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Lecture on British Columbia and Vancouver's Island delivered at the Royal United Service Institution… Macdonald, Duncan George Forbes, 1823?-1884 1863

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Array       LECTURE
On March 27, 1863
D. G. F. MACDONALD, C.E., F.E.G.S., M.E.S.L., J.P., Ac.
(Late of the Government Survey Staff of British Columbia, and of the International Boundary
Line of North America) Author of' What the Farmers may do with the Land,'
s The Paris Exhibition,'' Decimal Coinage,' &c.
Price One Shilling.

The following Lecture  originated  in  the desire  of  the
gentlemen forming the Council of the Eoyal United Sekvice
Institution to lay before its members trustworthy information regarding the capabilities of British Columbia and
Vancouver's Island as a field of emigration for Englishmen.
A few corroborative statements have since been introduced ; and some, which from their nature could not be
interwoven in the text, have been appended as foot-notes.

Mr. Pkesident, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
Ageeeablt to the wishes of the Council of
the Eoyal United Service Institution, I have the honour
of appearing before you to say a few words respecting the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver's
Island. I may be permitted to mention, however, that,
whilst I consider the request a high compliment, I
should nevertheless have declined the task, from a
consciousness of my inability to render a Lecture sufficiently interesting to such an audience as invariably
assembles in this theatre, had I not deemed it a positive
fluty to raise my voice, however feeble, at a time when
all Europe is perplexed by the conflicting statements
which have appeared in books, pamphlets, and newspapers, relative to these dependencies.
In lecturing I am utterly inexperienced, as I fear
you will soon discover; but I am urged forward by the
desire of spreading opinions which I have already explained more extensively elsewhere, and thus, by giving
the essence of what I have there written, enabling those
who have never seen, and may never see, my book to
judge for themselves.
It is surely no light matter for any person to advance
opinions on the resources and capabilities of our colonial
possessions, unless qualified by education, knowledge,
^nd experience. There is, to my apprehension, but
little difference between the man who willfully deceives
and him who through ignorance deters our poor, who
exist in misery and wretchedness at home, from
emigrating to a place in which they may secure comparative independence and comfort, or induces young
Englishmen to throw up comfortable, if not lucrative,
posts in their native country to become penniless wanderers in a strange land. What value would the leader
of an army attach to my views as to the position to be
taken up for a battle, or as to the modes of attack
and defence ? What value would the commander of a
fleet attach to my report or opinions on a. naval engagement, or on the construction and management of a man
of war? None whatever. And justly — because I
have not been educated in either of those noble professions. But if the question be the resources and
capabilities of a country, — of land and pasture — of
hill and dale, — I venture to believe I possess the
qualifications which alone can enable a man to discern these important characteristics, and to arrive at a
just estimate of them, since the subject has formed the
education of my youth and the study of my maturer
years. I apprehend, therefore, that, before any weight
can with propriety be attached to the report, statements,
or opinions of an author or lecturer, it behoves him to
show that he is qualified by education, profession, and
experience, to write or lecture on the subject which
he undertakes; and, moreover, that his opinions are VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND.
shaken by no wind of self-interest, or gust of blinded
passion,—that his views are obscured by no mist of
prejudice or error. I therefore trust that you will not
attribute my giving some account of myself to any less
creditable motive than a desire to satisfy you that you
are not listening to a man who has never seen a blade
of grass grow, or slept under the impervious shades of
the eternal forests.
Erom my youth upwards, I have been occupied in
the study and practice of agriculture. I have, since
1848, prosecuted my calling as a civil and agricultural
engineer with perfect success; and under my immediate direction upwards of a million sterling has been
expended on the drainage and improvement of agricultural lands alone. I have been taught every branch of
farming, experimentally, practically, and scientifically ;
and I have farmed extensively on my own account for
many years. I have received, in short, a first class
agricultural education, without which no one is in a
condition to form a just opinion of the pastoral and
agricultural capabilities of any country, whether new or
old. And I may also add that I have been employed
professionally by the Chief Commissioner of Lands and
Works of British Columbia, and by the British North-
American Boundary Commission, as well as by private
•individuals in both colonies. In conclusion, I can
safely affirm that I have no possible inducement to
advance statements unwarranted by facts, or opinions
which are not well grounded. What I assert I have
seen wij;h my own eyes, or know of my own knowledge,
and I have no interests to promote save those of truth,
and the prosperity of intending emigrants. 6 BRITISH  COLUMBIA  AND
Although details of the discovery and early history
of British Columbia and Vancouver's Island are interesting, they are unnecessary on the present occasion.
I shall therefore proceed at once to give accurate information as to the nature of these countries, the cha-
-racter of their chmate, and the extent of their resources
and capabilities; and I shall also advert to some of
the drawbacks of British Columbia as a colony for
British Columbia lies on the western side of North
America, between the 49th and 55th parallels of north
latitude. The Eussian territory forms its northern
boundary, the Eocky Mountains close it in on the east,
the territory of the United States forms its southern
limit, whilst the North Pacific on the west washes 450
miles of its coast. Its area, including Queen Charlotte's Island; is computed to be 225,250 square miles,
or nearly three times that of Great Britain. It was previously known as New Caledonia, but has formed a
colony under its present name since August 1858.
The general appearance of the country is very picturesque, but gloomy in its grandeur, awful in its
solitude. No bubbling brooks, no soothing shades, no
softly swelling hills, as in pleasant England: but in
their stead streams white with  foam, rushing alone-
7 DO
between cliffs, down ravines, and over waterfalls, in
deafening thunder; tremendous precipices, yawning
gulfs, and naked towering rocks splintered with the
storms of countless years ; boundless forests, fearful in
their gloom, and fearful in their howling beasts of prey.
Yet, when the vast masses of foliage glitter in the sunlight ;  and above the overhanging cliffs and mountains, VANCOUVER S  ISLAND.
far up in the sky, glow pyramids of snow and ice; these
wilds furnish views of intense splendour. Inaccessible
mountain ranges traverse the land, many of their peaks
clothed with perpetual snow; and its general surface is
rocky and barren, except where covered with forest
trees and brushwood. The territory's literally studded
with long narrow lakes, some of them of great depth,
and varying from five to fifty miles in length, in
breadth from two to seven, with water extremely cold
and clear. However, there is one exception to this
clearness in the Liloost water, which is of a dirty
green. On the other hand, I never beheld anything
• more lovely than the Lake of Chilukeneyuke, as I once
looked down upon it by moonlight. Every star, in all
its brightness, was mirrored in the translucent waters.
The magnificent glacier of the lake resembled a mass
of gigantic emeralds partially covered by a mantle of
snowy whiteness; the green ice at every crevice shining
clearly in the sun, which year after year vainly strives
to melt it away.
The river Fraser is the great artery of the country,
and the only river affording any extensive facilities for
navigation. It takes its rise in the Eocky Mountains,
and after a course of 700 miles flows into the Gulf of
Georgia, six miles north of the boundary line. Its
current is broad and extremely rapid, and the melting
snows of summer raise it some fifty feet, at which
season it sweeps along with fearful velocity. During
this period the navigation is very dangerous, owing to
the great quantity of trees, stumps, roots, and logs
which float down upon its surface ; and at other times
the shallows and shifting sands, in which it abounds,
render voyaging on its waters, except for flat-bottomed
steamers, peculiarly hazardous.    The river is also diffi- ^
cult of entrance for large vessels, on account of its
tortuous channel, and the numerous banks and shoals
at its mouth, which change continually. It is navigable
for vessels of considerable draught for thirty-two miles
from its mouth, and flat-bottomed steamers have reached
sixty miles farther^ but the lower portion only can be
considered adapted for navigation, the upper portion
being broken by falls and rapids.
The forests are of vast extent, and sufficient to supply
the whole world with valuable timber for ages to come.
To the spectator, indeed, the whole territory appears to
be one mass of wood ; and as Commander Mayne writes,
page 50 of his book, ' some idea may be formed of it
if I state that I have travelled for days in this country,
where we scarcely advanced at the rate of one mile an
hour.' At times these forests are set on fire by some
straggling miner or packer; and those who have not
witnessed such a conflagration can scarcely conceive
an idea of the fury with which it rages in the dry
summer season, when the underwood, fallen branches,
bark, and withered leaves are all so inflammable, the
rarefied air all the while howling through the trees
like a hurricane.
The coast is bold and rocky, exhibiting continuous
chains of mountains broken only by the Eraser, and
numerous and deep inlets, which drain the region
stretching eastward from the coast range to the Eocky
Mountains. No harbour exists north of the 49th
parallel, with the exception of Berrard's Inlet, which
lies about twelve miles up- the coast from the mouth of
the Eraser. This inlet is difficult of access, but is well
sheltered from the open sea, so as to afford ample safety
for vessels.
Warm springs are found in British Columbia, one of Vancouver's island. 9
which, about twenty-four miles northward from Douglas,
discharges a stream of three square inches in volume.
The -water is soft and agreeable to wash in, is perfectly
clear and colourless, and its temperature 132° Fahr.
A cursory examination into its composition detected
chloride and sulphate of sodium. The Indians resort
to this hot spring under the persuasion that it possesses
miraculous healing powers. They believe that in the
night a spirit comes down to impregnate its waters with
remedial properties; and it is to them a holy spring,
whilst to the white man who goes thither to slake his
thirst it is all but fatal.
Such, then, is the general appearance of British
Columbia. Let us now see what manner of men are
the aboriginal inhabitants.—what their nature and characteristics. The cradle of the red man will perhaps
never be discovered; philology alone could hope to do
this, and the chances are slender: but his present con- *
dition is fully before us.
The pubhc mind has long been disabused of the
pleasant fiction of the noble savage, a being who only
existed in the imagination of dreamers, and who has
received his most recent embodiment at the hands of
American story-tellers.   He has been drawn out of the
haze of the novelist, and examined in the light of day,
and he turns out to be a compound of sensuality,
treachery, and cruelty the most revolting. Civilisation
may have much to answer for, but there is nothing it
has introduced at all to be compared to what it has
driven away. It would be more just to say that there
are evils which civilisation cannot eradicate, and which
still remain amongst us, the residuum of the primal
J 10
The greater portion of British Columbia is occupied
by the Takalli, or Carrier Indians, who are divided
into eleven tribes, each numbering from 50 to 350
individuals, and all speaking the Athapascan language,
with a few dialectical differences. They are, like all
the savages of these regions, filthy in their habits,
and extremely debauched and sensual. They feed
chiefly on salmon, and the flesh of bears and other
wild animals, some of them burrowing in the earth and
living like badgers or ground-hogs. They are, moreover, very superstitious. To the southward of the
Takalh are the Atnahs. who live, in the region of the
Eraser and Thompson rivers; and below these are the
Flat-heads, numbering from 4,000 to 5,000, and occupying the country on the Columbia and about Eort
Colville, between the Cascade and Eocky Mountains.
These are the chief tribes of the interior.
Of the Coast tribes the most northern known to
Enghsh fur-traders is the Tun Ghaare, a small tribe
of expert hunters inhabiting the south-east corner of
the Prince of Wales's Archipelago.
The Haidah, or natives of Queen Charlotte's Island,
contrast favourably with the southern tribes; I have
seen some as fair as the people of the South of Europe;
and they are very warlike, strong, and dangerous.
The women invariably wear as an ornament a piece of
wood about half an inch long, fixed in the lower lip by
means of an incision made parallel to its length ; they
refrain, however, from flattening the heads of their
children. These Indians are remarkable for their ingenuity. They fabricate most of the curiosities met
with on the coast, and they raise potatoes for sale to
the inland tribes ; but they are a most treacherous
race.   The Nootka Columbian group includes a greater VANCOUVER S   ISLAND. 11
number of tribes than the Northern or Haidah family.
The flattening of the head is universal amongst them,
and prevails along the north-west coast from the 53rd
to the 46th degree of latitude. There are several
other tribes, but they need not be enumerated, as the
same description applies to all.
The wild man of British Columbia is as savage as
the scenes which surround him. The trunk of a tree
forms his canoe ; strings of shells and teeth of animals
form his ornaments, his record, and his coin 5. fern and
forest leaves furnish his couch ; bulrushes, lichens, and
moss, his protection against the blasts of winter ; and
wolves and bears his rivals for the lordship of the soil.
