British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jan 31, 1950

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Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
Willard E. Ireland,
Provincial Archives, Victoria.
Madge Wolfenden,
Provincial Archives, Victoria.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications should be addressed to the Editor.
Subscriptions should be sent to 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
Quarterly 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 Quarterly is indexed in Faxon's Annual Magazine Subject-Index
and the Canadian Index. We
" Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past"
Vol. XIV Victoria, B.C., January-April, 1950. Nos. 1 and 2
The Governorship of Richard Blanshard.                                  Page
By W. Kaye Lamb      1
The Gold-rush of '49.
By T. A. Rickard    41
Some Irish Figures in Colonial Days.
By Margaret A. Ormsby    61
Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1908.
Diary of My Journey to and Stay in the Peace River District in
the year 1903, by John Strickland Leitch, C.E., edited with an
introduction by W. A. Sage    83
Notes and Comments:
British Columbia Historical Association  109
Kamloops Museum Association  114
Okanagan Historical Society  115
Cariboo Historical Society 115
Statement Read by the Honourable the Premier, Byron I. Johnson,
in the Legislative Assembly, March 10, 1950, to Commemorate
the Centenary of the Arrival of Governor Richard Blanshard. _ 116
Contributors to This Issue  117
The Northwest Bookshelf:
McKelvie:  Tales of Conflict.
By Madge Wolfenden  119
Waddington:  The Fraser Mines Vindicated
Anderson: Sawney's Letters.
By Willard E. Ireland  120
Fries: From Copenhagen to Okanogan.
By A. F. Flucke  121 (After an oil painting by George H. Southwell.)
Richard Blanshard reading his Commission at Port Victoria, March 11,1850. THE GOVERNORSHIP OF RICHARD
Richard Blanshard, first Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, arrived at Fort Victoria on March 9, 1850, and
two days later read his commission to the assembled populace.
The centenary of this significant event was officially recognized
by the reading of a statement in the Legislative Assembly on
March 10, 1950, by the Honourable the Premier, Byron I.
Johnson. A special brochure was issued to the school-children
of the Province and radio broadcasts arranged.
As long ago as July, 1944, this Quarterly published an article
by Willard E. Ireland entitled " The Appointment of Richard
Blanshard." It was anticipated that shortly thereafter Blanshard's subsequent career would be published. The centenary
now affords an appropriate occasion to release this sequel. The
first instalment dealt with the circumstances leading up to the
selection, commissioning, and arrival at Vancouver Island of
Richard Blanshard. Dr. Lamb takes up the story at that
point—Blanshard, a young, inexperienced English barrister,
has assumed the governorship of a remote British colony, set
up under the segis of the Hudson's Bay Company, which was
then represented on the spot by one of its older and most
experienced officers, James Douglas.
It is probably significant that early in April, 1850, Douglas,
writing privately to Pelly, expressed the opinion that he was
better off without the governorship—a view with which Pelly
agreed.1 Even at that early date it was becoming evident that
Blanshard's position was and would not be a comfortable one.
Events were already tending to bring him into conflict with
Douglas. For example, there was the matter of the Governor's
official residence. Soon after Blanshard's appointment Barclay
had written to Douglas, informing him that a house would have
to be provided.2 Inevitably the letter was months on the way,
and it would appear that late in February, probably no more than
a fortnight before the Governor's arrival, construction had com-
(1) Pelly to Douglas, October 25, 1850   (private).    (Acknowledges a
letter from Douglas dated April 3, 1850.)    MS., Archives of B.C.
(2) Barclay to Douglas, August 3, 1849, MS., Archives of B.C.
British- Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
1 2 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
menced.3 As no temporary quarters were in readiness, Blanshard was compelled to remain on board H.M.S. Driver during
her stay in the colony. He accompanied her both when she
visited Nisqually and later when she steamed north to Fort
Rupert.4 When she finally left, Blanshard was given a room in
Fort Victoria.5 All this time progress on his dwelling had been
exasperatingly slow. In June he questioned Douglas officially
regarding the delay,6 and early in August sent him a letter which
included the following stinging paragraph:—
I find that three of the Kanakas and one of the workmen have been
withdrawn from my cottage, leaving one solitary man to carry on work
that has already been loitered over for more than five months. I beg to
state that you are at liberty to withdraw him also, as the labour of a single
man is a mere mockery and I will consider such withdrawal as proof of the
inability or unwillingness of the Hudsons bay Company to furnish me with
Douglas, in his turn, dealt with the matter at some length in
his report to Archibald Barclay:—
I herewith transmit copies of a correspondence with Governor Blanshard
relative to the dwelling house I was directed to put up for him at this place.
We have done every thing in our power to forward the building; but
unfortunately it was impossible, with our limited means to keep pace with
his wishes; without altogether neglecting the Company's business and
making it a secondary object, or hiring Mechanics in the Columbia at the
enormous rates paid there for labour, and I did not feel at liberty to adopt
either of these expedients.
The Governors complaints were excessively mortifying and have given
me more pain than I can describe.
(3) An entry in the Fort Victoria Journal preserved in the Archives of
the Hudson's Bay Company, London, England, under date February 27,
1850, reads: ". . . people employed as usual except Thomas from the
steamer, who was employed with two Indians building the Governor's house."
While this appears to be the first reference to this work in the Journal, it
should be noted that it does not state that this was the first work done.
(4) Blanshard to Grey, April 8, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. From the
Fort Victoria Journal it is clear that the Driver returned from Nisqually
on March 23 and sailed the next day for Fort Rupert, returning to Fort
Victoria on April 3.
(5) Blanshard landed, with his luggage from the Driver, to reside ashore
on April 7, and on the 9th the ship sailed for San Francisco. Fort Victoria
(6) Blanshard to Douglas, June 26, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(7) Ibid., August 5, 1850. 1950 Richard Blanshard 3
You will observe by his letter of the Sth August that he speaks of only
one man being employed at the " Cottage " while my reply of the same date
shows that no fewer than ten workmen were then actually employed about it.
I have no wish however to indulge in complaints at the expense of Mr.
Blanshard, for that would be unjust as with the exception of his letters,
I never heard him, make an unpleasant remark.
The house is now nearly finished and he will soon move into it; so
that there will be an end of trouble, from that source. The size of the
Governors House is 40x20 ft, with a kitchen 18x12 feet attached and a
house 24 x 18 for his servants. The house is ceiled and painted inside. It has
a neat appearance and is on the whole the best finished building in Oregon.
I beg to recommend in the event of any other public buildings being
contemplated, that Mechanics may be sent out to erect and finish them, as
we have not a single house carpenter or Joiner at this place, our own work
being done by the rude self taught carpenters of the country, who are not
capable of turning out a neat job.8
The cost of the completed residence and premises was
$1,548.55. As it was built on " Fur Trade land " it was not
charged to the colony.9 Later Blanshard himself built an addition
to the house, and before he left Vancouver Island, Douglas paid
him $634.90 in settlement for " all improvements " he had made.10
The whole episode may seem petty, but it is also revealing.
It illustrates Blanshard's understandable impatience and disappointment, and his reluctance to accept the simple and even rude
standards of life in the colony. It was all so different from what
he had expected! Douglas, on the other hand, looms up as a
formidable figure—not unfriendly or unsympathetic, but merely
the cautious guardian of the company's interest.
There is no reason to believe that Douglas exaggerated difficulties when he reported to Barclay. In 1852 Dr. Helmcken
built a modest dwelling in Victoria, and the account of the problems and delays which arose are set forth in his reminiscences.
By that date Douglas had become Governor and Helmcken was
about to marry his daughter, but he seems to have been able to
do little to hasten the construction of a house, even for his
prospective son-in-law. In the end, the wedding took place before
the building was completed, and Helmcken and his bride lived for
some months in Blanshard's former residence.    Writing in 1892
(8) Douglas to Barclay, September 10, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(9) Ibid., January 29, 1851.
(10) Ibid., August 30, 1851. 4 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Helmcken recalled that it was " at the corner of Yates St. [and
Government Street] ... a four room building on about four
lots; faced with plained shingles. It was comfortable but not
commodious, in the present sense of the term."11
Another matter which caused trouble between Blanshard and
Douglas was the promised grant to the Governor of 1,000 acres
of land. In 1857 Blanshard stated that he had been given to
understand, before he left for Vancouver Island, that this property was intended for him personally. He was positive on the
point " because," as he recalled, " Sir John Pelly had told me
that I might select such portions of land as I thought would turn
out valuable, and that they would sell advantageously."12 Whatever Pelly may have intended, the instructions sent to Douglas
within a month of Blanshard's appointment explicitly ruled out
this interpretation:—
The Governor is to have a grant of land to the extent of 1000 Acres, as
he may require it. This grant is not made to him as an individual but in
his public capacity and will always belong to the Governor for the time
being. You and he together will select some eligible spot not included jn
what may have been set apart for the fur trade or Puget Sound Company.*3
Blanshard's anger and disappointment when he arrived and
was refused title to his 1,000 acres may be imagined. Inevitably
Douglas bore the brunt of his displeasure. Moreover, he held
to his view-point as long as he remained in the colony, and as he
declined to occupy or improve the property, the " Governor's
Public Reserve " was not even laid out.14 Shortly before his
departure he " claimed 100 acres of those 1,000 acres," to use
his own words, at Metchosin, for the benefit of a servant who
wished to remain in the country.
" Mr. Douglas," Blanshard continues, " who was the agent for the land
there, nominally evaded giving me any kind of title to it, and said that
I should get it more easily settled in England. The Hudson's Bay Company
declined to make it over to me, and said that those 1,000 acres of land were
merely intended for the Governor for the time being."1^
(11) John  Sebastian  Helmcken, Reminiscences,  vol.  iii,  p.  40;   MS-,
Archives of B.C.
(12) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 288.
(13) Barclay to Douglas, August 3, 1849, M.S., Archives of B.C.
(14) Douglas to Barclay, January 28, 1852, M.S., Archives of B.C.
(15) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 288. 1950 Richard Blanshard 5
In view of his instructions, and the land regulations by which
he was bound, Douglas could only act as he did. He reported to
London that no payment had been received for the 100 acres,
but that he was reserving the land for Blanshard, pending a
decision by the company.16
A third matter which caused irritation was much more
directly Douglas's responsibility. For practical purposes the
Hudson's Bay Company was the only source of supplies in Vancouver Island. The price-scale at which an individual could
purchase goods depended upon his relationship to the company.
For this purpose Blanshard was considered completely independent, and was therefore charged the highest tariff. In 1850 this
tariff was very high indeed, as it was based upon the peak prices
prevailing during the gold-rush in California. The consequence
was that Blanshard found the cost of living ruinous, and it would
seem that Douglas and the company might well have made -a
generous concession under the circumstances.
The delay in completing his house, the loss of his lands, and
the high cost of living were, after all, personal matters. As a
public official Blanshard was faced with the more serious consideration that there was scarcely any colony for him to govern.
In March, 1850, Captain W. Colquhoun Grant and his eight men
were the only genuinely independent settlers on Vancouver Island.
Everyone else was connected in some way with the Hudson's
Bay Company or its satellite, the Puget Sound Agricultural
Company. Nor was there any immediate prospect that this state
of affairs would change. True, the Norman Morison had eighty
immigrants on board when she arrived on March 24, but every
man amongst them was either a servant or a settler-servant
bound to one or other of the companies.
Faced with this situation, Blanshard judged it best to conduct
the government of the Colony single-handed, and so reported
early in April to the Colonial Secretary:—
As no settlers have at present arrived, I have considered it is unnecessary
as yet to nominate a Council, as my instructions direct; for a Council chosen
at present must be composed entirely of the officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company . . . and they would moreover be completely under the control
of their superior officers   .   .   .17
(16) Douglas to Barclay, August 30, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(17) Blanshard to Grey, April 8, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. 6 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Years later, in the course of the Hudson's Bay inquiry, Roebuck addressed to Blanshard a question which at this point naturally comes to mind: " Would any great mischief have happened
if there had been no Governor at all?" To which Blanshard
replied: "There would have been a great deal of quarrelling;
it was necessary that somebody should be at the head; that there
should be some kind of law on the island, and to enforce it."18
This statement would appear to sum up in a sentence Blanshard's mission, as he understood it, and as he endeavoured to
carry it out in 1850-1851. To the best of his ability he would
settle disputes and check injustices, even though they might arise
within the service of the company.
On July 28,1849, the British Parliament had passed An Act
to Provide for the Administration of Justice in Vancouver's
Island. Blanshard was informed that this Statute, together with
his commission and instructions, gave him " power for the
present to make such provisions as you may consider most advisable both for the apprehension of offenders & the trial of
prisoners & the conduct of Civil cases. . . ."19 We know that
he was supplied with law books to the value of some £51,20 and
with this simple equipment, plus his legal training, he proceeded
to administer justice in the Island. When asked in 1857 how it
was done, he answered: " I did it all myself; I had no means of
paying a recorder a salary; there were no colonial funds.
.   .   .   when I wanted a constable, I swore one in."21   •
The early legal records that have survived are scanty, but
one gains the impression that Blanshard was more active than is
usually thought. A realization may even have spread abroad
that something that stood higher than the company was represented in the land. This is not to deny that at times the stage
resembled that of a comic opera, for Blanshard's conduct was
sometimes sufficiently out of harmony with his surroundings to
be slightly ridiculous.    Helmcken recalls one such occasion:—
(18) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 290.
(19) Grey to Blanshard, September 15, 1849.    CO. 805, v. 2.    Transcript, Archives of B.C.
(20  Return  .   .   .  relating to Vancouver's Island, London, 1852, p. 3.
(21) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 290. 1950 Richard Blanshard 7
. . . Once the men became riotous—drunk probably—there were no
police—but Blanshard I think got some special constables and I saw him
walking his verandah with sword at his said [side], vowing that he would
have peace and be very severe on those who broke it. I am not aware that
any one was brought before him. At this time the Government Street
bastion was supposed to be the prison, but it was tenantless—and had no
A few miscellaneous papers relating to Blanshard's activities
have been preserved. These include the report of what was
probably the first formal inquest held on Vancouver Island. One
William Gillespie, a labourer, was found drowned on May 12,
1850. The next day a jury of twelve, of which Roderick Finlayson was foreman, returned the verdict: "Accidental Death,
owing to the deceased being in a state of intoxication." Douglas
was amongst those who gave evidence.28
, Soon after this Blanshard received an appeal from Captain
Hinderwell of the British ship Albion, which had been seized off
New Dungeness for felling trees in American territory without
authority.24   Blanshard replied as follows, in June:—
You must be aware that it is beyond my jurisdiction so that I cannot
interfere in the matter. Your supercargo Mr. Brotchie is I am informed
well acquainted with the North West Coast of America, and consequently
could not have been ignorant that you were trespassing on the United States
territory nor that the U.S. Customs laws have been extended to Oregon
The objection was well taken, for Captain Brotchie had in fact
made several voyages to the coast in the service of the Hudson's
Bay Company.
Later in the same month Blanshard was called upon to determine the seaworthiness of the barque Cowlitz, which had touched
shore several times between Victoria and Fort Rupert. The
Governor appointed a committee to investigate, consisting of
three ship masters and two shipwrights.    It found that the
(22) Helmcken's Reminiscences, vol. iii, p. 75, MS., Archives of B.C.
(23) The original report, dated May 13, 1850, is in the Archives of B.C.
(24) Hinderwell to Blanshard, May 21, 1850, M.S., Archives of B.C.
(25) Blanshard to Hinderwell, June 15, 1850. Letterbook copy in
Archives of B.C. (For the full story of the Albion, see W. Kaye Lamb,
" Early Lumbering on Vancouver Island," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly, II (1938), pp. 33-34.) 8 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
damage was slight, and that the vessel could travel safely to the
Sandwich Islands for repairs.26
The Hudson's Bay Company had undertaken to supply coal
to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and in the spring of
1849 Fort Rupert was constructed on Beaver Harbour, at the
north end of Vancouver Island, near which outcroppings of coal
had been discovered. At first Indians were employed to gather
coal from the surface deposits, but in September a small party
of Scottish miners arrived, headed by John Muir, and underground operations commenced.
Even before the miners arrived, the new post had had its
share of stress and strain. The Indians in the region were
numerous and frequently troublesome. Cases of theft were
common, and the men were apprehensive of attack. The district
happened to be a cross-roads of native traffic, and the Indians
were often in a state of turmoil owing to the arrival of visiting
or marauding tribes. The men the company had been able to
muster for the new post seem to have been an unhealthy and
unsavoury lot; on one occasion the harassed officer who kept
Fort Rupert's official journal wrote: " such a miserable set of
devils I firmly believe were never before congregated . . ,"27
When the miners arrived, things went from bad to worse.
Nominally they were under the control of John Muir, and all the
company's dealings were supposed to be with him, and not with
the miners individually. But Muir often could not enforce
discipline, possibly because the little party included four of his
own sons, who do not seem to have stood in any awe of him.
Indeed, one of the four, Andrew Muir, soon became the leader
of the malcontents. Housing and working conditions, which they
did not consider came up to the standards promised in their
agreements, were the basic causes of complaint, but the weather,
difficulties met with in sinking a shaft, and fear of the Indians
were all added reasons for discontent.
In the spring of 1850 matters worked up gradually to a crisis.
Entries in the post journal make it so clear that trouble was
brewing that it is difficult to see how Chief Factor John Work,
(26) Blanshard to Douglas (agent for the Cowlitz), June 22, 1850, MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(27) Fort Rupert Journal, September 4, 1849, H.B.C. Arch., B185/a. 1950 Richard Blanshard 9
who spent a few days at Fort Rupert in March, could possibly
have gained the impression that " all was going well and the
Miners apparently in high spirits. . . ."28 On March 27 Blanshard himself arrived in H.M.S. Driver29 and was greeted by
Captain W. H. McNeill, the officer in charge. Both McNeill and
Douglas felt afterwards that the Governor increased the discontent amongst the miners, and Douglas so stated in a private
letter to Simpson.
The Governor is, I fear, not blameless in the defection of the Miners.
McNeill told me he was over familiar with them, last spring at Fort Rupert,
and supported all their demands. Calling at Muir's House and remaining
two hours there in secret confab with the Miners, was neither decorous, in
a person of his rank, nor doing justice to the Company, yet McNeill says
he did so.3°
For his part, Blanshard reported to the Colonial Office that " the
miners are unprovided with proper implements, discontented
with their imployers, and can scarcely be induced to work."81
The Driver spent three days at Fort Rupert, and took aboard
87 tons of coal, which the Hudson's Bay Company gave to her
free of charge in return for the coal she had expended when, at
Douglas's request, she had gone to Fort Nisqually and brought
cattle and sheep to Fort Victoria. The Driver sailed on the 30th,
bound for Victoria by way of Nootka, and Blanshard was duly
honoured with a seventeen-gun salute from the fort as she left
the harbour. Here, as elsewhere, Captain Johnson won the
regard of those whom he visited. The Fort Journal reads:
" Cap. Johnson is a nice man and uncommonly kind and rendered us a great deal of service by coming here, the appearance
of a vessel of war has a good effect on the Indians."82
On April 9 Captain McNeill left in the Beaver for Fort Victoria, leaving a young clerk, George Blenkinsop, in charge, with
one Beardmore as his assistant. With McNeill's departure,,
tension at Fort Rupert increased sharply;   Indians, labourers,
(28) John Work to Donald Ross, November 27, 1850, MS., Archives of
(29) Fort Rupert Journal, March 27, 1850.
(30) Douglas to  Simpson,  October 15, 1850  (private), H.B.C.  Arch.,
(31) Blanshard to Grey, April 8, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(32) Fort Rupert Journal, March 30, 1850. 10 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
and miners all alike became more troublesome. The natives
demanded payment for land; thievery became bolder and more
serious. The miners insisted that a stockade for their protection
be built around the workings, which were at some distance from
the fort. They first staged what would now be termed a slowdown, and then stopped work entirely. On April 18 things had
already reached such a pass that Blenkinsop hustled off dispatches
to Victoria in a canoe, in order to secure the advice and support
of the company authorities there.83 In the Fort Journal, which
unfortunately has been lost except for a single volume that
concludes on April 27, 1850, Andrew Muir emerges as the
spokesman of the miners and a bold critic of the company.
An echo of Chartism is heard when the Journal records that
young Andrew declared that " Revolution was approaching, the
Company's day was gone by and that men were beginning to
hold their heads up &c. &c. and a lot of other rebellious
language.   .   .   ."34
This situation moved Blenkinsop to vigorous but imprudent
action. Two of the miners (Andrew Muir being one) were
locked up on May 3, and were kept in irons and fed on bread and
water for six days. Four others were imprisoned for two days.86
Thereafter all six were released, but they were kept within
pickets. Andrew Muir later brought charges against Blenkinsop
and others for illegal imprisonment from May 3 to as late as
June 15.86
Little or nothing can be said in support of Blenkinsop's
conduct. It called forth a stern rebuke from no less a person
than Sir John Pelly, who insisted that the special status of the
miners should have been respected, no matter what happened.
Writing privately to Douglas, Pelly said:—
I can hardly conceive anything these men can have done that should require
Such Severe Measures as putting them in Irons except they had been guilty
(33) Ibid., April 18, 1850.
(34) Ibid., April 26, 1850.
(35) Helmcken to Blanshard, July 2, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. " This
is one of two lengthy reports in which Helmcken dealt with events at Fort
Rupert in detail. They incorporate extracts from Helmcken's diary, copies
of his letters, etc.
(36) Ibid.; also Andrew Muir to Blanshard, April 29, 1851, enclosed
in Blanshard to Grey, June 10, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 11
of Felony it is such a bad example to the Natives nor can I conceive what
Mr. Blenkinsop could have to do with the Men at all. He ought to have
considered them as a Gang entirely under Mr. Muir & only through him to
have had any communication with them at all.37
The miners and others involved in the Fort Rupert troubles
appealed to Blanshard, who responded by appointing Dr. Helmcken Magistrate for the district, subject to the Queen's
approval, and instructing him to deal with the disputes which
had arisen. His reasons for choosing Helmcken, as set forth in
a dispatch to London, are revealing:—
. . . This is the only appointment I have yet made in the Colony, for as
there are no independent settlers, all cases that can occur, requiring
magisterial interference, are disputes, between the representatives of the
Hudson's Bay Company and their servants. To appoint the former Magistrates, would be to make them Judges in their own causes, and to arm them
with additional power, which few of them would exert discretely. Mr.
Helmcken has only recently arrived in the Colony from England, he is therefore a. stranger to the petty brawls that have occurred, and the ill feelings
they have occasioned between the Hudson's Bay Company and their servants ; from this and from my knowledge of his character I have great confidence in his impartiality, his situation too as Surgeon renders him more
free from the influence which might be exercised over another servant of
that Company.38
The letter of appointment was dated June 22, 1850. It was
accompanied by a private note expressing the Governor's confidence that Helmcken would not " shrink from the trouble of the
office, though . . . the honor is likely for the present to be the
only reward." Blanshard then pointed out certain legal aspects
of Blenkinsop's alleged actions, for Helmcken's guidance, and
advised him to bind over both parties in a dispute to keep the
peace, a course which " cools the blood and discourages litigation."39
The commission reached Helmcken, who was already at Fort
Rupert, on June 27, and the same evening he read it publicly in
the court-yard of the post. The next morning he asked for
volunteers to act as special constables, but none appeared, and
he was compelled to conduct the business of his office unassisted.
(37) Pelly to Douglas, October 25, 1850 (private), MS., Archives of B.C.
(38) Blanshard to Grey, July 10, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(39) Blanshard to Helmcken, June 22, 1850 (private), MS., Archives of
B.C. 12 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
The first case heard concerned eight Kanakas, whose contracts
were about to expire, and who wished to leave at once for
California (where the gold excitement was intense) instead of
returning to the Sandwich Islands, as their agreements required.
As some essential documents were lacking, Helmcken was unable
to deal with the matter. On June 29 he heard the miners'
charges, but the absence of McNeill and others prevented him
from taking any action. A few days later, not having received
any satisfaction, some of the miners deserted the fort.40
By this time Helmcken had had enough of office and was
anxious to resign, but his troubles were only beginning. Lying
near Fort Rupert was the barque England, awaiting a cargo of
coal. Presently Helmcken heard that there were on board her
several deserters from the Hudson's Bay vessel Norman Morison.
Though the captain admitted their presence, a search of the ship
failed to reveal them, and it became evident that they had escaped
ashore. On July 8 a report came in that three white men had
been murdered by the Indians. This was confirmed the next day.
At first Helmcken believed it was the miners that had been
attacked, but the victims proved to be three of the Norman
Morison's deserters. On the 11th Beardmore, Blenkinsop's
assistant, volunteered to go and investigate. He learned that one
of the bodies had been weighted and thrown into the sea, but
found and hid the other two. These Helmcken later brought to
Fort Rupert, where they were buried on July 16.41
In the course of his travels Beardmore had actually learned
all about the murders, but for some reason he chose to give
Helmcken a completely false report. Instead of telling him that
they had been committed by the Newitty Indians, he concocted
a complicated tale that implied that maurauders from the north
had been responsible. Why he did this is not clear; presumably
he conceived that he was doing his chief and the company a service by befuddling the Magistrate. Be this as it may, his
dishonesty was to have unfortunate consequences.
Helmcken found the evidence unconvincing, but naturally
blamed the Indians instead of Beardmore.   He was greatly per-
(40) See Helmcken's report to Blanshard, July 2, 1850, and supplement,
MS., Archives of B.C.
(41) See Helmcken's second report to Blanshard, dated July 17, 1850,
MS., Archives of B.C.  Royal Commission appointing Richard Blanshard Governor of Vancouver Island,
dated July 16,1849. 1950 Richard Blanshard 13
turbed by the whole affair, and sent a long report and appeal to
Blanshard, in which he summarized his predicament as follows :—
Blankets have been offered for the missing body, and apprehension of the
murderer or murderers, and if these be discovered, we cannot go to war,
because the distance is great and our men too few to protect the Fort and
fight also, even if they were willing so to do. Nevertheless something must
be done and I should be glad if Your Excellency would come as soon as possible ; because if we make no demonstration the Indians will lose all respect
for us and may make an attack upon our fort, particularly as they well know
also that the men here are in great disaffection, and whom they despise.*2
In due course this report, accompanied by a great variety of
rumours and accusations emanating from the miners, Kanakas,
and others, reached the Governor in Victoria. In reply he wrote
Helmcken a long private letter on August 6, in which he discussed
the situation with sound common sense. He explained first why
he was not leaving at once for Fort Rupert:—
I should have come to your assistance before this had I been able to bring
any means of enforcing my authority, but I know that though " the Queens
name is a tower of strength " it is only so when backed by the Queens
bayonets, and as my visiting Fort Rupert is the only remaining threat that
can be held out to the disaffected, I do not think it judicious to weaken its
effect by coming alone, which could only end in bringing all authority into
contempt. I have been expecting a ship of war on the coast and have sent
dispatches to San Francisco and down the coast to hasten her arrival, as
soon as she comes I will put matters on a proper footing at Fort Rupert. . . .
Next, Blanshard pointed out how foolish and melodramatic the
conduct of Blenkinsop and others had been, and urged Helmcken
to calm the atmosphere as much as he could:—
All that is said about desertion and mutiny is utter nonsense, and the people
know it, they are offences that can only be committed under the articles of
war, and in some instances under ships articles. . . . Above all pray try
and impress in the officers the necessity of using calm, temperate language
at all times, the silly threats of shooting mutineers and hanging and flogging
deserters, form very plausible grounds for complaint and may lead to serious
To assist Helmcken, he sent him a proclamation, to be affixed to
the fort gate, which provided that " no person or persons shall
for the present leave Fort Rupert further than their daily
(42) Ibid.
(43) Blanshard to Helmcken, August 6, 1850  (private), MS., Archives
of B.C. 14 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
avocations shall require without a pass under the hand and seal
of the resident magistrate, which will only be granted in cases
of urgent necessity  .   .   ."44
Regarding the murders, Blanshard's advice was simple:—
With respect to the Massacre there is no use making any stir till we have
sufficient force, if any information comes in your way receive it but keep it
quiet   .   .   .
Finally, he regretted that he had placed Helmcken " on such
a bed of thorns," but insisted that he must carry on as Magistrate
for the present.46
It was at this point that Beardmore's dishonest report to
Helmcken once again exercised an unhappy influence. If
Helmcken had been able to report that he knew definitely that
the Newitty had committed the murders, all might have been
well. Instead, he had been able to send the Governor only a few
surmises of his own and the concoction of tales that Beardmore
had served up to him. This left the Governor's mind receptive
to suspicions and charges against the Hudson's Bay Company,
and many of these were circulating freely in Victoria. The
result can be traced in the dispatch to the Colonial Office dated
August 18, 1850, in which Blanshard all but lends credence to
the most damaging of the rumours. He reports that many of the
white inhabitants in the colony:—
... do not scruple to accuse the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company of
having instigated the Indians to the deed by offers of reward for the recovery
of the men (sailors, who had absconded) dead or alive. I have not yet been
able to inquire into the truth of this report, but it is very widely spread, and
men say that they ground their belief on what the Hudson's Bay Company
have done before.
The same day Blanshard wrote this dispatch, Chief Factor
John Work arrived at Fort Rupert from Victoria with the
Governor's letter and the enclosed proclamation for Helmcken.
Two days later Begrdmore went to Helmcken and told him the
true details of the massacre, including the names of the murderers, who were all members of the Newitty tribe.   His only
(44) The  original   proclamation,   dated   August   12,   1850,   is   in   the
Archives of B.C.
(45) Blanshard to Helmcken, August 6, 1850. 1950 Richard Blanshard 15
excuse for his former action was that he had wished to tell the
story first personally to Douglas or to Blanshard.46
To add to the misfortune, the Governor heard nothing of this
for several weeks. On September 18 he reported to London that
all communication with Fort Rupert was cut off, and that he was
still waiting for a warship to arrive. He urged " the necessity
of protecting this Colony by a garrison of regular troops," some
of which " would be stationed at Fort Rupert, and the remainder
near Victoria   .   .   ."47
On the 22nd H.M.S. Daedalous finally appeared. She was
a corvette of 1,082 tons, commanded by Captain George Greville
Wellesley. He agreed to convey Blanshard to Fort Rupert, and
the Daedalous evidently arrived there in the first days of October.
He found that the " civil disturbances " had subsided, and that
Helmcken had not found it necessary to publish the proclamation
sent to him; but the matter of the three murders was still outstanding. The Governor at once took charge, and on October 9
wrote Dr. Helmcken a formal letter instructing him to hold
a parley with the Newitty Indians, and authorizing him " to offer
a reward of twenty blankets for the apprehension of each of the
murderers payable so soon as he shall be identified by name and
committed for trial . . ,"48 Helmcken went to the Newitty
camp as directed, but when he arrived, as Blanshard later
The whole tribe took up arms; they acknowledged the murder, and offered
furs in payment, but refused to surrender the guilty parties, declared themselves hostile, and threatened the lives of the Magistrate and. his party,
pointing their guns at them.4^
Blanshard thereupon applied to Captain Wellesley for assistance,
and on the 12th three armed boats were sent to the Newitty camp
to secure the murderers. The camp was found to be deserted,
and the lieutenant in charge had to content himself with burning
" the houses and all the property he could find." By this time the
Daedalous was running short of provisions, and on the 14th she
was obliged to sail for San Francisco.60
(46) Helmcken's Fort Rupert diary, MS., Archives of B.C.
(47) Blanshard to Grey, September 18, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(48) Blanshard to Helmcken, October 9, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(49) Blanshard to Grey, October 19, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(50) Ibid.
2 16 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Though Blanshard remained behind at Fort Rupert, no
further operations against the Indians were undertaken at this
time. The last document on the case is the dispatch to the
Colonial Office written by Blanshard on October 19. In addition
to a narrative of the proceedings, it includes the following
I found that the officer of the Hudson's Bay Company [Beardmore] who had
been dispatched by Dr. Helmcken to make enquiries respecting the murder
had on his return given a totally false account of the result of those
enquiries, asserting that he owed no obedience except to the Hudson's Bay
Company. He shortly afterwards crossed the strait to a post of the Company's, and made a declaration of the real facts to Mr. Douglas, a Chief
Factor of the Company. Of this statement I was not furnished with a copy
till after my arrival here, a few days ago, and not till the investigation was
concluded. Thus two conflicting stories were in circulation at once, which,
being traced to the same source, raised suspicions of foul play, and caused
the report that I have previously mentioned, viz: that the unfortunate men
had been murdered by order of the Hudson's Bay Company."
