British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jul 1, 1938

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JULY, 1938 We
Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
W. Kaye Lamb.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. F. W. Howay, New Westminster.
Robie L. Reid, Vancouver. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications should be addressed to the Editor, Provincial
Archives, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.
Subscriptions should be sent to the Provincial Archives, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. Price, 60c. 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. We
" Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. II. Victoria, B.C., July, 1938. No. 3
Articles : Page.
Some Pioneers of Light and Power.
By George Green  145
The Advent of the " Beaver."
By W. Kaye Lamb    163
My Days Aboard the " Beaver."
By John Fullerton  185
Documents :
The Journal of Jacinto Caamano.   Part I.
Edited with an introduction and notes by Henry R. Wagner
and W. A. Newcombe  189
The Northwest Bookshelf:
Wagner:   The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to
the Year 1800.
Review article by F. W. Howay    223
143 (Photo courtesy B.C. Electric.)
One of the original street-cars placed in service
in the City of Vancouver, in 1890.
These cars were designed to be drawn by horses, but were equipped with motors when it
was decided to electrify the tramway. The car above had been partly dismantled when the
photograph was taken and the seats, which ran lengthwise in the centre, back to back, had
been removed.
(Photo courtesy B.C. Electric.)
The largest and heaviest cars now operated by the British Columbia
Electric Railway Company. SOME PIONEERS OF LIGHT AND POWER.*
The story of electricity as a public utility in British Columbia
covers the surprisingly long period of fifty-five years. It commences on June 27, 1883, when the Mayor and Council of the
City of Victoria signed a street-lighting agreement with Robert
Burns McMicking, under the terms of which he undertook to
" erect and support and maintain at three several points in the
said City an Electric Light with an illuminating power equal in
the aggregate to Fifty Thousand Candles."
McMicking, who is now best remembered as one of the Overlanders of '62, had probably had more experience with electricity
than any one else in British Columbia. He had been building
and managing telegraph lines since 1865, and had built the first
telephone line in Victoria in 1878. Three years later he installed
in Victoria the first electric fire-alarm system in the Province.
In spite of this background, his street-lighting proposal was a
distinctly venturesome undertaking. The invention which made
electric arc-lighting on a commercial basis possible had only been
developed in 1876, and McMicking's whole plan seems more than
a little fantastic to-day. It called for the erection of three
150-foot masts, each carrying four or five double arc-lamps,
and these were expected to light satisfactorily the whole of the
thickly settled portion of the city. The sufficiency of the light
provided was to be tested by the reading of newspaper type at
a distance from the masts to be agreed upon, and McMicking
was to receive $6,000 a year for eight years if the lights came
up to specifications.
The agreement was confirmed by a by-law on July 25, 1883,
and the lighting system was installed and ready for service early
in December. The power plant, which was on Yates Street not
far from Quadra, consisted of a 25-horse-power steam-engine
* The author wishes to acknowledge with thanks the help received from
Mr. George A. Dickie, Master Mechanic of the B.C. Electric Railway Company; from the Publicity Department of the Company; from Mr. Angus
MacDonald, one of the first linemen in the City of Vancouver; and also
from the papers by Mr. A. Vilstrup, Chief Electrical Engineer of the Company; and by the late A. J. Lawson, to which reference is made in the foot--
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. II., No. 3.
145 146 George Green. July
which drove two Brush dynamos. A mast carrying five lights
was built at the corner of Yates and Government Streets, and
masts with four lights each were erected at Blanshard and Bur-
dett, and Blanshard and Chatham Streets. In his annual report,
issued early in January, 1884, Mayor Redfern stated that the
lights, which had been in use about three weeks, were " working
very satisfactorily "; but his successor told a different story a
year later. In 1885 the city decided to take advantage of the
clauses in the agreement with McMicking which enabled it to
take over the enterprise, and in September a by-law providing
$16,000 to purchase and improve the plant was passed by the
ratepayers. In the end more than $22,000 was spent in rebuilding the power-house and securing additional equipment. Two
Sperry dynamos were installed, and these supplied power to forty
new lamps, each of which was rated at 2,000 candle-power.
Nineteen of these were mounted on five new masts, but twenty
individual lamp-posts were also erected—the first in the city.
The fortieth lamp was in the power-house. At the same time
a fourth mast with two new double lamps was added to the
system supplied by the original Brush dynamos. When these
additions were completed, masts or lamp-posts were located at
twenty-nine points, instead of at only three, as formerly.
In spite of these changes the lighting system was not very
satisfactory, and in a report dated January, 1887, Mayor Fell
admitted that all the city could do was make the best of a bad
bargain. " This light," he wrote, " will become the light of the
future, but in a small community like ours we should not be
trying experiments. Let older cities do so, and when perfect
we can adopt it." A year or so later one of the aldermen complained that apparently " the more money expended, the worse
the light became." In 1889 further changes became necessary,
as the Sperry system proved unsatisfactory. It was replaced
with two larger Ball dynamos, with a total capacity of seventy-
five 2,000-candle-power lamps; and this equipment made it possible to raise the number of points furnished with a mast or
lamp-post from twenty-nine to sixty. Even so, the city's streetlights still failed to give satisfaction, and complaints were numerous. In 1891 plans were made for a thorough overhauling of
the system, but on August 18 the ratepayers defeated the by-law 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 147
empowering the city to spend the $50,000 required, and the lights
continued to be a source of annoyance and expense for some
years to come.
Nothing daunted by the partial failure of his original scheme,
McMicking took an active part in promoting the Victoria Electric Illuminating Company, which was incorporated in 1886.
The shareholders included W. P. Sayward, David Spencer, and
Thomas Shotbolt; and the first directors were R. P. Rithet,
Joshua Davies, Louis Redon, William Heathorn, and W. J. Taylor. This company is of historic interest, for it built the first
public incandescent-lighting system in Canada. Arc-lights were
not suitable for use in relatively small rooms, and it was only
after Thomas A. Edison produced a durable incandescent lamp,
in 1881, that electric lighting for domestic purposes became
practical. The Edison dynamo in the power-house built by the
Victoria Electric Illuminating Company was driven by a 50-horse-
power steam-engine, and, in the terminology of the day, had a
capacity of 400 lights—that is to say, it could generate sufficient
power to supply 400 16-candle-power lights, or their equivalent.
The new plant was given a brief trial on January 28, 1887, and
a longer test the next evening. The incandescent principle was
so little understood that its operation and advantages over gas
for domestic lighting were explained at length by the newspapers. One of the novelties pointed out by the Colonist was
the fact that " In bedrooms touch buttons are placed at the bedsides so that a person is not under the necessity of getting out of
bed to blow out the light."
In 1889 the Victoria Electric Illuminating Company entered
the arc-lighting field. The Ball dynamo installed was intended
to supply power for new arc-lamps specially designed " for the
illumination of large offices, stores, and public buildings." About
twenty-five lamps, each rated at 2,000 candle-power, were in
place when the power was turned on, October 16, 1889, and more
were added soon after. With this new plant in operation Victoria's electric-lighting facilities became complete after a fashion,
as power was available for street, business, and domestic lighting
in some parts of the city at least.
By this date electric lighting had also been introduced on
the Mainland.    To trace its history there we must go back for 148 George Green. July
a moment to 1884, when it was decided that the Canadian Pacific
Railway should be extended from Port Moody to a new terminus
farther down Burrard Inlet, which it was proposed should be
called Vancouver. The right-of-way was surveyed before the
end of the year, and cleared soon after by George A. Keefer.
The new line to Vancouver carried the first train there on May
23, 1887.    H. H. Abbott was superintendent of the division.
In 1886 he, together with Mr. Keefer and William Fitzherbert
Bullen, had applied for a charter to authorize the incorporation
of a Vancouver Electric Light Company. The initial authorized
capital was set at $200,000, but provision was made for an increase to a maximum of $500,000. It is interesting to find that
a special provision of the charter prohibited the employment in
any capacity whatever, directly or indirectly, of any Chinese,
under a penalty of from $10 to $25 for each day that each and
every Chinese should be employed.
Although the charter was duly granted by the Legislature
in an Act which received the Royal Assent on April 6, 1886, no
use was made of it, the apparent object being to be first in the
field. It was felt that the City of Vancouver had a bright future
as the terminus of the transcontinental railway, and the development of electric lighting was being watched intently. The new
city was still in such an embryo state, however, that it was considered prudent to await further developments for a limited time
at least. Less than ten weeks after the granting of the charter
most of the city was swept away in the holocaust of June 13,
1886, and, of necessity, the Vancouver Electric Light Company
remained dormant.
But with the energetic rebuilding of the city on the embers
of the disastrous fire, thoughts of street-lighting came again, and
a number of Vancouver business-men formed the Vancouver
Electric Illuminating Company, Limited. The trustees were
John Boultbee, Hugh Forbes Keefer, R. Balfour, Jonathan Miller,
and Ben Springer. Its capital was set at the modest sum of
$35,000, divided into 1,400 shares of a par value of $25. A bylaw empowering the company to build and operate an electric-
lighting system was passed by the City of Vancouver in January,
1887, and in the spring construction of a power plant commenced
at the north-east corner of Pender and Abbott Streets.   The 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 149
equipment consisted of an 80-horse-power steam-engine and two
Edison-type dynamos intended to supply incandescent lights
for both street and domestic purposes—the second installation
of the kind in Canada. Both generated direct current at about
50 volts. This plant and the distribution system, costing in all
about $35,000, were built by Messrs. Mitchell, McMullen & Gilt-
ner, contractors of Tacoma, under the supervision of a Mr.
Nicholls. The machinery came from the A. J. Lawson Company,
of Montreal.1 The incandescent lights used seem mostly to have
been of 32 candle-power, and were later referred to derisively as
" glow-worm lamps," but they were regarded very differently
when the power was first turned on, on August 6, 1887, as the
following item, taken from the News-Advertiser published the
next morning, indicates:—
The electric light was turned on last night over the whole circuit and
gave entire satisfaction in every case. The light was bright and steady,
the absence of flickering which is very common and to be expected with a
new system was remarked by many who have seen the first trial made by
electric light companies in other cities.
If the light supplied is kept up to the standard of last night there will
be no reason for anyone to complain of it.
Two later items in the News-Advertiser are of interest, the
first being from the issue of January 1, 1888:—
The electric lights give a much better light than formerly, and are a
great comfort to travellers after nightfall. Vancouver is the best lighted
city of its size [about 5,000 population] in the World.
On February 23, 1888, we find the following:—
Commencing with our issue of yesterday, the News-Advertiser is now
being printed by electricity, the power being supplied by the Electric Light
Co.    It will doubtless be interesting to the people of Vancouver to know that
this is the first paper in the Dominion to be printed in this manner.
(1) See A. J. Lawson, "Generation, Distribution and Measurement of
Electricity for Light and Power . . .," Transactions of the Canadian
Society of Civil Engineers, IV. (1890), pp. 179-240. This paper, read on
May 8, 1890, gives a detailed account of the electrical industry as it existed
in Canada at that date. In it Lawson describes himself as " one of the
pioneers in construction of electric lighting plants in Canada, and the manufacturer or constructor of nearly 30 per cent, of the total capacity of incandescence lighting installations now in operation in the Dominion    .    .    ." 150 George Green. July
Though quite satisfactory for domestic use, the early incandescent lights proved unsuitable for street-lighting in Vancouver, as elsewhere, and in 1890 they were replaced on the streets
with Thomson-Houston arc lamps. Ninety of these, each of
2,000 candle-power, were installed to begin with, and the power
was turned on for the first time on July 3.
Thus it was that electric light and power came to Vancouver.
To the captain of the coast mission ship Glad Tidings, entering the
harbour in October, 1888, its advent proved embarrassing. " It
being excessively dark," the Vancouver World reported the next
day, " the captain mistook the electric light on land for the light
at the city wharf, the result being that the vessel stranded on the
beach   .    .    ."
It remained for the electric street-car to make its appearance
in British Columbia. In 1886, when Messrs. Abbott, Keefer, and
Bullen secured the charter of the original electric light company,
they had also applied for, and received, a charter for a Vancouver
Street Railways Company. Like that of the light company, no
use was made of this charter and it was permitted to lapse. Some
time passed before another company was organized, and the first
tramway completed in the Province was in Victoria, not Vancouver. On November 20, 1888, an agreement was signed between the City of Victoria and five prominent Victoria citizens—
James Douglas Warren, Thomas Shotbolt, David W. Higgins,
Andrew Gray, and Joseph Hunter—which authorized the latter
to construct a street-railway within the city limits, as well as to
supply electric power for lighting and other purposes. Construction of the railway was to commence by October 1, 1889,
and the cars were to be running by July 1, 1890. Incidentally
it was provided that the speed of the cars should " never exceed
ten miles an hour." When this agreement was confirmed by a
civic by-law in December, the promoters of the tramway next
proceeded to organize the National Electric Tramway and Lighting Company, Limited, which was incorporated by an Act of the
Legislature on April 6, 1889. Higgins, Hunter, and Gray were
among the first directors, the others being Maynard H. Cowan,
Thomas J. Jones, and G. L. Milne. The initial authorized capital
was $250,000, and the purpose of the company was declared to
be the construction and operation of tramways " to connect with 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 151
the proposed street railway system of the City of Victoria."
Cadboro Bay, Esquimalt, and Craigflower were among the destinations listed, and Metchosin, Sooke, Beechy Bay, and Gold-
stream were added by a supplementary statute passed in 1890.
Although this company did not formally take over the city tramway and lighting franchise until 1894, for practical purposes the
transfer took place immediately, and on May 14, 1889, the ratepayers of Victoria approved a by-law guaranteeing 5 per cent,
interest on $40,000 worth of National Electric Company bonds.
This guarantee was to take full effect when the Company had
expended $70,000.
The power-house and car-barn required for the new tramway
were built at the corner of Constance and Store Streets by the
firm of Lyne & Milne.    Construction commenced on September 2,
1889. The original power plant consisted of a 110-horse-power
steam-engine and two Thomson-Houston generators. About 4
miles of line had been completed, and four cars had been delivered, when the first street-car trip was made, on February 20,
1890. The passengers included Mayor Grant and D. W. Higgins,
President of the National Electric Company, and the initial run
was made from the car-barn to the James Bay district. Doubts
had been expressed as to the ability of the James Bay bridge to
carry street-cars safely, but Grant and Higgins stood at the
middle of the structure while the car crossed over and declared
that the vibration was " not as perceptible as that caused by a
heavily loaded wagon." " Along Superior Street," the Victoria
Times reported, " extra speed was put on and the car whizzed
along at a great rate, no jar or rocking being noticeable." The
formal opening of the tramway took place two days later, on
February 22. Lieutenant-Governor Nelson turned the handle
which started the motors of the first car, which " started off,
followed in turn by the other three, all of which were crowded
with guests." The cars were decorated with bunting, and flags
were up all along the line. Regular service commenced on
February 23.
New lines and equipment were soon added to the tramway,
and before the end of 1891 about lli/£ miles of track and eleven
street-cars were in operation. To keep pace with this expansion
a new engine and two. additional dynamos were added to the 152 George Green. July
power plant. Receipts from February 22 to December 31, 1890,
had totalled $38,705, and for the whole year 1891 the total rose
to $78,000. In 1892 the directors included D. W. Higgins, Joseph
Hunter, Theodore Davie, Dr. T. J. Jones, and Major C. T. Dupont.
The Victoria electric tramway was the third of the kind in
Canada, its only predecessors being the street-railways in Windsor and St. Catharines, Ontario. The fourth tramway in the
Dominion was that in Vancouver. Late in 1888 steps were taken
to form a company there, and a new Vancouver Street Railways.
Company was incorporated by an Act assented to on April 6,
.1889. George Turner, Richard Plunkett Cooke, and Frederick
C. Innes were the provisional directors, and the initial capital
was $250,000. The Company was empowered to " carry passengers by the force of animals, or such other motive power as it
may deem expedient." As this provision suggests, it was intended to commence operations with horse-drawn vehicles. The
early activities of the company have been described by A. Vil-
strup, Chief Electrical Engineer of the British Columbia Electric
Railway Company, as follows:—
On April 27th, 1889, the Company awarded a contract for the construction of the preliminary lines in Vancouver, the whole being completed by
August 15th following. The tracks were built for horse-car operation;
stables were erected south of False Creek near Main Street to house the
horses, and a buyer sent to Oregon to purchase the necessary animals. The
horses were nearly due to be shipped, and arrangements were almost ready
for a start, when, on August 9th, the directors, on the assurance of electrical
contractors that satisfactory electrical equipment could then be supplied,
decided to change over to electric operation.
Contracts for the necessary machinery were entered into with the Thompson- [sic] Houston Company, of Boston; electric cars were ordered from
George Stevenson, of New York, and the tracks—already laid—were bonded
and otherwise adapted to electric operation.
This decision necessarily caused a delay of some months, but by May,
1890, the machinery was to hand and being installed, and six electric cars
had been delivered. On June 28, 1890, the system was opened for public
traffic over six miles of line. The horse contract was cancelled at some loss,
and the stables were suitably disposed of.
The direct current power equipment required for operating the electric
street cars was installed in a new steam plant erected in the early part of
1890 at the foot of Barnard Street, now Union Street, on the site of the
existing Steam Plant.    Mr. Nicholls [who had supervised the building of 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 153
the City's first electric lighting system] again supervised the installation for
the contractors.2
A few other details regarding these early days are worth
recording. The horse-stables referred to were on the south side
of Front Street, now First Avenue. The first six cars, as originally designed for horse operation, weighed no more than 1,500
lb. each, but electric machinery was bulky and heavy in early
days, and their conversion increased this weight substantially.
Each car was equipped with two 10-horse-power motors, and
could carry about thirty-five passengers. By way of comparison
it may be noted that the heaviest interurban cars now in service
weigh 83,000 lb., and have four motors totalling 500 horse-power.
Regular street railway service in Vancouver started on June
28,1890, but several test runs had been made on the 26th. These
were described by the News-Advertiser as follows:—
In the afternoon a car was run up and down Westminster avenue [Main
Street] several times, a number of shareholders and scores of citizens taking
advantage of the opportunity to test the comfort of a mode of locomotion
now possible for the first time in Vancouver. There are probably many
persons in the city who have not before seen an electric railway in operation.    .    .    .
In the evening, having satisfied themselves of the general satisfactory
state of the track and machinery, the officials of the company ran a car to
the end of the track on Powell street, and from there to the western terminus
at the Granville street bridge. The return trip from the bridge to the power
house on Barnard street, a distance of 2.12 miles was made in 27 minutes,
including several stoppages. A run was then made to the end of the track
.    .    .   and the car returned to the car-house.    .    .    .
Two of the original cars were used on the Westminster
Avenue line, to which reference is made above, and the clock
used to check the time of passing the Barnard Street power plant
is now a treasured possession of the head office of the B.C. Electric Railway in Vancouver. A red line and a green line painted
on the dial designated the proper passing of the cars.
Just two months before street-cars commenced running in
the city an Act of the Legislature, assented to on April 26, 1890,
had incorporated the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light
Company, Limited, in which the Vancouver Electric Illuminating
(2) A. Vilstrup, Early History of the British Columbia Electric Power
System in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, an address before the
Vancouver Section of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, March
20, 1936, p. 7. 154 George Green. July
Company and the Vancouver Street Railways Company joined
forces. Some time later steps were taken to consolidate the new
company's two power plants. New dynamos to supply the lighting system were installed in the power-house on Barnard Street,
and the old Pender Street plant was dismantled and used as a
warehouse. Presumably the new dynamos generated alternating
current, and a more modern system of wiring must have been
introduced when they were installed. The original dynamos
used for lighting generated direct current at 50 volts, and as the
globes used required power at that voltage no transformers were
needed. Though simple, this method of wiring was efficient only
within a very restricted area, and the new dynamos therefore
supplied power at 1,000 volts. This was much too high for
domestic use, so that transformers to reduce the potential to the
usual 50 or 52 volts were necessary. At first small transformers
were placed on the front of almost every house, but this was a
dangerous plan since the wires leading to the transformer, which
carried power at the full 1,000 volts, might be within reach of
the occupants. The modern system of line transformers was
therefore introduced, whereby the transformers were placed on
poles, out of harm's way, and their design was modified to make
it possible for a single transformer to serve several houses.
The original line transformers were installed by Angus
MacDonald, the first real lineman, and first domestic service
inspector in Vancouver. He is still living in the city at the age
of 81. About the same time Mr. MacDonald was responsible for
a notable innovation in the field of electric tramway engineering.