They five chiefly upon salmon, deer, bears, dogs, and
such animals ; and prefer their meat putrid, which may
account for their abominable odour. Murder is no crime
amongst these ferocious beings, who stab, shoot, and
scalp, without pity, and are known to eat their enemies
with the voracity of their companion wolves. They
are revengeful, deceitful, and unrestrained liars, and,
to crown all, get rid of their sick and aged by cruel
and willful neglect. They are by no means stupid, but
as inquisitive and observant as they are heartless.
Their dress in winter consists of the skins of wild
animals; in summer of a strip of bearskin or deerskin
round their loins, and in some districts even this is
dispensed with. They paint their bodies hideously
with every pigment they can lay their hands on, blood
colour being their favourite hue. When deeply stained
with vermilion it is a sign that war rages among them,
and it is then dangerous to approach them. In general
the different tribes entertain a bitter hatred against
each other, evinced by frequent feuds, which often end
in death. 12
They have some idea of a Supreme Being, whom
they fancy good-looking, always naked, well painted,
and having pieces of fur round each leg and arm,
and dogskin round his shoulders; but they have no
religious rites. Yet they are very superstitious, and
are terrified by every unusual occurrence. I have
seen them fall upon their knees, or throw themselves
down upon the ground, and roil about, uttering the most
frantic yells, upon seeing an eagle hover over their
wigwam. • I have also seen an old Indian look pensively at the track of some wild animal, and then
return hastily to his cabin, where he would remain
for the rest of the day, and for the following night,
and would not stir out if the whole world were offered
to him.
Polygamy, stealing, lying, and gambling prevail to a
fearful extent, and female chastity is unknown. Yet
they seem very fond of each other and of their children;
and sometimes women may be seen sitting by the skull
of a child, a husband, or a brother, pouring forth the
anguish of their souls, and talking to it in the most
endearing tones. In matrimonial matters the squaws
propose to the men, and girls are contracted and paid
for years before the marriageable age. Their slaves
are horribly treated: they are made to do all the filthy
work, and are cruelly lashed. Doubtless these slaves
will one day rise against their masters, and avenge
themselves for the atrocious barbarities inflicted on
They seldom bury their dead, but either burn the
bodies or place them in ornamented wooden boxes
raised beyond the reacli of wolves and dogs, and
leave them to decay. When a married man is burned
his widow is placed on the pile beside the corpse, and VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 13
not suffered to remove till her flesh is one mass of
blisters. After the body has been consumed she
collects the ashes into a small basket, which she constantly carries about with her ; and when three years
have been spent in drudgery for her husband's relations
she is permitted to marry again.
The Indians hate the whites, because the whites
hate them. They invariably take hfe for life; and if
a white man has been the aggressor, they will kill the
first white man they meet, utterly regardless as to
whether he knew anything about the murder or not;
and many a poor wanderer in British Columbia has thus
fallen. Such is their thirst for blood, that I have been
shown thirty scalps in one wigwam. Their modes of
torture are numerous and horrible : some prisoners
they scourge to death, others they roast at slow fires ;
and I have seen four fiends seize a wretched captive,
and, each taking a hmb, swing him with all their force
against the ground till they left him a mangled corpse.
Contempt of pain is confined to the males ; the females
are timid, and meet their torture in paroxysms of
Their villages are generally built upon natural
slopes on the banks of rivers, or in sheltered nooks by
the sea-side, with a precipitous bank in front to preserve them from the attacks of hostile tribes, while the
outskirts are overspread with piles of fish, fish bones,
and the accumulated .filth of years. The wigwams
vary from 100 to 300 feet in length, by from 50 to
100 in breadth, and are constructed of thick plank
boarding and heavy logs; one wigwam generally contains twenty or thirty families. . The smaller wigwams
or huts are formed of bark cut in lengths of from seven to
ten feet, on which stones are laid to prevent their warping 14
in drying. These are fastened with twisted twigs to a
framework of stakes driven into the ground; and the
roof is covered in the same manner, a hole being left to
let out the smoke. The fire is in the centre, and tree
stumps and large stones are placed round it to serve as
tables and seats, on which men, women, and children
sit, generally as naked as they were born, and not un-
frequently covered with a moving mass of vermin. The
fur-skins worn by day form their covering at night,
while their bed consists of a layer of deer- or bear-skins,
or a rush mat. The whole family, and sometimes two
or three families, live and sleep in this one unpartitioned
I should be sorry to chill a single earnest feeling in
favour of these poor barbarians, but it is to be feared
that if any impression is ever to be made on them, it can
only be done by going into their midst, living their life,
and feeding on the flesh of wild animals, on grubs, roots,
and grasses, like themselves. Their condition is the
most deplorable that can be imagined ; many of them
are* puny and stunted, while they are rapidly decreasing in number, and must soon disappear altogether.
The Indian, will recede before the white man, as his
fathers have done. The lovely valley in which the
warriors stood forth in their triumphant glory, in which
the young and sprightly listened with throbbing hearts
to the chants of other days, in which the mothers
fondly played with their tender offspring, will soon
know him no more. But, as he turns to take a last look
on the tombs of his race, he will shed no tear, he will
heave no groan; for there is in his heart that which
stifles such indications of emotion. It is savage courage
absorbed in despair.
There is  in  the  fate of these unfortunate beings VANCOUVER S  ISLAND.
much to awaken our sympathy. What can be more
melancholy than their history ? They fade away at our
approach, and mournfully pass by us never to return.
We hear the rusthng of their footsteps, hke that of the
withered leaves of autumn, and they are gone for ever.
In a few years the smoke will cease to rise from their
wigwams, and the ashes will be cold on their native
hearths. Poor human beings! if they have the vices of
savage life, they have the virtues likewise. If their
revenge and insatiable thirst for blood are terrible,
their fidelity to their kinsmen is unconquerable also.
Their love, like their hate, goes with them to the grave.
Although there are some handsome women to be
met with amongst the northern Indians of America,
there are none comparable to the tropical belles. In
the native beauty of Panama, the grace which pervades
the whole figure is wonderfully brought out. There
the female form is full of ease, delicacy, and beauty.
The day was sultry as I turned into one of those snug
retreats so frequent in the isthmus, and scarcely visible
through the luxuriant verdure, to get a mouthful of cold
water. The heads of the family had doubtless gone to
the trackless woods to gather the wild fruits so pleasing to the eye and so grateful to the taste, for no one
was visible but a young Indian maiden, who, fawn-hke,
startled at my approach, and would have fled into the
thicket* had I not made signs of peace and friendship.
Eaising my hands in the form of a cup, the woodland
beauty was instantly reassured, and led the way to a
shady grotto where a crystal mountain spring flowed
gently from the rifted rock, whilst I followed in speechless admiration of the vision of loveliness which floated
onward in such bashful coyness. This charming nymph
was attired in a loose covering of the purest white, down 16
which her plenteous black hair hung to an almost incredible length. Her complexion was soft-tinted olive,
so dehcate that the slightest emotion gave a crimson
hue to her tender and simple cheeks. Her forehead
was exquisitely chiselled, and her features Grecian in
their contour; but how shall I describe those glorious
dreamy eyes, or those long drooping lashes which
ever and anon came gently down like silken curtains I
Could an artist place on canvas the picture there presented,— the shady dell, the tropical fruits and flowers,
the limpid spring and mossy rocks, the emerald skies
and purple mountain peaks, that sweet sad face and
faultless form,—he might lay down his pencil and live
upon his fame for ever. As she stepped on the slippery
rock, with a quaintly fashioned gourd, to dip up the
clear water, there was disclosed a foot whose polished
outline had never been warped by the rough shoe of
civilisation, and which her native innocence had never
been taught to hide. She was indeed exquisitely
beautiful, and recalled the lines of a great poet :
Art thou a thing of mortal birth,
Whose happy home is on the earth ?
Or art thou, what thy form would seem —
The phantom of a fairy dream ?
But I must leave these sunny lands and their pleasant memories, and return to the snows and storms of
British Columbia.
Unquestionably a suitable climate is a consideration
of the greatest importance to the emigrant, as it has a
marked influence on production. A hot climate enervates the body and enfeebles the mind; and, by rendering houses and clothing less necessary, removes one '
Vancouver's island. 17
great spur to industry and invention. In a very cold
one, on the other hand, the powers of nature are benumbed, and the difficulty of preserving life leaves but
little time for rendering it comfortable. Chmate
exercises, also, a direct influence on the durability of
buildings, and on everything connected with agricultural operations. Its vicissitudes are so variously
estimated by different persons, that it is difficult to
describe the atmospheric condition of any country so
as to avoid the imputation of undue praise or unwarranted reprobation. Doubtless, however, the most
eligible climate is that under which one can hve the
longest, work the hardest, be least dependent on artificial comforts, and have the fewest ailments. To anyone seeking a home at all approaching this standard,
the climate of British Columbia would not be alluring.
The winters are long and cold, the summers short and
hot, the spring sudden ; and the powers of animal and
vegetable nature seem to compensate themselves by
extraordinary vigour and activity in the short respite
allowed them from the long torpor of winter.
Exaggerated accounts have been spread in Europe
regarding the chmate of British Columbia. It has not
the clear skies and fine bracing atmosphere of Canada,
as snow, sleet, rain, and fog visit the settler in rapid
succession, and the winter takes up eight months out of
the twelve, commencing in September and lasting till
May, while the temperature is severe, the thermometer
at times falling 30° below zero. The summer heat
much resembles that of Canada, averaging, according to
report, 80° at mid-day; but all well-informed travellers
agree in representing the weather as extremely variable
at this season, and the transitions as remarkably sudden
—the common characteristics of an Alpine country.    At
J 18
Stewart's Lake, in the month of July, every possible
change of weather was experienced within twelve
hours,— frost in the morning, scorching heat at noon,
and then rain, hail, and snow. The winter season is
subject to the same vicissitudes, though not in such extremes. Mr. Anderson, late chief trader in the Hudson's
Bay Company's service, a gentleman personally known
to me, and on whose evidence I would rely, states that
snow begins to fall in the mountains early in October ;
that the summer climate about the forks of the Thompson river is dry, and the heat great; that during winter
the thermometer indicates occasionally from 20° to 30°
below zero of Fahrenheit, but that such severe cold
seldom lasts on the upper parts of the Eraser river for
more than three days. The thermometer will then
continue to -fluctuate between zero and the freezing
point, until, possibly, another interval of severe cold
During winter, a traveller in the highlands of British
Columbia must envelope himself in furs to a most inconvenient degree. Horses have been suffocated from
ice forming in their nostrils, and their hoofs have burst
from the effects of the cold, while the raven is the only
bird on the wing. Inanimate nature yields to the same
mighty power. Masses of rock are torn from their
ancient sites, and huge trees are rent asunder, becoming
ice-bound to the very heart, and splintering the axe of
the woodman like glass. The cold is something incredible northwards along the lofty mountain chains.
The sunless forests, too, shelter masses of snow, which
render the currents of air excessively cold and damp.
In these dreary lands, consumption and inflammatory
complaints are very common, and few escape rheumatism.     A long sickness in the backwoods brines VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 19
famine and utter ruin. In the winters of 1860, 1861,
and 1862, the Fraser was frozen over, and many
persons perished from starvation and exposure. Early
in the September of 1859, we on the Boundary Commission were visited by a heavy snow-storm, the thermometer ranging from 82° in the day to 26° at night.
Even at Victoria in Vancouver's Island, in the vicinity
of the ocean," the snow fell several feet in depth, when
sledging became the only mode of out-door locomotion.
At New Westminster, which is only 54 feet above the
sea level and well sheltered, the thermometer stood
in January 1862 at 15° below zero ; and at Eort Hope,
a little way up the country, at 18°. In confirmation of
my statements as to the severity of the climate of British
Columbia, I shall give a few extracts from the Weekly
British Colonist, .published in Victoria, Vancouver's
Island ; and we may rest assured, as the prosperity of
the editor of the paper depends on the peopling of both
colonies, that the true state of the weather has at least
not been exaggerated:—
British Columbia: September 16, 1862.— The weather is
execrable, raining or hailing daily. One hailstone, measured
by Mr. Phillips on the 22nd of July, was an inch and a half
in circumference. Ice formed every night through summer
in the open air.
September 8.— There was a very heavy fall of snow.
