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Early days in British Columbia Sillitoe, Violet E. 1922

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Violet E. (Pelly) Sillitoe  ■■*"-" '  "—Tfi"
iEarig lags
with a Foreword by
The Bishop !o/ New Westminster  ■s
First Bishop of New Westminster FOREWORD
THE desire has been expressed by many who have
listened to this lecture that their pleasure might be
shared in by others. To meet this desire and to
preserve the many interesting word pictures which are so
graphically sketched of life in British Columbia in the
early days, this pamphlet has been published. There are
few folk in our Province more widely known and more
highly esteemed than the writer. Her unceasing labor on
behalf of "all sorts and conditions of people" during her
husband's lifetime endeared her to a wide circle of acquaintances.
Taking up her residence again in the Province, after
an interval of a few years had elapsed, subsequent to her
bereavement, Mrs. Sillitoe has been as unceasingly devoted
to good works as in former years. Her labors for the
prisoners during the period of the Great War were most
fruitful and beneficial. In every department of the
Church's activities her interest has been keenly exercised.
It is with a deep sense of the value of her counsel and
advice, and a realization of her splendid work for Christ
and His Church, that the Third Bishop of the Diocese
thus writes concerning the helpmeet of the First Bishop
of New Westminster.
The See House,
Nanton  Ave.,  Vancouver,  B.C.,
December, 1922. EARLY DAYS
THE old-timers, pioneers of by-gone days, are fast
passing away, and the younger generation taking
their place know but little of the history of our
Province. I have been asked to jot down, for the benefit
of those who come after, what I know about the beginnings of Church history in British Columbia, and also
something about my husband's and my own wanderings in
the  semi-pioneer days  of forty years  ago.
In the late 'fifties of the last century there was a discovery of gold on William's Creek, in the Cariboo District, and also on the Fraser, and there was in consequence a rush of gold miners into the Province.
The dear old Mother Church of England could not
leave her children over here unprovided for, so the diocese
of British Columbia was organized, Miss Burdett Coutts
(afterwards Baroness) providing not only the episcopal endowment but also endowments for two Archdeaconries as
wtll, one of which we have in New Westminster Diocese.
The Rev. George Hills, vicar of Great Yarmouth, was
chosen as the first Bishop and consecrated in Westminster Abbe}' on St. Matthias' Day, 1859. He spent some
few months, after his consecration, in securing both men
and means for his new work, and in November, 1859, he
sailed for the Far West. ■
Bishop Hills
First Bishop of British Columbia Early Days in British Columbia
Bishop Hills got vigorously to work, after his arrival
in Victoria on January 6th, 1860, but he found that not
only was his diocese a huge one, but the means of getting
about were almost nil. He was a handsome, dignified
man, with stately, courteous manners that make it difficult
to picture him encountering the rough conditions of the
country in 1860, but, soon after his arrival, he undertook
the long, tedious ride over the trail to Cariboo, accompanied by the Rev. John Sheepshanks as chaplain. In his
reminiscences, Mr. Sheepshanks states that William, the
Bishop's servant, who accompanied them, was the only
one to disapprove of such journeyings. British Columbia
in those days was but little developed. There were no
roads and only a few trails had been cut, so that getting
about from place to place not only took time but was a
difficult problem. A trail had, however, been cut through
to the Cariboo Mines, and over this the Bishop made the
long, tedious journey to Barkerville. He soon came to
the conclusion that if any justice was to be done to the
work of the. Church, this diocese would have to be divided.
He at once set himself, both in British Columbia and in
England, to bring about this result, but it was not until
twenty years after his consecration that he was successful, and was able to divide his unwieldly diocese into three,
Bishop Hills keeping for himself Vancouver Island under
the original title of the See of Columbia; the Mainlandd
being divided into two,—the northern half forming the
diocese of Caledonia, to which the Rev. William Ridely
was consecrated in August, 1879, the southern half forming
the diocese of New Westminster. It was to this diocese
of New Westminster that my husband was consecrated on
All Saints' Day, 1879. He also, like Bishop Hills, spent
some months in England after his consecration, organizing a home  committee,  travelling about addressing after- Early Days in British Columbia
noon and evening meetings, preaching, and trying to interest people in the work out here.
In the end of April, 1880, we left England, travelling
across the continent by the Union Pacific to San Francisco, the only transcontinental railway line in those days;
from San Francisco by steamer to Victoria; and from there
to New Westminster by steamer, arriving on June 18th,
1880. On the wharf to meet the Bishop were two of his
clergy, Archdeacon Woods and the Rev. C. Baskett. This
was half of the clerical staff of the diocese, which at that
time consisted of three priests and one deacon. We went
straight up from the steamer to Holy Trinity Church,
afterwards the Cathedral, where a service of thanksgiving
was held, and thus my husband's work in the diocese
But now I must go back to the earlier days in New
The first rector, the Rev. John Sheepshanks, came out
in 1859. New Westminster, in those days, was just a
clearing in the forest, with shacks dotted about among the
stumps. In one of these Mr. Sheepshanks lived. The
window was glazed with a piece of cotton, no glass being
'available. He began work with a congregation of seven
or eight, which by degrees grew to a goodly number, and
soon a church was erected, costing £1,200, and dedicated
to the Holy Trinity. In September, 1865, this church was
burnt down, but with the help of friends in England another one (this time of stone) was built and consecrated
by Bishop Hills in December, 1867. About thirty years
later this second church was destroyed in the great fire,
so that the present one is New Westminster's third church.
