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In the wake of the war canoe : a stirring record of forty years' successful labour, peril & adventure… Collison, W. H. (William Henry), 1847-1922 1916

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Array     IN  THE  WAKE  OF  THE
The carving represents a bear, and was erected in memory of a chief of the Bear crest.
This totem still stands in front of a chief's house at Massett, Queen Charlotte
This is the record of a wonderful triumph of the Cross.
Foremost and throughout it is this. But even for a reader
quite indifferent to religion it ought to have an absorbing
interest. In the simplest and least pretentious language it
records a career of the most romantic adventure. Captain
Marryat never recorded such experiences for the delight of
To be landed with one^s wife in northern regions from the
last ship of the season, among savages, and to be told as the
farewell word of civilisation, " You will all be murdered *,;
to be chased in an open canoe by sea lions and narwhals,
into whose dense masses a disobedient sailor had fired; to
be chased again by a shark so huge that his dorsal fin
overtopped the stern of the canoe, and so menacing that
in despair they struck at his head with a pole, and he dived
down and left them; to be prostrated with fever, and to
have the pagan medicine men whooping and dancing around
your bed, conscious that if you die they will be rid of you,
and if you live they will claim the cure, these and storms
at sea, and the wars of Indian tribes, and conflagrations,
and earthquakes make up a fine catalogue of adventures.
Then there is the most interesting story of the natives,
absolutely barbarous in many respects and ready for murder
and piracy on the slightest provocation, but with a sort
of very real civilisation as well, with a remarkable cere- BISHOP OF BERRY'S PREFACE
monial for the ratifying of treaties, with a language of fine
inflexions, and, as their friend assures us, the finest boat-
builders in the world.
We read admirable specimens of native shrewdness, as
when a tribe refuses a native catechist because another
tribe no better has got a white man. " Listen," said the
authority. " Would you refuse a good dinner because I sent
it by a native?" "No," said the chief, "I would eat it,
and I know that the native teacher would bring us the same
feast, but the white man would cook it better." All this
should make of the book the most popular Sunday School
premium of the season.
But all this is only a by-product. We read of his first
overtures to these heathens, and their answer, "Why did
you not tell us all this before ? Long ago the white man
brought us the small-pox \ now we have grown old we like
our own ways; it is too late.1'
And says the admirable Archdeacon, " I felt as if I were
upon my trial.'" We are told how there came to him first
the sick and those who loved them, and then the old and
unhappy, until the battle is won and the chief medicine
man renounces his art, and the tribe is Christianised.
It is a wonderful story of devotion and faith triumphant
over every conceivable hindrance and difficulty. There are
people who talk as if missionaries have a very easy time:
there are people who profess to think that religion makes
milksops; and there are people who declare that the Cross
has lost it power.
Henceforward it will be an excellent answer to all these
to refer them to the work of God by His servants in the
Queen Charlotte Islands.
After over forty years' labour among the Indian tribes of
the North-West of British Columbia, including the Queen
Charlotte Islands, at the urgent request of many friends
I have been induced to write this account of my experiences. The fact that I was privileged to be the pioneer
missionary on the Queen Charlotte Islands both at Massett
and Skidegate, as also on the Skeena River, and at Giatlaub
on the head of Gardiner's Inlet and Tongas in South-
Eastern Alaska, and other places, has imparted an additional interest to my record. Many more chapters might
have been added, but sufficient has been written to convey
an idea of the early history of the country, the Indians,
and the Mission.
We are thankful for the measure of success granted to
our efforts among the Tsimsheans, Haidas, Nishkas, and
Giatiksheans, as well as amongst remnants of other tribes,
notably the Zitz-Zaows. And we rejoice to know that all
those tribes, as also many others, not only in British
Columbia but in Alaska, have been evangelised before
the inrush of a new population. In this work we gladly
acknowledge the labours and successes of the messengers
and missionaries of the several Churches engaged. May
the records of what has been achieved in the past prove
a stimulus to the yet greater work to be done in the future,
so that this northern portion of our Province may not only
deserve its new title of the " Garden of British Columbia,"
but may it prove to be the "field which the Lord hath
I desire to express my indebtedness to the following pub-
lications for extracts and notes, viz. Captain Meares"1 Voyages
of 1788, 1789, from Chma to the N.W. Coast of America;
The History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia,
by the Rev. A. G. Morice, O.M.I., for his delineation of
the location of the Dinne Nation of Indians, and also for
his description of the " Pe Ne" craze amongst the Indians
of the interior about the years 1847-48; also to the late
Captain Walbran's volume of British Columbia Place
Names for the description given of the last night of the
Hudson's Bay Company at their Fort on the Nass River;
and to Lieutenant Emmons, late U.S. Navy, for an illustration from his artistic and exhaustive work on "the
Fahltan Indians as published by the University of Pennsylvania "; also for photographs to several friends who have
supplied me with same.
W. H. C.
The Country and the Mission
Metlakahtla        .
The Mission Church	
The Nass Fishery	
Strife and Peace    ......
The Haidas of Queen Charlotte Islands      .       .     88
Launching out into the Deep        ....     98
Arrival from the Queen Charlotte Islands by Canoe   109
Overcoming Difficulties »
Sickness and Trial .       .       .       .       .       .       .129
In Perils by Waters 142
A Canoe Catastrophe 154
Return to Queen Charlotte Islands      .       .       .    162
First Visit to Skidegate 171
The Conflict Deepening .       .       .       .       .       .188
Makai 198
Introduction of Law 215
A Touching Parting        .       .       .       .       .       .    226
The Haidas as Marine Hunters    ....    244
The First Bishop of Caledonia      ....   252
The Nass River 267
Ankida Encampment 276
The Skeena River Mission 288
The Zitz-Zaow Tribe 307
The Nishka Indians as Hunters    ....   315
A Revival       .       . 325
The Lakgalzap Mission 338
A Mortuary Totem.
Ascending a River ....
To face
Indian Women         ....
Olachan-curing        ....
Canoe-making   .....
Haida House	
Interior of Haida Chief's House   .
A Haida Indian      ....
A Haida ChieftatnEss
An Indian Sub-chief in Full Dress
•                  55
Indian Weapons       ....
•                   55
Indian Chief's Dress
Haida Tomb	
•                  55
Haida War Canoes.
Totem Poles	
f_sS v^
Indian Medicine Men
•                 55
Medicine Man's Rattle  .
Indian Masks	
Haida Tombs To face page 216
Tomb of Indian Chief     ....
Indian Handiwork	
On the Nass River .
On   the  Nass   River—Fishing   through
the Ice     ......
Indian Bridge ......
Map of British Columbia
_*../.y, -*-w»*- S- C'i Ld.
Map of British Columbia. IN THE WAKE OF THE
" God's in His heaven,
All's right with the world."—Browning*
IT is interesting to note how British Columbia was first
discovered. Other navigators had touched at various
points along the coast; but it was Vancouver who first
sailed round the island which now bears his name, and in
his search for a north-west passage sailed up many of the
inlets along the coast. While he was thus engaged in investigating the coast line another intrepid discoverer was
forcing his way through difficulties and dangers from
Eastern Canada to the coast. This was Alexander Mackenzie, whose discoveries have also been perpetuated by the
noble river named after him.
It was befitting that the country destined to become the
maritime province of the Dominion on the Pacific should
thus be discovered by two of Britain's sons, the one by sea
and the other by land; and whilst the one represented her
maritime power and research, the other represented her
commercial enterprise. Without knowing aught of one
another, they had almost clasped hands, both as to time
and place, so near were they to meeting on the coast.
Mackenzie had urged his way onward across the Rocky
Mountains, which had hitherto proved such a barrier between East and West, and when unable further to use his
bark canoe, he and his men packed their provisions and
other necessaries on their backs, and pushed onward for the
His progress was opposed by tribe after tribe of Indians, few of whom had ever seen a white man before. But
by caution and patience, accompanied by courage and perseverance, he overcame every obstacle, and at length emerged
from the forest on the tidal waters of the Pacific, at the
head of the inlet now known as Bentinck Arm. More than
once his men attempted to turn back, but the courage and
determination of their leader restrained and re-assured them,
and he succeeded in fighting and forcing his way to the
coast. Here, he recorded his exploit in the only way possible. Mixing a little vermilion with melted grease, he
wrote on the face of a rock, " Alexander Mackenzie from
Canada by land, the twenty-second day of July, One thousand seven hundred and ninety-three." The Indians there
informed him that a great war canoe had just visited the
Channel, and they exhibited some presents which the white
chief of the great canoe had given them. This was Vancouver and his ship. These Indians had not been so
affrighted by the visit of Vancouver's vessels as the Giat-
katla Indians, a tribe near the mouth of the Skeena.
When they first sighted the ships which were approaching under sail, the Indians, who were fishing off shore for
halibut, cast their lines overboard and fled. Leaving their
canoes, they rushed into the forest, from which they watched
the arrival of these strange sea monsters. They too, had
been sighted from the ships, which came to anchor, and
put off a boat to open communication and to interview
them. But nothing would induce the Indians to come out
from their concealment.
At length the white men kindled a fire, and proceeded
to boil some rice in an iron pot. Their proceedings so
interested the Indians that some of the more courageous
approached to examine why the vessel, though placed on
the fire, did not burn. They had never seen an iron vessel
before, as all their cooking was done in cedar boxes with
heated stones. When they saw the rice, they believed it
was maggots, and when the white men proceeded to mix
the rice with molasses, they concluded that it was the blood
of their enemies whom they had slain. When invited
to partake of it, they all fell back filled with astonishment. Then one of Vancouver's men raised a gun and
fired at a flock of ducks which flew over the bay, one or
two of which fell. At the report of the gun, with the flash
of the powder and the fall of the birds, the Indians again
fell to the ground in astonishment. They believed that
these strange visitors were from the skies, as they could
thus make thunder and lightning obey their will.
But the Indians who announced Vancouver's visit to
Mackenzie were not so impressed. Probably they had
heard of the white man's great flying canoes with their
command of the thunder and lightning, as news of such
moment would spread quickly from tribe to tribe. Vancouver's ships had been anchored within forty miles of the
inlet when Mackenzie had struck the coast, and while his
ships were at anchor, he and his officers, in their boats, had
examined the neighbourhood, including the channel where
Mackenzie so soon afterwards recorded his name and his
success. This Vancouver had named Cascade Channel only
a few days previously. He weighed anchor and sailed
from this vicinity on the tenth of June, and on the twenty-
second of the following month Mackenzie reached the spot.
Thus both the coast and the interior of the country were
discovered by Mackenzie, whilst at the same time Vancouver
was surveying the coast. Yet, strange to say, it does not
appear that either of them had given the newly discovered
19 the country and the mission
country a name. This is all the more singular when we
remember that Vancouver named numerous places along
the coast, and, together with Quadra, a captain of the
Spanish navy, named the largest island on the coast as
" Quadra and Vancouver," now, however, known only as
" Vancouver's Island.''
It remained for Simon Frazer, who was also an officer
of the North-West Fur Trading Company, thirteen years
afterwards, to make another journey of discovery to the
coast from the interior, and to give a name to the country
thus discovered. He encountered even greater difficulties
than Mackenzie, as he did not follow the same route, but
descended the river that now bears his name, which he
mistook for the Columbia. That " history repeats itself,"
was illustrated in Frazer's adventure. At the period of
the Roman invasion of Britain, the southern Britons called
the inhabitants of the northern part of the island « Caoilld-
aoin," or the people of the woods. Hence the latinised
name of Scotland—Caledonia. Frazer's parentage was of
Scotland, and though he had never himself seen the rugged
beauty of his fatherland, yet, from what he heard of it,
he believed this new country, with its lofty mountains,
mighty rivers, and expansive lakes resembled it, and hence
he named it " New Caledonia."
But New Caledonia and Vancouver's Island, with the
Queen Charlotte group, and all the coast islands, were
included in the title of u British Columbia," which was
given to it by « Victoria the Good," in a letter addressed
by her Majesty to Sir E. Bulwer Lytton in 1858. This
appears in the letters of Queen Victoria, which were published a few years ago, and runs as follows: « The Queen
has received Sir E. Bulwer Lytton's letter. If the name
of 'New Caledonia' is objected to as being already borne
by another colony or island claimed by the French, it may
be better to give the new colony, west of the Rocky Mountains, another name. New Hanover, New Cornwall, New
20 the country and the mission
Georgia, appear from the maps to be the names of subdivisions of that country, but do not appear on all maps.
The only name which is given to the whole territory in
every map the Queen has consulted is « Columbia,' but, as
there exists also a Columbia in South America, and the
citizens of the United States call their country also
< Columbia,' at least in poetry, ! British Columbia' might
be, in the Queen's opinion, the best name." Her gracious
Majesty's decision was hailed with enthusiasm, and thus
the western province of the Dominion ^rill ever bear this
honoured name.
British Columbia, the country thus discovered and named,
lies between the forty-eighth and sixtieth degrees of north
latitude, and is bounded on the east by the Rocky
Mountains, and on the west hy the Pacific Ocean and
Alaska. The coast line is fringed by numerous islands,
which form an almost continuous breakwater to the inner
channel, and afford a safe and smooth passage for navigation
along the coast for over six hundred miles. The principal
islands are Vancouver's to the south, and the Queen Charlotte group of islands to the north. The latter, which
were so named by Captain Dixon in 1787, are distant from
the shores of the mainland about one hundred miles on the
south, and about half this distance on the northern island.
The country is very mountainous on the coast line, which
is fringed by the coast range, whilst, further inland, rises
the Cascade Range of mountains. Between the mountain
ranges and the interior are numerous valleys, which offer
excellent prospects for future settlements.
This, then, is the country and its coast, to which the
attention of the Church Missionary Society was drawn in
1856. Numerous tribes of Indians were encamped along
the coast, and on the islands, as well as on the lakes and
rivers of the interior, where they had dwelt from time
immemorial. The attention of the Society had been
directed to the state of these Indian tribes thirty-six years
previously, when the Red River Mission was begun, but
the distance and inaccessibility of the country at that time
deterred them from entering upon it.
Now, however, the call was clear, as a naval officer, Captain J. C. Prevost, who had been in command of H.M.S.
Virago, had just returned from the British Columbian
coast, where he had been engaged in connection with the
settlement of the boundary line between British Columbia
and the United States. Whilst there, he had witnessed
enough to convince him of the necessity for a Mission
among these too long neglected tribes. They were almost
constantly warring, tribe against tribe, and had attacked
ships and schooners, killing or capturing their crews, so that
the services of this officer, with his command, had been
called into requisition on several occasions to punish
He first communicated his report to the Editorial Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, at a meeting in
Tunbridge Wells. This Secretary, the Rev. Joseph Ridgway,
whilst sincerely sympathising with the officer in his appeal
on behalf of the Indians, informed him that the Society
had no funds in hand to enable them to undertake the
proposed Mission, but requested him to write a report on
the state of the Indians and their need, which he proposed
to insert in the Society's publications. This was done, and
the article appeared in the Intelligencer, with the result
that, in the next monthly issue of this magazine, the
sum of five hundred pounds was acknowledged, | from two
friends," for the proposed Mission. Even with this sum
in hand, which was probably supplemented by smaller
contributions, the scheme might have been postponed
yet longer had not a further stimulus been given. This
was from the same naval officer, who informed the committee that he had been again commissioned by the Admiralty to proceed to the North Pacific coast, in command
of H.M.S. Satellite, to sail in ten days, and that he was THE COUNTRY AND THE MISSION
empowered to offer a free passage to a missionary, should
the Committee be prepared to send one.
The Hon. Secretary of the Society at that time, the Rev.
Henry Venn, at-once proceeded to the Society's College at
Highbury, where young men who had been accepted by
the Committee were under training for the mission field.
Here, a young man was found named William Duncan,
who at once volunteered for the new Mission. In ten days
he was ready, and having received his official instructions
from the Committee, embarked as the messenger of the
Gospel of Peace, on board a vessel of war, for his distant
destination. This was on the twenty-third of December
1856, and nearly six months afterwards, on the thirteenth
day of June 1857, the Satellite cast her anchor in Esqui-
malt harbour, near Victoria, Vancouver's Island. Here he
remained, awaiting an opportunity to proceed northward
to Fort Simpson, near to the Alaskan border, where he
had been instructed to establish the Mission.
There were then over thirty thousand Indians * in British
Columbia, speaking as many as eleven different languages,
of which six were spoken by the Indians of the coast and
islands, and the remaining five by the tribes of the interior.
Of these languages, there are many dialects. Perhaps in
no part of the world is the confusion of Babel so remarkably evidenced. The tribes in the vicinity of Fort Simpson
are known ]as the Tsimshean. Their language is divided
into three dialects, viz. the Tsimshean, the Nishka, and the
Giatikshean. The Nishka is spoken by the tribes on the
Nass River, whilst the Giatikshean is the language of the
Indians on the Skeena River. There were three thousand
Tsimshean Indians encamped around the fort.
Whilst waiting at Victoria, Mr. Duncan's time was not
lost, as he made the acquaintance of the Governor, Sir
1 Some reports represent the Indian population as double this
number. They were certainly much more numerous formerly, and no
census had been taken at that time. THE COUNTRY AND THE MISSION
James Douglas, who was also the Governor of the Hudson's
Bay Company in the province. From him, Mr. Duncan
received letters of introduction to the officer in charge of
Fort Simpson, requesting that accommodation should be
given him in the fort. This meant much for the missionary.
It secured to him protection and privacy, besides affording
him more leisure for the acquirement of the language. He
arrived at Fort Simpson on the first day of October 1857.
The Indians had heard that he was expected, and they
gathered in numbers on the shore to see the white necromancer who could read their hearts. But they did not see
much more of him that winter, as he at once applied himself to the study of the language, having secured the
assistance of a young man, a Tsimshean, named Clah, who
knew a little English, being employed in the fort. As
Mr. Duncan failed to appear, a report spread amongst the
Indians that the white Shaman had gone to sleep, as the
bears did, during the winter.
The missionary had not been long in the fort, before
he was enabled to witness some shocking scenes, which
revealed to him something of the character of the natives
amongst whom he had been called upon to labour. The
first was the murder of a slave woman on the beach in front
of the fort. After her body had been thrown in the sea,
two bands of medicine men, some of them in a state of
nudity, came rushing to the spot, howling like wolves, and
having found the body, they rushed on it, and tore it to
pieces, the two naked leaders each rushing off with half of
the body which they had torn asunder. A few days afterwards, a man was shot close to the gates of the fort. In
this case, it was the act of a chief who had been irritated
whilst partly intoxicated. He fired the first shot, which
failing to kill his victim outright, he ordered two of his
men to despatch him, which they did, shooting him as he
lay wounded on the shore. Such scenes as these only stimulated the missionary to renewed efforts to acquire their
language, and in eight months he was enabled to deliver
his first address, which with the aid of his interpreter he
preached to every tribe in the encampment.
In the spring of 1860 Mr. Duncan first visited the Nass
River. He was well received at the lower villages, where
several of the chiefs feasted him and gave him presents of
furs. One chief, Kadonah, received him with a performance
of the « Ahlied," much against the missionary's desire, as
he feared it would prevent him from delivering the message
which he was anxious to proclaim. But it rather opened
up the way, and provided him with a large assembly to hear
him. In Mr. Duncan's own account of it he states: " I had
heard Kadonah say that they intended to perform me their
6 Ahlied,' but I requested him to have no playing, as I
wanted to speak very solemnly to them. He promised me
they would do nothing bad, but now that the feasting was
over, much to my sorrow, he put on his dancing mask and
robes.1 The leading singers stepped out, and soon all were
engaged in a spirited chant. They kept excellent time by
clapping their hands and beating a drum. (I found out
afterwards that they had been singing my praises and asking
me to pity them and to do them good.) The chief, Kadonah,
danced with all his might during the singing. He wore a
cap which had a mask in front, set with mother of pearl,
and trimmed with porcupine quills. The quills enabled him
to hold a quantity of white swansdown on the top of his
head, which he ejected while dancing by poking his head
forward; thus he soon appeared as if in a shower of snow.
In the middle of the dance a man approached me with a
handful of down and blew it over my head, thus symbolically uniting me in friendship with all the chiefs present,
and the tribes they severally represented. After the dancing
and singing were-over, I felt exceedingly anxious about addressing them, but circumstances seemed so unfavourable on
1 This was their mode of making peace, or of honouring guests, by
scattering the swansdown over them from their crestal crowns.
account of the excitement that my heart began to sink.
What made the matter worse, too, was that a chief who
had lately been shot in the arm for overstepping his rank
began talking very passionately. This aroused me. I saw
at once that I must speak, or probably the meeting might
conclude in confusion. I stood up and requested them to
cease talking, and every countenance became fixed attentively on me. I began, and was enabled to speak with
more freedom and animation than I had ever done before
in the Indian tongue. Much to my encouragement, the
Indians unanimously responded at the finish of every clause.
The most solemn occasion of this kind was when I introduced the name of the Saviour. At once every tongue
uttered 'Jesus,' and for some time kept repeating that
blessed name, which I hope they will not forget."
Thus the missionary had been well received by the scattering of the swansdown, which was the highest honour
they could confer on a visitor. And they were not to be
permitted to forget the message they had heard, nor yet
the blessed name of Him who had sent it, for already
the Church Missionary Society had under consideration the
necessity of establishing a permanent Mission amongst the
Indians on the Nass River.
But in the meantime a terrible visitation was impending.
The smallpox, which had wrought such destruction among
the Indians of British Columbia and Alaska years before,
was again about to overtake them. Then it had come
from the Russians through Sitka. Now it was about to
attack them from Victoria, in the south. Thousands of
Indians had congregated there from all the tribes on the
coast, and when the dreaded disease broke out amongst
them, the Governor, Sir James Douglas, issued an order
that all the Indians should return to their respective encampments. But it was too late to stay the plague. They
fled, but every canoe carried the infection. Along the
entire coast of British Columbia and up into Alaska the THE COUNTRY AND THE MISSION
disease spread. Out amongst the islands and up the rivers
the Indians were stricken. The Nishka tribes were not
exempted. Years before, when they had fled from the outburst of the lava, from the angry spirit of the mountain,
they had escaped. But from this more subtle spirit there
was no escape.
The medicine men confessed their inability to expel it
from those who were seized with it, and declared it was the
white man's disease. And so in dens and caves all along
the coast they sought refuge, and many a canoe never
returned, because the occupants had been exterminated.
A Tsimshean Indian and his wife, in a small canoe, were
amongst those who sought to return. They had not proceeded very far when the woman realised that she had
caught the infection. They hastened to find a sheltered
camp, and soon she was covered with the dread disease.
As the symptoms increased, she begged her husband to
shoot her, and thus end her misery. He was perhaps glad
of the opportunity to escape, so, loading his gun with a
charge of shot, he first placed all his stuff in the canoe, and
then, standing on the shore, he took leave of his wife by
shooting her.
A few weeks afterwards, as he stood on the shore of his
camp one day with some other of his tribesmen watching a
canoe approaching from the south, he was astonished to
see his wife amongst the passengers. Without waiting
further he fled up the beach and concealed himself in his
lodge. He probably believed that it was his wife's spirit
which he had seen, and hence his terror. But she soon
disabused his mind of this mistake, as she followed him up
to the lodge, accompanied by a number of her friends, and
brought her husband to bay. And to make matters worse
for him, she declared the truth: how that her husband
had shot her and left her to perish. This he had concealed
from her friends, having informed them that she had died
of the disease. Nevertheless the fact remained, and she
did not deny it, that it was at her own request that her
husband had shot her. But the result was just the reverse
of what was expected. A number of the pellets of shot
had struck her and caused her to bleed freely, which evidently had brought about a reaction. A vessel containing
water stood near her, of which she was able to partake,
and on the following day another canoe, homeward bound,
stopped at the same encampment, and being of the same
tribe they remained with her, acting the part of the Good
Samaritan towards her until she was sufficiently restored
to embark and return with them. This was but one of
many strange adventures of this Indian, whom I attended
in his last illness some years afterwards.
At length, on July 2, 1864, the Rev. R. A. Doolan,
B.A., arrived at Metlakahtla, and it was decided that
he should proceed to the Nass River and open the
Mission there. Accordingly, he left Metlakahtla on July
20th, accompanied by Mr. Cunningham, a young layman
who had been sent out. by the Church Missionary Society
to assist Mr. Duncan in the secular work of the Mission.
A young man, a native Christian of the Tsimsheaus, named
Robert Dundas, also accompanied them to assist as interpreter and in the school work. The following extracts
from Mr. Doolan's first letter to the Church Missionary
Society, dated October 26, 1864, relates his experiences
and impressions in the opening of this interesting Mission :
« On the 20th of July we left Metlakahtla, and on our
arrival at Nass took up our residence in the house of one of
the chiefs. The Indians seemed very much pleased that
we had come, and helped us as far as they could by setting
up our tent in the house and by bringing us food in the shape
of salmon. Our first step was to look out for a suitable
site for a house, hoping that before the winter we might
have a small house erected; and as the Indians are divided
into three villages, separated from one another by narrow
channels of the river, it was a difficult matter to pitch on
a spot which should be equally advantageous to all. The
Indians, seeing us busy in preparing the ground for the
house, then believed we intended remaining during the
winter. They could scarcely credit it as the cold is so
intense. Our difficulty with regard to a schoolhouse was
for the present removed by renting for a year from one of
the chiefs an old deserted Indian house built in the most
populous of the three villages. To put this in order before
the winter was our next step. The chiefs and some of the
other men came forward very readily and lent us bark and
plank for roofing and flooring the schoolhouse, telling us
they did not intend treating us as the Tsimsheans had
treated Mr. Duncan. The time of the year when we
had arrived was when most of the Indians were away
making food, yet from the very first a small band of young
men stuck to us, and these with others we employed in
cutting wood for the house. To show the anxiety manifested by some among them to learn «the Book,' as they
called the Bible, I will give one instance. Two young
men came down from their own village, a distance of thirty
miles, and remained with us over two weeks till forced to
return by want of food. Their sole motive for coming
was to learn. Another lad, the son of a chief, has from
the first remained with us. He has been sorely tempted
more than once to leave. Four times in one afternoon
men came to him as he was working for us, trying to induce
him to accompany them to a whisky feast. He refused to
go, telling them if he did we should be ashamed of him.
I trust he will soon learn to resist temptation from higher
motives than these. His father and mother are very
angry with him, and have cast him off because he keeps
with us. He tells us he constantly prays to God. At
present he is here, and at Mr. Duncan's suggestion he is
going to remain with him under instruction during the
winter. I trust the Spirit is leading him to inquire after
the Saviour; and that in the spring, should it be the will
of God, he may be ready for baptism, the first-fruits from
the Nass.
Polygamy is very prevalent among them.    One chief
has no less than five wives.
Extracts from Mr. Doolarfs Journal
July 24th, the Lord's Day.—A large whisky feast going
on. Went to the second village and collected in Kado-
nah's house ten men and fourteen children. A short
address given. Went to the third village, where we got
together fifteen men and ten children.
July 25th.—Engaged all the morning looking out for
a site for our house and school. One of our hostesses (as
our host has three wives) was busy painting herself before
the fire with pitch and a decoction of berries. Above
the fire, hung on horizontal sticks, are salmon and salmon
spawn drying, as Our host went out on Saturday night and
brought home as. many as thirty large salmon, some weighing thirty pounds. In the chair of state sits the lord of
the house. Two little children, one with nothing but a
short skirt on, run about the house. Boxes of grease line
the sides, and nets hang up here and there. Two old
women, wrapt in dirty blankets, squat round the fire. In
another corner is our tent and boxes, and near us are three
young men learning to read.
August 4th.—Heard this morning that the Indians are
having a whisky feast at Lak-Ankida. Watched them
most of the day. I did not think it expedient to go over.
Saw the party go from one house to another, and at last
they stopped at the house of a young man for whom they
were yesterday working. Saw an instance of temptation.
An old man led on by Kinzadak, a chief who is doing all
in his power to undermine our work. He had his arm
around the man's neck, who seemed to be going very reluctantly. When he got within a hundred yards of the
house, down he sat. Kinzadak was now joined by another
man, and, between the two, the old man was led step by step
into the house. I thought of the devil and his agents, and
how impossible to resist him but for the grace of God.
The drunken feast was carried on far into the night, as at
ten o'clock I still heard the drums (or what they use for
substitution, simply boxes) beating." *
Thus the Nass Mission was fairly established. It will
be noted from the above account that intoxicating liquor
was even a greater hindrance to the work of the Mission
than heathenism. On one occasion Mr. Doolan had a very
narrow escape. As he was passing along in front of one
of the villages, a drunken Indian attempted to shoot him.
He lifted his gun, which was loaded, and, aiming at him,
pulled the trigger. Providentially the gun missed fire, and
he was disarmed before he could make a second attempt.
After some three and a half years' labour, Mr. Doolan was
compelled to resign, but not before he was joined in the
Mission by the Rev. R. Tomlinson. Together they decided
to remove the headquarters of the Mission further down
the river towards the mouth. Accordingly they selected
the present site, known as " Kincolith," or the " Rock of
Scalps," and Mr. Doolan assisted in the removal of the
Mission to the new quarters before his departure. The
Mission had been commenced at Abanshekques, a village
some twenty miles from the mouth, where it was carried
on during Mr. Doolan's charge. This village has long
since been abandoned, many of the Indians having moved
to the new site on becoming Christians. The site has been
gradually swept away by the encroachments of the river.
One by one the great totem poles, elaborately carved, fell
before the advancing tide, and the last two I observed were
two years bending over the river before they also fell in.
1 They are not simply boxes, but the best and soundest cedar wood,
of a squared shape and polished; over this dried skin is fastened,
on which figures and emblems are painted.
31 _? ii
Thus the old order of things was passing away—their
heathen customs, including the medicine men's evil practices, in the tearing of flesh both human and animal, and
their whisky feasts and fights, in which many were killed or
injured; and soon the light of the glorious Gospel would
illuminate their beautiful river, reminding them of the pure
river of the water of life which causeth everything to live
whithersoever it floweth. CHAPTER  II
R God said l Let there he light.'
Grim darkness felt His might
And fled away."
—Ebenezer Ei,liott.
AFTER labouring amongst the Tsimshean tribes for
/-\ five years at Fort Simpson, Mr. Duncan determined
to form a Christian settlement at Metlakahtla, some
eighteen miles south from Fort Simpson, to which to move
the converts and their children, away from heathen influences. Metlakahtla had been the old home of the Tsim-
sheans, their winter encampment, from which they had
moved to Fort Simpson after the Hudson's Bay Company
had built the fort there. It was well suited for such a
settlement, being sheltered from the coldest winds, surrounded by numerous islands, and plentifully provided with
fish and game. To this site Mr. Duncan removed with
some fifty Christian adherents, in the spring of 1862. Their
departure caused great excitement amongst the numbers
thus left behind, and, whilst we cannot but commend the
missionary's plan to build up a Christian community, which
should be a model and stimulus to all the tribes around,
yet we would add, that the Indians in the Fort Simpson
camp should not have been left as sheep without a shepherd.
Adequate provision should have been made for their continued care and instruction, before undertaking the inauguration of the new settlement. Subsequent events have
testified clearly to the correctness of this view, as will be
proved in a future chapter.
Shortly after the arrival of this little band in their new
quarters, they were surprised one day, whilst engaged in
preparing sites for their dwellings, to see a fleet of canoes,
all well filled with Indians and their effects, approaching
from Fort Simpson. They were alarmed also, as they had
heard that the smallpox, that dread disease, which has long
been the Indian's worst enemy, had broken out in the camp,
after they had left it. As the new arrivals approached the
shore, a parley was held, when it was found that they had
no stricken cases amongst them, and, as they asserted, no
infection. This tribe, called the Giatlahn, had been encamped by themselves on the farther side of the fort, and
had early established a quarantine amongst them. But
seeing the disease spreading rapidly amongst the other tribes,
and with the invitation of the missionary still ringing in
their ears, they resolved to flee, and follow the Christians
to the old camping ground. This, then, was the cause of
their flight, and, after due consultation, and an agreement
to obey the laws of the new settlement, they were permitted
to land and take up their quarters on the eastern shore of
the site. This new accession added some three hundred to
the numbers of the little band. It proved a veritable city
of refuge to those who had thus availed themselves of it, as,
so rapidly did the affection spread amongst those remaining
at Fort Simpson that no fewer than one-fifth of the entire
number were swept away by the dread disease.