October 21.— Snow fell sixteen inches deep two weeks ago,
and the cold has been intense.
October 28.— A heavy snow-storm had fallen, covering the
ground to a depth of three feet. Ice had formed in the
sluices, stopping all mining work. The snow-storm fell three
weeks earlier this year than last, which accounts for the heavy
loss of pack animals. It is estimated that upwards of 400
animals, valued at about 50,000 dollars (10,000£.) have perished in tbe recent storms.
B  2 20
November 4.— Pack animals are perishing by whole trains
at once. One packer, who went in with thirty-seven horses,
has only saved seven out of the lot, being also obliged to
leave his goods along the trail in various places. Another
with fourteen animals lost every one of them. Dead and
dying horses were met with at almost every step, some of
them standing upright in the snow, just as they had been left
by their owners.
On the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Jcmuary last, it was so
intensely cold that the mercury was frozen like a rock in the
bulb of the thermometer: but that was a common test of
temperature. Jack Frost gave another illustration of his
freezing qualities. One day a blazing fire was doing its
best to neutralise the cold, when a tea-kettle filled with water
was put on to boil; but, before the fire could exercise any
effect on the bottom of the water, the top of it was frozen
over with a skin of ice.
In the Blue Book Papers on British Columbia, Part
HI. p. 37, Lieut. Mayne, now Commander, Eoyal Navy,
The changes of temperature are very remarkable in
British Columbia. I have seen the thermometer at 31° at
daylight, in the shade at noon the same day 85°, and 40°
again in the evening.
Again, p. 105 of his book, he says :—
However hot the day may have been, the night in British
Columbia, even in the months of summer, is always fresh
and cold.
And at p. 423 :—
At Cariboo, the winter of 1860-1 was even more severely
felt. On the night of the 1st December, the mercury of the
thermometer congealed, and on the 25th and 26th of January it is said to have stiffened before sun-down, with the sun
shining full upon it. Two thermometers at William Lake are
reported in the Victoria papers to have burst from the effects of VANCOUVER'S ISLAND. 21
the cold, and many instances of severe frost-bites, &c, are
The meteorological observations taken at Lilloost
by Dr. Eeatherstone, and printed in the British Colonist
of January 20, 1863, prove beyond dispute the sudden
and remarkable changes of chmate in British Columbia.*
* The following are the observations referred to in the text:—
January 1862. — Average temperature for 22 days, 14° above zero.
Average temperature,- 9th . .      9° below zero
Coldest day, 29th . . .22°       „
Second coldest day, 30th . .    20°        „
Hottest day, 22nd . . .    26° above zero.
Ten cold windy days, wind from NW. and NE. Amount of snow
fell during the month, 28 inches: 18th, 10 inches fell; 22nd,
11 inches fell.
February 1862. — Average temperature for 18 days, 25° above zero.
Average temperature, 10th . .      4° below zero
Coldest day, 1st . . 6°        „
Hottest day, 11th, heavy rain and thaw .    45° above zero.
Amount of snow fell during the month, 14 inches.    Four days'
heavy rain and thaw.    Three cold, windy days.
March 1862. — Average temperature for 31 days, 37°.
Coldest day, 10th, sharp frost . . .20°
Second coldest day, 11th     ....    20°
Hottest day, 31st    . . . . .50°
Three cold windy days in November, wind NW. Amount ot
snow fell, 10 inches.    Two rainy days, 14th and 23rd.
April 1862. — Average temperature for the month, 54°.
Coldest day, 4th      . . . • .31°
Second coldest, 9th . . . . .    32c
Hottest day, 30th    . . . . .84°
Seven cold, windy days; 14th, gale of wind from SE.
May 1862. — Average temperature for the month, 78°.
Coldest day, 6th      . . . • •    64°
Hottest day, 11th    . . • • .100°
Two windy days, 7th and 11th. Four rainy days; 5th, eight
hours heavy rain.
|0 In further irrefragable proof that the chmate of
British Columbia is variable, cold, and inclement, I
need only refer to the meteorological observations taken
at the Mihtary Camp, New Westminster, during 1862
June 1862. — Average temperature for the month, 81°
Coldest day ....
Hottest day ....
Three^ windy days.    Eain fell on four days.
July 1862. — Average temperature for 12 days, 97°.
Coldest day, 2nd
Hottest day, 5th      .
Left for Cariboo.
September 1862. — Average temperature for the month, 11°.
Coldest day, 30th    . . . . .60°
Hottest day, 2nd      . . . . .98°
Rain fell on six days; 25th, rain and snow.    Five windy days;
30th, cold SE. wind.
October 1862. — Average temperature for the month, 71°.
Coldest day .    . . . . .50°
Hottest day . . . . .81°
Eain fell on six days.    Six windy days.
November 1862.
Average   temperature   for   the
month, 48°.
Coldest day     .        .        .    30°
Hottest day     .        .        .56°
Eain   fell  on   two   days — 1st
and 3rd.
December 1862.
Average   temperature   for   the
month, 38°.
Coldest day, 6th      .        .    25°
Hottest day, 25th    .        .    50°
Eain  fell  on  four  days;.   9th,
eight hours' rain; 5 inches of
snow fell during the month.
November 1861.
Average temperature for 23
days, 36°.
Coldest day, 28th, 20° below zero.
Five coldest days, average temperature 13° below zero.
Eain fell on the 23rd for 24
hours, therm. 40; 40 inches
of snow fell during the month.
December 1861.
Average temperature for the
month, 26°.
Coldest day, 29th, 14° below zero.
Eain fell on the 5th, with sun
and thaw, therm. 42; 32 inches
of snow fell during the month. VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 23
under the directions of Colonel E. C. Moody, E.E., and
the immediate supervision of Captain E. M. Parsons,
E.E., an officer of remarkable scientific attainments,
on whose calculations I can, from actual personal
experience, place imphcit reliance. The spot selected
for taking these observations is greatly sheltered by
military buildings and by nature, and picturesquely
embosomed in the forest; moreover the cistern of the
barometer is only about 54 ft. above the level of the
sea. Nevertheless we find that, notwithstanding these
favourable conditions, the thermometer has indicated •
15° below zero! *
* The following are the observations referred to in the text:—
' Latitude 49° 12' 47"-5 N;  Longitude 122° 53' 19" W.
The highest reading of the barometer,
rected for temperature, was    .
Mean height at 9.30 a.m.
| at 3.30 p.m.
The lowest
, cor-
30-517    Feb. 9
29-071    Jan. 22
Maximum temperature in sun's rays (black
bulb)         • 104-0       Aug. 29
Maximum temperature of air in shade         . 88-5              „
|                       I                    9.30 a.m. 73-9        July 23
|                        „                    3.30 p.m. 86-0        Aug. 28
Mean temperature of air irj shade—9.30 a.m. 46*8
|              3.30 p.m. 51-5
Minimum temperature of air in shade—
9.30 a.m. 2-0 b.z. Jan. 15
1               3.30. p.m. 6-0       Jan. 15
Minimum temperature on the grass    .        . 15*0 b.z. Jan. 16
Greatest amount of humidity      .        .        • 1*000
Mean                    1                         9.30 a.m. -842
I                         3.30 p.m. -772
Lelst                    1                    ... -320    Jan. 3 24
Such is the climate of British Columbia. Of course,
in a region so extensive, variations are found; that is
to say, in some parts it is worse than in others, but in
no part is it like that of England. Yet an anonymous
writer in Blackwood's Magazine of last December, has
stigmatised my book on the Colonies as | thoroughly
Table showing the Depth of Rain, the Number of Days on which it fell; the
Mean Humidity (9.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m.) / Mean Temperature of the Air
in shade, and the Lowest Temperature on the Grass in each month.
Days     Humidity
9.30 a.m.
3.30 P.M.
Min. on Grass
January .    .
March    .    .
April .    .    .
May  .    .    .
June .
July  .    .    .
August   .   .
September  .
October .   .
November   .
December   .
Total   .   .
Comparison of Mean Results for three years.
Minimum on
Mean height of
9.30 a.m.
3.30 p.m.
9.30 a.m.
3.30 p.m.
9.30 a.m.
3.30 p.m.
48-5 •
E ain was more equally distributed throughout all the months this
year, than in 1860 or 1861.
In the winter months, January to March, and October to December : 31,682 inches of rain fell in 1862; 41,230 in 1861;  and VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 25
unreliable,' because I have declared that snow, sleet,
and rain fall in British Columbia, and that the chmate
is not Italian! The clever critic overlooked the important fact that Dr. Eattray's j statistics' do not apply
to British Columbia at all, but to the southern section
of Vancouver's Island, situated considerably to the
south of any part of British Columbia; whilst my
observations on chmate apply to British Columbia
farther north. I would also remark that it is most
unfair and absurd to contrast the annual and monthly
barometric range at London for the years 1806-16
and Esquimault for the years 1860-61, with the object
of proving that the salubrity of the chmate of Vancouver's Island comes near to that of England; since
in those years the temperature ranged extremely low
in this country. One might with equal justness contrast our unusually mild winter of this year, with the
most rigid ever known in Vancouver's Island, and so
prove the great superiority of the Enghsh chmate.
Tn the lapse of ages the forests may be cleared, and
the swamps may be drained, and the rainfall and the
40,586 inches in 1860. In the remaining months: 15,785 inches
fell in 1862; 19,255 in 1861; and 13,834 in 1860.
The prevailing direction of the wind during rain in each year
was E and SE. The absolute limiting nights of frost in the three
years were nearly the same.
On the 9th of January, 1862, the river Fraser was completely
frozen over, and the ice attained a thickness of 13 inches on the
12th of February. Sleighs were running from Langley to several
miles below New Westminster, and persons walked from Hope to
the latter place, a distance of eighty miles, on the ice, at the end
of January.    Lake Harrison and the other lakes were all frozen
And this is the report of our Royal Engineers on this delightful
territory of j? Italian magnificence, of Italian temperature !' 26
fogs thus lessened; but a new Andes must cross its
northern frontier to beat back the Arctic blasts, and a
new gulf-stream must set in from the Tropics, to warm
its gehd shores, ere British Columbia can become a fit
habitation for Enghshmen.
Again we find Dr. Eattray making the bold fallacious
statement at p. 53 of his book, that \ Epidemics, such
as smallpox, scarlet-fever, and other infectious diseases, are rare in these colonies, even among the
natives;' whilst recent files of the local Weekly Colonist
inform us that4 sore throats, coughs, and colds are quite
epidemic in Victoria this season, and smallpox rages
with unabated fury, committing great ravages among
the white population, but especially amongst the Indians. The terrible and loathsome disease is daily
seizing upon new victims. Indeed, whole tribes are fast
disappearing before this most fearful of epidemics.'
And in the Inverness Courier of March 26, this year,
the following appears: ' In Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
there was last spring an Indian population of 2,500.
This number has been reduced to about 50 by the
ravages of smallpox.' Again, British Colonist, February
2, 1863 :—':Our advices from British Columbia are to
the effect that wherever the native population are
found, there the smallpox is fearfully prevalent, and
already many white men have died of the disease.'
So much for a work which Blackwood considers g thoroughly reliable.'
. Prairies are few, swampy, and of small extent, and
are overhung in summer by clouds of insects; while
pestilence exhales from the decaying vegetation, and
reptiles sport in the stagnant pools, or crawl over piles VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 27
of mouldering logs, brush, and rushes. These low
grounds, which indeed are little else than extended
marshes, are also infested by legions of vicious mosquitoes, which destroy comfort by day and sleep by
night, biting alike through socks and sheets, or settling
upon the nose or forehead; and woe betide the sleeper
who has a rent in his curtains. They have subjected
cow;s and horses to the torture of a lingering death,
and forced whole families to leave their homes for
months together. At the mouth of the Fraser are
extensive tracts, which have been termed prairie-land ;
but they are mere salt marshes, filled with cold stagnant water, and perfectly unproductive. Swampy
lands are met with along all the rivers, which are not
only unfit for cultivation, but prejudicial to health. I
have more than once been nearly thrown into a fever
by the pestilential vapours which the summer heat had
caused to float from the slimy sediment of these flats.