Parts of the story still remain a matter of speculation. Did
Beardmore tell the true story to Helmcken because Douglas told
him he must, and sent him back forthwith to Fort Rupert?
Or—as seems probable—did Blanshard write Douglas's name in
error, and was it Chief Factor John Work, then stationed at Fort
Simpson, who first heard the truth ? Be that as it may, Blanshard
was convinced that Beardmore had placed loyalty to the company
above loyalty to the Queen, and that fact was of the greatest
importance in the psychology of the Governor of a colony as
closely knit to the company as was Vancouver Island.
As for the action taken against the Indian murderers, it
seems clear to-day that Blanshard, and to a lesser extent
Helmcken, were seeking to put into force the white man's law
in what still remained a red man's country. Helmcken himself
added a last word on the matter forty-two years after the
murders occurred. Looking back on the episode in 1892 he
It shows too how quarrels were settled Indian fashion by payment of damages. This Indian idea of law—and indeed it is their law—of payment
applies even to persons killed, as shown too by their offer to pay for the
murdered men at Newittie. This Indian law was often acted on at Fort
Rupert and suited very well.    None other would or could have been put in
(51) Ibid. 1950 Richard Blanshard 17
force.    Douglas perhaps might have landed and seized the Indian here at
Newitte—but I do not believe even he would have tried.62
The Fort Rupert affair—of which we shall hear more later—
was the most exciting event which occurred during the Blanshard
regime. But much more important was the failure of the colony
to develop as Blanshard and others had expected.
There was general agreement that the Island was suitable for
such a venture. " From all accounts which we heard of it," the
Honourable Edward Ellice stated in 1857, " it is a kind of England attached to the continent of America."63 Blanshard himself
considered that the country " was very well adapted for an
English settlement."64 Yet, when Blanshard arrived, Captain
Grant was the only independent settler in the colony, and he
remained the only one for some time. In June, 1850, Blanshard
reported dolefully to the Colonial Office that " no settlers or
immigrants have arrived, nor have any land sales been effected."66
In October he stated that there were then " no settlers at all in
the Island: Mr. Grant left for the Sandwich Islands some days
ago."66 As for the servant-settlers brought out by the Hudson's
Bay Company itself, we know that a total of 187 men, 35 women,
and 33 children, in all 255 persons, had arrived up to the time of
Blanshard's departure in September, 1851. Another thirty
landed shortly after he had left.67
(52) Reminiscences, vol. iii, p. 92, MS., Archives of B.C. Bancroft, in
his History of British Columbia, pp. 273-275, gives an account of the Fort
Rupert troubles in which he repeats and supports the charge that Blenkinsop
sent Indians in pursuit of the sailors with orders to bring them back dead or
alive. " The sailors," he adds, " had been shot down in the forest by savages
set upon them by an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company." We know
to-day that Bancroft based his account upon a narrative by Michael Muir,
dictated in 1878, now in the Bancroft Library at the University of California
(photostat in Archives of B.C.). Helmcken's notes, written day by day
when the events actually occurred, show beyond any doubt that the charge
was false. Bancroft's History was published in 1887, and in 1892 Helmcken
wrote bluntly in his Reminiscences (vol. iii, p. 14) :   " Bancroft tells lies."
(53) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 335.
(54) Ibid., p. 286.
(55) Blanshard to Grey, June 15, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(56) Blanshard to Grey, October 19, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(57) Return made since 18i9 by the Hudson's Bay Company . . .
relating to Vancouver's Island, London, 1852, p. 2. 18 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
It is usual to lay the entire blame for this state of affairs—as
did Blanshard—at the door of the Hudson's Bay Company. The
argument is that fur-trading and colonization were incompatible;
that anything in the nature of a colony must damage the fur
trade; that the company assumed control of the colony in order
to stifle it, and to prevent anyone else from making a success of it.
No doubt the question will remain controversial, but the
evidence is by no means as one-sided as this statement of the case
presupposes. Vancouver Island was not an important source of
furs. The company, as a result of its experience in Oregon, was
convinced that to establish a colony was the surest way to check
American encroachment, and there is nothing to indicate that it
considered a mere token settlement would suffice. Finally, it can
hardly be a coincidence that the archives of the company, which
include many private and personal letters, record no expressions
of satisfaction that the enterprise was a failure. The intentions
of the governor and committee seem to have been of the best;
it was their management which was at fault.
From the first the project was hampered by the pound per
acre which was charged for land, and by the conditions which
were attached to larger purchases. The price was much too high,
especially in view of the free land available in American territory, only a few miles away. For this the Colonial Office was to
blame. " Lord Grey insisted that the Company should not sell
land under a pound an acre."68 But for the conditions which
required a settler to take out with him one workman for every
20 acres purchased, the company itself was responsible. Above
all, the company, remembering Oregon, feared the land squatter,
and the land regulations seem to have been drawn up with his
exclusion specially in mind. In December, 1849, Barclay wrote
to Douglas:—
The Committee believes that some of the worst evils that afflict Colonies
have arisen from the admission of persons of all descriptions, no regard
being had to the character, means, or views of the immigrants. They have
therefore established such conditions for the disposal of lands as they trust
will have the effect of introducing a just proportion of labour and capital,
and also of preventing the ingress of squatters, paupers, and land specu-
(58) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
334. 1950 Richard Blanshard 19
lators.    The principle of selection, without the invidiousness of its direct
application, is thus indirectly adopted.59
As early as December, 1848, Douglas had raised the question
of land terms in a letter to Pelly, who had replied as follows:—
You will see that your suggestion of giving each family a grant of 200
to 300 acres has not been adopted, nor can it be entertained. Men sent out
in that way would in all probability not bring their lands into cultivation,
or they might go away to the mining districts of California. The settlers
required for Vancouvers Island are men of small property, who cannot live
upon it in this country. If a man, a mechanic or farmer, has saved any
given sum, say £300, he will be able to purchase 100 Acres of land,—have
enough to pay for his land, and passage out for himself and five labourers
(the number of persons required for 100 acres to cultivate it) under contracts for 5 or 7 years, as the Hudson's Bay Company hire their servants,—
and to stock his farm: or if he has only enough to purchase 20 acres, (which,
if a mechanic, will be sufficient to feed him, and he may employ himself in
mechanics in which he is acquainted) he will have nobody to take out but
himself and wife.   The passage money will be made as easy as possible.60
In theory this was all very fine, but in practice it failed. For
one thing, Vancouver Island was too remote. Immigrants preferred lands which were better known and nearer at hand,
particularly the United States. It is too seldom realized that the
American immigration into Oregon was in great part a movement from what are now the middle-western States. It was but
the last step in a march across the continent. No similar beaten
path led the way to Vancouver Island. Quite as important, even
the Hudson's Bay Company itself could not answer many of the
questions which prospective settlers naturally asked. In particular it lacked maps, and was quite unable to give an exact
account of the location or character of the lands available.61 The
company quickly became aware of this deficiency, but unfortunately it took a year or more to correct. Writing to Douglas as
early as February, 1850, before Blanshard had even set foot on
Vancouver Island, Barclay confessed that:—
(59) Barclay to Douglas, December, 1849, MS., Archives of B.C.
(60) " Notes on Mr. Douglas's letter to Sir J. H. Pelly, Bart, dated 5th
December 1848." Apparently written in May or June, 1849. AfS., Archives
of B.C.
(61) Blanshard complained that even at Fort Victoria information
about lands, etc., was difficult to secure. See Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company, p. 287. 20 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Until a more minute examination, and a map and plan of the country round
Fort Victoria is made and sent home, it is not likely that many settlers will
be offering who can pay £1 p acre, (and none other will be accepted,)   .   .   .62
The following December he remarked in a private letter:—
A regular surveyor or even two should have been despatched in the first
instance to ascertain the capabilities of the Island and if these should have
proved inviting a number of settlers able to protect themselves would have
soon followed.
Thinking of the Fort Rupert trouble, which had received considerable publicity in the British press, he added: " Now the
prospect, from here at least, looks gloomier than ever."63
One other important factor must be taken into account—the
California gold-rush. Blanshard questioned its influence,64 but
contemporary records do not bear out his opinion. Thus in
March, 1850, Douglas remarked in a letter to A. C. Anderson:—
The California excitement continues as strong as ever in this quarter, to
the great injury of the country. The benefit derived from the gold discovery
is confined to the few, the detriment to the million.66
In June Blanshard himself was upset by reports of a rich strike
nearer at hand, on the Spokane River.
" Should the favorable accounts of these mines prove correct," he reported
to Lord Grey, " I fear that it will draw away all the Hudson's Bay Company's servants from Vancouver Island, and at present they form the entire
Even as it was, the company's service was much demoralized, and
desertions were numerous. Indeed, much of the trouble which
arose during Blanshard's governorship can be traced to this
cause. The Kanakas at Fort Rupert, who wished to break the
terms of their agreements, wished to do so in order to go to
California. The deserters from the Norman Morison were trying to get away and join the gold-rush. The state of affairs at
Fort Simpson is recorded in a personal letter from John Work
to Donald Ross, written in November:—
(62) Barclay to Douglas, February 8, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(63) Barclay to Douglas, December 27, 1850  (private), MS., Archives
of B.C.
(64) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
pp. 288-289.
(65) Douglas to A. C. Anderson, March 18, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C.
(66) Blanshard to Grey, June 15, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 21
The gold fever still rages unabated. You can scarcely imagine the effect
the excitement has upon the Men. We have had a strike here for the first
time this summer chiefly caused by three Kent men that were sent on here.
These Englishmen are the Worst subjects we have got yet. The rest of the
men are all brought round [though] not till I gave one of them a cudgeling.
The Kent men are still off duty living on bread and water for near three
months, rather than Work. It was in agitation among the men at one time
to go off in a body.   .   .   .67
Twice during his stay in Vancouver Island Blanshard was
able to make the more hopeful report that rich specimens of gold
ore had been secured from the Indians of the Queen Charlotte
Islands, but the very mild excitement these occasioned in no way
benefited the colony.68
It is interesting to find that opposition to the colony within
the company arose not in London, but amongst its chief traders
and chief factors. Many of them retained vivid memories of the
trouble and expense which the Red River venture had cost the
fur trade, and they had no desire to see the experience repeated.
Peter Skene Ogden wrote to Donald Ross:—
There appears to be some grand plans in London the Colony is at present
all the range [rage] if the Fur trade escapes we may consider ourselves
fortunate if we do not meet with a second edition of Red River you were
I believe one of those who agreed to that speculation and the heirs of Lord
Selkirk laugh at your expense now so I warn you to look sharps
In a private letter to Simpson, Ogden blamed the existing
derangement of affairs in the Columbia upon " that thrice cursed
Colony," Vancouver Island.70
For his part, Douglas could not see how he could possibly
provide any considerable number of settler-servants, let alone
independent settlers, with food, accommodation, and profitable
employment. Even before the Norman Morison arrived, in
March, 1850, he was much worried. " The anxiety and suspense
of this life, is torturing," he remarked to A. C. Anderson, " wealth
is truly no compensation, except it leaves one at liberty to seek
a change."71
(67) John Work to Donald Ross, November 27, 1850, M.S., Archives
of B.C.
(68) Blanshard  to  Grey,  August  18,   1850;    March  29,   1851;   MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(69) Ogden to Donald Ross, March 18, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C..
(70) Ogden  to  Simpson, January 27,  1851   (private),  H.B.C.  Arch.,
(71) Douglas to Anderson, March 18, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. 22 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Douglas wrote his fears to London, and in February, 1850,
Barclay replied, assuring him that:—
. . . care will be taken that you are not exposed to inconvenience by any
large number [of independent settlers] until there is time for you to accumulate and store up a sufficient store of provisions, which they may buy until
their own cultivation may render them independent of your stores.
But to Douglas's anxiety he added:—
In the meantime more people can be sent out as servants ... if required,
who may be employed by the Fur trade and Puget Sound Company in cultivating their lands.   .   .   .72
That Douglas's opinion of such requirements was a modest
one is shown by a later dispatch from Barclay:—
You seem to think that the number [of servant colonists] to be sent out this
year should be limited to ten; but in this opinion they [the Governor and
Committee] do not concur. You will have seen by my letter of the 5th ult.
that they have resolved to forward by the ship to sail in September eighty
persons—of whom perhaps sixty may be men fit for any kind of labour.   .   .   .
And as if to prove beyond any doubt that his London superiors
had no comprehension of local conditions and difficulties, Barclay
enclosed, by way of suggesting how the housing difficulty might
be met, an extract from a letter lately received in England from
Wooden houses here are all the go. You would be astonished to see the
immense quantities of wooden houses, and what splendid edifices are turned
out in wood. You can have a large wooden house put up in a single day;
they can build a city of them in a week, and comfortable strong houses too.^s
Somewhere on its journey f rom London to Victoria this letter
and extract must have passed the dispatch to Barclay which
Douglas wrote on September 10, 1850, in which he dealt with the
delay in completing Blanshard's residence, and noted that there
was not a single house carpenter or joiner in the colony.
For convenience it may be noted here that the vessel to which
Barclay referred was the Tory, which sailed from England late
in 1850. When she arrived at Victoria in June, 1851, Douglas
found that she had on board not 80, but no less than 130 passengers, and his feelings may be imagined. For his part,
Blanshard seized the occasion to berate the company and by
inference its local chief factor:—
(72) Barclay to Douglas, February 8, 1850, M.S., Archives of B.C.
(73) Ibid., August 16, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 23
The ship Tory has just landed about one hundred and twenty persons,
all with two exceptions, servants of the Hudson's Bay Company . . . No
preparations had been made here for their reception, beyond erecting a
couple of log houses or rather sheds; in these the remainder are huddled
together like cattle, as I have seen myself, to the number of thirty or thirty-
five in each shed.   .   .   ,74
At the time of Blanshard's appointment the company had
made it clear to Douglas that the Governor's sphere of action
would be a restricted one. His duties were to be " confined to
the administration of the civil government of the Colony and to
military affairs. . . ."75 So far as civil government was concerned, Blanshard had judged it best not even to appoint a Council, and the Fort Rupert affair had been the only occasion for
military activity. By contrast, Douglas, in his capacity as agent
for the company, was in complete control of land sales and public
works, while his positions as chief factor of the Hudson's Bay
Company and local manager for the Puget Sound Agricultural
Company gave him a firm grip on the whole economic life of the
Blanshard's position was anything but comfortable, and it
was perhaps inevitable that he should become an active opponent
of the company. Less than a month after the Governor's arrival,
Douglas was wondering if he had drawn some of his ideas from
the unfriendly publications of James Edward Fitzgerald.76 But
for a time all went reasonably well. As late as July, 1850,
Blanshard took pains to report to the Colonial Office that reports
of " barbarous treatment of the Indian population by the Hudson's Bay Company" were " entirely without foundation."77
Immediately thereafter, however, he became entangled in the
Fort Rupert affair, and from that time on his hostility to the
company never wavered.
It will be recalled that H.M.S. Daedalous left the Governor at
Fort Rupert in October, 1850. How and when he travelled back
to Victoria we do not know, but it is apparent that he returned
with his mind made up to leave the colony.    Eight months of
(74) Blanshard to Grey, June 10, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(75) Barclay to Douglas, August 3, 1849, MS., Archives of B.C.
(76) See Pelly to Douglas, October 25, 1850  (private), MS., Archives
of B.C.
(77) Blanshard to Grey, July 10, 1850, MS., Archives of B.C. 24 ' W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
disillusionment and unhappiness in Vancouver Island had been
enough. On November 18 he wrote two dispatches to Lord Grey.
In one he asked for permission to visit England. In the other he
tendered his resignation as Governor and requested an immediate
recall. The reasons given for both requests were the same: the
state of his health and the very great expense the office had
occasioned. •
Peter Skene Ogden remarked grimly in a letter a few weeks
later that Vancouver Island could " now boast of a Govfernor]
six months in the year in his bed and ten Colonists."78 His
description of the state of Blanshard's health does not seem to
have been exaggerated. The Governor himself reported to
. . . Since my arrival here I have suffered so severely from continual
attacks of ague and subsequent relapses that I am now enfeebled to a degree
which renders me incapable of the slightest exertion.^
My  health has  completely given way  .   .   .   and  shows  no  signs  of
Dr. Benson, formerly surgeon at Fort Victoria, had been
transferred to Fort Vancouver, and Blanshard was unable to
send a medical certificate. Instead, he sent a detailed description
of his condition to his father, who secured the opinion of two
London physicians. One declared that he was not only " labouring under the most severe form of intermittent fever," but was
" also evidently suffering severely from internal congestion &
other effects of ague, [such] as frequent faintings & breathless-
ness from slight exertion."81 Blanshard's condition at this time
was such that Dr. W. F. Tolmie was brought from Fort Nisqually
and remained in consultation at Fort Victoria for several weeks.82
(78) Ogden to Simpson, January 27, 1851 (private), H.B.C. Arch.,
(79) Blanshard to Grey, November 18, 1850 (dispatch no. 8), MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(80) Ibid., dispatch no. 9.
(81) Statement by S. J. Goodfellow, M.D., March 29, 1851. In CO. SOS,
vol. 2.    Transcript in Archives of B.C.
(82) The following entries from the Fort Nisqually Journal are pertinent: "... [November 19, 1850] In the morning Mr. De Shenie &
Mr. Ross arrived from Victoria bringing with them news of the sudden illness of Govr. Blanchard [st'c] as also to request Dr. Tolmie's immediate
attendance at Victoria, in accordance to which Dr. Tolmie accompanied by 1950 Richard Blanshard 25
About Christmas time, 1850, Dr. Helmcken returned to Victoria
to replace Benson. In his reminiscences he recalls the wretched
state of Blanshard's health, and its effect upon the character of
the man:—
. . . He had been in malarious countries—smoked a great deal and had to
take morphine for his attacks and so being in bad health was a pessimist
and blamed the condition of things, when in fact the drawback was in his
own health. Blanshard however was a gentleman—very agreeable to his
friends—of rather military carriage and military moustache. . . . Under
different conditions he would have been a very different man.83
Turning next to financial matters, Blanshard first complained
that the Hudson's Bay Company, contrary to his expectations
and to the promises of Sir John Pelly, had not met the entire cost
of his outward journey to Vancouver Island. He had received
only £175, whereas—owing, no doubt, to the long delay in the
arrival of H.M.S. Driver at Panama—the actual cost had been
about £300.84 Worse still, his private fortune was proving
" utterly insufficient for the mere cost of living here, so high
have prices been run up by the Hudson's Bay Company. . . ."86
Later he estimated his expenses at £1,100 per annum.86 He
advised Grey to appoint as his successor " some person . . .
whose larger fortune may enable him to defray charges which
involve me in certain ruin."87
Blanshard knew that a considerable period must pass before
a reply could arrive from London. As it turned out, nine of the
seventeen months he spent in Vancouver Island still lay ahead
at the time he wrote his letter of resignation.
Mrs. Tolmie & Mr. Ogilvie left forthwith to proceed to Victoria. . . .
[December 12, 1850] . . . arrived this evening Dr. & Mrs. Tolmie from
Victoria. Gov? Blanchard [sic] is slowly recovering his health." Victor J.
Farrar, " The Nisqually Journal," Washington Historical Quarterly, XII
(1921), pp. 146, 220.
(83) Helmcken's   Reminiscences,   vol.   iii,   pp.   37-38.   MS.,   Archives
of B.C.
(84) See  Blanshard to  Grey,  November  18,  1850   (dispatch no.  9);
Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company, p. 288.
(85) Blanshard to Grey, November 18, 1850   (dispatch no.  9), MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(86) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 288.
(87) Blanshard to  Grey,  November  18,  1850   (dispatch no.  9), MS.,
Archives of B.C. 26 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
They proved to be months of recurring friction between the
Governor and the Hudson's Bay Company. A serious difference
soon arose over the question of the company's land reserves
at and around Fort Victoria. In February, 1851, Blanshard
reported to Grey that Douglas was claiming " nearly thirty
square miles of the best part of the Island," and that he admitted
that the company had " no intention of paying for it."88 The
same month Douglas informed Simpson that Blanshard would
" do everything in his power to prevent a free grant being made
to use of the Reserve,"89 and in March he repeated the warning:—
The Governor is keeping a strict eye over the Reserves of Land, for the
Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Companies. He declares he will see they
pay for every acre taken. I do not know how far his power may extend; but
it is only proper to inform you of his intention as communicated to several
parties here, who gave me the information.9"
As a matter of fact, if Douglas ever claimed the 30 square
miles, he greatly exceeded both the rights and intentions of the
company. As early as August, 1849, Pelly had informed him
quite specifically that " the Fur Trade . . . have no interest
in the Island except in that portion of it which they were in
possession of before the Oregon Treaty. ..." Whatever
additional land might be required would be purchased at the
regular price of £1 per acre.91 In January, 1851, Barclay wrote
Douglas in similar terms, and added that the extent of the
reserve to be received free under the treaty " must be accurately
marked out and agreed with Governor Blanshard. . . ."92
Douglas countered by asking for instructions. He explained
that the fur-trade reserve, as originally chosen by himself in
1841, consisted of:—
.   .   .   rather over 20 square miles.    The extent, however, actually occupied
by tillage and inclosures, does not need two square miles, while the Cattle
ranged over an additional space of about 4 square miles.   .   .   .
Was he to claim the whole 20 or only the 6 square miles?98
(88) Ibid., February 3, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(89) Douglas to Simpson, February 24, 1851 (private), H.B.C. Arch.,
(90) Douglas to Simpson, March 27, 1851 (private), H.B.C. Arch.,
(91) Pelly to Douglas, August 4, 1849, MS., Archives of B.C.
(92) Barclay to Douglas, January 1, 1851. Quoted in Berens to Newcastle, June 20, 1860; see H.B. Co. Colonial Office papers, vol. 729, p. 23;
Transcript in Archives of B.C.
(93) Douglas to Barclay, April 16, 1851.   Ibid., p. 24. 1950 Richard Blanshard 27
The same month Blanshard complained that the reserves
served to " effectually prevent" settlement; that surveys were
essential, but that the company had " never even engaged a Surveyor."94 In this he, in his turn, was being less than fair. The
celebrated Captain Grant had represented himself as a qualified
surveyor, and had been engaged by the company in that capacity
before he left England in 1848.96 Indeed, he actually drew his
salary for one year, to the tune of £162.96 In May, 1850, he
commenced a survey of the company's lands, but it quickly
became apparent that he was quite incompetent, and the attempt
came to nothing.
Time brought the land-reserve controversy to an end, but
unfortunately the principal point in dispute was not settled until
shortly after Blanshard's departure. In July, 1851, Barclay
informed Douglas that the 6 square miles were to be the " utmost
extent of the land " to be given free to the fur trade.97 Later an
actual survey revealed that the area claimed contained only 3,084
acres, or less than 5 square miles, and this was duly deeded to
the company.98
Blanshard's one brief moment of satisfaction seems to have
come when he detected certain errors in the Colonial accounts,
which Douglas acknowledged and corrected, and the astute
analysis which accompanied his report of the incident probably
constituted his most damaging criticism of the company.
Expenditures, he pointed out, had consisted mostly of expenses
incurred in extinguishing the land titles of the Indian tribes
about Victoria and Sooke. These had been paid for in goods,
which Blanshard stated had been charged to the colony at three
times the price the company would have entered them in its own
(94) Blanshard to Grey, April 28, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(95) Grant to the Under-Secretary of State for Colonies, November 8,
1848;  Report of the Provincial Archives Department  .  .   .  1913, p. V68.
(96) Return made since 18i9  by  the  Hudson's Bay  Company   .   .   .
relating to Vancouver's Island, p. 3.
(97) Barclay to Douglas, July 16, 1851.   In Berens to Newcastle, June
26, 1860;  loc. cit, p. 24.
(98) Ibid., p. 25.
(99) Blanshard to Grey, February 12, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 28 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
These circumstances, no doubt, partly account for the distrust
and opposition with which Blanshard in April greeted a letter
from Archibald Barclay which might conceivably have marked
a turning-point in his fortunes in Vancouver Island. Written on
January 1, 1851, it informed Blanshard that the Hudson's Bay
Company and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company were both
to become purchasers of large tracts of land, and continued:—
. . . The Governor and Committee feel that they may to a moderate extent
anticipate the funds which will thus come into their hands in trust for the
Colonization and improvement of the Island. They have therefore determined to authorize Mr Douglas to make you advances to the extent of Four
thousand pounds as it may from time to time be required in erecting some
of the buildings most urgently required.
Barclay then proceeded to list the buildings which would probably be needed, which included " a moderate sized but respectable
house and premises " for the Governor himself.   He continued:—
The site of these buildings should be near the Fort Victoria for convenience and protection, and the materials should be stone as preferable to
wood to diminish the risk of fire.i°°
But Blanshard was not to be placated, and rejected the entire
project. In a dispatch to the Colonial Office he dealt at length
with the land-reserve problem, and contended that the huge
tract of land claimed by the company, and its failure to survey
its claims, made this or any other development unwise and
impracticable.101 At the same time he wrote a long and critical
letter to the Hudson's Bay Company in which he expressed the
opinion that the vicinity of Fort Victoria was not at all suitable
for a settlement, and recommended that the town should be
situated on the eastern side of Esquimalt Harbour.102
Both letters show ability and imagination, and it is interesting to speculate as to what might have occurred if Blanshard had
had the health and strength to remain in the Island for a longer
As it was, his sojourn was drawing to a close. Much of his
time was spent with a little group of malcontents, with whom he
had little or nothing in common except an antipathy for the
(100) Barclay <to Blanshard, January 1, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(101) Blanshard to Grey, April 28, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(102) Blanshard to the Hudson's Bay Company, London, April 20, 1851,
MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 29
Hudson's Bay Company. It included the Rev. Robert Staines,
the interesting but eccentric chaplain at Fort Victoria, and
Edward E. Langford, a somewhat ineffectual bailiff for the
Puget Sound Agricultural Company, to whom Blanshard was
distantly related.103 In earlier days Dr. Benson, who was later
transferred to Fort Vancouver, had also been a member. Of him
and the group in general Helmcken wrote later:—
I suppose Mr. Douglas preferred Bensons absence—he was a radical—
a grumbler—had become attached to Governor Blanshard, and shared with
him mutual grumbles about the H.B. Co. These people were in too much
of a hurry, and thought a colony could be formed in a day. . . . Any how
Benson was a sterling, honest, kindhearted upright man, always ready to do
good, but somehow did not fit in, possibly he could not serve two master [s]
Blanshard and the H B Co in the shape of Mr. Douglas—in fact this divided
authority led to " parties " and was the source of very much bad feeling and
trouble afterwards.104
Douglas must have been sorely tried at times, but his references to the Governor continued to be courteous and considerate.
A private letter to Simpson, written in May, 1851, gives an
interesting glimpse of their relations:—
By a late letter from Mr. Barclay, I observe that the Committee suppose
that I am not on good terms with Governor Blanchard [sic]. That is a mistake as nothing disagreeable, of a private nature ever occurred to disturb
our harmony. True it is we differ in opinion as to public matters—as for
example he is anxious to have a military force stationed on the Island—
which is unquestionably a proper measure, but as an agent of the Company
who would have to maintain that force I have endeavoured to show that
there was no positive necessity for it. Again he is opposed to the large
reserves of land made for the Companies which he, with justice, opposes as
injurious to the country, while I am in duty bound to maintain their rights.
It is not as a private individual but as a servant of the Company that
there has ever been a difference of opinion. I have the utmost respect
for Mr. Blanshard and shall do everything in my power to make him
Late in June, 1851, H.M.S. Portland, flagship of the Commander-in-Chief on the Pacific Station, dropped anchor in Esquimalt Harbour. Her arrival was a sequel to the Fort Rupert affair.
Captain Wellesley of H.M.S. Daedalous had carried to Rear-
(103) Helmcken's Reminiscences, vol. iii, p. 37, AfS., Archives of B.C.
(104) Ibid.; pp. 17-18.
(105) Douglas to Simpson, May 21, 1851 (private), H.B.C. Arch., D5/30.
See also Douglas to Barclay, March 21, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 30 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
Admiral Hornby a dispatch from Blanshard asking for further
action against the Indians. Hornby was on the point of handing
over his command to Rear-Admiral Fairfax Moresby, but
promised Blanshard that the first thing he would " press upon
Admiral Moresby " would be to send a vessel to Vancouver Island
which would remain there " the greater part of the summer " of
1851.106 Moresby took a serious view of the matter, and came
north himself in the Portland to investigate. He asked for
a report on events since the departure of the Daedalous, and in
reply Blanshard wrote:—
I caused a reward to be offered for the apprehension of the murderers, and
have since been informed that the tribe have shewn an inclination to surrender them, but this they will not do unless intimidated by the presence of
an overwhelming force such as one of the H.M. ships.107
Moresby agreed at once to help. On June 29 he informed the
Governor that Captain Fanshawe, of H.M.S. Daphne, had been
ordered to receive him on board, convey him to the " Northern
Settlements," and exact satisfaction from the Newitty Indians.108
The expedition reached Beaver Harbour about the middle of
July. There Blanshard learned that the Newitties were encamped
on an island not far distant. He then requested Captain Fanshawe to " dispatch a proper force to seize as many of the tribe
as may be found and also to seize and destroy their encampment
canoes and other property." He urged that drastic action be
taken if necessary, as the " long impunity " of the tribe was
" producing a very bad effect upon the neighbouring tribes."109
Fanshawe immediately sent off sixty men under a lieutenant,
and this force attacked the Indians at dawn. The natives at once
abandoned their encampment and fled to the woods, whereupon
the attackers burned their houses and canoes, as instructed.
Douglas himself described the dispersal of the tribe as complete,
and the losses they suffered as very severe.110
(106) Hornby to Blanshard, dated Valparaiso, January 10, 1851. Transcript in Archives of B.C.
(107) Blanshard to Moresby, June 27, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(108) Moresby to Blanshard, June 29, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(109) Blanshard to Fanshawe, July 18, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(110) See Lieutenant E. Lacy to Captain Fanshawe, July 21, 1851;
Fanshawe to Blanshard, July 21, 1851; Douglas to W. F. Tolmie, August 6,
1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 31
The Daphne loitered in the vicinity of Fort Rupert until
July 30, and then sailed back to Victoria, where she arrived on
August 3, after a pleasant voyage. The next day Blanshard
reported the action, with obvious satisfaction, to the Colonial
Office.   His dispatch concluded:—
A most beneficial effect has been produced on the tribes in the neighbourhood, who had previously caused much alarm among the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, and endangered the safety of the post at Fort Rupert.
For the future I trust that place will remain in safety, which it did not
appear to be before.m
In justice to Blanshard it should be noted that Douglas substantially agreed with this opinion, though he was somewhat less
certain of the permanence of the cure.112
Owing to the slowness of communication with England, the
whole Fort Rupert affair, from first to last, had taken place
before Blanshard received a reply to the earliest of his dispatches
relating to it. But the ink was scarcely dry on his report of the
cruise of the Daphne when he was handed a package of dispatches
which had left the Colonial Office in March and April of 1851.
Their contents were upsetting to say the least. In a special
military dispatch Grey took him roundly to task for his conduct
of the whole affair. The Government, Grey stated, could not
undertake to protect citizens who chose to wander off amongst
the Indians, far from settlements. Nor was he convinced that
the settlements themselves had actually been in any danger.
Worse still, he was extremely critical of the employment of the
Daedalous, in October, 1850. "... I by no means feel satisfied," Grey wrote, " of the prudence of the steps which you took
in directing the expedition, which appears to have failed in its
main object."118
The unkindest cut of all was reserved for a separate dispatch,
in which Grey informs Blanshard that he is enclosing a letter
from the Secretary of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty :—
... on the subject of a passage afforded to you in Her Majesty's. Ship
" Daedalous " between the 30th of September and 9th of October last, and
(111) Blanshard to Grey, August 4, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(112) Douglas to W. F. Tolmie, August 6, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(113) Grey to Blanshard, March 20, 1851, M.S., Archives of B.C. 32 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
I have to request that you will cause the expense thereof amounting to
£47-15-0 to be paid to Captain Wellesley of that Vessel.114
Blanshard's feelings can be imagined, but he replied promptly
and with spirit. So far as the protection of persons outside the
settlements was concerned, he begged to point out that it was:—
. . . scarcely applicable to the unfortunate Seamen who were murdered at
Fort Rupert, as the murder was committed at a considerably shorter distance
from that post than is frequently visited by the servants of the Hudson's
Bay Company on their shooting excursions.