In 1891 the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company decided to build a line along Ninth Avenue (now Broadway) from
Westminster Avenue (Main Street) to Centre Street (now South
Granville Street)—the Fairview belt line of to-day. At this
time trolley-wires were normally hauled into place with horses
and tackle; but when the Fairview rails were laid MacDonald
made the startling proposal that the wfre should be installed by
electrical power, when fully charged. To some it seemed a mad
undertaking, but the plan proved completely successful. The
procedure was as follows: A large spool of trolley-wire was
mounted on a small flat car, coupled to a tower car, which in
turn was coupled to an ordinary street-car.    The wire from the 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 155
spool passed up over the insulated platform of the tower car,
which was the proper height to enable the linemen there to attach it to the span wires, which were already in position. When
this was done, the new section of wire was ready for the trolley
of the following street-car, and as the wire was fully charged,
the street-car was able to move forward, pushing the flat car and
tower car ahead of it. As the flat car moved, the trolley-wire
unwound from the spool, and when the platform of the tower
car reached another span wire it was ready to be attached thereto
as before. This was the first time this method was ever used,
and it was not until two years later that the Electrical World
recorded that it had been followed in Boston. MacDonald himself used it a second time in 1893-94, when replacing the original
trolley-wire on the interurban line between New Westminster
and Vancouver; and the scheme enabled the work to be done
without interfering with the running schedule of a single car.
This point has carried us ahead of our story, which is next
concerned with light and power developments in New Westminster. The first electric light to burn in that city did so quite
unexpectedly. On the evening of December 8, 1889, George Pit-
tendrigh, of the staff of the telephone company, received a severe
shock when handling certain wires leading to Vancouver. He
realized at once that these must have crossed with the electric
power-line there, but being of a venturesome nature he " procured a carbon," as the British Columbian recorded the next day,
" and having attached it to the ground-wire, brought the Vancouver line in close proximity to it, and in an instant the central
telephone office was ablaze with electric light."
The establishment of a municipal lighting plant was being
discussed in New Westminster at this time, and in 1890 a
power-house was built on Tenth Street, not far from the Royal
City Planing Mills. The equipment included a 180-horse-power
steam-engine and two dynamos. One of the dynamos was intended for arc street-lighting, while the other could supply 650
incandescent lamps of the usual 16-candle-power type. A preliminary trial of the street lamps in the lower part of the city
was made on January 2, 1891, when the streets were thronged
with citizens " who inspected with interest and delight the new
electric light."   The power was turned on over the whole system 156 George Green. July
for the first time on January 28. Sixty-five street lamps were
then in operation, and fifteen more were added within a few
days. The incandescent lighting plant soon proved inadequate,
and in October the ratepayers approved a by-law for $25,000 to
purchase a new 1,500-light dynamo and other equipment. A
second arc dynamo and another 1,500-light incandescent generator were added within a few years. At the end of 1895 a total of
3,286 incandescent lamps were in use in the city, and this total
rose to 4,841 by the end of 1896. It is interesting to note that
there was still no service during the day. As this would indicate, domestic electrical appliances were still few and far between.
Shortly before the Vancouver street-cars started to run the
Westminster Street Railway Company was incorporated by an
Act of the Legislature, on April 26, 1890. The authorized capital was $250,000, and the charter was secured in the name of
Benjamin Douglas, Henry V. Edmonds, and Samuel T. Mackintosh. A second Act of the same date incorporated the Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company, with a capital of
$500,000. Douglas and Edmonds were joined in this second
venture by David Oppenheimer, then Mayor of Vancouver.
From the first these two companies were in effect one, and they
were formally united by an Act of the Legislature in April, 1891,
the name Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company being
Meanwhile, in June, 1890, work had been started on an inter-
urban line between the two cities—the first electric line of its
kind in Canada. It was completed in September, 1891, and
service commenced while the annual exhibition was being held
in New Westminster. The crowds attending gave the local city
line a good send-off, but, in the words of F. E. Handy, General
Superintendent for the Company, this city service proved " very
small and unprofitable largely on account of the severe grades
and numerous curves required to travel from south to north "—
that is, up the hill. The route of the interurban line ran for
the most part through forest land, in which the right-of-way had
been cleared a hundred feet wide, and where all trees in the
vicinity likely to fall across the track had been felled. In places
the grades were as great as 9 and even 11 per cent.   At first 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 157
the only stopping-places were at Central Park, so named in
memory of the famous park in New York City, in the neighbourhood of which Mrs. David Oppenheimer had been born and
reared, and at a siding known as Largen's Corner, at the end of
the present Glen Drive, on Venables Street. In 1893 the original
line was shortened by over 2 miles by the construction of a
cut-off at the eastern end, which carried the cars straight down
Twelfth Street to the New Westminster terminus, and thus
eliminated the long, winding track through the city. This reduced the running time from Vancouver to forty-five minutes.
The return fare was then 75 cents.
A few details of the line's equipment will be of interest. At
the Vancouver end power was secured from the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company, but in view of the length of
the line it was necessary to build a special power-house near Edmonds, about 3 miles from New Westminster. The machinery
included four steam-engines of a total of 800 horse-power, belted
to four Edison railway dynamos which generated electricity at
500 volts. In 1893 the rolling-stock included six Brill passenger-
cars, each 35 feet long, and three smaller St. Catharines cars.
The former were described at the time as being " wide and
roomy and nicely upholstered," and " at Fair time "—a significant qualification—had carried as many as 110 passengers each.
In the early nineties a widespread depression developed which
was soon gnawing at the vitals of the early electric light and
tramway companies. Population and traffic failed to increase
as expected, while primitive equipment, high interest rates on
overdrafts, and inexperience added to their difficulties. The
Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company tried to induce
the city to take over its holdings at a valuation of $477,000, but
without success. Deficits ran as high as $1,300 a month, and in
1892 it defaulted on payment of its interest. The directors
appointed at the annual meeting held in February, 1893—Isaac
Oppenheimer (President), William Farrell, Thomas Dunn, C. D.
Rand, and H. T. Ceperley (Secretary-Treasurer)—were faced
with a hopeless situation, and in May the trustees for the bondholders took over the management of the Company. The same
month traffic had fallen to such a low level that service on the
Fairview line was discontinued for lack of patronage.    Under 158 George Green. July
the circumstances it is scarcely surprising that on May 30, 1894,
the Vancouver ratepayers rejected a by-law for $462,000, authorizing the city to purchase the system.
The Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company fared
no better than its neighbour. It was already in difficulties when
lightning struck and burned out one of the dynamos in its Edmonds power-house, and the expensive repairs this made necessary crippled the Company. As a result it defaulted, and in
May, 1893, its assets were seized on behalf of the bondholders.
In January, 1894, the Bank of British Columbia filed a judgment
for $261,250.17 against the Company, and three smaller judgments which followed increased the total to $280,436.75. At this
point the Provincial Government came to its rescue, and by an
Act of the Legislature made the Company a free grant of 196
acres of public land. This land included District Lots 36 and
51, which are now part of the City of Vancouver. This acreage,
together with additional urban and suburban properties, assured
the judgment holders of their equity, for, on April 13, 1895,
Sheriff J. D. Hall, of the County of Vancouver, sold the tramway
properties which lay within his jurisdiction, including District
Lots 36 and 51, for $9,765 in excess of the liabilities. The sale
took place at 10 a.m., and the same day at noon, in New Westminster, T. J. Trapp, acting for Sheriff Armstrong, sold the
Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company's holdings.
The purchaser in both cases was Frank (later Sir Frank) Barnard, acting on behalf of the Consolidated Railway and Light
Company. At New Westminster, David Oppenheimer bid vigorously in competition with Barnard, but doubtless with no intention of buying, as the property there would have been of relatively little value without the Vancouver holdings also.
The Consolidated Railway and Light Company had been
incorporated on April 11, 1894, with an authorized capital of
$1,000,000. The charter was secured in the name of Alfred
Graham Ferguson, William Sully, and William Farrell, and its
purpose was declared to be the acquisition of the Vancouver
Electric Railway and Light Company. As we have seen, it acquired the assets of both this company and the Westminster and
Vancouver Tramway Company just one year later. The Consolidated Company's capital was partly local, but much of it came 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 159
from English capitalists. These were represented by Mr. Barnard, who became President of the Company.
Barnard was also a director of the Columbia and Kootenay
Navigation Company, and early in 1894 he had met, at Nelson,
R. M. Home-Payne, representing English capital, who was
accompanying Sir William Van Home, President of the Canadian
Pacific, on his annual inspection tour of the West. Barnard
discussed various investment projects with Home-Payne, including the electric light and power field, and the result was that he
recommended the purchase of the power and tramway services
at the Coast to his principals. In November, 1895, an English
syndicate, headed by Horne-Payne, purchased all the assets of
the Consolidated Railway and Light Company, which gave it
control of the New Westminster and Vancouver local tramways,
the interurban line between the cities, and the lighting system in
Vancouver. Having accomplished this, it proceeded to secure
an Act of the Legislature, assented to April 17,1896, which shortened its name to the Consolidated Railway Company, and increased its capitalization to $1,500,000.
About this time the new syndicate also extended its activities
to Victoria. It will be recalled that in 1890 the street-lighting
system there was owned by the city, other lighting services were
operated by the Victoria Electric Illuminating Company, and the
street-cars were owned by the National Electric Tramway and
Lighting Company. Just what became of the Victoria Electric
Illuminating Company is not clear, but its name disappeared from
the directory of the city in 1892, and presumably it joined forces
with the National Electric Company, which entered the electric-
lighting field in 1891. Two Thomson-Houston dynamos, with a
capacity of 650 lights each, were installed in February, 1891, and
on the 27th of the month the power was turned on for the first
time. At that time about one hundred lights were ready for use,
most of which were on the water-front, including thirty-five on
the property of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company. Later
many public buildings were served, including Christ Church
Cathedral and the new Methodist Church, which were electrically
lighted for the first time on Sunday, March 8, 1891. The new
power plant generated alternating current at 1,000 volts, which
was reduced to 52 volts by transformers for household use.   Both 160 George Green. July
incandescent and arc lamps Were used, the latter being of a new
and smaller design, which was described as being free from flickering and particularly well suited for store lighting.
Additions were made to the equipment from time to time, and
then in 1894, by an Act assented to on April 6, the Company was
reorganized and became the Victoria Electric Railway and Lighting Company, Limited, with an authorized capital of $1,000,000.
The original street-railway franchise of 1888 was specifically included in the powers of the new company, and all the electrical
services in the city, with the exception of the street-lighting, were
thus unified in law as well as in fact.
It was control of this new company which passed to the Consolidated Railway Company in 1896, thus linking the Island and
Mainland in a single electrical corporation for the first time.
Unfortunately the association did not prove a happy one at the
beginning. On May 26,1896, Mr. Horne-Payne was in Victoria,
visiting Mr. Barnard. The city was en fete, for the Queen's
birthday was being made the occasion of a three-day celebration
ending with a sham battle at Esquimalt, staged by the North
Pacific Coast Squadron. Horne-Payne and Barnard decided to
go, for all Victoria was going. They walked down to the streetcar and found it already filled to overflowing. Taking a hack,
they preceded by a few minutes only the heavily laden car which,
when it reached the Point Ellice bridge, plunged through the old
structure to the waters of Rock Bay below, causing the death of
over fifty persons. The news overtaking the officials, they
hurried back and assisted in the rescue of the survivors. Damage
actions arising from this accident forced the Company into the
hands of a receiver, but Horne-Payne set to work diligently to
raise new capital, and early in 1897 succeeded in organizing the
British Columbia Electric Railway Company. The B.C. Electric,
as it is familiarly known, was registered in England on April 3,
1897, and on April 15 took over the properties and others assets
of the Consolidated Railway Company.
At this point the pioneering period in electric light and power
may be said to have come to an end, but two important developments which took place within the next few years may be mentioned for the sake of completeness. The first of these was the
decision to raise the voltage of the primary circuits of the dis- 1938 Some Pioneers of Light and Power. 161
tribution system from 1,000 to 2,000 volts, and that of the
secondary circuits from 50 to 100 volts. This necessitated the
installation of new transformers and meters throughout the system, but proved well worth while in the long run. Work started
late in 1898 and was completed in 1903. From the point of view
of the private householder, the most interesting result was probably the disappearance of the old Thomson-Houston sockets and
lamps, and the substitution of Edison sockets with a screw base,
like those in use to-day. The second development, which would
make a long story in itself, was the generating of electricity by
water-power, instead of by steam-engines, as heretofore. The
first hydro-electric plant built by the Company was at Gold-
stream, a few miles from Victoria. The turbines developed 3,000
horse-power, and were ready for service in 1898. This plant has
now been superseded by the much larger power-house at Jordan
River, but is still kept in reserve for use in an emergency. In
1902 the Company started work on its first Mainland hydroelectric plant, which was the first unit of what is now known as
the Coquitlam-Buntzen scheme.
Looked at through spectacles of that time, one is immediately impressed
with the boldness and courage of this venture, which involved the driving of
a long diversion tunnel to pierce the mountain range which separates Lakes
Coquitlam and Beautiful, the building of a dam at the south end of Lake
Coquitlam, another at the north end of Lake Beautiful, the construction of
penstocks—to operate at a 400-foot head—to a water power plant to be built
on the precipitous shores of the North Arm of Burrard Inlet.
Added to these features were the further problems of building and operating a 20,000 volt transmission line to Vancouver, through rough and
heavily timbered territory, including a long water span at Barnet.
It reflects great credit on the management and on all concerned that this
great programme was carried through so successfully, and that power from
this development was transmitted to Vancouver in December, 1903.3
The original Buntzen power plant housed two dynamos, but it
was found necessary almost immediately to add two more, and
many other units have since been built by the Company and its
affiliated corporations. For many years it has generated all the
power required for the electric utilities in the three cities of
Victoria, Vancouver, and New Westminster. The City of New
Westminster still owns its own distribution system for both
street and domestic lighting, but since October, 1904, it has pur-
(3) Vilstrup, op. cit., p. 11. 162 George Green. July
chased its power from the B.C. Electric. Six years later, in
1910, the Company took over the oldest branch in its complicated
family tree—the municipal street-lighting system in Victoria,
which traced its history back to the original electric utility venture of Robert Burns McMicking, in 1883.
George Green.
Just fifty years ago, on July 26th, 1888, the pioneer steamship
Beaver, the first steamer to ply the waters of the North Pacific,
ran ashore at the entrance to Vancouver Harbour. At first it
was thought that she could be salvaged; but as the months
slipped by it became evident that the accident had brought to an
end her amazing record of service extending over more than
fifty-three years. In view of this anniversary, it seems worth
while to recall the circumstances which attended her construction
and arrival in the Pacific, particularly as documents kindly made
available by the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay
Company make it possible, for the first time, to tell the story in
some detail.
The Beaver was built to assist in carrying into effect a policy
adopted by the Hudson's Bay Company after Governor Simpson's
historic visit to the Pacific Coast in 1824-25. The Columbia
District had never yielded a profit in the days of the North West
Company, and Simpson was sent out to determine the reason for
this and to advise the Governor and Committee, in London, as to
whether or not the territory should be abandoned. His investigations convinced him that the unsatisfactory state of the fur
trade was due primarily to lack of enterprise and mismanagement. "The trade of this side the mountain [the Rockies],"
Simpson reported, " if sufficiently extended and properly managed I make bold to say can not only be made to rival, but to yield
double the profit that any other part of North America does for
the Amount of Capital employed therein but in order to turn it to
the best advantage New Caledonia must be included and the
Coasting trade must be carried on in conjunction with the inland
The inclusion of New Caledonia simply meant that Simpson
considered that the whole fur-trading area west of the Rocky
Mountains should be governed as a unit. Of much greater interest in the present connection is his conviction that it was
essential to enter the coastal trade. In 1825 this was almost
entirely in the hands of the Russians and Americans.    On the
(1)  Frederick Merk, Fur Trade and Empire: George Simpson's Journal,
Cambridge, Mass., 1931, p. 72.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. II., No. S.
163 164 W. Kaye Lamb. July
whole Pacific Coast, the flag of the Hudson's Bay Company flew
only at Fort George, formerly Astoria, a famous by inefficient
post at the mouth of the Columbia River. Simpson felt that for
at least two reasons this state of affairs must change. In the
first place, the coastal trade was probably worth participating in
for its own sake. In the second place, he perceived that, owing
to the prevalence of intertribal trading, the lower prices placed
upon trade goods by the maritime traders were a direct threat
to the Company in the Interior. As Dr. McLoughlin, the Chief
Factor whom Simpson placed in charge of Fort Vancouver, the
new headquarters he built for the Columbia District before
returning to the East, expressed it in a letter to Simpson himself,
" To secure our Inland trade we must endeavor to destroy competition on the Coast, as these Coasters trade with Indians who
in their turn trade with the Natives of the Interior some
of these get Skins annually even from [as far inland as] the
vicinity of the Babine Lake."2
Some years passed before the decision to enter the coastal
trade could be carried into effect. The schooner Vancouver, of
about 85 tons burden, was built on the Columbia River in 1826,
and she was joined by the Cadboro, of 72 tons register, which was
sent out from England, in the spring of 1827. But late in 1828,
when Governor Simpson was paying his second visit to Fort
Vancouver, he reported to London that " we have as yet done
little " in the coastal trade. He added, however, that Captain
Aemelius Simpson of the Cadboro had " collected much valuable
information " on the subject, which he would transmit later.
" From his report," Simpson stated, " we have little doubt of
acquiring the Command of the Trade; it may however cost
in the first instance a considerable sacrifice of money but the
prospect it holds out in point of returns ... we conceive
fully to warrant the expence we propose entering into."3 Four
months later Simpson formally notified the Governor of the
Russian American Company at New Archangel (now Sitka) that
the new policy was about to be carried into effect. " Our attention on this side of the Continent has been hitherto directed to
(2) McLoughlin to Simpson, March 20, 1827.    Quoted in Merk, op. cit.,
p. 289.
(3) Simpson to William Smith, November 17, 1828.   Ibid., p. 300. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 165
the business of the Interior Country," he wrote in March, 1829,
" but we have it now in view to extend it to the Trade of the
Coast.    .    .    ."4
Simpson's plan of operation included the building of new
trading-posts at strategic points on the Northwest Coast, as
well as the use of trading-ships; and it may be said to have
really gotten under way with the construction of the first Fort
Simpson, on the Nass River, in 1831, and of Fort McLoughlin,
on Milbanke Sound, in 1833. Meanwhile, Simpson had conceived the idea of adding a steam vessel to the Company's forces
in the Pacific, and in August, 1832, he urged the construction of
such a ship upon the Governor and Committee in a letter, written
on behalf of the Council of the Northern Department, which read
in part as follows:—
. . . A steam Vessel would afford us incalculable advantages over the
Americans, as we could look into every Creek and cove while they [being
in sailing ships] were confined to a harbour by head winds and calms, we
could ascend every stream of any consequence upon the coast, we could
visit our establishments at stated periods, in short a Steam Vessel would,
in our opinion, bring the contest to a close very soon, by making us masters
of the trade.   .    .   .
Simpson considered that the vessel should not be larger than
180 tons burden, that she should be of shallow draught, and
equipped with machinery of the very best description. His letter
. . . Machinery is now brought to such perfection that with good
management accidents rarely occur, but in order to guard against accident
it would be well to have a double sett of such parts of the machinery as are
most likely to give way, and by that means, as we have forges and blacksmiths at every establishment on the coast, we could make such repairs as
might be necessary from time to time.    .    .    .8
(4) Simpson to the Governor, Russian American Company, dated Fort
Vancouver, March 21, 1829.   Ibid., p. 311.
(5) Simpson to the Governor and Committee, August 10, 1832. (H.B.C.
Arch. D. 4/99, f. 16 d.-17 d.) The quotations from this and other documents in the Archives of the Hudson's Bay Company, London, are printed
by permission of the Governor and Committee, whose kindness in making
this material available is much appreciated. 166
W. Kaye Lamb.
The Steamer Beaver, as originally completed.