By establishing a strict quarantine the new settlement
was protected from a foe more deadly than ever Indian
warrior had met on the war-path. Rules and regulations
and sanitary laws were introduced for the benefit of the
community, and a sawmill and trading store established
to supply their secular needs. As there was no representative of law on this wild northern coast, the missionary
found it necessary to accept a commission of the peace,
and in order to preserve the peace and protect the settlement he organised and swore in a body of Indian con-
stables. That this was necessary was clear, when we remember that all the tribes around were as yet heathen,
uncivilised, and unevangelised. And, to make matters
worse, whisky schooners were beginning to sail up and
down the coast laden with the deadly " fire-water," which
they bartered with the Indians for their furs. Whisky feasts
generally followed the visit of one of these vessels to a camp,
and such feasts always ended in a fierce and free fight, where
firearms and other deadly weapons were turned by the intoxicated Indians upon their friends and fellow-tribesmen.
Some of the chiefs and medicine men early began to
oppose the efforts of the missionary. They were jealous of
the influence he was gaining with their people, and realised
that their craft was in danger. But the head chief, Legaic,
a man of much influence, who had been the leader of the
opposition and had threatened the life of the missionary, at
length surrendered to the call of the Gospel, and abandoning his position of head chief, came and joined the Christian
settlement at Metlakahtla. He was shortly afterwards
baptized by the name of Paul. The Mission sustained a
loss in its early history by the resignation of the Rev. F. L.
Tugwell and his wife, who had been sent out to reinforce
the Mission. They had been nearly two years in the work
when Mrs. Tugwell's health failed, and they were compelled
to return to England, but not before Mr. Tugwell was
privileged to baptize nineteen adults and four children, the
first-fruits of the Tsimshean Mission gathered into the
visible Church of Christ. Mr. Tugwell's resignation left
Mr. Duncan single-handed just at the time when he was
embarking on the new scheme of establishing a Christian
settlement, and the presence of an ordained missionary and
his wife was indispensable. Mr. Duncan had come out
unordained and unmarried, but with the understanding
that when he had acquired the language and otherwise
tested his fitness for the climate and the work he should
accept ordination.    But the necessity for so much secular I
work led him to decide to continue as a lay agent in the
Mission, consequently an ordained missionary became a
necessity. Several attempts of the Committee to supply
this want had failed from one cause or another. And as
the openings and opportunities throughout the mission
field were many and the labourers were but few, the Committee found it difficult to meet the many calls for men.
It was this condition of affairs which led them to arrange
for a day of prayer in 1872, that more men might be led
to offer themselves for service in the mission field. As this
was in obedience to the Divine command, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth
labourers into His harvest," it was destined to succeed.
My attention was attracted to the notice in the columns
of a daily newspaper, and it aroused an old desire. I communicated my desire to the secretaries of the Church
Missionary Society, and they replied, inviting me to London
for an interview. After due examinations I was accepted,
and entered the Church Missionary College at Islington.
Here I made the acquaintance of the students, many of
whom have since become well known through their labours
in the mission field. Amongst them were Hill, afterwards
consecrated as Bishop of Sierra Leone, who, with his wife,
died shortly after their arrival in that diocese, which has
well been named " the white man's grave"; Binns, now
Archdeacon, who has laboured so long and successfully in
East Africa; Lloyd, who continues to reap where he has so
successfully sown in China; Bambridge of India, Williams
of Japan ; Cavalier, now secretary of the Zenana Mission ;
Keen, who went out first to the North-West America
Mission, where he laboured for some seven years, and then,
when compelled to return to England on account of his
health, took up duty in London for some years. He afterwards volunteered again for the mission field, and, having
been appointed to the North Pacific Mission, laboured
amongst the Haida Indians of Queen Charlotte Islands
for some eight years, and then at Metlakahtla amongst the
Tsimsheans, where, in recognition of his services, he was appointed a Canon. Hall also, who joined the North Pacific
Mission in 1877 and laboured amongst the Quagulth tribes
for some thirty-two years, reducing their language to
writing and making translations. All these and many
others were in the Church Missionary College during my
time, and, though far sundered afterwards in the mission
field, yet we have always rejoiced in one another's successes,
and sympathised with each other in times of trial.
At length, the period arrived to which the outgoing men
had long been looking forward, when we should each receive
his commission in the valedictory instructions, prior to
embarking for our respective fields of labour. The rule
of the Church Missionary Society in regard to young men
proceeding to the mission field is, that they shall go out
single and ascertain their fitness for the climate and the
work, and also acquire the language, before receiving permission to enter the state of matrimony. But, in my case,
this rule was reversed. The secretaries intimated to me
that, as there was no lady missionary at Metlakahtla, it
would be advisable that I should find a helpmeet to accompany me to the field. But little was known then of British
Columbia in the mother country, much less of the most
northerly part of the province. This was illustrated when,
advised by the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society
to have my life insured, I applied to a leading insurance
company, and, though approved by their own medical
officer, yet the directors declined to insure me, as they
knew nothing of the country to which I was proceeding.
Fifteen years afterwards, the same company's agent met
me in Victoria, and urged me to take out a policy.
On the 1st of July 1873, at a public valedictory meeting
held in London, the Hon. Secretary, the late Rev. Henry
Wright, read the Committee's instructions to the outgoing
missionaries.     Some of my former fellow-students were
commissioned to proceed to Africa, some to Palestine, India,
China, Ceylon, and Japan. I was the only missionary
whose instructions were to proceed to the western shores of
« the great lone land," as Captain Butler had termed it in
the volume of his travels just then published.
My instructions were as follows: __ You, Brother Collison,
have been appointed to the North Pacific Mission. Though
last upon our list, it is not least in our hearts' affections.
God Himself has marked it out as a field of special interest.
We trust you will regard it as no small proof of the confidence the Committee have been led to repose in you, that
you have been selected for this field. . . .
"The Committee cannot refrain from expressing their
satisfaction, that you are to be accompanied by one who,
from all that they have heard, they have reason to believe
will prove a true helper to you in your work, and a true
mother to the infant church at Metlakahtla. . . .
| They would only add that they look for the blessing of
our faithful God to accompany you both on your way, and
to bless you. You are not going to one of the dense
populations of the earth, but you are followers of Him who
said, * What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he
lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the
wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it ? '
and they pray that you may be abundantly partakers of
His Spirit, and sharers in His glory."
Our marriage took place on the 19th of August, and We
spent a few days in visiting friends, and arranging and
making preparation for our embarkation. My wife, to
whom reference had been made in the dismissal instructions, had, as a deaconess, nursed the wounded on the
battlefields during the Franco-German war, and was present
at the surrender of Metz. She was, together with another
lady helper, seized with typhoid fever, which carried off her
companion, and well-nigh proved fatal in her own case also.
She had also rendered valuable services in taking charge of
the Protestant patients during the epidemic of smallpox
which took place in Cork. She afterwards assisted in the
establishment of the first hospital for incurables there. She
was thus well prepared to take her part in mission work
amongst the Indian women, with whom she soon gained a
remarkable influence, and was enabled to correct many
abuses, which even those who were Christians still retained
amongst them. She was the first white woman to take up
her residence amongst the Tsimsheans at Metlakahtla, and
afterwards the first amongst the then fierce Haidas of Queen
Charlotte Islands, where her skill in ministering to the
sick, and in dressing the wounds of those injured, tended in
no small degree to bring them under the influence of the
teaching of the Gospel of Salvation.
On the 10th of September 1873, we embarked from
Queenstown on board the steamship Idaho of the Guion
Line. We encountered some stormy weather on the
Atlantic during the equinoctial gales, and one of the
shafts was broken, which occasioned a delay of many
hours in substituting a new shaft, which fortunately we
had on board. We were some sixteen days in making the
passage to New York, which was about as long again as
the ordinary time. The Bishop of Zanzibar, the late Dr.
Tozier, was a fellow-passenger, taking the trip across the
Atlantic for his health. On our first Sunday out, he
preached, taking for his text St. James ii. 17, " Honour
all men," &c. As the sea was rough, the Bishop was unable
to stand alone, and two of the sailors were called to stand,
one on either side, to brace up the preacher. But the
Bishop, being a tall man, and both the seamen below the
average height, it taxed all their efforts to keep him in
statu quo. It resembled so much an intoxicated man being
assisted by two others more sober than himself that I fear
the congregation benefited as little as we did from the
We remained over a Sunday in New York, where we
enjoyed a pleasant reunion with some friends. I was
invited to preach in the evening, in a Brooklyn church,
and much interest was manifested in our mission. At an
informal meeting held afterwards, a number of young men
intimated their desire to offer themselves for the missionary
work of the Church, and their names were recorded. They
were anxious to obtain my future address, in order to communicate with me, but, as I was unable to inform them of
the facilities or dates of mail service in connection with my
proposed destination, I could not accommodate them.
We visited Chicago (which shortly after was overtaken
by a great fire), and witnessed many interesting incidents
there, illustrative of the intense pressure of American life
in the cities. The Union Pacific Railroad had but lately
been connected with San Francisco, and much of it was as
yet in the rough. As the bridge over the Mississippi was
only in process of construction, the passengers had to leave
the train and walk over a temporary bridge, as it was considered unsafe to remain in the cars. As it was almost
impossible to obtain a meal at any of the stations, owing
to the rush of passengers, and there were then no dining-
cars, I determined to endeavour to procure a little hot
water occasionally, with which to prepare some tea.
At a rough-looking station near the Rockies, where
the train stopped for ten minutes, I made my way to a
wooden structure exhibiting a sign which induced me to
believe I should find what I required. Nor was I disappointed, as I was quickly served with a jug of boiling
water. But I was scarcely prepared for what followed.
A number of hard-looking characters were seated around
a table engaged in gambling. With these the man who
had served me was evidently in partnership, as no sooner
had I paid him than he sprang to the door and, closing it,
demanded that I should take part in the game which was
being played. The others also joined with him in demanding that I should put down my money, and, as I made a
rush for the door, another of them sprang forward to
intercept me. I succeeded, however, in opening the door
sufficiently to enable me to press my foot between it and
the jamb. Failing to dislodge me, one of them then
threatened to shoot me, and was drawing his revolver,
when I suddenly thought of the boiling water with which
they had provided me. Instantly raising the jug, I
threatened him with the contents, which threw him off
his guard, and, seizing the opportunity, I pulled open the
door and escaped. I was followed by a volley of oaths
on the " down-easter" who had thus defeated them in
their object. This was to detain me till the train left,
when I should have been at their mercy. They well-nigh
succeeded, as the train was moving when I reached it, and
I boarded it with difficulty. There was neither law nor
protection in the western wilds in those days, and many a
crime was committed of which no account was taken.
We found, on reaching San Francisco, that we should
have to wait nearly a fortnight, as there was but one
steamer plying to Victoria, Vancouver's Island, which made
two sailings monthly. Consequently, we had ample time
to see the " City of the Golden Gate " and to study the
conditions of life there. It was the month of October, and
during the day the weather was excessively warm ; but the
nights were rather cool. I was struck by the variety and
abundance of luscious fruits which were on sale in every
street at low prices.
I visited the Stock Exchange, where men appeared to be
beside themselves in their,, keen competition to effect the
best bargains. Shouting, jumping, and apparently threatening one another, it sometimes required all the efforts
of the salesman to command attention with his hammer.
Then, as now, this city was noted for earthquakes, and one
large brick building which had been erected for the purposes of a marine hospital was standing split from roof to
foundation as the result of one such shock. It had just
been completed, but they were about to pull it down again
as it was unsafe. I did not dream then that in the destruction of the city afterwards by earthquake and fire one
of my sons should pass through that terrible ordeal unharmed. But so it happened. He was acting as chaplain
to the missions for seamen in that port when it occurred,
and he had several narrow escapes.
We embarked on the Prince Alfred on October 5th
en route for Victoria, Vancouver's Island. Our steamer was
neither large nor powerful, and as the weather was squally
there was quite a swell from the Pacific. As the wind
was on our beam the steamer rolled heavily, and most of
the passengers were sick. Amongst those who were exempt
from sea-sickness there were three young men, who amused
themselves by making sport of those who were suffering.
On the second day out, when seated at luncheon, it became
very rough, so that several who had ventured to take their
seats at the table were compelled to retire. Our three
heroes were evidently enjoying themselves at the expense
of the sufferers, and their laughter rang around the dining
saloon. Suddenly the vessel rolled heavily, and one of
them lost his balance, and in falling backwards he clutched
at one of his party, who in turn, in order to preserve his
balance, grasped hold of the third. Instantly all three
fell over together, dragging the table-cloth with the soup
after them. Amidst peals of laughter from all sides, in
which the captain and officers joined heartily, they gathered
themselves together and rushed to their rooms, where they
secreted themselves for the remainder of the day. When
they reappeared they were evidently careful not to make
light of their fellow-passengers again.
In six days we reached Victoria, and found on inquiry
that there was only one small trading vessel plying north
from Victoria, and she was due to sail on the 1st day of
November. We were welcomed by the Very Rev. E. Cridge,
who was then Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, and Sena-
tor Macdonald. The Dean invited us to be his guests
until the steamer sailed. The trip up the coast occupied
nearly nine days. Being the last trip of the year the
steamer called at every trading post of the Hudson's Bay
Company along the coast. As every such trading post is
situated in or near to an Indian camp, we were thus enabled
to obtain a fair knowledge of the character and condition
of the various tribes. At one encampment to the north
of Vancouver's Island a French Roman Catholic Mission
had been established for some time, and as our steamer
anchored off the village the missionary came on board.
Having been introduced by the captain, I inquired from
the good father as to what measure of success he had
achieved in his Mission.
"Success!" he exclaimed. "Why, I can do nothing
amongst them. Only yesterday they stole the blankets off
my bed. I have laboured amongst several tribes of Indians
in the interior, but I have never found any so bad as these.
And," he added, " we are about to abandon the Mission."
This they did shortly after, and in 1877 the Church Missionary Society entered on the field amongst the Quagulth
tribes, the Rev. A. J. Hall first occupying Fort Rupert as
his headquarters, and afterwards Alert Bay.
At some of the encampments we saw the medicine men,
in their paint and cedar-bark crowns, performing their incantations over the sick. At Bella Coola a medicine dance
was in progress, and a weird scene it presented as they
danced around in a large lodge, chanting a wild dirge, in
which time was kept by beating as a drum a large cedar
chest, over which a dried skin was stretched, whilst the
woodwork was decorated by fantastic figures, painted with
their colours.
We reached Metlakahtla, our destination, on Sunday at
midday, and anchored in the harbour off the village.   This
was the first Mission station north of Nanaimo along a coast
line of over five hundred miles, with the exception above
mentioned, and there was but another station some fifty-five
miles further north, and near to the boundary of Alaska.
At each of these two stations there was but one missionary,
so that we at once saw there was a wide field of labour
awaiting us. Our good captain had informed us that, as it
was Sunday, we would probably have to remain on board till
the following day, as the rule of the Mission was that no
goods or passengers should be landed on Sunday.
After casting anchor, we could see a large congregation
of Indians emerging from a rough building standing on the
shore, which I afterwards learned was meant to serve the
purposes of a guest and market-house, but which was now
being used as a temporary church. Shortly afterwards a
boat put off from the shore, which on approaching the
steamer we saw was manned by two white men. They
were on a visit to the Mission, and learning that we were
expected by this, which was the last trip of the steamer for
the year, they volunteered to come off for us. On reaching
the shore we received a hearty welcome from Mr. Duncan,
whilst hundreds of the Indians pressed forward to greet us.
As they were clean, and dressed in holiday attire, they presented a pleasing contrast to the tribes we had seen in
their paint and blankets along the route. There were about
four hundred and fifty Indians then at Metlakahtla, many
of whom had been baptized; the rest were catechumens.
We were present at the evening service, which was well
The language sounded strangely in our ears, and the
responses were repeated by all as with one voice. There
were no books in the native language, but the hymns and
responses were sung and repeated from memory in their
own tongue. Many of the Indians possessed English Bibles,
and were able to find the text when given out. This was
read by the preacher in English, and then translated
into the Tsimshean. Though ignorant of the language, the
day following our arrival found me hard at work. In a
long, low blockhouse, constructed of logs, and but poorly
lighted, I took up school work—first, in the morning* with
over one hundred children of both sexes; and again in the
afternoon, with some one hundred and twenty women, including the senior girls, who had been present in the
morning; whilst in the evening we had the building well
filled with men from seven till nine p.m.
As the cold weather had set in, we had two wood fires
some distance apart, on hearths elevated about a foot higher
than the floor around. Over the fires, and about five feet
above them, were constructed funnel-shaped chimneys of
sheet-iron on a wooden framework, but before the draught
in these could draw the smoke, the wind blew it through the
room, which proved most trying to the eyes.
It was this educational work which enabled me to acquire the language quickly, with the correct pronunciation.
At first, the calling of the school roll was always accompanied with considerable merriment at the teacher's expense.
The majority of the pupils were as yet unbaptized, and
were consequently enrolled by their own old heathen names.
As I endeavoured to call these out, " Wenalohik," « Adda-
ashkaksh,""Tka-ashkakash," "Weyumiyetsk," and scores of
other names even longer and more difficult, peal after peal
of laughter arose from my pupils. But I did not mind.
It served to show me my deficiency, which I made haste to
correct. Gradually, this hilarity subsided, and I knew I
was overcoming the difficulties of the pronunciation of the
language. I also was enabled to undertake a part in the
charge and care of the sick, and in this my wife was enabled
to render valuable assistance, especially in cases requiring
surgical aid, and in female complaints.
Not long after our arrival, an Indian hunter was brought
in badly injured by a bear.1    He had been coasting along
1 This is the hunter * Shu we le haik kum Sakhaha," the " New Great
One who stood on high/' whose fight with a bear is recorded in Mr.
Crosby's book, pp. 278-282,   It is there stated that he " got to where
in his canoe, accompanied by his son, a boy of some ten
years old, when suddenly a large black bear was sighted
near the shore. Paddling stealthily till well within range,
he then took aim and fired, but only succeeded in wounding
the bear, which quickly disappeared in the forest. Springing ashore, he hastened in pursuit of the wounded animal,
which he tracked by the stains of blood on its trail. He
had just succeeded in loading his flint-lock musket, when
suddenly the bear sprang upon him from behind a fallen
tree, where he lay in wait. The force with which the bear
assailed him had dashed the gun from his grasp, so that
he was completely at the mercy of the infuriated animal.
His son, who had followed his father with axe in hand,
rushed to his help on hearing his cries, and together they
succeeded in despatching the animal. But what a state he
had left the hunter in ! His left eyebrow was torn away, and
his upper lip ripped open. His left fore-arm was broken,
whilst the flesh hung in strips from the shoulder. His thigh
was also badly lacerated. We were enabled to dress his
wounds by putting in some stitches where necessary, and
using adhesive plaster for the lighter wounds. His broken
arm was also set, and steps taken to arrest the inflammation.
Notwithstanding the high fever which followed, this patient
recovered, and appeared grateful for the treatment he had
received. He abandoned heathenism, and with his wife
and family joined the Methodist Mission at Port Simpson,
where, after a course of instruction, they were baptized.
But he never completely lost the marks of his life-and-death
encounter with Bruin. Many such accidents occurred from
time to time amongst the Indians, and as the teachings of
the truths of Christianity had led them to abandon their
belief in the Shaman or medicine man and his charms, it
there was a doctor," where he was cared for and his wounds dressed.
It was to Metlakahtla he was brought, where with my wife we set his
broken arm, sewed up his wounds and saved his life. Mrs. (Widow)
Prevost assisted us then.. METLAKAHTLA
became one of the duties of the missionary to attend to,
and endeavour to alleviate bodily suffering and disease.
Mr. Duncan was just then engaged in the erection of
the new church, a building designed to accommodate some
twelve hundred worshippers. The Indians at Fort Simpson
were not wholly neglected, as native evangelists from Metlakahtla sustained weekly services there. In this good work
I was also glad to engage, and it was at Fort Simpson that
I delivered my first address in Tsimshean, just eight months
after my arrival in the Mission. Heathenism was then in
possession at Fort Simpson, and sometimes the weird and
fanatic cries and howling of the medicine men could be
heard miles from the camp, as we approached.
An incident occurred about this time at Fort Simpson
which will illustrate the effect of the influence of these
Shamans in the Indian camps. An Indian had incurred the
displeasure of a medicine man in some way, which caused
the medicine man to set his witchcraft in operation against
him. So fearful were the Indians of this that, once under
its spell, they abandoned themselves to their fate. They
became dejected, lost all courage, and usually succumbed
under the first attack of sickness. But this Indian was a
man of more than ordinary courage and spirit. He determined to obtain the upper hand of the medicine man.
One night, when the latter was engaged in performing his
incantations over a sick man, this Indian on whom he had
cast his spell stole round to the rear of the lodge where he
was operating and shot him dead through an opening between the planks of the wall. He was seized by the tribe,
delivered up to justice, and taken to Victoria, where, after
due trial, he was found guilty and condemned to death.
Knowing well the cause which led this Indian to shoot
the medicine man, and that he did so simply in self-defence,
we united in signing a petition to the Governor-General of
Canada pleading for mercy for the condemned man. I
happened to be in Victoria as the time drew near for his
execution, and visited the Chief Justice on the arrival of
every mail to inquire whether a reprieve had arrived. I
had been disappointed several times, when one morning, as
I approached his residence, the door opened and the Chief
Justice stood in the doorway waving the long-hoped-for
document. " A reprieve ! A reprieve ! " he cried; " it
arrived by this morning's mail. Your Indian's life is
spared." And then he instructed me to proceed direct to
the city prison and inform the governor. I did so, but
found this officer unwilling to surrender his prisoner unless
the reprieve was lodged with him. Accordingly I returned
to the judge, and he accompanied me to the gaol, where,
after deliberation, it was arranged that a duly certified copy
should be made out and given to the governor of the
prison. This was done at the court-house, after which I
visited the prisoner. I found him in the condemned cell,
an abject picture of misery. When the jailor admitted me,
he stood and stared at me as though expecting something.
" Would you like to be free again ?" I asked him.
" Would you like to see your wife and join your family
again ? "
He continued to stare at me, and then, as though my
words had revived in him memories of his friends, he replied, " Why do you mock me ? Don't you know I have
only a few days longer to live ? "
" Do you believe that the same power which condemned
you to die could pardon you and restore you to freedom
again ? " I replied.
A ray of hope seemed to flash across his mind, and it
was reflected from his dark eyes as he sought to read my
meaning, but remained silent.
" You are pardoned," I said; " the great chief who
speaks for the Queen has sent the paper which sets you
free. I have seen it, and that is why I am here. The
steamer leaves for the North to-morrow morning, and I shall
come for you. You will meet your wife and friends again."
And as the truth burst in upon him he bowed his head,
and the tears fell fast on the stone floor of his cell. His
whole frame shook with emotion as I grasped his hand and
requested him to be ready in the morning.
I longed to tell him of the greater pardon prepared for
him, which only awaited his acceptance, which had been
purchased for him at a great price. And silently I prayed
that it might be his also.
The following morning at six o'clock I called at the
prison. He embarked with me, and on the journey informed me that he would not return to Port Simpson again.
He disembarked at Metlakahtla instead, and sent for his
wife to join him. Afterwards his brothers also joined him
there. This was prior to the establishment of the Methodist Mission at Port Simpson. He eagerly accepted the
good news of the great salvation, and was baptized, as also
his wife and brothers. But he was seized with pulmonary
disease, probably contracted during his imprisonment, and
rapidly became weaker. In one of my visits to him at
this time he presented me with a swansdown cap which
he had prepared with the assistance of his wife from a
swan which his brother had shot.
" I cannot give you much," he said, " but I ask you to
accept this. You brought me the good news of my pardon
when in prison, and now you have taught me of a greater
mercy, which I have received. So I am not now afraid to
go when the call comes, for I am ready."
Thus he passed away, but not before he had the happiness of seeing his wife and brothers all admitted to the
membership of the Church of Christ.
| If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost
parts of the sea;
| Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold
me."—Psalm cxxxix. 9, 10.
THE new church building at Metlakahtla was completed
and ready for opening by Christmas 1874. Invitations were accordingly sent out to the tribes around
to be present at the dedicatory services. A large number
of the Fort Simpson Indians responded, as also a number
from our Kincolith Mission of the Nishkas, where the Rev.
R. Tomlinson was in charge. Shakes also, the chief of the
Giat-kahtla tribe, came in a monster canoe, the largest I
have seen, accompanied by nearly one hundred of his tribe.
On the occasion of the opening, a large Bible was presented
to him, one of a number which had been given by the
Society to be presented to such as might be considered
worthy of the gift. It lay long in his treasure-chest before
he learnt to appreciate its value, but at length the true
light illuminated his dark heart, and he renounced heathenism, and was baptized into the Church of Christ by the
Rev. F. L. Stephenson, who had been appointed to take
charge of that Mission by the C.M.S.
This encampment on Ogden Channel was one of those
which I visited when itinerating by canoe in the early years
of my work. On my first visit I remained over a Sunday,
and was permitted by this chief, Shakes, to conduct services
in his large lodge. Some of the leading men of the tribe
feared my influence with him, as they appeared to have
arranged that several of them should always be present
with him during my stay. Shakes was a bigamist, and
lifter the morning service, his wives roasted some dried
salmon before the large fire which burned on-the hearth in
the centre of the great lodge. Having seated themselves
one on either side of the chief, they proceeded to divide up
and masticate the salmon for him. Then, withdrawing it
from their mouths, they placed it in his mouth, each acting
in turn, the one using the right hand, and the other the left.
He held a horn spoon himself, from which he occasionally
took a sip of olachan grease, renewing his supply from a
dish placed before him. At length he intimated that he
was satisfied, when they supplied him with a draught of
water, after which they proceeded to partake of the dried
salmon and grease themselves.
This is the chief of whose conversion Bishop Ridley has
written a graphic account under the title of " A Grand Old
Chief." As a heathen, he certainly was not worthy of the
name, as the above incident will indicate, but when at length,
after a long struggle, he divested himself of his paint and
feathers, and before the assembled tribe declared his determination to walk in the ways of the Chief of Heaven, he
rendered himself more worthy of the title. At his last
potlatch, given prior to his embracing Christianity, he gave
one hundred dollars for presentation to Her Majesty, the
late Queen Victoria. In return he received a handsome
engraving of Her Majesty, and a richly coloured rug, which
he prized highly while he lived. His predecessor, the once
proud and powerful Sebasha, or " Snared Foot," was more
worthy of the title « A Grand Old Chief."
As a young man, Sebasha had led the warriors of his
tribe as far south as the west coast of Vancouver's Island
on marauding expeditions, and to capture and enslave.
But at length he was apprehended and conveyed south for
trial. A number of his tribe had attacked some white pros-
pectors on their way up the coast, and killed two of them*
One of these Indians gave evidence against the murderers
and they were executed, but as there was not sufficient
evidence to convict the chief, he was sent by order of the
Judge, Sir Matthew Begbie, to the Mission at Metlakahtla,
to be detained there for five years. It has been publicly
stated that he was sentenced to imprisonment, which is
incorrect. As he approached the end of his time, it was
reported that the men of his tribe were coming in their
large canoes to convey him back in triumph. I interviewed him to ascertain his intention, when he informed
me that he would not again return to heathenism. Nor
did he. He sent a message to the tribe to this effect. Like
others of his tribe, he had been a bigamist. He had a slave
wife, as also another of his own rank. He put away the
former, who obtained her freedom, and after due instruction
was baptized, as were also his wife and family. His children
by his slave wife went out free, with their mother, and they
were also admitted to the membership of the Church by
baptism. As a heathen, Sebasha had always been a slaveowner, as indeed all the chiefs were.
It was this same chief from whom Mr. Duncan rescued
two slaves on one occasion. One dark night, as he was
returning to the Mission-house after a visit to the sick, he
was approached in a stealthy manner by two men who
appeared to have been lying in wait for him. They were
two of Sebasha's slaves, anxious to procure their freedom,
Sebasha had arrived on the preceding day, accompanied by
a large number of his tribe, and, with them, he was then
encamped in the guest-house. Mr. Duncan readily took in
the situation, and, inviting the slaves to follow him, he
placed them in a log-house, behind the Mission-house. In
the morning there was great excitement amongst Sebasha's
Indians over the disappearance of the slaves. Suspicion
fell upon the missionaries. Soon the chief appeared, and
entering the Mission-house with his retainers, he demanded
that his slaves be restored to him. His request was refused, and the reasons given. These slaves belonged to a
tribe to the south from which they had been captured, and
they had appealed for protection and liberty. This, Mr.
Duncan informed the chief, he could not refuse them.
Both as missionary and magistrate, he was bound to grant
their prayer.
Sebasha became angry and began to threaten. But the «
native constables had lined up around. There were not
many of them in camp; indeed, most of the Indians were
away at the time. The chief, it was believed, had a
loaded pistol concealed under his blanket, and all his men
were ready for action. At this critical moment a number
of canoes under sail suddenly appeared, making for the
shore under" a stiff breeze. Sebasha's look-out passed the
word to him and his men. Believing prudence to be the
better part of valour, they decamped hastily, and embarked
before the arrival of the new-comers. These, however,
turned out to be a fleet of Haidas from Queen Charlotte
Islands. But their timely appearance saved the situation,
as Sebasha would not have surrendered his slaves without
a struggle, the result of which would have been doubtful.
The slaves were duly restored to their own tribe, and the
law of liberty vindicated.
The heathenism of the Giat-kahtla tribe, of which both
Sebasha and Shakes were chiefs in succession, was of the
darkest and fiercest character. A native teacher, who was
a half-breed, had been sent to this tribe, but he returned
shortly after and informed us that he could not remain
there longer, owing to the vile practices which were carried
on nightly in the camp. The flesh of dogs and corpses was
torn and devoured by the medicine men in a cannibalistic
manner, and even mouthfuls of flesh torn from the arms
and shoulders of men and women when passing through the
camp. The overbearing character of the Giat-kahtla chiefs
is illustrated by an incident recorded of one of Sebasha's
predecessors. This chief was seated in front of his lodge
one day in the early spring, when food was scarce. One
of the tribe was out fishing for halibut a short distance off
shore, in front of the village. At length he succeeded in
hauling up a fine fish. On seeing this, the chief immediately called to a slave to launch a small canoe, and to row
him out to the successful fisherman. When the latter saw
him approaching, he realised at once that his object was
to seize the fish. Irritated by the memory of many such
acts, he at once resolved to rid himself and his tribe of such
an oppressor once for all. So, seizing the bark rope to the
end of which a stone was attached, which he had been
using as an anchor, he tied it round his waist, and as the
chief laid hold of the halibut to transfer it to his own canoe,
he seized him securely round the neck and jumped overboard, dragging the chief with him. Unable to free himself
from such a death grip, he never rose to the surface again,
and thus the oppressed and oppressor died together.
Under the teachings of our missionaries, the Rev. F. L.
Stephenson and the Rev. R. W. Gurd, the entire tribe has
abandoned heathenism and become Christians. Mr. Gurd,
who laboured several years at Metlakahtla, still continues
the work at Giat-kahtla, where under his guidance and
direction the old village has given place to a new town with
well laid out streets and modern dwellings, all crowned by
a fine church, erected by themselves. But this great change
was not effected without opposition. In 1885 the first
Mission church, which had only been erected a short time
previously, and for which I selected the site and ordered
the lumber, was burnt down by the heathen party, and for
a time it appeared as though the little band of Christians
must succumb. But they continued to stand firm, and
gradually their numbers increased until Chief Shakes at
length surrendered, when victory was'no longer uncertain.
And thus Giat-kahtla also was won for Christ and the truth.
Two names stand out as deserving of honourable mention
amongst the first who cast off the heathen yoke at Giat-
kahtla and became free men in Christ. They are Stephen
Ium-ta-quak and Daniel Lutquazamti. Sebasha survived
to see both his successor Shakes and his tribe won to
Christianity. He remained faithful through the trials to
which the Mission Indians were subjected by the schism
which separated the majority of their brethren and fellow-
tribesmen from them. And when at length he was seized
with the illness which proved fatal, during his last hours
he gave striking evidence of his faith in Christ. The last
words he was heard to utter were a Tsimshean translation
of the grand old hymn:
" Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."
