British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jan 1, 1941

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JANUARY, 1941 <&e
Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Library, I '■>■■■ ver, B.C.
Willard E. Ireland.
mhtcial Archi B.C.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. F. W. Howay, New Westminster.
Robie L. Reid, Vancouver. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications may be addressed either to the Editor or to
the Editor.
Subscriptions should  bo  sent  bo  the  Provincial  Archives,  Parliament
Buildings, Victoria, B.C.    Price, 50c. the copy, or $2 the year.    Members
of the British Columbia Historical Association in good standing receive the
erly without further charge.
Neither the Provincial Archives nor the British Columbia Historical
Association assumes any responsibility for statements made by contributors
to the magazine. THE
Published by the Archives of British Columbia in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association EDITOR.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Library, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Willard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives, Victoria, B.C.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. P. W. Howay, New Westminster.
Robie L. Reid, Vancouver. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
All communications should be addressed to the Provincial Archives,
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. CONTENTS OF VOLUME V.
Articles: Page.
The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."
By Robie L. Reid       1
The Oolachan Fishery.
By H. A. Collison    25
Relations of the Hudson's Bay Company with the Russian American
Company on the Northwest Coast, 1829-1867.
By Donald C. Davidson    33
Early Flour-mills in British Columbia.   Part I.
By Willard E. Ireland     89
Harmony Island: A Finnish Utopian Venture in British Columbia,
By John Ilmari Kolehmainen 111
The Strait of Anian.
By T. A. Rickard 161
The Case of the " Moneta ": An Incident in the Story of Burrard
By F. W. Howay 185
Early Flour-mills in British Columbia.   Part II.
By F. W. Laing 191
Pioneer Surveys and Surveyors in the Fraser Valley.
By W. N. Draper 215
The War Scare of 1854:  The Pacific Coast and the Crimean War.
By Donald C. Davidson 243
Similkameen Trails, 1846-1861.
By E. P. Creech 265
History in a Changing World.
By Robert Livingston Schuyler 269
James Douglas and the Russian American Company, 1840.
By Willard E. Ireland    63
A Further Note on the Annexation Petition of 1869.
By Willard E. Ireland    67
Memoirs and Documents relating to Judge Begbie.
Edited with an introduction by W. Kaye Lamb 125
I. Some Recollections of Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie.
By A. B 127
II. Sir Matthew Begbie: Terror of Lawbreakers.
By A. E. Beck 131
III. Documents relating to the effect of the Act of Union of 1866
upon Judge Begbie's status and jurisdiction 134
Two Narratives of the Fraser River Gold-rush.
I. Extracts from Friesach, Ein Ausflug nach Britisch-Columbien
im Jahre 1858.
With an introduction by Robie L. Reid 221
II. Letter from Charles G. Major, dated Fort Hope, September
20, 1859 228 Documents—Continued.                                                                       Page.
Sailing Directions governing the Voyage of the Vessels " Captain
Cook " and " Experiment" to the Northwest Coast in the
Fur Trade, A.D. 1786.
With an introduction and notes by F. W. Howay  285
Notes and Comments 73, 149, 233, 297
The Northwest Bookshelf :
Smyth:  Tales of the Kootenays.
By W. Kaye Lamb    83
The Tale of the Nativity.
By Alice Ravenhill    84
Guide to Material in the National Archives.
By Willard E. Ireland    86
Nichols:  Ranald MacDonald: Adventurer.
By W. Kaye Lamb    86
Howay:  The Journal of Captain James Colnett.
By W. N. Sage 155
Building a State: Washington, 1889-1989.
By Madge Wolfenden   156
Riesenberg:  The Pacific Ocean.
By T. A. Rickard  157
Panchromatic Reproductions of Twenty Charts.
By Willard E. Ireland  159
Morrell:  The Gold Rushes.
By T. A. Rickard 237
Woods: History of the Agassiz-Harrison Valley.
By F. W. Howay,   240
Lyons:  Francis Norbert Blanchet and the Founding of the Oregon
Missions (1888-1848).
Magaret: Father De Smet: Pioneer Priest of the Rockies.
By Willard E. Ireland  240
Gates (ed.), Messages of the Governors of the Territory of Washington, 1854-1889.
By Ronald Todd  242
Minutes of Council Northern Department of Rupert Land, 1821-1831.
By Willard E. Ireland  307
Gregory and Barnes: North Pacific Fisheries.
By W. T. Easterbrook 308
Stefansson:  Ultima Thule.
By T. A. Rickard  310
Howard and McGrath:  War Chief Joseph.
By Willard E. Ireland  311
Index  313
Page 157, line 41.   For Ceba read Cebu.
Page 158, line 8.    For Marian read Marianne.
Page 217, line 18.    For /. /. Cochrane read J. J. Cochrane. We
" Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. V. Victoria, B.C., January, 1941. No. 1
Articles : Page.
The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."
By Robie L. Reid          1
The Oolachan Fishery.
By H. A. Collison...   _ _   25
Relations of the Hudson's Bay Company with the Russian American
Company on the Northwest Coast, 1829-1867.
By Donald C. Davidson     33
Documents :
James Douglas and the Russian American Company, 1840.
By Willard E. Ireland      53
A Further Note on the Annexation Petition of 1869.
By Willard E. Ireland     67
Notes and Comments:
Some Archives Accessions, 1938-40    73
Historical Markers and Monuments      77
British Columbia Historical Association     78
Graduate Historical Society      80
Contributors to this Issue      81
The Northwest Bookshelf:
Smyth, Tales of the Kootenays.
By W. Kaye Lamb      83
The Tale of the Nativity.
By Alice Ravenhill    84
Guide to Material in the National Archives.
By Willard E. Ireland      86
Nichols, Ranald MacDonald: Adventurer.
More than a quarter of a century has passed since the Komagata Maru, Captain Yamamoto, a Japanese steamship with a
Japanese crew, entered the then quiet harbour of Vancouver,
with some 376 passengers on board. These passengers were
East Indians from the China Coast and Japan, who claimed the
right to enter Canada as being British subjects. The immigration authorities refused to admit such of them as were not
already domiciled in Canada, not, ostensibly, because they came
from India, but because they came within the terms of certain
Orders in Council, made under the provisions of the " Immigration Act" of Canada, which prohibited the entry into Canada
of certain classes of immigrants. Two months were to pass
and many exciting incidents occurred before the ship and her
disappointed passengers returned to Asia.
It was not until 1936 that the story of the Komagata Maru
became a part of our written history. In that year Professor
Eric W. Morse, of Trinity College, Port Hope, Ontario, whose
early life had been spent in India, took up the story, and presented a paper on the subject to the Ottawa meeting of the
Canadian Historical Association.1 The authorities at Ottawa
had opened to him the papers relating to the subject, and, speaking generally, he made good use of them. In some way, however,
he failed to find the full report made by me to W. D. Scott,
Superintendent of Immigration at Ottawa, dated July 27, 1914,
covering the whole matter; a report which would have enabled
him to avoid some serious errors and omissions in his paper.
Had he seen it he doubtless would not have censured the immigration officials in Vancouver for what he terms their " poor
handling " of the affair, and for the " unnecessary time "2 taken
in obtaining a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal
(1) Eric W. Morse, " Some Aspects of the Komagata Maru Affair,
1914," in Report, Canadian Historical Association, 1936, pp. 100-108; cited
hereafter as " Morse."
(2) Morse, p. 103.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V., No. 1.
1 2 Robie L. Reh>. January
as to the validity of section 23 of the " Immigration Act" and
the Orders in Council made under the provisions of that Act.
As one of those responsible for the conduct of the matter, and
in justice to my associates, most of whom are now dead, I feel
that it is only fair that the whole story should be made public.
The man in charge of this matter at Vancouver for the Immigration Department was Malcolm J. R. Reid (no relation to the
writer). He was a hard-headed Scot and a man of ability and
experience. He was firm and inflexible in carrying out his duty
as he understood it, but at the same time he endeavoured to
carry out that duty with as little discomfort to others as possible.
The chief legal counsel for the Immigration Department was
W. B. A. Ritchie, K.C, one of the ablest lawyers in Canada.
He was a personal friend of Premier Borden, and for many
years the two had been members of the same firm in Halifax.
I was the agent of the Minister of Justice at the time, and most
legal matters needing attention in Vancouver were in my charge.
W. H. D. Ladner was then associated with my firm, and to him
I committed the outdoor work. The lesser matters of detail
were his to attend to. If he required assistance he came to me.
In serious matters I conferred with Mr. Ritchie. Hon. H. H.
Stevens was Member of the House of Commons for the City of
Vancouver. When the Komagata Maru episode occurred the
House was not in session, and Mr. Stevens was in the city. He
gave us much assistance in the matter and, as will be seen later,
it was his foresight which gave us the means of ending the
trouble. Mr. Malcolm Reid took no step without consulting Mr.
Ladner or myself. If, therefore, anything was done which was
improper, we were the persons responsible.
Before taking up the story of the ship and her passengers, it
is necessary to devote a short space to a review of East Indian
immigration to this Province, and to the law of habeas corpus
and its application to such immigration.
A writ of habeas corpus is an old proceeding in English law
which has as its object the protection of the liberty of the subject. To obtain this writ an application is made to a Judge of
a superior Court. On proper cause being shown, the Judge
orders the applicant to be brought before him; the applicant
or his counsel is heard, and if the applicant can show that he 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru." 3
is illegally detained, the writ issues and he is free. If one Judge
refuses the writ, the person claiming to be illegally detained
may apply to another Judge, and so on until he has been heard
by every Judge on the bench. If any one Judge issues the writ
he is free, even if every other Judge on the bench has given a
contrary decision.
Owing to the increase in the number of Asiatics coming to
Canada during the first decade of the present century, insistent
and continued demands were made on the Government of the
Dominion for restrictive legislation. So strong did this agitation become, especially in British Columbia, the Province particularly affected, that both in 1886 and 1907 there were riots
in Vancouver resulting, especially in the latter year, in considerable injury to persons and property. Later the immigration of Chinese was regulated by a head tax, and that from
Japan by the well-known " gentleman's agreement" with that
Immigration from India found itself in a different category.
Chinese were allowed to enter Canada on payment of a head
tax; Japanese, to some extent, were admitted free. But the
East Indian, though a British subject, was not allowed to come
in, and Orders in Council were passed to prevent his doing so,
although his race was not specifically mentioned therein. No
doubt he felt this to be unfair. Perhaps it was; but such was
the law, and the law was made on the demand of Canadians.
As I have noted, East Indian immigration was not barred by
name. This had been done in other parts of the Empire and
had been the source of resentment and unrest. In an effort to
avoid such trouble, the legislation which was passed in Canada
carefully avoided any mention of " Hindu," " Sikh," " East
Indian," or any similar appellation. It mentioned no race or
nationality. This legislation took the form of Orders in Council,
two of which were passed in 1910. One of these required that
any applicant for admission had to have $200 in his possession
on landing in Canada; the other that all immigrants seeking
entry must have come to Canada by " continuous journey and on
through tickets from the country of their birth or citizenship."3
As no steamship lines were in operation between India and
(3)   P.C. 920 and P.C. 926, 1910. 4 Robie L. Reid. January
Canada, it is apparent that that country was in the mind of the
person who drew the Order.
Evidently the Dominion Government feared that an appeal
to the Courts might result in decisions which would have the
effect of admitting immigrants which the Government wished to
exclude. To prevent this, in 1910 a section was inserted in the
" Immigration Act" which took from the Courts the right to
interfere with decisions of the immigration authorities. This
was the famous section 23, which reads as follows:—
23. No court, and no judge or officer thereof, shall have jurisdiction to
review, quash, reverse, restrain or otherwise interfere with any proceeding,
decision or order of the Minister or any Board of Inquiry, or officer in
charge, had, made or given under the authority and in accordance with the
provisions of this Act relating to the detention or deportation of any rejected
immigrant, passenger, or other person, upon any ground whatsoever, unless
such person is a Canadian citizen or has Canadian domicile.
The only remedy given by the Act to a person aggrieved was
by appeal to the Minister in charge of the Department. Fortified
with this section, and the above-mentioned Orders in Council,
the Immigration Department felt that it was able to cope with
any contingency which might arise. Evidently every one else
was of the same opinion, for little or no trouble was experienced
by the Department until 1913.
In that year some thirty-five East Indians, including one
Narain Singh, came to Vancouver and applied for admission to
Canada. The regular proceedings were taken under the " Immigration Act," and the applicants were ordered deported. They
applied to Mr. Justice Murphy, of the Supreme Court of British
Columbia, for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that they were
illegally detained. He refused the writ on the ground that,
under section 23 of the Act, he had no jurisdiction to hear the
application, and that the only remedy open to the applicants was
by appeal to the Minister.
The writ having been refused, the applicants had two courses
open to them if they believed that this decision was not in
accordance with the law. They could apply to each of the other
Justices of the Court in turn, to ascertain whether or not some
one of them would take a different view, or they could appeal
to the Court of Appeal from the decision of Mr. Justice Murphy.
They chose the first alternative, and made a new application
to Chief Justice Hunter for a writ of habeas corpus.   He did not 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru." 5
agree with Mr. Justice Murphy, and held that he was not barred
by section 23 from hearing and deciding the matter. He also
held that both the Orders in Council passed in 1910 were ultra
vires, as not strictly complying with the language of the section
of the " Immigration Act" under which they purported to be
made. He granted the writ, the applicants were released, and
were thereby enabled to enter Canada.4
It might well be asked, why did not the Crown appeal to the
Court of Appeal if the legal advisers of the Government did not
agree with the law as laid down by the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court? The reason why the astute counsel for the
applicants took the course he did and did not appeal to the Court
of Appeal, as he could have done, was that at that time there
was no appeal to the Court of Appeal from the decision of a
Supreme Court Justice granting a writ of habeas corpus, although
there was an appeal from an order refusing it. A Court will
not hear a case where its action would be futile. The writ once
granted, the applicant was free, and there was then no authority
to rearrest him, should the Court of Appeal disagree with the
decision of the Judge in the Court appealed from.
It may also be asked, why did not the Dominion Government,
in enacting section 23, insert such a provision as would permit
an appeal to the Court of Appeal by giving a right to rearrest
where the Judge below was overruled? For the very good
reason that it had no such power. Habeas corpus is a civil
remedy, even if the alleged wrongful detention arises out of
criminal proceedings, or other matters which are peculiarly
within the jurisdiction of the Dominion Parliament,5 and any
legislation relating thereto must be enacted by the Legislature
of the Province within which the matter arises. It was not
until 1920 that a provision for rearrest was placed on the Statute
books of British Columbia, and only since that date has there
been an appeal where the writ is granted.
The Dominion Government found itself in an embarrassing
position in immigration matters. One Judge had held its legislation valid; another with the same jurisdiction to hear and
determine the case had declared that it was invalid, and had
(4) In re Narain Singh, 18 (1913), British Columbia Reports, 506.
(5) R. v. Yuen Yick Jun, 54 (1940), British Columbia Reports, 541. 6 Robie L. Reid. January
released the applicants, and there was no appeal. The Orders
in Council were redrawn to meet the criticism of the Chief
Justice, and another Order in Council passed making it illegal
for artisans or labourers, skilled or unskilled, to enter Canada at
any port of entry in British Columbia.6
The effect of the decision in the Narain Singh case was not
confined to Canada, nor to the admission of the thirty-five applicants affected by it. News that East Indians had been allowed
to enter Canada soon reached India and the China Coast. Many
Indian nationals had heard of the prosperity of those of their
countrymen who had emigrated to British Columbia before the
restrictive legislation had been passed, and they yearned to go
to what seemed to them to be a land of promise.
A leader of the movement appeared in the person of one
Gurdit Singh. He was a Sikh who had gone from India to Singapore, and had been in business as a contractor there and in the
Malay States. He was a man of some education and considerable
business experience, but he disliked the British Government of
India. He worked out a scheme which seemed to him to have
merit, whether it was successful or not. In the first place he
would take a shipload of East Indians to British Columbia.
■If he were successful in obtaining entry for them into Canada—
and this seemed probable in view of the decision in the Narain
Singh case—he would establish a steamship line from Calcutta
to Vancouver, to carry East Indians to Canada on the voyage
eastward, returning to India with lumber. If he failed to obtain
entrance to Canada for his passengers, he would at least have
the satisfaction of seriously embarrassing the British in India.
This much is clear from the written statement given by him to
a newspaper reporter when he landed in Vancouver on May 23,
1914, in which he said:—
The main object of our coming is to let the British Government know
how they can maintain their rule in India as the Indian Government is in
danger nowadays. We can absolutely state how the British Government
will last in India forever.''
This the reporter rightly took to mean that if Canada admitted his passengers, all would be well in India. If not, there
would be trouble.
(6) P.C. 23 and P.C. 24, 1914;  and P.C. 2642, 1913.
(7) Vancouver Sun, May 27, 1914. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru." 7
Gurdit Singh did not sail from India. He was aware that
there were many East Indians along the China Coast, many of
them Sikhs like himself, including time-expired men from the
British Army, who had some money and who were anxious to
go to Canada. Now that the Courts had decided, as they thought,
that East Indians could enter the country, a number of them
had collected at the Gurdwara or Sikh Temple at Hong Kong,
with the intention of making the voyage at the first opportunity.
Gurdit Singh got in touch with them, went to Hong Kong,
and there made the necessary arrangements for the journey.
Advances from those who wished to go to Canada with him
enabled him to charter a steamship, the Komagata Maru, through
the good offices of one Bune, a German shipping agent. The
ship was 329.2 feet in length and had a gross tonnage of 2,926
tons. She had been built in Glasgow in 1890 for German owners
as the Stubbenhuk. Later she had been renamed Sicilia and was
operated by the Hamburg-American Line. In 1914 she was the
property of a small Japanese company, the Shinei Kishen Go
Shi Kaisha.
The charter was for a period of six months at the rate of
11,000 Hong Kong dollars per month, the charterers to pay in
addition all charges for coal, water, pilotage, and port charges.
The first month's charges were paid in advance, and Gurdit
Singh was ready for the trip to Canada.8
The Government of Hong Kong was quite aware of the
intended invasion of Canada and did not approve of it. Its
members were not as confident as Gurdit Singh that all he had
to do was to go over and walk in. It was thought advisable to
stop the vessel from going on the proposed voyage if possible,
but it was found that this could not be done. Gurdit Singh was
worried by the action of the Hong Kong Government and consulted a well-known firm of solicitors, who advised him, in writing, that he was entitled to leave Hong Kong as and when he
saw fit. Gurdit Singh afterwards claimed that his solicitors
had advised him that he was entitled to land his passengers in
Canada, but, when obliged to produce their letter to him as proof,
(8) Report of the Komagata Maru Committee of Inquiry, Calcutta, 1914,
I., p. 3. Cited hereafter as Komagata Maru Report. Gurdit Singh's
financial status and dealings are dealt with at length in the report. 8 Robie L. Reid. January
it was found to contain no mention whatever of anything relating to this country.
There were 165 passengers in the Komagata Maru when she
sailed from Hong Kong. Gurdit Singh picked up another 111
persons in Shanghai, 86 in Kobe, and 14 in Yokahama, making
a total of 376 passengers in all. On May 21, 1914, the travellers
reached Victoria, and on the 23rd arrived in Vancouver. Word
of the coming of this large contingent of East Indians reached
Vancouver before the vessel herself, and there was great excitement amongst the inhabitants of the city, who were determined
that they should not be allowed to enter. This opposition was
not confined to the workers, but was general among all classes.
Boards of trade, municipal bodies, and other organizations
joined in the demand. The Press on both sides of politics
agreed that these applicants should be sent back to their own
land, though they vied with each other in attempting to prove
that the other side had not done, or was not doing, all that
should be done to send them away.
Precautions were taken at once to prevent any of the passengers from being landed surreptitiously, as it was known that
the coming of the Komagata Maru had been encouraged by the
local East Indians, who would have assisted those on board to
get on shore had there been any opportunity to do so. The
vessel was not allowed to dock, but was kept anchored in the
stream by direction of the Harbour Master. A constant patrol
was maintained about her both night and day. No one was
allowed to land from her except the captain and one of his men,
and Gurdit Singh and his secretary. None of the local East
Indians was allowed to go on board, lest weapons should be
smuggled into the hands of the passengers. This proved to be
a necessary measure, as will be apparent later.
The legal advisers of the Government were under a heavy
responsibility. It was their duty to see that the laws which had
been placed upon the Statute books were strictly enforced and
that all legal steps were taken to prevent the admission of the
men knocking at our door. They were not wanted here, not
only on their own account, but because they would, if admitted,
be the forerunners of thousands more. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru." 9
There were other dangers to be considered. The residents
of Vancouver were not long-suffering or slow to anger. They
were a mixed lot from all parts of the world, and were violently
opposed to the admission of Asiatics, as had been shown by the
anti-Asiatic riots of 1886 and 1907. The admission of the men
on the Komagata Maru would have been the occasion for an outbreak more violent than either of the earlier troubles, for the
city had grown in numbers and the opposition was stronger and
more widespread.
There was another side to this responsibility. These East
Indians were British subjects and were entitled to enter Canada
if the law permitted them to do so, irrespective of the wishes of
any one. The only question to be considered was a question of
law. The decision of Chief Justice Hunter in the Narain Singh
case was the danger point. As already explained, the opinion
of one Judge granting a writ of habeas corpus, even if it were
contrary to the opinions of all the other Judges on the bench,
would have admitted all the men on board the ship. It was only
fair to all persons concerned that this important question should
be decided by the highest Court in the Province, with due right
of appeal. This was the position taken by the counsel for the
Immigration Department, and from it they never varied.
On May 27, as soon as possible after the arrival of the Komagata Maru, we discussed the matter with J. Edward Bird, the
counsel for the applicants on board the ship, who was under
instructions from the local East Indians. Like ourselves, he was
anxious to get an authoritative decision on the points at issue,
and that as speedily as possible.