Such lands would, doubtless, be abundantly fertile,
were they drained and embanked from the sea and
river floods ; but these operations belong to engineering,
and require more skill and capital than are usually
possessed by the early settlers. From the annual
inundations many of the prairie-like patches will
always be unfit for husbandry. Even embankments
would not prevent the inroads of the water, as there
are quicksands in these flats through which it percolates ; and, owing to its low temperature, it would chill
and destroy the grain.
Commander Mayne states in his work on these
colonies, p. Ill:—' There are no prairies in British
Columbia, but it consists of what is called rolling
country; that is, long valleys from one to three or
four miles wide, divided one from the other by moun- 28
tain ridges. Through the centre of these runs usually
a river, and in some cases may be seen a chain of small
lakes. In summer, when the water is high, streams
and lakes meet, and the valleys become sheets of water,
dotted with large islands.' And again, p. 109 : j There is
very little land fit for cultivation, except on some of
those benches which are found on all the rivers. . . .
The shores of the coast are fined with dense, almost
impenetrable, forests.'
Good land may yet be discovered in the unexplored
regions of British Columbia ; still it is hard to believe
that this dependency will ever be fully peopled, or that
its natural capabilities will render it a desirable home
for natives of Great Britain. Farming can never pay,
because of the abundance of agricultural produce and
its consequent cheapness in California and Oregon,
which enjoy a rich soil and fine climate, and are
only a few hundred miles distant; and because agricultural industry in the British possessions would
have no protection. The Hon. Malcolm Cameron,
delegate from this colony, gave it as his opinion, at
the meeting in January last in the London Tavern,
that i British Columbia, not being an alluvial flat, was
not so good an agricultural and cereal country as
Canada;' and my friend Captain Campbell of St. Andrews, now present, can, from an intimate acquaintance
with the honourable gentleman, bear testimony to his
thorough competency to form a correct opinion.
When the intending emigrant hears of the mellow
Italian softness of the chmate, the balmy fragrance of the
atmosphere, the serenity of the sky, and that the mere-
upturning of the plough is all that is wanted to convert
the whole territory into a fruitful garden, let him not
beheve one word of it—it is all untrue. The country is
in reality a miserable one, adapted neither for grazing Vancouver's- island. 29
nor for corn. The larger portion is an inhospitable
wilderness, difficult of access, and inhabited only by
Indians, a few factors, and, with rare exceptions, the
rudest outcasts of society. The Attorney-General
of British Columbia, now of Vancouver's Island, has
characterised it as ' a barren and desolate land;' and it
cannot be said that he is wrong.
The mountains and hills in the interior are bold and
rugged, with many benches or terraces on their sides,
on which are found large boulders and fragments of
coarse-grained granite. The geological constitution of
the Eocky Mountains is very imperfectly known, but
granite and gneiss appear nearly throughout the entire
range. The Cascade Mountains are also chiefly composed of igneous rocks, and offer many indications of
recent eruptions, and much to lead to the supposition
that volcanoes still smoulder beneath. On one or two
occasions I have felt rather severe shocks while traversing this range. Gold is not the only valuable
metal in the country. Specimens of silver, copper,
and lead have been obtained, and also of iron, zinc,
and quicksilver. I have picked up several pieces of
almost pure copper. There are also various kinds of
stone, with coal, salt, and other minerals.
In British Columbia gold is usually found in mountain streams and rivers, and more abundantly towards
their sources, leading to the inference that vast wealth
is concealed in the bowels of the Eocky Mountains.
On the Fraser the river-claims are considered the
most valuable, because the gold-seeker looks to the
holes and crevices in the rocky bed of the stream for
the chief reward of his labour. To work dry diggings
successfully is expensive and toilsome, and none but
capitalists can venture to operate on an extensive scale. 30
Few of the discontented miners who return from the
Fraser Eiver mines deny that there is gold ; but in
many instances more money and labour are expended
to get it than it is worth, because of the want of means
of communication with, the diggings. All the passes
to these regions have been rendered extremely dangerous by the Indians, who plunder wayfarers with
impunity. Arrest is impossible, and the government
is unwilling to use force, fearing that it would lead to
a bloody and expensive war.
As may be supposed, the state of society at the
mines is low in the extreme, and life and property far
from secure. Night and day bands of murderous-
looking ruffians prowl about and commit the most
atrocious robberies. Indeed, no accounts of the discomfort and crime encountered at the gold-fields, however exaggerated, can come near the reality. No man
thinks of moving from his tent, by night or by day,
without every barrel of his revolver charged and ready
for use. He dare not lie down at night without a
deadly weapon at his side, and a companion on the
watch to guard him from murder and robbery; and
some have attached to their treasure-box dogs of the
fiercest description, to whom human blood is more
than palatable. Thus they work and watch, sleep and
hve, in constant dread of death.
The miner's employment is notoriously demoralising
much less certain than agriculture, and far less profit
able to the community at large. His day's earnings
are spent- as soon as got, and his recklessness is as great
as his cupidity. Many instances are narrated of his
folly. This no doubt arises from the precarious tenure
of his life, and the unexpected chances of his occupation.    Two parties of men may work with equal energy
within a few yards of each other, and go through the
same hardships and privations, and the one may get
twenty or thirty ounces a day, while the other may not
find a speck. It is in too many instances hke seeking
for silver spoons in a dusthole; there is nothing to
indicate where to work or when to leave off. I myself
knew a case in which a man, having dug for six weeks
in vain, and spent all his money in food, yielded in
despair, disheartened and penniless. A few hours afterwards a stranger tried the luckless hole, and, having
continued the excavation for a couple of days, was rewarded with 90/. worth of gold.
Yet these sums lose their importance when we learn
that the following was. the price of provisions at the
mines in the beginning of this year:—Flour 90c. per lb.
(nearly 4s.). Bacon $1 25c. per lb. (5s.). Beans 90c.
(nearly 4s.). Butter $3 25c. per lb. (or 13s.). Sugar
$1 50c. per lb. (Qs.). Cheese #3 25c. per lb. (13s.).
Vegetables not to be had at any price. Candles $2 25c.
per lb. (9s.). Tobacco $4 per lb. (or 16s.). Truly at
such prices one would need to be a millionaire to keep
skin and bone together.
The waste of life, too, is extreme. The greater
number die prematurely through overtaxing their
powers ; and those who survive, if they, have acquired
wealth, have generally lost their health, and with it the
capability of enjoyment.
The gold-seeker is subject to numberless maladies.
Many a poor miner dies of consumption, contracted
through incessant toil and exposure. For months does
he painfully, but uncomplainingly, hnger on, working
at intervals, until his sufferings become too great and
he sinks into the grave. Most begin in the full flush of
youthful health and hope : few harbour a thought that 32
their home is to be there, or that they will even make
a lengthened stay—none, perhaps, that they will there
find a last resting-place. Yet in the quiet little spot on
the hill, where no sound of hammer or pick is heard
through the long day, gradually and surely the weary
wanderers from many lands are gathered, their struggle
with the world and fortune terminated for ever; their
hard luck, their rich strikes, the pulsations of hope or
the gloom of despair, which each in turn animated
their souls, ahke forgotten.
The following statistics of the produce of the mines
in British Columbia may be interesting: —
Produce of gold in 1858
.  $2,120,000
„ |       1859 . .     1,375,000
I I       1860 . .        950,000
(There are no authentic returns for 1861.)
It should be mentioned that the foregoing statement
has been made up from actual returns made by Wells,
Fargo, and Co., Freeman and Co., Ballow and Co.,
Macdonald and Co., local Bankers and Express Companies, and from the best information that could be
gained from miners and others.
Shipments of Californian Gold.
. $34,492,000
. $50,697,434
. 45,779,000
. 47,215,398
. 54,935,000
. 46,503,632
. 50,973,968
. 45,989,890
. 45,182,631
The yield of the Californian mines is now about
#50,000,000 annually *— upwards of 10,000,000/. It
is therefore a manifest exaggeration to say that the
British Columbian mines produce as much as those of
California : and if we look to Australia we find that the VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 33
two colonies of New South Wales and Victoria exported,
between May 1851 and June 1861, 25,081,468 ounces
of gold, the value being 96,399,844/.
To the student of natural history British Columbia
affords but a poor field : one may travel for days and
not see a living thing. The buffalo, which furnishes
food and clothing to the Indian on the east of the Eocky
Mountains, has no place in the land. The principal
Quadrupeds are the black, brown, and grizzly bears ;
the panther, lynx, racoon, wild-cat, wolf, badger,
ermine, and marten; foxes of various kinds; bison,
red and moose deer; also beavers, otters, and other
amphibious animals. The seal is found on the coast,
and the ferocious walrus, often eighteen feet long, with
tusks three feet in length. Of the smaller animals, there
are skunks, mice, squirrels, and a singular kind of bush-
tailed rat.
The Deer are pursued by the savages with unrelenting barbarity. Even in spring* when starvation has
rendered them miserable skeletons, they are uselessly
butchered from mere love of bloodshed. The consequence is th&t they are disappearing from the woods
with wonderful rapidity, and have already become so
rare as to form household pets.
The Grizzly Bear is truly a dreadful enemy, and
many instances of his ferocity are on record. Three
men were out hunting, and unexpectedly roused a
grizzly, who instantly charged upon the party. Two of
the men were large and powerful, but, instead of using
their guns on the enemy, they sought safety in flight.
Their companion, though a small man, stood his ground,
and as the bear advanced he fired at him, wounding
him just  enough to add tenfold to his ferocity.    The
c 34
snow being deep, the man was soon buried in it, with
the monster, furious and open-mouthed, over him.
With great presence of mind he thrust his left hand
into the animal's mouth and grasped his tongue, holding it with the determination of despair, while he unsheathed his knife with his right. In making a thrust
at the bear, the point of the weapon struck the animal's
paw, broke off, and became useless. The tusks of the
infuriated monster had now met through the poor
man's arm, which fell helplessly from the brute's jaws
mangled and bleeding. The hunter then thought that
his only hope lay in counterfeiting death, which he
did, and fortunately succeeded in inducing the bear to
beheve that he had won the victory. After licking the
blood from off his victim, the grizzly moved away some
distance, when he was attacked by a dog belonging to
the party ; but paying no attention to his canine enemy,
he again approached the man, who still lay motionless
in counterfeited death, and, having licked his face,
slowly retired. The two cowardly men, who had run
away and viewed the scene from a safe distance, now
came up to their half-dead companion, whom they
found greatly mutilated, with a part of his scalp torn
away. They carried him to a hut at a distance, where,
by careful attendance, he in a few weeks all but
entirely recovered from the horrible wounds he had
received. A strong party, armed to the teeth, went
early next morning in search of the grizzly, which,
being easily tracked by the spots of blood on the snow,
was soon discovered, and riddled with bullets.
Shortly before I left the territory, another encounter
occurred between a miner and a bear, upon which he
came suddenly in a small canon. He had dismounted
from his mule, his only chance of escape being  to VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 35
chmb a tree, which he lost no time in doing. However, the grizzly soon followed him and seized him by
the leg. With the desperate strength only known in
danger, the miner had grasped a limb of the tree, and
held on with one hand whilst he fired at the bear with
the other. This caused the animal to let go the man's
leg, but not to give up the pursuit. Having paused
for a few moments to examine how matters stood, it
made another effort, and seized the rifle, dashing it
with violence to the ground. The miner kicked the
bear in the snout with his uninjured leg so violently
that she fell, turning a complete summersault. She now
gave vent to her fury on the man's hat, which lay at
the foot of the tree, tore it to shreds, and then coolly
retired. But alas! only to return when she could
make more sure of her victim. The miner descended,
thinking all danger over, when up came the bear
behind him, and, seizing him round the middle, pressed
him to death. The only witness of this sorrowful
scene was an unarmed pioneer, who unfortunately was
so panic-stricken that he did not venture in aid of the
poor miner.
The day following, this homeless and friendless man
was committed to the earth in a spot selected for its
•quiet beauty and the security from desecration which
it promised. Thus departed the stranger miner, who
had come to these lands so recently, in the fullness of
hope and joy. The scene was beautiful and solemn,
the sky without a cloud, and the breeze, as it rustled
among the.leaves, brought refreshment to both soul
and body. I gazed upon the blue canopy, calm as the
unruffled ocean, beyond whose waveless azure lay the
beautiful fields of heaven, whither the immortal spirit
of the poor miner had gone to wander in eternal hap-
c 2 36
piness. But the sad narrative ends not here. A troop
of famishing wolves, in their midnight wanderings, discovered the newly turned sod, and, like hyenas of the
desert, rifled the tomb of its sacred trust, leaving the
dead man's bones stripped of the flesh, as a token of
their voracity.