Dealing next with the peril of the settlement, he continued:—
That the Settlement was in danger I was fully persuaded, both by what
I saw myself, and by the apprehensions expressed by the Hudson's Bay
Company's servants who were on the spot: and I still firmly believe that the
visit of H.M.S. Daedalous, prevented a massacre.116
So far as the payment for his passage in the Daedalous was concerned, Blanshard turned the shaft neatly by stating that he
presumed that Grey's remark that he " did not consider it as an
expense that ought to be paid by the public, referred to the
terms of the grant of Vancouver Island to the Hudson's Bay
Company," and that he had therefore forwarded a copy of the
letter to the governor and directors of the company, " requesting
them to make the payment, for no funds are at my disposal as
Governor."116 Who actually paid the claim in the end does not
A third dispatch from Grey informed Blanshard that his
resignation had been accepted, and that he was at liberty to leave
the colony. Fortunately, H.M.S. Daphne was still in Island
waters, though about to sail for San Francisco, and Blanshard
immediately applied to Captain Fanshawe for a passage as far
as that port.117
We do not know just when it became known in Victoria that
Douglas was to be Blanshard's successor. Judging by the dates
of various letters and dispatches, it seems probable that the
Governor received the news some days at least before Douglas.
(114) Ibid., April 20, 1851.
(115) Blanshard  to  Grey,  August  11,  1851   (dispatch  no.  18), MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(116) Ibid., dispatch no. 20.
(117) Ibid., dispatch no. 19. 1950 Richard Blanshard 33
It is not surprising that Blanshard regarded the appointment
as a calamity for the colony. In May he had charged in a dispatch to Grey that the " whole tendency of the system pursued
by the Hudson's Bay Company " was " to exclude free settlers,
and reserve the Island, either as an enlarged Post of their own
or a desert."118 With Douglas in office, he saw all opposition
stifled and this policy sweeping everything before it.
Late in August Blanshard received a petition, the first three
paragraphs of which read as follows:—
May it please your Excellency,
We, the undersigned, inhabitants of Vancouver's Island, having learned
with regret that your Excellency has resigned the government of this colony,
and understanding that the government has been committed to a chief factor
of the Hudson's Bay Company, cannot but express our unfeigned surprise
and deep concern at such an appointment.
The Hudson's Bay Company being, as it is, a great trading body, must
necessarily have interests clashing with those of independent colonists.
Most matters of a political nature will cause a contest between the agents
of the Company and the colonists. Many matters of a judicial nature also,
will, undoubtedly, arise in which the colonists and the Company (or its
servants) will be contending parties, or the upper servants and the lower
servants of the Company will be arrayed against each other. We beg to
express in the most emphatical and plainest manner, our assurance that
impartial decisions cannot be expected from a Governor, who is not only
a member of the Company, sharing its profits, his share of such profits
rising and falling as they rise and fall, but is also charged as their chief
agent with the sole representation of their trading interests in this island
and the adjacent coasts.
Furthermore, thus situated, the colony will have no security that its
public funds will be duly disposed of solely for the benefit of the colony in
general, and not turned aside in any degree to be applied to the private
purposes of the Company, by disproportionate sums being devoted to the
improvement of the tract of land held by them, or otherwise unduly
The petitioners, who numbered fifteen, claimed that they constituted " the whole body of the independent settlers " in Vancouver
Island, and asked Blanshard to appoint a Council before his
departure, in order that their interests might be better protected.
Of the fifteen, six were members of the Muir family, who had
come out as miners but had since taken up land at Sooke.    Three
(118) Ibid., May 12, 1851.
(119) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
293. 34 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
others were settlers in the same district. The remaining names
were those of James Yates, James Cooper, William McDonald,
James Sangster, Thomas Blinkhorn, and, lastly but by no means
least, the Rev. Robert John Staines, " Chaplain to the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company." From what is known of the
signatories, it is difficult to believe that any one of them was the
author of the petition, and the suspicion arises that it was at
least revised by Blanshard himself. With this view Helmcken
This document comprises more than all of the real or fanciful grievances
[felt by the settlers] and in my opinion if not actually penned by Blanshard,
was instigated by him—the grievances had been talked about—new ones
occasionally arose which could be traced to the Governors coterie and their
Shortly before the petition was presented, Blanshard had
come upon an instance of the way in which the jurisdiction of
Governor and chief factor could come into conflict, even in small
matters. A new captain took charge of the famous schooner
Cadboro, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. As had been
usual, Douglas made the necessary entries in the ship's papers.
The captain, however, had doubts about the legality of this proceeding and took the register to Blanshard:—
. . . He was not at all satisfied with the alteration which had been made
in the register, and he asked whether the Hudson's Bay Company's servants
had any right to make these alterations. On referring to the Navigation
Act, I concluded that they had not, and I told him so. However, the next
day, or the day after that, he went to sea without seeing me on the subject.
.   .   .   She [the Cadboro] went to sea with the register signed by Mr. Douglas.
When she returned to port, Blanshard pursued the matter
I sent for the master and ordered him to produce his register, and on its
being produced I pointed out to him that it had been illegally signed, and
I summoned both him and Mr. Douglas to account for it.
Both captain and chief factor duly appeared, and Blanshard
bound them over to appear when called upon, on their own personal security. He told the Select Committee in 1857 that he
did not imagine that any further action was ever taken, as he
had left the Island very soon afterwards. But doubtless Blanshard found some satisfaction in having in this way pointed out
(120)  Helmcken's Reminiscences, vol. iii, p. 105, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 35
to Douglas that a change had really come about in Vancouver
Island, and that it was no longer legal for him to make entries
in a ship's register which Blanshard himself readily admitted
had in the past been quite properly " signed over and over again,
on every change of masters, by the resident chief factor of the
Hudson's Bay Company."121
Douglas himself was none too pleased when he learned that
it was intended that he should become Governor. His brief and
provisional contact with the office in 1849 had not ended very
happily from his point of view. He always contended that he
had actually been appointed Governor pro tempore on May 12,
1849, and that he was entitled to payment at the rate mentioned
by Simpson—£300 per annum—from that date until Blanshard's
arrival in March, 1850. Douglas raised the question of payment
in a letter to Simpson in November, 1850,122 and the matter was
not finally disposed of until as late as 1854. The company then,
finally ruled out the claim, and Barclay explained that the
appointment had been " merely temporary, and arising out of
the emergencies at that time."123
It will be recalled that Douglas had resented being transferred to Vancouver Island. In Victoria he held three executive
positions, and each in turn had produced a crop of troubles. In
November, 1850, he remarked privately to Simpson that he was
often sick of the whole affair.124 A few months later we find
him grumbling to a fellow officer about the amount of clerical
work his duties involved:—
Corresponding with the Governor and Committee, Governor and Council,
Proprietors of Vancouvers Island, Pugets Sound Agricultural Company,
and Sir George Simpson, once a month in duplicate is rather more than
should fall to my share of extra work.   I am getting tired of it.126
He was in no mood to welcome still another appointment, particularly a provisional one; but to his disgust that was precisely
(121) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
pp. 290-291.
(122) Douglas to Simpson, November 22, 1850 (private), H.B.C. Arch.,
(123) Barclay to Douglas, February 3, 1854, ibid., A6/30.
(124) Douglas to Simpson, November 22, 1850  (private), ibid., D5/29.
(125) Douglas to Tolmie, April 21, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 36 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
what he was asked to accept in the dispatches from England.
In September he wrote to Simpson:—
Our worthy friend Governor Blanshard lately sailed for England . . .
and I am again appointed Governor pro tempe [sic], this is too much of a
good thing.    I am getting tired of Vancouver's Island. 126
This time, however, no hitch was to occur. Even before he
wrote these words, Douglas had been appointed Governor, and
his commission arrived in Victoria in November, 1851.
Blanshard would have been interested in a letter written
about this time to Simpson by Peter Skene Ogden. Surveying
the scene from the detached vantage point of Fort Vancouver,
the redoubtable old chief factor wrote:—
We are taught that a man cannot serve two masters but their Honours
[the Governor and Committee] are of a different opinion—vide Douglas'
new appointment and not only two but three. CF. in the Fur Trade, Agent
for Puget Sound Coy and Gov. of Vancouver's Island, if there be not a clashing of Interests in the management of these different interests—I wonder.12f!
The last London mail which Blanshard received in Vancouver
Island included a letter from Archibald Barclay suggesting that
the Governor should appoint Douglas a member of Council before
he departed.128 Judging by the petition he received and appears
to have inspired, to appoint a Council had also been Blanshard's
own intention. He decided that it should consist of three members, and on August 27, 1851, duly nominated the following
Councillors: James Douglas (senior member), John Tod, and
James Cooper.129 Tod was a famous old fur-trader who had
retired in 1848 from the service of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Captain Cooper had commanded several vessels owned by the
company, but had arrived in Vancouver Island as an independent
settler and trader in the spring of 1851. He had signed the
petition submitted to Blanshard.
The Council met first on August 30. The oath of allegiance
was administered and the members then took their seats. The
brief proceedings are thus recorded in the old minute-book:—
(126) Douglas to Simpson, September 15, 1851 (private), H.B.C. Arch.,
(127) Ogden to Simpson, August 10, 1851 (private), ibid., D5/31.
(128) Barclay to Blanshard, May 1, 1851, MS., Archives of B.C.
(129) The original proclamation making the appointments, subject to
approval, is in the Archives of B.C. See also Blanshard to Grey, August 30,
1851, MS., Archives of B.C. 1950 Richard Blanshard 37
The Governor announced his having resigned the office of Governor of
the Colony, and till the arrival of a fresh commission the Senior Member
of Council would fill the place according to the instructions of which a
printed copy were laid on the table.
The said Members of Council have hereupon resolved that they will meet
at such times and in such places as may be hereafter appointed for the
consideration of public affairs.   This 30th August, 1851.130
Having thus provided for the conduct of the government of
the colony, Blanshard sailed in H.M.S. Daphne for San Francisco, where he arrived on September 10, " seven days from
Vancouver's Island."131 Beyond that point nothing is known of
his movements, except that he evidently returned to England by
way of Panama. While he was crossing the isthmus some accident must have occurred, as his papers were under water for
several hours in the River Chagres.132 Fortunately, he was able
to rescue his commission, and some seventy years later the water-
stained parchment returned to Vancouver Island, where it is
preserved in the Archives of British Columbia.
The later years of Blanshard's life cannot be traced in any
detail. A few months after his return to England, on May 19,
1852, he married Emily, daughter of James Hyde, of Aller,
Somerset.183 In June, 1857, he made two interesting appearances
which have been recorded in print. On the 15th he gave evidence
before the famous Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company, and the account of the proceedings occupies a dozen pages
in the printed Report. His questioners included Mr. Roebuck
and the Honourable Edward Ellice. It has been pointed out
that Blanshard gave the date of his arrival in Vancouver Island
incorrectly as " in the beginning of February, or the end of
January,"134 but there is no justification for the inference that
(130) Minutes of the Council of Vancouver Island, MS., Archives of B.C.
(131) San Francisco Daily Alta California, September 11, 1851.
(132) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 287-288. Blanshard exaggerated when he said in 1857 that all his papers
were lost, as the original of his instructions, signed by the Queen, is in the
Provincial Archives and shows no sign of water damage. The commission
and instructions were both presented to the Archives by Sir Leicester
Harmsworth in March, 1922.
(133) Joseph Foster, Men-at-the-Bar.
(134) Report of the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 294. 38 W. Kaye Lamb Jan.-Apr.
his statements were vague or unconvincing. They vary surprisingly little from the facts recorded and opinions expressed in
letters, dispatches, and other documents contemporary with the
events he was describing.
A week later, on June 22, Blanshard attended the meeting of
the Royal Geographical Society before which Captain W. Colqu-
houn Grant read his Description of Vancouver Island. Grant
estimated the Indian population at 17,000, and during the discussion of the paper Blanshard expressed the opinion that the figure
was too high.
When he was there he took great pains to make inquiries of the peqple who,
he considered, were best qualified to judge, and they stated the numbers to
be, at the outside, 10,000, and that the population was decreasing. 13&
Blanshard had become a fellow of the society in 1857, and
retained his membership as long as he lived.186
By this time Blanshard seems to have inherited the family
fortune, and for the most part he lived as a country gentleman
at Fairfield, an estate near Lymington, on the Solent, in Hampshire. He evidently maintained a yacht, as her captain is
remembered in his will. Mrs. Blanshard was well known for
her charities. She died in February, 1866, at the early age
of 49.137
Blanshard seldom visited Fairfield after his wife's death,
though he kept a staff of servants there. Instead, he resided
either in London or on the 1,000-acre estate of Horsey Island,
Essex, a few miles south of Harwich. The neighbouring church
of St. Michael, in Kirby-le-Soken, was " handsomely restored "
about 1880 at Blanshard's expense,188 and an old resident recalled
in 1931 that the Blanshards " used to distribute blankets at Xmas
(135) Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, I (1855-57),
p. 489.
(136) Librarian, Royal Geographical Society, to A. J. Mayes, October 19,
1928, MS., Archives of B.C.
(137) " The decease of this truly excellent lady has thrown a gloom
over the neighbourhood. It is not only a large circle of friends that will
deplore her loss, but that loss will be keenly felt by many of the poor of the
town." Lymington and Isle of Wight Chronicle, February 9, 1866. Mrs.
Blanshard died on February 4.
(138) J. Y. Watson, The Tendring Hundred in the Olden Time, 3rd edition, Colchester, 1884. 1950 Richard Blanshard 39
in the old style, and that he was the mainstay of this parish."189
He appears to have taken an active part in the life of the counties
in which his estates were situated and was a Justice of the Peace
for both Essex and Hampshire.
Helmcken states that Blanshard was an invalid in his later
years.140 According to Alexander Begg " his eyesight failed,
and before his death he became totally blind."141 He died in
Upper Berkeley Street, London, on June 5, 1894, in his seventy-
seventh year.142 He was buried beside his wife in Boldre
Churchyard, near Lymington. An account of the funeral reads
in part as follows:—
Since the death of his wife in 1866 he seldom spent much time at his
Lymington residence, but his interest in the place was always kept up, and
appeals to his charity for any local object always met with a generous
response, and in his death the poor have lost a generous benefactor. The
procession left the Mansion at Fairfield about 11 o'clock, and as it passed
through the town there was a very general mark of public mourning.148
Blanshard's will disposed of a personal estate amounting to
over £130,000.144 He died childless, and most of his fortune
went to a nephew and niece. He left a number of bequests to
friends and annuities to several servants, including one Fanny
Foss, who had attended his wife during her last illness.146
It has become the fashion to belittle Blanshard—an attitude
for which Bancroft appears to be largely responsible. Yet it is
difficult to suggest any more effective course of action that he
might have pursued under the circumstances existing at the
time in Vancouver Island. For those conditions the Hudson's
Bay Company was largely responsible. It was not experienced
in the arts of colonization and attempted to found a settlement
with inadequate preparation. Yet matters were mending slowly
by the time Blanshard left the Island, and it is to be regretted
that the state of his health made him both unable and unwilling
(139) J. Hodgkinson (Vicar, Kirby-le-Soken) to John Hosie, April, 1931,
MS., Archives of B.C.
(140) Victoria Daily Colonist, December 13, 1903.
(141) Alexander Begg, CC, History of British Columbia, Toronto, 1904,
p. 199.
(142) Annual Register, 1894.
(143) Lymington and South Harts Chronicle, June 14, 1894.
(144) Illustrated London News, July 14, 1894, p. 56.
(145) Photostat copy of Blanshard's will, Archives of B.C. 40 W. Kaye Lamb
to remain another year in the colony. Even before he left Victoria, the letter which was to settle the land-reserve difficulty
was on its way from London. Two qualified surveyors left England before the end of 1851. Within a matter of months, land
purchases made it possible to commence a modest programme
of public works. In 1852 mining operations commenced at
Nanaimo, where rich coal-deposits had been discovered. If
Blanshard had had the strength to remain and fight his battle
for the colony under these more favourable and pleasant conditions, the usual impression of him might be a very different one.
As it is, his story remains a study in minutiae—of little events
upon a small stage. But so much has sprung in after years from
this beginning that the history of his governorship well deserves
to be recorded in detail.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Public Archives of Canada,
Ottawa, Ontario. THE GOLD-RUSH OF '49*
The stampede to California in search of gold in 1849 was a
major event in modern history because it had consequences that
were tremendous and world-wide. The immediate cause of it was
the discovery of gold made by James W. Marshall on January 24,
1848, at Coloma, 37 miles north-east of Sacramento.
At that time California belonged to Mexico, for the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, which marked the end of the war between
the United States and Mexico, was not signed until February
2, 1848, or nine days after Marshall's discovery. If that fact
had been made known earlier, the destiny of California might
have been different. The United States paid a nominal price of
$15,000,000 for California and adjacent territory, yet in the
decade 1848 to 1858 California yielded $555,000,000 in gold.
The Spaniards began to occupy California in 1770; they were
succeeded in the control of the country by the Mexicans, in consequence of the revolution of 1821. Why did the Spaniards, who
acquired great wealth in gold and silver from Mexico and Peru,
fail to detect the occurrence of gold in the streams that flowed
from the Sierra Nevada? Because they sought for it with sword
and spear, instead of pick and shovel. To them gold was loot to
be collected from the peoples they conquered; it was gathered
from temples and graves, not from honest mining operations.
Nevertheless, the occurrence of gold in California was known
long before the epochal discovery in 1848. The Franciscan friars,
who built the mission churches and were the first exponents of
European civilization on the Pacific Coast, knew that gold had
been found by the Indians because sometimes they brought nuggets to the priests, who discouraged them from seeking the metal
by telling them that it was " bad medicine " and would bring evil
to them. It is recorded that many years before California became
part of the American domain, the padres at ,the Franciscan missions received gold from the Indians, and when an amount, valued
at about $7,000, had been collected, they sent it in a " fine silk
* The text of a paper read before the Victoria Section of the British
Columbia Historical Association, September 27, 1949, to commemorate the
centenary of the gold-rush to California.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
41 42 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
purse made especially for the purpose, to His Holiness, the
Pope."1 That was many years before placer diggings were
started in the San Fernando Valley. In 1842 alluvial gold was
discovered in that valley, 40 miles north-west of Los Angeles, and
successful mining was begun, yielding 2,000 ounces of gold during
the first year as a result of the efforts of 100 men. This little
goldfield was of no consequence, however, because it was completely overshadowed by the major discovery that came soon
That major discovery, as often happens, was accidental. At
the beginning of 1848 James Wilson Marshall had nearly completed the building of a sawmill for Johann August Sutter at
Coloma, on the south bank of the south fork of the American
River. Marshall was a millwright from New Jersey. Sutter was
a Swiss soldier of fortune with fictitious military pretensions; he
had left his native land in 1834, and after engaging in trade in
Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, and San Francisco (then known as
Yerba Buena), he had established himself at New Helvetia, now
Sacramento, where he had a large ranch and a hacienda enclosed
by a stockade, known later as Sutter's Fort.
When the sawmill was nearing completion, Marshall noticed
that the tail-race, for the effluent water, was not deep enough; so,
during the afternoon of January 23, he opened the water-gate to
allow the full stream to run all night and thereby deepen the channel. In effect, though not intended, this operation was equivalent
to the miners' practice known as ground-sluicing. In the morning, while the mill-hands were at breakfast, Marshall shut off the
water and sauntered down the tail-race to see if it had been
deepened sufficiently by the scouring action of the current during
the night. While doing so, he detected several bright bits of
yellow mineral on the flat stones. He gathered some of them to
examine them. Although not a miner, he guessed the mineral
must be either pyrite or gold; he knew that one of them was
brittle, whereas the other was malleable; therefore he placed the
largest flake, which was about the size of a melon seed, between
his teeth, to bite it.   Then he pounded it upon a rock, thereby
(1)  William H. Davis, Seventy-five Years in California, San Francisco,
1929, p. 22. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 43
proving that it was soft.2 Surmising now that it was metallic
gold, he gathered more of the flakes, put them into the crown
of his old felt hat, and took them to the mess-house, where he
exhibited his find to a group of mill-hands, consisting of five white
men and three Indians. As he approached them, he exclaimed
excitedly, " Boys, by God, I believe I've found a gold mine! " One
of the Indians, who had seen the gold obtained in Southern California, murmured " oro." A white mill-hand, Azariah Smith,
produced a $5 gold coin and compared it with the flakes, whereupon those present agreed that, although the colour was slightly
different—a little copper is added to the gold of coins to harden
them—the metal was the same. Later in the day, Marshall went
to the cook, Jennie Wimmer, who happened to be making soap,
and asked her to boil the largest flake in the strong lye. In the
morning, when it was cut out of the soap that lay at the bottom of
the kettle, the metal showed no discoloration. Finally, Marshall
took the gold flake to the blacksmith and told him to beat it on his
anvil, again proving that it was malleable. He called it a chispa,
that being the Spanish word for a spangle. Meanwhile some of
the mill-hands had gone to the tail-race and had gathered many
more bits of gold by aid of their knives.
Marshall did not go at once to report the discovery to Sutter;
he remained at Coloma three days longer, and during the interval
he turned the water into the tail-race every evening and shut it
off in the morning, so that he could examine the rocky bed for
more gold, some of which he obtained on each occasion. On
January 28 he went on foot to New Helvetia. When he arrived,
drenched by rain, he was excited and asked to see Sutter alone.
After locking the door, he pulled a white cotton rag out of his
pocket and unfolded it carefully upon the table, disclosing the
flakes of gold, weighing together about an ounce and a half. The
two men proceeded to test the metal. Sutter applied the acid test,
having found some nitric acid among his apothecary stores.
Then he brought forth a volume of the Encyclopaedia Americana
and read the article on gold. Whereupon he said, " I believe that
this is the finest kind of gold." Marshall was elated, and so was
Sutter.   They did not know that it would profit them nothing.
(2)  T. A. Rickard, " The Discovery of Gold in California," University of
California Chronicle, April, 1928, p. 144. 44 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
Some of the men at the sawmill told their friends about the
discovery, and a successful search for it was begun forthwith
along the river below the mill. At first Indian baskets were used
for washing the gravel and soon the handle of a frying-pan
was removed so that it could be employed for the same purpose.
Eventually the prospector's pan became a circular sheet-iron dish
with sloping sides, usually 15 to 16 inches in diameter, 10 to 11
inches across the bottom, and from 3 to 4 inches deep. The gravel
was shovelled into it and then washed with a circular shaking
motion, the digger squatting at the edge of the stream, so that the
light and barren sediment was carried away by the spilled water,
leaving the heavy portion behind. This was again washed repeatedly, the big lumps being picked out by hand, until a glittering
string, or tail, of gold particles remained. Later the digger
devised a simple machine for performing this operation more
expeditiously; he made a wooden box, about 3 feet long, sloping
gently and mounted on rockers, like a baby's cradle. Above the
upper end he placed a smaller box; on the bottom of this was wire
screen or sheet iron in which holes had been punched. This
device served both as a hopper and a sieve to exclude the stones
and coarse gravel, which were discharged by lifting the box. To
the side of this cradle or rocker, as it was variously named, a
handle was fixed, so that the digger could move it to and fro with
one hand while with the other he poured water over the gravel in
the hopper by means of some sort of iron dipper or can nailed
to a piece of wood. Whatever went through the bottom of the
hopper fell to the floor of the cradle, the rocking of which quickened the separation of the barren sediment, which was washed
away, leaving the gold and black iron oxide behind. To catch the
fine gold, the cradle was lengthened until it became a trough or
launder 8 to 10 feet long, and to the bottom the digger nailed
transverse cleats, or riffles, to arrest the smaller particles of gold
as they slid along with the heavy sediment, while the worthless
dirt was washed away by the water that he poured from a dipper
into the hopper. This machine was known as a " long torn."
Then the trough was extended and became a series of sluice-boxes
in which a piece of coarse blanket was laid to catch the fine gold
and still later mercury was placed behind the riffles to arrest the
gold by amalgamation.8   The daily winning averaged about an
(3)  T. A. Rickard, The Romance of Mining, Toronto, 1944, p. 168. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 45
ounce of gold per man. " It was no uncommon event for a man
alone to take out $500 in a day, or for two or three, if working
together, to divide the' dust' at the end of the week by measuring
it with tin cups. But we were never satisfied," says one of the
pioneers.4   In 1848 California yielded $10,000,000 in gold.
Sutter tried vainly to keep the matter quiet, because he sensed
the danger to himself on account of the land on which he had
squatted, the title to which was weakened now that California
was about to be ceded to the United States. An appeal to Colonel
Richard Mason, the representative of the Federal Government, at
Monterey, for a title to his land was unsuccessful. He sent Jacob
Wittmer with some provisions to the mill. This man drove a
wagon, and when he returned he told everybody about the discovery, showing them a sample of the gold. He went also to
a store kept by Samuel Brennan and George Smith; there he
offered some of his gold for a drink of whisky. Smith demanded
cash, but Wittmer insisted, " This is money, it's gold." When
Smith hesitated, he was told to ask the Captain, meaning Sutter,
who confirmed Wittmer's assertion. The secret was out! Then
Smith wrote to his partner, Brennan, who was in San Francisco.
He came promptly to Coloma to see for himself. On his return,
travel-stained, he rushed through the plaza shouting, "Gold!
Gold! Gold from the American River." As he shouted, he waved
a flask containing gold-dust, which glistened in the sunlight.6 He
was the first herald of the event.   The rush began.
Shortly afterward a messenger with an oyster-can filled with
nuggets, sent by Governor Mason, carried official information
concerning the gold discoveries to the President of the United
States, James K. Polk. He, in his message to Congress on December 5, 1848, said:—
It was known that mines of the precious metals existed to a considerable
extent in California at the time of its acquisition. Recent discoveries render
it probable that these mines are more extensive and valuable than was anticipated. The accounts of the abundance of gold in that territory are of such
an extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not
corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public service who
have visited the mineral district and derived the facts which they detail from
personal observation.   .   .   .    The explorations already made warrant the
(4) John S. Hittell in Journal of the Society of California Pioneers, 1869,
quoted in Rickard, The Romance of Mining, p. 167.
(5) Quarterly of the Society of California Pioneers, vol. IV (1932), p. 23. 46 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
belief that the supply is very large and that gold is found at various places
in an extensive district of country.6
The publication of this statement in newspapers all over the country was a bugle-call to the adventurous in every land. The great
rush of '49 was the immediate result.
The Mexican mining law was no longer operative in California; no law of the United States was applicable to the new
diggings; and no state government had as yet been organized;
therefore the diggers were left to their own devices, and they
promptly met the need of the moment by drafting their own
mining regulations. They did this so sensibly that their local
rules became the substance of the mining law of the United States
as enacted by Congress in 1866.
The right to locate a mining claim and to hold it against all
comers, until abandoned, was admitted. This basic idea of mining
law had been brought by some of the adventurers from other
lands, from the Hartz, from Devon and Cornwall. Title, it was
agreed tacitly, was derived from the first locator, and continuity
of work sufficed to maintain ownership. This simple code was
established by general agreement of the diggers in meeting
assembled, and by their willingness to use force in support of any
comrade that might suffer trespass on his claim. The size of a
claim, from 30 to 40 feet square, was established in the same
manner, modifications being made later in accordance with the
nature of the deposit and the amount of preparatory expenditure
that might be needed. Each man had his say, any man was as
good as another, and the rudimentary community accepted the
decision of the group as final. Thus was the organization of the
mining camp evolved; it was the nearest approach to a democracy that the world has seen.
On their long journey to California, whether by land or sea,
the adventurers learned many lessons of mutual tolerance and of
self-control; while acquiring an indifference to the machinery of
government, they became disposed to prefer a direct appeal to
the community as the simplest, and, therefore, the best form of
popular administration. The tedious voyage as members of an
unruly company under an incompetent captain, or a similar
experience with the emigrant wagons that threaded their way
(6) James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of
the Presidents, 1789-1897, Washington, 1897, vol. IV, p. 636. <
Sutter's Fort at Coloma. 3
CO 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 47
across the prairies, caused the young men to learn how to settle
disputes and to co-operate in maintaining order. If the wearisome journey did more to discipline than to educate, it served,
on the other hand, to develop some measure of skill in self-
government, and to induce a tendency toward short cuts as much
for the preservation of order as for summary punishment of
those that infringed the frontier code. When they arrived at the
diggings, the adventurers continued the associations, sometimes
the partnerships, formed on board ship or in the covered wagons
that became known as " prairie schooners."
The stories of the golden era give contradictory impressions:
on the one hand we read of order, generosity, and honour; on the
other we see pictures of riot, greed, and fraud. Neither extreme
is wholly true, but the facts are given more reliably in the
chronicles of the time than in the later reminiscences of garrulous
pioneers. The life of the mining camp, as Josiah Royce says, was
" the struggle of society to impress the true dignity and majesty
of its claims on wayward and blind individuals, and the struggle
of the individual man, meanwhile, to escape, like a fool, from his
moral obligation to society."7 In such a frontier community,
composed of men who had left their homes, their families, and
their old vexations in an attempt to find a golden paradise, the
social struggle came to the surface and was to be seen in its true
light, for public duties of any sort are a nuisance amid the excitement of digging for gold, and to be a member of a vigilance committee in a roistering camp is better sport than to serve on a legal
jury in a quiet town.
For two years, however, from 1848 to 1850, the life of the
diggers had many ideal aspects, as regards democratic control,
orderly work, and cheery comradeship. During those two years
only the most vigorous and resolute came to the gulches, no
women perturbed the virile groups in the hills, and the easy winning of gold made the diggers generous to each other. They had
no time to quarrel; the world was young and life an epic. The
population of the diggings scattered along the foothills of the
Sierra had grown to 100,000. In the third year after the discovery there came many undesirable elements: the loose women,
the gamblers, and the saloon-keepers.    Another factor in pro-
(7)  Josiah Royce, California from the Conquest in 1846 to the Second
Vigilance Committee in San Francisco, Boston, 1886, p. 273.
4 48 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
moting violence and disorder was a local exaggeration of the
American dislike of foreigners, including the native Indians and
the Mexicans from whom the land had been but lately wrested.
The treatment of the early French prospectors was outrageous;
such acts may have " served to weld the Americans in a closer
union," as Charles H. Shinn says,8 but it also bred a spirit of
vicious intolerance that was strangely at variance with the
miner's habitual generosity. The Chinese were rigidly excluded,
and had to wait their turn until much later, when they were permitted to pick up the crumbs that had fallen from the white
man's table; in other words, they re-treated the refuse of the old
The lavish gathering of gold in California, when it became
known, led to similar discoveries in other parts of the world
because everywhere men became gold-conscious, that is to say,
they realized the wealth to be obtained by developing profitable
mines, and they learned how to search for natural deposits of
metal or mineral. Thus, the gold-rush to Australia two years
later was a logical sequel to the Californian excitement because
Edward H. Hargraves, the prospector that discovered gold in
Australia, obtained his first experience in winning gold when he
went to California. He had come to Australia, not by compulsion,
at the age of 17. When news reached Sydney that gold had been
found in quantity in California, he, then 33 years old, was one of
the first to go thither.
Hargraves arrived at San Francisco in October, 1849, and
promptly went to the diggings on the Stanislaus River, where he
had his first lesson in washing gold from gravel in a pan. Soon
he noticed that the rocks and other geologic conditions were like
those he remembered seeing in New South Wales. Then he went
to the richer diggings on the Yuba, but he did not stay long, for he
had decided to return to Australia without delay, so as to put his
conviction to the test—namely, that gold was to be found in New
South Wales. He left San Francisco in November, 1850, and
arrived at Sydney in the following January.
It was the fifth of February when Hargraves set forth on
horseback for the interior. He crossed the Blue Mountains and
went to Guyong, where he had been eighteen years earlier, and
(8) Charles H. Shinn, Mining Camps, a Study in American Frontier
Government, New York, 1885, p. 212. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 49
where he had seen conditions resembling those he had observed in
California. On February 12,1851, he found gold in Lewis Ponds
Creek, a small affluent of the Macquarie River. He washed five
panfuls of gravel in succession, and obtained gold in all but one.
Then he prospected along the Macquarie River and its other
tributary streams until, a week later, he felt justified in asserting
that there was " at least 70 miles of auriferous land " in the part
of the country he had examined.9
His one anxiety now was " lest some miner from California
should make a similar discovery " and forestall him in his legitimate claim for a reward from the Government. Hargraves,
therefore, hastened to Sydney to tell the Colonial Secretary all
about his investigations. He exhibited the gold in proof of his
story. The Secretary was sceptical and remarked, " If this is a
gold country, Mr. Hargraves, it will stop the Home Government
from sending any more convicts, and prevent emigration to California, but it comes on us like a clap of thunder and we are
scarcely prepared to credit it." The Secretary spoke wisely. It
is a noteworthy fact that when the American colonies revolted,
and criminals could be sent no longer to Virginia and the Caro-
linas, the British Government decided to make use of Australia
for this purpose. A penal settlement was established on the
shore of Botany Bay, near Sydney, in 1787. The finding of gold
put an end to the sending of convicts thither, as the Colonial Secretary anticipated. Subsequent events proved also that he was
right in his belief that emigration from England to California
would be diverted, going to Australia instead. A rush ensued.