The. Rev. C. T. Woods, afterwards Achdeacon of Columbia,
who came out to Victoria in 1860, became rector of Holy
Trinity, New Westminster, in 1868.
7 MM
Early Days in British Columbia
St. Mary's, Sapperton, was built, under the supervision
of Archdeacon Wright, by the Royal Engineers, and was
consecrated in May, 1865. It took the place of a still
earlier church, which was abandoned on account (I believe) of the inconvenience of the site. There is no record
of this earlier church except a picture cutting from a newspaper, with the legend underneath, "Old St. Mary's, Sapperton, first church of the Royal Engineers," but it must
have been of quite early date and was a military chapel,
for the son of one of the engineers who laid out New
Westminster tells me that he was baptized in the church
in June, 1863. The windows for this church were brought
out from England. The building was found to be unsuitable, and the present St. Marys took its place.
The other early churches, built before the division of
the diocese, are St. Saviour's, Barkerville, about 1870;
Y.<le, about 1862; Lillooet, 1862; Hope, 1862; St. Mark's,
Douglas in 1862*; a church at Derby, near Fort Langley;
and last the old ramshackle Indian church at Lytton.
The Douglas church was moved to Chilliwack in 1873,
after the cariboo trail was abandoned. Derby was. chosen
as the seat of Government in the very early days, but
afterwards abandoned for New Westminster; and the
church was moved across the river and re-erected at Maple
Ridge in 1882.
Built in the same grounds with St. Mary's, Sapperton,
is the old Archdeaconry house afterwards re-named "St.
Mary's Mount." It was built for Archdeacon Wright, but
when we arrived it was in a very ruinous condition and had
almost to be rebuilt. This was our home for about ten
years,   and   many   distinguished   guests   were   entertained
*Rev.—Gammage, S.P.G. Missionary? was stationed at Douglas as
early as January, i860. Rev. C. Knipe and R. Lundin Brown visited
Barkerville   in   1861 - 03
o .
o Early Days in British Columbia
there, including three Governor-Generals and their wives;
the Marquis of Lome and Princess Louise and suite, the
Marquis of Lansdowne and suite, and Lord and Lady
Stanley of Preston, as well as many humbler guests, for
the Indian delegates to the Synod always stayed with us.
For the first six months after we arrived in British
Columbia we were homeless wanderers on the face of the
earth, but this mattered the less, as from the very first the
Bishop began travelling about, visiting the farming settlements, gathering the settlers together to see what support could be given for church work, and finding the best
centres for churches; and wherever he went I went, too.
In July, 1880, the Bishop paid his first visit to Yale,
then the headquarters of railway construction. British
Columbia at this time was very little more developed than
when Bishop Hills first came out. A wagon road from
Yale to Cariboo had taken the place of the old trail, with
a branch road to Kamloops, but the Province was still
entirely cut from the rest of Canada by the barrier of
the Rocky Mountains, for it was only in May, 1880, that
the first sod was turned of the Pacific Division of the
Canadian Pacific Railway, and the line was not completed
-until six years later. Yale was a pretty rough place, and
for three days after pay-day it was as well to keep away
from the front street. By that time the month's pay was
expended, and the men returned to their work, possibly
soirier but hardly wiser. A short time after our arrival
we were awakened one night to find the place on fire. We
were sleeping in the Parsonage adjoining the church, a
picturesque little four-roomed house covered with a thick
growth of hops. No time was to be lost, for a shanty town
burns quickly, so we were soon hard at work, carrying out
furniture  and  other  belongings  from  the  burning  houses.
10 Early Days in British Columbia
Then it became necessary to turn our attention to the parsonage and church. Blankets were requisitioned, and, after
being soaked in water, were spread on the roof of the
house, but this could not be done on the church on account of the steep pitch, and for hours the Bishop stood
at the top of a ladder throwing water from buckets, which
were handed up to him, on to the roof, while a friend and I
manned (?) the pump. So thick was the rain of burning
wood that it became necessary for us to protect our heads,
and this I did by tying up mine in the Mission flag. By
four o'clock the fire was extinguished. More than half the
town had been reduced to ashes, the church and parsonage
house having arrested the fire and prevented it spreading
to the other section. Two men were ,so severely burned
that they died next day. At four a.m. I turned into the
kitchen to make coffee for the workers and "burnt-outs'',
whilst a man, a total stranger, came and assisted in cutting
bread and butter. Life at that time might have been, indeed was, strenuous, but it certainly was not dull.
Visits were made to the Engineers' camps situated at
varying distances along the wagon-road. These drives
were beyond description beautiful, with huge mountains
on every side, the river foaming below. One was thankful
to have a steady horse and careful driver, for a shy or a
swerve and we should have been sent hundreds of feet
down into the river, running in places at twenty miles an
A trip of fifteen miles down the Fraser to Hope by
canoe during high water took only an hour and a-half, and
later we visited Agassiz and Chilliwack, also by canoe, the
mosquitoes being so thick that the air seemed grey with
mmmmgmmmwi Early Days in British Columbia
In September, 1880, we made our first long journey
into the interior, travelling over the Hope Mountain trail.
This was our first experience in rough camping. This
journey lasted six weeks, covering over 800 miles.
Between Osoyoos and Penticton we had an adventure
which came near to ending our earthly career. We were
asleep in our tent when we were awakened by a hurried
call from the Indian. There was a curious, rumbling
noise, which grew louder and louder, very much like an
earthquake, and the ground seemed to shake beneath
one's feet. The night was dark, and standing in the door
of the tent it was impossible at first to see anything, but
a cloud passing away from the face of the moon revealed
a band of wild horses bearing down upon us at full gallop.