We suggested that this could only be done by a decision of
the Court of Appeal, with a right to either party to appeal to
a higher tribunal if either party wished. A test case could be
made in this way. Mr. Bird was to designate one of his clients,
and the one so designated was to come before a Board of Inquiry
for a hearing in the usual way. If on such hearing he was
ordered deported, Mr. Bird was to apply to a Judge of the
Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. Mr. Bird was to
allow this application to be dismissed without argument. He
was then to appeal to the Court of Appeal, and we were to facilitate the appeal in every way.   Thus the validity of section 23 10 Robie L. Reid. January
and of the Orders in Council could be definitely settled, and
no one's rights put in jeopardy, as all rights of appeal were
Mr. Bird was satisfied with our proposal, but it was necessary for him to obtain the approval of his clients before giving
his formal consent. He was evidently confident that they would
concur, for on May 28 he told a reporter of the course which
had been agreed upon, and apparently took considerable credit
to himself for having the matter arranged in this way.9
Mr. Bird submitted the matter to his clients for their
approval, and received an indignant refusal. The minutes of
the so-called Komagata Maru Committee, consisting mainly of
the local East Indians, which afterwards came into my hands,
show that on June 2 Gurdit Singh himself moved a resolution,
which was duly seconded and carried, that the legal adviser
should not allow any man on board to " go to such a stupid
Board of Inquiry," as he phrased it, but should apply for a writ
of habeas corpus at once. The course suggested by us and
approved by their counsel was thus peremptorily rejected.
So the matter stood. We were more than willing, we were
most anxious to have the legal question decided authoritatively
and at once, there being no dispute on the facts; but, with the
case of Narain Singh in our minds, we would not consent to
any course which would permit of any one Judge giving a
decision which would admit the applicants into Canada, and
this without any appeal to a higher Court.
Some individuals on the Komagata Maru had a legal right
to enter Canada. These were persons who had entered the
country before the Orders in Council above mentioned had come
into force, and so had acquired Canadian domicile. They claimed
that their absence in Asia was only a temporary visit and that
their home was in British Columbia. These cases were taken
up as speedily as possible, and twenty persons proved their
claims and were allowed to land.
All the applicants for admission were next examined by Dr.
A. S. Monro, the Medical Officer for the Immigration Department. He found that ninety of them were suffering from disease,
and these were ordered deported for this reason.
(9)  Vancouver Sun, May 29, 1914. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        11
Mr. Bird, acting under the instructions of the local East
Indians, objected strenuously to various regulations imposed by
the authorities. One objection was to the position of the vessel
in the harbour. He was advised that this position had been
selected by the Harbour Master, whose instructions on this point
had to be accepted by every one. Another objection was to the
armed patrols around the vessel. It was pointed out to him that
this was necessary to prevent illegal landings by means of small
boats, and for the protection of the men on board. He was
reminded of the feeling existing in the city, the danger of riots,
and the necessity of protecting the officers of the Immigration
Service, especially Malcolm Reid and Interpreter Hopkinson,
whose lives had been threatened.
The days dragged on. The Immigration Officers were kept
busy. At last, wearied by the delay, the imprisonment in the
vessel in the middle of the harbour, and their inability to make
any progress whatever, the men on the vessel became more
reasonable. Only two classes had been dealt with, the returning East Indians and those diseased, and for other than these,
no orders of deportation or admission had been made. In one
case, that of Wazir Singh, a hearing had been held, evidence
taken, and decision reserved. In this case Mr. Bird thought he
saw a chance to force the hands of the authorities, and on June
20 he made an application to the Supreme Court for a writ of
mandamus ordering them to make a decision one way or the
other. This was set down to be argued on the 22nd, but had to
be adjourned owing to the fact that Mr. Reid had not been
served. Evidently Mr. Bird was not sanguine of success in his
application, or was still of the opinion that the course that had
been discussed earlier was the proper one to be pursued in the
interest of his clients, for while the application was pending he
came to me and asked me to renew the old offer. I refused to
do so, but suggested that he make the offer this time. He did
so, and I accepted it after consultation with Mr. Ritchie. The
terms were set out in a letter from Mr. Ladner dated June 24,
and confirmed by a letter from Mr. Bird of the same date. The
application for mandamus was immediately withdrawn and the
decks cleared for action before the Court of Appeal. 12 Robie L. Reid. January
No time was lost in perfecting the appeal. I know of no
case where, in a matter of such importance, an appeal was prepared, set down, argued, and decided in such a short time. On
the 28th, one of the passengers, Munshi Singh by name, was
selected by Mr. Bird's clients, brought before a Board of Inquiry,
evidence taken, and an order of deportation made. Mr. Bird
then made an application to Mr. Justice Murphy for a writ of
habeas corpus, but no evidence was given or argument made
thereon. The writ was refused, and Mr. Bird appealed to the
Court of Appeal. Counsel for the Immigration Department gave
all assistance possible to press the matter on, with the result
that although argument of counsel on both sides took two days,
and decision was reserved, we were able to obtain a decision by
July 6.10 Robert Cassidy, K.C, and J. Edward Bird were counsel for Munshi Singh; W. B. A. Ritchie, K.C, and W. H. D.
Ladner for the Department of Immigration. All of the Judges
of the Court were present at the hearing and the decision was
unanimous. The Court held that section 23 was within the
power of the Government of Canada to enact, and that no Court
could interfere with a decision of a Board of Inquiry, unless it
had acted under Orders in Council which were not in accordance
with the powers given by the " Immigration Act." In this case
it was held that the Orders in Council under which the Board
had acted were within the powers given by the Act, and so the
Court had no jurisdiction to interfere. The writ of habeas
corpus was refused, and the applicants remained in the custody
of the Immigration authorities.
Our object had been achieved. Section 23 had been held
valid and binding on all Courts, and the Orders in Council
upheld. No appeal was taken and the decision has never since
been questioned. It stands to-day as a landmark in our law.
Owing to it, the work of the Immigration Department has been
simplified and few difficulties have arisen. Canada to-day stands
master of its shores, and admits only those who comply with
the requirements of its laws.
The delay in obtaining a decision on the law relating to the
matter, caused solely by the obstinacy of the applicants them-
(10)  In re Munshi Singh, 20 (1914), British Columbia Reports, 243. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        13
selves, acting under the advice of the local East Indians, caused
many complications both on board the ship and on shore. The
principal ones related to the unloading of the cargo on board,
the proposed loading of a new cargo for India, the payment of
the charter dues on the vessel, the moneys due on the cargo on
board the ship, and the supply of provisions and water for the
men on board.
The charter had been assigned to one Rahim Singh, as trustee
for the subscribers to a fund which had been raised to assist
the proposed immigrants. He demanded permission to remove
the cargo of coal from the ship, and for that purpose to place
it at a wharf. This demand could not be complied with, since
it would have given the passengers, or some of them, an opportunity to get on shore, no matter how carefully the ship might be
guarded. The Immigration officials were ready and willing to
facilitate the unloading and reloading the ship by means of
lighters, but this offer was refused.
Other complications arose over the fees falling due under the
terms of the charter. Gurdit Singh had no funds wherewith to
pay them. Moreover, he had induced coal-owners at Moji to
load the steamer with coal, which was to be paid for when the
coal was sold at Vancouver. The agents of the charterers were
threatening to cancel the charter and seize the ship, and the
vendors of the coal were clamoring for payment. Money was
raised by local East Indians and their friends in the United
States to meet the moneys falling due on the charter. In all,
some $22,000 was so raised. This money was not paid over at
once for this purpose, but the agents for the charterers becoming
insistent, the charter was assigned to Rahim Singh, as above
mentioned, and the overdue payments liquidated.
The men on board the ship got along as well as might be
expected, cooped up on shipboard day after day. There was
always a ray of hope until the case of Munshi Singh extinguished
it. Then hope died and they became desperate. Most of them
had staked all they had on the venture, and now they were to
be compelled to return to the land from which they came. Even
before the decision was given they had become unruly. On July
4, while the matter was before the Court, the Immigration
officers had allowed five of them to come on board the Govern- 14 Robie L. Reid. January
ment launch to visit with some friends from Nanaimo. The
visit over, the men on the Komagata Maru refused to allow the
gangplank to be lowered so that those on the launch could return
to the ship. It took considerable time and persuasion to induce
the men on board to change their minds and allow the five to
come on board.
Then the food question became acute. Gurdit Singh as charterer, and Rahim Singh as assignee, were, in turn, responsible
for the feeding of the passengers. Some food was provided by
the local East Indians. On June 6 the Immigration authorities
offered them 2 tons of flour, 200 lb. of rice, bread, and fruit;
but the offer was refused unless they were also supplied with
ginger, milk, 50 live sheep, 100 head of live poultry, and 200
boxes of cigarettes. Following this the passengers pretended to
stage a hunger strike. This was a bluff, for at the time it was
supposed to be going on they were secretly eating at night.
Even gifts of food from their friends on shore were refused.
By July 9 they were really in need of food. On that day
Mr. Bird went to Malcolm Reid and made a moving plea on
behalf of his clients. He said they were suffering both from
hunger and thirst, and begged for relief. Reid was moved by
his representations, and with the interpreter, Hopkinson, Ladner, and Pratt, of Mr. Bird's firm, went on board to see for
himself what the conditions really were. They confronted a
hostile company. The men were both hungry and thirsty, and
ready for anything. They threatened to hold Reid as a hostage
until their wants were supplied; they were going to take the
ship's boats and make for the shore, patrols or no patrols. The
discussion became heated, and at one time promised to end in
blows or worse. After a while the atmosphere cooled down,
and Reid was allowed to leave on the understanding that a certain amount of food and water would be supplied, and this was
done at once at the expense of the Department. By July 13
more food and water were being demanded. Reid refused the
demand, as he had already given them sufficient for the present.
He told them, however, that as soon as the ship was ready to
leave for Asia, he would provision her for the voyage. They
were not satisfied with this, and insisted that the provisions
should be placed on board at once. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        15
On July 18, C. Gardner Johnson, agent for the owners of
the ship, went on board with the Immigration officers and
delivered to the captain orders to sail at once. The captain said
he was quite ready to go, but that the East Indians on board
had taken charge of the ship. They would allow steam to be
kept up in the auxiliary boiler, which ran the electric light plant
and the pumps, but they would not allow any fire to be made
under the main boilers, so as to move the ship, and had threatened to assault any of the crew who should attempt to do so.
On their return to the shore, Johnson and the others conferred
with the Japanese Consul, the captain of the ship, and Gurdit
Singh, and it was agreed that no more provisions should be sent
to the ship until it was ready to leave for an Asiatic port.
Formal notice was then given to the captain that he must
leave at once. He was ready to do this, but was prevented, in
the manner stated, by the men on board. He was practically
a captive on his own ship. It was pointed out to him that under
the law of Canada he was liable to a fine of $500 for each of
the passengers on board, if they were not taken beyond the
3-mile limit at once, and that if he was prevented from doing
so it was his duty to call on the police for help. He was reluctant
to do this, as he and his crew were in the hands of the men on
While these things were going on, the East Indians on board
were demanding permission for representatives from their
friends on shore to come on board to talk over matters with
them. This was refused lest firearms should be smuggled on
board. This was no idle fancy, for local East Indians had been
endeavouring to purchase revolvers and bombs from local
dealers; and, finding this impossible, three of their number,
Hernan Singh, Bhag Singh, and Balwant Singh, members of the
Komagata Maru Committee, had gone to the State of Washington, via Sumas, and purchased revolvers and ammunition. This
action had been foreseen by the police and they were followed.
As soon as they recrossed the boundary into British Columbia
they were arrested, and their arms taken from them.
Then followed what has been called " The Battle of the
Komagata Maru." Captain Yamamoto, pressed by the Immigration officers on the one hand and by the desperate East Indians 16 Robie L. Reid. January
on the other, at last decided that there was nothing he could do
under the circumstances but apply to the police to give him command of his ship. He made a formal application, as provided
by law, and the police prepared to act, as they were duty bound
to do.
Militia forces were called out as a reserve, and it was
arranged that the actual attack should be made by 120 policemen
and 40 special Immigration officers, led by Police Chief Malcolm
McLennan and four Police Inspectors. To take possession of the
ship under these circumstances was no child's play. On board
there were some 300 men, many of them veteran soldiers, disappointed, deluded by their leaders, worn out by delay. No one
knew what arms or weapons they possessed. It was known,
however, that during their enforced detention on the ship they
had amused themselves by making clubs from driftwood floating
on the waters of Burrard Inlet, and there was plenty of coal,
and possibly other missiles, on the ship.
Personally, I knew nothing of the attempt to gain possession
of the ship until Saturday, July 18. In the afternoon of that
day Mr. Ladner and I had a talk over Komagata Maru matters
generally. During the conversation he told me that the ship
was to be taken by the police that night, and outlined the plans
which had been made and how they were to be carried out.
I asked him if the deck of the ship to be used by the police was
as high above the water as the deck of the Komagata Maru.
He said that that was all right, for they were going out on the
big sea-going tug Sea Lion. As I knew nothing whatever about
that vessel, his answer gave me no real information. However,
I knew Chief McLennan and the other officers of the police, and
I took it for granted that they understood the conditions which
would have to be met, and that all necessary precautions would
be taken. Later, I learned that Mayor Baxter had also suggested
to the police that a boat as high in the water as the Komagata
Maru ought to be used.
The police and Immigration forces went out to take possession of the ship, the militia remaining on the wharf to await
emergencies. They went in the Sea Lion, but her main deck
was some 15 feet lower than the deck of the Komagata Maru,
and this gave the men on board the latter a tremendous advan- 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        17
tage. Although the attacking forces acted with determination
and courage, their efforts were unavailing. They were met with
a fusillade of coal, bricks, and scrap-iron. The clubs made from
driftwood were made use of, together with spears made of
bamboo poles, with sharpened knives attached to the business
ends. Many on the tug were severely injured, including Chief
McLennan, and Mr. Ladner, who had gone with the police-
Under these conditions the police never had a chance. Their
only possible means of attaining their objective would have been
to use the rifles with which they were armed. McLennan was
loath to do this, and, wounded as he was, he would not allow
his men to use their guns. The upper part of the Sea Lion
became a wreck. She was ordered back to shore and the
wounded were sent to hospital for treatment. The men on the
Komagata Maru were jubilant. They thought they had defeated
the whole British Army, and rejoiced accordingly.
It may be asked why a larger vessel was not obtained for
the attempt to take possession of the ship. Personally I do not
know, but I am informed that, at the time, there was no larger
vessel in the harbour available. It may also be that the police
did not foresee that so formidable a force as that which went
out on the Sea Lion would meet with such stubborn opposition.
Things were now in a worse state than ever. The police had
attempted to take possession of the ship and had been repulsed.
It was a puzzle. But there was one man among us who saw
just a little farther ahead than the rest. That man was H. H.
Stevens, the sitting Member in the House of Commons for
Vancouver. He had taken an active interest in our troubles,
and done all he could to help us. He was on the Sea Lion on
that woeful night, but luckily escaped uninjured. He recognized
the dangers which confronted us, and it was he who perceived
the remedy. He remembered that the cruiser Rainbow was at
Esquimalt, and took steps to make her available in case of need.
The Rainbow was a second-class cruiser of the Apollo class,
built in 1893. Her length was 300 feet, her tonnage 3,600 tons.
Some years before she had been purchased from the Royal Navy,
along with the larger Niobe, to form the nucleus of a Canadian
Navy. The Rainbow had been sent to Esquimalt; the Niobe to
Halifax.    At the time of the Komagata Maru episode she was 18 Robie L. Reid. January
lying at Esquimalt, out of commission. Her armament was
two 6-inch guns and six 4-inch guns. Were she placed in commission, we could meet any emergency.
Mr. Stevens took the matter up with Premier Borden soon
after the arrival of the East Indian invasion. Quietly steps were
taken to put the Rainbow in condition to be used if the need
arose. With all possible dispatch she was refitted and manned.
It was given out to the public that she was being made ready
" for police work in northern waters." By July 11, fifty men
were on board, and a draft of fifty more was made from the
Niobe. By July 20 all was ready, and on the morning of the
21st she slipped quietly into Burrard Inlet, and anchored near
the Komagata Maru.
Mr. Bird retired from the matter after the decision in the
Munshi Singh case, and A. H. MacNeill took up the interests
of Rahim Singh, assignee of the Komagata Maru charter.
Immediately after the midnight battle he submitted alternative
offers of settlement to Malcolm Reid, who passed them on to me.
These offers were as follows:—
We, therefore submit for your consideration the following: As the matter
now stands, we think that the assignees of the charter of the K[omagata]
M[aru] are entitled as of right; (1) to land the cargo now on board the
steamer; (2) to load here a return cargo for the steamer; (3) place on
board any local passengers who may desire to so return to India; (4) Payment of the loss they have sustained by payments necessary to extend the
charter during the time the immigration department have taken to hold
their board of inquiry under the Immigration Act;
Bearing those circumstances in view, and with the sincere desire of
avoiding difficulty and ill-feeling, we submit the following alternative propositions for your consideration;
(1). The Government may send back all of the deported Hindus by any
other steam ship, and then permit the assignees of the charter to unload
the cargo and load a cargo and take on passengers for Hong Kong or India
and pay the sums which the assignees have been compelled to pay for charter
money while the vessel has been detained in port. (2). The Government to
pay the assignees of the charter passage money from Vancouver to Calcutta
for the deported Hindus at the rate of $100 apiece and the assignees will pay
for provisioning the passengers and will waive all other claims. (3). The
Government to pay to the assignees of the charter the sum of $25,000 for
passage money for the deported Hindus, Vancouver to Hong Kong, and the
assignees will pay for provisioning the passengers and will waive all other
claims. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        19
These far from modest claims were approved of by Mr. MacNeill himself. He said so. If it had not been for the opportune
arrival of the Rainbow we might have been compelled to accept
Mr. MacNeill's letter and Rahim Singh's signed admission11
show conclusively that the local East Indians were determined
that the ship should not leave Vancouver until the Government
had repaid to them, in one way or another, all moneys advanced
by them, whether paid to keep the charter alive or otherwise.
I had no instructions which would have made it possible, even
if I had wished to do so, to commit the Government to make
any such payments. I did the only thing I could do, and that
was to forward the letter to Ottawa for instructions.
Before the letter could reach Ottawa, the whole scene changed.
At the request of Premier Borden, the Hon. Martin Burrell,
Minister of Agriculture in the Borden Cabinet, came to Vancouver from his home in Grand Forks, B.C., to see if some settlement
could not be reached. He arrived in Vancouver on the afternoon
of July 21 and immediately went into conference with Mr.
MacNeill. His standing as a member of the Dominion Cabinet,
and the personal representative of the Premier, vested him with
an authority possessed by no other person. He absolutely
refused to consider any of the alternatives proposed by Mr.
MacNeill, although he ratified the offer, which had been previously made by Malcolm Reid, to provision the ship at the
expense of the Government for its trip back to Asia. He also
promised on behalf of the Premier that, if the ship would depart
at once and peaceably, the Government would appoint an independent commissioner to go into the matter, and that any well-
founded claims would be treated generously. He embodied this
offer in a letter to Mr. MacNeill in the following terms:—
Vancouver, B.C., July 21/14.
A. H. MacNeill, Esq.
Dear Mr. MacNeill:
I understand from you that one of the difficulties in the way of the
Komagata Maru at once leaving this port is that the assignees of the charter
and others believe they are entitled to a repayment of the money advanced
by them in good faith to the owners in the belief that they would be repaid
by the value of the cargoes.    As a member of the Government, I shall wire
(11)  Morse, p. 105. 20 Robie L. Reid. January
to the Prime Minister asking that these claims should be thoroughly looked
into by an impartial Commissioner, and will urge that full and sympathetic
consideration be given to those who deserve generous treatment. I must
point out, however, that this is conditional on the passengers now on the
Komagata Maru adopting a peaceable attitude, refraining from violence,
and conforming to the law by giving to the captain control of his ship
immediately, and agreeing to peaceably return to the port whence they
came. May I add that it is necessary that a decision should be reached
at once.
Yours truly,
M. Burrell.
(Min. of Agriculture)
The 22nd of July was a nerve-racking day. The East Indians,
both in the city and on the ship, were loath to accept so little
when they wanted so much. There were consultations between
those in the city who had put up funds to assist the men on the
Komagata Maru. There were consultations between the men on
the ship and representatives of the East Indians in the city.
We who had been in the thick of the struggle for two months
wondered if there would be peace or war. People crowded
windows and rooftops to see the battle between the Rainbow and
the Komagata Maru. Rumours came and went. The decision
was put off from hour to hour. Quietly the Rainbow lay near
the Indian ship, ready for action, but waiting for the word.
The strain on us all was terrific, until word came at last about
5 p.m. that Mr. Burrell's terms had been accepted, and that the
long struggle was ended. The East Indians would return from
whence they came. Mr. Burrell turned to me with a deep sigh
of relief, and said, " Mr. Reid, this is the most awful day in
my life. Another day like this would kill me." I replied,
" Mr. Burrell, now you know something of what we have gone
through for two long months."  He said, "Mr. Reid, now I know."
It has been suggested that Rahim Singh and his friends did
not understand the meaning of Mr. Burrell's letter above quoted,
and thought it was an absolute covenant on the part of the Government to repay to them the moneys which had been advanced,
and that Mr. MacNeill had to some extent misled them.12 Those
who make these suggestions do not know the business ability of
Rahim Singh, nor the integrity of his legal adviser. Both would
see at once that no definite promise to pay was mentioned therein.
(12) Ibid., p. 106. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        21
' The delay in the acceptance of Mr. Burrell's offer, both by the
East Indians on shore and on the ship, shows that they understood exactly what they were getting. At least to some extent
it saved their face. They, with the Rainbow at their side, had
to take what they could get. The Rainbow was the argument
that convinced them that they had no option in the matter, and
they accepted it.
As soon as the terms offered by Mr. Burrell were accepted,
the work of provisioning the ship for her voyage was commenced
and carried on with all possible speed. The authorities were
not niggardly in carrying out this promise. This is a list of the
supplies put upon the Komagata Maru:—
800 sacks of flour, 600 lbs. curry powder, 5,400 lbs. pulse, 6,000 lbs. sugar,
5,000 lbs. of potatoes, 20 sacks of onions, 10 sacks of carrots, 360 lbs.