It was in the autumn of 1875 that the first inquiry as
to the practicability of starting a salmon-canning establishment on the Skeena River Was made. I landed at
Woodcock's landing, now known as Inverness, from a
canoe, accompanied by twelve Indians, where I was introduced by Mr. Woodcock to a gentleman named Colonel
Lane, who had just arrived on the H.B. Company's
steamer. He informed me that he had come up the coast
to ascertain if the salmon abounded in sufficient numbers
to warrant the establishment of a cannery. It was a calm
evening and sultry as betokening rain, and I had remarked
that the salmon were jumping pretty freely, especially up
the eastern outlet of the river. So, calling upon the newcomer to follow me, I led him down to the edge of the
water where we could see clearly up the channel, and then
directed him to look up. " There," I said; " you require
no further evidence than that. And just here is about as
good a site as you could find for such an establishment."
He was fully satisfied with the outlook, and so impressed
with the advantage of the position that he at once entered
into negotiations with the squatter for the purchase of the
place. In this he succeeded, and returning to Victoria by
the same trip of the steamer, he formed the company which
took over Woodcock's landing, and erected the first cannery
on the Skeena there, which was renamed by the company
" Inverness." And the introduction of this industry on the
north-west coast afterwards proved most advantageous to
the Metlakahtla Mission.
Mr. Duncan had long laboured to introduce some industrial occupation which would prove profitable to the
Indians and the Mission. The manufacture of soap had
been tried but proved a failure, owing to the unsuitability
of fish oil for the purpose. And even if it had succeeded,
it would scarcely have proved profitable, seeing that the
fish grease is sold by the Indians who extract it at two
dollars to two dollars and a half per tin, containing five
gallons, or fifty cents a gallon. Consequently this was
The next industry sought to be introduced was that of
spinning and weaving shawls and blankets. To this end
an instructor was engaged, and machines and wool purchased and procured at considerable cost. But after due
trial they only succeeded in turning out an article that
none of them would purchase. Had the Indians been
taught to manufacture the magnificent robes which are
woven by the Chilcat tribe of Alaska from the wool of the
mountain goat, and dyed by them with their own peculiar
designs, the venture would not have been a failure. And
why ? it may be asked. Because it is an Indian design, and
as such commands a high price. They are valued at from
fifty to seventy dollars at the present time, and are in great
demand by tourists and others.
On one occasion when Mr. Duncan was expressing his
regret at the failure of his effort to perfect this industry,
and at the loss sustained over it, I ventured to introduce a
subject which had for some time been on my mind. It
was the advisability of introducing salmon canning as an
industry. « You have," I said, « been contending against
adverse circumstances. Even supposing your weaving had
turned out successful in the manufacture, you could not
hope to have competed with the imported article, having
to pay freight on the raw material up the coast, whereas
the manufacturers in Eastern Canada and elsewhere have
the material at hand. No," I added, « why not introduce
the salmon canning industry? You have the fishermen
ready made and to order. They require no training, as
every coast Indian is a fisherman from his youth up, and
you have got another important advantage in your sawmill
by whkh you can turn out not only the lumber for the
erection of your buildings, but also the material for the
salmon cases afterwards. And you are" conveniently near
to the salmon fishing waters of the Skeena to which the
cannery men are now turning their attention." In reply,
Mr. Duncan stated that it was impossible to start such an
industry without a large capital. I suggested that it
could be introduced on a small scale and gradually increased, and urged him on his next journey to Victoria to
visit the Fraser River canneries and ascertain just what
machinery would be necessary. In the spring Mr. Duncan
left on a business trip to the south, and on his return
announced his intention to erect a cannery. Not only had
he realised his ability to introduce this industry, but he
had found friends ready to invest in such an enterprise.
Shortly after the establishment of the first salmon cannery
on the Skeena I visited it to conduct evangelistic services for
the Indians there, when the manager of the cannery complained to me that the Christian Indians had refused to put
out their nets for fish on Sundays. I informed him that I
was glad to know that they were faithful to the teaching they
had received and to the vows which they had made. At this
he was rather indignant, and replied that they should have
been taught to obey as their first duty. " That is just what
we have endeavoured to do," I replied, " to obey God rather
than man. Would you have us teach them some of the
commandments and to set aside the rest ? If we teach them,
as we have,4 Thou shalt do no murder,' and S Thou shalt not
steal,' we must also teach them to ' Remember to keep holy
the Sabbath Day.' And it is this teaching which has
civilised and evangelised these men, and prepared them to
become docile and industrious, whereas before they were
fierce and indolent."
Just then a tall, intelligent-looking Indian approached
me. I recognised him as one of our Metlakahtla Indians
who had been present at my service. " Oh, sir," he said, in
trembling tones, " I want your help; I want you to make
peace for me. The white man who escaped when we attacked
his party is here, and I long to grasp his hand. I want his
Several years previously a party of three miners, returning
from the goldfields on the Upper Stikeen River, had encamped for the night on a small island off the mouth of the
Skeena. Early the following morning a canoe, manned by
Fort Simpson Indians, emerged from the mouth of the river.
The miners had lit their camp fire, and were preparing their
breakfast. Attracted by the smoke of the camp fire, the
Indians steered for the island. They had been fishing, and
had a number of salmon in their canoe. On landing they
intimated their desire to sell the miners a fresh salmon.
Glad of the offer, one of them inadvertently took out his
bag of gold dust, and, taking from it a small pinch, handed
it in exchange for the salmon. The Indians embarked, but
not to proceed homewards. Their cupidity had been excited
by the sight of the gold, and, instead of continuing on their
course, they doubled around the further end of the island*
which was thickly wooded, and paddled noiselessly until
abreast of the camp on the opposite side. Then, creeping
stealthily up, they fired a volley on the unsuspecting miners.
Two of them fell mortally wounded, whilst the third fled to
the off shore.   Fortunately he was only dressed in his under* THE MISSION CHURCH
clothing. Taking his bag of gold from his belt as he ran, he
cast it into the deep, and then diving, he struck out for the
further shore of a large island near. The Indians fired
another volley after him, but he dived on the moment and
escaped. Seeing that they had failed to shoot him, they
rushed to the canoe, and, jumping in, paddled with all their
power in order to intercept him. But it was useless; he
was a powerful swimmer, and reaching the shore weU in
advance, he rushed into the forest and climbed a large tree,
where he hid himself amongst the thick branches. As the
trees grew thickly together, they failed to find him, and
fearing discovery, or perhaps anxious for the plunder, they
put off for the camp again to seize what they could, and
then fled.
The fugitive remained in the tree that night, and in the
morning, famished with cold and hunger, he descended and
returned to the shore, where he peered out cautiously. He
saw one canoe pass and then another, but they were both
manned by men with their faces painted and arrayed as
heathen Indians. After a little, a third canoe came in
sight. At it drew near he observed that there were women
in it as well as men, and from their civilised appearance he
concluded they were Christian Indians from Metlakahtla.
He therefore ventured out, and, standing on the shore,
hailed them. Surprised at the sight of a white man in
such a plight, and concluding that he must have been shipwrecked, they took him aboard and brought him to the
Mission. He told his sad story to Mr. Duncan, who sent
and had the bodies of those who were killed decently interred.
Two of the Indians were afterwards seized by a vessel of war,
and taken to trial, and one at least was executed. A third,
who had formed one of the attacking party, afterwards came
and gave himself up at the Mission. He was also taken to
Victoria and tried for the crime, but was acquitted, as there
was no evidence to convict him.
This, then, was the man who now pleaded to be recon-
ciled to the miner who had so miraculously escaped.
Moved by his appeal, I accompanied him. He pointed
out the miner to me, who was now engaged in the
cannery. He was a man of about equal stature with
the Indian, both of them being over six feet.
I saluted him, and informed him of the Indian; who
he was, and what his desire. He scrutinised him for a
moment. Then he exclaimed with indignation : " Forgive
him ? No, I will never forgive because I can never forget.
That man and those with him shot my friends, and endeavoured to shoot me, and yet he wants my forgiveness. I
had gained about five hundred dollars in gold, with which
I intended to return to Norway and visit my old father
and mother, but, when these Indians made the murderous
attack on us, I was compelled to swim for my life. I cast
my gold dust into the sea. I was unable to retrieve my
loss, and my parents have both died since, and yet this
man, who with his party destroyed both my friends and
my prospects, asks me to forgive him."
I endeavoured to soften his heart towards the man he
regarded as his enemy. I informed him of the great change
he had undergone, and also reminded him that the Indians
really guilty had been punished, whilst this man had been
found not guilty of the crime. But it was useless. I turned
to the Indian and explained to him what the miner had said.
He felt it deeply, and tears stood in his eyes as I informed
him of how he had been prevented from seeing his parents
before they died. I sympathised with both these men, as
I realised how deeply my white friend had suffered, and I
could understand how anxious the Indian was to obtain
forgiveness from his fellow-man, having been led to seek
and find the Divine forgiveness. He had been baptized,
and enrolled as a member of the Church.
Several years afterwards, when at the olachan fishery
on the Nass River, a messenger came in breathless haste
to call me to see a man who had fainted on the ice. I
hastened to the spot and found it was this same Indian.
I felt the pulse and found no sign of life; he had died.
The intense cold had touched his heart. He had gone
where his plea for forgiveness would not have been forgotten.
Whilst thus engaged in evangelising amongst the tribes
on the coast and islands, I visited the fur-seal hunters
encamped on Zyass and Bonilla Islands and other points.
On both these islands, I had large and deeply interested
gatherings of Haidas, Giat-kahtla, and Tsimshean Indian
hunters, to whom I preached on the shore, with the waves
of the rising or falling tides rolling in on the beach, and
blending their music with our voices in the song of praise.
On one of these occasions, whilst passing from Bonilla
Island to Giatlaub, at the head of Gardiner's Channel, by
canoe, we were caught in Pitt Channel by a strong headwind, which compelled us to lie in shelter on the shore of
Banks Island for several days, until our supply of provisions
was well-nigh exhausted. Anxious to replenish our stock,
as we were on half rations, I called on one of my crew to
accompany me, and we started on a hunting trip to the
interior of the island. My crew had informed me that
there were no deer on the northern part of the island,
and certainly I began to believe their report, as we could
discern no traces of them. At length we reached a lake,
lying near the base of a high range of hills, and, being tired,
we sat down to rest on the trunk of a fallen tree. Pulling
a blade of grass, I placed it between my thumbs and blew
a few blasts. Hardly had I done so when my Indian
hunter uttered an exclamation and, with uplifted finger,
enjoined caution. He had heard a twig snap, away on the
side of ijae hill. We turned round to scan the vicinity,
and, as we did so, we sighted the white flank of a large
deer as it turned to flee. Instantly I took aim and fired,
and, with a cry of satisfaction, my companion sprang forward, whilst I took another course up the hill to where it
had fallen. Handing me his hat and coat, my Indian
hoisted the deer on his back and led 4the way to the shore.
But the load was too heavy, and I took it from him when
he showed signs of fatigue. And thus, turn and turn
about, we reached the shore. A whoop apprised our crew
of our success, and soon all were in the best of spirits,
where, only a few hours before, all were depressed and
Our evening service was bright and hearty that evening
around the camp fire, as all realised how ready Our Father
is to supply all our needs. After renewing our stock of
provisions, I embarked again, to pay a visit to the Giat-
laub Indians at the head of Gardiner's Channel. This
tribe, owing probably to its isolation, had suffered greatly
from repeated attacks by the Haidas in the past, their
object being to enslave all whom they could capture. One
of their number, a sub-chief named " Ka-daush," had
visited Metlakahtla more than once, and evinced an earnest desire to impart the good news he had received himself to his tribe. To assist him, we had provided him
with some large scriptural illustrations and texts, and a
C.M.S. banner which I had received from the Missionary
Leaves Association. He did what he could amongst his
fellow-tribesmen, and at least he awakened a more earnest
desire amongst them to know the way of God more perfectly. This desire we recognised by sending them a
native preacher—a Tsimshean—who had long proved his
faith and zeal by his life and conduct. After this man had
been there a little time, I paid him this visit to encourage
him and those whom he had been able to interest.
I found them encamped at the head-of their wonderful
channel, on a stream which flows into the head of the
inlet. They were engaged in the olachan fishing, for this
little fish is found there also, though in but small measure
as compared with the Nass River. They are not so rich
in grease, either, as those caught on the Nass.
I erected my tent near the camp and remained with
them for several days, during which I was enabled to supplement and strengthen the labours of our native teacher.
He had succeeded in making a translation from the Tsimshean of the grand old hymn " Rock of Ages," and it was
both pathetic and soul-stirring to hear them unite in singing it at a service held outside my tent. Not far from the
head of the inlet is the site of their old village, which was
destroyed by an avalanche some time previously. It swept
down upon the village at midnight before some of them
had fallen asleep. As the mountain is very lofty and the
avalanche started from the summit, they heard the ominous
roar as it increased in force and volume, and had only
time to arouse the camp. They seized what covering
came to hand and fled almost naked, just in time to save
their lives. The immense mass of rocks and debris which
the snow carried down completely buried the village, and
only the tops of some of the tall totems could be seen when
I visited them. Ka-daush was afterwards baptized, the
first-fruits of his tribe to Christianity. When the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society opened their Mission at
Kitamat we withdrew from Giatlaub, as it could more conveniently be worked in connection with the former, and the
language is similar.
The mountain scenery up the Gardiner's Channel is most
impressive. It is one of the longest inlets on the coast.
These fine watercourses so deep and wide, cutting in
through the mountain ranges, form one of the natural
wonders of the north-west coast. Cataracts shooting over
lofty cliffs here and there add to the grandeur of the scene.
We passed under one of these about half-way up the inlet,
and as we were all heated with paddling in the warm sunshine, we were glad of the cool spray which was blown over
us by the breeze.
Our old steersman, who was a Giat-kahtla, related many
thrilling adventures which he had in these waters when a
young man. In passing one rocky inlet he informed us that
this was formerly a stronghold of his tribe. On one occasion
they were attacked by a large fleet of the Stikeen Indians,
assisted by other Alaskan tribes. When apprised of their
approach, they all fled to this natural fort. There was but
one approach to the summit of the rock, and this was
-defended by sections of thick logs over four feet in diameter,
placed in position to roll down on any number of their
foes who might be bold enough to endeavour to rush the
position. On the occasion referred to a number of the
attacking party had been overwhelmed by one of these
great logs, which had been rolled down upon them.
Then, with stones and arrows hurled upon those within
range in their canoes, they were enabled to defend their
position and repel the attack. That night, when our little
camp was all quiet and we were stretched to rest, I was
aroused by the war-whoop. In an instant we were all on
our feet; it was from our steersman, who was evidently
fighting the old battles over again. We woke him up as
he continued to shout at intervals. " Oh! " he exclaimed,
" I have had such a bad dream. We were attacked by the
Haidas, and I could not find my gun whilst they were
almost upon us." I reminded him that the troubled days
of the past had gone and the Prince of Peace had established peace for them both with Himself and towards
their fellow-men, and in the consciousness of this blessed
peace our camp was soon quiet again. CHAPTER IV
" Wash tj_e war paint from your faces,
Wash the hlood stains from your fingers,
Bury your war clubs and your weapons,
Break the red stone from this quarry,
Mould and make it into Peace Pipes,
Take the reeds that grow beside you,
Deck them with your brightest feathers,
Smoke the calumet together,
And as brothers live henceforward."
Longfellow (" Song of HiaWatha ").
f^^HE term " Nass" signifies the " Food Depot,"
whilst Nishka, properly " Nass-ka," indicates the
" People of the Nass," or literally " Nass people."
Strange to state, these terms, by which the Indian tribes of
this river are known and by which they now even designate
themselves, do not belong to their language but are derived from the Tlingit tongue. The early navigators, both
Vancouver and Meares, anchored near to the Tongas, an
encampment of the Tlingit Indians of south-eastern Alaska.
From this point they despatched boats up the Nass Straits,
marked on some maps as " Observatory Inlet," and on
proceeding some distance up the river from its mouth they
found themselves among the sand-bars formed by the river,
from which point they returned without reaching the
lower villages situated about twenty miles from the mouth.
They were then compelled to accept the information given
them by these Tlingit Indians by which the tribes on the
river, as also the river itself, became known. In their own
language, which is a dialect of the Tsimshean and has no
affinity whatever with the Tlingit, they are known as the
Giatkadeen, or the " People of all the Valley," meaning
the lower valley through which the river flows; whereas
the tribes on the upper river are known as the Giatwinik-
shilk and the Giatlakdamiksh, the " People of the Lizards "
and the " People of the Pool." But if the Nass River is
attractive because of its scenery, it is much more so on
account of its productiveness.
For centuries the olachan fishing on the tidal waters of
the river has attracted the Indians!of the tribes from all
quarters. From the interior, hundreds of miles distant,
by the trail the Indians thronged thither carrying their
effects on sleighs drawn by their dogs or by themselves,
as they generally started early in the year while the snow
was deep to reach the river in time for the fish, which
usually arrive about the middle of the month of March.
They brought with them also furs, the proceeds of their
hunting expeditions, with which to pay the tribes resident on
the river for the right to fish, and also for the use of their
nets and for shelter in their fishing lodges during the
These furs were principally marmot and rabbit skins,
generally sewn together to form rugs for bedcovers or robes.
Martin, mink, and bear skins were also tendered and
accepted. But not infrequently when pressed by famine,
which was not unusual amongst the inland tribes, they
handed over their young children in barter for food. These
were in turn passed to the Haidas as part payment for
their canoes, which were so necessary to the Indians in their
hunting and fishing. I found a number of these enslaved
amongst the Haidas, who had been sold in exchange for
food when young. They had grown up in slavery, and
knew nothing of their own people or of their own tongue.
Under the teachings of Christianity the Haidas granted
them their freedom. Some of them returned to their own
people, but the majority preferred to remain where they
had been brought up under the improved conditions. One
fine young fellow, who had been thus sold as an infant, I
succeeded in restoring to his mother and sisters in a Kitik-
shean camp in the interior. But they only gazed at him,
and then his old mother exclaimed, " Naht 1 naht! naht!"
bowing her head with each exclamation. They had nothing .
in common, and the knowledge that they had sold him did
not tend to endear them to one another, so he soon deserted
them again.
Before the coming of the white men if a delay occurred
in the arrival of the fish in the river many of the Indians,
especially of the older and weaker, died from scarcity of
food. The coast Indians also from far up in Alaska and
from the south came in large fleets of canoes to catch the
olachan or to barter for the oil which is extracted from it,
and upon which its chief value to the Indians belongs.
For just as the Eskimo must have their whale blubber and
seal oil, so these Indians find a suitable substitute in the
olachan grease. Their dried salmon and halibut are eaten
with this grease. The herring spawn and seaweed when
boiled are mixed with a portion; and even the berries,
crab-apples, and cranberries are mixed freely with the
olachan grease when cooked and stored away for winter use.
The olachan, because of its richness in oil, was formerly
known as the " candle fish," as when partly dried the
Indians used it as a torch by night. As already stated, the
first shoal of fish arrive about the middle of March. I
have witnessed them followed into the mouth of the river
by hundreds of seals, porpoises, sea-lions, and fin-back
whales, feasting both on the olachans and upon one another.
So eager were they in the pursuit that the largest mammals
almost grounded in the shallows, and when they discovered
their position they struggled, fought, and bellowed in
such a manner that they might have been heard for
over two miles distant. None of our hunters would
venture out in their canoes to attack them, so fierce was
the fray.
The question has repeatedly been discussed by the Indians
and others, how any of the fish survive to reach the spawning grounds, when their enemies are so numerous. The
explanation is, we believe, that the shoals are not formed
in the open ocean but rather in the mouths of the rivers,
to which the fish make their way as the season approaches.
Here they appear to swim around for a day or two till the
shoal is formed, when they move onward to the spawning
grounds. Prior to the arrival of the fish the river is a
scene of desolation, especially if still frozen over. Not a
sign of life can be seen, from the river to the mountain
tops, but a continuous covering of snow. But with the
arrival of the fish the scene changes. First there are the
Indians in their boats or canoes, or with their dogs, hauling
their sleighs along the ice to their various camps. Then
the sea-gulls begin to arrive, first in flights of hundreds or
more, but soon to increase to thousands and myriads, until
they appear as snowflakes filling the air. They are usually
accompanied by numbers of the white-headed eagle, which
wings a higher flight, and circles round and round whilst
the sea-gulls feast.
The Indians prefer to fish on the ice, as it is so much
easier, and because they can use their dogs and sleighs to
advantage. Each party or household proceeds to saw openings in the ice, which is usually from two to four feet in
thickness. Two openings are necessary for each net, one
about twenty feet in length by about one foot in breadth,
through which the net is let down. This opening has a
pole driven down at either end on which the mouth of the
net is hung by rings made from withes of red cedar. These
rings are pushed down by another pole with a crook on the
end until the net rests on the bottom, when the mouth is
kept open by a fixture for this purpose. As the net is
long and purse-shaped, narrowing from the mouth, another
opening is made in the ice at right angles from the first,
about four feet by eight. Through this the narrow end
of the net is hauled up with a stick shaped for this purpose,
and as the smaller end of the purse of the net is open, but
tied when let down, when drawn up the end is untied, and
the fish thrown out on the ice or into the boat or canoe as
the conditions may be. Should the ice have broken up and
cleared out before the fishing opens, then all the work is
done in their boats and canoes. Sometimes the fishermen
are much troubled with drift ice, which comes down the
river in great sheets, often carrying off their fishing-gear
before they can ship it in their boats. Much of the fishing
is done at night, as they must put down their nets with every
falling tide; then hundreds of lanterns are seen flitting and
flashing to and fro, which with the shouting and hammering
produces quite a busy scene. During the day men and
women and even the children are engaged with dogs and
sleighs conveying the fish to the shore, where they are heaped
up in square or oblong bins three or four feet in depth.
Each household will thus have from five to ten tons of fish,
and more, from which to extract the oil or grease after they
have salted sufficient for future use, and also a quantity to
be sun-dried or smoked. Formerly the grease was extracted
from the fish by stones made red hot in large fires. These
heated stones were cast into large boxes filled with fish and
water, and the process was repeated until the grease floated
freely on the surface, when it was skimmed off into chests
made of red cedar. Now, however, the fish is boiled in
large vats with sheet-iron bottoms. These are fixed on
small fireplaces built of stone and mud, and the grease
can be extracted with less labour and fuel and in a
shorter time.
If only the Indians would extract the grease by boiling
the fish while fresh, the grease would be as white and pure
as lard, but instead of doing this they permit the fish to
lie in the bins until they are putrid.    This causes the oil
to be rancid and discoloured, and unfit for wholesome food.
It is sold in this state on the coast at two and a half dollars
per tin of five gallons, but brings a much higher price in
the interior. If manufactured from the fish when fresh, it
would bring a higher figure.
Though the Indian fishermen land thousands of tons of
this fish, yet the sea-gulls catch and consume a greater
quantity. The Indians rather challenged this statement
when I made it, but I convinced them of the truth of it in
a practical manner. I called upon them to ascertain for
themselves about how many fish a sea-gull devoured in a
day. It was found that those sea-gulls which were shot at
noon had swallowed six fish on an average, consequently it
may be assumed that each bird would catch and consume
as many more in the afternoon of each day. This would
equal twelve fish on an average to each sea-gull, and on
weighing this number of fresh fish it was found that they
weighed just one pound. At this rate one hundred thousand
sea-gulls would consume the same number of pounds of fish,
or just fifty tons per day. This would equal fifteen hundred
tons in a month of thirty days as April, when the fishing is in full operation. And if the sea-gulls make
away with such a quantity, what shall we say of the
seals with their greater capacity and opportunity, being
in the same element ? When the fresh fish become scarce,
the Indians feast on both seals and sea-gulls, which are
then in good condition, though savouring a little of the
common dietary.
But this is not the only benefit derived by the Indian
fisherman from the sea-gulls. I was not a little surprised,
when I first encamped amongst them, to find many of them
possessed of comfortable feather-beds and pillows. These
I found were made from the feathers of the sea-gulls which
they had killed for food, and from which they thus reap a
double benefit. The sea-gulls move down to the ocean every
evening, returning in the early morning to their feasting
grounds. The Indians have a tradition that the birds
moved away to a distant mountain to boil the fish which
they had caught during the day, and to extract the grease.
For several hours before dark every evening a long unbroken
line, sometimes widening out to a quarter or even half a
mile, may be seen winging their flight seaward, and even
when too dark to discern them, they may still be heard
licalling and encouraging their companions in their seaward
flight. It was no doubt principally in reference to this
fishing that the Tlingit Indians named the river the Nass
or Food Depot. For in addition to the olachan the Nass
River abounds with salmon, several runs of different species
resorting to it annually for spawning.
It can scarcely be wondered at that this fishing was a
casus belli amongst the tribes during the past, when food
was scarce and might was right. The Alaskan tribes, the
Haidas, and the Tsimsheans all in turn fought to obtain
the control of the fishing. But the Nishkas, occupying as
they did the upper reaches of the river, were enabled to hold
it against all intruders, whilst permitting the Tsimsheans,
whom they recognised as their fellow-tribesmen, being of the
same language, to retain their own fishing-camp on the lower
waters of the river. The other tribes are content now to
barter with the Tsimsheans and Nishkas for the fish-grease
which they extract, and quite a market has been established
by the outside demand for this much-esteemed article of
food amongst the Indians of the north-west coast. The
olachan is found also in other rivers of the British Columbian coasts but inferior in quantity and quality to those
of the Nass.
In the history of mission work on the north-west coast
it was early found that a camp where such numbers of
Indians assembled offered special inducements and opportunities to the fisher of men. But the journeys to and from
the fishery were not without danger, especially when they
had to be made by canoes undermanned and overladen.
And as the Mission had no place of residence then at any
of the fishing encampments, the missionary had to rough it
by living and sleeping in the fishing lodges, which were rough
shelters constructed for the occasion of bark and split boards.
In these the smoke was blinding, blown as it was by the. wind
in all directions, and when at length the inmates were compelled to seek respite and fresh air, the intense cold with the
strong winds without, together with the dazzling whiteness of
the snow, proved so trying to the eyes that it resulted often
in a severe attack of ophthalmia. I found thus by experience
that it was owing to these conditions that so many of the
Indians were suffering from diseases of the eyes. Unable
sometimes to clear away the frozen snow and ice, we erected
our shelters on it, and in a day or two our fire had subsided two or three feet, leaving us seated around it on the
icy hearth above. In such conditions the Indian dogs were
to be envied, as they managed to find a cosy corner on a
level with the fire. On these occasions I have often taken
the precaution of folding up my bread and other provisions
in such wraps as I could spare, and place all under my
pillow, only to discover in the morning that they were
frozen so hard as to defy cutting or consumption. I could
but join with my Indian friends in their bursts of laughter
at my disappointment and discomfiture. But it was good
both for teacher and taught, as mutual trials excited mutual
sympathy. And with the aid of my medicine-chest I was
always enabled to alleviate their ailments, and was hailed
as welcome at every camp I visited.
Suffering from an attack of acute ophthalmia on one
occasion, I was glad to avail myself of an opportunity to
escape to our Mission at the mouth of the river to seek
relief. It was blowing a gale and the river was full of drift
ice, which rendered it dangerous for canoe travelling. But
the Indians with whom I was about to embark had received
a message informing them of the death of a friend, and
stating that his body awaited interment. The circum-
Engaged in stringing olachan fish on sticks for drying in the sun.
They are protected by a rough awning fiom the cold wind.
The background shows the River Nass—the head-quarters of
the olachan fishery.
Those m the tanks are waiting to have their oil extracted. Those on the racks are
drying in the sun. The olachan is sometimes known as the candle fish, on account
of its oily nature.  THE NASS FISHERY
stances appeared to warrant their adventure. With
shortened sail we flew over the waves, all on the look-out
for the ice, as we realised that to strike a block of ice when
travelling at such speed would smash our frail craft, which
was not even ribbed.
We had not proceeded many miles when we saw ahead
of us an immense ice-floe blocking up the entire passage,
which was several miles in width.    As the cold was intense
we shrunk from attempting to make the shore, which was
also blocked with drift ice.    All eyes were directed to
seeking out an opening in the ice-floe, and at length it was
resolved to try a point where the ice appeared to offer a
passage.    We pulled down our sail and every man grasped
his paddle.    We forced our way into the opening until we
found the ice was closing in upon us, forced by the strong
south-easter against the rising tide.    Gradually the ice
forced  our canoe upwards until it was almost capsized.
The ice was so broken up that no one could find a footing.
So excited and terrified were they, that one woman permitted her baby to lie unheeded in the bottom of the canoe.
When almost upset I inquired if they had an axe on board.
Fortunately they had.    I directed one of them to take it,
and, standing in the bow, to break all the ice around it as
small as possible.    As he did so, I directed the others to
push the canoe forward with all their strength.    Gradually
the canoe not only righted itself, but we were enabled to
make some progress, and after a long struggle we succeeded
in reaching open water on the sheltered side of the ice-floe.
Not a word had been spoken during the crisis, but now
every voice was heard in mutual congratulations.    But as
to my own feelings, physically, I seemed to have none.    In
my efforts I had forgotten my hands, which were completely numbed, and my fingers partly frost-bitten.     Instantly urged by the Indians, I plunged my hands into the
icy waters and then rubbed them with snow.    This process
restored circulation but the pain was intense.    It saved my
fingers, however, as I only lost the skin. The Indians of
the encampment to which we were bound denounced our
action in having embarked in such a gale, declaring that it
was a wonder that we had succeeded in effecting a landing.
A rest of some days restored my sight, and I was enabled
to return to my labours.
" Cross against corslet; Love against hatred,
Peace cry for war cry; Patience is powerful:
He that o'ercometh hath power o'er the nation."
Longfellow (" The Nan of Nidaros ").
IN one of my early visits up the Nass River, after a
service held in one of the large lodges at Gitwinik-
shilk, I took a walk around the camp. The
medicine men were carrying on their dark seances in a
lodge near, from which men with painted faces and bands
of cedar bark bound round their heads were passing in
and out. They were initiating some young braves into
the mysteries of their craft.
As I turned away from the scene, I was attracted by
the sight of a broken-down grave fence almost concealed
with the heavy undergrowth. As such a mode of burial
was not customary amongst the heathen Indians, I forced
my way through the bushes, and found the lonely grave
had been marked with a wooden slab cut in the form of
a tombstone. It was overgrown with moss and fungi.
This I scraped off, and found inscribed underneath the
name of the first convert to Christianity among the Nishkas.
This was the tomb of the young man mentioned by Mr.
Doolan in his journal, included in a preceding chapter, as
the son of a chief who had placed himself under instruction
with him, despite much opposition, and who, he hoped,
would have been baptized the following spring as the first-
fruits of the Nass for Christ. He was so baptized, and
proved faithful. But he caught cold, returning to his
own village, on the ice, in the early spring, and this
resulted in fever. During his illness the medicine men
persisted in performing their incantations over him, but
he protested against their action, and continued faithful
unto death. He had been baptized by the Christian
name of " Samuel," which was joined to his own Nishka
name of " Takomash." This was the name I was enabled
to decipher on the tomb: "Samuel Takomash, the first
convert to Christianity from the tribes of the Nass River."
The remainder of the inscription was illegible. As I
stood there by that tomb, I realised that the same blessed
power and influence which had won Takomash for Christ
and the truth, could also win these benighted Indians whom
I saw and heard so engrossed in their heathen practices
around me. And, with the Divine help, I inwardly determined to labour to this end.
Takomash's tomb has long since been lost to view, as a
fire (which occurred in 1895) swept that village out of
existence during my absence on a visit to England. Only
a few totem poles escaped to mark the site where the village had stood from the time of the lava eruption. But
Takomash was but the first-fruits of an abundant harvest
which should yet be reaped and garnered into the fold of
Christ. His brother was brought to the Mission station
several years afterwards in a dying condition, suffering
from typhoid fever.    His aged mother accompanied him.