As they came near and saw us they divided into two
groups, passing by on either side. Had the moon not
come out they would have probably become entangled in
our tent ropes, and we should not have lived to tell the
Another, this time amusing, experience happened when
we were in camp seventeen miles above Yale. Lying
asleep in the tent early one morning, my head close up
against the canvas, I was awakened by a noise that made
me jump almost as high as the ridge pole. An ox from
one of the travelling teams had wandered up to our tent
and, putting his nose down to where my ear was, had
suddenly given a loud sniff. I thought that surely it must
be "the crack of doom." On this first inland journey we
visited Osoyoos, Penticton, Okanagan Mission, Coldstream, Spillimacheen, Kamloops, Grand Prairie, Ashcroft,
Lytton and Yale. At Coldstream we stayed with Mr. Forbes Vernon, the younger of the two brothers from whom
the town of Vernon takes its name.
■HAM) Early Days in British Columbia
There was an unusually large congregation at the
Sunday service, for the threshing machine was paying a
visit to the ranch. A large airy barn was used as a church,
boards being placed between boxes for seats. Everything
went well until the sermon, when, just as the Bishop was
gi\ing out his text, a hen in the hay which was piled up
on one side, having laid an tgg, proceeded to announce the
fact in ear-piercing tones. The Bishop waited until the
hen had finished and again began his text, but this seemed
to be the signal for the hen to repeat her announcement.
In the meantime, Mr. Vernon, feeling terribly guilty, left
the barn, and, climbing up on to the hay from outside,
tried quietly to "shoo" the hen out, but instead of doing
what she was wanted to, just as the Bishop for the third
time began his text, down she flew into the midst of the
congregation with shrieks which outdid all her former
efforts, after which the .service was concluded without
further incident.
While staying at Ashcroft on the homeward journey,
a landslide occurred which blocked the South Thompson
rivtr for three days, and it was a most wonderful sight to
see the salmon, some floundering in the shallow pools,
others lying dead in the dry bed of the river.
At the end of November, 1880, we finally moved into
our house, and, although still unfinished, the work was so
far advanced as to allow of our sharing it with the workmen. Since leaving England seven months before we had
been homeless, and truly we could say, "What we have
won with pains we hold more fast, what tarrieth long is
sweeter at the last," for this, almost our first home since
our marriage, seemed to us the acme of comfort and
During the winter, three evenings a week were devoted
13 Early Days in British Columbia
to night school; the children of Sapperton were growing
up without any education, and when this plan was suggested by the Bishop, not only the children took advantage of
it, but the grown-ups as well, and the accommodation of
our house was taxed to the uttermost to find room for
the  scholars.
During the winter the Bishop's presence at Yale was
called for. The river was closed with ice, and the iourney
had to be made overland in a sleigh. The undertaking was
so unusual an one as to call for the following notice in
the local paper, "LIVE MISSIONARY. The Bishop
of New Wesminster, accompanied by his wife, paid Yale
a missionary visit last week and held services in St. John's
Church. Even hardy pioneers shrank from making the
trip at such a season."
One of the most distant outposts of the Diocese was
Barkerville, in the Cariboo District. During the early
days of the gold excitement a church had been built and a
clergyman had been stationed there, a Mr. Reynard, but
the hardships had been great and he only remained a short
time, so that for many years past no clergyman had visited
the upper country. The Bishop was anxious to pay a
visit as soon as possible, but it was not until the late summer of 1881 that his other duties allowed of this. The
river steamer carried us and our buckboard and horses as
far as Yale. From there on we took the wagon-road.
This road was an engineering feat, built right through the
Fraser Canyon. It .was 18 feet wide and has. been described as "a road with a precipice on one side and an abyss on
the other." Passing round the bluffs the road was built
out on struts, overhanging the Fraser hundreds of feet
below. One of the rules of the road was that the lighter
conveyance should take the outside of the road, and ours
BF" Early Days in British Columbia
was always the lighter conveyance. It was not a very
pleasant thing to have to draw up at the extreme edge of
the road while an ox team with six, eight or ten yoke oi
oxen lumbered past on the inside, with not an inch of road
to spare. It took us about a fortnight to make the journey,
which meant twelve travelling days and two rest days.
The stage made the distance in much quicker time, but
the stage travelled almost night "and day, and had relays
of fresh horses every fifteen or twenty miles. It was the
Bishop's custom to call at every house on the road, irrespective of nationality or creed. Sometimes there were
children to be baptized, couples to be married,—even an
occasional funeral. Arriving at our destination for the
night, after the horses had been fed and cared for, and we
had had our supper, the Bishop would gather the people
together for a service, and in the morning before starting
off again, if there was just one communicant, there would
be a celebration of Holy Communion. Everywhere we
received the warmest of welcomes. But O! the loneliness
of the lives of these settlers, and it came hardest of all
on the women. The ranches were long distances apart,
and, with exception of the few favoured ones, no female
help could be afforded, nor indeed was it much easier
where it could be paid for. Men were greatly in the
majority, and a girl coming out from England soon found
a home of her own. There were suitors a-plenty. I heard
of one girl who, on the evening of her arrival, went to
answer a knock at the door, finding a rather rough-looking settler on the doorstep, who evidently believed in
coming quickly to the point, "If you please, Miss," he
said, "I hear that you have just come out to this country;
now I have a nice farm of 160 acres and a team of horses
and some cows and pigs and poultry, and now I want a
wife, and I thought, maybe as you would suit me."   "Well,
mmwmm Early Days in British Columbia
you won't suit me," she replied, slamming the door in hjs
face. But the choice was large, and these girls were soon
suited. A man with a delicate wife and a lot of little
children sent time after time to England for a girl to help
his wife with her work, always with the same result that
after a few months she would get married. At last, in
despair, he wrote to a friend, saying "Send us out another
girl, but for goodness sake let her be the ugliest one you
can lay hands on, for I am tired of their always getting
married." The friend must have been very conscientious.