The paddle-wheel and paddle-box should be slightly larger and rise higher above the
gunwale, but otherwise this sketch is believed to be accurate. No contemporary picture of
the Beaver in her original rig is known to exist. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 167
Though Simpson had obviously considered the matter with care,
the Governor and Committee did not think that a steam vessel
would be practicable, and the plan was carried no further for
the moment.6
The next reference to a steam vessel is found in a dispatch
from Dr. McLoughlin, written in August, 1833. Though he
admitted that a steamer would be the most convenient craft for
use in the coastal trade, McLoughlin did not favour the construction of such a vessel because of the great expense involved7—a
view, it may be added, to which he clung even after the commissioning of the Beaver. Simpson, however, held to his opinion
and repeated his recommendation to the Governor and Committee. Upon this occasion his suggestion was approved, and
on March 5, 1834, the Company informed him of this decision
and added the following comment:—
. . . The Steam Vessel about to be sent out will be expensive, but she
will possess so many advantages over sailing craft on the Coast, which
from its broken character, and the protection afforded by Islands render it
peculiarly well adapted for Steam navigation, so that this Vessel, altho
costly in the first instance, will soon be productive of a considerable saving,
as she is expected to perform the Service of four of the sailing Vessels now
employed on the Coast.   .   .   .8
The hull of the steamer was ordered in June, 1834, from
Messrs. Green, Wigrams & Green, of Blackwall, on the Thames,
who agreed to build it " at and after the rate of _16 per ton for
187 tons."9 Two engines, each of 35 horse-power, and a boiler
capable of burning either wood or coal, together with duplicate
tools, stores, etc., were ordered from Messrs. Bolton, Watt & Company, the celebrated pioneer manufacturers of steam machinery,
in September.10 Eight months later the vessel was ready for
launching, and on May 2, 1835—not on May 7, as is usually
stated—she took the water and was named Beaver.    Contrary
(6) H.B. Co., London, to Simpson, March 1, 1833.    (H.B.C. Arch. A.
6/23, p. 5.)
(7) McLoughlin to H.B. Co., London, dated Fort Vancouver, August 31,
1833. (H.B.C. Arch. B. 223/b/9, p. 21.)
(8) H.B.   Co.,   London,  to   Simpson,   March   5,   1834.    (H.B.C.   Arch.
A. 6/23, p. 123.)
(9) H.B.C. Arch. C. 7/12.
(10) H.B. Co., London, to Messrs. Bolton, Watt & Co., September 20,
1834. (H.B.C. Arch. A. 5/10, p. 256.) 168 W. Kaye Lamb. July
to the usual story, the event does not seem to have caused any
great stir. " There is no evidence in the Company's archives,"
the Secretary to the Governor and Committee states, " that the
launching was made the occasion of a special ceremony, and no
records on the subject are to be found in the Archives of the
Board of Trade, the Port of London Authority, Lloyd's, or Scotland Yard. Some writers have stated that His Majesty King
William IV. was present at the launching, but this statement is
obviously untrue as both the Times and the Morning Post record
the fact that the King was staying at Windsor Castle on the 2nd
May.11 Even the customary ceremony of the Hudson's Bay
Company's Committee Members and their friends being present
at Gravesend on the departure of the ships to Hudson Bay was
cancelled in June, 1835, owing to the death of William Smith,
one of the Members. The Beaver, although not due for sailing,
was to have been present."
On May 6, the Beaver was registered at Lloyd's. As the
very complete details of her construction given in the Certificate
of Registry are printed in the appendix to this article, along
with further particulars drawn from her Certificate of Machinery
and the records of the General Register Office of Merchant Seamen, only a brief description of the vessel need be given here.
Her length was 100 feet 9 inches, her width, not including paddle-
boxes, was 20 feet, and her depth of hold 11 feet. She was very
heavily built, and was probably as sturdy a craft for her size
as was ever put afloat. Her massive keel was of elm, and the
rest of her timbers were mostly of English or African oak.
Under the old tonnage rules she was of 109 tons burthen, and
187 tons builders' measurement. Her draught when loaded was
about 8V_ feet. Her paddle-wheels, which were placed rather
far forward, were 13 feet in diameter, with paddles 6V2 feet
long. They revolved thirty times a minute upon the very few
occasions when she made her top speed of 9% miles per hour.
Her iron boiler had a working-pressure of only 2V_ lb. to the
square inch, and her coal-boxes had a capacity of 20 tons. In
service she burned about 700 lb. of coal each hour. As is shown
by the accompanying drawing, she had two masts and a single
(11)  London Times and Morning Post, May 4, 1835. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 169
tall funnel, but a small bridge was the only deck erection which
rose above the level of her gunwale.
On June 25, 1835, the Beaver left for a trial cruise in the
English Channel, which lasted a week. It had been decided that
she was to make the long voyage to the North Pacific under sail,
and when she returned her machinery was therefore dismantled
and her paddle-wheels unshipped. According to Lloyd's Certificate of Registry she was rigged as a brigantine. On July 8, a
few days after the Beaver concluded her trials, a second and
larger new vessel, the barque Columbia, was launched at
the yard of Green, Wigrams & Green for the Hudson's Bay
Company.12 She was designed to be the annual supply-ship to
the Northwest Coast, and it was intended that she and the
Beaver should proceed thither together.
Though the original log-book of the Beaver has disappeared,
the late Harry Glide, of Victoria, possessed a copy of the portion
of it which recorded her voyage to the Pacific, and this was
published, in 1895, in Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the
Pacific Northwest.15 The text as there presented is unfortunately marred by both errors and omissions; but in spite of
these imperfections the document is of the greatest interest.
For one thing, it preserves the names of the twelve men who,
along with Captain David Home, made up the crew. These were
as follows: first mate, W. C. Hamilton; second mate, Charles
Dodd; chief engineer, Peter Arthur; second engineer, John
Donald; carpenter, Henry Barrett; able seamen, William Wilson, George Gordon, William Phillips, James Dick, George
Holland, James Mclntyre and William Burns.
The Beaver, along with the Columbia, Captain William Darby,
left Gravesend on August 29, 1835; but owing to a delay
occasioned by the necessity of securing an anchor stock she did
not reach the Downs and drop her pilot until noon on the 31st.
Once the voyage proper was well begun she proved to be definitely
faster than the Columbia, and the log contains numerous entries
recording that the Beaver was obliged to slacken sail to keep her
in company. On September 13 the two vessels were off Madeira,
but on the 30th, when near the line, the Beaver lost sight of her
(12) E. W. Green to W. Kaye Lamb, dated London, January 5, 1938.
(13) Edited by E. W. Wright;  Portland, Oregon, 1895, pp. 15-17. 170 W. Kaye Lamb. July
consort in a sudden squall and was unable to find her when it
subsided. Sailing on alone, she was off Trinidad on October 15,
and sighted the Falkland Islands on November 11. A week
later she rounded Cape Horn, in the vicinity of which she
encountered the fogs, squalls, strong gales, and heavy seas for
which the area is notorious. The entry in the log for November
25 reads: " Fresh breeze. A sudden squall carried away topmast steering sail boom. Heavy fall of snow." This very rough
weather continued for some days, but she seems to have suffered
no further damage, and on December 12 made the Island of Juan
Fernandez, almost due west of Valparaiso. Here she anchored
in Cumberland Harbour. A day or two later, to the great relief
of Captain Home, the Columbia hove in sight. Once more in
company, the two vessels sailed for the Sandwich Islands; but
before their departure Captain Home reported to his owners in
a letter from which the following is an extract:—
I have much pleasure in informing you of the safe arrival of the Beaver
at this place [Juan Fernandez] after a very stormy passage. I have been
induced to put into this port, partly to get a fresh supply of water, as ours
(from the constant & excessive motion of the Vessel, [) ] had become so
thick it was almost impossible to drink it also to refresh the Crew, who
stand much in need of it, we have had 4 Men sick, Messrs Hamilton, Dodds,
& myself have also been unwell, in fact, for the last 6 weeks we have not
had 2 successive dry days. The Beaver is an excellent Sea Boat, & should
the Engines go wrong will answer as a sailing Vessel perfectly well. We
lost sight of the Columbia in a heavy squall near the Line, but I am happy
to acquaint you with her safety also, she hove in sight two days after our
arrival here, intending to anchor here for water, but could not get in
this is the most infamous place ever I was in, I have had to shift my birth
3 times, and have been lying with two Anchors down, the wind blowing
from all points of the Compass, & heavy gusts from the shore, we drove
with 55 fms of chain in 12 fms I therefore, thought it better for Capt
Darby [in the Columbia] to remain outside, & take sufficient water on bd
to supply him at sea.    We have been detained here 5 days, & sail today.14
Hawaii was sighted on February 1, 1836, and three days
later the Beaver anchored at Honolulu, where she remained
about three weeks. One entry in the log at this time is of
interest: " Feb. 19—Let the old stock of water out of the boilers,
it being very bad.    Took on board 1,000 gallons of water."
(14)  Captain David Home to the H.B. Co., London, dated Juan Fernandez, December 17, 1835.    (H.B.C. Arch. A. 10/2.) 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 171
From this it is evident that the boilers were being used as freshwater tanks.
On February 25 the vessels left Honolulu, bound for the
Columbia River. Four Sandwich Islanders, who were to work
their passage, were on board the Beaver, and, by mutual consent
of the captains, Mr. Dodd, second mate, exchanged places with
Mr. Prattent, of the Columbia, for this last lap of the long
journey from England. Land was sighted on March 14, but
almost a month was still to pass before the Beaver reached Fort
Vancouver. Some delay was caused by the Columbia bar, which
was not crossed until the 19th, and Alexander Lattie of the
Company's service, who was to pilot her up the river, did not
arrive until the 25th. Thereafter the log records her slow
progress up-stream, day by day, along with the Columbia. The
end of the voyage is recorded as follows: " April 10—At
4.30 p.m weighed with a light breeze from the west. At 6.30
rounded Parting Point; fired two guns. At 7.30 came to,
abreast of Ft. Vancouver, in 9 fathoms. Found lying there the
Honorable H.B. schooner Cadboro. Columbia still in company."
Two hundred and twenty-five days had passed since the departure
from Gravesend.15
The only details available regarding the fitting-out of the
Beaver as a steamer, at Fort Vancouver, are those given in the
log. The entries, as given in Lewis & Dryden's Marine History,
are as follows:—
Monday, May 16—Variable winds and fine weather. Carpenters shipping
the paddle-wheels. At 4 p.m. the engineers got the steam up and
tried the engines and found to answer very well. Sailed—The
schooner Cadboro.
Tuesday, May 17—At daylight unmoored ship and got the steam up. At
3.30 weighed and ran down abreast of the lower plain for firewood.
At noon lashed alongside the Columbia. At 1.30 took the Columbia
in tow up to the sawmill. At 6 returned and anchored off Fort Vancouver in 5 fathoms.    Received the 9-lb. long gun from the Columbia.
May 23—At daylight engineers employed getting up steam. At 9 weighed
anchor and ran down with steam to the lower plain to take on firewood. At 2 p.m. returned to the fort and received a party of gentlemen on board and ran up to the sawmill and back to the lower part
of Menzies Island. At 7 anchored off the fort and found the engines
to act very well.
(15)  Not 163 days, as stated in the Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, p. 15. 172 W. Kaye Lamb. July
These trial runs seem to have convinced the Company officials
that the vessel was reliable and safe, and the next entries record
the first steamboat excursions ever held in the Pacific Northwest :—
May 31—At 9.30 a party of ladies and gentlemen from the fort came on
board. At 9.45 weighed anchor and ran down the river under steam
and entered the upper branch of the Wilhammet; ran under half
power until we cleared the lower branch at 3.50, and ran up towards
Vancouver. At 5 came to anchor and moored in our old berth. At 8
called all hands to ' splice the main brace.'
June 5—Our draft of water with boilers empty is 8 ft. 5 forward and
8 ft. 6 aft
June 9—Columbia sailed for the Sandwich Islands. Engineers painting the
engines, crew whitewashing the funnel.
June 11—At 12.30, the steam being up, hove short and received on board a
party of ladies and gentlemen and weighed and ran down the river
and entered the lower branch of the Wilhammet. At 7.15 cleared the
upper branch and ran up towards Vancouver and anchored in our
old berth.
Archibald McDonald, then in charge of Fort Colville, was
on board when the Beaver made one of these early trips, and
noted the fact briefly in a letter to Edward Ermatinger. " I was
at the sea last season," he wrote early in 1837, " with Ogden &
Black—the home ship [the Columbia] arrived early, accompanied
by a beautiful Steamer for the N.W. Coast trade—we had one
delightful cruise in her round the mouth of the Willamat-
tee. . . ."16 A longer and more philosophical account of one
of the excursions was written by the Rev. Samuel Parker, who
gives the date as June 14. As no copy of the entry in the log
of the Beaver for that day is available, it is possible that this
trip was made in addition to those recorded above. The account
On the 14th, we took a water excursion in the steam-boat Beaver, Capt.
Home, down the Columbia to the confluence of the western branch of the
Multnomah; up this river into the Willamette, and then into the middle
branch of the Multnomah, and through it, into the Columbia, and back to the
fort. All the low lands were overflowed with the annual freshet, and
presented the appearance of an immense bay, extending far into the country.
The day was pleasant and our company cheerful. The novelty of a steamboat on the Columbia, awakened a train of prospective reflections upon the
probable changes which would take place in these remote regions, in a very
(16)  McDonald to Ermatinger, dated Fort Colville, January 25, 1837.
(MS. in Provincial Archives.) 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 173
few years. It was wholly an unthought of thing when I first contemplated
this enterprise [his journey across the continent to the Pacific Coast], that
I should find here this forerunner of commerce and business. The gayety
which prevailed was often suspended, while we conversed of coming days,
when with civilized men, all the rapid improvements in the arts of life,
should be introduced over this new world, and when cities and villages shall
spring up on the west, as they are springing up on the east of the great
mountains, and a new empire be added to the kingdoms of the earth.17
The Beaver was now ready to take up her appointed task in
the coastal trade, and on June 18 she left Fort Vancouver, bound
for the Northwest Coast on her first trading cruise. Captain
Home was in command, with Charles Dodd as first mate and
Alexander Lattie, who had piloted her up the river, as second
mate. Her crew numbered thirty-one, and included four stokers
and thirteen woodcutters, many of whom were Kanakas or
Indians.18 The Rev. Samuel Parker was on board, and has left
us this account of the trip down the river:—
On the 18th of June, according to previous arrangements, I took passage
in the steam-ship Beaver for Fort George, to join the barque Columbia for
the Sandwich islands. As the Beaver was commencing her first voyage
upon the Pacific, under the power of steam, destined for the northwest coast,
the people of the fort, and those residing around, assembled upon the shore
of the Columbia, and as she moved majestically from her anchorage, they
saluted us with cheers, which were reciprocated by all on board, and they
responded, " A happy voyage, a prosperous voyage." The ship anchored at
night a little above Tongue Point; and the next day, after being detained
upon a sand bar, from which the tide after awhile set us free, we arrived at
Fort George.19
The log tells much the same story in its own nautical way, and
adds that on June 21 the Beaver continued on to the mouth of the
river, where she " anchored in Baker's Bay in company with the
Columbia; found the engines to work extremely well. Draught
of water 9-6 forward, 10-6 aft."20 Baker Bay was a strategic
point from which to watch the dreaded Columbia bar, and the
Beaver lay at anchor there for some days, waiting for the swell
to subside. Her final departure is described by Mr. Parker, who
observed it from the deck of the Columbia:—
(17) Samuel Parker, Journal of an Exploring Tour beyond the Rocky
Mountains.    .    .    .    Second edition, Ithaca, 1840, p. 314.
(18) For the names of the men see Lewis & Dryden, op. cit., p. 17.
(19) Parker, op. cit., p. 347.
(20) Lewis & Dryden, op. cit., p. 17. 174 W. Kaye Lamb. July
On the 25th, the bar being smooth, with only a light wind, though ahead,
and the tide favoring, the Beaver weighed anchor and put out to sea for her
northern voyage. She went over the bar finely, and could have towed us
over, but it being her first experiment, it was not thought advisable.21
This was also the last occasion upon which the Beaver crossed
the bar, as she never returned to the Columbia in all the years
that she served the Hudson's Bay Company.
The Beaver's first port of call was Fort McLoughlin, on Milbanke Sound, where she arrived on June 29 or 30—the log-book
entry and Chief Factor Finlayson's report differ as to the date.22
She suffered some damage on the voyage, as she was very heavily
loaded and the weather was stormy. Her log records that the
carpenter was called upon to secure the planking in the deck
cabins, which was working loose in a cross-sea, and the next
morning " The after part of the starboard paddle-box carried
away." The description of her arrival at Fort McLoughlin is
June 29—Finding that we had not enough fuel to carry us to Millbank
fort, stopped the steam and made sail to the topsail and unshipped
five paddle-blades on each side to avoid holding so much water, afterwards shipped the paddle-blades, made steam, and entered Millbank
Sound, anchoring at 11 in 10 fathoms.
June 30—At 4, after taking on a supply of wood, weighed and ran up the
Sound, anchored at 6.30 opposite Millbank fort, saluted the fort with
seven guns, which were returned.
The fur-trading staff on the Beaver, as distinct from her
crew, included John Dunn, who has left an amusing account of
the reaction of the Indians of the region, whom he describes as
being " very ingenious and imitative," to the first steam vessel
they had ever seen.
They watched sharply all our proceedings, and gave us striking examples
of their native talent. They promised to construct a steam-ship on the
model of ours.   We listened, and shook our heads incredulously;   but in a
(21) Parker, op. cit., p. 349.
(22) The latter part of the extract from the log as given in Lewis &
Dryden's Marine History has been copied very carelessly, and Finlayson's
report is probably more accurate. Many of the dates in the log differ by a
day or more with those given in original documents now in the Archives of
the Hudson's Bay Company, but in some instances this may be due to the
fact that, during the voyage from England, the ship's day was reckoned
from noon to noon, and not by the calendar. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 175
short time we found that they had felled a large tree, and were making the
hull out of its scooped trunk. Some time after, this rude steamer appeared.
She was from twenty to thirty feet long, all in one piece—a large tree
hollowed out—resembling the model of our steamer. She was black, with
painted ports; decked over; and had paddles painted red, and Indians,
under cover, to turn them round. The steersman, was not seen. She was
floated triumphantly, and went at the rate of three miles an hour. They
thought they had nearly come up to the point of external structure: But
then the enginery baffled them: and this they thought they could imitate
in time, by perseverance, and the helping illumination of the Great Spirit.23
Amongst the papers of James Douglas there is an undated
page of instructions from London, intended for the guidance of
the officer in charge of the Northwest Coast, which outlines the
part the Governor and Committee expected the Beaver to play in
the fur trade west of the Rocky Mountains. " We think," it
reads, " by proper arrangements it [the trade] may be made to
produce very considerable profits, and we think it good policy not
to exercise too close economy in guarding both the coast and
Interior trade from opposition. With this view we send out the
steam vessel and we think that she and two sailing vessels should
be kept employed upon the Coast, (unless experience should
prove that one sailing vessel with the steamboat is sufficient)
for the purpose of carrying on the trade and watching any opposition which may arrive on the Coast." A later passage indicates
not only the exploratory work which it was hoped the Beaver
would be able to do, but also shows how carefully the Company
kept check upon every move on the part of its rivals:—
The Steam vessel may enable the gentleman who may be in charge of the
District to examine accurately the different Inlets on the Coast, and we
trust will also enable him to obtain a trade along the coast, to the
Northward.    .    .    .
It appears that Mr. French an American at the Sandwich Islands carries
on intercourse with the Russian Company and has a contract with them for
the supply of certain articles, and that he combines with this a fur trade
along the Coast, on the return of the ship to the Sandwich Islands.
(23) John Dunn, History of the Oregon Territory and British North-
American Fur Trade, London, 1844, pp. 271-272. 176 W. Kaye Lamb. July
It would be of importance if it can be accomplished without loss, to
interrupt this intercourse by offering to supply the Russians on better
Chief Factor Duncan Finlayson joined the Beaver before she
left the Columbia, and her first trading cruise was carried out
under his personal supervision. Dunn tells us that his purpose
was " to push on along the numerous and intricate inlets (that
interlace the whole country) as far as possible inland, in order
to come as much within reach of the interior tribes as possible.