After a hard struggle with the disease, we were rewarded
by his complete recovery. He was grateful for the care
bestowed upon him, and the lessons he had learned on his
sick-bed were not forgotten. Both he and his mother
were baptized, and afterwards several other relations. His
uncle, a hard-hearted heathen chief, refused to listen to
(the call of the gospel.    At the olachan fishery one day,
I succeeded in finding him alone, and got him in close
quarters on the bank of the bay.    We sat down on a
log together, and I put the question to him, " Agwelakah,
how much longer are you going to remain in heathenism ?
Your nephew was the first to become a Christian, and he
showed you the way.    Why don't you follow it ?"
" Oh, I am not a bad man," he replied. " Look at my
hands; they are not dyed in blood—as some men's hands
are. And I have Takomash's Bible in my box yet; I
did not destroy it."
" Ah !" I replied, " that will only condemn you—if you
have the Hght and do not walk in it, but hide it."
He continued to follow the old heathen customs until
one day, when away on a hunting expedition, he was seized
with a severe illness. Then, with the fear of death before
him, he sent a messenger with all speed to inform our
missionary, the Rev. J. B. M'Cullagh, that he was dying.
A relief party was despatched to bring him back, and then
it was that he surrendered. He recovered, but remained
faithful to his trust unto death* The message of his
nephew and his Bible was no longer a mere memory, but
became to him a bright beacon, guiding him on in the way
to the life eternal.
It was not so with another sub-chief of the same tribe.
His son had long been a Christian, and at length the father
decided to follow his son's example. Just then the sad
news reached him that his son had been drowned when
bathing in a distant river: he bad been seized with cramp,
and sank. When the old man heard the sad tidings, he
said: " I was long in the darkness, when at length I saw a
Hght. That hght was being held out to me by my son.
It became brighter and brighter so that it attracted me.
I arose and was moving towards it when suddenly it went
out, and now I have no Hght to guide me." I reminded
him of the True Light which would never be eclipsed or
extinguished. It had illuminated and attracted his son,
and would also enlighten him.
One of the first of the Nishka chiefs to embrace Chris-
tianity was Kinzadak. He is referred to in the extracts
given from the Rev. R. Doolan's journal in a preceding
chapter, as a chief who was " doing all in his power to
undermine the work." In this brief reference to Kinzadak
he was giving a whisky feast to which, with some of his
tribe, he was engaged in dragging along those who were unwilling to enter. I first met him in his house up the river,
when he entertained my brother missionary and myself.
He was then seeking after the light. He had been an
adventurer as a young man, and led an expedition as far
as the Takou Indians at the head of the inlet of this name
in Alaska. Whilst there the Takous, eager to impress
their guests with a sense of their wealth and power, bound
some fourteen of their slaves and, having procured a young
forked tree, placed it in position on the beach and then
laid the slaves, who were bound, with their necks on the
lower branch. The young men of the tribe then performed
the death dance around them, accompanied by the noise of
their drums and songs. Then, at a given signal, a number
of them sprang on the upper branch, bringing it down by
their united weight on the necks of the slaves, whose cries
and struggles were drowned by the chant and drums. This
was continued till their cries were hushed in death.
Shortly after, when all were engaged in a feast in front
of the camp, suddenly one of the slaves who had been
placed nearest to the extremity of the branch and had only
been rendered insensible for a time, started to his feet and,
uttering a wild whoop which awakened the echoes all around,
rushed off into the forest. For a few moments all were
paralysed with astonishment, as he appeared rather as a
spectre than a being of flesh and blood. Then, having
recovered from their surprise, the entire band of young
men who had acted as the executioners gave utterance to
one united whoop and rushed off in pursuit of the fugitive.
After a long chase a chorus of howls, resembling that of
a pack of wolves, announced his recapture. Soon they
emerged from the forest, and marching the unfortunate
captive to the place from which he had fled, he was again
laid on the branch, on which a number of them jumped
and quickly crushed out his life. As slaves were the most
valuable property possessed by the Indians, this was done
to convince those whom they were entertaining of their
Kinzadak and his men were indignant at the manner in
which they had been received, and on their return down the
jiilet they ransacked a village belonging to the Takous,
carrying off much booty. This became a casus belli between
the Takous and the Nishkas for a number of years, in
which they avoided meeting one another. But as soon as
l|_3_ristianity triumphed amongst the latter, they issued an
invitation to the Takous intimating their desire to restore
the property they had carried away. In response to this
invitation, the Takous sent their head chief, accompanied
by a number of the leading men of the tribe. They arrived
on the Nass in a large canoe, and a great amount of property was contributed and made over to them, and a
general peace made and confirmed.
The following is a true copy of the letter sent by the
Nishka chiefs to the chiefs of the Takou :
" Nass River,
British Columbia,
Aug. 19th, 1897.
I From the Nishka Chiefs to the Chiefs of the Takou Tribes.
1 Our Friends, Taktotem, Gatlani, Yaktahuk,
Neishloosh, and Anetlash.
« We, the Chiefs of the Nishka tribes Hving here on this
river, desire to make friendship with you our friends.
Many snows and suns have passed since the quarrel which
took place between us and you. We are anxious to make
it up now and to be friends. We are no longer in the
darkness as our fathers were, but the light has come and
we desire to make peace. We want to see your faces, and .
grasp your hands. We want to spread our food before you
that we may all eat together. We wish to scatter the
swansdown over you, the sign of peace, and to make your
hearts glad. We desire to return the property which was
taken from you at that time. The eyes of many who were
engaged in that quarrel have long been closed. We want
you to come next spring time, when the ice has broken up
on the rivers and the snow is melting on the mountains.
We wiU welcome you; we are your Friends.
(Signed)       " Chief Kagwatlane.
„    Albut Gwaksho.
„    George Kinzadak.
„    Paul Klaitak.
„    A. W. Mountain."
To this overture of peace the Takous responded by
sending a deputation headed by Anetlas, a fine-looking and
inteUigent chief. He and his retinue were well received
and honoured at every encampment on the lower river.
The swansdown was duly and freely scattered over them in
the dance of peace, and they were feasted and feted, as
long as they remained. Anetlas wore a large medal on his
breast, presented him by the first Governor of Alaska.
- On his departure a letter, of which the following is a copy,
was sent by him to his brother chiefs and their people.
" From the Nishka Chiefs and People,
" To their friends, the Chiefs and people of Takou.
" We are glad that Anetlas has come. We welcome him
as your Chief and representative. He came to us as the
messenger of peace. We have long been anxious to make
peace, because we have changed from the old ways. We
have put away the spear and the gun and we have scattered
the swansdown. We desire to walk in the way of the Great
Spirit. That way is the way of peace. The Great Spirit
is our Father and your Father. We are all brothers,
because we are all his children. And therefore we wish to
love aU our brethren. And now we open the way to our
river to you. We will always welcome you our friends,
when you come, and you have opened the way that we may
visit you. Anetlas came in time to hear Kinzadak's last
words. He came in time to grasp Kinzadak's hand.
Kinzadak gave Anetlas his word of peace for you. We all
join our words to his. We send you an offering of peace.
We have written a list for you of the property we are
sending you. Anetlas, your Chief and our brother, accepts
our gifts for himself, and for you. They are as the blossoms on the tree of peace. The fruits will follow to us
and to you. We invite you our brothers, to gather the
fruits of peace with us, and we send you our united greeting.
(Signed)       " Albert Gwaksho, Chief,
F. A. Tkakquokaksh, Chief.
Kagwatlane, Chief.
Klaitak, Chief.
Allu-ligoyaws, Chief."
It was true as stated in their letter. Kinzadak just
lived to assist in ratifying the treaty of peace. On the eve
of Whitsunday, he sent for me and intimated his earnest
desire for the administration to him of the Holy Communion. I informed him that there would be an administration of the Sacrament on the following morning, being
Whitsunday, and that I should administer it to him also
after the service.
" I am tired," he replied, " I desire to arise and go to
my Father in heaven; I shall not be here to-morrow. I
desire to partake of the Sign now,"
Accordingly, I invited a faithful old Christian, a veteran
in Christ's Army, to be present, and his own family, and
we had a solemn and joyful service. A Nishka hymn was
sung. He shook me warmly by the hand and wished me
" Good night." The foUowing morning, after a quiet night,
just as the sun was gilding all the snow-capped mountain-
tops around with his golden beams, the old chief turned
over on his side and, breathing a silent prayer, he feU asleep.
Thus, on the morn of the birthday of the Church,1 Kinzadak
entered into the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
First, we see him as a heathen chief, in his paint and
feathers, urging his people to his whisky feast, and opposing
the efforts of the missionary. Next, we see him on the
war-path, and then we see him as a peacemaker, sending a
message of peace to Takou. And then, as his end on earth
drew near, earnestly begging to be permitted to obey the
Saviour's great command, " Do this in remembrance of Me."
Kinzadak's great carved totem pole still stands at Ankida,
where it was erected by him and his tribe after he succeeded
to the chieftainship.
A great potlatch was made on that occasion, to which
all the Indian chiefs and people of the other crests were
invited. It was in order to draw away the early converts
from the vicinity of these liquor feasts and heathen practices,
that the headquarters of the Mission was moved to Kincolith,
twenty miles further down, and just at the mouth of the
Nass. There were other advantages gained by this move.
The present station is never frozen in during the winter,
being situate on tidal water, whilst in the summer it is
free from mosquitoes; whereas all the viUages where the
Mission was first established are frozen in for at least five
months every winter, and in the summer the mosquitoes are
in myriads, making life a misery. Shortly after the movement of the Mission to Kincolith, at a great carousal held
at Ankida, the site vacated, a quarrel arose between the
Nishkas and the Tsimsheans in which a number on both
sides were shot.    The Christian Indians did not wholly
1 Whitsunday.
escape. It was during the spring olachan fishing, and a
canoe manned by adherents of the Mission, three men and
a boy, had gone down the river, and, during their absence,
the quarrel had arisen. A Tsimshean canoe had gone out
intent on retaHation, and met this canoe of Nishkas returning to the fishery, all unconscious of what had occurred.
They passed them within speaking distance in order to
reconnoitre, and, as they passed them, inquired, " Did you
see a whisky schooner down the coast ?" They replied in
the negative and continued on their way.
But just after they had passed them, some thirty or forty
yards? the Tsimsheans fired a voUey into them, killing two
and wounding the steersman. The latter, though wounded,
directed the boy, who was his nephew, to hide under his
legs in the stern of the canoe.
" As I lay there," said he, when relating the account to
me, " I could hear my uncle's blood gurgling out from his
wounds. A second volley killed him outright, and splintered the canoe close to me." The murdering party then
approached and, taking the canoe in tow, paddled for the
shore. Beaching the canoe, they proceeded to pull the
bodies out of it, and, dragging them ashore, left them
amongst the trees.
" Whilst thus engaged, one of them discovered me," said
the lad, « and held me up before the others."
" Hold him up while I shoot him," shouted the leader, as
he stood with his gun presented at the bow of the canoe.
The man who held him was endeavouring to do so, when
a third intervened.
« Hold on," he cried, " till I ask him a question. What
is your uncle's name ?" he inquired. The boy replied,
giving him the name of his father's brother.
" I thought so," he replied.   Then, seizing him, he cried
to  the others, " You must not shoot him, he  belongs
to my crest; whoever shoots him must shoot me first."
The others were angry, urging that he should be shot, as,
if not, he would inform on them. But his defender persisted
in his defence. He was conveyed to the Tsimshean camp.
The following day it was decided to send the lad up to his
friends by a neutral canoe owned by a Tongas Indian who
was married to a Tsimshean woman. But the Tsimsheans
had secretly instructed this man to do away with the boy
on the way up the river. Accordingly, this man embarked
with his wife, taking the lad with them. When sufficiently
away from the camp, he informed his wife of the engagement
he had made to kill the boy, and called upon her to sit clear
of him so that he might shoot him. Instead of doing so,
she seized the lad, and protecting him with her own body,
declared that before she would permit him to injure the lad,
he must first shoot her. Seeing his wife so determined, and
fearing to persist further, he desisted, and so the lad was
safely landed at the Nishka camp. Thus, twice he had narrowly escaped death, but on both occasions a protector had
arisen, when least expected. He was spared to grow up, and
married a young woman who had been trained in the Missioifcc
house. He is an active and leading member of the local
branch of the Church Army, and a regular communicant.
The bodies of the men thus murdered were recovered by a
party from the Mission, and were interred on a rocky bluff
just below the Mission station.
When the Tsimsheans at Fort Simpson heard of the
quarrel, a party of them at once started on the war-path
for the Nass, fully armed for the fray. They boldly touched
at the Mission station on their way up, probably to learn,
if possible, how the war was proceeding. The Rev. R.
Tomlinson, who was then in charge, having first directed
his people, the adherents of the Mission, to remain in their
houses, walked down to the canoes, and, having ascertained
their intention, informed them of the attack on the members of the Mission, and called upon them to surrender their
guns, or prepare to bear the penalty. They were so taken
by surprise that they permitted their weapons to be seized,
and consented to return again to their camp. They probably surmised that the missionary had a party prepared to
support his demand, and the news of the death of the three
men, which they feared might be charged on them, decided
their action.
It was deemed necessary by the Government to send up
a vessel of war, H.M.S. Sparfowhawk, with Governor Seymour on board, in order to make peace between the contending tribes and settle the dispute. It was on the return
voyage of the Sparrowhawk that Governor Seymour died
suddenly on board, his last official act being to ratify and
confirm the peace thus made between the warring tribesmen.
In 1877, the Canadian Methodist Missionary Society
established a Mission on the Nass near to the village where
the Rev. R. A. Doolan had commenced the Church Missionary Society's Mission thirteen years previously. It would
have been more in accord with the true spirit of Mission
work had they occupied the upper river, where but little
had yet been done. Here, there were two large villages,
the Giatwinikshilk and the Giatlakdamiksh, both of which
were eager to have a Mission established amongst them. A
native teacher had been stationed at the upper village, which
was the most populous of the two, and frequent visits had
been made by our missionaries. In the Mission hospital
at Kincolith, the Rev. R. Tomlinson, as a medical missionary, had treated several of this tribe, including an aged
chief. Consequently, they always welcomed his visits and
mine. Acting on the same principle as had been adopted
in the establishment both of Metlakahtla and Kincohth,
Mr. Tomlinson first inaugurated the Christian viUage of
Aiyansh, less than two miles below the heathen encampment,
and encouraged the first converts who came out of heathenism to establish themselves there. After Mr. TomHnson's
departure in 1878, to open the Mission in the interior, as
the work on the river was under my superintendence, I
visited the upper villages, and conducted services in the
head chief's house at Giatlakdamiksh occasionally, and also
at Giatwinikshilk and Aiyansh.
To the little community gathered out of heathenism at
the latter place, I gave a Church Missionary Society's banner,
of which they were proud, and also a supply of school-books,
and material for the native teacher stationed there. On
my first visit I preached to them, assembled in the house
of the first convert, from St. Luke xii. 32. They had not
heard this message previously, and I have not forgotten the
joy and satisfaction with which they received the Word. It
proved specially appropriate, as they had just been experiencing much petty persecution from their heathen friends
because of their separation from them. But deliverance
and advancement were at hand.
In 1883, Mr. J. B. and Mrs. M'Cullagh arrived to take
charge of the Upper Nass Mission. Mr. M'Cullagh established his headquarters at Aiyansh, and at once applied
himself to acquire the language. Whilst thus engaged he
formed his plans for the prosecution of the work of the
Mission, and was soon labouring to evangelize and civilize
the heathen tribes around. But he was not long in finding
out the difficulties which beset his efforts, for the Upper
Nass had always been a stronghold of heathenism. By
persevering effort, he succeeded in winning their confidence.
His labours have been rewarded with much success, as the
model Mission settlement at Aiyansh indicates. Here he has
built up a congregation of between two and three hundred
Christians, drawn not only from the encampments in the
vicinity, but also from the Giat-winlkol tribe away in the
And now all the Indians on the Upper Nass have surrendered to the caU of the Gospel, and the villages which
were heathen on his arrival are aU now Christian. By his
translational work, the Rev. J. B. M'Cullagh has done much
to enlarge and inform the minds of his Indian converts,
many of whom can both read and write in their own tongue.
But the great ambition of all the tribes is to know the
English language; the Chinook jargon, which was formerly
their only medium of inter-communication, is falling into
disuse, whilst English is being freely used, both orally and
by letter. They realise that a knowledge of English will
open up to them a boundless field of information, both
sacred and secular, and will also tend to unite them yet
closer as Christians.
87 1
" The last link in the golden chain."
WHILST thus engaged in acquiring the language of
the Tsimsheans and afterwards in itinerating
and evangelising amongst them, I became deeply
interested in the Haida tribes which inhabit the Queen
Charlotte Islands and also the Prince of Wales Island on
the south-eastern coast of Alaska. This interest was intensified by the stories related to me by the Tsimsheans, who
manned my canoe in my journeys along the coast, of the
depredations and deeds of blood wrought by these fierce
islanders at the various encampments which we visited, and
up the rivers and inlets of the mainland in the past. It
reminded me of the records of the deeds of the Vikings and
sea rovers in Northern Europe before the light of the Sun
of righteousness had arisen upon them. So fearful were
those Indians who accompanied me, that they often hastened
to reduce the camp fire when darkness set in, lest it might
attract an attacking party towards our camp during the
night. In addition to this, Admiral Prevost had informed
me that when as captain of H.M.S. Satellite he made his
first voyage up the coast, he was surprised on landing at
Fort Rupert, to the north of Vancouver Island, to see the
heads and decapitated bodies of Indians scattered along the
shore in front of the camp, and being washed up by the
waves of the rising tide. On inquiry he was informed
Finishing touches being put to the bow of a large canoe,
for the purpose. These canoes were carved from a singi
called dug-outs.
which is turned upside down
i cedar trunk and hence are
This house possesses no totems, but is ornamented with figures and surmounted by a
shield. Strips of halibut may be seen drying on the rack outside. Behind it stands
the forest.  THE HAIDAS
that a fleet of Haidas on their way south had attacked the
camp and, having slain those who resisted, had carried off
a number of captives to enslave them.
But even this was not the limit of the courage and
ambition of these adventurers. On another occasion they
threatened to attack Victoria, and Sir James Douglas, who
was then Governor of the Colony, had to order the marines
around from the vessel of war lying at Esquimault, in order
to drive them back to their camp outside the city limits
and thus preserve the peace. When Fort Simpson was
established by the Hudson Bay Company in 1834, the Tsim*
shean tribes, attracted by the advantages afforded for
trading there, removed from their old encampments at
Metlakahtla and on the Skeena River and established themselves around the fort. To this point also the Haidas
come every year to exchange their furs, principally the
sea-otter and fur-seal skins, for guns, ammunition* and
blankets. But few such visits passed off without a fight,
as the Tsimsheans were jealous to see the Haidas possessing
themselves of the white man's weapons, and they regarded
them as intruders. They were able to open fire on the
Haidas from the shelter of their lodges, whereas the Haidas
were exposed in launching and embarking in their canoes.
Nothing daunted, however, they returned the firing with
effect, and were enabled to embark with their cargoes and
push off to sea, only to return in greater force when least
expected, to take summary revenge on their foes.
In the month of June 1874, for the first time, I witnessed a
Haida fleet approaching the shores of the mainland from the
ocean, and it left an impression on my mind not yet effaced.
It consisted of some forty large canoes, each with two snow-
white sails spread, one on either side of each canoe, which
caused them to appear like immense birds or butterflies,
with white wings outspread, flying shorewards. Before a
. fresh westerly breeze they glided swiftly onward over the
rolling waves, which appeared to chase each other in sport
as they reflected the gleams of the summer's sun. These
were the northern Haidas, who were famed for their fine
war canoes. They have always been the canoe builders of
the northern coast. As they neared the shore the sails
were furled, and as soon as the canoes touched the beach
the young men sprang out, and amid a babel of voices
hastened to carry up their freight and effects above the
high-water mark. These then were the fierce Haidas
whose name had been the terror of aU the surrounding
tribes. And truly their appearance tended to justify the
report. Many of the men were of fine physique, being six
feet in stature; whilst those whose faces were not painted
were much fairer in complexion than the Indians of the
mainland. Some of their women wore nose-rings, and not
a few of them were adorned also with anklets, whilst all
the. women wore silver bracelets, those of rank having
several pairs, all carved with the peculiar devices of their
respective crests. In their language there was no similarity
whatever to the Tsimshean, with which I was now familiar,
and which sounded softer and more musical than the
Amongst the women I found one, a half-breed, whose
mother was a Tsimshean and the sister of a chief then
resident at Fort Simpson. This woman was the wife of a
fine young Haida chief named Seegay, and as she understood both the Tsimshean and Haida tongues, I was enabled
through her to open conversation with her husband. For
this purpose I invited them frequently to the Mission-house.
After several such visits I was enabled to inspire them with
confidence, and to draw them out of the reserve so characteristic of the Indian.
I found Seegay's wife as ignorant as he was himself of
the simplest truths of the Gospel, as whilst her tribe and
people had, many of them, been led to embrace Christianity,
she had remained in the darkness of heathenism through
her union with the Haidas. It may appear strange that
such a union could be possible between the members of
kibes so hostile to each other. But for some reason the
Tsimshean chief, who was this woman's uncle, had always
remained neutral in the conflicts between the Haidas and
: JjMmsheans, and from this position he had more than once
been enabled to make peace between them.
The following year (1875) this Haida fleet again visited
the mainland, as also several other lesser fleets of Haidas
from Skidegate and the encampments to the south of the
Queen Charlotte Islands. As Seegay and his wife accompanied them, I was enabled to renew my acquaintance with
them, and again endeavoured to teach them the way of Life
and Salvation. On this occasion, as Seegay's mind opened
to the importance of the truth, he inquired why we had
taken no step to send some one to teach his feUow-tribes-
men, the Haidas, as we had done for the Tsimsheans ? I
realised the force of this inquiry, but the Haidas were not
the only tribes then « unvisited, unblest." All along the
coast, north and south, and up the rivers, the tribes were in
darkness. Only amongst the Tsimsheans and Nishkas had
our missions been established.
The Canadian Methodist Missionary Society had made
the mistake of opening their first Mission on the northwest coast in 1874 amongst the Tsimsheans instead of
pushing out into the regions beyond. Thus there were
two missionary societies labouring among the Indians of
one language, whilst those of four other different languages
were without a missionary. They defended their action by
asserting that the Church Missionary Society's missionary
had abandoned Fort Simpson when he removed the headquarters of the Mission to Metlakahtla in 1862. But though
he had thus removed the Mission, he had not abandoned
the Indians at Fort Simpson, but kept up regular services
there by the native evangeHsts, his object being to draw
the Indians from the heathen camp and estabHsh them as
Christians in the new camp, away from heathen influences,
and under improved sanitary laws and rules of civilisation*
Shortly after my arrival in the Mission, and when I had
paid several visits to Fort Simpson, I concluded that it
would be impossible to draw all the Indians from that
encampment, and therefore proposed that I should take up
my residence there. To this our fellow-missionary strongly
objected, asserting that I would thus frustrate his object,
and prevent the Indians from joining the new station, where
he was erecting a church capable of accommodating twelve
hundred worshippers.
The following year (1874) the Methodist Mission was
established there, and I at once determined to endeavour
to "launch out into the deep" of the darkness around. It
was just at this crisis that the call of the Haidas of Queen
Charlotte Islands came to me through the question of this
young chief, Seegay. I had been commissioned by the
committee of the Church Missionary Society to take spiritual charge of the Metlakahtla Mission so soon as I had
acquired a knowledge of the language, as Mr. Duncan had
intimated his intention to leave the work there in my care,
and to proceed to the islands or Fort Rupert to open a
new Mission.
Now, however, that I had overcome the difficulties of
the language, my colleague intimated his inability to leave;
consequently the way was open. I wrote to the committee,
strongly advocating the claims of the Haidas, and requesting permission to proceed to the islands.
At first the committee hesitated, as they feared the
time I had spent in acquiring the Tsimshean language
would be lost, but th-ey shortly after approved of the
proposal, and commended my action. I received a most
encouraging letter from the Hon. Secretary, the late Rev.
Henry Wright, which removed every obstacle. Shortly
afterwards the Haida fleet arrived again on the shores
of the mainland, but my friend was not amongst them.
I received, however, an urgent message from him, inform- QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS
ing me that he was very ill, and was most anxious to
see me. He had been capsized from his canoe, with
several of his tribe, in a sudden squall off the Rose Spit,
a most dangerous point to the north-east of the Queen
Charlotte Islands. He had been too long in the cold
waters before being rescued, and chill had resulted in
fever, foUowed by consumption. His name " Seegay" is
the Haida term for "the ocean," And truly he was a
son of the sea. He had no fear of its storms or waves,
and was one of the most adventurous hunters among the
Haidas. In search of the sea-otter or of the fur-seal,
he would sail off to the west, until the land was lost to
sight, and there with his two companions, when overtaken
by night, would fall asleep in his canoe, " rocked in the
cradle of the deep," then away again with the first gleam
of daylight, to renew the quest. Nor would he steer his
canoe homewards until he had secured a goodly number
of valuable skins to reward his efforts.
He had early been inured to the dangers of the ocean.
When but a lad, he was returning on one occasion with
his uncle, the old chief Weah, in a large canoe from the
Alaskan coast to the shores of the Queen Charlotte Islands
with a number of others. The wind was fair, with a
rough sea. With two sails well filled they sped onwards,
and, lulled by the motion and the music of the waves, one
after another gave way to slumber. Even the old chief
slumbered at the helm. Seegay was the only one on the
watch. As the canoe, which was well laden, rose and fell
with the waves, suddenly falling from a high wave into
the trough of the sea, she split from stem to stern, and all
were precipitated into the deep. They soon all disappeared
except young Seegay, who seized an empty gun box, to
which he clung with one hand, whilst with the other he
seized the old chief as he rose to the surface, and upheld
him there. Another canoe, which was making the same
passage and following in their wake, and had witnessed
the sudden disappearance of the sails, bore down quickly
on the spot, just in time to rescue the lad and his uncle.
The shock and exposure proved too much for the old
chief, and he died before they reached the shore.
Seegay alone survived. He passed through many similar
experiences afterwards, but this last exposure had proved
too much for him. It occurred early in the season whilst
the waters were intensely cold, and he with those wrecked
with him were unable to stand when they reached the
shore, and with difficulty dragged themselves up the beach,
to escape from the rising tide. His wife had also sent me
an earnest entreaty to come and see him, as she believed
he would not live much longer. Though unprepared,
and unable as yet to enter upon the work for which I had
thus volunteered, I could not set aside this appeal. It
sounded as the cry of old, " Come over and help us."
On Tuesday, 6th June 1876, I embarked in a Haida-
built canoe, with a Tsimshean crew, to make my first
journey of some 100 miles to Massett, the principal Haida
encampment, situate on the north of Graham Island,
which is the most northerly of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
My steersman was an old fur-seal hunter, inured to the
dangers of the ocean, my bowman a young hunter, the
son-in-law of the former, and a skilful canoe sailor, whilst
the remainder were lads of some eighteen years, well
trained in the use of the paddle, but unaccustomed to the
open ocean.
We reached the outermost island off the coast of the
mainland on the evening of the first day, and found there
a number of fur-seal hunters encamped. They had been
unable to put out to sea on the morning of that day, the
wind being unfavourable. They were glad to see us, and
I conducted a service for them and my crew in the evening.
They had shot but few seals, owing to the bad weather.
The fur-seal is generally found in schools or shoals, in the
months of May and June, in the open waters at a distance
from the land. The hunters, when the sea is not too rough,
hoist sail and glide over the ocean, often sleeping in their
canoes; until at length they fall in with the object of their
Search, which in such cases are generally found sleeping
on the water.
There are usually three Indians to each canoe, the steersman, the sailsman, and the marksman, which last is seated
towards the bow. For this post the best shot is always
selected. It is no easy task to shoot the seal when the
sea is rough, as both the hunter and his object are being
tossed up and down, now on the crest of the wave, and
the next moment in the trough of the sea. It requires
a steady nerve and good sight, with judgment, to fire
in*_tantly when the seal rises to the point of vantage. But
in order to make sure of their aim, the hunters were in
the habit of ramming a heavy charge into their guns. Four
or five bullets were commonly used with a proportionate
charge of powder to ensure success. These guns were
the old long-barrelled Hudson Bay Company's flint-locks,
which took the place of the bow and arrow, the spear and
the harpoon, the Indian's original weapons. A few years
afterwards the flint-locks were displaced by a similar
weapon, but with the percussion cap. This also has long
since disappeared, and now every Indian hunter is armed
with the modern repeating-rifle.
It may be considered advantageous to the Indian hunter
to be thus armed, but they assert that they were far more
successful in the past when armed with bow and spear.
But then the channels and inlets abounded wi h the sea-
otter and the fur-seal, whereas now they are'-only to be
found far from the shores in the open ocean, a nd in very
limited numbers. In the narrative of Captain Meares'
voyage along the coast in 1788 and 1789, it is recorded
that the sea-otter were plentiful, and were purchased from
the Indians- along the coast in lots of from tw enty to forty
skins for a few beads or a few scraps of iron, or large nails.
From that time onward there has been such a demand for
them, that it may be concluded the Indian hunters have
weU-nigh annihilated them. My old Snider rifle, which I
generally carried with me in my early canoe journeys, and
which often provided myself and crew with provisions,
when otherwise we might have suffered from want, was quite
an object of attraction to those Indian hunters. After a
careful examination of the weapon, accompanied by many
questions, at length the leading marksman cast it aside,
exclaiming that he believed it was worthless, and would
not bear comparison with their weapons. This man Was
named " Nugwats Kippow," or the " Father of the Wolf,"
and being a daring and successful hunter both on sea and
on land, his opinions carried great weight with the others.
Shortly after I had conducted morning prayer with
them and my crew, they went out to practise with their
guns. For this purpose they affixed a white clam shell as
a target on a tree at a distance of some 150 yards. After
each of them had tried his skiU and the shell remained
untouched, they sighted me standing at some distance, and
at once challenged me to a trial with my gun. I accepted
the opportunity to justify my weapon, which had been so
unjustly condemned, and, taking careful aim, shattered the
clam-shell target at the first effort. They looked at one
another, and the " Father of the Wolf" exclaimed, " Well,
the chief evidently knows his own gun," and, casting his
own from him on the sand, retreated slowly into the
hunting lodge. Trivial though this incident was, yet it
gained for me an influence with these Indian hunters which
I was enabled to turn to good effect afterwards. The
"Father of the Wolf" became one of my most faithful
friends, and died some years afterwards, rejoicing to the
end in the faith of the Gospel. The report of my skill as
a marksman spread to another camp, on an adjacent island,
and in the evening I had all the hunters present at the
service which I conducted in the open air, whilst the waves
of the rising tide, breaking in foam and spray on the rocks
around, made wild music which blended with our songs
of praise.
It might be supposed from reading the first page of
chapter xix. of Mr. Crosby's book that the Haidas had
made application to the Church Missionary Society for
a missionary, but instead they were strongly opposed to receiving any missionary. Without waiting for any invitation
I visited Massett in June 1876, to see Seegay, who was dying.
My experiences then are recorded in the following chapter.
On the 1st November with my wife and family we took up
our residence at Massett. The following year I visited
Skidegate and Gold Harbour, and conducted the first services there. We then placed a native teacher at Skidegate,
Edward Mathers, who remained and conducted services
until the Methodist Missionary Society sent a white
teacher. Gedanst (Amos Russ) came to Massett in 1877,
and took to wife Agnes, the youthful widow of Chief
Steilta, who had just died.
" Though the shore we hope to land on
Only by report is known,
Yet we freely all abandon
Led by that report alone,
And with Jesus
Through the trackless deep move on."