The land of the Southern Cross, ceasing to be a convict station,
became an industrial commonwealth.
Hargraves asked for a bonus of £500, in return for which he
promised to disclose to officers of the Government the places
where he had found the gold, leaving the matter of further reward
to be determined in accordance with the importance of the results
that might ensue. These terms were accepted. He then did his
best to draw public attention to the discovery, but made no effort
to peg any claim for himself. " My only desire," he stated, " was
to make the discovery, and rely on the Government and the country for my reward."   Fortunately, he was not disappointed; the
(9) E. H. Hargraves, Australia and Its Gold Fields . . . , London,
1855, p. 116. 50 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
Governor at once made him Commissioner of Crown Lands " at
the usual pay of 20 shillings per diem," and subsequently the
Legislative Council of New South Wales awarded him the sum of
£10,000, and still later the Government of Victoria, recognizing
that his prospecting had contributed to the successful search for
gold in that colony, also gave him £2,000 more. These payments
were entirely satisfactory, for they sufficed to keep him in comfort during the rest of his life.
Hargraves was far more fortunate than Marshall in California, who profited but little from his happy chance. He won a
nominal fame, it is true, from the discovery of the gold, " which
he had taken no pains to find, and which somebody must inevitably
have found very soon," and when he died a poor and completely
frustrated man, his biographers had to confess that after he
picked up the first gold he did no more than " prove himself henceforth to be an utterly incapable man."10 Hargarves, on the
contrary, after his successful exertions, enjoyed a dignified life,
maintaining a curiously philosophical detachment from the hectic
activities he had brought into being by his intelligent prospecting.
The Governments of the Australian colonies, first in New South
Wales and then in Victoria, were greatly embarrassed by the rush
and by the excitement caused by the gold discoveries. Sir Charles
Fitzroy, the Governor of the older colony, was urged to declare
martial law and to prohibit the digging for gold, but he decided
sensibly that to do so would be as futile " as an attempt to stop the
influx of the tide." The Attorney-General, however, promptly
asserted the claim of the Crown to the gold. This regalian right
to deposits of the precious metals was traditional; it was a kingly
perquisite that came down from the days of the Roman emperors.
In England the doctrine of fodinae regales, or mines royal, was
revived by Henry III (1216-1272). In the sixteenth century the
Spanish king's share was fixed at a fifth, the quinto, of the gold
and silver obtained by his subjects, chiefly in Mexico and Peru.
It was sustained by Blackstone in his Commentaries, under date
of 1763.n In Australia the assertion of the royal claim, or
royalty, was not enforced with any assurance because many thousand miles of ocean rolled between the seat of kingship and the
(10) Royce, op. cit, p. 221.
(11) T. A. Rickard, " The Later Argonauts," Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. XXXVI (1927), p. 27. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 51
resolute men that were digging the gold they themselves had
found. The rights of the Crown were reduced later to a trivial
exaction, which took the form of a licence fee, or permit to mine,
of £1 per month, and this was reduced eventually to a fee of £1
per annum for a " miner's right."
Fitzroy was a wise administrator, and the rush to the diggings
in New South Wales was not overwhelming, but in Victoria the
excitement was tremendous and the Government was inept, so
that much confusion, ending in riot, ensued. Gold had been found
at Bunninyong on September 8, 1851, which date marks the birth
of the Ballarat Goldfield. The nearness of the discoveries at
Ballarat, Bendigo, and Castlemaine to the coast made it easy to
get there quickly from Melbourne. Shortly the ships, the shops,
and the farms were deserted, and every man started on foot or on
horseback for the diggings. Charles Latrobe, the Governor of'
Victoria, imitated Fitzroy's proclamation and levied the same
licence fee. It was collected roughly and aroused angry opposition.12 The Governor doubled the fee, thinking to check the rush.
He was sadly mistaken. Gold to the amount of 2 tons per week
was being dug out of the alluvial flats at the foot of Mount Alexander. Only 16,000 licences had been taken out in that district by
the 60,000 men actually at work. In 1854,1,200 rioters assembled
within a stockade on Eureka Hill, and military force had to
be used to scatter them, after thirty had been killed. A new
Governor succeeded in establishing order; the licence fee was
changed to the miner's right at £1 per annum, and an export duty
of 2s. 6d. per ounce was placed on the gold. Courts of Mines were
established for the hearing of local disputes, and other measures
were taken whereby the rights of the miners were safeguarded.
In 1852 the Australian diggings yielded $60,000,000 in gold; in
the decade 1848 to 1858 the combined outputs of California and
Australia added $1,200,000,000 to the world's total stock of gold,
which had been $1,500,000,000 before these fresh supplies began
to come from the new goldfields.
The next region to profit from the Californian excitement was
the British colony on Vancouver Island, which, at that time, was
administered by the Hudson's Bay Company. It was a fur preserve and nothing else.   The fur-traders at Fort Victoria learned
(12)  Thomas Dunbabin, The Making of Australia, London, 1922, p. 190. 52 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
about Californian gold through an unexpected visit from some of
the successful diggers. In the spring of 1849 a strange vessel
dropped anchor in front of the fort. It is recorded by Roderick
Finlayson, who was then Chief Trader, that the crew of this ship
wore red flannel shirts, and when they landed they were mistaken
for pirates. "I ordered the men," he says, "to the guns, manned
the bastions, and made ready for defence." He himself went to
the gate cautiously and challenged the visitors. They explained
that they were " peaceable traders, come from San Francisco,
with gold to trade for goods, as this [Fort Victoria] was the only
station on the northern coast where they could get the goods they
wanted. Having satisfied myself that they were what they presented themselves to be, I let them in, and they told me that gold
had been discovered in California in large quantities the previous
fall, and that they had gold nuggets, which they would gladly
exchange for goods. They produced several nuggets, the value of
which I at first felt doubtful of, but brought one of the nuggets to
the blacksmith's shop, and told him and his assistant to hammer
it on the anvil, which they did, and flattened it out satisfactorily."18 This proved that the metal was thoroughly malleable;
it was not brass. Then Finlayson referred to his " book on minerals, and found that the specimen appeared to be genuine." He
offered the visitors $11 per ounce for all the gold they had
brought. This price was accepted " without a murmur "; whereupon he feared that he had offered too much. Nevertheless, he
continued to trade with the Californians, who took " old pots of
iron, sea boots, blankets, baize, etc.," in exchange. Thus Finlayson gathered a pile of nuggets, but, still doubtful as to their monetary value, he hastened to send a canoe with eight men to Puget
Sound and thence overland to the company's headquarters at Fort
Vancouver, on the Columbia River, for the purpose of ascertaining if he had been right in purchasing the gold. The answer was
in the affirmative; his action was commended, and more goods
were sent to him for similar trade when the opportunity offered.
We learn that later " several other vessels came from California
to trade, for which considerable quantities of gold was received.".
It is not stated whether Finlayson continued to pay $11; Californian placer gold was worth $16.50 per ounce.
(13)  Biography of Roderick Finlayson, Victoria, 1891, p. 21. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 53
Prospecting for gold soon disclosed the fact that it was to be
found in many places northward in the territory adjacent to the
Pacific Coast. Successive discoveries linked the American River,
where gold was found in California, with the Thompson and
Fraser Rivers in British Columbia, where gold diggings were
started ten years later.
Early discoveries of gold in British Columbia were made by
the Indians, as happened in California. Elsewhere, likewise,
primitive man picked up the lump of glistening metal that he saw
on the edge of the stream along which he wandered when in
search of game. He found out that the pretty pebble was soft
and could be shaped by hammering with a stone, so he used it to
make an ornament for his woman. When the Europeans came
among the Indians on the Pacific Coast, they wore rings and
watch-chains of gold; the natives, therefore, saw that the white
people set a high value on gold, and they inferred correctly that
if they brought it to the trader he would be willing to barter his
goods, such as blankets and tobacco, for the yellow metal.14
Gold was found by Indians in a quartz vein at Mitchell Harbour, on Moresby Island, one of the Queen Charlotte Islands, in
1850, and some of the gold-bearing quartz was brought to Fort
Victoria, where it aroused keen interest. The Hudson's Bay
Company sent men to this discovery. Some rich ore was obtained,
but the Indians hindered the working party of eleven men under
Captain W. H. McNeill so persistently that the operation had to
be discontinued. The rock was shattered by blasting; the Indians
waited near by, and as soon as the noise of the explosion was
heard, they rushed to the spot on the shore to engage in a lively
scramble for the gold quartz. In an effort to prevent actual
fighting, much time was lost, and McNeill decided it would be
wise to stop work because it was the settled policy of the company
not to antagonize the Indians, with whom they traded for furs.
This gold discovery, as a matter of fact, was of no particular
consequence, except that it awakened the people at Fort Victoria
to the probability of other finds. A nugget of gold weighing 5
ounces was found by an Indian woman on the beach of Moresby
Island. It was brought to Fort Victoria and excited much curiosity.   The matter was reported by Richard Blanshard, the first
(14) For further details see T. A. Rickard, " Indian Participation in the
Gold Discoveries," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II (1938), pp. 3-18. 54 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
Governor of Vancouver Island, to Earl Grey, the Colonial Secretary in London. Meanwhile, the company's factor at Kamloops,
on the Thompson River, had received some gold from the Indians
as early as 1852, and similar gold in small particles, not big
enough to be called nuggets, was coming to other posts of the
Hudson's Bay Company in course of trade with the natives on the
Mainland. Donald Maclean, the trader in charge at Kamloops,
inspected the gold-bearing ground, and then sent to Victoria for
some iron spoons to be used by the Indians in extricating the gold
from crevices in the rocky beds of the creeks.16 In this way 800
ounces of gold was collected, and was sent to San Francisco on the
little steamship Otter in February, 1858. The news of the receipt
of this gold caused many Californians to come north. A band of
American prospectors reached the Fraser River, where they discovered rich gravel at Hill's Bar, about a mile below Yale. News
of their success excited the people of San Francisco and started
a rush northward.16
In the summer of 1858 the excitement grew daily in the Oregon country and in California. In July thirty-five vessels left
San Francisco for the northern diggings. Boats, canoes, and
other small craft brought adventurers from Puget Sound to the
Fraser River. It is estimated that 30,000 men participated in
this stampede. The output of gold during the latter half of 1858
exceeded 100,000 ounces.17 This was not much compared with
the output of California, but it had the same effect—namely, to
bring men and capital into the country and to promote its industrial development. The rush to the Fraser was followed, two
years later, by the finding of gold on the Quesnel River and Cariboo Lake. Then came the Cariboo rush of 1861. In twenty years
$35,000,000 in gold was taken from this district. Even that was
much less than the yield of the Californian diggings, but the
industrial and political effects were no less decisive.
(15) H. H. Bancroft, History of British Columbia, 1792-1887, San Francisco, 1887, p. 349.
(16) James Moore, "The Discovery of Hill's Bar in 1858," British
Columbia Historical Quarterly, III (1939), pp. 215-220.
(17) James Douglas to Sir E. B. Lytton, November 30, 1858, Papers
Relative to the Affairs of British Columbia, Part II [Cmd. 2578], London,
1859, p. 40. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 55
The gold-miner made British Columbia. He attracted settlers
and caused subsidiary industries to be started. He brought capital for the financing of productive business. In short, he did
exactly what the fur-trading companies had failed to do. All the
peltry companies were alike in their opposition to settlers and to
miners because they knew that these would interfere with their
Indian trade. The company's agents obtained furs by means of
barter. Theirs was a fur preserve and nobody was to poach upon
it if they could keep it inviolate. On the other hand, the prospector, once he has pegged his claim, shouts a glad welcome to all
who may care to follow in his tracks. Mining opened doors of
opportunity that the fur-trader did his best to close. The mines
needed many workers; the fur trade employed few. Mining
operations required capital to an extent much greater than the
peltry business, and with the influx of capital there was given
motive power for further exploration and development. Trade
follows the flag, but the flag follows the pick.18
Another consequence of the Californian rush was the discovery of gold in Colorado. In the summer of 1849 a party of seven
men from Georgia crossed the continent on their way to California with a herd of thoroughbred horses. When they reached
Camp Lyon, on the Arkansas River, in October, they were told by
a Government guide, James Dempsey, that it was too late to cross
the mountains, so they established winter quarters at the foot of
the Rocky Mountains near the junction of Cherry Creek and the
Platte River, close to the present site of Denver. During the
closing months of 1849 they did some prospecting and found gold
at several places along Cherry Creek. From the feathers of the
wild geese that they shot they obtained quills in which the placed
their gold-dust. This party of Georgians, headed by Dr. L. J.
Russell and his brother, continued on their journey to California
early in 1850 and engaged in successful mining at Downieville.
In the spring of 1857 they sold their claims and returned to
Georgia. Before separating, the members of the party agreed
that in the near future they would organize a prospecting expedition to search for gold in western Kansas, of which the present
State of Colorado was then a part. In May, 1858, eleven of them
met at St. Louis and organized an expedition.   In August they
(18)  T. A. Rickard, Historic Backgrounds of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1948, p. 313. 56 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
reached their former camp on the Platte River. From this point
they spread in several directions and found gold at many places
in the neighbouring mountains, notably in the gravel of Boulder
Creek, Fall River, and Clear Creek. Six of the party went back
to obtain provisions, returning in the spring of 1859.
That was the year of golden discovery and of exciting
rumours, which caused the Pike's Peak rush, for the snowy
summit of that noble mountain was a landmark to those coming
westward across the prairies. On the covered wagons was
inscribed " Pike's Peak or Bust," and it was not long before the
same wagons on the return journey showed that the slogan had
been changed to " busted." Companies were organized all along
the Missouri for the purpose of going to the diggings. Many
inexperienced persons participated in the rush and underwent
great hardships, but not in vain. In May, John H. Gregory went
up the northern branch of Clear Creek and discovered the lode
that was named after him. The date, May 6,1859, is the birthday
of Colorado's mining industry.
Gregory's first panning of the soft material in the outcrop of
the vein yielded 4 pennyweights of gold. He employed five men
and took out $972 in one week by aid of a sluice-box. The first
arrastra was put to work in July and a stamp-mill of three heads
was set up in October. Most of the mining at this time in this
district, later known as Gilpin County, was confined to the soft
oxidized ore which was treated as gravel would be, by washing it
in pans and sluice-boxes.
Other veins were discovered in due course, and by July, 1860,
no less than sixty little mills were in operation. Soon the mine-
workings penetrated into pyritic ore, from which the gold was
more difficult to extract. Many mines were compelled to close
down. Then the smelter came to the aid of the baffled millman,
the first being that of the Boston & Colorado Smelting Company,
organized by N. P. Hill, who was assisted by the metallurgical
skill of Richard Pearce.19 The discoveries in central Colorado
were followed by the finding of the great bodies of silver-lead ore
at Leadville, of gold and silver veins in the San Juan district, and
of the famous gold-telluride lodes of Cripple Creek.    Colorado
(19)  T. A. Rickard, A History of American Mining, New York, 1932,
pp. 115-146. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 57
became one of the richest and most progressive mining regions
in the United States.
When the great migration began to California in 1849, the
motley crowd of gold-seekers had no time to examine the signs
of ore that were to be detected along the trail of adventure, nor
were many of them qualified to interpret such signs even if they
had lingered to look at them. Some of those that came to California crossed the alkaline wastes and sage-brush prairies that
extended between the Great Salt Lake and the ramparts of the
snow-clad Sierra Nevada. In coming overland they found it
convenient to pitch their camp in the valley of the Carson River,
in Nevada, before they began the tedious ascent of the mountains
and the final entry into the land of gold. The Carson Valley
became a resting-place on the road; it was an oasis in their
desert pilgrimage.
Among others, a party of Mormons came westward from Salt
Lake; one of them, William Prouse, of Cornish origin, used
a milk-pan to wash the gravel in a little creek that entered the
Carson River from the west. The date was May 15, 1849. The
pannings were poor, so Prouse and his friends proceeded on their
way. This creek became known as Gold Canyon; it was the
threshold to one of the treasure vaults of the world, the Comstock
Lode. Others came to the valley, and in 1851 many of them
worked in Gold Canyon, winning about $5 per day. Some of the
gold was combined with silver, but that did not mean anything
to the ignorant diggers. They had no idea that they were close
to an ore-deposit that would yield both gold and silver profusely.
The epochal discovery was made in 1859 by Patrick McLaughlin and Peter O'Riley. They were prospecting in a ravine above
Six Mile Canyon, and on the hill-slope westward they found some
specks of gold in the loose dirt. To obtain a supply of water, they
started to make a small basin into which the water trickled.
When doing this they dug a little deeper than before and broke
into sandy quartz, which, when washed in a pan, disclosed not
only a pale kind of gold, combined with silver, but particles of
a soft black mineral, which was argentite, the sulphide of silver,
although they did not know it. It was derived from the Comstock
Lode, of which also they were unaware, but they located two
50-foot placer claims and felt happy. Just then a lanky fellow
on a small horse came riding toward them.   They showed him the 58 T. A. Rickard Jan.-Apr.
result of their panning, whereupon falsely and impudently, he
told them that they were trespassing on his property, a ranch
of 160 acres. He talked so confidently and so loudly that they
were thoroughly intimidated and as a result gave him a share
in their claims and an additional 100 feet for himself and his
partner.20 The date was June 8, 1859, and the impudent interloper was Henry Comstock, after whom the great lode was
named. A few days later a piece of the black stuff was assayed
at Grass Valley, California, and was found to be rich in silver
and gold. The prospect-hole of the two Irishmen became the
Ophir mine, which yielded $17,655,000. Comstock died miserably,
by his own hand, in 1870, and both of those he had defrauded
ended their lives as unhonoured paupers. The mines on the Comstock Lode produced $350,000,000, of which 55 per cent was
silver and 45 per cent was gold.
Other gold-rushes ensued,21 for the details of which no space
is available: to New Zealand in 1861, to Siberia in 1868, and to
the Klondike in 1897. But far the most important was the discovery in 1886 of the gold-bearing conglomerate beds of the
Witwatersrand in the Transvaal and the beginning of the South
African mining industry, much the most productive in history.
The output of gold in the Transvaal increased from £34,710 in
1886 to £42,285,139 in 1926 and £104,000,000 in 1948.
The English economists, at the time of the Californian rush,
were strongly imbued with the quantitative theory of money and
therefore looked askance at the enormous production of gold.
They regarded it exclusively in relation to the existing demand
for specie and anticipated, with gloomy assurance, a disastrous
fall in the value of money, such as would undermine the structure
of commercial credit and cause heavy damage to the creditor
class, which, to those sombre prophets, denoted the upper and
worthier class. Jevons insisted that the production of gold represented a dead loss of labour to the world; he went even further
and stated that it was " a wrong against the human race," comparable with the inflation of its own currency by a government,
but he had the wit to add that " to overestimate the indirect
(20) Eliot Lord, " Comstock Mining and Miners," United States, Department of the Interior, Monographs of the United States Geological Survey,
vol. IV, 1883, p. 38.
(21) See W. P. Morrell, The Gold Rushes, London, 1940, passim. 1950 The Gold-rush of '49 59
effects of these discoveries in creating new colonies, in spreading
the English people and language, and in newly animating commerce is not easy."22
One economist, Sir Archibald Alison, was the exponent of
a more hopeful outlook. He hailed the new gold discoveries with
philanthropic enthusiasm because he had taken note of the ill
effects caused by the dwindling output of gold from Mexico and
South America consequent upon the political upheavals in those
countries.23 To the diminishing supplies of the precious metals,
he attributed, in large measure, the extraordinary depression of
trade and the general distress that had prevailed throughout
Europe during the first half of the nineteenth century. We know
now that the more hopeful view was correct, and that the gloomy
vaticinations of other economists were unjustified.
The gold discoveries prompted emigration and a fresh distribution of peoples, thereby starting new communities in remote
parts of the world and relieving the congestion of population,
some of it unemployed, in the old centres of industrial activity.
Within two years after Marshall's discovery, 100,000 men had
arrived in California from the eastern parts of the United States.
A year after Hargraves found the gold, no less than 360,000
emigrants from Great Britain arrived in Australia. In four
years 1,356,000 British emigrants went overseas to various
The wages of unskilled labour, the supply of which was depleted by emigration to the goldfields, rose rapidly in England
and the United States. The gains made by the men at the mines
were followed by heavy remittances home, helping many that had
been in straightened circumstances.   One fundamental difference
(22) W. S. Jevons, Investigations in Currency and Finance, London,
1884, p. 54.
(23) Sir Archibald Alison, History of Europe from the Commencement
of the French Revolution to the Restoration of the Bourbons, London, 1848,
vol. XIV, pp. 360-361.
(24) It may be noted that this effect of the gold-rushes in causing migration has impressed Joseph Stalin. We are told by one of the American mining
engineers engaged by the Soviet Union that Stalin had read sundry books,
including a history of mining by Rickard, and from the reading of these
books he had formed the idea of inducing a beneficial movement of Russians
to the gold mines in Siberia. J. D. Littlepage and D. Bess, In Search of
Soviet Gold, New York, 1938, p. 26. 60 T. A. Rickard
between the winning of gold by the Spaniards under Cortes and
Pizarro in the sixteenth century and that of the English-speaking
miners in the nineteenth century must be noted: most of the loot
of Mexico and Peru fell into the hands of aristocratic adventurers. The gold and silver snatched from the Aztecs and the
Incas went as spoil to the Spanish soldiers and as tribute to the
Spanish king, whereas in California and Australia the gold that
was won by honest digging went to the workers themselves.
These later Argonauts were mostly of the labouring class—they
were neither courtly freebooters nor the minions of a king. The
gold of Grass Valley and of Bendigo in the days of the great
rushes went to the young men that dug it out of the ground, and
from them it went to the old folk at home.
This effect of the gold production, in giving the industrial
classes a larger share of purchasing power, was regarded, even
by Cairnes, as the greatest redeeming incident of the economic
upheaval.25 With such a liberal interpretation of the events that
we have been considering, most men of generous mind will agree.
The influence of the lavish output of gold was felt strongly during
the years that followed, for the result was to give to the working
classes not only purchasing power, but also political power, and
thereby the production of gold became a potent factor in the
trend toward democratic ideas. If we accept the ideal of a state
of living as one that brings physical comfort and mental culture
to all classes in the community, then we shall agree that the gold-
diggers contributed to the welfare of humanity and broadened
the bounds of modern civilization.
T. A. Rickard.
Victoria, B.C.
(25) John E. Cairnes, Essays in Political Economy, London, 1873, pp.
A feeling exists in British Columbia that British traditions
and institutions were established and maintained in the Pacific
Northwest by Scottish and English administrators. Even in the
period of the fur trade there were, however, influential Irishmen
who assisted in this work,1 and after Crown Colonies were established, Irishmen were to be found in official positions ranging
from governor to magistrates. They were also active in the
church as well as in the professions of law, medicine, and
journalism. On the Mainland they were the founders of the
large ranches and established a type of agricultural economy
that prevailed in the Interior of the Province until 1890. Their
political activities continued after a Provincial government was
organized and, with the exception of the short administration of
Amor de Cosmos, all the ministries until June, 1882, were led by
Irishmen—John Foster McCreight,2 George Anthony Walkem,
and Andrew Charles Elliott.
Most of the men who served in official positions in the colonial
period were Anglo-Irish, some of them men of the " Dublin
Castle " class who had connections with the gentry. The leading
figures of the colonial period were veterans of the Crimean War
who resorted to patronage as a means of obtaining employment
in the new colony of British Columbia. They were loyal subjects
of the Crown,3 professing a desire to help in building British
* The presidential address delivered at the annual meeting of the British
Columbia Historical Association, held in Victoria, January 20, 1950.
(1) Irishmen in the fur trade include William Connolly, John Work and
his nephew John McAdoo Wark. For details on the career of John Work,
see H. D. Dee, "An Irishman in the Fur Trade: The Life and Journals of
John Work," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VII (1943), pp. 229-
(2) For details on John Foster McCreight, see Patricia M. Johnson,
"John Foster McCreight," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, XII
(1948), pp. 79-92.
(3) An entry in one of Peter O'Reilly's diaries in the Provincial Archives
for May 24, 1866, reveals something of his feeling: "... [at French
Creek] . . . Lovely day—but not the least attempt at keeping the Queen's
birthday. No flag to hoist & not a lb of pow[d]er in camp to fire off an
anvil."   MS., Archives of B.C.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
61 62 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
power in a new country. Some of their number, particularly in
the Island colony, were political reformers, working to restrain
the power of the governor and to establish responsible government. Strong individualists, they either formed firm friendships
with their compatriots or exerted the Irishman's privilege of
" never speaking well of each other." No love was lost, for
example, between Governor Arthur Edward Kennedyand Editor
Leonard McClure. The Irish group of Civil Servants were
Anglican by background.4 Some of them were indifferent when
it came to religious observance—although they were sometimes
irritated by what they felt was interference on the part of the
Catholic priests in matters concerning the Indians—while others
became involved in the dispute concerning the clergy reserve on
Vancouver Island.
Most of them dearly loved social life and were punctilious in
observing the niceties of the rules that prevailed at home. Peter
O'Reilly carefully paid his respects to His Excellency whenever
he was at the capital and thoroughly enjoyed the balls and
dinners at the Governor's residence. A. C. Elliott, on the other
hand, criticized Governor Seymour for spending " all his salary
& half as much more which made his rule popular."5 Away from
the capital, riding the long trails to the mining camps and living
in their isolated posts, they suffered from loneliness. With the
Indians and miners they were unusually successful in establishing
friendly relations, and most of them were respected for their
sense of fair play, their sensitivity, and their displays of
The first Irishman to reside permanently in the Colony of
Vancouver Island seems to have been Joseph Despard Pemberton,6 a Trinity College man and a grandson of a Lord Mayor of
Dublin, who was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1851
as colonial surveyor and engineer.   Early in 1855 he returned
(4) Peter O'Reilly would appear to be the one exception, for he had
renounced his allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church and had become a
Protestant before leaving Ireland, according to a letter written by J. G.
Portlock to Colonel R. C. Moody, January 29, 1859, MS., Archives of B.C.
(5) A. C. Elliott, British Columbia Politics, p. 4. A photostat of this
M.S. prepared for H. H. Bancroft is in the Archives of B.C.
(6) Susan H. Sampson, " My Father, Joseph Despard Pemberton,"
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VIII (1944), pp. 111-125. ' 9
Arthur Edward Kennedy, Governor of Vancouver
Island, 1864-1866. John Carmichael Haynes. 1950 Some Irish Figures 63
home on furlough and was, presumably, instrumental in persuading both his sister, Susan, later to become lady principal of
Angela College, and his uncle, Augustus Frederick Pemberton,
to come to Vancouver Island. Miss Susan, along with Miss
Emmeline Tod, came passenger in the Princess Royal and was
apparently accompanied by her uncle. She arrived at Esquimalt
in mid-December, 1855,7 at approximately the same time as her
brother, who had chosen the Nicaragua route for his return
to the colony.8 Augustus F. Pemberton was chosen by Governor
Douglas to organize a police force on Vancouver Island in 18589
and J. D. Pemberton became Surveyor-General of Vancouver
Island in October, 1861.10
When the Mainland colony was being organized, the Colonial
Secretary, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, wrote to Douglas:—
I consider it of great importance to the general social welfare and dignity
of the Colony that gentlemen should be encouraged to come from this Kingdom, not as mere adventurers seeking employment, but in the hope of obtaining professional occupations for which they are calculated, such for instance,
as Stipendiary Magistrates, or Gold Commissioners.11
He sent a number of letters of introduction to Douglas, including
four for Irishmen—John Boles Gaggin, formerly lieutenant in
the Royal Cork Artillery Militia; A. C. Elliott, a member of the
English Bar;   Peter O'Reilly, retired member of the Revenue
(7) The date of the arrival of the Princess Royal is given by Robert
Melrose in his Diary as December 17, 1855, as reprinted in British Columbia
Historical Quarterly, VII (1943), p. 218. The Diary of Augustus F. Pemberton covering the period December 23, 1855, to August 3, 1858, MS.,
Archives of B.C., also confirms this date. See also N. deB. Lugrin, Pioneer
Women of Vancouver Island, Victoria, 1928, pp. 33-34.
(8) In his Facts and Figures relating to Vancouver Island and British
Columbia, London, 1860, pp. 84-96, Pemberton outlines the pros and cons
of the several routes available at that time. Presumably he sailed from
England about October 27. The steamer Cortes brought him to San Francisco from Central America on December 4, and as the Columbia left four
days later for Qregon, no doubt he continued his northward journey in her.
See San Francisco Daily Alta California, December 5 and 9, 1855.
(9) Douglas to Lytton, December 11, 1858, MS. Letterbook copy in
Archives of B.C.
(10) Original commission in the Archives of B.C.
(11) Lytton to Douglas, September 16, 1858, Papers Relative to the
Affairs of British Columbia, Part I (Cmd. 2476), London, 1859, p. 66.
Hereafter cited as B.C. Papers. 64 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
Police in Ireland; and Thomas Elwyn, eldest son of Lieutenant-
General Elwyn of the Royal Artillery.12 They seem to have made
up part of the group referred to by Gilbert Malcolm Sproat as
recommendees of Chichester Samuel Parkinson-Fortescue, at the
time Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, who was to
succeed Sir Robert Peel as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1865.
Sproat says that Fortescue's nominations were " over-numerous
and followed by expectants " but that those he supported " were
generally men of a good class."13 The four men were to secure
official appointments of the type that Lytton had suggested.
Prior to the arrival of the above-mentioned, Chartres Brew,
after a number of vicissitudes, reached Victoria on November 8,
1858.14 He was then almost 33 years of age, having been born
on December 31, 1815, at Corsfin, County Clare. He had had
fourteen years' experience in the Irish Constabulary, had served
with distinction in the Crimean War, and in 1857 held the position of Inspector in the Constabulary in the City of Cork. Lytton
wished to give the impression that the Royal Engineers were
being sent to British Columbia for such practical purposes as
surveying and road-building and that they were not primarily
a military force.15 At the same time he realized the necessity
of having a police force to maintain law and order among the
miners.   With this in mind he wrote Douglas:—
(12) Original letters of introduction in the Archives of B.C.
(13) G. M. Sproat, Miscellaneous Memoranda, MS., Archives of B.C.
Sproat wrote further: " The ornament and head of that regime was an
intellectual, picturesque and friendly Irishman, Chichester Samuel Parkinson-Fortescue." Parkinson-Fortescue was Under-Secretary of State for
the Colonies under Palmerston in 1857-58 and 1859-65 and Chief Secretary
for Ireland, 1865-66. He had an intimate connection with such reforms as
the Disestablishment of the Irish Church and Gladstone's Land Act. See
Dictionary of National Biography, Supplement, London, 1901, Vol. II, pp.
(14) After being appointed head of the police department by Lytton,
Brew left Southampton for New York in the Austria to proceed across the
Isthmus of Panama to Victoria. The tenth day out, when four days from
New York, the steamer was burned and Brew lost all his money and papers.
He was rescued by a French ship, taken to Halifax, where the Executive
Council advanced him £100. Brew to Douglas, November 11, 1858, Brew'
Letters, MS., Archives of B.C.
(15) Lytton to Douglas, July 31, 1858, B.C. Papers, Part I, p. 45. 1950 Some Irish Figures 65
It is by the establishment of this Civil Constabulary, with a sufficient staff
of Stipendiary Magistrates, that I would wish the Colonists to co-operate
with the Government in the requisite protection to life and property. Hence
I have sent to you the most experienced and trustworthy person I could
select amongst the Irish Constabulary (a body of men peculiarly distinguished for efficiency), to serve as Inspector of the Police, and to carry out
your Instructions for the formation of a civil force of that character.16
It was Lytton's intention that Brew should raise his force in
the colony, but this proved an impossible project in a country
where goldfields acted as a powerful magnet for labour. Brew
had ambitious plans for the establishment of a force of 150 men.17
Douglas, however, had been warned that the new colony must be
self-supporting. He therefore asked that 60 properly equipped
members of the Irish Constabulary be sent out to serve as the
nucleus for a force of 100 men recruited in the country from
" a less reliable element."18 After the Ned McGowan " war " he
pressed for a force of 150 men. This plan was not given up by
the Governor until July, 1859, after a questionnaire had been
sent him by the Inspector-General of the Irish Constabulary
which made clear the expense involved in such a project and
after he had been told by the Colonial Secretary that the colonists
would have to foot the bill. Before the matter was settled,
Douglas decided to use Brew to replace Richard Hicks, the
Assistant Gold Commissioner at Yale. Brew, who had not been
consulted, refused on the ground that the new responsibility
would interfere with his duty as Chief Inspector of Police. In
January, 1859, however, he agreed to accept the appointment
as Chief Gold Commissioner, on the understanding that the
appointment was a temporary one, made necessary by the
maladministration of P. B. Whannell and George Perrier.19 In
this capacity Brew carried out his duties so ably that eighty
miners of Hill's Bar paid the following tribute to him on May
23, 1859 :—
(16) Lytton to Douglas, October 16, 1858, B.C. Papers, Part I, p. 70.