Therefore we ran into their uttermost extremities, along almost
the whole of the labyrinth; stopping sometimes to trade, and
ascertain the capabilities of the country, and the character of
the natives, who had never seen a large vessel (and especially a
steamer) or a white man before."25 A report from Finlayson
himself to Dr. McLoughlin, which is preserved in the Archives of
the Hudson's Bay Company, describes the Beaver's course in
some detail:—
I shall now give you a brief detail of the steamer's cruizes and operations since we left the Columbia. At noon on the 25th June last we crossed
the bar and reached Fort McLoughlin without any accident on the 29th of
the same month. Our progress was much impeded by the steamer's being
so heavily laden the paddles sometimes plunging into the waves which
shook the vessel much—and in a very heavy sea I would consider a vessel
under sail as the safest mode of conveyance. From Fort McLoughlin we
proceeded to Fort Simpson through the interior canals say through Canada
de Laredo [Laredo Channel], Nepean Sound, Grenville's Canal, inside
Stephen's and Dundass Islands. The navigation in these, for steam, is very
favorable—not a rock to be seen in mid channel; and the shores on both
sides, with the exception of a few coves, where a good safe anchorage may be
found are composed of bold steep rocks well covered with wood. Wishing
to ascertain if the Russian Governor would at that season be found at Sitka
I proceeded from Fort Simpson to Tongasse where I was informed a Russian
vessel was stationed. From Tongass we returned again to Fort Simpson,
and from the latter she was dispatched to Nass on a trading cruize for the
purpose of securing all the Furs there Harris [supercargo] of the Lagrange
[an opposition trading vessel] having made an appointment with the Nass
Indians about that time. On her return we proceeded again through the
interior canals, say Grenville's and another to the East of Princess Royal's
Islands [Fraser Reach, Graham Reach and Tolmie Channel] to Milbank
Sound—thence she was sent to Deans Canal and Bentincks Arms from
(24) Private Papers of Sir James Douglas, First Series, pp.  51-52.
(Transcript in Provincial Archives.)
(25) Dunn, op. cit., pp. 265-266. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 177
whence the greatest part of the Furs sold at Milbank are collected and this
will shut up that drain, and leave little to glean by vessels sailing along the
coast. On her return from this cruize we set out for Nawitie visited the
Quaquills [Kwakiutls?]—where the coals are situated the Numkeys tribe or
those, called by Vancouver the Cheslakees, and entered Johnstone's Straits
and went up them to the distance of 16 or 20 miles. Returned again to
Milbank and Fort Simpson, where I left her and joined the Llama for Sitka.
She [the Beaver] then proceeded to explore the eastern side of Queen
Charlotte's Sound there being several villages there which we have not as
yet visited, and now she will proceed as already mentioned to Nusqually,
touching at Fort Langley and Whidbey's Island.26
Dunn states that upon her first arrival at Fort McLoughlin
the Beaver " took on board about twenty-six cords of wood, for
fuel, which was ready cut for us," and adds that " this generally
lasted us, when running on, between three and four days."27
In his report Finlayson gives further details of the practical side
of steamboat operation:—
The result of these trials is that she can stow enough of wood to take her
from one Fort to another, through the canals where the water is smooth,
or from 2 to 230 miles. When we have to provide wood that the six axemen will cut in two days as much wood as serves her for one, that is for
12 or 14 hours—so that when not supplied with wood from the Forts, we
have to stop 2 days to provide fuel for the consumption of one. In such
cases our progress is slow and may be estimated one day with another at
90 miles in 3 days or 30 per day.
In the canals we do not find it safe to run at night owing to the quantity
of drift timber which the tide carries along; and which if it came in contact
with the Paddles, would break them to pieces, and perhaps cause some
serious injury to the vessel and engine. On the whole she will give the most
effectual blow to the opposition which they have ever met with on the Coast,
and will also lessen in a great measure the traffic carried on amongst the
natives themselves.28
Regarding the trading results of this first cruise, Finlayson
had this to say:—
The Returns of the Steamer are from various causes smaller than they
would under circumstances of a different nature, have been. Her late
arrival on the coast;   together with the duty of examining many of the
(26) Finlayson to McLoughlin, dated Fort McLoughlin, September 29,
1836. (H.B.C. Arch. B. 223/b/12.) In transcribing this report, periods
have been substituted for the dashes commonly used in the old fur-trade
correspondence, when the end of a sentence is obviously intended.
(27) Dunn, op. cit., p. 266.
(28) Finlayson to McLoughlin, September 29, 1836. 178 W. Kaye Lamb. July
interior Canals operated against her collecting many Furs this season so
that it was the 18th July [sic, should be June] before she set out on her
first trading voyage, and since that time she has made several cruizes the
result of which considering the late season of the year are not discouraging
—and in comparing the general returns of the N. W. Coast this season with
those of the former I am happy to say there is a considerable increase in
favor of this one.29
Finlayson had been instructed to investigate the report,
brought by natives to Fort McLoughlin, that outcroppings of
coal were to be found on Vancouver Island,30 and when writing
to Dr. McLoughlin he supplemented the brief reference to the
matter already quoted with the statement that it was " situated
on the N. E. end of Vancouver's Island about Lat: 50-30 N. and
Long: 126-35 W. It was examined," he adds, " so far as our
time and means would permit very minutely and Mr [Peter]
Arthur, the first Engineer pronounces them to be of very good
quality."31    John Dunn once again supplies additional details:—
Mr. Finlayson with a part of the crew, went on shore, leaving me in the
ship, to conduct the trade; and after some enquiries and a small distribution of rewards, found, from the natives, that the original account given
at Fort M'Loughlin was true. The coal turned out to be of excellent
quality, running in extensive fields, and even in clumpy mounds, and most
easily worked all along that part of the country.
The natives were anxious that we should employ them to work the coal;
to this we consented, and agreed to give them a certain sum for each large
box. The natives being so numerous, and labour so cheap, for us to
attempt to work the coal would have been madness. They were greatly
surprised when they first saw the steam boat, saying she could do anything
but speak; and the white man must have been assisted in the work by the
Great Spirit.*2
This was the coal deposit near which Fort Rupert was later
constructed, and to which reference was made recently in this
Finlayson's report covered the activities of the Beaver until
September 29,1836. After making the cruise to Nisqually which
he mentions she went north to Fort Simpson, and there spent the
(29) Ibid.
(30) On this report see Dunn, op. cit., pp. 240-244;   H. H. Bancroft,
History of British Columbia, San Francisco, 1887, pp. 186-187.
(31) Finlayson to McLoughlin, September 29, 1836.
(32) Dunn, op. cit., p. 241.
(33) See  John  Haskell  Kemble,  " Coal  from  the  Northwest   Coast,
1848-1850," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II. (1938), pp. 123-130. 1938 The Advent of the " Beaver." 179
winter. What may be regarded as her trial cruises were over;
and in the spring of 1837 Captain Home relinquished command
to Captain W. H. McNeill, under whose guidance she resumed the
trading, freighting, and exploring for the Company, which were
to be her trivial round and common task for two decades to come.
W. Kaye Lamb.
Provincial Library and Archives,
Victoria, B.C. 180
W. Kaye Lamb.
1. Particulars taken from a copy of the Certificate
steamer Beaver, registered at Lloyd's May 6, 1835.
the Archives of the Hudson's Bay Company.)
of Registry of the
(From the copy in
Length of Keel         ]
Rake of Stem            |
100'    9"
Rake of Stern Post J
Extreme Breadth
Depth of Hold
Power of Engines
2 of 35 H.P. each.
Scantling of Timber
Sided    Moulded
Inches     Inches
Sort of Wood
Timber and space, each
12 and 10%  in
Engine Boom
Floors in the middle
9           10
English oak
1st Foothooks
8%         7%
n         it
2nd        „
7             6%
it         >t
6%         6
a         a
Top Timbers
6             4_
a         a
Deck Middle Beams
8             7
African oak
Iron Hanging Knees
Paddle Beams
12           12
African oak
Main Keelson
12           12
tt         a
11           14
No.    Length
Engine and Boiler Sleeper
s    4    48' & 50'         10           16
African oak
Thickness of Plank
2%"           Ceiling
2 Wales
4"               2 Bilge Planks
3"               8 Upper Deck Clamps
2%             Shelf Pieces
Shear Strake
Plank Shears
Thickness          2%"
Waterways        3"
Heel-knee and Dead Wood                            1%"
Scarphs of the Keel
Keelson Bolts
Sleeper Bolts
Bolts thro' the Bilge and Foot Waling         %"
Butt Bolts
Upper Deck Beam Bolts
Hooks Forward at Throat                              1"
Hooks Forward at Arms
Masts, Yards etc.
M_inmMast    f        0f sufficient ■•» an<i leng«>
Mizen Mast 1938
The Advent of the " Beaver.'
Two suits new.
2 Pumps and 1 Force Pump.
Cables, Cordage etc.
Cables, Iron       240 fathoms
Hawser 7"
Towlines 4%"
Warp 3%"
Anchors Boats
3 Bowers 2
1 Steam
1 Kedge
Standing and Running Rigging all found to be
sufficient  in   size   and  good   in   quality
Yes.    New.
Surveyor's Remarks.
The quality, squaring and workmanship.
Engine Room.
Floors filled in solid to the
floor heads or to what place.
Arrangement of sleepers.
Outside  and  inside.    Quality,
edging and workmanship.
Iron or copper.
Butt bolts through and clenched,
or otherwise.
If diagonally trussed or otherwise.
If sheathed, coppered, doubled,
General observations and opinion
as required by the instructions.
AH frames English oak of good quality,
well squared and free from sap.
Frames dowelled together at the
heads.    Good workmanship. _
Filled in to the floor heads. 4 sleepers
—2 on each side of main keelson.
English oak plank down to the bilge
from thence to the keel elm The
bottom shifted 3 between and 5
feet shift.    Plank well wrought and
Copper to the wales.
Through and clenched inside.
Respective plates diagonally placed.
Wood sheathed, fitted and coppered
The vessel was all framed in the
square body, and the 1st tuttocks
bolted to the floors. The shifting
of the 1st and 2nd tuttocks was
2' 11" to 3' 3"; 2nd and 3rd from
3' to 3' 6". Dowelled together
with square heads and heels. Cross
checked fore and aft under the
keelson. Well constructed and workmanship generally of the best qual-
ityv Shifted 3 between with not
less than 5" shift. In the opinion
of George Bayley, the surveyor,
the vessel was entitled to be classed
12 A 182
W. Kaye Lamb.
2. Particulars  taken from the Certificate of  Machinery  of the  steamer
Beaver, issued by Lloyd's December 1, 1839.
Estimated power;
70 h.p.
Diameter of Paddle Wheels;
Length of Paddles;
Breadth of Paddles;
If upon 1st or 2nd motion:
1st motion
No. of revolutions per minute
average 27
Size and condition of holding
1H" in diameter.    Good condition
down bolts.
Where stowed:
In coal boxes.
If in contact with boiler:
Not in contact
For what quantity room pro
20 tons.
If liable to get wetted:
Not liable.
Whether iron or copper:
Working pressure:
2% lbs. on sq. inch.
If   it   could   be   increased   at
If and what means of changing the water without
extinguishing the fires
and blowing off:
No. of feed pumps:
How attached:
State of boilers:
What   clear   space   upon
top side of the boiler:
Do. at the end:
Do. round the chimney.
Water changed by blowing off a certain portion every 2 hours without
extinguishing the fires.
To the air lump cross head
Clean and in good order.
Steam chest and chimney above deck
and clear from anything.
2 plunger pumps for b'lg water
2H" bore.
No. of hand pumps:
If  any  attached  to   engines:
their purpose and power:
No. of force pumps, with a
branch and hose of sufficient length to reach every
part of the vessel:
3. Particulars respecting the steamer Beaver furnished to the General
Register Office of Merchant Seamen, Custom House, August 7, 1838.
(From H.B.C. Arch. A 7/1/101.)
1835.  Blackwall, Green, Wig-
rams & Green.
Of Wood or Iron Wood
Dimensions Length feet 101
Breadth „      20
Number & date of Register
Vessell's Name
When, where _ by whom built 1938
The Advent of the " Beaver/
„      11
Draught Water at Load Line    Forward
Feet   8.4   including   14   Ins
Feet 8.6 Keel
Burthen in Tons, registered    Tons Old
„    New
Tonnage Engine Room
Final Tonnage
187 Builders Measurement
Engines                       No.
Horse Power of each
Total Horse Power
Length of Stroke & Number p Minute
3 feet
at full speed
High or Low Pressure
Diameter of Cylinder in Inches
Made by
Boulton Watt & Co.
Speed Greatest p Hour Average
Coals quantity carried in Boxes
20 Tons
consumed p Hour
7 Cwt
David Home
Hudson's Bay Company
How employed
In Trade on N.W. Coast of
Paddle Wheels diameter
13 feet
revolution p Minute full speed
4. Mr. E. W. Green, of the firm of R. & H. Green & Silley Weir, Limited,
Blackwall, successors to Messrs. Green, Wigrams & Green, who built
the hull of the Beaver, states that the following entries are found in
an old manuscript list of ships in his possession:—
Draft fore and aft
May 2,1835.   Beaver (steamer) Tonnage 188?%4 4'8" 5'4%"
July 8,1835.    Columbia „       2886%4 B'6" 7'10"
The date is evidently the date of launch, and it is surmised that the draft was
that of the vessels when they took the water. Most of the old records of the
shipyard were unfortunately destroyed by fire about fifty years ago.—(E. W. Green
to W. Kaye Lamb, January 5, 1938.)
5. Description of the hull and machinery of the Beaver given in the History
of the SS. "Beaver," by Charles W. McCain (Vancouver, B.C., 1894,
pp. 16-19). In some instances the details given conflict with the entries
in the official certificates printed above, but McCain gives some information, which, so far as is known, does not appear elsewhere in print.
Unfortunately he does not state the source from which this information
was obtained.
" The elm keel was of unusual size and strength, as was also the British oak stem
and stern-post. Along the keel were placed the frames, or ribs, at about 2 feet
centres. These were of the best oak and greenheart, carefully dressed and of large
proportions. The spaces between the frames were filled in solid, to a level above
the water line with curved timbers of the same material and thickness. The outside
planking was of oak and African teak, especially thick at the wales, and was
securely fastened to the frames with copper bolts and oak treenails. This was
covered with a thick layer of tarred paper, over which was placed a planking of fir,
securely held in position with spikes of a bronze composition. Then to preserve the
woodwork from the ravages of the destructive teredo, and also from the attacks of
barnacles, a sheathing of copper was tack-fastened all over the exterior of the hull,
with the exception of a narrow strip just below the gunwale.    The inside lining of 184 W. Kaye Lamb. July
the frame consisted also of oak and teak planking, across which on either side ran
diagonally heavy iron straps, which were fastened to the frames with rivetted
copper bolts.
" The main keelson was a massive stick of greenheart, 12 inches square, extending the entire length of the keel, to which it was securely bolted with stout copper
bolts, which passed entirely through both timbers. Parallel to this, on either side,
were the sister keelsons, of the same material, only not quite so heavy; these
were also bolted in a substantial manner on the floor planks, and through into the
floor timbers. Across the keelsons were fastened large greenheart timbers, which
formed the bed for the engines as well as the foundation for the furnaces. The
deck was supported by a series of stout beams, mostly of greenheart, the remainder
being African oak, or, as it is more commonly called, African teak. These were
placed at frequent intervals across the hull, to which they were fastened, their
supports being oak knees and massive angle irons. In addition to these were two
oak beams, about 10 inches by 14, which crossed at the points where the two spars
penetrated the deck.
" Copper was usually employed for all fastenings, and where this was the case
we found, on working about the wreck, that the wood around the bolts was almost
as sound as the day the bolts had been driven nearly sixty years previous. But
where iron had been used the wood about the bolts was badly decayed, and even
the bolts themselves, in some cases an inch in diameter, had almost entirely been
eaten away by the rust."
" The Beaver's engines, when packed at the works for shipment to London,
weighed 63% tons. This included the boiler and also the gearing for the paddle-
wheels, the cost being £4,500 sterling (over $22,000), or nearly ten times the
weight and cost of engines of like power at the present day.
" These engines, of which there were two of the same design, were termed 35
nominal horse-power each, and were of the side-lever type, which, in the earliest
experiments of steam marine navigation, was the style universally favored; but
this had long since become obsolete.
" The cylinders stood vertical and had a diameter of 42 inches, with a 36-inch
stroke. The piston-rod projected through the top of the cylinder to the centre of
a sliding cross-head, at the ends of which linked rods ran down on either side of
the cylinder to a pair of horizontal beams, or levers, which oscillated on a fixed
gudgeon at the middle of their length. The opposite ends of these beams were
joined by means of a crosstail, from which connecting rods led up to the crank
shaft above. This shaft, six inches in diameter, was in three sections, and was
thus supplied with four cranks, each of which was 18 inches in length. At each
extremity of the outer portions of this shaft was a paddle-wheel 13 feet in diameter,
made up of 11 radial arms 5 feet in width.
" The low-pressure boiler, which rested on brick furnaces, and from which
steam was carried through large copper tubes to the steam chests, was situated
about midship, but still some distance aft of the engines. This arrangement
crowded the paddle-wheels far forward, like the fins of a seal, thus giving the
little steamer a very unique appearance.
" As soon as the machinery was in position a trial trip was made, when, according to Lloyd's records, the Beaver attained a speed of 9% miles per hour, which
must have been exceedingly gratifying to her builders as well as to her owners,
for in those days this would be considered a very good rate of speed.
" During the time this steamer was under construction, the Hudson's Bay
Company was also having a bark built which should accompany the Beaver across
the seas to her destination. This bark was called the Columbia, and was of 310
tons burden, carried 6 pieces of artillery and 24 men.
"The Beaver's dimensions were: Length over all, 101% feet; breadth, inside
of paddle-boxes, 20 feet; outside, 33 feet; depth, 11% feet; her register was 109%
tons burden; she was armed with 5 guns—nine pounders—and carried a crew
I joined the Beaver as second engineer in the fall of 1877, and
stayed with her until 1879. Captain J. D. Warren was in command all the time I was on her. He was part owner as well,
along with Benjamin Madigan, the chief engineer, and Henry
Saunders, a grocer in Victoria.
She had just been rebuilt—in fact I worked on her and
helped to fix her up during this overhaul. The work was done
by the Albion Iron Works, at Victoria, while she lay at the old
rice mills wharf. She was given a new boiler—what is called a
" bricked-in " boiler—but she still worked at very low pressure.
They used to say that she could " travel on a vacuum," and not
on boiler-pressure at all. Not much was done to the engines
themselves; the important change made there was the installation of a new valve motion. The old Watt " D " valve she had at
first was awfully hard on fuel and hard to run. The Albion Iron
Works made the new set, which were poppet valves, like those
used in beam engines. Her housework was changed considerably
during the overhaul, and was cut down near the stern. Some of
the cabins were removed, but she still had many good staterooms down below. I didn't like it there, however, and had one
up on deck, just beside the paddle-wheel. I well remember the
thud-thud-thud of the paddles as they went round beside me.
The Victoria Colonist published an amusing description of
the Beaver when she was about to re-enter service. It appeared
in the issue dated October 27,1877, and reads as follows:—
" What have we here—skimming with the grace of a sea-bird
over the surface of the harbor and making the water boil and
surge in her wake in great, foam-laden swirls? A strange-
looking steam-craft truly, with rapidly revolving wheels set well
forward, and rakish funnel emitting a volume of intensely black
smoke. Friend, that strange-looking craft is the Beaver—the
pioneer steamer—the first steam-vessel of any class that disturbed the placid waters of the wide expanse of water known as
the Pacific ocean. She was built of live oak just 42 years ago
at a Thames shipyard, came around the Horn the same year,
ascended Columbia River under steam in the spring of 1836
[sic] : brought the late Sir James Douglas to Vancouver Island
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. II., No. 3.
185 186 John Fullerton July
to locate and found the future metropolis of British Columbia,
and has performed more hard work than any vessel now afloat
and now converted into a tow-boat is as sound as a dollar and in
better condition than ever for active service. She had just left
the Albion Foundry with a new boiler and modern improvements
to her machinery, has made the run from the wharf in Victoria
to Esquimalt harbor, passed round the Royal Squadron lying at
anchor there, and as we write is returning to her wharf at
Victoria—having occupied only one hour and eight minutes in
the trip. Captain Dug. Warren looks proud of the craft he
commands, and Mr. Madigan, the obliging engineer, under whose
supervision the improvements were perfected, informs us that
the live-oak timbers and frame of the Beaver are as sound as the
day on which they were placed in her hull."
This was all very well, but only three days later the Colonist
had to publish another item telling that the Beaver was in
trouble. We had the Henry Buck in tow. She was a coal
carrier—a sailing ship—and we were taking her up to load at
Nanaimo. When we got to Dodd Narrows we tried to go
through without waiting for the tide, but the current was too
strong. The Beaver's head swung round and the Henry Buck
bumped into her. Her smoke-stack fell off, and she was pretty
well disabled, as the outer bearing of her paddle-wheel cracked
and dropped down. We had to wait until another steamer came
and took the Henry Buck to Nanaimo, and then came back and
towed us to Victoria. Repairs did not take very long, however,
and we sailed for Burrard Inlet, as good as new, a few days later.
