the first steamer
to cross the Atlantic. But perhaps this is not very reliable
authority, as they say 163 days was the time occupied in the
passage, when in reality some 219 days elapsed from the time
the Beaver left England until she arrived at her destination.
This, however, includes all stops.
Le Premier Steamer Transatlantique.—II y a pres
de soixante ans qu,e le steamer Beaver, construit par la Hudson's Bay Company anglaise, descendait la Tamise pour
entreprendre la traversee de l'Ocean. C'etait le premiere
navire qui osait hasarder la traversee de l'Ocean pour l'Ame-
rique. La duree du trajet fut de cent toixante-trois jours. II
aborda heureusement a Astoria, dans I'Oregon.
Le navire mesurait 101 pieds de long sur 20 de large ; son
tirant d'eau etait de 11^5 pieds de profondeur et son tonnage
mesurait 109^. Les chaudieres avaient ete construites a Birmingham. Les machines avaient coute 4,5co livres st. et
avaient un poids de 52 tonnes.—Baris Le Temfts.
The First Transatlantic Steamer.—About sixty
years ago the steamer Beaver, built by the Hudson's Bay
Company, steamed down the Thames on its ocean voyage. It
was the first steamer that dared to attempt to cross the ocean
to America. The time occupied in the passage was 163 days.
It landed safely at Astoria, in Oregon.
She measured 101 feet in length "by 20 feet beam ; its
draught was 11^5 feet, and its tonnage 109^. The boilers
were made in Birmingham. The engines cost £4,500, and
weighed fifty-two tons.—London Tit-Bits.
Then again we find that even the Beaver, as well as the
Royal William, is overlooked and entirely neglected in connection with the transatlantic passage, as instance the following
extract from a very extensive work, published in 1850 by
Blackie & Sons, London, England.   This work is called "The
S'  \
J>    i
* w.
> *H| — 94 —
Engineer and Machinist's Assistant," and contains much information of interest on subjects akin to its title, besides giving
accounts of nearly all the exDerimental testing in steam naviga-
tion in the British navy previous to the year 1850.
(Vol. I, page 20.) "The applicability of steam both for
river and sea navigation was now thoroughly established, and
steamers rapidly increased in size, power and numbers."
Great Western, A.D. 1838. "The only step which now
remained to be accomplished was to cross the Atlantic, which
was first effected in 1838 by the Great Western."
Now it is not a little singular that this emphatic statement should be found in a work compiled by men apparently well versed in the early history of steam navigation,
and published, too, so soon after these events transpired, and
consequently at a time when it would have been comparatively
easy to ascertain all the true facts associated therewith.
The reason why the Beaver might not have been considered in relation to the Atlantic passage is quite obvious, owing to
the fact that in reaching America she did not cross to the
Atlantic seaboard, but sailed directly around Cape Horn to
the North Pacific, during which voyage her engines may not
have been used to any great extent.
But it seems difficult-to understand or assign any positive
reason why the Royal William was overlooked by this as well
as other very good authorities of still earlier date, and the real
cause for this can only be conjectured.
It should be remembered that the Beaver was designed,
constructed and equipped with a view to being propelled exclusively by steam, and that the canvas provided for the ocean
voyage was only intended to bear, or help bear, the little steam
packet safely over the 14,000 miles of stormy waters which
separated her from her remote destination.
In this brief chapter the writer has endeavored to give
prominence to the different vessels according to their real
merit, and it is to be hoped that credit has been given where
credit is justly due, and that nothing has been said calculated
to leave a wrong impression regarding any of the subjects
herein treated.   — 97 —
' Beaver' •
Plying Pacific waters since 1891, between British Columbia, Japan and China, are the Royal Mail steamships Empress
of China, Empress of India, and Empress of Japan.     These
white ocean-racers are the property of the Canadi
Railway Company and are jof exactly the same construction,
each being of 6,000 tons burden, 485 feet' in length, 51 feet in
breadth, and capable of steaming 20 miles per hour. Although
considerably smaller than some of the Atlantic liners, these
floating palaces may properly be termed perfect models of
modern marine architecture, and are the ones referred to in the
following pathetic poem, in which the steamer Beaver is represented as speaking to a passing ship from her helpless position
on the rocky ledge :
(From the Vancouver " Daily World.")
A broken hulk, forlorn and lost am I,
Above me frown the cliffs in ramparts high,
Beneath on rocky ledge
I stranded lie.
Around, the hungry waves await their prey,
They surge above my head, and day by day
I crumble as they steal
My life away.
Yet not alone despoiled by wind and wave,
But Man, whom I have served, disdains to Save,
And robs me as I sink
Into my grave.
v — 98 —
The seaweed damp and chill binds fast my breast,
Yet deep below, in passionate unrest,
There stirs a hope, a dream
Unknown, unguessed.
At morn, when the first ray of daylight creeps
Through clinging mists where soft the darkness sleeps,
And faintly trembles down
To dusky deeps.
At noon, when clear and bright the waters spread,
And Ocean scarcely moves to rock my bed,
While droops the golden moss
Above my head.
At eve, when shadows fall and winds are free,
And moaning surges call aloud for me
To sink to sleep at last
Beneath the sea.
Through storm, through sunshine still I dream and wait,
Watching for her who comes in royal state
To sweep majestic through
The Lion's Gate !
Great Empress, proud, serene ! thy coming fleet,
Announced by herald echoes wild and sweet,
The purple hills proclaim,
The vales repeat.
To my dull vision from the world apart,
Thou seemest a miracle of magic art,
Strange forces throb and glow
Within thy heart!
Fair white enchantress from the Orient sped !
Its fragrance and its spice about thee shed
Still lingering incense breathe
About thy head.
Above thy path the screaming sea gulls fly,
Like mystic spirits, weave in circles high
A charm of waving wings
Against the sky. — 99 —
I know thou dost not heed my dreary lot,
Nor mark in passing by the lonely spot
Where desolate I lie
By all forgot.
The Past am I, but yet thou canst not chide
The worship thou hast won from ancient pride,
Whose youth once challenged Fate
And Time defied.
For had I ne'er traversed this Western sea,
Nor braved its wrath to find a path for thee,
Where then thy stately grace
Secure and free ?
I toiled through calm and storm for many a year,
While yet th' untrodden forest slumbered here,
Of Progress, Faith and Peace
The pioneer.
And Science made me strong to prove her worth,
Her dawning light was shed upon my birth
Whose glory now is spread
Through all the earth !
But now my work is done—I sink to rest—
Fair Empress ! may the wave thou hast carressed
In music murmur still
Above my breast.
And when at midnight hour thou drawest nigh,
And softly through the mists that sleeping lie
The star upon thy brow
Is gliding by.
Oh, may its light that trembles o'er my tomb,
With dreams of thee steal downwards through the gloom,
Where I beneath the sea
Have found my doom.
L. A. L.
j*      n  - WQvemoer 18, 1927.
Presented to Hi3 Honour Frederic W. Howay by the members of the
Hew Westminster Bar in token of our esteem and appreciation of
his thirty years of honourable and illustrious service on the
County Court Bench of Hew Westminster.


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