Cayenne pepper, 6,000 lbs. butter, 2,000 lbs. rice, 500 lbs. salt, 7,000 lbs.
Ceylon tea, 10 boxes Sunlight soap, 240 cases canned milk, 600 lbs. ginger,
500 lbs. pickles, 1,000 bottles hair oil, 200 bottles vinegar, 20 tons of wood
for fuel, 1 box (case) matches, 200 lbs. tobacco, 200 quarts of molasses,
toilet paper, kerosine oil, and toilet soap.13
So, on the morning of July 23, the Komagata Maru left her
anchorage in Burrard Inlet and sailed for Asia with her disappointed passengers. Even then her troubles were not ended.
On reaching Yokohama, Gurdit Singh received a letter from the
Government of Hong Kong informing him that it was considered
inadvisable that any of the passengers should be landed there,
and threatening to enforce a local vagrancy ordinance against
any who might attempt to do so. Evidently a report of their
activities in Vancouver had become public property. This was
a blow to many who had come from that colony, and wished to
return to the scene of their former employment.
Gurdit Singh then told the British Consul at Yokohama that
the ship and its people would be willing to go to India if more
provisions were supplied. This request was refused, and ship
moved on to Kobe. Here some fifteen of the passengers disembarked. Gurdit Singh then attempted to get provisions from
the British Consul-General, and even accompanied his demands
with threatening demonstrations. In despair, the Consul wired
to the British Ambassador in Tokio, informing him of the condition of the unhappy passengers.   The Ambassador in reply
(13) Komagata Maru Report, pp. 10-11. 22 Robie L. Reid. January
instructed him to communicate with the Government of India,
which in turn authorized an expenditure of 19,000 yen to assist
them to return to their native land.14
On September 3 the Komagata Maru finally sailed from Kobe.
The ship reached Singapore on the 26th, but none of the passengers was allowed to leave the vessel there. War with Germany
had commenced, and it was considered advisable that they should
be compelled to return not merely to India, but to the districts
from which they had originally come. Accordingly the ship
was directed to go to Calcutta, and to land the men on board at
Budge Budge, 14 miles south of the city, where special trains
would be in readiness to take them to the Punjab. This was
done, but, on landing there, most of them refused to board a train
or to leave Calcutta. A clash with the police followed in which
twenty-six people were killed, including Superintendent Eastwood of the Calcutta Police, and Mr. Lomax, a District Superintendent of the Eastern Bengal State Railway. Evidently
firearms had been obtained in Japan, for Lomax was shot and
others wounded in the melee by American .38 revolvers. After
the fight over two hundred of the men from the ship were
arrested, but some escaped to outlying districts and caused disturbances in many parts of India for a considerable time.16
In British Columbia, only one thing remained to be done.
A promise had been made by Mr. Burrell on behalf of Premier
Borden, and this was duly carried out. Mr. H. C Clogstoun,
of Duncan, B.C., a retired Indian official of long experience, was
appointed as Commissioner to hear and determine the matters
referred to in Mr. Burrell's letter to Mr. MacNeill. He took
evidence from all parties interested, and his conclusion was
that the East Indians, who had paid out moneys on behalf of the
Komagata Maru and its passengers, had no equitable or other
grounds for asking repayment by the Dominion Government,
as most of them had been actuated by dishonest and seditious
The allegation that the immigration authorities mishandled
the affair seems to me improper and unjust. Looking back from
the vantage-ground of years, I cannot see what we did that was
(14) Ibid., p. 13.
(15) Ibid., p. 14 et seq.;  also Appendix IV. 1941     The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru."        23
wrong, nor where we could have done better. We had nothing
to do with making the law; our duty was to enforce it. This
we did. We had a difficult task before us, and I feel that we
did our best to perform it without fear or favour.
I am quite ready to give the Hon. Martin Burrell all credit
for the work he did in the last days of the trouble, but it must
always be remembered that the presence of the Rainbow and her
shotted guns was the decisive argument that made his work
successful, and that her presence was due to the foresight and
resource of the Hon. H. H. Stevens.
Robie L. Reid.
Fishery Bay, or, to give it its Indian name, Tsim-golth-l'angsin,
is on tidal waters and about 14 miles from the mouth of the Nass
River. It is one of the oldest and most remarkable fisheries in
the world.
Nass and Nassgah or Nisgah, the names respectively by
which this famous river and its people are known to-day, did not
originate with the Indian tribes on the river. They are not
Nisgah terms at all, but were given by an alien people—the
Tlingit, of south-eastern Alaska. How this came about is thus
described by my father in his book, In the Wake of the War
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, . . . 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
[regarding place names] given them by these Tlingit Indians by which the
tribes on the river, as also the river itself, became known.1
To the Tlingits the river was of importance principally because
of its oolachan fishery, and accordingly they had named it the
Nass, or " food depot."
The history of this little fish is an epic in itself.
It is not as big as a herring, but much richer, hence the name
of " candle-fish," by which it is sometimes known. When dried,
the Indians in olden days used it as a torch, and in their lodges,
in mid-winter, when honoured guests arrived, after a long cold
journey on the ice, dried oolachans were thrown on the fire to
cheer and warm the fresh arrivals. In early days Indians came
great distances to procure a supply of these fish, and especially
the grease extracted from them. Many of their dishes required
a lubricant to help the food down, and grease was eaten with
dried salmon, dried halibut, with chopped-up seaweed, and dried
berries. I have also seen them take the grease in large quantities
(1) W. H. Collison, In the Wake of the War Canoe, Toronto, n.d., p. 65.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V., No. 1.
25 26 H. A. COLLISON. January
Oolachan grease was, indeed, one of the necessities of life to
the Indians over a vast area of the Northwest Coast and the
adjacent interior. To secure a supply, as I have said, they frequently travelled long distances, and it was an article of barter
between tribe and tribe.
The famous Grease Trail, from the Upper Nass to the Skeena,
derives its name from the traffic in oolachan grease. I followed
this famous trail more than thirty years ago, in a journey to
Meziadin Lake. We picked it up at the head of canoe navigation
on the Nass, and followed it for 20 miles to the junction of the
Cranberry River with the Nass. Here we crossed the Cranberry
on an ancient Indian bridge, and branched off on an old hunting-
trail along the Nass to Meziadin, leaving the Grease Trail, which
took a north-easterly direction to Kitwancool Lake, and thence to
its terminus on the Upper Skeena. This trail has a long and
interesting history, for over it Indians from the far interior have
travelled for centuries. I only regret that I did not take more
careful stock of this historic highway. At the same time, I have
a very clear recollection of it. It was narrow, like most trails,
but had this distinction, that it was deeply furrowed from frequent use by many people in the long ago.
Now that the native races of British Columbia are more and
more adopting the white man's food and manner of life, there is
no longer the necessity of harvesting the oolachan on the same
gigantic scale as in primitive times. It is only the older people
that keep this ancient fishery going, and they are nearly all gone.
The old Grease Trail is still there, but it is rapidly becoming
obliterated, and will one of these days completely disappear.
There are several of these trails in British Columbia and
Alaska, the best-known of which are those up the Stikine River
and along the Bella Coola Valley. The latter was the route
followed by the celebrated explorer, Alexander Mackenzie, on his
famous journey to the Pacific Coast in 1793. But these were not
specifically grease trails, although they served the purpose: they
were, strictly speaking, trade routes linking the Coast with the
abundant resources of the Interior. As far as I know, the trail
on the Upper Nass is the only one to which the term can be
properly applied.    It is the Grease Trail. 1941 The Oolachan Fishery. 27
By the Grease Trail, Indians came overland from points on
the Upper Skeena and far beyond. They came, when the snow
was still deep, travelling on snow-shoes and hauling their belongings on sleighs. When they reached the Nass they could still
travel on the ice, a distance of nearly 50 miles, to the fishery.
In the event of the ice leaving the river before they were ready
to return, there were always canoes to be hired for a consideration. But, as a rule, they left the grease in their fishing-lodges
and returned as they had come (that is over the Grease Trail)
with very little to hamper their movements. Then later on in
the season they came in their canoes down the Skeena and up the
coast to the Nass and loaded the grease into their larger canoes.
Some of these could carry with comparative safety 4,000 pounds
—about eighty cases; and as several families would club together
in the use of one large canoe there would be plenty of man-power.
The tribes that came from the Upper Skeena, through intermarriage and speaking practically the same language, were
generally on good terms with the Nisgahs, and were allowed by
them to have a permanent encampment of their own near the
fishery. Here, in lodges, these visiting tribes could leave their
fishing-gear and other equipment without the risk of its being
stolen or tampered with. It was certain of the Coast tribes,
particularly the Haidas from the Queen Charlotte Islands, with
whom the Nisgahs were so constantly at loggerheads, whose
intrusion upon this valuable fishery was so often bitterly resented
and resisted. The Indians from the Interior brought furs with
which to pay the tribes, resident on the river, for the right to fish
and also for the use of their nets, equipment, and for shelter
during the season. These furs were principally marmot and
rabbit skins, generally sewn together to form rugs for bed-covers
or robes. Not infrequently, when furs were scarce, they handed
over their children in barter for food. These were in turn handed
over by the Nisgahs to the Haidas, as part-payment for the marvellous cedar canoes, of which the Haidas were master builders.
In addition to the tribes from the Interior, large contingents
came to Fishery Bay from the Coast, and even from the Queen
Charlotte Islands, 100 miles distant. These last made a quick
trip, towards the end of the season, bringing with them plentiful 28 H. A. COLLISON. January
supplies of dried sea-foods, which they exchanged for dried
oolachans and grease.
Many a bitter fight took place in bygone days, especially when
visiting tribes were not on friendly terms with the Nisgahs, in
whose territory the fishing-grounds were situated. There is
nothing remarkable about the fishing-ground itself. Five or six
miles above the fishery is the highest reach of the salt-water tide.
In common with most rivers, constantly shifting shoals (sandbars) abound. A fair-sized river, coming in from the east, the
Ichginik, joins the Nass at this point. And this is about all that
is outwardly noticeable in the surroundings. Quite frequently,
the ice is still on the river when the fish arrive. From immemorial times they have been arriving with unfailing regularity
in these tidal waters. The Indians look for them on or about
March 17. Before the advent of the white man, with his foods,
this little fish, coming as it does between seasons, when the winter
supplies have been exhausted and before the arrival of the early
salmon,.and when the bear is still asleep in his den, was the salvation of these native races. Even a delay in the arrival of the
fish worked incredible hardships, particularly among the old
The excitement in the old days consequent upon the arrival of
the oolachan, when fighting among the tribes was common, must
have been intense. Even under normal conditions this unpretentious fishing village, deserted for most of the year, almost
overnight presents a scene of extraordinary and ever-varying
Descendants of those tribes, who were continually at each
other's throat, to-day meet as friends. The old feuds are forgotten. The several weeks during which fishing operations are
in progress are not all work. The monotony of life is relieved
by feasting and entertainment, in which these people excel. It is
a season of mutual helpfulness. They come and go. There has
been co-operation, enough and more than enough has been
obtained to meet all needs. It is a miniature of what the world
should and could be to-day. There is plenty for all. The one
thing needed is mutual helpfulness and co-operation. Here, at
this ancient fishery, there is no needless waste.    The Indians 1941 The Oolachan Fishery. 29
catch enough for their own requirements and a little more which
they can barter for other foods.
The quantity of the run of fish has varied; there have been
peak years when the abundance of the oolachan baffled description, and years when it has not been so plentiful; but it has
never, to my knowledge, completely failed. My father, who
invariably spent some time at Fishery Bay during the run, saw
the Indians land thousands of tons in a single season, and he was
able to demonstrate, to his own satisfaction and that of the
natives, that at least an equal amount was consumed by the seagulls.2 And if the sea-gulls made away with such a quantity,
what shall we say of the seals, with their greater capacity
and opportunity, being in the same element. Seals follow the
oolachan right up to their spawning-ground. I have even seen
seals at Aiyansh, 60 miles from the mouth of the river, breasting
the swiftest of currents with apparent ease, when the salmon run
was in full swing. In the above estimate of the abundance of
the oolachan no mention has been made of diving birds, or of the
sea-lions, porpoises, and fin-back whales who take an incredible
toll of the fish before they reach the shallow water.
Methods of harvesting the little fish, in earliest times, were
not nearly so effective as in recent times when the Indians
acquired the use of the net, and could catch all and more than
they required in a comparatively short time, and with the
minimum of effort. When 5 to 10 tons of fish were necessary to
supply the requirements of each household, it can readily be
imagined how tedious and onerous was the old method of obtaining the fish. Ankidah is the name of a village that used to stand
on the lower end of an island in mid-stream, 3 miles above the
oolachan fishery. The name takes us back a long way in time,
for it has reference to a very primitive method of catching the
oolachan. This was done with a long stick, of which one end
for 2 feet or more was fitted with wooden spikes, well sharpened.
Armed with such an instrument as this the Indian fisherman sat
in his small canoe, or dugout, and used the stick in much the same
manner as a paddle. Passing through a shoal of fish he generally
succeeded in impaling a number at every stroke and turning them
into his canoe.    This spiked stick is known as the " kidah," and
(2)  Collison, op. cit., p. 70. 30 H. A. COLLISON. January
its general use by the Indian of this encampment during the
oolachan fishing gained for it the name " Ankidah," or the place
where the " kidah " is used. How the native fisherman managed
when the river was frozen over is not stated.
As a matter of fact the ice, with the introduction of the net,
so far from being a hindrance, was a real advantage. It enabled
them by means of poles, driven through holes in the ice into the
bed of the river, to keep the net in position, and also provided a
safe and roomy platform for handling and transporting the catch.
Fishing in open water was attended with no small risk. The
currents are strong and the Nass is notorious for its down-stream
winds at this season of the year. Besides, there were the ice
floes to be guarded against. There was always the difficulty of
handling heavy gear in a small craft, like a canoe or skiff, already
low in the water with the weight of fish. It was remarkable that
with all these handicaps to contend with there were so few
During the day, men and women and even children were kept
fully occupied conveying the fish to the shore in sleighs, drawn
by dogs, where they were stored in wooden bins. Formerly the
fish, already in an advanced state of putrifaction, were boiled in
large wooden boxes into which stones, heated in large fires, had
been thrown. The process was repeated until the grease floated
freely upon the surface, when it was skimmed off into chests
made of cedar.
With the coming of the whites, empty 5-gallon petroleum cans
were in great demand for this purpose. They were easily
handled, and there was no leakage, and therefore nothing like the
smell which the old grease-soaked boxes had. The process of
extracting the grease has been greatly simplified by the modern
use of large vats with sheet-iron bottoms.
It has been a fortunate thing for the Indian and for the
oolachan that no commercial use for it has been discovered. It
cannot be preserved in cans, like other kinds of fish. The result
of this has been that there has been no appreciable diminution in
the supply. The fish arrive with unfailing regularity about the
same time every year; and if the Indian of to-day has not the
same need for it as his forefathers had, there are still the birds 1941 The Oolachan Fishery. 31
and the sea mammals who will see to it that the balance of nature
is maintained.
The oolachan does not come unheralded, as is the case with
other fish that spawn in these waters. The arrival of the silvery
horde is accompanied by the unwonted appearance, in these
narrow and confined channels, of marine monsters that are never
seen there at any other time.
Fin-back whales, sea-lions, porpoises, and seals appear—not
to mention myriads of salt-water fowl and sea-gulls. The surface of the waters at this season is literally black with sea birds,
and overhead there is a never-ending stream of sea-gulls. Sea-
lions in their eagerness to overtake and gorge themselves on
these tempting morsels, forget for the moment their usual
caution, pursue them into narrow and shallow channels between
the sand-bars, where they run aground, and then there follows
a tremendous commotion. The Indians leave them severely
alone, even when thus temporarily trapped, as they are vicious
and powerful creatures.
The sea-gulls, a wonderful and beautiful sight, in a steady
stream, sometimes widening out to half a mile, fly up-river early
in the day, and even when darkness has descended upon the scene,
their screams can be heard as they wing their flight back to the
security of the open sea.
The question has repeatedly been discussed by Indians and
others, how any of the fish survive to reach the spawning-grounds
when their enemies are so numerous. The explanation is, it is
supposed, 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.
The story of the relations of the Hudson's Bay Company with
the Russian American Company in what is now southeastern
Alaska and northern British Columbia offers an interesting
instance of co-operation between the fur-trading enterprises of
two nations. The concerns, by an agreement reached in 1839,
resolved difficulties encountered in the exploitation of one of the
last great areas to be opened by the European fur trade. The
pattern of the alliance was ten years in evolving, but, when
accepted, proved to be sound economically until Russia withdrew
from America.1
By 1829, when first overtures were made by the British,
reorganization of the Columbia Department of the Hudson's Bay
Company had been going on for several years under the direction
of the man who might be called the greatest business-man of the
fur trade, George Simpson. The Russian American Company,
on the other hand, was in a more static position, representing the
principles of bureaucracy more than it did those of business.
The fur trade everywhere was faced with the problem of
adapting organization to geographic setting. The fur empire of
the Russians was always maritime in nature; it had been found
that key points on the island and mainland shores gave control
of sources of fur. The main difficulties of the Russian company
were the result of its remoteness from food, goods, and markets.
The early history of the company was therefore inextricably
bound up with its experiments and dreams of a self-sufficient
economy. The Hawaiian Islands and California were investigated as sources of supply, and the company soon came to depend
(1) This paper is a general account. The only reference known to the
writer which takes more than incidental note of the topic is Arthur S.
Morton, A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71, London, 1939; see
parts of Chapters VIII. and IX.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V.. No. 1.
33 34 Donald C Davidson. January
upon the voyages of its own or leased vessels to both places.
Fort Ross, in California, was founded in 1812 as an agricultural
colony. The situation also forced a reluctant dependence on the
"Boston man," or independent American trader; a good percentage of the manufactured goods and foodstuffs needed in
Russian America reached their destination in American bottoms.
The American skipper was, however, a competitor, and was not
bound by the need to preserve friendly relations with the Indians.
As early as 1808 Russia began to make complaints to the United
States about unscrupulous competition and the traffic in arms,
ammunition, and liquor.
At its inception, the trade of the North Pacific and its eastern
rim was based essentially upon the maritime approach. The
maritime trade, however, was basicly predatory and plundering
in character. Indeed it was little more than a race to obtain all
the sea-otter possible before that animal became scarce. The
overland trade, on the other hand, could be developed upon a
sound basis, providing the necessary " life-lines " were established. John Jacob Astor realized that a firm economy depended
upon a unified scheme for maritime and landward enterprise on
the Northwest Coast, and upon regular communication around
Cape Horn, but his experiment in the Columbia River drainage-
basin was short-lived. The British representatives west of the
Rocky Mountains prior to 1821 were the fur-men of the North
West Company. It had been beyond their powers to grasp firmly
a geographical advantage defined by Thomas Hart Benton in
1818: " There is but one port, and that the mouth of the Columbia—but one river, and that the Columbia itself . . ."2 While
they had sent several supply-ships to the mouth of the Columbia
River, they were forced to rely mainly upon transportation lines
consisting of waterways and portages which led far eastward
to depots on the Great Lakes. The resulting remoteness, combined with a loose administrative structure, resulted in poor
returns from the Columbia and Fraser River drainage-basins;
indeed, abandonment of the western regions had been considered
by the Nor' Westers, who were preoccupied with the expensive
conflict with the Hudson's Bay Company in more easterly regions.
(2)  T. H. Benton, Thirty Years' View    .    .    .    , New York, 1854, I.,
p. 110. 1941 Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.     35
When the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company united in 1821, the situation changed. Unity brought
strength and the keen analytical powers of George Simpson into
the fur-trading scene west of the Rocky Mountains. Simpson
laid the basis for expansion into the Russian spheres of influence
in America, from the south by sea and from the east by the
waterway-portage systems leading from the Mackenzie River.3
As a result of Simpson's visit to the Pacific Coast in 1824-1825,
the Columbia Department was established as a separate unit,
to be supplied by sea as well as directed from London. The
possibilities of trade with California, Russian America, and the
Sandwich Islands were investigated and included as parts of
Simpson's plans for reorganization, consolidation, and expansion.
Another phase was provisioning. In his journal Simpson commented :—
It has been said that Farming is no branch of the Fur Trade but I consider
that every pursuit tending to leighten the Expence of the Trade is a branch
Accordingly the headquarters of the company in Old Oregon was
moved from Fort George (Astoria) to Fort Vancouver, where
there was land suitable for agriculture, a post was to be founded
in the fertile lower valley of the Fraser River, and other agricultural centres were to be established.
By 1829 the part of the plan relating to expansion northward
along the Coast had firm foundations in the Columbia Department. The sending of an emissary to Sitka, or New Archangel,
to propose friendly relations between the two companies was
justified. It was to take ten years to convince the Russians of
the wisdom of co-operation, but the agreement of 1839 finally
incorporated the ideas advanced by Simpson in his first letter to
the manager of the Russian American Company.
Simpson introduced the subject by mentioning plans for
Up to the present time our attention on this side of the continent has been
directed to matters relating to the interior lands, but now we have in view
(3) The plans for expansion by the Liard River approach to the headwaters of the Stikine and Porcupine Rivers, and through the Peel River
gateway to the Yukon River were part of a programme which developed in
the 1830's.
(4) Frederick Merk, ed., Fur Trade and Empire, Cambridge, Mass., 1931,
p. 50 and passim. 36 Donald C Davidson. January
the extension of our commerce to the coast and the establishment of a house
near the northern frontier. This will greatly increase the opportunities for
communication between us and, I hope, will consolidate the friendly relations
which we have so long wished for.B
He went on to expound sound bases for consolidation of friendly
relations. An ever-present threat to profits and peace of mind
were the American ships trading with the natives of the Coast.
Simpson suggested that amicable understanding would result in
the two monopolies being in a better position to combat this
The treaty of February 4/16, 1825, which defined the boundary between Russian and British North America, had forbidden
the sale of arms, ammunition, and liquor to the Indians. Tentatively, Simpson indicated that measures in this respect would
render relations with the natives less dangerous than previously.