From there we crossed to Nanaimo, where we picked up our old
enemy the Henry Buck, which had been loading coal in the meantime, and took her down to the Straits, where we cast her off
in a fair wind.
The Beaver was in the general tow-boat business at this time.
She towed coal-ships to and from Nanaimo, and lumber carriers
to and from Burrard Inlet most of the time. If things were
slack she would go out to Albert Head and anchor there, and
wait for sailing ships to come up from Cape Flattery. The crew
went ashore if there was nothing in sight, and I have known her
to lie there a whole week waiting.    At other times she was very 1938 My Days Aboard the " Beaver." 187
busy. For instance you will find this item in the Colonist, early
in 1879:—
"The American bark Crusader, laden with 43,000 feet of
lumber from Hastings Mill, Burrard Inlet, and bound for Montevideo, was towed down yesterday by the steamer Beaver. The
Beaver then took out the bark Rover of the Seas, laden with
Wellington coal for Oakland, Cal., after which she left for Departure Bay, having in tow the bark Fanny Skolfield, chartered
to load coal at South Wellington mine for San Francisco. The
Beaver will return with the American bark Thomas Fletcher
laden with South Wellington coal for the ' Bay City.' "
She was dropping into the background, however, as larger
and faster boats appeared. When I served on her, the Alexander
and the Pilot were the chief rivals in the towing trade, and both
of them were much more powerful than she. In addition to coal
and lumber ships the Beaver towed booms of logs occasionally,
and later she carried cattle and did some general freighting.
China Creek was being worked by Chinese in the late seventies,
and the Beaver took about fifty of them to Alberni one time. She
was a good sea-boat, and could weather a storm without difficulty;
but I did not like travelling in her on the West Coast, especially
at night.
As I have said, Captain Warren was in command all the time
I served aboard. Mr. Jaggers—later Captain Jaggers—was
mate, and the rest of the crew consisted of two engineers, two
firemen, two coal-passers, a deck-hand, and a steward.
Though built so many years before, the Beaver was not hard
on fuel. The new valve motion installed when she was overhauled made her much cheaper to run, and was much spoken of
in this connection. She used slack for fuel as a rule, and never
burned wood while I was on her. She always called at Nanaimo,
as it was the only place where she could get coal. She burned
about 10 tons a day, or rather less than a ton an hour. If she
made six or seven knots we considered she was doing well, and
five knots was good going with a tow. It took her from morning,
to dusk to travel from Victoria to Burrard Inlet. I remember
once we came out of Active Pass and there was quite a gale
blowing.   We were towing a sailing ship, and had to let her go, 188 John Fullerton. July
as she was catching up on us.    She went on under sail, and beat
the Beaver to English Bay.
She had a wonderfully well-built old hull, which seemed able
to stand any amount of pounding. Once on the Burrard Inlet-
Nanaimo trip she ran clump on the rocks at Nanaimo, near the
lighthouse, though it was a fine night. She went hard aground,
but when we examined her forward we found she wasn't leaking.
All we had to do was wait until the tide rose and floated her off.
She could take care of herself in a blow, and safely weathered a
storm which drove four or five ships ashore in Victoria Harbour.
Having kept clear herself, the Beaver helped to pull them off.
She did not always succeed in her attempts at salvage, however.
Early in 1879, when the steamer Empire, which was then on
the San Francisco run, ran on the rocks near Active Pass, the
Beaver made every effort to pull her off, but without success.
A few days later the more powerful Alexander floated her without great difficulty.
I left the Beaver in 1879 under rather interesting circumstances. One day I met Gus Hawk, who was well known among
the old timers, and he told me that he had taken over the Lady of
the Lake, a little steamer then running on Dease Lake, in Cassiar.
The year before she had nearly blown up, and people were
scared of her. Hawk said he needed a reliable engineer, and
offered me $150 a month and my expenses up and back in the
fall if I would take the job. I accepted, and that summer I
bought a one-third interest in the boat. The next summer I
bought her outright; and for the next five years I ran her on
Dease Lake—far from the Coast, and from my famous old ship,
the Beaver.
John Fullerton.
Translated by
Captain Harold Grenfell, R.N.
Edited with an Introduction and Notes
Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.
In the first part of this journal Caamano recites the events
which led up to his appointment to the command of the Aranzazu,
in January, 1792. He was anxious to take part in the explorations in the north and hoped to command the Sutil and Mexicana
which were to explore the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Francisco
Antonio Mourelle, however, had been slated for this position.
December 1,1791, when the Mexicana was ready to sail Mourelle
was sick and it appears that Caamano was appointed to take his
place. Owing to an injury he received by having his horse fall
upon him he became incapacitated, and finally Captain Alejandro
Malaspina who was in Acapulco at the time loaned the viceroy
two of his lieutenants, Dionisio Alcala Galiano and Cayetano
Valdes, to make the exploration. Caamano was then transferred
to the Aranzazu, it having been decided to make an independent
examination of that part of the coast in the neighbourhood of
53° of latitude. This decision seems to have been brought about
by an interesting occurrence.
James Colnett, in command of the Argonaut, had appeared in
Nootka in 1789 with the intention of founding a colony or at least
a trading-post at that place or at some other farther north.
During the course of an altercation between him and Esteban
Jose Martinez, the Spanish commander who had recently occupied this port, Martinez seized him and his ship and sent him to
San Bias in his own ship. Jose Tobar y Tamariz, one of Martinez'
pilots, was placed in charge of the vessel. While Colnett's men
were prisoners at Nootka one of his pilots showed Gonzalo Lopez
de Haro a map of which Lopez de Haro gave some description in
a letter to the viceroy of August 18,1789. Nothing is said in the
letter about anything north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and
189 190 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
its north-east arm, but we know that Colnett had been trading
for furs as far south as Queen Charlotte Sound in 1787 and 1788,
and he no doubt suspected that a passage existed around Vancouver Island.
Colnett was finally released at San Bias, and with the Argonaut, and his long-boat rigged as a schooner, he set sail July 2,
1790. Some damage to the ships from stormy weather obliged
him to run into Bodega Bay and make some temporary repairs.
After leaving Bodega the ships parted company and Colnett,
unable to reach Nootka, put in at Clayoquot Sound, to the southeast of that port. January 4, 1791, he made Nootka with his
vessel, finding Francisco de Eliza in command there. Both
vessels had to be repaired and Eliza gave him all the aid he could.
Colnett soon departed for the Sandwich Islands, and in gratitude
(so Eliza said) for the favours he had received allowed Eliza to
have his map copied. What is presumably this copy is now in
the Museo Naval, Madrid, and Judge F. W. Howay obtained a
photostat of it for me some years ago through the British Consul
in Madrid. This map shows the coast from 49° to 58° and
contains two insets, the Puerto de San Jayme and Puerto Brooks.
From the change of English to Spanish in most of the names it
is evidently not an exact copy of Colnett's map but only a partial
one, and I am inclined to think with some additions later by
Caamano. The Arrowsmith map of 1790, plate XXXVL, in my
Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America down to the
year 1800, probably reproduces the main features of Colnett's
map or, at least, of Colnett's and Duncan's discoveries of 1787.
Nepean Sound, the theatre of most of Caamaiio's later work, is
plainly shown on it.
On October 10, 1791, Eliza sent the map to the viceroy, seeming somewhat doubtful of its accuracy. The letter reached San
Bias December 21, with the result apparently that a sudden
determination was taken to send a vessel to examine that
part of the coast in the neighbourhood of 53°. The Strait of
Bartolome de Fonte might be there, as Colnett evidently thought
it was, judging from subsequent entries in Caamaiio's journal.
Colnett, himself, in his Introduction to A late Voyage to the
South Atlantic Ocean, published in 1798, merely remarked that
he had discovered many considerable inlets between 50° and 1938 The Journal op Jacinto Caamano. 191
53° N., which were supposed to communicate with Hudson Bay.
Until such time as Colnett's recently discovered journal of his
fur-trading ventures of 1787 and 1788 shall be published we
can merely surmise that he considered Douglas Channel to be
the long-sought-for strait, or just possibly Clarence Strait,
although to be sure that trends in the wrong direction to connect with Hudson Bay.
Another expedition was ready to depart when Eliza's letter
reached Mexico, that of the Mexicana and Sutil, destined to
explore the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Juan Francisco de la
Bodega y Quadra, the commandant of the San Bias department,
had been ordered to proceed to Nootka to serve as Spanish commissioner in carrying out the terms of the Nootka Convention
with the British representative scheduled to arrive at Nootka
in the summer of 1792. A Spanish frigate, the Santa Gertrudis,
under the command of Captain Alonso de Torres, had been sent
all the way from Spain, no doubt to add some show of force at
the time of the negotiations at Nootka. She reached Acapulco
at the end of October, 1791, and January 15, 1792, arrived at
San Bias. March 5 she sailed for Nootka with Bodega aboard,
together with the Princesa under Salvador Fidalgo and the
In the meantime, the Aranzazu had been fitted out to examine
the coast north of Nootka. She was a slow sailer and drew
14% feet of water, too much for exploring inlets. All the other
vessels had already been assigned to duty and Caamano, who
was appointed to command this expedition, had to be content
with her. The first notice that I have seen of the Aranzazu
was her trip from San Bias to Loreto under Tovar in 1784. In
1788 she carried supplies to California and in 1789 made a
voyage to Nootka under Canizares. In the following year she
carried supplies to Monterey and in 1791 to Nootka. After the
exploration under Caamano she still continued in service, carrying the supplies and materials to Bodega Bay in 1793 for the
construction of an establishment there, and in 1794 she made
another trip to Monterey and Nootka. I have seen no reference
to her after 1796, but she probably continued in the service for
some time. The proper name of the vessel was Nuestra Senora
de Aranzazu, probably in honour of a famous image of the 192 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
Virgin to which a chapel had been dedicated in the Convent of
San Francisco in 1682. Aranzazu was a famous Franciscan
convent in Guipuzcoa, Spain.
No muster-roll of the vessel has been found and Caamano
in his journal only mentions two or three of his officers. We
know, however, that Juan Pantoja y Arriaga was his chief pilot,
and that Juan Martinez y Zayas, who had gone north on the
Activa, was transferred in Nootka to the Aranzazu as second
pilot. Jose Maria Maldonado, a surgeon and an anatomist, who
had also gone to Nootka in the Activa, was assigned to Caamano.
He seems to have acted as botanist, and Luis Paba may have
acted as surgeon. In all probability Agustin de la Peiia was the
chaplain and there seems to have been a draughtsman on board
named Atanasio (or Jose) Echeverria.
The instructions issued to Caamano provided that in the
first place he should make an examination of Bucareli Bay to
ascertain whether some of the inlets seen in 1779 simply ended
in dead ends or extended to the sea. After that he was to
examine the mainland coast in the neighbourhood of 53°. This
re-examination of Bucareli Bay had been for several years one
of the objects which the viceroy had in mind. We can only
speculate as to why this seemed of such importance, considering
the almost meticulous survey that had been made of this sound
•by the Arteaga expedition of 1779. After the return of that
expedition it had been suggested that this bay was peculiarly
adapted for a Spanish settlement in the far north. I suspect
that the obvious efforts of the English fur-traders to form a
settlement somewhere along the coast, and the further fact that
at the end of 1791 rumours reached Mexico that the Russians
were enlarging their establishments, had much to do with the
revisit by Caamano. As will be seen in the course of the narrative he found that one of the inlets extended to the sea; a
discovery of no value or importance.
It is hardly necessary to say that Caamano discovered little
or nothing, so far as we know at present. The fur-traders had
been frequenting the ports on the north side of the Queen
Charlotte Group and inlets on the mainland opposite for five
or six years. Under his instructions Juan Zayas apparently
followed Douglas Channel up to or near its end, probably the 1938 The Journal op Jacinto Caamano. 193
first European to do so. He adopted some of Colnett's place-
names and gave new ones to other places which in some cases
had already been named two or three times. His main interest
seems to have been in the natives, and his descriptions of them
and their customs are long and sometimes tiresome, but always
instructive as the earliest known extended description of those
on the mainland. Vancouver in his explorations of the following
year made use of Caamaiio's map and possibly of his journal
as he rather carefully refrained from changing the names which
Caamano had given to places not previously named. Although
Vancouver was in Nepean Sound neither he nor Caamano discovered the famous Estrecho de Fonte, which according to
Colnett was in this vicinity. This is not at all strange considering that it did not exist.
Caamano first appeared on the coast in command of the
Princesa, which left San Bias April 13, 1790. At this time he
was a teniente de fragata, equivalent to a second lieutenant.
He had obviously come out from Spain the year previous with
Bodega in company with several other naval officials whom the
government sent out to renew the exploration on the coast. He
remained in Nootka until the following May when he returned
to San Bias with his ship. He brought back a diary which at
present is in the Archivo General in Mexico, Seccion Historia,
Volume 69. Attached to it are six small maps (numbered
773-78 in my Cartography). Two of these maps seem to have
been copied from Colnett's map, the others deal with Nootka
or near-by places. His diary for 1792, a translation of which
is printed here, is contained in the same archives and the same
section but in Volume 71. A substantial extract from this
journal was published by Martin Fernandez de Navarrete in
Tomo XV. of the Documentos Ineditos para la historia de
Espana, Madrid, 1849.
Attached to the document in the archives in Mexico are two
maps (numbers 801 and 804 in my Cartography), These
embrace the large general map on which the route of the vessel
is marked down and a plan of Bucareli Bay. Five other plans
of various ports are now to be found in the Library of Congress.
They constitute numbers 802, 803, 805, 806, and 807 in the List
of Maps in my Cartography.   Two plans very much reduced 194 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
and the general map are reproduced in this translation. The
presence of these maps in the Library of Congress is rather
singular. They were originally bound with a large number of
others in a volume which, I understand, was transferred from
the War Department to the Library of Congress some years ago.
The volume must at some time have been in the archives in
Mexico and it seems to have been there even later than the
Mexican war, so it does not appear to have been looted during
the American occupation of the city.
Caamano continued in the service for some time. In 1793
he made a voyage to the Philippines. In 1797 he was for a time
in command of the department of San Bias, having previously
made a trip to California in the same year. In 1798 and in 1800,
as commander of the Concepcion, he carried the supplies to
California. In 1803 he was absent from the department on
leave. He was at that time a teniente de navio, that is to say,
a first lieutenant, and was receiving pay at the rate of 160 pesos
a month. I have no later record of him, but an examination of
the documents relating to the San Bias establishment of later
date might disclose more information. I have never seen an
account of his services nor a petition for promotion, but such
may exist somewhere in the great mass of documents relating
to the San Bias establishment. From the fact that he was a
teniente de fragata when he came to California, a rank not
often reached before a man was 35 or 40 years of age, he was
probably born about 1750, and as he was a man of considerable
education we may be sure that he had had a good technical
training in one of the government academies at which men were
trained to become officers in the navy.
All of us who are connected in any way with the publication
of this translation are indebted to Captain Harold Grenfell, a
retired officer of the Royal Navy, who very kindly consented to
do the work without remuneration but as a contribution to the
history of the northwest coast.
Henry R. Wagner. 1938 The Journal op Jacinto Caamano. 195
Extract from
lieutenant in the Royal Spanish Navy, commanding U.CM.
Frigate Nuesora Senora de Aranzazu, giving an account of
the courses made in this vessel, and of the discoveries and
surveys effected by him on the coasts of North America,
since sailing from the Port of San Bias on March 20,1792.*
Considering it desirable to obtain more detailed information
concerning the Northwestern coast of North America, His
Excellency the Cande de Revilla Gigedo, Viceroy of New Spain,
on November 20, 1791, appointed me to carry out a survey of
the Straits of Juan de Fuca under the orders and direction of
Commander [capitan de fragata] Don Dionisio Galiano.
I was informed of this appointment on December 7 by Captain [capitan de navio] Don Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra,
the night of his arrival at Tepic from Mexico City (whither he
had been summoned), at the same time I received his instructions
to take at once the two schooners, Sutil and Mexicana, under
my command so far as Acapulco, from whence they were to
proceed in execution of the above named commission.
Delighted by this prospect of fulfilment of my own ardent
wishes, the following day I put together my most necessary
belongings and set out in all haste at three in the afternoon on
December 9, to ride the seventy miles from Tepic to San Bias,
so as to reach the latter by daybreak of the 10th, the date on
which I was due to sail.
In spite of the rain that had continuously fallen since the
morning, and of the hilly nature of the country, my speed was
such that I had already covered seventeen miles in the first one
and one half hours, when misfortune overtook me. My horse
stumbled descending a slope, and came down so suddenly that
I fell with my left leg under him, and struck the ground heavily
with my left shoulder.   The disabled state in which I was lying
* " Extracto del Diario de las navegaciones, exploraciones, y descubri-
mientos hechos en La America Septentrional por Don Jacinto Caamano,
Teniente de Navio de La Real Armada, y Comandante de la Fragate de
S. M. Nombrada Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu desde el Puerto de San Bias,
de a donde salio en 20 de Marzo, de 1792." 196 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
led me to suppose that I had suffered a serious injury, though
this turned out to be no more than a few bruises and a slight
dislocation of the shoulder.
I decided, then, to return to Tepic, whence I made a report
of this unlucky accident both to the Viceroy and to the Commandant of San Bias Naval Station.
The latter, unwilling to delay the sailing of the schooners
until my recovery, now ordered them to sea under command of
Lieutenant Don Francisco Maurelle, who had earlier been
appointed for this service. On hearing this news, which greatly
upset me, I wrote to the Viceroy by the following post, begging
to be allowed to proceed overland to Acapulco, without waiting
for my complete recovery, so that I might still be able to
execute the commission with which he had been pleased to
honour me.
However, on the 28th of this same month, and by the identical
courier who had brought the report to him of the schooners
having sailed and of my accident, His Excellency had already
written, informing me through my commanding officer that
since these vessels would be detained in Acapulco up to the end
of February or early March of the new year, I was to repair
thither in order to proceed with them, should my health by that
time be sufficiently restored.
Fortune, it seemed, had now returned to favour my wishes.
Therefore, although hardly convalescent, but trusting that determination would carry me through, on January 1, 1792, I set
out for Mexico City, 700 miles distant, and covered this distance
in eighteen days. I wanted to lay my case before the Viceroy,
as I had now been offered the command of the frigate Aranzazu
for the purpose of carrying out the survey that I have since
made in her, feeling still strongly attracted by the prospect of
taking part in that of the Juan de Fuca Strait, even though
in a subordinate capacity.
On January 19, therefore, I waited on His Excellency, who
received me with all the customary kindness of his gracious
In the most courteous fashion he explained the reasons that
had led him to stand by his earlier decisions, adding however,
that since the San Bias naval authorities wished Maurelle and 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 197
myself to take part in that voyage, he left it to our option to
do so or not.
Surprised by such great consideration, being also anxious to
choose to the best advantage, I asked for a little time in which
to make up my mind. This granted, I began further to turn
the matter over, and then realising that the difficulty of finding
accommodation for three officers in each of the schooners as
represented by their captains, was a real one; in view, too, of
the fact that two officers had already been lent to them from
the corvettes under command of Don Alexandro Malaspina, and
that in my present lame condition I could be but of small help
to them, also that the survey of Puerto de Bucarely and of the
coast between it and Nootka was of equal importance (since not
so much was yet known about it as of Fuca Strait); it was not
long before I came to a decision. On the 22nd therefore, I again
sought an audience with the Viceroy, at which I explained to
him that should he think proper to appoint me to the command
of the Aranzazu, I would return to San Bias to take it over, and
trusted to give proof in her of my zeal for the service. As the
Viceroy entirely approved of this determination, I set out again
from Mexico at 11 on the forenoon of January 25, and making
the most of every opportunity, reached Tepic on February 6.
Indeed, during the twenty-six days elapsed since leaving the
latter place, I had spent but six in the capital, while covering
1350 miles in the saddle, over not the best of roads.
Although the series of mishaps just related had been enough
to dampen anyone's ardour, my original decision to let nothing
stand in the way of sailing on this expedition during the current
year, remained unshaken. From February 8, therefore, the
date when the San Bias naval commandant officially notified me
of my appointment to command the Aranzazu stating that she
must be ready to sail in his company by the 20th, I continued to
push forward the work with as much energy as if nothing had
befallen me. My greatest worry was the difficulty experienced
of fitting out my own vessel, in this country of poor resources,
after having done the same for the two frigates, Xertrudis and
Princesa, and the brig Activo. My efforts, however, served to
provide all that was indispensable, and to be ready for sea by
the given date.    In spite of this, the Aranzazu remained inactive 198 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
until March 20, because the commander of the expedition (who
had sailed with the Xertrudis and Activo on the 1st) had ordered
me to wait for the reply to an urgent dispatch sent by him to
the Viceroy on that day.