At least she seems to have been very successful in her
search, for I have seldom seen a woman less well-favoured.
But she got married sooner than any of her predecessors,
and when I saw her years later she was married to her
third husband.
But to return to our journey. Sundays on the road
were by no means days of rest for the Bishop and the
horses. The day would commence by a celebration of
Holy Communion, either in the house in which we were
staying or in a near-by little school-house. Then, after a
hurried breakfast, we would start off driving ten or fifteen
miles for a morning service, after which we would be off
ago in, eating our lunch en route, stopping for an afternoon service, and then on again for an evening service.
In this way the Bishop would bring a Sunday service
within reach of the greatest number of people. On these
days I used to drive as much as possible, so as to save the
Driving on day after day was monotonous work, at
least to tell about, but sometimes the monotony would be
varied by a deer, a bear or a panther crossing the road,—
sometimes even a cariboo; or we would look around and
find that we were being stealthily  followed by a  coyote.
mm Early Days in British Columbia
Ax other times the monotony would be less pleasantly
varied when a windstorm during the night had brought
down one of the big trees for which British Columbia is
famous, right across the road, and the underbrush was so
thick on either side as to make driving round" impossible.
We would have to unharness the horses, lead them round
an^l. tie them up, and then would begin the work.of getting
the buckboard over. Here came in the advantage of having the lightest conveyance on the road, but getting it
over was indeed a work of time, and the buckboard seemed to weigh tons and tons. It took every ounce of our
strength, and left us exhausted and bruised. The worst
things, however, that we had to .encounter were, the forest
fires. I cannot begin to describe how awful these were,
the big trees crackling and burning on either side, falling
every now and again with a crash, the air dense with
smoke and the flames from the burning underbrush driven
by the wind right across the road. My heart at such times
seemed almost to stop beating from terror, and one's
whole being concentrated into an act of prayer that God
would bring us through this awful danger. The Bishop
had the most marvellous faith.. He was not ordinarily
foolhardy, but when on duty I never remember, even when
warned of the danger, one single occasion on which he
turned back; and we were always brought safely through.
People, too, tell you that horses will never face fire, but
I can only say that ours, encouraged by the Bishop's voice,
never refused. I have seen them step into the hot, smouldering ashes of burning bridges.
It would be difficult to realize the delight of reaching
Barkerville, the journey's end, and feeling that one could
rest without the thought of having to move on again
next day. Nothing could have exceeded the warmth of the
welcome   given   us   by   the   miners,   who   had   congregated
1/ Early Days in British Columbia
from the outlying creeks. The little church was crowded
to its utmost capacity, and the singing was of the heartiest.
After the morning service the Bishop was much amused,
listening to the remarks of the two pro tern church warden?, who were counting the collection. At the time of
our first visit in 1881 the smallest coin in circulation was a
25c piece. Amongst the larger coins and the gold dust
there was one 25c piece, and the men were exclaiming and
wondering who could have been so mean as to have contributed the smallest possible coin. When I heard the
story, I had to own up to having been that very mean
A visit to Barkerville was never complete without a
concert, and this my husband, .who was exceedingly musical, was always ready to organize, and I had to take the
part of prima donna. After v the very generous applause
that greeted the conclusion of my first song, I was surprised to hear something fall on the stage close to me,
and. on looking down, saw a 50c piece. Others followed,
wirh an occasional silver dollar. These were the bouquets
thrown to me, and, as the concert was being given for .
church funds, surely this was a very practical way of
shewing appreciation. As a result of these "bouquets," I
was able to contribute $15.00 to the concert fund, and as
a result of his visit the Bishop was able to send a clergyman, the Rev. C. Blanchard, to take charge of St. Saviour's  Church,  Barkerville.
On the way from Yale 'to Barkerville, one passes
through Lytton, Spence's Bridge, Ashcroft, Cache Creek,
Clinton, the 150-Mile House, Soda Creek and Quesnelle.
On one- occasion I drove the whole way down the wagon
road, being one of the few women who have done this.
With me it was a matter of necessity, for the Bishop was
18 Early Days in British Columbia
taken ill with a carbuncle on his spine. Happily there was
a good doctor at Barkerville, but, when the time came for
leaving, the Doctor forbade the Bishop undertaking the
journey. It was impossible to put off all the engagements
which had to be made ahead, and finally the Bishop obtained the Doctor's consent, on the understanding that he
was to do nothing himself, so I drove and looked after
the horses, harnessing and unharnessing them when there
were no men about, and, although feeling nervous at the
time, I am glad to have had the experience. Happily for
me, I did not realize what a serious thing a carbuncle is,
or I should indeed have been much more anxious.
ORGANIZED work amongst the Indians commenced
in 1867, but as early as. 1860 visits had been paid
and instruction given to various Indian tribes,
both by Bishop Hills and also by the Rev. John Sheepshanks and others. Probably in the year 1860, Mr. Sheepshanks took the journey over the Cariboo Trail, joining
forces with Bishop Hills, who was in camp at Lillooet.
In speaking of the Indian Chief, Chil-Noo-Seltz, Mr.