While it was not mentioned specifically in the letter, he was
undoubtedly aware that this trade could not be terminated while
American ships continued to visit the Coast. The Hudson's Bay
Company had no desire to trade in arms and liquor, and the
Russian American Company protested against the traffic on the
part of Americans from 1808 to 1840.
Simpson made two definite suggestions. He had observed two
of the fundamental difficulties encountered by the Russians:
transportation and food supplies. That Russian America had
no regular or direct communication with Russia and Europe, he
wrote, had come to his attention. Since the British in the trans-
montane west were supplied annually by one or two ships coming
direct from England, it was suggested that it would be of mutual
advantage to have these ships transport an additional 50 to 100
tons of British manufactured goods, for delivery to Sitka, at a
" small profit." Secondly, he offered to supply the Russians with
4,000 to 5,000 bushels of grain and 8,000 to 10,000 hams and
salted meats each year. This was obviously designed to find a
market for the production of the newly established farming-
(5) Simpson to Manager of the Russian American Company, Fort Vancouver, March 20, 1829, Alaska Boundary Tribunal, Case of the United
States, Washington, D.C, 1903, Appendix, p. 259; cited hereafter as Case of
the United States, Appendix. Also issued as Proceedings of the Alaska
Boundary Tribunal (U.S. Cong., Cong. 58, Sess. 2, S.E. 162), Washington,
1903-04, vol. II. 1941  Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.      37
posts. The British company was prepared to inaugurate this
trade in 1830.
A copy of this letter was sent directly from Hudson's Bay
House in London to the headquarters of the Russian American
Company in St. Petersburg. A covering letter placed more
emphasis upon the material damage suffered by both companies
as a result of American trading activities.6 The immediate
results of Simpson's letter were slight. The Russian company
promised to enforce the terms of the 1825 treaty forbidding the
traffic in arms, ammunition, and liquor, and suggested that the
British company issue similarly strict orders.
It was to take a series of international and intercompany-
incidents to convince the Russians of the mutual advantages
which would result from co-operation along the lines suggested
by George Simpson. At the time it was natural that the Russians
should regard the British proposals with distrust. There had
previously been no direct relationships between the monopolies,
and the part played by the Hudson's Bay Company in the diplomacy which resulted in the treaty of 1825 had been an important
one. That treaty had established a boundary which was some
hundreds of miles away from British fur-trade posts, and which
was therefore decidedly to the advantage of the Hudson's Bay
The incidents arose from the free recourse to harbours
between Lynn Canal and 54° 40' which was permitted to ships
of both the United States and Great Britain, under the terms of
the Russian-American treaty of April 5/17, 1824, and the Russo-
British treaty of February 4/16, 1825,7 for ten-year periods.
The presence of American ships was thus assured, and the British
plans for northward expansion were no secret. In the 1825
treaty, as well, the British were guaranteed the right of navigation of rivers flowing through the lisiere, or present Alaska
" Panhandle," in perpetuity. In 1832 Governor Wrangell of
the Russian American Company wrote home that he thought the
hope that American ships would cease to frequent the coasts
(6) Hudson's Bay Company to Russian American  Company, London,
December 16, 1829, Case of the United States, Appendix, pp. 260-261.
(7) Article IV. of the former and Article VII. of the latter, for ten
years in each case. 38 Donald C Davidson. January
north of 54° 40' when the free trading right expired in 1834 was
an illusory one.8 He was contemplating measures designed to
check the British as well as the American traders.
On the very day that the ten-year period of the Russo-
American treaty came to a close two " Yankee skippers," Snow
and Allen, were served notice to keep out of the waters north of
54° 40'. They refused to heed the warning and continued in
their trading.9 This incident served to reawaken the antagonistic viewpoints of the two countries on rights to trade. The
United States again began to press the principle of commercial
equality, and claimed not to have admitted in the convention of
1824 any exclusive Russian rights north of 54° 40', except at
points occupied by Russia. With equal sincerity, Russia felt
that she had made a material concession in granting free trade
north of that boundary, and only for a period of ten years.
The local authorities in Russian America took active steps to
repel American traders, while the Snow-Allen protest filtered
through the different bureaucratic agencies in St. Petersburg,
and emerged eventually as a suggestion that the United States
take the most suitable steps to inform American shipping that
all rights to trade in Russian American waters had been terminated.10 Washington countered with a request for renewal of
the free trading privilege, but found the Russian Ambassador
unprepared to answer,11 while the American Minister to Russia
discovered that the request was faced by the definite opposition
of the Russian American Company, an attitude which was
apparently supported by the Russian Vice-Chancellor, Count
(8) Wrangell to Directors, New Archangel, May 6 (o.s.), 1832, Alaska
Boundary Tribunal, Counter Case of the United States, Washington, D.C,
1903, Appendix, p. 2; cited hereafter as Counter Case of the United States,
Appendix. Also issued as Proceedings of the Alaska Boundary Tribunal
(U.S. Cong., Cong. 58, Sess. 2, S.E. 162), Washington, 1903-04, vol. IV.
(9) Report of the Board of Directors of the Russian American Company,
November 27 (o.s.), 1834, Case of the United States, Appendix, p. 232.
(10) Baron Krudener to Asbury Dickins, Acting Secretary of State,
Washington, May 19/31, 1835, ibid., p. 236.
(11) Forsyth to Krudener, Washington, June 24, 1835; Krudener to
Forsyth, June 29/July 11, 1835, ibid., pp. 235-236.
(12) Forsyth to William Wilkins, Washington, July 30, 1835; Wilkins
to Forsyth, September 7, December 11, 1835, ibid., pp. 239-241;  244-246. 1941 Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.      39
After a delay, negotiations were resumed in 1837. Meanwhile, the American brig Loriot was driven out of Russian waters
by an armed Russian vessel, and the purpose of her voyage
defeated. For this the American government presented a claim
for damages. Russia refused either to pay the claim or to consider renewal of the free trade agreement.13
While this action was being taken by Russia, the relationship
with Great Britain was also under a strain. In April, 1832, the
schooner Cadboro, one of the vessels purchased by the Hudson's
Bay Company for its coasting trade, arrived at New Archangel.
On board was Peter Skene Ogden, in charge of British operations
on the coast north of the Columbia. Ogden had a series of discussions with Baron Wrangell, in which common problems were
discussed. Ogden's method of meeting American competition
aroused the admiration of the Russian; this was to follow the
American ships and immediately to offer two or three times the
Americans' prices. Ogden admitted that he was virtually forced
to use some liquor in trading with the Indians. However, he
stated that trade in arms and ammunition was not a policy of his
company, despite reports to the contrary received at New Archangel from American captains.
The offer to supply the Russians with food and merchandise
was repeated. Wrangell phrased his refusal in terms which
indicated that such an agreement would be possible only if the
Hudson's Bay Company could definitely undertake to relieve the
Russian American Company from all dependence on the ships of
other powers. His attitude was diplomatic and open to suggestion, but Wrangell still hoped to solve the problems of his
company within its own structure.14
In dispatches reporting Ogden's visit, Wrangell weighed the
implications of the British plans.   Ogden had mentioned the
(13) The first printing of correspondence relating to this phase of
Russian-American relations was contained in U.S. Cong., Cong. 25, Sess. 3,
S.E. 1, and Cong. 50, Sess. 2, S.E. 106. Almost without exception, material
printed in the proceedings of the boundary tribunal is faithful to the text of
less accessible and earlier printed sources. B. P. Thomas, Russo-American
Relations, 1815-1867, Baltimore, 1930, is a general treatment of its subject,
based upon papers in the State Department at Washington.
(14) Wrangell to Board of Directors of the Russian American Company,
New Archangel, May 6 (o.s.), 1832, Counter Case of the United States,
Appendix, pp. 1-2. 40 Donald C Davidson. January
desire to establish a British post beyond the Russo-British boundary on the Stikine River. Already the Russians had noticed
that the Hudson's Bay post founded in 1831 near the mouth of
the Nass River on Observatory Inlet had won many Indians.16
At this post the British were receiving furs which formerly
would have gone to New Archangel. The results which would
follow the establishment of a British post inland and behind
Russian territory were a further source of concern to Wrangell.16
A struggle was clearly impending between the two chartered
monopolies for the control of the fur trade of southeastern
Russian America and adjacent parts of British North America.
In the spring of 1834 both companies were making aggressive
preparations to that end. The British, in planning their post
on the Stikine, were employing a device old in the annals of the
competitive North American fur trade; they anticipated that
the fort would divert to their hands furs which previously had
reached Russian ship-trading expeditions through Indian middlemen. Depletion of fur-supply to the east of the Rocky Mountains
provided one incentive for finding new sources of fur. By 1833
the Minutes of Council of the Northern Department of Rupert's
Land were showing the concern of that policy-forming body over
the situation in the east. By 1841 and 1842 a definite conservation policy had been adopted for that section of the British fur
empire.17 Accordingly, it was increasingly desirable to expand
northward from the Columbia River, and to send prospecting
expeditions from the Mackenzie River into the unexplored far
Early in May, 1834, Governor Wrangell, anticipating British
movements, ordered the establishment of Redoubt St. Dionysius
on an island opposite the mouth of the Stikine River. He reported
that he would use this and other means to prevent the British
from ascending the river to found a post.18    The Russians in
(15) Fort Simpson, moved in 1834 to the tip of the Tsimpsean Peninsula.
(16) Wrangell to Board of Directors, May 6 (o.s.), 1832, Case of the
United States, Appendix, pp. 264-265.
(17) E. H. Oliver (ed.), The Canadian North West, Ottawa, 1915, II.,
pp. 704, 831, 850.
(18) The post was near the present city of Wrangell, Alaska. Wrangell
to Directors, April 28 (o.s.), 1834, Case of the United States, Appendix, pp.
265-267. 1941  Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.      41
America later used the treaty of 1825 to justify the establishment
of this post as a barrier to the British. Since the treaty forbade
the ships of one power from having recourse to points occupied
by the other without permission, it was argued that the British
in seeking access to the Stikine River would necessarily pass
Redoubt St. Dionysius, and accordingly violate the terms of the
In 1833 the Hudson's Bay Company had made a provisional
survey and had sent a boat 15 miles up the Stikine River.20 In
the following year a fully equipped expedition was sent in the
brig Dryad to establish the Stikine post. June 18, 1834, was a
crucial date in the relationships of the two companies. On that
day the Dryad came into Stikine Sound and anchored off Redoubt
St. Dionysius. Ogden, in charge of the party, was promptly
handed a blanket proclamation signed by Governor Wrangell.
This expressed the hope that the British would avoid clashes with
two Russian ships stationed north of 54° 40' by refraining from
trading activities. In actual fact the proclamation was in error
when it claimed that the British had no rights to trade in Russian
waters; the American rights had expired, but the clause in the
Russo-British treaty of 1825 had still almost a year to run.
Twice that day Ogden was visited by Russian officials.
Despite language difficulties he firmly stated that he intended to
proceed up the Stikine River.21 The following day Ogden went
ashore to confer. There the Russians drew attention to their
mailed fist, the brig Chichagoff of 14 guns and 84 men, and indicated that force would be used to prevent the founding of the
British fort in the interior. At least, that was Ogden's understanding, although the Spanish of a Russian interpreter, as translated into English by the Surgeon Tolmie, may have given the
original intention a few twists of meaning.
(19) Deputy Governor Etolin to Ogden, New Archangel, June 14/26,
1834, ibid., pp. 269-270.
(20) Draft declaration of Captain Alexander Duncan, London, November
17, 1836, in Otto Klotz, copyist, Certain Correspondence of the Foreign Office
and the Hudson's Bay Company, Ottawa, Department of the Interior, 1899,
part V., pp. 17-20.
(21) The greater part of Ogden's account, with accompanying documents, is printed in Case of the United States, Appendix, pp. 267-270. 42 Donald C Davidson. January
After eleven days the Hudson's Bay Company expedition
withdrew. Many years later a member of the Dryad party
wrote: " The Russians bluffed us off,"22 which summarizes what
seems to have happened. A contributing factor to the British
retreat was the unveiled hostility of the Stikine Indians. The
attitude of these middlemen was as threatening as that of the
Russians was discouraging. Yet the Dryad affair was far from
fruitless.    It resulted in the definite agreement of 1839.
The primary problem precipitated at Redoubt St. Dionysius
in 1834 was that of control of the fur trade of a roughly rectangular region of about 100,000 square miles, which extended
in a northwesterly direction from the Skeena River to the Yukon
River, bounded to the west by mountain ranges along the coast,
and to the east by the " Stonies," or Rocky Mountains. To fur-
traders, control of a region did not necessarily mean actual
occupation. As long as pelts from an area continued to be
brought to trading-posts, the fur-traders' concept of control was
satisfied. When there was no rivalry, this satisfaction was more
easily attained than when there was competition to increase the
importance of holding strategic points in the geographic setting.
The number of furs from the " Stikine trough " which had
previously crossed the mountains to the Mackenzie or even
Fraser River systems had undoubtedly been insignificant. The
more accessible market for the Indians was that of the Russians,
but the British plan was obviously to share in the trade of the
region, as demonstrated by a two-fold advance, from the sea and
from the Liard and Peace Rivers. The latter would entail
dependence upon the expensive transportation routes by waterways and portages to eastern depots. The approach from the
seaward side was less expensive and more logical, and the British
company felt that the Russo-British treaty of 1825 had left open
the western doorway.
Baron Wrangell reported that Ogden visited him in September, 1834, at which time the whole situation was discussed.
Wrangell maintained that the treaty of 1825 gave the Russians
the legal right to prevent the British from ascending the Stikine
River.    He also sensed, or more probably had learned from the
(22)  G. B. Roberts, Recollections, MS., Bancroft Library, 1878, p. 9.
(Transcript in Archives of B.C.) 1941  Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.      43
Stikine Indians, that the claim made by Ogden that the British
had established a projected post on the Stikine headwaters was
false.23 It was not until 1835 that the possibilities of an overland
journey from the Fraser River to the Stikine headwaters were
mentioned in the Minutes of Council, which recommended that a
post be founded there in the season 1837-1838, if possible.24
By July, 1838, Robert Campbell had founded a fort west of
the Stikine Mountains on Dease Lake. It had been decided to
abandon Fort Halkett, on the Liard, in favour of this more westerly location. After the post on Dease Lake was established,
Campbell set forth to carry out his instructions to explore. One
prior expedition from Fort Halkett under John McLeod, in 1834,
had actually reached the headwaters of the Stikine River, without
realizing the significance of the discovery. Campbell went
farther, and, on July 23, 1838, came in touch with a Russian-
Indian middleman, the Stikine chief " Shakes," at the " splendid
rendezvous " on the Stikine River where the Coast Indians customarily held their annual trading session with the Indians of
the Interior.25 On that day the British sphere of influence in the
inland trade touched for the first time upon that of the Russians.
The landward approach on Russian America was thus carried on
at the same time as action was being taken on the problems
raised at Redoubt St. Dionysius.
Four years elapsed before the Dryad affair was settled.
Ogden returned from the Northwest coast to Fort Vancouver in
December, 1834, and made his report. By March of the next
year the head officers of the Columbia Department had investigated the matter, and had written to Hudson's Bay House in
London tabulating expenses and losses incurred as a result of the
check to their plans for the Stikine post. Aside from an estimated loss of £22,000 arising from both expenses and estimated
profits, the Chief Factor, McLoughlin, stated that it was impossible to estimate the further damages caused by the blow to
British prestige in Indian eyes, and by the loss of the beaver
(23) Wrangell to Board of Directors of the Russian American Company,
April 30 (o.s.), 1835, Case of the United States, Appendix, pp. 274-278.
(24) Oliver, op. cit., pp. 711-712.
(25) Journal of Robert Campbell, 1808-1851 (typescript of original
manuscript in the Public Archives, Ottawa), Bancroft Library, pp. 37—43.
(Transcripts in Archives of B.C.) 44 Donald C Davidson. January
from the British territory to the east of the lisiere, or coastal
strip.26 The Hudson's Bay Company complained immediately to
the Foreign Office of violations of the free river navigation and
ten-year free trade clauses of the treaty of 1825. They forwarded their claim for indemnity, and requested protection in the
future from similar incidents.27
Lord Durham, British Minister to Russia, received copies of
the correspondence with Hudson's Bay House, and was ordered
to lay the claim of the British company before Count Nesselrode.
In reply to the contention that the establishment of a British post
beyond the frontier on the Stikine River would harm Russian
trade, the draft instructions to Durham denied that Interior furs
could be considered a Russian monopoly: " The Treaty recognizes no such monstrous principle."28
By the time Durham made his protest to Nesselrode,29 the
latter had already been made acquainted with the repulse of
the Dryad, and had been petitioned by the Russian American
Company to take measures to prevent the navigation of rivers
and streams in Russian territory by foreigners.30 Almost immediately Nesselrode admitted to Durham that the Russian American Company had been in the wrong to interpret the sixth
article of the 1825 treaty as giving it the right to prevent
British access to the hinterland. This frank admission, however, had a pertinent reservation attached to it. Had the Russian American Company actually threatened to use force in
restraint of a British expedition? Count Nesselrode took refuge
for several years behind this question.31
(26) John McLoughlin to Governor, etc., of the Hudson's Bay Company,
Fort Vancouver, March 17, 1835, Case of the United States, Appendix, pp.
(27) J. H. Pelly to Viscount Palmerston, London, October 24, 1835,
Klotz, op. cit., part V., p. 12.
(28) Foreign Office, Draft Instructions, William Lord Durham (No. 12),
November 13, 1835, ibid., part V., pp. 3-4.
(29) Durham to Nesselrode, November 29/December 11, 1835, Case of
the United States, Appendix, pp. 285-287.
(30) Directors of Russian American Company to Minister of Finance,
November 14 (o.s.), 1835, ibid., pp. 282-285.
(31) Nesselrode to Durham, December 21, 1835/January 2, 1836, ibid.,
pp. 287-289. 1941  Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.     45
Although the Dryad affair thus became a diplomatic shuttlecock, and was batted back and forth by Count Nesselrode and
British ambassadors until December, 1838, its accompanying
problems were ultimately settled by the formula used in making
the treaty of 1825—mutual expediency, rather than strict legal
right. Meanwhile the British on the Coast were facing a Russian blockade. In 1836, 1837, and 1838, the Russians had a ship
in southern boundary waters " watching their lines that they
might not be encroached upon."32
Finally, on December 9/21, 1838, Nesselrode apparently tired
of the game. In a note to the Minister of Finance he stated that
the English insistence on an indemnity had increased rather than
decreased during negotiation. He saw that the British were
putting aside such " secondary questions " as whether or not
there had been a threat of violence, and were basing their claims
on the fact that Russian authorities had issued an order prohibiting Ogden from ascending the Stikine River. This was
acknowledged as being contrary to the intentions of the 1825
treaty. Accordingly, he suggested that the Russian American
Company enter into friendly relations with the Hudson's Bay
Company in order to make the settlement for which the British
were pressing with such unusual urgency.33
Perhaps with official knowledge, the Hudson's Bay Company
and the Russian American Company had already been corresponding along such lines, and had sounded out their respective
desires. It had already appeared that deliverance from the
unpleasant situation would come through a lease to the British
company of the mainland strip to the north and south of the
Stikine River.34 As a means to overcome the intercompany
rivalry in the region, a lease of the " Panhandle " was logical.
The Russian company would be compensated for the loss of the
trade of the region; the Hudson's Bay Company would take over
the system which relied upon middlemen to secure the furs from
(32) Fort Simpson Journal, MS., Bancroft Library, p. 1; words quoted
from Hudson's Bay Company, Journal, 1838 (Fort Simpson), p. 4, in Klotz,
op. cit., part V., p. 31.
(33) Nesselrode to Kankreen, St. Petersburg, December 9 (o.s.), 1838,
Case of the United States, Appendix, pp. 307-308.
(34) Report of the Board of Directors of the Russian American Company, December 20 (o.s.), 1838, ibid., pp. 309-311. 46 Donald C Davidson. January
inland regions, and would be spared the expense of maintaining
posts in British territory beyond the boundary.
Nesselrode approved the idea of a lease. It would be of
advantage in terminating friction and rivalry. Especially would
it be desirable as
it would enable us to avoid all further explanations with the Government of
the United States as to its ceaseless demands, disadvantageous to our
interests, for the renewal of Article IV of the Treaty of 1824, which granted
to American ships the right of free navigation for ten years in all the seas
and straits, adjacent to our dominions on the northwestern coast of America.3^
With this statement Nesselrode washed his hands of relationships with the British, and left the control of this part of
Imperial foreign policy to the Russian American Company.
In the first week of February, 1839, Governor George Simpson and Baron Ferdinand Wrangell met at Hamburg, " communicated to each other their respective full powers found in
good and true form," and in behalf of the two companies negotiated an agreement which ended all cause for further clashes
by providing a sound economic foundation for planned friendly
The indemnity for the Dryad incident was the starting-point
for the discussions. A few months previously Simpson had
stated that a compromise on the Stikine affair was necessary
before any agreement could be negotiated. If the Hudson's Bay
Company leased the coastal strip, a remission of the rent for
three years would be expected as compensation for losses
incurred in 1834.36 This was not included in the provisions of
the " treaty " as signed, and was probably relinquished in favour
of other advantageous terms.37 The nine articles of the agreement resolved the problems in a manner satisfactory to both
parties, carried into effect the Simpson proposals of 1829, and
drew the lines along which the two monopolies exploited the
region for twenty-seven years.
The first article concerned the lease of the mainland of Russian America to the south and east of a line drawn from Cape
Spencer to Mount Fairweather.   The exclusive use of this strip
(35) Nesselrode to Kankreen, January 4/16,1839, ibid., p. 312.
(36) Simpson to Wrangell, November 27, 1838, Klotz, op. cit., part V.,
p. 33.