THE following morning, Wednesday, 8th June, I was
aroused from a sound slumber at about three o'clock
a.m., before it was quite light. My Indian crew was
already on the alert, and informed me that the wind was
blowing freshly off shore and was favourable and Hkely to
increase. After a hasty meal I commended myself and
crew to the care and guidance of our Heavenly Father, and
soon we were standing off with a " full sheet and a flowing
sea." As the wind increased the sea arose and threatened
to engulf our frail bark in its yawning depths. In six
hours we had lost all sight of land, and even the mountain
tops had disappeared. None of us were able to retain our
seats on the thwarts, nor would it have been well to have
done so, as they are only sewn to the sides of the canoe
with thongs of cedar withes, and might easily have given
way under the increased strain. In addition she rode
better with the ballast low down, consequently all save the
steersman had to remain huddled up in the bottom of the
canoe. An occasional wave broke over us, which kept us
all on the alert, and soon all four of our young sailors'
were seized with that dread ailment mal de mer. I,
together with my steersman and bowman, remained unaffected, for which I felt thankful, as it required aU our
efforts to keep our frail craft afloat. With shortened sail,
and a bucket in hand to bail out the water washed into the
canoe by the waves, our bowman laboured incessantly; whilst
I had to assist the steersman with a paddle to keep the canoe
up to the waves, and thus we appeared almost to fly onward.
Early in the afternoon we caught sight of the mountains
of Graham Island, the most northerly of the Queen Charlotte group, and shortly afterwards, away to the north, we
descried the snow-clad peaks of the mountains of Prince of
Wales Island in Alaska, and our hearts were gladdened by
the sight. The wind gradually slackened as we approached
the lee of the land, and just as we were congratulating ourselves on our success we sighted a dark ridge or wall of water
rushing up rapidly towards us from the south. Apprehensive of being swamped or capsized, we furled sail, and,
grasping our paddles, headed our canoe around to meet
the approaching danger. It proved to be but the turn of
the incoming tide, which rushes shoreward from the ocean
at this point with great force. Continuing our journey
we soon found ourselves off Rose Spit, which is a long and
dangerous sand bar extending for several miles seaward
from the north-eastern point of Graham Island, the largest
of the Queen Charlotte group. This great sand-spit, which
has always been regarded by the Haidas as the abode of
some powerful " Nok-nok " or spirit of evil, has evidently
been formed by the tides and storms from the west and
south meeting here, and thus continually adding to the
bank of sand. Two vessels chartered and freighted by the
Hudson Bay Company were successively stranded and
wrecked on this dangerous shoal. It was here, too, that
Seegay, the young chief whom I was now on my way to
visit, had been capsized in his canoe, and though he
succeeded in reaching the shore, yet he had been so long
struggling in the surf, that it had resulted in the severe
illness which now threatened his life. We effected a landing on the islands at about 4.30 p.m., and having been
cramped up in the canoe for thirteen hours, we were glad
indeed to be able to stretch our limbs on the island shore.
I realised the importance of my visit* being the first
messenger of the Gospel to the Haidas, and whilst my
crew were engaged in lighting a fire and preparing some
food, I seized the opportunity to enter the forest, and
there in faith I bowed and entrusted the work on which
we were about to enter to the Divine guidance and blessing.
This was my first visit ta the Queen Charlotte Islands by
canoe. I made the passage seventeen times by canoe, and
on three of these voyages we were well-nigh lost.
The northern shore of the islands from the north-east
point to the mouth of Massett inlet is almost whoUy free
from rocks, and is fringed with a beautiful sandy beach,
which extends, in an almost unbroken line, a distance of
nearly thirty miles. Having partaken of some refreshment,
we re-embarked and reached Massett, our destination, at
about 7.30 p.m. On first sighting the encampment it reminded me of a harbour, where a great many vessels lay
at anchor, with only their masts appearing in view. On
coming nearer these mast-like posts were found to be the
large totem poles, carved from top to base with grotesque
figures* representing the crests of those who erected them.
There are four leading crests found among all the Indians
on the north-west coast, including the Haidas, Tsimsheans,
Nishkas, Kitikshans, Klingit, and other tribes. These are
the eagle, the bear, the woJLf, and the finback whale. With
each of these, other animals, birds, fishes, and emblems
are grouped and associated. Thus, with the eagle the
beaver is joined; with the wolf the heron is associated;
with the bear, the sun, the rainbow, and the owl are
connected; whilst with the finback whale, the frog and
the raven are represented. These four crests are known
by special terms in the various languages of the tribes.
Amongst the Haidas, the bear and the eagle clans were
the most numerous.
This crestal system may be designated as a kind of
Indian freemasonry. It is even more comprehensive in its
influence and power, as by it the chieftainships are divided
and allotted, marriages are arranged and controlled, and
distribution of property decided. Indeed the entire social
Hfe of the Indians is controlled and regulated by this
system. We landed in front of the large lodge of the
leading chief Weah, who was the head of the bear clan
at Massett. This numbered amongst its members the
majority of the Massett tribe. The entrance to this lodge
was a smaU oval doorway cut through the base of a large
totem pole, which compelled those entering to bend in
order to pass through it. On entering we found ourselves
on a tier or gallery of some five or six feet in width, which
formed the uppermost of several similar platforms rising
one above the other from the ground floor below, and
running aU round the house. A stairway led down from
this upper platform to the basement or floor. This was the
plan on which all the Haida houses were built, the object
being defence in case of attack. The small oval doorway
cut through the base of the totem prevented a surprise
or rush of an enemy, whilst when bullets were flying and
crashing through the walls from without, "those within
remained in safety in the excavated space on the ground
floor, in the centre of which was the fireplace.
The Indians on the west coast of Vancouver Island built
their dwellings on exactly the same plan, and Captain
Meares, on his first voyage to the coast in 1788, describes
his visit to the house of Wicananish thus: « On entering
the house we were absolutely astonished at the vast area
it enclosed. It contained a large square, boarded up close
on all sides to the height of twenty feet, with planks of
an uncommon breadth and length. Three enormous trees,
rudely carved and painted, formed the rafters, which were
supported at the ends and in the middle by gigantic
images carved out of huge blocks of timber. . . . The
trees that supported the roof were of a size which would
render the mast of a first-rate man-of-war diminutive on
a comparison with them; indeed our curiosity as well as
our astonishment was on its utmost stretch, when we considered the strength which must be necessary to raise these
enormous beams to their present elevation; and how such
strength could be found by a people wholly unacquainted
with mechanic powers. The door by which we entered
this extraordinary fabric was the mouth of one of these
huge images, which, large as it may be supposed, was not
disproportioned to the other features of this monstrous
visage. We ascended by a few steps on the outside, and
after passing this extraordinary kind of portal descended _
down the chin into the house, where we found new matter
for astonishment in the number of men, women, and children who composed the family of the chief, which consisted
of at least eight hundred persons." The foregoing description of a chiefs house at Nootka, on the west coast of
Vancouver Island, as detailed by one of the first navigators who visited this coast in 1788, exactly describes
the dwellings of the Haida chiefs a century later.
Around the fire a number of Haidas were seated, many
of whom, both men and women, had their faces painted in
red or black, whilst some were besmeared with both colours.
The chief sat in a peculiarly shaped seat carved out of one
piece of wood, a section of a tree, and placed on the first
tier or platform, whilst around the fire a number of his
slaves were engaged in preparing food. Large numbers of
the Haidas pressed in to see us, and to learn the object of
our visit, and as the chief understood sufficient of the
Tsimshean tongue I was enabled to inform him of my
mission to his dying nephew, Seegay. Him I found very
low, and both he and his wife were indeed pleased to see
me. He was evidently far gone in rapid consumption.
^The bright sunken eyes and hectic glow, with the incessant
cough, indicated the disease. He was eager to learn more
of the Great Chief above, " Shalana nung Itlagedas," and of
the way to Him. This led me at once to the all-important
subject: I was enabled to tell him of Him who has declared
Himself to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." I
spoke in Tsimshean, his wife's language, and as she proceeded to interpret for me she broke down and was unable
to proceed.    I closed the interview with prayer.
On returning to the chief's house I found a large number
of Haidas assembled in their paint and feathers. They
had been engaged in a medicine dance, and as my Tsimshean crew, who were Christians, were anxious to lie down
to rest after their long day's travel, I conducted evening
prayer for them. The Haidas looked on in amazement,
and continued smoking and talking during our service.
My erew~ lay down to rest on the lower floor around the
fire, whilst to me a place of honour was given on the
upper gallery to the rear of the great lodge. But I
could not sleep. Was it the exciting experiences of the
day which prevented my sleeping, or was it the strange
odours from the carved and painted boxes around? In
these I knew were stored dried fish, dried herring spawn,
dried seaweed in cakes, and boiled crab apples preserved in
olachan grease. Yet it was not from these that this heavy
and oppressive atmosphere arose. At the first gleam of
the welcome day I arose and surveyed my surroundings. I
concluded that the offensive odour came from without,
through the numerous openings between the split planks
with which the walls were constructed. I went out to
reconnoitre and found, to my astonishment, a great pile of
the remains of the dead, some in grease boxes tied around
with bark ropes, some in cedar bark mats which had fallen
to pieces, revealing the contents; whilst skulls and bones
Were scattered around. I needed not to be reminded that
I was in a heathen camp. Everything around, within and
without, was depressing. As I turned from the weird sight
a hungry, wolfish-looking dog challenged me. I had
evidently disturbed him in his horrid feast, so I fled, and,
re-entering the house, I aroused my Tsimshean crew. I
pointed out to them the ghastly sight, which surprised
especially the young men. The older men had known that
this was the Haida custom. They never interred their
dead. The mainland tribes cremated their dead, but the
Haidas simply removed the body to the rear of their
lodges, or a few yards distant, excepting the remains of
those of rank, which were generally encased, if a chief, in
the base of a mortuary totem pole erected to his memory
by his successor, and elaborately carved with the crest of
the clan; or, if a person of lesser rank, the body was
placed in a large box-like structure supported by two great
posts from 10 to 15 feet above the ground, as shown in
illustration. These were erected throughout each camp,
and on the decay of the wood the remains were scattered
around. I instructed my crew to remove my blankets and
bedding to the lower floor, where, though troubled by
numerous dogs, I rested better while in the camp. On
passing around I found that all the houses were constructed
on the same principle as that of the chief in which I was
lodging. Many of them were excavated to a greater depth,
allowing a gallery of five tiers from the level of the surface
to the lower floor in the centre, on which the fireplace was
situated. Many of the doorways were also similarly constructed to that which I have mentioned, and could easily
be defended by one man.
On one occasion a large number of the Haidas of another
tribe had been slaughtered on the threshold of the great
lodge in which I was. They had been insulted or injured
by the Massett Haidas, who, in order to make peace, had
invited them to a feast. They determined to avail themselves of this opportunity to avenge themselves, and came
to the feast with their weapons concealed under their
The house is about 40 feet square, forming one large room. The upper cubicles are
on a level with the ground, which in front of them is excavated so that the fireplace
m the centre is twelve feet below the surface. A ledge, for the use of slaves and
dependents, is left half-way down.  LAUNCHING OUT INTO THE DEEP
garments. A report of their intention had been secretly
conveyed to the chief who had invited them. Intent on
their own plan of revenge, they little suspected the change
of fare which had been provided for them. Within the
narrow doorway were posted two powerful warriors, one on
either side, each armed with a war club. The guests
arrived in a long line, led by their chief, each prepared for
deeds of blood. But as each entered with head bowed low
through the low and narrow portal, one powerful blow from
the concealed guard was sufficient, and as the body was
dragged aside quickly by those in waiting, they raised a
shout of welcome in chorus to disarm suspicion in those
foHowing. In this way the entire number was disposed of,
and only two great heaps of corpses to right and left of
the entrance remained to tell the tale. The concealed
weapon which was found on each of them satisfied their
slayers that their action was well merited.
In this same house, with the chiefs permission, I invited
the men of the tribe to assemble on the evening of the day
after my arrival. I was anxious to announce to them my
desire to open a Mission amongst them. Accordingly a
large number of the men assembled, among whom were
some of the leading medicine men. One of these, who was
not only a medicine man but also a chief, I had met on
the mainland.- It was easy to recognise him. His long
hair, which hung down to his hips when performing his incantations over the sick, or when engaged in the medicine
dance, was now roUed round a pair of horns and fastened
to the back of his head. This, with his wild, restless eyes
and shaggy beard, reminded me of representations of the
Evil One which I had seen in illustrations from the old
masters. He was the leading medicine man, and I knew I
should find in him a formidable opponent. Many present
Were in paint and feathers, and as the dim light of the
fire flashed occasionally on them they presented a strange
appearance. I opened with prayer that the entrance of
the Divine Word might give light, and that the door
might be opened amongst these long-benighted tribes for
the Gospel. I addressed them in the Tsimshean, which
was interpreted by one of them.
" Chiefs and friends," I began, " I am not quite a stranger
to many of you. You have met me on the mainland, where
I have also seen you. I have heard much of you from the
Tsimshean chiefs who have received the message of peace.
They have heard the word of the Great Chief above who
is the Father of all. They have scattered the swan and
eagle's down over their foes and have left the war-path for
ever. Your friend and fellow-tribesman Seegay is sick.
He longed to know the word of the Great Chief before he
dies. I heard his cry. It came to me across the waves,
and I have come at his call. I have brought to him the
good word of the Son of the Great Chief of Heaven. It
has made his heart strong. He of whom I spoke to him
is the Way of life. He only is the Truth. He is the Life
for ever. He has come down from the Great Father to
seek us. He has given us His word. He has sent me to
you with His message. I am ready to obey. I desire to
learn your tongue to make the message clear. I shall be
ready to come when the first snow falls on the mountain
tops, and the wild fowl are returning southward. When
the fire canoe makes her last trip, I will come. These are
my words to you, chiefs and wise men.    I have spoken."
When I sat down there was silence for several minutes.
Then there arose a low, murmuring consultation from
all sides which gradually increased in volume, during which
the chief was in close consultation with his leading advisers.
At length the loud tap of a stick by one of these caused
silence, and the chief arose to speak. " Your words are
good," he replied. " They are wise words. We have heard
of the white man's wisdom. We have heard that he
possesses the secret of life. He has heard the words of
the Chief above. We have seen the change made in the
Tsimsheans. But why did you not come before? Why
did the iron people (white men) not send us the news
when it was sent to the Tsimsheans ? The smaHpox which
came upon us many years ago kiUed many of our people.
It came first from the north land, from the iron people
who came from the land where the suh sets (Russia, from
whence it was brought to Alaska). Again it came not many
years ago, when I was a young man. It came then from
the land of the iron people where the sun rises (Canada
and the United States). Our people are brave in warfare
and never turn their backs on their foes, but this foe we
could not see and we could not fight. Our medicine men
are wise, but they could not drive away the evil spirit; and
why ? because it was the sickness of the iron people. It
came from them. You have visited our camps, and you
have seen many of the lodges empty. In them the camp
fires once burned brightly, and around them the hunters
and warriors told of their deeds in the past. Now the fires
have gone out and the brave men have fallen before the
iron man's sickness.    You have come too late for them."
He paused, and again his advisers prompted him in
low tones, after which he resumed: " And now another
enemy has arisen. It is the spirit of the fire-water.
Our people have learned how to make it, and it has
turned friends to foes. This also has come from the
land where the sun rises. It is the bad medicine of the
1 Yetz haada' (iron people). It has weakened the hands
of our hunters. They cannot shoot as their fathers did.
Their eyes are not so clear. Our fathers' eyes were like
the eagle's. The fire-water has dimmed our sight. It
came from your people. If your people had the good
news of the Great Chief, the Good Spirit, why did they
not send it to us first and not these evil spirits ? You
have come too late."    With these words he sat down.
It was a sad recital, and for the moment I felt much
Hke a prisoner charged and convicted before his judges.
I knew every eye was upon me, and I was rather glad it
was dark in the great lodge. Summoning up courage, I
replied briefly: " I have heard your words, chief, and I
am sad. But the Kalikoustla came to your people before
I could come. See; I have not delayed so long. My
hair is not yet white. I am not as old as you. I came
to the Tsimsheans, but as soon as I heard of your need I
came to you. When Seegay's cry reached me I came. I
have not come too late for him. The word of the Great
Chief above has made his heart strong. I have not come
too late for you nor for your children. For this I am
One of the sub-chiefs then replied: " Yes, you can lead
our children in the new way, but we do not desire to
abandon the customs of our forefathers. We cannot give
up the old customs. The Scanawa (presiding spirit) of
our medicine men is strong. Stronger than the words of
the Great Chief above, so you will have no power to change
them. It would not be good for you to try. The { Yetz
haada,' had better return to his own people." Thus the
council meeting ended. I was hopeful. The opposition
had not been so active as I had expected. If they permitted me to teach their children I knew I should be
enabled through their children to influence them also.
Naw that the consultation had ended the Haidas gave full
vent to their views, and groups of excited men were discussing the question in high tones and with vehement
gestures both within and without the lodge. Amongst
these the medicine men were the most excited, and from
the fierce looks with which they regarded me, I knew that
from them at least I must expect active and organised
opposition, as they realised their craft was in danger.
" The red cross of our banner
Shall float o'er every land,
And claim in faith's obedience
Earth's darkest, wildest strand.
O labourers claim,
In His dear name,
The utmost isles at His command."
—Clara Thwait*is.
THE day following, Edenshew, an influential chief,
arrived from Virago Sound, accompanied by a large
number of his tribe in several war canoes. His own
canoe was manned principaUy by his slaves. He and his
men were received with honours, and a dance of peace was
accorded them. There had been a quarrel between the
two tribes, and Edenshew with his leading men had been
invited, for the purpose of making peace. As their large
canoes approached the shore the occupants chanted the
brave deeds of the past, and were answered in a similar
strain by the concourse on the shore. The chanting was
accompanied by regular and graceful motions of the head
and body and waving of the hands. The time was kept
by a large drum formed like a chest, and made of red
cedar wood, painted with grotesque figures, and covered
with skin. This was beaten by a drummer seated in the
bow of the leading canoe. Naked slaves with their bodies
blackened, each bearing a large copper shield, now rushed
into the water and cast the shields into the deep, in front
of the canoes of the visitors. As these shields are made
of native copper, and inscribed with their crestal signs,
they are very highly valued amongst the Indians, consequently this was one of the highest marks of welcome
and honour. Not that the copper shields were lost to the
owners, as they were recovered afterwards on the ebb of
the tide. On landing the visitors were preceded by a
number of dancers, male and female, speciaUy arrayed and
with faces painted, who led the way to the lodge prepared
for their reception. The central seat was given to the
chief, and his leading men were seated around. A messenger now entered to announce the coming of his chief
and party to welcome his guests. These at once entered,
the chief preceding and foUowed by the sub-chiefs, and
principal men in their dancing attire. The head-dress 6r
shikid bore the crest of the tribe on the front inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, and surmounted by a circlet or crown
formed of the bristles of the sea-Hon, standing closely
together so as to form a receptacle. This was filled with
Swan or eagle's down, very fine and specially prepared.
As the procession danced around in front of the guests
chanting the song of peace, the chief bowed before each of
his visitors, and as he did so a cloud of the swansdown
descended in a shower over his guest. Passing on, this was
repeated before each, and thus peace was made and sealed.
This custom is recognised and followed by all the tribes of
the north-west coast. The calumet or "pipe of peace"
is never used as such, but the lthtanoa or scattering of the
swansdown is held sacred, and as equally binding on those
who perform the ceremony, and those who receive it. By
it the tomahawk is buried effectually, and through it the
pipe of peace is passed around in social harmony and true
friendship. I have frequently, in preaching to the heathen,
been enabled to make an effective use of this custom as
illustrating how the Great Chief above, when we were at
enmity with Him, made peace with us by the gift of His ;
only Son, who sends down the blessing of peace through
the Holy Ghost. This chief, Edenshew, who was thus
received, was formerly the most powerful chief on. the
Queen Charlotte Islands. His name was known and feared
by many of the tribes both north and south. WTien the
American schooner, the Susan Sturges, was captured,
pillaged, and burned by the northern Haidas, and her
crew enslaved, Edenshew asserted that had he not been
present the crew would all have been slaughtered. He
informed me that the Haidas were about to shoot them
when he interfered and took them under his protection.
On the other hand, some members of the tribe informed
me that it was by this chief's orders that the schooner was
attacked and taken. It is probable that both statements
are true. These white men who had formed the crew were
divested of their own clothing, which was appropriated by
their captors, and received blankets instead, and thus barefoot, and with but seant clothing, they were enslaved by
the chiefs, to whom they became hewers of wood and
drawers of water. They were thus retained as slaves, until
redeemed by the Hudson's Bay Company, who paid over
to the chiefs a number of bales of blankets for their
Chief Edenshew understood Tsimshean, and could speak
it fluently, consequently when he invited me to visit his
nephew, a young man also in the last stage of consumption,
I made it conditional that he should interpret for me, as I
desired to address his people. This he engaged to do, and
on our arrival we found his friend very weak and low. I
conducted a service, Edenshew interpreting for me, as he
had promised, but I saw that he hesitated and failed to
convey much of what I said to his people. I found that
he was averse to my proposed Mission, as he had a number
of slaves, and feared that it might lead to their obtaining
freedom, and his consequent loss. He had heard that
those of the Tsimshean chiefs who had embraced Chris-
tianity had freed their slaves or had adopted them into
their families.
When quite a young man, the ship Vancouver, whilst on
a voyage to the north of the Queen Charlotte Islands with
a cargo of general merchandise, was driven on Rose Spit
Sands. Edenshew was then residing with his uncle, who
was the chief of an encampment at YehHng, near to this
dangerous point. On seeing the ship stranded, with the
waves breaking over her, he at once pushed off with a large
party of the tribe in their canoes to take possession of the
vessel. They boarded the ship, and, despite the efforts of
the captain and officers, commenced to plunder her. A
hand-to-hand conflict ensued, in which the ship's crew
would most certainly have been overpowered, had not the
captain ordered the magazine to be fired. The boats had
already been lowered, and the next order was to take to
them and push off from the ship. On seeing this hasty
action, Edenshew apprehended danger. He and his men
made a rush for their canoes, and paddled off, leaving their
heaps of plunder on the deck. They were not a moment
too soon, as they had just got clear of the vessel when she
blew up with a tremendous explosion, scattering the wreckage far and wide on the waves around. The boats' crews
were aU armed, but, fearing to touch on the islands, they
stood off for the mainland and Fort Simpson, some sixty
miles distant, whilst the^Haidas paddled back to their
"shores. The prompt action of the captain prevented the
piUage of his vessel, and probably saved the lives of many
of his men, who would have been overpowered and slain
had they persisted in defending the vessel. Edenshew could
never dismiss this act from his mind, as many years afterwards, when he met the first officer of the ship, who had in
the meantime been promoted to the position of a chief
factor in the Hudson's Bay Company, he declined to reply
to his salutation, whilst most friendly disposed towards me.
Several years afterwards, when on a trading expedition
to the mainland, one of the officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company showed Edenshew a piece of gold ore, and informed him that if he could bring him a quantity similar
to the sample he would reward him with such a number of
bales of blankets as would enable him to give the greatest
" potlatch " ever given by any Haida chief, and thus yet
farther elevate his chieftainship. Edenshew took away the
piece of ore, promising to inquire amongst his people concerning it. Shortly after his return, he went on a visit
southwards to Skidegate and vicinity, where he had many
friends of his own crest. Here he was royally entertained,
and, whilst seated with his friends around the camp-fire,
he exhibited the sample of gold ore, and inquired if any of
them knew of any rock Hke it. It was passed round the
circle for examination, when one of the women exclaimed
that she knew where rock similar to it could be found, and
that she thought she had a piece of it in her possession.
She immediately proceeded to search her treasures, and
produced a large piece, evidently richer in gold than the
specimen. She agreed to accompany the chief on the following morning, and point out the rock to him from which
she had obtained it. Accordingly, next morning Edenshew, having provided himself with the necessary tools,
embarked in a smaU canoe, accompanied only by his wife
and child, together with the old woman, his guide. The
Eldorado was a rock overhanging the sea. Leaving the
child, a little boy of some three or four years, in the canoe,
the chief proceeded to chip off the golden ore, which his
wife gathered into a Haida sack-shaped basket until it was
almost filled. This she carried down, and emptied into the
canoe. Returning with the basket, she continued collecting
the ore as Edenshew chipped it off until the basket was
again filled. It was now agreed that he had procured a
sufficient quantity, and together they returned to the canoe,
but what was their surprise to find that but a few pieces
remained of the first basketful. The child, left alone in
the canoe, had amused himself by throwing overboard piece
by piece during their absence. Edenshew himself informed
me afterwards, he was so enraged, that he would have
thrown his child overboard also, had not his wife restrained
him. As it was late in the evening, they returned with
what they had.
On his next visit to the mainland, he brought the ore
to Fort Simpson, where he received quite a cargo of
blankets and other property as his reward. He consented,
also, to act as guide to point out the treasure. A schooner
was specially fitted out in Victoria, and a number of miners
engaged for the expedition. Edenshew accompanied them
on their arrival, and guided them to the spot. A large
amount in gold ore was taken from the rock, but they
failed to trace it farther from the shore. This place,
nut far from Skidegate, has been known since as " Gold
That child, whose life would most probably have been
sacrificed had it not been for his mother's intercession and
protection, was spared that he might become the possessor
of greater treasures than gold. Under his influence, also,
Edenshew was yet to be led to discover the true riches
which neither the world nor death could deprive him of.
He was well rewarded for acting as pilot to the schooner
which conveyed the mining party to the gold deposit, and
this, together with the bales of blankets which he received
on his first gold delivery, enabled him to give another
great " potlatch," to which the members of all the other
crests were invited from far and near. Thus his great
gold discovery elevated him both in the estimation of
Whites and Indians, and the promise made him by the
Hudson's Bay Company was fulfilled.
I visited. Seegay again for the last time, and commended
both himself and his wife in prayer to God. He was trusting in the atonement and righteousness of the Lord Jesus
Christ for salvation. Thus, for the Haidas, the darkness
of ages was beginning to pass away, and the true " light"
of the Sun of Righteousness, which illuminates even the
" Valley of the Shadow of Death," was shining. Our
return journey was arduous and trying. Passing through
Dixon's Entrance, we were overtaken by a squall which
nearly tore our sail to pieces and threatened to swamp
us. My steersman lost his cap, which was carried off by
the wind. Off Rose Spit a large sea Hon harassed us by
following the canoe, and coming up now on one side and
again on the other. My crew feared it might upset us,
and, although we were sailing very fast, yet we could not
outdistance it, so, acting on their advice, I seized my rifle,
and, as it again emerged very close to the canoe, shot it
through the head.
Towards evening the wind abated, and continued to do
so until it was useless to keep up sail any longer. In
Indian parlance, the western wind was "falling asleep."
I felt as though I could have slept also, but, as we could
just see the land ahead, we grasped our paddles, and pulled
steadily through the night. When morning broke, we
were stiU many miles from the outer islands off the coast,
but, true to the Haida watchword, " II haada seagai gu un
shanzudie gum langung" (people should not rest on the
ocean), we stimulated each other to fresh efforts by words
and example, with an occasional burst of song. At length,
after sunrise, we reached the first island, and, crippled from
twenty-four hours in the canoe, with some difficulty we
walked up the beach and, having lit a fire, proceeded to
prepare a Httle food. Having appeased our hunger, we
lay down to rest. Hardly had we done so when a favourable wind arose, which, in our exhausted condition, was
not to be neglected. So, hastily re-embarking, we entered
Metlakahtla Harbour at seven o'clock a.m. The steamer
Grappkr lay at anchor, and, as we passed her, Captain
William Moore hailed us. Looking over the taffrail, he cried,
" And where do you hail from so early, in "that dugout ? "
" We have just come from the Queen Charlotte Islands,"
I replied; " we left Massett yesterday morning, and we
have been labouring all night to reach the shore."
" And have you really traveUed from Queen Charlotte
Islands in that craft ?" he inquired. " I would not take
aU my steamer is worth, to venture on such a journey by
" Well, Captain," I replied, " we cannot all travel by
steamer as you can." The good captain retreated without
further reply, and we proceeded to land. That same
steamer, which was formerly a gunboat in H.M, Navy, was
afterwards destroyed by fire when on a voyage up the
coast under the command of another captain, and some
seventy lives were lost. Thus was accomplished my first
visit to the Haidas. It was the first visit of a missionary to
the Queen Charlotte Islands. One of the objects I had in
view was to ascertain the best point at which to establish
the Mission. From a geographical point of view, Skidegate might have appeared the most advantageous, being
situated almost in the centre of the islands. But the tribes
to the south of the islands had suffered severely from their
periodical visits to Victoria and the cities on the Sound.
They had imported drink and disease from these centres.
The northern Haidas were more vigorous and healthy, with
a larger proportion of women and children. I recognised in
these the hope of the Haida race. From this as a centre,
I hoped to be able to evangelise the tribes both north and
south. For the Haidas were not confined to the Queen
Charlotte Islands only. Across the waters of Dixon's
Entrance, on the shores of the Prince of Wales Island in
south-eastern Alaska, several encampments of Haidas were
to be found.
These tribes speak the same dialect, and were originally
one people.    Many of them are related to families on the
Queen Charlotte Islands, and there is continual intercourse
between them.    They were formerly encamped at Sisk and
North Island, where the remains of their great lodges and
totems were still standing when I visited them. North
Island is known amongst the Haidas as " Kaise Quiay," or
the " Island of Kaise"; and the Haidas on Prince of
Wales Island are yet known as the " Kaise haada," or " the
people of Kaise." Consequently Massett, the place I had
now selected for the headquarters of the Mission, was most
central for all the Haidas, both of Queen Charlotte Islands
and Alaska. For evangelistic and missionary enterprise
must not be checked or limited by political or national
boundaries. The great commission is, " Go ye into all
the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." In
obedience to this command, we were now about to add
another link to the great chain of Missions which, stretching from shore to shore of continents and islands, encircles
the world with a girdle of light.
" If well thou hast begun, go on fore right,
It is the end that crowns us, not the fight."
IT is not known whether the Haidas of the Queen
Charlotte Islands, or the tribes on the coast of the
mainland, first saw the whites. Vancouver sailed up
the coast before touching at the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Captain Meares on his first visit crossed the Pacific from
Calcutta, where he fitted out for the expedition, and
reached Cook's Inlet, where he wintered and lost twenty-
five of his crew, including the ship's surgeon, from scurvy.
He experienced much trouble from the Indians, against
whom they had to keep up a strict guard. In his third
visit he sailed along by the Aleutian Islands, and thence
southwards, bartering for sea-otter skins, wherever he
touched. It was the chief of the Tlingit Indians, Kinna-
nook, who pointed out to Captain Meares the situation of
the Queen Charlotte Islands, and intimated to him by
signs that great numbers of sea-otter skins and robes
were to be had there. Meares first sighted the most
northerly island of the Queen Charlotte group on the 21st
of August 1788, just eighty-eight years prior to my first
visit and the establishment of the Mission. This was the
island, now named Graham Island, on which I established
the Massett Mission. These islands were first discovered by
Captains Laurie and Guise in 1786. The foUowing year,
Captain Dixon of the Queen Charlotte touched there, and
named the islands after King George the Third's Queen,
after whom his ship was also named. " Dixon's Entrance,"
the strait separating Queen Charlotte Islands from Prince
of Wales Island in Alaska, was named after the Commander.
Many amusing incidents are related by the Indians of the
mistakes and misunderstandings which occurred on the first
advent of the white man. When the first ship was sighted
off the north of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the Haida
medicine men declared it was the Kali-Koustla, or the spirit
of the smallpox, which had come back again. They had
suffered so severely from the first visitation of that dreadful
scourge, that they at once associated this strange phenomenon with it. Consequently the vessel lay at anchor
unvisited for several days. At length a chief, named
Coneyea, braver than the rest, determined to solve the
mystery, so, calling for volunteers to man his large war
canoe, he prepared to visit the " Un-nana " or evil spirit.