This unexpected delay was the cause of fresh losses; that of
time being the most sensible, since I had foreseen that there was
none to spare.
His Excellency's answer at last arrived on March 18 at about
10 o'clock at night.
I would at once have asked permission to weigh, were it not
that the ship's company had to be paid. But as, in order to
check desertion, this is done only on the actual day of sailing, it
was not until 3 in the morning of the 20th that we weighed to
proceed in execution of my commission, as will be seen by the
attached summary of the Aranzazu's log-book.
In this letter, I have included only matters of moment, giving
but small space to the ordinary events of a passage so well known
as that from San Bias to Nootka and thence to Bucarely. In
doing so, I feel confident that the kindness of those to whose
notice this account may come, will excuse the various errors
sure to be found in it and in the subsequent ones, but at the same
time will look favourably on any parts that may seem deserving
of merit. To make it easier for them to do so, I must here state
that probably some of my longitudes, based only upon dead-
reckoning, may be found in fault; as, already, has been the
case with the general chart (embracing from Acapulco to
Unalaska) lately made by Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega
y Quadra, the officer commanding the San Bias naval district,
although this chart was compiled and corrected according to the
most reliable information derived from recent surveys and
accounts of voyages, as well as from the various astronomical
observations for longitude, etc., made by Don Alexandro Malaspina, and others. But if errors, due either to the instruments
used or to the observer, are to be found in positions charted by
Cook, La Perouse, Malaspina, or Vancouver, each employing
the best perfected means of his period, it should be excusable to
discover some when the compass and log alone have been
On this point, therefore, I have no fears of censure from well
informed readers. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 199
Brief summary of Events during the Cruise; together with my
Notes concerning the Life and Customs
of the Indians.
Departure from San Bias, and arrival at Nootka.
At 3 in the morning of March 20 [1792] we weighed and
made sail with the land breeze from San Bias. On May 14, a
couple of hours before sunrise, we anchored in Nootka Sound.
Nothing worthy of note happened on this fifty-five days
passage, in the course of which we experienced fine weather,
and the prevailing winds of these latitudes.
In this harbour, we found laying at anchor the following
men of war belonging to His Catholic Majesty: the Xertrudis,
frigate; the Activo, brig; and the two schooners, Sutil and
Mexicana. These vessels had rendezvoused here preparatory to
sailing on their various commissions.
Captain Don J. F. de la Bodega y Quadra, commanding
H.C.M.S. the Xertrudis, was awaiting the arrival of the British
naval officers despatched as commissioners, in order to hand
over to them territory according to the convention concluded
between the two governments.
On May 16 he ordered me to prepare for sea with all despatch,
so as to be ready to sail for Puerto de Bucarely for the purpose
of exploring its various arms, and surveying the coast lying
between it and Nootka. I was to use every effort to discover
and chart the principal channels, gulfs, and harbours, so far as
these were yet unknown.
I was also instructed to determine the actual position and
existence of the Straits of " de Fonte," considered by recent
opinion as doubtful, or even imaginary; and was informed that
all these points were in accordance with His Majesty's wishes.
Having refitted the Aranzazu so well as the poor resources
of this station allowed, for, although my appointment was to
undertake this surveying expedition, we had left San Bias
carrying stores and provisions for the vessels lying in Nootka
and despatches for the New Californian " Presidios," we weighed
and made sail from Nootka at 6 a.m. on June 13.
The matter of greatest anxiety to me was the advanced
season of the year, that now left us hardly more than a couple
of months for the execution of a commission embracing so many 200 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
objects of interest and of danger. My cares, too, were made
heavier by the poor sailing qualities of the ship under my command, and the fact that she drew so much as fourteen and one
half feet of water. At the same time, our difficulties were
increased through the scanty, confused, and nonconsonant
accounts of this stretch of coast given by private adventurers
(for no government expedition as yet had visited it), and by the
continued fogs that are so often experienced off it.
All these circumstances, however, together with others that
I do not particularize, exercised no effect on my resolution to
carry out the orders of my Sovereign, even to the last extremity,
in conformity with his wishes as these had been explained to me.
The only interesting event during the month of our stay
in Nootka, was the arrival, on May 26, of the French frigate
La Flavie from Valparaiso. She had been despatched from
L'Orient, with instructions to search for tidings of M. de la
Perouse, and was now come to these shores, intending to call
at the Russian settlements, and thence to visit Chinese waters.
On June 1, the two schooners Sutil and Mexicana, respectively
commanded by Don Dionisio Galiano, and Don Cayetano Valdes,
each capitan de fragata, left for the Straits of Fuca. Bad
weather drove them back the same evening; but they again
sailed on the 5th.
I was unable, during this stay, to gather any fresh information in regard to the Nootka Sound Indians, to supplement the
observations noted in the Journal sent by me to His Excellency
the Viceroy of New Spain, in 1791; wherein I gave details of
their life and customs. Being already well known, there is no
need for me to repeat them here.
Departure from Nootka Sound, and arrival in Bucarely Harbour;
together with some Notice of the Natives
at the latter Place.
After a passage of twelve days, we reached Bucarely on
June 24. Owing to constant fogs and thick weather, it had been
possible to get sights on but two occasions. In spite of this, our
first land fall was the Farallones, off the entrance to the harbour,
wherein we anchored at midnight. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 201
The winds experienced on this passage were mostly southerly,
south easterly, and south westerly, blowing fresh, with heavy
The approach to Puerto de Bucarely is seven miles wide, and
very deep water, with soundings of six to eight fathoms at a
distance of one or two cables1 from its steep and rocky shores.
The bottom is all of rock or large shingle. It is free of shoals
or hidden dangers, except off the western headland, named Punta
de San Bartolome, where rocks extend for not quite a mile to
the southward of the point. Viewed from seaward, at distances
between twelve and eighteen miles, this point gives a false
appearance of being three small islands, of which the middle one
is the largest and looks like table-land.
The eastern headland, Punta de San Felix, is a flattish bluff,
off which the only danger that I could observe was a single
Within the entrance, one sees numerous large and small
islands, covered with pine trees of several kinds; also, various
arms and inlets.
On the eastern shore, the inlet known as Puerto de Santa
Cruz is at once noticeable. This roomy and secure harbour is
easy of entrance, by borrowing on either shore, so as to avoid
a sunken rock that lies in mid-channel. Continuing to the
northward, there are, successively, the following arms: Dolores,
Refugio, and Estrella.
These are all very good anchorages, but useful only when
Puerto de Santa Cruz is already occupied, or unable to be made.
All the land in this neighbourhood, up to Punta Delgada, is less
hilly, but more fertile, and grows a larger amount of plants fit
for human use than that to the westward of this point, where
the high steep mountains, broken by the various inlets as shown
on the plan, offer neither space nor facilities on the narrow
strips of ground between them and the water.
The two harbours on this western side, named Asuncion and
San Antonio, I consider preferable to the foregoing; and
especially San Antonio wherein we anchored, in twenty-three
fathoms, at 8 a.m. of the 25th. This port, owing to the surrounding hills, affords complete shelter from all winds, except
(1) A cable is 100 fathoms, or 600 feet, approximately.—H. R. W. 202 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
those from between S.E. and East, to a vessel anchored either
in the entrance or the middle.
There is excellent holding ground throughout, but the best
berth is in the S.E. portion of the harbour, in twenty-eight,
twenty-four, or twenty fathoms water, on a bottom of sand and
Rain continued throughout the 26th and 27th, but was somewhat less on the 28th. On this day the pinnace and cutter,
commanded by two master's mates, and manned by twenty-nine
seamen and marines, well armed and provisioned for twenty
days, were sent away in order to survey the channels that had
not been previously examined by our expedition in the year 1779,
but with directions not to spend more than fifteen days in this
work unless something presented itself to justify a more thorough
Being desirous of acquiring information in regard to the
customs and manner of living of the natives, I pursued various
enquiries concerning them during the period of our boats'
absence. The result, however, was not very convincing; for,
besides the fact of the local dialect being totally different from
that of the Nootka Indians, with which I had some acquaintance
through having spent a whole year on that tedious station, I
actually saw but a few natives, who came alongside the ship to
barter sea otter skins, mats made of the inner bark of pine trees,3
cloaks woven from the same material, and other trifles. These
Indians seemed anxious chiefly to obtain cloth of serge or baize,
or other material that might serve for protective covering.
(2) This bay, which is in reality more like a sound, had been thoroughly
examined in 1779 by the expedition of Ignacio Arteaga. The vessels lay
in the Puerto de Santa Cruz while a reconaissance was made by Francisco
Antonio Mourelle in the long-boat. It had been discovered by Juan Francisco
Bodega y Quadra in 1775 on his return from the north, and he had named
it in honour of the then viceroy, Bucareli y Ursua. The various place-
names which Caamano mentions in his journal, with the exception of the
two points at the entrance and that of the sound, which had been named by
Bodega, had been given by the Artega expedition. Caamano did not
apparently visit the northern part of the sound.—H. R. W.
(3) In this and the many other references later in the journal, the inner
bark of the cedar-tree is meant—that of yellow cedar for clothing, and red
cedar for matting and basketry, though yellow cedar was used sparingly for
the latter class of work also.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 203
They would however, also accept small shells, provided these
were green. They never asked for either iron or copper, articles
that they seemed to hold in small account, and with which they
appeared to be well supplied.4
The men were all lusty and well shaped, with heads not dis-
proportioned to their bodies. They are of light colour, large-
framed, with cheerful faces and good features. Their hair was
lank and about twelve inches in length. Everyone carries a
sheath knife slung around the neck. This is a well sharpened
dagger,5 consisting of a blade some twelve inches long and four
in width. The pommel encloses another smaller knife about
six inches long and four broad with a rounded point and rather
blunt edges, which is used to give the first blows, and for
wounding the face. Few of them, indeed, are without ugly scars
of wounds made by these or other weapons, on different parts of
the body. The hilt, also of iron, is leather covered, and is fitted
with a thong some seventeen inches long, for securing it to the
hand. These knives were so well fashioned and finished, that
at first I felt sure they were not of native manufacture, but later
I found that the Indians make them themselves quite easily from
the iron that they obtain by barter, heating it in the fire and
forging it by beating it with stones in the water.
The women are of the same colour as the men, equally large
framed, and are healthy looking creatures, with pleasing faces
and well proportioned features. The mouth, alone, disfigures
them, since the lower lip is pierced at birth with a wire that is
left in place, but from time to time changed for a larger one as
the child grows; until, finally, an oval piece of wood, concave on
(4) From this statement it would appear likely that the iron and copper
had been obtained from fur-traders. While undoubtedly some of these had
entered the bay it was generally stated that sea-otter skins were very
scarce there and consequently it is unlikely that the place was much
frequented.—H. R. W.
It is not surprising that the Indians in Bucareli Bay were well stocked
with iron and copper. Though they may not have had sea-otter skins to
trade, they undoubtedly had other commodities that were sought after by
the Haida of Dixon Entrance, to whom they were of easy access.—W. A. N.
(5) A good illustration of a dagger used in this area will be found in
George Dixon, Voyage . . . to the North-West Coast of America, London, 1789, plate facing p. 188.—W. A. N. 204 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
each side is inserted.6 This has a groove cut all round the circumference, into which fit the edges of the hole in the flesh.
Through their habit of enlarging this wooden toggle, the distention of the hole in the case of some of the older women becomes
so marked that the lower lip almost touches the nose when turned
up, while it entirely covers the chin when turned down; a
deformity that gives these women a disgusting appearance. The
girls, until married, wear very small earrings, and also hang
little half-moons of copper or mother-of-pearl from the gristle of
the nose, which generally is bored through for this purpose.
They set great store by mother-of-pearl7 for this reason, and for
placing square bits of it in their ears.
I was unable to find out about their marriage customs;
whether they live with one, or with several wives, for, though I
noticed some canoes alongside the ship in which the sexes were
about equally divided, in others the men greatly outnumbered the
women, and vice versa.
As this [Bucarely] harbour contains not one Indian village,
probably due to the fact that here there is no fishing, it was
not possible for me to obtain more information.
I could never distinguish any chief among these natives,
although such are usual among them. It was apparent that they
are a bold race and accustomed to fighting. Not only is this
shown by their offensive and defensive weapons, and the scars
of old wounds, as already related, but also by the following
incident: An Indian who had come on board, was stopped by
the sentry, in accordance with my orders, from going below on to
the main deck; whereupon he laid hold of the musket of the
marine; who immediately brought it to the " Charge" and,
doubtless, would have wounded the man had I not interfered to
stop him.    Nevertheless, the Indian, without showing the least
(6) This is the famous labret, which word will be used hereafter in the
translation.—H. R. W.
The labret is noted in many journals of the period when describing Indian
customs north of Queen Charlotte Sound. To the south of this locality we
have no records in historic times, though labrets have been found in middens
as far south as the Straits of Juan de Fuca.—W. A. N.
(7) In all probability haliotis (abalone) shell secured in trade, the
species native to the locality not being suitable.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 205
sign of fear or of haste, just turned round and made his way
quietly back into his canoe.
They use, in their wars, spears of 14 to 16 feet in length,8
with very broad, sharp, iron heads; bows, much larger and
better made than those around Nootka, arrows headed with bone
or iron barbed points, wooden swords, edged with flints, and
clubs, both of ordinary size.9
As defensive armour, they wear breast and back pieces,
covering from the shoulder to below the groin. These are made
of very smooth, cylindrical pieces of wood, about two-thirds of
an inch in diameter, strung on hempen thread like spun yarn,
and forming a cloth or covering that easily adapts itself to the
body and is proof against all native weapons, or even a musket
shot at moderate range. They wear similar protection on the
thigh; and, over all, a long ample shirt of buff10 or thick deer
hide. I was also told, though I did not actually see one, that
they use a kind of wooden helmet, or morion.
The women are better than the men at bargaining; should
they oppose or disapprove of a deal made by the men, it falls
through.11 They are active, vigorous, and show great vivacity.
By themselves they handle their paddles, or manage any canoe,
extremely well; although both the one and the other are heavier
and not so well built as those of Nootka. They go modestly
dressed;   as, over the tunic made of fine deer skin or of some
(8) Original Spanish states five or six varas. A vara is about 33
inches.—H. R. W.
(9) These spears were more likely used in hunting sea-otter, as the
measurements agree with those to be found in many museums. They are
thrown from the canoes, so are not suitable for fighting. I have no information regarding a sword edged with flints, but mounted stone weapons are
known from this area. Defensive armour of various types was used by most
of the Coast Indians. Good illustrations of that described here will be found
in Lisiansky, Voyage Round the World, London, 1814, plate I., and Pacific
Historical Review, V. (1936), p. 266, plate III.—W. A. N.
(10) Spanish vura. Later, Captain Grenfell translates this word as
elk.—H. R. W.
No elk inhabit this vicinity. Specimens preserved are identified as
moose hide, secured in trade with the Coast mainland Indians, who in turn
secured them from the Interior tribes. Later elk skins, obtained very
largely on the Columbia, became a regular article of trade.—W.A.N.
(11) Similar references to the women being the better traders can be
found for other tribes of the Northwest Coast.—W. A. N. 206 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
goods they have acquired that reaches from neck to ankle, they
wear a cape made from the skin of sea-otter, bear, or other
animal, that completes their covering.
One of their chief ornaments consists of three or four rings,
worn round the ankle and wrist, made of copper or iron. These
•are so extremely heavy as to give the idea of being fetters;12
especially those that some of the women and most of the men
wear round the neck. These are formed on a twisted, hawser-
laid, pattern; and are so large as to reach from one shoulder to
the other, as well as partly over the breast. They commonly
paint themselves with some black or red pigment, stick eagle's
feathers in their hair, and all stink foully.
The dress of the men is no more than a cloak made from the
skins of the animals described above, or from the inner bark of the
pine tree. One in particular that I bought, the only example of
its kind that I saw, was made of deer skin dressed a white
colour.13 It was of the same fashion as the tunics already mentioned. The front was trimmed with five rows or bands of the
same material, one above the other, about two and three-quarter
inches wide, from each of which depends a four-inch fringe.
Both this, and the bands, were ornamented with feathers of various colours, bits of whalebone, and of the inner pine bark, dyed
green, red, or purple. On the sleeves are several narrow rows
of similar kind. Altogether, this produced quite a good effect
at a little distance; and I was told by the Indians that these were
their best, or holiday, clothes.
I also obtained a cloak, or mantle, made from the inner wool
of the wild goat.14 This wool is very fine in the thread; well
spun, and well woven. Narrow strips of sea-otter fur are worked
into this; and are so neatly sewn that the outer side of the garment has the appearance of a whole skin, while nothing in noticeable on the inner side. A flounce is left all around the smaller
circumference, deepened at the back, except where the collar is.
(12) Twisted iron neck-rings were made by ships' armourers in great
numbers about this period, as they were in great demand by the Haidas
about Dixon Entrance.—W. A. N.
(13) The tunic described apparently is one secured in trade from an
interior tribe and made of caribou skin.—W. A. N.
(14) Possibly a type of Chilcat blanket with the addition of sea-otter
fur.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 207
This is well twisted, and rolls over for about nine inches, made
also of strips of lutria [sea-otter] fur. The back part is decorated with various figures or patterns in a purple colour. Altogether, this cloak is quite the best piece that I have seen made
by them.
The interior bark of the pine tree is also used to weave large
bags, or baskets, of so close a texture that they are employed as
containers for drinking water carried in their canoes.15
I was unable to get details of the construction of their houses,
beyond that they use pine bark cut into five or six foot lengths,
for roofing.16 These are placed, in the manner of tiles, over
long rafters, supported on forked posts of convenient height!
Whenever the Indians leave on a canoe expedition, intending to
be absent at night, they take these roof tiles along with them,
divided into handy sizes, and so set up their houses wherever
they happen to stay. We had evidence of this from those who
came to the harbour in order to barter with us, and then
remained there for the night.
The natives were greatly surprised at our abstaining from
any commerce with their women, whom they brought with them,
so we understood, for that purpose, since they are accustomed to
the English, and others, who trade in these parts, not only accepting, but also demanding, and choosing, them.
On June 29, the French frigate \La Flavie] that we had left
in Nootka Sound arrived and anchored near us. Evidently they
wished to make enquiries among these Indians for news of
M. de la Perouse, and, for this purpose, had brought with them
large quantities of toys and gew-gaws so greatly to the natives'
taste, that I fancy these would give away any intelligence in
order to acquire them.
On July 1, a brig came in from seaward, and proceeded up
into the interior waters of Puerto de Bucarely. The following
day she returned and passed out to sea, but we could not make
out her nationality, as she showed no colours.
(15) The water-tight baskets of this area were made of spruce root.—
W. A. N.
(16) Houses with roofing of cedar bark are now known to have been
only temporary shelters, erected when the Indians were unable to return
to their permanent homes.—W. A. N.
b 208 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
On July 8 our boats returned from the exploration of the
harbour. During the 10 days of their absence they had carried
out this duty to my satisfaction, having left no channel, or
entrance, unexamined; saving Ulloa Channel, as shown on the
plan. The latter seemed to offer little that was worthy of notice,
since innumerable islets were seen towards the N.EA in it,
which presumably indicated shoal water; while, to the S.W.d.,
one could see its exit to the sea. As, too, they did not wish,
contrary to my orders, to make further delay, they then decided
to come back, having experienced nothing remarkable during the
expedition. The few Indians met with behaved in a courteous
and hospitable manner, and showed signs of some contact with
They brought fish to our people, and offered them the use of
their dwellings. This tends to prove that the continual intercourse now taking place between them and the different nationalities who come to trade for sea-otter skins—of which there is
great quantity—is causing them to lose some of that fierce character, of which we Spaniards had experience in the year 1779.
Don Josef Maldonado, the botanist attached to our expedition
for the purpose of acquiring information relative to the natural
history of these regions, had accompanied the party making the
survey of the port.    He came across the following:—17
Land and Water Animals.
Black Bear. Weasels.
Elk. Stoats.
Red Deer. Wolves.
Wild Goat. Seals.
Coyotes (or " Indian Dogs "). Sea-otters.
(17) Maldonado's lists of natural history specimens are evidently compiled from those actually seen in the case of the birds, fish, and plants,
though from the terms used it is practically impossible to identify many
of them. With regard to the mammals, he possibly saw some of the species
mentioned, but the remainder he has listed from the materials used in various
articles of Indian manufacture. For instance, the elk (moose) and wild
goat do not inhabit the localities he visited.—W. A. N. 1938
The Journal of Jacinto Caamano.