(37) The agreement is printed in full in Oliver, op. cit., II., pp. 791-797. 1941 Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.     47
was granted to the Hudson's Bay Company for commercial purposes for an annual rent of 2,000 seasoned western land-otter
skins, to be delivered at New Archangel. This was equivalent
to approximately £2,300. The arrangement for a rental of otter-
skins avoided complicated financial transactions in drafts, simplified the marketing problems of the Hudson's Bay Company,
and provided the Russian American Company with a type of
fur through the sale of which they could add to their profits in
the Chinese and Russian trade. Redoubt St. Dionysius was also
transferred to the British, while co-operation was promised
should ships of other nations attempt to trade north of 54° 40'.
The life of the lease and of the agreement was to be ten years.
The marketing of furs was further simplified by Article III.
The Russian American Company agreed to purchase up to 2,000
western land-otter at 23/- a piece, and 3,000 of the better-grade
eastern land-otter at 32/- each. Thus, an annual business of
over £7,000 in land-otter was anticipated. The agreement was
also a partial fulfilment of Simpson's plan for a market for the
production of the Columbia River farms, which were to be established under the aegis of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company.38 Each year the British company contracted to sell to the
other monopoly wheat, wheat-flour, peas, barley, salt beef, butter, and hams to the value of over £5,000. With this assurance
of an adequate food-supply, the Russian American Company
could plan on withdrawing from California, and selling Fort
Another article related to transportation of goods from
manufacturing areas.   Unless the Russian American Company
(38) The organization of this company was discussed by a committee of
the Hudson's Bay Company on February 27, 1839, at Hudson's Bay House,
London, England, cf. L. A. Wrinch " The Formation of the Puget's Sound
Agricultural Company," Washington Historical Quarterly, XXIV. (1933),
pp. 3-8. The relationship between the organization of this company and the
Russian American Company agreement is brought out in a dispatch to Chief
Factor John McLoughlin, in which he was informed that the farms were to
be established " in order to maintain your people, to relieve the Hudson's
Bay Company of a contract for Agricultural Produce which they have
entered into with the Russian American Company, and to make provision
for settlers that will be sent out from England as soon as you can conveniently receive them." Directors of Pugets Sound Agricultural Company to
John McLoughlin, Esq., March 16, 1839, MS., Archives of B.C. 48 Donald C. Davidson. January
was sending out its own supply-ships, any manufactured goods
of the type formerly secured from the United States were to
be shipped from England in Hudson's Bay Company bottoms,
and delivered at Sitka at a freight rate of £13 per ton.
Provisions for peaceful evacuation, should Great Britain and
Russia go to war, were contained in the seventh and eighth
articles. These articles were never put into effect, for when
the Crimean War broke out northwestern America, at the
request of the two companies, was declared neutral territory.
The treaty made no direct reference to the exclusion of
foreign vessels from the Northwest Coast. But implicit in the
terms was the idea that a common front was being effected in
opposition to United States vessels. This subject was more
definitely dealt within a supplementary exchange of notes
between the two companies on the day the conference was closed.
Wrangell stated that his company would neither encourage the
visits of foreign ships nor purchase from them any goods except
in case of extreme emergency; in return for this assurance
Simpson agreed that any accidental visit of an American ship
to a Russian American port would not be taken as a reason for
withholding the rental for the leased territory.39
The lease proved profitable to both parties and was renewed
five times while Russia was becoming aware of the weakness of
her American empire, while settlers were coming to Old Oregon,
and seekers followed the lure of gold to California and British
Columbia. Once the original lease was concluded British and
Russian Governments forgot far northwestern America, and
control was left in the hands of the officials of the two fur
As early as 1840 the effect of the transfer to the British was
noticeable in Sitka. During that summer, very few canoes of
the mainland Kolosh Indians, who had previously come to New
Archangel in large numbers, visited the Russian capital to dispose of their furs.40 By 1842, the two monopolies had virtually
succeeded in securing to themselves control of the trade along
(39) Oliver, op. cit., II., pp. 796-797.
(40) Governor Etolin to James Douglas, November 12/24, 1840, Counter
Case of the United States, Appendix, p. 10. 1941 Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.     49
the coast. The trade in liquor and firearms disappeared with
the competitive struggle.41
Soon after the Hudson's Bay Company took over Fort St.
Dionysius, two additional posts were erected, one on Taku Inlet
and the other on Milbanke Sound. In 1843, however, either
taking a page from Russian experience or profiting by his own,
Simpson resolved to close the two new posts and to depend on
the annual trading expeditions of the steamer Beaver, or of other
vessels, from posts in key positions.42
The agreement of 1839 functioned efficiently for over twenty-
five years. The Russian American Company considered it advantageous, because it allowed them to forget the threat of American competition, avoided occasions for hostile collisions with
the Hudson's Bay Company, and solved some of its major problems of provisioning, supplies, and marketing.43 To the Columbia
Department of the Hudson's Bay Company it brought a profit
of between eight and ten thousand dollars annually.44
In 1850, the lease and trading arrangements were continued
to 1859, at which date the charter of the British company was
to expire. Even before this renewal there were indications of
a transition in the condition of the Pacific Northwest, for, by
1846, population pressure had impelled the settlement of the
Oregon boundary question. Before the end of the second period
the situation had been still further altered, for gold had been
discovered in British Columbia, and whaling had reached a
peak.46 Moreover, settlers had peopled Vancouver Island, and
Russia had acquired again the fertile Amur valley.46
(41) Roderick Finlayson, History of Vancouver Island and the Northwest Coast, MS., Bancroft Library, pp. 12, 20. (Transcripts in Archives of
(42) Ibid., p. 21.
(43) P. Tikmenef, Istorischeskoe obozrienie . . . , St. Petersburg,
1861, I., pp. 269-270.
(44) Evidence of Dugald Mactavish, Montreal, 1866, in British and
American Joint Commission for the settlement of claims . . . Hudson's
Bay Company, Montreal, 1868, I., p. 208;  and see ibid., II., p. 54.
(45) About 300 ships each year between 1840 and 1845; see U.S. Cong.,
Cong. 40, Sess. 2, H.E. 177 (1867), p. 85.
(46) R. J. Kerner, " Russian Expansion to America," in Bibliographical
Society of America, Papers, XXV. (1931), pp. 111-129. The writer is
indebted to Professor Kerner for stimulus and help received in this subject
in his seminar at the University of California. 50 Donald C. Davidson. January
In asking for renewal in 1850 the directors of the Russian
American Company had stressed, to the Minister of Finance,
the need for continuance of friendly relationships in order to
avoid incidents which might lead to war. During the Crimean
War the influence wielded by the monopolies was illustrated by
the way in which they effectively removed the Eastern Pacific
from the theatre of naval activity, through an arrangement
which made the territories of both companies neutral. This was
approved by the foreign offices of Russia and Great Britain.
Despite worries in British Columbia,47 this allowed northwestern
America to forget that such a thing as war existed.
By 1859 gold and agriculture had given birth to two British
colonies on the British coast. The fur trade was less important
than previously in British Columbia, and the leased territory
to the north was proportionally more important to the Hudson's
Bay Company. Again in that year the agreement was renewed,
although a Russian arrangement to supply a San Francisco firm
with ice, coal, timber, and salt fish necessitated the restriction
of Hudson's Bay Company exploitation of these items within
the leased territory.48
The agreement was given two years of extended life in 1861.
The following year saw a new force entering the economic scene
north of Portland Canal. The discovery of gold on the headwaters of the Stikine River led to a minor rush of miners, and
suggested to the Russian company the difficulties which might
follow the discovery of any appreciable amount of gold. This
was a new and additional reason for renewal in 1863, as the
Russian American Company did not feel capable of handling
a rush of miners.49
Twice more, while the destiny of the Russian American Company was hanging in the balance, the companies' charter of cooperation was extended briefly. However, the letter of the Hudson's Bay Company of January 25, 1867, asking for a definite
lease for three years, fell before eyes which knew that the period
of co-operation between the two companies was over.   For Alaska
(47) This point will be dealt with in a subsequent note on " British
Columbia and the Crimean War " which is in the course of preparation by
the author.
(48) Counter Case of the United States, Appendix, pp. 22-25.
(49) Ibid., pp. 26-32. 1941 Hudson's Bay and Russian American Relations.      51
had been sold to the United States of America, and the minutes
of the governing board of the Hudson's Bay Company briefly
recorded on May 21, 1867, that the occupation of the " Stikine
country " by that company was to end ten days later.50
The agreement of 1839 was a significant episode in the history
of far northwestern America. It was less dramatic than other
events which took their places in the history of the Pacific rim
during its lifetime, but it effectively withdrew the region from
any pressures of international rivalries. Its influence on history
was preventive, or negative; for example it allowed the territorial agreement which has endured as the Alaska-Canada
boundary to mature into an accepted unchallenged fact. But the
fundamental importance of the 1839 agreement was positive in
that it provided for sound economic practices in carrying on the
fur trade in its remotest outposts.
Donald C. Davidson.
Huntington Library,
San Marino, California.
(60)  Enclosed in Clifford Sifton to J. W. Foster, June 15, 1903, Alaska
Boundary Tribunal, Proceedings, V., part 3, p. 37. JAMES DOUGLAS AND THE RUSSIAN
The agreement of 1839 entered into by the Russian American
and Hudson's Bay Companies, which is the subject of an interesting article in this issue,1 involved a considerable readjustment
of the working arrangements of both companies. This was particularly true of the Hudson's Bay Company, as is evidenced by
the Minutes of the Council held at the Red River Settlement in
June, 1839, at which time the terms of the agreement became
known to the wintering partners.
With reference to an agreement entered into with the Russian American
Company under date the 6th Feby. 1839, it is Resolved
65. That either the ship to arrive at the Columbia next year from
England or the Ship Vancouver accompanied by the Beaver Steam Vessel
proceed with C[hief]. T[rader]. Douglas, Mr. Wm. Glen Rae, Mr. John
McLoughlin Junr. & Mr. Roderick Finlayson with a complement of 20
labouring servants and a sufficient Outfit of Goods and Provisions to take
possession of the Russian American Company's Establishment at the
entrance of the River Stikine where Mr. Rae is to be left in charge assisted
by the other Clerks before mentioned.
66. That immediately after the Post at Stikine be taken possession of
Mr. C[hief]. T[rader]. Douglas shall proceed to the River Tacou about 100
miles north of Stikine and select an eligible situation for establishing a
Post there and afterwards return to Fort McLoughlin for the purpose of
removing that Establishment and reforming it on the banks of the Tacou
River 12 marine leagues inland if possible under the command of Mr. John
Kennedy, assisted by C. Walker, Clerk, and Charles Forrest, Postmaster,
with a complement of 30 laboring Servants.2
In fulfilment of these orders an expedition left Fort Vancouver en route to the north on April 22, 1840, in charge of Chief
Trader James Douglas.3 The correspondence which is herewith
published for the first time tells of his activity in arranging the
details between the two companies, for it must be remembered
(1) Vide supra, pp. 33-51.
(2) E. H. Oliver (ed.), The Canadian North-West, Ottawa, 1915, II.,
p. 785.
(3) The original diary of this trip to the Northwest Coast is preserved
in the Archives of British Columbia and may at some future date be published in this Quarterly.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V., No. 1.
53 54 Douglas and the Russian American Co.    January
that the final negotiations which resulted in the original agreement had been conducted in Hamburg, Germany.
The first letter, dated July 13, 1840, at Fort Taku, and
addressed to John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver, is in the
nature of a general report. It is, perhaps, interesting to note
that a good deal of the information contained therein was paraphrased in a much longer general report to McLoughlin, written
by Douglas while on board the Beaver, October 1, 1840, on the
eve of his arrival back on the Columbia.4 The second, third, and
fourth letters, addressed the same day (July 13, 1840), to John
Work, then in charge of Fort Simpson, Captain Alexander Duncan of the Hudson's Bay Company ship Vancouver, and John
Antonowitch Koopreanoff, Governor of the Russian American
colony at Sitka, are interesting as revealing the business methods
of the Hudson's Bay Company, particularly in the handling of
bills of exchange. The fifth and final letter of this series
addressed to A. E. Etholine, Captain of the Imperial Fleet,
Knight and Governor of the Russian Colonies in America,
although written at a slightly later date (August 24, 1840),
gives additional information regarding the trade between the
two companies and is printed herewith as the reply it evoked
from Governor Etholine has long been in print.5
Willard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
(4) Douglas to McLoughlin, On Board the " Beaver" Steam Vessel,
October 1, 1840, O. Klotz (ed.), Certain Correspondence of the Foreign
Office and of the Hudson's Bay Company, Ottawa, 1899, part ii., pp. 43-52.
(5) A. Etholine to Mr. John [sic] Douglas, November 12, 1840, Proceedings of the Alaska Boundary Tribunal (U.S. Cong., Cong. 58, Sess. 2, S.E.
162), Washington, 1903-04, Vol. IV., part ii., Appendix to the Counter Case
of the United States, pp. 9-12. 1941 DOUGLAS AND THE RUSSIAN AMERICAN CO. 55
Fort Tako6 13th July 1840
John McLoughlin Esquire7
As stated in the letter I had the honour of addressing
you while at Fort Langley, we moved from that place in the Steam
Vessel8 on the morning of the 5th May, and arrived successively on the
11th & 14th following at Forts McLoughlin9 and Simpson;10 the
business of these Posts was going on with the customary order and
regularity, trade being in a flourishing state and the natives well disposed, tho' as usual holding back their furs and clamouring for higher
prices with a boldness and importunity peculiar to these rude and
powerful tribes.
The state of trade and general resources of these Posts are so well
known as to render further remark superfluous. I will therefore
dismiss the subject here without notice; in relation, however, to the
trade of Johnston's Straits and Vancouver's Island, I am persuaded
that it cannot be managed so cheaply or to so much advantage, by our
coasting vessels as through a permanent establishment formed in a
position conveniently situated for the resort of the natives; the outlay
in this object will not exceed £500, which after the first year would be
largely repaid by an annual saving, in the present expenses of management, more than equal to that Amount, while a ready market will excite
the industry of the natives generally and moreover serve as a point of
attraction to the more distant tribes who inhabit the continental canals
and the West coast of Vancouver's Island with whom our intercourse
has been hitherto limited to casual meetings of very rare occurrence.
But admitting even that these advantages are not attainable by the
proposed means, provision must be made in one shape or other, for the
security of this, the decidedly most valuable section of the British coast
as the Steam vessel cannot adequately protect it, and at the same time
perform the new routine of duties imposed upon her by our recent
(6) This letter was written while this post was actually being constructed. It was named Fort Durham, after the then Governor-General of
Canada, but was more popularly known as Fort Taku. It was located about
25 miles below the present site of the town of Juneau. When the decision
was reached to establish a depot on Vancouver Island (Fort Victoria) the
abandonment of this post as well as Fort McLoughlin was ordered by the
Council in 1842 (see Oliver, op. cit., II., p. 846), which decision was carried
into effect in 1843.
(7) Chief Factor in charge of the Columbia Department, with headquarters at Fort Vancouver, 1825-1845.
(8) The historic Beaver, the first steam-vessel to operate in the North
Pacific.    Built in 1835, she arrived on the Coast in the following year.
(9) Established on Milbanke Sound, near the site of Bella Bella, in 1833;
abandoned in 1843.
(10) Established, in 1831, near the mouth of the Nass River, this post
was moved, in 1834, to the present site of the town of Port Simpson, at the
northern end of the Tsimpsean Peninsula. 56 Douglas and THE RUSSIAN American Co.    January
connection with the Russian Fur Company and the growing business
of the territories, they have ceded to us, so that the question of a new
establishment viewed by this light assumes the important bearing of
a necessary measure that cannot be safely deferred. The place best
adapted for this purpose is Shushady or Neweety a commodious harbour at the north end of Vancouver's Island, accessible to shipping at
all seasons, and almost directly in the centre of the native population,
as a circle with a radius of 90 miles from that point encloses all the
tribes between the south entrance of Johnston's Straits and Fort
McLoughlin; the latter Post may perhaps in time be dispensed with
entirely, but on this subject experience will be the most certain guide;
at all events while in possession of this additional post at Neweety,
Fort Simpson at the opposite extreme of the British territory, with
Fort McLoughlin in the centre the trade of the coast will, without any
extraneous aid whatever, be as completely protected against every
probable contingency as circumstances will ever permit.11
To return to the order of narrative suspended at Fort Simpson,
we proceeded on the 19th May, from that place and arrived, in two
days, at Stekine.12
The Officer in charge having no orders to surrender the Post into
our hands,13 I pushed on to Sitka,14 through a line of inland canals in
company with the Russian Steam Vessel15 (which by the bye is no
match in speed for the Beaver) and arrived there on the 25th.   I waited
(11) The plan here suggested by Douglas was carried out in part in 1849
with the establishment of Fort Rupert, at the north end of Vancouver Island.
While this post was built with the protection of the near-by coal deposits
particularly in mind, a considerable fur trade was carried on there for some
(12) This post had been established by the Russians in 1832 as Redoubt
St. Dionysius. It was located on Point Highfield at the mouth of the Stikine
River, near the present site of the town of Wrangell. Upon its occupation
by the Hudson's Bay Company it was renamed Fort Stikine, although it is
also referred to as Fort Highfield. Its abandonment was ordered for 1844
by the Council in 1842 (see Oliver, op. cit., II., p. 846), but this plan was
evidently not carried out, for it continues to appear as a post in the Minutes
of Council for 1846 (see MS., Archives of B.C.). This is borne out by the
Fur Trade Returns, Columbia District and New Caledonia, a record kept by
James Douglas and preserved in the Archives of B.C. Under Fort Stikine
returns are recorded for the years 1840 to 1843, none appear for 1844, but
again recur for the years 1845 to 1848, at which date presumably the post
was abandoned.
(13) This corrects the story as told by Bancroft, who tells of the
Russians immediately turning the post over to Douglas. Cf., H. H. Bancroft, History of the Northwest Coast, San Francisco, 1884, II., p. 646.
(14) Old Sitka, or, as it was frequently called, New Archangel, was
established in 1799 by the Russians under Alexander Andreevich Baranof,
and called Redoubt St. Archangel Michael. The colony was destroyed by
the natives in 1802 but re-established at a slightly different site in 1804. It
was the headquarters for the Russian American Fur Company on the Northwest Coast. C. L. Andrews, The Story of Alaska, Caldwell, Idaho, 1938,
chaps. 8, 10, and 11.
(15) Probably the steamer Nicolai I. 1941        Douglas and the Russian American Co. 57
on his excellency Captain Koopreanoff the Governor,16 and we fell to
business immediately, directing attention in the first place, to the grand
question, upon which he appeared keen and tenacious, of the equitable
division of trade, to the two Companies according to the provisions of
the agreement, and the ways and means of keeping this without
prejudice to the other's rights, most important objects to both parties,
but of difficult attainment when there exists so general an intercourse
between the inhabitants of these Islands and the continental shores.
The Governor, on this head, proposed that there should be a mutual
appointment of Agents, to reside at the respective Forts; but this
plan appeared to me, in many respects, so unpleasant, and objectionable, that I opposed it, and suggested as a more effective and liberal
expedient, that the character of the Parties should stand in pledge of
their conduct, and in accordance with this view the 4th article of the
deed (No 1) which I transmit herewith,17 binding both the Parties to
restore furs received from Indians of the other part, was framed and
adopted. We next proceeded to settle the boundaries of trade and you
will perceive by the 2d article of the same document that the terms
obtained are liberal: we finally determined on introducing an equal
Tariff over the whole coast Whenever it can be done with safety; the
other points brought under discussion being of minor importance, I beg
to refer you to the said document for information. From the Russian
authorities I received the most polite attentions, and I must in justice
to them observe that they appear anxious to cultivate our friendship
and will not fail, I firmly believe, in rendering us full justice; our
proceedings will I hope be equally marked by the same honourable
spirit; a breach of faith on either side will banish confidence and may
prove, in its consequences, unfavourable to both.
In obedience to your instructions I proposed that we should use
Bodega as a Port of entrance for the shipment of cattle from California
to which they cheerfully assented, and offer every facility in their
power, provided we obtain the sanction of that Government, otherwise
it will be impossible for us to succeed in our object.18    They can at
(16) Ivan Antonovich Kupreanoff was Chief Manager of the Russian
American Fur Company (usually styled " governor") from October 29,
1835, until May 25, 1840, at which time he was succeeded by Etholine. As
is to be expected, there are many variants of the spelling of Russian names.
(17) Unfortunately, no copy of this document is to be found. In the
letter-book in which this letter is written there is a " List of documents for
Fort Vancouver," the first of which was " Articles explanatory of the agreement with the Russians."
(18) Bodega, the original California outpost established by the Russian
American Fur Company in 1812, was situated near the present site of
the city of San Francisco. It was later enlarged by the establishment of
near-by Fort Ross, and efforts were made to supply the food deficiencies of
Russian America from this region, despite the fact that Mexican law forbade
foreigners to trade in California. Even the Hudson's Bay Company looked
to California as a source of supply for the produce necessary to meet the
demands arising from the recently negotiated agreement with the Russian
company, particularly in wheat and cattle.    In this connection in the winter 58 Douglas and the Russian American Co.    January
present enter into no arrangement about the purchase of sugar having
a stock on hand equal to four years consumption, besides an unfinished
contract for a further supply; but should they want any hereafter they
will deal with us.
I could make no desirable arrangement for the manufacture of their
flour, as they have a mill at Sitka that answers their purpose of grinding rough flour, in which state it is issued to their servants. They
cannot receive wheat in California, as it is probable they will abandon
Bodega.19 I forward No 2 the copy of a note left with the Governor
of Sitka,20 containing our settlement respecting the extent of supplies
for this and next year, some points of which you will I trust find
As soon as our business at Sitka was closed we returned to Stekine,
took possession of it on the 1st of June and the following evening
reached Fort Simpson; the next day the Vancouver21 arrived from the
Columbia, and after landing the Outfits of the Southern Posts, we proceeded thence, on the 10th with the Steam Vessel and Vancouver in tow
and anchored, amidst masses of floating ice, near the mouth of the
Taco, on the 17th June; the same day I started with an armed Party,
to examine the River, a purpose that we effected to the distance of 35
miles, and returned to the vessels late on the 20th. This journey was
not productive of any very satisfactory information, the Taco dis-
embrogues into a Gulf in Stephen's passage, of which point Salisbury
Latitude 58. 16N. W. Lon. 133. 56 forms the northern Point of
entrance; it may be classed in magnitude with the Wallamette,22 discharging a probably greater volume of water, much less concentrated at
its entrance, where the channel is 1% Miles Broad, and for three
quarters of a mile so shallow, at the reflux of the tide, as to be impassable by any larger craft than canoes, which then drag through the
of 1840-41 Douglas was sent south to California on a mission which resulted
in the establishment of Yerba Buena. The original diary of this trip is
preserved in the Archives of B.C.; see also Herman Leader (ed.), "A
Voyage from the Columbia to California in 1840," California Historical
Society Quarterly, VIII. (1929), pp. 97-115, which publishes much of the
diary, but, unfortunately, based upon an imperfect transcript.