The Musk Eat abounds, and is strictly aquatic ; its
stout tail, and its muscular hind legs provided with
broad feet and toes, furnish efficient means of locomotion in the water, while its thick fur protects it from
wet. It is a nocturnal animal, though often seen by
day; and it constructs its house in the water with
much skill. They also burrow in the bank, when
driven from their homes by the severity of the winter;
and these burrows, hke their houses, have the entrance invariably under water. Their skins once
formed a considerable item in the commerce of these
territories, but changes of fashion have caused the
trapping of them to fall off. The trappers and Indians
consider the tail roasted a great dehcacy. The Squirrel
also is abundant, and readily domesticated. A foolish
prejudice prevents many from eating them ; but I can
testify from experience that a young squirrel properly
cooked is a delicious morsel, and an old one is very
far from unpalatable. The skins are of little or no
The birds of British Columbia are devoid of song.
A species of Grouse, rather larger than the Scottish, is
found there. His cry is hke that of an owl, and is
heard for three or four miles, guiding the creeping
savage to his victim, lie also makes a sort of bumping
noise with his wings, which can be heard nearly a mile
off, and resembles distant thunder. By imitating this
sound in the spring, the sportsman may shoot many a VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 37
fine cock, who flies towards him, thinking it proceeds
from another of the same species. At a different season
they are hard to find, and one may travel the forest
for hours without being able to bag a single bird.
One other species of grouse and the drum partridge
complete the varieties of feathered game: these frequent the low and most sheltered grounds. There are
also a few blue jays, a species of lark, and a small
dusky brown bird, besides magpies, and two or three
kinds with very pretty plumage, such as the Mexican
woodpecker, which somewhat resembles a bullfinch.
Varieties of the eagle, falcon, and other ravenous birds
are met with ; and the wanderer may sometimes pick
up a solitary snipe, but these are migratory, and extremely rare. The surface of the dark mountain pool
is, at stated seasons, alive with water-fowl; and some
of the solitary marshes are frequented by a large
species of crane, which makes excellent soup, but so
shy that I have stalked them for hours without success.
The coast abounds with aquatic birds in great
variety, such as swans, geese, ducks, gulls, and numerous others.
The Large-horned Owl may be met with everywhere;
all-places are alike to it. At times it ghdes swiftly and
silently near the earth, and falls hke a bolt on its prey.
At other times it alights on a dead stump, and utters a
horrid shriek, which the wood echoes most dismally ;
and the traveller turns off his track, fancying from the
gurgling noise which follows, that some wretched man is
quitting the world with stifled groans. ' I have noticed in
the lofty mountains a large species measuring twenty-six
inches in length, with broad horns fully three inches
long, formed of fourteen feathers. It is when nature
is sunk in repose that this Nimrod of the feathered 38
tribes may be seen to most advantage, sailing in the
The White-headed Eagle may at all times be met
with on the lowlands by the sea-shore and on the
borders of rivers. From its loftiest elevation it perceives very minute objects on the ground, and darts
upon them with a loud rustling noise hke that occasioned by a violent gust of wind among the forest trees,
and with a rapidity which almost mocks the sight. It
is perfectly panic-stricken when surprised by man, and
is difficult of approach with a gun. I have seen one of
its nests which measured six feet in length, and eventually the same in depth, as it is added to every year.
A hissing snore, which may be heard a hundred yards
off, accompanies their sleep, and yet the crushing of a
twig awakens them.
The Bird of Liberty is often met with in the wilds of
British Columbia, and in no other country have I seen
finer specimens. Two of these magnificent creatures,
indisputably the grandest ever captured, were exhibited
in Victoria, and I shall never forget the undaunted eye
of the noble animals as they looked on the inquisitive
bystanders. An enthusiastic mountaineer, who evidently entertained a fond affection for their race,
purchased them for two dollars and let them fly. I
should have been sorry to see them ignobly tamed and
skurrying about some back yard. It was well to set
them free to battle for their prey among their native
The Condor is met with in the Pacific countries,
and is sometimes found to weigh over thirty pounds,
and to measure sixteen feet in stretch of wines.
The Black Eagle, which inhabits the ocean shores
and cliffs, is an extremely rare bird.    The plumage is Vancouver's island. 39
jet black, and the wings in some instances measure
thirty feet from tip to tip. It is very wild, and difficult
to kill, except when gorged with food. Moreover, it
has the sense of smell so acute, and the organ of hearing
7 D O
so perfect, that it will sniff the air for miles, and detect
the approach of man while still far distant.
Fish are caught upon the coast in extraordinary
variety and great abundance. Sturgeon of enormous
size are taken with the net, while salmon are taken with
the net and spear. Halibut, cod, bass, mackerel, perch,
flounder, skate, sole, carp, herrings, and eels—in short,
fish of almost all kinds—abound in incredible numbers ; as do also crabs, oysters, clams, cockles, and
other descriptions of shell-fish. The salmon is really
delicious, rich, and well flavoured, equal to any we get
in England; whilst beautiful spotted trout of several
varieties, and of exceUent quahty, are plentiful in
every brook and stream in the country, but they
are shy of bait. Sardines also abound, and are fully
equal in flavour and size to those imported in the well-
known tins.
In July the Salmon arrive in these regions in immense shoals; and so numerous are they that I have
often caught them by hand, or flung them out upon
the bank with a walking-stick. There are four varieties,
by no means of the same quahty, which arrive in rotation. One kind, the Hump-backed Salmon, deserves
notice, though ugly, soft, and flabby, and scarcely fit
to eat. The instinctive desire of these fish to reach
the upper waters is so strong that nothing can stop
them. The impetuous current is breasted, rapids are
passed, cascades leaped, the shallow waters are reached,
but still they press forward; while myriads are left
upon the strand, and die still struggling onwards.   The 40
fish on entering the river are in tolerably good order,
but after travelling up the stream a few hundred
miles they become very lean and much injured.
None of these poor salmon ever return to the ocean,
but, having performed their natural duty, perish by
instinctive suicide, striving after they know not what.
In the following spring the orphan fry descend to
the sea, where they are supposed to remain for four
years; after which they return on the track of their
forefathers to meet a similar fate. This seems a strange
dispensation; but were it not for this onward impulse
the country uninhabited, as these fish form
almost the only food of the Indians during the long
dreary winter season. Thousands upon thousands are
dried and stored away for future use.
Of Eeptiles and Insects there are but few, except
mosquitoes, which are intolerably numerous and virulent. There are a few harmless snakes and a few
lizards; but poisonous reptiles do not exist in this cold
wet chmate.
British Columbia presents but a poor Flora: but.
what else could be expected in a region which so early
reaches the hne of eternal snow? In forcing a path
through the forest several varieties of campanula and
lupine may be seen, and two or three kinds of small
shrubs bearing dark-blue and light-red berries, which
are sweet and wholesome, and much sought after by
the natives. The strawberry, gooseberry, raspberry,
crab-apple, and cherry are met with on the more
sheltered slopes. The wild rose, too, expands for a few
months in the blaze of day, but closes and droops in
the cold. The potato is universally cultivated; and
the camass, a small succulent root about the size of an
onion, is found in abundance, and stored for winter food Vancouver's island.
by the natives, who consider it a great delicacy. There
is also the Oregon grape, which grows on a low prickly
shrub, and is so sour as to be uneatable. The indigenous grasses are coarse, scant, and but httle nutritious.
There are swamp grasses of different kinds, nettles, and
wild clover; and the wild timothy and bunch grasses,
which, although of coarse quality, might, if abundant,
offer inducements to settlers to raise stock. In winter
the cattle have to be fed, as they cannot pick anything
during that season. Indeed, even throughout the
summer, we had to pack barley for our mules along
the 49th parallel, there being scarcely a blade of grass
to feed them, which added enormously to the expenses
of the Boundary Commission.
The long list of furs and feathers, which form so
prominent a feature in the commerce of British Columbia, would naturally lead the lover of the chase to
fancy that he would find every description of animal
and bird in sufficient profusion to satiate his keenest
desires; but he would be disappointed. None but the
experienced native trapper and hunter can be successful.
He, with rifle and deer-skin pouch, penetrates the most
forlorn wastes, where httle is heard save the howling,
whining, and yelping of starved wolves and other
fierce beasts of prey; and alone can survive the hardships of these peregrinations. In the interior of the
country elk, deer, and bears of all kinds abound; with
wolves, foxes, beaver, otter, marten, and lynx, and also
grouse, geese, duck, and snipe. These, however, are
found only in places where it would be extremely
dangerous for a white man to travel. The bush has
been beat up and traversed by me for days, in the
vicinity of both Victoria and New Westminster, but
never by any chance have I had the good luck to 42
lio-ht unon game or animal of any kind; and not until
I had penetrated to the Cascade Mountain range did I
set eves on a grizzly in his native wilds. Most of the
military and naval officers on duty in the colony have
perambulated the bush for days together, without
seeing a skin or a feather. They are universally ac-
knowledged to be crack sportsmen—indeed I happen
•to know that several of them are first-rate shots: and
yet I have seen them return to camp and ship, again
and again, chagrined and disappointed, loudly declaring that they never saw a tract less fruitful in
sport, and that they might as well have left their guns
and rifles at home.    Commander Mayne, p. 368, says:
II have travelled 600 miles in British Columbia without seeing anything larger than grouse, or having the
chance of more than half a dozen shots at them.'
And at p. 407 : \ The absence of animal life has always
appeared to me remarkable.' The haunts of game are
only fully known to the aboriginal trapper: but let
the stranger beware of hiring one of these savages to
guide him, as there are many instances of their having
piloted the unsuspecting sportsman for a short distance,
and then left him wandering away in the bush, until,
wearied and starved, he lay down to die, and be ruthlessly scalped by the first black fiend who tracked him
to his last resting-place.
I have now given you a faithful picture of British
Columbia such as it was when I left it. Since then I
have sedulously examined everything regarding it.
written or printed, that I could lay my hands upon,
and I have seen nothing to modify- my opinions—no-
thing to indicate the slightest improvement But how
could there be any improvement ?   The climate cannot VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 43
change—the soil cannot change; many of the town and
suburban lots at New Westminster and elsewhere are
in the hands of jobbers, and the days of profitable
lumbering in these remote regions have not yet arrived.
Of the diggings I make no account. Health and peace
are not to be found there, where reckless men go with
their lives in their hands, and risk a precarious existence for the slender chance of a speedy fortune. It is
only as a resting-place for our agricultural population—
a spot where the honest industrious husbandman may
hope to raise a happy homestead, and rear his family
in health and plenty, instead of vegetating in the penury
of an overstocked land—that a colony is worth a
thought; and British Columbia is certainly not one of
Vancouver's Island has the advantage of being
swept over by the winds of the west, and of being
protected from the cold winds of the north and east by
the mainland. The climate is therefore warmer, and
in many respects more agreeable, than that of British
Columbia. The island extends from 48° 17' to 50° 55'
north latitude, and from 123° 10' to 128° 30' west
longitude, and has an area of about 1,670 square miles,
or nearly one fourth of the size of England and Wales.
It is separated from the mainland by the Gulf of Georgia and Queen Charlotte's Sound, and is washed on the
remaining sides by the waters of the Pacific. North of
Queen Charlotte's Sound he Queen Charlotte's Islands,
a group of three, collectively about one hundred and
forty-five miles in length by about fifty miles in breadth.
There are occasionaUy heavy falls of snow, but it soon
melts away. The wild apple-trees are in full blossom
in June, and the native berries -are ripe and abundant 44 BRITISH  COLUMBIA  AND
in July. The Flora is scanty, nevertheless. Its surface
is chiefly woodland, and it contains valuable coal-fields.
The soil, though rather light, is well adapted to such
crops as are commonly raised in this country, and
many patches of good prairie-land are scattered' over
the island. There are no very high mountains; and
although dreary precipitous rocks characterise the
coast, there are several snug httle harbours indenting
the island, and happily, too, penetrating some of the
most eligible sites for agricultural settlement. The
inland scenery is very fine, and presents many views
of surpassing grandeur and loveliness, reminding the
Scottish traveller of his native land.