Sparrow Hawks.
Procelarias pelagica [Stormy petrels?].
Procelarias litoral [Sand pipers?].
Oyster Catchers.
Salmon—of various kinds.
Halibut—of huge size.
Sardines—in great numbers.
Mojarras—(Sea-Fish: about 8 inches
long: broad head: large eyes: black
spot near tail: 2 blk. spots on gills:
dark in colour: oval shaped body:
sides rather compressed).
Shell Fish.
Cockles [Spanish pies de Vurro].
Canadian Pine.
Cypress (evergreen).
Circsea alpina.
A variety of " Dog's Grass " [Triticum
Greater Plantain [Plantago major?].
Seaside Plantain [Plantago maritima?].
Canadian Cork Tree.
Goose Grass.
Acena  alargada   [Plant  of  the   Rose
Sandal Wood [Santalum album].
Narcissus [Spanish Uva crespa 6 Uba
False Spinach.
Beet Root.
Moorish Carrot.
Salt Wort.
Variety of Fennel.
Woodpeckers—a new
Red Bream.
Dog Fish.
Grampus [Killer whale;
a mammal] in great
Mussels  (small).
Crabs—of various
Siberian Garlic.
Dog-tooth Violet.
Curly Dock.
Common Cranberry.
Winter Green.
Whortle Berry.
Three-leaved Heliotrope.
Berry Pear.
Common Rose.
Black Berry (Bramble).
Molucca Bramble.
Pennsylvanian Ranunculus.
Common Sloe.
Maryland Figwort. 210 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
Celery—strong smelling. Bearded Yellow Mimu-
Coriander. St. John's Wort.
Elder Berry. Common Bramble.
Garlic—strong smelling. A kind of Cabbage.
Willow-Herb, or Willow-Epilobe [Epi- Violet.
lobium angustifolium?].
.Broad Epilobe [Epilobium alpinum?]. Nettle.
Marsh Epilobe [Epilobium palustre?]. Common Fern.
Strawberry Tree [Salmon berry?]. Maidenhair Fern.
Three-nerved Sandwort [Arenaria tri- Lichens.
Service Tree [Pyrus sorbus?]. Mushrooms.
Sea Pea [Lathyrus maritimus?]. Siberian Star-wort.
Apple. Milfoil.
Around Puerto de San Antonio the ground rises, almost from
the sea shore, in precipitous heights, leaving but a narrow
margin consisting chiefly of shingle with a slender strip of earthy
matter, strewn with boulders. Several of the latter showed
veins of silver and copper, according to the opinion of some
among us acquainted with these matters. Several small pieces
were detached for future examination; and the fact of the
summits of these mountains being continually covered with thick
mist, is attributed to the attraction exercised by these metallic
By my observations it was established that the rise and fall
of the tide, at full and change of the moon (i.e., at " Springs "),
amounted to seventeen feet for three days in succession; but
at other times, only to fourteen feet. It was also noticed that
there was two foot more of rise in the tide by night than by day.
The time of high water (at full and change) was 12h. 30m.; and
the tidal interval was a regular one of 6h. 12m.
On the day of the boat's return, we unmoored, and lay at
single anchor, ready to proceed in execution of my instructions.
The wind, however, hanging in the S.E. quarter, the one that we
remarked as being the most prevalent in this region, hindered
our actual leaving until the 11th, on which day we weighed and
made sail to a N. breeze at 9 in the forenoon. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 211
Our first Departure from Bucarely, in order to carry out
the coast survey.
After passing Punta de San Felix, since my instructions
required me to view and survey the coast, we laid along shore at
a distance of five or six miles, as will be seen by the courses and
distances set down on the accompanying plan.
The wind, however, at 9 in the evening shifted into the
S.S.E.; whereupon we steered S.W., in order to clear the Isla
Basa and that of San Carlos,18 as well as to keep to windward
of the harbour (Bucarely). The night then setting in very thick,
I decided to stand off and on until morning, and then at daylight
to close the shore, so as to continue the running survey during
the following day if the weather would allow. Both the wind,
and my determination, held until the 14th; when, considering
its constancy and our own' danger, I thought it advisable to bear
up and run back into the port that we had just left, as already
I observed warning signs of an approaching gale, such as we
knew to be frequent at all seasons of the year, in these latitudes,
and feared lest the changes to which this could give rise in the
direction of the swell and strength of currents, might expose the
frigate to the risk of stranding during the subsequent calm;
especially as already we had been several times set within less
than a couple of miles distance of the land; and no reliance could
be placed in our anchors, as the bottom consisted of rock besides
shelving with great rapidity.
At 12.30 a.m. on the morning of July 15, in weather that
although not too clear was less thick than it would have been in
day time, we entered Bucarely Harbour, and by 7 a.m. came to
anchor in Puerto Del San Antonio. During this and the following day, we had a continuance of S. wind, with rain; but at
daybreak of the 17th, it was already rather clearer; and the wind,
shifting to, soon dissipated the clouds that hang around
these lofty peaks, although it was but a light breeze. Not to miss
this opportunity, the frigate was at once hove short, but the
faintness of the wind hindered us from making sail until 3.30 in
the afternoon, when anxiety to carry out my orders overcame
(18) Now known as " Wolf Island " and " Forrester Island." The latter
was discovered by Juan Perez in 1774 and named " Santa Cristina," but
Bodega changed it to " San Carlos " in 1775.—H. R. W. 212 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
any confidence that I could feel in the likelihood of the breeze
holding. During these three days of our second stay in Bucarely
Harbour, but one canoe, with two Indians in her, came alongside
to barter fish. This fact, coupled with those that I had already
observed on the former occasion, confirmed me in the opinion
that this locality is only very thinly populated, as the greatest
number that came at any one time did not amount to forty people,
counting men and women together.
Second Departure from Bucarely Harbour, to survey the coast
between it and Nootka Sound.
Arrival at Puerto Florida Blanca in Isla Queen Charlotte together
with some remarks upon the inhabitants*
N.B.—Henceforth, all names of localities underlined [printed in
small capitals] in the narrative, are those given by me to
places which I had discovered.
By 8 p.m. of July 17, the frigate was abreast of Punta de San
Felix, about 6 miles off.
We then continued to range the shore, at and inside of this
distance, until up with Cabo de MuNoz Gocens.19 I noticed
nothing worthy of remark on this stretch of coast, except the
Puerto de Baylio Bazan ; into which I sent the pinnace under
one of the master's mates, with orders to explore it; a duty that
he exhaustively carried out.
This harbour is situated in Lat. 54° 50' N., and Long. 29°
30' W. of San Bias. Along all this reach of the shore (which
I take to be an island), it can be recognized through lying under
the slope of a mountain shaped like an equilateral triangle, whose
summit both stands out from and overtops those of its neighbouring hills. Isla Valdes,20 lying in the midst of its mouth, leaves a
wide channel on either hand, convenient for entering or leaving,
and effectually shelters the interior area from winds all round
(19) Munoz Goosens. So named by Caamano in honour of Francisco
Munoz y Goosens, a Spanish naval officer. It was usually simply called
" Mufioz." This, by error, Vancouver changed to " Muzon," by which it is
now known.—H. R. W.
(20.) These names were given by Caamano in honour of Antonio Valdes
y Bazan. The bay is still called " Bazan," as Caamaiio's name was adopted
by Vancouver. All longitudes are west of San Bias, which is 105° 20' west
of Greenwich.—H. R. W. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 213
the compass. Inside, the anchorage is clean and roomy enough
for several vessels, besides being very convenient for wooding
and watering. I am, however, ignorant as to the natural products and the place appears to be uninhabited.
We anchored in Puerto de Florida Blanca21 at 7.30 in the
evening of the 20th, having spent the intervening time since the
17th off the range of coast lying between it and Bucarely.
I had decided to come hither because it seemed to me of very
great importance to acquire a definite knowledge of the point,
between which and Cabo Munos [Muzon] is formed the entrance
to the northern channel separating Isla Queen Charlotte from the
Isla Prince William [Prince of Wales and neighbouring islands]
which used to be thought mainland, but which actually is part of
an archipelago.
The day before entering Puerto de Florida Blanca, when off
Isla Langara about 8 o'clock of the evening, a canoe containing
four Indians came alongside, who asked for the captain.
So soon as I was pointed out to them, they begged my leave
to come on board.
This granted, one of the number immediately leapt up the
side with great agility, and came aft on to the quarter deck with
the utmost composure. Here he greeted me by the hand, gave
me pressingly to understand that he wished us to go down to my
I agreed; and there he again renewed his professions of
friendship; and enquired whether I intended bringing the frigate
into the harbour. On my replying that this was the case, he at
once opened the door of the larboard quarter gallery, from
whence he called to those in the canoe for an otter skin, and
presented it to me.
I then sent for some shells, knives, and looking glasses, to
give to him; with which he was greatly pleased. I then made
him understand that I must go on deck; whither he accompanied me, and where already was one of his companions. He
soon again asked me whether the ship would enter the harbour;
(21) This port was identified by Bancroft as the " Cloak Bay " of Dixon,
and in one sense this is correct; but Caamaiio's plan of the port shows that
the ship was anchored on the south side of Langara Island, between that
and the present Lucy Island, in Parry Passage.—H. R. W.  1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 215
and, upon my assuring him that she would, explained to me by
signs that he and his friend desired to remain and sleep on board.
I consented, whereupon he at once sent away the canoe, leaving
us all in admiration of the courage and confidence of these
They wandered all over the ship, without showing wonder
at anything, nor was there any object of which they did not
appear to. know the use, until 9 o'clock, when I had them to
supper with me. They ate of all that was on the table, showing
no sign of dislike of anything, or wishing first to taste it; and
were more at home in the management of fork and spoon than
any Spanish squireen. They drank wine and spirits at first
sight; and, altogether, their behaviour seemed to point to a
considerable intercourse with Europeans. After supper they
returned to the quarter deck; but very soon came down into my
cabin, where they were quickly asleep. This night, during which
I had hoped to bring the frigate to anchor (but was prevented
by the wind falling to a calm and by a powerful current setting
her away from the harbour), a schooner, that we had sighted
in the evening, crossed our bows just ahead of us.
We hailed to ask her nationality, whence from, and whither
bound. She answered, " English, from Macao," but we could
not catch her destination.22
Daylight on the 20th found the frigate set nine miles distant
from Isla de Langara, from whence two canoes could be seen
coming out to us. The first to arrive was that of the principal
chief in the harbour, by name Taglas Cania,23 and father of the
Indian who had boarded us the night before. He was accompanied by some forty-five people, including women and children.
This canoe had eight paddles each side. All, men and women,
were seated or kneeling except the Samoguet (a native word
meaning " skipper " or " coxswain "), who stood upright intoning one of their songs or chants, in which he was followed by the
rest in unison, and to which the paddlers kept time with their
(22) Judge Howay identifies this vessel as the Grace.
(23) This was the chief usually known to the fur-traders as " Cuneah,"
" Concehaw," etc. The " Taglas was adopted by Cuneah when he exchanged names with Captain William Douglas, of the Iphigenia, in 1789.
Descendents of this chief still use the name Douglas.—W. A. N. 216 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe. July
Two men, in the bows of the canoe, also beat this time with
the hilt of their paddles on a small thwart, placed for this
purpose and for the support of a large drum,24 which a lusty
native struck with his fists, producing sounds much the same as
those of a European bass drum. This sight greatly astonished
us, as did also the size of the canoe. I had the latter measured,
and found the following dimensions: length fifty-three feet;
beam, averaging six feet; depth, including that of two well fitted
wash-streaks, four and one half feet.25 These latter raised the
height of the gunwhale, and ran from stem to stern, which were
both fashioned as bluff cutwaters. We were not less struck by
the fine features and good figures of almost all in the canoe.
These, so soon as they came alongside, dropped their paddles and
proceeded to dress themselves, some in their native clothes, much
the same as those of Bucarely, but the greater number in long
frocks, coats, or jumpers, trousers, or loose short breeches, and
pieces of cloth serving as capes of different colours, but blue
The Samoguet's dress consisted of wide breeches made of a
light blue-grey serge, and a large cloak formed of marten skins.
This latter is the distinguishing mark of a village chief, and was
ornamented with a great number of extra tails. His son was the
first to speak, pointing me out as captain of the ship to his father,
who then saluted me, and asked leave to come on board.
This granted, he at once mounted the side, walked aft to me,
and gave me his hand. Then, gently touching my face with
both his hands, he said, " Bueno, Bueno." This was the first
time that I had seen this form of friendly greeting used by the
Indians; but, no doubt, they had learnt it from intercourse with
Europeans. Shortly afterwards, several more of the natives
came on board. Amongst these was one of the chief's own
daughters. She wore no wooden toggle [labret] in her lower
lip, and was, indeed, a good looking girl.
Her father made me a gift of her, with a view to the girl
being for my pleasure, as she herself later hinted to me in the
(24) Drums of this type were made of cedar in the shape of an oblong,
deep box, without a lid.—W. A. N.
(25) Canoes of this size were quite plentiful up to the beginning of the
present century.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 217
cabin, to which she had quickly betaken herself. Soon afterwards the second canoe arrived alongside. It was rather smaller,
and contained about twenty-five Indians of both sexes and all
ages, as well as another chief, called the " Tasen." All were
singing similarly to the first lot, though with less noise and
show. From this, I gathered that he was of inferior quality to
Taglas Cania; but he went through the same ceremonies and
saluted me in just the same manner.
I asked if there were good anchorage for the frigate inside,
or any dangers off the entrance. They assured me that the
entrance was clear and the riding within good. They also explained the nature of the approach from the position in which
we then were, and acted as pilots to bring the vessel in. On
noticing that the frigate did not head directly for the harbour, they
displayed considerable impatience; but were reassured when I
showed them how the wind did not allow of it. Again declaring
the anchorage was " Bueno, Bueno," they promised that we
should find there plenty of first rate nutria [sea otter] skins for
our barter.
About an hour before noon, the wind, which had been easterly,
shifted to the S.W.d., with which we still could lie our course for
the entrance. By this time, several more canoes had come out to
us, and were followed by others up to 7.30 in the evening, when
we anchored in twenty-three fathoms off the mouth of the
channel leading up to the harbour, as the wind did not allow of
a nearer approach. Shortly before this I sent for the chiefs,
telling them that they must go, as the frigate was unable any
longer to tow the canoes, whose number was now increased to
ten or twelve filled with upward of 200 people in addition to our
own pinnace and cutter. So soon as they caught my meaning,
they ran to the gangways, one each side, ordering every Indian
into the canoes, and these to cast off. They then followed in
their own, the principal chief taking his daughter along with
him. She, apparently, was not too well satisfied with the attentions that I had paid her, or the various trifles that I had given
her. I had also entertained her father and brother. Both had
dinner with me, when it gave me no little pleasure to observe the
former's graceful and easy manners. Indeed, in this respect,
the bearing, simplicity, and dignity of this fine Indian would bear 218 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
comparison with the character and qualities of a respectable
inhabitant of " Old Castile."
During the night, the frigate dragged her anchor into a
depth of 36 fathoms, caused by the current which sets through
the western entrance at a rate of over three knots. As, however,
I had no intentions of making a long stay, it was not worth while
to shift berth.
On the 21st, I sent the two master's mates away with orders
to survey the harbour and make a plan of it.
This day, also, a great number of natives came aboard; for,
besides those from the seven good-sized villages in its vicinity,26
the news of the arrival of the largest ship that had yet been seen
there, attracted people from those roundabout. The furs they
brought were of very fine quality, and also extremely well cured.27
The Indians wanted to exchange them for clothing, or shells, but
the latter they desired to have of as green a colour as those that
some wore in great numbers hanging at their ears. We were surprised to see that several had those of a sort that is found only at
Monterey, and even more surprised when they told us that we ought
to arrange that in Spain the meat be not extracted by heating the
shells, as this process damaged the enamel, but that it should be
done with a knife.28 I enquired who had taught them this, or
had given them the Monterey shells, but either they did not catch
my meaning, or I misunderstood their reply. The Tasen having
come aboard in the forenoon, I invited him to dine with me, and
I noticed that his manners were equally as good as those of the
(26) In his Contributions to the Ethnology of the Haida, J. R. Swanton
records the names of these villages, though remains of houses and totem-
poles were to be found at only three of the sites in 1900. The Rancheria de
Indian shown on Caamaiio's plan of del Puerto de Florida Blanca was called
Kiusta.—W. A. N.
(27) This neighbourhood was famous for fine sea-otter skins, and
the Indians obtained almost incredible quantities of them in the early
days.—H. R. W.
(28) These instructions on how to remove the meat from abalone-shells
are very interesting, as one of the unsolved puzzles of the Northwest Coast
is where the natives secured the many large pieces of deep green flawless
shell used as ornaments and for inlay work. Many of the shells gathered
to-day in California have little, if any, of the desired colour.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 219
former chiefs. This fact, together with the quality of his surroundings, led me to judge that he was in no respect inferior to
He was of ordinary height, and spare in body. He had a
cheerful expression, regular features, was light in colour, and
about fifty years of age. He wore the distinguished cloak of a
chief, breeches of flesh coloured silk ornamented with small gold
stamped flowers, and on his head a high hat. This went very
well with all the remainder, so that with his hair tied up in a
neat cue by a narrow lace of leather he gave the appearance of
being something quite different from what he really was.
Cania came on board at 5 o'clock that evening. He is of very
big frame, and stout in proportion, with a handsome face, and is
about seventy years old. His clothing, all of sky-blue cloth, consisted of two loose frock coats one over the other, ornamented
with Chinese cash,29 each one strung on a piece of sail-making
twine with a large light-blue glass bead the size of a hazel nut,
loosely attached to the material, and together forming a button.
His breeches, in the form of trousers, were also trimmed with
many of these cash, so that he sounded like a carriage mule, as
he walked. He had on a frilled shirt, and wore a pair of unlike
silver buckles; not, however, in his shoes, but at the feet of his
trousers. The trimming of his clothes was formed by the selvage
of the cloth; and this made up for the lining, which was altogether lacking. He wore a head-dress similar to that of the
Tasen; and, at a little distance, looked very fine in his extravagant costume.
Before leaving the ship, which they generally did at sunset,
the natives gave me one of their musical performances; but this
consisted of little more than a series of discordant shouts. A
blind man in one of the canoes began dancing to this accompaniment. In each hand he held the tail feathers of an eagle, which
appeared in jerking fashion from under his cloak, or as imitating
the gesture of flying, as he leapt to the cadence of the music,
thundering meanwhile at the singers in a terrifying voice, each
time more loudly.  The concert over, they all took their departure,
(29)  Chinese cash and brass thimbles replaced the puffin beaks or deer
hoofs commonly used on ceremonial costumes as rattles.—W. A. N. 220 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
seemingly well pleased with themselves, and leaving us no less so
at their great civility.
At daylight of the 22nd, the cutter in charge of a master's
mate, was sent to complete the survey and plan of the harbour,
with orders to return so soon as possible. They were back by
9 o'clock of the forenoon; and at 10, I landed with the greater
part of the seamen and marines in the pinnace and cutter, and
Mass was celebrated under an awning formed of the ships' flags.
This service was attended by the Tasen and several other Indians,
all of whom showed great respect and attention. I then went
through the ceremonies of taking possession of the country with
all the prescribed formalities and set up a Cross, over twenty
feet in height, charging the natives not to over-set it; which they
promised to observe.30
When all this was finished, I returned on board accompanied
by the chief and one of his sons, who is also chief of another
village. I kept them to dinner with me, and during the meal
explained to them that I must weigh and get under sail directly
it was over. As they imagined that this was for the purpose of
proceeding into the harbour, they showed great pleasure, but,
on learning that it was in order to begin our journey homewards
for Spain, they became very sorrowful and with much insistence
begged me not to leave so soon, but to bring the frigate inside
the harbour, assuring me that the anchorage was both safe and
convenient, and that they would supply good store of nutria skins.
As, however, our business was not that to which they are accustomed, we got under weigh at 4 that afternoon, parting from the
inhabitants with considerable regret on each side. Indeed, along
the whole of this coast populated by Indians, I do not believe that
one will meet with kinder people, more civilized in essentials or
of better disposition.31
In general, the women are well made, and not bad looking.
Many of them do not wear the labret through the lower lip, but
(30) The chart of Puerto de Florida Blanca, herewith reproduced, shows
plainly where the act of possession was taken by the position of the cross.