(19) The Russian American Fur Company withdrew from California
with the sale of Fort Ross to J. A. Sutter in 1841. See Clarence John
DuFour, " The Russian Withdrawal from California," California Historical
Society Quarterly, XII. (1933), pp. 240-276. The Hudson's Bay Company
abandoned their post at Yerba Buena in 1846.
(20) No copy of this document is to be found, although it is also mentioned in the " List of documents for Fort Vancouver," v. supra, ftnt. 12.
(21) This teak-built bark of 400 tons was employed by the Hudson's Bay
Company principally on the annual trip from England to the Columbia and
first arrived on the Coast in 1838. In 1845 it became the first vessel to enter
Victoria harbour direct from England. It was wrecked off the mouth of the
Columbia River in 1848. In 1840 it was commanded by Captain Alexander
Duncan. See Lewis and Dryden, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest,
Portland, 1895, pp. 15-18.
(22) The river which joins the Columbia from the southward in the
neighbourhood of Fort Vancouver. 1941 Douglas and the Russian American Co. 59
mud; there is however, a rise at ordinary tides, of 12 feet, when a
small vessel may easily enter and, in my opinion, proceed 10 miles
upwards with safety; the current afterwards is very strong, and
broken by Rocky shoals, so that this Point may be considered the limit
of ship navigation, for if any continuous channel of sufficient depth
exists beyond, it must be exceedingly intricate and dangerous. As far
as I went the River is free of Rapids, and tho' we found the ascent
arduous in the Ship's Boats, I yet consider it well adapted for the
discription [sic] of craft generally used in country transport; but the
natives of Taco who are in the habit of visiting the interior, inform
that it ceases to be navigable, 76 miles higher up where they meet the
interior Indians, who, in consequence, always travel towards that point
by land.
Had circumstances been otherwise favourable, I would have formed
the establishment on the ten mile point in preference to any other place,
from its being the probable limit of ship navigation, and therefore in
strict conformity with your instructions; but we discovered thereat,
as well as for many miles above, and in every part of the River below,
an invincible obstacle in the extreme poverty of timber suitable for
buildings or fuel, as there is in fact no wood in that part of the valley
except, Willows, Alders, Poplars scarcely larger, and a very few dwarf
Pines. One or two most serious objections of another kind moreover
exist; the winters are so very severe that the River and the head of the
Gulf leading to it, are frosen [sic] over, or so much obstructed by
floating ice as to cut off all access from the sea, so that if the Fort were
there, not only would the major part of the Taco tribe who always
winter on the coast, be prevented from visiting it, during a great part
of the year, but the exceedingly more valuable trade of the District
between Taco and cross sound [sic'], would be also completely beyond
reach. These combined evils, having compelled us to abandon all
thoughts of the River, we next made a fruitless search over every part
of the Gulf, and when almost dispairing [sic] of success, a friendly
Indian conducted us to the spot we now occupy, situated 30 miles south
of the Tako; it possesses a safe harbour of easy access, abundance of
good timber, together with the most important advantage of being
directly in the high way of trade and at a convenient distance for the
Natives of Chilcat and Cross Sound; while should it be desirable hereafter we can push into the interior with as much facility from this
Point as if the establishment had been at the entrance of Taco.
We commenced operations, here on the 24th of June, and have now
a Bastion and a Building of 30 feet finished, another Bastion in a state
of forwardness, nearly half the stockade on the ground and two sides
of the trench dug: the season has been hitherto so excessively wet and
inclement that the sun is rarely seen, yet I am happy to report that our
sick list numbers only four men, the others being all in sound health.
There has not been time to do much in the way of trade as our
arrival is not generally known to the distant communities;  six canoes 60 Douglas and the Russian American Co.    January
however came in from Tako a few days ago with nearly 200 skins, only
part of which is yet traded, as these Indians are the most greedy
troublesome dealers I have any where seen. They first insisted on
getting two large Blankets for a Beaver, and would not part with a
skin under these terms for several days, so that I began to fear they
might, as they several times threatened, leave us in disgust, and dispose
of them for slaves, a species of property so highly prized in the tribe,
that it constitutes their measure of wealth and rank;23 they are now
more amenable to reason, and sell their skins most grudgingly at a
Blkt. each.
Before returning to Vancouver I propose visiting all the harbours
on our coast from this place to Cape Spencer, for the purpose of seeing
the natives, and obtaining every possible information respecting the
extent and value of the trade, subjects on which we are by no means
I am in hopes the Cadboro2* will not be detained longer here, than
is necessary to land her cargo.
I lately received a letter from Mr Rae25 at Stikine reporting the
welfare of that establishment. There had been considerable agitation
and discontent among the natives in consequence of our prices not
greatly exceeding the Tariff of our predecessors, this feeling has however worn off and they now appear better disposed, having traded in
the last days of June upwards of 200 Beavers. Mr Rae forwarded
your letter to Mr Campbell26 by a Stekine chief.
I am sorry to state that reports are generally current here among
the natives, that want of food had compelled Campbell to abandon his
Fort, which was subsequently plundered by the natives; I am at a loss
what to think of these reports;   they may not be strictly correct, but
(23) On the general topic of slavery amongst the Indians of the Pacific
Northwest, see Elsie F. Dennis, " Indian Slavery in Pacific Northwest,"
Oregon Historical Quarterly, XXXI. (1930), pp. 69-81, 181-195, 285-296.
(24) This small schooner was purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company
for the coastal trade, and arrived on the Coast in 1827. In 1840 she was
commanded by Captain James Scarborough. The Cadboro was sold by the
Company in 1860 and wrecked in 1862.
(25) William Glen Rae was born in the Orkney Islands and came to the
Columbia in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1837. He served
at Forts Colville, Okanagan, Walla Walla, and Vancouver, and in 1840
accompanied Douglas north, at which time he was put in charge of Fort
Stikine along with John McLoughlin, Jr. In 1841 he was removed from
this post and sent to open the California post at Yerba Buena, where he
remained until his death in January, 1845. He was a son-in-law of Dr. John
(26) A native of Scotland, born February 21, 1808, who entered the
service of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1830 at Red River Settlement and
subsequently, in 1834, was assigned to the Mackenzie River District. He
was an intrepid explorer. In 1839 he pushed into the hinterland of the
Stikine country and established a post on Dease Lake. He died May 9,
1894. See George Bryce, " Sketch of the Life and Discoveries of Robert
Campbell," Transactions of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba,
no. 52, April, 1898, passim. 1941 Douglas and the Russian American Co. 61
I cannot banish the conviction from my mind, that some serious misfortune has lent a semblance of truth to these painful rumours.27
In reference to the two setts [sic] of exchange to be drawn by the
Russian Company in our favour, I have instructed Captain Duncan to
leave the thirds of each, at Sitka under cover to Jno. Work Esquire or
Mr W. G. Rae, the two firsts Mr. Work will transmit to you by the
Vancouver, and the two seconds I will bring with me in the Steam
I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 11th May, and
shall attend to your wishes respecting the duties required from the
Steam Vessel and Cadboro, as well as the other points suggested. You
will of course further inform by the latter vessel if you wish her to
touch at Langley on her return to the Columbia.
The Vancouver having landed our goods will leave us to morrow for
Sitka. I have instructed Captn Duncan to receive payment on delivery
of the cargo for the amount of freight, and grain due. The Vancouver
will proceed direct from Sitka to Fort Simpson, take in the Fort
McLoughlin Outfit there, which she will leave in passing on her route
to the Columbia.
With the other papers I forward the Invoice and Bill Lading of the
furs traded here.
I remain
my dear Sir
yours very truly
(sigd) James Douglas
Fort Tako 13th July 1840
John Work Esquire29
My dear Sir
I have directed Captain Duncan to deliver you, the first
and second of two setts [sic] of Exchange one for £594.19.10, Sterling
and the other for £832.13.101/_, drawn in our favour by the Governor
of Sitka, the first of each sett you will transmit by the earliest opportunity to John McLoughlin Esquire the two seconds you may keep
until my arrival at Fort Simpson.
(27) As it transpired, this rumour was absolutely correct. Campbell,
after suffering extreme privation, was forced to abandon the Dease Lake
post on May 8, 1839, and it was subsequently destroyed by the Indians.
Undeterred, Campbell was back in the area in 1840, when he ascended the
north branch of the Liard River, and in the following year established posts
at Fort Frances and at Pelly Banks. See The Beaver, outfit 261, no. 4
(March, 1931), pp. 175-6.
(28) Vide infra, letters II. and III.
(29) John Work (1791-1861), one of the best-known of the Hudson's
Bay officers, entered the Company's service in 1814. He was placed in
charge of Fort Simpson in 1837, and remained there until his retirement
in 1849. 62 Douglas and the Russian American Co.    January
The Vancouver is placed at your disposal to be employed as pointed
out in my letter to you of the 8th June last, I have only to add thereto
that she must be engaged in no service that will protract her arrival
in the Columbia beyond the 25th of September, the date appointed for
her return.
The steam vessel having had her stern badly bruized [sic] by the
Vancouver, will require from on [sic] arrival 16 seasoned Boards of
1% in thick, 18 feet long, 10 in Broad, and 12 one inch Boards, 12 feet
long 6 or 12 in Broad, to take with her to Fort Nisqually where she will
find oak to complete her refitment.
I am
My Dear Sir
yours very truly
(sigd) James Douglas
Fort Tako 13th July 1840.
My dear Sir36
You will proceed from this place direct to Sitka, and deliver
the cargo on board the Vancouver as per Bill of Lading to the order of
the Governor of that place from whom you will receive a sett [sic] of
Exchange in Triplicate for £594.19.10, Sterling the Amount due for
freight, and another sett of Exchange in Triplicate for £832.13.10y2,
Sterling in payment of the wheat the price being 5/4% per Bushel.
These Bills must be drawn in Sterling money and not in Dollars or
Roubles which do not suit us.
Now you will enclose the 3d Bill of each sett of Exchange in a stout
well sealed Envellope [sic], addressed to Jno. Work Esquire Fort
Simpson or Mr. W. G. Rae Stekine, which you will leave with the
Governor and request him to forward it only by a safe conveyance, the
remaining Bills of each sett you will please deliver into the hands of
Mr Work, on your arrival at Fort Simpson.    As soon [as] your Sitka
(30) This was addressed to Captain Alexander Duncan, of the schooner
Vancouver. It was in the Vancouver that Peter Skene Ogden made his preliminary survey of the Stikine River, in 1833. Vide supra, p. 41. The
following lively description of Captain Duncan was written by Thomas
Farnham, who travelled to Honolulu in the Vancouver in 1840: " The
Captain was an old British tar, with a heart full of generosity for his
friends, and a fist full of bones for his enemies. A glass of cheer with a
messmate, and a rope's end for a disobedient sailor, were with him
impromptu productions, for which he had capacity and judgment; a hearty,
five foot nine inch, burly, stout-chested Englishman, whom it was always
pleasant to see and hear." Thomas J. Farnham, Travels in the Californias,
New York, 1844, p. 8. 1941      , Douglas and the Russian American Co. 63
cargo is discharged you will from thence run direct to Fort Simpson
and receive Mr. Work's instructions for your further proceedings.
I am
Dear Sir
yours very truly
(sig^) James Douglas
Capt" Duncan
Fort Tako 13th July 1840.
To His Excellency John Antonowitch Koopreanoff, Governor of the
Russio American Colonies, Post Captain in His Imperial Majesty's
Navy, &c &c &c
Dear Sir
I beg to introduce to your kind attention Captain
Duncan of our Barque Vancouver; He will deliver the cargo consigned
to you, as per Bills Lading accompanying and receive payment for the
same. Have the goodness to draw two setts [sic] of Exchange in
Triplicate, one sett to the Amount of freight due, say £594.19.10
Sterling and the other, for the wheat which will be about £832.13.10*_,
Sterling, if the quantity invoiced be found correct. These Bills we
wish to have drawn in Sterling money.
I am sorry that we could not dispatch the Vancouver sooner from
this place, I trust the delay will have put you to no inconvenience.
I think Captain Etoline told me that if we did not come to an arrangement about the purchase of Bodega, that you would want no Beef next
year, will you have the goodness to inform me by return of the vessel
if my impression be correct.
The Indians here are very keen traders, we have been under the
necessity of paying the Stekine price for the very few furs yet bought.
A canoe arrived yesterday from Hood's Bay with furs, if we cannot
send them off, we will purchase them for you. We are determined to
reduce the prices as soon as we get more settled, at present we must
yield to circumstances.
Kind remembrance to Captain Etoline and Lady.
With best wishes
I have the Honor to Remain
Your Excellency's
most obedient and very
humble Servant
(sigd) James Douglas 64 Douglas and the Russian American Co.   January
Fort Tako 24th August 1840
A. Etholeny Esq"31
Post Captain in H. I. M. Navy,
Chevalier, Governor of the Russio
American Colonies
Dear Sir
Your communication of 25th July, I
received on the 15th Ins4,32 from Captain Lindenberg33 in Barlow's
Cove, where I fell in with your Steam Vessel, as I was proceeding on
a trading visit to the Natives of Cross Sound.
(31) Adolf Karlovich Etholine was the Chief Manager of the Russian
American Fur Company, May 25, 1840, to July 9, 1845. He had been many
years in the company's service, arriving on the scene as early as 1817. He
eventually rose to the rank of assistant manager under Baron Ferdinand
P. von WrangeU, who was in charge from June 1, 1830, until October 29,
1835. Douglas, it is to be noted, was in communication with the officials of
the Russian company just at the time of the replacement of Kupreanoff by
(32) No copy of this document is to be found.
(33) Lindenberg was an experienced pilot in the service of the Russian
company. In 1838 he undertook a survey of the Stikine River, and the
following year surveyed the Chilcat River. In 1840 he was at Sitka at the
time of Douglas's arrival there, and evidently was in charge of the Russian
steamer Nicolai I. The following extract from his instructions, issued by
Etholine, July 23, 1840, is pertinent: " Upon having finished trading in the
Icy Strait the steamer must sail along around the northern point of
Admiralty Island (or Khuznoo Island) to the English settlement near the
mouth of the river Taku (this settlement according to Mr. Duncan, Captain
of the Hudson's Bay Company's vessel Vancouver, is situated in latitude
58° 6'); but as this route between the above mentioned Admiralty Island
and the continent is very narrow and but little known, I recommend you to
find a convenient anchoring place in Barlowe Cove, which is at the extreme
northern point of Hoolznoo Island and there sound the narrows of the
channel as far as Stephen Strait, and then only shall you sail with your
steamer to that strait. At Taku you will deliver to Mr. Douglas, Chief of
the English settlement the herewith enclosed letter from me to him, the map
of our survey of the Stikine River mouth, and order to have delivered to him
59 pairs of boots sent him from here on the steamer (which according to
accounts we are to pay them for blankets brought on the Brig Chichagoff)
as well as the 54 boards left here from Vancouver for delivery and which
are loaded on board the steamer. Deliver also to Mr. Douglas the furs sent
on with you from the Novo Archangelsk office, bought by us from the Chilcat
Kolosh who were recently here, in exchange of which take from the English
as many skins of river beavers or otters and in general all the furs they
have_ had time to trade from the Kolosh inhabiting the islands situated
within our possessions during their stay at Stikine and Taku. For greater
convenience and clearness in the accounts, I found it necessary to propose to
Mr. Douglas to proceed with the trade between the English and us by the
piece, i.e. fur for fur of equal quality, the remaining quantity to be put down
on the accounts between us, which I communicate to you for your guidance
as well as that, according to an agreement made by Mr. Douglas and myself,
all skins of sea otters without exception, bought by the English from the 1941        Douglas and the Russian American Co. 65
The consignment of Boots, correct as pr Invoice, and the plank you
had the goodness to forward, were landed at this place; but Captain
Lindenberg did not deliver the furs or the Chart of Stikine River; he
may however have left them in passing at Stikine.
Mr McLoughlin's letter recently transmitted, by your Steam Vessel,
together with the enclosed extract of a letter from Baron Wrangell,34
will inform you of arrangements, for which you are possibly not prepared. In such circumstances, you must be aware that I cannot, at this
moment, reply definitely to your requests in reference to the contract
butter, and fur remittances, as Mr McLoughlin may have been induced
by the tenor of the Barons [sic] communication, entirely to remodel
his plans; I am however confident that he will submit to the most
serious inconvenience, rather than cause you any disappointment.
I feel obliged by your attention in offering to procure for us, a
further supply of Finland Boots; we will however require no more of
them, so you need not order any for us.
On the subject of our respective boundaries of trade,35 I have
instructed the gentlemen in charge of our establishments at Stekine
and Tako to act strictly in conformity with the letter and spirit of the
agreement; that is to hold for your sole benefit, all the land furs
brought from Sitka, Hootesynoo, Kake, Hanega, Kuyou, Chatsinnay &
Kygarney which will be restored to you, at their original cost in goods;
while all the Sea Otter or Castor de Mer including all we may purchase
from the Continental Tribes which we also promised to restore, will be
paid for by a full equivalent in Beaver; or as it is more clearly
expressed in the 1st Article of our recent agreement, you will give us
" the number of Beaver skins which the goods given in exchange for
the said Sea Otters would purchase at Indian prices." On the other
hand I have informed these gentlemen that our rights of trade extend
to all other places not here referred to, around Stekine, and also to
Samdan, Aaque, Tako, Chilcat, Kucknaoo, together with the other continental villages between the last mentioned place and Cape Spencer.
The trade of this place is most unproductive; it so far falls short
of 350 land skins. Two days ago we traded 3 Sea Otters, the first seen
here, from the Natives of Chilcat, which will be sent to you, together
with a few land furs, bought from your Indians.    In my visit to Cross
Kolosh of these regions, will be delivered to us for the price they were
purchased." Governor of the Colonies A. E. Etholine to Commander of
Steamer Nicolai I., Volunteer Pilot Lindenberg, July 23, 1840, Proceedings
of the Alaska Boundary Tribunal (U.S. Cong., Cong. 58, Sess. 2, S.E. 162.),
Washington, 1903-04, Vol. IV., part ii., Appendix to the Counter Case of the
United States, pp. 84-85.
(34) Neither of these two documents is available for publication.
Wrangell, after his retirement from the Governorship of the Russian
American colonies, in 1835, eventually returned to Russia, where he became
a Rear Admiral in the service of the Emperor of Russia. In February,
1839, he met Simpson at Hamburg to sign the agreement.
(35) Roughly speaking the continental possessions were left to the
Hudson's Bay Company, while the islands remained in the Russian's sphere. 66 Douglas and the Russian American Co.
Sound I did not purchase a single skin of any discription [sic], the
Indians said they had sold all their Sea Otter and land fur to your
Steam Vessel, a fact which if substantiated in a single instance would
justify the stoppage of the rent, as you have no claim whatever to
any discription of fur, whether land or sea peltries held by the continental Tribes, the whole being unreservedly secured by treaty to us.
In relation to this circumstance, permit me to observe, that it does not
in the least diminish the confidence I repose in the integrity of your
purposes: I know too well that the fatal zeal of subordinate Agents
often induces false views of those interests they seek to promote, and
obscures their perceptions of the infinitely more lofty principles which
direct the conduct of honourable men.
I approve of the plan you propose for settling the fur account and
have directed our gentlemen to transmit regular statements of all furs
brought from your territory, while you will remit accounts of our furs,
in your hands, and the Balance only will be transferred.
I have further only to assure you of the high consideration with
which I remain
Your Excellency's
most obedient &c
very Humble Serv*
Several additional points of interest in connection with the
annexation petition of 1869 suggest the desirability of adding
a further note about a document which, in reality, represented
the crystallization of a long-existent feeling on the part of at
least a portion of the inhabitants of British Columbia, in general,
and of Victoria, in particular.
The detailed analysis of the status of the signatories of the
petition led to the distinct impression that annexationist sentiment drew its main support from the non-British elements in
the population. This impression is substantiated by the opinion
of Dr. J. S. Helmcken—a figure of considerable importance in
the early political history of the Province. In his Reminiscences,
written in 1892, several references are made to the annexation
question. It is not always clear whether the reference is to this
particular petition or its predecessor of 1867, but the information given is none the less valuable. Moreover, the personal
attitude of the writer is made perfectly apparent, and the
extracts reproduced herewith are an adequate refutation of the
groundless charge of his having been annexationist in sympathy.
Somewhere about this time—I do not remember the year—some Americans
privately got up an agitation and tried to persuade the British settlers to
petition the President of the United States to use his assistance to have the
island annexed to the United States. Of course the same arguments and
persuasions were used then as since, that it would be for the immediate and
permanent benefit of the island, and that all would become rich. They
pointed out too the fact that H M Govt cared but little about the colonies
and was willing to let them go, they being at this time of free trade agitation [?] and success [?], an incumbrance, an expense of defence, and liable
to lead the mother country to war or in case of war the cost of defending
them. These doctrines were at this time in the ascendant among the free
traders—who considered that the colonies would stick to England, until they
became independent like the United States.