The most capacious harbour in the island is Esquimault. Its waters are smooth at all seasons, and its
shores form natural wharves. It is well sheltered, and
has good holding-ground, and the entrance is so easy
that the Great Eastern might go in at night. The
entrance to the harbour of Victoria, on the contrary, is
small, and contains several sunken rocks; and yet the
chief town was founded here, though Esquimault is but
three miles distant. What is called the town of Esquimault consists of-half a dozen houses, three or four
grog-shops, two retail dealers, and a couple of stores ;
and yet there is httle doubt but it will, from its natural advantages, one day supplant Victoria. The inlets
from different sides sometimes approach each other
very closely, giving great facilities for internal traffic, if
such should ever exist. A jagged mountain ridge
divides the island from north to south, and indeed the
whole centre appears to be a mere mass of rock and
mountain, the httle available land lying in patches
along the coast, and being, with small exception, densely
covered with timber trees.    The open iand, however,
though scanty, is in general good; but the forest land
would scarcely pay for the clearing.
The only town in the island is Victoria, which is
beautifully situated on undulating ground overlooking
the sea. The dwellings are built of wood ; but there
are a few brick stores, and one handsome stone structure, a branch of the Bank of British North America.
There are four churches, but they are devoid of architectural pretensions, and are never filled. One or two
government buildings, and a prison with the ceUs fully
tenanted, complete the cluster.
The entire colonial population amounts to about
5,000, and this includes British subjects, Mexicans,
Spaniards, French, Italians, citizens of the United
States, Chinese, and others. Of this number upwards
of 4,000 were concentrated in Victoria, which has
broughton appalling distress, owing to the impossibility
of obtaining employment of any kind. We learn from
the Weekly British Colonist of the 27th of January last
that many were absolutely starving from want of
food. In the same paper we find Governor Douglas
saying at a pubhc meeting called in aid of the Lancashire operatives : c I should not have appealed to your
benevolence this day in less urgent circumstances, for I
know the many calls that have been made upon you
by. the hundreds of distressed persons who are now
resident in this colony, and who must still be dependent
on your bounty for their support.' The editor again
said : ' We regret to state that there are between one
and two hundred young men unemployed in the town,
and many of them, to our own knowledge, are suffering
the keenest privations in consequence.' The following
extract from a letter addressed to the editor of the
Colonist speaks for itself:— 46
Victoria, V. I., November 25, 1862.—I have seen and
conversed with at least 20 men per the Silistria, and from
them I find that they can get no work, and they likewise
inform me that the statement that 160 of their passengers
were employed upon public works, as appears in your issue
of this morning, is untrue. There are not above 50, if so
many. You may see men returning every day from the
Cedar Hill and Esquimault roads, who can get there no employment. The contractors will tell you the same tale. I
hope you will still keep our case prominently before the
We would direct the attention of the Immigration Committee to several female passengers by the Silistria, who we
understand are in much need of advice and shelter.—Editor,
I British Colonist.''
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, January 20, 1863.—
This country is an atrocious swindle. We who have arrived
from England by the ship Silistria cannot find anything to
do, not even the roughest manual labour. Many who have
no private means of subsistence are literally starving, and
women who left the good old mother country full of hope
and confidence have been obliged to adopt the most degrading of lives. A dreadful panic has come, and hundreds of
deluded individuals curse Mr. Donald Fraser of the London
Times for his entirely false statements. This special correspondent found the country too hot for him. To escape
* Lynching,' he hastily left for San Francisco in California,
where it is to be hoped for the good of mankind he may
reflect on the great evil he has done — on his very perilous
position — and keep his cruel wicked pen dry in future.
I got the following information from a lady who has
just returned to England from Vancouver's Island :—
So great was the distress prevailing at Victoria when I
left, that numbers of persons were in a state of abject
wretchedness and want. Many women, too, who had been
assisted to leave England by misdirected philanthropy, have
alas ! fallen victims of misplaced confidence, and men may be
seen in hundreds patroling every inhabited spot in search of VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 47
food. Work there is none, and bread there is but little without money; and the poor deluded immigrants have long since
spent their little means in purchasing this common necessary
of life. The British consul at Panama was very constantly
applied to by returning emigrants from British Columbia and
Vancouver's Island, imploring pecuniary aid to enable them
to continue their course to their old homes, and thirty of these
miserable disappointed persons arrived at Panama by the last
steamer from the Fraser.
We find the editor of the British Colonist makinc a
powerful appeal in his paper of tie 2nd of February
last, on behalf of whole bands | of young men who are
now wandering about idle, and suffering severe privation—who are starving from the fact of not being
able to get something to do to earn a living.' There
can be no doubt that matters are in an awful state
when the ltfcal journal, whose interest it is to conceal
such deplorable results, says half this much.
The aborigines number about 15,000. These form
a source of constant terror to the widely scattered
colonists; and no wonder, for they are a truculent and
treacherous race, quick in revenge, and caring httle on
whom they wreak their vengeance. The butcheries
going on among the tribes are increasing. But the
other day, two of the Stickeens travelling between
Esquimault and Victoria, with their women, were shot
down by the Haidahs from the bush ; and this at six
o'clock in the evening, and in the presence of a number
of white people who were passing at the moment. A
short time ago the people of Victoria were in great
fear from an expected immigration of vast numbers of
the Northern Indians. Several canoes reported that
Skedigate, the most powerful chief in the island, was
on his way down with a large body of savages. It
was also stated that 1,000 canoes full of Indians, num- 48 BRITISH  COLUMBIA AND
bering perhaps 8,000 or 10,000, were on their way to
Victoria. Every man was counselled to arm himself,
not because an attack was expected, but because a
drunken brawl might terminate in serious consequences.
This is the natural result of supplying the Indians with
arms, ammunition, and whisky. On several occasions
they have committed murders and other desperate out-
rao-es, which the government was either too supine or
too weak to chastise. The opinion of well- informed
men is that they should be taught that they are the
weaker party, and that coming into collision with red
and blue coats is no trifling affair. No doubt an Indian
war is a thing to be dreaded; but it is very evident
that the longer the natives are temporised with, the
worse they will become. It is therefore better to
do now what must be done some day, and make a
severe example of them once for all.
The tribes which occupy Vancouver's Island are
called Nootka-Columbians. Though shorter than the
northern tribes, they are more muscular, and their complexion is more of a copper colour. They are lazier
and filthier than the Haidah tribes, and the legs of the
women are crooked, and of almost uniform thickness
from the ankle to the knee. The practice of flattening
the head is universal, and the method is very simple.
As soon as the child is born it is placed in a trough
scooped out of a log, flat at the bottom, and raised
where the nape of the neck rests. A flat stone is then
placed on the forehead, and is kept in its place by
means of twisted bark or other fastening till the child
is able to walk. Chiefs and free men alone possess the
privilege of thus disfiguring their offspring.
Before quitting the subject I may as well mention a
touching instance of parental affection which occurred VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 49
here. An old Indian and his wife were seen bitterly
weeping in front of the prison at Victoria. When
asked the cause of their distress, they said that they
were crying for their son who was sick in prison, his
ailment being a spitting of blood. On being told that
they might see him in the court-house, they instantly
arose and went thither. The scene was very affecting.
The weather-beaten and worn-out old warrior bent
over his unfortunate boy, his breast heaving with
sorrow, and streams rolling down his furrowed cheeks.
The sight quickly reached the lad's heart; he hid his
face and poured out a flood of tears. He was sentenced to twenty days' hard labour. In the afternoon
of the same day, the old man, his wife, and a middle-
aged Indian stood before the magistrate's house. The
father's plea was : ' Our hearts are filled with trouble
for our son. We cannot cease to weep continually.
We cannot sleep. Our son is spitting blood. He will
die in prison. He cannot work.' The old man then
petitioned, pointing to his equally anxious friend: ' Let
this man take the place of our boy in prison. He is
strong. He can work. Our son will die.' The proposed
substitute then entreated that he might suffer instead of
the boy, asserting his own willingness and power to
work, and the boy's inability. It need scarcely be added
that the worthy magistrate commuted the sentence to a
few days' confinement without hard labour.
Victoria is by no means a desirable place of residence ; the population has been gathered from the ends
of the earth, and is accordingly of a very heterogeneous
character. There is no society for ladies, nor indeed
for cultivated persons of any description. Time will
doubtless alter all this ; but at present the town, is, like
all towns near the gold mines, a perfect Babel.
D 50
Building and speculation occupy everybody in
Victoria, and very httle attention is bestowed on
agriculture — a sufficient proof of which is found in
the facts that the whole agricultural produce of the
country would not meet the demand of the capital for
one month in the year; and that (as Mr. Maclure,
delegate from Vancouver's Island, stated at the pubhc
meeting convened by the British North-American
Association, and held at the London Tavern on the
21st of January last) 'for miles round Victoria the
land lay in a primitive condition, in the hands of
speculators, and, as far as the eye could range, there
was nothing like cultivation discernible.' *
There are extensive and valuable coal-fields at
Nanaimo, and a company has been formed for working
them, with every prospect of success. There are two
seams, one of which is in all parts about 6 feet in thickness ; the other averaging 3i to 4 feet.    The existence
* In proof of this statement I have extracted from the British
Colonist of January 13, 1863, the following ' Black List,' which
shows that large tracts of land were preempted in 1858 and 1859 by
landsharks and speculators who never intended to pay, but simply to
get the land allotted to them in the hope of inducing new arrivals to
purchase at a price much enhanced. That they have failed to get
rid of these lands, and that such extensive ranges are still in the
market, speak volumes against the alleged prosperity of a colony,
which is, I am sorry to say, kept in existence by borrowed capital,
and had on the 31st of December, 1862, a balance in the treasury
of but 663Z. 14s. lOd.
'Public Notice. — All persons holding land in any of the surveyed districts are notified that, unless the instalments due by them
are paid into the Land Office on or before the 1st day of February
next, such lands will on that day be forfeited and resold at pubhc
auction on the 2nd day of February, 1863. The sections of land in
respect of which instalments are due are stated in the schedule
hereto, with the names of the persons who are believed to be the VANCOUVER S  ISLAND.
of coal on the Pacific coast, of quahty fit for steamers,
is of great   commercial  importance ;  and  that from
owners.—J. Despard Pemberton, Surveyor General, Office of Lands
and Works, 2nd January, 1863.
Amount of Instalments, exclusive of Interest, due on Lands sold
previous to October 31, 1862.
Supposed Owner
Amount due
£    s. d.
P. Merriman.
64 16 8
J. aud GK Deans
22    0 0
Ditto     .
41    0 0
J. W. McKay
210    0 0
Lxxvm, LXXIX
Robt. Anderson
90    0 0
P. Merriman.
37    7 0
W. R. Parson
7 10 0
O. Dutnall    .
10    0 0
xxxiy, en
D. Cameron .
67 10 0
J. Grreig
6    0 0
P. W. Wallace
25    8 0
J. Simpson   .
9 10 0
W. Reid
13 12 6
G-. McKenzie
14 10 0
lxyh, Lxvm
W. Hunt
12    0 0
A. Peatt
48 10 0
H. Richards .
24 15 0
lxxiv, lxxv
A. Peatt
25    0 0
M. Cary
4 10 0
Gr. R. Lawrence
18 15 0
C. Taylor
51 15 0
J. McGrregor .
75 10 0
E. Vine
41    0 0
R. Weir
20    0 0
R. Weir
68    0 0
A. J. Chambers
90 18 4
L. Lowenberg
39 10 7
i, n, m
J. Muir.
250    5 0
v, vn
Michael Muir
39 12 6
Archd. Muir .
75    0 0
xxtii, xxvin,
\f. W. Hutchingson     .
72    7 6±
D. McTavish
92    2 9
R. Smith
22 19 2
Mason and Balls
30    0 0
R. Porter
8    0 0
W. Pook
75    0 0
S. Ricketts    .
75    0 0
J. Hovie
0 17 3
xxxn, xxxm
D. B. Ring   .
40    5 0
Ditto    .
37 10 0
J. J. Skinner
181 10 0 52
Nanaimo is admitted to be the best in the market.