(17) Brew to Douglas, December 29, 1858, Brew Letters, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(18) Douglas to Lytton, December 27, 1858, B.C. Papers, Part II (Cmd.
2578), London, 1859, p. 48.
(19) Brew to Moody, January 12, 1859, Brew Letters, MS., Archives of
B.C. 66 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
Your discriminating judgment and practical sagacity have been evinced in
many exciting questions wherein the rights of miners have conflicted. In
their settlement, honesty and common sense were the prominent characteristics of your decisions, and for them, sir, we desire to thank you. The habits
and customs of immigrants to new countries — particularly gold-bearing
countries—are so diversified, that it is indeed one of the most difficult things
for those in power to mete out justice to all, and not incur the enmity of some.
To do so is the act of no ordinary mind, and evinces an intimate knowledge
of human nature. You have done the first, sir, and not only avoided the
latter, but have retained the kind feelings and respect of all.20
Brew was not too happy in his duties. He objected to the
system of miners' licences and would have preferred the levying
of an export duty on gold as a means of obtaining revenue—
a system which finally went into effect under Governor Seymour—and he had, after all, been appointed Inspector of Police.
Moreover, no attention had been paid to his request for an
allowance to keep horses, to pay his travelling expenses, or to
pay house-rent and the wages of a servant.21 Not until June did
Douglas release him from the post to which he had been commandeered, and then he was told he could only employ the
number of constables who were " absolutely & indispensably
necessary."22 By October, Brew gave up the struggle and suggested that he take over the post of Chief Magistrate at New
Westminster in addition to carrying on his duties as head of the
police department. While he still retained his original title, he
had only a handful of men under him and, by 1864, declared that
the management of the police in other parts of the colony was
not supervised by him.23 In actual fact his office was no higher
than that of the other Magistrates, who, like him, served as
policemen at their stations.
Brew had told Douglas on December 29, 1858, that he had
" no doubt but if the men of the Irish Constabulary consider the
rate of pay liberal a number of them would come out to the
(20) Victoria Weekly Gazette, June 4, 1859.
(21) Brew later brought out his sister, Augusta, to keep house for him,
but she soon married A. F. Pemberton.    Victoria Colonist, August 16, 1861.
(22) W. A. G. Young to Brew, June 17, 1859, B.C., Colonial Secretary's
Letterbook, MS., Archives of B.C.
(23) Brew^o Young, November 24, 1864, Brew Letters, MS., Archives
of B.C. 1950 Some Irish Figures 67
Colony at their own expense."24 The same day he sent the
Governor a letter introducing John Carmichael Haynes, who, on
his arrival in Victoria on Christmas Day, had applied to Brew
for an appointment in the police force. Haynes had testimonials
signed by the Mayor and Magistrates of Cork.25 He was immediately appointed a constable to serve under Brew and accompanied Brew and Captain J. M. Grant of the Royal Engineers to
Yale, arriving there on January 17, 1859. In March, Haynes
was put to work collecting miners' licences between Yale and
Hope, and there he remained until October, 1860, when he was
sent to assist William George Cox, Collector of Customs at
Rock Creek.
Haynes, like most Irishmen of his class, was a keen horseman.
His daughter has this to say of him:—
Judge Haynes was an expert horseman, and to him a good mount was
one of the necessities of life. During nearly thirty years of duty in the
Similkameen, Okanagan, and Kootenay districts he invariably rode the finest
horses he could buy. He judged a horse and loved it, as only one can who
has been brought up to follow the hounds, to enter the steeplechase, and later
to ride many hundreds of miles over mountain trails to hold Court, to wa-wa
with the Indians, to visit mines, and to keep law and order in every part of
a vast district.
On horseback he invariably appeared as if " riding in the Row," with
his Irish tweed coat, riding breeches, and English riding boots. An army
helmet was part of the picture in summer; a felt hat at other seasons—
never a Stetson or " cow-boy." His horse was well groomed, its tail docked,
and its bridle and bit polished and shining.26
William George Cox was another Irishman. He, too, reached
Vancouver Island in December, 1858, and was almost immediately
employed as constable at Yale until July, 1859. His friend, J. D.
Pemberton, had recommended him to Brew, and he also carried
what Brew called " very high testimonials."27   He had left behind
(24) Brew to Douglas, December 29, 1858, Brew Letters, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(25) Ibid.
(26) Hester E. White, "John Carmichael Haynes," British Columbia
Historical Quarterly, IV (1940), pp. 195-196.
(27) "Mr. Cox holds very high testimonials; he is a good clerk and
accountant and was of the greatest assistance to me in my examination of
Mr. Hicks's accounts and books." Brew to Moody, February 20, 1859, Brew
Letters, MS., Archives of B.C. Brew recommended Cox's appointment as
Revenue Officer. 68 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
him in Ireland a broken-hearted mother, who regretted his
unhappy marriage and his unfortunate habit of accumulating
debts, and brothers who were torn between envy of the adventurous life he led in British Columbia and their duty to remind
him of the need to reform his ways. Cox's generosity—while in
Ireland he showered his mother with extravagant gifts although
he avoided dining with her—and his affectionate nature were, as
his mother and brothers reminded him, likely to bring about his
downfall. In this they were wrong, for it was his neglect of his
wife in Ireland, combined with his indiscretion in arousing the
hostility of Governor Seymour, which forced his retirement from
the colony at the height of his popularity.28
Cox seems to have retained an affectionate regard for his
mother and his brothers, for he treasured such letters as the
following, written by one of his brothers:—
It is true dear William that I should thank you for the trouble you took
in writing so long and entertaining description of the Indians. It was
exceedingly kind [of you] to write so much and as I know all is true that
you have said I value very highly the paper. I intend making up a paper
by selecting parts out of your other letters, many of which are most interesting as descriptive of the habits, customs & manners of the people of
B [ritish] Columbia, which is now becoming a very notable place. Your last
is amusing beyond anny [sic] thing, and I shall in my paper introduce
almost every word of it with regard to the Indians. Your description of
the ascent and descent of the occupants of the sweat houses or bath caused
no little amusement to us and to others too, but of course the cream of the
thing in the latter instance must be omitted (Habiliments). But surely
these are not the habits of Indians that the grand name of " St. Paul" is
affixed to and that you live with? I could not imagine this or anything but
what is nice & delicate and in native simplicity refined in that girl you
speak so sweetly of. To tell the truth about that affair. I think you could
not help loving dearly such softness & tenderness—in fact a girl of such
amiability in parts of the globe so rude & rough & savage could not but
have an influence on your susceptible and easily affected heart but although
I say this and no doubt would myself under the influence that you are
unhappily placed in perhaps fail in acting as I ought yet I say that the
thing is unfortunate, may God in his answer to our constant messages for
you my dearest brother deliver you out of this difficult and trying position,
with one you hate at home and with one you love abroad. What can you do?
The temptation is tremendous and I can only say again God deliver you
.  .   .   faith tells us God loves you too— and will show it to all that He loves
(28)  Correspondence of Susannah and  Sophia Cox and others, MS.,
Archives of B.C. 1950 Some Irish Figures 69
you in his own good time. But do you ever read his book? for it is no
matter how you are or what you are, read his word, believe & your sin shall
be blotted out.29
In spite of his weaknesses, Douglas considered Cox " peculiarly
well adapted for frontier service, where tact and a resolute will
are indispensable qualities in managing the rough characters,
met with there."30 He employed him as Deputy Collector of
Customs at Rock Creek in July, 1859, and rewarded him with
the office of Magistrate when he conducted his duties in that post
All the members of this Irish group were given responsible
positions by Douglas. Gaggin served as constable at Yale until
October, 1859, and was then appointed Magistrate and Assistant
Gold Commissioner at Douglas, where he remained until 1863.
O'Reilly was appointed Justice of the Peace and Revenue Collector at Hope in 1859; later that- same year he became High
Sheriff of British Columbia. In 1860 he received his appointment as County Court Judge31 and three years later became Gold
Commissioner for Cariboo District. In 1866, in this same
capacity, he was transferred to the District of Columbia and
Kootenay, and in 1868 he became Police Magistrate, succeeding
Chartres Brew, who had been sent to Cariboo as Gold Commissioner. Elliott was the first to be honoured with the title of
" County Court Judge," a position he held at Yale in 1860 shortly
after his arrival.32 As Judge at Yale it was said that he
" administered justice with a fearless hand, and soon held the
discordant elements well in check."83 He was the only trained
lawyer in the group and he was given additional pay. In June,
1861, he became Gold Commissioner and Stipendiary Magistrate
at Yale, in 1863 Magistrate of Cariboo, and in 1867 High Sheriff
(29) Incomplete and unsigned letter to W. G. Cox, September 21, 1860,
MS., Archives of B.C.
• (30) James Douglas, Confidential Reports on Officers, MS., Archives of
B.C. Cox was not made a County Court Judge until October, 1867. Young
to Cox, October 3, 1867, AfS., Archives of B.C.
(31) In his Confidential Report on Officers, MS., Archives of B.C.,
Douglas wrote of O'Reilly: " He is a gentleman of excellent character, high
moral worth, an able, active resolute Magistrate."
(32) The Magistrates at Hope, Lytton, Yale, and Cayoosh (Lillooet)
were all appointed County Court Judges by July, 1861.
(33) Victoria Colonist, April 11, 1889. 70 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
of British Columbia, and eventually, in 1874, succeeded A. F.
Pemberton as Police Magistrate at Victoria. Elwyn, appointed
Gold Commissioner and Stipendiary Magistrate at Lillooet in
June, 1859, and soon after County Court Judge, resigned in
December, 1862, rather than give up his interest in his claim at
Williams Creek. He was in charge of the gold escorts of 1861
and 1863. In 1864 he was second in command of the company
raised by Brew at New Westminster to put down the Chilcotin
uprising. He acted as Stipendiary Magistrate in 1869 when
the survey party for Western Union Telegraph examined the
country from Quesnelmouth to the forks of the Skeena River.
Brew's duties were multifarious.34 In addition to being Chief
Gold Commissioner and Inspector of Police, he was made Stipendiary Magistrate at New Westminster in 1863. Later that year
he was appointed by Douglas a member of the first Legislative
Council of British Columbia. When the District of Douglas was
amalgamated with that of New Westminster in 1866, his magisterial duties were increased. He was transferred from New
Westminster to Cariboo and took up residence at Richfield during
1867. The harshness of the climate as well as the arduous
duties caused a breakdown in his health and he died on May, 31,
1870, in his fifty-fifth year. At his death the Cariboo Sentinel
As the Magistrate and Gold Commissioner for Cariboo, Mr. Brew secured
the esteem and respect of the whole community by his impartiality and
manifest intention to do justice in all matters brought before him. As an
individual he displayed much interest in the natural productions and
resources of the colony, collecting specimens and bringing them into notice,
encouraging scientific research, and in so doing showed that he possessed
a large stock of useful and general knowledge.^
(34) In August, 1862, he became Acting-Treasurer of British Columbia
during Captain William D. Gossett's absence in Europe on sick-leave. He
was made Acting Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works in November,
1863, on Colonel R. C. Moody's retirement. He then had the right to place
after his name the following initials: CLP. (Chief Inspector of Police),
C.G.C. (Chief Gold Commissioner), J.S.D.C. (Judge of the Small Debts
Court), J.P. (Justice of the Peace), A.C.T. (Acting Colonial Treasurer),
and A.C.C.L. & W. (Acting Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works).
Ibid., November 19, 1863.
(35) Barkerville Cariboo Sentinel, June 4, 1870. 1950 Some Irish Figures 71
The Victoria Colonist echoed these sentiments:—
During eleven years and upwards that he has held an office in this colony
the deceased has earned a high reputation for integrity of character and
uprightness of purpose, and during that period he has proved a true friend
to many a needy fellow-creature.36
On his tombstone in the historic little cemetery near Barkerville,
in words attributed to Chief Justice Matthew Baillie Begbie,
there appears the following tribute to a memorable figure:
"A man imperturbable in courage and temper, endowed with
a great and varied administrative capacity, most ready wit, most
pure integrity, and a most humane heart."87
Haynes, as we have seen, had served at Yale as constable in
1859 and as Collector of Revenue between Yale and Hope during
part of that year and 1860. He assisted Cox in this capacity at
Rock Creek in 1860 and was made Revenue Officer there in 1863,
moving in July, 1864, to Wild Horse Creek.38 In the course of
that year he became a Magistrate and member of the Legislative
Council, and the following year he was made Assistant Gold
Commissioner and Deputy Collector of Customs. He was a
member of the Legislative Council again in 1866 and served at
Wild Horse Creek from 1870 until 1872.39 During his service
in the Interior of the colony, Cox established the customs house
at Similkameen in 1862. In 1863 he was made Magistrate at
Kamloops and later in the year became Assistant Gold Commissioner of Cariboo. He was sent to the Big Bend country and
Kootenay in 1867 and represented the latter district in the
Legislative Council of 1867.
Arthur W. Vowell joined this group of Civil Servants in
1864.40 A native of Clonmel, County Tipperary, he was the son
of a prominent Irish lawyer and had served as lieutenant in the
Irish Militia.   After he had tried his fortune at mining in Cari-
(36) Victoria Colonist, June 12, 1870.
(37) From a photograph of the grave, Archives of B.C.
(38) Haynes was appointed Justice of the Peace in June, 1864. A. N.
Birch to Haynes, June 14, 1864, AfS. Letterbook, Archives of B.C.
(39) For details concerning Haynes' career, see Hester E. White, " John
Carmichael Haynes," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, IV (1940), pp.
(40) For further information on Vowell see R. E. Gosnell, A History of
British Columbia, n.p., 1906, pp. 453-455. 72 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
boo, he applied for employment in the government service. He
was made chief constable at Big Bend in 1866 and held the
position until after Confederation, when he became Gold Commissioner and Stipendiary Magistrate in the Kootenay District.
Later he served in similar capacities in Omineca and Cassiar,
succeeding O'Reilly as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1889.
It would be wrong, of course, to give the impression that all
the posts of the type mentioned were filled by Irishmen, but one
cannot but be struck by the preponderance of men of Irish
nationality in the colonial Civil Service, particularly in the
colony of British Columbia. When one remembers that there
were never more than seven Justices of the Peace in the colony
at one time, Irish representation is seen to be large. It is well to
remember, too, that at the time they served as Justices of the
Peace, they also acted in other capacities. This office was usually
combined with that of Gold Commissioner, which involved
responsibility for collecting miners' licences, keeping records of
claims and water rights, and settling disputes. They were also,
on occasion, collectors of customs duties. They acted as Coroners, and they presided over the Small Debts Courts, where
cases involving the collection of debts and claims not exceeding
£50 were heard. In addition, they served unofficially as Indian
Agents and part of their work after the great rush to Cariboo
was over was the delimiting of Indian reserves. Over and above
all these duties, administrative and judicial, some of them had
to undertake executive duties after the Legislative Council was
established in the Mainland colony in 1863.
Not a little credit should go to Irish officials for the peace
that prevailed in the mining fields. They seem to have had
a particular gift for settling disputes which might have become
inflammable. Much of their success was due to their understanding of human foibles and to their sense of humour. Cox, for
example, was kindly and sympathetic with the unfortunate, and
was known to pay a fine himself rather than to commit a miner
to prison.41 He once settled a dispute by having the rival claimants run a race from the Court-house to the claim each felt was
his own. He was also able to defend his own honour with his
fists, a course he took on one occasion when an American refused
(41)  Victoria Colonist, November 13, 1878. 1950 Some Irish Figures 73
to recognize his position and authority as Revenue Officer. In
spite of his unorthodox methods of applying the law, he was
extremely popular with the miners.42 O'Reilly was likewise.
He is said to have kept peace in the Kootenay by announcing
on his arrival there: " Now, boys, there must be no shooting,
for if there is shooting, there will surely be hanging."43
These men could also carry out duties with a flourish, as
Brew and Cox demonstrated in the case of the Chilcotin uprising
of 1864. The grateful Government of British Columbia, although
it had incurred a heavy debt—£80,000—in rounding up the
murderers, presented both Brew and Cox with silver services.
Each consisted of a " tray, urn, coffee pot, tea-pot, sugar-bowl,
slop-bowl and cream pitcher," and were of American coin silver.
They had been imported from San Francisco and were valued
at $2,000.44 Brew would have undoubtedly have preferred a good
horse or an increase in wages so that he could keep a servant,
and Cox's menage was hardly the place for such elegance, but
the incident is of interest since it gives some indication of the
impression that had been created of their social background.
It is common knowledge that after the Legislative Council
of British Columbia was set up, Governor Seymour dominated
the official element of which it was largely composed. It is
unlikely that Cox, who had assisted in a drive to keep a library
in existence at Richfield, appreciated Seymour's attempt to block
the establishment of a public school system on the Mainland.
On one question Cox and Seymour definitely split: after the
union of the colonies in 1866 Seymour wanted the capital to be
at New Westminster. One of the Magistrates, William Hales
Franklyn, who had been in danger of losing his post at Nanaimo
and who could benefit by official favour, sided with the Governor.
The question came before the Legislative Council on April 2,
(42) " Cox governed more in Cariboo by Suaviter in modo than the
fortiter in re and was liked by the Miners, for he did not put on much
dignity—but was socially inclined—and of course fell in with a woman.
Chinamen he used to swear [in] by ordering them to chop of [f] a Cock[']s
head—or break a plate. What did you do with the cock. It became the
property of the Court and I sent him home for dinner." John Sebastian
Helmcken Reminiscences, MS., Archives of B.C., Part V, p. 51.
(43) Scholefield and Howay, op. cit, Vol. II, p. 670.
(44) Victoria Colonist, January 10, 1865, and September 11, 1870. 74 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
1868.    Fourteen members  of the  Council,  including  Elwyn,
Walkem (another Irishman), Pemberton, O'Reilly, J. W. Trutch
(O'Reilly's brother-in-law), and Cox voted in favour of Victoria
and only five for New Westminster.    According to Dr. J. S.
Helmcken there had been little prospect of such'a substantial
majority for the Island site.    His account of how the victory
was won is amusing:—
Cox was with us—the British Lion [Franklyn] against. The debate came
on at last. Noah[']s Ark was full of Westminster people and a few
strangers. Our arguments were that they had already decided that it was
necessary that all the chief departments should be there—Next the difficulty
of navigating the Fraser—thirdly, the presence of H M s Navy at Esqui-
mault and last of all the general good. It is unnecessary to go over these or
those on the other side, but it soon became evident that all the official members were not tied and indeed each one seemed to have free choice—but
everyone knew Seymour's predilections—at least what were or had been his
public utterances before Union. ... Of course everyone was earnest and
serious, the British Lion among the number, altho opposed to the resolution,
he was genial, near sighted and liked a drop of the nectar occasionally.
It so happened that Noah[']s Ark was cold—but this ark unlike the original
had a smoking addition and a fire attached. Of course during the debate
members adjourned for a rest to the attachment. The British Lion had
been at Kerr[']s house during the morning to be taken care of! However
in the middle of the day, he made his appearance apparently all right—for
his side. His turn came—he pulled out of his pocket a number of loose
sheets of foolscap, so we knew we were in for a long dissertation. Cox sat
on his right—O'Reilly on his left, the Lion a little shaky. Nevertheless on
with his specs—the sheets in proper order are on the table. Mr. President.
When I went up the Hoogley forty years ago, the navigation was very
intricate, the river full of shoals and sandbank [s], a very great deal worse
than Fraser River. Look at the Hoogley now—these shoals have been
cleared away and ships now without any difficulty can go to Calcutta. The
sandheads and shoals in the Fraser can and will be removed as trade
increases and necessity demands, and then Westminster will be as easily
reached as Calcutta is now. At this point the Lion put aside the sheet he
had recited and looked around—Cox in the twinkling of an eye put it back
again. So the Lion went on—Mr. President, when I went up the Hoogley,
forty years ago—&c to the end. The same turn over and the same replacement by Cox—so again Mr. President when I went up the Hoogley &c—the
same look round for admiration—the Lion had laid down his spectacles.
Cox in a moment pressed the glasses out! The Lion put them on—but now
could not see the Hoogley or anything else, so he wiped them with his
handkerchief and put them on again—he looked puzzled that he could not
read! Well, we must not laugh—the room was full of people—and we must
burst—so I proposed a recess for half an hour—contrary to rule of course. 1950 Some Irish Figures 75
We all adjourned to the annex—and burst! Kerr was there with hot
water and whisky—and at all events the Lion took some more.
The half hour expired—we all returned to the chamber, as grave as
Councilmen ought to be—the Lion claims to have the floor—vociferous cries
of no no &c small uproar during which the Lion subsides—growling!   .   .   .
It will not excite surprise to learn that the good people were exasperated
and astonished at the, to them, unexpected turn of events. They had felt
certain that the Governor would have directed the decision and even now
many believed that the Resolution for removal of the Seat of Government
would be of none effect. We got to the Hotel safely, but had more angry
looks and scowls than pleasant. After dinner Cox, Pemberton, Southgate,
Stamp and I were sitting smoking in the back room—not a little bit satisfied
when . . . the landlord came in a little frightened, saying, you had better
not go outside! There is a crowd waiting for you and threaten to be
■revenged on you but particularly Cox.*5
By the end of the year the Governor had received an inquiry
from Cox's estranged wife in Ireland about her husband's activities and urging that pressure be put on him to assist in her support.46 The following January Seymour had a reply sent stating
that Cox was no longer in government employ.47 However, in
April a complimentary dinner was tendered to him in Victoria
as " a deserved compliment to the genial gentleman."48 Cox went
to San Francisco, where he attempted to maintain himself as an
artist, and although his work was much admired in British
Columbia, only his friend, A. C. Elliott, now Premier of the
Province, would buy any of it. In September, 1877, he sent one
of his paintings to Victoria to be raffled. The following year
Cox died in California at the age of 56.49
Closely allied in background and interests with the Irish
officials were two of the three army officers50 who qualified under
(45) J. S. Helmcken Reminiscences, MS., Archives of B.C., Part V, pp.
36, 38-42. In addition, Helmcken recorded: " We knew that Cox would
vote with us on the Capital question, provided he had not to give his official
vote by direction. He never received any direction and as he found other
officials ready to vote with us, he joined them and did so, but no one could
foretell the outcome until the final vote."   Ibid., Part V, pp. 48—49.
(46) Mrs. W. G. Cox to Governor Seymour, November 5, 1868, MS.,
Archives of B.C.
(47) W. A. G. Young to Mrs. W. G. Cox, January 4, 1869, Colonial Secretary's Miscellaneous Letterbook, MS., Archives of B.C.
(48) Victoria Colonist, April 21, 1869.
(49) Ibid., November 13, 1878.
(50) The third was Captain Cavendish Venables, probably a Scot, who
had served in the 74th Highlanders.    He took up land on the trail from 76 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
a proclamation of 1861 to hold military grants.51 Captain Charles
Frederick Houghton, who had purchased his discharge from the
20th Regiment of Foot of the Imperial Army in 1863,52 came to
British Columbia in September of that year expecting to take
up a grant of 1,440 acres in the Okanagan Valley. Previously
Douglas had had difficulty with government officials who bought
land for speculative purposes. He had hit upon the stratagem
of setting aside government reserves wherever he felt there was
a site likely to prove auriferous or strategic. By the time Houghton arrived, the Military Settlers Proclamation had been superseded by the Military and Naval Settlers' Act, 1863, and he found
that he was entitled to a mere 300 acres under the new regulations. The land he chose at the head of Okanagan Lake was
within a government reserve near the northern arm of the lake,
and it was not until 1872 that his title to this land was recognized.58 In the meantime he had pre-empted and purchased some
600 additional acres, and he also effected an exchange with the
Vernon brothers who had accompanied him.54 His pre-emption
on Coldstream Creek formed the nucleus of the Coldstream
Ranch, made famous under the ownership of Lord Aberdeen
some thirty years later. So well known was he in the district
that Trutch's 1871 map of British Columbia marked the location
of his holdings as " Houghton's Coldstream." Houghton returned
to army life in 1873, when he became Deputy Adjutant-General
of British Columbia and later he held similar offices in Manitoba
and Quebec. He served with distinction in the Riel Rebellion
and eventually returned to Victoria, where he died on August
13, 1898.55
Lytton to Bonaparte River, about 12 miles from Cook's Ferry on the
Thompson River. Like Houghton and Martley, he had some trouble before
his claim was recognized. He was also accompanied by his brother,
T. Evelyn Venables.
(51) Proclamation No. 3 of 1861 of the colony of British Columbia.
Similar grants were made in Upper Canada in 1815 to British army officers
that had served in the War of 1812.
(52) W. F. Foster to James Douglas, July 13, 1863, MS., Archives of
(53) F. W. Laing, Colonial Farm Settlers on the Mainland of British
Columbia, 1858-1871, Typescript in Archives Of B.C., p. 455.
(54) Ibid., p. 456.
(55) Victoria Colonist, August 14, 1898. For further information on
Houghton, see  Margaret A.  Ormsby, " Captain  Houghton's  Exploratory 1950 Some Irish Figures 77
Another of these military settlers was Captain John Martley,
who sold his commission in the 9th Foot in February, 1861,66
and applied for a military grant in British Columbia. He also
experienced difficulties in obtaining his land grant on Pavilion
Mountain, and it was not until February, 1864, that his right
was recognized.57 In the meantime he pre-empted land in the
name of his wife, his daughter, and his 2-year-old son. Like
Houghton, he was a great landed proprietor who had little ready
cash. By May, 1866, he was writing the Governor from " The
Grange " asking for an appointment, stating " for the last five
years I have been trying to make two blades of grass grow,
where one grew before " and claiming that he was sure the
Governor would know " that the man who succeeds in doing this
deserves well of his country."58 He was made a Justice of the
Peace. In this role he was pompous and self-important. On one
occasion, when irritated by the punishment meted out by Father
Chirouse to an Indian woman, he threatened the priest with a
prison term.59 Martley was something of a poet and was the
author of Songs of the Cascades. After his death the following
poem was found among his possessions:—
Beloved Earth, now joy and sorrow
Have ended, and on Thy breast
I lay me down in peace to rest
Until the dawning of to-morrow.
Be merciful to me, O Lord!
To me, a sinner, fellow man
Whom I have wronged;  Now, if you can
Forgive the wrongful deed or word.
If Thou has wronged me, cease to grieve,
For here, by all my hopes of Heaven,
Most freely is the wrong forgiven;
Farewell, this quiet hand receive.80
Trip, 1864," Thirteenth Report of the Okanagan Historical Society, Vernon,
1949, pp. 38-44.
(56) W. F. Foster to James Douglas, July 23, 1861, Transcript, Archives
of B.C.
(57) F. W. Laing, op. cit, p. 260.
(58) John Martley to Governor Seymour, May 2, 1866, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(59) Vancouver Province, May 5, 1924.
(60) Victoria Colonist, November 3, 1896. 78 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
Houghton had been accompanied by two Irish friends, also
ex-army officers, Charles A. and Forbes George Vernon, of Clon-
tarf Castle, Dublin. They, too, pre-empted and purchased large
holdings of land, and eventually their Coldstream Ranch, the first
section of which had been owned by Houghton, contained more
than 13,000 acres. Forbes G. Vernon later became Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works in the Elliott Administration, and
the City of Vernon, named after him, perpetuates his association
with the Okanagan District.61
Near the Vernons lived E. J. Tronson, son of the Inspector of
Police of Wellmouth, Kilkenny, who had sailed around the Horn
in 1864. He started out for Big Bend in 1868 but in Kamloops
met Houghton and was persuaded by him to take up land in
Priest's Valley.62 Like so many of his friends, Tronson was soon
made Justice of the Peace. At the southern end of Okanagan
Lake was Thomas Ellis, protege of Peter O'Reilly, who kept an
eye on him for his father, " the Major." Ellis and Andrew Mc-
Farland took up land in 1867, and, although the partnership was
broken in 1870, it was not too long before Ellis had a ranch of
10,000 acres.63 Farther south, John Carmichael Haynes took out
his first pre-emption in August, 1869, near the head of Osoyoos
Lake. After his death in 1888 over 20,000 acres comprising his
estate were acquired by Ellis.64
Peter O'Reilly's long and lonely trips to the Kootenay country
in 1867, 1868, and 1869 were made bearable by the fact that
coming and going he could drop in at" Tommy's " (Thomas Ellis)
and see his friends, Haynes, Houghton, and the Vernons.65 He
would admire the bands of cattle these ranchers were building up.
One or other of his friends would nearly always contrive to ride
35 or 40 miles with him—sometimes all the way to Cornwall's,
where they would all hunt with the hounds—sometimes to Hope.
In spite of the rawness of the country they succeeded pretty well
in maintaining their former social standards.
(61) The story of the Vernon brothers is dealt with by R. E. Gosnell,
op. cit, pp. 650, 651, 693-695.
(62) F. W. Laing, op. cit, p. 459.
(63) Ibid., pp. 486-487.
(64) Ibid., p. 488.
(65) See entries in Peter O'Reilly Diaries for 1867-1869, MS., Archives
of B.C., passim. 1950 Some Irish Figures 79
An Irishman of much the same type as the Irish officials and
landholders of the Mainland was Governor Edward Kennedy of
Vancouver Island, who came to Victoria in 1864. Sproat refers
to him as "an Irish gentleman of a good type." He, too, had
served in the army. He had also served with the Irish Board of
Works during the famine and had held a number of appointments in the diplomatic service. On his way across the Atlantic
to his new appointment in 1864 he gained a good deal of information about the colony from J. D. Pemberton, who travelled with
him. " In Captain Kennedy," wrote Sproat, " were suitably combined those tropical and Irish experiences and elements so much
valued by the Home Government in administering the commercial
and mining colonies on the Pacific seaboard. A handsomer man,
or a more courtly, or friendly, seldom could be encountered, yet it
was not easy for me, his inoffensive, personal friend, waiting the
announcement to dinner, to rid myself entirely from a suspicion
that I was in the guardroom, and that I deserved it."66
One of Kennedy's major trials was the opposition to his views
in connection with the civil list. He also came under criticism for
the purchase of Cary Castle as an official residence. Yet he has
never been given full credit for an honest administration, in the
course of which he exposed corruption and insisted on reform.
Sproat wrote of him:—
Governor Kennedy's career rather supports the opinion that many Irish, or,
stating it more broadly, Celtic, gentlemen have certain innate personal
qualifications for the governing of colonies and dependencies. The Englishmen, of course, as any Englishman will testify, is naturally the best possible
man for any official position anywhere, nevertheless, the high sense of honour,
quickness of apprehension, and courtesy of the Celt, together with his devotion to duty and general powers of entertainment, make him a formidable
competitor. The Lowland Scot—if a Lowland Scot may say so—though
with keen intelligence, seeing all round a subject, is as a rule, or at any rate,
often, too didactic in presenting his appreciations for the consideration of
his intellectual inferiors, or, in another word, the community. Moreover,
he has not, native to him, and cannot adopt, without becoming too familiar
the calm of the English, or the charm of the Irish manner.67
While Kennedy was in the colony, the " largest and most successful public entertainment that has ever taken place in Victoria "
(66) G. M. Sproat Miscellaneous Memoranda, MS., Archives of B.C.
(67) Ibid.
6 80 Margaret A. Ormsby Jan.-Apr.
was the St. Patrick's Day Ball given under his patronage in
March, 1865.   According to the Colonist:—
The scene presented when the large assemblage was set in motion by the
lively strains emanating from the excellent band of ten performers presided
over by Professor St. Clair was inspiring to a degree. The votaries of the
festive Goddess were probably too closely packed for the full enjoyment of
the recreation, but unintentional bumps and thumps were received and
apologized for with good grace, and everything went merrily and smoothly
until shortly after 12 o'clock when the company headed by the distinguished
patron and his family were ushered into supper. . . . Before rising His
Excellency in a very neat speech proposed a toast to the memory of St.