Sheepshanks describes him as "a man with all the self-
sufficiency and grave politeness of the hunter and the
savage." On this visit the Bishop addressed a large
gathering of Indians,—Mr. Sheepshanks translating into
Chinook (an excellent trading jargon, but a most unsatisfactory   language   for   giving   religious   instruction).   .
Mr. Sheepshanks has also described a visit to the La
Fontaine Indians. On this occasion, besides holding service and giving instruction, on account of a smallpox epidemic then prevailing, he vaccinated the whole tribe, and
■i o
MftWNNpwWHHMt Early Days in British Columbia
later on he met one of these Indians, who reported to
him that none had died of the "bad disease" except three
or four who had been absent, berry picking, at the time
of the vaccination. Thus it will be seen that Mr. Sheepshanks ministered to the bodies as well as the ,souls of
these Indians with whom he was brought in touch; and
also laid the foundations on which the Rev. J. B. Good
afterwards builded. Mr. Good was the first missionary to
the Indians, and the organization of the Indian Mission
came  about  in  the  following  manner:—
Mr. Good was living in the little Yale Parsonage, taking services in the church and probably also in other
places as well, when on March 2nd, 1867, there came to
him a deputation of Indians, headed by the chief, Sashi-
atan, a noted warrior. He said that the words he had
heard spoken were good, and he and his people wished to
learn more. This deputation was followed by others,
headed by the chiefs of the various  districts.
In response to these deputations, Mr. Good went up
to Lytton, 57 miles from Yale, and was then met by 500
Indians, and after discussing their proposals, he promised
to lay their wishes before the Bishop. Bishop Hills, after
consideration, gave ready consent to Mr. Good moving
his headquarters from Yale to Lytton. On June 16th,
1867, the first regular service was held in an empty store
in Lytton. Later on, the first St. Paul's Church was built
on the hill about half a mile from Lytton. In later years,
the church was moved to the Indian village, the cemetery
remaining where the old church stood. The site is an
ideally beautiful one, overlooking the mountains and the
Fraser,—the latter hundreds  of feet below.
Lytton, which is situated at the junction of the Fraser
and the South Thompson Rivers, is still the center of the
21 Early Days in British Columbia
Indian district, which, properly speaking, extends up the
Fraser as far as Lillooet, down the Fraser to Hope and
Yale, up the South Thompson to Ashcroft, and up the
Nicola Valley to  Quilchane.
The Indian villages are for the most part dotted
along the banks of the rivers, almost every village having
its little church. Some are rough little log buildings with
mud floors. In each of these villages Mr. Good appointed
a sort of lay reader, called a watchman, whose duty it
was to call the Indians to prayer, to lead the prayers and
to report to the missionary on his periodical visits to the
Mr. Good remained in charge of the Indian Mission
until 1882, when he left to join his family, who were
living in Victoria. Mr. Good was much liked by the Indians, and did valuable work of translating into the
Thompson language some of the Church services.
Mr. Good was followed by the Rev. Richard Small,
and he had as his assistants the Rev. H. Edwards, and
later on the Rev. E. L. Wright, commonly known as
"Down Wright" in contradistinction to another man of
the same name, stationed at Donald, who was called "Up
Wright." Mr. (afterwards Archdeacon) Small was the
most single-hearted and devoted missionary that could be
imagined. He was loved by his flock, Indians and whites
alike, and endured the greatest hardships in ministering to
them, riding from village to village in the intense cold of
winter, staying with them and sharing with them their
unappetising food and quarters. On one of these winter
journeys he took a severe chill, which developed into pneumonia. He was brought down to Vancouver and every
care given him at St. Luke's Home, but his constitution
was undermined by hardships,  and he  died after a few
22 Early Days in British Columbia
days. The body was taken back- to Lytton and laid to rest
under the spot where the Altar of the first Lytton Indian
Church had stood. He was followed to his grave by countless Indians and the whole of the white population of
Lytton. Never was man more truly loved by his flock
than was Mr. Small, and Old Tom (for many years a pensioner at the Lytton Hospital) used to say that he would
not be afraid to die, for he knew that Mr. Small would be
waiting for him. Another Indian, also called Tom, used
to act as interpreter at Yale for those Indians coming
from Spuzzum and further up country, as the language is
quite different from that spoken at Yale. He was very
helpful to Sister Althea of the All Hallows School, Yale,
when she was translating parts of the service, but for
those parts which are said kneeling Tom would always
adept that attitude, and for hours he would continue on
his knees while sentence by sentence the proper words
would be found for translation.
The Indian Missionary has a hard life. In the great
heat of summer and the intense cold of winter he travels
over the trails from village to village, holding services,
receiving reports from the watchmen, and transacting business. But this all takes time, and the Bishop for the most
part tried to meet the Indians in some central place,
Lytton generally, but there was also a place up on the
mountains, about fifteen miles from Lytton, called Boot-
anie, and here the Indians gather every year to cut wild
hay: while the women dig. roots, which, when dried, are
most useful for winter cooking.
Riding up to this camping-ground, we would pass
groups of Indians on the trail, and on one occasion there
was in one of these groups an old woman who looked as
though she had long passed the allotted four score years,
23 '
Early Days in British Columbia
and was moreover bent double with rheumatism and hobbling by the help of a stick grasped in both hands. We
exclaimed at the thought of this woman trying to reach
Bootanie, but those with her said they would have lent
her a horse, but that she was too old and crippled to ride,
though determined to be present at the meeting. And
present she was, though it seemed even more incredible
than we. realized, for that old woman had hobbled between
seventy and seventy-five miles to get to Bootanie, and
months later we saw her back again in her own village.