"The village of Nanaimo is very picturesquely situated
of Instalments, fyc.—continued
District                Range
Section                      Supposed Owner
Amount due
W. Hillier    .
£4: 18 3
D. B. Ring   .
26    7 6
E. Lewis
93 10 0
S. Franklin   .
49    0 0
xcrvi, xcvn
J. M. Yates .
188 10 0
J. Stevens
25    0 0
H. Smith
49    0 0
N. Saanich
1 W
16, 17, 18
A. C. .Anderson
131    3 0
3 W
21, 22
I John Miles (Executors)
53    5 0
13, 14, 15
Thos. Lowe   .
73 10 0
1 W
J. M Thain .
24 10 0
S. Franklin   .
24 15 0
E. Green
36 10 0
S. Saanich -
11, 12, 5
>D. Fraser   .
85 10 0
N. Saanich <
3 E
m   1
13, 14
J. Irving
79 10 0
1 W
Thos. Lowe  .
13    5 0
1 2 3 W
Mark Coles (Thos. Harris)
128    5 0
S. Saanich
1 W '
5, 6
W. Thomson
49    0 0
A. McPhale .
16 17 6
i i
11, 12, 13
1 W
11, 12, 13
LW. O. Smith
122 11 3
2 W
11, 12
D. Lydgate   .
12 15 0
Mary Rothwell (Trustees)
24 10 0
1 W, 2W
3 W
>W. Simson .
J                                      i
56 10 0
1 E
9, 10
Geo. Deeks   .
98    0 0
9, 10, 11
G. Richardson
73 10 0
M. Tuite
24 10 0
J. Fronten
24 10 0
Ed. Scott
24 10 0
5, 6
W. A. Mouett
49    5 0
9, 10
J. I. A. Chambers.
98    0 0
4, 5
L. Trudell     .
49    0 0
Gough and Baker .
49    0 0
0. Sabiston   .        .
21 15 0
46    0 0
3, 4, 5
W. Isberter and A. G.
44 15 0
J. Randal and J. Sage .
31 10 0
E. Gough and J. Biggs .
5    5 0
E. Gough
50 10 0
G. St. George
on the north shore of an excellent harbour, on the
east coast of the island, backed by a range of hills
some 3,000 feet high. It is a well-sheltered port
having a good entrance from the Gulf of Georgia, and
another from the south, which however is very narrow.
The village itself consists of from fifty to sixty houses,
with steam-engines, tramways, and piers ; and salmon
abound in the river and harbour.
Almost all the cattle consumed in Victoria, and
shipped thence to the mainland, come from Oregon
and Washington territory. Indeed it is doubtful whether the island will ever be able to produce enough
for its own consumption. It is questionable whether,
with aU its advantages, corn could be grown exten-
sively. Potatoes are largely planted by the natives,
of whose food they form a very considerable portion;
•but here its farming capabilities end. According to
Dr. Eattray of the Eoyal Navy, p. 57 of his book,
i Neither the geological structure, nor the general topographical features of Vancouver's Island, adapt it for
developement as an agricultural or pastoral colony.'
Again, p. 162 : S The hilly nature of the island and its
scanty soil preclude the possibility of extensive farming ; its available land is hmited, and only adapted for
farming on a smaU scale.' The Doctor's statements in
reference to British Columbia are worthless, as he
never traversed that colony.
Then we have the official report of a journey across
Vancouver's Island by Lieut. Philip James Hawkins,
E.N., to Captain Eichards, as it appears in the Weekly
Colonist of December 16, 1862 :—' We saw no perfectly clear land anywhere. . . I observed 300 acres
of very good, quite park-like, land, not very thickly
wooded, and covered with fern.    This was the first
m 54
and only piece of good land, available for agricultural purposes, I saw.' Three hundred acres! Why,
not more than would make an isolated httle farm. Yet
the i special correspondent' of the Times assures us that
there are thousands upon thousands of arable acres,
which Lieut. Hawkins has never seen and does not
beheve to exist!
From the abundance and variety of fish in the surrounding seas, and from its numerous harbours, extensive and lucrative fisheries might be established; and
the export of coals would form an important element
of prosperity. Ship-building, too, for which, from its
numerous inlets and fine timber, it seems to be especially adapted, might be profitably carried on. But
these are matters, not for poor settlers, but for wealthy
capitalists, who will hve at home in England and work
them by means of agents.
Commander Mayne says, p. 408 : ' The great set-off
that Vancouver's Island has against the gold of British
Columbia is her timber; for, though timber abounds
in British Columbia, we came upon no place there
where such fine spars were to be found, and with such
facilities for shipping, as at Barclay Sound and the
neighbourhood of Fort Rupert.'
There is no opening for small farmers, the labour
market is overstocked, and mechanics are at a discount : for not one of those classes, in short—the
amelioration of whose miserable lot is the dearest aim
of the philanthropist—is there the slightest chance in
Vancouver's Island, any more than in the inhospitable
neighbouring region of British Columbia, where the
entire white population has dwindled down to 6,000
r 7,000, upwards of 10,000 having already left the
country. Indeed, the Hon. Malcolm Cameron, member of the Canadian Parliament, and delegate from
British Columbia, while urging, on the 21st of January last, at the pubhc meeting at the London Tavern,
the importance of enabling people to reach the colony
cheaply, admitted that 'it was not the place for the
man who had no money to go to, for without money
he could not stay there ;' and that 'it was a melancholy
fact that there were a large number of persons unemployed in Victoria, who hardly knew how to pass the
Beheving, as I do, that one fact is worth a thousand
unsupported assertions, I give the following official
statement of the revenue of Vancouver's Island :—
Auditor's Report. Abstract of the Revenue, &c, received
during the year 1862. — Real estate tax, 6683/. lis. lid.',
Land sales, 3,050/. 7s. lid!.; Land revenue, 92/. 4s. Id.;
Liquor licenses, 3,653/. 5s.; Trading licenses, 2,840/. 10s.;
Victoria Street tax (arrears), 64/. 13s. 8d.; Harbour dues,
3,428Z. 2s. lOd ; Postages, 448/, 7s. 4d; Fines, forfeitures,
and fees of court, 1,6501. 5s.; Fees of office, 5061. 6s. 9c/.;
Reimbursements in aid of expenses, 237/. 16s. lid.; Miscellaneous receipts, 35/. 3s. 2d.; Rent, 1151. 7s. 9d.; Deposits,
10/. 2s.; Light-houses, 978/. 8s. 9c/.; Interest, 82/. 3s. lOcZ,:
Loans in aid of revenue, 13,060/. 10s. Qd.; Gr. T. Gordon's
defalcations, 289/. 14s. 10c/.—Total, 37,087/. 3s. 3c/. Advances accounted for, 8,745/. 14s. Id.
From the above it is evident to anyone familiar with
the revenues of young colonies, that when the Liquor
hcenses exceed in amount the returns from the sale of
pubhc lands, the colony must be in a very rotten condition. Moreover, it is certainly most discouraging to
gather from this Government Eeport that the entire 56
proceeds of the sale of Crown lands for 1862 aniount
to the paltry sum of 3,050/. only, notwithstanding the
immigration of that year ; and that the land tax figures
at 6,683, more than double the land sales. An important fact should also be noticed, that a loan of 13,000/.
has been classed as revenue, which is fallacious ; the
net revenue being but 24,000/. So that after paying the
meagre salaries of officials, there are not 10,000/. left
to meet the cost of the conveyance of mails ; the construction of roads, pubhc buildings, and works; and the
usual demands on a colonial treasury. It is therefore
quite plain that if the borrowing system be extended
the colony must succumb and bankruptcy follow.
I have now, Ladies and Gentlemen, endeavoured to
give you a just idea of these much vaunted colonies.
It is widely different from what you have received
from others, but it is nevertheless true. I have no
interest to serve but those of humanity: no feelings to
gratify, but such as must animate the breast of everyone who sees hard-working men drawn to their ruin
with all to lure and none to save. It is hard to attribute dishonest motives to any man, and some have put
forth misstatements who ought to be above suspicion :
but it requires the experience of a practical farmer to
form a correct estimate of the value of soils, and it
requires a lengthened residence, and extensive travel
through a country, to enable even the farmer, with all
his experience, to give an opinion at all. Now, none
of the gentlemen who have put forth such glowing
statements are possessed of either of these qualifications.
They appear to have visited the colonies at the most
favourable season, and to have rehed for the rest upon VANCOUVER'S  ISLAND. 57
the reports of residents—men, perhaps, who had spent
their whole fives in these regions, and had come to
think that extreme heat in summer and intense cold
in winter, varied by alternations of snow and rain and
sleet and fogs for eight months in the year, formed the
natural and universal course of the seasons. In no
other way can I account for the boldness with which
assertions have been made which a few months' residence must scatter to the winds. But there are men
who deserve no such merciful consideration—harpies
whenever meant to dwell in the colony—who invested
their capital in buying up all the best allotments in
order to reseU them at advanced prices to the real
settlers. They now find they have made a bad speculation, and are eager to dispose of their land; but
customers are not there, and they neither stick at any
falsehood to induce them to come, nor care what
becomes of them after they have fleeced them. These
are the parents of the jugghng paragraphs which appear
from time to time in the newspapers, and the no less
iuggling letters ; these are they who ruin colonies and
colonists; and it is in the hope of keeping the emigrant
out of their clutches that I have raised my voice, and
shall continue to raise it, as long as I think I can be of
any the poor fellows who have to fight this
world's hard battle with scanty means.   ,
I earnestly trust that no one will suppose that I am
adverse to emigration. It is indeed a lesson taught us
by nature herself. In the first year of their wonderful
existence the young ants are provided with wings, in
order to enable them to remove far from their parent
nest. The bees throw off their annual swarms, which
quit the hive or hollow tree in which they have been 58 BRITISH  COLUMBIA AND
nurtured to seek for honey in other fields. £hese
fields are the Canadas, the Australias, the New Zea-
lands, and the Natals of their world—certainly not the
If I have at all succeeded in conveying a knowledge
of the true character of these colonies, you will see
the absurdity of wasting a moment on the means of
arriving at them. It will be enough to say that the
ways are two. One a hazardous and tedious voyage
of five or six months round the stormy southern Cape,
and thus through the snows and fogs of the south
reaching the snows and fogs of the north. The other
by the Isthmus of Panama, considerably shorter, but
subject to detention in a sickly chmate, with the chances
of yeUow fever. There is, indeed, through New York,
a third and better way to the shores of the Pacific, but
it is more expensive. In any case the cost is too great,
and the journey too dangerous to be undertaken by a
family. If Eden were at the end of it, it would be
another matter; but such a goal I A land in which
the only hope that sustains the emigrant is the hope of
leaving it! Even my friend, Mr. Fraser, the special
correspondent of the Times, has left the country and
taken up his residence in California; doubtless regretting the day that he set sail for the inhospitable
regions in which he had been so greatly deceived.
But why trouble ourselves about these dependencies
and their approaches, when other and more accessible
and far better invite us? There is Canada with her
clear bracing winters, frosty but kindly; long, it is true,
but joyous. There are Austraha and New Zealand in
the distance, with genial chmate and fruitful soil; and
there is Natal nearer home.    In all these countries an VANCOUVER S  ISLAND. 59
industrious man may arrive at independence, certainly
at comfort — enjoying life while he toils ; and, in all,
failure is the exception. When South Africa is full,
when New Zealand is overstocked, when Australia has
not room for another inhabitant, then may Enghshmen
turn their eyes to the inhospitable wilds of Northwestern America.
And so we bid adieu to British Columbia and Vancouver's Island.
One Vol. 8vo. with a Comprehensive Map, price 12*.
By D. G-. F. MACDONALD, C.E., M.R.S.L., F.B GhS., J.P., Ac.
(Late of the Government Survey Staff of British Columbia, and of the International Boundary
Line of North America), Author of ' What tbe Farmers may Do with the Land,
•TheParis Exhibition,'' Decimal Coinage,' &c.
' This work deserves attention.    It possesses interesting information, clear arrangement, and occasional warmth of description.' Invergordon Times.
' This is in every respect a most important work, and deserves the serious consideration of the Government and the country.' Observer.
'A very able, praiseworthy, and interesting work—boldly written—tingling of
truth throughout—and one that will doubtless be read with much avidity.'
I Mr. Macdonald writes down tbe land as one almost accursed by nature.'
' In short, there is information for all who desire to know anything about the
colony, but more especially for those who contemplate emigrating to that district.'