His challenge was speedily accepted, and soon he was on
his way to the ship. On drawing near they were astonished
to see men moving about on board. These beckoned
them onwards, and soon they were alongside. They were
invited on board, and were lost in astonishment to find so
much ironwork, even the ropes they described as being
made of iron. From the impression thus received on
their first contact with the whites, the Haidas have ever
since designated us as the "Yatz haada," or the "Iron
people." And surely, if the term was appropriate then,
it is much more appropriate now, since the old wooden
walls have given place to the steel-built vessels of war and
Coneyea and his men had come out armed with their
bows and spears, and the officers on board, seeing this,
were desirous to exhibit their fire-arms. Taking up a
loaded gun, one of them fired at a seal, which had come
up not far from the ship, and shot it. Though greatly
startled, yet these Haida warriors endeavoured to conceal
their surprise. Another seal appearing within easy range,
a loaded gun was handed to one of the Haidas, and he was
motioned to fire. Unwilling to be considered as dismayed,
and anxious to outdo his fellow-tribesmen, he seized the
weapon, placed the butt of the musket against his nose,
and, thus taking aim, fired. The rebound of the weapon
was so strong that it almost knocked him down, and the
blood gushed forth from his nose in a stream. He made
a rush forward as though to seek revenge, but an exclamation from his friends, apprising him that he had killed the
seal, abated his indignation, and, wiping away the blood,
which he now regarded as an honour rather than as a
disgrace, he handed back the gun with an expression of
satisfaction and pride. And the proud distinction thus
won, he retained, as none of his friends were willing to
repeat the experiment. Before leaving the ship, Coneyea,
who had not concealed his astonishment and admiration
at all he saw, was presented by the captain with a new
On his return to camp, he presented this to his wife, who
was a great chieftainess, and a special box was made and
carved for its safe keeping. This axe-head, as an ornament
of inestimable value, was worn by the chieftainess at every
great feast or entertainment as a jewel, suspended on her
breast, and her fame spread far and wide as the fortunate
possessor of such an ornament, which appeared to.them as
a veritable Kohinoor.
The Skidegate tribes had their mistakes also. The
captain of the first ship, probably seeing their need of
soap, presented them with a quantity of this useful article.
Never having seen it before, they concluded it was part of
the food of the Iron people, and the following day aH
were invited to the lodge of the happy possessor to partake
of the treat. Fortunately the ship had weighed anchor
early that morning, otherwise the indignant natives would
most probably have resented their supposed injury.
Showing the characteristic figures used in tattooing.
Clad in a blanket, and wearing nose-ring and labret.   A gaudy silk handkerchief serves
As the Hudson Bay Company's steamer, the Otter,
was about to make her last voyage of the year, and proposed calling at the north of the Queen Charlotte Islands,
I resolved to endeavour to cross by her, and open the
Mission without further delay. Accordingly, we left
Metlakahtla, and proceeded to Fort Simpson by canoe on
the 30th of October 1876. A number of Tsimshean Indians
accompanied us in their own canoes. Here we embarked
on the morning of November 1st, and, after a good run of
about one hundred miles, anchored off Massett at nightfaU.
The captain, who was valso a chief factor of the Company,
and knew the character of the Indians better than any
other person on the coast from his long experience in dealing with them, begged me not to risk my life, and that of
my wife and two children, by attempting to remain there
during the winter. He had been compelled to put up his
netting to prevent them from boarding his vessel, more
than once. Finding I had determined on remaining, he
then requested me to permit my wife to return with the
children to the mainland. To this I consented, provided
she was willing to do so, as unfortunately we had no house
to reside in. I had brought a few boards and a tent,
hoping to be able to induce one of the chiefs to permit us
to have a corner in one of their large lodges. My wife
declined the good captain's proposal, stating she had come
prepared to remain with me. " Well," he replied, " I shall
not be surprised to find you have all been murdered when
I return again next year."
It was not a very encouraging prospect, but we realised
that He who sent us was with us, and would keep us.
With the last canoe of Haidas leaving the steamer, we went
ashore, after having said " Good-bye " to these last representatives of civilisation aboard. It was quite dark when
we landed, and we knew not where to go. I had determined
to visit the chief Weah, in whose large house we had lodged
on my first visit, and whilst on our way thither I received
a message from an old white man, the only one on the
Islands, who was living with an Indian woman, and under
her protection, stating that he could afford us shelter for
the night. Thus was our way opened up, and we were
indeed grateful for the invitation.
The circumstances under which this man came to the
Islands were peculiar. An enterprising American, anxious
to open trade with the Haidas for their fur seal and sea
otter skins, arrived there on a sloop with a cargo of goods.
» Having secured the protection and support of one of the
chiefs by a number of gifts, he succeeded in erecting a
strong block-house. Here he landed and stored his goods.
He had brought with him also a quantity of liquor and
fire-arms and a small brass cannon. The latter would seem
to be the necessary accompaniment of the former. The
cannon he kept loaded, and placed in a position commanding
the approach to the door. Yet all his precautions proved
inefficient. One dark night the Haidas surrounded the
house and proceeded to fire into it, so that, in order to save
his life, having first barricaded the entrance, he escaped
through an opening in the rear under cover of the darkness
and fled to Skidegate, a distance of over a hundred miles,
where he hired a canoe and crew of Indians to convey him
to Fort Simpson.
Here he offered what remained of his house and stock
to the Hudson Bay Company, who were desirous to establish
a post on the Islands. They gave him a small sum for it,
but their difficulty was to find a man to take charge. At
length a man was found whose Indian wife, a Tsimshean
woman, was known to the Haidas, and who guaranteed his
safety should she accompany him. Her promise had been
fulfilled, as she informed me that she had on several occasions saved him from the hands of the Haidas when they
would have killed him.
Her association with this man had not enlightened her,
but had rather retarded her from Christian influence and
rooted her in heathenism, for, whilst many of her tribe had
embraced Christianity, she yet remained a heathen. Strange
to state, this white man with whom she was living was
no better. He had traveUed across the American continent
about the time of the great Mormon massacre; had owned
all the land on which Sacramento now stands, and had
kept a liquor saloon there during the Californian gold
excitement. There he had amassed fortunes, and had
squandered them again, and at length had drifted up the
coast to prospect for gold in Alaska. Now that he
had settled down among the Indians, he had become as
one of them, attending their " potlatches," receiving and
carrying away what was given him, and, when his wife
or daughter was ill, he called in the medicine sorcerers,
and paid them for performing their incantations over the
The morning following our arrival, I found a small log
hut in which the skins of fur and hair seals had been
stored and salted, but which was now empty. This I
cleaned out, and in it erected a small stove which I had
brought with me from the mainland, and here we were
indeed glad to find shelter. It was only 10 by 12 feet, but
I succeeded in partitioning off one end of it as a bedroom.
The worst feature of our hut was its position, which I
found was within a few yards of a broken-down dead-
house which had been formed of bark. This was filled
with dead bodies. In bark mats, in dirty blankets, and
in old grease boxes the dead were heaped; and when the
wind blew from that direction, our position became very
trying. But this was not all. The Haidas, many of
whom had never seen a white woman, crowded into
our little shanty in their paint and feathers, and squatted
down on the floor, so closely packed together that there
was not room to move. Had it not been for the open
door we must have been stifled, as the peculiar odour arising from their hunting and fishing garb was overwhelming.
The only window—a half one at the end of the hut—was
darkened by an array of faces besmeared with black and
red paint, so that both light and air were scarce. Not
knowing their language, I could not convey to them
our desire, or, had I attempted to drive them out, I
might have been ejected in turn, or subjected to even
rougher treatment. I concluded, therefore, that what
could not be helped must be endured. Day after day
this continued, so that it was impossible to get near
the stove or to prepare any food.
We had to be satisfied with two meals each day, viz.
breakfast early in the morning, before our visitors began
to assemble, and tea in the evening, after all had departed.
Any article of wearing apparel within reach was freely
made use of. Hats, coats, and boots were passed from
one to another, each one trying them on, and inviting
the opinions of the others as to their becomingness or
otherwise. I now strengthened our partition, and affixed
a door, which enabled us to hide away our clothing. I
found several who understood a little of the Tsimshean
language, and began to make use of them to obtain a
few words of Haida. Remembering my success in acquiring the Tsimshean from the method I had used, I determined to adopt the same method for the Haida, and
consequently succeeded in obtaining a translation of my
key, which, it will be remembered, was "What is the
Tsimshean name for this ?" or " Gaulth sha wada Tsimshean qua ?" This in the Haida is " Gushino Haadis
adshi kiadagung-gung?" or "How do the Haidas cause
this to be named ? " Such of my visitors as could understand, I now kept busy whilst improving my own time,
and the more indolent, not willing to be continually plied
with my inquiries, soon took their departure, and thus I
gained a double benefit.
I proceeded weU in the compiling of my vocabularies,
but in my endeavour to form sentences and phrases I met
with a serious drawback. Having framed a sentence with
the aid of one of them, I set it aside and awaited an
opportunity to confirm or correct it with the aid of
another Haida. But I was invariably met with the assertion that what I had written was incorrect. I was at
length quite discouraged, and began to consider where
the fault lay. I had noticed that on reading or repeating my sentence to any of them, their first inquiry
always was, " Who helped you to know that ?" and that
on my informing them, the rendering was at once disputed. I determined therefore not to enlighten them for
the future as to who had told me. I found the trouble
arose from a desire on the part of each to be accounted
more clever than others, and from this forward I made
satisfactory progress.
It might be supposed that a knowledge of the Tsimshean, the language of the tribes of this name on the coast
of the mainland, only a Httle over one hundred miles
distant, would have been helpful in the acquirement of the
Haida. It would have been so were there any similarity
between the two languages. But there is no similarity
whatever in either nomenclature, construction, or idea.
One peculiarity of the Tsimshean is that it somewhat
resembles the Latin in the person endings of the verbs, as
for instance the verb " live," which is conjugated thus:
Didohhu        = I live.
Didohhun      = You live.
Didolsktga     — He lives.
PI. Dildolshim     — We live.
Dildolshashim — Ye or you live.
Dildolshtga    = They live.
The plural is sometimes rendered as Dildolshimi, &c.=-We
live, etc.
In two of the dialects of Tsimshean  the  third  person
plural is Dildolchdet •___ they live.   In the Haida this verb is
" Hinung-agung," and is thus conjugated:
De kenung-*agung — I live.
Dung   „
„  ■__ You live.
„ m He lives.
. Itil
Jj  =5 We live.
Dalung „
„ •= Ye or you live.
„  •__ They (many) live.
II „ awong^ They (few) liye.
Again, as to the difference in idea or conception of the
same objects, the Tsimshean term for sunbeam, "Ashee
Giamk," signifies the foot or limb of the sun; whilst the
Haida term for the same, "Juie hunglth dagwuts," is
literally the eyelash of the sun. In the Tsimshean the
idea is that the sun is as a great body, the limbs of
which extend to the earth; whilst the Haida conception
is that the sun is a great eye, of which the rays are the
eyelashes. In the Haida the term for our word " echo"
is " hants kil" or the " spirit voice"; whilst in Tsimshean it is "gwul aght," or the reverberations of the lips,
That the Haida is the more difficult of the two languages
is evident from the fact that, whereas I have known several
Haidas who understood and could speak the Tsimshean,
yet I have never found any Tsimsheans who could speak
the Haida, except several who had been captured by the
Haidas and retained for many years in slavery. Indeed
the Haida term for the Tsimsheans is " Kil-las haada," or
" the people of the good language," which is significant.
Whilst thus acquiring the language, I resolved to
endeavour to make some Httle effort in evangelising from
house to house, and making use of the Chinook and the
Tsimshean. The Chinook is the trading jargon of the
coast, and is known by some of the inland tribes also. It
was introduced by the Hudson's Bay Company's officers,
and would appear to have had its origin from intercourse
with the tribe called the Chinoock, amongst whom the
Company established the first trading post, Fort Oregon,
from which the State in which this fort stood probably
derives its name. An interesting incident is recorded in
connection with this fort, which illustrates the method by
which much of the Chinook was formed. One of the
officers of the Company named Clarke lived outside the
fort, and on the officer of the watch opening the gate in
the morning he generally greeted him with the salutation
of « Well, Clarke, how are you ?" The Indians, waiting
around to enter for trade, hearing this salutation frequently,
concluded that it was the general greeting for all, and so on
entering would address the first white man with the words,
" Clak how ya ?" This is now generally used as the equivalent for "How are you?" However well the Chinook
may be adapted for trading purposes, it is but a poor
medium for communicating religious instruction. But the
importance of the missionary message compelled me to
have recourse to the use of it whilst acquiring the Haida,
so, having provided myself with large scriptural cartoons,
I began at one end of the camp, and conducted a short
service in one lodge each evening. As there were several
families in each lodge, I generally found a sufficient number
of hearers. Placing my illustration in a prominent position,
I commenced by singing a verse or two of a hymn in
either English or Tsimshean, which before long I was
enabled to render in Haida. This was followed by a
prayer, after which I delivered the message, assisted by
the use of the illustration. I had strange congregations in
those days. Sometimes on the arrival of other tribes a
large number of stalwart Haidas would saunter in from
the dance or potlatch, all gorgeous in paint and feathers,
with bear skins or blankets wrapped round them, and
would squat down on the floor. Lighting their pipes,
they would discuss me and my action in loud tones, with
an occasional burst of laughter. It was but a repetition
of the criticism to which the first great missionary to the
Gentiles was subjected when his more cultured hearers
exclaimed, " What wiU this babbler say ? " And if I was
not clearly understood, I realised at least that I was preparing them for the reception of the message which would
yet change these savage sea rovers into civilised Christian
citizens, yea, and impart to them a claim to citizenship
in the " city which hath foundations, whose builder and
maker is God."
" I had much seed to sow, said one ; I planned
To fill broad furrows, and to watch it spring,
And water it with care.   But now the hand
Of Him to Whom I sought great sheaves to bring
Is laid upon His labourer, and I wait
Weak, helpless, useless, at His palace gate."
—Frances R. Havergal.
IT was about this time that I began to realise the
necessity for a building in which to conduct regular
services. There was an old dance-house standing in
a central position in the camp, which was constructed in
the regular Haida style, having a pit or amphitheatre in
the centre, surrounded by three tiers, rising one above the
other until level with the ground on which the outer walls
stood. As this building had faUen into disuse, and had
become dilapidated, I was enabled to purchase it for a small
sum, including the site. I succeeded in inducing a number
of young men to assist me in preparing this structure, by
paying them in kind, which they preferred to money payments. Powder and shot, tobacco and matches, hard ship
biscuits and rice, also blankets—these articles could always
command labour, being just such things as they required
in their hunting expeditions. AU the northern Haidas are
skilful canoe-makers, consequently they are familiar with the
use of the " hadha." This is a native adze made by themselves from any piece of iron or steel, which they temper,
shape, and sharpen, and then lash it to a wooden handle.
A similar weapon was used by them in fighting, and was
really their tomahawk. Prior to the introduction of iron and
steel amongst them, their adzes, hammers, and axes were all of
stone, which were in use up to a comparatively recent date.
I had the thick split cedar planking taken down piece
by piece, and adzed on the inner side and edges, thus
making them like newly prepared boards, and at the same
time fitting them more closely. In doing this they had
their adzes injured and blunted repeatedly by coming into
contact with numerous bullets imbedded in the plank, the
evidences of the frequent attacks made on the inmates in
the past. I had yet another difficulty to contend with.
Several large carved poles stood in front of the building,
of which one stood on either side of the door. These were
beginning to decay near the base, and my workmen did '
not improve them while passing in and out, so that the
decaying forms of the dead encased in them could now
be seen. As these were the remains of chiefs and others
of high rank, I could not remove them with impunity.
In order to avoid the necessity of passing in and out
through them, I had a door opened towards the rear of
the building for my own convenience, and I congratulated
myself on the improved arrangement.
But my congratulations were premature. For not many
days afterwards, after a stormy night;, when opening my
door the foUowing morning, I was startled at receiving a
smart lash as though from a whip on the side of my face.
Looking up to see the cause, I perceived that the wind
had blown the side out of a mortuary chest which was
supported by two great posts, and in this receptacle lay
the skeleton of a woman, the long black hair of which was
being blown to and fro by the wind as it hung down
fully three feet from the scalp. I was startled by this
unexpected discovery, and speedily beat a retreat in order
to avoid a repetition of the punishment which the unknown
was unconsciously inflicting upon me. I called two slaves,
and giving them a bark mat, secretly instructed them to dig
a grave not far from the spot at midnight, and then to
remove the remains from the elevated platform it occupied
and inter it. They at first hesitated, fearing that whoever
claimed relationship might shoot them if discovered, but by
my promising them employment they consented. Thus my
doorway was again rendered accessible to me as before.
While completing the renovation of the old dance-house
with a view to public services for religious instruction, my
plans were well-nigh upset by the action of one of my workmen. This man, who was the member of a family which bore
the character of being amongst the fiercest of the tribe, was
anxious for a supply of tobacco. I accordingly handed him
an order on the storekeeper to supply him with the same.
On reaching the blockhouse which served as a store he
found it closed. He proceeded to the shanty occupied by
the storekeeper and presented my paper. The storekeeper
declined to return to the store to supply him, and the
Haida, becoming angry, rushed out uttering threats, and
banged the door with such force that it almost gave way.
This act so infuriated the storekeeper, who was also a man
of a violent passion, that he seized a stick and rushed out
after him. Fortunately I had only just returned to my
hut, and saw the two closing in a deadly struggle. The
white man endeavoured to strike again and again, but the
Haida avoided his blows with cat-like agility, and, drawing
his hunting-knife from his belt, was watching his opportunity to use it upon his opponent when I rushed in
between them. Being fresh and eager I succeeded in
separating them, and hearing the angry shouts, my wife
came to my help. With her aid we induced the storekeeper to return to his shanty, whilst the Haida stood like
a tiger at bay staring after him and muttering " Mema-
loose, Memaloose," which is the Chinook for " Kill, Kill."
He permitted me to lead him to my hut, where I endeavoured
to calm him, and at the same time to warn him that should
anything happen to the storekeeper he would be held responsible, as I had witnessed what had occurred and had
heard his significant threat. I afterwards succeeded in
reconciling them, and the storekeeper confessed that he had
permitted his temper to overcome him. Had I not been
near, he would probably have lost his life in the fray, as
other Haidas were rushing to aid their tribesman.
It was at this time that we began to experience the
effects of the tainted atmosphere in which we were living.
Our eldest child was seized with fever, which turned out to be
an attack of typhoid. Anxious to prevent the overcrowding
to which we had been subjected, I constructed a half door
and hung it in position. This I fastened with a bolt so low
down that it could not be opened from without. This
simple contrivance debarred the usual inrush of visitors.
As they crowded around to endeavour to obtain admission, I pointed them to the sick child and explained as
best I could the position, which appeared to satisfy them.
Notwithstanding all our efforts the symptoms grew worse,
until we began to fear the worst. As the crisis approached
we stood by him at midnight, and believing him to be
dying, we commended him in prayer to our Heavenly
Father. His breathing had ceased and no pulse could be
felt, when suddenly a perspiration began to break out on
his forehead, and with a sigh almost inaudible the breathing slowly, and at first imperceptibly, returned. He had
passed the crisis, and from that time he gradually recovered.
Before he was convalescent, however, I was stricken down
myself with the same dread disease. As my symptoms
increased, fearing that I should become delirious, I instructed my wife as to the future treatment. It was well
I had done so, as shortly afterwards I became insensible to
my surroundings. While in this state a band of medicine
men, who had learned of my illness, came and demanded
admission. It was a critical moment. My wife knew that
should they succeed in effecting an entrance all hope of
recovery would be ended. They asserted that my illness
was caused by one of the evil spirits which had caused the
death of so many of the Haidas, and that they alone
possessed the power to expel it. The leading medicine
man, with his long hair rolled around a pair of horns, had
his medicine rattle and charms in a bag which he generally
carried when on his visits to the sick. His associates were
also similarly arrayed and prepared.
Finding that my wife would not admit them, they
attempted to force open the door, but I had expected
just such attempts, and had consequently constructed the
door strongly to resist such attacks. When they stretched
over to endeavour to withdraw the bolt she pushed them
off repeatedly. At length, uttering threats and denunciations of death against us, they withdrew, and my life was
saved. For had they succeeded in their attempts to enter
they would have danced around and over me, accompanying their wild cries with their rattles, until I had succumbed.
Or even had I survived such treatment and recovered, my
influence would have been lost, as they would have proclaimed throughout the camps that they had saved the
white man's life by casting out the demon of his disease.
In a few days the crisis came, just as it had in the case
of our child, and accompanied by the same symptoms.
The delirium passed away and the fever gradually subsided,
leaving me weak and low. How I longed for an egg or a
little milk, but neither could be had. When in this state
my friend the storekeeper ventured to look in on me. He
kept away through fear, because he believed the word of
the medicine men, who had proclaimed my approaching
end throughout the camp, and in consequence he informed
my wife that my death was certain. But notwithstanding
medicine men and false friends I could cry out in faith,
" I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the
Lord," as now I realised I should recover.
In response to my appeal for a little fresh meat, he
engaged to kill a pig provided I should take half of it,
which I gladly consented to do under the circumstances.
The following day he sent it over, and pleased at the prospect of a little fresh meat I seized my walking-stick and
determined to take my first walk after my illness. The
snow lay lightly on the ground, and I had just reached the
confines of the encampment when I witnessed a sight from
which I fled. The three remaining swine had dragged a
corpse from its rude covering, and were engaged in devouring the remains. I returned to the hut, where I found
dinner prepared. I was invited to partake of the longed-
for dish, but I turned from it with loathing. When
pressed for the reason of my refusal I was compelled to
disclose the secret. The pork was quickly removed, and a
passing Haida was presented with the entire supply, cooked
and uncooked. No doubt he invited his friends to partake
of the treat. But in such case I fear the old proverb that
" ignorance is bliss " would not apply, as they must have
known that these unclean animals were cannibals of the
most degraded type.
A few days after this event a large fleet of Haidas
arrived from several other encampments to attend a great
" potlatch." As they came by special invitation a great
reception had been prepared for them. As their large
canoes approached the shore, each propelled by from twelve
to twenty rowers arranged in equal numbers on either side
of the canoes, a skilful display of paddling was given.
Now they made the stroke as one man, without causing
the slightest sound or raising a ripple on the water, indicating the stealthy manner in which they approached their
foes in, a night attack; then at a given signal, with a loud
war whoop they dashed their paddles deep into the water,
causing the foam to fly, whilst the canoes were almost lifted
by the stroke as they made a united dash upon their supposed enemy. Instantly this was changed to a paean of
triumph, whilst they kept in perfect time to the chant
with their paddles; and Jastly, they swept shorewards,
imitating the flight of the weary eagle by two strokes and
a rest between, alternated with three strokes and a pause.
This exhibition was ended by every two oarsmen crossing
their paddles in mid-air over the centre of their canoes as
they touched the shore.
The chiefs and leading men occupied the seats between
the rowers, whilst the women and children, with their
provisions and bedding, were accommodated on the bottom
of the canoes, thus ballasting their light craft. Several of
the leading canoes had small cannon mounted on the bows.
From these a salute was fired on nearing the shore; but
the concussion was too strong for one of the canoes, as it
caused it to split almost from bow to stern, and would
have proved serious had they not been so close to land.
The occupants remained quite composed although the water
was rushing in, and they succeeded in beaching the canoe
just as she was sinking. But as the chanting and dancing
were well sustained by the occupants of the other canoes
this accident passed almost unperceived by the others.
Many of the dancers wore head-dresses and wooden
masks of various patterns, but in every case the mask or
head-dress indicates the crest to which the wearer belongs.
Thus the masks and head-dresses worn by the members of
the eagle crest bear a resemblance to the eagle either by
the likeness of the nose to the eagle's hook-shaped beak, or
by the white eagle feathers surmounting the mask. The
members of the finback-whale crest wear masks surmounted
by a large fin; whilst the wolf, the bear, and the frog are
all well represented by the members of the crests of which
these are the signs.
It is not a little significant, however, to find how very
closely the use of the ermine skin by the Indians of all
the tribes on the north-west coast approaches the use of
it in the state dresses of royalty and nobility in England.
The higher the rank of an Indian chief, the greater the
number of ermine skins he was entitled to wear attached
to his shikeed, or dancing dress, and hanging from it down
his back, in rows of three to six in width. The Master of
the Robes in the English court is careful that neither duke,
earl, or knight may adorn himself with more ermine skins
than is permitted by court etiquette. And, as it cannot
be said that the Indians have adopted the custom from
the whites, and we hesitate to admit that the whites have
acquired it from the Indians, we can only recognise in it
the similarity of human nature, and admit that here,
indeed, the extremes meet in the tastes and adornments
of the highest civilisation and the gay trappings of the
untutored Indian chief.
A great feast had been prepared for the visitors in
the houses of the leading chiefs, and to this they led,
preceded by the dancers. On entering, great fires of logs,
piled several feet in height, diffused a glow of heat around,
and the blaze was intensified by slaves pouring seal-oil
and olachan grease in large quantities upon the fires. The
visitors having been seated according to rank, their entertainers entered arrayed in their dancing costume, of which
the most attractive objects were the dudjung, or dancing
head-dress, and the shikeed, or dancing robe. The crown-
shaped receptacle on the top of each of the dancing headdresses was well filled with the swan and eagle's down,
and, as they danced in and around before their guests,
they bowed before each, causing a shower of the down
to fall on each guest, a most significant mark of both
peace and honour. The dance was accompanied by the
music of the chant and drum, whilst the words of the
chant expressed their pleasure and the rank and record of
their guests. When the Ithdanua, or down, had thus been
scattered, their feasting began.
It was not uncommon to place a small canoe filled with
berries, preserved in grease and mixed with snow, before a
number of their guests. The chief dishes were served up
in wooden bowls and trenchers, skilfully carved, and inlaid
with   mother-of-pearl.     Dried salmon and  halibut  with AN INDIAN SUB-CHIEF IN FULL DRESS
Mantles such as this were woven by the Indians from the hair of the mountain goat, and
were very costly.   Ermine skins adorn the head-dress.  SICKNESS AND TRIAL
olachan grease followed, with boiled seaweed (dulse), also
mixed with fish and grease, and, lastly, as dessert, a bitter-
tasting berry (hugutlite), beaten up with Water until it
became a mass of froth. This was eaten in a peculiar
manner, with long, narrow wooden spoons (shaped like
miniature oars or paddles), being pressed out of the mouth
and quickly drawn in again in order to expel part of the
air with which it is mixed. This is attended with an
unusual sound, and in endeavouring to imitate and execute
this native custom, the white man, if a guest, is seldom
successful, and must be prepared to be greeted with salvos
of laughter at his failure.
The first item in the programme of this great" potlatch "
to which these visitors had been invited was the erection
of a great totem or crest pole. Amongst all the tribes
on the coast, none surpassed the Haidas in the construction
and erection of these totems. In this, and in the designing and finishing of their large war canoes, the Haida
Indians excelled all the coast tribes, whether in British
Columbia or on the Alaskan coast. They had one natural
advantage, in the very fine cedar trees which were to be
found on their islands.
A tree, proportionate to the dimensions of the totem
required, and free from large knots or blemishes, was first
selected, roughly prepared, and conveyed to the camp.
Then the chief of a crest differing from that of the chief
for whom the totem was to be carved, was invited to enter
upon the work. If he was not sufficiently skilful himself,
he called one or more of the most skilful of his 'own
crest to assist him in the undertaking. Having received
instructions as to the various figures. to be represented,
their number and order, proceeding from base to top, the
workmen commenced operations.
In the carving of a totem pole very often a legend or
tradition in which the ancestors of the chief and his crest
were the chief actors is selected, and thus the totem is but
an illustration of the legend. In some villages may be seen
totems surmounted by figures resembling men wearing tall
hats. This indicates that the owner's ancestor or ancestors
first saw the white men who are here represented. Standing by a skilled carver on one occasion who had been
engaged to carve a very elaborate totem, I was surprised at
the apparently reckless manner in which he cut and hewed
away with a large axe as though regardless of consequences.
" Where is your plan ? " I inquired. " Are you not afraid
to spoil your tree ? " " No," he replied; " the white man,
when about to make anything, first traces it on paper, but
the Indian has all his plans here," as he significantly pointed
to his forehead.
Having cut out the outline roughly with the axe, he
then proceeded to finer workmanship with an adze, and on
my last visit I found him polishing off a perfect pattern
with the dried skin of the dogfish, which is much more
effective for this purpose than sand-paper. When it is
remembered that formerly all such work as the preparation
and carving of their totem poles, the construction of their
well-proportioned canoes, and the building and decoration
of their dwellings, were executed with stone tools, it will
appear less surprising that they can accomplish such work
now with the improved tools and implements which the
white man has introduced. The chief or chiefs who are
engaged to carve the totem or crest pole are not paid until
the " potlatch" takes place. They are then rewarded,
not according to their time and labour, but rather according
to their rank and the amount of property at the disposal of
the chief for distribution to those who have been invited.
But there were yet other customs amongst the Haidas
connected with the " potlatch." One of these was tattooing.
I had occasion to enter a lodge one morning shortly before
a " potlatch " took place, and was not a little surprised to
see all around the lodge men in every attitude undergoing
this painful operation, some on the chest, some on the
back, and others on the arms, all being tattooed with the
figures peculiar to their own crest, which in this instance
was the eagle and the beaver, as they belonged to the
eagle crest.
The operators were evidently quite expert in their work.
Each of them had a number of thin strips of wood of
various widths, in which needles were firmly fixed as teeth
in a comb. Some of these sticks had but two or three
needles, others more, according to the width of the pattern
or device to be marked. The peculiar sound caused by
such a number all pricking the skin of their subjects caused
quite a nervous sensation in the bystander. Blood was
flowing freely from many of them, and that it was rather a
painful process was evidenced by their faces. Many were
smoking, thus seeking to conceal their misery and console
their feelings with the pipe. Others had their lips firmly
compressed, but not one by either sign or sound indicated
the painfuh-ess of the process. That the subsequent suffering when inflammation had set in was severe I discovered
by a number of them coming to me for some application
to subdue the sweUing and soothe the irritation. This was
caused by the poisonous colours which had been rubbed in.
Not a few of the Haidas had their faces tattooed when
I first went amongst them, and these reminded me strongly
of the Maories of New Zealand, but the few of these who
now remain are ashamed of the disfigurement, especially on
embracing Christianity. When the " potlatch " took place
these men who had been thus tattooed were rewarded by
receiving blankets or other property proportionate to the
honour which they had thus rendered to the chief. But
yet worse practices were sometimes resorted to in the erection of the totem at a great "potlatch." It was not
uncommon formerly, when the opening had been dug out
in which the totem was to be erected, to bind one or more
slaves, either male or female, and cast them alive into the
opening. Then, amidst shouting and clamour which drowned
the cries of the victims, the great totem was hoisted up into
position by hundreds of helpers and the opening around
it filled in with stones and earth firmly beaten down.
On one occasion a young woman, a slave, fled to our
mission over one hundred miles in order to escape such a
terrible fate. The night before the day fixed for her
destruction she succeeded in launching a small canoe unaided and unperceived, and fled. The punishments and
privations which she had passed through had prostrated
her, and although we used every means to restore her to
health she succumbed to her injuries three weeks after her
arrival. There was hope in her death, as we had with the
assistance of another freed slave endeavoured to lead her to
a saving knowledge of the Truth. With the introduction of
the teachings of Christianity and the advance of civilisation'
the <( potlatch" has been denuded of all its worst associations.
When the day for the great event has arrived all the
property is brought forth and exhibited in heaps within
and without the lodge. The guests are then arranged
around according to the rank, their first or inner row being
formed of the leading chiefs. Behind them sit the sub-chiefeJ
or those of the second rank. Next appear the "haade"
or free men. These are the counsellors to the chiefs. The
next rows are arranged according to the social position in
the tribe. On the outside are assembled the slaves. The
presiding chief then delivers an introductory speech, recounting the rank and deeds of his ancestors and his own
exploits and position amongst them. Not infrequently
this opportunity is used to resent an insult either actual
or supposed, or to inflict one. The chiefs assistants, beingf
sub-chiefs of his own crest, then call out the name of each
recipient and the amount and description of property given.