Indians are very fond of ceremony, and after arriving
in camp the Bishop's first duty was to shake hands with
the people. The camp was on three levels, ours being the
highest one, and it was a most picturesque sight to see
the Indians winding up the hill,—the Chiefs first, then
the other men on horseback, dismounting as they came
near, then shaking hands and passing on. Then followed
the women and children, for the most part on foot, and
we had to shake hands with every one, even the tiniest
newborn infant, the mother holding out its hand for us to
take. On that first meeting we shook hands with nearly
a thousand. The meeting lasted three days. The first was
one of preparation, all sorts of classes being held. At the
first service on Sunday morning (Whitsunday,—the 6
o'clock celebration)  111 Indians communicated.
The services were in the open air, but the portable
altar stood on a carpet of pine boughs, and a shelter had
been built for it, composed of four upright poles, with a
roofing, also of pine boughs. Services went on nearly all
day,—one most interesting one being the baptism of 19
babies, the Bishop standing by the side of the creek and
using the water which flowed at his feet.
I Early Days in British Columbia
Conferences were held between the Chiefs and watchmen and the Bishop on social as well as religious matters.
Cases were brought to him to be judged,—one being a
matrimonial dispute, and it was wonderful the meek way
in which his decisions were received, one notable exception, however, being that of the medicine men. These
men made no claim to cure sickness, except by incantation, the beating of drums, and all sorts of hideous noises,
whereby they claimed to drive out the evil spirit that had
taken possession of the sick man.
To counteract this evil influence a medical man was
procured for the Indians, but his work was hampered by
the fact that he did not dare give any but the simplest
remedies. If, for instance, he would prescribe a box of
pills to be taken one or two every day, the Indians would
reason that if one a day would do them good, why not
take all at once and be cured quickly. In consequence of
this difficulty the Indian Hospital at Lytton was built, and
later on a second one at Shulus. The first Lytton Indian
Hospital was burnt down, and the present more commodious one has taken its place. One summer during the
absence of the missionary, we spent some weeks camping
out near the different Indian villages, and in the evening,
after the day's work was over, the Indians would gather
round the Bishop for instruction, and this would go on
until past midnight, for whenever the Bishop would wish
to stop the Indians would urge him to continue; and how
he loved this work. I used sometimes to think that the
Indians were nearer to his heart than any other members
of his  flock.
All Hallows School for Indian girls was started in
1884, when three Sisters from the Ditchingham Community came from  England  to take  charge  of this  work.    It
25 . Early Days in British Columbia
started in a very small way in the four-roomed parsonage.
Later on, the Bishop was able to acquire the house built
for the railway contractor while Yale was the headquarters of railway construction for the Pacific Division. The
school was at first supported by voluntary contributions,
and it was no easy matter to make ends meet. Later, the
Indian Department, recognizing the success of the school,
made a per capita grant of $60.00 per annum, and this,
many years Hater, was increased to $100.00. The need for
some teaching was great: even as late as 1884, some of the
older Indians inhabited, during the winter, the "keekwillie
holes" (underground dwellings),—a hole on the surface,
in which was placed a notched pole, forming the entrance
and exit, and allowing the smoke from the fires to escape.
St. George's School for boys was established in 1895
by the New England Society, the oldest Missionary Society in England, founded in the time of Charles II. The
school is situated three miles from Lytton. It has splendid buildings, a stone chapel, and one of the finest ranches
in the district. The school is supported by the New
England Society, supplemented by a Government grant.
Within the last couple of years, a separate wing has
been erected, and the girls' school has been moved up
there, as it was thought best to have the two schools under
the same management. The Ditchingham Sisters have
now returned to  England.
More than a quarter of a century ago the following
Indian legend was told to us, and as those acquainted
with these legends are fast passing away, it may be well
if I write it down for those who come after, before I too
shall have passed over into the unseen.
26  Early Days in British Columbia
We had been making a round of Indian villages and
camping-grounds, and had come to our last camp, Tem-
melch Creek (near the banks of the Fraser, nearly opposite North Bend), at this side of which our Bell tent
was  pitched.
It was late in the evening, after the day's work was
ended, that, seated by the camp fire, Meechele, the Indian
interpreter, asked if we would like to hear the legend of
what in modern times is called "Lady Franklin Island," a
huge rock which stands right in the mouth of the Fraser
Canyon at Yale, B. C. The rock is so named because,
when Lady Franklin outfitted an expedition to go in
search of her husband, the steamer, coming up the Fraser
River, got thus far and no farther.
The Indian name of the rock is "See-Ill," and the
following is the legend connected with it, as told by Meechele:
A great many years ago, long before the first white
man came to the country, the Indians worshipped a Great
Spirit, a cruel, revengeful god, who had to be propitiated
with various sacrifices. It was necessary, for instance,
that the first salmon of the season that were caught
should be thrown back again into the river, as an offering to the deity. One year there was a great famine, and
during the cold of the winter months it was with difficulty
that the Indians kept soul and body together,— lying
huddled up in their "keekwillie" holes. Spring had come,
bringing warmer weather, and the people had climbed up
out of their underground dwellings and were again encamped above ground, but the terrible famine continued,
and it was too early for the salmon, which come in great
quantities up the Fraser River, battling their way against
28 Early Days in British Columbia
the swift current up  the skookum chuck  (strong waters)
of the canyon to the spawning-grounds.