Liverpool Mercury.
IA most startling book, after the glowing articles which have issued from the
press.' Guardian.
c We have no reason to believe Mr. Macdonald other than an unprejudiced reporter
of what he heard and saw in the much-vaunted colony.' Critic.
4 An important and remarkable publication, which warns our countrymen from
rushing hoodwinked on their ruin.' Mirror.
■ Whoever may be disposed to go on a venture to British Columbia can never say
that they were misled by Mr. Macdonald.' Bell's Weekly Messenger.
' This handsome volume cannot fail to interest all who have friends in the colony.
 The general account is dreary enough, except for those who are burning with the
aura sacra fames.' Era.
'This is an excellent literary production, affording much valuable information. In
the face of Mr. Macdonald's statements, it is surely a doubtful benevolence that ship3
off poor governesses and seamstresses to this distant colony.' Albion.
' Of Vancouver's Island the author speaks in more favourable terms, and with
California he is in raptures Cannot do better than consult Mr. Macdonald's
hook.' Weekly Dispatch.
j The statements with which this book abounds are extremely important, inasmuch
os they present the strongest possible contrast to the popular belief on the subject in
this country. His appreciation of natural scenery is keen, and his descriptions are
vigorous and life-like.' London Review.
j Mr. Macdonald's practical knowledge of agriculture—his education, profession,
and experience—give a weight and importance to his opinions in respect to tne
productiveness or sterility of a country which members of other professions cannot
expect to command.' Spectator.
* This handsome volume will take its place as the best book published on the subject.
11 abounds with information on every topic in connection with the country, and
deserves the attention of every one.'
Kentish Chronicle. British Columbia and Vancouver's Island.
' This handsome volume, from the pen of a talented and distinguished countryman,
awakens interest alike from the importance of the subject and the thorough fidelity
with which it is treated. We unhesitatingly aver that no volume on a kindred
subject has ever issued from the press presenting a better prima facie claim to
implicit reliance. Mr. Macdonald obviously aims at a truthful and unvarnished statement of facts.' Northern Ensign.
I Mr. Macdonald furnishes a great deal of interesting information regarding the
Indian tribes of British Columbia, the natural history and botany of the country, and
has made up altogether a goodly volume of facts, hints, and theories.'
Inverness Courier.
' This work demands the serious attention of every one intending to emigrate to
British Columbia or Vancouver's Island—of every one who would desire information
respecting those regions We are, moreover, disposed to believe Mr. Macdonald
writes in perfect good faith, and has no inducement to advance statements unwarranted by facts or opinions not well grounded. We regard the work as a most
valuable one.' The Eield.
' The geology, botany, and natural history of British Columbia are interestingly
discussed, to which are added numerous sketches of the aboriginal inhabitants, with
their habits of life and religious observances.    We specially recommend the volume.'
Edinburgh Witness.
* The fact of this work having reached a second edition in a comparatively short
period, indicates its claim to be considered of standard excellence, which it undoubtedly is.' Morning Advertiser.
c His book is practical, sensible, and well-informed on local matters.'
c This book contains ample details concerning the geography, natural history, and
productions of British Columbia—and to the author undoubtedly belongs the merit
of having written a large and interesting work upon a very important subject.'   Star.
'His description of the festive entertainments of the Red Indians are highly
amusing, and his hints to emigrants are most valuable. We cordially recommend the
volume as the work of an accomplished scholar, and an honest, truth-telling man.'
Morning Herald.
' Mr. Macdonald paints the country as a great barren ice-bound hungry waste.  No
doubt British Columbia is very severe in the winter season.    Cox's " Columbia River,"
Washington Irving's " Astoria," and various other books, go to prove this.'
The Englishman—' Atlas?
' The work commands respect, for it is well written and reliable.'
Manchester Courier.
' This instructive volume has been most opportunely published by a gentleman
worthy of all trust, and whose scientific attainments are varied and profound.'
' Undoubtedly the best work on the subject—full of interest, pith, and power.'
'So thorough a handling of the subject is a most valuable contribution to our
colonial literature.' Express.
' We earnestly recommend the book, which is full of interest and replete with
information.' Illustrated London News.
'We heartily welcome this volume, as hitherto all accounts have been couleur
de rose? DlAI"
* This is positively a remarkable, able, and truthful work, which should put writers
of fiction to the blush.    It verifies the old saying—magna est Veritas et pravalebit.'
' The most wretched and miserable country under the sun.    What we heard of it
in England was a gross fabrication of infamous lies concocted by interested persons.'
6 Star, Nov. 4,1862. British Columbia and Vancouver's Island.
' I have now read your book from end to end, and I can state very frankly, from
my personal knowledge of British Columbia, as well as from deductions formed from
accounts communicated to me by many persons who have traversed the country since
1853, that I give full confirmation to all you have said respecting the chmate, soil,
and physical aspect of the colony.'
A Resident eor nearly Ten Tears.—Vide Standard, Nov. 6,1862.
' We cordially commend this volume as a most striking, comprehensive, and powerful
work of incalculable value to intending emigrants.' Sentinel.
'But the illusion of a Utopia is roughly Mr. Macdonald, who has
written with a bold and vigorous pen and in an agreeable style.'
Parthenon and Literary Gazette.
' Lord Bacon saith truly, there are three things which make a nation great and
prosperous—a fertile soil, busy workshops, and easy conveyance for man and commodities from one place to another; but these essentials are, according to our author,
altogether wanting in British Columbia.' Banner.
' This is a very able and useful work, scholarly and trustworthy, setting forth the
truth in a bold and fascinating style, blending information and entertainment agreeably
and successfully.   The work is altogether most attractive.' Warder.
' The author of this disenchantment tells us that British Columbia is a miserable
country—that it wants fine land, prairie, and chmate.' Post.
' These are true statements, and no blame can be strong enough to be applied to
those who have ignorantly, carelessly, or wilfully misled, or have furbished up old
woodcuts, and dished up glowing paragraphs, to lead many families into misery, famine,
and death.' Family Herald.
Sir—The Editor of the Times having refused to insert the subjoined correspondence
in that journal, perhaps you will do me the favour to publish it in your journal.—
I am, &c. D. G. E. Macdonald.
18 Parliament Street, Nov. 5.
Sir—At a time when the whole country is perplexed by the contradictory statements which have appeared in books, pamphlets, and newspapers relative to British
Columbia and Vancouver's Island, you will not, I hope, hesitate to publish the
following correspondence in the Times.
Your readers will no doubt peruse Mr. Langford's letter with deep interest, and
attach importance to the opinions of a gentleman who has been engaged in extensive
farming operations in Vancouver's Island for upwards of nine years, and who had
been for many years, and until his departure from the colony in 1861, Chairman of the
Bench of Magistrates.—I am, sir, yours obediently,
D. G. E. Macdonald.
18 Parliament Street, Nov. 4.
London, Oct. 23, 1862.
Dear Sir—Seeing that you have returned to England, and that conflicting accounts
are disseminated day after day in this country respecting the climate, pastoral and
agricultural capabilities of British Columbia and Vancouver's Island, and that my
writings relative to these dependencies have been impugned, I am induced to solicit British Columbia and Vancouver's Island.
the favour of your kindly giving me your written opinion as to whether the book in
question (published by Messrs. Longman & Co., a copy of which I send to you) contains truth or exaggerated statements.
It can hardly be doubted that the sentiments of a gentleman so eminently qualified
as you are to give an opinion on a subject of such moment to the emigrating population of this country will be received by the pubhc with favour and thankfulness.
I am, dear sirx yours faithfully,
D. G. E. Macdonald, O.E.
Late of the Government Survey Staff of British Columbia.
E. E. Langford, Esq., J.P., &c.
London, Nov. 4, 1862.
Dear Sir—I feel that I cannot well refuse to answer your letter of the 23rd ult.,
to which I would have replied earlier had I not wished, before doing so, to have
perused your work on British Columbia and Vancouver's Island with care and
I have now read your book from end to end, and I can state very frankly, from my
personal knowledge of British Columbia, as well as from deductions formed from
accounts communicated to me by many persons who have traversed the country since
1858, that I give full confirmation to all you have said respecting the climate, soil,
and physical aspect of the colony.
As true as there is an extensive auriferous tract in British Columbia, equally true
is it that that territory can never become either agriculturally or pastorally a rich and
great province.
It is nothing short of reckless assertion to say that ' prairies' exist in these dependencies, from which winter provender might be easily procured. It is a matter of
notoriety on the Pacific coast' that the very pack-trains to the Columbian mines have
to carry Californian barley at an enormous cost, to keep skin and bone of horse and
mule together.
You are correct in stating that British Columbia wants fine land, prairie, and
genial climate, and that the country is neither adapted for cattle nor suited to cereals.
This is, indeed, the only conclusion that an experienced agriculturist could possibly
arrive at.
You have very justly drawn a more favourable picture of Vancouver's Island, which
possesses natural advantages not common to the sister colony. In chmate and soil—
particularly the former—Vancouver's Island is much superior. But its agricultural
and pastoral capabilities have also been very greatly exaggerated by interested newspaper correspondents and other writers. There is, indeed, every reason to fear that
many of the emigrants of this country, who have been misled by flattering accounts,
and who have arrived on those distant shores with slender means at this inclement
season will be exposed to severe privation and possibly to actual want.
I would venture to draw your attention to what I presume is a typographical error
in your book, where you allude to the climate of Vancouver's Island. It should be
27° below freezing point, not zero. This is the only error which I have observed in
its many pages. I am quite aware, however, that the cold is very much more severe
in British Columbia.
You are welcome to make any use you please of this communication. It may
probably assist in dispelling the many erroneous impressions which prevail in England
as to the nature of the country, climate, and resources of these colonies, and in supporting what you have so clearly and forcibly expressed in your most valuable work.
I am, dear sir, faithfully yours,
Edward E. Langford,
A Resident for nearly Ten Years.
D. G. E. Macdonald, Esq., C.E., &c.
London: LONGMAN, GREEN, & CO. 14 Ludgate Hill. SECOND   EDITION.
' A sounder, better argued, or more thoroughly sensible practical pamphlet is not
often met with. Mr* Macdonald belongs to the go-ahead class of agriculturists, and
sees nothing in store for the farmer but prosperity, if he only goes the right way to
extract it from the land. The superior economy and efficiency, of the Scottish system
of agriculture is practically demonstrated from a variety of details, stated with great
clearness and much method of arrangement. Altogether, the pamphlet is one calculated
to do good and set the farmers thinking, and we hope that its rural circulation may
prove equal to its merits ' Atlas.
' A pamphlet abounding with information, such as cannot fail to recommend itself.'
' This is an excellent practical and well-timed pamphlet, stimulating the English
agriculturists to improvement. Mr. Macdonald writes like a man in earnest, and one
who is practically acquainted with the subject, and we hope that his pamphlet will be
well circulated among the far niente bucolic interest.' Morning Chronicle.
'Mr. Macdonald appeals to the English farmers to apply the most improved
Scottish system of cultivation to their lands; reminds them that the barren north
produces on an average—thanks to enterprise and skill—more than a third more corn
per acre than the genial south ; and reads our sluggishly-moving English friends a
sound lecture on their tendencies to retrograde rather than to go a-head—filling his
pamphlet with hard-hitting facts and excellent and sensible practical details.'
Inverness Courier,
'Of all the pamphlets which have recently been published on agricultural improvements, none of them contain more practical information in such small compass.'
Northern Ensign.
'It is a most sensible pamphlet—we would cordially recommend it.'      Examiner,
' If one of the greatest elements of success consists in speaking to the times, and
speaking in language not tp be mistaken, then we say this pamphlet must obtain a
wide circulation, and be the means of doing a vast amount of good.'       Observer.
' Its pages convey a vivid and correct picture of the present state of agriculture.
The hints are most valuable.' Guardian.
' We recommend this pamphlet to our agricultural friends. It is the work of a
practical man, not a mere theorist.' Gloucester Journal.
' This work is clearly and concisely written, and is certainly by a master in farming.
It should be perused not only by the landed proprietors and farmers of England but
by every one who is in any way connected with the occupancy and cultivation of the
soil*' The Weekly Dispatch.
'A very able pamphlet.'—The Right Hon. Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, Bart., M.P. -
ADAMS, 9 Parliament Street.      


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