Patrick. He congratulated his countrymen upon having set the sensible
example of inviting the ladies to join in their celebration and spoke feelingly
of the additional charm lent by the presence of the fair sex to all festive
occasions as compared with the senseless custom of sitting down for several
hours to a dinner, talking " nothing," eating too much, and perhaps drinking
When the time came for his departure, there were, for the most
part, pleasant memories of the Governor, although during his
tenure in office many persons had been in disagreement with him.
" The Governor's family departed in a shower of tears," wrote
E. G. Alston, " 't was most affecting—entre nous, only an Irish
family could have got up such a scene. One would have thought
they had been beloved & revered all the time."69
Although the list of Irishmen could grow, mention will be
made of only a few others. Leonard McClure had a peripatetic
career in journalism on the Island and Mainland. He was one of
the leaders in the movement for representative government. He
is, probably, most remembered for the famous filibuster that he
carried out in the Legislative Assembly on April 23 and 24, 1866,
in an effort to prevent the Government from redeeming property
sold for taxes.70 Dr. James Trimble, a native of Tyrone, who had
been a surgeon in the Royal Navy, came to Victoria in 1858, and
from 1860 onward was active in the political life of the colony.
He was a close friend of A. C. Elliott. The Colonist referred to
him as " a man of fine presence and courtly manners; charitable
(68) Victoria Colonist, March 20, 1865.
(69) E. G. Alston to H. P. P. Crease, undated, MS., Archives of B.C.
(70) Victoria Colonist, April 24 and 25, 1866. See also Madge Wolfenden, " The Early Government Gazettes," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly' VII (1943), pp. 171-190. 1950 Some Irish Figures 81
to a fault, he was also capable of the warmest attachments, and a
friend once made he never lost."71
There were some scamps in the Irish camp. Men like De-
Courcey, of San Juan War fame,72 Felix O'Byrne, and the lawyer
O'Brien revealed some of the less desirable Irish characteristics.
On the other hand, there were clergymen who made their lives
examples for others—Rev. W. B. Crickmer, sent out from England with the first officials appointed for British Columbia in 1858
and who was stationed first at Derby73 and afterwards at Yale;
Rev. A. C. Garrett, Indian missionary in Victoria who also served
at Nanaimo and in the Cariboo ;74 Rev. C. T. Woods, who came to
Victoria in 1860 and became the first principal of the Collegiate
School while his wife was the first principal of Angela College ;75
and Rev. John Hall, who founded the first Presbyterian church
on Vancouver Island.76 There were also Irishmen among the
Overlanders of 1862—John Hunniford, Charles T. Cooney, and
the two Handcock brothers.77 In New Westminster there was a
merchant colony of Northern Ireland men—Francis Campbell
(who resided in Victoria also for many years), Thomas Cunningham, Andrew Haslam, John Reid, William Shannon, and others.78
Most of them were Presbyterians or Methodists, and many of
them were active in political life, supporting the cause of responsible government led by John Robson. There was another group
of Irishmen at the mouth of the Fraser River—the McCleery
brothers and Hugh McRoberts among others.   They, too, acquired
(71) Victoria Colonist, January 3, 1885.    After Confederation Dr. Trimble served as Speaker in the Legislature.
(72) For a full account of DeCourcey's adventures see D. W. Higgins,
The Mystic Spring, Toronto, 1904, pp. 256-270.
(73) Victoria Gazette, December 16, 1858.
(74) G. H. Cockburn, Some Persons and Places in Anglican Church.
History, Transcript, Archives of B.C., pp. 24, 25.    See also A. C. Garrett
Reminiscences, Transcript, Archives of B.C., passim.
(75) G. H. Cockburn, op. cit, p. 64.
(76) J.  C.  Goodfellow, "John Hall,  Pioneer Presbyterian in British
Columbia," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VII  (1943), pp. 31-48.
(77) M. S. Wade, The Overlanders of '62  [B.C. Archives Memoir No.
IX], Victoria, 1931, passim.
(78)/ J. B. Kerr, Biographical Dictionary of Well-known British Columbians, Vancouver, 1890, passim. 82 Margaret A. Ormsby
large estates.79 There were others, such as Walkem and McCreight and Hugh Nelson, whose important work was done after
the Provincial Government had been organized.
On the whole, the group of Irishmen who were here during
colonial days were colourful and interesting figures. Optimists
all, they helped to create faith in the country's future. They were
real empire-builders and showed in this instance, as in the case of
the Australian colonies, that British interests could be no better
served than by the Anglo-Irish.
Margaret A. Ormsby.
University op British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.
(79)  F. W. Laing, op. cit, p. 38. GOAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RIVER, 1903
In the history of British Columbia much has been recorded
concerning the search for gold. Relatively little attention has
been paid to the story of the coal industry. The diary which is
here reproduced casts light on the story of the search for coal in
the Peace River Canyon in 1903. The expedition was not entirely
successful, but the incidents of the journey set down in the diary
are well worth recording.
The author of the diary is Mr. John Strickland Leitch, of the
Leitch Construction Company, Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, and is by
profession a civil engineer. Born in Cornwall, Ontario, on December 2, 1882, Mr. Leitch is the son of the late Mr. Justice James
Leitch of the Supreme Court of the Province of Ontario and of
his wife, Elizabeth Strickland Leitch. A few months after graduating from the Royal Military College he joined a survey party
that was looking for coal on Peace River. In a letter written in
November, 1948, Mr. Leitch gives the following information regarding the venture:—
The party left Edmonton for Peace River Canyon on February 27th,
1903. It had no connection with the G[rand]. T[runk]. P[acific]. Surveys.
There was a civil engineer by the name of Davies, (a nephew of the Hon.
L. H. Davies in the first Laurier Cabinet) ,1 on the staff of the Cornwall
Canal, a very nice young chap about 37 or so. This Davies had been on
what was probably the first Dominion Government geological survey in that
part of B.C. a few years previous.2 They used pack horses and in the course
of their work south of the Peace River and about opposite the Canyon, outcrops of coal were noted. Davies claimed to have personally discovered
a large seam in the face of one of the cut-banks of a stream entering the
Canyon from the south and about half way through it.
Davies was somewhat of a promoter and as the G.T.P. Railway was just
being talked about and would, if built, be confined to either the Yellow Head
Pass or the Peace River Pass through the Canyon, he got  Col. R. R.
(1) The Honourable Sir Louis Henry Davies, K.C.M.G., was Minister of
Marine and Fisheries in the Laurier Cabinet of 1896.
(2) As a matter of fact Davies' party was not the first in this part of
British Columbia. A. R. C. Selwyn was there in 1875 and G. M. Dawson
during 1879-80.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
83 84 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
MacLennan,3 M.P. for Glengarry, who lived in great style in Cornwall, interested. A small company, of local men mostly, was formed to finance the
prospecting and staking of a new coal field in the Peace River Pass.
At the time I was a lad of 19 just out of R.M.C. in June 1902 and was
supposed to be studying law in my father's firm in Cornwall—as a matter
of fact I was really working for the Town Engineer. The colonel, having
been at one time the world's champion hammer thrower and caber tosser,
was a great hero of my boyhood. He was an old bachelor who delighted to
get a young audience for his tales and I was a good listener. ... So the
colonel and I were quite pals. He offered me $75.00 a month and all expenses
to go as assistant surveyor (really I imagine as his confidential representative although he never mentioned that!) You know in those days $75.00
and all expenses to a lad of 20 was a fortune. . . . The colonel really
organized and equipped us and as he knew the needs of wilderness journeys,
having made a huge fortune building the C[anadian]. P[acific]. Railway,
Lake Superior Section, he knew the wilderness so that we were well equipped
for hardships.   .   .   .4
Davies was the chief of the party, but the so-called " captain "
was a mining engineer and geologist named Colin Campbell, who
represented the Dominion Coal Company of the Cape Breton Coal
Company, Nova Scotia, which was one of the financial interests
involved. He was in his late forties or early fifties and seemed
quite elderly to his young companion. Mr. Leitch says of him:
" He was a grand man and I should now judge a splendid geologist especially on coal." Robert Smith, a British Columbia land
surveyor from Rossland, B.C., was entrusted with the actual coal
survey. Mr. Leitch was the other member of the party, and is
to-day its sole survivor.
Colonel McLennan had arranged letters of credit to the Hudson's Bay Company. As a result, the leader of the party was
able to procure the necessary outfit at the company's store in
Edmonton, and everywhere along the route the managers of the
posts were most hospitable and helpful. At Edmonton, Davies
secured staple supplies for five months and also the necessary
bush equipment. There was a winter road from Edmonton to
Athabaska Landing, up the Athabaska River to Lesser Slave
River, up that river to Lesser Slave Lake, and then across a land
(3) Roderick R. McLennan was born in Glengarry County, January 1,
1842, and after fulfilling his contracts with the Canadian Pacific Railway
construction became a private banker in Glengarry and sat for that constituency in the House of Commons from 1891 until 1904. He died at
Cornwall, Ontario, March 8, 1907.
(4) J. S. Leitch to Walter N. Sage, dated at Toronto, November 6, 1948. 1950 COAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RIVER, 1903 85
trail for 100 miles to what is now the town of Peace River Landing (or Peace River). The Hudson's Bay Company officials at
Edmonton placed one of their freighters, Bill Harcus by name,
at the disposal of the party, and he accompanied them as far as
Ali Brick's stopping-house, 15 miles up Peace River from Peace
River Crossing.
Actually the diary ends abruptly on Sunday, July 13, 1903.
Mr. Leitch has, however, finished the story in the following
extract from a letter:—
. . . We got safely across the 100 miles of prairie trail between Peace
River Crossing and Lesser Slave Lake. Cornwall and Bredin, fur trading
company at Lesser Slave, at what is now the town of Grouard, were sending
out their season's take of furs to Edmonton and provided us with passages
in their York Boats. We sailed down Lesser Slave Lake with a fair wind,
rowed down the Lesser Slave River to its junction with the Athabaska River
and down the Athabaska River to Athabaska Landing. We took a stage
coach from the Landing to Edmonton and C.P. Railway home to Cornwall.5
In one sense the expedition had been successful. Coal had
been found in the Peace River Canyon, but transportation diffi-
fulties were too great for Colonel McLennan to proceed further
with the venture. However, he took up the claims and held them
until the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway definitely chose the route
through the Yellowhead Pass. To-day local coal mines are still
operating in a small way in Peace River Canyon. In addition,
while exploring the canyon, Campbell and Leitch were sure that
they had identified the spot on the north bank where Sir Alexander Mackenzie and his party had left the canyon and started
overland across Rocky Mountain Portage. It is just above the
first rapids as one enters the canyon from Hudson Hope.6
Mr. Leitch has kindly consented to the publication of his
diary of this trip to Peace River. In his letter of November 6,
1948, he describes it as " an old haphazard diary kept in a very
boyish style." Mr. Justice Leitch preserved the diary and had
it typed and placed in his papers. After his death these papers
came into his son's possession. The diary is a most human document. It was not written for publication and that, in all probability, constitutes its greatest charm.   It is an authentic histori-
(5) Same to same, February 20, 1949.
(6) Information in this paragraph was provided by Mr. Leitch during
a conversation in Toronto in May, 1949. 86 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
cal record relating to a locality at a period in its development
which has up to the present been rather neglected by writers of
Canadian history. The text is published with only a few necessary corrections and occasional elisions of non-significant
It is now published not only for the light that it casts upon
the Peace River country in the early years of the present century
but also because it tells a straightforward and fascinating story.
In places, as for example in the description of the shooting of
the Peace River Canyon in a roughly built raft, the narrative
becomes extraordinarily interesting, if not positively exciting.
Mr. Leitch, in private conversation, has reported that the inhabitants of Hudson Hope were absolutely amazed when they learned
that the survey party had shot the rapids in a raft. " Not even
an Indian would have done it! " they exclaimed. Possibly the
publication of this diary will stimulate others to look through
their records and to bring out unpublished diaries, journals, or
letters that will shed further light on British Columbia in the
early years of the twentieth century. We are now at the half-
century mark, and the historical spotlight that has for so long
been concentrated on the history of the fur trade, the gold-
rushes, the colonial period, and the early years of the Province
may now be shifted to British Columbia in the first decade of
the twentieth century.
Waler N. Sage.
Vancouver, B.C. 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 87
By John Strickland Leitch, C.E.
February, Friday 27th:—Left Edmonton about 8:30 A.M. with
Bill Harcus1 as freighter. He started as usual drunk as a lord. The
trail was fairly good but broken and heavy in places. Stopped at
Half-Way house2 for dinner. Shipley3 Proprietor, knows Colonel
R. R. McLennan and D. R. McDonald.4 Jim Hislop5 and his Indian
Bob6 arrived. Jim is a wealthy fur-trader and it is the first time that
he has been in civilization in three years. He is feeling good and
treats at least twenty times. He is pretty full and is first rate. Bob
is very cultured, and could put it over the white man in manners. Kept
up until 8 P.M. and went into camp. Everything a little confused but
managed to get a bite. Started in snow-storm but weather cleared and
lovely day. Made twenty-five miles for a start. The land is fairly
rolling and great wheat fields with brule here and there. Everybody
a little tired but in good spirits.    The nights may be cold.    Smithy
says I am a tenderfoot of the worst description.   Put in a good
night for first time in bags. I curled up and found myself nearly out
of the tent. Up at five A.M. and started fire. Smith tangled up in
moccasin string and treats us to some frightful language.
Saturday:—Trail very fair but our feet are getting sore as moccasin used for first time. Stopped for dinner at lonely shack. Owner
very down hearted over his love troubles, says the girl will not live
in such a lonely place. Poor devil. Our teamster is getting lazier but
when Smith or myself get a hold of the ribbons there is something
doing. Bill will get killed yet if he does not buck up. We scared up
a covey of Prairie Chickens and just got gun out when they flew.
* Dr. M. Y. Williams, former head of the Department of Geology and
Geography at the University of British Columbia, has been of great assistance, and footnotes based on information obtained from him have been
marked (M.Y.W.). Similarly (J.S.L.) is used to indicate information provided by Mr. Leitch.
(1) Bill Harcus, an Orkney man whose wife was an Indian, was an
expert freighter recommended to the party by the Edmonton manager of the
Hudson's Bay Company.    (J.S.L.)
(2) This was the first stopping-place north of Edmonton on the trail to
Athabaska Landing, probably so called because it was half-way between
Edmonton and St. Albert.   The name is not to be found on modern maps.
(3) Shipley had formerly been employed in Canadian Pacific Railway
construction.    (J.S.L.)
(4) D. R. McDonald was also a railway contractor and member in the
Ontario Legislative Assembly for Glengarry.    (J.S.L.)
(5) A northern fur-trader.    (J.S.L.)
(6) An educated Chipewyan Indian, who spoke good English.    (J.S.L.) 88 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Many oaths. We are passing through rolling and fairly hilly country
thinly wooded but very fertile in places. Crossed the Vermillion River7
and arrived in camp at five thirty. Weather cloudy and very windy.
Had a hard time putting up tent. Ridge pole knocked me head over
heels. Managed to make tent very comfortable. Weather fair and
windy. Trail good and heavy in some places. Make twenty miles
which is very good.
Sunday, March 1:—First Sunday out. We put in a very good night.
Bob got obstreperous and started driving the horses (Krurgh and
Bryan) in his sleep. We soon shut him up. Got a fine early start
before daylight. Smithy and I had great sport along the trail shot
three rabbits and a brace of partridge. Did considerable swearing
at each other for our good marksmanship. Hares and rabbits very
thick. Stopped for lunch at a lonely cottage. Owner's name Hess.
Lives a lonely life and quite a card. Regular wandering sort of guy
and his highest ambition is to run a gambling hell on the Grand Trunk
Pacific. Two other travellers came in and we had some great stories
of the Klondike parties and the foolish ways of some of the English
expeditions. In the morning a cold wind and snow-storm made travelling unpleasant. Cleared up in the afternoon, but still very cold wind.
Made a great journey to-day twenty-eight miles in all. Trail still fair.
Passed through a hilly country covered with scrub poplar. Here and
there are a few good jack pines. Land very poor. Quit the trail about
5:30 and are putting up for the night in a settler's cabin named Whitely
a very decent Englishman. The Boss is going to try his hand on some
beans to-night and also partridge. If he spoils them his life will be
in danger.
Monday, 2nd:—The cooking turned out well indeed. We spent a
fine night sleeping on the floor. I commenced to snore and somebody
slugged me with a moccasin which caused a great row. The morning
was raw and a cold wind blowing. I managed to drop two wood partridges with one shot. We laid up for lunch at a wayside stopping
house and had a great tucker on rabbit stew. This was the best stopping house along the line. The keeper was a well educated fellow who
was out with W. A. Fraser of Toronto on a Government party exploring
for oil. The country was exceedingly rough and hilly. We appeared
to be travelling along the banks of a former large river. The scenery
was fine owing to the banks being cut up by ravines &c. We put in
a good day's journey 25 miles and arrived at Athabasca Landing on
Athabasca River. We are putting up at a sort of lodging house which
is very full of Frenchmen and halfbreeds, but we expect to put in a
good night's rest. The Landing is composed of a few white washed
log houses and a Hudson Bay post. It will be the last village until
Peace River is struck.   Well the first hundred miles are reeled off and
(7) A small tributary of the North Saskatchewan River not marked on
modern maps, which, however, show a Redwater River in the same locality. 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 89
all the party are fairly well. Mr. Davies has sore feet and a very stiff
leg. So far I am fine have not even stiffened but have a very sore
throat owing to smoking in open air.   Will cut it out for a few days.
Tuesday, 3rd:—We put in a very good night on the floor. Mr. Campbell and I evidently had a snoring match. Bob declares me the winner
by a lap. A fairly early start was made up the River. The trail on the
ice is poor in some places being cut down by the heavy loads. Athabasca River is very picturesque. Its banks are high and in some places
very steep and covered with some fine spruce and cotton wood trees.
Stopped for tucker at a Frenchman's shanty and had a hot lunch.
He is the most progressive of the wayside shanty keepers on the line.
He owns a farm and sells hay at a cent a pound to freighters.8 This
afternoon we made a great streak doing our twenty-five miles, but we
did not strike camp until dark which made it very confusing—getting
tent up and wood. However, after considerable growling, we got
things ship shape and had a very comfortable camp on the ice. The
night is the most beautiful one imaginable, moon and stars shining—
very indescribable. Just now we are all tired out and enjoying our
well earned smoke.
Wednesday, 4th:—Had a very good night's rest, and got an early
start. Saw the first Cree Indians, a fine looking squaw and two kids.
Trail was good and we made our twenty-five miles easily getting into
camp at six P.M. Had quite a singing match this P.M. Bob and I are
training for a full frog quartette.    Put up our Camp on river as usual.
Thursday, 5th:—Last night was very cold and we all nearly froze,
but managed to crawl out and get started. Mr. Davies' leg is still very
sbre. Bob and I had a regular race for twelve miles and got into tucker
place one hour ahead of team. Stopped for tucker at a few Indian huts
called Moose Portage.9 The day was exceedingly fine and fairly warm.
Afternoon cloudy and raw wind blowing with trail heavy. Ice getting
soft in places. Made our twenty-five miles and got to mouth of Lesser
Slave River. Arrived in camp very late. • Got nicely settled supper
over &c when two coyotes encircled our camp. Bob and I fired our
revolvers at them and they made off; but we hope that they will come
back. Our freighter, Bill, is just telling us some great Hudson Bay
stories especially bear stories.
Friday 6th:—Morning very dark cold and windy. We got on very
well in the morning and ended up for tucker at a way-side house at the
mouth of Moose Creek.10    Kept by an English cockney.    Had a nice
(8) Hay at $20 a ton was good money in those days. The average price
in Canada for hay in 1903 was $7.98.
(9) This is not the well-known portage by the same name that connects
the Beaver River with Frog Lake and the North Saskatchewan. It is
a minor portage that avoids some of the rapids on the Athabaska River and
leads to the confluence of Lesser Slave and Athabaska Rivers.
(10) Moose Creek or Moose River runs into Lesser Slave River approximately 10 miles above its confluence with the Athabaska. 90 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
warm lunch. Afternoon brighter but still cold. A very large timber
wolf crossed about a hundred feet in front of us—great excitement.
Went into camp early and tried to get comfortable for cold night and
it is very cold. Bob put a tin of preserves in oven to thaw and forgot
them.    It nearly blew the stove up.
Saturday 7th:—We spent a very cold and uncomfortable night, so
cold that we were forced out at 3:30 A.M. The day was cold and wind
blowing exceedingly unpleasant for travelling. Stopped for lunch in
storm and built an exceedingly big fire but it was awfully cold and
chilly. Trail very heavy but we made Slave Lake all O.K. and are
camped on ice with plenty of dry wood and expect to be fairly comfortable. Mr. Campbell and Bob nearly got into a scrap with a way
house keeper for stealing hay, but they cut him off at the knees; however, he soaked us a dollar for the hay. I am getting to be a corker
on the ax. Mr. Davies' leg is coming around alright. I spent a better
night for a change.
Sunday 8th:—Struck Lesser Slave Lake with a regular blizzard
blowing and the thermometer about twenty degrees below zero. Luckily
the wind was in our backs. The wind gets a sweep of 75 miles on the
lake and is laden with fine snow. No man could face it. The trail is
obliterated and the snow is like sand so it is exceedingly heavy. Made
very little progress in the morning. I have frozen my nose and ear
about ten times so far. Had a fairly comfortable lunch and rest at
noon. Afternoon finer but very cold. Stopped for night at Indian cottage and were too tired to put up tent so took possession. A squaw,
buck, four kids, ten dogs and three cats which were always up to
questionable tricks were there. While there ten other freighters
arrived and as the shanty was only fifteen square there was some old
squeezing and snoring but we all put in a good night. Bought some
fish and a few potatoes and expect to have a good feed.
Monday 9th:—Day broke fine, but we made a late start and found
over a foot of snow on the ice which made hauling very heavy. Made
Wampum Point11 and stopped at the dirtiest Indian hut in the bunch
for lunch. The house was about 15 feet square and four families in it.
I never saw so many dirty kids and squaws in my life. We will surely
have fleas after this. It is now snowing so we don't expect to make
much progress this afternoon. There is a buck with palsied legs that
creeps around and an old couple who look like Methusalah. The kids
are awfully dirty and apparently all have vermin as well as bad colds.
A great big clay fire-place on one side of the room is the heating and
cooking apparatus. Two windows one foot square are covered with
cotton. All the roof is of poles with bark laid on them. The huts are
plastered with clay and are very warm. We had a tough time crossing
the lake and came very nearly having to spend the night on the lake.
(11)  Situated about half-way along the south shore of Lesser Slave
Lake.    (J.S.L.) 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 91
A blizzard came up and the trail was a foot deep with snow. The horses
nearly played out and so did we. However, we struck the other shore
at eight o'clock. The first Indian shack would not let us in, but we got
in the dirtiest shack I have ever been in yet. It gives me the creeps.
Everybody in bad humor to-night and tired out.
Tuesday 10th:—We put in a poor night and made a late start.
Trail still very bad and weather keeps up. Only made 18 miles and
still a dismal party. Brightened up towards night and party feeling
better.   The night was exceedingly cold but we had a good rest.
Wednesday 11th:—Weather still bad and stormy. Trail worse than
ever. Made 12 miles to head of Lesser Slave Lake about 2 P.M. and
as the party was tired decided to lay up and rest for the day. Struck
a great old cook, Jack Wright, who is fixing up some beans and bannock.
He is a fine fellow on pies and I did not do a thing to them. It was
like an oasis to strike this place. Mr. Bredin, brother to Lt. Col.
Bredin, has a trading post here. The H.B. Co. also are here.12
Mr. Davies and myself called on the H.B. Factor, Mr. Harvey. He is
a fine fellow and treated us up to the handle, and invited us up to spend
the evening but we are too tired. We are having a great feast on dry
bread which is grand owing to the fact that we have been on hard tack
for a week. Mr. Campbell is very tired, but will no doubt pick up
alright. Well we expect to get a good rest and hit the trail like giants
Thursday 12th:—Spent last evening till one A.M. at Mr. Harvey's,
H.B. Factor. Had a lovely musical evening—quite a treat—Mrs. Harvey
a good musician and daughter of Rev. Dr. McKay. Met a Mr. McLean
and Rankin, also Frank Anderson. Made a great day's journey, but
had to go into camp by moonlight.   A lot of discomfort.13
Friday 13th:—Same lovely weather and good trail. We are passing
through a densely wooded poplar country. Bob robbed some rabbit
snares. Are putting up at a breed's shack which is the best so far, and
expect to make the Peace River to-morrow night. Temperature for
last two days has been 40 degrees and 44 below zero. Just learned this
from an English trader.    Nice sleeping out in such a temperature.
Saturday 14th:—Finished 5th division of journey in fine style.
Bob and I shot a lot of rabbits along the trail.   Arrived at the bank of
(12) The Hudson's Bay Company's post is shown on the 1902 map as
being on a little bay at the north-west end of Lesser Slave Lake. Messrs.
Cornwall and Bredin had a trading-post at the head of Lesser Slave Lake
at what is now the town of Grouard. They were operating a fur-trading
company in opposition to the Hudson's Bay Company. Lieutenant-Colonel
Bredin commanded the 59th Regiment of the Canadian Militia, and lived in
Cornwall, Ontario.    (J.S.L.)
(13) After leaving Lesser Slave Lake the trail led overland in a northwesterly direction approximately 100 miles to Peace River Crossing or Peace
River Landing, now the town of Peace River, Alberta. 92 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Peace River after dark and had quite a time descending into the valley.
The banks are nearly 1000 feet high so it was quite a ticklish job to
get a loaded sleigh down in the dark. Spent the night at a way-side
house kept by Cotter who was a graduate of Upper Canada College.14
Quite a College crowd here. Cotter U.C.C. Hamilton15 Queens Smith16
Varsity, Leitch R.M.C. If old McGill had been represented it would
have been nearly complete. We had quite a talk over our old college
days and many a good story was told of them. The shack was very
small and all told fifteen wedged themselves on the floor for the night
so we had very little sleep.
Sunday 15th:—Our third Sunday on the trail and it is a most
lovely day. After bidding good-bye to our friends of the night we once
more hit the trail but only for a short tramp of 15 miles to Mr. Brick's.17
We arrived there quite early and were given a hearty reception,
although we were practically strangers. Put everything at our disposal. He is married to a lazy worthless squaw who nearly ruined
him. At one time he was a wealthy trader but his Indian friends
went through him. Now he is a successful farmer raising 2000
bushels of wheat at $1.50 a bushel, oats $1.00, pork $20.00 a cwt. and
beef $25.00 so in a short time he will be wealthy.
Monday 16th:—Put in a good night's rest on Mr. Brick's floor.
Monday was our first day of rest since starting and we all laid around
smoked and enjoyed life.
Tuesday 17th:—The same as Monday. Mr. Davies started to
rustle for some body to take us up to Hudson's Hope. Said good-bye
to Bill Harcus, our teamster. Bill turned out alright and beat everything on the trail and established a record of fifteen days between
Edmonton and Peace River. Bill would have taken us the rest of the
way only he was afraid of losing his horses. We could have bought
him a team but the powers thought otherwise, and I am afraid that
we have burnt our bridges behind us when Bill was let go, for the
breeds around here are not worth a continental.
Wednesday 18th:—Mr. Davies has no luck in getting men and
horses, and is kicking himself for letting Bill go. This is getting
serious to be stranded in such lovely weather and spring rapidly coming
on.    Everybody is anxious to get started.   The Chief made some ban-
(14) Cotter was working for Revillon Freres of Edmonton, a fur-trading
rival of the Hudson's Bay Company.    (J.S.L.)
(15) Hamilton was also a fur-trader with Revillon Freres, having come
from Peterboro, Ontario.    (J.S.L.)
(16) Smith had attended the School of Practical Science, University of
Toronto, and had gone to Rossland, B.C., during the mining boom at the
turn of the century. It was rather typical of the period that these four
graduates of Eastern Canadian colleges should meet at Peace River Crossing.
(17) Ali Brick was the son of an Anglican missionary; his wife was
a Cree Indian.   (J.S.L.) 1950 COAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RIVER, 1903 93
nock which was like India rubber. So under instruction from Bob
I made the nicest batch of bannock imaginable and no joke. I put in
quite a day at the bannock. It is a shame to be here in such lovely
weather. Visited the Catholic Mission on the banks of the Peace about
five miles below Mr. Brick's and had a talk with the Fathers who took
us for good Catholics, but I declined to take confession which rather
surprised them. Visited a breed's to make arrangements for him to go
up the River, but still no luck.
Thursday 19th:—Enjoying Mr. Brick's hospitality yet, and no sign
of getting off. A change in the weather has come, and a regular
Chinook has started to blow. You would be surprised to see the effect
of a Chinook on the snow.18    It clears it right off.
Friday 20th:—Bought a cayuse, and split about two cords of wood
for Mr. Brick.    Still lovely weather.
Saturday 21st:—Still at Brick's but have made all arrangements
to get away from here on Monday. Bought three more cayuses and
hired a Cree Indian whose only recommendation was that he was a good
hunter.    He cannot talk English.
Sunday 22nd:—Went to church and heard a three hour sermon,
partly in English and partly in Cree. Some of the squaws are great
singers.   Took snapshots with camera in the afternoon.
Monday 23rd:—Great preparation for start. One team of cayuses
not shod which will be bad. Got started at last about 12:30 A.M. and
made a great afternoon's journey of 20 miles, but did not stop until
dark. Put up a wind break and slept in open before fire. Woke up in
the morning to find ourselves covered with about three inches of snow.
Very pleasant crawling out under such circumstances.
Tuesday 24th:—Cold and snowing very unpleasant. When we
stopped for lunch I tried to carry a log for the fire which was too heavy
for me and had just got is nicely on my shoulder and taken about ten
steps when I put my foot in a hole and down I went and out. Got up
and fell down, tried again and fell down. Thought my ankle was
broken, but in about ten minutes I was able to stand. A very bad
sprain and awfully painful. My luck. Can't walk and had to lay like
a wooden man all afternoon on the load. Nearly froze and worried
to death for fear I will have to be left at Dunvegan.19    Longest and
(18) The chinook wind penetrates as far east as Peace River. This
warm wind that blows across the Rockies from the Pacific is a great boon
to the inhabitants of western Alberta, especially in the foothill country.
The so-called " chinook arch," a bank of dark clouds, forms above the warm
wind and is its symbol.
(19) Dunvegan is situated 57 miles above the junction of the Smoky
and Athabaska Rivers. Peace River Crossing is a few miles below the
forks. The site for the post was apparently selected in 1805 by Simon
Fraser, but the fort was not constructed until 1806. It was named after the
castle of the MacLeods on the Isle of Skye.   Dunvegan was operated by the 94 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
most dreary afternoon ever spent. Had to travel until 8:30 P.M.
before we reached the fort, Mr. Bedson very kind and gave us the
run of his house. My ankle terribly swollen. Rubbed it well and
bandaged it.
Wednesday 25th:—Staying at Dunvegan to cook bannock &c. Can
hardly put foot to the ground and can just hobble about. But never
say die, it might have been far worse. Stayed all day at fort and
Thursday 26th:—Made a break for St. John20 and found trail in an
awful state. Cayuses up to their bellies in snow. Only made six
miles, and had to quit as a cayuse went lame in shoulder. My ankle
is doing fine and I can navigate on foot now.
Friday 27th:—Cayuse better but river still heavy. Made about
8 miles in the day, but stopped early on account of the cayuses. They
are doing well. Camped on ice. Very damp. Everybody wet to their
knees and uncomfortable, but a big fire improved matters wonderfully.
Discovered that we had lost a box containing 10 cans of peaches and
2 boxes of cartridges.
Saturday 28th:—I started back with two bags for lost goods and
after tramping back to where we had camped found them. Had a hard
tramp back. 25 pounds is easy to say, but when you pack it about
35 miles in wet snow up to the knees you feel it. Managed to come up
to the party just going into camp, and only ate a whole pan of beans.
Looks like a storm to-morrow. Made about six miles to-day and put
cayuses out to rustle. A very heavy wind blowing and we expect a dirty
night. Again camped on wet snow. Nearly all the party complain
a little of rheumatism.
Sunday 29th:—Passed a comfortable night and made an early start.
Trail in a terrible state. Party had to break road in snow and crust
up to the knees. Everybody wet and tired out. Slept in open before
fire.    Made 8-10 miles.
Monday 30th:—Trail still in bad state and breaking road as bad.
Ankle very sore but still in the game. Made a good camp in open.
Nearly a mutiny in camp on account of snoring. Party all out of sorts
and considerable bad feeling but Bob is a corker.    Made a 11 miles.