In the Yale tribe, close to where the little town of
Yale now stands, there lived a widow woman with two
small children. Day after day she went down to the river,
hoping against hope to catch a fish, though she knew it
would be many weeks before she could expect to do so,
and one day, to her great surprise, she landed a fine
She knew that no other had yet been caught, and
that it was her duty to offer it to the Great Spirit - by
throwing it back into the river, but, as she hesitated, the
cries of her starving little ones rang in her ears, and
mother-love prevailed. She hurried back, hiding as best
she could her precious burden, and quickly and secretly
she cooked the food, and, after feeding her children, she
satisfied  her   own   hunger.
That night there was a most awful storm,—lightning,
thunder and hail,—such a storm as the Indians had never
before experienced, and in the morning, when it was
light, in the very centre of the river, stood a huge rock,
rearing its head high out of the water, where never before had there been any seen. The woman had vanished,
and the Indians knew that in punishment for her sin the
Great Spirit had turned her into stone and placed her
where for all time she must remain, buffeted on either side
by the swift water rushing out of the canyon, scorched
by the hot summer sun and frozen by tjie cold of winter,
a warning to her people of what would happen if they,
through the neglect of duty, should incur the terrible
wrath of the Great Spirit.
The story ended, we turned in early, as we were to
break camp next day.    This meant getting up as soon as
29 Early Days in British Columbia
it was light. During the night we, too, experienced an
awful storm,—thunder, lightning and torrents of rain
and in the morning our tent and belongings were so soaked
with wet that the departure from camp had to be postponed until our things had become dry.
Development in the East and West Kootenays did not
commence to any extent until the eighties of the last century. The town of Nelson was just coming into existence,
and in July, 1890, the Bishop decided to go and "spy out
the land." The C.P.R. took us as far as Revelstoke,—
quite a change from the earlier methods of travel! From
Revelstoke a steamer took us down the Columbia, through
the beautiful Arrow Lakes to Sproat. The rest of the
journey was made riding over a very rough trail to
At Sproat we stayed at the Hotel Kootenay. The
name calls up visions of comfort and luxury which were
wholly without foundation. The house had been run up a
few months earlier, and absolutely green lumber had been
used, with the result that when the warm weather came
the boards shrank, leaving gaps varying from half an inch
to two inches between them. The privacy of the rooms
was therefore nominal. From our bedroom we could
look through into the next room, and through that into
the room beyond, out into the passage and into the room
opposite, and down through the floor into the dining-room,
to see how the preparations for the next meal were getting
on. Not that the meal had much interest, for dry crackers
and cold water was the only thing I could manage, and
we had to stay a whole day, as horses had to be procured for the ride to Nelson,—one of the roughest rides
I ever experienced.
30 Early Days in British Columbia
Arrived in Nelson, we found comfortable quarters in
the Nelson House, the only house that was completed.
There were others half built, and lots of canvas-roofed
shacks and tents of every description. Nelson at that
time was a typical Bret Harte mining camp, though these
conditions did not last long. The lawless element, which
had come from the other side of the line, soon drifted out
when the men found that British law and order was to
prevail. The Bishop arranged for the loan of a half-built
store for the Sunday services, and we swept out and arranged this, laying planks between nail-kegs for seats. We
had found three old friends in Nelson, who promised to
help with the singing, and at 11 o'clock these three men,
the Bishop and I were in the store ready to begin, the
rest of the congregation (all men) remaining outside. The
Bishop went to the door and invited then in, but nothing
came of it, and, after a second invitation had like results,
the Bishop commenced the service. As soon, however,
as the singing began, in they all trooped and the store was
filled. I think perhaps it was the most curious service I
had ever attended, and there had been many that tried my
gravity almost to the breaking point. During the sermon
the men made remarks and criticisms, just as if it were
a political meeting. These interruptions did not seem to
worry the Bishop. Not so one of the younger parsons,
who some time ,later was taking service in one of the
camps, and, perhaps a little unwisely, with a gathering
such as it was, used the regular prayer-book service. The
prayer for the Queen passed without comment, but when
the prayer for the Royal Family began a miner remarked,
"Stop right there, parson; we don't mind praying for the
old lady, but I'll be hanged if we'll pray for the rer>t of
the lot." {I am afraid that perhaps the expressions used
were somewhat stronger than I have quoted).
31 Early Days in British Columbia
The evening service in Nelson on that first visit was
crowded to the doors, and.next morning a deputation came
to the Bishop, asking that he should remain in Nelson
and be the minister, and promising that they would all
subscribe. He had to try and explain to them that, much
as he appreciated their wish to have him remain, he had
other duties that would make this impossible, but that he
would send them a minister, and hoped they would do
all they could to support him.
Music was a great pleasure to all classes, and the
Bishop always carried with him on his journeys a baritone concertina, a beautiful instrument, with tone like an
organ, and with this he accompanied the singing at the
services, and he also often played, and I sang during the.
evenings. It is funny, no doubt, to think of a Bishop in
his robes taking a service and playing a concertina, but
that concertina opened doors that might otherwise have
been forever closed, and people came to the services attracted by the music, and were perhaps reminded of things
they had learned years  before and  had  forgotten.
We travelled in all sorts of ways,—riding, driving,
canoeing, walking, working ourselves along the railway on
a handcar, but this last was a rather anxious way of getting
about. The line was a single one, and freight trains might
and did travel at a high rate of speed, and meeting one
rounding a sharp curve made it touch and go if we could
remove ourselves and our hand-car in time, and it did
not do to be caught on a bridge, either walking or by
These experiences about which I have tried to tell
you lasted from 1880 until the time of my husband's death
in 1894. The hardships and discomforts we endured were
undoubtedly  great,  but  they  only  made   the   comforts   of
32 Early Days in British Columbia
home seem the greater from the contrast, and the joy
of those years must always remain one of my most precious memories.