* For the original article, see British Columbia Historical Quarterly,
IV. (1940), pp. 267-287.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V., No. 1.
6 68 Willard E. Ireland. January
There is no doubt that some, who would not like their names mentioned
now, signed this petition and that it was duly forwarded to the President,
but I never heard that it was in any way acted on. I never even saw this
petition, much less signed it and indeed I only know from hearsay some who
are said to have signed it, and altho I have often striven to get a sight of
the copy said to exist in Victoria, I have never succeeded. I think some
petition of the same kind was got up in Canada, so it seems to have been
a semi-organized thing. Anyhow I have no doubt I was asked to sign it and
listened to what they had to say, but as usual laughed and was non committal. Many talked more or less about annexation—and in process of time
when the question of Union with B. Columbia and subsequently confederation came up, doubtless many debated whether it would not be better to be
at once annexed instead of waiting until the whole of Canada had been
gobbled up—for I think too before this the Americans bought Alaska—
. . . After the Americans bought it they boasted of Canada being sandwiched—ready to be gobbled up—.   .   .*
The alternatives of annexation or confederation and the significance of the Alaska purchase are further discussed by Helmcken
in reference to the resolution sponsored by Amor de Cosmos in
the Legislative Council of British Columbia in 1867 favouring
At the same time there sprang up afresh an agitation in which many joined,
that annexation to the U States would be much more beneficial than Confederation with Canada—this sentiment existed among the Americans of
course and they played their part—many Britishers agreed with them. The
poverty of Canada—distance from British Columbia, the intermediate portion uninhabited—the difficulty of communication &c were freely made use
of; the riches of the United States and if united the population and business would flow in, all would be rich and progressive instead of stagnant
and poor. Victoria and B. Columbia became a political boiling cauldron.
The discussions and agitation led me to form an, or if it please better, to
change my opinion. I came to look on Confederation as premature—it
seemed like another leap in the dark—we were to be united to what we
did not know, but the absence of communication governed me much—there
could be no immigration from Canada, there being no means of travel.
What B. Columbia wanted was population—.   .   .
In addition to all this the Americans had by purchase acquired Alaska,
and so boasted they had sandwiched B. Columbia and could eat her up at
any time. . . . Possible H M Govt regrets now not having bought Alaska,
but at this time H M. Govt cared but little about the Colonies—they might
go and do as the[y] pleased; they were only children which when grown
up would go their own way and be independent.   .   .   .2
(1) J. S. Helmcken, Reminiscences, MS, Archives of B.C., Vol. IV., pp.
(2) Ibid., Vol. V., pp. 67-69. 1941 The Annexation Petition of 1869. 69
That the opposition to confederation was due more to an ignorance of the aims and capabilities of the recently organized
Dominion of Canada, rather than to the desire to see annexation
to the United States accomplished, becomes apparent.
Canada was looked down on as a poor mean slow people, who had been very
commonly designated North American Chinamen. This character they had
achieved from their necessarily thrifty condition for long years, and indeed
they compared very unfavorably with the Americans and with our American
element, for at this time and previously very many liberal handed and better
class of Americans resided here, many in business—some on acct of the civil
war necessitating their remaining even after the frightful internecine
killing had ceased. Our trade was either with the U. S or England—with
Canada we had nothing to do. Of course my being an Anticonfedera-
tion[i]st, led to my being dubbed an Annexationist, but really I had no idea
of annexation, but merely wished the colony to be let alone under H M
Govt and to fight her way unhampered. I had nothing whatever to do with
annexation petitions, and do not know who signed them—tho I have heard
that some who now hold or have held official positions had done so. This
petition doubtless went to the President of the U. S. but no one has ever
been able to see a copy of it since, altho it is said to exist in Victoria some
where. There is no doubt the Americans had a contempt for Canada and
this feeling extended to the Colonists.
I suppose the election was one of the fiercest ever fought in Victoria,
every one seemed crazy I among the number—these were the days of great
excitements. I had the British and American element and Jewish element
on my side and after a time the election came on. . . . The Anticonfedera-
tion had won handsomely. 3
It would thus appear that confederation, in this instance, was
defeated by a curious combination of loyal British colonials with
foreigners, many of whom were actively interested in furthering
the cause of annexation.
As has already been pointed out, the emergence of an annexationist movement in British Columbia might almost have been
expected, in view of the large influx of American settlers at the
time of the Fraser River gold-rush. The annexation petitions
might be taken as the political manifestations of the movement.
On the other hand, one of the most interesting indications of the
extent of the infiltration of American sentiment into the normal
life of the colony is to be found in the movement within the
(3) Ibid., Vol. V., pp. 76-78. 70 Willard E. Ireland. January
Masonic order for the establishment of an independent Grand
Lodge for British Columbia.4
Masonry in British Columbia dates from the organization in
Victoria of Victoria Lodge, No. 1085, under a warrant from the
Grand Lodge of England, dated March 19, 1859. The first lodge
to be organized on the Mainland was at New Westminster—
Union Lodge, No. 1201, by a warrant from the same authority,
dated December 16, 1861. Even at this early date American
influence can be found at work. Amongst the new arrivals in
the colonies were many Masons who were unacquainted with
the work practised by the English lodges and who were, consequently, desirous of organizing a lodge which would use American work. A proposal to apply to the Grand Lodge of Washington for a dispensation came to the notice of the Victoria Lodge
early in 1861, and was dealt with by the following resolution,
passed January 24, 1861:—
Whereas we have been informed that a party in this community have applied
to the Grand Lodge of Washington Territory for a Dispensation or Warrant
to organize a Lodge of F. & A. M. in this town, it is, therefore,
Resolved, That while we hail the Grand Lodge of Washington Territory and
all other Grand Lodges as Brethren and Masons, we do not recognize their
power to grant Dispensations or Warrants out of the district of their own
country, and all Dispensations and Warrants emanating from any other
source than the Grand Lodges of the mother country in this place, we shall
hold as clandestine, and all Masons visiting such Lodges cannot be recognized by us as Masons.6
The outcome was that the original scheme was dropped, but
application was made for a warrant under the Grand Lodge of
Scotland, whose work was more similar to that practised by
the American lodges, and, in consequence, Vancouver Lodge,
No. 421, came into being.6 By 1871 there were no less than nine
Masonic lodges;  four operating under the English constitution
(4) General references on this topic are: Thomas Shotbolt, An Account
of the Establishment and Subsequent Progress of Freemasonry in the Colony
of British Columbia from its origin in 1859 to 1871, Victoria, 1871; Proceedings of the Convention to Organize the M.W. Grand Lodge of A.F. &
A.M. of British Columbia, Victoria, 1872 (reprinted, 1907); and " Report
of the Grand Historian [R. L. Reid] " in Proceedings of the . . . Grand
Lodge    .    .    .    of British Columbia, 1938, pp. 165-185.
(5) Shotbolt, op. cit., p. 3.
(6) Shotbolt, op. cit., p. 4, vide also, Address delivered by R.W. Bro.
DeWolf Smith, December 14, 1909, n.p., n.d., p. 5. 1941 The Annexation Petition of 1869. 71
with a District Grand Lodge, and five under the Scottish constitution governed by a Provincial Grand Lodge.
Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, was, from its inception, the most
pro-American of all the lodges. In this connection it is interesting to note that in all ten of its members signed the Annexation Petition.7 Moreover, it was this lodge which launched the
agitation for the Independent Grand Lodge of British Columbia
early in January, 1869,8 and the prime movers in that connection, R. H. Adams and M. W. Waitt, were also interested annexationists. The Scottish lodges were, on the whole, favourable to
the proposition, but it was opposed by the English lodges. An
extract from the letter of Robert Burnaby, District Grand Master, reporting the affair to the Grand Lodge of England is
In opening this case, it is necessary in the first place to premise that this
colony is a small and isolated British community in close proximity to
American Territories and States, each of which, as a matter of course, has
its own Independent Grand Lodge. Our population contains, besides many
Americans, a large proportion of Canadians, who have also an Independent
Grand Lodge—hence among the more restless spirits of the Craft has arisen
this desire to achieve also an independent position and to take rank as a
distinct Grand Lodge.9
The Grand Lodge of England reported itself as unfavourable to
the movement. It should, in all fairness, be noted that the Provincial Grand Master, I. W. Powell, was unwilling to act without
the consent of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, whose opinion,
though requested, never was transmitted to the colony.
The question thus remained in abeyance until January, 1871,
when Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, reopened the issue by urging
again the calling of a convention of all lodges to organize the
independent body.10 The prime movers in this instance were
H. F. Heisterman and G. C. Keays, both of whom had signed
the Annexation Petition;   indeed, the former might almost be
(7) They were as follows, P. Ousterhout, J.G., M. W. Waitt, P.M., G. C
Keays, P.M., H. F. Heisterman, Lewis Lewis, J. F. Becker, H. M. Cohen,
W. Hoffman, D. F. Fee, and C. B. Sweeney.
(8) Shotbolt, op. cit., pp. 4-6. DeWolf Smith states that an earlier
meeting had been held on December 16, 1868, at which the subject had been
discussed.    Vide, Address   .   .   .  DeWolf Smith, p. 9.
(9) Robert Burnaby, D.G.M., to the V.W. Bro. John Hervey, Grand
Secretary, etc., February 8, 1869, Shotbolt, op. cit., p. 7.
(10) Ibid., pp. 10-11. 72 Willard E. Ireland.
regarded as its originator. Despite the opposition of the English
lodges, plans went forward for a convention to be held in March,
and the Hon. Elwood Evans, Past Grand Master of Washington,11 was invited to attend to install the new Grand Lodge. The
plans thus laid were forestalled by the prompt action of the
District Grand Master. During the summer of 1871 the differences between the two branches of the Craft were smoothed
away and on October 21, 1871, a convention was held in Victoria,
which resulted in the organization of the present Grand Lodge
of British Columbia.
Geographical isolation from the mother country and Canada
had fostered in British Columbia a feeling of independence.
From the foregoing account it would appear that at times persons with ulterior motives in mind attempted to take advantage
of that feeling of independence and to turn it to their own purposes. But at heart the colony was loyal. Annexation from the
day of its origin was a hopeless cause.
Willard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
(11) It is perhaps significant to note that the Hon. Elwood Evans had,
in January, 1870, made an address to the Tacoma Library Association on
" The Re-annexation of British Columbia to the U.S., right, proper and
desirable," which was later published in pamphlet form.    (Olympia, 1870.) NOTES AND COMMENTS.
Many interesting and valuable additions have been made to the rich
store of documents preserved in the Provincial Archives since the last list
of accessions was printed in the Quarterly. A number of these relate to
the fur trade, the most important being the original journal of Fort Simpson, covering the years 1859 to 1862. The book is in perfect condition,
and gives an intimate account of happenings at the post during a very
interesting period—the transitional years from the old regime of the fur
trade to colonial days. Inquiry has revealed that earlier and later volumes
of the series are on file in the Archives of the Hudson's Bay Company.
A large collection of papers of the late Dr. J. S. Helmcken was presented
to the Archives by the heirs of Dr. Helmcken's daughter, the late Mrs. Edith
L. Higgins, when the historic Helmcken residence was purchased by the
Government in 1939. The papers include Dr. Helmcken's reminiscences,
which fill five large exercise books. The first volume commences with the
amusing entry: " Well here goes—March 27th 1892." The narrative appears
to have been completed within a year, and although it is without any formal
plan, and is in parts fragmentary, it contains an immense wealth of fact
and anecdote relating to early colonial days. Two important documents
from the collection have already been printed in this Quarterly—Dr. Helmcken's diary of the confederation negotiations at Ottawa, in 1870, and the
census of Vancouver Island compiled by Governor Douglas, in 1855. The
many letters amongst the papers include a long series addressed to A. G.
Dallas, and other items of equal interest.
The Archives has also acquired a collection of letters and papers from
the estate of the late Sir Henry P. P. Crease, some of which date back to
1858. Amongst them are a number of early colonial imprints, several of
which are new to the Archives, and at least one of which is probably unique.
The letters include several long and informative communications from
Colonel Moody, who corresponded with Sir Henry for a number of years
after his departure from British Columbia.
The Archives has had few more staunch friends than the late Charles H.
French, a former Fur Trade Commissioner of the Hudson's Bay Company,
whose interest and help will long be remembered. The last of his many
gifts to the department, made some months before his death, consisted of
a most valuable group of documents relating to early colonial days, and
included several original letters from Archibald Barclay, one time Secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company, to James Douglas and A. G. Dallas.
From England there recently arrived the abstract log of the steamship
Empress of India, covering the period from January, 1900, to March, 1903.
The log was the property of the late Captain O. P. Marshall, who commanded the pioneer Empress from the time she entered service, in 1891,
British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Vol, V.f No. 1.
73 74 Notes and Comments. January
until his retirement from the service of the Canadian Pacific in 1905.
Original records relating to the original Empress liners are now rare and
this is the only log known to be in existence, except those kept by the late
Captain Pybus and presented by him to the Canadian Pacific some years ago.
Other manuscripts received have included historical and autobiographical notes compiled by the late Horatio Webb, of Chilliwack, which were presented by members of Mr. Webb's family; several account-books from the
old Spuzzum toll-bridge, on the road to Cariboo, presented by Alfred Dryden,
of Victoria; transcripts of a number of most interesting letters by William
Fernie and R. T. Galbraith, relating to early days in the Kootenay, presented by the late S. S. Fowler; a transcript of a narrative by the famous
" Colonel" Robert Stevenson, presented by Rev. J. C. Goodfellow; and the
early minute-books of the Victoria School Board, which have been received
from the Board on loan.
An extensive and valuable collection of early legal records was transferred from the vaults of the Law Courts, and the Attorney General's
Department, to the Archives in 1939-40. From the popular point of view,
the most interesting items were probably the note-books kept by the various
Judges during trials. Several of these are in the handwriting of David
Cameron, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Civil Justice of Vancouver Island, and the earliest of them records the first session of the
Court, held in 1853. Equally interesting is the much longer series of notebooks in the handwriting of Judge Begbie, first Chief Justice of British
Columbia. Though not quite complete, these include the original book in
which he recorded his first trials, in the spring of 1859. Though most of
the Begbie records are in longhand, some of them are in a type of shorthand now obsolete, which no one has contrived as yet to decipher.
By an interesting coincidence these legal records were received in great
part just before the retirement of the Hon. Archer Martin, former Chief
Justice of British Columbia, in the spring of 1940. Mr. Justice Martin very
kindly arranged to transfer his own note-books to the Archives, and these
form a most interesting supplement and complement to the earlier records.
There are some 60 volumes in all, and these cover the entire period from
1898, when Mr. Justice Martin was appointed to the Supreme Court, to his
last cases in the Court of Appeal in 1940, and also include the innumerable
cases which he tried as Judge of the Admiralty Court.
Museum Exhibits.
Along with his note-books, Mr. Justice Martin presented his wigs, which
include his barrister's wig, his Judge's wig, and his full-bottomed wig, complete with carrying cases. It is probable that they constitute the only set
of the kind on this continent, and their interest and attractiveness as an
exhibit will be readily appreciated. To complete the gift, the retiring Chief
Justice included a number of books and miscellaneous reports and papers,
as well as his old circuit-box, with its special fittings and law texts.
Readers will recall that the purchase of the old Helmcken home included
most of the contents of the building.    Various items of interest will be 1941 Notes and Comments. 75
described later, when it is possible to open the house to the public. The
work of restoration has been much delayed by circumstances arising from
the war, but it is progressing slowly. The building was made thoroughly
weather-proof before the winter of 1939-40; the cleaning and painting of
the interior was finished recently; work on the floors is proceeding, and it
is hoped that all will be ready for furnishing by the spring.
The contents of " Cloverdale," the old Tolmie estate, which was built by
Dr. William Fraser Tolmie in 1859, and was in recent years the residence
of his son, the late Dr. Simon Fraser Tolmie, former Premier of British
Columbia, were sold at auction in 1938, but, fortunately, the Archives was
able to acquire a few items before the sale. Chief of these were the dining-
room table and chairs, which were used originally in old Fort Victoria.
They are now in the Northwest Library of the Archives Department, where
they are used by the Council of the British Columbia Historical Association,
when it meets in Victoria, and regularly by the Council of the Victoria
Section. Other Tolmie family treasures purchased included a Hudson's Bay
Company half-bushel measure, the branding-iron used to mark cattle with
the Tolmie brand; and an iron griddle, used by the family ever since
" Cloverdale " was completed, which was made from a part of the original
boiler of the steamer Beaver. This boiler was removed in 1846 at Nisqually,
while Dr. Tolmie, Sr., was in charge of that post, and the griddle is the
only fragment known to be in existence.
Other Beaver relics acquired recently by the Archives Museum include
a small box, carved from a solid block of oak; a cane, presented by Mr.
C C. Pemberton; and the utensils used for cleaning the vessel's muzzle-
loading guns, which were transferred from the Provincial Museum.
Two other transfers from the Museum were made at the same time.
One of these was the first mace of the Province of British Columbia, which
was designed on the most modest scale, and relegated to storage in the
Museum many years ago. The second item was a paddle carried by the
old Arctic whaler Karluk, which was used by the Canadian Arctic Expedition, led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. She left Esquimalt in June, 1913, and
was crushed in the ice and sank a year later near Wrangel Island. Her
end was given an incongruous touch of melodrama, for when she sank a
gramophone in her galley was playing Chopin's Funeral March, thanks to
the whim of Captain Bartlett, who tells the whole story in his book, The
Last Voyage of the Karluk.
Another marine relic is a landing pike from H.M.S. Egeria, the famous
old vessel which was used on the British Columbian coast for many years
as a hydrographic survey ship. She was sold out of the service in 1911,
and dismantled in Vancouver.
Mr. I. E. Barr, of the staff of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway, has
presented to the Archives a fragment of the last rail laid in the Canadian
Pacific Railway, at Craigellachie, in November, 1885. Many bits of steel
can be found which purport to be genuine fragments of the historic rail,
but the authenticity of this one can be established with some certainty. 76 Notes, and Comments. January
An exhibit which has attracted much attention is the dagger which,
according to tradition, was used to kill Captain James Cook. The weapon
has been loaned to the Archives Museum by Mr. M. A. Grainger, of Vancouver. Mr. Grainger states that originally it was accompanied by a series
of letters, the earliest of which was almost contemporary with the murder;
but, most unfortunately, the older letters are now lacking.
Some time ago, through the efforts of Mr. T. L. Thacker, of Hope, the
Fraser Canyon Historical Society came into possession of the interesting
old sun-dial presented to the village in colonial days by the Royal Engineers.
The inscription reads: " Constructed by the Royal Engineers, New Westminster, December 1860. Engraved by Chas. Sinnett, Sapper, R.E." The
dial was rescued when its stand became ruinous, and the Society has now
deposited it in the Archives for safe-keeping. A replica of the dial has been
made, and this is to be erected at Hope in place of the original.
Mrs. Mabel Borland, a former resident of Keithley Creek, has presented
to the Department an elaborate set of gold-scales, formerly the property of
her uncle, the late Robert Borland. These scales were carried into Cariboo
over the trail, before the completion of the road, and were used originally
in the Barkerville office of the Bank of British Columbia.
In recent years an effort has been made to enlarge the Archives collection of early photographs of cities and towns in the Interior of the
Province, and gratifying progress has been made toward that end. Mrs.
George Kane, of Kaslo, presented over one hundred photographic plates,
which include views of Kaslo, Ainsworth, Sandon, Nelson, and other communities taken in the 90's, at the height of the Kootenay mining excitement.
Another fifty plates, chiefly relating to the City of Nelson and the steamers
plying on Kootenay Lake, were presented by Mr. C. C Payne and the Nelson
Daily News. A fine collection of early pictures of Merritt and district was
gathered and loaned for copying purposes by Miss Edith Bristow, and other
early views have been secured with the help of various friends, including
Mr. R. R. Burns, M.L.A., of Trail; Mr. William Turnbull, of Glasgow,
Scotland; Mr. John Forsyth, of Victoria; Lieut.-Col. G. G. Aitken, Chief
Geographer;  and the Department of Public Works.
The portrait collection has been enriched by several notable gifts, including an autographed photograph of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, presented
by the Misses Gait, and a number of early pictures of Sir James and Lady
Douglas and members of the Douglas family, presented by Mrs. J. E. W.
Oland, Sir James's granddaughter.
Small but important purchases have been made from the plates of two
pioneer photographic firms, both of which are noted for their views of
Victoria and pictures of old-timers of the district—the late Edgar Fleming,
and Jones Brothers, of Esquimalt.
The collection of photographs of the old lake and river steamers which
plied Interior waters is now nearly complete. Although many of the vessels
were in existence relatively recently, pictures of them are surprisingly rare,
judging from the difficulty experienced in finding many of them.    Many 1941 Notes and Comments. 77
plates and prints have been added within the last year or two, and special
mention should be made of the help received from Mr. John Stobo, of Nelson,
and Captain J. B. Weeks, of Penticton, both of whom loaned a number of
photographs for copying purposes.
The largest item added to the marine collection was an album of 250
shipping views presented by Major Harold Brown. In addition, rare prints
or plates have been loaned by many interested friends, including Captain E.
Aikman, Mr. J. A. Heritage, Captain Samuel Robinson, Captain A. W.
Davison, Mr. J. B. Penty, Mr. J. E. Jeffcott, and Mr. J. E. Macrae.
Craigflower School Cairn.
At an interesting ceremony held on the afternoon of November 13, 1940,
a memorial cairn which had been erected by the Provincial Government
Travel Bureau was unveiled by Alexander Watson, grandson of Kenneth
McKenzie, original bailiff of the old Craigflower estate. The monument
consists of a large stone taken from the foundations of old Christ Church
Cathedral, mounted on a base of smaller stones, and bears a bronze plaque
with the inscription: " Craigflower School House, established by the Crown
Colony of Vancouver Island, March, 1855. Oldest school building now
standing in Western Canada. This monument was erected by the British
Columbia Government Travel Bureau, 1940."
A large crowd had gathered for the occasion, and Mrs. Curtis Sampson,
President of the Victoria Section of the British Columbia Historical Association, acted as chairman and introduced the speakers. These included
Mr. E. G. Rowebottom, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, who represented the Provincial Government, and told of his department's plans for
marking and preserving historic buildings and landmarks. The work is
being done in co-operation with the Historical Association, and Dr. T. A.