It was on Graham Island due south of Lucy Island.—H. R. W.
(31) The Haidas, when first contacted by the whites, wei-e apparently
quite friendly, but soon became treacherous and dishonest in retaliation for
similar treatment accorded them by many of the fur-traders.—W. A. N. 1938 The Journal of Jacinto Caamano. 221
their dress is less modest than those of Bucarely, for their cloak
alone serves to cover their breasts, and they seem quite careless
whether it does so or not. The dialect appears to be the same as
at Bucarely. I was not able to learn much about their customs
and managed only to gather that they practise monogamy. Their
houses, built of boards, are spacious, clean and well kept. They
are protected against the attacks of possible raiders by large
wooden towers standing on steep rocks, and, for such occasions
are provided with a couple of pretty good brass swivels, some
muskets, long bows, darts, and daggers. Ordinarily, however,
they carry none of these weapons; except the spears used for
killing the nutria, of which they always take a sufficient number
with them in their canoes.
An Indian youth, aged about sixteen to eighteen, of pleasant
appearance, who had come on the first day with Cania, asked
leave to sleep that night on board the ship. This I allowed, and
the next day he told me that he wished to go with us. I said
that I had no objection, but, fearing that his request was
prompted merely by the desire of seeing strange countries, on
the understanding that he was to be repatriated, as had been the
case already on several occasions with British vessels in this
district, which conveyed them to Macao, I explained that if he
came with us, it would be not for Macao but for Spain, and for
all time, as I should never be returning again to his country or to
see Cania.
On hearing this he remained some time in thought and then
intimated that he preferred staying at home. Then he seemed
to turn the proposition over again in his mind for, a second time,
he expressed in most determined manner his wish to come. I
told him, repeatedly, that in such case he would never return to
his native land, but was unable to shake his resolution. On the
eve of sailing, he begged me to give him some clothing, as he
intended to leave his nutria cloak behind. I gave him a shirt and
trousers, also a piece of serge, whereupon he threw his own
garments into one of the canoes last remaining alongside, and
that too not belonging to his own village. Later on, during the
time we spent in surveying these coasts, several of his compatriots endeavoured to induce him to remain with them. Not
only, however, did he disregard all their persuasions, but he also 222 Henry R. Wagner and W. A. Newcombe.        July
avoided their company, shunned their conversation and would
even rail at them.
The trees, plants, etc., that we noticed, or that our botanist
found growing near the shore where there is generally good soil,
or along the sandy beaches, were the same as those of Bucarely,
but more abundant, and of finer growth, especially the plants.
The Puerto de Florida Blanca [Parry Passage], in the southern part of Isla Langara, off the northern coast of Isla Reyna
Carlota [Graham Island] is situated in Lat. 54° 14' North, and
Long. 29° 33' West (from San Bias).32 It is of very limited
extent, there being room for no more than one good-sized, or two
smaller vessels, but the anchorage is sheltered from winds all
round the compass.
There is good riding, also, off the eastern end of Isla Navarro
[Lucy Island], in from sixteen to twenty-five fathoms. As, however, the tidal streams set through the western entrance at a rate
of over three knots, forming strong eddies, it is advisable to
anchor where the depth is from sixteen to eighteen fathoms, on
a bottom of sand and gravel.
A vessel can also enter Puerto de Florida Blanca by this
western entrance: indeed, I consider the latter preferable to the
eastern one. The actual position of the ship, and direction of
the wind, will of course determine which may be the more convenient. Isla Langara is higher and more hilly than the neighbouring portion of Isla Reyna Carlota, which is here flat and
thickly wooded.
(The concluding part of the Journal will appear in
the October issue of the Quarterly.)
(32) Actually in latitude 54° 11' and 132° 59' west of Greenwich.
Caamaiio's latitudes are about three minutes in excess of those on the latest
Admiralty charts.    The longitude is 2° too far west.—H. R. W. THE NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF.
The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to the Year
1800. By Henry R. Wagner. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1937. Two volumes: pp. xi.,
543.    $20.
For many years Mr. H. R. Wagner has devoted his leisure to
historical research. His chosen field has been the advance of the
Spaniards northward from Mexico. His ambition is, as stated
in the foreword, " to publish a translation of some original
journal of every important expedition by sea to that coast, which
had not yet seen its way into print." In pursuance of this purpose he began in 1923 the publication of such journals in the
California Historical Quarterly. These with others were in
1929, issued as Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast of
America in the Sixteenth Century. Meanwhile his interest had
broadened internationally to include The Voyage around the
World of Sir Francis Drake. Later it stretched geographically
to the Spanish Explorations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Desiring a yet larger field he took a flyer into the imaginary
geography of California and British Columbia.
Out of the historical interest came the study of the maps and
charts in which the explorers or some draughtsman or professional map-maker had set down pictorially and so as to be easily
grasped by the eye the results achieved by the voyage and the
advance in general geographical knowledge. Truly, as Mr.
Wagner says: " There is nothing that has such an air of verisimilitude as a map." It induces the belief that some one has
really been there and seen the country depicted. Dean Swift
doubtless felt this when in his Gulliver's Travels he included
maps showing the location of the land of Brobingnag, the islands
of Laputa and Lilliput, and the country of the Houyhnhnms.
The purpose of these volumes is to show the evolution of the
cartography of the western coast of North America, which is to
the author synonymous with the Northwest Coast, during the
three centuries after Balboa (and not stout Cortes, as Keats has
it) stared at the Pacific, " silent upon a rock in Darien." He
carries the story down to the epoch-making exploration of Captain George Vancouver, whose work gave the complete picture
223 224 F. W. HOWAY. July
of the mainland side of the continent from Cape Flattery to
The first volume sketches in thirty-nine chapters the Spanish,
Russian, British, French, and American voyages down to Vancouver's definitive exploration and survey of 1792-94. The emphasis is on the map record of their work; the incidents of the
voyages serve merely as pegs on which to hang the cartographical
exposition or criticism. Beginning with the Waldseemiiller globe
gores of 1507 and those of Schoner in 1524, which reflect the
error we still perpetuate in the word " Indian," the author
reviews the state of geographical knowledge, or what passed
therefor, and completes the background down to 1533 when
Cortes sent out the expedition that probably discovered the peninsula of Lower California. Then follow the explorations of
Ulloa and others which changed the original " island " of California into a peninsula and disclosed bit by bit, though dimly, its
western coast, until Vizcaino's great voyage of 1602 threw light
as far as Point Reyes at least. Myths are proverbially hard to
kill; around all these voyages and many later ones cling the
" Strait of Anian " and the " Seven Cities."
As Spain now thought that the knowledge obtained was sufficient for the protection of the rich Manila galleons, orders were
issued that no further expeditions of discovery be dispatched.
The urge of the Northwest Passage, so strong in England, was
not felt in Spain; in fact many believed that efforts to find it
should be discouraged, as its discovery might let loose on the
Pacific a horde of foreign adventurers. Mr. Wagner passes
lightly over Drake's voyage for the reason that it did not produce
any marked effect on the cartography. From 1602 to 1774 Spain
therefore made no attempt to push back the line of the unknown.
But the arm-chair explorers and the theoretical geographers were
busy. Then it was that de Fuca and de Fonte made their
famous paper voyages; but they had to wait for a cartographer
until Delisle and Buache in the middle of the eighteenth century
strove to fit their fictions with the known facts. The result was
a choice cartographical farrago.
This portion of the book is illustrated by thirty-three maps,
selected as types out of some 640, which are individually described
at length, together with information upon their draughtsmen and
publishers, their measurements and places of deposit.   But even 1938 The Northwest Bookshelf. 225
this immense number, we are told, does not by any means represent all the maps that have been examined. Many have been
omitted as being mere duplicates or servile copies. The intensive
search that has been made is shown by the list of repositories
from which they have come. The mere physical work involved
must have been enormous. All of these maps have been subjected to close examination and collation. Minute correspondences or discrepancies have thus been discovered and therefrom
Mr. Wagner has reached conclusions regarding their origins and
the circumstances surrounding their publication that will be accepted by students without any hesitation and with grateful
thanks for such painstaking and meticulous work.
The activity of the Russians, following in the path of Bering,
aroused Spain from her lethargy; and that brings the story to
our shores. From 1769 the fever of mission building raged in
California; but to the northward Spain was content with discovery and the empty formality of taking possession. In 1774,
Juan Perez was dispatched from San Bias with instructions to
proceed as far as 60° North and claim the country for the Spanish
Crown. He landed nowhere during the voyage, but he saw parts
of Queen Charlotte Islands, the neighbouring shores, and the
vicinity of Nootka Sound. He was followed by Hezeta's expedition of 1775, in which Bodega in the little Sonora reached southern Alaska and took possession.
In 1776 England had again become interested in the possibility of a passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific. As a
result Captain James Cook undertook his third and last voyage
in which he discovered Nootka Sound, and by casual barter for
sea-otter skins laid the foundation of the maritime fur-trade.
But before the trading vessels began to arrive Spain launched
another exploring expedition—that of Arteaga—which in 1779
took possession in southern Alaska, explored in that region, and
thence northward to the Aleutian Islands, covering much the
same ground as Captain Cook had done in the preceding year.
The French, who had lost Canada in 1763 sent out La Perouse in
1785, apparently with some plan of gaining a foothold on the
western shore of America. By this time the maritime fur-trade
had commenced. At first it was confined to the English, though
their vessels sometimes masqueraded under other flags. The
citizens of the United States entered the maritime trade in 1788; 226 F. W. Howay. July
and in 1791 the French ventured into it. This influx determined
Spain to assert her claim to the coast, a determination which took
visible form in the establishment of the settlement at Nootka
Sound and in the seizure of Meare's ships. Then followed more
Spanish voyages, including those of Quimper, Eliza, Galiano, and
Valdes in, into, and through the Strait of Fuca and its connecting
waters. The difficulty with Spain arising out of the seizure of
those British vessels, though settled by the Nootka Convention,
left an aftermath that required a representative of Britain on the
coast. In consequence Captain George Vancouver was sent out
with instructions (over and above his diplomatic duties) to make
a thorough exploration of the mainland to ascertain whether a
Northwest Passage were lurking anywhere in its shadows.
Before dealing with the seven maps which Mr. Wagner has
selected as typical for the period from 1774 to 1793 and which he
has chosen out of some 220 that are listed, reference may be made
to a number of historical inferences and suggestions which he
has made in this portion of the book. Some of these appear to
this reviewer rather startling. Knowing the author's meticulously careful work it is presumed that he has support for his
views which unfortunately the absence of foot-notes prevents the
reader from examining. For example here are some statements
dealing with Captain Cook that may be challenged: that Cook
had instructions other than those printed in his Voyage (p. 185);
that the return of Omai furnished the " ostensible excuse " for
the voyage (p. 183); that Cook had with him a copy of Mourelle's
journal of the 1775 expedition which had been confidentially sent
by the Spanish to the British government (p. 179); that some
ulterior motive underlay the omission, in the early newspaper
accounts of his voyage, of his visit to the Northwest Coast (p.
188); that Arteaga had no knowledge of Cook's voyage (p. 190),
though the Spanish government knew of its intended departure
and its purpose three years before he sailed from San Bias (p.
191). It is not clear to this reviewer what the author means by
the " diversion " of Cook's voyage " to the coasts of Oregon and
Washington," and the motives behind it, inasmuch as the Introduction to Cook's Third Voyage, p. xxix., and Kitson's Captain
James Cook, p. 345, show that from the outset the expedition was
planned as one of discovery.   Again there is a suggestion that 1938 The Northwest Bookshelf. 227
the impounding of the crew's journals and the delay in the publication of the Voyage arose from some desire on the part of the
British government to conceal the discoveries (p. 189). The
men's journals were impounded, not " taken away " as stated on
page 189; three at any rate were not turned in: Rickman's, Zimmerman's, and Ellis's. For an explanation, why is it necessary
to look beyond the experiences which the government had had
with the Forsters and Newbery in regard to unauthorized
accounts of the second voyage? The Introduction to the Third
Voyage gives the reasons for the delay in the appearance of the
work: the preparation of the charts, the reduction of Weber's
drawings, the engraving of the plates, the obtaining of the special
paper therefor, etc. It concludes: " When all these circumstances are taken into consideration we trust we shall hear no
more of the delay " (p. lxxxii.). In view of this it would seem
that the suggestion (p. 189) that the delay was in some way connected with the future fur-trade is a trifle far-fetched. It may
be added that the official account of the second voyage did not
appear until more than two years after the ships had returned to
England; and that though the French National Assembly in 1791
ordered the publication of La Perouse's Voyage on a scale similar
to that of Cook's the volumes were not ready for the public until
1797. In this connection the statement (p. 189) that the official
account was " edited " by the Rev. Dr. Douglas may convey a
wrong impression. The introduction clearly states that Cook's
portion of the work came to his hands ready for publication, and
that King's portion was placed in his possession before that
officer left for the West Indies, which we know was in 1781
(p. lxxix.).
We come now to the cartographical records of this period,
1774-1793. These begin with the map of Bodega's voyage of
1775, though Jeffery's chart of that exploration contains references to the exploration of Perez in the preceding year. After
some detailed plans of Bucareli Bay comes the map of Cook's
discoveries in the Anonymous (Rickman's) Journal which, so far
as the coast is concerned, Mr. Wagner shows to be a composite
affair, partly based on that in Barrington's Miscellanies. Here
the learned author has fallen into what this reviewer believes to
be an error. He suggests (p. 346) that this book was printed
from some manuscript sent back before the ships returned to 228 F. W. Howay. July
England. But the account itself carries down to the arrival of
the vessels at Deptf ord; and, moreover, the map shows the homeward route as far as the Straits of Sunda, and only stops there
because no more of the earth's surface is shown. The list of
maps makes no reference to that contained in Ellis's Voyage of
Cook and Clerke, London, 1782, which appears to be a copy of the
map in the Anonymous (Rickman's) Journal. The map in the
French translation of that Journal, Paris, 1783, appears to this
reviewer to be redrawn from that in the English edition of 1781,
rather than from Kitchin's of 1780 (pp. 348, 346). The statement on page 351 that there seems to be no record of a voyage to
the coast by John Henry Cox is scarcely accurate. The account
of Cox's voyage is to be found in a rare book, Observations and
Remarks made during a Voyage to . . . the Fox Islands on the
North West Coast of America . . . in the brig Mercury commanded by John Henry Cox, by Lieut. George Mortimer, Dublin,
1791. From the time of Cook to that of Dixon, a period of about
ten years—1778-1787—the maps listed are principally sketches
of bays and inlets, made by Johnstone and Duncan, and published
by the well-known Alexander Dalrymple. Unfortunately, the
many sketches made by James Colnett, 1787-88, still remain in
manuscript, though it is possible that they may soon be published.
Then follow the maps and sketches by Portlock and Dixon, 1786-
87. Portlock's map is principally concerned with the vicinity of
Cook's Inlet, Prince William's Sound, and the Alaskan coast, but
leaves a great blank almost to Sitka. Dixon's shows roughly the
northern end of Vancouver Island and a general outline of Queen
Charlotte Islands, whose insularity he inferred, but did not prove.
It leaves the opposite tortuous mainland shore merely a couple of
capes connected by dotted lines. In 1790, Meares produced his
composite map, with its supposititious " track of the American
sloop Washington in the autumn of 1789," in which as Mr.
Wagner points out he took credit for discoveries made by others
—conduct quite in keeping with his character. La Perouse's
maps of 1797, based on his voyage of 1786-87 have, of course, no
original information upon the mainland of northern British
Columbia. The Spanish voyages of Lopez de Haro, 1790, and
Eliza, 1791, furnish us with the earliest maps of the Strait of
Fuca. It is not until Vancouver's careful examination and survey in 1792—93-94, that the labyrinthine mainland coast from 1938 The Northwest Bookshelf. 229
Puget Sound to Dixon Entrance and beyond finds its place in the
cartography of Northwest America. Then for the first time that
complicated network of inlets, bays, and islands is shown as a
complete and connected whole. The American traders made but
few maps or plans; Ingraham's manuscript sketches are included
in the list, but those of Haswell have been omitted. In any event
they were superseded by Vancouver's monumental work.
A most valuable part of the book is the two chapters, pages
371 to 525, dealing with " Place names still in use " and " Obsolete place names." They represent a vast amount of reading,
comparison, and patient examination. Every student has felt
the necessity for a compilation of identifications of places now
bearing different names from those originally conferred, and has
also puzzled over the origin of names at present in use and their
possible association with some person or event. In this connection, as Mr. Wagner shows from time to time, one notes that these
names frequently contain much information, especially where, as
in the nomenclature of the Spanish explorations, they are based
on saints' days and holy days. In such a host of identifications
covering more than 150 pages it would be humanly impossible
that all of them should meet with general and unqualified acceptance. The identification of Boca de Florida Blanca as the Nico-
mekl River (p. 454) is at variance with the local view, which
regards it as a groping for the Fraser River, whose existence had
been surmised by Eliza but not verified. (See Viage hecho por
las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana, p. 64.) Boundary Bay is, of course,
in British Columbia, though by a slip of the pen it is said (p. 454)
to be in the State of Washington. The identification of Islas de
Apodaca as Bowen and nearby islands (p. 427) is in accord with
general opinion; but Punta de la Bodega is usually thought to be
Stanley Park and not Point Atkinson (p. 433). It is surprising
to meet the suggestion that the northerly of Narvaez's Islas de
Langara may be Westham Island (p. 466) seeing that it is south
of both Sea and Lulu Islands. Mr. Wagner identifies Ingraham's
Magee Sound as being, perhaps, Big Bay on the west side of
Graham Island (p. 469). This, however, seems doubtful in view
of the detailed sketch of the sound which is included in Ingraham's manuscript journal. That sketch shows a large island in
the centre of the sound, and four inlets leading therefrom, which
would point rather to Port Kuper than to Big Bay.    He gives the 230 F. W. Howay. July
latitude as 52° 46', which does not suit either of these places. It
may be added that the map of British Columbia, 1933, shows only
two inlets in Big Bay and no island. Magee Sound was named
after Captain James Magee of the Margaret, who was also one
of the owners of the Hope (see Joseph Ingraham's manuscript
journal of the voyage of the Hope, June 29, 1791, and August 7,
1792). It would appear that two identifications have been made
of Cape Mazari or Mezari: one as Cape Lookout (p. 361); and
the other as Tillamook Head (p. 473).
Despite these minor criticisms, one rises from a perusal of the
work with a sense, vague and indefinite, of the vast amount of
study that its preparation has entailed; and when one considers
the overwhelming mass of facts and figures, names and dates, one
can only marvel at the high level of accuracy that has been
attained. Plainly it has been a labour of love, for mere human
patience alone would, long before the end was reached, have succumbed under the strain of collecting, comparing, and collating
the maps and books that have been examined.
Though the work has been referred to as a book, it actually
consists of two volumes paged consecutively. The first volume
contains the discussion of the various voyages and their maps;
the second is really one of reference. The list of maps is arranged in chronological and alphabetical order and numbered
consecutively, thus aiding the reader in referring to them; and
their inclusion in a separate volume enables their easy consultation. They are made even more accessible by a fine and complete
index. To complete the volumes a bibliography is added, which
is tied in with the maps by reference to their numbers in the list.
The book is printed in the best style of the University of California Press. It is remarkably free from typographical errors,
not one having been noticed by this reviewer. The general index
at the end of the first volume is a model of what an index should
be. As the place-names, both obsolete and in use, are arranged
alphabetically, they require no index.
F. W. Howay.
New Westminster, B.C.
Printed by Ciiablks F. Banfield, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
600-738-4886 We
Organized October 31st, 1922.
His Honour Enic W. Hamber, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
OFFICERS, 1937-38.
Hon. G. M. Weir       .... Honorary President,
W. N. Sage  President.
J. S. Plaskett  1st Vice-President.
nETH A. Waites  - 2nd Vice-President.
E. W. McMULLEN     - Honorary Treasin
Muriel R. Cree   ----- Honorary Secretary.
Robie L. Reid  Archivist.
F. W. Howay J. M. Coady H. T. Nation
J. C. Goodfellow B. A. McKelvie
To encoura;.: h and stimulate public interest in history;
to promote the pre c sites, buildings, relics,
natural features, and other objects and places of historical interest, and to
publish historical sketches, studies, and documents.
Ordinary members pay a fee of $2 annually in advance.   The fiscal year
commences on the 1;r October.   All members in good standing receive
the British Columbia Historical Quart- ut further charge.
All correspondence and fees should be addressed in care of the Secretary,
Provincial Archives, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.


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