North West Company, but at the union in 1821 with the Hudson's Bay
Company it passed over to the reorganized company. See J. N. Wallace,
The Wintering Partners on Peace River, Ottawa, 1929, pp. 71-82.
(20) The North West Company had at least two posts bearing this
name, one of which was established in 1806. [See Wallace, op. cit, pp. 76/
77.] The Fort St. John now in existence is situated above the mouth of the
South Pine River, and since the construction of the Alaska Highway has
assumed a new importance. From the statement in the text it is obvious
that the party had passed both the North and South Pine Rivers before
arriving at Fort St. John. 1950 COAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RIVER, 1903 95
Tuesday 31st:—Snowing and blowing, very unpleasant. Trail better and made a good journey of 12 miles but cayuses tired and had to
lay up to let rustle. Chief tried to do some cooking with poor results.
Ankle very sore but will get rested. Cleared up towards evening and
we have comfortable camp on terra firma for a change. Indian getting
Wednesday, April 1:—Trail still poor. Made 8-10 miles. Party
feeling better and confident of making St. John.
Thursday 2nd:—Trail as bad as ever improved in some places.
Struck first Indian encampment. About 20 dogs around and our
Blackie had a great time fighting them. We seem to be lost as Clearwater21 reported to be halfway has not loomed up yet. Had a very poor
camp in a wet snow bank. Chief slightly bughouse and very grouchy.
He has a bad cold and feels out of sorts.    Everybody else all O.K.
Friday 3rd:—We did some backing and only made a short drive of
six miles. Trail not so bad now, but we have to wade in wet snow to
our knees, and consquently come into camp cold and wet and miserable,
but a big camp fire soon puts everybody in good humor. Clearwater
has not showed up yet. Trail getting heavier. Party a little discouraged.    Made probably 11 miles.
Saturday 4th:—Still hard at it plugging through slush. Cayuses
tired and can't shove them. At last we struck Clearwater and camped
about two miles past it. This is getting worse, here we have been
plugging along 10 days and only made 60 miles. I guess the river will
be out before we get to St. Johns. Forgot to mention that one team
of cayuses went through the ice last Thursday, but we got them out.
Sunday 5th:—Trail improved. Passed the Dekape,22 and are now
in B.C. Feel much encouraged by trail and expect to make St. John
by Tuesday night.    Made a good trip probably 12 miles.
Monday 6th:—Up at 5 A.M. and made six bannock before breakfast.
Good journey of 18 miles. Passed North and South Pine. Had an
excellent camping ground for the night. Wrote some letters. Figure
to make St. John at noon to-morrow.
Tuesday 7th:—Up at 4 A.M. and made very early start. Travelled
till noon and no St. John. If ice holds out and weather keeps good
we may make it next June. Never say die. Struck St. John early in
the afternoon. Mr. Beaton, H.B. Factor, made us much at home and
treated us very well. Got a great feed of potatoes. First fresh thing
in 14 days. Made bannock and Chief bought some much needed
(21) This river is shown on modern maps as Clear River; it flows into
the Peace from the north, 2 miles east of the Alberta-British Columbia
(22) Dekape River or Creek is not identified, but was evidently situated
on or near the 120th meridian, which is the boundary between Alberta and
British Columbia. 96 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Wednesday 8th:—Made a good start but got into several jack-pots28
in the morning but wiggled out alright. Came across some great
conglomerite rock which was forming chalcedony24, and if older would
be exceedingly valuable. Saw a big sandstone with hole worn right
through it by water and smaller rocks. Camped at Cache Creek25 in
a regular swell place. Trail has been good all day and weather nippy.
Banks are getting lower.   Timber immense spruce and cotton wood.
Thursday 9th:—Made a good early start and found trail in good
shape. Struck the first shack since Dunvegan. Kept by a trapper
named Dickinson, an Englishman and wandered nearly all over
America. Squatted on a fine point and intends to settle down and
farm. As usual a good fellow and handsome. Come up to the Hope26
with us and then to Moberly Lake27 to hunt bear. Struck very heavy
going in afternoon and cayuses played out but just before we came
to camp and feed ground.    Night cold.
Friday 10th:—Good Friday and a beautiful day. Hope to make
Hudson Hope early this evening. Made the Hope about four o'clock
and went into camp around the point on South Bank. In the evening
we visited Mr. McDiarmid, the H.B. Factor, and found him exceedingly
agreeable and not all company. We decided to explore up the Canon
on foot in the morning.
Saturday 11th:—We started up the Canon on foot about 9:30 A.M.
and found ice very good as far as we went, but did not reach the Creek
Mr. Davies speaks of. The scenery is beautiful rough and rugged.
A regular paradise for a geologist. The cut banks which are innumerable show the rock formation so beautifully. There are three or four
rocky islands at the entrance of the Canon.   Here and there deep dark
(23) "Jack-pots," a slang term in common use in the North meaning
" difficulties."    (J.S.L. & M.Y.W.)
(24) Chalcedony is a variety of native silica, often used as an ornamental stone.   It occurs as a secondary mineral in volcanic rocks.
(25) Now called Bear Flat Creek, is 17 miles up Peace River from Fort
St. John.   It flows into the Peace from the north.
(26) " The Hope " is Hudson Hope, the Hudson's Bay Company's post
at the foot of Rocky Mountain Portage, then situated on the south bank of
Peace River at the east end of the canyon. Rocky Mountain Portage,
according to the late Dean R. W. Brock, should be termed the " Portage of
the Mountain of the Rocks." It is in the foothill country, 60 miles to the
east of the Rocky Mountains. [See W. N. Sage, " Simon Fraser, Explorer
and Fur Trader," Proceedings of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American
Historical Association, 1929, p. 178.] Simon Fraser built a post at Rocky
Mountain Portage in 1805, at or near the site of Hudson Hope. [.See
Wallace, op. cit, pp. 35-70.]
(27) This lake is south-east of Hudson Hope. It is drained by Moberly
River, running into the Peace from the south-west just west of Fort
St. John. 1950 COAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RlVER, 1903 97
ravines run back from the river while ragged and picturesque peaks
and cutting are seen along. The narrows as we call them are not over
350 feet roughly. We called it the Pillar gate on account of several
large pillars on each side. One especially on the south side being cut
out of the solid rock and the crevice could be easily crawled through.
The current rushes through this narrow channel so rapidly that the
ice was just heaved in the centre and not broken up. Above this the
river widens again and a nice grove of young poplars &c is on the
North Bank. We skirted the south bank to a little creek at whose
mouth there was a little bar where we lunched and rested. Here there
was a peculiar cut bank of mud shale probably 1800 feet high. It was
sort of triangular in shape part of the way up and can be seen from
the Pillar Gate. After lunch we again struck up river and found the
snow much deeper and going very heavy for over a mile. Around the
first big point a good sized rocky island appeared. It was also just
as nice as the others, but it was very dangerous rounding it as the
river is open nearly up to the bank and ice is thin, however, we
managed it alright. About a mile and a half further on around a point
we came upon the first seam of coal which measured 10 inches and
appeared very good quality. We broke several large pieces to take
back to the Captain as specimens. As it was now getting late we
turned about for camp, and arrived there wet to our hips and hungry,
but well satisfied with our day up the Canon.
Sunday 12th:—Easter Sunday, my first away from home and
civilization. We all slept late for once as this is the first holiday we
have had since leaving Edmonton. Had breakfast late about 10 A.M.
and laid around camp until 12 when Bob and I got energetic and
climbed the hill to Prairie above in hopes of shooting some grouse and
finding an overland trail to Davies Creek, but were unsuccessful,
although we found a trail leading to the Moberly Lakes. Arrived back
to camp in the usual state of wetness. Alexis28 who was out looking for
cayuses reported them gone. Much swearing as we counted upon an
early start up the Canon in the morning. Went to bed feeling blue
over the cayuses.
Monday 13th:—All hands except Mr. Campbell out looking for
cayuses. Bob and I after nearly losing ourselves in snow found their
trail leading down the river and followed it three miles but had to give
(28) This is the Cree Indian mentioned in the entry for March 21.
Mr. Leitch describes him as being " a very fine specimen of the native"
and adds " He was a grand unspoiled type, a great river man, horseman
and a beautiful axeman ... if it hadnt been for Bob Smith and Alexis
we couldn't have made it from the Crossing to Hudson's Hope as there was
no trail on the river except for dog teams. They were the only experienced
men in the wilds we had. The rest of us including myself were typical
moneases (a Cree word meaning ' tenderfoot')." J. S. Leitch to W. N.
Sage, November 6, 1948.   Alexis was in charge of the cayuses. 98 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
it up as the things will not stop until they get home 250 miles
down the river. All had dinner with Mr. McD.,29 and it was grand to
get some bread again. In the afternoon, Mr. Davies did some cooking
and the rest of us knocked the sleighs to pieces and put a platform on
the front bob of each, as we decided the only way to get there is to haul
our goods and chattels ourselves. George Dickinson who has agreed
to come up river with us at $40.00 a month arrived early in the evening
and cooked us a fine batch of bannock.
Tuesday 14th:—Captain had us up about 4 A.M. We commenced
our wearisome haul up river and by making several trips we managed
to get them 7 miles up to the beach in front of the first creek where we
camped all tired out and very wet. It was an exceedingly hard day
on everyone.
Wednesday 15th:—Again up very early and made a good start,
but here our troubles commenced in real earnest. On the start the
snow was over a foot deep and with eight hundred or so on the bob it
was terribly hard work, however by noon we had our outfit two or
three more miles up the river and within sight of Creek.80 After
lunching we again struck out and had fairly easy going until within
% mile of Creek when broken ice was struck. Here were difficulties,
and jack pots were immense, but by doubling up we managed to get
everything to the Creek about 7:30. Went into camp in a sheltered
spot a few hundred yards up Creek thoroughly tired but satisfied that
our long and wearisome journey is practically ended. We have been
over seven weeks on the trail in all sorts of weather, been subjected to
a great many hardships and privations, but none of us have been
seriously sick or played out on the trail, however, none of the party
are sorry it is over.
Thursday 16th:—Up fairly early and the four of us made a short
prospecting trip up the Creek. It is the most beautiful mountain
stream imaginable with its straight cut banks, its gurgling rapids and
wonderful little waterfalls, but no doubt in a few days it will be
a rushing roaring mountain torrent. Well we found what we were
looking for, namely, coal seams which the Captain pronounced excellent
quality but the seams are very small, the largest being two feet ten
inches and the smallest about six or eight. There are only three worth
mentioning, namely, two ten, two feet, and eight inches, but of excellent
quality. We climbed the hills about 2000 feet and I got into a kind of
jack pot losing my knife and pipe out of my hip pocket from sliding
down the hill-top.    It was very steep and slippery owing to the snow,
(29) Mr. McDiarmid, the Hudson's Bay Company's factor at Hudson
(30) This creek was probably Johnson Creek, the only large one in the
south that Mr. Leitch does not name and was the same creek on which Colin
Campbell and Davies expected to find the large coal measures. In this they
were disappointed;  cf. entry for April 16. 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 99
but we managed to get down and home all O.K. The main big seam
two feet ten inches is exposed for 140 feet or so, and the three seams
are in an area thirty feet high. Captain cut my hair in the afternoon,
and we started hob nailing our boots. Dickinson is turning out a good
cook thank goodness.
Friday 17th:—Captain and Bob made a short trip down river, and
found two small seams and small manganese deposit. Bob and I fixed
up the grind stone, and in the afternoon cut the logs for our shack
which is going to be built about a quarter of a mile up stream just
over the cut bank.   Weather lovely.
Saturday 18th:—Worked hard all day at shack and got walls up.
Dog stole whole side of bacon. Great excitement in camp, the Captain
and I washed some gravel and found some gold, but it turned out that
someone salted the pan with brass.
Sunday 19th:—Mr. Davies and Captain made trip up Canon, and
found a lot of small seams. Bob and I tried fishing with no luck then
mended the tape and cleaned the transit. I nearly cut the top off my
thumb. In the afternoon we cached our stuff on three trees 20 feet
high—had a great time carrying our stuff up the ladder. Feel satisfied
that the grizzlies cannot rob us. We all go up river to-morrow morning on prospecting trip. All well. Alexis made trip to Hudson Hope
and came back late.
Monday 20th:—Made early start 7 A.M., packing enough grub to
last us through the Canon over night if necessary. Found ice at start
very thick and good. Some of the cracks were fully ten feet, and quite
dangerous. Bob got in several times and puffed around like a walrus
and the dog had to be pulled out by the scruff of the neck several times.
The scenery was very romantic indeed. Here and there castle like
pinnacles rose from all points. One in particular looked very much
like an old Norman castle with its towers and bastions, also a water
course worn in the rocks resembled the causeway leading to it. The
first rapids were shallow, but exceedingly swift, and although very
pretty could not compare with the St. Lawrence Rapids. Some very
pretty little waterfalls from the high banks on either side nestled
among the trees, and as they were completely frozen, they appeared to
be regular minature Niagaras. The cut banks in some places were
over four hundred feet high, and showed in some places fifteen layers
of strata mostly sandstone, slate &c. The cliffs jutting out into the
Canon reminded me of the scenery on the far famed Saguenay River.
I took quite a number of snaps along our route which will describe it
better than I can. In some places, it was dangerous travelling, and we
had to scale a few cliffs clinging on to their faces like a lot of flies.
One place was exceedingly dangerous owing to the falling rocks but
nobody was hurt. We lunched about eight miles up from camp on a
jutting point of rock. So far we have come across eight small seams
of coal none of them over two feet ten inches. We were, in sight of the
stream Mr. Davies said the big seam showed in the face of the cliff. 100 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
After lunch, we crossed over, and found it to be one of the most lovely
little mountain canons imaginable. The banks on both sides were
perpendicular rock over five hundred feet high, and it was nearly as
much as a man's life is worth to go up it, as the frost coming out of
the rock caused great pieces of stone to fall which would most certainly
put us out of business in short order. A great disappointment was
waiting for us. The big seams promised us turned out to be only black
shale which resembles coal very much, but the Captain who had quite
a time getting to it, soon got his pick into it and proved that the whole
thing was worthless. While we were there about a ton of ice which
was frozen to the side of the bank fell, and you would think that it was
thunder to hear the roar. We soon got out of that Canon after the
slide as Captain saw it was useless to go farther. We proceeded on our
way through the Canon so as to prospect the whole of it. The remainder of the trip was just as nice as the first, and we arrived at the head
or within sight of the western end about 4 o'clock. Here there is quite
a rapid running between steep banks- and we were in a jack pot so
decided to quit and get back to camp 10 miles away before dark. We
arrived home tired and disappointed about eight o'clock. From all
reports we are the only white men who ever went through the Canon
on foot.81 The Indians gave it a wide berth on account of superstitious
fears. Our Indian had a holiday and went to the Hope with letters.
Everything considered, I don't think the Peace River Canon is what it
was cracked up to be. In all we found seven or eight small seams, but
none of any real value, and I guess this venture will be a big failure for
the Company. Talked the matter over and decided to survey in any
case as we couldn't possibly get out for a month at least.
Tuesday 21st:—We labored all day at our shacks and got them
well up.
Wednesday 22nd:—Bob and I shot a partridge which had kept us
awake nearly all night drumming. We practically finished our shack.
The weather is lovely for April, and we had our first little shower last
night, but it didn't amount to anything. The flies and mosquitoes are
already coming out. The latter are something awful, and even run up
a tree to bark at you.    I see my finish in about two weeks.
Thursday 23rd:—We finished the shack and put in the bunks &c.
Bob and I occupy the top ones. The shack is a peach. 16' x 13' so
quite roomy. The walls are eight feet high and well chinked with
moss. It is well furnished with hewn table and six blocks for chairs.
The stove is raised on a platform so it is quite handy. The roof is
made of split spruce logs and slabs. The light shines through it all
Friday 24th:—Morning wet and party stayed in shack. In afternoon Messrs. Campbell, Davies and myself climbed hill in front and
(31)  This is probably incorrect, as it is comparatively easy to make trail
over the ice in the winter time.    (M.Y.W.) 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 101
examined strata for 1500 feet, but found nothing of any importance.
Captain and Mr. Davies had quite a time trying to shoot a grouse with
revolver, but they would have required a 100 cartridges to hit it. Bird
very accommodating allowed them to fire five shots.
Saturday 25th:—Mr. Davies and Captain started off on a prospecting trip and came to a sudden halt at seeing a bear across the river.
Alexis went after him with no results. They returned about nine A.M.
Bob and I meanwhile had a fine bath the first on the trip so we quite
enjoyed it. In the afternoon, Bob and I went hunting and only got
one bird.
Sunday 26th:—Snowing and Captain a little homesick. We all
loafed in the morning. In the afternoon, Bob and I went shooting
with no results except to find a bear's cave but bruin was out. In our
tramp we came upon the old Du Pont trail of 189682 and followed it
over the hill so we had quite a tramp. Mr. Davies and Captain went
up the creek and Davies got in to his waist.
Monday 27th:—All party up river very early 7 A.M. to make survey
of Creek but it turned out to be a prospecting trip and we explored the
Creek for four miles as far as the Captain wanted to see. About two
miles up we came to a grand little fall of 75 feet. We found the biggest
seam of coal yet about 4 feet in some places of pure coal with a foot of
cannel coal about four feet above it. Arrived home about three P.M.
and knocked off for day. Bob, Dickenson and myself made a bear dead
fall after dinner.
Tuesday 28th:—All hands up the Creek by 7:30 A. M., and spent
the day in surveying Creek. Helped Bob plot the survey in afternoon
and shot two partridges.
Wednesday 29th:—Captain, Mr. Davies and self made trip down
river to Coal PT. and found the biggest seams. Sent Alexis back for
heavy pick and shovel. Meanwhile Blackie and I had a great time
after a partridge, but it was too much for us. I tried to pot it with
my revolver. Indian came back in great state bear across the river in
full sight of party. Indian made a very dangerous trip across river on
treacherous ice but the bear had made his debut. Poor Alexis fell on
a sharp stone, and cut his knee very badly. Captain and I dressed it,
but he will be laid up for some time. We worked all day on our big
seam, and sank several holes. Found it to be four feet and the only
practicable workable seam so far. Much encouraged in our search.
About 4 P. M. Mr. Bear again appeared. I hustled back to camp for
rifle, but the bear had disappeared. Dickenson is going after him in
the morning. The weather is elegant for April. River has risen 10
feet in the last ten days.    It will be all clear of ice to-morrow morning.
(32) This trail had been followed by the geological expedition of which
Davies had been a member some years previously. It was a pack-trail
leading south from Peace River.   (J.S.L.) 102 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Thursday 30th:—Made another trip to the big seam at pt. and did
considerable scrounging around over the hills and valleys but with no
results, except to find the mosquitoes very bad.
Friday 31st:—The four of us with Blackie started on a prospecting
trip over the mountain to our front. We followed the old Du Pont trail
over the mountain and about noon discovered a fairly good sized lake
about 800 feet above the river. The shores are very marshy and covered with small stunted evergreens. It does not appear to be very
deep. We crossed it and followed its outlet creek to river. This creek
turned out to be one about 2*4 miles below our cabin. Just below a
fall of 40 feet a 3 foot seam was found. We were just leaving when
the Captain discovered another just below it, however we were too
tired to further investigate and made tracks for camp.
Saturday May 1:—Made trip to our big seam and spent the whole
day opening it and found the seam to have three feet of coal on top
then a band of shale and sandstone of 15 inches then three feet more
coal all of excellent quality. This is the best seam so far and according
to the Captain quite workable, all the coal being obtainable. We ended
the day with a survey of creek to River and 4 foot seam to connect with
survey of Big Bend Creek.    Called the new discovery Campbell Creek.
Sunday 2nd:—We all rested and loafed around camp. Bob did
some plotting on Campbell Creek survey. Captain and I felt a little
lonesome all day.    Big wash day.
Monday 3rd:—Mr. Davies, Captain and myself made another all
day prospecting trip, but found no new seams but Captain obtained
some information with regard to strike and dip of big seams I took
some photographs of them and one of Alexis. Got back to camp quite
Tuesday 4th:—At last we started the survey and made fair
progesss for a starter. I have some narrow escapes from cutting my
feet off with an ax.
Wednesday 5th:—Still at survey and ran into some big and difficult ravines.    Started to snow so stopped early and made for camp.
Thursday 6th:—Mr. Campbell has rheumatism in his knees and
decided to stay in camp. Weather looked stormy and four inches of
snow on ground still we start to work. Hardly got there when it
started to snow so hard that in a few minutes everybody was wet, cold
and miserable. We stuck to it till noon when snow became too thick
to see and had to quit.
Friday 7th:—Again made trip to work and found it cold, wet and
miserable in snow, ran about 3/4 of a mile.
Saturday 8th:—Survey still located post for first claim on Coal Pt.
Mr. Campbell better and on the line again.
Sunday 9th:—Great wash and mending day. I washed some
clothes and mended two pairs of socks. Great excitement in camp as
Bob and I discovered we were supporting a healthy stock of Indian 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 103
Grey Backs.88 Awful washing and scrubbing in party. We likely
caught them from the Indian.
Monday 10th:—Whole party started with packs for line and intend
staying with it for a week. Had a hard pack to end of line and everybody well tired when night came. Each man has only a single blanket
for a bed.
Tuesday 11th:—Put in a comfortable night and started work at
6.30 A.M. It was pretty cold, but we kept on a fire all night. Made a
good day's work and struck Lake at head of Campbell Creek.
Wednesday 12th:—Crossed the lake with line and made new camp.
Bob and Mr. Davies had a big row as to who is boss of survey. Enough
said;  this has been coming on for sometime.
Thursday 13th:—Put in a big day's work. Last night very cold
and a little rainy. All uncomfortable. Mr. Davies and I disagreed
over naming claims.    He has to quit and allow me my opinions.
Friday 14th:—Finished Rattenbury claim and made great time.
Spent better night.
Saturday 15th:—Made our mile and started over hills for shack.
Captain and I were left behind and had a of a time getting back,
finally arrived about 9 P.M. tired out.   Captain got in the Creek.
Sunday 16th:—As usual we are following our programme of working six days of the week and on Sunday do thy chores. Chore day is
worse than a work day. Mending and washing does not agree with me
in the least. We had a great rest however. This Diary of the week
may be a little on the bum as it was written ten days later.
Monday 17th:—Started with 50 pound pack for new camp over hills
and after hard and tiresome toiling over the hills, we arrived at the
line where we had deserted it Saturday. It was still there. Everything went fine in the afternoon. Alexis went after moose with no
success. The event of the trip happened this afternoon. Captain
made a great discovery of an immense seam. Awful excitement, and
we will certainly prospect it before we go. The whole programme of
the survey is changed, and we will be here for another month at least.
Our grub pile is getting low, only three weeks more on hand and then
starvation, but we expect to see it through. It started to rain towards
evening, and we had to build a tepee of our canvas back and towels.
After we got our tepee made and fire we were fairly comfortable.
Tuesday 18th:—Wet and dreary but we stuck to it through it all
and ran our regulation mile. It was the worst yet up and down steep
and deep ravines and we were at it from 6 A.M. to 7.15 P.M. Captain
went to shack for picks and shovels and also my camera to snap seams.
Evening rainy and cold, and we had to improve our tepee. Expect bad
day to-morrow.
(33)  A new name for an old well-known pest—hence the delousing
operations. 104 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Sequel to last week:—On Thursday a great disaster happened to
me. I was burnt completely out. It was a warm day and I left everything in camp. Changes of clothes, socks, coat blanket and canvas,
rubbers, pack straps, and in fact everything in a roll. All Camp fires
were put out, but a big wind got up and a spark lit on my outfit with
the above results. In evening when I arrived in camp I discovered the
disaster, Bob shared his single blanket with me and we certainly put in
a cold dreary night. Asleep about fifteen minutes then frozen and up
to make fire. We had to do this for two nights. Bob raised Cain with
me as I stole all the blanket and nearly kicked him into the fire. Now
I will have to pack my sleeping bag which will add 8 more pounds to my
pack. Well the Indian grey backs are far more reasonable and I expect
to be rid of them in a week, but they are a terror to chew you. Talk
about mosquitoes these take the cake. They even run up a tree to bark
at you, and if a fellow gets tired of climbing a hill all he has to do is
grab one by his tail and away you go. I am going to train one to carry
my pack. No joking they are the biggest and hungriest this side of
Jordan. Captain says that I will make a good Geologist as I can eat
rocks and clay nearly as well as himself. A clay lunch is fine. Our
grub is running low.
Wednesday 19th:—It started to rain early last night, and turned to
sleet and snow by turns. Our tepee was weather proof, but it was cold
wet and dreary sitting around a miserable fire in centre of tepee, in
afternoon we put on an immense fire of prime coal, and it warmed
things up a little.
Thursday 20th:—Still rainy but no so bad as yesterday. Captain
and I prospected the big seam and found it to be nine feet good coal.
Afternoon cleared up and we again went at it.
Friday 21st:—Survey.
Saturday 22nd:—Survey.
Sunday 23rd:—We decided to make a banner day, and got to work
at 5 A.M. We certainly did so making 1% miles of survey line the
biggest day yet.
Monday 24th:—Moved camp and survey.
Tuesday 25th:—Survey.
Wednesday 26th:—Survey.
Thursday 27th:—Moved camp and survey.
Friday 28th:—Survey.
Saturday 29th:—Survey.
Sunday 30th:—Moved camp and worked until 9 P.M.
Monday 31st:—Survey.
Tuesday June 1st:—Survey and moved camp.
Wednesday 2nd:—Survey and cold rain in afternoon everybody got
wet to the skin and nearly froze before we struck the camp but a big
fire soon put us in shape.
Thursday 3rd:—Still cold wet rain. Bob and I slept all day. Thank
goodness it rained so that we got a good rest. 1950 COAL-SEEKERS ON PEACE RIVER, 1903 105
Friday 4th:—Finished survey on back lines and now have only a
mile to run on front.
Saturday 5th:—Packed back to shack in morning and Alexis Bob
and I worked at the raft sweeps. Finished them after supper. Three
sweeps each made out of a spruce tree 8 inches through at butt and 20
feet long and very heavy. Got a little mixed in my days. Saturday we
finished the survey neck and crop while Alexis and the Captain cut the
logs for the raft and when we came in we got the logs out of the woods
and some of them in the little eddy where we will build it. The logs
are 30 feet long and fine dry spruce sticks about ten inches in diameter.
Sunday 6th:—We got the remainder of our big logs in Big Bend
Creek and drifted them down to the cove in the big river. In afternoon, the three of us made the raft in the water. The Indian superintended the job and Bob and I did the work. He saw that the raft was
trennailed and bound very staunch and strong. Well our raft is
finished and whether we can run the Canon on her is the question.
Our raft seems big and strong enough and our Indian has worked at it
with such confidence that I do not fear any difficulty. He is quiet
to-night but I guess that his nerve will not leave him as he has a reputation as a dare devil grizzley hunter and boatman. We had a great time
packing our goods in the evening and getting some goods aboard. As
usual Bob and I do the work.
Monday 7th:—The day of departure has arrived.84 We put in a
great day's work from 4 A.M. till 9 A.M. when we finished our loading
operations, and with a great cheer we turned the bow of our raft homeward. The river is ten feet higher now than at low water and current
is running 8 miles an hour in front of our creek. Alexis was put in
command and took the steering sweep with Bob to assist him the rest
of us manned the oars. We got under way all O.K. and in a few
minutes we were tearing along at a great rate. Everybody thought
we were going to have a great run until we struck the first rapid. It
was a pretty fair one but Alexis handled our unweildy craft in the
most approved fashion, and in such a manner as to give the whole
bunch confidence in his ability to bring us through in fine style.
However we were not out of the woods by any means yet. The first
rapid swept our raft with immense swell and ourselves and goods were
simply soaked. . After the first rapid was safely passed, Alexis gave us
the word to go to it and we went as hard as we could. The heavy
sweeps bent like whips but we couldn't do it. I saw what the Indian
was trying to do make an inside channel to pass a regular green wall of
water however it was no use so he put us straight for it and yelled to
" Grab a root" which we were not slow to do.    The old Captain got
(34) The start was made from Johnson Creek, which is about half-way
through the canyon on the south side. The D. A. Thomas is reported to
have once managed to get up to Gethring mine opposite Johnson Creek.
(M.Y.W.) 106 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
greatly excited in the shuffle and managed to get his boots untied and
nearly fell overboard in his desperate dives to grab a rope. It was
quite laughable however he was just in time to catch one of the sleigh
bobs which like the rest of all movable articles was well lashed down.
Before we struck I saw Alexis shake his head and I realized the danger.
The wall of water turned out to be the result of a fall of at least ten
feet but of course to our excited imaginations it seemed at least fifty
feet high. I am wandering from the subject, and must come to or the
trip through the Canon will never be finished. We went over the fall
like a shot out of a gun and for a few seconds, hours it seemed, we were
completely under water, and hanging on like a lot of half drowned
wharf rats. It was cold so cold that we were all chilled to the bone.
The raft was not buoyant enough to rise after we went over the falls,
and consequently when we went over the brink, the nose of the raft was
shoved through the wall of Water and foam below the falls. Immediately below this the rapids were terrifying, and our craft got in the
trough of the mountain like waves for a few seconds and it looked
exceedingly blue for us and I imagine fifty cents would have bought the
outfit then. Alexis never lost his nerve or head for a minute, and
yanked our craft into line in a few seconds. The two dogs who would
have been washed off had they not also been lashed on now started to
howl and whine. I suppose both with fear and cold. Needless to say
the whining of the dogs sounded very dismal, and made the whole bunch
feel quite doleful. The next three miles was one long succession of
fierce rapids roaring and whirling as if they were trying to tear our
raft to pieces. More than half the time, the waves swept over our raft
and simply buried us with water and made us cling on for dear life.
We passed probably the most dangerous part of the trip where two
cross currents met in fine style. The Indian struck the centre of the
maelstrom, and we were through in less time than we could think, but
he shook his head over it and looked rather serious. The remainder of
the second rapid was not quite so bad as the beginning, and our hopes
began to rise that we had the worst over. Now the craft was rushing
like an express train to the narrowest part of the Canon which on
account of several pillar like columns on each side we had named the
Pillar Gates. The whole body of that mighty current was passing
through this narrow channel at the rate of probably 30 miles an hour,
so it is little wonder that the water seemed to us to be heaped up in the
centre fully four feet higher than at the sides. The water was not
rough except for a long deep swell which we rode nicely, and practically
for the first time since starting our raft was not washed by the waves.
The Gates were probably half a mile long, and we simply tore along
like a greyhound. We ran into a succession of rapids below the Gates
which lasted until we were opposite to Hudson's Hope a H.B. outpost
of Fort St. John. The last five miles of the Canon could not be compared to the beginning, but they were just rough and choppy enough to
keep us all sticking to a rope like a pot of glue.    Altogether it only took 1950 Coal-seekers on Peace River, 1903 107
us to run the estimated distance of fifteen miles l1/^ hours, so that
speaks pretty good for the current. So far as I could learn from H.B.
men and old voyageurs we are the only white men who ever ran such
a length of the Canon. Some Klondikers are reported to have explored
part of it, but for only a few miles and that was when the river was at
its lowest water. Our Indian is quite a hero amongst his tribe. This
little description is being written with a cloud of mosquitoes worrying
the life out of me so it is on the bum.
Well after leaving the Hope all was plain sailing or at least drifting,
and we had time to repair damages and dry ourselves. Of course
everything was drenched so we had no dry clothes, and it was very
chilly drying them in a cold east wind, however the sun was shining
brightly, and we were all soon as cheerful as possible, and many were
the jolly laughs we had over our experiences, but with no exception we
are all thankful to be out of it and to have probably the wildest experience in rafting for sometime to come behind us.
Our first stop was at Half Way River 30 miles above St. John. Here
George Dickinson relieved us of some of our load and we lunched.
St. John was reached about 9 P.M. and here we put up for the night.
I got some mail so did Bob.
Tuesday 8th:—Early start, but drifted quietly and rapidly all day
till 10 P.M., when as it was getting dark we halted on the lower end of
an island for the night.    Mosquitoes awful.
Wednesday 9th:—Up at 3 A.M. and started full power for Dunvegan which we reached early in the morning. Mr. Bredin, as usual
very kind, and allowed us to do our baking. Here we remained all day
and rested which we needed as we slept only three hours the night
Thursday 10th:—Started early as per state, and arrived for lunch
at Mr. Bricks. Here Davies did his business, and we told the Indians
about our trip, and had quite an admiring and open mouthed audience
around in no time. Alexis came in for a great welcome. In the afternoon we dropped down to the landing. 270 miles in about 45 hours
actual travel is something fierce in this country. All glad to say goodbye to Peace River, but the mosquitoes are terrible, and Davies as usual
is doing so much for our 'comfort.