Rickard, Past President, expressed the Association's appreciation of the
Government's efforts, and the hope that the present ceremony would be the
first of many. Mr. J. L. Hobbs, Chief Factor of the Native Sons, Post No.
1, spoke of his organization's interest in preserving links with the past.
Mrs. H. A. Beckwith, Past Chief Factor of Post No. 3, Native Daughters,
recalled how, some years ago, the historic old school was about to be torn
down, but was saved and restored thanks to the intervention of Mr. Lorimer
and a committee of the Native Sons and Native Daughters. Since that time
the school has been opened and maintained as a museum, and Mrs. Beckwith
made an appeal for further relics to add to the many items of interest
already on display in the building.
Mr. James H. Beatty, who was President of the Victoria Chamber of
Commerce in 1921, when a first modest tablet was set up to mark the school,
introduced Mr. C C. Pemberton, chairman of the committee interested in
commemorating the site. Mr. W. E. Ireland, Provincial Archivist, outlined
the early history of the school, and noted that in those days the teacher and
pupils had not only to go through the ordeal of a visit from a Government 78 Notes and Comments. January
Inspector, but had to bear up under the strain of a personal visitation and
examination by Governor Douglas as well.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
Charles Montgomery Tate.
On September 29, 1940, a handsome bronze plaque was unveiled in St.
Andrew's-Wesley United Church, Vancouver, to the memory of Rev. C M.
Tate, noted pioneer mission worker amongst the Indians. Rev. S. S. Oster-
hout, D.D., presided, and the speakers included Major J. S. Matthews, Vancouver City Archivist, Dr. A. M. Sanford, and Dr. G. H. Raley. The
unveiling was performed by Mrs. Harry Uslick, who was a member of Mr.
Tate's first class, 52 years ago.   The inscription reads as follows:—
Charles Montgomery Tate
" A Voice in the Wilderness "
To the Indians of the British Columbia Coast
Founder of Coqualeetza Indian School
Indian Missionary to the First Church in Vancouver
Built on the Shore by the Indians
His Canoe was his Chapel
Victoria Section.
The annual meeting of the Section was held in the Provincial Library
on October 28, 1940, with the President, Mr. B. A. McKelvie, presiding.
Reports covering the year's activities were presented by the Secretary, Mrs.
M. R. Cree; the Treasurer, Miss Madge Wolfenden; and the following
committee conveners: Mrs. George Phillips (Necrology), Mr. C. C. Pemberton (Historic Landmarks), and Major H. T. Nation (Mining). The President made special mention of the invaluable service rendered to the Section
by Mrs. Cree, who had served as Secretary for the past six years.
The Section has every reason to be proud of its continued growth, and
the Treasurer was able to report that the paid-up membership for 1940 had
reached the encouraging total of 198. Judging by the number of fees for
the new year already paid, there is every reason to hope that this total will
be maintained in 1941.
The Hon. Mr. Justice Martin and Mr. D. B. F. Bullen, scrutineers,
reported that the following members had been elected to the Council of the
Section for the year 1940-41:—
Mrs. M. R. Cree. Miss Muriel Gait. Mr. John Goldie.
Col. H. T. Goodland.        Mr. F. C. Green. Mr. W. E. Ireland.
Mr. E. W. McMullen.      Major H. T. Nation. Dr. J. S. Plaskett.
Miss Alma Russell. Mrs. Curtis Sampson.       Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Mr. McKelvie chose as the subject for his presidential address The
Nootka Affair.    By a fitting coincidence, it was 150 years to the day— 1941 Notes and Comments. 79
October 28, 1790, to October 28, 1940—since the conclusion of the Nootka
Convention. Mr. McKelvie traced the gradual growth in the interest shown
in the Pacific Coast by successive Spanish and British rulers, and the
development of trading rivalry between British, Spanish, and American sea
captains, which culminated in the disputes over the Nootka territory, the
seizure of British ships by the Spaniards, and the imprisonment of British
captains and crews. He described with apt allusion and quotation the disputes and negotiations which nearly flared up to war between Spain and
Great Britain, and outlined the final settlement of the quarrel which Vancouver Island had raised in European chancellories. The large attendance
at the meeting was evidence of the popularity of the President, and his
address was much enjoyed by all present.
The newly-elected Council of the Section met on November 4, and elected
the following executive for 1940-41:—
President Mrs. Curtis Sampson.
Vice-President Mr. F. C Green.
Honorary Secretary Mrs. M. R. Cree.
Honorary Treasurer Miss Madge Wolfenden.
A general meeting of the Section was held in the Provincial Library on
December 9, 1940, when the speaker was Mr. J. W. Eastham, plant pathologist for the Provincial Government. His address on The Spanish Contribution to the Botanical Exploration of the Pacific Northwest formed a complement to the account of the work of the Russian botanists and explorers
which Mr. Eastham gave to the Section a year ago. The contribution of
the Spanish explorers to the names of British Columbia's flora is limited to
a dozen or so species, the speaker explained, and the only genuine botanist
from Spain to explore the Northwest was Joseph Mariano Monico, who
accompanied Quadra to Nootka in 1792 and collected some 200 specimens
of plants. Monico wrote an interesting book entitled Information About
Nootka which was first printed as recently as 1913, although it was compiled more than a century earlier. Malaspina's voyages of exploration
ranked next in interest, but the botanist who accompanied him was a
Bohemian, Thadeo Haenke. The first English-speaking naturalist to visit
the Pacific Coast was William Anderson, surgeon's mate in Captain Cook's
Resolution. A very sick man, Anderson botanized at Nootka in 1778, but
died soon afterwards aboard the Resolution, in Bering Sea.
Following the address, several reels of coloured motion pictures, illustrating animal and plant life, and small-boat cruising in British Columbian
waters, were shown by Mr. F. J. Barrow.
Vancouver Section.
The annual meeting of the Section was held in the York Room of the
Hotel Georgia, on October 28, 1940. The speaker of the evening was Dr.
Robie L. Reid, K.C, a Past President of the Section, whose most interesting
address on The Inside Story of the " Komagata Maru " is printed in this
number of the Quarterly. In 1914, when the famous affair occurred, Dr.
Reid was agent in Vancouver for the Minister of Justice, and, as a conse- 80 Notes and Comments. January
quence, has an intimate knowledge of the whole story, and in particular of
the all-important legal points which were involved.
The report of the nominating committee was accepted unanimously by
the meeting, and the following slate of officers for the year 1940-41 was
declared elected:—
Past President J_r. J. R. V. Dunlop.
President Mr. E. S. Robinson.
Vice-President Dr. M. Y. Williams.
Secretary  Miss J. Coots.
Treasurer  Miss Thelma Nevard.
Members of the Council—
Mr. E. G. Baynes. Miss Helen Boutilier.
Mr. J. M. Coady. Judge J. A. Forin.
Mr. A. G. Harvey. Dr. W. Kaye Lamb.
Miss E. B. Mercer. Mr. D. A. McGregor.
Dr. R. L. Reid. Dr. W. N. Sage.
Mr. K. A. Waites. Mr. G. B. White.
The Graduate Historical Society of the University of British Columbia
has arranged its programme for 1940-41 around the international situation.
The diplomatic background of recent events, and the varying ambitions,
jealousies, and intrigues of the world powers are being analyzed and evaluated for their part in bringing about the second World War.
The topics chosen, which are provocative and have given rise to much
discussion, appear in the current programme as follows. Names and addresses
of hosts and hostesses are given in brackets:—
October 17, 1940.
Mr. Arthur Wirick:   Are the defects of the Versailles settlement
responsible for the outbreak of the present war?
(Dr. Sylvia Thrupp, 2547 Wallace Crescent.)
November 21.
Miss Helen Boutilier:   Was war made inevitable by the -rise of dictatorships in Germany and Italy?
(Mr. and Mrs. K. A. Waites, 1931 Linden Road.)
January 23, 1941.
Mr. John Gibbard:   Was Russia a factor in the drift towards war?
(Miss Eleanor Mercer, 5729 Hudson Street.)
February 27.
Annual banquet.    Details to be announced.
March 27.
Miss P. Johnson:   What real economic rivalries were there between
the power8 at war?
(Miss Rose Whelan, 3085 Tolmie Street.) 1941 Notes and Comments. 81
May 15.
Mr. Robert McKenzie:   What hope is there of rational reconstruction
in the post-war period?
(Dr. and Mrs. Robie L. Reid, 1736 Wesbrook Crescent.)
The executive for the present year comprises: Honorary President,
Dr. Sylvia Thrupp; Staff Adviser, Dr. W. N. Sage; President, Mr. R. J.
Boroughs; Vice-President, Mrs. P. Frith; Treasurer, Miss Patricia Johnson; Corresponding Secretary, Miss Margot McDermott; Recording Secretary, Miss Audrey Reid;   Past President, Mr. John Gibbard.
A cordial invitation is extended to members of the British Columbia
Historical Association to attend the meetings of the Graduate Historical
Robie L. Reid, K.C, LL.D., F.R.S.C, author of The Assay Office and
Proposed Mint at New Westminster, and of many articles and papers, is
one of the best-known authorities on the history of British Columbia. In
1914 he was agent for the Minister of Justice in Vancouver, and was therefore in the thick of the negotiations and complications which resulted from
the arrival of the Komagata Maru. It is too seldom realized that the fundamental question involved was one in law, and Dr. Reid is able to tell the
whole story from personal knowledge.
Ven. Archdeacon Henry Alexander Collison was born at Metlakatla.
He is a son of Archdeacon W. H. Collison, famous pioneer missionary
amongst the Indians, and author of the well-known volume, In the Wake of
the War Canoe. Though he was educated at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and
Trinity College, Dublin, Archdeacon Collison knew Indian life and ways
intimately in his youth, and writes of them from personal observation. He
returned to Canada in 1904, and lived for many years on Vancouver Island,
first at Cedar Hill, and later at Comox and Duncan.
Donald C. Davidson, Ph.D., a former graduate of the University of
British Columbia, is Educational Adviser to the Henry E. Huntingdon
Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California. His doctoral dissertation
" The Alaska Boundary: an historical survey," written at the University
of California, makes him eminently capable for the discussion of present
Tales of the Kootenays.    By Fred J. Smyth.    Cranbrook, B.C.:   Printed in
the office of The Courier, 1938.   Pp. iv. + 205.    111.   $2.
This volume is more serious in character than its title suggests, and
might better be termed a historical miscellany relating to the Southern
Kootenay. It is concerned primarily with two areas—Rossland, Trail,
Nelson, and the Slocan country on the one hand, and the Cranbrook-
Kimberley-Fort Steele region on the other. There are a few references to
the early explorers, notably David Thompson, and an account of the rush
to Wild Horse Creek in 1865 and later years, but the bulk of the book is
devoted to the Kootenay mining boom of the eighties and nineties, and to
railway and other developments of later days. Much of the narrative has
been written from personal knowledge, for the author has resided in the
Kootenay since 1896, when he moved from Spokane to Slocan City, and
went to work in the office of the Slocan City News. Two years later he
moved to Moyie, and in 1911 arrived in Cranbrook, where he is now on the
staff of the Cranbrook Courier.
The book was written in spare moments, and the narrative has suffered
in some ways as a consequence. Thus, while it contains much of interest,
it is often fragmentary and conforms to no general plan. Even the chapter
headings do not always give an accurate indication of the contents. As
there is no index, it is extremely difficult to use the book for reference purposes. To these deficiencies must be added the fact that authorities are
cited much too seldom, at least for the taste of this reviewer. It is true
that numerous and elaborate foot-notes would be entirely out of place in a
work of the kind, but a foreword or appendix in which the chief sources used
were indicated, and the more important newspaper narratives which have
been used were listed, would be of the greatest value to the serious student.
The narrative is marred by a good many errors of fact, most of which
could have been eliminated if they had been checked against the second
volume of Howay and Scholefield's standard and readily available British
Columbia. Frank Lamerster should read Frank Laumeister on page 11;
the Great Northern Railway constructed a line from Kaslo to Sandon in
1894, and not from Kaslo to Nakusp, as stated on page 16; Gilbert Malcolm
Sproat died in 1913, and not in 1903, as stated on page 29; on the same
page, Blanbet is a misprint for Blanchet. And so it goes. There is no
need to labour the point, but it is a pity that a little more attention could
not have been devoted to accuracy of detail, for, in spite of its faults, the
book is of considerable interest and value. Much of the material it contains
has not appeared previously in book form, and the author has caught something of the colour, romance, and humour of the history of the region.
It is only just to add that no book was ever presented more modestly, and
any one who has worked in the field of local history will agree with the
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. V., No. 1.
83 84 The Northwest Bookshelf. January
words of wisdom about the stories of pioneers which appear in the foreword,
on page 2. And there is a most disarming paragraph on the last page, in
which Mr. Smyth asks his critics not to be too severe. " Just remember,"
he remarks, " that the field is open, and that you, too, are at liberty to write
a book on the Kootenays according to your own notion at any time you
The volume is illustrated with a portrait and nine other illustrations.
It is a pity that no map is included, as it would have clarified many points
for readers not familiar with the geography of the district. Tales of the
Kootenays has enjoyed a good sale and is now out of print, but a second
edition is reported to be in preparation.
Incidentally this must surely be the first volume dealing with the history
of British Columbia to contain references to Mae West and B.O.!
W. Kaye Lamb.
Vancouver, B.C.
The Tale of the Nativity, as told by the children of Inkameep, British Columbia, with eight original illustrations by Sis-hu-lk.    Pp. 19.    25 cents.
This booklet has a triple claim to recognition. It is the original product
of a group of Indian children belonging to the Okanagan Tribe of this
Province, who poured it spontaneously into the ears of their sympathetic
teacher, Anthony Walsh, on the Inkameep Reserve, near Oliver, B.C. It
reverses the ordinary procedure of story-telling, for it is the " grown-up "
who listens and the children who tell the tale. And it is the children who
transfer the old, old story from its original setting in Palestine to their own
familiar surroundings amongst the creatures they love in the little Inkameep
Here each detail finds its ordered sequence as seen through these children's
eyes. Mary sets out on her visit to Elizabeth carrying deer meat and dried
roots as a present, with her pet chipmunk set up behind her on her horse.
Later on, when she and Joseph arrive, spent and weary from their long
journey, at the Head Meeting Place where the Great Chief has ordered them
to record their " marks on sheets of birch bark," the mother deer and her
fawn come to warm them, the rabbits gambol to amuse them, the chickadees
sing sweetly to soothe them as they fly around their heads. In due course
come the shepherds, with a pathetic little touch as the lame boy gives his
all, his treasured pet brown mouse, to the tiny Babe. Then follow the
travellers from afar, with characteristic offerings of a little canoe from the
distant ocean, a jar of fragrant gum from sweet-scented pine-trees, and a
child's palm-leaf cloak brought by a " Darkie" from the remote south
country. There is a pretty description of the presentation of the Child to
the old priest and then the hurried flight through the deep snow of an
Okanagan winter to a safe retreat from the Great Chief's threats; finally
a happy picture of the sheltered early days of the child Jesus, amid the
flowers, birds, and butterflies he loved.
These and other incidents are the subjects of eight black-and-white
illustrations contributed by the brilliant young artist, Sis-hu-lk, a former 1941 The Northwest Bookshelf. 85
schoolmate of the children, whose gifts are already known across Canada,
and in Great Britain, where a well known art critic has written of these
illustrations that they are " masterly." With freshness and skill Sis-hu-lk
shows the quail preening themselves with pride in their approaching
presentation by Mary, as the doves she had desired have flown away to the
warm south; the animals in the cave; the visits of the shepherds and Wise
Men; the charming episode at the entrance to the old priest's ceremonial
tepee; a portrayal of the " men with wings," as the story-tellers call angels,
spreading them over the snow-drifts to protect the feet of Mary and Joseph
as they hasten to escape with the precious Child; and, finally, a picture of
the peaceful scene to which the closing words of The Tale are devoted.
The publication of this Tale, the firstfruits of their efforts, is due to the
formation last January of a small committee in Victoria with the object of
promoting the revival of the latent gifts of drama and art inherent in the
young people of our Indian Tribes. The results of its successful sale will
be devoted to the remuneration of Sis-hu-lk for his illustrations, and to a
fund to enable the committee to carry further these objects, and thus contribute to Canadian culture, and, incidentally, to assist to economic independence those specially gifted among the Indians of this Province.
  Alice Ravenhill.
Victoria, B.C.
Guide to the Material in the National Archives. (The National Archives,
Publication No. 14, Washington, D.C, 1940. Pp. xviii., 303. Paper,
40 cents; cloth, 70 cents.)
The most appropriate criticism of this aid to historical research is that
offered in the introduction: "... with all its faults, this guide does
provide not only a useful conspectus of a large part of the records of the
Federal Government but also reasonably adequate descriptions of many of
the more important groups of those records." (P. x.) The faults (if such
they are to be called), are those which naturally arise from the compromise
implied in an attempt to satisfy temporarily the widespread curiosity regarding the contents of the National Archives of the United States and the
prodigious task involved in the classification of so large a collection. To the
student of British Columbia history the records of the State Department are
probably the most important, including as they do the records of Diplomatic
correspondence; Consular correspondence; Boundary commissions, arbitrations, and negotiations; Claims commissions, arbitrations, and awards;
Miscellaneous letters; Domestic letters; and Territorial papers. Special
mention should also be made of the records of the Russian-American Company for the period 1802-1867.
The Guide is fortunately prefaced by an excellent introduction which
clearly explains the purpose and function of the publication. Special commendation is merited by the plan of italicizing the " finding mediums "—
those invaluable time-savers for the research student. A complete table of
contents and twenty-four-page index considerably enhance its value. By the
very nature of its contents a detailed review of such a publication is neither
necessary nor desirable.    Its true worth will be demonstrated as its use as a 86 The Northwest Bookshelf. January
research-tool becomes more common. The National Archives are to be commended on the production of so adequate a successor to the preliminary
guide published as an appendix to the Third Annual Report of the Archivist
in 1938.
Willard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
Ranald MacDonald: Adventurer.    By M. Leona Nichols.    Caldwell, Idaho:
The Caxton Printers, 1940.    Pp. 176.    111.    $3.
When this book first appeared the news-sheet issued by a prominent
bookshop ventured to cast doubts upon the authenticity of the narrative,
and to one more familiar with books than with history the story of Ranald
MacDonald might well seem incredible. His mother was Princess Sunday,
daughter of famous old Chief Comcomly, of the Chinooks. His father was
Archibald McDonald, one of the best known officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company in the West. He attended the school conducted by Oregon's first
schoolmaster, John Ball, at Fort Vancouver. In 1834, at the age of 10, he
was sent overland to another school at Red River, and a few years later
travelled on to Upper Canada and the home of Edward Ermatinger, who is
well known to historians as the recipient of the correspondence known as
the Ermatinger Papers. Young Ranald was put to work in a bank, but his
native restlessness became too much for him, and about 1841 he ran away to
sea. Thereafter adventures came his way thick and fast. He found himself on a specie-laden ship whose crew hid the treasure ashore and then
scuttled the vessel off the coast of Lower California. He discovered too late
that another of his ships was a slave-runner, and saw her human cargo
thrown overboard when a British man-o'-war approached. He took to
whaling, but seems to have fared better and more pleasantly than most.
And it was from a whaler that he set out upon his most famous adventure
of all—his attempt to crash the gates of old Japan, in 1848. Ranald deliberately had himself cast upon the shore, and although he was kept in custody
and subjected to a series of searching inquiries, the ten months he passed
in Japan were a fascinating experience, which he enjoyed to the full, despite
certain discomforts. For seven of the ten months he was even able to conduct classes in English for a group of fourteen young students, several of
whom later acted as interpreters during the negotiations between the
Japanese authorities and Commodore Perry, in 1854. In the spring of 1849
the United States corvette Preble visited Japan, and Ranald was released
and placed aboard her; but his adventures were far from over. He went
to sea again, and was shipwrecked. He travelled to the Australian gold-
fields, made a small fortune there, and spent much of it upon a trip to
Europe. Finally he returned home to the West, and was attracted by the
gold excitement in our own Cariboo. He built trails, kept stores, ran hotels,
farmed, operated a ferry across the Fraser River at Lillooet, and mined
between times during the next twenty years. Finally, in 1882, he returned
to his first home, which in the interval had become the State of Washington, 1941 The Northwest Bookshelf. 87
and his last years were spent quietly and in near poverty near the site of
old Fort Colville. He died in 1894, a few months after he had attained the
age of three score years and ten.
Mrs. Nichols tells the story simply and well, and the attractiveness of
the book is enhanced by a pleasant format and numerous illustrations. The
latter comprise a dozen woodcuts by W. J. C Klamm, and facsimiles of six
old prints and documents. There is an index and bibliography, but the
latter contains no reference to the standard work on Ranald MacDonald by
Lewis and Murakami, in which Ranald's own narrative is printed complete,
and to the introduction and notes of which any person writing about him
to-day must turn for much biographical information.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Vancouver, B.C.
Printed by Charles F. Banfield, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
Organized October 31st, 1922.
His Honour ERIC W. Hamber, Lieutenant-Govemor of British Columl
OFFICERS, 1940-41.
Hon. G. M. Weik       - Honorary Pr<
Kenneth A. Waites       -       -       - President.
B. A. McKelvie  -       - - isl I 'dent.
E. M. Cotton nd Vice-Pr,
Willard E. Ireland   - Hoi
Helen R. Boutilier
Robie L. Reid  A rcl
Mrs. M. R. Cree. J. R. V. Dunlop. F. W. Howay.
j. C. Goodfellow. H. T. Nation.
Mrs. E. S. Robinson
(Victoria Section). (Vancouver Seeii
E. M. Cotton (New \ ter and Fraser Valley Section).
To encourage his' d stimulate public interest in history;
to promote the preservation and marking of historic sites, buildings, relics,
natural features, and other objects and places of historical interest, and to
publish historical sketches, studie uments.
Or y a fee of $2 annually in advance.    The fiscal year
commences on the first day of October. All members in ^ood standing receive
the British Columbia Historical Q- vithout further ch;
Correspond!.' lie addressed to the Provincial Archives,
ia, B.C.


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