Often large numbers of slaves were first given away, then
copper shields, furs, blankets either in bale or numbered,
guns, rifles, canoes, and latterly, as currency has become
more common amongst them, both gold and silver is dis-
tributed; also whole pieces of print, white calico, and
flannel. These latter are generally torn up in pieces and
strips, and given away to the rank and file, as also blankets,
&c. At one of the latest "potlatches," where I was permitted
to enter and conduct a short service, I observed near to
where I stood a wash-basin nearly fuU of silver, in one-
dollar and half-dollar pieces, for the " potlatch." Much has
been said and written, both for and against this custom,
principally by outsiders who are unacquainted with the
social life of the Indians. Having resided amongst them for
three decades, and learned their languages, Tsimshean, Haida
and Nishka, I can testify from knowledge and experience
that the " potlatch " of to-day is not what it was in the past.
The same may be said of the heathenism of the present as
compared with that of a quarter of a century ago. Both
have been reformed by the influence of Christianity. The
tearing and devouring of dogs and human flesh was then
almost a nightly practice in every heathen camp. Now
it is unknown. Slavery has been abolished. Sorcery is
ashamed to declare itself, and the medicine man has been
denuded of all his terrors.
Notwithstanding, the « potlatch " is a hindrance to the
advancement of the Indian. The tribe or band which
follows it cannot become thrifty or prosperous. It is a
barrier to industry. Note the number of weeks lost
to the Indians when they assemble for the " potlatch."
During this time they are almost constantly engaged "in
gambling. How are they clothed ? For the most part
they have only a dirty blanket thrown around them, and
their habits are filthy, very seldom attempting to wash
themselves or clo-fching. The heathen " potlatch " is incompatible with Christianity and civilisation. It tends to
demoraHse and degrade its foUowers, and it has been proved
that the civiHsed and industrious Indian earns and expends
five times more than the devotee who wastes his life in the
practice of the " potlatch."
" He who 'mid the raging billows
Walked upon the sea,
Still can hush our wildest tempest
As on Galilee."
TOWARDS the end of March there was a stir in the
camp. The canoe builders, who had been working
on their canoes ever since the close of the great
" potlatch," had finished their work, and all along the
shore in front of the camp their canoes lay ready for
launching. Some of them were large, some of medium
size, and some small, ranging from fifty feet in length and
six and a half feet beam, down to half this size and less.
The largest were for ocean travelling and freight, and
resembled the old war canoes; whilst those of medium
size were used for hunting the fur seal and sea otter. All
were perfect in outline and beautiful in construction. The
late Admiral Prevost once remarked to me, when looking at
a large Haida canoe, that it was as perfect in outline as an
" Atlantic greyhound," which is the term commonly used
to describe the large and fast steamers now running between Europe and America. And yet the Haidas were
able before the advent of the white men to turn out their
canoes as perfectly with their stone tools as they do now
with steel.
During my stay on the islands a large war canoe was
found in the forest almost completed, with the stone adzes,
hammers, and chisels as left in it.    It was concluded by
the Haidas who found it that it was being constructed
when the first great smallpox epidemic visited the islands,
and all the workmen had perished. The stumps of some
trees may still be pointed out which bear the unmistakable
marks of having been cut down with the stone axe of the
In their canoes then, thus prepared, the Haidas were
about to cross to the shores of the mainland. Their object
was not, like that of the past, to kill and plunder and
enslave, but rather to visit the great olachan fishery on
the Naas River and procure a supply of the oil extracted
from this little fish.
As my wife was suffering from a painful ailment, and I
was anxious for a change on my own account as well as for
our child after our recovery from typhoid, we determined
to embark with them. Though our first winter had been
a most trying time, yet we were not discouraged. We
had succeeded, in the face of much opposition, especially
from the medicine men, in establishing the Mission. I
had gained an influence with several of the leading chiefs,
two of whom had permitted me to conduct services in their
lodges, which were the largest in the camp, and I had
made considerable progress in acquiring a knowledge of the
language. The fears of the captain of the steamer which
had brought us over five months previously had proved
unfounded, as instead of being murdered we were about to
take our passage with the Haida fleet instead of waiting
for his return. So, Hke the first great missionary, we were
enabled " to thank God and take courage."
As the weather at this season of the year is usually
rough and uncertain, consultations were held night and
morning by the weather-wise among them, and at length,
on the 29th of March, early in the morning some thirty
large canoes started. The Haidas are as careful as courageous in their adventures on the ocean, and so meet with
but few accidents in their canoe voyages. Before starting
on a voyage they exchange their children and other relatives with one another for the occasion. This binds them
together in a common interest, and unites them in the
hour of danger when overtaken by a storm.
We started with a favourable wind, and had travelled
through Dixon's Entrance to the north of the islands for
some thirty miles, when suddenly we saw the leading canoes
turning and heading for the shore near the north-eastern
point of the islands known as « Rose Point" or " Rose
Spit." All the fleet followed the leadership of those in
front, and made for the shore also. On landing explanations were demanded by those who were anxious to proceed
as to why the leaders had changed their course ? Edenshew, the chief whose canoe had first turned, explained that
he had seen a small cloud moving rapidly from the norttn|
east, which had decided his action; and as they aU knew
that Edenshew was no mean authority in such matters,
further explanations were unnecessary.
We had embarked with chief Weah in his large canoe.
He was himself both steersman and captain. He no longer
regarded me with suspicion. I had attended his aged
mother, who could not have been far short of one hundred-
years old when she died. Her hair was as white as wool
with age, a most unusual feature in an Indian. At her
own request her friends had prepared a box-shaped coffin
for her body long before she died, and this was placed
alongside where she lay. I had acquired sufficient knowledge of the language to enable me to point her to Him
who is " the Way, the Truth, and the Life." After this,
notwithstanding the opposition of the medicine men, he
had permitted me to conduct an occasional service in his
great lodge. Probably, it had dawned upon him that after
all I had not come too late, as he had asserted at my first
visit. On this occasion he was accompanied by his two
nieces, and the husband of the eldest, also two of his
slaves, and our party, making a total of ten.
The upper horizontal club was carved by a Haida from a whale's jawbone. That beneath it is made by a Nishka Indian from an elk's
horn. Clubs and double-headed daggers are on each side; between
them are scalp caps and bead-work shields.
The mantle was used only when dancing on state occasions.   Above the
mantle is seen a chiefs head-dress, used at the same time.  IN PERILS BY WATERS
All was now bustle and excitement along the beach;
discharging their freight, hauling up their canoes, erecting
sails for shelter, and gathering wood for camp-fires, engaged
the energy of all. After which, when all had settled down
in groups around large fires, the cooking and preparation
of the evening meal was proceeded with. We feasted on
the flesh of the fur seal which some of the tribe had shot
during the day. It is not so oily as the ordinary hair
seal, and is therefore more palatable.
We had had a rather rough passage, and the children's
caps had been carried off by the wind, as well as some
loose articles, so that we were not sorry to land. I conducted a short service on the shore before aU turned in
for the night. It was a novel experience for the Haidas.
The following morning the wind was fair but strong, which
caused a heavy surf, and rendered embarkation difficult.
One canoe, in endeavouring to get off, was smashed to
pieces; the occupants with difficulty were rescued, but all
their goods and effects were lost. They were left standing on the shore in dire distress, and nothing remained
for them but to walk back again thirty miles to the
nearest camp.
I saw that our canoe was Hkely to meet a similar fate,
so, calling on two slaves and Macaie to assist me, we rushed
into the surf, two of us on either side of the canoe, and
held on to it, the incoming waves, as they rolled shoreward,
lifting us with the canoe, but as the waves receded we were
enabled to steady the subsidence of the canoe on the beach.
Hastily embarking our party and effects, we watched our
opportunity, and pushed out on the crest of a wave as it
receded, and thus escaped the fate of our fellow voyagers.
I was wet up to the waist, and, being unable to divest
myself of my wet clothing, I wrapped a rug around me,
and, seizing a paddle, I pulled vigorously in order to prevent
a chill, as I had not quite recovered from the effects of
the fever. But as the water had been intensely cold, I
was seized with a severe cramp which lasted for about half
an hour.
We continued to paddle for fourteen hours, when a good
breeze sprang up, which increased to half a gale, and caused
us to ship some water owing to the waves which broke
over us, and this kept one of the slaves busy hailing it out.
We reached the outer islands long past midnight, all weary,
exhausted, and wet. Fortunately the children had fallen
asleep, which rendered them unconscious of their misery.
Owing to the heavy sea which had been running during
the afternoon, all were so dizzy that we had to crawl up
from the canoe on all fours. We kindled a fire, and I
hastened to prepare some hot tea, but before it was ready
all were sound asleep.
The following morning being Saturday, we re-embarked
and, with a fine day and a favouring breeze, reached
Fort Simpson at about 6 p.m., having been out just three
days in making the passage. Finding no surgical aid
available at Fort Simpson, I was compelled to perform a
small operation, under which my wife feU away in a faint,
but instant relief was afforded, and a good night's rest
gained. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison, who were then in charge
at the Fort, showed us every kindness, and under the care
of this lady my wife rapidly regained strength and spirits.
The foUowing day being Sunday, I conducted a Tsimshean service by special request in the Methodist Church,
as the resident missionary was absent. A large number of
my Haidas were present. This was the first occasion on
which the Tsimsheans were addressed in their new church
by a white missionary speaking to them in their own
tongue, as their own missionary had not yet acquired their
language sufficiently to speak without an interpreter. In
the afternoon I conducted an open-air service for the
Haidas on the shore in front of the Fort, a large number
of Tsimsheans being also present. Here, on the very spot
where they had formerly met in deadly strife in the con-
flicts in the past, they were now united in learning the
message of Him whose advent was first announced with
1 peace on earth and good will to men." On the following day we embarked for Metlakahtla, where we received a
hearty welcome, though all were surprised at our having
made the passage by canoe so early in the year.
Thus our first winter among the Haidas had been completed, and we had proved the promise of His presence,
I Lo, I am with you all the days." In much weakness we
had raised the banner of the Cross amongst the Haidas.
We realised that the seed sown in weakness would yet be
raised in power, and in this faith I at once commenced to
make preparations to return as soon as possible, and erect
a Mission-house on the islands. The remembrance of
what we had endured in the " hut" during the preceding
winter was a sufficient stimulus to rouse me to action.
But first I resolved to visit the Indians gathered at the
olachan fishery on the lower Nass River, whither the
Haidas had also gone. Here I renewed my acquaintance
with the Tsimsheans, among whom I had laboured for
several years. Here also I had the pleasure of meeting a
brother missionary, the Rev. R. TomHnson, and his wife,
who had proved herself a faithful missionary and helpmeet
to her husband in the Nishka Mission.
As we had no Mission-house then at the fishery, I spent
my time amongst them, visiting from camp to camp,
conducting services, and prescribing medicine for the sick.
On my return to Metlakahtla, I engaged a Tsimshean
Indian who could square timber and otherwise assist me in
the erection of the proposed Mission-house' on the islands.
As the Stikeen gold excitement was just then arising, we
found that the steamer was on her way to Wrangle at the
mouth of the Stikeen River with a large number of miners
anxious to reach the new Eldorado in time to avail themselves of the favourable season.
Wrangle had been a large encampment of the Tlingit
Indians, of which Kinnanook was the chief; but the arrival
of a large number of miners and of those of doubtful character who generahy follow such a rush, had not tended to
benefit the tribe. Like the chiefs of many of the coast
tribes, Kinnanook derived much profit from the inland Indians on the upper reaches of the river. These were not
permitted to come down to the coast to trade their furs,
but the chiefs near the mouth of the river of which Kinnanook was the head, supplied them with such articles as they
most needed, and took their furs in exchange. From this
the coast chiefs reaped a large revenue, as the furs from
the interior are always superior to the furs obtained on the
coast, and secure higher prices, -#}&#;
This is especially true of the marten, the mink, and the
silver fox. The advent of the miners, and consequent
opening up of the country, had effectually changed all this,
as stores for the supply of the miners had been started on the
upper river, and here the Indian hunters received a fair
market value for their furs; and consequently their income
had improved whilst that of the coast tribes had proportionately diminished. In addition, the introduction of
strong drink, with all its attendant evils, had degraded
many of the tribe, so that they were but little better than
the Indians I had seen in the vicinity of the large white
The United States Government had also stationed a
garrison at this point, as also at Tongass and Sitka, and
these, though preserving law and order along the Alaskan
coast, had not tended to improve the moral condition of
the Indians.
Finding that our steamer had to wait some hours for
a party of miners expected from the interior, we decided
to conduct a service. This was held in the head chiefs
house, and we were encouraged to see the Commandant of
the garrison present, accompanied by one of his officers.
They evinced much interest in the efforts to evangelise
and elevate the Indian tribes. Afterwards, together with
a Methodist missionary who was a fellow-passenger on the
same steamer, we held an English service for the miners
in a building known as the " Dance House." It was well
filled by a most attentive audience, and at the close quite
a number of those brave pioneers pressed forward to say
good-bye. Several of them expressed their thanks,
stating it might be their last opportunity, as they were
going to an unknown region, and probably some of them
would succumb to sickness and exposure there.
The Presbyterian Church of the United States not long
after this established a Mission here, which Was, I believe,
the first Mission begun by the Churches of the United States
in Alaska. The Alaskan coast tribes from Taku and
Chilkat had begged for teachers some years previously
during their trading visits to our Mission at Metlakahtla,
and we had forwarded their petition, and pointed out their
need in a letter to the American Board of Missions. This
letter was signed by Messrs. Duncan, Tomlinson, and myself, as we were the only missionaries then labouring on
the North-West coast.
As yet the Churches of the United States had not
realised their responsibOity and opportunity regarding
Alaska. Now all the Churches of the States are labouring
together in the work of evangeHsation, and the United
States Government has assisted their efforts in the work
of education, and a large central Industrial Boarding
School for Indian children has long been established at
Sitka, and a similar institution had been established at
Wrangle for girls, under Mrs. McFarlane, who was the
first superintendent. It was a very necessary step in
order to rescue them from the temptations with which the
new order of things now surround them.
This institution was ably conducted by the lady missionaries, who did a good work in it, but after some years
it was destroyed by fire. The names of Dr. Sheldon
Jackson, Mrs. McFarlane, and the Rev. S. H. Young and
D. F. McFarlane, with other courageous and self-denying
labourers, deserve to be recorded as the pioneers of missionary work in Alaska. In connection with the Protestant
Episcopal Church of the States, the labours of Bishop Rowe
and his missionary staff are well known.
On my return to Massett, my first object was to select
a suitable site for our proposed Mission-house. Reluctantly
I was compeUed to pass over the best sites, owing to the
remains of the dead which were to be iound scattered over
the cleared land around the camp. We selected a site on
a raised plateau on the edge of the forest behind the
village, and succeeded in inducing a number of the young
men to assist us in clearing it.
But the Haidas were not familiar with regular work,
and we had to be content with an occasional spurt. I
succeeded, however, in persuading some of them to procure
me a raft of cedar logs, and, having provided myself with
a whip saw, I constructed a saw-pit, and taught them how
to saw every log just down the centre, having first hewn
off two sides. In building I erected these, all being made
equal in length, with the sawn sides turned inwards, thus
giving me a smooth surface on the interior. By first
placing the wall-plate in position, each upright was spiked
to this, and thus my walls stood firm.
I was unfortunate, however, in my sawyers, as one after
another they were seized with haemorrhage, caused probably
by the continual up and down motion of the arms acting
upon the lungs. The medicine men were not slow in
making use of this to my disadvantage, by assuring them
that it was owing to my sorcery, as I was endeavouring to
kill them.
With the aid of my Tsimshean, who was a good workman
and a faithful Christian, I encouraged them to resume
work.    I had some difficulty in persuading them to rest
on Sunday.    Hitherto every day had been alike to them,
and as my Dance House had now been transformed and
prepared for our services, I was anxious to assemble as many
as I could for instruction. Accordingly I had a flagstaff
erected, and, having provided myself with two flags, one
small and one large, I publicly announced that the smaller
ensign would be displayed on the Saturday, whilst the large
flag would be hauled up on the day of rest.
From this, Saturday- became known as "Sunday ga
hwitzoo," or "little Sunday" whilst the Sunday proper
became known as " Shantlan shanzotang" or " the rest
day." It is interesting to note in this connection that
the Tsimsheans had learned to designate Sunday as " hali
kanootk" or " the dress day" prior to the advent of the
missionary; but under Christian teaching Sunday is known
by a term similar in meaning to the Haida, viz. "hali
squait-ka-sha," or "the day of rest." In the same way
the Tsimsheans had acquired from the employees of the
Hudson's Bay Company the idea that Christmas was the
great dress day, or " Welaixim hali-kanootk," and from the
Tsimsheans the Haidas had learned of this. Consequently
my congregation at the first Christmas service on Queen
Charlotte Islands was the most singular I have ever ministered to.
As the Dance House had been fully prepared for service,
I sent out messengers to announce the service, and informed
them of the occasion. I had induced two fine young chiefs,
who had evinced their desire to help me, to act as stewards
or sidesmen, and to preserve order.
As the Haidas began to crowd in, I was surprised at the
strange garments in which many of them were clothed. A
sub-chief entered arrayed in a dressing-gown with a large
old-style pattern on it, reminding one of the garbs worn
by the victims of the Inquisition when proceeding to an
auto da fi* He was foUowed by his wife, with a bright
counterpane fastened around her by a girdle of rope. Next
my attention was attracted by musical sounds approaching,
and a young lad, the son of a leading chief, entered in a
harlequin's dress of many colours, trimmed around with
many small bells, which jingled and tinkled with his every
movement, and which attracted the attention of aU. The
next most striking figure was that of an old chief, gaunt
and of great stature, dressed in an admiral's uniform!
which was much too small for him. The sleeves of the
coat only extended below his elbows, whilst the epaulettes
stood out from his neck somewhat like a horse collar, and
the trousers only reached a little below his knees. On the
back of his head a tall beaver hat was fastened, to prevent
it from falling off, as it was also too small. He evidently
considered himself a most important parsonage, as he waited
till one of the attendants approached and conducted him
to a seat.
All shapes and colours of garbs were in evidence, especially naval and military uniforms of English and United
States patterns. I was reminded rather of a fancy dress
baU than of a congregation gathered for a religious service.
But the most striking figure was yet to come. The
building was crowded, and I had just stood up to commence the service, when the door was thrown open, and a
leading medicine man appeared, arrayed in a white surplice,
His long hair, significant of his craft, was rolled around a
pair of horns, which extended out from either side of his
head at the back, giving him a demoniacal appearance.
He advanced steadily, without looking to either side, and
made his way towards the platform on which I stood.
Suddenly it flashed upon me that he considered it his right
to occupy a place beside me, because of his robe of office.
To my great relief, however, he stopped short, and took his
seat just beside the platform.
With some difficulty I collected my thoughts, and proceeded with the service, which was indeed unique, whether
as regarded the building, the congregation, or the occasion.
They had obtained these dresses and uniforms by barter
with the southern tribes during their annual expeditions to
the south. The surpHce which the medicine man appeared
in had probably been stolen, and then sold to the Indians.
But these showed that they were beginning to realise the
necessity of something more suitable in which to array
themselves than a bearskin or a blanket. And I never saw
these again. Before the next Christmas came round, the
Haidas had become more enlightened in regard at least
to dress.
One of their objections to the reception of the truths of
Christianity was that it had impoverished the Indians who
had abandoned the "potlatch" and the old heathen customs, and had accepted it. "Formerly," I was told, "the
Tsimshean lodges were well furnished with boxes all filled
with blankets and other property, but now their chests are
empty. Our chests are weU filled now, but, if we become
Christians, we too shall be poor." " Yes," I replied, « but
the Tsimsheans have all good clothing now, both for
Sundays and dress days, and also for working in, and
their houses are more comfortable and better furnished.
Thb is better than heaping up blankets for the «potlateh.'
And after a < potlatch' you are really poor, for you have
given away all you had."
This lesson was learned, if not then, yet afterwards.
For the Haidas as heathen were the most cleanly in their
habits of any tribes on the coast. And as Christians they
are yet in the van.
153 0"
" So on I go not knowing, I would not if I might;
I'd rather walk in the dark with God,
Than go alone in the light.
I'd rather walk by faith with Him
Than go alone by sight."
—M. G. Brainard.
kUR Mission-house was fast approaching completion
when one day I was surprised to hear a cry of
"Yetz haada!" " Yetz haada!"—"A white man!1
" A white man! " Proceeding towards the shore, I saw a
white man disembark from a canoe which had just arrived.
I found he was a chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company.
He was on a tour of inspection, and on arrival at Fort
Simpson had heard that I had crossed several times to the
Queen Charlotte Islands by canoe, and, being anxious to
visit the post there, he decided to make the passage in the
same way. Accordingly he engaged a canoe and a crew
of six Tsimshean Indians, one of whom, a chief named
Shashak, was the owner of the canoe and captain.
As he informed me that he intended remaining about a
fortnight on the islands, I arranged to accompany him on
his return to the mainland, together with the Tsimshean
whom I had brought over. He was very much gratified
at this arrangement, as he had found it difficult to communicate with his captain and crew, not knowing anything
of their language, whilst they knew nothing of Chinook,
which is the trading jargon of the Company with the
Indians. He was present at the Haida services on the
154 a canoe catastrophe
Sunday, and was much surprised at the large congregation
of Haidas, and the order and attention manifested. But
my arrangement to accompany him on his return to the
mainland was frustrated in a remarkable manner. Whilst
seated at breakfast early one morning, suddenly a violent
gale burst in from the south-east. The first gust shook
our shanty, and carried away the chimney of our stove. I
called to my assistant to follow me, and rushed away to
have the rafters, which had been just erected, braced and
secured. But on reaching the ridge which afforded a view
of our new building, a yet stronger gust came which almost
lifted me off the ground, and instantly I saw the first pair
of rafters giving way and faHing against the next pair,
which in turn gave way in like manner, bearing down the
next, and with the increasing momentum of the weight and
wind the whole fourteen pair of rafters fell with a crash
which threatened the destruction of the entire building.
The Haidas came rushing up in large numbers, and with
them came my white friend and his Tsimshean crew. A
large shoal of dogfish had been stranded on the shore
during the preceding night, and the Haidas had been
engaged in gathering them in heaps when the gale struck,
and they had been attracted by the noise of the faHing
I came down from where I had been inspecting the
damage, and informed my friend that I had abandoned all
hope of embarking with him, as I could not now leave the
structure until the damage had been repaired. He was
greatly disappointed, and trusted my Haida workmen might
by themselves re-erect the faUen rafters. But this was not
the only injury, as in their faU they had strained the entire
framework and forced the lower waUs out of plumb. So
that I could not alter my decision. I Httle thought then
that life or death depended on it.    But so it proved.
Early on the morning of the foUowing Friday, he
embarked with his crew of six Tsimsheans. But they
155 a canoe catastrophe
never reached their destination. When about thirty-five
miles from Massett* the wind increased and veered round to
the south, raising a rough sea, and being anxious to sail
close to the wind in order to reach Dundas Island, they
hoisted a second sail on their canoe. This proved too
great a strain for the craft, and a strong gust of wind striking
it at the same moment with a heavy sea, the upper part of
the canoe was wrenched from the lower, and all the occupants
were left struggling in the waves.
I had caUed on him the evening before he embarked,
and endeavoured to dissuade him from starting, as I apprehended boisterous weather. My little aneroid, which had
often proved useful to me in my voyages, had been steadily
falling, and a bank of fog hung over the vaUey behind the
camp. This to the Haidas was always a sign of bad
But yet another cause had induced me to visit the
dweUing in which my friend and his crew were encamped.
He had been anxious to witness a Haida dance, as he informed
the officer in charge of the post that, judging from the influence I was gaining amongst them, there would be but little
hope of again witnessing such a performance in the future.
I regretted his action, for I knew all the baneful practices
of heathenism with which such a dance was associated. A
few responded, but these were paid, and amongst those who
declined to be present were his entire crew, with only one
Admiring their consistency, I invited my Tsimshean
workman to accompany me, and together we conducted an
evening service of prayer and praise. Before we had concluded, our friends returned from the dance, and beat a
hasty retreat when they found how we were engaged.
Probably none of them surmised that it would be their
last opportunity for such a service again on earth. But
may we not believe they were but tuning their hearts
to join in the spiritual praises of the inner sanctuary*
156 a canoe catastrophe
The only survivor informed me afterwards that when
tossed about on the waves, lashed to a piece of broken
canoe, the memories of that prayer meeting encouraged
him to struggle on, and he never abandoned hope.
It appeared, from this man's account of the wreck, that
after the canoe had broken up they all clung to it, and
succeeded in lashing the pieces together with the sail ropes.
Some of them were enabled to climb up on the broken
canoe and paddle a little, whilst the others (including the
Hudson's Bay Company's officer and the chief) clung to
the wreck with only their hands and shoulders out of the
Our white friend, Mr. WilHams, realising that they were
face to face with death, nobly rose to the occasion, and
called upon his crew to join him in song. And there
amid the storm they raised the song of praise which has
been so often used on similar occasions:
H Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high ;
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide*
O, receive my soul at last.'*
The Indians knew this old familiar hymn, as it was
among the earliest translated. He then took off his hat,
and, casting it upon the water, called upon the Indians
to join him in prayer. And whilst he prayed in English,
they responded in their own tongue, the Tsimshean; after
which he cried " Good - bye, boys," and, relinquishing
his hold upon the wreck, floated for a few moments and
then disappeared. Shortly after, the chief, whose canoe
it was, feU off exhausted with the waves which were washing over them, thus leaving five of them hanging on to the
broken canoe.
As the evening drew on, and the shades of night began
to gather, one of them became demented, and, notwithstanding the efforts of the others to prevent him, drew
his hunting-knife from his belt and severed the ropes
which held the wreck together. The canoe thereupon
fell asunder, three of the natives clinging to one part
(one of whom was the Indian who had thus divided them),
whilst the survivor, with another, drifted away upon the
other section of the broken canoe. For a short time each'
party could see the other now and again as they rose on
the crest of a wave, and then they were lost to sight, to
meet no more in this life.
We shall record the story of the survivor in his own
words: " My companion then began to talk at random, ,
and to pray to the sea-gulls which sometimes flew around
us, crying to them to save him. And although we were
far from land (only the mountains of Prince of Wales
Island, in Alaska, showing, as we were tossed up on the
waves), yet I had always a presentiment that I would be
saved. Some words that you spoke in the address you
gave us the evening before we embarked remained in my
memory and encouraged me to hope. I had lashed myself
to the wreck shortly after we had parted from our friends,
and it was well I did so, as, when night fell, I lost consciousness.
"Early in the morning I was aroused to consciousness
again by the warmth of the sun, and found myself stidl
lashed to the piece of the wreck which had been drifted on
a point of rock to the south of Prince of Wales Island. I
was in a stupor, and thought it was a dream. But as I
looked at my surroundings, and found that I was lashed to
the piece of broken canoe, my memory returned with aU the
terrible experiences of the preceding day, and I realised
that I was saved.
" Just then I was aroused from my reverie by a wave
of the rising tide washing over my feet, and I felt that the
sea might yet overtake and engulf me.    My first  effort
was to detach myself from the portion of the wreck, but I
found that my body was so sore and my hands and feet
so numb that I could not move them. But I struggled
resolutely, and at length succeeded in cutting the lashings
which bound me, and then inch by inch I crawled up the
rocks, barely keeping in advance of the rising tide, until I
reached the high-water mark, where I knew I was safe.
Here I found the skin and bones of a deer which had
been devoured by the wolves, and I seized a bone and
endeavoured to break it on the rocks in order to suck the
marrow, but I failed from weakness and exhaustion.
«I then gnawed the skin, and continued to do so until I
feU asleep with the exertion. I must have slept twenty-
four hours, for when I awoke it was morning again, and I
was so refreshed with the rest that I was enabled to creep
along the shore and seek for roots. These I ate, but my
thirst was so intense that I felt I should die unless I found
water. I found a little rain water in the hollow of a rock
above the tide-mark, which, though rendered brackish by
the spray, yet quenched my thirst. Soon I was enabled
to stand and walk a little, though with pain. My first
thought was to know how to move away from this barren
and lonely shore, and I determined to construct a raft with
| driftwood, of which there was an abundance in the bays
and fissures amongst the rocks. But whilst engaged in
cutting some green withes and branches with which to lash
my raft together, I stumbled against a small canoe which
was hidden away in the undergrowth. It had been left
there by the fur seal hunters, and I knelt down and thanked
God for it, as I felt it was left speciaUy for me."
Such was the story of his escape from the death which
befell all his friends and fellow-voyagers. He succeeded in
launching his canoe and provisioned himself with shell-fish,
and by coasting along in calm spells he reached an encamp-
I ment from which all the Indians were absent. He succeeded
in entering one of the houses by removing a board in the
wall, but failed to find any food. Continuing his journey^
he at length reached a village of the Tlingit Indians. A
number of them came down and looked at the strange
arrival with astonishment. And well they might. Almost
naked, with his face and arms skinned from the friction
with the broken canoe and the long immersion in the salt
water, his own friends could not have known him. As
their language was unknown to him, he inquired in the
Chinook jargon if any of them had been to Port Simpson,
lately ? They rephed in the affirmative, and, probably
suspecting the connection, informed him that the Tsimsheans were uneasy about six of their fellow-tribesmen who
had accompanied a white man in a voyage to the Queen
Charlotte Islands, but had not returned, though long overdue. He then informed them in a few words of the loss
of the eutire party except himself, and begged them to
convey him to Port Simpson, where they should be well
rewarded by his tribe.
They carried him up to their camp, and prepared food
for him. Whilst partaking of it he fainted away, and on
reviving he found a medicine man with his rattle and
enchantments practising over him. He beckoned to him
to cease, and informed them he had no faith in the heathen
customs as he was a Christian, but repeated his request to
be conveyed to his tribe. They acceded to his request,
and, strange to relate, he was brought to Port Simpson at
the same hour that I arrived at Metlakahtla, having passed
over the same route which they had attempted: 117 milet
in fifteen hours. We had had a narrow escape, as in a
rough sea, with a new and untried canoe, an alarm was
raised that our frail craft had split in faHing from a wave
into the trough of the sea. Instantly all was commotion,
and the sail was at once lowered and taken down, whilst
signals for help were made to the nearest canoe.
On their arrival we transferred some of our freight to
them, and examined our canoe for the damage.    It had
The two side-posts are solid and fixed in the ground. The horizontal piece is
hollow, and contains the square box into which the corpse has been tightly
The top figure represents an old-style canoe; the lower, a more recent design.   These
canoes were sometimes 72 feet long, and carved out of a single cedar trunk.  A CANOE CATASTROPHE
been caused by the strain on a weak spot where three
knots in the wood in a straight line rendered it liable to
split under a strain of weather or in a heavy sea. We
changed with our luggage to the other canoe, and continued
our journey, making our destination in record time; only
to find that our friends, who had left ten days in advance
of us, had never arrived. I had given them letters to
friends on the mainland, but they had not been delivered.
The foHowing morning, whilst making preparations to send
off a party of Indians to make inquiry along the coast, a
large canoe, fully manned, was seen approaching, and the
manner in which they were paddling betokened that they
carried important tidings. It was to inform me of the
arrival of the survivor, and of his report of the loss of all
who had accompanied him, and also to beg of me to return
with them, as they feared their friend would not survive
his lengthened exposure and hardships. They had learned
of my arrival from a canoe which had left Massett with
me, and as the rumour had spread that I had also been
lost, there was much excitement.
I accompanied them to Fort Simpson, and found the
survivor very weak and unable to speak above a whisper.
His face, arms, and legs were skinned and bruised with his
long exposure and struggle for Hfe.    I remained with him,
i and attended to him until he was out of danger.    Thus,
; owing to the damage wrought by the sudden gale of that
> June morning, which at the time was regarded as a mis-
j fortune, we were prevented from embarking on a journey
i which would most probably have proved fatal to us, as it
had to all the ill-fated occupants of the canoe with this
! striking exception.    And it was indeed fortunate that his
life was spared, as had all perished, the Tsimsheans would
: most surely have believed that they had perished at the
hands of their old foes, the Haidas; and thus strife and
j bitterness would have arisen which might have caused the
sacrifice of many Hves.
a Once Thy servants toil'd in rowing,
On the Galilean Sea,
Waves rose high, rough winds were blowing,
How they longed, O Lord, for Thee :
Lord, still toil thy sons and daughters,
On the world's dark troubled sea,
And 'mid roars of winds and waters,
Still they look and long for Thee."