Friday 11th:—Looked up everybody at the settlement and loafed
around the shacks telling our experiences.
Saturday 12th:—Mosquitoes terrible and no sleep. Bummed all
day and slept in Cotter's shack. We hit the trail early to-morrow,
Sunday and hurrah for the lake.85
Sunday 13th:—Started about 10.30 for lake. Our teamster, Tom
Kipling, a half breed, appears to be a hustler, and says he will make the
lake Tuesday, 96 miles in 2% days is pretty fast going. He has only
600 pounds in his waggon, and two team tandem fashion on it and the
(35) Lesser Slave Lake. 108 Walter N. Sage
way he snakes that waggon out of the mud holes is wonderful. Some
spots on the trail very bad. Mud like plaster and the axle drags
through it in some places. The mosquitoes, black flies and bull dogs
are awful, and I cannot write any more on account of them. NOTES AND COMMENTS
The annual meeting of the Association was held in the Provincial Library,
Victoria, on Friday, January 20, with the President, Dr. Margaret A.
Ormsby, in the chair. The general well-being of the Association was evidenced by the annual reports presented. Membership standing continued to
be good, although there was a slight decrease over the previous year—466
as compared with 508 in 1949. Of these, 162 were affiliated with the Victoria
Section, 165 with the Vancouver Section, and there were 139 members-at-
large.    The bank balance at the end of the year stood at $314.51.
The report of the Editor of the Quarterly indicated that the circulation,
exclusive of complimentary and exchange issues, still exceeded 500. The
delays in publication were a matter of sincere regret, but a number of unanticipated circumstances resulted in delays which it was hoped would soon be
The twenty-seventh report of the Marine Committee was presented by its
Convener, Major F. V. Longstaff.
During the year the Association suffered the loss by death of two of its
most prominent and enthusiastic members in the persons of Mrs. Muriel R.
Cree, for many years Honorary Secretary and active in the Victoria Section,
and Mr. A. G. Harvey, twice Chairman of the Vancouver Section. Appropriate tributes were paid to both of these persons.
The result of the essay competition sponsored by the Association as part
of its programme for the celebration of the centenary of the establishment of
colonial government on the Pacific Coast was announced. A large number
of essays, embracing all the topics laid down in the terms of the competition,
were referred to the committee of judges consisting of Mr. H. C. Gilliland,
Vice-Principal of the Provincial Normal School, Victoria, B.C., Mr. F. H.
Johnson, of the same institution, and Mr. Willard E. Ireland. The awards
were as follows:—
First prize: Ronald M. Sweeney, University of British Columbia.
Second prize: Lester R. Petersen, University of British Columbia.
Third prize: J. B. Richards, University of British Columbia.
Honorable mention:  G. R. B. Coultas, Victoria College;  M. Elizabeth
Cailey, University of British Columbia.
The presidential address, entitled Some Irish Figures in Colonial Days,
was read by Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby. So frequently English and Scottish
influences in the early colonial period are stressed that it was illuminating
and interesting to discover the role played by persons of Irish extraction.
The text of the address is printed in this Quarterly.
The report of the scrutineers was then presented. A total of 157 valid
ballots was returned to the Honorary Secretary.    The new Council met
British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
109 110 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
immediately after the adjournment of the annual meeting, when the following officers were elected:—
Honorary President - Hon. W. T. Straith, K.C.
President Mr. Burt R. Campbell.
1st Vice-President    - Mr. James K. Nesbitt.
2nd Vice-President       ...        Mr. D. A. McGregor.
Honorary Secretary - Miss Helen R. Boutilier.
Honorary Treasurer     - Mr. B. A. McKelvie.
Members of the Council—
Captain C. H. Cates. Dr. W. N. Sage.
Rev. John Goodfellow. Mrs. R. B. White.
Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Councillors ex officio—
Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, Past President.
Professor Sydney G. Pettit, Chairman, Victoria Section.
Mr. George Green, Chairman, Vancouver Section.
Mr. Willard E. Ireland, Editor, Quarterly.
Preceding the annual meeting there was a ceremony of great interest to
students of history in this Province. An inscribed photographic portrait
of R. Edward Gosnell, first Provincial Librarian and later first Provincial
Archivist, was unveiled in the corridor of the Provincial Library by his
daughter, Mrs. Vera Hoskin, of Vancouver. Mr. Willard E. Ireland, present
Provincial Librarian and Archivist, speaking in the absence of the Honourable W. T. Straith, K.C, Minister of Education, presented a brief sketch of
the career of Mr. Gosnell, who was born in 1860 at Beauport, Quebec,
educated in Ontario, and first came to British Columbia in 1888 as a newspaperman. In November, 1893, he was appointed Provincial Librarian and
was instrumental in securing legislation the following year which officially
brought into being the Provincial Library. This office he continued to hold
until September, 1898, when he was succeeded by E. O. S. Scholefield. Since
1896 Gosnell had also acted as secretary to the Premier, which office he filled
until 1901, when he became the first secretary of the Bureau of Provincial
Information, charged with the organization of this department. In 1908
the Provincial Archives was established as a separate division, and Gosnell
became the first Provincial Archivist, retaining that position until 1910.
Subsequently he served the Provincial Government in many special capacities
and was for a time in the employ of the Federal Government. He died in
Vancouver in August, 1931. There have been few more outstanding public*
servants than R. E. Gosnell, in whom was ingeniously combined the man of
vision and the man of action. Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, President of the
British Columbia Historical Association, spoke of Mr. Gosnell's contribution
to British Columbia's historical literature. He is probably best remembered
for his Year Book of British Columbia and Manual of Provincial Information,
first issued in 1897 and subsequently reissued in 1901, 1903, 1911, and 1914;
A History of British Columbia, 1906; and his joint authorship with R. H.
Coats in 1908 of Sir James Douglas in the Makers of Canada Series, but
many other books, pamphlets, and articles flowed from his prolific pen. 1950 Notes and Comments 111
Victoria Section
A regular meeting of the Victoria Section was held in the Provincial
Library on Monday evening, November 7, with Mr. G. H. Stevens in the
chair. The speaker of the evening was Mr. B. A. McKelvie, popular author
and speaker on British Columbia's historic lore, who had chosen as his
subject Black Magic on Vancouver Island. This was the story of Brother
Twelve and the Aquarian Community at Cedar, and the speaker held his
audience spell-bound as he recounted the unusual and almost unbelievable
happenings in the career of Arthur Edward Wilson and his remarkable group
during its short existence. The appreciation of the audience was tendered
to the speaker by Mr. James Morton and enthusiastically endorsed by all
those present.
The annual meeting of the Victoria Section was held in the Provincial
Library on Monday evening, December 9, presided over by Mr. G. H. Stevens.
The various reports presented indicated that a successful year had been
experienced, with several new speakers added to the roster. Membership
had declined to 162, but it was anticipated that many delinquent members
would rejoin in the new year. The report of the scrutineers of the ballots
for the election of the Council was accepted. The inclemency of the weather
having seriously interfered with the attendance at the meeting, it was
decided to defer the delivery of the address prepared by Mr. H. C. Gilliland
to a subsequent meeting. The new Council met immediately following the
adjournment of the annual meeting, when the following officers were
Chairman    -----   Professor Sydney G. Pettit.
Vice-Chairman ...        Mr. H. C. Gilliland.
Honorary Secretary     -       -       -   Mr. F. H. Johnson.
Honorary Treasurer -       -        Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Members of the Council—
Miss Kathleen Agnew. Mrs. J. E. Godman.
Mr. R. P. Bishop. Dr. Hugh M. Morrison.
Mrs. E. M. Cuppage. Major H. T. Nation.
Miss Flora Burns Dr. D. L. McLaurin
(co-opt). (co-opt).
Mr. L. W. Westendale Mr. Willard E. Ireland
(co-opt.). (ex officio).
The first regular meeting of the Victoria Section in the new year was
held on Tuesday evening, February 21, in the Provincial Library, with
Professor Sydney G. Pettit, newly elected Chairman, presiding. The speaker
of the evening was Mr. Harry C. Gilliland, Vice-Principal of the Provincial
Normal School in Victoria. The subject selected was The Wreck of the
Forerunner: An Incident in the Life of Governor Arthur Edward Kennedy.
Mr. Gilliland has for several years been engaged in research on the career
of Vancouver Island's third and last governor. After a preliminary sketch
of the life of Governor Kennedy, Mr. Gilliland turned specifically to an incident that occurred in 1854, when, after two years as Governor of the Gold 112 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
Coast, Kennedy was returning to England. He was travelling in the Forerunner, a small 400-ton screw-propelled iron steamer under command of an
incompetent captain. Off Madeira the captain ran his vessel on the rocks
and in the ensuing confusion did nothing to save the passengers. Governor
Kennedy, in effect, took command and attempted to bring order out of chaos.
He went down with the ship but was, subsequently, rescued. He emerged
from the episode and the resultant naval inquiry as a man possessing sterling
qualities as a leader.
To mark the centenary of the establishment of colonial government in
British Columbia, the regular meeting of the Section on Thursday, March
16, was thrown open to the general public and held in the auditorium of the
Provincial Normal School. The speaker on this occasion was Mr. Willard E.
Ireland, Provincial Librarian and Archivist, who chose as his subject The
Governorship of Richard Blanshard. Mr. Ireland explained the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the Crown Colony of Vancouver
Island and of the surprise selection of an unknown young English barrister
to be its first governor. In order to appraise fairly the significance of his
extremely short incumbency of the governorship, it was necessary to examine
the position of the Hudson's Bay Company on Vancouver Island in 1851 and
in particular the relationships between the Governor and the company's
representative, James Douglas. Blanshard's significance lies more in the
fact of his governorship rather than in the extent of his accomplishments.
On Monday evening, April 24, the Victoria Section held its regular meeting in the Provincial Library, when an excellent lecture on The Fraser River
was given by Mr. Russell E. Potter, Executive Assistant to the Dominion-
Provincial Fraser River Basin Board. Mr. Potter was eminently qualified
to speak on this subject and in a most interesting manner gave a quick survey
of the historical significance of the Fraser River in the history of the
Province and then dealt with the modern problems it presents in terms
of power development, fishery conservation, and land utilization through
increased irrigation. In addition, a fine collection of coloured slides depicting the river was shown.
Vancouver Section
The annual meeting of the Vancouver Section was held on Tuesday
evening, November 22, in the Hotel Grosvenor. The reports presented indicated that a successful year had been experienced, the membership standing
at 165 and a satisfactory bank balance on hand. In all, five meetings had
been held during the year, with good attendance. The continued co-operation
of Mr. E. G. Baynes in providing accommodation for the meeting-place was
recognized with sincere appreciation.
The speaker of the evening, Mr. D. A. McGregor, had chosen as his
subject Some Aspects of the Law in Early British Columbia—a scholarly
and vastly entertaining study of the almost legendary figure of Sir Matthew
Baillie Begbie. So intimately woven was his career with the development
of the colony from his arrival in November, 1858, until his death in June,
1894, that for almost four decades his biography and the history of the
Province are one.    As has been  aptly said, if James Douglas was the 1950 Notes and Comments 113
" Father of British Columbia " then Begbie was its " Godfather."    Wherever
the restless miners went in search of gold, Begbie and the law austerely and
implacably followed.    His firm maintenance of the traditions of British law
and justice did much to forestall American annexationist sentiment.   Ever
concerned with substantial justice and not with legal technicalities, he was
impatient of red tape and at times all but contemptuous of statute law.
There was a touch of Solomon about his judgments and of Lincoln in his
strength and humanity.   In concluding, Mr. McGregor retold a number of
anecdotes, some doubtless apocryphal, but all characteristic of this versatile,
cultured, laconic but, at heart, kindly and charitable man.
The election of officers for the ensuing year resulted as follows:—
Honorary Chairman      ...       -    Mr. E. G. Baynes.
Chairman ------        Mr. George Green.
Vice-Chairman     -----    Captain C. W. Cates.
Honorary Secretary ...        Miss Kate McQueen.
Honorary Treasurer     -       -       -       -    Rev. F. G. St. Denis.
Members of the Council—
Miss Helen Boutilier. Mr. J. Buchanan.
Mr. Cyril Chave. Miss Lillian Cope.
Dr. H. B. Hawthorn. Mr. D. A. McGregor.
Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby. Mr. Noel Robinson.
Dr. W. N. Sage. Rev. William Stott.
Mr. K. A. Waites.
Mr. L. S. Grant, Past Chairman (ex officio).
A regular meeting of the Section was held on Tuesday evening, January
24, in the Hotel Grosvenor, on which occasion Thomas E. Ladner spoke on
The Birth and Development of the Town of Ladner. Few people are more
competent to speak of the early history of this thriving area in the Fraser
delta, for Mr. Ladner is a son of Thomas Ellis Ladner, who, with his brother
William H. Ladner, after participating in the California and Cariboo gold-
rushes, settled in the late 1860's about 6 miles above the mouth of the Fraser
River, the first white inhabitants of that district. The Ladner family was
of Cornish origin and first came to Wisconsin, where Edward Ladner died
in 1851. Shortly thereafter his two sons, Thomas and William, crossed the
plains to California, and, still in search of gold, they arrived in Victoria on
May 15,1858, on board the steamer Brother Jonathan en route to the Fraser
River goldfields. Their mining brought little success, and for a time they
freighted between Hope and Boston Bar, and in their disappointment they
recalled the land they had crossed on the way to Fort Langley. Soon they
secured pre-emptions. William Ladner maintained his interest in agriculture, while his brother, Thomas, branched out into industrial pursuits, organizing the Delta Canning Company in 1878. This marked the first step in
the development of a community, and soon other industries were attracted
thither. Mr. Ladner gave a vivid picture of the Delta of eighty years ago—
the use of oxen for farm work and land transportation over the trails in the
days before horses were introduced; the old river-steamers—the Otter,
Enterprise, and Olympia;  the heroic role played by the first women in the 114 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
district. The chairman, Mr. George Green, expressed the thanks of the
Section to the speaker. Earlier in the evening Mr. Green paid a glowing
tribute to the late A. G. Harvey, a loyal member and former Chairman,
who will long be remembered for his notable book, Douglas of the Fir.
Ronald M. Sweeney was guest speaker at a meeting of the Section held
on Tuesday, February 21, in the Grosvenor Hotel. Mr. Sweeney, winner
of the first prize in the essay competition sponsored by the British Columbia
Historical Association to commemorate the centenary of the inauguration
of colonial government on the Coast, spoke on The Governorship of Richard
Blanshard. His address gave a clear picture of Blanshard's short term of
office—from his inauguration as governor at Fort Victoria on March 11,
1850, until his departure early in September, 1851. It was a period fraught
with discouragement and frustration, yet it was not without its significance
in the constitutional development of the Canadian West.
At a regular meeting of the Section held in the Grosvenor Hotel on
Tuesday evening, March 21, Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, Past President of
the Provincial Association, repeated, for the benefit of the Vancouver Section,
her presidential address, Some Irish Figures in Colonial Days, which had
been delivered at the annual meeting in Victoria. This address is published
in this Quarterly.
Bruce A. McKelvie, of the Daily Province Bureau, Legislative Press Gallery, Victoria, spoke to the Section on Tuesday evening, April 25, in the
Grosvenor Hotel, on Ways and Wars of Early Colonial Days. The speaker
said that recent research amongst the documentary treasures of the Provincial Archives had thrown new light on conditions in the Colony of Vancouver Island a century ago. He paid particular attention to the " army "
raised by Chief Factor James Douglas for Governor Blanshard to command.
This organization, primarily intended for the protection of Victoria from
Indian attack, developed into the voltigeurs, of which but little has • been
known until late years. Mr. McKelvie described the uniformed body and
gave the names of many of them and told of their exploits and of the valuable
services rendered by them. They were apparently disbanded about 1859,
when three of the outstanding members were rewarded with grants of land.
The speaker also described the social and community life of the colony.
Dr. W. N. Sage, in moving a vote of thanks, spoke in complimentary terms
of the work done by Mr. McKelvie in gathering the material for his paper.
If increased attendance at an annual meeting is indicative of increased
interest and support, this year augurs well for the Kamloops Museum Association, which held its annual meeting in the Masonic Hall on Friday, February 24. The Secretary-Treasurer's report was most encouraging, and its
highlight was the announcement that efforts to preserve permanently the
old Hudson's Bay fort building had been successful. The city had undertaken to remove it from its present location in Riverside Park to property
adjacent to the Museum, on Seymour at Second, where it will be used as an
annex to the Museum.    This building, one of the oldest in the Interior, has 1950 Notes and Comments 115
had a chequered career, and it is satisfying to note that its permanent disposition has been achieved.    The various collections of the Museum continue
to expand, a notable addition being the donation of over 30O prints from the
collection of J. J. Carment, long-time city clerk of Kamloops.   The rephoto-
graphing of the entire photographic collection by the Provincial Archives is
still in progress.    In addition, a considerable file of the early newspapers of
Kamloops—Inland Sentinel, Standard, Standard-Sentinel, and Telegram—
were presented by the Kamloops Sentinel.    The Museum continues to attract
large numbers of tourists, and arrangements were made for special showings
for groups and organizations.    The elections resulted in the following officers
for the coming year:—
President   ------   Burt R. Campbell.
Vice-President        -       -       -       -        J. J. Morse.
Secretary-Treasurer  -       -       -       -    Mrs. Mabel E. Norton.
Committee Chairmen—
T. S. Keyes (Natural History).
R. B. A. Cragg (House).
J. J. Morse (Indian Lore).
Alderman A. M. Affleck (Publicity).
Armstrong Branch
The Okanagan Historical Society inaugurated its fifth branch following
a meeting held in the United Church Hall, Armstrong, on the afternoon of
March 23.    Some thirty citizens of the Armstrong and Spallumcheen districts were present and elected Rev. F. E. Runnalls as Chairman pro tern
and J. E. Jamieson as Secretary pro tern.   Visitors from Kelowna, Oyama,
Westbank, and Vernon were present, including J. B. Knowles, President of
the Okanagan Historical Society, who briefly outlined the history and aims
of the Society.    Mr. Frank Buckland was also present.   As a result, it was
decided to organize an Armstrong Branch, and the following officers were
President    -       -       -       -       -       -       -J. H. Wilson.
Vice-President-       -----        A. E. Sage.
Secretary-Treasurer    -----   Arthur Marshall.
H. A. Fraser. Charles LeDuc.
J. E. Jamieson. Mrs. Myles MacDonald.
Arthur Young.
On March 10 a banquet was held at the Welmore Hotel in Wells to consider the organization of a Cariboo Historical Society. The chairman was
Mr. William Morris, and it was decided to work jointly with Quesnel in the
operation of such a society. 116 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
" One hundred years ago to-morrow, on March 11th, 1850, Richard
Blanshard read the Royal Commission appointing him Governor and
Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Vancouver and its dependencies. By this act Blanshard became the first Governor of the first
British colony to be established in British territory west of the Great Lakes.
" The ceremony of investiture took place outside the stockade of old
Fort Victoria before a mere handful of people, but all that could be
mustered. Due regard to formality was observed even in the rude surroundings. Were Blanshard to return to-day, doubtless he would be
astounded by much that he would see—at least the snow would be reminiscent of the ceremony 100 years ago. Let us hope that he would find
much to commend in what he would now see, for it has been upon the
foundation that he laid that we have built the institutions of government
of our great Province. He was responsible for the institution of a system
of judiciary and, as a last gesture before returning to England in September,
1851 — a disillusioned young man — he called into being the Legislative
Council of Vancouver Island, thus instituting the legislative branch of
" Blanshard's career in the colony was short, for he remained here only
seventeen months. He has been overshadowed by the gigantic figure of
James Douglas. It is easy to belittle the significance of his work. However,
the fact remains that with his coming the rule of the fur-trader gave way
to the rule of the Crown. He laid the constitutional foundation of our
Province. Our pride to-day in accomplishments should be tempered with
gratitude to those who pioneered.
" To commemorate this historic event, the Government has felt that it
was most important to impress upon the minds of the children in our schools
the significance of the ceremony which took place 100 years ago.
" The radio branch of the Department of Education has arranged
a broadcast which will dramatize the events of March 11th, 1850, and this
radio programme will reach all schools which have radio sets. In addition,
a pamphlet has been prepared to be distributed amongst the children of the
secondary schools of the Province. A copy of this pamphlet is on each
member's desk this afternoon.
" The secondary schools of the Province have also been requested to
allocate a reasonable time this afternoon so that the children might
participate in a commemorative programme appropriate to the occasion.
"In order that honour might be done to the memory of Richard
Blanshard, who was the centre of the ceremonies in 1850, I have personally
requested Mr. W. A. McAdam, the Agent-General for British Columbia, to
place a wreath upon the grave of the late Richard Blanshard at the churchyard at Lymington, Hampshire.   Mr. McAdam will perform this ceremony 1950 Notes and Comments 117
to-morrow."—Journals, Legislative Assembly of the Province of British
Columbia, Session 1950, Victoria, 1950, p. 48.
. Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist in Ottawa, Canada, is well
known to readers of this Quarterly, having been its first editor and
Provincial Librarian and Archivist, 1934-1939.
T. A. Rickard, author of Historic Backgrounds of British Columbia, is
an enthusiastic student of the history of British Columbia and an active
member of the British Columbia Historical Association.
Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, immediate Past President of the British
Columbia Historical Association, is associate professor of history at the
University of British Columbia and editor of the Annual Report of the
Okanagan Historical Society.
Dr. W. N. Sage is head of the Department of History at the University
of British Columbia and author of numerous books dealing with various
phases of the history of the Province.
Madge Wolfenden, Associate Editor of this Quarterly, is the Assistant
Provincial Archivist and a former President of the British Columbia
Historical Association.
A. F. Flucke is a research assistant on the staff of the Provincial
Tales of Conflict.   By Bruce A. McKelvie.   N.p.:   The Vancouver Province,
1949.   Pp. vii, 99.   111.   $2.50.
Those who have been looking forward to another book from Mr.
McKelvie's agile pen will not be disappointed, for Tales of Conflict maintains
the same high standard of material and workmanship which characterized
Maquinna the Magnificent and Fort Langley: Outpost of Empire.
In this his most recent book the author has gathered together no less
than eighteen stories, rich in detail, telling of encounters with the native
British Columbia Indians which were part and parcel of life in the wilderness for the early fur-traders and colonists.
To-day, when the natives are in a distinct minority, it is somewhat
difficult to realize how very different conditions were in colonial days, and
how the traders and colonists, particularly in isolated parts, lived in
constant dread of attack by warlike redskins. The courage and heroism
of such men as James Douglas, John Tod, and Roderick Finlayson, to name
but a few, in their dealings with the aborigines, will always command
admiration from those who read British Columbia history.
Tales of Conflict recreates for to-day's readers some outstanding stories
of the white man's difficulties with Indians in a very realistic way, and Mr.
McKelvie, with his dramatic touch, has made these narratives, gleaned
mostly from impersonal official accounts, into vivid pen-pictures, full of
action and movement. The stories cover episodes in British Columbia
history which took place on the west coast of Vancouver Island and at
Milbanke Sound, amongst the maritime fur-traders to the days of the Royal
Northwest Mounted Police at Fort Steele in the Kootenay country—all of
them interesting and all of them typical of the red man's strategy, cunning,
and vengeance.
New material has been uncovered for the first time, as for instance in
the stories of the schooner Resolution and the cowardly attack on Guy
Hughes at Fort St. John in 1823. Also for the first time the story of
James Douglas and Chief Quae, which has always been highly fictionalized,
is now given in its true setting. Many readers will recognize in Ot-chee-wun
the well-known Ah Chee Wun, tales of whose activities amongst the Gulf
Island inhabitants in the early sixties have captivated the imagination of
many a journalist. Few, however, will have realized before reading Tales
of Conflict how very dependent the inhabitants of Vancouver Island and the
adjacent Gulf Islands were upon the vigilance and protection of the ships of
the Royal Navy. Surprise and astonishment will come to the personnel
of the Royal Canadian Navy at the accounts of two or more ships being
sent in search of Indian miscreants.
The format and illustrations of Tales of Conflict are in keeping with, and
of the same high standard as, the two previous-mentioned publications which
have come from the Southam presses in Montreal, and Mr. Cyril Connorton's
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 and 2.
119 120 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
beautiful frontispiece and decorations add much to the artistic beauty of the
book. From the point of view of research this reviewer regrets that fuller
notes embodying details of the source material have not been given to assist
in the never-ending search for documentary proof of historical fact. The
publication is fairly free from typographical errors, but on pages 36 and 98
terrized and enbarassment were noticed and on page 40 in the third paragraph the word spend or employ has obviously been left out of the last
sentence. Exception is also taken to Mr. McKelvie's spelling of McKintosh
on page 22, for which the accepted form is Mcintosh or Mackintosh and also
to no less than three split infinitives in the course of the book.
Nevertheless in spite of these criticisms Tales of Conflict is an enjoyable
and a most readable book and one that will be relished equally by schoolboys
as well as by grown folk. A great deal of care and much reading have gone
into the preparation of this book, and historians and those who teach in our
schools will again express their gratitude to the author for gathering
together true stories from the past and retelling them in his inimitable way,
making their characters live again in modern surroundings.
Madge Wolfenden.
Victoria, B.C.
The Fraser Mines Vindicated or The History of Four Months. By Alfred
Waddington. Reprinted for the first time with an introduction by
W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist. Vancouver: at the private press
of Robert R. Reid, 1949.   Pp. xvi, 93.   111.   $10.
Sawney's Letters. By James Anderson. Bibliographical Society of Canada,
Reprint Series No. 3, with an introduction by W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion
Archivist.   Toronto: Bibliographical Society of Canada, 1950.   Pp. v, 26.
Book-lovers generally and collectors of British Columbiana particularly
are greatly indebted alike to the personal enthusiasm of a young Vancouver
amateur printer and the interest of the young but flourishing Bibliographical Society of Canada for making available in reprint form two of the
rarest of the early Crown Colony imprints.
That The Fraser Mines Vindicated had never previously been reprinted
is rather amazing, for, apart from official government publications, it is the
first book to have been printed in what is now British Columbia, and,
moreover, its content is of great significance, for first-hand accounts of the
Fraser River gold-rush of 1858 are most uncommon. Robert R. Reid, an
undergraduate at the University of British Columbia, whose hobby is fine
printing, is to be commended highly for his efforts. The book is hand-set
in 12-point Caslon Old Style and printed two pages at a time on Hurlburt
Cortlea antique paper with an 8 by 12 foot-press; marbling was done by
the printer, and it was bound by hand at the shop of Mr. M. I. Sochasky.
The result is a beautiful example of book-making.
In addition to reprinting the original book as released at Victoria in
December, 1858, there is an excellent introduction by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb,
which will answer the questions that ardent bibliographers are likely to 1950 The Northwest Bookshelf 121
pose, for the career of Alfred Waddington, the details concerning the
original publication, as well as information about the old press from which
it issued are all dealt with. To date only eleven copies of either of the two
issues of this rare item of Americana have been located, and a checklist
of them is provided. Adding1 further interest to this reprint is a facsimile
reproduction of the original title-cover, a photograph of the hand-press on
which the original edition was printed, and a reproduction of a pen-and-ink
sketch of the author by Mr. George Swinton. It is sincerely to be hoped
that Mr. Reid will undertake still further work of this sort.
Sawney's Letters was first printed in the office of the Cariboo Sentinel
at Barkerville on Williams Creek, B.C., in 1868, and the first edition, here
reprinted in mimeograph form by the Bibliographical Society of Canada, is
also one of the rarest colonial imprints. A second enlarged edition appeared
in 1869 and a third in 1895, but these, too, are rarities, making this reprint
all the more appreciated. James Anderson was a young but discerning
Scotsman who first reached the Cariboo in 1863. The selection of his verses,
collected and printed as Sawney's Letters, are significant historically because
of their fidelity in recounting the temper of Cariboo at that period, and,
moreover, they constitute the only publication of merit that has come down
to us from the almost fabulous days of the sixties in the Cariboo. Dr.
W. Kaye Lamb has provided an excellent bibliographical introduction. The
first edition of this item consisted of a single sheet folded quarto fashion
with the title at the head of the first page and was printed at the office of the
Cariboo Sentinel, using the first press ever brought into British Columbia.
It is interesting to recall that The Fraser Mines Vindicated also issued from
this selfsame press. While the Bibliographical Society of Canada is to be
congratulated on selecting this item as the third in its reprint series, it is
to be regretted that a more permanent medium of reproduction than
mimeographing could not have been utilized.
Willard E. Ireland.
Victoria, B.C.
From Copenhagen to Okanogan.    By U. E. Fries.    Caldwell, Idaho:   The
Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1949.   Pp. vi, 437.   111.   $5.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century there were many who
made the jump from Europe to the United States with little more than
strong backs and stout hearts. Nevertheless for a youth of 18 years, the
son of a country minister in Denmark, to set out for a strange land with
only a smattering of the language on his tongue and the magnificent sum
of $20 in his pocket required a large amount of self-confidence and courage.
From Copenhagen to Okanogan is a captivating story of pioneer life,
written by a man who saw in America the opportunity of possessing his
own goodly portion of the soil; who found it, stuck with it, and became
one of the most respected " old-timers" of Okanogan County, State of
Washington. Mr. Fries is one of those sturdy pioneers who, once having
left the land of his birth, seldom looked back.   He held to the religion and 122 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
principles of his youth, but his allegiance was to the country which had
given him 640 acres and what seemed to be unlimited opportunities.
From the start, Ulrick Fries' ambition was to find a homestead. His
sojourn as a farm labourer in Illinois was only a temporary expedient until
he had saved enough money to " go west." After a few odd jobs, a spell of
hoboing, and nine months working on a tunnel project through the Cascade
Mountains, young Fries decided it was time to look for a place to settle.
He found it along the Okanogan River, a little north of its junction with
the Columbia, in what was to become the thriving district of Brewster.
Here he stayed, bought live stock, built his shack, received his bride from
Denmark, and raised a family of seven children. Life was far from being
" milk and honey." Few homesteads were immediately supporting, and the
owners were forced to take outside work, often far from their homes, in
order to make ends meet. Lumbering, freighting, railroad work, and mail-
delivery contracts all aided in carrying the Fries family over difficult times.
This book is not an autobiography, for Mr. Fries modestly keeps himself
out of the limelight and passes lightly over his own hardships and difficulties.
In fact, throughout the book one gains the impression of the author as
a rather fortunate observer whose own struggles were neither very arduous
nor very important. The reciting of one particular incident—the Indian
war scare of 1891—wherein he could not have avoided describing his own
major part, he turns over to his son as a more competent authority. In the
same self-effacing manner, Mr. Fries makes no attempt to thunder against
the many evils of the lusty mining towns, nor against the trickery and
criminal designs of the less scrupulous elements that roamed the countryside
and settlements. Such things are accepted as part and parcel of the new
life and are viewed with calm appraisal and the confident knowledge that
as long as one clung to one's own code of decency and straight dealing, evil
practices and vicious men would eventually disappear under the weight
of a God-fearing and law-abiding population.
Some of the most delightful accounts in the book are those of his friendships and dealings with the Indian population. At an early stage he learned
the Chinook language, an indication in itself of the man's desire to fit into
and to understand everything about his adopted country. This accomplishment served him in good stead and gave him the trust of the best elements
among the native groups.
In his review of the conglomeration of characters that went to make up
the pioneer stock of Okanogan County, the author has a sharp eye, but
a tolerant tongue for human weaknesses, as well as sincere praise for
kindness and strength of character. Throughout the book people of all
types—good, bad, and indifferent—are treated with a wise appreciation
of the fact that it takes all kinds to make a world. Even the animals do not
pass unmentioned, and Mr. Fries devotes a chapter to his experiences with
and acquaintances among the wild life and domestic stock of the area.
The book is absorbingly interesting in itself, but the reader who has
some knowledge of Washington history will find it a distinct pleasure to
meet, as nearly " in the flesh " as the vivid memory and homey words of 1950 The Northwest Bookshelf 123
Mr. Fries will allow, a few of the men and women whose struggles,
ambitions, failures, and triumphs have gone to make up the threads of
that story.
From Copenhagen to Okanogan is attractively bound and well printed.
Interest is added by the many authentic photographs of places and people.
These give colour and reality to a way of life which, although well within
the memory of present generations, in terms of moral values and material
possessions, is already deep in the haze of history.
A. F. Flucke.
Victoria, B.C.
Printed by Don McDiaemid, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty


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