These reminiscences would not be complete did they
not include something about the early days oi Vancouver,
or rather of what was to be in after years the city of
Our first acquaintance with Burrard Inlet was a few
days after our arrival, when we drove over by stage from
New Westminster to lunch with Captain Rayner in the
cook-house of the Hastings Mill, crossing the Inlet during the afternoon to visit the Moodyville Mill and to see
some of the people.
During the winter of 1880-1881 the Bishop took the
service every fortnight, in the morning at the little Hastings Mill School House, in the evening at Moodyville, or
vice versa,—riding over from New Westminster on the
Saturday afternoon, carrying our luggage on the saddles
behind us, returning again on Monday. At that time we
had not acquired the buckboard which was to figure later
in so many journeys.
In addition to the Hastings Mill, there was the little
town of Granville. The houses were built right among the
tree-stumps, and between the two places, about a quarter
or half a mile apart, a two-plank walk was laid, right
through the fore-st. About half-way between Granville and
the Hastings Mill was the site chosen for the first little
St. James' Church, which was built early in 1881 and dedicated on May 14th of that year. Regular services were
held, first by the Rev. C. Baskett and later by the Rev-
George Ditchman. These were succeeded in 1884, when
the Rev. H. G. Fiennes-Clinton became rector, remaining
in  charge  of  St.  James'   Church  until  his   death  in   1912.
33 Early Days in British Columbia
On Whitsunday, 1886, the beginnings of the City of Vancouver were entirely destroyed by fire, and the little church
was burnt to the ground. Nothing was saved. The remains of the altar vessels were dug up next day and sent
as relics to St. James', Wednesbury, from whence they
had originally come. Very soon after the fire, preparations
were made and plans drawn for the building of a new and
larger church. A new site was acquired, further back from
the water, and by the following year the present St. James'
Church was completed, but, owing to the Bishop's absence
in England, the consecration did not take place until June
The same year saw the building of St. Luke's Home,
next door to the Church, a nursing home, whose nurses,
under Sister Frances, did such splendid work in these
early days of Vancouver. Their work was by no means
confined to the city. Wherever in the diocese there was
the need, there Sister Frances either went or sent her
i The year 1889 was a memorable one in the church
history of Vancouver. Early in the year the parish of
Christ Church was organized, and the Rev. H. P. Hohson
came out from Eastern Canada as the first Rector. The
services were first held in a store on Georgia Street, and
later in the year a sum of $7,000.00 having been collected,
the basement of the present church was commenced, and
served as the church until 1894, when the present superstructure was commenced. March of that same year saw
the opening of the first St. Paul's Church, situated then
in Hornby Street, and of St. Michael's, built on Westminster Avenue, now re-named Main Street.
The  last  church built  in  Vancouver  during my hus-
34 Early Days in British Columbia
band's  episcopate was  St.   Luke's,  River  Road.    The rest
are all of later date.
Other churches built during my husband's time were:
All Saint's, Ladner; St. Alban's, Ashcroft; Christ Church,
Surrey Centre; St. Alban's, Langley .Prairie; St. Paul's,
Kamjoops; Nelson, Balfour; St. Barnaba's, New Westminster, Enderby, Armstrong, Vernon and Penticton, and
many little Indian churches.
The first beginnings of the Woman's Auxiliary were in
September, 1890, when, in response to the invitation from
the Bishop, Mrs. Willoughby Cummings and Miss Pater-
son came out from Toronto to explain all about the organization. As a result of that visit a branch was organized
in connection with Holy Trinity Cathedral parish, New
The motto chosen was, "Fellow workers unto the
Kingdom of God," and the Toronto W. A. badge, with
"The Love of Christ constraineth us" engraved on it, was
chosen as our badge.
As first President of this Branch and being very
ignorant of the workings of the W. A., I kept in close
touch with the Toronto Diocesan branch, receiving much
valuable  help  and advice.
This New Westminster branch, in spite of many
efforts on our part, remained the only one until 1898, four
years after my husband's death.
In 1904 the separate branches were welded into a
Diocesan W. A. branch, at which time a new motto was
chosen and the plainer form of W. A. cross adopted.
The following is taken from notes which I made for
a W. A. Mission study class about 1910 or 1911, and, al-
35 Early Days in British Columbia
though .subsequent to my husband's time, may be of interest, giving, as it does, the first beginnings of the oriental
The Chinese Mission was started in Vancouver in
1892 in connection with Christ Church by the Rev. H. P.
Hobson, who was rector at that time. Ten Yong was the
first catechist, and had acted in that capacity in New Westminster, where mission work had been carried on amongst
the Chinese at an earlier date. Ten Yong came to B.C.
from Honolulu. He was followed in the Christ Church
Mission by Mr. Hall, and again later by Mr. Lem Yuen.
The first Mission school was held in Pender Street, and
from there was moved to Water Street, and later again to
Homer Street, between Dunsmuir and Georgia. The
Mission had by this time become diocesan, and the money
for the purchase of the building was provided by the General Board of the Woman's Auxiliary. At that time there
were 28 baptized members of the Mission, 25 of these being
confirmed and communicants.
The first Japanese Mission was begun in 1903 or 1904
in connection with St. James' Church. The classes began
in a small Mission room on Pender Street, some Chinese
as well as Japanese attending. The Mission was later
moved into the Flack Block on Hastings Street, when it
became a purely Japanese Mission. In 1907 it was moved
to the present building on Cordova Street. There were 40
students, 37 being communicants. The second Japanese
Mission was started by the Diocesan W. A. and is in
Holy Trinity parish.
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