HAVING prepared such things as were necessary for
the completion of the Mission-house, I seized the
opportunity of the return of the Haida fleet to
the islands to accompany them. There was but one canoe
that I cared to travel by, which was that belonging to
Chief Edenshew and his son Cowhoe, with several of his
slaves as crew. All the others were old canoes, which the
Haidas had taken in part exchange for the new canoes
which they had brought over from the Islands for sale or
barter. This they did regularly year by year. As they
gradually abandoned their marauding and slave-hunting
expeditions, they applied themselves principally to canoe
building, when not engaged in the pursuit of the sea otter
and fur seal. The fine red cedar trees which attain such
immense proportions on the Queen Charlotte Islands afforded
ample material for the development of their ability in the
building and construction of the finest canoes in the world.
It was this advantage and ability, united to their fierce and
warHke disposition, which made them the pirates of the
coast in the past. A whole fleet of new canoes are brought
over annually, and sold to the mainland Indians, one proviso
demanded in the payment being an old canoe or derelict,
in which to make the return voyage to the Islands. Having
obtained the old canoes, they set themselves to repair and
strengthen them, and then, filling them with cargoes of fish
grease and other provisions, they make the return journey
by coasting along the south-eastern shores of Alaska until
Cape Muzon or Chacon is reached. Here they encamp,
and await a favourable opportunity to sail across to the
north of the Queen Charlotte Islands. On the Sunday
before we started, as a large number of the Alaskan Indians
had arrived from Chilcat and Taku, I conducted services
for them and the Haidas in the Market-house. I spoke in
Tsimshean, whilst two interpreters rendered my words, one
in Thlingit and the other in Haida. Thus these three
nationalities—Tsimshean, Haida, and Tlingit—so long
separated and opposed to one another, were being drawn
together by the glorious Gospel, the key-note of which
from the beginning has been " Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will to men."
On reaching Fort Simpson we found a number of Haidas
there ready to accompany us, and so on the following
morning all embarked for the Alaskan shores. We reached
Tongas, the most south-easterly Indian encampment in
Alaska and close to Kannaganoot and Sitklan Islands, only
separated from them by the narrow channel which the
Alaskan Boundary Commission declined to make the dividing Hne at this point. Instead, it was ruled that the
channel to the eastward of these islands was the proper
outlet of Portland Canal, thus allotting these islands to
Alaska. But Wales and Pearce Islands, which had formerly been regarded as Alaskan, and were so marked on
Governor Trutch's maps of 1872, were by the same Commission secured to British Columbia. The Tlingit tribe of
Indians at Tongas were formerly numerous, and their chief
is mentioned in Captain Meares' Voyages as " Kinnanook,"
163 m
which is the same name by which his successor was known
when I visited it. This tribe was the first to find out the
way of manufacturing the " hootchino," or fire water. It
had been acquired by them from a soldier who had been
discharged, or who had deserted from the United States
garrison which had been stationed for a short time near
this point. Almost every Indian lodge in the camp possessed a still. This was generally made up of coal oil cans,
the worm being long hollow tubes of kelp, a species of
seaweed, joined together. In their drunken carousals recourse was generally had to their fire-arms to settle their
disputes. This chief, Kinnanook, with two of his men,
had been brought to us at Metlakahtla on one occasion
severely wounded. He had received three bullets in his
side, each of which had found a separate exit. For weeks
he was unable to lie down, and could only rest and sleep
by inclining forward on a form placed across his bed, which
was on the floor. When at length he was so far restored ■
as to be enabled to return to his tribe, he carried with him
quite a number of pieces of shattered bone which had been
extracted from his wounds. Being as yet a heathen, he
feared that any medicine man or sorcerer obtaining a scrap
of bone belonging to him could by witchcraft accompHsh I
his destruction. In consequence of the care and kindness
shown on that occasion, I was invited to his lodge, and hospitably entertained. His father, a venerable-looking old
chief named Andah, was still living. His hair was as white
as wool, which is but seldom seen among Indians. He was
evidently weU cared for by his daughter, whom I had known
previously, as she had made an unhappy union with a Nishka
chief, which caused her on one occasion to make an attempt
on her own life. This old chief, her father, died some
time after my visit. He had adopted the name of
" Ebbits," from the captain of some ship whose acquaintance
he had made and whom he admired. Before his death he
had a great totem pole prepared and erected, and on a
tablet near this totem is inscribed, " To the memory of
Ebbits, Head Chief of the Tongas, who died in 1880, aged
100 years." The Haidas who accompanied me numbered
some thirty canoes, and they were all received and lodged
in the camp. We arrived on the Saturday, and on the
foUowing day, being Sunday, I was enabled to conduct two
services and a Sunday school at mid-day. Here again I
had the Indians of three languages present. I preached in
Tsimshean and in Chinook. Knowing the serious mistakes
which some speakers have faUen into when using Chinook,
I have always declined to use it except when unavoidable.
It is related of the late Bishop of Columbia, Dr. Hills, that
on his first visit to Nanaimo the Indians assembled to meet
him, when he addressed them in English, which was translated to them in Chinook. " Children of the forest," he
began, which was rendered, " Tenas tilicum mitlite kopa
stick," or " Little men stationed among the sticks." After
such an introduction, the Bishop must have been discouraged
by the lack of interest manifested by the Indians in his
address. It no doubt conveyed a very different impression
to that intended by the good Bishop.
I was thankful at the close of the day that I had thus
had an opportunity of proclaiming the message of salvation to the three nationalities—Tsimshean, Haida, and
Tlingit—in a camp where heathenism had so long held undisputed sway. As I had learned from Chief Edenshew that
the Haidas could not leave for a day or two, I determined
to pay a flying visit to Metlakahtla to greet our good friend,
Admiral Prevost, who had arrived on a visit after my
departure. Finding that Edenshew and Cowhoe were both
desirous to see the Admiral also, whom they had not met
since the time when, as captain of H.M.S. Virago, he
had threatened to shell their encampment for the destruction of the American schooner Susan Sturges, I invited them to accompany me. Accordingly, we embarked
at midnight, and, favoured by a fair wind, we reached
Metlakahtla early the following morning, having run some
thirty-five miles. We found the camp in holiday dress,
with flags flying and Indians rejoicing at the visit of the
Admiral. Together with my Haida friends, I joined in
the welcome, which was warmly reciprocated by the
Admiral. I introduced Chief Edenshew to him, and reminded him of the difficulty he had when, as captain
of H.M.S. Virago, he visited this chief's camp on Virago
Sound. Indeed, it was from this visit that the Sound had
received its name. Edenshew and his tribe had been involved
in the capture of the Susan Sturges and her crew, as well
as in other raids. He could, at that time, boast of possessing a larger number of slaves than any other chief on the
Islands. But now he no longer feared to face a naval
officer, as he had learned not only to obey the law himself,
but to lead his tribe to do the same. The Admiral was
delighted to learn that the Haidas were abandoning the warpath and devoting themselves to follow the path of peace.
We re-embarked early on the morning of the following
day (Tuesday), and, favoured by a breeze from the southeast, which gradually increased to a squall, we reached
Tongas at noon. As we approached the shore, we were
surprised to find that of some thirty Haida canoes which
we had left drawn up on the beach, not one was now to be
seen. We at once apprehended mischief. Our fears were
increased on seeing canoes of the Tongas who appeared
outside their lodges with their faces blackened.
Instructing the Haida chiefs to remain in the canoe,
prepared to put off at once, I walked up to the chiefs
house, and, entering, inquired the cause of the disappearance
of the Haidas. I was informed that after I had left at
midnight on the Sunday, one of their men had brought
out some " hoochino," or " fire water," and had dealt it out
to his Haida guests. He then offered to sell a quantity
and found many purchasers. They continued drinking
until almost all of them were intoxicated. In this state
a Haida entered the chief's house, he being absent at the
time, and, seizing a seat, hurled it at the chief's old father.
He might have killed him had the seat struck him on the
head, but fortunately he was able to ward off the blow,
but, in so doing, his arm and shoulder were badly bruised
and lacerated. Had Kinnanook been in the camp at the
time, he would have shot his father's assailant at sight.
This would have caused the Haidas to have taken to their
guns, and much loss of life would have ensued on both
sides, as not many years previously the Haidas had made
a raid on this camp, and after many had been killed on
either side the Haidas had succeeded in capturing a
number whom they carried off into slavery. Fortunately
there were several of the Haidas who had refused the
liquor and remained sober. One of these, a sub-chief,
instantly seized and ejected the offender. Then, calling
several of his friends to his aid, he brought a peace-offering
of fifty trading blankets and a new gun, which he laid
before the old chief. This done, they called on all who
were sufficiently sober to aid in launching the canoes, and,
hurriedly shipping their freight and effects, they cast in
those who were unable to care for themselves, and put off
to sea, so that before the dawn of the following day they
had left the Tongas camp far behind. Thus the few who
had remained sober had saved the situation, and wiped out
the disgrace by the timely peace-offering thus made. Nevertheless, as I reminded those of them who had gathered
around me to relate the grievance, the mischief had originated with themselves in introducing the liquor. The
daughter of the injured chief agreed with me, and expressed
her satisfaction that Kinnanook was away at the time, as,
being of a hasty temper, he would at once have sought
revenge for the insult and injury inflicted on his father in
his own camp and dweUing.
Without further delay we re-embarked in search of the
fleet, but did not come up with them for two days.    When
at length we sighted them they were emerging from the
bays and shelters where they had encamped. The majority
of them had their faces blackened, and were evidently prepared to fight had they been followed. As the weather was
unsettled, we put into a small harbour near Cape Chacon,
a point which has latterly become widely known as being
the starting-place of the Alaskan boundary line. Here we
remained weather bound for a fortnight. Day by day
passed without any abatement of the frequent squalls from
the south-west. At length our food supply having run
out, we were compelled to gather shell-fish and crabs for
our sustenance. The time was not lost, however; I found
special opportunity whilst thus encamped with the Haidas,
both in the acquirement of the language, and also in imparting instruction to them. As Chief Edenshew was a fluent
Tsimshean speaker, he was able to assist me in this. Some
of them learned to sing songs of praise during that period
which I often heard afterwards when in camp.
At length, at daybreak one morning, there was a stir in
the camp. I arose hurriedly, and found all busy launching
canoes and embarking their freight. It was a fair morning,
but on looking at my aneroid I found it had fallen during
the night, and the dark clouds which were rising in the
south-west betokened bad weather. It is a clear run of
some forty miles across Dixon's Entrance from Cape Chacon
to Massett. It was just 4.30 in the morning when we started,
and with a beam wind for the first five hours we made
good progress. We had just reached a point in mid-ocean,
when a strong south-westerly squall burst upon us from the
Pacific. It was accompanied by a driving rain, and in a
short time every sail was lost to view. The sea arose, and
great waves crested with foam threatened continually to
swamp our frail craft. As the large boxes of fish grease
broke loose from their fastenings, they were tossed about,
until their lids were loosened and feU off. Then every wave
that struck us caused the grease to splash forth over every-
thing. I was soaked with it from head to foot. When
the storm broke, I had divested myself of all but my underclothing, and put on my life-belt, which I had provided
myself with for long canoe journeys.
The Chief Edenshew, who was a good seaman and was
steering, reminded me that it would only prolong my misery
if we were capsized, as I could never reach the shore. I
reminded him that none of the bodies of those lately lost
had been found, whereas a life-belt would probably have
floated anyone wearing it to the shore, whether dead or
alive. This statement satisfied him, as he concluded that
should we be wrecked my body would enable those finding
it to realise their fate, as well as mine. Just then the
chiefs son, Cowhoe, arose in the canoe, and called upon us
to assist him in casting the grease boxes, with what grease
remained in them, overboard. A huge wave struck us at
the time, and he was well nigh gone, but by clinging to
the thwart he was saved. We were all opposed to casting
the grease overboard, as it not only baHasted the canoe, but
also the grease, as it was washed overboard smoothed the
waves, and prevented them from breaking over us in full
force. By bailing out the water with buckets as it washed
into the canoe, and with but two feet of sail to the wind,
we ploughed onwards. Every wave threatened to engulf
us, and as we could only see a few yards ahead, we feared
we might be running towards the dangerous shoal to the
north-east of the islands named Rose Spit. It was about
nine-thirty when the squaU struck us, and at about one hour
after noon it began to lift, and we found to our great reHef
that we were not far out of our course. We were also
enabled to sight some of the other canoes which had outHved
the squaU, though they had lost in the property which they
had been compeUed to cast overboard. Large numbers of
the Haidas came down to the beach to see us land, and with
them came also my old friend the trader: " Whatever caused
you to venture on the ocean in such weather as this ? " he
inquired. "Our provisions ran short," I informed him.
" Well," said he, " you are a desperate man. You are determined to die in the water." " Squire," I replied, " how
would you Hke to be encamped on the rocky shores of
Alaska for days without any food but sheU-fish ? " I asked.
" Not at aU," he replied, " yet to be drowned is worse";
and, having thus declared himself, he turned and walked off
grumbling about "desperate men" and "great dangers."
But we realised that He who had calmed the angry waves
of the Galilean sea had been with us, and His blessed assurance, " Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid," encouraged
us when otherwise heart and strength were failing.
" Sow in the morn thy seed,
At eve hold not thy hand;
To doubt and fear give thou no heed,
Broadcast it o'er the land.
Thou knowest not which may thrive,
The late or early sown;
Grace keeps the chosen germ alive,
When and wherever strown."
'*Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many
days."—Ecclesiastes xi, 1.
ASSOCIATION and companionship with many of the
/-\ Haidas when traveUing with them, both in storm
and sunshine, had led to a measure of mutual confidence. Like most Indians, they were pleased to see that
the white man could endure hardship just as weU as they
themselves could. I had traveUed with them in their canoes,
had shared in their dangers, had partaken of their peculiar
dishes, and by so doing I had gained an influence of which
the medicine men and their foHowers were jealous. Consequently I was not greatly surprised when secretly informed
one night by a young chief that the medicine men were
plotting to take my life. They had used aU their enchantments, and had even succeeded in obtaining some articles of
clothing belonging to me over which they had exhausted all
their orgies in vain. And now they had summoned aU the
young men to drink of the salt water in order to ascertain
if aU were faithful to them. This man, in order to escape
the penalty, had hidden in the forest, from which he had now
ventured under cover of the darkness to apprise me of their
designs. They discovered him, however, on the following
day, and, having bound him hand and foot, he was carried
down to the sea, and submerged again and again until
almost drowned, in order to compel him to swallow a sufficient quantity of the salt water. It is believed and asserted
by the necromancers that the salt water wiU kill and expel
the evil spirit which is causing trouble in the camp, and
should anyone shrink from the ordeal the accusation is sure
to fall upon him. Hence the friends and relations of this
young chief were the most eager to discover him, and compel
him to undergo the test, in order to deliver him from the
ban of the medicine men, which often resulted fatally to the
This practice of drinking large quantities of salt water
is not only followed to divert suspicion of guilt when
trouble is abroad in the camp, but also when about to set
out on a warlike expedition. In the war that occurred
between the Northern Haidas and Tsimsheans some time
prior to the establishment of Missions on the coast, the
story is told that when the Haidas of Massett determined
to attack the Tsimsheans in return for injuries inflicted upon
some of their people by the latter, they banded together and
began to drink sea water. After drinking this for six nights,
they set out to war in ten canoes. When they reached the
mainland, some stopped at Quado in Metlakahtla Inlet.
Whilst concealed there, they attacked a number of canoes
which were passing to Kshwahtlins and Kloiyah, two fishing
stations near to the present site of Prince Rupert, and in
one day these Haidas captured and destroyed seven canoes
and killed about twenty-eight of the Tsimsheans. This
was in revenge for the injuries inflicted by the Tsimsheans
on them in the early summer, when they had visited Port
Simpson to trade. Latterly I have seen the sea water drunk
by the Haida hunters when about to embark in quest of the
fur seal and sea otter. It was just at this time, when I
was harassed and discouraged by the evil devices of the
medicine men, that a little incident occurred which served
to encourage me. The young chief Cowhoe came to me one
day, bringing with him a little book. "Some years ago,"
he said, " when the fighting fire-ship came here to punish
us for having seized the American schooner, and to set the
crew whom we had enslaved free, the captain called me to
him, and spoke kindly to me, though I did not know what
he said, as he spoke in the white man's tongue. Then he
brought me this book, which he wrote in before he handed
it to me. I have kept it carefully in my box ever since,
and now I have brought it to you so that you may teH me
what it is, and what the words are which he has written
in it."
I took the book, and found it was a copy of the New
Testament as published by the " Naval and Military Bible
Society," London. On the fly-leaf was written : " To the
Indian Boy, Edenshew's son. I trust that the bread cast
upon the waters wiH soon be found.—James C. Prevost,
Captain, H.M.S. Sateffite, 1859."
" How wonderful!" I exclaimed, as I looked from the
book to its owner, and realised that the good captain's
desire and prayer were being fulfilled. Not just as he
would have had it," soon," but just as it had been promised,
" after many days." For eighteen years had passed away,
and now at length the bread was being found indeed.
" Why, this," I said, " is just the good news that I have
been telling you and your people. This is the word of
< Sha-nung-Etlageda,' the word of the Chief Above!"
I Is it indeed ?" he exclaimed. " Is it reaHy so, and I
never knew it. I was foolish then, I was but a smaU boy,
and I had almost forgotten it. But your arrival, and your
words seem to have reminded me of it. I must endeavour
to learn to read it now."
I took it out of his hand again, and turned to a text I
had just been teaching them. It was St. John's Gospel,
the third chapter, and the sixteenth verse. This I read to
him, first in English, and then in the Haida: " Alzeil Sha
Nung Etlagedas hahada wautliwan il quoyada uan, alzeil
Laou'l Keet an swanshung tlak Laou'l ishthian alzeil wautliwan kestho Laou'l yetang, kum 1 goowangshang waigen
hininga et shwanung shang laou'l keyiyen." " And are
these words really there ?" he asked; " and I have had it
so long, and yet did not know it, but now I shall learn to
read it myself." And as he carried away his prize with a
face beamingTwith satisfaction, I was reminded of another
passage from the inspired word, " Thy words were found,
and I did eat them, and Thy word was unto me the joy and
rejoicing of my heart." From that time he became one of
my most attentive and persevering pupils. Being a chief,
and the son of a leading chief, his influence was powerful for
good, especially among his own tribe and those of his crest.
It was just at this time that an old chief came to me begging
that I should go and see one of his slaves, who he feared
was dying. He informed me that the medicine men had
exerted all their powers over him, but had failed to afford
him any relief. I informed him that I was willing to act
if only he could send away the medicine men. I had
decided to keep to this condition, as I found that, when
I had prescribed medicines, if the patient recovered they
claimed the credit, whereas if the symptoms increased or
the patient died they accused me as the cause. I accompanied him to see the patient, and found his face and head
swollen to such an extent that his features were unrecognisable. It was a case of facial erysipelas, and, as the fever
and inflammation ran high, the rattling and whooping of
the medicine men had worked him up to a high fever of
nervous excitement. Indeed he was almost demented. I
therefore repeated my decision, and the old chief who
evidently feared to offend the medicine men, promised to do
what he could. He came to me shortly after, and informed
me that he had induced them by large payments of property
to cease their treatment. I at once had his slave's long
hair cut off, applied blisters behind the ears and to the
scalp, had his feet and legs kept in mustard and hot water,
and administered suitable medicines, and in twenty-four
hours the symptoms began to abate. In a few days he had
recovered. It was a clear victory, and the medicine men
were furious. The impression made on the old chief was
deep and lasting. He lost all faith in the powers of the
medicine men, and both he and his slave Kowtz became
catechumens. The foUowing winter this chief fell sick and
died, but not before he had called a number of his tribe,
and declared before them all that he had given Kowtz his
liberty. This he did at my suggestion. It caused some
excitement amongst the slave-owners, who feared that such
action would produce discontent amongst their slaves.
Sometime after his chief's death, Kowtz, fearing that he
might be enslaved again, procured a stone for erection in
memory of his master, and on it was inscribed his dying
words, in which he granted this man his freedom. This he
regarded as the charter of his liberty. The old chief had
himself by faith obtained true freedom in Christ, and had
been baptized.
I now made arrangements for a visit to the south of the
Islands, and engaged Chief Edenshew and his son Cowhoe,
with a crew of his young men, to accompany me in a large
canoe. The distance from Massett to Skidegate is about a
hundred and twenty miles by water, as it is necessary to stand
well out from the north-easterly point of the island. We
were met by strong south-easterly gales, which compeHed
us to encamp for several days at Cape Ball, known to the
Haidas as " Altlin's Kwun." On reaching Skidegate we
were well received. A band of young men, numbering
some twenty-five or more, met us on our arrival, and
carried up our canoe and effects. We were hospitably
entertained by the head chief, named " Kahala" or
" Nang-sin-wass." The encampment is well situated on
a crescent-shaped bay, with a smooth beach, the Indian
lodges following the curve of the shore, whilst a high bluff"
behind the centre of the camp lends a picturesque appearance to the whole. As at Massett, in front of every dwelling
several totem poles were erected, displaying the crestal
signs of the owners. These were skilfully carved, and in
many cases coloured. Here and there mortuary totems
and structures stood, containing the remains of the great
chiefs of the past. They had heard of the medicine man
of the "Iron people," who had come to their islands to
tell of the " Sha-nung-Etlageda," the great " Chief of the
heavens," and so they crowded in to see me until there was
not standing room. Those who could do so mounted on
the roof, and peered down through the smoke hole. In the
meantime food was being prepared, and, as soon as common
curiosity had been gratified, a great fire was erected on the
hearth, consisting of logs of four feet in length, over which
frequent libations of fish grease were poured, until the
flames issued above the roof, causing the spectators who had
assembled there to descend in dangerous haste.
Cedar-bark mats were spread for us to the rear of the
lodge in the centre, whilst the men composing our crew
were seated on either side. Water, soap, and towels were
first brought, and each of us invited to wash our hands.
The first food offered us was dried salmon and olachan
grease, of each of which a large portion was placed before
Edenshew, Cowhoe, and myself. Each dish, before being
served, was brought to the chief, our host, who tasted it,
and signified his approval. The next dish was boiling-
dulse, a species of sea-weed, which, when gathered, is made
up into square cakes about twelve inches by twelve and
about one and a half inch in thickness, and dried in the sun.
Before boiling, this is chopped fine, and it is also mixed
with olachan grease before being served out. Large horn
spoons were then handed round, those given to the chiefs
The figure in the foreground is a mortuary totem surmounted
with an eagle.    Other totems are seen in the background.
In full dress, prepared to begin their incantations.   They belong to the Nishka Tribe,
being inlaid with abilone or mother-of-pearl. As a special
mark of honour, I was given a large silver-plated tablespoon, which became so heated with the boiling sea-weed
that I could not permit it to touch my lips. Accordingly
I called upon them to change it for one of their horn
spoons. This caused much hilarity amongst them to find
that the " Yetzhahada " preferred a spoon of their manufacture to that made by his own countrymen.
After this dish we were served with dried halibut and
grease, and then with boiled herring spawn.    During this
repast I had remarked two young men, stripped to the
| waist, beating up in tubs dried berries with water until it
became a frothy substance, not unlike ice cream in appearance.    This was served up last as dessert, and is eaten as
| described on a preceding page, but I was careful not to
endeavour to imitate their manner of eating it, as my
I failure would have excited much mirth at my expense.
The meal concluded, I stood up, and having thanked
| them for their kind reception, I announced the object of
my visit, and informed them that I proposed to conduct
[two services on the following day, being the "Shantlans
: Shanzotang " or rest day, and would proclaim to them the
I message from the " Great Chief above."    We adopted the
method used by the chief when calling his people to a feast
in order to summon a congregation together for the first
[time.    This was done by suspending a triangular bar of
[steel from a pole on the roof and beating it with an iron
[rod.   I had a crowded congregation, dressed many of them
in paint and feathers, and so intent were they in hearkening to the word that though a large canoe arrived during
[the service conveying an invitation from a tribe to the
[south, which they announced from the canoe with blowing
[horns and beating of drums, yet not one went out to
[witness their arrival    This was the first religious service
peld at Skidegate.    In  the afternoon I proceeded to a
pillage in Gold Harbour, where I conducted a service also.
177 m [
On this occasion I first made the acquaintance of Chief
Nansteens of the most  southerly Haida  village on  the
Queen  Charlotte  Islands.     It  was  situated on a small
islet off Cape St. James, the southern point of Prevost
Island.    This tribe was always noted as being the most
successful sea-otter hunters of the Pacific.    Being favourably situated for the pursuit of the otter, they not only
succeeded in securing large numbers themselves, but also
exacted toll from hunters coming from other tribes to
hunt the sea otter in their vicinity.    They were physicaUy
the finest looking of the Haida tribes, but they, like the
sea otters which they hunted, have almost disappeared.
The few who were left have become absorbed in the Skidegate tribes.   They early found out the way to the white
settlements and cities on the Sound, and from that time
forward they deteriorated.   Drink and disease proved their
destruction.    The last time I saw Chief Nansteens was on
the deck of a steamer from Victoria standing beside a coffin
which was covered with a Union Jack.    He was evidently
in deep sorrow.    The coffin contained the remains of his
wife, and but a few of his tribe accompanied him.    The
majority had returned to the islands by canoe.    He was
grateful for the few words of sympathy  with  which I
addressed him.    I had advised them against going away
on such expeditions, but the attractions were too strong
for them.    He had been greatly attached to his wife, who
was not only a chieftainess by rank, but adorned her position by a native grace and dignity seldom met with in
uncivilised tribes.    During my stay at Skidegate I was
surprised at the youthful appearance of our hostess, the
wife of Nangsinwass.   I had supposed she was his daughter.
On the opposite side of the great lodge an old woman and
a young man scarcely out of his teens had their quarters.
I had regarded this young man as the old woman's son,
and referred to him as such when speaking to my friend
Cowhoe.    He burst into loud laughter, in which Chief
Edenshew joined. Inquiring the cause of their amusement, I was informed that this youth and the old lady
were man and wife. He was the chiefs nephew, being his
sister's son, and consequently the heir to the chieftainship.
As a proof and assurance of this to the tribe, the chief had
given his old wife to his nephew and had taken the young
woman, whom I had supposed to be his daughter, to wife.
This I found to be a recognised custom amongst the Haida
tribes, to unite a young woman with an aged man, or an
old woman with a youth, as in the above instance. They
deem it necessary to unite wisdom and experience with
youthfulness and vigour.
This was the first visit of a missionary to Skidegate and
the southern villages. I promised to send them a teacher
before leaving, and on my next visit to the mainland I was
enabled to fulfil my promise by sending a young man, a
Tsimshean native teacher, who had long been under Christian instruction at Metlakahtla. He erected a smaU
Mission-house at Skidegate for his wife and family, who
accompanied him, and did a good work whilst there. But
the Haidas of Skidegate were anxious to have a white
missionary, and for this reason a deputation of the leading
men came to Metlakahtla. They were received by Mr.
Duncan and myself. Chief Nangsinwass was the spokesman
of the party. " You have gone to Massett," he said, « and
made your residence there, whilst you have only sent us a
Tsimshean to teaeh us. This is not as it should be, as
Skidegate was formerly just as powerful as the North, and
we should have a white teacher also." To this Mr. Duncan
replied: « Chief," said he, " supposing I had found a supply
of good food, and I called a slave and delivered him a
quantity of it to convey to you, would you refuse to accept
it because I had sent it by the hand of a slave ? " " No!"
replied the chief, " I should not refuse it, I should accept
it." « Well," replied Mr. Duncan, " we have sent you the
Gospel message of the rich provision the Great Chief above
has made for you, by a Tsimshean, and if a white teacher
was sent he would convey to you just the same message."
" True," rephed Nangsinwass, " the food is the same, but
the white teacher is a better cook than the Indian, and
could serve it out to us so that we would relish it and be
eager to eat it. We were always the victors in our conflicts
with the Tsimsheans in the past, so we cannot accept them
as our teachers now." I was strongly in favour of acceding
to their request, but my senior Duncan was not of the same
mind, so the deputation proceeded to Fort Simpson and
proffered their request to the Methodist missionary there.
The result was that a white missionary was sent there by
the Canadian Methodist Missionary Society and we were
compelled to withdraw the native teacher. I have in my
possession his journal showing the attendance at the services
and the subjects of his addresses, and from it I concluded
that he was by no means ignorant in the preparation and
presentation of the food of the Divine message. Nevertheless, by this mistaken poHcy of seeking to supply the new
Missions with native teachers, we lost Fort Simpson first
and afterwards Skidegate. But by it the Master's quotation is confirmed, "Herein is that saying true, One soweth
and another reapeth." We were overtaken by heavy
weather on our return northwards, and I took the precaution of putting on my life-belt under my overcoat. When
the storm struck, and the waves crested with foam were
breaking over our frail bark, I quietly and quickly inflated
my belt. Just then, as our canoe fell from the crest of a
wave, the chiefs son, who sat in the stern, was thrown right
upon me in the middle of the canoe. With hands outstretched to save himself, he struck me fairly on my belt,
which yielded freely to the pressure. He recoiled with
terror and continued to gaze at me until reprimanded by
his father for not holding on to his seat. He evidently
believed that a white man's body was of a different substance
to their own. He was not aware that I had on a life-belt.
As there is but little shelter on the east of Graham Island
in a gale, and there are many boulders lying off the coast,
it is dangerous. But Edenshew knew it well, as he had
been reared at Cape Ball and at Yehling, near Tow Hill,
consequently he steered a safe course-
Shortly after my return to Massett I was caUed to see a
young man who was suffering from an attack of brain fever.
It had been brought on by plunging into the cold waters
of the sea when overheated, in order to cool himself. The
Haidas believe that aU such ailments are caused by the
« Stlique," or land otter, which all the Indians believe to
be possessed with supernatural powers. I had his hair cut
short and applied blisters freely, and instructed them also
to procure ice and apply it to his head. I then prescribed
suitable medicine, and was gratified to find the patient
improving under my treatment. Just when he was progressing towards recovery the medicine men returned to
camp. They had been attending a great " potlatch " in
the vicinity of Virago Sound.
In the middle of the night, whilst engaged in treating a
serious case of croup in my own family, I heard them in
their wild orgies over my patient, whooping and rattling so
that they could be heard aU over the camp. They continued at intervals throughout the night, and when I
entered in the morning the leading medicine man had just
sunk down exhausted by the side of the sick man, who was
now in a raging delirium. And little wonder, when one
medicine man after another had been performing over him
through the night, now singly and then in chorus with
their rattles to drive out the demon of disease. The house
was filled with the followers of the medicine men, who
sometimes joined in the chorus with them* The sick man
was being held down by two attendants, one on either side j
and it was with difficulty they retained him on the floor.
I stooped and felt his pulse, though I knew there could be
no hope for him now under such treatment. It was bound*
ing, and I shook my head to indicate my conclusion. Instantly the medicine men started to their feet and assumed
a threatening attitude towards me as the leader exclaimed,
" He wiU recover, as we have expelled the evil spirit, which
your medicine could not do." I turned to the mother and
inquired if her son was not improving under my treatment.
" Did you not inform me that he had rested peacefuHy for
the two nights preceding the arrival of the medicine men ?"
She repHed in the affirmative, though with fear. The
leading medicine man, with his long hair falling down to
his waist, scowled at her. I then addressed to all a few
words in Haida. " Your forefathers followed this practice
because they knew of no better way. But the light has
come to you now, and it is time you abandoned it. The
noise you have made over this sick man wiU kill him."
Just then a chief arose to speak. " It is the first time I
have seen the white man's medicine acting in opposition to
ours," said he; " my uncle was a medicine man (conjurer), my
father was a medicine man, and I should have been one also,
as I was initiated, but I succeeded to a chieftainship instead. If this man recovers I shall know that our medicine
men are true and strong; but if he dies then I shall know
our way is false and the white man's words are true: hearken
all to my words!"    I left as he ended his speech.
The sick man died on the following morning. During
the day there were rumours of the anger of the medicine
men and of their designs of revenge. At midnight a
number of Haidas approached